November 18th 2016

Thirty-two years ago today I got married. I was three weeks away from turning 35. My husband likes to joke that I had the date chosen when I proposed a few months earlier but that’s not quite the case. Here’s the way it played out:

We met in 1982, and I confess to having had that ‘this is the one’ feeling from the start. Old loves always keep a place in your heart—just play the song(s) you listened to when you were a teenager in love, or in your twenties and in love, and you know what I mean. But this love had something about it that spelled Let’s Stay Together.

So, a few months shy of the two-year marker in relationship I kind of suggest maybe it’s time we do something. He says, “you mean like get married?” I nod. Then I go into the bathroom and throw up. No joke. That would have been June. No hurry to set a date but I did want to get married in 1984. Do something life-affirming in a year forever marked as an ominous one. November (wedding) in New York had a nice ring to it.

A month and half ago my daughter proposeengagement-bells-fbs to her boyfriend, who puts the heartfelt and humorous touch to it all on Facebook.

Fortunately, instead of experiencing her mother’s OMG I-did-it anxiety, she gets a very special pair of shoes. He gets himself a wedding band from Tiffany. The engagement ring was a given, and I get the pleasure of delivering it when we’re all together for Thanksgiving. There’s a spirit to stones, and this one started out as a pendant my mother wore, then gave to me at a time when I was suffering. Now it gets to sparkle on my daughter’s hand in a time of joy. My mother is long gone, but I can feel her kvelling.

‘Sparkle’ is not a word that readily comes to mind these day. ‘Struggle’ would be more like it. To hear those two words juxtaposed against each other puts me in a poetic mindset.

When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me . . .

Actually it’s Pema Chodron I look to but we’re talking metaphor here. And if I can’t let it be, the least I can do is be with my struggles.

I struggle with even looking at news headlines. All those polls I’ve neurotically counted on during past election cycles! How could they get it so wrong this time around? Who needs explanations in hindsight? Why bother listening to the chatter of projections re: what to expect from the new administration? It’s the wise Buddhists who remind us there is only the moment, here and now. Things change, times change, often in the most unexpected ways. So why the delusion of thinking there’s reassurance in knowing what’s ahead?

I struggle with a sense of purpose gone awry when political/global anxieties fuel personal ones. So I hole myself up in the room I call my treehouse, watching Justin Timberlake in concert. Can’t say I’m a big fan, but he makes me smile, and he is a standout from those early boy groups my daughter and her friends were enthralled with, and this wonderful big TV has me going for the sight and sound spectacle it was meant for. Can I do this for the next four years?jt-on-tv

I struggle with groundlessness When Things Fall Apart, and look to the spirit of Pema Chodron’s guiding words re: being Comfortable with Uncertainty.

I struggle with what failure means, both on the personal front and the systemic one.

My reputation for being optimistic is not serving me well, even as I’m reminded this is no time to hide my head in the sand. Poetry is apparently going viral in the wake of deep disillusionment/shock/anger. Joshua Rothman tells readers How to Restore Your Faith in Democracy. Michael Moore gives us a Morning After To-Do List, Rebecca Solnit writes about How to Survive a Disaster, the Huffington Post offers up 18 Compassionate Poems to Help you Weather Uncertain Times, and the story that grips me most?

Death Valley Is Alive

I go back to Andrienne Rich, What Is Found There: “The impulse to enter, with other humans, through language, into the order and disorder of the world, is poetic at its root as surely as it is political at its root.” adrienne-rich

When do I stop moaning and groaning? Watching Samantha Bee helps a lot. Even Bill Maher, whom I avoided in the aftermath of the election, elicits a cynical smile. Then there’s SNL rising to the occasion, Kate McKinnon at the piano with a resonant Hallelujah to remind us of all that we lost last week, and Dave Chapelle to remind us of how much we’ve missed him.

Besides, don’t I have a wedding to plan? The wedding date is yet to be set, the venue not yet finalized but my daughter thinks the first dance with her husband might be to Hallelujah. Of course, I best her.

Go for Dance Me to the End of Love.



“We got older, but we’re still young…”

sara logo
Summer is a time of outdoor music festivals, something I used to cherish much more when I lived on the East Coast. It just went with the season. Now in California, I’ve never gotten my shit together to make a picnic of a Hollywood Bowl concert, but as I wait in line for an overpriced burger, that doesn’t stop me from thinking: I should have packed my own food and wine.

My summer concert season started off with Billy Joel and it’s ending with Justin Timberlake. In the middle I’ll have seen Robyn and Paul McCartney. . . basically all people who started out WAY before my time or just during my time.

Summer for me (after I finished my last year at sleepaway camp obviously!!) used to be Jones Beach, Warped Tour, consuming every new band that I could, from Something Corporate to Senses Fail. I even found a little niche writing about concerts and interviewing bands for an online music ‘zine, which even got me close to the stage, taking photos. I felt like William Miller in Almost Famous.

That all changed when I started to feel “too old for that shit.” The exact moment happened when my friend and I were on our way to Warped Tour 2005 in Northampton, MA, and were stuck in traffic for four hours, missing 90 percent of the day. My lowest point of that “road trip” was when I had to pee so badly that I had my pants down with a Nalgene ready to receive a nice stream of urine, when my friend finally reached the exit and I rushed into the nearest restroom. ltj7The highest point that day was ending it at an Outback Steakhouse with a bloomin’ onion.

I used to never let these sort of obstacles stand in my way. If there was a will, there was a way and there was always both, even if it required my parents having to accompany me. Mom, I’m still mad at you for making me leaving Blink-182 early during my favorite song, junior year of high school!!

In recent years, Sugar Ray of “Fly” fame has gathered other 90s rock bands at the Greek each summer to perfom all our favorite hits of theirs from the 90s. I went two years ago and it was a blast. I was supposed to go last year, but my obstacle then was a broken ankle, and I would have loved to go this year, but I’m seeing Justin Timberlake instead (poor me). It was good nostalgia—Gin Blossoms, Smash Mouth, Everclear—all performing songs that I will always love, and no one trying to push new shit on us. They knew exactly why they were there and what we wanted to see/hear. That’s the right kind of old school show. That’s what Billy Joel would do!

nyw04sc_4I think what I learned is that nostalgia only gets you so far. How many times do I really need to see Blink-182? As much as I loved them growing up, seeing them last fall was just not the same. Their juvenile act is the same, but their music has evolved with their age (as it should) and it just doesn’t work anymore. My taste has evolved with my age, too, and Blink-182 and I have sadly gone separate ways. Some bands have stood the test of time and have grown up with me like Green Day and Andrew McMahon. Others are still stuck in the late 90s and early 2000s – decades which I have grown past emotionally and physically (don’t even get me started on the comeback of the Birkenstock).

Maybe it’s because the cost of a concert is now an arm and a leg, but I’ve become more discerning about who I will spend money on. If I’ve never seen you and you’re a classic (hey, Sir Paul, can’t wait for this weekend!), then I’ll do it. If I have seen you or know others have seen you asfnov23_1nd know you put on an amazing show, then heck yeah. There’s something to be said for letting go. I’m sorry, Blink-182, but that’s what I’ve had to do with you.

Also, my time is more precious now and I am pickier about how I spend it. I’d rather listen to an old CD in my car and remember driving around in high school to “Boys of Summer” than see The Ataris again (if they’re still a band). If you’re an aging rock star, though, and I haven’t seen you yet, come at me! If you’re a new band . . . your songs better have enough variety to keep me interested.