The Nearness Of You

One of my best friends got married recently.

She warned a group of us before the wedding.

I’m really worried I’m going to get really overwhelmed by missing my mom at the wedding. I know I’m gonna cry…

And at the wedding she did. We all did. All of New York City wept.

And she kept apologizing for it.

I searched for the words for days after. What I would have wanted to hear.

Enjoy this feeling. This is the closest you can be to her anymore. This is the moment her memory is fieriest within you. This is the moment her spirit is embracing you. This feeling of missing her is the strongest rope between you now. Seeing her in your day today is a blessing. Even if the only way you see her is through words or tears. Feel it and see it and remember it as long and as hard as you can.

Death, Feelings

Voting Without Dad

The last good day I had with my dad was voting day 2012.

He loved voting. Loved politics. Loved talking big ideas.

I still have the Ford/Dole pin that he proudly wore to the polls that day.

“You can’t wear that inside, Sir.”

“Oh, yes I can. You see it’s a bit outdated.”

He wasn’t walking so well but I guess he had timed his medications that morning so that he would have maximum energy to get out of the house and to the local school. I remember buckling and unbuckling him in the car, pulling him out of it when we got there. I remember him putting both his hands on my shoulders, as he often did, and using me as a more size-appropriate walker.

I stopped to take a picture outside with the “Vote Aqui” sign.

Then we went inside. My dad, clearly the gentlest giant in the land, always attracted attention. Every little old lady in the gymnatorium wanted to help direct us.

“My daughter will take my ballot. To the booths!”

I filled out both of our ballots the same.

“Just straight down Democratic.”

And then I walked us to the machine that scans the paper ballot, collected our stickers and we went home.

He had a heart attack two weeks later.

I know I saw him in those two weeks. I must have, I was living with him. But I don’t have any memories of it. I was running off to work, sleeping over with friends, living my own life which he never seemed to begrudge me.

He died the day before Thanksgiving that year and my aunt and uncle came as soon as they heard.

“Well I guess dinner tomorrow is off.”

“Why on earth would we cancel Thanksgiving? That won’t help anything.”

It was a weird thanksgiving but aren’t all family holidays? I expected all following Thanksgivings to be hard but the next one snuck up on me. And the next, and the next. Much the same way that you’re always surprised at the answer you have to give when people ask how old your little siblings are now.

But voting for president, that’s something I never envisioned doing without talking to my dad about it.

So, Happy Quadrennial-iversary, Dad. I know that somewhere you’re really amused by all of this. Just write down all the jokes you’re coming up with, I’ll read them later.



The Bullet

I Imagine that every bullet knows where it will be spent. At it’s creation. It knows its fate and knows that every moment until then is just foreshadowing, biding it’s time.

The Bullet, an ensemble member with nothing to separate her from the rest but a poof of curls at the top of her head, morphs not only into a Greek Chorus member, but into a signal of death approaching until she eventually (historical spoiler alert:) approaches Hamilton at the end of the show as an embodiment of the shot that killed him.

At the start, the Bullet is indistinguishable from her fellow ensemble members. Most of the ensemble steps into the spotlight a couple times, though, as everything from named historical figures like Samuel Seabury and James Reynolds to small speaking roles, and the Bullet is no different. After “You’ll Be Back,” she steps forward for the first time as a spy receiving a letter, only to have her neck snapped by a redcoat and become the first death of the revolution. However, unlike the rest of the ensemble, who return to the anonymous chorus until their next role, the Bullet never seems to leave that first moment behind. Her next appearance as a singular character is in “Stay Alive,” when she becomes the actual Bullet for the first time as she passes Hamilton by at the sound of the gunshot at the top of the song, and from that moment on, every second she is allowed the audience’s full or even partial attention, she becomes a harbinger of death.

Though her connection to death is most apparent in Act II, she is absolutely present and aware of his role as the Bullet from the beginning. When asked about playing the Bullet in an interview with “The Great Discontent,” Ariana DeBose, the original Bullet, said, “I always know I’m aiming for him—even if the rest of the ensemble members don’t. So even if I’m just a lady in a ball gown at a party, there’s still a part of my character that knows that that moment is going to come.” Even when the spotlight is not on her, every moment the Bullet is onstage has significance. Whether it’s in “My Shot,” when the ensemble unfreezes one by one as Hamilton moves toward them during his first recitation of the “I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory” monologue and the Bullet is the last one to move, her hand still outstretched toward Hamilton as he steps in front of her, or it’s in “Ten Duel Commandments,” when the ensemble lines up between Hamilton and Burr, singing, “Pick a place to die where it’s high and dry,” and the Bullet places herself directly at Hamilton’s side, the connection between them is already being formed. Knowing that the Bullet is fully aware of the final meeting she and Hamilton are hurtling toward makes the short moment in “Ten Duel Commandments” when Hamilton looks at her lining up beside him, the only time he ever seems to truly see her before his final moments, and the pair stand side by side for numbers six and seven of the Commandments, moving through the choreography in sync, feel hugely significant in a way it never would otherwise.

Several songs later, during “Yorktown,” she kills a redcoat with Laurens in South Carolina. They celebrate for a brief moment before she returns to the ensemble, and the show moves on. It until three songs later that the audience and Hamilton learn that Laurens was shot and killed in South Carolina not long after the fighting ended. It is a short and easily dismissed interaction, but this is the first moment that her actions are entwined in someone’s death. This quick look the Bullet and Laurens share in “Yorktown” begins to feel like Laurens sealing his fate with a handshake in retrospect.

This quick tie the Bullet forms with a person as they are about to die becomes extremely important in the second act, when she really steps into her role as the Bullet. Her spoken lines, though few, are particularly significant, as every one of them eventually leads to someone getting shot – namely, Philip and Hamilton. In “Blow Us All Away,” she tells Philip exactly where to find George Eaker, the man who will kill him, singing, “I saw him just up Broadway, couple of blocks. He was going to see a play.” Philip follows her directions and challenges him to the duel that will kill him. Her only other spoken line is as one of Burr’s supporters in “The Election of 1800,” when she says, “I can’t believe we’re here with him” and flashes Burr a large, hopeful smile. Burr leaves the exchange with a fist pump, believing he has the election in the bag, only to have that hope ripped away when Hamilton’s support of Jefferson leads to him losing the presidency and challenging Hamilton to the duel the whole show has been foreshadowing. At the start of “Your Obedient Servant,” when Burr actually challenges Hamilton, the Bullet actually pulls Burr’s desk onto the stage and hands him his quill so that he can begin his fateful letters, edging his toward the battlefield. Every action she takes ensures that Hamilton meets her one last time.

Once she has successfully gotten the pair to pull their guns on each other’s, she appears for a final time as the actual bullet, slowly approaching Hamilton throughout the entirety of his final monologue and coming dangerously close to him as he moves, scatter-brained, across the stage. Halfway through, he steps right in her path, turns back and stumbles out of the way, and as he frantically repeats, “Rise up, rise up, rise up,” she lunges for him, only to be pulled back by another ensemble member as Eliza steps in her path. Once Hamilton has been shot, she joins the ensemble once again, satisfied that the path she’s been on since the beginning has come to an end.

The Piece Of Foreshadowing In ‘Hamilton’ That Everyone Misses (Odyssey Online) [x]

I enjoy that mental image at least. Slightly terrifying as it may be.

Death, Feelings, food

Cooking For One-ish

I’ve been cooking and baking a lot this summer. It was a goal I set for myself in the spring and I’m really glad I’ve stuck to it. I’ve actually even started to (gasp) like it.

It makes me feel like my dad is watching me.

My biggest association with cutting vegetables is my dad telling me that they were or weren’t small enough. Watching him curl his fingertips back when cutting an onion so he didn’t hurt himself.

It feels so fantastically self indulgent, spending that time alone in the kitchen with my memories of him. Hunching over the garlic and feeling like he’s come back just to look over my shoulder again and tell me to just keep them in large slices and not minced.

It feels like a step of sorts.


Death, Feelings

The Power Of Your Tears

How to Look Like You Weren’t Just Crying in Less Than Five Minutes

At thanksgiving this year it’ll be 4 years since my dad died. A lot of things in my life have gone better and worse in that time. Even though I feel like everything I write here about him is sad I actually feel pretty good about where and when he left us.

This is the only way he would have ever seen any of the shows I’ve worked on and been proud of.

It isn’t great but there are silver linings.

And one of those silver linings is that in the last four years I’ve finally learned how to cry properly. Don’t get me wrong, I cried before he died, I’m sure, probably, I must have.

But now I’ve learned how to (‘enjoy’ is the wrong word) appreciate it, experience it in a transitory way, not get mired down in it, use it as a cathartic release.

Before he died I hated crying, I resented the mere fact of it and anyone who I caught being so weak as to do it. I resented any time that I would be subjected to it by my own self (or anyone else for that matter). I would scrunch up my face and hold my breath, I would immediately have a massive headache from my meager and herculean attempts to thwart the inevitable. I would need a nap or be forced to walk around the rest of the day feeling completely spent and useless, volatile, a power plant permanently stuck at the moment before the meltdown.

Now I just do it. In my living room, on the subway, in Times Square, wherever I happen to be reading a book. And then it’s done. I almost take pride in how a puppy food commercial can leave me with a pretty little pearl down my cheek.

I had to learn that crying doesn’t make you lesser because the tears made their way out. It isn’t a trick designed to leave you depleted. It’s a thing you can use to your advantage. You can use this thing to feel better, the way that doctors advise masturbation as an aide for menstrual cramps.

Lean into it.

Dating, Death, Media

Here’s to How I Met Your Mother and Living Long Lives

At this point I’m going to assume that everyone either has seen the finale of How I Met Your Mother because you just couldn’t stop watching no matter how hard you tried, or that you just seriously don’t care. So, fair warning on spoilers.

I didn’t really enjoy watching the finale. It was like a lot of television finales, a lot of exposition, a lot of information to choke down, a lot of endings to tie up. You’re sitting there checking them off your list more than you’re enjoying the show. It’s kind of the opposite of the pilot episode, everything takes work, nothing is easy.

But that’s what happens with most finales.

I really really enjoyed the moral of the finale.

I really enjoyed going to bed afterwards thinking about how even larger than the ending itself, larger than the story about these characters, the ending was actually about how you can love more than one person in a lifetime. How you can still be with someone who doesn’t want the things that were so important to you because life is long and circumstances change. And everyone deserves a third act.

Do I care about the fantasy lives of these made up characters in their fantasy future? Of course not. It’s a TV show.

Do I care about the idea that there is life after the loss of a loved one? Yes.

Do I care about the idea that you can want kids and still end up with both kids, and the person you love who doesn’t want kids because a life is a long thing and things happen and circumstances change?


Yes, I do care about that.

So, yeah, I loved the ending. It was exactly what Ted “She’ll be perfect” Mosby would have wanted and also what Me “Please lower your expectations because you’re stressing me out” Myself would have wanted.

At the same time we saw that love can be instantaneous, like Ted has always professed, and can also take a lifetime, like us cynics have always wanted to scream at him.

Ted has always believed that he would get that perfect The One You Spend Your Life With one day, and it turned out that in MacLaren’s, just like in the real world, sometimes you don’t get TOYSYLW, you just get Love. Good capital-L Love with all the people who deserve it.

Because eventually everything and everyone will come and go.

So you might as well love everything and everyone you can while you can.

Death, Feelings, Grief

Remember: You Are Not Your Emotion

I’ve led a pretty emotionally privileged life. I’ve never battled mental illness, anxiety disorders, the problems that a lot of my favorite humans have faced.

The only time I’ve ever had to use this kind of manual to my own emotions was in the year after I lost my dad. In the beginning every feeling I felt seemed so overwhelming. Guilt, sadness, anger. Whichever one was around took over my entire brain and body. I became the guilt, I was walking sadness, I was the embodiment of anger.

Recently a friend of mine lost her father and I called her to talk about it. She described her feelings of guilt and it was like having a phone call with my past self. I didn’t have it written down at the time but the way I finally learned to deal with my emotions was basically discovering this flow. Like it’s yoga.

Back bend, emotion in.

Forward fold, notice the emotion.

Half up, feel the emotion.

Forward fold, do you know why the emotion?

Plank, name the emotion.

Upward facing dog, accept the emotion.

Down dog, emotion out.

Like a wave. In and out.

Otherwise living in each emotion, letting them consume you, well; they’ll consume you.


Death, Grief

What Happens After You Die

Today I told my shrink that in the last year since Dad died I’m quicker to anger. It really just feels like all the emotions are just more within reach. I can tap into them all so much easier. When I want to and when I really don’t want to.

And she said that when something big happens and you have a lot of emotions about it, it can throw off your emotional balance. It can make you quicker to anger and sadness and exuberance and love. Every emotion is just a little closer to the surface.

So if you were wondering. Just in case you were curious if everything would be easier if you just weren’t here anymore. The answer is no.

This is what happens after you die. Everyone who loved you changes, some a little and some a lot. Everyone has to learn how to navigate their emotions all over again. Everyone is angry at you and everyone loves you. Everyone is having a lot more feelings than they ever did before, and for the rest of their lives and it isn’t any easier. Not at all.

Death, Feelings

One Year

People are going to say stupid things and you just have to remember they’re doing it out of love and not knowing any better.

A friend of mine just ended his relationship, a relationship that he and his fiancé were expecting to last forever. A relationship that felt so real to an outsider like me that when I heard of it’s demise I literally did a double take.

And a mutual friend of ours who had been in that situation before said to him “People are going to say stupid things and you just have to remember they’re doing it out of love and not knowing any better.”


One of the things I’ve learned so intensely in the last year is that you can’t control what anyone else does. You can’t anticipate what kind of reaction they’re going to have to surprising or upsetting news. You can’t anticipate how they’re going to try to comfort you or whether they’re going to need comforting themselves. You have to be ready to hear the exact right thing or the exact wrong thing at any moment.

And of course it’s always the wrong things that you remember. The people who I wanted to hug me but who instead just stared and let me keep rambling. The friend who told me that her boyfriend was an orphan and joked that she’ll never have to meet his parents.

And the thing I have to remember is that all of these wrong things are just failed attempts at right things made by people trying to show their love.

Even when the words cut like glass it’s this that I have to remember. People are flawed, their attempts are flawed, their words are flawed. But their love is like a diamond. If there are flaws in it they are there to be loved too because they come from a flawed world.

Today I put the Jewish anniversary of my dad’s death (called a yahrzeit) for the next 20 years into my calendar and I’ll tell you what is the most upsetting thing about him being gone, the thing I haven’t told anyone.

If I ever see him again, if I ever get to hear him crack a joke it’ll be literally a lifetime from now. My lifetime. It isn’t that I’ll never see him again, it’s imagining that if on some plane I do see him again it’ll be many, many decades from now. I’ll go the next 50, 80, 100 years before I get to see him smile again. That is the most upsetting thing. And everything else that is upsetting, a (very heavy) pine box being lowered into the earth, a yahrzeit candle, a condolence card, is only upsetting because it’s a reminder of that fact.

So now you know. Now you have a tiny slice of that experience to tuck into your heart and maybe the next time you have a friend going through something you’ve never experienced you can pull out that shard of glass and maybe it’ll help you say a right thing.