Random Thoughts

[ NOTE: I wrote this in Australia and hit publish as I boarded the plane, but apparently it didn’t quite publish. Hah! So I’m home now and I just updated the post and am hitting publish again. ]


I think it’s about time for a Random Thoughts post, right? Here’s what’s on my mind at the moment.

– Hello from the future. I’m writing this from the Sydney airport. It’s almost 5:00 PM on Monday. I’ll board the flight in about an hour, and I’ll go back in time, arriving in San Francisco at around Noon on Monday. What a remarkable trip this has been. I took about a million photos, 30% of which are shots of the Opera House — I tell you that building is irresistible. And Ben Blair is headed my way with one last Iced Chocolate to enjoy while we wait. I’m excited to give you a report of the whole trip — including details about my presentation and panel at the Feminist Writer’s Festival.

– Because I’ve been in tourist mode, I’ve mostly not been checking-in to my usual news sources, but every time I do my heart rate speeds up. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but like many people, I’m feeling quite emotional about tomorrow’s election.

I feel so hopeful when I read statistics about the number of young people who have participated in early voting, or are planning to vote tomorrow. I have LOVED seeing my Instagram feed full of friends who are block-walking, texting, and phone-banking to get out the vote. But I also feel a good dose of dread that despite all the work, and despite a huge increase in number of voters, that somehow the whole thing will go south.

What kind of influence has systematic Russian interference had on the mid-terms? Have you seen the NYT report of how prolific fake news stories are on Facebook this election cycle? Have you followed the voter prevention stories in places like Georgia and North Dakota? Ugh.

– I loved this thread from a historian talking about the sacrifices — even just since the modern civil rights era — that have been made to make voting accessible to all. It makes me grateful for the opportunity to vote, and I’m excited my two oldest kids can vote tomorrow as well.

Will you be voting? Do you have any kids old enough to vote? Have you had time to study the issues that will be on your local ballot? Olive has been helping us study our local options.

– For the first time in many years we won’t be having Thanksgiving dinner at our own house. We’re headed to San Diego to have Thanksgiving with my siblings and my mom. We wanted to have a gathering to celebrate what would have been my parents’ 50th anniversary. We’re all staying at a hotel and ordering in for the Thanksgiving feast. I’m simultaneously looking forward to having the day off from cooking and hosting duties, and already missing the leftover pie. : )

Are you hosting this year? If yes, is that exciting for you? Or do you find it stressful? Maybe somewhere in-between?

– Remember the amazing house we lived in in France? Called La Cressonniere? Well, when we moved in, the couple who owned the house — Hugues Sineux and Denise Anderson — moved to Sydney. He’s French, and she’s Australian. They originally only planned to stay in Sydney for a couple of years, but they’ve ended up sticking around. During our trip, Ben Blair and I got to hang out with them — and it was the first time I met them in person! Such a fun thing. It felt like meeting old friends — we had all sorts of shared experiences to talk about, but it was the first time ever being all together. Their college-age daughter Josephine came too. They picked us up early, took us on a coastal sculpture hike, then we went to breakfast, and visited a local street market (I bought wrapping paper and earrings).

I’ll tell you more about our adventures when I report on the trip, but am still feeling so lucky that I got to spend several happy hours with them.

– Throughout the trip, I felt so grateful for everyone who was helping at home. Trying to take a trip as a couple is so challenging! It’s easy to put it off, or not go at all. There are so many family-life details that have to be communicated and taken care of. I travel alone for work, and Ben Blair travels alone for work, quite a bit. We share the parenting duties pretty evenly, so heading off on a trip with just one of us is no problem at all. But when it’s both of us, holy cow. It feels overwhelming! It’s worth it, but it’s hard to prep for.

And it’s hard for the kids too — it can mess with their schedules and feel like a big emotional burden. But our kids were so supportive and helpful. Olive made a playlist of some of my favorite songs and made sure it was downloaded on my phone so I could listen to it on the plane if I was feeling stressed out. She called it Mom’s Comfort Songs. Maude promised she would come home for trick-or-treating to make sure everything went smoothly — and braid wonder woman’s hair if needed. You might remember we have two friends from France visiting, and they’ve never been trick-or-treating, so we wanted to make sure it was a fun night. As we landed, we got a text from Ralph that he was on the way to the airport to pick us up. We were planning to jump in an uber, so this was a nice surprise.

– Our dear friend Audrey came to stay while we were gone. She was chauffeur, she helped the kids keep to their regular schedule, and she made sure there was dinner. She brought her super charming 3-year-old Brynn, who kept everyone entertained. She knows our kids super well, and she knows our family culture, and she’s just the BEST. We’ve brought her to our home to care for the kids for many, many years — since we first moved to New York! I don’t think we would have been able to make this couples trip happen without her help.

– My three youngest kids — Oscar, Betty, and June — are performing in Scrooge the Musical on Temple Hill again this year. It will be their third time — and I think the final time this show will be done for awhile. I heard the production team is planning a break for at least a couple of years, so if you’re local, now’s a great time to see the show. Oscar will be reprising his role as Tiny Tim — which includes a big solo song! You can find info here. The tickets are free and the performance is excellent — there’s even a live orchestra.

That’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to my random thoughts, or you can leave your own random thoughts in the comments. I always love to hear what’s on your mind.

P.S. — More random thoughts.

15 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. I find your posts that note the stress and helplessness of our time, while finding the wonders and joy of being alive. I too am almost afraid to be hopeful…which is a difficult place to be. Thank you for being able to honor both parts of your life. It helps while waiting to see what unfolds tomorrow.

  2. How exciting to meet the owners of your French rental home. I’ve been wondering so much about the home you bought in France. Any update on that and what you plan to do with it? :-)

    1. I had the exact thought – I’d love an update on your French home! Especially after reading David Lebovitz’s book about the terrors of renovating an apartment in Paris, I’m so curious about your experience in the French countryside.

  3. It has been great to see you and Ben Blair enjoying your Sydney visit. I’m always envious of the beautiful harbour and close by beaches. Not to mention all the fantastic food choices. Glad you got to try a ‘Golden Gaytime’ ice cream, they are very popular here in Oz :)

  4. Worried about elections. (Wish I could feel hopeful – we have a humdinger of an election in our state, with such an awful choice you can’t believe it’s competitive…but it is.) Excited for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Already tired from just a few months into the schoolyear (I have no driving children yet). Wishing my husband & I could take a couples trip, but we have one with autism, which makes a trip seem impossible, and dinner out a fantastic luxury (which we do get to do). Interested also to hear about your property/house in France? Wondering if any of the coats still fit & who needs a new one. Happy for the time change! Fingers crossed that tomorrow truly is a better day. Thanks Gabby for letting me vent!

  5. Your trip looked AMAZING! I’ve been dying to go to Australia since college, when a friend and I planned to study abroad there. She decided she couldnt be away from her dumb boyfriend for that long, and I didn’t want to go alone, so we scrapped the whole idea. I so regret that now!!

    Curious if you’d share with us what’s on “Mom’s Comfort Songs”?

    1. Hi Louise, for about 2 weeks around Oct/Nov is “Sculpture by the Sea”, a free, public exhibition of sculpture along the coast from Bondi Beach to another beach nearby. There is a bit of walking involved to see all the artworks, hence the hike. If you search online I’m sure you could see pictures.

  6. Loved following along on your trip via your Insta stories. It looked amazing!

    I voted this morning. My polling place was busy but not packed, although I know of others in my neighborhood where there were lines already. I hope it stays busy all day all over.

  7. I’m glad that Ben got to accompany you on the trip! My state of Washington is entirely vote by mail. I don’t understand how people in other states put up with waiting in lines to vote! Talk about restricting voting…I’m sure it’s near impossible for folks on hourly wage or with multiple jobs and/or families to care for to make the time. I’m surprised kids as old as yours are still trick or treating. By the time my boys were in middle school, if they wanted to dress up I let them invite friends over for a party. Like other commenters, I’d love to hear about your place in France too. I remember you said it had depreciated and that the costs to renovate might not be worth it. I haven’t been to Australia, but spent three weeks touring New Zealand via motorhome. It was lots of fun and still so wild and free. Seeing children get off the school bus barefoot and so many sheep! Hoping we have good news today…

  8. “Mom’s Comfort Songs” – gosh that really choked me. Sweet daughter, sweet title, sweet gesture. Aren’t kids the greatest?

  9. Thanksgiving. Ugh. My in-laws moved near us and my family already lives close. Now we have to find a way to please both families for the first time in our marriage and it’s nearly killing me. We have even toyed with the idea of leaving town with just our small family so we can avoid everything all together. It shouldn’t ever be this hard. Blah.

  10. I’ve been so nervous that I’ve been avoiding media all day and my husband just turned on the news. Coming here to distract myself.

    Gabby: Welcome home! Your trip sounded just wonderful. I’m curious to hear what your visiting French friends thought of Halloween?

    Fingers crossed everyone!

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