gratitude-a-thon day 125: the optical illusion (and associated nausea)

 

images-4

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/30/10-optical-illusions_n_3354122.html?utm_hp_ref=comedyhttp://

This is the kind of thing I loved as a kid. I clamored for anything that played with my head. These are some mind blowers.  I guess I’m still a little bit enamored with this kind of trickery (although not the headache I just got from number six)!

gratitude-a-thon day 124: transitions

IMG_2469

Here’s my boy on our trip to visit California colleges last April. He’s ready for the next step. But am I?

I am still sick with the crud. What is this thing? You need to NOT get it. I hope you can’t catch it from reading the blog.

Anyway, tomorrow is Jake’s last day of high school. Saying that out loud is like saying, “I woke up tall and blonde this morning.” (I will never be tall, or blonde, although that’s not entirely true, since I was blonde for like a few weeks a month ago when my hairdresser went a little light on the highlights and turned me into Malibu Barbie.) Anyway, I am not even sure how this is possible, but tomorrow is the last time Jake will enter BHS as a student.

Life is such a funny little thing. Nobody tells you how really funny it is–you just have to experience it for yourself. I only remember the end of high school in a very foggy light. Little snippets, small moments. A cool dress my sister let me borrow to wear to Senior Night. My family in the stands of the Wildcat’s home football field watching me get my dipoloma in my dorky white cap and gown. The giant picnic my parents threw for me. And that’s really all. I don’t remember anything else. Except that I felt odd, displaced, strange. I guess there was a happiness, but I don’t remember it overwhelming me. I guess I went to the Cape for a month that summer, as usual, but I don’t remember it being remarkable, or especially better than any other summer on the Cape.

Anyway, I want to make this transition special for Jake, but I have to say, this end of high school is overwhelming me with all the feeling I didn’t have during my own graduation. It’s not that millions of kids don’t do this every year that makes it such a landmark moment, it’s that it’s the real beginning of the end of  your child’s life in your house. This is the part of graduation that is remarkable. That the day to day tending, nurturing, coaching, coaxing, cajoling, poking and loving your child is done with. I don’t mean that in a maudlin, or dramatic way. And I don’t mean that I won’t continue to do that to Jake, I just mean it as what it is, factual.  It’s real and it’s big. Your kid is on his way to having to begin a life on his own.

I will miss that boy and his pile of clothes in the middle of his room. I will long for his silly jokes and his hugs, and his insights. I will even miss nagging him to do stuff (maybe I’m overstating here, yeah, I WILL NOT MISS THE NAGGING HIM TO DO STUFF.) In short, I will miss every single thing about this boy who made me a mom. He is the most special thing that’s ever happened to me (along with that girl).

Anyway, I have been trying to create this album for him. It’s forced me to sift through the literally thousands of photos of our family that I have amassed. It’s not like me, but I can’t pull it together. Every time I think of a plan for the book, I think it’s not special enough, and I want to take a nap, or try heroin for the first time. It’s not hard to psychoanalyze myself here. I don’t need a degree. I am totally engulfed in the emotion of seeing not only his life in pictures, but also my own. Where did that time go? Is that why people are always saying that–“Where did the time go?” Because it’s impossible to understand its passing.  I mean, IMPOSSIBLE. If he’s older, so am I. After 18 years of hard labor (privIleged, incredible labor, not to mention that really awful labor before the epidural) I’m done. Just like that. I’m in transition, too. And I’ve never been good at those. They take me a good long time to embrace. I’m better at middles. Middles are much more my thing.

Today I am grateful for transitions ,even though I hate them, they’re what prepare you for what’s next. They may cause you to be swarmed with feelings, like six year olds around a birthday pinata, but they are a must. So, I will let myself jump into the transitional pool and learn to swim. And then, I will get on with making that album. It won’t be perfect, or as special as I want it to be, but it will be from my heart, for my boy. Who will always be my boy (and hopefully will remember those 18 years with as much love as I do).

gratitude-a-thon day 123: ahhhhh, the potato chip

images-3

Mmmmm. The only good part of being sick is my potato chip break.

While I lay miserable in my bed, hacking and coughing and achey, one thing is pulling me through.

Potato chips.

Yes, those crunchy, perfectly fried, oddly shaped saucers always make me feel better (although I gotta tell you, this little virus is kicking my ass). I have always had a penchant for the potato in all forms, but the chip, is among my most favorite. I have even used it as a diet food. No, seriously. When I was younger and trying to lose a few pounds, I would eat a small bag with a reasonable turkey sandwich for lunch and it would help to really fill me up, and ta da: weight loss. My friends got a big laugh out of this, but it makes perfect sense. A small bag can be just like 140 calories, but if it’s filling, and more importantly satisfying, so you’re eating a limited amount of calories and not feeling deprived and not over eating. I don’t know, it always worked for me.

images-2

My original favorite.

But back to the chips. When I was a kid, I ate Wise, the blue bag with the owl logo. They were extra greasy and I haven’t had them in years. (do they still make them?) I often ate them with pretzels, together. Must have been the beginning of my life long obsession with salt. I also ate Pathmark brand chips, which I have to say, I remember as really delicious. They weren’t as salty; they were much more potato-y and thus felt a little more like food than snack. I moved onto Lay’s, which I never particularly liked much, but seemed to be the chip of choice for take out restaurants and snack bars everywhere. Then like a super model, Cape Cod Chips made their way onto the scene, thick and distinctively different than all other crispy taters, they pranced onto shelves, changing the runway forever. I liked them because I had to, but secretly, I didn’t ever really like them at all.

images-3

My current chip.

Today I am an Utz girl, with Kettle Chips, second runner up. Utz reminds me of the old Pathmark brand, with a less deep fried taste and a more foodish thing going on. I could eat an entire bag without batting an eyelash. Seriously. I could, although I never have. This is a joke in my family. I am always boasting that I could eat a couple of foods in an unlimited way, and my kids and husband are always challenging me to do it. But I resisit, because I don’t, of course, want the calories, of say, 40 pancakes, or 30 hotdogs, or six watermelons (WHOLE watermelons, by the way), or several bags of chips. But let me assure you, I could do it. I could. I COULD.

So, today, amidst the headache, sore throat and total cough-fest, I give it up to the chip. A momentary pleasure, yes, but worth every caloric bite.

gratitude-a-thon day 122: I’m sick in bed, but the bed is comfortable

images-1

I’m sick. Some kind of spring flu-ish misery featuring body aches, a sore throat, a dog bark cough and enough phlegm to clog a drain. Ugh! I have so much to do to get ready for the big After the Prom Party (ATPP) this weekend. The ATPP is Brookline’s answer to keeping seniors safe from drugs, alcohol and driving on a night that is super duper high risk. It’s a ginormous party at the school, with loads of entertainment, prizes, food, and fun. I’ve been working on this with a dedicated team of people since February. This is an all volunteer event. People participate who no longer even have high school kids, which is incredibly generous. The theme this year is the beach. So, we are going all out to bring the waves to Brookline. This weekend will be a full on push to prepare for Monday night’s extravaganza, so I have got to get myself better. I will be chaperoning, which requires me to be there from 11:30 – 6 a.m. If you know me for five minutes, you know that I’m not a night owl, so this ought to be interesting!

Anyway, if you’re a Brookline person and would like to help or chaperone, give me a holler. (I would love you forever and ever for this act of kick ass kindness.) If not, how bout you say a little health prayer for me, so I can do it. When I get sick, I get sicker for longer than normal people, so get out your prayer beads, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

The grateful part? Well, that I have a nice comfy bed to be sick in. That’s the best I can do under the circumstances. But you know, I always keep in mind that things could be worse.

gratitude-a-thon day 121: i don’t believe in war, but i do believe in saying thanks

WarThemed-7

I’m going to say this, but I don’t want you to think I’m not patriotic, because I really love the United States. Like, a lot. I don’t believe in war. I have come to understand that it is occasionally necessary, but i don’t philosophically believe in it. I believe in words. I believe in playing like an adult and sitting down at a table and working it out. I believe in grand scale maps and plans and power point to get your argument across. There should be coffee and other good things to eat available. This sort of “sit down” should occur somewhere full-service, so that the disagreeing parties can go away at the end of a day and sleep and eat and then go back at it. With their words. With their well thought out schemes. With their persuasive plans. This is the way we should solve world problems. With a good cup of coffee and well crafted discourse.

But instead we are archaic and caveman when we disagree. We pull out the big guns and the massive tanks and killer grenades. We have infrared glasses and quiet helicopters that allow for sneak attacks. It’s like every little boy’s make-believe backyard game. Only it’s real people and instead of pretending to die, all the deaths are permanent. Dead. Forever. In this day of technology and brilliance, we fight dirty to make a point. This is really totally and completely out of the bounds of my imagination. How does your heart take such brutality?  How do you  brainwash your soul to be able to snuff out someone else’s light? And what of the innocent who may have been in the way? How do you come back and live in polite society where people are concerned with such inconsequential things as the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass, when you have experienced what it’s like to kill?

But the thing is, while I am 100% against war. I am 100% for the soldiers who fight. I am UBER grateful there are men and women who risk their lives for our principles. I  know I could not let my boy (or girl) go. I know that I don’t have what it takes. But thanks to all the people over all the years, who do, who have. Thanks.

gratitude-a-thon day 120: i get to sleep today

I think I maybe only once have missed posting, but you know what, throwing a party and being hungover and having to get up the next day to drive your daughter to a soccer tournament in 49 degree rain,  brought me to my knees. Why is it that no matter how ready for a party you think you are, you aren’t? Anyway, my apologies for being dereclict yesterday, I hope you found some awesome stuff to be grateful for (if you live in New England, it was not the fucking weather, I can tell you that much). Here are some photos of the aftermath of my friend deb’s 50th. I was practically too tired to even take these. See you tomorrow.

IMG_4506

Only one broken glass. Not bad.

IMG_4505

This was after I had cleaned a little bit.

 

IMG_4503

This was after I had not cleaned at all.

s

gratitude-a-thon day 119: you have a voice: bye bye Abercrombie

no-abercrombie

I was always suspect of this store when my daughter made me take her there. I felt like I was shopping for a line of clothes that shrunk in the dryer. But wearing that logo on your chest when you’re 12 was pretty much a mandatory. Until now (I hope.)

In case you have not heard, which would be pretty hard, since it’s practically being screamed from every mountain top, as it should be, the pathetic and gross CEO of the sad and disgusting clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch is really a class A, Number One PIG. And while there have been loads of press on this totally awful human being, I am partial to Ellen’s send-up of Mike Jeffries, a man who does not want to find himself stuck in an elevator with me (or any other woman, and especially not my 15 year old daughter–actually that would be a very good thing for him. A few minutes with Ally and she just might straighten out his thinking).

Mr. Jeffries, who’s very name pains me to write, except that it is a good one for you to know, so you can wish for him every red light (or worse) for the rest of time, says that his strategy for A&F is simple. They don’t want fat people to wear their clothing. They do not carry over a size 10.  (H&M carries up to size 16, and American Eagle goes one size larger with a variety of clothing in size 18 by the way.) So, if you’re going to take your daughter shopping at A&F, don’t let her eat breakfast (or anything else), because we are talking about clothes for the tooth fairy.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely….”

Oh Mr. Jeffries, here are a few questions for you to ponder, as you try and create a brand that relies on the “cool” kids. Have you heard about how hard it is to be a teenager these days? There is the pressure of social media, epic numbers of divorce, bullying, and depression to deal with daily. Are you aware of the number of eating disorders that occur in our teenage population? Do you know what it’s like to be excluded and unable to wear the cool clothes, and to try to, because you think the only way you can fit it in, is if you fit into a pair of shorts  that only a genetically minute or a pre-pubescent girl can wear? Do you understand that your retail strategy is part of the problem, THE BIGGER PROBLEM of teenage self-esteem?  DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE WITH HITLER?

“We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”

Woweee. This dude is perhaps inhuman, perhaps just stupid? I am not the first to say it, but DON’T GO NEAR AN ABERCROMBIE & FITCH. Don’t let your girls or boys buy their teeny tiny clothing. Picket this store. Don’t stand for it. Don’t sit for it either. And above all, DON’T BUY IT.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 118: paint

I have had some green chairs from Pottery Barn for a long time. How long? Maybe like 15 years or something. Anyway, I used to use a lot of green and what you find when you use a lot of one color, is that it is a sure way to begin a life-long hatred for said color. And so it is with my green chairs. Now I also use a lot of white. Impractical, silly for a family with a dog, or a teenager, but there it is. And I never get sick of it. So, throw out my previous statement, because I’m fairly certain I will be a “white” girl forever and ever, and if I manage to get to heaven, the traditional heaven, I’ll be in a good place–decorated in white clouds. Lovely taste they have up there. Anwyay, yesterday I decided to do a little down and dirty painting of the green chairs.

I should also mention that my idea of the “perfect” white chair is one that is old, with chipped paint and a story to tell. I have a couple, but the problem with these guys is that they break (hopefully, nobody is actually sitting in them when they do this–.so far, so good). I had wanted to get to the mecca of white chairs and everything else that is old and cool and just waiting to be bargained for–Brimfiled, the largest flear market in the world–last week, but with my sturdy to do list spanning 10,000 miles, I couldn’t drive the hour and half to scavenge for white chairs  at the over 6,000 dealers just waiting to unload their wares. Oh the agony…..

So, instead, I went to the hardware store, got myself some Benjamin Moore white paint, bought the suggested primer, which I knew I would not use, threw down a tarp in the backyard and proceeded to basically paint myself white (the chair managed to get a little white on it, too). I am not fastidious. My A.D.D. takes over when I’m doing something like this, and I get a little impulsive. So, I took the primer out of the bag and let it watch me paint right on the chair. I know I was supposed to use it for the best coverage, but I didn’t. Here’s where the chipped paint white chair love comes in–I don’t care if something looks perfect. I am all about the imperfect. So, for me, even though you can see the brush strokes and some green peeking through on the chair, that would drive somebody else to have a small stroke, I love it. It’s basically what I was going for!

IMG_4487

The “before.” Buh-bye GREEN.

IMG_4486

The imperfect , but WHITE “after!”

So, for today, my gratitude goes to….da, da, da, DAAAAAAA– paint. Transformative, awesome, change-your-whole-mood-in-a-minute paint. If only everything was so easy to change.

gratitude-a-thon day 117: life today, as it is

 

images-2

Doesn’t it sort of seem like we’re watching The Disaster Channel? I feel like the world is going to hell in a hand basket. In the past month alone, we’ve had the Boston Marathon bombing, the Texas fertilizer disaster and the Oklahoma tornado. While we watch on our televisions, and read on our computers, and newspapers (does anybody read the newspaper anymore, except my husband?), can we really take in such total devastation?  I see the horror, try hard to conjure up the experience, but can you really know what losing your home, or you town, or you leg, would really be like unless you do?

And yet, these experiences devastate me, and get into the cracks of my soul like a noxious gas. They warn of life as you know it being taken away in a New York minute. They tell the story of everyday’s  fragility in words and pictures, using someone else’s world as illustration. They scream out at you, like the guy with the sign that says, “The End is Near.”

And so instead of the fear that cripples, when these things happen, I am trying to go the way of the gratitude. Your house, which needs painting and new steps and a bathroom renovation is perfect. Your thighs, dimpled with the dreaded cellulite get you from place to place one foot in front of the other. Your face, getting wrinkled and the subject of your worry, forget it, it’s all good, the proof of a life fully lived. The perspective these disasters can pull out of us is the only good thing I can see. Life, unpredictable, is ours to squander or celebrate. The mundane is the gold. Do we only realize it when it’s taken from us. That’s too late. Today I will read about the people of Oklahoma and send my donation to wherever it will help, and then I will  hug my life a little harder, notice all the flowers on my walk, and sing hallelujah for the piles of clothes in the middle of my kid’s rooms.