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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hello Fresh

This look at 2017 doesn't include farewell [at least for now] to Senator Al Franken; radio hosts Leonard Lopate, Garrison Keillor and John Hockenberry; "Today" show co-anchor Matt Lauer; TV host Charlie Rose; movie mogul Harvey Weinstein; and many other men charged with engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. Nor does it fold in a big hello to the eyes-wide-open new hope that women will not have to compromise their personal values, or trade on their sexuality, to succeed in business and life. My chart does not address the unsavory behavior of our tweeting man in the Oval Office, either. But I had to note all of that here in the intro--for my daughters, my friends, my sister, my colleagues, and me.

The January I turned 56 and the next 11 months that trailed slowly behind, as I in high heels trail Punch on the walk to the schoolbus stop. My mother died at 56. This felt momentous. I often compared myself to her: She also felt tired in the afternoons. Could she have walked miles? What nice friends she had, what joy they shared. How did she resist eating too many of the chocolate grahams she loved? That was fun, the way she made my friends and me laugh. In my mind, I saw her brown suede jacket, A-line skirts, sandals, Alexander's housedresses, little green leather keychain, mirrored perfume tray, gold link charm bracelet and letter holder [which I gave her one year, at her request]. I revisited the last words we exchanged and the afternoon when I came home from school and she wasn’t there. I was worried. She was out Christmas shopping. I contemplated the fear and doom she must have felt, leaving family and friends at such a young age. How lonely she must have felt, looking death in the eye.
A new CPAP machine for sleep apnea, acquired in December. It should extend my life, but I currently hate it. It makes me very anxious to put the “mask” over my nose—feels suffocating, and the straps are unkind to blowouts because they flatten hair. [I have model that covers nose, not face, thank the Lord.] On New Year’s Eve, I lay awake for 3 hours before I could finally fall asleep. I’m going to take a small dose of calming medicine every night until I get over the hump. I know this darn machine will be helpful in the long run. After two weeks, the dr. read the results and said it was already helping a lot.
My brother-in-law, Don; Sis’s husband of almost 22 years. He died the day after Easter Sunday and though he was almost 90, he left us all too quickly. He was in good health, had just gone into the hospital. He left me with the gift of knowledge about his passions: sailing and jazz. He left Sis sad. Don was a big presence and there is a hole in the family. He adored my sister and always said so. He was there for me in tough times, opening their peaceful home to me. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club, and I got to dine there. Lucky me.
My friend and nutritionist, the positive, petite and pretty Rachael. I’m signing on to eat more healthfully, cut back sugar, drink more water, walk or do other exercise more this year. We had been friendly for 8 years through our older daughters but when we met for avocado toast and lattes at The Corner in November, I found a strong and gracious helper. Another friend is signing up, too.
Jobs I applied for and did not get, very few wholeheartedly and many on LinkedIn. I learned from the quests and also learned, quite painfully, not to put hot coffee too close to my laptop keyboard. I was at Starbucks one Sunday night until closing to complete a writing test and surely needed the caffeine, not the jittery behavior that caused me to spill the brew. My laptop could not be saved. Fortunately, I had Dan's laptop to use, and copies of my files in email. 
Jobs in my future that I will apply for but don’t even know about yet—and the pretty, light, glam, fast ROSEGOLD MacBook laptop purchased in November, to replace that old relic mentioned at left. Among other things, the “Pages” function allows me to make fun charts like this one.
Figgy’s darkness and illness, which took hold in high school. Gradually, more and more sun has filtered in and her mood lifted noticeably in 2017. May the road continue to rise with her. 
Fig’s passion for and good work studying biology at Montclair State! For her biology final this year, she dug up and wore a locket from my father’s possessions—a good luck talisman for the girl he called “Apple Annie.”
The soft and beautiful aqua cashmere V-neck sweater bought on sale in Florida in winter 2014 on a short trip there with Sis and Don. I dragged her to a Lilly Pulitzer store. It became a war garment. I got really sick in the car once and the dry cleaner couldn’t help much. Then I burned a hole in the sleeve with a Christmas taper last year. It was finally done in with three moth holes. None of this made it any easier to part with it, but I did.
STITCH, a new fashion boutique on Valley Road in Montclair that puts us all at the pulse of style trends. Careful edit by owner Caitlin.
Bent, clogged gutters on our Dutch Colonial. Other pressing bills always came first—heating oil, electric, etc. We skipped a couple/few years of gutter cleaning! Right before Christmas, I called. It was only $85 and the men were miracle workers. They even fixed the bent part, which I think was bent because birds were nesting there. 
New housing market for birds, I guess.
Our 2005 gray Honda CR-V, with over 270,000 miles. It finally would not start and cost too much to fix. It delivered us to Maine, Cape Cod, Boston, D.C., Vermont, Connecticut, NYC, New Hampshire, Rhode Island. Figgy was 10 when we bought it new. 
A revamped red bike that Dan took to the shop—and a new bike helmet from Target.
The 2005 navy blue GMC Yukon we bought from our mechanic to replace the Honda. It was in great shape, had 150,000 miles, and I loved it. But within a month or two, Dan totaled it on the Garden State Parkway one evening rush hour before Christmas when he looked down and crashed into the car in front of him. Thank God no one was hurt. Accidents will happen, I know.
The set of wheels that will carry us into the future. I don’t know yet what you are or where you will come from, but I hope you are strong and steady and not a money pit. I hope you carry Punch safely to school and sports, our family safely wherever we go. 
Farewell, unfortunate court appearances that I cannot get into here. I still cringe when I recall running into the wiry, caged bear of a D.A. at Whole Foods; the kind attorney who turned up in our church choir; and another nice person, repeatedly at CVS and Kings. To quote our smart friend Michael [an attorney], This is a small town.
More empathy.
A long series of weekly family communication classes in which I met a remarkable group of women—tough, true, loving—who taught me a lot about life and myself.
The lessons learned in those classes. I hope to keep them close to my heart.


  1. this is lovely and honest, Alice. I enjoyed it.

  2. I also loved this post, especially the bright side of the chart. Happy new year, Alice. Love, Lin

  3. Hi and thank you, Kim and Lin. Happy New Year to us, one and all. Love, Alice

  4. You are very special ... not everyone can say they live such a rich, if complicated, life. Here's to lots of good things in 2018!

    1. Well put, Eileen, very well put. ;) A rich, if complicated, life. Softens the blows; I like that. Sending all good wishes to you and your lovely family for 2018. Love, Alice