gratitude-a-thon day 228: now that’s a place to shop

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Here’s the owner Joanne herself in her delightful shop. I don’t use that word too much, but there’s no other way of describing it. And guess what? She writes down five things she’s grateful for every night!

I interrupt my usual Small Bites Friday to share a great shopping experience I had yesterday. The thing is that  shopping has become so homogenized, it’s like living in Wellesley, there’s just no diversity. I love when someone puts together a collection that’s both intriguing and amusing. The mall-ization of America makes me feel despondent. What’s a girl to do? Well, for one thing, she can shop independent stores, where people go out of their way to actually carry things that can’t be found elsewhere. Those are my favorite kinds of places. I try to shop them as much as I can because not only do I like what they have better, but I also appreciate the fact that running a small business is a labor of love. You do it because you want to, you have to. And it shows.

Which brings me to yesterday and, Joanne Rossman, Purveyor of the Unneccassary and Irresitible (joanne-rossman.my shopify.com). This place is a find! Everything in this small and intimate store is great, including Joanne herself. This intelligent, stylish, and charming woman is not only interesting, she has stocked her shop with interesting stuff from all over the place. And has she got an eye! Perfectly displayed, beautifully edited, this is the place to kill your holiday list, or where to go for a pick-me-up during one of those days when nothing’s going right. From jewelry to cook books, Joanne-made hangers to one-of-a-kind paintings, John Derian to Patch NYC, there are loads of quirky finds in this perfectly appointed space.

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I needed a 50th birthday gift for a friend and I couldn’t think of anywhere to go that everybody else wouldn’t also be going. Joanne’s shop is in Roslindale, so I hadn’t been since the end of the school year, but I thought this friend was worth the time. And I was right. I scored the ideal something something for someone who’s been on the style bus for five decades.

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Soaps, candles, and all things delish.

If you’re tired of the so-so, the blah blah, or the same old, same old, head over to 6 Birch Street and treat yourself to a visit with Joanne Rossman and Rita Rose, her adorable dog, who has her own luxurious bed and has a charming snore. I’m pretty sure you’ll be grateful you did.

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How cute is Rita Rose, not to mention her bed?

gratitude-a-thon day 227: shit, I love to swear

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I apologize to you, for whom swearing is a fucking no-no. But this post is all about my love of the naughty four letter word. You can list all the great authors, drone on about the language of Shakespeare and Dickens, and Joyce. But I will tell you sometimes there is just no other word that’s as elegant or apt as the one you’re not supposed to say in polite company. My mom said “shit” and “damn.” And you knew my dad was steaming mad if he said “fuck,” which my mother abhorred. That is, until she was older, and my sisters and I all swore like sailors. One day, my mom, a friend of hers, my sister and I were all out in the back yard, discussing how the word “fuck” was so commonly used, it had really lost its impact.  My sister told us how her 7th grade students used the phrase “fucking asshole” constantly, so she finally said to them, “So tell me, what exactly does a fucking asshole look like?” This stumped them, and oddly, actually stopped them from using it. My mom was giving my sister a disapproving look throughout the story, but then she stunned us all, when she looked at her friend with a deadpan face and said, “These fucking kids.” She used the word frequently after that, and it always made us howl with laughter.

But let’s get back to me and the adoration I have for a good potty mouth. Yes, I have kids. And no, I did not stop swearing when I became a mom. No, I never said to them, “Will you fucking stop crying!” (although admittedly I thought it in my head). Yes, some people would find that appalling,” but others, the ones I would like to know and who would probably become my best friends, would be the ones that understand that you can be an excellent mother and still have a fondness for cursing.

When it comes to swearing, my mentor is Deb on Dexter. Nobody quite puts it together like Deb. “Fuck me sideways.” “Mother fuck, holy Jesus on a stick.” “Sweet Mary mother fuck,.” These are just a handful of some of Deb’s best bad language moments.

My dad used to say to me that if you get used to swearing, one day you’ll swear in the wrong company and you’ll be proverbially fucked. I haven’t really ever had that happen. Sometimes I swear with a client when I think they are the kind of person, who too, understands the joy of cussing. Sometimes I swear in the class I teach. My advertising partner wouldn’t swear if a house fell on top of her like the wicked witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz (which, did you hear, is out in 3-D!).

I don’t think of swearing as immoral. I don’t think that it means you’re uneducated, or have a lousy and limited vocabulary. Sometimes I think it’s just funny. Sometimes I find it is an ice breaker between people. Sometimes I use it to convey my casualness.

And sometimes, swearing is just the only thing to do. You’re in the car, doing your thing, in a happy mood,  and suddenly you get cut off by some entitled driver, who nearly causes you to get into a super-sized accident (a yoga mom, who’s got no zen, a mid-life crisis dude showing off in his ridiculous sports car, a stressed out cab driver who is working for a tip and has to get there NOW) and there is nothing you can say that would convey your annoyance and disgust like a big fat “FUCK.” I mean, right? What do you non-swearers say–DARN. It just doesn’t really get to the heart of a situation like that. It doesn’t nearly satisfy that part of me that gets angered by a moment when you’re actually almost killed.

Anyway, so grateful for the full range of four letter words out there, at my disposal. I am guessing I will never stop swearing. And I might never stop being judged for it. But, fuck  it, that’s just fine with me.

gratitude-a-thon day 226: teaching

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Nike created The Girl Effect. It’s one of the most compelling pieces of marketing I’ve ever seen.

So, I am teaching a class at the Art Institute of Boston/Lesley College with my advertising art director partner, Steph. It’s called Concept to Campaign. We say we teach advertising, but the truth what we really teach is thinking. Because in advertising, like in most things, you’re trying to solve a problem. Sometimes the problem is easy, like how to get people to notice the client sells shoes.  Sometimes it’s harder, like how to get people to buy the client’s shoes.  And sometimes the problem is even harder, like how to get people to think they need, must have, gotta get the client’s shoes, even though they really don’t need, have to get, or want them. So, it’s all about thinking outside (when you have no parameters, which believe it or not can be difficult) and inside (when you have parameters, which believe it or not can be easier) the box.

I really like teaching because I really like kids. And it’s funny to be teaching kids that are Jake’s age, because I probably haven’t mentioned, but Jake just WENT TO COLLEGE. Anyway, I also like it because while there is all sorts of bad advertising, and all sorts of bad advertisers, persuasive advertising can be used for good. There are loads of examples of how a non-profit has used advertising to get attention, and make changes in the world. How can you argue with that?

This is one of my most favorite pieces of advertising ever. EVER. EVER. EVER. It’s smart and savvy and simple and gets to the compelling emotional truth, which Steph and I are always droning on about in our class. It’s called The Girl Effect. It’s the kind of intelligence that moves the dial. It’s what I’m trying to teach kids to be able to do. Maybe someone in the class will go on to do some work that will alter our gun laws. That would be something to be grateful for.

sad-a-tude-a-thon day 225: just another day in america

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The flag flies at half staff, AGAIN.

I feel a certain despondency over the latest shooting in America. I was on the bike at the gym yesterday, while everybody watched in horror, a story developing. It was a story we’d already seen so many times before. A re-run of sorts.

What are we doing? What are we becoming?

The New York Times reports that the man  who shot 12 people yesterday (and who’s name I’d rather not use), and who was also killed, helped in rescue attempts on 9/11 and had issues associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. This makes me ponder our mental health system once again. The stigma and costs associated with getting help for a mental disorder can be limiting to those who need it most. How do we make the health of our minds as important as the health of our bodies? And most importantly, how do we make mental health more affordable?

I have no answers today. Not a one. And I’m having some problem finding any kind of gratitude here, except nobody I know was killed. But that’s not much. We’ve got a real problem here. It’s big and it’s wide. And it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

gratitude-a-thon day 224: the slow process of remembering you don’t have little kids

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Yup, here’s what Jake’s room looked like for the past year. (Photo credits to the fabulous Rania Matar http://www.raniamatar.com).

It’s been 9 days since Jake left. Aside from the day he left, when I thought I was dying of a rare and incurable brain disease, I have been fine. What with the texts and FaceTime, I’ve been feeling connected to him and really surpisingly ok. But then yesterday, out of the gosh darn blue, I got a pang and then a pain, and then the beginnings of another life threatening case of sad. I missed my guy. It was like it suddenly felt a little too real for me. He wasn’t here anymore and I didn’t just feel his absence, I felt the passage of time. Tick, tick, tick. How long until Ally goes to college and Peter, Riley and moi are here to live our lives sans kids?

Yesterday our town unveiled the new Teen Center. There was a big open house party, and everybody was invited. This place is a few blocks from my house and it is absolutely phenomenal. From the totally hip design, focusing on this old garage’s interior metal beams and brick, this place has everything, from a bowling alley, basketball court, cafe, recording studio, workout room, computer room and pool table. It made me wish Jake had the chance to use it. Also yesterday, our old grammar school, also a few blocks from my house, had an event that honestly, we never went to, even when the kids were young, but reminded me that we were no longer part of a community that once took up so much of my time and love

When your kids leave, a certain part of your life ends. A new KIndle chapter begins. I guess I haven’t adjusted to that yet. I’m not used to the new format. I haven’t rebooted yet. But I will. It isn’t as easy as it felt last week, when I was filled with the daily experiences of my kid in Spain, and feeling a sense that I too was there.  Maybe it will be slow, and it’ll force me to plod through the feelings of loss and change more carefully.  I hope the feelings of gain will rise up and win out before too long. And I will adjust to having  Jake’s room clean. Because at least that’s one thing that’s changed for the better.

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And here’s Jake’s room now. AFTER I CLEANED IT. I don’t remember the last time you could see the floor. That’s a good thing, right?

gratittude-a-thon day 223: max coronado’s generosity

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I always think about if I were super duper rich, I’d be spreading the wealth all over the damn place. I would just sprinkle financial help around like fairy dust and do some seriously good things in unexpected ways. It’s one of my daydreams. I mean the people in the audience who got cars on Oprah, when everybody got cars, were excited, but not half as excited as Oprah.

Anyway, I love this lottery winner’s response to the clerk who sold him the lottery ticket. Way to pay it forward, Max.

gratitude-a-thon day 221: small bites friday

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Twitter files for IPO. #thiscouldbebig!

I don’t know what it is about seeing animals that mimic human behavior, but it always makes my day.

More proof that this Pope is someone I’d like to have drinks with.

Hmmm, imagine getting a check-up and deciding to leave a tip.

Stop, you’re making me laugh.

Member how cool Dianna Ross was? Enjoy.

Maybe I will wear one of these confections to write the gratitude-a-thon one day. God, I love  Marchesa.

What she said.

There was nothing good about 9/11, but here are some very good things that happened afterward.

Last night’s New England Home  5Under40 Awards were awesome. I love my clients: Back Bay Shutter Company, ThreadWayne Towle Master Finishing & Restoration.

Jake is having a blast and adores Barcelona, and I have not died because he’s gone! #THANKGODANDSTEVEJOBSFORTECHNOLOGY.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 220: I’m not the president

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What if it was you? What if it was your family?

The Syrian thing. It’s terrifying. While I am vehemently against war, my moral center is shouting, “YOU CAN’T JUST STAND BY AND LET THIS HAPPEN.” Then I get occupied by something else, like my son leaving for a foreign country to go to school, or work, or what the hell to make for dinner, and I forget about Syria. And then my moral center starts yapping again, “BUT YOU DON’T WANT TO GET INTO ANOTHER WAR, FOR GOD SAKES. WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE THE BOSS OF EVERYBODY.” My moral center is quite chatty– sometimes in a very annoying way that reminds me of when my kids were three and it was bedtime.

I will not pretend to be a foreign policy intellectual, because I am not. But what I am is a girl with a good, solid, (and very verbal) moral center, who believes that we need to be careful here. I don’t know what the answer is. I go back and forth. I do know that it’s hard to do nothing when people who are just like you and me, who have big dreams, and love their kids, and friends, and have favorite foods and books and movies, are attacked in their own country with a deadly chemical. Just think about that for a minute. Consider that you’re out with your ten best friends and your country attacks you with chemicals. What would it be like to know that other countries watched the horrific video feed and didn’t do anything in response. Isn’t that like watching a bully in the school yard and turning your head? Isn’t that what we teach our kids not to do?

I don’t know. I hope diplomacy can trump war. But I don’t know what’ right here. And I’m grateful not to be President Obama right now. Because this is a tough one. This is a really tough one.