Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Time

I'm following my girlfriend Mindy's suggestion and writing about Spring.

"It's a time of renewal," she recently texted me. 

"Spring brings hope...The flowers...The sunshine...Planting seeds literally and figuratively...having the patience for them to sprout and grow, as opposed to our instant gratification tendencies."

This probably explains why I don't plant flowers.

Simply enchanting, however, her words were, and too uplifting not to share.

She went on to tell me one of her favorite memories:  that of shopping with her mom for a new spring coat and new white dress, when she was a very young girl.

This made me think long and hard about my own memories of Spring.

I came up with a recurring theme, albeit rather different from hers:   

Primary Election Day.

This "Day" always represented months and months of a very unique lifestyle as I grew up, with immeasurable effort leading up to the culmination, at which time the votes were cast.  Primaries in May narrow the field of candidates within political parties before Election Day, in November.

My family has always lived and breathed the electoral process.  For as long as I can remember, our home was the hub of campaign activity, where strategizing was the name of the game and where my mom essentially planned every step:  canvassing neighborhoods; speaking engagements; community events;  rallies; debates; the writing of brochures and letters to the editor; and whatever else she could conjure up.   

The goal was to reach every registered voter in as many ways as possible. If someone wasn't registered, the plan was to get them registered in time to vote.  Keep in mind that these were the days before Facebook, Twitter and mass email communications.

This year, Primary Day is on May 19, and as you probably know by now, my sister Sherrie Cohen is running for Council at-Large in Philadelphia.  She ran four years ago and ALMOST won. This time she will.  It will be exactly 10 years since my dad held one of the five (majority) at-Large seats (with two ear-marked for the minority party).

I have mostly watched Sherrie's race on Facebook and communicate with her through texting, and I am so grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who work  tirelessly for her day in and day out, weekend after weekend, to make sure they spread the word about a woman they truly believe can help to transform Philadelphia by bettering the lives of all Philadelphians.

There is nothing like a new face to bring a sense of renewal and hope.  No wonder Primary Days are slated for the spring.

I realized after talking with my girlfriend that it probably takes longer to run a campaign than to plant seeds and watch them grow into flowers. There is no such thing for the candidate (or the supporters) as instant gratification, either.

I say this with confidence, with lots of Primary Days under my belt.  If you add up all of them - Sherrie's 2, my brother Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Denis Cohen's  2 (10-year terms), my brother State Representative Mark Cohen's 20 (2-year terms) and my dad, the late Councilman David Cohen's 7 or 8 (4-year terms), we're at a GRAND TOTAL for all Cohen races upwards of 30 Primary Days... that's 30 Spring Seasons!  

You could grow a forest with all these seeds.

So even though I flew the coop at age 23 and have been relatively free to enjoy Spring in my own way ever since, my thoughts always turn to the Philadelphia races as we bid winter goodbye.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


I have to say that the sexy Eva Mendes isn't so sexy anymore.

I prefer Ryan Gosling to her any day anyway, but I can admit when a woman's got sex appeal.  
Women know when other women are hot. 

And until 2 days ago, she would've made my list of hotties.  

But then she said something so sexist and dumb that it's going to take me a long time to get over it, if ever, especially with the social media frenzy which by its very nature will keep that comment alive and well.   

The never-married 41 year-old gave marital advice to women everywhere:

"You can't do sweatpants...ladies, number one cause of divorce in America, sweatpants, no!"

Seriously, Eva?

Yes, she does not wear them at home because they may "turn off" her boyfriend and baby daddy. 

Hmmm....could she be referring to a specific kind, like sweats that are over-sized, ripped or rolled up?   Or maybe a certain color or brand?

Hold on a second. Let me ask Bob, my ex-husband, to weigh in on whether he feels that my attire was a determining factor for us.  After all, with three kids and 17 years together, he saw me in a lot of sweats.

No No, Never mind, he and I don't need to do any rehashing of any kind, even if it is about sweatpants.

If only Eva's word had been noteworthy back then, to give me this advice when I really needed it. She could have saved me mucho bucks on counseling.  Maybe I wouldn't have one divorce under my belt had I that savvy insight years ago and exchanged my sweatpants for something...well, more pleasing to him.

Boy, would life have been so simple if it was all about the sweatpants.

My current hubby pokes fun at me all the time saying that I live in my scrubs, which is my pediatric office uniform.  When I come home from work, if he wants to go out to dinner and I happen to be wearing my black top and bottom scrubs, I can get away with wearing these to a restaurant.  I may look like a waitress to some, or that I just attended a funeral to others, but since I'm usually wearing black anyway, why trade one black top for another?    

He also says he's surprised that I don't sleep in them - me too, actually.  It feels like an unnecessary waste of my energy when I'm already so tired at night to take off my scrubs, only to replace them with pajamas, but - just for the record - I always do.  This is where I have drawn the line.  I have never slept through the night in my work garb, although I have had plenty of power naps in them!    
There's truly nothing more comfortable than scrubs other than say, maybe, sweatpants.  

But now that Eva has spoken her mind, I may have to reconsider my liberal sporting of scrubs.  

Maybe she really is on to something.   

Perhaps I should be asking David to weigh in on that.  I wouldn't want to look back and say it was all about the scrubs.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

To Be Young

My almost-22 year-old daughter Amy came home during spring break.

As usual, we spent much of it deep in conversation.

We spoke about the feel of life when one approaches it as an optimist vs. as a pessimist.  We spoke about the importance of determination when proceeding with one's career aspirations.  We spoke about believing in oneself. 

Correction. It wasn't really that "we" were espousing our philosophies on such weighty topics; it was Amy, with enough enthusiasm for the two of us.

When I heard myself respond, which instinctively was to temper her excitement with some realism, she asked why I was being so negative.

I was surprised to hear her refer to me as negative, but I could see her point.  Yet, I also wondered - maybe an optimist sees a realist as a pessimist?

Why, though, did I have to react by showing concern about today's competitive job market?  Why did I have to instill doubt that Amy's wishes would be fulfilled?  I should have just kept my mouth shut; obviously, whatever will be, will be. Besides, I'm wrong as often as I'm right, truth be told.

Perhaps my wanting to prepare her for something other than what she would consider an optimal outcome reflected my recollection of my own youth, when I thought I could do anything, be anything, say anything, have anything, write anything, and everything would work out.  Back then, I was invincible, just like Amy.      

There was a time I thought - and assumed, actually - that I'd become a therapist, write a novel, have 4 kids, be old and gray with the same man, and live happily ever after.

So was it sour grapes that made me respond by saying that life doesn't usually play out the way we think it will?  Or was it good information for her to have, to store away, as if she doesn't know?  She may have already figured this out. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know life is rough.  She's been around long enough to have her own war stories.   

I appreciated that she asked me why I don't work on these goals now - the ones that I still can, like becoming a therapist and/or writing a novel.  YIKES. This is positive thinking to the max.  I don't think she would've appreciated hearing me say that I'd rather sit on the beach and think about my goals than pursue any of them at this point.

To end our conversation positively, and because I believe this, I told her it's a young person's world we live in - it's her world - and society is relying on her passion for life and making her dreams come true, along with all the other young folks out there, to make this world a better place.

I have thought about this exchange of ours for days. 

Clearly I am not the same person that I was at 22, although that young lady may still be lurking within, at times making her voice known.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Talk about eye candy.

Don't get excited. I'm not referring to Bradley Cooper or someone my husband finds visually pleasing.

I even fell for IT the other day...What I'm swooning over is something inanimate, made even more enchanting by its rather compelling - albeit short-lived - appearance. 

What am I talking about, you ask? 

The answer is something we all seem to have very pronounced feelings about:  a hearty snowfall.

The reality is that, for me, once tree branches are covered with that white powdered stuff, I'm a goner. 

Thursday morning I laid in my bed for hours as the snow arrived, thrilled to watch this masterpiece in the making, like brush strokes on canvas. 

For once I told myself that there was nothing more pressing to do - not laundry, not going through endless papers, not doing the dishes - n o t h i n g - than to take advantage of what nature had to offer.

Florence would have been proud of me that I was able to sit back and enjoy the moment.  At 95 years old, she would have done the same thing, but I'm not sure she would've at 55.     

The spell was quickly broken - once the snow turned to ice - because I soon fell outside and then started worrying about everyone else getting hurt, other than Shea Doggy, who seemed fearless sliding all over the place.    
This morning, my girlfriend asked if I'd like to take our first walk of the season.  Suddenly I forgot about my love affair with the snow, as I quickly shifted to daydreaming about spring.    

Call me fickle, but now I find myself hoping I've had my last tango with Old Man Winter for many, many months. 

I can't wait to stop and smell the roses, for me and for my mamma.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Back and Forth

When I think back about this weekend's 24-hour getaway in New York City with my girlfriend, it's hard to say what I'll remember most:  the entertaining Broadway show, Hedwig and The Angry Inch; the luscious meals we devoured; the weird half door on the hotel shower, the magical setting of the ice skaters in the park late at night, the congestion of the ride to the city compared with the ease of the return trip home...

Or, something else?

Indeed!  A subject that I've touched upon before right here in this blog was revisited, leaving me with yet another new perspective on one I seem to examine time and time again.  Talking about whether there is a G-d - yes, that again - is not a topic I enter into lightly, because some people react so defensively or preachy or judgmentally that I wonder why I even bothered to share my personal thoughts and emotions.  Others, however, invite conversation just by being themselves.

I'm not sure how we got into the sphere of such weighty business past midnight, but we did, and I reiterated that I don't see how we can have a G-d if he/she allowed my stepson Matthew, before giving him one day of healthy adulthood, to die.  (This is a conversation that David, a complete non-believer, and I have had quite often.  He says he can't believe in something unless it can be expressed in a formula.)

Questioning the presence of G-d led to my girlfriend's asking me how David and I coped after the loss of his son.  I told her that I tried to help him by being a supportive wife, and other loved ones came to his side as well.  She asked how I handled my grief.  My response was that I too leaned on friends and family and tried to approach life one day at a time, all the while talking myself through a most devastating situation...what else could I do? 

I was surprised by her response.  She said, if I interpreted her words correctly, that she does not view G-d as responsible for any one outcome; rather, life happens, and G-d is there to pick up the pieces by helping us to cope.  So, when Matthew was sick and then when he passed, I could've reached out to G-d to help me/us.  She believes that the relationship we develop with G-d through prayer has the potential to fortify us exponentially during the most challenging of times, if we are open to it.

This view opens a compelling new wave of thinking.  I had always closed off the reputed power of G-d by holding him/her responsible for allowing all the wrongdoing around me to play out when in fact I could've been giving too much authority to this entity.  Perhaps this enormous expectation was erroneous and, therefore, completely misguided.  It may seem inconsequential either way - my being agnostic or not - but I see now that I could be missing out on that extra comfort and strength my friend has relied on all her life, which helps her to sleep at night...perhaps I may have slept much better all those times I didn't...and this support, she believes, has helped to mold her into the person she has become. 

But still, I asked, why pray if we don't KNOW to whom we are praying, or whether there is someone or something to hear us and to actually do anything for us at all?  What is the point, other than carrying out the traditions of one religion or another, never knowing FOR SURE what is on the other end? 

But still, she responded, why NOT pray?  Even if prayer simply makes us feel better, without necessarily being communicated to a higher being who can assist us, why wouldn't we do that?

While my friend knows that some - including Yours Truly - may never believe in G-d or the potential of prayer, she is a believer with her whole heart and soul, and for that alone I may, in fact, have to reconsider.