Achieving Vintage Status

Boy, do I have great news!

I am NOT old!

I’m vintage!

What a relief.

I discovered this fabulous fact yesterday, when I took two young German friends into Boston for a day of sightseeing. We took a lovely boat tour of the Charles River, where the sweet young tour guide recounted Boston’s history through the eyes of someone two decades old.

She hadn’t heard of the famous song “Dirty Water,” the old Boston anthem. She didn’t know anything about the Blizzard of ’78.

I felt about 100 years old. My wrinkles were suddenly more wrinkly. My hair was whiter, my shoulders more stooped. My life wasn’t even history. It was pre-history.

Just call me Dino the dinosaur.

Then the young ‘uns and I headed into Harvard Square. I bit my tongue, hard, to stop myself from saying things like, “Back in the day, this place was really cool.”

We wandered through Harvard Yard (“I remember the time……”) and into the Coop (“We used to come here to…..”). We passed the local Starbucks (“This used to be our favorite bar.”) and the old gourmet grocery (“Our Russian tea was over here….”)

I was still Dino. With every step, I felt my teeth getting looser and my joints getting stiffer. I glanced at a store window on one point and was surprised that the reflection looking back at me wasn’t Granny Clampett.

Then it happened.

The kids told me they wanted to go into “Urban Outfitters,” a trendy store I’d heard of but never before entered. We crossed the street and went inside.

And I saw this:


An entire wall full of albums. Albums!!!!

Of course, they weren’t labeled as “albums.” Instead, the sign said, “Vintage Vinyl.”

I burst out laughing, my old lady wheezy voice filled with amazement. Albums are back! ALBUMS! Remember when we were told that CD’s were going to make albums completely obsolete? Well, I do! Now they’re back. They’re hip, they’re cool, they’re freakin’ vintage and they sell for 28 bucks a pop.

Right beside the Vintage Vinyl was a display of….wait for it……

Record Players.

Like, pink and pale blue record players.In big clunky cases. Exactly, precisely, completely the same as the ones we used at our slumber parties in 1966.

record player

The mystery lyrics of “Louie, Louie” suddenly filled my head, and stood up a bit straighter.

The kids headed off to shop for clothes, wall hangings and rugs while I wandered around the place. I was the only one in view with a head of white hair, but suddenly I was feeling just a bit more spry.

I made my way past coffee cups shaped like butt cheeks, planters shaped like bald heads, a random collection of little clay baseball caps and Hello Kitty phone cases.

And I came across a table loaded with Polaroid cameras. Like the one my Dad used to pull out at our elementary school birthday parties.

I am not kidding. Polaroid cameras.


And it comes with actual FILM. You have to buy FILM.

There were lots of people buying them, too.

‘Cuz they’re, you know, “vintage.”

I was feeling better and better. When the stylish young folks glanced my way now, I wasn’t worried that I looked like a brontosaurus. Oh, no. Now I stood up straight, highlighting my hopelessly out of date white jeans and smoothing the waves in my silver hair.

“Sheesh,” I thought to myself. “Everyone in here is so modern. Poor things. How unhip can you get.”

I smiled graciously as the youngsters moved around me to stand in line for their vintage goods.

On the way out the door, I passed a display of macrame plant hangers.


Exactly like the ones we had in college, in our dorms and on the porches of our first apartments. Can’t you just see the cigarette butts and the chipped coffee cups on the three legged coffee table standing under it?


Like me.



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.



A Time To March

I’m horrified, shocked, furious about the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this weekend. White Nationalists, whatever the hell that means, marched supposedly to protect the statue of a man who committed treason 150 years ago and then lost a war.

How to pick a winner, right?

They wore Nazi insignia. They gave the Nazi salute. They chanted about the Jews “replacing” them.

Their true goal, obviously, was not to stand up for old dead Robert E. Lee. It was to provoke a fight with all those awful people who they believe are trying to take away their white male role as masters of the continent.

They succeeded. There was fighting. There was death.

They got their headlines.

Now these radical deplorables are planning to march on Boston. The capital of the state where I live. They want to chant their pathetic racist drivel on the streets where Sam Adams rallied patriots to action in the 1770’s.

So what should I do?

I don’t want to drive my 61 year old self into the city. I don’t want to march on a nice late summer day. I don’t want to risk being hit, or shot, or run over. I don’t want to give these pitiful bullies so much of my attention.


My first job as an adult was interpreting from Russian to English and back again for Jewish immigrants who were arriving here from the Soviet Union. I helped them find housing, took them to the doctor, took them shopping.

I heard their stories.

I saw the numbers tattooed on their arms. I touched those tattoos.

How can I NOT march to stand up for the old Russian woman who told me how she had run away from the invading Nazi’s? She was 7 months pregnant, and had a two year old in her arms. The Nazi’s came to her village and she ran into the woods. The soldiers shot, and she was hit in the face. Still she ran. She got as deep into the forest as she could go before she collapsed.

When I knew this woman, her face was creased with an ugly red scar. Her speech was slurred by the path the bullet had taken across the roof of her mouth.

How do I not march for her?

And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t march against the rise of fascism, knowing the stories from the siege of Leningrad, when the Nazis blockaded the city? I remember a Russian Jewish woman with wide blue eyes. She could no longer see when I took her to the doctor in Boston, but those eyes were filled with sorrow when she told me the story of her father walking the streets in search of food and coming home with part of a dead dog to feed his children.

She talked about her mother cooking their shoes to get some protein out of the leather.

My father fought the Nazis. He was only 18 when he enlisted in the army. He was at the Nuremburg Trials.

I lived through the civil rights era right here in the US, too. I remember seeing the marches, the violence, the struggles. I remember the day that Martin Luther King was murdered.

Are we really going to let the clock go back, Americans? Are we going to embrace the slave owning and race baiting past of the country?

Are we going to sit back and let the Nazis come in here and take our country? Are we going to allow our President to get away with condoning their violence?

Personally, I think I’ll have to go and walk the streets of Boston and stay as safe as I can while making my voice heard.



603733_10200837417355233_1874374034_nI have spent the last 15 hours in a panic of anxiety and fear.  The second bombing suspect, the “white hat” was hiding in my daughter’s neighborhood.  She was kept awake all night with the explosions, the shooting, the sirens and police lights and helicopters and humvees.  I was petrified, thinking of all of that violence right at her doorstep.

We have been glued to our TV’s, our radios, our computers, all day long. Monitoring the updates, the searches, the breaking news, the latest developments.  Kate has been in constant touch with us by text and by Facebook. “We are safe!”, she told us, “We are staying upstairs in the bedroom. Too many windows in the downstairs rooms.” We paced, and waited, and sweated and glibly reassured ourselves. “There are a million cops on the street. What could happen?”  Then we hugged, wiped our eyes, and continued to stare at the repeating news updates.

I love my daughter more than I love my own life.  She is my first born child, my heart, my soul. I am her mother.  I would walk on hot coals to keep her safe.  All morning long, my racing mind focused on trying to find ways to get to her, or to get her to me.  I couldn’t stand the feeling of helplessness that came over me, knowing that she was in danger, and that I could not save her.  My sense of unreality increased as I watched the coverage of her neighborhood on CNN, The London Times, Le Monde Paris. Fear had me breathless and weak at the knees.

But a second emotion crept over me today, too, and I am at a loss to explain it.

I am so profoundly, deeply saddened by the idea of two brothers being brought to such a level of despair that they believed it was the right thing to do to kill innocent people for some unspoken reason.

I found myself looking at the pictures of those young men, especially the younger, “sweeter” brother, and I felt my heart breaking for them.

Believe me, I understand that these two men have committed unspeakable crimes. I can see the faces of the victims, those who have died, those who have been so horrifically hurt. I feel the rage of the survivors. I am hurt and angered for those innocent lives. I am. A part of me, not the best part of me, wants vengeance for that little boy, for those bright and happy young women, for their families, for my city, my state, my own family.

It would be so easy to become just as violent as the men who did these terrible things.

But for some reason, the faces of the suspects have reached out and have touched my heart in a very unexpected way.  They were brothers, linked by family, history, mutual love and admiration.

They make me think of my sons.

In spite of myself, today my heart was heavy for the terrified, cornered, desperate teen aged boy who was being hunted by all the firepower of the government in our city, our state, our region.   I found myself in tears, over and over again, as I thought of him watching his brother die and running for his own life.   I found myself weeping as I thought of his parents, shocked and terrified at the unfolding events.

I spent today scared to death for my child. I wanted her safe and free and unafraid.  But I also spent today praying that the police would capture the second suspect alive, and would bring him to justice.   Not so much because I want to hear his explanations, although that would be some comfort to us all.  No, I wanted him to be brought in alive because no matter what he has done, he is somebody’s son.  He is some mother’s little boy.

I could not stand the thought of him dying alone and in terror and guilt and grief.  I imagined him remembering happier days, maybe days of laughing with his siblings at his mother’s table.  I imagined him asking himself, “What happened?”

The better part of me, perhaps, the more human, more humane part of me rose to the surface today.  Perhaps it was the mother in me, thinking of my own boys, so close in age to these two, which brought me to tears. Truly, I am not sure.

I am so inexpressibly happy that this killer is in custody, where he can do no more damage.  I am so relieved and exhausted.  He is caught; my girl is safe. We can all rest at last.

But I am relieved, too, that he is still alive. I am happy that he didn’t bleed to death all alone, desperate and in fear.

He will face what he has done, and he will pay for it.  But not alone, and in the dark.

In spite of it all, he is still a human being.  And to my relief, it seems that so am I.

So sad. So scared.

I don’t know why I am writing this right now, except that I feel a desperate need to connect to other human being right at this moment.

I am glued to the TV, as I have been since the bombs went off on Monday afternoon.

I woke up to the news that my daughter, my first born, my baby child, is on lock down at her apartment in Watertown, Mass.  She heard the shots and the grenades last night. While I slept, she and her boyfriend were lying awake, listening to the sounds of sirens.

This is closer than I ever, ever want one of my dear ones to be to danger.

I am swirling with emotions. I will try to write some down quickly. Please excuse my lack of coherence.

I am so incredibly angry that any human being would think that they have the right to murder another.  I am enraged at the thought of those people who are dead and wounded. I close my eyes and I see the sweet, sweet face of little Martin.  Butchered.  Why?!

I am so afraid!  My child, my good, kind, loving girl is in danger right this minute.  Her street is full of police.  She can’t open her door, or leave her house, or walk her dog.  She’s done nothing wrong! She is a teacher, a writer, a political activist.  I close my eyes and I see her face as a baby, as a toddler.  I see her eyes, sparkling with humor. I see my arms closing around her and holding her to my heart.

I am so very, very sad.  What is wrong with the world, with our species? Those two boys, growing up in a country torn by war, seemed to be “nice, normal boys”.  That’s what their friends and neighbors and family are saying.  How did evil take root inside of them?  I am so incredibly sad when I look at the picture of the 19 year old boy, still a child himself, hiding somewhere and being hunted down by hundreds, thousands of angry, armed men.  I close my eyes and I see an image of him as a little boy, brought to safety by his parents.  I see him wide eyed and smiling, adjusting to life in a new land.  I’m so sad thinking of two more lost lives.

I don’t understand humans at all.  I’m not sure what I think about God, but it is days like this that make me wonder, if he really is up there watching, why doesn’t he drop by and give us a hand?

I want to hold her like this again.

I want to hold her like this again.