The Best Kitten Wrangler Ever

Gimi in 2017
In 2004 we were living in San Francisco, and I was volunteering at the SF SPCA, when I came across a little black kitten named Gimli. One of a litter of kittens names after LoTR characters, Gimi (as we called him) was the least healthy of his siblings and spent a lot of his first few months in the bowels of the SPCA trying to kick his persistent upper respiratory infections.

Eventually, he came out into the kitten rooms, but as with so many black cats, he was regularly overlooked by potential adopters, despite his friendliness and a purr that just wouldn’t stop. I was enthralled by his cute little feet that looked like they’d been dipped in white paint, his soulful eyes, and that nonstop purr. As I came home from my volunteering sessions talking about him more and more, Scott finally said “why don’t we just adopt him?” and Gimi came to live with us when he was just shy of six months old. He thrived in our home and grew into a big, goofy, loving cat. And the purring didn’t stop.

The next year, we started fostering kittens in our home and made a wonderful discovery. Gimi absolutely loved kittens. He would hang out with them, clean them, play with them, and generally mother them in a way I would never have expected. He was never territorial with them, just patient and accepting. Over the year, dozens of kittens have gone on to their forever homes better socialized and more ready for their future lives thanks to him.

Gimi was a social, friendly kitty to humans as well, always coming into the living room with his tail held high to say hello to workmen and guests alike. Even my father, a lifelong dog person, decided Gimi was OK.

Gimi’s health had always been excellent, but sadly we had to say goodbye to him today at age 13, thanks to an aggressive and fast-moving cancer.

He was deeply loved, and will be deeply missed.

Knitting Milestone

SFGiants Fan Hat I first picked up a pair of knitting needles in February 2015. I wanted to surprise Mom with a hand-knitted chemo cap and didn’t think much beyond that.

Much to my surprise, I got hooked on knitting and haven’t really stopped since then. I’ve knitted on airplanes and in hotel rooms. I’ve made more hats than I can easily count, a baby blanket, scarves, shawls, sweaters, and even a tea cozy that looks like an owl.

Today was a bit of a milestone, though: I published my first original pattern on Ravelry (which for non-knitters, is one of the premiere knitting sites & communities on the Internet).

It’s designed for fans of the SF Giants, so I don’t expect it to get a huge number of takers, but I’m still pretty proud of myself.

Here’s the link, if you’re curious.

Branding The Resistance

Or, why I am not wearing red on “A Day Without Women”

One of the few bright spots in the political climate of 2017 has been the resurgence of female activism. Across the country, women who are dismayed (to say the least) about the reality of Donald Trump as POTUS are organizing, running for office, calling their representatives, and creating amazing communities.

The Women’s March in January was a pivotal moment. Millions of women across the USA and around the world stepped up to advocate for women’s right and a host of other related policies. And the iconic symbol of that march was a pink hat.

Women's March (VOA) 03

Bulding on that momentum, the organizers of the march are now promoting “A Day Without A Woman” on March 8th. Great! Keeping the momentum going in an activism community is important, and I’m all for it.

So why did the organizers make a basic marketing mistake? I get that not everyone in the community is thrilled with pink due to the gendered meaning attached to the color. But one thing I have learned in my marketing career is that if something works, go with it. If a completely grassroots effort like the Pussyhat Project generated that much success, don’t throw that advantage away. Own it.

On March 8th I’ll be wearing my pussyhat proudly. I hope I won’t be the only one.

The World Turned Upside Down

US flag at sunsetAs the events of Election Night unrolled, like many other Americans I found myself in shock and disbelief. How could so many of my fellow citizens willingly vote for a future that is so harsh, unforgiving, and antithetical to the things I hold dear?

America has always seemed to me like a safe haven, a place where people of all kinds could live, be accepted, and thrive. America has been very good to my family since we came here, and I have always believed that those things would continue. Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe we’re the fools for thinking things could be better.

A part of me wants to say “screw this, I’m out.” Hunker down and the hell with everyone else. Let someone else carry the burden. But that is not the right answer.

In a time like this, the only thing that makes sense to me is to remember what allowed the Jewish people to survive when the entire world was against us: Staying together and staying true to what matters to us.

We kept the faith. We had each other’s backs and we took care of each other when no-one else would.

That’s what we have to do now. We can’t change what has happened, but we can help each other to endure it.

It’s the only thing that makes sense to me right now.

Election Day 2016. AM Edition.

election-day-2016I voted this morning. I didn’t have to endure the hours-long lines some voters faced this season, lucky me. Five minutes total and I was in and out.

Like many of the women I know, I gave some thought to what I’d wear in the voting booth today. I worse as close to all-white as I own, to honor the suffragists. The blouse was my mother’s. I also wore jewelry that belonged to my mother, grandmother, and great-aunt. I wish so much they could have voted today too, but I took them with me into the booth.

I didn’t cry. I walked in with a big smile on my face and smiled as I completed my ballot. I only teared up a little as I walked back home, thinking of Mom. She would have voted for Hillary too, of that I am sure.

Now America waits to see if that highest glass ceiling will shatter tonight.

9/11: Fifteen Years Later

New York City 2016

When something awful happens to you, it can warp your sense of time. It’s as if the intensity of your pain will never end. And although nothing is completely the same again, sooner or later, the pain releases its grip on you, and slowly time begins to move in a more normal manner.

And here we are, fifteen long years after 9/11.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I obsessively saved images of the event to a folder on my hard drive. I never look at them, though. I still actively avoid 9/11 retrospectives and images. I don’t need to see them now, hear the stories of grief and pain retold. The stabbing pain of the horror and sorrow and shock has been worn smooth over time. Newer griefs have joined 9/11 in the pantheon of my very worst days. Still, if I want to, I can summon that pain.

Usually, I don’t. It’s too easy, and it hurts too much.

For those of us for whom New York City was not a series of iconic images on their TV screen or an occasional travel destination, but rather their home, 9/11 is an intensely personal pain. Those hijackers tore a gaping hole out of my life. My memories of the World Trade Center span not just special events like the dinner with my family at Windows on the World the night of my 18th birthday, or drinks with my friend Diana and the rest of her wedding party on her bachelorette weekend in NY, but also hundreds of morning and evening commutes, lunches, trips to the FedEx drop-off in the lobby on 1 WTC, visits to friends in their Twin Tower offices. Not to mention that for 10 years, the towers were the first thing I’d see coming out the front door of my old Soho apartment. And even though the new Freedom Tower is finally complete, a part of me still yearns for that old skyline.

Terrorists cannot steal my memories, but they destroyed the tangible reminder of those memories. It’s a small loss compared to so much else that was destroyed that day, but it’s real nonetheless.

Cities around the globe share New York’s pain now; the shock and sorrow of their own terrorist attacks in the ensuing years engraved in their own hearts. Time and again, we have seen the best and the worst of human nature. I keep hoping that someday the cycle of violence will break, but it hasn’t yet.

And as always, I let no 9/11 pass without remembering my friend Kath.

She was 40 and only three weeks into a new job when she went to work that brilliant September morning. And she never came home. AA Flight 11 slammed right into her office on the 97th floor of One World Trade. We’ll never know for sure, but I’m told her desk was on the opposite side of the building from the impact point and it’s possible that she never knew what hit her. I pray that that is the truth, because the idea that she might have been standing there at a window, watching the plane heading right for her, is still too painful a thought to bear.

For the first year or so after 9/11, not a day went by that I didn’t think of Kath. With time, of course, that has faded. When I think of her these days, I feel that I’m living for both of us. Or perhaps a better way of saying it is that I feel a responsibility to use this time that I have, which she did not get, in a way that honors her.

We never know what day will be our last. We never know what goodbye will be the final one. And yet, all too often, we waste our precious time. We waste our days at jobs that drain us, we don’t stay in touch with the people who matter to us, we think, ‘There’s always tomorrow’. But sometimes, there isn’t.

Sometimes, there’s only a sunny morning, and an airplane flying low over New York City, and the ending of all our dreams.