The Sonia Show

Writer. Podcaster. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.


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Content strategy is so hot right now

Yeah, so, I think I’ve finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up. I mean, other than retire.

I recently discovered that I like content strategy.

Weird, right? It only took me about 10 years to figure it out. Around this time last year, I was transferred from the Oakland office to the San Francisco office to join the content team. Instead of just writing content for one of our companies, I’d be working on content for all of our companies.

Shortly after I got there, I was asked by my new boss if I’d like to really do the Content Marketing Manager job. I have the title, but I didn’t work much with the metrics and the funnel, and shit like that. I said, “Sure. Why not?”

Well, it turns out that I don’t like metrics. Numbers are not my jam.

At the same time, I started working on this big, new project. The corporate overlords are launching an entirely new section of their website, and I started working with a Content Strategist named Nina on all the copy. From blog articles to transactional learning content to the micro-content in the shopping cart, I worked with Nina on all of it.

I like it. I like it a lot.

I love writing. I mean, duh. But it turns out I like thinking about the customer journey. I like thinking about creating the content to help them through the shopping process. AND, it turns out that one of the things that’s kinda in fashion when it comes to website content is making it less stuffy. You know, write like people actually talk. Well, I fuckin’ love that shit. That’s all this blog is. Writing like how people talk is so hot right now.

So, I’ve been listening to everything Nina says and picking her brain because she’s all smart and shit. I started listening to a really great podcast by Kristina Halvorson from Brain Traffic. And at Nina’s recommendation, I started reading Halvorson’s book, too.

I’m feeling like a real goober right now talking about work and content strategy, but the truth is … I’m kinda excited, you guys. It’s been a long time since I really cared about work. I mean, I always kinda care. I have a work ethic, and I’m not a completely lazy asshole. SHUT UP. I’m not! You’re the lazy asshole!

So anyway, now I have an idea of what I want to do. I’m not just feeling around in the dark, writing whatever is asked of me without any rhyme or reason.

Does this mean I’m going to go back to school and get another degree in content strategy? Hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahhahah! *deep breath* Hahahahhahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahah!

Seriously, going back to school is my nightmare. It’s my recurring anxiety nightmare, so that isn’t happening. I can’t imagine anything worse than homework and tests. BUT, I think I can learn a lot at my job and apply what I learn. Plus, it keeps me away from numbers.

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This is a sext, right?

Yeah, so, it’s been almost 10 years together, and we’re still sexting.

My mighty, mighty good man David knows what turns me on …

And I know just what he likes …


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Make it sprain

Yeah, so, remember when I fell in a restaurant and broke some glasses and spilled food everywhere? Well, it turns out I sprained my ankle.

After I fell, I had some bruises, and my ankle was ankle sore, but I figured that’s because I caught it on the bench. It’s why I fell. I continued walking on it, thinking it would just get better. [Narrator’s voice: It didn’t.] Instead it got worse. I limped around on it for two weeks before I finally decided to go to the doctor.

We did an X-ray, and luckily, it is just a sprain. I was starting to worry that it was a hairline fracture or something. The doctor very politely explained that I’m too old for this shit.

Apparently, it’s not a good idea to walk around on a bum ankle for weeks at a time. Who knew? She also told me to wear a brace for two weeks, and if my ankle isn’t feeling better that I need to come back for a MRI. Oh, and no yoga or treadmill for those two weeks. Also, lose some weight, fatty.

OK, she didn’t say that last thing, but she was probably thinking it.

 


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The spin doctors

Yeah, so, I know you guys are aching to know if I went back to yoga, or was I too embarrassed to show my crying face in that class again?

I went back. And back. And back. I was kicking ass, and feeling so good about myself.

And then …

I got vertigo.

I know, right?! I’m so lucky, you guys! I get the best stuff.

Ugh.

I’ve put in my time with illnesses such as breast cancer (twice) and other bullshit. It’s my time to be healthy, dammit! I woke up one morning, and I couldn’t walk because the entire world was spinning. I had to call out to my mighty, mighty good man David, because I was so scared.

I immediately started panicking, so I took an Ativan and went back to bed. I slept until 2 p.m., and when I woke up I felt less spinny. But, I had a heavy head, like I had a head cold, but I didn’t have a head cold.

So, I had David drive me to Kaiser … on his birthday! I mean, what do you get the man who has everything? A wife with vertigo, I guess.

The doctor told me I had vertigo, and he recommended the Epley maneuver to help me. He also did some blood work to make sure I wasn’t dying and prescribed some sort of Dramamine.

So, yeah, I’ve been doing that maneuver, and it’s been helping. I also started acupuncture again. Acupuncture helps with the vertigo, and it is also helping me with the anxiety that having vertigo has given me. Now that I’ve had vertigo experience, I have all this anxiety that I’m going to get vertigo again, which makes me feel spinny and lightheaded. It’s the circle of anxiety and vertigo! Wheeeeeee!

I did give myself an entire day to feel sorry for myself. I was in a great routine with yoga and going to the gym. I was feeling really healthy and happy. This vertigo really threw me off balance, physically and emotionally. I was not happy. I was really grumpy, so I ordered delivery for dinner and drank a big beer.

But, the vertigo is under enough control that I was able to return to yoga this week, which makes me happy. I returned to my crying class on Tuesday, and – as usual – I was completely struggling. But, instead of bawling like last time, I told myself that I can only do what I can do. And, as the great thought leader Daniel Tiger says, “Keep trying, you’ll get better.”


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There’s no crying in yoga

Yeah, so, I made a New Year’s resolution to be healthier in 2018 … just like a majority of human beings (and some animals – probably).

I’ve been eating healthier, and preparing whole food, plant-based meals using the Forks Over Knives meal planner. I even joined the gym down the street from me. It’s walking distance from my house, so I can walk to the gym so I can walk on the treadmill and listen to podcasts. I know what you are thinking: “Why don’t you just walk around your neighborhood, dummy?” Because. That’s why! Also, I feel safer in the gym, where I don’t have to worry about someone mugging me or hitting me with their car.

AND, the gym has yoga classes! I started going back to yoga, which always makes me happy. I’m so out of practice, so I’ve been easing my way back into it.

I started with a restorative yoga class which is very mellow. You know, it’s one of those classes in which the instructor says, “You’re going to need three bolsters, four blankets and two blocks.” And you think, “YAAAAAS!” Then you spend 90 minutes trying not to fall asleep in some crazy yoga pose. I love that class.

I also started another class on Monday nights that is a little more vinyasa flowy – it’s more challenging but not too challenging. I can kinda keep up.

But this is a story about the Saturday morning class …

It’s a class for students with an existing practice, which I have … sort of. I mean, I used to be good at yoga. I’m rusty and out of shape, but I never walk into a new class at think, “Oh, I’ll be able to do all the things.” I’ll just do what I can and hopefully, I’ll get stronger and better.

So, I walked into the class on Saturday, and I spoke with the teacher. I gave her some background. Breast cancer, mastectomy,  chemotherapy and breast reconstruction surgery – all things that make me struggle sometimes in a yoga class. I can’t do any amazing backbends, stuff like that. Maybe someday, but not yet. I told her I’m out of practice, but I really want to get back to it.

“You might find this class challenging, but just do what you can,” she kindly told me.

She was right. About 20 minutes into the class, and I was already struggling. I had to take child’s pose a few times. It felt really hot in the class.

“It’s really hot in here. Oh god! I hope I don’t pass out,” I thought.

And then that was it. I started panicking that I was going to pass out. Then I started beating myself up. I’m so out of shape. I used to be good at yoga, and now I suck at it. I’m embarrassing myself in this class. I was fighting my urge to just roll up my mat and run out of the class.

I worked myself up, so when the nice instructor came by to modify me in a pose I started crying. CRYING! Bawling, really. Tears. The works.

“Oh no! What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I’m so embarrassed. You are right. This class is too challenging for me,” I sobbed. “I used to be good at yoga. And now I’m so terrible at it. Oh god! I’m so embarrassed. I’m so embarrassed.”

The instructor was so kind to me.

“You are the best student in this class,” she told me. “You are working so hard, internally and externally. Yoga isn’t easy. No one is good at yoga. You just do what you can, and that’s all you can do, and I will support you.”

I wiped my tears, and I said, “I’ll keep trying.”

I stayed on my mat and finished the class. It was hard: physically and emotionally. When the class was over, the instructor came to my mat, and instantly I started crying again.

“Thank you for helping me,” I cried. “I’m really embarrassed. I guess I have some work to do on my body and my mind.”

We chatted for a bit about how yoga is exactly what I need. It’s going to help me.

“You’re not the only one who was in child’s pose today,” she told me. “And you’re not the only one who cried during a yoga class. It happens all the time.”

“I know this class was really hard for me, and maybe I’m not at this level, but if it’s OK with you, I’d really like to come back next Saturday and try again,” I said.

“I would be so disappointed if you didn’t,” she replied. “This is the class for you. It’s what you need.” And then she asked if she could hug me.

And even though I barely made it through, and even though I embarrassed myself by crying, I left the class feeling like I’m going to get better. I was proud of myself for not running away. I was proud of myself for just saying how I felt, even though it might sound stupid.

I felt so motivated that after class I went home and bought a new yoga mat, yoga mat tote and yoga pants. Any reason to shop, I guess.

I told my mighty, mighty good man David what happened.

“I think I’m just too hard on myself,” I said.

“Breaking news: Sonia is too hard on herself,” he said. “Way to point out the obvious.”

So, yeah, I’m really mean to myself. What’s up with that? I’m nice to other people, but I’m a real asshole to myself. I guess that’s something I should work on in 2018, too.

 


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Buh bye, 2017

Yeah, so, this year hasn’t been awesome.

We have a sexual predator in the White House, and – with the help of an enabling GOP – he is attacking this country’s most vulnerable citizens, including the sick, elderly, disabled and immigrants. It’s disgusting and depressing as fuck. It fills me with rage.

I have donated money to organizations and candidates who are helping people and fighting for what’s right. I’ve been calling my reps, and occasionally reps in other districts since their votes affect me. I do what I can handle, and it makes me feel a little less helpless.

BUT, I wanted to focus on some good things that happened this year in the MansTracy household.

My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin started kindergarten, and he is flourishing. He’s so happy, and he’s learning so much. His language skills have improved by leaps and bounds.

I got a new job … kinda. The big corporate overload moved me from the Oakland office where I was the lone content person from the past 8 years to the San Francisco office to join the content team. And instead of just working on content for one brand, I will be working on the content with the team on all the brands. I’m really excited and nervous. Writing is in my comfort zone. Thinking big picture is outside my comfort zone. But, I’m down to expand my skillset. Plus, I super love being in the SF office. Not only has it cut my commute in half (and I’m taking BART instead of driving), but I absolutely adore my content coworkers. They are fuckin’ rad as hell.

I got on an airplane all by myself for the first time ever. True story. I met up with my mighty, mighty good man David in Portland after his work trip. We had a great time exploring the city, which is swimming in vegan options for me and beer for both of us. Plus, we got to see our friends Caitlin and Kirk, which made the trip even more awesome.

I got to go to Washington, DC to see my good buddy Katie and her husband Nathan. I finally got to see their house, and we spent some awesome time together walking around the Newseum, going to a Nationals game and sitting on the couch watching YouTube videos, because that’s how we roll.

We went to Santa Cruz again this year for our little family vacation, and we had an amazing time. Calvin has been asking to go back pretty much every day since we got back.

I started baking bread this year. I have always wanted to bake my own bread, but I thought it was too difficult and too time consuming. I found a perfect bread baking book: “Bread Illustrated” from America’s Test Kitchen.

My sister Michelle and my sister from another mister, Amanda, did a spa day at the Sonoma Mission Inn. We got massages and lounged by the pool with drinks. It was heaven.

I went to Bourbon & Branch for David’s birthday, and I discovered that I like gin. That’s a good thing.

 

 

My 15-year-old (!) niece Lorelei came out for the weekend, and we saw “IT” at the Alamo Drafthouse. Lorelei is a Tiny Sonia, so I knew she would love the Alamo Drafthouse. We had so much fun hanging out together. I was scared to see “IT.” I thought it was really fuck me up, but it turns out that I loved being scared about something other than the news.

After our weekend together, I went on a scary movie watching spree. It turns out I love horror movies! Funny enough, I’ve been listening to F This Movie for years, and the host Patrick Bromley is always taking about horror movies. Now I have the courage to actually watch all those movies he’s talking about.

Speaking of podcasts, Dorking Out with Chris & Sonia is still going strong. We recorded a podcast every week, except for one week. Even dorks need a week off once in a while. Super-big, mad props to my co-host Smith for keeping us on schedule, and all the work he does recording the podcast. Oh, and we got this amazing new logo by Jeff Heerman.

I’ll end this post with what everyone wants to see: Dog and cat cuddling action!

Happy New Year, you guys! Let’s hope that 2018 is chrome and shiny.


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Dinner party panic attack

Yeah, so, I had another panic attack.

Once again, nausea was the trigger. Nausea reminds me of chemo, which reminds me of cancer. Fuckin’ chemo. Fuck you, cancer. Cancer/chemo PTSD is a real thing, you guys. Here’s what happened …

Friday I was going to a chick dinner at my friend DH’s house. Once a year, my friend DH invites a bunch of her lady friends over for dinner. I look forward to it. It’s really fun to chat with a group of smart, funny, interesting women. It’s really fun. I baked bread and everything. See?

I’m practically a professional baker now, you guys.

So, yeah, I was planning on drinking several glasses of wine at DH’s place, so I took a Lyft. But, when I got into the Lyft, it was 100 degrees. He had the heater cranked all the way up. I’m going through menopause hot-blooded and sweaty all the time, so the heater is not really my friend. I immediately took off my scarf and coat.

“Can you turn off the heat? And can I roll down the window?” I asked, because I’m polite AF.

It wasn’t too long into the ride that I started to feel nauseous. I don’t know why I started feeling sick. Maybe from the heat? Maybe I just wasn’t feeling well? Either way, it wasn’t good. I started to panic.

“Oh my god! I’m going to throw up in this car. I feel nervous. I’m going to have a panic attack. I’m going to throw up in this car and faint, and then the driver is going to rape me and ditch me in Glen Park Canyon.”

Of course, my mind immediately goes to the sunken place, which means my driver isn’t a nice man, but a horrible man who will rape and kill me. (Spoiler alert: He was neither of those things, as far as I know.)

In the car, I just kept repeating to myself, “Keep it together. Keep it together.”

Thankfully, I didn’t throw up in the car, but even if I did I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be the first person to throw up in a Lyft.

When I got to DH’s house, I was in full panic mode. I walked in, and it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t OK. I explained that I was feeling nauseous and having a panic attack, and I needed some time to settle down.

“You’re in a safe place here,” DH reassured me. “Have some wine.”

I had some wine. It was delicious, but it didn’t help. The anxiety was so awful, and the nausea wasn’t going away. I was so bummed. DH’s house looked so lovely. It’s decorated for the holidays, and she had her nice dishes out on the table. It was really nice.

“Her house looks so nice. I’m going to throw up all over her nice house,” I thought to myself. “I am TOTALLY going to throw up all over her nice house!”

All the ladies were gathered in the living room. It was a small gathering, so it wasn’t overwhelming … if I wasn’t having a panic attack. I just blurted it out, “I’m having a panic attack. I’m really sorry.”

Everyone was so sweet and understanding. I felt so embarrassed. They tried distracting me by talking about Chris Pine, Chris Evans and Chris Pratt:  a conversation that I would have been ALL ABOUT if I wasn’t freaking out.

“Keep it together. Keep it together.”

Eventually, I gave up. The nausea wasn’t going away, which meant the panic attack wasn’t going away. I called my mighty, mighty good man David and started crying.

“I feel nauseous. I’m having a panic attack, and you need to come get me,” I said, crying.

“Oh no! Calvin is wet and naked,” he replied. “Are you sure you don’t want to take a Lyft. It’s faster.”

“The idea of a Lyft makes my anxiety so much worse. You need to get Calvin dressed and come get me. I’m so sorry,” I sobbed.

“Of course! Of course! I love you. I’ll be there as soon as I can,” he said, and even though the nausea didn’t go away, I felt a little better knowing he was coming.

Then I walked into DH’s kitchen where she was prepping some food, and I immediately burst into tears again.

“David is coming to get me. I’m having a really bad panic attack, and I’m so embarrassed,” I bawled. “I feel so stupid.”

DH was totally understanding: “If I had cancer twice and did chemo, I’d probably have some triggers. You’re OK here. You’re safe.”

I sat with the ladies until David arrived. I smiled and did my best to not send out my crazy anxiety vibes. When David arrived, I politely said my goodbyes and headed out. When I got to the car, Calvin was peeing on a bush.

HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

“He couldn’t wait,” David laughed.

On the way home, I took an Ativan, which I always have in my bag. I didn’t take it at DH’s house, because I was afraid it would make me fall asleep on her couch.

When we got home, I instantly crawled into bed. Shortly after, the Ativan kicked in, and it was like a knot was untying. My mind and body just relaxed. Good god, I love Ativan. It’s the fuckin’ shit.

I fell asleep, but woke up around 11:30 p.m. David was still playing his new video game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole. I kissed him. “Thank you for coming to get me.”

“Of course. I’m glad you’re feeling better.”

And then I kissed sleeping Calvin and then climbed back into bed.

Ugh, panic attacks.

I feel lucky that it had been more than a year since I had one. They are so awful and frustrating. I can tell myself, logically, “Dude, you’re fine. Calm down. Who fuckin’ cares if you throw up?” If I threw up at DH’s party, it wouldn’t even be the most embarrassing thing I did at a party. I went to Chico State. It wouldn’t even be the sixth most embarrassing thing I did at a party. I used to get drunk, dance and sing “Cool Rider” from “Grease 2” at parties.

But, my body and another part of my mind doesn’t like logic. It’s just thinking, “We’re totally going to die!”

Panic attacks are the fuckin’ worst.

 

 


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Halloween and the cutest UPS driver

Yeah, so, this was the first year that my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin actually got a little excited about Halloween.

I mean, it wasn’t your typical nonstop talk of costumes and candy. BUT, for the first time, he put on a costume, understood it was a costume and actually liked it. In previous years, we dressed up Calvin in shit we wanted him to wear, because he didn’t care. And the “costume” had to practically not be a costume. It just had to a shirt and pants. No crazy hats, no masks, no weird superhero padded suits. So, he was Captain Kirk a few times, and last year he was Batman, because I found some cute Batman footie pajamas at Target.

This year, my mighty, mighty good man David came up with the brilliant idea of really trying to pick something that Calvin would like. Calvin is not into comic book movies or Pokemon, or any lot of the other costumes that kids want to wear. He likes Curious George, Daniel Tiger and the “Toy Story” movies, but he doesn’t want to dress up as those characters. Believe me, we tried.

Here’s what Calvin loves: trains, buses, cars, trucks and ceiling fans. Finally, David settled on getting Calvin a UPS delivery man costume. Calvin knows who that is, and he likes them. I knew he would never carry a package around with him, so I ordered him a little UPS truck to carry around.

On Halloween, I walked him to the school bus. I had the costume and truck in his backpack for the school’s Halloween parade. While we were waiting for the bus, I decided to give it a shot. I took the UPS truck out of his backpack.

“It’s a mail truck! Can I have it?” he asked.

“Of course. AND, I have something else you might like,” I told him. I took the UPS shirt out of his bag and asked him if I could put it on him. “It’s a mail truck driver shirt.”

He put it on, and he started jumping around excitedly.

“I’m a mail truck driver! I’m a mail truck driver!”

He even wore the hat, you guys!

He wore the costume all day. He walked in the school’s Halloween parade. He trick or treated that night.

We trick or treat on Chenery in Glen Park. It’s just a few blocks from our house, and the entire street goes all out. Tons of decorations, eager people on their porches with tons of candy (and wine for the adult trick or treaters like me).

Every adult loved Calvin’s costume, because all adults love to see the UPS delivery person. And, he’s such a polite trick or treater. At every house he said says, “Trick or treat,” and takes one piece of candy. He smells it before he puts in his bucket, because he wants the chocolate. (Sadly, that means no Smarties for me. Dammit!)

“Thank you very much,” he says. Most of the time, because he is so polite, people give him extra candy. Maybe that’s part of his master plan.

Then, after a few blocks of trick or treating, he decided he had enough candy.

“Let’s go look at the fans,” he said. “I’m all done.”

So, we walked over to the businesses on Diamond and checked out a few ceiling fans. Some people offered him candy, assuming he was still trick or treating.

“No, thank you,” he replied. They would look at us so confused. They looked like this.

What kid turns down candy? Our kid. It’s one of the many things that’s so fuckin’ awesome about him.

A few other random Halloween things …

We went to our friend Roger’s birthday party/Halloween party, and we dressed up as the carpet from “The Shining.” It’s probably the scariest costume I’ve ever worn.

But on Halloween proper, I decided to wear this cute Halloween dress I bought on Think Geek for about $25. It’s got black cats and pumpkins on it. I decided to wear a wig, and it turned into a Sonia S. Pumpkins costume.

The UPS driver and Sonia S. Pumpkins. Any questions?

Close up of the wig, glasses and dress (dress from Think Geek).


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Lipstick Jungle

Yeah, so, I have an addiction.

No, not beer. But good guess, you guys!

I cannot stop buying lipstick. I have 30 different lipsticks – most of them are some variation of red. I don’t mean, “Oh, I have a few tubes of lipstick.” I mean, I have a lot of lipsticks.

I have 30 different lipsticks. I have a drawer in my bathroom that is mostly filled with lipstick. I usually have two or three of them in my purse at any given time.

This is a ridiculous amount of lipstick, right?

I don’t buy a lot of the cosmetics. I have one foundation I use. I have one face power I use. I don’t wear eye shadow or mascara. I do fill in my eyebrows, but I’ve only got one powder that I use for that, too.

It’s all about lipstick for me. I’ll just stroll through Target, Walgreen, Rite Aid, wherever, and I’ll end up buying a lipstick and maybe a tinted lip balm, even though I don’t need them.

My makeup drawer is jam-packed with lipstick, and if I try to clean it out, I end up keeping almost of them.

“No, I can’t get rid of that one. I might wear it.”

“Oh, what if I run out? I might need that one if I’m desperate.”

“I wore that lipstick on my wedding day almost 8 years ago. I can’t get rid of that one. It’s sentimental.”

I wish I was exaggerating.

I have two feet worth of lipstick.

I have a Toby and a half of lipsticks.

I have a Kubo and a half of lipstick.

I have two wine bottles worth of lipstick.

I’m not sure why I keep buying lipstick, when I already have so many. Maybe I’m hunting for the perfect lipstick; the one that will be that perfect shade of red and last all day without rubbing off when I eat and drink and without drying out my lips and makes me look 15 years younger and 30 pounds lighter.

I mean, are all those things too much to ask from one lipstick? GAWD!

Tell me about your makeup drawer. What are you collecting in there?


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My Totally Boring Dream Story

Yeah, so, I had a dream the other night … Hey, where are you going? I get it. Dream talk is boring. Come on. It’s a short story.

Anyway, in the dream, my mighty, mighty good man David said I was stupid, and he was going to divorce me.

“You fooled me for a while, but you are really stupid. I will be letting the zoo know that we are divorcing,” he said.

So, just to be clear, in my dream, it was David’s top priority to let the zoo know that our family membership status would be changing.

I told him about my dream the next morning.

“Well, you don’t want to mess with the zoo people,” he replied.

And now, whenever we have a disagreement David says, “Oh that’s it. I’m calling the zoo.”