I’m not an athlete. Sure, I work out, used to run, was a cheerleader (I can’t even), bike, swim, give Jane Fonda a run for her leg warmers, but I don’t have that competitive thing, that inner drive that makes you want to desecrate an opponent, makes you block out the rest of the world and just go the fuck for it.
But my dauaghter Ally does. My daugher Ally is an athlete. A competitor. A “beast”, as one of her earliest coaches used to describe her.
She has been playing soccer since she was five, showing promise even then. She worked her way up from the town rec. league to the travel team, to the bottom of a prestigious club team, and to its highest peak–the elite team, making her high school varsity team her freshman year. Along the way, there were bumps, and brusises, but mostly of her ego, as she learned more and more about how to play the game of soccer. Her commitment has always been total, her spirit, always undaunted, her road rage, full on, watch out, taking names and kicking ass.
To play at this level you have to give up a lot. Parties, weekends away, vacation weeks off, sleepovers, sometimes even friends who just don’t get it. She did all that, sometimes with a grunt, but mostly with a smile. She loved the ball. She loved the field. She loved the game.
In the past two years, her skills, body, and psyche merged and she became a force, the kind of soccer player coaches always knew she could be, the kind of player Ally always wanted to be. And so it was, her senior year, that she was killing it, and it looked as though she would have one of those high school fantasy seasons, with lots of pats on the back and accolades.
Until Friday night, when at a big game played under the lights at B.U.’s Nickerson Field, when going in for her third goal of the game, she was tripped, and went down.
And stayed down.
And just like that, her season ended. Her high school season ended right there. On that field, with a big crowd chanting her name. “Ally, Ally, Ally.”
She has the injury every soccer player fears (and every parent has nightmares about), a torn ACL. This is the season-ending KIng of injuries, as it requires surgery and a 6-8 month recovery, depending on who you talk to. This is the bitch.
And that’s where we are, three consults in quick succession this week, with surgeons who will cut into her virgin knee and aim to make things right. We went from our biggest worry being how to get to playoffs to how to get through rehab.
But see, I’m the one who’s crying, not Ally. Because Ally is an athlete. She is not looking forward to surgery, but she is looking forward to coming back, stronger than ever. Because Ally is an athlete. And everything that means.
As my friend (shout out to Mike Walsh) said, “I’ve got pope-partum depression.”
And while I absolutely LOVED having the pope covered in such a 24/7 way (I was half expecting to see him covered while he slept), because he is the most humanitarian of people, one of the best things about having him visit was that he took the spotlight off of the UN-POPE, Donald Trump.
Here’s a lovely clip of him on 60 Minutes last night explaining how he will deport immigrants.
I guess I use gratitude as a form of religion (I would love for the Pope to be the head dude, because really this guy deserves his own breakaway faith and plus he has really good head gear).
I reach for gratitude everyday, but especially when I am overwhelmed, or sad, or feeling in general that life is treating me like the pile of poop emoji.
The act of focusing on what you have vs. what you don’t have is a winning strategy. You just keep turning things on their ear.
I am grinding it out right now, trying to make a bad situation bearable. I am focusing on fuzzy blankets, and tonight’s blood moon, and true friends. I am focusing on the quiet within myself that is powerful as a locomotive. I am resourceful when it comes to finding a path through the heavily wooded, muddy, cold. It’s never about how you fall, it’s only about how you get up.
This is what we do in the church of gratitude. We look for the good, we focus on the good. We live in the good, the silver linings. This is where we pray.
“ATTENTION BODILY FLUIDS, ATTENTION ALL BODILY FLUIDS.
PLEASE REPORT TO THE NASAL AREA. THERE IS A HEAD COLD IN PROGRESS AND WE NEED ALL PERSONNEL.
THE FIRST RESPONDERS SHOULD GO IN THE DIRECTION OF THE THROAT. COAT THAT THING LIKE A BACKYARD SLIP ‘N SLIDE. WE NEED TO TRY AND MAKE THIS THICK SO SHE CAN HARDLY SWALLOW. GROUP TWO, AND I DO HOPE YOU CAN ALL FIT IN THERE TOGETHER, YOU NEED TO BLOW ON HER THROAT EVER SO GENTLY.
BE A FEATHER.
I REPEAT, BE A FEATHER.
WHEN YOU HEAR HER COUGHING LIKE A DOG BARKING AT THE MAILMAN, MARRIED TO A BAD CASE OF EMPHYSEMA , YOU’LL KNOW YOU’VE DONE YOUR JOB.
NEXT GROUP, PLEASE REPORT TO THE NASAL PASSAGES. THIS IS NOT CALIFORNIA, SO MAKE LIKE A FAUCET. SHE SHOULD HAVE A STEADY STREAM JUST DRIPPING ON OUT OF THERE. THINK NIAGRA FALLS ON STEROIDS.
NAVY SEALS, HEAD RIGHT INTO THE SINUSES. GET DOWN IN THERE, DO THE WHIP, DO THE NAE NAE, WHOOP IT UP. WE’RE LOOKING FOR A HEADACHE AS ALL ENCOMPASSING AS DONALD TRUMP’S STUPIDITY.
ALL OTHER PERSONNEL, YOU LAZY BASTARDS, DO WHAT YOU CAN TO MAKE HER UNCOMFORTABLE FROM HEAD TO TOE. LOW BACK IS A WEAKNESS, SO GO THERE. HIT THE NECK. HAMSTRINGS. WHATEVER YOU SLACKERS GOT, GIVE IT.
THIS IS A FULL ON HEAD COLD, WITH POTENTIAL FOR SINUS INFECTION, AND WHO KNOWS, EVEN FLU. LET’S DO THIS THING.”
A few weeks ago I started taking a beginning yoga class. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. My body, not so much.
Well, that’s not really true. True is that I have a not so good back, and that not so good back has been shepherded along by a trainer for the last eight years. She got to know my body so well that I stopped trying to figure out on my own what might set off my intricate spinal system, and just trusted that she would know. And she did. And she made me stronger and taught me that I could actually do things I didn’t think I would ever do again. She was the most awesome. Until she moved to California. Yup, another one bites the dust to the West Coast (as if it’s not enough that my boy is there). That goddamn state is killing me.
Back to yoga. The trainer who I’ll call Colleen, (because that’s her name!) did a mixture of yoga and core work, and weight training with me. But see I never really thought the yoga was real yoga. But then I got to this class, and I saw that it was indeed real yoga. And that I was actually familiar with many of the moves already.
Only a funny thing happened.
I understood them in a sort of different way. This is a theme for me. Maybe for everyone, if you turn on your awareness. It depends on where you stand, physically and mentally as to how a piece of information reaches you, affects you, makes you act. This class and wonderful teacher is explaining to us all what to do to strike a pose, and my little pea brain, is being able to hear it in a way that allows my body to dig deep into its Colleenmemoryarea and create it in a deeper more aware way. I’m not explaining this well at all, but let’s just say, I can do this shit, in a more thoughtful way and I’m loving it!
Today I have a head cold that will prevent me from going to my class, but not from trying to do my little tree pose (which I’ve been practicing (I’ve decided to be a Magnolia), on my own.
You knew I’d be here for the red carpet wrap up. And let me say, some of those dresses should have stayed wrapped up and never seen on a person. Jeesh. Let’s go, giddy up.
The worst, because, well, it’s just more fun.
Big Bird, I mean Heidi Klum
If this were a submission on Project Runway, Zac Posen and Nina Garcia would be in full on cardiac arrest. Tim Gunn would be sweating like a menopausal woman, and the ultimate conclusion would be a, “I’m sorry Heidi, but you’re out. Alvederzane.” I can’t even. Really, don’t ask me to, because I can’t.
Joanna Newsome, or NOsome
So, look at the top part without the underskirt. If you look at it just right, it looks like a chair. Is that a floral bib? Did she forget to take that off after she ate lobster? Does she have another nicer dress underneath? Is there a train? She should get on that train and ride it on outta there.
Danielle Brook, bad Taystee.
I love this actress, but not this dress. It’s not the shape, it’s the colors. It’s like a three ring circus. Verdict: jail time. No parole.
Christina Hendricks (NEVER GETS IT RIGHT.)
This is a gorgeous woman. Can nobody in the world give her a dress that makes her look young and beautiful? Everytime she hits the carpet, it seems to me her boobs dictate the whole show. Is there no way to dress those bad girls that allow her to look young and fresh? Matronly, mumsy, I’m going to go ahead and say it, OLD. I’m mad, man.
Sophia Vergara, Va Va Doom
Sophia always gets it right, and let’s face it, when you look like she does, it’s hard to get it wrong, but this dress did not fit in the boob area. It was too big, and it sort of folded. Fit is everything, girl. And this did not.
Jamie Alexander, Do not adjust your tv, this is just ugly
I really hated this dress. It’s like when the tv goes all haywire. Not good colors together. Not pretty. Not fun. Not sexy. Not on my watch.
Taryn Manning, Morticia called and she wants her dress back stat.
I do not want to be reminded of the year Angelina brought her brother and kissed him on the lips and all hell broke loose, and that’s what this dress makes me think of (that and the matriarch of the Adams fam). Did I mention, I hate this?
Lauren PreponDERANCE OF UGLINESS
This is such a beautiful dress. Great color, perfect fit, especially in the tata area, it was all just so good, but then on her way out of the house, because it was 106 degrees, she thought, “I might get cold, I should grab a bullfighter’s shrug,” and boom, prisoner of awful.
Clare Danes and the no good, very bad hair day
I like this dress. It’s cool, modern, and edgy. But really, that hair is like the worst thing I’ve maybe ever seen at an awards show. I actually thought they might freeze the whole red carpet thing, like they do on that Discover commercial, when the woman loses her card, and have a hair team come out and re-do it. I can’t even BELIEVE it. Still. Still. Ask me tomorrow, and I will still not believe it.
Judith (did not) Light (it up)
Judith Light is 66. Her body is red hot, but this work blouse seems to be from back in the day, when she worked in advertising on “Who’s the Boss.” I’m into the skirt, and I like her make-up, but the blouse is a big, fat, unfashionable disconnect.
Zoe Ka(n’t) zan
My eyes hurt. I am dizzy. I am getting drowsy, I am getting drowsy, oooops, and I fell asleep. It’s a candy striper who can hypnotize you.
And on to the best.
Sarah Hyland High
She hit the carpet early, and I kept waiting for someone to beat out this look, but nobody did. This dress was sublime. The simplicity and lines were heaven. The straps were something I’ve never seen. Super cool. Great hair, perfect makeup. She might play dumb on Modern Family, but she’s got in going on in real life.
Julianne Hough scored
First of all, I think Julianne Hough, judge on Dancing with the Stars, and incredible dancer herself, can do no wrong, because she is just beyond in the beauty category. But I think this dress is really fabulous. Love the hair, too. She gets a 10 in my book.
Padma Lak(ed nothing)shmi
On tv this dress looked like it was a size too small, but still, it won me over. That color is undeniable, and the shape of the dress is just gorgeous, not to mention the fabric. Love this. Red lip perfection, too.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus should be president
This woman always, always, always does it just right. Simple lines, perfect fit (doesn’t hurt that her body is fucking amazing), Want to marry the gorgeous earrings and bracelet. You can’t trump this.
Taraji Henson KILLED
The hair, swingy and shiny, the shoes, the makeup, the dress. All of it was so damn right on. She would look good in a pile of dirt, but I really thought she hit it out of Hollywood.
Ann Chlumsky, Flower girl
What you have to know about me, is that I LOVE A FLOWER. I think this dress is adorable. I love her hair. I’m in. She should be vice prez to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ prez of fashion.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is at the ball
The red lip was wrong, but I LOVED THIS DRESS. The cut, that woweeee purple. The back was heaven, too. no “honourable” mention here, she’s the main attraction.
Kiernan Shipka(‘s boat came in)
On anybody else, in a store, or the pages of Vogue, this would not work for me, but on this girl, with that hair, at that age, it’s just adorable. She is so good at being fashionable and age appropriate. Fashion icon in the making.
Regina KIng (of couture)
Not a great in a picture, but in real life (I mean on tv) it was just lovely. Low back, simple, great earrings. BEE-U-TI-FUL.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Is it special? Have I seen it before? Yes, and yes. But I love it. And I love Jamie Lee for being so good with her age, and just rocking the whole older woman thing. Lust worthy bracelet, too.
It’s soft outside. There is a light rain. I am making The Life Changing Loaf of Bread for my friend Katie’s Memorial gathering (I’ve written about her here, here and here). We ate the bread together the last time I saw her. It is a year that she has been gone. A year since she took her life. A year since all those who loved her have had to adjust to a Katie-less world, have been forced to try and understand, digest, process what feels utterly unprocessable.
My friend Beth’s son Nicky told her there should be some other word that’s not “suicide” for people like Katie who take their lives. I understood what that meant without explanation. He understood that she didn’t want to leave, she had to leave. Because when you had a life like Katie’s, a French bakery of goodies all lined up so perfectly, with the sweetest aroma wafting through it, you would never leave on a whim, there would have to be a fire. A fire that surrounded you everyday of every year. A fire that would make escape your only choice. It’s not because you want to leave, IT’S BECAUSE THE FLAMES ARE TOO HOT.
Yeah, mental illness is one red hot mother fucker.
I think of her when the sky is dappled pink. I think of her when I see a great hat, a drool-worthy necklace. I daydream about what other amazing things she might have accomplished had she let the flames keep licking at her as she tried to armor herself from the unbearable temperature. Every time I see a sunflower, every time I hear another story about mental illness, I see that gleaming smile, those twinkly eyes. And I understand more how hard it was to stay in the kitchen with all that heat.
I have so much gratitude to have been in the orbit of the kind of brilliance and beauty that was Katie. Her being, her essence, her power stays with me, like a hearty bowl of oatmeal, a scar the doctor promises will fade but never does.
Today we celebrate what each of us has lost and found and kept. Together we let one another know that we’ll always remember that girl. We will not say those words to fill the air, we’ll say them because we feel them, we live them. We will always remember. Because really, how could we ever forget the streak of light, the epic force, the complex and stunningly beautiful shimmer that was Katherine McQuaid Toig.