how much for the rainbow?

Last week after work I found a twenty on the ground, folded around a few one dollar bills. I picked it up, turned it over, and saw that it had a post it note taped to it that said:

“If found please call:”

And then it had a number.

Okay, so what the fuck? Spooky, right?

I took it over to a couple of my co-workers. I said, “Should I keep this money?” I was answered with a resounding, “Hell no.”

So dropped it back on the ground as if it were crawling up my arm. A few of the ones scattered away, and before literally running away from the money to jump in a cab, I grabbed three dollar bills that weren’t touching the 20.

“Ma’am!” I turned around. A man was pointing at it.

“No thanks!” I yelled, around the same time as I heard my co-worker say, “We don’t want it.” At least I wasn’t alone.

There is no gold at the end of the rainbow. Only metaphors.

My very first therapist, way back in Chicago, once told me that it sounded like Misery was my comfort zone. My second to last therapist, here in New York, told me that she didn’t think Misery was necessarily the place I felt at home. She said it was the place I feel “safest,” because it’s free.

“Happiness costs something,” she told me, “it always does.”

And because money equals happiness, what would that twenty dollar bill have cost me, ultimately? I fleshed out the possibilities with my cab driver.

  1. I take the money and don’t call the number. There is a tracking device in the money. Someone comes to my house and murders me to teach me a lesson.
  2. I take the money and DO call the number. Someone rewards me for my honesty. I could have been a millionaire!
  3. I take the money, I call the number, I enter a psychotic game of cat and mouse, where I am warned not to hang up the phone or I will be killed, but then it turns out I was the killer the whole time.
  4. I take the money and I call the number. A sophomore in high school answers. They are doing a project for their psychology class on human behavior.

I also told my cab driver about the time that I found a ten dollar bill on the ground that was taped to a fishing pole and I had to chase it like in a cartoon, which was scarring.

“What would you have done?” I asked him.

“I would have taken the money!” He responded immediately, as if the words were burning his mouth, and he needed them to burn mine instead.

“Would you have called the number.”

“No!” He said, urgently, as if he had to go #1, all over my dreams.

A few blocks later, we saw a little black bus. He pointed it out. I saw the word “morbid” on the side, and a person standing next to the driver talking on a microphone.

“Oh,” I said, ” I bet you it’s a spooky haunted building tour.”

He sighed. “You need to get your head looked at.” By this point in the ride, we had become intimate friends, so I took it as a compliment.

I don’t spend much time with Misery anymore. It’s really just a place I go to when I’ve eaten too much dairy. And that’s called aging, people. I guess once you start to get control of your mind, your body peaces out?

So basically, whatever. Some people take the money, some people leave it and write blogs about being a little broke instead. I guess I’m the latter. After all, I can afford cabs now, so I’m doing pretty good.

 

Yet another post about me learning something from children.

There is a phrase that I think about a lot. It takes many forms, but because I love a good prayer, my favorite wording is:

God grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.

I make this request to God frequently, because frequently, I feel like I did something wrong. So I have to tell myself that it’s all in my head, and this prayer-phrase is very motivating in that regards. But anyway, this isn’t what I meant to write about. Get out of my blog, Men!

This week I realized that while man confidence is advantageous and all, I would rather have the confidence of a middle school girl who hasn’t yet fallen off the cliff of Childhood Revelry into the tempestuous waters of Adolescent Confusion and Trauma.

This was solidified for me during a shoot on Monday at a middle school in East New York. My friend Stephanie was directing a series of promos for an upcoming pilot, and asked if I minded jumping on set for the afternoon. My task: to block a short fight scene.

I’ve directed a lot of kids. It requires stamina. And a lot of breathing from your diaphragm. And yep, these gals were just as deafening as every other group of kids I’ve worked with. But there was one major difference: they somehow managed to be great listeners, too. Not just to me, but to each other. Even through all the teasing and the verbal digs, they managed to be accepting, patient, and extremely creative. Sometimes, without even speaking, they would all erupt into the same dance. Or one girl would start quietly singing, and then suddenly they were a choir.

I hardly had to yell at all. In fact: I found myself mostly listening.

A good actor will take a look at a script and flesh out the world surrounding the lines. They will get in front of a camera, or on a stage, and think: what would I do in real life? And then they will find a way to inject that real life into the scene. Atmosphere will roll, the audience will be transported, and we will all live on a different planet together for 15-130 minutes, plus any residual feelings. Easy, right? Not in my experience.

This takes confidence, which is very hard to find. So when these kids jumped right in and put their own spin on it, creating a fully fleshed out and tremendously entertaining scene, I was honestly kinda jealous. They even added a little moment before the scene started, which is something that many grown up actors don’t think to do even after dumping a hundred grand into an MFA.

Their confidence came from an organically childlike place  -one of wonder and adventure- but it was ever so slightly tinged with the dynamism and resolution that comes with being a woman.

What a powerful combination.

Looking and Seeing

I have recently starting editing a podcast for a healthcare-centered design company. I go into the recording studio with the co-founders/co-hosts, and chuckle quietly while they poke at each other and talk about healthcare. Then I take the audio home and I start crafting. It’s honestly one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

Last week the theme was Observation, and their conversation is still rattling around in my brain, probably because I have to listen to it A LOT. Yesterday was full of frustrating appointments and tedious meetings, and two bongo players that seemed to be following me from train car to train car, scoring the soundtrack to my nightmare. New York is vibrant and loud and always moving, and I am often able to float along at the pace it requires without too much whining. But yesterday fucking sucked.

So I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time: I bought a falafel sandwich from a halal cart, and I sat down and ate it. Normally I eat them on the run, which is the worst way to enjoy any kind of food, but especially terrible with falafel sandwiches, because most of it ends up on the ground.

I sat on the steps of Federal Hall and watched people, trying not to simply look, but to observe. How do you really see something? And what’s the point?

I watch life closely and then I try to figure out what it all means. I always have. I can’t remember facts and figures, or whether or not something I read was a legit article or a clickbaity headline. I can’t remember which celebrities are dead or just old (Shirley Temple: RIP; Tina Turner: 78 years old), and the other day I realized I had no clue whether or not Bill Clinton actually got impeached (yes- 1998). Those things aren’t tangible enough for me. I have always tried to watch real people closely and without judgement: their unconscious tics and their vocal habits and the shape of their hands. I could spend an hour on my roof looking at the skyline, telling myself little stories about every building, new and old.

Sometimes I need to remind myself to put my phone away, sit on some steps, eat a sandwich and watch all the different ways a tourist can pose in front of the Stock Exchange. For me, it’s not about seeing something crazy or life-changing or worthy of a room-quieting story. I’m content to simply think about all the people who live on this gorgeous planet with me, allowing my eyes to blur with the bigness and smallness of everything, and then letting it all fall away. Everything except the lettuce on my falafel sandwich.

PS: I’ll share the episode I referenced when it comes out in the fall, but if you’re curious about this podcast, please check out the first two seasons at: yahnopodcast.com.

Money Makes Me Sick

On any given week I have 2-3 major faux-pas. Most of the time I forget about them after a good night’s sleep. And if I don’t, that’s okay, because it’s usually cancelled out by one that’s even worse. This week I had two major social bloopers, less than 48 hours of each other. One involved my lawyer, and the other was barfing in a mansion.

If I could go back in time and visit 10 year-old-me, she would be wildly impressed with how glamorous and professional our life will/has become.

Before I begin, I would like to say that the #2 thing that bothers me in my life is when I tell someone about a Horrible Goof of mine and they say: “Why would you do that?” It is especially worse when they say it in their most incredulous voice. As if I have an evil twin; and randomly doing a scary blood curdling scream, or carrying a bag of vomit around in a room full of billionaires is something she has written on her bucket list.

Well, I don’t know why I do this dumb shit, people! That’s why I write about it in a blog! Perhaps talking about it is a way for me to work backwards in order to answer that very question.

(BTW the #1 thing in my life that bothers me is when I accidentally text “tge” instead of “the” and my autocorrect lets it slide.)

I should now mention that the lawyer is not explicitly mine. He works on behalf of my tenant association. Something that I think 10 year old me would ‘tsk’ at.

“Shouldn’t you be a homeowner by now?” She shoots water at me through the gap in her front teeth.

“Oh, go eat another hot dog, Tory Jr.! You don’t have many years left with them anyway!”

So, I’m not actually going to tell you about my courtroom non-drama because it’s really not that interesting, and besides, I want to cut straight to how I barfed in a mansion while the experience is still fresh.

My catering company called me into work early yesterday, all the way over to the Upper East Side. In great haste, I fried up a bunch of veggies, squirted mustard all over them and then put saltine crackers on top because I don’t cook unless I have allotted myself 2-3 hours + a cool down period.

It was a lovely 70 degree day. Providentially, we weren’t allowed into the mansion for another hour. My co-worker, Kat, had Italian Ice from a street vendor and so I wanted one too. I’ve never had one, because, despite dumping anything I can find into a bowl at home and tossing it with picnic condiments, I’m leery of street vendors. After 10 minutes of weighing the pros and cons of every flavor, and being continuously cut in line by schoolchildren, I finally decided on mango and coconut. It was very good. I ate it in 30 seconds, and then I got like… stupid hungry. Ravenous! This is unusual for me.

No worries though because this particular catering company provides a five star staff meal (turkey and cheese or PB&J and if we’re lucky we don’t have to eat it off the floor, even though the floors are often marble).

During set-up I started to feel nauseous. Also unusual for me. I never get nauseous. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve thrown up, sober, in the last five years. But I chugged water and made it through, knowing that there was a sandwich waiting for me just on the other side of this icky feeling. I guess I could have explained my situation to the captain, but I didn’t want to seem needy. Or weak, actually. I work with mostly men, and so I constantly feel the need to prove my capability so I will get hired more often.

The best thing about catering is the backstage access to some of the most gorgeous homes, museums, and venues in the world. I’ve seen artwork that many people would love to see, but will never have a chance to look at. Gigi Hadid’s face, for example. Why just this week, I stuck my armpit directly into it while removing a large salt roasted fish from her table. That face? Yeah, it’s art. And now it knows the power of Schmidt’s deodorant.

This particular mansion is also art. A grand spiral staircase, topped with a Tiffany stained-glass skylight/Givenchy baseball cap, marble walls that taste like caviar when you lick them, Italian tapestries older than Satan’s grandpa’s dick. ETC.

Here’s the deal. Whether we are passing pigs in a blanket on the beach, or champagne in a historic building, cater waiters have a tendency to be sloppy and careless. Not all of them! Only the male models. But this particular company is absolutely teeming with male models, so I wasn’t surprised when were asked not to use the guest bathrooms.

I may not show it, but I am extremely socialized. If someone tells me I’m not allowed to use the bathroom, and that my only option is, ironically, the mansion next door, I will obey. So you can imagine my predicament when I walked into staff holding, saw a beautiful man crouched by the stairwell eating a sandwich while we were all still working away, thought to myself: “OHHH THE NERVE OF THESE MALE MODELS” and immediately started dry heaving.

What was I to do? Here were my garbage can options: The bathroom, which I was not allowed to use, the kitchen, which was where the FOOD was, or the ballroom, which is where all the staff was setting up.

Luckily, Kat showed up out of nowhere with a garbage can from the kitchen and two water bottles, and she shoved me right into the restricted bathroom and shut the door. Women! God love ’em!

But, it was just a few simple dry heaves followed by a runny nose. Sorry guys, I’ve hit over 1,026 words and we haven’t even gotten to the real barf yet.

SO. I felt much better, assumed I was cured, and ate a sandwich. (When it was the appropriate time.) After the sandwich I found myself still feeling hungry. I chugged another bottle of water, talked to a teenaged model about how he has 36,000 followers on Instagram and he’s only had it since January, and then decided to have another sandwich. Why? I DON’T KNOW. BECAUSE I’LL NEVER BE A MODEL? I only made it through half anyway, calm down.

During the pre-show staff meeting in the ballroom, my body decided to reject the food once and for all, and I had no choice but to barf in the guest bathroom. The toilets, by the way, actually STARTED as a Malaysian cave painting of a babirusa before it was magically turned into a modern day john by a celebrity witch named Melanie Mx Lotus. I forgot to tell you that earlier.

You know, I razz on myself a lot when I write, because it makes me feel better, but I WILL give myself a little credit and tell you that when the mango Italian Ice / raspberry jelly combo hit the voodoo toilet that probably cost more than my student loans: I, too, was an artist.

Catering is a pretty easy job most of the time. There is some heavy lifting here and there, and I don’t LOVE fighting my way through the halitosis parade that is a crowded room full of art buyers, but the shifts like last night, when all I had to do was sit in coat check with Kat and Matt and sip water and not barf, those are great nights. Those are dream nights!! Easy. Fucking. Paycheck.

So I sat my ass down, let Kat and Matt take over for a bit and… then I threw up again and decided to go home.

Here, FINALLY, dear fans and friends of my parents, is where we get to the absolutely mortifying, colossally disturbing faux-pas that I promised early on and I’m sure that once I’m done writing this, I will have exorcised the memory and it won’t seem all that bad.

There was a small garbage in coat check, and a side room. So I snatched it and hid myself away. The little pirates inside me heaved all the remaining water and peanut butter out of the sinking ship in my stomach, and the task was finally complete. So I tied and double bagged it because… gross. Then, I stood up and found myself face to face with a cabinet full of little handmade dolls. The dolls were all wearing pink and white checkered aprons with frills and the display was titled “Self-Portraits.” Holding my bag of vomit, I vowed that my self-portrait would never look so blatantly feminine.

Then I immediately went into “Obedient I should do the right thing mode,” which is a total lady thing, and did what any good little girl / cat with a dead bird / socially awkward idiot person who feels like they need to prove they’re not lying would do, despite Kat’s pleas for me to just leave it for her to deal with:

I carried the little garbage can containing my barf up the gorgeous marble staircase, smiling politely at the billionaires I passed, walked into the ballroom full of my co-workers, showed the can to the boss and said: “I threw up in coat check. What should I do with this?”

He was rightly disgusted, and it turned out I had two options. Leave the barf in the hall and let Kat take care of it, like she had suggested. Or just… take it outside to where the rest of the trash was. Which never occurred to me even though coat check was basically in the driveway by the sidewalk.

Maybe this wouldn’t embarrass you. Maybe you just read 1,813 words, waiting for me to tell you that my puke is super combustible and I accidentally burned down the whole ancient joint, and then I gave you story blue balls instead. I hope I didn’t let you down. On the other hand, sometimes I’m so socially cautious that I actually just end up fucking up most of the time, so: I officially don’t care what you think! (Please love me.)

Celebrity witch Melanie Mx Lotus herself could have turned my upchuck into gold, and I would have been on the train feeling guilty afterward no matter what. I either didn’t do enough or I did too much. I suppose being socially appropriate means that you’ve found a healthy balance. These people exist. I am not one of them.

But hey at least I can say I barfed in a mansion!! And someday when the time machine is a thing, I really will go back to little me and say, “Go ahead Tory Jr., eat those frozen cordon bleus that Mom got schmoozed into ordering from a strange door-to-door frozen meat salesman. Because when you grow up, you will have a very delicate stomach.”

Let It Go

Yesterday I babysat a 6 year old named Hannah who is obsessed with the movie “Frozen.” We wandered around Barnes and Noble, she wanted me to buy her a book. I’m all about kids reading, but I’m not going to start paying to babysit. So I told her that a great afternoon project would be to go home and draw the characters and write our own book. Not really what she wanted to hear.

Later it hit her- Draw the characters, sell the pictures, go buy the book with that money.

“Uh-huh, sure,” I mumbled as I unloaded the dishwasher while she flitted around the room collecting stickers and markers. 

We spent about an hour drawing pictures while she planned out the afternoon. She was stoked beyond all reason. I was ambivalent. Were we going to go through with it? Nahhh

All of a sudden we had about 10 pretty decent pieces of work. Next thing I know, we’re on the stoop with a gallery of construction paper and a plastic cash register. See: 

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I didn’t think we’d get this far.

“Hannah, this isn’t going to work.” 

“Why not?”

“Because… I don’t know.” 

Truth: I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to bother the pedestrians, I didn’t know if her mom would be okay with us soliciting art in front of their apartment, I didn’t want to talk to strangers, and I felt stupid and very uncomfortable. 

Also, I felt weird about making money off of artwork. We should just be handing it out, right? (No, God no, Flack. This is why you’re broke).

I prodded her to go back in. As people passed, I rearranged the pictures so that I could pretend I didn’t see them coming. I told her I needed some water, that I had to go potty. All the while she said quietly, “Good afternoon would you like a picture?” to every passing person. But nobody listened to her.

It wasn’t working, so she put me to task: 

“TORY. It’s your turn to ask. Now, stop fiddling with those papers, I know what you’re trying to do.” 

“TORY. You’re not thirsty! You just want to go back inside.” 

And finally: “Tory, why is this so hard for you? This is important.” 

So I told her- “I’m nervous. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. Besides, I’m just the artist, I’m not a business person.” 

“Well, I’m the artist too, and I’m trying.” 

The frustrating this was, I knew I was wrong on all accounts. I KNEW I was being a naysayer, a coward, and an asshole. But I was seriously uncomfortable. 

I live in New York, I make $0.00/hour doing what I want to do, I don’t have a routine or much guidance in my career, sometimes I get up on stage in front of lots of people and pretend to be disgusting, bizarre creatures and I look like a crazy person, sometimes I get on stage in front of lots of people and I absolutely FAIL. All uncomfortable things. 

But, I am a small town girl. I was raised to adhere to a modest belief system and socially acceptable (female) behavior. My grandfather used to make me stand on the stairs and play my viola when he had friends over to play cards. One of my aunts sends me messages when I swear too much on Facebook. 

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just one take on what being “good” is, really. I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it weren’t for the society that raised me. But I spend a lot of time feeling guilty about every decision I make, I’m terrified people aren’t going to like me, I spend more time and energy making sure everyone is happier than I am, and I waste so much time deciding on what is “right.” 

They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone:

A man passed and I blurted, “Hello! Would you like a picture?”

He stopped. “Wow!” He said. “This is great!!”

To Hannah: “Are you the artist?”

All her pictures were signed, “To: _____ By, Elsa.”

“Elsa, is that your name?”

“Yep!” She was ecstatic. 

“How much?”

“One dollar. But if you don’t have a dollar, we can talk about a lower price.” 

He bought the picture of Olaf, which was taped together from where she colored too hard on his carrot nose. Hannah rolled her dollar up like a joint (yes, it’s the only reference I could think of) and stuck it in the cash register. 

“Okay, Tory, do it again!” 

A woman walked by. I started to say something, chickened out. I turned to Hannah and said, “Sometimes you can just tell when people don’t want-”

“Excuse me, are you selling your drawings?” Said the lady whom I was currently justifying my fear of. 

“Yes! One dollar.” Said Hannah. 

“Wowwww. This is so great. Oh my gosh! I think I just have to have the princess one.” 

And so on. Hannah’s business was an instant hit once we both started to believe in it. At one point I tried to sell a woman two pictures for the price of one, as a series. Hannah said, “NO. One dollar each.”

But she did decide she would give her art to fellow kids for free. A little girl passed with her mother. Hannah gave her a picture of a cat. 

“My kitty at home is sick!! I’ll give her this picture to make her feel better,” said the girl as her very pregnant mother struggled to find a dollar in her purse- even though Hannah insisted it was free.

So when a young woman walked by with no money, Hannah gave her a picture of Rapunzel’s tower. The woman was overjoyed. She didn’t take her eyes off of it as she walked away. I bet it’s on her fridge right now.

“Oh, I just LOVE that people get to enjoy my pictures after I enjoyed them!” Hannah hollered.

Every interaction became easier. I began to feel less guilt. Hannah got so brave she practically chased people down. 

She made $6.00. 

We went to Barnes and Noble. She picked out a book. It was more than $6.00, but I covered it. I disguised it as a birthday present, but really, I was glad she pushed me.

“Hannah, are you proud of yourself?” I asked. 

She was. 

When her mom came home, she said, “Hannah did you have a good day?”

“YEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!” 

Was Mom weirded out? Mad? I don’t know. I don’t know why she would be. But I convinced myself she was for awhile, and then I got over it. 

So- stop telling kids “no,” just because they’re doing something that makes YOU uncomfortable. Chances are, you are both missing valuable opportunities for growth.

You know what Hannah helped me work on? Know your worth. And then believe it. 

I try to do something scary everyday. Because the more I desensitize myself to feeling scared, the happier I get. Isn’t that why little girls love Elsa so much?

The Golden W

The seniors in my high school had the option to graduate with a “Golden W.” We were given a sheet of paper that listed every possible extra curricular activity we could have participated in for the last 4 years, and then we were supposed to have teachers sign next to the ones we were involved in. You received the Golden W if you had enough points.

I did not receive a Golden W. It wasn’t because I didn’t participate, it was because I just thought it was really stupid, and unnecessarily competitive.

The band teacher in my high school was meeeeeaaaan. I’d love to look back on it and say that all the abuse he bestowed upon us helped shape us into disciplined adults, but I personally think it just gave me an irrational fear of mustaches and having coffee cups thrown at my head.

Anyway, if you dropped out of band without participating the whole 4 years, he would award you NO points. Which pissed a lot of kids off. That Golden W should have made up for the noxious epithets that were slung in their faces- even if only for a few semesters.

It was probably a really shitty thing for him to do. I’m sure he had some screwed up version of a moral ground, and awarding Golden W points to a quitter was cutting the grass too short. Perhaps he thought kids shouldn’t be awarded for lacking endurance.

I thought about the Golden W when I sat down to write this morning, because I was fuming about social media and how much I hate it. I hate that having a consistent online presence is a job requirement. Tumblr? 15 points! Oooh, WordPress? 50 points! Adding up those points won’t get you a job, but it may get someone to glance at your resume.

But I think what really bothers me is that it is considered “hard work.” I grew up in a blue collar town. Hard work meant physical labor. Generations before me worked in factories, meat packing plants, manufacturing. (Or public schools). I myself have been a server for almost 11 years now. I’m used to the idea that if you’re not standing for 12 hours, shoveling food in your mouth when nobody is looking, shrugging off sexual harassment  and bowing low to everyone who walks through the front door- it’s not WORK.

As much as serving can suck the life out of me, it is something that I am good at. I’M A REALLY GOOD WAITRESS YOU GUYS.

Not so much with social media. I mostly feel like it’s a very speedy bandwagon onto which I will be forever trying to hooky-bob. Thus amplifying my mediocrity.

So, that’s what I’ve been working on. Swallowing my pride and scheduling my Tweets. And maybe not sounding so much like that band teacher who didn’t have many positive things to say ; )

 

 

Christmas Revelations!

I hate Christmas because there is too much love involved.

Christmas is next week, so last night at work I pretended to stab myself through the neck with one of the stabber things you put your drink tickets on after the bartender finishes making your drink. (Baby loves an audience).

Because I am a Virgo, and therefore a perfectionist, Christmas / THE HOLIDAYS makes me really anxious. Despite the meandering blog posts in which I describe myself as bumbling and aloof, I truly want things to be done correctly. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. I’d be watching Netflix and eating pepperoni and shredded cheese. Anyway, we’re doing a Secret Santa thing at work, and I don’t want to mess it up. (I just Googled “Christmas ideas for your Australian friend,” and nothing good came up).

Last week I was watching “SNL: The 1990’s” on Netflix, and Cheri O’Teri and Will Ferrell were doing something obnoxious, and I caught a heavy wave of nostalgia.

“You know how I told you I have no memories of my parents interacting with each other before college?” I asked Cole. (Of course he remembers, my neuroses are a big part of our relationship, and I suppose being a child of divorce contributes to my neuroses).

“I think I just remembered watching SNL with my parents.”

We had a tiny living room, in a house on Mitchell Avenue. We had a huge blue vinyl couch and an armchair. The TV was just on the other side of my bedroom, and on Saturday nights when I didn’t want to go to sleep, I would shuffle into the living room and wait to be invited in, or sent back to bed. Whether or not both parents were there, I don’t know. But in this hazy reflection, I say they are.

That’s my ideal holiday situation. Stillness. Being subtly drawn towards the lights and the music. I want Christmas to be the TV in the next room- muffled and comforting.

Currently, I view Christmas as an anxiety-riddled scheduling problem. And I don’t have any money, and I don’t want to make the effort, or create the time. Looking at it like that makes me seem pretty selfish. I’m like Nicholas Cage in that Christmas Dad movie he made!! OMG Christmas is SOCIETY’S fault!

The truth is, going home for the holidays is hard is because everyone wants to spend time with me. (And I feel the same way of course). If the reason I’m stressed out is because my family loves me very much, then maybe I should slow down and review my stance on Christmas.

Besides. Now that I’m all grown up, why would I want to sit in a room with four sleepy people and put wrapping paper in a garbage bag the second the gift is opened- when I could scuttle all over the Cedar Valley getting crazy with all the beautiful people that I otherwise wouldn’t have in my life?