Yesterday’s pre-trip breakfast. Egg bake, green onion, hummus, coffee. Went back for seconds. Loaded the car with suitcases and the cooler with leftover Corona and turkey.

Before departure, a rinse and repeat cycle of reoccurring baby bye-byes. I stepped out into the Florida sun and located the brake fluid reservoir and topper her off. YouTube rivals any post-secondary education. Instant and effective. I poked my head inside. Still baby bye byes. I YouTubed the engine air filter and cabin air filter. Last week, the lady at Jiffy Lube said they needed changing. I now know where those are. YouTube also showed me related videos on converting a Honda Element into a tiny house, which was amusing and inspiring.

Smooth driving from St. Augustine to Dublin, GA. During the last hour, we pulled over and unstrapped the baby three times. EllieRoo vs the car seat. EllieRoo wins. In the end, the harmonica got the final knock out. The up close vibrations. Made in Germany. Put Ellie right to sleep.

It’s 33 degrees here this morning. Still have a kink in my neck. But there’s progress. I can move my right ear a little closer to my right shoulder. My sister-in-law gave me peppermint oil, which helps. And I’m thinking positive thoughts, which doesn’t seem to multiply neck mobility, but it was the winning recipe for thriving on T-Day weekend. Ooo rah.

Need to pat myself on the back. Last night a Milledgeville friend, Melissa Cameron, tagged me in this anxious dad ‘no you can’t hold the baby’ meme. And for the last five months, that was me. During the handful of family interactions—baby birth, round two of baby birth visits, Labor Day vaca, MN wedding— I was a Cat 4 tropical storm of anxiety, cold stares and “get your germ-ridden-self the fuck away from me and my precious child.”

Due to the blown down trees and severed power lines this caused on the Marital Front, I saw a therapist. And so I did. And during the month wind-up to Thanksgiving, I tried to push positive intentions onto the weekend and myself and the seven other people attending. The verdict?

Surprisingly, I was chill as beef stick in a Bloody Mary. (Maybe I shocked my neck muscles into permanent contraction. Damn pullout mattress kink.)

No but seriously. For the first time in five months, I wasn’t the member of the marital unit gritting their teeth, growling. Kate’s pretty good. Once or twice, she let out a low roar. But only once or twice. And in pretty understandable too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen type circumstances. But me? Wowzers. How did I stay so chill and calm and crisp?

Certainly, the anxiety region of my brain fired. As well as areas of anger and annoyance. But those cognitive christmas lights have proved so disastrous, untrustworthy in the past, I just ignored them. Numbed myself to my cerebral signals.

Sounds shitty. Like the weekend was hell. But after an incident or two, it was like my brain switched to a new operating system. From crisis management to cruise control. Zen Head. And the mental music changed from metal to melody. From Wednesday to Sunday, I did have to recharge batteries twice. Close door, lay down and deep breaths for twenty minutes listening to ambient meditation music.

The moral? Even if you repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly fuck up, if you really want to win the rodeo, you will. You’ll be able to ride the bucking bull into the sunset like it were a quarter game outside the grocery store and not a wild beast of nature.