A late summer toast to old friends, new books, and… Ragnarök?

The Tricksters Lover

I’ve been friends with the hilarious, curious, adventurous, and all-around lovable Samantha MacLeod* since I think third grade. We grew up together, playing anthropomorphized tigers on the playground right up until adolescence, getting into some real questionable music in junior high, and eventually self-publishing a book of our high school poetry before parting ways at college-time.

In the years since then, we’ve both seen the world as WWOOFers (she in Italy and me in Belgium), held a few real questionable jobs (she was a barista at the University of Chicago Divinity School coffee shop, Grounds of Being; I threw my body and soul into many “healthy patient clinical trials” in Boston), and have now settled into pretty awesome lives in our respective climes: she’s a Maine-based mom of two with a kickass chemist husband; I’m a good-times Brooklyn girl who gets to work in my pajamas by day and plan my wedding with the world’s handsomest bass-playing vegan bicyclist at night.

I’m so tickled and happy that Samantha and I have stayed friends all these years. (The fact that I can’t find any e-photos of us together should be no comment on the quality of said friendship! I attribute that mostly to digital cameras’ nonexistence for the first 20-ish years of our knowing each other. To make up for this awful dearth, I am happy to present instead this adorable photo of Samantha’s daughter carrying their cat Maxwell Finnegan up the stairs in the summer of 2013.)

Toddler carrying cat

Girl with cat

Now, a new chapter (pun annoyingly intended) has begun in Samantha’s life, and I want to shout it from the rooftops: she’s a serious published author with a juicy new paranormal romance heating up the shelves!! You can find The Trickster’s Lover right here.

Classic Samantha, the book combines a grad student’s wavering commitment to a career in Norse mythology with a scandalous visitation from Loki, “the enigmatic and irresistibly sexy Norse trickster god.” Mayhem (and many steamy love scenes) ensue as protagonist Caroline wrestles with her choices, her sanity, and Ragnarök—the mythical apocalyptic battle that will ultimately submerge the world in water.

On the grounds that she is a fantastic human being and because capping your summer reading list with an unusual and super-hot book like this sounds like good advice, I hereby urge y’all to order a copy today! And check out Samatha’s blog. It’s also really hot, in the way that funny, clever, and endearing things are really hot.

*Not her real name! Who knows when this romance author might want to run for President?

A Most Brooklyn Saturday (with some Manhattan thrown in)

Here at Unsolicited Vibe Assessment, we strive to give the people what they want. (That is what we strive to do, isn’t it? And by “we,” I mean “the royal we,” aka me.)

The Dude Lebowski

The Dude knows all about “the royal we”

When I emailed a former New Yorker friend the other day about Arthur’s and my Very Brooklyn Saturday, she replied:

“Enjoyed reading about your epic day in Brooklyn! Are you going to blog about that?? What an unforgettable mix of all things BK and happy life there. So very excited to visit you across the bridge and hang with all of you there soon. I can feel that Brooklyn happiness in me already. If I ever return to NYC, it will definitely be either BK or Upper-Upper West Side. After your e-mail, BK is winning by a few points : )”

I’m nothing if not a Brooklyn booster, so yes, friend, I shall blog about it! Perhaps we’ll be able to make a few more fans for our beloved borough.

Arthur and I bought our wedding rings today!! They’re recycled gold, because we’re giant hippies.

Wedding bands

Rangs

Actually, today was such a nice day that I want to tell you more about it.

Arturo went to hot yoga at 10:00 am and I repotted some plants that were overgrowing their bounds. I also listened to a radio program about the genocide in Syria, which is so horrific, of course. That kind of stayed with me all day—perhaps not the best audio choice for this moment… But gotta stay informed.

00 Pizza

00+Co (photo from Yelp; those are not my beautiful hands)

Then we met up and biked into Manhattan to try a new vegan pizza place in the East Village, went to SoHo to get our rings, bought a few books at the Strand, and met up with our friend Andy at The Lot Radio, possibly the most Brooklyn thing ever: a streaming radio station located in a shipping container in a vacant lot that also sells cold brew coffee and vegan cookies.

The Lot Radio via Hyperallergic

Courtesy DJ Haram

Top: The Lot Radio (photo from Hyperallergic) Bottom: A DJ sesh live from their webcam! (photo from, and quite possibly of, DJ Haram: djharam.tumblr.com)

Then Arthur went to meet some friends for dinner, and I came back here to write to you :)

I’m always glad to be in NYC, but particularly on the first hella-sunny Saturday of the springtime, with the best of friends and most delicious of itineraries, I’m even more keenly aware that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Readers! Where’s your happy place?

Arizona vs Florida: Cold weather getaway showdown

Yellow tulips

Unrelated: The springtime yellow tulips recently gifted to us by an uber-kind houseguest!

Winter’s basically over, so the time is ripe to look back at this past season’s getaway trips and, because this is America, crown a WINNER.

Let’s start with Arizona, where I went in January to visit my friend Elena who was interning at the blissed-out Tree of Life Center in the teensy town of Patagonia.

IMG_1987

Elena chillin’ on the plateau

She showed me around the farm’s sprout house (where tubs of little seedlings are each identified by a name like “Surrender” or “Forgiveness” written in marker on one side), brought me to dinner at a pizza restaurant called Velvet Elvis, and helmed many a scenic drive—from Phoenix to Tucson to the border town of Nogales and many stops in between. My favorite part might have been the evening when we set up lawn chairs on a hillside to watch the sun set, then turned them around to watch the moon rise.

I took so many awesome pictures (if I do say so myself) in this spellbinding locale that it’s hard to pick, but here’s a wee selection:

Turning our attention next to Florida… Arthur and I flew to Ft. Meyers last week to visit his mom and stepdad, who have wisely started leaving Boston each March to weather the bitter ends of the Northeast winter in these more hospitable climes.

While the area’s sprawling tic-tac developments and endless six-lane highways were not a draw for any of us, there are innumerable awesome animals and plants all around, and we spent much of our time hunting them down (with our eyes!). Plus of course many hours were spent in fine company simply relaxing and chatting, and sometimes enjoying a little media accompaniment, such as Rivers and Tides, the enchanting movie about artist Andy Goldsworthy.

So what do you think, dear audience? Which winter getaway vacation wins?

Cast your votes—the chosen city will win a prize!!

When clients go to Mexico

My dear friend and longtime client Elena is leaving NYC on a pre-dawn flight to Mexico tomorrow to embark on the 10-day silent meditation retreat that will usher in a bold new “oh-my-god-what-is-happening??” chapter of her life. I would say congratulations and good luck, but I don’t want to trip up her whole not-speaking thing.

Since we met a decade ago, I’ve known Elena by turns as a diligent, fair-minded, and hardworking coworker, partner in shenanigans, and small business proprietor. She thinks about almost everything deeply. She makes sumptuous vegetarian meals on the fly. Over the years, she’s handed down a grip of her classy clothing to me, which I hope made beautiful space in her closet with the same proportions as it filled the ghastly gaps in mine.

Elena

Recently, Elena decided to take an indefinite break from her glamorous Upper West Side life: she parked her baby blue Piaggio scooter in storage, sold most of her other belongings, and put her successful nutrition coaching practice on hiatus. Tomorrow, she’ll touch down in Mexico, and after that, it’s off to work on a veganic farm in the southwest. After that? I’m pretty sure she’d say your guess is as good as hers.

The fact that I realized today that I should probably retire Elena’s testimonial from my website (for now) is the least important part of this story, but it did make me want to tell it, so that’s cool.

Godspeed, Elena! You’ve got chutzpah, and I love ya. Just remember: Wild Women Don’t Sing the Blues.