Friday, November 27, 2015
When I was not working in 2013, I would sometimes keep her home from day care to have what we called a "Meme Day." Just me and her, doing errands, everyday tasks, or, sometimes, something special.
Meme Days are my favorite. They are exhausting (I really have no idea how stay-at-home parents do it!), but they are incredibly worthwhile.
On Wednesday, we went to the office in the morning (she is a favorite among the police officers, although she is a favorite among anyone with the ability to see or hear) and then took a child-centric walking tour of the French Quarter that I cannot recommend highly enough. Then we had lunch at Tableau, where she had turtle soup, because soup is her favorite. The other children at our table were vociferously grossed out by her choice. I judged them silently until their parents chastised them appropriately.
She wants to be a chef when she grows up; we cultivate her culinary curiosity and are grateful to not have a picky eater, although I'm prone to believe that young picky eaters are a product of nurture more than nature.
Our Meme Day today started with cleaning from last night's Thanksgiving extravaganza and quickly improved into a holiday tea party at the Windsor Court. It's our third year for holiday tea, and it is always a special way to feel grown up. I asked if she wanted to wear a party dress, and she said she wanted to wear our matching dresses, which always thrills me.
I know my time is limited for her wanting to be like me, although I hope she never stops wanting to look like me.
After tea, we visited her daddy at work, and he took us to the park for lunch. Our Meme Day concluded with a Tinkerbell movie.
I am incredibly grateful for these moments. We only see her for half of her life, so I try to be very cognizant of taking away any of that half from my beau. That's why Meme Days are particularly special.
No little girl dreams of being a stepmom when she grows up, but, this week, potential future stepmotherhood looks promising, full of beauty and love and laughter. Thank you, #heartbreaker, for this reassurance.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Tis the season. We've got 11 adults and three children signed up for Thursday evening, and I'm excited to throw a party.
Every year, I ask people to bring whatever dish will make it feel like Thanksgiving to them, and I don't care if we end up with three corn casseroles. So far, our potluck sign up includes side dishes (sausage stuffing, asparagus wrapped in bacon, quinoa salad) and dessert (pumpkin pie, whoopie pies, chocolate something).
Stephanie O'Dea has never misled me, so I'm going to follow her recipe for turkey breast using seasonings from another recipe, because these days I am enamored of herbes de Provence, and my mom always used apple cider in our turkeys growing up.
I'm worried that one turkey breast isn't enough for all of us, so I think I'm also going to roast chicken legs after marinating them in avocado oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, smashed garlic, and herbes, which will render drippings for a complementary gravy.
I'm making mashed potatoes ahead of time, like Real Simple suggests. I'll also make cranberry sauce, subbing shallots for onions and vegetable broth for chicken broth, which I've tripled and made for nine consecutive Thanksgivings.
I love this recipe for oyster dressing, but I'm not sure we need two stuffings.
One of my friends/guests is a vegan; I will stir together a wild rice and mushroom pilaf (with parmesan cheese on the side for the rest of us) and will make simple sauteed green beans instead of my usual gourmet green bean casserole.
I may bake apples for dessert in the very simple style I learned on Whole30: slice and core apples, toss with coconut oil and copious garam masala, and roast at 400 until the desired level of brown. I could put those in the oven when we sit down to dinner, when the oven's done being used.
We still need appetizers. Any vegan suggestions? Child friendly bites that won't fill them up? Low labor intensity? No bake?
I hope that your meal is delicious.
I hope you share it with people you love.
I hope you have many things for which to be grateful.
I hope you feel satiated.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
This is one of my favorite poems. I read it every time I worry I've become the volatile couple... Which is pretty easy to do during the holidays, as I balance my desires/needs with his and hers and ours and theirs.
When a Woman Loves a Man
David Lehman, 1948
When she says margarita she means daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again," she means, "Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window."
He's supposed to know that.
When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park
is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.
When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning
she is asleep
he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed where she remains asleep and very warm.
When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, "We're talking about me now,"
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
"Did somebody die?"
When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water rushing over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.
Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?
When he says, "Ours is a transitional era,"
"that's very original of you," she replies,
dry as the martini he is sipping.
They fight all the time
What do I owe you?
Let's start with an apology
Ok, I'm sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying "Laughter."
It's a silent picture.
"I've been fucked without a kiss," she says,
"and you can quote me on that,"
which sounds great in an English accent.
One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it another nine times.
When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain
she's two hours late
and there's nothing in the refrigerator.
When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She's like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end.
When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.
Friday, November 20, 2015
It all started when I complained on facebook about how the worst part of being an adult is having to decide what to feed yourself. I was spending a lot of time menu planning, recipe researching, going to the grocery store, schlepping the groceries to my car, schlepping the groceries from my car... and then prepping everything, only to realize I needed three yellow onions, not two... so back to the store I'd go for the forgotten item(s).
This summer, we completed a Whole30, which meant a lot of time at the grocery store and in the kitchen. I'd keep lists of all of the protein + produce we had in the fridge to help prevent wasted leftovers (and to remind us of all of the good food we had to eat so that we wouldn't go hunting in the pantry for Goldfish!).
This got us into a routine of cooking at home, which saves money and calories. It also gives us some good quality time as partners. My beau's daughter wants to be a chef when she grows up, so whatever we can have a five-year-old help with (just about anything that doesn't involve taking something heavy out of the oven or knives) becomes a family event.
Enter plated. Garlic comes peeled. Spices come in premeasured baggies. Brussels sprouts come already shredded. Condiments come in tiny bottles. Very rarely does anything have to be measured - you just add the whole container of ___ to your pot/pan/mixing bowl.
We also tried blue apron and HelloFresh and found that plated was the best fit for us.
- We liked the recipes and packaging best.
- I liked the optional minimum of four meals. Sometimes all we can commit to is two meals cooked at home in a five-day period.
- They deliver in New Orleans on Wednesdays, giving us two weeknights and the weekend to prepare food.
- I like being able to know exactly what ingredients were coming so that I could modify/supplement; for example, if one night we're having a noodle-based dish, I'll make sure we have some frozen broccoli or fresh romaine on hand.
- We find the portions to be very generous; we order two plates and always have enough for two adults and one child and then typically have enough leftover for one or two lunches. (We both sit at our desks and eat lunch. A lot. A friend recently described this as eating "al desco," which I find hilarious.)
- The meals are relatively healthy. You know how many calories are in each serving and can portion accordingly.
- The animal products are all organic.
- The recipes are far simpler than the ones I typically make.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
It's the one my mother sang to me and my brother when we were little. I've sung it to her enough that she can sing along with me, although lately, she has not joined in as much.
Tonight was just such a special occasion, and I'm glad to share it with you
for blanket bay
won't be back til the break of day
cuddle up in your little white sheet
til all you see are your two little feet
and it's ships ahoy, and sail away
sail away little sleepyhead
and sail away
for blanket bay.
Monday, November 16, 2015
I've had two phone conversations today with friends who are in the beginning stages of divorce. Even when it's the right decision, it is never an easy one. No many how many times he has (not) hurt you, hit you, cheated on you, been noncommunicative, insulted your family or friends, frozen your funds, gambled your funds... It's not easy.
You want him to improve. You believe he will.
You can't believe you would have chosen someone so (in)capable of wrongdoing.
And yet you still go.
You know that staying with him means deserting you.
You know it's the right decision, even though it hurts your everything.
It breaks promises.
It confuses your child(ren).
It forces you to spend energy on yourself, which you've forgotten how to do.
But you go, despite how "selfish" it is. Because you know if you don't, in another emergency, you won't know to put your oxygen mask on first.
that particular time
my foundation was rocked
my tried and true way to deal was to vanish
my departures were old
I stood in the room shaking in my boots
at that particular time love had challenged me to stay
at that particular moment I knew not run away again
that particular month I was ready to investigate with you
at that particular time
we thought a break would be good
for four months we sat and vacillated
we thought a small time apart would clear up the doubts that were abounding
at that particular time love encouraged me to wait
at that particular moment it helped me to be patient
that particular month we needed time to marinate in what "us" meant
at that particular time
I've always wanted for you what you've wanted for yourself
and yet I wanted to save us high water or hell
and I kept on ignoring the ambivalence you felt
and in the meantime I lost myself
in the meantime I lost myself
I'm sorry I lost myself. I am.
you knew you needed more time
time spent alone with no distraction
you felt you needed to fly solo and high to define what you wanted
at that particular time love encouraged me to leave
at that particular moment I knew staying with you meant deserting me
that particular month was harder than you'd believe
but I still left
at that particular time
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Saturday, November 14, 2015
loved/important person in the world around my grandmother. It's just who she is.
She took writing classes when I was younger. She wrote stories, none of which I've ever read. She always encouraged my poetry. After I finished college, I perceived that she was incredibly sad that I didn't keep writing; at some point, my poetry would have been more difficult to share with her, because I stopped writing about happy things. It's much easier to write about pain: people will belittle your happiness, think you don't deserve it, begrudge you. Except for my grandmother. She thinks I deserve happiness even on my worst days.
My God is as big as I feel their love has been. I see love in them.
One of my favorite stories about them is from right after they got married. Grandaddy was working at his father's funeral home, and Grandmother was taking the bus to Sarasota (a 30ish minute commute at the time) to a nursing job there. She hated it: the commute, the coworkers, the being away from my grandfather. One night at dinner, she was particularly cranky, and Grandaddy said, "well, Eileen, I'm making $45 a week. Why don't you just quit?" She said, "I'm so glad you think so. I quit today.”
They lived above the funeral home until my mother was 8, when they bought the house they live in now: an acre on the Manatee River. They've since had to divide the land, because states that don’t have income taxes tend to have pretty stiff property taxes.
Their yard is amazing: trees to climb, trees to collect fruit from, trees that house birds and squirrels and flowers. They have a patio always set up for entertaining. It is the most lush place, an oasis for anyone's soul.
And it's right on the river, on a pier I have fished off of with my brother and father, watched one of two moonrises in my whole life, shared cuddles on with every extraordinary love I’ve had. That pier is a home/refuge I cannot explain. It’s self soothing to think about how quiet it is out there, watching stars and listening to fish jump and being a part of the earth's breath upon the shore.
I sleep in my mother's childhood room/bed when I'm here. It gives me space to dream; gives my soul space to stretch out; gives my heart room to try to love my mother better, to understand where she came from.
Friday, November 13, 2015
Je parle un peu de français.
Ce soir, je suis desoleé.
Je suis une personne qui aime le musique et le football.
Je suis une personne qui dîne aux bistros.
Je suis une personne qui aime les nuits avec amis, avec vin.
C'est le treizième novembre... vendredi. Et c'est la mort, pas la vie.
Je ne sais pas les mots pour... les mots je ne sais pas.
J'espère que le paix, pour l'amour qui triomphe, pour le dieu guérir.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
This needlepoint has been in my mother's childhood bedroom (where I will sleep for the next three nights) for as long as I can remember.
I have much to say on these topics, but I am very tired and wish to give them the time, words, truth they deserve.
May your dreams be sweet.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
I'm so glad I went.
I immediately spotted a woman from a women's mentoring group I belong to (that has sadly gone defunct); Facebook informed me this morning that today is her birthday. She was seated beside another woman from our mentoring group, and three other women were there, too (including the Vice President of the Chamber). The panel discussion centered on how women succeed, mentor, lead, balance. (Do they have panel discussions of well-accomplished men on these topics? Does any man ever present on behalf of any Chamber of Commerce on how he finds time for his family?)
Working women in the United States need mentors. This is not only for the thousands of reasons that women aren't CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that women in STEM fields are the vast minority, or that women leave the workforce after having had children in GIANT percentages greater than their male counterparts... it's also for the simple fact that women can be flat out mean to other women.
I worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly a decade. I basically only had female coworkers for a decade.
In that time, I ran the gamut of bosses. I will mix up chronology to protect the guilty.
- I worked for a woman who was given to our division so her boss no longer had to deal with her. She had never managed people or led a team. She knew nothing about our division's subject matter.
- I worked for one man who, to this day, has no idea what I am (not) capable of. (Line forms to the left.)
- I worked for one man had to resign due to his incompetence.
- I learned to be careful of my references: one woman told a potential future employer that I lacked maturity and would need professional and/or personal development.
- One woman taught me, by example, to give your subordinates great leverage to learn and accomplish a lot. If you trust yourself enough to hire them, then you trust them.
- One woman told me that however I had measured my past accomplishments, "whether as Homecoming Queen or fraternity little sister," I needed to improve, particularly my writing skills. Apparently, in the universe that had shaped her world vision, pretty girls weren't smart girls. Therefore, because I was pretty, I couldn't be smart, and I couldn't produce decent copy.
- She had been on my hiring committee. She had read my writing samples. She had enthusiastically chosen me.
- Her boss thought I was amazing and seemed to genuinely hate when they lost the grant that funded my position. (Hey jealousy?)
- This is a stereotype I continue to fight every day: I am both smart and beautiful, and it's completely possible for women to be both. We can have great ideas and blonde curls. We can write and speak really passionately - enough to raise over $500,000 in a year - while being 69 inches tall.
- The last thing any girl needs going for her is ugliness.
Women don't need just women mentors; we need good managers, of all genders.
I moved to New Orleans to work for a woman who I knew was a good manager. She hired for her weaknesses, which means that she hired people to do their jobs better than she could do it for them. And she expected us to hire people to do their jobs better than we could do it for them.
She knew that she couldn't offer us more money, so she sweetened our compensation packages with more time: greater professional development opportunities; more vacation (we didn't have to report it if it was fewer than two days); more sick time (if we worked any part of any day, it was not considered a sick day, so we worked from our respective couches with fevers because we didn't want to infect our colleagues, but we really liked our jobs); unlimited (within reason) hours to volunteer in our community; and flexible working hours.
We all completed and were trained in an Emergenetics analysis. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
These are all lessons I have carried into my subsequent professional roles and built into my employment manuals. They are the reasons that many people have asked me to serve as a reference for them while they job searched. They are the reasons I transform work environments from something toxic to something beautiful.
I pay it forward because I believe that there are enough mean girls in the world and that there is not enough kindness in the world. I also believe that people genuinely want to be fulfilled by their work and they genuinely want to perform well.
So let's change it. Let's treat each other with generosity. Be a good boss, regardless of gender. Fight to change your company's parental leave policies. Support men and women who take time to be with their families, who attempt to achieve balance, who are paid for every minute of their assigned paid time off, who eat lunch at their desks every day.
Trust the people you hire to do their jobs. And, if you don't trust them, let them go.
Monday, November 9, 2015
Grocery: eggs, produce, protein, vinegars. (Thank you, Whole30.)
To do: budgets, laundry, mastering homemade bolognese.
Best restaurants in New Orleans: what price point, neighborhood, cuisine? (I keep intending to make this post. It's not so much a list as a spreadsheet.)
Favorite television shows.
Best eyeshadow brands for blue eyed blondes.
Best hair products for curls, for little girls, for smoothing curls.
Favorite recipes for feeding a crowd.
Worst bosses. Worst sandwich ideas. Worst outfits.
Favorite Christmas memories, cocktail, George Clooney movie.
Why I applied to the colleges I applied to.
Preferred love language(s).
Things I talk about at work: sex, sex trafficking, and prostitution; how we improve ____; why we should manage tourism; and historic preservation.
Galas I'd like to attend/causes I'd like to support: practically endless.
So much chaos.
So little time to make sense of it all.
So many ways to try to love my neighbor.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
nov 14, 2002
Saturday, November 7, 2015
The city that never sleeps has kept me awake.
Our day included:
breakfast delivered to our hotel door
the Museum of Modern Art
fuku+ for the second-to-last lunch seating
window shopping at Omega
sitting prayerfully and lighting a candle at St. Patrick's Cathedral
window shopping at Saks
visiting a wine shoppe
watching a football team we like beat a football team we don't
Uber to Harlem
seeing their new apartment
eating at their neighborhood restaurant of cheesy carbs and chianti
drinking at their neighborhood bar of bourbon
jumping in a cab to the hotel
Maybe I won't sleep.
Maybe I shouldn't.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Man: Are you Emma?
Me: I'm Emmy.
Man: Hey! It's Tom. It's been awhile. How are you?
E (searching all recesses of brain to remember this human): I'm good! [feeling I needed to justify my yoga pants + sports bra at 9:30am] I'm working late tonight, so I've shifted my day to get a workout in this morning.
Tom: Well, um, can I get you a coffee? Oh. I see you have one. Let me just grab some. Do you mind if I join you?
E (seriously confused): No... ?
He had a beard. Could I remember a clean shaven Tom?
He was wearing a tie with regular khaki pants. Was he a teacher or professor I'd worked with at Tulane? No one at CASA had known me as Emmy, so I ruled children's lawyer or case worker out quickly. I also ruled out bartender, anyone I'd accidentally gone on a date with, and family member/friend of anyone I knew.
I was packing up my laptop when he returned, still trying to place him, wondering if I was going to be on time for class.
T: Emma, right?
T: Right. So, how long have you been practicing law?
E: Ummmmm... I don't? I work in the Quarter.
T (finally putting it all together): Oh.
Woman at the table behind us, with more than some irritation: *I'm* Emma.
She was curvier than me and a dark brunette of the olivy Italian variety. While I need my roots done, Lord only knows what her profile picture must have looked like for him to mistake us.
We were all really embarrassed, so off I went to class, grateful for the excuse to leave, grateful that unmade up me still had it, hopeful that Emma and Tom are a good fit for each other and will laugh about it to their grandchildren one day.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
I believe in a really big, loving, forgiving God.
I am one of the volunteers for an organization called World in Prayer. Each week, a member of the international team writes prayers for the whole world, highlighting current events. In my first year, I (randomly and way ahead of time) was assigned the weeks of the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing. I worried I was bad luck for the world, but it taught me important lessons in stillness during chaos.
Last week was my turn to write, and below is what was read as the prayers of the people in churches of many denominations across the globe.
Gracious and Good God, we come towards All Saints’ Day with darkness in our world and with hope for your light.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who healed individuals and neighborhoods. We pray for those angels among us: those who feed the hungry, comfort the aggrieved, and love their neighbors. We pray for the dying, the sick, and the hopeless, especially those who are alone in their pain and despair.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who improved the lives of children and families. We pray for families across the world who mourn the loss of children due to disease, malnutrition, and displacement. We pray for the families in China, where the one-child policy has ended. We pray for foster children and for their families. We pray for those who are unable to conceive.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who were travelers, who proclaimed your goodness, who founded communities, who were martyrs, and who brought peace into the world. We pray for South Sudan, where new reports of crimes against humanity are emerging. At least seven ceasefires have been agreed to and broken since conflict started in December 2013, and more than two million people have become refugees.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who were people of the cloth and people for the people. We pray for Nepal, which elected its first female president.
We pray for the saints who have entered your kingdom who were artists: musicians, poets, gardeners, teachers. We pray for the victims of school violence in Aberdeen, Scotland and in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Help our schools to be safe havens for children, staff, and families. Help our cultures of violence to become cultures of love.
Since last All Saints’ Day, many of us have mourned the loss of someone who was a saint in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones. May we feel their heavenly presence more than their earthly absence. May they be missionaries of your love and protection.
We have darkness in our world and hope for your light. Amen.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Last week, it meant leaving a meeting after dark and getting followed by someone creepy.
I am hyper vigilant about my surroundings, especially when I am alone. I have learned that the best way to politely (and safely) excuse myself from drunks/vagrants/unpleasantness is to duck into the nearest praline shop:
- They are well-lit.
- They are open late.
- They will offer you free samples, and pralines are delicious.
- They will deter anyone following you around.
I walked into the Magnolia Praline Shop and was greeted by two very nice male employees who seemed disturbed by my plight. They walked me to the door after a few moments, and they scouted for any potential wrongdoers. They watched me walk to the corner, where I had to turn (on a better lit street) to get to my car.
I stopped by the store today to speak with the manager about this above and beyond service, and now I'm telling you, too. Because I like to put compliments into the universe and to keep my people safe. And well-fed.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
It turns out that leaving your high school in your senior year makes you feel like you don't have a high school alma mater. This is particularly important in a city like New Orleans, where "where did you go to school?" always means "which high school did you attend?" It's a question that can answer what color, religion, and gender you are and how wealthy you were as a kid.
Yes, that's right: New Orleans segregates its parochial schools on gender and color.
I can't throw many stones, though; I had never been in a class with a black person until 12th grade.
But I didn't move away from the only school I had known to be in a more diverse setting. I chose to go to an all-girls' boarding school for my senior year because everyone I knew was having sex, drinking, and doing drugs. I was not interested in any of those things, so off my precious academic self went to a school that required I take Latin (!) but did not require me to wear a bra or anything fancier than pajama pants. It was the late 90s: there was lots of flannel and unwashed hair to go around, anyway.
I wanted to go to a high school that would prepare me academically for college, so instead of coasting through what would have probably been an extremely easy senior year, I moved 300 miles away from home. Bless my 17-year-old heart.
I cried every day until Thanksgiving. Every. Day. I was painfully homesick, and my parents wouldn't let me have a car until... I'm not really sure what changed their minds, actually. I think it was needing to get to my SAT or something. (Knowing 17-year-old me, I'm sure it was a very responsible sell.)
And then it was finals right after Thanksgiving and I spent my January term at home, and when I got back for my final semester, I only had four months to survive. My friend Jenny, with whom I have lost touch, said her father always said, "You can do anything for <period of time>. You can stand on your head for <period of time>." Jenny and I counted down the days until we didn't have to stand on our heads any longer.
When I got to college, I'd already gained my freshman 15, mastered homesickness, and shared small spaces (and bathrooms) with strangers. I knew how to study, write, procrastinate, live without a car (it disappeared again until my second semester sophomore year).
When people ask me, "where did you go to school?", I know they don't want to hear Wake Forest or George Washington. They want to know if I'm one of them or if I'm an outsider. They want to know if I can be trusted; what neighborhood I grew up in; and if I have any good stories about learning biology from nuns (I do, but they're my mom's stories).
What I want to tell them is that I don't really have a high school, and it still makes me feel lonely to think about sweet little 17-year-old me, sobbing every day for 3+ months because I missed everything I'd ever known, even though everything I'd ever known didn't feel right, wondering what was wrong with me and when I'd feel right.
My extracurricular activities became limited to the 300-mile drive home almost every weekend. I'd been Female Athlete of the Year in 11th grade; I only played one sport in 12th grade. Sundays became synonymous with leaving a place I was happy to return to a place I wasn't. Jenny and I would resume our counting.
And now I have car payments and student loan payments and no high stakes tests. I visit my parents' house, on average, once per year. I wonder if any of us ever stop questioning whether we're an outsider, if at some point we ever recognize "I have arrived!!!!!!"
Probably not. And, if so, I imagine I'll find a way to move into the unknown, the discomfort, the challenge, the new. It's who I've become and where I thrive.
Thank you, 17-year-old me. I'm sorry it was so hard. I'm sorry it was so lonely. But you're prepared to do great things, love deeply, and never take drugs.