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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A New England Delicacy

I finally tried the New England delicacy known as fluffernutter. I’m not sure why it took me 18 years to try it since marshmallow is in my top 5 foods list. But the past is the past. Marshmallow Fluff was created in Somerville, MA, hence the regionalism.

I haven’t bought white bread in years, so it was kind of a thrill to buy some Wonder Italian bread. I usually eat chunky peanut butter, but that didn’t seem like the right thing to use in this situation, so I bought creamy peanut butter. And then I bought THE FLUFF.

Fluffernutter

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wasn’t sure what the consistency would be like. Well, it’s like a gooey paste. I also wasn’t sure of the proportions…how much fluff to put on the bread. On my first attempt, I did not use enough Fluff.

Fluffernutter sandwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

The container is huge so I will have many more chances to perfect the proportions! The verdict is = delicious. A salty-sweet combination is always a winner, isn’t it? I’ve read that there are many variations of this delicacy; have you tried any?

 

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

I’m reporting on the birthday list out of order because of a sense of urgency.

One week ago, I participated in the Boston Women’s March for America. Although I participated in a small march for water justice for the birthday list years ago, this march is going on this year’s list. It was a rally AND a march…and I have never been to a rally and a march with 175,000+ other people!

I attended with a group of friends. We arrived about an hour before the start of the rally. We were pretty far back, so once more people arrived and filled in, we couldn’t see the stage. But we were able to hear all of the motivational speeches by our mayor, senators, and local human rights advocates and community members.

Boston Women's March for America

An hour before the start of the rally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t put into words what the experience felt like. If I were forced to, I would say it was peaceful, positive, and purposeful. There were people of all ages, gender identities, and nationalities. Many of the signs that people were carrying made us laugh out loud in solidarity. The event organizers were not prepared for the number of people in attendance, so we waited in a logjam for two hours before approaching the start of the march route.

Boston Women's March for America

Waiting in the logjam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The march was great because people were yelling chants into bullhorns to encourage us to use our voices. One of my favorites was “This is what democracy looks like!” By the time we reached the halfway mark of the 1.5 mile route, my friends and I had been on our feet for six hours. Hungry and tired, we peeled off and headed home.

Boston Women's March for America

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing that there were 700+ marches taking place around the world made me feel even more empowered and hopeful. There are millions of people who care about equality for all. As one of the speakers said, “There are more of us than there are of them.”

Boston Women's March for America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I completed the first of 10 actions for the first 100 days. I sent postcards to my senators, writing about which causes I care most about and why. Join me!

 

4, 3, 2, 1

My third favorite band is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. I discovered these guys on December 31, 2000, when they opened for Barenaked Ladies in Boston. I had been a Boston resident for a year and a half, so to me, Guster is synonymous with my entire life in Boston….i.e., my early 20s to early 40s and counting.

Guster had been a band for nine years at that point, having met each other during their freshman year at Tufts University. I dug their music because a lot of it was fun and had a great beat, yet they could also write songs that were serious and thoughtful. And I dug them as people because I found them to be great musicians, as well as being spontaneous, quirky, creative, and comical.

I got to know them well because they toured in New England A LOT, it being their home turf. This is mind-boggling, but between the years of 2001 and 2016, I have seen them at least 27 times. I say “at least” because I know I am missing a few ticket stubs.

January 2016, Boston

January 2016, Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What sealed the deal for this love affair is that during my early years of following the band, Brian, the drummer, wrote an online “road journal” about their adventures on the road. I remember laughing out loud until I cried many, many times. My love for this journal led me to send an email into the ether, to Guster’s general email address, to express my appreciation.

And Brian wrote back! We had an email correspondence for a few years. It was a special experience and I really appreciated how he took time to chat with the fans.

There have been many concert highlights over the years, but here are a few:

  • Seeing them at University of New Hampshire in 2003 with a new work friend…we drove up on a weeknight and waited outside after the show and met Brian! So fun. We were giddy and goofy the entire ride home as only 20-somethings who just met a rock star could be. Years later, the same friend scored backstage passes for one of their Boston shows and we met them again.
  • Attending a show at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston on Halloween: Both Guster and the fans dressed up. I think that they also opened the show by descending from the ceiling while seated in chairs.
  • Seeing them perform at Radio City Music Hall and with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
  • Seeing them in my hometown in New York. It was my second time seeing them outside of their home turf of New England. It was sold out, and a friend and I stood around before the show trying to find her a ticket. And at the last minute, we did! It was great to see Guster being embraced in my hometown.

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Guster just announced a four-day residency at the Paradise in Boston in January. Guess who bought a four-day pass?

October and the Trees Are Stripped Bare

Well, my two other most favorite bands are celebrating anniversaries this year, so let’s give them some love, too.

U2 just celebrated 40 years as a band. 40 years! Not many bands can claim this milestone.

I was late to the U2 game. I remember hearing their early hits on the Top 40 countdown, but the first album I bought was Achtung Baby in 1991. So if I had to pick a favorite album, I would pick this one. Because it’s the one that made me fall head over heels. So many of these lyrics are imprinted on my heart.

“Took a drive in the dirty rain to a place where the wind calls your name”

“You gave me nothing; now it’s all I got”

“Love is clockworks and cold steel, fingers too numb to feel”

“If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel (on your kneels, boy!)”

U2 is an inspiration not only because they are incredibly gifted musicians and perform stunningly good live shows, but also because of their politics (which I happen to agree with). Some of their most popular songs are about injustice, political movements, war against others, war against ourselves. Watch them take on Trump recently.

I first saw them in concert in 1997, right before my 22nd birthday. Two friends and I drove six hours to see them. It was the Pop Mart tour, so I remember the wild graphics and stage setup. I also remember that we were walking around when they started playing, so we freaked and my friends, two tall men, proceeded up a down escalator. I barely made it; they had to yank me up the last few steps.

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The next time I saw them was in Boston in 2001. They played four nights and I attended two of them. They produced a concert film of the shows, which is awesome. Boston loves U2!

2005 is the year I set my credit card on fire for the boys…they played in Boston for two nights in October, of which I attended one. I remember the seats were one of the best I’d ever had at a concert.

…Until December, when they returned for two nights. I attended both. This is where my memory fails me: I remember meeting a guy at a subway stop and buying a ticket from him for one of the nights. When he had bought it, he thought he was buying two tickets because the price was so steep. So he decided to sell it. I remember being grateful to him because he was selling the ticket for less than he paid. It was a super special ticket that allowed me to go to an exclusive bar at the venue before the show and I received a leather folder embossed with the U2 tour logo.

For years, I’ve though that I spent maybe $175 on the ticket. Which is a lot! But I just looked at the price on the ticket: $390.

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Whaaaat! Did I really pay that much? I doubt it, but I’ll never know. But I do know that I had the time of my life at the concert.

It was also in 2005 that I attempted to give U2 a letter. I had read that they were staying at the Ritz. I wrote a heartfelt note thanking them for their music, being an inspiration, etc. etc. With note in hand, I, along with a work friend, walked into the Ritz’s lobby and asked the person at reception if U2 was staying there. The response was, “I can’t confirm that.”

OK. So then my friend and I approached the doorman. My friend was cute so we chatted him up. He didn’t confirm or deny that they were staying there either. But he ended up taking the note and said he would try to get it to them. I’m not hopeful that they received it, but I’m happy that I at least attempted to thank them.

I missed the band’s next visit in 2009 because they played at a stadium outside of Boston and I didn’t have a car or any super fan friends to go with.

Therefore, I went 10 long years without seeing U2. I saw them in Boston last fall. What I love about their concerts is that they always play a perfect mix of new and old songs. The magic in the air at their shows is incredible. There is nothing like belting out the lyrics to “Bloody Sunday” or “Pride” along with 19,000 other people.

U2 is going on tour next year when they release a new album. And I’ll be there.

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BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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