Birthday Fun

Two friends celebrated birthdays recently and helped me check off two birthday list items:

1. Make a terrarium

Have you heard of Plant Nite? How about Paint Nite? It’s the same idea…have a few drinks and some food and make something to take home with you.

I like plants and gardening, although I only have two plants (that survive even though I forget to water them) and I don’t know anything about gardening. So I was looking forward to making a terrarium.

It was really easy: Put a layer of rocks in the bottom of a planter, then a bunch of soil. Insert a few cute succulents.








And then decorate with colored moss, plastic dinosaurs, and colored rocks. Voila!








This particular planter requires bright sunlight, which my apartment never sees. So we’ll see how long this darling terrarium survives…

2. Ride on a party bus

Another friend booked a party bus for her birthday. It was an old school bus re-purposed for people to drink, eat, dance, and sing while being driven around for hours.










There were about 20 of us, so we had room to mingle and dance.










We made a pit stop at a brewery, where only half of us were allowed to enter due to maximum capacity. So our group found a small Chinese restaurant nearby and ordered some drinks, providing cheap entertainment to the “regulars” eating their Saturday dinners.

After three hours of riding around the city and singing along to a plethora of ’80s and ’90s hits, we were dropped off at the North End and had a fabulous dinner.

Thanks, Linda and Abby, for helping me with my list. 😉


Be #StigmaFree

[Getting on my soapbox]

I consider myself very lucky because I have never lost a family member or a close friend to a tragic circumstance such as an accident, crime, or suicide. So lucky.

But in the past two weeks, two acquaintances have died by such tragic circumstances. My mind reels and my heart aches.

A few days after New Year’s, I learned that my former neighbor committed suicide. We lived on the same floor for years. We were friendly when we ran into each other,  yet I don’t think we ever had a full conversation. Typical city living. She was 31 and had just gotten a promotion at work. And she was in so much pain that she took her own life.

Last night, I learned that a student from my alma mater whom I met last year was murdered off campus early in the morning. Details are still sketchy, but it seems that a former student of the college killed his current or ex-girlfriend as well as the student whom I met, Matt Hutchinson. Matt was the leader of a group of students who came to Boston for a week to meet with alumni and explore Boston. He was friendly and smart and eager to learn from the alumni he met.

My alma mater is located in a very small community. The alleged perpetrator comes from a prominent family who has lived there for generations. I am sure that every single community member is grieving.

When I asked myself why these events occurred or what could have prevented such tragedies, one of my answers was “get rid of the stigma around mental health.”

Now I know that many depressed people completely mask their pain and that some people “just snap” out of the blue and murder others.

But in how many of these cases are there “warning signs” that are ignored?

Did this young woman tell anyone how she was feeling? Did the person on the receiving end not take her seriously? Did anyone notice a change in her behavior or mood?

Did this young man who killed two people and then himself have a history of violence? Did anyone notice his possible poor impulse control/short temper/apathy, etc.?

How can we start treating mental illness like physical illness?

We have to destroy the stigma surrounding mental illness. We have to help our loved ones who are struggling.

What is stigma?

You can be stigma free by taking a pledge to learn more about mental health.

If you need resources for yourself or loved ones, they are out there:

Project 375

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Mental Health Screening Tools

We need to start TALKING about mental illness.

R.I.P., Matt. (Courtesy of
R.I.P., Matt. (Courtesy of

The Tide Is High

The birthday list has given me a good excuse to add to my music collection. Each year I’ve bought a CD of an artist that I don’t have in my current collection. I’ve added some jazz artists and international artists to my collection (Chet Baker, Thelonious Monk, Edith Piaf, Feli Kuti), and I decided that I also need to acquire more music by female solo artists and female-fronted bands.

This decision led me to the purchase of a live Blondie CD at a used record shop in Providence a few weeks ago.

When Blondie was in its heyday, I was playing with dolls and learning to read. But Blondie’s music stood the test of time and years after the songs climbed the charts and won awards, I was listening to them on the radio: “Call Me,” “One Way or the Other,” “Heart of Glass,” “The Tide Is High.”

As I listened to this album, I realized that I don’t own many live albums. Why not, I asked myself incredulously. It’s the next best thing to attending a concert! Note to self: buy more live albums.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Blondie songs.


I watched the movie Patton the other night ( #89 on the AFI’s top 100 movie list).

War movies are not my thing, but I have enjoyed the ones I’ve watched from the top 100 movie list. They’ve all featured stellar acting, direction, cinematography…and how can one not be amazed at the re-creation of huge battle scenes?

General George Patton is heralded as one of the best WWII combat leaders. The man lived for battle; it was inspiring to see how passionate he was about military strategy and history. Unfortunately he was prone to put his foot in his mouth more than a few times. But at the end of the day, he is remembered for his triumphs on the field.

Patton won seven Oscars. Here’s some interesting trivia: George C. Scott, who played the role of Patton, was nominated for this film and was the first actor to refuse an Oscar nomination. And he won anyway.

He sounds like a character himself! I’m putting a few of his best-known movies on my to-watch list. From reading his biography, I confirmed my guess that he is the father of Campbell Scott.

Campbell Scott! Say the name and I hear this song play. And this song play. And this song play. OMG, I’m a freshman in college again!!

Excuse the digression.

So that was #5 on the birthday list, folks. Thirty-six left to go…

Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick in "Singles" (Courtesy of
Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick in “Singles” (Courtesy of
George C. Scott as Patton (Courtesy of
George C. Scott as Patton (Courtesy of