Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm planning on doing a whole lot of this this summer.

Hello, polka-dot bikini. (Today is the first time I've ever worn one.)

I love Long Island ocean. It's rough. I always get scared swimming out. I am usually by myself, because I like to swim a long way out. I test myself by staying out there as long as I can bear it. The lifeguards inevitably whistle me in. The ocean is pretty terrifying-- you have no idea what could be lurking beneath you, creepy (and very real) ocean creatures that you couldn't even begin to imagine (who knows how God, or who/whatever, came up with them), riptides, silent, muffled, death by drowning. It's just so legitimately scary. So I can never stay out there very long by myself, but I also love how I am literally submerged in nature. In this primal force. Every muscle in my body is constantly interacting with it, and I am carried in its heaving and swelling. And then the dichotomy of how it drives you into the beach, while it sucks you back further into its depths again. I love how you have to fight to climb your way out of a Long Island ocean. And how bracingly cold it is! You always spend enough time lolling about on the sand while at the beach, it's refreshing to play with the opposites of laziness and warmth. And getting to flip-flop between both whenever it pleases you.

And what is it about eating outside? Everything is more delicious when tasted in the elements.

And now, the inevitable return to work tomorrow. But I'm sure my next beach visit is just around the corner. Hello, summer! How beautiful you have looked this weekend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I have a problem: my love for carbonated water is battling my habitual reduce/reuse/recycle mode.

I generally dislike water. I know, it's ridiculous, it's stupid, and it's just my reality. I love it when I'm kickboxing, but kicking it around the house? No thank you. I therefore usually wake up in the morning with a raging thirst. Because I am constantly dehydrated. I don't think it tastes that great, and I kind of resent my need of it. Yes, that's just my stubborn streak making itself known, let's move on.

Many places in Latin America, I was offered soda, (not generally a fan), agua, or agua con gas. It was purely on accident that I ordered agua con gas the first time, because I know as I child I was not a fan of it (I expected it to taste like sugary sweet soda if there were bubbles in it). And after that fateful day, agua con gas was my go-to when I felt I needed a treat. It was just as (in)expensive as a regular bottle of water, but it was a little extra special, and tasted just right on a hot, sticky day in Buenos Aires. I couldn't afford anything fancier, and backpacking is all about the simple pleasures.

Plus, Pellegrino? Please, amigos, what is classier?

I had dinner with a multi-millionairess the other night, and she definitely preferred sparkling water. I rest my case.

The problem with carbonated water? It doesn't come out of my tap. I cannot reuse the same aluminum bottle with every bottle of carbonated water I desire. You guys, if I were God, carbonated water would be gushing forth from our faucets. That's ok, you don't have to live on my planet, I didn't want you anyway.

Your answer is obviously to buy one of those machines from Bed Bath & Beyond with which you can make your own soda/carbonate your own water. If you had seen the postage-stamp size of my NYC apartment and the COMPLETE LACK of kitchen counter space, you would know this is not an option.

My current solution? I treat myself to an extra-large bottle of sparkling water whenever I shop at Trader Joe's, or when I have guests over. The weight of carrying more than that home (with the rest of the produce stand I am lugging), forbids me from overdoing it on the extra plastic. Until I have my dream kitchen with enough counter space for my SodaStream/espresso machine/juicer/Vita-Mix/food processor, this simple pleasure will just have to remain a special treat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've received some requests for more blogging. Which I find A) flattering, and B) curious. Because almost everyone I know is my Facebook friend. And I'm sure you've noticed what a fan of Foursquare I am. So you're pretty much aware at almost all times where I am and the gist of what I'm doing. Some people might find this enthusiastic use of Foursquare creepy. I'm basically inviting you to be my stalker. Some people probably see it as overshare.

What do I love about Foursquare? I really RELISH my outside-of-work-time. Because I work A LOT. Foursquaring about all my non-work activities is my technological celebration that I am doing something simply because I choose to. I also think it's that, rather arrogantly, I think I have excellent taste, and I don't mind sharing it with you.

One of my top Foursquare check-ins: the gym. Yeah, I'm sure you've noticed how frequently I'm there, and half the time it's with my fabulous accountabilibuddy, Rachel. Sometimes you can find me there on a Friday evening. I am not ashamed of this. My interest in physical activity, all-around wellness, and nutrition has really sky-rocketed in the last year. Ok, I admit it, I'm probably bragging just a little bit when I check in here. But I am also just genuinely proud of myself that for the first time in my life I regularly exercise, and in fact quite enjoy it. This required some major reshuffling of priorities. I did not grow up in a very physically active family, previous to this year I'd been overweight my entire life. I was always unhappy about it-- intensely so. I never felt like my outside truly reflected who I was inside, i felt such a disconnect. I couldn't wear the clothes the Real Laura would wear, I couldn't physically accomplish the activities the Real Laura would enjoy. I didn't feel like myself. That's a horrible way to feel (and not feel) for 20 years. I feel so much more connected with my body now- I feel strong, capable. It's truly delicious to leave the discomfort and shame behind me.

All 3 books that I'm reading right now are non-fiction and are related to the above:

Coincidence? I think not.

Another frequent Foursquare check-in? Third Rail Coffee. It is literally a block away from my front door, I have never been so spoiled. I have
a lovely Italian Bialetti at home with which to make my own coffee. But 2 things have led me to Third Rail just about every day: A) the best soy cappuccino I've enjoyed in my entire life thanks to the Stumptown coffee beans and Intelligentsia coffee beans they brew there (has rudely/brilliantly awakened me from Starbucks mediocrity), and B) the decrease of my coffee consumption. About a month ago I felt miserable and out of balance. To try to level out my emotions and general feeling of (un)wellness, I started eating differently. The eating choices discussed in Kris Carr's book, Crazy Sexy Diet (not a huge fan of the name) are basically how I would eat in my ideal world. Vegan, low-glycemic, alkaline, sugar-free, plant-based, organic, unrefined, whole-grain, gluten-free. Ok, I don't know if I'm COMPLETELY sold on the gluten-free part. But it has helped me avoid many a baked good calling my name. Coffee is very acidic, the whole idea behind the caffeine jolt is completely out of line with keeping your body and blood sugar level and balanced. But I LOVE coffee, coffee culture, and cafes, and I think it is absolutely valid and good that I keep this pleasure in tact. So I decided to cut my coffee intake from about 4 cups of coffee a day (usually ingested in the form of 2 very large cups) to 1 REALLY GOOD cappuccino (albeit with 2 shots of espresso) every day. That was my compromise. And it's worked out really well for me. I feel fantastico.

And if you've had breakfast with me lately, you may have noticed my new-found penchant for green veggie juice. Love it!

the Mormon question

I received a lovely email from my sister, Amy, this evening. She lives in Utah, and had been listening to a discussion on a radio show today about Huntsman vs. Romney, both being LDS potential candidates for the next Presidential run. Romney is pretty straightforward about his membership in the Mormon Church, and recently, Huntsman is apparently less so. When asked straight-out if he was Mormon, his reply was, "It's complicated." She understood there was some political strategizing going on, trying to appeal to multiple populations, but he also did not feel it actually as that complicated. You either are, or you aren't, Mormon.

She then started to explore the different possibilities. Is he less active? But his name is still on the Church roll. How about a caller in to the show who shared how, though he doesn't practice the religion actively anymore, he still calls himself Mormon because his family has such extensive cultural history in it? And then there's that shared acquaintance who doesn't attend Church anymore, but would still say yes if someone asked her if she were Mormon.

Which brought her around to me. How do I answer that question? (If you couldn't already tell by the title of this blog...)

I was so pleased to get her email-- such a graceful, curious, welcoming opening dialogue raising a topic that I have had some anxiety about with my family. I tend not to bring my departure from the Church up in conversation, because I am afraid of making someone feel uncomfortable, awkward, or sad when there is no need to be.

Here is my response:

"It seems like Mr. Huntsman's team would have come up with a more graceful answer to the question I'm sure they were all expecting. I agree, if he is less active now, it certainly is much trickier, more awkward, and difficult to successfully circumnavigate than if he is a fully-active member. And just because his name is on the roll of the church certainly doesn't mean he's active or believes in it. You actually have to go through quite the rigmarole to get your name removed from the church roll. It's quite a lengthy, inconvenient, particular process, which is the only reason I haven't done it. (I am a terrible errand-runner, and finding a notary to sign my exceptionally specifically-worded letter is just not something that's at the top of my to-do list. Let alone talk to some bishop I've never met about how I do actually want to leave the Church, you would think a notarized letter would be proof enough...) But either way, he should have been able to say something that was a bit more of a statement, rather than an obvious attempt to dodge-- especially as this show was airing in Utah.

When the topic comes up, as it surprisingly frequently does (I feel like the majority of first conversations actually raises the issue-- as soon as people find out I lived in Utah for an extended period of time, or went to BYU, they ask. And then they inevitably have 20 more questions. People are FASCINATED by Mormons, and I think especially fascinated by someone who used to be a Mormon and isn't anymore.) Oh, and there's the answer to your question. I say I am no longer Mormon. Follow-up questions almost always include who else in my family is or is not Mormon, at which point I acknowledge the extensive familial and cultural history that will always tie me to this religion and lifestyle, but I no longer identify myself as Mormon.

[Acquaintance] has made the argument that I will always be Mormon like non-religious Jewish people are always culturally Jewish. The Mormon religion isn't nearly as old as the Jewish religion, or as populous, or as geographically-specific, though I see her point. But the reasons that led me to leave the Church also lead me to not want to be linked to the Church in ideology. I do not choose that label, and I feel like I get that option at this point. The Mormon religion is a part of my family history and story, and it has clearly shaped so much of who I am, which in some significant ways I am very grateful for. But at this point in my life, I get to choose how I put myself forth to the world as, and I choose words and connotations such as vegan, New Yorker, artist, woman, agnostic, American, over a religion and lifestyle I do not believe in."