Kayaking in Weeki Wachee.

Tourists may know of Weeki Wachee Springs as being the home of mermaids. It’s apparently an attraction that draws a high number of visitors. I can pretty much guarantee you, though, I will not be one of them. Seeing humans dressed in mermaid costumes, swimming in a pool, will never be on my Memory List.

For me, the draw of Weeki Wachee Springs is its crystal clear water and lazy-river current. That’s what I was thinking of when I added this memory to my list. I’ve been kayaking there before, and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to experience that again.

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Getting a tattoo.

As with many things that I’m doing because of my Memory List, getting a tattoo has been something on my mind for a couple of years, but I never made it a priority. I didn’t really know what I wanted, and without being sure of a design, I wasn’t going to go through any sort of pain to get something permanently applied to my body.

In the days and weeks after I decided to leave my marriage, the idea of getting a tattoo popped back into my mind. A small, simple, black bird, with spread wings on the inside of my right wrist felt the closest to being true to me and how I was feeling. A bird flying free, unrestricted by the limitations of the Earth’s terrain was the poeticism I was looking for.

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Getting on the scale and seeing that I’ve lost 10lbs.

This is the memory I’m most proud of. At least, so far.

Exactly a month ago, on the last day of August, my weight was the highest it had been in over a decade. For the days, weeks, and months prior, every time I got on the scale, I watched the number creep up. Every time, I told myself I was going to start changing things and getting back on track to losing weight. Every time, I lied to myself.

That is, until August 31st.

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Going on a hash!

I suppose it was a couple years ago that I first learned what hashing was. My first assumption was that it had something to do with the cannabis plant. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the intoxicating resin from the plant co-exists in the hashing community, members of the Hash House Harriers (a.k.a. “hashers”) describe themselves as “drinkers with a running problem.”

The running part of the activity always kinda turned me off from it. I’ve never seen myself as a runner. And, honestly, I’m a pretty cheap drunk, too. So, I worried that joining a group of people focused on running and drinking wasn’t going to be for me.

It wasn’t until a friend of mine, who’s a hasher, told me that some people walk and some people just drink water, I started to entertain the idea a bit more. The fact that the community also prides itself on its musical prowess, littered with incessant sexual innuendos, convinced me to at least try it out once.

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Baking a challah bread WITH RAISINS and making it into french toast the next day.

Last weekend was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Just after sundown on the Friday, with my challah bread baking in the oven for the first stage of my memory, I received the news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I was gutted.

In some respects, I feel like the tiny, 5’1″ Ginsburg was holding this country together. I haven’t only been mourning her death this week, but I feel as though I’m also slowly saying goodbye to the democracy of the United States.

I’ve been carrying around so much existential dread since the results of the last presidential election were confirmed, I could write a novel. A long one, with table of contents and a bibliography. But, you’re not here for that. You’re here for fresh baked bread and a french toast breakfast.

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Getting a legitimate mohawk & 32. Dyeing my hair a funky color.

I have a feeling that 2-for-1 memories will be an extremely rare occurrence, but I intentionally aligned the stars a few weeks ago, and got a complete hair makeover. I had been tempted to get a mohawk for the last 2.5 years, but I never seemed to have the guts to get it done. I never seemed to be able to, well, cut it.

When it came to dyeing my hair a funky color, it had also been something I wanted to do, but struggled to commit to it. Other than my freshman orientation week, when, on a whim, I bleached and dyed my hair fire engine red myself, I had been staring at the same natural brown hair color in the mirror my entire life.

In writing my Memory List, it just felt like it was time to take the plunge with both of these styles. I was simultaneously nervous and excited. Scared and eager. Hesitant and ready.

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Putting a bumper sticker on my car.

I see the bumper of my car as a blank canvas. What do I want the lucky folks behind me at a stoplight or people walking by in a parking lot to read? I certainly like puns, but I’m not sure a bumper is the best something like that. Maybe I want something deeper, something that will make people think.

But, what? It’s a question I’ve pondered for a number of years. When I added this memory to my list, it was my way of forcing me to finally stop and figure out an answer.

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Walking around the neighborhood and counting the number of peacocks I see.

By the end of August, I had finally gotten fed up with witnessing the number on my scale consistently climbing. I wasn’t happy with myself, and I no longer wanted to be caught in the downward spiral. I knew that if I could put a strong effort in, for at least a few solid days, it would be enough for me to get back on track to improved fitness.

So that’s exactly what I did. I threw out the remaining 2 pints of ice cream from my freezer, and set some goals for myself. Each day I would hold the plank for as long as I could, I would do at least 25 push-ups (modified ones were acceptable), and I would see my Fitbit reach at least 12,000 steps. I even printed an exercise log to document it all.

And you know what? For the past 12 days, I’ve been doing it.

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Watching the Leafs hoist the Stanley Cup

When my therapist challenged me to compile my list of wanted memories, it was early August, exactly one month ago, and my beloved Maple Leafs were still a contender in the NHL playoffs. I added this memory squarely in the realm of “potential”, because although I didn’t think it was likely to happen, wouldn’t it be incredible to witness them win the Stanley Cup and remember it fondly at New Year’s Eve?

The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup was in 1967, when televised games were broadcast in black and white. It was the last year the NHL consisted of the Original Six teams, as the league doubled in size the following season. It would be almost 13 years until I was born. The closest the Leafs have ever gotten to winning the whole shebang was back in 1993, when they were one goal away from making it to the championship series.

At a time when the whole world seems out of whack with this pandemic, there’s a part of me that felt reassured when the Leafs lost their best-of-5 series against the Blue Jackets. Nothing in my life has been as constant as the annual disappointment of watching the Toronto Maple Leafs end their season before a champion has been crowned. At least this is a familiar feeling, when so much of this world feels unfamiliar.

Watching the Leafs hoist the Stanley Cup won’t be a memory I have this year. So, although I won’t have that, what I do have is a renewed sense of normalcy for 2020. After all, there’s always next year.

Follow along and make memories.

2020: A New Beginning

I think I have global support when I say that 2020 has been one of the most communally challenging years most of us have ever experienced.

The first half of 2020 was, hands-down, the most difficult period I’ve ever trudged through. In the first week of January, I started in a new position at work. The role of Travel Wrangler hadn’t existed before I claimed it on my freshly ordered business cards. I was excited for the opportunity to put the knowledge I’ve gained through my years of travel to good use for my colleagues and the company. It seemed as soon as I found my footing, got to a point where my Impostor Syndrome wasn’t crippling me any more, global travel came to a red light.

Then came February, when I suffered whiplash from being rear-ended, while stopped at a traffic light. In Chicago, in March, I got horribly sick on the last business-related trip before the aforementioned travel stoppage. I’m 99% sure it was COVID-19, but securing a test was impossible that early on. A friend on my softball team, who was full of love and light, with the most incredible smile, took his life in April. Then we were in May, and my wife and I were 2 months into a self-imposed lockdown (Florida wasn’t really enforcing anything), and I was struggling without the social connection I so desperately desired. By June, I came to the realization that my marriage was in crisis.

I was in crisis.

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