Moving to Manhattan

I have accepted a position as TPM for Dow Jones in Manhattan.    I will be working on a new product recently launched in beta (more details below).  So far the team has been enthusiastic, sharp, witty, fast paced, all of the things I would want to feel at home. My start date is May 8th.  I have been communicating with the team regularly in order to be ready on day one.

I never thought I’d leave Austin.  This opportunity is so perfect I had to take it.   I’ve never been happier than my time in Austin.  I felt more at home hear than anywhere I’ve lived prior.  The amount of kindness and support from my extended network has been inspiring.  In April of 2014 when my house was burnt down I had more help than I knew what to do with.  When I think of that phase of life I don’t think of how awful it was, I think of how life-changing it was to have such a safety net in friends, coworkers, extended network, even people I did not know offered help. Having so many people concerned for my wellbeing softened me in a way I didn’t know I needed.  I will miss the warmth of Texans.  Moving across the country is feeling all the emotions at once.  I am so excited.  I’m sad to leave close friends.  I am completely certain it is the right thing to do.  I’m hopeful to return to my home base, Austin, TX, as often as I can.

I just signed a lease for the Upper East Side.  I’ll be moving on May 3rd. There was about a week that I was pretty sure I was moving to the Bay Area.  All I can say is everything changed quickly.  I had two incredible offers come at once.  There was some spinning in the interim period.  I apologize if I told you I was moving to the Bay Area and then forgot to update you.  It came down to the hour that I had to decide.  I am thrilled with my decision to work with DOW particularly on such an exciting new feature.

I’m doing a crash course in machine learning.  So far focusing on Audacity offering.  If anyone has any good recommendations for machine Learning / Big Data / AI let me know.

 

Dow Jones launches Data, News and Analytics (DNA) Platform

April 10, 2017

  • Provides customers and partners with access to world-class Dow Jones news and data for workflow integration and the development of new information solutions
  • Now in public beta, DNA has been made available on platforms including Google BigQuery and IBM Cloud for Financial Services
  • Developers are also able to access the data from their own on-premise and cloud environment

Full press release: https://www.dowjones.com/press-room/dow-jones-launches-data-news-analytics-dna-platform/

 

Patricia Panics when Introduce to President

What a privilege to meet President Obama, Michelle Obama and Joe Bidden.   I was under the impression that each of us would have a few second to shake the president’s hand and quickly move along.  I prepared to say something sincere and short.  Turns out each of us had a few minutes.  To my credit I did handle the first 20 second with grace; followed by a steep drop off.

I challenged the president of the United States to a game of basketball…

I also don’t know why I said what I said.  He then asked me if I had moves to which I responded a firm “No”.  What was unspoken between the president and myself was “why did you bring it up?”

I panicked.

I have since engaged with a basketball coach, Helen Tau, because I think I stand a greater chance of learning basketball than I do of not bringing it up in strange situations in the future.

I hugged Michelle Obama twice.  All I could spit out was “I am so proud of you”.  A strange thing to say to the first lady.  She is a hero of mine and I lost my head.  In meeting Joe Biden he put his hand on my face and said he was proud of me.  I almost cried.

It did not occur to me how strange it was that I challenged the president to basketball until 15 minutes later.  The internal dialog went like this… “You are an intelligent woman, there are so many other things you could have said… why basketball???”  Followed by “Are you sure your intelligent?  Is that something you’ve heard other people say?”

I had serious preexisting medical conditions.  I was one of the people who was helped tremendously by Obama-care, I was previously uninsurable.  Why couldn’t I have said thank your or something to that effect.  I read both his books and loved them, I have always been a huge fan, and I volunteered on his first campaign.  I could have said any of that, but instead I asked him to play basketball with me…?  I’m still scratching my head.

It was a great honor to meet the president.  At this event he also honored the descendants of the Berlin Olympics.  The African-American Olympians in 1936 were not invited to the white house visit.  It was remarkable to be in the same room as the descendants of Jesse Owens and all 19 American Olympians that had not received the honor they deserved.

As always so proud to be part of Team USA.

Words Fail Me…

Words fail me when I need them the most.  A few weeks ago I was saddened that no one in my family was able to make the trip to Rio.  My Dad pleasantly surprised me by expressing his want to go.  I was scared to let my Dad loose in Rio for a variety of VALID reasons.  Enter my dear friend and tandem cycling expert Lindsey Cook.  She is go to offer Jess and I some guidance on the Rio course while giving my Dad a hand when he needs. I was so sad that no one was coming.  Then for a while I was so scared that someone was coming.  Today I only feel elated and grateful that my team will be in the grandstands for the biggest race of my life. Words fail me to express the gravity of how touched I am.

I see that Jessica Jones is taking time away from her family to make this possible.  I see Mark Alan and Vickie Bowmen Jones supporting her to make it possible.   Jess I cannot thank you and your family enough for all that they ae doing to help.  I love all of you.

You never outgrow wanting your parents to be proud of you.  I am beside myself excited that my Dad is making the trip.  He is making some major sacrifices to make that happen and I just can’t believe it. Let’s take a lesson from locate, if *anything* happens, let’s just keep our stories straight: p in in all seriousness that fact that you are coming means so much to me J

Lindsey Cook making the trip to give me some help and some peace of mind.  Lindsey is such a gem of a human being, there is no one I trust more than you. You are so special and I am so thrilled to have you on my team.

Corina, you are always the one helping me keep my sanity.  I so appreciate you.  You are an endlessly thoughtful, generous, and true blue friend to me.  I just love you.  Thank you for your uncanny ability to know when I need an off color joke, or a shoulder to cry on, or help with the logistics and finances.  You are rocking shoulder pads in the corner office J  you are TESS MCGILL. I love you J

 

@BlindAmbition to Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

We tend to think that problems for the blind or disabled are widely different from the problems faced by the mainstream. The more I engage with the community for blind athletes and the parents of visually impaired children I see that the problems are more often so similar. Teaching independence, teaching work ethic / problem solving, teaching dedication / follow-through.  My intention is to suggest that the problems are the same, the solutions are largely the same, and even to say the expectations should be the same.

The past two days I have had the great opportunity to do some fundraising and awareness for Texas Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (TAPVI) as well as for the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA).  I am thinking back to everything I got out of participation in sport.  My improved body awareness, my increase in confidence, my overall improved quality of life. As I understand it these are the same benefits as participation in sports for any child.   I regardless of able-bodied or disabled sports teach accountability, work ethic, and follow through.

In speaking with TAPBI I hoped to impart some key learnings.  I wish I had been exposed to mainstream technology in my education system.  I do not mean the specialized braille note takers or devices.  I do mean laptops computers with screen readers; either windows with JAWS or MAC with voice over.  The technology needs to fit your long-term game plan.  Assuming your game plan for your disabled child is college then employment they will need tech that helps them communicate with a sighted world.

These problems are challenging enough without adding the added complexity of a device that is not understood by the mainstream educator.  The specialized devices create an additional barrier.  The sooner these kids can get on mainstream tech the biter for their long-term potential.   You adapt to the world, the world does not adapt to you.

I also hoped to impart the importance of the child learning to advocate for themselves.  I do not mean the parent advocating for the child, also important, but MORE important in the child learning to speak their needs and articulate why they need accommodations.

Finally I hoped to offer some comfort to TAPVI.  I understand having a blind / VI child can be a bundle of complexities.  I hear parents asking themselves am I pushing my child to hard? Am I not pushing them enough?    All I can say, as an adult with blindness, is that I am endlessly thankful for tough love.  Without some tough love I would not be resourceful and independent.   Get your kids mainstream tech, teach them to speak for themselves and demand the same treatment as any student, try to get them in some kind of sport / activity and I am certain in the future they will thank you too. As counter intuitive as it may be hold your child with blindness / visual impairment to the same standard you may be astonished at how far that child can go.

Thank you for all your support on my final push to RIO My USABA Athlete Development Account can be found Here.

Be known for what you *can* do

When I thought about training for the Olympics I visualized a training mintage. I saw the work, dedication, sacrifice, and endless hours in the gym…. All of that has been true.  What I did not know is the emotional depth of the experience.  I am even keel.  More accurately I *Used* to be even keel.  Now I feel all the emotions at once.  I am grateful, I am intimidated, I am hopeful I am nervous. If I am even keel today it is only because my emotions are equally strong in opposite directions J

My mind races with all the people to thank. There are the more imitate gratitude’s.  I am endlessly grateful to my coach, guide, USAT, #TeamCaf…. There are flashes of people to thank from long ago.  Gratitude to my track coach from Snohomish High School, Tuck Ginette (RIP).  Mr. Ginette was the first who saw me as an athlete.  I didn’t feel separate from the team as a lesser peace.  His encouragement was the first time I wasn’t fast for a blind girl, I was just one of the fast girls.  At the age of 17 I did not have sense enough to recognize how that change would inform the way I saw myself.  That was my first taste of understanding the difference between perceived limitation and a concrete limitation.

I was recently asked what I would tell a young person with a disability. Disabled, blind, sighted, able-bodied the same; the world around you is prepped and ready to define you by your deficiency. Offer the world some new information.  Serve up some examples of all the things you can do. Find something that defines you based on a strength.  Whatever it is that you feel is your strength make that a rallying point. This is not to impress others, this is to have a home-based for those moments when you’re discouraged.

 

 

Beach Cruz *OR* Die: ITU Magog

To summarize my weekend we have been through hell and back.  What I’m most proud of is that we worked together as a team to problem solve and overcome obstacle after obstacle.

Claudia shined in every occasion. She never expressed fear, doubt, or anything other than love of life and appetite for adventure.  She was an amazing guide, friend, confidant, and partner in crime (Misdemeanors and traffic violations mostly).  The past few days have been stressful, challenging, and befuddling but as I write this I realize more and more how we have had the time of our lives.

In spite of all odds, we raced well and posted strong times in all three disciplines.  I am more proud of this gold at ITU Magog than I am of any other previous victory.  We fought fought fought for this one.  We took this race to the octagon and we won.

Claudia is a treasure.  Her good spirit and good humor kept my sanity in a trying time.  I will always be thankful to have had her by my side. Thanks to Mark Sortino for all his help and as always thanks to all the ongoing support from Challenged Athlete Foundation.

Recently Claudia Spooner stepped up to be my fearless guide.  Claudia is a remarkably accomplished triathlete participating in power bar elite team, Watty Inc., having trained for Olympic Trials for marathon, and qualified for her pro card the past two years  All of her athletic achievements prepped her perfectly for the lunacy we were going to encounter in our attempt to represent Team USA at ITU Magog. A remarkable many of Claudia’s story have either reference or analogy from Princess Bride.

Our trip started with usual travel malady.  I arrived at the airport very early to check in the bike.  Have you ever traveled with your Grandmother and she insisted on arriving hours before it was necessary.  Well, I am kind of like that.  I am only like that when I have to check the bike.  I’m convinced there will be some problem.  I always end up waiting at the gate 90 min or more. Claudia encountered some turbulence with regard to a conference call conflict and found herself achieving Olympic qualifying sprint to the gate to make it just in time for the flight to be canceled L

While waiting for information I called our travel agent while Claudia vaporized, I have no idea where she went.  I discovered that our travel consultant was on vacation until Monday and no one would be answering the phones until 9 am PST which was in about 4 hours.  Leaving us without options.  I then received a frantic text from Claudia asking me to meet her at gate 15 as she got us on a flight. Claudia performs miracles; I still don’t understand how this was possible.

In an attempt to ease Mark Sortino’s nerves I sent a text to assure him we were safely on a flight.  I had a mish-mash with Siri and intended to say, “We are safely on a flight, see you in Magog” but really sent, “We are crashing on a plane now, I’ll keep you posted, I think to be crazy.”  To which he responded, “Great” because somehow someway he knew what I meant to say.

Upon our arrival to Montreal I was stopped by the Canadian customs.  I am stopped going into Canada every time, as I have been red flagged.   In 1996 dear old dad had a poorly timed joke with the customs agent heading into Canada and I have been red flagged ever sense.  They still interrogate me for at least 30 min.  They ask me crazy questions like “Who was governor general of Ontario district 217 in 1996?”  To which I offer a sincere blank stare and say “I have no idea”.  To be honest to their 30 questions I have maybe one or two answers and they are guesses.

While I was dealing with customs Claudia was dealing with our lost baggage.  And on to the next crisis.  Bike and both bags are nowhere to be found.  They assured us it would be in at midnight and they would rush it to our hotel 2 hours away in Sherbrook.  I was skeptical as they seemed generally apathetic.  We then went on a scavenger hunt of process and steps getting stamps from one guy to the show to another guy to then be released to get our rental car.  It seemed like everyone we talked to had one piece of the puzzle and you had to wait for the next step to be revealed.  Like we were expected to mature into leaving the airport.  You can’t just exit until you’re sure you’re ready to cross the threshold of the automatic doors to stay in Canada for 3 days and prosper.  Don’t rush into it.  You don’t acquire a black belt overnight it takes hard work, dedication, and deliberate practice as does exiting the airport.

Finally to the rental car with only our carry ons in hand.  We were about 2 hours later than we intended and about to try to navigate the mind craft that is Montreal roads under construction.  Sure enough we hit a detour about half way.  So began our wilderness farm adventure.  We were driving around one lane dirt roads with corn and cows on either side just trusting that our gaps understood our intent and we understood its direction.  There were no other cars, no signs, and nothing but meteors to guide the way.  Claudia saw a mediocre and was pretty excited.

Meteor sighting was as climactic as rats of unusual size. On several occasions I asked her “Are you sure…?”  She responds “Noooooooo.”  We proceed as we were beyond the point of no return.  We couldn’t go back if we wanted to. We finally arrive at the hotel just after 1 am.  We were worn from the trip but in good spirits.  We were laughing like children as Claudia searched up and down for the slot for the key.  I said “give me that!” and introduced her to the magic of RFID and swiped the key to release the door.

We woke up first thing to go gather our bike which we had been assured would arrive.  No bike.  Throughout the day we called over and over to find out its most recent sighting.  Every time we spoke to them they had a different answer.  Claudia mentioned she knew someone who was a retired Captain from American who may have some insight.  I was only paying 50% attention as I was reading on my computer.  I thought she said she knew someone who was a retired captain America.  I gave her a puzzled look to suggest “That is not a real job someone can be, it just isn’t, no one is captain America.  Besides between you and me, I think this is more with in Batman’s scope of influence.

Throughout the day it is starting to seem more and more like our bike isn’t coming.   So I say to me “What would Beyoncé do in this situation?”  I don’t think a Beyoncé show would be canceled just because of lost equipment or costumes and so is true for our race.   I called every bike shop in town and found a beach cruiser to rent.  This is a 50 lb. cycle cross hybrid tandem that was never intended to be ridden anywhere near a race more or less in a race.  You are not allowed to say “High Performance” in the same room as this bike as it would split the parallels of the universe and create a black whole.

Weight = 50 lb. + It’s like in Princess Bride when Butter cup says “We’ll never survive. “And Wesley says “Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

mg2

So we talk these guys into renting it to us on the condition that we add one of their stickers to the bike and ride it with the price tags waving the entire time.  We agreed as we were stuck.  Claudia seemed concerned justifiably so… so I asked “Which part of this are you concerned by?”  Because there were too many possible reasons to be concerned to just take a random guess. There were compounding concerns so I had to fall back on precision questioning.

We joked that in riding on these flat pedals with our running shoes we might have the fastest transition times ever.  As we go to leave it occurs to us that we can’t fit the bike in the SUV. I admit it…. When problem solving I yell out the bad ideas peppered in with one or two decent ideas in rapid fire.   I said “you take the bike, I’ll drive and hear GPS audio directions!”, “You drive yell left / right out the car!”, “Tie it to the top of the car”, among others.  Finally we both rode it back up a 60% gradient hill in flat pedals.  We borrowed one helmet.  I handed it to Claudia and said “You’re a Mom”.   Implying that I only have a dog and if we are going to die today I’d rather it is me.  We only have 4 miles to ride (uphill) but my confidence in survival is low.  Make peace and get the bike back to the hotel.

As we were riding I expressed that our only saving grace is that the way that we were dressed made it pretty clear that we never intended to be doing this.   In the words of John Maloney “I also don’t want me to be doing what I’m doing”.  I had on a yoga outfit and flip flops with all our documents wallets, and phones in my bra.  Not a sports bra that might have made sense, a regular clearance bra from Target.  Claudia had a running skirt and running shoes, remember we didn’t have a change of clothes. I’d rather people say “I wonder what happened?” than say “Those girls have escaped from an institution, call the authorities”.   There seemed to be people congregating.  I asked one of them what was going on.  Due to language barrier she expressed that it was the festival of show and amusement. Joel was kind enough to take the two of us (a pair of liabilities) back to the bike shop to retrieve our rental SUV.

mg3 mg4

The rest of the day was one problem at a time.  Piecing together kits, what can we buy at Walmart? can we tape our shoes to the bike? And on and on.  We were going to finish this race no matter what. . Join me in this visualization.  Giant heavy bright purple beach cruiser.  Kits out of whatever we could find at Walmart to then puff paint ITU on.  Whatever helmet I could find at Walmart.  Running shoes taped to flat pedals. Claudia and I attempt to seriously race this race.  Can you imagine that?   How could we be taken seriously?  It would be as if the man in black from Princess Bride ran for president.

At 9 pm the night before the race at least our bags arrived.  It was a relief as I had some key pieces in the bag.  Lesson learned anything I need for the race that I can fit in my carry on will go in my carry on in the future *Never Again*!!!

I then received a call to say our bike was on the way.  I said “I’ll believe it when I see it and I’m blind so that is never going to happen, so really I’ll believe it when my butt is on my own seat.”  They had no response.  –Snap- Who’s confused now?!?

Sure enough at 5:45 I ran downstairs to verify that my own bike was there.  Thank you Santa Clause.  The bike shop opened at 9 am. We arrived in the bike shop 30 min before they opened.  No time to lose. I started building my bike in the parking lot.  Claudia had been so curious to see me build the bike.  I need complete quiet to do this as it required a lot of concentration for a blind person to build a bike.  I don’t want anyone to move anything or touch anything.  Usually I insist on being alone for this process.  It’s like in Princess Bride when Count Rugen says “Stop saying that!”  Claudia tried so hard to be quiet.  She was pacing all around me telling me how good she was being at being quiet.  I thought it was hilarious.  I really do need to be on my own for this process.  My concentration demands are so stringent that little distractions are blown up.  I don’t think it reasonable of me to expect someone else be able to be that quiet.  I cannot tune out people moving because I here for space and movement.  It is hard to explain to sighted people.

As we are waiting the owners pull up.  In a word they were perplexed.   Claudia is pacing.  I’m filthy and asking her over and over to be quiet.  I had the handle bars on upside down.  It was a scene.  We then tried to explain our situation.  “I don’t look blind, but I’m blind, and I did my best, but it was not great, and we need your help, because we are running a race in an hour…. “And on and on.  It was a tribune of run on information.  They relented and fixed up the bike.

Next hurtle is we now can’t fit the tandem in the SUV.  So we flattened all the seats.  I laid flat with my stomach on the back of the front seat and my elbows on the back of the head rest so that we could put the bike on top of me.  Proving yet again we will do whatever it takes.  Claudia insisted that I at least buckle my seat belt such that if get pulled over we could suggest that we hadn’t understood the law.  Our violations per second were accelerating.

We show up to the athlete check in about 10 min before they closed.  We set up, did our best to familiarize with the course, and got ready for our swim.    Claudia started the race with nerves of steel.  We played this off like this is just how we do it every time.  We had a pretty strong swim.  Coach Natasha had spent some time with me this past week educating me on ways I can reduce drag in my wet suit.  Those small adaptations made a huge difference.  We flew through the bike course getting smoother every stroke.  We had a solid run with a small hiccup regarding a penalty.  I had taken off my helmet prior to racking the bike.  One of those were I knew better but honestly forgot.  All and all I was thrilled with our race.  There were a few that were disappointed that we didn’t race on our beach cruiser.  I myself kind of sort of wanted to prove myself on that cycle cross.  I just couldn’t imagine racing on that 50 lb. bike with price tags waving on flat pedals trying to make those tight turns.  We would have ruined our quads.  We would have compromised this whole week of training.  Thank god my bike arrived.

We had some fans in the audience. Our scene had attracted some attention in the parking lot of the bike shop.  So at least one of those guys came to cheer us on.  He is our biggest fan.  Thanks Andy new friend!!

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Immediately after the race we bolted to get our bike back to the shop to pack it up.  Same routine.  Face down with bike on top.   Chaos is our first, middle, and last name.  The guys at the bike shop were so happy to see us.  Like we were old friends.  They were skeptical that my bike could fit in that box but I confidently told them it could.  I said “How do you think we got it here?”  They looked at me with sincere befuddlement and said “Any way, any which way!”  With wild gestures that might be mimicking a tsunami or an earth quake. We will always be so grateful for the great guys at Planet Sports Magog…

We then were rushing to Montreal.  We hit traffic which was weird because why are people there at all.  Claudia told lots of stories of her experiences as a flight attendant.  I really need to see princess bride again so I can keep up a little better.  In Montreal the GPS and directions were nightmare on Elm Street.  We were so confused.  I had a psychic moment.  At one point I reached down, grabbed my purse, and held it to my chest.  A few second later I said to Claudia “I don’t mean to sound crazy, but for a second I thought you were going to reverse on the freeway.”  There was a bit of a pregnant pause.  She said “That is exactly what I was going to do.”  So funny!  I’m fine with it; I just didn’t want my stuff to get all over the floor boards.  We made it to the hotel safe and sound.  The second I exited the SUV my cane snapped in half with no explanation.  We stopped at a restaurant to ask for chop sticks to create a splint with some tape.  Before I knew it all there head chefs were hovering over my cane with chop sticks and cane in their full apron plus hat get up acting like they are performing delicate surgery in fixing my cane.  We shut that restaurant down by accident.

This race came together at the last minute and it was a miracle, it’s just like in princess Bride when Wesley comes back to life and finds Buttercup. I am so thankful for everyone’s willingness to help.  I am beyond thankful for Claudia’s undying positivity and good spirit.  I am thankful to Captain America for being alive in our imaginations.  I am thankful to Mark for all his help.  Crazy though it was we had a great weekend and a great race.  I honestly have not laughed so hard in years. As always proud to represent CAF Elite Team and Team USA.

A Fly on My Own Wall

I am practicing a new speech. I am finding one of the key elements is to reenergize intermittently, practice with distraction, and practicing gestures. I have joined Aim High toast masters here in Austin Texas to provide for opportunities to practice to work on my polish.

The humor of the rehearsal scene occurred to me mid speech.

I have a 4 x6 carpet I use as my practice stage. As I pace back and forth to practice movement and gestures Camilla adorns her position as my shadow. I walk from one side of the carpet to the other, so does Camilla. She immediately lies down on to jump but up for us to head the 3 feet to the North West corner of our carpet. This goes on for hours. She never gives up on keeping up (I love this little dog more every day).

To reenergize we take break dance breaks. Those of you familiar with my “hot stalls” know that what I really mean to say is from time to time I throw myself on the ground and roll around.

I practice with distraction by playing movies loudly in the background. My favorite most distracting garn to talk over is action films. So while heroes are walking away from explosions I do inspiring Camilla, Zoe, and any microbes that may inhabit our empty bed room.

Nana’s B Day

My Nana cried through Mighty Ducks I and II. If you questioned why she was crying she would retell the plot. She’d cry about the kid whose Dad came to the game for the first time, and for the girl who played with the boy’s team…. She cried for the kid who’s Mom worked two jobs but she managed to make it, and on and on. She was so heartfelt. She cared about everyone with marvelous sincerity. I ware her same rose oil. I derive tremendous comfort in having that little bit of her with me all the time.

For those who have known me in the year’s sense she has passed I don’t know how to describe how close we were. She was my strongest supporter, my closest friend, and always my partner in crime. She was fun. Always in all situations. She was beautiful even as she was in her late 80’s. She would always charm the people around her. She’ stays up with me until 4:00 am as I told her all the ins and outs of my little life.

I realized later that she often didn’t understand what I was doing as I embarked in a career in technology, but she was always behind me. I no longer feel that sick sadness that comes with losing a parent, but I can honestly say that I think of her every day. When things are rougher that others I wish for her presence desperately. I am so thankful for those who have filled her void, Sandy, Glen, and Aunt Janet and of course my beautiful baby sister. That being said in her memory it may be worth pointing out that it took 4 incredible people to fill her void.

I treasure every moment that I see her in my actions or mannerisms. Every year on her Birth day I sent pink roses. She loved them. A few years I ordered something different, or sent a gift. She really didn’t like my alternative gift attempts, she just wanted her roses. I don’t remember how old she would have been today, it seems irrelevant, and I will say I miss sending her the roses she loved. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to be as close as we were. She had a love of life that I haven’t seen in many people. Even into her late 80’s you could always get her to dance with the girls. I knew all the ins and outs of her life too s I was one of the few she felt comfortable talking about herself. My relationship with My Nana shaped me more than any of my other relationships as she so consistently unconditionally was loving. I do get a pang of sadness on her birthday, more than anything I just have a wave of gratitude for the years I had with someone more precious than most.

She was always terrified of technology. She would take copious notes on basic things, like how to play a cd. She would then tape the notes to the device. Even after all the notes were taped to the device she would still be so terrified of breaking something that she would never touch it again. Electronics were for taping paper to, nothing else. Se thought I was brilliant that I could play a cd. She bragged to her friends about it. She always had the phone somewhere weird, like under the bed. She’d answer a call, then for reasons I never understood put the phone back under the bed.

She would stay in her pajamas all day but go to painstaking efforts to ensure her pajamas and make up were well coordinated. Once I bought her a pink nightgown, is was all the money I had earned in odd jobs for 2 months, I found out months later that she hadn’t worn it. I asked if it was wrong size or something. She looked at me, cried a few tears, and expressed that she couldn’t ware it with her blue slippers and the lipstick she had was the wrong shade. So Sandy and I had to take it to the mall to find slippers of the appropriate pink. All the street musicians new her by name and they all lit up when she came around, everyone did. I could go on and on. She was wonderful. I don’t think she ever understood how special she was. I think everyone else undersood immediately.

Rock Infested Waters

Isn’t it incredible how “Brave” and “Stupid” kind of look a lot the same once in a while. Not the words obviously, but the actions. This Past Sunday Christopher and I embarked to explore Austin. I had been snagged up from a coffee shop so I really wasn’t prepared for a hike.

We walk and walk… We determined ourselves to be the most positive people who have ever taken a walk. We went on and on taking turns talking about what incredible thing we saw, what we love about this city, what is the best ever that has ever been….. We were high on the energy of Austin. We explored the green belt for a few miles. We found drum circles along the water, amazing rocks to climb, and lots of people out enjoying the incredible day.

We eventually decided to join this group that was jumping off a cliff that was 18-20 feet high. The day earlier we had been jumping off a 4 ft. rock into a big pool. We had so much fun with that the 20 ft. Rock was irresistible. Naturally I went up first feeling ridiculously (and stupidly) confident. I walked up to the edge, cowered at my fear of heights, tried to put on a brave face, walked up to the edge, and completely chickened out. I got to the edge enough to almost jump off; I even had jumped on one foot, only to hear every one gasp. Is it would turn out I was right over a bunch of rocks. Needless to say the roks were out to get me. I want to say it was my intuition that stopped me, but more accurately it was everyone else loudly gasping in fear for my safety.

Chris joined me at the top; he tried to play it cool as he realized how bad that could have been. Eventually he jumped. I calmed my nerves and jumped off a slightly lower 15 ft. ledge with a little direction on how to avoid rocks. I managed to jump with relatively safety. I acquired an ear infection, but all bones in one piece. Today’s mission is to find low cost health insurance. A person like me with questionable sense for “Safety” or “Well Being” shouldn’t be without insurance. In fact I should assign myself an adult supervisor in the interim period to ensure I don’t let these impulsive moments get the best of me. To be clear I jumped fully dressed, skirt, nice shirt, ET all. What a spectacle.