Category Archives: life

there must be social commentary in this workout

I went to ConBody this morning.  It’s a bootcamp workout on the Lower East Side, with a well documented story and theme around…convicts. Or ex-cons, to be exact.  The space isn’t a workout room, but a jail cell, complete with a cell door.  The wall features a mural of chain link and figures in hoodies.  The logo is a clock with barbed wire on it. The hashtag is #dothetime.  The branding is genius, and has landed a ton of press.

What’s more genius is that this is a business that actually does help to get convicted felons back in the employment market.  It makes their prison time an asset, not a detriment, in their career as physical fitness instructors. It won’t get them back all their rights, but at least it gets them jobs.  The founder, Coss Marte, from everything I have read, seems a genuinely nice guy, from a family committed to social good: his brother Christopher is running for district councilman in New York on a strong community service platform (Their mom was handing out his election pamphlets after she did the class with us.  AWWWW)

Incarceration is a serious problem in this country: the US locks up more people per capita than any other country.  Two million people are estimated jailed in this country, or just under 1% of all the adults in America.

pie2017[1]

Incarceration has been called “the new Jim Crow“: a race-biased system that perpetuates the caste system in America.  In her book on this topic, Michelle Alexander argues that incarceration is a method to keep black Americans “in their place”, a seemingly fair, equal and just system that instead is skewed towards POCs.  Not only does prison take away the freedom of a felon temporarily, but it is a permanent black mark that prevents that individual from fully exercising his rights in the future.  He may not be able to vote.  He may not be readily hired to work, resulting in economic disadvantage.

The prison system in America is known to be profitable and corrupt.  Not only do we have the for-profit corporation in a popular Netflix series, but even Margaret Atwood has written  satire about prison economics Now we may be recognizing the justice system as the new vehicle for racial sublimation.

So it is with no small amount of social irony that I, a middle class white woman, went off to do a bootcamp workout, in a room full of other middle class white people.  And it was a fine workout.  It was a bootcamp workout.  It was a hard bodyweight bootcamp workout.  And I appreciate and respect that.  I especially appreciate and respect that Coss Marte has managed to wrap up an equipment-free bodyweight bootcamp workout into a brand package that manages to be tough love and inspirational, threatening in a safe way.  He’s managed to make prison into a weight loss and transformation narrative that sells his service product for him.  He doesn’t need to buy thousand dollar bikes when he has that story to tell.

Now, ConBody has been extended into its own space at the ridiculously named Saks Fifth Avenue Wellery.  That is an even more glaring social irony.  From everything I have ever read about that neighborhood and that store, the women at the Saks location must make the girls down at the LES space I went to look like street punks.  I would bet that if they saw a ConBody instructor outside the space in a hoodie, the same UES women would clutch their pearls and eye him warily, perpetuating the same criminal stereotype bias.  Yet there’s the workout, and the same ex-cons leading it, in a space that also houses a fucking salt cave.  Is that a bright spot in the dark horrors of prejudice in America?  Or is it just a ridiculous juxtaposition?

Either way.  My quads are tired.  A 7am workout followed by a stressful day of chasing clients around their own offices is exhausting.  I’ve taken my magnesium and now I’m going to go handwrite in my private journal until I fall asleep.

And I would like to add that I did the time and then thought about rewarding myself for my “incarceration workout” with a cup of butter coffee with maca in it.  Then I realized how ridiculous I was being even thinking that sentence and got the hell out of the Lower East Side before I could spend the $7.50.  There’s being a spoiled white girl doing a jail themed workout, and then there’s going out after it to blow the same amount of money that some of my fellow New Yorkers probably have for food for the entire day on a specialty drink, and that was just one upper middle class wellness luxury item too far.

 

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the year of creativity

I have a very full life.  A very good life, many would say: a family, a career, a community, friends, all of the things that go into being a well-adjusted adult.  At least, that’s what it looks like in writing, on social, on “paper” and pixels.  It isn’t Instagram pretty, but my life is solidly built.  I’ve had a mix of opportunity and good luck that I’ve been able to parlay into a generally awesome existence.  I do not need my life to be universally aesthetically appealing, because it was built for me.

That’s why it sounds precious and ungrateful to say that this isn’t enough.  To say I’m not happy, all the time, given my circumstances, makes me feel like I am a whiny Gen Y yuppie, aka a GYPSY.

There is a critic that lives in all of us that says we are not entitled to say that if our lives are good.  This voice tells me that because I have the basics of the Western world: love, safety, shelter, food, that should be enough.  Furthermore, American work ethic tells me that if the life I have built isn’t everything I want, that’s my fault for not working hard enough.

I told myself that for years, that I had no reason to be unhappy because I had the potential to have everything.  I could lose weight to be beautiful, I could work harder to be wealthier.  Everything that could make me happier was possible if I was only willing to work for it.  If I wasn’t willing to work for it, then that was why I wasn’t happy.

I told myself for years that if only I was more goal oriented, if only I would focus, Jillian, focus, then everything would improve and I would be happier.  The awesome life I built would feel complete.

Then somewhere around last year, I realized that the goals I had been working towards had absolutely dick-all to do with being a happy, fulfilled person.  If I’m not entirely happy in my own my life (outside of my relationships with my core people), it has jack shit to do with what I can afford or what I weigh.  Instead, it has to do with the way I am treating my own brain, and the little box I am trying to shove it into.

And that was the revelation.  It isn’t that I’m unhappy because I haven’t worked hard enough to earn everything I want.  It’s that I didn’t want the right things to begin with.  Fuck being thinner – my husband loves me the way I am and only wants me thinner if it gives me the confidence to wear sluttier clothes.  Fuck more money – money is security to me, and the ability to Travel the World.  It can make a big difference in happiness, but it isn’t everything I want.  Fuck…oh, wait, professional success is still important, so maybe I should not say “fuck you Corporate America” just yet.

Why is it though that professional success is still important, especially when divorced from financial motivation?  This is simply because I actually really like my career when it’s challenging and I’m getting to do the things I’m best at.  When I’m poking around in data and writing up ideas for a media plan and pulling together slides on Consistent Messaging From First To Last Touch (note to self, that’s a professional article idea), then I’m happy.

So what is it missing in the rest of my life that is making me less than happy all the time?  How can I light my brain up more to make that happiness more consistent and less fleeting…and maybe, in the course of things, reinforce the part of my brain that comes up with good ideas at work?  (Or at least make myself more fulfilled so I feel more balanced at work)

I suspect the answer may be creativity.

I am a very pragmatic person.  I am not a creative person.  How am I going to make this work?  I will write that in tomorrow’s post.

 

dreaming of the edge of the world

Douglas Coupland wrote, in Shampoo Planet, that home is where you dream, that it’s part of your brain’s hard drive.  That we’re all hard wired for our dreams to be set at home.

I’m not terribly sure where I dream these days.  Many days my dreams do exactly what they should do, and parse through the mundane things that have happened to me each day.  Some days, they are pop culture references – TV, movies, books.  And then other days, I dream of my own home, of that corner of British Columbia I grew up in, took for granted and left.  I dream of Victoria.

With no close family left in BC, I’m unlikely to return, even for a vacation, because I know I’ll always prioritize the rest of the world over returning to that corner of it I know by heart.  And yet, every day, I think of random places and it catches my breath in sadness.  I’ll  be caught by a random memory of Oak Bay in summer, or I’ll look at a street in Manhattan and see the West End.  It is forever and ever part of my permanent memory, my own hard drive.

For the past year, since I said goodbye the last time, since I wept my way back across Canada on a red-eye flight back through Toronto last November, I have been trying to push back those memories and focus on my actual present in Brooklyn.  I love Brooklyn, after all – I love New York the way I loved Vancouver.  This is the most Vancouvery place I could have settled with my family, after all, with its hippie food co-ops, overpriced real estate, bike lanes and beaches.  New York City is ten times the size of Vancouver and yet I get it because I lived there.  And I chose to be here, and I work every day to stay here and I love it here.  And so, rather than focus on the past, I chose to push it away.  I thought that would be the smart thing to do.

The problem with the past is that it won’t be pushed away.  It’s been half a lifetime since I lived on the Island, a dozen years since I left Vancouver, and yet I still dream of home.  It’s taken me the last twenty years to realize that not everyone feels homesickness like I do, and not everyone has the emotional attachment that those of us born in the Pacific Northwest do to our homeland.  Maybe I should be celebrating that and shining that light into my own memories instead of drawing the curtain on them. Maybe I should choose to follow those memories for a few minutes each day – not enough to be lost in nostalgia, but enough to accept the sorrow and the joy that comes from spending the first twenty years of my life in a lost English colony on the edge of the world.

And so, I’ve chosen to spend a few minutes memorializing my own memories of Victoria.  The neighborhoods and streets are still there, and many are actually protected by heritage and building laws.  The Victoria in my memory is frozen in time between 1988 and 1998, in an era before the Internet had pictures, a time between when the natural resource industries crashed and the tech industry started, yet it doesn’t look much different than the city I said goodbye to in 2015.  There will never be skyscrapers in Victoria the way there are in Vancouver…but there will be condominium developments, and there will be growth, and there will be big changes yet to come.  When I remember places – a half-finished Songhees walkway, Vic West of abandoned industrial zones, an Oak Bay Marina with Sealand of the Pacific (yes, of Blackfish fame) – they are memories of places that no longer exist except in memory.

I have pushed back memory because I am afraid of homesickness, of the addiction of nostalgia and the past.  These are terrible temptations in stressful times.  I have questioned many times since I left the Island if my desire to go home was pure homesickness or just a longing to return to a time that was less complicated.  After all, wouldn’t everyone like to have the responsibilities of their nineteen year old self for a few days instead of the responsibilities of their thirty-eight year old adult self?  So it is with the fear of addiction that I risk reliving memories of British Columbia and choose to describe them.

So.  I remember Oak Bay, Victoria, the Island.  I remember Vancouver, the Lower Mainland.  I will allow myself to revisit the place I know by heart.  I will trust myself to accept the strange mix of loss and comfort that is growing up someplace that borders on the unreal in sheer beauty, and then having chosen to leave it, as every small-to-medium town kid does, to See the World.  After all, being able to call one single place home means that, as long as I live elsewhere, I am forever on a journey.

When I am self-pitying, that is when I tell myself I’m living in exile Off Island.

When I am hopeful, that is when I can see that journey as being a lifetime of adventure.

And living in Brooklyn, that is exactly the adventure I dreamed of as a teenager in Victoria. I do not need to convince myself of the sheer awesomeness of my present, I just need to come to terms with the contrast it has with my past.

 

brunch date, brooklyn style

Paul and I spent today on a Brunch Date!  We dropped Ben off at his class at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and then, realizing we still had two hours until we had to pick him up, kind of looked at each other

“What do you want to do?” my husband asked me.
“Well, it depends,” I said. “How much biking do you want to do?” I’m back in Physical Training mode, after all – trying to get myself back to the physical shape I was in when I first got sick in June. Therefore, I’m prioritizing more challenging physical activity this week to start rebuilding my endurance, so I can resume my personal training sessions without collapsing halfway through. But I also don’t want Paul to have to wear himself out just because I’m pushing myself more these days.

Fortunately that wasn’t a concern for Paul. “I’m fine,” he told me. “I’ll bike as far as you want to go.”

I smiled. “Then lets go to Smorgasburg! It’s only 4.3 miles away! I checked!”

“Isn’t Smorgasburg coming to Prospect Park on Sundays now though?” Paul asked.

“Yeah, it is,” I replied. “But I think we should go to the Williamsburg location. We will get there right when it opens at 11. It won’t get crowded that early because all the hipsters in Williamsburg wake up late from having been out last night. Whereas the Prospect Park one is going to be mobbed as soon as it opens at 11am tomorrow with families whose kids all woke up at the ass crack of dawn on a Sunday and announced they were bored.”

Paul nodded. “I see the logic here,” he said. “Let’s go. Lead the way.” So I jumped on my bike, and did so, leading the way up Classon to the Navy Yards, and then up the bike path to East River Park. We arrived at 10:52, with just enough time to use the reasonably clean port-a-potties and the conveniently placed hand washing stations before attacking the food vendors.

I had read up before heading out to Smorgasburg this year. The event has, after all, only become larger and even more of a Crazy Food-Off since we first visited it in 2012. I found a good recent Refinery29 article that covered it pretty well and helped me prioritize which stands to hit. (Hint: Not the Ramen Burger…and not just because it had a ridiculous line, ten minutes after it opened)

We wandered up and down to see this year’s lineup first. There were no lines at ANY of the stands because Smorgasburg had just opened, and people were still coming in, so we felt secure taking a few extra minutes to survey the offerings before jumping into brunch. At the recommendation of the R29 article, I suggested starting with the Imperial Egg: a Scotch Egg vendor. What is a Scotch Egg, you ask? It’s an egg, wrapped in meat, and deep fried, and it is AWESOME.

Scotch Egg from The Imperial Egg

This was a lamb merguez style meat coating. The egg was cut in half, covered in a yogurt sauce, and then we added sriracha at the recommendation of the chef. It was amazing at a half-portion each. The egg yolk and yogurt sauce and sriacha all mixed to drip onto the arugula, which was a great counterpoint to the rich layers of the scotch egg.

Then we moved on to Duck Season, again, based on recommendations from the Interwebs…but also because how could anyone resist a blatant Looney Tunes reference?

We opted for their specialty: the Duck Confit, a perfectly cooked duck leg with red onion marmalade. This isn’t the sort of thing that can be easily split, so Paul and I took turns taking bites of it. It was the first duck confit I’ve ever had that wasn’t too salty, but still managed to be crispy on the outside, while being tender and juicy on the inside. I was so interested in eating it, I forgot to take a photo until it looked like this:

post duck season

So here’s a photo I went back and took of the demo model:

duck duck duck

Eating the confit, sitting on a concrete wall, we both discussed how, if no one sets up a food stall called Rabbit Season for 2016, we will be SERIOUSLY disappointed.

We then followed the sound of “Welcome To The Jungle” next door, to Bon Chovie, a seafood and rock and roll themed stall, where I ordered the fried anchovies, “Jersey style” (which I totally didn’t think was a thing.) The menu also included a salmon burger, and a chef that I suspect, based on his Seahawks hat, probably brought that Seattle style. The anchovies were, as promised, head and tail on, deep fried, and served with smoked paprika sauce:

seal food

Yes, these kind of small fish are considered seal food where I come from, but the harbor seal is my spirit animal. I shared two with Paul, after which he declared them “too fishy”, even with lemon squeezed on them.

Since both of us were rapidly approaching Food Overload by then, we decided to hit one more stall. We looked somewhat longingly at the short ribs at Carnal. Paul remarked, “I know I can get fries anywhere, but those giant cones of fries look really good

“You are allowed to choose your own food, my love,” I pointed out. “You do not have to let your wife pick ALL the foods.”

“I know,” he told me, “but wasn’t there one more you wanted to try?”

Yes. Yes there was. The MofonGO, a dish of plantains with a chicken curry stew on top.

MOFONGO!

I love plantains. They’re super versatile, and work with both sweet and savory dishes. My current list of Things I Want To Cook includes this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo. And mofongo seemed like the sort of dish I could easily modify for our own meals at home.

We settled in to eat it while sitting on the edge of the East River, watching tourists take selfies, and talking about how we could NEVER TELL BEN about going to Smorgasburg, because he would be no end of annoyed with us. Telling our son that we left him to engage in child labor harvesting vegetables at the botanical gardens while we ran off to eat duck confit and deep fried fish would not sit well with him.

As it was, by the end of the mofongo, we were both definitely full, and it was time to bike back down to Prospect Heights. After all, as fun as it is riding our bikes around Williamsburg and pretending to be the sort of people who to go Smorgasburg, we are usually a little family who do everything together. So we reversed direction back down the bike path, and after some back and forth with Google Maps, managed to get to the Botanical Gardens just in time to retrieve Ben from his gardening class.

I collected Ben at the Children’s Farm, and promptly made the mistake of asking him, “how was your class?”

“Terrible. I only got five beans!”

I looked in his bag, and sure enough, there were five yellow wax beans. Ben continued, “I picked twenty of them, but I had to give them all away because other kids didn’t pick any!”

I sighed internally. “That’s OK, my love. I’m proud of you for sharing. I’m actually prouder of you for sharing that I would be of you for bringing all the beans out with you.”

“But I picked, like, twenty beans and I only got to keep a few!”

Thankfully, it was time after that to take Ben to his next stop: a Lego and Pokemon themed birthday party a half mile away. We loaded ourselves back onto our bikes and headed back up the hill, up to Eastern Parkway, past Grand Army Plaza, and onto the Bergen Street bike path to Brickz 4 Kidz. Ben was dropped off, happy with his people, and seemingly over the horrible indignity of having to pick beans only to have to give them away to other children. (Clearly, our son does not agree with communism.)

Paul and I then headed down into the Slope to engage on our last Brooklyn Food Stereotype activity: picking up our CSA from Fishkill Farms, along with our meat share from McEnroe Farms. Lately, the shares have been sizeable, and Paul has had to bike uphill with an extra twenty pounds of produce strapped to his back. It’s still less than the seventy pounds of Ben and trailer bike he used to haul though, so he has done it cheerfully. This week was no exception, as we collected our vegetables, fruit, and grass-fed cow. And to Paul’s credit, even after biking almost twelve miles at that point, he still steadily paced up the hill, back up from 5th Avenue to Prospect Park West, and finally, back around Grand Army plaza to home.

When I got home, I immediately plugged the routes into MapMyFitness, just so I could see how far we rode…and realized, I had totally burned off all the deep fried food we’d eaten at Smorgasburg. Here’s the map showing our route

Now, sitting on the couch, I realize I a extra tired from the effort. Like, really tired, exhausted tired, the sort of exhausted I used to have to bike a lot further to get to. Getting back to bike commuting before the season ends will be tough: today’s 13 miles was done in chunks, and I’m not sure I can do ten miles in less than an hour anytime soon. But if I don’t start now, I definitely won’t be able to return to that level of physical fitness, so I may as well go for it, and see what I can achieve before winter. And if, in the process, I get to go for bike rides and brunch outings with my husband, so much the better.Here’s the map:

so this whole “blog” thing…

I used to be very comfortable sharing my story with the world, in a form of a blog.  After all, my life ten years ago was the same story as everyone around me: a constant stream of Age-Appropriate Adventures that made for outstanding blogging material.  I surfed through a couple dozen old entries earlier this week, for very little reason at all, and realized that I had a lot to work with, all of it age-appropriate enough to be almost anonymous.

Then I became a wife, mother, career person.  Now I can add “community leader” to that through my Scout involvement.  And my blog started to wither from neglect.  I have written less in the last two years than I used to in a month.

I realize, re-reading all those entries, that I have let Facebook updates and Twitter quips replace my blog entries.  As a result, I really miss writing about my experience in the world.  I haven’t decided whether I am comfortable sharing everything, but I do miss chronicling it.  Part of the appeal of short form social media is that it is subtle and superficial, but I miss long form writing.  And I miss having pages of memories to read through when I feel like visiting my past.

So maybe there is something here, something I should be bringing back from the past.  There is something about the challenge of describing an experience, of selecting the right words, the right language, that I really liked.  And now I wonder if I let it go because I wasn’t quite sure about what to say or what context to say it in: for some time, I have been uncertain about my identity and about what words to describe myself with.  I think I was unable to properly contextualize experience without understanding the perspective I was writing about it from.

Now, I’m feeling more secure about who I am, and about how everything I’ve experienced and everything I’ve done, all adds up to, well, me.  I am just sometimes very uncertain about describing all those things because I don’t want to show every angle of me to anyone who can access the Interwebs.  It is the threat of saying too much, of saying something wrong, of saying something inappropriate.  The Internet is a different place than it was in 2000 when I started writing consistently on Livejournal, and yet, I have left all those entries up because they are my past.

It is the line in “Losing My Religion”: oh no I said too much, I haven’t said enough.

It is seeing the gap in entries for the past five years, the occasional superficial post, concentrated at a level so generic as to be innocuous, and comparing that against the rich tapestry of memories (some happy, some sad, some joyful, some shameful) that I have for the decade before.

Perhaps this habit of writing and chronicling should come back.  Perhaps I just need more confidence that I will not be judged or consequenced for it.

Leaving home as the price of growth

Four months ago, I changed agencies. I left Mindshare, and moved twenty blocks north to a different company, Merkle. Circumstances were changing at Mindshare, in a way no-one on my team, or at the agency, could control, and I wasn’t sure there was going to be a place for me when the dust settled. I chose to instead go on to a new adventure, at a new agency, one with a heavier focus on data, on ad tech, an agency who focuses on the kind of direct response marketing I have been doing for my entire professional career.

I hadn’t had any significant contact with my Mindshare team since leaving in August, beyond a few short messages in email or LinkedIn, until Friday. That was when the team held a reunion. We were a fairly tight-knit account team, all 100% assigned to work on the same client, all with a strong team spirit as a result. So when a dozen of us met up at a bar downtown, it was hugs and squeals and happiness all around. Many of my old teammates have been reassigned to new accounts at our old agency; some, like me, took it as an impetus to leave Mindshare and move on for new experiences at other agencies.

I hadn’t realized, until that reunion, how much I missed my old team. I have been so focused on this new job for the past four months, on learning my team, the client, the work, that I hadn’t thought much about the job I’d left behind. But being there, with my people, for almost five hours on a Friday, brought me more joy than I had expected. I missed them so much, for so many reasons, and there they were: the people who made coming to work a joy and a pleasure for almost three years.

Saturday, I woke up, and immediately thought, “I want to go home”. Because I do. I want to be able to go back to my old job. The problem is that my old job, and my team, do not exist anymore. The band has broken up, everyone has moved on. This is why I moved on, too, to an agency where my particular skillset would be of more use, and where I believed I would be able to learn so much more than I could have had I stayed. It isn’t that I rationally want to go back to doing the work I did a year ago, but rather, that I had such an emotional attachment to that job that I am thinking of it as a sort of “home” that I had to leave.

I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple days, the idea of “leaving home”. And I realized I left so I could continue to grow professionally. I left because I wanted to learn more and do more. I left because I wanted to learn to lead in a different context, and because I wanted to learn to work on different accounts. I left for a dozen perfectly good professional reasons, all of which have been proven as I’ve stretched to fit the new role I’ve taken over.

The reason this resonates so much with me is because it isn’t the first time I’ve left home: I left British Columbia a decade ago and have been writing about how much I miss it ever since. I also knew, at the time, that I needed to leave if I ever wanted to move forward with a real, legitimate career path in the agency world. I knew I needed to move to Los Angeles so I could continue to grow as a person. (It just happened that I also needed to leave so I could find my husband less than two years later, but that’s besides the point). I had to leave Vancouver so I could grow up.

A decade later, I am a grown-up, but I’m still growing as a person. I’m still learning things, both big and small. And this week, what I’ve learned is that throughout life, one creates new new places called “home”. And leaving the place you call “home” is sometimes the price you pay to be able to grow.

So I’ve had the opportunity to grow in the last four months, and for that, I’m grateful. And I can hope that someday, I have another team like the one I had at Mindshare. And in the meantime, I can keep leveraging the opportunity for personal and professional growth, and make myself better at what I do.

EDIT: Hilariously enough, WordPress found a few “related posts” below from nine years ago when I left Tribal/DDB to move over to IMS. Also the decision I had to make at the time to move forward, back when I was a senior associate moving on up to manager. Even though it has literally required therapy to recover from IMS, that job made my career.

A decade is everything and nothing

It’s weird being back on the Westside, back in the 310. I am retracing the same streets and paths that I did a decade ago, and it’s strange. It’s a decade since I lived here, ten years since I moved from Vancouver, and it feels like forever and yet not long enough. I’ve had so much happen that it feels like longer than a decade, and yet, I think, how can my life have changed this much in ten years?

Stranger still is how little L.A. has changed. I’m used to the warp-speed gentrification of Brooklyn, and the unrecognizable change of Vancouver. Vancouver has changed twice as much in a decade as Los Angeles has. And that’s what makes it stranger, because when I go home to BC, I have to accept that time has passed. I’m here, and it’s like driving through my own memories, because so much is exactly the same. I drive through Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, and it’s like no time has passed at all. Except for the fact that I am no longer twenty-six, that is.

Still, I am amazed how much has changed in my life in the last decade. I came to the States alone from Vancouver in 2004, with literally only what I could cram into a Saturn coupe and a few hundred dollars in savings. Ten years later, I come to California on business trips from Brooklyn, where my husband and son are waiting for me in a co-op we actually own.

Ten years ago, I was a party girl rampaging West L.A., trying to handle my own darkness and my own fear. My blog entries from a decade ago tell how I was using a string of dates and drunken nights out to distract from my own sadness and despair over my father’s first stroke. I was trying to quell my own insecurities and fears, my fear of failure, my fear of loneliness, all of it, in a haze of glitter and parties and cocktails. It would be two years until met my husband at Bar Sinister, and yet, given how many Saturday’s I spent at Miss Kitty’s, it’s surprising I didn’t run into him sooner.

The gap between then and now seems so far, even though my hotel tonight is literally a half-mile away from where I lived in Venice. It is Paul and Ben and our life as a family. It is my career, and the growth from an entry level job I couldn’t handle, to a leadership job I do well. It is the distance from L.A. To Brooklyn, and the realization of how much I love Brooklyn (Which I do. I love Brooklyn like I loved Vancouver.). It is going from throwing crazy house parties to being a community leader throwing camp weekends. It is the difference between twenty-six and thirty-six.

I sit here, and I wish I had had more faith ten years ago that all these amazing things were going to happen to me. I don’t wish I had been able to see the future, just that I had believed that it would be a good future a little more. I believe most people get less naive and more cynical with age. I’m the other way around: I’ve become less cynical.

Still, being back, I do want to think a little more about the girl I was when I lived here. About all the things I ran from, or tried to forget. About all the mistakes I knew I was making. And then I need to credit myself with more accomplishments made in the last decade.

I go home in the morning, back to my men. It’s time to return to being thirty-six in the 718.