the dark

By 9pm, I have nothing left to give. That sounds melodramatic and overwrought and it’s not as bad as all that. I’m simply tired and I can sit at my desk and look at my monitor, but my brain won’t collaborate with me on critical thinking or analysis or anything that would actually reduce the pile of work. Until the end of last year, I could push through, get a second wind, but that ability has been switched off completely. It’s like the universe built a dam in November 2011. The river was torrential; now it’s dry.

I can hear my therapist in my head. “You’ve been working since 8am. It’s now 9pm. It’s Sunday. Of course you can’t work anymore.” But it never used to be this way.

I want to go to sleep RIGHT NOW so I can wake up early and finish up that which I’m neglecting tonight. But I’ll only toss and turn and at 5am, I’ll still be exhausted. I could do something frivolous: read maybe. But that seems like throwing time away. Time I can never get back.

But I keep thinking that things are better.

Is it better?

Last night, like most nights, I had nightmares. I woke up at 3am from dreams of being a child, trapped under rubble; hunted by a murderer. Again. I don’t even watch movies or read books about being trapped and hunted and murdered so where does this even come from?

I sometimes think this must be where horror writers get their material. They dream their plots and terrors and write it all down. But I don’t want to write it down. I want to forget it all as soon as possible. To fall asleep and dream of peaceful things. To not be afraid of the dark.

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my brain is finding a title too difficult to think about

When I first experienced the transformative event, doctors recommended I take some time off. And by recommended, I mean they commanded it. My primary doctor told me I needed to take off at least a month and strongly hinted that if I didn’t, he might not be willing to be my doctor anymore as he can’t heal someone who won’t take the prescribed medicine. (He, of course, said this in the very nicest way possible, both because he’s an exceptionally nice person and because I was sobbing my eyes out every time I saw him due to aforementioned transformative event.)

The doctor at the expensive spa in the desert recommended three months. Don’t take on anything new, he said. Say no to everything.

I just read Out of the Blue, a book about the unexpected onset of a major depressive episode and the resulting fallout. The author was also advised to stop working completely to aid recovery and to take time to travel.

Part of what happens is that your brain is in complete fight or flight mode and every tiny stressor triggers an extreme reaction (in my case, flight). I would flinch at noises, at cars driving by. A ringing phone, a voice mail to return, deciding what to make for dinner — anything could cause me to panic, to feel trapped and claustrophobic, to feel an overwhelming need to escape.

This state overwhelms your brain and every decision becomes too much. You get lost driving down your own block. You have no idea how to estimate what time to leave your house to get to appointments on time. Someone asks if you want a cup of tea. You have no idea.

So yes, taking time off is probably a good idea. If you can reduce the stressors, perhaps recovery comes a bit more easily.  And traveling can make you feel as though you are escaping, a bit, and lets you stop thinking about all of those day to day obligations.

I, like the author of the book, had the luxury of being able to stop working for a while, and to travel. I realize that most people don’t have that luxury and I’m grateful to be in the position I am.

The book is in part about the author’s fight for paid sick leave. Of course, paid sick leave wasn’t an option for me. I own my company. If I don’t work, the company brings in considerably less revenue. And I still need to pay my employees. And my office rent. And my Amazon Web Services bill.

I had the luxury of being able to take nearly two months off almost entirely (although I was only able to go offline completely for eight days). Looking at my P&L, I cringe to see the numbers in red for those months, as they’re the only months in the company’s history that we weren’t profitable.

But, if I look at the larger trend, I can see that the time off is actually helping us make more money, as I was able to refocus our energies on what’s most profitable. And even more importantly, I honestly had no choice. Had I not taken the time, the company definitely would be less profitable as I likely would have collapsed in a heap that the company may not have been able to recover from.

I realized, too, that I need to accelerate our plans for more scalable endeavours that rely less on me. If I take a month off, the company shouldn’t have to effectively shut down. I’d been trying to move the company in this direction for several years, but so many things kept getting in the way. Now I know that I can’t let those things get in the way. Even if it means temporarily seeing those red numbers on spreadsheets.

I’m significantly better than I was, when it was all I could do to get out of bed, when I counted down the minutes to the end of the day when I could take another Xanax and try to sleep. And I want to be entirely better. But the truth is that I’m not entirely better.

I still find it a herculean feat to focus on anything. I look at a list of projects and tasks and dates and none of it makes sense to me. And I sit here and try to force myself to take things one tiny thing at a time.

Which in itself is hard for me, because I’m so used to absorbing everything into my brain, sorting it all out, and getting everything done.

I don’t know what the answer is. My psychologist says the answer is patience. That I am better and will continue to get better. I don’t expect that I will ever be stress-free. That I will reach a moment when I’ll never feel anxiety or hopelessness.

Mostly, I just want to be able to think. To have my brain work the way it used to. To not feel so exhausted all of the time. To not be overwhelmed and panicked by simple things.

How much rest do I need before I stop feeling so tired?

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The Life of A Writer

I’m reading a book by a comedian and he starts the book by talking about the book proposal process. He sends in the proposal to his editor, who hates it, thinks it’s a terrible idea.  But the editor doesn’t say that. Instead, his reply is like, “this is SUPER interesting, but maybe it could be slightly less suicidal sounding? You know because people will think they’re buying a humor book? But don’t want to stifle your creative vision. Just a suggestion!”

And then his manuscript is incredibly late, years late practically. And his editor says, “it would be great to get that manuscript. Just whenever you can. Don’t want to rush you. But you know, it was due in 1997. So, maybe soon.”

And you read that and you think ha ha. Funny. But actually, no. This is exactly what the book writing process is like. Seriously, anyone with low self esteem should just become a writer.

My editor wants me to write another book and I’m gathering together my notes to put together an outline and a proposal. Even when the publisher asks you to write the book, you still have to submit a proposal and they have to approve it. It makes you wonder how in the world anyone who submits an unsolicited proposal can possibly ever get a book published when much of the time they reject your proposal even when it was their idea.

But anyway, looking over the email discussions with my editor about this book proposal, I apparently told him I would get it to him in February. As in it’s now June. And the proposal is only one page long. The mind-boggling thing is that they want me to write the book at all if a single page is already four months late.

You would expect my editor to be irritated. Maybe say “fuck you; you get no book deal”. (Yes, he would probably use a semicolon after the “fuck you”. He’s a senior editor at a huge publishing company!) But no. His emails say things like “what obstacles can I help you overcome to finish this proposal?” I figure if I tell him the obstacles are cute kitten pictures on the internet and new episodes of Cougar Town, I wouldn’t seem very professional.

He really hated my original idea for the book. I can tell this because his email in reply to my pitch started out exactly the same way the comedian described his editor’s response (maybe we have the same editor? probably not): “can you tweak that idea to…” and then ends with “Your idea sounds very interesting! I don’t want to come across as too negative!”

So, I’m sitting here in my pajamas. Trying to remember that great idea I thought I had for a book everyone would buy. And I’m writing this instead. The worst part is that I don’t even feel bad or like I’m procrastinating because this entry is book related. My brain uses any trick it can. Well, my editor’s been waiting since February. What’s a few more days after all.

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We couldn’t look directly at the sun or we might go blind. I was scared. I didn’t want to be blind. We were all gathered on my grandparents’ back patio, where much later I sat with them and smoked cigarettes and tried not to talk about cancer, and where later still I drank whiskey with my uncle and wondered how the family would stay together without my grandparents and their house to keep us there. (Turns out, we just didn’t.)

It’s funny how the memories are hazy. I don’t remember which of my cousins were on the patio that day, only that it seems like all of them. Our parents (and aunts and uncles) must have been there, cautioning us on not going blind, helping us fashion pinhole viewers out of cardboard, but I only remember a blur of faces and bodies. And fear.

We keep feelings with us long after the events themselves fade. I don’t even remember seeing the eclipse itself. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was too afraid to look.

My lingering feelings aren’t excitement or joy at seeing the eclipse or of fun and happiness at being with my family. They are worry that I don’t know what I’m doing. Fear that it will all go terribly wrong. Awkwardness of being around cousins and aunts and uncles I barely see.

I don’t want to be always be afraid.

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all i ever wanted

This guy lives in his van on the street over from my house. He moves the van from one side of the street to the other every couple of days, but always within a single block. When the weather is nice, he puts out an old wooden adirondack chair on the grassy lawn area in front of an apartment complex and sits in the sun drinking beer. I’m not sure what he does the rest of the time.

I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. Wait, that’s not quite right. Driving by his van every day has got me thinking about myself is what I really mean.

We live these lives that are so stressed out. We have these pressures and obligations and burdens and responsibilities but the truth is that these are things we build ourselves. Bills, appointments, whatever. We think that it is these things that cause us so much stress, but we could easily walk away from all of them. That guy in the van doesn’t have a mortgage payment or five conference calls in one day or a hot tub repair guy who doesn’t return phone calls.

But I don’t think the answer is to be the guy in the van. Then we’d have an entirely new set of stressors. Obviously.

Life is like a see-saw. The obligations and responsibilities make it possible to sit with friends and have a bottle of wine and watch the sunset, to fly to Brazil and stand under Christ the Redeemer. The key, as always, is balance.


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we could find new ways to fall apart

Today, I posed this to the therapist: I keep ending up in the same place over and over. One friend tells me I must shut down my company and do something else because I keep trying to make changes and none of them seem to have made a difference in helping me regain my sanity. But if I look back, I had these same edge of sanity moments before I had this company, so can it really be circumstance? I told her about how irritated I got yesterday and thought perhaps the answer really was to ditch it all and start over.

She said what she always says about how change is a process and I may not know the end, I only know what’s next. But she also said that it sounded like I was trying to avoid getting irritated when perhaps it was perfectly reasonable that I was irritated. And then we dove into the analytical waters of learned behavior and past coping skills needed for survival (perhaps no longer needed) around keeping emotions hidden and so on with the childhood angst.

Anyway. I said I would work on having feelings, but she told me that my homework was that I don’t have homework. So, there’s a conundrum.

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life’s like this

Today, I came across this:

Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Last week I was in despair about what to do with my life WHILE I WAS WALKING IN THE SUN ON A BEAUTIFUL BEACH. And not only did I have no problems that day, but it was actually particularly good.

In my last entry, I was writing about how just finding a way to be happy with my current situation used to be the wrong answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the wrong answer. And maybe it’s not about being satisfied and accepting of everything around you, but it’s about recognizing and appreciating those parts of your life that in fact are pretty great. But in my typical binary fashion, I can’t seem to wrap my head around that.

So maybe what I should do is this: any time I get irritated and angry and disgruntled and mean, I should stop and make a list of all of the good things (about that situation particularly, if I can find any). For instance, when I get to the airport, I hate everyone because airports are terrible and all of our personal freedoms are taken away, and you are at the whim of the airline employees, and then you have to go really high up in the sky in a claustrophobic tube and try not to fall thousands of feet and die.

But I could look at things differently. I get to travel somewhere. Not everyone gets to do that. I might even be going somewhere warm. And so on.

I thought of this today as I became irrationally angry at something that didn’t even matter. And yet it was impacting my entire day and in fact, making me further question my current career path. Because this one thing made me angry, I should completely change careers as not to have to encounter it anymore? It’s possible I take things to extremes.

I want to make a list of everything that’s good.

Only there’s no time. There’s never any time. And I’m back to where I started, wondering how I got here. Wondering how to get to a place where I don’t feel behind with everything all of the time. Tired, so tired of hearing myself wonder how to get that.

And so it goes like that.

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i was a flight risk, with a fear of falling

Yes, Taylor Swift again. She’s like that wise old man at the top of the mountain dispensing the meaning of life. Only with more bouncy curls.

I’ve been reading the archives here and the patterns are frustrating. Looking back, I thought the problem was circumstance, so I jumped off the speeding train. Only the lack of time, the crushing weight, the sinking realization I had to do everything all of the time, it all followed right behind me. Then, I thought maybe the problem was my response to circumstance, so I worked hard to change my reactions. And again. And yet. These things help, but now I wonder if what I really need to learn to do is change my perception. Appreciate the good things.

It’s tricky. In some ways, that’s what got me into the worst of it all — I was so focused on pleasing everyone else but me that I thought what I wanted didn’t matter. I thought the answer was to be happy where I was, when where I was would never make me happy.

Our fears and hopes and reactions are often based on past experiences, not what’s in front of us now. Sometimes, that serves us very well. Other times, not at all. How can we know which time is which?

When I escaped to the desert, one of the counselors there said I had trouble with discernment. I don’t trust anything, don’t count on anything, because when I have, I’ve been let down. She said it wasn’t that nothing can be trusted, but that I had been trusting the wrong things, the wrong people. Maybe.

It always seems like all or nothing, but it never is. It’s just what comes next.

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this could really be a good life

So get this.

Apparently it’s not my responsibility to solve the problems of the entire world. Who knew? This is a fortunate turn of events, since as it happens, I’m not actually able to solve the problems of the entire world. It’s weird how I realized long ago that I can’t be my mom’s savior, but it’s seemed perfectly logical to try and be the savior for people I don’t even know.

Anyway, that’s new.

I was talking to my therapist today about this new perspective and mentioned how the reason I started a company was not because I wanted to run a company or had some grand vision, but because people kept contacting me asking me for something that didn’t exist (as far as I knew) and since I knew I could create it, it didn’t cross my mind that I had any course of action open to me than to do so. Which is not to say I didn’t get anything out of it. That’s one of the harder parts of all this, of course. We keep doing these things because they work on some level, even if in other ways they don’t work at all. (See for instance: transformative event for the parts that don’t work quite so well.)

So once again, I rethink everything I ever knew. And all of the definitive statements I’ve ever made here might not always be true after all.

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i just want to be ok

Because I want to be wholly improved, feel as though I should be completely cured by now (time has past, money has been spent on retreating, medicating, analyzing, and so on), I continue to be surprised by signs that I am not. I find it nearly impossible to get out of bed in the mornings. I can’t fall asleep at night. My dreams are filled with nightmares. I feel a weight on my chest. I manage to make it through the motions of the day and get home at 5pm, 4pm, and collapse. Just getting through the day has drained me. The exhaustion is total. Everything irritates me. I can’t focus. I can’t function in the way I expect.

So many things remain undone.

I’ve been doing all of the healthy recommendations to move past debilitating depression and anxiety: I’ve seen medical doctors and have had batteries of tests; I’ve gone away for a relaxing technology-free break; I take walks; I practice breathing; I eat flax seed and whole grain bread and vegetables; I take herbs; I burn aromatherapy oil; I lift weights; I sleep in; I see a psychologist; I take Xanax. And yet.

Tonight, I’ve decided to try drinking. If nothing else, surely it will help with the insomnia. Alcohol has fewer calories than ice cream or chocolate, so I figure it will look less glaring on the daily log where I keep careful track of my nutritional intake, as part of the set of healthy recommendations I am following to try and get better. I admit (here, I mean, not to the nutrition diary) I ate an entire chocolate bar a few days ago and neglected to write it down. I told a friend about it. “One of those little mini candy bars?” she asked. No. An entire large chocolate bar. (For those unfamiliar with tracking every nutritional data point, a entire chocolate bar has around 500 calories and 40 grams of fat, around one-third the suggested daily intake of calories, and just about the entire daily intake of fat for someone such as myself for an entire day.)

I feel like a jerk. I have so much more than so many. And yet all I can do is complain. A friend said I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. That maybe I have the foundation and the tip of Maslow’s hierarcharcy of needs, but I’m missing the middle. Can you have self-actualization without love, belonging, and safety? And from a logical perspective, I really have safety nailed down too. I guess I just don’t operate as though I do.

Every night, I think: tomorrow I will have the energy to do that. (That being everything from making a five minute phone call to completing a two week project.) And yet I don’t. And part of the problem is that I have no sense of perspective, no depth perception, no way to know who to trust, what to believe. Every step is into the unknown, into darkness, no way to know if I’ll land on solid ground or fall into the abyss.

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a transformative event

According to convention wisdom, it seems there are two ways of completely changing your life, in the case that you wake up one day and realize you’ve been living it entirely wrong.

The first way involves introducing small changes that you repeat over time until they become habits. The only way for something to stick, one hears, is to start small, one change at a time. Only if what you’re looking to do is make lots of really big changes, that’s not really the advice you want to hear. Admittedly, the reaction to such advice doesn’t make much sense, which is to not make any changes at all. After all, if you’d started making those small changes one by one a year ago, you might have an entirely different life by now.

But still, when one is trapped in fear and desperation, the idea of somehow ignoring all of that and going about your day, slowly becoming untrapped, undesperate, and no longer paralyzed by anxiety and soul-crushing sadness doesn’t always sound like a fun option.

The second way involves having some transformative event that completely changes one’s life a la the Biblical Road to Damascus transformation of Saul to Paul. You hear about these types of events all the time: “it changed my life”, someone might say, and they don’t mean that in the way that everyone’s life changes all of the time with everything we do, but rather that they went from one kind of life to a different kind of life. I had hoped that a near-death experience would have come complete with a life exchange silver lining, but you can’t get everything you wish for.

Perhaps fortunately, a complete mental breakdown may be all that a girl needs, so I’ve been exploring that possibility. I had been toying with the idea of having myself (hopefully temporarily) committed to an institution whose sole goal it is to provide transformative events through serious medical treatment, but I’ve since discovered one of those more peaceful (by which I mean luxurious, by which I mean expensive) locations that celebrities retreat to due to “exhaustion”. And now that I have taken enough Xanax, I even feel stable enough to book into the non-clinic portion of said location (by which I mean, the section that doesn’t have admittance rules banning sharp objects).

Will it really help? I have no idea. The mental breakdown itself is already dramatically changing my behavior. “You’re saying no to things. That’s great!” says my breakdown-triggered newly appointed twice-a-week psychologist. It’s not the result of the efforts of something I’m trying to do, I explain. I mentally have no ability to add anything else. I’ve become completely non-functional. I have no choice but to say no. She suggests I look at things differently. I’m still meeting deadlines, finishing projects, running a company. I finished the manuscript for the new edition of my book. I’m going to the gym. I may not be as functional as I’m used to, but I’m functioning.

I think of all of the things I haven’t done. Everything I’m completely blocking from my mind because it’s the only way I can function at all. The mornings I need a Xanax to get out of bed because I wake up mid-panic attack. The times I’ve been unable to move from the couch. For hours. How I went to bed last night at 8pm and slept for 12 hours, waking up only for the nightmares. That doesn’t feel like functioning to me.

So maybe that’s the transformative event. I can’t go on feeling like this. Insanity, after all, it doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So if I want to end up feeling differently than this, I will have to do something other than what I’ve been doing (by which I mean for my entire life).

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i went in seeking clarity

This is what I thought about when I thought I was going to die.

Backstory: Perhaps ironically, only days earlier I was at a book event, where bookish people walked around and eyed us author types as one might evaluate lobsters at one of those pick-your-own seafood places. We (the authors) smiled behind our books in likely the opposite fashion of said lobsters (pick me! pick me!) and tried to helpfully answer questions from reluctant potential buyers in some way other than “yes, I can see that $25 is a steep price to pay for that year I spent pouring my heart and soul into the words on those pages. Totally reasonable point.”

I had it easier than the memoir writers, of course. I was exceedingly impressed they didn’t say that to each and every person who flipped through their book’s pages dismissively. After all, business books have little detail of personal torment and sorrow. Although I hope my fellow writers were in turn impressed that I didn’t respond to the person who asked if she would actually learn anything from my book or if it was all stuff she already knew with “I’m not sure. Show me your book and let’s compare.”

But the point is that every so often, we lobsters would escape our tanks. On the plane the night before, I had read one of the memoir-style books: this one about a fast-paced TV news producer who had a brain hemorrhage and nearly died, and then took stock of his life and made some changes. I was chatting with him about the experience and he told me that how you figure out what’s important is what you think about in those moments when you truly think you’re going to die. That it’s not if they got the right person booked on the show that day. It’s your family. Your spouse. Your children.

Well, fuck you. I don’t have those things, so what the hell can I do about that? Only I only said that to him in my head. He was very nice, actually.

In any case, as it turned out, I had cause to try out this theory less than a week later, while on a tiny plane with my seven-year old niece. After the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced (context: I have been on over 90 flights this year alone), things suddenly took a turn for the worse. The plane began plummeting out of control, everything not tied down flew through the air (for instance: passengers), everyone was screaming. It was your ordinary, every day, basic plane crash scene from a movie. Or perhaps the pilot episode of Lost.

After several hours (possibly this was actually less than a minute, but I’m pretty sure it was about three hours), the pilot seemed to regain control of the plane and we went back to the much calmer state of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced. He then came on to apologize. A lot. And reassure us that we would be landing soon. No really.

In those moments — not the actual I’m-going-to-die-we’re-crashing moments — but the ones just after, with the bracing that the really actual death was likely coming any moment, a part of me tried to focus. What did I think about when I knew I was dying? Is that a clue as to the meaning of my life?

This is what I thought: “Oh my fucking God. I cannot believe I’m going to fucking die right now in a plane crash.” Which isn’t all that helpful in life focus other than it supports my theory that I don’t really want to die. My post-crashing moment thoughts were about my sister and about how sad she would be that her daughter died in a plane crash. So, I guess I’m not entirely selfish.

My third set of thoughts (after the “fuck I’m going to die” and “my poor sister” ones) weren’t helpful either, to the extent that I can’t even really write about them. They were all self-pity and woe is me and wishing for things that don’t exist. (Despite what people tell you, your dreams can’t always come true. Dreaming for a pet unicorn that takes you on rides to your friend the leprechaun’s house won’t actually get you very far, sadly.)

My point is that I didn’t gain any new life insights from my near-death experience and I’m kind of mad about that because if you almost die, shouldn’t you get something positive out of it? All in all, I guess I can’t really recommend this method for seeking clarity. In case you were considering it.

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i’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale

I’m caught between two equally crushing feelings:

1) I’m too old (that is, smart) to believe in the white horse, in Lloyd Dobler holding the boom box in the rain, in that feeling that someone who I only want wants only me.

Stupid girl, I should have known, I should have known.

2) Love is the most important thing in life.

Love was as hardwired into the structure of the universe as gravity and matter.

The latter quote from the Hyperion series (the former, of course, from the font of wisdom Taylor Swift).

I was talking to someone about Hyperion’s message that love is like gravity and he said that that was a perspective I likely didn’t agree with. But maybe he’s wrong about that.

Love isn’t something that you can plan; the best one can do is hope. And what’s the point of that? Except Gandhi said, “It is the law of love that rules mankind. It gives me ineffable joy to go on trying to prove that.”

So no wonder I avoid it. The most important thing in life. And there’s nothing one can do to reach it except wait and hope.

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there will be an answer, let it be

I always have a collection of half-written drafts that remain unposted here. All these lists of pop song lyrics, as though perhaps I’m hoping the truth of life is surfaced through radio happiness. Right now, it’s mostly a collection of lines from “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls:

I’m trying to tell you something about my life…

I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it…

I went in seeking clarity…

The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.

This is the lesson I keep learning over and over again my entire life. I can’t know it all. I can’t control it all. I have no idea what’s going to happen next. But sometimes, sometimes. Couldn’t I just have some assurance, even just a little?

I know, I don’t even like the Beatles, but I wonder sometimes: “there will be answer, let it be”. Is that a statement or a plea? I repeat it to remind myself: Let it be. There will be an answer. Even though there’s not an answer right now. Even though the road is so dark and I can’t see at all into the blackness.

When all I want is to be enough, even then. Let it be.

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i’ve done everything wrong

When I was growing up, we were pretty poor. I think I didn’t realize how poor we really were as we were considered the “rich” relatives, what with one set of cousins living in a treehouse they’d constructed in the woods and another living in their car.

My parents tended to exaggerate their lack of so-called book smarts. I don’t know. Maybe this was a defensive reaction. Better to act like you disdain wisdom than to admit you just don’t have any? You’re that way on purpose rather than despite attempts otherwise? My mom was (and is) forever saying, “well, I’m not very smart…”. My stepdad (born and raised in southern California) took to Oklahoma life as though it was all he’d ever known: wearing overalls, listening to Hank Williams, buying a beat up fishing boat, hunting, and adopting an “aww shucks” conversation style.

What I knew: that there was something other than this. I could pursue success and have a different path. That was a quantifiable, data-driven, proven model I could see around me.

What I did not know: that there might be value in less tangible things — relationships, families, love. I had seen no evidence of his growing up, after all. I had seen only the opposite. Most of what made my parents unhappy seemed to be each other, and us. My own failed attempt at marriage only validated this data.

But maybe I was wrong about everything. Maybe I was wrong. But what can I do now?

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I guess I’m happy when I don’t want to be anywhere else but where I am

One of my favorite movies is Love Affair (all three versions). But why? I’m the least sentimental person I know. I have not made it a habit to believe in love or look for love or wistfully pine for love.

I was talking to a friend last night about what it means to be successful and I said maybe nothing matters except what makes you happy, no matter what success is supposed to look like.

I was thinking this the other day:

When faced with the possibility of loss we do not think: what if no one were to feel this way about me again? Rather, we think: what if I were to never again feel this way about anyone else.

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do what makes you happy always

The trouble is the wine cabinet.

A friend gave it to me when she moved and while I did manage to carry it from my car into the house, it’s awkwardly shaped and folds out, which makes it difficult to get a good grasp on.

I need to get it down the stairs.

For now, it sits just inside the front door, mocking my independence and self-reliance. Of course, I pay for said independence and self-reliance and I did in fact ask my assistant to help me carry it down the stairs. But while her skills are many, furniture mover is not among them.

This is where it all falls apart, my careful plans of architecting my life just so. I don’t need anyone until I need to zip up the back of my dress. So I don’t buy dresses that zip up the back.

Only now, here’s this wine cabinet. I can’t take it back. But to keep it, I need to ask for help, to rely on someone else

And with this, I have no experience at all.

I was texting with a friend. She is trying to decide what to do with her career. I told her, “do what makes you happy always”, but I really meant to tell myself.

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the dots connect somehow

I collect words, which is much easier to do now that I read most of my books on the iPad Kindle app. I want to rush out and buy hard covers of all of those books so I can pile them up around my house, but I appreciate the ease of having a handy collection of highlighted phrases that I can access anywhere. These contradictions are the summation of my life.

What’s caught my attention lately:

From Lisa Kudrow’s Vassar 2010 commencement address:

“I was weirdly confident…for no reason at all — but because this didn’t exactly feel like it was a choice as much as succumbing to a compulsion, and I didn’t analyze what led me to this point, whether it was divine intervention, or a lapse in judgment or sanity, I just listened to that inner voice.”

From what James Altucher learned from hulu hooping:

“The less movement the better… If it’s hard, it means it’s not going to happen. When you have the right company, it’s easy. Same for getting acquired. If it’s too difficult, then you are either in the wrong business or you need to build more.”

I think this is likely true in lots of circumstances other than business.

From Penn Jillete’s book God, No! (talking about spending money on renovations for his house that he’d never make back in resale value and worrying about scandalous pictures of him getting leaked):

“‘Accept who you are and do whatever you want.’ I found that when I stopped lying to myself and stopped planning for futures that weren’t going to happen, I got happier. It was easy. I liked that my door to the Supreme Court was slammed in my face.”

From an Esquire article quoting Roger Ebert:

“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts.”

There’s something here I’m clearly still trying to puzzle out about important and necessary parts of selfishness, and friction, and “should” vs. “need”, and the unexpected paths our lives take.

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I have a pond in my front yard. An actual pond with a waterfall that magically turns on at 10am and off at 8pm. A little bridge spans an even smaller “stream” part of the pond and leads from the front gate to my house. It’s adorable, truly.

The pond is home to koi. Also rainbow trout. 19 of the first; 4 of the second. Never heard of a koi/trout pond? Neither has anyone else. Amazingly, they seem to live together fairly happily. Every morning when I’m in town, I go out to the pond before the waterfall kicks in. The pond is peaceful and still. The water is clear. When I walk up to the pond, the fish all swim over to say good morning. OK, they swim over because they’re pretty sure I’m going to feed them, but I think they also want to say hi. Well, maybe not the trout.

When you feed koi in a non-trout pond, the koi are pretty chill. They float around and nibble on the treats and look lovely and zen. Things are a bit different in my pond. The moment the food hits the water it is EVERY FISH FOR HIMSELF! (Or possibly herself, I can’t really tell if the fish are boys or girls.) The trout are amazingly fast, zipping up to the surface and gobbling up as they go, splashing out of the water, diving down, pushing past every koi that gets in the way.

The koi are learning. They’re starting to hold their own — furtively sneaking in and grabbing some treats at speeds I’ve never seen koi attempt in any other pond, pushing their way in, diving and darting. They’re tough, my little koi.

When the treats are gone, the trout swim away. The koi stick around, back to their floaty zen state. We’re cool, they’re saying. That feeding frenzy free for all? That wasn’t even us. Must have been some other koi.

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you might think i’m bullet proof, but i’m not

From my driver, bringing me home from the airport last night: “You are a blessed woman. It is contagious. I will go home and also be blessed.”

It’s true. I know it’s true and I see it and I feel it and I believe it. But I’m always on guard for it all to go wrong. Or for something else to go wrong. For every good thing, a bad thing has to happen to keep the scales balanced. Even though I know that’s not true at all and the scales are tipped well into the blessed scale.

I don’t know the answers and I never know the answers and I wish I knew the answers. And I’ve written about it before and over and over again and still. All I’m really looking for is peace.

I know the writing in the journal makes it seem like I’m never happy and I’m actually mostly happy. And I know that I’m one of the lucky ones.

But never perfect.

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i’m good at spin

It always confuses me when I realize someone is envious. Why would anyone envy this? I wake up and I work and I feel the crushing weight of not being able to stop and it’s lonely and it’s relentless and just as I think I might be getting the boulder to the top of the mountain, I find myself once again right back at the beginning. And I think, how did I get here? How do I escape? And I realize that the only way I know to to get away from runaway trains is to close my eyes and jump, that I haven’t ever, even once, been able to stop the train, to slow it down, to get it to change tracks. And yet when I jump, I land on a train going even faster and even more out of control.

So, I think, how could someone envy me, who mixes metaphors with boulders and trains and mountains but it’s only because I get no sleep. I sit here. And I look at this screen. And I watch the demands roll in and I know I can’t satisfy them all. But I keep trying. I keep trying.

But my life is full of wonderful things too. And I know that. And I know that’s what people are seeing. Because it not only gets tedious for others when I recount my woes, my trains, my boulders. It gets tedious for me. Sometimes it’s easier to downplay that part.

So when someone both tells me that they feel they should be as famous as me (as though I am famous at all) because they have just as much skill and talent and whatever it is that this supposed fame is from, but then in the same breath tell me that they could never travel like I do and when I invite them to speak at an event I’m organizing, they turn it down. Too much travel. When I hear both of these things, said at once, I don’t know whether to smile or cry. Because I’m tired.

I say that if you don’t like to travel, then choosing not to is the right choice. Even if it means less “fame”. Because it will mean that. The crowds can’t know you if they don’t see you. But what difference does it make? How does a few hundred, a few thousand people having heard your name before change anything about your life? Make you happier? Give you more time?

I was having a drink with a friend a few days ago, which I was able to justify (oh the time having drinks takes away from sitting here and looking at this screen) only because he was also interviewing me for a book he’s writing. He told me that a few weeks ago, his wife’s 24-year old brother died in a motorcycle accident. One day here was there, and then he wasn’t. And you know, that could happen to anyone. Anytime.

A bit later, as part of the book interview, he asked me about being a role model for women. Every time someone tells me I’m a role model, I panic. I’m flooded with dread. Because to build your career like I have, you sit here. You look at this screen. And it’s 3am and it’s 7am and it’s 11pm. It’s Sunday. It’s your birthday. It’s Christmas. And you sit here. And your friends text you and invite you to a party. And you sit here. And you’re trapped.

And then you board a plane and another plane and another plane. And you’re tired.

I can’t even fathom how someone who wants more than this — a husband, a family, a dog — could even attempt it.

That’s not the answer I gave him though. I’ve had a lot of media training. I’m good at spin. But not here.

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from there to here

I’m sitting in a hamman in Morocco, drinking tea. Not a traditional hamman, where the locals go, where you pay $3 and you and your neighbor take turns scrubbing each others’ backs. This is a fancy, upscale hamman, with dark tile, lined with candles.

I am the only person here.

I have had the traditional hamman treatments, and now the staff have retreated, leaving me in peace with tea and dates and the tranquil silence.

I’m thinking of my stepfather.

As childhoods go, I’ve read enough the of dysfunctional childhood memoir genre to know that things could have been worse. But I’m pretty sure mostly people had it better.

Last week, my sister told me that my stepfather was dying in a hospice. At age 58. Decades of constant drinking had taken their toll. I called him “dad” from age 4 to 18, when he abruptly (or not so abruptly, he was really always on the verge of leaving) left (leaving a birthday card on my pillow). I never saw him again.

I haven’t given him more than a passing thought in years.

All those people I used to hold grudges against — and with good reason (mostly) — like my parents, now I just feel sad for them. A person almost always thinks he’s justified in his actions. Our perspective from the inside looking out is skewed. There is no firm reality, only context.

I can imagine him there, dying (dying! what more can he take from me?), alone. Thinking that after all those years he spent caring for us, even though we weren’t his biological children: housing us, feeding us, working long hours so we could have Christmas presents and birthday cake. After all that, we’ve abandoned him.

I could look back on those years differently. Don’t speak unless spoken to. Yes, we’re moving again. Take off my shoes and fetch me a beer. Lay still while I whip you with this belt.

But what’s the point?

It wouldn’t change the fact that he’s about to die.

And here’s what I think about, as I sit, sipping my tea, in the hamman, at the resort where I’m staying in a villa with a private pool overlooking the ocean in Morocco.

I think about those times when he ridiculed me for wanting to go to college. How he would tell me that college was for lazy people who didn’t want to work. That when you add up attendance costs and lost wages from not working while you were in school — there was just no way to ever make up for that.

I think about all those hours I worked in high school in order to save money for college, for SAT tests, for college admissions applications.

I think about how, when I desperately needed $100 to pay for some college application-related expense my senior year of high school and had already pawned anything of value, he gave me the $100 in exchange from my (life long) stamp collection and a promise that I wouldn’t ask him for any money for my wedding. (When he left, he left me the stamps, along with the birthday card.)

Funny then that the only time I talked to him after he left was 7 years later, right before my wedding. He found out I was getting married and called me to congratulate me. He was so drunk, I could barely understand a word he said.

I think about these things, and about this too. He truly believed the things he told me. When he wouldn’t pay for things like SAT tests, he wasn’t being mean. He honestly believed they were a waste of money. That I was making wrong choices.

He also didn’t come from a world where parents were responsible for anything once a child reached 18. Feed and clothe them through high school and then you’re done. He would have been affronted had you told him he was responsible for anything else.

He wasn’t being mean. To him, asking him to pay for anything related to college was like asking him to pay for puffy rainbow clouds. Not his responsibility. Folly.

And pay for college itself? He didn’t have that kind of money, so what difference did it make.

I think of that now. Because he was so terribly wrong and I am living proof of that.

A life that includes villas with private pools in Morocco was not one he would ever fathom. It’s not just that it wasn’t in his realm of consciousness, it was a concept that didn’t exist for him. Getting a passport was a concept that didn’t exist for him.

Living in a 5th wheel travel trailer in Oklahoma, all I ever thought about was getting out.

I read about other places, other lives. Even as a fourth grader, I schemed, I plotted, I looked for cracks. To find a path out. For me, I knew that crack was college. Some kids latch on to musical or athletic talent. I knew I was smart.

Where did this idea of good grades and college even come from? Neither of my parents (or any of the three of them, if you include my biological father) were particularly interested in or good at school. None of my relatives had gone to college.

My grandfather was a truck driver. My grandmother (after she finished raising seven children) worked at the K-Mart cafeteria. My mom didn’t work. My stepdad worked in the oil fields. My biological father smoked a lot of pot. I lived in rural Oklahoma, not known for its abundance of white collar, corporate skyscrapers. I didn’t have the internet.

So why was college and life beyond the overriding thought always in my head?

Maybe it was all that reading.

No one in my family has ever left the country but I’ve been to 21 countries in the last five years, 6 continents in the last 12 months.

Where does it come from?

I haven’t talked to my stepsister in years. She lived with us when we were growing up, then decided she was done with school and parents at 16, so got pregnant (so she could have someone to love her), dropped out of school, and got a place of her own.

She’s on Facebook. I go to her page to see if she’s written anything about her father. Her wall contains only posts from a game called “Treasure Isle”, every few hours, every day. Nothing else. Her interests say she “likes playing games on the puter”.

Should I send her a message, asking how she is? Are they estranged? Are they close?

I ask my sister where he is but she doesn’t know. She says she’ll try to find out. She heard the news from our step cousin (his nephew), but he doesn’t know either.

I think of all of this as I sip my tea. A spa attendant comes by and asks if I need anything. She speaks only Arabic and French and I speak only English, so mostly I just smile. She pours me more tea.

A few days later, I leave Morocco. I come home to find a message from my sister. She’s gotten the address but no phone number. She said it wasn’t easy. That no one in the family seems to still be in touch with him.

I look up the address. It’s in a tiny town in Western Oklahoma. I wonder what I should do, what I can do. It’s late and I’ve been traveling for a long time. I go to bed.

The next morning, my sister sends me another message. My stepfather has died.

I don’t know how to feel.

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tidings of comfort and joy

We think that we’re locked into a life. But we’re not. We think we have to do things a particular way, go down a particular path, go through particular motions. But we don’t.

I see the absolute joy and surprise and on the face of my six-year old niece. What happens to us?

Some days, everything makes me sad. I can’t fix everything. But then other times, I’m hopeful, so hopeful.

I’m sitting on a patio in Mexico, watching the water. It makes me laugh when the pelicans dive headfirst into the water, zeroed in on a snack. And then they just bob there in the water. I meant to do that, they say. Just wanted to get my beak wet.

Once again, I don’t know how this ends.

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winter wonderland

I like to believe that I spent my entire life on a sunny beach on California and my days were like living in a Katy Perry song. However, this is just a lie I tell myself. In reality, I have spent many, many years in snowy, blizzard-like conditions. I have experience with these things.

Why then did I just attempt to walk out onto my balcony, during 60 mph wind gusts. In a snowstorm? Why did I do that?

My goal was to see the ridiculous waves crashing against the crazy snow. Instead, in milliseconds, I was soaking wet and nearly had my back door knocked off. Which would have made it really cold inside.And I saw nothing as the wind blew my eyelids shut.

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how do we get to where we end up?

How it happened is this.

I didn’t set out to start a business or run a company or have employees. I didn’t have revenue goals, business plans, value props. What happened was, someone asked me for help. And I felt bad saying no. And so I said yes. But then someone else asked me for help. And then someone else. And so I kept helping them.

Not that I rescued orphans from collapsed mines or anything, you understand. These were just businesses looking for help with the kind of thing I’m good at. Only it got to where I had too many to help so then I started getting other people to help me help them.

So now I’m in this weird spot. Because suddenly I’m running a company and have employees and I should have revenue goals, business plans, value props. But instead, if someone wants me to bid for a project or provide references and examples of my work so they can compare me to the other companies they’re considering, I think THANK GOD I don’t have to help them. They have someone else to help them! I don’t have time to add them to my list of people to help, much less fill out their bid forms and reference sheets. But I suppose that’s not the correct perspective for a CEO.

It’s perplexing sometimes.

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location, location, location

When I was maybe eight years old, my family inexplicably moved to the middle of nowhere in the countryside of Oklahoma, not far from a town of 200 people. We had a been living in a suburb of Tulsa for about a year and I have no idea why my parents (or really, my stepdad) decided to move and how they even found such a remote and random place to move to.

I can see the appeal for them though. It’s easy to blame a lot of the crazy that went on in my childhood on my stepdad, but in reality, my mom was a willing participant. And it’s not that hard to see how we would end up, for instance, in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma based even on a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago.

I was sitting outside my mom’s current house, inexplicably in a suburb of Sacramento, at my niece’s birthday party. I forget sometimes how other people’s lives generally go, and am continually surprised when people I’ve never met assume for me a normal and traditional upbringing.

One of the moms watching her daughter at the party started talking to me, and at some point I realized she thought this had been our childhood home. I explained that my mom had moved here just a few years ago.

“Oh, where did you grow up?”

That’s always a tough one to explain. Depending on how much energy I have, or the likelihood that I will ever see this person again and have need for an accurate narrative, I generally either say “California” or “we moved a lot”. When pressed (and people don’t generally realize they are pressuring me to relive childhood trauma when they simply ask where I grew up), I pick a point in time: I was born in southern California; I graduated from high school in central California; I went to college in northern California.

The next question, however, I had no idea how to answer.

“So, why did you mom move here?”

That, I have no idea.

I have no idea why she chose this particular town, but I do know why she chose this particular house. The rent was cheap. The house was large (as a single person, she still requires at least three bedrooms for the amazing amount of random stuff she’s accumulated over the years — and it is truly astonishing to me that someone chooses a house not to live in, but to store things in). The house is old, which to her means it has “charm”. It’s in the “country”, which by her measure is the epitome of location.

Things she has never considered when determining where to live: proximity to anything at all; cost and hassle of the upkeep of an ancient residence; whether or not she actually needs an entire room to display her scary doll and santa claus collections.

At that point in the conversation, my mom came over and started complaining about the noise from the nearby train tracks. One of the moms said, “I guess after a while you get used to it.”

My mom’s response, ever the martyr: “No, I never do.”

She then proceeded to complain about the nearby quarry and how dust was always everywhere. (Yes, my mom purposely chose a house directly next to both railroad tracks and a quarry, likely in part so that she’d always have at least two things to point to as her burdens to bear in life.)

I noted that both the train tracks and quarry were in fact already there when my mom decided to move into the house. It wasn’t as though she found her perfect home, moved in, and then the city decided to install them next door. (As you might imagine, she wasn’t overly impressed with my logic.)

And so I’m sure it went with our house in the country. Sure, the closest grocery store was an hour away in Tulsa and even the closest school was at least 30 minutes, and all bets were off in the winter when all the roads were covered in ice, but the house was probably pretty cheap and it had lots of land around it. What more could you want?

So we would make the weekly trip to the grocery store and (I swear this is true) my mom would can vegetables and things and store them in the musty, dirty cellar and what I remember most about living there was all the hours I spent stacking wood, as our only source of heat was a wood-burning stove. I don’t how many other eight year old girls know dimensions of a rick and a cord of wood, but I sure did.

I thought it was all normal at the time. After all, Laura Ingalls lived this way. And we didn’t even have to heat water on the stove for baths. (Although we did have to check the bathtub before we got in for scorpions.)

One of my favorite things about being an adult? Being able to choose to live in the middle of a city, so that I can decide I want a cup of coffee and a muffin and can walk three minutes to buy them.

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but then i sleep instead

I read something funny, compelling, witty, charming, beautiful.


1) want to be a good writer
2) want to have time, energy, passion to write, interesting things to write about even though I know writing well isn’t about that at all.

Why do I care so much?

Maybe I want to be funny, compelling, witty, charming, beautiful.

Maybe writing sounds like the opposite of the franticness, the pressure, the demands, the 893 emails behind but I’m just too tired to look at the words anymore.

I’m not missing desire, only strength.

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don’t we all shop like this?

So here’s how I ended up scrolling through shopping results online that included the “three hole love doll” and assorted silicone body parts.

It started innocently, really. OK, sort of.

Some friends and I went to an event at this sex shop (that’s the sort of part) and we got gift bags that included the very best lip balm ever. I know. I didn’t think of lip balm as being a sex toy either, but there it was, with the waterproof vibrator and Hot Girls in Aprons and Oven Mitts DVD. (Perhaps that wasn’t the exact title, but you get the idea.)

Anyway, the lip balm was awesome and later, I was talking to one of the friends who I went with about it and mentioned that I was running low. She said she was too and that she also had loved it, so right then and there, we drove back over to the sex shop to buy some more. Only they didn’t have any. In fact, they don’t sell it. They just happened to have it as part of the promotion. Tragedy.

What to do? Look for it online, of course. Which I did and amazingly enough, found it on Amazon (free shipping with Amazon Prime!). Only it came in a package of items called the “Goodhead Kit for Him, Mint”. Which includes all of the “essential oral sex tools to transform average head into unbelievable head.” I didn’t even know there were “essential” oral sex tools other than a mouth. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all this time!

Despite the effusive marketing speak, I didn’t know that I really needed a “love ring” to “watch him light up with joy”, so I thought I’d browse around a bit to see if the lip balm was sold separately. I scrolled past the regular stuff   (pocket rockets, bondage rope, the yumi anime love doll) and then came upon the rubber exercise “easy rider” balls with attached dildos (who knew?). But then I saw the vaginal enlargement pump. Really? Do people really want to enlarge their vaginas? I headed to the reviews to find out: “the cup is comfortable and there is a pressure release on the pump and cup which is great if you get a bit too brave.” Get a bit too brave? What DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??

The perfect pair breasts made a bit more sense and the reviewers for that are surprisingly helpful to each other: “just keep your eyes closed and you won’t get distracted”; “use baby powder liberally over every inch restoring it to a very silky soft feel”; “the coloring around the nipples wears off easily, but I don’t see that as a real problem”. And I was happy to discover that good ‘ole Doc Johnson is an equal opportunity fetishist as you can also get Belladonna’s foot soldiers (“each set contains one left foot and one right foot”!). Sadly, this item has no reviews.

In the end, the “essential” oral sex tools kit appears to be the only way I can get the lip balm. I guess I have no choice but to transform myself into someone who gives unbelievable head. The price I pay for good lip balm.

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even hannah montana can’t escape my mom

“Your hair is so dark… I mean, it still looks good though.” This, then, how my mom greets me as I walk in. I don’t expect anything different, of course. Which is fortunate, since throughout the day that I learn that I have a very small waist (too bad about the rest of me, that is) and that I am so successful because God has blessed me so very much.

Normally, I just let it all go, but I took a stab at the being blessed thing. “Or maybe I worked really hard.”

She thought about this.

“Lots of people work really hard. But not everyone is successful.” (Translation in case you don’t fluently speak the language of my mom: she works really hard. So hard! And yet why is she broke all the time?!) And anyway, she asked me, don’t I like what I do? Well then. I can barely count it as working. Most people aren’t so blessed as to enjoy their work.

I just took a drink of my margarita in response.

I got off lucky though. Hannah Montana didn’t fare so well.

Hannah arrived at my niece’s sixth birthday party with hula hoops, a karaoke machine, pom poms and face paint. You can imagine the excitement of all the little girls, right? They gathered around her with anticipation. As did my mom.

“Wow, great job. You look just like her. Last time I saw you, you looked just like Snow White!” Hannah and I both gave her the same look. That look was “what the hell is wrong with you, you crazy woman?”

I explained to my mother in front of THE EXCITED GROUP OF SIX YEAR OLD GIRLS that the reason she looked like Hannah Montana was that that SHE WAS HANNAH MONTANA. My mom looked confused. “But the girl we talked to before..?”

“You must mean my friend,” Hannah explained, clearly bewildered by a grandmother trying to destroy her own granddaughter’s magical birthday surprise and replace it with the hard, cruel reality of our cold and bitter world. Should Hannah tear off her clothes and start singing about how she can’t be tamed while we’re at it?

My mom wandered off and found my sister. “Did you know that’s not the same girl we hired? They must have sent someone else.”

She approved of Hannah’s blonde wig though.

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if i had a superpower…

I know I have to do something about the stress when every phone call, every email, every time someone just says hi makes me angry. I feel the moment of weakness and that only makes me angrier, knowing I’m in that moment and I can’t do anything about it. Worse yet is letting other people see that moment of weakness.

A friend told me a few days ago that he wasn’t going to feel sorry for me as I’m incredibly fortunate and have virtually no problems, comparatively speaking. He’s absolutely right. And I don’t feel sorry for me either. That would be ridiculous. But I still have those moments of weakness.

I’m only an ordinary person. Who wishes I had superhuman strength. But I don’t.

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this isn’t one of my good qualities

I step outside and stand in the tedious cab line. Normally, this goes quickly, but today, no cabs are in sight. The air is hot and sticky. My phone chimes with incoming mail. The cabs start arriving and the guy behind me jumps into a cab that pulls up beside him, waiting in its own cab line. I don’t know if he’s oblivious to how this is supposed to work or if he just doesn’t care. I glare at him. There’s nothing he can do about it as the automatic door of his cab-mini van slowly closes. I don’t even know why I glare at him, why I care. So, I have to wait an additional 30 seconds because some guy was an asshole.

At my turn in line, I start to walk towards my cab — the cab designated for me based on my place in line — and the taxi line keeper, the one who hands out the fare flyers that I always shun, stands in my way. “Where are you going?”

“Why do you need to know?”

This is what I actually say.

He keeps at me and some stubborn bitchy part of me doesn’t want to tell him where I’m going, just wants to get in my cab, away from the line and the heat and the noise.

He won’t relent.

“Why can’t I just tell the driver where I’m going?”

He goes off on a rant about how that cab doesn’t go to Virginia, just to DC. I tell him I’m not going to Virginia, I’m going to DC. He lets me go.

Maybe it’s some chip on my shoulder, angry every time someone assumes I’m in the wrong place or thinks I don’t know what I’m doing. This happens a lot at airports. Recurring scene: I’m standing in line at the ticker counter. The line minder asks me where I’m going. I have no idea why this is relevant. “This line is for business class for international flights.” “Yes. So says this sign I’m standing directly next to. I can read.”

One guy, understandably irritated at my lack of any shred of politeness told me he was only trying to help. “You’re not helping me.”

So maybe it’s that and maybe it’s that if I feel like I am constantly worn down by the noise. By people wanting things from me, needing things from me, relentless. My phone chimes again. More email. Please schedule a call with me tomorrow. I laugh. There’s no room in my schedule, not even for a call, for two weeks. I can’t even be left alone to get into a cab?

I know. I’m a jerk. There’s no part of me that thinks my reactions are justified.

I’m sitting in a hotel bar. The waitress says I should try the red velvet cupcake. They’re so good, she’s been known to eat three for dinner. But the other people in the bar are loud, inescapable. I close the browser tabs with my email. Log out of instant messaging. I feel too constantly accessible. It feels intrusive every time someone wants to be my friend on Facebook, on Foursquare.

This morning, at my apartment, before I left for the airport, before I was nonsensically rude to someone just trying to do their job in the humid, oppressive heat outside an airport, I saw a huge seal laying on one of the little boat docks. A baby has been hanging out the last few weeks, but this is the first time I’ve seen one of the parents.

But I had a plane to catch.

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beautiful and dirty rich

Sometimes I wonder how I got here. I can’t say that I should have planned my life better, because of course, I did plan. I planned and planned and it was all wrong and came crashing down and I was left with the realization that planning doesn’t always make things better. Sometimes it makes things worse. And good fucking God. Now, by not planning, I’ve ended up in an entirely better place. And I’m happy. Honestly, I’m amazingly happy. And lucky. And grateful.

I spent the weekend laying on the beach in Rio. As you lay there and watch the water, locals come by offering to sell you anything you might want: sunscreen, hats, sarongs, magazines, water, jewelry. They’ll bring a portable mini-grill over and make you lunch. You can get a massage. A new bikini. On Sunday, I stood at the base of Christ the Redeemer, wearing sandals I got in Jerusalem.

Then yesterday, I stood in my living room and watched the sun over the water and all I wanted to do was cry. What the fuck am I doing? Am I doing it all wrong?

Today, I drove to the bank . As I parked, I saw a crow on the ground, clearly dying. I didn’t want to look at him. As I opened my door, the sound of birds was deafening. I looked up, and hundreds of crows were circling the air, perching on wires and trees and rooftops. All crying, screaming. It was a little terrifying. They all were looking at the dying crow. By the time I left the ATM, the crow on the ground wasn’t moving anymore. The air grew quiet.

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