Howdy, friendos! It’s been 90 days since we kicked off 2023. And that can only mean one thing. Only a few more months until Target puts the Halloween candy out…
I wish I was kidding! After all, it is April Fool’s Day. You won’t find any pranks up in here. (I’m way more into April Pool’s Day, if you must know!)
It’s hard enough to know what’s real and what’s fake in this strange new world of AI images and writing anyway. I wish ChatGPT and all those AI writing programs were a joke. Have you used any of those services to write text or create images? I’m super curious how it all works. And wildly concerned that I’m soon to be unemployed. Robots are taking over, man. Have we learned nothing from the movies? This does not end well for humanity.
Without another moment’s delay, here’s a look at the last 90 days and what’s coming next.
YA GIRL DID THE THING
I hunkered down in the She Shed for the first 6 weeks of the year and finally turned 80,000+ words into my editor in the middle of February. I’ve never spent so much time on one singular project in my life (10+ years) so it felt liberating and terrifying to release it to the publisher for feedback. Rae, Ben and Rick made sure I celebrated before going right back to my desk to catch up on all the things I let go while I was in deadline mode.
Less than one year to go until my book is in your hands — or in your ears! I know y’all have a zillion questions about the publishing process – particularly why it takes so long. And eventually I’ll endeavor to share that in a Q&A or something. There are several ways to go about writing and publishing a book, and while the traditional route with a large publisher was always what I dreamed of, it’s also the longest journey.
My friends have been churning out babies like a Model-T Ford production line in 1913 and I LOVE IT. Especially excited about the ones who live in my neighborhood because I have access to unlimited snuggles.
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WASTING AWAY AGAIN
In Margaritaville! If you follow us on social, you know we’ve been singing the praises of Margaritaville at Sea since we sailed with them in February. First of all, do you know how hard it is to coordinate a trip for 12 people? Usually, it’s just about impossible. But for this, I just said, “Hey, I’m going on a cruise,” and everyone else just showed up. EASY.
Forty-eight hours is hardly enough time to enjoy a vacation, but it was a really perfect amount of time onboard. We packed in a ton in just two nights, gambled, ate and danced and visited The Bahamas. If you remember from Reflections Vol. 53, I kinda forgot to leave the country last year, so I’ve already checked that off my list for 2023.
My Dad’s best friend had a massive heart attack while they were fishing on the dock and sadly, he didn’t make it. Dad did chest compressions for ages until the ambulance came, but in the end the paramedics said it was so bad there’s nothing he could’ve done. It’s a big loss for Dad and his band, but the knowledge that he died with his best buddy out fishing and watching the sunset has been a small consolation to everyone. Rest in peace, Duane.
For the first time in my life, I hired an accountant to do our taxes. I’ve always used TurboTax and that’s worked fine (I guess? Hard to tell, but I’m not in jail, so that’s something.) But with adoption, self-employment and an Airbnb, I thought it would be smart to get some outside help.
Y’all. I still had to DO my taxes within the TurboTax framework and then transfer all that over to the accountant just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It took me twice the time it usually does because I had to duplicate the information for the accountant’s forms… and I’m paying for the privilege. It’s exasperating. We’ll see how it all shakes out with a refund, but this may be the one and only time I have an accountant.
In the grand scheme of all the wretched things going on in the world, this doesn’t even rank, but I need something for the Lows section and I can’t really talk about most of truly low situations I’ve got going on. Not yet. So I’m going to complain about Elon Musk. He took over Twitter as you know, and now he’s making verified Twitter accounts pay for their earned blue checkmarks. I’m not going to pay for that… paying for a marker of your influence removes any authority or authenticity. Not to mention, Elon says that only verified accounts will be shown consistently in users’ feeds. That feels really icky, and I’m just not going to play this game. It’s a greedy, baffling move. We had a good 15-year run, but all good things must come to an end. I guess I’m gonna have to save my short, snarky observations for future newsletters 😉
HOME OWNERSHIP IS THE THIEF OF JOY
Ok, that’s a dramatic title. Sorry. I love, nay, adore, my house. I am so grateful that we bought 7 years ago at a great price and locked in a stupid low interest rate. But it’s so much work! Forget all the new projects I’m always implementing – in the past 90 days, we’ve added a new fence, replanted the front yard, fixed the deck and are in the process of building a gazebo to house Rick’s boat. Now that’s my own dopamine-seeking fault. I keep saying no more new projects but… well. You know me.
Even if we didn’t have new things in the works, something always needs fixing or maintenance or mowing or trimming or repainting. Filters have to be changed, carpets cleaned, dog snoot residue wiped off windows. Shoot, you’re supposed to wash the outside of the house, too. I don’t even know the half of what we should be maintaining. I bet our appliances would last a lot longer if we didn’t just use them until they burn up. A little bit of WD-40 or whatever would go a long way.
There’s also a loss of freedom in owning a house – as it relates to my career anyway. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation. Lately I’ve been thinking about going on a lengthy trip, and the idea of prepping the house, humans and dogs really gives me pause. It feels like if we aren’t fixing something every day, we fall behind.
I went to New York City for a conference in January. It’s the first time I’ve been there since right before the pandemic, and wow. It’s changed so, so much. The skyline is different – Midtown is practically unrecognizable! There are new observation deck experiences and you can dangle over the side of The Edge at Hudson Yards. There is a whole freaking Target two blocks from my old apartment. I’m still in my feelings about that.
On the flip side, the streets absolutely reeked of weed. I guess marijuana was legalized? There seemed to be way more folks out and about who are down on their luck, whether homeless or just unstable/unwell. Every time I went out, I had at least a few people asking me for money or a job. I also saw needles in the street – never noticed that when I lived in the city before. The only constant is change, and I know NYC is as dynamic as any place, but it’s always a bit jarring to see the specter of my past life with different / new stuff superimposed over it.
We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
BEST BELIEVE I’M STILL BEJEWELED
Rae and I are going to see Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour in two weeks. If you think we have not been talking about what to wear for months… well, you don’t know us. We’re waffling between hipster casual or like, head-to-toe sequins. It’s a DAILY discussion. Amazon has been dropping a lot of packages at my house. I’ve been trying to avoid spoilers on TikTok – I just want to be surprised. Ack! I haven’t been this pumped about a concert in many moons.
TIMES ARE CHANGING
If Elon Musk is charging for Twitter blue checks, Mark Zuckerberg can’t be far behind for Facebook and Instagram. And TikTok might be outlawed (whether it’s really spyware or because America’s boomer lawmakers don’t understand how the internet works). Social media as we know it is changing every day, and I am just too dang old and too dang tired to keep up. It’s already just about impossible to get quality travel content out to the masses when all the platforms prioritize controversial content instead. And now I’ll have to join the corporations and celebrities if I want to reach you with my videos. Like I said, it’s not a game I want to play long term.
On that note, I’m going to be focusing on my first love so much more in the future – writing. Telling stories. Still creating content, but with a new outlook. The way things are going, I suspect you’ll have to move in with me* to see anything I create, so I’m working on solutions now before it gets too crazy out there.
*Please don’t. For the love of all things holy, we have no vacancies right now.
In preparation for the book launch next year, I’m going to be updating my website and newsletter. I am considering taking Reflections from the Road to the newsletter only. I can be so much more personal there, so as my audience grows that might be how I keep the besties (YOU!) in the loop. Keep an eye out for updates. If you’re not already in the inner circle, subscribe here.
I should be getting edits back from my publisher just before I leave for vacation this week, so I’m sure that’ll be really relaxing. Not. You know I’m going to be thinking and overthinking and rewriting mentally while I’m ziplining through the jungle and/or getting a crown at the dentist. Yeah, should be quite the vacation indeed.
I’ll see you back here – or in the newsletter even sooner if I can get my act together – July 1 for Vol. 55 of Reflections from the Road. In the meantime, travel safe!
Question of the Quarter: If you had to move to one destination that you’ve visited before, which would you choose?
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