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Two Lives

Who knew this "style" blog would become this? And what is this exactly
It seems to be some vague documentation of a challenging time in my life - a diary of sorts that I should have kept a year ago, but didn't . . . couldn't. A reflection of the desperation I am feeling to hold onto that time, however painful it was.  To remember the details - To hold onto Genine and somehow honor her in a way I never managed to do while she was alive.
Over the course of our 39 years together - I mastered the role of spoiled (usually sometimes adding 'bratty' into the mix) little sister.
During Genine's last 4 months on this Earth, I attempted to make up for it, I promised myself and eventually her that I would be so much better of a sister in the years to come. At one point, near the end, when she was too sick to remove her oxygen mask and was communicating mostly through writing I told her this through tears. I said 'I was going to be such a better sister to you" and she laboriously wrote with her notoriously long skinny fingers (Phoebe has inherited them) in her signature bubble writing "You're the best".  I wanted so badly for her to write "That's okay" or even a "Fuck you" (haha, imagine?) - some acknowledgement of how I could have been better, but that wasn't Genine. And she actually meant it. I was the best she had, by default, and as much as I failed her, she continued to love me unconditionally.

THAT was Genine.

But enough about her, this is clearly all about me. 
And what changed my life a year ago today.
One year ago today our mom called me at 7:30 AM - which was unusual. Mom, aka the martyr, likes to wait for her children to call her. She asked if the girls were at school yet. They weren't because I had been out late the night before. I hadn't managed to pull myself out of bed in time for the bus, instead I would drive them. She asked if I saw her missed called the day before, I hadn't. 
Because on April 4th, 2016 it was pretty much the only snowstorm of the year. I was driving and uncharacteristically concentrating on the road and hadn't seen her call, which I realized the next day came through at about noon. My day consisted of debating if I should motivate to go see Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at a random venue in Cambridge. 
Cons: It was a Monday. The roads were crap, not to mention I had bought the tickets on eBay and wasn't entirely sure they were legit.
Pros: lead singer, Alex Ebert, is my Jesus.  It's literally like going to church for me. And my partner in crime, Lisa, was game. 
So off we went. 
We had a lovely dinner with jovial conversation. The night was complete with an adventure ditching some creepy Spaniard scientists that had taken a liking to us, and I eventually locked eyes with my love, Alex, as he sang 'Show me Love'.
Just your average Monday night.

So why was my Mom calling? 
She was calling to tell me that that Genine's doctor had told her it was time to prepare for something we hadn't considered yet, that Genine might not make it. I was shocked and really mad that they said that to my mom. Why would they say that to her? What was a mother supposed to do with that information? What were any of us supposed to do with it?
I hung up. Drove my kids to school. Came home and screamed the F word about a million times.  And pounded my fist on the kitchen island. And cried . . . the most heinous of cries but mostly screamed the F word. It was literally about all I could do.
 I think our lives change every day but this day was monumental in my frazzled brain. And so is the night before. The night before I consider a gift, because it carried a levity I'll never possess again. I obvs wish I could go back and take my mom's call when she first tried me - to share the burden of the devastating news, to maybe even drive to New York and hug them both instead of gazing at Alex. But we can't go back in time. We just cannot. 
And so began my second life.

The night David Bowie died

I'll never forget the night David Bowie died.  Not because of super-fandom (although I do love him - who doesn't?) but because it was the night my sister had a heart transplant.  My first, and I hope last, all nighter watching time stand still in a hospital waiting room.
I write not only because it's cathartic (trite but true) but mainly to document.  I'm terrible at keeping a hand-written journal, although I have many blank ones stashed around the house. I've noticed that as I am aging (and drinking) I continue to forget the details of the journey.  So this is my testimony.  No preachy life lessons - although the ones that stemmed from this night are countless - simply some of the details I don't ever want to forget.  Not all of them, but many.  No existentialism (is this a thing?  It is, right?) shiz either, like how Genine and Bowie probably had a chat in some parallel world that night.  One moving on, the other not quite ready.  That would be so corny to write about . . . although that totally did happen.
So here it is, my story, of the night David Bowie died.
It began on a Sunday morning.  Two out of the ordinary things happened the night before.  One, I had stayed in and two, I talked to Genine on the phone for quite awhile.  Without completely dissecting our relationship - the phone call was out of the ordinary (and what I consider a gift) because we weren't BFFs-talk-on-the-phone-every-day-sisters.  We didn't have a lot in common. But we loved each other. Very much.  Aaaand the fact that I didn't have a hangover maneuvering through the next day's events is perhaps an ever bigger gift.  No, really.  It is. (Genine could never quite tell when I was being sarcastic, either.)
It began with a phone call from my mother saying they thought they had a heart for Genine.  Let's just say I am the opposite of calm, cool, and collected in any sort of emergent situation.  I was frozen. "What do I do?"  My poor mother.  She literally needed to tell me to put one foot in front of the other.  As if she had nothing else to worry about.
I live on the North Shore of Boston and Genine had been living at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in NYC waiting for a heart for 3 months at this point.  I, for some reason, had never gone over the logistics of what I would do when this day came.  After I stumbled through the initial phone call with Mom, my gut reaction was to call Genine's best friend Cheryl, who also, Thank God, lives in the great state of Massachusetts.  She said, without hesitation "Can you get yourself to my house? I'll drive you."  Later I would learn that when she took my call she was enjoying a glass of red wine and a bubble bath at 10 AM (supposedly there was a very long run in the freezing cold rain involved beforehand).  Just one of the many reasons my love for this woman would increase tenfold this day and the days that followed.
I had the girls solo (Horseface was working) so I texted my friend Lindsay and she did what Lindsay does. She showed up. She also completed a stunning 'All About Me' board with Charlotte for her 'All About Me' day at school.  She had a slight advantage being a kindergarten teacher by trade but the poster was no joke. And the fact that my then 7 year olds had zero clue that their mother was losing her shiz at that moment was the biggest favor of all.  Grateful.
I left.
I got myself to Cheryl's house.  Like a true mom of four, she had the minivan gassed up and plenty of snacks . . . that she would offer repeatedly over the course of the next 18 hours.
Here began what would be the first of many 'Toyota talks".  We took turns talking a mile a minute or  we sat in silence as we both were too afraid to say the words out loud 'What if we don't get there in time to see her before the surgery?' and 'what if she doesn't get the heart?'
We watched the weather do some funky stuff.  One of those late afternoons that goes from a dark Armageddon sky to the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen.  Live from the Merritt Parkway.
Everyone was posting signs of beautiful rainbows all over the city on social media. We would take it as a sign. Signs made us feel better.
Guess what happened next?  We got there in time.
We were both shaking as we handed our IDs to the gentlemen working the front desk.  Elevator.  Hallway.  We walked into her room.  There was my mom and my nephew playing cards, my Dad, and Genine.  (Her husband had gone to put some of her things from her extended stay in the car).  Yep, there she was with her sweet smile and hoarse little laugh - both stunned and unflappable at the same time.  Bravest girl that ever walked this planet.
Anyway, we had some time together.  Cheryl said "Let me leave you guys alone" and Mom said "Don't be silly, you're family."  Truer words were never spoken.  If she hadn't been family before that night she certainly was after.
I'm not sure how much you know about transplants, but you don't know if they are really happening until the last minutes.  A LOT has to fall into place for it to actually go down. So as we were visiting we literally did not know if she was going in for the biggest surgery of her life, or if it was a false alarm.  At the time, the latter seemed the cruelest.
We were getting conflicting reports.  They weren't sure if it was happening.  There was confusion amongst the nurses.  Phone calls and raised voices - all of them fiercely protective of Genine.  I can say in confidence, she was the favorite of everyone who ever cared for her.
Then they decided to prep her even tho we still didn't know if it was happening (the heart was en route).  So they rolled her on out of that room.  The only thing we knew about the heart, by the way, was that she had to sign off on it because at some point the previous owner (that's not a medical term) had been incarcerated.  We joked about Genine coming out more of a badass then she already was.  Complete with tats, ready to kick some ass.  We joked but we were scared.  And it was written all over our faces.  Randy, oh Randy, was this big tall beautiful black man that had been waiting on Genine's floor for a heart and a liver for a year.  (Part of what determines transplants is size).  We had heard all about Randy from Genine.  They had become fast friends.  Anyway, Randy had come into the hall to wish her luck and saw our terrible poker faces and said 'This is a good thing, a really good thing." as he flashed his pearly whites.  A smile, and sentiment,  I will hold onto forever.
(P.S. We found out months later, as Genine was still battling in the hospital, that Randy got a heart and a liver and as far as we know is home a new man!  YAY!)
I don't really want to write much about being in the prep room and saying goodbye except for the lovely nurse who had heard about Genine from the other staff.  She goes "Everyone is all like 'she's soooo niiiiice.' and I'm like 'I need her medical history.'" Ha.  Typical.  Nicest ever.
So we went to the waiting room - STILL not knowing if it was happening - for probably, yeesh, it seemed like an eternity, but maybe 20 minutes.  It's maybe around 8:30 PM at this point. And then the nurse came running out in scrubs and looked at my mom and gave two thumbs up.  "It's a go."  And she vanished through the steel doors.
And for one of the only times in my life I witnessed my mother lose composure.  And it was brief, man, it was brief.  She simply hugged me so hard at that moment and breathed a very short-lived sigh of relief that she must have been carrying around with her for 45 years and said 'What a long road it's been'.  Then she quickly wiped away her tears and we ordered pizza.
And then we waited.  And waited.  And we said "I can't believe she got a heart." And waited.  And ate some snacks.  It was like the movies where they show the clock ticking on the wall.  Except without the part where the clock keeps skipping forward an hour or two. As time went on, tensions ran higher.  All the while with the same news headlines on repeat. Until about 1 AM when the news announced that David Bowie had died.  We watched as they showed people holding vigil at his apartment, a mere subway ride away.  We had a laugh later on that we should have gone - we had time, we just didn't know it.  What was supposed to be a 5-6 hour surgery, lasted 12, all in.  It was 10 before anyone came to tell us what was going on.  Literally.  Zero information.  My poor mother.  It was a Sunday night and eerily quiet.  No hospital staff to be found.  Just other people like us.  Waiting.  Trying to sleep with their uncomfortable thoughts in their uncomfortable chairs. Ugh, Genine loved David Bowie.  We wouldn't tell her when she woke up.  She would be too sad.
Then finally he emerged.  The brilliant pediatric heart surgeon who had operated on my sister for 10 hours.  The man who had taken her very own damaged heart out of her body and replaced it with someone else's, a new healthier heart.  I'm still in awe that any of this is possible!  He was brief.  He was tired.  Saving lives is exhausting.  He said it was complicated, there was bleeding, but it had gone well.  We could move downstairs to another waiting room while they closed her up.
We couldn't even.  WHAT WAS HAPPENING?!  A new heart.  Sigh.
It was another 2 hours of waiting in that waiting room.
The same headlines on the news playing again . . and again.  "Late Breaking News: David Bowie has died."  We were like, ummm, that's hardly late-breaking news.
At around 7 AM there was finally life in the hospital.  Business as usual.  It was bizarre,  again like the movies, like a flip of a switch, time had frozen and now was unfrozen. While people had slept soundly through the night, David Bowie had died and Genine got a new heart. NBD. A bustling Monday morning in one of New York City's largest hospitals. We walked to the cafeteria to get coffee and I almost got run over, like a hundred times. My sleep-deprived self was no match for this crowd.  I was no match for any of this.
What came next is too much to write, too much to share tonight, on the one year anniversary of the night David Bowie died.  Perhaps too much to hold onto for the rest of my years. And now the night of Obama's Farewell Speech. Coincidence? I think not. The audacity of hope. Things really went to hell in a handbasket in a year, didn't they?

But I'll tell you one more thing about January 10th leading into the 11th of 2016 - I've had the song 'Heroes' stuck in my head pretty much ever since.

I still believe in heroes.  We just have to believe in heroes.


RIP David Bowie 1/10/2016
RIP Genine Zavala 4/16/2016

Distractions & Connections

My favorite distraction these last few months has been, you guessed it, Beautycounter.
 {Followed by 
-in no particular order-
 George, Ray Donovan, pizza, ambien, the fat jew, Looloo, martinis, Horseface and Odd Mom Out}

At the risk of sounding dramatic, Beautycounter has saved me.  I know many people think "It's makeup {insert eye roll} what the eff is she talking about?"

I'm here to tell you it's more, peeps.  

It's a movement.  
It's a cause.
It's about progress and health and well-being.
It's about moving forward, it's about making things better.  

  I had no idea when I joined this company in March 2015 that it would have the impact on my life that it has.  I obviously didn't predict many things coming down the pike.  

Certainly not a trip to Capital Hill to have the laws changed.

bananas experience.  incredible perspective.

Boom.  Jefferson was on to something.

For me it's also about connection.  I'm desperate for it and I believe it is essential in our lives to recognize and nurture the connections we have to each other and special times and places.  I'd be lost if I didn't do this.

Besides the obvious connecting with old friends & new friends alike via BC there's more . . .

Creepster Coincidence #1: 

During my wedding planning, long before Pinterest and Style Me Pretty, I carried one particular wedding ripped out of a Martha Stewart, frayed edges and all, with me to all of my vendor meetings.  I was smitten with the square tables and pops of green.
  Guess who's it was? 

Gregg Renfrew's from the year 2000.  Yep, total creepster. 

Creepster Coincidence #2 

My obsession with Bono began in the 5th grade, about 3 decades ago. {yikes}
My brother and sister were grounded {long but amusing story that actually made the cut at Genine's memorial} and my parents poured salt in the wound by bringing me and my best friend Jenny Nichols to the U2 Joshua Tree tour at the Hartford Civic Center.  I remember as we were leaving the house that night, I was pretty bummed to miss The Cosby Show, I mean it was a Thursday night in 1987.  The Thursday night NBC line-up was pretty much everything.  
So I learned an important lesson early to always welcome the chance for a unique experience - even during a really good TV show. {Especially now that there is DVR and on-demand}
Being 4 feet tall, the crowd supported us as we stood on our seats in awe of thousands of lighters ablaze. We exited the stadium to the masses singing "40" - we walked and sang for what seems like an eternity.  It was mind-blowing as an 11 year old and my heart actually aches with nostalgia when I just listened to this rendition.

Anyways, my Bono emotions run deep and throw it on the list of what makes me love Beautycounter.
He just joined forces with the company in May.
Read about the Nude acquisition here.

Creepster Coincidence #3

The first pop up store opening on Nantucket this summer.  I live for this place in my happy place . . . so much so I spent my 40th birthday there!

and now the biggest of all.

The Target collab.

Seriously, though.  
I've probably spent more time in a Target over the last 8 years than my bed.  

this is big, even Vogue agrees. 
{september 2016 issue page 590}

So are we selling out?
not so much.
quite the opposite, actually.  We are putting our money where our mouth is.   Making a significant impact by reaching 65 million new people with this brilliant 9 week limited partnership.  First and foremost educating about our mission, to get safe products into the hands of everyone.

Please take a moment to learn about it here.

My daughters are SO PROUD of this accomplishment.  And yes, I haven't mentioned them yet in this post.  They are clearly my very favorite distraction.  They are not a creepy coincidence . . . but they are my "why".

I hope you all have the best distractions in your life this fall and always and
if anyone is looking for me on September 12th, I'll be at Target with Bono and Gregg planning our next trip to Nantucket - should we wear our wedding dresses?  If you should want to join us . . . 
we'd love to have you!

"I will sing, sing a new song . . ."

The post I never wanted to write . . .

I haven't written in a few months because I've been quite busy putting one foot in front of the other.
And I've been scared, terrified really, that I will completely botch this, the blog post I hoped and prayed that I never would have to write.
I don't know how to honor my sister, who passed away 4 months ago today.
Every night {and most days} the thoughts flood my mind and I know I must write yet I know whatever my feeble fingers type will not be enough.  That they will not even begin to explain this beautiful soul.  I know I am failing her with every typed word, but knowing her, she's already forgiven me.
It would be impossible to explain her indomitable spirit, her courage, patience, her sense of humor in the midst of the worst of times - her one liners, imperfectly yet perfectly timed.  Her effortless way of being a good person - because when you aren't trying to impress anyone, or be anything but your true self, you just are so authentic it hurts.  So real, it seems it can't be real.  But man, was she real.
Her surgery in January filled all of our beings with so much hope, we could barely stand it.  Know this about Genine - she was the last to give up hope.  She would have suffered 10 more years in a  hospital bed if it meant one more day watching her son play baseball.
It's also a fine line on what my family needs to hold close and private and not share with the world about that time, that day, and what I feel my people should know.  Especially those who sent cards, flowers, showed up at her memorial, generously donated to her GoFundMe, gave hugs at the right time, and didn't give hugs at the wrong time, those who have learned to tread lightly while desperately trying to carry the burden. I write this as a thank you to all of you.
For the doctors and nurses, who got 'too close' because it was impossible not to.
For our family friend and reverend, Alan, who memorialized her so intimately on April 30th, her presence was palpable at that lighthouse, a beacon, a sign she was off to someplace better without pain.
And to Priscilla, who sang "Leaving on a Jet Plane" for one more verse, the verse that let us weep & mourn the way we needed to do at that moment.
For her best friend, who brought snacks, lots of snacks, to the hospital, and held all of our hands when we needed it, especially Genine's.
And for my best friend who has taught me to 'feel the feelings'  and has felt them with me and also for me, when I just can't.
For Vic and his daughters, for being there when they could.
I write for Horseface, who doesn't know how to make it better but tries.
My aunts & uncles and extended family who visited the hospital on Christmas Eve dressed as Santa and flew from Alaska to say goodbye, and so many gestures inbetween.
For my brother, who is stuck with the bratty little sister, and is missing his partner in crime every day.
For my daughters, who didn't get to spend enough time with their auntie Genine.  I don't know how I will ever make that up to them.
For my brother in law, who proved his love for Genine in her last 4 months of life, in a way no man should ever have to.
I write it for my nephew, a son who has never been more loved by a mother on this earth, who is celebrating his first birthday without one today.
For my dad, a man of few words, who lost a daughter and friend.
My mom, oh, my mom. No words for this selfless hero.  None.
And I write for those of you who are grieving your own losses.  What tricky business, huh? I remember hearing a story about a friend of a friend who had tragically lost her sister, she explained that it just 'took her breath away' when she least expected it.  I know all too well how that feels now.  It's just breathtakingly sad. Keep breathing.
So many people reached out with Genine's passing, sharing their stories and feelings about how she made all of their lives better in one way or another.
One of my favorite descriptions, is simple, but accurate.  She was 'uncommonly kind and made a wicked guacamole'.  She was just that, uncommonly kind.  A kindness, that I'm quite sure, unless you knew her, you will never have the privilege of experiencing.  A kindness so pure it comes along once in a lifetime. I'm so grateful it came along in mine.

Pop-Up, Pop-Up & Get-Down!

It's that time of year again!  The ladies of the MHD Mother's Co-op have outdone themselves with a fantastic line-up for their annual Pop-Up Shops this upcoming weekend.

1. I'm an "addict" for these India Hicks charms.  They have such clever and meaningful sayings and are my go-to gift  right now.  
2. Ummmm, are these cool fanny packs?  Because I NEED some of this Beau & Ro fashionable practicality. They both scream #Chella.  The palm print is so Palm Springs, but the fringe appeals to my inner Cindy Mancini. {RIP} 
Hmmmm . . . decisions.

3.  I also have a soft spot for bracelets and there will be plenty to choose from at the Pop-Ups.  Sequence collection has an amazing social mission.  And Chic Streets will have their share of beauties from The Ropes, Maine and I adore these Rosewood tassel bracelets.

4. I always get myself in a fair amount of trouble at the Bread & Butter table with there incredible selection of cards & housewares.  I choose you.  and you.  and you and you.  you, too.

I've really let my daughters embrace the 'orphan chic' look the last couple of years.  But sometimes I bite the bullet and purchase them adorbs dresses that will likely never see the light of day {because Target leggings with holes in them are somehow more appealing to them.}
Loving Petit Peony's selection of pretty frocks.

I suppose I could bribe them to wear pretty much anything with some goodies from Hayden & Halle.  This is a FANTASTIC addition to this year's shops.  It's a magical land where one million rainbows have exploded and all of your kiddos' wish lists come to life.  And, ummm, they deliver!  Fellow Marblehead Mom, Owner & Operator, Melissa Gallo, has saved my behind more than once, when I've found myself a couple {ahem} of cocktails deep and it's birthday party time and oops, I forgot to buy a gift {or two}!  Doh! Hayden & Halle to the rescue.  Here's a tiny sampling of the unicorn vomit fun!
Read about another fabulous contribution to Pop-Ups from Sweet Melissa, here

Can you even stand it?

And of course it wouldn't be the Pop-Ups without Monogrammer extraordinaire, Cece Dupraz.  Founder & friend, Marion Greely, continues to outdo herself with her stunning collections and selection of custom created monograms & motifs.

"At Cece DuPraz, we could never resist putting our own spin on things to make them unique and are thrilled to be able to offer our customers the ability to do the same!
From linens to party dresses to jon jons and more, this is your chance to take your ordinary items, kiss them with a monogram, and turn them into showstoppers. And many materials are compatible*, so let your imagination run a little wild! 
As we say around here, life is a party, monogram everything."
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  
Also expect to see . . . 

Seaside Allure 
Irresistibles (Roberta Roller Rabbit, Joules, Saint James, etc)
Prema Yoga and Athlete By Design (Alo, Onzie, Liquido, Beyond Yoga, Magsy Gems etc)

I can't give all the goodness away on the blog - but there are also some SUPER DUPER surprise raffle items. 

Please come see for yourselves and support this year's charity, one that hits pretty close to home, the Friends of Marblehead Public Schools . . . 

Oh, and did I mention some of my fave BC bitches will be on the scene? {Obvs} 
If you can't make the event, and would like to support the cause shop here.

OH WAIT HOLD THE PHONE - did I even tell you about the complimentary champs and bloodies?!

YES, because that is definitely happening. 
{Thank you, Kappy's!} 

Hope to see you there!


today marks one month until our palm springs adventure.
so expect a few posts about this mid-centch mecca between now and then.

not sure how many of the sights we'll be taking in as we might be busy with a certain, ahem, festival.

but there is so. much. eye candy in palm springs - I can barely stand it!

COLOR. so much color. YAY.

love the pops of yellow at the avalon.


 unfortch, the parker was booked, but I plan on stalking this quintessential Jonathan Adler designed spot anyway.

maybe grabbing brunch at the delish Norma's.  one of my faves at the PM in NYC, I'm sure it's even better in this setting. {also, LooLoo was almost named Norma after this yummy spot}

Almost booked the Saguaro based on the rainbow pallete alone.  swoon.

You can actually rent Liz Taylor's house. See more here

Or  Sinatra's house, Twin Palms !

sidebar: love that Franky baby was a dog lover.
There's just too much fabulousness to cover in one post.
via AD

The doors alone would take me all day . . .
via studiodiy
via Kelly Golightly

Can you just pick me up already, Don?!