gratitude-a-thon day 219: that day

9 11 Poster by CoSZ

It was one of those beautiful September days that makes you realize that summer in New England really is three months long and that if we didn’t have school, we could still be at the beach. Blue, blue skies, a perfect temperature. My friend Toni (yes, I have a friend that’s also named Toni. Yes, I know that’s absurd.) and I were walking around the reservoir discussing the fact that she’d just lost her job. I got into my car and listened to my voicemail. I had NPR on in the background with 1/4 of an ear listening to it. I called Peter to tell him he needed to pick up one of the kids on some certain day, because my voicemail had just informed me of an appointment I had not written down. (When would I fully make the successful switch from a paper date book to my phone?) The words “fire” and “Pentagon” made their way into my brain during the conversation, only a small part of what the radio was saying. I asked Peter nonchalantly if something had happened at the Pentagon, as I walked into the house and switched on the tv and he went to the New York Times online. Tower one was on fire. I didn’t quite understand what my eyes were seeing. Wow, was that a misguided plane that had bumped into one of the Twin Towers, I wondered. And then, Peter said, no, it was intentional. And then the tower fell. And then I panicked and then I cried. And then I asked Peter if we should get the kids from school. And then he said he’d be right home on his bike. And then I called my friend Marie to see what to do with the kids and she’d called the school and they said they were safest staying put. And then I called my cousin Bob because my cousin Ed was in the building. He worked in one of the Towers. It was busy. Then I called my friend Deb, who lived in Manhattan and it was also busy. I just kept calling and calling both numbers frantically. I finally got Deb. She and her partner were safe and she asked me to call another  friend to tell them she was safe because the lines were crazy. Then I finally got my cousin Bob and he told me Ed was safe. And then I cried, glued to the tv, realizing this was a terrorist act, realizing we’d been attacked on our own soil, realizing it might not be over yet.

We picked up the kids at school. Jake wondered why we weren’t letting him go to the after school program. We told him little and dragged him to Ally’s first day of ballet class at Ms. Mutch’s ballet school. There, shocked parents sat watching four year old’s in pink tights and blue leotards walk around a mirrored room. It was the last bit of innocence I’d feel for a while.

I was shaken and stirred by 9/11 and so was my husband. We felt rocked to the core in a way that neither of us expected. The world was ok. And then it wasn’t.

Grateful that my cousins Ed, who saw too much, made it out alive that day. I will never forget that day a decade ago. Never look at the sky or a tall building the same way again. Never. Forget. It.

gratitude-a-thon day 218: FaceTime

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I used to watch Elroy with envy.

When I was little I fantasized about two things a lot. I daydreamed of flying–not in a plane, but in my body. I imagined the feeling of soaring around above the clouds, or maybe just below them, and voyeuristically watching the world’s activities,  while the freedom of flying through the air unaided engulged me.  That scenario seemed to me to be the ultimate in amazing. I sort of think my desire to be a bird, might have come from watching “The Jetsons” animated sitcom, which was about a family living in the year 2062.  I watched extra closely when they flew around with jet packs on their back, speeding from one place to another. While a funny little tv show is what probably propelled my obsession with flying,  it has been something I’ve  held onto, well, if I”m honest until this day.

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obviousy, this is not me, but just look at that technology!

The second thing I lusted after was having a phone in which you could see the people you were talking to. I’m not sure why this felt so important, but I think it might have stemmed from the fact that both my sisters were in college and living on their own by the time I was 8. One of them went off to Europe after college, and I missed her tremendously, waiting by the mailbox for the thin wispy paper her information-filled letters would be on. Then she lived in Hawaii and California, so pictures sent in an envelope would be the only way I could see her face. My other sister was a traveler too, visiting faraway lands, and living  in New Haven, Seattle, California, New York and London. Again, the only way I could lay my eyes on her face was to see her in person, during a brief and too infrequent trip home, or hope for a photo via traditional mail.

So, while the flying thing does not appear to be on the horizon, although I have had one really good dream about it that gave me the exact feeling I had always imagined it would, seeing someone on the phone via the brilliance of Steve Jobs and FaceTime just allowed me to be awakened by my son’s face in his hew home in Barcelona! I even got to meet his Host Mom!

Although I imagined it would be all sorts of fun when I was little to see someone on the phone, it was a bajillion times better. Me gustaría expresar mi gratitud.

gratitude-a-thon day 217: he’s gone, but he’s there

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This is before we left for the airport. I laid on the couch reading. Look at my eyes, the flu thing was already starting to settle in. And look at Riley! He cuddled up to me, because I think he sensed my uneasiness.

I have been thinking about Jake leaving for college for like three years. I often try to prepare for stuff in advance so it doesn’t hit me upside the head and put me into an emotional coma like thing. So, it’s odd to be square in the middle of what I have been dreading. He left on Saturday with enough clothing to move to Barcelona for ten years, a hair cut, and all of our love. We left him in the check-in line at Logan, because he wanted us to “just go”, probably so that I didn’t put on some show that might require law enforcement. When we did walk away, I felt sick. Literally like I’d come down with some horrible flu. I felt weak and nauseas and achey. Ally and I sobbed silently, behind sunglasses, while Peter chattered. We got into the car and Peter began to drive and then pulled awkwardly and quite fast into a bunch of other cars, with me yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” His answer was a simple, “I don’t want to drive while I’m crying.”

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Peter and Jake in line at baggage check-in. Not pictured: Ally and I hiding behind sunglasses, Niagara Falls coming from our eyes.

We arrived home and barely thought I would make the stairs, because I felt so weak. Ally asked Peter to go for a burrito. They left and I came inside, clutched the dog and wailed like an Italian widow (one of the old ones who really knows how to belt it out). Riley looked puzzled, but concerned. There is nothing quite like a friend who has fur when you’re sad. I dropped into bed and slept, certain I had come down with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Ebola.

My friends called and demanded we go out for drinks and dinner to my favorite restaurant. I didn’t want to. But I relented and they picked us up in their old Scout convertible without seat belts and I let the air sink into my skin. Sam the bartender, an Italian Margarita, an order of Bolognese and things seemed somehow better. I read when I got home, watched Project Runway (I know Kate is talented, but she’s so annoying, isn’t she?) and heard Ally having another sob fest with Peter. I tried to soothe her, tell her it was ok, but of course she had not had an Italian Margarita to give her a false sense of security.

He called at 1 p.m. to tell us he’d arrived safely! Just like when Jake would wake us in the night when he was a baby, Peter fell back to sleep in five miliseconds, while I tossed and turned wondering how Jake could condense his 19 suitcases to make the next leg of his trip easier. But score, he was there and he was safe.

Yesterday, Ally and I decided the only way to deal with such a loss was to shop. I gave myself free reign to buy anything I wanted, but I bought nothing more than a salad. When I can’t shop, you know I’m not myself. Ally was not, unfortunately affected. I felt disoriented, but Ally and I decided to just break it down, and talk about how he would be home in just three months.

He called in the late afternoon to report on his first day (he was there a day before the group, so he was alone). He did some exploring and sounded excited, but told us he felt so weird. We assured him that was normal and he’d probably feel better when the group arrived the next day. But all in all, he was fine. He was just fine. And basically, I was just fine, too. We’d all be fine. And Jake would come back with stories to tell. This is how life is supposed to be. You teach them to fly. And when they do, you’re sad. But I see the beauty too. I’ll try to focus on that today.

gratitude-a-thon day 14: small bites friday

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Not that I’m actually up that late, but if I were, I’d watch this. Liz Lemon must be jealous.

Yes. I have experienced this first hand. It’s a truly beautiful thing. Aloha.

I am reading “Where’d You Go Bernadette” by Maria Semple. And I am laughing my head off. Strap on the Depends Undergarments for this one.

Lice does not live on bedding, or clothing. You can only get it from head-to-head physical contact. Glad I did all that laundry.

Tonight we are going to say goodbye to Jake at Barcelona Wine Bar before he goes to the real Barcelona tomorrow. I love a good theme dinner. I can taste the tears and the Chicken Al Pimientos now.

Leave it to The Onion to decide who goes to Syria.

Exactly what I’m talking about. I’m going to try this next time, although Brookline parking cops aren’t that reasonable.

“The Thing About Dogs” (http://vimeo.com/71336599)  is perfect. Just like dogs.

An inventive and all too-true song.

I figure I’m going to need a couple of these from crying after I leave Jake at the airport.

gratitude-a-thon day 213: knowing what looks good on you and what doesn’t

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C’mon Khloe, I know Lamar is said to be on drugs, but you’d have to be too, if you think your hair looks good.

I’m sorry, but the whole ombre hair thing just looks like you dyed your hair, it grew out and you either decided you were cuter as the old color, or you realize you’d rather spend the “dyeing your hair money” on jewelry. Either way, we are talking one sad and ugly situation. And while I’m at it, and discussing hair that makes me want to wear eye patches, what about the ladies who dye their hair to rid themselves of gray, but don’t do it for like months past when they should, and then walk around like a skunk. Is there a woman on the planet who thinks anybody can take her seriously with a white stripe that often looks like balding, running down the middle of her head? Ladies, let’s be kind to our audience.

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Dye your hair or don’t dye your hair. Commit, will ya.

And as long as I’m on a bit of a rant here, and trying to distract myself from the fact that Jake leaves in two days, shouldn’t we be keeping our lipstick on our actual lips? Do not color outside the lines, here kids. This is not the place. And what about this fall’s thigh high boot trend? These aren’t just over the knee, which I”m good with, these are clear up to your thigh. I don’t know, I’m thinking I don’t just need a sweater to go with these, I also need a stripper pole.

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Yeah, um no.

And guess what, velvet’s back in. I just fainted. Velvet just reminds me of a 10 year old girl on Christmas with a black velvet dress and her hair half up and half down with a big ribbon in it. There are mary janes and missing teeth. I will not be wearing velvet this fall, thanks. Apparently green is in, as long as it’s not Celtics-green, I might be able to fold this into the mix. Leather is big. Which I love and already wear a lot of. But also in, are all white ensembles. I love this look, but I always feel as big as Frosty the Snowman in an all white situation.

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Me in all white. I don’t think so.

I mean, white doesn’t have the same slimming effect as black, now does it. Plaid is also trending this fall. I just hear bag pipes when I see plaid. And then I start wondering if those guys have underwear under their skirts or not. Lastly, there is the oversized winter coat. Once again, I’m not buying it. I am all about warmth in the winter, but if my husband, two kids and dog can fit inside my coat with me, I’m not thinking it’s that flattering. But one of my long time faves, turtlenecks, are back. Applause. I love the simplicity. I love the ease. I, like Nora Ephron, love the way it hides my neck. And so it goes, another season of trends that will be passé in four months. Pick and choose wisely. Trends are only as good as they look on you. I’m grateful I know what will likely work for me, and what won’t (and those looking at me are lucky, too).

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I’ll be rocking the turtleneck this winter. Just like Nora.

gratitude-a-thon day 212: i can wear what i want

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Here’s what you typcially think of when you think of women in Iran. But things are changing.

I’m not Muslim. But if I was, I have to tell you, I would not be excited about the whole hijab situation. I like my hair. My face needs it. I don’t look good in a hat, or a scarf, or even a hairband. My nose looks even bigger than it already is when I have a head covering on. Believe me, I see the benefits–since it would save me money on haircuts and hair dye, and give me all that time I spend trying to tame my locks to do something more rewarding. But let’s be honest, no matter how much I believed in something, I am almost sure that I would not be able to abide by wearing something more than like a really nice piece of jewelry to show my devotion. I feel this same way about the ultra devout Orthodox tradition of women shaving their heads and wearing wigs. Forget it. I respect and admire anyone’s religious beliefs (as long as they don’t hurt others), but when it comes to having to toy with my looks, I believe in a good blow dryer and some subtle make-up.

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Designers are paying attention and creating really beautiful hijabs that are anything but drab.

This is a great story about how women are wearing hijabs, but expressing themselves, too. Designers are finally bringing some style to the party. I mean, no reason to be so boring, right? Would you feel comfortable with an enforced dress code to fly your religious flag? Call me shallow, but I’m grateful I don’t have to think about it when I’m getting dressed. It’s hard enough to prevent people from shrieking when they see me, as it is!

gratitude-a-thon day 211: diana nyad’s cojones

long distance swimmer Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad. Has 64 ever looked better?

The resolve that this kick-ass woman had to make it from Cuba to Florida in jelly fish-infested water, without a shark cage,  is nothing short of miraculous. This was a 53 hour journey. I couldn’t even stay awake to watch, let alone swim.

She said, “It was difficult to breathe, but my resolve on this thing was deep. I just had this attitude of: it doesn’t matter what it is, find a way.” It doesn’t matter what it is, find a way. Those seems like some good words to live by.

As we prepare for Jake to leave for his first semester of college in Barcelona this Saturday, a much less physically demanding task than a 103 mile swim, (although the cleaning of his room is probably close), I will keep those words front and center in my mind and be grateful that there’s no risk a shark will bite me in the ass as I wave goodbye at the airport.

gratitude-a-thon day 210: the laborers

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Here’s to those who labor. At jobs they love and jobs they hate. Here’s to the people who get up when the rest of the world is sleeping to make sure the donuts are made, or the streets are clean, or the trash isn’t hanging out of the bin. Here’s to those who keep the world running, doing menial jobs and making way too little money to live on. Here’s to you. Today’s your day. Seems like you should get a little bit of every day. Thanks.