gratitude-a-thon day 369: on the rocks: the ice bucket challenge

 

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Technology is great, until it’s not. i can’t figure out why I can’t post my ice bucket challenge, but if you want to hear my best horror movie scream, go to my Facebook page: Toni Friedman Lansbury

I know you’ve seen like, a zillion ALS ice bucket channel videos, but this one explains why it’s not just a funny moment on your Facebook feed. This disease is as bad a disease as exists. This guy and his story is worth watching. Open the freezer and fill your bucket. Most importantly, get out your check book and send your donation here.

gratitude-a-thon day 368: the goodbye, redux

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I love this boy. He is really just a great guy.

We brought Jake to the airport last night with bags that weighed more than our house. I’ll be mailing the overflow in something like a shipping container, by the looks of what he left in his room. We watched him fly off to his sophomore year at USC. I was the one walking through Logan sobbing, the one sniffling all the way home on Storrow Drive, the one who cried herself to sleep last night. God, California is far away.

I thought this year’s goodbye would be a snap, easy peasy, a no cry zone. But it was just the opposite. I felt sort of prepared last summer, having pre-grieved for a good solid year. This summer smacked me in the face like Cher hit Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck. And I tried to “snap out of it,” but I couldn’t help myself from being overwhelmed with sadness about how much I will miss my boy, over the fact that I can’t hop in the car and go have lunch with him, or that him coming home for a weekend is sort of impossible, not to mention costly.

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A goodbye dinner at Del Frisco’s on the water.

It was sort of a wonky summer for him. A foot in L.A. and a foot in the protective cove of his spectacularly messy room made for some confusion over where home really is. I remember the first summer I came home after college. I chose never to do it again, so I understood his mixed feelings. You assess your old friends, and your new friends, where you’ve been and where you’re going. I know he loves us madly. And I know he loves Boston, but he’s doing the hard work of growing up and separating and becoming an independent person.

Interestingly, after longing for his arrival home, it took a transitional period to get used to him back in the house. After a few days, I was counting the days until he left. Two weeks later, I had acclimated, and made a note for next time: remember there’s an adjustment period. It’s real life, not a fairy tale.

I am going to have to be nice to myself today. Jake and I have a really special relationship in which a nod of the head is all we need to know where the other is coming from. Plus he is really sweet. Plus I just plain like him. But this is the work these days: adjusting to the coming and going. This is the work. I can tell you, it’s not a minimum wage job.

 

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Riley captures my mood perfectly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 367: one grieving mother to another

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I might be protesting in Missouri if I lived there. This is a modern day civil rights throwback. You don’t just get to shoot a kid SIX TIMES. What the hell is happening? Here’s a condolence letter from Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina  Fulton, to Michael Brown’s parents. It’s a bit of loveliness in the belly of so much violence. The intense loss these two families have suffered feels bigger than this page.

The goings on in Ferguson are being widely covered and publicized. And i can’t help but think it’s the right thing. This is crazy town on steroids, yes, but to let this go would be wrong. I’m not in favor of the violence, but I do stand with the people who won’t let this lie. It shouldn’t. It can’t. And I hope it will not.

gratitude-a-thon day 366: the rational side

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I’m doing what I do. It’s starting. The sneaky fear is creeping in on little puppy paws.

“WHAT IF OUR FOOT SURGERY DOESN’T WORK? WE’RE RISKING A LOT. WE SHOULDN’T HAVE IT.” the pessimistic, terrified, part of me says, all scared, and a little snide and judge-y.

“Well, it’s time we take that risk, because it’s bothering us a lot, in terms of, you know living, so lets just try to be positive, and hope for the best,” my smart and rationale side says back, with cool confidence.

“YEAH, BUT WHAT IF OUR DOCTOR FUCKS UP AND WE’RE CONFINED TO A LIFE OF EXTRA WIDE NEW BALANCE SNEAKERS, OR WORSE YET, THEIR BOXES, AND WE HAVE PAIN ALL THE TIME, AND WE CAN’T WALK? THEN WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?”

“I think that’s unlikely. I believe that we have to do this, however scary and unpleasant, and that it will very likely make us better, and I hear New Balance has some really well designed boxes,” I rationally lob back to my insecure miserable side.

“WELL, I THINK WE’RE ASKING FOR IT. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW IS BETTER THAN THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW. I THINK WE’RE MAKING A MISTAKE. AND IF YOU MUST KNOW, WE’RE SCARED.”

“Well, thank God you’re not running the show, because I think you’re an ass hat.”

My rationale side usually wins out in these sorts of conversations, but these two are constantly fighting. They’re worse than my kids. This surgery can’t come quickly enough. #23daysandcounting.

gratitude-a-thon day 366: the rational side

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I’m doing what I do. It’s starting. The sneaky fear is creeping in on little puppy paws.

“WHAT IF OUR FOOT SURGERY DOESN’T WORK? WE’RE RISKING A LOT. WE SHOULDN’T HAVE IT.” the pessimistic, terrified, part of me says, all scared, and a little snide and judge-y.

“Well, it’s time we take that risk, because it’s bothering us a lot, in terms of, you know living, so lets just try to be positive, and hope for the best,” my smart and rationale side says back, with cool confidence.

“YEAH, BUT WHAT IF OUR DOCTOR FUCKS UP AND WE’RE CONFINED TO A LIFE OF EXTRA WIDE NEW BALANCE SNEAKERS, OR WORSE YET, THEIR BOXES, AND WE HAVE PAIN ALL THE TIME, AND WE CAN’T WALK? THEN WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?”

“I think that’s unlikely. I believe that we have to do this, however scary and unpleasant, and that it will very likely make us better, and I hear New Balance has some really well designed boxes,” I rationally lob back to my insecure miserable side.

“WELL, I THINK WE’RE ASKING FOR IT. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW IS BETTER THAN THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW. I THINK WE’RE MAKING A MISTAKE. AND IF YOU MUST KNOW, WE’RE SCARED.”

“Well, thank God you’re not running the show, because I think you’re an ass hat.”

My rationale side usually wins out in these sorts of conversations, but these two are constantly fighting. They’re worse than my kids. This surgery can’t come quickly enough. #23daysandcounting.

gratitude-a-thon day 361: an icon

Lauren Bacall

God, she was BEAUTIFUL. Those hooded eyelids–an engraved invitation for a long romp in bed. Her pouty mouth, her glamorous Hollywood hair, an air of sophistication and intelligence surrounded her like an angel’s halo. She roared class.

And that voice. A low, sultry mix of dignified self-confidence mixed with subtle seduction. She had a commanding kind of beauty, and a charisma that was more powerful than an army.

Ah, Lauren, thanks for all those movies, all those voice-overs. We all know how to whistle now, but nobody will ever know how to do it like you.

gratitude-a-thon day 360: addiction and depression, not funny at all

484f7c1c7f0bdfb9d9b6df4ba348f68fe4ad96daYesterday I talked about addiction and depression, and about how all the funniest people have them (trend alert: addiction and depression are the new black). But the truth is there is really nothing funny about either of them, although humor is so frequently used to deal with both. I know for myself, the daughter of an alcoholic, I have used humor all my life to minimize the self-doubt, fear, and anxiety my father bequeathed me. He’s not getting a thank you note for that inheritance, I can tell you.

So many people I’ve known who suffer from addiction and depression are highly intelligent, hilarious, and extremely compassionate. They are, in fact, some of the best, brightest, most interesting and creative people I’ve known. Underneath my dad’s alcoholism was a super smart,  curious, and funny man. He was quirky, liberal-minded, and open. He loved theater and music and good books, and worshipped at the alter of the kitchen, and the New York Times (You can read more about him here).

But seeing anything good about him was, and still is hard for me, because I still have so much anger toward his unacknowledged addiction to alcohol, his associated depression. I have never forgiven him for not getting help, for not admitting that he had a problem. If he had tried and failed, I believe I would feel differently, but the pain he left in his wake, the havoc he wreaked, by looking at us like we were the crazy ones when we pleaded with him to get help, made all of us suffer in a profound, long lasting way. And that is something that I can’t seem to forgive, no matter how much money I spend on therapy (and let’s just talk about how many summer houses I have provide the therapeutic world).

I don’t like carrying anger around, like a hump on a camel’s back. I don’t want to continue lugging this part of my life with me everywhere I go. And yet, I can’t leave it unguarded for even a minute’s time, as if protecting it is somehow proving something, allowing my dad to get off free of responsibility. I know, I know, if he had cancer, would I feel the same?

As I watch celebrities publicly lose their lives because they are addicts, or suffer from depression, or bonus points: suffer from both, hear all the social media chatter, read and watch endless accounts of what addiction does to a person, I find interestingly that I can have compassion, and feel genuine sadness for John Belushi, Chris Farley, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Williams. I can see the tortured souls in them. I can see how it’s not a choice, but a sickness. But when it comes to my own father, there is no softening, nothing remotely like forgiveness that I can muster. He remains separate in my mind. A criminal of sorts. I give him no get out of jail card for his illness, no understanding. All I have is anger at the amount of baggage he left his family to check at every pit stop on the road of life. “Porter! Over here. I need some help.”

I wonder how many more celebrities I will watch lose their battles. I wonder how many more will tug at my heart, before I understand that my dad was one of them.