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“These are the hands of a man drawing the exploded views of the gift he will soon send his grandson.  With minimal help/supervision the 6 year-old will be able to complete the project.  These are the hands of a man who loves his family very much.” ~ His wife, to his daughter.

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And I am grateful.  And I am humbled.  And I bear witness to the love he has for us.


From my vantage point, my legs were built for pants.  My waist/ass/hips were always agreeable enough with each other that they could agree on a size.  My thighs have never aspired to a size 00 but worked well in an era of low waist, boot cut dress slacks.  In my 20s I loved to compete, via heels, with my 6’4″ first husband.  In my 30s, and with a jacked up foot, I have enjoyed a well turned kitten-height heel.

If I wanted to look hot I’d do scandalous things with my neckline, my décolletage is downright breathtaking when it is played correctly.

Until 3 summers ago you never would have seen me in a skirt.

I was also kind of delighted the fact that because I worked and lived in air conditioning I rarely needed shorts because, well, my legs were built for pants.

At the start of LLV, as we resisted putting in the window air conditioning unit that would need to turn three corners to cool the bedroom, I decided to try to wear … something.  Skirts were better (aka easier to find, cheaper, cuter, and more size forgiving) and I had already figured out that my headspace was better if I didn’t look like I had just rolled out of bed for 90% of my days and so off to Kohl’s and the start of my personal leg revolution.

I really looked at women’s legs for the first time, the way that some women go to the beach and realize we are all just mobile meat sacks.  Even when I paid attention I rarely noticed leg hair or veins, and when I did they just looked like hair and veins – blood circulation is GOOD (if perhaps a bit close to the surface).  I got better at wearing skirts and realized that not ever summer breeze was Marilyn Monroe walking over a staged subway grate.

I started a new job today, wearing a pink & white pencil skirt, a white blouse, and neutral shoes.  I think that I may have gotten to the point that the people who think of me as “someone who doesn’t wear skirts” will be my oldest and dearest friends, and you – because you read this.


We have turned south bound on the 19th day, and on the 20th we took an unplanned stop for a day of TV watching and eating microwave mac & cheese because Jeff has strep throat.

I love traveling with him.

I would not trade these days for anything.

I am so grateful for everyone who made this happen and there are SO many people who made this happen.  My life is such a gift.


Things that are true:

1.  Two weeks into Epic Summer Roadtrip.  Great time, wonderful visits, working on dealing with homesickness.

2.  Went to a book signing on Thursday (Chris Colfer for TLOS3) and it was interesting, good , strange, fast, and has me debating all kinds of meta stuff in my head which I would talk about except that it is the shape of a circle and I cannot find the entry point.

3.  Kiddo is McDs binging right now and WOW.

4.  The very first place I wanted to go when I had a minute to myself was the garden store that I love so much, but I knew I wanted to go there because my first thought was “I need to go to church”.  It is about reverence and peace.

5.  I thought my robot necklace was lost but now it is found.

6.  AirBnB is a GREAT way to (1) save money, (2) meet cool people, (3) actually experience a town when you travel.  Do it.  It isn’t mutually scary – only scary on your side and it will work out fine.

7.  I like borrowing dogs.

8.  I like this, but it is hard and I am a bit tired.

I had a near miss with the photographs of the first 5 years of my son’s life the other day.

I’m still mulling over what that means for what I do with those photographs next. There are about 5,000 of them (obviously, it is about all of my life in those years, but the majority involve him) and some of them are complete crap – but some are perfect.

I didn’t cull them as I took them, I never edited them (because I’m 40 and I missed being a photo-editing-software-knower-hower by about 3.5 years from what I can tell), so they are the digital equivalent of the boxes of print photos I have. A pile without a plan.

I think sometimes about a fire, and losing my printed pictures.
I thought, for a long time, about the passage of time and VHS tapes because that is where the last sounds of my first husband’s voice lived.
I think about software upgrades that build a wall I don’t understand between me and the picture of Jeff with a soccer ball and his eyes glowing in Golden Hour light.

I am both more and less sentimental than I have been at other points in my life. John’s wallet still has a $20 in it after all these years but I only kept one piece of Jeff’s baby clothing.

Pictures though. Pictures are what hold my memory together. They shine so brightly, and highlight days so long gone that sometimes I’m afraid to look at them.

I had a close call with 5 years of digital pictures and right now I just know that I want to do more – but I don’t know what more really looks like.

1. I got four hours of sleep last night, waking up today at the grand old hour of 3a (someday I’ll be skyping with my 2ndMIL because that is about the time she gets up). So it wasn’t even up late, then sleep, but instead a LOOOOONG stretch of wakefulness.
2. A few months ago 3am wakefulness didn’t mean what it did today — today it was that I got 3 hours of project work done before anybody else had even shuffled to the bathroom. Which was actually pretty cool.
3. I had a really great lunch and extended coffee with my friends. I was, perhaps, pretty exuberant with the Diet Cokes to start out with which made me very chatty … but it happens sometimes.
4. I negotiated kiddo down QUITE a ways on the Halloween candy.
5. Tomorrow is a day for me, and it makes me think of my first set of in-laws, my great-grandmother (who was alive at the time), my brother, and most of all John.

The day I got married (the first time), my dad and I danced to Unforgettable and he sang to me quietly as we danced in that beautiful rich baritone that he used so rarely. I asked him to stop because I burst into tears.

In those late night questions about time travel and what actions in your own life you would change … I’d like to go back to 23 year-old me and tell her to go ahead and cry … but let him sing.

Opportunity cost. I choose one thing, therefore I don’t have the physical, mental, emotional, financial, or time reserves to do something else. There was a festival tonight, and a house show — we could only do one. The choice is based on excitement over either plus the sorrow of missing either.

As choices get bigger and more complex the opportunity cost gets more complex as well. How to spend one evening is one thing, but once you get into longer term questions it gets more difficult. How long of a commute are you willing to tolerate – and how does that change when the money is better (or you just need it more), when you have young kids versus older kids, when your parents need you to drive them more often?

LLV had a lot of costs to consider. Some of the positive things that came from that is our experiences with me on a smaller salary, seeing how time got managed differently when I was home more, and (we didn’t anticipate the importance of this at the time) seeing the ways in which we value and work with large scale opportunity costs.

I left my job today, after a transition period that took 2 months and 2 days from start to finish.


The opportunity has costs, and risks, and will undoubtedly wake me up in the middle of the night from time to time. For now, though, I know that as each step has arrived I am more confident in the decision my family has made. I learned a lot of lessons about myself during LLV and I’m bringing the books back out to study them to shorten my learning curve on this adventure.


I had lunch with my friends today. They love me, and I them. I am grateful every day that they are there and I worry (in the middle of the night) about how my decisions impact my relationships with them. Still, in a white bag there was a gift – not just perfect in its existence but perfect in quietly (sort of) telling me that I am understood.


So here goes.


(I expect to have a launch the first week of November — so don’t go buying your lady friend holiday gifts quite yet).

At the end of LLV I took possession of the stuff I had been ignoring from my youth and brought it back home to start ignoring it in a more local setting.

My softball picture, The precious stuffed dolls of my childhood, and the arms of a chair.

The chair had been a gift for my first marriage from my mom’s best friend. It was meant to last for generations, it was beautiful. A Shaker-ish rocking chair, it had a seat in a classic and versatile floral on a green background.

Our homes were decorated straight from the catalog of Random & Whatever, and it was part of the first real adult furniture we had (see also: the dressers from my grandmother and the couch of OMFG). It was important.

Then, after J had to move to wait for his heart transplant it became the place where he did his twice daily dressing changes. It has been 12 years, I could go to the store today and buy everything he would need, I could talk a stranger through it, I can tell you where he would flinch (except later, he didn’t anymore). Realistically, there were 500 dressing changes.

The chemicals wore the varnish off the ends of the arms of the chair.

My parents never faltered in my presence when it was time to pack up the apartment. Hell, they just never faltered. The chair went into storage because it became the physical embodiment of that time. Eventually I told my parents that the chair needed to be destroyed, save for the arms which were to be mine.

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I had a special season of hell planned for the arms of that chair. Every moment of rage and helplessness were going to find a permanent refuge in their destruction. Then I would get really serious.

I knew that they would be in the stuff I brought back at the end of LLV, and a couple of weeks ago I found them.


I still remember the season of hell I had planned for them. More than that, now, I know that I learned a lot in those months about myself, about courage, about medicine, about death, about love, about living, about things that are precious and the shit that isn’t.

Now, I suspect I will cut them down so they are smaller and decades from now my son is going to have to try and figure out what to do with two chunks of wood he has never seen his mom without.

Bookends, maybe.

What would you do if you had an undefined chunk of time with no solid time consuming obligations? I’m talking about maybe two weeks, or many months of time where the activities of daily adult living, spousing, and parenting were your only responsibilities beyond fiscal responsibility. What would you do?

How would you build days that had meaning, that filled gaps, and that worked on some of the things that you’re “too busy” or “too tired” to do? What kind of lists would you make?

Would you take a “vacation” of binge TV watching, or put structure on your days right away to protect against a free fall? When would you really, actually, clean out the laundry room if you had the chance?

I have a solid idea of who I am. Still, like a lot of people, there is Aspirational Me as well. She is craftier and reads more fiction (shoot, just reads more in general — but fiction is tougher for me). So with this undefined space in front of me my mind is boggled with the options, analysis paralysis to be sure.

Finally do something with those photographs?
Make an appointment with the dermatologist?
Will I find a plethora of great podcasts to go along with the three I am compulsive about (if so … what are you listening to that I should hear???)?
I would be well served by working on my grammar a little bit, and I’ve been curious about spending time at Kahn Academy?
Get functional on the piano, or the ukulele, or both?
Volunteer even though I don’t know how big my window of availability is?
Master the art of banana tattooing?

Soon I suspect that Aspirational Me and Actual Me are going to be nose to nose with each other. I might go to the library, I might go to the gym, I might finally watch every moment of Breaking Bad. I’m just not sure yet.

So, let’s pretend it will be six weeks. Travel is out because of spouse, child, fiscal stuff. What would you do?

My phone and my computer are groaning with the volume of photographs I have. I have them backed up, twice actually, to hard drive and to cloud, but I have almost no printed pictures. I made two photo books after LLV and used a tiny percentage of the pictures I wanted to.

Somewhere between my upbringing (photo heavy), and my dead husband (no longer available for new pictures) I am LOATHE to get rid of a photograph.

*The picture where it looks likes someone just spiked your kool-aid battery acid – I kept it.
**The eight sequential pictures of the lining of my purse – I kept one.
***Every picture of every list I ever drew out so kiddo knew what our plan was for the day – got’em.
That close up of his cheek, with a sparkle in his eye, taken during the golden hour – I have every one of those I have ever taken.
****Pictures I have taken of my dad and my husband furrowing their brow at me because they see no sense in taking a picture of them right now. I do – they are a couple of my favorite men and time never stands still.

Now I have a choice.

We could go the Pinterest route and talk about what to do with 5,000 unedited pictures. We could even subdivide that into giving the side-eye the new normal of editing pictures before we do anything with them.

Or, I can tell you about the picture that is in my mind right now. It is a dead husband picture at a BP/McDs in the middle of Illinois. It is somewhere (by the length and color of his hair) in the last 4 months of his life, but it is warm enough that I am in short sleeves. My mom took the picture. My hair is long; and blowing all across my face. In the series of pictures it is clear that we are enjoying the moment – but in this picture he looks sort of like he is protecting the world from Cousin It. He isn’t though. He is just draped on me and laughing.

****I don’t throw away pictures.
***I don’t want to edit them because the sky just looked the way it did.
**It isn’t enough to have them hidden on a drive or in the cloud which is why I don’t take them off the machines. I need and want to see them.
*I don’t have an idea of how to cull through, or display what I have.