Monthly Archives

May 2013

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Let’s go window shopping.

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I’d like to set fire to most of the clothes in my closet. But I have this problem. This I-can’t-seem-to-buy-anything-for-myself problem.

Luckily I broke my self-spending ban last weekend during a shopping trip with Sara, who with her thrifting prowess managed to find me items to try on that were 70% off in addition to the already marked sales prices. I’m pretty much in awe of her skills. She got used to me saying, “Hmm, I can’t justify buying this.” Finally, I worked up to, “I can justify this.”

New reality shopping show for the tightwads of the world: “Justify This”

Yay, nay? I’m picturing this on Lifetime or Bravo, maybe TLC. Are you out there, programming execs? Give me a ring. Let’s do lunch.

Anyway, I happened to hop over to Asos today, and I could justify buying everything pictured above.

1. The oxblood skinny jeans are pretty suh-weet and fulfill my need for more jeans.
2. The tie-dye dress is pretty much amazing. It has the perfect sleeve length. I could see it at the beach or with leggings.
3. The dipped hemline trend intrigues me. Especially in this color.
4. I need a cute basic T-shirt with a normal sleeve length. Cap sleeves = not my friend.
5. Always in search of swing tanks, and this one is just my style.
6. The perfect weekend lounge tee.

What would you buy for yourself to make your closet more complete?

A Week in the Life: 21/52

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week.

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» Playing soccer in the shade with a volleyball.

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» Trying on Daddy’s shoes.

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» Wearing our sunglasses upside down.

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» Swinging on the big swing next to the toddler swing (every park should have this design).

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» Packing a picnic lunch and exploring Santa Clarita Valley.

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» Checking out some homes for sale in the middle of nowhere. Too desolate for these Angelenos. Best to stick with the city listings.

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» Wishing I were a duck (it was a toasty day in Valencia).

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» Cooling down with ice cream.

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» Enjoying the Granny Squared exhibit at the folk art museum.

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» Thinking about banning myself from Target. For at least a month.

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» Cheesing for iPhone selfies.

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» Sharing a ginormous ice cream sandwich with a friend.

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» … And finishing it.

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» Pretending with a magic wand.

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

Banana Banana Bread (+ Dark Chocolate) Recipe

I promised you I would tell you about the best banana bread recipe I ever made. I think it would be appropriate for some funky music to play right here, and for Barry White to moan “oh yeah” in that voice of his.

It’s that good.

Best Banana Bread Recipe Ever • Little Gold Pixel

I cannot take credit for this delicious recipe. I found it on Amandeleine’s blog.

It’s everything I ever wanted in a banana bread: moist, dense, full of flavor. I like that, in Amanda’s post, she includes a photo of the bananas she uses. Up till this point in my life I was under the impression that any banana would make a good banana bread. Shame on me. The banana needs to be spotted, dotted and pretty much beyond saving. It needs to look like it’s practically rotting. Then it’s ready to bathe in brown sugar, butter and decadence.

Speaking of bananas, have you heard that separating them at the stem will help slow down the ripening process? I read somewhere that bananas are susceptible to peer pressure, so if one of them starts to ripen, the rest of them will, too. And if one of them starts to snuggle up to the apples in the fruit bowl, the rest of them will, too. It’s a downward spiral from there, and the next thing you know all your bananas will be peeling themselves just for the thrill of it.

Some people go a step further and wrap their banana stems in saran wrap. Or you can just toss the bananas in the fridge. Whatever it takes to stop them from becoming self-aware and rotting.

(There is some science involved here in the form of ethylene gas, but let’s not bog ourselves down with logic.)

Anyway.

For the purpose of this banana bread, go ahead and let your bananas canoodle together, stems attached, until they are almost fully rotten.

To take it just past the point of sanity, add little peels of dark chocolate atop your batter and let it do its magic. Mmmm. Can’t get enough of your love, babe.

A Week in the Life: 20/52

There are things that shrouded the past week in a veil of melancholy and malady. First of all, I stumbled along in a haze of sickness, with a lingering cough that just won’t go away. A friend from high school died after fighting brain cancer for a year. And, just as funeral services were being planned for this beautiful woman — who as an art teacher only spread color and joy to everyone around her, even up to her very last day via Facebook — it occurred to me that it had been five years since my equally beautiful mother succumbed to the big C.

May is the cruelest month for me and my memories.

And yet. There is color! There is joy! There is happiness everywhere! People wonder why bloggers often talk about the good over the bad. It is because the good is what makes the bad tolerable. Life is full of great moments. We have to dwell on those instead of the fact that one of my co-workers called me Typhoid Mary. (It was a joke, but still. Ouch! For the record, I sanitize obsessively and often.)

It is why everyone smiled through the tears on the day of Jaime’s memorial, posting on her Facebook timeline about they would wear color to her funeral because she wouldn’t approve of black. And how they went to the Star Trek movie for her, even saving her a seat in memoriam. 

It is why, when I look at this week’s photos, I do not see an ounce of sadness. Just happy memories that hopefully will outweigh those bad ones.

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» My annual Mother’s Day pedicure! Afterward I walked over to Coffee Bean and enjoyed an ice-blended chai before reuniting with …

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» The loves of my life.

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» She has peculiar taste in hats.

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» Sundaes for Sunday.

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» People standing on top of the world as the mist rolls in. One day we will climb this rock, too!

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» Simple pleasures: Lying on the cool grass beneath a shady tree on a 95-degree day.

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» Spiky little cliff flowers.

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» No photo editing. It really was this magical to the naked eye.

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» Alexa managed to run the length of a football field in the few seconds it took to snap this photo. H had to tackle her in the end zone.

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» The days are getting longer. On Monday evening, the hot wind picked up like woah and knocked everything loose in San Pedro.

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» Trees make the best patterns.

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» Said trees do not like to be confined by sidewalks.

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» I stumbled upon the best banana bread recipe. All brown sugar and hell yeah with some dark chocolate melted on top. I’ll share later.

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» Daddy stayed home sick, but he rallied to help us get ready in the morning.

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» Alexa had her first dentist visit after chipping a tooth. There were fearful tears for the next experience, but Mama and Daddy were there, the dentist was calm and Alexa’s teeth were declared wonderful.

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» Loved the lighting over the fruit in the little store at the office.

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» The sun is setting further north, over the mountains, the closer it gets to summer.

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» Messing around with the self timer, trying to distract myself from how much it costs to fill up my tank.

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

And now for my book report …

Book Reviews • 20/50 • Little Gold Pixel

I can’t believe it’s been three months since I’ve updated you on my quest to read 50 books.

My last report I was trying to be sexy and winkwink and all that jazz, but this time I’m going to give it to you straight. Exactly what I thought. Knee-jerk reactions. You with me?

The links lead to the full book reviews I wrote.

An Abundance of Katherines / John Green » First I had to get past the Diablo Cody-esque characters and the abundance of math equations — and the fact that this book is in no way as good as The Fault in Our Stars. But I did, and I enjoyed this little teen rom-com. Read mostly with my Kindle tucked halfway under my pillow in San Diego on a holiday weekend while waiting for Alexa to finally fall asleep in the hotel room.

Gravity / Melissa West » The premise is so good, you guys. So good. But, as I remarked to H halfway through: “This book has more holes than Swiss cheese.” Still, I won’t lie. I’ll read the next installment. (Hides head.)

The Age of Miracles / Karen Thompson Walker » Put down everything you’re doing and read this novel. It is simply amazing. It deserves the slow clap.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun / Christopher Moore » The book starts with a pilot injuring his penis in a freak sex-flight-accident. So you know it’s going to be a wild ride. Unfortunately I found myself snoozing in several too-technical-to-care scenes. Mechanics of airplanes? No, thanks. Let’s just get back to the fun stuff.

The Dog Stars / Peter Heller » Post-apocalyptic done right. The writing is heavily stylized, so it took a few pages to get used to, but after that it’s one tense ride on the other side of a disease that knocked out 99 percent of humans, and the survivors aren’t “nice.” This book really made me think about humanity and its capacity (or lack thereof) for mercy. One complaint: another pilot, more technical jargon.

Code Name Verity / Elizabeth Wein » I spent the first half of this book sighing and saying, “Really? Like Nazis are going to let a prisoner of war write out her story IN LONG HAND.” And more freaking pilots?! Are you kidding me!? That first half dragged. Then I got to the second half, and it got good. Really good. And I finished it fast.

Domestic Violets / Matthew Norman » Matthew Norman and I are simpatico. I dig his writing style, his humor, his story. Every word in this book felt TRUE. So, there. Hemingway would approve. It has a Wonder Boys quality. Wonder Boys the movie, not the Chabon book, which I’ve not yet read. And now I should be ashamed for admitting that I love Michael Douglas like a movie that was based on a book that I’ve not yet read. Anyway. Domestic Violets is great! Read it.

Are You Happy Now? / Richard Babcock » Talk about a despicable protagonist. I actually wanted bad things to happen to this guy. Toward the middle of the book I was pretty sure he should go to jail just for being an unbearable asshole. Then, somehow, my heart melted a little and he changed a little and the ending made up for it all, a little.

Beautiful Ruins / Jess Walter » It has the most brilliant opening line: “The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly — in a boat that motored into the cover, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier.” And then, I’m pretty sure I read the first chapter three times because I kept falling asleep on my Kindle waiting for a someone to make a point. When I figured out it was full of interconnecting storylines, I cringed. But the book proved me wrong. It was a grower! A good message, too, if you can see past Hollywood being full of itself. Also — and this really is random — I learned an awful lot about the Donner Party.

Life After Life / Kate Atkinson » I nominated this for my book club. I didn’t know it was more than 500 pages long. I forged ahead, thinking it would be some kind of reincarnation narrative about how the protagonist gets to be a ballerina in one life and a sumo wrestler in the next. It is not the book I thought it would be. It is so much better. More choose-your-own-adventure. The characters are very rich, and about halfway through the book I started to care about them deeply. I’m still thinking about this book.

In this list of 10 books, three take place during World War II. Three have protagonists who are pilots. The three best (if I must choose): The Age of Miracles, Domestic Violets, Life After Life. It really is difficult to choose, though, because this is a good crop.

There you have it. I’ve read 20 out of 50 books so far this year.

What have you been reading? I’m always on the lookout for a good read.

A Week in the Life: 19/52

I’ve been around even less than usual lately. Between adjusting to a new work schedule and dealing with a sick toddler (and then a sick me, and now a sick me and H), it’s just been a busy few months around here. I hope my weekly photo roundups have painted some picture of what we’ve been up to, but it doesn’t make up for real writing, I know.

Hopefully soon the energy/strength/muse/whathaveyou will come back and you will all be dazzled by my wit and mirth!

Until then … here’s what happened last week.

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» We took a scenic drive from Newport Beach south down PCH, where we spied a gorgeous little beach in the Crystal Cove state park. We were not dressed for the beach whatsoever, but when the beach beckons, you answer.

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» Even if you’re wearing jeans.

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» Our starfish are taking over. Watch out.

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» A family sitting near us also had a toddler named Alexa. Name twins. This was their handiwork.

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» A more perfect SoCal day? I think not. I got my toes (and jeans) wet.

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» People were even flying their kites.

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» Alexa was happy to play in the sand (as far away from the water as possible).

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» While H just wished for his swim shorts so he could catch a delicious wave.

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» Watching home movies. There’s one of H swinging Alexa around in circles at the beach that always gets laughs out of Alexa. She will watch it over and over again.

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» It rained for a few days. I had to turn on my wipers. (Insert sad face here)

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» Then it didn’t.

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» I went to a screening of “The Great Gatsby” at the Academy, where I was scolded for being a tourist with my iPhone. Nothing wrong with being a tourist where you live, people. Channel Beastie Boys here: You gotta fight! For your right! To document your life!

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» Coffee break at a new locale. Verdict: Yay on the coffee, nay on the ambiance.

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» I’m not sure where exactly this ranks on my list of favorite sunsets, but it’s pretty damn high.

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» Lack of passion is fatal.

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» The jacarandas are in bloom! My favorite part of spring in L.A.

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on Olympus DSLR and iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

I think I saw Patrick Dempsey.

My colleagues see celebrities all the time in and around our building. It’s not a bragging right, really, it’s just that this is the nature of where we are situated.

“Ashton Kutcher is in the lobby.”

“I shared an elevator with someone from American Idol.”

These aren’t the best sightings ever, I realize. It’s not like someone announced that Michael Douglas* was in the lobby because I would run down 30 flights of stairs if it meant I could bask in his glory or kiss his shoes or whatever you do to show worship to a deity.

In the entire time I’ve lived in L.A. — and it’s getting dangerously close to a decade, friends — H has pointed out several celebrities to me (he used to see them all the time at his former workplace). But I have spied only one celebrity in his natural habitat, walking down Sunset with his entourage: Dave Navarro.

This is only because Dave Navarro is completely unmistakable. There is only one person on Earth who looks like Dave Navarro, and that’s Dave Navarro.

Usually I will see people and say, “that looks like _____.” But I cannot fully commit to their identity, because it really could just be someone who LOOKS like that famous person. An abundance of doppelgangers, if you please.

And yet, I swear to god. I saw Patrick Dempsey last week.

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Right outside the office building, looking like a miniature McDreamy. I say miniature because he was shorter than I imagined, but the Internets confirm that he is not terribly tall. And he is slight of build, also something the Internets confirm. He looked right at me for a tenth of a second, then looked past me, then turned and scurried toward the building, as if looking for someone.

I whispered to a friend, “I think I saw Patrick Dempsey.”

“Where?” she asked, following my (maybe-not-so) indiscreet head nod in his general direction. At this point she could only see his back.

She harrumphed. “That’s not Patrick Dempsey. Patrick Dempsey doesn’t run for anyone.”

I can assure you that this man looked exactly like the guy I’ve had a crush on since “Can’t Buy Me Love,” but alas, even his Twitter holds no clues to his whereabouts that day. I have no hard evidence, so it will remain a mystery.

*Yes, it’s a serious crush.

A Week in the Life: 18/52

This week I used my DSLR (for more than one photograph) for the first time since we went to San Diego in February. In related news, I have a large volume of photos to share with you this week. If you are one of the three people who are interested in these very self-indulgent posts, be advised that I created a jump on this post to keep the length down. Click on the link for even more Week in the Life excitement. Are you ready? I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. Let’s go!

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» Post-park, post-frozen yogurt haze. But I know just the thing that will break her out of her funk …

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» Bubbles!

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» H’s finger in corner: Check. Me awkwardly blowing bubbles after declaring the motorized bubble-blower crap: Check. Alexa loving every second: Check. This might be my favorite pic of the 40 we took.

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» Little chipmunk just stuffed her face with sunflower seeds.

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» Turkey bacon time, y’all.

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» When she was smaller, we could push her lightly and take some really cute photos. Now she’s not happy unless she is going supersonic speeds.

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» Happy mismatching.

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» Proud papa, watching Alexa navigate the playground alone.

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» Back and forth between Bee! rocker and Laby-bub! rocker.

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» I chalk it up to kids.

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» Definitely in my top five Alexa portraits. Love!

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» I love these red bottlebrush flowers.

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» And, after several months, a car wash.

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» Push-ups with Daddy.

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» Smile, it confuses people. Better than last week’s.

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» A package from my artist friend Ian. He is very talented! I’ve written about his work before here. Check out his latest stuff.

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» I bought myself flowers. Just ’cause.

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» I hear ya, kid. Why get out of bed, anyway?

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» Shorts for a hot, hot day.

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» I mean, it was only 9:30 and already 83 degrees.

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» Which means that it was perfectly logical to go for a walk with a friend in 90-degree weather. At least there were treats in the middle (including an ice-blended chai from Coffee Bean).

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» And we got to see these cute piggy jugs. Sweat was dripping off my forehead, guys. It wasn’t pretty.

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» And … it’s fire season.

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» Baristas working like mad to keep up with the half-price happy hour drinks on Friday.

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» The pennies vex me. What to do with them?

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» A spectacular red and pink sunset seen from work, probably because of smoke from the fire in Ventura County.

*This is a weekly project inspired by Shutterbean. Shot on Olympus DSLR and iPhone this week. See past weeks here.

We’ve got cows and/or cardboard.

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Twister’s hit/miss ratio was unbelievable.

Lately I’ve been dodging all sorts of crazy objects on the road. In the past few days alone, I have seen a tire in the middle of the freeway, a plastic dry cleaning bag floating American Beauty style, a lone high-heel shoe on a side street, cats, zombie-fied pedestrians who should know better, and, tonight, a large piece of cardboard that flew right at my windshield.

It occurred to me how fitting this road debris is as a metaphor for life in general.

How a lot of the time we try to dodge the obstacles, and thank god a heel didn’t puncture our tire. And whew, good job missing that crazy person who is jaywalking across six lanes of traffic.

And then, there it is.

A piece of cardboard — so huge I bet it would make a good playhouse for Alexa — I just can’t avoid. Swerving would lead to disaster. Braking would lead to disaster. The only course of action is to go full steam ahead and cross my fingers that I don’t end up in a Titanic mess.

I saw it heading toward me, and I rolled down my window in case it clung to the front of my car and obscured my vision. I tried to think a few steps ahead. I hoped the cardboard would pass without incident, that it wouldn’t somehow slide inside my wheel well and cause my car to flip. I gripped the wheel tight. My heart was about to burst out of my chest. Just in case I haven’t sufficiently set the scene, I was driving 70 mph down a crowded freeway, cars all around! Cue suspenseful music.

The cardboard hit my windshield as expected, then gracefully bounced back and slid under my tires. Du-dunk. Du-dunk. The sound of my tires running over the cardboard. Cleared.

Crisis averted.

There’s a lot of road ahead. A lot can happen in a lifetime. The best we can hope for is more misses than hits.

No time like the present to practice your maneuvering, friends.