Kindness Matters

Heading home from the recycling center, I stopped at the corner, waiting for the light. Something caught my eye in the road. It was a kitten—a tiny one who was having trouble getting his back legs to work—and each time a car passed within inches, he cringed and then lunged closer to the curb. I stared, horrified, thinking any moment now the poor kitten would get hit or run over, and I would be front and center to witness the carnage.

I threw my 4Runner in park, turned on the hazards, and hopped out into the early evening sun. He was close to the corner now, and scrabbling to make it to the curb. I could tell from how he flinched as I knelt close to him that he didn’t really want me to touch him. Luckily, there was enough of a break in the traffic for me to scoop up his feather light little body. I deposited him in the grass on the corner lot. An elderly man strolled toward both of us on the sidewalk, telling me how sweet I was to help. I didn’t know what to do next.

I got back in my car and sent a Marco Polo message to my husband Sterling, explaining what had happened.

“I don’t know what to do! I can’t unsee this little guy trying to get across the street, and I know he’s hungry and thirsty.” I navigated the road and my messages, attempting at red lights when it was safe to search online for cat rescue groups. It was after 6 p.m., and hardly anything would be open. Especially if I were to take him to a veterinarian—if I could find him again!—I’d be stuck paying for the emergency ones.

By the time I got home 15 minutes later, Sterling had gathered a box, a towel, a water dish, some cat food in a plastic Ziploc bag, and a bottle of water. The plan was to rescue the kitten and take him to the Houston SPCA, who had an after-hours ambulance that would be able to pick him up, considering he was possibly injured.

Sterling and I met at the corner where I had originally helped the little guy into the grass. It appeared to be abandoned; there was an auto shop across the street and a gas station and convenience store to the left, but on this lot was just a shuttered building and some overgrown, yellowing vegetation. There was no sign of the kitten upon first glance, but he definitely hadn’t been moving very fast and I’d only been gone for a half hour.

“I think I hear something,” Sterling said, gesturing toward a dry, scraggly bush that looked as if it desperately wanted a drink of water.

I peered underneath it and sure enough, the kitten had found refuge there. He didn’t look comfortable or safe, but he knew at least those monstrous, noisy hunks of metal were no longer whizzing past him. He stared at us with huge eyes and made tiny “mew” sounds.

We sat on our haunches, examining the bush and how to get in there. “He’s got to be hungry, and thirsty—and scared. I think he’s too young to be without his mom,” I fretted, swatting at the bugs in the summer heat.

We tried coax him out with some cat food and water, but the kitten just burrowed further under the bush. Even in his terror, he seemed to sense we were kindred spirits. Finally, Sterling just reached into the bush, scratching his arm in the process, but he was able to grab the tiny body. Safely in the box on a towel, we gave him a little bit of food and water. He took some grateful sips, but was mostly uninterested in the kibbles of cat food. He might need kitten food or maybe even bottle feeding. I worried about what had happened to his mother and his siblings. There had to be more of these little ones around, but because he’d been crossing the street it seemed hopeless to figure where they all might be.

We put him in the front seat of the 4Runner so I could keep an eye on him as I drove, even fastening the seat belt around the box. I called the HSPCA and arranged for the ambulance to come retrieve him as we drove back toward our house. He had stopped mewling; at one point I saw that he had practically passed out with his fuzzy head tucked into the towel and the corner of the box.

At home, we put him in the air-conditioned garage, still snuggled in his box. We didn’t think it would be a good idea to introduce our full-grown (very alpha) cat Batman to a random stray kitten. Every half hour or so, we’d tiptoe into the garage and look inside the box, checking to see if he was okay. He seemed exhausted, curled up in a ball, sleeping deeply. I comforted myself with the thought that he felt relaxed enough to rest.

The ambulance didn’t come to pick him up until 10:30 p.m. At that point, we’d gotten him some kitten food and were planning to put him in our cat’s carrier with a tiny litter box in case we needed to keep him overnight. The kitten stirred when I picked up the box, blinking at me as if to ask where he was going now. Outside, in the glow of the streetlights, the ambulance driver seemed like a sweet teddy bear of a man. I handed him the box, complete with the towel and water dish—I figured the HSPCA needed them more than we did. As the ambulance driver thanked me and I thought, “For what?” I could feel a small pang of something gnawing at me. Maybe I should have kept him. But I didn’t see how, considering we already had Batman.

I walked into the comfort of our brightly lit kitchen and promptly burst into tears. What was wrong with me? I lamented to Sterling. Was this some type of reaction partially delayed or attributed to losing our dog months ago? I worried that the poor little guy wouldn’t make it, or they’d just put him to sleep. What was the point of rescuing him if that was going to be his fate? Sterling gently reminded me of what I’d been saying all night: I had saved him from dying on the road, being hit by a car, being killed by some larger animal, or some other terrifying thing.

“Look at how he was sleeping so peacefully,” he pointed out. “You saved him, and it was so kind of you. You are always kind.”

I shook my head, wiping tears from my eyes. “Naw, I didn’t do anything special. I mean, wouldn’t anyone have saved a kitten? And you helped me,” I added.

“Think about it,” Sterling said. “You stopped the car in a neighborhood where it’s not a great place for a woman to be walking around alone, and you rushed to his aid.”

I widened my eyes as I gazed at him through tears. “Well, I didn’t even think about myself – I just did it.”

Sterling smiled at me. “See?”

I thought perhaps he had a point.

Being Latina In America

It was a cold, clear night in November 2000. We were driving home from the bar, even though none of us should have been. We’d had too much to drink. April was behind the wheel of her red 1974 Volkswagen Bug, I rode shotgun and Ginny might have been sleeping in the backseat.

The presidential election was still undecided. Florida’s electoral votes were still hanging – literally. Our route home took us past the Governor’s Mansion, where almost-President George W. Bush resided. Full of piss and vinegar, I stuck my hand out of the open passenger side window and flipped the bird.

Almost immediately, the lights of a police cruiser appeared in the rearview.

April pulled the car over. Ginny sat up from her semi-drunken slumber.

“I’m sorry, ladies, that was stupid,” I muttered. “It’s my fault, I’ll talk to the officer.”

There were two police officers. Instead of approaching the driver’s side, one of them came up to my window.

“Evening. Do you understand that you just threatened the President of the United States?” He loomed in the window, looking grim, hands resting lightly on his utility belt, ready to—what? Taze me? A twenty-something girl, 115 pounds soaking wet? Even in my slightly inebriated state, I sensed a good cop-bad cop routine going on here: his partner hung back near the cruiser, almost as if he didn’t agree with the traffic stop.

He’s not actually the President, I thought. Then: DO NOT say that out loud.

I spoke up, since as I had told my friends, this was entirely my fault. “I apologize, sir, I didn’t realize it was a problem. I just don’t like Bush.”

He was unmoved. “I’m going to need all of you to get out of the car.”

We were momentarily stunned. Get out of the car? I couldn’t just apologize, tell him I meant no harm, and be on our merry way?

We clambered out of the red VW, shivering in the November cold. We were dressed for the bar, tight shiny pants and spaghetti straps, not for an autumn evening stroll. The three of us huddled together in front of the open car door, and Bad Cop collected our licenses; he gave them to Good Cop, who took them back to the cruiser to run them.

Bad Cop stared us down. “You got any weapons in the car?”

This was insanity. I stared back incredulously. “No, of course not!”

“Yeah? What am I gonna find if I search it?”

“Nothing, go ahead,” I said, crossing my arms. April looked panicked. Unbeknownst to me, she had drugs in her glove box. Not just a little weed, either. Meth, most likely.

I decided to try again. “Look, Officer, sir, I didn’t mean to do anything wrong. I’m just a bleeding heart liberal. My friends didn’t do anything. Please leave them out of this.”

He regarded me like something he’d found on the bottom of his shoe. I hoped and prayed for Good Cop to return with a clean record for each of us. After Bad Cop ran through what April and Ginny did for a living (he didn’t seem to care about me – perhaps thought I wasn’t gainfully employed), Good Cop returned with the licenses and ostensibly those clean records.

Good Cop handed licenses back to April and Ginny, both blond and obviously White. He looked at me, though, and didn’t hand mine back.

“You know what your problem is? You got a real chip on your shoulder. You know why?”

I stared at the sidewalk, biting my tongue, swallowing my retorts. Trying, as I had been through the entire interaction, to be unfailingly polite. “No sir,” I said slowly. “What’s my problem?”

He didn’t answer immediately. Instead, as if in slow motion, he handed the license to me, but didn’t let go. We stood there, each holding on to one side of it, almost playing a surreal game of tug-of-war.

“It’s your last name,” he said, sneering at me.

I said nothing. I swallowed hard. I thought about how quickly he would slap cuffs on my wrists and take me to jail had I breathed a word. I gave him a curt nod, palmed the license and got into the car.

Bad Cop had decreed Ginny was the most sober of the group, and therefore should drive, though she had no idea how to drive a standard shift car, much less a 1974 Bug. After a couple of stalls, we haltingly pulled into a gas station about six blocks away and switched drivers.

I cycled wildly through emotions – terror, relief, anger, incredulity – had that just happened to me? Had a police officer, whose job it was to serve and protect, told me that because I was Latina, I was somehow deficient, that I was somehow less than?

Ginny and I were roommates, and April had planned to stay over that night. But she pulled up in our driveway a few minutes later, gravel spraying, and effectively told us to get out. She sat there, not opening her door, fuming. “They were just doing their job!” she spit.

I could hardly believe my ears. My childhood friend was defending Bad Cop’s actions. Sure, I had screwed up by making a rude gesture, but to a building. It didn’t matter to her that the officer had discriminated against me, and that stung. Ginny and I were shocked, silent, as we climbed out of the car and then the stairs to our duplex.

I curled in the fetal position later that night, grateful to be in my own bed, knowing how close I’d come to lying on a cot in a jail cell instead. At 22 years old, I’d had my heart broken a couple of times. It felt like it was breaking all over again, and this time it was different. I wasn’t sure it would heal.

I wasn’t imagining what happened. Though I wasn’t driving that night, a Stanford University study called the Open Policing Project (OPP) found that police stopped and searched black and Latino drivers with less basis of evidence than used in stopping white drivers, who are searched less often but are more likely to be found with illegal items. It was April who was carrying drugs in her glove box that night. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t search the car—it was hers, not mine. He gave her a break.

I imagine, in his mind, Bad Cop gave me a break too. He told me what my problem was, and he restrained himself from taking me too jail.

What a magnanimous gesture.

In Memoriam: Silver Snarfer Robinson the First

I met Silver Robinson when he was three years old. He belonged to my new boyfriend Sterling. I had seen pictures of Silver – it was, after all, the background on Sterling’s phone – this beautiful, square headed yellow Labrador Retriever. In the photo, he looked regal, proud, strong.

Sterling got Silver from a breeder in Oklahoma after his mom commandeered his chihuahua. When Sterling arrived to choose a dog, he saw puppies roughhousing in a pen. But there was one puppy alone in a pen by himself. When he asked, he learned that the Lone Puppy had been adopted, but then returned when his new parents couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make the payments. Thus, instead of costing $600, he was just $300, the remainder of his payments. He was also a little bit older than the other puppies. 

One Saturday afternoon, I recounted this story to Silver, ending with, “…and that’s why you’re a Discount Dog” – right as Sterling entered the room. 

“What did you just say?!” Sterling asked. “You can’t tell him he’s a Discount Dog!”

“But he is. And that’s okay. I’m simply telling him his origin story,” I said. “He needs to know where he comes from.”

In 2011, after just six months of dating, Sterling and I moved in together to his (and Silver’s) home. I brought with me a crotchedy old cat named Buttercup. Cuppie was nonplussed. Silver was thrilled. He thought she was a toy we’d brought home just for him. A few episodes of Cuppie smacking him on the nose conveyed to Silver that she was boss, she most certainly did not want to play, and she did not like having her rear end sniffed. Silver grudgingly accepted that he should give her a wide berth if he walked by.

Silver came to know our schedules and our habits: he knew that we’d probably go out on a Friday or Saturday night, come home late, and I’d wind up on the floor with him, imitating the way he was lying down showing us his belly, feet up in the air. He was smart: he knew what time he got fed, he knew what time we went for walks, he knew where his food and his treats were. He knew when I was sad, he knew when I was happy. 

In 2012, Sterling proposed to me in the living room of our rented condo in Utah, where we’d been skiing with my parents and some friends. Our friend Mohammed came to pick us up to go to the airport, and when we told him we were engaged, he said, “Silver is like, ‘I finally have a mommy!’” I’ll never forget that moment. Because though we were making our relationship “official,” I had become Silver’s mom long before.

Buttercup passed away in 2014. We adopted a cat a couple months later from the local animal shelter and named him Batman for the mask on his face. He’s a tough tuxedo cat who stalks around the house like he’s master of the jungle. After an introductory period during which neither Batman nor Silver was sure about this other new creature, Batman decided that he and Silver were going to be best friends. He’d snuggle him, bat his nose or bite his hindquarters in an invitation to play. 

Silver turned 13 in November of 2020. We knew we were on borrowed time. He was having trouble navigating the stairs, but I called him my Timex: he kept taking a licking but would keep on ticking. One of the most recent times he hurt himself meant that we put up a baby gate and kept him downstairs, even when we’d go to bed. For that week, Batman didn’t come to bed with us either. He stayed and kept watch on his big brother. Each and every night.

Batman would help him sometimes, sitting on one of the lower steps and meowing to alert us to the fact Silver was having trouble.

“We know, Batty, thank you – now get out of his way.” 

As if he understood, Batty would scamper up the stairs, and after a few stops and starts, a few confused sniffs at the steps and debating where to put his paws, Silver would follow.

In March 2020, when the pandemic shut everything down and I started working from home, I decided that the whole family needed a walk each day. The downstairs robot vacuum was scheduled to run each day at 3 p.m., which became our walk time. It seemed like a no brainer: the vacuum was loud, Silver loved getting a walk, I needed to get away from my desk for both mental and physical health. I blocked my Outlook calendar for a half hour each weekday at 3, and Silver and I would walk. His dad didn’t always come with us, depending on his work schedule. 

But Silver and I walked nearly every day without fail. If it rained, I waited until it stopped, and patiently explained to Silver that we’d go once it cleared up. If someone scheduled a meeting in Outlook during my allotted walk time, I’d move the walk, again necessitating an explanation that our schedule would be somewhat different that day. 

Not just because of our walks, Silver became my buddy. Sterling was back in the office most days during the week, so it was me and Silver most of the day. During my workouts, he thought we were playing, even though I’d been doing these workouts for the better part of a year. He’d try to pick up dumbbells in his mouth, or drop his tennis ball next to me, hoping I’d throw it back in the middle of doing lunges or squats. While he was lying in his bed, watching me pace the room during a conference call or just trying to get my steps in for the hour, I’d lean down and give him a quick scratch between the ears. I’d tell him, “You’re so cute!” or “I love your face!” even though his hearing had gotten so bad he couldn’t hear anything but the loudest noises. I read that even if a dog’s hearing wasn’t great, he could still tell if you were interacting with him, or whether you were being kind or harsh.

Because we were walking each day, and it was summertime in Houston, I got Silver some booties so he wouldn’t burn his paw pads. I should have trained him to wear them long before, because it turns out maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He would walk around as if his paws were stuck to the ground, looking as if he were drunk. They must have really confused him. So we put the booties away and figured that some day there would be another dog who might wear them.

In April of this year, Silver hurt himself again on the stairs. We were out of town, and our pet sitter called Sterling to tell him Silver couldn’t walk. Sterling and I looked at each other, and we knew: this time wasn’t like the others. We came home from our trip, picked him up from the emergency vet and my heart broke when I saw him being supported by two vet techs in a sling. I started sobbing and I told Sterling, “I’m not ready, I’m not ready to let him go.”

But it was time. We took him to our regular vet, and while Sterling went to get him a cheeseburger from Whataburger for his final meal, I lay on the floor of the exam room with him. I told him how much I loved him, how much I would miss him, and that he had been the best dog. He relaxed with a long sigh as he left us.

He will forever be the best dog.

The Furry Little Love Thief

(This blog entry first appeared December 1, 2014, after the passing of Buttercup.)

My cat Buttercup, like so many pets, had many names. Most often we’d call her Cuppie, but Cuppilicious, Licious-Face, Smoocher and Ms. Cup, among others, were in the rotation.

Cuppie was already 12 years old when she came to live with me. My mother had two cats—Cuppie and her sister Anastasia—and they didn’t get along. They also drove her nuts with their eating habits. If my mother left food out, Cuppie would eat so much she might explode. If she only fed them once or twice a day, Anastasia would meow, scratch the door and generally annoy my mother until she fed her. Poor Cuppie ballooned to 22 pounds and lived under the guest bed. My theory: she was ashamed.

I think back now to how my mom tried to give her away on Craigslist and it breaks my heart a little. Mom was frustrated—“No one wants an old, fat cat.” I said, “I’ll take her.” I had just finished law school and the bar exam, I lived alone, and I hadn’t had a pet for nearly 10 years. Mom cried when she put the cat carrier in my car for the trip from Austin to Houston.

Cuppie hid from me for the first few days, but around day three, she turned over on her back and showed me her belly. My mother was ecstatic.

Thus began my love affair with an old, fat cat named Buttercup. I didn’t expect her to be around too much longer—after all, she was already 12, and had had weight problems. I didn’t expect to get attached.

She was affectionate, climbing in my lap during my dinners in front of the TV. Insistent that I pet her while eating. One night she was so insistent, in fact, she managed to turn over the TV tray, along with everything on it. Then she looked at me with eyes wide, frightened, as if to ask, “Why would you do that?”

I met my husband Sterling a few months later. Cuppie did not like men, and Sterling was no exception. But he met her level of doggedness for affection—I would often walk in my bedroom and find Sterling halfway in the closet, trying to coax her out of her hiding spot.

When Sterling and I moved in together, Cuppie came too. Along with Sterling, Cuppie got another roommate—a huge yellow Labrador retriever named Silver. Cuppie was nonplussed. Silver was thrilled. He thought she was a toy we’d brought home just for him. A few episodes of Cuppie smacking him on the nose conveyed to Silver that she was boss, she most certainly did not want to play, and she did not like having her rear end sniffed. Silver grudgingly accepted that he should give her a wide berth if he walked by.

Cuppie lived upstairs for a few months. Sterling didn’t give up on her. Sometimes we’d go up and visit her, and she would acquiesce to his affections. She came downstairs after we strategically moved her food to the ledge next to the master bathroom’s tub. That way she could eat, be away from the dog, and happily clean herself after breakfast.

Most recently, she regularly slept next to us in the bed. Nearly every night around 9 p.m., she would saunter in, hop up and climb on me, no matter what I was doing. Typing on the computer, trying to read a book, or snuggle up next to Sterling, Cuppie would insert herself and start purring. Sometimes she would just sit and stare at me.

“She loves you,” Sterling would chuckle.

Cuppie even snuggled Sterling. Those two came a long way.

She and I were together for four years. She was an old cat, but she had such a good checkup in July I believed I had more time with her. But the day before Thanksgiving, she fell and hurt herself, resulting in some neurological condition that meant her head and her legs weren’t communicating right. Her back legs wouldn’t cooperate, and Cuppie lurched around like a drunk.

The vet explained our limited options. We decided to try a shot of cortisone to see if it would help, and if not, we knew the next day we’d have to put her down. So we brought her home, put her in a little bed, and took her all over the house with us that night. We watched a movie, had drinks on the patio, took pictures with Silver, and fed her cat treats.

That night I had to put her in the bed with us, because she couldn’t jump up on her own. I curled my body around hers like a question mark.

The next morning, I put her next to her feeder for her last meal. I told her she was a furry little love thief.

I never expected to love her so much. I never expected her absence to be so palpable. I never expected my heart to be broken.

Life Lessons from a Skier

In 2004, my mom took the family on a ski trip to Kitzbuhel, Austria. Her real estate business was booming that year and she wanted to treat all of us to a special, memorable trip. We had never been skiing before. My stepdad (“Davito”) knew how to ski, and regaled us with stories of ski trips ranging from heading up to the mountain with Scotchguarded jeans in college to more extravagant trips like the one we planned for Austria.

At the time, one of the local Sun and Ski locations in Austin had a “bunny slope” for beginners to at least learn a few basics before their first trip. It was basically a huge carpet-covered wedge with a bar across the midway point to catch you as you “skied” down. At the ages of 54 and 24 respectively, my mom and I did the pizza wedge with our skis in preparation for our great adventure.

Davito taught me a lot of things, like how to drive stick. Sure, I had those lessons at the Sun and SKi, I had some lessons from a couple of instructors here and there, but I credit Davito with most of it. In the beginning, he told me I was “just pushing snow around.” I put my mind to it and tried to mimic his easy turns, his relaxed flow while cruising blues. About eight years in, flying around the corner of Dercum’s Gulch, one of my all-time favorite runs at Araphaoe Basin, he skied up to where I was waiting for him and said, “Take it easy, your dad’s an old man.” My heart leapt and I laughed out loud. It was then I realized I was a skier.

Every time I click into my skis, I think about his lessons. There are two simple ones that translate from skiing to life.

Be Courteous, Be Aware of Your Surroundings

If you’re going to listen to music, make sure you pause it or turn it down in the lift line. It’s very important to load and unload carefully, and you need to hear the liftee’s directions if they have to communicate with you. Once you’re off the lift, you should also keep the music at a level where you can still hear what’s going on around you.

If you need to stop on the run, pull over. Think about it—if you need to stop in your car on the road or the highway, do you just hit the brakes in the middle of the roadway? Of course not. Instead, you pull over so you’re out of harm’s way for yourself and others. Same with a ski run.

In other words, be courteous and aware of your surroundings. This could apply in the grocery store, on the highway, anywhere. It just makes sense. Especially in the world of global pandemic life, just do it.

Live a Little, Treat Yourself

Davito taught me to live a little and indulge. Eat lunch on the mountain. Get the overpriced burger. Have a beer. Some of the best memories are created when you get out the map, talk with your ski buddies about which runs were awesome, where you’re headed next, laugh about how you survived that double black with powder up to your knees. And don’t forget about apres ski once the lifts are closed. That calls for wine and cheese, and perhaps a really terrible movie back at the condo. Then early to bed, so you can get up and get that corduroy.

Equipment changes, sometimes form and technique change. But the lessons of the mountain and life never do. We would all do well to remember those lessons and practice them every day. As they say, practice makes perfect—from pushing snow around to becoming a real skier.

Conspiracy Via Email

My husband was forwarded an email recently from a family member. Another family member on the same email chain told my husband that he was not using logic and facts to understand the situation in which we find ourselves as a nation. Hours after the email exchange, it kept eating at me. How many facts and how much logic are involved in this forwarded email? What if instead of clicking “forward” and “send”, he had taken five minutes to search the Internet for reliable sources to put this in perspective? So I decided to do it myself.

Notes: Email is in red, then my fact check/analysis below in black. And if you consider mainstream media to be an unreliable source, I’m unlikely to change your mind so you might as well stop reading if you ever started. You are too far gone, and don’t @ me with talk about logic and facts. You lost the argument before it even began.

The US Population is 330,000,000 and in 5 months the number of deaths was 130,000 . The number of deaths as a percent of the population is 0.03939 %, compared to the number of cancer cases diagnosed in 2019 (1,762.450) and 607,000 deaths.

This doesn’t seem far fetched because it is happening before our eyes.

These numbers are correct: At the time of this email, the United States population as 328,200,000 and the COVID-19 deaths totaled approximately 130,000, which equals approximately .04% of the population. However, then the writer contrasts COVID-19 with cancer in an attempt to show you that it’s much more serious than COVID. First of all, this isn’t an apples to apples comparison. One statistic shows the number of deaths as a percentage of the U.S. population. I think the intention of the second one is to cite the number of deaths from cancer as a percentage of cases.

So, the conclusion the author wants us to come to is basically this: cancer is far worse than COVID, and we are overreacting. I think.

However, a quick Google search brought me to a Business Insider article that compiled all the data, and found that COVID-19 was killing more Americans weekly than heart disease or cancer did on average per week in 2018. Moreover, the article is from April, and predicted that by August our death totals may be in the 60,000 range. Well, here we are: August and the total number of deaths is more than 170,000. Draw your own conclusions there.

A very well orchestrated plan, or a unimaginable set of events that just fell into place … with the United States front and center. You tell me!!

Scare people with a virus, force them to wear masks and place them in quarantine.

Count the number of dead every second of every day, in every News Headline. By the way, ninety-nine and eight-tenths of the people who get the virus, recover. About one to two tenths of one percent who get the virus, die. Most all of them have other medical problems. Did you catch that ? Less than 1/2 of a percent die.

There’s a hyper focus on death here, as if that’s the only thing that matters. I offer two thoughts: first, even if the percentage is low, does that mean you’d rather play the odds? What if your sister or husband or good friend is in that percentage?

Secondly, even if one does not die from COVID-19, they are likely still hugely affected. Someone who doesn’t have health insurance could be bankrupted by medical bills. Someone who is on a ventilator and suffers a severe case of COVID-19 is looking at PTSD and rehabilitation. What about their lost wages because they were suffering from this disease, even if they didn’t have to go to the hospital? We should be worried about people needlessly suffering when we have the power to control the situation.

Close businesses = 35,000,000+ instantly unemployed.

Remove entertainment and prohibit Recreation; Closing parks, gyms, bars, restaurants, sports.

No dating. No touching. Isolate people. Dehumanize them.

No doubt that closing businesses resulted in unemployment. It was also necessary to flatten the curve. Just look at the data from other countries that did this well. South Korea is a good example: 14,000 cases and 300 deaths, while the United States spirals out of control.

In addition, these are not permanent closures; this is supposed to be a temporary situation. It is hardly dehumanizing to ask people to make an effort to stay home during lockdown to help control a worldwide pandemic. Is this hard? Of course. But the sender of this missive doesn’t seem to grasp that this is not just about the United States. (The sender notes the “US is front and center!) Yet this is a worldwide pandemic. And we, the richest country in the world, cannot manage to  do our part, when we have the resources and the ability to do so.

Close Temples and Churches, prohibit worship. Create a vacuum and let depression, anxiety, hopelessness and desperation set in.

This is a ridiculous argument. Worship is not being prohibited because a building is closed. God doesn’t live in a temple or a church. No one is being prevented from worshipping on their own time, in their own homes. I believe at home worship is a more personal experience anyway, and a more direct connection to God. But I suspect this section is more about appearances than actual worship.

Then… ignite hatred and civil unrest, creating Civil War.

Again, this makes no sense. Who’s igniting the hatred? It’s the President of the United States. At a bare minimum, review what he’s said over the past 3.5 years. He makes derogatory comments about women, Mexicans, and Blacks, just to name a few. He calls certain places “shithole countries.” He makes up juvenile nicknames for people he doesn’t like, and tells lies about them to confuse his supporters and ensure they hate those people too. I could go on, but that’s an entirely different article.  

And these protests and civil unrest are in response to the systemic racism running rampant through the United States. Watch the video of George Floyd being pinned down. It’s cold, and it’s terrifying, and it’s time the system changed. What’s that got to do with this virus? Nothing, unless you’re a conspiracy theorist, as it appears the author of this email is.

Empty the prisons because of the virus and fill the streets with criminals.

This section is, quite frankly, utterly insane. The prisons are certainly not empty. And those who have been released are non-violent offenders and are almost finished serving their sentences. Each state has created specific criteria for those who are to be or were released. The numbers are low. Simply put, there is no deep state plot to allow criminals to run rampant through the streets.

Send in Antifa to vandalize property, as if they are freedom fighters. Undermine the law, Riot, Loot and Attack all Law Enforcement, but tell government to order a stand-down.

Blame “Antifa” and suddenly you’ve got people’s attention. A couple of actual facts: the Guardian found that they have been responsible for zero murders in 25 years of existence; a report from Reuters states that  “U.S. federal prosecutors have produced no evidence linking dozens of people arrested in anti-racism protests in Portland, Oregon, to the antifa or anarchist movements, despite President Donald Trump’s assertions they are fueling the unrest.” It’s more fearmongering and attempts to delegitimize peaceful protests, which are permitted under the Constitution.

Then… Defund Law Enforcement and abolish Police. We are all being played by those who want to destroy America! This is how you destroy a Nation from within, and in very short order. Will it work, I guess that depends on you and me.

One ludicrous claim after another. Words matter. (Just like Black lives!) Using the words “defund” and “abolish” again is intended to obfuscate and fearmonger. At a high level, the proposals involve diverting funds to other social services to allow for the proper agencies to respond to requests for help. This move would allow the police to focus on responding to the calls for which they are properly trained. In addition, some proposals call for increased mental health counseling and training for police officers.

The author of this email—and everyone who just forwards it without thinking – should be ashamed of themselves. In this age of 24/7 information, it is incumbent upon all of us to be responsible with said information. Instead of immediately typing some email addresses into the to: box and hitting send, we should be researching, thinking critically, and analyzing. It’s all too easy for us to be keyboard warriors scrolling and commenting incessantly.

The future of our democracy—currently a precarious 200 year old experiment—is at stake.

2019 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
This is not a radical thing, but I cut my hair much shorter than I can remember ever wearing it. I got so many compliments – some from men! – that I wondered if I had been wearing my hair too long for nearly my entire life.

Bought a car from another state sight unseen and drove it home. See #11 and #13.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make resolutions, but Sterling did tell me I had to get our ski clothing company off the ground or he was giving up. I found a manufacturer and ski bunni prototypes are in the works as of this writing.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No, but I know a lot of pregnant women, so I think the correct answer is “not yet.”

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thank goodness.

5. What countries did you visit?

As usual, no other countries, but lots of USA travel (#13).

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?

I would like to have an in-house attorney position at a company that, to put it simply, makes cool stuff. I would kill to work for Aston Martin, or Porsche, or Sephora or Whole Foods. Something like that.

7. What dates from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory?

December 18. Pelosi’s birthday gift to me was impeachment of the President.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Professionally, I did a lot of networking which is definitely not my forte. I completed a pro bono divorce case and took on a new custody case. I hadn’t done pro bono work for a while, and it felt good to get back and give back. And I did some volunteer work helping people with their citizenship applications. At my current job, I’ve managed to stay the course in some uncertain times, rather than jumping ship. I’m proud that I believed in my own ability to make the right decisions for myself. Hopefully, this will pay dividends in the new year.

Personally, I got ski bunni off the ground (still flying low, but optimistic) (#2), and really stuck to my fitness goals. Last year my answer to #1 was that I started taking classes in the morning at the gym, and in 2019, I really leaned into that – literally and figuratively. I take off for a three week-long ski trip in two days, and I’m eager to see if my legs are even stronger than usual.

9. What was your biggest failure?

This is the same answer as 2017 and 2018: Not being kind enough to myself. I kept a pretty accurate tally of every time I fell short, drank too much, ate the wrong thing, said something stupid to my husband, my boss or my friends.

Being mature about college football.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, I was lucky to be very healthy this year!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Not me, necessarily. But my husband bought a Porsche 911 GT3. Community property state, yadda yadda – it’s half mine, but I still consider it his money. However, coolest wife award to me because I gave him the green light to make the purchase. And we picked it up in Miami and drove it home over one wild weekend in March (see #13).

12. Where did most of your money go?

Entertainment in the form of cars, booze, food, car parts, clothes, shoes, travel. Not necessarily in that order.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Vacations! We continued our grand tradition of traveling everywhere Southwest Airlines will take us:

January: Sterling’s first visit to Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California. The moment we skied down the mountain to get our first clear glimpse of the lake in all its glory, when he said, “HOLD ON” because he needed to stop and gape at it: priceless.

February: With a three-week sabbatical from work coming up in 2020, I wanted to research all the resorts to be sure I chose the correct place. We spent our six-year wedding anniversary in Beaver Creek, where the powder was deep, the chocolate chip cookies were delicious, and we did our first ski shot ever!

March: Picked up Sterling’s new car (see #2 and #11)! We flew into Miami on a Friday night, picked it up Saturday morning, and made it as far as Tallahassee Saturday night. My brother in law went to college there, and gave us tips on where to hang out. Of course we had to go to the bar where he met my stepsister. Outside, we were flattered to show our IDs, and happy to pay the low cover charge of $5 for me and $10 for Sterling (of course ladies are cheaper!). However, we were confused when they handed us gigantic plastic cups. It turns out the “cover” was all you could drink out of said cups. An upcharge from well liquor was just $6 each. As a result, Sterling wants to retire in Tallahassee.

April: Back home to Arapahoe Basin for spring skiing fun! And we got a visit from Gigi, Madame V and Joe. We visited the Funeral Museum (don’t ask) and played a board game very incorrectly but the way we enjoyed it most.

May: We spent Memorial Day in Austin visiting my family, Gigi and Madame V. Spent too much money at the Fairmont, but it felt like Vegas.

June: Summer skiing weekend at Arapahoe Basin with our friend Ronne. Laughing so hard our stomachs hurt.

July: Return to Chicago where we stayed in the Rock n’ Roll apartment, visited museums (Sue the T-Rex!), drank champagne, bought Nikes and rode the train. Oh yeah, and laughed so hard our stomachs hurt again—this time with Joe.

August: Great Literature Book Club with Gigi and Madame V. Wondering about dystopia, almost getting drowned in the hotel pool, strawberry rhubarb pie for breakfast. A good time was had by all.

September: Spent the holiday weekend in LA, rode bikes, watched football, walked the city. We had brunch with an awesome colleague and her daughter. It was really great to see her.

October: I did a boudoir photo shoot in New Orleans with some badass ladies. Photography, model coaching and hair and makeup were on point. Now I anxiously await the photos. And maybe do another next year.

November: VEGAAAAAAAASSSS! Plus Thanksgiving with the ‘rents in Austin. I can sum November up with: champagne.

December: We went to Dallas for a quick weekend trip to watch OU play Baylor in the Big 12 Championship. A win for my hubby made me happy. Good times with Joe and Scotty.\r\n\r\n

Other things that were not related to vacations:

Aston Martin coming out with the manual version of the new body style. Now I have to save my pennies.

Getting the 4Runner supercharged.

Ski Bunni meetings/production.

14. What song will always remind you of 2019?

I have a few:
“Must’ve Never Met You” Luke Combs
“Enchanted” Taylor Swift
“You Need to Calm Down” Taylor Swift
“Stompa” Serena Ryder
“99” Barns Courtney

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

happier or sadder? Happier.

thinner or fatter? About the same.

richer or poorer? Richer.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I feel like a broken record, but the answer to this one is always the same: I wish I were kinder to myself. I wish I didn’t grade myself so harshly on whether I was doing things the “right way”.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Same as above and same answer as always: beat myself up, stress out.

18. How did you spend Christmas/Hanukkah/Major Holiday of your choice?

We spent Christmas on our own in Houston, since we are planning a long trip with my parents in January.

Christmas Eve: I went to a class at the gym and then we went up to the Woodlands for lunch with Sterling’s parents, aunt and uncle. We spent the rest of the afternoon organizing Sterling’s new office, watching movies and drinking wine

Christmas Day: I made chocolate chip pancakes, Sterling replaced the brakes on the Aston, and we went bike riding in search of open bars and restaurants.

I love the endless holidaze.

19. What were your favorite TV programs?

I watched Big Little Lies Season 2. Another rare one in that I feel the TV series is better than the book. I’m not proud of this, but Temptation Island and Are You The One? were so good. Kind of like cheesy books, they are not cinematic masterpieces, but they are fascinating. Sterling and I love to watch how people handle their relationships. AYTO did a non-binary season this year, and we think it’s the best yet. Hoping for more! (Still doing my One Tree Hill rewatch. LOVING IT.)

20. What were your favorite books you read this year?

I only gave one book five stars on Goodreads this year: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee. It is not great literature (y’all know that’s nothing new), but the story completely captivated me. I couldn’t stop thinking about the book for days after I finished it.

21. What was your favorite music you heard this year?

Luke Combs is pretty awesome, and he’s not necessarily my favorite genre, but I really like his voice and his lyrics. Billie Eilish, Bishop Briggs, OneRepublic are some others I was digging this year.

22. What were your favorite films you saw this year?

I *think* I saw A Star is Born this year, even though it came out in 2018. I positively sobbed. Also, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and The Art of Racing in the Rain. The latter is one of the few movies I can remember that I think is better than the book.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 42 this year. Perhaps because I’m exactly a week before Christmas, I’ve never taken the day off, especially if my birthday falls into the middle of the week. But this year I decided to take the day off and have brunch with my husband. I went to a gym class at 9:30, which felt so indulgent compared to my usual 6:30 classes. Then we went to Snooze for brunch and had another drink at the new Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company. The weather was sunny, crisp and cool.

It was perfect.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If people could stick to their commitments. I find more and more that people can’t plan, or if they do, they change the plan when something better comes along.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?

My fashion concept hasn’t changed too much over the past couple of years, but the one thing I am trying to do overall is be more sustainable. To that end, I’ve been trying to: buy less clothing/shoes, keep them longer, buy high quality, and as a replacement for something instead of an addition.

26. What kept you sane?

My husband. My friends. Prosecco.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.

Stay the course. Don’t jump ship. Trust the process. Most importantly, trust yourself.

2016 Year in Review

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. All the more reason 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.)

2017 Year in Review

 1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before? Mountain biking. I’m learning how to maneuver the bike on the trails. It’s challenging and fun. Each time I successfully navigate an incline or jump the bike over a root, I count it as a tiny but real victory.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?I always struggle with this question, because I don’t really make resolutions, but I do come up with goals. I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first time I’ve looked them in months. Number 11 was on there, but otherwise I missed the mark a bit. I will re-set and re-focus in 2018.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope. But I have two really good friends who are due in early 2018 – Alison and MaryAnn.

4. Did anyone close to you die? 
Nope. (Thank goodness.)

5. What countries did you visit? I went to Canada for our family ski trip to Whistler in January.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017? Okay, last year’s answer to this one came true, so I’m rolling the dice and trying again: now that I have Princess Eleanor, I need a badass weather vehicle (Hurricane Harvey, I’m looking at you). I’m a big stalker of high-priced items before I’m willing to pull the trigger, and I’ve been eyeing a 4Runner for a while now. In 2018, I am GETTING ONE.

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory? January 20 (Inauguration Day), December 16-18 (my birthday weekend

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I don’t think there was one big achievement, but there were so many small but groovy things that made me proud. I got an enormous raise in April, but that was largely due to my hustling hard in 2016. (Still, shout out to me!)

I got out of my comfort zone a little bit in 2017: mountain biking, hitting up DanceHouse Fitness nearly every Saturday or Sunday morning and a couple of weeknights starting in late May, and I took a writing class in June and July, which was another Saturday morning commitment. I wrote a story per class assignment/instruction and I received really great feedback, even from the class instructor.

I worked out (read: mountain biking, DanceHouse and super regular booooring gym visits) and owned it, like a boss. I even earned (?) the nickname Boss Lady from one of my favorite people at the gym.

I maintained my Happy Girl Instagram, posting each day something (or things) that made me happy. With 328 posts, I am about a month short of one year strong.

I had a falling out and difficult time with my brother. Life hasn’t been easy for either of us, but standing my ground and knowing I handled the situation well was a good lesson. Talking to my therapist about this (hi Kathaleen!) and hearing her words of wisdom and comfort was like wrapping myself in a warm blanket of love and reassurance. She told me that I deserve my good life, and I’ve worked hard for it. They were words I didn’t realize I needed so badly to hear.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not being kind enough to myself. Instead of celebrating all those things I wrote in the answer to #8, I kept a pretty accurate tally of every time I fell short, drank too much, ate the wrong thing, said something stupid to my husband, my boss or my friends.

Being mature about college football.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No, aside from a couple of mild colds, I have been very healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My car, without a doubt. She is gorgeous, sounds amazing and is an absolute joy to drive.

12. Where did most of your money go? Same place as last year – going out to eat, drink and on vacations during which we ate, drank, skied, boarded, drove and generally had a blast. No regrets.

13. What did you get really excited about? EVERYTHING.Our vacations. We went to all the places. Had all the fun. Purchasing my car. The Astros win!

In January, we went to Whistler. We took the train from Seattle to Vancouver and it was a wonderful experience. The route winds along the coast, and from the window, we could see people and dogs walking and running along the water. They would look up and wave to us.

In February, we went to A-Basin (per usual MO) and skied several days for our anniversary celebration. The night before we left, we did our anniversary tradition of donning our wedding finery and going out to dinner. We went to Caracol for dinner, which was outstanding, and it was at that dinner that Sterling successfully talked me into buying Princess Eleanor Rose.

In April, we returned to A-Basin for our spring trip. Heather and Erik came to hang out with us one afternoon, and brought their new puppy. Neither of them were skiing or boarding, but Sterling and I would take laps in between hanging out with them. On one of our laps, we danced together, carving turns and weaving a path together down the mountain. It was glorious. We got to the bottom, I popped my skis off and jumped on his back. We rolled around in the snow together, laughing until our sides ached. It was the perfect storm of my favorite thing (skiing) and my favorite person (my husband) melded together. What a happy day.

My dear friends Gigi and Madame V came to visit for a weekend in April as well. We drank too much and laughed a lot. I feel so lucky to have those strong, fabulous women in my life and by my side.

Our annual Halloween tradition with Heather and Erik turned five this year. We pulled off a 24-hour vacation, flying into Denver Saturday afternoon, and turning around to leave after a delightful Sunday brunch. We did a Guardians of the Galaxy costume, and I must say we rocked the house. As usual.

Sterling and I went on the Corsa Rally in November, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I be nervous the whole time with all the speed? Would we make friends? We flew into Vegas, rented a Range Rover Sport, and drove to a new place each day: from Vegas to Los Angeles, from L.A. to Palm Springs, from Palm Springs back to Vegas. The camera guys’ car broke down, and we followed them to the shop to drop it off, and then they rode with us. It’s funny how strangers can become great friends in the matter of hours. I was actually surprised at how much fun I had, and had the worst vacation hangover in history after we came home.

In December, we returned to Vegas for the best birthday celebration …ever! (See #23)

14. What song will always remind you of 2017? Jason Aldean, “A Little More Summertime” – this song came out in 2016, but we listened to it practically on repeat all year. It’s the saddest but it is SO GOOD. And I like to turn the words around, because I need more wintertime. SNOW. SKI.

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

– happier or sadder? Happier

– thinner or fatter? Refuse to answer

– richer or poorer? Richer

16. What do you wish you’d done more of? Vacation, have fun, party without worrying about the next day.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of? Stress out and second guess myself. (I think this is the same answer as 2016.)

18. How did you spend Christmas/Hanukkah/Major Holiday of your choice? Sterling and I went to Austin to see my parents. My stepsister and her family joined us from Georgia. It was a four-day episode of gluttony and hilarity. Saturday afternoon we ate barbecue (yours truly had a salad with fake chicken, some creamed corn and potato salad), Sunday OMG Torchy’s, Christmas morning was all about the buttermilk pancakes and mimosas. My brother in law brought me a Trump voodoo doll from NOLA, and we put that guy in many harrowing experiences over the weekend: in the fireplace, the burner on the stove, under a truck tire and in the manger. We played a card game called Dumbass on Christmas night. I’m not sure any of us know exactly how to play it correctly, but isn’t that the point?

I’m paying for all the food and drink indulgence, but oh my! – it was worth it.

19. What were your favorite TV programs? Throwback: I’m re-watching Felicity. Designated Survivor, Younger, This is Us.

20. What were your favorite books you read this year? The books I gave five stars on Goodreads are: The Girl on the Train, First Comes Love (this is another throwback – I had already read this and own it (in fact it’s autographed!), but I wanted to read it again after Gigi reminded me how good it was), and Small Great Things. Lordy, if you read one book, read this one!

21. What was your favorite music you heard this year? Bastille, Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, Sir Sly, Portugal the Man

22. What were your favorite films you saw this year? I’m so bad at seeing movies. Wonder Woman, Star Wars, Office Christmas Party. (Basically I saw five movies and most of them were good.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I hit the big 4-0 this year, and I wanted to do it big. (Thirty SUCKED, and I’m big on dates/milestones.) My birthday fell on a Monday, so Saturday morning, Sterling and I took a 7 a.m. flight to Vegas. We met our friends William, Raymond and Beth there, and did the LAVO Party Brunch in the Palazzo. It was amazing – like nothing I’d ever seen. DJ music, wait staff dressed in Star Wars costumes (theme of the day), people dancing on tables, gigantic bowls of booze. It was exactly what I wanted for my birthday.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If Donald Trump were no longer president. If Republican members of Congress would hold him and his administration accountable. If any of those members of Congress would listen to their constituents instead of their donors. It’s a simple concept to me: just do the right thing.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
I’m going with the same answer as 2016: Classy and hip for work. Refusing to act my age, sexy and fierce when going out.

26. What kept you sane? Same as last year for the most part – my husband. My partner, friend, confidant, therapist and love.

Also, I instituted a rule that we don’t talk about politics (for me, that means don’t open Twitter because that’s my most “newsy” and political social media) after 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. And all weekend. I …just can’t with this ridiculousness.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017. Similar to last year, I was struck by how we, as a nation, haven’t come as far as I had previously thought. I finished reading Small Great Things and resolved to do what author Jodi Picoult advised: call out your friends, colleagues, family, when they say something racist. I promise you, it’s awkward and you will get a sputtering, defensive pushback, but it’s more important than you realize. Just point out how that statement isn’t funny, instead of laughing along nervously and just going with it. I realized this what I used to do, and I resolve not to do it anymore.

Politically, it was a horrible fucking nightmare.

Personally, it was a pretty damn good year.

2018 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

This sounds so lame, but 2018 was the first year that I got up early, took an exercise class, showered and got ready for work at the gym. Seriously, I had to talk myself off a ledge the night before: “If you don’t like it, Christianne, YOU NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN. No one will be staring at you or thinking you’re weird. They will be focused on themselves. GET YOUR HEAD RIGHT.”

It turns out, I loved it and felt energized all day. Don’t get me wrong – this is not going to become a 7-day-a-week thing. I heart sleep.

But it could be a once-a-week thing.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I rarely make resolutions. Instead I set goals. (Honestly, I’m not sure how these are different.) But in 2018 my husband Sterling and I made vision boards and hung them in our bedroom. Among other things, I had a 4Runner, a corner office and a dollar figure on my salary. THEY HAPPENED.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My friend Alison had her daughter in March, and I got to meet her in November. She’s a little doll!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, but our beloved cat Batman almost did. Our dog Silver hurt his leg somehow and we were initially worried that he had a degenerative knee issue. Corner Vet prescribed some medicine for the dog but failed to mention that it’s highly toxic in large doses. Because cats are so much smaller than dogs, it’s much worse for them. Batman jumped on the counter when I was feeding Silver and ate half of a dose. My back was turned for less than a minute. I immediately swatted the medicine from his mouth, but the damage was done. Two days later, he was near kidney failure and in kitty ICU. I will never forget standing outside of a Starbucks where I had settled in to wait and work on my laptop after dropping him off, the vet’s voice on the phone, telling me how high the kidney values were. It was bad. It was catastrophic.

“Are you telling me that my cat might not live?” I managed to sob. I could tell the answer was probably yes, but he didn’t want to say it.

I got in the 4Runner and called my husband, describing in more sobbing, hitching breaths what had happened. The worst part was that I had messed up by leaving the medicine on the counter. “I killed him,” I wailed. He told me it wasn’t my fault, that it was just a mistake, that Batman would be okay. But my heart was absolutely breaking.

Batman spent four days in ICU. We didn’t ask what it would cost to save him. We just asked the vets to do everything in their power to try.

He made it. In fact, his last diagnosis had him almost back to normal, so much that I heard incredulity in the vet’s voice.

5. What countries did you visit?

I didn’t leave the USA this year, but I went basically everywhere else!

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

My life and my heart are full! I am so grateful and lucky that I have everything I want and need, but if I have to choose something, I want more quality friends like Gigi and Madame V. I am working on this (see below!) and making progress, so I have high hopes for 2019.

7. What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory?

November 6: the Blue Wave that ushered in a historical House of Representatives victory. And even though Beto lost, he inspired so many. I think he’s going places. Maybe even the White House.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Professionally: I got a promotion, a raise and a new corner office (hello vision board!) and hired my first employee. I manage a team of just one, but I’m so grateful that she not only loves her job and loves working for me, but tells me these things. Sterling always said I would be a great manager, and I hope every day I’m proving him right.

Personally, I made big strides in my relationship with my brother Jerry. Last year, same question, here was a part of my answer:

I had a falling out and difficult time with my brother. Life hasn’t been easy for either of us, but standing my ground and knowing I handled the situation well was a good lesson. Talking to my therapist about this (hi Kathaleen!) and hearing her words of wisdom and comfort was like wrapping myself in a warm blanket of love and reassurance. She told me that I deserve my good life, and I’ve worked hard for it. They were words I didn’t realize I needed so badly to hear.

Jerry and I didn’t talk much throughout 2018. He did his thing, and I did mine. In October, I was visiting my parents when my mom told me he was moving to Chicago. Because he has a dog, he would be driving instead of flying. Offhandedly, I said, “Road tripping isn’t really his thing; it’s more mine. I wonder if he wants help driving.” She beamed at me: “He would love that.” I rolled my eyes, thinking, “He most certainly would not.”

Regardless, I texted him and offered to help. He wrote back so quickly I saw the tiny dots that indicate someone is typing an immediate response. “That would be awesome and it’s so kind of you to offer.”

A month later, we had made the arrangements and the trip was upon us: 16 hours from Houston, starting Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. The goal was to reach Chicago by dinner Saturday night, and then I would fly home Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. I had scheduled a ton of trips (see below) so I couldn’t take any extra days off work.

Jerry pulled up in a rented Ford Expedition with all his earthly possessions, including the dog. In the driveway, he said to my husband, “Thanks for letting me borrow her.”

Friday night we stayed in a Motel 6 in Marshall Texas. It was so fancy that I was surprised there was hot water in my room. I also found leftover Subway sandwiches in the refrigerator (mini bar?). Saturday morning at 6 a.m., we were back on the road trading 3-hour shifts of driving.

We rolled triumphantly into Chicago proper at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, after 17 hours of music, Google maps, Starbucks, jokes, FaceTime with our parents, Spotify, podcasts, talks about why Chicago, our jobs, dating, trips down memory lane, facts about Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois’s state flowers, insects, and more.

Sunday afternoon we brunched and parted ways after sending a selfie and a few texts to my mother, who said we made her “heart sing.” Days later, Jerry told me that the trip was almost as cathartic as the move itself, my friends and my husband told me I was one of the strongest people I knew, and I realized they were right.

9. What was your biggest failure?

This is the same answer as 2017: Not being kind enough to myself. I kept a pretty accurate tally of every time I fell short, drank too much, ate the wrong thing, said something stupid to my husband, my boss or my friends.

Being mature about college football.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I took a spill in A-Bay on our spring trip and hyperextended my knee. I heard the pop, felt some pain as I navigated the rest of the double black run (!) and thought I had torn my ACL. I ignored it, hoped for the best, but Sterling convinced me I needed to see a doctor. Reluctantly, terrified of bad news, I went in August. The doctor examined me, made a face and said, “I think it’s your ACL, but let’s do an MRI before we jump to conclusions.” I was kicking myself for the second time in 2018 – first I had screwed up with the cat, and now I had potentially wrecked my knee without time to fix it before ski season began in December.

The MRI showed a partial tear of the ACL, and my heart dropped in my chest. I asked a bazillion questions and received answers I didn’t like.

“Well of course you’ll need to brace your knee when you ski.”

“For how long?”

“Well, forever.”

Heartbroken? Um, yeah.

My hubby came through yet again with a recommendation from a friend in med school for a second opinion. The day of my appointment, I thought that I’d go in with a positive attitude, but be realistic. There was no way this would be a completely different diagnosis. Perhaps less severe than the reconstructive surgery with a 6-month recovery time the first doctor said I required, but still something had to be wrong. Right?

I practically held my breath as the doctor examined me, pushing my leg this way and that. He looked at my MRI. Finally, he looked at me. “I push and pull on torn ACLs all day long. That’s not what’s wrong with you. In fact, I’d tell you to ski tomorrow.”

I returned his gaze and said, “Would it be really awkward if I hugged you right now?”

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My 4Runner! He is so badass. I needed a weather vehicle for Princess Eleanor Rose, and my husband came in clutch with the research, negotiation for a fair price, and most importantly, all the mods to make FinnRunner look like a badass.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Same place as last year and the year before that: going out to eat, drink and on vacations during which we ate, drank, skied, boarded, drove and generally had a blast. No regrets, three years running.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Our vacations. We scored the companion pass on Southwest, so we went EVERYWHERE.

January: ski trip to Breckenridge with my parents, aunt, cousin and friends. We met up with a customer of Sterling’s and dragged him back to the house for dinner. Heather and Erik came to the house one night and we had cake for Sterling’s birthday. Joe joined us and crash landed into my dad on the slopes, but they were both okay and we laughed about it later.

February: annual anniversary ski trip to A-Bay, which is always like coming home. In late February, we went on the Race Armada rally to Golden Nugget, each driving our own car! This was very super awesome for the control freak in both of us, but not so awesome for conversation on the trip.

March: our final spring ski trip of the season, where Sterling’s colleague joined us and egged us on into trying a double black diamond. That turned into #10 – see above. Sterling intelligently said no. Despite the snafu, we had a blast. That’s what happens when you’re home.

May: we did a quick trip into Denver for Heather’s 40th surprise birthday party. I reconnected with her parents, whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years. Her ailing father even remembered our secret code word and made sure to say it to me. Memorial Day weekend we went to Scottsdale, mountain biked in the desert and generally partied like college kids.

June: I tagged along on Sterling’s work trip down to a resort in Galveston. We rode bikes and had too many cocktails in the pool.

2018 was strangely the year of Chicago – after never visiting there before, I went on a business trip there in June, returned in July and helped my brother move there in November. July’s trip involved meeting our friend Joe there and spending three glorious days eating, drinking and walking the city. Blue skies, sun, comedy shows, rooftop views, and much laughter.

August: we met up with Joe, Madame V and Gigi for a quick weekend. Cue the food, drinks, laughter and fun.

For Labor Day weekend in September, Sterling and I took a tour of California, starting with San Francisco on Friday night. After dinner and drinks with friends, we headed south on Saturday morning to Los Angeles. We stayed at the Dream Hotel for a night, then got on the road Sunday morning for San Diego. Sunday evening we had a delightful dinner with our friend Denise, and returned home Monday.

In October, we met Joe again in Dallas for the Texas-OU matchup and a win for the Longhorns! Then my crazy schedule really kicked in. Two weeks later, we took Princess Eleanor Rose on her second car rally to the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles. My friend Heather came to visit and we road-tripped to Austin for two days. A week later, we were en route to Vegas (my third home, after A Bay) to rally from there to LA, Monterrey and back. After arriving home on Tuesday, it was off to Chicago three days later. The following Saturday, I spent 24 hours with my dear friend Ali, her doll baby and baby daddy. I treasure our memories of takeout, Hallmark movies and watching the Longhorns on my iPad.

For Thanksgiving, we road tripped back to Austin for dinner with my parents. My sweet mother made me strawberry rhubarb pie. SHE IS THE BEST.

Outside of all that vacation, the other standout for excitement is I made new friendships. I found some special ladies who are strong, progressive, independent, and love sharing a mimosa and/or an enchilada with me.

14. What song will always remind you of 2018?

This just came out, so It’s a bit late, but the lyrics totally describe car rallies: “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” by Panic! At The Disco.

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

– happier or sadder? I think I’m a little sadder. Trump’s presidency is wearing on me.

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

– richer or poorer? Richer

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. I love it. I think I’m good at it, but I just have trouble making time to do it. I had a plan at one point to go write on Saturday mornings after my workout class, but it happened a grand total of twice until life got in the way.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Beat myself up for not being perfect or “good.” This is obviously a recurring theme

18. How did you spend Christmas/Hanukkah/Major Holiday of your choice?

On Christmas Day, we flew to Denver and went up to A Bay for three days. I call this a bonus trip since we didn’t plan it, and one of the main goals was to test my knee. It passed with flying colors.

19. What were your favorite TV programs?

Queer Eye, Very Cavalleri, This is Us, Are you the One?, 911, Suits, Younger, Botched, (rewatching One Tree Hill).

20. What were your favorite books you read this year?

The books I gave five stars on Goodreads are: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley, and Sacred by Dennis Lehane.

21. What was your favorite music you heard this year?

I am totally digging Zayde Wolf and Panic! At The Disco right now. I went to a Blue October show in November and was absolutely enthralled. Sterling and I ask Siri to play Imagine Dragons radio nearly every day.

22. What were your favorite films you saw this year?

I hardly ever watch movies! I’m usually reading or watching TV when I have free time at home, on a plane or at the gym. I saw Crazy Rich Asians, Sorry To Bother You, I, Tonya, RBG and A Simple Favor. They were all good! (A Simple Favor was somehow better than the book! I think big credit is due to the screenplay writer as well as Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively for their amazing acting.)

23, What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My husband and I celebrated my 41st the Saturday prior to my Tuesday birthday per my request. Our day began at Tenenbaum Jewelers, where I brought in a ring my grandmother left me when she died. I haven’t ever worn it, and it’s been 30 years. So now it’s being coated with a silver finish and made into a pendant. From there, we went to St. Bernard’s, where we drank free champagne and beer, and purchased new ski trip items. After St. Bernard’s, we wandered around River Oaks District, window shopping and sipping. We finished the night with a wonderful dinner with our friends Alex and Mark, including a delectable risotto.

There was a lot of prosecco.

I don’t regret a moment.

On Tuesday, I came home to flowers, champagne and a new lounge hoodie. My husband is always surprising me in the most wonderful ways.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

My husband struggled a bit with being fulfilled in his job, with his colleagues and friends, mainly due to the Trump presidency. His happiness is mine, and it’s important. I hope this gets better in 2019.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

I’m going with the same answer as 2017: Classy and hip for work. Refusing to act my age, sexy and fierce when going out.

26. What kept you sane?

I apologize for the boring answer. As always: my husband. My partner, friend, confidant, therapist and love.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

Hard work plus patience pays off. I passed the 6-year milestone at my job in September. It’s the longest time I’ve ever worked anywhere in my entire life, whether marketing or law. All the good things that happened this year — my promotion, raise, new boss — made me feel like perhaps I’d found my home.

I continue to be most deeply grateful for my family. I chose not to have human children, but that doesn’t lessen or cheapen how much I love my family. My husband, my parents, my brother, my furkids, and my friends are my life. And that is a pretty damn good one.