Joseph H. Biden Jr., left, offers words of encouragement to his bedridden son, Beau, before Bidden was sworn in as the United States Senator from Delaware in ceremonies in Wilmington hospital on Jan. 5, 1973. Biden’s other son, Hunter, talks with Robert Hunter, Biden’s father-in-law. Beau is still in traction from an auto accident on Dec. 18, in which the Senator’s wife and daughter were killed. (AP Photo/Brian Horton)
DENVER – AUGUST 27: U.S. Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) (L) hugs his son Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, during day three of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at the Pepsi Center August 27, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be officially be nominated as the Democratic candidate for U.S. president on the last day of the four-day convention. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Vice President Joe Biden has already lived through enough tragedy for a couple of lifetimes. Can you give a guy a break?
In 1972, a tractor trailer plowed into his wife’s car, killing her and their 13 month old baby daughter. His two sons, Beau and Hunter were injured, but survived. But now Beau has sadly succumbed to brain cancer, at the age of 46.
There are people who say that you don’t get more than you can handle. I always hate those people. Who wants to handle heart crushing, soul smoldering events, unfair, dirty tricks of cells and chance. Nobody is who.
When bad things happen, we’re forced to dig down into the center of our core, not for answers, but for strength, for the will that will drive us to continue getting up morning after morning to face what it is fate has planned for us. Sure, we are in charge of the trips to the grocery store, how we spend our time, our pursuits, what we give, who we love, but the rest of this show is not ours to call. Things happen that are beyond what we can imagine. We are not driving the bus, so much as deciding how we will sit on those uncomfortable seats.
This past weekend, my sister told me she might be drowning in old, unlabeled photographs. I am there trying to catch my breath, right next to her, and maybe a lot of you are too, those of you who did not grow up on convenient-to-store digital photography. The truth is, I have a whole closet full of real life photos (and then truthfully, I have another closet with more real life photos, more than I can recount here, more than I want to admit to, more than I might ever get to in this particular life).
What to do? Seriously, I mean, without quitting your job? Well, first thing to do is start. So, this weekend my sister and I began sorting her life in photos. We had some fun while we were doing it too. Here are some tips for you if you too, have been taken over by your Kodachrome.
1. Do it with a partner. DO NOT TRY THIS BY YOURSELF, unless you don’t have A.D.D., or you are Martha Stewart, why then, knock yourself out.
2. Do not allow yourself to go through every photo with an accompanying story, unless you have like, the rest of your life to sort photos.
3. Hydrate. This process can be a long one. (Wine is hydration.)
4. Do not steal your partner’s photos without telling them (Even if you have unspeakable hair in one of them, or have never looked better in another).
5. Sort by decade, not be day. (Can you even imagine how long that would take?) If you’re wondering if someone could do this for you, the answer is yes, there are loads of places. But it’s sort of expensive. For instance, at Dijifi, they charge 59¢ a pic. I have THOUSANDS OF PHOTOS. You do the math.
6. Get ready to scan yourself. Old family photos are the money shot here. Give future generations the ability to make fun of relatives they have never met. Plus if you have a genealogy geek in your midst, you will make their life a whole lot easier. Get those pics on the computer.
7. Laugh. At the styles, your grandmother sitting in a chair in the snow in a full on fur coat, the time you were in a play and wore only hair as clothing, at your littler self, your awkward phase, and the myriad of boys that have marched through your life.
8. Keep one variation of a shot. If you’re like me, I used to take a roll to get one good picture. Fahgetaboutit, you just need to keep one. Hard as it may be, throw out the others.
9. Eat. This is hard work. You must get proper nutrition. Braised lamb, highly recommended.
10. This is a long term project, so pat yourself on the back for your progress, and take a picture of you and your partner. This is a memory you don’t want to forget.
It really does start with nobody is dead. I mean, the grateful thing, I mean when something shitty happens, you have to assess and think about what’s really important, and as Dmitri, the emergency locksmith who came to change the locks on my house yesterday, on account of my house keys had been stolen along with my bag, said in response to my memorial day weekend crime, when I said that nobody was dead, “That’s a good thing–1,000%”
I’m always fascinated by the chance encounters you have, that really make you pause. Dmitri was one of them. Desperate for a break this weekend, in an endless stream of all you have to do when your bag, with your wallet in it, is stolen, Dmitiri was like a piece of crusty warm bread with a fat slab of melting butter on it. He was kind, and he made me laugh. What more is there? When I began telling him my story, he asked, alarmed, if my green card was also stolen, but I told him I was a citizen (but it did make me realize how bad that would probably be to have to deal with). He works seven days a week as a locksmith. He’s Russian, and when I commented on working so much, he said, in his thick and classic Russian accent, “There is no other choice.” Of course, he has a choice as to his demeanor. And it was great. What a nice guy.
When, at the end of replacing my locks, I had to pay him, he told me that his company didn’t accept checks. Of course, the reason I was having my locks changed to start with was because of the stolen bag which left me with no access to money, no credit cards, ONLY CHECKS. Dmitri called his boss to ask, under the circumstances, if they’d accept a check, saying that he’d take my check, put it in his personal account and then pay the company, but they said no, they would have to check with the even bigger boss, and call us back. I mean, here’s Dmitiri, who is willing to take my check, and be the one to get screwed if I am trying to pull one over on the locksmith company, and the boss won’t even let him do that. Russian words were flying, and my man Dmititri was getting heated. We sat in the kitchen waiting for the phone to ring. I learned he lived in Providence, his girlfriend was in medical school, he’d been here for 10 years. We both kept saying, “What do they think the alternative is here, to take out the locks?” Dmitri kept assuring me, “I will not take out the locks, 1,000%” (“1,000” was obviously Dmitri’s phrase of the moment).
The boss called again, more angry Russian words. When 15 minutes went by, I asked for the boss’s number and called, explaining my dilemma. My bag was stolen, my credit cards, debit card, my husband was away, I had nothing but a check, he could call the Essex Police to corroborate my story (I was suddenly in an episode of Brookline CSI). After my explanation, IN WHICH I COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MUCH MORE CLEAR ABOUT THE FACT THAT I HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT A CHECK AND MY PASSPORT, he said, “But do you have a credit card?” Swear to God.
That little exchange reminded me of one of my favorite movie clips ever:
Anyway, Mr. Lock called me back and told me that they don’t normally take checks, but under the circumstances…..And that was it. I practically wanted to hug Dmitri, but I shook his hand instead. He was just the human being awesomeness I needed. It was a reminder that people are good, as I believe in my soul (except for the people who took my bag, who are not good, but evil, or desperate, or some combination of the two, and for whom I feel sorry, instead of mad at). Vodka shots all around (Russian vodka, of course), served with lamb.
Gratitude……Gratitude……All I can think of is how angry and depleted I feel. Gratitude…..Gratitude…..C’mon, I know you’re in there somewhere. Show yourself, already. Don’t make me do all the work, I am not in the mood.
Yesterday, gratitude was all over the place. My friend Leah, who used to be my roommate back in the day, when i lived on Newbury Street, and I, went to Crane’s Beach. It was absolute heaven, despite the fact that it was pretty cold, and we ultimately got sand stormed right out of there. But do not fear, because Woodman’s was near, and Leah is all about the lobster roll.
We stopped at Russell Orchard on the way to the beach. I love this place. If you go, get the cider donuts. YOU HAVE TO.
The animals were glorying in the sunshine.
There were babies everywhere.
I didn’t realize I’d be crying like one in a few hours.
So, off we drove to the famed Woodman’s, where Leah got herself a big fat lobster roll, and a plate of fries, and we headed outside to sit at a sunny picnic table (I did not get my usual Woodman’s order on account of my icky stomach problems, and ate Whole Foods chicken that I’d brought from home, with some fruit.) I salivated at the site of the lobsters. I sang an Ode to the fried scallops, and pledged allegiance to the United States of Onion rings, but I was still feeling grateful to be with my friend nonetheless, on the first weekend of official summer, and to be laughing our silly heads off, like we always do when we hang out.
We drove home, yakking away. Emptying out the car of our beachy belongings is when I first realized my pocket book was not in the car. Panic stuck in my throat. My eyes began to bulge like Marty Feldman. I must have left my bag in the only two places that I had it, the bathroom at Woodman’s, or at that picnic table. Someone must have found it, Leah assured me. Frantically, I called, explained the situation, hoping the woman would say that yes, someone had just brought it to the counter. But instead she said she’d check and call me back. When no call came, Leah called them back, as I tried not to freak the fuck out (it was a losing battle). It was then I realized my car keys, or rather Peter’s car keys (Peter and Ally took my car to a soccer tournament in New Jersey) were in my bag (I had parked at her house in Newton and she had driven). And now for the big finish: they were the only set.
I called the Essex police, told them what happened, in case anybody might bring the bag into the police station. They had an officer contact me, who said he’d go and look around, but he never called me back, so I assume he didn’t find anything but a long line of people waiting to eat fried food.
I can’t really believe it, but someone actually stole my pocketbook at Woodman’s, where I have stuffing myself silly, post beach, for the last 30 years.
I spent the night, alternately crying like a non-compliant two year old who does not want to eat her mashed peas, and laughing with Leah, who had used her AAA (gifted yearly by her dad, big Will, who just passed a few months ago) to get someone to come and make a key for the car. The poor girl, and awesomely amazing friend, spent her entire night on me. We drank wine together over the phone, while she tried to smack some sense and gratitude into me. “You are not dying, you can get a new bag, although that one was really cute.”
It was really cute. Everybody in the world liked my fringe-y little black suede bag. Only $14.95, I found it a year and a half ago, when fringe was on the rise, while taking Ally shopping at Brandi Melville. A style loss, but not bad on the money front, however, my Louis Vuitton wallet at $675 and my prescription glasses for $450, and my license, credit cards, and gift cards, totalling about $350, with about $250 in cash, and three lipsticks in the area of $100, NOT TO MENTION THE CAR KEYS, will top me out at like a $1,400 loss. Not a day at the beach.
It’s not snowing.
My dog was here to hug me when I got home.
As Leah said, nobody is dead.
Everything is replaceable (except my pride)
Leah, who I have known for 27 years is a really, really great friend. OH, THERE IT IS, there is the gratitude. Friends are everything, cute bags are a dime a dozen.