We all have them – those nostalgic places we went to as kids. The vacations we took year after year. The traditions that flagged your family’s summer sojourn. We all have our own, which are as different as fingerprints molding our idea of fun and free time. The joy of taking time off. I certainly have my happy place, and that’s Laguna Beach California. Laguna is the third oldest city in Orange County. Mostly farmland in the early 1900s, by 1920 artists were seeping in between the hills and valleys and into this seaside sanctuary. A group of landscape painters who settled there laid the foundation for the art scene as it is today. A little bit hippy mixed with some serious money (I’m sure you’ve seen the reality show of the same name), the community is filled with all sorts. Although giant palatial homes beam down from the hilltops, they have yet to scare away the starving artists. It’s this symbiosis that makes for a truly magical place.
Every year since I was too young to even remember, my family had an August trip down to “Goonie Beach”. We stayed at a hotel right on the water, beginning my love affair with the ocean. I did everything I could to be as close to that blue scape as I could, even dragging my blankets out to the balcony so the waves could lull me to sleep. On the days we weren’t sunning, we went exploring in the shops, art galleries, and summer art festivals, like the Pageant of the Masters or the Sawdust Festival. The food is typical Californian with all levels of dining experience from a famous waterside Mexican seafood eatery, Las Brisas, to the taco stands complete with surfers in their wetsuits. On the days when the humidity and steamy sidewalks of NYC get me down I simply conjure up a cool Laguna breeze, some sand under my feet, a good fish taco, and pretend I can hear the ocean.
Summer entertainment means great movies but crappy TV. Most shows are on a hiatus until the fall so you’re stuck watching that same episode of Friends for the 900th time. This year, I’ve complicated things even more by giving up my cable box during my last move so my options are even more limited. In a fit of entertainment deprivation, I flipped anxiously through my Hulu Plus library and suddenly, I found it, Grey’s Anatomy. Like an old friend you run into on the street, we remembered each other fondly and it was instantly just like old times! There are a total of 9 seasons and good ole Hulu has every single one. Back in the day, I think I only made it through about 3 seasons before getting irritated by the sheer soap-opera-ness, but this time around it’s just delicious! Plus, it comes in handy to have them all in one place when you’re blowing through 2 or 3 episodes every couple of nights. With this supply, it should last me all summer. I completely forgot how geekishly charming George is or how Cristina and Izzy’s BFF personalities perfectly foil Meredith’s. And COME ON!!! MEREDITH!!! She has the kind of raspy, sex voice one can only hope to attain by sucking down packs of menthol cigarettes, au natural. She’s effortlessly beautiful even after not having a wink of sleep, working doubles, and eating cold pizza for breakfast. We secretly hope she and Derek don’t work out so we can have Patrick Dempsey for our own, but either way there’s plenty of eye candy around if that doesn’t work out. Between all of that AND the odd health issues and tragic accidents, I am completely entranced. Since I am obsessed with the show all over again, I plan to spend my summer watching until my eyes bleed or my AC gives out, whichever comes first.
ps- added bonus is season 10 starts this fall so get to watchin’ y’all!!!
New Yorkers are very serious about their fitness. When it comes to Spin, there’s no exception. We have two Spinning cliques, those who do Soul-Cycle and those who don’t. I used to work for those who don’t (as a Pilates instructor, not as a spin one) and for fear of being branded defective, I never crossed enemy lines. Now years later, unfettered by employee obligations, I decided to see what all the fuss is about. What started out as pure convenience (their USQ studio is close to mine), ended up being a love affair that had me at “hello.” Taking a spin class always makes me a bit nervous. I didn’t grow up playing sports or being particularly athletic, but I try to do what scares me and so I took the leap. The space is a perfectly branded setting, with everything bearing their signature color (a bright yellow) and the Soul-Cycle logo, down to the hangers in the coat room. I was amazed that each classmate was plunking down $5 for a shoe rental and a special Smart Water, which fits perfectly in the water bottle cages on their bikes. Donning our special shoes, I waited anxiously outside the studio with the crowd, for the go-ahead to claim our electronically reserved bikes. Once inside, I looked around nervously at everyone making their bike adjustments with such competence. Almost instantly I was eased by one of the perky Soul-Cycle staffers wearing (surprise) a branded t-shirt, ready to help set me up on mine. The teacher was lively but not irritating. The music inspiring but not maddening. The class was really fun, not competitive. In just 45 sweaty minutes, I fell in love with the dance-y bike choreography, the dimmed candlelight, and how the experience motivated me to do things I never thought possible. After class I took my drenched self down to the fully stocked, spotless locker room with SIX (that’s a bunch in NYC!!!) showers so I could start my day feeling fresh. I now get my fix once a week, despite the Darwinian experience of signing up for a class (it’s like a race to see who will get the last crumb of bread aka your desired teacher, class time, and bike). The price is steep with a single class at $34 plus the extraneous $5 to look cool with shoes and a perfect water but it’s worth it every time. I am completely addicted to the experience that is Soul. Chances are, if you muster up the nerve to try a class, you will be too!