My Thanksgiving with George Clooney

Photo by chelseachronicl

Poor George. He flew all the way to California in cargo. I’m sure it isn’t how he’s used to traveling. So he was a little cranky this Thanksgiving in Northern California, where the weather was perfect and my sausage and apple stuffing was divine.

Dad thought he could out-gruff George, but that didn’t seem to go over well.

Photo by chelseachronicl

    So then we tried a softer approach. We opened a lovely chardonnay from Nickle and Nickle. I offered him a taste. But he declined.

    Photo by chelseachronicl
    Even by the end of the wine-fueled night, when it was time to take a photo with my brothers and our significant others, he didn’t crack a smile. He didn’t even hold me particularly close.
    Photo by chelseachronicl

    If George Clooney continues to act this way, he just might get left behind in Hawaii, whether My Night with George Clooney becomes a roaring success or not.


    on being thankful

    My friend Nancy has this nice little tradition on Thanksgiving. As we sit around the dinner table, in lieu of saying grace, and before we stuff ourselves silly with enough food to feed a small nation, we each share those things, tangible and not, for which we are most thankful.

    Yes, it gets sappy. But there’s no better time to tell those around you that you are grateful to have them in your life than when you are poised to shove a gazillion calories into your system.

    I won’t be with Nancy for Thanksgiving this year, but it wouldn’t be the season if I hadn’t been thinking about my list.

    I’m thankful for beautiful, challenging, intelligent, funny children who bring me great joy, even when they are exasperating.

    I’m thankful for good health, even if I complain about aches and pains once in awhile.

    I’m thankful for a career that allows me to work on issues I care about and be surrounded by smart, innovative thinkers.

    I’m thankful for a community of dear friends whose strength I draw from, whose love I rely on, and who make me laugh during even the most stressful of circumstances. They’re also good at giving a good kick in the pants when one is needed and offer a shoulder, shelter or a glass of wine when that is what the situation necessitates.

    And since I’m not limited by having someone sitting next to me at the dinner table waiting to go next, allow me to continue. I’m thankful for my family. An imminent vacation in Hawaii. Good wine. Nice shoes. Clean water. The right to vote. George Clooney. Freedom of the press. A perfectly crisp fall day. Public education. Paved roads. The laughter of children. Dark roast coffee. Baseball. Truffle salt. The calm before the storm. Cashmere. Nice people. Healthcare. Snow. Purring cats. Songs you know the words to after years of not hearing them. Good kissers. Gin. Shooting stars. A riveting book. End of the day meetings that get canceled. Salted caramels. Ibuprofen. Good hair days. Sunsets.

    And that’s just off the top of my head.


    leg one

    I made it to San Francisco, the first stop of my  nearly three-week journey.

    But about this time yesterday, it seemed improbable I would ever make it.

    My Sunday morning started off nicely. Lattes with friends. Children playing quietly. But then I got a call from my bank, concerned about “unusual behavior” on my account. As in, “iTunes, $9.98. iTunes, $9.98. iTunes, $9.98.” I stopped her from reading the complete list after I heard about ten such charges. (It turned out there were 17 in all, totaling $170.) I had to make a game time call. Confirm for the bank that these were unauthorized charges and have my card canceled or eat the cost. At the time, I didn’t know if someone had stolen my iPad or Colin’s iPod touch. But it was clear that something was amiss. So I canceled my card. The day I was leaving town for 18 days.

    As it turned out, some game Colin was playing was rigged so that players “buy” gold – literally. He never had to put in an iTunes password or otherwise verify a purchase. Needless to say, I immediately deleted my account information from all our Apple devices and he will never play this game again.

    With all this on my mind, I still had to shower, finish the laundry, pack, clean out the refrigerator, get the cat feeding schedule straight and take out the garbage. It was in performing the last task that I realized an animal had taken up residence in my outdoor garbage can. I saw it, let out the perfunctory squeal, jumped up and down a lot, and ran inside to tell the boys. I thought it was a dead raccoon. They went to take a peek and verified it was a live possum, playing dead, of course. With the militant precision of little boys on a mission, a plan was hatched to knock the can down (nerf swords in hand in case it got fierce) and eventually, the little furry guy stopped faking his demise and scurried off.

    At this point, I poured myself a drink.

    I double checked the burners on the stove. Refilled the cat bowls one last time. Kissed the boys a gazillion times. And finally, got in Nancy’s car for a surprise ride to the airport. At the airport, I had more wine and took deep breaths.

    The only other hitch came as my flight was landing, parallel to another plane. That was a little creepy for someone with my flying phobia, but at this point, I felt I had hit my daily quota of crazy and told myself it would be fine. Which it was. And now I’m here. Working, of course, and hoping that I remembered to lock the front door.

    denim bar


    Whereas I hate to shop for bathing suits, I love to buy jeans. I especially love to make the trek to the Denim Bar in Arlington, the place where I have bought most of my jeans over the last eight years.

    Why do I love it?

    First of all, every time I have shopped there with the exception of the time I went with Nancy, I’ve had no fewer than two people helping me. (Sometimes I wonder how they stay in business, because I hardly see other shoppers there.) And when I say “help” I mean someone who will check out your ass and give an honest opinion on whether or not the garment is flattering. Yes, we can consult the three-way mirror, but it’s so much better to have someone say, “wow, you look great in those” or “hmmm… I think you can do better.”

    Sadly, my very favorite pair of skinny jeans just hit the point of retirement and my second favorite pair needs the same treatment. Skinny jeans and riding boots are a staple for me in the winter, so this was not an acceptable condition for me, and I especially wanted to make sure I had a pair to bring on my California-Hawaii three-week tour.

    I’d had a lunch meeting in Alexandria on Tuesday with my former LD (and devoted male reader of the blog) and suddenly found myself driving by Pentagon Row. There was a parking spot right in front of the store. It was meant to be.

    I walked in and gave an overstatement of the obvious.

    Me: Hi, I need new jeans.

    Denim-ista: Uh-huh.

    Really, she was very helpful and patient as I tried on every pair of skinny jeans in my size in the store. And really, the jean trying on process, more than any other item of clothing, really does require one to actually try them on. You can’t just walk in and say, “I’ll take a pair of bootcut jeans in a 27.” There were some pairs that I couldn’t get past my knees. Some that I could stick my fist in the waistband. And of course, true to form, there were two pairs that were just right.

    Just right except for the fact that they required hemming, but in addition to ass assessing, they do that there too.

    I managed to pick them up today, in spite of a very busy day. And here they are.

    Ass shot to come. Or maybe not.

    I bought a white coat…

    Photo by chelseachronicl

    What was I thinking?

    I have coveted a winter white wool coat (say that five times really fast after a cocktail) since my friend Jackie had one in high school. But back in the day, living in New England with its slushy sidewalks and black tinted snowbanks, it never seemed like a practical purchase.  Who am I kidding? It isn’t practical now, given that I’m responsible for two messy little boys and three furry (shedding) cats. But the other night, after finally hitting the “publish” button on My Night with George Clooney, I was seduced by a J. Crew 25% off sale. I deserved a reward. So, I indulged.

    And it’s gorgeous.

    I already have all sorts of new rules. (Like I need more rules in my life.) No more drinking coffee in the car. No sitting down on the metro. No getting within reach of a glass of red wine. I’m sure more restrictions will come to me. I just hope I don’t realize them too late. But then again, making more frequent trips to the dry cleaner is a goal on my 43 by 43 list, so perhaps being the proud owner of this coat will provide extra incentive to fulfill that task.

    on bikinis and such

    I’m just going to admit it.

    I don’t hate myself in a bikini right now. (Thank you, Biker Barre!)

    In fact, I so don’t hate myself in a bikini that I ordered five for my upcoming trip to Hawaii.

    This’s not to say that I wasn’t more than slightly stressed about making these purchases. My friend Katie told me that the best bathing suit she has ever owned came from Target. I took her advice and ordered several mix and match pieces for a grand total of less than $35. I kept three interchangeable components: two bottoms and a top. Because the available sizes and colors were limited (at $6/piece, most of the stock had been snatched up) I also ended up ordering additional suits from J. Crew and Zappos. The one from Zappos was returned, as were some of the components from J. Crew, but now that I know what styles I find flattering and styles not, this whole bathing suit thing feels a whole lot easier.

    But that’s not all I need for 12 days in Hawaii. While I admire how some of my friends look in shorts, I can’t carry them off with even an ounce of confidence. Rosanna totally rocks a tomboy look. DC Celine can pull off the dressy short. And Wardrobe Oxygen is so rock and roll in her cutoffs. But shorts are not in my comfort zone, whereas skirts and dresses are. Luckily, even though it’s early for resort wear, I managed to find a non-budget-breaking convertible skirt-dress combination (the tag demonstrates seven ways to wear it) at Nordstrom. I bought it in three colors. I also found a cute basic black pareo at Lands End and already own many large scarves that will perform similarly and pair nicely with the bikini colors I chose.

    Now the next step is figuring out whether all my items fit in my suitcase once I add shoes (shoes, glorious shoes) and five days worth of clothes for San Francisco. Clearly it is not going to be bathing suit weather there.

    I asked out the doctor…

    For those early readers who followed my every back brace constrained move in the styling my back brace days, you’ll remember with great fondness my miracle doctor. Several of you actually suggested at the time that I date said doctor, with whom I always had a good (borderline flirty) rapport. I scoffed at such suggestions because it seemed too much like mixing business with pleasure. I mean, I needed him to fix my back. Plus, on the awkward side, this guy has seen me in a hospital gown, several times. He saw me in tears more than once too. He inserted really sharp needles into my back. And I’m pretty sure that in doing so, he’s already seen me at least partially naked. Not to mention this is the very doctor who made me wear a back brace for more than two months.

    Almost a year has gone by since I’ve had an appointment with him. Randomly, we recently connected on LinkedIn. We had a little email exchange about whether or not I should purchase a Living Social coupon for flying trapeze lessons. (He advised not.) I sensed the same energy that we had in the examination room coming through over our emails. I started thinking about how it’s Month of Chelsea and one of my goals is to take more risks. I just published a short story. How hard could it be to ask out the back doctor?

    So I did.

    I received an email back from him a few days later. Of course a divorced doctor under 40 who doesn’t live with his mother just started seeing someone. I totally get it. You snooze, you lose in this town. That isn’t to say that I’m not still a tinge disappointed. But rather than be sad or feel rejected, I’m proud of myself for going after what I want instead of waiting around for someone else to give it to me.

    That, my friends, is what Month of Chelsea is all about.

    My Night with George Clooney

    I did it. My short story is ready for the world.

    Click here and you can read of it for yourself. You might even be able to do so at lunch, depending on how much time you get to take. In fact, you should start reading it at lunch or on your metro ride home tonight or first thing when you wake up in the morning. (I will cut you some slack that you might already have Friday night plans.)

    This is an electronic book, published by Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program. But you don’t have to own an actual Kindle to read it. All you need is an iPhone, iPad or android or any other device that is compatible with the Kindle app. The app is free, so if you don’t have it, go download it now.

    Before you cough up the $2.99 to read my story, I thought I’d give you a little description of what to expect.

    My story is:


    Better than 50 Shades of Gray.

    My story is not:


    Porn. (Sorry.)

    And you can enjoy it for less than the cost of a tall latte at Starbucks, 1/7 the cost of a one-class pass at Biker Barre, and 1/166 the cost of these dream shoes by Bettye Muller at SimplySoles.

    I feel a little dazed now that the big day is here and my story is out there for the world to read. Chalk it up the late night (it was 1:30am by the time I finally hit all the right buttons to send my story to Amazon) or the typical feeling of quiet exhaustion after you have fulfilled a huge personal challenge. I’m sure I will be more emotional later, once the realization sinks in that I just bared a significant part of my soul to you all. While I do hope you like it, I did this for me. As it turns out, proving to myself that I could publish a story was the best gift I ever gave myself.

    And now I’m going to stop before I do open the emotional floodgates.

    May you enjoy reading My Night with George Clooney as much as I enjoyed writing it.

    go vote

     In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s Election Day.

    Maybe you took advantage of early voting, as I did. Perhaps you are taking your chances on the day itself. But whatever the situation, please do vote.

    Some excuses I can’t stand:

    My vote doesn’t make a difference. It does. Maybe you don’t live in a battleground state. Your popular vote still matters. And there should be some pride in voting your heart even if it isn’t mainstream in your district.

    I don’t have time. This year, there was a plethora of early voting opportunities. Make voting a priority. Imagine living in a country where you didn’t have the right to vote. Wouldn’t you give anything for the chance to exercise your civic duty? Don’t take it for granted.

    I don’t know how to vote. Spend the time in line familiarizing yourself with ballot initiatives and/or candidates you don’t have an opinion on. It’s important. It’s your country, state, county, city. Take pride in being part of the process that determines its governing.

    The bottom line is that voting is sexy. So go out and do it, whoever your candidates may be.

    Month of Chelsea

    Photo by chelseachronicl

    I have designated November to be Month of Chelsea. I’ve had enough of tears, frustration, bad weather, illness and death. I’ve had enough of sleepless nights, back pain, and wondering when things will turn around. There’s no sense in waiting for change. It’s time to make it for myself.

    I had this epiphany exactly yesterday, on day one. And what did I do on this day? I early voted. It took a five-hour split shift on a rainy day to get it done, but it was important to me to fulfill this civic duty. In between line waiting, I spent some quality time with my hairdresser and dropped by the kids’ school where I had a nice chat with the principal about my kids’ education.

    So far day two has found me breakfasting with one of my favorite people in DC and receiving this unexpected gift in the mail from my friend Kassie. It’s my very favorite shoe of all time, the Treat by Bettye Muller, custom dyed in a gorgeous coral-orange shade. Later today, I hope to make it to Biker Barre and after, to visit with my old boss to discuss an idea I have to return civility to Washington, DC. Yes, I am thinking big this month.

    On tap for day three I have Weekend Warriors, one of my favorite days of the month. Other goodies in the Chelsea queue include: publishing at long last my story; heading to Michigan for Election Day to campaign for the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs ballot initiative; and later this month, I head to San Francisco for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. And then there is my upcoming vacation to Hawaii.

    How can November not be month of Chelsea when I’m spending seven days of it in Hawaii?

    I won’t torture you with daily updates, but did want to share my newfound energy, enthusiasm and purpose. If we all decide that November is going to be our month and we all made the most of these 30 days, wouldn’t all that positive energy result in a vast amount of goodness?

    I’m not saying that this is the solution to all the world’s problems, but at least for one month, I promise to not let the negative get in the way and to live each day with the promise it deserves.