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In Spite of Everything, I’m Ending 2020 Feeling Very Lucky

30 Dec
Sunset over Chestnut Hill Reservoir

By nearly every measure, 2020 was not a good year. The reasons — many of them stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the contentious election (and politics just in general), and the multiple cases of racial injustice — have been well documented, so I don’t need to spend a lot of time rehashing them here. We’ve all lived through this year, and we know how bad it was.

But, while the pandemic may have taken a lot from us, including plans, people, and the passage of time, it did not take away perspective. In fact, the darkness of this year only made the light shine brighter.

To that end, there were also plenty of good or fun things that happened, and things that were worth smiling about. These things should be remembered, too. We should be grateful for all the doctors and healthcare workers, the public health officials, the teachers, the supermarket employees, and many other “essential workers” who went above and beyond to keep us safe, healthy, well fed, educated, stocked, and supplied this year. And of course, we should applaud the millions of people around the world who rightfully took to the streets to affirm that Black lives do, in fact, matter, and to demand that others said the same and acted accordingly.

To be clear, I’d never say I had a good year in 2020. I spent much of it alone in my small apartment, I was often confused or angry or frustrated (or all three), I lost my job over the summer, I couldn’t travel or go to the movies or experience concerts or do other in-person things I enjoy, and there’s been a nagging sense that life is passing me by while I social distance. As the Lone Bellow sang in their song “Dust Settles,” “I’ve been missing from the land of the living.” 

And yet, amazingly, in spite of everything, I actually found something to be happy about every single day this year. That’s just one reason why I’m ending 2020 feeling incredibly lucky.

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Let’s Not Forget These Early Days of 2018 (The Good Ones, Anyway)

29 Jun

It’s hard to believe, but it was just last week that James Corden shared his awesome “Carpool Karaoke” video with Paul McCartney with the world.

Less than a month and a half ago, we were all fighting about whether we heard “Laurel” or “Yanny.” (It’s Yanny. No question.)

Two and a half months ago, Desiree Linden won the Boston Marathon women’s race, by more than four minutes — even after stopping just over an hour into the race to wait while Shalane Flanagan went to the bathroom.

Less than three weeks before that, Brandon Victor Dixon’s performance blew us away in the live TV production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Black Panther, easily the best movie so far this year, came out just four months ago.

And a month before that, we were all cheering when the Minnesota Vikings staged an incredible comeback in the last minute of an NFL playoff game. (Unless you were a New Orleans Saints fan, that is.)

Yes, all of that happened this year. Continue reading

My Niece Is Turning 10 Years Old Today. Why Can’t She Stay Young Forever?

4 May

On a recent visit to New York, it got to be that time, and my sister asked my niece, Abby, who she wanted to put her to sleep that night. With minimal hesitation, Abby responded, “Uncle.”

So up we went, and after a bit of her customary procrastination — she had to rearrange her stuff, she had to check out her fish, she had to put stuff away, she had to change from shorts into pants, then change back again, etc. etc. etc. — she got into bed. Continue reading

The 2018 Happiness Project

2 Jan

I don’t know much, but I know this: You can’t plan to be happy.

That said, you can make an effort to be mindful and appreciate good things that happen and that make you smile. And those things will make you happier. It’s a simple idea, but it’s an effective one.

And being happy has many benefits — not least of which is that nobody wants to hang around with a perpetual Debbie Downer. But all kidding aside, being happy has multiple health benefits, including increased strength and decreased stress, a stronger immune system, and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Scientific evidence also suggests that happiness can help you unlock creativity, improve your memory, and make you more productive. So, it’s really not a trite or superficial (or sexist) thing when someone wishes you a “Happy New Year” or “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Holiday,” or suggests you smile more. They’re actually wishing you increased wellness and productivity. Continue reading

25 Important Lessons My Father Has Taught Me About Living a Great Life

21 Feb

Martin and HarveyFor a long time now, my sister and I have (affectionately) given my parents a hard time because they can be kind of square. You know, like ’50s TV parents square.

But the nice thing about having Ward Cleaver for a father is that, just like on Leave It to Beaver, there’s always a lesson to be learned, whether you realize it or not. And over the years, me and the Beav — I mean, my sister — have certainly learned a lot.

Today, on the occasion of my dad’s 70th birthday, I wanted to share a few of those lessons. Most of these my sister and I cowrote and read aloud at a surprise party for him yesterday. But since we didn’t want to speak too long and bore the crowd in attendance, I kept a few extras just for this blog post. Continue reading

My Favorite Part of This Past Weekend

3 Jan

kids holding handsMy niece and nephews (as well as my sister and brother-in-law) were in Boston this past weekend.

We had a really fun time. It was a great way to end the year.

The six of us managed to pack a lot of stuff into the three days, especially given the snow storm on Saturday, and when they left on Monday afternoon, the three kids apparently fell right to sleep in the car.

That’s one sign of a good weekend.

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38 Is Not the New 40

4 Jun

I’m turning 38 this week.

(Thursday, to be exact.)

I don’t tell you this so you can run out and get me a gift and/or a card and/or a cake and/or plan a party for me — though yes, any or all of that would be appreciated.

It’s more that I need to remind myself that I’m not turning 40 this year. Because all of a sudden, I feel like 40 is right around the corner and I’m not ready for it just yet. Continue reading

For the Kids

26 Jul

When my niece, Abby, was born, my sister and brother-in-law told me they were committed to visiting Boston twice a year so that I could be more a part of her life, and so she could see where I live.

They’ve done just that.

Now that I have two nephews, the same philosophy holds true.

And this weekend, the boys — and their sister and their parents — came to visit me.

Like Abby’s first visit, it was a low-key weekend, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun. Continue reading

You’re Sleeping Your Lives Away

4 Apr

Dear Marc and Ian,

I know how tough it must be to be two months old.

After all, I was a baby once too, and I lived through it with your big sister, Abby.

All you do is sleep, eat, cry, and poop, over and over again. Without even saying what you want, people pamper you and attend to your every need.

Yes, I know. It’s very hard work, and that’s why you’re always sleeping.

But I have to tell you, boys: sleeping all the time means you’re missing out on some really cool stuff. Continue reading

The Last Blog Post

9 Feb

I’ve learned many things from my dad over the years, but the one lesson that’s stayed with me more than any other is this one: Don’t go to bed angry.

On more than one occasion, I’ve seen my dad get angry with someone, and then, almost without fail, before the day was up, he would apologize or clear the air.

Or, at the very least, he compartmentalized those feelings and didn’t let them affect his interactions with me or anyone else.

I haven’t always heeded that lesson, and too often I’ve actually done the opposite (with not so good results), but I’ve kept it in mind as the basis for what I should be doing. Continue reading