What now?

It’s so hard to write at this moment in time.

What do I reflect upon? Do I continue to scream my rage about the slaughter of our children in their classrooms? I feel that I have to. Until we come to a place where common sense has ruled, I feel obligated to keep on screaming.

But my throat is sore. My heart is sore. My mind is sore.

I have signed every petition, sent money to every gun control group I can find. I am a part of Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Never Again, March for Our Lives. I will march in Boston on Mar. 24th.

I WILL keep on screaming.

But. In the meantime.

Children are our purest measure of ourselves. Our own children, our grandchildren. These are our own personal futures. We all want to feel eternal. Our beautiful children give us that belief.

My little grandchildren give me the strength to keep on screaming. Even while I am braiding Ellie’s beautiful brown hair, I am screaming inside, “Take away the guns that might kill her.”  Even as I rock my sweet little Johnny in my arms, I find myself screaming, “Keep him safe! Let him be safe.”

When we have children, we believe that our love will protect them. When we create our loving, supportive families, we think that it’s enough to keep our children secure and to let them grow into adulthood.

We can’t believe that one depressed, angry, lonely young man could tear apart all that love. All that joy. All that sweet, uplifting hope.

But we are, of course, wrong.

I keep trying to write. I keep trying to post funny stories about my grandchildren. How funny it is to see my sweet little Ellie, at all of 2 1/2 years, asking me, “So how is your Momma feeling? Is she getting better and better?”

I want to make you laugh as I write about the challenges of toilet training with a sassy little toddler. I want to tell you funny little stories about baby Johnny learning to crawl.

But I can’t.

Every time I try, I am overwhelmed by images of Daniel Barden of Newtown Connecticut. I try to see Johnny, and I see Daniel.

When I try to write about my beautiful, brilliant, funny little Ellie, I keep seeing beautiful, brilliant, funny Jaime Guttenberg who died in Parkland, Florida.

I’m sure that I’ll be back soon. I’ll write funny little tales about the kids and about aging not-so-gracefully.

But for now.

I can’t stop screaming.

I’ll be part of the “March For Our Lives” on March 24.  I hope you will be out there, too.



Parental Sacrifice

Remember when your kids were little? It was funny, annoying and sweet to catch yourself making ridiculous sacrifices for them.

I know in my house we sacrificed our precious sleep just to keep those little cuties alive. I bet you did, too!

We sacrificed our date nights when we couldn’t find sitters. We sacrificed our weekends to hockey tournaments and band practice and girl scout camping trips. That’s what adults do for kids! We set aside our own needs and preferences for the children who depended on us.

Whether it was the pulp in our orange juice or the crunch in our peanut butter, we were willing to give up our own pleasures to keep our kids happy.

As a teacher, I remember sacrificing my lunch break for kids who needed someone to talk to. We all sacrificed our weekends to lesson plans so that the kids would have the best week possible.

That’s what adults do. That is how every species has managed to survive. We sacrifice our own needs so that the next generation can thrive.

I know that if someone told me that I should give up a dangerous vice in order to protect our children, I would do it. I have skipped that glass of wine with dinner so I could safely drive the kids to a lesson or a game. I have given up the warmth and comfort of our wood stove, knowing that it made it harder for the kids to breathe.

Adults are genetically predisposed to protect children.

So if I was a person who really had a fabulous time juggling hand grenades, I’d be willing to give that up if I knew it might hurt the kids in my neighborhood. If I was a driver who really enjoyed driving a tank around town, I’d grudgingly stop doing it in order to prevent kids from getting squished.

This is what human being are designed to do. We are designed to protect our children.


Why do the “I really have a good time shooting my AR-15” people think that their “fun” is more important than the lives of our kids? It makes no sense. It defies logic.

I know that if I could save the life of one child by giving up my TV, I’d do it. If I could save the lives of a dozen kids by giving up my laptop, it would be gone. Save a hundred kids by giving up my car? Yup, you can have it.

Save thousands of kids every single year by giving up my assault weapon?

Why would any human being say no to that?

I don’t know how these people sleep at night.

Oh, Those Kids Today

You know what I loved about teaching? It wasn’t the enormous salary or the fabulous overtime pay. It wasn’t the big clunky desk with the three stuck drawers, or the little bathroom that I shared with 25 other adults of both genders.


I didn’t love teaching because the 14 meetings a week were so riveting or because the sound of the copy machine was music to my ears. It wasn’t the 15 minute lunches eaten at my desk or the joy of lugging 20 pound curriculum boxes up and down stairs.

None of that was what kept me teaching for three decades.

I loved teaching because there is nothing as exciting as watching children discover their inner power. I loved being in the presence of children who were learning to stretch their tender wings. Watching them learn to take risks, to open themselves to the possibility of failure, to push themselves to take on challenges that loomed so large in front of them…those were the moments that made me catch and hold my breath. Those were the moments that brought tears to my eyes.


Children grow, and stretch and carefully inch their way into adulthood. They do it with joy and fear and a constant sense of wonder. When you are in the presence of children, you are filled with the sense of the possible.

In the past week, I have watched hundreds of children turn their rage and their grief into powerful action. The young people of Parkland Florida have humbled me and brought me to tears over and over again. They are articulate, using the force of all that emotion to perfectly express what so many of us have been feeling for years.

They are unfiltered, because they are honest. They don’t know how to twist the truth of what they lived. They don’t try. They lived through their worst nightmares, and they are determined to make us understand what that was like for them.

They are powerful. They believe that they can change the world, so they will. They are still innocent enough to believe that there is justice in this country, so I will believe that for them. They have faith that there is honor in those who sit in our seats of power. But they are wise enough to know that if that honor doesn’t shine at this terrible moment, those seats can be taken away.

Like every one of the children I taught, these young people humble me.

The future belongs to them, and they are beginning to understand that. The students of Parkland, Florida, the students of my home state of Massachusetts, the students in Newtown Connecticut…all of them lift me up. They give me the courage to stand beside them, to keep on fighting, to speak truth to corrupt power.

Children are what keeps this very sad, discouraged old teacher lady going.

Kids today.

Thank the good Lord in Heaven for kids today.


She was only a baby


There was another shooting at another school in the United States this past week.

I know. Yawn, yawn. It doesn’t even make the headlines anymore.

But still.

Think of the teachers who kiss their children goodbye every morning and grab their travel mugs of coffee as they head to school. Think of the parents, millions of them, who pack lunches for their kids and check homework. Picture them kissing their children and putting them on the big yellow bus.

Think about how much trust it takes to send children off to spend the day in the care of other adults. Think about how much trust it takes to go into work every day as a teacher. Think about the number of school shootings that take place in this country every month.

I used to be a teacher. I went to those terrible, horrifying trainings on how to react to a live shooter in our school. I had to keep my door locked at all times, in the event of a shooter coming in to get us.

I used to stay awake at night picturing how I would react if someone burst into my classroom with a weapon. I imagined using my broom to hit the bad guy in the chest or the throat. I imagined telling my ten year old students to lie flat on the floor as I did this. I thought about kicking the weapon away from the killer and I thought about hitting him with my broom, or my feet, or with a big dictionary.

It never felt real. And it never felt it would be enough.

What kind of country asks its children to practice hiding from guns, rather than keeping the guns out of the schools? What kind of insane society asks its teachers to practice taking out a murderer during a reading lesson?

The other day a little girl took hold of a gun and brought it to her Los Angeles middle school. She shot her classmates.

She was 12 years old.

Let me say that again.

She was TWELVE.

She was too young to vote, to order a glass of wine or to get a credit card. She was too young to understand that death is eternal. She was a child. A young child. She was an unhappy pre-adolescent girl who felt bad about herself.

What kind of country would allow her access to a weapon? What kind of sick, twisted, insane society would put this kind of gun into the hand of a sad little girl who doesn’t understand its power?

I am so ashamed to be an American. I am. THIS is why.

I am ashamed because I live in a country that believes that the right to shoot for fun outweighs the rights of children to go to school in safety. I am ashamed because I live in a country that has decided that the millions of NRA dollars are more important the lives of millions of teachers.

We have so completely lost our way, America.

A TWELVE YEAR OLD brought a gun to school and shot up the kids who were bugging her. And nobody in power gives a shit. It didn’t even make the front pages of our national newspapers.

We have lost our way. We are lost. We have abdicated our right to call ourselves merciful, kind or nurturing.

I am sick at heart. And I will forever mourn the adults who let this little girl destroy her own life and the lives of her classmates just so they can tell themselves that they are big old badass gun toting Mericans.

If Canada would have me, I’d be there next week.


How I Became One of the Cool Kids


Upstate Rubdown. The actual cool kids.

I think I was about 10 when I realized that the world is made up of those who are cool and those who want to be.

I wanted to be cool.

I wasn’t.

I tried to be less of a nerd, but I was known as one of those kids who would sneak a good novel into my desk during math class.

Fashion seemed like the obvious way to become cool, but by the time I realized that hiphuggers were in, they weren’t any more. Nehru jackets in the late 60’s? Yup. I got mine in 1971.

Epically uncool.

But there was ONE thing I did manage to do in my life that shot me straight into the cool kid stratosphere. I discovered some really great musicians before they became huge.

So cool! The coolest!

Nothing turns a nerd cool faster than being ahead of the musical curve, you know what I mean?  Imagine having someone put on a CD of their new favorite band and being able to say, “Pshaw. I’ve been seeing them for years!” Coolness, hipness and general superiority come flooding right down over your nerdy little head.

Well, my friends, this is YOUR chance to become almost as cool as Momshieb.

Because I have a tip that you honestly can’t ignore.

Introducing “Upstate Rubdown,” my new musical obsession!  We first heard them two years ago on the advice of our already musically cool sons. Both Paul and I fell in love with the harmonies, the energy, the uniqueness of their music.

We have seen them about a dozen times since then and we listen to their first album so often that my 2 year old granddaughter can sing every word.

You need to listen to Upstate Rubdown. You owe it to your former nerdy self! You owe it to your musical self. You can find them on Facebook and on YouTube. Go!

But then come right back, because this is the coolest part. Upstate is working on a new album! For reasons that defy comprehension, they have not yet been signed by a record company. So they are funding it through a Kickstarter campaign.

You need to click right HERE so that you can send them some money, preorder the album, and insure your place forever in the pantheon of cool kids.

How can you say no?

Upstate 2

It doesn’t get much cooler than this.

To be completely truthful (“in the interest of transparency”) I have to tell you that both of our sons fell in love with the music, too. Then one of them fell in love with one of the beautiful singers.

That means that we know these young people. We are big time fans (just ask them how goofy we look singing along at their shows). But we also know that this band is the real deal. They are hardworking, smart, kind and so talented that I constantly have to fight the urge to ask for their autographs.

Go listen. I’m not kidding. You will NOT be sorry.

The Ending of Another Year


When I was younger, New Year’s Eve meant the welcoming of a newer, brighter, more hopeful next step. We were all moving forward into a brighter day, where all of the errors of the past could be erased and the dawning of a new spring was just ahead of us.

I remember one New Year’s Eve celebration with friends, where one of us jumped up on a table at midnight, glass of wine in hand, and shouted, “This is the year when I get MARRIED!!!” The whole bar cheered, and we all laughed and danced and jumped up and down.

It feels like yesterday.

That friend is now a grandmother of two, with another on the way. She’s still married to that fabulous guy she was dancing with on that long ago eve.

And I feel as if no time at all has passed. And I feel like that night was a thousand years ago.

Now we stand on the brink of another New Year.

Now I am more practical, more measured, more prosaic as I mark the unstoppable march of time.

Goodbye, 2017. You were a year. You had your wonderful glories, like the birth of our sweet little Johnny. And the celebration of our sons falling in love. And the wonderful summer weather.

But you were a regular year, so you had your awful moments, too. Like the loss of a young friend by his own hand. And the death of our sweet old Tucker.

You were a year of fear for a lot of us, as we saw our country fall under the control of a man who most of us think is a dangerous despot. We found ourselves revisiting our fears of nuclear war. And discovering new fears of a vulnerable power grid and cyber war.

You were a year of shock. But you were also the year of our renewed strength, as so many of us marched to voice our outrage. I ushered you in with millions of other resistors around the country, and I will usher you out with my resolve unchanged.

2017, you were a year.

I am happy enough to bid you goodbye, although a part of me thinks, “one less year of life for me” as I wave you out the door.

2018, let’s welcome you in. May your storms be few, your wars be limited, and your memories be sweet.

Another trip around the sun for all of us. Next year, I’m sure, will be another year on planet earth.


Step By Step

One of the interesting parts of getting older, according to this aging Nonni, is gaining the ability to see the difference between reality and what people have perceived.

For example, I remember my childhood with so much warmth and love. My family was never, ever perfect (uh, we were humans, right?) but we did our best. My parents were first generation Americans with a strong Italian immigrant flavor. We grew up with pasta on Sundays, red wine in the glasses, lunches made of salami and provolone.

Our parents were dealing with all of the pressures of the 1950’s. Dad had served in the Army in WWII. Mom had grown up as the oldest child in an Italian immigrant family, and she gave up her dream of becoming an artist because that’s what women did in the 1950s. She got married. She gave birth to six of us. She raised us while my Dad worked days and studied at night.

We were unremarkable.

We were an American family in the years that followed the second great war. We were polite, we were respectful, we were good students.

We were NOT ever perfect.

The six of us learned how to push back against our parents when the Beatles hit these shores. We lobbied hard for long hair (the boys) and short skirts (the girls). We argued. We fought. We yelled at each other about the Vietnam War and the peace movement and the supposedly incomprehensible lyrics of rock songs.

But we were a unit. Six kids. Six attractive, healthy kids. Well loved by our parents, even when they drove us nuts.

And we loved each other.

I was a part of the “big kids” group. My older brother, me, my sister Liz. We were the first set of kids in the house. But we were followed, very closely, by the “little kids”. A baby brother, a sweet little sister, and another baby boy.

The “big kids” did our best to take care of the “little kids” as we all grew up in a middle class American family.

We were not perfect. We argued. We fought. We rebelled (although the big kids didn’t do it as well as the little kids). We did our best to take care of each other.

Life is never a straight line. Life is never the careful step-by-step that most of us hope we can achieve. Life is full of totally unexpected, out-of-left-field hits. All we can do is reach back into our pasts, into our lives, into our earliest selves, to make everything all right once again.

It doesn’t always work. But what else can we do?

I know that my family life has been 61 years of step-by-step. Sixty one years of trying my best to do my best. Trying to be the most loving and supportive family member I can be, while realizing that perfection is a myth.

Step by step.

We all do our best to be our best.

If we aren’t perfect, we are not to blame.

We’re only human after all.


Every small step counts.

What is that sound?


The first time that I heard it was just before dawn. It was one of those hot nights, hot enough to keep all the windows open, hoping for a breeze.

I rolled over wondering what it was that I was hearing. It roared and it screeched, but it was far away. Like in a dream. Not fully in this world, but out there. I lay on my back, trying to orient myself.

“It’s Monday. It’s summer. I’m home.” Slowly, as always, I managed to ground myself in my reality.

I lay there, listening. It was the sound of a racing car that I heard. I heard the engine roar, and the tires squeal.

It was a sound that simply didn’t fit.

I live in a rural place, in a neighborhood where people live quietly and drive carefully.

This was the strange sound of someone racing, gunning for speed and power. I had never heard anything like it in this place. I lay there for a bit, listening to the screaming brakes. “Who is that?”, I wondered. “What’s going on?”

Then the sound faded, and I drifted back to sleep. The early summer morning settled back into it’s usual peace. I almost forgot the strange sound of racing engines in the semi-dark.

But I heard it again the next morning, just as the sun began to rise. And again the morning after that.

I began to wonder about the driver out there. Every morning, just at dawn, I heard the sound of those shrieking tires, out there just beyond my street.  I began to imagine a face behind the windshield of that racing car.

I saw a young man. I saw anger. I saw dark eyes and a tangle of hair. I saw a frown and a clenched fist, pounding on the steering wheel. I saw youth and fear and the power of those four wheels.

I started to drift off to sleep with the hope of hearing that raging, racing sound in the earliest part of the day.

And every workday, every Monday through Friday for weeks, I awoke to the sound of those desperate tires, scrabbling for meaning on the lonely dark roads of our town.

Then the fall came. The wind blew in and the windows were closed.

I couldn’t hear him anymore.

I wondered about him, though. I worried that he was gone. I worried that he had settled into his mind numbing job at the plant. I wanted him to come back.

But the days went by, and the nights settled into warm blankets and quiet breathing.

I almost forgot that he was out there.

Then I drove out of town, over the backroads through our woods. And there they were. Black, angry, impossible to ignore. Black, black figure eights, on the winding road that links our town to it’s neighbors.

“Here I am!,” those tire marked screamed. “Here I go.”

And a few nights later, I found myself awake in the cold, frosty dawn. I rolled over. What was I hearing?

It was the sound of screaming tires, racing against no one, racing against everyone, flying through the icy dawn into the upcoming day.

I wonder who he is. I wonder why he is so angry. I wonder.

And as I fall asleep tonight, part of me will be listening for his early morning declaration of freedom.


Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Or maybe a better title for this post would be “Mental Anguish in the Time of Trump.”

I love politics. I have been following political news since before the days of Watergate. I’ve always found it fascinating to follow the actions and words of our national leaders. Even when I have vehemently disagreed with a President or Congress, I’ve enjoyed the arguments, the discussions, the matching of wits with those who disagree.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

Now, like so many other Americans, I am overwhelmed with what is happening to my country. I’m anxious, even afraid, for the first time in a very long time. But that’s not all.

I was talking all of this over with my husband, the other day. And I realized that what feels unbearable to me right now is the uncomfortable combination of rage and helplessness that hits me in the face every single day.


I am feeling true rage about our President and those fools in Congress. Tearing away every kind of protection that our government has put in place for us. Regulations designed to keep our air and water at least marginally safe? Gone under this administration. I’m old enough to remember when our rivers were on fire and our harbors were so toxic that falling meant an immediate trip to the Emergency Room.

I’m enraged that Donald Trump is sending us back there.

Angry doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about Trump’s one sided assault on our insurance system. Congress couldn’t find a way to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, so Trump is taking a machete to it. It doesn’t matter how many people will lose coverage. It doesn’t matter how many people die.

Trump wants it to happen, so he’s making it happen.

And the list goes on, of course. Impending nuclear war with North Korea threatens the whole world, but Trump just keeps on tweeting. The United States will ignore its allies, pull out of legal treaties, go to war with anyone who annoys the man in the Oval. The NRA will keep its stranglehold on our government and more and more innocent people will die.

And then there are the lies. One after the other, day after day after day. Trump lies, lies, lies and lies some more. EVERYONE knows it. The entire media knows about it, but when they call him out, he screams, “Fake! Fake!” and repeats whatever lie it was.

That’s what brings me to the feeling of helplessness.

I am used to contacting my Congressional Reps. I contact them by mail, by email, by phone, when I think that there is an issue that needs their attention.

But what am I supposed to do now? My Congress people agree with me! They know that Trump is dangerous, unhinged, dishonest, amoral. They’re as scared as I am.

Should I march in the streets, the way I did at the Women’s March in DC and the anti-Nazi march in Boston?

It feels good when we do it, that’s for sure.

But NOTHING seems to change.

When you are living in a country that has suddenly been turned on its head, what do you do? When you find yourself going through your daily life under a President who make up his own facts, threatens the press, mocks his colleagues, admires the worst among us and lies with a completely straight face….Well. What are you supposed to do to ease that sense of fear and rage?

I feel completely helpless.

We are dealing with a completely surreal situation here. Our President wakes up every morning and tells us things that are simply untrue. He’s contradicted by those who know the truth. He repeats his made up facts. And he repeats them again.

Up has become down. The sky is pink. Trump’s agenda is, according to him, “ahead of schedule.” No President in history has been as successful as he is. No President was smarter. Or a better negotiator.

Facts no longer matter. The truth has become as malleable as hot taffy.

What are we to do?

I no longer believe that I can do a single thing to make things better or safer for my family. Now my goal is to find a way to maintain my own mental health as I sit back and watch our leaders fail to cope with the fact that we have elected a madman and he is taking us on a path of destruction.

Rage and helplessness.

Not a good mix. Not a great way to move through middle age.

What do we do? How are you holding onto your fragile sanity in an age of total insanity?



Oh, But I’m Afraid.

I’m sixty one years old. I’m white. I am happily middle class. I speak English as my first language. I was raised as a Christian. I’m heterosexual.

I have every kind of privilege there is, other than being a man.

There is going to be a big right wing rally in Boston tomorrow. It says it’s about “free speech”, but the speakers are Nazis, white supremacists, racists.

There is going to be a big counter rally nearby, as well as a march to the spot where the alt-right is gathering.

What do I do?

I am so conflicted.

Here is a bit of my thinking.

Don’t go:

• I live an hour and half from Boston

• I’m a 61 year old Grandmother

• There are younger, more fit people who could go.

• It might be violent. I don’t want to get hurt.

• There are people who depend on me! My children, my grandchildren. They need me to be healthy and whole.

Do go:

• For my entire life, I’ve wondered why more German people didn’t stand up to the Nazis. I assured myself, time and time again, that if I had been there, I would have done something to stop them.

• I’m as safe as anyone can be. White haired, white skinned, pudgy; I make a ridiculous target for anyone who wants to look like a tough guy.

• My grandparents gave up everything they knew…home, language, family, livelihood….so that they could raise their family here in the United States. They came for inclusion, acceptance, safety, prosperity.

•My father and his brothers, first generation Americans, went to war to fight the Nazis. They fought in Germany and even in the homeland of Italy. THEY would certainly march here if they were still alive.

• I was a teacher. I made it my life’s work to support and encourage and nurture children. At no point did I EVER say “but not the black kids” or “not the Jewish kids” or “not the Muslims.” As a teacher, as a nurturer, it is my obligation to stop bullies. Adult bullies, armed to the teeth and ready to murder anyone who isn’t one of their sick group, those are the bullies that I have to Stop. Right. Now. However I can.

• There are people who depend on me. My children, my grandchildren. They need me to be a model of courage in the face of evil.

So I’ll be joining my brave husband, and two of our progressive, courageous friends tomorrow. We will go to Boston. We will do what we can to be really safe and secure.

But we WILL stand up for our Black/gay/Jewish/Muslim/Asian/Latino/trans/disabled/fill-in-the-blank neighbors and fellow citizens.

Honestly, we don’t actually have that much of a choice.