we are so, so, broken.

it feels, to me, like we've reached this certain breaking point.  a place that i'm not sure we can move back from.  people killing each other in the streets out of anger.  everyone is at each other's throats, and it's all become terribly un-civil.  black and white. men and women. muslims and christians. gun rights and gun control. there is no intelligent, respectful debate.

it all became too much for me yesterday. as a news alert popped up on my phone and i read about the horrors of the shooting in dallas, the tears started flowing.  i rolled over and clutched onto my husband, sobbing into his shirt, until all my tears were gone.  i cried for them all.  for the babies sitting in the backs of cars, watching their fathers get shot.  for the boys crying for their daddies on national TV.  for the families of police officers who now have to be more terrified than they normally are as they send their loved ones off into the line of duty.  for all of us, who are heartbroken and disgusted by what is happening here.

and as a mother, as my instinct is to do in times like this, i went in to see my babies, sleeping soundly in their rooms.  i tucked my big boy under the covers and started at him.  smoothed his hair.  kissed his cheeks.  watched his breathing slow and steady, watched him roll over and look for his blankie.  as i closed his door, i felt thankful that he's two and i don't have to explain all this to him right now.  in my baby's room, he's still easy to lift out of his crib and rock.  as i held him close and rocked him, i thought of how much lighter his skin is than his brother's.  he's a pale, white, baby.  he's inherited his father's skin color, german and dutch.

my boys are white. i have given the world two more white boys of privilege. it is one of my greatest fears as a mother that they will use that privilege against others -- people of color, women.  they will never know life without their whiteness.  and there is a certain level of guilt i feel because of that.  it i sounds silly, but it's true.  i want to make sure they know that their whiteness isn't a privilege, it's a burden. it comes with responsibility.  as white men, it will be their responsibility to help lift others up, help their voices be heard.  to value each life equally.  they're so little right now and i haven't figured out how to start teaching them this, but i feel that talking about it is a good place to begin.

you can cry against police brutality without hating all police.  you can be wary of criminals of any color without criminalizing all people of color.  you can be fearful of extremists without hating all muslims.  evil does not know one profession, one color, one religion.

i'll end this with the words that always come to me at times like these:

one love
one blood
one life
you got to do what you should
one life
with each other
sisters, brothers
one life
but we're not the same
we get to carry each other
carry each other

on a snowy day like today.

it was a snowy day in new york, much like this one, when my grandfather [whom we referred to, full of love, as pop pop] had a heart attack.  it was a day or two after the olympic opening ceremony, and he went outside to shovel some snow. 

and it was eight years ago today when he passed away from that heart attack.

it was a whirlwind.  while most people turning 21 spend their birthdays at the bar, right at midnight, i was on a plane at 5am to make it to his wake.  but this is not a woe-is-me kind of post.  i just have been thinking about him a lot today, because this time of year there are lots of things that remind me of him.

the olympics, for starters.  i missed all of the winter olympics because we were in new york for his wake and funeral.  but mostly, with pop pop i remember the summer olympics.  summer days spent laying on the floor of their living room, stretched out on their new york giants blanket, eating big, juicy black grapes without spitting out the seeds, as we marveled at the gymnasts.  he loved gymnastics.

that was something that sticks out about my pop pop now when i think about him.  when he was a father and a husband, he was an intimidating man.  he had a temper and wasn't always quick to show affection.  but as a grandfather, he was a completely different man.  a man who cried every time we said goodbye to him to fly back to colorado.  a man who sent me a dozen yellow roses every year on my birthday.  a man who went to toys-r-us the moment it opened to get me the new cabbage patch baby doll i wanted.  a man who would let my brother and i jump on the bed, and who would steal us away from the 'adults' at our summer house to take us kids out for ice cream and mini golf.  a man who loved gymnastics.

he was a larger-than-life figure to me.  the stories i've heard, over and over again as i softly drifted off to sleep on my grandparents' pull out sofa with the metal bar that stuck in my back.  how he operated a crane bigger than the empire state building.  how he built bridges by himself.  how he once lifted a volkswagen beetle when a man took his parking spot.  the stories, all based on fact, had grown bigger and bigger over time.

stories are a part of the culture of my family.  we tell stories.  it's just kind of what we do.  stories we've heard a million times - aunt gloria's underwear falling out of her trouser pantleg while receiving communion.  my father locking his brother outside in his underwear, in the snow.  my godfather coming home drunk and my nanny having to help put him in the shower.  we've heard them all, and like a favorite movie you put on again and again for comfort, they are better each time we hear them.

today is always a day when i think of all my pop pop stories.  when it's snowing, and the olympics are on, and it's the day before my birthday.  i'm thinking of him and what he would be saying to me now, what stories he'd be telling me before the birth of my own child.

i know what he'd tell me today.  he'd call me up and say, 'did i ever tell you about the day you were born?'  on the other end of the phone i'd smile and say, 'yes, pop.  but tell me again.'

truman capote, death + addiction.

i was in trader joe's yesterday at 1:46pm when i got the text message.  did you know that going to the market on super bowl sunday is apparently worse than going the day before thanksgiving?  i did not.  but i do now.  anyway.  the text was from an old friend.  you hear the news on philip seymour hoffman? no, i had not heard the news.  but i knew exactly what he was going to say.  found dead in manhattan apartment today... just reported in wall street journal.  i quickly used my finely tuned iphone skills to open up the huffpost app and see if it was true.  sure enough, the headline confirmed it.  i'm not embarrassed to say i cried in the fruit aisle [of course being 31 weeks pregnant kind of gives me a free pass on this one].

now at this point you are probably thinking a few things.  things like, ok, this is a little dramatic.  and, certainly she isn't going to change her blog to post about a celebrity death, right?  well to those comments i would say wrong on both counts.

yesterday and today everyone will claim to be PSH's biggest fan.  he was my favorite actor!  i always loved him!  but in truth, i took the obsession a little far.  he was my favorite actor, hands down, ever, for all time.  he even made my list [what can i say, something about his creative genius was irresistible to me].  it started sometime around his career-changing role as truman capote in capote.  capote is my favorite author and i had recently read his biography, and was strangely drawn to the man playing such an inspirational yet tormented character.  my love for capote somehow was wrapped up in PSH and i came out the other side completely enthralled with both men forever and ever. 

and if you still think this is being dramatic, i will tell you that four different people called and six different friends and family members texted me to see if i had heard the news and if i was ok.  i know how much you loved him.  yes.  and i wasn't the only one who felt as if i lost a friend in someone i never knew.  ty burr said it best in his boston globe profile this morning: 'it seems as though a hole just got punched, not just in the movies but in the culture as a whole. weirder still: i never met the man, so why do i feel as if i’ve just lost a dear friend?'

i posted something on facebook about his passing, where more friends mentioned they had thought of me when they learned of his passing [seriously, i know, i was a little obsessed].  one friend brought a new perspective.  tragic, she wrote.  but i only have so much sympathy for drug addicts.

yes, sure.  PSH died of an overdose.  no getting around that fact when the man was found with a needle in his arm.  but i feel the need to say that i don't believe things are so cut and dry.  i have lived with addicts in my family.  i've seen, first hand, how addiction can change a person.  how in the morning they can be someone you love and trust, but at night they turn in to someone else.  someone you don't know - but deep down you know that person you love and trust is still in there somewhere.  with this first hand experience comes the deeply seeded feeling that there is a level of personal responsibility.  in PSH's case, there was his recent relapse, which started with prescription painkillers.  after being personally effected by drug addiction has given me the mindset that there is a time where you say no.  when you are prescribed those drugs and you look at yourself as a recovering addict, as a man with a family, and you say no. 

but the world is not so black and white.  this is something that PSH showed us time and time again in his many, many heartbreaking roles.  a good teacher, a better friend, but a man struggling with temptation in 25th houran outsider desperately trying to make himself fit in and dealing with the inevitable rejection in boogie nights.  the kind, approachable, yet possibly sinister priest in doubt.  a simple and sweet but painfully shy man trying to better his life and find love in jack goes boating.  these are characters that you don't pity - you end up empathizing with them.  such is the case with addiction. 

drug addicts are not inherently bad people.  'sometimes, when i see a great move or a great play i think, being human means you're really alone,' PSH was quoted as saying in his 2008 new york times magazine profile.  i think the struggle with drug or alcohol addiction is a very lonely struggle, and as long as we label people as 'bad people' because of their situations, those struggles aren't going to be any more possible.

anyway.  kind of a depressing subject for a monday morning.  but i read recently that often times writers can't fully process something until they have written about it, and i find that to be all too true.

jim carrey may have said it best on twitter:
but thinking over addiction and this grey area of life makes me think of a powerful line from a PSH film, doubt, choked out meryl streep at the end of the movie.

i have doubts, she said, through sobs.