gratitude-a-thon day 644: list it


I always have a list going. Don’t you? The list has everything from my work projects, to “get toilet paper” (which obviously can and should trump my work projects). In true old school fashion, I make my list on paper, while also putting it in my phone, with a back-up list written on my brain. I can see it. And I can see it growing, and when it grows too long, and threatens to come out my nose, I get a little overwhelmed.

Why is it that the things we have to do can seem like big, bad wolves when there become a pack of them?

And why is it the more you have to do, the more you get done? I can postpone doing something for a week, if I don’t have a lot going on, but do 22 things in a day, when I have a long and winding list pending. Ah, human nature. Will we ever understand ourselves?

I am currently trying to click some of the things off my list that seem to carry over from week to week. Those things you keep putting on the list, but never get around to, because quite frankly they’re as exciting to do as having a molar extracted without novocaine. Anyway, I am going to get to those things this summer. I have a little plan that involves  paring down to an easier list-making life. It sounds on the one hand like having to sit next to Ann Coulter on two seater plane to Australia, but on the other hand it seems like it could make me feel born again.

Every day is a new day. We get to choose what we do with it. Today, I tackle the list.

gratitude-a-thon day 643: professor bulger


Hey, who would have ever thought that 1) If you wrote to Whitey Bulger, he’d answer. 2) That he’d actually say something kind and smart.

Three 17-year-old juniors at Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville were doing a history project for a competition and wanted to do something a little unconventional. So they wrote to Whitey. And he wrote back!

And interestingly, he was contrite about his infamy, and told them to hit up veterans at Walter Reed, if they wanted to know about leadership. Someone has lost their edge.

But good for Whitey, for offering a teaching moment. And now pigs will fly out of my ear.

gratitude-a-thon day 643: i knew i liked her


OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 26:  Abby Wambach #20 of the United States acknowledges the crowd after defeating China 1-0 in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Quarter Final match at Lansdowne Stadium on June 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON – JUNE 26: Abby Wambach #20 of the United States acknowledges the crowd after defeating China 1-0 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Quarter Final match at Lansdowne Stadium on June 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)

Gratitude-a-thon day 641: The rainbow connection, GLORY HALLELUJAH

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I didn’t think it would happen. I thought a lot of states would pass it, but I didn’t think that the highest court in the nation would would ever say, “I do.” But they did. Yesterday, our country became a better place. The LGBT community was affirmed, and can now have all the legal rights of the heterosexual community when it comes to marriage. The feeling I had when I heard this news was the same feeling I would have if you told me I’d won the freaking lottery and I could buy all the jewelry in the world (God, I’m shallow). It seemed a a new world, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I wanted to put out the American flag (and I never want to put out the American flag).

I have to acknowledge my super smart cousin, Gabriel Rotello, who has worked throughout his life to help make a day like yesterday happen. Here’s to you, Gabe!


Interestingly, it was my dad’s 100th birthday. Now, if you follow this blog, you know I had a complex and not great relationship with my dad, but here’s the thing. He was a liberal’s liberal, Art Friedman. He believed in fairness and equality for all. He taught me to accept everybody, that prejudice of any kind was wrong. And so, I believe my dad would be giddy that  gay marriage became legal in every state of the union the day he turned 100. He might say, “It took long enough,” with a smirk, and his glasses cockeyed on his face. He would think it was the best birthday gift.

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My dad. He would have loved what happened yesterday, on his 100th.

There has been so much strife in the past year, too many killings, too much racist violence. And I know that this law doesn’t help or address that. But this is a long time in coming, and it makes us better. It makes every one of us better. And it makes me think maybe we can do better in the race relations department.

I didn’t think it would happen. But because it did, it makes it feel possible that black and white relations might someday become a rainbow, too. Love won. Let’s increase the size of the heart to include everyone of every color.

I saw the most unbelievable rainbow I have ever seen just a few weeks ago. Maybe it was a hint at what would happen. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed, just like the events of June 26, 2015.

gratitude-a-thon day 640: parenting, or be a chameleon


You must be a chameleon. If you want to be a parent, you have to be a chameleon.

You have to blend in, change with the scenery, figure out how to survive by going with the flow.

Every time Jake leaves, a small section of my heart goes walking out the door with him. Damn, I miss that guy. And L.A. is too far away to jump in the car for a visit. And six hours on a plane does not allow for a casual lunch. Change your color.


The more I parent, the more I learn–when to speak, and when to button my lips. I’ve learned that nagging never works, and that a shopping trip can uncover revelations that might otherwise stay under the covers. I have learned that growing up these days is harder and more complicated, and that if you don’t photograph it, it didn’t happen. I’ve come to understand that the fight for independence can always be abandoned by a plea from the couch for breakfast, a ride, a trip to Bloomingdale’s. I now know how complex birth order is, how it can define and redefine who you are. And I know, have learned, understand that kids love their parents madly, even when they pretend they don’t.

Change your spots, step into the background, make believe you’re not listening. Don’t shriek when an experience surprises you, unless it has to do with firearms. Get your point across in casual ways, leave a note in the eggs if you have to, but don’t say it more than once, or believe me, IT WILL NOT REGISTER. It will be discarded like the chicken you forgot to cook that’s smelling up your whole refrigerator. I have learned the hard way.

Make sure to impart the importance of laughter. And do it together. It’s like Krazy Glue. Family sees the best and worst, and is allowed to tell you what they think, and kiss and hug you when they want. It is required to have one another’s back 24/7, 365 days a year. With family, you are allowed to cry, or get mad, or be wildly and insanely happy, pissy, or gloat-y. But sometimes you just have to be a chameleon.

I am still learning. I still have miles of road to learn. But if you want to understand love, be a chameleon. Be a parent.


gratitude-a-thon day 639: seeing the light


There was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL sky last night. After crazy tornado alerts all afternoon, it was like a little kid had gotten all up in the pink and yellow and blue paint and just gone to town. The sky colored everything soft and made me wonder what it would be like to live everyday life in that kind of tenderness.

Funny how sometimes you’re waiting for disaster, and the opposite happens. Grace. Gratitude to the artist.

gratitude-a-thon day 638: the second summer: the summer of independence (and like really bad hair)

Hair does not make the man. I know this. But when your kid comes home looking like he is starring in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, you want to get all up in his business.

But you can’t.

Jake is 20, and can have whatever kind of hair he wants. He could have dreadlocks, dye it purple, go Jheri curl, and I couldn’t do a thing about it. Nor should I. But, between you and me, well, and him, well, and everybody else who saw him and asked me why I was not making him cut his hair, I really hated the way he looked.

But this is the part when I don’t really get a say. This is the age when I can no longer influence his choices in hair, or clothes. He is young enough to ask me to make him breakfast, but old enough to tell me where to get off when I tell him he looks like a caveman married to that really bad mug shot of Nick Nolte.


This is the second summer after college. This is the summer of “I’m going to do what I want.” This is the summer we aren’t taking our traditional vacation, which we have taken for 29 years, because both our kids have plans, and Jake is working in L.A.

Nonetheless, someone got a haircut yesterday. Just sayin’.

gratitude-a-thon day 636: melissa mccarthy is a certified movie star


Do you want to laugh? Do you want to get a good laugh? Then call in sick, do not pass go, do not collect $200 and head to the movie Spy right now. I am telling you that I laughed for the full length of the movie. Melissa McCarthy killed it. Plus, while it’s a sort of an absurd movie, she grounds it in a reality that’s just enough to keep you believing. I admit to thinking it might have a giggle or two in it, but it was an all out festival of guffaws.

I am also buoyed by the fact that this woman, who is by all assessments is not a stick thin model type was the lead, and is pulling in audiences in big numbers. This is hopeful.

Get dressed, brush your teeth if you feel like it (I mean who is going to be at a Monday matinee), get in the car and hit the early show. I’m telling you, it’s worth every second of your time.

saditude-a-thon day 634: we’re all we have


We are our only hope.

And yet, we  can’t get our shit together.

For all the “We have a black president,” banter, we also seem to be on a killing spree of black boys and men across the country. The Charleston Church shooting is an abysmal reminder that racism lives lavishly right here in the U.S. of A. Shame on us. For all the progress we’ve made, we still seem to be walking up the down escalator. Martin Luther King must be weeping  today.


A glimmer of hope, in the form of forgiveness. Many of the family members who lost  loved ones in the shooting looked the shooter in the eye yesterday while he was being arraigned, and forgave him.

Forgiveness. Is this part of the way out of the maze? When forgiveness, love and humanity beat out ego?


And when will we face the simple truth that guns are far too easy to get, that background checks are essential? We are shooting ourselves in the foot not to think this is part of our demise.


When is it that we will begin to truly believe that mental illness is a disease just like cancer, and not a lack of willpower, or a character defect, and start normalizing it so that the stigma disappears, and people reach out for help.

We’re all we have. And yet….