Surviving the Death of My Father

Four weeks ago today I was awoken to the news of the death of my father.

Surviving the death of your parents is something we will all have to go through – or rather should go through, because it is the natural order of things, meaning no parent should ever have to survive the death of a child, though many do. Too many do.

But that doesn’t mean it makes it easy when your dad dies. It certainly doesn’t seem natural. Or as it “should” be. It feels like shit.

Some days I feel nothing, and by that I don’t mean that I feel numb. I feel normal, like any other day. Like a day with an alive father. And then I’ll remember that my dad has died and I still feel normal/nothing and it will occur to me that as much as I cry at sappy commercials and sad books and movies, and feel so heartbroken about the injustices others suffer, that perhaps in my own life I am an unfeeling monster who can’t even bother to take the time to be the least little bit sad that I will never see my dad again or hug him again or have him hold the door open for when when I get into his car or hear him complain about Donald Trump or how he can’t get good Mexican food in Texas and can only listen to his voice on the recordings that I have on my phone that I play over and over and over again, or that I don’t.

And then something will happen – a memory or a Fleetwood Mac song or an old man dying in a movie or waking up four weeks later not to the news that your father has died, but to the sounds of a typical Sunday – the birds chirping, the ceiling fan over your head, your husband getting up before you to walk the dog, and you will feel sadness and dread and a hole inside your heart so big that you wish that you could go back to being a monster and feel nothing again.

Now Everyone Has Masks

I have to go to Costco. Well, I don’t have to go, but I’m trying to do the shopping for my mom so she doesn’t have to go to the store and she needs some things that we typically get from there – butter, eggs, half and half. And there are some things I could use as well – also half and half, shredded cheese, more vodka.

Before I leave my house I spray a nasal saline solution into my nose. It’s supposed to help things I breathe in not stick to my nasal passage. Or so I’m told. I take Airborne to give my immune system an extra boost even though I already take Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Zinc to boost my immune system daily. I also rinse my mouth with Listerine since it’s supposed to kill germs. Maybe it will kill the germs that enter my mouth at Costco. (At the very least I won’t offend myself with the breath that I am breathing into my mask.) Because, yes. For the first time I leave my house with a mask.

It’s weird on your psyche seeing everyone wearing masks. And everyone in line at Costco is wearing some sort of mask. It makes me feel sad. In the line to get into the store I give a “can you believe this shit?” smile to the lady taking her place in line behind me, but she can’t see it. Hopefully she recognized the crinkle in my eyes. I see you. I’m smiling at you. We are in this together. And also, seriously. Can you believe this shit?

My mask is ill-fitting. The elastic isn’t quite tight enough. Not loose, but also, not quite right. But maybe I’m just not used to wearing a mask. I never want to have to be used to wearing a mask. But like the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want.”

I stand in line a full five minutes before the line moves. I don’t even know if they have what I want. There is a sign at the front of the line posting what they have. What they don’t have. But I’m at the end of the line, so I can’t see it yet.

I see someone leave with toilet paper. That’s a good sign. I don’t need any yet, but know that I’ll probably buy it anyway. Not to hoard, but to have later for down the line. (Which I guess is the  definition of hoarding.) Or maybe my mother or my brother or a neighbor will need it. I’d be happy to share.

Once the line does move, it moves fast. They let about 25 people in at a time. The line is wrapped around the building, but I don’t think I wait more than 10 minutes.

I walk past the clothing section and notice that it is completely empty. Not of clothes, but of people. The clothes are perfectly folded with not one person milling up and down the aisles. Impulse shopping for Jessica Simpson skinny jeans is not what anyone is here for. Spending more time than necessary inside, touching things you don’t need to touch, breathing things you don’t need to breath is a luxury nobody can afford. 

I head straight to the back of the store for the toilet paper. It’s so stupid. Why are people hoarding it? Am I part of the problem? I actually calculated how long it takes us to go through a package of toilet paper and we have enough for about 10 weeks. And in 10 weeks, I’m hopeful that we will be able to leave our homes more freely. But maybe not. Maybe it will be worse. I’m splitting the package with my mother anyway.

They have everything my mom needs. I’m happy that they also have shredded cheese. Last time they were out. I stock up on alcohol – wine, beer vodka, tequila. Virtual happy hour supplies. 

I split things up in the parking lot. Her half and half, my half and half, her butter, all my booze. I took some plastic bags at the rotisserie chicken station and split up the fruit – strawberries and cuties and limes.

When I get to her house she opens her garage door and I go through to her laundry room and drop off her groceries. I don’t walk past into her house to grab some mixed nuts from the bar or chocolate from the pantry. I stand in the garage and she stands back, but hands me a bag with some masks she made for me to mail to Chandler. I tell her the mask she made for me is a little loose. She goes to get another – an improved design. I try it on and it is better. We stand and talk for a few minutes in her garage, six feet plus apart. Both of us in masks. I think to myself, Can you believe this shit? But this time I don’t smile.

Social Distancing in the Time of Coronavirus

Today is day what of sheltering in place? Eight? Ten? I can google when Gavin Newsom made the shelter in place order for our state and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made the order for our county (same day), but that would surely take me down an internet rabbit hole and I’m trying to focus. Trying to write. 

I know that on March 11th I went to a restaurant with my friend Marisa. She said she was so glad we went to dinner because it helped ease her anxiety. Ironically, that’s the night the shit really hit the fan – The NBA was cancelled, The Hankses announced they had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the president held a press conference where he read from a script and yet still incorrectly stated no flights would be coming in from Europe after Friday the 13th. (Also, I know that Hankses sounds weird, but trust me Hankses is the plural of Hanks – not Hanks’. It’s grammatically correct.)

On March 12 I went to a popular bar for a going away happy hour for a coworker. (Are people who are a few ticks higher up than you on the corporate ladder, but whom you do not report to coworkers? I don’t know. Anyway.) As I was driving there it was pouring rain. I didn’t feel great about going. But I went anyway. I’m healthy. I’m good about washing my hands. I try to use a tissue or a sleeve every time I touch my face. But still. I was on two planes just eight days before. (And two planes nine days before. And a plane eleven days before. And two planes fourteen days before.) This was before the term social distancing was part of our everyday language. Before we were advised mandated to stand six feet apart. But I was still surprised that the restaurant was so crowded. But like I said. I was there too.

How’s that for a send off cake?

On Friday the 13th I went to Trader Joe’s at 11AM. I knew the president was going to issue a state of emergency at noon and I wanted to get to the market before he did that. Before they really were out of everything. I saw two women from my office there and my friend’s husband. They were already out of so many things. Pasta. Rice. Meat. Vegetarian protein. Potatoes. (And of course all paper and cleaning products.) Dog food. My favorite $9.00 bottle of Sauvingon Blanc. I bought some good cheese. And dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt. If we were going to be stuck in the house at least we could enjoy ourselves.

Where’s the beef? (And the chicken? And the pork?)

We don’t really eat fast food (In N’ Out doesn’t count!), but on Sunday, March 15th, Dave, Marley, and I walked to McDonalds for Shamrock Shake Oreo McFlurries. I wanted to bring the dog and walk and eat the McFlurries because I did not want to eat inside. Dave and Marley wanted to leave the dog home and eat inside. I brought Purell wipes and wiped down the table. Truth be told, it was too minty for me – I would have preferred my McFlurry un-shamrocked, but I ate the whole thing. The weather was cool – in the 60’s, but mostly sunny. It was a gorgeous day. There were a lot of people out walking. Families out taking a walk. I wondered aloud if there were more people than normal out for a walk at 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon. On Sunday night Newsom would shut it down – so there’s the answer to my question. It’s been a week as I write this. A week of shelter in place. I guess we were lucky – we went to a place we never go on the last day we could go there.

That’s pretty green!

Because we had McFlurries so late in the day we weren’t that hungry for dinner so we just had some cheese, a bit of salami, and wine. (And an apple. You know. To be healthy.) Sheltering in place might make me fat.

I went to work on Monday even though I could have worked from home because I knew it would be my last day going in until all of this is over. I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. Dave works at the same company as I do, but he has a desktop and had to wait until Wednesday for a laptop so he could work at home as well. 

In Nashville there is a bar called Winners that hosts a concert every Monday and Thursday night with different country artists called Whiskey Jam. Because the bar has closed for the coronavirus they’ve turned Whiskey Jam into a nightly virtual event (9:00PM CDT) on Instagram Live called Risky Jam. On Tuesday night I watched Mitchell Tenpenny, Meghan Patrick, Ryan Beaver, and Ernest perform and I was happy and my anxiety melted away for an hour.

Let’s get risky!

Wednesday night I told Marley that I didn’t feel comfortable for her to hang out with her friends. Even if it was just at someone’s house. She was angry with me (understandably), but stayed home. What she didn’t know is that I had diagnosed myself with COVID-19 (with no symptoms) that day and I didn’t want her spreading it to her friends. Dave had oral surgery on Wednesday so I made soup for dinner. Matt Nathanson did an Instagram live concert and for an hour I was happy and forgot that my daughter hated me and the soup I made wasn’t my best and that I had coronavirus. 

On Thursday morning I got up and took the dog for a run and knew that if I had coronavirus I could never do that. (I was cured!) Dave had a second oral surgery. It was our 26th wedding anniversary and instead of a nice steak and a good bottle of wine we had pasta and our favorite $11 everyday wine. Love in the time of coronavirus.

Happy anniversary to us.

On Friday at 2:00 a few people on my team had a 40 minute virtual happy hour. I made myself a vodka and juice drink that wasn’t quite a martini, but I put it in a martini glass. It was pretty and tasty and pink. There were five of us on the video call and it made me happy and again I felt lucky that I work with really great people that I like and love so much. I barbecued hamburgers for dinner and Marley started speaking to me again. I watched Hardy and Devon Dawson and Lauren Alaina on the Instagram Live Risky Jam and my heart felt full with happiness and love and togetherness. I love that these house concerts are popping up to lift people’s spirits. They truly lift mine.

On Saturday we wanted to go for a hike, but when we got to the trail it was closed, so we went to the beach. The weather was beautiful. Perfect, actually. I thought I took a lot of pictures, but I took almost none. We walked on the walking path because we had our dog. It wasn’t crowded, but also it wasn’t dead. Again, I wondered if there were more people than usual on a cool March day since kids can’t play sports or go to birthday parties or go to the mall. It was nice to be in the fresh air. To be in nature. (Later I saw pictures on the news of Malibu and Huntington Beach being packed. We were at Zuma and it wasn’t like that. Nothing like that.) 

Social distancing at Zuma Beach.

At 4:30 I had a virtual happy hour with some of my best girlfriends. We haven’t all been together in over a year. Funny how being apart is the thing that brought us together. A couple hours in, the husbands joined the party. Dave and I had cheese and wine again for dinner. We’re going to meet again virtually next weekend and attempt to play Cards Against Humanity. We’ll see how that goes.

Virtual Happy Hour

This morning I went for a run with my dog. He loves to run, but he’s not the best behaved dog and is a terrible running partner. We crossed paths with a woman with two dogs. I said hello as I was coming upon her and she ignored me. As we were running past her, my dog lunged at her dogs, crossing my path and causing me to trip over him. I yelled as I came tumbling down and she never looked back. Didn’t ask if I was okay. I’m going to assume it’s because she didn’t see me fall (and must have had earbuds in, so didn’t hear me yell) and not because she thought I was a coronavirus carrying zombie. I cleaned the house today. (My house is cleaner than it’s ever been and no one can come over to see it.) I baked banana bread. My writing group had a virtual creativity session at 2:00 where we all dedicated one hour to working on something – writing, editing, practicing yoga, etc. I’m being productive. I wrote this. It’s the first thing I’ve written in a long, long while. 

The coronavirus is worse than terrible. Possibly the worst thing ever. And the worst is truly yet to come. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more than a little bit scared. And yet – the humanity has been so wonderful. (Well, other than the blind-ear-bud-wearing-corona-virus-zombie-fearing dog walking woman.) The Instagram Live concerts truly fill my music loving heart with joy. Virtual happy hours make me feel connected even when we are forced apart. And I wrote! (And my house is clean!) This is really hard. And is really terrible. But we will get through it. Together. Even when we have to remain apart.

This morning there was a rainbow outside my front door. If that’s not a good sign, I don’t know what is. (Stay well, friends.)

Looking Back on 2019

My husband would like you to know that the new decade does not start until next year – 2021, so everybody needs to calm down. (Because, you know, year one started at one, not at zero, so decades start with ones and end with zeros, not start with zeros and end with nines.)

Of course I pointed out to him that whether it is a new decade or not, it is now the 2020’s and no longer the 2010’s, so maybe focus on that. Nobody likes a know-it-all.

One thing I do know is that I don’t have the energy (or the attention span) to focus on the past decade whether it’s come to an end or not. But if I were to give some brief highlights of the past 10 years (I know, I know – brevity is not my strength) these few things come to mind:

I started the decade with a child in middle school and a child in elementary school and now I have a college graduate and a college student.

I had a book published.

I ran two 10Ks. (I never in my life thought I’d ever run a 5K.)

10K runner
There I am, getting ready to run my first 10K.

I became a country music fan (which, believe me, 10 years ago I would have found even more unlikely than becoming a runner).

Old Dominion Meet And Greet
Hot country rockstars & happy me!

I turned 50. (Which is both awesome and terrible. But mostly awesome. Mostly.)

50-and-Fabulous
I’m 50 and I’m Fabulous!

But more than anything I learned that when I set my mind on something and work hard and focus, I can accomplish it. It may not turn out as planned, but I can do it. I have the power to make things happen. (We all do.) I just have to remind myself to set goals and focus rather than get bogged down by my inner-laziness and the general minutiae of daily life.

But again… I’m not reflecting on the 2010’s. I’m reflecting on 2019. And the minutiae of my life last year.

On the first day of this year I ran away and hid from my family and read over my happiness journal – my calendar where I write down the happiest moment of my day. And I have to tell you – some days are shit and it’s hard to find a happy moment. And some days are so great, that all of it is my happy moment. But most days are in between. I wouldn’t call them boring. Just… ordinary. And so my happy moments are often the same – dinner with Dave and Marley, sleeping in my own bed after a trip, a wonderful meal during a trip, the inspiration and love I feel from my writers’ group (even though I haven’t really been writing this year), happy hour with friends, walking my dog.

Here are some of the moments that stuck out for me as I read my calendar. Some of them big. Most of them quite small. All of them the sum of the parts that make up a happy life.

January 17 – First Writers’ Group of the year. What a happy heart that gives me. Especially at the end when we lit a candle and set our intention for the year. How lucky and grateful I am to be part of this tribe of women.

January 29 – I went to Trader Joe’s after work and the sunset was beautiful. I heard a girl working there say to one of her co-workers, “Go look at the sunset. Trust me.” He went to look and afterwards told her, “Thank you. That was beautiful.”

February 7 – Happy hour with Debbie, Jeannie. and Linda. When we were leaving Jeanne hugged me so tightly and said, “I was really looking forward to seeing your face. I told Jimmy I was seeing a playgroup mom tonight.” Playgroup days were the best days and old friends are the best friends.

February 28 – Landed at LAX. Home! When I came down the escalator to the exit I saw a family waiting anxiously for a loved one at the bottom and a guy waiting for someone as well. The girl in front of me dove into his arms and they gave each other the biggest embrace. I felt like I was in the middle of Love Actually.

March 24 – Playgroup mom mini-reunion. Chandler and his first best friend Katie were reunited. Seeing them catch up and catching up with some of my first mom friends filled my heart with love and happiness.

March 26 – I finally saw Matt Nathanson last night and it was everything I thought it would be and more. It was AMAZING. (He’s also very funny.)

If you ever have the chance to see Matt Nathanson live, do it. He is amazing.

April 15 – I put a picture of Marley when she was five on my phone as the screensaver. She is on the pumpkin patch field trip and she is just done. She looks so cute and it makes me so happy every time I look at it.

This girl is done!

May 5 – I met Dave Grohl and got my picture taken with him. The end!

Look how happy Dave Grohl is to meet me!

May 12 – Marley gave me a thoughtful present and lovely Mother’s Day card. She does appreciate me and I love her so much.

May 20 – Seeing Chandler walk across the stage at his graduation ceremony and hearing his name called. He had the hugest smile on his face. His happiness shined through.

I realize he is not walking across the stage in this photo, but those photos were blurry AF.

June 8 – I spent the day with Rita in Ventura. All of it. I’m so blessed to have this friendship.

June 16 – At the end of Concerts in the Park I was watching the families with small kids running around, playing – knowing they didn’t realize how quickly this season of their lives would pass. I was filled with such a feeling of calmness and happiness and nostalgia. It was almost overwhelming. I wanted to hug the feeling and hold it tightly forever.

June 26 – I walked Geordie through the park tonight. There was a father and son playing baseball, a mother doing a word search puzzle while her son played on the jungle gym, a family having a picnic on a blanket, and a woman laying on the grass playing with her little dog. And not one of them was on their phone.

July 5 – I drove up to Cheryl’s house in Sacramento and I finally met my longtime blogging friend, Kim Sisto Robinson in person and she is as down to earth and lovely as I knew she’d be.

Look at these beauties – my longtime skirt! blogging friends Kim & Cheryl.

August 3 – Beach with Rita. My first time this summer just hanging out at the beach. Stepping onto the sand and smelling the ocean and the sunscreen just filled my heart with joy.

August 23 – Driving from Knoxville to the Cumberland Gap. What a gorgeous drive. I played music from my phone through the car stereo and took in the beauty. I kept thinking how Chandler would have loved that drive.

September 1 – Just me and Marley for dinner. We played 3 games of Rummy Tile afterwards. She beat me twice! GRRRR! This competitive mama does not like that! But it was so nice to spend the night with her.

September 23 – Chandler snuck home at 3AM. I had no idea. Seeing him walk into the den and say, “What’s for breakfast, Mom?” was the best surprise ever.

October 8 – Marley got an A on her Women’s History test and she was so happy and so proud of herself. (And so was I.)

November 12 – Listening to Bean’s last show on the Kevin & Bean podcast. So many memories. I’ve been listening to that show for over half my life.

December 9 – The fall colors have been making me so happy. I thought fall had passed us by, but it’s here and it’s glorious.

December 31 – We ate too much and drank too much and binge-watched The Politician (Ryan Murphy at his best). The kids were in and out – mostly out – and it was nothing fancy or exciting, but it was nice to know that this is my life. I have enough. I am content.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. This was a long one. (I know. I know. They’re all long ones.) I hope your 2019 (and your 2010’s) was full of more happy moments then sad ones and you’ve been able to take the time to reflect on them. I’d love to hear what some of them are.

Here’s to love and laughter in 2020 and beyond.

Crossing Paths

When my son was in elementary school I became friendly with a mom and we realized that we had some mutual friends when we were in college. And by mutual friends I mean that she married her college boyfriend, who was a good friend of a guy that I dated. In fact, we realized that we were at the same New Year’s Eve party in nineteen-eighty-something. (Eighty-seven maybe. I think. Doesn’t matter.) It was just funny to realize that we were at the same party and had no idea. We didn’t meet. Or if we did we didn’t remember, but what are the odds that our paths would cross again fifteen years later?

There’s a truck in my neighborhood I see all the time. I know it’s the same truck because it’s neon yellow with a huge Ford label on the front doors. It’s hard to miss. The person who owns it goes to my gym and is usually pulling up at 6:30 AM just as I’m leaving. (Yes, I’m leaving the gym at 6:30 AM because I am a crazy person who hates herself and gets up before the sun.)

Now that wouldn’t be unusual to see this truck most days when I leave the gym. We each have a routine. Mine is a 5:30 workout and his is a 6:30 workout. But I’ve seen this truck drive down the main street in my town. I’ve seen it parked at the elementary school down the street from my house. I’ve seen it parked in the complex where my mechanic is. It’s like this dude is stalking me. (Or maybe I’m stalking him.)

I’m sure you’ve seen this before too. Maybe there’s a car with a specialized license plate, or an unusual classic car, or Angelyne’s pink Corvette that drives by you and you think to yourself, “I’ve seen that car before.”

But it makes me wonder. How many cars do I cross paths with on a daily basis that I’m actually crossing paths with on a daily basis?

It was my birthday earlier this month. (Thank you – I said thank you, because I’m assuming you all said, “Happy Birthday” in you head as you read that. Anyway…) I had the day off work and decided to bring the book I’m reading to a restaurant and treat myself to a solo lunch (and a margarita).

As I was standing at the hostess stand waiting to be seated I looked at the woman standing next to me and thanks to the “People You May Know” feature on Facebook (you know, those pictures that pop up in your feed of friends of friends that they suggest you friend?) recognized her as my son’s girlfriend’s mother. (In his last semester of college my son met a girl he went to high school with but did not know in high school and they started dating – talk about crossing paths!) I introduced myself to her and told her how I recognized her. We chatted for a few minutes while she was waiting for her friend and talked about our kids and funny coincidences. (To intensify the serendipitousness of our meeting – she and her friend were meeting to celebrate their birthdays too.)

If she hadn’t popped up in my Facebook feed we would have been at that restaurant at the same time having no idea the other was there. It makes me think of a scene in a movie where you know two characters are in the same place at the same time, but they don’t know they’re in the same place at the same time.

And because I love a good cliché, it really is a small world. Especially when you live in a small town.

I suppose it’s not so unusual that two women who live in the suburbs of Los Angeles who both went to college in Los Angeles would discover that they were at the same party many years ago. Or that my routine would be similar to someone else’s in my neighborhood. Or that I would choose to celebrate my birthday at the same restaurant as my son’s girlfriend’s mother.

We all run into people we know all the time -at the market, at the movie theater, at happy hour- we stop and say hi and then go on with our day and think nothing about it except maybe, “That was nice, running into so-and-so.”

But think of the people we unknowingly, but repeatedly cross paths with – people we may know in the future or may never know. Maybe it’s someone who leaves your gym everyday just as you are pulling into the parking lot. Or someone at your office park who always parks one aisle over from you. Or the person who likes to go to Trader Joe’s on Sundays at 4:30 PM just like you, even though it’s the worst time to go to Trader Joe’s because they’re out of everything, and you’ll just have to make another trip on your way home from work on Monday.

When I think of all these people that I cross paths with, maybe only once, maybe countless times, and the people they cross paths with and the people they cross paths with – it makes me feel that we’re all connected. And that it really is a small world.

And I think that’s nice.

Some Things I Did Last Week

Last Monday I climbed these stairs.

Four times.

There are 377 of them. That’s 1508 steps. But I also climbed them four times the week before and every time we go we do a little bit more so I climbed 50 more. Plus if you really want a 100% accurate count (you do, don’t you?) there are two extra steps at the top before the fence cuts off the last flight that I climbed as well as sort of a bonus, so I climbed 1568 steps total.

And yet. My jeans are still tight.

Rude.

I talked to my son on the phone four different days (once twice in one day!) and texted with him every day. That is a new world record for us. When he went away to college he made it clear to us that he was an adult who was ready to lead his own life and certainly didn’t need his parents anymore. (Probably because we didn’t have any money.) He would call once a week (if we were lucky) for a perfunctory “check in” call that would last five to ten minutes.

But the last year of school, his calls sometimes came a little more often and were definitely more enjoyable. He actually seemed to like talking to us. He’d tell us funny stories or we’d discuss current events. Sometimes these calls would last for an hour.

This week he called to tell us about his new job, ask for advice, or just to tell us things that were happening. It made my sadness (mostly) go away.

I watched Dance Moms with my husband and daughter. God that show is a train wreck and I kind of hated myself for enjoying it so much because surely there are so many things I could have been doing that would have been more productive. But sometimes mindless fun is exactly what we need.

I spent Saturday with my best friend on Main Street in Ventura. We drank and ate and shopped and walked. The weather was beautiful and it was a perfect day.

I found this shirt in a thrift shop:

I texted my daughter: I think I have to buy it.

She texted back: I think the law is you have to buy it.

To which I responded: The Supreme Court has ruled yes.

I consciously practiced gratefulness every day. I kind of do this already, when I sit down to write about my happy moment for the day, but I took it to another level for a project I am participating in by focusing on a person that makes me happy (and stretching beyond my son, my daughter, my husband (hmmm… did I ever write my husband???) to a coworker I like to gossip with or the cashier at Trader Joe’s who is always so friendly), a place that makes me happy (you know, other than my bed) and something that gave me pleasure (a glass of wine, dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt, Dance Moms).

To throw a cliche (or perhaps a few) at you – the days are long, but the years are short. And it turns out that every day is not actually an adventure. But I’m trying to seek out the extraordinary in my ordinary days. Or at least the little bits that make me smile. Or the bits that are hard and terrible (because, I have to be honest, those stairs are pretty hard and terrible), but still so great because I did something hard and terrible and lived to tell about it.

I can’t stop even the most ordinary of days from slipping by so fast. But I can take the time to reflect on them.

What are some things that you did last week?

The Knowing and the Not Knowing

I saw Pete Yorn play an acoustic set at the Troubadour recently and it was sublime. I told a couple of people at work that I was going to see him to which they responded, “I don’t know who that is.” It was all I could do not to cry for them. I mean, anyone who didn’t spend the early 2000’s wallowing in musicforthemorningafter and Day I Forgot on repeat truly missed out.

“If you heard Strange Condition you’d know who he is,” I told them.


Judy Greer was there and  I saw her buying merch and she was so excited to get her Pete York t-shirt. She was seriously adorable. My friend Lisa who I went to the show with didn’t know who she was. If you don’t know who Judy Greer is, she’s one of those working actresses that you recognize when you see them on TV or in a movie and think to yourself, “Where do I know her from?” and it drives you so crazy you have to pull up IMDB on your phone immediately because you cannot wait one second more to figure out where you know her from.


So maybe that was the theme of the night – knowing, but not knowing.

My friend Lisa may not know who Judy Greer is but she loves Pete Yorn (almost) as much as I do and spent the early part of her 2000’s not missing out by listening to his albums on repeat. It’s better to see a show with someone who loves the music as much as you do if possible.

The Troubadour is tiny, but it was packed. (Of course it was packed. Pete Fucking Yorn was playing the Troubadour!) We stood to the side of the stage so we could be close and feel the breeze from the door (because a packed Troubadour equals a hot Troubadour) and we lucked out because we were standing right behind his parents. He was a good son and acknowledged them and made sure they were comfortable and talked about them and thanked them for being there which made me love him even more than I already do (and trust me the way that I love him has nothing to do with him being a good son if you know what I’m saying).

I mean it would be easy to love Pete Yorn because he’s beautiful.


Obviously.

But that’s not why I love him. (Okay, maybe it is a little.)

And the reason I love him is also not because of his songwriting. Though his songwriting is amazing. Truly.

I don’t miss you, still I will take a car to be with you
I don’t know you, of course you think you know me
I don’t want you
So why should I compete with other guys?
I don’t love you, no
I think I’ll take a long way down from here

(Guess what – he loves her.)

The reason I love him is because of the yearning. In his voice. In the way he strums his guitar. This dude is yearning for more. Even in his song about a burrito (which is not really about a burrito at all even though the song title is Burrito) the yearning is there.

In the knowing there’s more to come.

Or not knowing if there’s more to come.

Or knowing everything is perfect and not knowing how long it will last.

Random Thoughts from 20,000 Feet (or However High Planes Fly)

It is 10:42 Mountain Time on Tuesday and I am on a plane from Burbank to Denver. Soon I will land and I will get an hour of my life back. Funny how time works like that.

The woman sitting next to me has been typing away at her laptop for most of the flight. Maybe she’s a writer. A real writer who actually writes. I don’t know because she’s at the window and I’m on the aisle, an empty seat between us. We smiled politely at each other, said some pleasantries, but it seems nobody talks on planes anymore.

Except for my trip out to Denver. There were two women across from me talking excitedly the whole time, as if they were lifelong friends, and yet somehow I knew they had just met. They talked and laughed and I heard one of them say the F word when she told a story. They were comfortable with each other. After we deplaned I used the bathroom (as I always do) and saw one of them alone – my intuition confirmed. Fast friends for two and a half hours, likely never to speak again. How nice for them to have passed the time of the flight in such a lovely way.

I finally finished East of Eden on this flight. My friend Laurel calls it The Great American Novel. It took me two months to read because it’s six hundred and two dense pages and I’m a slow reader who never takes the time to read. She loves Samuel Hamilton so much. Adores him. The greatest character every written, she said. She might not have said that. My memory is shit these days. I loved Lee. I found him the most wonderful. I liked the book, but I didn’t love it like she did. It’s too soon to say if it will stay with me or not, but I think maybe not. I wasn’t sad that it was over like I was with Pride or Prejudice (if we’re talking about books that are dense) and it was lovely but I didn’t find it heartbreakingly beautiful (like The Goldfinch if we’re talking long-ass books that take two months to read). Maybe my original assessment of John Steinbeck was right – he’s fine, but I don’t love him.

And so that brings me back to this flight. I should have paid for the internet and worked. That would have been the best use of my time. And since it’s a work day and I’m on a work trip, probably appreciated by my company and my boss. But I worked all day Saturday and was away from home on Sunday (though I did not work and had an awesome day that was both relaxing and fun-filled), so we’ll call it comp time.

I’m writing because I made a writing goal at my last writing group – to write two blog posts. The meeting is Saturday and I’ve not written one yet. I don’t know what to write about anymore. I said at my writing group recently that I no longer have anything to say that anyone wants to hear. Kim says that she doesn’t think that’s true, but I think she might be wrong. Because I’m just writing down my random thoughts on a plane and not one of them was funny and who would ever want to read that?

Reflections of 2018

Is it too late to write a blog post where I reflect upon 2018? (Is it reflect upon or reflect on? I don’t know. I’m too lazy to look it up. Anyway…)

Probably.

In fact, I think it’s one of the reasons I was never successful as a blogger. Well, there are many reasons. But I won’t bore you with all of them today. (And yes, boring you is probably one of them. Whatever. Moving on.)

It’s because I was never very topical. Whatever the topic of the day (hour, minute) other bloggers were writing about, I was always late to the party. I tend to let things like life and family (and general blaziness) get in the way of getting my butt in the chair to write.

I did sit down the first day of the year to relax and read my 2018 Happiness Journal to reflect on (upon?) the year that had just passed us and to set an intention for the year ahead.

Some wonderful things happened in 2018. Chandler turned 21. Marley turned 18, graduated high school and went on a trip to London and Edinburgh. I went to Stagecoach for the 6th year in a row and was back up in the VIP section. (Whoo Hoo!) I took on new responsibilities at work and got to travel to Las Vegas, Vancouver, Denver, Illinois, Texas (twice), Washington (twice), and Nashville. (Nashville! Squee!) Dave joined me on the Denver trip to mix pleasure with business and my friend Rita joined me when the work part of my Nashville trip ended and I extended the trip into an awesome girls’ weekend.

And some unspeakably terrible things happened. The Borderline shooting. The sad and sick truth is that everyone in this country knows what it feels like to wake up to the news of a mass shooting. But I have to tell you something. When it happens in your town it feels different. Because you were just at that nightclub having the time of your life two weeks beforehand. Because it was College Night and at least three of your friends had kids who were invited to go to the club but didn’t (thank God).  Because your daughter knew one of the twelve people who were murdered. It’s different. And for those of you who don’t live here I hope it’s a difference you never have to feel.

And then less than 24 hours later the Woolsey Fire raged through our town. Before we had a chance to get over the shock of the shooting (let alone even begin the process of grieving) we had to evacuate our homes. My family was lucky. The fire came to our back hill, but not to our house. Just down the street, starting four doors down there are three houses that suffered damage. Some of my friends are still displaced due to damaged homes. Some of my friends lost their homes completely.

backyard burn marks after woolsey fire
My hill after the fire – if you look closely at the Eucalyptus tree, you can see where it was on fire.

When I reflect on (I actually think I can use on or upon) 2018 I think a lot about luck. I’m lucky that I was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m lucky that the wind did not shift towards my house when the fire was on my back hill. I’m lucky to live in a community that has grown stronger in the wake of two terrible tragedies.

Every morning I try to sit down a think about the day before and focus on the one small (or sometimes big) moment that made me happiest. It teaches me to be grateful when life is stressful or busy or boring or wonderful or even terrible. To find light even when the tunnel is so long and so, so dark. And to not take for granted the light that shines brightly when it does so many days (weeks, months) in a row.

Here are some of my 2018 happy moments:

January 5 I took the day off work and spent it with Chandler. We went shopping and had a sushi lunch and visited Tom and Lisa. At the end of the day he hugged me and said thank you and that he liked spending the day with me.

February 8 I wore bright Kelly green pants and a pink shirt to work today and it made me feel cheery.

February 17 Dinner at Larson’s with Dale. It was so great to see her. She’s such an awesome person and I need to be a better friend and see her more often.

March 9 Writers’ Group at Julie’s. And Lexi was there – yay! Julie gave us HER BOOK! Holding Lily in my own hands filled me with so much joy!

March 14 Watching Marley’s speech on National Student Walkout Day. My daughter is a rockstar.

national student walkout day speech
A rockstar in the making.

April 6 I was walking Geordie and a saw a man coming home from work. When he opened his door I heard a little boy yell, “Daddy!” Oh how I remember that. Such joy! How wonderful!

April 21 Writers’ Group was brought to a whole other level – karaoke! I sang Lady Antebelum’s A Kiss Goodnight and it was magic!

April 27 Stagecoach. Those first steps walking into the pit and the excitement of the beat of the music pounding in my chest.

midland stagecoach
My view of Midland in the pit at Stagecoach. You’re welcome.

May 20 My mom had a 100 year party for my grandparents and I had a happy/sad moment when I realized how much my grandmother would have loved that party – to be honored like that. I miss them.

June 8 Hugging Chandler. Breakfast with Chandler. The four of us in one room. Chandler is home.

June 15 Marley graduated high school. Hearing her name called was sublime. She was so happy and proud of herself. And I’m so happy for her.

graduation cap and gown
Look out world, here she comes.

July 5 Dinner alone at the hotel bar in Vancouver. A cute bartender/server. Delicious food. An eight ounce glass of wine. Heaven.

July 14 Hanging with Dave in Denver. Reconnecting. So nice to have a mini-vacay.

August 2 Talking to Marley after dinner about music and watching her eyes light up. Priceless.

August 19 Concerts in the Park with Mary. Drinking Sangria. Talking to friends. Loving my town.

September 23 Breakfast tacos with Rhiannon. A long solo walk on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Wine at an airport bar. I had a lovely, lovely day.

October 19 Borderline with Rita, Keri, and Linda for Jerrod Niemann. Country music – even when you don’t know the songs it makes you feel so good. (This one really breaks my heart.)

borderline
Our last night at Borderline.

November 5 My dad and I had to run an errand and he opened the car door for me and I remembered that is something that he does. Such a small gesture, but so nice and it made me happy to have stirred up that memory.

November 18 When I got home from writing group (after midnight) Marley and Hunter had made a very elaborate fort and were laying in it watching TV. Oh how I love that!

December 23 There was a time in the afternoon when we were all together in the house. Marley and I were baking cakes and I just had such a warm, happy feeling that we were all together. Home.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of when you reflect on (or upon) 2018?

backyard after the woolsey fire
My backyard last week – new growth (and hope) after the fire.

Sipping in the Suburbs at Sipurbia

Last weekend was reserved for two things: unpacking my living room and going to Sipurbia. My living room has been in boxes since we had our floors redone last year and I needed to get it unpacked and put back together once and for all. (Yes, I said last year, but it was December. And I’m a busy person. So shut up.)

sunday funday at wine and beer tasting event sipurbia
Sunday Funday at #Sipurbia

 

But we were hit with an unexpected flood (I guess all floods are unexpected) due to a home plumbing repair gone wrong. So instead of returning my living room to its former glory, I spent most of the weekend mitigating the damage of the flood. Which included (but was definitely not limited to) emptying all of the books off five floor to ceiling book shelves. And then re-shelving them. (Thank you, Mom and Aunt Debbie – I couldn’t have done it without you.)

But this is not a story about the flood, or the brand new floorboards that need to be replaced (not all of them – just a few), or my disaster living room that keeps me from having company over to my house.

It’s a story about an unlimited wine and beer tasting event called Sipurbia.

Because who says no to that? (Not me!)

So, on Sunday afternoon when we finished our damage control (with the help of my mom and step-dad – again, THANK YOU!), instead of tackling the living room or (you know,) resting, we decided to go to Sipurbia as we had originally planned.

Because as my mom said to me Sunday morning, “You like to do everything.” And she is not wrong. (I like to have fun.)

Sipurbia was held just a few miles away from my house at Paramount Ranch, a national park where they have filmed literally hundreds of movies and TV shows including American Sniper (which must be why my friend Karin saw Bradley Cooper in Westlake Village a few years ago, because why the hell else would he be in Westlake Village?) and HBO’s Westworld. Plus the event benefited an awesome charity called the BumbleBee Foundation, so the beer and wine weren’t the only things there to make you feel good!

Westworld Church Paramount Ranch
Selfie time in front of the Westworld church.

Because I am a nice wife I acquiesced volunteered to drive, so my wine drinking was limited, but my lucky husband’s beer drinking was unlimited. (Very unlimited – everyone was extremely generous with their pours.) My favorite wine was Cielo (so good) and Dave’s favorite beer was Santa Monica Brew Works (he thinks – remember his beer tasting was unlimited).

In addition to taking selfies, we stopped by the cutest photo booth in the world, Shutter Bus Co. and posed for some fun photo booth photos.

VW Bus Shutter Bus Co Photo Booth
Seriously, how cute is this photo booth?

 

I drank a little more wine. Dave drank a lot more beer. We shopped at the stalls and danced to the Spazmatics, which everyone knows is the best 80’s cover band on the planet.

Spazmatics best 80's cover band in the world
Day drinking meets day dancing – what could be better?

 

And we ran into a bunch of our friends. Including my friend Kim (AKA Agoura Hills Mom) and her husband Stewart.

suburban friends at sipurbia
One of these days we’ll learn to take selfies without cutting half of someone’s face off. (Sorry, Kim!)

 

Who knew life in the suburbs could be so fun. (Actually, I totally knew that.)

When we were talking about our weekends at the office on Monday a twenty-two year old said to me, “You have the most fun life.” (I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m trying.)

A co-worker (much) closer to my age said, “You are always doing something. You have really embraced this age.” (I don’t know if that’s true either. But I’m trying.)

And while my house (and quite possibly my life) might be a total disaster, one thing is for sure: I’m definitely having fun.