The Year In Woods – 2013

Happy New Year good friends near and far! Reflecting on this past year has been quite difficult, actually I’d say the second hardest year of my life next to Dad’s murder arrest. I have shed more tears and felt such loss, but as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So here I am to prove it. But I have to ask, who the fuck are these THEY people?


January I hit the ground running as Mom’s breast cancer was a bit more serious than originally expected. At first her treatment post-surgery was radiation. I like to call this “cancer-lite.” But then her doctor prescribed 4 rounds of chemo and that’s when it got real. City of Hope is the best hospital ever and she got rockstar treatment. Now cancer-free 6 months, cheers to that!


In February I flew to Los Angeles to help Mom with her chemo treatment. As I landed at LAX on February 11th, I got that phone call where you’re asked if you’re sitting down. My best friend BFF Anne Hurley suffered an aneurysm and was in the hospital already brain dead, being kept alive on life support. It is still shocking to even write this. The amount of sadness I experienced from this loss has been at times unbearable and I’m just now coming to peace with not having her in my life everyday. Anne and I always said if we were gay we’d get married. I’ve been in love before but so far nothing’s worked out. I can safely say that Anne Hurley has been the (hetero) love of my life. My heart is broken but I was lucky to have you, pumpkin.


March not surprisingly, was not a very good month for me. THEY say that grief attacks the lungs and once again, THEY are right. I got pneumonia, then bronchitis. I tried coming into work and was sent home immediately after coughing up a lung on my boss. Oopsy.

shellhammerweddingI was able to end the month on a high note as I went to the most lavish gay wedding ever for my friend Bradford Shellhammer and his partner Georgi at the Russian Tea Room in NYC, with Sandra Bernhard as the officiator. It was a black and white masquerade ball a la Truman Capote’s masquerade ball in the 60’s. People watching mecca.


Then April came as I finished 3 rounds of antibiotics for pneumonia and the cherry blossoms bloomed. I realized how each friendship is a gift and I gave serious thought to who my close friends were vs. the acquaintances I felt obligated to get together with. You know what I mean. I love my friend Ferris (upper left) he is an Aussie doll, he always checks up on me. I came back out to Los Angeles to take Mom to her last chemo appointment where she received a medal, and to visit Dad at his new prison in Chino. I also popped into Westlake High School quickly, my alma mater, and gave an impromptu talk at my dear friend Christina’s poly-sci class on the meaning of life and happiness after graduation. I was a huge hit! Strip clubs was the big topic of course.

MayAnne’s parents organized a memorial for her in May at her Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks. Lots of friends and family that couldn’t make her funeral came out for this and it was a great celebration. We started by drinking airline bottles of alcohol in the church parking lot. Then onto the amazing Mark Anderson’s house where he served lots of barbecue and red wine. We all told stories and reminisced. Christina drove me home later that night where I puked up purple barbecue into Mom’s bath tub. Anne would be so proud. I also took Mom to her radiation appointment. Oh and went to prison too.

ViequesIn June my friend Jill and I decided to hit Vieques Puerto Rico. I met Jill 20 years ago when she and Anne lived together in Sausalito. Jill’s another American Airlines flight attendant and I realized I needed to be around people that knew Anne. We had such a great time just cruising the island and hanging out. It was my first month of 2013 without a hospital, prison or funeral involved. Jill is so positive and inspiring and I felt great being in her company. And now I have a new travel buddy!


In July I had my third foot surgery, THIRD! And my fourth time on crutches in NYC. I don’t know how I was so blessed with fucked up feet. But can I just tell you how awful foot surgery is? Imagine not being able to leave your apartment for a whole month, hobbling around. Oh did I happen to mention I had also fallen over a trash can in Wales, Great Britain 2 weeks prior and fractured my right wrist and elbow? So crutches were an extra chore this time around.

auntmarthaAugust was a month of being a post-foot surgery prisoner to my apartment. You think you’ll do all these things and be so productive with the time off. Instead I cried, felt incredibly lonely and sorry for myself. A huge thanks to everyone who stopped by with goodies to make me feel better, especially Anne’s Aunt Martha who made me both Star Wars pancakes and cupcakes! Woo hoo!

I also contracted a severe bacterial infection from the hospital so was in extraordinary pain. My only saving grace? Binge watching Sopranos. I took notes, LOTS of notes.

SeptemberSeptember is always a big month as I turn another year older, 45 this year WTF?? I get very introspective this month each year, especially now that Anne’s gone, and I see even more clearly the need to make every day, every effort, every relationship count. Oh and every pickle back YO!


By October I had finally been cleared by my doctor to fly so off I went to visit Anne’s husband Jim and her son Connor in NoCal. The thing about your BFF’s spouse is that he knows everything about you, NO I MEAN EVERYTHING. It was kind of refreshing because I now know I can call Jim up with all my cray cray stories because he already knows the history! Connor was proudly showing me his Legos and hamming it up for the camera. He is truly his mother’s son and I can’t wait to take him on his first adventure trip, and share stories about his mom. I’ll keep it clean SWEARIES!


 I had been planning my trip to Madagascar in November for about a year and a half. I always look forward to trips like this to developing countries. It is such a humbling experience and beautiful at the same time. The way people are able to live still so simply in life. 40% of Madagascar people don’t have running water or electricity. My travel companions are the best and I learn so much from them. Coming back to NYC, the land of over-indulgence, is such a shock. A visit to Starbucks and watching people have their half-cap foam meltdowns takes the cake.


December is welcoming change. Thanks to the help of my life coach and dear friend Keisha, I quit my job and boarded my cats. I’m taking a break from my rockstar lifestyle in NYC to find my roots once again in California. I want to get back to the simplicity of life – family, friends, nature, laughter. I want to be bored. I’m taking a walk on the beach today and then who knows? I just wish Anne was here with me to share this day.

I hope you all enjoyed this, and I hope you all take some time out of your busy lives, to stop and breath, and realize what a gift life is. Happy New Year everyone!

6 thoughts on “The Year In Woods – 2013

  1. Oh Woodsy! My heart broke for you a few times this year. I am glad you are taking time for yourself now, and you are able to smile now–still looking forward to your book 🙂


    ps turn out it was Nietzsche said “what doesnt kill you makes you stronger” which I think is so bizarre that he is the source of such a mainstream aphorism

  2. WOW. When you put it all out like that in a timeline it just blows my mind. I can’t believe Anne’s been gone for almost a year. I still think about her every day. I’m really looking forward to our next trip to SE Asia!

  3. Wow! That was a tough year and it must have been tough writing this too! Thank you for sharing. You are such a wrong woman, a real inspiration! Looking forward to see you over here after you have rested!

  4. Laurel, a poignant story for a poignant year. We could feel your sense of loss with every word. Still, we’ll always have Madagascar. Anyway, look forward to seeing you up our way this brand spanking new year. There’s wine, you know and good cheer. With love from Mike & Joan

  5. Seeing your FB post today from here in the Hollywood Hills made me look for your recent blog to see if you mentioned moving back to So Cal. I knew I wanted to read your blog as I always love reading your humor, wit and intellect. Reading this most recent blog, one cannot help to feel your pain. I hope your return to your “roots” helps you heal and find happiness again (you’re clearly on the path!!) – because a world w/out your laughter & beautiful smile would be a bleak place!! Happy New Year Lovely Laurel!!

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