Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving North of Orlando and South of Jacksonville

Thanksgiving in Florida is like this: We have seen a bald eagle; we saw herons fly over the lake and got up-close-and-personal with one in Alligator Alley; and we witnessed 16,000 lizards scampering. Oh, and weird white spiders. I have been to Target 43 times and I go to the supermarket every day to wander in awe up and down the mammoth aisles. These stores have frozen food sections bigger than the entire food stores I shop in in the city. I bought a Paula Dean magazine because she seems to be all the rage down here, but I can't get past how every recipe calls for a stick of butter or a vat of oil. She has a recipe for a peanut butter trifle that is insane. Does she have special medical health secret? Because I don't know how it is possible to live on the PD diet and not clog arteries, gain 50 pounds or reduce energy reserves within two weeks.

The girls are having the best time and are reveling in all the space they have to roam in. The are sleeping well, in cribs side-by-side. After every nap and in the morning we notice that all the toys, pacifiers and blankets have somehow moved over to Avery's crib. We are not sure if Avery is using her power of persuasion or if Madeline is offering them. Avery can now moo, woof, meow, hiss and brrr (like an elephant). Madeline makes these sounds as often. Most interesting is that Avery also barks Christmas carols. She learned this from her stuffed dog that barks Christmas songs.

Both girls have become obsessed with balloons. Both are trying to repeat words we say. Their biggest "first" this week has been a trip to Santa. We forked over $24.99 or $19.99 or $22. 99 for two 5 by 7s that I could have taken myself. Tis the season to spend money ridiculously I guess. I'll post that picture tomorrow.

I am lugging back to New York several purchases, including five pounds of fondant, flannel polar bear pajamas, Christmas underwear, monkey pajamas for the girls and a cookie sheet. Everything down here is so much cheaper. And it is 10 times easier to shop when you have a Nana and the other mom with you.

Nicole and I managed to go out to eat alone one night (i had a wedge and rosemary chicken) and tonight we braved the cold to go down to Alligator Creek or whatever it is called so I could practice taking pictures with my tripod. I am trying to really really learn aperture really really hard.

Does anyone have any insight into Mad Men? Is it worth buying on iTunes?

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Can't Stop Thinking About All This

It seems like everyone in this country is waking up after a long, deep sleep. This political season, combined with the lovely recession and failing economy and rising gas prices and foreclosures run amok, has us all paying attention.

Everyone is concerned about this Wall Street bailout, it seems. Where is the money going? Who gets what? Why do corporate bigwigs get huge bonuses? How dare they drive nice cars and expect our tax dollars to bail them out? I am in the middle of the road here. On one hand, it is wrong to punish success. So some people get big bonus and special privileges derived form making lots of money — is that not [part of] the American Dream? Work hard, we say, and you can be what you want. A lot of pressure on a six-year-old’s tiny shoulders, but still. Don’t we teach our children in school that they can grow up and be anything they want? Or do we tell them that they can be whatever they want but if they earn to much money or get too successful then, well, we will hate you and resent you and throw stones at you?

But this whole accountability thing, where is the money going, why now? Why aren’t people asking that every year, round the 15th of April? Our tax dollars fund public schools, many of which are failing spectacularly so. Why aren’t we up in arms over that? I am not sure what the exact statistics are but I think less than half of students graduate in NYC. I, like everyone else, hand over a significant amount of money every year (well, now only via Nicole) so where is that going? Why is the school down the street from me failing? Why do I have to look into private school and consider paying a ridiculous tuition because Down The Road isn’t an option? But — and this might be controversial — if my two children are not taking up seats in the public school down the street, shouldn’t I get some sort of tax credit?

Economics are complex, so much so that I feel like I am watching an episode of Law & Order: The plaintiff presents and I believe then, and then the defendants present and I believe them. I can swing either way. In this country, the “ways” are republican and democrat. And I have to admit that this political season, I have been questioning many of the ideals that I hold. Some of the republican theories on economy make much more sense than the democrats. As much as I want to believe in social programs and social welfare and all that, it is clearly NOT working they way it should. I want everyone in this country to have health care, but I am afraid of what happens if the government runs that. Obama talks about raising taxes for corporations, but this, it seems, isn’t the answer. If we raise their taxes, they will just pass that on to We the Consumer. Tax Mobil more and they will make gas more expensive for us. Tax airlines and they will pass that onto us too.

But — and this is a big but — I am much more liberal than the republican party. I believe in gay marriage and would support a constitutional amendment saying that men and women can marry each other. What can I say: I have a vested interest. I believe in a woman’s right to chose and believe that making abortions illegal will not taper the number of abortions, but rather make them more unsafe. I believe that this whole right to own guns thing needs to reevaluated. Assault rifles, anyone? (And yes I realize if we made gun-owing illegal, then guns would fall into the hands of truly evil people who would use them to kill and thus create a scary underground ring.) I could go on. The thing is, though, I can’t wrap my mind around the social ideology of the republicans, the religious connections (somehow I end up as a sinner in almost every religion), and my second-class status.

The republican party, it seems, wouldn’t want me murking up their waters. But the democratic part is flawed too. So what is a girl to do?

Nicole has a Town Hall meeting tonight so I am on my own with the girls all day and night. I am hauling them out to Long Island and then back home for pizza. I have been overwhelmed lately with the concept of winter and being cooped up for a season, but that is another post for another day.

Anyone catch Five Under 5 last night? Way to represent, ladies!

Pictured above, Halloween last year and then this year. What a difference year can make! Understatement of the century…

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Heart Going Boom Boom Boom and Set Your Tivos

My Heart Going Boom Boom Boom and Set Your Tivos

Well, I am glad no one listened to me and said nice things anyway. Thank you so much for your advice, words of encouragement and connections. I, like most members of the human race, appreciate empathy and need and crave validation and praise. Nicole provides that for me, but, alas, praise from a partner is a double-edged sword: Too much and it is diluted and too little and it is an issue. I think we are in the too much category because when she says those things I think, yeah right. Besides, I have never been one to accept a compliment gracefully. How can she think that I am doing a good job when I can barely manage to vacuum up the giant tumbleweeds in this apartment? Or when she comes home to daughters with yogurt crusted in their hair? Or when I call her daily at 4:59 p.m. and ask when she is leaving? And she isn’t the most equitable observer: After all, if I asked her if I was doing a good job, would she never say “Well, actually, you are doing horrifically.” What is going to do? Fire me?

Yes, we need a babysitter. Badly. We have known this for a while, but I am so stubborn and often stand in my own way. I put the brakes on because the idea of idea makes me so uncomfortable. It feels like an admission of failure; it is a leap of faith for a control freak like myself; it requires me to step WAY outside my comfort zone. And no, I don’t think those who use babysitters are failures, flippant or foolish. But don’t we all hold ourselves to such harsher and different standards than we do others? Barnard has a babysitting service and I will look into that after we get back from Florida. Yes, I am putting it off, but at least it is on my to-do list.

I have been listening to Solsbury Hill on repeat ALL morning. Such a great song, but maybe unhealthy to hear 70 times in a row.

This morning is better, if only microscopically so. The thing about having kids is your really don’t have the luxury of dwelling very long in an existential pit. Actually, that maybe isn’t just a having-kids thing; it is a age-related thing. Back in the day, I could go round and round the same circles of emotions with little collateral damage. But now I have a much bigger incentive to figure to out and move on. It gets tiring after a while.

The day started at 4:45 a.m., as usual. As I was getting my coffee, I stepped on an Elmo game in the kitchen that screeched “TRY AGAIN.” This is how my morning began. How appropriate. I love when lessons and metaphors pop out of nowhere. I spend so much time trying to make sense of it all and look at that: The answers and mantras are sometimes right in front of my eyes, no digging required. Later, the girls ate a great breakfast: Scrambled eggs and a banana and grapes and Cheerios, which makes me feel like they deserve a Noble prize for eating such a balanced meal or I deserve a Nobel prize for providing one. It’s the little things.

I took myself to Slumdog Millionaire last night. Such a great movie. Go see it if you can. For two hours, it really puts one’s life in perspective. It has a great soundtrack too.

One of our own will be making her television debut on Wednesday! I complain about how hard two can be: She has TWO sets of twins and an older daughter! I read how she handles it on her blog, and can’t wait to see in person. Well, sort of in person. I wish she lived near me so I could have her on the list of people I intend to visit but never do (I really need to work on my taking-the-girls-on-the-road thing). It’s called Five Under Five and it is on the Discovery Health (channel 115 here in NYC) at 8:00.

The girls are really quiet, which is never a good thing. Last time that happened (yesterday) a roll of toilet paper was destroyed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Warning: Whiney, Bitchy, Pissy Post. Not for the Faint of Heart.

It’s been 17 months and I am still overwhelmed. Two kids at the same time is just plain hard sometimes. I am not the mother I thought I would be, and that is killing me. I want to take them to the Children’s Museum and the park and the indoor playgrounds and gymboree things and all of those child-centered activities but I am completely unable to do it by myself. The girls run in separate directions at the park; you can’t use a stroller in the Children’s Museum and most Gymboree classes require one adult per child. I am facing a long winter cooped up in our apartment and that scares me.

I need a new stroller. I am just coming to grips with the fact that there is no ideal twin stroller and we are going to need different strollers at different times. I found the perfect stroller, one with great reviews and one that I have test-driven and one that will serve us perfectly for at least the next two years, but it won’t fit through the front door of my apartment building. It fits in my elevator and through my apartment door but not the effing front door of the building. Foiled again.

So it is back to the drawing board. I want to go up to stroller store on 95th street, and this is a perfect example of the day-to-day struggles of life with two. There is no subway stop with elevator access anywhere near 95th Street. So I have to either walk the 40 blocks in the windy cold winter-ish air and then the 40 blocks back or take the subway to 72nd, and walk the 20 blocks from there. I have no problem carrying a single stroller up and down flights of subway stairs: I did it with my nephew until he was three. But bjorning a baby and carrying a stroller with a baby in it? That is hard. Still, I do it more frequently than I intend, since so many times I take the subway to elevator stops only to find the damn elevator isn’t working. I could wait until Nicole gets home and go alone, but this store closes at 5:30. I could just walk it and stop bitching. I could just order a stroller online without test driving it. I guess there are solutions, but none I like. Maybe I am just hard to please or my own worst enemy.

I guess I need to readjust my standards to an extent and my vision of motherhood to the max. I repeat: I am far from the mother I thought I would be. With two, I feel like I am just trying to keep my head above water sometimes; with one, I feel like I would be unstoppable. It makes me sad because I was a much better mother to my nephew. We did so much together: Parks, zoos, museums. I used to take him to cafes and drink coffee. I would take him shopping and to parties and baby showers and to other peoples houses. It was so easy. I would take him out and let him hold my hand a walk around the block. He used to love that. And the girls love to walk on the street too, but I can’t take them both out and let them do that. I guess it will get easier when they get a little older but that doesn’t make me feel better right now. Right now I just feel like a crappy mom who is letting her girls down (and myself). I feel like I miss out on moments and milestones and soon-to-be memories.

When I was going through the infertile years, I would kill to have these issues. I would read other people complaining like this and think they were ungrateful. I am not ungrateful. I would never wish one of my children away and hope for a different outcome than what I have right now. I am so grateful, and not a day goes by that I don’t think that, and that is the truth. But I severely underestimated how hard it would be at times, and how overwhelming it could be and how isolating it could be and how awful it feels to feel realize that you can fail at something so important. I am not fishing for compliments or looking for people to say how great I am doing. I guess I just want to know I am not alone in this and that I am not the only one that tried so hard and suffered through so much to be where I am and to even still feel overwhelmed sometimes and think “how can I do this?” This will pass, as it always does, but right now I am wallowing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Would Jesus Do? No, Really. Which Box Would He Check?

We took the girls to their first rally the other night: The giant Anti-Prop 8 protest that started at the Mormon Church. To be honest, I was uncomfortable with the church-focused parts of the protest: I am fine with suporting anti-8 but didn't want to be condenming a religious group for its views. After all, they have the right to their own opinions, even if they aren't in line with mine. And, as evidenced by all the Mormons and ex-Mormons at the protest, not every single one agrees with the Powers That Be in the Mormon Church. Which is not to say that I think the the Mormon church's financial support of Prop 8 it is right or moral: In my view, it is not. And it is serious misstep in separation of church and state and all that. But my focus was Equality and that is the issue here. We are planning on going the City Hall protest on Saturday, unless the rain drowns us out.

Here is another Guest Post from Nicole, who took a much more subtle approach to disagreeing with the Mormon Church's stance:

Jesus Christ preached love and acceptance, so why don’t the churches based on his teachings do the same?

It’s quite simple; Jesus Christ’s teachings don’t lend themselves well to organized religion. In fact, Joseph Smith learned this lesson as well. If you teach people that the Christ is within them, that we are the embodiment of God, that God speaks to us directly, why would we need a Church? If you were told “here are Jesus Christ’s principles, everyday practice them, everyday grow and try to become the Christ,” wouldn’t that be a very individual and personal spirituality? Wouldn’t that be empowering? What if you used The Bible and the “heretic” gospels that were not accepted by the Catholic Church as your guide and you were free to interpret them? Would you draw different conclusions? If you removed the influence of your organized religion what would the impact be? Would you think the Crusades were a good idea? Would you think slavery was OK? Would you still think women are second class citizens? Would you care if gays wanted to marry?

The real question is…would you want this responsibility? Would you want to make these choices? Isn’t it easier to point to our organized religions and free ourselves from these decisions? Isn’t it so much easier to go to church – maybe even every Sunday – and shrug our shoulders and say, “I voted for Prop 8 because my church told me God thinks homosexuality is a sin”? Conveniently forgetting that premarital sex is a sin, divorce is a sin, abortion is a sin, theft (even petty theft like taking a pen from your employer) is a sin, extramarital affairs are sins, coveting is a sin, the list goes on…convenient.

Real Christians step up. Educate yourselves. Look beyond your religion and embrace Christ’s teachings for real.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Clearly I Am Not Done Talking About Politics

You know how if someone cuts you off in the toll lane and then gives you a nasty look, as if you did something other than driving like a normal person, you are supposed to feel sorry for him (or her) and not hate him (or her)? Or how if some random stranger is randomly rude to you, you are suppose to love him instead of hate him, because love and hate can’t both live in the same heart and all that? I am not so good at that.

A friend of a friend on Facebook recently made a disgusting remark about Obama, which, it turns out, is a federal offense. See, if you put the name of the president in the same sentence with words like “dead” and “get his” and the future tense, you are going to get all sorts of attention that you might not want.

But that isn’t the point. The point is, why so much name-calling? I’d like to think that if McCain won, I wouldn’t be calling him nasty names and saying that he was a loser and saying that this country is going to hell. Don’t we have better ways to criticize people than to just say “he is such a jerk?” So far Obama really has done nothing but get elected and yet there are many people who just hate him. I mean really hate. I respect our freedom of speech and our American right to express our own opinions, but I just wish that we weren’t already at the name-calling stage. What happened to quiet contempt and momentary solidarity?

I also have a hard time reconciling the fact that if I believe in freedom of speech, then I have to respect the fact that people like, say, that group that wears the white robes and burn crosses, are protected under that and allowed to speak their minds too. Freedom is speech is for everyone, not just those who share my opinions.

I will be the first to admit I am a walking contradiction at times. Maybe I should practice what I preach, because I too am guilty of jumping on the Bush-bashing bandwagon. But who hasn’t? Not that that makes it right. Perhaps I have resorted to name-calling aspersions a few too many times. Bush’s approval ratings are the worst ever, and the lowest of any president since the rating system was invented. I should be more specific with my comments. I could go in to detail how his long list of Executive Orders befuddles me. How the fact that he was even signing so many executive orders (which requires no congressional approval….what happened to checks and balances?) scares me because how is that not abuse of power? I could talk about how Bush created permanent military bases in Iraq, and how that seems to indicate intentions better than any speech could. I could talk about how he mislead the country about the dangers in Iraq. I could talk again about that dirty word hegemony and how Bush’s hegemonic ways are frightening. But there are entire sections in libraries devoted to hegemony and presidential power abuse. I feel woefully underinformed. And sometimes it is just easier to skip the library visit and say “idiot” and hope for a better future.

Obama has a long road ahead. He has to prove himself to every single person in this country and even the world. Me, I am waiting to see what he does. I am watching for small signs of change, little acts and indications that reveal the direction of his administration. For example, where will the Obama girls be going to school come January? Once upon a time, education was a huge election year issue. That has been pushed way down the list, thanks to war and economy and energy and other pressing issues. Will the girls be heading to public school? Or will it be private school for them? I don’t understand how the government can justify not taking drastic action to improve education, because sending their kids to private school is an admission in itself that what the public gets isn’t good enough for the rich and privileged. That in itself it admitting that the education system is bad and that many, many children are being left behind, despite having an entire committee in Washington to prevent just that. Obama will earn some respect from me if he sends his girls to public school and puts educational reform on the agenda. What a message that would send to America. (The last president to send is children to public school, by the way, was Carter. Bush and Clinton didn’t think public school was good enough for their kids, I guess.)

After that, all he has to do is fix the economy; fix Wall Street; repair Main Street; shore up American jobs; figure out what to do about the Middle east; figure out what to do about North Korea; figure out what to do about Israel; find a immigration solution; find an education solution; find an energy solution; find a gay marriage solution; find a solution to the climate crisis; find a way to make everyone happy with health care; find a solution for social security; find a tax plan that pleases all; find a way to end poverty and create a better life for every single American. Not too much, right?

I am going to a Prop 8 rally here on Wednesday with Nicole and the girls and a few friends. Should be interesting, since it starts at the girls’ bedtime. I am trying to come up with a good sign. “Prop Hate” seems to cliché already. And “Did WE vote on YOUR right to marry” seems rather contentions, no? I am really sad that this passed, even if only by a narrow margin. The fact still remains that about half of the people are against my right to marry. Ok. So here I am trying again to understand the other side of this. I am trying to put myself into someone else’s shoes and understand why my marriage would scare them or threaten them or go against their religious beliefs. I am having a really, really hard time. I mean, I get the religious beliefs thing, but I feel like if you are going to use the bible as your justification, then you better be following the bible to the letter, including following all those commandments. Very few of us can claim that. Maybe I dislike contradictions so much in others because I dislike them in myself.

Today is the type of day when I just feel a little defeated, a little overwhelmed, a little foggy and very unfocused. The news is focused on an eight-year-old who admit to premeditated murder and a fourteen-year old girl’s throat who was slashed in her bedroom by someone she met online. That pretty much sums it up. It is the kind of day when I think retail therapy will improve my state of mind but it never does. And yet, and this is a big yet, I am so grateful for what I have. Nicole, the girls, our home, our life. I love my life and all that I have been given, and I am trying to focus on that more. See that? I am one giant walking contradiction.

I want to write more but the girls are playing in the bathroom and that spells disaster with a capital D.

Pictured above, look at that belly!! And below that, looks who’s finally watching Sesame Street. They look like zombies, no? I really don’t want them to watch TV too much and yet I want them to have a solid distraction so I can do things like this blog. See? There’s that contradiction thing again.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New Morning; A New Country; and Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame!

I am stunned. Even though I thought this might happen, it still rocks me. Did he really just win? This victory belongs to me, dammit. Obama said it himself.

His speech last night, well, what can say? I cried a little and was moved and inspired and felt like I need to go out and volunteer and pay my taxes and not complain. I loved that he acknowledged gay Americans. In my little dream world, I imagine he was a little silent about this ever-growing and often ignored or avoided segment of our population for most of his campaign for fear of scaring off the homophobic, who are, sadly, another ever-growing segment of our population who sometimes have a louder bullhorn. But then, in his first speech, he mentions gay Americans (and straight, to be fair). That is kind of a big deal, people.

When Joe Biden came out at the end, I had this moment of Wow. I can’t really explain but suddenly I thought, I like this guy. I barely paid attention to him during this ultra-long campaign, since there was so much focus on Palin and Obama and McCain. There is a little swarmy on him for some reason, but still, I looked at him and though he could grow on me.

Speaking of Palin, I am afraid that McCain’s loss will be blamed on her. This is the second presidential campaign that featured a female VP to fail miserably. This is not good for women. If they won, I always said I will focus on how great it is to have a woman in the White House (annex). I may not agree with, oh, anything she says, but love that she made history in her own way, and helped fifty percent of the population (that’s us women) in doing so.

However, Obama’s speech did have that committee-written feel to it. I think all speeches should be delivered from a sitting position, with feet up on an ottoman. I loved what he said, but, like all speeches, it just had that sort of memorized soliquy feel. I love off-the-cuff. I though McCain did a great job on his speech. When he tried to hush the booing crowd, I though, this is a great man.

I learned a lot in this election. I also learned that I need to lower my expectations. Me, I just want everything: I want the poor happy, the rich happy, the in-between happy. I want social programs that work and tax benefits that are fair. I want a strong military and money spent on security. I want Medicare and Medicaid to work and I want all Americans to have health care (I am not sure socialized medicine is the way to go, but we need to figure it out already). I want social security to do just this: Provide security. I want fair minimum wage. I want educational equality. I want roads and stop signs and police officers and want to know that if there is a fire in my apartment, a fire truck and able-bodied men and women will be there within two minutes. And, if possible, I want to pay not taxes and make no sacrifices. Is that too much to ask? I loved this quote, uploaded by a friend of mine on Facebook: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." (Gerald Ford)

On a fifteen-minutes-of-fame note, I walked over to Roc Center with the girls this morning to see the ice rink map. We were on the show! Al Roker came over to me and asked me what the girls names were. Of course, I fumbled it! And then a producer came over to me and asked if I wanted to be on a trivia segment with Kathie Lee at 10:30. I said yes, why not, went home (I had an hour to get ready), felt like I was going to throw up and called Nicole for back-up support. I am not the type that relishes that sort of attention: I can’t even open presents in front of people! Nicole left work to accompany me…and she ended up on the segment too! Kathie Lee talked to us off camera for a while and she was very nice. Sadly, we got the question wrong, but I say it was a trick question. I wanted that damn gift card! More on that later…

I just spell checked this and had to add “Obama” to my dictionary. Wow.

Pictured above, kimono pajamas are adorable as well as dangerous. This is what Avery looked like one morning when she woke up. Not only does it look uncomfortable, it looks like she can choke herself. So these pajamas are relegated to lounge wear. So be careful, because I never thought of “kimono pajamas” as “killing pajamas.” Also pictured, pride flags. Go America.

Monday, November 03, 2008

This Post is Completely Plagiarized: With Apologies/Gratitude to C.

This post is completely plagiarized; words and ideas stolen from a dead woman, no less. Recently a woman in our building died and Nicole and I went to her funeral. The minister delivered a beautiful sermon that he said was actually an email sent to him by the deceased woman (before she died, obviously!). It was so moving and humbling and well said. I emailed the priest and asked him if he could email me the sermon. I really wanted to save it and reread it when I was having One Of Those Days. He never responded. Discouraging.

I decided to recreate it myself, in the same spirit and general outline, because the message is important for me to remember. So this is her dream, her ideas and her message; I am just the messenger.

It starts out with a dream. C., who was dying of cancer, dreamt that she was getting a tour of heaven. Her angel guide took her to a huge room, miles and miles and miles long. It was filled with millions of angels working hard. C. asked what this room was and her angel guide responded: “This is the prayer receiving department. This is the place where the prayers of the people of the world go. The prayers are organized here.” Then the angel guide took C. to a second room, equally as large, but twice as busy. C. asked what this room was. Her angel guide responded: “This is the prayer fulfillment department. All of these angels are busy working on answering people’s prayers.” The guide then took C. to a third room. This room was small, tiny even, with a single desk and one single angel sitting at it. “What room is this?” C. asked. “Well,” said her guide said, “This is the Acknowledgment Department. This is the place where people’s appreciation and thanks are received. It only needs one part time worker.”

That was the general gist of it. Maybe this wasn’t really a dream of hers, but rather perhaps an allegory that is passed around religious circles to remind people to Thank God or whoever they worship. Maybe it is an internet spam message, like that “wear Sunblock” graduation speech. Regardless, it moved me, it resonated in me. The message is clear: Many of us want want want and when we get, we lack appreciation. And many of us are not grateful for what we already have.

To illustrate her point, C. went on to list so eye-opening statistics. I wasn’t able to remember all of them (I had to research each one here to get the proper percentages) but, again, this is the gist of it:

• If you have internet access, consider yourself part of an elite crowd: Only 10 percent of the world’s population can claim access.

• If you live on more than $1.25 a day, consider yourself lucky: 1.4 billion (that’s 25 percent of developing country populations) live on less than $1.25 a day. Think of that the next time you spend five buck on a grande something at Starbucks.

• If you have a working toilet at your disposal, you are privileged: 2.6 billion of the world’s citizens have no toilets and no access to toilets.

• If you have running water, you are lucky: One in two of the world’s population don’t have running water. Think of that the next time to step into a shower.

• If you have ever used a phone, you are indeed privileged: Half of the people in this world have never made a phone call. And to think most of us have cell phones, land lines and Blackberries at our disposal.

• If you own or lease a car or have access to a car, then you are part of the 9 percent of the world’s population that can claim that. 91 percent of the world’s population do not have a car or have access to a car.

• If you have the ability to further your education, you are in an elite crowd: About 25 percent of the world’s population have a bachelors degree and nine percent have a Masters degree.

The things I take for granted are the things that make me one of the lucky. I bitch about washing dishes, but who knew that running water is such a rare commodity? In theory, I know this, but it is easy to forget about the rest of the world. We don’t see true poverty that much in our neck of the world.

I’d like to think I am a grateful person. I am grateful for my two daughters: As a woman who never thought that she would get pregnant and stay pregnant and who tried for years to get pregnant, I am still shocked that I have two living, breathing babies in my life. I am grateful for Nicole and our home and my life. I am grateful for health, but don’t like to think about it, for fear of jinxing us. I am grateful that I am not visiting loved ones in a cancer hospital or worrying about paying the electric bill or wondering how to afford food. But I am not a saint and this gratitude often gets buried. How do we unbury this? How do we eschew this sense of entitlement or this false sense of need and this disease of more more more?

C.’s ultimate message was that none of us are promised more than this very moment, and we need to be grateful for that, and we need to be grateful for all that we have already been given, because if we started to keep score, we would realize we all already have a lot.

Pictured above, the girls on their Stone Ponies. And below that, the awesome Pink, at a live show she gave in NYC on Halloween. I really need (there is that “need” word again….) a zoom lens. Her new album is awesome.