- Bright Lights (the Todd Fisher doc about Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher) was incredibly touching and funny and warm and shows them in such a sweet and honest and private light. If you were shaken by their deaths, this will probably undo you.
- Speaking of being undone, I can predict my cycle almost to the minute based solely on my comfort in my own skin. Tonight on the couch, I had to shake my arms and legs just to settle myself down. A couple of hours later? Yep.
- Speaking of comfort in one’s own skin, The Who reports that when he “has a naked belly” (aka is shirtless) he often feels itchy or “tickly.” Could it be because he doesn’t have even the tiniest layer of fat between all his nerve endings and the environment?
- Speaking of naked bellies, The Who’s basketball team played a “shirts and skins” scrimmage at practice last week. It was so old-school and the kids (those that chose to be “skins” anyway) loved it. The skins team kind of sucked in the scrimmage, though. Presumably because they were giddy about being half naked in school.
- Speaking of school, my new teaching term starts Monday. I am not excited, but also not dreading it. I don’t loathe my job the way I did a year or so ago. I still wish I made more money doing what I earned degrees to do, but I also am much more appreciative of the time this job gives me — time to organize political workshops, participate in anarchist marches, and help 8-year-olds master their math facts.
- Speaking of math, The Who has been complaining about it lately. Saying that it’s too boring. I was a little surprised because one of the things his teacher talked about in his conference was this special math enrichment book that he had to work on when he had buzzed through whatever the class was working on. But, The Who reports that he almost never has time to work on it because he has to go at the pace of the class. “Follow along on the SMART board, do two problems, wait, get them checked, follow along more, do two more, wait, get them checked, etc.” And by the time they’re done with that, math is over. I’m hoping this isn’t always the case. He did tell us that he and one other girl in his class are doing a special reading project with their teacher — almost like a mini book club, reading How to Eat Fried Worms and then meeting with the teacher during reading time to discuss it. So, there’s that.
- Speaking of reading, I’m glad that The Who’s getting a little more into reading lately. It seemed like maybe he was going to be a kid who never picked up a book for pleasure, but the tide seems to be turning on that, especially since we are reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child together every night — complete with assuming characters and using our best British accents.
- Speaking of British accents…. nah, I’m going to bed.
This is the second year that The Who will attempt (and probably achieve) midnight. The precedent was set last year and there’s no going back. Truthfully, I like ringing in the new year with him, even all wired and tired as he will be.
My hopes for 2017 are low, even though I find it hard to believe that a year could be worse than this one.
One foot in front of the other. Happy New Year, friends. Hopefully.
One hundred year ago, on this day, a baby was born. The youngest of four siblings — the only girl. A loyal wife, a straight-shooter, a firm believer in etiquette and respect.
I simultaneously feel like I knew my grandmother very well while also not knowing her at all. For all the advancements in science, there is still no invention that would allow me, at 42 years old, to reap the benefits of the wisdom of my grandmother.
For almost all of my life, I lived within a half hour of her house. In part, I chose our current synagogue because the sanctuary there has a faint olfactory reminder of my grandmother’s bottom floor den.
She always voted democratic, even when her husband disagreed with her. She was content to let their votes cancel one another out instead of voting his way. She worked well past typical retirement age. She drove around in a ’79 Chrysler LeBaron, which she sold to me for $1 in 1992 — with only 13, 000 miles on it. She took me shopping for birthday gifts at “Fleens” and ended each day with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream.
She died in 2010, having really slipped out of herself a year before that. She met my son a handful of times — held him and talked to him. He remembers her only from stories now, but there was a brief several months when she was an active memory for him. He loves her because I love her. He knows her only from what I know of her, which lately, has not seemed like nearly enough.
During the election, she was omnipresent for me. How she would have loved to have seen a woman get elected. In the months before it, I was so often sad that she would miss it — the same way I was sad that my grandfather didn’t live long enough to see his beloved Red Sox win the World Series in ’04. But then — when all hell broke loose on November 8th — I was glad she hadn’t had to get her hopes up only to see them dashed. I still have some time to see the glass ceiling shattered. She wouldn’t have, so maybe it’s better this way.
I keep thinking of the wisdom she could have gifted me during those long, rough days following the election. And still. She had a way of looking at things that was practical and matter-of-fact, while still being compassionate and honest. At 42 years old, I am in a better place to receive those gifts than I was when she was alive and well. As a teenager, a young woman, a young mother, I didn’t seek her out as often as I could have. I didn’t need her then the way I need her now. I think of her all the time and wish that I could have been 42 when she was 80 and in her prime, with all of her lived experience behind her and still over a decade yet to come.
Today, she would have turned 100 years old. We would have celebrated with chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate everything. She would have insisted that she was only 95 and she would have been so happy to have us all around her, which was her favorite thing in the world.
The Who’s pediatrician is sick. This isn’t news to us and I’ll ask for your forgiveness ahead of time because I have a feeling that this post will end up making me sound like I am blaming her for having cancer. Or forgetting that she and her family are really the ones who are suffering. Neither of those things is true. This is, however, the second time that we’ve been blindsided by her absence. I blame her staff for not caring for her patients by letting us know what is going on. But also — I blame myself for needing so much care.
We’re flying by the seat of our pants doing this whole parenting thing. M* and I have good instincts and we’re relatively practiced after 8 years of keeping The Who alive. But everything he goes through — every stage, phase, growth spurt, struggle, success — is new. It’s the first time. We have one kid. Everything we’re doing is novel. Every time is a first time. And although I trust us and the choices we make, I really rely on the once-a-year check-in with someone who has known The Who since he was three years old. Someone who has seen him through stitches on his face, minor surgery, migraine headaches, allergies, and head colds. Someone who knows him. Who knows me. Who sat and talked to me about whether or not to send him to kindergarten early, who took what she knew about The Who and combined it with all that she knew about raising four children up through the same school system in the same town.
Even though technically, she takes care of him, she also takes care of me.
The Who — knock wood — is not a sick kid. We are incredibly lucky to be able to say that the only time we have had to step foot in his doctor’s office in the past twelve months was to get his annual flu shot. Most of his yearly visits are uneventful. She talks to him, examines him, checks in with me, and then sends us on our way. I rarely, if ever, have much that I need to talk to her about. This year, however, I had a growing list. Eight years old has brought with it a host of small concerns — none of them major, but each of them something new. Something I’m sure his doctor has seen before either in her own kids or the many patients she sees. I was desperate to get some insight into the things that m* and I seem to only be able to guess at and suppose about. I was imagining that his doctor might have a heart-to-heart with him the way that people who care for you do. Help him understand things that m* and I can’t seem to get to penetrate. I was eagerly awaiting this day.
I pulled The Who out of school early this afternoon, got us to the appointment on time, and as I was filling out some paperwork in the waiting room, I realized that I had heard many voices coming from the office, but none belonging to his doctor. I started to wonder. And that’s when I noticed the letter posted unceremoniously on the desk, thanking some other doctor for taking her place while she received treatment. Again, I do not blame her for having cancer. Obviously. And I don’t blame her for taking time off to take care of herself. I wouldn’t even blame her if she left the practice completely. But I do blame her for not insisting that her patients be kept in the loop. It’s 2016. We all have email. We all have telephones. The good ole USPS still works last I checked. If I had received a message or a letter or an email letting me know that my child’s primary care physician (who, by the way, works in a solo practice) would not be around, I’d have made a different appointment. I’d have waited for her. And instead of feeling like she didn’t care who saw her patients or how her patients felt about it (which I know is not the case) I’d have felt respected. Instead, I left the office without The Who being seen, tears prickling in my eyes. Disappointed, angry, frustrated, and actually? Actually, scared. Scared that cancer was going to barge into the middle of everything and steal away the only person I trusted to help guide us as we try to take care of our boy.
I hope she is ok. I hope she is getting the best treatment available and that she is going to recover and be well — for herself and for her family. I hope she is able to come back to work because I know that she really wants to. And in the meantime, we will wait, even though it may be the hardest thing for me to do.
It’s a little early, maybe, but…
The 2016 New Year’s Meme:
Did you do something you thought you would never do?
Cut my hair short!
Did you keep any New Year’s Resolutions?
I don’t recall making any. Every year, it’s basically the same: try to be kind, patient, and a little more disciplined.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. I think I am aging out of this question.
Did anyone close to you die?
My uncle died. I wouldn’t say we were particularly close, though.
Did you visit any countries outside the US?
Nope. I tried to get The Who to agree to do a week in Europe instead of a month in Boston this summer, but he wasn’t having it. Not yet, anyway.
What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
I’ve got pretty much everything I need. Maybe a more reliable migraine treatment? I’ll get on that this year.
Will any date from 2016 stay etched in your memory forever?
11/8/16. The day I lost all faith in humanity.
What was your biggest achievement of 2016?
Teaching Hebrew school. It doesn’t seem like it was that big of a deal on its own, but it’s helped me build the Jewish community that I have been looking for for a long time.
What was your biggest failure?
Not keeping my car clean.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major. A cold or two. A monthly migraine.
What was the best thing you bought in ’16?
The complete set of Harry Potter movies. Endless joy.
Did your behavior change over the year?
I think it’s constantly changing.
Where did you spend most of your money?
Right now, it feels like Hanukkah gifts, but I actually think we spent more on the month in Boston (including the house rental, airfare, my parents’ anniversary, and my cousin’s wedding.)
Are you happier than this time last year?
About the same, I think.
What song will remind you of 2016?
The Star Spangled Banner. The Who is so into it this year.
What do you wish you would have done more of?
Going to bed early.
What do you wish you would have done less of?
Wasting time, procrastinating, and beating myself up about wasting time and procrastinating.
What did/will you do for Christmas ’16?
We’ll be in Boston this year, joining into my brother’s family’s Christmas traditions.
Did you fall in love in 2016?
Did you get your heart broken in 2016?
Favorite TV programs of ’16?
Project Runway, Madam Secretary, Sister Wives, 90-Day Fiance, This is Us
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t hate anyone, but I am way less fond of a few people this year than I was last year.
What was the best book you read and/or movie you saw?
The books in the Harry Potter series continue to be my favorites. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople was my favorite in-theatre adult movie. Moana was my favorite kid movie.
What was your greatest discovery?
Figuring out that I could talk myself out of my anxiety. Or at least out of acting on it.
What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 42. I had breakfast with a friend, grabbed The Who early from school, and we spent the weekend with friends in Washington, DC.
What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A more professionally satisfying job and more money.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2016?
What was your greatest disappointment in 2016?
The election results.
Whose behavior merited celebration?
HRC’s. I continued to be amazed at how she kept her cool, maintained her stamina, and refused to go low through that whole shitshow.
Who was the best new person you met?
Who did you wish you did not meet?
Who was your best friend?
M* is my best friend. Kay, Lena, Kristen, Michelle, Sarah R., Cheryl, Stepho, and Sarah C. are my circle of closest friends.
Who was your enemy?
No enemies, but a few I could really do without.
Who do you miss?
I miss my grandmother more often. I wish The Who could have really known her. Also, I feel like maybe she could have had some wisdom for me about a family member who is getting under my skin.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016?
Nothing is as bad as I think it is.
What will you always remember about 2016?
The day a fascist real estate mogul-cum-television reality star became fucking president of the country.
1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? The last bite of pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving.
2. Where was your profile taken? It’s a Bitmoji. I am a big fan of the Bitmoji.
3. Do you play Pokemon Go? No. But I am all in when (if?) Harry Potter Go goes live. I’ll even carry a mobile charger for that shit.
4. Name someone who made you laugh today. Larry David. I am really enjoying myself some binge-Curb Your Enthusiasm lately.
5. How late did you stay up last night and why? 12-something. I was ready to go to sleep at 11:30 for a change, but ended up in a text conversation with my brother.
6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be? Boston. That’s a no-brainer.
7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? I don’t think so? My wife is generally sleeping if it’s late enough for fireworks and no one else kisses me.
8. Which of your friends lives closest? Sarah, but just by a street or two.
9. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? Ambivalent. I have a baseline appreciation for all carbonated things, so there is that. But do I ever choose Dr. Pepper? No. Never. (I do enjoy Dr. Pepper, the psychologist on “Married at First Sight” but I have the impression that this isn’t the intended gist of this question.)
10. When was the last time you cried? November 9th.
11. Who took your profile picture? Bitmoji. Again.
12. Who was the last person you took a picture of? The Who, celebrating his 8th birthday with his bestie yesterday.
13. Was yesterday better than today? No. I mean, today was fine. I guess it was better in some ways and not in others. Probably they averaged out the same.
14. Can you live a day without TV? Of course. Some days, I do so voluntarily.
15. Are you upset about anything? Oh, sure. Mostly about people in general. I’m feeling pretty misanthropic since the election. I’ve been so lucky for so long (and still, I know) to be able to ignore or at least compartmentalize all the ignorance and hatred, but…I guess I just thought (hoped?) people were ultimately better than that. They’re not.
16. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? Of course.
17. Are you a bad influence? In some ways. I often encourage friends to delay responsibility to hang out with me. I’m very persuasive.
18. If you could take a vacation anywhere you wanted, where would it be? Europe. Specifically, England and Italy.
19. What do you procrastinate about the most? Grading.
I’m not sure which stage of grief I am stuck in. Anger and depression simultaneously, maybe? Denial was definitely first. This isn’t happening. This won’t happen. There will still be a way for this not to happen. Last night, I read a series of DJT tweets about how grossly inaccurate the New York Times was when discussing his transition team’s struggle. And another one about how many foreign leaders he has met with. And still another about trying to shut down rumors about his children and security clearances and I actually thought: this whole conversation is fruitless; he’s not going to be president.
But he is.
Denial, I guess. I’m still in denial.
I’ve spent the better part of the past week in conversations with friends about the surge in hate speech in the public schools. It’s coming out like worms after a rainstorm — disgusting, slimy little words struggling to stay alive out in the open. “Build the wall” chanted on the school bus. “White power” called out in the hallway of the middle school. A little brown girl told to “go home” in the elementary school. All of it right here in my little blue community. I can only imagine what’s happening elsewhere.
It’s making me lose hope in humanity. It’s making me — the unapologetic idealist, the eternal optimist — believe that most people actually are horrible. Motivated by fear, hungry for power, ultimately only concerned about themselves. This is not to say that there aren’t good people; there are, of course. Just not as many as I thought.