“the opposite of loneliness”

imgres

“The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan

“An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.” -Amazon Books

I was on Martha’s Vineyard, two years ago, when I first heard about Marina Keegan’s tragic accident on Cape Cod. There were several elements of this story that hit too close to home. The accident itself happened close by and flooded our local news. Additionally, she radiated all the hopes, dreams and spirit of my own daughter; only a year younger than Marina in 2012. They possessed that end of college sensation that anything and all is possible. “We are so young.”

I read “The Opposite of Loneliness”, a collection of her essays and stories, this past week. As graduation season approaches, this makes for a perfect gift for the young adult reader. (Sans vampires or nether world killing games.) The essays are funny, poignant, self-aware, refreshing and above all, well written. It does yank at your heart, as we will never hear from Ms. Keegan again.

I admire her parents and teachers, for pouring over her work and not changing or revising one single word. They allowed us to “see” their daughter. Their absolutely normal, spirited, fiery college aged daughter. They let her be…well, real. They could have easily sanitized a few sentences in her fiction, made her more prosaic. Given us the literary airbrushed version of Marina. Instead, they honored her talent and granted readers the chance to know their daughter.

To me, her pages echo a voice of both of a young woman wise beyond her years along with the spirit and idealism of a young child. Believing in the power of her words to inspire and impel to action:

“Let’s make something happen to this world.”

My original post, Living Marina, from May 2012.

the end of teenager-dom

 

 

Sandwich

 

The Boy turned 20 this week. My baby is 20.

Just like when I turned 30. 40. Reflection is inevitable.

Larkin and I have had more than the lion’s share of teenager-dom. 17 years. 17 years straight of raising crazy, wonderful, lying, beautiful, self-centered, manipulative teenagers. As Jordan aptly replied, “Puh, teenagers…they’re the worst.” Right?!

I see them. My contemporaries. Celebrities and dignitaries my age. Damn, they look good. But, did they have to raise teenagers for 17 straight years?! I am making frown lines on my brow, as I type.

When you hold those babies in the hospital, gently brushing their faces with the scant wisp of your forefinger, you never imagine the teenage years. The time period in which you will become the un-coolest, dumbest, “you don’t understand” version of your parents. Simpletons, really, just trying to manage on the same planet with the mood-changing creatures you created. A creation you honestly question a few times as they change plans, yet again, miss curfew or simply roll their eyes for the umpteenth time.

Tick, tock. The bells toll.

 

photo-6

 

 

Joshua is 20. He is filled with a wisdom and a deep soul that I have seen before. He is swimming the pools of his father’s waters. I am in awe. Cautiously optimistic, yet still in awe.

Jordan, graduated from Boston University. Moving to L.A. Headed to Hollywood with determination, wit and wisdom, far beyond her years. Strength and grace. She is simply amazing.

Nicole, an entrepreneurial success, just like her dad. A talented, creative photographer in Austin. Making her own magic happen.

Monica, our oldest. Determined, charging her path, claiming her career as a successful Houston lawyer. Never doubted it for a minute.

Together, the four of them, all in their 20’s. (At least for a few month’s anyway.) Each live in a different city, across 3 states. One goes down, the other three rally. They are lucky. We are lucky. And grateful.

Dear Children,

I raise my glass to the four of you. We made it. You grew up. You matured and/or are maturing. Each of you, your own pace. I won’t name names.

Thank God you are not the same kids you were from 1996-2013. May those goofy, clueless, lovable souls live on, deep within your hearts. Personally, I hold every one of those stay up all night and worry years, close to my heart…and brow line…and grayed scalp line.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

But, just so you know, there isn’t anything you tried to pull on me that I couldn’t see right through. You had to lie. You had to push the envelope. You thought you knew it all. I know you had to go through it. You had to get to the other side. 

I know. I was once a teenager, too. Just ask Nana & Papa.

And, let’s be honest. It was all pretty “Boy Meets World” compared to that of your dad’s teenage years. At least now, we can all marvel at Uncle Josh’s new book, All The Wild Children, and truly appreciate how good we had it. 

And, for a moment, bask in the glory that you were NEVER that wild. Blessed be God. Love, Lola

 

photo-7

I have not yet read my brother-in-law’s latest book that was just released this week. I have been warned. But, I know my bro’s talent; I expect an excellent read of his “noir memoir”.

Psshaw. You can’t scare me. I’ve raised four of these “wild children”.  All with the same last name.

 

Update: I read the book in one day! I couldn’t put it down. It was like I really knew the characters…oh, wait…that’s right. I married into this cast of characters!

Excellent, poignant, heart wrenching, honest, beautiful….bad words, sex scenes and all. What a triumph for my brother-in-law, Josh Stallings. I am so proud.  To my sister-in-law, Erika, your patience continues to astound.

And to All of the Wild Children everywhere, call your parents. They miss you.

 

 

 

 

TCM Tuesday June 5th

It is a very blustery evening as I write. The wind is howling and there has been an unrelenting light rain all day. This is the weather forecast for the island for the next few days. I have plenty of food and provisions. And, I have plenty of DVR material to catch up on. I actually love this weather and I am looking forward to writing and catching up with the blog.

Here are my picks for this week, including one of my favorite films of all time, “Jezebel” with Bette Davis. It is the feature this week on TCM’s The Essentials. It’s going to be a good week.

 

Tuesday June 5th

(EST)

2:00 AM

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)

A black police detective from the North forces a bigoted Southern sheriff to accept his help with a murder investigation.

Dir: Norman Jewison Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates

C-110 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

While many movies attempt to show an honest narrative of racism in our modern history, they fall short when trying to appease a PC status quo. This Oscar-winning screenplay is brilliant for showing that racial tensions could be more than one-sided. Released in 1967, many viewed this as a timely film. But, let’s be honest, it is still timely today. This movie still stands as a timeless classic. Steiger won the Best Actor Oscar; the film, Best Picture. The Oscars were actually postponed that year for several days, due to the assassination of Martin Luther King. Sidney Poitier has often said this is his favorite movie. “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” is 16th in AFI’s greatest movie lines.

Thursday June 7th

8:00 PM

JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957)

After learning to play the guitar in prison, a young man becomes a rock ‘n roll sensation.

Dir: Richard Thorpe Cast:  Elvis Presley, Judy Tyler, Mickey Shaughnessy

BW-96 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format

Dance Alert! Elvis’ un-credited choreography for the song “Jailhouse Rock” is absolutely brilliant. He made it up on the spot, after the film’s choreographer realized that Elvis was not a professionally trained classical dancer. Gene Kelley was on set to watch Elvis film his most famous dance number. Sadly, Elvis refused to watch this movie because of the tragic death of Judy Tyler, just three days after filming was completed.

Friday June 8th

8:00 PM

SPIRAL STAIRCASE, THE (1945)

A serial killer stalks a mute servant girl in a remote mansion.

Dir: Robert Siodmak Cast:  Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore .

BW-84 mins, TV-14, CC

Grab a cozy throw and settle in for an excellent psychological thriller. Along with an excellent ensemble cast, the Victorian mansion, that most of the film takes place, is a character itself. (A quality I adore, as I am a huge Nancy Myers fan.)  This film is a masterful work of black and white photography.  It is also a lesson in cinematography and the ability to convey atmosphere on film.  

Saturday June 9th

8:00 PM

JEZEBEL (1938)

A tempestuous Southern belle’s willfulness threatens to destroy all who care for her.

Dir: William Wyler Cast:  Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent

BW-104 mins, TV-PG, CC

Woot! One of my favorites! Grab the Maker’s Mark, stir up a pitcher of mint juleps and get ready for one melodramatic trip to the South. Davis deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as stubborn, spoiled “Julie”. Wow. She nails it!  Some of the “traditions” and culture of the south may have you scratching your head, but just think of it as a history lesson or a “we’ve come a long way, baby” moment. Hell, just have another mint julep and enjoy classic Bette Davis.

BONUS: This is part of TCM’s The Essentials line-up and will be introduced by Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore in their special series. Another good reason to make a night of it. Cheers!

Sunday June 10th

7:00 PM

WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, THE: 50 YEARS OF MAGIC (1990)

The story of how MGM created one of the most beloved family films of all time.

Dir: Jack Haley Jr. Cast:  Angela Lansbury, John Lahr, Liza Minnelli

C-51 mins, TV-G, CC

8:00 PM

WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939)

A Kansas farm girl dreams herself into a magical land where she must fight a wicked witch to escape.

Dir: Victor Fleming Cast:  Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger

C-102 mins, TV-G, CC

I recommend this to everyone EXCEPT Jeffrey, and Larkin. (They really hate those flying monkeys.)

If you were a kid in the 70’s, doesn’t this movie remind you of getting fed and bathed early so our parents could set you in front of the TV to watch the ANNUAL airing of “The Wizard of Oz?” That’s right, all you kids with your fancy technology and your DVD’s and your Hulu and your Netflix. We had to WAIT for that ONE time of the year. And, we loved it.

It is summertime, so if you have little kids or just love this movie, I highly recommend tuning into The Essentials Jr. on Sunday nights, hosted by Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live. He will introduce this masterpiece that has been the inspiration for so many re-makes, adaptations, art, books and songs for over 60 years.

And, you can give your kids a little glimpse into the “olden days” when you had to watch a movie when it was actually ON. Regardless, it is a beautiful film with more poignant “finding your true self” metaphors than there are….well, FLYING MONKEYS….hee! hee! hee! hee!

 Enjoy!

The Art of the Gift- A Guide

The month of May always brings an onslaught of gift giving necessities with Mother’s Day, graduations and June brides. In our family, we even have several May birthdays compounded with Mother’s Day. I always refer to the second week in May, lovingly, of course, as “Hell Week”.

Here are some suggestions I have come across in my online search for mothers, grads, brides and birthdays.

 

 

GRADUATES

Whether High School or College, I think The Every Girl’s Guide to Life by Maria Menounos is an exceptional gift. Her book is brimming with small the details that we have tried to instill in our daughters, but in that un-nagging, not bitchy, cool-big-sister sort of way.

She is not only a beautiful girl on the outside, but she lives her life from a unique, calm, beautiful center and her inner beauty is just as stunning.

Her advice, tips and ideas are brilliant and savvy for a young woman getting ready to conquer her world.

 

 

 

Since my first home is Texas, I will give a shout out to the King Ranch Saddle Shop for the perfect Texas Grad guy gift. They have an array of gorgeous, quality leather goods in a variety of price ranges. Their luggage is stunning, yet very practical. This would be an awesome gift for a Texas student going out a state. Classic and understated; proud to be a Texan.

 

 

If you are not a Texan, first of all, my apologies. Second, I will throw a little support to my island home, Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard Vines has an amazing on-line catalog with great gift ideas that make shopping a breeze. They have a huge selection of collegiate  ties and tote bags, so your student can fashionably show support for their favorite school or alma mater.

 

BRIDES

Sure, couples make it so easy by registering for all of the things they think they are going to need. But, when there is that special couple and you want to give that special gift, one word: Tiffany’s.

When Larkin and I registered, we were that typical couple in ‘la la love land’ …clueless. Of course, I was 22 and did not really have a sense yet, as to what my home decor style was going to be. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to tack up posters on the wall anymore.

From one of my husband’s business associates, we received a tall, gorgeous crystal vase. At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine where I would put it or how I would use it. Did crystal even match papasan chairs?!

Today, I love what that crystal vase represents and I cherish it. When I arrange flowers for that vase, I remember how far we have come. It strikes me that somehow, the person who purchased this vase for us, could foresee that we would eventually make our way. We would be the people who would come to use that gorgeous crystal vase. It seems to say, I believed in you.

Tiffany’s online has a great selection of various price point crystal vases and bowls. Their customer service is just as impeccable as if you had walked through their revolving door, under the Tiffany blue awning. You will find that special gift that tells that special couple: I believe in you.

Mother’s Day

If you are shopping for your mom, be thankful to have a mother to shop for. I have several loved ones in my life who no longer have that blessed opportunity.

Flowers: easy and always my personal favorite because I LOVE flowers. My kids know to have them sent in paper, because for me, arranging them is the gift. I always use 1800Flowers because they have gorgeous variety, they have wonderful customer service and they always kick back a coupon for future purchases.

You can even set up a calendar, inputting dates and addresses so you’ll never miss an occasion again. Here is the DIY tip of the day:  If you have a forgetful significant other, simply go to their website, set up your birthday/anniversary info and add his email address. He will receive a reminder in due fashion with ideas and suggestions. Crisis averted. You’re welcome.

 

When my daughter, Jordan, became of self-sufficient gift giving age, she always sought out gifts that had a dual, social activist benefit. (Sometimes, I do miss the whole “glittered pasta glued to crap” years.)

Coming from a Catholic school upbringing, which instills social justice, she became adept in finding organizations that would match gifts or donate a portion of purchased items, back to impoverished or struggling communities. Almost all of my gifts from her, come with a card stating that someone, in some far away land is receiving a bag of rice to feed a family. Or, the start-up money to plant a new crop. So my next suggestion is inspired from her. I always say your kids are your biggest educators.

Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.

Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.  Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively online at Macy’s.com. Most items range from $25-$60.

 

There is an art to finding, purchasing, wrapping and delivering a beautiful gift. If you have a “go to” arsenal, you will never be caught off guard in finding the right gift. But, more than “right”, it should always be meaningful. “The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”  ~Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

The added bonus of the above suggestions is that they can all be purchased from home, lying in bed in your pajamas. Just as I am doing right now, prepping for “Hell Week”. I think even Pierre would appreciate my “manner”.

 

are you reading that book?

It’s Friday!  After a nice week of birthday celebration, it’s back to business.

Are you reading Fifty Shades of Grey? I am planning on starting it this weekend. In comparison, I’m late to the party, I know. But, everywhere I go, I hear women talking about this book. I feel like I HAVE to read it, now. It reminds me of the fifth grade when you had to keep up with Judy Blume books, just so you knew all of the important stuff, like, “the bases”.

Let me know your thoughts, opinions. I’d love to hear what some of my like minded women (& men!) are thinking about this read. It will be like our own little blog book club.

Since it’s Friday, here is a little laughter to get the weekend started. Enjoy!