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October 2021



My Mouth Hates Me

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The Novocaine was wearing off, but I still had one last tooth to be removed. I was six or seven years old, sitting in my dentist’s office, getting five teeth pulled so I could then get the braces I would need. It was early, yes, but my adult teeth were mostly coming in quickly. And while I would have braces for the entirety of elementary school, the hope is they would be removed before the dreaded awkwardness of junior high.

(And they were! But sadly, the haircut I chose in 6th grade wiped out any possible gains on that front.)

My mother would later tell me that she could hear me whimpering as that last tooth was pulled. It turns out that dentist was pretty bad, but I did eventually get the braces from an orthodontist. They were indeed removed in 5th grade. And my smile, from a cosmetic stance, is pretty great.

But structurally? My mouth is a mess.

* * *

I have bad teeth. Nearly every dentist has said it’s likely genetics — one even put me on prescription toothpaste for awhile, attempting to fix the acidity in my saliva. One dentist was definitely sure it’s all my fault, as I like sweets. And it’s true – anyone who knows me knows that I love candy and baked goods. But as a kid, it’s not like I drank soda anytime other than vacations. I had candy at the movies and on Halloween (though as a young child, my options were limited to things that weren’t likely to fuck up my braces), and ice cream for desserts. But I also brushed my teeth regularly, and ate lots of healthy foods. I’m not entirely sure if I had a lot of cavities as a teen – I don’t think I did.

But as an adult, my mouth is a nightmare. I’m typing this while taking a mixture of ibuprofen and the UK equivalent of Tylenol with codeine (okay’d by the dentist). Last night I got into an emergency appointment but the x-ray didn’t show an infection, so I cried in the chair because that meant there wasn’t the quick fix that antibiotics could provide. And my regular dentist couldn’t see me for nearly two weeks. The thought of the pain continuing (or worsening) for 13 days was a little too much in that moment.

bbc crying GIF

I’ve had dental insurance most of my adult life (though not now, in the UK – we’ll get to that in a moment). My molars seem to rotate through a standard series of events. I go in for a check-up (usually not in any pain). I’ve gone every six months for my entire life, which I know is an absurd privilege. I get the cleaning, and then the dentist takes some x-rays and looks in my mouth. Some dentists have been a bit overzealous, filling cavities that probably didn’t need any work. Those fillings inevitably fail, so I need a new, deeper filling. Which fails a few years later. So I need a crown. Then something either gets up under the crown, or the tooth just gives up, and so a root canal follows.

My first root canal was when I was about 24 or 25, living in NYC, with pretty decent dental insurance. I was TERRIFIED, because everything I’d heard until then suggested a root canal was horribly painful. But it really wasn’t bad (and these days its even better). They put a crown on, and I went on my way. The next time I needed one, I was living in London, no dental insurance, but access to an NHS dentist as a student. I don’t recall his name, but he did a great job.

I can’t recall needed a root canal while living in Seattle. I’d have some pain and need fillings updated to crowns, but no root canals. It was frustrating, painful, and disheartening. I floss literally every single day (no joke). I use the toothpaste they suggest. I brush morning and night. I do drink sparkling water, and I like citrus foods. But I’m not going to sleep with a grapefruit between my teeth, and I’m not having a coke with lunch every day.

Since returning to the UK, I’ve needed three more root canals. One they caught before the infection appeared, so it was more luck than anything (I was in pain, but it was manageable). The second is how I found my current dentist. I was scheduled, but not for a few days, and the pain was brutal. I called anyone who would answer on a Saturday morning, went in, they saw the infection, gave me antibiotics, and I was fine within a day, then got the treatment. That was just a week or two before lock down started in March 2020..

Phew GIFs | Tenor

The last one was earlier this year. It didn’t start with serious pain, just an ache and the recognition that my crown was failing. The plan was to replace the crown and move on, but once he got in there, it was clear I needed a root canal. Four appointments – and about £1100 later – it was all sorted.

I estimate since moving here we’ve spent about £4000 on my teeth. Each experience has been just fine, as the technology is great, and it’s really not any worse than getting a filling. I get numb, they do loud things, my jaw is sore for a few hours, and then I move on. If I didn’t have the funds for private, I would get treatment on the NHS, for reduced cost, though likely with a longer wait.

This time is frustrating. My mouth started aching a week ago. It wasn’t bad, then it was a little worse. But Advil taken a couple of times a day sorted it out. I emailed for a dental appointment, and was given one about three weeks out. No problem. But by the next morning, it was worse, and getting harder to ignore, so they got me the emergency appointment I had on Friday. The night before, it took me three hours to fall asleep because the pain medication wasn’t working anymore. I got about five hours of sleep. It sucked.

But I was so excited because I’d been down this road before – I’d had five root canals! I knew the signs, I knew the pain, and I knew the steps that followed: antibiotics to handle the infection, then treatment a few days later. Pain gone, life moves on. But this time, no infection was to be found. So there was no promise of relief. Just some more pain medication, and the hope that they can move up my appointment that is now still almost two weeks away.

* * *

When I was still working in Seattle, my colleague Dave helped bring an amazing mobile medical clinic to one of the local arenas. Over four days, physicians, dentists, and eye doctors would treat hundreds of patients for free. People would drive from all over, sleeping in the parking lot, getting in line to get a number in the hopes they would be seen. I volunteered a couple of times, and was once assigned to be a floater in the dental area, helping keep people in order and getting them seen as quickly as possible. Nearly everyone wanted to see a dentist. They had dozens and dozens of treatment chairs set up for people after their initial exam. People got x-rays, got teeth pulled, got flippers.

Dental pain is brutal – you can’t massage it like a muscle strain, or put much of a good topical treatment on (clove oil sort of works, but it’s pretty meh). One needs one’s mouth to do all sorts of things, like talk, or eat, or drink, so it’s very hard to just push through or put aside the pain. And it gets worse at the worst time – when one is trying to sleep.

I cannot imagine not getting relief from this pain because one doesn’t have access to or cannot afford a dentist. I don’t know how people can function. My family has a weirdly high pain tolerance, but dental pain is on a totally different level. It’s exhausting. And it’s horrible to think of all the people just trying to deal with it without any relief on the horizon, either because they can’t afford it, or because there aren’t any dentists available taking on patients without insurance (or, in the UK, ones on the NHS).

* * *

For now, the current pain medications are mostly working. I’m hoping I’ll get an appointment sooner so they can sort out what’s going on in my mouth. And once they do, it’ll be fine for awhile. But sometime – maybe in a year, maybe two – it’ll happen again. And again. Until I run out of molars.

It sucks.

Enjoy your Halloween candy.

youll be a dentist gifs, little shop of horrors gifs, steve martin gifs, orin scrivello gifs




March 2021



I’m Anxious About Resuming ‘Normal’ Life

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For some of us, it’s been a year. A year of staying inside, ordering groceries for delivery, taking a walk every single day because that was the only legal excuse to leave the house

(I say some of us, because some states haven’t had many restrictions, some countries had intense restrictions and then returned life to almost normal, and some had a hybrid of lock down / fewer restrictions / lock down again. And of course, others who have died from COVID-19 don’t have the chance to worry about anything anymore.)

During this time, even people in countries with a lock down have still had to go to work. They’ve been around other people on public transit, in the office, out in the world. They have likely experienced more trauma than the rest of us (especially and obviously those who have been providing care to those sickened by COVID-19). They also, I would guess, will have an easier time easing back into the social aspects of society, because being around someone other than their roommate or immediate family members, or perhaps the person ringing them up in the grocery store, won’t be weird. They have been around coworkers for the past year.

So this is for the rest of us – the ones who, regardless of lock down status, have been following recommendations to not be indoors with people outside your household if possible, not going out to dinner, not visiting stores for non-essential items. Maybe we’ve been able to play some outdoor sports, or met up with a friend for a walk in the park. But we’ve not seen friends in a bar in at least a year, and we haven’t had to make small talk with the co-worker we don’t really know.


I am an introvert. I know a lot of people roll their eyes at the extrovert / introvert discussion, but the reality is that being attentive to or receiving attention from more than a handful of people is, to me, exhausting. I love my friends. I love getting together over dinner with one or two of them, having interesting conversations. I love going to the movies with them. But I can only do it in fairly small doses without being exhausted for awhile.

And work? Oh man, work has always been a challenge. Working from home this past year has been hard in many ways, but in others it’s been AMAZING. I’ve gotten about 30 minutes extra sleep at night while still getting my morning run in each day. I’ve saved money on the breakfasts and lunches I would purchase during the workday. And while I have some morning phone calls where I have to be ‘on’, I haven’t had to make small talk with my admittedly awesome colleagues when I’m still getting oriented to the world. I can focus on my work without interruptions, and can also just get up and lay down on my bed for a few minutes when I’m overwhelmed. I know so many people thrive in the in-person office space, especially people who have more creative jobs than I do, but the idea of having to keep my mood chipper and my interactions constant for eight hours a day, every day, is a bit terrifying. Like, how was it okay that we used to do this? How is it still okay for people working in jobs that must be done in person? Surely they deserve fewer hours and higher pay because ack. That’s just so … much.

Between July and October I was able to train with my former football club, and that was amazing. It was structured – training once a week, matches once a week – but still a time where I was around other people, some of whom have become friends. And being outside, there wasn’t nearly as much concern about transmitting the disease. We could for the most part just run around and play, expending energy before returning back home to resume some of the elements of lock down life.

But (other than a couple of weeks in December), even that social interaction has been gone. Since early November, my in-person contact with other humans outside my partner have been primarily with my dentist. I needed a root canal, and the process took four visits. I admit I looked forward to those visits as it was a legally allowed way for me to both leave the house and hear another person’s voice. Also my tooth feels much better, so that’s nice. But I would always feel some anxiety in the day leading up, not because of the fear of pain, but because it was me, being around someone else.

Now that rules are starting to lessen, we’re starting to make plans, and I’m starting to get a little anxious.

Like, my new football team is starting training on 31 March. I’m seeing some friends this weekend and this week (outdoors, of course). And at some point, even more will open up. Restaurants will start serving again, and friends will want to go to one. I’ve not been inside a restaurant since February 2020. I did not “eat out to help out” because that seemed like a horrible idea (spoiler alert: it was). But I understand why some people did. They wanted to see people. They wanted some sense of normalcy. And they were probably tired of doing all the washing up after cooking every meal every day for months.

I would like a different normal when more people are vaccinated and restrictions are lifted. I want to start traveling again, for sure. That’s what I’ve missed the most – that, and bookstores. But I want to be more careful with my time, because I’ve learned that yes, I definitely need more human interaction than the pandemic has allowed, but I also work better with less than pre-2020 expectations required.

So what does that mean? Well, I’m keeping up with football, so that means one night a week I’ll have training, and Saturdays I will have games. I know that Friday nights I’m usually pretty tuckered out, so I think my primary times for seeing friends will need to be Sunday brunches or perhaps Monday evenings. Obviously I can’t be so strict that there’s no flexibility for seeing friends who are in town, or going to a show, or just spontaneously meeting up with folks, but I also know that I cannot and will not try to ‘make up for lost time’ by trying to shove my days full of things again. It has been nice, having weekend days that aren’t jam packed. It’s been nice knowing that when work ends, I have my evenings to my self.

But I do also really miss my friends. And I’m excited to have the option of making plans that aren’t just a zoom chat.

I know some people might read this and feel a connection to it. But others are probably flummoxed by the idea that, once vaccinated, I’m still going to be a bit timid with returning to ‘normal’ life. Or that I’m hoping that life never returns to the exact normal that we all had before.

So to my friends who are extroverts, and cannot wait to pick everything back up, and start making loads of plans: please be patient with us. My not jumping on the first opportunity to meet up does not mean I don’t want to see you. It just means that I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate the world again.



February 2021



Happy Galentine’s Day!

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Random

I didn’t watch Parks and Recreation when it was first on TV, but I’ve now watched the series through a few times (on my fourth viewing right now – thanks to UK Lockdown 3). Leslie Knope is one of my picks when doing one of those ‘which three TV characters describe you’ Twitter queries (Robin Scherbatsky and Monica Geller are the other two. I mean, I’m not wrong, am I?). One of my favorite parts about Leslie Knope is her love of her girlfriends, as demonstrated in her relationship with her best friend Ann Perkins. Obviously Leslie can be overbearing at times, which she eventually works on, but she clearly loves her friends. She’s a thoughtful gift-giver, and regularly celebrates how awesome her friends are.

Hence, Galentine’s Day, celebrated on February 13th every year.

I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful friends over the years. I’ve not been one to have a giant friend group of my own – I do best one on one, or in a very small group. I’ve had lots of great chats of hot chocolate and brunch (though lately those chats have been via WhatsApp and Zoom). This year, I decided to spend some time really thinking about how amazing all my Gals are.

There’s a Gal I’ve known since 1st grade, who spent many summers with me and my family up at Lake Tahoe. We watched Wayne’s World like every day one summer. We went to the local Mexican restaurant and flirted with the bus boys. We had uncountable slumber parties.

In college I didn’t end up becoming besties with my roommate, although she was lovely. But I did build three close friendships that, nearly a quarter of a century later (um, holy shit) are still going strong, despite the fact that for 11 of those years we’ve lived in separate cities. One Gal and I became friends because our boyfriends were old friends and college roommates. Neither of us are with those boys anymore, but we’re still friends. We participated in the Women’s March together and exchange texts about politics. Another Gal and her husband (an honorary Gal – he served as officiant at my wedding) took me in when I moved back to Seattle after graduate school, letting me live with them rent free for six months while I found a job and then saved up for my own place. But before that, in college, we hung out in her apartment, eating pizza and for some reason playing tag in the living room. She is the kind of thoughtful where she’ll buy Girl Scout cookies and send them halfway around the world to me based off an offhand comment about how I was bummed I couldn’t get them here. She is also the best person to take with you shopping, because she’ll definitely convince you to buy whatever you’re considering.

Another Gal called me just a couple of hours after she had her daughter (she was in Seattle, I in NYC), who is basically my niece. This Gal hosted a bridal shower for me, and was willing to throw me a bachelorette party (though I passed) even though that is not her thing. She lets me stay with her when I’m in town, and for the years I was back in Seattle, she and I had a girls night nearly every week. Sometimes it was Friday nights, when I’d join the family for dinner; sometimes it was mid-week, and we’d go grab a bite and then get ice cream or pie. We talk on the phone every week, and even if I’m a little cranky, that regular check-in brightens things. It’s not the same as a weekly meet-up in person, but it’s good enough for now.

When I went to grad school in New York, I met a Gal, and we were so close. We took trips together, hung out every weekend. Many a Saturday began with either me making my way to her place, or her picking me up, and us grabbing bagels and Diet Cokes and heading out on an adventure. She lived in Queens, and I was in Manhattan, yet even after an evening out in Manhattan I’d still get in a cab and end up back at her place on the couch. I spent a Thanksgiving with her family in Pittsburgh and a week with her parents and now-husband in Italy. She and I got sunburned in Puerto Rico, and had adventures in Barcelona.

In London, I lucked out and made friends with two amazing Gals. They are both from the US, so part of our friendship felt like home. We were in the same program so could study together, commiserate together. One is married with a little one, and we helped celebrate those milestones with her. The other is a rockstar at work, which has been awesome to see. She’s also a fantastic cook. Our WhatsApp chat can be quiet for a week or two, then lights up whenever anything big happens in the US or our own lives. I can’t wait to get together with them again when it’s safe to do so.

And then there’s the Gal I met in residence halls in London, who helped me find my job here, who receives and shares many a bitch session of texts, and has come out to see me and Austin during the lockdowns when we could still meet up with other households. And honorary Gal, who directs me to the best TV and movies. Personally I think he just sticks around because he knows I don’t always finish my lunch, which means he gets the leftovers. Our group text with Austin involves sharing absurd Tweets, knocking our respective governments, and live texting new episodes of Grand Designs. They helped me celebrate my 40th with a virtual tea.

One Gal is the wife of a dear friend, who originally thought I was his intern (we were coworkers at the time; I chose to believe it was down to my youthful good looks and not my immaturity). She’s so fun to text with, and run with! She helped me train for my first half marathon, and helped me get into my love of running, which has been so critical for my mental health. For a couple of years I was also basically the third wheel on Friday nights with her and her husband. Honestly, it’s so fun being good friends with both partners, and when I was single it was really nice to not need a date to hang out with a couple.

Another Gal and I met through our partners, and she had a spare ticket and invited me to see the musical Mama Mia (touring show, not the Meryl Streep movie), where we got to know each other better. Since then, we’ve become good friends, and we go on adventures with our partners. There was the World Cup in Vancouver in 2015, a couple of trips to New Orleans and a couple of trips to Vegas, then two summers ago we spent a load of time together traveling to the World Cup in France. They stayed with us in London, we had fun, and she was so thoughtful when I had the cough that never ended, stopping into a tiny French chemist to try to find something to help. Now she’s in Ireland, and I’m so excited for a trip to visit her.

Two Gals are married to each other, and used to be our regular double date to watch the Reign play in Seattle. I worked with one, and she made the workday so much better. We were lucky enough to also spend time with them in France for the World Cup, and I treasure those memories, especially as its unclear when we’ll get together again.

And another Gal – she is married to someone Austin went to college with. We text every few days, and even manage to talk on the phone on occasion. When we first moved out here, my partner flew her out to visit so I would have a familiar face to spend some time with, which was amazing. She keeps me honest to my values, and is a good sounding board for when I’m not entirely sure the best course of action on some things.

There are other Gals who have been in my life in the past, but for whatever reason are no longer around. We may have lost touch, or just moved in different directions. But I feel lucky for having known them, as they were amazing friends while we were in touch. And obviously this isn’t an exhaustive accounting of all the awesome women I’ve known, who have made a difference, and continue to make a difference in my life.

This Galentine’s Day, take a moment to reach out to your girlfriends and let them know how much they mean to you.



December 2020



We Won’t Be Traveling for Christmas This Year

Written by , Posted in Adventures, Random

Fake Tree in the Family Room

This year we obviously won’t be traveling for Christmas. So I thought I’d spend some time thinking about the Christmases I’ve had, hoping that next year we’ll be able to celebrate the way we hoped to this year.

First off – I don’t identify as Christian. My dad is Catholic (not been to a mass not associated with a wedding or funeral that I know of since I was born), and my mom was raised in some version of Protestant. Growing up, we were what I’ve heard referred to as submariner Christians — only surfacing on Easter and Christmas. But even that stopped when my mother’s mom died. Other than a brief phase in high school where I actually got baptized and confirmed (don’t ask), I’ve not felt Christian. And at this point I don’t believe in any version of God, but I know that culturally, the Christmas holidays mean something to me. Not because of Jesus (though, if he existed as described, sounds like a pretty cool dude), but because of the fun times with family and friends.

I don’t think we ever traveled for Christmas. Until I was a teenager, that was reserved for Thanksgiving. We’d drive down to southern California and visit both sides of the family, having Thanksgiving dinner at my dad’s parents’ house. The Wednesday before we’d go to Disneyland, which was AMAZING.

But for Christmas the only family we’d see outside the immediate was my mother’s mom, and she went into a nursing home when I was six, so after that it was just the four of us, with partners added in later.

There are certain decorations that evoke the holidays for me.

  • This green ceramic Christmas tree that my mom puts Hershey kisses or peppermint patties in. One year our dog got into it while we were out. (She was fine)
  • This other green ceramic tree, with lights, that plugs into the wall. It was always in one of the bathrooms. Don’t know why.
  • My maternal grandmother’s fabric advent calendar, with elves and Santa and other associated plastic bits, that stuck on with Velcro. Santa’s sleigh was always the 24th, with Santa on the 25th.
  • These four separate ceramic angels, that when put together, spell NOEL. These go in the china cabinet, and must be reorganized regularly to spell LEON or LONE.

The tree has lots of different ornaments, some special (ones my sister and I made), some just pretty. The star my sister crafted in Mrs. Allio’s third grade class is always on top.

We have stockings my maternal grandmother made (or bought? Unclear). Had them our whole lives, and even now they still get hung, and there are still treats in there from Santa. Santa (my mom), no joke, would individually wrap in tissue paper every item in the stockings, which included things like travel toothbrushes and candy canes, but also as we got older, postage stamps and lottery tickets. In later years my sister and I have done stockings for my parents as well, usually with movie tickets and candy inside. Those get opened on Christmas morning, before breakfast.

Food. Oh, the food. It’s not a huge non-stop feast, but there are some things. Like fudge. Delicious chocolate fudge that I make every year, no matter what. Even in London, where finding marshmallow fluff has been a challenge at times. My mother makes tons of it, and gives it away to neighbors, the letter carrier, anyone really. It’s legit the best fudge I’ve ever tasted.

Then the sugar cookies. We think it’s a recipe from an early-edition Joy of Cooking. It’s so good – it’s the almond extract. But the cookies are made fairly early on, in shapes like bells, stars, candy canes. And then they are iced. Yellow icing is lemon, green icing is peppermint, and red and blue icings are almond. That’s just the rules. My sister, mother and I would sit around icing them, while my dad watched basketball. I make them now, and end up freezing a bunch because they are SO GOOD frozen. They’re a pain to make but I love them.

Peppermint stick ice cream. The Baskin Robbins version is the best. I think some shops carry it year round now, but the arrival of it to the local shop at the Clocktower (why yes, I did grow up in a suburb out of a Hallmark film, why do you ask?) signaled the start of Christmas to me.

Christmas morning was eggs, potatoes, fruit, and cinnamon rolls. The Pillsbury kind, nothing made from scratch, because the Pillsbury ones are frankly the best.

Sometime in the week before Christmas, we go look at the lights. Often we’ll eat Mexican food first at a local restaurant I like. That’s probably not the best idea when the following activity is sitting in a car with the windows up for an hour or so, but we manage. We play Dean Martin and Nat King Cole Christmas songs and drive around. Some neighborhoods are absurdly decked out, and a lot of people put in the effort.

Christmas eve, one gift. When we were little, it was usually the gift from one of our Aunts and Uncles. In later years, we’ve switched to just giving books, which is really fun, as we are all voracious readers.

When I was 29, I spent Christmas away, because I’d come back to London for graduation. I hung out with a friend in the Lake District. Neither of us are British, and so didn’t realize that everything is actually closed on Christmas. Not most things, EVERYTHING. After that, Austin and I spent one Christmas up in Seattle together. Once we moved overseas, we figured we’d alternate US and UK. So in 2018, we rented a house in Scotland for a week. The owners decorated it for Christmas, we went on walks by the sea every day, and read lots of books. Magical. Last year we had tickets to go back to the US, but our visa situation meant that we couldn’t travel, so this year we were going to make up for it. Except once again, we’ll be in London.

I’ve made a gingerbread house this year, and hung some decorations. We have a tiny tree my niece has named Nigel and my friend has rightfully mocked for being more of a Christmas shrub. Austin and I both have two weeks off. But it’s a pandemic. My parents will be with each other, and we’ll do a Skype or Zoom call and play cards and hang out remotely, but it sucks.

So I think of the memories, and think about how hopefully we’ll get to do them again next year.



November 2020





November 2018



30 Days of Thankful

Written by , Posted in Random

I’m thankful every day for so many things, but this month I decided to make a point of publicly recognizing something I’m thankful for every day. Below are all of those posts, in one place, including the final one: Today, I’m thankful that I found an outlet for my creativity in writing. I’ve written a book (still in search of an agent), maintain a couple of websites (How Not to Be a Jerk When, Seattle to London), and participate in the Cannonball Read, which forces me to write reviews for all the books I’ve read. Writing brings me joy, frustrates me, and just generally improves my life.

November 1: Today, I’m thankful for the partner I have in Austin. He’s thoughtful, he’s kind, he wants to make the world — and himself — better. Plus, he makes me laugh every day.

November 2: Today, I’m thankful for The Good Place. Yes, the TV show. It is thoughtful, sweet, and always puts a giant smile on my face.

November 3: Today, I’m thankful that we were able to get an apartment in London with an office / guest room. We’ve hosted friends and family in it, and it serves as an excellent place for one of us to sleep when the other gets sick (feel better Austin).

November 4: Today, I’m thankful for supportive teammates and a manager willing to take extra time to help me be a better goal keeper.

November 5: Today, I’m thankful for cafes that serve delicious hot drinks and provide space for studying, writing, reading, and quiet conversation.

November 6: Today, I’m thankful that Washington state has vote by mail, and that it has a super easy way for us folks living overseas to still exercise our right to vote.

November 7: Today, I’m thankful that we took back the House.

November 8: Today, I’m thankful that, after three months, the repairs to our house in Seattle are complete, and our tenants totally just rolled with it.

November 9: Today, I’m thankful for first responders. Right now, I’m thinking about the folks who were at the shooting in Thousand Oaks and then spent the next night fighting a fire and evacuating people.

November 10: Today, I’m thankful for Cannonball Read. Being part of this community for the last six years (!) has opened me up to new genres and pushed me to read at least a book a week.

November 11: Today, I’m thankful for Jameson and Tigger. They are sweet, loving, annoying little shits and they make life better.

November 12: Today, I’m thankful for modern dentistry. Just had my fourth root canal (my teeth hate me) and while it was mildly uncomfortable near the end, it was no worse than a run-of-the-mill filling.

November 13: Today, I’m thankful for family recipes that remind me of home. Made banana bread today and it was delicious.

November 14: Today, I’m thankful for crisp and sunny fall days. This is my favorite time of year.

November 15: Today, I’m thankful for friends willing to watch our kittens when we’re away for longer stretches of time. It feels good knowing the buddies are with extended family.

November 16: Today, I’m thankful for the kind man at Primark who was able to figure out that when I said tank top I meant what is known as a vest in British English. (Also thankful for all the other British folks who are able to understand and translate my US English.)

November 17: Today, I’m thankful for long walks through fascinating cities with Austin.

November 18: Today, I’m thankful that I’ve never had to worry about having a roof over my head. As it gets colder here, I’m thinking about all the people who aren’t as lucky as I’ve been. (To support an org helping those without homes in Seattle: Aurora Commons.)

November 19: Today, I’m thankful I live in a place with free museums. The ability to pop into a building and spend an hour looking at fantastic art for just a small donation is kind of unbelievable.

November 20: Today, I’m thankful for umbrellas. I know I part ways with my Seattle friends here in my insistence on using them, but screw it. I like being dry.

November 21: Today, I’m thankful for family vacations. When I was a kid, we’d travel to L.A. to visit family over Thanksgiving, with a stop at Disneyland on the day before. I have so many great memories from those trips.

November 22: Today, I’m thankful for everyone who has ever welcomed me into their home for Thanksgiving.

November 23: Today, I’m thankful for my parents. I had a great childhood, and I’ve never doubted their love for me, which I know isn’t a guarantee in life.

November 24: Today, I’m thankful for the means and opportunity to travel. A weekend in Berlin? Yes please.

November 25: Today, I’m thankful for Stephanie, a.k.a. the best sister ever. Missing you as we explore Berlin – that was such a fun trip (and shockingly long ago)!

November 26: Today, I’m thankful for the composers and lyricists who can bring out amazing emotions in a three minute song (or two hour musical).

November 27: Today I’m thankful for a new opportunity. Starting on Monday I’ll be working in higher education and I could not be more excited! Emergency management has been so good to me, but it’s time for a change.

November 28: Today, I’m thankful for my friends. Pretty generic statement, I know, but I’m lucky to have friends all over, and you’re all fantastic.

November 29: Today, I’m thankful for all the health care workers and caretakers out there. Whether they care for people or animals, I appreciate how much they add to our lives (literally and figuratively).

November 30: Today, I’m thankful that I found an outlet for my creativity in writing. Writing brings me joy, frustrates me, and just generally improves my life.



September 2018



Three Months Off

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At the beginning of the summer, I reviewed a book about deleting social media. After a lot of thought, I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and pared down my Twitter. I didn’t have a page for my etiquette blog anymore, and I didn’t tweet anything except new essays and book reviews.

Monday, I created new Facebook and Instagram accounts, and I’m not entirely happy about it.

When I left Seattle after college, social media wasn’t really a thing. My Space existed, but I don’t remember using it as much as we all seem to use Facebook and Twitter now. Even texting wasn’t huge, so my friends and I stayed in touch with emails and phone calls.

I know. Phone calls. Without video!

When I closed down my Facebook account about five months after moving to London, I figured it’d be the same as before. Occasional long emails, perhaps a Skype or WhatsApp video call. But it wasn’t. At least not entirely. A few friends did stay in touch that way, responding to my emails, or writing their own. And a couple downloaded WhatsApp (it’s used by pretty much everyone over here, but seems to not have caught on in the US) so I can text with them almost daily.

But from the rest of my friends, I didn’t hear much about what was going on. It made me sad, and I felt cut off, even forgotten.

That’s more than a bit self-centered, I know. But it’s what I was feeling,

And for some friends, it probably rings a bit true. If I’m not in front of them, and I’m not following them online, and they’ve got a lot of other more important shit to deal with, are they really going to settle down to send me a long email when they could be playing with their kids (or the new Spider-Man video game)?

But for others, I’d imagine (and, let’s be real, I’d hope) that it was less a statement about or friendship and more about just not having the energy or time to repeat themselves. As we’ve all gotten so used to sharing so much of our lives with our friends via this one method of social media, it’s pretty easy to forget that there are a couple people out there who haven’t seen the pregnancy announcement or career change update.

Given that, I’ve come to recognize that since Facebook and Instagram are so common, asking for another, separate update from some folks was a bit presumptuous of me. I mean, yes, writing an email doesn’t take that long, but if a person has already told their story on an outlet that I can easily access, is it fair for me to expect they do it all again, just for me?

I still don’t like Facebook – as they say, if you don’t have to pay for a service, it’s probably because you’re the product that’s being sold, and I don’t like being sold. I also don’t have any interest in getting sucked into fights on there again, or in connecting any of my other online life through it. I’m also not going to bring back my etiquette blog page at this point, because a main benefit of that would be using Facebook to advertise it, and I don’t want to give Facebook any of my money.

I do, however, want to know what’s going on with people, and share what’s going on with me. So that means that, at least until there’s an alternative, or everyone leaves at once and starts sending emails again…



April 2018



Social Media Reset

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Earlier this year I read a book about phone usage and have been actively working on reducing the time I spend on my phone. I deleted all casual games as well as all social media apps except Slack, WhatsApp, and Instagram, which means I need to actually log into Facebook and Twitter to post or view. It’s been a pain at times, but it’s also forced me to be a bit more intentional with my words and my time.

I know that in the past couple of weeks many people have deleted their Facebook accounts due to the data collection, use, and abuse by among others Cambridge Analytica (among others). I absolutely respect that, although it does make me a bit sad. Facebook is a nightmare, but it’s also the way I see pictures of your children, or find articles of interest, or learn about events to attend. Having moved yet again, it keeps me feeling connected to friends who may not have time to Skype or send long emails on a regular basis. Plus, it’s a way for me to promote How Not To Be A Jerk When…

Same with Twitter. It’s basically my news aggregator (RIP Google Reader, which was the best), as well as a way to share little jokes with friends.

However, I’ve found that for the most part,* I don’t need a running history of my life available for public consumption. So over the past week, I’ve taken my own steps. I’ve deleted everything I posted on Facebook prior to 2018 (yes, everything), and deleted all tweets I’ve ever made from my personal account, and all but a handful of writing-related posts from my public account (more on that below). I’ve also changed up some names.

What this means going forward is that I’ll probably not be liking your Facebook posts or Tweets as often. I’ll be reading them, and possibly reaching out to you via other means if the post shares particularly awesome (or not awesome) news. I’ll likely still engage, but there won’t be a record of it for long, as for my personal Facebook and Twitter, I’ve set it up to only keep 3-4 months of history going forward.

For Twitter, that means I’m using a third party website that deletes tweets that are more than 93 days old. For Facebook, I have a recurring task at the start of each month to go and delete any Facebook activity from the previous month.

This doesn’t mean I think what I’m doing is the only or best way to do social media; it’s just what I’m trying out to see if it works for me. The only reason for posting this is in case you notice that something I’d posted on your awesome profile pic disappeared, or you wonder why I didn’t react to the news you posted. Of course, I’m not under any illusion that any friends just sitting there waiting for my like or retweet (we all have lives), but I didn’t want to just disappear either.

So! Going forward:

Personal (history retained for three months or so)

Public (history retained indefinitely)

Finally, if you have any questions about how I did what I did, including apps or sites I found helpful and ones I found to not be helpful at all, drop me a note.

*I’m not deleting Instagram, because I love those pictures, and I do like having that little history available.



August 2016



What Does A Word Cost?

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About six months and a whole lot of money, if you’re Hope Solo, and the word is ‘coward.’ US Soccer has terminated its contract with Ms. Solo for the comments she made after losing to Sweden during the Olympics, and suspended her for six months.

On the one hand – she isn’t what some people seem to want in a female athlete. She gets in trouble, she doesn’t always apologize, and she has an attitude. I like her more than I like Clint Dempsey, but that seems to be a comparable player. Both are really good, both seem to have giant chips on their shoulders, and both don’t seem interested in apologizing for who they are.

On the other hand – really? Six months for that? It seems … excessive.

(Maybe those are both the same hand? I don’t know.)

Also, as some others have mentioned, it’s super convenient that she was only suspended for 30 days after the van borrowing DUI / fight with her nephew , which meant she missed no real competition. But now that the world cup and Olympics are over, US Soccer cares about her attitude?

That’s a bit rough to even pretend to believe.

More info here:




November 2015



Paris, je t’aime

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I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris six times in my life; I was just there again in March. It is one of my favorite places to be – I even spent my 30th birthday there, eating and drinking my way across the arrondissements.  What is happening there today is breaking my heart.

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