gratitude-a-thon day 913: shopping for a new self

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 4.20.19 PM
This is sort of similar to the necklace that is falling apart, but I realize it’s too big. Good thing I didn’t press that “buy” button.

On the eve of my daughter leaving for college, I was alternately doing her laundry, ironing (yes, people still do that) her myriads of teeny tiny shirts that would inevitably wrinkle by the time they reached her new dorm closet, and online shopping.

I was going to all my favorite sites to troll for sales. And googling my face off in an effort to replace one of my most favorite necklaces, which I’ve had for three years, and has recently begun losing beads. I can’t bear when I love something that breaks. It makes me feel vulnerable and like I must replace it right away. This necklace pooping out on me, as my daughter was leaving, felt somehow symbolic.

“How in hell do you figure that?” you ask.

I have an admittedly weird thing with jewelry. I wear it all the time, and it sort of becomes part of me, like a leg, or an eye (There’s no judging here, go away if you’re judging). And I have worn this necklace a lot for the past several years. It’s kind of my go-to necklace (and if you are also saying, “Who has go-to necklace?” I will tell you that, too. ME).  So, having it say sayonara just as my daughter was jumping ship, and my new role as empty nester was entering stage right mades me feel like it was telling me to say goodbye to the old and bring on the new.

images-1.jpeg
When your kids leave, they take one identity, and you need to find another. Apparently, I was shopping for one, instead of packing.

Do you see that, or is it just me? Really, you don’t? Hmmmm, maybe it is just me. But I think if you listen carefully, and put your keen observation specs on, you an see all sorts of things the universe is using to communicate to you.  Because you know, being the universe and all, it can’t speak, so it has to use symbols, like, earthquakes, and toast (you know how people see Jesus in toast–boom–universe trying to communicate), and, well, broken jewelry.

Francis-Orr Summer Sale

Anyway, I was perusing all sorts of retail sites, judging the new fall looks and the old summer ones.  I was like frantically jumping from one site to another. It was  like the house was on fire, and I had to buy a fire extinguisher, but I was looking for it at Barney’s.

Maybe I  was shopping for a way to be without my kids. Subconsciously, I mean. I don’t know. But I should have been doing other things and yet, I could not stop shopping. What do you do when you’re at the end? Hang on for dear life to the way it’s been, or look for a new path? I think it’s smarter to embrace the new path. Maybe I don’t need that necklace. But MAYBE, just maybe, I need a new leather jacket…..

gratitude-a-thon day 912: the top ten reasons I’m celebrating my empty nest

3640_342x228

My daughter leaves for college tomorrow (you’re all like, “wow, she is so calm, no capital letters, and she didn’t even say “fuck” once in that sentence– wonder if she’s not feeling well). Here are the things I am trying to focus on, since Sunday, August 28, will officially be the first day that I will have an empty nest:

  1. The goddamn shoe pile which greeted one when one came through the door. This shoe pile seemed to actually contain more shoes than I think any of us owned. I’m not sure if Riley (my dog) has been bringing shoes home and adding them, but guess what–this ever expanding shoe pile is history.
  2. When I leave the kitchen clean, it will stay clean, again, unless Riley decides to have people over, which, on occasion, he does.
  3. The laundry will no longer have folded shirts in it, which were placed into the hamper because “I didn’t feel like wearing it, and didn’t feel like putting it back in my drawer, either.”
  4. I will no longer be a practically daily regular at Whole Foods, where people will gawk at the absurd amount of groceries in my cart, and mistake me for Octomom, and the sales help will no longer wonder if I work there.
  5. I will never be caught in the bathroom without toilet paper, BECAUSE I REPLACE IT AFTER I USE IT.
  6. My car will no longer be the depository of rogue water bottles, Panera Bread bags, candy wrappers, or smelly soccer socks.
  7. I will no longer have to look at two rooms that resemble the remnants of a tornado, tsunami, earthquake. I may, however, find Jimmy Hoffa, and have taken note to get my hair done for press shots.
  8. I will not have to pretend that someone else will take out the dog, because they never have and now they never will.
  9. Nobody will ever take my phone or computer charger and tell me they DID NOT TAKE MY PHONE OR COMPUTER CHARGER.
  10. I can make whatever the fuck I want for dinner (my husband would eat the porch steps and tell me what a lovely meal I made).

gratitude-a-thon day 912: kids grow up, and there isn’t any way to stop it

river sile jesolo venice wallpaper

I had an overnight with my friend Karen in Rhode Island (my new fave state), and on Tuesday night, after some wine, we went out to dinner, and she, like me, has a daughter going off to college (her first) and we were, of course, talking about it in our typical non sequitur way, as in we would be discussing  politics and then scoot over to dorm room comforters–every other sentence pertaining to this seismic shift about to occur, AND HEY, ISN’T THIS THE LONGEST SENTENCE EVER.

We started to talk about what happens when you go to college, and how you have to figure out being away from home, and that once you are away from home, it’s different when you go back again. (There may or may not have been some crying during this discussion, OK SOBBING, in the middle of a crowded restaurant.) And it so reminded me of my fortieth birthday when Peter and I left our kids for the first time, and were going away for the weekend to NY, and staying in a fancy hotel and seeing two shows and having dinner with a really good friend who lived there, (but got stuck on the runway because fucking New York was fogged in) and instead of giving up and going home, we went to the North End, ate at Pomodoro, got a lobster tail at Mike’s Pastry (one of the top ten contenders to be in my mouth at the time of death) and went to stay in a luxurious room at the Charles Hotel, where we binge watched movies.

I remember that I went to the bathroom at 11:45 and looked at myself in the mirror and thought, I DON’T WANT TO TURN 40. But in that moment, I saw the futility of there not being one thing I could do about it. That it was what was happening and not one item on the room service menu could change the fact that this was, in 15 minutes, going to be. I hated that realization–that not even ISIS could stop time. In the morning, I was fine. Once that moment was over, I was just fine. But being in the center of knowing there is nothing you can do to alter what’s happening, can be a painful moment.

But it’s that moment, when you understand that some changes have to happen, and nothing can prevent them, that you just have to Sheryl Sandberg into them. That’s what this college thing is, for parents, and for students. There is a change that happens. Your kid begins to have one foot in your house and one foot on his or her campus, and their legs keep getting wider, their body pulling apart, until they are forced to choose a place to stand. And the time leading up to that moment is confusing and hard. And sad. For both parents and children. It is the reckoning. It is also known as growing up.

And the thing about it, is that it is inevitable. Like the sun coming up, like the moon coming out at night, like something completely idiotic coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth.

As you say goodbye to your college children, know that this change will occur. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow. But remember, it’s what we raised them to do. To fly on their own. And while you may feel regret about their leaving, you know inside, it’s the right thing, and their time to seize the open sky.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 910: a good movie in a drought of good movies

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 8.13.52 AMI saw a great movie last night. It was a movie by Ira Glass. “This American Life” Ira Glass (in case you were confused it was another Ira Glass–sometimes my stupidity astounds even me).

Anywho, Don’t Think Twice is about an Improv group who are all best friends (actually two of them are a couple, and a couple is always two, in case you didn’t know that, glad to help) and it is the story of how one of them advances his career (actually what he did was get chosen to be on a show that was supposed to be Saturday Night Live, but which is called something else, but I knew, because I’m smart like that), and the effect this has on everybody in the group.

Keegan-Michael Key is the dude who “makes it” and I’d just like to say right now, that guy is going to be a big star. (My husband was like, “He’s already a big star,” and I was like, “He is going to be a bigger star.”) He’s so immensely likable and completely natural. Not to mention he totally slays an impression. Plus, he’s adorable.

The movie explores friendship, envy, career, and ambition. It asks you to ponder the meaning of success. The writing is really good– I snort laughed at least twice.

Also, I would like to mention that the popcorn at The Kendall is completely the best popcorn on the planet (you know I can tend to exaggerate, but I am not at all, SERIOUSLY.)

gratitude-a-thon day 909: what matters

 

IMG_3173

Ever notice how sometimes, if you are looking, you see things that feel like a message?

Take my bulletin board  (I don’t know what you even call it, anymore. It’s a chalkboard that’s magnetic, when I was a kid I called it a bulletin board, so I still call it that, even though it doesn’t have cork, or push pins, but let’s just go with that, or like, you can sue me for mislabeling).

ANYWAY, I decided, with the kids leaving, I should probably clean it. There were a million papers and report cards and postcards and business cards and addresses, and tests and menus and announcements on that thing, all jammed one on top of another.

I ripped everything down and put it in a big pile. And look what was left (NOT EVEN KIDDING, THIS IS WHAT I FOUND):

IMG_3175

There in the corner of the bulletin board/chalkboard/magnetic junk collector board was my family. Jake made these figures in some grade I’ve now forgotten, and I thought they were so darn cute that I always kept them. During all the emotional turmoil of having the kids leave, it felt like the simplest message in the world to see. Underneath it all (the mess, and layers of family stuff) was the four of us with a message above that said “today matters.”

And it does. Everyday matters. And the four of us, imperfect and crazy, matter to each other. No matter what.

gratitude-a-thon day 908: when the pottery barn catalog arrives and you no longer care

 

1449469156325-1When I was younger, the arrival of a Pottery Barn catalog was like rocket fuel for my domestic fantasies. I would settle down in a chair and flip through the perfectly furnished rooms, where everything had a place, and there was scads of square footage for the ideal nuclear family to spread out. I had neither the perfect space, or the perfect family. But I longed for both.

As years went by, and I grew into myself, and actually had a family, I preferred antiques to the Pottery Barn replicas, but I still longed for the idea that catalog delivered–rooms that were never dirty, where nothing but good, normal things could happen– where Johnny got A’s and Sally volunteered at the local hospital, and the mom baked and did laundry and made beds, and the dad had a job that could afford houses for all the seasons of the Pottery Barn collection to fit inside of. Even the dog never had accidents in the house. It was the fucking Pottery Barn catalog, for God sakes.

014

 

Ally leaves for college in 9 days, and today the Pottery Barn catalog arrived. It seemed to taunt me a little bit when I opened its pages. I no longer need the ample spaces, or kick-ass playrooms I used to long for. I am not perusing it with the same eager instinct I have had for the last 25 years, to try and make every room work to its maximum potential. It feels strange not to be thinking about how to perfect my entryway to acommodate the near 20 coats and 30 pairs of shoes we, as a family of four, would have in our seasonal rotation. It’s somewhat strange not to be getting ideas for cool holiday cookies I will make for their classrooms (lest we never forget my gingerbread men and women, which nearly broke my shoulders, or my spider cupcakes, which had me looking for black string licorice in three states).

1NgDJTVbIXa50Bz11rDoPQRZuUNHhJ-4

Instead, I flipped the pages of the catalog with some sadness for how my house never measured up to these stylist-created rooms, how my longing for organization and pottery barn photo shoot perfection always eluded me, and how those two empty kid’s rooms upstairs would now be a reminder of all I failed at as a homemaker and mom.

I held that catalog in my hands.

And then I threw it in the recycle bin. Fuck you, Pottery Barn. Life is messy. And I did my best.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 907: it’s only 71!

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 11.10.01 AM

I am so freaking thankful for the break in heat. I mean, I am down on my knees in gratitude. I am taking in every un-air conditioned moment. I am looking fondly at the cloudy sky and praying for more of the same. I just came home from Africa and it wasn’t as hot as it has been in Boston this last week. I rest my case, and my sweat glands.