#WearOrange

I have goosebumps on my arms as I think about writing this.

Tomorrow, June 2, I will #WearOrange in support of National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

From wearorange.com:

“In 2013, teens on the South Side of Chicago asked classmates to honor their murdered friend by wearing orange. That simple call to action has grown into a national movement – and orange is becoming the symbol of gun safety.”

I have been involved in the social media movement to end gun violence since a relative of mine escaped with their life from Sandy Hook Elementary School. Out of respect for them, I will write no more about that. But that is why.

Last September I was sitting in a conference room in a building where the staff was filming a safety video. It was about what to do if a gunman attacks. Not knowing I was there, the actor playing the gunman pulled his gun on me in the conference room. We looked at each other. One one thousand. Two one thousand. Three one thousand. He dropped the “gun,” put his arms in the air and yelled, “I’m an actor!”

I did absolutely nothing.

Orange is the color hunters wear to protect themselves.

#WearOrange

Two of my favorite organizations:

Everytown for Gun Safety

Sandy Hook Promise

Oh Lena, you did it again

Once upon a time I pretty much always thought I was the youngest woman in the room. I looked around the conference room wondering what sort of lives the other women led. Did they have kids? Did they have sex last night? Do they use eye cream? And if yes, what kind? The sex and the eye cream, that is.

Then one summer I turned 36. I know I just got an eye roll from every woman alive who is 39, 40, and over 40. But let me add, I am not 36 anymore.

There was just something about 36 that changed me. I felt different. I might have been on an exercise hiatus, but there was a point I could literally feel my jowls sagging. I felt fucking old.

Luckily, in subsequent years, I began to settle into this new “feeling” and felt less “old.” I put a lot of effort into how to dress better and finally (at least I think) figured out my hair. And by that, I mean I figured out that it was thinning and started to take better care of it.

Yesterday Lena Dunham posted a new piece about her apology addiction. She realized she was saying sorry a million times a day in a million different situations. As a twentysomething boss, she found herself apologizing for everything, from her ideas to her direction, to employees often twice her age.

 

This post was the icebreaker I needed to dive into something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. And it’s very much tied to the evolution of my working life, and the fact that I am clearly not the youngest woman in the room anymore.

When we say sorry like this, we’re essentially apologizing for who we are. We’re apologizing for having strong opinions, good ideas and big personalities. We’re apologizing for where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished and our dreams for the future.

For some reason, for women, I feel like those things are linked to shallow or greedy behavior. When, for me, what I really want is to demonstrate what a strong working woman looks like for my girls. I want it to be part of their soul that they can do anything and everything with their lives. I want to pave that path for them. I want it to be easy for them. I want them to feel entitled.

Because I never did.

#sorrynotsorry

Read Lena’s post here.

 

 

Do you have a Daddy?

July 1. July 2. July 3. July 4. Forever scrambled in my mind.

July 1.

Preparing for visitors. A 4th of July celebration in the park. Then the call.

Your sister found him. Not breathing. Going to the hospital now. Me: Did the boys see?

At the hospital. No information. Alive but only alive with tubes, machinery. Uncle says it’s over.

I say to my mom, my sister, no, we stay and fight. We have to. It’s the only thing we know. How to fight. I remember the lighting. The sun. The bench we sat on. Their limbs. Their rings. Tangled. Weak. Translucent. Scared.

The night passes slow. Hyperventilating. Look me directly in the eyes and breathe.

July 2.

His belly. A beach ball. I am taken behind desks to phones. The family rep. Is there a chance?

The priest.

The end.

July 3.

His birthday. 57 years. No. 56 years. 364 days.

July 4.

Illegal fireworks on the street. Cans of beer in a house that never had cans of beer. Friends of relatives. What is this? What is happening? Loss of control. The house is a combination of dead people walking mixed with people who don’t understand and don’t care. I move through the house as if the air was mud. I pour out the beer. The faucet drips. The sheriff doesn’t come. Alone.

Dad. Pap Pap. I last saw you a couple of weeks before. I brought you your birthday present. A Red Sox hat. Because you really, really, really liked my boyfriend from the East Coast. I am so glad I saw you then and we celebrated a birthday we didn’t know you would never have.

My 3-year-old asked me a few months ago, Do you have a Daddy? Yes. I do. I did. You probably won’t ever meet him. But you know

When I pretend my fingers are monsters and tickle you and your sister, that’s your Grandpa Lou.

When I make silly robot sounds, that’s your Grandpa Lou.

When I wax poetic about the trees, the clouds, the breeze, that’s your Grandpa Lou.

When I take you to the movies on July 3, that’s your Grandpa Lou.

When I encourage your love of art and make up stories at bedtime, that’s your Grandpa Lou.

So many ways you will know him, without knowing him. If that is possible.

Nine years. Tomorrow we go the movies.

Me_Dad_Fairyland Dad

The Ghost of Halloween Past

October 31, 2014:

Sitting on the couch, listening to the rain, waiting for my sleeping beauties to wake up so we can watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown before eating English muffin pizzas and heading over to the neighbor’s house for a pre-trick or treating party.

October 31, 1998:

photo-50

 

You might say, “She looks lit up like a Jack o’ Lantern.” You might ask, “Why is she posting a picture where she looks lit up like a Jack o’ Lantern?”

Well first off, that’s my friend Natalie and she looks great. We can all agree on that.

Even though I don’t, I still like this picture. Because when I pass it through my present-day mommy filter of Would I show this to my kids? the answer is yes. Because I was 20 years old, half-way to my degrees in journalism and creative writing, and we made those costumes by hand.

I also love this picture for the very simple reason that the girl in black is someone I used to know. She does not exist anymore. She has changed and rebooted and become this responsible homeowner, career woman, mother of two sweet angels-slash-future presidents. A girl who used to put so much time and energy into not caring turned into someone who cares so much it keeps her up at night.

I love this picture because it is a time capsule of my very own life. A bright, sudsy spot on my own time-space continuum.

I didn’t grow up in a household where education was valued as much as it is in my home now. I filled out the FAFSA form myself. I stumbled through college with zero guidance.

But I wrote the entire way through. I wrote poetry, slam poetry, personal essays, short fiction and articles for the student newspaper.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it saved me.

I also love this picture for that very statement: I didn’t know it at the time. 

Jack o’ Lantern or no (I’ll never tell), I’m proud of who this girl was and who she is now. Because a light that flickers is still a light. And mine is now very, very bright.

My Friend Who Beat MS

OK, people. Let’s do this.

Maybe you read my Facebook post the other day that linked to a very special Go Fund Me regarding my friend Susannah. Or maybe you didn’t, so here I am trying to get your attention again.

When Susannah and I met some years ago as copywriters on the same creative team, I immediately knew I had found a kindred spirit. I confided all sorts of things to her about how terrified I was about wanting a baby. I remember when she told me she was 7 weeks pregnant with her son. She quickly became the person I sought out for advice on life. This is simply because she is the most creative mother I know and the best writer I know.

Yesterday Susannah told us she was diagnosed with MS. She is traveling to Tel Aviv in January to undergo a  Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant. From her blog, Petunia Face:

“The easiest explanation of HSCT is this: the patient has her stems cells removed via bone marrow aspiration or peripheral blood, then given high dose chemotherapy to ablate the immune system. Then the patient is given back her stem cells to re-set the immune system. Think of it like a re-boot of your computer, wiping the hard drive clean and starting over. The immune system has to learn all over again which things to fight (pathogens like bacteria and viruses) and which things to leave alone (myelin).

HSCT is currently in Phase III clinical trial in the US, but the acceptance criteria is quite narrow as they seek FDA approval. I was not accepted. However, there are many international hospitals and clinics that have been performing HSCT for auto-immune diseases for years: Germany, Italy, Denmark, Canada, Norway, South Africa, Russia and Israel.

I have been accepted for treatment by the International Center for Cell Therapy & Cancer Immunotherapy in Tel Aviv headed by  Prof. Slavin, the man who pioneered the use of HSCT for MS. I check in on January 4th and will be there about 6 weeks.

Unfortunately, HSCT is not cheap. Treatment alone is $128,000 plus I have to stay at a sterile hotel that’s connected to the clinic  at roughly $15,000, airfare, food, expenses, etc. for a grand total of $160,000. I am looking to raise $85,000.

Here’s the thing: if you’re reading this then you know me somehow. Maybe we are good friends or family, we work together or did at some point. Maybe we grew up together or you read my blog or I’m a friend of a friend of a cousin of that girl. You know the one? That’s me. And I refuse to be that girl you know who has MS.

I am going to be that girl you know who beat MS.

And whatever you can contribute to help me do that, I cannot thank you enough.”

So. If you are reading this, you know me somehow as well. As Susannah would say, Let’s fight this fucker. Please consider making a donation, however small, to help someone who has touched my life in ways I cannot put into words.

Here is the link to make a donation: http://www.gofundme.com/The-Girl-Who-Beat-MS

 

Dude, it’s not the fro yo.

So sometimes fro yo is a BIG DEAL.

Like the other day we took the girls for a treat after dinner. We were stunned at how family after family came in for a “treat” then proceeded to let said “treat” unravel into a parenting meltdown.

Here I go…about to judge…in 3, 2, 1—

This Dad. Ok wait, let’s start with the mom and the two girls of middle school age. They come in and we hear some disagreements over the amount of toppings one of the girls puts on her fro yo. But they weigh and purchase the tubs o’ treat and sit down. Fine.

No no no NOT fine. Dad walks in. Proceeds to FREAK OUT over the amount of fro yo and toppings his daughter was enjoying.

“You can’t eat all that! That’s too much!” he says.

“I know! I tried to tell her to stop but she wouldn’t listen,” mom says.

“No. No. Absolutely NOT! You cannot eat all that!” he shouts, “Oh my god! That is TOO MUCH SUGAR!”

The girl and her sister are just sitting there eating their illicit fro yo. At this point Dad is pacing in concentric circles around the tiny shop, exclaiming his frustration for all to hear. Then he walks over to the register.

“Do you have the nutritional info for this stuff?” he asks the woman behind the counter. She hands it to him, amazingly. He scans it and gives it back to the woman.

“Oh my god, ok ok. You can take THREE more bites because we have to GO!” he tells his daughter.

“One.”

(This is awkward.)

“Two.”

(This is really awkward.)

“Three.”

“—but mom let me get it,” the girl says.

“Well your MOM should have been WATCHING you more CAREFULLY,” he says.

Mom walks out the door.

In sudden realization of his audience—”Oh ha ha it’s not that bad ha ha.”

Then—

“But we have to GO. NOW.”

Treat tubs tossed.

Bye!

I know this guy just seems like a dick and you’re probably feeling sorry for the girls at this point. Don’t. This was an affluent, well-educated area. That family is doing fine. Those girls want for not. (Except for maybe those last few bites of fro yo.) I’m sure they went back to their happy home with cats and dogs and pillows, ballet slippers and lots of pink.

In the moment, I was like whoa. But then I thought about the things that set me off. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a public display of my distaste for Barbie, but I’m sure it’s coming. No! Oh my god! You cannot have that disgustingly disproportionate doll!

But that is probably because I still avoid that aisle in the toy store. And sometimes that is the best tactic.

Take a picture, it'll last longer, girls.
Take a picture, it’ll last longer, girls.
Mmm this is good. And my mom made it for me.
Mmm this is good. And my mom gave it to me.
Fro yo freakout.
Fro yo freakout.

 

 

 

Pseudocyesis. It’s what’s for lunch.

So it turns out that having children back to back is kind of tough on the body.

My baby turned 18 months this week, I stopped breastfeeding her 7 months ago and my body I SWEAR TO GOD still thinks it is pregnant.

It’s called a false pregnancy, or Pseudocyesis if you’re into that whole I fucking love science thing and I know a lot of you are. 

So according to our joint primary care physician, webMD, both men and women can have false pregnancies. It’s called: You’ve gone crazy! No just kidding, this is apparently very real.

Some women even stop getting their period and get distended bellies. This type of a false pregnancy is not to be made fun of and I wouldn’t dare. These women are most likely TTC and have a really hard time dealing with the pregnancy not being real.

And apparently I can’t put together an intelligent sentence today, which I believe to be a symptom of my false pregnancy. Right, mom?

Ok so my false pregnancy symptoms include:

Pregnancy brain. I already talked about that.

Third-term-like hunger. I’m a savage. Still. If I try to do the salad thing for lunch, I am all low-blood sugar about to faint with a headache by 5 p.m. It’s just not right.

Nausea. Don’t even get me started on brushing my teeth. It’s no fun gagging at 6:30 in the morning during this banal daily ritual. What. The. Fuck. Other nausea-inducing activities include walking down the street and using dry shampoo powder.

Greasy face. Bloating. Just look at me. It looks like I ate a block of cheese 8 hours ago. Just because I did makes no difference.

Baby movement. Both my kids (as I expect most do) had major hiccups in utero. I would feel these constant, rhythmic bubbles all the time. I still get this sensation from time to time, and although I know it’s a different kind of movement, it feels exactly like someone is in there. 

Anyway, to answer the question at the top of your mind. No, I’m not actually pregnant. It’s just that my body still thinks it is.

I’d be interested to know if any of you out there have experienced anything similar? How do I get this to go away? How long is it going to last? Am I ever going to be normal again?