5th Anniversary of Her Passing

My mother's grave. My father will be buried alongside her.

Today is the fifth anniversary of my mother’s passing. There’s not much else to say that I didn’t already in a previous blog post except that I miss her immensely. There are times when I feel rudderless or lack confidence that I wish she were here. Mom never really told me what to do with my life, but she was always my strongest supporter and she just always made me feel like I could do anything.  My ego and self-confidence have never been strong.  I think she knew that and did here best to cultivate them.  Everyone should have someone like that in their lives.

I am closer than every to my father now, and I am grateful for that.  It’s kind of a cliche to say, but my parents are my heroes, more so than any celebrity, public official, intellectual or anyone I know.  So I welcome this chance to get to know on a deeper level the man who inspires me  so much

In fact, all of my family have been drawn closer by missing mom!  She was a woman who gave so much for others, and perhaps this was her last gift to us, forcing us all to realize how much we matter to one another.  Thanks Mom!


Thank You for Your Support! Maybe I Can Raise Just a Bit More!

For several months I’ve been working to raise funds for the Life is Good Kids Foundation to support children struggling to overcome life-threatening challenges.  I pledged to raise $1000 and have successfully met that goal, even slightly exceeded it.  Though I’ve not raised it to  $1500 and there is still time to help, I thought it a good time to publicly acknowledge those who’ve helped me so far!  The names below are listed according to the order in which I received their donations.  Those who were the earliest to support me at at the top, and it continues on through the most recent.

I hope all of you on this list know how much this means to me.  Thank you for supporting a good cause, but thank you, also, for responding so generously to my request.   Continue reading

Closing Night at Laurel Grill and Bar

Laurel Grill and Bar, one of my favorite places in Boston, has been sold and officially closed its doors tonight. Time to find a new watering hole, probably just wherever our favorite bartender Eryl goes!

It was a pretty impressive crowd that showed up to say good-bye tonight, especially since nobody knew it was going to happen until a day or two ago. The Facebook event page helped, but mostly I think it was word of mouth. People love that place and they love the staff. Here’s a few pictures from tonight. They’re not great, taken with my iPhone, but they do document a special night.

More check-ins at Laurel’s Bar & Grill
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Academic Freedom Media Review
April 3 – 9, 2010
Compiled by Scholars at Risk

Tariq Ramadan Gets the American Debate He Says He Craved
Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 4/9

UCSD prof turns meeting into protest rally
Eleanor Yang Su, The Union Tribune, 4/9
Continue reading

iMix from Last Week: Where to Buy those Tracks

About a week ago wrote a post called I have strange tastes in music. I had created an iMix of that list so that you could hear samples of all the tracks on iTunes, but I forgot to post it.  Here it is:    Through that box you can listen to and purchase any of the songs.

If you really like any of them and want to purchase the whole album, please consider doing so from the links in my blog post.  All proceeds from those sales will benefit the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies, a museum, research, cultural and community service center in Northern Morocco, the country with which the United States has its oldest friendship treaty.  Learn more about it on our website.

Arlene J. Toler, An Extraordinary Woman

Arlene J. Toler and her son Michael

Arlene J. Toler and her son

Today, August 7, is my mother’s birthday. When she was alive I probably would have remembered, but I might well have forgotten. Since her passing, however, it seems I never forget, not only her birthday, but the anniversary of her marriage to my father and anniversary of her passing.

My mother was not an extraordinary woman by the standards of History with a capital H. She didn’t change the course of civilization or impact the lives of millions. But she was an extraordinary woman. My mother and father both worked very hard to make sure that we were happy and successful.  They gave everything they could to ensure our success, but it is only now I realize how much.

I don’t wish to canonize my mother. She was far from perfect. For example, there was a time when I began to assert my independence that she found that difficult and it strained our relationship.

My mother grew up poor, yet she did all she could to make sure we had every advantage she didn’t. Both of my parents did, and every success I have in life I owe to the opportunities that they created for me.  All of my failings stem from my inability to take full advantage of them.

Even more than all that my mother was my moral support, my friend and confidant. Whether it was sitting at a table with me working on an elementary school report, defending me to my junior high school teachers, cutting out and sending me Doonesbury from our local paper while I was overseas, or supporting life choices after I left home, she has been there for me.

Both mom and dad have. I have been VERY lucky in that regard. So this is in loving memory of Mom on her birthday. Mom, I love you, I thank you, and I know you will always be with me.