Wednesday, March 1, 2017


No, Van Jones. You are wrong. Have you ever opened the door to someone dressed in uniform, hat in hand, informing you that your loved one is dead? I can't imagine you have because only then would you have clearly seen right through last night's show of GRIEFPLOITATION.

Last night, Ryan Owen's wife was used as a puppet. This poor, grieving woman was propped up next to a mannequin in an off-the-shoulder cocktail dress and used. Used to do exactly what you fell for, Van Jones. She was used to bolster 45's ratings. She was used to make him appear human. She was used so that 45 could have his greatest, dramatic televised moment yet.

What you didn't see was that this was also a smack in the face to Ryan Owen's father. Remember him? He's the man who wants to understand why his son is dead. He's the one who has dared to question what happened. He's the one demanding accountability. But 45 doesn't know what accountability means.

So last night's performance was 45's greatest weapon - his aha moment of retribution. Put the grieving wife on stage to keep daddy in his place. Deliver some sappy bullshit message (written by someone else) about a once-vibrant-now-dead 36 year-old father, husband, and son smiling down from Heaven with pride. Work those puppy-dog eyes as you gaze skyward toward the balcony while delivering a lie that makes you feel better.

A lie that vindicates you.

A lie of absolution.

A lie that makes you feel like you are winning (because winning is more sacred to you than life).

Did God tell you Ryan is happy? Did God tell you that Ryan is pumped that he "broke a [television] record"?

Personally, I assume that if Ryan were looking down he was desperately wanting to console his wife. He was trying to use his special forces training to move heaven and earth in order to transcend time and space so that he could swoop in and rescue her from the debacle in which she co-starred. He was running in circles trying to figure out some way to be able to tuck his children into bed again.

Ryan Owens and his family didn't sign on to co-star in the greatest griefploitation show our country has ever seen. I say co-star because we all know that 45 was the headlining star who couldn't be less connected to the concept of human sacrifice and human suffering.

Ok, Van Jones - I'll give you your "extraordinary moment". I call it an extraordinary moment of sub-humanity in which a spineless leader killed two birds with one stone. He shot back at a grieving father while pulling one over on a country that can't get enough of reality TV. Bravo, America. Bravo!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Ties That Bond

I'm obsessed with Attachment Theory. I have been since grad school. The longer I practice, the longer I live, and the longer I love, I am convinced it is the sun around which every heart orbits.

It started with my Attachment Theory professor. If anyone was going to teach Attachment Theory, it should have been her. She was the embodiment of the good enough mother she taught us so much about. Her voice was like liquid gold. When she spoke I was mesmerized. I often felt like climbing into her lap (and sometimes falling asleep which was probably not such a good thing). Everything about her was a combination of smooth and soothing. She was smoothing.

As she talked about John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, it was as if she were reading me a bedtime story. Attachment theory, as taught by Professor S made me downright googy-eyed. It probably also had something to do with the unspeakable grief I was freshly carrying at that time. After all, I was pretty broken and here was this angelic, maternal figure talking to me about how I got attached to what I had lost in the first place.

I had lunch with one of my college housemates the other day. We probably haven't seen each other in over 10 years and yet we live across town from each other. It's my fault. My brother was killed the fall after I graduated from college. He was a freshman at my Alma Mater...

- Alma Mater: (Latin: alma "nourishing/kind", mater "mother"; is an allegorical Latin phrase for a university or college. In modern usage, it is a school or university which an individual has attended. The phrase is variously translated as "nourishing mother", "nursing mother", or "fostering mother" suggesting that a school provides intellectual nourishment to its students...") - 

and that's where he died. In the aftermath of that tire-screeching moment, my secure ties to my Alma Mater - my four-year "Foster Mater" where I was socially, emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually nurtured - had shattered. My university family, and all that had felt right and good and warm and fuzzy in my contained little universe, was no more.. 

My internal air-bag had been deployed. For years (and probably, on some level, even today) I kept that air-bag with me, using it as a shield against the hurt and the betrayal, the loss of security, sense of safety, and of so much of what I loved. My anchors, my tethers had been torn from me. I was bereft, adrift, floating through time and space holding tight to that airbag. Now that those ties which had bonded me to a vibrant life, to my friends, and to my future had been severed, I use(d) it to hide. I was bleeding out and needed to stay away.

And so I walk(ed) through life for a while, air-bag deployed, subconsciously avoiding deep contact with all the things, all the people, all the places I once so intensely loved. Sure, I could talk to them on Facebook where I could strategically watch them from a safe distance, as if through a veil, behind a curtain. But I feared going near them. Close proximity would be akin to staring into the sun. No way would I subject myself to that sort of burn.

But at some point, perhaps, my air bag sprang a leak? Something seemed to have shifted as I set out the other day to see my former housemate, the sister-like person with whom, for years, I had grown-up, laughed, cried, fought, screamed, hated, lived, and loved. When I saw her, the sensory response was beyond words. It was magnetic. My airbag had deflated, replaced by an intense force of re-connection, of remembering, of familiarity, of attachment - and it was completely beyond my control.

Which brings me back to Attachment Theory. Somehow, I was still linked to her and to our moment in time when we became young adults. The energy was palpable. In that first moment, during that first hello hug, I was engulfed by love and a sense of security. Those seemingly severed ties and broken strings were actually still intact. Somehow, they had weathered my storm. My grief had not destroyed my ability to love. In fact, the love actually felt stronger, flooding through me - like a tidal wave - after which it then settled into a peaceful inner pool where I could float once again, sit across the table from her, drink our coffee, and connect.

She felt like home.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Day 3:


That moment in the early morning
When my eyes flutter
My head still in a delicious cocoon
Of warm blanket
Soft pillow
And I start to
My first breath of the day.

And then
It gets stuck
Because it hits that wall
In the middle of my chest
Any further.
There's no more space to inhale.

And then
I shiver
And try to let the breath back out
But I can't do that
Because that wall in my chest
Is sticky
And won't let go
Of that breath.

And then
I'm frozen and suspended
In this no-place where
I can't breathe in
I can't breathe out
And the feelings
All the feelings
Are crawling
All over my insides
And my skin on my outside.

And then
I'm drowning
In my bed
In my body
In my thoughts
A sea of sad

And then
I'm barely breathing
Trying to turn back around
To escape into a sleepy darkness
That won't let me in
Another sticky wall
I beg it to
Let me
Try to begin again.

Day 4 After November 8, 2016

Day 4:
Interrupting the political today for personal (at least now at 5:45am).

Abcug's Humans Of New York

When I graduated from college in 1993, it was a tough time for the job seeker. I remember walking through Manhattan, visiting employment agencies wearing these very cool black platform Mary Jane pumps that were so 1993. I refused to wear a suit because I wanted to land a job with the "creatives". Having eaten books alive since I can remember, I had dreams of working for one of the great publishing companies. With copies of my ecru resume in my portfolio pad, this Brandeis BA in English and American Literature was ready.

One day I saw Jesus. He was walking naked up 5th Avenue by the NYPL with a cross tied to his back and a garland of flowers around his head. This was when "those" people were still part of my New York. You never knew what you'd see out there and that day, well, I saw and heard the gospel.

Not long after my come to Jesus moment - Hallelujah! (RIP Leonard Cohen), Miracle of Sweet Miracles! - I was offered a job. No one had a job. Starting salaries were $18,500 a year. But, 200 Madison Avenue, here I was. Black tights, black platform Mary Janes, commuting from home, stopping for a coffee and a coffee cake muffin every morning - I had arrived.

My "Putnam People" were my joy. I refer to them as such because they were special and part of my "before" life (getting to that). We had such fun. I don't know what other people did during lunch at their jobs, but we threw French Fete's with Edith Piaf playing in the background and had Burger King kid's parties replete with cardboard crowns and group trips to Molly Wee for colleagues' birthdays. We worked hard, but we also had life.

Part of my job involved traveling to book conventions. Those days would often  conclude with long, luxurious dinners comprised of authors, librarians and other book folk. Our conversations - oh the conversations - were vibrant and smart and raucous and adult. I was 22 and I had found my place in job heaven.

And then came Anaheim. Thursday night November 11, 1993, I sat eating and drinking and talking the night away. I have forgotten the name of this particular convention but I do remember the chocolate soufflé. While I labored over whether or not to have this "must order" chocolate soufflé, back in Waltham, my brother seemed to also have been hungry.

I ate that soufflé at around 11 pm. He apparently left the campus of Brandeis sometime around then, the passenger in a borrowed car driven by a pledge brother. I'll never quite know what food decisions he labored over early that morning in Waltham while I was on the west coast savoring every last bite of my soufflé on that (still for me) evening, but I hope he chose well.

On November 12, 1993, at 7 am PST, the hotel room phone jolted me awake (we were still mostly cell phone-less back then). As I reached for the phone, there was a pounding at my door. It seemed like my boss was trying to get in. I had to figure out how to hold the phone (with cord) and somehow reach the door. I have no idea how I did it, but I did. And, as I said hello to the person on the other end of the line, and to H who came charging at me (and, I think, caught me as I crumbled to the floor), I learned that I was being called home. My brother had been in an accident.

The details get foggy here - but here's what I remember and will never forget for the rest of my life:

I sat on the floor trying to figure out what to do with the suitcase in front of me. H was there, and then so was G. My colleagues, present in a way no one should ever have to be present at work, were now saddled with the task of keeping me in one piece long enough to get me home.

I am the neatest packer. Not that time. I remember shoving everything into my suitcase in a ball and to this day - even through the stupor - I can still feel how uncomfortable that mess was for me.
"Everything is going to be wrinkled... everything is going to be wrinkled."

Everything was forever wrinkled.

I write this at 6 am on Saturday, November 12, 2016. 23 years have passed. Each year I awaken on this day in a jumble of feels and thoughts. I encountered many good humans on this day back then - flight attendants who fell over themselves trying to take care of me, the anonymous woman several rows behind me who saw me alone, crying and shaking, offering herself to me if I needed someone to lean on. I never got to thank her.

But there are two people in some still-hard-to-access-emotional space who I hold as the most special. Two people who I can barely write about without melting into a puddle because that day they took care of me in a way no co-workers in my pre 9-11 world ever should have.

One of them is here on FB and will hopefully read this and understand the depths of my gratitude. That day, he was the big brother I never had. For those who know him, this wasn't a side of him I'd ever had the chance to experience. The rawness of those moments connected me to him in a way in which I still have no words. He carried me from that hotel, to the airport, my ambassador to this "after" life I knew nothing about and he made me feel protected until the very last second those plane doors closed. He didn't want to let me go alone. I saw the look of helplessness and despair in his eyes. I told him I'd be ok, that H needed him. He looked skeptical but complied.

In my "after" life nothing is as vivid as my senses during those last few moments spent with G. As I transitioned from my "before" life, this man of minimal verbiage (but an animal with prose), saved me from shattering to pieces.

I love him for it and, one day, I hope I'll have the courage to see him again.



I know, I know. I mean it. I. Really. Know.

#IRK. #IReallyKnow.

Who in their right mind is putting gratitude and 2016 together? My Facebook and Twitter feeds portend the end of days. And I get it. I've been an active part of that.


Yes, there's the DJT "thing" (it had to be said). No matter what your politics, it's a thing. Women's rights are being threatened. Civil liberties are under attack. Racism is rearing it's ugly head like that huge cockroach that came crawling out from under the washing machine in the building of my basement and just refused to die.


I saw a twitter post the other day that summed up the 2016 death march:

"It is becoming increasingly obvious that David Bowie has established a better alternate universe and is populating it selectively one-by-one." (Thank you, @mstexas1967)

Ground Control to Major Tom - what the f*ck is going on?


So who in their right mind is putting gratitude and 2016 together?


Well, it's 4:47am on December 31st and I'm awake thinking about #Putin and #TheMiddleEast and #ObamaCare and #EverythingElseThatSucks but I'm still putting gratitude and 2016 together (maybe it's more like back together?) because if I don't do #Gratitude2016 I might never get out of bed tomorrow.


And, if I don't get out of bed tomorrow, then what is to become of the 11 year-old boy (my son #MomDontEmbarassMe) who asks me every day if he'll be here alone to see the earth melt or blow up from nukes or bombs or terrorists or both or some or all of it.


I can't bear the thought of what it's like to be in my kid's head because I'm an adult in my own head who is just as terrified.


But I'm determined to show him hope. I remain committed to reminding him that life passes by too quickly for us to be paralyzed by fear. I will reassure him, as I've done for him after nightmares past, that the darkest hours are always followed by light.


So I'm digging deep for #Gratitude2016. I'm reading (and re-reading) the battle-scar tattoo on my arm that says, "Where there is love, there is life."


And, though I'm floating in a most peculiar way into 2017, staring at stars that look very different today, I'm choosing to use those stars, along with love and hope, to tether me to this earth, to this life, to those things that are forever worthy of my gratitude.


Love In The Time Of Texting

Love In The Time Of Texting

I'm going to age myself here. Texting does not a relationship make. Too often I see clients for "relationship issues" who proceed to share that they are having difficulty communicating with their partner. The session goes something like this:

Client: I've been up all night crying and I can't focus at work today. My boyfriend and I had the hugest fight last night. This happens all the time when we talk lately.

Me: I'm sorry to hear that - can you tell me more about last night's conversation?

Client: Well, so, um, hang on...let me get my phone. I need to read this to you...

Me: Read this to me - OK did you take some notes to share?

Client: - I want to read the conversation to you.

Me: So this wasn't a face-to-face conversation?

Client: - we were texting and it turned into this huge fight and now I don't know what to do or say and I'm so distraught because I don't think he understood what I meant and he was so mean to me....and I'm so worried he's going to break up with me. This happens all the time. We talk and...

Me: (Interrupting client) I'm going to stop you for a second, OK? You mean you talk or you text?

Client: Well, we talk - I mean text - you know, we talk on text...

Me: I see. So your conversations are text conversations. No eye contact, no voices, no sensory input? You are reading each other's words?

Client: Yes, is that bad?

Me: Yes, actually that's pretty bad.

The art of the conversation is just that - an art. It is a delicate gift that we, as humans, possess. We have the power of language - verbal descriptors that add context and color to our affect, mannerisms, hand gestures, and temperaments.

This is not a dis on the written word. Love letters, poems, plays, novels - they are all expressive. But a (serious) conversation between two people requires more than fragmented texts replete with acronyms and emojis.

When we make contact with a partner about issues more complicated than whether there will be Chinese or Italian on the coffee table for dinner that evening, we rely on our body language. Words alone do not communication make. Eye contact, touch, voice inflections, tone - all of these are absent in a textual conversation. We rely on social cues to assign meaning to the words we use to express ourselves. Without those cues, our words are subject to a variety of (mis)interpretations.

Miscommunication via text is a slippery slope that can be easily avoided by picking up the phone and using the mouthpiece or waiting until a face-to-face meeting to discuss matters other than what time you'll be home for dinner.

Talk. Touch. Look. Listen. Yell. Cry. Laugh. Throw your hands up in the air. Stomp your feet. Embrace each other. Whisper. Lock eyes. Hold hands.

But for the sake of your relationship, please stop all the typing.