Karen Jones

KarenBeachDinner

The first time I remember meeting Karen Jones was at a Halloween party in New York City. She was wearing a custom made Jedi costume that looked amazing on her. I remember wishing my costume was that cool. I don’t remember what I was wearing, but I’m sure it was something lame cobbled together at the last minute. The other thing I remember from that meeting was Karen’s big smile and that soft southern accent that said she was from Tennessee.

Despite her roots, Karen loved New York and I’m fairly certain New York loved her right back. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like her. She was smart and funny and really fun to be around. Although I didn’t see her often, she had a significant impact on my life. For example, Karen gave me my first Xbox 360. For a gamer like me, that’s a big deal. Also, keep in mind that she lived in New York and didn’t drive, so she dragged an Xbox 360 console, two controllers and all the cords through the streets of New York, on to the subway, and then carried it down to the Hilton near the Javits Center where I was staying. That’s a long haul, but she wanted me to have it, so she brought it. She was really cool that way.

Karen also got my husband into the first and only inaugural ball he’s ever attended. She took him as her “date.” I used to tease her that she was the only woman I ever let date my husband. And she’d laugh. Karen had a big laugh and a big smile and I miss it.

Karen died last week. And even though she lived in New York and I live in Virginia, her absence is keenly felt. I was used to seeing her post on Twitter on a regular basis and I’ve watched her beautiful little nieces growing up on Facebook. I have spent weeks with her at the beach, and I’ve been to parties with her, and had her over for Thanksgiving, and we talked on the phone occasionally, but we didn’t see each other regularly, but thanks to the internet, it felt like I saw her way more often than I actually did.

We shared a love of silly T-shirts, video games, and general foolishness. It’s hard to imagine she won’t be there to banter with on Twitter, or to answer my web design questions, or to talk personal finance with. Despite her fun demeanor, Karen was serious when it came to financial responsibility and all of us admired her for it. We’ve had many money talks over the years and I always valued her opinion. It’s hard to lose one of your go-to people and Karen was one of mine. I know she played that role in a lot of lives and that there are many people out there, friends and family, who are heart broken right now. She will be missed.

Colin&Karen

Swimming Leads to Fabulous Coats, Right?

Olivia-Pope-Swim-1

I’ve never been a swimmer. My parents sent me to swim lessons as a child but they didn’t stick. I took group lessons as a young adult and they didn’t stick either. I did, however, learn to be an excellent drowning victim. Go limp when the rescue swimmer gets to you. Don’t fight it. Let them rescue you. They know what they’re doing.

It’s perhaps due to my excellent skills at drowning that I’m vaguely afraid of the water, prefer showers to baths, and consider the ocean to be a very pretty bowl of excrement and semen. I get that that’s not the right attitude. I do. Really.

But I have bad knees. Specifically, I have bad cartilage in my knees. They have never been great, but as I’ve gotten old and fatter, they are worse now than ever. When you have bad knees and want to lose weight to make things easier on your knees, everyone tells you to swim.

So because Olivia Pope on Scandal swims and she looks great, and more importantly has fabulous coats, I decided to give it a try. Although, when I told my personal trainer, Matt, that I expected to emerge from the pool as a beautiful black woman with fabulous coats, he gave me a confused look before laughing nervously.

Despite being somewhat disturbed by my goal setting, Matt is a good instructor. The first week we practiced kicking with a kick board until I could make it the length of the pool. I was able to slowly go the entire 22.5 meters. I practiced on my own a few days later. Today I had my second class. We continued with the kick board and then had me lean back on a noodle in a reclining position and kick that way. He explained how the backstroke worked and then I tried ditching the noodle and adding in the arm motion. And it worked. I very slowly (although faster than with the kick board) did a back stroke the entire not-standard-olympic length of the pool and I’m feeling pretty darn good about it.

I don’t think I’m in any danger of being invited to join a swim team, and I’m a little confused about when the coat shopping happens in the whole process, but I think it’s going well.