gratitude-a-thon day: day 21, do i have it, or am i just trying to get out of cleaning the house

 

Do, I have a cold? Allergies? “The” virus? These are the questions I’ve had the past three days, as I’ve rumbled around in bed, falling asleep like I was bitten by a tse tse fly, coughing, headachey with a runny nose. I keep jamming the thermometer in my mouth like it will come back with the answer: “You just have a cold–vacuum your fucking house.”

The thermometer is right–the dust bunnies in my house have gathered and I’m almost certain they are planning a coup. Where exactly does dust come from, anyway? How does it ball up into miniature tumbleweeds? I have to vacuum today, for the third time during this pandemic, because of course, my beloved housecleaner, Yolanda, who has been with us for the past 25 years can’t come because of the goddamn virus, as if I need one more reason to hate this deadly plague. She keeps this place together, and believe me, I have thanked her every way I can because without her we are basically living in a frat house. I will continue to pay her because she is family to us. That’s how this thing has to work.

Who knows what day it is? They all seem to be blending together. Honestly, I don’t know how it’s possible, but it seems that we have the same amount of laundry as the population of a small private college. I give my neighbors the side-eye, wondering if they’re sneaking in at night and putting their clothes in my hamper? Not really, I have the best neighbors (which does not preclude them from dumping their laundry in my hamper–hey, guys, let up, will ya).

I keep cleaning the kitchen and within six minutes, it’s dirty again. Not even kidding. I seem to be attending to plates and pots that I’ve never even seen before. “Who’s bowl is this?” I ask my husband. He’s reading the paper, reporting all the articles that say this isn’t going to be as bad as they say. He’s an eternal optimist. I put another load into the dishwasher. “Where did we get this platter?” I ask him. He’s texting his well-curated articles to our “optimism” group text. Note to self: Delete yourself from the optimism group text until your cold goes away.

The news reports are dismal. And not feeling well just makes all of this worse. And it’s cold out. Did you come here for a gratitude boost? Forget it.

But that’s ok, I’m grateful to hit the wall, because when you let yourself just go down the rabbit hole of misery, you get energized to come back up, with vengeance. Sometimes (on day 22 of quarantine) you need a little rest and rant party so you can come back and notice all there is to be grateful for. But today, no go. Today, I’m sleepy and cranky and I hate what this virus is doing to all of us (and believe me, I know I’m lucky). So, give yourself a break if you’re feeling cranky, too. It’s ok. These are peculiar and unprecedented times. Gratitude will come back. It’s never lost. Just taking a nap. Like I’m about to do. Purell hugs and kisses.

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2094: I shopped!

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It was so good to see the avocados at Whole Foods today, I practically kissed each one of them.

My family, my immunosuppressed husband (who takes an arthritis drug that lowers his immunity) and my college senior daughter (who didn’t go on her spring break, is mourning the end of her senior year and the fact that she will not have a graduation ceremony, and is stuck with her parents in the house UNABLE TO SEE ANY OF HER FRIENDS, and my (incredibly happy) dog, have been in quarantine for 16 days today. Aside from sacrificial lamb, Ally (the daughter) who has gone to CVS for essentials like prescriptions, nail polish and veggie chips (ADDICTED), we have not stepped foot in any stores. In fact, I’m pretty sure that TJ Maxx’s stock plummeting is my sole responsibility. But with food getting harder and harder to get online, I woke up thinking that I would take the chance and go grocery shopping, you know take one for the team. So, donning some disposable plastic gloves, I headed to the Market Street Cambridge location of Whole Foods.

Sundays are always quieter than weekdays, but there was almost nobody on the road. I pulled into the parking lot and saw a line. I asked a woman if the store was closed, or if it was just a line to get in. She said it was a line, for seniors. I got out and stood in the drizzle. As people came out of the store, people were let in. It was only about five minutes before I was walking through the door greeted by an employee who said, “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to ask you how old you are.” I answered, “I’m 61.” Her eyes opened wide, and she said, “Wow, you look great!” This was already a better experience than I could have hoped for.

It was nice to see the store had lots of room and only a once or twice did I get closer than I would have liked to people. I got flowers. Lots of flowers. The produce section reminded me of the Candyland Board game. Apple Mountain. Avocado Alley. Potato Passageway. I was giddy in the presence of so many fruits and vegetables! I actually filled the cart so high I could barely push it. I felt like an 18-wheeler making a turn at 95 MPH. I thanked every employee I came into contact with. The check-out line was staggered to keep distance. I had about 12 bags, so the fact that they put it in my car for me was a big plus.

I said goodbye to the woman guarding the door (and who blindly complimented me). I told her that I’d been really nervous to come in, that I’d been in the house for 16 days,  and to please pass on what a great job they were doing keeping the numbers down for safety’s sake. Then I started to cry. Yup, I started crying with the poor Whole Foods woman who was hired to let people in the door, not to counsel the pathetic. She was really kind and I feel sure she’d have hugged me if it wasn’t for the fact that we were IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC.

SWEET BABY JESUS, I cried at the Whole Foods today.

But as I continued sobbing on my way to the car, I  realized how scared I’d been to go into a store, viewing it as possibly being exposed to something that could kill my husband (as if being in the house with him this long hasn’t made me want to kill him myself). It struck me how completely different everything was now, that this trip to Whole Foods, which I used to do once or twice a week without thinking, was now something I did carefully and nervously. I saw fear in the faces of the other shoppers. They wore masks and gloves and scurried around the store trying to make their trip as short as possible. Shopping has turned into a round of Russian Roulette.

Gratitude goes to those employees who are risking their lives (sounds dramatic, but bizarrely it is not) to keep their own families, but also ours, fed. Stay safe and be grateful to the essential workers and of course, to our incredibly brave medical professionals, and um, if you go, try not to cry in the Whole Foods.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2093: the needful

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It’s funny how the things you feel gratitude for can change from day-to-day. Last year, it was a lux hotel room, an ancient Italian town made of caves, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, truffle pasta. Now I’d be so grateful for a heaping helping of broccoli, a mani/pedi, a massage, a banana (I am craving bananas. What does that mean? Do you crave bananas during times of pandemic?) I’d be particularly grateful for the president to shut his big, stupid mouth (Well, that’s always been on my gratitude list, so I guess some things never change).

COVID-19 has turned our lives into an episode of the Twilight Zone (Ohmygod, I am still, to this day, completely terrified by the one with the monster on the wing of a plane…). This is day 13 of our family quarantine and I feel like I should get the Nobel Peace Prize for not murdering my family. There, I said it. This is not easy. None of us are at our best, including me. We’ve had some laughs, too, but really I’m pretty sure the outside was created so we wouldn’t have to stay inside with our families. 

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Does anybody remember this episode? It was called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet and it aired in 1963. (No wonder it stuck with me–I was five)!

In my yoga class, when you have to take props to do a pose because of an injury, or chronic issue, the teacher calls it “doing the needful.” That’s what we all need to do right now, the needful. What can make your day better? What can you spy with your little eye that you can feel gratitude for? Do that. I mean, of course, within the boundaries of social distancing, but do that. Sit your hiney down and meditate (I love 10% Happier). Clean something that’s been annoying you. Reach out to your friends and your neighbors and people you don’t even know (I’ve started saying hi to everyone when I’m taking a walk or walking the dog, even though I’m also crossing the street from them at the same time to maintain a six-foot distance). Take a nap. Turn off the news. Listen to the birds chirp, text your friends funny memes until they beg you to stop, notice the buds on the trees and the flowers starting to grow (they’ve never looked better). Take a hot bath, talk a walk, sit on your porch with your eyes open to the sun. Look through old pictures (from when the world was normal–it will be again).

It’s mental institution-grade crazy right now.  And it’s scary. But you owe to yourself and those around you to keep the ship afloat. Do what you need to do to get through this day with gratitude. Be kind to yourself and others, think about what you’re grateful for as you go through your (endless) day, laugh, and do the needful. Purell hugs and kisses from here.

pandemicatude-a-thon day 2092: gratitude can help

 

There are kids in the neighborhood screaming and riding scooters and playing basketball like everything is normal. I watch them whiz by my window with all that anything-is-possible-ness, big smiles, adventurous eyes. I like hearing them because it reminds me that things used to be normal and that they will be again.  “Go faster,” one of them implores.

I wake up in the morning and remind myself that I will not be doing anything I usually do. I have to blink a few times to remember that we are in quarantine and the only time I will go out today will be to go for a walk with a friend and take my dog out. Otherwise, we are home, on lockdown. My husband has just gone off some medicine that makes him immunosuppressed and we’re not sure when his immunity will show back up to protect him, so we’re protecting him and really, everybody else we know. Because that’s the thing, you might be just fine if you get CO-VID 19, but you might pass it on to someone who will die. I am known for my hyperbole, but this is no exaggeration. People are going to die, mostly older people and those with underlying conditions, but make no mistake, they will not be able to fight this ugly monster that’s come to visit.

The government can’t seem to get it right, except for Anthony Fauci, who if you listen carefully to will make you want to get under your covers with a bottle of tequila. Trump is literally talking out of both sides of his mouth. He has not prepared the country for this new visitor and he can’t put up a wall that will stop it, so he’s pretending it’s nothing. He sounds like he’s doing an imitation of Alec Baldwin doing an imitation of him. He has become useless without his big crowds to cheer him on. It’s being revealed in real time what a preposterously bad leader (and person — the “Chinese” virus) he is. Him and his “tremendous” 15-word vocabulary. Yeah, we’re in really good hands with Dr. Trump.

But there are crocuses coming up in my garden. And although it snowed yesterday morning, winter is mostly gone now. I cleaned out my sock drawer! My yoga class went Zoom yesterday and it was fun! I was on a group chat last night and we all started dancing together and more importantly, laughing and feeling connected. And yesterday, my daughter got her LSAT score and she did well! We celebrated like she had become the first female president. I mean, when the chips are down and you get a win, you have to make the most of it. We went full-on candles and wine, mini-banner, sit down dinner (ok, it was leftover chicken and a killer fried rice, in which I used all of our carrots and celery and the last of our onions :(, but you can’t waste food when you don’t know when you’ll be able to get to the grocery store again.

These are pretty terrifying times. But I implore you to seek out the things there are to be grateful for. Because they exist and they are what will help us to maintain some sanity, some hope. At some point, this will be over, but what it will have done to each of us and to our world, may be life-altering. Use gratitude as a protective shield to the crazy around you. It can’t prevent the virus, but it can prevent you from forgetting what’s good in your life.

Ok, now, go wash your hands.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2091: international women’s day: Elizabeth

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I have been buried in work. When you are a freelance writer, sometimes you are slow and sometimes you are so busy, you see the alphabet doing Riverdance while you sleep.

The world is pretty crazy right now. The Cornona Virus (I cannot help feeling sorry for the beer because people are actually linking it with the virus and not buying it, which is impossible to believe, but true–are they the same people who support Trump, I wonder), forcing us to cancel a big fun trip at the end of the month, make a part-time job of finding Purell (I went to 11 drugstores so far and only found a tiny travel size, two small natural sprays and two sanitizing hand wipes IN ELEVEN STORES and finally getting price gauged on Amazon in an effort to stay clean), sing Happy Birthday twice while washing my hands 308 times a day (my neighbors are starting to complain because HAVE. YOU. EVER. HEARD. ME. SING?), stock up on non-perishable foods (because who wants to be hungry if you have to self-quarantine, or worse yet, if you actually get sick, NOT ME), and worry about my husband who is immunosuppressed because of an arthritis drug he takes. And of course, there is the shocking Super Tuesday results to ponder, with Biden as Jesus on Easter. Plus my candidate Elizabeth Warren dropping out, despite being the all-around best choice for prez, but um, she has a vagina. Yup. lots of tumult and things to think about.

But, while getting my hair dyed the other day (awe, that’s cute that you thought my hair at age 61 was naturally brown), I went next door to the salon, to one of my favorite places to eat in Brookline, Drive By Pies, (yes, with the dye on my hair, looking like a dementia patient who escaped the stylist’s chair while they were in the bathroom), where the owner Fran, makes not just the best and pie-iest pies, but also the most spectacular chicken salad on the planet earth and about a million other addictive and delectable treats, and is also a tremendously nice person,  I met this amazing woman and she reminded me of all the good out there, despite the fact that the world currently seems like a global Cirque du Soleil.

She had a red one of those wheelie walker things and she was going into Drive By Pies before me and so I held the door open for her, of course. She thanked me as if nobody had ever done that for her before. As I was ordering, she turned her wheelie walker thing into a chair, propping herself in front of the vast array of pastries and muffins in the glass case, like she was watching Wheel of Fortune  (she later told me she just loved the game shows). Meanwhile, Fran said, “Either you dye your hair a lot or I don’t dye mine enough,” because I always go in for lunch when I’m dying, which is every three gosh darn weeks, which made me look over at the adorable woman viewing the pastries and point to my head to let her know she wasn’t hallucinating and yes I did have hair dye on. “I dye every three weeks,” I said to Fran. “And my family has been informed that when I die, they are to make sure to dye my hair before I am going wherever I am going next,” I said, to which the wheelie walker lady said, “You’re not going to die. You’re too young. I’m 92 and going strong.” And she was. This itty bitty gray-haired woman with the bluest eyes and beautiful skin dotted with freckles was totally with it and appeared to be strong as an ox, although she did list all the physical maladies she’s endured over the years with a “who cares” attitude. Fran told me that Elizabeth, which turned out to be the wheelie walker lady’s name,  gave talks to schools and synagogues about living in Germany during the time of Hitler. And then Elizabeth piped in and told me how she lost her whole family during that time. “Oh, yes, I want people to know what happened so it can’t happen again. We’ve got a nut in the white house, you know.” I told her how great she looked and how I impressed I was that she gave these talks and then I told her about Peter’s dad who’s dad escaped from a Camp and brought Peter’s dad here at age 6, where he wound up in a foster home. She listened thoughtfully. She then told me about her husband dying from dementia in his late 70’s and how men just don’t live as long as we do (she whispered this as if we were in a room full of men and she didn’t want them to know this) and how she stays in the game by thinking positive and tells people when they complain about rain to take an umbrella. And then she told me that she thought all the time about all she had to be grateful for! Ah ha! She knew about gratitude. There you have it. And then she told me she was grateful she’d met me! Then she made me laugh a few more times and I told her about this blog and we said we’d hoped we’d see each other again. And I meant it.

Today is International Woman’s Day and this is just one of the hundreds of women who inspire me. I meet new ones all the time–old, young, short, tall, all colors, all denominations. And I am so grateful to take something from them that enriches me, makes me better.

I’m so grateful for the chance encounter that allowed me to meet Elizabeth the Extraordinary. Meeting a woman as engaged as she was, with purpose and a great sense of humor at 92 is kind of rare. I realized that I had met her because she was showing me the way. Me in my hair dye and her with her wheelie walker. I am always on the lookout for people who can inspire my future, let me know that getting old can be ok. That day, it was Elizabeth. Gratitude. Lots and lots of gratitude to that feisty lady (with a side of chicken salad and big slab of pie).

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2090: political perspective: The Cave & Honeyland

 

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The political situation has been disturbing, scary and other-worldly lately. Just when you think it can’t get weirder, it overperforms like the lead in a grammar school play.

So, yesterday I watched two documentaries that reminded me that while there is evil in the world, there is also good. There are also people who are just plain amazing, that fortify your belief in humanity.

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The Cave is about an underground hospital in Syria, where war jets and bombing are a way of life. It follows a 30-year-old pediatrician, Dr. Amani Ballour who has earned the right as a woman (in a place where women are to be seen and not heard) to not only work alongside a tough but tender male surgeon who anesthetizes his ravaged patients with classical music from his iPhone, but also to head up the bare bones hospital which struggles with no supplies and makeshift accommodations. The superheroes who work with her to save terrified children and adults who are living in a hell even having Trump as president doesn’t compare to (there, don’t say I never said anything nice about that man) are doing the impossible, but they persist. It is a bleak movie, but at the same time it filled me with the reminder that things could be worse and even when they are bad, there will always be people who rise, people who invest, people who show up in a full and loving way.

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Honeyland is an extraordinarily gorgeous movie about Hatidze Muratova, a 55-year-old woman who lives with her bedridden 85-year-old mother, dog, and three cats, in a small hut without electricity or running water in the desolate,  unforgiving, but physically beautiful mountains of Northern Macedonia. She is a master beekeeper, in the old tradition, respecting the process and the bees to make her meager living. She walks or takes a bus 12 miles to the nearest city to sell her natural honey. You see rather quickly that this woman has an open and optimistic heart. But there goes the neighborhood when in moves, a noisy herd of a family who has seven children to feed with their cattle and loud machinery hoping to farm the land. At first Hatidze embraces the company, takes joy in the children and shares not only her great warmth and openness but also her brandy and beekeeping expertise. But selfishly, Hussein, father of the wild bunch, with mouths to feed, takes to making honey himself. And the story unfolds as to how his gross disrespect for the land kills Hatidze’s bees and thus her livelihood and turns on him, so that he is left without cattle, or bees and must move his family on. We then see Hatidze explore her loneliness, what could have been and the fate of her mother. It is a heart wrenching, but lovely tale and I defy you not to want to go and bring Hatidze and her animals to your home to pamper for the rest of their lives.

If you’ve become particularly pained by politics, I feel you. We all have to do what we can, but also remember to use some perspective. Gratitude to these extraordinary documentaries about people who live lives that matter. Just knowing they exist help me to see a bigger picture of humanity (and right now, that is exactly what I need).

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2089: Oscar, the best, the worst and the what WAS Kristen Wigg wearing

Here we are again with your host, an opinionated fashion no-nothing who considers getting dressed up a pair of jeans with some slamming accessories, but nonetheless loves to Judge Judy what the rich and famous wear to big fancy events.  Of course, it’s not entirely true that I’m without any fashion training. After all, I did grow up in the gang dressing rooms at Loehmann’s in Westport, CT, the first off-price designer store where my mom shopped like a professional, bagging bargain after designer bargain on a pretty regular basis. So, there’s that. I’ve been obsessed with clothes ever since. But enough about me, let’s talk about them.

The worst, the ridiculous, the entirely without mirrors in their houses:

 

Kristen Wiig(ed Out)

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I’m pretty sure Kristen was shopping on Amazon after a long day on the set, or a long hit of some really good Setiva and got lost in the kitchen section, as one does, and then her stylist just happened to call about her Oscar dress inspiration and, well, you see what happened here.

 

Sandra Oh NO. 

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Somebody call 911 and hope the crew from Gray’s Anatomy can come and drug Dr. Yang back into reality. What’s with the Mariachi sleeves, the prom gown bottom, with a bow? All I can say is no. Prescription: get yourself a new stylist, stat.

Tamron Holy Hall

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She borrowed this from the Pope. He couldn’t be there last night.

America(n Hippie) Ferrera

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All she needed was to hold up two fingers in a peace sign and I’d have sworn we were in the Woodstock era. The mother earth vibe works for the pregnancy, but not for the Oscars. Hey, America, the 60’s called and they want their headband back.

Billie Ei(hate this) lish

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She’s cool. She’s fucking super cool. But Because because I love to see a woman’s shape, because nails that are this long are just dumb, because I hate a head-to-toe designer look, because green hair reminds me of a blonde who spent too much time in the pool, it gives me no pleasure, but this is a gargantuan Nuh uh.  Call me old. I am, but for me, this is Chanel Hell.

Laura Dern it, this is ugly.

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She knew she was going to win (and although I think she’s brilliant, I did not think this was a worthy performance), so could we have not done just a little better here and gotten out of the lampshade department at Frederick’s of Hollywood?  And that matronly hair was perfect for a ladies’ lunch, but not the Oscars or this God-awful dress.

Orange you glad you didn’t have to wear this on national television?

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Maya Rudolph said, comfort is everything this year, damn it, and grabbed a bedsheet from her daughter’s tangerine themed sparkle room and off she went. Either that or this is an homage to the orange one in the White House.

Little Woman, Bad Dress.

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Saoirse is adorable and talented AF, but what’s black and white and ugly all over. Yup, you got it.

I Crown you the worst (not really, but it’s pretty damn bad).

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Queen Elizabeth would never. And Olivia shouldn’t have either. The whole sleeve situation is just stupid. No wonder Harry and Megan left the royal family.

And the girls who slam-dunked it.

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In the category of age-defying and you’ve got style, Thelma done good last night. I absolutely loved this incredibly simple, but perfect number. Geena is 64, by the way, but I’m giving her a 10.

The Marriage (of style and beauty) Story

Scarlett has had some fab dresses this award season, but this winner takes all. From the creamy dreamy fabric, to the absolutely ideal fit, this double nominee was the queen of the carpet.

Natalie PortMAN is this good.

As if this dress wasn’t gorgeous enough, she had the names of the snubbed female directors of 2020 embroidered onto the coat of her ensemble. Integrity and style. Girl power.

Penelope Cruz(es) down the carpet like a boss.

I wished this dress either had the flower or the bow, but not both, however I couldn’t take my eyes off of the silhouette, the hair, the whole of this look.

Look who just Brie(ezed) in.

Effortless, but was perfectly Oscar-worthy. Brie’s a total style star.

I hate yellow, I love this dress.

Mindy doesn’t always get it right, but despite being a color I hate, she sold this dress The fit was just perfect and who’s going to argue over that necklace or hair not being exactly right. The Mindy Project: both thumbs up.

Zazie Can’t Beetz This.

I absolutely loved this dress. I heard her say she was sewn in to it, and if I were her I’d just wear it until it falls off.

I used to love her, now I just love her dresses.

I was a mad Rene Zellweger fan, back in the day (Think “You complete me”, Jerry Maguire). but she lost me this award season. Spacey, with a heavy Southern drawl I never heard before, I am no longer so much of a fan, but her style is impeccable (and her Judy performance was too). Ok, so is her bod and she is making the best of it in this figure-flattering white number. This is a girl who definitely knows how to dress.

Ok, so what did you think? Tell me everything. I promise not to judge (haha, I’d never promise that)!