Books of April

I’m halfway through my third book so I didn’t meet my goal, but I struggled to finish my first book of the month so I’ll call it a victory.

Unknown.jpeg Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King – I had finished several books in Hawaii and wanted something entertaining for the plane ride home so this was a spontaneously iBooks choice. The first 100 pages had me interested; the premise being that someone in a Mercedes plowed into a huge crowd of people, killed several, and got away with it. After the killer was never caught and the case died down, he wrote a letter to a retired detective and a whole cat-and-mouse story started. But seriously, this book was 400 pages too long, and kind of offensive. After proclaiming my love to Joe Goldberg in You, I obviously don’t have a problem connecting with a murderer, but in Mercedes, the writing felt so heavy-handed and didactic. The detective was a cliche: bored, fat, and missing the action. The killer was equally cliche: emotionless techy with a thing for his mom. I won’t get into the details (because there were so so so many completely pointless and redundant ones) but I couldn’t wait for this book to be over.

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Room by Emma Donoghue – Meanwhile, I couldn’t put this book down! I purposely didn’t see the movie or read reviews so that I could read the book first – and I’m so glad I was patient. You’ve got a young mother and her five year old son imprisoned in a garden shed by a stranger…for years. But rather than exploit the horrific physical and mental abuse that Joy (the mother) experiences, the story is told from the point of view of her five year old son, Jack. While sometimes he is scared, he is more curious and excited because Joy creates a world of safety in Room.

It’s a great story of survival and bravery, and unique in the way it’s told.

I watched the movie, which followed the book extremely closely. The book was a page turner, and the movie was just as gripping (hel-lo Brie Larson won the Oscar). Everything was just as I had pictured it. But I won’t lie and say it was easy to read or watch – it’s a story that sticks with you for some pretty dark reasons.

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Movie of April – 10 Cloverfield Lane

Well, March was crazy what with traveling to NOLA, Kansas, and Hawaii so I didn’t see a movie in the theater, but as soon as I got a free weekend I made sure to make time for 10 Cloverfield Lane.

As a big fan of Cloverfield (2008), I had been secretly following the gossip around 10 Cloverfield Lane  for a couple years. Between the name and JJ Abrahms also producing this one, I knew there had to be some kind of connection – but the real question was how much?

10cl_poster.jpgThe story kicks off right away with a young woman, Michelle, getting in a serious car accident and waking up chained to a pipe in what appears to be a basement (which sadly took my brain to Saw, Hostel, and god forbid Human Centipede). Her captor, Howard, (played by John Goodman) is anxious, short-tempered and claims to be saving her life (but from what we don’t know). cloverfield5-xlarge.jpgWe soon find out that they are living in a well-stocked fallout shelter with another young man, Emmett, who is grateful for the refuge. And that’s about the whole cast. On one hand, you’re hoping our protagonist escapes from her forced imprisonment, and on the other hand it seems possible that the world really has come to an end above ground.

John Goodman is creepy and loveable at the same time, and you know that I lovelovelove a smart and tenacious female lead.

The thing is that I don’t want to give away too much because there are so many things that keep you guessing throughout the film, and I would even venture that we may visit the Cloverfield universe in another upcoming story (please please please).

Here’s the trailer, and I totally recommend you catch this one for yourself.

 

A new item to the list – Learn to Meditate

My eyes were closed and all I heard was the waves from the beach. Thor blurted, “Are you meditating right now?”

I opened one eye and replied, “Maybe…why?”

“Because you never look that calm and serene,” he half sneers.

When I first started getting nutrition coaching, the doctor suggested meditation. I laughed, “Yeah that’s not me.” The more I worked with her, the more I realized how much the daily grind of life really played a massive part in how well (or how poorly) my eating habits played out. In lieu of meditation, she gave me a few simple breathing techniques to try and, despite my skepticism, they worked – especially when I had trouble sleeping.

But meditation? No thanks. I just don’t identify with people who do that.

This year, I considered adding “Learn to Meditate” to my annual bucket list, but it sounded so hokey. I wasn’t ready for that public shaming. It got omitted.

Yet earlier this month, when I was jetting setting to NOLA and working my full-time day job and planning our 10th anniversary party, I started to feel that “seriously overwhelmed” feeling that is usually reserved for the first and last week of school. Impulsively, I downloaded a meditation app called Headspace which claimed I would only need to take ten minutes out of my day. I settled alone on the couch for my first session, and felt “just had a massage” relaxed when it was over.

That’s when I decided to add “Learn to Meditate” to my official list, and have used the app almost everyday for the last two and a half weeks. At first, I did it secretly but sometimes I couldn’t find a moment alone and eventually had to spill the beans to Thor. As expected, he laughed and made fun of me for the first couple days, and then started prodding me about which app I was using. (You know, in case he wanted to try it).

It hasn’t been easy. Some days my brain is spinning and I just can’t seem to focus (or unfocus), and other days I’ve fallen asleep. The sweet spot seems to be somewhere in the middle (the term hypnopompic comes to mind). I’ve meditated on the couch, in bed, on an airplane, on the beach, and in my office.

You’d think morning meditation on a Hawaiian beach  would be clutch, but mid-way through I felt sand fly at my feet and through my headphones I could hear some lady screeching, “Put the chairs down here – RIGHT HERE!” I squeezed my eyes closed and pushed through, but it was a horrible experience. All I could think was that somebody was encroaching on my mindfulness time – how dare they.

I’m certainly not ready to cross this one off the list because I am still learning, but “Learn to Meditate” is official now – go ahead, make your jokes. Or you could try it, too, and tell me what you think.

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#21 – Ride a ferry from Maui to Lanai

Originally, I had hoped to ride a ferry from Maui to Molokai. Who doesn’t want a tour of a historical leper colony? Also, having already been to the other main islands many times over, I was hoping for a more secluded experience, if only for a day.

I had a vague picture in my head of what I wanted to do: ride the ferry (seeing a few whales and dolphins along the way), find a lonely beach, eat a picnic lunch and possibly take the official tour of the leper colony.

However, once we arrived in Maui and I started doing my homework, the only ferry I could find was pricey ($125 roundtrip, not including a car rental or shuttle) and it departed at 6:30am and didn’t return again until 7:00pm – that sounded seriously exhausting. But from our hotel beach, I could also see Lanai in the distance, as well. So I did some searching.

For $60 roundtrip, and multiple choices for departure and arrival, Lanai seemed to be the ticket. I read that a great beach was only a ten minute walk from the ferry dock, and that if we wanted to go to town, a shuttle could take us there for $10. So yesterday, that’s what we did.

It was easy to buy ferry tickets on http://go-lanai.com a couple days beforehand, and then boarded the top deck for a 6:45am departure. Once we took off, we caught the sunrise and immediately spotted several whale pods.

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The ride took about 45 minutes and we quickly unloaded at the Manele dock. It really did feel like we were in the middle of nowhere. Hotels and condos did not litter coast line (in fact, there were none at all), and the dock was just big enough for our boat.IMG_6873.JPG

Right down the road, we found Hulopo’e Beach – not exactly super private, as many locals were camping and the Four Seasons guests had fancy lounge chairs set up – but it was still a far cry from our crazy busy Napili Bay beach. The sand was powder fine and the snorkeling was the best of our trip. There were even bathrooms and a shower.IMG_6874.JPG

We spent the day lounging, and even though we could have eaten at the Four Season, we packed sandwiches and Hawaiian Suns and lots of water. When it got too hot we found shade in the grass and watched wild turkeys roam the park until it was time to get back on the ferry. IMG_6878.JPG

Upon further investigation, it would run you about $2000 a night to stay at the Four Seasons in Lanai. Bummer. But I still enjoyed watching the 1% be waited on hand and foot (the beach valet literally set up their lounge chairs, umbrellas, towels, paddle boards, etc).

I totally crashed out on the ferry ride home, and we still had plenty of time. For us, it was a good way to get away from the crowds (these spring break families are killing me!) and get some really good snorkeling in. Thor even said it was his favorite day of the trip (until today where he vegged out endlessly).

More info about Hulopo’e Beach can be found here: http://www.gohawaii.com/en/lanai/regions-neighborhoods/south-lanai/hulopoe-bay-lanai/

#22 – Go Paddleboarding in the ocean. Check.

As I had already found that stand up paddle boarding in lakes and rivers is relatively easy, my next goal was to try it out in the ocean. Surely the waves would make SUP more challenging, and where else to try than in Hawaii?

The thing about paddle boarding is that it’s seriously easy for pretty much everyone…or so I thought. Thor is notoriously better than me (and everyone else on the planet) at just about everything. A couple days ago we decided to play shuffleboard (both of us being equally new to it) and he won every single game. For the last ten years of our marriage, this is the status quo; I’m always the persistent sidekick, and he’s the naturally talented hero.

So when we rented paddle boards ($40 for the whole day) and drug them down to the beach, I was like, “Paddle out on your knees and then just stand up. You’ll get it.” But within the first five minutes, he had already lost his sunglasses from repeatedly falling back into the water. Meanwhile, I was paddling circles around him, “Less upper body; more centered on the board!”

While the ocean waves added a bit of challenge, it wasn’t any harder than navigating a boat’s wake in the river. I paddled back and forth across the bay. Thor, on the other hand, got frustrated and went inside after an hour.

Overall, I’m glad I tried paddle boarding in the ocean, although it didn’t end up being the workout I had hoped for. Also, once he had gone inside and I was all alone way out where the bay becomes the real ocean, I kept thinking, “What if a shark finds me? No one will know.” Then my eyes were playing tricks on me and I was seeing shadows circle my board and I decided to frantically paddle back in.

Sadly, I couldn’t take any pictures because we were in the water but you get the idea.
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Run #4 -Kapalua, HI

Every time I visit Hawaii, I live the same sort of ritual. Wake up at 5am, go for a run, have breakfast, lay on the beach, eat a sandwich, take a nap. Repeat.

What’s different about this particular trip is the location; typically we hit the Big Island, but for our ten year anniversary, we thought we’d change it up and go to Maui (first class all the way).

But wait! Where would I run?! I worried that because I was not familiar with the new area, I would end up running along a diesel-infused highway, or worse – not find a place to run at all. Really – I had a lot of anxiety about this leading up to the trip. It’s laughable now; once we arrived I looked at the map and said, “The Kapalua Trail is right around the corner…it looks okay.”

Fast forward to the LITERALLY the best running route I’ve known.

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Granted, with any new running route there is a lot of stopping and starting and “Is this the right turn?” But basically you take a well paved trail along the Kapalua Resort, and wind around through the Ritz-Carlton, with beaches on one side, and golf courses on the other. Amazingly, at 7am, there was hardly anyone around.

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Tired of running? How about a beach all to yourself? Just steps from the plank walkway that spans the whole beach.

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I’m pretty sure this is where the 1% go for their running. Unfortunately, I’m not used to running in this humidity and I was DRENCHED in sweat while wearing my official Bitch I’m Madonna concert tank, so there was no fitting in with the 1%. (Although two flamboyant men gave me enthusiastic thumbs up on the shirt).

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By the way – big shout out to another blog (right here!) where I first read about this trail. He does a way better job explaining how to find the trail and what you might see.

 

Run #3 – New Orleans

When you’re in town for business for less than 48 hours, it can be hard to exercise. Especially when you’re in New Orleans, staying on Bourbon Street, for the first time. I’ve got a Tina Turner cover band blasting outside my window, a 7am flight, and a fried food hangover. Culture shock would be an understatement.

But hey! I said I would run in twelve different cities this year, and thanks to my newest friend and colleague, Jacob, I’m 1/4 of the way there. In Carlsbad, he coordinated our morning “running club” and now in NOLA, he carved out just enough time for us to hop in an Uber and jet across town to Audubon Park for a quick run amidst all the activity.

I can’t say I really did a lot of exploring in NOLA due to time constraints, but running definitely took us to a less debauched side of town. Audubon Park is right across the street from Tulane University, with a paved two-mile loop around a golf course and duck pond. Spanish moss hung from giant trees, and the ducks were weird colors I have never seen. And opposed to my first impression of NOLA on Bourbon Street, the pavement was not covered in glitter and vomit.

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Unfortunately, we were so pressed for time that all we could do was a couple miles, but the point was that we got out there and ran (while the rest of the town was drinking Hurricanes).

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I can imagine this area would have been a great five or six mile loop to get a better view of the architecture and people, but I guess we’ll just have to save that for next time.IMG_6684.JPG