Gloria and Dan

I saw two 20th-century icons speak recently: Gloria Steinem and Dan Rather.

Gloria was a keynote speaker at the opening night of the Massachusetts Conference for Women. I hadn’t  attended the conference before, so the opening night was a good overview of the event. The exhibit hall was impressive: areas for career resources, nonprofits, female business owners selling their products, and multiple authors available for book signings. There were other keynote speakers that evening as well, but my friend and I only tuned in for Gloria.

I wish I could pass on some nuggets of her wisdom, but since my dad’s sudden death, most of my day-to-day thoughts and memories are crowded out by my thoughts and memories of him. I do recall that she was fierce, real, and optimistic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan is touring with his recently published book with Elliot Kirschner, What Unites Us. Again, I don’t remember a word he said, but he was also fierce, real, and optimistic. I saw him speak on the one-month anniversary of my dad’s passing, and I fell asleep that night wishing that I could tell my dad all about it, since he was a fan of 60 Minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to get back in the saddle regarding the birthday list, but I’m taking it slow and will give myself an extra month or two to complete it. Bear with me, dear readers.

 

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Derailed

My birthday list has been derailed because my life has been derailed.

On December 11, I found out that my dad died. No warning whatsoever. He had a heart attack in bed.

I’m thankful that he passed quickly and painlessly (I hope anyway) but sometimes I think the magnitude of shock and grief might kill me, too.

He lived in the house that I grew up in, a seven-hour drive from where I live. I immediately flew home and spent a week with my brother, who lives in the same town as my dad. My dad left no will and no paperwork in order, so much of the week was spent scrambling trying to figure out his accounts. We only paused for brief moments of grieving, where we would cry over the fact that he would never walk through my brother’s door unannounced like Kramer on Seinfeld, as he did on almost a daily basis…or cry as we shuffled through his house and came across a picture of him and my brother’s daughter that he had tacked up on the wall…or found cards that we had sent him years ago.

We made multiple visits to the funeral home in town, having to make decisions about the burial, the memorial service, the memorial cards, the cremains. We have no idea what my dad wanted, but we think he’d be happy with what we chose. I had to write his obituary, which was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. How do you sum up a person’s life in a few paragraphs?

I’ve been experiencing the first four stages of grief like it’s my full-time job. One minute I’m looking through photos for the memorial service slideshow and I feel completely numb. The next minute I’m running errands and every time I pass an elderly man, I think, “Why does he get to live and my dad doesn’t?” Sometimes I start to go down the road of, “What if I had called him [a few days before he died], heard that he was very sick, and begged him to go to a doctor?” (He had either a bad cold or the flu before he died, which can increase the risk of heart attacks.) I’ve had moments where I’ve thought that I couldn’t go on.

I look to my friends who have already lost parents as inspiration. With time, the wounds will heal somewhat and I will live a “normal life” again. One day in the future, when I think about my dad, I’ll crack a smile instead of break down in uncontrollable sobs. I wait for that day.

 

 

 

 

Year 14

It’s frightening how fast 2017 has gone. It’s time for my 14th annual birthday list already.

I started off strong with the help of my friend Daisy last weekend. We went to Harvard Bookstore’s warehouse sale, which happens twice a year. The last thing I need is more books, but I told myself I would be “holiday shopping.”

Harvard Bookstore Warehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well…I did buy two books to give as holiday gifts. I also bought three books to donate to the Prison Book Program. And I bought two for myself…

I couldn’t resist the prices! Seven books cost $31. And two of them were hardcovers.

If you’re crowd-averse, you would want to skip this sale…it was mobbed and borderline annoying to browse the aisles. But because I’m a bibliophile, I will return.

That same evening, I tried wild boar at the Brighton Bodega. It’s a new restaurant in my area, and everything we tried was phenomenal. Brussels sprouts, mussels, kimchi burgers, and wild boar. Not surprisingly, wild boar tastes a lot like pork chops. It was complemented by smoky cheese grits.

Wild boar and grits at Brighton Bodega restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fact that ’80s new wave music was playing during our first hour there was a well-noted bonus.

Next on the blog: I hear a feminist icon speak…

 

If Cats Spoke English

My cat Olive is sick. One day a few weeks ago, I noticed that her back legs were weak and she was sometimes sliding or walking bow-legged. There were no other signs that she was in pain. I thought that she might have diabetes, since that’s a common disease among older cats.

Well, her bloodwork came back fine, so the next step was to see a neurologist. The neurologist examined her and came to the conclusion that something is probably wrong with her spine; maybe a tumor is pressing on it.

But I’ll never know what is wrong with her, because it costs thousands of dollars to have an MRI done. I feel like a bad mom, but I don’t have that kind of money. What makes this decision a little less distressing are the facts that she is 17 years old and has lived a healthy life up until now. So, for now, I am giving her some medication that will help decrease inflammation.

She is acting normally otherwise, but I do wonder if she is in any pain. Cats are great at masking pain (an evolutionary trait). If only she spoke English, she could respond to my query, “What is your level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced.”

I’ve had Olive for almost her entire life. She’s a complicated girl (read: semi-feral and engages in unprovoked attacks), but she has been the best companion she could be. She’s like the family member who is sometimes a thorn in your side, but you love them anyway.

I’m enjoying every day I have left with her before she crosses the rainbow bridge.

cat sitting on counter at the vet

Olive at a vet appointment

2017 Birthday Trip

OK, I’ve finally made it to the last item on my 2017 birthday list: my birthday trip to Sandwich, Massachusetts.

This is the 13th year that I’ve traveled to a new place for my birthday. I decided to go to another town on the Cape (Cape Cod for non-locals), since I’ve lived in Boston for 18 years and can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to the Cape.

Sandwich caught my eye, because it’s the first town on the Cape, and I found an Airbnb that was within walking distance of the town. The trip had a rough start. I took a bus from Boston, which dropped me off at a Park and Ride lot a few miles from Sandwich. I planned to pick up a regional bus from there that would stop in downtown Sandwich. It was raining very hard as I waited in a bus shelter at the Park and Ride lot for an hour until the regional bus arrived.

Well, the regional bus arrived and blew right past me. The next regional bus would be coming by two hours later. In a panic, I tried to find a local taxi service. All I could find were charter airport buses. I was unable to download the Uber app because there is something wrong with my Apple ID. I contacted my Airbnb host to ask if she knew of any taxi services, but she didn’t respond immediately because she was out running errands.

She did respond eventually and offered to pick me up. I was beyond grateful! She was lovely as was her house. It was built in the 1700s, and our room had a secret panel that an owner built in case he had to run from the Tories during the Revolutionary War.

The rain finally stopped, so I was able to walk around downtown and get afternoon tea at a teahouse. The downtown was very small, but I enjoyed walking past a beautiful church that was featured on an Elvis Presley album cover and seeing the Dexter Grist Mill, which was built in 1637.

My partner Allen drove down the next day, so we were able to see some sites that were farther afield from the downtown area. The Heritage Museums and Gardens was fantastic. The rhododendrons in bloom were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also an impressive car collection on display as well as a gallery of American art and a working carousel! You could easily spend an entire day there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had an early dinner and then drove to the Sandwich Boardwalk to watch the sunset. The boardwalk is 1,000+ feet long! Part of it does not have a railing, so I started feeling dizzy while walking to the beach at the end of it. But it was totally worth it. The sunset was breathtaking, but isn’t it always?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we left town the next day, we went to the Sandwich Glass Museum. Sandwich was a major hub of glass production in the 1800s. We were lucky to catch a glassblowing demonstration when we first entered. Then we spent more than an hour learning about the history of glassmaking in Sandwich and seeing hundreds of glass pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plates, glasses, vases, salt cellars, chickens…all different colors and patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandwich was well worth a visit and I was glad to spend a birthday there. So now I’m counting down to birthday list #43, which will commence in about 1.5 months. !?!??!

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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