Tag: Guilty Pleasures

Topic: What’s your ideal vacation?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

At different times in my adult life, vacations were designed for different purposes.

And let me begin by saying that I’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout my life to have had both the time and the resources to go on some amazing vacations.

When the kids were young, it was all about seeing new and exciting places and building memories of special times together.  Whether it meant a trip to Washington DC to visit the museums, a week at a Disney Theme Park, or camping in the beautiful Rocky Mountains…it was all about exposure and memories.

Living in Boulder, Colorado we can get quite insular.  We don’t have a lot of diversity here.  So it’s easy to forget that there are many different types of people, with different cultures and viewpoints making up the world.  So I always felt it was important that we make an effort to travel around in order to expand our understanding of the world we live in.

When the kids were young, I thought of vacations as an opportunity to learn.  Yes…it was also about fun.  But when you’re raising kids, it’s also about seeing new things and learning about our history, different cultures (even within the same State!), and the vast beauty of our country.

We’d start months in advance and I’d get the kids involved in the planning process as much as possible.   We’d get out maps, read books on the locations we’d be going to and talk about what we hoped to do.

We’d also start with a work chart about 2 months ahead of a vacation.  The kids would earn .25 for each chore they’d complete, and by the time we’d leave on vacation, they’d have earned anywhere from $35-$50 (each) to spend along the way.

It was a great strategy.

Brian and I never had to ask the kids to do anything around the house leading up to a trip (Woohoo – they actually wanted to do chores so they could earn $$) and…once we were on vacation, they never asked us for anything.

None of the typical “Mommy…can I have that T-shirt/sweatshirt/banner/poster/etc?”

Instead, they would count their money and decide if they really wanted an item (or not) and would end up being incredibly frugal along the way.  It was HEAVEN!

During those early years, our vacations were also about balance.  A bit of activity, a bit of rest, and a bit of adventure.  As long as the kids were happy…we were happy.  And, as any parent knows, their happiness was based on maintaining that balance.  If we screwed with the balance, they’d quickly deteriorate into cranky, unhappy children.  And that…would not make for an ideal vacation for anyone!

As the kids got older, our ideal vacations became more about exploring the world.  We’d venture farther and experience more.  Whether it was a 3 week RV trip up through Canada, or across the Atlantic to destinations in Europe – each vacation was jammed packed with new adventures and explorations of new cultures.

Those vacations were “active.”  We did a lot.  We saw a lot.  And…still trying to maintain some level of balance (this time because mommy and daddy would get cranky if we didn’t), we would also fit in a couple of quiet days to just enjoy our surroundings.

Now…as I take more vacations on my own (without the kids I mean) I love those restful, quiet, sit by the pool kind of vacations.  Oh I still like a bit of adventure once in awhile.  But honestly…I’m really good with going to one place and just hanging out.

When I’m in the mood to both explore and relax however, my ideal vacation is a cruise.  I get to unpack once, see a bunch of places, eat well, dance a lot and still have some time to sit by the pool and hang out with a good book and a great fruity rum drink.

I’m really curious how it will be when the house in Ridgway is complete though (we’re about 50% of the way through that project).  Will I still want to travel?  Or will I feel like I have to “use” that house now that I have it?

I think I’ll figure out the balance…and still do a bit of both.

But I mean really…either way…it’s all ideal!

I’ve been insanely lucky to be able to travel as much as I have.

When I was a kid, we traveled a lot.  I didn’t always appreciate it (because, hello, kids are stupid), but I’m so happy to have been to the awesome places that I’ve been with my family.  My favorite memories growing up include many, many family vacations.

(It helps that my family kicks ass.)

Travel continues to be an important part of my life, especially in my life with Mike.  We’ve been to some amazing places, and I feel very fortunate to look back and think about them.

Some of these vacations have been very busy, switching locations every couple of days.  Some have been long, with a week spent in a single location.

A few have been lazy, spending days lounging around and getting too much sun.

And others have been adventurous, spent in tiny hostels, with days spent exploring – and getting lost – on foot, freezing because we didn’t pack enough warm clothes.

But this question is about my ideal vacation…

When I think of “vacation”, I automatically think of the beach.

This is funny, because I have quite the aversion to sand… and copious amounts of sun… and I think salt water is kind of icky.

(It’s a good thing I live in a land-locked state, huh?)

But what’s more ideal than sitting on the beach (or at least near a beach), reading, dipping your toes in the water, and drinking frozen beverages with little umbrellas in them?

I’m a fan of the relaxing vacations.  The ones where you don’t really have to worry about much.

I’ve had some great vacations in busy cities where we always had something to do and somewhere to be.  The big cities are fun and exciting, but I can only handle those for a few days.

But the sitting and reading and sipping in the sun?  I can do that for muuuuuuuch longer.

When Mike and I first started traveling together, we had different views of travel.  For me, it was all about lounging around and afternoon naps and reading half a dozen books.  Mike liked that stuff, but he also didn’t want to waste our time or miss out on things.

After nine years of traveling together, and lots of different destinations (huge cities, remote beaches, and quiet mountain towns), we’ve perfected a nice balance.  We spend about half of our time on the exciting stuff: the sightseeing and visiting and running around.  But in between those busy days, we have times to relax and hang out.  To spend all day under an umbrella on the beach, reading and eating sandwiches out of a cooler.

(And Mike knows he has to keep as much sand off of me as possible.)

(Because it’s gross.)

So, my “ideal” vacation?  Somewhere beautiful with big, bright flowers.  Days that are a mix of adventure and afternoon naps.  Some tour buses or sightseeing, but also days by the pool.

And if there are frozen alcoholic beverages thrown in?  Well then it’s pretty damn perfect.

(ESPECIALLY if those frozen beverages are served IN A POOL.  But I’m not too picky.)

(But really, a bar IN A POOL.  What genius came up with that gem?)

I need to preface this whole post with the disclaimer that I am not a big reader.  Ally is a voracious reader…but I’m not.  I love to read when I travel…or at the beach…or on a rainy/snowy Sunday with a hot cup of French vanilla coffee by my side.  But I don’t read every day.

It takes a really good story to get me hooked on a book, and then once I’m hooked, I don’t put it down.

So when I do think about reading a book…I’m totally drawn to fiction, as I love a good story.

Not that true life can’t be turned into a good story, but I guess I prefer the made-up version of life when I curl up with a book.

Interestingly – even though I’m a sporadic reader – I’m particularly drawn to novels in a series.  I guess I like to know that when I start a book, I’ll be able to follow the characters through different times, places and experiences…taking multiple books to complete the saga.

(Or maybe I’m just lazy and like the idea of having my next few books all laid out for me)

And I’m not at all particular about the genre of the books/series I choose.  In fact…I’ve read and totally enjoyed…

  • “Young adult” fiction like The Hunger Games series and The Twilight books;
  • Books that deal with espionage, terrorism and political intrigue like The Bourne series, Vince Flynn’s series featuring the super good guy assassin Mitch Rapp and anything by David Baldacci;
  • Stories about prehistoric times like Jean Auel’s the Earth’s Children series (Ally and I just went to a book signing last week and heard the author talk about her latest book and each got a signed copy!);
  • Quirky stories about weird people in Sweden (yep…I got hooked on the whole Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series);
  • And most recently, a story about a woman who steps through a group of large rocks in the 1940’s only to get sent back in time to Scotland in the 1700’s where she falls in love with a hunk of a Scottish man who rescues her about 20 times from danger in the first two books alone (the Outlander series)!  LOVING IT!

I think I like historical novels a lot…but I can’t seem to get through a nonfiction book about a historical figure or event.   I’ve tried to read about several of our Presidents, various wars, and even the civil rights movement.  But honestly…I haven’t finished any of them.

I love to read stories about strong and interesting women, but when I’ve tried to read about real women (who I thought were role models) like Hillary Clinton or Jane Fonda, I found that I don’t really care all that much about their lives once I got into their books.  They’re still role models…but just not as authors.

I’ve tried to read about how to better my health, my mind and my body…but I lose interest quickly and end up sitting in front of the TV eating a big ham and cheese sandwich.

But oddly enough, I like to read cookbooks.   I know it sounds silly…but I can read through an entire cookbook, learning different techniques, food and spice combinations and serving ideas, and walk away feeling totally fulfilled…but not feeling like I just read a book.

Weird.

So I guess I do like some types of non-fiction.

And as I think about it…I think I read more than I think I read.

So I guess I’ll go finish up the 2nd book in the Outlander series right now.  I’ve already got the next two in the series waiting for me.

I’m a total fiction fan.  I love stories, whether they be love stories or fantasy stories or scary stories or stories written for pre-teens.  I love them.

(OK, especially the ones written for pre-teens.)

I have a hard time with non-fiction.  I get bored very easily.  I drift off.  I don’t find it very exciting or enthralling.

I just don’t connect.

And that’s what I really want from a book.  Connection.  And by connection, I don’t mean that I have to necessarily relate to it.  I just like feeling connected to a character or a plot and interested in what happens next.

And I don’t really get that from (most) non-fiction.

(There are always exceptions.  For example: humor.  (Enter Mary Roach, Jen Lancaster, David Sedaris, and – most recently –  Tina Fey.)  That’s because I’m connecting to the funny.  But even that’s not always enough if there’s no plot.)

I once read in (ironically) a non-fiction book that life is too short to read books that you don’t enjoy.  So I don’t read a lot of non-fiction because I just don’t enjoy it very much.

Honestly, I thought that everyone read mostly fiction, because I’ve always equated “reading” WITH “fiction”.  And then I started working in a bookstore.

Oh, the things you learn working in a bookstore!

I won’t go into it all now (because I’m compiling a list that will someday make a very long short story and probably a wildly popular film), but one of the biggest lessons has been that non-fiction is the popular choice for many, if not most, people.

(This is where I will ask that you refrain from going into a large bookstore and asking where the “non-fiction section” is.  Odds are that the WHOLE FREAKING BOOKSTORE is non-fiction, with a row of novels.)

(This is also the part where I ask you to refrain from saying some rude comment to your local bookseller when we point this fact out.  I understand that you’re scoffing and rolling your eyes at me because you realize that you asked an idiotic question, but still…)

(Moving on…)

I honestly didn’t realize that people read so! many! self-help books and religious books and new age books and history books and biographies.  For entertainment!  I hear the statement “I don’t really read fiction” far more than “I don’t really read non-fiction”.

(Probably because us fiction lovers are embarrassed that we prefer fantasy over books that, you know, might teach us something.)

My bread and butter is fiction.  My love of reading is for fiction.  When I walk into a bookstore, I make a mad dash for the fiction section.

Since starting at the bookstore, I’ve tried to expand my horizons.  But really?  If I find the time to sit and read, I’d rather read some epic love story than a self-improvement book about how to “be a better me”.

(Snore.)

I just loose interest reading about the same thing over and over, without a plot moving me forward.  When I read, I want characters and secrets and imagination.

I want escape.

I crave (fictional) connection.

It’s my comfort zone, and reading should be about being comfortable, no matter what genre makes you feel that way…

(PS: I truly believe that there’s no “better” preference.  I just think you should read, no matter what it is…)

First of all…I really had no idea what the term “guilty pleasure” was until Ally mentioned it awhile ago in a totally different context.  I didn’t want her to think that I was out of touch or uncool…or… (God Forbid) OLD, so I didn’t ask and just nodded my head as if I was following everything she was saying.

And then it came up as a topic for She Thinks.

Rather than take a chance on writing an entire post based on my ASSUMPTION of what it meant… I called her to see if I was correct.

“It sounds dirty” I said.  “You know…like porn.”

“No Mom, it’s not porn.”  (You know the tone)

“Oh good, I thought that would be really embarrassing.”

And then…a pause.

Well…it still might be.”

OY.

“A guilty pleasure” she went on to explain, “is something that you really like to do, but under normal circumstances (i.e. NOT writing about it in a blog for everyone to see) you would be kind of embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone else about it.”

Another pause.

“And mom…that doesn’t mean it’s about sex!”

(we told everyone in last week’s post that we don’t talk to each other about sex)

”So for Gods’ sake…keep it clean!”

Great.  My kid feels she has to tell me to keep it clean.

So I racked my brain trying to think of something that I really like to do but kind of feel ashamed for doing and have never shared with anyone else (and isn’t about sex).

Baking?  No.  That’s just something I suck at doing, even though I torture myself by trying to do it every once in awhile.

Cleaning my closets?  No…that would fall under the category of Obsessive Compulsive Behavior…certainly not a guilty pleasure.

Oh wait…I think I have it.

I’m actually quite embarrassed to admit it, and it’s harder to admit than you might think…but…

I LOVE to watch “Gene Simmons and the Family Jewels.

In the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

OK…it’s not just in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

I DVR it.  So I can watch it whenever I want.

Don’t ask me what I like about it.  I never liked the band KISS or followed Gene Simmons before.  But there’s something about the relationship of the family that makes me smile.  And they make me laugh.

But now I’m really embarrassed and totally ashamed to have told anyone about it.

So I guess it is a true guilty pleasure. (And it wasn’t about sex…YES!)

I define “guilty pleasures” as those things that you don’t want to admit that you love.  I think it should also be something that you’re not necessarily supposed to enjoy.

(And no, Mom, it’s not about sex.)

Like trashy TV.  You’re not supposed to like it.  You feel dirty just watching it.  But ohmygod you can’t stop watching.

I have a few guilty pleasures.

The first is something that I’ve written about before: young adult fiction.

I love books that were written for girls a decade (or more) younger than me.  I love vampires and wizards and demigods and crazy awesome books beyond description.

Some of the books I read are silly.  Or just plain stupid.  But I just can’t quit them.

I read other stuff, too, but the vast majority of my library is pretty humiliating.

(And may I just offer some advice to anyone else who reads embarrassing titles, whether it’s YA or trashy romance or what have you?  Get an e-reader.  That way, nobody can tell that you’re obsessively reading a book with a cover like this:)

(Seriously, it looks like a soft core porno with a dude who looks like Justin Bieber.)

Another guilty pleasure I have is for a certain ridiculous TV show that defies all logic.

Oh, what to say about Jersey Shore?

Oh.  My.  God.  These people are like really, really disturbing cartoon characters.  I don’t know why I like watching them make fools of themselves or why I love when they fight (actually, I’m pretty sure I love the fights because their accents get super thick when they start screaming at each other and it’s awesome).

I don’t know why I find them hilarious and even (dare I say?) endearing.  It makes no sense – and it’s embarrassing – but what can I do?

The heart is a mysterious thing, and loves what it loves.

My last guilty pleasure (well, that I’m sharing right now), is Lady Gaga.

I love Lady Gaga.

I think she’s amazing.  I think she’s brilliant.  I think she’s crazy and bizarre and a genius.

Actually, she’s so great, I don’t even count her as a “guilty pleasure”.  A guilty pleasure should be something that you feel guilty about – not because it’s bad for you – but because you feel like you shouldn’t actually like it.

And I think everyone should like Gaga.

(Actually, everyone should like YA, too.)

(But I’ll admit that Jersey Shore isn’t for everyone.)