Sunday, May 31, 2015


Is it possible for David to have a meal with his lovely wife and NOT pick up his cell phone while they are sitting together?

It can be done, yes.

But how likely is it? 

Not very.

It used to be that when David and I sat close to one another, it was the touch of my arm he'd reach for, with a nice big smile, as he gazed into my eyes.

Fifteen years later, he now ALSO reaches for his sleek and sexy iPhone.

He just can't help himself.

For him to know that there is access to information, or to communication, but he isn't free to take advantage of these offerings, would be similar to not letting Shea Doggy sniff to his heart's content outside.     

Yesterday's lunchtime provides a perfect example.  I was telling David about my very nice walk from our home to Stockton Elementary School, which was 1.8 miles away. 

I thought he'd say "Wow!  What a long walk!  Good for you!" but....

Instead, he asked, "Is the school at a dead end, when coming in from Rt. 70?"

What??!?!  Who cares!?!?!?  

And honestly, I had no idea.  I'd probably driven to that school hundreds of times in the years my kids went there, but I had no recollection of what was on the one side of the school, probably because I didn't care then either.

In retrospect, I should  have just agreed with him and put the subject to rest (maybe), but I said, "No, I don't think it's a dead end," and since I contradicted his thinking, there was only one thing left for him to do.

I knew it would be just a matter of seconds before he'd reach for his phone.  I started counting.

Like clockwork, he grabbed it, clicked on to his Google Maps app, typed in Stockton Elementary, and there it was.

It seems that Stockton may be at a dead end, after all.  I'm so glad I know now.

Add this to an example earlier that day during our breakfast time together, when he asked if we were going to get rain.  This inquiry is always, without question, a precursor to checking his weather app, a smooth move on his part which takes about 30 seconds from question to answer.

Texting is another matter, but one that he also finds irresistible - both in terms of sending and receiving.  I get that David's spent all day communicating with co-workers via email, on line chat, phone as well as text, and I know it's hard for him to turn it off when he gets home.  I guess the true test will be when he retires and, as always, Time Will Tell.

For now at least, I do see a big change coming. 

It will get even easier for David to connect to the world, once his on-order Apple watch becomes- for all intents and purposes - surgically attached to his wrist.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


This past Tuesday's Primary Election Day rocked this year, until the results came in.

I had the pleasure of hanging with my sister Sherrie Cohen, candidate for City Council at Large, all day long, as her designated driver.

I've worked plenty of Election Days in my lifetime, but most of them have blended together in my mind, filed under a category titled "WWDFF:  What We Do for Family." 

As the youngest child of Councilman David Cohen, I assumed I was locked into the Election Day grid for life, but then Mike was born, and he came in very handy as an immediate excuse - bless him! - I couldn't be expected to bring my little baby to the polls, now could I?  Allison soon followed, as did Amy...this was a truly blissful hiatus for me, free from political WWDFF commitments.  I have to remember to thank my kids for this.

It's not that Primary/Election Days are necessarily bad; it's just that they can be exhausting - standing at the polls from 7 am to 8 pm - and very confusing, contentious and disheartening - for starters, so I always preferred to avoid them.  I re-entered the madness when my sister ran for Council the first time in 2011, and then my brother's lovely wife, Mona, the Superstar of all volunteers, asked me if I could help out for Mark when he ran last year, and so I obliged.

But this year I didn't wait until I was asked - instead, I offered myself to the amazing Malcolm Kenyatta, my sister's campaign manager, and asked if he had any ideas for what I could do to help on Sherrie's big day. 

He suggested I drive her around so that she would be free to stop at various polling places without having the added concerns of navigating and parking.  I was game. Sounded like good use of one's sister and again - WWDFF.

When I got to Sherrie's house at 7 am - my childhood home - I was surprised that right away I felt the positive energy my parents always exuded in anticipation of a potentially favorable political outcome.  I could also feel their pride in Sherrie for the campaign she ran and in me too for going against my natural inclination to steer clear of politics and do the WWDFF thing once more.      

In contrast to other years when I was looking at the clock all day long, wondering how I allowed myself to get roped into this craziness that I wanted no part of, I found myself actually enjoying this experience with Sherrie.  I was reminded how beautiful a city Philadelphia is - from stately Mt. Airy to the far northeast where it meets the Delaware River; how the population is incredibly diverse yet more similar than different in the thinking of its residents; how delicious Fourth Street Deli is; and how relative strangers can touch our hearts. 

At one of the condo complexes in the northeast, where Sherrie and I visited so that she could introduce herself to the voters and also say hello to her Election Day workers, one particular gentleman responded with a smile that lit up his whole face, a big hug for the candidate, and words that will stay with Sherrie for life.

He told her that he had been active in the start of the gay liberation movement, just as she had been in the early 1970s, and he went on to say..."You are a dream come true for me. You are everything we fought for," which he described as somebody who is going after her dreams and is being all she can be.

And while this was very meaningful and kind to share, what came next was even more powerful - and surreal. 

He walked over to his guitar case, which for some reason happened to be sitting just a few feet away - almost like he was expecting this opportunity (maybe he was) - and opened it up, lifted out the guitar, put the strap around his shoulder, and began to serenade Sherrie.
She melted into a nearby chair - ironically one was free - and shortly after he began singing, I saw tears streaming down her face, so moved by the lyrics and emotion in his delivery, spoken from his heart and soul, directly to hers.

I believe it was "Follow Me," which at one time was sung by John Denver.

So while Sherrie didn't get the votes needed to win a seat on City Council, she got an inside glimpse of a man whose life she deeply touched, many years ago, and who, decades later, is still thanking her for it.

Actually, WWDFF doesn't begin to cut it, this time around.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Shop Here or Shop There

I'm getting more like my husband every day.

Sometimes the likeness shocks me; other times I kind of expect it:  Is it myth? truth? - that we start looking like our partners - even our dogs, from what people say - over time?   If that's the case, acting like our partners as well shouldn't be any big surprise.

This particular realization relates to something David and I do often, so there's ample opportunity to compare our approaches to it:  SHOPPING!

Online vs. on foot.

I attended a baby shower this weekend - had a great time - but the purchase of the gift took me a good 5 hours; it would've taken David under 15 minutes.   Was my gift better than his would've been? 

Just because I obsess about and throw my heart into whatever I buy, and David is ruled by practicality for many things and would never obsess over a baby gift, the difference in approach doesn't necessarily translate to a difference in quality regarding the end result, does it? 

His search almost always begins and ends online, regardless of the purchase (with few exceptions), and he doesn't dawdle unless it's a big ticket item.  But I can't get past the feeling that internet shopping is the lazy man's approach and, therefore, not generally how I want to proceed.  It simply doesn't compare to getting up close and personal with the item(s) of consideration - looking at it, holding it, etc...especially for a baby.

Yet, since I always marvel at how successful David can be when he shops online, I've become more open to at least starting there to get myself in the right mode of thought.  So, I went on to, where the couple was registered, thinking perhaps his way is at least worth considering.   

I was mentally exhausted after 5 minutes looking at the vast array of items and  quickly decided to finish up the task the next day.  After a few days of this routine, I wondered how it was possible for David to make important decisions like this online. I decided I had better stop wasting time and go into the store.

I headed over to Babies"R"Us in Cherry Hill, where I hadn't been for at least a decade, when it was just Toys"R"Us - and was immediately confused by the fact that when you enter the store, it's both Babies"R"Us and Toys"R"Us sharing the same space.  Right away, I wished I had been more David-like, as he'd never have set foot in that maze. 

I looked for a person to help me, but no one came to my rescue.  I followed the sign for "Baby Registry," which was in the far right corner of the store, and there I saw a machine which housed the registry listings. Whew...things were moving along after all.  I planned to quickly print out a list...and I told myself it I can finish up in the next 15 minutes, I can reward my hard work and have a delicious juice from Rastelli's Market on the way home.

About 45 minutes later, I was still obsessing over the 3 versions of the lists (by alphabetical order, price, and aisle), which had about 10 items per page and were about 10 pages long. I soon felt defeated, sadly realizing as well that I had been there for so long that I probably missed my opportunity to stop for the juice I had been looking forward to.

I also found myself daydreaming, not about sitting at the beach but about shopping online in the comfort of my home, like you-know-who would've done!   It would've been so much more relaxing to browse while seated at my desk, maybe take in a snack or two, feel the spring breeze on my face...was my gift going to be that much better for walking through the doors of Babies"R"Us?   

After all that, what did I end up buying, you wonder? 


I decided on a gift card so the new parents could agonize over their choices as I was done with that; I picked out a couple books, threw in a Phillies outfit, and I was ready to roll.   
As I looked at all the presents at the shower, I wondered how many people made their decisions scrolling through the list online or strolling through the store.  It didn't really matter.  The happy couple seemed thrilled with every gift.

Either way, I wonder what I'll do the next time around.  

My guess?  The same thing I did this time, daydreams and all.

And I have no doubt that David will remind me that sometimes, it's not all that bad to be like him. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

All-Star Weekend

Celebrating my firstborn on Friday night created a very emotional start to Mother's Day weekend.

My son Michael teaches students with autism at the Y.A.L.E. School.  A mom of one of his students nominated him to win a Phillies' All-Star Teacher recognition award, and he was one of 10 teachers chosen out of about 1,000+ nominees, based on letters sent in to the organization.  The winners and nominating families got to go on to the Citizens Bank Park field before the game while parts of each speech were read to the crowd.  I actually heard this young man tell my son, "You are a hero to me."  What mom wouldn't kvell? 

That's a Yiddish word meaning to be extraordinarily pleased and bursting with pride. That was me alright, and I had the tears to prove it.

I was told by a very wise friend that life is about MOPs (Moment of Pleasure) and that I have to savor them because they make the other stuff bearable. 

Dark, but realistic, especially for our generation.

Hearing about my son's impact on this young man and his family - especially relating to the student's mom as a mom myself - coupled with my family and friends surrounding us as we celebrated this honor, was one of the most memorable MOPs of all time.

The thrill could've been further enhanced had my mom been there to kvell alongside with me, but that wasn't in the cards.  So, I've decided not to dwell on what could not be but to appreciate all that was. 

And ending my weekend - Mother's Day itself - my kids were with me and, for that, I am eternally grateful.

At lunch, we all spoke about my mom and how much fun she was to be around.  My kids shared their memories, which included playing ball with her in our back yard with a wiffle ball and bat and with the velcro mitts on the beach.  Even in her 80s, she was more athletic than I ever was.

MOPs may be few and far between, but they do exist, as long as we are open to them. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Thank You, Alfred

I'm generally not one to believe in signs, but today I'm thinking maybe I am, after all.
On Wednesday night, my girlfriend and I were talking about Mother's Day, and she told me that she was going to Boscov's this weekend to check out the Alfred Dunner selection for her mom. 


I immediately felt so sad, as this had been my routine for years:  the weekend before Mother's  Day, I'd head over to Boscov's to scope out some pretty new floral patterns.  

I could always count on Alfred to bring a smile to my mom's face. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the Alfred Dunner brand, it is attractive clothing (for our moms) that is easy to wash and wear.  The pants are a fairly thick polyester, both the tops and bottoms ward off stains and my favorite part of the slacks - and which makes this brand so distinguishable - is the elasticized waistband.

I've gotten so savvy about the Alfred Dunner line after all these years that I can usually spot it a mile away.

That's why I almost fell off the bike at Planet Fitness today.

After about 5 minutes into my workout, I saw a woman my mom's height - about 5' - walking in my direction.  She stopped at the bike next to mine and proceeded to sit down. 

It was one of those moments when I wondered if I was seeing things just because I wanted to...her outfit screamed Alfred Dunner!  

The top was a lovely floral with red, light blue and beige, and the coordinating pants were light blue.   My mom would've looked hot in this outfit.

This was a first for me, seeing an Alfred Dunner original at the gym.

I looked at her a few times in disbelief, and we smiled at each other.  I was so comforted by this stranger in the Alfred Dunner outfit.  I didn't want to get off my bike until she did, so I waited.  When she stood up, she dropped one of her tissues, and when she bent over to pick it up, I saw the elasticized waistband.

Thank you, Alfred, for sending Mom to me today.