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Sunday, April 21, 2013

The First Sunday after the Bombing

For the first time this week, I woke up without images of the victims in my head. I woke up worried about getting ready for my 2 year-old nephew’s birthday party, instead of worrying about the parents of the 8 year-old boy who’d been killed. I began to run the events of the coming day in my head, rather than reliving the awful events of the past week. It was the first time in a week I felt safe leaving the house.

That was Saturday. The day after a citywide manhunt left most of the city immobilized—more blood, more casualties, more fear. And then, it was over. We hoped.

On Sunday, it seemed a time to reflect. Quaker Meeting has been a place of solace for me since my early teens. So I returned once again. Not a devout member, but an occasional attender; I went when I needed to.

I sat still and quiet, the way we always do to begin a Friends Meeting for Worship. The impossible question of Why continued to resound in my head. I came not expecting to find an answer, but to find solace among the others who sought one.

I remembered a photo I had seen of a young man, a runner, a double amputee, with head and hands wrapped in bandages, legs ending above the knee and disappearing into more white bandages. I imagined this young man learning the perpetrator responsible for those injuries was in the same hospital wing. I imagined him asking to visit. Can you imagine that?

I picture the runner in a wheelchair, rolling up to the bedside of the 19-year old terrorist and saying “Look what you did.”

I then tried to imagine the scene unfolding like this: The legless runner approaches the terrorist and from his wheelchair he says, “I forgive you.” I tried to imagine it. But I couldn’t.

Yet that was the message I kept hearing this morning: Mercy. A message I was not quite ready to receive. Person after person sprung up and shared their message (this is how we worship in Quaker Meeting). Many beckoned for our community to respond to hate with love, to war with peace. And I found this too, hard.

One woman said she spent the week thinking of the victims and it wasn’t until the end of the week that she began to think of the young man. She said she felt this man needed our prayers because he had gotten so disconnected to humankind that he was able to do this.

Excuse me? Pray for him? The victims need our prayers. The friends and families of those left behind and hurt need our prayers. The Richards Family, who lost an 8 year-old boy, had their 7 year-old daughter loose a leg, while the mother is still in the hospital suffering brain injuries—they need our prayers. I think of the smirk on the face of the man in the picture with the white hat and I’m not ready to think of forgiveness.

Shouldn’t justice come first? Shouldn’t punishment and repentance come first? Has he even asked for forgiveness?

I keep thinking about how long this must have been in the planning. He had so many chances to change his mind. Did he reconsider? Did he doubt? Did he have even a moment of humanity where he wondered what they were doing? Did his conscience nag at all, over harming innocent bystanders this way? Women. Children. And so savagely. Did he avoid eye contact as he casually strolled through the crowds cheering the Boston Marathon, and placed two pressure cooker bombs at their feet?

That’s what I was thinking about when someone stood up in the balcony and read the Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.

I know we won’t find solace in hatred, anger and retribution. I know we need to answer love with hate or continue a vicious cycle in perpetuity. I know that this is the path forward but I can't imagine walking it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What would Thomas Edison say?

I bet if Thomas Edison knew that everyone thought sliced bread was the best invention ever, he’d be like: “This is bullshit!” Try slicing bread in the dark, assholes!

Mr. Lee

Charming, one bedroom apt in Somerville. Quiet, friendly neighbors, rent negotiable. Call Mandy ASAP. 617-628-6896.

Well, it’s true. The apartment is charming. It’s Mr. Lee that’s insufferable. Mr. Lee is my downstairs neighbor. He’s weird. Not in any clinical, diagnosable way, just your general weird.

He’s about 5’2”, plump, bald, Korean. In his 60’s. Oddly, he likes to ride motorcycles.

The other morning, he started up his “hog” at 8:15 am. It was Sunday. I love Sunday mornings, reading the paper, lazily drinking coffee, not showering. I don’t love being awakened by the sound of the little Lee man revving up his Harley Davidson Road King for a nice long ride.

I won’t want to, but for days after, I will picture Mr. Lee’s chubby, little body poured into a skin-tight leather jumpsuit, head thrown back in ecstasy, his three strands of hair blowing in the wind.

Often I hear him in the apartment below me late at night, moving furniture around. Why? Who the hell knows? It sounds like he pushes dressers and barcaloungers across the room to see where they look best, and then pushes everything back to its original position, for no reason whatsoever. Maybe working on his pecs.

Incessantly, he’s out in the yard with a leaf blower, ferreting out errant leaves from his garden. I’ve even heard him out there in late May, blowing petals off flowers.

I discovered Mr. Lee had a drinking problem one summer night when I meandered up the walkway and heard a bottle roll off the porch and smash on the ground. As I got to the top of the steps, I saw Mr. Lee, sunbathing by moonlight. He lay sprawled out on a lawn chair, wearing only a pair of shorts, making no effort to explain himself or – for God’s sake – cover up.

Plus, he was singing. Slurry, sloppy lyrics, but I could make them out. “You got to know when to hor‘em, know when to fo'rem …” The Gambler. Oh no. You killed Kenny.

Clearly, you got to know when to run.

As I hurried into the house, I knew things from then on would be different between us. He’d be embarrassed that I’d seen him drunk, half-dressed, and way off-key. I’d be embarrassed that the image of his round, hairless torso had been involuntarily hard-wired into my cerebral cortex. I glimpsed a great deal of dry heaving in my future.

That night I had a nightmare. A complete music video. Mr. Lee, topless, slow-dancing in our front yard with his leaf blower, singing the Gambler. Then he jumps on his Harley and tears off down our street. But first, he winks at me. Ew.

So, yes. I admit it. I padded the classified ad a little. This is an emergency.

My fart woke up my baby

The other night I farted and my baby started crying. Do you hear what I’m saying? I startled and frightened my own child with my powerful gas. It triggered his fight or flight response. And I can just picture my baby trying to fight my fart. That would be hilarious. Someone please put that shit on YouTube.

And I don’t know if it was the sound or the smell that scared him the most. It was not super loud or strange or high pitched. Just a good ol’ fashioned American fart. Your classic rip. Plus, I don’t know if you have heard this about babies, but they are kind of light sleepers. SO waking them up, even with a good excuse, is a huge pain in the ass. Let’s all just keep quiet about this when he’s old enough to read this.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Become my fan on Facebook

Is that lame to ask for fans? Well I'm not gonna beat around the bush. As Anthony Michael Hall said in Breakfast Club, "My mom always said if you want something, you gotta ask for it." (RIP John Hughes!)

Check out this cool FB widget and become a fan. It's a good way to hear about my upcoming shows and happenings and read my terribly witty updates - I guarantee it's 10 times funnier than Sarah Palin's facebook page.

Mandy Donovan on Facebook

Friday, June 05, 2009

It's all downhill from here. In a good way.

Ever since I was 22, I’ve been feeling like it’s all-downhill. That sounds illogical, I know. At 22, there's more in front of you than there is behind. But logic and being 22 mix like oil and water that thinks it knows everything.

I just couldn't help it. It was like life had hit a high note and the soprano had left the building.

It was a little while later that I realized the ages of 22 through 26 were going to be definitively, empirically, without a doubt, the best years of my life. I lived in Manhattan. I worked on Madison Avenue. I made enough money to go out to trendy bars and buy my share of rounds for friends whose names I can’t remember now. I bumped into celebrities in Starbucks. They filmed movies on my block. Anything was possible.

At 25, I went to grad school. I borrowed magic money I could never conceive of paying back and my job was only to learn, to share ideas, and to write them down. I ate French fries with gravy and drank chocolate milk shakes at diners at 2 am without worrying about the calories. I hadn’t quite yet figured out that smoking was bad, and drinking didn’t lead to the all-day hangovers I experience today (after three, okay two, measly beers.) I sat in coffeeshops, wrote deep thoughts in notebooks and tried to appear mysterious. And succeeded. I met friends I still have today and lovers I still tell stories about. I had summers off.

Then I turned 27 and moved to New England, where the weather and the people are sometimes colder than seems necessary. I got a real job, a 401(k) and a student loan repayment plan. And as predicated, it’s been all-downhill since.

But then again...I got married last year. In Italy. On a terrace over looking the Mediterranean Ocean. To a guy who everyone falls in love with about 3 minutes and 12 seconds after meeting him. Or maybe it's 3 minutes and 30 seconds. But less than 5, I’m sure. We got married on a Thursday at 4:30pm. (That is absolutely the coolest thing you can possibly do on a Thursday at 4:30pm.) It was just the two of us and two dear friends and a gorgeous May afternoon.

The day before the wedding, we arrived in Positano, which is beautiful even under buckets of rain – a different kind of wild, restless beauty. We climbed down the steps through the tiny ancient village, even the dirt we picked up on our shoes was romantic. We checked into our extravagant hotel room, snuggled against the lashing rain, then went down to the hotel restaurant, ate fresh fish and drank wine made right there on the Amalfi Coast - on a hill we could see out our window. Then we stopped by the church, the one with the famous golden dome that lets you know you’re in Positano. My husband-to-be thought I was crazy, because I’m not Catholic and hate the concept of sin, but I got down on my knees and prayed for the sun to shine on our wedding day. I think I may have even crossed myself (which I think is a sin if you’re not Catholic.) When we woke up in the morning, I felt the sun shining on my eyes before I opened them. And it was as if I never doubted it would.

So 33 then? 33 and all-downhill after that? Maybe this will be the one that sticks. It’s a double digit. A nice-looking number. It’s a third of my life (if all the rumors about red wine and antioxidants making us live to be 99 are true.)

These days, I’m staring 35 in the face and thinking yep. 33. That was it. Doesn’t get any better than that. Of course, just yesterday I was sitting on the sofa next to the instantly loveable husband, who put his arm around me as I pet my dog whose fur is as soft and delicate as a dandelion you can blow on. That was pretty good, too. If that’s on the downhill, maybe it’s not going to be such a bad ride.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Change We Seek

There was cheering, actual cheering in the streets at 11:01pm EST when the words “President Elect Obama” appeared on screens in homes across America. In Boston, it looked like the Red Sox had won another World Series. How proud I felt that finally my sport (politics) received the same kind of lavish celebration. A tear touched my check when I heard a car had been overturned in Brooklyn.

We deserve to be celebrating, feeling proud to be Americans, overjoyed that we have gone from enslaving African Americans to electing one our President in just 150 years.

Last night was powerful. And Barack Obama is a transformational figure for sure. But most powerful of all is the realization that it was not Barack Obama creating this change. It was us.

I was skeptical when Hillary and Barack both latched on to the word “Change” as a campaign theme. Those six letters fit nicely on a lawn sign, but “change” is not really an ideology to get behind…change into what? It’s the political equivalent of my favorite bumper sticker: “Anyone but this guy.”

But as the debates, speeches, interviews and SNL sketches made clear, things in America have gone so wrong that it’s funny. Without knowing how long or how far we’d been falling, we landed here. Here, the place and time where simply pointing out the need to do something (anything!) but what we have been doing for the last 8 years takes a certain amount of courage. Asking for change becomes a bold statement.

After the Primaries, I realized the c word (the nice one) wasn’t going away. John McCain jumped on the Change-wagon as well. “Yeah. Change. What they said.” He realized a while back that he better get on board, and that it was probably already too late. You could tell when he gave his concession speech that he’d been practicing it—a lot. Probably for about 7 months.
When I think of McCain’s campaign and the state of the country over the last 8 years, I think of another charming aphorism: “When you realize you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Maybe we needed someone as articulate as Barack Obama to very eloquently tell us, “Hey Jackasses! Stop digging.”

Actually he phrased it more like this…“We are the change we seek in the world.” He’s one smart man. He seemed to get it long before the rest of us did. And that’s possibly the greatest gift Obama gave us…the courage to change the things we can.
The last 20 months weren’t easy, but we survived it. The grunting frat boy chants of “USA.” The crazy white haired lady who picked 400 random Floridians out of the phone book and sent them letters telling them that Obama is an A-rab. (Classy.) And empassioned statements that don’t actually mean anything (like Joe the Plumber’s outrage at his tax hike when we later discover he’s neither a plumber, nor will he receive a tax hike).

No one knows what the right answer is, but finally more than 50% of the country realized that this ain’t it. It’s like we all took one of those V8 juice smacks in the head….Ohhhh. We coulda’ had change. And now, we will.
As we continue to heal from the paralysis of fear after 9/11, we are finally, joyfully, taking our first wobbly steps toward the America we all just realized was still there.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Men are Dogs.

Looking at him, laying there asleep on the couch in front of the TV, snoring, I am reminded that my dog is indeed—a man. Another species, yes, but I believe gender roles transcend species. Sometimes he looks at me, and I swear he is thinking that I talk too much. The moment I come home, I can see the question in his eyes, the question no man of the 21st century dare speak…”Where’s my dinner?” While Rusty was chasing cats, inhaling rawhide bones, and peeing on everything in sight, the sexual revolution came and went. Every day I take him out for walks. Has he once offered to take me anywhere? Nope. I buy him expensive toys. Have I ever returned home to find him clutching a dozen roses in his teeth. Of course not. I look in his eyes and see how he views me. I’m a cook, a maid, a personal assistant. Certainly not an equal partner in this life we share. No wonder man is a dog’s best friend. I am coming to realize they have everything in common.