Invisibility, darkness, and fucks or the lack of

I said to him, "You played the wrong note. So what. What do you do now? Do you quit or do you play it again? Do you quit or do you practice? What happens if you quit? What happens if you stay in the seat and erect your spine and reshape your embouchure and steady your fingers and blow?"

He looked down at his feet, and mumbled, "I don't get better, or I do."

"So, which is it? What do you want?" I asked the options kindly, but I asked them.

He turned back to the music stand, centered his horn, and blew out the first chords of the Imperial March. No squeaks this time.


This morning, I had a meeting. "He saw Mrs. L and turned in on himself," she said. "He turned down a snack!"

He loves Mrs. L. He loves food. What?


We have a tradition: Thursday night deep talks. Sometimes these happen on Thursday, but as often they happen on Friday or Monday. It really just depends on when said deepness needs to be talked out.

Tonight, Friday, I initiated a Thursday night deep talk as he packed his instrument away until tomorrow.

"Have you ever heard the expression 'Fake it until you make it?'"


"Well, Misse used to tell me to do that when I was nervous."

"What were you nervous about, Mama?" with a definite emphasis on 'you'.

"All sorts of things, honey. Being liked. Being smart. Making the dance line..."

He snapped the case latches shut and moseyed to my lap.

"What did it mean, what Misse said?"

"It meant that sometimes you have to pretend to be comfortable or confident or capable or ready. And ultimately, do you know what that sort of pretending is?"


"What did I ask you earlier, when you slapped your head and said, 'This song is too hard'? What could you do?"

"I could quit or practice."

"And what might faking it until I made it be like?"




I see the way he turns in on himself when he's nervous. When he doubts himself. When he doesn't feel up to snuff. It is a behavior I am all too familiar with. The turning in to the darkness, to the false feeling of invisibility. The hiding behind 'can't' versus shakily bucking up before 'faking and making.' Sometimes, but not always.

"Honey, let me tell you. It is scary for me to write so openly about politics and social justice. I was not raised in a place that championed the questioning of the status quo. But I do it anyway because it feels to me right and just. I am scared, but I make myself do it. What do you think that making myself do it is?"

"Practicing?" he murmured.

"Yes! And do you know what happened to me today? I left my meeting and as I walked through the school parking lot I saw a lovely acquaintance sitting alone in her car. It was an odd time for a mom to be parked in the overflow carpool line, and as I approached her, I saw that her eyes were shining.

“Are you OK?"

"Oh, I'm OK." and we exchanged deeper-than-pleasantries catch up talk. But soon enough, I was in her car skipping Pilates, and she was crying, and I was nodding.

"And at one point she said, I sort of hate Facebook but it's allowed me to see that you are an amazing person."

"And I blushed and said thank you, and still I am so moved, honey, because I was practicing speaking my truth even when it was scary, even when it meant pretending not to feel dark and worried, even when it meant being decidedly NOT invisible, and someone essentially said thank you for that."

"The only way I know how to be more like the people I admire -strong, brave, vocal women- is to fake giving no fucks until I don't. It is scary but it's the only way I know. And I want you to see in yourself all the absolute wonder and magic I see. Does that make sense, hon?"

"It does, Mama." His lip quivered, and we snuggled tight, and I said, "Sweet pea, what is it to ask for help?"

"It's practice," he said.


The Big Apple never disappoints

Home again, home again, jiggety jig. Jack and I had the most magical, special two days together in New York. We knew all the rave reviews of Hamilton, and yet it managed to far exceed our expectations, something that doesn't happen terribly often. It is a rare truffle worth every penny, and we both felt really thrilled and grateful to have seen it. 

Beyond the score, the choreography and use of the set and stage were exceptional. I have been lucky enough to see dozens of Broadway shows over the years, but Hamilton ranks right near the top. Jack sat forward in his seat, elbows on knees, at full attention the whole time. And then, ice cream.


We spent much of Friday at the Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium. If y'all have the chance to see the film Earthflight (a BBC Earth production that was filmed over four years in eleven countries and four continents), do. It is just magnificent. It's a 3D avian journey of migration and predation and flight and it moved me to tears. Why more people don't feel hellbent on protecting Earth and its creatures is beyond me. Nature is magic and beauty and grace.

We also enjoyed Dark Universe, a space show in the planetarium narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Jack was spellbound. I can hardly comprehend the amounts of time and temperature and cosmic movement and drama that our existence entails, but it's humbling and awe-inspiring. And I learned a lot.

a big-ass geode

a big-ass geode

After hauling it downtown to see a friend and back uptown to change, we hauled it back downtown for dinner at The Spotted Pig, a cozy joint in the West Village whose ambiance really cannot be beat. Jack and I shared the savoy cabbage, speck, parmesan, and balsamic plate before he dug into his giant burger and mess of fries and I forked my arctic char with beets and creme fraiche. He declared his burger the "best I've ever eaten." I didn't much like my fish, but the cabbage dish was marvelous, and my wine was sublime. 

y'all, those fries. Shoestrings fried with rosemary and slivers of garlic.

y'all, those fries. Shoestrings fried with rosemary and slivers of garlic.

Then to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree in all its glory and then to get milkshakes. Jack doesn't eat much during the day, but damn does he make up for it come dinnertime!

rockefeller center tree

I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow last night, and Jack slept like a baby until nearly 10 this morning. Places to go and people to see, buddy. So we dressed, and flew down to ABC Kitchen to enjoy brunch with one of my favorite people EVER, Shawn. Shawn who told me I had to start writing about food and thus, this blog. The best. 

So brunch and catching up and laughs and then we parted ways, and Jack and I went to see the Flatiron Building, and to Eataly, and to the Lego store, and then we walked the two miles back up to our hotel. Jack got quieter and quieter, and he slipped his hand in mine and said, "I love you, Mom."


We are home now, and I will never forget these two days with my sweet boy. I love that Jack and Ol love NY like I do; I think they totally get why my heart resides there, and I love that we can share that. Yes it's busy and noisy and can be dirty and rude and brusque, but it is so utterly alive and no-nonsense. Aah, as I saw on a bag today, "New York is my boyfriend."


Dominoes, New York, Hamilton, Virginia

I'm telling y'all what. The men are falling like dominoes. If this rate keeps up, we'll be a matriarchal country sooner than not. (Hear, hear). Who's next? Santa? It's disgusting. And yet what might chafe most is the fact that while many men are (finally) paying for their gross misdeeds, a sick perp who happens to be "president" has not. Is not. Is now saying maybe that "Grab 'em by the pussy" tape wasn't true. Y'all know where this is going. 

America is in the deepest of shit. No other way to put it. From the tax "plan" to assaults on healthcare. reproductive rights, and the media; from the anti-science jokers burning the EPA and our environment in a coal-fired oven to the lifting of regulations on murdering elephants and shipping their heads back to the US (yeah, I know that one's on hold, but please) so small-d**ked men can feel manly; from an education secretary who is stunningly ignorant about education to a slimy guy with an even slimier wife who like to fondle OUR money, we are screwed. The poor will get poorer, all but the wealthiest will get unhealthier and less educated, our reputation is plummeting down the toilet, our air and water will become increasingly sick, and the divisions between "red" and "blue" will become more and more petrified.

In other news, New York. I just love New York, and that is grand because I'm going twice in the next month. Yee-howdy!

Tomorrow, I'm pulling Jack from school early, so that he and I can get to the Big Apple in time for his birthday present: Hamilton. His birthday was in July, but because Hamilton, this is the soonest I could get tickets. It works out beautifully because he has no school on Friday which buys us a whole extra day in the city, AND New York at Christmastime is hard to beat.

We're going to see the Rockefeller Center tree and get dessert after the show tomorrow night and on Friday we plan to spend hours (literally) sciencing our faces off at the Hayden Planetarium and Natural History Museum. God, we'll just be rolling in facts. From this country's founding to what we now know about space and avian flight and human senses, I look forward to coating ourselves in a thick crust of truth. Ooh, mama, we'll be breaded cutlet bulwarks against the stupidity tainting the land. 

Then to meet a friend and then to dinner at The Spotted Pig. On Saturday, we're having brunch with one of my favorite people and fitting in all last-minute desires before hopping our bus home at 4. 

It is going to be grand. 

Also, my niece. Is she not divine??