On the Road Again…

 

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My gig usually has me on the road about 60-70% of the time.  By some strange twist of fate, I’ve been on home turf in Brooklyn for about three straight months — punctuated by only a few quick trips to Boston.  But I’m heading back to business as usual and packing my bags for a heavy stretch.

On the docket for the next few months for work and fun — Austin, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit — with a few more trips that will likely be slotted in between.

I do really love traveling, and have been at it enough that I’ve learned how to not have it disrupt work and life.  But what I still need to work hard at is not letting the extreme travel wreak havoc on my physical health.

Here are some of the go-tos I’ve developed over the past few years:

ClassPass:  I promise you that this blog is NOT a walking advertisement for Class Pass, and Taryn already shared its joys.  I’m with her.  And while it’s getting pricey in NYC (at $125 a month), I hang on to it because it’s fantastic when I’m traveling.  Each city I mentioned above has CP, and I can continue my mixed routine of yoga, barre, boxing, gym time, etc. while I’m on the road.

You gots to hydrate:  I’m not a big fan of bottled water, but when I’m traveling I grab one of the 1L smartwater bottles (and pay the ridiculous $5 price).  I don’t have a preference for the water itself (we all know it’s tap — sorry smartwater) but I LOVE the bottle.  It’s light and skinny, which makes it possible to carry around when I’m also lugging a suitcase and laptop bag.  I refill it and refill it and refill it, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes in keeping me going.  Better and healthier than all the caffeine in the world.

Buddies:  While it’s sad that not all of my closest friends live in NYC with me, one of the huge benefits of work travel has been being able to catch up when I’m in town.  I get home cooking and some quality down time with friends in other cities in between the crazy meeting packed days at work. And it’s usually during the week, so I get to be part of the evening family routine, which for many of them now includes running after little ones.  Nourishing for the soul.

SkyMall:  Whoever invented SkyMall is my personal hero.  The comic relief this catalog of ridiculousness (squirrel busts, tree faces, waterfalls for your cats) that you find in the backseat pocket of airplane seats has literally added years to my life.  No matter how stressful or busy a trip has been, flying back home with SkyMall and a glass of wine is an instant remedy.  P.S.  To everyone who I’ve sent too many pictures of my most desired items on SkyMall…it’s about to pick up again.

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Eat yo vegetables:  It is really hard to find anything that’s not a processed carb when you’re grabbing food on the go, particularly in an airport or train station.  And I’ve struggled through one too many Amtrak salads (iceberg lettuce, one cherry tomato and carrot shreds) to count on what they do have. So, I’ve started scoping out the farmer’s markets and grocery stores close to where I’m staying and the stops I’m going to in between in order to stock up.  I’ve also tried packing fruits and veggies with me in my luggage, but I got a little gun-shy last year when TSA took away my box of Brussel sprouts.  I know this one sounds like a lot of effort (and maybe a little nutty…?) but it’s probably one of the things that keeps me feeling most balanced and healthy while I’m traveling.

Off I go!  Let me know what you do to keep your health on track while you’re traveling. I need to keep up my game.

And let me know if you’re going to be in one of those cities, so I can cook some veggies with you on a week night…

&d

 

 

A Tale of Social Sports- Finding Your Inner Flamingo

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Last week someone asked me what my spirit animal. Is it weird that it wasn’t the first time someone has asked me that? Well I love that question because it is unequivocally a flamingo. When I think about why that it is, it doesn’t even really have to do with the animal its self but the team it represents. I’ve been part of a social volleyball team for the past five years, the Drink Flamingos.


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Let me start by saying that I’m pretty terrible at volleyball.  I was never into sports, I was in dance.  Why people feel the need to throw balls at each other’s heads I will never know.  But when one of my best girlfriends wanted to join New York Social Sports Club volleyball team, I thought why not?  I was getting over a breakup, half the pictures were about the bar scene after the game, and I’m definitely tall enough.   We ended up being placed with some mutual friends and a whole group from Kansas.  Who knew there were so many Kansans in NY but believe me they are EVERYWHERE!  So strange.  This first volleyball group has lead to countless seasons, parties, float trips, concerts, and one weird experimental art show that we still don’t really get.

 

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What I love about NYC Social is the community.  If you are new to a city or just looking for new friends, it is the perfect place to find that.  I’ve played volleyball, bowling, scavenger hunts and kickball.  Between the refs and the other teams there are so many people to connect with, and everyone is there for the same reason, to have fun and meet people.  My other favorite part is definitely the bar afterwards.  After all bar champs is on the line.  Honestly, being 25 at the bar is a little different from 30.  I used to somehow manage to talk to everyone at the bar and stay out until 2AM on a Wednesday playing flip cup (at

559001_10151042179706169_1281649934_n which we are champions).  Thursday mornings were not always a lot of fun.  Now its more catching up with my friends over a beer and ordering dinner.  That’s how you know you’re getting old, you order dinner at the bar!

 

 

 

 

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Anyway a new season starting in a couple weeks.  Beach volleyball in April can get cold, but there is nothing like these sunsets.  And if anything can possibly be a recommendation, I think five years of experience is.

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&t

ps- did you know that a group of flamingos is called a flamboyance?

pps- special thanks to other flamingos because i totally stole their photos, especially a Mr. Morgan who created that lovely collage a few years back

 

Sunday Detox: Alone in the Woods

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As I’ve thought about the subject of detoxing and unplugging from daily life, I’ve started asking friends about their favorite method of recharging.  A lot of times I hear “Being alone in a cabin in the woods” as an ideal way to get away from it all.  It always sounded vaguely appealing to me, but when would you really ever find yourself alone in the woods on purpose?  Well, this weekend, I got my shot at it.  

After a week working in Boston, I made my way up north to Killington, Vermont to spend a weekend skiing with friends.  On the way, somehow, I managed to sprain my hand rendering it useless.  Skiing was completely out of the question.  

I quickly realized that the cozy cabin we had rented — complete with cocoa and fireplaces — was about to be my stage for this “alone in the woods” fantasy so many had touted.  I wasn’t super excited about the change in plans.  I’m not a big fan of alone time in general and even when I’m reading, writing or doing other solitary activities I like to have people around me.  Being alone is the opposite of relaxing to me.  Still, I figured that I should make the most of the opportunity and see if some solitary time by the fire could be a new way to detox.    

I woke up on Saturday morning to the sound of everyone clamoring out the door to head to the slopes early.  It was 15 degrees out, I was carless and in the middle of nowhere, so I knew that I was cabin bound. Here we go.  

Hour 1:  I turned the fire all the way up and started to reading our latest Prose and Hos(e) book, Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You. It’s a good, easy read, but slightly depressing and it wasn’t helping my current mood of being stranded in Vermont.  I needed something a little more active.

Hour 2:  I wrote an article that I needed to get finished before the end of the weekend, hoping that it would consume the rest of the day.  But without distraction, I was done in 45 minutes.  Success?  Not in this case.    

Hour 3:  I read the NYTimes and started talking to myself in reaction to some of the articles on Trump and Rubio.  Are they seriously talking about sweat and comb overs?  

Hour 4:  I found the game cabinet chock full of games from the 1970’s.  I played Scrabble with myself, and won.  It turned out to be good practice for that evening when I finally managed to beat Ben in Scrabble (by a hair and with an assist, but still).

Hour 5:  I was having an ongoing verbal dialogue with myself at this point, and needed something much more active.  I started debating with myself (yes, out loud) whether I should attempt to do forearm-based yoga with a sprained hand.  Ultimately, I decided the mental impact of sitting in one place was probably worse than the physical impact of potentially hurting my hand again.

Hour 6:  Did 90 seconds of yoga and realized that I was wrong.  Re-wrapped my poor sprained hand and realized that my inability to effectively be alone had reached new levels.

Hour 7:  They returned!  When I heard the car door slam outside I ran to the window like a lonely puppy dog.  As they piled in the house, I slowly realized that they were all exhausted and were making a bee line for the showers.  No one was up for chatting.  But somehow, it didn’t matter.  There were other people present and I was suddenly satiated.  

I went back to reading my book and the Times by the fire and it felt different and more peaceful than when I was in the house by my lonesome.  I was finally recharging.  

My husband, Ben, later turned to me and said he was envious of all the time I spent alone. A true introvert, he had a fun but entirely exhausting day full of people and wanted nothing more to have us all get out of the house and leave him to read by himself.  

So we did.  And everyone got their version of detox.  

&d

Preparing to poach

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My new years resolution this year is to do something I’ve never done each month. January was oil painting. I realized yesterday that I haven’t done my February yet. Now I only have three days to think of something and do it. That is why this morning when I woke up, a little too early for Saturday in my opinion, I decided to try poaching eggs for the first time.

I’ve always been afraid to try it.  Not sure why.  Danielle does it all the time.  So I pull up Pinterest and watch some videos.  The technique is basic.  Simmer some water with white vinegar, swirl the water and the dump in the egg.  The warnings are clear on every post, the temperature of the water has to be just right and the egg has to be really fresh.  Well those things just probably are not going to happen.  Also all I have in the apartment is apple cider vinegar.  Well lets do this.  I brought the water up to a boil and then down to a simmer. My first egg I kept in there for five minutes and it was definitely over done.  But honestly the whole thing was really simple.  With a little more confidence and only four minutes this time, my second egg came out perfectly! I love it.   Toast, a little salt pepper and hot sauce.  I only wish I had some avocado to go with it.

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Honestly the whole thing felt too easy to count as my February activity.  But I still have three days and a perfect weekend.

&t

Lunchtime Blog Roundup

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Is it me or does this week feel extra long?  Maybe because last week was a short one with President’s Day.  Maybe because I’ve been on the road this week.  Maybe because I keep going to hot yoga at the break of dawn.  Either way, I’m ready to wind down for the weekend.

For those of you who feel similarly and could use a quick break, here’s a list of my favorite go-to blogs for a little pause from the grind of work and life (when I’m not catching up on The Holly & The Folly, of course).

For when you want to figure out what to make for brunch this Sunday…

  • Cookie & Kate:  Cookie and Kate is one of my favorite cooking blogs.  I dig her style – whole foods, not afraid of the occasional indulgence or yummy cocktail, but very afraid of processed or artificial ingredients.  Another great along the same lines is Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks.

For when you’re jaded with the current state of our political system…

#whenyouworkatanonprofit

  • Nonprofit with Balls:  The title says it all.  Author Vu Le shares his take and his stories on the nonprofit sector with a big dose of humor.  While the “balls” in the title actually refers to the many balls nonprofit employees need to juggle, the blog also is written with a fair amount of irreverance and bravery.  You hearty souls that work in the nonprofit sector will love it.

For when you just want a few pretty pictures…

  • The Sartorialist:  Scott Schuman’s blog on street fashion that he kicked off in 2005 hoping to shine a light on the interplay between runway fashion and real life.  He’s a brilliant photographer, so aside from a snapshot of real people’s fashion adventures, you’ll get a lot of soulful shots peering into the lives of his subjects.

What blogs get you through your long weeks?

&d

 

Nothing a little gold leaf can’t fix

After reading Danielle’s latest post about recommitting I have been feeling a little lazy. I mean it didn’t help that it was Monday night, just after eating good Chinese food and watching three hours of bad tv. Maybe I’ll blame it on full moon but at 10pm I became completely restless and decided that I needed to do something right then. To avoid the inevitable online shopping binge, I went over to my craft box and started to search. I needed something quick and easy and with no preparation at all involved.  Enter the gold leaf sheets

 

frame2These beautiful gold leaf sheets have been with me for years because I never deem a craft good enough for them.  Well thats just stupid.  I take out the sheets, tape, my left over green/teal paint from my Guess Who? board and a wood frame that I’ve been wanting to spruce up.   All I needed were those four things.  So I went to work.  I taped up the frame in the design that I wanted so my paint lines would be straight.  I used a foam brush to paint the frame and while the paint was wet, I put the little pieces of gold leaf on there.  Now gold leaf is a little hard to work with.  It kept ripping in my fingers and every time I would breath little pieces were flying everywhere.  Then I would laugh and create more of a mess.  But a little patience and holding my breath, twenty minutes later I was done!  And I hardly used any of my gold leaf.  Perfect.

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This morning I woke up to a beautiful frame.  I am deciding whether to leave the bottom half the natural wood or maybe play around with it, but I have time to figure that out.  An added bonus was remembering that I have chalk board paint!! Thats definitely going into the next craft.

&t

 

 

Sunday Detox: Recommitting

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As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big fan of making commitments at the beginning of the year.  I build an aggressive reading list and bucket list to chart out what I want to accomplish in the year to come.  I have a lot of friends who are staunchly opposed to making resolutions because they find it artificial, arbitrary, or too focused on negative qualities.  I get that.

But, for me, the tiny life pause that comes at the end of the year is a perfect time to focus on – and sometimes even more importantly organize – the personal goals I have for myself.  They’re usually not focused on changing things that I don’t like or think I should do less of (eat healthier, lose weight, stop killing your plants, etc.) but more on the positive things that I want to introduce to my routine.

Fast forward to the end of February and life has started to get in the way.  The life pause feels further away.  My intentions for the year are in the back of my mind, but the detail is foggy.  So, I’m using this Sunday to recommit, to take a look at those goals, to see how they might have changed for me over the past few months, and to see how I’ve done so far.

Let’s take a look at my reading list first.  So far, so good, thanks to the ladies from Prose and Hos(e).  I’m trying to read 40 books this year, and I’m on my 4th.  I have a little bit of catching up to do, but The Luminaries was a BEAST of a book, so I’m thinking I can pick up the pace.

  1. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes  (An easy, poignant read – check out Taryn’s review)
  2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (An 800+ page tome.  Slowed down my progress but it was worth it.  Catton is a masterful storyteller, but you need to be ready to commit.  An openness to the supernatural helps.)
  3. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg (I fell in love with Aziz on Parks & Rec and loved the mixed style of vingette and social science, but this book could have been half its length and just as effective. Most interesting, I bet, for folks who are navigating the world of online dating.)
  4. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (in progress!)
  5. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  6. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  8. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  9. Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
  10. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  11. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  12. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  13. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  14. The Power Broker by Robert Caro
  15. On Looking: 11 Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
  16. Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter
  17. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
  18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  19. The Power of Unreasonable Peoplby John Elkington, Pamela Hartigan
  20. Susan Sontag The Complete Rolling Stone Interview by Jonathan Cot

On to my 2016 bucket list.  I’ve been a little bit of a homebody, concentrating my success on the reading and writing items on my list.  I am excited by the fact that I’ve made regular writing a habit for work and play, writing about 4 short form pieces a week for various forums.  That was a longtime goal of mine, and it’s now a regular practice that I love for all the reasons I thought it would.

Big accomplishment, for sure.  But, most of the items on this list have gone untouched.  Most of my time out and about in the city has been consumed by the standard drinks, dinner, coffee with friends and family.  Time to shake it up if I’m hoping to accomplish the rest of this list.  Excuses about the NYC winter be damned.

  1. MOMA PS1
  2. US Open
  3. Met Opera
  4. 9/11 Memorial
  5. Momufuku
  6. Mission Chinese
  7. Rockclimbing
  8. Bike all five boroughs
  9. Walk across the Manhattan bridge (with earplugs)
  10. Take a Soulcycle class (What IS all the hype about?!)
  11. Run a 10K
  12. Stay in crow pose for more than 2 seconds
  13. Take an Indian cooking class
  14. Read 24 fiction books (on my way with 4 down)
  15. Write twice a week
  16. Make homemade Gnocci
  17. Make Tamales
  18. Make Tagine
  19. Make Beignets
  20. Build a Gingerbread house (Kind of – do gingerbread men count?) 
  21. Grow tomatoes (take that Brooklyn!)
  22. Learn to sew (don’t judge me for not knowing…)
  23. Learn to crochet
  24. Buy a lifetime supply of cloth napkins and ban paper towels

Well, that felt useful for me.  Not sure how useful it was for you, dear reader.  But I’m feeling one part proud of what I’ve accomplished, one part recommitted to what I haven’t, and one part super hungry for tamales at 8am on a Sunday.

&d

P.S.  Who here wants to teach me how to sew?

Girls Night! at DUSK

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I first heard of Daybreaker about two years ago. Its a huge dance party at 7AM. They usually have a yoga session first, you dance for two hours and then go to work.  They seem to have gotten really popular in the last year and now hold them in cities all across the country.   I immediately fell in love with the idea. What better way to start your day? Replace a work out session by dancing all morning. The only problem is that none of my friends will ever go with me. I don’t really blame them, 7AM is a hard sell.  Daybreaker usually throws an event monthly and every month I get turned down by my friends. Humph. Then I got an email about a new event that they are trying out, Dusk.  6:30-10:30, perfect.  1920 prohibition theme, amazing.  The location, secret.  And the one thing I’m sure of is that my friends are suckers for a theme party.

If there was one word to describe this evening it would have to be unexpected.  The secret location turned out to be a big beautiful synagogue on 65th and 5th.  We enter, me with my bright pink feather boa slight buzzed from pregaming, to a huge packed silent room in the middle of a mediation session.  A woman was on stage with a gong chanting.  It was beyond weird and I was completely confused.  Right before I was convinced that we all just got punked they brought out a brass band and got us all up and singing.  Belting out Valerie in a synagogue on the UES has to be one of the odder moments of my life.  Then following the band they moved us procession style downstairs to a huge dance party.  Everyone just went nuts.  It was so much fun.  The other twist in this evening was no alcohol.  And it was National Drink Wine day!  Instead of pinot they had pretzels and water and salad.  I did see a flask or two and I would have paid good money for a glass of wine but I like the idea of taking the alcohol and drugs out of the scene.  IMG_0253

 

 

We danced until about 10 and we were home by 11.  Which helped for waking up for work the next day.  For the $35 ticket it was worth every  penny and since we didn’t pay for drinks it was one of my cheaper nights out.  I don’t know how they are going to top the prohibition theme but I can’t wait to see them try.  Until next time!

&t

Prose and Hos(e)- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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We have a policy at P&H when picking a book; screw the book snobs and the Target moms alike. From Pulitzer Prize winners to Fifty Shades, we try to cover it all (even though I usually whine very loudly about the non fiction choices). This was our view when we selected Jodi’s latest choice Me Before You by Jojo Morales.

Our last meeting was last Tuesday. Katie was adorable and made it a special Galentine’s Day edition with candy hearts.  There was even a “Lets Read” one :).  With the Cabernet opened and the Chinese food ordered we dove into the book.

I will try hard not to give any spoilers.  Me Before You follows Louisa Clark.  Lou is a recently unemployed, still living at home, stuck in a boring relationship young twenty something year old woman.  Desperate for a job, she is placed as a secondary caretaker for a paraplegic man Will.  Will is a handsome and wealthy man and used to be wildly adventurous but was in an accident and now he can’t move most of his body and has very limited movement in his arms.  Will is understandably bitter and is a big ol’ jerk to Lou at first but her quirkiness brings out his humor and they start to build a friendship.  Lou soon finds out that this job is a temporary one because Will plans on killing himself in six months time.  Once she knows this fact she decides that she needs to do everything in her power to change his mind.

In essence this is a story about two people stuck and the journey they take to un-stick themselves.  Louisa is painfully indecisive and in the beginning I just couldn’t connect with her.  However that turned around quickly and she turns out to be quite lovable.  Obviously by the end I loved both Lou and Will.  The secondary characters were also very strong in the book.  Even the characters that you aren’t supposed to love.  Like Patrick, the boring boyfriend, wasn’t mean or someone that Louisa needed saving from.  Will’s mother was cold but as Danielle pointed out, it was obvious that she was just trying to keep her old life together.

All in all I will say that I loved the book.  I also cried a lot.  And even though I cry quite easily and often, this seems to be a universal reaction to the book.  Its an easy read and it goes at a slow steady pace but I did not want to put it down.  The thing I loved about this book besides the unconventional love story is the unconventional perspective.  It makes you question what you would do.  I’ve always had fleeting thoughts about how I would react if something happened similar to Will’s situation.  But what would I really do?   In these circumstances what is considered selfish or selfless?  This book just jumped to the top of the recommendation list because it can hit all the demographics.

Next books for P&H is Danielle’s nominee This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.  Read along for next month’s meeting!

&t

Sunday Detox: Valentine’s Variety

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I’m never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  I’ve mostly seen it make single people feel bad and make couples feel pressure and spend a lot of money.  Indeed, its roots are in martyrdom and suffering.

Quick history:  In ~300 A.D. St.Valentine was persecuted and executed for marrying Romans who were forbidden to marry. After 100 years of deep reflection, Romans – Pope Gelasius, to name names – realized that Valentinus was actually in the right and declared February 14th as a celebration of his badass rule breaking.  The party spread across Western Europe as a celebration of romantic love, fueled by Chaucer and the pomp and circumstance of courtship that began in the 14th century.  Then it hopped across the pond to the United States.  We wrapped it in mass commercialism and spat out our current day version of the celebration complete with candied hearts, chocolates, expensive dinners and prescription meds.

Phew.

No disrespect to St. Valentine.  I, like Pope Gelasius, think that he was doing the world a solid by providing rights to unjustly persecuted.  But in 2016, I’m looking for some alternative ways of celebrating his noble deeds.

Do it Kiddie-Style:  One of my fondest memories of modern day Valentine’s Day is the little cardboard cards we swapped in our elementary school classrooms as a celebration of platonic friendship.  Everyone gave a card, everyone got a card, and everyone was happy. Last year, I bought a box of these for nostalgia and handed them out to my friends.  Turns out they have the same effect on adults as they do on kids.

Phone a Friend:  Take advantage of the day to celebrate your pals (guys or girls) that make your world a happier place.  Friendship is consistently under celebrated in our Hallmark world. Send your best friend a handwritten note.  Call a pal from across the country who you haven’t spoken to in a while.  Throw a galentine’s day party.

Dine Alone:  You all know how I like to eat alone at restaurants, cultivated through a few years of intense travel for work and brought back home to NYC.  Dining out alone on Valentine’s Day is the ultimate milestone for this particular brand of social defiance.  You’ll probably have to sit at the bar because restaurants are packed.  Still, observing the acts of love and awkwardness associated with Valentine’s Day is pretty sweet – and you’ll have fun talking to the servers about the proposals, breakups and other pressure-cooker type conversations they observe that day.  For places to head in NYC for dining alone, check out NYTimes Food writer Julia Moskin favorite places to pull up a single chair (shared by H&F senior correspondent Aunt Andy).

Expanding our Definition of Love:  This past year has been a pretty awesome one for love, from the rise of powerful trans voices like Laverne Cox to the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. St. Valentine would be proud, but we’ve still got a long way to go.  Perhaps the best way to support love today is to support the organizations that are working every day to make the joys of love accessible to everyone.  A few of my favorites?  GLADD, The Center and The Theater Offensive.

What are your alternatives to celebrating Valentine’s Day?

&d