gratitude-a-thon day 2034: what you give, what you get, happy mother’s day

Happy Mother’s Day Gratitude-a-thoners! Wherever you are, whoever you take care of, today is your day, although isn’t it obvious everyday should be your day, but you get this one, so you know, make do (classic mom stuff right there).

My path to becoming a mom was like a road you drive on right before they make the real road, that bumpy thing they lay down. Yeah, that. Plus add some major speed bumps along the route, the kind there are no warning signs for and that sends your head for a ride to the roof, and makes your stomach lurch. There were all sorts of detours, yield signs, do not enter areas, bridges over troubled water, and damn it, a series of endless red lights that seemed to be the length of the Eastern seaboard.

Then one day, after three years, it all ended, and i took the exit ramp onto the superhighway of mommydom. Yes, I took the long way around, but then, shazam, kids.

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This guy made me a mom. I’ll never forget it. Any of it. I love him madly.

And I gotta say, it has been one of the most spectacular, challenging, gorgeous, complicated and amazing endeavors I could dream up. Wow, holy shit, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding and sweet-baby-Jesus all rolled into one. That’s being a mom. You are simultaneously giving everything you have, while getting like seven PhDs in living. Not even Harvard could teach you what you learn when you become a mother.

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For a long time it seemed I would never have one child, let along two. But I got lucky. Here’s number two. Oh, what she’s taught me. I love every inch of her.

One of the major tenets of being a mom is giving. You’re giving all day (and night) long. You make The Giving Tree look like a slacker. The balancing act you must participate in between how much to give and how much to keep for ourselves as moms is performed on thread. It is a delicate little situation.

But here’s what I’ve found. When you give of yourself, you get something far beyond exhausted. It’s in giving that we find ourselves. It’s in the giving that meaning is found.

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This is my mom in her happy place, on the Cape. God, she loved the beach, and me. She was a giver. A superior giver. I miss her every single day. But boy am I grateful to have had her as my mommy salami.

I almost missed this chaotic journey. It could have easily happened. But I think I was a mom long before I got pregnant, protecting the idea of having a family with everything I had (one working tube, some of the best doctors and a big dose of hope). I have given a lot. Maybe sometimes too much. But what I’ve received in return, not from my kids, but because of my kids has made me a better, more grateful person.

Happy mother’s day, all you mothers. I see you.



gratitude-a-thon day: hallelujah for modern medicine’s magic

Who would ever think the worst part of having a total shoulder replacement would be heartburn. But that’s what’s going on over here. Peter went into the hospital at 5:45 on Tuesday morning and came home with a brand new shoulder just 8 1/2 hours later. A whole new body part and you don’t even stay over night!

Eating some pasta a few hours after having surgery. (This probably contributed to the heartburn, but it was really good going down!)

He had a nerve block, so he was feeling no pain when he got home, and we were all really happy about that. But 18 hours later, the nerve block’s expiration date, still no pain. What woke him up yesterday morning was heartburn. Like, really bad heartburn. We quickly realized the mandatory 325 msg of Aspirin, given to prevent blood clots, was probably the culprit. He got it under control, and we even took off the sling to have a little sponge bath and to change clothes, and still no pain. Until last night when he got that heartburn again. Remedied by all the classics like Tums and Prilosec and a bread my neighbor made us that has made my list of “The Top 10 Things I Want In My Mouth At The Time Of Death. But shoulder pain? Nope.

The fighter. He has been in so much massive pain for the last 6 months, it’s just amazing to see him feeling better, even right after being cut open.

i have been having some trouble with my hip for several months and it appears I’m probably feeling more pain than a man who just got a body part replaced! Gratitude for medical science. I mean really, you just gotta love the idea that long ago, my husband would have had no choice but to learn to live with pain and impairment. Say whatever you want about surgeons always wanting to do surgery, but boy, when you need it, it’s like real life magic.

Oscar-a-tude-a-thon: We’re back

Maybe it’s because I’m all vaccinated, or maybe because it’s just time, but I’ve come here to resume my role as resident fashion critic of the Oscars. Who better than someone who’s scarcely been out of yoga pants in a year and is currently, as I write, wearing flannel pajamas with dogs on them.

It was a weird show, with none of the jokes, pomp and circumstance or fun that’s usually playing out on Hollywood’s uber (means very, not a car service) big night. The red carpet was hardly even a thing on ABC. They kept making us watch the nominated songs instead of making the stars tell us what they were wearing? Awe, c’mon, we came for good time.

Once inside the small venue (I’ve been in bigger restaurants), things got serious pretty fast, while Regina King’s open focused on our weird year and the George Floyd verdict. And that’s pretty much how it went–intros to the awards were little bios of each nominee and how they got interested in their craft. At this point, I was longing for the disaster that was Rob Lowe at the opening of the Oscars 1989 (Snow White was involved).

Let’s get on with it.

You’re the worst.

  1. what the Halle did you do to your hair?

The thing is, I like this dress. In another color it would be one of my favorites, but this hair is so profoundly bad and off and all things horrible that I couldn’t get past it to even THINK about the dress. Once when one I was little, one of my neighborhood friends didn’t feel good (at age 6) she went into the bathroom and had her hand on her forehead because she felt so hot and got so bored in there during her epic stomach ache, she took scissors and cut her bangs above where her hand had been and that’s what I feel might have happened here. Did you get bored int he bathroom, Halle? Or did you run into a lawn mower, or did you let one of your kid cut your hair, or one of your enemies. Anyway, this just goes to show the power of hair, because I think Halle is one of the most beautiful women in the world and even she couldn’t pull off this little Dutch Boy bob.

2. Andra Did you realize what Day it was?

So, I subscribe to the Nora Ephron “Put on a bikini and don’t take it off til you’re 35,” theory, so you know, this girl’s body is amazeballs and she should enjoy that thing, because later on, well, things go to shit. So, everything’s good, with the whole midriff thing, it’s just the ass cheek being three sheets to the wind that’s the problem. If there was just a whole skirt there at the bottom, the top would have flown, and I’d have loved it.

3. Laura Dern skirts the issue.

So, is this an hommage to Bjork’s swan dress? Did she have on a simple black clingy number,and ran into an ostrich on the way to the show? Is she wearing a skirt of white fluffy cats (everybody loves a cat)? It’s kind of mystifying how wrong this looks. And it’s time to cut your silly hair, Laura, which looks like a wig, but which I know is your own beautiful and thick hair, but this do is so done.

4. Glenn Close, but no cigar (for the eighth time)

The thing here is that Glenn’s face looks so good, which it doesn’t always. From her head up, things are fab, but from the neck down, we got problems. Was this really supposed to be an Indian sari, because that would have been really gorgeous, but instead this just looks like a gown that has no relation to the pants, except that they are both fabric.

5. Erica RiviNOja.

This is like, a perfectly nice dress, but then it’s like someone put a bib on her because she was about to have lobster. I think this is a plausible story, because she’s carrying a shrimp handbag,

And the good ones.

  1. Carey Mulligan, more than a promising young woman.

Oh, the perfection, the sheer and utter amazingness of this crazy good blend of modern (bandeau) and ballgown (big ol’ skirt). I absolutely adore this whole look. And I’m guessing the color and iridescence in person was probably bananas.

2. Zendaya looks like $6 million.

Yellow always catches your eye, but what about this look doesn’t? I love the proportion of the dress with her long hair, too. And she has on $6 mil in diamonds. And, something you just can’t plan for, the wind kept catching her, making this whole situation even dreamier.

3. Regina King. The strut, not the dress.

So, Queen King began the whole proceeding with a walk from outside to in with an Oscar in her hand. It wasn’t actually a walk, it was a strut. To music. And she did it so perfectly, I put her on the best dressed list, because of it. I love the fabric, and the way the light hit this blue number, but I hated the Sister Bertrille sleeves, because I thought she could easily fly away at any moment.

4. LA’s Union Station

Sadly I cannot find a better picture of the way Union Station was decked out last night, but it was all sorts of stunning. Every tree was covered in fresh flowers and there were lots of paper lanterns hanging all over. The effect was a high class drug induced grandeur. I loved it. I’m sure hoping when I die this is the heaven I go to.

gratitude-a-thon day 2031: medical miracles

In the next few weeks things are going to change around here. I am getting my second vaccine next Monday, Ally is getting her first. My son, who’s already gotten his one and done J&J and hopefully because he does not have a vajayjay, he will not be subject to blood clots, will be home in 8 days and my husband, my husband will be getting a brand new shoulder in 11 days.

I have been having some hip issues, which I will be getting imaged for next week. You know how in college they have different houses for kids to live in–the music house, the soccer house, the poetry house–we over here, are the orthopedic house, um, yeah. The lot of us have had more ortho issues than ER, Scurbs and Grey’s Anatomy put together. But, ah, thank God for modern medicine.

I am ridiculously grateful for all the scientists and every single medical person who has missed breakfast, lunch, and dinner for months on end to make vaccines that are helping us out of this pandemic. If you haven’t gotten one yet, please consider it a must-have. We need to lift ourselves up and out of this craziness and that little shot wlll allow that to happen. And whoever created a shoulder replacement, well you are bananas amazing and I am more thankful than the alphabet has words for.

Yup, things are going to change around here in the next few weeks. More freedom, less pain, and new body parts. I’m ready.

gratitude-a-thon day 2031: where the wild things are

I am a flower junkie. The more the merrier. So for me, spring is a kid in a candy store kaleidoscope of mood enhancing drugs. When my dog and I hit the neighborhood every morning, I get to monitor what’s happening in the plant world. Who is crazy enough to take the risk to put out window boxes and containers during this unpredictable weather time of year (me), where the magnolias are (out), how many battalions of daffodils there are, heads held high, rooting for the sun to come out and warm them like the heat lamps I see in so many patios that helped keep us social through the winter months of the pandemic.

I keep tabs on what’s about to bloom, where the natural world in our little corner of the world is at. It buoys me to know that no matter how harsh the winter might have been, the flowers come alive again, up and out from black soil, pushing aside dead brown leaves to make themselves known, to say brightly, loudly, “I’m still here.”

Pansies peeking through.
Look at that red against that sky. Swoon.
So delicate and star-like.
Pink and blue.
Obvi not outside, but part of my Easter decorations. Ranunculus instead of eggs!
Magnolias. Always one of the first to bloom.
Daffodils. So sunny. So hearty.
Can you have too many flowers. Um, nope.

This year, more than any other, nature’s reliable rhythm, feels like a lifeline. We too are beginning to step our vaccinated selves out of our forced hibernation, dipping our ratty pedicures into the waters of an unknown new world, none of us quite certain how far we should go, how safe it is. This spring, watching the flowers bloom, the trees leaf up, it’s not just a celebration of the end of winter, but the beginning of a new part of the pandemic. Yes, we’re still in it, yes, we won’t be putting our masks away for a while, but yes, there is a distinct possibility that we may be a good way through this historical chapter. Or not. I don’t want to hear about the deadly and super contagious variants that might force us back down (but of course, I listen intently to the news on this). I want to believe that Covid will be a story we regale at parties and family gatherings. I want it to be the past. But whatever happens, whether we must crawl back into our shells or get to begin again soon, you know we’ll be like the spring flower crowd, we won’t give up. And as Arnold said in The Terminator, “We’ll be back.”

gratitude-a-thon day 2030: a shot in the arm

This past Friday at 1:04, I illegally parked in the South End and walked into the Boston Medical Center Building at 85 East Concord Street, where I greeted every person I saw with an “I am so excited!” before sitting down in a semi-open cubicle to have a nurse named Yonni give me a vaccine for Covid-19. I felt like someone bought me a Caribbean island filled with potato chips, there was another 10 seasons of Schitt’s Creek, a cure for cellulite and a scientific discovery that made a dog live exactly as long as its owner. Yup, that happy.

How to explain this year to an alien? I am still wandering around the feelings to be able to properly assess. I used to try and write about infertility when I was going through it, but I could never nail down the immensity, the soul searing, just-out-of-reach dream that was so everyday casual for everyone else. It took me at least a decade to communicate anything close to the experience of those three years. And I suspect it will take me at least a few years to properly capture the effects of this pandemic.

Later on Friday, I drove my husband to get his shot at a CVS in Cambridge, where he too was offered an exceptionally organized experience. We came home to our daughter having poured us shots of vodka, because she said, “shots required shots.” I couldn’t argue, even though I have taken, perhaps five shots in my life’s entirety to date. I mean, if ever you’re going to celebrate, it should be when you’re getting a vaccine that can save your life. And after all, they did tell me to hydrate.

My arm hurt quite a lot in the night, so I popped some Tylenol. It hurt even more on Saturday, which was basically a bust of a day, where I did a few errands and then napped and planted myself in front of the tv. I was tired. My husband had no symptoms at all. Sunday my arm hurt less and yesterday, it was barely a memory. And as far as the vaccine being painful, I actually didn’t think they’d put it in, when they said “done.”

There’s talk of another surge, which I can barely take in. I know how lucky I am to be part of vaccination nation. It seems like they are really flowing now and that there will be enough for everybody who wants one, which I wish was everyone, but is not. I am so beyond the rainbow grateful for this shot in the arm. Thank you science. Thank you Joe Biden (talk about a shot in the arm).

gratitude-a-thon day 2029: sun, snow and unbridled happiness

Just that little bit of Spring last Thursday, and my head was spinning with getting out the patio cushions and buying some plants and where are my flip flops. Just those warm temperatures got me in a high-as-a-kite mood. And then yesterday, I was getting my nails done (and yes, I get my nails done at a very safe salon with loads of Covid accommodations) I looked out the window and let out an audible scream. I mean audible as in the entire neighborhood probably heard me and since the salon is close to the police station, it wouldn’t have surprised me if a few on duty officers came storming in thinking there was some sort of robbery or mayhem that needed addressing. There it was, predictable as Tucker Carlson saying some absurd lie, snow in March. At first it was just a few rogue flurries, but then it became absolute blizzard conditions. BLIZZARD. CONDITIONS. By the time I walked home without socks on, mind you, it was light snow, and by the time I walked up my steps (all of a 2 minute walk from the salon), the sun was out. And so it goes in New England. You’d think I’d be used to this by now. But no, I’m still like Jack-in-the-box surprised.

Anyway, my point here is that just that one warm, bright, 65 degree weather sent my spirits soaring to Mars with that Rover thing. So, imagine how happy we’ll all be when the weather warms up for real and more and more people get vaccinated and the Covid restrictions start to loosen up. It might just be a happiness we’ve never even known before. And that is something to look forward to. That there is some gratitude that might just be unprecedented.

gratitude-a-thon day 2027: failure of imagination

After 9/11 happened, I remember reading how the Pentagon assembled a bunch of Hollywood writers and directors in a secret building in L.A, to brainstorm what future terror attacks could look like. They were told to think of the craziest, most off-the-wall ideas possible. Because what the Pentagon realized, which was referred to as the “failure of imagination” theory, was that nobody in government had the imagination to have even considered an attack like an enemy using a plane as a weapon.

At the time, this just fascinated me–this “failure of imagination” theory. I became obsessed by what we weren’t imagining and made my brain work overtime. But even though I thought of dozens and dozens of horrific events–some so diabolical and easy to pull off I thought I must have lived life as torturer and spy in a past life, when last March, we started quarantine for a killer virus on the loose, a pandemic was not on my list of crazy shit. Which brings me to my major point here.

WHAT ELSE COULD BE COMING DOWN THE ROAD THAT WE’RE NOT THINKING OF?

And so, in between what is right now, and what has been for the past year (and on March 13, it will be a full year that we’ve basically been in quarantine, which is WHAT? How?), and what is an unknown future, I am going to try and embrace with full attention and gratitude, those things that I used to take for granted, and which I have missed like I miss my mom. I’m going to grab those first spring days in New England that always make me feel pure possibility, and when we can safely go to a restaurant, I’m going to listen for the beginning quiet that turns into a low buzz of laughing and talking and sipping and forks and knives hitting plates, because that sound is not just about nourishing one’s self with food, but with company. And while I always have had reverence for the way flowers sprout from cold hard soil, after a long hard winter (and by the way, any New England winter, no matter how mild, is cold and hard to me and this one was colder and harder, I’ll tell you) I may just genuflect as they petal up in their colorful clothing. I will hold the sound of a crowded beach as dear as the sound of the waves biting the shore. I will stop complaining about crowded airport lines, trying to hide my giddiness at the act of getting on a plane flight to somewhere foreign and exciting–to travel again. And I will not hold back my unadulturated joy in the ability to hug the people I love and sit with them wherever I please to talk about how much we’ve missed one another, how starved we’ve been for each.

Because as fertile as my imagination is (and I get paid for thinking of ideas, don’t forget) I know that I don’t know anything. I know that something worse could occur in the future and until then, (and hopefully there is no then), I don’t want to miss a thing.

gratitude-a-thon day 2026: not the red carpet roundup

So, there was an award show on last night–The Golden Globes. Usually I would be knee deep in fashin’trashin’ by now, but since people are dying everyday, and we’re still smack inside of an ongoing pandemic, I didn’t feel like it was ok to be mean to anybody (unless it was Donald Trump). So, if you were thinking I was going to say that Cynthia Erivo’s Nickelodeon slime-colored space age Valentino was so awful that I’d rather take my dog’s used poop bags and knit them together to make a dress than don that mess, or that Emma Corrin’s send in the clowns mime dress made Princess Di die again, or that Anya Taylor-Joy checkmated everyone in her slinky and sublime Dior and Veronica Lake hair, or that I could actually feel the silk through the tv of Elle Fanning’s slithery Tiffany blue Gucci, I’m not. Hoping next year will be different. So, until then.

What I will say is that I saw Nomadland this past weekend and it deserved to win because wow, and wow and this is a story everyone should see. The authenticity factor was extraordinary and while Frances McDormand was exceptional, I was also wildly impressed with the people who were not actors and actually lived the life they were portraying.

Movies that entertain are good fun, and Lord knows I’ve been relying on them throughout this pandemic, but movies that can teach you something, that leave me with a lesson, something to think about, or much smarter, are the ones that win for me.

Gratitude for entertainment, in all forms. without it, this pandemic would have been a lot worse and a lot longer-feeling than the 1,289,409 years it’s felt like.