Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Worst Kind of Dude to Run Into at a Bar

I am alone at the bar, enjoying myself and watching my husband play guitar for the crowd, when a guy stumbles forward and requests a Pearl Jam song. I merrily compliment the guy's choice.

But within moments, it's all too clear.

I am now tangled in a conversation with The Worst Kind Of Dude in the World.

Let me count the ways.

1. He is explaining to me how good Pearl Jam is.
(Ok, so this dude doesn't know he's talking to the foremost Pearl Jam scholar in America, so I decide to let the mansplaining slide for a minute.)

2. Hold on. He then tells me that when he grows a beard, he looks JUST like Eddie Vedder.
(Game over. I'm sorry, scrawny dude with weak cheekbones and no chin, but this is impossible.)

are you for real with this?
3. He keeps screaming Pearl Jam lyrics and then forcing me to high five him.
(I don't want to keep doing this.) 

4. He keeps lamenting that even though he’s been to TWO THOUSAND concerts (as demonstrated by holding two fingers in front of my face repeatedly), he hasn't been able to see Pearl Jam yet.
(It's almost as though they haven't been touring the Northeast extensively for nearly 30 years. I refrain from mentioning that I've seen them 53 times because I'm afraid it will prompt him to tell me something that he thinks is more impressive than that.)

5. Now he's sitting at the bar, just bellowing "PEEEEEARRL JAAAAAAAAM" over the songs my husband is playing.

6. He just came back to my table and made me fist bump him.

7. He tells me "I'm feeling generous. Very generous," with a cocky smile before tipping my husband a single dollar. 

8. He wants his buddy to join us so now he's just sitting at my table and yelling "MY BRUTHA," over and over to the bar.

9. He's trying to describe the song "Wonderwall," but doesn't believe me when I tell him he's thinking of Oasis.

10. And finally, when my husband tells him he won't play any more Pearl Jam songs for him, the dude fishes his dollar bill back out of the pile of tips and mopes away.


Short of date rapists and serial killers, every woman knows that this is, truly, The Worst Kind of Man to Run Into at a Bar. (And even though he's probably not one of them, I'd still carry my drink to the bathroom with me before I ever left it alone near him.) He will continue to splash around the shallow end of the dating pool until he decides to settle down with a lady who deserves far better.

Be careful out there, ladies.

Monday, October 29, 2018

My Heart Breaks For the People in Squirrel Hill

As soon as I could afford to move out of my parents' house, I went to Squirrel Hill.

I was entranced. I didn't have a car, and I didn't care, because I felt like I had the whole world right outside my apartment. I was steps away from any kind of food I wanted, my library, little markets, and family-owned businesses that sold items from all over the world. (And even my own family's guitar shop.)

Squirrel Hill stayed open late, and I felt safe there, always sharing the sidewalk with someone making a late-night Korma run or families capping off their night with bubble teas and a peaceful stroll. And there were always neighbors who were happy to hang out at the spur of the moment. 

One night, I found myself sitting around a coffee table with a group of people from different age groups and backgrounds. The conversation turned to the day each person at the table had received their US citizenship. I had nothing to add to the conversation except my wide-eyed wonder, because I had never considered any of the feelings that my new friends were describing with teary-eyed pride and passion. I just felt lucky to be able to hear their stories and laugh at their jokes, all told in different accents. 

Squirrel Hill, and its community, and any place that fosters a melting pot of people, is SO special. I realize I am fortunate to be looking at Saturday's shooting from the outside in. But it breaks my heart that the community where I felt so safe and so exhilarated is grieving today. 

We must do better than this. ️

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ode to My Helpful, Healing Gemstones

They might relieve my headaches, boost my courage, and soothe my worries. Or they might just be pretty.

I loved crystals and gemstones when I was little. Now, as an adult with a paycheck, it delights me to drop thirty dollars on a bag of rocks on my way home from brunch.

My friend Christy rekindled my love of crystals when I was suffering from grief. When my dog passed away suddenly, Christy gave me love, sympathy, and a small green gemstone. For months, whenever the pain and loss seemed overwhelming, that little gemstone helped me stay grounded.

Whenever I felt crushed under a fresh wave of pain, I'd roll that gemstone in my palms and feel the cold contrast of the stone against my skin. I'd close my fingers around it, feeling it absorb my body heat and turn hot in my hand. I'd search for the tiny rainbows that bloomed inside it, or I'd close my eyes, reassured by its familiar weight and the knowledge that Christy cared about me. It interrupted my panic and brought me back to a gentler, more bearable moment.

That powerful little gemstone has another story, too strange and magical for most people to believe, so if you want to hear it, you'll have to ask me about it. But that gem reminded me that crystals make me feel good. The same way salt lamps give my home a cozy glow -- and may even purify the air, for all I know -- they feel good to have around.

Now I start each day by choosing a couple pretty gems to accompany me. Gems are thought to have metaphysical qualities, so I'll choose a milky white gem for its ability to inspire creativity, or my favorite purple-and-black gem, traditionally known to give strength to people with sick loved ones.

Since I've been in 10 (yes, 10) car accidents (that's another blog), I started keeping gems with protective qualities in my car. Maybe they're helping. They definitely make me a calmer driver. I rub their smooth, silky surfaces when I'm stopped in traffic, and I feel my driving-anxiety subside. 

A lifelong sufferer of headaches, I started wearing blue goldstone around my wrist for its anti-migraine properties. That and my Excedrine help turn my panic to reassurance when I feel a first twinge of pain. That alone helps me feel better.

I love how every gem has a different weight, a different texture, and looks completely different depending on how it's reflecting the present light or whatever it's sitting next to at the moment. Held at just the right angle, a plain black sphere might explode with sparkles ... then go right back to being a modest little rock in my pocket. It gives me moments of pure joy.

And I like thinking about everything each little gem has been through to get to me: the product of ancient processes, tremendous temperatures, pressure, time, and space many miles underneath the earth's surface. Tectonic plates collided and centuries-old magma delivered the the shimmering little specimen I can place next to my laptop.

That's magic, if you ask me.

Friday, October 6, 2017

My Love Life in 6 Tom Petty Songs


Free Fallin': I'm 9 years old and Free Fallin' is on the radio every time I get in my parents' car. I'm  entranced from its first airy strums. Scenery rolls by, but in my imagination, I'm a good girl who loves horses, and a handsome boy writes my name in the sky. My little-girl mind paints a music video set in a kingdom called Racida, and I feel deliciously secret longings about freeways and boys I haven't met yet. 

At school, a popular girl asks me what music I listen to. She is wearing a New Kids on the Block jacket covered with pancake-sized pictures of the band members' faces. I tell her I love "Free Fallin'," and she snorts, "You like Tom Petty?!" in a way that instantly tells me that I have given  the wrong answer.

I listen to "Free Fallin'" the next time it comes on the radio. Again, I'm swept away. Already, the line "The good girls are home with broken hearts" speaks to me in a way that New Kids on the Block never will.

Free Girl Now: I'm 29, and I'm fed up. The boyfriend I've adored with puppy-like devotion has let me down for the last time. I call my buddy James and tell him I've decided to break up with my boyfriend, for real this time. James makes me a celebratory playlist, and "Free Girl Now" is the track I play again and again.

It's hard to stay broken up, especially when my ex keeps trying to come back, but Tom Petty makes me feel like I can -- like I DESERVE --  to "Dazzle, dazzle the moon above." So I try.

Change the Locks: I fail. That same ex and I are on-again-and-off-again for several dramatic months. All the while, my dear friend James listens, rolls his eyes, and offers me the frustrated sympathy I need. Until one day, the break-up sticks. I'm ready to move on. James makes me a new playlist. This is the song I like best. The songs clangs into my apartment, blaring its mix of rage and sheer delight. I changed the name of this town! 


Walls: Some days are diamonds. Some days are rocks. I am in my early 30s, and I am devastated. Recently dumped by someone I trusted, I come to the conclusion that I did not get the life I wanted. It seems cruel and unfair because I believe, with every fiber of my being, that I was born to love. 

Sometimes I have dreams at night that I've found true love, and when I wake up and realize the man in my dream wasn't real, I cry. I feel certain that I could love a man with a fire and loyalty no one's ever seen.

Instead, I go numb. I cry some more. I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up. I play this song on repeat. "You got a heart so big/ It could crush this town/ And I can't hold out forever/ Even walls fall down." 

Angel Dream (No. 4): It finally happens. 

"I dreamed you, I saw your face.
Caught my lifeline
When drifting through space
I saw an angel
I saw my fate
I can only thank God it was not too late."

American Girl:  I'm 34. I'm wearing white and sparkles and everyone I love is there. My best friends and I are on the dance floor. My wonderful family has come from far away to be with me. With us. Outside, I see my groom  standing with his friends. 

Billy floods my vision as the DJ pulls up one of the songs I wanted to hear today. Good old Tom Petty. Billy beckons me outside to pose for a wedding photo, and I dance for one more moment before running outside, through the most perfect day I've ever had. 

Make it last all night.

R.I.P. Tom Petty.
Thank you for the music.  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Nothing I Can See But You So Keep Dancing

I have a confession. Every time I hear this song, my imagination provides a music video. It's simple but vivid: just me and my Beagle Porter, dancing in our tiny kitchen without a care in the world.

The video is a scene that happened plenty of times in real life: me grinning and spinning, swinging my arms awkwardly and with happy abandon. Porter is prancing on his feet, ears flapping, his face radiating blissful devotion as he gazes up at me -- the way he always did.

I think the song strikes me this way because of this line:

"Nothing I can see but you."

That's how Porter loved. Porter had been abused, rescued, and nursed back to health, and he seemed to give me credit for all of it. He adored me. And judging by his clingy devotion, he didn't think he could live without me. Friends laughed if I asked them to hold Porter's leash as I dashed inside a coffee shop. Porter's whole world would grind to a halt, and he'd stare after me, frozen, panicked, and unable to function until I returned to him.

But the rest of the time, Porter was joyful. That was his gift to me: sunshine and joy at a time when I needed it most.

I will never stop feeling like I was robbed when I lost Porter. His accident was brutal and cruel and it pops back into my mind to remind me of the doom that waits around every corner, ready to take away everyone I love. Some days, it's a lot of work to fend off this feeling.

That's why I'm happy for this silly Justin Timberlake song, and all the memories of my little angel dog. Today I'm working in my yard, playing this song on repeat, crying a little, but letting my heart ache with gratitude and joy.

Can't stop the feeling, so just dance, dance, dance.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Just an Update

Me, horrified:  "We have a hole."

My living room, currently.

Billy, helpfully: "Well, one of your favorite bands is called Hole!"

I'm feeling overwhelmed this week. We're waiting for an insurance adjuster to come look at the big, soggy hole in our living room ceiling. The plumber said we may have to tear up our bathroom to get it fixed.

Our house has pretty much been under construction since June, which has been mentally and financially exhausting, making me miss the days when I just paid my rent and bought another designer handbag, without checking my bank balance. 

We celebrated our dog's second anniversary with us, and days later, came home to find her panting, trembling, and unable to walk. It looked like she was dying. Two vet appointments later, we found out her spine is dropping, or degenerating. She needs pain medicine every 12 hours and a new, gentle routine.

There are plenty of bigger, actual disasters to put things in perspective. Seeing those horrible headlines and heartbreaking photos is overwhelming, too.

In the mean time, here are some things I love right now:

  • Downward Dog, which I didn't discover until after it was cancelled, but I am enjoying watching a TV show about a woman who lives in Pittsburgh and works in marketing and loves her dog. Just like me! The scenes when she walks him in Frick Park break my heart and make me long for Porter so badly, I ache. But the show still makes me happy.

  •  Weekend dinners with my parents and husband. Today we went to Mindful Brewing.
  • Big amethyst clusters like this one on my Instagram. I have 6 of these now and I can't stop buying them. I read that they have properties that help you sleep well so I put two next to my bed.
  • Sending and receiving zine-style mail with my best girl, Madge. We've been packaging up treasure troves of collages, mini paintings, stickers, handmade booklets, and letters. A great mail day is a great day indeed.
  • The butterflies in my yard. They are so beautiful, and inspired me to dust off my real cameras. I took this picture and hope to get to blown up some day for our walls! 

That's all I had to say for now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Life With My Husband

Billy: "Boy, I loooooove watching videos of animals falling asleep. There's one that's so funny. Have you seen it? It's one of those ... what are those animals you like? Lemurs?"

Me: "I like meerkats."

Billy: "Then what's a lemur?"

[ We Google "lemur." ]

Billy: Okay, then I was talking about meerkats.

[ Billy shows me this video ]

Billy and me: [ Fits of giggles. ]

Billy: I'm serious though, Google "Animals falling asleep. I've done it. It's the best!"

Saturday, August 19, 2017

That Pillow Fight in Wal-Mart: 4 Years Later

Four years ago today, my (future) husband and I went on our second date.

The night grew long, but Billy and I didn't want it to end. We drove around looking for something to do. We found that Wal-Mart was open, so we went inside, roamed the aisles, and found ourselves in the pillow aisle having a slaphappy pillow fight.

I already felt different with Billy than I ever had with anyone else. I found him exhilarating and exciting, but I felt perfectly comfortable with him. Like I could leave all my worries and hang-ups and insecurities at the curb and just enjoy him. Us. The feeling of sharing space with someone who could turn me on, calm me down, challenge me, and take care of me. 

I could surrender to this man. But this time it was different, because I wouldn't lose myself. Billy adored me too, and made me shine brighter than I did alone. Only two dates in, I was already certain that I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life.

Fast-forward to four years later. This morning. We're doing one of our favorite things: watching a cooking competition on Hulu and debating who should win, and who actually will. Billy made me a big plate of eggs and fresh tomatoes, just like I wanted, and I try to finish them all so he'll know how much I liked them.

As he reaches out and drapes a hand across my leg, I sizzle with excitement.

Still true:

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Tonight, at a party, I chatted with my dad and two other women.

A man came up to us, inserted himself into our circle, and interrupted the woman next to me.

"Looks like they're beating up on you," he said, and waited for my dad to laugh.

My dad looked at him, blankly, and turned back to the woman who'd been speaking.

"It's just you and three ladies," the man continued, poking my dad.

"Yes, and they're all so nice," my dad,
                                                    my wonderful dad,

Sunday, April 30, 2017

This is What You Married, Buddy

Scene From Our Marriage:

Billy:     What are you doing?

Me:        Um. [ holds up phone]

Monday, April 3, 2017

The First Dog I Ever Loved

This is a picture of Nookie, the first dog I ever loved, taken in 1975.

Nookie spent the first two years of her life as a guard dog at an auto body shop. This elegant and tender-hearted girl made a lousy guard dog (She loved to drink beer and was frequently found passed out drunk on the concrete floor). She went to live with my grandmother, and the two fell blissfully in love.

As you can see, Nookie was better suited for portrait sittings, evening strolls and belly rubs. I was smitten with her and pestered her endlessly, but she sweetly tolerated me and taught me how to love and respect animals. 💜💜

It made me so happy to find this photo at my parents' house today.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Two Things I Am Grateful For Today

1. This cat.

Firefly is 17-and-a-half, has only one tooth, and lives with (carefully managed) irritable bowel syndrome and high blood pressure. She doesn't like to play or even leave her bedroom much anymore, which means she really only likes one thing: cuddling with me. She lives to cuddle with me. She waits for me, on her favorite chair, all day long. When I sit with her, whether for five minutes or a couple hours, she purrs and languishes and gazes at me. She shows me that I've literally made her whole day.

It's really sweet.

2. The life my husband gave me.

Last night, we went on a date to see his friends Justin and Brian play music. We enjoyed good music, good food, and best of all, we got to share the band's excitement when they nailed a song particularly well.

I realize that if I hadn't held out so long, I could have ended up with someone whose passion is video games or college basketball. That kind of life would not have thrilled me or even suited me at all. Instead, I got the only life I'm really suited for: traveling and hanging out with with bands and musicians.

Musicians aren't like any other kind of people, and they are my favorite people. Especially this one.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Heaven is Wherever My Animals Are


I didn’t grow up religious, but there are a couple things I place all my faith in:

1. Being good feels good.
2. Being bad feels bad.
3. When you die, all the animals you’ve ever loved come running to greet you.

Thinking about #3 has helped me through some dark days of grief. Now, when I die and cross over to the other side, I have my arrival all planned out. 


Woody will spot me first. Here on Earth, Woody used to lay inside the door of my dad’s guitar shop, casting a stern gaze at all the passers-by. Each time I approached the shop, he’d narrow his wary eyes … until I got close enough for him to recognize me.

I’d wait for it … that precise, adorable moment when Woody spotted me from afar. His whole expression would change. His alert ears would drop. His squared shoulders would go soft. His eyes would go wide and bright as his mouth opened in a doggie grin.

Yes, when I die, Woody will make his wiggly way toward me first.

But Porter, my dear, angel Porter, won’t be far behind. When Porter and I shared an apartment, he slept on a futon in the spare bedroom all day while I was at work. I lived for the moment when I pushed open our back door each day. Porter, waking with a start, would burst out of his bedroom, slide sideways into view, then get tangled in his own Beagle feet as he did a quick, gleeful pivot in the foyer.

One day, I’ll see him come tumbling into to view again … then careen around the clouds, galloping, ears flapping, and diving into my arms. I can’t wait to feel his stocky little body and bury my nose in his turkey-dinner smell. 


(Oh Porter! I miss you most of all.)


Betty and Nookie, the regal ladies, will bring up the rear. Betty won’t be the crooked, sick old girl I said goodbye to. She’ll be the sleek, athletic Husky who used to race me down grassy hills — thundering past me in a joyful blur. That’s the Betty I’ll see again. Billy the brown dog, my first love, will take his polite place in line, and sometimes, I feel like I can't even wait.

It breaks my heart to think of it now, as she sleeps beside me, but by then, my beloved cat Firefly will be there too. Her health has been failing, and every day seems like a bittersweet reason to celebrate. I don’t want her to go, but when she does, I hope she waits for me, too.

I hope it with all my heart.  


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Nothing Good (or Fair) Comes Without a Fight

I just finished the book “America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines” and here’s what I think we need to understand today:
  1. Our nation was built, and civilized, in no small part by the backbreaking work of women, slaves, and immigrants. Women have done this work while shouldering the burden of pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing.

  2. Today, most men and women can’t even fathom the near-constant opposition American women have faced throughout history. Women could teach, run their husband’s plantations, serve as nurses and even surgeons on our military’s front lines, but could not vote, sign a lease, or, until 1974 (!!!), have a credit card. (To name only a few things.)

  3. The reason we don’t have to worry about so many of these things now is because of women’s RELENTLESS fighting, protesting, and marching. These rights were hard won by women who dedicated their lives — enduring shame, abuse, and arrest — to making sure we wouldn’t have to.

  4. For every American woman who dared to wear pants, work outside the home, or fight for basic equality, there were other women who shamed her and fought just as hard against her. Yes, many women fought against their own equality, and continue to do so today.

  5. So many women like me can’t imagine fighting for rights simply because we’ve been basically, if not perfectly, FINE for 30+ years. I hope that this has not made us lazy and soft. I hope that we can be courageous and organized enough to fight for ourselves and our fellow Americans.

Nothing good or fair comes without a fight.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Beagle Who Brought Me Back to Life


Four years ago today, this little dog saved me.

I worked for an animal shelter, where I’d met thousands of adoptable dogs. But this dog, Porter, was unlike every one of them.

He came along like an answer to a prayer. I was going through a tough time, and nothing, not even medication, could rescue me from constant sadness. I wanted to give up.

This sick, abused little dog looked even worse than I felt. He was catatonic. He had given up.    

So I took him home with me. Porter recovered from illness. I recovered from loneliness. 

In particular, I found the strength to break away from a relationship that was very, very bad for me.

With Porter by my side, I took long walks. I started a new hobby. I found dog-friendly restaurants and took him out to eat. All the while, Porter's clingy devotion to me was actually funny. He gazed at me like I was an angel. 

But he was my angel. Somehow, having an adoring little dog helped bring me back to life.

I got better. I was free. And just in time. Because just months after Porter came along, I met my husband, and I was ready for him. I was no longer a broken, shell of a person. I was happy, excited, and ready to start a new life. I shed my baggage, and Porter, Billy, and I became a family.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me.


Porter left us too soon, in an accident so awful, it sometimes overshadows my memories of our time together. But that little dog and I had an otherworldly bond, and we still do. Sometimes I get an overwhelming feeling that he’s not so far away.

No matter how badly it hurts to think of Porter now, I’ll always be grateful for the gift he gave me. I only knew him for 2 years, but when he healed me, he gave me a whole new life.

xo, my sweet love.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rich Men, Poor Men, and The Best Kind of Men: How to Choose

This weekend, a lovely lady that I know was set up on a date.

She and the man went to a bar. He ordered several drinks while she sipped one. When their bill came, she offered to chip in. He paid for her drink, and said, “No, you can pick up the next tab.”

Then, at the next bar, the man ordered seven appetizers, including a platter of mussels that my friend was allergic to. Then, as promised, he let my friend pick up the tab.

Dudes, the jig is up on this one.

We know this trick. In my single days, it happened to me too.

Unfortunately, a nice girl will pay for “the next thing.” But that’s going to be your last interaction with her, because you’ve just revealed yourself to be a cheap, lousy date.

While we’re on the subject, let’s address “cheap date.” Why would an enlightened feminist like myself care about a cheap date? After all, some of my favorites dates — like a dog walk in the park with my now-husband — were free or inexpensive. 

Because being cheap with someone you’re supposed to like reveals something about you. I dated rich men and poor men, and learned that income doesn’t matter: the best men are generous men.

Ladies, ditch the man who orders shellfish on your tab.

Marry the man who packs your favorite candy for the movies.

He’ll be the one who gives you his jacket when you’re cold. Who carries a cup of coffee up the stairs to deliver it to you in bed. He will save you the last French fry.

This is the man who will love you best.

 It's worth holding out for!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Friends are the Family We Choose: My Friend Chris

“Today our model is wearing a charming ensemble featuring corduroy overalls. Look how effortlessly she completes the outfit with a lovely white turtleneck! She ties it all together with a pair of casual sneakers. Ooohh la la!”

            I was 5 years old, and this was my go-to game when my mom’s friend Chris came around. I’d make a grand entrance in whatever outfit my mom had put me in that morning, and Chris would describe my little-kid ensemble as though I had stepped onto a catwalk.
            When I was a kid, I thought Chris was one of greatest people in the world. I still do.

            Chris and my mom grew up as best friends and neighbors, but to me, Chris has always been family. Birthdays were always more special when she was around. Even being dragged to the grocery store with my mom became fun and exciting if Chris was coming too. I horned in on as many of their outings as I could, and Chris always made me feel like I was just one of the ladies.  

            Chris showed up when times were tough, too. When I was 15, my grandfather died unexpectedly. His death didn’t really hit me until I got to his funeral, and suddenly, I started crying and couldn’t stop. I stood there, helpless and panicking, while sobs took over my body.

            Suddenly, Chris was there. She whisked me into another room, pulled a Kleenex out of her purse for me, and distracted me. I don’t remember what she said, but it was the right thing. Soon, I was smiling, and even laughing. Chris had rescued me. To this day, she is always the first to step up when my family or I need it.

             Over the years, Chris was always there with a funny joke and a big heart. And she always came up with fun things to do. She, my mom, and I went to Atlantic City, a mountain resort, and even just to the DMV — because even the worst errands were fun when we were together.

            I’m in my 30s now, but Chris still tells me “You’re JUST A KID” every time she tries to pay my way when we do something fun. Now, we fight over who gets to treat. But I wasn’t prepared for what she did two years ago.

            I was planning my wedding on a tight budget. I decided try on gowns at a bridal shop, find my favorite dress, and search for something similar — but thousands of dollars cheaper — on eBay. Since the bridal shop was right in Chris’s neighborhood, my mom and I invited her to join us for lunch.

            Chris came to the bridal shop with us.  As the clerk buttoned me in to my favorite gown — the one I loved the moment I walked in — my heart simultaneously soared and sank. This dress was absolutely perfect. I had come so close, but so far, to finding a dress as beautiful as I'd dreamed of.

            That’s when Chris revealed her secret plan. She’d come to pay for my wedding gown: one of the most special parts of our big day. I couldn’t believe it. Just like that, my dream dress was mine. 


            Chris has taught me several things.

·      The time is always right to play a little prank on someone.

·      If you get bored, you can always play a game to entertain yourself and your friends, like, “Which of these weird things would you eat if you had to or else someone was going to shoot you?”

·      It’s usually best to be nice. Except for when it’s not.

·      Always spoil the people you love.
            Some people come from big families with lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I come from a tiny family, but I got the best deal. I got Chris.

I love you!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Us, at Home

This is my new favorite picture.

This is a photo of my husband, Billy, sitting on our staircase. I was sitting in my home office, trying to focus on something at my desk. Billy was, as he often is, buzzing with thoughts and ideas and just couldn't stop talking to me. He knew he wasn't supposed to come into my office, so he planted himself on the other end of our hallway, and happily chattered at me while I attempted -- and gave up on -- my task at hand.

He just couldn't stop talking to me, and I am so grateful for it. I can't believe I didn't find him until I was 33, because that enthused, earnest face would have made me swoon when I was a teenager in study hall, too.

I love being his person -- the single human who gets all of him, the play-by-play of his overactive but always interesting brain.

The holiday season is about to come to its official close, and I know that what I will miss most is being home during the day with Billy. We're like two kids in this house. One afternoon, we practiced pull-ups, attempted to weigh the cat, danced around changing all the lyrics to Chritsmas carols to be about our Beagle, and ate lunch in front of Netflix.

Everything is fun with him. I appreciate every moment.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It sure feels like the end of December, because:
  • Everyone around me seems to be operating in a friendly, half-assed manner. People are staying home from work. No one's scheduling meetings. We've collectively decided to phone it in.
  • With no one going to work, rush hour traffic is a breeze.
  • Stuff's on sale.
  • Basically, after a shitty year, folks seem to be taking it down a notch for one week. 
I think this, the week between the excitement of Christmas and New Years, might truly be the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. This is the time when we get to bask in the glow of Christmas without stressing or rushing to the next relative's house. The decorations are up, deadlines were met one way or another, and all our presents still seem new and exciting. I truly feel like I have everything I need.

This holiday season, I spent time with my favorite people and animals, gave some presents I was really excited about, got some presents I was overjoyed about (like my long-lusted after honeybee flatware from Billy), collected donations for people in need, slept a lot, made my home extra cozy, and tried to enjoy each of my moments.

Part of me can't wait for next year. The other part of me knows that we can't know how this year will go and who will still be here next year. So until then, I'll be holding tight to all the cheer in my heart. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Let's Make Hateful Behavior Burn Itself Out

There's a concept in behavioral therapy known as the extinction burst:

When you're trying to remove a behavior, whether it's a toddler's tantrums, or, let's say, xenophobia or misogyny, often you will actually see an increase in that behavior before it dies.

This morning, reflecting on the concept of the extinction burst has brought my only flicker of hope

We have witnessed the most vile side of American behavior. Voters screaming "Hang the n*gger. Men shouting "Grab her by the p*ssy" as though it's a slogan for empowerment. A female presidential candidate being subjected to double standards I once would have considered laughable. 

But something else is happening. People -- vulnerable people -- are talking about this. We are finding support among each other. We are emboldened by each other.

You may see this as a far stretch, but I have seen the extinction burst in action. When Michael Vick was busted for hanging, drowning, electrocuting, and shooting dogs, I worked for an animal welfare organization. 

We'd spent decades trying to, among other things, bust dog fighting rings and educate the public about pit bulls. It took Michael Vick to get the media on our side. Immediately after his ugly deeds came to light, the news, and the public, turned to us with questions and sympathy for these dogs. TV, radio, newspapers and magazines turned to us. We finally got to speak for misunderstood dogs, and in their spotlight, the dogs positively shined. There were animal abusers, yes, but there were also people who came forward to heal and love the victims. 

Our humane officer, who had seen the most violent side of dog fighting, suggested that Vick, a criminal and a bully, might have been the best thing to happen to pit bulls. 

Let this horrible election empower vulnerable people the same way. Let's have important conversations now.

Let us find our voices the way the bullies have. Let's be brave enough to stop hate in its tracks. Voting was not enough. Let us stand up for ourselves and each other. 

It is my greatest hope today.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Amanda in Hawaii for the wise Facebook post that inspired this post. You were my bright spot in a dismal morning.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I Married an iPod: Marriage and Comfortable Chatter

We just can't stop talking.

I cannot read a book around my husband. I can hold a book open, and look at it, but every few sentences, Billy will have something new to tell me.  After he interrupts me enough times, I give up and chat with him instead. I don’t mind.

Billy would tell this story the other way around, and that’s fair. I’m usually bursting with things to tell him, too. This is most evident in the morning. I wake up before he does, and somehow, I’m always dying to tell him about my dreams, how I slept, and everything I have to do that day.

I try my hardest not to unload my thoughts on Billy until he’s ready. I wait until he initiates conversation with me. This is what I call “opening the floodgates.”

“Morning,” he’ll mumble from his pillow.

This is my cue to tell him all the thoughts I’ve been holding in since we went to bed.

Even when we’re apart, Billy and I tend to tell each other everything. We text each other — a lot. Friends are used to watching me send him pictures of my food and updates about where I am and what's going on. I try to be discreet about it, but if something funny happens, I can’t resist texting Billy the play-by-play.

To be honest, this is what I love most about him. I love his earnest, undivided attention. And I love being the person who gets an unfiltered gaze into his wondrous brain. I was lucky to marry a man who is smart, funny, creative, and wildly unpredictable. His train of thought blazes like wildfire, moving from topic to topic and veering into unexpected directions. Or maybe he’s more like an iPod on shuffle — constantly streaming new songs and new ideas into my eager ears.

I like to think that I keep him on track. When he careens down a path of self-doubt, I reel him back in. And when I need reassurance, a laugh, a fresh perspective, or just a place to put my wandering thoughts, he never leaves me hanging.

Some couples have comfortable silence. Billy and I have comfortable incessant chatter.

May he never run out of things to tell me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Time a Stranger Grabbed Me Between My Legs

Thirteen years ago, I was riding the bus home from work. I sat near the front of the bus on a bench seat facing the aisle. I read a book.

Suddenly, a man grabbed my thigh. I flinched. He moved his hand into my crotch.

I slapped his hand. He kept touching me. I clenched my legs together. He forced his hand harder between them while I pushed his arm, helplessly.

He grinned.

I don't think I made a sound. I was so stunned, part of me didn't believe it was happening. I looked up and realized that several people, directly across from me, were watching in surprised silence while I tried to push a much-stronger man off of me.

Finally, an older woman came to my rescue. She was small but stern, and had the air of a schoolteacher. She sat down on the other side of me and scolded the man. He reached for me one last time, and she scolded him again. He laughed, then got up and exited the bus.

I only remember one thing about the rest of that humiliating ride home.

A man, directly across from me, grinned at me. I thought he felt embarrassed for not standing up for me. But then he said these words to me: "Come on, honey. Smile."

He told me I should smile.


I felt helpless and scared when that happened. But most of all, I was mad. No one should have to worry about protecting their private parts while they sit on a bus. I knew that man's behavior wasn't normal.

That should never be normal

And the thing is, I really thought my fellow women agreed with me on that.


Last week, we watched a presidential candidate talk about grabbing women between their legs. He called it "locker room talk," even though he wasn't in a locker room. He dismissed it.

And his supporters, blinded by devotion, or more likely, hatred, dismissed it too.

They compared his behavior to movies, books, and rap songs -- all forms of entertainment. But running the country isn't entertainment. Not even if you put a reality TV star on the job.

I am ashamed of all of these people.


When a man talks dirty about a woman's body, that's vulgar. When he talks about grabbing her private parts without consent, that is violent.

Next month, we get to make a choice. We get to decide what we tolerate. We get to choose what is normal.

What you condone, you accept as normal.

If you tell me that sexual assault is normal -- that it's just part of being a man, then I am deeply afraid.

I am afraid to work for you.

I am afraid to ride the bus with you. 

I am afraid of your sons.

I am afraid to live in the country you made.

And I am ashamed for you.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Why I'm Tired

Midnight: Dog can not find suitable position on humans' expensive Tempurpedic bed. After much flailing, decides to sleep sideways across the middle. Growls when we try to move her.

1am: Cat has decided to grace us with her presence. Snuggles under the covers, but gets mad and stomps around every time I stop petting her.

3am: Dog is dreaming. Kicks wildly. Emits muffled barks until soothed back to sleep.

4am: Cat, fed up with lack of attention, storms off in a huff.

5:50am: Cat, sensing that the alarm will go off soon, jumps the gun and announces to all that it's time for breakfast.
Dog cannot be roused.

10:19am, at my desk: Zzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Secret Truth I Wish I Had Known When I Was Looking For Love

I fell in love a bunch of times, in my life.

And then, one day, I fell in love for real.

Oh, it always seemed real at the time. Like when my long-term boyfriend and I decided to move in together. And when I vowed to help my next boyfriend overcome his pain and addiction. Or that time I got dumped and sank into the depths of despair, certain that part of me had died.

I loved with all my heart! This is why, when friends tell me that they love their inattentive, cheating, lying, or just plain disappointing partners, I believe them.

Sometimes, you find yourself in a complicated love story. I have, too.


Then one day, I met my husband.

It felt different right away, and it felt exciting. I'm a lifelong music fan and he's a musician. Suddenly, I was going backstage at concerts and going home with the hot guitar player. Everyone who knew me -- the person who keeps a passport just to follow my favorite band -- said we were perfect together. I was breathless with delight when I told my parents that I was in love.

My dad said something I didn't understand at the time. "Maybe you're in love," he said. "But you'll know it when it gets boring."

I couldn't imagine this hot, exciting relationship ever getting boring. And, I thought my dad was just being a dad ... telling me to play it safe, when all I wanted to do was dive head-first into a fit of passion. Who wanted boring?

But now, whenever I watch people I care about rake their hearts over the coals of bad love, I see what my dad meant.

Good love can be exciting, sure. But more than anything else, good love is easy.


By the time Billy proposed to me, I was madly in love with him. Our courtship and wedding were a dream. Billy was -- and still is -- unlike anyone I'd ever dated, for a million different reasons.

But to my surprise, that became even more clear after we were married. When the excitement became routine, and suddenly, we were faced with:

A mortgage. Taxes. Chores. A tragic accident that killed our dog. Grief. Ailing parents. Work. Traffic and brutal commutes. Bad days. PMS. Stress. Surgery. Anxiety. Mistakes. Shitty moods. More bad days.

Our love was this naked, vulnerable thing that could only crumble under the weight of it all ... or ... shine brighter than everything else.

It was when I was at my worst that Billy showed me true love.


I thought I was good at loving because I was so used to offering up my heart. But Billy taught me about good love.

Good love is when making your partner happy makes you happy.

Good love is when you trust your partner to do the right thing for you -- and your family -- every time.

Good love is comfortable. 

Good love is mutual.

Good love is something you protect and honor. And when times are tough, you draw strength from it.

Good love makes a murky situation clear: you do right by your partner, and everything else falls into place. 


When I look back on past loves, they feel very, very different. I had love that made me feel comfortable (like a bad habit). I had love that made me feel excited (sometimes, despite my best judgement).

But those love stories came with twists and turns and false starts. They were difficult. They weren't right. I wish I could have seen it at the time:

Good love is easy.

Life is hard enough. Good love makes it easier.

If you haven't found good love, get out! Keep looking!


Maybe your love story got off to a rocky start. Maybe it came with divorce, depression, debt, a disapproving parent, a bitter ex. Whatever you're coping with, I'm not here to tell you that your love story isn't real. Maybe it is.

But I do hope your love makes it easy. Good love makes a complicated situation so much simpler.

Good love makes you put each other's needs first. So if your so-called soulmate is in the midst of a great battle, I hope love drives them to make the right choices: to pick you, and your well-being, over everything else.

If they love you, it will be easy to do.

I wish you love.