In a few weeks, Ally and I are going to Tanzania and Zanzibar (with a great group of people). This will be the first time I’ve been anyplace like this. This is not Paris, or Venice, with its street chic and museums and gustatory glory, and it certainly ain’t no disco. This is a major adventure, and a very different part of the world.
And already I’m experiencing the adventure of packing, having learned that modesty is everything in this part of Africa. Do you know I have 20 dresses, none of which are below my knee or have sleeves! As a freelance writer, I’m either in my Lulu workout clothes, or jeans, or leggings (or a dress that is above my knee without sleeves!). I wear a lot of jewelry. I love a jacket, my leather jacket in particular. I live for cashmere. I’m big on black and white. This is not African wear. And when in Rome, well, you know.
What’s funny is how unsettling it feels to break out of my normal clothing routine, like I am not myself. My husband could care less what he wears, and would just as soon show up at work in his boxer shorts. But me, I’m more particular. My clothes have always reflected my mood, and my attitude. My idea of getting dressed up is jeans with more jewelry and better shoes.
Anyway, this has been interesting, to not only be going somewhere that is completely out of my comfort zip code, but also forces me out of my jeans. I am so wildly grateful for this opportunity to share this trip with some people who I love, I’m even willing to wear a skirt below my knees. Stay tuned!
I am thinking a lot these days, about this summer, the last summer before both of my kids will be away at school.
I gotta tell you, it’s fucking weird.
I am trying to imagine what it will be like not to have the stress of HAVING to grocery shop and then cook a dinner with all the food groups. Because, see, my husband is easy peasy and would be happy to eat a placemat and paper napkin for dinner. I’ve been wondering what the impact on laundry will be when there isn’t, and I’m not using names HERE, a person who looks at a piece of clothing, decides not to wear it, and puts it in the hamper because it’s easier than hanging up, or shoving in an overstuffed drawer. I’ve been pondering whether not having kids tramping in and out all the time will make the house feel like a monastery, where I will have to chant just to feel alive.
I’m telling you, it’s very unsettling to imagine a situation you haven’t bee in, in 21 years. It’s a little bit like going backwards, except for I’m not as cute as I was back then.
But I am smarter, and hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out all the good things that will come with this change. Spontaneous trips, less cleaning, no shoe department in the front entryway. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being scared, and freaked out, and just a little panicked. It’s sort of a big change, you know? And I’ve never been one to embrace change gracefully. I guess while they’re learning to be independent, I’ll be learning (again) too.
I didn’t know that it was Bill Cunningham who was behind the lens of the camera that captured New York’s most stylish moments, and one of my favorite parts of the New York Times, until I saw the documentary Bill Cunningham New York back in 2008. I thought the creator of that column must be a hip young thing that had a sharp eye for the fickle world of fashion, a stylized version of a super cool New Yorker, decked out in the latest trends. Instead, the creator of that column was an unassuming and thrifty, totally sensible and unfashionable Boston born man who peddled around New York on his bike with his camera, and an eye for trends and personal style. He was the earliest and classiest member of the fashion police.
I’ve loved fashion since I made clothes for my Barbie dolls back in the day. Bill Cunningham loved it too. As a little girl from a small town in Connecticut, I lived for the trends he picked up, the photo montages of black and white clothing, or the hot handbag, or the latest shoe trend–New York women with sweeping-the-ground capes, and oversized furs, and strappy summer dresses. Who hasn’t gazed at that column and felt like they were getting a little insider info, like Bill was letting us in on a fashion secret?
In 2009, New York named him a living landmark. I know he has had landmark impact on me. I will miss his sharp eye, his stylish editorial on one of the world’s most fashionable cities, that ever-present column that was as reliable as the air. Some people bring color to the world, some fashion. Bill Cunningham, clad in his utilitarian blue French work coat and khaki pants brought the details of personal style from behind his lens. I will miss his perspective.
About 10 years ago, my husband had a couple talks to give in Switzerland, so we made a family trip out of it. We went to Paris and Venice, and Switzerland and Sweden. It was absolutely amazing, except for the night we were on a bus to get to a hotel up in the alps, which required said bus to do hairpin turns in the black of night, IN THE RAIN. I was absolutely positive that we were going to die. POSITIVELY SURE. Not even a question in my mind. Every time the bus was heading for the turn, it looked like we were driving straight off the mountain to our fiery deaths. I would hold my breath and literally clutch the sides of the bus until I couldn’t feel my hands. And then somehow, we’d make the turn. This happened like, eight times. I was sweating with fear, but trying to look calm for my kids. Of course, I wasn’t fooling anybody. I looked like The Scream.
But I digress.
The trip was really, really fantastic, and we got to see our very good friends in Sweden who live on a fairy tale island and …..
Uh oh, digressing again.
The last day we were there, my husband had to give a talk in Stockholm, so the kids and I, Jake about 10, and Ally about 7, walked around seeing sites and popping in and out of shops (because what is a trip if there is no popping and SHOPPING)?
We went into a store that seemed a cross between Anthropologie and say, Urban Outfitters, and I found these oversized mugs and bowls that I wanted to marry on the spot. Just like, get a Justice of the Peace and have a wedding ceremony, with those mugs and bowls, and my kids as best man and maid of honor. Love at first sight. And they were very inexpensive to boot, like maybe $5.oo a piece. I asked if they shipped, but got a big fat no, but they suggested I see if the post office would send them. So I dragged the kids to the Post Office to see how much it might be for me to ship them, because our suitcases were already full, and we’d been traveling weeks, and I knew that I couldn’t shove one more thing ANYWHERE, even these mugs and bowls which I couldn’t now imagine my life without. But the post office did not ship anything fragile to the States. Fuck me! And my mugs and bowls.
I considered for a moment just relocating the fam to Stockholm, so that I could have the mugs and bowls. It hardly seemed that much of an inconvenience…..
I was so conflicted about not buying the mugs and bowls, I couldn’t really stop talking about what I should do. I mean, could we possibly carry one more thing with us? I knew we were full-up. I would have to live without the purchase. I would have to go home mug and bowl-less. I was despondent, until Jake, looked up at me with his bowl-sized green eyes and said, “Mommy, I’ll carry them for you.” I told him, no of course not, but then both Ally and Jake said, “Mommy, you love them so much, we want you to have them. We’ll help carry them.”
HERE’S WHERE A PICTURE OF MY ADORABLE KIDS WOULD BE, IF I HAD THE TIME TO FIND THE PICTURES, WHICH ARE REAL, HONEST TO GOD, PRINTED PHOTOS, AMIDST THE MORE THAN 10 BILLION PHOTOS FROM THE PRE-DIGITAL AGE. USE YOUR IMAGINATION. THEY WERE REALLY, REALLY CUTE.
I really couldn’t believe the empathy my kids had for my somewhat silly predicament. I am as moved now as I was then, and to this day, I think it’s probably one of the most generous and thoughtful things anybody has ever done for me.
So there was my little 10 year old and seven year old schlepping the mugs and bowls with their mom in tow, smiley like I had just bought the city of Stockholm for a $1.
Anyway, I have had those bowls and mugs for 10 years. I began using the mugs right away, but not the bowls. Somehow I got it into my head that I should “save” the bowls. I don’t have any idea why I thought this. I guess I just thought they were so beautiful and I loved them so much, I didn’t want them to break. I wanted to have them forever. I wanted to use them for company. I had no such delusions with the mugs, however, and allowed myself and others to enjoy them freely. I drink my coffee out of them every single day, and in 10 years, have only had two unfortunate deaths (I considered burying the broken glass in the backyard with a gravestone, but I must have gotten busy). Anyway, the other day, all my regular, everyday bowls were in the dishwasher and I had to use one of “the” bowls. It was a pleasure. A TOTAL PLEASURE. When I took it out of the dishwasher all clean and fresh, I went to put it back up into the high shelf that it’s spent the last decade living on, but things had shifted and without a chair, I couldn’t get it into its place (and I was too lazy to get a chair, THIS IS HOW I AM). So, I stacked it with my regular bowls (who were all like, “Oh, fancy pantsy down here slumming, huh?”). And I have been using it, and feeling a little sassy and happy every time I do.
Which brings me to the point of the story to begin with. I have decided it’s time to remove the sanction from the bowls.
I AM USING THE BOWLS.
Seriously, who knows what the hell tomorrow is going to be about, I’m using the bowls NOW. It makes less sense than anything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth that I am not using the bowls. I am getting them down today, and putting them in the rotation. Using them for cereal, using them for soup. I am using the bowls. I’m not saving anything anymore. I could be in a movie theater or a school or a bar, or the fucking grocery store and get shot tomorrow, so obviously it’s time to use bowls. Who knows what the is going to happen.
We’re together on so many things. We’re so much more the same than different, the lot of us. We all have blood in our veins and a heart that pumps approximately 7,000 liters of that blood daily. We’re all looking for ways to experience more happiness than sadness. We all want work that’s meaningful, and dare we say, fun, love that gives us the shivers. We’re all searching for connection, looking for a binge-worthy tv show, and a dinner routine that lets us eat a fabulous meal without spending 72 hours in the kitchen. We all love our kids and want them to have the capacity to be happy in their lives. We all want more vacation time. We’d all like to have killer abs without hours at the gym. We all love a good bargain, wish we could change the weather, hate to take out the garbage.
But we’re letting ourselves down right now. While there are multiple reasons for the mass shootings that have been occurring in the States, from the complexity of mental health issues to terrorism. One thing, however, is as clear as a Swarvoski crystal: whatever the reasons behind people shooting up a school, or movie theater or nightclub, they could not do so without a gun in their hands.
How is it that we are more the same than different, but that we cannot seem to grasp this simple concept? Make it harder to obtain guns, and you will still have the mentally unbalanced, the political differences, but with some measures in place, these people would not be able to obtain a gun with the ease of obtaining a package of Juicy Fruit gum.
Stop with the personal safety arguments, and the personal freedom amendments, and take a look at what we are allowing as a country, to happen.
Yesterday was a perfect example of why I am a democrat and will be one until the day I die (and hopefully it won’t be in a mass shooting, but fuck-all, it could be). Yesterday the Democrats staged a sit-in, led by rock star civil rights activist John Lewis of Georgia, in an effort to pass gun legislation. This heartened me, gave me hope that all human responsibility had not gone to hell in a hand basket. All they were looking for was this: to ban gun sales to people on the government’s terrorism watch list, and expand and toughen background checks for gun buyers. Speaker Paul Ryan all but ignored the protest, pushed through a spending bill, and stormed out of the House chambers like a kid runs thought the halls on the last day of school.
None of us wants the people we love, or ourselves to be in the next mass shooting. And yet, partisan differences are blocking the view of our basic humanity. C’mon Republicans, can you please see past your noses to the fact that we are more the same than different. If you don’t, the next massacre is on you, so like you might want to invest in Irish Spring, or Dial or Dove, because you won’t just be washing the blood off your hands, you’ll be washing the blood off your souls.
Of course I wanted the U.S. to win, but really people, Argentina is the best team in the world. Of course, I didn’t expect the total massacre, but then, they have Messi. And well, he tends to mess things up. (Perhaps this is how he got his last name?). I still loved watching. And I still love Graham”man bun” Zusi.
At the ocean. Where things make more sense, and my lungs are all like, “whoa, we haven’t had this much air in a long time, so thank you for that.”
Sometimes I hold my breath. I mean obviously, I breathe enough to be alive, but not deep into the crevices that should be expanded, and that I’ve found through yoga, need attention.
The Cape is very different in pre-season. It’s quieter and more how I wish it really were. There are times I think it’s fun to feel the energy, smell the Coppertone, and hear the cacophony of crying babies and Kadema on a crowded beach day, but I much prefer the sound of the waves to the sound of people. It’s like oxygen.
Holding onto the chatter of nature and ocean. The good stuff.
Every time a mass shooting happens (and how pathetic is it that I am writing a sentence like that) I fall into the abyss of questions and sadness, where I sometimes get stuck like I’m a fly in a vat of fudge. I begin to feel like the world is a horrible place, and that madness and evil and crazy are everywhere. S.O.S. why did I bring kids to this wasteland, I wonder. Can I have a do-over?
And then the stories begin to surface. The stories of the helpers. The stories of the kindness, and selflessness, and humanity.
And I remember that there is so much more good than bad in the world. I remember that there are more people who want to help than hurt. And I let myself bathe in those stories like a giant bubble bath of lavender (sidebar: have you ever tried that EO French Lavender Serenity bubble bath from Whole Foods? Heaven).
Take a look at this story–major human kindness at work. Out of the blood and carnage and horror, the helpers. Don’t let yourself be convinced by acts of mental illness and political insanity and hate that the world is bad and there is no hope for us. There is more good than bad. There is more hope than hopelessness. Look for the helpers.
It’s been days since the Pulse horror occurred, and still I can’t get it out of my head. Still, it makes me feel queasy and unsettled, and angry and sad.
And still, I just don’t understand.
There’s a lot of debate going on as to what the shooters motivations were. Was he himself gay and unable to accept that because of the culture he grew up in? Was he a home grown extremist? Was he acting because of Isis, or was he acting with them?
A friend and I were talking yesterday about which scenario was worse. I think we netted out that every scenario was just bad.
There is only one thing that is certain–unless you’re heading out to war, nobody, but nobody needs an assault weapon.
Gratitude to the filibustering senate democrats for trying to force a vote on gun control yesterday. It’s a start. It’s a small start. Take a look at this awesome NYT editorial.And this one by the Globe.
This is going to keep happening if we don’t all start DEMANDING that there be gun control. Will it be you next time? Someone you love?
We say we’ll take action after every bloody massacre, but we don’t. Let’s not wait for the next one. Because make no mistake about it, if we don’t do something, there will be another. And another.