mother-a-tude-a-thon: they’re everywhere

My mother’s been gone for a very long time. Since before I had kids, or was even a real grown up. She was, as Christina said to Mere long ago on old school Grey’s Anatomy, my person. Death doesn’t change that. She’s still a North Star for me, guiding me when I’m hopelessly lost. “Be positive,” she’d say. “Put two feet in one shoe and march,” she’d say. “Talk to everybody (she was as good as a NYT reporter in getting the deepest secrets from anybody), use garlic, eat good food, you can do anything it is you want to do, you’ll figure it out, go shopping, watch a movie, wear nail polish, go to the beach, LAUGH AS MUCH AS YOU FUCKING CAN,”

My garlic-loving, hilarious, and adorable mom. (Yeah, she smoked. A victim of the times. And it’s what ended her life at a healthy 73, too.)

I have never stopped needing her and she has never stopped being there for me. Because mothering is a slew of things, but one of them is being right there to emotionally connect in that moment when someone is in need of some major care.

So many people have taken over for my mom, over the years. And that’s really how it is, there are like, a million mamas out there who show up for you when you need some major mothering. Relatives, friends, teachers, neighbors. A few weeks ago it was the great guy in the meat department at Whole Foods. Sometimes it’s an understanding co-worker, or the person behind the counter at CVS. When you get right down to it, good mothering can come from anybody.

The cutie pies, Ally at 3 month, Jake at 3 years.

So, here’s to you, all of you who take the time to listen, care and help someone who needs some mom time. Here’s to the biological moms, the adoptive moms, the single moms. Your job is endless, timeless and selfless. It’s of the utmost importance in this crazy world we’re living in. You are a beacon, a model, a VIP to those who receive your momminess.

I am so damn grateful for my own mom who gave me the grit to go when I didn’t want to and the grace to laugh at the rest. I am also grateful to the women and men who have mothered me when I became motherless. You are noticed, appreciated and loved. Happy Mother’s Day to all. You know who you are. Pat yourself on the back and make something with garlic in it.

gratitude-a-thon day 2068: when you learn what you thought you already knew

I’ve been thinking about how odd it is that you can actually learn a thing over and over and over again and you think you know it, and you talk a good game about it, but then, something happens, or somebody says it with just the right lilt, or the exact wording that was meant for you, and CYMBAL CRASH, you REALLY understand it, in the middle of your heart, in the center of your soul, in the smartest recesses of your brain.

The longer you live, the more you understand the world is like one of those precious Christmas decorations, made from such equisitely delicate glass that it has to be housed in six pounds of bubble wrap to make sure it doesn’t break while waiting in the closet for its month of December freedom. And when it does make it to the tree, it’s guarded by a fleet of Queen Elizabeth’s British soldier people to ensure its safety. There are sooooooo many things that can go hideously wrong. I don’t even need to go through the ugly list, because you know. You know all the awful things that can happen in this world.

This past weekend, it hit me hard, in that way that it can, when it hits you just right, that I suddenly knew that whatever good things, or even semi-good things that happen should be celebrated with a parade. Like a full parade with not even just one, but multiple marching bands, and a lot of baton twirlers (does anybody twirl anymore, do you think?) and gaudy floats, maybe even some Budweiser horses, and of course balloons, a big bunch of balloons. It struck me between having to say goodbye to my beloved 14 year old dog who was human to us, and watching my husband test positive for Covid over the weekend, after we worked as hard as an emergency room doc. to dodge it over the past two years, that there are an unlimited amount of nightmarish things just lining up to pull us down to the ground. And so, with all those bullets flying, it really firmed up my committment to embracing the good, the okay-ish and maybe even the not so miserable.

I knew this before. I learned this long ago. A hundered times at least. But until this weekend, as I mourned my dog, and worried about my husband’s voluminous snot, I learned it for real.

And so, I’m here to say, we throw a party for everything that doesn’t suck from now on. Or, at least we focus on everything that’s good with a magnifying glass the size of the Empire State Building, doubling up on gratitude. Get out the fireworks, light some sparklers, and bang some pots. It took me this long to learn what I thought I already knew. It will probably take me a little time to implement, but just know, every one of you is invited to the party.

gratitude-a-thon day 2067: running on empty

I’m a little depleted. When I think about why I realize it’s post-Trump, post-Covid, post-my husband having two orthopedic surgeries within two months, post-the loss of my dog, with the current Ukraine war thrown in as a kind of cherry on the top.

How do you fill yourself up when you find yourself limping to the gas station, about to stop in the middle of the street because your tank is a big, fat empty?

I find a few things helpful.

I like to walk. Whether it’s through town, up and down hills, in a park, around a reservoir, arboretum, river or pond, I like to put one foot in front of the other, breathe in the air, stick my face up to the sun and move. I like to do this pretty much any day of the week. I also love yoga and pilates, but being outside and moving through the world, with a friend, or just my music is like a rocket ship to Planet Better.

Being with friends is another fuel. Whether I’m texting them, on the phone with them (does anybody talk on the phone anymore–yes, me) or seeing them in person, surrounding myself with people who love me is like getting a blood transfusion to the mood.

I love a flower. Or two, or two dozen. I like giving them, getting them and planting them. I like arranging them, and just plain looking at them like a kid staring at a candy display wondering which to choose when his mom has told him, “Just one.” Whether I’m feeling good or not so good, flowers are my constant companions. I’m never without them–summer, spring, winter or fall– and I have to say, it feels like they always bring some sort of good juju into my house.

I like to work. I look at my work like a puzzle and I’m the one who’s going to find all the right pieces. I like the challenge, I like the focus, I like the pulling an idea out of my head that never existed before.

I am obsessed by stories. Tell me a story in the form of a movie, a tv show, a book, an article, a tweet, a TikTok, a YouTube, or a letter and I’m good. Entertain and engage me and I both relax, recharge and feel a particular kind of happy.

I think there isn’t much better in the world of humans than laughing, so if I can get there, in the laughing space, I get an energy surge that could fly me to the moon.

(I would say being with my dog, but now that he’s gone, the thought of him just makes me cry (A LOT) , so leaving that off the list……)

What do you do to get your mojo rolling when it’s out of town? Grateful for the ideas. Hope you have the best weekend.

gratitude-a-thon day 2066: grief

Grief is a magician. You will think you have your feelings of loss under control and then up they will pop up, like the groundhog on his day of seasonal reckoning. Be prebared to be caught unaware. The waterworks will begin no matter where you are. You can be talking to the funny guy in the meat department at Whole Foods, or driving your car, or in the middle of a work meeting and suddenly you will be in a puddle of your own making. With absolutely no notice you can be diminshed by tears, engulged in the deepest emotion, brought to your very knees to the ground. And there’s no telling how long this can go on. Nope, don’t go do any betting on grief’s timeline because you’re going to walk away a loser.

Riley as a puppy with his lifelong companion, Tige (14 years without a wash).

And do not think that the loss of a dog cannot put you into this elusive state of pain. Because I am here to tell you that they very well can. In fact, because they become implicit in your everyday life, like say, an arm or a leg, they can throw you down faster than Ali could master his opponent in the ring. Down. For. The. Count.

I miss my dog. We said goodbye to him last week and I miss him as if he was part of my living, breathing body and now that part is MIA. I am dazed and confused by the world without his constant presence. I cry so much I look like a monster from a Hulu original series.

The sense of loss seems senseless to those who aren’t “dog people.” “You must feel better today, right?” they say. They don’t understand. They have no comprehension of the love, the fun, the simpatico an owner and a dog can feel for one another. They can’t contemplate the closeness or the bond. Life without a dog cuts out a giant portion of some of the happiest feelings a human is capable of. Talk about grief, I feel it for those poor people who miss out on the good love, the pure love, the devoted and loyal love of a dog.

Every noise I hear, I think it’s him. Every day as I go through my mental checklist, there he is, until I remember that he is no longer here, but now resides in the land of endless green grass, and long stretches of beach, where steak grows on trees and days and nights are filled with shenanigans.

But for me, there are crying jags and the constant nagging pain of thinking I’m missing something. I am, I am missing my 14 year old relationship with my guy Riley, with the Andy Rooney eyebrows, the penchant for sleeping on laundry, clean or dirty, the single-minded adoration of eating and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade welcome he would greet us with whether we were out for a minute or a week. I miss that love. Damn, I miss that love. And I am oh so fucking grateful for it. That dog gave me everything and I think I returned the favor. He made me better. There is no question in my mind that he made me a better person. And although I was convinced he would one day, he did it without talking! I will carry Riley with me for the rest of life, which would be a little easier if I could just stop crying.

gratitude-a-thon day 2064: the best, the worst and will smith

And here we are, the morning after the slap heard round the movie-loving world. Listen, I get the whole sticking up for your woman thing, but to march up on stage and smack the comedien host for a joke? That’s just some really bad theatrics, an optics nightmare for a publicist and plain and simple unacceptable violence. In fact it’s actually called assault in the legal world. Better reactions are obvious–for instance not laughing post-joke, and instead nodding your head back and forth as Jada did, and mouthing “no” would have adequately gotten the point across. Or, walking out of the arena while Rock was onstage would have also been a high road way of showing disapproval. I gotta say, I thought I’d see good fashion and bad fashion and what the hell were you thinking fashion, but not a moment that was upsetting, embarrassing and took focus away from other’s who were being honored for their career bests. I loved Will Smith’s performance as Richard Williams, but Will Smith himself, not so much after that dramatic turn.

BUT, let’s get to the clothes! It was mega fun to see people back on the carpet without that pesky accessory, the mask. So many really brought the looks this year. All that isolation made for some good sartorial choices. Of course, not everybody planned wisely. And if they did, what fun would that be?

The no good, very bad red carpet looks you’d avoid wearing unless you were being held hostage by Putin.

BILLIE IE didn’t-know-what-to-wear-so-I-wore-something-all-of-my-fans-could-fit-into-with-me LISH.

Remember when Carol Burnett tore down the drapes and wore them in her take-off of Gone with the Wind? That’s where my head went. We know Billie likes a voluminous silouhette, but this was all-out circus tent chic. Look at her expression. Even she knew this was a roomy disaster.

EVA VAN BAHR gets religion.

In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit, what in God’s name do we have here? I love the bag. I mean, carrying around a full-on head seems kinda fun. But this is all-out atrocious. Even the cherubs couldn’t save this look. Amen.

Knock knock, who’s there, oh, it’s MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL.

I don’t love an architectural dress to start with, but lined with decorative door knockers AND an actual HOOK and I’m just out. Yes, she can direct, yes, she can act, but no, she should not be able to dress by herself ever again.

NAOMI great SCOTT, I forgot to press my dress.

Perhaps you can’t see it in this pic, but the hem of the cape, as well as the bottom hem of this dress looked like it’d never seen an iron in its ugly little life. Unflattering, giving her a tummy where I’m sure there probaby isn’t one, and calling up chest shields from ancient times, this was a head to toe no. She played Jasmine in Alladin, but this was no Disney princess look. Next time say Press to the Dress.

JESSICA CHASTAIN may have The Eyes of Tammy Faye, but not for colors that match.

I love the top of this gown. Talk about color matching your hair to your dress–winner, winner, chicken dinner. But rust and lilac? That’s like ketchup on cereal, mud on ice cream, Will hitting Chris–just wrong.

TRACEE ELLIS ROSS who’s boobs were the boss.

Oh boy, one wrong move and those girls are leaving home. Good thing she donned her cape when she presented, or we could have had a full-on Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl moment. This Mickey Mouse top is ill-fitting and well, in my humble currently-wearing-my-flannel-dog-pajamas-right-now-opinion, just ugly. But the necklace, yeah, I’d like to have that little gem around my neck.

MAYA I’m going to be comfortable or I’m not going RUDOLPH.

You get to a certain point where you look at a waistband like it’s an evil spirit who will eat your family. But orange you just a little sorry you donned this peignoir-inspired triangle, Maya?

DIANE just because you can write, doesn’t mean you can get dressed up WARREN.

She has about a bajillion hit songs, but this suit was just unsuitable. I mean, I know, pants are her thing, but the wearing o’ the green with black? No. A necklace that belongs on another look? No. A gold heart pin that has no simpatico with the silver at her neck? No. That’s a no, a no, and yes, a no.

And those who hit it outta the Dolby Theater, clear into my fashion BEST EVER diary. There were lots of Do’s here, so had to cut it down to the the Do-iests.

ZENDAYA As MC Hammer said back in the day, “U Can’t Touch This.”

This head-to-toe bit of heaven knocked me out, but not before I kept repeating the word “perfect” on a loop. My co-watchers were like, “shut up, already.” But I couldn’t contain my overwhelming adoration and began to sound like a broken record. My sister called to say, “This is it, right?” (Boy, does she know me.) This combo of classic and modern is just so 100%. It’s casual glamour, it’s modern cool, it’s the fucking best look I’ve seen in years and years. I would marry this outfit, but I’m already married.

LUPITA NYONG’O is a go (and a glow).

God, I love bling. Bring the bling, I say. But never has it hit the carpet like this dress. This was like “DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET, THIS IS THE NEW BRIGHT.” I really loved this look. And while some people might say it’s too much, I found it to be just enough. The hair kept the whole thing modern and that smile, well, it’s always as bright as the dress.

KIRSTEN DUNST red it right.

This was like The Great British Bake Off had a frosting contest and the winner got to cover Kirsten in it. If only she’d worn matching lipstick, this would have been a 10, but even without, the sublime fit and simple hair were pretty close to perfect.

SOFIA CARSON just tulling around.

I am all about tulle. If I could get away wearing it on a daily basis, I would.(Can you see me in my LuLu’s with some tulle on the ass?) This dress is every single thing. The shape, the volume, the color. This dress still has me drooling. Her hair scores an A and her makeup is on point. This is princess meets perfect.

VANESSA HUDGENS has grown up and out of high school.

Sleek and sparkly, this is one gorg number. Vanessa has brought a lot of great looks to the carpet this season, and this one kills. Hair is modern, but glamourous for a really stunning look.

Ok, people, aside from Worst Scene in an Academy Award Show given to Will Smith, what were your faves? Please share. We need the fun.

gratitude-a-thon day 2063: spring forward

There are buds on the trees. The crocus in my tiny front garden are blooming. The air is not yet humid, but fresh and screaming “no more big, stupid coats.” I am going to go out on a leafy limb here and tell you I put away my shovels (which could very well mean there will be one at least one more snow, so sorry for that).

It’s spring. It’s finfally hope-inducing, get-out-your-gardening-gloves, love-is-in-the-air spring. That time of year when days grow longer and even lagging spirits rise like a helium balloon. Aside from the spectacular allergies, I cherish spring. Nature being all self-centered is pretty hard to resist.

This spring feels especially important, as the world feels crazy and unpredictable in so many ways. (I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot over the last few years–is this the new normal?) So, get on out there on a bike or a hike, or buy some pansies, and pull out the lawn furniture. Clean the grill, go sit at an outdoor cafe, haul out the summer clothes, and open the fucking windows. It’s spring, a fashion show of earthly delights. And something to be sneeze, sniff, cough, where-is-my-allergy-spray damn grateful for.

gratitude-a-thon day 2062: use a magnifying glass if you have to

I lost a glove last week. And it made me cry. Uh huh, in the Whole Foods parking lot.

It wasn’t even a glove I liked. The fit was a little wonky and I’m not a big Michael Kors fan and they had his silly logo. But the loss took me.

Maybe it’s because I lost a first cousin a few weeks ago, and I’m losing my 14 year old dog a little more every day and the loss I am seeing in Ukraine makes my heart feel like it’s been set on fire, Maybe it’s because of all the loss that Covid has wreaked on us since March 2020. Maybe it’s because winter in Boston is doing it’s usual thing–boasting hopeful temperatures, one day and the very next day turning on the snow. And well, I’m not even going to bring up what the M. Night Shamalan-type horror the climate report that recently came out has had on my system.

I think a lot about gratitude when things feel overwhelmingly gray. Even though when you’re not feeling great, it feels like the last thing you want to do–see where the light shines in. But it’s exactly what can help.

It’s pretty easy to look at images of people, who are just like you and me and your neighbor, and watch them lose their families, their homes, and their hope during a senseless war and think about how grateful you are to have all you have in your life. That’s kind of a no-brainer gratitude, but good nonetheless, it’s still noticing what you have and that reaps you benefits. But how about pushing a bit further. How about we look at all the people who are helping Ukranians. How about Jose Andres and The World Kitchen feeding those with nothing. How about the Polish women who left a bunch of strollers near the border crossing for new mom’s with babies in their arms. How about President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has no real experience in politics and has become an absolute hero to his country and the world.

Stollers left at the Polish border. A mother’s love on display. A picture of hope.

I feel a gratitude deep, deep down in for all the big and small stories of people helping to make an unspeakably awful situation better. It is the acknowledgement of this kindness and humanity that keeps me going in the face of such raw and inhuman actions. Focusing on the good in people vs the bad in people is a way to get ourselves through the horror, and a way for us to do whatever it is we can do to help others, in Ukraine, here in the US, or just on the block where you live.

See, that’s the way gratitude can make us better. We notice, we stand at attention honoring those who are the helpers, the doers, the game changers. And we bow in grace.

We need a little fun fashion round-up: SAG

Ok, so here’s the thing, I feel downright sheepish writing about fashion when Ukraine is under attack by a man who’s pants are never long enough and last week wore the same exact suit and tie two days in a row. So, let’s just get that out of the way, that I am not a grossly shallow person who takes joy in aiming arrows at the poorly dressed when others are suffering, BUT after a long slog with Covid coming to an end and a legit and I must say, very enjoyable award show on the telly last night, with actors free of masks (and in some cases, mirrors), it seemed we all might need a little fun. So, with my Ukranian grandmother’s can-do, let’s fight, I will protect my turf, and “Go fuck yourself” blood coursing through me, I will carry on my tradition of fashion slashin’ and you can judge me however you’d like, but please just make fun of my character and not my clothes.

You’re the worst.

Shari BelaFRUMPe

When the invitiation came, Shari only read the part about it being in an airplane hangar and thus dressed to fly to the land of What Not to Wear when you’re going, well, anywhere.

Piper PerabNO

Ode to the strapless dress. If it fits well, you’ve hit the fashion bullseye. But it appears that after Piper slipped into this body hugging white number, a very short tulle-obsessed bride-to-be who was trying on wedding dresses heard it was SAG and ran to the show to see if she could get in, but instead slammed into the right side of Piper’s body moving her from the best dressed list to the worst in the time you can say “I do.”

Jared LetUHOH

It’s 1975 prom season back on the ranch and Jared is all hyped up to ask his girl. So tired of his usual cow wrangling every day wear, Jared decides to go rancher glam in satin. Not just satin, baby blue satin. And not just boots, white boots. And not just a tie, a fucking maoron velvet ribbon long enough to ensure that his girl will not be going back to the hay pile with him at the end of the dance.

Jackie Hoffman stops at SAG on way to Target

Here’s how it went down. Jackie, adorable and hilarious actress that she is, had errands to do before her week began. She made her list and realized Target was the place she could get most of her needs met (cheap shoes, a wide range of non-prescription glasses). Of course, on the way, she was informed that the SAG awards were not next Sunday night, but this Sunday night and well, she just said, the hell with it, at least my shoes are comfortable.

Jada Pinkett should have (Red) Tabled this dress.

When you’re as gorgeous as Jada, you don’t even need hair to look glam, but that’s where the beauty ends. Did she put a tee from the Gap under this dress, because she was like, “Will, it’s cold, I’m throwing a layer on under this thing,” and he was too busy practicing his acceptance speech to stop her?

Amanda Brugel runs with scissors.

It’s a bed sheet, it’s a duvet, it’s a tablecloth. I don’t even know this woman, I just know, she cut arm holes into some white thing in her house and headed for the hangar.

It’s a big little lie that Reese Witherspoon could pull off this dress (She should have pulled off this dress).

I love a column dress, but This looked like she got some blue toilet paper stuck in her booty and nobody told her. Did she have lunch with Leto beforehand to discuss how absolutely fabulous the color baby blue is? Not to mention that she borrowed batman’s headpiece for top of this mess, I mean dress. Holy Horrific, someone call Robin.

Jeremy not Strong in the department of fashion.

God, I love this actor. He’s mesmerizing and seemintly effortless in his role as Kendall in Successon. They always say when you talent in one part of your life, you don’t get it in another and I guess we now know from his pink velvet suit with, (momentary complete loss of oxygen over here), BLACK SHOES exactly what the “other” is.

And now we move on to the style stars.

Vanessa Hudgens Tick, Tick, BOOM.

This is my idea of total and complete perfection. This dress fits like the damn winter gloves I keep havng to sport in this miserable New England weather. The color is subtle yet it’s rich and radiant. The cut shows off every curve, but in a becoming, not a here’s-my-vagina way. Her simple hair and absolutely glowing skin finishes off what I thought was the best thing on that carpet last night.

Emilia Jones, now hear this.

The bling, the black, the overlay, the super simple hair and minimal makeup scored 1,209,308 for me.

Kerry Washington. This is anything but a scandal.

Yield to Kerry, who rarely does wrong and yup, she hit it right again. The yellow was a standout amidst many darker colors and the cut was body hugging, while voluminous at the same time. She gets a hair award, too. This is how you do it.

Cate the Great, Blanchett

I didn’t like the little square poof that the waist of this dress had, but Cate is such an itty bitty person that it didnt highlight that weird part of the cut and the top fit so well and the whole deal was so simple and perfect, I had to call it The natural hair was also a homerun.

Cynthia Erivo, sing it, sister.

Bold red patent leather and feathers. Uh huh. When asked about her dress, the stunner said she was updating a look from Aretha, who she played in a movie. Update she did. This woman always brings it to the carpet, and she killed again last night.

Ann Dowd. Aunt Lydia would never.

Ann is my bestie’s sister and she is nothing if not spectacularly sweet and loving and warm and wonderful. Which goes to show what a truly gifted actress she is. I loved this look on her. The blue brings out her eyes. The bangs are a hit. The fit is great. She is climbing the style ranks as we speak. And hey, Annie, can I borrow that necklace?

gratitude-a-thon day 2060: the shit i’ve learned so far

Today’s my birthday. And as Oprah would say, these are the “Thing I know for sure”:

We are strong. We are stronger than any Netflix character, any super hero, any pair of Spanx. We can get through shit even a Navy Seal couldn’t get through.

We need people. You may be shy, introverted, reclusive, or quiet, but it doesn’t matter, you still need people who are your own. People who love you, who show up like Uber Eats when you need them, and who believe in your power to meet any challenge, beat any opponent, shit talk any fear in order to be the Betty White of your own life.

We need to move. No matter what age, no matter what physical challenges we have, we just have to move our bodies every single day. Whether it’s running, walking, biking, hiking, or dancing like Elaine in Seinfeld. Whether you like the fictional heart attack-inducing Peloton (And Just Like That AND Billions–a PR nightmare) or the ab-inspired PIlates, downward dogging Yoga, Rock Climbing, or the fucking Olympic event Curling, exercise is the key to mental and physical bad assery. FACT.

We need to keep growing. We need to stay engaged. Whether your’re nine or 99, we need to give ourselves permission to grow up until the moment our hearts stop beating. Learning new things, staying curious and open is one of the keys in not just being alive, but actually living. The game stops when you stop.

We need to laugh. Laughing is underrated. Have you ever not felt better when you’ve squished up your face and almost peed your pants because of someting funny? Has giving or receiving a chuckle ever failed to improve your mood or you day, or the way your body feels? The answer is no. I know the answer is no, so don’t even bother telling me because I can’t hear you anyway. Lighten up. Watch comedy. Don’t take everything so seriously. Tell a joke, or be a joke. Laughing is like one of those life saving round floaties they send you when you’re out at sea and drowning. It makes things better, your head, your bod, your friends, your family. I swear that even my dog likes it when I laugh.

We need to be compassionate and kind because we are compassionate and kind. Think of other people and where they stand. Help out when you can–physically and mentally. Whether it’s a call, a text, or a smoke signal, shoveling someone’s walk, holding a door open, or giving away that really good parking space you waited five minutes for, you can change someone’s day, mind, life. Smile at people for absolutely no reason. Make a donation. Volunteer somewhere that means something to you. Show your fellow humans some compassion and kindness and you can see how the small things you do with love can make a big difference and be a big difference, especially in this completely bizarre and crazy moment in time.

Get a dog. Rescue one, give birth to one, whatever you gotta do, but get one to share your life with. BEST THING EVER.

Be grateful. You knew it was coming. Look around constantly for the good in your world. Some days you might need a microscope. Use it. Gratitude will never ever let you down. It’s as reliable as the tax bill, and as life affirming as potato chips (and you know how I feel about those).