A year long interview run by Malcolm to better understand our mom

last updated 2021-05-09

Mom,

While it may be closer to your next birthday than it is your previous one, Marshall and I wanted to make good on a birthday idea that we had and--Marshall's fault*--failed to execute on.

Anyway, here's the idea: we're going to send you an email every week, asking you to write in response to questions and prompts. The jury is still out on whether Marshall and I read your responses, or if we tuck them away until we're all done.

When will we be done? In one year. You get an email of this nature once every week. For a year. Hopefully our questions and prompts don't feel like homework, and allow you to reminisce, confess, reflect, and celebrate.

So, below is your very first prompt. Try to get back to us within a week, or else you'll be doing double-duty. We may make a dedicated email address for this, but for now, you can respond to both Marshall and me.

Malcolm

1. What are specific choices you made about how to raise us?

I think our first big decision on how to raise you..although at the time, just Marshall..was to move to Nashville. We wanted to have a backyard to play in, sidewalks to learn to ride your bikes and be able to play with neighbors and close to stores so we wouldn't always be driving. We looked at a lot of cities and towns and decided to try Nashville

Since dad and I didn't eat red meat, we naturally didn't cook it..so we raised you the same way, although when you were old enough to make your own choices and we thought you needed the extra protein when you playing sports, meat entered your diet.

Because my family always ate together and I have such fond memories of huge meals with all my relatives, we made a point of eating together as much as possible so we could talk and eat healthy.

Began at public school, MLM was the guinea pig for obvious reasons. They still had 'paddling' here..horrifying and his teacher was old and she grabbed kids arms and squeezed them, yikes. I volunteered a lot and so I noticed things. We decided to apply to USN for first grade and if Marsh didn't get in we'd wait until 5th grade..the rest is history. I would have chosen to stay in public school as I did, but they just weren't good enough then.

Being with extended family was super important to us. Traveling to the Outer Banks and Jersey for Moutenot family holidays and Spring Lake and Baltimore to be with my family. Getting to know your cousins and other relatives, family traditions, familiar family foods, and having them treat you like they were their own is so wonderful.

Finally, we tried going to church and went to Christ The King, because it was a block away and Catholic..but it was so stuffy at the time and reminded us of the churches we went to (and didn't like), so we tried St Mary's Church where they welcomed all people and said the mass in spanish and english. But once again the message didn't really resonate with us and nobody liked waking up early on Sunday, getting dressed up and going to church..so we stopped and our spiritual tradition became being together, playing music, going for walks.

2. How has your life turned out differently than you imagined it would?

When I was in high school I thought I would become a lawyer or at least work for the government. As a senior I went to Washington and worked for my Congresswoman, Millicent Fenwick, one of the only female Congresswomen.

That led to majoring in Public Policy in college and then interning at the White House and finally getting a job after graduation working for Mayor Dutch Morial in New Orleans. Working for the city was interesting at first and then became so frustrating to get things accomplished, so much bureaucracy! So after a year and a half I quit. I had kept working at the record store, Leisure Landing while at the Mayor’s Office, so continued there and started waitressing.. making a lot of money and traveling to Europe and Latin America.

From this I think I always imagined living in Europe and raising a family, I loved the sensibilities of Europeans.. the way they cooked and ate and everything about their way of life. I don’t think I imagined living in the south again, but I think it did remind me of Europe and a slower pace of life, different foods, music and culture.

3. How did you celebrate your 21st birthday?

Ha! I had to look up the year, 1979 and then think about where I was...I was def at Tulane and then look for any photos I might have taken. And guess what?! I found some! They are attached! It was Mardi Gras, which always fell close to my birthday. The whole city shut down for that day and usually a few days before..and def the day after, which is Ash Wednesday.

That year, I was going out with Matt Kuluz, of Pascagoula, Miss., who went to Loyola, just next door to Tulane. We all took Mardi Gras very seriously and dressed up and usually had a great time. So many parades and beads and then we'd try to find the Mardi Gras Indians who did their own parade. You'll see in one of the photos, Matt and Jay walking in front of the second line band...so fun. Everybody was friends that day..we'd bounce around from house to house in the French Quarter..eating red beans and rice, it was tradition.

The other photo is me with a mask on the back of my head and dressed both front and back...what was I thinking! With Lawler, my roommate. And a photo of Jay and Miggy, they owned the 'ghost tour' mansion we visited one time when we were all in NOLA, remember? Final photo is just my friends hanging out on the Quad...such hippies.

4. What are some of your favorite sounds?

5. What do you hope to be like when you are 75?

I hope I'm really similar health-wise to how I am now...I hope I'm super active, not working any longer (yay), but traveling often with family (that's you guys) and friends. I would love to be a grandmother...hope that doesn't surprise either of you. I can see myself and dad being really great grandparents, just saying. Perhaps we'll a second home somewhere we can hang out and you can hang out with us or just use it. Somewhere bucolic and comfortable.

I want to be wiser, gentler, not in a big rush and see you guys more often..if that's ok. xoxo

6. What is one of the strangest things that has ever happened to you?

I think I have a hard time separated strange from scary...but both of these things I thought of were both strange AND scary The first event was a long time ago when I drove with my French boyfriend, Felix to Mexico and Guatemala. It was around 1982 and we drove the Thing from New Orleans. From New Orleans we went through Mexico stopping in Mexico City, Tampico, Oaxaca and Acapulco and then into Guatemala. It was the time of Guatemalan civil war and I don't think we realized it, but there was a mandatory curfew of 10p and armed rebels and army all over the country. So while we were driving through the countryside, we were stopped by the rebels. They literally jumped in front of the car from their hiding spots. They demanded our passports and then starting searching our suitcases and everything in the car. They took a Mexican sword we bought (who knows why) and some other cosmetics and stuff...I didn't want to give them my passport because at the time the rebels hated the US as our government was helping the military. So Felix just gave them his French passport and we only spoke french to them. Stressful!

The other super strange and scary event happened about 10 years ago when I was showing house in Donelson. At the time I didn't even really know where I was..I felt like it was so far away. I was working with Rich and Eileen, who are still my clients and we were seeing a ranch house. It felt like an older couple had lived there a long time, very sweet decorations. As I looked out the window I saw a teenage girl slumped on the side of the next door house. She had long hair and was super pale. I asked Rich if she was moving. She was in fact dead. We called the police and as it turned out, the house we were in was her grandparents home and her dad was their son. Gosh, that was terrible.

7. What are your secret survival strategies?

I don't know if my survival strategies are secret, prob pretty basic I think...mostly common sense stuff.

xox

8. What did you once hate but now like?

10. What heroic acts have you performed or witnessed?

That’s a hard word, heroic. Because sometimes in the moment, it’s just the right thing to do and it’s not until afterwards you realize it was a big deal.

When I was in college, freshman year, there was a fire in my dorm of course in the middle of the night and we all had to get out by sliding down an inflatable slide. I thought the fireman were heroic that day. Unbelievably I was in another fire at a friend's house when I was a junior. I lost my grandmother's ring in that fire. The fireman, once again were heroes to battle the fire.

Growing up I remember many times the lifeguards saving people at Jersey shore. Usually in really rough ocean they would swim out holding a red plastic bouey and rescue someone. Everyone would stand up on shore and applaud them as they hauled that person in.

For myself being a hero, I'm not sure there are huge events I can think of, but many small ones when I've given someone help. From not charging Thistle Farms a commission on a home purchase or discounting someone else's that needs the money. Making meals for someone in need.

Giving back through volunteering and donating are small ways I think of as acts of a different kind of heroism.

Are you ready for something cheesy? I think being a (phenomenal) mother is pretty heroic, among the things you highlighted. Also, what's up with all the fires? Too many still-lit joints left unattended?

Malcolm

Very funny about the lit joints. Just some strange electrical fires.

10. Under what conditions do you do your best work?

To answer your new question, I think my best work is done with some thoughtful planning. For me having time alone is important and handwriting things or at least taking notes first and then editing. Whether it’s planning for a presentation or writing a letter, email or communication with someone. And then editing and checking for continuity and spelling. Giving plenty of time to finish something is important.. that can be true for cooking or just plenty of time to getting somewhere so I don’t arrive harried and frazzled.

Focused, quiet in the sun

11. Who outside your family has made a difference in your life?

My 6th grade teacher, who’s name I can’t remember, was new to the Hartshorn Elementary. She was young and had long hair she pulled back in a pony tail. And she played guitar . She started a weekly event on Fridays called a Hootenanny.

We sat outside on the grass at school, while she played and we all sang..it was great, really made music fun and we were all part of it.

When I was a senior, I went to Washington and worked for my congresswoman, Millicent Fenwick. She was one of the few females in Congress, a former model, she smoked a pipe and was a Republican! She was a force and I admired her so much.

My philosophy teacher in college taught while smoking and pacing. Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance was a fav of mine. And her style was irreverent and so impactful. I will always think she made such an impression on me and I wanted to learn more.

After college I worked for Mayor Dutch Morial in New Orleans. It wasn’t really him that had such an impression on me, but his administration. I was in the minority at work and learned how to work with all races and sociology economic backgrounds.

Before we moved to Nashville, our Nashville friends told us about Mark Deutchmann and he became our Realtor. He sold us our first house. Little did I know he would become my boss and mentor. I especially admire his soft spoken demeanor and how he is able to get things accomplished.

I’m sure there are more people... I’ll update this list in the future.

12. What hobbies have been passed down in your families?

13. Could you tell us again about your pet ducks?

I had to call Aunt Joan to confirm the facts, but here's what we know..

We got Quick and Quack for Easter, god knows why live farm animals were a thing back then. I was playing on the front lawn of our house in South Orange and playing more with my duck than Joan's. Suddenly a car screeches to a stop and it had run over Quack's bill. The bill was hanging half off, yuck. So we first went to Aunt Florence's down the street and she sewed the bill on..temporarily.. Then Joan got home from school and we drove to the vet..she was sitting in the front, trying to hit me in the back. She said, "she wanted to kill me"

Anyway, the duck was fine and a month later we let them go free in Cameron Field pond.

14. As a kid, when was a time you disobeyed your parents?

Ah! Just a few times!

But one time that I vividly remember was at our beach house, which was actually located on the lagoon, and I conspired with friends to wake up and go to the beach to see the sunrise. I’m not sure why I didn’t want to ask my parents.. so I just went. I got home hours later and they were so worried. I felt really badly about it. I’m not sure if I actually disobeyed them or just didn’t tell them the truth.

15. First love?

Oh goodness, that's a long time ago!

The person I remember most vividly was Vinnie..and I cannot remember his last name!

But he was certainly a character, not easily forgettable. As you know, I spent the summers at the beach and Vinnie lived there year round. He was older than I was, had a pony tail, super Italian. I have no idea why my parents let me go out with him..but he was charming. We spent a lot of time at the beach, swimming, goofing off...listened to a lot of music and hung out with his friends.

I wonder what happened to him, photo attached :)

16. Did you take any trips with friends when you were younger?

Yes, all the time! I remember a few vividly..one to Florida for spring break while I was in high school. It was spring break, classic...and I combined girlfriends from the shore with a friend I met while interning in DC, who was from Cambridge. We drove her Volvo station wagon from NJ. It was great fun until it broke down right outside of Ft Lauderdale, our destination. Remember, this was 1976 and there were not many, if any, Volvos around and it took the service place the entire week to fix it. But we had a great time without car...many sunburns and frolicking on the beach. See photo of my friend from MA and other friend from the Jersey shore.

Another trip was while I was in college and travelled with my friend Bridgett to France. She was french and we stayed with her friends at first and I really learned to speak french well because they did not speak english. We drove with them through Italy and then to her family home outside of Geneva. It was a super rustic house in the countryside.

We stayed with her friends in Toulouse where we worked at a bar for a few nights and made some extra money and in the Alps, where we went wind surfing. In one town with stayed with her friends that sold goods at the famers market, so we helped them one weekend. We was a pretty great trip..I was gone a long while. So fun staying with friends all over.

Attached is a photo of Bridgett and me when dad and went to NOLA on vacation years later

17. Is there an article of clothing that has stayed with you for most of your life?

One piece that I rarely wear, but have trouble getting rid of is my agnes B sweater that I bought in Paris around 1980. It was my first time there and I went with my friend, Brigitte, who is French.

I was so enamored by everything french and anges B was the epitome of young french fashion and the sweater was and still is very iconic. It looks pretty much the same now as it did then..although a bit more expensive.

18. What was the moment you decided you wanted to have kids?

Kids! Dad and I attended this pre-marriage Catholic thingy that we were required to do if we wanted to get married in a church. And we did, since we wanted Uncle Lee to marry us. As usual, I was very skeptical, but honestly it was really good to ask each questions about what we wanted in a marriage and if we wanted children..and we both did.

We waited for 5 years after we got married to have Marshall...dad was traveling a lot to Japan and Brazil and all over, so we were able to get traveling in before having children..

xox

19. What was your favorite place you've ever lived besides Nashville?

I think my favorite place was New Orleans..so magical and unlike anywhere else. Im not sure I even visited before I started college, that was normal back then. But I knew I wanted to be close to water, in a city and I loved the character of the buildings. I loved the idea of being in the South after boing raised in the North

During college there was so much music to see..and the the old places were the best. And the established restaurants were great. People loved coming to visit.

And unlike most other cities, there were festivals galore..Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Shrimp Festival and on and on.

When you came to New Orleans it was like a step back in time and I loved that.

20. Did you do drugz in college?

Ha, always a great question..!? Well, as you know I went to school in New Orleans, where they have 'go cups' for alcohol, celebrate Mardi Gras a festival known really for debauchery, Jazz Fest which combines music and partying and any other type of festival they can think of.

And it was the 1970's, the age of Aquarius.

That said we smoked pot on the quad, nobody seemed to care, did local mushrooms in the fields of Lafayette LA and maybe something exotic like hashish when it was around. Mostly we drank...I worked at the Mushroom as you may recall..the head shop/record store and below was our college bar, The Boot.. I drank my fair share of White Russians, which I'll never drink again, what was I thinking!

Since we really didn't have a lot of money to spend on drugs..that was pretty much my extent of usage.

Thanks for asking!!💛

21. What is your favorite thing about music?

Music is a balm, it soothes, invigorates, brings people together or keeps you company when you’re alone.

It makes memories and evokes them. I’ve always loved music and that’s why I worked in record stores, had radio shows, became a recording engineer and part of why I married dad. Music is so creative, culturally unique. It tells stories about certain generations, places, ethnicities.

It’s a mood enhancer, changer, creator.

Some people are able to capture your thoughts with their lyrics.

My musical tastes have changed over the years. I still love reggae and african music as you know, but so many styles appeal to me depending on where I am, what I'm doing and who I'm with.

I hope they keep expanding.

22. What is a theory you have that you think isn't on other people's minds?

This might be a tough one for everyone to agree on, but I think I’ve always thought that we are what we eat. When people wonder why their kids are so hyper or sick or restless, I wonder how well they eat.

I’m never opposed to having the occasional fast food, fries or hot dog.. but I do think it’s really important to eat a balanced diet especially for children. Then, like you guys it stays with you for life!

23. What was the first dish you cooked that was "yours"?

This is a hard one for me to remember. If I go way back to when I began cooking for myself it would be when my college roommate, Kitty and I had moved into a big apt. on Claiborne Ave in New Orleans. Kitty and I both liked to cook and didn't have the money to eat out all the time, so we made all kinds of food. The one dish that we really loved was barbecue spareribs, can you believe it?! We made this delicious barbecue sauce and roasted the spareribs...so delicious. Although there's no way I would eat them now, at the time they were a delicacy for us.

24. What was your first impression of Dad?

Dad was a really hard worker (like he is now) and looked slightly malnourished... from working long long hours. He was very New Jersey in his speech and mannerisms which was very familiar to me and he was very sweet. Most impressive is that he know so much about audio engineering and music and he was so passionate about it all. Those are my first impressions and they flourishes from there!

25. What qualities/behaviors did you inherit from your parents?

I think about this at times, some traits I’m grateful for, some I try to resist and change. I would love to ask you two this question as well.

I think I’ll think of more in the future.

26. Were there any shops or restaurants in Hoboken you had an interesting relationship with?

We loved the Hoboken shops, especially:

And our wonderful neighbors: Marshall's pre school, up the block.. Marsh went with Matthew. Very cute.. I think Marsh went just a few days a week and not very long before we moved to Nashville

27. Do you believe things used to be better than they are now?

I think certain things are better now:

But of course some things were better before, like not being able to find a person easily...being able to get lost and figuring it out. Here in Nashville, I was struck by how green it was, how big the lots were and the small houses were so nice. That's changed for the worse. Social media is obviously great and terrible. I was just taking to Lindsey and she has embraced the 'no screen time' for Julian..how he can play on his own, be more resourceful, figure things out by himself. But at the same time, it's great for me to see what people are up to, what's happening in the neighborhood and see social events so easily. As I said, all this can be great and terrible.

Many things were much simpler before, perhaps because our world was much smaller. Now we have so many more options, which makes it complicated, but could be incredible as well. All said, I think it's how we use all the new technologies and innovations that matters...for me, it's the best to incorporate the simpler traditions we love into today's crazy world.

28. Have you ever had weird sleep schedules?

I think three times in my life did I have weird sleep times:

the employee meal. So we actually began seating customers around 5p. And then we were busy until around 10 or 11p. By then we were hungry again and certainly not ready to go home and go to sleep. So we usually went out in a group, usually to the Columns Hotel and had something to eat and a drink. By then it was around 1am...so, I slept late on the mornings after I worked, putzed around the house during the day, hung out with friends, contemplated what to do next..I did this for about 6 months and it's where I met Laurie Smith! Many nights I was walking through Herald Square after midnight and there were rats running everywhere as I ran to the Path train. And then I would have sit and wait for the train to come. Once again, I would either go to bed really late and sleep late or might even need to wake up early and so completely tired the next day. many times just sleeping on my day off was all I wanted to do. All worth it!!

xox

There's such an ease to your reminiscence. I can see you doing everything, especially putzing around. I feel like that time must have felt really valuable to you--do you think that it did in the moment, or was it stressful to be working part time? It feels like if someone with a college degree were to make that decision, they'd be making a sacrifice, or squandering an opportunity... Makes me think of this {^podcast}

Malcolm

By the time I started working at the restaurant, I had already worked for a year and a half at the Mayor's office in NOLA. I realized I wasn't happy working 9a-5 and working at the restaurants got me out of that and I was able to travel..which I did for about a year. That helped me re-boot and go on to what was next. Plus, I was making more waiting on tables than I did working full time!

29. What are some things that scare you?

I know I'll think of more things over time..but I think I have a pretty simple list.

30. What cheers you up when you start to get down?

What cheers me up?

31. How would you go about describing the Moutenot family?

My impression of the Moutenot family hasn’t really changed since I first met them. It really was one of the best things about dad. Such a big happy family, always sharing stories of when they were younger, great gatherings and always being there for each other.

I hope you guys remember going to the Outerbanks NC to visit them.. summer and a few Christmas’s as well. We’d all cook, play games, have a lot of fun.

Charlie was def the head of the family..somewhat similar to my dad, but much more fun loving.. my dad was pretty serious (like me)??

Diane is so thoughtful, always remembering birthdays, an avid reader and teacher.

Chris is like Charlie, life of the party, very fun loving and happy.

Joan was more reserved, but pretty sarcastic.

Anne and Michelle always seemed concerned about their lives..more serious.

Lee was the spiritual leader, calm and a listener..always there for everyone.

Dad, the youngest, somewhat forgotten growing up, it allowed him to be creative while they weren’t paying close attention.

32. How would you describe yourself?

How to describe myself and my family?

I probably couldn't describe myself without also describing my family.. My family is a family of men. We all love food, music, books, games, being outside. We enjoy being together. Succeeding in our endeavors is important whether it's careers or creative. Supporting each other is part of our lives and we love helping each other and watching each other flourish.

What's best is really a list. Things about myself:

33. What's your most prized possession?

When I think of possessions I think of a house, car, watch, leather jacket. And I have those things, but they are all replaceable I think. So when I think 'prized possession' I think of items I can't replace very easily or at all. I have a couple things I prize:

I'm sure I'll think of more things...stay tuned. xox

34. What is your favorite daily treat?

All morning treats..

Pretty simple pleasures, right?!

35. Did any part of you secretly (or not secretly) hope to have a boy or a girl?

The first time I was pregnant it was just about having a healthy baby. Then the second time, I think that I was split on what gender I desired. I thought a girl could be my mini me through life and dad would have Marshall.. But then I thought I really liked boys and sports and Marshall was such a sweet boy and I was always the tom boy growing up, playing outside, not into makeup.

I didn't daydream very long on any of that because we found out the sex because some people would ask Marsh, "would you like a brother or sister" and didn’t want for him to think he had a choice! Then once we knew we were having a boy, we imagined the two of you being buddies and playing together.. and look at how that turned out...best buddies for life.

36. Did you always want two children?

Did we always want two children?

I'm not sure we ever said definitively ...but honestly Marshall was such a doll we thought if we had another child just like him it would be wonderful. You were a little bit of cry baby when you were little..but got through that phase. Marshall was so patient and kind to you. You two are very different in some ways and similar in others, that's the beauty of having more than one child.

37. Who is your closest friend in the world?

Closest friend is such a hard for me.

I've had a few over the years, people I can not see for a long and when we do, we just pick up where we left off. Here are the top:

38. How did dad propose to you?

That is a good question and I asked dad to refresh my memory!

I was living in Hoboken on Adams Street with Laurie Smith. Dad came over On his motorcycle one night and without fanfare, just asked me..he said he doesn’t remember getting down on a knee, nor did he actually have ring yet, I think we used a makeshift band at the time.

I said yes! I think we both cried a little and we were very happy.

39. What was your wedding like?

Our wedding was really really fun! It was the 80's!!

When we first planned the wedding, we always wanted to get married at the beach, since we both love it so much. We also wanted to have Lee perform the wedding, of course and found out to have him, we had to get married in a church. So we chose a small, sweet church in Avon By The Sea..close to Spring Lake and had the invitations printed. But before we could mail them, the church burned down. A bad omen? Not sure...but we picked the church in Spring Lake.

The ceremony was a mass and the reception was held at the Warren Hotel, a block from the beach..I think we've pointed it out to you over the years..sadly,it's gone now. We invited everyone we worked with at Skyline and a bunch of musicians and friends, cousins, aunts and uncles. Dave Young was dad's best man and Laurie Smith was mine. The band was made up of great musicians and they were so much fun. During the night various friends got up and performed as well.

We hired the photographer who Laurie assisted in NYC and he was crazy, using a large format camera to get everyone in one photo and then he flirted with my friend Lawler all night...it was hysterical. It was fun and raucous..just like you'd want at a wedding.

I spent so much time deciding on the food and wine..but at the end it didn't matter..it was all about the people and music

40. Best vacation? / 41. Most challenging vacation

Dad and I discussed this and I've had a few best vacations. Our RV trip up and down the California coast, so fun to experience the beautiful parks and sights of California. We went to such wonderful towns. I hope you remember a little bit of that trip.

Dad and my trip to Brazil. He was recording Caetano Veloso in Rio de Janeiro and I flew after he had been there a week or so. We got to spend with Caetano and his family, eating at their home and then following them to Bahia where carnival was starting. Dad and I stayed in a converted convent..so beautiful. Went to carnival marches and parades..saw Olodum where 100 drummers were all dressed as Gandhi. It was a memorable, incredible time

My trip to France, Italy, Switzerland when I graduated college. I went with my french friend, Briggitte. Hung out with her friends and learned french since most of them hardly spoke english. No agenda, no time limits. We stayed with friends in the south and helped them get ready for the market where they sold ceramics..then stayed with friends in Switzerland and wind surfed..

Our trip to Berlin and Norway. Especially the Norway part. Staying with Knut and his family was so wonderful. Swimming in the fjord, eating at 11pm. Getting to know their friends. And of course in Berlin, spending time with Dave. There were many other great trips we've taken..Islamorada, Isla Mujeres, Jamaica, our trip France, even the week rental for Mal's graduation with all of us, Chris and Diane...and on and on AND I hope there will be many more.

Most challenging vacation I think was Iceland. Many reasons...but maybe the biggest was that I tried to overplan and by hiring the guide, that was too much. Then the weather was really a challenge...tough. The price of everything was rather shocking. Somewhat stressful, but still a lot of wonderful moments. That's all I'll say about that one!!

xoxoxoxo

42. How would you describe our family's relationship with our relatives?

I think our family’s relationship with our relatives has changed over the years.

When you guys were little, we really made an effort to visit and vacation with our relatives. North Carolina Outerbanks for Dad's family and the Jersey Shore for mine..Baltimore and North Jersey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. But now you've grown, have girlfriends and want to spend time with their families...or just come here...that part has evolved. I love that Aunt Diane, Lee and Chris and Joan came to various graduations of you both..and hope we have more happy events that will bring our families together.

I think we really love our relatives and love spending time with them..it's so familiar and comforting. I think the pandemic has also altered some perceptions and desires to spend more time with family as time can be fleeting.

It's more challenging living farther away from relatives..but we have to continue to make an effort to stay in touch and visit when we can.

43. What's your earliest political memory?

In 1970 when I was in Junior High (we didn't call it Middle School) My mom and I went to Manhattan for some reason and it happened to be the first Earth Day. We were just swept up into the march which was on 5th Ave, the most iconic street in NY. It was exhilarating and very purposeful. 20 million Americans marched that day This march led to the creation of the EPA.

Perhaps this was partly why I became an editor for my high school newspaper, interned for my Congresswoman, Millicent Fenwick..etc etc..

44. How do you define success?

I would like to see all our relatives more. I’m going to work on that. And I encourage you guys to visit them when you can. I do continue to send books at Christmas, like Aunt Diane did, in a small way it helps to remain connected.

Success has changed for me over the years. At first it was graduating from college and getting a job in my field. Then I realized I wasn’t happy in an office Working 9-5 and needed success in my personal life, which at the time meant the ability to travel, see the world and how other people lived because that was interesting and unknown to me.

Success to me, became to be happy. Success is also having raised two independent children who care deeply about family and others.

Of course there is job success and that comes for me not only with making money that has allowed us to give you both a good education, but the connections and satisfaction of helping people, in making a difference.

Yet success continues to evolve for me. Being able to know when to stop working too hard or at all, will be the next challenge of success. Remaining in a fun, vibrant relationship with dad is also a measure of success.

Right now there is a little fear of making less or no money or lack of connection or finding new things to fill my time. Success will be to navigate those worries. But the pandemic shines a light on what is important and when everything is stripped away, I do feel successful inside...in work, family, community..I continue to strive for all these things to thrive.

45. Are you spiritual?

When you guys were little we went to church downtown where the priest encouraged inclusiveness and he said the mass in english and spanish. We want a few months, but we all found it hard to get up and go each Sunday..it was just not compelling enough. So we changed our strategy and went for hikes or just played on Sunday mornings, that was our form of church

I think my definition of spirituality is believing in the power of nature, yoga, natural healing methods (arnica, anyone?). I usually believe in karma and doing good for others. I think I believe in a higher power, but not necessarily a traditional God. If I mediate it's usually to calm my mind or clear my mind, not really to pray. But if someone I know gets hurt or needs help...I will pray to 'the gods' for them. I don't think this makes me really spiritual..but perhaps there's still time?!! xox

47. Is there a Moutenot family myth?*

Dad's family remembers an event that happened in Edgewater NJ..His Nana said a big storm came in with a lot of lighting and it struck the house and a fireball flew through the house down the hall and out the back window and came within inches of Nana..while not destroying anything.

I had something happen to me when I was younger... I was in a boat in our lagoon at the Jersey Shore and the engine died. So we edged over to the bulkhead under the dock to push the boat along and I grabbed onto a wire...the wire was live and I literally felt the current run through me. Margie grabbed me and I let go of the wire. Did I almost die...that's what my pal Margie told everyone when we got out of the boat...not sure if I did or if that was a myth.

48. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of comfort food?

I know we've spoken about our house in Chadwick before..here are a couple of photos of our infamous deck! And as a bonus, the first one is of my best friend, Margie who had the boat we always went out on...she was a fearless captain...Maureen's first husband Terry is with us.

And then my parents sitting on the deck eating lunch, so cute. We always had a wonderful time there.

Thank you for this week's question...very easy to answer. Comfort food for me could be an italian meal, like my mother made..lasagna, chicken cacciatore, macaroni pie, spaghetti. And it could be a roast chicken with veggies. A homemade soup is a comfort food. Also eating tacos esp at Mas Tacos is so comforting to me.

Honestly, homemade food made with love is truly comfort food.

49. The people have decided Biden is uninspiring--you've been elected president. What is the single most important piece of legislation that you get passed? Try to be specific!

For me it would be gun control legislation. Although there are sooo many issues to chose from, reversal and new climate laws, abortion legislation,... But requiring background checks with longer vetting times, outlawing automatic firearms, creating effective buyback programs, educational programs in schools, no silencers, eliminate right to carry laws. Gun legislation could start protecting young children from senseless violence in schools, at their own homes and neighborhoods, perhaps decrease police shootings of innocent people and countless other gun related tragedies. I think the only way to slow down gun violence is to make it harder to get guns.

50. What do you think about the Coronavirus? How is it affecting you? What do you think it's doing to society? How does this compare to the other historical moments in your lifetime?

There’s never been anything like it in my lifetime. And it is such a mystery to everyone..when has the same event affected everyone in the world and for so long? Corona virus has made being out in the world a scary place, torn society apart and somehow also brought parts of it together. The lack of consistency and beliefs on not only overcoming it, but in the virus itself has divided us.

For me, at first it was a time of quiet reflection,doing things I suddenly had time for, thinking of people I've lost touch with. I really did re-establish contact with my friend Lawler, which is wonderful. Also speaking more to my sisters, especially while pursuing the Italian roots and visa. Re-thinking home and making it more comfortable while we spend more time here and have more people over, outside of course..has brought me joy. The garden and pool and screen porch all make it wonderful to be here since we’re not traveling.

I bought things like a.pizza oven, different foods to prepare, new hiking shoes. Giving to causes that need help also brings me joy, like the Equity Alliance, small makers, struggling businesses.., candidates, local companies and candidates.

As I said, the virus is bringing people together in different ways, in an effort to overcome it but also tearing people apart because of differing views on prevention, treatment and a path forward and how to help. Everyone says life will never be the same after we find a vaccine, I suppose that's true, for me I still want to travel to all the places I’ve always wanted, have a place closer to you two, visit people I’ve been missing. Also believe that every moment matters and we shouldn't take anything for granted, feel lucky we're alive and thriving, able to help others and continue to support each other.

51. Is there anything you wish we asked you about?

I think it’s ok to talk about any regrets I have. Perhaps regrets don’t have to be bad things we didn’t do, but learning tools for life. So with that in mind, here are some thinks I’ve contemplated over the years.

Also, I could tell you about the things I want to still improve on

52. What did you learn from these questions?

Here's your fifty-second question. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving too. I'm grateful you were willing to embark on this project with Marshall and me. I'm grateful to have learned so much about you and to have affirmed the things we already knew (or suspected) and love most about you. Thank you--we love you.

Before I ask question #52, I just wanted to share a few more things...

With virtually every response we received from you, I recognized a gamely-ness. That is to say, you really wrote. I think that's so cool and I hope you find other, serious (insofar as they feel serious to you) outlets for what seems to be an entire circus tent of words dying to get out of your head, onto the page.

There really was a lot that I didn't know about you. It makes me think that you and dad could spend a good deal more time subjecting Marshall and me to your memories. Without grandparents, who I know do this sort of thing at virtually any opportunity, I think that responsibility falls on your shoulders... That is until you become grandparents yourself. But I don't want to wait that long. More memories, more stories. You may even be surprised by what you remember.

I could probably go on, but here's my incredibly simple, if not anticlimactic, final question for you. Thanks again--this was an incredible gift for Marshall and Me.

Malcolm

First of all, thank you both for taking the time to ask me questions and be curious about my answers. It seems that there isn't always enough time to talk about our past..the questions allowed me the time..and time to think about my answer..usually while walking. I think that the fact we live far from one another makes it even more important to talk, communicate any way we can, thank you for giving me this opportunity

From writing my answers, it brought up memories of my past, mostly fond and precious. I think that's why I enjoy taking photographs so much, to keep these memories alive. Some questions went beyond just remembering, but being honest about more personal questions or about my past..that's always a good, right? The questions also made me pretty melancholy at times, remembering my parents, growing up, old friends and lives. Perhaps about pivotal moments of my life, decisions I made and how they affected me. Also, it continues to remind me how you both are not children anymore..which brings tears to my eyes when I think how quickly life goes by and how I cherish the memories we have, I think you're right about wanting to tell stories of our past to our children and then grandchildren...it's important to learn about the past and where we and our ancestors come from. I'm continuing to learn about my ancestors since applying for Italian citizenship. The pandemic also helped me have more time to be thoughtful about my answers, time to dig up photos, ask my sisters questions.

In the end, I think the questions really made me feel good about my life, how I lived it, brought you both up in it and how we continue to learn, explore and ask questions. Love you both so much. xoxox