The Year of the Cocktail

 “What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them.” -T.S. Eliot


It all started with a year-end reflection. A few questions about dreams and goals and closing the door on a pretty shitty winter. Albeit, closing the door while enjoying the warm bubbles of a hot tub and the cold fizz of champaign. Just two women trying to navigate adulthood through a cloudy winter in a city they both adored but wasn’t being a particularly good friend to them that season. 

It all started with a desire to grow. To foster relationships, move outside their comfort zones, and to invite others into the warmth they had been desperately trying to create. They had been building homes and shaking off their former selves. It seemed ripe timing to explore something new. To branch out. To brave this new season and chart a path that was aligned with a truer self. 

It all started with a single invitation. A few new friends. A few strangers. And a companion in the process. Growth, they knew, was never as scary when you held hands. And so it started.  


Monthly, without pause, and despite changing jobs and travels and new and old traumas, we committed our homes to these gatherings. Strangers became friends. Friends became lovers. Guests became family. All throughout the year, we brought one another together each month to laugh and cheer for the unfolding of our lives - with a cocktail in our hands.  

Over twelve-months, we achieved so many goals, and a few of those dreams, that seemed so far away that cold December day in that hot tub. A testament to friendship, support, companionship, and a little faith that things would turn around for our hearts. 

If ever I forget, please remind me that 2018 was the year of the cocktail. And what a glorious year it was.  

The Shame of it All (or, Making Sense of Misogyny)

"That was his response," she said.

"Wow, he didn't hear you at all..." she whispered in shock.


As a woman, there is no shortage of microaggressions we are exposed to on a fairly regular basis. Story after story can be told by women who find this behavior towards them seemingly expected. The #metoo movement made this clear for all of us, though the more egregious stories obviously stick out in our minds from what was shared around this movement. And rightfully so. Those stories are easy to cling to because it is easier to have rage around incidents that we notice as unacceptable and have not participated in ourselves (eg: aggressive sexual assault).

But misogyny is trickier. Its microaggressions are the ones that cause me, personally, the heaviest burden. Like a pinprick, they sting, but I can move on from them fairly quickly. What I've been realizing lately is that these small, insidious pinpricks of words and actions that demean me as a woman end up creating a tattoo of shame over time.

It seems that Kate Manne's article, "The Logic of Misogyny" really gets at the heart of this issue:

Because of women’s service position, their subordination often has a masked quality about it: it is supposed to look amicable and seamless, rather than coerced. Service with a smile, not a grimace, is the watchword.

This is the moment we have all experienced of a man telling us to smile, or worse, to reassess our attitude. This is the man that is made uncomfortable because we dress in heels and jewelry and exude unapologetic status and power in a situation where he believes he should be made to feel comfortable (not just the workplace, but also places like the grocery store, the coffee shop, or the airport). This is the moment we are talked down to or scolded because we aren't meeting the male expectation. Or worse, making him uncomfortable.

Manne explains all of this further:

Misogyny is what happens when women break ranks or roles and disrupt the patriarchal order: they tend to be perceived as uppity, unruly, out of line, or insubordinate. Misogyny is not an undifferentiated hatred of women—which, in light of women’s social roles, would make little sense on men’s part. Why would a man disparage the women looking up at him admiringly, or bite the hands that soothe and serve him? Misogyny isn’t simply hateful; it imposes social costs on noncompliant women, who are liable to be labeled witches, bitches, sluts, and “feminazis,” among other things.  

Recently, I had an unfortunate experience with what I can only describe as public shaming. Or, a misogynistic wildfire, if you will. A publicly posted personal account of a man's feelings around the fact that, because of what I viewed as incompatibility in communication styles, I decided that I no longer wanted to continue seeing him. This was a public retelling of our interactions strewn across a public space for all to see. And judge.

Again, I have to go back to Kate Manne's article. I cannot stress enough how much this relates to my specific situation:

From the inside, such bullying doesn’t feel like it looks, evidently. It doesn’t feel like unleashing one’s inner Trump in mixed company. Rather it feels as though one is simply standing up for oneself, or for morality, or for the downtrodden—like a moral crusade, not a witch-hunt. And it often feels as if one’s hatred has nothing to do with gender... In social and moral reality, such behavior is indefensible. But indefensibility is not the same thing as unintelligibility. It is not difficult to see why misogynistic aggression might coexist with progressive commitments. Many white men, including those who espouse egalitarian and progressive values—even those who pride themselves on being good feminists—have recently experienced a loss of power and status relative to nonwhites and white women. Some are in denial. And some are angry. Some are lashing out in grief cloaked in outrage.

What followed was a thread of vilifying responses. Publicly. In a space where I did not have a voice or a face. There was judgment. And shaming. And gaslighting. And while this person did not specifically say these things about me, he encouraged these notions through emoji affirmation (lots of hearts and praise hands). Men and women, alike, emotional catcalling to an invisible figure (me) based on my noncompliance in allowing unacceptable communication from this man. He later thanked these people publicly for supporting him. In truth, he was thanking them for this:

But women may also be prone to police other women’s bodies and behavior, elevating themselves in the terms of patriarchal values or signaling their loyalty to patriarchal figures (Manne).

Like the catcalling we all know and hate, this emotional catcalling shouted words describing me as overreacting, insensitive, and not communicating well (just to name a few). Unlike being called to by strangers who assert some opinion about my looks, what they would like to do to me, or demanding something from me, this struck me on a much more psychological level. This was catcalling about my character. But, the advances were equally unwanted, equally shaming, and left me afraid to respond in fear of inciting anger and thus more damage.

In the end, it is hard to come to any peace with this. But honestly, I think it is not only acceptable, but my right, to to speak out against this behavior.

I wrote and rewrote this blog post with a lot of fear about publishing it. I have to give a lot of credit to Kate Manne and her work and words around misogyny. Listening to a podcast she was on I heard her discuss the fact that, in our current world, men own misogyny. While women are the receivers of it, it is men who hold the power to push it down on the women around them. Ultimately, I felt like I needed to own this experience. Speak out. It was not without a lot of fear, and shame, and careful consideration.

But I own this experience. And I won't apologize for writing about it.

A Thin Line

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Don't be sorry. Just be better." And she meant it.


Empathy is an amazingly beautiful thing. It allows us to step outside of ourselves and place ourselves in someone else's situation. It can be hard. It is usually painful. But empathy connects and allows for incredible vulnerability. Unpresidented connections can be built from these moments. 

But what happens when empathy becomes about us? Seeking, craving, and grabbing for empathy for empathy's sake? Or worse, for our own self validation? 

The reality is that there is an invisible line between empathy and ego.

And the line, so hard to see, can be traversed without even noticing. And then it is not longer beautiful. It is just a shameless exploitation of others. Empathy is never for us. But if you find yourself seeking it out for your own gains, it might be time to be better.


Winter to Spring

“Is this crazy?” she asked.

“Of course it is,” she replied, “that’s what makes it life.” 


It’s been a little over three years since my marriage ended. I’m 32 years old and it feels impossible to know that I could have been married and divorced already in this lifetime. It feels impossible to know that I can live a completely different life. It feels impossible to even predict how life will change and unfold and hurt and be glorious in the future. Everything, most of the time, feels impossible and, yet, worth doing. 

The winter is never easy for me. Next week is daylight savings and I am practically marking the days off on the calendar in anticipation. Longer days. More light. Spring and growth and green and sun and, PLEASE WINTER PACK YOUR BAGS I AM READY TO BE DONE. I’ve already started to wake up on my own in the morning as the sunlight arrives as a natural alarm clock. It feels like hope.

Over the past three years I’ve learn a lot about myself. Most of it has scared the shit out of me. A lot of what I learned was undesirable. Yet, in some crazy way it has brought me closer to an amazing respect I am able to have towards who I am. In a lot of ways, the last year have been like a long winter. Some sun but mostly gray. It’s hard to move through a life knowing you got some shit to work out and being scared as hell to face it. It’s hard to live with regrets and guilt (oh, guilt? Seriously, fuck you). And it’s even harder to step up the plate when you know the work you have to do involves crawling deep inside yourself. Into the winter of your soul. 

But it feels like spring is near. 

Pockets of Joy

“I find you to be intriguing,” he said, with a smile. 

“I don’t consider that to be a compliment,” she lied.  


Life is full of small, short, moments. The kind so fleeting you may not even remember them as time passes. Moments that feel like a pin prick. Sharp. Shocking. All consuming. Then, gone. In a world full of all sorts of ways to representment ourselves, I think the small moments are most telling of who we are. 

In July, I took a seemingly innocent trip to a second hand store to search for a mantle for my new house. My home has an incredibly majestic wall, and I despartly wanted to install a mantle. While rounding a corner, I came upon a fleet of pianos. Aisles and aisles of pianos. Right in the middle, a broken, red piano cried out to me. I loved it. I lamented my love for this piano. In a small moment, I said, “I want this piano.” In the next small moment, he said, “We can make that happen.” 

The piano now lives in my home, thanks to a now stranger but once lover. Our moments ended but that piano lives here with me (seemingly forever because this beauty is heavy af).  

It is a fascinating thing to learn something completely new as an adult. To have to be taught like a toddler, having no sense of how something works or how to teach yourself to be better. This piano, each week, is teaching me about humility, patience, exhaustion, presence, and joy.  

In many way, this piano serves as a metaphor for my adult life. The reckless love, the regret once realizing how broken it was, the sense of fear I’ve felt in trying to learn and understand it, and the awe I am in when I watch its ability to produce happiness in others. 

Being an adult, for me, is about recognizing the joy that exists. Not being so greedy that I want more. Not being so scared they aren’t big enough. Not being sad they aren’t more. And not being selfish enough to sabotage them. Just sinking into to those small moments and being thankful they exist. Being an adult is about making sure my expectations of myself are right-sized, not overshadowing or washing-out the small, tiny, pockets of joy.