Run #5 – Thousand Oaks, California

This week I was invited to the Corwin head office in Thousand Oaks, California, for an insanely rigorous training that is still making my head spin. Whenever I’m in a situation where I’m expected to take in an egregious amount of new content knowledge in a short period of time, a power run before dinner is my go-to strategy to firm up all that new learning.

I was lucky enough to squeeze in three runs (and a lot of walking) over my five days, despite being cooped up in a board room for most of our time together. Compared to Portland’s never-ending soggy perma-grey days, the sunshine in southern California was an immediate reason for hitting the pavement, even if I was exhausted.

If I could sum up Thousand Oaks in one image:

Granted, I didn’t get to venture outside more than a three mile radius, but Thousand Oaks seemed comprised of chain restaurants, well-paved sidewalks, and a lot of church ladies. My best run was 3.5 miles up through a quiet neighborhood that appeared to border the Santa Monica Mountains natural areas. A windy road took me up (and I mean up 400 feet in less than a mile) where I ran across many runners, people watering their lawns, and a relatively tame bunny.

The views were pretty nice and I’ve never felt safer on a run, as everyone gave friendly waves, drove 5 mph, and gave me a wide berth, even if I was on the sidewalk. (Maybe they were just worried I was going to pass out). I would also like to give another big time shout out for how insanely clean the whole town appeared to be. While Athens and Paris may have had the history and culture, they were slathered in trash and smelled like piss. Nice work, California.

Despite not having any gas in the tank, I had some good head-clearing routes and even ran into a friendly crow (who took several hops in my direction when I said hi – hopefully he tells his friends):

I have a feeling I’ll be returning to LA in the near future and it’s growing on me.

#23 – Sell my dad’s house. Check.

Over the years, my bucket list has primarily focused on the fun and unusual, but it’s always been sprinkled with a few responsible, laborious tasks, as well. Getting my principal’s license or teaching a college class are good examples – they certainly aren’t fun, but they move me forward in other ways.

Let’s be clear: in 2016, I didn’t say to myself, “Gee! Selling my dad’s house should land on my bucket list!” No, no. Instead it was a, “If I don’t put this on my bucket list, I might never get it done.”

I would like to thank my career as a teacher for preparing me to move my father into a retirement home while also selling his house, and holding down several jobs at the same time. I’m one hell of a project manager. In no means do I consider myself an expert in transitioning elderly parents or real estate ventures, but I did learn a lot that I can reflect on if I have to do this again (god forbid).

Top 5 Things I Learned Selling My Dad’s House

  1. Ask people for help. Find a few very trusted, reliable and handy people who are willing to move furniture, clean bathrooms, and not ask a lot of questions. I would actually say those who had no connection to my dad were the most helpful because they didn’t have any emotional attachment or context – they just saw what needed to be done.
  2. Don’t ask people for help. Once it was out there that my dad was moving, the vultures started circling. People I barely knew offered their “help” which turned out to be very complicated, and made the process worse. I quickly learned to keep the process controlled and quiet.
  3. Offer Up is the best app out there. I’m so disappointed I didn’t use this earlier. I gave away SO MANY things out of sheer desperation. EVERYTHING MUST GO! But once I started using Offer Up, it was a gamechanger. That clock I don’t know what to do with? Those bunk beds I can’t take apart? The box of dishes that are too nice to donate? Someone is willing to come buy it in the next hour. Boom!
  4. Plan a vacation. Some days, the only thing that got me through was knowing that I had a trip planned for spring break. At the same time, after spending 150+ hours on the house alone, I’m treating myself to a vacation at the end of the summer. Consider it my commission.
  5. Start thinning out your own belongings. What if you were paralyzed tomorrow? Or even died? Who is going to go through all of your stuff? Do you really want your family or children to have to put their lives on hold so that they can box up those books that you’re never going to read again? We spend our lives amassing belongings only to have someone else get rid of them. Do everyone a favor and get rid of your shit.

This year has been rough. I feel several years older, and not much wiser. At the same time, I’m lucky that I don’t have siblings who want to bicker over the tough decisions, or that I have a flexible job that allowed me to take an hour off here and there during the day. Had I have been teaching in the classroom, surely I would have set the house on fire (just kidding…).

The good news (great news!) is that it’s all done. I signed the papers last week and the new owners have taken possession. It’s DONE. Which is a good thing because my Saturday’s are immediately reserved for coaching soccer – no rest for the weary!

Now the focus returns to the fun and unusual bucket list items, and already I’m planning my time capsule, looking for crows, and working on my planks. I also added a new item (#24 – Join a social club) that I will be writing about very soon, which definitely falls under the fun & unusual category.

BTW, my dad is doing great. He is official an ambassador of his retirement home and shows the newbies around (even if he can’t remember where things are). He goes swimming weekly, has a personal trainer, and has pretty specific advice for the Blazers as they move into the playoffs.

 

#9 – Go to Bharma in Barcelona. Check.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the television series, LOST. (The only person I know who might be a bigger fan is my friend, Kylene, who named her son Sawyer. That’s right. She did that.) Beyond binge watching the show over and over, I’ve integrated pretty legit lessons into my own classroom (my former 6th graders could analyze and deconstruct literary themes in key LOST episodes as if they were college grads).

You can whine all you want about the last episode not being the epic masterpiece you had hoped for, but realistically I feel like the show gave me years of enjoyment and it really changed the culture of how we watch TV. It was the first show to really cultivate Reddit fan theories and did a lot to incorporate teasers outside of just a typical commercial. LOST even pulled a few stunts to give fans their own twists by sending out fake casting calls and leaking fake episode synopses. You can blame LOST for the reason that no one was surprised William was the Man in Black last year in Westworld. We watch TV differently now. It made us more attuned to plot lines, and pay more attention to foreshadowing and character building.

It’s been seven whole years since LOST ended, and you’ve probably forgotten how great it was. Let me take you down memory lane:

Remember Jack crying in virtually every episode?

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Or Sawyer’s sarcastic quips?

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How about Kate’s inner turmoil?

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And who could forget Hurley and Charlie’s bromance?

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Remember how Sayid could snap a man’s neck with his hands tied behind his back?

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Or how blown your mind was when they found the hatch?

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How about when Sun traveled through space and time to get back to Jin?

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I bet you also forgot that Michael played alongside DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet.

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So blah blah blah you didn’t like the way LOST ended? Get over yourself already. It was (and still is) a great show.

Now that I’ve gotten that part out of the way, let’s talk about the LOST-themed bar in Barcelona, Bharma, which I have put on my bucket list this year.

First off, I didn’t do a lot of research, for fear of getting my hopes too high. Instead, I knew a LOST-themed bar existed and that I would be traveling to Barcelona, so put two and two together.

Bharma is located somewhat away from the touristy parts of the city (though we still took a meandering walk to find it so it wasn’t terribly out of the way). Straight off, it looks cool.

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And that’s mostly where the fun ended. The hours on Yelp showed that Bharma is open typically from 8:30am – 5pm, and then again from 11pm-3am. As we showed up at 12:30, you would think it was a safe bet. Instead, the place was empty and the waitress seemed annoyed with our entry. She also let us know that the kitchen was closed until 1:00.

Okkkk…we sat to have a drink and wait it out. When I asked for a menu, she said they didn’t have one. Riiiight. The guy behind the bar seemed equally unenthused with our presence. It is literally the only place in Barcelona where we have experienced crappy service.

I spent some time checking out the decor and memorabilia, which was fun but also not mind blowing.

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40 minutes later it was clear that the kitchen was not going to be opening for us and we decided to pay our check and peace out for a lunch elsewhere. Hey Bharma, we traveled 5,500 miles and you are going to roll your eyes at us? No thanks!

Bharma wasn’t a total bust because we still had an adventure and can say we went, but frankly I wouldn’t recommend it – even for someone who is super into LOST. Instead, just come over to my house and let’s marathon a season together; I’ll order some official Dharma logo’d snacks and show you some show memorabilia that I own.

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Run #4 – Paris, France

My last (and only) time in Paris was a bummer because my knee was taking orders from my knee surgeon to take the summer off from running. I couldn’t get it out of my head that I never got a chance to run in Paris, and felt a redo opportunity would have to present itself at some point.

Lucky for me, that “some point” was this week. Though the first couple of days I was still shaking off some jet lag, yesterday morning I woke up and hit the road at 8:30am (a.k.a: the crack of dawn for the French). During mid-day, the sidewalks and bridges are clogged up with pedestrians and rogue bikers, but in the morning there are relatively few people out in the most touristy areas. I randomly chose to run up and down the Seine, along the paved paths rather than the uneven stone sidewalks on the street level.

Along my route, I saw many other runners (sadly none of them women), commuters, and the occasional fisherman.

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See? No people.

It was also a nice time to catch Notre Dame before it the tourist rush filled the square.

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See? Just a few people.

As I knew we would be walking the rest of the day, three miles was plenty, and just enough to get me started for a day of eating all of the things.

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Today we took the train to Barcelona so you can pretty much guess what Run #5 will be. Lord knows I need to exercise off egregious amount of food we are eating.

A lot of things are happening right now. At work, I’ve been joking that I should change my email signature to “The Fixer” as I’ve been assigned to some of our biggest crisis schools, which is seriously time consuming. (Sidenote: … Continue reading