The Good Old Days Weren’t Great

I’m tired of listening to what’s wrong with us today. The Millennials, the Xennials, the Zoomers, whatever. Let’s talk about what’s wrong with the Boomers and the Good Old Days.

Story time.

A million years ago and a million miles away… This is the phrase my all time favorite pastor uses when he wants to tell a story about something that happened yesterday and right here but he needs plausible deniability. I love it.

A million years ago and a million miles away, we were having a get together in our neighborhood. Several couples gathered at one home for lunch on a Sunday afternoon.

I should point out that I’m the youngest person in this group by almost 30 years.

I don’t know what the men were outside doing but the women were inside cooking. I was whisking the lumps out of the gravy. One of the men walked in and called us all to attention.

“Ladies! Ladies, ladies.”

We stopped what we were doing and looked up. This man then says…

“We need a volunteer to fill the glasses with ice.”

Now let me pause here so I can paint you a fuller picture. This man is in the kitchen looking at the glasses and standing next to the cooler of ice. He was literally the closest person to the glasses and the ice and was the only one not currently engaged in a task.

Honestly this shit is still grinding my gears. If he was otherwise a kind and pleasant person I might have just brushed by and laughed it off. He’s not though. He’s abrasive and self righteous and he loves pointing out the mistakes of others. He won’t even speak to me, I assume because I have tattoos. People like that not liking me just makes me smile and reaffirms all my life choices.

I think what’s annoying me even more is that the girls just went to do it while he went to kick back in the easy chair.

What I said was, “I’m sorry, is your volunteer broke?” but I don’t think he heard me.

It’s not that I wouldn’t have filled the glasses. I would have been happy to. It’s the entitlement and expectation that I take umbrage with. It’s that ‘men are in charge and women are the worker bees’ attitude that induces my rage. It’s his general worldview that makes me want to be the rock and the hard place he gets crushed between.

In the scheme of things this was a minor incident that I will get over shortly. But it is the latest in a long list of life experiences that every single one of us have.

Young people, girls specifically, I say this to you. Do no harm but take no shit. Stand up for yourselves. Don’t shrink away or let them walk on you. Plant your feet, tighten your core and be the first bit of resistance they’ve ever encountered. Make it clear that ingrained, systemic misogyny is over. Raise your voice. Make a scene. You might not change their minds but you can stun them into silence. They’re dead and don’t even know it yet.

Kids Today

I don’t live in Uvalde. I live about 50 miles from there, which, in Texas, might as well be next door. Uvalde is where I grocery shop, where I get my nails done, where I’ve sat in the ER.

I’ve been trying to write this for a week. I’ve been trying to put words down to help organize my thoughts but there is no organization. There is no sense or reason or solace. Only rage and grief and excruciating sorrow.

Nineteen children never get to go home for summer break. Never get to start a new school year. Never get to graduate or go to college or fall in love or even find out what kind of people they will become.

Two teachers gave their lives protecting other peoples children. Twenty-one families are destroyed and left to pick up the pieces.

All because another child — yes, child — was struggling. Struggling to find his place in the world. Struggling with his own anger, pain and hopelessness. Struggling to be noticed in a world moving too quickly. So he took his frustrations out on the innocent children at Robb Elementary School. But his anger wasn’t at them. It was at us. All of us.

I hear the phrase, “kids today” over and over, so often with a negative connotation.


I hate to break it to you, but the problem did not come from the kids. The kids were born into a world they had no say in. The kids are growing up in a society they have no control over. The kids are struggling to survive in a culture that blames them for the effects that OUR actions, and lack of action, have caused. All they can do is live in the world we have provided for them. The failures, and there are plenty to go around, are entirely ours. The adults.

There are specific failures on the parts of the schools, the police, the legislatures, the corporations, the special interest groups and the citizens of this country, but I don’t want to assign blame here. There will be plenty of that in the months to come.

I do have a question though. Why can someone go into a store and purchase a gun the day they turn 18 but we have collectively decided that same person needs to be three years more mature before they should be allowed to buy a beer? I don’t have the answer but it is a logic gap in the structure of our laws that I can’t explain.

Those who refuse to acknowledge a problem because it might affect their rights are as much at fault as those hell bent on vilifying anyone that doesn’t agree with them.

There are changes to be made. There are policies to be updated and training to be reevaluated for this new, terrifying world. There is consensus and there is compromise.

I keep coming back to something Anne Frank wrote in her diary in 1944 while the world was literally blowing up around her…

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

I believe this too. Pure, born with evil is an extreme anomaly. Nature does not often create inherent evil. Nurture does. Environment and circumstances do. Above all, neglect does.

Let us put aside those things that divide us and be the people that Anne Frank had faith in. Be the people that the children of this nation believe in and look to for protection because they have no choice. We’re all they’ve got.

This is a Post.

Omg I have to write something. Anything, it does not matter at this point. It’s been months and months and the stress of knowing how long it’s been is making thinking of something to write about even more overwhelming. It’s not that there’s nothing to write about. I have a thousand half ideas swarm around my brain every night while I try to sleep. But none of them materialize into anything more than a couple of sentences that may or may not make sense. Dozens of things have happened, both personally and in the world, since I posted last that I have strong opinions on but it feels like so many things keep happening back to back to back that I can’t focus on any one thing long enough to form coherent thoughts.

I haven’t written since November. On the personal side, I moved in with my parents for three weeks in December. We threw my mom and dad a *surprise* fortieth anniversary party, which really should be it’s own post. I use asterisks for surprise because someone kind of gave it away but the scale of the party and the number of sweet friends who came out to celebrate them was still a huge surprise.

It turned out great and we all had a lot of fun. Afterwards, mama kept saying, “next time..” Listen lady, I love y’all but I ain’t doing this again. Maybe for their 50th, they’ll surprise us with a party.

I’m at the airport right now. My flight is delayed and my book is boring, hence why I am finally trying to string some words together in this notes app. I don’t even care if they are coherent anymore. I just have to relieve the self-applied pressure of knowing how long it’s been since I wrote anything. I knew it was bad when my sweet husband mentioned it the other day. Not in a judgy or accusing way. He just casually said, “you haven’t written in a long time, have you?” Considering he wouldn’t notice for a week if I shaved an eyebrow, that’s when I knew it had been too long and I was just going to have to suck it up and write some words down.

A couple of months ago I was talking to a friend about it and she was like, you just need to write a little every day to get your ideas flowing. Which is completely reasonable and good advice and that’s why it annoyed me so much. She’s one of those people who seems totally together all the time. Like, gets up to jog before work, that kind of thing. Ugh. I wish I didn’t love her because hating her would really be fun.

I can’t stop thinking about that nurse in Tennessee. Going to prison for a mistake. But police officers are not even charged when they storm into the wrong house or pull their gun instead of taser. I’m not saying what is wrong and what is right because I don’t know. It just feels like some people are held to different standards and judged by stricter rules. This is also a subject I should probably come back to when I’m better able to articulate my thoughts.

There are two people watching a movie on a phone next to me right now. Out loud. I’m about to scoot over and join in. In a who can be more obnoxious contest I promise you I will win.

Ok. Maybe this is enough to break the can’t post won’t post curse and next time I’ll have several thoughts about the same subject I can fashion together. We’ll see how it goes.

Today’s my dad’s birthday. I told y’all we were gonna be all over the place. Happy birthday, daddy! Thanks for leaving me in space to die that one time.


Heyyyy. Long time no post. I can’t remember the last thing I wrote. I can’t go back and look either because the second I hit publish they all seem dumb and cringey to me so I employ a strategy of pretending none of my previous posts even exist. I just can’t get into a writing mood lately. And once I let go of my rigid every Thursday schedule it kind of all went out the window. That’s how I tend to be about most things. Either super militant and overly obsessed or I let it go entirely and could genuinely not care about it less.

Anyway here we are. I’m pretty sure my last few posts were more serious therefore it’s high time for another funny one. I haven’t told a Mackenzie is a moron story in a bit so strap in, this one’s a gem.

A little background. I left Ole Miss in 2007 lacking one Spanish credit to finish my degree. I put it off for awhile like fickle, unfocused 20-somethings are wont. The switch finally flipped from couldn’t care less to finishing this degree is the most important thing on earth so I signed up for an online Spanish class at Houston Community College in 2010.

In a case of honesty is usually the best policy, I straight up told the teacher I was not at all interested in learning Spanish I just needed to pass this class and would be exerting exactly as much effort as that required. She said, fair enough, and I ended up being the best in the class which is a harsh critique of the rest of them. I spent many work days at my desk with a google translate page open on each of my screens. I would translate the Spanish homework assignments into English so I could read them, type my answers in English then google translate them to Spanish, and copy/paste into my homework. Just like piano lessons as a kid, I made it through this whole class without learning a single thing. I’m not proud of it but it is a specific talent that I have. I can drive somewhere a hundred times and still not know how to get there.

Ok here comes the dumb part. This is during the time The Boy and I were still pretty newly dating. Just about every other weekend we left work on Friday afternoons and drove six hours west to his ranch, returning to Houston on Sunday. Every Friday we passed a giant billboard just east of San Antonio that read, in huge red letters, “HAY SALES”, with a phone number. That’s all it said.

Even though I intended and mostly succeeded at learning zero Spanish, some of it did seep its way into my brain. For weeks, every Friday that we drove by this sign I found myself wondering what that sign translated to in English.

In my defense, “hay” is a Spanish word that means there is or there are. And “sales” (pronounced sah-lace) is the you infinitive form of the word “salir”, meaning to leave or to go out.

I couldn’t make sense of it. The Spanish translations that I knew didn’t seem to fit but it never once occurred to me that it was just an English sign announcing hay for sale. Not once.

I thought about it every time I saw it for probably two months. Finally one Friday we passed that sign and it suddenly hit me like a frying pan that I’m an idiot. I lost my mind. I laughed so hard The Boy got concerned. He kept asking what was so funny, I think he thought I was finally snapping. For a half second I considered keeping it to myself but I’m not a good enough improv actor to come up with a less embarrassing reason to be so hysterical on the fly so I told him the whole story. I’ve rarely ever seen him laugh so hard.

My real mistake was letting him tell this story to all our friends and family. It’s become the stuff of legends and I’ve done a lot of dumb things. At least once a year at a holiday get together it gets told and everyone laughs until they cry. My dad tells this story every chance he gets. “Hay Sales” has become a bit of rallying cry for our family.

There’s no life lesson to take from this post unless it’s that we’re all dumb sometimes and you can either embrace it or suffer from it. And maybe that the better your family, the longer they will hold your dumb moments against you for general entertainment purposes. That’s ok. I wouldn’t take it back even if I could.

Let Them Go

You’re allowed to just walk away. When a friendship has become complicated or one sided. When it’s clear they no longer have your best interests at heart. When you never know what they’re going to tell you next and you can’t trust it anyway. Let them go.

Even those people you have genuine love for. Even the ones that played a huge role in your life once. Even the friends that used to feel like family. Let them go.

One of the major goals throughout life is growth. Change is constant and, more often than not, welcome in the long run. We aren’t meant to be who we used to be. Or believe and think the things we always did. Self-awareness and personal betterment are the markers of maturity and success.

Sometimes that change is painful. Sometimes that growth means leaving people behind. Even people you once could picture in your future. Let them go.

They’re not for you anymore.

And they will always tell you. Not straight up in as many words. But in their actions, or lack thereof. When someone makes it clear you are no longer important to them, believe them. They will let you know when it’s ok to stop leaving space in your life for them. When you can’t trust a friend to be upfront and honorable with you, that’s not a friendship anymore. When they have changed the rules of the game, you are well within your rights to stop playing. You don’t have to be mad about it. Just done.

You won’t have to beg the ones meant to fill your circle to be there. You won’t have to ask them to be truthful with you. You won’t have to wonder how they feel or where you stand with them because they will always tell you. And show you. When it feels easy and natural, it’s because it is. When you feel comfortable and confident in a group, it’s because that is your tribe. Those are the ones who will walk through life with you. Lift you up when you need it, talk mad crap about those that hurt you, then pick you up and move on with you, hand in hand.

Those people. Those are the ones you keep.

Let the rest of them go.

Dear Gabby

Dear Gabby,

I’m so sorry, honey. I’m so sorry you’re gone. I’m so sorry you spent your last days with the man who would murder you. True, nothing is *proven* in a court of law, innocent until proven guilty, whatever. But we all know what happened. We watched the footage. Too many of us know exactly what was going on in that van no matter how hard you tried to play it down and take the blame. They always know how to talk a good game. They put on a show to the world and everyone says, “what a great young man!”

“She must be handful.”

“Y’all are so good together!”

But it’s not like that when you’re alone, is it? As easily as he turned it on for the police, he can switch it back off. No one would believe you if you tried to tell them how crazy it can get. How alone you feel. No you weren’t perfect. You were 22. You weren’t supposed to be perfect or even good at this whole life thing yet. But you weren’t supposed to be a victim either.

I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you didn’t know that you didn’t need him. That you were so much better than him. He knew. I’m so sorry you never had the chance to learn any better. And you would have. You would have figured out that you deserved so much more. You would have outgrown him. Maybe you already were. Maybe that’s why you’re gone.

I’m so sorry, Gabby.

But we promise you this, your legacy will be bigger and longer than your sweet, short life was. We won’t forget you. And we won’t let them. We will use your story to hold them accountable. All of them. Your tragic tale, and so many others just like it, will be passed down to the next generation of girls. We will teach them the warning signs. We will teach them to stand up and walk away. We will teach them they are worth so much more.

And so are you.

Gabrielle Petito

1999 – 2021

The New York Times, Petito family

Dear Child, Today is your Birthday

Dear Child,

Today is your birthday. Eighteen years ago today you turned 18. It was 2003. The world had changed and now so would you. You thought you were so smart and so grown. As only experience and hindsight can prove, you’re now painfully aware that you were not. I wouldn’t go back and relive those years for anything in the world. But there are a few things I wish I could tell that girl. That intelligent, ignorant, confident, terrified child.

First things first, LEAVE YOUR EYEBROWS ALONE. The pencil thin brow is just a fad and a stupid one at that. Your brow should begin in line with the inside corner of your eye and taper all the way past the outside corner. This is very, very important. If you heed nothing else I say, please take this to heart. While we’re on the subject, wash your face every night, do not go to bed with makeup on and make sunscreen your friend right now. Nothing less than SPF30 on your face at all times. I can’t believe we used to slather ourselves in baby oil and lay in the sun like strips of bacon with a cancer wish. SPF15 all over your body no matter how long you’ll be outside and at least 30 from the nipples up. You will thank me.

I want you to remember to trust your gut. You will do some extremely stupid things in the next few years, many of which could be avoided by listening to that little voice that often sounds a lot like your mother. Your instincts are good and your intuition is strong. Pay attention to it. Don’t discount it because some rando says it’s fine.

I should reiterate here. When I say you’ll do some extremely stupid things, I mean some really ignorant, truly dangerous, life threatening shit. In the intervening years you will think many times, how did I not die?! The piece of advice on this is, never be afraid to call your parents. You will suffer through some traumatic, painful days all alone because you underestimate how much they love you. When they come pick you up from jail, their disappointment will take a backseat and they will ask where you want to go for breakfast. I didn’t know at the time what unconditional love actually meant. I wish I had known sooner what a solid rock of a sounding board my mom would be.

Anxiety and depression. Call them by their names. Putting a clear label on something takes away half its power because it’s no longer an unknown. Things are scarier in the dark so shine a light on them. The sooner the better. When you correlate what you feel with these terms that can be researched and understood, suddenly it’s just another manageable part of life. Once you realize you’re not alone, it’s easier to deal with. And when it’s still too much, reach out. Please don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses.

Avoiding your feelings is only a temporary solution. Learn to sit with them. Understand, analyze and break them down. Figure out where they come from and why.

Your pride will be what hurts you most. You build up walls and keep everyone at arms length and act like nothing is important to protect yourself from being hurt. But all you’re really doing is missing out on some wonderful things because you were too afraid to fail or be vulnerable. This is where most of your regrets will lie.

The next thing I wish you knew is that you can walk away. From people, jobs, situations, anything that is giving you a bad vibe or not serving your best interests. As women, especially Southern women, we learn early to be polite. Go with the flow, don’t make waves, don’t make anyone uncomfortable. Except ourselves, which we hide with a smile. You owe no one your time or energy. You can set boundaries politely. You can also throw politeness out the window when the occasion warrants. And sometimes, even if you do nothing wrong you will make unreasonable people upset. But you know what? That’s ok. Sometimes unreasonable people deserve to be upset.

It will still be several years before you begin to realize that you can be a pain in the ass. That’s ok too. Self awareness is one of your best qualities and one that takes a lifetime to sharpen. Know who you are and what you’re worth and never forget it. You’ve already spent too many years trying unsuccessfully to be normal. Eventually you will learn that no one is normal and your specific brand of weird is a lot of fun. FYI, you’re currently carrying a purse with dinosaurs on it.

Your family is amazing, cling to them. Not just your blood family, the one you build from scratch. You will be blown away by the people who become important to you and how they end up in your life in such random ways. No matter the physical distance or how long it’s been, the people who matter will remain. Feel free to cut the rest out. No relationship has to last forever. Important during one period doesn’t buy a ticket to the rest of your life. Your time, energy and peace are precious. Don’t waste them on those who don’t matter.

Regardless of what all the graduation songs say, this is not the time of your life. The best days are still ahead. You will grow into who you are and love her more everyday. She deserves your patience and respect. She’s not perfect, not even close, but try not to be too hard on her.

Love, Mackenzie

Titles are Hard: A Travel Journal

I haven’t written in awhile. Early on I foolishly fell into writing once a week. I don’t know why Thursday became my day to post or why I feel like I’m not allowed to post any other day. I like patterns and this feels like one I accidentally created for no reason but now can’t bring myself to break. I recently decided that once a week was too much so I talked myself into every other week. Twice a month doesn’t sound too overwhelming. But then last Thursday came and went. I didn’t write anything and I didn’t even feel that bad about it.

A lot’s been going on. We have the luxury of being able to pack up and travel at a moments notice but it doesn’t always feel like a blessing. We made the drive from Texas to Indiana then Mississippi and back.

Why not fly, you ask? Because we roll deep that’s why. We always take the dog with us. He’s a good, chill traveler and a lot less trouble than the rest of us. But we’ve also become whack jobs who travel with a cat. I know, man. He’s a pretty good car rider too, all things considered. Our first few road trips he puked within an hour of getting in the car but we were on curvy back country roads. This time we stuck to interstates and he did fine. I also pack for any trip like I might never come home, even though I cycle through the same eight pieces of clothing on a regular week.

Up to Indiana to visit an aging father. As good a visit as it could be. Good days and bad days, like us all. It’s a hard gig having to trade roles with your parents and make choices for them that they don’t necessarily agree with. As a kid, parents make decisions about your life because they’re older and wiser. (For most people. The sad reality is that not every kid grows up with any parent who gives a shit at all. As teens we hate them for caring so much. Only as adults do we begin to realize how lucky we were to have someone to hate.) But the fact of the matter is, given a long enough life, the kids will eventually end up becoming the guardians and voices of reason. A blessing and a curse. And the other side of the coin is that not every aging parent has children who will step up and care when the time comes. So to all the parents raising kids and grown kids re-raising parents, I know you’re struggling. I pray for you. Please know that you’re doing what you have to do and if everyone is happy all the time, you’re probably not doing it right.

Then we headed south to Mississippi. I wanted to see my babies (nieces and nephew for the uninitiated) before school starts. To be fair, only one of the kiddos goes to school. Two of our adults do too though.

Unfortunately I planned poorly because it was moving weekend for the kiddos and their parents. Literally moving next door but I really don’t think it matters, moving always sucks. They’re braver people than I am, that’s for sure. The sheer pain in the ass-ness of packing my crap up would have been enough for me to say no thanks and stay where I was. But they see opportunities and they’re bold enough to grab and run with them. That makes me crazy proud of them. And I also now know to ask more specific questions about what everyone has going on before we plan to come visit. Kidding. Mostly.

Finally back to Texas for a doggie doctor appointment and an unplanned beach day. First time I’ve been in a bathing suit all summer. Grew up in Mississippi, live in Texas, I’m an avowed Gulf girl. It was overcast and stormy with a crazy chilly wind (hello wild weather) and the water temp was like last kid bath water. Honestly, pretty perfect.

In the car again today heading back to the ranch. I feel so accomplished for getting this written because I’ve been in a much more reading than writing mood lately and I’m about to dive back into my book. I finished two great reads on this trip that I highly suggest.

I swear I haven’t forgotten about doing a post on our trip to space camp I just have some kind of writers block about it right now. It’s been three years and I still get tired just thinking about it. Hope y’all have a wonderful two weeks. I’ll be back in a couple of Thursdays. Maybe.

Do Not Read This While Eating

This was not the post I had planned for this week. It’s been three years since we went to Adult Space Camp so I was going to write about that today. But that has to wait because I experienced something fairly traumatic today that I must tell you about.

Story time.

I was driving back to the ranch today with the boys and stopped at a gas station to pee. I walk up to the building and go in right behind a middle aged lady (50s?) in a blue dress. She’s got kind of an odd walk and she’s moving pretty slowly but nothing seems weird. She goes straight and I turn right toward the restrooms. All five stalls are full so I wait. Blue dress comes in and waits behind me. I turn to smile at her and my purse sets off the automatic dryer, startling us both. In hindsight, this may have been the moment everything went downhill.

I don’t wait long before a stall opens and I go in to do my business. I’m a fast pee-er so it’s less than two minutes. Believe me when I say nothing could have prepared me for the subsequent two minutes.

I open the stall door and there in front of me is a giant, soft pile of poop on the floor. I stare at it for what feels like an hour but was likely only a few seconds and then raise my eyes to blue dress standing there holding a wad of paper towels. We make eye contact and she mumbles, “Sorry..”

Either my poker face is amazing or I was in such complete shock my synapses had temporarily stopped sending messages to each other. I stepped over the patty and noticed two more along with a trail of poo to the paper towel dispenser. I register another lady at the sink and we make brief eye contact in the mirror. I don’t know at what point she exited her stall and how much of this literal sh*t show she witnessed but the look in her eyes was haunting. I hope she seeks therapy immediately.

I wash my hands and spend another seeming hour trying to think of something to say to this poor lady who is still using gas station paper towels to attempt to pick up loose piles of poop. I want to say something comforting or try to lighten the mood but my voice had failed me and, honestly, what was there to say? I just left.

I did alert the staff to the situation in the bathroom and the look on my face must have spoken volumes.

I feel so bad for her and a little guilty for beating her to the bathroom but I have a lot *A LOT* of questions. Primarily, why did she not make it known that it was an emergency situation?? I would have happily let her cut the line and we would have all had a little less trauma in our lives. Was she not wearing underwear? This seems like a good case for it, as a storage solution at the very least. Why were there three piles? Once it became clear that pooping in the floor is what’s happening, why get up and move around?? How did I not hear any of this from my stall?

Perhaps most interesting, what were the series of poor decisions that led to this moment? Because this isn’t the kind of thing that just happens out of the blue. There were warning signs, chances to turn back, make different choices. We’ve all gotten ourselves in situations like this. Maybe not exactly like this but up sh*ts creek, so to speak. Pun definitely intended.

I think there are a couple of lessons to take from this. You never know what someone is going through so try to be gracious and understanding. And when your gut tells you something, for heaven’s sake, listen to it. It may not repeat itself.

Travel time: six days, Recovery time: 4-6 weeks

Well I seriously misjudged how long it would take me to recover from our Orlando trip. I got back home to my boys last Tuesday and didn’t find the will to unpack or do laundry for a solid week. And that was only because I ran out of clothes I like. The rest of my house is a disaster too and I just nonchalantly watched the cat shred a paper towel all over the floor without batting an eye.

We had an absolute blast. Traveling with your parents as an adult is a very different experience that I highly recommend. My daughter and son in law are my two best friends and going anywhere with them is a riot. The final member of our traveling party was my 10 year old niece, who I learned so, so much from in five days. For example, I learned how to use “boom, roasted” in a sentence, and also how to Dab and when it is appropriate to do so. This one I can’t prove for sure but I have some anecdotal evidence pointing to brain aneurysms being caused by preteens rolling their eyes at you. Boom, roasted.

What I didn’t realize until after the trip was over is that I did not feel the urge to post at all while we were there. I took pictures, albeit far fewer than usual, but something about this trip seemed private, just for us that I didn’t really want to share with anyone else. No offense. I sat at home a few days after struggling to choose photos to share and a caption to go along with them. I’m feeling differently lately about what I want to share with the world and what should be just for my family and me.

As far as tourist swamped theme park trips go, we really did do it right. I’m loath to write about the private event at Universal because I like to think it’s my own personal secret. I discovered Orlando Informer and their meetup at Universal Studios in 2018. I went by myself that year and then mama and daddy got in on it in 2019. It is just about the only way to do Universal Studios. We took it easy in the mornings, had breakfast and played at the pool. Cleaned up and headed into the parks mid-afternoon, just in time for a monster storm. When the parks closed to the public at 7 or 8pm, depending on the night, we had them to ourselves until 12:30am or later. They never say exactly how many tickets they sell to these meetups but I’ve heard it’s capped at about 10% of park capacity and I believe it. Free food, cash bars and a DJ dance party set up in the middle of the street. I always think about how much fun a lot of things would be but I’m so glad I actually talked myself into this one. Mama says she’ll never do Universal any other way again.

The only downside to staying up all night at a private party came Sunday morning when I had to set my alarm for 6:50 to try and enter the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. I don’t know if my reflexes were too slow from the late night or what but we didn’t make it in on the early window. I gotta say I was not terribly sad about it because I went straight back to sleep. When we all got up at a reasonable hour we had breakfast and then decamped to different hotels for the rest of the trip. Made it to Hollywood Studios by about lunchtime and bee lined straight for Tower of Terror and Rock’n Roller coaster, like you do. We did get into the virtual queue at the 1pm window which worked out perfectly.

My hands down, absolute, no question favorite part of the trip was introducing my son in law, Tb, to the Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge. Daddy is an OG Star Wars lover. Like, he and his friends made costumes to wear to the premieres, made the local newspaper and then got a letter from Lucasfilm saying, “Great costumes! Now stop it” OG, so I come by it honest.

Circa 1981

He and I got to experience the new land a couple of years ago and we were both beside ourselves excited for Tb to see it too. Both rides are great. Rise of the Resistance is only a ride in the broadest sense of the word. It truly is an immersive experience and so much fun to be a part of the story. However, I think Smugglers Run took the space cake. If Tb said, “I’m inside the Millenium Falcon!!!” once, he said it one thousand times. Not only was he inside it, he got to pilot the Millenium Falcon and he wore the biggest grin plastered across his face for the next six hours.

My last park day was Magic Kingdom and it was the quintessential Disney World train wreck. Honestly this day deserves its own post if I ever feel up to it because I don’t want to kill this fun piece by griping about how poorly Magic Kingdom seems to be running these days. They have their own giant shoes to fill if they want those of us who grew up with the Mouse to stay in the family and pass the love on to ours. Nostalgia can only take you so far.

All in all, so much fun, so exhausting and so very good to be out in the world again. I couldn’t have asked for a better travel group and I’m so proud of the kiddo for hanging tough with us. She’s so cool and mature I often forget she’s only 10 and I definitely forget what a pain I was at 10. And 20. And yesterday. I think she had a good time too because we’re already making plans for future trips. Next time we’ll probably do something more chill and relaxing though, like running with the bulls in Pamplona.