My legal-to-drink nephew said he wasn’t interested in being an adult.  Oooooohhhh how I laughed, at the thought that it was something that could be opted out of.  That choice was a possible option.

He’s a good man and everything will work out, I’m not worried about that at all, but the idea of just  …. not adulting has some interesting points.

So.  My governor signed a bill into law that he vetoed last year.  A FOIA indicated that about 150 people had contact with his office in support of the bill while 14,000+ (myself included) had contact with his office encouraging him to take the exact same action he took last year on the same damn bill.  Oh.  And the NRA had a big convention in Atlanta the week before.  So now concealed carry on college campuses is legal.

So.  My nation’s president is … Donald Trump.  I’m a liberal patriot and this just isn’t going well from my standpoint.  I like healthcare, a nation striving to not divide on religious, romantic, or racial lines, infrastructure, I like to think that the president can keep a secret and keep his mouth shut.  So, it has been a long four months.

So.  My congressman is too chicken to have a meeting in my town, which is the largest in his district.  A town so dominantly liberal that is has been gerrymandered into THREE districts to make sure we can’t get the momentum to get one democrat (or progressive) in place.

But.  I adult.  I’m still supporting good journalism.  My senators are on speed dial.  I ordered the *special* postcards that help articulate my frustration with not being heard by the people whose SALARY I FUCKING PAY.

I think back to who I was when I graduated from college, a Gen X (slacker, cynical, apathetic … we ALLLLLLLL were because judging on age is FINE) history major thinking I was on the cutting edge with the insight that every empire that has ever risen has also fallen.  My thinking falling just short of the idea that I would watch it fall.

I look now at the land of the free and the home of the brave not with a target of another 40 years for me, but instead looking for the old, aged end of my child’s days to be one of a republic which cares for it’s most vulnerable with affection, kindness, and cash money for food.  With the Buffets and Gates of the nation standing taller than … well.  Other rich white guys.

May the force be with us even when our representatives aren’t.


  1.  The stories of my greed are greatly exaggerated.  The last day of my grandmother’s life included a plan to move a helpful chair (one of those that helps someone stand up) from her home to the home of someone else who would need it.  The plan to move the chair was executed within hours of her death because the plan was made for a time and then stuff happened.  Her neighbors have opinions about me, and they don’t all start with, “what a nice girl….”.
  2. We only know what people want us to know.  That is just a thing that is true.  Also true is that we all have parts of our lives that would be FASCINATING to others that we don’t share consciously.
  3. I’m super grateful for intact bones.  Gotta multiple folks around me who cannot say things about having intact bones and it sounds like hell.
  4. The Lord’s Prayer.  I was taught, and still mainly believe, that The Lord’s Prayer is a cultural expectation that people should know – like how to shake hands well,  the pledge, or Take Me Out to the Ballgame.  I’m giving serious thought to if I will teach the same to my son.
  5. Cultural Christianity.  Related to the above, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the parts of my life that signal Christianity when I’m not someone of faith.  I fret that it feeds into the idea that white people who aren’t clearly Jewish (or Wician is the other that stands out) are passively Christian.  That passively Christian idea I think is sprinkling some fuel on the fire of political actions I don’t agree with.  I can speak out against them but in the long run I support the ideas of religious freedom and the distinction between church and state more actively by separating myself from it.  I haven’t done anything with Easter in a number of years, and this year I suspect I will try and even out my Christmas shopping so I don’t add to the Christmas Spike in Retail Dollars.  Still, not putting away the tree yet cuz I like gifts.  Growth takes time, what can I say?  Also, for my friends of faith – we cool.  Some of you like brussell sprouts too – you do you and I’ll be over here.
  6. God free funerals.  They are tough, and I think as a retirement job I’ll be someone who officiates end of life services talking about change and caregiving and how different and the same things are.  I would try and bring comfort to families without a religious structure and with the knowledge that the profoundly hurting and the slightly uncomfortable are all sitting together.
  7. Microphone whore.  I did a eulogy this weekend and I was content with how it went even though I had an uncomfortable adrenaline dump (over adrenalized for the last month and then an extra dose so I was VERY shaky).
  8. My kid is awesome.  Dude had three shows this weekend and totally kicked ass.  He almost stopped taking class this year, but then here at the end did a solo in front of his friends.  I’m super proud of him.
  9. It is not our will that keeps them breathing.  It was hard to not see some of his performances but in the same way that watching an infant breathe isn’t what makes them do it … making sure your leo-mom self is in the room isn’t what makes or breaks a performance.  Good lesson, but thank goodness for video.
  10. My husband is awesome.  Twice this month I’ve said, “gotta leave town” and he has said, “ok, when will you be back?” and then super-parented while I was spending money on plane tickets and rental cars.  We will have been married for 10 years next week and that is groovy.  Oh, and I’ve gotta leave town on our anniversary for a work conference and he rolled with that too.


ok.  Maybe that is enough for now.  All the corners of my family have been wonderful to me and I’m super grateful.

“Is this your child?”  We were sitting in the balcony waiting for the opening ceremonies of NerdCon: Nerdfighteria.  It was a woman who was probably 35 when her teenager was born.

We chatted for a minute and then I clarified that Jeff & I both consider ourselves Nerdfighters – a title that is bestowed on anyone who is active in decreasing world suck. She apologized, she thought she & I were both just parents facilitating the interests of our children.

I wonder about her now, at the end of the weekend, I wonder if she realizes that she is a Nerdfighter too.

John & Hank Green started Vlogbrothers 10 years ago in an attempt to connect with each other through videos. They made a thing and it has become a much bigger thing through a community of watchers and creators. A multi-million dollar charity arm, a British soccer team, educational YouTube channels that cover everything from Adulting to World History to Physics and Gaming.

All with one idea – Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

As part of the foundation of DFTBA is that who you are, right now, works fine. ASL translation in panels, therapy animals, clearly marked non-gender bathrooms, folks with their anxiety management tools (headphones etc) clearly and comfortably in use, those of us with funds sponsored scholarships for those without.  About 3,000 people were there and there was more spectrum of everything (color, visible religious signals, abilities, genders) than I have seen at any other professional or personal conference I’ve ever attended (and Dragon*Con has 40,000 attendees).  To be sure – still mainly white, in their 20s, and tilted towards women … but not glaringly so.

When we arrived on Friday we saw Emily Grasile who works at the Field Museum in Chicago. She also hosts a video channel. I was geeking at Jeff so he’d see her and she heard me. So. Unprepared to speak anything coherent some random excited words fell out of my face. She was gracious. Jeff was entertained. I was giddy. EMILY!! She is chuck full of science mind and unabashed curiosity.

We made a point of walking outside the hotel on Friday night. They picked a great combination of amenities that made it unnecessary to be outside once you arrived but it was 60 degrees in Feb in Boston so we went outside. (Sorry dying world).

There are a ton of tiny details that will get lost to time but the point of NerdCon is to be around a bunch of folks who think nice has value, that books should be read and shared, that anyone who says that math or science is their jam gets high fives like the business and computer science folks get. Art, Harry Potter, running, and generosity have value.

That everyone can be in on the joke – so why NOT wear a Ryan name tag?

We signed the wall – one side asked for book recommendations and Jeff wrote “Percy Jackson”, he got a high five from the med student who saw him write it.

We made friends with the ASL translator from opening ceremonies as we were headed back to our rooms at lunchtime to relax in silence a little. When we saw her later she hollered, “my self-care friends”!!

I got to make eye contact with, and ask a question of, Aaron Carroll who is on Healthcare Triage and writes for the NYT which … lordy- I’m as excited about that as I was about getting a photo at Dragon*Con the first time.

We got to see Andre “the black nerd” and although we missed his small panel (filled up fast) seeing him in the auditorium was fun as well.  Jeff is currently watching “Gremlins” which is Andre’s favorite movie.

This is the second year that Jeff & I have done a February trip. Last year was the NOLA train trip.

He generally doesn’t like 48 hour trips as much as I do so I didn’t put too much in this one. We took breaks, we ate well and with dessert, there was TV. Still, it was simple, plane – cab – hotel – cab – plane.  He sprawled on me and I let him read through dinner. He imagined things and said them out loud to me. We made compromises about who we would see and when we would rest. We took good care of each other as travelers. I love these trips with him and I hope that he remembers them as fondly as I do.  Hell, I hope he remembers them at all.

This trip though, I hope he remembers that good, earnest, curious, smart people look for each other. That there is a tribe of them and they are doing what they can, in the ways they can to decrease world suck.

Is this my child? Hell yes, he’s a Nerdfighter, a traveler, and my favorite person on the planet.

Yes, this defies physics and logic – BUT if I were to have total sensory comfort right now I would …

Be wearing a black hoodie pullover over a loose tank top – the hood pulled over my head.  Also, warm, soft leather wrist cuffs.  Sweatpants that are oversized and soft inside but felt the way I always imagined X’s from high-schools sweatpants did (they fit her in the super cute way that was possible when you are both shorter and curvier than I was/am).  My socks would be soft (but not that strange fuzz) and oversized.  My feet would feel non-in-pain (which frankly can’t remember).

I would be sitting on a moderately sturdy chaise lounge shaped bean bag covered in the strange white “fur”that currently covers everything at Target, it would be on an east coast beach where I was on the good sand but not in immediate need of attention to the tide, it would not be covered in sand.  My legs would be stretched out in front of me and the back would be tall enough that my head and shoulders were supported. I would be under a weighted blanket (good l-rd I want a weighted blanket).

It would be sunrise with a warm fire between me and the water where the ocean breeze would move the sense of warmth but never the smoke.  It would smell and sound like a beach.  Unless I looked in one direction (chair and fire staying oriented to me) and it would be totally silent, or in another direction (chair swivels) and it would be a dance beat that was just loud and interesting enough that it made not-thinking a great option.

My fingernails would be painted beach sunrise colors (ten different variations of the colors) with some little details, but in a totally classy way.  I would have a big cup of coffee that had sugar and chocolate creamer and the insane “whipped cream” science craziness  from Race Trac.  I would get to drink as many cups as I’d like and I wouldn’t turn into a nasty, anxious, tremoring bitch.  There would be medium rare fillet mignon and over easy eggs.



Local Billboard

Why don’t we do this for other ideas?

I’ve been thinking about this for more than a year now.  At first, I considered it in the context of civics and helping people recognize their place in American duty.  I still think of it in that context.

I also think of it in a scientific way.  The American Dream is built on science.  Anti-lock brakes are science.  Skyscrapers, John Deere, candy-coated chocolates, and ATMs are all science (and engineering and math and art …).

So, in the spirit of each person digging in and doing what they can as part of their civic duty — I will do the same.

I am launching a community funded project to bring simple, approachable, effective messages of science and civics to the highways of the United States.  Patron is an online platform that is designed to let people donate small amounts to build up to a big cause.  You can donate monthly at any amount you choose but at the $10 amount you get to help vote for designs and locations.

How much a billboard costs varies on a lot of different components, and it will take some time to build up to the second billboard but I hope you’ll consider helping to start this.

There isn’t time to waste.

Patreon Highway Mind

November 2016 – the lost month.

I finished the MCM and the next morning woke up to the news of a heartbreaking death.  Traveling home trying to figure out how to explain the unexplainable to our kid, and then feeling my way through it with the help of a lot of support locally.  We went to a memorial that held a deep personal isolation in sharp contrast to the 100s that were there to weep together.

There was an election.

I entered the lottery for the Chicago marathon

I surfaced in time to travel to Illinois for a lot of great days with people who I adore, generally eyeball deep in logistics and love which is a good place to be.  I saw Hamilton, with different eyes than I would have a month earlier, but it was still amazing.

I went home for a minute.

I went back to Illinois for a conference, the presentation and panels were awesome.  The company was great.

My running went to crap.  My acro wasn’t available.  My fitness fell, but nowhere near where I was a few years ago – a strange thing indeed.

Hi December, I’m trying to be back in the world.

An unbidden thought, “Well good, now I can go back to using those teeth whitening strips.”

What the hell brain?

It reminds me of a moment when I was working full-time again after two years of reduced hours, after about six weeks of full time work I thought, “If I had fewer hours I’d cook more” which I had just spent years proving was NOT EVEN SORT OF TRUE.

So, post-marathon brain has a number of things to catch up.  Some of it is just adult rigor that I had been putting off in the weeks running (ha!) up to the marathon.  Some of it is a random assortment of things I can do “now”, none of which are *true* in any sense because I run before dawn and what I can do before dawn is limited to running and sleeping.  I can’t get up at 4:30 and read work related books.

Three days after the fact, my calves are still a little sore and honestly – I’m ready for a run except that I don’t know how my toenail will feel (I expect it will be bad) and I’m ready to get back at … something.

I just don’t know what.

Maybe whiter teeth.

(Tips, truths and stuff I don’t want to forget in … sequence-ish except when it isn’t)

So, the marathon was perfect.  It took forever, but I did it and I loved it.  I want to do more but I got really lucky and have lots to improve on before I try and level up.

Tips –

Ditch layer should be a bathrobe filled with tissues.  First, those layers are often donated somewhere locally useful and a reasonable bathrobe can be nice to have, second it helps with leg warmth and sitting on the ground when you get there hours before the start, third it should be filled with tissues because even the Marines can’t stay ahead of the portapottypaper needs.

After struggling with nutrition for months about 80% of what I consumed on the course was what they handed me.  It worked out fine but there were also a lot “comfort stops” so I was never too far away when my stomach went sour.  I carry my own because my Chattanooga half fell down on some basics so I doubt I’ll ever fully trust again but MCM was good to go.

Engage with those who took time to disrupt their schedule to be on the side of road to clap.  I did more high fives yesterday than I have in the last 20 years combined.  If they were young and their sign was gibberish I was elated.  If I should hit the sign for a power up you bet I did.  When I was tired I started asking Marines for high fives and they ma’am’ed me and it was great because it was “grown adult ass woman” ma’am instead “you could be my grammy” ma’am.

Look up.  I was running through the national mall with practically nobody around and often forgot to look up and see the amazing views and monuments.  If you picked a race for it’s location – treat it like you did, not like it is a well trod training run.

Salt sticks.  Everybody has sugar.  Nobody has enough salt.  I gave two different runners a spare salt stick and one of them gave me credit for saving their run because she was cramping at mile 14.

Truths –

I cried.  A lot.  Weeping buckets before the start, and three times on the course.  Why?  So imagine how you felt before you got married, especially if you Had A Wedding that took a ton of planning.  Now, instead of the “but at the end of the day you’ll have a spouse” statement put … nothing.  No confident answer.  Hospitalization is one answer, a medal and a banana is another, a PR, a train wreck … it is ALL available. At the end of the day – the day will be over.  Now move through that day.  I was BARELY trained enough, there was a heat warning, and a spot that the struggle bus would pick me up if I didn’t make it fast enough.

Oct 1 Dave saved my race because he had just the right words when I needed them.  Tracy did the same the night before the race.  Lots of people said lots of good things all along the way but those two moments were pivotal.

I was giddy the whole time, which seems in contradiction to the crying but I don’t think it really was.  I was accepted into this race in Feb of 2015 and deferred 2015 when I was clearly not going to be ready in time (damn was I RIGHT about that) – so it has been the better part of two years that this has shaped and tugged at what I was doing.  All the miles in all the weather and all the times it would have been easier not to – but I ran anyway.

I have never been in a race where I didn’t see at least one person injured, and twice that has been relatively early in the race.  The ambulance came for the head injury at mile 7, anything is possible on race day.

What started  as “I’m training for a marathon” has morphed into “I’m a runner”.  Might not be for the rest of this week – but I am.

I’m super funny in the first 10 or 15 steps getting up out of a chair, airplane seat, etc today.

To remember –

Sunrise over the Pentagon was really pretty.

At the start everyone was motionless and breathless during a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

The helicopters at the start were awesome.

The giant piles of ditch clothing put a new perspective on how many people were running.

Seeing the Howitzer rolled back after the start was just cool.

The man with the dog at the bridge

The lady with the unicorn suit.

The sloth couple

How pretty it was when I remembered to look up

This is going to be too long a list of bullet points – suffice it to say I did it and as of this specific moment I still have all my toenails.

So far.

I did it.  I ran with the marines, at 43 year old.  I’m delighted.




Ok, I’ve reframed “taper” in my mind and made it less about my legs and more about all the torn up parts of me.  It seems that, for me, taper and nesting are really damn similar.  Which is to say – this is some exhausting mental stuff ya’ll.

So… I’m teary eyed these days.  I’m watching a lot of MCM videos to see if I can desensitize myself to the helicopters and howitzer start.  It isn’t working yet.  I’m reading about the temporary nature of pain and trying to make the grand words equate to my hips.

I’m really proud of what I’ve done but with less than 10 training miles between me and race day I made the lists of things aren’t related in any way except their proximity in time.

  • The Cubs are in the World Series.
  • A nation shaping election is on the horizon
  • November 2 would be 20 years in a parallel universe.
  • November 11 will be two years without dad.

That is some sentimental stuff up there.  So.  I saw a two-second meditation video the other day, that every time I recenter my monkey brain on my breath I’ve taken a moment to meditate.

I’m doing that a lot right now.

I’m happy to have the support of those around me who are loving me while I spaz and have my back.  I feel lucky.

One breath. One step. One mile. One run at a time.

This sucks.

I know I can Beat the Bridge.  That will be ok.  After I do that I’ll have another 8 miles and … I will be covering new ground (ha!) for those miles.  It feels like a lot (in large part because it IS a lot).

Tapering is about letting my body sew strength into all those tentative connections made in the long runs of recent weeks.  What it FEELS like is a long list of grievances and heavier thighs, shins with pin pricks of sensation, a left ankle made of crumpled paper, feet … oh my feet.

Food is important, but with shorter mind clearing runs I am not “eating for tomorrow” but instead I’m “scarfing for this strange emotion I’m having RIGHT NOW.”

This is a traveling run for my whole family and so logistics need sorting but I approach them and my mind twitches because it is 10 days away.  The biggest part of a first marathon is that your brain doesn’t know that it is possible, so legs (and feet) are just a minor part of the conversation.  I’m not sure My Mind & I have ever had a conversation quite like this one.

Ten days.

Absolutely right to try.

There is a difference between pain laced with fear and anxiety about true danger and pain that is an expected experience of work.

With my shield or on it.

Holy shit I’m nervous and excited and pretty sure in this victory there will be a measure of failure as well and that is true with a lot.

I’m a mess.  This sucks.  I’m so happy right now.  Miles on miles.  The People’s Marathon in Washington DC.  I DID THIS.  I may even cross the finish line.