[ NOTE: I wrote this in Australia and hit publish as I boarded the plane, but apparently it didn’t quite publish. Hah! So I’m home now and I just updated the post and am hitting publish again. ]

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I think it’s about time for a Random Thoughts post, right? Here’s what’s on my mind at the moment.

– Hello from the future. I’m writing this from the Sydney airport. It’s almost 5:00 PM on Monday. I’ll board the flight in about an hour, and I’ll go back in time, arriving in San Francisco at around Noon on Monday. What a remarkable trip this has been. I took about a million photos, 30% of which are shots of the Opera House — I tell you that building is irresistible. And Ben Blair is headed my way with one last Iced Chocolate to enjoy while we wait. I’m excited to give you a report of the whole trip — including details about my presentation and panel at the Feminist Writer’s Festival.

– Because I’ve been in tourist mode, I’ve mostly not been checking-in to my usual news sources, but every time I do my heart rate speeds up. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but like many people, I’m feeling quite emotional about tomorrow’s election.

I feel so hopeful when I read statistics about the number of young people who have participated in early voting, or are planning to vote tomorrow. I have LOVED seeing my Instagram feed full of friends who are block-walking, texting, and phone-banking to get out the vote. But I also feel a good dose of dread that despite all the work, and despite a huge increase in number of voters, that somehow the whole thing will go south.

What kind of influence has systematic Russian interference had on the mid-terms? Have you seen the NYT report of how prolific fake news stories are on Facebook this election cycle? Have you followed the voter prevention stories in places like Georgia and North Dakota? Ugh.

– I loved this thread from a historian talking about the sacrifices — even just since the modern civil rights era — that have been made to make voting accessible to all. It makes me grateful for the opportunity to vote, and I’m excited my two oldest kids can vote tomorrow as well.

Will you be voting? Do you have any kids old enough to vote? Have you had time to study the issues that will be on your local ballot? Olive has been helping us study our local options.

– For the first time in many years we won’t be having Thanksgiving dinner at our own house. We’re headed to San Diego to have Thanksgiving with my siblings and my mom. We wanted to have a gathering to celebrate what would have been my parents’ 50th anniversary. We’re all staying at a hotel and ordering in for the Thanksgiving feast. I’m simultaneously looking forward to having the day off from cooking and hosting duties, and already missing the leftover pie. : )

Are you hosting this year? If yes, is that exciting for you? Or do you find it stressful? Maybe somewhere in-between?

– Remember the amazing house we lived in in France? Called La Cressonniere? Well, when we moved in, the couple who owned the house — Hugues Sineux and Denise Anderson — moved to Sydney. He’s French, and she’s Australian. They originally only planned to stay in Sydney for a couple of years, but they’ve ended up sticking around. During our trip, Ben Blair and I got to hang out with them — and it was the first time I met them in person! Such a fun thing. It felt like meeting old friends — we had all sorts of shared experiences to talk about, but it was the first time ever being all together. Their college-age daughter Josephine came too. They picked us up early, took us on a coastal sculpture hike, then we went to breakfast, and visited a local street market (I bought wrapping paper and earrings).

I’ll tell you more about our adventures when I report on the trip, but am still feeling so lucky that I got to spend several happy hours with them.

– Throughout the trip, I felt so grateful for everyone who was helping at home. Trying to take a trip as a couple is so challenging! It’s easy to put it off, or not go at all. There are so many family-life details that have to be communicated and taken care of. I travel alone for work, and Ben Blair travels alone for work, quite a bit. We share the parenting duties pretty evenly, so heading off on a trip with just one of us is no problem at all. But when it’s both of us, holy cow. It feels overwhelming! It’s worth it, but it’s hard to prep for.

And it’s hard for the kids too — it can mess with their schedules and feel like a big emotional burden. But our kids were so supportive and helpful. Olive made a playlist of some of my favorite songs and made sure it was downloaded on my phone so I could listen to it on the plane if I was feeling stressed out. She called it Mom’s Comfort Songs. Maude promised she would come home for trick-or-treating to make sure everything went smoothly — and braid wonder woman’s hair if needed. You might remember we have two friends from France visiting, and they’ve never been trick-or-treating, so we wanted to make sure it was a fun night. As we landed, we got a text from Ralph that he was on the way to the airport to pick us up. We were planning to jump in an uber, so this was a nice surprise.

– Our dear friend Audrey came to stay while we were gone. She was chauffeur, she helped the kids keep to their regular schedule, and she made sure there was dinner. She brought her super charming 3-year-old Brynn, who kept everyone entertained. She knows our kids super well, and she knows our family culture, and she’s just the BEST. We’ve brought her to our home to care for the kids for many, many years — since we first moved to New York! I don’t think we would have been able to make this couples trip happen without her help.

– My three youngest kids — Oscar, Betty, and June — are performing in Scrooge the Musical on Temple Hill again this year. It will be their third time — and I think the final time this show will be done for awhile. I heard the production team is planning a break for at least a couple of years, so if you’re local, now’s a great time to see the show. Oscar will be reprising his role as Tiny Tim — which includes a big solo song! You can find info here. The tickets are free and the performance is excellent — there’s even a live orchestra.

That’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to my random thoughts, or you can leave your own random thoughts in the comments. I always love to hear what’s on your mind.

P.S. — More random thoughts.