09 February 2013


In the west Texas town where I grew up, the sun comes down hard on its people
Like a disapproving father
A mountain silhouette wraps its arms around you,
its anemic air simultaneously giving life and making it hard to breathe.
Like a mother torn between nursing her baby
and smothering it.
Clouds cast moving shadows on the hillsides,
mocking the shapes of birds and snakes.
Like the light show puppets
my father used to sing me to sleep.

I ran from these hills once.

But they do not begrudge me.
Each time I return, they greet me like a prodigal.
Golden poppies unroll like a welcome mat across the valley.
Cacti lift their prickly arms to wave 'hello'.
Mountain peaks stand at attention
and stars twinkle lullabies.

And I take a slow, intentional breath,
Do everything I can to commit to memory the hollowed voice of the summer breeze.
The fault lines and furrows of my father's hands.

05 January 2013

The adventure that almost wasn't. On overcoming fear...

My friend and colleague, Lauren, writes over at I'm Better in Real Life.  She has a way with making the everyday extraordinary. She chronicles her adventures, shares her misadventures, and occassionally taunts Republicans. It's all real life and it's all entertaining.

Last month, I had the honor of sharing a post with her readers about my adventure in New York City. Check it out!

One of the things I really love about my job is that I get to travel. During my first week, I trained in San Francisco where I met Lauren, who I soon discovered to be my uncanny counterpart in the universe. Then I got to go to New York City for the first time and ride a subway and eat hotdogs on the street and wear one of those shamefully cheesy I <3 NY hoodies and it was glorious.

So, when I got the opportunity to plan another business trip to the Big Apple, I was definitely excited. Then, a week before my trip, Sandy went all woman scorned, ripping up boardwalks and flooding subway stations and whatnot. The news footage was awful and New Yorkers and New Jers(ians?) were devastated. And I was…terrified.

I may have had a minor meltdown and begged my boss to delay my trip, citing impossible public transportation conditions, a cancelled reservation at a closed hotel, and ohmygosh what if Sandy comes back for more? I begged, I pleaded. Please don’t make me.

Ultimately, I had to answer to my boss’s boss about cancelling a costly trip. It was kind of like when you ask your dad for something, knowing he will say yes. Then he says “ask your mom.” And you’re like…never mind. When I had to explain my objections to the big boss, I was suddenly very embarrassed. I realized I was sounding like a big, ungrateful whiner. “I have to go to Manhattan?! And stay in a fancy hotel? For FREE? Woe is me!!”

And so my pride won over my fear and I went. But not without some considerable pouting and a [possibly subconscious] delay that almost made me miss my flight.

New York City is resilient. She’d bounced back by the time I’d arrived. Besides some stores being shut down near the seaport, the city was going about business as usual.

On the work side of the trip, I got to schmooze with some of the big shots in the company. They were impressed by my insight and my confidence in giving them constructive feedback about recent goings-on. I learned that the scope of my job is much larger than I thought, and I ended feeling re-energized and excited to get back to the office and put new things into play.

Basically, I owned it.

In the evenings, I was on my own. Oh, hello fear! You again! Alone in New York with the bad guys, and the big crowds, and the people who would surely know I’m an awkward solo girl. On the first night, I elected to stay in.

On Tuesday, I had a talk with my mother. She said she was so proud of me and my new job. Doing all the things she wished she could. Going places! Seeing the world! She was amazed at what a strong, confident woman I’ve become. Little did she know, I’d spent the previous night locked in a 150 square foot hotel room watching Pawn Stars and ordering room service. Mothers always just know what to say, don’t they?

At that I decided to take control of my situation, live up to my name, and stomp out fear.

In that moment everything changed. I navigated the streets and the avenues and the subway tunnels all on my own. I ate alone at bars in fancy restaurants, striking up conversations with strangers. I ordered an appletini because that’s what Carrie Bradshaw would do. I sat by myself in Bryant Park, drinking hot cider and watching ice skaters glide under the Christmas lights. I saw a musical on Broadway. I passed by Henry Winkler on the street, and he laughed at the face I made when I registered that he was The Fonz(!), then he waved at me and smiled. I stood in the middle of Grand Central Terminal and watched thousands of people swirl around me until I was dizzy with pure joy. I had a fall fling with New York City.

I had a beautiful, magical, so unreal, one-week fling with New York City – my greatest adventure yet. And it almost didn’t happen.

What adventures have you allowed your fear or uncertainty to steal from you? (There’s still time!) What great adventures have you had that were nearly missed because you were afraid?