Cheers to my favorite season of the year, Autumn! With what drink do I make this toast? Well, of course that would be an “off menu” item none among us inconspicuously clued in as the “Dirty Chai Latte” at Starbucks. It’s a Chai Tea Latte with an added shot of espresso.
Why am I promoting it for free? Am I getting a lifetime supply of Dirty Chai’s out of this deal? I wish.
With all the great things that emerge with the fall season, my sinus and allergy problems are among them- especially here in Nashville. Some days, like today, when I accordingly get a headache so intense I nearly get nauseous, no pain reliever will heal me other than a $4 Dirty Chai.
Will you like it? There’s a good chance you won’t. But I definitely do.
It’s made with cinnamon, anise, ginger, cloves, cardamom, milk, a little bit of sugar, and of course, a shot of espresso. So it’s earthy, spicy, malty, rich, and just sweet enough for me not to feel guilty.
By all means, the Dirty Chai is a drug; but at least it’s a legal one. If you are feeling sick, its warmth and caffeine will mask your pain. If you’re feeling stressed by the reality of parenthood, it will lift you up. If are already feeling good, it will make you feel even better.
As parents, we have our vices. This is one of mine. There’s just something about drinking a Dirty Chai amongst the company of strangers at Starbucks who are lucky enough to “work from home” on their laptops that makes me feel like all is well in the world.
Passing the Mic:
I’ve shared my favorite drinkable Autumn vice with you. What’s yours? Do you have an “off the menu” item to introduce to me?
Until this year, I never realized how close the first day of Autumn (September 23rd) and the first day of the Jewish New Year (sunset of September 28th) are to each other on our calendar. While the greenness of Spring symbolizes a new beginning for many, it is the Fall season that has always best represented newness of life to me.
Yes, there are the more obvious images of Autumn that make us feel good: the scorching heat of Summer finally dies, Starbucks brings back their pumpkin flavored drinks, our favorite TV shows premiere their new seasons, and the glory of American football becomes inescapable. Sure, we have to suffer the upcoming time change, but there’s a certain calmness and quietness to the Fall season that charms me every year.
This Autumn is especially like a new year for me. After nearly a year without it, my family is officially back on insurance again through Vanderbilt University- that gives me such a necessary peace of mind!
And within the next week or so, we will be moving back into our townhouse. (We’ve been staying with good and gracious friends since we moved back to Nashville in July.)
My son will turn a year old in November; so the Fall season will transform my infant into a toddler. And a few weeks before his birthday, we will finally get to see him in his awesome Halloween costume… a sea otter! (Random enough?)
As if it wasn’t obvious, Autumn is (and always has been) my favorite season. So as Nick Drakes plays on my iPod in the background, I proudly sound my imaginary shofar in celebration of a particular new year.
I finally made my first purchase through Groupon: a half priced entry fee for 2011 The Warrior Dash in Manchester, site of the famous Bonnaroo music festival. My good friend Dave told me how instead of paying 60 bucks to run in the obstacle course-infused 5 K race, I could do it for only 30. It was just random enough that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
While I do ride my mountain bike during my lunch break every day, and run when I can, I am definitely not conditioned for a 3 mile, American Gladiator style race. I was well aware of the fact I wouldn’t come close to winning. I was just in it for the thrill of the unknown adventure. So much so, that I didn’t even research what kind of obstacles I would be encountering in The Warrior Dash.
Last Saturday morning, I drove Jack and Jill nearly an hour outside of Nashville and joined the thousands of other adventurists; many of them in outrageous costumes. My goal was simply to run the entire race, never slowing down to a jog or walk.
The race was designed to wear a person out. During the first half of the 5K, there were only a couple of challenges, like scaling a 10 foot tall mountain of hay bales and running on top of junk cars; no prob. But that final mile and a half was barbed in wire; both metaphorically and literally.
I remember having to climb three separate walls (being at least two stories high) with the help of a knotted rope. Reaching the top was the “easy” part. It was the other side of each of those walls that was the problem. One wall simply had wooden planks about three feet apart to climb down on, the next had a steel pole to slide down, and the third had a makeshift ladder that went half way down, then it just dropped off: I had to fall at least 12 feet, fortunately landing on my feet.
Of course, having ran hard the whole way, each obstacle was that much more difficult to cross; my arms were automatically shaking as I crossed the vertical rope ladder and the man-made cave, which involved crawling in a completely dark, two foot tall tunnel.
Mind you, there are so many participants in this race, we were constantly bumping into each other; simply not tripping over each other was a challenge in and of itself. The race ended with a 3 foot deep mud pit. I didn’t want to ruin my good pair of running shoes, so I carried them above my head while avoiding the barbed wires.
Needless to say, I achieved my goal- I ran the entire race. And though I came pretty close two times after the race ended, I never threw up.
It took me about 45 minutes and I’m pretty sure I beat the guy running in a tutu as well as Papa Smurf; so I felt pretty darn accomplished. I can’t wait to run it again next year!
Everything is a mysterious, physical adventure to my son, Jack. I think I envy that about him. After all, I sit behind a desk on the phone for 8 hours a day. The Warrior Dash allowed me to imagine myself in a world similar to Jack’s; adding mud, blood, and bruises.