Tag Archives: friend

A thought exercise (for me) and job offer (for Mindy Kaling).

Guys, I am struggling. All the hormones, all the waiting. The exhaustion — mental and physical. The guilt and negative thoughts. I’m really struggling.

But after an hour of tears in my therapist’s office and the ugly sobbing of so many incredibly unkind words toward myself, Dr. C suggested a thought exercise.

While I can’t quite wrap my mind around self-kindness, to treat myself as though I were a good friend, I can invent a friend and do pretty much the same. (I’m excellent at make believe, which is the nice way of saying lying.) I can invent a friend with a new diagnosis of, say, MS. (She was infertile at first, but Dr. C though maybe that would be a bit too much. So MS it is.) A debilitating and life-altering disease. A diagnosis that affects an individual and his or her partner. Sort of like infertility…

What would I say to that friend?

To my fictional friend, recently diagnosed with MS.

Your life is different now and will always be different. But your life is most definitely not over.

In fact, nothing has actually changed. Instead, you have an answer. It’s a terrible, horrible, no good and unwanted answer. But it’s an answer. And the answer doesn’t actually change a single thing about you.

The MS was always there. It’s a cruel trick of genetics, fate, chance. A cruel trick of whatever it is you believe controls the uncertainty in life.

(Personally, I believe in biology and probability, even when I don’t like it. (And sub-parenthetical, I apologize for being the kind of friend who cites their own blog in a letter to a friend.) But I have to let you chalk it up to whatever it is that you believe in.)

It’s not a punishment or a judgement on your moral fiber, the being that is you. It’s a circumstance. And you are not a victim of circumstance.

You are brave. You are resilient. You are head strong and heart sure. You love and are loved. None of those things will change. They are, like you, unshakable at their core. Because they make up your core.

Yes, there will be bad days. Days when MS feels like the only thing. When it feels suffocating and dark and all encompassing. Those days will pass. And there will be good days, days when you forget MS exists at all. Those days will pass too. Each is only a day. A day inhabited by the same brave and beautiful you, capable of anything and everything. Even surviving, living, thriving.

No one who loved you before loved you because you didn’t have MS. And there’s no reason to expect that anyone will love you less because of it. You are loved for something much deeper than your external circumstances, including what your body can or can’t do — by your spouse, your family, your friends, your dog. Like you, those loves will not change.

But the MS may, and likely will, change your mind and work some magic on your heart. It may increase your capacity for empathy and understanding. Maybe it has done these things already. Yes, it may also sometimes make you feel jealous and ragey and bitter about the able-bodied, unaffected folks around you. But a small price to pay for the beauty and appreciation and opening of heart you get to experience, don’t you think?

It’s not so much that MS itself is a blessing. More so that it’s not a curse or a punishment. It’s not out to get you. It’s not your fault. And because you are who you are, you can take what MS gave you, the cliched lemons, and make some cliched lemonade. Maybe some lemon bars too. Because you’re talented in that way and always go beyond the cliche to find something a little deeper and a little more dusted in powdered sugar.

Yes, MS is forever and it is yours to live with for all that time. But you will. Live. And love. And be happy and sad. Joyful and sorrowful. Grateful and jealous. Brave and scared. Just like everyone else, but also a little bit different than most.

I can’t necessarily understand, but I’m here for you, as your friend, as someone who loves you. And I’ll always be here for you, as someone who tries to understand and never stops loving you. No matter what.



Meant to be a mom or not, I can be a pretty stellar friend. Certainly a better friend than internal monologue-ist (which is not a real thing, I just invented it to make the point that I’m a total jerk to myself). And now, when my own verdict arrives in the near future, I can read the letter above. I can sub out the MS and sub in a state of infertility no longer changeable. And most importantly, I won’t have to go to my crappy internal monologue-ist for her thoughts on the matter. In fact, I may even have to let her go and re-post for the position.

We’ve decided to go in another direction…

Help Wanted — Qualifications: eloquent, Harry Potter fan with good sense of humor. No jerks need apply.

And with that, I suspect I may be trying to hire Mindy Kaling as my internal monologue-ist. She’s even had appropriate experience. This could be excellent.

Couldn’t have found a better picture — results on Thursday. Two days is like forever from now. {Source}

Age is just a number; it cannot touch your soul.

A couple stories to get us pointed in the right direction.

First story:

My little Marshfield-based book club took a recent turn for the non-existent with the start of the most recent academic year. I suppose that’s bound to happen when you base a book club too heavily on transient people like med students and residents and young marrieds, but determined to begin anew, I started recruiting again.

After begging my friend Kristen to join (over and over and over again over oh so many coffees) she finally agreed to participate so long as she wasn’t the oldest person there.

Ugh. Not a good caveat given the people I had been focusing my recruitment efforts on. But we’re working around it. My invite went a little something like this:

“Also, rest assured that you will neither be the oldest nor the youngest there, should that be an issue for you. I am both–youngest in capacity to be socially un-awkward, oldest in nerdiness, trust me, I cannot be outdone. So just come.”

How can anyone argue with that? Also I sent everyone a copy of the book with an invitation book mark– nothing more powerful than a guilt trip!

Second story:

Maybe a year or so ago, my friend Melissa told me about how her daughter, Emily, had discounted me as a “friend” because in her mind, I was actually just Melissa’s friend. Melissa assured Emily that I was indeed her friend and I confirmed Melissa’s assertion. I am indeed Emily’s friend. She’s nine (today!!! happy birthday, little friend!) and I’m thirty, but I think if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know without a doubt that Emily is one of my nearest and dearest on account of me talking about her here and here and here and here.

Also, my therapist knows her by name. Not joking.

And third story, because three always seems like the appropriate number:

Just last week, I had a big grant due and my sister sent me a text message (filled to the brim with excellent emoji) that I showed you back here. What I didn’t show you, because it would have destroyed a surprise I had been carefully crafting for months was my response to her:



The part about my dad and my two besties over 50. That’s the part I’d like to bring to your attention today.

Because age, as big of a thing it is in popular culture, in the media, in our minds, is really of very little consequence when it comes to friendship, and I’d like to chat about that very much.

I recently went to a talk given by a woman who described herself as vintage and she said, “I see you out there in the audience– some of you have a little vintage on you!”

Vintage. I loved that.

I went to the talk with three of my friends: my dad, Marie, and Margaret.

Yes, I include my dad in the friend category and that’s kind of the point of this whole post. In adulthood, my dad is still my dad, the man I’ve loved since I was an itty bitty baby and the man who responds instantly and instinctively to the word “daddy,” but also he is my friend– he turned me on to Call To Action, a progressive Catholic organization, and we talk about the church and about social justice and kindness and generosity and love and faith and all those things like friends. Because we are friends.

Just hanging out, eating ribs with my dad-friend!
Just hanging out, eating ribs with my dad-friend!

My friend Marie is in her 50s and has a daughter my age. We work together and hang out besides and the 20 something years between us really makes no difference. (In fact, I suspect we’re basically married to the same man one generation apart, it’s bizarre!)

Ha ha!
Ha ha… look at the face I made Marie make! So spectacular!

My friend Margaret is in her 70s and started off as someone my dad was friends with… but I think I can legitimately call her my friend now too. We’ve spent Christmases together, after all! I just adore Margaret and her honesty and her joy and her clearly innate ability to recognize good in people.

Guys, Margaret is just the best! You’d love her!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I made another new friend on Wednesday. Her name is Lola and she’s 11. She’s the daughter of a physician I work and he suspected that she and I would hit it off– correct! We’ve started our own little mini book club. She’s reading West of the Moon for an enrichment program at school. I picked it up at the library yesterday and we’re going to chat about it. So there’s 20 some years between us the other way… I’m super lucky to know how little that actually matters.

she brought
She had her book with her at the event– how could I not love a girl like that?!

Why doesn’t it matter though? I mean, it always seemed like it did… growing up, when friendships were based primarily on life stage and experience, I suppose age did matter.  And some of the friends I met because of life stage and/or experience are still some of my nearest and dearest even today. But that’s partly because it wasn’t always so ok with me to have friends across the continuum of age. At the age of 23 or so, I remember going out with a friend and a friend of hers, both of whom were in their 40s, for a belly dancing class and drinks afterward and despite having an absolute blast, some of my same-age-friends thought it was a little odd. I may be odd, but I’m also crazy insecure and I don’t love people knowing about it… so, you know…

Then I met people like Kristen I. and Emily W. (book club book ends, age wise), Melissa and her daughter Emily (one a little older than me, one much younger, both my friends), Michele and Marie F (co-workers sent from heaven, my two besties greater than or equal to 50), Margaret and Marie K from Call To Action (Marie was 95 when we met!), and Lola (my newest young friend). I also recently recognized my dad and my mom and my Aunt Susan and my little sister and little brother as friends. And none of it was weird. Because when friendship is based on attraction between two souls, age has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Age matters, of course, in other ways. It affects the container that houses our soul and it changes the lenses in the glasses through which our soul sees. Time puts a little vintage on them. But the soul, I believe, remains unchanged– no matter the vintage. And that’s why, now, at the age of 30, I can happily say that my friends, my dearest most amazing friends, range in age from 8 to 80. (Eighty because, sadly, Marie Kennedy passed away a few years ago. She was so incredible though, even at 95!)

If I’m honest, it’s the vintage I’ve picked up myself that has allowed me to see this fact. And to recognize that maybe, even as a little girl, I had some adult friends that I ought to be a little more grateful for– Grandma Roz and CJ and Janet and Joy. As un-vintaged as I may have been at the time, my soul recognized another like it in them.


I don’t want to discount all of the time- and place- and life stage- and experience-based friendships I have made over the years– in high school, in college, in grad school. Those friendships are crazy important too. Interestingly, though, sometimes I didn’t even fully recognize the impact of the people I met in those places until later– I told you about Nicole and Dawn. But also my friend Sarah, who was my roommate at the 2001 Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference (another nerd camp for political nerds… I’ve been to a lot of nerd camps, for real), and who I still find to be absolutely, completely, and totally fascinating, inspiring, gorgeous, amazing, etc, via social media… I feel like our souls just clicked and I’ll never ever forget the girl who introduced me to what this Midwestern girl can only describe as urban A-MAZ-ING.

Tapered pants from Ypsi-tucky, Midwest, USA on the left... super cool Sarah from Hoboken on the right.
Fashion Bug (not kidding) tapered pants from Ypsi-tucky, Midwest, USA on the left… super cool Sarah from Hoboken, New Jersey, on the right. Supreme Court in the background. Obvs.

And perhaps that’s what it really is– Nicole embraced her curls and her intelligence and her otherness in a way I never dared in college, but I recognized her anyway. Dawn was Army-style intimidating in her camouflage fatigues and combat boots, but I recognized her anyway. And Sarah owned a bright blue wig at a fancy inaugural ball and proudly voted for Ralph Nader (and I was, gasp, a wannabe Republican at the time– silly girl, thankfully only 17 at the time), but I recognized her anyway. And the older I get, the more vintage I accumulate, the easier it is for me to recognize the lovely soul underneath the otherness, the camo, the blue wig, and that’s what attracts me now, every time.

I told you-- she owned that blue wig! I've never been more impressed with anyone in my entire life. Ever.
I told you– she owned that blue wig! I’ve never been more impressed with anyone in my entire life. Ever.

No matter the age, the place, the time, the person.

So, thankfully, at 30, I can see Lola at 11 and know that we’ll probably talking about books until the end of my days and I can make plans to push Marie’s wheelchair around when I’m in my 70s and she’s in her 90s.

Except who am I kidding? Marie will probably be 90 pushing my wheelchair around when I’m 70. It’s much more likely to happen that way. She’s tough like that. And I’m not. Either way, we’ll still be friends.


An old compliment, a new manicure. Also, a purple monkey.

One time my friend Erika said something nice to me. (Actually a lot more than once, I just want to tell you about one of those times…)

It was a small compliment. But it made me feel oh so good.

We were in grad school and I had just painted my fingernails with my newest shade– OPI’s Pamplona Purple. (Small pleasures, you know…)

And my friend Erika… she told me she liked it!

And not just that, she told me that it was the “perfect shade of purple” and asked me for the name.

I didn’t invent the color. I only even picked it because I thought the name was cool. But I still felt so much pride in my pretty purple fingers. I felt so good!

It was seriously such a small, itty, bitty, likely not even terribly well thought out compliment. And yet, I still remember it… several years later.

I thought about that compliment on Saturday as I removed the remaining bits of my silver sparkles from the crazy week before and put on a couple coats of vibrant, shiny, Pamplona Purple– fingers and toes!!

Here, I’ll show you:

Pamplona Purple

Kidding! Those totally aren’t my nails! This is the cool way to show off a manicure though– perfectly painted fingers wrapped around the bottle.

I’ve also seen it this way:


Perfectly manicured nails wrapped around something pretty and similar in color. But those are (obviously) also not my nails.

These… these are my nails:

Purple Monkey Manicure

I wrapped my pretty purple nails around my pretty purple monkey. Just like on the rest of the internet. Because I’m cool like that. And because Erika made me feel nice when I painted my nails like this the first time.

Amazing what such a small thing can do for you, isn’t it? You never really know when that nice thing you’re thinking could be exactly the nice thing someone needs to hear. And if you do let it out– maybe it’ll be something worth remembering in a year or two or five when that person needs a little pick-me-up.


Anyway, I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m watching Crazy, Stupid, Love. and it’s almost the part of the movie where Cal realizes his daughter is the girl Jacob is dating and a big, hilarious, four-man, backyard brawl breaks out. I love this part, it’s too funny. So I better watch it. And if you haven’t seen Crazy, Stupid, Love. you should really consider watching it too! (And I turned it on right before Jacob took his shirt off, double bonus. It wasn’t until I saw this that I got the Ryan Gossling “Hey Girl” Pinterest phenomenon. I totally get it now.)

Later gators!!

The Importance of Being Earnest… or whoever you are.

Have you seen the movie The Importance of Being Earnest?  Colin Firth and Rupert Everett are in it.

That’s really all you need to know.

Colin Firth: Mr. Darcy, Mark Darcy, Jamie, King George, Harry… worth the watch all on his own.

Anyway, in the movie, two men (two British men) pretend to be named Ernest because, as the lovely little Cecily says:

“… it has always been a girlish dream of mine to love a man named Ernest.”

Can I ever relate!  Except it was the name Seth that really did it for me. Happily ever after. The end.

(Kidding of course, it was his singing! Car singing… that’s what really won me over!)

Anyway, both Jack and Algy pretend to be named Ernest– Ernest Worthing. Until their fiances get together, find out they’re both engaged to Mr. Ernest Worthing, the men have to come clean, and hilarity (musical hilarity, I might add!) ensues!  Admittedly, I am not done watching the movie (I couldn’t stay on the elliptical that long), but I plan to finish it tonight and I’m pretty sure I get the message:


And I can get behind that!

You see, my good friend Lee Chim went on a first date with a gentleman suitor this weekend and as she regaled us with the tales of the somewhat dorky awkwardness that the date entailed this morning, I couldn’t help but smile and smile and smile. (Oh, look! I’m smiling again!!) Because that’s who she is– to a T. Lee is a little bit dorky, a little bit awkward, but kind to the absolute center of her core. And she had FUN being herself: dorky, awkward, and kind.  A lot of fun. Enough fun to want to do it again. And so did he! Even though she opened the door for him (chivalry goes both ways, people! especially in the great white north!) and ended the evening with an awkward handshake-hug-pat-on-the-back combo– she was still the vibrant and lovely Lee, just being herself, the “pretty lady” that she is (he totally called her that– swoon!) and that was what I’m certain won him over.

Lee went on her date as Lee, not as Ernest. (See the connection I’m making here?) Pretending to be someone you’re not can be pretty funny in the movies, but seems like an awful lot of work without the possibility of much reward in real life.

I can’t be the only one who finds faking it exhausting, can I? And even more so, frustrating when it’s someone else putting on a front for me!

I love Lee for Lee (she’s seriously amazing you guys, and yes, I’m putting some extra compliments here at the end because I am banking on forgiveness in the morning! but I really do mean it… I cannot tell you how glad I am to have met her!! and to see her have fun on her date!!) and tonight I’ll find out if Cecily and Gwendolyn are willing to love their Ernest Worthings even if they go by Algy and Jack instead (don’t worry– it’s a romantic comedy, all signs point to yes). In my life, I’ve spent a lot of time pretending to be something I’m not. (I’d like to say trying rather than pretending, but I’m also trying to be honest with you here… so I’ll keep it real. Pretending it is.) And not once has it ever paid off.*

I have a sneaky feeling that (if you look for it love actually is all around… couldn’t help it after I started the sentence that way!) Lee would prefer to be loved for being her authentic self, dorkiness and all. That’s why I love her, to be sure! (Dorky is my love language, y’all.) And all the most important people in my life love me in the same way. Warts and all, as they say! (But seriously, I had a lot of warts on my left knee when I was growing up, it was unfortunate.)


*Ok, actually, there was that one time… when I pretended to molt at the dinner table for a while and begged for reptilian company to molt with, I did actually get an iguana for Christmas. That paid off pretty handsomely. But that was the only time, I swear.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: unless you’re trying to get your parents to buy you a lizard for Christmas, it’s probably best to just be yourself.


PS: Lee Chim is just a super clever nickname– got to protect the innocent and all that! Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is, well, because that’s the point… 😉  I love you, Lee Chim!! <3