Boring Adult Things

Talking Shit and Learning Lessons

I really screwed up this week. In a fit of anger, I vented about a friend to a mutual friend of ours (over text, no less). She had opened the door by inquiring about the status of my friendship with this other person, and I exploded. Word-vomited all over the phone. All the anger I had been storing up came out. And I meant every word of it, but the delivery was awful. It was stark and naked and furious. It was full of hurt and stemmed from what I saw as betrayal. My back had been broken from a recent straw and I vented to someone I shouldn’t have.

I never would have thought this mutual friend would immediately share my texts with the person I was upset with. Had I wanted to confront her, I would have done so in a much kinder and thoughtful way. But here my raw feelings were, laid bare and angry, and now I’ve lost several friendships. I have no regrets cutting out the person who had zero concerns sharing my innermost thoughts with someone they would hurt. And I honestly know that the feelings I had that caused such anger were real. They weren’t baseless. And I’m still hurting. But I don’t think of myself as a mean person and I was. So today, I grieve. I grieve for the possibility of ever rekindling a love and trust again for or from the friends I’d had. And I grieve for the kind person I thought I was, which I’m clearly not. Anger gets the best me sometimes. And it’s vile.

It’s been a hard year. That’s where a lot of this came from; this fury. I’ve gone on literally 30 business trips this year and recently returned to have my son clinging to me like a caged monkey, terrified I would leave again and not come back. Politics have taken a serious toll on my mental health, and the election I had invested everything in went the wrong way. I’ve gone through a seriously deep depression, which I had asked for help with from this friend, and she never followed up. B and I have been in an utter panic over childcare because we just don’t have enough resources to cover all the last-minute stuff that seems to happen. Work with my main client has been rough and I’ve been concerned about the future of the company. I’ve been a maid of honor and have been breaking my back (and wallet) to throw two bachelorette parties and a bridal shower (not that I’m upset about it – just another spinning ball). My child is in a very rough stage where he’s impossible to please and even more impossible to keep in one place for more than 30 seconds at a time (if he’s not running through a tunnel screaming joyfully, he’s on the floor rolling around like a worm and throwing a tantrum). I’ve had challenges with extended family. I’ve been taking classes outside of work. I’ve been really upset about my body image.

I felt like for all of the giving my heart had offered her, my friend didn’t know the first thing about me or any of my plights, nor did she care. I don’t know if that’s the reality but it’s certainly how it felt.

I don’t know where I go from here. I can’t say my feelings about the past have changed, so maybe it’s all for the best. I had a really good talk with the friend I hurt about everything, but the nerves are very raw on both sides and I’m not sure if we’ll move forward. I am deeply grateful she, while very hurt, was understanding about why I vented and knows how sorry I am that I brought a mutual person into it.

As human beings, we have some true evil inside of us. A yellow puss that runs through our hearts and backs up until the pressure is relieved. If you have a long-standing issue with someone, I encourage you to address it in a productive way, lest you do what I did and realize what an asshole you are.

Be kind. Be smart. Be suspicious. Be forgiving, and be apologetic. And if you can’t be all of those things, at least choose three.

Boring Adult Things, mom blog

The Village

I’m not someone who asks for favors. When I ask you to help me out, it’s because I’m desperate. Feeling indebted to others is one of the things I despise most about being a human in a world with other humans. I will be the first to jump to your aid, but I much prefer the transactional nature of financial exchanges over asking for charity.

I think that’s where you’ll find the crux, here: I look at favors like charity. Like asking friends for a helping hand makes me weak or dependent. Like I can’t take care of myself or my family.

Similarly, we don’t have family that lives close to us. Our nearest immediate family members are a 2 hour drive away, which is nice when Brandon and I need to get out for a full night or have backup care for business trips. But in case of an emergency, our options are limited. Paid sitters aren’t available last-minute much of the time. Sometimes, shit happens.

I was stuck on the tarmac the other night on a flight that wasn’t taking off. I was more than three hours delayed when I realized I wouldn’t make it back in time for Brandon to make it to his final hockey game of the season. He is the goalie, so if he doesn’t play, the team doesn’t play – especially if he drops out last minute. He of course wouldn’t have left Cameron alone while I was flying back, but we were in a real jam because he had to get out the door.

Enter The Village. Through gritted teeth, I texted 2 of my friends and Brandon texted another set to see if someone would mind coming over on a Thursday night to sit at our house while Cam slept and I worked to get home. Brandon even offered to take him to someone else’s house so as not to inconvenience anyone too much.

The friends he texted, friends we have had for years, refused due to “an early morning,” as though we had asked them out for drinks rather than reaching out in an emergency. I have never been so floored that one of the only favors we’ve ever asked of them was rejected so soundly when we were really in between a rock and a hard place.

One of the people I texted was at work (nurses–the nerve, huh?!) and the other was someone I had been MIA from for a couple months. I had been thinking about her recently and how I hadn’t been the greatest friend because I was traveling so much I hadn’t checked in. I felt terrible asking her for a favor, particularly in light of all that, but she was instantly at our house while her husband stayed with their kiddo. “That’s what moms do,” she said. “We’re a village!”

It’s moments like this that remind you how much friendship truly means, and what a blessing it is to have a village. Moms, particularly those without family close by, sometimes end up in jams. I remember my parents asking our neighbors to watch me in the middle of the night when my brother was born. You pick the kids up at school when someone is stuck. In the case of our nanny share, the host family’s moms were more than happy to watch Cam for an extra couple hours while Brandon was stuck in some horrendous traffic back from Nashville. It’s just what you do. I would do the same in a heartbeat for any of them.

This experience also reminded me how important it is to cultivate relationships with the people that matter to you, and to distance yourself from those who don’t share your values. I am so grateful to have a community of loved ones–my chosen family–and I’m making it a pledge this year to not take them for granted. And maybe to get a little less freaky about asking for favors. But I’ll still never want to.

Boring Adult Things, mom blog

Who wants to be ordinary in a crazy mixed-up world?

Let’s do a quick recap of where things stand, as I sit about halfway past 31 (WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?) and actively working on the rest of the items on my list. I realize as I made this, I was being pretty ambitious. But I think it’s possible.

In other news, the fam is good and business is chugging along nicely. Here are some of the latest pics from life – can you believe my baby is almost 2?

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Yeah, I friggin’ saw Obama and yeah, he friggin’ waved at me!img_2351img_2430img_2494img_2538img_2458img_2561

Kathleen’s bachelorette party in Vegas!

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TRAVEL A LOT

40. Machu Picchu. Duh.

39. Go to Australia.

38. Go to Africa.

37. Complete Handstands Across America. (To date, I’ve hit GA, SC, NC, TN, PA, WV, VA, FL, AZ, NY, NJ, CT, AL, CO, IL, and WY.)

I’ve added Nevada – check it out! I need to get MD because we went there and I forgot to take a pic. We have family up there.

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36. Take Cameron to a place that’s non-English-speaking.

We will be going to Mexico City and Oaxaca as a family in March!

35. Take my mom on a vacation.

MAKE SOME MONEY

34. Increase my income by 10% at least one year.

I doubled my income this year.

33. Attend at least 5 networking events each year.

I think I’m on track with this. It’s amazing how small and incestuous my industry is!

32. Take a continuing education course in a related field.

I’m knocking this out for sure. And I’m learning a ton.

 

BE A GOOD MOM

31. Help Cameron with his homework. Even when I don’t understand it.

30. Log at least one solid moment where I go, “My kid made the choice to do the RIGHT thing.”

29. Tell Cameron EVERY SINGLE DAY that I love him.

 

BE A GOOD WIFE

28. Show Brandon at least once a month how much I really appreciate him – even when he’s driving me COMPLETELY INSANE for whatever reason.

I think I’ve been pretty decent at this one!

27. Have a date night alone with Brandon at least once a month.

We haven’t been great about this but we’re working on it!

 

DISCONNECT

26. Give up Facebook (or whatever the hot thing of the moment is) for a SOLID month.

I already did this, but I’m taking another couple months off for the holidays, and it’s been LOVELY.

25. Go on at least 10 family outings completely without my phone.

24. Turn off the TV for a month. Before 30, I struggled to do this for a week. Let’s up the game.

 

STAY HEALTHY

23. Run another 15k.

22. Take fitness classes at least once a week for 6 months – jazzercise, dance, Zumba, kickboxing, yoga… whatever.

Um yeah, probably need to get on this.

21. Go a month without alcohol.

This one too.

20. Go a month without bread.

 

BE ADVENTUROUS

19. Participate in a big cultural event (like I wanted to before 30 :).

18. Run for a public office.

17. Learn another new skill (welding, embroidery, calligraphy, etc).

 

CHILL OUT

16. Do absolutely nothing for a full weekend.

15. Write in a journal every day for a month.

14. Read a few more classic books.

13. Go on vacation somewhere that’s purely relaxing, not necessarily an “adventure” destination, just to enjoy it.

 

BE A GOOD FRIEND

13. Send care packages to 10 friends for no good reason.

12. Check in more often on friends who are going through crappy times.

Really trying my best to do this. I probably need to get better, though.

 

PROTECT MY INVESTMENTS

11. Get my retirement savings to $500k by age 40.

On track for this, at least early on. We added about $40k this year.

10. Diversify my investments – BitCoin? International real estate? Etc?

We have some solid cash in crypto, and I don’t love how it’s doing, but we’re in it for the long haul. Also hoping to move into real estate in the next couple years.

9. Keep 6 months worth of savings in the bank “just in case.”

I don’t know that we’ve hit this (other than if you count our savings for a basement renovation and our retirement, which I don’t), but we have maybe 3 solid months right now.

8. Keep, and stick to, a freakin’ budget for 6 months (to start).

7. Start a trust fund for Cam, and keep his college money saving.

6. Get smarter about investing – take a class in stock trading or similar.

5. Donate $10k to charity/a good cause.

We’re at $1k at this point to the Stacey Abrams campaign, plus a variety of different charity donations, but we probably need to up this.

 

WOAH, BUDDY

4. Flip/renovate a house.

3. Own chickens.

2. Move internationally for a period of time.

1. This one is my secret. But I expect to reveal it next year.

Boring Adult Things

Our Family Technology Plan

There is little that gives me more fear than the ways in which the world will change to make being a decent, contributing, empathetic person more difficult. As a parent, it’s weird how your perspective changes – not only are you concerned for the planet, yourself, your loved ones, and their kids – you have a direct stake in the ways the world is changing under our feet, and you fear for the future of your offspring.

I am privileged beyond belief not to have to worry about my son in many ways: he is a smart, upper-middle-class white boy living in America. My challenge will come in ensuring he knows, acknowledges, and appreciates this – and uses this to better the world around him.

But one thing we all have to work through with kids of this generation – at least those who live in first world countries – is the role technology will play in their lives. I am an older part of the last generation to remember a world before the Internet as a mainstream tool. Someone who still vaguely remembers using a house phone. Someone who remembers the birth of social media, and the trajectory it took in replacing chatrooms, forums, and instant messengers. A world in which a selfie was a unique concept (and I have an old DeviantArt page with plenty of them, circa 2002 – they are considered antiquities now).

My child will not have the grounding I did. He will not be raised in a world where there is a stark difference between then and now. He will see little reason to learn how to physically write – much less learn cursive (although, I have to say, I never saw the point of cursive, either). He may not ever see a reason to learn how to drive. Those are just the facts. But the implications are that he will be far more connected to the outside world than I ever could have been, and at a frighteningly young age. He will no doubt encounter porn well before puberty. He will be begging for a cell phone at 8, or younger. He will be expected to participate in social media at what I would consider an obscenely young age – and he will be exposed to whatever his network chooses to put out there. I will have limited control over that. (Obviously, monitoring is vital and parental restrictions are a given, but kids can get around ANYTHING and that’s just a fact we have to face.)

He will witness the heinous nature of how people treat each other behind the anonymity of the Internet. He will encounter trolls, predators, bullies, and all kinds of racism, misogyny, prejudice, hatred, violence, drugs, sex, and disgust well before I’m even likely to be aware he’s seen anything. And his small, developing brain will be working all of that into his perspective on the world. This will be the case for all our children.

We cannot shut this down. We cannot raise our children in caves, allowing them out only to fetch water for the family and collect firewood for the hearth. There are times I briefly consider this idea, knowing that living as an Amish family may be the only way to protect my kid from becoming either an asshole or suicidal, or both. But needless to say, that’s pretty extreme. And frankly, not realistic. Even the Amish have Rumspringa.

I struggle often with how we will introduce technology into Cameron’s life. Especially since Brandon and I both work in tech–in advertising, no less–and know intimately how data is used to follow and target the unsuspecting. We can’t be hypocrites, attached to our cell phones and laptops and denying him the right to ever see a screen. But it is nonetheless our responsibility as parents to guide him in the direction we feel is appropriate for his age.

So with that said, I’ve put together a family manifesto for the use of technology in our lives. Maybe it’ll help you create your own for your family.

 

  • Technology should be an aid – not a crutch. Is the technology bettering your life or hindering it? Are we watching a movie together or are we each zoning out and staring into the abyss of our own devices?

 

  • Meal time is family time. No screens, ever, when we are eating together at the table. Including the parents.

 

  • No TV before age 2. We are not perfect about this, but I would venture to say the amount of collective television programming Cam has watched in his 18 months totals about 12 hours. And about half of that was dedicated, “special treat” family time – The Princess Diaries one night and Elf at Christmas. He watched Finding Nemo on a plane trip and has seen a few episodes of Mr. Rogers. He has no idea what the characters are on t-shirts and is usually perfectly happy to entertain himself with his toys and books. It’s also been really refreshing to know that the things he’s learning aren’t coming from a screen – they are coming from books, interactions with other kids, time at his nanny share, from us, or from the world around him. We never have to wonder if he’s been exposed to something weird, because we control what he takes in. It’s not so much a control thing, though, as it is a dependence thing. We didn’t want our kid to be dependent on a screen for entertainment or babysitting. So he adapted to entertain himself without one. Has it been a huge pain in the ass to never (well, almost never) have the TV on when he’s around? Sure. But has it made our family dynamic a million times better than it would have been? You bet. And it’s made Brandon and me more productive, more voracious readers, and more interested in music. Plus, Cam appreciates a good podcast nowadays.

 

  • No cell phone before 10. No smart phone before 12. I would like this to be 14 but realistically, I think I’m going to get beaten into submission. In my mind, there is no reason whatsoever that a pre-teen needs a smart phone. In an emergency, a cell phone is necessary because pay phones don’t exist anymore. But connecting to SnapChat? Bite me. There is zero reason for this. And Cam will be a master manipulator but despite what he’ll think at the time, I’m no dummy, either.

 

  • Mom and Dad’s phones are for pictures and videos of family. I don’t feel right keeping Cam away from phone screens like they’re some sort of prized possession he’s not allowed to touch. It’s only going to make him more curious. But he’s also not going to watch YouTube or play Candy Crush on our phones. When he plays with my phone, it’s while he’s sitting with me – not in the car, not unsupervised. We Skype with family or we look at pictures and videos I’ve taken of him – that’s pretty much it. Maybe we’ll look up a picture of a tiger or truck (“CRUCK!!!”) here and there. But for all he needs to know for now, that’s all I do with my phone. And that’s totally fine. There are real books and games that offer much more exciting entertainment than blinking lights.

 

  • Technology should be used to grow the imagination – not supplement it. A fire truck that goes “woo woo.” A learning table that reminds you of the colors you’re pressing. A little keyboard to play that sounds like a piano. Those things are helpful – they encourage retention and brain development. Watching a video of kids playing with a soccer ball, though, is not developing anything. It’s a boredom distraction. You know what’s also a boredom distraction that actually teaches something? Kicking a ball.

 

  • Be the change you wish to see. This is a fundamental tenet we try to teach Cameron in multiple aspects of our lives. We encourage him to chat with our homeless neighbors, be kind to animals; we go to marches with him. We volunteer, we run phone banks for candidates we support. This must extend to our relationship with technology as well. This one is the hardest for me. I love TV. LOVE TV. It is my way of decompressing. But I can live without TV. And I can put my cell phone away. I make a huge effort to put my cell phone to the side when I’m with Cameron, or when we’re all out to eat. I don’t have the TV on around him, and I’m certainly not watching a screen he can’t see (although sometimes I do listen to podcasts :). In the car, we either listen to music together or we chat. Sometimes he has a book in the back. We don’t have tablets and he doesn’t have something for the car. Has it been a huge pain to give up TV during the daytime hours? Of course. But it’s forced me to find other things to do. And there was a period of about a month when we couldn’t find our living room remote, and we all hardly noticed. It’s amazing what a small change can do once you commit to it.

 

I’m not a saint. I still watch a lot of TV – but it’s after Cam goes to bed. I still play Candy Crush and check Facebook a million times a day. But when it’s family time, it’s family time. We bond, we shop together, go to sporting events, go to the aquarium or on a scavenger hunt. We are a trio that genuinely enjoys being around each other and I hope to stay that way. I’m hoping that starting early and introducing screens slowly, in a way that means they don’t feel tethered to Cameron but that he feels comfortable around them. We want to create a healthy relationship with technology. We will screw up a million times. But this is our family’s plan for how we hope to try.

Boring Adult Things, Lists

Social Media Detox

I expected that giving up Facebook for a month would be difficult. We hear so much about social media addiction and the constant need to be connected to our networks and phones. I have not been immune: mainly out of a sort of obsessive-compulsive habit, I was opening Facebook probably dozens of times a day. I don’t know what I thought I was missing, but just that quick flip calmed me – particularly in this age of near-constant changes in politics that feel life-changing at a moment’s notice.

I deactivated my Facebook and Instagram accounts the evening of 3/6 and removed the apps from my phone. I realized a few days in that I couldn’t fully deactivate Facebook without causing myself a bunch of grief with work and connected logins, so I allowed the platform to reopen my account (when I needed to check some numbers in an ad platform) but I never signed back in. I have to say – I haven’t missed it much at all.

The time I was spending flipping open that damn app icon is now devoted to reading, give or take, half an hour a day. I’m able to really focus and enjoy TV shows I’m watching rather than half-listening while scrolling through an endless feed of photos I’m not in and don’t honestly care about.

I miss the status updates from some of my groups – one woman in particular is going through a rough time in her family and I want to know how that’s unfolding and how she’s holding up. We’re only Facebook friends so when I cut out Facebook, I cut out her and everyone in that group.

I’m also slightly annoyed about random events – trying to figure out if it’s half priced wine night at some restaurant I like, or if trivia is still happening even though it’s snowing. Things like that. Facebook serves as the primary resource for that kind of information and I feel a little blind without it. But you know what? It hasn’t impacted my life all that much. And if it did, I would pick up a phone and actually (gasp!) call someone.

We went to a caboose cabin in Asheville, NC and hit Greenville, SC for business on the way up. I took pictures but forgot about looking to see if people had Liked them, because I didn’t post them. I enjoyed my time with my kid and husband. We saw goats and bison and chickens, we ate at my favorite childhood restaurant (J Arthur’s in Maggie Valley), and we cooked hot dogs and s’mores around the campfire. We went to a Brazilian steakhouse, hit the breweries, and had fun at Cameron’s 1-year photo shoot with our friend Cami.

And we didn’t need to announce all of that in real time to my social network because frankly – nobody else cares that much!

I’m about halfway through this social media detox and I may just continue for a while. I thought this would be an insanely hard transition but it’s actually just been a breath of fresh air. If Trump does something so insane our lives are in danger, we’re probably all screwed anyway. And if he doesn’t, I’ll just hope I hear through a longer grapevine about his impending impeachment.

So I hope all of you guys are doing well. I hope you’re still loving being vegan, getting lots of baby giggles, enjoying the single life, bitching about the latest political outrage (I stand in solidarity with you and have not stopped my offline activism!), crafting, cooking, singing, photographing, running, and traveling. I still love you. But I don’t miss your online profile. And I’m willing to bet you don’t miss mine.

———–

Books I’m reading with all my extra time!

*Janesville – REALLY well-written. Empathy-inspiring. Although not as much as…

*How To Kill a City – holy CRAP have we been awful to People of Color in this country. A study of Gentrification 101 in some of America’s key cities. (Detroit will BLOW YOUR MIND.)

*What Happened by Hillary Clinton – it took a long time to dry my liberal snowflake tears and open this book again. But I’m in the home stretch. It’s okay. It’s infuriating. It’s a little pandering. But it has one of the best quotes I’ve seen that sums up all of the books above:

“There’s been so much said and written about the economic hardships and declining life expectancy of the working class whites who embraced Donald Trump. But why should they be more angry and resentful than the millions of blacks and Latinos who are poorer, die younger, and have to contend every day with entrenched discrimination?

…After studying the French Revolution, (de Tocqueville) wrote that revolts tend to start not in the places where conditions are worst, but in places where the expectations are most unmet. So if you’ve been raised to believe your life will unfold a certain way – say, with a steady union job that doesn’t require a college degree but does provide a middle-class income, with traditional gender roles intact and everyone speaking English – and then things don’t work out the way you expected, that’s when you get angry. It’s about loss. It’s about the sense that the future is going to be harder than the past.”

*And I mean, of course I read Fire and Fury… which was fascinating, but really, it’s more like a 20/20 exposé than a real book.

Boring Adult Things, Uncategorized

Balancing Act

I’m in a pub in Erie, PA, and I’m bone tired.

Working remotely has its perks, for sure: Brandon and I were able to take a trip to Erie to visit family with the little man, and work during the day. Cameron is having an absolute blast with his Gabby and is being spoiled rotten with attention. He’s loving every second.

Seeing family is nice; I just wish I could shake this permanent fog I’m in these days. I can’t sleep (and it’s not due to the baby), I’m full of anxiety, and things just don’t have the luster they used to. If it was feasible, I’d just take a week and spend it in bed watching Netflix (and probably gaining 10 pounds).

I think what has me down and lost is the added emotional labor that comes with being a mom. As women, there’s always this need to manage all the spinning plates: so many things we aren’t paid or acknowledged for that just keep lives running. Doc appointments, bills, cleaning things when they’re gross, stocking the fridge, ordering the pet food, feeding the pets, paying the pet-sitter, vet visits, budgeting, taking the clothes to the dry cleaner’s, and on and on and on. It’s not that Brandon wouldn’t do these things if asked… it’s that I have to remember every single one.

Having a child compounds that labor tenfold. The laundry multiplies. The dishes, too. The doctor’s appointments increase. The finding and balancing of childcare can be its own full-time job. Is the baby gaining weight? When did he last eat? He hasn’t pooped in 3 days. Should we feed him prunes? Is he too young for purees? He dropped his paci; can I just lick it and give it back? Does that make me a crappy mom? Am I giving him too much attention so he can’t adjust to being by himself? Am I giving him too little attention, so he won’t attach? Why am I not producing enough breastmilk? Why does he not want to take the breast? If I give him formula, am I a bad or lazy mom? Am I traveling for business too much? Does it mean I don’t care about my career if I don’t want to be away for 3 nights to do work? Brandon has the 2-seater car and I need to go to an appointment; how will we arrange nanny share pickup? Did the cat sit in the baby’s seat, and if so, is it dirty now? We’re out of formula. We ran out of formula too quickly. That means he’s not getting enough breastmilk. We’re in the car and he’s screaming; should I pull over or tough it out? And a million other things.

It’s exhausting. I have a new appreciation for stay-at-home moms these days, realizing I could never be one. I love my career and I need it. I think to some degree, it keeps me sane and mentally challenged in a different way.

I am fighting this inclination to succumb to being absorbed by my child, and then on the flip side, I also have this weird guilt about wanting to have my own life. It’s a strange dichotomy. I really like traveling, but I hate being away from my baby. I am forcing myself to take advantage of opportunities to do things that fulfill me, as I think it’s healthier for both Cameron and me. But this layer of guilt over every little thing was something I wasn’t expecting. I’m just so tired.

I need to get another bucket list going, so I have something to focus my energy on and to get me up and moving each day. My business is going great and after a short dip in hours, I’m slated to be back full-force next week. I’m really adjusting to–and loving–life as a freelancer, and I’m getting more confident in my abilities to drum up business. But the mental anguish is so tiring. I just want to feel normal again. Maybe this is the new normal.

Boring Adult Things

My Vow To You, My Son

Cameron, you are my light and my world. You bring such joy to my life, and to your father’s life. You’ve changed everything, and the world is better because you are here.

To you, I make a solemn vow: I will raise you right. I will raise you the best I can. I will raise you as an advocate, a defender, and a pioneer. You will not follow in the footsteps of many who look like you, and who also come from privilege. I promise that, even though many times I will want to, I will not raise you to feel more important than others. Against all odds, I will raise a good man, with a good heart.

  • I will actively fight to expose your privilege, and we will have open and honest conversations about it. Your skin and gender aren’t things you chose or that you should feel guilty about, but they also are things you must not ignore or hide behind.
  • I will support any informed path you take with your body and sexuality. We created you to be a good person. As you age, I will raise you to make the best choices about the person you wish to become.
  • I will not criticize your choices as long as they are thoughtful, safe, and do not harm others. You can have green hair. You can wear tube socks on your arms. You can get a tattoo when you’re legally able. I won’t always love every choice, but they’re yours to make, and the mistakes you make are yours to make as well.
  • I will guide you to always take the fork in the direction of “goodness” and “kindness,” even when it’s uncomfortable. You will not fear the homeless. You will not feel uncomfortable being the only person in the room that speaks English (and ideally, you’ll be interested to learn more about the predominant language). You will be respectful of other cultures and religions. You will support and defend others’ rights to live as they choose.
  • I will encourage you to embrace any spirituality that suits you, and also encourage you to change your mind if you’re so inclined. I will support your quest to learn about any religions that interest you. I will answer questions about my beliefs candidly, but without a demand for reciprocity. The endless search for enlightenment is one of the great privileges we have as human beings, and I will not deny you that or judge you for it.
  • I will protect you with every ounce of my being from those that wish you harm, and I will do my best to remember that I will not always be there to do that. I will arm you with the best resources I can to protect yourself and your heart from pain. I will also arm you with the resources to manage the pain you can’t avoid.
  • I will educate you as you grow. I will protect your innocence for as long as I can, but I also will not hide the truth from you as it ekes its way into your purview. I will be your advocate and support system, and the person you can ask anything of.
  • I will demand that you treat every living person with kindness, and treat them as an equal. Moreover, I will ensure you are outspoken when it comes to your peers doing the same, for you have the privilege to speak out when others can’t.
  • I will love you and snuggle you and tell you how amazing and incredible you are, regularly. Often. But you will also know the world does not revolve around you. We will learn patience and tolerance together, and it will be a lifelong journey. (It continues to be for me.)
  • I will remind you and others that education is not just a product of school. It is a product of the home, and of the world. You will travel and see how others live. You will not live in an insular bubble. You will appreciate your opportunities because you will be exposed to those who don’t have them. You will recognize how lucky you are.
  • I will raise you to be confident and driven. You will believe in yourself. But you will know there is a fine line between confidence and entitlement. I will do my best to prepare you not to cross that line too often.

 

I will raise you to be better than me, because you are. You are a clean slate. You are perfection. I vow to you, baby, that I will not fail you. I will give you everything I have, and prepare you for a world that you will help to make a better place.

Cameron, my love, it’s going to be an amazing journey. I promise to do my best for you, and for the future.

Love,

Mommy

Boring Adult Things

“Before 30”

Tonight, I close the door on one era of my life and open another. It’s the last night of my twenties, and tomorrow I hit the dreaded 3-0 decade.

So much has happened since I turned 20. So much has happened even since I started this blog four years ago.

I’ve traveled four continents. Swum with sting rays and surfed (poorly). Spent years traveling to resorts and Caribbean-hopping for my job. Started my own business, which is going better than I could have imagined. I wrote three books, have spent endless time (and stupid money) renovating this house, our first home. I’ve found a new love for my wonderful husband. Traveled with my dad, got closer with my sister, settled a little bit in my spirituality, and challenged myself physically with mountain climbs, yoga, and 15ks. Everything is such a friggin’ balance that it feels like you really nail one thing in life, everything else suffers. It’s always an act of managing the spinning plates.

Most shockingly, and perhaps most importantly, Brandon and I brought a new life into the world – our amazing, sweet, strong-willed, beautiful Cameron. He has folded into our lives so seamlessly, and we wonder what life was like before him. He is my everything, but at the same time, he isn’t. I’m still me. I’m still annoyed that age continues to slide over my life like a dark cloud, I still have dreams, I still have friends. But Cameron has made all of it so much more challenging and enriching.

I have seen my husband through new eyes in these last few months. He has always been caring, but I have never seen a better and more loving father. I wanted to get closer to Brandon in this Before 30 journey; little did I know it would take something I never would have expected to include on my list to make that happen.

I hate aging. I really do. I haven’t embraced it at all yet. My whole childhood, I sprinted toward the finish line to be older and more respected. Somewhere around 24, I screeched to a halt. Slow down, I thought. Let’s let this marinate for a minute.

But life has a funny way of not listening to you, and my body doesn’t respond the way it used to, hangovers really suck now, my face isn’t fresh, and I’ll never be the cool one in the room again. (Not that I ever especially was.) I look back at photos from 10 years ago and I still think I look like that. I don’t.

What’s interesting, though, is in these last few months, I’ve cared a little less about those things. I’m seeing the world through a new set of eyes and experiencing life brand new again. Cameron is fearless, thrilled to encounter everything, and un-jaded by a world in which it’s especially easy to feel jaded, angry, and “less than.” I hated that we were bringing him into a world so rocked by turmoil in our country, but little did I know he’d be my rock and solace as we wade through it. I just hope he’s too young to remember any of this garbage.

So tomorrow, at 7:01pm, I will be 30. My list will begin anew with some grand plans before 40 (which I hear is the new 30). I haven’t accepted it yet, and I wish I could age more gracefully.

But time marches on, the body starts to sag, and I am reminded every day of all the fun and adventures I still have ahead of me. They aren’t on a big bucket list, and maybe I’ve done some of them before. But it’s the big, bright, happy eyes I’ll be viewing them through that will make all the difference.

Boring Adult Things, Politics

It’s About To Hit The Fan

Nobody may care, but there’s been a lot floating around my mind over these last few months and even years on the direction we’re headed as a world economy, and how we need to best prepare ourselves for an inevitable bubble burst.

I’m not an economist. I’m not a philosopher, or a professor. I’m not a politician. I am indeed the product of my doomsday-focused father; I don’t always expect the worst but I’m not exactly a Pollyanna.

I also think if you’re open to the signs, it’s clear the path we’re on economically cannot last. And this new administration is going to rush the explosion.

First, here are my predictions.

  • Our healthcare situation is going to revert to the way it was back in the early 2000’s, and continue to get worse from there. Baby Boomers are at the greatest risk for an implosion of the system as we see those in poverty and old age unable to afford private healthcare, and going to hospitals for expensive treatments they have no coverage for (we already saw this happening pre-ACA; not that ACA is the be-all-end-all of solutions, but its intention was to help quell that). Those costs will inherently be transitioned, as they were and have been, to those paying premiums on their own healthcare coverage. Put simply, the ant is bearing the burden of the grasshopper. Costs will continue to balloon. Boomers and lower classes will drain the middle class in both healthcare and social security. To me, the way out of that is to create policies that benefit everybody so costs aren’t hidden in their transition to the middle class but more evenly distributed between the supremely rich and the poor. That’s a big reason I’m a Democrat in spite of it seemingly being outside of my personal favor as an upper-middle class white person. It’s proven economic logic.
  •  Job losses will continue. I don’t say this because we’ve got Republicans in office (although that won’t especially help); I say this because the world is changing much in the same way we saw with the Industrial Revolution. Forcing companies to “keep jobs in America” (which is a ridiculous approach to begin with) is going to result in those companies automating the jobs they’re outsourcing – not paying premium prices to workers in the States. These companies will pay for robots. Machines. Code. The same kind of code Brandon implements that saved his company multiple jobs last year. You can look at that as cruel, heartless, callous. Companies will look at that as Capitalism. Cheaper labor than anything they’d get overseas. I’m sorry, America. Your jobs aren’t coming back, no matter who promises you the moon and stars.
  • We’re in a bubble. Like, a friggin’ huge bubble. Stocks are rising. Venture capital is outrageously pricing tech, to unfathomable and unsustainable degrees. Real estate has bubbled to nearly pre-recession levels, and brokers are giving the same kinds of crappy loans they always have, and calling them new names. Americans are over-extending themselves with the false security of a healthy economy. Banks are going basically unrestricted and our country’s debt, meanwhile, is high beyond the point of reasonable recovery due to the bailouts that saved us from our mini heart attack in 2007.

 

These shifts are, short-term (over the next decade), going to create a massive amount of unrest, joblessness, poverty, and class division like we’ve never seen in our lifetimes. Call me Chicken Little, but when this bubble blows, I anticipate a worse situation than the Depression. We’ll have the largest generation in history (Boomers) draining the resources of all those younger than them, coupled with crippling joblessness and national debt.

Long-term, this is actually a good thing. It will mean that by the time the Boomers die out, a large generation of Millennials and Gen Z will be able to replace them with new policies, new habits, and more spending power than they’d had when the bottom fell out. It will mean we adapt to fewer people working in general, and companies forced to pay premiums in taxes for those they no longer hire. It will likely, one day, mean a guaranteed minimum wage similar to welfare being implemented at larger levels, but companies also being taxed accordingly to pay for it. It will also mean a transition to significantly less consumption, stronger environmental effects that will help combat global warming, and the resetting of an over-inflated world economy that was destined to collapse.

But there isn’t avoiding the fact that we’ve got a rough decade ahead of us.

 

I can’t tell you what to do, or even what the smartest ideas are out there to prepare for this burst. Because I truly believe it’s not a matter of prevention (it’s going to happen), it’s a matter of preparation. All I can do is tell you what we are personally doing, or trying to do, to help offer some ideas as you plan for your approach to life. Will you be the grasshopper, who finds himself facing a cold winter unprepared, or the ant, who stockpiled his resources for the days to come? I can’t answer that for you, and I can’t guarantee we’ll come out unscathed. I’m sure, in fact, we won’t. But to bury your head in the sand is the one action we know won’t help in the event of something bad happening.

  • We’re living beneath our means. Duh, not everyone can do this. But we tried doing this early on in our careers so we could maintain a similar standard as we worked our way up over time. We own a home that cost 1/5 of what a bank told us we could “afford,” and we invested in a neighborhood that was on the low starter end of its bell curve. We didn’t over-extend ourselves to maximize equity. Our home has risen in value over the years and even if the economy bottoms out to pre-recession levels, we don’t anticipate we could go underwater. But regardless, this approach also means we can afford to keep our home in the event that one of us loses a job. At the time, we planned that way because we are both in a tenuous industry (ad agencies). Now, we’re grateful we did in the event of larger-scale economic redundancy. Don’t get me wrong: we’re not perfect at this, and not by a long shot. We take a lot of damn vacations. We travel. We spend a lot of money renovating the house. We have roughly 6 million pets we feed. But we’re trying our best to save our pennies and live below our means.
  • I’ve stopped investing in my 401k this year. WHAT?! That might sound stupid, but hear me out. Brandon gets a company match, which we maximize, because we’re leaving money on the table otherwise. I get no match as a self-employed person, outside of what I match with my own S-Corp umbrella (a long, complicated conversation that may lead to me eventually investing again for tax reasons, but there’s a balance to be struck). The stock market peaked in mid 2015 and has been slowly sliding ever since. The money you invest in your 401k today has a reasonable chance, in my prediction, of being worth substantially less in the next year or two. My theory is I’ll wait, save my money in a low-earning but “safe” bank account, and buy up bottomed-out stocks when they are at their lowest values. Timing is hard to predict, but it seems to make more sense to me than investing in a stock market at the top of its game. Now, this does nothing for us in the case of the dollar losing its inherent value. Which is why…
  • We’re considering diversification. That’s an easy statement to make and much harder to confidently implement. I don’t see real estate (at least in America) as a safe bet. What is the commodity that will thrive in a down economy, though? Specific international bets in either money or property? Gold? Gasoline (ha)? Bitcoin? Weed? This is the kind of research we need to do to ensure all our eggs aren’t in the American Dollar Basket. This might sound extreme, but by at least diversifying some of what we have, we’ll hedge our bets against everything going down the tubes.

That’s a short summary of standard things we’re doing to try and brace for the impact of a possible collapse. It doesn’t mean we’re changing our entire lifestyle or burying a bunker in our backyard, but it’s better to try and be safe than sorry, watching the patterns of history repeat themselves. What are you doing to secure yourself against the gravy train ending soon?

Boring Adult Things, Lists

Rage

Today, I woke up angry.

Not grumpy, but angry.

Brandon had fallen asleep on the couch and left the door unlocked all night after he came home from a gas station run. He was the first to get the wrath.

Next was the stray cat who thinks he’s invited into our house for breakfast – how did you get in here?! Scram!

Next was the Bank of America automated phone message, who refused to get me to a representative.

I don’t know why I was so angry today. Maybe it was because I had to get up for work while Brandon got the day off. Maybe it was because he fell asleep on the couch, again, and left me to sleep alone in the bedroom. Maybe it was because of hormones.

I think it really had to do with me frittering away my last true break before the baby and realizing this morning what I’d done.

We both spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s working nonstop: me putting in hours for my jobs, him putting in endless hours to finish our bathroom renovation, both of us making 5+ runs to Home Depot, cleaning the house from top to bottom, hiring a handyman to fix things around the house, organizing the office, making meals to freeze for postpartum time, getting our latest wills notarized, buying rugs for every room in the house, getting a new TV stand. Even in the moments we had available to chill, we couldn’t do it. We’d get cabin fever and venture out on another errand. I’d end up getting pinged for work. We missed the ball drop on New Year’s because we were cleaning our bathroom. Apropos end to 2016.

I am so over living under this kind of duress, and now it’s permeated into Brandon’s psyche. My once calm husband is now his own little whirling dervish of activity.

I don’t know what to do to break this cycle of panic before this child enters our lives. I pictured myself screaming at Cameron the way I did at the stray cat this morning. “Joey, get the FUCK out of my house! Next time you walk your ass in here, it’s going to the pound!” Not a healthy environment for a baby.

I’m angry, and sad, and tired, and restless. You’re supposed to feel rejuvenated after a long period of a break, right? So why are we headed into 2017 feeling more tired than we were before Christmas? And will the To Do list, once a Bucket List and now a haunting Honey Do list, ever really be Done?