New skin overnight

When one finds a solution that is transformative to the skin- especially the face- one is obligated by the moral compass of the universe to share. As it’s Saturday night, the loneliest night of the week (name the movie) Little did I know this is a well-known fact among 2 groups in my circle that to this point, haven’t seen fit to share: movie studio make-up people and plastic surgeons.

Auqafor. One word that is the nearest thing to a miracle cure for less than $10 US in jug and less than $5 in a tube. I also now have small vials that I carry in my purse.

give your skin some love

give your skin some love

Plastic surgeons swear by this after any treatments involving lasers, as do estheticians who use it for healing of many types of skin damage. At the movie studio, the lead makeup artists give it as take-home ointments for celebs who have dry or damaged skin.

Me? I discovered it for my face after using it for two years on my feet. During an appointment for a pedicure, when the pedicurist politely suggested I apply a thick coating on my heels, slip on socks and let it sit for several hours. I did it, and was thrilled to see the thick lines start to mend and the small cracks go nearly invisible. I took it one step further, and started applying it before workouts, and then at night-leaving it on all night long. The result is my forty-something feet look like my 10-year old daughters, for which I, and my husband are very grateful.

Now, for the face. After moving to a high-desert area known as Coeur d’Alene, I have struggled with this back and forth dry, mostly dry, very dry then cracking phenomenon. It’s not pretty. It’s been depressing. My particular areas of affliction is the area on crease areas on either side of my lips. I’ve been told this skin is particularly thin and sensitive.

I found this to be true. I’d be going along with my normal routine and then wake up one day with my left side completely dry and cracking. This would last for two to four days, ensuring any type of make-up impossible- including the moistest of foundations. After months of trying everything (more moisturizer, then less) I said screw it- I’m going to apply Aquafor to my face even if I clog my pores (which hasn’t happened since high school).

As an aside, one of the eternal no-no’s youthful teens are told is to never, EVER, put Vaseline-like ointment on the face, because it will clog the pores spawning a strawberry patch worth of red bumps. Perhaps. But as an adult, I can tell you, I am well beyond the zit-growing stage and into the ‘let’s preserve my youthful appearance stage.’

Back to the Aquafor. When I woke the following morning, the skin was still rough, but the red and the dry were reduced by 50%. That day, I put on yet another coat of the stuff, applied my foundation and it stayed without peeling, flaking or cracking (bonus!). That night and the following morning, I did the same thing. What happened was this: the dry skin started sloughing offe- and it was easily removed with my finger. I then used my soft luffa pad (made for the face) and it just washed off. Then—perfect skin!

It’s a miracle, seriously. After this little experiment, I thought- huh. What if I applied it to me entire face–another no-no. For three days, I put it everywhere except my eyelids, because I don’t want stickiness. I even put it on my jaw and neck. The proof was when I went to my 20-year young hairdresser who isn’t known for holding her tongue. First she said I lost weight (which I had, thank you very much) but then she commented on my skin. She’d noticed the dry skin previously (but had not said a word) and proclaimed my skin looks five years younger. Rog agrees.

So there it is. You can get it almost anywhere- Walgreens, RiteAid, you name it. But I will say once again, the Vaseline doesn’t have the same effect- because I tried. For some reason, known only to the chemists in white coats, Aquafor is the bomb. Needless to say, I have a case in my garage, because if the zombie apocalypse breaks out, I’m going to go down with great skin.

 

 

 

Gym’s, Gerry’s and the petri dish of life

Going to my gym is like experiencing a cornucopia of life. A mixture of people, sizes and persuasions along with contradictions and for me, curiosity.

kroc center

Who gets a gym that looks like it belongs in Aspen? Me and 14,000 other people, that’s who

Maybe it’s because this place is a multi-purpose center as opposed to a strictly iron and class oriented gym. This place is rock climbing and swimming, theatre and basketball courts. I’m sure there is more, but my curiosity taps out where the day care center stops. It starts back up as I approach mile three on thick rubber bottom-treadmill and the sweat is dripping in my, blurring the letters on my Kindle. My mind starts to wander and I look around. Out of my left eye, I spy an older man two treadmills down about 5’7 who has a crunched right hand. At first I only sense this, because he’s having extraordinary difficulty pushing the buttons. In front of me is a younger couple that are engaged in the type of back and forth that only occurs in the dating phase. Married couples, FYI, go separate directions, or if they stay together, move with military-style precision. They are here to get things done, not flirt.

I move on from the young couple. They are boring me and honestly, if I have to watch people flirt on the treadmill, my only recourse is to give myself more pain as a distraction.

Downstairs, over the railing, I see a late-twenties man rolling his wheelchair. He works here. Once I overhead him talking to a group of elderly patrons. He said a snowboarding accident left him in his present state. He wheels everywhere with vigor, being much more helpful to the senior citizens who occupy this place than I would normally expect a late-twenties employee to be. (Nothing against late twenties, mind you. It’s just that a person who is half the height of a granny tends to be a) non-threatening, b) interested in what life’s lessons are all about and c) funny. If you have lost the use of your legs, along the path, I believe a decision is made whether or not to become bitter. And if that’s not the choice, happiness usually is. Have you ever noticed how happy disabled people are? It’s like it was a blessing. But I digress.)

Then comes the group of big, bald and…(no, not bloaty, I know you thought I was going there), but hard. How can that be? You ask. I can answer because in my alter life, I am the quizat haderachk. These men are mostly forties to sixties, and own their bigness and baldness. As I ramp up my treadmill to 7% and then 11%, I’m in awe of how these men own it. Actually, I have to give credit to my friend from LA, Mark S., a snowboarding, surfing CEO of not one but two companies (he’s single, but has attachment issues, sorry ladies). In any case, he will look at you when you completely err (e.g. fart in a closed-windowed car) and say “Claim it, bro.”

These men, I watch them and then claim it. Claim their bigness that is so big, their tummies is one, enormous round entity that stretches the t-shirt like a balloon ready to go into the stratosphere. They strut. They laugh. They do the man-bro hug and pat each other’s back twice with a bap-bap. I must say, I applaud it. They are so full of confidence it almost makes them appealing. Almost.

Then we have another group of Gerries (what I call older women, Gerries—with a j–) is short for geriatric. Rog thinks it’s insulting but in my posse of grandmas who I hang with (thing church and service-based activities), a Gerry is really an affectionate term, one of endearment. (e.g. oh that Gerry si so cute driving her scooter, oh, that’s a hot Gerry, she’s working that lace skirt).

In any case, these place has the female equivalent of the balding, big men. They are the not-so-well preserved women who are trying really, REALLY, hard. (yes, I shouted, but more of a nice emphasis cuz I like these women). This area, in Northern Idaho, isn’t about pretense, plastic surgery or make-up. When I’m talking try hard, I’m referring to a completely different try, one that requires my complete respect and more than a little bit of awe.

To wit (invoking my high school English lit class), one woman in her late sixties, her face an unfolded piece of parchment paper that attests to her a lifetime in the northern Idaho sun, has poured her skinny self into a pair of stretchy leggings and a skin tight halter top. Rock climbing shoes without sock are the only other piece of clothing she puts on before scrambling her little superhero butt into the harness. She shimmies up the rock wall, putting the out of shape fourteen year-old male’s to shame.

That girl has claimed it. Dang. I look around wanting to claim something of my own.

As I get off the stationary walking apparatus of pain, I head directly to the weight section. There I run into a wall of Gerries who have commandeered the machines, many with their personal trainer (compliments of the center). They have their small white pieces of paper, attached to a clipboard and their minder. (I’m borrowing that from the Scientologists. I like it. It fits. I hope I don’t get sued. If the government of the US doesn’t have the funds or gumption to sue the Scientologists, I’m pretty sure I don’t). In any case, the minder keeps tabs on very push and press, pull and dip. Nary a sweat drop in sight, but I tell you what I do see. A lot of looking around. Gazing—at the opposite sex!

I ponder this as I continue into the free weight section where I’m in the company of only one other woman (who is definitely not a Gerry) and a whole lot of maleness under thirty. I’m okay with this, but as I mention to my husband later than evening, I’m confused as to what to do and how to be. My natural, nice, talkative self creates the impression that I want to talk, instead of working out, and that my talking is a forward to getting into bed. So after realizing I was creating a legion of potential stalkers who would follow me around from bench to pole, I tried the other approach. I stared straight ahead, barely making eye contact, and only doing so when I needed to verify bench or item was available. I’m terribly conflicted about this, because I think avoiding someone’s gaze is rude and I run this risk of thinking I’m all that (which, if you saw me at the gym, would know I’m very little of all that).

I’m reminded of what Rog told me earlier in the week. “Who cares if they look or talk to you? Why are you even thinking about this? Enjoy a younger man talking to you. It’s not going to last forever.”

What the…? Laughing while foreseeing my old-age Gerry-ness coming into play, I continue working out, trying to find a balance between being focused and polite but distant and not-b—chy. The good news is I have better things to focus on, like the man who has been burned on half of his body, and the woman plastered with so many tattoos I can barely see the skin. She doesn’t look very happy but has an amazing body. This then makes me wonder if I have to be grumpy and focused to have a great body.

Closing the locker on my things, I wipe some sweat off and head out. The meanderings of my time at the gym. I came. I exercised. I pondered. I realized I don’t know half of what I need to be wise, but if the Gerry’s around me are any example, I’m going to have a lot of time to figure it out.

Enlightenment & fasting

S teve Jobs has been on my mind; not for his fame, fortune or black mock turtlenecks, but for his use of fasting for the goal of enlightenment.

Let’s think about this for a minute. Fasting has been used for thousands of years for a whole multitude of reasons. Inspiration (think the original Buddha), mental and physical strength (athletes) enlightenment (yogi’s, Jesus) rendering the mind & heart humble and pure (Saint Augustine)  cleansing of the body and soul (millions of unnamed people). The length inspirational quoteand means are as varied as the people and the times. Jobs tended to use the fasting that skipped everything but juices (not to be confused with a cleanse, which is about losing weight but not enlightenment). A fast is generally considered eliminating all food and living on water, although I know people modify this to address dietary and health requirements and/or restrictions.

Whatever the form and function, a “fast” has a purpose, and end-goal if you will, that is ever-present and top-of-mind throughout. Then, when the goal is achieved—vis a vis the sought after enlightenment has occurred, then the fast ends.

Let’s go back to Jobs. Carrot juice being his fasting method of choice, if he had a problem to solve, he’d go on a juice fast until he received the answer (or enlightenment) he sought. (As a side-note, I’ve read and experienced that those who don’t believe in a God tend to use the word enlightenment versus received an answer- which denotes an answer from ‘someone.’ Perhaps this is why fasting itself is so universal—because a universal response is being given at the individual level, and thereby the promise of the fast is achieved).

I love the yoga teachers that throughout my twenty-year study have often gone full-on fasting—not even water—which of course means it has very physical limitations. So too have the martial arts instructors I’ve worked with over the years. The parallel experiences and stories have mirrored those who have removed certain foods from their diets-the difference, I might emphasize, was speed and clarity.

The voice of clarity

Now, I made this promise not to get too personal with this blog, but I have no issue telling the world what I have personally fasted about, because it’s pretty much anything important. For inspiration before a business meeting, college exam, plot ideas, who to date and/or marry, whether or not I should move, accept a client or job, to have or not have a baby. Those are personal. I’ve fasted for others, parents, siblings, even strangers, like those suffering from miscarriages of justice, the survivors or victims of attacks or accidents.

Why, you might ask. It’s because as a person who believes in the power of fasting for others and self, I also believe in the power of positive energy. At the subatomic level, our bodies are composed of energy (as identified in 1951). We can send out this to others regardless of distance. At the simple level, our heart pushes out an energy field 12 feet from our bodies.

It goes like this

  1. Start with the intention. Every self-help guru, yoga instructor, pastor, sales executive and even Oprah, will tell you it starts with the verbalization and visualization of the intent or goal. What is it? What do you desire? What do you need? This is what you are putting out there to the universe if you will, and if you believe in Deity, it’s that entity. Visualize and verbalize. State it and be clear.
  2. Prepare to fast and make the commitment to a timeframe. This is the optimal way to do it…as in, three meals, a dinner, overnight and then breakfast and lunch the following day. Twenty-four hours is a good starting point and there is a methodology. As said by one of my martial arts instructors (an 8th degree who was as agile as a mountain lion but as peaceful as a cool breeze), the goal is to bring the body to submission of the mind, and the mind itself to a place where it stops making noise. Depriving the body of food physically weakens it. Only when this occurs does the mind become quiet. Once the mind is quiet, then inspiration can occur.Now, that said, sometimes it takes some of us (ahem) more time to physically and mentally settle down than others. Honestly, I’ve witnessed that vegans who refrain from caffeine are simply a lot more chill than the average adrenaline junkie (self include). So, when I say that one sometimes needs to prepare for a fast, I’m being serious. If I’ve had a lot of chocolate lately (which has caffeine) I have to ease off so I won’t go through withdrawals. Then I have to clean out my body (by further eliminating bad stuff like sugar) and then I’m ready to be clean physically.For those that live a cleaner diet than I do, fasting is probably easier and produces quicker or stronger efforts.
  3. Constantly reiterate and repeat the intention throughout the fast. Think about it. Consider it. Roll it over and over in your mind. The more you think about the problem you are wanting to solve or outcome you desire, the greater the expansion of your thoughts. This is where the ideas suddenly come from—or the enlightenment. Many have referred to this as a sudden burst of light. For writers, many times this comes in dreams. Others have the ‘a-ha’ moment that seemingly comes from nowhere.

 

Does it last forever?

What if you fast for a day, even two, are weak and weary, and have received nothing. Nada. No answer. No inspiration. You are frustrated and think the whole notion is bunk.

Actually, a phrase exists for this condition, and it’s called a stupor of thought. That, in fact, is the answer. The answer “no” comes in many forms, and this “blackness” as it’s sometimes called, is the clearest form of answer possible. Should I go out with this person—stupor of thought—is a no. If it were a yes, then it would be a warm, peaceful feeling.

A yoga instructor told me about sending her child to a school that had been recommended, but she wasn’t feeling good about it. She fasted for a day or so and spent concentrated time in meditation (for additional clarity). While she didn’t receive an answer of what school to go to (she hadn’t asked that), she received a strong feeling—described as a sickness in her stomach—every time she thought about sending her child to that school. The longer she fasted and meditated, and thought about this option, the more acute her feelings became. Once she visualized not sending her child to this school, she felt peace she described as a complete calm. That was a validation of her prior answer.

As with anything—exercise or a new job, fasting becomes easier with practice, to the point of becoming second nature. Many people I know fast on a regular basis, either once a month, once a week (usually on a particular day where they can plan a day free from a business meeting luncheon or skipping a workout).

I’d like to end this with a flippant line, such as–the worst case is you have freed your body of toxins, but the reality is that flippancy reduces the power of the fast and the answers that come along with it. We have been put here to learn and grow, and that requires us to push, achieve and fully live to our potential. Fasting is one tool for us to reach the heights awaiting us. All we have to do is take the initiative and jump.

Chocolate addicts, UTIs and a fix

Not a sexy topic to be sure, but lets face it. When one consumes massive amounts of sugar, but it by mainlining (alcohol) or the slower but no less effective chewing kind (candy or the less adulterated kind, like processed bread that eventually turns into sugar), one needs a fast, effective solution for the sugar-induced UTI (urinary tract infection) that is the consequence of short-term joy.

I have found that I can cope with nearly anything my UT (urinary tract) throws at me to stop my evil ways. I first went to sugar rehab while in college, when I was in the dorm room shower and saw blood coming from (down there). I was nearly in tears I was in so much pain, the ejection of pure acid out my peep-hole enough to make me beg for three more calculus classes. Worse, my mother comes out to take me to the doctor, and he asks if I got it by having sex. (I was an undefiled virgin if you must know), which he soon attested to in front of my mother (whew!).

He then probed the causes. I wasn’t overweight (under actually) and had kept off the “freshman 15” by drinking 3 64 oz diet cokes a day. Hmm. Yes. I bought into the zero calorie marketing hype. LIttle did I know that the man-made acids were not conducive to a function UT. BTW, if you are thinking that women alone are afflicted by this–no. Men have all the joys of UTIs along with the she-counterparts.

“No more sodas,” intoned the doctor. He didn’t need to tell me. I’d so destroyed my insides that 10 years later I learned the lining of my walls had been permanently damaged. And by permanently, what that means is that if I have 3 gulps of soda–any kind–I will get a UTI (more commonly identified as a bladder infection) within 15 minutes. UGH.

To keep this short and to get you to a solution, keep two things in mind: reactive and preventative. The former is: I’m in pain, or I’ve just had a few too many choc bars, desserts or whatever and by the time I get home I’m going to be screaming. For these instances, you need to keep several tabs of Probiotics in your wallet, purse or pocket. These little gems are the equivalent of a urinary tract napalm explosion. (I’ve found this brand in particular works best). I’m talking scorched earth in 15 minutes. Unless you have gone to CA (Chocoholics Anonymous) you must use these white magic pills as your sponsor.

Now, if you are a thinking person (which all my readers are) you are going to take the smart, proactive, never get caught with my privates-on-fire situation, right? Right. Those people will do the following:

every day, once a day, take 2 cranberry gelcaps, (for UT health) 3 alka greens (for PH balance and alkalinity, which do a whole lot more for you than can possibly be explained in this blog) and finally, you will take an alkidophilus. I did this all best preventative solutionthrough Europe this last summer and not once in weeks did I have issue. And trust me, I should have been wailing through 15 different countries I was easting so much sugar and chocolate.

Now, the above two situations are normal–but sometimes, I’m in critical, life or death pain–and by this I mean I wake up in the middle of the night. Here’s what I do. I load up on all of the above and power all four items down with as much water as I can possibly keep inside me. Sometimes I have to take a hot bath- but that’s probably more for mental help that I’m so stupid as to get myself in a college-age predicament yet again.

Tip: buy the cranberry, probiotic at Costco– great brands and inexpensive. the others I get on line through amazon.

Deleting comments on WordPress

This is for all the people like me who don’t blog for a living (as in, we don’t make money off it). I have yet to receive a comment indicating that a person has purchased a book or made a decision to hire me for a board position (or other) based upon a blog. As such, I rarely expect comments on my blogs…and in return, I rarely get them.

Good comments that is. What I DO get are thousands…and i’m talking thousands of “comments” an hour, but aren’t comments at all. They are robo-generated fishing, marketing or sales bots, comprised mostly of bad English, lots of key words and a few crude and/or otherwise unsuitable word choices.

This has been a growing wart that I’ve been able to ignore for months now, right up until this last week, when my former web site service company informed me that a photographer out of Las Vegas has been requesting I delete my backward links from my site to his. Huh?

Research was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to get in the tub and hand this over to my husband, the techie in the family.

“They are threatening to sue,” I said. Slight exaggeration. Clearly, someone in the marketing group at this photo studio got irritated (which I might say, must be very successful to have someone complaining about a backward link which ostensibly drives business). I then turn and leave and take my bath.

A half hour later, I get a tap on the door. Rog peers in. “It’s done.”

I was mystified, as I am with all things WordPress. I had looked for hours (ok, twenty minutes) to identify how to block and/or delete bulk comments. I have a short attention span. Apple has trained me well. If I can’t do it in 3 steps, I can’t be bothered. (It’s like what happens in the bedroom. Clothes off. In bed….you get the picture. 3 steps or i’m out).

In any case, I ask him what he did that I didn’t do. “I installed a plug-in.”

Ah. It goes under tools. it’s actually called “Easy removal of comments.” Then end.

Now I have 3 steps to removing all comments (once said plug-in was installed)

  1. go to Tools
  2. Click Remove
  3. Select all comments (and those pending)
  4. Click yes (ok. I was wrong. 4 steps).

Sadly, this means actual real, meaningful comments are also getting napalmed, and for that I’m sorry. If I had more time (or rather, more time from my IT support staff) I’d find a plug-in that allowed for a high-filter or qualified commentary (one that requires an actual account or something). Alas. I’m not there yet. I’ll get that when I actually do this for a living.

Tools graphic

Step 1: Select the Delete All Comments

Click both boxes- pending and posted

Step 2: (above) select posted and pending comments as a bulk action

final picture

The final result. It’s all gone! yeah to the spammers, tears to the legitimate commentators. I guess that’s what Instagram is for- immediate, unfiltered, actual responses (except for those randomly generated bots that is!).

Tying up loose ends

A few of my blogs have open endings, the story itself not finished. It must be the upcoming holiday season, or karma. As you have been on this journey with me, I’ll share.

Remember the guy that failed to show up, call, or respond to my texts? Rog and I worried, wondered, got angry, apathetic then forgot about it, dismissing the man as flaky or dead. Well, I’m happy to report he’s not dead, nor is he flaky. He’s a liar. If you recall, we gave him money in advance of a completed job, his ’emergency’ his promise to take his daughter to modeling school. OK. Maybe that was the case, or he needed rent money. Didn’t matter. He’s a good worker, and has been for yrs, so Rog gives him more than he’d asked for. Doesn’t show for 2 wks.

The closure: three wks after the fact, he calls Rog, says his phone was lost. For 3 wks. He’s ready to go! he says. No apologies, no addressing what happened. Does he know he can call from a payphone? I inquire. What about the Internet? He and his wife have an on-line business. Did that stop as well?

No answers to the questions, because to my disbelief, Rog doesn’t ask. Before I mentally spin in to the oblivion, Rog coaches me back to reality. “You’re so good at forgiving, move on,” he says.

I was so furious, I think spots appeared in my eyes, the precursor to an aneurysm. I leave the room. The next day, the man shows up, avoids looking at me, goes to work (outside) and I don’t see him again. Two days ago, I receive a text. He’s asking me for a favor, the one I’d offer to do for him when he made “the case.” He wants me to introduce his two daughters to my agent.

I’ve not yet responded. I’m telling myself it’s because of the funeral I attended Saturday, Rog’s recent eye surgery, and packing. But we (you and me) know better. I’m being small. When Rog calls me out, and pulls the ‘forgiveness,’ thing again. Christ said forgive, but left outthe part about being a glutten for punishment, I can make different choices this time around.

 

Be like Bey: Smart travel tips to see the world like a celeb w/out the premium

It’s Friday. The day that Jupiter Communications reports is the least productive day of the week (preceded only by Wednesday afternoons between 1-3 Eastern Standard Time). Apparently, more than a few of you are jacking around, reading blogs like this one, hoping to be entertained until the clock winds down and you can get the hey out of there and start the weekend.

So I am here to fulfill on that promise of both time wasting while educating you on how to travel like a superstar without paying the premium. The person I love to reference is Beyonce, she of the other half of Jay-Z, and while not a close personal friend, is oft-referenced as going on yachts, renting villas and generally speaking, traveling like the multi-hundred millionairess that she is. I then discovered (thanks to my honcho entertainment friends) that she likes a deal, particularly whe

travel like Bey

travel like Bey

n it comes to travel. Wouldn’t ‘cha know, we both follow some general guidelines when it comes to travel savings. Pre-hundred millionaire status, she flew on commercial airlines, and that’s one part of two primary travel savings: Airfare and hotel. I’m going to focus on the airfare part in this blog. I am actually on deadline myself and only have so much time before my weekend starts:-

Ok. First things first. 3 things to know.

1. Avoid primary airports, particularly on coast-to-coast travel or overseas. According to AFAR Magazine (for exotic, adventurous traveling-which I read in the bathtub and dog-tag all the pages), the four most expensive European cities to fly direct are London, Paris, Rome and Zurich. There are others (like Helsinki) but really, what American wakes up and says, ‘I’m going to Helsinki for my summer vaca).

food on plane

course 2 of 5 on the plane

Tip: instead of flying to Zurich (direct), last summer we booked our connection throu gh Frankfurt. Yes, we had to walk half a mile, but the pastries were awesome, the airport stocked with luxury brands and we got to explore the newest BMW model that wouldn’t hit the shores of the US for another 9 months. Result: saved us nearly $500 per ticket. Extra time- 3 hours. Deal.

2. Go secondary carriers. This doesn’t mean flying bit bats or old equipment. What I’m really saying is let go the snobby, ego part that wants the bragging rights of saying “I flew first class on Virgin into London.” When someone says that to me, you know what I think? “So you spent $10K on a ticket instead of $2,500 on flying Condor, thereby saving thousands?” Yeah, that was harsh, but we seriously have friends-using that term loosely- who love to say that kind of **** and we pleasantly smile and think they aren’t going to be the ones we ask to manage our money.

Tip: Skip the primary carriers– like Virgin or Luftansa for transatlantic and go with Condor. What that means is you pay a whole lot less for what is essentially a first-class experience. (Condor has business, then three levels of economy- so business is first by default). If you are dead set on your own suite, and money is no object, really, spend the $25K and go Emirates. If you have that kind of cocondor taking offin, why not? (don’t forget you get a chauffer when flying biz or 1st on Emirates. That’s got to be worth an ego stroke or two). Otherwise, I can think of seven thousand five hundred reasons where I’d rather spend my money.

3. Fly off-times. For some reason, this is the hardest for people to come to terms with. They want to work most of the week, leave on a Thursday or Friday, and then return for the Monday to begin work again. The fact is that better deals are usually to be had flying during the middle of the week. To this, I’d add that you should avoid US holiday travel- particularly prior. Last summer for example, we are went to Europe, flew Condor into Frankfurt with a connection to Zurich, left mid-week returned the day after the fourth of July. That meant we saved about $7K on airfare. Business was first class service and accomodations (granted, it wasn’t the Emirates or Lufsthansa experience) but again, I took some of that money and spent it elsewhere. The other part I “saved,” I just kept in the bank. Had we returned just prior to the 4th, the cost went up $500 per ticket.

Web sites to check out:

  • The 25 top cheapest airports to fly into.
  • Yapta.com is awesome because it collects the information from a flight of your choice, sends you an update when the cost fluctuates. It will also send you an e-mail alert when it’s a good time to buy and track the fare after you book, right up until the day of departure. If the fare should drop after you pay for your ticket, you can use Yapta’s information to get a refund from the airline for the difference.
  • sign up for lists.smarttraveler.com. This ensures you get a non-stop stream of great deals from cruises to flights and accommodations.

 

Kissing Pete Townshend While Living on a Prayer

Kissing a rockstar was never on my bucket list of things to do. Still isn’t. Yet, when the opportunity presents itself, one must take it, mustn’t one?

It all started when Rog said that ‘we needed a break’ and he wanted to spoil me. I don’t recall the order of those two comments, but when one is offered a Mexican vacation, the standard response should invariably be ‘yes.’ When he asks about where I want to stay, I didn’t have an opinion (when you’ve been going to Mexico for as long as I have, you’ve pretty much seen it all–or so I thought).

A day later he tells me he has mixed it up and booked the Hard Rock Hotel in Puerto Vallarta. Yes, I’d seen the ads for the one in Las Vegas (in case you have missed the MTV-like commercials, everyone has seemingly stepped from the pages of a magazine, the music is all that is hot and sexy and the food heaven sent), and yes, they were offering a special ($1,500 worth of hotel credit). Thus, I checked out the spa, read the reviews (mixed on all aspects) and said ‘why not?’

So it was that the plane ride down was all about introspection. That ended the second we pulled up to the hotel and was assaulted with You give love a bad name by Bon Jovi. I turned to Rog. “You made sure to order up all the sexy people right?” He nods, humoring me.

At the counter, we are informed we can rent any one of 22 Fender guitars, along with headsets and amplifiers to we can practice without disturbing anyone. I don’t catch his last comments because A Whitesnake song comes at me from above, like a demon from hell, piped down in overhead speakers (and I only know its Whitesnake because Rog tells me). As we walk through the lobby (with looping videos of Pitbull and past a stream of authentic rockstar items), I’m suddenly face to face with a lifesize picture of the Guns-N-Roses band members. I realize that Slash has bigger hair than me (I feel a twinge of jealously) and Axl Rose was so skinny his entire waist was the size of one of my thighs.

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post Tom Petty and pre Spinal Tap

It’s about four pm, and as we head into the elevator, I’m starting to snicker. No sexy people. The original flag from Woodstock (it’s of big lips btw) hangs just below the arch of the hallway is the line “Love in an elevator,” by Steven Tyler, nicely called out in subdued, foot-size silver lettering. Are you getting a visual yet?

Blessedly, the room has no music, but I can hear the blasting from the pool area. It’s Back in Black and I start to fantasize about earphones and my favorite Sesto Sento Moby remix–really loud.

You can do this, I tell myself. It’s only a week. I keep hope alive that poolside will feature people in my decade and those that evidently chose the music. But first, I want to work out. The sun is setting, the breeze is coming in. The music in the gym has got to match the vibe. Steel, modern, pool front with the ocean in the background. Rog even takes a picture (the smile is genuine. I’m in a warm place, not much clothing and am positive the gym will be rocking).

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Spinal Tap is alive…every day at the gym

It is. To Tom Petty. Who. In. The. H**l works out to Tom Petty? He’s a great writer of lyrics, of course, but I certainly don’t feel like having my heart drug around.

That’s quite alright I repeat to myself, smiling falsely at Rog. I don’t want him to feel bad for booking this place nor do I want to appear an ungrateful shrew for hating the music. I walk forward with fortitude. Right into a life-size picture of Spinal Tap. For my dear readers who are as cool as I am, do you know who Spinal Tap is? I didn’t. Rog did (his Colorado roots are starting to seep through, don’t you think?). Now folks. When working out, isn’t it more appropriate to see images of beach bodies–or no images at all, rather than be forced to look at a skinny man poured into a lycra outfit that should only be worn by downhill skiiers racing at 100MPH? My thoughts exactly.

I know at this point, you really don’t believe me (I could barely believe it myself), so I started taking pictures as evidence. I made it through the workout, thanking Steve Jobs once again   (may he rest in peace) for the iPhone that saved my ears, changed for dinner and walked to the elevator.

Two things then happened at once. The first is I was struck by Bon Jovi everywhere singing Living on a Prayer.

my air guitar

my air guitar

The second thing was I had (somehow) missed the image of Pete Townsend in front of me, doing the air guitar movement. (I call it this because most men who insist on doing the air guitar never, ever, actually have a guitar. They just think it’s cool to whip their arm around as though they were, are or in their fantasy, will be, Pete Townsend. But I digress).

I can’t take it anymore. I lose myself to the notion of being a product of the seventies, channeling my inner flower-child-meets-bic-lighter-groupie and stand by Pete. In a single moment of rock-star-ness, I swirl my arm like every seventeen year old wanna-be guitarist and I become one with the picture. Of course it would only be fitting that in my moment of anonymous greatness than a woman walks by. She offers to take a photo and I do what I’ve never previously wanted to do. I kissed the rock star. Or at least his picture. That’s as close as I’m ever gonna get. kissing peteAnd as the final notes of Bon Jovi fades, I’m thinking about my prayer. One that includes music from the 90’s, 00’s, 10’s and maybe, just maybe if I’m really lucky, 2015. That is, if my prayers are answered.

The irritation of air-kissing

For readers who have followed me for several years, it is a known fact that when my life gets hard (aka, I’m thinking that a nice, summer tour of the grand canyon without sunblock or water sounds awesome) I go underground. I stop writing. Eating becomes discretionary. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have encounters that are seriously irritating. Let’s talk about air kissing for just a moment, shall we?

Yes, air kissing. This social habit that came overseas from our civilized European counterparts.

Here’s my issue. It’s all about the invasion of my personal space, the familiarity of someone kissing me that I barely know, or don’t know, or have just been introduced to that bugs me out. My reserved, puritan ancestors knew that our one-space is an invisible line, only to be broken by a short, thrust of a hand. It’s worked for a thousand years

this is what I visualize when someone comes in for an air kiss

this is what I visualize when someone comes in for an air kiss

and it still works for me.

Yet time and traditions were passing me by, for as I remained a mole at my own house, having kids, writing, and being less than social, this phenomena had taken hold, like a contractable disease jumping from one person to another with each hen-peck. Little did I know that signing off my emails with an xoxoxo to my relatives (or the few non-relatives that I totally adore) didn’t count.

The moment of truth came when I got on a plane to Los Angeles and entered the world of air kissing. It was as though the handshake had given way to an air-kissing otherworld. A director meets me for the first time, leans in to me, arm touching the center of back and plants one on my check.

It was odd. I’m unprepared. Do I kiss back? Do I turn my head? Do I touch his back? He was tall and good-looking, and I briefly wondered if I was stepping over the line of marital infidelity if I enjoyed the act. I instinctively pulled back, catching the glance of the one man I knew (my producer) who clearly enjoyed my discomfort. The evil man then proceeded to introduce me to the others in the room, knowing exactly what was coming.

Several other men and their lips came careening towards me. My inner Swede rebelled. This wasn’t a family gathering, a wedding or a funeral. It was a business meeting. We didn’t know one another, and with the exception of one person I’d worked with, wasn’t even sure if I was going to like these cheek-invaders by the end of the day. Didn’t they know my cheek was reserved for a scant handful or special individuals??

It got me thinking-what if everyone in the high tech world started planting kisses as a way to start a meeting. Can you imagine? Hi, my name’s Steve Balmer, smooch my cheek. The Googlie’s and Microsoftie’s might get more softie if each gathering started with smoochies. It could devolve into a group hug-fest.

I had visions of air kissing spreading across industries, job sectors and vocations like the ebola virus running amuck. This begat a business opportunity, (for us Swedes are opportunistic along with prudish). Cheek wipes. The packaging could be blue and red. Skulls and crossbones. Breastcancer pink and Lance Armstrong yellow. Living free implies absence of disease, and I’m all about no lip-yick from strangers.

And another thing, it’s always the ‘right’ cheek. Who established this as the protocol? By the end of the first day in LA, the first epidural layer of my right cheek had been kissed off.

I took note around me. The restaurants were full of individuals greeting one another, cheek to cheek, lips sort-of touching sideways, full of the strange, TV-love that doesn’t mean much. Heck. If I’m going to kiss someone, I want them to feel it.

This inspired another thought. Kiss devaluation. It’s like the dollar against the Yuan, it’s been so overused and slighted, the value has plummeted, causing an emotional deficit. My ah-ah moment came when I then connected the dots from kiss devaluation to the overall moral decline in society. With the kiss worth nothing, one must naturally move to the next step that’s meaningful. For lack of a better analogy, first base…second base….

I made it through the latter hours in Los Angeles by releasing my inner Swede. I took control. I put my foot down and erected my protectionist barriers. When a tall, hedge fund manager with a diamond-encrusted watch the size of a pancake on his wrist made his forward-leaning play, I stepped back, thrust out my hand and said,

“Nice to meet you,” before turning and sitting down. It was rude, I know. But he had two things going against him—potential blood diamonds and association with the phrase hedge fund. Using similar tactics, I made it through two more sets of interactions. I thought I was in the clear when I got up to leave for my flight. Four men were sitting at the table, and in a unifying show of politeness, they all stood.

“Oh, no,” I protested, waving for them to sit. “Don’t get up for me. It’s not like we’re on a date!”

The aforementioned friend nearly choked on his tongue with laughter. It just came out, and before I could cover my faux-pa with a nicer comment, the first man came in for the goodbye hug, saying he “Wasn’t going to let me getaway with that.” As I’d grown to like this particular guy in a platonic-business-type-of-way, I was OK with the air kiss that time, though I still slightly turned my head. I didn’t want to risk contact-by-lip. Didn’t matter. They came one by one like mourners at a wake.

Once back in the safe cocoon that is my ‘hood, I’m comforted that air kissing is likely limited to the transplants from the east coast, LA or Europe.  But I did come up with a great excuse. “Sorry, just getting over a cold.” The hand is retracted, the forward momentum stopped–it’s awesome. From now and for the rest of my life, I’ll be the sickest person you will ever meet, but my lips will be luscious and pure, which is all I want.

 

 

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