Weird Shit Velcro – Stories About Navigating The Human Landscape

I have captivated all of my friends and family for many years with my dating and daily life stories. Thus, this blog is my opportunity to share these amusing and ridiculous anecdotes with anyone who is interested, bored with their life, passing time or just has the awesome, shit ass luck to run upon it by chance. If nothing else, you will be entertained…start with March 20 "You will be entertained….too good to make up."


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From yoga and kale to beer and pizza to pompous and plain old douche-y…back in the dating game…and a Yankee….

Perception is such an interesting thing.   It has often been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but in reality, in the day of electronic devices and neuroscience, what does that really mean? Beauty is subjective for sure but I don’t think having a good character is.  I don’t think being good hearted is subjective.  Or being able to recognize when someone has good intentions or ill intentions. I have been told that I have high standards.  That I shouldn’t hold everyone to my standards of what to do or not do.  I will admit that I do have a problem saying no to those who need me but I still think that being a good person in one’s core is of utmost importance in life. At least in my life.  I am a work in progress. 

So…back in the dating “game” so to speak and it’s been interesting. I have a knack, as you may have gathered, for meeting people pretty much everywhere I go but actually putting yourself proactively back in the dating scene is sort of fascinating.  It has made me think about what’s really important. What I am really looking for. What I really care about.  And the answers are clear and yet not clear.  Post cancer I must say my perspective has, probably rightfully, changed a bit.  It has also been interesting to see what other people care about – i.e. potential suitors – while taking a deep plunge back into the life of being actively single in NYC.  Some men are very superficial – shocker I know. Thankfully, I apparently do not disappoint, and in fact surpass my photos, in the physical sense which I suppose is good.  Some “men” (term is used loosely on purpose) are introspective.  One liked to hunt, fish, hike and go boating while another, who lied about his height and age, touted his $2000 wallet from the oldest saddlery company in the UK which he had just purchased (the saddlery company that is).  One maintains an alkaline diet and does yoga seemingly non-stop while another golfs and eats primarily white carbs.  It’s been a while since I have proactively taken this stance and I frankly only did it because my Australian friend asked me when the last time was that I had a date in NYC.  And I honestly couldn’t remember.  The question gave me great pause actually.  I dated a few people from outside the country last year, outside the city the year before while undergoing treatment but in even NY state….hmmmm……I couldn’t remember the last date I had in the state or city.  So why the fuck not I figured.  And I should probably share that giving up the “F” word didn’t really work. I was up to $31 in 24 hours as apparently it turns out that my mother was right about something and I do have a mouth like a sailor.  I decided four days in that, while I am trying to figure out my career and start dating again, I simply couldn’t afford to also give up the “F” word. Life is too stressful and it was simply too expensive of an enterprise so I abandoned the idea. Next year back to sugar.

Anyway, spring is trying to bloom in NYC.  I went to a Yankees game tonight as well as two weeks ago.  I must admit that when I enter that stadium I can’t help but think about the fact that I turned down a date with Derek Jeter.   Now I am a baseball fan but I have always been a Phillies fan.  Growing up outside of Philadelphia after all. So it was, GASP, ten years ago when my friend Brian and I went to a party at Tavern on the Green and I played the awesome wing woman that I have been known to be.  I was a few cocktails in and I asked Brian who he wanted to meet. He pointed to an attractive girl and I said “ok I got it.” I walked over to her and said “Hi. My friend over there is a great guy and I would love to introduce you.” She responded that she was married. Albeit, again I must mention that I had a few cocktails and I am a GOOD friend thus I retorted “Well, I can’t imagine that your husband is any better than my friend over there” as I pointed. She came back with “I am married to Jorge Posada.” I said “I have no idea who that is.” She said “he’s the catcher for the Yankees.” I boldly said “well…(pause)…he can’t be that much better than my friend but I understand.” So I befriended Laura and, as we casually chatted, she mentioned she had a cute sister.  Perfect I thought as we sashayed our way back to Brian and I introduced Laura who became our friend for the evening.  About an hour later after getting to know one another a bit, Laura said to me (in front of Brian) “I want to set you up with someone.” “Who?’ I said. “Derek Jeter” she said. “He’s not my type” was my instantaneous response. Brian gasped. She said “really? Because you are completely his type.” I said “really.” And the subject was dropped for a while. Later, she was leaving she gave me her card and said “if you change your mind give me a call. Seriously. You are totally his type.”  I never called or emailed her.  Brian scolded me that night and for many nights thereafter.

In July of 2011, I picked up the New York Times and, on the front page, there was a photo of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada hugging after Jeter hit 3,000.  I called Brian, who I hadn’t spoken to in a few years since he moved to Miami. When he answered the phone, my first sentence was “remind me why I didn’t want to go on a date with Derek Jeter?”  He emphatically stated “I have no idea. I would have gone on a date with him!” Yup I thought as I stared at the newspaper that day and as I watched him play tonight as his team begins a steep decline for the season.  My prediction after a 13 to 1 loss against the Angels tonight.  That said, perhaps I should have gone on the date just for the story….although this is a pretty good story in my opinion and, in the end, as many have said, I would have ended up with the standard token basket of crap he sends after his dates.  Good decision.  Still not my type.  Dating and Yankees games – yes this is what comes to mind. 

A few photos of NYC where spring is desperately trying to spring, interesting and  thought provoking scenes, new friends as well as, of course, Yankee stadium. Oh and the hugging picture of course!!

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Boy can I relate to this…

 

 

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New friends with a new idea…albeit not tremendously unique but they were enthusiastic…

 

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In case you are interested…

 

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I couldn’t resist…

 

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When spring doesn’t come to you, you have to go find it. At the Botanical Gardens Orchid Show….amazing…

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I gave up the F word for Lent….and I already owe $6….

I am not a particularly religious person. Truth be told I am not sure what I believe in in terms of religion per se but I do believe in some sort of higher power and that many things that happen are not merely coincidences.  That said, I got myself baptized about 10 years ago – I think because someone had told me when I was a kid that I was going to hell if I wasn’t baptized. So after years of thinking about it and researching, I walked into an Episcopalian church on the upper west side one Sunday and the female minister, Lillian, who would later become a dear friend, was quoting Bob Dillon and I thought “I can hang here”.  Lillian came to understand that, as I had disclosed when we met, I was never going to be the person who comes to church every week or even once a month and sits in the front row.

I have since moved to another part of town and haven’t found a new church.  Frankly, my favorite time to go to church is when no one is there as it’s a quiet place to think and reflect.  I also like to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, sometimes Easter services and Ash Wednesday administration of the ashes.  That was today.

I started giving up things for Lent about five years ago just to see if I could do without for 40 days. Things I love. Generally food related.  One year it was sugar and I was a bitch on wheels for the first week. Sugar withdrawal is rough even when one isn’t a big candy eater.  The next year it was just dessert, not all sugar. The following it was cheese. You get the gist. So this year I contemplated giving up alcohol. I really did for a day or two.  But last night I realized after I signed up for Match.com for a month to provide some entertainment as well as to throw my hat in the ring again to hopefully meet someone that I am not sure I can endure some of those blind date meetings without at least one glass of a pain killer/social lubricant. Thus, alcohol was off the table.

So tonight as I showered quickly rushing to make it to church at 6PM it came to me. As all my good ideas do come – when I am in the shower. I decided to give up saying the F word for 40 days. Yes that was it I thought to myself as I combed conditioner through my hair swiftly. I am sure there is something perhaps sacrilegious about giving up a word like this for Lent but I think the higher powers would be cool with me not cursing as much.  Could I do it I wondered? I know it is a foul word some say but I happen to love that word. It’s so versatile. It’s a verb, an adjective, a noun, an adverb (google “the F word” – it’s funny and the video will explain it) so hopefully you get it.  Anyway, I know it happens to slip out here and there and, I must add, some have found it offensive from time to time so I figured it’s worth a shot.

Knowing myself a bit, ok a lot, I decided to up the ante and committed that I would put a dollar in a jar for every F word that utters my lips for the next 40 days.  So I already owe $6 and it’s only been six hours. Ugh.  I know this makes me out to be a very foul mouthed cursing maniac which I am not. Really! But I do love this word even though it is… well… not well appreciated by everyone. I also decided to keep a daily video log of how it’s going. Perhaps some interviews. May make it into a short. We will see.

After Easter, the entire jar will be donated to a charity of my choice.  In fact, tonight I thought that it might be the perfect start for a new charity that a friend and I were discussing the other day. We will see but it seems like this may be much more difficult than sugar. Or I will just have to keep my mouth shut for 40 days…..hmmm…never gonna happen. Thank God I kept the booze!


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The Olympics to the intersection of bad judgment and holy shit this is my life…

I woke up two days ago in the middle of a seemingly incredibly realistic dream where I was about to compete as a figure skater in the Olympics (yes I grew up skating) while my fellow (much older) skater from way back when, Scott Hamilton, assured me that my make-shift outfit would work for my program. I ended that same night at a familiar intersection of bad judgment and holy shit this is my life. Not even worth inserting the “dating” story behind the bad judgment aspect but suffice it to say that being seduced by a guy with a girlfriend, now fiancée, isn’t exactly how I like to conduct my life. Close that chapter.

Thankfully, I was seeing a couple NOLA bands that night – one of my favorite hobbies – and heard Brandon Niederauer play the guitar. A 10 year old prodigy – simply incredible. Do check him out – it’s a MUST. It was a night saver. ImageImage

The last few weeks have been…well…weird. Shocker I know but a week in the SF area exploring “opportunities” that became an interesting due diligence trip also made me reevaluate Northern CA. I like the physical landscape.  A lot. I have made some lovely friends I must admit. Truly cool, nice people who are generous of mind and spirit. That said, I really do feel that SF is sort of a city of misfits of sorts. And I may fit in a bit but I also think I may now have too much of a NY edge for that town.

Then I traveled to Amsterdam for a few days for a conference. What a town. I had heard they had gotten tougher on the drug trade but I concluded it’s much more lenient so to speak when I went into a “coffee shop”, asked for a cup of tea and the response was “sure but only if you buy some cannabis.” When in Rome.  I had to take a photo of the menu.Image

Only moments before I had been offered mushrooms, liquid MDMA, liquid cocaine (I think that was what he said – I was still in shock from the shrooms which they were all admittedly on) and a few other interesting concoctions. Such great people watching – it’s a city of bikes and canals. Even at 2am people are riding around on their bicycles, no helmets and little lights on front. Super cute.ImageImageImage

Fascinating town. And interesting menu translations…flavored rolling papers and seed shops.Would love to live in a town like that….hmmmm….ImageImage

I have heard the expression “every problem is an opportunity in disguise.” I must have a lot of opportunities in front of me at this juncture because life seems to be bombarding me with one situation after another.  That said, there have been plenty of signs lately that I need to start listening to…listen to your gut…and time to start writing again.


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My drug infested smashing recollection….welcome to 2014!

I had a smashing recollection recently about how much nicer a crowd is on Ecstasy (or what they term Molly now) versus people who are tripping.  I was in New Orleans seeing one of my favorite bands and apparently the crowd was taking a lot of acid and mushrooms among other substances I presume.  I know this because both were offered to me and I declined several times.  When I was merely reading the back of a guy’s shirt his girlfriend or wife, who knows or frankly cares, came out of nowhere and literally punched me (HARD) in the face. Now I have never been hit (thankfully!) but lucky for her I was quite happy myself (not due to either of the substances mentioned above) but it was quite a shock.  I thought my cheekbone was broken.  I was actually too stunned and in too much pain to even deal with her but did find security to get an ice pack. Thank god for ice! No bruising and barely any swelling – just a bit painful to smile the next day.

The following night my friends pointed the nut job out to me and I went up and introduced myself to this should-be-Jerry-Springer-guest in her tie-dye shirt.  Incredibly, she had absolutely zero recollection of the incident.  Deadpan blank look on her face when I told her that she had punched me in the face the night before. I asked her blond friend if she remembered me  – she somberly nodded yes.  Whereas the jealous freak show had no emotion. So what could I do? I introduced myself, told her that her reaction was pretty much wayyyyy out of line.  Yup, well she thereafter offered to buy me a drink….ahhh yes New Orleans.  And that night the crowd was on “Molly” and much happier and friendlier to be around I might add.  Although I can’t believe people that age – we’ll call it an older crowd mostly late 40s, well into their 50s and up still do that shit. I felt young and people were happy so whew is about all I can say!

New Orleans is such a great town. Where else can you get Jambalaya at 4am? And live music too. And a cowboy….Image

People are generally friendly, food is fantastic, go-cups for booze….I got hit on by a 22 year old who I met on the plane, dear Evan, and then a very cute 30 year old.  Despite the punch, or in spite of it, it was good for the ego. There’s also just such great people watching…as my friend said – this guy was right up my alley…

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Inspiring signage as well…

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And in NYC we have both. He did remind me of the marketing campaigns I saw in SF…I love honesty.

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And inspiration…in all forms…

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I haven’t written since I got back from my world trip….mainly because I had to get through the holidays and because it’s tough being back in NYC. And freezing!!! It’s like a cold Middle East where you can only see the eyes of strangers on the streets as you brave the wind.

The rest of the world journey and end of 2013 was semi-uneventful but Lisbon was the perfect end to my journey. It was my last stop. Port was drank, castles seen, pastries eaten and I managed to hike about 6 castles in two days. I made friends with my wonderful cab driver, Manuel, and even ended up driving his taxi when he was too nervous in the dark. Thankfully I can drive a stick.  The trip certainly kicked my ass in shape but I must admit that by the end I was tired of packing and unpacking my ever-growing bags.  I was happy to come home, see Hugo and sleep in my own bed for a few days before facing the fam.

The last day, albeit it quite cold, provided a spectacular ending to my 60 days around the world…..

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And now into a new year, with hopefully new, wonderful experiences and people…and maybe back to SF…ImageImage


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Crashing into my human landscape….a turbo-charged trip doesn’t provide ample time for leisure reading…really it’s all about resilience and adaptability.

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This is my new mantra for the rest of my trip and life in general….The inability to actually sit and concentrate on a book or books while exploring the planet was articulated initially by Pedro, a semi-buzzed-when-we-met guy who “liked to take the mickey out of me” – something I have gotten used to while in Australia. We met at my hotel bar on one of my last nights in Perth.  Pedro wasn’t easy but he and his boss, the big G, did entertain me for a few hours.  Or berate me. A bit. For simply trying to watch part of Mandela’s funeral.  But as often happens, things start out rough and it turned around and it wasn’t long before they introduced me to my new favorite drink – a rusty nail. Two shots scotch and one shot Drambuie.  YUM!  And we were drinking together!

It is the truth – I have learned that you can’t take a trip around the world and expect to relax or sit still. There is way too much to see and do. Everywhere!  Too bad I didn’t realize this clear fact before I schlepped four books around the world. I have read maybe 20 pages of one. That said, I have accomplished a heck of a lot during my turbo-charged trip. I am seven and a half weeks into it and am in Abu Dhabi where I finally had the opportunity to slow down.  A bit.  It’s an interesting contrast of men dressed in their Dishdash and women in Abaya with Hermes handbags juxtaposed with semi-hooker, scantily clad Russian girls.  Few locals drink but they smoke a lot of cigarettes and cigars openly in bars and restaurants and drink Red bull. In order for a local to drink they have to have their own liquor license. Yet it’s seen as quite lenient for the Middle East here.  No need to even fill out any documents for immigration.  But here I am in my Abaya today at the Great Mosque in Abu Dhabi…I learned a lot about mosque clothing etiquette.

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I got so caught up in the moment I missed my tour and had to tag along on a tour with some Canadians….the guide was nice enough to provide me with some background about the air conditioned (thank god!) Mosque that was only completed in 2004. That’s what happens when you live in the moment….or at least when I do.

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I also saw a gold vending machine – ATM rather at the Emirates Palace Hotel. You can actually buy gold from the ATM. Fascinating.

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And the hotels, and buildings in general in this part of the Middle East, are enormous! My hotel….

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Or they have a cool architectural design and a LOUD Ferrari race track next to them – like this one on Yas Island. Image

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Quite a change from Australia which I now refer to as “warm Ireland”. Similar mentality combined with the same passion or propensity for booze.  Even the women get rather loud and raucous. But I enjoyed many moments in Australia. I smelled the ocean, felt the flowers, breathed the trees, shuffled though swishy white sand on many beaches and hiked up to peaks and flew without doors on a helicopter.  I have made eye contact with innumerable strangers, made friends with some and hung out with a couple for more than a day or two.  People I hope to know for a long time to come. This trip has given me faith in the human spirit again and reminded me how much beauty there is in nature and in people. There are kindred spirits out there and it has felt good to be understood by a select few. I thank them profusely and you know who you are. My saving grace in Sydney is moving to NYC in January and I am thrilled!

It’s interesting when your expectations are one and the outcome is entirely different. On many occasions I expected something  to work out one way or be a certain way and the reality was nothing I anticipated.  Sometimes worse. Often better or different with a moral to the story or a lesson to be learned.  I am still pondering some of the potential lessons and will for quite some time I imagine.

The Harbor Bridge climb in Sydney was amazing however….great views…

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The bridge from the ground at night…

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The Opera house while an incredible piece of architecture, very disappointing on the inside as it is really just several small theaters and not one grand one like LIncoln Center or Radio City in NYC.

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It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. The other day I visited an island called Rottnest Island. The name suits and I should have listened to my gut which said to skip it but my judgment was clouded by several locals who encouraged the visit.  It was a typical day for me when all I wanted was a chill beach day and instead spent my day searching for that perfect restful place.  First I embarked on a three hour ferry ride. Thereafter, a forty-five minute wait to rent a bike followed by a one hour hilly bike ride (with fifteen pound backpack) against the wind with a fly net around my head. When I still hadn’t found the beach and it was 1PM and I had a time limit to the only ferry back at 330PM, I accosted four 75+ year old ladies and asked where the heck the beach was located and they convinced me to ditch the bike and hop on the bus with them. I tentatively agreed. At this point I was so tense that I drank the wine I had bought for said non-happening relaxing beach day out of the bottle while on the bus. I went back to bike store to get refunded my money and then was driven to a beach that was gorgeous and not windy and only a 15 minute walk from town and had a whopping 45 minutes there before I had to walk back to town to catch the hellacious freezing three hour ferry back to Perth.  Due to high winds it was extremely rocky and I thought for sure we would tip over. Was in bed at 9pm that night. Whew exhausted just writing it!  Pretty water….not worth flies, wind, heat hell….

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Thank god the beach was finally gorgeous…I think the wine helped….

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Oh and I can’t forget to mention the animal that people are wild about on Rottnest Island. it’s called a Quokka – a combo of a rat and a Kangaroo. So basically a hopping giant rat. I don’t know about you but it was not a cute combo and coming from NYC giant hopping rodents are the last things I am getting excited about….

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I saw this article the night before I went to the island and is why I didn’t swim in Perth. The shark capital of Australia….

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The following quote was shared with me last Friday during day one of my visit to Perth by my friend, Boyd. Boyd is a Kiwi I met on the street when we were both photographing kangaroo statues and I offered, and he decided, to tag along on my day to Freemantle and Cottesloe Beach.  For whatever reason that I can’t articulate, I was surprised it was a quote from Marilyn Monroe:

“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Marilyn Monroe

Resilience and adaptability I think are what makes one have an easy life. Although I am fluent in both I am trying my best to conquer calm. It’s difficult navigating your own landscape and almost eight weeks alone has given me the gift of trying to sort it out without falling off a cliff.  I have fallen a few times but I have picked myself back up and am still here.

A quote I saw from Muhammad Ali – spoke to me….where I saw it was interesting – on a man’s arm outside the Sydney Opera House.

The actual quote is:  “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”  Something to live by….

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Throw in some wishes….from the Botanic Garden in Sydney…

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And some unconditional love….even though this fella got my friend a huge speeding ticket of $400 and three demerits on her license (UGH)- we were going all of maybe 45 mph while trying to catch up to my four legged friend! CRAZY laws in Australia!!

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Or these cuddly creatures who I will miss in OZ…

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And….the conclusion is….

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A little something for my friends getting divorced out there….couldn’t resist taking a photo.

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Last day in Manly Beach….ahhhh I do miss it. The first is from my Spit to Manly hike – gorgeous!! And the second, well my reward.

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Off for my day in Dubai. Who knows what adventures will happen….but it will involve this.

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Oh and my trip has apparently shadowed Justin Bieber’s tour – first Byron Bay, then Sydney, then Perth all sold out and lots of stories in the local papers about him and his entourage. And then, I end up having the same massage therapist come to my room in Perth. What’s the chance. I had to ask….had she disinfected her hands….it’s scary when your trip is shadowing the Biebs…


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It’s a trippy trip with a constant eternal twist…you can’t go forward looking back.

“It’s your experiences that shape you not how you were born” stated my drifter friend from the UK that I met watching the sunset tonight in Lennox Head.  His statement might not have been eloquent but it was right on.  Ae offered me a beer, each word he uttered made complete sense and provided plenty of food for thought.  If there’s a moral to this journey of mine it would be that every single person I have met has come into my life for a reason.  I hiked up to Passage Peak in the Whitsunday islands on Sunday and, although I thought I might have a heart attack on the way up, the trek was well worth it.  As I sat on the highest point for several hours I encountered a lovely woman from San Francisco who happens to be a life coach. How perfect when just that morning I was questioning my path and my future. The day before I debated going on a boat trip and at the very last moment decided to go and sat next a girl who works a few blocks from me in NYC. My cabbie who drove me to navigate the streets of Byron Bay during “schoolies” last night was from San Francisco and his mother lives in Sausalito.  The list goes on and on with every moment, hour, interaction I have.  I’ve made new friends who are at crossroads in their lives for different reasons – often divorce or breakups. But also those just exploring….the world and themselves. A few I will probably have as lifelong friends and others are just part of that moment in time as I learn to live in, and appreciate, the moment.

I know I have finally started to relax when I don’t know what day it is. It’s a good feeling and has only taken me a month to get here.  That said, I have spent an inordinate amount of time in every destination planning my “activities” as well as my accommodations/flights for the next adventure. So much for winging it but I’m trying…

A few thoughts about my travels, travails and random Aussisms I have learned or heard…

I got my koala on – meaning I hugged a koala but getting “anything on” is a common expression – eg getting on my beach

Flying in a helicopter without the doors on to take photos wasn’t scary at all. In fact , I kinda loved it!

Crack the shits

Slip slop slap wrap- slip on a t-shirt, slop on some screen, slap on a hat, wrap on some sunglasses

Numpty= silly person

Bevied numpty = drunk silly person

Busking- someone who performs in the street for $$

Swimming costume or bathers = bathing suit

Budgie smuggling = a speedo

Schoolies – MUCH worse than senior week in the US – for three weeks after high school ends (but before graduation) kids basically inundate beach towns and party as much as they can.

Drink driving – instead of drunk driving – and might I add that the blood alcohol limit here is .05 as compared to .10 in the US. They have check points at 11am and they swab the inside of people’s mouths randomly for THC. Thank god they don’t do that in the US!

At clubs you can’t buy a scotch neat or a Baileys on the rocks – all alcohol has to be mixed with something.  Very inconvenient.

Campa vans – Camper vans – was a weird/foreign concept at first but it is actually starting to sound better and better and makes sense so you don’t have to do so much planning and can just drive, get to your destination and chill.

Australia is like a warm Ireland in terms of capacity for alcohol and the candid human landscape.

There are many more but I wanted to share some photos of the incredible Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach (the whitest beach in the world they say) and Byron Bay (where I got my hippie on!!).

Good shit velcro….nature is amazing!

The summit of Passage Peak…

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Sunrise with a cochatoo…

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Hill Inlet…

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Seaplanes and Whitehaven beach with a fellow New Yorker…

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Whitehaven Beach…

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The heart reef…

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The Reef…

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Ahhh Melbourne – a hint of NYC on the other side of the world! Kiwis versus Aussies.

The last few days have been a study in the art and concept of perception. Subjective. Objective. Life is largely a matter of one’s perception…said by my non-bland self…

I must say that it is nice to be back in civilization again. Some semblance of normalcy where people are upfront yet friendly.  Customs was a breeze – in stark contrast to the almost strip search I experienced upon entry to NZ.  I was greeted at my hotel by name. People who work here want to help as do strangers who are all quite welcoming. I can get vegetable juice around the corner and everything is convenient.

It’s rather odd that although I loved many aspects of my time in New Zealand it seemed like a third world country in many ways. The physical landscape was spectacularly beautiful. The people were, well, mostly foreign which I found rather odd in a way but summer is starting and apparently it is a good place to “work” for the summer if one is say 19. I definitely would have done it had I known. That said, it was hard to get pretty much everything and anything accomplished and I dig a slow pace but no pace is well….uninteresting unless you are hiking, biking, sailing, boating, paragliding, hang gliding, skydiving, kayaking – you get the picture.

Which brings me to my next point about the difference between the people in New Zealand and Australia. I found it quite interesting that many Kiwis told me they didn’t like Aussies and that I would find the same here. And I have. It’s not a dislike per se I think but rather such a stark contrast in personalities that it is understandable why they might not mesh. Aussies are much more like New Yorkers (from what I can tell in two days). They say it like it is. They are upfront. Perhaps a bit crass but I sorta dig it. Or at least after a few weeks in New Zealand I do. A lovely new friend I met in NZ pointed out to me that Kiwis are generally very passive, don’t remark much about the service or lack thereof (which may be why their service is so horrendous) and just don’t like to make waves of sorts. I have definitely seen the opposite here. People want what they want and make sure it happens.

A prime example would be my two friends I went out with last night. I met them on a street corner in NYC exactly a year ago. They were looking for a bar in my hood which had closed but also would not have been a fun place for such cool chicks to hang out. I was in a rush to get home apparently (as they reminded me last night) but I saw they were lost and asked if I could help. Guide book in hand of the Brit – I took it and wrote notes of where they should go DOWNTOWN. She reminded me last night that I commented on the never-had-I-ever-seen-before orange patent leather shoes of my new friend-to-be who told me she rocked them and they did in fact match her orange coat which she carried off perfectly. She did rock that outfit and wore them a few nights later when we had drinks. The orange shoes that is.  She totally pulled it off and was not bothered by my potentially snooty NY fashionista comment in any way. In contrast, my friend in New Zealand, Kit, took great offense when I commented about her orange patent leather shoes last weekend. I meant no harm, and probably used the same tone as I did with Diari the Aussie, but merely was wowed by the boldness of the choice and the ability to pull them off.  Needless to say this became one of many misperceptions or miscommunications or plain old we knew each other a long time ago for a short time but we don’t know each other anymore moments….it did take the wind out of my New Zealand sail experience as Kit was the majority of the reason I came over but it’s ok and many tears later I am sure I will realize it happened for a reason and maybe our season is over.  Life is too short. And life is largely a matter of one’s perception…too often subjective, objective often not.

On this trip I have discovered, for better or worse, that the expression wherever you go there you are holds true.  I am seeing beautiful (and not so beautiful) sights and meeting new people and seeing old friends but I am still me. Trying to figure out who I am post-cancer and it’s not easy. Everyone is on a path or journey of sorts….all different yet sometimes similar.

I stepped onto a small van for a vineyard tour and wine tasting a couple days ago in Queenstown, NZ and sat next to my pseudo male self, Tad.  By that I mean he was on week six of a one-way ticket around the world that started by going east (whereas I am going west).  Queenstown was his last stop on his journey.  Mine is sort of just beginning. We learned this within the first 3 minutes of chatting. Very weird. His relationship had dissolved earlier this year, his position at work (marketing – similar to me) was eliminated and he had sold his houses and put his stuff in storage, just turned 35 and here he was sitting next to me. I had planned to sell my place and potentially put my belongings in storage this summer until I had to evacuate due to mold.  People come into your life for a reason and it may only be a moment in time or hours for a day but it was interesting to meet someone on a similar journey. I asked if he was anxious about going back to the US and he remarked that he was a bit but had some work leads and the subject wasn’t pursued by either of us. Similar journeys. Opposite directions. One at the end and one just starting with five more weeks to go….maybe more. This spoke to me.

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Another sweet new friend I made on the ferry from Waiheke to Auckland characterized me as “not bland” when we were on the phone the other night. I laughed. Not bland. Very true. I have been described as many things but bland has never been one. I am not one for dry white toast anyway….well maybe with cheese or pate when I used to eat meat pre-cancer…

I have learned that people communicate in many different ways. Many don’t communicate at all. But during the vineyard tour I had the privilege of getting a glimpse into the fantastic sense of humor of a hearing impaired man while on our tour. His wife met him through work – she is a professional who works with the hearing impaired.  Early on in the day I did think to myself for a split second – “wow perfect relationship, he can’t talk back to her and give her hell.” But boy the more this man drank the funnier he became and the more he had to “say” which he made known via his hands and eyes. He even became a bit of a flirt with yours truly.  It was also so interesting to watch their form of communication and interaction.  Silent yet not.

I forgot to mention in my last blog that I flew over and saw The Remarkables which are pretty awesome! The mountains were named The Remarkables by Alexander Garvie in 1857-58 allegedly because they are one of only two mountain ranges in the world which run directly north to south – An alternate explanation for the name given by locals is that early Queenstown settlers, upon seeing the mountain range during sunset one evening, named them the Remarkables to describe the sight. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Remarkables

Many interesting days filled with new sights and friends who were different shapes, sizes and colors. Illustrated by photos of course…

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The bridge where the concept of bungee jumping originated….still not for me!

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I just liked this…bought the dishtowel version.

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Gibbston Valley Vineyard, Central Otago.

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A little friend that was found on my shoulder during lunch…she did not want to leave me!

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My naughty hearing impaired friend!

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The pinot noir soaked “Christmas cake” I never got to taste but boy it sounded yummy!!

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Pretty much how my life looks right now…open, empty road….Since I write under a pseudonym all of my photos are taken from the back but what I have realized is that I started taking this stance recently. It’s interesting for me to look at as I have my arms open to receive anything and everything because that is really where I am in life. Open. Ready. Willing. Able. Hopeful. That the universe will show me some path or something!!

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The end of the vineyard tour and my friend is still communicating….

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A couple more friends….

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Beautiful Queenstown….

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The Aussie in Queenstown….my first glimpse of things to come! Very opinionated.

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The Remarkables….http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Remarkables

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Seen from Sunshine Bay.

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The best burger ever!! Even for a veggie!!

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My buddy Toon who made everything better!

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It was hard to leave Queenstown as you can probably tell. I loved it there! They do love fish and chips in NZ.

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My first view of Australia from the air…

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I had the wonderful pleasure of watching these little penguins make their way home from sea the other night on Phillip Island which is the southernmost tip of Australia (other than Tazmania). You were not allowed to take photos but it was incredible to watch. They waddled in like little drunk children. It was extraordinary and really cheered me up for a moment when I needed it.ImageImage

Our guide. I learned that penguins only live in the southern hemisphere (I always thought there were penguins in Alaska – apparently not!) and most penguins like to live in packs and need each other. These little guys are very independent. They like to be alone generally and only travel onshore in a pack after sunset so they don’t get picked up by predatory birds. They are independent of their parents at only a week old. It was fascinating. I found my little penguin self understanding their desire to be together at times and often alone….they may long for more togetherness though as do I.


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Queenstown…spectacular beauty meets extreme sport capital of the world!

It is quite incredible that almost every area I visit in New Zealand is more beautiful than the last. For such a small country the diversity of things to do is simply incredible.

I am in Queenstown – the outdoor adventure capital of NZ and where bungee jumping originated. I am skipping the bungee jump.

Yesterday I flew in small plane (as co-pilot) to Milford Sound. The views, as you can see below, were spectacular.  I then took a boat throughout The Sound and lastly flew back to Queenstown via helicopter and landed on a glacier. I must admit I was scared as hell and clung onto the remarkably calm 80 year old woman next to me. I thought about grabbing the pilot’s arm or knee as he was on the other side of me but he was so busy playing with his iPod as he tried to get music to play I didn’t want to distract him even more while we flew incredibly close to the very steep mountains and landed on a glacier. I really thought I might have a heart attack to be honest.

I got back and was a little out of sorts and nauseas from the ride but decided to follow through with my plan to go paragliding. Fantastic!! Nothing like running off a mountain and letting a big parachute catch you. As I remarked on the incredible views, my awesome tandem teacher Jim said “yes, it’s a pretty good office.” That’s what I need I thought to myself!  A job that excites me while helping others in some way….not sure what that is though.

Anyway, I cannot even put into words the beauty I experienced yesterday so I will just share photos…

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My pilot Matt!

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Aiming for that happy smile down there at the end of this journey. I know many people have written me that they are “jealous” or “living vicariously through me” which is greatly appreciated but there are many things I wish I had in my life that haven’t played into my hand. Yet. I am shuffling the cards you see and hoping I come up with a winning hand. But along the way, the scenery and these views are helping me get back on track and deal.  Off to a more chill day of wine tasting today….


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Incredible views in Auckland juxtaposed with devastation in Christchurch….yet only an hour away. Perfection!

I lived though 9/11 which was devastating in every way possible and obviously was internationally televised and virtually lived on many continents. It was a horrific experience that no one should or hopefully will ever forget.  That said, yesterday in Christchurch, New Zealand I was overcome with an overwhelming sadness that left me speechless. A massive earthquake left this city in shambles in February of 2011 and nothing has changed. My dear friend, her husband and children live here and plough though each day and until I went downtown yesterday I didn’t understand why she hasn’t wanted me to visit. There is literally no city left.  It was shocking. Katrina shattered New Orleans, one of my favorite cities but within a year there was visible progress.  Here, sadly,  there is complete devastation and it is nothing that can be verbalized or exemplified in photographs but below is my bleak attempt to convey the nothingness that I felt…ImageImageImage

Today I took an hour drive to Akaroa. A beautiful French settlement which was stunningly beautiful. It’s amazing that only an hour away from such devastation Hector’s dolphins, fur seals and blue penguins captivated my attention and I must include the breathtaking landscape. It was a welcome reprieve from my crazy dreams, stress about my life that I am trying to forget or reconfigure and a welcome centering of living in the moment and seeing the beauty in every, single thing around me.  Below are some images of my day. New friends in every shape, size and form.  And a lovely job that was offered with an incredible view.

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A scotch and cigar are totally in my future…

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Fur seals….supposedly mean but boy they looked cute and comfy sunbathing!

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New friends pretending to work….

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A nice bathroom exit…

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Who wouldn’t be happy after this day?!

Ok a few photos from up north and my trip to the Bay of Islands….a small town called Russell and of course the Sky Tower looking out over Auckland.

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My future boss….and his great view. Image

Some last thoughts of the day….

Life is so short and you always think the grass is greener or that one will “get to it someday” but one should appreciate the moment because life is made up of vignettes and moments.

10 might seem young 20 might seem old 30 might seem young and 40 might seem old but you better appreciate every moment because it can stop at any second.

The world is vast and so many people are incurious. It bewilders me.

Families of people, ducks, cows, sheep, dolphins, penguins, seals…the ocean and mountains what’s better than New Zealand? Hmmm except that it lies on a massive fault line.

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At the end of the day….really this is all it’s about. To me anyway.

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It’s all practice and  a work in progress…but hoping to navigate closer to my path…


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Where Colorado meets the Caribbean….New Zealand smells like a honeysuckle and the service is…well it needs work to say the least…

I’ve come to the conclusion over the last five days (I am on day 6 but really 5 if you factor in jet lag) that New Zealand basically embodies the low key Caribbean mentality combined with the ocean activities and level of service married to a Colorado mountainous landscape and outdoor enthusiasm.  Yes. I agree with myself there. Granted I have only been on the Northern island thus far and my experience has been varied and interesting to say the least.

Auckland. Well it’s a big city. And, to me, it was like an even more sad Vegas complete with horrific fashion, faces and bodies to match yet on the edge of such incredible beauty which made it much more tolerable. Waiheke, an island I hated to leave today…low key beauty and such beautiful beaches and landscape. Yet I was strongly encouraged to come North – so it was a day of ferries, busses, more ferries and schlepping.  Six hours later here I am in Russell in the Bay of Islands.  Staying at one of the first hotels in New Zealand – name to be revealed later in case of crazy stalkers – yup have met a few characters in the last couple days. Shocker I know.  Not you M&M – whom I met near the beach in Onetangi and ended up bbqing at M’s house.  Always a great idea to go with two strange guys to bbq at one of their houses. Hmmm  – not my smartest hour but again not the first time. And here I am. Tonight I arrived at my hotel and literally made a b-line for the bar. At said bar I met Peter who invited me to have a drink with him and his boating friend. And thus my night began and basically ended at their table.

Which brings me to my last, and possibly only, point of the evening. That is – I have gained an enormous amount of appreciation for the American system of incentivizing restaurant workers via tipping.  In the US, generally, if you order something to eat or drink it arrives. It may take a while but at least you get it eventually. I have noticed or noted on several occasions in all of five days that I often order food and/or beverages and they just never get communicated to whomever is supposed to fulfill the order. It’s becoming a constant source of frustration. Now my Kiwi friend told me not to “get all American” on the staff but really how hard is it to eventually fulfill an order?  I mean seriously these are not difficult requests – red wine, French fries, water?! But as a person who loved waitressing and has travelled all over the world I now, more than ever, appreciate the idea of the tip. Monetarily “the tip” system provides an incentive and verbally, well, a “tip” is always helpful.  I think I have actually also met maybe one kiwi staff member – so it’s spring here and all the workers are apparently ex-pats who are stopping off to work for the summer. I have met folks from Ireland, England, India, Fiji, Germany, Argentina and a whopping two kiwi workers!  Fascinating.

That said, the human landscape while nothing to admire per se cannot compare to the actual landscape that has an over-riding scent of honey suckle and is simply beautiful…

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My view this morning….

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My new friends at Cable Bay Vineyard…

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I know these aren’t honeysuckles for the critics out there but they sure are gorgeous and the smell that enveloped my aura at 8am when I took these was amazing…

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The alleged Russian billionaire’s “yacht” that looks like a possible submarine to me – moored in Auckland for the last three weeks…

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Aboard my last mode of transportation this afternoon…

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Arrival…

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Sunset…ahhhhhh

And one new friend. Sorry K – too many beers…

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