Entries in hamilton; journaling (6)


These New York City Streets Gettin' Colder

I’m not sure what part of traveling I hate more – the hassle of getting to the airport and going through Security, or the flight itself. They tell you to arrive 1-2 hours before your scheduled departure, but the former practically guarantees the freeway will be shut down due to a SWAT situation involving stolen weapons, Rick Perry, and a pack of rabid raccoons. Also, only one security lane will be open, and you’ll get stuck behind some guy who doesn’t understand that his jacket has to come off, as well as his belt, and yes, the hat, too, and that laptop has to be removed from its case, and stay with your items, sir, don’t just leave them there, everything has to go in a separate container LIKE THEY SAID A MILLION TIMES WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Of course, if you opt for arriving two hours before your flight, the roads will be empty and all the TSA checkpoints will be open, but all the airport bars will be closed. Basically, you have an hour and fifty-five minutes to contemplate all the things that can go wrong when a 75-ton airplane hurtles 30,000 feet above the surface of the earth at 500+ miles per hour. Seriously, why are the bars closed? I can’t be the only one who needs a double gin and tonic at 7:00am.

We hit a few snags leaving for New York, but through some miracle we still made our flight. I love my husband dearly, but that man is incapable of leaving the house on time. All those jokes people make about having to wait on the women are pretty much opposite in my house: inevitably, my daughter and I will be standing at the door, tapping our feet as we wait for my husband to get his shit together. (This is made doubly frustrating by the fact that he spent the past hour, while my daughter and I were getting ready, playing Angry Birds and insisting he was “all set.”) Apparently, our front door is some sort of magic portal, and the instant he passes through he remembers all the things he meant to do before we left, plus seven different items he forgot to pack. 

So we left the house later than we’d intended, husband driving while I typed into my phone the address of the offsite airport parking lot at which I’d made a reservation. But husband doesn’t trust Siri, probably because I gave my Siri a male voice with a sexy English accent, and my husband is jealous. So rather than following the excellent directions from Ian (also I changed Siri's name to Ian), husband decided to navigate on his own, which would have been fine if we’d been going to the same parking lot we used last year — but we weren’t. By the time he realized this, exited the freeway, and turned around, I was beginning to panic. We got back on the highway (going the correct direction this time - yay!) but as we neared our exit the traffic was so bad we couldn’t cross the multiple lanes necessary in time to turn into the parking lot. So we ditched the reservation and parked at a different lot. Then we had to wait for the shuttle — and there's nothing like the quiet hysteria that grips you when you know you're very, very late, and there's nothing you can do but wait in total impotence. When we finally got to the airport, the lines for the two open Delta agents were almost out the door, and I remembered why I hate traveling. And my husband. (I’m kidding — I adore him. Mostly.)

Once we got through Security, and I could breathe without hyperventilating, I started to relax. We made our way to our gate, where Dan Rather sat making Facebook posts about the latest insane Trump tweet. Seriously. I guess you never know who you’ll run into on a flight to NYC. Or maybe he lives in Austin? It's possible. I could tell a few other people recognized him, but no one bothered him. Except me, of course. I was a journalism major — Dan Rather was one of my early childhood heroes. I never would have forgiven myself if I didn’t speak to him. Now, did I want to meet Dan Rather when I was wearing my standard travelling garb of faded hoodie and super-comfy fat pants? Of course not. But carpe diem, right? I shook his hand and thanked him for his Facebook posts, which have provided such reason and sanity amidst the craziness of this incoming administration. He was gracious and generous and thanked me for thanking him. Despite the rocky beginning, our vacation was now off to a fantastic start!



The man, the legend, the bored passenger awaiting his flight.The flight was uneventful; I read the first half of Roxanne Gay’s excellent book Bad Feminist while husband and daughter watched movies and played games. Seeing my kid’s face when we approached JFK and she saw snow on the ground was amazing. Poor kid. I think it’s snowed in Austin once since she was born, but she was so young she can’t remember it. I’d hired a car to take us into Manhattan, and it was fun to watch her snapping pictures of random things as we slowly made our way along the LIE from Queens. We arrived at our hotel an hour before check-in, which gave us a perfect opportunity to go play in some snow before it melted.

We stayed at the W near Times Square, so it was a short walk to Bryant Park. Temps were in the teens, with wind chills lowering that to the single digits, but having checked the weather before we left I was prepared. I wore fleece leggings beneath my fat pants and fleece thermals beneath my sweater, hoodie, and coat. Plus I had gloves and a heavy scarf. I had encouraged both husband and daughter to dress similarly (assuming we wouldn’t have a chance to get into our luggage prior to heading out), but both dismissed my warnings with a shrug and a pffffttt. Husband didn't want to be hot on the plane, and daughter does whatever husband does. Basically, I was the only one who wasn’t absolutely freezing while we trekked to the park. 

My husband is from the northwest, so he’s no stranger to sub-freezing temps. But apparently he’s lived in Texas long enough to become a total wimp who wouldn’t even take his hands out of his pockets long enough to snap a photo. A lack of gloves didn’t stop my daughter from playing in the powdery snow, though. She made snowballs and threw piles of snow into the air until her little hands were bright pink. I gave her my scarf, so at least her ears and head were warm. We watched the ice skaters at the Winter Village, bought a steaming cup of hot apple cider, and had another massive snowball fight before heading back to the W.

It was a tad chilly.

After checking into our suite and getting settled, we ventured back out. Daughter dragged us to the Hershey’s store and the M&M’s store in Times Square, then we just wandered around until we found a place to eat. We ended up at a pub called Hurley’s, where I had decent fish and chips, husband had a nice-looking shepherd’s pie, and daughter had that famous Irish specialty known as mozzarella sticks. Husband got to try a couple of local craft beers, and I had a local cider. Our bartender was Irish, which added genuine charm. All in all, a pleasant and tasty meal. 

We were exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel. Being in the heart of Manhattan plays with your sense of time, as even at midnight it’s so bright outside it feels like the sun is still up. We were on the 41st floor, which helped with the street noise, although it couldn’t completely shield us from the onslaught of constant sirens that is Times Square. Whatever – it’s part of the experience, right? I bought a white-noise app for my phone and we turned in, dreaming of the grand adventures we’d have the next day.



The Same Rights as You and Me - Jan 5, 2017

I took the kid to see the movie Hidden Figures today. Based on true events, it's the story of Katherine Johnson and several other brilliant African-American women whose calculations for NASA in the 60's helped America win the space race. 

It was an amazing movie. I laughed, I cried, and I barely restrained myself from throwing my drink at the screen more than once. There are many rage-inducing portrayals of discrimination, as well as several more subtle touches. I had to point out to my daughter the way white people were always addressed as Mr. or Mrs. [Last Name], yet people of color were addressed by their first names, denied even that simple honorific. It's hard to watch some of the stark segregation portrayed in the film: separate restrooms, different coffee pots, separate work spaces and cafeterias. I think it would be easy to say "look how far we've come" and feel good about the progress that's occurred since the 60's. But such statements are not only naive — they're dangerous. They allow the pervasive and systemic racism infecting our country to be ignored and dismissed, and that cannot happen.

The 2016 election exposed some of the ugliness in America, but certainly not all. In many ways, the election was the equivalent of waving a flashlight over a dead body that's been lying beneath the summer sun for five days, bloating in the heat. We got a glimpse of rotting, putrid flesh, of the festering wounds and writhing maggots ... and we quickly looked away. It's too awful to bear. It makes us sick to our stomachs to think of all that decaying, cankerous flesh soiling our beautiful White House while the foul stench of vacated excrement wafts through the cabinet.

But we can't look away. Not now. Not when there's so much work to be done.

I'm going to put some links here, some resources for both education and action. It is by no means comprehensive, but we all have to start somewhere. This just happens to be where I started ...

The 13th, a documentary by Ava DuVernay that takes an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality. Look for it on Netflix.

White Privelege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

How to Tell the Difference Between Real Solidarity and "Ally Theater" (and why white people, however well-intentioned, need to just STFU sometimes)

So You Call Yourself an Ally: 10 Things All "Allies" Need to Know

4 Things We Should All Teach Kids About Racism Right Now

How To Easily Be a White Ally to Marginalized Communities

Explaining White Privelge to a Broke White Person

Intersectional Feminism: What the Hell Is It? (And why you should care).

Kimberlé Crenshaw's TED Talk: The Urgency of Intersectionality

Detour-Spotting for White Anti-Racists

Racial Equality Tools website (tons of great resources here)

12 Ways to be a White Ally to Black People

Black Lives Matter

The Root website

White Fragility (understanding why people turn away from racial conversations)

Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves (this is a Google doc with tons of links to articles, resources, and books for understanding racism and how to fight it)

Weekly Call to Action Spreadsheet, with Calling Scripts, contact information for representatives and party leadership, plus lots of tips for having your voice heard.

What's Wrong With Cultural Appropriation?

Shit White Girls Say ... to Black Girls (and all of Franchesca Ramsey's videos, really)


I'll try to add more links as I come across good stuff, although this is probably enough reading and watching to keep anyone occupied for a while. We have to do something, people. Immediately. All you have to do is read a handful of the hateful comments people leave on Franchesca Ramsey's videos to see how shitty this country is right now. And with the incoming administration, things are bound to get worse. Evil has been emboldened by Trump's win, but if we stand up and resolve to fight, perhaps someday goodness will triumph.

We'll never be truly free until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me.


Confession Time, Here's What I Got - Jan 4, 2017

I think I finally figured out why I'm so bad at keeping a daily journal: most days, my life is dull, dull, dull. Who wants to read about cleaning the kitchen, taking the kid to music lessons, helping the kid with homework, cooking dinner, blah, blah, blah? It's my fricking life, and even I don't want to read about it.

I was trying to think of something journal-worthy that happened yesterday, but there's not much there. Oh, and when I say "yesterday" I really mean "today." You see, since I'm too tired to write at night, each "daily" entry is actually written the following morning and back-dated to the day it supposedly happened. Yes, I realize this is ridiculously convoluted, and it would have made far more sense to just set up the journal as a record of what I did the previous day, but I'm already a few entries into this endeavor and way too lazy to go back and change it now.

Which brings me to my confession: I didn't actually start this daily journal idea until yesterday. Which means I wrote the introduction and following three entries all on January 4th. And knowing me, this probably won't be the only time this happens.

I'm only telling you this because it's the main reason I don't have anything interesting to write about today. I spent a good chunk of yesterday faking past journal entries, so there's not much else to report. (Yes, I write THAT slowly.) Actually, it's not that I'm a slow writer ... it's that I'm a perfectionist, which is just a fancy way of saying it takes me 10x as long to accomplish stuff as normal people, because I spend hours tweaking and editing and "perfecting" my work product into something that is often only negligibly different than my first draft. I don't *want* to be this way, believe me. I am painfully aware that my writing is FAR from perfect, despite all the extra time I spend dicking around with it. I would love to be able to look at stuff I've written and think, "hey, that's not bad for a rough draft," instead of, "omg, toddlers finger-painting with dog poo could create more compelling prose ... and in less time."


I've tried to change, really I have. I printed out that famous quote, popularized by Voltaire, that asserts "the best is the enemy of the good" and taped it to my laptop (only I printed it in French, le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, because I'm just that obnoxious). It didn't help, and it's only mildly possible that it failed due to my constantly being distracted by the fact that I hadn't cut the paper perfectly straight or taped it to the EXACT center of my screen border. It's not easy being this eccentric.

I take comfort in knowing I'm not alone. There's a online program that proves others have the same issues when it comes to writing. You go into the program, set the number of words you wish to write, and start typing — the caveat being that you can't see, edit, or delete the words you've written until you hit your word count goal. All you're shown is the current word you're typing; once you hit the space bar it disappears. At first glance, this seems like the perfect solution for someone like me. What a great way to silence that inner editor ... if there's nothing there to edit, then it has no choice but to STFU, right? The control freak in me is hesitant to try this, though. It's not free, either; you have to pay a monthly subscription to use the program. And I'm not sure I'm ready to give up that much control in one fell swoop. It'd be like giving up my right to use the term "one fell swoop" ... I just don't see it happening.

Also, I'm not entirely sure it would work. I've tried countless times to force myself to keep cranking out words, ignoring that overwhelming urge to tweak the ones I've just written. You know what happens? The words dry up. It's like my brain gets so stuck on the need to fix whatever it deems wrong with the previous words that it lacks the ability to make new ones. All its attention turns backward until there is no path forward. If this were a power grid, you'd see all its energy being diverted to one tiny house, leaving everyone else in blackout conditions. Or maybe it's more like a clogged tub: new words can't flow until I've pulled out the slimy hairball of shitty words I wrote previously, mixed them up with a bunch of other words, and then tried to force them all back through the drain.

The bottom line is if I'm seriously unable to create new stuff because my brain is fixating on the old stuff, then these edit-restricting programs probably won't work for me. I can see myself sitting there, literally typing "blah, blah, blah" just to hit my goal.

So there's my deep, dark writer confession. Being a perfectionist sucks. Knowing you have a problem — yet not knowing how to solve it — also sucks. Hmm, does anyone get the feeling this journal will go from "365 Days of Hamilton" to "365 Ways in Which I Suck" before the year is out?

*raises hand*


Talk Less, Smile More - Jan 3, 2017

WTF was up with yesterday's post, amiright? Good grief ... I'm glad there were no sharp objects nearby when I wrote that. Maudlin much?

Why, yes. Yes, I am.

Today was a day for playing catch-up with laundry and doing annoying little things like paying the electric bill before the lights go out.

Getting pretty psyched for our trip to NYC next week! I still need to buy a coat, as living in central Texas means my heaviest outerwear is basically a long-sleeved tee shirt. It does get cold (20's) here, but it never lasts long enough to justify the actual purchase of something warm. Ugh, and now I'm talking about the weather. Day #3 of journaling, and it's already come to this. SORRY!

I suppose this is what comes of trying to talk less and smile more. For some of us, it's the opposite of a solution.




That Would Be Enough - Jan 2, 2017

I love being a parent. My kid is amazing — I would not hesitate to die, kill, lie, cheat, or steal in order to protect her. I love her so much it's overwhelming at times, and I have to just stop and wonder how I ever let myself carve out this huge section of my heart, just for her. It feels incredibly stupid and dangerous to hand over so much of yourself to someone so careless. And yet millions of parents do it every day. I think the secret is not to think about it too much, you know? My daughter will be a teenager soon, and I can already see her beginning her sure but steady transition to independence. If I do my job well, and raise her with lots of love and security and confidence, my reward will be a fiercely strong daughter who doesn't need me at all. What cruel irony is parenthood!

I remind myself to enjoy her adolescence while it remains, as I know this time is fleeting. My daughter's lucky I'm such a sap. And hormonal. Today was our last day of vacation, and instead of binge-watching Sherlock and stuffing my face with pumpkin pie, I decided to help my kid clean the Hazmat Storage Areas that often pass for her bedroom and bathroom.

Was I this gross when I was her age? I can't remember, but my guess is yes. You know it's bad when it takes both a regular vacuum AND a wet-dry Shop-Vac to finish the job. But we got it all done, and I'm going to do a better job of making sure she cleans it every week. On the plus side, I got to threaten her with a bag of gummy fried eggs I found stashed in one of her bathroom drawers (don't ask). Pretty sure the phrase "Don't make me beat you with eggs!" (and the requisite giggling that follows it) won't get old for a very long time.

Cleaning is never fun. But at least we made a memory.

And that's the whole point, right?

I know that someday soon, my funny, irrepressible little girl will be a woman, and all that will remain of her girlhood is my memories of this time. Memories of the rap battle we had in the car as we drove home from volleyball practice, or of her sheer glee when she bankrupted me at Monopoly, or of listening to the Hamilton soundtrack as we cleaned her room.

We'll have good days and bad days, but either way — good or bad — these days will just be memories. Will that be enough?

I guess it had better be.