Mantrums & the Stress on Women

6 10 2018

The past 2 years have been the most stressful of my entire life. (And I’ve been through some shit.) When I talk to my friends, especially women, they all are feeling the same thing: emotional exhaustion. When it comes to stress (and I also teach a half day training on this), the severity of stress is dependent on two things: how intense it is, and how long it lasts. Any stressful event can be survived, as long as it is not sustained for too long of a duration. When it does, we start to notice serious physical and mental health impacts from excessive stress levels.


In today’s political climate, even people who want nothing to do with politics find themselves being sucked into intense, heated debates that relate back our current administration, proposed policy changes, and tweets sent from bed. At the moment, we are embroiled in a discussion about gender and power.



I’m not going to delve into the very serious and well-covered issue of sexual harassment right now, but I am going to talk around it. We just witnessed an unbelievable national situation, where an incredibly well-spoken, calm, brilliant woman put herself on the chopping block to speak up about something that she felt wasn’t right. Dr. Ford sacrificed her own privacy, safety, and reputation to be a patriot. And she was mocked and belittled by the president of the United States.

What I want to point out here, however, is how we genderize words and actions. Dr. Ford’s testimony was so remarkable partly because she gave it without showing anger, or fear, without rolling her eyes or crying. She gave it factually, and without becoming… wait for it… emotional. 


1_G1EjqY0WGCaDBs4BACXdYAOur society has a long history of taking words and using them as weapons. We tuck gender into the meaning of words to give clues about how we are supposed to react to them, and what we should think of the person those words are describing.


In American culture, when a man stubbornly demands a promotion at work that he hasn’t yet earned, he’s seen as a “good negotiator,” whereas a woman is seen as “pushy” or “aggressive.” When a man gets angry and tweets hateful things directed at someone, he’s seen as “passionate” or “driven,” whereas a woman is “hysterical” or “emotional.” When a man follows up with someone to ask for the status of a task not yet completed, he’s seen as “management material,” whereas a woman is “nagging” or “bossy.”  And when men want to belittle another man, they toss the female gender at one another as an insult.


I’m sick of the entire female gender being a punchline.


It’s time to start using your words to say what you mean, without demeaning an entire half of the population. So instead of saying, “don’t get yer panties in a bunch,” try, “be patient.” Instead of “don’t be a pussy,” try “don’t be afraid.” Instead of a sarcastic, “thanks, Mom,” try, “I’m managing it myself.”



It works in reverse too! Instead of, “he’s got some balls,” which Betty White reminds you are soft & fragile, try, “he’s brave.” Instead of, “Man up!” try, “find your courage!”


Until such time that we no longer hear this type of gender-biased language, there a few counteracts that you can start using.

If words are weapons, and some people want a war, then we can arm ourselves with a few new words to put in our lexicons.


Mantrum: (Noun)

When an adult man loses his shit and gets angry, aggressive, and sometimes verbally or physically abusive because he didn’t get his way. Example: I politely declined the drink that some guy bought me at the bar, and when he came over to ask why, and I simply told him I wasn’t interested, he threw a mantrum, yelled at me for being a “bitch,” and had to be escorted from the bar.


Testerical: (Adj.)

A state of being overly emotional, conveying one’s own feelings when hurt or upset. Typically considered to be an overreaction to a situation, fueled by too much testosterone and lack of control. Related to being Sensitive. Example: His sports team lost the final qualifying game and he got all testerical, blubbering about what a tragedy, and how terrible it was. 


Meninist: (Noun)*

People, mostly men, who perceive that men are victimized by modern-day feminism, and are trying to ‘take back’ men’s rights. Associated with a group in power claiming victimhood when they lose some tiny percentage of their power over another group. Example: A raging meninist declared that, “It’s a sad, sad time for young men,” because men are suddenly being held accountable for their own acts of sexual harassment an assault. 

(*Note that an earlier meaning of “meninist” referred to male feminists. This meaning has evolved over time, as anti-feminists took over this word to promote a pro-male agenda [aka our entire historical existence] and most male feminists now simply refer to themselves as “feminists.”)



Remember, sometimes people in power are role models for how NOT to behave. Words have power, and can be painful. Choose your words wisely.








How to Kill the Planet in 8 Easy Steps! (Part 5: The Workplace)

5 10 2018

(Note: This is satire. This is a partial selection from my upcoming book, How to Kill the Planet in 8 Easy Steps! A snarky guide to living the most unsustainable lifestyle possible. You can read other excerpts from the book here.)


What you do to make a living is important. After all, it’s how you will spend at least 50 hours a week every week for most of your adult life, so it’s important to make that time count!


For those of us who were unfortunate enough to be born into this world without a trust fund and an inheritance, we’ve got plenty of reason to want payback on this planet. After all, it’s harder than ever before to make a living and earn enough money to have a decent life for your family. In an era when women no longer go to college just to earn their MRS degree, there’s even more competition for jobs, which makes it even harder for men to make enough dough to keep the lil misses at home baking pies. Plus, the #metoo movement has made it damn near impossible to get away with anything at work, which takes all the fun out of having mixed gender in the workplace!


Don’t let all these things get you down. It’s true that men make less money today, (but still 20% more than women), have to compete with women for promotions, can no longer blatantly sexually harass women at work, work more hours every week than European counterparts, receive less vacation, sick time, paternity leave, no longer get pensions for retirement, and pay exorbitant costs for health insurance. On the bright side, there are some wonderful opportunities to make your job part of your climate change plan!

pinky and the brain

Use your power to influence others. As long as you still have control, there are lots of great policies you can implement to ensure continued destruction of the planet.

Need to share a report with your team? Don’t just email a PDF, make sure to print it out for every individual that may or may not attend the meeting, plus a few extras, just in case. Don’t skimp out, either! That puppy ought to be single sided, full color, and with any references or appendices also printed out. If you’re really an overachiever, you can print out a copy of your slideshow too, with one slide per page so they can take copious notes about your sheer brilliance as you dazzle them with your wastefulness.

depositphotos_79874734-stock-photo-close-up-stack-of-papersPro Tip: When printing, be sure to avoid using ‘Print Preview’ because you could accidentally catch a mistake before you hit print, and save paper. Also, when you do print, make sure to print all copies at once. If you just print a test copy, you may also catch mistakes before printing the full amount, which could minimize the number of misprinted pages that you can trash.


no-recycling-e1395606642495Abolish recycling! It used to be so easy to say, “We don’t recycle here.” Nowadays it’s far too easy to recycle, and even rural businesses now have options to do so. The heat is on, and suddenly even our kids are coming home from school brainwashed and asking about recycling. Resist!! Even if it’s too late to get rid of recycling at work, there are still some things you can do to make it far less successful.

NEVER place a recycling bin next to every single trash can. This makes the choice too obvious, and people are likely to choose to recycle when it’s that easy. You can also make sure that the recycling containers are much, much smaller, and emptied far less frequently than the trash. That way, they fill up, and once they start overflowing, people will be forced to toss perfectly good, recyclable materials into the landfill-bound bin instead!

recycling binRemember, information is power. If some GenZer decides to label your recycling bins with pictures of what is and is not recyclable, you should come in an extra hour earlier and rip off all the labels. We don’t want people making better choices that eliminate contaminated recycling bins. After all, when we contaminate the recycling with actual trash, it makes it harder to process, and therefore more expensive. If you do a really good job of contaminating it, the recycling center will even be forced to landfill the whole lot!!!


styrofoam trash

Refuse to change. It’s inevitable that someone will try to “improve” on the way you’ve always done things. Like, insisting on having ‘real plates’ in the break room, so they can be washed and reused a million times, instead of filling the trash with smelly, unrecyclable, styrofoam plates. You didn’t come to work just to do dishes, did you?!? No, you didn’t. And unless they are providing a work wife to take care of your dirty lunch dishes, you should refuse to give up your single use disposables. 

Styrofoam plates are one of the most evil genius inventions to help kill the planet, after all! They’re simply perfect! Styrofoam is manufactured using nasty chemicals, which can’t be healthy to breathe in; shipped in even more plastic bags, which we already know nobody recycles; they’re far too fragile to even think about rinsing and reusing, especially once your fork stabs through the foam into your thigh; and even in the rare location where a recycling center has invested in equipment to recycle it, it’s still so lightweight that it will never make sense to pay freight charges to haul it very far, so, off to the landfill it goes!

salmonSince we all know that plastic (which styrofoam is a type of) never ever disappears, you can rest easy knowing that the 20 minutes you spent eating off that plate will mean an eternal life for that plate in the landfill. Or, if you’re really lucky, it’ll get blown off that truck and make its way to a stream, where it will flow down to the ocean and get eaten by fish. It all comes full circle once you take a bite of that styrofoam filled salmon, off your next styrofoam plate at the company picnic!

“Heat Wave”

3 07 2018

a cool breeze lifts the heat from my stomach

one droplet of sweat at a time.

My torso lies still against this orange patterned towel,

A damp, half inch layer between my skin and the grass.

My toes hang off, blades of grass tickling

The overheated surface of my skin.

The sun shoots across my pupils, quickly,

As I shift my weight to rest my tired arms.

The book in my hands, servings as an umbrella,

Gives a little shade to my warm, lazy smile.

Turning onto my naked side, I peer out

To see my beautiful beach mate resting too.

Her curves glisten in the unrelenting heat,

Sweat dancing across colorful tattoos.

She senses my gaze and opens her eyes with a smile.

Despite the heavy heat, a chill runs down my spine

As I relish in her refreshing love.

It’s the most amazing way I could ever imagine

To suffer from a record heat wave at a Michigan lake.




Turkey: The Architecture of Terror

17 04 2018

I’m getting ready to fly back through Istanbul for the second time in just over a year. This time, however, I have no plans to step foot outside the airport.


I wasn’t looking to visit Turkey again, but after chasing a ‘cheap airfare rabbit’ down a dead-end hole with Norwegian Air, I decided to look elsewhere for a cheap flight to Sweden. To my surprise, Turkish Airline was comparably cheap- around $500 round-trip! Bonus points because I actually accrued miles with them last year, and was able to buy my flight for free using other credit card points. So… Turkey is is then!


Last year, we flew through Istanbul en route to Sri Lanka, with a hefty 8 hour layover in both directions. Better yet, Turkish Airline offered a free tour bus for anyone with a layover of more than 6 hours! We could safely explore a few highlights in a group, with a tour guide and even two meals provided. I was excited about the opportunity to explore Turkey for the first time. As a young Architect student, I had studied Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and was thrilled to finally experience these ancient architectural marvels in real life!

On the day of our departure from Chicago, a massive snowstorm was rolling in. While we were incredibly lucky not to be cancelled, it did leave us stranded on the tarmac for 3 hours until we could be deiced. We couldn’t watch any of the in-air entertainment yet, so I decided to catch up on email and social media. When I powered my phone back up, Facebook started exploding with concerned messages. “Are you two okay??” friends asked. Geez, it’s just a snowstorm, I thought. As I read on, however, I learned that this was not their concern. Apparently there had been a bombing in Istanbul at the stadium. It was chaos as the news was breaking, and friends and family knew only that we were supposed to be there, but were unsure of the exact timing. I spent the next hour assuring everyone that we were safely delayed. We were not counted among the 44 dead and 155 injured.


This near miss certainly did not go unappreciated. Timing is everything, and clearly we were grateful for our 6 inches of snow and counting. Our flight delay did, however, carve into our layover, making the planned excursion impossible. I had mixed feelings, as a renewed sense of security concern washed over our plans to experience this famous city. After all, it was just 6 months earlier that the airport itself had suffered a terrorist attack. Is it wise to still consider exploring the city, after all that has happened there? We knew we at least had one more chance on the way home, and we would call it then.


After enjoying a successful conference and a couple weeks of vacation in Sri Lanka, we were renewed in our excitement to see Istanbul. Our flight arrived early, around 6am, so we headed to the VIP lounge (thank you, credit card perks!) to get breakfast and relax until the tour departure. We knew that we would have to get a visa, which supposedly was a quick and easy process. They lied. It was a nightmare! We spent 3 hours running all over, getting conflicting information, and watching the same visa guy treat everyone like wanted criminals. We missed our tour bus. Eventually, after spending way more money than we expected, we escaped the airport and took the metro into the city. This was my only chance, and I refused to let it slip through my fingers!


It was just above freezing, dreary, and drizzling. Bethany had lost her winter coat on the trip, so I gave her mine. We wrapped our heads in silk scarves to draw less attention to ourselves, and tried to blend in, knowing that being American was one thing, but being two American women- and lesbians, no less- was a whole separate level of risk.


Hagia Sophia WAS amazing, though not as mind-blowing without sunshine streaming in the windows to make the dome appear to float. There is no heat (it was built in 537 AD), and I was frozen to my bones after an hour. The rain had turned to sleet, and the inches-deep puddles were starting to ice over in shallower spots. We couldn’t bear the thought of taking off our rain-soaked shoes to step inside the cold, stone floors of the Blue Mosque, so that was the end of it.

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Just days after our return back home, Istanbul suffered yet another horrific attack, book-ending our trip in the most terrible manner. This pretty much settled it. No matter how much I desired to immerse myself in this ancient city, to go back and enjoy summer evenings strolling through sidewalk cafes, spending days-on-end losing myself in its architecture… Istanbul has lost all appeal to me… for now. So, next time I’m there, I won’t wonder what I’m missing, or expend energy calculating the mental stress of taking a risk being a tourist in dangerous times, or feel like a boring traveler for not getting outside of the airport. Instead, I will enjoy my free drinks in the airport lounge, and spend my layover hours practicing pronunciation with my new Swedish language app.



4 Reasons Why Our Planet Desperately Needs Women Leaders

8 03 2018

It’s International Women’s Day, and a perfect time to declare women as the solution to our planet’s woes!

When I wake up in the morning, I am driven by one thing, and one thing only. I want a better future. Not just for myself, but for my community, my country, and our planet. I am passionate about Sustainability, which is the delicate balance of improving People, Planet, and Profit: The Triple Bottom Line.


KellyWeger-FINAL-1As a sustainability specialist, I am all too familiar with the historical state of imbalance of these three critical aspects of the equation. We focus far too heavily on Profit, at the expense of People and Planet. The scales are starting to tip, but there is still much work to do in order to achieve a truly sustainable future.

The Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet, and Profit 


Assuming that our economy has a pretty good handle on how to make a profit, I choose to focus my efforts on the remaining two-thirds: Planet and People. Together, finding a balanced way to improve and promote these aspects, will also naturally yield greater profits. I’ve seen this time and time again in my consulting work, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for dozens of companies, and it can work for you too.


Here’s the thing. We have so many different uniquely narrow passions, with extremely taxing battles to fight, that we tend to become myopic in our approach. A Social Worker is mired in emotionally draining efforts to literally save lives on a daily basis. An Architect is neck deep in detailed technological advances and complex interactions that can make or break a good building design. A Trans Equality Advocate is swimming against the tide of public opinion to simply dispel myths that plague and endanger hundreds of thousands of Americans. An Atmospheric Scientist is struggling to share decades of verified changes to our planet to fuel positive policy and personal behavioral changes.

map1_Tagxedo_comEach fight is absolutely critical to our community’s future success, yet they lack a sense of interconnectedness that is inherent to their separate paths. Each one of these individuals is fighting for the same thing. Sustainability. They are failing to unite in this common goal.


The term sustainability is broad, intentionally so. It is often defined “as the ability to meet our society’s current needs, while still allowing future generations to meet their own needs.”

Basically, let’s provide a positive future for our grandchildren by being aware of the long term ramifications of our choices today.


We have already seen cycles of unsustainable living, and their devastating impacts on People, Planet and Profit:

  • _90804563_d3e69c4d-f914-4ce4-9aac-1242b91af58dExcessive water use leads to decreased water tables, which leads to droughts, which leads to wildfires, which pollutes clean air, destroys homes and habitats, which negatively impacts humans and animals. Leaving people homeless, with expensive and lengthy cleanup.
  • Unchecked development with impermeable surfaces means there is less open land for rainwater to soak into, which increases stormwater runoff, which rapidly transfers oils and contaminants into the gutters, which overwhelms and floods systems, streets, and our basements. New infrastructure investments cost us millions.
  • Rapid consumerism leads to a throw-away society, where people purchase cheap items, use them once, then discard them, which means they go to a large garbage pile and get buried for the foreseeable future. Then they purchase the same item again, which consumes an enormous amount of raw materials and creates greenhouse gases in the production and transportation of that item every single time you buy it. Air pollution leads to atmospheric warming and increased  instability.

What if I told you that the solution to solving our sustainability dilemma lies in one particular focus?

The answer is women.


101445447-160002665It is no secret that women are still working in inequitable positions compared to their male equals. They get paid less. They are expected to be the one to leave the workforce when a couple chooses to start a family. They are increasingly starting small businesses, but fail to grow enough to hire employees. They are far less likely to be in leadership positions. Women make up just 4.5% of CEOs in Fortune 500. Women are TWICE as likely to live in poverty by age 75, because they aren’t able to put as much money into retirement. Women are at far greater risk of becoming homeless. So… what?


Why should we all care about empowering and advancing women in careers? If you care about our sustainable future, then you are deeply invested in women- or you should be, starting now.


DollarsCompanies make more money. By having at least 30% of leadership positions held by women, or the “C-suite,” companies add an average of 6% to net profit margin. Getting more women on boards also means that you end up with more women in leadership, known as the “pipeline effect.” 


So where does that magical 6% profit boost come from? Much as in nature, where mono-cultured crops develop major problems with devastating infestations of pests, diversity in the workforce also yields better resiliency and better products. Men and women have different values, and women tend to be more holistic, think more broadly, be more attuned to environmental and social concerns. They aren’t as likely to be focused on short term gains at the expense of long term failures. Where men take bigger risks and fail faster, women are more thoughtful and strategic about risks. The two balance each other out in a way that benefits the company overall. 


7398240996_bfc467485b_b1. Women care more. 

According to one study’s author, Lehigh University professor Corinne Post, “(Women) think about themselves usually in relation to others. Whereas men – either born or developed – see themselves more independently, as standing apart from others. For individuals who see themselves as more connected to others, it becomes natural to think about the implications for others.” Women have more empathy and concern for the well being of others.


getty_rf_photo_of_woman_reading_label2. Women dig deeper.

Women are also less likely to have a sense of stubborn arrogance that can sometimes plague successful men. With their greater sense of accurate self-awareness and humility, women also tend to ask more questions and come more prepared to make an informed decision, which, in turn, tends to increase male preparedness over time as well. So, a board room filled with women and men benefits from overall better researched decisions. 


rainforest-woman-NATUREWOMAN05173. Women listen internally.

At an individual level, women are far more likely to be in tune with their bodies and minds. The best cure for stress is to pause and be intentional. Those who listen internally develop a better appreciation and love for the healing power of nature. You’ve experienced the physical relieve of escaping a long week with a quiet walk in the woods, or working with plants outdoors. Those who choose to be still long enough to reconnect with nature, are far more invested in protecting and restoring our natural environment.


Woman Giving Money4. Women give more.

Did you know that supporting small, women-owned businesses has a much greater positive affect on those around them? Women are far more likely to spread their profits among their employees, which can improve the overall stability of employment in that area. Instead of just one family doing better, every family connected to a woman-owned business tends to see an improvement in quality of life and financial stability over time. But many small women-owned companies struggle with funding to grow, and have difficulty overcoming this hurdle to grow their business and its positive impacts.


Women can improve the future for People, Planet, and Profit. Women often have a natural desire to nurture and protect other people, and our environment. If more women in business are given the support they need to succeed, it will not only improve the lives of people in their community, but it will likely improve the stability of neighborhoods and cities, create new passion for cleaning up our environment, and add jobs and income to our economy. Women truly are the key to the next jump in our Triple Bottom Line.

nielsen video

Where do we start? First, we need more women on boards. Second, we need more women CEOs. Third, we need more equal opportunities for women in the workplace, and to enforce zero tolerance for sexual harassment and discrimination. Fourth, girls need to be educated and empowered. According to Worldbank, “Better educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children, should they choose to become mothers. All these factors combined can help lift households, communities, and nations out of poverty.”


On a personal note: This is why I felt driven to co-found WomIN’s Fest. Our mission is to support, empower, and inspire women and girls for a better future. Through the next generation of women, we can achieve a more sustainable future for everyone. white-1342988_960_720

My ‘Test Road Trip’ from Hell

27 02 2018

Ever since the day we met, I knew I had a new road tripping buddy. Even though it was just the beginning of a long, cold winter in Michigan, and we had only just met, we began daydreaming about where we would go together the next summer. Bethany was equally adventurous, and we were elated by how many things we both enjoyed, and wanted to experience together. So, we decided to plan a “Test Road Trip.” Ya know, in case we got sick of each other after so many days…


My new best friend and I could hardly wait to begin our adventures, so when her friend, Kristin, invited her up to northern Michigan for her 40th birthday celebration, Bethany immediately squealed, “You should come with me!” Beulah is not exactly a short trip, but if we made it a long weekend, it would be a fun mini-adventure. Except, Kristin’s birthday falls on February 29th. May I now remind you that northern Michigan is prone to some pretty significant snowstorms in February? Yes, clearly this was a brilliant plan from the get go.


Lo and behold, as our trip grew closer, the weather forecast grew more ominous. Bethany wasn’t too worried, because she knew that her Swedish tank (aka “Volvo”) would have no problem in a few inches of snow. What she didn’t plan on, however, was that she was taking this road trip with a sustainability freak, who would insist on driving her own Honda insight Hybrid. For the unenthusiast, let me tell you briefly about this car. My “Silver Bullet” is a sporty looking 2-seater, with aerodynamic covers over the rear wheel wells, manual transmission, 2” clearance from the ground, weighs about as much as two women, battery-powered with a gas backup, and averages 65 mpg. So, yeah, obviously I couldn’t be seen in a 20-year-old, gas-guzzling Volvo, tank or otherwise.


Bethany (who I was learning is decidedly NOT a morning person), had not yet had any coffee when I convinced her of my sound logic for switching vehicles. We threw our luggage into the back hatch, and got ready to go. Just one small problem. Bethany had decided to buy an unassembled IKEA bookshelf and deliver it to Kristin for her birthday. It was in a long, thick box, and weighed as much as my car. We tried sliding it between the seats vertically, and it fit! But it came right up to the dashboard, completely blocking my view of everything right of the middle of my car, including my mirror, and my passenger. This would NOT do for a 6 hour road trip.


Being the problem solvers that we are, we pulled out some straps to tie the box to the top of my car, where I had installed a rack for mounting my bike carrier. The IKEA box sat snugly atop my car, functioning perfectly as a giant sail for catching wind! It was not ideal, but by this point we were well over an hour behind schedule, so I decided to roll with it. (Literally). Off we went on our first adventure!


Bethany had prepared some freshly juiced “Love Potion” for our journey, had consumed some caffeine, created a stellar music mix on CD, and was happily navigating. She had made this journey before on her motorcycle and had a favorite halfway spot where she liked to gas up, so that was out first destination. I was glad I was driving, because the weather was not cooperating, and the fierce gusts of wind were blowing my sail hard, tensing my arm muscles as I kept it between the lines on the road. As we got further out into the country, open fields of shimmering white crystals drifted over the highway, gusting and swirling into sudden walls of blinding whiteness before they disappeared into thin air. Fun!!!



I couldn’t wait to get to the halfway point.

The driving was too stressful for me to do anything but focus on the road, and I was growing hungry, and needed to pee. Our route looked quite different in the snow-covered terrain, Bethany noticed as she squinted at signs to try to remember which one was her exit. She knew it by sight only. I silently watched as my gas gauge dropped, which was especially alarming because our IKEA sail was depleting my battery as well. I began to worry as the distance between each exit grew further and further. “I think it must be this one,” she guessed, as we finally exited the freeway. “No… this isn’t it. Let’s turn around.”

“Are you SURE?” I asked.

“Yeah, this is too soon, it’s coming up next.”

“Should we just stop and find a gas station here, since we’re already off?” I prodded.

“No, my gas station is way nicer. Let’s keep going,” she insisted.

Against my better judgment, I complied. After all, I didn’t want to argue on our Test Road Trip. I turned around, only to discover that the exit we had taken was one of those where there’s an off ramp, but no on ramp. Only a road to the previous exit, with no way to abort. So, there we were, driving 9 miles the wrong direction, only to then get back on the freeway and try again. We passed two more exits with nothing but an intersection in sight, and I was seriously starting to freak out. Here we were, my new best friend and I, preparing to become that story you hear on the news. That tragic one about two ladies found frozen in a snow drift, after they ran out of gas in the middle of a blizzard in northern Michigan with nothing but an IKEA bookshelf to burn for warmth. So sad.

I started thinking about all the warm layers I could put on, and mentally preparing myself for the long, cold walk from our abandoned car in search of help, when finally, like a beacon of hope, the gracious orange glow of a Shell appeared on the horizon. WE WERE SAVED!! I breathed an audible sigh of relief, trying not to pee my pants, and coasted into the gas station on fumes and prayers to the universe.



I looked over at Bethany, our eyes both wide with amazement, and we smiled at our success! As a peace offering, she offered me a sip of her Love Potion, reaching down at her feet to grab the sealed bottle. As she twisted off the cap, a superheated explosion of beet orange juice splattered all over the inside of my car with shocking thoroughness. Bethany gasped in utter horror as her brain processed the phenomenal fermentation that we had just witnessed. You could not have engineered a better volcano had you tried.


Unable to speak, we both opened our car doors to go find something to clean up the mess. That’s when I heard the soft THUD of my passenger door hitting the concrete bollard next to Bethany. “You have GOT to be kidding me,” I muttered, but I could no longer deal with this insane series of unfortunate events. I HAD to go pee.


When I returned to the scene of the crime, Bethany was still feverishly dabbing at the upholstery with water and paper towel. Thankfully, the seats were pretty dry, since we were still sitting in them when it happened. I could see in her eyes that she was terrified that she had just killed our friendship. That was it. The Test Road Trip served its purpose and all future adventures were no officially cancelled. But I walked over to her, smiled, and said, “I can’t even believe our luck,” as I reached down to give her a hug. What else could I do?


downtown-beulah-in-winterBethany offered to drive the second half, and I decided to take her up on it. My shoulders ached from the tension of fighting with the wind gusts and snow drifts. She drove us the rest of the way, and it grew dark as we approached Kristin’s house. There were two ways to get to her place, nestled high up on a hilltop surrounded by trees. We now had a good 6 inches of snow on the ground, and were strategically coasting through stop signs to keep enough momentum to not get stuck. We turned onto the less steep approach, and I gulped. “There’s no way we’re going to make this,” I thought.


To my joy and awe, we fishtailed our way all the way to the top, and could see her driveway! That’s where we finally got stuck. I didn’t care at that point, we were close enough to walk. I grabbed my bag, tromped through the snow to her front door, and waited for instructions from B. “She said she’s not home yet, but the door’s unlocked,” Bethany read from her phone. She reached for the door and a booming series of barks ensued. “Oh, uh, hi Chopper. Do you remember me?” her voice quavered. “Great,” I thought, “we made it all the way here to be eaten by a dog.”


“Is he friendly?” I asked, having grown up with large dogs that cans sometimes sound meaner than they really are. B thought so, but clearly had a fear of dogs, so I decided to attempt to enter. I asserted myself and commanded the dog to sit to get a treat, and shockingly, he listened. After befriending him enough to get in the door, we walked inside, threw down our bags, and collapsed on the couch.


B’s reunion with her friends was lovely, though I (the introvert) was meeting everyone for the first time. We had some tapas and wine and caught up with Kristin and Kate. We were so exhausted, we didn’t stay up too late before asking where we were sleeping. Kristin’s two little boys had twin beds downstairs, one decorated with Batman, one with Superman. Bethany chose Batman, leaving me with the latter, and we passed out from our crazy long day.


In the morning, I awoke with a cold nose, and burrowed my face beneath the comic sheets. “Was yesterday for real?” I wondered. “That was EPIC.”  I began making some grand analogies to the journey of Odysseus, and then the cold found me. It penetrated the rest of my skin, as I shivered myself awake. I’m all for energy efficiency, but this was a little ridiculous. Moments later, my loud thinking woke Bethany and she agreed, so we toddled upstairs to make some coffee and tea. When Kate and Kristin awoke, it was to the realization that they had run out of propane, which is how they heat their house. After some frantic calls, we learned that it would be a couple days before they could get refilled, what with the snowstorm and all. So we prepped the house for the cold snap, and bundled up. Later that afternoon, B & I curled up together on the Batman bed for a nap, sharing our body heat for warmth. This was probably the highlight of the test road trip at that point.

The party was held next door, at Kristin’s parents’ home, which was empty because they were gone on vacation, and had heat. B & I moved over to their garage apartment for the night, grateful for a backup option. The party was amazing! I met so many new people, and had so much fun hearing all their old stories about B. And at the end of the late night, I got to lay in bed and stare up at the stars through a skylight, and make a wish on a falling star.


And, yes, my wish came true.


“Your Touch”

25 02 2018

That moment before you touched me:

A lifetime of possibilities;

A split second of regret;

An eternity of anticipation.

All I could think of was the unimaginable;

The unforgettable;

The undeniable-You.

My world shattered instantly

Into a million smithereens

Glass shards of who I thought I was

Reflecting who I really am.

A sharp pain, with distinct pleasure

Shot through my veins like morphine.

Your touch cured my deepest aches,

Solved the ancient riddles,

And calmed my quivering fears.

Your touch cured my soul

And calmed my heart…

Before it ever even happened.







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