gratitude-a-thon day 1043: you’re born and then you morph

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Yesterday was a funny day. Not ha, ha funny, but interesting funny, “wouldja look at how life is, all it is,” kind of day.

My son should have graduated from college this year, only his first choice college, USC, Fight On, Go Trojans, accepted him for the Spring semester, and he wanted to go there enough to say yes. This prompted us to have to find something to engage him for the first semester. A friend ran a cool organization and we found he could go to University of Barcelona. The USC Admissions board said, “Oh yeah, we know that program. No problem. Great” But being a novice college mom (and possibly dumb as poured cement), I didn’t get it in writing, and yes, if you’re playing along, it did not, in the end, count (four courses in a foreign city, three of which were in Spanish and not a one of them counted, THANK YOU SO FUCKING MUCH). Which means, he did not graduate this year with all of his friends, which also means I did not yet have to ponder, yet another transition.

But it seemed yesterday, I did. And it a little bit undid me.

I started the day by going to a graduation party for twin boys who I’ve known since they were little, and I say this as little in the sense of just a few months old, and little in the sense that they are now both 6’5. Not even kidding. They are like buildings in a sea of cottages. This may have started me on the course of where I ended up. I mean, you look at them and because they’re so tall, so much larger than when they were babies, you think, how, HOW could this have happened that those two tiny people became these two very big people? They are perfect visual symbols of this concept that just reminds me of everything I don’t understand about life.

Then, Peter and I met our friend Sharon, at the movie “Obit” at the Coolidge, where the filmmaker and one of the writers of obits for the New York Times was having a Talk Back after the movie. Some time ago, we recognized that we were all a little in love with   obituaries. My obsession began after my mom died at 73, which I felt was way too young, and which is when I began reading obits in earnest (age 32), being secretly grateful when someone died who was younger than my mother, and covertly angry when someone was older (I never said that I was a normal person, I am clearly not). Anyway, when we heard about this film, I knew we just had to see it and we just had to see it with Sharon. It was great. But of course, it made us ponder dying and what our obits would say and I realized that I really have to step it up, because at this point, if I were to get a headline at all, it would be, “She made a nice poster, she wrapped a nice gift.”

The end of the day was another graduation party of my son’s high school girlfriend. I love this girl like she is mine (even though she is not, and has wonderful parents who raised her to be the brilliant, ethical, loyal, loving and hard working girl she is). I think after the obituary movie, which had me look at my own mortality, and the morning acknowledgement of the neighborhood boys graduating, I was set up to sob. And before I could even eat, I started to, which was ridiculous, and wrong, and I decided we had to leave abruptly, because I all of a sudden was rushed with the emotions of how fast time is jetting by, and it flooded me like a goddamn tsunami. A tsunami, I tell you.

Graduations mark time. I haven’t thought about time since back in September when my daughter left for college, leaving the nest void of kids. I’ve been busy doing stuff. But yesterday forced me to not only look at these kids who I’ve watched grow up, but once again at myself and to be reminded that there are certain periods of my life that are now over–times that seemed at some moments to identify who I was.

Morphing. That’s what we’re all doing, all the time. Going from being one of 1,209, 792,378 things that we are, into one of the 1,209, 792,378 other things we are on our way to becoming.

Graduations are for celebrating the graduate, but they also make us look at where we are in the great graduation procession of life. Yup, we’re born and we die, is how some people would sum it up. But we all know it’s  more than this. It’s so much, so goddamn much more. It was a funny day. I suspect there will be many more just like it.

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Happy graduation to Scott, Jonas & Patrick, Maddie and my girl, Jess. Your future’s so bright……

gratitude-a-thon day 1041: we see you, donald

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The emoluments issue is one of the strongest cases for impeachment of our current prez (but we have plenty of back-ups).

I droll on about Trump a lot here. It’s one of the reasons I stopped writing every day, because, duh, even those of us, who feel that true mental illness has taken over the White House, don’t want to be reminded every minute, plus we have “breaking news” every second,  and like, 1,298,398 sites and papers, magazines and networks to inform us of the travesty that we’re living, so it’s not like you’re uninformed.

Anyway, this was a banner week in cuckoo land, and I am feeling pretty hopeful, that although this may take a while, finally, there is an adult looking under a microscope at that hiney in the Oval. This has honestly improved the moods of everyone I know. “Anti-depressant prescriptions plummet”, says Wall Street Journal (See how well I’ve learned how to lie because of this administration’s modeling–The WSJ said no such thing.).

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This is Marian. She’s been tirelessly working for the cause. Take learn more, take a trip over to impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org.

I did want to just mention my gratitude for a really great organization. A few days ago, Brookline invited Ben Clements, Board Chair and Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech for People to discuss why Congress should start an impeachment investigation now. They are super smart, (and either would be a better POTUS than the one we have–of course the lemon tree in my living room would be a better POTUS that the one we have). The Brookline Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last week for an Impeachment Resolution, which next week goes to Town Meeting for a vote. If it passes (and it will), this will mean we join Cambridge, Amherst and a host of other cities and towns who have sent Congress a resolution to begin an impeachment investigation this very minute, if not sooner.

I would also like to give a shoutout to my friend Marian Klausner, who got me involved, and has been doing a lot to get rid of that man (with due respect to real men everywhere) who is the Commander-in-Chi……(I’m sorry, every time I think of him as the head of our country, I have to laugh).

So, weather is good, grown-ups are looking at President Cray Cray and the weekend is coming. Happy fucking Friday, people.

mom-a-tude-a-thon day 1040: grateful every fucking day for this one

Every mother’s day, we used to go to The Boston Photographic Center and famous photogs would take giant polaroid pics. This is my most favorite one of my guys.

At first I did everything I could not to get pregnant. It seemed easy back then, like I might fertilize an egg just by going on a date. ROGUE SPERM ALERT! I was an obedient birth control user. A poster child, really. I would not have to make the decision to keep or abort a baby. I knew it would undo me, so I faithfully used my diaphragm (which felt like the size of a flying saucer. “Earth to Toni’s vagina.”), the pill for a short time (which made me gain 10 pounds in about six seconds), condoms (which the guys were never too happy about).

My mom had me at 41, and I swore I’d never wait that long, because I was always worried she would die before I was ready and didn’t want to impose that same anxiety on my children (little did I know I WOULD NEVER BE READY FOR HER TO DIE). A stomachache would send me on a year-long hunt for the reason and that reason would be that I had stage IV endometriosis, and all my organs were glued together, and as the doctor said, so eloquently, “You’ll never have a baby, because your insides are a mess.

But fuck you endometriosis, and fuck you even harder, doctor with no bedside manner, I did. I did have a baby. Not saying it was easy. Because it was not. There was not one easy thing about it. It was three years of physical and emotional pain, tests, surgery, anxiety and eventually a desire to get in bed, and stay there, for like, EVER.

But after one miscarriage and three years, the test was positive. Two lines appeared. I checked and re-checked. And nine months later, I had a little boy named Jake. I had a baby. I had a healthy baby. Three years later, after two months of trying, I was pregnant again (I actually thought it might not be mine). I had a healthy little girl with more hair than most full grown orangutans.

It’s my 22nd mother’s day. There is a lot more to say. A. Lot. More. To. Say. But because I have a big breakfast in bed waiting for me, I will say this: I love my kids more than all the words the alphabet can make. Jackson Robert Gabriele and Alexandra Louise Christina, Riley, my buddy (who is my dog, but I’m pretty sure I gave birth to) : you are everything, plus french fries.

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In Santa Monica, all grown up.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 1039: connection

 

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I just read an account of one horrific year an FB friend is in the midst of recovering from and I thought, Fuck, there is a aircraft carrier of pain in the world. It’s not like that thought is breaking news, or anything. I have known about pain and experienced a lot of it for most of my life.

How we get through it, mystifies me as much as it impresses me. What we do, how we act, what we hold, what we carry, where we find enough strength to cross the street and move on, is what really interests me.

There have been times when I felt too much loss, too much pain. And I have thought, here I am in the quicksand of it, the belly of despair and it’s swallowing me and maybe I’ll just let it, because what’s the fucking point–I’m just too tired.

But then a little voice, in the form of muffins at your door from an acquaintance who knows of your sadness, or a perfectly timed phone call from a friend, or a song, or a favorite food you can swallow amidst your grief and actually taste, speaks to you and says, “This is just momentary, honey. There is more of the good stuff coming for you.”

It doesn’t speak loudly at first. It’s like the shy kid who was always in the back of the classroom acing the math tests. It’s like a tiny, fragile lily of the valley. It’s like a tea light candle trying to light up the whole of the black night, the sun trying to power through an opaque bank of clouds.

As long as even a tiny splinter-you-get-from-a-piece-of wood-in-your-finger sized bit of possibility is viewable from your peripheral vision even, you will make it.

This is what we do. We live as pain’s targets. We’re always trying to dodge and weave. As the song says, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

It takes time to wrestle pain and grief into submission. I have found pain never really goes away, but I’ve learned to carry it. I used to carry it on my back, but then I realized that hurt too much. So now, I carry it in my heart. When we carry our pain in our hearts, we become compassion. Compassion creates connection. And connection saves us.

gratitude-a-thon day 1038: compassion

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We have a neighborhood email to let people know stuff and ask questions and see if anybody, for instance, might have something you need to borrow, like crutches, or a bike, or who have something extra, like bulbs, or firewood. It’s very nice.

Last night I read one from a woman who I see in the park that’s two blocks away, where I raised my kids, but now walk my dog, and it was from a friend of hers who had found a home in our town, where an unwell, elderly woman had 10 small, young dogs that she apparently couldn’t take care of and there was an intervention by this friend who was a neighbor.

The description made me crumble. It actually made me nauseous (which is how it’s making me feel right now, even writing about it). Some of the dogs had  nails too long for them to walk. They were matted, shaking and terrified.  As I always say, dogs are the best people, so this made me really think that I should maybe take one, although I know it would be very hard for my dog, who has become the king of the house, since my kids have gone to college. I don’t know. I only know that I can’t stand that there are dogs that have been mistreated (although it was made clear this woman loves them, but is apparently not well enough to care for them).

Anyway, what I was thinking is that it is truly amazing how the Republicans don’t seem to feel anything for the millions who the repeal of the ACA will affect, but I feel like I am going to vomit up everything I’ve eaten since kindergarten because of some neglected dogs who need a home.

That is all.

(P.S. If you’re interested in adopting one of the dogs, you would be my hero.)

gratitude-a-thon day 1037: the resistance

 

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Dear Sentate, PLEASE SAVE US. Dear resisters: KEEP RESISTING.

Sweet Jesus, I am hoping the senate can save us from this new acceptable way of being that Trump has popularized, which began during his campaign, when it became clear he was essentially against every group that wasn’t white and male. This was bad enough, to know we had a candidate that lacked character to such a degree that it seemed he might not even be a real person, but a programmed robot created to star in some stereotypical bad boy movie (after all, what human would choose to wear his hair that way). But it continued when his supporters pushed his grotesque behavior and bigotry aside and voted for him to become president. An essential respect for one another was destroyed at that moment. Basic decent humanity was put out to pasture in the middle of a corn field in a remote part of Iowa. Compassion is keeping it company.

Yesterday’s House vote to repeal the ACA is disgusting and outrageous. But most of all, and what really makes me sick (not sure if that’s covered) is that it feels utterly inhuman. It seems we are in a time where our republican politicians just don’t care about people. JUST. DON’T. CARE.

The list of pre-existing conditions that are excluded include things like a c-section. So imagine–your baby is in distress, and you don’t have the money to pay for a c-section to save his life–that’s a good, solid plan, I think.

I am done with anyone who has voted for Trump. Don’t even. Yup, it’s personal now.

I am so grateful to the millions who belong to the resistance. I know you’re tired, but you are keeping me going these days, and so many others.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 1036: ISAIAH THOMAS

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Um, yeah, that about covers it.

Isaiah Thomas scored 53 points last night to shut down the Wizards.

I’m not a rabid sports fan like the rest of my ball-obsessed family, but I do get on my cheerleading spirit when the Celtics or Sox are in any kind of playoff situation, I mean before you move to Boston, you have to promise to support the hometown teams, or you have to live in Vermont.  but forget all that–FIFTY. THREE. POINTS. That’s a career high and like sort of impossible (you don’t have to be a sports freak to know this is out of the ordinary).

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But forget that. Because there’s this.

His sister Chyna died in a car accident just a few weeks ago. His 23 year old sister. And he is grieving her loss. HIS TWENTY THREE YEAR OLD SISTER DIED.

AND YESTERDAY WAS HER BIRTHDAY.

Oh, and in the last game, his front tooth got knocked out. AND HE KEPT PLAYING AND THEY WON.

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And just so you know, in case you don’t, he’s only 5’9. In the NBA, that’s like being the size of a bonsai tree.

Also, he’s only 28 years old. (At 28, I think I was still using a pacifier).

So, in this game he was contending with having had massive oral surgery all day Monday and being in major physical pain, to add to the emotional pain of having to mark his 23 year old sister’s birthday without her. C’mon. Are you fucking kidding me? (I could take to my bed just hearing this story).

Anyway, my point, is that people like this, like Isaiah Thomas, inspire me to my core. You know why, because in the face of massive amounts of shit hitting the fan, and I mean, like the empire state building of shit hitting a fan the size of toaster oven, they somehow find their inner strength. I can tell you confidently I’d be rendered useless for the rest of my whole life if my sister died. I would be in a puddle of pain and tears if you knocked out my front tooth (plus I’d be too vain to have continued playing that first game with a missing tooth–this is how I am–I know–awful, right). I would not be performing at all, let alone performing at my best.

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I love people who show me how to deal with pain. Because let’s just face it, there is pain everywhere you look in life. Not to be negative, but this is just the plain truth. It’s getting through the pain that’s the key to the castle. I watch these people. I dissect their every move so that I too can figure out how to move forward when I am stuck in the muck. These are the people I look to, people who keep going and thrive even, despite being in circumstances that should have them unhinged. Where do they pull from? How do they get through? What do they do with their pain? Looks like Isaiah put his in da basket.

Anyway, my husband has always told me that sports can teach you a lot. He would trade his impressive resume to be a basketball or baseball player in the time it takes to say “score.” He’s right (I hate when that happens).

Hey Isaiah, you’re fucking inspiring me–and teaching me–not to play basketball–to play life. Celtics pride. Boston Strong. Yup.

gratitude-a-thon day 1035: a peak at the worst from the met gala

Hmmmm. The Met Gala. Should I or should I not review, I thought to myself this morning. First of all, I’m more of a realistic fashion person–I like pretty things, not what the fashion glitterati calls “fashion-forward.” I’m just not a high fashion person (I would have to be really, really high to wear some of these gowns), so I don’t really think I’m qualified, but then again, that just makes it more fun. So, in the category of “who are you to judge, but go ahead anyway,” my thoughts.

The most ridiculous, silly, “are you kidding me,” what is this supposed to mean, anyway, and “you live in a house with no mirrors” WORST list. So bad, I’m not even going to do a best list.

Helen Lasichanh. “Do I look fat in this jumpsuit?” “Yes, why yes, you do.”

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It’s sort of the Stay Puff Marshmallow guy from Ghost Busters meets a straight jacket from Bellevue? Where are her arms? How do you eat? (always a consideration in my clothing choices). Are those open toed sandals with white athletic sox, or boots with white tips? Who cares, the rest of this is such a disaster, white athletic sox are the least of it. If this is fashion, I’m out.

Solange Knowles. Because it’s May in New York and it could snow.

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Listen, as whack-a-doodle as this formal down coat gown is, it’s right up my alley. I live in New England, and you have to be ready for December temps in the middle of July these days, and what with our dim-witted prez’s disbelief of climate change, I think this is a damn smart choice. You never know. Plus, let’s face it, I am a girl who hates the cold, so I kinda loves a formal event you can go to in a sleeping bag coat.

Caroline Kennedy and Rhianna. Really?

So what it looks like to me is that Caroline’s dress exploded and Rhi Rhi decided to wear it. Were these two seen together? If not, I think my theory is as good as any to explain these two terrifying pieces. Let’s just call it a flower pas.

Lady Gaga, I mean Katy Perry.

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Veiled in secrecy? The red tide (bride?) The red tent? Red head? Painting the town red? Better red than dead? Ridiculous red–yeah that one.

Maddona (mia), which translates to surprise, but in this case means, “what the fuck are you wearing?”

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Are we going into combat? Are we in camo because it’s a ball in the middle of a war? Is that a backpack she’s carrying? Are those leaves on the side of the dress? Could her boobs be any more “Playtex plastic?” Madonna, you’re losing your war with youth. This is a bomb.

Carly Steel. I don’t know who she is, and judging from that thing on her head, I don’t want to know.

Without the diamond encrusted alien headpiece, this dress is a snooze. In fact, it’s from the Land’s End wedding dress line, if they had a Land’s End wedding dress line. But the hat/crown/karated combat helmet from the Game of Thrones fashion vault elevates this look into classically ugly Met Gala gear. I don’t even know.

There were so many more that were just unexplainable, but we all have jobs, so like, we’ll leave it here. This is so one fashion evening, I am pretty sure I will never understand. But, like anything that takes my mind off of the dismal state of affairs in D.C. is good.

gratitude-a-thon day 103: hope springs eternal, again

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Spring is the best time of year. Hands down. No contest. Sorry other seasons, you’re fired. You can have Christmas with its goodwill toward men, but the burden of gifting is an albatross and ruins you. Forget back to school, even though the weather remains spectacular and the kids are academic prisoners, giving you a few hours to yourself, you’re just no competitor. Apologies to fall, although, of course I’d be a robot not to be mesmerized by the array of Crayola 64 foliage, but it’s just a harbinger of dwindling light and cold temps, my shoulders pushed up around my ears for months, while wrapped in my sleeping bag coat 24/7. Brrrrrrrr.

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It’s spring that renews and refreshes like a Summer’s Eve Douche commercial. Every morning, a new tree bursts into fertile green beginner foliage, that will give into a mature leaf before your very eyes (“hey, wasn’t that tree naked yesterday?”). Each morning, another flower pops up, as if a mysterious someone has come in the night and stuck them in the ground from a store bought bouquet. Every afternoon, the sun stays out just a little bit longer so you can have more play time.

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This is the season of possibility. Where it all seems new again. My energy surges. I put away my boots, hoping not to tempt the cold, because you never know in New England, but I am confident. I move forward into a new time, a hopeful time, with gratitude and Hallmark card thoughts. I will make new strides. I can do anything—-the fucking sun is out again.

gratitude-a-thon day 1031: hey april showers, we’re good

 

You’d think I was the spawn of these two (Helios and Isis (bet her parents didn’t know what an unfortunate name that would be one day), the God and Goddess of the Sun.

 

If I didn’t know who my parents were (and wish my dad weren’t my dad), I would think I was the offspring of some Greek weather God who demanded Sun and temperate breezes and blue skies 365 days a year. I have come to see, and only more so as I get older, that I am like a freaking weathervane–my migraines can predict when a barometric shift will happen and my mood and energy level indicate when it’s cold, rainy or snowy. Who needs the weather channel?

It’s absurd to live in New England (where I’ve lived my whole life, mind you) and only like the spring (when it’s not rainy) and summer (when it’s not humid). As Mark Twain so brilliantly said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.” Truth, baby.  It can be rainy, snowy and 72 all in one week (swear to God, I’ve lived it).  The weather is as bad as Bill O’Reilly getting all that money for assaulting women.

Yesterday was pouring water and gray as a slate roof for the second day in a row and I seriously wanted to stay in bed and just do my work from there (which, full disclosure, I did for part of the day). Now I want to point out that nothing is wrong over here, I am in a perfectly happy mood, and things are good (well, you know, except for Trump), but the weather does this to me.  I am like a victim of the forecast. (By the way, I know the importance of my even talking about my weather moods is a first world problem.)

But wah, wah, wah, my phone says it’s rain until Sunday. By then, I think even the flowers are going to be like gratitude shmatitude, we were happy to have you, but enough is a fucking ‘nough.  If you need me, I’ll be under the covers, digging the mold out from under my nails.