Speaking of my husband, Hal Isaacson; 7/1/74 - 10/27/18 - Forever

It's been almost a year since I've posted here and while I feel like a stranger in a strange land sitting down to type in this old familiar box, I wanted to share the speech I wrote for Hal at his memorial service yesterday, and this seemed like the best place to share it.  If you don't follow me on social or have any idea what I'm talking about, you can read about the last four months, here. Full disclosure, I wrote this speech the day/night before the service and it wasn't intended for publication so excuse all typos...

Sending love, light and gratitude to all of you for your support these last few months...  It has and continues to blow my mind + fill my heart. 




Dearest friends, family....

I want to start by thanking you all for being here. And not just in this room but like HERE here – energetically, emotionally, communally… From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of Hal and our children, I will never forget the love you’ve blanketed us with these last four months. You? Have carried us.

Full disclosure, this was intended to be a quick thank you speech but when I started writing Friday night I couldn’t really stop. 

Earlier that evening, Revi had asked me to tell her the story of how Hal and I’d met and suddenly I was back in my old pageboy hat with my dial up modem, trying to impress Hal with clever one-liners on AOL.

It’s fitting that we turn the clocks back when we find ourselves limited in time. Almost every conversation over the last several months has been about the past.

Endings call for beginnings. Perhaps they cannot help themselves.

Hal used to roll his eyes whenever I referenced the various circles of life. 

 “uh oh, here she goes!” he would say, “Bec and her “full circles.”

And, yes, babe, okay, here I go…

Hal and I met in April of 2004. Our mutual friend Cory Clay arranged for us to meet at Stir Crazy on Melrose, to potentially partner on a scripted project Hal wanted to write called Tracts. It was a teen drama about wayward kids in a suburban community. Lots of metal… football. When Hal talked to Cory about finding a writing partner, he recommended Hal meet his friend, Becca. Because, obviously metal and football were totally my thing. (ha!)

I showed up to our meeting early. Hal was fashionably late.

He flung the door open with both hands and pointed to the ceiling. Van Halen’s JUMP had just come on the radio and Hal couldn’t help but sing along.

Days later we got together again to break ground on our new project. We lasted four whole hours before we started full on screaming at each other and made a pact to never work on anything together ever again.

Still, I couldn’t NOT be around him. He was living in the pantry of a two-story house at the time with friends from college. Hal had zero dollars to his name and while actively looking for a job, was currently unemployed. But none of that mattered. He made me laugh.

About a month after we met (and two days after I broke up with my boyfriend-at-the-time) Hal called me at 2am to come over. I assumed I was coming over to do what one would assume I was coming over to do… but when I got there, Hal had his guitar slung over his shoulder and grinning with raised eyebrows asked if I wanted to join him for a cup of tea.

Spoiler alert. I totally did.

Our first night together Hal and I spent in his garage flicking teag bags at each other while singing Misfits and The Smiths, Prince and Brittney Spears.

From there we started dating although we never went on any “dates.”
Hal couldn’t afford to take me out so I cooked for him every night and on a special occasion, he would take me to the 99 cent store and buy two bottles of captain morgan malt liquor and a DVD with english-ish subtitles. We did this regularly and over a series of weeks had created our own Criterion Collection but, like, the unwatchable version. We slept in Hal’s bed-sized bedroom with our feet sticking out the window. (It was summer so it felt almost nice.)

We spent our weekends on impromptu road trips with absolutely zero idea where we’d end up. We once spent a weekend on the mission to find the BEST gas station. (Hal LOVED gas stations and had a selection of “favorites” where e’re we went.)

Another weekend we made it to Santa Cruz only to find we couldn’t afford anything save for the only available room at the most disgusting motel of all time. We were convinced it was available because someone died in there months ago and the body was only recently discovered.

When we were unable to change rooms we bought a million candles and turned the room into a Guns n Roses video. That was essentially our MO from then on. Life was full of blessings, of course, but it was also full of stinky hotel rooms we had to do our best to make the best of.

And we did.

We lit candles when things were unexpectedly stinky. We blasted music and jumped on the bed. 

Weeks after our G&R motel room adventure, and after only four months of dating, I was pregnant.

At the time it was not good news. We were weird and broke and young. We smoked cigarettes in bed and slept with our feet out a literal window.

We were irresponsible, highly emotional artists trying to make it in our respective fields. We were punk ass kids.    

I showed up at his house hysterical, pregnancy tests in hand.

I was unable to speak but I didn’t need to. Hal had all of the right words.

We sat on his driveway and planned for a future neither of us knew we wanted and two months later we were in Vegas getting married in pants.

Everyone thought we were crazy.

Everyone was right.

But we were crazy about each other, too. And that felt like enough.

Besides, a baby seemed almost rebellious at the time. Or maybe we knew he wouldn’t be just any baby. Maybe we knew that together we were capable of something better than perfect. (Four somethings better than perfect, it so happened.)

Archer was born in May of 2005. One floor away from the room Hal would die in 13 years later.

“you and your full circles, Bec.”


As many of you know, Hal’s diagnosis was sudden and blindsiding. On June 30th, Hal went to the ER with shooting stomach pains. Twelve hours later, we were in a hospital room with doctors handing us a folder of “advanced care” paperwork -- an “introductory brochure” for the terminally ill.

The days that followed Hal’s initial diagnosis were a blur. They were also full of Hal’s profound clarity. At a time when most would be full of anger and blame, regret and sadness, Hal completely let go. He was full of love for everyone. Hal, we had learned, had been sick for many years with ZERO symptoms. Pancreatic Cancer is shitty like that. Hal was as ALIVE on the outside as a person could possibly be. The Cancer, tho, had other plans.

Still, Hal refused to look backwards. He refused to look forwards, too. He was alive for now and that was his focal point. The moment.

Hal and I left the hospital on the day of his 44th birthday – coming home to our four children to break the news that Hal had stage 4 cancer.

Hal called to the kids as soon as we walked through the door. He was the epitome of grace under fire. He was calm, cool, steadfast, eloquent… The six of us gathered around the dining room table, hand in hand.

“You guys?” Hal said, smiling through tears, “I’m dying.”

This time it was Hal who made the “full circle” comments. My love language. I sobbed.

It was the most visceral human moment outside of the births of our children that I had ever experienced. It was a soul framer. We all felt it. Hal’s heart was broken but bigger than that, he was gracious. And suddenly, we couldn’t help but feel gracious too.

We all cried of course. We cried lot. Because that’s what people do when they love each other. That’s what people do when they recognize how finite all of this is. We were so lucky! Even if only for a moment.

In the days that followed we would find out that NOT ONLY did we have each other, we had an army.  Friends and family came running with food and go fund me’s and furniture and appliances and most importantly, gigantic hearts.

We were blown away.

Days later, Hal broke the news of his illness publically on Facebook and immediately people starting calling and writing... commenting and texting with words like “unfair” and “tragic” and “I’m so sorry this is the worst possible news.”

To which Hal responded over and over AND OVER again. “How can you say that, when I’ve never in my whole life felt so lucky.”

From the outside things appeared tragic, and yes they absolutely were. They still are. We will NEVER get over this loss. But after fourteen years of lighting candles and blasting music – we continued to do exactly that. And, as exhibited by our incredible children, we were able to pass those same life skills on to them.


Hal and my last night together wasn’t so far off from our first one. Except this time it was me playing him Prince and The Smiths and yes, even The Misfits from the speaker of my cell phone.

He was unable to speak but didn’t need to. I had all the right songs.

It took me sitting down to write this speech to realize that the story Hal and I were destined to write was the one we actually lived.

An adventure with every possible scenario – We did not have an easy marriage. It was hard and it was messy and it was complicated. But it was also an adventure. Full of surprise pregnancies and surprise tax bills and a surprise cancer diagnosis… and while we really struggled with the day to day life stuff, in a crisis we were amazing. When shit got real, we joined forces with military-like precision. We became conjoined generals. A harmonized orchestra on a sinking ship.

From the day we met to the day we married to the day we became parents to the day Hal died, we had ourselves a great fucking story. We defied genre. We were a bad hallmark special crossed with a greek tragedy thrown against a romantic comedy suspense thriller after school special feminist coming of age story rock opera

We lived a lifetime in fourteen and a half years.

We were lucky.

We are lucky.

Yesterday, the kids and I buried Hal’s ashes and instead of crying we danced. The kids dug their shovels in the soil and we blasted Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy and gathered to get through this thing called life.
Just like we always had.

Like we always will.

And it was painful and joyful in the same way everything that matters always is…
And I immediately thought of the hotel room – smelling of death and dirt – and Hal lighting a hundred candles around the bed.
I’m not going to lie -- the last four months were excruciating. But they were also BURSTING with love. Because of all of you. Your hearts were an elevator for his spirit. TRULY. He read your texts and burst into tears. He said I love you to strangers. And he meant it.

Hal died knowing he was loved. He died knowing that his children would be taken care of – that I would NEVER be alone when it came to caring for them. He died knowing, Halbino style, that he gave it all he had and received, in the end, even more.

He died feeling lucky. Finger to the sky.

And in spite of our tremendous loss. As a family. A community. The world… I think we can all agree that THAT? IS SUCH A WIN.

So, thank you.

I love you.



the grass cannot be greener on the side it will not grow

My daughter is wearing her "the future is female" t-shirt. It's stained but she doesn't care. She wears it every week and when people ask her what it says she tells them that WE NEED MORE GIRLS TO LEAD. 

A man stops her brother, who is by her side,  and asks him where his shirt is...

"What do you mean?" her brother answers.

"That's your sister, right? Shouldn't you be wearing a shirt that says the FUTURE IS MALE? Aren't you offended?" the man asks.

"Why would I be offended?" 

"Yeah? Well, I'm offended. IT SHOULD SAY THE FUTURE IS EQUAL," he explains. 

This isn't the first time someone has said this. To me. To him. To others. To anyone who dares to take a strong stance against the imbalance of patriarchy. 

And so  I MOMsplain.

"Do you remember being on a teeter when you were little? Do you remember being on a teeter totter with someone a lot heavier than you? An older sibling, maybe. A parent. Do you remember how hard you had to push your body down in order to move the damn thing? How there was no other way to get the teeter totter to move except to bear down with all of your might?  Equality doesn't happen with polite gestures. Throughout history, people have had to scream and push and pull in order be heard and seen and recognized. If the other side of the teeter totter is 10 times heavier than you are, you have to push 11 times as hard.  One cannot fight for equality in a lopsided world without PUSHING DOWN on the teeter totter. One cannot talk about fairness when status quo is unfair. The only way to CREATE a more EQUAL future is to strive for a more female one. And the only way to strive for a more female one is to DEMAND IT."

He doesn't want to hear me, which is fine. I used to care what "he" thought of me and I don't anymore. The man -- this stranger -- who I have crossed paths with a thousand times only knows how to be on top. 

How to look down. 

How to weigh the heaviest on his side of the teeter totter. 

"Don't you see? The ocean would never feel threatened by the stream."

But the man's levels are low and he feels exposed. He does not see himself as an ocean. 

There is a drought and he wants the water in his body. There is a drought and he demands long showers, says with his eyes that he deserves a green lawn for the neighbors to see.

I have worked very hard to raise my children in a household that upholds femininity as strong. And kind. Empathetic. Nourishing. Fiesty. Fierce. Flawed. Important. We would all be so lucky to live in a world that was more female.  

And yet, some men feel threatened by words that exclude patriarchy. As if it isn't our default setting. 

This is how I explain our interaction with my children in the car on the way home. 

Girl power is designed to elevate girls to the status of boys but men can’t help but wonder where they are supposed to go. Like standing on a ship that is filling up with people who SHOULD HAVE ALWAYS been allowed to board.

It would make sense that these individuals would feel threatened. It would make sense that these individuals would lash out in ways even THEY couldn’t fully understand. EVERYWHERE they look they are told that THIS IS THEIR SHIP.

That EVE was God's gift to ADAM. 

Meanwhile, the ship captains try to put laws into place to put their safety first. Because NO ONE WANTS TO BE REPLACED.

"Jews will not replace us." 

"Blacks will not replace us." "ALL LIVES MATTER."

"Latinos will not replace us." "DOWN WITH DACA!"

"Humans who are not white and male and straight will not replace us." "MAGA!"  


"If my body is made of water, what happens in a drought?"

Those were her words, not mine. She is six years old and knows her body is made of water. She is six years old and knows her body is vulnerable. That water is not an endless resource and sometimes we feel dry inside. She mentions one day, in passing, that she is concerned her body will run out of water -- that it will become dry like grass. Because "what if there isn't enough water to go around?" She is worried that if she drinks too much, she will be taking from someone else.  I am worried by what she says -- I don't want her to ever think she is taking from someone else what is rightfully hers. I do not want her to be afraid to quench her thirst. I want her to drink all of the water she needs..

Her sister is different. She does not know her body is anything other than hers. She slams her face against walls and doesn't cry. She falls down and gets up without checking her knees for wounds. Sometimes she takes things from other people and doesn't give them back.  

Sometimes people take things from her and she body slams them.

I don't want her to ever think it's ok to take from someone else what is rightfully theirs. I want her to know when to share and when to give and when to listen. I want her to know to keep her hands to herself. I tell her these things, over and over. We sit down and hold hands and I tell her to look into my eyes and she does.  


"We don't talk about those kinds of things," says the father with his hands over his son's ears... a boy I once saw flip up the skirt of a friend's daughter while the parents pretended not to notice.

"We don't talk about those kinds of things."


For every parent who is unwilling to talk about those kinds of things, another teenage girl is raped. I know for a fact that my first experience with sexual assault was by a boy whose parents DIDN'T TALK ABOUT THOSE KINDS OF THINGS, and I often wonder what he would and wouldn't have done to me in my "sleep" if they were willing to talk openly and candidly about respect and consent and the importance of NOT putting your hands on the body of a sleeping girl.


I'm reading through the comments on a post about Black Lives Matter. The very first comment calls the article racist against white people. She claims that being black is no different from being white. She claims that all lives matter -- that no one's life matters more than anyone else's. She tells the author she is creating a division where there isn't one. She is telling a black mother that her story is invalid, that her perspective is wrong, that her fears are unwarranted.

Her comment has the most likes. 

Don't you see? The ocean would never feel threatened by the stream."

But she does not see herself as an ocean. How could she with such unwillingness to realize her depth? There is a drought and she wants the water in her body. There is a drought and she demands long showers. She deserves a green lawn for the neighbors to see.

"White lives matter, too," she says again in the comment section. 

And again. And again. And again.

"All lives matter," says the ocean to the stream.

Says the river to the creek.


"I don't talk to my children about politics. I want to keep them out of it as long as possible. I want to keep them innocent. Let them be young. And wild. And free."

Meanwhile, a third grader, just like mine, went to school today, afraid that she will be taken from class and deported. 

(Another river bed dry.)

"Let them be young and wild and free."

(Like the ocean.)

When last year LA was in a drought, there were signs all over LA saying, "We are so sorry for our appearance." We are so sorry we aren't beautiful and green -- growing unnaturally. We are so sorry we cannot thrive in an environment we were never supposed to thrive in in the first place. We are so sorry. 


 The signs were apologizing for grass.

 Grass that grows unnaturally.

 Like the palm trees California wants you to believe were here first.

 They were not here first. And now they are dying. They are dying because they are old and didn't come from here. Neither did we.

I often wonder what it would have been like had we been taught that they were here first. That America was kidnapped and painted white.

White House.

White Monuments.

White picket fences.

In high school, all of the Mexican kids were on one side of the school and the rest of us were on the other. We had PE class together but that was it. We would laugh at Jesus' name because it was Jesus.

Hey, Jesus, we would say, mispronouncing it on purpose. We were cruel without meaning to be. We were cruel because we believed we were better. We were taught every time we turned on a TV, walked out the door, rolled up our windows at the sight of brown-skinned people on the corner looking for work, that we were better.

We are guilty.
That is why we feel guilty.
That is why Trump makes us sick.

He is us. He is all of the things we pretend we are not. We hate him because we recognize the worst of our humanity in his words. He is the monster we pretend we don't have in our closet. He is the ego we think no one can see when we post for likes and retweets. He is the part of every human being that wants power without having earned it -- who wants to win first.

He is the monster we deny we constructed out of years of assignments drawing him at the helm of the Santa Maria. Or was it the Nina. Or eating turkey in a pilgrim hat.

Or when we stand for the pledge of allegiance without knowing what the fuck we're even saying when the teacher says, "repeat after me."

He is the god we have been told to worship in the pockets of the designer bags we saved for when  we pretended we didn't see the homeless teenager asking for a dollar. When we bought houses behind hedges to ensure our safety. When we pulled our kids from public schools that weren't good enough.  

And he will reappear in a new skin if we don't recognize that we all have come of age in the same garden, our stamen from the same seed.
That what we hate in him is what we see in ourselves. We are guilty. 

Guilt will not absolve us of our crimes, of course. We must work together to change the narrative. We must fight against our own implicit bias. We must recognize our shadows and face them head on. We must be willing to break our children of their innocence so that across town, children in REAL DANGER can be safe. 
We must be willing to call ourselves out... 


At back-to-school night everyone seems to ask the same questions.

"How do we raise them...?" we ask. 

...Except we aren't asking about how to raise better, more empathetic, outspoken, interesting, engaged children. We are talking about grades.

The world is on fire and we are talking about how to improve test scores.

I raise my hand and ask about current events. I want to know whether they are being addressed, discussed... and how.

"This is a public school. You can't talk about politics here."

Since when did "politics" become the word we use for DECENCY? 

What happens when all that matters is grades and how to get good ones?
How to excel in spite of traumatized classmates?

Can we switch out politics with "ethics?" How do we teach history without acknowledging that it is happening all around us? How do we send our children to school and expect GRADES without LESSONS?

How do we reshape what is systemically wrong with text books and TIME'S UP. PUT DOWN YOUR PENCIL. STOP WHAT IT IS YOU ARE WORKING ON. STOP THINKING. STOP. ????

If our children are forced to stand for the pledge of allegiance, shouldn't they understand what they are pledging TO and FOR and AGAINST?


Last month, an "anti-feminist" Instagram account got ahold of one of my photos of my daughter and turned it into a meme. This particular photo went viral during the election last year and is of my daughter, at four years old, wearing the same Future is Female shirt her sisters have. In the photo she's flexing and growling and looking strong as hell. Because that's what she is.

Because that's what we have to be -- what we've always been, yes, but now we have to OWN it -- and because of the women who have come before us WE CAN.

The meme of my then four-year-old was tagged with the word #rape below it. My daughter. FOUR YEARS OLD. It was also hashtagged #feminismiscancer. I reported it (and it was taken down) but not before calling out the couple who thought it okay to manipulate and post what they did of my child. From there it was a pile on. 

"It's your fault for posting photos online." 

"I have every right to post this photo of your daughter." 

"It's your fault."

It's your fault. It's your fault. 

Over the years, I've heard this a lot: when you put yourself and your family out there publicly you DESERVE to be attacked. You deserve to be reposted with despicable hashtags. You deserve threats. Violent memes depicting your daughters. You were asking for it.

Rape culture and writing personally in a public forum, go hand in hand. And it isn't just perpetuated by men, either. Women, in my experience, are just as ruthless -- if not worse. The meme of Revi was made by a couple. A man and a woman. More white women voted for Trump. In the words of the late, great Kate Millett, "Many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against: no better truth could be found in the totality of their conditioning."

All of this to say that I WASN'T ASKING FOR IT and NEITHER WERE YOU.

By sharing what I share, I am not asking to be assaulted. With words. And with memes. I didn't DO anything wrong by speaking openly and honestly and telling stories that I felt were and are worthwhile to tell. Vulnerable. Human. Real. 

Personal blogging is dead, they say. And they're probably right. 

But it didn't die innocuously. We politely stood by as it was executed. We lurked in comment sections when we could have been calling out abuse. We felt guilty for blocking people. We gave our trolls the keys to our houses until we couldn't take it anymore and moved away. Brought our truths with us. Stood back as they were replaced by lies. 

Because we didn’t engage the trolls.

Instead we let them win. 

We didn’t fight back.

We didn't do anything. 

Kind of like with Hillary and the election and how everyone was SO AFRAID to publicly support her they created private Facebook groups as not to be hated or threatened or unfollowed. When I was writing pro-Hillary posts on Mom.me, I was called EVERY AWFUL thing that existed. And when I write about her now? People still attack me. 

It is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY to speak up. To hold our heads up high after they've been bitten off...
I tell my children to prepare to be disliked for being themselves. For having ideas that are different. For having the willpower to speak their truths. To defend what is right. 

"Kindness only matters if you're brave enough to fight for it."

Protagonists exist in spite of antagonists, not because of them.

But a protagonist can only take so much before she learns to fight back. Before she hits her breaking point and finds her fists. 
We have to fight back.

Every day I try to balance my desire to fight back and keep walking. Can one do both at once? Every day I try. 

I want to LOVE and I want to FIGHT. I want to push forward and I want to pull this fucking car over and do something about all of the ways we are backward. And I know I'm not alone because more and more cars are gathering on the shoulder.

Does it help to scream against the windshields of parked cars?

I don't know.

And maybe that's the point. I'm not supposed to know. I'm supposed to do. To use less water. To give what I can to relieve the flood. To teach my children that in order to prevent forest fires, they must recognize that they exist and why. 

The grass cannot be greener on the side it will not grow. 

I must find ways to fight all of the systems that uphold my privilege while simultaneously standing up for myself when I am pushed down. I'm supposed to empower my children when necessary while also asking them to question the power they demand.

How do we become our BEST without depriving others? How do we satiate our thirst without siphoning from an almost empty glass?

There will always be enough water to go around, they say.

But that only is true if we're willing to share -- to part with what we have more of -- to sacrifice our own reserves sometimes -- to turn off our sprinklers and let the grass go brown in certain places...to help our daughters draw swords on their paper. Give our wives the space to be angry. Teach our sons that A FEMALE FUTURE MEANS A MORE EQUAL ONE. That BLACK LIVES MATTERing is a plea for those who refuse to see beyond their own white fences to turn around and take a look outside.

That WE (the white people) WERE NOT HERE FIRST. 

And neither was Adam. 

11 Gifts that Empower Women and Girls

The following post was written in partnership with my incredible friends at To The Market -- one of my favorite online destinations for year-round gift-giving.


This holiday season,  it is increasingly important to me that the majority of the money I spend goes to help empower women and girls. As I reflect on the true cost of what we all normally buy, it feels imperative to spotlight products that give back. My friend Jane started TO THE MARKET to create economic empowerment by connecting artisan groups employing vulnerable communities with US-based consumers.  The socially-inspired company has a mission focused on sustainability, ethical living, and GIRL POWER...

Her partners include artisan groups that employ human trafficking survivors, HIV+ women, and young moms, to name a few.  When I think about some of the challenges her producers have overcome - and see the beautiful products they create - it’s a reflection of the world I want to see.

I rarely share products and I am blogging not so much these days, but each of the below empowers women and girls and would make meaningful AND BEAUTIFUL holiday gifts. As Jane likes to say, we can all #buythechange we want to see.

And so. Here are 11 gifts I LOVE that empower women and girls. (And MANY more you can browse, here.)

Repurposed Yellow or Flower Print Sari Blankets  $81.20
Made by female  human trafficking survivors in Kolkata, India.  Available in various colors.

Overdyed Throw in Teal, Indigo or Fuschia Throws $225
Handcrafted from layers of overdyed vintage cotton saris and held together by a kantha stitch.  Made by vulnerable women in India.  

Spanish and English Mail Bags $21
Made by refugee and low-income women in the West Bank.

Handcarved and painted wood made by women in Haiti.   
Handcarved in Guatemala by local craftspersons.  

Woven in Nepal by craftswomen.  

Ethically sourced horn shaped by artisans in Haiti.  

Sustainably handcrafted by women in Bali, Indonesia.  

The Katoi Wayuu Bags in Orange and Yellow (other colors here) $185 each
Each bag takes weeks to weave by the Colombian-based Wayuu tribe.  

May we all continue to invest in change and put our money where it matters most. SUPPORT WOMEN this holiday season. (And also every season!)

Let's go to the market, shall we? Ready and GO!