Happy first full day of spring — in all its vernal glory:
Happy first full day of spring — in all its vernal glory:
Tomorrow would have been your 28th birthday. I still can’t believe you’re gone. Lost before I had the chance to say all the things I wanted to say… to apologize properly for the ways I’ve let you down. Gone, I fear, before you fully understood there was never anything you had to hide or be ashamed of. And gone before you could experience the heart-wrenching joy/panic/elation/worry/pride that comes from having children of your own.
Drugs are such a scourge; they’ve robbed us of the very best. They’ve taken so much in the way of art and music and comedy and genius – they’ve taken you from me. And yet, in some fucked up way I can’t quite explain, I can’t be mad at the situation because it feels like being mad at you, and that’s something I could never do.
I just wish… I don’t know what I wish. That I had a time machine? That I believed in God, eternal life or heavenly reward? That we all had a chance to go back and be the best possible version of ourselves? That I could trade places with you?
I would in a heartbeat.
Your sister is now the same age as you were when you died. Remember the last time we spoke on the phone? It was about five day before we got word that you were gone. You mentioned in the conversation that you’d always wanted to see Machu Picchu. Well, guess where she’s going this year? Sydney plans to make the same trek one day, as do I. And it’s all to honor you. Because in some small, insignificant (but never to us) way, we believe that seeing this is not just for us, but for you as well.
The first place I visited – many, many months after your death – was Iceland. It was November and already bitterly cold. We drove out to a black sand beach that was basically abandoned, because who in their right mind wanted to stand next to the ocean in sub-zero temperatures? But stand I did.
I thought about you a lot that day (and every day before and since). I thought about how much you’d have loved it there. I thought about all the things you’d never get a chance to see or do. About how unfair life could be, and how all the bullshit we worry about ultimately amounts to nothing. Meanwhile, the things we should be worried about never seem to make the cut until it’s too late. Then I found a piece of driftwood and carved your name into the sand.
It was all I could do.
High tide rolled in later that day and erased it I’m sure, but you *were* there. I’ve done the same in all my travels since. In Egypt, I traced your name into the dust of a railing on the second floor of the antiquities museum. In Jamaica, I dropped a folded sheet of paper containing your initials into a cluster of trees as I walked by. In Costa Rica, I tossed a coin (printed the year you were born) into the lake at the base of a mighty volcano, and in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, I lit the biggest candle I could find in honor of your life. (and that’s just to name a few)
It’s my way of saying to the world: “Ryan was here. He mattered.”
We will never get over your loss or make peace with why you had to go, but we WILL honor you in ways both big and small. So happy birthday, sweet boy. Know that you are never far from my thoughts and always deep in my heart…
You were here.
You are gone.
You live on.
For International Women’s Day, I celebrate my two talented and incredible daughters. May you know your power, your place in the world, and your place in my heart.
Now go defy the patriarchy by living a meaningful life on YOUR terms: no explanation or equivocation. (and make this planet better & brighter by doing so)
I was born in a small town in Texas in 1968. JFK was already gone, Camelot dismantled, and Richard Millhouse Nixon was on the fast track to becoming the 37th president of the United States of America. Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy were months away from assassination, and millions of Americans were taking to the streets chanting “Hey, Hey, LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?”
Timothy Leary called for us all to turn on, tune in, and drop out. Draft cards & bras were burned, and black athletes (fists raised) staged a demonstration at the Summer Olympics declaring “We’re black and we’re proud!” as spectators booed.
The Tet Offensive happened. The D.C. riots happened. Violent clashes between war protestors and the police not only happened but were commonplace. George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, blocked black students from entering its University with a warcry of “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!”
This was my legacy; my birthright — shameful though it may be.
So, here we sit fifty years later. Have we really learned anything? Will 2018 see the same rioting, warmongering, racist-spewing ignorance, and political corruption as its predecessor? My money is on yes. And if so, will well-intentioned citizens once again rise up? Who are our heroes… where is our moral compass?
Buckle up, kiddies.
On this day twenty-five years ago you pushed your way into the world and captured my heart. In typical fashion, you were in a hurry. So much so that we almost didn’t make it to the hospital in time. Out the window went my birth plan – no epidural; no mixtape of favored songs to soothe us as we labored; no gentle transition for you from in-utero to neonate.
As I was doing my best not to push until the doctor arrived, you took matters into your own hands and made your grand entrance, complete with umbilical cord wrapped around your neck (already accessorizing). Blue, and without even the weakest cry to signify things were okay, I caught a glimpse of your tiny hand as they whisked you to the ICU. Your initial Apgar score was an alarmingly low 3.
But as always, you rallied. Within hours you were in my arms — pink and squalling, and I thanked every God I could think of for keeping you safe from harm.
This became our pattern. You, fearless and flying at the speed of light. Me, your steadfast contrail – following in your wake and worrying that whatever you were doing was too much, too soon.
Together, we made it work.
Which brings us to today – I am in awe of the woman you’ve become. You are a fearless, take-no-prisoners force to be reckoned with, and that is such a good thing. Your beauty and poise are equal to your intelligence and compassion – you, my sweet, are the complete package.
Someday you’ll find a love worthy of yours, and together the two of you will conquer the world, of this I have no doubt. In the meantime, enjoy life. Slow down every once in awhile… relax if you can. Travel. Meet new and interesting people and try out differing viewpoints; let your worldview evolve.
And as your mother (with a front row seat to your evolution) know that I’m always here, unshakable and proud, and filled with more love than you could ever imagine.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
It may just be hunger talking… but I’m pretty sure all this can be accomplished with a really great breakfast taco.
Let’s be friends. I haven’t always gotten along with your predecessors, but I’ve got a good feeling about me and you. That said, here’s what I’ve learned about friendship through the years: the key to satisfaction is lowered expectations. So lets not set our sights too high and say we’ll overthrow an oppressive regime (#nevertrump) or find a cure for cancer– or even convince everyone that Adele/Marvel Movies/Disneyland/Big Bang Theory suck (which, by the way, they totally do).
Instead, maybe we shoot for some medium-good stuff? Let’s say I’ll resolve to get more sleep, stop being such a pushover, and remind myself to give a shit about the environment every once in a while. You, in turn, could (and I’m just spitballing here) rid the world of ‘like’ buttons across all social media platforms, cut WAY back on your spricket production, and stop letting farmers grow those nasty ass grapes that taste like cotton candy.
I wrote about this elsewhere, but it bears repeating:
I have been a fan of Al Franken since the dawn of time. From his SNL days to Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, to his Air America talk radio gig — to all points in-between. I have loved him, I have trusted him, and I have rooted for him.
This one broke my heart. Nothing against the women who came out against him, but if you’d asked me a couple of months ago to name the ONE guy in Congress I most believed was there for the right reasons, I’d have said, Al. But he became a distraction. Worse – he got in the way of Dems having a clear shot at pedophile Roy Moore and pussy-grabber-in-chief Trump. The argument was becoming “but Franken” each time a member of Congress spoke to the press (or when Kelly Ann and her ilk stepped in front of a camera)
I think that plus Kirsten Gillibrand unbridled lust to run for president is what did him in, and I get it (even if I don’t entirely agree). But in the parlance of chess: if we’re sacrificing a queen in what we hope will be a game-winning move, it damn well better be worth it.
Schumer and Pelosi et al. need to rally the troops and come out swinging (and swinging hard) otherwise we (the Dems) are just the skinny kid on the beach getting sand repeatedly kicked in our face by bullies.
You know what’s near the top of the list of things that suck when your child is dead and there’s not a god damn thing you can do about it?
Thank you for hosting us the week of Thanksgiving. Your city is as beautiful as its history is storied. Your pastries are flaky and your Foie gras is creamy, and everything is served with an attention to detail that is bar-none. Your architecture and culture are incredible… and you know it. 😉 If Europe is the cultural capital of the world, Paris is undoubtedly its crown jewel.
That said, why are your people so rude? What’s with the constant blatant staring – did I have spinach in my teeth or were you just gawking at the plus-sized American tourists with the audacity to spill into the seat next to her on the metro? Speaking of the metro, why does it smell so strongly of piss? Do Parisians regard sub ground dwellings as open-air urinals? (if so, why?)
And now to rip off the band-aid – I’m just going to say it: the Louvre is overrated. It’s definitely not my all-time favorite museum (hell, it’s not even my favorite museum IN Paris*). And the Georges Pompidou Centre is incredibly pretentious for having so little – even the Picassos can’t save this travesty of a modern art museum.
There. Done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Overall it was a fantastic experience. Not much has changed in the twelve years since we’ve last visited, but really, who’d want it to? I relish the sense of continuity and the feeling that your lovely city is suspended in time. I hope one day we’ll meet again… perhaps when I weigh a little less and you’ve managed to address your metro-related incontinence issues. #win/win
Why are fortune cookies so boring? If you’re giving me a stale cookie in a noisy cellophane wrapper, at least make it entertaining, snarky, or both.
We saw our first Broadway musical in 2014 (Chicago, in case you’re curious) and I was instantly hooked. As a huge fan of musical movies and TV shows, it wasn’t much of a leap for me. Since then I’ve been an avid consumer; there’s nothing like it.
Just counting Broadway (both at home & traveling) productions, we’ve racked up a reasonably impressive 19 shows in three years, and countless others if you include stuff at the local level. Here they are, more or less in order of my most to least favorite:
I’ve also learned a thing or two about what I like/don’t like along the way:
If you’re still reading, thanks. I know this isn’t exactly riveting stuff.
One final thing thought (indulge me): why is it that all the naysayers (most of whom have probably never bothered seeing a musical or play) think it’s okay to mock theatergoers? From: “Never had a desire to see one, but I guess someone has to like them.” to “The ticket prices are ridiculous – I can think of a million things I’d rather spend money on.” and everything in-between, I get it all the time.
The consensus being that Broadway is for snooty old people in NYC with nothing better to do. But here’s the truth: Bway seats (exception: Hamilton) usually cost less than concerts (I’ll pit my theater $$ against your Taylor Swift tickets any day of the week), or comedy tours, or NFL seats… and I rarely hear anyone complaining about spending money on those.
If you enjoy TV, movies, books, music, thinking and/or being entertained, you’re probably going to love Broadway (and rightfully so). Plays are no more or less silly/serious/snobby/scholastic than anything else you’ll encounter — so lose the preconceived notions and give it a try! You never know, you might actually like it.
You might be Donald Trump IF:
….. and the only thing more dangerous than Donald Trump? The people (willfully ignorant) who continue to prop him up and make excuses for his behavior day after day after day.
Tomorrow you are seventeen. How is that even possible? When I close my eyes and conjure your image, it’s baby-you I see. From the coppery-red whisps of hair (proof positive my Irish blood runs in your veins) to your cupid’s bow of a mouth, to the perfectly formed arches of your tiny feet — where I bestowed a lifetime of kisses long before the candle on your first birthday cake sputtered out.
As my last born – my final “baby” – I’ve cherished each milestone. Cheering with you in good times, and wrapping myself around you (a cocoon as soft as whisper & gentle as a kiss) when you’ve felt the sting of rejection or loss. You’ve learned the hard way that life isn’t always fair, nor is it kind. But you’ve also witnessed first hand the grace of strangers and felt the genuine warmth of lasting love & friendship.
You’ve ridden a camel in the shadow of the great pyramids and felt the gentle rocking of the ocean beneath you when, on a chilly July night in New Zealand, you gazed in wide-eyed wonder at the twinkling Southern Cross. And you are better for it, and all the other amazing things you’ve experienced in your seventeen years on this earth.
But with great privilege comes great responsibility. Make the world a better place, sweet girl. Don’t just say “please,” “thank you” or “I’m sorry,” but mean it… even especially when it’s hard. Do good for the sake of doing good, with no expectation of reward or recognition. Give a little of your time and money to those who ask – be it NPR or PP or the ACLU or PETA (so many acronyms) or the guy holding a sign on a street corner (regardless of whether you find his hard luck story credible or not). Lead by example, and speak up when those around you grow silent.
Forgive easily and love fiercely. Know that you are wise beyond your years (an old soul) and be patient when waiting for others to catch up to you. Understand that your lists and five-year plans and blueprints are just one possibility in an infinite loop of possibilities. As a wise man (also born on your birthday) once said: life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
Sometimes, like Atlas, you are a mighty Titan bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders. Give yourself a break every once in a while. Be careful not to take on too much and delegate too little. Let others help — it’s as good for them as it is for you. Let ME help. It’s kind of my job, after all, and I’m pretty good at it if I do say so myself. Let your father and sister help, too. Know that you don’t need to be perfect all the time; flaws are part of what makes us wonderful and unique… and human.
So happy birthday, my stubborn, funny, whip-smart, beautiful baby girl. As I type this you’re three doors down sleeping peacefully in your room. But in my heart of hearts, I’m cradling you in my arms, smelling your sweet newborn head, and leaving butterfly kisses on the tiny arches of your perfectly formed feet.
So sick of all the bullshit hipster restaurant double-speak. I refuse to eat at a place with ‘fusion’ in its name or tolerate people who drone on about how they really like to dine in local bistros featuring free-range, farmer-friendly, fairly-traded cuisine that’s humanely sourced and cruelty-free.
It’s not a “neutron bomb of flavor doused in dragon’s fire and kissed w/nature’s rainbow — lovingly wrapped in a tasty mesa bun.” It’s a fucking burrito. And this is not some world-famous molecular gastronomy, Wylie Dufresne, fine dining establishment – it’s Chipotle.
… so step. off.