The Best Weekend Of My Life

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Last weekend was hands down the best weekend of my life. It was the kind of weekend I’ll forever be chasing and trying to recreate. I took a couple days off work and spent 4 days at my parent’s house on the lake between marathons of Settlers of Catan with my siblings. We even got in a huge, serious fight over questionable moves which in hindsight only contributes to the awesomeness of the weekend. Every story needs a little conflict, right? I soaked up some sun with Tara on the deck on the lake and while Jeremy baited hook after hook for all our nephews.

I hardly have the words for how magical last weekend was – but I have to make note of it here so I can always remember how fantastic those 4 little days were.

Happy Friday everyone. Here’s to the weekend.

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3 Years

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Yesterday morning Jeremy and I had both forgotten it was our 3 year anniversary.

So that evening after work, we decided to celebrate by ordering an Old Fashioned or two at our favorite bar. We discussed how life would be different if we weren’t married. We talked about how far we’ve come in 3 years – from short black hair to long blonde curls. From the sandy beaches in Mexico to the top of Kala Patthar in Nepal. We talked about our favorite parts of being together and least favorites (for Jeremy it’s doing my laundry – but that was part of our prenup).

After an hour or two of chatting and sipping on our cocktails a man named Larry came and sat down next to us. Larry is a metal artist and architectural designer. In fact, he had a part in building this house. When I told him I blogged about that house and was then invited to a house tour he exclaimed “You’re the blogger!” Apparently he had heard that story. We spent the rest of our evening with Larry talking about life, art, design, architecture. And when we told him it was our anniversary he treated us to champagne. It was perfect.

When we got up to leave we both gave Larry a big hug. He told Jeremy that he was a winner winner chicken dinner. But we all know I’m the lucky winner here.

The Trouble With Getting On Boats With Strangers

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The trouble with spending a day on a boat with a stranger is that I have lots of people who love me. Particularly my husband. So imagine his concern when he receives the following texts throughout the day:

11:24AM: I made friends with a Greek man at Starbucks. He has a boat.
1:01PM: We’re having a beer on an island!
2:58PM: I’m at the marina behind Starbucks. Yiorgos is cooking me some shrimp and salmon.

I thought I was being really great about checking in. I even included vague* locations – just in case Jeremy needed to come search for my remains. And while I had the entire picture in mind and felt perfectly safe, my texts left lots to the imagination. *I’m admittedly not the best communicator.

And every time I start to tell the story to friends or family they cover their mouths and their eyes get wide. They are convinced the story is going to go in a different direction that ends badly. So it always feels anticlimactic when it ends with: And then I said goodbye and went to the farmers market.

The whole adventure brought up LOTS of questions that are yet to be answered. Things like:
• How risky/brave/stupid is it to trust a stranger? For me, I have flexed my muscle around believing most people are good and have never had my trust violated in such a way that makes me afraid of anyone I don’t already know.
• Is this a feminist issue? If I were a man or roles were reversed would it be so risky/brave/stupid?
• Is this a cultural issue? Has the media made it so women in the United States are terrified of everything?
• Where do I draw the line? Part of what Jeremy loves about me is that I’m not afraid – but the way I spent my day had him worried (with good reason). I have to balance my desire for adventure with Jeremy’s need for consideration. For us we decided the line is drawn when it goes from a public setting to a private setting.
• What could I do differently next time? This is the hardest question to answer because there were so many variables to that day. It’s hard to make rules for yourself when you actively seek out different experiences in life. Ultimately, I’ve decided that it all comes down to communication. If I can properly communicate my expectations, locations and intentions I can create a safe perimeter around my crazy adventures. Boundaries that will make Jeremy and my mom feel better about letting my free spirit roam.
• What exactly was my gut saying? The fact that I even had to check with my gut at all says that something was amiss – that what I was doing wasn’t completely okay. And you guys – I’m really not even the best judge of character. I just knew that if shit went down that I’d be able to handle it.
• What if? I won’t entertain the questions of what could have happened. Part of being present means assessing a situation for what it is and not becoming too preoccupied with what ifs.

So I’m not saying everyone should throw caution to the wind and get on boats with strangers. I made some decisions that day that make lots of people really uncomfortable to even hear about. But I do wish we could all be a little less afraid.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

My Friend Yiorgos

It’s 3PM on a Thursday and I’m on a boat somewhere on the west coast with a middle-aged Greek man. Jeremy’s becoming increasingly worried but meanwhile I’m having the best shrimp of my life.

But let me back up a little bit.

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This story starts with Jeremy needing to take a business trip to Long Beach, California and me asking to tag along. I’m craving a change of scenery and can work from anywhere. It’s a Thursday morning when we part ways – Jeremy and his coworkers off to his all-day meeting and me to my office-away-from-home-office: Starbucks (it’s not local, I know, but it’s reliable). I walk about a quarter mile along a very busy street – past palm trees and oil rigs to the closest Starbucks. I order a grande Pike with room for cream and an oatmeal.

This story starts like any mundane non-event at a coffee shop. I settle in at a table and pull out my laptop only to find it completely dead. I scan the room for a place to plug in – there is a spot on a couch next to a man who looks like someone The Sartorialist would photograph reading a paper. He’s middle-aged with a bit of scruff and tanned skin – a sherling woodsmen cap with the ears turned up, a Hawaiian shirt with a black windbreaker, khakis and boat shoes. He meets me with a smile and offers to plug my computer in to the plug closest to him. I take a spot on the couch and as my laptop struggles to get enough juice to turn on we chat. It’s clear he’s not from here and it’s clear that I’m not from there. I ask where he’s from – he says Greece. His name is Yiorgos and he’s been in Long Beach for over a decade now.

So now my computer has enough charge to check my email and launch Photoshop. And at this point some construction workers start tearing down the Starbucks wall with a jack hammer. It’s loud and I can’t recall exactly how the conversation went down but Yiorgos offers to take me to a quieter place. I ask him if he’s going to kidnap me and he says no. I check in with my gut and my gut says today is not the day I’m going to be murdered by a serial killer. So I follow Yiorgos to a marina behind Starbucks and step into a little boat – a dingy – he has tied to the dock.

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Yiorgos gives me a tour around the marina and I continue to check in with my gut. I think about that thing Oprah taught me when I was 8 – you know the one – about never letting someone take you to a second location. Because at a second location you’re dead meat. But the sky was really beautiful and the water was the perfect shade of blue and Yiorgos is telling me stories about boats and Greek politics. I never feel scared because I’m too distracted by the combination of hot sun with cool wind on my face.

Naples

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We coast along the Rivo Alto Canal and I’m enjoying having a personal tour guide through the island of Naples. We laugh at the names of boats and laugh at the irony of all the people having to work on such a beautiful day to afford said (empty) boats. Meanwhile, we’re on a dingy enjoying the day. As Yiorgos kept reminding me “You can always work tomorrow.”

It’s 11AM and we decide to dock and have a microbrew in a restaurant with a view of the ocean. Jeremy texts asking if I want to join him and his coworkers for lunch. This is when I reply “I’m on an island with my new Greek friend having a beer.” He replies with a light hearted joke about not getting murdered and to have fun.

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We spend a couple hours over a large pint of IPA and just when I start to think about ordering food Yiorgos insists I go back to his boat so he can grill up some shrimp and salmon to eat. I check in with my gut: Second location, Kathleen. Second location! But this day is turning out to be something straight out of a Sofia Coppola movie and I can’t say no.

We go back to Yiorgos’ boat – I settle in on the deck of the boat with my laptop and check my email and prep a few files for printing while Yiorgos gets the grill going. I continue to text Jeremy so he knows I’m safe while at the same time making plans to meet up with my friend Rory who is headed down from LA to spend some time with me.

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All of a sudden there are fresh veggies on cutting boards and Yiorgos is marinating and adding spice to the shrimp and salmon. The man clearly knows his way around making a superior meal from simple ingredients. By this time I’ve stopped making escape plans justincase and am enjoying the moment. By this time I’m falling in love – not with Yiorgos – but with the day. A day that started out like any other day. A day that was supposed to be quiet and perhaps even lonely. I was falling in love with who I was that day – someone who would get on a boat with a stranger new friend just to have a story to tell. “What a day…” I kept telling myself. I mean, nothing particularly exciting or scary or brave or adventurous went down – but it was a day I’ll never ever forget.

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Last two images by Rory Gordon. See where her side of the story picks up, from her point of view, here.

The Working Artist

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Whenever I get insecure or scared or overwhelmed or simply tired in my newfound role as a creative entrepreneur I think about my brother. Donny (aka Donny Vomit) cut his teeth as a professional sideshow performer on the boardwalk of Coney Island. He was in his mid-20s when my parents encouraged him to give it a shot – to leave Oklahoma and make something of himself (and his unusual talents) in New York City. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll admit that I thought he’d be crawling back home within a year.

But 8 years later Donny continues to work hard every day to make a sustainable living (in NYC no less) hammering nails into his head, swallowing swords, juggling chainsaws and eating glass. He makes it looks so easy – because that’s his job. To make it look easy. We’re not privy to the artist blocks and anxiety that washes over him prior to an important show.

So yeah. When I start to feel exhausted by the hustle that comes with being an artistpreneur I find a little strength in thinking about the non-stop work and energy that Donny puts into his job. I feel a little bit like we’re in it together.

Lately Donny has been touring with The Pretty Things Peepshow. If you’re lucky enough to be in a city along the tour route you’ll see how easy this troupe makes it look. Every night they show up and they do the work – after long days of getting from here to there in a deteriorating RV, on broken toes, and sore bones – but you would never know it. All you see is a really great show full of really talented performers. Their endurance and professionalism is admirable.

I don’t usually do this but if you have a few minutes please check out and support their Kickstarter project. My favorite is pen pal postcard package for $75. Jeremy and I will be donating an additional $1 for each blog reader that supports The Pretty Things Peep Show Tour Bus or Bust Kickstarter project. Just comment below or shoot me an email to jeremyandkathleen [at] gmail [dot] com to let me know you donated. Thanks in advance for your support!

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