12 January 2015

Five Things in 2015

1. Clean my oven every six months

I began coming up with my official resolutions while doing my year-end cleaning, specifically while cleaning my oven. It was gross in there and totally unnecessary. I enjoy baking. I admit I like seeing a well-used oven. But there's used, and there's dirty. My oven's interior was dirty. And I had to clean it twice to really get all the stuff out. The fact is, my oven would be a lot easier to clean if I cleaned it more than once a year. So. I'll clean it twice a year. I'll call that "progress."

2. Cook meals

I'm such a merry baker!
I love to bake. Baking is great. You mix your stuff. You pop it into your (dirty) oven. By the time you're done cleaning up, you have a yummy manifestation of happiness.

I do not love to cook. Cooking is preparing and approximating and just generally active. When you're done cooking, you have a meal and a mess. The leftovers might be just as good - depending on what you've made. Also, when you're done eating a meal, you still want something akin to a baked manifestation of happiness anyway. So why not just skip to the end?

Because health. The health is in the cooking. It's not just in vegetable juices and it's definitely not in baking. (Trust me.) I ate out a lot in 2014. I blamed my social calendar. I blamed my job. I blamed being single. But the reality is that I didn't cook because I don't like cooking. And my health has suffered. So it is with a grumpy heart that I announce in 2015, I'll cook.

3. Write everyday

I feel it's what I'm meant to do. There will be blog posts. There will be journal entries. There will be letters and there may even be essays. I love writing. I wrote for a really long time, and then I stopped. At the time, stopping was easier than writing about uncertainty. I've since learned uncertainty is constant. And fear is not worth abandoning something that's an essential part of who I am.

4. Dance

When I was kid, my dad would play music in the basement. I think he did it because he loved music. In my kid-mind though, he did because I loved to dance. I would dance in a corner by myself. And I always had a blast. I still love to dance. So I'm going to dance.

5. Go home... Quarterly

From the last trip home...
I'm going to visit my family more often. I thought to move back to the east coast, but realized the Bay Area pushes me to be my most successful self. At the same time, I want to be more present with my family. So I'll make more trips home.

Those are the big ones - the goals I'm going to challenge myself to meet. I assure you, skeptic, the aforementioned tasks are more difficult than you think, especially considering the following points.
  • Don't underestimate how much I don't like to clean my oven. It's certainly going to take more energy for me to do that than it will for me to abandon unfulfilling relationships or work for success in a new career.
  • I would rather take up running again than cooking. And running hurts me physically.
  • Vacuous social media posts come at a lower personal cost than sharing what I'm really thinking / feeling / wondering.
  • The idea of dancing in front of and / or with other people hasn't gotten me excited just yet. It actually makes me slightly nauseated.
  • Being home more brings the risk of being involved more in things that honestly shouldn't concern me. It's easier to preserve my personal space from 3,000 miles away. But distance also makes it easier to miss moments that matter.
I think my resolutions do what good resolutions do. They challenge me. They fill me with a little fear and a lot of daydreams. It's no secret that I was not a fan of 2014. It feels great to have reasons to look forward.

09 January 2015

Staying Power

The debate over staying in the Bay Area became less "internal" throughout October and November. I explained my plan and my rationale to the usual suspects and the results were mixed. Christine pouted into her Brussels sprouts. Cate said "you gotta do what's right for you." Jesse said "oh, so you don't like living here?" Kristen - who was in a similar situation - said "it's so hard, isn't it?"

I didn't want to move, but I thought I had no reason to stay.

My personal effectiveness class changed that thinking.

We were asked during our first class to look at the things that had made us different from other other people. We were asked to think critically and assess the impact our personal diversity had had on our professional success. We were also asked to look at how we were currently taking advantage of our uniqueness to continue achieving.

In the case of Danie, being in the Bay Area has allowed me to pursue opportunities I would not have been able to pursue elsewhere. The Bay Area pushes me to be more competitive. I would not have gone back to school had I not been around so many people with advanced degrees. I would not have worked at startup if I hadn't been able to somewhat observe and experience the culture. I would not have taken coding classes had Bridge Troll not existed. I've felt comfortable pursuing the interests I've pursued because I live in an area where it's okay to do that.

On the other hand, being involved with my family and its drama subtracts from my professional success. Time spent handling problems that are not mine is time I don't dedicate to pursuing what's important to me.

Bottom line: the data suggested moving back home would hurt (or at least not help) me professionally. That was not acceptable. I began entertaining the idea that I would stay. At the same time, I questioned whether I was grasping at excuses. So I took a couple weeks to procrastinate think.

I purged. Cleaning declutters the mind.
7 December 2014 
Yrama and I decorated.
Washi tape is the business.
I used your Christmas cards as
part of the holiday decor!

I woke up one day and made scones.
11 December 2014
A photographer friend of mine came over to observe me doing something typical.
12 December 2014
This is my baking head.
I had a very fun holiday party. These people were there. A lot of of other people were there too.
It reminded me how much I love hosting. How could I leave this? Why would I?
13 December 2014  
A lot of my pictures from the second half of December are of food. I had a lot of party leftovers to eat and pot luck offerings to prepare. I also had to wrap up my last two classes with written reports and an oral presentation and a PowerPoint deck. I had to bring the blog up to date and I was determined to head into 2015 with a clear sense of purpose. The time for indecisiveness was over. I finished school. I made good progress on the blog. I decided to stay in the Bay Area. Abby phrased it best, saying it sounded like I wanted to move east for other people instead of for myself. And considering none of those people had actually asked me to move, it was easy to accept the decision to stay.

My family ended the year better off than we had started it. Medical emergencies can apparently be a strong rallying point. I began 2014 without any strong goals and was ultimately both forced and allowed to decide the things that were really important to me. I learned to value my experiences and to continue to set myself up for success. It's been a long time since I've felt so optimistic about whatever is up next. The year had plenty of minuses, but there were a lot of pluses. But I never gave up and I'm thankful for every experience. 
Dear 2015, 

Bring it. 

- Love Danie

Because Birthdays

As children, we were taught there were four seasons. As a child growing up on the East Coast, I witnessed those seasons. Today, I submit to you a different reality. I posit there are actually only three seasons.

Selfish Season | January - June

The first six months of the year are when we adults are able (allowed and even encouraged) to be selfish. This is time when you can put your health first, meet your goals and pursue your passions. 

Social Season | July - October

During these four months, we get really social. We go to barbecues. We skip some of our selfish routines to accept invitations and go on vacations. 

Sharing Season | November - December 

Two intense months of loving everyone who has had a positive impact on our lives. We host parties. We attend parties. We buy presents. We gift people with our time. We swap stories and share germs. We accept every invitation and run ourselves ragged - because we know Selfish Season is just around the corner. 

03 November 2014
I get into Sharing Season mode immediately after Halloween. I check my goals for the year. I begin planning how I'll celebrate the holidays. I begin sending and accepting invitations. November 1st to me symbolizes the start of a sprint that lasts until the first Monday after my birthday. I wake up after Halloween thinking "it's go time." And I am prepared. 

08 November 2014
We celebrated Christine's birthday with popped bottles, singing and dancing. Christine always has good birthday parties. I've been going for the last four years and have yet to be disappointed. Also, I really like her friends.

You should already know I love birthdays. I especially love celebrating with people who also love birthdays. There is a certain level of ridiculousness that becomes the standard. Anyone could say "I want three celebrations," and that would make perfect birthday sense. 

Christine goes for quality over quantity, generally have one fun & fancy event. Cate (whose birthday I missed because of the last minute trip home) prefers flexibility. She'll have numerous celebrations to provide the most flexibility for the guests. 

Basically, there are no rules for your birthday. And really, that's my favorite part. 

10 November 2014

I finished my most intense class. It was grueling and pushed my adult student self harder than any other class my adult self had taken. The purpose of the class was to learn how to both build and lead high performing teams. The techniques I learned put me on a path that would genuinely change my life. When it was over, some of my classmates and I went to a restaurant where I think some expected we would have drinks and a raucous good time. But we mostly just sat and stared at each other while repeating "it's over." In case you're wondering, yes, I'd do it again.

My amazing class inspired me to take the advanced class, which was focused on personal influence. The professor promised it was only a tenth of the work of the first class, and I decided that to be the right amount of work I could handle as we were getting deeper into the holidays. Also, I was still thinking about leaving the Bay Area. Taking the advanced class immediately following the first class meant even though I was adding a new duck, I would still have time to get him in a row with the others. Taking the advanced class also meant I'd be taking two classes at once, and that a lot of the free time I had planned to have during the Sharing Season was no longer free.

I mean those two meet procreation criteria...
Exempli gratia: Melissa's birthday party. It was on a Saturday and well established in my calendar before I became so deeply inspired to learn. Originally, I wanted to make more of a day out of it, but by the time I got out of class, into a car, on the road and up to Sacramento there were only a few hours left in said day. Obviously, we made the most it, laughing and guessing what the future would bring.  (The answer: babies. The question: whose? Note: I am not in the running.)

Happy birthday Melissa (observed)
15 November 2014

Dinner Damage
16 November 2014
Yrama was also born in November and also had a birthday party. Hers was a lot more physical. It started out simple enough with a giant breakfast. Afterward, we rented bikes and biked down to and over the Golden Gate bridge. We rode into Sausalito, took a ferry back to SF and returned the bikes before inhaling a lot of delicious food at +Tony's Pizza Napoletana. It was a full and amazing day and even though there were a few times when I thought my heart was going to explode, I enjoyed myself.

The birthdays were disrupted by Thanksgiving. I observe Thanksgiving from the fourth Thursday in November through the following Sunday. I think that's pretty impressive for someone who has never cooked a turkey. 

Paula & Tyrone hosted the main event.
I love the junk out of this picture.
27 November 2014
28 November 2014

I had a migraine the day after Thanksgiving, which forced me to skip one of my planned events. Cate basically forced pills into me so we could go to the late dinner with Christine's family. I'm really glad she did. Thanksgiving with friends is fantastic. But Christine's family made it feel more like home.
29 November 2014

The third Thanksgiving was with Courtney & the physicists - which is an actual group of people and not a band.

I used to work with Courtney. She's what Andria calls "Hipster Martha Stewart." She and her husband make delicious, pinnable things using plants and herbs grown behind their house. It's a #ClassicBayArea thing to do. Cate, Andria & I descended on her fine fare like a pseudo civilized pack of wolves. It was the best we could do. By the time we got to dessert, I'm pretty sure we were moaning. I don't really remember, so strong was my food coma.
Friendsgiving. The icing on the Thanksgiving cupcake.
30 November 2014
Cate decorated her apartment and put up her tree while the rest of gossiped.
30 November 2014
On the last day of the month, there was only one birthday left - Angie's. We're not good at big on giving gifts, but I there was obviously one thing I could give her. I'd had the thought in October and worked on it throughout November. By lunchtime on Angie's birthday in New Zealand, blog posts from our trip to South America were blowing up her news feed. I mean we were approaching a year after the trip. It was then or never. I chose "then."

Ang was pleased. I was pleased. Those curious friends who remember this blog's heyday were pleased. 'Twas a miracle right in time for Christmas.

08 January 2015

Sober October

It may not seem like it, but I'm a little bit sad.
04 October 2014
Though self-imposed and entirely imaginary, the countdown clock hovering over my time in San Francisco was always top of mind. It provided a somber tinge to everything. 

I signed up for my final certification classes, which required me to physically be in San Francisco until early November. (The final final class was online.) I signed up for swimming lessons and got busy getting ready to go. 

I also got a tattoo. It's the smallest, daintiest thing and if you didn't catch it in the light you wouldn't even know it was there. It's healed a lot more since this picture was taken and is exactly what I wanted - a tattoo for me. 

I get that people get tattoos to tell their stories or to show the world what's important to them. But when I first considered getting a tattoo (more than two years ago), I wanted something for me. It never occurred to me to it put somewhere I couldn't see it. And it never occurred to me to get something large or dramatic. Once I learned tattoos done in white basically disappear, I was sold. There are people, places, things and ideas that have impacted shaped or otherwise marked me. I don't think each noun deserves its own tattoo, but I do like the idea of looking down and being able to see a reminder of who and why I am.

October passed pretty quickly. School was intense and I don't think I would have done as well as I did if I'd had a full time job at the same time. I was still writing - though not blogging - and go out - though not drinking. 

It's so interesting to not drink. I would say my friends and I are regular yuppies. We have happy hours and we brunch hard. We have drinks in parks and during festivals and with dinner. The goal is never to get drunk, though the option is always there. I stopped drinking when I got back from the East Coast for a few reasons. Partially, it was in solidarity with Dre, who was under strict doctor's orders. Also, I plumped up in 2014, so fewer calories couldn't hurt. And do you have any idea how much yuppies spend on wine / champagne / cocktails? It's a lot. I mean it's little when compared to rent, but our rents are really high.

23 October 2014
I found, in my case, some people became concerned by my not drinking. It was as if they feared that I was hiding a medical issue. Or that I was suddenly broke. In fact, the only person who noticed and didn't question me was our waitress at trivia. And she knew my Monday drinking habits better than anyone.  

I didn't feel any different in my day to day life - my drinking really hadn't been excessive. Then again, I saved a noticeable amount of money. So take that as you will.
Trampled by Turtles - Oakland, CA
23 October 2014
31 October 2014
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, which we'll call "unexpected." I went to the parade with Blair. He worked with me in Las Vegas. He lives here now, and since we both grew up in Pennsylvania, this is third state we've shared. That's an odd fact but it is what it is.

Neither of us are huge baseball fans, but we are fans of this city and of that feeling that overwhelms it when our team baseball team dominates. It was a much different story in 2010, so I was really glad to be making happy memories.
Life is strange in the very best way.

The Storm

September 2014 was more intense than April 2014 - which we should all be able to agree was pretty intense. I kind of wish there was a warning system for months like those. Then again, if I'd had any indication of what was to happen, I might have missed some of the pluses for worrying about the minuses. It's those pluses I'll share first.

My coding improved. I felt more comfortable with HTML 5 and set a pretty serious goal. I want to to be able to write the code that designs Pique A Boo. There is a lot of data here and it might be difficult to know what's needed and what's not. Nonetheless my goal is to do exactly that. Five months later, I'm reminded that I have a lot of work yet to do.

Dancing at El Rio - 7 September 2014
I did not get a do over to open my eyes, but
I still like this picture.
Lucy's baby!
I went back to Fargo for Lucy's wedding. There is no way to write that sentence to truly convey its significance, so I'll try to explain it.

I went back to Fargo for my friend Lucy's wedding. I went back to Fargo for Jesse's sister's wedding.

Of course I had visited Fargo since moving to Vegas. Jesse had also visited. But this was to be our first joint visit since we dissolved our union. He and Yrama were coming from Spain and it was going to be the first time that anyone who had known us before 2010 would see our new dynamic. I mean it was already weird for people who just knew our story. I couldn't imagine what it was going to be like for the people who had actually witnessed it unfold.

Yrama & the baby. 
Obviously, there was nothing to actually worry about. Everything fell into place. Lucy picked me up from the airport and while I got ready, we laughed at how the tables had turned.

I was unemployed, bopping around from event to event, doing exactly what I wanted without any real responsibilities. I had my suitcase in the dining room and I had traveled without body wash.

Lucy was getting married, to the father of her baby. Together they were living in a house they owned and paid for with their steady employment.

It was nothing short of poetic justice. I used to judge Lucy for how not together she had it. Deep in the annals of this blog are all my complaints about Lucy's visits and Lucy's messes. As I tried to squish my stuff back into my suitcase, Lucy gave me some body wash for my trip. We laughed. By the time Jesse & Yrama arrived, Lucy had me working on wedding decorations and their had me on my second cocktail.

Everything else that happened in Fargo was wonderfully familiar, just with more kids.

I stayed with Ryan & Kelsee, as I do. They actually hid their children. They said it freed them up for whatever I wanted to do. But I'm pretty sure they used me as an excuse to get wild and crazy sleep, and I was okay with that.

Adam & Amber grilled, only instead of sitting and savoring, dinner happened in the background while I played with a toy kitchen downstairs. Adam & Amber's kids are old enough to have personalities. I imagine that can be a real test for parents - what kind of person is your kid really? The kids in the Adam / Amber collection are sweet, and they share their toys. The oldest even prayed for my soul in his bedtime prayers. Adorbs.

We saw Hairball at the Knickerbocker Liquor Locker, as we did the last time I was there. I ran into an old coworker, as I did the last time I was there.

Full disclosure: standing in a gravel parking lot belting our hairband hits in 40 degree weather is part of my personal happy place. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

Yrama's reaction to "Do you want to wear the hats?"
I had brunch with some of my news friends. Lucy got married. The ceremony was quick and the party was awesome. The next day I drove to Minneapolis to see Wen and meet her baby. Honestly, I don't recommend partying all night and driving all day. But I wholeheartedly endorse meeting babies. So I can't think of anything I would have done differently.

We ate at old places with old friends and stopped by the visitor's bureau so Yrama could get her picture taken with the wood chipper.

She was happy.

My trips to Fargo are always great and this was no exception. In fact, it might have been the best trip so far. I was a basic 20 year old when I moved to there. All of the people I visit now are people I met then. We've all grown up and chosen our paths, but we still make time to get together and make new memories.

The shift into the storm happened at the airport. I was having my final catch up session at the airport bar - because every opportunity is an opportunity to socialize. One of my aunts called and launched a lot of words at me. These were words of hurt and of shock and of anger. Her sibling / my parent had had heart surgery earlier than scheduled and didn't tell the family. My aunt was calling to tattle - because I'm actually a threat to some people. I took the wind out of her sails by telling her that I knew, and that I was already at an airport and on my way. I felt for my aunt, because it has to hurt to know that you've been cut out of something so significant. But that relationship is beyond my control.

Visiting Fargo is like a taking a deep breath. It grounds me. I live a pretentious life in a pretentious city. Being grounded is good. I take from my time in Fargo. I soak it up like a dry sponge. When I'm with my family, I give. Whatever anyone needs, I give. So I'm not sure how well I would have handled the rest of the month if I hadn't hit my emotional reset button in Fargo. There was a lot to be done at home.

The cost of a flight from SFO to BWI was cheaper than the cost of changing my flight from Fargo. So I flew all the way west, then all the way back to the East Coast. It was exhausting. My body was confused and I wanted to eat, sleep and shower all at the same time.

By the time I arrived, it was discharge time. Dre had had a portable defibrillator installed. The bottom line is that his heart doesn't work properly. The defibrillator is a permanently necessary backup to total heart failure. The science is sound. It's the implications that are potentially brain-breaking.

She just fell asleep face down in plastic.
I looked at the facts. My parent was experiencing a significant change in health status. My brother (as a result of the implosion in the beginning of the year) was doing his best with his two kids on his own and it wasn't enough. (I mean three kids between the two households and they weren't even shopping at Costco. Bless their hearts.) I was staying in SF because I wanted to - not because I needed to. No one asked me to move back east - I'm pretty sure Derek called the idea "dumb." But it was easy to see the positive impact I could make by just being closer.

As I think about it now, I wonder if I just wanted a purpose. I didn't really have one at the time and devoting myself to helping my family seemed noble. It didn't seem like it would be fulfilling, but it seemed like the right thing to do - especially in the absence of having anything else to do. I began deciding to move east. I began telling people, because that made it more real. I never felt satisfied with my decision and chalked it up to being selfish.

The recently operated upon can wear socks with sandals...
I arrived back in SF on the 6th anniversary of arriving here. As I was thinking of leaving the Bay Area, it was a sad homecoming.

Ultimately, I decided not to move. I have very sound reasons, but they didn't make themselves clear until November. So you, reader, will have to wait.

Step one for my September self was to close outstanding business. I has a Project Management Certification program that needed to be finished. I had a goal of learning to swim and I had dreams of downsizing. I came home in September determined to get everything in order so I could more easily take my next steps. It was a classic case of doing the right things for the wrong reasons.

07 January 2015

The Calm

Ali & I at Garden of the Gods

I went to Colorado in August. When I announced the trip, a lot of people asked, "why?" I basically replied "why not?" It was honestly as simple as that.

I had been invited to Colorado several times by Ali and her parents. Also, I had nothing going on that weekend. Generally, in the absence of a reason to say "no," I say "yes."* So I went to Colorado. I had a great time.

Ali & I stayed with her parents. We went hiking. We sat poolside. We relaxed. We ate delicious food. We saw a really good improv show and went to a wolf preserve. Also - and this really is best thing - went to the United States Olympic Training Center.

SO. EXCITED! soexcited!
Yes, I wore an Olympics t-shirt.
My love of the Olympics is not well documented. It started in the early nineties and has only become more intense. I love the Olympics for so many reasons. I love that the games are global. Most of the world has a horse in the game, so to speak. It's unifying in the way I imagine an alien invasion would be. Everyone has something at stake. Everyone has a reason to pay attention.

As an American, I'm pretty sure my team is going to beat your team at something. There will be one or two or many sports that the USA will dominate. My support somehow qualifies me as a part of the team so "we" will kick the butts of most! The Olympics are the one time when I'm a stereotypical American, declaring general superiority.

And Bob Costas! I love listening to Bob Costas. He's been the face of Olympic coverage for me. I don't know what I'm going to do when NBC doesn't have the coverage anymore. I don't know if I trust any one other person with Olympics coverage. Maybe Anderson Cooper. Maybe.

The Olympics training center was everything I needed it to be. There were inspirational videos. There were Olympians training (behind glass) with branded equipment.

Michael Phelps probably peed in this pool...
My "say yes now and figure it out later" philosophy almost burned me after Colorado. I returned less than three hours before the On The Run Tour SF show was scheduled to start. There was some scrambling but I was able to make it to - and be tagged at - the pre-party.

We are just SO cute!
I've never been a huge fan of Beyonce's vocals. I see what she does though, to strengthen her brand and I respect that. I'm more of a Jay Z fan. A lot of people I know went to the concert, but I was in a party of two with Christine. Christine LOVES rap and hip-hop. Christine has empowered me to consider loving rap and hip-hop. I used to really love hip-hop and I trained myself out of it as a way to fit in with my peers. I was born in a predominantly brown neighborhood and music was just music. Then my family moved deep into the suburbs and music became more. I could be black and only listen to hip-hop. I could be pigeonholed and easily labeled. I remember actively deciding against that as a kid. "Oh, you assume I've never heard of R.E.M.? Well I happen to love R.E.M." (Lie)

I purposefully explored music contrary to what people assumed I liked. I discovered a lot of great music that way and was actually able to make solid connections with people using music. One of my first outings with Lucy was a Rascal Flatts at the Fargodome with Blake Shelton as the opening act.

I also took pleasure in bringing people face to face with their biases.
"YOU know this song?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
"It's country."
"Well you're... I just didn't think you would listen to country."
"Why not? I write. I love storytelling. Country music has great storytelling."
That happened so many times in so many places. And it was satisfying every time. Still, I didn't like downplaying my love of hip-hop. I didn't like excluding that part of myself for the sake of making a point. Christine never had this internal conflict. She doesn't defend what she likes - she just likes it. Knowing her has inspired me to be honest - even if that means being pigeonholed. So it's always extra special to see Jay Z with her. (This was our third time.)

San Francisco Street Food Festival
16 August 2014
Also in August, I went to the San Francisco Street Food Festival with Kristen. I met Kristen earlier in 2014 and loved her humor immediately. I also love her love of food. We approached the street food festival with strategy and basically beat it at its own game. We ate very little from very many places. We split even the smallest of pickled quail eggs, giving us the ability to make it all the way to a grilled peach with goat(?) cheese and a balsamic vinegarette. It's possible the SFSFF won't exist in 2015 - it's apparently a nightmare to organize. My first trip there was with Jesse a few weeks after we broke up. It was awkward. My attempt after that was also awkward. I was determined to have a positive experience and - thanks to Kristen and Paula and Tyrone - I did.

Tyrone, me, Paula & Kristen
16 August 2014 
... with the hot cop of the Castro
18 August 2014
Benjamin Booker
20 August 2014
Trivia speed dating
22 August 2014
Outside Mama's on Washington Square
29 August 2014
I began writing again. I mean, let's be honest, by August I was officially out of excuses. I wrote for myself and I wrote for pay. In August I wanted to build my writing portfolio. It was important to me even though I didn't know why. Rational reasons aside, I worked to make it happen.

I used to have a wish that all of my favorite people would move to SF. I never really expected it to come true. Still, I'm not the only one to recognize that the West Coast is the best coast. Lizbeth is among those who now live in the Golden State and in August she came to visit.

Her purpose was not to visit me, but the result was the same. We had a typical SF brunch - two hours of waiting and one hour of eating. It was the perfect amount of time for a good catch up session. And I was able to keep her talking for a long time before she even noticed the wait. I'm pretty sure we in San Francisco call that a "win."

Not bad for a selfie in the dark. 
I ended August with Ted and Anne in a mostly empty bar. Ted is my token introvert friend. On paper, he and I are very different. Actually, we're also different IRL. Whatever. We work and that's what matters.

Anne is always very much in the moment. I could go crazy thinking of possibilities and making plans to take strategic steps toward my goals. But Anne makes it a point to take advantage of what's happening now. I think she's just wired that way. It's admirable.

*A 2014 policy discontinued in 2015