Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Thing About The Dishes

We're cleaning our house more aggressively than ever, or maybe I am. The Three Short Drunk People have yet to master toothpaste clearing of the sink, but The Kid, when he has time, is using the rake more often.

Me? Detailed cars. Washed windows. Disinfected the garage. Googled "squeegee" a bunch.
I have learned that shop towels are far superior to Bounty. And cheaper.
You need me to clean something? I'm your girl.

It's weird how anxiety shows up and how we deal with it.

But dishes? Typically, I cook and he cleans. That's what my parents did.
My mother in law cooked AND cleaned, and as much as I tried to help, she deflected me, kindly.
"I need to digest," she would say, while fending me off, her hands in soap and water and dishes.

A silver lining of quarantine is The Drunks have learned to cook for themselves.
Tonight, there was no cooking by me here: I was too tired, and me and their dad we're camped out on the porch reveling in our mutual aches and pains and the good work we'd done.

They fended and that's great. Creative chefs!

(For fuck's sake, isn't there always a "but"..)

After the whole long day of chores I couldn't quite complete, and with evening conversations that never seem to end well, all I wanted was a deep sink of the dishes they left behind to scrub and make right. I asked the Kid to leave it for me.

He did not. He cleaned. I was mad.

I'm like his Mom. I just need to digest.
Digest, an important word.

So I do it here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Crying in the Market

I saw her, even masked, by the chicken.

"There you are!" we said, grateful to recognize our eyes.
We chatted, masked, distant, sad.
Her daughter would graduate the next day in all the weird ways.

Did she see my tears?
What does empathy look like now?
Can I show my love when I can't hug?

Her daughter, this graduation.
It breaks all our hearts.

Let me say this as loud as I can from my quiet perch: celebrate your tears!
Cry as often as you can.
Be sad! Now is not the moment for bravery.

Now is the moment to grieve with others.
Now is the moment to bitch and moan and whine.
Now is the moment to be sad and sullen and lost.

If you cry in the market, so be it.
That is exactly what you should do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


We fight over the "good mask" we have. It's easy to breathe in and fits well.
We stock our cars with the homemade ones my sister so generously made out of old sheets and shipped to us. Double ply cotton, super cute, with little girl underwear waste band used for elastic.
She is the sewing hero we all need.

I'm disgusted that wearing a mask has become a new flag to wave, to stake in the ground.
Of all the things either side could beef about, this is not one.

You are not "better" if you wear one. But it's gently wise.
You are not flying your freak flag if you do not wear one -- it's just selfish if you don't when it's needed.

There are so many ways to express your politics right now.
If you have any extra change, invest in local races.

Whatever you do, and please, do as you will, please do not make public health a political beef.

Monday, May 18, 2020


We're gonna need a bigger boat...

We're like many -- suddenly unemployed.
Gratefully, we are healthy but the Vids has ripples, and it did for the Kid.
We can't wash our hands enough to stop this, to help him.
We can't mask up enough for him.
So here we are, middle aged, two Drunk Short People in college, the GYSO...

And this girl just trying her lousy best to keep the ship upright.

Friday, May 8, 2020


Like a dog to a whistle, I alert to sirens. I think I inherited that from my grandmother and my mom. We are drama chasers and perhaps, wannabe savers of the world. Lately, I hear them a lot and so I'd run to the porch, maybe with some binoculars, wanting so badly to be a part of the emergency. Once I took a soccer carpool on a misadventure like this and we got stuck watching a house burn down.
I know now why I hear them so often: birthday party.

At some point, my neighbors house will be burning and I'll hear the sirens. I'll sip my ice coffee and apathetically whisper, "Happy Birthday...."

When I first wore a mask, I kept my eyes down. I felt awkward and embarrassed. Now, I'm thrilled if someone recognizes me by my eyes! I'm happy to socially distant chit chat with a fucking mask on my face. Someday someone will rob a bank and we all salute him or her for being so kind.

Forget handshakes. I never liked 'em much anyway because it felt so much like a test of masculinity.
I'm not great at the social kiss kiss, but I love the meaningful hug. I hate the air hugs.

But here we are.

I miss not talking about grocery shopping. It's weird that we talk about it as much as we do and compare notes on "what we found." As if we were hunting for truffles.

Soon we will measure our moods by news or phases or tests.

Masks hanging from rear view mirrors will also be something we won't blink at.
Peeing outside will become more acceptable.
BYOB is now socially responsible.
You'll never have to clean your house for guests ever again!

We are all pioneers in a very insecure new world.
Come with me, pioneer!
I'll elbow bump you...

Saturday, May 2, 2020

The UpSide

I have been lucky: I have connected with all kinds of people during this weird moment.

I have learned how to prop the laptop so my double chin doesn't show so much and I have learned how to wear my hair in a way that hides the grays. I know now how to mute the dog barking.
I know this is now what we do.

Turns out a lot of you do this too: connecting in weird and awkward ways is what we do.

Tonight I connected with former colleagues at a record company I miss so much.

Later, I connected with friends from middle school -- most of us there, our little bunch -- and all I could think was how kind and supportive we were. Clapping on mute, listening to the story of someone we haven't seen in years and yet care about, all of of us remembering the same teachers and the same moments that made us. The way we loved each other...

Clapping! Celebrating!

This is the upside of all of this.

Would this happen before?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Another Story About Music

We all have good days, and really shitty ones. I've decided that most of us take turns: it's your bad day, or it's mine, or it's hers. Each turn sucks.

Recently, it's B's turn. 
I suppose grief happens in waves and now, it's washed over her. 
Chatty kid, suddenly silent.

She had some set backs when college started two years ago, but she quickly figured it out. She became so involved there and she fell in love there. She loves her small classes and the way it has made her think. Now --- she suffers everyday with Zoom classes or the ones that get cancelled and she misses everything... her boyfriend, cooking by herself, parties, becoming the person she was ready to be.

Grief is strange and measured in new ways now. 

So she takes a music class like I did. 
Turns out her mother gets asked to step into one those Zoom classes.
It turns out my long ago career and/or this hobby of mine matters.

It won't fix her heartbreak.

As we used to say, back in the day, when rekkids were what we did, when music was all we liked:
this isn't the cure for cancer.... It's just rock n' roll.

I guess right now -- rock n' roll is the best we got.
Rock on!

Saturday, April 25, 2020


He was four when this began.  Then he was five.

He was giant then, and he is still now. The GSYO is a full foot bigger than me: sometimes I wonder if I willed this to happen, if my imagination made it real. Then I remember genetics, and the Kid who is super tall and I think, oh yeah... There's that.

He hasn't changed in other ways too: he's very nice.
The first time he had a physical tussle with a friend, he was so bummed: "I hurt him!"
I helped him write a note and soon all was well, but this kid, he's so kind.

He goes to his sisters' games now willingly and with such pride.
He loves what his mom cooks, even during a pandemic.
He is the little brother everyone wants: he's got your back, and it turns out, they have his.

He is that surprise boy, that weird thing I needed to learn. He his smelly and he grows in ways I don't anticipate. He needs to be alone. He needs to hug me. He needs to eat food in amounts that stun me.
He is quiet and loud, grumpy and sweet, kind and mean, aggressive and so perfectly gentle. He is everything a good man will grow up to be.

The GYSO knew all along what he needed: the trampoline in the back yard, the hoops shooting.
This boy will surprise us all.

The GYSO, our sweet and excellent dancer, our clown, our funny friend, our musical curator...
The GYSO throws out the line to anchor our boat --- we're grateful to catch it.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Small Town

I called this place the Small Town because it was a good blind term, and also, it is small... sort of. Small is a subjective measure; your small might be different from mine. So, here's the truth of this Small Town: we are 19,000 people with two roads in and out who exist on a small spit of land with water all around us. Many of us don't have driveways. Most of us consider an 1/8 of acre to be a "decent" backyard. We can hear each other from our kitchens. We can see each other all the time. It's like a tiny campus, cramped with all the kids that fill up a giant school.

Because of this "closeness," we are in equal measure tightly bound and in love with one another and incredibly nasty to each at the same time. We come together when a kid is sick, or the pizza place burns, but most of the time, like most of the world, we pick sides and get snarky. Until it snows. We're the best to each other when it snows!

Thing is: it hasn't snowed lately in a big way, not in two years or so, and I'm not complaining, but yeah. We're all good to one another in a snowstorm.

When it snowed yesterday, a bitchy insult to injury kind of crappy snow, I figured we were all done for. Masked up, smile-less, eyes shifty and standing so far apart, I thought that after five or six weeks of this new life, the levy might break. The pitch forks felt sharpened to me; the nasty typewriters seemed oiled up. 

Today, I took the GSYO to pick up his bike (shuttered in another garage for a month).
The sun was out; the shitty snow was long gone. The sky seemed brighter than normal.

Driving was scary! Dodge this neighbor, dodge that one. 

The streets were lined with beach chairs and coolers, all at the end of their driveways, all shouting across the street, or over the way, across the grass. Responsibly distant each.
The old rules were long gone; booze is now allowed in public, I guess. The Yankee solitude has been replaced by this everyday snowstorm of quarantine I suppose... where we all wave to one another, pitch in, dig out, drink at the end of our driveways after a long exhausting day. The Small Town is cranky at times, too small in ways at other times, but today, it looked like a healthy and happy future. 

As the pollution lifts across the world, as the animals in our absence find their way, so do we, in Rome, in Barcelona, in NYC, or San Fran or ever even here, in this Small Town in the middle of a pandemic surge: masked, separated, together. 

I hope our Small Town is like yours. Brave, new, safe, responsible, but connected still.
Helpful. Kind. Waving and chatting. Shoveling the shit. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020


If the news is bad, or getting worse, adjust.
If the days get long, help someone.
If the news is dark, dance.
If you feel hungry, ask.
If you can, help.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The View From The Window

I've laughed the way I am sure a million others have at the vids of the moms in the cars venting, the toddler debris all over the floor of the tiny apartment, the creative ways parents are making birthday parties for 16 year olds or 21 year olds. I've laughed with them because it feels so human to connect about those things: a need to escape, a mess, a birthday, a milestone -- who can't relate to that?

In so many ways we are exactly the same. We are bonded by our mutual experience of motherhood or fatherhood or siblinghood. Or pain, or shame, or guilt, or insecurity. Anxiety and depression. Joy and love. So many things are common to each of us, in my town, in our state, my region, this country.
Somewhere on this giant planet someone is also all stressed out, or super in love, or really confused about school or the future of school, or what tomorrow's dinner will be.

I wonder what the view is from that window, if there is one.
I wonder what it looks like.

I will tell you what the view from my window looked like tonight:

The seagulls seemed undone and sorta angry. There we doing this really strange loud yell.
It seemed louder tonight and their posse seemed bigger.
They were diving and flapping their wings in a very aggressive way.

(NOTE: I know nothing about birds or how they act. Like, nothing.)

I've decided that they ganged up to yell about the fact that are no left over french fries on Revere Beach or any dropped chips or you name it here on their peninsula. I have decided that they were having a community meeting. And one of them said, "Phil, you have always been a shitty provider" or maybe it was, "Carl! Buddy! This is what is takes to keep the house feathered!"

Anyway, from my window the seagulls play out stories I make up for them.
What do you see?

Sunday, April 12, 2020


Back in the old days, when we'd get buried in snow, I remember thinking that all the familiar places of my small town looked, overnight, like the surface of the moon. Everything was unsure, and unboundaried and new: where were the sidewalks, or the entrances, or the yellow lines on the road? Who was the masked man shoveling my driveway? I never doubted there was bread or milk or flour (flour?), and I laughed about that often.

In the old days, when the snow used to fall, sometimes I'd bump into friends at the market. "Just here for cilantro," she might say. "Just here for Doritos and brownie mix," I'd reply. "The necessities."
No one talked about toilet paper or Clorox anything. Booze? Milk? (Who drinks that much -- milk?)

In the old days, when the snow buried us for a few days at a time and school was cancelled for the week, we'd all act like Europeans and get homey -- light fires, play board games that made us proud of our parenting. By the second night of an extended snow day, the whole neighborhood was outside -- hello? Hello? Buy the third day, ahh, fuck it! Back to life, back to cars skidding down the road, kids slipping all over the place, back to nowhere to park, back to belated blizzard parties.

Now? There is no snow to communally shovel. There are no plans to walk over in snow pants with a six pack. In fact, if you did, someone might shame you for doing so.

Our tiny town grocery store has aisles that can't allow any kind of social distance. It is the place where I would avoid going to because I didn't want to see anyone that day, because everywhere you looked was a friend, or a neighbor, or some kids' coach, or a teacher, or the guy you know you know but maybe don't know? You say "Hi!" anyway; you might even hug. That stranger you know you know.

Now, that place feels like the face of the moon. Our homemade masks, or better ones, they sometimes ride up over our eyes, or fog up our reading glasses. We can't see the arrows on the floor. We don't know when to wait when someone is choosing avocados or lemons or broccoli. We understand that there may be some around us who are scared. We understand that some around us might be vulnerable. We are not sure who is who, and suddenly, this very basic errand feels like a social pact gone wrong.

In the days, before this, when snow used to fall, I would pick up this ladies dropped can without a thought. Now, we just eyeball each other over crappy masks. I say, "Can I pick it up for you?" and she says, "Yes, thank you,"and then I realize it's not a snow shovel, but it's good enough for now.

I guess you get used to a new street, buried in snow, or a new world, faster than you think.
We adapt more often, and more quickly than we think, and most of us do so with love.

The face of the moon? You got this.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Nose, Cameras, Love in Lockdown

I have seen my face more than a woman should ever see her face.
I have become the opposite of the dude in Dorian Gray: everyone I see looks so lovely.
I have to see myself when these new weird moments happen and I look so much older -- than I feel? Than my mirror tells me?

FaceTime and Zoom and OneWay interviews are weird -- do you look at yourself first?
Or do you look at all the people you love, their kind smiling faces -- and your face waving wildly back.... maybe they are as confused as you, as loving this as you are?

Who are you on the other side of the camera? Do you clean up? Do you let your life carry on behind you? Do you get up to pee? Do you tell the true stories of life at home? Do you tell the truth?

Who do you connect with when the world is so apart?
And does that answer make you think about who matters most to you?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Empathy in the Time of Corona

"It was inevitable. The scent of rancid socks and cereal bowls always reminded her of the fact of being a mom. She noticed it as soon as she ventured downstairs, the smell of the refugees, distanced, undone, former leaders of the packs of newcomers or the defender of the back line or the hardworking clown in the room. They had been booted from their worlds: their remains lay in their wake."

OK. Let's be totally clear.

My kids' experience, my experience and the Kid's as well...we're fine.
Too much together time, so he misses some milestones, or they do, or their friends?
Yeah, it does break my heart, but I realize how small that is in the measure of this.

This. All of this.
Trouble is, I feel it. Bigly.
Like in my gut and in everything I do.
I am doing all the good things -- self care, positive thinking -- but I feel it.
I want to clap with the people in New York and I want to sing with the people in Italy and Spain.
I want to make a difference.

On Friday, at 7:00pm EST, I will force all these Short Drunk People outside.
No one who matters will hear us, but I still have some authority so we will do it.

They will be dropping of flyers tomorrow.
Because their mom's heart breaks...
And maybe, because their's break as well, they will learn what helps...

Empathy cures what ills us.

Monday, March 30, 2020


Remember alarms?
Remember the coffee routine before the day started?
Remember making school lunch or planning a dinner that was "regular'?

I miss getting the automated call from the High School telling me my kid was a few minutes late.
I miss picking him up at school and talking/not talking in the way you do with a teenage boy.

I miss yelling at him to get up! I miss being bossy in that way that seemed meaningful.
I miss knowing that he wouldn't sleep all weekend because he had basketball.
It stinks that it's my job to create some normal in this abnormal world.

I'm the mean one: I'm the "tardy" call.
I'm his new badass, his new mean teacher, his tough couch.
Now, I am his crappy new routine.

The girls have settled in easier than him: home-college is not so bad.

He? He misses everything so fundamentally and physically, I can feel it in the way he smiles and jumps around and goofs off and then seems so sad.  He is sixteen and stuck inside.

Tonight, he said to his sister, "I think God doesn't want me to be a Varsity athlete."

This was interesting to me because the GFYO wasn't raised with religion.
This was interesting because even for the GFYO the world feels wrong.

Remember alarms?
I think I have to blare some everyday: WAKE UP!
Let's hit the hoop! Let's study music for ten minutes!
Let's make some waffles and talk about history!

Maybe I can remind him that when the alarms go off, the world will be okay or okayish?

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Let's be honest up front: I have weaved in and out of looking for a "job" for two legit reasons.

1) After a "career" in the music biz, some publicity self employment, three kids, badass volunteer work, a blog (omg) (is that even a word used anymore?), some minimal success writing for actual money, and a TV Show for kids (back to that volunteer thing).... my resume isn't exactly hopping. And no, like everyone, I can't do Excel.

2) Also, every step out seems like.. well, I'm right back in. "I left my backpack with all my gear -- and I need it for a game" two hours away, or "do I have a social security card and this office is scary and I want to cry" or "is it normal for my finger to swell up after I cut it with a knife?" or "MOOOMMMMMM! Practice is right now and you have to take me!"

So that. All of that.

I guess I can push that worry and self-doubt aside right now, because I doubt the job market is waiting for me. What is waiting for me? Today? Like all the other days, but even more now: food, dinners, laundry. A smiling face. A sense of normal.  I think that might be the reality for many of you, or... sorta, or in some kinda way.

I bat one ball away. Ding!
I bat another. Ding!

One slips through. The lights explode! The game goes nuts!
You got one more ball. Ignore the lights....
Focus. Do better this time...

If I am right, I can make sure all is well -- him, them, her, she, they, everyone.
Pull it back, take a breath and SHOOT...

There is no paddle I can operate fast enough or with wizardly skills to keep these balls at bay!
The game was hard enough to begin with.


Monday, March 23, 2020


(You can read back and see what I wrote about Her then...)

She is who I saw back when she was little.
Not a lot has changed: she is vulnerable but also so brave and strong.
She takes too much of me, all of us, on her shoulders.

She is resilient, despite me.

We sat on the bus together traveling through Italy with her soccer team. We saw so many beautiful things and laughed so many times. We also whined, because it was weird and busy and like a race. When we returned, she was cut from the team. She had to pack up and come home. Soccer -- her identity -- done.

She seemed destroyed, and she was: drunken face plant on her day back to school.

Since then, she did what she always does: fixed it, changed it.
No soccer? How about the ski team? Cool. Tour guide, yes!

Also, she's in love.

This kid, my guide, my North Star...

Sunday, March 22, 2020


If you want to read some lame boring quarantine crap with ideas and strategies and Pintersty ideas that mostly make a girl feel like shit, google on. This isn't that.

We are the people who have run out of toilet paper. We are the people who have yelled at each other more often than we have played all those games you might have seen people playing. We are the people who wonder what the limit is for "together time"?

A happy family is such a wonky model. Shake it off!

I admire the stories of couples and families enjoying this self-isolation, but I am slightly suspect.
I doubt any Monopoly session could fix what is essentially the process of becoming an adult.
No amount of board games will fix what these kids are losing.

The GSYO (sixteen now) needs his friends and school to do what we all have done, what we all did: navigate a path to adulthood out there in the world. B and R are similarly stunted.

I don't have the words to make this better and I don't have a plan.
There are not words that I can write to fix it.

When your heart breaks, where do you hold the pieces?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

So Anyway 2

How do you say hello again to an old lover?
Do you whisper it, do you slap a noisy kiss on the cheek?
Do you sheepishly wander around the perimeter and hope you are seen?

None of these seems like a good idea. No idea seems good.
So anyway...

The wind is howling outside a new fence, less picket than the old one, but still, here we are. Me and the Kid, and the Three Drunk People, who actually have been drunk (they are 20, 18 and 16 -- don't judge), because yep, that happens. New house, same small town, same Kid, same me. Sort of.

So what's up?
Oh and me? I did some writing work for money. I started a community TV show for kids. I got gray. I tried Botox. I once went to a writing workshop but I still haven't finished that book I meant/mean to write.

Oh, and the Three: they are shockingly well, despite me. Except for the fact that their worlds have exploded in the last month, except for the fact that these three happy kids -- two one foot out -- are now forced to have both feet inside.

So yeah, I mean it's fine.

SO ANYWAY, I'm writing here again because the truth is that the tap tap tap on the key board makes me happy.  And I stopped because I felt I should protect them as they got older...

I have been in more embarrassing snap chat/tik tok/insta stories, that, well....

Maybe it's alright that I start writing again?