Telling the Months Backwards

The heavy air holds on in a damp embrace, under a grey sky heavy with the threat of rain. New York in the summertime is either this, or a hot sun so reflective that it blinds you from the sidewalks and shop windows. 

The months since I last wrote have been too full to describe, and I feel I've been alternately drifting and plunging through it. Has it really been six months? My niece has a book called "Tell Me The Day Backwards" by Albert Lamb, in which a little bear's Mama recounts his day with him, starting from storytime and going until the evening before. Here is my telling of the six months backwards:

Earlier this month I went home to see my two-week-old niece, as well as my family and my grandmother. C joined me there, and it was a beautiful visit with nonstop family time. For once I wasn't working while I was at home, and so I truly had all day to just engage with everyone. It was so absolutely wonderful, made all the more precious by the fact that it was a rare and special time, everyone meeting the new baby and adjusting to the new rhythm of things. I ate healthy, we played tennis in the mornings, I caught up on sleep, and we even got some hiking in. I also spend a lot of joyful and carefree hours playing with my 3-year-old niece, reprising such classic as "ballet class", "you dance while I play music", "make food for lunch/dinner/breakfast" and "spin me around". My mom also gifted us with a very special day out near Pescadero, and we got the best of California's peninsula — coastal bluffs, beach and tidepool, marshes, clam chowder, a local farm, and redwood forests. 

Looking out over the coast at low tide. Those white dots on the rocks are Harbor seals.

I want to tell you that my grandmother moved into a retirement community in February. She told me, "It's like I've started a second life." She is 90. Two months in, she exhibited her paintings in her apartment, and now everyone knows her as the resident artist. She's taught me that more we live, the more we understand that every day is a precious thing. In these precious days, we can do all the things that make ourselves and those around us happy. 

My grandmother was thrilled to be able to meet her great-granddaughter for the first time.

On the day I left for home, I handed off my foster puppy Bethany to a new foster. She was a difficult dog to have around; she took an extreme liking to me and an extreme dislike to anyone else who came into the apartment — including my roommate. But her story has a happy ending; she was adopted less than week later.

Before that, finishing in June and starting in March, I led our company's participation in a fintech accelerator program. It was both exhilarating and challenging, and definitely one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I was responsible for our relationships with 7 of the nation's largest financial institutions, as well as representing the startup at accelerator events, mentor meetings. I continued to be responsible for driving product and client happiness back where we were...and keeping the office plants from dying, and ordering toilet paper. The final event was a presentation in front of 350 bank executives, fintech technologists, and press (thanks to my team's prep help, it went great!) Between all this, though, I suddenly didn't have time for dance, eating properly, or even having clean clothes. C helped me stay sane, even though he himself was going crazy finishing school (which at the end of June, he did, hooray!)

Despite all that, I made myself go birding throughout the Spring, and had a great season. I took a weekend in May to visit Steph and we explored Cumberland Island and Savannah. In April, I spent a weekend at my Duke reunion. It felt so marvelous to be back in the greenery of Durham, amongst people who I trust to the ends of the earth. I found so much happiness there, so much support. My classmates and I also celebrated the life of our beloved Dean, and successfully established an endowment fund in his name. 

In the middle of March, C and I went to US Nationals in Provo, UT and made it to the quarterfinal. We actually haven't competed since then, but Nationals was a great competition for us. At this competition, I met up with Dian, who was an original member of BLAST with me - time has flown for both of us but we are both still in love with dancing. Being with her reminded me how I fell in love with dance the first time, and I came away determined to recapture that joy. After the competition, we traveled with some of the other dancers to our friend's beautiful childhood home in Boulder, UT, and let the sun soak into us. I learned to split wood, hiked, and also checked the Cathedral Valley drive in Capitol Reef National Park off my bucket list. 

I was affected more deeply by winter depression this year than in memory. I spent a number of days laying in bed or working from the sofa, and even my office mates were worried about why I kept calling in sick. I was constantly tired, and when I wasn't at home, I felt short-tempered and impatient. In a word: miserable. It wasn't as debilitating as the fall of 2012 in Durham (which was true depression rather than winter-related), and in the end, I bought one of those happy lights, and spent some time trying to educate myself on the evolutionary advantages of wintertime sadness. The light helped a lot, and the education at least made me feel like my sadness was useful. Next year I'll have a better arsenal of tactics to help me through, but if I stop communicating, let's check up on each other! C got me up and out of the house on my worst days, and even took Cindy and me to the beach :)

We both love the sunshine!

The next months hold adventures and new changes, which I am excited to share with you. I think these changes will also help me find more time to write and to be present here. Massive updates such as this one are too flimsy to be of any use, to shallow to convey meaning. We deserve better.

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