The Crush Letter No 43

. 17 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about friendship, marriage, love and sex in midlife. Because they look hotter than they used to.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Hope that your holidays have been full of good company, good food and good cheer.  Mine have, but to be honest I've also been ingesting some really good CBD.  I am a big fan of a good CBD gummy, frankly, and family holiday gatherings are their quintessential use case.  That passive-aggressive insult about your designer dog?  That invasive question about why you are still single when your such a catch, how your dog is doing at obedience training, why so-and-so isn’t coming for the holidays?  All just possibly bearable with some CBD in your system.

I have a close friend who has been stuck in a hotel room in Bermuda in Covid quarantine for the last few days, and won't be released until December 29th at the earliest. His wife and son are at home in Austria for Christmas, so this holiday is going to have some sad notes for them - spending it apart, him all alone. I am sure there are more stories like theirs this year. And of course there are always those of us for whom the holidays are a mash-up of feelings of appreciation, merriment, loss and loneliness.  

If that's you, then Joni Mitchell is there for you (and me) this year.  Her song River, written after the painful end of her relationship with musician Graham Nash, has been there for plenty of us since since its release in 1970.  "It's coming on Christmas / They're cutting down trees / They're putting up reindeer / Singing songs of joy and peace / I wish I had a river / I could skate away on ... "  But just two days ago she released her first music video, made up of beautifully animated watercolor images that perfectly accompany the divinely lonesome mood of River. The new video is our Song of the Week (scroll down for it), but here's a peek at the note she included in it:

Thank you, Joni.

And we have more to be thankful for, CRUSH community.  Remember in our Crush Letter No. 39 we partnered with Good Intentions Crystal Candle Co. to run a Gratefulness Giveaway?  Below are the first five essays we received from you about the people you're thankful for.  Thank you Bob, Randi, Liza, PFVB and Kirstan. One of the things I particularly loved about these essays is the range of relationships reflected … sometimes we get so focused on our romantic partners and immediate family members that we forget how much love there is out there for us from the others in our lives. We would all feel more nurtured if we reminded ourselves of the comfort and strength of our friendships, the family we choose, the special family relationships outside the parent-child and on-and-on.  That is what your beautiful essays speak to.

Good Intentions Crystal Candle Co will be sending these beautiful crystal candles to each of the CRUSH Readers below (or their designee).  Thank you Good Intentions!  Below we are re-running our article featuring Good Intentions - Hook-Ups: Meet Lulu Rose, Founder of Good Intentions Crystal Candle Co.

Who You’re Grateful for, CRUSH Readers. Thanks for Sharing With Us.

Who I'm Grateful For.  By Bob Guccione Jr.

I’m grateful for the sun shining, and the shade to sit in to keep out of it. I’m grateful for the sun rising in the first place (or, more accurately, that I’m here each new day to see it, if not rising exactly then hovering, somewhere near the noon mark). I’m grateful for every person that shows even the slightest kindness and warmth towards me. And I’m grateful for my health which, to no one’s surprise more than mine, is good.

I’m just one of those people that is abundantly grateful, abundantly aware of the blessings of life, starting with life. I’m a happy guy. I’m often a lucky guy but not always. I’ve been down and badly so. I have not woken up every day in a bed of roses.

So, you almost have to factor me out in any mean average of human gratitude, because my default position is to be grateful, mindful of how lucky and loved I can be from moment to moment, and how periods of great darkness can nonetheless be relieved with piercing shards of blessings.

The person I’m most grateful for, daily, is the great love of my life. But let’s disqualify her, on all the obvious grounds. The person I’m most grateful for outside of that intimacy is my extremely special friend Paul. I won’t use his second name because he’s genuinely humble (most people aren’t genuinely humble) and not a little shy. This is a guy who, having been given an award by a Catholic Church Order at a dinner years ago, gave the shortest acceptance speech in history — he was on his way back to our table before I had finished folding my napkin.

Paul and I met more than twenty years ago when he ran a boutique, white-shoe Wall Street investment firm. We came from opposite sides of the business spectrum and experience and I was certainly not their usual client and I didn’t try to pretend to be. We shared a deep faith in God and a shaken and sometimes skeptical but nonetheless intact fidelity to Catholicism. We also liked girls and, both being single then, were allowed to.

Business was a very secondary and eventually non-existent aspect of our relationship as our friendship grew. We supported each other emotionally through tough relationships and life’s spray of disappointments. We laughed a lot, and, really, some of the things we laughed at I can never tell you because mobs with lit torches would hunt me down.

When I fell on some hard times several years ago, which I went through for years, with the occasional break here and there, Paul always picked me up. He didn’t have to do that always. He never failed. He offered me help more times than I accepted it. But he was unfailingly in my corner. That constant support gave me strength. That was invaluable, as in, seriously, its value can never be measured. I am so, so grateful for that solid friendship, that dear love.

To the Person Who Allows Me To Just Be.  By Randi Saelinger

A knock at the door, dogs are barking and there stands my best friend holding a bottle of champagne with her two kids in tow. It’s like she saw my bat signal across town. I needed her and she just knew it. All I could do was gasp and say “you are here!” and of course she was, she was always there without ever having to be asked.

I feel like these silent friendships get so overlooked nowadays. The ones that make your stomach hurt from laughing so hard, the ones that know your pizza order without asking. The most special friendships are the ones where you can just sit together while your children run around the house wild and you know you aren’t being judged for your toddler only having a diaper on, your daughter’s “makeover” she gave herself, and your hair is in the same bun for 3 days.

Everyone thinks the best friendships are the ones plastered all over social media, the ones where we are looking our best with the fancy Instagram captions but I am thankful for the ones where I am sitting on my couch in my pajamas drinking a strong mimosa with my person and just being in the moment however I needed to be. Talking, sitting in silence, dancing with the kids in the living room, helping me manage my life while my husband was deployed, whatever it may be, she was always there, never having to be asked.

For those moments she allowed me to just be, I am forever grateful.

Liza and her "untrainable" love, Alfie

Person, I’m Most Grateful For? My Dog.  By Liza Lentini

Yep, that’s right: The person I’m most grateful for is my dog, Alfie. He’s about to turn 12, and he’s the best friend a girl could ask for. He’s been suffering from one illness or another his whole life, and over the last year, his health took a scary turn. I’ve never not appreciated him, but I’m savoring every tiny moment and thanking him for waking up each morning.

I hadn’t exactly planned on adopting this “untrainable” dog. But it was love at first sight. He was so scrappy and talkative I named him Alfie after the 1966 Michael Caine movie and song. Only a little bit after did I realize that Alfie is an anagram for “A Life”, and we’ve had quite the life together. Of all the things I’m known for, taking Alfie with me absolutely freaking everywhere is one of them. I adopted Alfie in one of my most difficult years. He instantly made it better.

Dog people are the best people, and dogs are the best “people”. To quote Temple Grandin: “Animals make us human”. Thank you, Alfie, for making me human.

Peter's handwritten cocktail recipe for "The Jupiter Spritz" is pinned to my fridge.

I'm Grateful for Discovering A Good Cynar Spritz, And Much More, With My Nephew Peter.  By Kirstan Barnett

Peter's Jupiter Spritz was just a hint of what was to come.

When Covid started in the winter of 2019, I was living alone in a large 3,000 sf loft outside of Boston, having recently broken up with a guy who was lovely but not (as we say now) "my match".  My 25-year old nephew was sharing a tiny post-college apartment in D.C. that wasn't set-up to accomodate unending days of simultaneous and competing conference calls. So I got my first roommate in over a decade, my sister's son.  I offered more space, a separate office and two friendly dogs.  All he had to do was blunt my impending isolation.

At 6pm on the first Monday after he moved in he announced we'd be doing a daily post-work "lock-down cocktail hour".  It was then that I began to appreciate the extent of my coup.  I recalled learning from him a couple years earlier that college kids (at least in Virginia) had evolved from the keg parties of my long-gone University years to craft cocktails.  At my place in Florida at the time on a family vacation, he had created a "house cocktail".  The "Jupiter Spritz" was inspired by one of my favorites, a Paloma, and has been savored festively by many.  (His handwritten recipe is above.)

Back in Boston during the pandemic he observed that my bar, though "perhaps" stocked sufficiently for "normal times," was not suitable for what we would be living through.  I wondered aloud just what that would be, while simultaneously grabbing my keys to drive us to Marty's on Washington Street, the closest liquor store with an ample selection of Italian liquers.  His idea was to take on a comprehensive comparison of the relative merits of Aperol, Amaro Nonino, Limoncello, Campari, Cynar and the newcomer he'd read about, the Italicus Rosolio de Bergamotto.

And we did.  We preferred the more herbaceous Cynar Spritz (cynar, prosecco, grapefruit soda splash, grapefruit zest) to the Aperol Spritz. We learned that the orange and herb flavors of the Amaro Nonino worked well in the popular cocktail the Paper Plane and that there were better options for breakfast cocktails than the Mimosa or Bloody Mary (yes, as the pandemic wore on we expanded beyond the post-work cocktail - don't get judgey).  The hints of bitter grapefruit and citrus in the Italicus pair perfectly with grapefruit juice for breakfast. We also, by the way, attempted to learn Italiano through a podcast that we played while mixing, and drinking, our cocktails.  That was, I'll admit, a little less successful in its usefulness (at least for me).

We made a lot of progress on our lock-down cocktail voyage during the 2019/20 winter/spring season. For the winter of 2021 when remote work got extended we figured there was more to be discovered and paired up again as roommates, this time back in Florida. We switched to Mezcals, discovering many we liked, most particularly YOLA, which is handcrafted on a farm in Mexico from a recipe that was passed down by the namesake owner's grandfather. We had simplified unintentionally, as it really just needs to be served solo over one of those large cocktail glass blocks of ice. (YOLO has to be ordered online, but you can get it here.)

And of course, the cocktails were just part of it.  I also learned about the world of underground "private subscription" print newspapers, like the one that exclusively discusses the niche topic of dive bars on the lower east side of Manhattan.  And that SONOS has the best moveable sound system set-up.  I learned valuable lessons about how to be coordinated but live independently as two adults, including things I hope to carry over to my next romantic relationship (thinking optimistically here).

But the most valuable discoveries were about Peter himself, as I got acquainted with the man he has become in the few years since his college graduation. He inherited my sister's decisiveness, great eye and alpha energy, my mother's empathy and willingness to stand firm on an opinion, my father's integrity and interest in global geopolitics and my sense of responsibility, love of fun, friends, food and travel.  He picks up languages quickly (speaks a few fluently, a couple more conversationally and can get by with many others), a skill he got from nobody on my side of the family. He is an early riser who prefers a fine cold-brew to an espresso, spicy over mild and a neighborhood eatery with character over any chain. He knows what he likes definitively, but is a pefectly good sport about sharing the radio dial, and the remote. He is happy to walk my dogs for me, but they can not get on his bed. He is cool and handsome, yet not embarrassed to be seen out to dinner with his 50-something Aunt.  He balances a serious job with the rest of his life better than I ever have. He has a finely calibrated sense of the values and character of his friends and that matters to him.  He is genuinely, deep-down happy that two of his best friends, Ishaan and Adriane, are getting married to each other ("I played a role in their romantic start ...").

He is a friend anyone would consider themselves lucky to have. A high quality hang, and I say that having hung around him for much longer than either of us expected. I thank the pandemic for every inebriated moment with Peter, and the sober ones too. An immeasurable gift. We are already planning a post-Omnicron trip to Italy - a cocktail tasting tour, of course.  Facciamo ancora un giro, per favore.*

*We'll have another round, please.

I'm Grateful for the Ordinary, Every Day Nice Gestures of A Teammate At Work. By Pedro.

It was my first day back at the office for hybrid work since the start of Covid so many months before.  A teammate had already been working in the office for a while and knew the ins and outs of changes and upgrades the company had implemented to make our landing softer. I was greeted on my return with handwritten notes with office tips!  I am so grateful to her for her thoughtful gesture. It's so nice to work around people who deploy random acts of simple kindness.  And who knew we had a free carwash in the parking garage!?! #lifechanging

Hook-Ups: Meet Lulu Rose, Founder of Good Intentions Crystal Candle Co.

Humorously explain your job.

During the day, I’m covered in PPE treating patients in a hospital setting, and at night I douse myself in wax and rocks to calm down. I actually felt called to start this business last year during the pandemic, when I thought to myself, “My goodness, I need to do something for a living that’s not traumatic!”

How do you infuse your products with good vibes?

Every one of my candles is made individually by hand. When I am working on a batch, I make sure to create a calm and safe environment: I burn palo santo, play good music, and light my own candles. I also practice a Reiki ritual prior to touching any of my products, so that everything I touch is infused with loving and healing energy. Additionally, I cleanse all my items with palo santo smoke, and all of my water-friendly crystals are cleansed in our Moonwater as well.

What makes your products different from others on the market?

Aside from being one of the only completely vegan and ethically-sourced crystal candle companies, all of my products are, quite literally, crafted with “good intentions.” Every one of my candles is designed so that a particular intention or wish can be set. For example, my candle “Steady Love” contains rose quartz crystals and dried rosebuds and petals. This candle is crafted to be burnt when calling upon love—whether it is love you want to give or receive—and I can’t tell you how many people have told me the intentions they set when lighting their candle manifested themselves in real life. (These products are only designed for setting good intentions, not attempting to cast spells or bring negativity upon any individuals, of course).

This can also be seen with my “Blessings on Blessings” candle, which contains green aventurine for money and abundance manifestation, or with “Divinely Protected,” “Burn for Heartache,” and “Dreamland.” And of course, each item I create is blessed with good energy prior to production and shipping.

What’s the one takeaway you can give our readers about the importance of good intentions in our everyday lives?

There is a quote that says, “You spend most of your life in your head, make it a nice place to be.” Setting intentions and calling upon positive energy can be extremely potent, especially when it comes to healing work. By surrounding yourself with positivity, trust, and “good vibes,” you are creating a world in which you feel happy, healthy, and safe living in. I attempt to nurture this concept in my company, Reiki healing, music therapy, and in all my counselling and healthcare work.

What is one simple thing anyone can do today to bring good vibes into their home?

One simple thing that can be done in the home is to designate a “sacred place”. This could be your entire house, or even just one corner or area of the home. I like to make my space sacred by making sure it feels cozy, personalized, and safe. I typically start by clearing clutter from my area. Then I will smudge the space with palo santo (my personal preference), burn one of my homemade candles, and play music I connect to in that moment (sometimes even my own, but anything that gets you in a good state of mind). This ritual will look different for everybody, but the importance of designating one area to be personal and relaxing can change the whole vibe of a space.

Best way to reach you? (Site/Social/Email)?

Instagram: @goodintentionscrystalcandleco
Facebook: Good Intentions Crystal Candle Co.
Email for all other inquiries or custom orders:

Special code for PrimeCrush readers:

All first-time customers can get 10% off my entire site using the code ‘MANIFESTING’.

Song of the Week

River By Joni Mitchell.  Watch her newly released video (her first video ever!) here.

And in case you missed it, below is a snippet from my DEVOUR piece in The Crush Letter No 19

From Mitchell's newly released animated video for "River".

Thanks for being here, CRUSH Readers. We will be here with you next week to ring in the New Year.  Until then, enjoy. Or skate away, whichever you need to do. Consider some CBD gummies for the journey, every which way you go. We can do this holiday thing.


Dish Stanley XO,

In Case You Missed It: From The Crush Letter No 19

Read.  NYT's 50 Reasons to Love Joni Mitchell's "Blue."  Blue, released in 1971 when she was only 27, was Mitchell's fourth studio album, written and produced entirely by her.  Among many other accolades, it was named third in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  Blue is a poetic untangling of the nature of passionate relationships.  There are lots of hints at juicy details in the NYT article (and then you kind of had to piece things together). It was written during a heated love affair with James Taylor (who was very much addicted to heroin at the time and played guitar on four songs on the album), which love affair took place on the heels of her break up of her long love affair with Graham Nash - and on the heels of her having fled to Greece, she has said, to escape the pain of that unwinding, as well as the limelight that had just begun to envelope her, a woman who had lived "in a box of paints."  (Where she had yet another love affair.) Blue has some of the most poetic lines in rock. "You're in my blood like holy wine." "only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly away" "I want to talk to you / I want to shampoo you / I want to renew you again and again." "crown and anchor me / or let me sail away" and "He loved me so naughty left me weak in the knees."  (That last one Nash, who Mitchell ended things with by note from Greece (where she had picked up with another lover), humorously gloats was written about him. (Who wouldn't.) )

In the NYT article 25 musicians, including former lovers James Taylor, Graham Nash and David Crosby, share personal revelations about Blue, its making and how she and the album changed their lives. For instance, Crosby admits that the first time he heard Blue "I felt like quitting the business and becoming a gardener." He goes on to argue that "The music is where she's just vastly superior to Bob [Dylan] ... They're both brilliant poets, but she's 10 times the musician and singer that he was." (So is her old lover implying she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Dylan?)

Song of the Week. "You're in my blood like holy wine." In the video linked to below, Mitchell is singing Case of You from Wembley Arena in 1983 at the age of 40 with a deeper voice and (what seems to me) a more zen energy than earlier live versions. This performance is over a decade after Blue was released. There seems to be, over a decade later, some form of acceptance of the intensity of her great love affairs with Nash and Taylor (and more) - love, loss and of the limelight. In other words, time has done some healing from a life lived very much outside the paint box.  (Of course, I might be reading a lot into it.)

There have been some moving covers of this exquisite love song, like this live one by Brandi Carlile at Madison Square Garden that she dedicates to her wife. But my favorite cover was sent to me by my friend kt, a music impresario, and it is by Prince here. If he were alive he no doubt would have been interviewed in the NYT article celebrating Blue's 50th anniversary. (Such a loss.)

To watch the video below on youtube go here.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend!  And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter curated by Dish Stanley on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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