gratitude-a-thon day 348: fuck you, cancer

A handsome, young Peter in the navy. He was really cute.

My heart feels like a bowling ball this morning. It’s overcast out there and cool, but ugly. It will likely rain, and that’s good, because that’s how I feel. My cousin Peter passed away in his sleep last night. I saw him only three weeks ago, when he traveled up to the Cape to spend some time with family. We knew he was very sick, and none of us could quite stand the fact that he, at a healthy, vibrant 74 had been hit with lung cancer to begin with. He was still working, ironically as a hospice nurse, when he was diagnosed. it seemed cruel and silly for the roles to turn on him. And yet, they had.

Peter had so much sweetness. He was always good to me, from the earliest times. I remember when he was in the navy, he went to Rome. And he brought me back a plate with a Christmas tree on it. I loved that plate like it was a limb. I used it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I still can’t quite believe that he lugged a breakable item home for me, his littlest cousin, all the way from Italy. It has always seemed to me improbably adorable.

Nancy and Peter, married almost five decades.

Talk about a good marriage. Peter had one of the best marriages, if not the best marriage, of anybody I have ever met. Married for 49 years, his wife Nancy is beautiful, smart, and patient. To have a conversation with her is to feel heard. To listen to her southern accent is to be calmed. An only child, son, cousin, friend, and dad to an awesome brood of three, a grandfather to nine, he relished family connection.

The only good thing about Uncle Louie’s funeral is that I got to spend some good time with Peter. It would be the last time I would see him healthy.
Riley knows good people. He took to Peter instantly.
Happy to have this photo with Jake and Peter.

And so as I sit here and cry, I will think of Peter joining my mom and my Uncle Louie at the all-you-can-eat pasta bar in the sky. It’s the only way I can make this loss ok.

gratitude-a-thon day 347: don’t plan it, just do it


Ally went to a concert last night, and Peter had to bring her and her friends, and pick her up when it was over, so we couldn’t really make plans. It turned out that Jake wasn’t going out until late (like when I’d usually already be in bed for 3 hours), and we had a window, so we spontaneously went out to dinner with him. We went to one of our old favorites–Harvest. The fact that this night just sort of happened was part of what made it so nice. The food was, as it always is, exceptional. I had a piece of beef tenderloin shipped in from heaven. I almost licked the plate (it was embarrassing). The weather was cool, and though there wasn’t a table on the patio, we were right next to it with the door open, so almost as good. It was one of those nights I will recall in the middle of winter, and maybe even for the rest of my life. Note to self: be more spontaneous.

gratitude-a-thon day 346: you have cellulite: shelter in place

I don’t have a perfect body. What do you want me to do, wear my North Face to the beach? (By the way, I look like I have on like, size 18 sneakers in this picture, don’t I?)


I thought this blog post was interesting and it made me pause, especially since I’m getting ready to go lay myself on the sand. This woman finds a photo her kids took of her lying on a beach in a rather artistic pose (I think she was just sleeping). All she saw was the dimply thighs and fat, and all they saw was the beauty. She saw her outside, and they saw her inside.

Yesterday, I was making a plan to go to the beach with a friend. We were meeting at a certain place, and she described the color of her towel, chair, and cooler. She asked me to do the same. I said, “I’ll be the one in the black bathing suit with the fat stomach.” She said, “You, me, and 400 other women.”

We’re so hard on ourselves. They’re killing each other in the Middle East like they’re playing paint ball, planes are dropping out of the sky, and I’m worrying about my fat stomach (not to mention the rest of my middle aged body). Why? Because I’m programmed to miss my younger, firmer self. But this is just what my 55 looks like. Should I shelter in place because I have cellulite?

I don’t know. It’s silly, right? Sometimes my daughter will say, “Why do you even care what you look like, you’re married?” Looking good is not about being married or not married, Ally. It’s about you and how you feel about yourself, aging, and a whole slew of other stuff. My fitness level, and body are not what they used to be, but dress me up right and you’d never know. The thing is, I know. And that’s for me to accept and put in its proper place. You do your best to stay healthy and then you call it. You wear the kindness in your heart on the outside to shield the bits that jiggle in a bathing suit.

Who knows what everyone else will see when they look at me laying on my towel today (this woman’s kids thought she was ravishing). The truth is, nobody will likely even notice me. And even if they do secretly shame me for daring to appear half naked on a beach, who cares? Who the fuck cares? If they knew who I was inside, they might see my less than perfect body in a better light, like the blogger’s children. I’m going to look at myself like that today, and see if I don’t look better.

gratitude-a-thon day 345: small bites friday


The weather is super spectacular. I want to marry it. That is all.

I am not happy about the Algerian plane crash, but I am happy to know it crashed and didn’t just DISA-FUCKING-PEAR like Malaysia fight MH370 (where is that plane).

I could eat a whole watermelon. This is not a joke. I am like that hotdog guy who always wins the eating contest. Here are some interesting new ways to eat them, as if I needed a new way.

I gotta say that little Prince George is one cute little dude.

Love Michelle Obama. Here she is on working mom’s. I had one of those part time gigs where I thought I was gaming the system, but really, the agency was getting five days of work from me, and paying me for the three I was “officially” working.

I could have told you this about dogs.  #rileypracticallysitsonmyheadwhenipetotherpooches.

Lush eyebrows are so back in. Wish I still had my high school unibrow.

Countdown to bunion decapitation surgery: 49 days.


gratitude-a-thon day 344: lucky to be awake at any hour

You know how they say the early bird catches the worm, well in my neighborhood, there must be slim pickings worm-wise, because there are some feathered friends out there who must think they’re roosters and get up at the freaking crack of dawn. Today it was 5:30. And guess who, besides the worm community, they also woke up? NOT HAPPY. In fact, REALLY PISSED. I thought maybe I could cruise my phone for news and then go back to sleep (As if, but actually sometimes I can do this). And then I read this statement made by parents Anthony Maslin and Marite Norris, who just lost their three kids and Norris’ dad, on that Malaysian plane that was just shot down (as opposed to the one that apparently disappeared into thin air), and suddenly, I felt abso-FUCKING-lutely lucky to be awake at 5:30 with my kids safely sleeping in their pig sty rooms, that I almost went outside and chirped with those stereophonic chickadees. Here’s what they wrote (my deepest love and prayers, for healing go out to them, along with the utmost respect for this statement ):



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gratitude-a-thon day 342: the fall of a shining star

Aaron Swartz. I believe this guy could have used his incredible curiosity, phenomenal intellect, and mega-capability for the good of all of us.

Jeesh I love a documentary. And the other night I found one that totally captivated me. It’s called The Internet’s Own Boy. And it’s the story of Aaron Swartz, a brilliant, prodigy, activist who is arrested for essentially downloading too many Journals online and faces like a billion charges and loads of jail time. It happened right here in Boston, apparently while I was in a some sort of coma , because I don’t remembered a thing about it. It’s an important story. And a terribly tragic one. I give it four stars, and yet, I wish it was never made. Watch it and you’ll understand why.