Hampton.

Snippet of conversation between Me and Mrs. Johnny Rocket:

Me: “I’m beginning to think that Hampton follows me around because he wants me to take him for a walk.  Not because he loves me.”

Pause.

MJR: “I’m so sorry that all this time you thought that Hampton loved you.”

Some Highlights So Far.

YMCA.

I grew up at the corner Y. My brother and sister and I spent our summers by the pool, eating Hot Fries, drinking Nehi, occasionally stealing cash from the cash box behind the register, swimming, yelling, being kids. These days the Y is in trouble, financially speaking. They can use all of the bucks they can get (which makes me feel pretty rotten about taking that cash so many moons ago) and so I decided to throw my $40 a month into the mix in the hopes that it might save this sweet place for future Beckas and Jennys and Keiths. I joined in mid March and have spent a couple hours a day there ever since. The first time I swam 10 laps. The second, 20. Now I’m up to 50. Most days, it’s me and a few retirees. I haven’t figured out how to keep the fog out of my goggles and I have no idea how to put on a swim cap, but I’ve been reminded how strong my arms are and how delicious chlorinated water smells and how lovely laying in the sun, exhausted, can be.

Malcolm Gladwell.

I’m all about routines these days. Mrs. Johnny Rocket and I often note how hard it can be to keep track of the days (is today Tuesday? Thursday? Damn, it’s Saturday. Again.) when you’re not heading to a job every morning. There’s not much I can do about that since I rarely look at a calendar, but I have been trying to at least stay consistent with my daily routine, even if I don’t know what day it is.

So every morning, I wake up and feed Hampton and head outside to sit in the morning air and read my “thinking” book. Basically, I give myself an hour every day to try to absorb something interesting and thought-provoking while I’m also absorbing two cups of black coffee. Thanks to my pal Reagan A, I have all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books and I’ve been making my way through them, one chapter at a time. I could bore you with more on this topic (and I probably will later), but the point of this brief highlight is to let you all know that, inspired by the Tipping Point, I’ve decided to try my hand at “tipping” two things: postcards and Dr. Scholl’s sandals (yes, the wooden ones). Many of you have already received evidence of the first. The second, the Dr. Scholl’s, is the bigger challenge. Since I really only spend time at Publix (where you can’t see my feet under my grocery cart) and the movie theater (too dark) I was hoping to get down to business and do my Dr. Scholl’s tipping at the hip pizza place that MJR introduced me to when I first came back to town. It’s the hip kind of spot that has bumper stickers and an hour wait and a beat-up van in front that you can eat your pizza in. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground about a week after I started tipping (the restaurant, not the van). Ugh, really, Satchel’s?

Paris. Or, that time I was burgled by dirty French thieves.

In April, I finally left the US of A! What did I learn? Sometimes when you leave the US of A you’re burgled by dirty French thieves (honestly, I don’t know if they were dirty. Or even if they were French.) In a nutshell: Carrie and I stuck to our plan (which was hatched back in December when I thought Paris would be a great re-introduction to the West after two months of travel in SE Asia; and when Carrie thought a week’s vacation from her busy multi-hyphenate life would be a welcome respite) and met in Paris for a week in early April. We rented a place via Air B&B and, on day 2, we came home to a kicked in door and all of our possessions strewn throughout the apartment. Burgled! Burgled by dirty French thieves! My iPad, phone, iPod, camera: all gone. A big bummer, but we managed to bounce back fairly quickly. Even as I write this, two weeks after the fact, I can’t get too worked up about it. It’s just stuff, right? The worst part: I lost some irreplaceable pictures of Johnny Rocket. That sucked. And he gave me that camera. But he gave me lots of other stuff that stupid French thieves will never take so I’m able to put it all into perspective. And we were in Paris.

The Introduction.

Okay, I’ll skip the usual “I can’t believe I’m writing a blog… How egotistical of me!” hemming and hawing and just get right to it.  2011 kicked my ass.  Bad stuff, one Very Bad Thing in particular, and I found myself at the end of the year with this certainty in my gut: I can’t be where I am today in one year.  Not even in one month.  So I went to a therapist (for the sake of my mom’s sanity) and My Therapist agreed: you can’t be where you are today one year from now.  And that was that.  Goodbye, job.  Goodbye, apartment.  Goodbye, New York City.  Hello, _____.

Of course, a lot more went into it then that, but the farther away I get from the decision, the less all-consuming it feels.  It used to be pages and pages, and now it’s one paragraph.  So what’s the point of this blog then, One might ask.  Good question, One.  I think the point is: I need something to focus on besides walking Hampton (more on him later), the A Song of Ice and Fire series (seriously, George RR Martin, the Red Wedding?  Are you f’in kidding me?), and swimming laps with the retirees at the YMCA.  But, more than that, I want to stretch my writing muscles and I’ve found that postcards and birthday cards aren’t cutting it.  And so, here I go.

January through April 2012.

Okay, I’m going to summarize the first few months since I didn’t manage to get this blog off the ground until now and it’s been ages since I actually talked to many of you.  Which means, many of you may be asking “How were your exciting travels to India and Southeast Asia?”  They haven’t happened, yet.  To be honest, I was just too tired.  I could have done it — India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand — but what I really wanted to do, especially after the big move in January when I cleaned out my Brooklyn apartment and packed up all of my remaining possessions and shipped 23 boxes to Florida before driving the rest myself in my lovely new car, was sleep.  A lot.  And then I found that I wanted to see Jen and John in South Florida, and spend time at the beach by myself, and start running again, and join the YMCA, and have lunch with my mom at the place she calls “the lady place” because they serve a daily quiche special, and hang out with my brother and his family, and spoil Hampton, and balance my checkbook, and spread my dad’s ashes on a snowy hilltop in California, and see my family in California, and drive to New Orleans and Austin with my baby niece (who’s not a baby at all), and run some more, and swim some more.  And sleep.

So that’s what I’ve been doing.  And I don’t regret it a bit.  2011 kicked my ass, but it also taught me that you have to spend time with the people you love as much and as well as you can.  I’m glad I’ve been doing some of that this year.  Mrs. Johnny Rocket is definitely getting tired of me asking her if she ate her breakfast yet and prodding her to go to the pool and pet Hampton and drink water and maybe watch a smidge less TV, but I also think she’s happy to have me around.  And I’m happy to be around.