The Weekend

It was early August when I realized that the following month would be Kamel’s birthday… and I had no idea what to get him. The man has everything he’s ever wanted: a formidable DVD collection, every video game he could ever want, he never wants for clothing, he just got a new computer, I mean really, I was at a loss. But then I remembered our “list of things to do before 2010 is over”. Only a few more months until the year is out, and we’d only done one thing on our list. One thing that had me wide eyed with terror, and had Kamel giddy with excitement. It was time to cross something else off, so I booked a B&B and decided to take Kamel somewhere he had never been: Carmel By The Sea – a little village, with an amazing beach and lots of shops, just south of Monterey. I would have never known about this gem of a beach town if it wasn’t for my amazing boss Traci and her enthusiasm for the place. Thanks Traci!!

1.) Charter a boat
2.) Take Kamel somewhere he has never been (he’s always doing this for me, it’s time for me to show off a little)
3.) Go to Mexico
4.) Go to at least 1 concert
5.) Host a party in our new place

The waves made the most amazing crashing noises, big booms that echoed down the beach.

The water was rather cold, but the sand was warm.

And eventually you got used to the temperature shock, anyways.

Kamel rented a lens for the weekend and took some pretty adorable pictures of my feet jumping out of the cold, foamy water. By 6 oclock we were totally beat, and headed back to the B&B in Montery to play some Quiddler (A word game kind of like Gin Rummy that I HIGHLY recommend to all my word nerds out there!) on their rooftop deck in the sunset.

This was my first time at a Bed and Breakfast and the experience started out really well. When we checked in, the amazing smells of breakfast greeted us. Eggs and toast and bacon, mmm. I knew the extra splurge was going to be totally worth it. The reviews on the place said that it was really clean, incredibly friendly staff, but that the rooms were small. I always think this critique on a hotel is silly. It’s a room, in a small hotel, unless you’re in a resort – what are you exactly expecting? Boutique hotels might be small, but they are often very stylish.

Ok, so it was small, and you could hear everything anyone said in the hallway, and when you didn’t shut the door all the way an alarm sounded, even if you had just ducked out into the hallway for a minute, but it smelled so clean and happy in our room, and the bathroom was bright and tiled and lovely, and the room had these amazing hardwood floors, and the bed was just…. lounge-able ya know? With the greatest pillows ever created. Except the shower leaked. And I don’t mean leaked a little, I mean there was a space in the shower door that was about an inch wide all the way across where water would come gushing out. Kamel had to jam one of the bath mats into the door just to keep us from flooding the place. But the soap smelled nice, and I fell asleep watching tv, so things were still good in my book. When I fell asleep Kamel was still wide awake and the window to the room was open, and because we were on the ground level he wanted to close it before he went to bed so we wouldn’t be robbed and murdered while we slept. But when he went to close it, sometime after 10pm, the alarm sounded – the same annoying alarm that the door to our room had – so that no matter which way he moved it, the alarm would sound, so the window stayed cracked. This ended up being a good thing as I was very very hot and uncomfortable for most of the night. The bed happened to be a Full, and I have become rather accustomed to my queen sized bed, especially while sharing with someone else. This bed must have been on the small side of full, too, because with both of us lying on our backs, side by side, we were both at the edge. This caused a lot of rolling rolling rolling all night long as if we were meat on a spit. Very unpleasent.

But then the morning came! with the breakfast! that was paid for compliments of the room! and the part of the hotel where the breakfast was served was this amazing eclectic adorable picnic meets Victorian chandeliers type deal and my shitty nights sleep zoomed out the cracked window when the hotel owner poured me fabulous black tea and I got to sit in a booth with a pillow behind my back for extra support. Holiday Inn Buffet this was surely not. Then she brought out this tiny plate with a pastry wafer with baked on pecans and brown sugar sitting atop a bed of strawberries and cream. I thought, “Heaven. THIS IS HEAVEN.” But that was just the amuse bouche right? What was the main course going to be, oh bed and breakfast of mine?!

Bagels. With Salmon.

Wait, what? Where is my eggs and toast? Where are my waffles with powdered sugar? A bagel? I know they have these at the Holiday Inn, hell even at the Days Inn. So the plate was coated in salmon, yes I see this, but I just can’t do cold fish at 9am. I know lots of people who love it, and maybe my pallet is just not as refined as the rest of yours, but seriously…. I got the fancier hotel with the whole boutique ambiance and the breakfast at the bed and BREAKFAST is bagels? Bagels. Can you tell I’m STILL disappointed?

Anyways – day two of Kamel’s birthday fun surprise was taking him on yet another boat ride. God, yes, I am a saint. But this time I scheduled it for 11AM, where the seas are bound to be less… frightening? bone chillingly cold? And the whole point of this sail boat adventure was that their were animals out in the water to be seen and discovered! And photographed! A 1 hr/45min sail boat ride to seek out sea lions, otters, dolphins, porpoise, and maybe even whales.

About 30 minutes into the ride I got bored. We had seen the sea lions and the pelicans and the otters. Amazing that they don’t only live in the aquarium. But their was little wind and we were on a small boat with just the captain and us, the captain who wasn’t very chatty or tour guid-y. Kamel took pictures and I looked around and enjoyed the slap of the water against the boat and the sunshine and swatted at the flies that kept bothering us due to lack of wind.

I daydreamed about lunch.

You know what the best part was? Managing to totally surprise Kamel, take him somewhere he had never been and having him love it, being able to get away from the city and have a few adventures. And it was only one night, and it was only a few hours away, and it was great.

Adventure-ing: Random Acts of Kindness

1,000 random acts of kindness. 1,000 is a lot. I figure it’s going to take me several years to complete this goal. Several years of intermittently being aware that I should probably do something a little less selfish, rather than sit on the couch and play World of Warcraft for 4 hours at a time.

A few months ago I was crossing the Bay Bridge and I, on a whim, decided to pay the toll for the car behind me. The toll attendant was happy to take my extra money, and then as I sat in traffic I watched the exchange behind me in my rear-view mirror. I had never done this before, although I had seen it on Oprah several years ago, and I’ve heard stories of it happening to other people. The couple behind me seemed happy and looked at my car, ahead of them, but didn’t wave or anything in particular. They just sort of turned to each other and chatted, and I imagined them marveling at the kindness of strangers, chatting about me, about how they were going to have a really great day. I dunno, it was kind of thrilling, even if most of it happened in my head. And it felt great! And it made me want to do happy things like that all of the time!

But then, I sort of forgot about it, because it really does take energy, thought, and being in the right place at the right time. And then I got to thinking, “well, what actually constitutes a ‘random act of kindness’?”. I spent an evening last week, while having trouble sleeping, discussing this with Kamel. We came up with a list we were sure constituted as such:

Paying for strangers’ bridge tolls (of course)
Feeding stranger’s parking meters (possibly illegal)
Buying groceries for homeless
Send packages overseas to the troops
Putting change in a vending machine, then walking away (no lauren, do not eat the cookies! BACK AWAY)
Opening the phone book and sending a random person something nice (a kind note, a gift card, etc)
Baking for the neighbors (who knows their neighbors? maybe I could start)
Dropping off teddy bears to Fire Stations
Sticking happy notes in books at a book store
Giving up your seat on a plane and flying standby
Donating to Locks of Love

Happy things that don’t actually count as random acts:

Donating all the clothes I really don’t like to the GoodWill (useful, yes, too self serving for this project, also yes)
Bringing in goodies for co workers (sorry guys!)
Doing anything, no matter how random or spontaneous, for family and friends
Donating money to organizations
Giving free hugs (it challenges my boundry issues, plus it seems a slight bit pervy)

Basically, I want to challenge myself and keep an awareness that involves helping. If you have an ideas or suggestions please comment!

On saturday, in a very hot, very crowded, very stuffy bus, I gave a homeless man one of the two nectarines I had purchased at the farmer’s market. He originally asked me for cash. I said I didn’t have any (Lie), but then offered him my groceries. This choice does not seem like a big deal on paper, but in real life it is shockingly hard to give up the things we perceive as “mine”. Giving the man my fruit did not immediately pop into my mind as an option. My first mental response was “I feel cornered by this guy sitting in front of me on the bus asking me for money, this is bullshit and I’m not giving him anything.” But he was also really dirty, carrying two heavy backbacks on a day where I was asking Kamel to carry my coat because it was just too hot to have any extra baggage. And after a minute, I thought about my life list and I thought about my goals, and compassion, and I wondered how often this man was able to eat fresh fruit. It was the only food I had on me, so I offered him both nectarines. He took one, and he wasn’t especially grateful, and that’s alright. It must really be difficult to not have the freedom to buy what you want, but to instead depend on what other people decide you should have.

I want to be a more giving person, I want to have more compassion for others, especially when they make me uncomfortable. Towards my goal of 1,000 random acts of kindness I have 2 so far.

1 purchased toll fare
1 gift of food to a homeless man

What can you do to help others? Do you want to help me help others? Let me know and let’s watch the count to 1,000 rise.