I have always wanted to go to New York City. But I was also terrified to go to New York City. As I packed my bags and wrestled with sleep, a nervous ball settled in the pit of my stomach and wouldn’t leave, like when you’ve eaten too much queso, except that’s ridiculous because there’s really no such thing as too much queso.
It would be easier to just not go.
We paid for your trip. You’re going, whether you like it or not.
Travel itself doesn’t scare me. I like flying, and the people-watcher in me loves a good airport (side note: LaGuardia is NOT a good airport. It’s the asshole of all airports.). What made me nervous was being in a huge, scary new place. I get anxious about figuring out how to get from the airport to the hotel. Cabs, Lyft, Uber, creepy guys in suits who try to lure you into a parking garage. The sometimes optimist in me who tries to always see both sides of the story turns into a hardened cynic, totally certain everyone is trying to take advantage of me. No, I do NOT want a Rolex at good price, dear sir!
But I got a cab, thanks to the blogger I met at the airport who remembered there was a magical taxi stand around the corner that no one else knew about. I made it to my hotel, met up with my friends, and exchanged hugs and squeals. It all worked out fine and no one tried to mug me.
Last year, 2014, was my first BlogHer conference. I met a lot of people I had only known online. It was fun and surreal and exciting, but I felt like the in-law at a huge family reunion, following around my friends and allowing them to introduce me to people. I left the conference happy and full and very, very tired. That 2 hour time difference from central to pacific is no joke.
But 2014 me didn’t feel like the real me.
At BlogHer ’15 my friend Angela and I came across a booth in the expo hall for a company called My Intent, displaying simple and cool washer necklaces and bracelets. Pick a word, they said, a word that you love, a word that defines you, and we’ll stamp it for you.
I chose the word REAL.
Much hemming and hawing went on over this decision, and full disclosure, it only came to me because I found myself walking behind directly someone with the phrase REAL FOOD on the back of their t-shirt and my first thought was Hey, I like food! But then my second thought was Hey! Real! That’s my word! Because if life has taught me anything, it’s be yourself, and also to always go with the second idea that pops into your head.
This year, I felt REAL. I was myself. I felt comfortable.
I felt at home. At the conference. In the city. With my people.
New York City allows you to be another person, or at least another version of yourself. In New York City I was the version of myself that didn’t hesitate to run up and hug someone I’ve only met online. I was the version who made midnight runs to Ray’s Pizza, sitting and cackling with my girlfriends about sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. I was the introvert who loved hiding in a sea of faces in Times Square. I could have sat for hours and just watched all of the amazing people passing through. Like this guy.
I’ve always strived to be real. But sometimes we need a reminder to stay true to ourselves and what we believe in. What I learned last weekend is that these women are creating some of the most important work in today’s media. I learned that I believe in so much more than I put out there. I learned that I stand for more than I vocalize, and maybe that needs to change. And I care so damn much about these people that share this little thing called blogging with me.
I’m headed to NYC for BlogHer ’15 on Thursday, and the anxiety is in full force. This year I’m not as nervous about meeting people I don’t know – I will have plenty of friends there, both online and off. No, my fears this year reside in the crowded, bustling city of New York. I’ve always dreamed of going, but I admit, I’m kinda terrified. I don’t get anxious about solo travel, except when it comes to solo “getting where I need to be.” If I can’t find someone to share with, that $50 cab ride is going to hurt.
It’s always interesting meeting someone you’ve only known online. Sometimes people’s online personas match their real life ones to a tee. I always get the feeling that when people meet me in real life for the first time, they’re disappointed that I don’t immediately match up to my online boisterousness. Here are some reasons why. (I originally wrote the following before BlogHer ’12 – which I did not attend. They still stand today.)
I’m a classic introvert and grew up dreadfully shy. I do like to be in (some) social situations (with a wingman), and I do like meeting new people, but I am trying very hard. If I approached you, it was probably very, very, nerve wracking for me to do so. But on the flip side, it means that I really wanted to meet you or talk to you. So yay for you!
A lot of people are surprised by this, because I can be quite animated and outgoing in groups of people. But I usually leave with a wicked headache from all the effort. But…
I often don’t know what to say. This usually plagues me in those situations in which I make the effort to go up and introduce myself to someone. I can get through the initial stages, you know, like “hi,” but then falter miserably after that.
Hi! I’m Leigh Ann. I really enjoyed your presentation/speech/blog!
“Oh thanks! That’s nice to hear.”
Yeah! You’re welcome! So, um…yeah….You have really pretty hair?
Inversely, I sometimes just fly off the handle and say too much. I may mommy vomit all over you about my kids or just keep talking and talking to fill the silence:
Oh, you have a cat? Me too! Two actually. I hate them. One vomits everywhere and the other one’s just an asshole. Wait, where are you going?
Twins? Oh yeah, it’s tough. But fun. Usually. Sometimes. I mean, they fight a lot, but they’re best friends. Kinda. You want to kill yourself the first 6 months, but you get used to it, especially when you don’t know any different. And man, breast feeding was rough in the beginning. Wait…is it just me, or are you backing away?
Which leads to…
I will likely tell you way too much info about something personal. Not like vagina personal (but who knows?), more like just something not meant for people who don’t know me very well.
Case in point: I usually chat with another mom during our kids’ swim lessons at the Y, when I’m not wrangling my kids or threatening to take them home. Last Tuesday she popped by to say that her son was sick, then headed to the gym. When I saw her on the way out, she asked how it went, and I unleashed a bomb of frustration on the poor woman.
Oh, terrible. There was only one instructor today, and my kids were all over the place. I have a good mind to throw in the towel and never come back.
Her eyes flitted down as she laughed nervously and gave me a polite smile. “Oh…well, uh, see you tomorrow…” It’s safe to say she walked off as fast as humanly possible. And that was when I wished I could be one of those people who just smiles and says, It was okay! That woman didn’t need or want to hear my personal grievances.
I’m very indecisive. I cannot make a snap decision to save my life. In fact, if I DID have to save my life with a snap decision? I would probably die because I would either make the wrong decision, or I would meet my demise standing there wringing my hands, grinding my teeth, emitting a deafening “Eeeeeeeeeee!” What a way to go.
Also, I like to please people. Most of my indecision comes from not wanting to make the wrong decision, i.e. the choice you don’t like. This also makes me very agreeable. So just go ahead and decide already.
I’m a people watcher. Sunglasses were made for people like me. I may be watching you right. now.
I’m terrible with names. But I will own up to it and ask you to tell me again so I can remember. Or how about you just give me your Twitter handle?
If we’ve made it to happy hour and you still haven’t ditched me for someone less annoying, know that I love wine, but I will usually choose beer. Also I will probably talk WAY too much if I have a couple of drinks in me.
When I go home, I will likely tear apart the whole event/evening/encounter, sure that I talked too much, laughed too loud, and overpowered too many conversations. It’s just what I do. But hopefully I didn’t, and you left thinking I was relatively normal, somewhat relatable, and maybe just a little bit awesome? Because I thought you were too.
If you’re headed to BlogHer ’15, come say hi! Just keep the above things in mind before you write me off as a total weirdo.
I have never considered myself an anxious person. When Rachel and Claire were in the NICU, I somehow knew that they would come out okay. When Christian and I left the girls with my sister and parents while we partied in Thackerville, OK, I didn’t feel the need to check in every hour. Actually I’m not sure I checked in at all. When a friend of mine (who admits she struggles with anxiety) told me how she couldn’t sleep the night before a business trip because she was afraid her husband would leave her son in the car while he ran into Starbucks, I said, “Oh, ha! I do that all the time.” (All the time = twice, in full view. In cold, non-suffocating temps.)
But my anxiety-free, free-range parenting style went out the window today as my children boarded a school bus with the rest of the summer camp kids and headed off for the planetarium in a nearby town – over an hour away.
So today’s activities for me consisted mostly of grinding my teeth, stress eating all the cheese, and drinking 3 massive cups of coffee (HI! I’m Leigh Ann and I literally cannot fit my eyelids over my eyeballs right now!)
I mean, what could happen with roughly 800 children (slight exaggeration, but 3 of those are mine) in a school bus with chaperones whose adulting qualifications are a hair older than the avocados in my fridge. Never mind that you’re not supposed to keep avocados in the fridge. Quit telling me how to live my life.
Car accidents. Busjackings. Sinkholes opening up in the middle of the highway. One of my kids getting lost in the museum. Rabid armadillos. You name it; I thought it.
I survived the day mostly through people telling me that my anxiety was not unwarranted – they had similar heart palpitations when their kids went on long field trips – or by my friend Cathy telling me to take a Xanax. Well, I have no Xanax, so more coffee it is! By 1pm my pulse was practically bursting through my neck, but I had done no fewer than 7 loads of laundry and petted a bald spot into the cat’s hindquarters.
I thought they were supposed to arrive back at 1:30, probably because that’s what the calendar said, so by 1:48 I was hemming and hawing over calling the camp to make sure they got back safely. I called; it went straight to voicemail. I chewed my left thumbnail off.
I finally got ahold of someone at the camp at 2:54, meaning they must have left the museum at 1:30, or they have really bad time management skills. And then I found myself explaining myself as to why I was calling her “just to check in.” I’m not sure a college kid can completely fathom the feeling of three pieces of your heart and soul being loaded onto a bus and driven to another town in a situation in which you have absolutely no control.
Maybe I need to work on some strategies for letting go. Also some coping mechanisms besides coffee because I can’t quite feel my toes, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be sleeping anytime soon.
But we’re all home together.
On Monday, after a quick trip to Target and a doctor’s appointment for three abysmally late well checks, I dropped the girls off for their first day of YMCA day camp. It felt all kinds of weird and luxurious and guilty and confusing.
Camp has been out of our price range in the past. But this year, since I’m juggling two part-time, work-from-home jobs, it was a necessity. I can take them to the YMCA for 2 hours of free daycare per day, followed up by the swimming I bribe them with in the first place, but we can only do that for so many days in a row before the thumping base from the Body Pump class mixed with the constant jackhammering from their current remodel construction makes me go cross-eyed. I could pay $24 for a day at the bouncy house and still come out ahead. But have you ever tried to work in a bouncy house, surrounded by strollers and bad top 40 music?
This year when I considered taking on more part-time work, Christian and I had a long talk about it and decided that we could make it work with a few day camps sprinkled throughout the summer, some hours at the Y daycare, and some early morning and evening hours. Summer, after all, is temporary, and come August, I’ll have three girls in school and hours of alone time during the day.
Still, these strange, guilty thoughts started clouding my head when I though about signing them up for camps.
Yes! You get a break!
But it’s summer. They’re supposed to be home with me, you know, summering and stuff. Splash pads, popsicles, etc.
How do you expect to get any work done with them home every day or taking them on various adventures? Ain’t no wifi at the splash pad.
I’m pretty sure they’ll think I abandoned them. How much is in our Saving for Therapy account?
What do you think other moms who work full time have to do? They’ll have fun! New experiences! Swimming! Field Trips! Asking someone else for snacks!
But what if their bus driver starts having acid flashbacks? Or they can’t figure out how to put their clothes back on after swimming? Or that flesh-eating bacteria that’s going around public pools!
Get a grip, woman! It’s not a flesh-eating bacteria. At most it’ll cause debilitating cramping and painful diarrhea. NBD. I can’t speak for the bus driver though.
Okay fine, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ll miss them.
And to that Christian swiftly said, “I want you to think real hard about last summer. Go back and read your blog if you have to. Then tell me you don’t think you want them to go to day camp for a week.”
Well played, husband. Well played.
Update: It’s 3:44pm. I realize I probably should have given them some kind of heads up as to what time I’ll be picking them up. Truth is, I have no idea myself. Camp closes at 6. I’m supposed to be using this time to work, but I’ve mostly been toggling back and forth between all my tasks for two different jobs and partaking in all the Facebook. And I wrote this post. You’re welcome.
Update 4:10pm. Look at how productive I’m being. Why am I itching to pick them up? IDK, I guess i’ll just work until my laptop battery runs out?
Update 5:43pm. I ended up picking them up around 5pm….after getting lost in the unfamiliar neighborhood because there were 2 addresses for the school in my phone, and of course I chose the first on, and of course it took me to a dead end. A dead end in a very nice neighborhood, “your destination is on the right” is a dirty lie, you whore phone.
Update 8:07pm. They had a great day. No acid flashbacks, that I know of. So far no diarrhea. They missed me. I missed them.
And Zoe did come back with her underwear on sideways, so it’s not like my fears were TOTALLY unfounded.
Ahoy! We just got back from a family vacation to the North Carolina coast, Beaufort to be exact. Parts of that vacation involved a sailboat, so I am qualified to say dumb things like “ahoy” now. I also worked in a few shiver me timbers when I could. It’s possible I’m that annoying person on the sailboat.
Right before we left for vacation, we were getting a checkup at our pediatrician’s office, and when she heard we were going to North Carolina, she whispered, “Did you hear about the shark attacks?”
Well NO, dear woman, I did not, but guess what I’m going to go home and google straight away?
Obviously we did not get eaten by sharks, but damned if we didn’t try by spending almost every day at the beach. The most recent attacks were about 130 miles south of us in Oak Island, but it’s still nerve wracking, especially when you pull up to the lovely lighthouse on Cape Lookout and your sister-in-law says, “Oh yeah, there are sharks in these waters.” THERE ARE SHARKS EVERYWHERE. (Side note: Thank you God, for allowing us to keep all of our limbs.)
Anyway, here are a million vacation photos, so you can feel like you were there too, not getting eaten by sharks either.
Whew! Thank you for sitting through that. I know it’s a lot. Needless to say, we miss our NC family like crazy and can’t wait to go back. Although maybe they are enjoying having their coffee and bandwidth back for themselves.
As part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I share what I’m streaming on Netflix. What should I watch next?
Let’s start here: No, I have not watched season 3 of OITNB. It came out right before we went on vacation, and I just haven’t had time. I see you, OITNB-lovers! And I will join you soon.
I have a secret love for Marvel stories, but I had never really learned that much about Daredevil.
Just a warning: this isn’t your Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. This show is gritty and violent and bloody and harsh, and I love it. I mean…
Charlie Cox is a great Matt Murdoch, even if I don’t know enough about it to say who would be a better Matt Murdoch. The supporting characters are well cast, and Vincent D’Onofrio is downright terrifying as Kingpin. Watch out for the scene with the head and the car door and all of the fluids.
Meanwhile, my kids have been reliving my childhood via Netflix in some ways. When I tell them that I used to watch “______” when I was a kid, they can’t seem to get past the “when I was a kid” part. Like what does that mean, Mom? You were never a child. Stop lying to us.
Sometimes it’s a newer version of one of my favorite shows, Inspector Gadget:
Sometimes it’s the same old version of something I loved, that I’m only now realizing how incredibly awful it was. Those of you screaming that the trailer for the new Jem movie has obliterated your childhood memories, get a grip. That show was terrible way before 2015 Hollywood got ahold of it. I still let Zoe watch it.
Now that we’ve established that I let my kids watch terrible 80s cartoons with way too much drama and way too much Rico, we can all go back to our regularly scheduled programming. What have you been watching?
We’ll be going on a trip this summer, and I’m determined to use some of that time to relax and get through a few things that have been on my reading list for ages.
I asked some of my Facebook friends what they recommended, and man, did y’all deliver. If you’re ever wondering how to get people to come out of the woodwork, ask them for book ideas. There were some great recommendations in there, so here are some of the most highly lauded ones that I have either read or plan to pick up soon. (Also known as here lies a crap load of affiliate links!)
What you recommended…
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – I just read this recently, and it blew me away. So good, and now I must read ALL THE JOJO MOYES.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – I did not enjoy The Husband’s Secret that much, but this one and her others were much more well received by people I talked to.
Frida: A Biography of Freida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera – I saw the movie years ago, and it was so, so good. It would definitely be worth going back and reading the biography.
Bettyville by George Hodgman (memoir)
What I ordered…
When I went to actually order something, I knew I wanted books that I would be less likely to abandon. I ended up going back to authors I had read and enjoyed before.
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – I loved Me Before You so much, I am really looking forward to reading another Jojo Moyes book. I haven’t heard anything negative about any of her novels.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – Like I said above, I didn’t enjoy The Husband’s Secret that much (I mean I didn’t dislike it; I just didn’t like any of the characters), but several people told me it was their least favorite. What Alice Forgot seems to be one of her most recommended.
So let’s see if I make through at least one of these this summer!
What are YOU reading?
A year ago I held a crying Claire in her bed as she sobbed that she would miss her kindergarten teacher. That first year of school had been a big change for my girls. After being home with me for their first 5 years, only in twice-a-week preschool the last two, going to kindergarten all day, every day proved to be a shock to the system. Claire complained almost daily that kindergarten was “so long for mommies and daddies to come back.” Some days it was. Some days it didn’t seem long enough. But any way you dice it, 7:45 is damn early to start a school day.
That last day of kindergarten consisted of a fun-filled trip to the park and a pizza party. I tried to go, but knowing it was the last day I could run errands with the ease of just one child with me, I was late and arrived just as they were packing up to walk back to school. I scrawled my name on the pink sign out sheet to take them home and helped Claire gather her things.
“Don’t forget to tell Mrs. B. goodbye,” I reminded.
Every fiber of my being still aches at the image of my girl throwing her arms around her teacher’s waist, Mrs. B. kissing her gently on the forehead and whispering, “I love you,” as if they shared a special secret before parting and wishing us a good summer. In that fleeting moment I saw it: the raw and tender love that develops between a teacher and a child through 9 months of daily interaction.
I’ve been weepy all week at the thought of yet another school year ending. Part of it is true fear of how I’m going to keep my wits and my jobs through a mostly unstructured summer. But as my kids grow older, my fear of them lessens. Getting out of the house isn’t the struggle it once was, and they can be quelled with the power of electronics when I really need some quiet work time.
No, my fear now lies simply in that they are in fact growing older, saying goodbye to another set of beloved teachers, and readying themselves for a summer of fun that will eventually lead to a whole new school year. Second grade. They may as well be moving out.
I find myself clinging to these children fiercely. The games they make up, the pictures they draw. I sneak by, careful not to let them see me listening to them playing with their doll house, and I’m secretly relieved when they choose Octonauts over Monster High. Sing me a song, I urge them. Stay little, I plead.
“I have to keep growing,” Zoe said once, when I asked her to please stay four forever. “I can’t stop it, Mommy.”
A while back Christian and I decided we wanted a picnic table for our back patio, and Christian decided he was going to be the one to build this picnic table for our back patio. I pinned all kinds of cute ideas, and he started looking up instructions. And I got a little nervous. And then he went to Lowe’s to get an air filter and came back with $60 worth of lumber.
“So we’re starting this, like now, I guess?”
It’s not that I don’t trust his DIY abilities per se (heavy on the per se). It’s just that Christian tends to jump into things before we’re completely ready. I like to have all of the things planned out, which is also why I am likely to never get started on anything. I guess what I’m saying is, we make a good team.
But our problem is that as much as we want a project to be done, we tend to fail in the actual doing of the project. We’re a lazy people. We get tripped up by finishing touches. Case in point, the fireplace I told you we started ripping apart two years ago, only to leave you hanging, because we left that poor fireplace hanging for what seemed like an eternity. So UPDATE, in case you were anxiously awaiting one, the fireplace has been 86% completed, save some insignificant details like moulding and paint touch ups and sealant.
But this time around he was relentless. Maybe it was the wood and the saw and the feeling he was making something out of nothing with his big, strong man-hands. Maybe it was the pollen in the spring air giving him hallucinations. We’ll never know. Just know that within days, we had gone from a pile of lumber and gumption to a near-completed table.
Then a competed table, at which we could actually eat.
In order to encourage this momentum and discourage our inherent laziness gene, I went out and bought some paint and primer, brushes, and drop cloths. We were going to get this damn thing finished, even if it killed us. Now would it actually kill us? We’ve never truly finished a project before, so it’s anyone’s guess.
And then it rained in Austin and the rest of Texas for approximately 4 weeks straight. I’m not even kidding.
So there was this.
Sad, lonely, unfinished table.
So I guess the moral of the story is if your last name is Torres, specifically a part of this clan of Torreses, don’t get the silly idea that you can actually finish a project in due time. If your own laziness doesn’t get in the way, good ol’ Mother Nature is happy to step in.
(I’m sure we would’ve found a way to drag this puppy out ourselves anyway.)
Stay tuned! We WILL finish this!