For the love of…seafood

Vacation. A time (and different place) when you remove yourself from the daily routines of life. A time to relax and maybe try new things. Wiseguy and I are in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. There is no snow (me doing BIG celebration dance). We are baking our pale skin in the sun so we become a nice golden brown. We swim in the salty ocean. We do things that we don’t normally do at home. Our routine is pretty consistent. There are no big adventures or escapades for us. It’s sleep, eat, swim, eat, nap, eat. Yes there is much eating on this, our winter escape vacation. For me it’s even more exciting as the abundance of seafood has me in awe. I LOVE seafood.

I am unsure of when my tastebuds first discovered the delectable pleasure of digesting water creatures. My parents grew up in a village in Croatia. Sure it was a 15 minute drive to the sea, but they weren’t seafood lovers. My father is a true carnivore with a hefty sprinkling of vegetarian. If he MUST have floater food then he might crack open a can of anchovies (weird but true). I joyously recall the first time I ate crunchy fried smelts. Sure, some of you call this fish bait, but to me they are similar to French fries. Yummy! My mother was delightfully surprised to see that one of her four children shared her seaworthy palate.

The next Friday (official “eat fish” day at our house) there were these caramel-coloured rings sitting on the table. Sure there was also battered cod fish (for those with the blander taste buds in our family), but my mother’s eyes fixated on mine as she winked over at me to try this ring of fried goodness. As I slowly moved fork to mouth, my lips curled around the deep fried treat and my teeth crunched into this new culinary delight. My tastebuds sang with joy! What was this? My mama read my mind. With a twinkle in her eyes she said “calamari” aloud. One of my siblings said “yuck that’s squid!” Huh…squid. I didn’t care. I loaded up my plate with this exquisite new food discovery. So it began.

My seafood journey was and is a long and slow one. My dear husband prefers the boring cod. I got him to try shark once. He has been brave enough to take a bite of grilled salmon. Yes he tried. No good. “Rubber” rings of calamari are just as bad to him. Tuna stinks. Shrimp are the wrong colour and definitely a horrible texture. Clams are white blobs that slither down your throat. Lobster! Ah the Creme de la Creme of the seafood world…are unpalatable and indigestible to Wiseguy. As Jim Gaffigan prefers to call them: sea bugs. Crabs make my hubby crabby. Smell and flavour, or as my spouse prefers to refer to it as stench and slime, will never win over my main man.

So here we are abroad, surrounded by water, and my seafood dreams have come true. Every appetizer menu section is a dancing list of seafood. Main courses consist of former water dwellers. I am in seafood heaven! Lobster and shrimp and crab cakes… Oh my! I have devoured crab cakes 4 days in a row now. Their crunchy outside yields to a soft, velvety centre. Even when we arrived at the resort they had wee little appetizer scoops of ceviche in the lobby. Actually hubby and I walk through the lobby every afternoon at the same time so I can devour at least three helpings. Fresh seafood is incredible!

In some ways I feel a little sad for those who cannot experience what my tastebuds are experiencing. Oh sure they can shove shellfish in their gullet, but the joy is not there. I compare my seafood feasts to having a large rich morsel of decadent chocolate cake. Don’t understand? How about tearing into prime rib or rib eye steak…juicy and succulent. Still nothing? How about a cheesy and creamy big bite of lasagna? Well whatever makes your tongue sing hymns of food praises THAT is what bite after bite of seafood is like for me. It may sound strange and perhaps slightly obsessive, but after all it is for the love of…seafood. Bon appetit!

Here’s your life…what’s your hurry?

Spring is in the air, that musty grass smell after being covered by snow.  The birds are chirping (quite loudly, I must admit) and there is this noise in the neighbourhood of children laughing and giggling and riding around on their bikes.  Spring is about renewal as everyone knows.  When others create their “New Year’s resolutions” in January, I wait until springtime to unveil to myself what my New Year’s persona is going to include.  After careful planning, intense deliberation, and weighing all the pros and cons I have decided that this is the year I will learn to slooooooooooooooow dooooooooooooooooown.  I am welcoming in my Year of the Snail.  How did I come upon this fascinating conclusion?  Sit back and relax while I tell you story.

Our tale begins with a middle-aged female, who, after years of dreaming and looking at pictures and requesting travelers to bring her postcards from their various vacationing destinations…finally got to travel to this place they all called “SOUTH”.  It was a wondrous place that this lady had heard about, where the sun continually shines, the water is pure majestic blue, the sand is soft, and there is nothing to do but smile and nap and do this bizarre action called “relaxing”.  Yes, so many very strange terms that the woman had never experienced before and yet here she was, ready to take this indiscriminate journey SOUTH.

Many tips and tricks were shared with the naïve female and her Wiseguy husband.  What to pack, how much to pack, where to go, what to do, where to eat, what to eat, health measures, first aid measures…her mind was overflowing with worry about this travel and if they would really be prepared for this overwhelming adventure.  After packing (over-packing truly), they spent a sleepless night and more tiresome day venturing before sunlight to the place where the metal birds fly you to this SOUTH place.  As tires touched ground at the destination, a tear slipped down her warm cheek.  She was SOUTH and it was like heaven on earth.

They stepped out of the plane into warm air.  No hail or snow, just glorious sunshine and palm trees.  She stared in amazement at the beauty of it all and had a hard time absorbing everything she was seeing.  “So this is SOUTH,” she thought and a calmness washed over her.  There was no fear of the unknown.  There was no more worry about what was packed.  For some strange reason, she knew everything would be wonderful here.  THE END.

THE BEACH

Yes, it’s all true.  I, the victorious lady in the story, was treated to a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (Thank you Most Awesomest Wiseguy husband).  One of many hot places that we here from the North call SOUTH.  Truly a great experience with wonderful people to meet and also lots of quiet time to relax.  No thinking about shoveling snow.  No thinking about work.  No thinking about cleaning or chores.  Really, somehow your brain gets re-set to think about what is really important in life:  remember to have fun and enjoy this ride called life!

Life should not centre on work and bills.  We always make those our priority and they usually lead us to fret and stress and sleepless nights.  Breathing in and out (which we are very lucky to do on a daily basis) and actually taking in and appreciating beauty and the good things we have around us are what makes us happy and makes this “life” thing worth living.

I officially welcome you to the Year of the Snail!  Try it!  Live with less rush!  (Factoid:  a garden snail travels approximately 1.3 cm per second).  Breathe…in…breathe…out… and appreciate what you have.   Don’t overthink or overplan everything.  There may not be any roses to stop and smell, but sometimes just listening to your breath, and knowing your alive is oftentimes the most valuable gift you will have today.  Here’s your life…what’s your hurry?

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”  ~Lily Tomlin

Fear of Trying…

Nope, that’s not a typo.  There are so many people in the world that have a fear of “flying” but over the years I have discovered that I am one of those people who has a fear of “trying”.

It started way back in childhood.  The need to have straight A’s in school to impress my mother.  I studied and worked hard to impress my teachers.  Oh, I was a doozie.  I remember actually making research projects of my own to give to my teachers.  Yup…need for attention was way high!  As I got older, it didn’t change much.  My identity was based on what other people thought of me.  If they liked me, then I liked me.  A hard way to get around in life.  The thought of being mocked or laughed at took over my life and not in a good way.

I never signed up for any school sports.  I might look stupid if I missed catching a ball.  My team mates would be mad if I didn’t run fast enough in relay races.  Playday…that should’ve been a fun day.  It would mix children from all different grades and create teams.  There would be all kinds of games like dress up or shoe toss and you would compete against other teams.  Fun right?  My fear of trying led to such nervousness that I would screw up so many simple games.  The year our team won 3rd place I was so excited!  I ran home to show my mom and got, “How come you didn’t get first place?”  Devastating.

Today’s thought isn’t about pity.  It isn’t about relieving sad parts of childhood.  It’s more about looking back to see how much I have grown as a person and how I finally managed to quash my fear of trying.

My first defense mechanism was humour.  If I tripped going up some stairs or something I would laugh at myself first.  Beat everyone to the punch.  That helped a lot.  It’s no fun making fun of someone if they are already making fun of themselves right?

Next, self-confidence.  That was a hard one.  When I realized it was most important that I impress myself instead of others it really helped me out a lot.  Funny thing is that this self-awareness was not something I had realized on my own.  It was when I started dating Wiseguy that I began a very interesting journey to self-awareness and confidence.  It was strange having someone say to me, “do what you think is right” when it came to family situations.  I didn’t know what was right.  Right to me meant making everyone else happy and not caring about how felt.  So, with lots of talking and analyzing he helped me figure out how that really worked.

Even trying new things.  I wanted to take a writing course.  He said go ahead.  I was averaging 94%.  When it came time to submit a story for my final exam guess what happened?  Yup, fear of trying popped up again.  What if they didn’t like my story?  What if I failed the exam?  What if … what if…and that was it.  Never got my certificate.  Wiseguy didn’t harass me or bug me about it.  I guess he realized it was going to be quite a journey for me.

Wiseguy would take me to new places, new restaurants.  We would drive someplace where he had never been before.  It was all about leaving the comfort zone.  That fear of failure or looking stupid in front of others would almost cripple me sometimes. Example:  I would never order food in a restaurant that I would not eat easily with a fork and knife or spoon.  Spaghetti?  Never…what if the noodle suddenly slapped me in the face?  Chicken wings…so messy.  Soup…I might slurp it.  Wiseguy hung in there and year after year I would get better. He would tease me about ordering the same thing so he would dare me to try something new.  My Fear of Trying became the Year of Trying.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times that my stomach gets so queasy from fear and it takes me a bit of self talk to get me to realize that life is about trying new things.  Failure isn’t necessarily a bad things.  You learn so much from errors if you take the time to step back.

I have been asked to emcee a very important upcoming event.  When first asked I got that wonderful, sickening, stomach tightening feeling.  My brain began racing with the usual What ifs.  Then the miracle happened as it nowadays normally does.  The excitement of trying something new, like Wiseguy had taught me, was worth diving head first into the pool of life.  I am sooooo excited and looking back, I can’t imagine why I would’ve turned down such a wonderful honour from someone whom I love so much.

My wish to everyone today, grab that one little fear of trying that you have.  Shake hands with it, wish it well on its new journey OUT of your life.  Make this your Year of Trying.    ♥

Living the Life

Well, I am so sorry for disappointing my regular blog followers.  Life has been quite invigorating for me lately.  Finding time to sit down and put my thoughts into words and into a newly entertaining blog, became quite a challenge.  I had to take my pick of what I should do.  Should I spend lots of time with The Princess and Little Kennie or write my blog?  Should I visit my niece in her new house and break bread with her or strap myself to my laptop?  Should I hang out with my visiting family from out-of-town, or should I hide away and start madly typing away?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love blogging, but sometimes real life escapes us because we are busy connecting with “web” people instead of spending time with those people who are around us.

So, last week, I referred to every day as a write-off, but in reality, it was only a vacation away from my trusty laptop.  It sat there, resting and charging everyday, while I was playing tag with Little Kennie and hanging out with The Princess.  Its little charge light was blinking away while I was in absentia visiting Monkey Breath at her new home.  (hmmm, maybe one day I shall rename her, but some nicknames just have to follow you through life.  Bwahaha!)  Upon return from my day trip, I joined my visiting family from Ottawa.  We sat outside, beads of sweat dripping from our faces, as we joked and laughed into the night.  My laptop?  It was not to be seen in my hands.

Don’t get my wrong, I typed little notes into my iPhone of incredible ideas for future tales.  Although socializing is great fun, my A.D.D. brain just seems to run its own course when there is a pause in conversation or when someone brings up a situation that just gets my mind off and running to that “writer’s idea” brain of mine.  I love to write.  I love to share tales.  At night, when I went exhausted to bed, my mind would still motor on with ideas, but my energy level would not let me stay up to type up these ingenious thoughts.

The next day I did feel guilty about not writing.  My body, however, was grateful that I got my eight hours sleep.  I would like to be able to get only 6 hours sleep and function like my normal self.  Sadly, this is not to be.  I have learned that I need to trust what my body is telling me.  If I miss that one hour that brings me to the magic 8 hour number, then quite a rebellion goes on.  The Yawn Monster just won’t leave me alone.  Just as the Red Eye Itch Developer goes to work basically blinding me with burning eyeballs. (Yes, I am a Drama Queen in case you hadn’t noticed already).

So, here I sit, all rejuvenated and happily clicking my keyboard keys with my thoughts of the day.  I am really enjoying spending all this time with family and friends.  I have even booked a dinner date with my cousins for a hang out night.  Very exciting!  I shall be traveling to a celebration this weekend.  I have a dinner date at a chinese restaurant tonight with my aunt and The Princess and Little Kennie.  I have an out-of-town lunch and shopping date with The Artist and her visiting sister.  How exciting can my life get?

So many people to joke with.  So many people to share stories with.  So many people who make me realize how great my life is and how much I am grateful to have them all in my life.  I am honoured that they are willing to spend their precious time with me as well.  I love them all.  I appreciate them all.  I wouldn’t change my busy lifestyle right now for anything in the world.  I also really value those who read my crazy thoughts and check daily to see what insane new thing I shall be writing about.  Thank you so much. 

If, however, you find that there might be nothing new posted…have no fear.  I shall return to type another day!  

I think I shall find a way to create a visual message on my blog…sort of like an answering machine.  It would say something like:  You have reached Maryann’s Life.  I am not here right now.  Please feel free to peruse past posts.  I shall return to entertain you another day.  www.Maryannslife.com  is out living Maryann’s life.  I hope you are going out and enjoying your life too.  ♥