Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Young Blood

"Who is going to take care of us?!"

My friend, Thomas, exclaimed this several months ago over a happy hour before karaoke. He said it half jokingly, but there was more than an element of cutting sincerity buried in the sentiment.

Thomas and I met 18 years ago when I was interning at what would be my first employer after college. He was a green news producer with a wee bit more newsroom experience under his belt. We had no idea we'd become such good friends over the years, celebrating weddings and births together, and later major career successes. Thomas and I even turned toward each other in a moment of deep grief a couple years ago, finding comfort in bonds that were cemented over bleats of a police scanner and cans of cheap Busch beer.

With some friendships, time can ebb and flow, but the connections remain as true and vibrant as they were in the good ol' days.

Today, we both have good jobs that belie our newsroom roots. Every so often we carve out some time to catch up, celebrate, and reminisce about a life that seems a world away.

During this months-ago happy hour, our conversation took a very nuanced tone. Most of the time we spin yarns about remember whens and whatever happened to so-and-so. We chuckle over tales about when we were young and poor and sometimes dumb asses.

But this time, we deeply measured what lies ahead for us over these next 40 or 50 years, and worried about how we singletons without children would make it through the rough times. Rough times come occasionally, measured with obituaries or doctor visits. But other times, they're counted in holidays without plans or celebratory occasions that pass with little fanfare.

Thomas and I both have strong social networks and great friends, but we wondered - who will come visit us on Christmas Day in the Old Folks Home when we're old and don't have children? Whose pictures will we hang on the refrigerator door?

He teased we needed to make friends with younger people - millennials who are 10 or more years our junior - so that we could at least count on cocktails with those younger, spry people in our golden years.

Most people have children for other reasons - the pride of raising a family, the love of seeing your genes in the next generation; crossing over to 40 has made me fiercely aware of the situation of elder care and the benefits of having kids.

This is the kind of thing I worry about - not whether my kid will get into a good college, or if my spouse will be healthy in our twilight years. I worry about how the choices I've made in my 20s and 30s will affect me in my 70s and 80s.

I have a dear friend with three sons. I believe those kids will come visit me when I'm in a nursing home, if for no other reason than to get a good story or two about their dad, who passed away in their youth. My niece and nephew might come visit, especially if they remain the beneficiaries of my assets.

My friends without children - we've talked before about how we're going to have to retire together to take care of each other. Aside from the benefits of communal living (nightly dinners together, activities like crafts and Cocktails 101), we'll be able to enhance our golden years by chipping in for an in-house masseuse, a pool boy, and maid/cook.

Okay, so maybe I won't have as many crayon-scrawled Picassos in my kitchen. But if Plan B allows me the jack to cover a maid and cook who will have homemade guacamole and a vodka martini ready for me at 4 pm, I think I'll make it just fine.

Creative Commons License
katycrossen.com by Katy Crossen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Slam Click

Being "on" all the time can suck the life out of you.

I am a textbook introvert; I have the capacity to be the life of the party, the wild one everyone wants to talk to. But after hours of giving up my best stuff - my passion, my self-deprecation, my ferocious joie de vivre - I relegate myself to a confined space with a good book or my Netflix feed.

Unless you are an introvert, there is a strong chance you misunderstand the concept. We are not anti-social. In some cases, we can be even more gregarious than those extroverts you know. Julia Roberts, Amy Schumer, and Tom Hanks are all introverts. Robin Williams was an introvert. This breed of people is not afraid of the stage or limelight. Introverts make excellent public speakers because they have a penchant for rehearsing and over-rehearsing their role, their lines, their script.

We plan. A lot.

Because, like the dying charge on an iPhone with a ravenous operating system, we need to know when we are going to be able to plug in for some downtime.

Where extroverts get their energy by being around others, charging up on conversations about new ideas or fun stories, introverts are the people who give up that energy to the crowd and have to go back home to revive their battery life.

As part of my introversion kink, I really need to think about whether I have the capacity to spend time with strangers.

The art of conversation with strangers is especially draining for me; I struggle with making idle chit chat with people I've never met.

I know this is a tricky proposition; strangers become lovers and best friends if you give them a chance and let them in.

A couple nights ago, my friends geared up to meet some people who live across from our vacation villa in Puerto Vallarta. The day had been a long one involving a trek to a rustic ocean side restaurant with a secluded beach. We dined on octopus and plantains and delicious herbal margaritas. A couple of us made an adventurous swim to an offshore floating island complete with a hammock and palm tree. The climb onto the float left me bruised and bloodied, and I was exhausted after a long day of sipping margaritas and cervezas.

(Ed note: I admit the above paragraph reads like obnoxious whining about First World problems. And that's exactly what it is.)

The entire day was full of sensory overload, and it sucked my energy dry. The last thing I wanted to do was make nice and play Cards Against Humanity with a bunch of people I'd never see again.

But I felt like an asshole. I was the only one in the group who didn't want to go. Rather than hit the wall and completely shut down in front of a crowd, I decided to stay behind with my book, some smokes, and a couple Tecates.

Ultimately, it was the best thing for everyone involved because by the time I reunited with the group I felt recharged and ready to happily reengage.

Years ago an old friend who worked for Delta Air Lines told me about the Slam-Click. This is a term flight attendants use for the occasions when they need to disengage and recharge after a day of serving others salty peanuts and flimsy plastic cups of Diet Coke.

Slam-Click is when you go to your hotel room, slam the door, and click the lock shut. Every flight attendant has had to slam-click at one time or another. It's a tactic that should no doubt be embraced far beyond the airline industry.

Everyone needs to pull back on occasion.

We all need to withdraw to the toys in our attic, think about things that are important, and how we can carry on to the next moment.

Here's to recharging and saving up the energy for the next great occasion.

Creative Commons License
katycrossen.com by Katy Crossen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

40 Is The New Fabulous

Life is full of a series of coincidences.

Today marks my 40th birthday, and for the occasion I chose to enjoy a four-handed tantric massage. The masseuses mentioned the massage style was called Shiva's Dance, in honor of the Hindu god.

I learned about Shiva when I went to India five years ago, and he has become one of my favorite spiritual symbols.

Shiva is both a symbol of destruction and rebirth, a philosophy I've held to dearly  in the years since that trip. Change - whether planned or unexpected - can transform us in ways we can never anticipate.

In many ways, that trip to India was a dramatic catalyst for change within me. It was after that trip that I took up running; I've since run nine half marathons. I've grown professionally, personally, financially. I've formed new relationships with people who inspire me and push me to grow. 

I grew up quite a bit.

The 30s have been wonderful to me, and I'm excited about transitioning to this new decade. Right up to the very end, my 30s served up many beautiful surprises - and I can't wait to see what lies ahead in the next ten years.

Whatever they may include, I am certain the next ten years will be fabulous.

Agra, India - May 2011         /       Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - December 2016

Creative Commons License
katycrossen.com by Katy Crossen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Last Week of Youth

Life doesn't stop at 40, but does our youth?

My 30s have been good to me. The last decade served a up a lot - moments of success, opportunities to learn, a hell of a lot of fun. I went to the West Coast for the first time ever, rode a camel in Dubai, and performed drag as a Bio Diva named Sh'needza Mann. (The song was I Will Survive. Of course it was.)

But for as much as I've thrown myself into the chase of gaining new experiences, there were a few elusive things I had to push to nail down before my 40th birthday.

  • Become a homeowner. This was a big deal; I'm grateful I decided to finally commit to some real estate. Here's to working for 30 more years to pay for it.
  • Get a tattoo. It's not big, but it has huge meaning. Three little letters that are close to my heart, symbolizing my love for my nieces and nephew.
  • Negotiate a promotion. It was scary, but I learned how to be my own best advocate.
  • Start flossing and taking daily calcium supplements. I started wearing SPF on my face daily when I turned 30, and it has greatly helped me stave off the wrinkles. Flossing and vitamins seemed like good habits for health.
  • Reading and writing daily. I have a couple books I want to write, and much to my chagrin, I realized they aren't going to write themselves. Here's to committing to a few moments each day that give my writing skills a workout.
  • Bring back the blog. So, let's get a drink sometime and I'll tell you why I have the new URL. I'm just glad I was able to keep my content and start blogging again. I have more to say, and this is where I'll say it.
  • Quit toxic relationships. How does a person make you feel? If the answer is sad and miserable, you don't need to keep them in your life.
  • Walk away from settling. I realized I deserve more than I allowed myself to have.
  • Fall in beautiful, all-encompassing love. I started chasing boys on the playground when I was in second grade. I've been chasing ever since. I finally found a man who chases me back just as hard.
The 30s have been phenomenal. And everyone tells me the 40s are even better. You have the wisdom and experience of your youth, and the bank account of someone with some miles on the odometer. 

Here's to another decade of making mistakes, having fun, and discovering more about this crazy trip we call life.

Creative Commons License
katycrossen.com by Katy Crossen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Derby Pie

Thanksgiving is upon us, and Jeannie has tasked me with the job of bringing dessert. This is a job I really relish; I've been making Derby Pie from scratch for nearly 20 years.

Derby Pie is a traditional pecans-chocolate chips-bourbon confectionery (though Kern's Kitchen out of Louisville claims the official Derby Pie is made with walnuts) beloved across the Bluegrass State. I've perfected mine over the years and use two secret ingredients that make this a home run winner. I typically won't give up both of my secret ingredients in one sitting, but if you give me enough bourbon I might oblige.

And that reminds me of a third ingredient: wine. I always make every pie with a cup of wine. Or maybe two cups. It depends on how much you need to sip on while you're mixing ingredients and rolling out crust.

Food & Wine has a pretty solid Derby Pie recipe for those of you still mulling your holiday menu.
Tomorrow, I'll share a great recipe for those of you who crave a bit of pumpkin after your turkey.

Creative Commons License
katycrossen.com by Katy Crossen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Thoughts On The Election

This post comes from a letter I sent to a friend in response to an email she sent in solidarity after the Presidential election. I was a strong, loud advocate for Hillary Clinton, and the loss served a crushing blow to my spirit and patriotism. But in my free-flow response, I found a glimmer of hope and an inkling of a plan. I hope you find the same. - KC

I am completely crushed - crushed for we working women, many of whom still deal with sexism, unequal pay, and higher standards of performance than our male peers.
I am crushed for my Latino, Asian and African American friends, whose skin serves as a permanent badge of courage and physical reason for discrimination.
I am crushed for my Muslim friends, who only seek lives of political peace and the freedom to worship – the same ideals sought by those who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
I am crushed for my LGBTQ friends, who in the past year and a half have reveled in the freedom to marry and enjoy other legal protections that straight couples have taken for granted for centuries.
I am crushed for people with disabilities, people who are low income, seniors, and the children of our nation. These groups have the least influence and fewest resources, and because they do not greatly contribute to our nation’s ledger of business, their needs will be disregarded and raided to give the wealthiest even more.
But the sadness I felt last night, and the despondency I felt this morning, it is turning into a new feeling: anger. Anger because of things beyond my control like the Electoral College, and rage at a voting constituency – nearly half our nation – with whom I cannot identify.
But the Democratic Party is the group to which I have assigned the lion’s share of my ire. The party needs to wake up and really evaluate how we can achieve rousing success at the ballot box.
The Obama candidacy woke a nation – the millennials, the African Americans, the progressives, and it was because it provided the constituency with an awe inspiring alternative to the status quo. And as much as I will still say that “ImWithHer,” the HRC campaign was not nearly as emotional. It was smart and thoughtful, and Hillary Clinton did her best to include a few of Bernie Sanders’ planks in her platform, but this go around was still old guard, establishment politics at its finest.
I don’t know if someone completely outside of the establishment is what we need, but it is clear that’s what the people wanted this election. And so here we are, bracing and holding our collective breaths, waiting to see whether the end is really nigh.
This anger, though. I have a glimmer of a plan. I intend to get even more ingrained in local politics. Not as a candidate – but as a volunteer, advocate, and donor. I cannot sit back and let local politics experience a similar, fearful fate. And I hope my active neighbors will do the same. If we can revitalize our neighborhoods and street corners, perhaps we can ignite a small but mighty movement that carries on to Washington.
In two years, we will vote on every U.S. Representative seat, a third of all Senate seats, and 36 of 50 governorships. November 6, 2018 is a big day to hold Washington accountable for what transpires during the next two years. And after that race, I fully expect we’ll learn which Democratic candidate(s) want to take a run at taking back the White House.
And I will be ready to fight.
Until then I am going to try and save more of my money, keep an eye on the DJIA and add more to my 401(k) designation when the Dow drops. And I’m going to spend more time talking to my neighbors – really getting to know the people who live near me, shop at my neighborhood grocery, and work at the local businesses.
It’s time to mend fences, build relationships and discover that we have more in common with our neighbors than we have differences.

Creative Commons License
katycrossen.com by Katy Crossen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.