About Dru

Clear eyes. Full hearts. Drink booze.

Emotional Baggage: A Packing Guide

I am going to Greece in six days. I’ll be there for a week and a half, working as a Carry the Future volunteer distributing baby carriers and infant/toddler supplies to refugees arriving by boat. I’ve compiled my packing list with military-like precision, which must be a laughable statement to anyone who knows me well. I will weigh my checked luggage down to the ounce, and if I’m lucky, I’ll have a few small cracks in my carry-on to fill with plush toys and lollipops.

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What I don’t know is how the hell to pack for the emotional journey. Like many of my friends, I experience almost daily meltdowns after I watch video clips of starving children in Syria or families reunited in refugee camps. I’ve become accustomed to wiping away tears, taking a deep breath, and moving on. We Americans, we’re pros at compartmentalizing. Shit, we’re the creators of a place called the Container Store. But those are images on a screen, not flesh and bone people who have suffered and have only just begun their journey.

My desire to make this trip was born of a ridiculous-sounding goal: I wanted to hug some Syrian families. As my red state governor enthusiastically joined the “No Syrian ISIS Terrorists Can Resettle in MY State” B.S. train, I felt compelled to embody a human pendulum. I wanted to swing as far as possible from the hatred that surrounded me. “We’re not all like that,” I want to tell the refugees I meet. “We care about you and your beautiful children. We will help you find safety. We will love you into a feeling of acceptance and hopefulness.” I straight up want to hug these men, women and kids who have suffered so much, as if I can somehow transfer my empathy via touch.

I’m one person, and a flawed specimen at that. I’m worried I’ll cry at inappropriate times. I’ll probably offend someone accidentally. I’m definitely not confident in my ability to master the mechanics of 12 varieties of baby carriers. My feet will hurt. The rain will make me sneeze. I’ll miss my children, my husband, my dogs, my friends. But hopefully, I will also realize how Goddamn lucky I am. Not just because I was born in peacetime in a democracy. Not because I’ve got enough (ahem, too much) food and a warm bed. Rather, because I have the opportunity to do something. Friends and relatives and total strangers helped me buy a plane ticket. Packages of relief supplies arrive in my mail every day. My community has blown my mind, and in the midst of this global crisis has reminded me of the awesome organizing power of good people with good intentions.

The best antidote to hopelessness is action. We know this. Research backs this up. My mom even wrote a book on this topic. I’m getting my turn to take action next week, and it’s a privilege even if it’s scary as hell. Your turn is next. Make it great.

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One Last Shameless Plug…

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My recent essay about my brother has hit the Huffington Post! I’d love it if you’d read and share it. As I’ve told several friends, I’m paid only in readers, so I’d like as many as possible. Cheers!

(Also it just might help you get through the holidays with a little less drama…)

Oh Brother, Who Art Thou?

Justine_and_Jason_Bateman1Today I invite you to saunter on over to Tue/Night, where I’ve published an article about one of my favorite people on earth, who happens to be the person on earth I have the most complicated relationship with, who happens to be a dead ringer for Bradley Cooper, who makes me laugh so hard I pee my pants yet makes me crazy with his political beliefs.

My brother.

An Antidote to Helplessness (I Hope)

This afternoon I took my sons swimming, eager to help them savor one of the last hot days of summer. They shot their cousins with water guns (thanks a lot mom, I’ve managed to keep them away from toy weapons for six years, and you walk past the clearance rack at Walgreens ONE TIME…) and, when we wearied of the pool, the boys picked fresh raspberries and gobbled them, juice dribbling down their chins. (No, I do not live in a Norman Rockwell painting; it was just one of those top-10 days.)

Raspberry-Picking-5Because I had this day, I want to share some information about Syrian refugees and how you and I can help. We all know we’re lucky, and this week’s gutwrenching photo of the drowned toddler brought that knowledge home to roost in a major way. Our village may be punch drunk, but it’s still a village, replete with creature comforts, security, friendship and compassion. So please, indulge me in this departure from pop culture and snark. Soon enough, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming. Continue reading

6 Parents You Meet on the First Day of School

It happened. With all the ceremony of the onset of menses or a new season of The Good Wife streaming on Amazon Prime, so it was decreed that I must strap my firstborn into a too-big backpack and trundle him off to kindergarten, or as Mr. Dru likes to call it, “The beginning of institutionalization.”

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Dru and son on the first day of kindergarten, 2015.

Unlike our overeager district, I realize most of the U.S. doesn’t begin the new academic year in what could reasonably be referred to as early-August. That’s good news for my fellow newbies, because in addition to logging a few more hours in the end-of-summer more-urine-than-water public swimming pool, there’s still time to prepare yourself for an important ritual: seeking out the A-List parents at school.

You need these people. They will host the best play dates and parties, sneak flasks into vocal music concerts and refer you to the brilliant illegal parking place that’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the school’s back door. We at Punch Drunk Village believe in giving back, and so for your quick reference, I’ve categorized the types of parents you’re likely to encounter on the first day of school. Remember: choose your friends carefully, and your frenemies extra carefully.   Continue reading

Live to Tell

madonnatb23I’m in awesome company on Tue/Night this week, in a little round-up of 15 women writers sharing their Madonna “Life Moments.” Check it out, and while you’re at it, share your Madge moments here in the comments.

(Or just post pictures of her flawlessness. Because.)

(OR quote your favorite line from her children’s book, “The English Roses.” Said no one ever.)

The Most Dangerous Game II: Avenging Cecil

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Author’s note: Please enjoy this stock photo of a golden, statuesque lion. I refuse to re-post the photo of the douchebag dentist who shot and killed 13-year-old Cecil, a beloved lion who lived in a Namibian national park. Every time I encounter that photo of smug, paunchy white guys smirking atop a bloodied, majestic carcass, I want to puke, punch my computer screen, or invest in a bow and arrow and head to the Land of 10,000 Lakes in search of vigilante justice.

When I snuggled up with my laptop last night, I aimed to write a poetic essay about the slaughter of wild animals and our responsibility to the planet, with a little moral outrage and light politicking thrown in for good measure. But, I realized quickly, that essay was going to be a total drag to write and an even bigger drag to read.

Instead, I’ve decided to GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT! And by “the people,” I mean one super brave, courageous and macho dentist from Minnesota. That’s right, Walter James Palmer, this post’s for you! I can tell you’re a guy who likes a challenge. You’re a sportsman with a can-do attitude and a Cabela’s platinum card nestled in your crocodile skin wallet. A man like you needs to feel important. Powerful. And I’m here to help. It’s time we take the volume dial of your life and crank it to 11. Continue reading