Child or Ghost?

This goes out to all my friends with kids or to prepare the ones who are expecting. This is all valuable information I wish I would have known earlier (and would have still gotten pregnant because I would have told everyone that I will do things differently).

Shoes you placed neatly on the shoe rack in the front hall mysteriously appear in the bathtub, stuffed in the soil of a potted plant, or in the drawer underneath the oven.

Answer: Child

Shoes you placed neatly in the shoe rack are mysteriously full of wet sand.

Answer: Most likely child, but could go either way.

Shoes you placed neatly mysteriously turn to piles of wet sand the instant you touch them. But then, seconds later, they appear as they were, and you aren’t sure if it happened at all.

Answer: The ghost.

You hear lout moans coming from somewhere in your house late into the night.

Answer: Could be either.

You hear loud moans coming from somewhere in your house late into the night, the haunting lull of ocean waves, and the faint hum of a sea shanty.

Answer: Still could be either. Who knows what song they teach them in school.

You hear loud moans coming from somewhere in your house late into the night, the haunting lull of ocean waves, the faint hum of sea shanty, and the voice of a woman calling, “Cornelius, will you ever return from the sea?”

Answer: At this point, probably some sea ghost.

You turn away for one second, and when you turn back around, the figure of a person about to throw themselves off the balcony appears out of the corner of your eye.

Answer: Honestly, could be either.

You turn away for one second, and when you turn back around, the figure of a person wearing a long, lace gown and a mourning veil about to throw themselves off the balcony appears out of the corner of your eye.

Answer: Well, that’s the ghost for sure.

You turn away for one second, and when you turn back around, the figure of a person wearing absolutely nothing about to throw themselves off the balcony appear out o the corner of your eyes. How did they manage to get their pants and diaper off? And are they holding your cell phone?

Answer: Child

Suddenly without warning, your pets look around in fear as if they sense a presence coming near them.

Answer: Child

Suddenly without warning, your pets look around in fear as if they sense a presence coming near them, and a disembodied voice whispers, “I vowed never to love again after the cruel sea took Cornelius. Cats became my only companion.”

Answer: Definitely the ghost.

Fruit in your house keeps going bad for no reason.

Answer: Definitely the child if you have a picky eater like I do.

Fruit in your house keeps going bad because you have found 22 blueberries stuffed inside the compartment of a toy garbage truck, a clementine tucked into a doll bed, and half a banana you forgot at the bottom of the diaper bag for the last two weeks.

Answer: Child

You feel sudden ice chill down your body while sitting on the couch.

Answer: Ghost. Or, actually both.

You feel a warm stream go down your body while sitting on the couch.

Answer: Unfortunately, that’s a child with no diaper on.

You enter your kitchen and find all the cabinets thrown open, the drawers pulled out, one of the stove burners on, and the strong smell of saltwater and cod lingering in the air.

Answer: Ghost – no, wait, still the child. He found the cat food container, and how on earth did he manage to open it?

Your lights are always flickering on and off.

Answer: Child who found out about the light switch.

Your lights are always flickering on and off. Projected on your living room wall, you see the silhouette of a schooner slowly sinking into the icy depths of the Norths Atlantic.

Answer: Ghost, and it insists on haunting this house, can it at least make itself useful and clean up all of that sea salt?

You are welcome. If you have any questions regarding how to raise a child, don’t ask me. Then again, most of my friends joked around and gave my son three months with me as a mom. And he will be eight years old next month! Ha! I guess I am doing something right 🙂

.FFP2 Masks and Vaccination Terror when all I want is to Slap the “Experts”.

Me: Where should we eat?

A: I’m happy to go anywhere! Really. I’m easy. I don’t care where we go. Any restaurant you have in mind? Do we need to get tested? Masks? Which kind? One vaccine? Two? Booster shot? Download the app? Social distancing?

Me: Who cares. I’ll go to literally any restaurant in town. Any neighborhood that’s more convenient for you? Any kind of food you’re craving?

A: Nothing in particular. Do you have dietary restrictions?

Me: No, I can eat literally anything. And I’m happy to do it! I can reach inside a trash can, pull out the first thing my hand clutches, and take a big bite of whatever it happens to be, no problem! Are there cuisines we should avoid?

A: No, I enjoy eating every cuisine from every region of every country in the world. At this point, if there were a restaurant that served poison, I would gleefully meet you there if we don’t need a PCR test and 1G, 2G or some other bullshit. Are you in the mood for something specific? Tacos, sushi, pasta — they are all equally appealing. I don’t have a PCR test though. Do you have a specific restaurant in mind that serves tacos, sushi, or pasta? It sounds like you might be thinking of a specific restaurant. I remain 100 percent neutral in the restaurant selection process. I’m just so chill and easygoing that I could genuinely go anywhere. I just need to get the PCR test first. And the antibody test. And a new mask.

Me: Same here. These days, I am equally chill and easygoing. You could take me to a restaurant where the waiters slap you in the face. You could take me to a restaurant that only serves ice cream cones children dropped on the ground. You could take me to a restaurant that’s on Mars and I’d never see my family ever again. Let’s eat at DONTGETTHEJAB. I read great reviews and the food is supposed to be incredible.

A: Is that the restaurant close to where you live? I think they have the 2G or 1G rule now. But you can get in without anything if you whistle the first and last name of the waiter with the dark hair.

Me: Yep. Do you want to try that one? Sounds good.

A: Let’s do it. I am clay at the hands of your restaurant choices. I yield to your dining whims. Mold me. I am yours.

Me: Are we still talking about food? Hey, have you heard about the Mu Mutation of the Corona virus? It is supposed to be incredibly dangerous and contagious. No vaccine on this planet can help you with that shit. But, another lockdown will make things better and will give the experts and scientists time to invent another vaccine quickly. With this one you will be okay until it is time for the 56th mutation of the virus and lockdown 29. But you will get a free bratwurst. This is all insane and makes no sense to me anymore.

A: I am so confused by all this as well. This is way too complicated for my delicate brain. So FFP2 masks again now? This is ridiculous. I want to curl up in fetal position and cry myself to sleep. There is no end to this. Am I depressed?

Me: Should we just go to that spot we always go to? That Asian restaurant?

A: That place sucks.

Me: Hey, you know what? Let’s cook at my place.

A: Great. Like usual. I love how you cook. I will bring the wine.

Me: Sounds great. Come on over. No mask or tests required.

.This much I believe.

I believe the better the friend, the messier my house will be when she/he leaves.

I believe in listening to a taxi driver (in Vienna) tell me about his runaway daughter, four ex-wives, getting punched in the face last night, and being shot at on three separate occasions, in the time it takes to take me home.

I believe in what goes around comes around, reincarnation, and time travel. And Spiderman.

I believe there should be etiquette manuals called “Don’t wear fishnets stockings to a funeral”.

I believe in a Pulitzer Prize for swearing.

I believe in my brother who can fly a plane to get himself, my son and I safely from Vienna to Bavaria. I will take a parachute though. And a bat-suit for my son…. because it looks cool when we are all going down. 🙂

I believe that my brother will get super pissed about this but we will try to smuggle it on board. And of course we will cheat on the weight scale…..

I believe that instead of the superpower of flight or invisibility, I would like the ability to pick a ripe pear or honey melon.

I believe in buying the next size up because I was not put on this earth to fit into or restrain the largeness of my life.

Nor was I put on this earth to scroll my birth year like a Price is Right wheel, or remember what it was like to be your age.

No, I don’t want to talk to you on the phone while you talk to the barista; or text you when I get there; or wait for you on the corner that’s near there because I am not a prostitute.

I don’t want to grab anything by the horns, or keep it real.

I believe that nothing ages you more than shushing a room.

I believe in myself. I believe I should have put this first on the list.

I believe in a barfing cat home alarm instead of a barking dog.

I believe in emojis like peaches, the eyeroll one, the swear one, and the palm against forehead.

I believe in hole-punching divorce papers to make confetti.

I believe the new corona book clubs are robotic floor cleaner races (all fully vaccinated of course because of the terribly dangerous Delta mutation…… #eyerollemoji)

I believe in being positive and that mood swings suck.

I believe in the magic of lifelong friends.

I believe in Karma.

I believe that someone who takes a (not in a funny way) full Silence of the Lambs Anthony-Hopkins-through-the-psych-ward-looking-glass look at me is weird.

I believe in getting comfortable at Media Markt and play Nintendo Switch with my son for one hour without buying anything. They (covid-related) removed the massage chairs, goddammit. The little pleasures…..

I believe in playing chess with my son (for hours) without getting too angry when he beats me again.

I believe in a good old prank.

I believe in laughing when others are crying.

I believe in backup plans.

I believe in great sex but have you ever been relieved by a colleague at work and were able to go home?

I believe in fair treatment. Deep down, this must exist.

I believe I can sense certain patterns, selections, or promotions.

I believe in being a grown-ass lady.

I believe in having bad habits.

I believe that young kids are exposed too much to the internet. It is a consuming black hole and parents need to pay attention to this.

I believe that anyone who gives forcefully expressive advice about marriage is heading straight to the divorce court. Marriage is about the dance you do together but so many people are disappointed they are not in a lifelong happy relationship. There is no such thing. There are ups and downs. This is called life.

I believe in making people happy, in telling stories and making people laugh.

I believe being really connected to another person is as good as it gets. Candlelight… sex, all the good stuff.

I believe in love. It does exist.

.Considering the Alternatives – The Book.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

can I please have your attention for this public service announcement: I did it again. My fourth book has been published.

What the book is about: 

Like my previous books, I have written essays on my life in general, about simplifying, about being a single-mom and how tough it can be at times, how not to kill your kids, and about how to create a life I am passionate about. You will find inspiration, (mental) health tips, and how to be a better version of yourself. This time, more focus is placed on surviving the Corona-pandemic in a fun way because let’s just be honest here: Enough with it already.

What I hope to achieve with my book is that you get comfortable, enjoy a glass of wine, send your kid(s) to bed, and read my book in silence and peace. I hope it will transfer you into a relaxed, thought-provoking, or inspirational mode, make you reflect, and most importantly think. Always think outside the box.

I really want to thank my family, friends, blog readers, and the support I have gotten to make this happen. I will have book signings coming up in Vienna at independent bookstores. Announcements and dates will be shared on this website.

Order your copy here, here, or in any bookstore.  

Thank you for reading my stuff. <3

.They Can Say No.

Just ask for a promotion! What’s the worst that can happen? They say no? And your already fragile self-esteem is irreparably damaged? It’s really not that big of a deal.

Oh, shit! I am sorry to hear you didn’t get the promotion. I wouldn’t feel awkward about it. You were leaning in, after all. Well, if you are not comfortable sitting next to the guy who denied you that promotion, just ask for a different office. The worst they can say is no!

Okay, I really had no idea they set up a desk for you in the basement now. At least rats don’t talk, right? Why don’t you ask if they will bring in an exterminator?Worst-case-scenario, they say no.

You got fired??? For asking if you could get an exterminator? That’s so odd. Maybe they were just looking for a reason to fire you. Were you otherwise bad at your job? You should ask if it’s actually because you are a woman. What’s the worst that can happen if you ask? They say no?

If you really think you got fired unlawfully, hire a lawyer! At least, call one and ask if they will take on your case. There is really no risk to that whatsoever; they will probably offer a free trial, even ! Get it – trial – like, for lawyers? Besides, if you tell them the truth, the worst they can say is no.

Okay, I did not know they would bill you 15,000 Euro for an hour consult with a lawyer. My bad. Hope it was helpful, at least. Can you ask for a refund? They might laugh at you, but still worth trying.

Your parents will be sympathetic about you needing to borrow money right now. You are their daughter. Ask for what you want! Take control of your own destiny! Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, the worst that can happen is the stars say no…..

Damn, I didn’t realise your parents would write you out of their will if you asked for money one more time. That seems harsh but fair. No, I have never borrowed money from my parents. “Borrowing” is when you pay them back, right?

Okay, so if I am understanding things correctly, you are now 40,000 Euro in debt? Why don’t you ask the credit company for, like, an extension? That’s normal, I think. I used to get them all the time for papers in college. The worst they can say is no!

I knew the would say yes! Sorry about eh 67% interest rate. It could be worse. Like imagine if it were 69% – LOL 69.

You seem really stressed about money. Have you tried therapy for your anxiety? I will send you a link. Just ask if they have room for one more patient! The worst they can say is no. No offence, but you literally have nothing to lose.

Oh, wow. I did not realise that link I sent was actually a scam. Well, on the bright side, you are already in so much debt that a little more doesn’t really matter, does it?

I know you can make back the money you owe! Just ask for your old job back! Tell them you were so silly for asking for a promotion to begin with, and now you are (much) older and wiser. And the worst they can say is no, isn’t it?

Yay! They hired you back at 70% of your old salary! Now you really understand the wage gap between men and women. Congratulations! And by my calculations, you should be out of debt by the year 2174. Maybe they will let you off easy if you die before then, though – just ask.

Wait, you want me to give you a ride to work? Because the bank repossessed your car? It s a really bad time for me – I am three weeks away from getting my period. Ugh, please don’t put me in a position where I have to say no. I hate that.

.Apologies.

When I lived in Canada I learned that Canadians apologise for everything. All the time. It is weird to me because Germans are so different. But it triggered this article. Here are some things I heard on a daily basis:

Sorry, I have a question.

Sorry, I am sorry. (Whenever I stood in front of a shelf in a store and couldn’t make a decision but someone wanted to get by)

Sorry, oh, you must be the new client! I am sorry, I am a police officer, not the receptionist. I feel terrible for misleading you, but I cannot get you coffee or give you a foot massage while you wait.

Sorry, but I can never express how I really feel at this place.

Sorry for clocking in three minutes late. I had to drop of my son at school, but then he puked Cocoa Puffs all over my shirts and- I know, I should have just told him not to get sick! It was completely in my control, and I have no excuse. Please don’t fire me.

Sorry about my naturally screechy voice. Feel free to plug your ears whenever I am talking!

Sorry, but from now on you have to address me as Mr. X and not Mrs. Y anymore. Things change. This is the 21st century.

Sorry, I am binary now. I will have my breast surgically removed so nobody knows that I am a woman.

Sorry for my resting bitch face. I know my serious expression is no fun for you to look at. Yes, you are right, I should smile more! Thank you for the advice, male stranger at work.

Sorry I am not wearing makeup today. I look like a total swamp creature. Anyway, ready for this half-marathon on your lunch break?

Hey, sorry to ask, but is this bus seat taken? Also, I apologise that my nine-months-pregnant-with-triplets belly is taking up so much room. Actually, I will just stand. It is fine!

Sorry, can you please stop yelling at me and tell me in a normal tone what I did wrong? Yelling means, you cannot express yourself in a civilised matter.

Sorry, for not realising you are a man.

Sorry, for not realising you are a woman.

Sorry, for not realising you want to be called raccoon.

Sorry, for being the reason the world is coming to an end and another lockdown in around the corner.

Sorry, but this doesn’t make sense to me at all. Why should I stand on a duct-taped cross?

Sorry, that I caught you cheating on me, but its much worse for you because your new girlfriend is screaming at you for cheating.

I am sorry, but I am breaking up with you. I am sorry for ending things now, the moment I realised I no longer loved you, instead of stringing you along just to avoid hurting your feelings.

Sorry, I am not interested in you, creepy guy at Billa – I am in a relationship. Yes, you are absolutely right! I am a nasty person for politely turning you down when I clearly should have prioritised your fragile ego. Let me just break up with my boyfriend real quick, and then you can put your sweaty hands wherever you want.

So sorry, construction workers. As much as I would like to stay and bask in your heartfelt whistling and sexual comments, I really must get going. Apologies if I also involuntarily make a face – you are just being nice, and I cannot take a “nice” compliment about my breasts.

Sorry cabdriver, but me telling you my name does not mean you will get a blow-job.

Sorry, I know it’s really stupid, but can you walk me to my car? Actually, I don’t want to inconvenience you. It’s only 11 pm – I can walk back to the sketchy parking garage by myself.

Sorry, but can you please stop texting and following me? This is creepy.

I am sorry, I should have been more clear last night. Obviously, saying “no” over and over really means “yes”. It is all my fault anyway.

Sorry for apologising so much!

.3D Titanic Movie.

I recently watched Titanic with my son and he loved it. I don’t remember a lot of specifics about watching Titanic in theatres in 1997, but I was 16 years old, which means my two biggest concerns were a) locating romance, and 2) not dying in a nautical catastrophe. If you haven’t seen Titanic yet, I will enlighten you. Titanic is three hours and 14 minutes long, which, fun fact, is longer than the actual sinking process of the Titanic. I learned this valuable fact when I visited the Titanic exhibit in New York. Isn’t it kinda ballsy to assume people will watch your movie for three hours and 14 minutes? Especially when everybody already knows exactly what happens in the end? Anyway, here is what happens:

It starts out on a modern-times submarine. Bill Paxton is snooping around on the ocean floor trying to find a big necklace. His character is clearly James Cameron’s idea of what a cool person is like. He does stuff like wear male earrings and says “sayonara” in a sarcastic voice. Bill Paxton finds the old safe in the ocean, expecting it to be full of Titanic jewels, but instead it’s just an old painting of some boobs. Total rip-off! OR IS IT? Stay with me. An old lady recognises her boob-painting on the news and goes to visit Bill Paxton on his rock and roll treasure boat, where the make her watch a graphic reenactment of the Titanic sinking. I believe they were thinking: Hey grandma, fuck your PTSD. Then she tells her story. Which is not pertinent to treasure-hunting while Bill Paxton gets clearly annoyed. I mean, unless you mean three hours of nonsense, garbage, terror, death, and to figure out that the best parties are always in 3rd class.

Turns out, that old lady used to be Kate Winslet (hot), and one time she rode a big boat named Titanic. But she wasn’t too happy about it! She said, “It was the ship of dreams to everyone else. To me it was a slave ship, taking me back to America in chains.” Yes. Sure. Because imprisonment, rape, and unpaid forced labor are just like having to marry Billy Zane and live in a fur-lined gold palace for literally ever. Also, it’s 1912 right now, which means that real slavery has only been over for like….. 40 years? Maybe a little too soon for the slavery metaphors? She continues: “I saw my whole life as if I’d already lived it, an endless parade of parties and cotillions, yachts, and polo matches. Always the same narrow people, the same mindless chatter. I felt like I was standing at a great precipice, with no one to pull me back, no one who cared, or even noticed.” Nobody notices me! Everyone is so fake! As you can see, Kate Winslet’s life is just like slavery. She decides to kill herself immediately so she doesn’t have to face another terrible, terrible dinner with the 1st class peeps. Luckily, along comes Leonardo who rescues her from suicide and she repays him by letting her entire family treat him like human shit for the last few days of his life. Then they fall in love.

Leo shows up at a fancy dinner even though he is poor and Kate Winslet’s mom hates him: “My mother looked at him like an insect. A dangerous insect that must be squished quickly.” After dinner, Leo says, “Time for me to go row with the other slaves!” In an act of defiance, Kate sneaks downstairs to party with the simple folk. And it was the best party eeeeever. Okay. Next there is a whole bunch of boring stuff like the Celine Dion part (“I am flyyyyying!”), the boob-sketching part, and the banging in that tiny car part.

Then they drive the ship into the big iceberg. Kate and Leonardo run around the boat in circles for a long time holding hands. All she really does is yell about how no one can tell her what to do and then just does whatever Leo tells her to do. Fabrizio (Leo’s friend, who is Italian) shows up to tell them that they are fucked because all the lifeboats are gone: “The boats-a! They’re all-a gone!” “Where’s your life jacket, Fabrizio?” Leonardo asks. “Ees-a okay!” says Fabrizio, “I’ve-a got this-a beeg ravioli! Abbondanza!” Then he drowns (oops).

Fortunately for Kate, Leo turns out to be the world’s expert in surviving ocean liner disasters offering genius advice like, “We have to stay on the ship as long as possible!” Eventually, they end up in the ocean, where Kate sits on a board and cries. Leo makes ONE attempt to get on the board with her, but falls off, so he decides to just die instead. Kate is sad and gets rescued. He could have fit on that damn board. Easily.

Finally, even though the old lady knew Bill Paxton was searching for the necklace, and he patiently listened to her stupid story she goes and drops it into the ocean at the end!!!!! Like, seriously, old lady? First, you suck. Second of all, that necklace belongs in a museum. Third of all, you suck. I wish Bill Paxton would drop YOU into the ocean at the end. Then, to wrap things up, there’s a dream sequence where the ghosts of Kate and Leo walk down the Titanic’s grand staircase and everyone on earth applauds for no reason.

So, here, now you have it. You don’t need to watch the movie in 3D. Unless you do want to watch a 3.5-hour story of terror and death with a plastic cage and a mask strapped to your face the entire time. F… you, Corona. Or, you did like the original Titanic, but wish you could also have a throbbing headache? Okay, then go nuts.

.Considering the Alternatives.

A conversation between a friend and I:

Friend: “I told him I was looking for a pen, but the truth is I was snooping around.”

Me: “Sometimes it seems necessary to snoop around but usually, nothing good comes of it.”

Friend: “I only understand such decency intellectually and I learned it the hard way today!”

Me: “So what happened?”

Friend: “I was hanging out in the bedroom while he was at work. We were technically (alarm sign!) happy, but he had broken up with me in a dramatic fashion about six months prior, and once we got back together. This, of course, is how looking for a pen in his desk animorphed me into a raccoon sniffing around a dumpster. AND HOLY F*** DID I SCORE SOME TRASH! HE WROTE A PRO/CON LIST ABOUT ME! I decided to ask him about the note when he got back later that day. It was just too absurd to keep it to myself and oddly enough, my concern was not for the totally batshit content of the list but I was just curious as to why the hell it existed in the first place. Was he thinking about ending the relationship again? This man and I sat down and I confessed that I ‘stumbled’ across the note while searching for a pen (great lie but blatant) and was perplexed by it. He assured me it didn’t mean anything and I assured him I was game to change my personality to just stay with him. I was mostly interested in making the whole confrontation an enjoyable experience for him. I am a girlfriend who doesn’t need drama. End of conversation and we kissed. Then, he came home drunk two weeks later.”

Me: …… (eyeroll)

Friend: “You are drunk. Where have you been? I made dinner and waited for you. Didn’t you get my messages?”

Him: “I HATE TOMATOES! I ate at the bar! Actually, we have nothing in common. But Theresa and I have. I love her so much. Oh, yeah, I am seeing someone else!”

So, I wrote him a breakup letter. The only suitable thing to do in this situation for my very good friend.

Hi there, (douchbag, asshole, weirdo, f***er, di**)

just circling back/closing the loop on the conversation we had the other night because you seemed drunk. I also have been giving it a lot of thought and have decided not to move forward with this relationship that leads nowhere. It is not only that the other night’s dinner was a deal-breaker in and of itself, but although your use of “that’s what she (Theresa) said” for comedic relief was unacceptable. I almost blame myself for holding on for so long and I should have known you are an asshole. Theresa (if she is smart) will hopefully discover this rather sooner than later.

My list of a quick analysis of our relationship in the last couple of months which reveals:

  • No love but cold feelings
  • You are glued to your phone at all times
  • Under-delivery on fundamental things such as respectful debate, witty observations, and general praising of my capabilities
  • No sex
  • A drop-off in non-sexual contact (spooning, hand-holding and tenderly brushing the hair off my face like you used to do)
  • We actually had nothing in common except one thing. We both like pizza with broccoli topping

All indicates a gross misalignment in expectations. They say you should always under-promise and over-deliver, but you have both promised the world and exhibited minimal follow-through over the course of our relationship. Actuals haven’t stacked up to projections, not even close. I only have so much emotional bandwidth and there is no viable option beyond folding this venture. I appreciated your interest in the role of my boyfriend. No further actions required on your end, apart from returning my Harvard University Hoodie and Dermalogica exfoliating mask (that shit is expensive).

All the best,

D.

[He got married to Theresa and they have one child. They divorced one year later. The reason: He cheated.]

I have broken up with men and have been broken up with once and the best part about all this is taking mental note of the red flags I missed and keeping them in mind for future relationships. Of all the warning signs I have breezed past, I wrote down in pro/con lists. I wish I had them all still framed in my living room because the contents of it were so telling. What truly tickles me about this pro/con list my friend’s ex wrote is that the best qualities in his eyes (hot) were nowhere close to the ones she valued in herself and would prefer to be loved for her mind, personality, humor, and literally anything else. That mismatch was exactly why they didn’t “work out”. Their values were off-the-charts different. If she just would have paid attention to the signs… So should we all.

.40.

Laura Kelly Photography

Today is my 40th birthday and I am thrilled. Another year is over and a new chapter opens already. When I commence a new decade in my life, on the one hand, I can view it as meaningless because age is just a number. On the other hand, I can view a number as a marker. Uncertainty means that there is always a blank canvas in front of me and this new year will help me to put a frame around it. 

As much as I want to arrange or plan my life year by year, decade by decade, I am shaped by what happens around me, the opportunities I seize, the people I encounter, the places I stay or leave. Moving into my new year, instead of viewing this decade as a chance to start anew, change or improve, I want to see it as a chance to be here.

I know I might not be able to control all events or the outcome of my efforts, but I can put myself in the world and in the center of life and take note of what I learn along the way. 

Other things I learned in the past year are to hold plans lightly but if the time is right to just go for it because it feels right. Buy don’t rent. 🙂 I am not afraid to experiment and change course if it doesn’t feel right. Sometimes, taking action is more important than figuring out the right decision. It is important to stop letting people tell me who I am. I learned to notice when I am caught up with a fantasy. I learned to understand when it is time to say goodbye and how to “celebrate closure” with very good friends. I learned that my head would say, “it was for the best” but my heart would keep me stuck in the past. I don’t want to miss what is here for me now because I am chasing a fantasy. I learned that if I can’t find the job I want, I have to create it and have backup plans always. I don’t wait anymore for someone to hand me an opportunity because I make it myself. I am not ahead and not behind. I am my own measure. 

I learned that I cannot control how people think of me, so I show up as myself without being fake. I learned that people care less about what I do for a living and more about how I make them feel. I see what I have not done yet as a possibility, not a failure. I know now that everything on my list is a possibility and it is exciting to have ideas and things to look forward to. There are always new opportunities. I learned that even if I thought I have no tears left to cry, there are still more. 

I learned that nobody knows what they are doing. I learned that everybody has sleepless nights, dull days, abandoned projects, new projects that seem not to work out and battles with self-doubt. Everybody struggles. Nothing is perfect. I learned to protect my solitude and alone time. My weaknesses are my strength or in Leonard Cohen words, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. 

With all this in mind, Happy Birthday to me. Off to new adventures.

.Restaurant Visit after Covid.

Hey, you! It has been a while. What a year, huh? Still wearing that damn mask though. Really nice to be able to see people again. Like real people. Sorry, am I talking weird? I am not? Oh good. I am a little self-conscious about that. A year in isolation is bound to throw off the old social skills, right? Haha. Ha. (nervous eye twitch) Can we hug? Are we doing hugs right now? I apologize for asking to hug you and then becoming so embarrassed when you said, “No thanks,” that I just did the “hang loose” sign for one full minute at you. I kind of forget how to act around people. Do we have to wear the mask the entire time? But hey, I am really liking this restaurant we are sitting in with our physical bodies. Say, can we talk about how when we walked in here a minute ago, I straight up screamed? I was just so stunned to be inside of a business. You get it, I am sure. No, I am not vaccinated yet. Are you? You got seven shots just to be on the safe side? Good for you, I guess. You got your green passport, too? Wow, that is so great. Oh, you really think I put others in danger because I do not get the vaccine? Others? Why? You have no clue but you read it somewhere. Ah, okay. Let’s talk about something else okay. And here comes the waitress. I forgot how to order.

Okay, be honest with me. Was it weird when the waitress told me where the bathroom is, I said, “Thanks, I have only gone into two bathrooms for a LOOOOOONG time, so I am not sure where all the other ones are anymore!” Was that a strange sentence? Wow, sorry, I was gone for so long. I must have not been listening when she said where the bathroom is because, haha (nervous eye twitch), get this, I somehow wound up in the bathroom of a completely different restaurant. Is that normal? And men were in the bathroom at the same time. Unisex toilets? Oh, it is pride month. So much new stuff to get used to.

Sorry, did you just say that your OTHER friend is meeting us here? Wow, uh, I did NOT prepare for that. Do we need to sit apart then? Social distancing? Baby elephant? Does he need a different COVID test when he wants to join us? Not older than 48 hours? But he needs to wear black pants and a red shirt if he wants to join us, right? Didn’t this new rule come out yesterday? About the mutation of the Indian virus? The Kappa, Delta- something? But ASTRA ZENECA is supposed to help with this mutation of the virus. So you can get seven vaccines but only if you have brown hair and a moustache. Or beard, but it needs to be grey. I don’t even think I remember how to meet another person. Do I recite to them the plot of an old movie that was in the movie theatre in February 2020? Do I tell them the plot of a different movie? Could I just say my name twice, clap my hands, and pay?

Just realized that if I say my name twice, they might think I have two names. I wouldn’t want that! That would make me seem like a FUCKING WEIRDO. And I am not a fucking weirdo, right? Hahahhaha! HAHAHAHA! OH GREAT. THEY ARE HERE. HI, I AM DANIELA DANIELA HENRY, AND I HEARD YOU WERE COMING HERE, FROM THIS GUY, WHO IS A FRIEND WITH BOTH OF US, AND NOW YOU AND I ARE ALSO FRIENDS, TOO.

Whew. I think that went well. So, what are everyone’s home addresses and full job titles? We need to fill out this form over here. THE FORM! Do you guys have cars? What are your license plate numbers? They need this information, too. And your blood type. Also, they need to know when the women are ovulating and how many avocados I eat in a week. And lemon. Oranges optional.

Is it weird that I ordered two bowls of the same soup? I didn’t know how big the bowl would be, and I am starving. Why are you guys looking at me like that? Okay, wow, I definitely blacked out for a moment. Oh, it wasn’t a moment? It was 25 minutes? And I was just staring into space? Socializing is hard now. Really takes it out of you. Does anyone else feel the intense need to sleep for several days? Would it be weird if I just closed my eyes right now? NO, OF COURSE, I DON’T WANT TO GO HOME. I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN OUT IN PUBLIC WITH YOU, MY TWO BEST FRIENDS.

Wow, that was so much fun. Okay, so what do you guys want to do now? Should we walk down the street to go to another restaurant? Oh, you both have to go! Okay, totally! THat’s fine! HAHA! THat’s fine by me, I will allow it. Haha! Not like I am in charge of you. I am not. I am not the queen! This isn’t my court! You are not my little dancing jesters! You are my friends. You are my two great friends. Haha! LOL. Is that a thing? Do people SAY “LOL,” as a word? I cannot remember! Hahahhaha, why can’t I fucking remember?

WAIT, YOU GUYS, before you walk away, does anyone remember where my apartment is? I know, I know, I have been inside of it for a loooooong time, but this whole experience was honestly so stressful that I think it erased everything else that was previously inside of my brain. Which was basically, baking things, cooking, watching things on Netflix. Is that normal? I am not being weird, am I?

Guys……??? Hello….???