Notre Dame, 43, dear friends, spring, corruption, and NYC

What a hell of a week this has been. Good god, people. In short, Notre Dame burned, I turned 43, we had an exceptionally dear old friend and his partner (an exceptionally dear new friend) stay with us for two days, spring sprung and I gave part of our garden a happy do-over, the Mueller report was released to the public albeit more than lightly redacted and two days AFTER yam received it, Barr has confirmed for himself that he’s part of the trump crew upon which history will not look kindly, and tomorrow I’m taking the boys to New York for the weekend as my parents, post-retirement, decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in NYC by renting an apartment in Brooklyn for two months (April and May). We’re taking advantage of this unseasonal proximity to enjoy a quick visit!

I can’t tell you how my heart hurt on Monday as the news from Paris grew increasingly grim. When the Notre Dame spire, engulfed in flames, fell into the cathedral, my eyes filled and I gasped with sadness. We were just there. The kids, especially Ol, were and remain as sad, and yet we are all grateful that the structure’s shell and most of its many historical and artistic treasures were saved. Today I heard a report that another 15 - 30 minutes of burning would likely have brought the entire Cathedral down. Can you imagine? 845 years hinged on the dedication and training and refusal to quit demonstrated by the Paris fire department. I bow to them.

Hard to believe we were just there and now so much is gone.

Hard to believe we were just there and now so much is gone.

That afternoon, our friends arrived, and they lifted my spirits enormously. Tom and Colin went to college together, they lived together afterwards, and I met Colin several years into that- was it seventeen years ago? He and I became fast friends, and although we’ve never lived in the same city/country since, we’ve kept in close touch. He was in our wedding, we see each other when and where we can, and it was with joy that I received his note about staying with us while he and Emad passed through on their US road trip. It was if Emad and I had never not known each other, and I think the three of us talked for 8 hours straight.

Tuesday was my birthday, number 43. It was such an incredibly happy day. I took a long walk with one of my favorite people and most treasured friends, worked in my yard, felt an outpouring of love from family and friends, and went to a great dinner with Tom.


Wednesday found me sadly saying goodbye to Colin and Emad (isn’t that the best, though? when you enjoy people’s company so much that parting is somewhat mournful), going bananas in the yard but finishing it enough to have one of my favorite neighbors over for wine in the new chairs, and calling it a day when I realized I’d way overworked myself in all respects.

Today, Barr gave an absurdly partisan, duplicitous press conference about the Mueller report and then released the 448-page report, some pages of which are almost totally redacted. Additionally, I got a crown, ran 98 errands, read hundreds of tweets by legal experts parsing the report, and feel like so much of the world is broken as fuck and full of destruction and evil and decline.

And yet, Notre Dame was saved, and I have such good friends, and such a loving family, and my perennials are thriving, and tomorrow I’ll get to hug my mom and dad and on Saturday see Burn This on Broadway, and I think I’m looking and doing really well for 43, and I’ll take it. I won’t stop fighting, but there is also a lot of good, and I’m thankful.

New York

We are in New York for Oliver's first taste of the Big Apple. As always, I am gleefully happy to be here, as is Mom, and so far, Ol seems pretty enchanted.  

Last night (after a ludicrously delayed train ride north; don't even get me started on the massive need for government investment in American infrastructure.), we ate a lovely meal at Nice Matin (the fava bean tortelloni were to die for)  before crashing into deep sleeps.

Today we went to Brooklyn for a visit with Percy and Suzanne, to a chocolate restaurant, the Empire State Building and Times Square before returning to the hotel for a rest! Ol delighted in seeing the Naked Cowboy. Seriously! LOL!


Tonight? A perfect dinner at Boulud Sud. Aah! 

#BlogHer15 recap

Three years ago, on a whim two weeks before the opening keynote, I registered for the BlogHer '13 conference and bought a ticket to Chicago. I'd never heard of BlogHer before but needed to learn more about blogging and take a step toward something bigger. So I went west and my world grew bigger.

This weekend was my third BlogHer conference, and on the train home today, I thought a lot about all I've learned from and the evolution of how I experience each.

Random introductions have turned into friendships, and meeting in real life women I've gotten to know online never gets old. We recognize each other from profile pics and Facebook feeds and hug immediately as if the geographic distance that's prevented us from actually meeting never much mattered in the first place. Community has taken on an entirely new, infinitely more expansive meaning.

In this huge, diverse, pulsating scene, domain names and handles become pals. People I've respected from afar come to life. Learning is still critically important but this year took a bit of a backseat to spending time with people I really like and want to know better.

The kick-ass Amy Byrnes, of A My Name is Amy, and I sat next to each other in a session at BlogHer Chicago two years ago, and though I hadn't seen her since, when we laid eyes on each other last Thursday, it was seamless.

Through her, I reconnected with the wonderful Brooke Lefferts of Carpool Candy, who I'd also met in Chicago but lost touch with. On Friday, they introduced me to the very fabulous Jesse Torrey of Smiles and Duct Tape and the lovely, we've-lived-in-so-many-of-the-same-places Christine Carlisle of Chew, Nibble, Nosh. The five of us laughed uproariously at a memorable dinner last night where Christine and I nearly cried over this perfect burrata. In all sincerity, I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be.  

Christine, Amy, Jesse, me

Christine, Amy, Jesse, me

Likewise, the no-adjective-is-quite-enough Jenny Kanevsky and I met in person as above -recognize, hug, gut-buster laugh- and later sat next to and took much comfort in each other during a powerful, important session on Storytelling and Mental Health.

I was able to tell Susan Maccarelli, of Beyond Your Blog, in person that I simply don't know how she manages two blogs, two kids and being a font of submission-oriented information every single day. And Kristi Rieger Campbell, of Finding Ninee, and I got to meet and take a selfie even though we live not 20 miles from each other but have never crossed paths here. I got to tell A'driane Nieves how much I admire her.

It's funny how many hours over just a couple days can forge lasting connection. How truly fond of someone you can become after jumping in, shaking hands, sharing a meal and conversation and laughter. I mean, two days ago, Jesse and I were total strangers and last night I introduced her to facial-oil blotting papers as we shared a cab to dinner. It's really something to go from a basic handshake to comparing the aftermath of a long day as shown on a Clean & Clear blotting sheet in just 24 hours.

One thing I think the BlogHer conferences do so well is offer bloggers an empowering environment in which we can push ourselves out of comfort zones, shove fears aside and be ballsy without apology.

As you might remember, I was hellbent on meeting the tremendous Elan Morgan of Schumtzie last year and so swallowed my nerves and walked right up to her. Then I asked if she'd do my website redesign, and this year I hoped to get to know her better, did so and and am deeply happy about it. 

It's all too easy when you really admire, are intimidated by or in awe of someone, to shy away. To think, "She wouldn't want to talk to me. He is so successful." The cool kid thing. And you know what, not everyone does want to talk, some do think they're better. But more often than not, others are also nervous, and a friendly face or a word of gratitude or even a bit of fan-love breaks the ice like nobody's business.

BlogHer reminds attendees of that constantly: to stretch, ask, reach, grab. To make opportunity happen when the door opens, even if it's scary.