Don’t be boring

Started from the bottom now we're here.
Started from the bottom now we’re here.

One thing I learned in my 20 weeks of Spanish class was “soy aburrida,” which means “I’m the boring kind of person.”

My biggest fear is leading a boring life. In fact, I’ve instructed some close friends to shoot me if/when the most exciting thing I have to talk about is a trip to Target. I want to do interesting things and challenge myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t like a comfy evening at home because I do appreciate those as well. I’ve come to realize I need more adventure and adventurous people in my life. I wrote a list of things I want to do this spring or summer or maybe next year when I’ve saved more cash *cough Europe *cough. Anyone want in? Anyone want to add to the list?

  • Hike
  • Trapeze class
  • Day trip to Boston.
  • Road trip to Maine
  • Road trip to the Carolinas
  • Multi-week trip through Europe
  • Zipline
  • Run the Tunnel to Towers 5K
  • Non-gym rock climbing
  • Visit Statue of Liberty’s Crown
  • Move back to the Northwest
  • Run, walk or bike the entire Burke-Gilman
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My identity

Empty space to be filled.
Empty space to be filled.

It’s ironic that while (very slowly) sorting out an identity theft situation, I’m taking a close look at who I am.

I’m taking a brand writing class, which is all about creating a brand’s image.

I’ve had a couple very eye-opening life coaching sessions. In the first one, I realized that my career isn’t top priority in my life. Yes, I want a fulfilling, challenging job, but more important is being close to people I love. And that closeness doesn’t necessarily have to mean geographically.

The second thing I learned is that my life doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. I thought marriage and kids meant living somewhere boring, watching a lot of TV, eating at chain restaurants and never doing anything adventurous or traveling. Meh, no thanks!

Turns out life doesn’t have to look like that!

It got me thinking about things I do want my Candace brand to be. I started the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis

I thought about how people have described me:

  1. Gets things done.
  2. Always brings dessert.
  3. Is serious.
  4. Is athletic.
  5. Is reliable.
  6. Is independent.
  7. Is always up for anything.
  8. Sells herself short.
  9. Is quiet.

And how I’d like to be described:

  1. Is adventurous.
  2. Is creative.
  3. Is funny.
  4. Gets things done when it matters.
  5. Is fun to be around.
  6. Has a great sense of style.
  7. Brings out the best in you.
  8. Knows her shit.
  9. Will never let you down.
  10. Loves big.

To be continued …

Warning: You will sound silly

I’m 18 sessions into Spanish classes, and I’m kind of ready to be done. At least for now. It’s a lot of work, and it’s so easy to get behind.

I’ve wanted to learn basic Spanish for years now. In April, I knew “hola,” “aqua” and some foods. But I finally got serious on my friend Rachael’s recommendation. She took French at FluentCity, a not-for-credit language school in the city. I love the classes. FluentCity has a practical approach to teaching. You learn essential phrases (I need to, may I, I want to …) and fill it in with the vocabulary applicable to your situation. It’s so different from how I learned French in high school.

But it’s also so frustrating. It’s hard to tell a story in class – we all have to share cultural experiences – without sounding like a kindergartener. “Tengo un amigo que se llama Carlos.” (I have a friend called Carlos.)

One week we played store. The teacher was the imaginary shop owner, and we were to point out what we want. “I want that hat. No not this one, that one over there.”

My teacher addressed this one week. “Learning a language as an adult is one of the bravest things I think you can do,” she said.

She explained that it’s difficult to lose your vocabulary. You are a professional with a career, but in Spanish class, all you can muster is, “Me gustan las galletas “Vivo en Nueva York.” (I like cookies and I live in New York.)

I’ve learned a lot in these 20 weeks. I just have other things vying for my attention right now, so I’m going to take a little break. But if you want to learn a language as an adult, I say get brave, sister! You’ve got this.

In the friend zone

I was busted the other day, recycling my itinerary as a New York City tour guide.

All smiles at Chelsea Market.
All smiles at Chelsea Market.

When Tara told me she was visiting, one of the first things I said was, “We have to go to Chelsea Market. I think you’ll love it.”

Tara loves gourmet food. She appreciates the time and love that goes into developing recipes. Unique flavors that seem to go together perfectly thrill her. The building is simply astonishing in itself. The textures, the lights. It’s gorgeous.

On Day 1, I found Tara at JFK in the wee hours of the morning last Sunday. After a disco nap back at my place, she was ready to take Manhattan.

I suggested we start at Chelsea Market, grab lunch at The Meatball Shop nearby and walk the High Line. Along the way, we stumbled upon an Intelligentsia Coffee at the High Line Hotel and I wanted to stop in.

While relaxing in the hotel’s courtyard, we posted pictures from the market. My friend Mary busted me. When she was here, my first stop with her was Chelsea Market, too. We stopped at the Prvie sample sale and had crepes at the market. I guess Tour Guide Candace needs some new material. I added some unique places for the Tara trip, which is much longer than Mary’s visit. Coney Island, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Crunch gym, Broadway ticket lotteries and the Hudson River Park.

We added an impromptu city cupcake taste test and a couple trips to Brooklyn to hang out with our boo Navani.

Other favorites on my list include:

Grand Central Station

Dylan’s Candy Bar

Brooklyn Bridge

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

SoHo

Central Park

The courtyard at MoMA

International Center for Photography

 

Down the Shore

I don’t have tell you that mocking New Jersey is a national pastime, but this isn’t the time or place.

IMG_4603
Nothing left of Fun Town

In October when the East Coast took a beating from Superstorm Sandy, New York got a lot of attention, but New Jersey really took the worst of it. The beautiful and beloved coastline was destroyed in many places. Homes were turned into piles of rubble. The boardwalks blew away. Residents were left without power for days or weeks. The beloved roller coaster at Seaside Heights was relocated in the ocean.

I never went “down the Shore” before the storm, but I got my first drive along Ocean Avenue this weekend.

IMG_4602
Fun Town remnants

Miles and miles of gorgeous coastline were open to sunbathers, diners and runners, bicyclists, etc. It didn’t take me long to stop cracking Jersey jokes and stare at the beauty in awe. Meanwhile, my Jersey-native friend looked forlorn out at her beloved surf towns. “There used to be a house there. There was a nice restaurant there.”

As we drove, we saw piles of rubble, entire homes that had literally been jacked up and were now on 10-foot stilts. We saw shuttered businesses. Sand still filled backyards blocks from the shoreline. Some houses were still standing, but crooked off their foundations. (I didn’t take pictures of the houses. I didn’t want to be that kind of tourist.)

As we enjoyed a perfect late-summer day at Avon Beach and Seaside Heights, we chatted with waiters, ticket sellers, bartenders and others. They all expressed sadness that visitors didn’t return to the shore this summer. After the storm, people rethought summer plans. They weren’t sure if the shore would be open or if motels and cabins would be rebuilt and available for rent. They were missing out, because the Jersey Shore was drop-dead gorgeous.

Travel Guides

A co-worker/friend created a list of suggestions for me while I was in New York last week. I asked for fun things that real New Yorkers do, not touristy stuff. Here’s what she gave me:

High Line Park
Chelsea Market
Union Square
Rockefeller Center
MOMA
Shop Soho between Houston and Grand
Greenwich (Bleeker Street)

So as I prepare to leave the city I love, I decided to make my own list for visitors to the Emerald City.

Wine tasting in Woodinville
Pike Place Market
Smith Tower Observation Deck (skip the Space Needle)
Coffee in Fremont
Microbrew at Elysian, Elliott Bay, Hale’s or Pyramid …
Take in the mountains: Cascades to the east, Olympics to the west. Better yet, visit Rainier
Olympic Sculpture Park
Argosy boat tour. Touristy, but fun.