Archive | December, 2014

2014 Wrap-Up

2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008   As always, inspired by the always inspiring Sundry.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? I had a kid start high school, first grade, and preschool, all on the same day. I was chosen to attend a professional conference. OOOH – I rode in a taxi! And then later that trip, hailed one myself. I went through a toll booth. I used valet parking. I cried at work (a lot), but for the first time, it was out of love for the folks I work with. I saw a launch, and felt the ground shake. I got to give my husband a glimpse into the super cool world of what I do.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? As awesome as 2014 was, there was a lot that I planned to do that just didn’t happen. I think I shot too high and then pushed too far, and something had to give. I have plans for 2015, but nothing seriously concrete: 2015 is just the Year of Me.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? MY SISTER DID! And y’all, I had never understood the love for a niece or a nephew, but WHEW BUDDY is that stuff made of steel! (Also, look at this picture of her and her husband WHILE SHE IS HAVING HER C-SECTION. Are they not so gorgeous that you want to hate them?) Baby Mac is just THE CUTEST baby and I’m so glad he’s with us.

4. Did anyone close to you die? I always hate this question, because I feel like I should know this off the top of my head. I attended no funerals, although I had several friends pass.

5. What countries did you visit? None outside of the contiguous USofA, but I did travel quite a bit this year! I’d like to continue that trend. Turns out, I really kind of like it! (Except for a fantastic beach vacation, it was all work travel, which – for whatever reason – I find WAY less stressful.)

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Pardon me for further implanting the earworm that hijacked so many of us in 2014, but I wish I could have – in the immortal words of Queen Elsa – Let it go a bit more this year. It’s only taken 35 years, but I’m starting to loosen my grip on things and let others take control. (Starting to. But I plan to work on that this year.)

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? May 8th, Mac joined us. June 7th, Vinnie celebrated his first year on Earth. Mid-July, we took a group of interns for an overnight trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. (And got them all back, virtually unscathed!) August began a very rough season at work, a time of downsizing and uncertainty. Halloween, when I kicked off a program review with a table full of fully-dressed characters, chaired by the Wicked Witch and a reluctant Cat in the Hat. December 5th, when Orion launched on top of a Delta Heavy and we realized that we really are doing this thing.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? PARENTING VINNIE. OH MY GOD, Y’ALL. Okay, look. He is a SWEET kid. No question. Gigantic heart. But EVERYTHING. Everything about him is gigantic. He’s larger than life. He tests boundaries just because. He does things that are confounding and frustrating and hilarious and it’s EXHAUSTING. You cannot leave him alone, not even to pee. It is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. (And he’s a HAPPY baby. I cannot imagine this with an unhappy baby.) I love him to the moon and back, but MY LORD, KID. YOU MAKE MOMMA SO TIRED.

9. What was your biggest failure? School, or my lack thereof. My one semester off to have a baby turned into two semesters and then three, and now I just need to do it. God, I don’t want to. Like, at all. I just want some accredited college to gift me a Bachelor’s Degree of Hard Knocks and let’s call it a day. But I need to. I know that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Actually, this year (FRANTICALLY KNOCKING ON ALL WOODEN THINGS) was not so bad. We had the basics, usually centering around allergies, but nothing awful here in Chez Brown-Comer. The worst thing I think I dealt with was/is Vinnie’s eczema. Poor baby – it is SUCH an awful thing. (It doesn’t phase him in the slightest, but it does give him the look of a leper.)

11. What was the best thing you bought? So incredibly disappointing, but – a baby gate. We bought and installed a permanent gate that blocks the kitchen off from the rest of the house. THIS HAS MADE OUR LIVES SO MUCH BETTER. The dogs have access to a doggie door from the kitchen, so we can lock them in the linoleum area at night, saving our couches and living room from (even more) hair, mud, fur, blood, squirrel carcasses, what have you. Not only that, but it helps to corral DangerMouse.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? So I’ve been remiss to discuss this because 1) it’s not my story to tell and 2) survivor’s guilt, but you know? Lemme tell you about Hugo. If we’re Facebook friends or Twitter friends, you already know about Hugo. Hugo and Vinnie were born two days apart, and on Vinnie’s first birthday, Hugo’s mom took him to the doctor because of an abnormality. Then it became a tumor. Then it was diagnosed as a very rare pediatric cancer. With a marginally small chance of survival. Hugo’s mom, Marianne, has been the most courageous, strong, honest, dynamic and graceful mothers I’ve ever witnessed in the face of all of this. She has navigated difficult medical terrain and god, let’s not even mention the emotional stress, and .. I just feel like none of this does her justice. It’s been a stark reveal of the world of pediatric cancer that Marianne and I would late-night tweet eachother during midnight feeding sessions when the boys were babies, and now she often sleeps in a hospital room, next to Hugo’s crib. But you know? He’s done it. He’s beaten the odds, and the tumor was found dead. He’s finishing up his final few rounds of chemo – but blessedly spending the holiday home with his family – and soon we’ll all be able to look back and say, “We knew he was a miracle from the beginning.” #GoHugo

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Every year, the answer to this is politics-based, and this year would be no different. The recent events in New York and Ferguson, alongside the tragic loss of Leelah Alcorn, have brought to light that we can’t remain silent anymore. This sums it up nicely for me, and I have a year to dig my heels in and make it happen.

14. Where did most of your money go? The usual – daycare, mortgage, cars.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Okay, so. When I started in the space business back in 2007, there was a guy that REALLY got under my skin. A lot. But he was a manager, and I was not, so I knew my pecking order. We butted heads – a LOT. When I left the company and then subsequently came back, I saw him randomly in a parking lot, and was surprised at how cordial he was. Well, it’s now been seven years of us working together. We spend a lot of time working together now. I can’t speak for him, obviously, but I AM GONNA TRY. In our weekly program review, he surprised me with a recognition event, where we named some folks on the program who were named Space Flight Awareness Honorees. Well, I was one of them! I was SO blown away. And when I went up to get my certificate, he got choked up. As did I. It just .. it was a really, really nice memory for me. (And going to see the launch was awesome too!)

16. What song will always remind you of 2014? “All About that Bass”

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercising. I am THE WORST at making time for myself.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Grinding my teeth. Um, it turns out that your teeth don’t hold up well to that over time.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Wanna hear how stupid we were? We stayed up, on Christmas Eve, WATCHING THE INTERNSHIP FROM START TO FINISH BEFORE WE EVER STARTED GETTING STUFF DONE. Yes, that horrible movie with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. (It was not THAT bad, but we got to bed around midnight as a result.)

21. Did you fall in love in 2014? Why? What did you hear? Wasn’t me.

22. What was your favorite TV program? We don’t have many shows that we watch religiously, but a couple of them are The Blacklist (my husband looks remarkably like James Spader), Hannibal, Banshee, True Detective, and Downton Abbey.

23. This question has been deleted (2010). 

24. What was the best book you read? So, I’ve just come to accept that I don’t read books. I just don’t. I read – a LOT – but it’s all internet stuff, journalism and news stories or space industry gobbledegook, never a hardcover fiction book. I did listen to Gaiman’s American Gods which was a fantastic audiobook, and I heard the second half of Stephen King’s Revival as we drove back from Florida, and I also can highly recommend Amy Poehler’s narration of Yes Please, which is fantastic because Amy reads like she writes, so it’s like hanging out in her living room.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I don’t .. yeah, I don’t really listen to music much anymore. It’s usually NPR in my car, which – NPR, guys! Have you heard of this? It’s brilliant radio! You guys, you HAVE to start listening to this. TED Talks, Ask Me Another, Tech Nation, State of the (Re)Union – so, so good. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON SERIAL. (Team Adnan forever.)

26. What did you want and get? A very fantastic year at work.

27. What did you want and not get? Unanswered prayers and all that.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I should tell you now that I haven’t been to a movie theatre in maybe over a year. I just .. it’s so much time and usually involves paying a babysitter, and my ONLY regret in this regard was not seeing Interstellar on the big screen. I mean – COME ON, THAT MOVIE IS MADE FOR ME. But anyway, of what I saw at home (which probably means y’all all saw it last year) that I liked was Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Dallas Buyers Club, Side Effects, and Lars and the Real Girl. Also, we’ve gotten hooked on this BBC series Black Mirror, which is SUCH a great (but entirely too short!) series on Netflix. (Um, just hang on past the first episode. Promise.)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 34 and I don’t remember. (This is not a testament to anything; I can’t remember what I did last week.)

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I honestly wish I had written more. I need to get back to that.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? A firm mix of “How X do they feel this XL is?” combined with “Which bodily fluid do we think that is right there? And from which child?”

32. What kept you sane? My husband. My work family. My kids. (Note: these things often also kept me INsane a lot as well.)

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Can we just talk about this for a minute?

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I haven’t had the words to talk about it. And I most likely don’t know. But this year, we lost two of my childhood loves – Harold Ramis and Robin Williams. The former was taken from us much too soon from an autoimmune deficiency. The latter we lost because we failed him. I firmly believe what made Robin such an amazing performer, the kind of performer that makes you stop and hold your breath, was that he was an empathic person. He was able to channel much more effectively the emotions that made him so captivating and dynamic. But that also meant he felt more deeply. And that’s a slippery slope. And I don’t know how we could’ve saved him, but I see his eyes in the eyes of my boys and I think, “We’re just not done yet. We have so much more to do.” Let’s be kinder to each other in 2015, yes?

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Empathy. Or the lack thereof, more specifically. It’s not bound to one specific issue, not instrumental to one platform, but it’s creeping over our society like kudzu, and just as lethal. This year, I have felt more “hippy dippy liberal” than I probably ever have. Because I don’t know when we stopped looking at each other like people, and I am so so so worried that I have children I’m sending out into that wasteland.

35. Who did you miss? I missed YOU. I missed being able to come here with no bra on and three day old hair and you’d be here, happy to have me. Man, I missed y’all. Can we FIX that this year?

36. Who was the best new person you met? Have I mentioned my adorable nephew?

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. “Just because you can laugh doesn’t mean you don’t understand the truth. Truth is often carried by the jester.”

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.“You can be amazing; you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug. You can be an outcast, and feel the backlash of somebody’s lack of love. Or you could start speaking up.” – Sara Bareilles, Brave

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Looking Ahead at 2015

I know that it’s kind of insane to think that someone may have made their New Year’s Resolutions before Christmas even hits, but you know what? I’m just a Virgo. I’m all about that pace, bout that pace, no waiting.

(.. I really and truly started a parody for my team to sing – “All About that Space” — no tribbles! — and then I realized 1) how many words there are and 2) how long that song truly is.)

For 2015, my resolutions are:

Spoil. Myself. Rotten.

The end.

No, really, that’s it. And I feel guilty saying that, typing that, even thinking it causes me to shrink out of pure guilt and selfishness. But all of my New Year’s Resolutions – every single year – are about trying to take time for things. Things for me, things for others, what have you. And I make the time for others. I make sure the kids all get quality one-on-one time with me, EVERY SINGLE DAY. I make sure that lunches get made, that groceries are bought and dinners cooked, I make sure that there are clean clothes put away. My clothes sit in a heap on a chair in my room. They are unironed, most of them don’t fit, and they are cheap and threadbare. I feel guilty when I do grocery shopping and I buy something that only I’ll eat. Be it eggs or hummus or just healthier food than the other 4/5 of the house will eat, I feel guilty. I feel guilty if I take time to read a book on my own, or if I leave the kids with Bryan so I can go run. As a result, I’ve read exactly none books this year and have run maybe a handful of miles.

Next year, I’ll turn 35. I’m not good at math, but I think that pretty much plops me down in MIDLIFE category. And although I love my life and it doesn’t AT ALL resemble the me I thought I’d be at 35 (I have three more kids than I planned to have and also, although I’ll be eligible to run for the American presidency next year, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards), I’d like to make a few changes.

I’d like to take more baths. Long, hot baths with bath bombs and champagne. I’d like to run three times a week, and not feel bad about leaving my house. I’d like to buy clothes that fit and make me look good. I’d like to get back into working out with friends. I’d like to feel more badass. I’d like to read books, but only books that I enjoy, so I’d like to not feel guilty when I abandon a book because I am not enjoying it. I’d like to laugh so hard that it hurts my side at least once a week, if not more often. I’d like to look at my kids and feel overwhelmed at how amazing they are, and not feel like I’m failing them terribly with every decision I make. I’d like to get back into college, but a college that makes sense for me and my schedule and my life. I’d like to find a renewed sense of purpose at work. I’d like to volunteer in the community more than I do. I’d like to Shop Local more often. I’d like to start a new Pandora bracelet that has charms on it that mean something to me. I’d like to learn to play an instrument, or speak a new language, or do something that engages that side of my brain. I’d like to stop grinding my teeth at night. I’d like to learn more about bourbon (I really like bourbon). I’d like to get more family memberships to places we should be visiting on a regular basis. I’d like to get magazine subscriptions, because I can digest a magazine in a reasonable timeframe. I’d like to mentor more, and be mentored more.

I’d like to enter 35 with a confetti cannon, not with my nails clawing desperately away at my youth. I’d like to celebrate with a chorus line, not a visitation on the days I’ve let slip by.

So 2015 is the year I’d like to spend on things I’d like to be doing.

I think 2015 is going to rock.

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The Doing is the Thing

“However, if you do start crying in an argument and someone asks why, you can always say, “I’m just crying because of how wrong you are.” – Amy Poehler, Yes Please

2014 was a big year for me, as me, but a very minute year on this blog. I wrote – in total – four whole posts for this year, which is quite embarrassing. I’ve been keeping this house in check for ten years now, and four posts? FOUR, SARAH. What in the hell have you been doing with your time?

The problem came when I started being a professional communicator. It had always been a very farfetched dream of mine, to be paid to do what came so easily to me. But in the process of trying to “refine my craft”, I lost the fun. When you’re paid to be a content-driven machine, you start to lose your real voice.

Also, there was also life. Life so often got in the way of my writing, of my being able to take time and sit down and quiet my thoughts by vomiting on to a keyboard. And it wasn’t anything intentional – had I asked for the time to write, I have no doubt that twenty people would’ve come to my aid, but how silly, right? And why would I even want to bother?

There came a time this year when I realized that, you know, I really have problems in social situations. I wouldn’t go so far to call it paralyzing, but it makes me very anxious. I worry that people are holding me to my written standard, and they’re expecting my tongue to work as fluidly as my fingertips. They don’t know that I write in my sleep, spending every waking moment crafting the next zinger or jotting down lines to the next parody or manipulating the latest news story into something I could use. This happens all the time. It’s fine for the most part, but I sorely, sorely missed writing for me.

Bryan casually mentioned the other day he missed my writing and I wondered how he could miss it when I feel like I do it ALL THE TIME. But then I realized that I didn’t. I write for clients, I write for coworkers, I write for executives, but I don’t really write as Sarah Lena anymore. I don’t think anyone even checks in here any more – are blogs even a thing any more? – but I miss it. For me.

Um, also, Vinnie is 18 months old now and I have written maybe two things about him. Quick update on Vinnie:

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Yeah, you know how we do Santa. (Sidenote: there’s a new Santa this year, after seven years of the very same Santa, and now I’m personally devastated and worried that he has ventured to The Great North Pole in The Sky.)

Anyway, so I’ve been going through this Thing where I’m doubting everything I touch and I miss writing but why take the time anymore and also people keep inviting me to things but I stress over them SO HARD like what if I’m not even funny or I say the wrong thing or people get upset that they wasted an invite on me? And then one of the things I got invited to was a Book Club that was reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. Now, I respect THE HELL out of Ms. Poehler for many different reasons (um, lady kicks ass and takes names!), and so – while I skipped the Book Club because I was worried that I would serve as a black hole of fun, aka where all fun things go to die – I did download the audiobook. I started listening to it today when I got tired of yelling at myself in the car, and it spoke to me. Like, literally. Just the preface could’ve been titled, “Hey Sarah, get over yourself and start writing again.” And I cried, because I thought I could follow the path that she followed, but I didn’t, but hey, she’s older than me so maybe there’s still time! (There’s not.) But she’s honest. She’s honest about how hard it is with young kids, and as a woman, and as someone who knows what they want. IT’S HARD. And it’s nice to hear that, you know? That it’s not just you, it’s not a failure on your part. It’s just HARD.

So if I could close with a quote from her book, I would be honored. And I can do that, because this is my space, and I love the shit out of her book.

“So here we go, you and me. Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready. This is America and I am allowed to have healthy self-esteem. This book comes straight from my feisty and freckled fingers. Know it was a battle. Blood was shed. A war raged between my jokey and protective brain and my squishy and tender heart. I have realized that mystery is what keeps people away, and I’ve grown tired of smoke and mirrors. I yearn for the clean, well-lighted place. So let’s peek behind the curtain and hail the others like us. The open-faced sandwiches who take risks and live big and smile with all of their teeth. These are the people I want to be around. This is the honest way I want to live and love and write.” – Amy Poehler, Yes Please

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