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Monday, October 24, 2016

AmyKossBlogThang: Don't Vote Alone!

AmyKossBlogThang: Don't Vote Alone!: Dear Dears, We don't always know ahead what is going to be a big day to remember. My brother, for instance, blew off going to Woodstoc...

Don't Vote Alone!

Dear Dears,

We don't always know ahead what is going to be a big day to remember. My brother, for instance, blew off going to Woodstock with a friend -- not knowing it would be one of the defining events of his generation. I'm sure whatever he did instead is long forgotten and was probably stupid and he has been kicking himself ever since.

Luckily this time we know exactly when history is going to be made, so we won't have to live a life of deep regret like my poor brother.

But as incredibly cool as it will feel to vote on Nov. 8th, this one isn't just for us. It's also about kids like my brother once was -- too young or too dumb to get it. So, it's our job to take their tiny asses to Woodstock.

Bring your wee niece to the polls, your grand-daughter, neighbor kid, god-daughter, the kid you baby-sit, or the kid who babysits your kid. Let her pull the lever and vote for the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT!

And if she's too young to remember... you can remind her relentlessly for the rest of your life.

(Dads, gramps, uncles, pals, of course this goes for you, too. And yes, of course, take the boy kids as well. But, ya know, this one's a Woodstock of a girl thing.)

You were probably already planning to bring a kid, and are rolling your eyes at me, but still -- thanks for listening.

xo Amy

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

AmyKossBlogThang: Amy's In-Law Op-Ed

AmyKossBlogThang: Amy's In-Law Op-Ed: Amy's In-Law Op-Ed
Amy's In-Law Op-
(This op-ed ran in the LA Times on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 20016)


I was not the absolute worst daughter-in-law who ever lived, but I'm probably the last person my mother-in-law would have chosen to paw through her private papers and possessions. Like almost everything else about her death and its after-mess, however, my mother-in-law had very little control in the end.
She tried though. Even at 93, she kept meticulous financial records. She had a legal will, and she secured it in a safe deposit box at her Michigan bank. She even remembered to send the key to her one and only child, my husband, in L.A.
What she failed to anticipate, however, was that even with her death certificate and the safe-deposit-box key in hand, her son would not be allowed near her will until he’d performed a variety of tasks involving bank rules, probate court, blah blah blah and power of attorney.
That took time, which had something to do with how she came to be cremated weeks before we were able to discover that she’d actually wanted to be buried. Also, with how some of her things were disposed of before we learned she'd earmarked them, heir by heir.
Oops. I bet a curse comes with that.
Because my husband had a job he had to return to quickly and I didn’t, and because there was no one else to do it, the task of clearing out her house fell to me.
I started as soon as we arrived: Faced with the contents of the two-story house (plus basement) where my mother-in-law had lived for more than half of her life, I thought about that wildly popular book that suggests we give the heave-ho to any thing we own that doesn't bring us joy. But my mother-in-law's things did bring her joy — they just didn't do the same for me.
I didn't share her taste for things frilly and was utterly flummoxed by her fondness for those beer steins with faces — Toby mugs. As an unsentimental person, I found myself particularly unsentimental about slides from a lifetime of family vacations and birthday parties. I won't even get into my feelings about her fake flower arrangements, or glass whatnots, or clusters of candles. I think it's fair to say that I didn't share my mother-in-law's taste for … well, anything, except perhaps her son.
Were any of us to imagine the scene, we'd all certainly prefer to picture our belongings cradled in loving hands, eliciting sweet reminiscences from bereaved family and friends who give careful thought to their future. Anything but the hasty mercies of an irritated, sleep-deprived, dry-eyed daughter-in-law seething with resentment for being stuck with sorting, donating and pawning. 
The moral of this cautionary tale is don’t alienate or outlive your friends and relations, or maybe, get rid of your stuff while you still can.
When I was a young bride, newly annoyed by my mother-in-law, my father told me that the friction between mothers and daughters-in-law was timeless and innate. He said that I wouldn't understand it until I was a mother.
That irritated the crap out of me and I said so.
But he insisted that no one loves anyone as much as a mother does, which probably made me roll my eyes.
Then he said: “Let me ask you this. If you found out that Mitch (that's my husband) was a violent pedophile who raped little children, would you visit him in prison?”
“Pfft, no way!”
“Ah!” My dad held up his drink in victory. “But if it was your son, you’d visit, and bring him a cake!”
I remembered this conversation as I made my 700th trip upstairs to bring down yet another dusty carousel of old slides. My mother-in-law gave birth to my husband. She loved and raised him. These slides were — I assumed, I still haven’t looked — mostly pictures of him. She did not store these slides on the top shelf of the furthest closet just to torment me. She did so because they were precious to her and gave her joy.
I knew she was still waiting her turn at the crematorium. The idea of simply adding everything she owned to the funeral pyre was wildly tempting. Why not call and ask if I might include a few mementos? Then sneak in the entire contents of her home?
I did not make that call. And I didn't torch her house or dump her slides and doilies and Toby mugs into the local landfill. I just packed them into her car, along with her cremains, and drove back home to L.A. to tuck everything away in a closet for my own daughter-in-law to deal with when the time comes.
xo Amy

Sunday, October 16, 2016

AmyKossBlogThang: THE CALL!

AmyKossBlogThang: THE CALL!: Dear Dears,  If I were going to write a blog today it sure as hell wouldn't be about this turd of an election.  No. I'd wr...


Dear Dears, 

This blog is celebrating the magical, powerful, unpredictable, call of a good novel -- that summons, that lure -- the seductive promise of a sweet (if brief) escape. 

I read a lot. With each first page or first chapter, I hope to be swept up and carried off... But it has been quite a while since a book really grabbed me or called to me from the other room and made me look forward to our time together when all the chores are done. Being filled with that private, delicious, anticipation is such a lovely, simple -- but not at all simple, thing. 

Many books are good enough to pass those last moments between waking and sleeping and ease me from one reality to another. But that's functional, maintenance, better-than-nothing, small r, reading. 

Sometimes I fear that my own life is too dense for a novel to get through, that my inane inner-chatter drowns everything else out. Or worse, that book-lust, too, is a passion for the young. 

Reviews and recommendations are no guarantee. Even books beloved by soul-mates are as likely as not to miss. And so much is predictable and overly familiar.

But then it happens! A novel comes along and takes over my brain, erasing everything else. And even knowing that the words will wait forever if necessary, steadfast and patient on the page -- there is a sense of urgency. 
I know it's backwards. The God of Animals
It keeps me awake, turning pages, barreling through -- but dreading the end. A book that once I've forced myself to put aside, calls to me throughout my day. 

xo Amy

P.S. This blog was inspired by the novel, 'The God of Animals' by Aryn Kyle which called to me for three glorious days. 
P.P.S. My wish for you is to get the call soon and often!

Monday, June 27, 2016

AmyKossBlogThang: Hillary

AmyKossBlogThang: Hillary: Dear Dears, I wrote this op-ed about Hillary supporters. It is in the paper today. I recommend skipping the comments... as always. But Ann...


Dear Dears,
I wrote this op-ed about Hillary supporters. It is in the paper today.
I recommend skipping the comments... as always. But Ann Rice tweeted it, and defended it on her Facebook page! That's pretty cool, don't you think?

Play nice.
xo Amy

P.S. You have to click on the link below -- not the picture.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

AmyKossBlogThang: Spring!

AmyKossBlogThang: Spring!: Birds caught in a love triangle with my rear view mirror -- day three. Happy spring! xo Amy


Birds caught in a love triangle with my rear view mirror -- day three. Happy spring! xo Amy

Thursday, March 3, 2016

AmyKossBlogThang: Glendale 36

AmyKossBlogThang: Glendale 36: My Dears,  Tonight 36 people lined up too early for the Glendale Winter Homeless Shelter. They were less than a half hour early, but th...

Glendale 36

My Dears, 

Tonight 36 people lined up too early for the Glendale Winter Homeless Shelter. They were less than a half hour early, but that was too early for the people in the surrounding businesses so they called the city and complained.

I don’t know how many called, and I don’t know how they worded their complaint. 
There are homeless people outside and I don’t want to look at them? 
There are homeless people outside and I’m afraid that their homelessness will rub off on me? 
If I am forced to share the sidewalk with them, even briefly, my carefully constructed life of safety and security will instantly dissolve? 
There are homeless people outside and the sight of them will drive away my clients? 
You promised that if we let you have a shelter near our business we would never have to actually see homeless people in real life? 

Whatever the caller(s) said worked so well that the person in charge of such things for the city insisted that the early birds be barred from entering the shelter tonight. No dinner. No bathroom. No cot. The city’s position was that spending the night on the street would teach the early arrivers never to be early again. 

Never mind why they’d lined up early. After spending the day being shooed out of the parks if they fell asleep, shooed out of coffee houses for monopolizing tables, out of stores for lingering, out of doorways for looking untidy, who wouldn’t be eager to settle somewhere in peace? 

But that pales in importance compared to the complaints of the callers.

The people who run the shelter said the punishment outweighed the crime. They begged for mercy for the 36 but were denied. The Book Ladies, (me an my daughter) thought the city was being gratuitously cruel; another case of the bullies tormenting the powerless. Even the Glendale police thought the plan was stupid and mean.

None the less 36 women and men were turned away tonight to wander the streets, while 36 dinners went uneaten and 36 cots stand empty. 

Ashamed of my town.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

AmyKossBlogThang: Musical Ambush

AmyKossBlogThang: Musical Ambush: A s a kid I didn’t mind my poppa practicing violin at home, or his friends coming over to play chamber music, and I loved it when he sa...

Musical Ambush

As a kid I didn’t mind my poppa practicing violin at home, or his friends coming over to play chamber music, and I loved it when he sat down at the piano, because it meant he was in a good mood. I even liked seeing him in his dark suit, white shirt and bow-tie. 

But I hated his concerts. 
I hated having to wear a dress, hated sitting still in the dark doing nothing. And I hated how interminably l-o-n-g and boring symphonies were, movement after movement after movement. 

It wasn’t as bad when I could bring my best friend Birdy, because we could sit separate from my mom -- that is until intermission when some meddling old fart invariably tattled on us for giggling. Then my mom, burning with the shame that could have been avoided if she’d let me stay home in the first place, would make me and Birdy sit on either side of her for the rest of the concert, or the rest of our lives, whichever came first. 

But I somehow grew up and found myself liking some classical music. In high school the high drama of Dvorak’s New World Symphony spoke to me, blasted loud and throbbing with emotion. In time more subtle composers made sense, and I eventually started tuning in to the classical radio station. I even dressed up and went to concerts on purpose and without Birdy. 

Then my Poppa died. 

I miss him when I’m building something and need his advice. I miss him when the kids do something he’d like, such as get married. I miss him when I see birds being birds, and squirrels being squirrels; and flowers blooming: But I knew I would. 

What I didn’t see coming was that even now, almost two years later, I still can't listen to classical music without crumbling.

When I was a kid, if anyone had told me that one day that dreary music that I detested would become my sweet Poppa's voice from the other side, I would have laughed.

xo Amy