Category Archives: Life

Transcending the Slumps

Nearly two years ago, my life took a painfully dramatic turn. My primary focus for nine years had been creating and maintaining a stable marriage and family and I’d poured everything I had into it. But suddenly I was faced with the reality that this life I’d been building was based on an illusion and not sustainable anymore. My world pretty much shattered at that point. But I needed to pick myself up and go back to full time work so I could support myself. Then I could start patching myself back together, while still being a stable and loving presence for my boys. It seemed impossible at the time, but somehow I got lucky and found a steady job in my field with benefits for me and my kids. It was a huge break and I am very thankful for it.

It’s definitely not ideal to be learning a new job and meeting new people when your life is falling apart. It makes small talk excruciating. You don’t want to be the freak who unloads all kinds of weird personal information onto your new coworkers during month one. Or ever, really. So I mostly kept to myself. Now I’ve been at my job over a year and have a pleasant relationships with my coworkers, but I don’t know any of them very well. It was too much of a minefield to talk about anything personal, especially at first. I never knew when I’d just burst into tears. But it turns out you can actually cry discreetly at work or pretty much anywhere in Austin, because there are always allergens in the air to explain away your red watery eyes and the way you go through a box of tissues a day. I learned to carry big sunglasses, eye drops, mascara and tissues with me at all times and I would head out for a walk if I felt like I was going to burst into tears. I think it’s pretty hard to tell if someone is crying when they are walking at a steady pace and wearing big sunglasses. You can run and cry as well, because sweat obscures the teariness, but eventually it is hard to breathe, so I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it. Crying in the car is a bad idea, but who can help it? Use caution. Luckily this phase does not last forever.

Sometimes I feel like I feel like I am doing really well and have my life back together. But so far it hasn’t seemed to last for very long. I fall into tailspins where I’m filled with self-doubt and I don’t feel strong anymore. Last week was a rough one: my ex acted weirdly and put me in an uncomfortable situation, my children were angry and sad and I didn’t know how to help them, some guy I don’t know very well said something rude and careless to me. All of a sudden I felt every crack in my broken teacup of a life. And everything felt wrong again. So that’s where I am right now. In a slump, I guess. I’ve been here before, so it’s not like it’s unfamiliar territory. All I know to do is keep moving. I’ll take walks at lunch. I’ll run when I can. I’ll try not to dwell on the feeling of things being wrong. I’ll move my thoughts to something else when I get too focused on sadness. I’ll throw myself into work. I’ll try to write, though as you see, nothing funny comes out. But I’ll do it anyway. I’m writing this now, on my lunch break because it feels like I’m doing something productive to get it out.  And I know a lot of you have been here, too. Maybe you’re in a slump right now. If so, I’m with you. We’ll just keep moving forward.

I’ll see and talk to the people I trust. The ones who know that this is where I am sometimes and they still accept and love me. The ones who help me see that I’m not doing everything wrong. That I am moving forward. It’s just taking the time it is taking. I am incredibly lucky to have a group of these people who help pull me up when I am falling down.

My kids’ hard time is the roughest thing for me. I want to make it better, but I want to give them the space to move through what they are moving through. My middle son is the one who is most obviously struggling these days. Last week he said he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be happy again. He’s eight. He reminds me that I can’t sink into any of this, because I have to show him how to pull himself up. I remembered an article I read that suggested that you can find “thin slices of joy” every day if you look for them. You can notice how nice the breeze feels on a walk or savor the first bite of something delicious or hear the beginning of a song you love or really notice how cute that goofy pug in a sweater is in the Facebook video your friend posted. Maybe you aren’t going to be happy all the time, but there are always little joys you can notice and that may help you get to a better place. I talked about this with my son and we’ve started trying to notice the little happy things in our lives. He’s been mentioning to me when he notices something good and I’m trying to do the same. We all got excited about the big full moon the other night. Maybe it will just become second nature to us. We’ll start automatically noticing all the little joys we are so lucky to encounter and things won’t seem as wrong anymore. We’ll learn how to be happy again. Maybe this is the beginning of the next phase.

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tiny hands in South Beach

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I met a guy who was only in town for the night. We kind of hit it off and exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. This guy turned out to have too much money and frequent flier miles, so he offered to meet me in South Beach one weekend so we could get to know each other better. I took various security precautions to ensure he wouldn’t leave me for dead, but I did not know this meant I was expected to, well, put out.

In honor of PEOTUS’s hands, his inauguration (I will be wearing black, in mourning for our country and general notions of sanity and goodness) and throwback Thursday , I bring you the story of tiny hands in South Beach.

Miami International Airport. There he is—tiny hands. Okay, he’s cute—short (with tiny hands—as I’ll discover later), but cute. I can handle this. We grab a cab and direct our driver to our hotel. “Second-best hotel in South Beach,” tiny hands says to me, as if I care. I nod and wonder aloud, “According to whom?”

Second Best Hotel in South Beach. We check in and find our room decorated in white; very sleek and very modern. I stare at the bed. THE bed. Just one. There’s also a couch…could I ask him to? Ah, forget it. I’ll get drunk and pass out and then I won’t have to deal.

Tantra. Very cool place. Diva recommended it specifically for the aphrodisiac menu. I tear into my entrée and wait for the aphrodisiac effect. Nothing. I gulp some more alcohol and look at tiny hands. Nope, still nothing. What is he babbling about? Oh yeah, something about the millions of trips he’s taken this year. And how he’s a really bad dancer. Thanks for the warning. What the hell? Now he’s text messaging his friend.

“This guy, who I’m talking to; he’s the one who recommended the hotel-second best in South Beach.”

I think about faking a heart attack so I can spend the weekend in the hospital.

Second Best Hotel in South Beach. We return from Tantra slightly buzzed. Well, I am. I’m also exhausted—it’s been a long day. I brush my teeth, change for bed and dive under the sheets.

“Good night! So very tired!” I say, and turn over. I wonder if tiny is a tiny bit disappointed, but then again, so was I when I realized how lame he is.

Lunch. Somehow, we’ve gotten turned around on the directions from the girl at the concierge desk. We’re walking; well, I am—and tiny hands is sort of shuffling and whining about his Adidas soccer slippers. They’re hurting his tender feet. Maybe that’s because (1) they’re brand new (2) they are supposed to be worn with socks and (3) tiny hands doesn’t  play soccer.

Yet he’s insistent on finding this stupid restaurant. We pass roughly 6,000 sidewalk cafes and I’m about to gnaw my arm off when we finally choose one at random. We choose badly, as the waiter is so stoned he forgets about us. Which means I get hungrier and tiny hands gets chattier. This time I get to hear about his Saab and how it really punches on the highway. I watch some hot guys play volleyball and wonder if I could join them.

We’re walking back from lunch when tiny hands takes my hand. It’s all I can do not to snatch my palm out of his. Oh jeez. It’s so SMALL. And sweaty. Dude, is this guy really 13? What’s going ON here?

Beach. I’m lying in the sun, hoping that tiny hands will STOP talking. For just a minute. And if he does talk, please God, make it something interesting. But no. I have my nose in a novel and he asks, “What are you reading?” I answer without removing my eyes from the page.

“So, do you need me to help put lotion on your back?” he asks.

“No, I’m fine.” Reading.

Sweet silence for a few moments. Then, “Are you sure you don’t want to take your top off?”

Would it be more painful to kill him by dumping him in the ocean with raw meat tied to him, or perhaps by burying him in the sand and depositing birdseed on his head?

“So, have your boobs ever been in the sun?”

Raw meat. Sharks. Yesssss.

Finally he says he’s going swimming. As soon as he’s out of earshot I grab my phone.

“GIGI! Help! This guy is so not cool! I can’t stand him! I want to come home! Help!” She giggles and tries to reassure me. After all, I only have another 24 hours to go. Tiny hands unfortunately has not drowned, as he returns and lies down in his lounge chair. Finally, he’s quiet and I sneak a peek to see if he’s fallen asleep. If so, maybe I can grab my stuff and run…fast. I can’t tell what he’s doing behind the mirrored sunglasses. Yeah, mirrored. Don’t ask. So I decide to flip over. “Good idea,” he comments. Oh GOD. He’s still awake. And WHERE is the damn waiter? We’ve been out here for two hours and not a drop of alcohol. And tiny hands has a strict rule about not drinking until 5 p.m. Whatever.

Pool. Good. Pool = drinks and food. Tiny hands gets in the water and I grab another deck chair and a new magazine. Sweet Jesus—there’s a waitress, heading my way with a tray. it’s like she’s in slow motion as she hands me a deliciously cool vodka tonic, and I’m saying, “Yeah, just charge that to the room.” Tiny hands gets out of the pool to join me, drains his Heineken and says he’ll have a vodka tonic also.

“I usually have gin and tonic,” he tells me, while I wonder how long it would take me to drown myself.

I mutter, “Oh?” while focused on the magazine. I may even have it upside down.

“But I decided to try vodka tonic.”

“Why?” Do I look like I care, buddy?

“Because you’re drinking it; and well, because it sounded so light and refreshing that I wanted to try it.”

I grab my own cocktail and down it. He did not just say “light and refreshing,” did he? There should be a list of words straight men should not say—and “light and refreshing” should be on it. And why the hell does it matter what I’m drinking?

Hotel Room Patio. Three vodka tonics later, we’re waiting for dinner. Well, that’s what I’m doing. If I can just keep him out of the room, maybe he won’t try and make out with me. I keep running to the bar to get more vodka tonics, while tiny hands babbles about everything from his cable modem to his mom’s boyfriends when he was growing up to condo fees for the new place he wants to buy in Georgetown. Oh—and don’t forget—this is the SECOND best hotel in Miami beach. THE SECOND BEST. I resist the urge to scream “SHUT UP!” and smile and sip my cocktail instead.

I’m getting out of the shower—door locked—when I hear my cell phone ringing. It’s Diva. “What are you doing?” she asks.

“Hiding in the bathroom,” I hiss.

“Oh no,” she replies, laughing. “That can’t be good.”

“I can’t wait to get the hell out of here,” I tell her. I hang up with Diva and make up songs about how much I hate tiny hands. Yup, the alcohol is helping.

Some Restaurant. Tiny hands and I can’t agree on wine so we order by the glass. I’ve lost track of how much I’ve had. I just know that as soon as he gets up to go to the bathroom, there’s a guy facing me from across the room who shakes his head sadly at me. I start laughing and mouth, “He’s that bad?” He shrugs and makes a motion to slit his throat. I’m convulsing with giggles when tiny hands returns to the table.

“What, are you flirting with someone?” he says. He looks enraged but still…tiny and lame.

I giggle some more, take a gulp of wine and nod. “Yup! He’s cracking me up!” Tiny hands looks wildly around the restaurant but Heckler has fallen smoothly into conversation with his table. I try and catch his eye but he’s a master—until tiny hands stumbles to the bathroom again. Then Heckler starts up again. He’s clearly indicating that he thinks tiny hands is a loser and he can’t understand what I’m doing with him. I shrug. Dude, I don’t have any answers either. More wine.

Outside Some Restaurant. I realize tiny hands also has a Tiny Alcohol Tolerance. And boy are those tiny hands moving fast over my ass. The night has turned windy and I decide if we’re going to Lario’s to dance I’ll need my sweater. Tiny hands and I start walking toward our hotel. And his hands feel permanently affixed to my ass, despite my constant protests.

“Seriously, tiny, stop touching me,” I keep saying, and he babbles about being drunk and how that prevents him from listening, apparently. I tell him I don’t care. Lario’s is out of the question as he has become too drunk to function. Damn those light and refreshing vodka tonics!

Then he says to me, “You got me drunk. You should expect this.” My annoyance quickly transforms to revulsion. I got him drunk? So I could take advantage of him? WTF is he saying?

Quick, think. Okay, we’ll buy liquor. Maybe people from the club at the hotel will drunkenly wander to our patio, and as long as I have people around, he won’t be able to molest me. I drag the Octopus into a liquor store. I’ll put his drunk ass to bed and party with some cool people. He’s all over me—still. “BACK the FUCK OFF,” I snarl, as I’m purchasing a bottle of vodka.

Second Best Hotel in Miami. Back in the room, he heads for the sliding glass door as I grab my sweater. He’s smoking a cigarette and apologizing for being so forward. “I jus…I jus…needed a lil’ nicotine,” he slurs. Outside, I sit in the chair opposite him, longing to be on the crowded dance floor. It’s just…a few steps away…

“Yeah, nicotine will fix your problem, all right,” I spit.

“I promise to stop hitting on you,” he says, getting to his feet and putting a hand on my shoulder.

“Yeah, see, with that hand on my shoulder, you’re already breaking a rule,” I tell him. “THE ONE THAT SAYS STOP TOUCHING ME.”

It appears my party plan won’t work, as I realize at some point I’ll have to sleep in the same bed with mr. handsy. I toy with the idea of running off the patio, finding a group of people and hanging with them all night. But at some point I have to return to this damn room. Tiny hands is smoking another cigarette and complimenting himself on ashing into the water bottle.

“I’m not very comfortable here,” I announce, standing up. “I think it’s time for me to go.”

“Thas’ ridiculous,” tiny hands exclaims, looking up at me and then quickly back the cigarette to see if he’s succeeded in getting the ash into the bottle again. “Where you goin’?”

“Somewhere else,” I tell him and go quickly into the bathroom, gathering shampoo, conditioner, makeup and toothbrush in an armful. I dump them in my case while he struggles toward the bed.

“Awww, come on,” he mutters, patting the bed beside him. “We’ll jus’ sleep. Really. No touching. Sleep nice.”

“Nope. Don’t believe you,” I respond brightly, throwing clothes into my bag at lightning speed. Freedom never seemed so sweet.

“Please? Jus’ siddown. Jus’ sit and talk to me.”

“I don’t think so,” I reply, and hoist my bag to my shoulder. “I’m outta here. Have a nice night!”

I flee before he can stumble after me and grab yet another body part with his tiny hands. In the lobby, I ask the desk clerk where I can grab a room for the night; she directs me to a hotel down the street. I walk through the streets of Miami with a duffel bag over one shoulder, wondering what the hell he’s doing now. My cell phone rings. Oh. That’s what he’s doing.

I ignore his call, check into a new hotel, and have a fabulous Sunday in Miami. Alone.

 

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End of the Year Questions – Part II (Shakira)

I read Gigi’s entry on this topic and decided I would give it a go. Partly because I love a countdown at the end of the year (I remember being glued to the TV to watching a countdown of music videos on MTV back when MTV actually played such things) and I also love a montage. Sitting down to think through my year is like a mashup of both. Also, who doesn’t love talking about themselves?

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I went on five ski trips in 2016 – between the two of them, I was able to ski the penultimate weekend in Arapahoe Basin (A-Bay to me and my buddies) in May, and then the second weekend A-Bay opened in October, meaning there was barely five months during between trips. How freaking amazing is that? Skiing in October also meant that I did something else I’d never done before – watch my beloved Longhorns play football between my laps around the mountain.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I never make New Year’s resolutions, but Sterling and I decided on financial, physical, professional, personal and relationship goals. I just looked back at the list and uhhhh…

I’m just gonna re-set the same goals for 2017. How’s that?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not in 2016, but my friend MaryAnn gave birth on Christmas Eve 2015, so that’s pretty close.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank goodness.

5. What countries did you visit?
I didn’t leave the U.S. in my travels this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Confidence. And a manual transmission Aston Martin Vantage V8.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory?
November 8.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
One of the attorneys on our very small team left in April, and I had to do my job plus hers for several months. I am extremely proud of the way I handled it. I received multiple awards and shout-outs from colleagues over the course of the year, ranging from a formal plaque in my office, to a gigantic box of Godiva cookies, to emails and instant messages saying some version of “Thank you. You’re the best.” The best compliment by far might have been when my boss said: “We hit the jackpot with you.” (I almost fell out of my chair. And here’s hoping that’s reflected at review time in April.)

9. What was your biggest failure?
Sterling and I utterly failed at curbing our spending going out. However, see #12.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I took a spill one night at a bar while dancing. There may have been booze involved. I was also kind of making out with my husband so that’s still a win. My knee is a little wonky but it doesn’t impact skiing so I’m rolling with it. I also endured the annoyance of a colonoscopy because I learned that colon problems may run in my family. Clean bill of health, but I will have to get regular colonoscopies every five years. Wooo.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I’m going to cheat a little bit on this, and give two answers:

1 – Our house, purchased in November 2015. Even though it’s not 2016, it *almost* is. I had to include it because it’s hands-down the best thing I’ve ever purchased in my life. I also think it counts because Sterling and I spent most of the year saying to each other, “I love our house” and “I love where we live.”

2 – For something truly purchased in 2016, it’s the Garmin watch I gave Sterling for his birthday. We make it a practice not to give gifts on the standard occasions, instead getting a gift for the other when we feel like it. (This makes gifts an unexpected delight.) In this case, I knew he wanted this ridiculously expensive watch to add to his collection, so I bought it for him. I decided his birthday would be a good time to give it to him. This way I could tell everyone at his party that I am a cool wife. Kidding. Kind of.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Again, a little embarrassing, but true. Going out to eat and drink. Being DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) means that you spend stupid money doing stupid things just because you can. But sometimes being stupid is really fun.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Every vacation, especially skiing. Aside from skiing in Angelfire and A-Bay, we went to Dallas on a Race Armada poker run, Boston for a wedding, Scottsdale for Friendiversary with Gigi and Madame V, San Antonio on a Race Armada rally, Austin for various visits/holidays and Tulsa for Christmas. (Okay, I admit, I was not that excited about Tulsa, but at least it was cold for a day and felt like Christmas. And I got a bottle of Bailey’s in the white elephant gift exchange. Winning.)

14. What song will always remind you of 2016?
See #21.

Also, “My House” by Flo Rida. I know what the song *really* means, but to me and Sterling, it means that all our friends are coming over to celebrate. We had a huge group over to the house for his birthday in January, and then we went to Clé. We walked outside and every person’s exotic/supercar was parked all over the neighborhood, including a Lambo hard-parked in the neighbor’s driveway. It was like we had our own entourage. That’s the rally life.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Sadder. I am having a really hard time getting past the election results and what it means for our country and my relationships with some of my friends.

– thinner or fatter? I am just about the same. However, I hate this question.

– richer or poorer? About to be poorer because I have to pay property tax in 30 days. But it’s worth it, because have you heard I love my house?

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, meditating (I keep trying to learn), doing new things like riding bikes or going to see a play, and trying things that take me out of my comfort zone. I read an article yesterday about Mischa Barton (yes, random, but I just downloaded the first season of the O.C. to re-watch and so when an article about her popped up in my twitter feed, I had to see how Marissa Cooper was doing as she approaches 30) and she said she heard somewhere you should re-invent yourself every seven years. Because my law career started in 2007, I’m overdue for a reinvention.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being hard on myself, stressing out about work, worrying about the future. (Again I am copying Gigi somewhat, but it’s true. Therefore, Gigi, you and I have some work to do. Perhaps another Friendiversary is in order.)

18. How did you spend Christmas/Hanukkah/Major Holiday of your choice?
I spent Christmas Day driving back from a visit to Tulsa to see Sterling’s family. That’s about seven hours in the car. That time was spent asking each other dumb questions, gossiping, sipping a Starbucks coffee (to pretend it was still cold outside, like Christmas should be, but I digress), listening to music, exchanging texts with Gigi and Madame V, and reading the Internet. All of it. Once we got home, we turned around and went to our new favorite neighborhood bar, Clutch. We walked in and immediately found a group of our friends, who yelled merrily and gave us hugs. It was a pretty good day.

19. What were your favorite TV programs?
Designated Survivor, Timeless, Botched by Nature, Marriage Boot Camp

20. What were your favorite books you read this year?
These are all the books I gave five stars on goodreads:

A Much Married Man, Wicked Pleasures, One Fifth Avenue, Crazy Blood, Leaving Time, Orange is the New Black, More Than You Know

You can see that I enjoy a very high brow type of literary greatness.

21. What was your favorite music you heard this year?
“Five More Hours” – Deorro and Chris Brown. Sterling became obsessed with this song around January sometime, and it became our theme song for partying all year. I requested it from DJs, turned it on in Ubers, played it while baking and meal prepping on Sundays.

22. What were your favorite films you saw this year?
Film-watching is not one of my strengths, but Sterling and I watched a psychological thriller called The Invitation a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I celebrated all weekend because my birthday fell on a Sunday. Friday night I was supposed to have dinner with the in-laws, but my flight from Chicago was delayed until 6:30. Pretty sure we were the last ones out that night, due to the weather. We had to de-ice before takeoff, as it was snowing pretty steadily. Poor Sterling worried about me from the moment I flipped my phone into airplane mode until we landed. I should have paid for wireless and emailed him—oops. When I did get home, we went out for drinks at Clutch.

Saturday, we drove to Austin and stayed at the W with our Race Armada friends. I met up with a group of people—Gigi and Madame V included—at Lavaca Street Bar downtown. Old school.

Sunday, back to Houston for brunch at Cyclone Anaya’s. Sterling and I continued the party after brunch. The night ended with a shopping spree at CVS that included three flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The next morning we discovered toothpaste on the cat.

Not a bad showing for 39.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I am going to echo Gigi on this one: The first female president being elected.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Classy and hip for work. Refusing to act my age, sexy bordering on slutty when I go out. Wait, Gigi told me on my birthday to stop talking like that (slutty). Okay, sexy and fierce when going out.

26. What kept you sane?
My husband. I kept a diary of my happy moments on this blog, starting in February. Here’s what I said about him on our anniversary, and this pretty much sums it up:

My husband is worth of mad love for many, many reasons. He’s handsome, smart, funny, sweet, hard working. He takes care of me. He’s a true partner in our relationship. He makes me feel like I’m the only woman in the room. But the best thing about him? The reason I married him and am happy to go through this mad journey called life together? He lets me be me. Every day. Not only does he let me be me, he loves that version of me. Even when it’s not the best version.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Our country hasn’t come as far as I thought we had in terms of civil discourse, racism and respecting others who are different. We need to be involved, keep the faith and speak up for what we believe is right.

(I am not sure these are life lessons, but two significant things I learned in 2016:

If my husband leaves me or dies, I am selling everything I own and moving to Colorado to ski as much as possible. Basically, I am a true alcoholic’s daughter, which means I create backup plans constantly.

My husband thinks I am one of the strongest people he knows. I think that is fucking cool.)

 

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End of the Year Questions

Five years ago, I found an end of the year wrap-up quiz on a really good blog called All & Sundry Mourning. I thought the questions were interesting and it seemed a good way to remember what happened in the nearly-over year and prepare to move forward into the nearly-here one. This is a mildly tweaked version of her quiz, which may be a mildly tweaked version of someone else’s, if I read her explanation correctly.

So here is my 2016. What was yours like? If you want to share your answers, I’d love to read them.  Either way, I recommend taking some time and thinking about the year that was.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
So these things may not seem like a big deal, but as I haven’t been much of a traveler in my life (so far) they were novel and exciting for me.

I went to Scottsdale, Arizona with Shakira, her hubby and another fabulous friend for our 20 year ‘Friendiversary’. In Scottsdale, they sell liquor in the Walgreens, even on Sunday and there were many apartments that looked like they were right out of the Three’s Company 70s. It was fabulous.

I took all three of my kids on a plane trip by myself to visit my family in Florida. None of them were experienced flyers, so it was exciting for us all. Please note that Southwest Airlines makes a fine Bloody Mary.

I stayed in a hotel room by myself for the first time ever on a work trip in September. One of my all-time favorite things to do in life is watch tv in bed, but I don’t have a tv in my actual bedroom, because I suspect it would encourage my latent agoraphobia to blossom, so I especially adored this part of the trip. It’s the little things, baby.

Unrelated to travel: I saw the movie Elf.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions at the end of last year, since 2015 was a shitstorm for me. But I’m feeling stronger, so it’s time to make goals:

I’m going to spend time with the people I adore.

I’m going to spend time alone.

I’m going to write and work on things I love.

I’m going to keep running regularly and participate in some races.

I’m going to try not to say yes to things I don’t want out of a warped sense of obligation.

I’m going to say yes to things that sound like fun to me, even if they scare me a little.

I’m going to ask questions and seek answers.

I’m going to say what I need to say.

I’m going to keep working on building myself and my boys back up.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A dear friend had the most wonderful, smiley and cuddly baby in April. I’m so glad I get to know this little girl!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
David Bowie, Prince and George Michael. Plus Carrie Fisher. Ugh, this year was brutal. And yes, I’m aware that I did not know these folks personally and the actual year didn’t kill them. And yet….there are still a few days left in 2016 and I’m hoping that all of the Duran Duran guys and Judy Blume are taking their vitamins.

5. What countries did you visit?
I kept my magic to the good ol’ U S of A! I did go to Canada in my head for a while in November, though.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Optimism. The year 2016 may have killed my optimism. And my faith in humanity. I hope those things can be resuscitated.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory?
The day I started my job. The day I got my second divorce. The day I ran the half marathon with my sister (that one’s easy, ’cause it was my birthday).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting my high school prom picture etched in glass to create the “I’m So F*cking Impressed” award. It’s best idea I’ve ever had. Looking forward to celebrating the ISFIs in the near future. It’s gonna be bigger than the Oscars!

9. What was your biggest failure?
My morning routine with my boys is a colossal failure. It does not go smoothly AT ALL. EVER. I need to rework it in 2017.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a couple of colds and some allergy issues, but nothing major. KNOCK ON WOOD. The year isn’t over yet.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My house.

12. Where did most of your money go?
See 11. The rest goes to HEB, Target and Trader Joe’s where I buy all the foods that come from mythical creatures, plus cheap wine.

13. What did you get really excited about?
I was extremely excited about my Friendiversary and Thanksgiving trips. I was very excited to eat and drink with abandon after I ran the half marathon. And I was pretty excited to return to Stars Hollow, via my couch, to watch the Gilmore Girls update. The dorkiest thing I got really excited about was catching the Pikachu with the Santa hat while playing Pokémon Go with my son.

14. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Phosphorescent’s Song for Zula. It didn’t come out this year, but I listened to it a lot. I mean, these lyrics:

“Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love. You see, it came to me
It put its face up to my face so I could see
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me
Into something I am not recognizing ”

and

“I am not some broken thing
I do not lay here in the dark waiting for thee
No my heart is gold. My feet are light
And I am racing out on the desert plains all night.”

Yep.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier. Wow.

– thinner or fatter? A little fatter. (Why? Why?!?)

– richer or poorer? Considering I didn’t have a job last year, I’m much richer!

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Playing outside with my kids. Going to the movies. Sleeping.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying. Crying. Reading internet comments with mouth agape at the level of stupidity, unkindness and atrocious spelling contained in them.

18. How did you spend Christmas/Hanukkah/Major Holiday of your choice?
I drank all the booze and ate all the food. Hmmm…wonder why I’ve gained weight? On Christmas Day I had my boys in the morning, then I went to a great party and got to spend time with some of my dearest people in the evening. We had an impromptu George Michael dance party, possibly to the chagrin of some of the men in attendance. It was a good one, except for the part about losing George.

19. What were your favorite TV programs?
Stranger Things. Offspring. Fargo. Catastrophe.

20. What were your favorite books you read this year?
The Book Thief. M Train. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

21. What was your favorite music you heard this year?
I went to see/hear way more live music in 2016 than I have in a long time and those experiences have been the highlight of the music part of my year. At one show the band did a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity and it was sublime.

22. What were your favorite films you saw this year?
Keanu and Bad Moms. Comedies for the win! I didn’t go to the movies enough this year, though. Gotta put that on my list of resolutions!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Ugh…I turned 45. Just typing that makes me want to lay down. My fabulous sister came to town and we went to Houston and ran a half marathon together. Then we had dinner and many margaritas with Shakira and her hubby. It was a truly great birthday, except for the whole being halfway to 90 part.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The first female president being elected.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Librarian up to no good.

26. What kept you sane?
Who says I’m sane?

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. And I have a voice that may be rusty from squelching it down for so long, but it is still there. I feel unsure sometimes, a residue from years of feeling like I was all wrong, but I am learning to trust my instincts again. Even though it has been painful at times, getting the chance to rebuild my life and make it my own is an amazing thing. I am lucky.

OK, 2017, let’s do this! Happy New Year to one and all!!!

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Morning Routine

Rudely awakened by the bleating of my first alarm, which goes off at a ridiculously dark hour. So strange to not feel refreshed and energized after 5 1/2 hours of fitful sleep! First I put the coffee on, now the day can begin. Oh my God, who is that mug shot in my mirror? Nick Nolte? Oh shit, it’s me. Stupid 40s, why do you hurt me? Shower, then put on my pink fuzzy robe. Grab my coffee cup and buckle up. It’s about to get real.

Second alarm is 12 minutes later. That one plays “Don’t Stop Believin’” for extra motivation. I need it ’cause it’s time to wake the children.

It is unfortunate that only one of my children is a morning person. That child, while not thrilled to be getting up, will generally smile at me and get out of bed and possibly start getting ready for school. The other two are in no mood for pleasantries. They are burrowing, they are growling. They can only be lured from their beds with promises of pop tarts. They don’t know that my pop tarts aren’t the real deal, but some facsimile from Trader Joe’s that claims to be “organic” and therefore full of nutrition, right? But really, how can something called a “toaster pastry” be organic, or healthy, or even considered food? That is one of the many mysteries I will not be solving this morning.

After I have thrown food at the kids, I grab my coffee and attempt to make myself look like the competent professional I aim to be someday. Not hungry yet, but I will likely be chowing on trail mix at my desk later this morning. I eat a lot of trail mix for someone who is not particularly outdoorsy. I read and admired Wild, but I’m going to have to go another way with my transformative journey. The way that doesn’t include wildlife or sleeping on the ground. As I dry my hair, I multitask by barking orders at my sons. Is it possible that they will someday figure out that they have to put clothes and shoes on their bodies and brush their teeth EVERY day without my telling them? Hasn’t happened yet. Won’t happen today. They are screaming at each other and eventually one of them throws a hardcover book at his brother’s head and there is more screaming and a little bit of blood. I wipe up the blood, do some consoling and scolding and direct the children to the next steps in the getting ready process. “Brush your teeth or they will all turn green and fall out of your face! I hear that the Tooth Fairy charges YOU to haul away the green ones.”

Oh crap, I’ve got to put on real clothes! Luckily, I have a dress I found at Ross for $14.99 which miraculously makes me look 10 pounds thinner. I don’t know if it’s the material, the cut, or the print, but it’s magical wizardry! I need to find six more of these dresses.

Grab my youngest son’s “sack lunch” as Kindergarten has a field trip today. I have no sacks, so it is in a paper wine bag from Trader Joe’s, because I stock up on Three Buck Chuck when I purchase my organic pop tarts and trail mix. The bag has a wine bottle on one side and a wine glass on the other. Awesome.

Time to go! Each minute that passes after my set to-go time buys me exponentially more minutes in congested Austin traffic.

But wait! Shoes! I tell the boys to put their shoes in a bin by the door every evening. But do they put them there? Occasionally. Right now, five out of six feet are shoed. Nobody can find the sixth shoe. I search around frantically while about a third of the hundreds of “dammits” and “shits” in my head come out of my mouth. I consider that a victory. And I find the shoe under the couch and consider that a victory as well. Roar up to the school in my vaguely-colored minivan and practically push them out of the car. Now it’s time for traffic hell.

Did you know that things are just magnetically drawn to vaguely-colored minivans? Cars come at my van like moths to a vaguely-colored flame. And nobody wants to be behind a vaguely-colored minivan, least of all Dodge Ram drivers. They seem to think that their penises will fall off if a vaguely-colored minivan passes them, so they are on high alert and do their damnedest not to let it happen. If I get cut off or somebody is practically driving up my butt, that person is most often piloting a Dodge Ram. Hey guys, I don’t think the penis thing is true! It doesn’t seem like real science. Please stop trying to kill me.

I live 10 miles away from my job, but it takes me at least 40 minutes to get there. Luckily this morning I have a sweet Neil Diamond playlist going. “I AM, I CRIED! I AM, SAID I!” Hell yeah, Neil. I AM the bitch driving the vaguely-colored minivan you are stuck behind, Mr. Ram. Suck it.

I eventually get to my parking garage, which is three blocks from work. Not terrible, unless it is raining. The thing that IS terrible is the garage stairwell. It smells like a whole lotta urine and at the bottom there is often some sort of weird surprise like old pants, or empty cough medicine bottles, or dead crickets. Today I realize, after exiting the stairwell, that I have forgotten my badge in my car. I have to run back up four flights of stairs, causing me to breathe heavily and suspect I am huffing a urine cloud. That can’t be good.

Alas, the harrowing times aren’t over. The three blocks to work are filled with crazed Austin commuters and I must make my way across the streets like I’m playing a live version of Frogger. I am almost run over by a guy in a Prius who didn’t see me in the crosswalk because my magical dress made me look so incredibly thin. We stare at each other in horror for a second and then he smiles apologetically and gives me a wave, like “Glad I didn’t run you over! Have a nice day!” Whew. I’m finally at my building, the courthouse, where there is usually a line to get through the metal detector at the entrance. Courthouses are one of the few places in Texas where your concealed weapons are not welcome. Never fear, you can still bring them to the state mental hospital or your film studies class at the university, where they are totally appropriate. I don’t make it through without setting off the buzzer and must be “wanded” by a police officer. Not gonna lie, that was the best part of my morning.

I make it to my desk, just barely on time and breathe a sigh of relief. My cube-mate smiles the serene, well-rested smile of a child-free woman and says, “Good morning!” I say, “I’m gonna need to go to Starbucks and drop six bucks on a ridiculous beverage with syrup and whipped cream. Need anything?” I think I deserve it.

 

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