Words & Banter

From A Hotel Room To Pink Letters?

The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston

Let me set the scene (keep in mind I was a theater major). The Houston area, where fur coats appear on the "ladies who lunch" when the weather dips below 50, has been hit by an unprecedented winter storm that not only brings snow and prolonged sub-freezing temperatures, but also creates statewide power outages for millions. My extremely pragmatic sister lives in a high-rise that lost power early in the storm and, thinking quickly, secures a hotel room in Houston's only five-star hotel, which just happens to be down the street from her place. Less than 24 hours later, I too lose power, but living in a house that has a fireplace, well-stocked pantry, and a gas cooktop, just hunker down. My car's parked on the driveway so I can easily access it to charge my gizmos, which also gives me the opportunity (or really, excuse) to warm up.

And it's there, while texting with Black (who, for the record, rarely texts but at that point in time it was the only form of communication that worked), that the following conversation ensues …



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Hotel lost power


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Sorry! What are you going to do?!


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Give it a few minutes – may be rolling blackout


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Back on … was only off for a few minutes … maybe room has energy conservation setting since I had not moved


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Ok, not as funny as pink utility bills but amusing nonetheless

So, you may be wondering, why did I find this amusing and what do pink letters have to do with anything? Well, I'll start with the pink letters …

Years ago, when we were teaching a personal finance and Life 101 class at KIPP Houston High School, Black wanted the high school seniors to understand how having money's different from being smart with money. She explained how she kept receiving mail from her electricity provider that had those clear "windows" where she could see a pink letter inside. However, she ignored them because she typically paid her utility bills months in advance, so assumed they were part of a breast cancer awareness campaign.

All was good … until everything in her high-rise went, no pun intended, black. She assumed it was a power outage. Until she went out into the hallway and all the lights were on. Long story short, there had been an increase in her utility rate, so what she had paid months ago wasn't enough. Bottom line: my sister didn't pay her bill, and after sending her many "pink letter" past due notices, turned off her electricity.

So, what does this have to do with her hotel room going dark? Except for the obvious connection, actually, nothing. But it reminded me, whether she thought the hotel might be experiencing a rolling blackout or that the bills were fundraising for breast cancer, Black jumps to a "meaningful" reason for why something happens. It's typical Black. Logical and pragmatic but also looking for a bit more "meaning" to things. Which is fine, but it often makes me laugh (to myself, anyway) knowing that in reality the truth's often (actually, almost always) simpler and something us "mere mortals" easily see.

Sometimes it's best not to overthink or overanalyze …
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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As much of a history buff as I am, I’m embarrassed to admit that for a long time, I didn’t know March was Women’s History Month. But now that I do, I’m amazed by all the inspirational stories of women’s remarkable achievements.


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Too bad Natasha and Sawyer do not still live at home; it would be fun to start a conversation by asking them what women they find inspiring.


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I already know who they would pick. The first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I’d have to agree with them. Your Ferrari racing has made an impact on so many people. But especially girls.


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Until you mentioned it several years ago, I never thought about that. In the 1970s, I was one of the few women in business school. I then made a career in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. I am used to being a “token” female.


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Trust me. I watch people whenever we’ve done speaking engagements. It’s predictable ... we put up the family tree, and Natasha and Sawyer get awws, but your two racecars get everyone’s attention.
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Were you like Red and shocked when the actor Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43 after battling colon cancer for years? Cancer isn’t only for older people, and recent studies show more people under 50 are getting cancer. (Doctors aren’t sure why but suspect it may be due to less physical activity, more highly processed foods, and new toxins.) That’s why cancer screenings are more important than ever!

February may be Cancer Prevention Month – but we need to do it all year! Every year. And is why we’re rerunning last year’s post …



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I know that cancer isn’t the “death sentence” it used to be when we were growing up, but it’s still a very scary word. Especially if it’s heard “close to home”.


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When we were young, the word was rarely said. And if it was, it was whispered or referred to as the “ c-word.”


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Kind of like when I had my two miscarriages. No one wanted even to acknowledge, let alone talk about, them. Which made it all the more difficult to get through it, although intellectually, I knew it was not uncommon.


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Unfortunately, neither is cancer. It is the second-leading cause of death in the world, surpassed only by heart disease. But, at least, it is no longer a taboo subject.


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Please don’t make this about numbers. It’s about people. Which you should know. I’m sure you remember when Daddy was diagnosed with parotid gland cancer , which luckily was treatable. And I’ve had skin cancer, although I was very fortunate, it was caught early and easily treated.
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Even though Red’sthe warm and fuzzy one and Black’s extremely pragmatic, we both think of hearts on Valentine’s Day. Just not in quite the same way …



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Happy Valentine’s Day. And before you say anything, yes, I know you don’t celebrate holidays, so just humor me.


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But, I do “celebrate” February being American Heart Month since heart disease is the leading cause of death – for both men and women.


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Gee, that’s one way to turn a “fun” holiday into a real downer. Today’s supposed to be about letting people you love and care about know that you’re thinking of them. Think Hallmark cards, squishy teddy bears, chocolate hearts.
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