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.

Reality Check

Here’s what I’m supposed to be.

I shouldn’t have a line or a blemish on my face: a perfect FaceTune in real life. A full set of long, curled lashes. The perfect pout and long, shiny hair that never frizzes. My measurements should 36-24-36; not a bit of cellulite.

I’m supposed to be a runner, a weightlifter, a downhill champion skier, the girl who gets up a 5 a.m. to go to boot camp. I should eat kale, and quinoa, grilled fish and chicken.

Cultured. I would enjoy visits to a museum or an art gallery. Maybe learn a new language. I could take up the guitar.

I should be volunteering at the food bank or taking pro bono cases for those who can’t afford it. Maybe work at the community garden. I would never forget the reusable bags for the grocery store. And definitely bike to work three times a week.

I should work 60 hours a week, and if I have downtime, I should be studying articles about the law, my industry, management. I should create new projects and initiatives. I should work weekends. My job should be my passion.

If I were perfect, my husband and I would always hold hands, make love spontaneously and often. I wouldn’t ever go makeup free in yoga pants and sit on the couch. If I were perfect, I would have great friends, and a best friend. We would have these elaborate parties and get togethers and have great talks over coffee.

Here’s who I am.

I have cellulite on my thighs. I have lines on my face. My hair frizzes when the humidity hits 40%. But my husband says I’m gorgeous, sometimes in the morning when I’ve just woken up and I have not a stitch on, nor any makeup on my face. I have my dad’s long straight lashes, and my mom’s freckles. My grandmother’s dark brown eyes, almost black. Those lines on my face: some are frown lines, but perhaps far more are laugh lines.

I hate running. Lifting weights bores me. But I work out nearly every day. Sometimes, I get up at 5:45 am to go to a gym class that challenges me. (It usually involves weights.) If I don’t get up early, I go to the gym after work. I am one hell of a downhill skier. I am a pretty decent mountain biker. Each day at work when my Fitbit reminds me to get up, I walk the floor. Sometimes, I take the stairs.

I am flawed. I drink too much. I don’t want to learn French. I just want to sit on the couch and watch old episodes of Felicity. I tried the guitar once. But I meal prep on the weekends. I have a budget. I have a weekend checklist of productivity. My idea of a fabulous Sunday afternoon involves mimosas, and my husband, and some of our friends, and laughter, and my favorite wedges, and a hip new restaurant, or the one across the highway from our house where everyone knows us and we sit at the bar.

Every once in a while, I do take a pro bono case. Every couple of years, I take a family law case and help women free themselves from a marriage that stopped working long ago. Every once in a while, I volunteer to help green card holders apply for citizenship.

I don’t work 60 hours a week. When I have downtime at work, I pick up my phone and scroll through social media, or read an article in the Washington Post. I wasn’t in the top 10% of my class in law school. Sometimes, though, I read the bar journal magazine. Almost always, I do good work. Always, I am a good employee, a good colleague, a good manager.

My husband and I can go a whole day without touching except a quick peck on the lips to say hello or goodbye. But that’s not every day. We love each other with passion. We have fun together. We talk, we laugh, we plan, we dream. We are a true team, a partnership. We take care of each other. Perhaps most importantly, we are friends.

I invited a bunch of people to my fortieth birthday party in Vegas. Three people came. And sometimes people who I thought were my friends…aren’t. But my mom is my dear friend, and she is a wonderful person who is slow to judge and quick to compliment. I could not love that woman more. And I am still friends with a girl who lived across the street when we were just babies. Another one, from first grade – has a baby and lives in New Orleans and doesn’t drink anymore – but when we’re in the same room it’s like no time has passed at all, and we let each other be…each other. I found some wonderful ladies in a car group. I found an unexpected friend at a workout class. I have lovely friends who stood up at my wedding and who I’m confident will be by my side forever. And with all of these friends: we get together, and we laugh. Over booze, or coffee.

Sometimes, I eat the freaking cupcake.

Sometimes, I give myself a break.

Love, Part 1

03.14.2017

I met my first husband in line for the bathroom at a St. Patrick’s Day themed frat party twenty five years ago this month.  With such an auspicious beginning, who would have guessed that it wouldn’t last?  I nearly didn’t meet him at all, as I was about to leave the party because some drunk frat boy had just smacked me on the butt.  I realized my cup was empty when I went to throw my green beer on him.  I ended up shaking my cup at him and yelling, “Not nice!”  while he laughed and shrugged like, “Whoops, my bad!”  It was time to go. 

I didn’t want to ride the subway with a bladder full of green beer, so I got in the long bathroom line and the guy in front of me turned around, smiled and said hi. I was going to smile vacantly and look through him, but I noticed that he looked kind of like Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything, which is a stupid reason to fall for someone, but I was 20 and it was a good time to fall.  I opened my mouth and something super sexy came out, “I really have to pee, so don’t stink up the bathroom or use up all the toilet paper.”  I was a sweet talking devil.  How could he resist?  He laughed and was waiting for me when I came out, so we sat on a couch and started talking.  I found out that he was not one of the frat boys, but was home on spring break from his college, which was four hours away.  Frankly, this made him even more attractive to me, as I tended to be far more enthusiastic about romances that seemed like they would be excitingly short-lived.  It soon became clear to the fratties that Lloyd (not his real name, but let’s just go with it) was not one of them, and they not-so subtly asked him to leave.  He and I, along with my sweet roommate, who had been waiting while I chatted up Mr. Say Anything, got in a cab headed back to our dorm.  My roommate was heading to bed and Lloyd asked me if I wanted to get coffee.  I always say yes to coffee. 

It was a magical night, lightly snowing and cold with a big bright moon giving off a glow that gave the trees and sidewalks a sparkly luminescence.  I am not made of stone.  How was I not going to fall in love with him?  We walked to Harvard Square together and sat at the counter of a diner called The Tasty and had coffee and talked more.  Elton John’s Rocket Man started playing and he said his dad used to call him the Rocket Man and made him a t-shirt with the nickname emblazoned on it that he wore all the time when he was a little boy.  After our coffee we went into the Store 24 and bought gummy worms and other candy that you can eat at 2 AM when you are 20, yet still avoid heartburn and belly fat.  I saw a card that had a picture of a chubby guy sitting at a diner counter and inside it said, “missing you” and I told him he should buy it and send it to me and he bought it.  Then we walked back to my dorm and sat in the lounge watching MTV and eating gummy worms and milk duds, and we talked on and on all night.  When it was light out, we wrote our phone numbers on the back of a jello box (I seriously had eaten jello for dinner that night.  How was I even alive with that kind of diet?) and then I walked him out.  At the door he leaned in and kissed me and I remember it being this monumental thing, where I thought, “Whoa….something big is happening.”  Maybe it was lack of sleep and too much sugar, but that was the first kiss I’d ever had where I saw fireworks.

We spent nearly every day and night of the next week together and then he had to go back to school.  I was sad that he was leaving, but it didn’t seem sensible to try a long distance relationship.  The morning he left, we said that maybe we’d get together next time he was in town and kissed goodbye.  I was a little relieved that it was over, because the week with him had been way more intense than anything I’d ever experienced romance-wise and I felt like I needed to catch my breath.  I was watching tv with my friends that night, when the phone rang and it was Lloyd, drinking at a bar near his school.  He said, “I was wrong, I think we should give a long distance thing a try.  I don’t want to wait and see.” I was surprised, but thrilled.  I threw caution to the wind and said yes.

Everything about love was so new to me.  I’d had a couple of boyfriends before, but it had never been like this.  It all seemed like magic.  He wrote me letters from school and would draw me funny cartoons and write silly poems.  He took a train and a bus and traveled a ridiculous amount of hours just to come see me every couple of weeks.  We were crazy about each other and never seemed to run out of things to talk about.  We came up with silly ideas and stories and laughed like maniacs.  We made each other mix-tapes.  Plus, we were both young and adorable and having the type of sex that young people with endless energy, are limber and need very little sleep have.  Lots and varied.  Ah youth.  I found a way to stay in Boston for the summer while he was home from school (four part-time jobs!) and we spent all of our non-work time together.  We loved taking long ambling walks through the city.  Sometimes we’d ride the subway to a stop we’d never been to, then get out and walk around for hours. The first time he asked me to marry him, we were on a late night walk,  just four months after we met.  Our summer together was ending in a matter of weeks and we were both starting to get anxious. “We should get married!” he said and I just laughed.  But he stopped and spun me around so that he was looking in my eyes and said, “I’m totally serious.  Let’s get married.” 

“But we can’t!  We’re too young!”  I said.  I adored him more than I’d ever adored anyone in my life, but I had no interest in being a wife.  I still had two more years of college.  He said we could do it and still finish school.  Maybe we could just secretly get married,  and we wouldn’t even have to tell anyone? That idea actually appealed to me.  I like secrets and I am prone to doing ridiculous things on a whim.  We didn’t do it, though.  Before he left to go back to school he bought me a gold ring with a little heart-shaped amethyst stone in the center.  “Will you wear it on your left hand?” he asked.  “I want everyone to know you are mine.”  That sounded like passionate adoration to me back then. I was all in.

We should have done it.  We should have made that spectacular mistake early.  Gotten it out of the way and been divorced before we could do any major damage to each other.  Instead we had a long distance relationship while we were in college, then moved to Texas together so that he could go to graduate school.  He asked me to marry him again when we’d been together 6 years.  This time it wasn’t romantic.  We’d been growing apart and fighting more and more.  And then he had a health scare, something minor that seemed major, and when we got back from the doctor he said, “Maybe we should get married?”  And I said, “Sure, why not?”  And we tried to plan a wedding, but neither of us was really interested, so we flew to Vegas and got hitched in the Chapel of Love.  Maybe it was an attempt to get back to the days when we were younger and frivolous and did wild things together.  Eloping in Vegas is some wild and crazy fun. 

Sadly, I’d say that was the last time we ever had crazy fun together.  Things quickly went to shit after that.  The jealousy and possessiveness I’d mistaken for passionate love in him was starting to smother me.  He seemed to disapprove of everyone in my life: friends, family, anyone that took my focus off of him.  I somehow thought that marriage would make this better, that he would feel more secure and loosen up a bit, but it seemed to make it worse.  Two months after we married, we had a huge fight where he was angry at me for talking on the phone with my sister when he wanted me to watch tv with him.  He yelled at me and punched a wall, and I grabbed our car keys and took off.  I drove around aimlessly thinking, “I’ve made a huge mistake and I am going to need to get out of this marriage.”  But I stuck it out for two more years.  I always loved him and I kept hoping that the stress of both of us being in graduate school was our biggest problem.  We still seemed really compatible, as long as I didn’t spend too much time away from him.  And working full-time while going to grad school didn’t give me much opportunity for a social life, so things just went along for a while. 

He was at the point in his academic career where he was teaching his own classes, while working on his dissertation.  He seemed restless and unhappy.  He began telling me salacious stories about a colleague who was having an affair with a student and I was fascinated and repelled.  Somewhere in the back of my mind it began to dawn on me that he knew way too many details about this affair.  One day I came home from class and he smelled like a fruity shampoo that we didn’t own.  He left to go play basketball that evening and without thinking, I logged into his email.  I’m not sure what drove me to do it.  I’d never done anything like that before, but it was easy because his password was my name.  I found a chain of his emails with a college friend of his, whom he was supposed to be meeting in New Orleans that weekend.  It was all about keeping a secret from me.  It said, “Don’t worry, I’ll tell her I’m with you if she calls.”  And it ended with “Fuck your brains out this weekend!”  So then I knew.

I’m not saying I was perfect.  I know I can be petty and mean.  Conveniently, I can only rememer two instances of my egregiously bad behavior towards him.  One was in college when we’d had a fight and I hung up on him, then got all dressed up and went to a party.  I met a guy and ended up making out with him in a bathroom stall, standing on a toilet.  I thought it was hot at the time and now I can’t believe I didn’t get flesh eating bacteria.  The other thing is shitty, but not nearly as gross.  Once he was sitting on our bed, shirtless and I went over and poked him in the belly and made that “hee-hee” sound like he was the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  This seems way meaner to me now that my stomach will never be flat again, due to having three babies.  These days, I’d cut somebody who poked me and made the Doughboy sound.  Then I would cry.  But at the time I laughed maniacally at him while he stared at me in horror.   

Also, that amethyst heart ring he bought me?  I lost it.  He had another one made for me a few years later and I lost that one too.  I was appallingly careless back then.  But it may have been symbolic.  That ring and that relationship sometimes made me feel smothered and I would take it off for a while to breathe and be myself again.  I think I knew it wouldn’t last, but I still hoped it would.  Maybe he felt the same way.  

When I found out he was cheating, I was devastated and furious.  I kicked him out of our apartment and proceeded to cut all of the crotches out of his pants and underwear, then folded them up in a box for him to take with him.  Surprise, asshole!  I threw out all of the love letters he’d written me in college, including the “missing you” card from the night we met.  I gave him back my wedding ring and told him it didn’t mean anything to me and I never wanted to see it again.  I held on to being angry, because when I wasn’t angry I felt more lost and desolate than I ever had in my life.  I divorced him, even though I still loved him, because I thought that he’d end up ruining me if I let him stay.  I don’t think it was the wrong decision, but it was one of the hardest things I ever did.  

I wish I hadn’t thrown out all of our love letters.  I wish I hadn’t let my second husband convince me to throw out the three wedding pictures that I had from my time with Lloyd.  I wish I hadn’t lost the heart rings.  I have no physical evidence left of that relationship and sometimes it feels like it never really happened.  I’m writing it down now, while I still have the memory to do so.  It’s already flawed and missing pieces, but I can still remember that feeling of first real love, long before things got so sad and ugly between us.  It was a pure and beautiful thing.  He and I aren’t in touch today.  I once ran into him at the gym a few years after we split and we had a nice conversation.  I haven’t seen him since then, 12 or 13 years ago.  I’m not really interested in knowing him now and I don’t want him to know me.  But I am glad that he was my first real love and also that he was my first real heartbreak.  The love we shared opened me up to so many good things.  When you’re in love, I think you learn to be generous, kind and vulnerable in ways that you never have before.  Maybe that’s why we keep doing it, taking the leap even though it can turn on you.  It makes all good things even better.  But the heartbreak from that relationship taught me that I was strong, brave and resilient and that I was capable of picking myself up and moving forward on my own.  It has been immensely helpful to know that in my life.  I am grateful for all of it.

Most Influential

05.01.2019

A few weeks ago I read that Christine Blasey Ford was on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people.  It would be so much more of an honor if Brett Kavanaugh weren’t on that very same list.  That seems utterly perverse to me. I’m not sure what that list really means and who thought it was a good idea to put both of them on it.  But those hearings were certainly memorable, with the sniffing, the outrage, the inky social calendar with references to all the beer and the bitter crocodile tears of a man who seemed like he might not get what he wanted for the first time, ever.  What really affected me, and most of the women I know,  was the woman whose voice shook as she told a story of a traumatic night that happened many years ago.  She testified to all of this in front of an audience of strangers, many of whom didn’t believe her and/or didn’t care. 

The unsurprising conclusion to all of it was a kick in the gut to me.  I knew what was going to happen, but it still hurt. But still, those hearings and Christine Blasey Ford’s courageous testimony were very influential to me, in a way that has changed my life.  Her bravery in the face of horrific judgment and backlash is something I won’t forget. And a part of her testimony gave me a small but amazing gift:  the permission to not be ok.  Hear me out.   (Or don’t.  You can probably tell where this is going, so you may want to skip it. After all there are so many of these stories.)

Many years ago, I was in the process of divorcing my first husband, although I still loved him deeply.  It was the right thing to do and I knew it.  I was learning how to take care of myself and follow my own instincts. During this time I met a man, a friend of my dear friend and roommate’s boyfriend who was also going through a divorce.  He seemed like nice guy.  He would come by our apartment with the boyfriend, his toolbox in hand and fix things without our even having to ask.  He asked me out on dates and I demurred at first because my heart was broken, but at some point I said yes.  We dated for about a month and I never felt much of anything for him.  He seemed nice most of the time, but he drank in a way that alarmed me sometimes.  I slept with him just once, toward the end of the month I was seeing him.  I felt guilty about it, though, because I didn’t love him and didn’t think I’d ever love him.  That really mattered to me back then. 

He could tell.  I went to his company party at the lake and he got wasted.  A colleague’s wife referred to me as his girlfriend and I blurted, “Oh I’m not his girlfriend, we’re just dating.”  I knew immediately that I’d fucked up.  He was quiet and cold for the rest of the night.  Late in the evening we were walking on a path by the lake and I said something else he didn’t like and he shoved me hard.  Falling to my knees, I remember thinking, “Ah yes, there it is.”  He quickly pulled me to my feet, apologizing and acting like it was an accident, but I knew.  I pretended it was all fine and dropped him at his place, feigning exhaustion.  I called him the next day and broke it off.  He was livid.  He was still yelling at me when I shakily hung up the phone.  But I knew I’d done the right thing. 

We hung out in the same circle, so I saw him now and again over the next several weeks.  He glared at me occasionally, but didn’t speak to me.  I felt really guilty about hurting his feelings.  I felt like I’d messed up.  Six week after I’d ended things, I saw him at a Halloween party.  I was dressed in a short plaid skirt, like a sexy school girl.  This is one of those things that shouldn’t be relevant.  I wasn’t wearing it for him, but that doesn’t matter, either.  He came up to me and was friendly and I was stupidly relieved.  He wasn’t mad anymore! We could be friends again.  He offered to get me a drink.  It was my second of the evening.  I think that fact is relevant.  He handed me a tall drink and we kept chatting as I sipped it.  It probably was a jack and coke, because I liked those a lot back then.  It was sweet and bubbly and I don’t remember anything weird about the taste of it.  I drank half of it.  And at some point I realized that I didn’t feel right, but it was too late to do anything about it. I don’t remember much of the party after that, but I’m told that I passed out and he sat in a room with me laying in his lap.  He told people I drank too much and he was taking care of me.  Everyone knew we’d dated, so I’m sure it seemed sweet. He carried me out of that party and brought me back to his house.  At some point I woke up in his bed with him.  I didn’t know why I was there.  I didn’t have my underwear or my shoes on and for some reason I was way more concerned about my shoes.  I really wanted my shoes.  

Don’t worry, I don’t remember any of this well enough to share any gory and upsetting details with you. Whatever he *allegedly* put in my drink makes me a terrible witness.  I’m sure this would be relevant in a court of law, but we are not in one, so who cares?  I remember asking him why I was there and he said, “You wanted to come here.”  I said I didn’t think so, and I instantly knew that I’d fucked up again.  That man knew how to exude rage without having to raise his voice.  He was talking to me quietly but I don’t remember most of what he said.  The only part of it I remember was him asking me if I “just fucked everybody?” and I only remember that because a couple of years ago, some asshole friend of a guy I was dating put his arm around me and asked me that same question, out of nowhere, and the jolt of terror that went through me at that moment took my breath away.  I didn’t fuck everybody.  Then or now or ever.  But none of that has ever or will ever be relevant.  Back in that bed that night, that man was very angry at me.  I wasn’t sure why, but  I knew I was in trouble.  He kept talking and at some point I put my hand on his arm and said, “It’s ok.”  I don’t know who I was talking to, him or me.  But I know that it’s relevant, in that I can’t call what happened later rape.  I never said no. In fact, I said it was ok.  I thought that would make it better, but it’s the last of many things that I was wrong about that night.

For the next month or so I still ran into him.  And when I did, I went home with him.  He always wanted me to leave with him and it seemed pointless not to.  This fact has seemed very relevant to some of the people I’ve told this story to and they have judged me for it accordingly.  I judged myself too.  I can’t say why I did it.  That month was a blur and I couldn’t really feel anything.  I also couldn’t eat anymore.  I lost nearly 15 pounds in just four weeks.  It was the single most effective diet I’ve ever been on! I didn’t have much of a voice, either. I’ve always been quiet, but I could barely talk, especially around him.  That made him almost as angry as when I did talk.  Nothing really worked with him.  Sometimes I wondered if he was going to kill me, but I didn’t really care because some part of me wanted to die. 

I was seeing a psychologist back then and attended a weekly support group of his depressed patients.  Toward the end of that month someone in the group said they were worried about me because I was even more quiet than usual.  I suddenly blurted out what had happened on that bad night.  A sweet guy with a blond beard and glasses said gently, “That sounds like sexual assault.”  I started to cry and I said, “No, no, it’s not. In fact, I’m kind of seeing him still. It’s all fine.” I didn’t want to talk anymore but I couldn’t stop crying.  After the group meeting, the psychiatrist wrote me a prescription for a stronger anti-depressant and in two weeks I miraculously didn’t want to die anymore.  I never went home with that soulless garbage person again. A deceptively easy ending to a brief, but horrible and self-destructive period in my life.

I wish that was truly the end of it, and I had immediately been all better, but the truth is that I never felt safe again.  And I started having all these quirks and workarounds for my crippling anxiety.  I was terribly ashamed of all of it and I always tried to hide these things, only letting someone know about it if it was absolutely necessary.  There were just so many. And a lot of them persist to this day.  Some examples: I have an security alarm on my house, but I only set it at night when I am there.  I can’t sleep unless it’s on and I’ve checked to make sure all my doors and windows are locked, usually more than once.  I don’t really care if someone breaks in and steals my stuff when I’m not home. I mean, I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I’m not a stickler for setting the alarm when I’m gone (besides, I own little of value and have a mean, barky and bitey dog). I can never sleep with the windows open, even when I stayed in a house without air conditioning for a summer.  I’ve camped, but I don’t actually sleep when I’m outside in a tent.  That’s why I hate camping.

There’s more!  Inconveniently, in order for me to have a repair person in my house, someone else has to be there with me….or better yet, without me.  I can’t park in a parking garage by myself at night.  If that is the parking choice, I’m not coming.  If I have to park too far away at night and I’m alone, I am also not coming.  And I nearly always run on a treadmill inside unless I’m running with a group. I tell people it’s because of the weather or childcare, but it isn’t.  It’s all about safety from predators.  I hate when someone I don’t know touches me.  I hate when anyone touches me unexpectedly when I’m sleeping.  I always have a pair of shoes by the door. There are more, but I don’t feel like sharing them.  I’ll say that it takes a ridiculously long time for me to trust anyone, especially men.  Way longer than most reasonable people would expect and that’s caused some really unpleasant conversations.  I don’t know if all of these quirks are because of that one traumatic night, or that whole shitty month,  but I don’t think I had most of these issues before then.  I kept thinking I’d be better at some point.  That I should be better.  And stronger.  But so far, this is just the way I am.  High anxiety with lots of quirks.

Which brings me to my point. As horrifying as it was to watch Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, it was freeing.  I will forever be indebted to her for changing my life.  Decades after the trauma that a laughing Brett and his friend caused, she talked about how she still lived with the effects.  She had quirks and workarounds, including the fact that she couldn’t live in a place without two exits.  This seemed crazy to her husband, but not at all to me.  Instead a lightbulb came on in my brain and I had the amazing realization, “Holy shit, I am fine.”  Finally, after all this time,  I had permission to feel ok about not being ok. 
The way I was and am makes perfect sense.  I am not broken or crazy.  I have been managing my life so that I can live and sleep and move through the world every day.   And I don’t have to be ashamed about any of it.  And I can tell this story and I don’t have to be afraid for people know these things about me.  It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about it or how anyone judges me for my actions and reactions. I am fine and I am free.  Thank you Christine Blasey Ford.

Morning Routine

11.30.2016

Rudely awakened by the bleating of my first alarm at a ridiculously dark hour.  So strange to not feel refreshed and energized after 5 – 1/2 hours of fitful sleep! First 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 his 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 head to my bathroom to try and 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 the children.  Is it possible that they will someday figure out that they have to put clothes AND shoes on their body 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 Dress for Less 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” because he has a field trip today.  I have no sacks, so it is in a paper wine bag from Trader Joe’s, ’cause 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 approximately 1/3 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! This was one of Dante’s levels, right?

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.  Furthermore, Dodge Ram drivers 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 11 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.

But wait, 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. I work at the courthouse, where there is usually a line to get through the metal detector at the entrance, because 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 drop six bucks on a ridiculous coffee beverage with syrup and whipped cream in about an hour.  Need anything?”  I think I deserve it.

Learning to Fly

05.16.2017

I frequently describe myself as a “nervous traveler” or just “not a great traveler” but I’ve started to rethink those ideas. It’s true that I feel somewhat incompetent when I travel by plane, mainly because for most of my life I would fly once every few years, maybe twice in a really big year. In my younger days, I was always too broke for anything but long car trips or the ‘hound. That’s what the cool broke people call the Greyhound bus, btw. Well that’s what I call it, anyway. And I hope to avoid it for the rest of my life. Speaking of buses, I once went on the Mexican version of the ‘hound and some of my fellow passengers were actual birds. That was an adventure. Would a bad traveler do that? Maybe I’ve had the potential to be a good traveler, but not the resources? Hmmm…

My second marriage was to a great traveler, so I had high hopes that we’d go a lot of places together and I’d become an expert at it. But we had lots of kids (three, but all boys and in less than four years, so it’s really like having fifteen) immediately, so my travel dreams were put on hold while I was tethered to the earth. We did take a LOT of road trips, which is really the way to go when you have young children. At least if your asshole kid is screaming in your personal minivan you don’t have to apologize to anyone when you put in ear plugs and ignore him for 7 hours. And nobody has to know that you are carrying around a large bottle for the children to pee in, that you actually refer to as “the pee bottle” because you’re just handing them any damn juice box they want so their little mouths will be quiet for a while, but you don’t want to have to stop at sketchy gas station bathrooms every 40 miles when you could just pull over for a pit stop and then empty child pee all over these great United States. I bet this ensured that search dogs could have easily located my family on any of our trips, had we needed to be rescued, so really it was a win-win. Plus, I always researched any weird and interesting places that might be along our route, so we’d get to see some crazy shit, like a giant King Kong statue, boat and train-shaped restaurants, the Precious Moments chapel, a big blue whale you could wander inside of, multiple Elvises (Elvi?) and South of the Border, where Pedro sez you need to stop, so you just do. I will always go out of my way to see something unusual. It’s one of my life’s guiding principles.

So maybe I could be a good traveler, but I just haven’t flown often enough to totally get the hang of it. My air travel skills are still like those of a very old, very young, or slightly drunk person. I am unclear about what is happening, but I’m really excited! I can’t figure out how to check in my bag, and I ALWAYS have a bag to check, because I have not mastered the skill of paring things down when I might NEED a variety of shoes and multiple books. There are always new and unpleasant protocols to follow, just to get near the plane, like shoe removal and weird body scans and threats of pat downs and anal probing. It is all really confusing and makes me rumpled and disoriented and protective of my body parts. I’m getting better with it, though. This has been a big travel year for me, possibly the biggest ever. I’ve flown 4 times since July! I know, right? It’s huge! I stayed in hotels by myself twice and it was glorious. I have plans for even more travel in the upcoming months. Soon there may be a time when I can call myself a great traveler. And I will! The main thing I’ve realized is that in order to navigate travel one needs to READ THE SIGNS. There are many of them posted. They are telling you things that you need to know. This is good practice for life in general, not just for traveling. Read the signs!

I love being at the airport so much more than the actual flying part. It’s really fun to watch all of the people. So many interesting outfit choices. People are either super-fancy or they’re like, “Screw it! Why shower or wear anything clean when I’m going on a damn plane? I’ll just wear these pajama pants with the blown-out elastic waist. Yup, that’s my butt crack. No need to hold up the security line when you can see for yourself that I’m not hiding anything in there. You’re welcome everyone.” Hmmm…maybe those people are on to something.

I usually spend money that I would not ordinarily spend in airport stores, and not just at the Starbucks. Magazines are a given, because Us Weekly is never more compelling than when you read it on a plane. But I’ll even be tempted by souvenirs FROM MY OWN CITY. On my most recent trip, I had to convince myself that I didn’t need to bring a packet of “chili-fixin’s” from the Austin airport with me to New York. If I hadn’t been distracted, I would have totally picked up those fixin’s (oh my God, it is killing me to make something plural with an apostrophe, but I think that’s the way you are required to do it with something called “fixin’s”) on the way home. And I’ll just admit here that if I’ve ever given you a gift after I’ve taken a trip where I traveled by plane, there is an 85% chance I got it at the airport.

I am not at all a fan of the actual flying on the plane part. It’s always too cold and claustrophobic for me to really be comfortable. And despite my lack of frequent flying, I’ve had some weird and unfortunate flight experiences. Have you ever been screamed at by a hysterical flight attendant to put on your oxygen mask while you made an emergency landing because of an issue with cabin pressure? I have. The bags do not inflate, but the oxygen still flows, just like they said it would. How about being on a flight that is rerouted to a different place, because after four insanely turbulent attempts at landing in a dust storm in El Paso, the plane is running out of fuel and the pilot is will finally admit defeat, as your fellow passengers get teary, throw up and pray. I had that harrowing experience with Shakira and her husband last summer. Thank God I was with them, because they are never opposed to getting drunk and that was exactly what I needed to do, once we were on firm ground.

Usually if I’m flying alone, I take Dramamine, put on a fuzzy neck pillow and try to fall asleep and miss as much of the flight as possible. Do good travelers do this? Do they bring better distractions? Do have access to better drugs? Are these some of those adult secrets I never seem to know until it’s really late, like that people who have kids, but also have clean houses most likely *pay other people* to clean them. Or that more people than you’d suspect, who don’t have those “eleven” lines between their eyebrows, that you get from thinking “WTF?” too often get a little botox there? I didn’t know these things before and just thought I was failing at things like cleanliness and graceful aging. Perhaps it is the same with travel? Are there just a few more things I should learn and then I will be an amazing traveler? Let me know!