Dear Much Younger Self

My darling younger Laurie,

What I am doing is nothing new.  In fact, writing letters to one’s younger self is downright hackneyed.   Everyone does it.   Oprah did it a few years ago and the world went ape shit,  she then wrote her own eulogy and all  of Alpha Centauri had a brown out.    Ah, the infinite power of The Oprah.

I guess I could take it one step further and  write my  own epitaph while I’m at it.


First, we’ll address us when we were 20.     Nice time.    We are/were was young and thin.    Still living in Austin before the severe leftist intrusion the late 80’s.    College was fun, like high school with ash trays.   It was a raucous time to be alive.   Back then, no one tried so hard to be different.   Uniqueness just was– not a lifestyle pursuit.

You’ll look back one day and laugh at how during your college years, you moved every time the rent went up.  Silly.  Don’t do it.  it’ll only cost more in the long run.   The $72.00 a  week you’ll make at that retail store will be tough to live on, but it’ll be one of your greatest teachers.   Yes, a paycheck such as it,  will be a wonderful learning tool……you’ll learn to go without.  But that’s important.     You’ll learn how to moderate moderation.

It’ll be a hassle to be a  full-time student working at a crappy job that introduced itself to you as a crappy job.   We knew it when you said “Yes to the stress”.    But you’ll  do just fine.   You’ll learn to live within your means and you already know about talking in a higher octave to buy a cheaper Happy Meal without the guilt.

Never forget get those insidious roach infested apartments we lived in.   They were and for some time, will be, tiny and cramped.  They will, be lean to’s with a few shingles, some with indoor plumbing.   But you’ll appreciate that you have a roof over your head.   . But never forget, the DNA of a hundred previous tenants will always be swirling on every surface.   Avoid the petri dish that will be your kitchens.   Look into healthy ways of employing anorexia in your life, if possible.   You won’t want to place food, much less eat it, anywhere near most of your kitchen counters.

For a time in your  early twenties to age 30 or so, the only letters you’ll receive will be returned check notices from your bank.   You’ll learn to hate that distinctive shade of pink paper that shouts  “welcher…..loser” from behind the envelope’s cellophane window.   But I beg you, don’t beat yourself up about this. Why?  Because you will survive the “student experience”.  And bouncing checks..on purpose, .with intent, is part of that survival experience. I didnt say ethical but it woo bevomecan necessary evil.  In fact, it’s survival  101.   You’ll make those particular sacrifices several times  while still young in life.    And I promise there’s, an end to what seems like an impossible student loan payback process.

You’ll live in neighborhoods that were shady because like your neighbors, you didn’t have a choice.    At least not in the fiscal sense.   And yes, the chasm between you and “the haves” will exist, especially while still in college, You’ll look enviously at those rich, indulged sorority types who were subsidized  by parent-ships, mummy and daddy paid for everything,     You used to think their only goal for four years was to pledge the right sorority, date the right guy from the proper Texas zip code and study, in between winters in Cabo and spring breaks in Gstaad.   But I want you to let go of any resentment ASAP.   It’s beneath your humanity   and besides, everyone has a veneer, a lovely candy coating…..and consequently, everyone has a price they must pay for everything.   The Big Mental Get Even comes later, I promise.    You’ll be amazed how once you’re in the real world, the playing field will be leveled.     Not completely, but more so than it was during your college days.  You’ll grow up, mature and see the error in your thinking.    You’ll eventually right your listing ship with emotional ballast you never thought possible.

Oh and while I’m at it, don’t date a jock at while at The University of  Texas.   It won’t end well.     For him, as it turned out.   Avoid pilots at all costs.  There’s a shoe salesman, a smart yet immature and confused engineer and an selfish actor wanna be in the mix.    Avoid them all.   Run from them…head west, head west!!!

You’ll have a kickass career, especially at the very beginning and while the money isn’t flooding in, your star is rising and you will be heralded in ways you envidioned at age six.     On air, you are loved unconditionally and disliked with as much passion.   Learn to edit criticism from viewers and listeners and for God’s sake, run like hell from broadcast consultants.     All they know is resentment from on-air careers  that went to hell or worse, never went anywhere.   They’re Satan’s spawn on a salad plate filled with nettles.     General Managers with few exceptions are generally full of hot air too, their hands still aching from all the knives they plunged into other people’s backs.    They will eventually stumble and fall as well.   You’ll learn that failure and disappointment are viable and unavoidable  facts of life.    Embrace them.  They are lessons indeed, but not necessarily pass/fail courses.    You can choose your mode of testing.

In order to do that, I urge you to ignore the tall, handsome Canadian.   Avoid the lessservrelationshipscthstbtook morevthsnnthry’ll hive.     Stay clear of the lure of fame even if regional, even if it’s on lowest rung on the show biz latter.  Try to abstain from all the stuff that feels good and either sounds like, or actually includes the letter “x” anywhere its title.   Imbibe less.  Learn that Love is more, much more than having a a few commonalities,    A mutual love of chicken coop welding will bring  you together, but it’s not enough to keep you together.   Love is complicated, regardless of how easy and effortless  it might feel.   Use common sense, don’t be a doormat.   Reinforce your spine constantly.

Please let go of that precious little lion cub by 1975.    Trust me, your life will be easier.    Adolescent first loves are too often idealized and never a reason to seek a vacuum cleaner hose to attach to the exhaust pipe before shutting the garage door.  Not that you’d ever do that,.   But this break up will feel like the absolute end of the world.  It’s actually just the end of a phase….that just feels like forever.   .But please let go early.   There’s power in release.    He never loved you like you loved him.     Seek emotional parity and let him go in the process.  He’s  nothing more than a greasy  kid stuff  memory .

Learn that donuts aren’t sweet bagels, don’t date co-workers.   Madonna will always be thinner than you AND might I add, always a year older.    Calibrate the mania in your life, keep stress on low and battle the inertia, where possible.  And please know this—it’s perfectly fine to be vulnerable, just not to the point of exploitation.

So, be kind  to yourself.   More than I was.   I’m sorry for some of the decisions I made….not so much what I did, but who I did.   Had I been wiser, the tone of this letter would be far less cautionary.  But in spite of all the warnings, there will be good times in your life and yes, you will know joy, but understand that (unless you did an unscripted  180 and became a cloistered nun), it’s not a constant.    It should be, but it can’t be, no matter what bill of goods someone  is trying to sell you.   You’re an errant human and you’ll know joy’s varying degrees throughout your life.    Revel in its presence.     Use time wisely, it never seems to stop until it has passed.   Oy.   Enjoy your memories but stay focused on  your dreams and goals.      And uh….being the first female broadcaster in space, isn’t one of them.

Marriage and motherhood can be in the picture should you choose to form a civil union or procreate….but it’s not an all or nothing scenario.   Don’t let anyone tell you you’re selfish because you don’t want kids…..if, you decide you don’t want kids.  My ability  was compromised after the wreck we had in 1992′.   It’s quite different to not want kids, yet still have it be an option..    It’s quite another thing  to be told you can’t.    But  you’ll  survive that, too.   Welcome menopause and be okay with aging, as long as you don’t attach anything numerical to the process.  Stay away from fun house mirrors and laugh, loudly and often.  Walk tall, learn to accept and respect your gifts. You have more than you have allowed yourself to realize.  Avoid complex carbohydrates and refuse the urge to celebrate your birthday during Fiesta in San Antonio, 1991. As we discussed earlier,  the trip there will literally wreck your life.

You wil lose your best friend to AIDS in 2007 and another very dear friend will be taken by a massive heart attack ten years later.    You’ll lose many colleagues and very close broadcast mentors between  2000 and 2017.   These things will happen in rapid succession and it will eviscerate you emotionally.  Cry all you want, and trust me, you will.   Don’t even bother wearing mascara.   But you’ll recover.   A few will even serve as guides from the other side.   And even if they aren’t really, , it’ll make me good to think so.

Jettison  from your life negative,  needy people, the poseurs , the petty narcissists  and general assholes who are mean spirited and cruel,     This will be easy since station  closures help with attrition.

Invest heavily in Big Pharma and BioMed in 2017.  Oh and something called Alphabet….Google it.

Lastly and perhaps the most important thing Older Me can impart to Younger Me would be this:  your mother wasn’t Kreskin, or Einstein.     She was wrong about a lot of things.



Me at 58.

One comment

  1. You offer a lot of sage advice, Laurie! I wish I’d known some of this stuff when I was first starting out (at around the same time you were, as it happens). There were no manuals on how to live life. There still aren’t, but at least kids nowadays have Google. I had to wing a lot of my decisions with next to no information. I navigated life based on hunches. Hunches, I found out later, are often fabulously, astoundingly wrong.

    The one good thing I had in my arsenal that has served me well in life was a general sense of optimism. I always felt that things were going to get better. I was always on the lookout for opportunities to improve my lot in life, and that, more than anything, kept me moving in the right direction. Being chronically dejected or morose or negative or depressed blinds us to life’s opportunities. (The key word in that sentence was *chronically*. We all get those things from time to time. The trick is to not wallow in them or let them become a way of life or a permanent outlook.)

    Anyway, thanks for a ripping good read. I felt the pain (and learning) of every one of your battle scars. Keep up the good work … and keep on writing!


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