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.

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I Don’t Know

“I don’t know how you do it!” If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words, I could actually hire someone to help me do it. Or hire someone to do it for me and then I could lay in my bed and read (#goals).  I heard these words again this week and I find them oh-so irritating.  Because let’s be real: A) You aren’t actually impressed with what I’m doing and B) You don’t really want to know how it’s done.

Welcome to my latest rant!

At best “I don’t know how you do it!” is just one of those things that people spit out when they really don’t have anything to say, but feel the need to talk anyway.  As a lifelong introvert, I particularly dislike this kind of happy horse shit and fervently wish that people would stop polluting the air with meaningless words (yes, I’m also a bit of an asshole). It’s much like “You’ve got your hands full!” or “Is it hot enough for you?” or “How about that exciting sportsball whatever?” (not an actual thing, just what sports-talk sounds like to me).  I do understand the need for human connection, so I will try not to act like an asshole when I hear these things in their benign, friendly tones, and will probably just nod vaguely and move on with my life.  You’re welcome.

At worst, “I don’t know how you do it!” has a little snotty tone to it that betrays the not-very-well hidden message of “Your life sounds so shitty to me.  Glad I’m not you!” I’ve received way too much of this in the past 4 years, what with my surprise divorce and years of piloting a hideously ugly minivan, not to mention the constant presence of multiple boychildren, who belong to me and are always wilding nearby.  You’d think I’d be used to it, but much like those situations where people tell you that you “look tired” when they really mean that you look ugly or disheveled to to them, IT GRATES.  I get that “tired” one a lot too, because I’m a single parent in my 40s and hell yes I’m tired.  I usually just respond with, “I AM tired, thanks so much for noticing!” and raise my coffee cup to the asshole who said it, because really? Who doesn’t know they are tired?  Who needs it pointed out?  Nobody, that’s who.

I suppose “I don’t know how you do it!” is a bit better than “You look tired!” because faux admiration is surely better than faux concern.  But honestly they both suck.  Especially when said with a smug smile and little headshake.  Yeah, I saw that.  Thanks!

I guess it’s possible that some people are actually wondering how I accomplish some of the unremarkable things in my life.  Well I have answers to some of the “I don’t know how you…” comments I’ve heard recently.  Here you go:

I don’t know how you do that long-ish and trafficky commute to your job with the very inflexible schedule EVERY weekday!  I sure couldn’t do that!    

Answer:  Oh I bet you could do it, if you had the motivation of it being the only means of your getting health insurance and the paycheck that provides food and a home for you and your children.  And even though I do not love being in the car for 45 minutes in the morning and an hour at night to go 11 damn miles, it’s actually super easy to do.  I just get in the car (no longer a minivan!!) and put on a podcast like My Favorite Murder or a sweet (possibly yacht rock) playlist and then I drive while trying not to hit anything or swear too obviously at the other commuters until I get to work.  Then I do it again at 5.

I don’t know how you ran that half marathon!  Who has time to train?  Plus running is so boring…especially on a treadmill.  And aren’t you worried about your knees?

Answer: Running isn’t for everyone, but I love the way it makes me feel wrung out and happy and way less crazy.  I fit it in to my already packed schedule, because being less crazy is a high priority for me. So I turn down other things or get up really early in order to do it.  Bonus: the effects of running have (so far) kept me from throwing things at annoying people who tell me I look tired or ask me stupid questions while criticizing my choice of hobby.  It’s a win/win for society!  The actual doing it is a deceptively simple process of getting up out of a seated position, putting on running clothes and shoes and moving forward while listening to another awesome playlist that I compiled in my head during my long-ass commute.  My knees seem to be holding up fine.  I am not worried about them.

I don’t know how you handle parenting your three crazy sons!

OK, this one may be legit, because my children are nutsy and loud and they all talk at once and want my personalized attention at all times.  They also never walk when they can roll, flip or climb something and jump off of it and getting anywhere with them is exhausting and probably much like herding cats.

Answer:  I’m not very good at it.  That’s why I look tired.  Having three kids was not the smartest move for my temperament and if I’d known that I’d be alone with them most of the time and that they’d all be energetic boys, I might have rethought the whole endeavor.  But I’m lucky that I didn’t know what my future would hold, because I adore them in all their craziness. They are truly my life’s best reasons.  I may sometimes look like I’m not extra thrilled with it, but that is because I am so damn tired all the damn time.  But it’s good. We’re all doing just fine.

And that’s the point of my rant.  My life, while not everyone’s cup of tea, is very good and I’m fairly happy.  Nobody really needs to know how I do it.  I just do it, because it’s what needs to be done and who cares? It all works for me.  Everybody has things in their life that they don’t particularly enjoy and that other people would find distasteful or downright horrifying.  But they get them done because that’s what they need to do to make their lives work.  If you haven’t had to make the best of some shitty situations recently, that’s great!  But don’t get too smug, because life is unpredictable.

If you think that someone’s life looks unpleasant, you do not need to let them know.  If you must say something, you could try to be helpful with “This seems hard, is it?  Can I help in some way?”  Or if you are truly impressed with the way someone is handling the challenges in their life you could give them some encouragement like “You are doing a great job!” or “I admire the way you did that.” Those are nice things to hear.  Or you could send them a lovely Starbucks gift card! Tired people love those.

Thank you for reading my rant.

 

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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.

 

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2018 Wrap Up

 

Wow, is it really that time of year again? It’s time to wrap up the year with these questions found on a blog called All & Sundry long ago and tweaked a bit. I recommend thinking about these questions yourself. Here’s my 2018 review:

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before? One of the more interesting things I did was go to an event with the “Singing Bowl Lady” who plays large bowl instruments that make a unique vibrational sound while you lay there and meditate or just relax.  It was cool.  Calming and peaceful.  I was hoping I’d have some big revelation while I was in a meditative state, and while that didn’t happen I did feel pretty relaxed and happy.  I’d like to try it again.
I FINALLY  saw the Amazing Acro-Cats perform,  which has been an unfulfilled dream of mine for a while.  Lucky for me, I have been dating someone who will join right in with any weird shit I want to do.  That show was even more awesome than I expected! A pure delight in every way.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  I committed to doing more “maintenance” type things and I was pretty good about that.  I went to the dentist after a 7 year hiatus and got a LOT of much needed dental work done. I even went to the doctor at some point.  I slacked off a bit at the end on those issues, but I did much better than I have been doing, so let’s consider that a win.

I also got an ongoing plumbing problem in my house fixed, even though I did not want to spend the money and preferred to continue doing work-arounds forever.  Plus I got a new dishwasher to replace the one I had with a door that kept falling off and leaking and not really cleaning dishes.  And I finally replaced my old minivan, which was having all sorts of exciting issues.  I spent way more money than is comfortable for me, maintaining and replacing things this year.  It was necessary, but boy was it rough.

I think for 2019 I need to make more resolutions that help me to take better care of myself, because I am fucking exhausted all the time.  I should know how to do this by now, but the past few months have left me drained. I need to do better in this area.

And I will see more movies. That is my favorite resolution and one I aim to keep.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?   No

4. Did anyone close to you die?   No, but losing Burt Reynolds was a heart breaker.  RIP Bandit.

5. What countries did you visit?  I’m planning to end this year and begin next year in Mexico with my special somebody. It’s the first time I’ve left the good ol’ USA in many, many years and I’m really looking forward to it.

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?   It’s hard to describe.  I feel like I have been holding things together and trying to make them work for a while and I am just kind of tired and discouraged.  

The world is in crazy chaos and the shitstorm seems to have no end.  That has taken a toll. And a light has been shined on the way men and women interact and the revelations haven’t been pretty.  And wow, it’s been exhausting to continually have this shit mansplained to me by men who don’t enjoy having to look at their own actions and think outside their own needs and desires.  It comes down to caring whether the other person in your interaction is enjoying the interaction and wants it to continue.  How is it that so many (mostly male) people don’t even think about that? Or don’t care?  It’s mind boggling.  And it’s made 2018 rough.

And I am always worried about money and about the future for me and for my kids. I know intellectually that it takes a while to recover financially from a divorce, particularly when you hadn’t planned on it and didn’t make arrangements to prepare yourself for that type of future.  I did sporadic part-time and freelance work when I was married, so that I could be there for my kids and my husband could travel for his work, but that put my career on the back burner.  It wasn’t a great idea for someone who was not going to be partnered for the long term, but I made the best decisions I could with the info I had at the time.  And three years post-divorce and in the full time working world I’m still very much affected by it.  I feel like I am way behind.  Working as a single parent puts constraints on me that I didn’t have when I was not a parent, which makes it more challenging to move forward. And it is also more stressful because I have three people who count on me and no safety net. So I guess I would have like to have more financial stability and less insecurity in that regard.  I’m working towards it, but it is slow going.

7. What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory?  Days when I’ve participated in races are always special to me.  This year the only ones I did were the Capital 10K and the Turkey Trot.  I felt so happy and renewed after both.  So I know I need to make sure running races is a part of next year.

And I had some great times with my favorite people.  A girls weekend in the Hill Country in January.  Watching the Oscars and other awards shows with my Forever Oscar Date.  Exploring Memphis with my guy.  Taking my kids to visit our Florida family for the 4th of July and watching fireworks on the beach.  Laughing so hard my face and stomach hurt in Dallas with Shakira and Madame V. Walking around beautiful New Orleans in October with one of my dearest friends from way back in high school and eating ALL the food.  And a sweet anniversary dinner in a revolving restaurant overlooking the nighttime lights of Houston.  Lots and lots of good memories this year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?   I made good progress in letting go of some painful baggage from the past that had been weighing me down for a very long time.  I feel stronger than I have in a while.

9. What was your biggest failure?  Ugh, this one is hard, not because there was one big failure, but it’s more like I don’t feel like I’m really succeeding in most aspects of my life.  I know it is better to look at it as “In comparison to myself three years ago, I’m kicking butt!” but in reality it feels to me like I’m not where I’d hoped to be.  I guess I need to revisit this in 2019.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I had a running related hip injury that plagued me for a while last year.  I am so happy that it’s mostly healed now and I am getting back to running regularly.  And, as previously mentioned, I had a ton of dental work that I’d avoided for many years. That also sucked, but my dentist is great and should probably name his new boat after me.

11. What was the best thing you bought?  The biggest and best one was my new car.  It’s had a huge effect on me, which I didn’t expect.  I LOVE that car.  It is easy to drive, fuel efficient and really easy to park…which I didn’t even realize was an issue that held me back when I drove the giant hippo-esque minivan.  I especially love that it is purple.  I never truly realized how driving a vaguely colored minivan with a big dent in the side was like driving a giant indicator of my low self esteem.  But a hideous two ton burden has been removed from my life! I was really anxious about making such a big purchase, but I am very glad I did.

The other excellent purchase I made was my new running shoes.  I did not want to spend the extra money on them, but my hip was killing me and I did research that indicated that I was running in the wrong type of shoes and this was part of the reason my injury was not healing.  So I decided to take the gamble to see if better shoes could help.  And luckily they did!  My hip feels almost healed. These shoes have made running good again, which is more than worth it.

12. Where did most of your money go?  Mostly toward childcare, particularly in the summer and to the supermarket, as always.  I also put a lot of money down on my car to secure a lower payment for myself.  And the aforementioned tons of dental work.  I also dropped my phone in the tub, necessitating the purchase of a new one.  Ugh.

13. What did you get really excited about?  See #11 about my beloved car.  I’ve had it for 6 months and I’m still thrilled about it.

14. What song will always remind you of 2018?  It’s probably that Drake song about Kiki, because it was so weird and my goofy kids were very into it this summer.

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

– happier or sadder?  Unfortunately, I’m a little sadder right now.

– thinner or fatter? Oh damn, I am also a little fatter than last year.  I did less running and exercise because of my hip injury, but I totally ate and drank my feelings.

– richer or poorer? I’m a little poorer, too.

Not a stellar end to the year, but I guess it makes sense that I’m a little sadder.  There is room for improvement

16. What do you wish you’d done more of? Restorative things.  Exercise.  Getting more sleep.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying incessantly. Agreeing to things that drain me because they will make someone else happy.  Running in the wrong shoes.

18. How did you spend Christmas/Hanukkah/Major Holiday of your choice? This was the first year I was away from my kids for Christmas, which was kind of hard, but still ok.  I put my dog in a Santa suit.  I ran 5 miles on Christmas Eve and then visited with a dear friend in the afternoon.  Then I spent the rest of the holiday with my boyfriend and his daughters. It was nice and chill.  We made good food and decorated cupcakes.  Drank wine and watched A Christmas Story.  Watched the kids play on their new scooters.  A good time.

19. What were your favorite TV programs?  I loved the second season of GLOW and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  I’ve also watched a lot of Superstore, which is hilarious and makes me laugh out loud.  A rarity.  Plus my friend plays a crazy character on that show and I’m happy every time I see her on screen.

20. What were your favorite books you read this year? I haven’t read as much this year as I usually do.  I read and enjoyed a YA book  called Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys.  And I really liked the book Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

21. What was your favorite music you heard this year? I had fun listening to a lot of cheesy piano bar music.

22. What were your favorite films you saw this year? I didn’t go to the movies as much as I would have liked, which is why it’s a resolution for 2019.  MORE MOVIES.  In 2018, I liked A Star is Born and the mystery one with Blake Lively (A Simple Favor?) was fun.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? My birthday was mostly good.  A little bittersweet.  I turned 47, which is the age that my dad lived to.  I feel so old.  But I got lots and lots of birthday wishes from friends, which is always really nice. My boyfriend was extra sweet to me and sent me  beautiful flowers and took me to a fancy lunch.  I went to the “singing bowl” thing with a couple of good friends that evening and that was relaxing and different from anything I’d done before.  And I went to bed pretty early afterwards and got a good night’s sleep, which means so much more to me these days. So all in all, it was good.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A different outcome for the Kavanaugh hearings would have made a big difference in my outlook. It’s another disheartening shit sandwich to add to the pile along with the Beto loss to the Zodiac Killer.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
Librarian up to no good. Always and forever.

26. What kept you sane?
Who says I’m sane? Hehehe.  Running seems to keeps me sane.  As sane as I get, anyway.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.  I am stronger when I’m not holding on to old baggage from the past.  And I need to consistently stand up for myself, because nobody else is going to do it for me.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got! Let’s see what 2019 has to bring. Happy New Year to all!

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Be Better

I am raising three sons.  Man, just typing that made me tired. It is not easy and I worry constantly that I’m not doing it well or that I could be doing better.  I feel like I get things right about half the time.  And I suppose the other half can be classified as “learning experiences.”   Oh yes, I am learning so much.  Learning experiences a-plenty, every day!  And I’m not even halfway through their childhood.  There is no chance in hell that I’m going to give up caffeine in the next 10 years.  Please feel free to send Starbucks gift cards my way.
 
I have an overarching goal in my parenting: I’m trying my absolute best not to raise assholes.  Yes world, you’re welcome! My boys know I have high standards…not for cleanliness (don’t come over if a clean floor is on your “must haves” list) but for many other things.  For example, two of my children are able to communicate with me by text these days, and as everyone knows I do not appreciate texts with bad grammar and stupid texting language.  My boys know that they better fix their spelling and under no circumstances are they allowed to “K” me.  I know it’s not how everybody feels, but I do and that is the way I want to be treated. I have made that clear. Stupid texting language is a smack to my eyeballs.  Be better or don’t text me.  It’s a boundary I have set and so far they respect it. 
 
I’ve always set boundaries with them.  I think when you care about someone, it is important let them know how you want to be treated.  And learning to respect people’s boundaries is one of life’s more important skills. My kids were never allowed to demand things from me.  If they demanded, they did not receive.  From the time they were toddlers, I expected them to say “please” if they asked me for something and “thank you” after I gave it to them.  They might be loud and crazy little hooligans, but they damn well better be polite little hooligans.  I didn’t want them to think I was their personal servant, just because I was their mother.  I wanted them to know that I was a separate person from them and that I was happy to help them and do things for them, but they needed to show appreciation and not entitlement.  
 
I’m also no nonsense when it comes to talking about or touching other people’s bodies.  I’ve made sure that my kids know that their bodies belong to them and other people’s bodies belong to other people.  That you don’t get into someone’s space or touch them without permission. That you can tell people when you don’t want a hug and they can tell you the same.  This does not prevent them from trying to beat the crap out of each other multiple times a day, but apparently they are more respectful of the space and bodies of their peers. It’s not a total win, but it’s not a loss! I’ve also tried to hammer home the point that one’s commentary on someone else’s body or looks is unnecessary and not good conversation.  I have always been mindful of not making careless remarks about other people’s looks or weight around my sons.  They know that I think that jokes about someone’s looks are stupid and that people who make those jokes are trying to deflect from their own poor self esteem.  And that poor self esteem is probably warranted because they don’t know how to carry on a good conversation or make a funny joke.  I want them to be better than that.
 
I’m thinking of all of this as I try to figure out how and why so many men seem stunned that women’s bodies are not there for the taking or for their inspection and critique. And they are shocked and dismayed that women are speaking up about this and deeming it unacceptable. How on earth did they not know this?   And what does this mean for me, when raising sons?  If so many men are surprised that we women do not enjoy being groped in the middle of a conversation or that we wouldn’t be thrilled to see their penises at work or that hearing denigrating comments about women’s bodies is insulting to all of us, does that mean that at some point my sons will be shocked by this too?  Or is society changing so much that they will see girls and women as equals?  There are still school dress codes that are geared toward female students’ attire, under the assumption that even today’s boys have so little self control that they will not be able to learn if they see a girl’s collar bone or too much of her leg or *GASP* a bra strap.   I expect better from my sons.  It is natural to want to look at people you find attractive or interesting, but then you need to move your eyes to your school work and get on with it, because that’s what you are there for and your classmates do not exist for your ogling.  Don’t be a creepy asshole.  
 
I’ve been hearing about a lot of people who feel that #metoo has turned into a witch hunt and that it’s ruined romantic interactions between men and women.  Obviously, I don’t agree.  Women don’t want to be treated in a subhuman way. This doesn’t mean that all women no longer want to interact romantically with men, it means we don’t want to be considered prey anymore.  We are not targets, we are people and we have our own boundaries, needs and desires and we’d like them to be heard and respected.  Instead of whining about the unfairness of it all, a mature response might be to look at your own behavior.  I wish that everyone would ask themselves some key questions: How have you treated other people when you wanted something from them?  How do you talk about other people and their bodies and their sexuality?  Has the word “slut” or some other derogatory term come out of your mouth when you were talking about a girl or woman? (I suppose you could say this about a boy or man, but let’s be realistic, these terms are meant to denigrate women.) Have you touched someone in a way that was unwelcome?  Did you immediately stop at that point or did you continue?  Have you tried to coerce someone into sex when they were telling you verbally or non-verbally that they were not interested in having sex with you? Were you paying attention to what they wanted?  Did you care? Because you should, if you don’t want to be an asshole! 
 
If you aren’t a predatory creep (and let’s throw caution to the wind and assume that most people aren’t) then it really comes down to: 1) Treating everyone as if they were a separate human being from you and therefore knowing that they have their own needs and desires that may not match yours. 2) Paying attention to that person’s words and actions and responses to you.  3) Caring about what that person’s words and actions mean, even if it disappoints you and is the opposite of your wishes.  4) Respecting that other person’s boundaries and walking away if that is indicated.  Four step process, guys. You can even skip the Step 3 “Caring” part if you’re kind of an asshole, but not a complete one.  You can even do this if you’re drunk.  If you find that you are too drunk to do this, you can call a car service to come get you and take you home so that you don’t assault or harass someone.  What a time to be alive! It’s just that easy.  It really just comes down to noticing what the other person in your interaction wants and making that as important to you as fulfilling your own desires. If you have a question about what that person wants, you might have to come right out and ask.  But then you will have a really good chance of knowing the answer.  It’s a win-win.
 
But you know, you can even be better than that if you are brave enough.  I think a lot about those guys who were out biking and stopped the assault Brock Turner was committing.  They saw something wrong and they stopped it.  I wish this wasn’t so surprising to me.  They didn’t choose to mind their own business, because a guy was getting “twenty minutes of action” and it would break some sort of guy code to prevent that from happening.  And I bet there were people who watched creepy Brock leave with a woman who was too intoxicated to walk steadily.  Just like there were probably people at that house party 35 years ago who watched two drunk and aggressive guys follow their female friend up to the bathroom.  And apparently there were people in a dorm room watching  and saying nothing while their shitty drunk frat brother waved his dick in their drunk female friend’s face and told her to kiss it.  And I hope that this is changing and that people (men specifically, but women too) aren’t afraid of being called a cock blocker if it means that they can help prevent an assault.  
 
I think there will always be entitled garbage people in the world who see other humans as conquests and who will do whatever they can to get what they want. They are not looking for a mutually satisfying interaction with another person, they care about their own needs, only.  If this is you, then you are at best an asshole and at worst a predator and you probably should hate #metoo, because it’s going to put a crimp in your lifestyle.  I certainly hope most people are not like that.  But you don’t have to be a bystander, either.  And you could even be a stand-up person who says something when you see terrible behavior taking place.  I’m hoping to raise stand-up men.  The world needs more of them.
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Alternalife

In an alternate universe, I’m pretty sure I’m wearing overalls right now.  Or swoveralls, which are a delightful mash-up of sweatpants and overalls.  I recently heard about this magnificent combination and I have to actively force myself NOT to purchase a pair or several of them.  I know they would almost definitely look hideous on me,  but I also know that I would love them and wear them as often as I possibly could.  And that is probably not a good idea.  Right?  Can I be living my best life if I’m wearing something utterly unflattering?  I will have to seriously ponder that.  I used to wear overalls all the time and I LOVED them.  “Like wearing a hug,” I would say.  “With  so many pockets and a hammer holder!”  But I’ve seen photos, and I will admit it wasn’t a great look on me.  And the hammer holder feature proved useless for my lifestyle.  I rarely carry hammers and it did not turn out to be good for the hands-free transport of a full, or even half full, wine glass.  Plus, nearly every boyfriend I ever had, including both of the ones I married, told me that they looked terrible on me and asked me to please not wear them so often. To be fair, I did wear them reaaaallly often, pretty much anytime I wasn’t at work.  So eventually I begrudgingly stopped sporting overalls and switched to other comfortable and slightly less shapelessly unflattering clothing.  My current comfort uniform is a pair of camouflage capri pants, topped by one of my large assortment of soft t-shirts that say things like ‘Vegas!’ or ‘Pardon My French’ or ‘Having Fun Isn’t Hard When You Have a Library Card’ or ‘Don’t Get Upsetti, Eat Some Spaghetti’ (yes, these are all actual shirts I own). While it is not the most glamorous look, I do not look as amorphous as I did in my sweet sweet overalls.  I guess that’s an improvement.  It’s unlikely that I’ll win a Best Dressed award (is that a thing?) but thankfully, the show What Not to Wear isn’t on anymore, so at least I don’t have to worry about being nominated, then secretly filmed as I walk out of the grocery store looking mortifyingly unfashionable while quickly scarfing down secret M&Ms that I do not wish to share with my children.

Do you ever think about the life you would have had if things had gone a differently at one of your crossroads?  Sometimes I like to think about where I would be and what I’d be doing…and wearing, which (as I said earlier) is probably overalls or swoveralls.

In the summer of 1995, I was living in Boston and my boyfriend of 3 years had been accepted to graduate school in Austin, Texas.  He asked me to move there with him, but I really loved Boston and I’d just applied for a supervisor position at my college’s library, where I worked with two of my best friends.  This job had the very nice benefit of paying for one class of graduate school in library science per semester.  I knew that the librarian life was for me! It was what I wanted with all my heart and soul.  I thought I would miss my boyfriend, but we’d already had a long distance relationship while we were in colleges in different states and that worked out well for me, because I was and still am an introvert who cherishes my own space and alone time.  So I applied and got into the graduate program…but I didn’t get the job.  Such a disappointment!  Cue the sad trombone.  Who is to say why the hiring committee didn’t think I’d make a great supervisor?  Perhaps it was because I occasionally sang over the library intercom system at closing time.  Or maybe it had something to do with the time there had been a picture of me on the front of the B section of the Boston Globe, feeding ducks in the Public Garden on a day when I had called in sick. It’s possible that it was because I’d encouraged my friend to photocopy her butt on the library copier.  It is accurate to say that I was a flaky little goofball at 23.  Today I would probably not hire my then-self.  Or at least I would sit her dumb ass down and tell her to shape up and curb her foolishness in the workplace.  

If I’d gotten the job, I had a plan for my life.  I wanted to rent a cozy studio apartment near my library and fill it with books and lots of comfortable pillow on which to lay against while reading. I wanted to go to museums and wander Boston and hang out with my friends. I also really wanted a smoosh-faced, curly-tailed pug dog to love.  I did not need or want a car, because the public transportation in Boston is good, while driving and parking in Boston is one of Dante’s levels of hell.  

If I’d lived that life, I can’t imagine what my world would be like now.  It would surely be different from what I envisioned, but I can’t see how it would be anything like my life today.  I would probably not have married (and divorced) that grad student boyfriend, the way I eventually did, as he was not as happy with a long distance relationship as I was.  And it seems impossible that I’d have met my second husband, which would have spared me a second divorce, but would also not have produced my children.  Would I be a car-less, child-free librarian who spent a lot of time reading and going to museums and hanging out with friends and my dog in that life?  Would I wear overalls and swoveralls and not care what anyone had to say about it?  Maybe.

In real life, I visited Austin with my boyfriend.  I went to BookPeople and Barton Springs.  I ate a Big As Yo’ Face Burrito at Chuy’s and drank copious amounts of frozen margarita.  And I said, “I could try this place for a while.”  That was almost exactly half my life ago, ’cause I never left.  Austin is the only constant I’ve had in a life that didn’t turn out even remotely the way I expected it to.  The only thing I know for sure in life is that you can’t predict the future.  You can want what you want and hope for things and prepare for them the best you know how to, but there will always be surprises and you may have to change course.  Luckily, it seems we are made to be resilient and resourceful.  Good news, y’all!  I can tell you from experience that if you have a major change of course, it is likely that you will find a way handle it and you’ll be ok.  Take it from me.  I’ve changed course more than once and I’m A-OK!  Hell, why be modest?  I’m slaying on a daily basis!  Sure, my life may not align with someone else’s picture of success, but I know where I am and where I cam from and I feel pretty good about it.  It’s all about perspective.

But sometimes, in the midst of all the chaos of being a single parent caring for three young boys and a crazy (non smoosh-faced pug) dog and a life where I always seem to be rushing,  I think about my quiet, calm alternative life.  In my head, I go to my little apartment and lean against my pillows and read with my snoring pug.  Maybe I could make a life like that when my kids are grown up?  I know that I can’t predict what will happen, but it seems like a nice possibility.  I’m ok not knowing at this point and I’m not ruling anything out. No matter where life takes me, I am absolutely certain that I’ll need comfortable things to wear.  See you soon, swoveralls!

 

 


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Resolution

I have a problem with maintenance. I’m working on it. I told this to my therapist last week and she nodded sagely. She often nods sagely and I love that about her. She is proof that I’m working on my problem with maintenance. I guess ‘maintenance’ isn’t quite the right term. Or maybe it’s that not doing maintenance is the manifestation of my real fear which is a fear of *knowing*. If you don’t check under the hood, if you don’t get the test, if you don’t look too carefully, if you don’t ask the right question…then you don’t really have to know. At least for a while. Until it blows up in your face. Which it inevitably does. You know those moments you have before you learn something that shatters you? I think about those moments in my life. They were mundane. They wouldn’t have been memorable except for what came afterwards. In 1988, in my friend’s car after a night of playing Nintendo and swimming in her sister’s pool. Pulling up to my house and laughing our goodbyes before realizing there was an ambulance in my driveway. In 1999, a phone conversation with my beloved grandfather that ended with a promise to see me soon and an “I love you, stop worrying about me.” In 2000, watching my husband walk out the door with a basketball and an “Eat dinner without me, I’ll be home in a couple of hours.” Again in 2000, a fucking devastating year I still haven’t recovered from, at a Halloween party where a man I’d briefly dated was being friendly to me instead of the usual hostility he’d shown since I’d told him I didn’t want to date him, and I was stupidly relieved and happy to accept the drink he handed me. I didn’t think I’d ever be so blissfully ignorant again. My problems with maintenance were intensified after that. I couldn’t relax, I always felt unsafe and unmoored. If I heard a rattle in the car, I turned up the radio. If there was a problem in my apartment, I moved. I had eight addresses in four years. I became petrified of going to the doctor or dentist, because what if there was a problem I couldn’t handle? When all the worst things keep happening, how can you trust that the sky isn’t about to fall on you every time you leave the house? How can you risk hearing somebody tell you that things are even worse than you feared? What if you just can’t handle ANYTHING ELSE? Better to ignore any issues, because sometimes issues just go away! After four years of living by that sensible philosophy and leaving behind some very confused boyfriends, I met someone with whom I didn’t feel alone. That was new for me. I got married again and had my sons. Weirdly, that started to steady me. It doesn’t work that way for everyone, I know. Kids aren’t exactly a calming force, but somehow, they grounded me. I still wasn’t thrilled about maintenance, but I went to the doctor. I got my car fixed. It’s best have to have a working body and car with kids. It’s good to take your kids to the doctor, too. So I did. I sunk into it for a while. I don’t know if I ever got comfortable. And yet…it hit me like a goddamn truck when the blissful ignorance of my marriage was shattered in an artfully decorated hotel room in Manhattan with a view of big wet snowflakes in the air and ballet dancers practicing in the building across from us. I left the room an hour later to walk alone in that beautiful city in the falling snow, knowing that the life I had before was over forever and I would have to do something and tell someone and ask someone to help me, but all I could do was walk for a while and feel the snow and remember that I was still breathing and my heart was still beating. It’s important to know those things. Sometimes you don’t need to know anything else. So. That was almost three years ago. Maintenance has been difficult for me again in those years. I haven’t been to the dentist in forever, I ignore my doctor at all costs, I have a plumbing problem in my shower and a toilet that needs you to lift the lid in order to stop it from running. Also my car is ten years old and has a lot of hazard lights that are always illuminated on the dash. I ignored grindy brake sounds until I needed to get a complete new set of brakes. A ridiculously expensive consequence, yet it still didn’t cure me of the maintenance problem. But this year is the year. I told my therapist (and therapy is totally maintenance, so I’m not a total failure in this regard) and now I’m telling you. My 2018 resolution is to get check-ups and get things fixed. To ask the questions and find out what I need to know to solve the problems. To know that I am strong enough to handle the answers and resourceful enough to find the solutions. I’ve got this.

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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.

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2017 Wrap Up

I decided to answer some end of the year questions again, because why the hell not? Two weeks early, but I’ve been done with 2017 for a while, although this month did bring at least one pleasant surprise, so maybe it wasn’t a total shit sandwich.

Anyway, they’re still the same questions form last year, tweaked from a list found on the All & Sundry blog many years ago, because they were some good questions. So here’s my 2017. Time to think about yours, if you’re into that sort of thing. What did you do this year and what did you learn? What do you hope next year will bring?

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before? I didn’t do too many new things this year, though I went on a long night time bike ride adventure with my friend and her hubby back in May. I’m not an experienced bike rider, so I found it kind of terrifying. I’m glad I did it. I’m not doing it again.

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

Last year’s were: I’m going to spend time with the people I adore.  I’m going to spend time alone. I’m going to write and work on things I love. I’m going to keep running regularly and participate in some races. I’m going to try not to say yes to things I don’t want out of a warped sense of obligation. I’m going to say yes to things that sound like fun to me, even if they scare me a little. I’m going to ask questions and seek answers. I’m going to say what I need to say.I’m going to keep working on building myself and my boys back up.

I’m happy to say that I did all those things. I think I’ll keep those. Still a work in progress.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. Though I did follow April the Giraffe’s labor for a while.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My aunt died in September. She was a lovely person and the last remaining member of my dad’s family. My siblings and I all went to our childhood hometown for her funeral and raised (and downed) a glass of Irish whiskey to her, as one must do to properly send off any good Irish woman.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just the USA again this year. I visited Florida, Massachusetts and New York, though. So at least I left Texas!

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
Last year I said I wanted optimism and my faith in humanity restored in 2017 and neither of those things really happened. I’ve heard 2017 described as a “dumpster fire” by multiple people and I agree with that assessment. But there have been glimmers of hope. Come on 2018!

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory?
The year started off roughly, but the Women’s March on January 21 was uplifting and invigorating. November 5th felt like a particularly good day to me. I did the 10 mile Run for the Water in the morning, and felt strong the whole time, even though it was humid as hell. My sweet boys were at the finish line cheering for me and giving me happy hugs. Then I refueled with sausage, beer, chicken dancing and friends at Wurstfest. And I slept really well that night. I love good nights of sleep. So that day stands out as a good one. December 2nd was a pretty special day for me, too :)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I was surprised by a really low and sad time that started in January and seemed to hang on for a way too long time. I think my biggest achievement this year was that I actually worked hard to get through it. My go-to for most of my life has been to hide from or run away from dark times. But I felt like I needed to face this one. It seemed like leftover grief from multiple things that I needed to work through. So I did. I wrote a lot of it down and went to therapy. I ran a lot, I spent time alone and time with my boys and my friends and I took a lot of walks. The fog started lifting in the summer and was a memory by October. That feels big to me. I feel stronger and better than I have in a long time.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I didn’t follow through with making doctor and dental appointments for myself. I took my kids, but not me. I know I have to do better with this. It’s a dumb fear and I let myself get away with not addressing it. I’m going to make myself do it next year. Probably.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A couple of stomach bugs, colds and weird rashes, but no big ones, luckily. Hence, nothing *forced* me to a doctor’s office.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought a really cute coat, in raspberry pink, my favorite color. And I got it on Thred Up so it was a steal.

12. Where did most of your money go?
My kids’ summer child care, plus Target and HEB. Oh…and some pricey car repairs on my 10 year old minivan. Blah.

13. What did you get really excited about? I was really excited about going to Houston with Madame V to visit Shakira and go see the “Guys We F*cked” podcast women, live and in person. It did not disappoint! We had the best time. I was also very excited about my Thanksgiving plans, which consisted of the Turkey Trot and chance to catch up while trotting with two dear friends, and later (post nap and brunch) a movie and FULL TURKEY DINNER at the Alamo Drafthouse with two other awesome single mom friends who were also child-free for the holiday. Then karaoke. Best Thanksgiving ever!

14. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Tom Petty’s Don’t Come Around Here No More. I know it’s from 1985. But with Tom Petty’s death this year I revisited it and played it often. My youngest son now loves it too. It is part of our current family soundtrack. And it totally fits my feeling about 2017 and much of what happened in it. I mean, see question 17. “Whatever you’re looking for… HEY! Don’t come around here no more.” Oh yes.

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

– happier or sadder? Happier
– thinner or fatter? About the same
– richer or poorer? Same

16. What do you wish you’d done more of? Getting good nights of sleep. I worried too much and stayed up into the wee hours doing it on way too many nights. I also didn’t leave Austin from late April to mid September, so I think I need to get myself out of town more next year.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of? Dating men who treated me like a consolation prize or an afterthought and were otherwise consistently underwhelming. Two in 2017, plus one unGoogleable who I’m pretty sure is a sociopath. No more, thank you.

18. How did you spend Christmas/Hanukkah/Major Holiday of your choice? I’m writing this prior to Christmas, but I have plans to spend the holidays with my kids and family in (hopefully) sunny Florida.

19. What were your favorite TV programs? I loved Glow so much. 80s music, costumes and hair, Marc Maron, Lady wrestlers….it was everything I ever wanted in a tv show. Thank you Netflix.

20. What were your favorite books you read this year? We read a lot of good ones in my real book club (as opposed to the fake one where we just drink and eat things) – The Goldfinch, The Sisters Brothers and A Gentleman in Moscow were my absolute favorites.

21. What was your favorite music you heard this year? Ah man, I have kids, so the radio in my van is always playing pop songs from former Disney child stars or Bruno Mars. And not gonna lie…I love them. So that said, my favorites this year were Selena Gomez and Kyga’s It Ain’t Me and Demi Lovato’s Sorry Not Sorry, ’cause payback is a bad bitch and baby I’m the baddest.

22. What were your favorite films you saw this year?
Ladybird was perfection. See it!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 46. Daaaaaaamn. It was a great day, despite that. I took the day off from work. Ran 10 miles, came home and got a special delivery of Bailey’s from Shakira. That girl knows me!  Also got a couple other surprise deliveries of treats, both fun and delicious.  Drank Irish coffee while watching multiple episodes of Love Boat on YouTube. Found an episode with Andy Warhol in it. That. Was. Nuts. Had pizza with my kids and some friends to round out the day. It was a very happy birthday.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not having a man who freely admits to grabbing women by the pussy (and lest we forget, those are his actual recorded words) as president would have been nice. But I think the backlash helped inspire the woman’s march and later the outing of many lecherous shitbags who’ve been getting away with harassing and assaulting women for too long. And then there was #metoo. So maybe it’s been helpful in a weird way? It’s still deeply disheartening and unsatisfying. He’s the worst.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
Librarian up to no good. Always and forever.

26. What kept you sane?
Who says I’m sane? (I’ll never answer this one differently, either)

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017. Real change requires a lot of slogging through muck. There was a lot of muck for me and many others to go through in 2017. And a whole lot of slogging. Are ‘slogging’ and ‘muck’ actual things? Well, the muck felt oppressively real to me and the slogging seemed unbearably slow and difficult, often without much in the way of tangible results.  I do feel better off in a lot of ways than I did last year at this time. And much stronger.

Boom, baby! Let’s bring on 2018!

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Me Too

It’s most of us, probably all of us, though I certainly don’t wish to speak for everyone. There is that point for many women, where we realize that the lines we’ve been handed about how anyone can be anything they want to be and have it ALL is complete and utter bullshit. Maybe the fact that we learn this so early and unequivocally is what keeps us from being as surprised and disgruntled as certain men seem to be when they don’t get their way or when something they thought they were entitled to doesn’t belong to them after all.

Women are conditioned to be nice and to give. Our time, our smiles, our attention – we learn that we’re expected to give all of this freely, to be nice, to be good, to put others’ needs and desires before our own. We learn that our bodies aren’t our own, not really. They can be touched and ogled and criticized and critiqued and legislated without our permission or consent. We learn that we need to be on guard, we need to laugh it all off convincingly, we need to deflect and protect feelings so that it doesn’t escalate. Sometimes we do this perfectly and can congratulate ourselves because we didn’t let ourselves “become a victim” and wow, that can feel good. Sometimes we fuck it all up and carry the blame and shame for something terrible we didn’t ask for and try to bury deep down so nobody will know. Or we talk about it with friends and partners and try to explain broken things that seem unexplainable and often it doesn’t seem worth it at all. And we hear in the news about so many instances of terrible things happening to women, but we also hear “what was she wearing?” and “why was she drinking?” and “what did she expect when she was out walking/running/being a person with a vagina all alone?” And we watch as our country elects a man who shows blatant and disgusting disrespect for women, even brags of assaulting them and then dismisses it as “locker room talk” or the things that all guys say, when women are not around – and we wonder if that can be true. And how do we keep moving through the world if it is? If we can’t trust the men in our lives not to laugh behind our backs and high five each other about assaulting us, how are we ever really safe? It’s disheartening, to say the least. We learn about Harvey Weinstein and read the endless awful stories and it seems a good thing that’s it’s all finally coming out, but all of those people who KNEW and did nothing, so that women had to whisper it to each other or find out about it the hard way? Well, that part is very hard to hear.

But maybe one day we decide to join all of the other brave people who are saying “me too” on Facebook and shucking shame that was never theirs to begin with and and opening up the discussion and pushing for the change that needs to happen. It’s just a little thing, but it’s a beginning. We are saying that sexual harassment and assaults happen all of the time to almost every woman you know, and many of the men as well. And it shouldn’t ever happen at all and we won’t be quiet anymore. We are saying that just because we are standing near you, existing alongside you, does not mean we are *for* you. Our bodies, our time, our attention, our smiles, our words?  They are ours and ours alone. We belong to ourselves.

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