Monday, November 24, 2014

Just Put Your Lips Together and Blow aka Birthday Wishes

I don’t know if there is anything to read into the fact that Big Susan and Neiman have birthdays one day apart.  Seems rather fitting that two such extraordinary women were born under the same moon.  Kind of appropriate, you know?  A holiday where we acknowledge our thanks would not be complete without a toast to two people who embody all that for which we should be thankful.  I hope they both know just how grateful I am for them not only during this season of thanks – but always.

To Big Susan,
I hope you’re starting your day in a great way. Perhaps you and Mom are wearing your matching bathrobes while having coffee, doing the crossword puzzle (in pen) and reading the obits (so you know who is coming.)  Perhaps Jack is making you breakfast and my Dad will stop by later because as he always said, “I like Susan. I’ve always liked her.  She’s a great broad.”

I hope your day is spent doing everything that makes you happy including watching your children and grandchildren live and love, prosper and thrive and if you see them stumble, giving them a boost before they even know they need it.

I hope you bask in the glow of love and adoration from those near and far.  A visit with your wonderful mother, your cousin Joan, other friends and family who stand with you now as well as the warmth of those down here that send you love and miss you every day.


To Neiman,
You’ve celebrated big this weekend; surrounded by friends, festivities, music, drinks and fun.  I so wish I could have been there. Nothing would have made me happier than to raise a glass or three in your honor; to see your smile glow in the warmth of being loved.

As usual, my card and gift will be late because I can’t always get my shit together. That said I hope you did appreciate my gift of not calling you bright and early yesterday (as you know I am likely to do)  so you could enjoy those chocolate dipped strawberries, coffee and other treats so thoughtfully delivered by someone who may have naked.

I hope you enjoyed every minute of your celebration.  I hope there was much laughter and that wonderful memories were made.  I hope the love of family and friends surrounds you on your birthday and always.

These two amazing women have taught me much and their similarities are startling.  Neither one has ever raised their voice to me (if you know me, you know that is pretty fucking amazing.)  They are polar opposites of their best friend yet their friendship has been a deep bond from the start and lasted a lifetime and then some.  Both offer unconditional love and support, unwavering commitment to friendship. Never asking why but grabbing the shovel to help you dig out, dig in or bury the body. They are truly a testament to friendship – they have defined it, they live(d) it and it is their legacy – both living and in memory.

So cheers to Big Susan and Neiman.  You are loved deeply today and always.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Here is what I do know.

It's been a long time since I've written. If it's any consolation, I've thought a lot about it - trying to get my head around what I want to say. I'm still not sure.  But, today is a a special day and I couldn't let that pass without a note.

Dear Rona,

Today, you would have been 50.  I’ve no doubt that along with everything else, you would have worn this well and with perfect hair.  But like all other November firsts that have passed since 1999, I wonder what you would have been like during that particular year.

Would your hair be long or short?  Would you have finally given up your perfect tan and taken up sunscreen?  Would California Chicken Salad from White Flint still be your favorite – or as recent changes have taken place – would you be missing it madly?  Would you still complain about what a pain in the ass it is to make your caramel brownies – but you’d do it anyway and with a smile on your face?  Would you have finally bought a car with an automatic transmission?  Would you still be taping a little paper with the date on your mascara so you’d know to throw it out after exactly 3 months?

Hard to know those things, but  here is what I do know. 

I know you would still be hilariously funny.  I know that I Love Lucy and Shirley Temple movies would still make you laugh.  I know that,you would remember every  name from junior high and high school and be Facebook friends with them all.  I know you’d still love a summer full of the beach, hard shell crabs and outdoor concerts and that you’d have a hard time finding good leather gloves that fit your very long fingers.

I know you would be successful in whatever you were doing.  I know your mother would still be driving you crazy and you’d roll your eyes at her – and talk to her  I know you would still be doting on your grown nephews and niece – reveling in their accomplishments.

I know I would have called you to confirm the appropriateness of an outfit or ask who the hell is friending me on Facebook, only to have you remind me for the tenth time that I sat next to that person in English or History but never math because I skipped that class all the time.  I know when motherhood had me questioning my sanity, you would have reassured me and told me I was doing just fine.  I know you would have promised to tell Mini-Me all about our exploits – and she would have held you to that. I know you would have dragged my ass to our reunion.

I know you would have held my hand when I buried my parents and shared my joy at the birth of my daughter.  I know you would be dragging my sister, who recently relocated back to that area, to the mall in search of warm clothes,  trying to get her excited about shopping. You would do that not because you are particularly close to my sister, but because I am – and you would do that in my absence. And you would both laugh your asses off while making fun of people at the mall and my sister would smile and know just why you were my Big Susan.

I would still call you at all hours – and you me.  We would talk – and text – about all the same shit we talked about for years.  We would never say our names when we call, just “hey, it’s me.”  We would know just by the sound of the others voice if the other was okay or what they needed.

But what I know most of all is that you would still be my friend – my Big Susan.   

We may not be together  today but I take comfort in knowing you’re in great company. No doubt my dad toasted you with a good scotch and Jack and my mom made you a little something to eat.  I'm certain you're surrounded by friends - and family - who also left us way too soon.  While these things comfort me - I'm selfish enough to admit they also piss me off. I'd rather you be here.

Happy 50th Birthday Rona.  I miss you every day. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Missing you

Today is the last evening I have to myself. I pick up Mini-me from camp tomorrow morning (can’t wait!)  It’s been a few crazy weeks at work and tonight will likely be spent having a few cocktails with a good friend. As delightful as that will be, what I’d really like to do is talk to Rona.  You see today marks 15 years that she has been gone.

And, as much as I would really like to sit at a bar and have a cocktail and talk to Rona, I’m reasonably sure that talking and laughing out loud with myself – laughing so hard I may snort – would all be frowned upon.  And just saying the words in my head doesn’t seem the same.  So, I will write her a letter. 

Dear Ro,

How the hell are you? I miss you like crazy.  Life has been good, bad and all the stuff in between. There is much to tell you and much I want to know.  I have so many questions and while I know you don’t have all the answers, you make me think differently about things and often, offer some twisted humor to put it all in perspective.

Mini-me is growing quickly – she would certainly be your shopping buddy. Girlfriend loves a good bargain.  While I never forget I’m her parent, she can be quite the pal; you would love that and she would love her tante Rona.  She loves Hebrew and Sunday school – the ritual and tradition, learning the songs and taking pride in writing Hebrew words.  I never had that background but know it was so important to you.  Each week it reinforces that giving her your Hebrew name honors you in the best possible way. You will be there with her as she experiences each new rite of passage – you will be honored. You will be remembered.

My family is fine – growing, changing, and moving but all are healthy and reasonably happy.  I’m learning to be simply grateful that I have such a great relationship with my siblings and their families. To take things as they are and put much less stock in what they think.  After all, they have no choice but to be related to me and for the most part, love me as I am.  I miss my folks terribly. I imagine you miss your mom, too – and that your dad is near you, lecturing everyone on exactly how fast they should drive on any given road.  I miss our talks about our parents – what drove us crazy and our fear of turning into them.  Guess what? That shit happens.

My friends are good, great and everything else. Neiman just had another clean scan – remaining cancer free two years to the day after her diagnosis. And no, it doesn’t escape me that the date of her diagnosis is the date of your death.  This date always feels a bit “off” to me.  This time of year is crazy for me at work – it helps to keep my mind busy but weird thoughts creep in and I never feel quite like myself. 

I’ve been lucky to have a summer of great time with friends both behind and in front of me.  Geek and Kooky were here a few weeks back – good times spent poolside and the cool of the house.  I spent a weekend in the mountains with Belle, Handy and our sweet kids - so nice to get away and have a chance to really just visit without worrying from moving from point a to point b.   I am taking Mini-Me and my dear friends Geek and Kooky to Bethany next month – and can only hope they embrace the sand, surf, Nic-o-bolis and Thrashers fries as much as you and I did.  I will visit old friends, see old hangouts and drive roads once so familiar.  This trip will be full of memories as I introduce Mini-Me to my old world, one in which you were such a central character.  I will miss you but have a feeling you’ll be along for the ride.

Neiman visited me last weekend – a grown-up few days of shopping, eating, drinking and just visiting. Bless her for being such a good sport and visiting me in the summer, when my town feels like the surface of the sun.  And Runner will visit again this summer with the youngest in her flock.  You know, Ro – Runner has not aged one bit. It’s most infuriating.  You were one of the few that was never surprised by my long-lasting friendship with her.  She’s become the religious compass that you once were and I’m constantly reminded of you when I go to her with all my Jewish questions – be it political, religious or a new recipe to get me through one more Passover. 

Who are you hanging out with up there?  Are you sharing scotch and off-color jokes with my dad?  Is my mom complimenting your always perfect hair?  Are you having coffee with her and Big Susan? Is Jack cooking for you, offering to cook for you or making pickles?  Do you see some of our old classmates and reminisce about the old days?

I miss you Rona. I miss our talks. I miss gossiping over California Chicken Salads (and can you believe White Flint is gone?It never mattered whether we connected on the phone, with a card or letter (days long before the immediacy of email or texting) or were face-to-face in one of our regular haunts.  We could be chatting, laughing or sitting in comfortable silence.  It all worked. No words were ever necessary. 

Except for now.  Rarely a day goes by when something does not make me think of you. I miss you. More than you will ever know.


Monday, February 10, 2014

My name is Randi and I can't....

My name is Randi and I can't live up to Pinterest, Pottery Barn or West Elm.  I can’t live up to a single Lifetime movie about friendship, sisterhood or the bonds between women, women and men, sisters, brothers or those that share an obsession with a boy band.  I most certainly can’t live up to all those perfect mom’s out there – those that create those fucking Pinterest crafts in the first place, those who have children that never get into trouble, always do as asked and never say anything inappropriate.  I am not that mother and I most certainly do not have that child.

I just read this awesome post about a mom who hit rock bottom.  It totally inspired me to look at myself and acknowledge my own rock bottom. I have judged. I have acted badly. I have not understood.  I have made less than stellar choices that go beyond a bad haircut and 80’s fashion (70’s doesn’t count – we had fewer options.) I wielded my sharp tongue and hurt others.  I was less than empathetic.  I didn’t apologize.  I've been a total jackass.

In my world, the TV is probably on too often, we sometimes eat on the run, stay up too late and my floor needs washing.  I’m impatient, bossy and anyone who knows me will agree that on some topics, I have very strong opinions.  I will admit to earning my “bitch” patch years ago.  I've been rock-bottom more than once. 

I have forgotten.

More than once I have forgotten a birthday, a meaningful time or a friend in need.  I’m so caught up in my own bullshit that I don’t always pay attention to what is happening around me. This happens to everyone – I know this. I just need to remember that before I get my knickers in a twist about someone forgetting about me….that they may be so deep in their own shit that they can’t wade over to help me with mine.  To my friends, I apologize for forgetting, for forgetting that I’ve forgotten and for what I will likely forget tomorrow.  Let’s talk over a drink – if I can remember.

I’ve gotten on my high horse.

Yep, I’ve been there. And let’s be honest – you probably have, too.  You’d like to think the view from up there is better…but really, it’s pretty lonely when no one wants to share it with you. To my friends, I’ll walk beside you. The company is so much better that the view instantly improves.

I have been more judgey than Judy.

Yep, I’ve passed judgment. I formed opinions and sometimes made them known.  To be clear, I’m not talking about knowing the nuances of a situation and thinking someone is taking the wrong path. I’m talking about knowing nothing or close to that about someone, something and deciding you still know best for them, how you would do it better or dismiss their reaction. I’ve looked at someone else’s situation and made an assumption – if for no other reason than to make me feel better. I should know better. I’ve been judged long, loud and often and I hate it every fucking time.  To my friends, I promise to ask to borrow your shoes so I know what it feels like to be you and if they don’t fit, to shut the hell up.

I’ve not taken the time.

Sometimes, I feel like my life is the autobahn and frankly, I am not built for speed.  Geek tells me
all the time that my weekends are busy and well-planned and then I complain I’m exhausted and don’t have time to just be.  I found myself home this weekend and really just wanted to chat with a friend – not in a self serving way. I truly wanted to know – how were things going? Does Lips like her new gig?  How did Kooky do at her sleepover?  Was Geek feeling better?  How was Crafty holding up in the cold weather she hates so much? I wanted to thank Stretch for a really well timed email I got last week – and let her know it made the difference.  And Patron, we haven’t talked in while – how are you?  I want to stop planning to do things with friends and practice just being a friend.  To my friends, I will take a deep breath and have a drink at the ready – when you have a moment, just stop by or call and we’ll visit if even for just a few minutes. I will drop a line or leave a message. I know it will mean something and you’ll do the same when you can.

I have forgotten.

Did I already write about that?

I have been impatient.

I hate waiting. I’m painfully prompt – it’s a family thing.  We’ll circle the block to get to the party on time so that we’re not there early. If you told my parents to come over at six, they’d be there at five.  Now, in my defense, being late is a huge pet peeve and I honestly don’t believe there are that many valid reasons for it.  But, that is not the type of waiting I’m talking about. I’m talking about waiting for the right time, the right moment, the right deal. Waiting for things to happen or be dealt with on a schedule that works for someone else or the bigger picture – not just for my immediate gratification. Now, I’m not the kind that reads the end of the book first – but I’m always in a rush to finish.  To my friends, I promise to smell the roses, sip my drink (well, most of the time) and enjoy the journey.

The fact that you are my friends despite my imperfections continues to astonish me. Some of you have pulled me out of a rock bottom moment more than once (many of you way more than that.) To you, I am so grateful that you stood beside me when you may not have wanted to.  You called me friend when I was undeserving.  You were your best when I was at my worst. That you held my hand, loaned a shoulder and dried my tears.  These are things I have not forgotten.

So my friends, in this Valentine week – I promise to be a better friend.  I will try to remember, to be more patient. I will not judge (okay, who am I kidding – let’s aim for judging less) and I will catch my breath.  And, I will totally continue to support you in your rock-bottom moments.  I will sink to your level as you have sunk to mine – just so you are not alone. I will not say “I told you so” or ask you why.  In fact, I will offer you a cocktail to celebrate because the only way to go is up.  This, I won’t forget.