jake-a-tude-a-thon day 943: happy 22, baby!


The first picture of you and me.

Last night on the phone, Aunt Joni and I texted about the night you were born. It was she, not daddy, who got me into the operating room to have the c-section I couldn’t wrap my head around. You were upside down (maybe you had a tequila?) and although my doctor assured me for the whole pregnancy that you’d come out of there naturally, naturally you weren’t having it. Nope, you needed to make a grander entrance (or maybe you were just lounging in there and didn’t want to make your way down the birth canal, instead taking the easier path of having the doctors go in there and get you–so much less work on your part–how you is that).

I told them I’d just stay in labor, that I was doing fine with my breathing and I could just stick it out for days, but what they were trying to tell me, was that your position made it so that you couldn’t come out, unless they did surgery. I didn’t really get it, and Daddy was busy walking up and down the hallway, nervous you were not going to be ok, even though you weren’t in distress. And so it was Aunt Joni who looked me square in the eyes and said, “YOU HAVE TO HAVE C-SECTION. YOU HAVE TO DO IT NOW,” and I was all like, “Oh, ok. Alright, let’s go.”

They brought you right up to my face to meet me. I was falling asleep, but I thought, “Look, we made a  person.” I had never, and will never do anything as amazing (except for when I had your sister). The whole idea of creating a person in your body is just Twilight Zone whacko. I did it and I still can’t believe it.

And what a person. You have a special magic about you. You have a s soulful sweetness, an inner thoughtfulness, a forgiving nature that makes you undeniably lovable. You are goodness and charm. You are true.

I have said it all before, and I will say it until the end of time: you are special, a really special person, and to tell you how proud I am of you and how much I love you, I’d need many more than just 26 letters.

Happy birthday to my boy.







gratitude-a-thon day 942: the light of the tenth month


Walking with my dog through the neighborhood, I see girls in the distance who I think are girls my daughter used to know, so I squint to see if I should wave, but they aren’t of course, because those girls are at college now. We walk through the park where I raised my children throwing sand and playing soccer, and tumbling from the jungle gym, which ended in three stitches for my daughter in that place where Donald Trump grabs women, and I see toddlers, running and jumping, and swinging and sliding, and I think for a moment that I see Jake. That I see Ally. But  then I remember that Jake and that Ally don’t exist anymore.

My dog and I crunch the colored leaves with our feet. He looks up at me every so often, as if to say something, but he never does (even though I’m certain he will any day now). The special light that only October can deliver is all around me. It’s different than anywhere I’ve ever been, and more pleasing than any filter Instagram offers. It’s an angle of the sun that happens in the month of Halloween that makes everything not just pretty, but prettier. The leaves don’t hurt, of course, but it’s not the leaves, it’s the light. It’s the light I imagine heaven would have. A better, photoshopped version of the rest of the year.

My first child was born in October, after three years of infertility. I remember the day after he was born, waking early, and Peter and I looked out the window and the sunrise looked drawn by a gifted artist, like a special morning, composed just for us and our new addition to the world. It seemed to me nothing could ever go wrong for a boy born into that kind of light. I wouldn’t know then, how worthy he was of such luminosity.

The fall is such a painterly time of year. While the colors have become a cliche, there is no denying that nature does kick-ass work. I have come to realize that I love the fall, but I never really enjoy it, because it always signals to me that winter is getting on its snowsuit and heading my way. And there is no love lost between me and that season.

My dog and I are doing our work. I am typing, and he is sleeping. He is a great partner, but he always gets the easy assignments. We make a good team. I am grateful for our time. I am in sort of a vulnerable mood today, and it makes me  grateful for everything. I sit in the light, and hold on.


gratitude-a-thon day 941: nature’s message


I haven’t made any intentional foliage trips this year, but nonetheless, on the road to soccer games, have seen the spectacular yearly fashion show. Brilliant mustard yellow and fire pit orange, hot pepper red, pale peach and Crayola’s famous Burnt Sienna, shout from the sides of the road, “Get a load of me!” And I do, I stare in utter awe that nature has such a spectacular sense of showmanship.

It’s this stuff, that reminds me that life has a beauty that’s always there for the taking. I tell myself to look harder, be present for its inspiring wink.




gratitude-a-thon day 940:trump’s TEMPERament


Republican Presidential candidate Trump reacts as he speaks at the 2015 FreedomFest in Las Vegas

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts as he speaks at the 2015 FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Nevada July 11, 2015. REUTERS/L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun – RTX1K10O

I know that I keep writing about the election, but it’s hard to think about anything else.

The thing is that while I’m a Democrat, I’ve never felt that if a Republican won an election, I wouldn’t feel ok about it. But if Donald Trump wins this election, I think I will feel unpatriotic, like this is not longer my country, and quite frankly, scared.

It’s not because he’s a different political party, it’s because it’s become abundantly clear that he is not a balanced human being. Predatory behavior and “locker room banter” aside (which is hard to put aside, because it’s pretty fucking awful for a presidential candidate of the U.S.A., a role model, to be someone a woman cannot trust to be in a room with, who a teacher can only discuss by using careful and cagey language), Donald Trump has shown that he can come unhinged by a tweet, someone who disagrees with him, anybody who doesn’t believe what he believes. This is just not a temperament that should occupy the Oval (it’s more like a temper).

It’s so disturbing, this election. It’s taking a toll on people. I’m counting the days until this thing is over. And sweet Jesus, for all of our sakes, I hope my candidate wins.



gratitude-a-thon day 939: men abusing power: the first time it happened to me


This is one of the ways it happens. This is the first time it happened to me (it was unfortunately, not the last).

I was 20, a senior graduating from Boston University with a B.S. in journalism and a vague thought about wanting to work in children’s tv production (don’t ask, I didn’t even know what it was).

Like every parent with a child about to leave the confines of college, mine wanted to help me find employment. Having thought, for most of my life,  I was going to be a teacher, with a clear career path, and switching mid-stream to journalism, after catching the writing bug sophomore year, I needed all the help I could get.

A family friend was called. Her daughter was married to a prominent guy at CBS in New York. My mother invited the couple to dinner for the husband to meet me. My mother slaved over homemade sauce, sausage, meatballs and braciole–meat flattened, and filled with stuffing, then tied up with string and cooked in sauce all day. I spoke with the man after dinner, told him about myself, and he told me he’d look around and be in touch. I was elated at the thought.

A few weeks later he called me and told me he was coming to Boston to do some work with WBZ, a local tv station he used to work for. He asked me if he could stay with me. I explained I lived with a roommate in a two bedroom on-campus apartment with just a kitchen and a bathroom, and had no extra space. He told me he doubted he’d find a hotel with such short notice (which should have been a sign for me–there are a zillion hotel rooms in Boston), but I guess I was too focused, too hopeful, that this powerful man might be able to help me find a job, and I didn’t want to think he was anything but on the level. I was nervous that saying no might ruin my chances of having him help me. I turned it over a few times in my head, but there was no room, and it felt odd and uncomfortable, so I just had to take my chances, and say no.

He got a room in the Copley. He invited me to meet him for dinner. Close to the time we were to meet, he called and asked me to meet him in his room because he had to watch a show and critique it for WBZ. I agreed.


How long will we allow this to happen?

The room was as small as my dorm room, and the only seating was the bed. I was immediately fidgety, and nervous. He began pretty quickly telling me a story. He had, the day before, been casting a soap opera at work and the actresses had to assume the sexiest position they knew. He asked me what I would do if someone asked me to do that. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, I was as uncomfortable as if I’d been caught in the rain and forced to sit in air conditioning. “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t think of myself as sexy.” My immediate thought was to play naive, to pretend I had no idea what he was talking about. He persisted, “C’mon. You’re so sexy. What would you do?” Still not positive he wasn’t just making conversation, I continued to play dumb and NOT assume my sexiest pose.

And then he laid it out, “I hadn’t expected you to be so beautiful when I was asked to meet you,” he said. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.” I can’t tell you what I did with that, because as I’m sitting here, I can’t remember. What I did not do, if you are wondering, is sleep with this pig who was at least 25 years older than I was, and trying to take advantage of me and my earnest ambition. I kept thinking that I must be mistaken, that he couldn’t really be putting the moves on me, especially since my mother and father had been friends with his in-laws for more than three decades. Wasn’t he scared I’d tell my parents? Was he just such a narcissist that he thought I was attracted to him too, and wouldn’t want to tell my parents. I think I brought up my boyfriend. I think he told me he’d been attracted to other women during the course of his marriage, but not like he was attracted to me. There was more, but I think I blocked part of it out. He outweighed me by at least 200 pounds, so I am lucky he didn’t just go for it.

I kept pushing for us to go to dinner, and finally, he gave up, and we went to a bad Chinese restaurant, where he ordered a whole fish that came with its head still attached  (I am nauseated by the smell of fish and have been my whole life, so it seemed just perfect.) The job thing was over, there was no talk of it during dinner. My interview had ended in that hotel room when I rebuffed his advances. He made me pay for my half of the check (HALF of his big smelly fish).

I still didn’t know if what I thought might be true, was true–that he was trying to sleep with me. This is important to say, because I think this is how it happens. I was young, not as naive as I pretended to be, but insecure enough not to think a powerful married man would  risk his marriage to sleep with me.

Now I know if you suspect something happened, it did. This predator was never going to get me interviews with anybody. As an adult I look back and see this was the first time I would be dealing with the issue of sex for a job. I wonder if he really would have helped me if I’d acqiesced, or would I have just been a another one night stand, another story he could tell in “the locker room.”

My boyfriend was furious and wanted to call the guy. He understood what had happened in a way my shell shocked brain couldn’t quite accept. When my mom and dad called the next morning and excitedly asked me how it went, I gave them the blow by blow, and told them that they could never tell our family friends, and never speak of it to me again. My mother, furious, screamed, “AND I MADE THAT MAN MEATBALLS AND SAUSAGE AND BRACIOLE!”

I was young. Not even out of college yet and there it was — power and sexuality and hope, all there for me to have to decipher. It was terrifying. I had the good sense and good luck to get out of the situation with my clothes on, but it scared me, and it made me wonder if I’d done anything to make it happen (I had most certainly not–I was wearing a hairband–what could be less sexy). It was an abuse of power, clear and simple.

But that’s how it happens. That’s how it happened to me.


He’d win in a landslide. I’d vote for him.




MADititude-a-thon day 938: IT’S TIME TO JUST FUCKING SAY NO

“Boys will be boys.”

“Locker room banter.”

“I said it, but I didn’t mean it.”

With the surfacing of the “hot mic,” tapes, we as both women and men have to decide whether we’re willing to elect a man who so blatantly, disrespectfully and unapologetically believes women can be treated like a cat treats catnip.

Donald Trump seems to be saying that because Bill Clinton treated women disrespectfully, it’s ok for him to do so, as well. Bill Clinton paid dearly, by going through impeachment hearings, if I remember correctly. Also, by the way, BILL CLINTON IS NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. But more importantly, it doesn’t mean his behavior was a good thing. And it doesn’t and shouldn’t mean we should allow this kind of behavior to continue. 

Isn’t it time to say no? We’re at the point where a strong  woman is running for president, having an equal shot at the biggest job in the land, so isn’t it time we stopped sweeping this kind of male behavior under the rug with an exhausted giggle and a knowing roll of the eyes? Isn’t it time to change the acceptability of men treating women as something they can manipulate in the name of power? Isn’t it time we as women stopped thinking this is something we just have to put up with to get by?

I sent my 21 year old son a text that told him he can never talk about women the way Donald Trump has (and continues to) talk to and about women. I told him that he was above that and better than that. Every mother needs to remind their sons of this right now. Because we have to start somewhere in making this issue history. I know loads of men, including my husband, who speak about and to women respectfully. I’m not trying to get down on males in general. I’m trying to say that this is a moment to look at the behavior our male presidential candidate displays and make some decisions about how we as a country want to move forward, how we as a country want to respond.


We have an opportunity, men and women, to make a change that’s needed to be made for a long, long, long time. Men just have to stop being given a pass when they treat, or talk about women in sexually degrading ways.  It’s happened to me, and I’m guessing it’s happened to every woman I know in one way or another.

With our votes, we can speak. Let’s say something that matters.

gratitude-a-thon day 937: inspiring teacher project

Teachers at Oak Park H.S. bring students to tears as they tell them individually how important they are

I saw this video on social media the other day and it really knocked my socks off (and yes, I have already worn socks a few times this season, and yesterday afternoon it was 57 and I wore a down coat to walk Riley BECAUSE I WAS FREEZING). Anyway, give it a couple minutes. It’s a good one. Gratitude to the teachers of Oak Park High School. You get an A.

gratitude-a-thon day 936:does your candidate have what it takes


If you are an undecided voter:

Here’s the thing. I understand that many people want change in our country. So many of us are tired of Washington’s same old, same old, and we wonder if there could be something, someone better who could stir things up, break through the quagmire of epic BS. Issues on the table range from lack of good jobs, racism,  law and order seeming to be non-existent, terrorist attacks that are terrifying, taxes, and the disappearance of the middle class, just to name a few.

Donald Trump wants us to believe that he is the change, that he is a political outsider who will build walls to keep terrorists out, and use his business acumen to keep jobs in. He wants us to believe he will make America great again, although the specifics are not very specific. He has treated women with disrespect over and over and over again not only during this campaign, but during his life. He thinks immigrants, who have helped to build this country, should go home. He is wildly impulsive. He cannot seem to accept being wrong, and cannot resist sparring with anyone who makes him feel that he is. He has eluded paying Federal Taxes for 18 years. His past experience has been as a realtor, developer and reality show host.

Hillary Clinton is not perfect. I wish she were more inspiring. I wish she hadn’t had the email mishap, or that Benghazi hadn’t gone down the way it did, but this candidate, the most qualified candidate who has ever run for president, is a lawyer, spent eight years, as the first lady, eight years as a senator from New York, and four years as the secretary of state. This woman has devoted her life to public service. Has she made mistakes? Of course she has. But I wonder, and this is really important to consider, what politician hasn’t made mistakes in a tenure as long as Hillary’s.

The facts about Hillary are these: she knows how to work with both sides of the aisle because she has successfully done so. She knows policy as well as she knows her daughter’s birthday. She has met with and knows foreign leaders throughout the world. She knows how to behave like an adult, how to think, before speaking. She is smart, consistently thoughtful and strong.

Please consider whether or not the change you want is Donald Trump. Maybe the change you want isn’t available this go round. Maybe it will have to wait until 2020. I understand this is not an ideal solution, but the presidency is a vitally important job. It’s not good enough to hope that the candidate you vote for will be ok. It’s imperative to know they can do the job with intelligence, patience and strength. This is the only job in our country where the employed is in a position to destroy civilization with the press of a button. At the end of the day, that’s something to consider long and hard. Does your candidate have the ability to stop and think before acting?


May the best man or woman win.

gratitude-a-thon day 935: empty nest update, this is harder than I thought

Empty Nest Update: Day 37

A lot of times, I forget that it’s just Peter and Riley here in the house. My body and mind is so used to the kid’s schedules, their rhythms, their voices, that sometimes I don’t remember they’re gone. Then it will hit me like a jolt, like that shot Uma Thurman gets when she OD’s in Pulp Fiction,  and it seems wrong and I feel panic in my gut, like there are a bunch of Riverdancing butterflies in there.

I miss the kids a lot, but we’re lucky to see Ally at her weekly games, which is a little slice of heaven for us (especially with Jake 2,500 miles from here). But that’s separate from my predominant feeling, which is how a job I had for 22 year could simply one day come to an END. I feel like one of those lifers at a big corporate company who gets laid off and wanders out of the building with a box full of moments looking for his future.


I wish I was Peggy Olson-ing it here, with this loss of mom employment, but I’m not.

I’ve never understood the time continuum, and given my math skills, I’m sure I never will, but honestly, it feels impossible that all those years have left the station. I hate being so ordinary, but here it is, my kids are in college, and I can’t believe it. I mean, COULD I BE MORE CLICHE?

We are creatures of habit. I got used to being a mom, and yeah, yeah, I know that I am still one and will always be one, but the days of kids living in my house is over, and getting used to it is a lot harder than I thought.


gratitude-a-thon day 934: Life, Animated

Is anybody besides me moldy from all this rain?

Peter and I watched a fascinating movie last night called Life, Animated. It’s the story of a family who’s son was developmentally like any other toddler his age,  until the age of three, when he stopped talking, and was ultimately diagnosed with Autism. The film uses real home movies, and interviews to recount the journey, but also uses incredibly beautiful illustration and animation.

But here’s the kicker and what makes this story so interesting–at about age seven or eight, the family, who spends a lot of time watching animated Disney films together, because it calms Owen and is something they can actually do together, says a whole sentence and that sentence is, “Walt (his brother, who has just celebrated a birthday) doesn’t want to grow up like Peter Pan and Mogley.” His parents cannot believe it, totally freak out, and realize that Owen is in there, and processing the world through Disney animated films. This is, of course, amusing, but it’s also amazing, because this boy has found a way to understand his world and begin to communicate. It’s a remarkable story, and an important one in helping to unlock some of the mysteries of Autism.

Gratitude for parents who go the distance in good times and difficult situations. Here’s to the Suskind’s for sharing their story, and to their incredible son, Owen.