Talking to Myself

Hi there!  I hope you’ll indulge a departure from my usual musing on The Stretch.  This weekend is my 20 year high school reunion.  I’m behind schedule on this journey so I’m sadly not making the big party.  But, the buzz and chatter on Facebook has unearthed long-forgotten memories– some excruciating, some embarrassing, some poignant, some tender.  Lately, I find myself reflecting on my life since then, the person I was at 18-years-old,  and what I wish I knew then that I know now.  If I could put my hands on my 18-year-old self’s shoulders and look right into her eyes, I would tell her..

Does this photo make me look uptight?

1. Lighten up.  Seriously, lighten up.

2. Your career doesn’t define you.  How you treat the people you love defines you.  Measure yourself by how you’re doing in your relationships.

3. Trust your gut because you actually do know what’s right for you.  The best mentors help you come to your own conclusions. There are a lot of good people and there are some real wackos who think they’re helping.  Be aware of the difference.

4. The third glass of wine is the one that leads you to crazy fun or crazy trouble.  Know this about yourself.

5. You will never regret the money you spend on travel.  You will regret the money you spend on the linen couch you were unsure about.  I’m here to tell you that you will never grow to like it.

Throw Away the Red Lipstick

6. Since no one else will say this to you, I will.  Slow down on the red lipstick.  It’s not your best look and for years you are unaware of this.

7. Your mom is right about a lot of stuff.

8. Please stop obsessing about your weight, I mean it.  It’s such a distraction.  You’re going to wish you still had that caboose you complain about at 28.  I promise.

9. You’re not going to marry any of the men you date between 1992 and 2012.  Even if you think he’s the one, he’s not.  Try to have fun and don’t sweat the break-ups so much.  And, this “Alan” that you fill 1/4 of your journal about in 2003, for the life of yourself you won’t know who the hell he is when you find said journal in 2011.  If “Alan” walked into this room right now with all of his one-of-a-kind qualities and proposed–WHICH IS WHAT YOU SO DESPERATELY WANTED– I still don’t think you’d be able to recall him.  Unrequited love is seductive but a

24 Years and Counting

ridiculous waste of time.

7. Wear sunscreen and sit in the shade.  Over the next 20 years you’ll spend a lot of time and money at the dermatologist’s office undoing the sunshine of your youth.

The controlled chaos of people walking toward the future.

8. Learn to cook and buy yourself some nice kitchen stuff before you turn 35.  Perfect three killer dishes and have those ingredients on hand always.

9. Don’t ever say or write “…and just like that…” unless you don’t want to be taken seriously.  Okay?

10. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, don’t do it.  Walk away.

11. Bullies subsist far beyond the halls of high school.  When you meet one, or work for one, make sure you look them right in the eye.  They feed on fear.

12. For goodness sake, learn to be more concise.  Every explanation

Best Friends since ’82

doesn’t require a metaphor.

13. Buy wedding and baby gifts off the registry.  Creative gift buying is not appreciated on these occasions.

14. Perfectionism sucks the joy out of everything.

15. Learn to practice gratitude every single day of your life.  It’s gonna make all the difference when things get tough.   And, meditation really does work.

True Blue

16. Be gentle with your words.  Keep your temper cool.  Don’t let pride get in the way of making important phone calls.

17. Tell the people you love that you love them as often as possible.  And, be honest when someone asks you how you feel about them.  Trying to spare their feelings, or your own, almost always ends badly.

18. Ask for help when you need it and accept it when it’s offered.

This is You in 20 Years

19. Just go and see.  You never know.

20.  Some of your closest friends at 18 will still be your closest friends in 20 years.  You’ll celebrate weddings and babies and share hard times too.  You’re part of each other’s history and that is a rare and beautiful thing.

21.  It’s all going to be ok.

What would you say to yourself at 18?

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Seattle’s Best

Perfect Seattle Day

Say what you will about Facebook— it’s a time waster, it’s full of people you want to avoid, timeline is terrible— but it’s been nothing short of amazing for me on The Stretch.  I was having a hard time finding a hotel room in Seattle for less than $300 a night.  I posted a call for help on Facebook and, BAM, within ten minutes problem solved.  My hometown friend, Seth, sent me a quick note with his address and an invitation to stay at his house.

Seattle’s Most Talented Dog

He said, “I’m on vacation with Shannon and the kids.  I’m sorry we missed you. The key is on the xyz, under the xyz, next to the xyz.  Make yourself at home.  Our dog, LD, is there but the neighbor is taking care of her.  Have fun.”  Not even so much as a phone call exchanged between us.  And, we haven’t seen each other in at least a decade.  I was blown away.  Completely blown away.  His house is beautiful, in a great neighborhood, in the middle of everything, and I was ten times more comfortable there than I would have been in any hotel.  Plus, I stayed an extra day.  Thanks, Seth.

Seattle weather was on her best behavior. Blue skies and 72 degrees.  My dear friend, Devin, cautioned me not to pack my bags and make a move based on that weather— there are only about 20 lucky days like that a year.  If I could have 20 days just like those, though, the rain and grey skies might be worth it.

The Name is Trademarked

I played tourist and I played her hard.  When I wasn’t sunning myself on Seth’s patio drinking his beer, I was seeing the sights.  The Space Needle, Chihuly Garden, Seattle Art Museum, wine tasting in Woodinville,  lunching on the deck at Ray’s Boathouse, Golden Gardens Park, Oh My God Peaches, and Pike Place Market.

I was one of many hanging around Pike’s Fish Market waiting for someone to fling a fish in the air.  Nothing.  Nothing.  Finally, I asked if I should buy one so they could throw it?   I figured I’d just grill it at Seth’s house.  Instead, they made an offer I couldn’t refuse…

I didn’t even have to buy the fish.  The trick is to catch it with your hands.  Don’t cradle it in your arms because you’ll end up wearing it, smelling like halibut all day.  As soon as it touches your hands squeeze it as hard as you can or else it slips right through.

And you know Seth’s dog, LD?  She’s a wunderkind, one of the world’s smartest dogs.  Her big trick is so undeniably practical that she won my heart in less than a minute.

LD and I made this video after my initial discovery.  As you can imagine, the first time I witnessed this feat was a little startling.

Thank you, Seth and Shannon, for a great weekend plus one day.  You’re welcome to my place in New York, any time.  And, please do let me know when you’ll be out of town again.

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I Scream

Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.  -Don Kardong


Perfect Bowl of Strawberry from Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream

There’s barely been a day this summer that I’ve not enjoyed a scoop or two of the world’s finest culinary invention.  I’ve been on the road three months and my ice cream indulgence is going to catch up to me pretty soon.  In one shop in Klamath, CA the scooper asked if I was sure I wanted two scoops.  I just narrowed my eyelids and she understood to get her arm down in that barrel of cookies and cream and start digging.  Ice cream makes me happy.  Memories of my grandfather having a bowl of premium vanilla after supper every night come to mind.  My dad and I sneaking off to Carberry’s in Cocoa Beach, Florida for a scoop of one of his rotating favorites and always mint chocolate chip for me is another good one.  We’d scoff at generic Baskin Robbins across the street.  I’m an expert at finding the best in any town or village.  It’s all about the scoopers, the cones, the chalkboard out front, the aroma.  I just know.

Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream in Seaside, Oregon definitely made the cut.  Two high school aged girls were manning the front (good sign) and

Mike Exinger with the perfect scoop.

Mike Exinger, CFO Cone Filling Officer, was backstage.  Mike and his wife are in their 12th season and make 40-50 gallons of homemade ice cream a week.  They stick to the mainstream crowd pleasing flavors.  Aztec chocolate is as “kinky” as they get.  They make a mean caramel cashew and sell more Oreo ice cream than any other.  Mike told me I was lazy for asking the most popular flavor I loved him immediately.

All Your Favorites

After working various jobs in radio and then as director of marketing research at a firm in Idaho, Mike and his wife wanted to change course and work for themselves.  They looked at what they really wanted at this stage in life and packed up for Seaside, Oregon, a place they’d vacationed many times.  Their research revealed ice cream is the #1 comfort food for men and women so they converted a shop on Broadway into Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream.  They’re open 7 days a week, 8 months out of the year.  He does admit his waist expanded a little over the years-  an unavoidable consequence of the ice cream game. Their season is winding down and I suggest stopping by before it comes to an end on October 1st.

The thing that makes their ice cream so special is that it’s made fresh daily and has an 18% butter/fat content with no artificial flavors.  It rolls out of the tub with little effort but isn’t too soft.  It stays firmly on the cone and melts at the perfect pace.  You don’t have to race it to the edge of the cone.  A cone from Zinger’s is the perfect companion for watching the sun set on the Pacific.  Lick at your leisure.

Ice Cream: A Self Portrait


WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO: Mike doesn’t really think of “work” and “happy” in the same sentence.  It makes him happy, though, that people come in and say they like his ice cream.  He likes seeing the same people year after year.  “Ice cream makes people happy.  It’s hard not to have fun with that.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SEASIDE, OREGON: It’s a walkabout tourist town and always has been.  It’s an authentic town that hasn’t changed very much over the years.  Plus, the climate is unbeatable.  The weather is perfect.

WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPY: Always looking for the next passion and continuing to progress.

The Perfect Pacific Coast Sunset


*COOS BAY:  Hit the sand dunes, the beautiful beaches, do some crabbing, and take a surf lesson.

The Agatha Christie Room at Sylvia Beach Hotel

*NEWPORT: 90 miles to the north on 101.  I had fish tacos at Cafe Stephanie and definitely recommend this spot.  Don’t dally though, this is a spot to eat and move on.  Walk on the beach a little and definitely check out Sylvia Beach Hotel— a creatively designed inn with rooms dedicated to famous authors  The Hemingway RoomThe Agatha Christie RoomThe Tolkien Room.  Really fun.  Paradise for a nerd like me.

*LINCOLN CITY: Just 30 minutes up the road is a breathtakingly beautiful place, but my favorite thing about it is their Glass Floats.  World renowned glassblowers make hundreds of unique glass blown balls called “Floats” and from October to March “Float Ferries” hide them on Lincoln City’s shoreline for lucky people to find.  The Float Fairies’ identities are concealed and their floater  hiding  techniques are an artform all their own.

Lincoln City Glass Float

*TILLAMOOK: Keep heading north on 101 with a quick stop at Tillamook Cheese Factory.  Sample Tillamook cheese and ice cream to your heart’s content.  The crowds are thick during the height of the season but worth a stop.

*CANNON BEACH: About an hour north you’ll hit one of my favorite places in the world, Canon Beach.  Home of Hay Stack Rock, one of the largest monoliths in the world.  There’s always a guide there to tell you about Hay Stack and the tide pools surrounding its base.  Stick around for the night and build a little campfire on the beach.

*SEASIDE: End up in Seaside, a throwback of a beach town.  There’s a carousel, bumper cars, a tilt-a-whirl, and of course Zinger’s Homemade Ice Cream.  Make sure to hit one of my favorite book stores while you’re there, Beach Books.  Karen will help you find the perfect title for your visit.

Categories: People on The Stretch | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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