gratitude-a-thon day 174: we love each other, so it’s ok

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With my son leaving for college in September, everybody is a little off kilter this summer. I think the separation has begun. Having crossed a line on the Vineyard, Jake has been grounded for three weeks. He gets out of lockdown this Friday, so watch out. This has put him in a mood. Ally, in preparation for Jake’s departure, has begun to push him away in every way she can, covering up the total trauma she feels about him leaving. Peter and I are trying to do our work, keep things moving, trying not to project into a Jake-less house. And of course, the heat has had all of us wanting to go postal at any given moment. No, this has not been one of our better summers.

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What I’m grateful for, however, is that I know we all love each other, and that the very reason we’re all so fun-house mirror is because of that. Ah, life. It just keeps morphing  and changing. Figuring out a way to accept it is a full time job. I am the first to admit this is not my best thing. I have to work hard not to let big changes, natural changes, throw me. I am always seeking the balance.

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On Peter’s birthday, we had a really nice walk on Moshup Beach in Aquinnah. I’ve been going there for 25 years. It’s a stunning beach with magnificent clay cliffs. The cliffs are eroding at a rapid pace. But even as it’s changing, there’s plenty of beauty to be had. I guess that’s why I think it’s a perfect back drop for pictures of our family right now. We’re in the process of shedding a layer, but there’s a new and different kind of lovely underneath. Yup, I guess it’s all about accepting the changes. Riding the waves. Being grateful for what’s what on any given day.

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gratitude-a-thon day 172: it’s not 95 today!

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I missed yesterday’s post because my daughter had a soccer tournament on turf and while she played, I baked on the sidelines. I’m sorry, I don’t mean baked, I mean fried, like a gosh darn piece of breaded chicken. Turf is no place to be when it’s 95, it heats up far beyond the actual temperature the air is. In fact, it can actually heat up to 170 degrees. And I”m pretty sure that yesterday, it was like 200. Ok, not really. But it FELT that way.

So, here’s to the break in the heat wave we’ve had for the last seven days. It’s over. I am singing the hallelujah chorus. Today is a lovely, temperate 80! I might need a sweater. Fucking hooray.

gratitude-a-thon day 171: small bites friday (really hot edition)

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Adam Levine is getting married. Phew, my marriage is safe.

Uber good idea. I scream. You scream.

In this heat, it’s lemonade. Here’s why you’re reaching for it.

The Emmy’s killed off  Dexter’s nomination. Boo.

Perry signed the abortion bill, and these ladies did not take it sitting down. Way to lay, girls.

I loved her in That Girl, now she’s telling us how to stay optimistic. Thanks, Ann Marie, I mean, Marlo.

Good news if your memory is going to the dogs.

I sometimes run away from my reflection too.

Two of U.S News’ Best Hospitals are right here in Boston. Makes me feel pretty good.

Well, at least it isn’t going to be 100.

gratitude-a-thon day 170: CVS & Tedeschi Food Mart (nice move, guys)

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A Rolling Stone cover always features a rock star or celebrity. Not this month.

I’ve been reading super cool Rolling Stone for more than 30 years. It’s hip. It’s smart. And its articles are well-researched and beautifully written.

But they did something so UNCOOL this month, that it will be hard to forgive them. They put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Rolling Stoooooooooone.” Sing it Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show (hey, did you know that the kid’s author, who I loved, loved, loved, Shel Silverstein wrote this song–wild, huh?) Anyway, I am sort of shocked that they would pull this kind of attention-seeking move. I understand that the internet is making newspapers and magazines work for their readership and that pretty soon they won’t be able to survive. This is a sad, but true reality. And although my computer and phone have become like an appendage that gives me information, I still respect hard copy, the flipping of pages, the feel in my hands of a good magazine or paper.

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But let’s get back to this decision to put a kid who masterminded a plot to kill people at the beloved Boston Marathon, a Massachusetts institution, and succeeded in murdering, and maiming hundreds, deeply scarring thousands, and shutting down an entire city. Let’s talk about why you would ever put this kid’s photo on the cover of a magazine known for featuring rock stars and actors. There’s loads of controversy all over the internet, but I fall on the side of it being wrong. Yes, we have free speech, so technically, legally, it’s the magazine’s choice. But what does it mean? It means that Rolling Stone decided to get themselves some buzz by putting Tsarnaev’s photo on the cover. Some say that the photo depicts innocence and that the article is all about how he went from a seemingly normal kid to a terrorist. But, why not put the photo opposite the article, on the inside of the magazine, if you’re trying to show the dichotomy. I respect that they did an article on the subject. I have no issue with that, and probably would have been really interested in reading it, if they hadn’t pulled this publicity stunt. I could think of 10 eye catching ways to make that cover depict “the making of a terrorist” theme. Why give someone who committed such a hideous crime celebrity status? Why, because everybody is talking about Rolling Stone, and that’s exactly what they were aiming for. I think it’s gross, and I would have thought it beneath a well respected magazine like Rolling Stone.

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Today I’m grateful for CVS and Tedeschi Food Shops who pulled this issue. Tsarnaev’s crime was despicable and will effect the victim’s forever. Rolling Stone has every right to publish a story about this kid and his road to becoming a monster, but they’ve done more than that, they’ve made him a celebrity.

gratitude-a-thon day 169: The story of GoldieBlox

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The inventor with a new toy that just might replace Barbie.

First of all, I really am digging the site Upworthy. It’s all positive and inspiring stuff that makes me want to stand on top of the world and yell, “I knew it, we ARE all good.”

Here’s a video of a Debra Sterling, an engineer, telling her story of what she did to improve the odds of little girls going into engineering. Did you know that 89% of the engineering jobs are held by men? Debra thinks a female perspective is necessary for us to have a good future. So, she created a building and reading (because girls like to read) game to replace Barbie dolls in the arsenal of toys that girls play with when they’re little, in hopes that the skills they learn from the game GoldieBlox will inspire them and help them understand that engineering is an option for them in the future. Cool idea. Great little game. Gutsy woman.

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God, I loved Barbie dolls.

I was all Barbie all the time when I was a kid. I made clothes, built houses and furniture, and created stories around my little doll friends with the mini 36-24-36 bods. I could “play dolls” endlessly. I never got my fill. Would I have been interested in Goldie Blox? I don’t know. I never had Legos. I did have Tinker Toys and I did love those. But let’s face it, for anybody who knows me, my worst skill is math. Even saying it that way does not truly drive home the point of just how HORRIBLE my math skills are. I was stellar at math until 7th grade when geometry began and things just just went to shit faster than you can say parallelogram. My dad was a super star math guy. He could add massive numbers in his head like a party trick. When he tried to help me with math homework in high school, it was a scream-fest similar to the movie Halloween. He had the patience of a fly, and when I didn’t understand, instead of trying to explain the concept, he would just yell at me. REALLY LOUDLY. It was anything but educational. Actually, it would set me up for a lifetime of hating numbers. The summer after freshman year, I went home and snagged a waitressing job at a restaurant/bar that was willing to train me,  and took the one math course I would have to take to meet my college requirement. It was like Math for Dogs (and I say that with all due respect), but still I had a hard time. I actually developed a case of hives for the length of the entire course. I squeaked by with a C and threw a fucking parade when it was over. I pledged never to have to take math again. And it is one of my daily gratitudes, THAT I NEVER HAVE TO TAKE MATH AGAIN, EVER, EVER, IN MY LIFE. My kids, by the way, are very good at math, like my dad and my husband. And man, I am grateful for that, too.

So, today it is Debra Sterling, helping little girls to know that they can do anything, be anything. I like her drive and her commitment (plus she has really cool hair), but mostly I like that she’s doing something about a problem that exists. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all take a problem and do something about it? Like everybody in the world would take one problem and set their minds to solving it. Mmmmmm. If only. Anyway, go Debra, and buh bye Barbie. I’ll miss you.

gratitude-a-thon day 168: gizoogle.net (why didn’t anybody tell me ’bout this?)

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Ok, this alternate universe GIZOOGLE.NET gratitude-a-thon page made me laugh MY FACE OFF at 6:38 a.m. You gotta check it out. No, really, drop what you’re doing and google  http://gizoogle.net RIGHT NOW, if not sooner. Put in your name, or whatever. And then laugh your “thugged out ass” off.

This is not a racist laugh I’m getting, here’s the history of this creative little site. I’m not laughing at someone else’s expense. I’m laughing because they MADE me laugh. Yo.

gratitude-a-thon day 167: take it to the streets

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What if Martin had been wearing a hoodie?

I grew up in a small town (cue the John Cougar Mellencamp tune). It was nearly all white, and all Catholic. There were two Jewish families, and of course, me, who had a Jewish last name, but a Catholic mother and parents who decided to be progressive and let us “choose” our religion when we were old enough to do so (none of us ever did). There were hardly any black families in our little town. In fact, I only remember maybe four. Donna was a good friend when I was young and came to all my birthday parties. Vesta and her sister Cindy were beyond friendly and smart. I never really thought about them being different. It just wasn’t in my head to think about. My family was very liberal. My dad taught us to be color blind. I always really liked that about him as I got older.

Probably the first time I ever had real feelings about someone black was when my cousin, going to her aerobics class in the Salvation Army building in the next town over, was attacked by a black man. She was unrecognizably beaten. It was traumatic and had long lasting effects. Still, I didn’t think all black people were bad, I just thought that man was bad.

When I had fallen in love with Peter, my husband to be, I lived on Newbury Street, and had a brand new Post Offices Etc. open next to me, just in time for Christmas. I excitedly brought a gift over to mail to my sister in NYC. The building was long and cavernous. I stood at the counter telling the proprietor that I lived right next door and how incredible it was that I would never have to go to the crowded and inconvenient Prudential Center post office again. A  black man walked into the store, which I didn’t really note, until I went to go on my merry way, and he blocked the door, and pointed something in his pocket (a gun, a knife, a finger?) at me and repeated the words he would say over and over for the next five minutes, “Give me all your money, or I’ll blow your head off.” This so took me by surprise, I nearly peed myself. One minute I was sending my sister an awesome sweater, and the next I was in danger of getting my head blown off. I was shaking, seeing red, nearly paralyzed. In fact, all I could think of was that I’d finally fallen in love and found the man I was going to marry, and I was going to be a front cover story in the Boston Globe for dying in a Post Offices Etc. because I didn’t have enough cash in my shiny red Le Sportsac bag (I only had $9.00 and change, which strewn all over the floor when I dumped the bad over to try and save my life with the contents). The man and his “pocket gun” which he pointed into my back, after collecting my paultry $9.00,  forced the owner and I into the back of the store and threw us in a dark bathroom together, where he told us not to move or he would “blow our heads off.” This man had a very limited vocabulary. I humped the owner and kept repeating, “Oh my God, oh my God,” until the poor man, who probably wished I didn’t live next door, said that he thought the robber only had a knife and that he was going to go see if he had left. I begged him not to go, since I thought he would be standing guard to make sure we didn’t move, which of course, made no sense. Was he going to stay there for the rest of our lives in an effort to keep us in the bathroom? Shortly after that, we heard a woman’s voice asking if anyone was there. This finally gave the owner license to leave my terrified embrace to call the police, leaving me frozen in the bathroom, still repeating over and over, “Oh my God, oh my God.” The police came and took a description of the man, said there’d been a series of these robberies up and down Newbury and Boylston and that it had most likely just been a finger in the guy’s pocket and not a gun, and that it was probably someone just trying to get drug money. That was that.

I remember not being particularly scared of black people after that, as much as I was scared of crowded places, where I realized if someone has a gun and quietly sticks it in your side and tells you to give them all your money, there’s not much you can do about it.

My nanny, Bevy was Jamaican. She was with us for five years. Nicest person you’d ever want to meet. I never had feelings about her being black. She just was. I loved her. We all did. She was part of our family.

I don’t know. I have been thinking about what it is to be black in this country for a long time. The Trayvon Martin trial isn’t the first time I’ve paused over the sad state of affairs that is our racially divided country. Yes, we have a black president, and that has done a world of good, but there is still too much prejudice, too much hate, too much division.

Today I am grateful for the people who took to the streets in L.A. in protest of the Zimmerman verdict. We should all be out there. We aren’t separate, we’re one. Why is that so hard to see?

gratitude-a-thon day 166: home

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There’s something nice about coming home from vacation. All the familiarity and comfort is kind of great. My bed instantly molded to my body, there are no bugs flying or crawling around my house, it’s so easy to be able to put the dog on his backyard leash for a pee. Usually I feel really sad coming home from the Vineyard, but this year, not so much. We had the worst stretch of weather we’ve ever had, so I have to admit to have gotten a little bored. After all, it’s all about the beach, and well, when you take that away, there’s only so much EVEN I CAN SHOP.

Anyway, grateful to be home. Without much of a tan, without my watch, without my fill of beach. Not that I didn’t have some great fun, because I did. I really did. It’s just there really isn’t a thing you can do about the weather, and this year, that really didn’t go well. So, I will have to make a vacation right here at home for the rest of the summer. Do some fun things that will make up for our unseasonably icky weather weeks away. I’ll let you know how it works out. But for now, I’m with Dorothy, “there’s no place like home.”