gratitude-a-thon day 412: at least more kids weren’t killed (what a sad gratitude)

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When I was a kid, it was assassinations. In line at the First National, our favorite grocery store check out lady, Stella, a small woman with a foot of sprayed black hair on her head told us that President Kennedy had been killed. I was four and I watched my mom cry. At nine, I had my tonsils out and was in a lot of pain. In the middle of the night, my dad woke me up and carried me downstairs to the tv and said, “Robert Kennedy was shot, this is history.” Earlier that year, in April, Martin Luther King was also assassinated, stripping the country of a man who changed it. Three in a row.

Now it’s school shootings. There have been 74 since Sandy Hook, a town that I grew up next door to. What are we doing? What’s going on? How can this have happened 74 times since that massacre in Newtown? I want to stand in the street today and scream that we have to save our kids. I feel like I’m watching some lame movie and yelling from the audience, “Just change the gun laws. Awww, this is such a stupid plot, why isn’t anybody changing the gun laws?”

Our kids are going to school and not coming home. And not because they’re kissing in the back seat of a car, or smoking in the woods. No, it’s much worse than that. School has historically been a place that was safe. But that’s changed. And somehow I feel, we’re all just letting it happen. Are we getting desensitized to the sound bite, the “breaking news” that “there’s been another school shooting.”

This is clearly a multi dimensional issue made up of gun laws and mental health access, but it’s also something else. Something that I wonder about. What is it about this time in our history that has made kids act out in this particular way? Certainly there were students that were mentally unbalanced and had access to guns when I was a kid, who didn’t put them in their back packs with their bologna sandwiches, and plans to shoot up the student council. Why? What’s different? Is it increased social pressure, from the smiling faces on social media? Is it the violence of video games? Is it the shoot ’em up movies Hollywood is producing? Is it the isolation that can come by way of a generation glued to their computers? Those are all things that were not present in my childhood. And so I wonder, is this combination of things that have tipped troubled kids into acting out by killing their classmates?

I don’t have any answers. Except one. We have to do what we can to make gun laws stricter TODAY. Before this happens again. And before we are no longer moved when it does.

gratitude-a-thon day 412: ah, it’s all over

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When it’s all done, when real life can get back to being real life, it’s kinda nice. I’ve been working for months on that prom party for 400 that I posted a few days ago, and then had some graduations to attend, of  kids I am very close to, and now Monday morning, the world is back to regular. When I have a lot to do like the last few months, it’s like I breath in, and can’t let my breath back out until it’s all finished. I do believe I let out a two month big breath this morning. And ah, it felt amazing. No more worrying about making the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s come alive in three gyms. No more cards to make, no more dredging my computer for pictures, pressing my brain for memories and meaningful things that I want to say to the graduates. Graduation season 2014 is officially history. And even though I didn’t have a cap and gown-er this year, I gotta say, it was exhausting. File under “Congratulations, but I’m taking a nap.”

gratitude-a-thon day 411: dear parents, i have some advice for you

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Jake last year, graduating.
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Jake at the end of the semester, having survived a three month pledge to become a frat boy.

Dear parents of about to be high school graduates:

I have a little advice for you.

I was you last year on this day. It was sunny and beautiful just like it is today. You probably have a range of complex emotions, some which may even be associated with the fact that you have family here for the blessed event and can’t stand them. But go forth my friends, this day is a big deal. On to my advice.

1. If you’re going to Brookline’s ceremony, bring sunscreen, a hat, a full box of tissues, water, and if you can swing it, an air conditioner. Also if you’re shooting in actual film, bring more than you think you need, because although you know you’ll take a lot of pictures, you will take more than that.

2. Today is the beginning of the change. Yes, we women go through the change in our 50’s, but this is the late adolescent change, and you should be prepared. No matter how lovely, sweet and adorable your kid is, they’re just about to board the “summer of detachment” bus. This bus travels through the summer months trying to drive away from you. It acts up and acts out, but this is just in preparation to drive to its new destination. This is normal. This does not mean your kid doesn’t love you. It’s just the opposite, your kid loves you so much, it’s hard for him/her to leave you, but they have to, on account of it’s part of life. And they’re trying to figure out a way to do it. Hence the bus. Hang in there, they’ll be back soon enough.

3. Expect to be weepy and happy and crazy and mad a lot this summer, as you too, try and figure out this next stage and what it means for your family. If this is the last kid to fly the coop, leaving the nest empty, you have a whole new world ahead of you. This takes some getting used to, but just remember, you have a whole bunch of new found freedom. I suggest swearing a lot and walking around the house naked, you know things you couldn’t do when your kids were in the house. Go out all night. Leave the kitchen dirty. Eat cereal for dinner. Celebrate the stuff you can do now. You’ll miss having your kids in the house, but have fun with in your new gig, there’s a lot to enjoy. If you still have kids at home, this is a whole other story. It will take some time to adjust to the new family dynamic. It took us several months, but it was great once we did, and it’s allowed us  to get to know our daughter in a whole new way.

4. On that college drop off. It’s sad. No way around it. That little baby, that you’ve known all your life, who’s endless and disgustingly smelly diapers you have changed, is about to take his/her first step to independence. You’ll be fragile and excited. This is what you’ve been preparing them for. You done good, mom and dad. Let yourself cry.

5. They will be back. Physically and emotionally. And they will be different, as their college experience will have changed them. Jake is not the same as he was when he left, because he learned a lot and while things are going well this summer, they are different. In a good way. But I will never quite get over the massive and constant transitions we parents have to experience with our kids. But you only have to look to this to know you will survive, because the truth is, you have done this before, in fact, you’ve done it all their lives. You watched a tiny baby who could do nothing but cry, drink and dirty diapers turn into a walker, talker, menace to a clean house. You have gone through the transition of leaving them at pre-school, with guilt in your heart. You have watched them master each grade, sport, mean friends and nice ones. You’ve had the “changing body talk”, the “sex talk”, the “don’t do drugs talk”. You have seen them excel, find themselves a little at a time, fall in love, navigate the complicated and wonderful big world. You’ve been going with the flow and adjusting to their constantly changing little selves since they were born. And you did it. This is no different. They just aren’t in your house while they’re doing it, and you are out a whole bunch of money. But my point is, that you will survive, flourish even. I promise. I did. Happy graduation day. Don’t forget those tissues.

gratitude-a-thon day 408: the after the prom party is over!

Hey, here’s why I haven’t been gratituding (I know this isn’t a word, but maybe it should be), for the last several days, I designed and implemented (I’ve been working on this for months and months, but this was the three decorating-a-thon, where we work a zillion hours to fill three gyms and an entryway) a super fun giant party for the 400 + seniors on prom night, to keep them safe and not drinking and driving, which is what I think I did on my prom night–no judging–didn’t you? Aside from all the decorations, each room gets filled with all sorts of cool stuff like a life sized twister, blow up obstacle course, airbrush tattoos, food galore, a DJ, a prize table featuring the big prize of a Mac Book Air, and loads of other stuff, too. It was exhausting, and I am bone weary. Here’s a tour of a 50’s ,60’s, 70’s, 80’s themed Blast from the Past After the Prom Party.

 

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Yup, a life size rubik’s cube made by a perfectionistic architect. sort of crazy great, right?
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I found the BLAS letters at Tj Maxx and decided I had to make this sign, even though this is not something I know how to do. I got some manly help and ta da!
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Our head custodian lent us a juke box and Elvis came back for the event.
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Jackie Robinson showed up, too.
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Even Marilyn came back from the dead.
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Each year this space gets a something something with the senior’s names. This year it was real life 45’s from the 50’s.
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Che and the Beatles.
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The Supremes and Temptations bring on the sixties.
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Fifty shades of flowers. These took eons to paint.
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Rally signs and Woodstock.
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Hendrix!
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The V dub has the administration inside.
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Welcome to the 80’s.
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Like a Virgin.
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The 80’s room awaits the caricature artists to arrive.
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Trivia lined the walls.
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You know when you’re at the Christmas Tree Shop at 8:00 am telling the check out woman that you’re going to use the pool noodles you’re buying to make a peace sign and she responds by saying “you can so do that.” that you’re probably spending a little too much time with the crafty crowd.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 407: a totally stunning dress

amfAR's 21st Cinema Against AIDS Gala, Presented By WORLDVIEW, BOLD FILMS, And BVLGARI: Red Carpet Arrivals

 

I love to play the game “What would I wear on the red carpet?” Because you know, I’m so frequently on one. Anyway, this is like maybe one of the best, most gorgeous dresses I have ever seen, and is at the top of my list for future red carpet events. Rarely have I had such a reaction to a piece of clothing, but it’s so beautifully draped and the fabric is so fragile looking, yet bold and soft at the same time, that I actually get a visceral reaction of total calm when I look at this thing. The simplicity of the way this thing lays on the body is just astoundingly perfect. Wow. Just wow.