Tag Archives: birthday

Happy Birthday, Noni


Before you were born, and right before we moved to Indiana, mommy and daddy sat my three-year-old butt down for chat one morning. I doubt my memory is accurate, but I remember gathering near the big TV on a brown rug, mommy in a floral nightgown.  There was another baby growing inside of my mommy, and in a few months, I’d have someone new to play with.

I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. There’s no way something like that could really happen, I told them.  But mommy’s belly grew and I finally had to acknowledge that something was going on. Since I was pretty little myself, I convinced myself that you would be my twin (because I didn’t actually understand what twins were, obviously) and that we would be inseparable.  We would have a bond that was unbreakable and we’d know each others thoughts and always be there for one another.  I remember imagining all of the fun adventures we would have together and getting so excited for you to come out and play with me!

The day you were born was freezing cold and an ice storm. Mommy and daddy dropped me off at a friends house with all the things I’d need to spend the night, but you were born so quickly I didn’t need to spend the night. You came home soon afterwards, and there you were, my “twin” baby brother, in all your glory.  Mommy and daddy said you peed on all the nurses when you came out.

Since then, we’ve had our ups and downs. We tortured each other growing up as most brothers and sisters do — me, getting you in trouble so you’d get your mouth washed out with soap; you, scratching my eyeball so I’d have to wear an eye patch; me, tattling on you when you smooched with your first “girlfriend”; you, always insisting on hanging out with me and my friends.  We’ve had years where we’ve grown closer and years where we’ve been far apart in both distance and emotionally.

But, through everything, you’ve always been my little brother and I’ve always loved you and wanted to protect you in such a fierce way. When you broke your wrist, I remember thinking when you fell that you were crying for attention. As you ran towards my friends house and our mom, you let out this blood-curdling scream and I dropped everything I was doing and ran after you. I knew something was very wrong. I remember coming home after a long afternoon at the hospital with you and seeing your homework assignment on the table: “This is what my  name looks like with my left hand.” And then your name was scrawled out in awkward, big letters across the page. I burst into tears, because you had just broken your left wrist and I was so sad that you wouldn’t be able to use it for so long, afraid you’d fall behind in learning.  I wished so hard that it hadn’t happened to you, felt like if I had watched you better it wouldn’t have happened. I promised myself I’d never let you hurt like that again. I know I haven’t managed to follow through on that promise, but I still try my damnedest.

I love being a part of your life, watching you learn and grow. I loved helping you with stupid homework assignments, and when you’d come to visit me in college. I loved discovering how to make dumplings and scallion pancakes with you, fashioning together a weird makeshift steamer in my college apartment and then feasting on our delicacies. I loved coming to visit you during culinary camp and while you went to college. I loved screaming as loud as I could with mommy at your high school graduation, and sneaking in noisemakers for your college graduation.  I loved meeting the love of your life.  And I’ll love seeing you get married, open your first restaurant, buy your first house.

Life hasn’t been easy for you, and at times you’ve struggled with that, but you’ve always triumphed over all of it. I always knew you would. I always tell people that you’re my favorite person and it’s true. I admire you and your perseverance and your strength.  I am so proud of what a smart,hardworking, passionate  and truly kind person you’ve blossomed into — so proud, sometimes, that it makes me feel as if I’ll burst at the seams with all of it when I talk about you or mention to someone how you’re doing.  You’ve grown into the most amazing person I know and I’m so lucky to be able to call you my “twin.”

Happy 23rd Birthday, Noni!  I hope this year brings you so much joy.

All my love,




Bucket Lists


A couple years ago, I decided to start writing down all of the things I wanted to do during my lifetime and then reviewing that list each October around my birthday to see what I’ve accomplished and what I want to update or change.  I try to keep the list to 50 items, or it seems to get unwieldy and a little fantastical.

It’s fun to see what you’ve done with yourself over the course of a year, what you’ve worked towards and haven’t yet achieved, and what you may have changed your mind about. Sometimes things make it on the list because of a phase you’re going through, or the particular group of people you’re hanging out with a lot at the time, and you look at it a year later and go “huh? Who wrote that down?”
In any case, here is the list, in all it’s glory. The crossed out items are things I’ve actually managed to do!

My Life List

  1. run a Boston Qualifying marathon (and then, run Boston)
  2. own my own wellness-related business
  3. learn to play the guitar
  4. visit all 50 states
  5. write a book
  6. be conversational in 2 or 3 languages (Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Greek…)
  7. live in a house with a fireplace
  8. go on an adventure abroad with my brother
  9. live in another country for 6 months or more
  10. have an inspiring and functional space devoted to creation and meditation
  11. take a photography class
  12. learn to bake with the same instinct with which I cook
  13. Travel to at least: Thailand, Hong Kong, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Scotland France, the Maldives, Spain, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Australia, India and Germany.
  14. plant and maintain a vegetable, herb and flower garden
  15. ski a double black diamond with confidence and know-how
  16. get in the habit of baking my own bread and making my own pasta
  17. Dinner at the French Laundry
  18. learn to really dance (swing, tap,belly, hip hop, ballroom)
  19. skydive
  20. have my picture in a magazine
  21. establish a yearly vacation tradition with my best friends — WORKING ON THIS!
  22. become a yoga teacher and/or personal trainer
  23. be the keynote speaker at a conference
  24. learn to sew and actually make things for people
  25. have a job that excites me and challenges me almost every single day
  26. see the Northern Lights
  27. have a yearly party that all of our friends and family get excited to attend
  28. learn to be more confident and work on my self-image
  29. officiate a wedding ceremony
  30. practice random acts of kindness whenever possible
  31. swim with dolphins, preferably in the wild
  32. memorize 3 or 4 really good dishes so I don’t have to use the recipes anymore
  33. do some sort of work with animals (for example, help baby sea turtles get to the ocean, wash ducks and otters with DAWN after an oil spill, raise seeing eye dogs)
  34. fly in a helicopter (not for medical reasons)
  35. taste 100 different kinds of cheese
  36. have a wine cellar
  37. send cards to all the people I love for every birthday, anniversary and special event in their lives
  38. take a hot air balloon ride
  39. learn how to do mosaic tiling and make a mosaic fireplace or outdoor oven
  40. host Thanksgiving
  41. learn to play Bridge
  42. Publish an article in a big magazine (Bon Appetit, Self, Vogue)
  43. Create a signature cocktail
  44. Teach myself to do 10 pull-ups
  45. make scrapbooks for each year and special ones for special events — ONGOING PROJECT, BUT SO FAR, SO GOOD
  46. learn to parallel park for real (yes, this is really on here) and learn to drive stick
  47. own a beach house
  48. learn to draw and/or paint
  49. take some graphic design/web design classes
  50. learn to ride the Vespa
  51. Run a sub-20 minute 5k
  52. Get better at saving money
  53. Get a Master’s degree or PhD (or both)
  54. Write something every day for a year (then, hopefully, it will be such a habit, you’ll continue)
  55. Learn how to do some basic “handy” stuff around the house and for my car
  56. Complete an Ironman (and all the associated training)
  57.  Hug a penguin

What’s on your “bucket list?” What wonderful things have you already accomplished?