gratitude-a-thon day 724: when you’re proud and sad and your mascara runs

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Her senior moment (so different from my senior moments!)

God, I hate endings.  Beginnings are exciting, and middles are comfortable, but endings suck. Unless it’s like, the ending of winter. The ending of winter is the freaking best. I LOVE THE ENDING OF WINTER.

Yesterday was one of the many endings that you must endure during senior year, which is a festival of goodbye’s and last’s. And I cry at every one of them. And do you think I wear waterproof mascara? No, I do not. Because who doesn’t love that look of crusty black tear stains?

Anyway, yesterday’s goodbye party was for soccer. It was senior day, which as you might have guessed, is to honor the seniors on the team. As if this wasn’t a sad enough day for us, consider that Ally has missed all, but three games this season, due to the fact that she tore her ACL, so you can imagine how difficult this was. Ally took the first ceremonious kick, which made me cry, because then she had to walk off the field, and all I wanted is for her to be able to play. When my husband gets sad, he wants to eat, so immediately he wanted like, a cake, like a six layer, thick buttercream frosting cake that might be slowly spinning around in one of those glass display cases in a really good diner.

Anyway, it was also lovely. And it was really nice to see that this team, who has been plagued with injury, had some fabulous players emerge. There were so many girls who had developed and thrived, since I last saw a game (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t go without Ally playing. It was too hard, so this was my first game in a long while). Anyway, this year, some parents made plastic banners of the seniors, and there was the traditional posters made by players, and speeches, and gifts, and lots of pictures and tears. It was awesome, and awesomely sad.

Check that box, BHS girls varsity soccer, DONE. If there were an emoji crying a river, it would be right here.

The dynamic duo, best pals, like sisters, Ally and Liz.

The dynamic duo, best pals, like sisters, Ally and Liz.

gratitude-a-thon day 723: when you get a deal, (and how to find one)

I love a deal, a bargain, a good buy. I live for a sale, slashed prices, a BOGO.

I grew up in the dressing rooms of Loehmann’s. My mother was also a shopper, and because she had a limited budget, she was the poster child for Loehmann’s, one of the first off-price stores ever born. Some of my earliest memories are of that Westport, CT store, with it’s weird yellow plastic over the front window glass, which at the time, I didn’t understand was to protect the clothing from fading. At first I just ran through the aisles of designer brand clothing, bored. When I was old enough, I found scores of items, dozens of fabulous finds for half the price.

So, it’s no wonder, that I too am a mistress of the mark-down. Yesterday, at TJ Maxx in Newton (I hate to give away my trade secrets, but this is the BEST TJ’s there is, loads of designer stuff all the time. Brookline is abysmal), I hit it big. While perusing the sweaters, I found a cashmere wrap for $199.00. When I came home and googled the brand, I found it on ShopBop for not $299.00. or $399.00, or even $499.00, but FOR $598.00. Five hundred and fucking ninety eight dollars!!!!!! Even my pathetic math skills can see that I saved almost $400.00. You’re clapping for me, right? Because this purchase deserves a standing O., an academy award, a lifetime achievement award. HOLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAA!

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Anyway, I pay full price for lots of stuff, absurd prices when i love something, but why pay more if you don’t have to? Here are my five bargain shopping rules:

  1. If you really want to get great stuff, and great prices, you have to shop a place like TJ Maxx frequently. New merchandise is always rolling in. I go every other week or so.
  2. Don’t just buy it because it’s a deal, buy it because it’what you need or want, and it’s a deal. It’s not a good buy if you’ll never wear it.
  3. Know what you love, and what it costs in the real-priced world. If you aren’t acquainted with the prices at Sak’s, you won’t be able to judge a bonafide bargain.
  4. Get to know a store. I spend my time in three sections at TJ Maxx, and then I leave. Boom. I know where to go, and when to get out of there, so I don’t get a headache and want to vomit (which happens to me when I shop too much. Must be all those dyes and people).
  5. Lastly, when in doubt, buy it. TJ’s has a great return policy. Right now you can return until January. Go home, put it on, see how it looks and feels.

And by the way, If you see me at TJ Maxx, I will not say hello, afterall, you’re my competition! Happy hunting!

gratitude-a-thon day 722: l.a. has a few things the east coast doesn’t have

L.A. is vast. It looks less like a state and more like half the country. You can see for miles, roadway, and then mountains in the distance, and always the omnipresent Hollywood sign looking down on you, reminding you that this is a place equal to the solar system when it comes to shiny stars.

The divide between the very rich and the very poor is everywhere. Even Rodeo Drive, where my husband and I walked from our hotel on Sunday morning to find a homeless man with all his gear camped out in front of the impressively flashy Louis Vuitton Store. Inside, their least expensive item could give this man a fresh start.

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Even Rodeo Drive has a homeless problem.

There are a lot of boobs in the land of lala. A LOT of them. There are also a lot of cars. Those two things seem to be calling cards. That and plastic surgery. It is an decidedly un-New England place.

Still, there is a lot to like about it. And I do. Take the weather, which was a sunny 85 while we were there. And the beach. And the food. We had a birthday brunch for 25 at Bacaro L.A. for Mr. 21, ate at an old school deli in Beverly Hills, called Factor’s Famous Deli, one of the best restaurants my mouth has ever been to called Bestia (I WANT TO EAT HERE EVERYDAY AND NIGHT), and our favorite place in Venice Beach, Gjelina. There are palm trees. There is some pretty freaking awesome shopping.

And there is my son. A frat brother at USC, enjoying every minute of Cali sunshine. This is perhaps the very best part of California: Jake. My boy who has is now officially 21, and has been celebrated and toasted enough to last him until he’s 81.

I am usually crabby when I return from L.A. because I feel like the weather here is so limiting. But yesterday, as we flew into Logan, the fall colors, and sharpness of the ocean, and total un-L.A.-ness of the landscape made me happy to be landing here. On this coast. For now. It also has a lot to offer, although it’s missing that one must-have ingredient: my incredible boy.

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Gjelina. The lamb meatballsssssss.

gratitude-a-thon day 721: happy 21st birthday mr. adorable

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Dear Jake,

You’re 21. You can now drink legally, (as opposed to illegally). No more fake I.D.’s. You can use your own name! So much less to have to remember. You can concentrate on your classes now!

But really, 21 is a milestone. You’re now considered an adult. But I will always consider you a baby. My baby, no matter how old you get. It’s a mom thing.

By now you know the story of how much we wanted you, how long we waited and how hard we worked to have you (some of it was really fun, some of it was really not),

The thing is, you were worth every moment. Because what you’ve brought into my life has been so illuminating, so shockingly simple, and yet so Rubik’s Cube complex. The love is bigger than any dimensional categorization. It’s deeper and richer than any feeling before it or after it. The experience of having children, I hope you’ll one day see, is like asking yourself to give over everything. Everything you have to give, to feel, to teach. It is at once a profound mystery, and a mystical journey that results in the most electrifying, all-encompassing kind of love.

You have always had a special spark. A charisma that charms, an emotional depth that guides, and a sweetness that is pure and authentic. I could never imagine having a son, a boy, since I grew up with sisters, but now I can’t imagine what my life would be like, had I not had you. It would be so much less.

Have I ever mentioned how proud I am of all that you are? I am. I would think you were amazing, even if you weren’t my kid.

My hopes and dreams for you are simple:

  1. Do your best, that’s all you can do. You’ll find that even when you fail, giving your everything always results in an overall happiness.
  2. Be kind and always try and put yourself in other people’s sneakers. Compassion makes the world go round.
  3. Give love, openly and freely. Create relationships of all kinds; they will nurture you and sustain you.
  4. Be real. Be honest. Be who you are deep in your gut.
  5. Be a world citizen. Think of the bigger picture. Do what you can to participate, to respect others and the planet. VOLUNTEER. Find what you love, and give your time.
  6. Travel.
  7. Eat good food.
  8. Exercise.
  9. Fail. It’s the only way to learn. Failing is one of the crooked steps to succeeding.
  10. Be open to everything and everyone. Don’t be afraid. Take risks. Go to bed at night satisfied you’ve taken a gigantic bite out of the world like you’d take a big bite out of a juicy peach.

I love you Mr. 21. So much. Too much for the alphabet. I need more letters.

Happy birthday, Jakey.

Love,

Mommy

gratitude-a-thon day 720: the best job i’ve ever had

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Sometimes I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at this boy. He was such a bundle of adorable.  This suave little dresser (who continues to be a guy who loves clothes) was about nine months old here.

Tomorrow my baby son, the kid who made me a mom, after three years on the infertility roller coaster, located on a fault line, with only Ben & Jerry’s to eat (I guess some people would think that’s an upside, but it was not) will be 21.

No big deal, kids turn 21 all the time. But this is my first time to have a kid turn 21. And MY GOD, it’s kind of something.

Can anybody explain the time continuum to me? I mean, in words I’d understand, without like, quantum physics, or calculus, or  stories of stars that don’t make it to earth for 400 years, but in a way that gives me the ability to get how yesterday morning this kid was a citizen of my uterus, and today he is a college student living La Vida Loca at a university in L.A. (Fight on, USC Trojans)?

That first year was a long ride. You know how when you’re going someplace it’s always longer than when you’re coming home? Well, that’s how it was. I was going in the direction of becoming a parent. This is not easy stuff. It is not one of those really cute Pampers commercials. NO, it is not. I went from a 35 year old advertising copywriter, who loved working, to a stay at home mom, and it was like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, except in the end I didn’t have wings or pretty colors, just exhausted eyes, and a fat stomach. Things were different.  I had tried so hard to conceive the baby, I forgot to think about what it would be like to actually have one in my house EVERYDAY. Not that you could ever, in your kookiest, most bizarre and craziest dreams EVER begin to imagine what it is like for two people to go to the hospital and come home as three. Because it is cray cray, I will tell you right now. Even though people do it all the time, it is still one of the most unimaginable miracles ever.

And a miracle it was, to go from a warrior of infertility to a mom. To hold that bundle of baby, day in and day out, that curious, delicious, absolutely charming boy was everything to me. But there was a learning curve. I had to figure it out. How to nurse (with bleeding nipples) and live on a teeny tiny four minutes of sleep, and give in to the fact that I was no longer just me, or just me and my husband, but me and my husband and a child. Forever more. And that scared me in that first year. As much as I loved that little baby with the gigantic eyes, it scared me as much as if the ghost of Einstein showed up in the living room to explain the whole time situation.

Anyway, I did it, that first year. Somehow, I figured it out, a little here and a ltitle there, and I became a mother, a parent, an over-protective mama bear with a keen instinct to  protect my baby at all costs. Don’t get in my way, don’t even look at my baby cross-eyed or I will end you. That was me. And it’s basically remained me. And I’m thinking this turning 21 thing won’t matter that much to that persona, because as long as I am breathing in air, I wlll fervently love, adore, cherish, and try and protect that little guy. That’s the best job I’ve ever had. Hard won, but the best damn job ever.

gratitude-a-thon day 719: always learning

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Today, when I was walking around the Brookline reservoir, without music, so I could try and quiet my mind and take in my surroundings, I was, of course, amazed by the colors of the trees. Deep burgundy red, bright sunny yellow, A VERY SERIOUS ORANGE, and then a whole bunch of lesser shades, serving as co-stars.

Summer is my thing. I like things that are growing, green, and vibrant, not getting ready to say sayonnara,  Even though the leaves are really walking the runway in couture colors, right before they take a dive to their grassy graves, all super powered, and hallucinogenically bright, I’ll take fertile avocado, over the romance of fall’s pallette any day.

Brookline Reservoir (41 of 89)

(Photo CredzMax Stern Photograpy)

But it did make me stop today, and think. Are the leaves showing their true colors in the summer, or the fall? What is it they feel best wearing? It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t be with me, excited by the various greens that pop up in the spring and summer, and not the swan song box of colors they sport in the fall. Makes me realize I always have to make sure that I look at all perspectives, and not just think mine is the one that’s right. #nevertoooldtolearnsomethingnew.

gratitude-a-thon day 718: the coffee

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An old friend is visiting. It’s so good to see her, but I stayed up too late. Drank too much wine. And now I’m waiting for the coffee, like it’s the holy grail secret of life.

THE COFFEE.

Give me the coffee. That brown liquid with magical powers, that takes me from crusty eyes and cobweb brain to someone who can connect words into audible sentences (sort of).

Give me the coffee, sweet nectar of the Dunkin’ Donuts Gods, now serving 11,300 worldwide. Give me the milk, the light agave nectar. Let that liquid slide down my throat and make like a rooster at 6 AM. Cock-a-doodle-doo, organs, let’s wake it on up.

gratitude-a-thon day 718: Is that the ticket?

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Bernie shows off his humanity during the debate. I’m tired of the stupid email conversation, too. Aren’t you?

The Democratic debate. I know it was two days ago, but I’ve been busy (and sick AGAIN–fuck my immune system for being such a lazy poop emoji and doing absolutely NOTHING). Anyway, the debate. Hillary. Bernie. Go.

I didn’t support Hillary last time around because I was IN LOVE with Barack, and you just don’t do that to your boyfriend, but I did think she was qualified, and if my man hadn’t been the other candidate, I’m sure I would have given my vote to her.

This time around, however, she is even more qualified, having served as Secretary of State since then. This woman is exceptionally smart, and she knows Washington and how to get things done. She’s been first lady and Secretary of State. I think we’re done here.

But, I’m developing a thing for Bernie. First of all, I adore that accent. I’m a little bit of a pushover for an intellectual NY Jew with socialist leanings. This man is really smart, a straight shooter with good aim, and not all Washington-ed out. He’s hard to ignore, on account of his humanness. His going to bat for Hillary, concerning her stupid emails, was kind, right, and not a move of a politician, but rather, a human being. Moment of the night.

Also, I would just like to say, during the whole debate, I just kept thinking how Donald Trump would be positively drowning if he were on the stage. He would have to rely on stupid jokes and inappropriate answers. He’s hosting Saturday Night Live in early November. There’s been a call to send NBC emails to rescind his invite. I did it, but the thing is, this is the only place he could possibly be president–on a sketch comedy show.

So, I’m wondering, as many people have been wondering, Clinton/Sanders? Sounds iike a bumper sticker I’d wear on my forehead.

gratitude-a-thon day 718: was a sunny day

Waking up to a gentle rain. I thought it was going to be sunny again today, so I’m surprised. Yesterday was one of the top 10 most perfect days of weather ever. EVER. I kept thinking, what if I lived someplace that was like this every day? There was such a nice freedom to yesterday. I took the dog to the dog park with a friend and let him run. I went to yoga. I painted a table. I opened the windows. I made pizza for dinner. It was Columbus Day, so the ordinarily cray cray traffic wasn’t happening, and the people who were around were happy, on account of the glow-orious weather. I keep trying to remember that if you only ate dessert everyday, you’d really want some steak. (of course, I don’t believe it). A free day like yesterday, so sunny, and clear, and well, perfect, reminds you that such bliss exists. That you can’t have it all the time, unless you chose a better place to live than I did, reminds you to take in happiness when it’s there. I put yesterday in a mason jar to warm me up during the you-know-what (winter).

gratitude-a-thon day 717: when it’s there, but you don’t see it

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Sometimes I pretend I’ve never been to where I live before. (With the way my memory is going, it might not be a game soon.) Anyway, I walk around as if I were someone from a completely different country, and ask myself what I see. Because the thing is, there are lots of pretty things around me, and sometimes I completely miss them because I’m so used to them, so as a reminder I play the “foreign visitor” game and I see my surroundings in a new and different light

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Yesterday I did it at Jamaica Pond. This place is really beautiful, but often I forget to take in its good looks and charm, on account of I’m exercising. One foot in front of the other, busy, busy, busy. But today, I just looked around as I walked, and took in all it had on display. Because of the Holiday weekend, it didn’t have the usual crowds, which was helpful for my little game.  I imagine there are lots and lots of people leaf peeping up North. It was nice. I really liked what I saw. I’m going back tomorrow to appreciate it all over again. Sometimes you need a reset to see what’s right in front of you.