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10 Years Later...

This is for Kate because she told me she still reads this blog and I want to make this worth her while, poor kid. So I've been perseverating on a topic. Here are the front runners: 1. The importance of a good vocabulary / writing skills in life 2. Books you must read now and why 3. The life-changing benefits of meditation 4. The life-changing magic of tidying up (thanks Marie Kondo) 5. Why the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone fixed the whole ecosystem of the region 6. The power of delayed gratification 7. How the Kardashians created the maddening vocal fry syndrome and made a whole generation of young women sound like raging, witless idiots I'm sure she's running for the hills, or a boba tea, about now. So, I'll ask her directly. What would you like to read about Birdy?
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Birdy

I love my daughter.

Last night we went to Cheesecake Factory in Palo Alto and sat at usual table by the window. We ordered our usual stuff and did our usual thing: which is to make each other laugh.

Katie downloaded the "Fatbooth" App to my iPhone and took a picture of herself that she then "fatified." Then she texted it to my fiance, Kevin, who was down in Anaheim with his son. "Look who's excited to be at Cheesecake Factory!" she wrote underneath her morbidly obese photo.

I laughed until I cried.

I have always loved Katie. I loved her when she was little: From the second she opened her newborn blue eyes and excitedly took in the world around her, to watching her drive her Smurf car--naked--in a continual loop around the kitchen and family room, to pedaling her in a Burley at Sun River Oregon, to holding her in a backpack at Costco while she whacked my head, to watching her wrap her "abba" or blanket around her neck at Tahoe to stay warm.

And …

JoAnn

"It is my o-pinion..."

I heard those words hundreds of times in the 18 years I knew JoAnn Costello, my therapist. And I was always grateful to hear them, because they usually preceeded some general truth about life, some specific advice based on her own personal experience, or some intuition (which was always right).

JoAnn died of cancer on Dec. 30, 2011.

I will miss her spirit, her spunk, her smile, her intelligence, her humor, her turquoise eyes (as described by a friend at her memorial today), and her hip Italian shoes, but mostly I will miss JoAnn's influence in my life.

When I first went to JoAnn in 1993, I felt paper-thin. I was sensitive, supremely self-conscious, and doubted my own thinking and abilities. Every nerve felt raw and exposed to the world. JoAnn heard my story and said, "Of course you feel that way. It makes total sense to me."

As healing as those words were, JoAnn was not one to simply shine you on. She was not warm & fuzzy. But you knew tha…

It Can Happen to You

My dog Sophie sat under the kitchen table for years, with great, unflagging optimism. I would marvel at her evergreen hopefulness, as she would lie belly-down on the hardwood floor, looking up with patient brown eyes at the underside of the table on which that night's dinner lay. Years of evidence to the contrary, she would wait perfectly still for that magical moment when the pork chops would levitate from the table, hang in the air for a few seconds, then drop to the floor with a juicy thud. Sophie's eyes said it all: "It could happen."

Then one day, it did happen.

My mom had come to San Francisco and wanted to go shopping at Union Square. She put a pot roast in the oven, turned the heat to low, and said it would be fine for a couple hours. Long story short, we spent more time than planned downtown. When we got back to my flat on Cesar Chavez street, I ran up the stairs to try on my new shoes while Mom ran up to check on her pot roast, which by now had been roasting …

The Party Dress

Phone call with my friend Sharon last Friday at work:

Sharon: "What are you doing this weekend?"

Me: "Um. Let's see...Tonight I have a Christmas Party. My neighbor and her "original founder of Yahoo" boyfriend are throwing a big holiday event in Cupertino. I'm going to go home and shoehorn myself into my outlet center sparkly party dress that makes my ass look like a bag of hammers, drive down to Cupertino in my 2000 Toyota Sienna, then load up on baked brie en croute while making small talk with 48-year-old women who look like Victoria's Secret models. What are you doing?

Sharon: "Nothing that fun..."

While driving home from work, I prayed. "Help me to be less jealous. More grateful. Less fearful. More accepting. Less judgemental. More loving."

I angsted about that party all week. Perseverated, really. I had vividly imagined two hours of feeling undereducated, underyoga-ed and underdressed in my On Fifth frock. Instead? I had a love…

Obon for Mrs. Edwards

I'm sitting here in my cubicle, watching the cars drive by; watching our IT manager brave the rain in a noble attempt to get some winter exercise.

And I marvel at the ordinariness of their driving and walking. I wonder how, knowing that Elizabeth Edwards died from breast cancer yesterday and that millions of women will die from the same disease, they can drive and walk with what seems like pure oblivion.

I wondered the same thing, when as a mom who had just returned to full-time work two months prior, I listened on the phone at work to my radiologist gently tell me that my ultrasound/biopsy revealed the fact that I had 10 lumps in my right breast. "Infiltrating lobular cancer," she said. Not, "Infiltrating lobular carcinoma." I listened as I stood in the corner of the stairwell by the elevator. I listened as I watched someone drop a pat of butter on the carpeted floor as they walked back to their cubicle with their lunch. I listened as I watched the receptionist…