The Red Carpet is Back, People!

Aaaaaaand, we’re back. Well, you know sort of. While we’ve still got that infernal virus floating around, we did have a live Emmy’s show last night! Yippee! And you know what that means–a red carpet rip up, I mean wrap up, a fashion lashin’, a do-you-not-have-mirrors moment. Let’s get going, because we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

The Worst

Emm–UH Corrin Was Not Channeling Princess Diana.

Introducing Target’s new Designer Collaboration from Where the Wild Things Are and The Handmaid’s Tale. Yeah, this one is going to sell out. Sweet Baby Anna Wintour. She has a water polo player inspired bonnet on in the absolute dreariest color ever. Don’t get me started on the gloves and nails. Oh Max, Let the Wild Rumpus Begin because this is ge-up is going be on top of worst dressed lists everywhere. I could devote another hour to this, but we’ve got to other people to trash, I mean review, but not a one could be more absurdly ugly than this.

Jason SudeiKISS This Look Goodbye As Soon As You Get Home.

First of all, Tom Ford? Really? Sophisticated Tom Ford designed this? I was all sorts of shocked. To quote Ted, ,”It’s kind of like back in the ’80s when ‘bad’ meant ‘good.’ No, Ted, it’s not, it’s just bad.

Parks & Wreck: Amy Poehler

Business on the top, party on the bottom. I love a blazer as a shirt, but this 1) Doesn’t fit properly. 2) Should not be belted. 3) Is entirely the wrong shape to begin with. 4) Might have been pulled from her boyfriend’s closet at the last minute.

Dr. Dan Levy, Paging Dr. Dan Levy

This feels like a cross between a colorful Amish outfit and some medical scrubs. Too many layers. Do the pants and shirt match the blazer color? I do not love this journey for him.

Got Milk?

I love a cute, girlish vibe, but this was just too milk maid for me. Aidy is not a size 2, but there were plenty of other girls who were killing it who weren’t either.

Wanda Did Not Have Vision.

Yeah, yeah, I know how expensive The Row is, I was at Saks just this past weekend perusing the shapeless line. But this is a young and very beautiful girl who is styled to look like she’s 150. Maybe for another body, but not this one. Her sisters did her wrong.

Yawn…..Oh look……yawn….. it’s Kate……Yawn……Winslet

It’s great to know what looks good on your body and this is a perfectly fine look. But it’s soooooo boring. Borrow that necklace from The Titanic at least. Because, I mean…….sorry, I just looked at it and fell asleep.

The Best

The Queen Has Arrived.

Style? Checkmate.

A Perfect Fashion Jurnee

I can’t help it, I know it’s not the most modern 2021 look, but I am in love(craft) with it. The raw edges do give it an updated vibe. and I’d marry that big hunk of diamonds around her neck.

Now that’s (Wanda) Vision.

This is such a cool girl look. Maybe the belt’s a tad too big, and don’t love the necklace, but hair and shoes are on point, and she just looks like she’s comfortable and having fun.

The Color Purple.

Nicole Byer swooped in like a boss. It’s a lot, yes, but a lot is good when it’s this perfect.

Hannah Waddingham Scores

Her smile could blind a small Italian village. And her body, does it get better–she’s tall and toned and would exude confidence and gorgeosity in a towel from Walmart.

Ya(ra) Made Me Green With Envy.

This girl is shaping up to be a fashion star. So old Hollywood, but in an unexpected color. The necklace modernizes the whole deal and keeps it young.

Angela Bassett Never Gets Old

Angela is apparently never going to age. Like ever. Wow, I loved this. She looked powerful, but pretty.

No Little Fires, But Smoking Hot.

I’m a sucker for silk satin. That is all.

gratitude-a-thon day 2050: the absence of the annoying counts too

Sometimes it’s the absence of something that makes me grateful! Like yesterday I had a brutal migraine and today I woke up without it and shazam, gratitudeosity. Or like, even though world politics are dicey right now, not having to see or hear that orange thing spout lies all the time is such a fucking relief I can feel it in every one of my bones. It’s raining today and I had to walk the dog at 6 AM in the dark while water poured down on me in my pajamas and raincoat, before I even had a sip of coffee (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME), and then when I came inside and had my big mug of caffeine under a dry blanket, the gratitude filled my cup.

Look at that butterfly all getting all up in its namesake bush. how can you not be in awe of this magic?

Noticing that one little drop of water in the center of my friend’s beautiful plant. Ba da bing, naturitude.

When you have an annoying hangnail, or project, or problem and they go away, that sense of relief is reason enough to have a big old gratitude parade. The object of your gratitude doesn’t have to be palatial. Little things, or the absence of them is enough to get you into the place where you’re noticing the good in your life. And noticing is where you want to be.

A necklace my daughter gave me because, well, because she knows me so well.
Avocado toast. No contest.

dear whoever just brought their kids to college

Dear whoever just brought their kids to college,

I know. No, really, I do. I did it. Twice. It was hard. And sad, and funny, and surreal, and totally bizarre, and shocking and amazing and honestly, it almost felt like I must be dead-asleep having one of those realistic dreams where you think you’re awake because you play out the scenario since the day your little baby pops out of you and then there you are on some scenic campus about to leave your child there, alone, wondering who the talented magician was who stole the years between birth and that day without you even noticing. Yeah, I feel you.

Photo Credz to the spectacular Rania Matar.

I understand. Seriously. I grieved for the entirety of my son’s senior year of high school in preparation for the big goodbye. I cried through every “last’ there was. And when he finally boarded the plane for the up-all-night city of Barcelona for his first semester (a Spring admit to USC, LA), I had myself a very major-grieving-Italian-widow-who-wears orthopedic-shoes cry. Four months later, of course, we had to take him to LA, which was also sort of dramatic, but at least he was in the states. I cried again, but not as much (lying here, just as much, if not more).

When my daughter left, three years after her brother’s departure, it was different because the nest was now officially empty, for real and that’s a whole other thing. But, she was only two hours from home and we also went to every one of her soccer games (EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.). Galavanting around New England from September through the start of October and sometimes longer, we saw a lot of her. And anytime she or we felt the need to see one another, we could do it by leaving in the AM and being home by the PM. Which wasn’t an option to see our son. Drive to LA for dinner? Right.

But enough about me, let’s talk about you. Are you feeling worried? Do you keep thinking your kid is going to burst through the door? Are you making too much for dinner and looking over longingly at their empty chair? Are you having some anxiety in the middle of the night at around, say, 2 AM? Have you gotten rid of all their favorite junky snacks yet? Are you the parent who is crying their head off, OR the one having sex on the kitchen island? (There are those parents, but I don’t know any of them).

Well, here’s my advice, from someone who’s been there:

I say grieve for as long as you have to. It’s a transition. A big one. And it’s ok to feel sad, lonely, confused, and/or downright fucking miserable. It’s also ok to be rejoicing. It’s honestly perfectly fine to feel any way you feel. (It’s actually always ok to feel any way feel ANY OLD TIME). So, give yourself the emotional space to feel whatever it is you’re feeling and honor that.

Learn from Kim. She cries all the time.

Throw yourself a parade. You made it through not only bringing your child to campus with at least most of his stuff (“Mom, I forgot my blue sweater with the thing on it….”), you got your child to this point. And in the last year, I’m guessing it wasn’t without drama. I do hear about those unicorn families where it’s just easy as making a coffee, but not that much. It’s a year long sprint of making “the list,” making the visits, writing that goddamn essay, meeting all those deadlines, deciding on ED (and I’m not talking erectile dysfunction, although I imagine the stress could cause that…..), trying to block out the incessant talk of where this one applied, and where that one got in and where this one was already rejected and who is legacy and who got a scholarship and who is playing what sport where. And of course, there is the financial aid and FAFSA and loans and monetary decisions and allowance discussions. And then there is the waiting. THE WAITING. Which is endless and the stress of it is like a dense fog over the Golden Gate Bridge. So, you know, give yourself some credit here. You were right there for all of it as the support team, so you know, cheerleading squad yay for you.

Uh huh, a parade is what you deserve.

With cell hones, WhatsApp, texting, Zoom, and social media, the zillion of other kinds of techno messaging we now have, staying in touch is easy peasy. I cannot imagine how my poor parents let us leave with only a landline and snail mail for comfort. I had a deal with my son when he was in Barcelona, party city of the world, that he didn’t have to have a convo with me, but that everyday he had to send me a text that said “Alive.” Yeah, I wasn’t too nervous. But the point was that I wanted to give him space, but I also wanted to know he was safe. He was in touch a lot, as it turned out. Letting them know you don’t want to rain on their new adventure, but that you’re there is important. For both of you.

We had this phone. It was the only way to communicate with your kids back in the day.

Have some fun. Do things you couldn’t do when your kid was home. For my husband and I, one of the big ones was dinner. We always had dinner together as a family. That required shopping for it and making it and cleaning up after it. Since I am a freelancer, sometimes I could do that easily and sometimes I couldn’t. It was always a stress and it usually fell on me. So, once the kids left, my appreciative and easy-to-please husband was game for for easy dinners on the nights I couldn’t make it happen. We could have cheese and crackers for dinner, popcorn (I know, if I’d had my druthers, I’d have had popcorn dinners with my kids–I LOVE POPCORN), and we were thrilled, and my dinner distress went down to zero. So, enjoy some of the things not having kids home allows you really helps take the sting out of their departure.

For dinner. Uh huh. It’s corn–technically a vegetable.

Talk to other parents who are living the same experience. Share your grief, elation, concern, pride with your friends and those surfing the same ocean. It helps.

There’s nothing that doesn’t feel better when you share it with others who are also doing it.

Sometimes just cry.

KIm, again.

You’ve got this. It’s another stage of life and just like all of them, it takes time to adjust. But you will. And also, heads up, when they come home, expect a little adjustment period for them and for you. It’s hard to leave home and then come back and have a foot in two places, so expect some cranky before it evens out and you have a nice visit.

Ok, that’s all I got. Congratulations and be grateful that you all made it so far. It’s no small feat. Now go, have some popcorn

Love,

We here at the gratitudeathon (meaning ME here at the gratiutudeathon)

gratitude-a-thon day 2049: the ocean

Even the tiniest waft of Coppertone or the rich and aromatic odor of Ban de Soleil Federal Expresses me to all the beaches I’ve ever been. My nose, exquisitely sensitive, books me on free excursions to some of the sea sides I’ve been the happiest. Unexpectedly, there I am, swimming in a sea of white sand and roaring surf with people I have loved, with people who are no longer here. I can feel the warm sun, the salt on my skin, the taste of beach food.

My sister lives in Hull, on the border of Hingham, near the stunning World’s End and Nantasket Beach. I went down last week, during the umpteenth heat wave, with temps soaring well above 90, to cool down, not so much my body, as my mind.

The ocean has always done that for me. Liquid valium with a soundtrack. The metronome of waves lulls me into the sweetest calm. Is it the steadiness of the surf? is it the white noise? The rock tumbling sound when a wave churns up the sand? Beats me, but what I do know is that those waves and salty water are the panacea for anything that ails me.

Give me the beach. Anytime, anywhere. And as my blood pressure plummets, and my muscles unwind, I throw gratitude, like a rock, into the vastness of the sea that always connects me to myself.

gratitude-a-thon day 2046: Cadeau for me, Cadeau for you

Anybody who knows me knows how obsessed I am with flowers, and that I am unnaturally crazy about this exact type of flower, so guess who HAD TO BUY THESE. (Yeah, like that was a conundrum).

Hey, Brookline Village, and anybody in the vincinity, cool new store alert! If you’re in need of a mood boost, or a gift (for someone, or you know, YOU), or have a special (or not so special) occasion on the horizon and your loved ones are wondering where to get you a present that will elicit a “thanks” that you will actually genuinely mean, or your eyes just need a little candy, Cadeau is the place. Because this little slice of heaven has super fab jewelry, and a big line of iconic John Derian, and some perfectly curated clothing, and some pottery i fell madly in love with (see above, and did I mention my flower fixation?), and some really great art, and lots of other unusual and must-have-right-this-very-minute things. Sara, the owner who has extraordinary taste and is one of those people you can’t not like, used to manage Portobello Road and while her store has its own vibe, you can also feel the next-gen quality to it, so if you were a fan of PR, you’re going to be singing a happy tune. Also, worth noting, all the sales assistants are people who were apparently raised to be friendlier and nicer than most people in the world (including the PR fave, Janet–so good to see her). They just want to help you in whatever way you’d like, which is refreshing and fun. And sweet baby Jesus, shouldn’t shopping be fun?

The charming Sara Petras, owner of the brand new Cadeau Boutique & Gallery on opening day. She had a little party on Washington Street last week with music and refreshments to celebrate her new digs. It was kind of a blast!

It’s been a long while since Brookline Village has had a great retail store (Shake the Tree, maybe, like 147 years ago?), and I for one am just a little bit excited. Swing by and introduce yourself. And if you’re reading this from far away, check out the Cadeau website, where you can experience the magic of this charming store itself. In the midst of post-ish pandemic angst, this is just the fresh face we could all use. And by the way, Cadeau, for those un-francophile among us, means gift. And I gotta say, appropriate name, because this place is. Shopping gratitude. Yes, it’s a thing.

gratitude-a-thon day 2045: people who change you

There are some people you meet in your life that change it. In a myriad of ways. Forever.

I got Colleen Quinn’s name from a fellow spine suffering friend about 20 years ago. She had a sunny personal training studio in Brookline Village called Eutopia. I was hesitant, because my back was a problem that I’d acquired at 19, during college, which had caused me to stop running, which I loved, and doing anything high impact (sound awful? It was). I lived my life in physical therapy, having to leave jobs during particularly bad episodes, and got used to living with limitations and pain that would go anywhere from 5 to 1,987,298 in the time span of one minute.

While I had stayed active with a biking phase (my back didn’t like that after a few years), a swimming phase (my hair didn’t like that after a few years), and low impact aerobic phase (I didn’t like these after a few years), I turned to walking. I llved life in my body carefully. I lifted wisely, especially my babies, asked the grocery baggers to go “light,” never was that friend who could help move your stuff from apartment to apartment, didn’t twist for nearly two decades, and stayed obedient to the list of things which could irritate my disc (everything) so fearful was I of having an “episode’ of debilitating back pain.

But there was something about my friend’s insistence I go see Colleen that after her nagging me for a year, had me walk into her yellow studio on Washington Street. And GAME CHANGER, this former physical therapist, turned personal trainer got me and my back in a spectacularly astute way. I began training with her three times a week and with each passing session, I began to trust my body in a new way. Colleen’s exceptional ability to find the way to get me to move my parts in ways they hadn’t moved in decades was nothing short of magic. And I saw that she took that personalized and miracle-making approach with all of her clients, who like me, grew stronger with every Eutopia session. Pretty soon my husband was seeing her, and my sister, and my daughter and my son, too.

Of course, aside from her keen training smarts, I loved her personality and love of beauty and fun and nature and the beach and her dogs. She was brilliant and kind, had a spectacular sense of humor, a constant curiosity, and depth. Colleen became part of our family. All of us loved her, including our dog.

One of the worst days in my life (sound dramatic, but not even kidding) was the day she told me she’d decided to move to Northern California. Of course, I understood, who could stand these winters anymore, but I would miss her terribly, but even worse, what about my body? What would happen to me? This lead to me training on Zoom with her many years before the pandemic made it popular. Then, one day, I embarked on a yoga class, and heard about a pilates teacher, and trying both, I realized how much I’d missed in person working out, so we decided to end our sessions for the time. My husband, whose arthritis is tricky, still trains with her and she can always figure out a way to help him work his challenging circumstance.

This was the last session at Eutopia. As you can see, I’d been crying and even had a cold sore on my lip from the stress!

This all leads me to the fact that Colleen’s dream of having a retreat center is in the process of coming true! She and her fiancĂ© bought a piece of land in Northern California, where Continuum is going to be built. It’s absolutely thrilling and I literally cannot wait for this center to get off the ground. There is currently a gofundme (read all the amazing details) to help this (expensive) piece of heaven get off the ground. If you have any amount to give, please do, and if you don’t, keep it in mind, because this is a place where beauty and life and healing are going to happen.

The enchanted piece of land that the restorative retreat center, Continuum will be built on.

Anyway, I am so grateful for Colleen’s presence in my life. She’s part trainer, part sister, part friend, part wise, older -than-her-years guru. Mostly she’s a magical being who sees the world in all its complexity and still shows up for it with unbridled enthusiasm. And that alone is really something. I have endless gratitude for the naggy friend who forced me to meet Colleen long ago. It did actually change my life.

gratitude-a-thon day 2044: show up

Sometimes I wonder what the hell life is about, I mean, don’t you? You hit a wall and you’re like, what’s the fucking deal here? Well, having smacked up against some hard stuff recently, and backing away from it, at this moment in time I would say that life is about people. And love. And I guess I’d probably put potato chips in there.

If you ever wonder what you can do for someone who is not feeling quite themselves, or grappling with an issue, or having a problem, or stuck in the muck, I have two words for you: show up. That’s it. Just show up in whatever way you can. In the form of fresh baked muffins, my neighbor labeled, “as not the best,” or flowers, another friend left at the wrong house and circled back when she realized, or text messages that range from funny to uplifting and supportive. I have been asked to walk, eat, share part of friend’s vacations with them. Time, and ideas and good thoughts and Meta Loving Kindness meditations, and perhaps one of my favorite things of all, a delivery of two bags of potato chips from a friend. Because you know, POTATO CHIPS.

A few days on someone else’s vacation was a very big help. A little coffee didn’t hurt either.

Making a meal for someone who has enough on their plate, is like giving them a house on the French Riviera. One friend won’t stop making me dinner, and by the way, these gorgeous meals are not the classic casserole, each has been a gourmet preparation of exciting flavors and healthy foods, all lovingly prepared. I told her she gets the gold medal in the helping a distressed friend event. And while these dinners are delish, it’s really just the thought and care that have mattered the most.

Anyway, what I think life might be about is just being there for others, not just during the jolly fun times, but during the crap, oh-hell-you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me parts. That might be it, or at least a big part of it. So, smile at someone walking down the street, and say thank you, and just in general, be kind to others, because you never know if you’re the difference someone struggling might need to lift them back up to the sun. And gratitude to the small village that’s shown up for me.

gratitude-a-thon day 2043: fill ‘er up

How do you fill up when you”re empty? I’m not talking about potato chips. I’m talking emotionally, how do you put gas in the tank when you’re not only out, but stranded on the middle of a tumbleweed-laden desert road?

For me, it all goes back to gratitude. You knew I’d say that, didn’t you? I have to pull it all way back, go to the basics of my life and what I do have to begin the refueling.

Lately it’s been things like my bed, always so comforting and enveloping. Nourishing foods, like summer’s pickling cukes, those crunchy little guys that should have the tagline “snap, crackle, pop,” but got snagged by Rice Crispies. Juicy, drip down your chin nectarines, plump and sweet blueberries, a perfect little cherry tomato. I get energy from my plants and flowers, how they synthesize the sun, know when to bloom and when to call it a day. Breathing, that simple act, while focused on, can be a float in a sea of stress. A rich cream I can slather on my dry skin, a warm bubble bath I can sink deep down into, a good book that lets me travel to somewhere I’ve never been. Fiends who show up with a meal, or a treat, or themselves, giving you their time, are good as High Test Premium.

Again and again, I go back to those small things that I sometime overlook, but that really are the stuff of life, when you get right down to it. I go day in and day out to the gratitude, that 24-hour bodega where you can always find the goods.

gratitude-a-thon day 2042: gratitude, the money shot

As Mark Knopfler wrote and Mary Chapin Carpenter sings, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.” Just 10 weeks ago my husband had shoulder replacement surgery (a casualty of the obnoxious auto immune arthritis he has that works investment banker hours). That major surgery was a snap. No pain, and better range of motion after a few days than the he’d had in several years. Parade!

This past Tuesday, he had what seemed like a simple ankle surgery to remove a painful bone spur that would put him in a walking boot for three weeks. Easy peasy, we just aced the shoulder, we had no qualms about this routine procedure that would help him hit the pavement without pain. But unfortunately it was more extensive, with multiple bone spurs and a ligament repair, and now he’s in a non-weight-bearing boot for six weeks, which is then a walking boot for another four. Um, not the day at the beach we were expecting after the long Y E A R of Covid seclusion we all experienced.

You gotta play the Scrabble tiles you get……

BUT we have a spiffy new stand-up recliner, a bed in the living room and a super fun knee scooter as consolation, not to mention one of those toilet seats that raises the seat higher and makes you feel like you’re peeing into the Grand Canyon……Canyon……Canyon.

The poor guy can’t use stairs, and guess where the shower is? And while our yard is blooming with about 100,000 hydrangeas (not really, but sort of), he cannot even get down the few steps to sit and enjoy them. He is pretty much a prisoner to the first floor.

Oh yeah, and the day we came home from the surgery, we found our dishwasher didn’t work (the repair guy came and it’s still not working…..) and there was a leak in our daughter’s bathroom! It’s true what they say, when it rains, it fucking pours (I might have added the “fucking” part).

Of course we will get through this. Of course there are worse things that could happen, but damn. Not surprisingly, Mr. Positivity’s spirits are good and he is wondering if I would mind getting a sexy nurse costume. I mean, he’s bored, and certainly not thrilled, but he’s feeling better than I am. My mood has plummeted, as much because of our homebound status, as because of my mind wondering which body part this high-achieving arthritis will come for next…

And this is why gratitude is so important. Because of unexpected, super shitty events like this. Because unless we’re aware of what we have, of the good things in our midst, we will sink to the bottom of the ocean, faster than one of Tony Soprano’s enemies. Gratitude is what will get me through the caretaking and the dish washing and the constant dog walking (oh yeah, did I mention the dog is kind of not doing too well either…..). Gratitude is what will lift me back up. So, today I’m grateful for gratitude itself. (And my bed, cuz sweet baby Jesus, I’m tired.)