Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Reruns: Seeking Balance on the Highest Court

(original post-date: May 26, 2010)

Following Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement announcement and Obama’s subsequent nomination of Elena Kagan to fill Stevens’ seat, there’s been a lot of buzz about “who’s what” on the Supreme Court.

Per the opinion of some, New York already is over-represented. Per the opinion of others, the potential lack of a Protestant seems cause for alarm.

Neither of those possibilities bothers me. New York happens to be incredibly well-populated, and it always has been. So, statistically, it makes a certain amount of sense that it would be home to a disproportionate number of well-educated, well-qualified professionals.

As for the religious stuff, I’m not convinced that a person’s affiliation with a particular dogma adequately defines him or her. There are too many examples of elected officials whose “walk” is at odds with their “talk.” And then there are those on the other end of the spectrum – those who may attend mass a few times a week and still genuinely honor the separation of church and state.

So, since those particular “identifiers” don’t really concern me, I decided to raise my own question regarding the matters of who and what. I decided to throw another demographic query into the mix. What is the astrological breakout of the current Supreme Court, and how does nominee Elena Kagan fit in?

Go ahead and laugh at my question, but here’s the deal: I’m a Libra. My sign is the sign of the scales. And oh no, honey, I’m not talking about the scales you dread standing on after a weekend that included two consecutive all-you-can-eat buffets. I’m talking about the scales of JUSTICE! Mine is the sign of an individual who weighs, balances, and pursues fairness.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a few Libras on the Supreme Court?

Let’s check it out…

Okay, first: Stevens – the guy who’s retiring – was born on April 20th. That’s the first day of Taurus (an EARTH sign; the sign of the bull).

Elena Kagan, nominated to replace him, was born on April 28th. Also a Taurus. And while I am absolutely sure that Obama did not consider this fact when planning to fill Stevens’ seat, I think it’s fabulously coincidental.

(I also relate to it. In fact, if you saw an accounting of the men I’ve invited into my boudoir over the course of my adulthood, you’d see that I’ve often replaced a Taurus with a Taurus. I don’t know what it is about the bull, but I always fall for it.)

Oh, sorry, this really isn’t about me…

Okay, so the rest of the court:

John Roberts was born on January 27th, making him an Aquarius (like Libra and Gemini, an AIR sign.)

Samuel Alito’s birthday is April 1st. What? April Fool’s Day? Doesn’t that just seem so wrong in this context? Anyway, Alito’s foolish birthday makes him an Aries, which is a FIRE sign.

Two other fires are on the bench: Anthony Kennedy was born on July 23rd, the first day of Leo. And Stephen Breyer, also a Leo, was born on August 15th .

The rest are WATER signs.

Two Cancers: (Clarence Thomas – June 23rd, and Sonia Sotomayor – June 25th).

Two Pisces: (Antonin Scalia – March 11th, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg – March 15th).

That’s four WATERs, three FIREs, one AIR, and one EARTH.

And not a single goddamn Libra among them.

Frankly, I’m offended.

And here’s another thing: With a near majority of justices in WATER, I can’t help but consider a certain homonymic phrase: Row versus wade.

We’ll just have to see what happens.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sneak-Peek Saturdays: Excerpt Forty-Seven

A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).



“So, how was the event?” Claudia asks Evelyn, when she finds her way into the kitchen late the next morning.

“Oh, Claudia, it was so lovely,” Evelyn replies, making her ritualistic beeline to the coffeemaker. “The Waldorf was gorgeous, as always. The food was good. I saw an old friend. Davy’s art was auctioned off for some amazingly high prices—

“Is he?” Evelyn then asks, interrupting herself.

Claudia nods, indicating that he is indeed, and once again, asleep with the television.

“Anyway,” Evelyn continues, “it was really touching. And, of course, I had a great time with Joy.”

“I’m glad for you, Evelyn. You know, I’d be happy to do that again. Spend the night, I mean.”


“Are you kidding? It’s a good deal, getting Friday off!”

“Good, then,” Evelyn replies, remembering her plan to call Adam, “because I think I might be going into the City for dinner sometime soon.”

“A hot date?”

“I’m too old for a hot date, Claudia!” Evelyn says, in a tone that mocks scolding.

The phone suddenly rings, causing Evelyn to make a dash to the family room. And by the time she gets there, Davy is stirring.

“Hello, dear!” he says to his wife, as she reaches for the handset beside his chair.

“Good morning,” she replies to him, before pushing the Talk button.

“Hello?” says Evelyn, into the phone.

“Good morning!” says Davy, from his chair.

“Evelyn!” the caller intones enthusiastically.

“Yes?” Evelyn replies, somewhat tentatively.

“It’s Ashley!”

“Oh! Ashley! I didn’t recognize your voice. How are you doing this morning? I hope you were able to take the day off after your fabulous success last night.”

“No, I’m at school. But, I’m letting all my classes sort of have an improv art day. I am definitely too tired to teach.”

“Well, your event was fantastic. We had such a good time, and my goodness, you did a lovely job matting and framing those pieces!”

“They looked good, didn’t they?”

“They really did,” Evelyn says, smiling down at Davy and wishing he could have seen his work so beautifully presented.

“So, who won?” Evelyn asks then, having not learned, by the end of the night, whether Gus or his competitor had walked away with the prize.

“Gus did; isn’t that great? The final bid was eleven-fifty.”

“One thousand one hundred and fifty?” Evelyn asks, amazed and delighted.

“Yup. How ‘bout that?”

“That’s… remarkable.”

“And, Evelyn, Ed Thomas—the other bidder—is still interested.”

“What do you mean?” Evelyn asks, feeling herself flush a bit at the mention of Mister Two-First-Names.

“Well, he called Elder Haven this morning, and they called me. He is wondering, apparently, if there are more of Davy’s pieces available for sale.”

“Really?” Evelyn asks, quite astonished by her husband’s sudden popularity.

“So, I’m calling to see if I can pass your number along to him.”

“Well, I guess...” Evelyn says, not at all prepared for the feeling of intrigue that is surging through her veins right now. “I mean, I don’t see why not.”

“Great. So I’ll do that in the next day or so, and I imagine you’ll be hearing from him,” Ashley says. “He seems like a really nice guy, by the way. Apparently, he lost his wife to Alzheimer’s.”

“Yes,” Evelyn says, looking at Davy, who has fallen back into his nap. “He mentioned that last night.”

“Anyway, I need to get back to class. Expect a call from Ed, and please pass my number along to Joy. I’d love to hook up with her some night when I’m in her neighborhood.”

“I’ll do that.”

“Great. And, hopefully, our paths will cross again, too!”

“Let’s make a point of it.”

“You got it. Have a great day, Evelyn.”

“You, too.”

* * *

to be continued on June 4th.

In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mom -- Faith, Sapphires, and White Light: Part Four

A NOTE BEFORE READING: This is the fourth and final installment of an essay that begins here.


Within a year of that fabulous long week on the hill in Truro, I gave my parents a stack of paperbacks. They were new copies of books that I had read recently and that I loved for one reason or another. My giving them the books was my way of sharing with them who I was and who I was becoming.

The stack of books included a copy of Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb. Significantly, this was the only piece of nonfiction in the group, and I realized my parents might have some difficulty believing MacLaine's experiences and appreciating the beliefs that had developed as a result. I knew it would be more comfortable for them to absorb the spiritual messages of the novels in the stack. Still, it was a good book to give my parents. Maybe it would help them understand my mindset.

And, more than anything, I wanted my mother to read what amounted to about two pages somewhere in the middle of the book. The couple of pages were about Peter Sellers, about an anecdote he had shared with MacLaine.

Just prior to making Being There, Sellers had a heart attack, and it was serious. He had recounted to MacLaine his emergency room experience, his soul leaving his body and floating above it. While disconnected from his earthbound self, Sellers saw that which they call the “white light,” and it beckoned. But, he didn’t answer its call. He knew he had other things to do within the body on the table. And so he returned.


My parents were visiting me in New York, and my mother and I were sitting in my apartment chatting. I asked if she had enjoyed the stack of books I had given them. She said they had. I asked if she had read the Shirley MacLaine book. She said yes.

I then took the opportunity. “What did you think about that Peter Sellers anecdote? His experience in the Emergency Room?”

My mother’s eyes lit up. An energy enveloped her. She had permission. Permission to tell me about her own experiences – floating above her body, seeing the white light. Returning.

She’d been there. She’d done that. And for years, probably, she assumed it was all an hallucination. An experience that could not be shared, an experience whose other-worldliness would never be understood or validated.


Several years later, I was visiting my parents in Virginia. It was during my unhappy marriage years. I left the unhappiness in L.A., and took a flight back east sans mate. Mom and I were up late one night, sitting in the kitchen. The soft light bounced off my ring’s sapphires and diamonds as we sipped our martinis, smoked cigarettes, and so engaged in a bonding experience that is unique to WASPs.

She told me that night about the graduation ceremony in early June, 1969. The dutiful faculty wife, she was in attendance, sitting quietly among the well-wishers. At some point during the ceremony, a man behind her (a graduate’s father) had a heart attack, “made a noise,” and died on the spot. The noise, it turned out, was the “death rattle.”

A week later, the Accident occurred, and my mother was in the Intensive Care Unit. She had tubes up her nose, tubes down her throat, and tubes in places where there hadn’t been holes two days before. She was outside of her body, floating above it. She had seen the white light.

Then, she heard a noise, and she recognized it from the week before. It was the “death rattle.” But this time it was her own. Hearing it forced her to make a decision.

Something told her to cough. But, with all those tubes in there, she couldn’t. So, she began to pull them out, one after another. Furiously pulling tubes, furiously coughing.

Witnessing this, a young nurse turned to the Head Nurse on duty. “Mrs. Gates is pulling out her tubes!” the young nurse said.

“Oh, just let her,” the Head Nurse replied.

The Head Nurse was Mary Lou – a friend of the family. Her response to Mom’s actions reflected the resignation of a professional who could do no more. A medical professional who was disgusted by the inevitability she was witnessing.

"Oh, just let her,” Mary Lou had said.

So Mom pulled out those tubes. And she coughed. And she coughed. And she coughed. And whatever was blocking her future from her past was released suddenly. In a few short moments, she went from dying to living.


“Wow,” I said to Mom, having heard for the first time about the man at the graduation ceremony. “Do you realize how connected you are to that man who died?”

“Hmmm?” she said.

“He died so that you could live,” I said.

“Oh,” Mom replied, with her graceful innocence. “I guess I never thought about it that way.”


It would probably be pushing it to ask my mother why she chose to return to her body – why she chose to live. I’m just not sure she could answer that. But, maybe I’ve never asked because I don’t want to hear the answer. As long as her answer is a mystery, I can supplant it with my own:

Mom had to come back for me. How could she not? Could I even have reached eighteen without her? And, who would have been there to hand me a ring that was far more sophisticated than I? Who would have dared to give that ring to me? Who would have thought to tell me, through that gift, that I was worthy of its brilliance, that I might someday rise to its level of class and elegance?


Over the years, I’ve looked at my hand – the hand with the ring on it, and I’ve watched it become my mother’s hand. I am more than a decade older than she was when the Accident changed her life. I am older than she was when she passed along the ring to me.

I have no daughter with whom to continue the tradition, but that’s okay. I don’t think I want to give away this ring just yet. As long as it’s on my finger, I still have more reasons to become worthy of it.

More years to gather sophistication.

More years to acquire class.

More years to become the person Mom envisioned when no one else – not even I – could.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Reruns: Reconsidering the Names of Things

(original post-date: May 19, 2010)

When I conduct funder research for my nonprofit clients, I use a software that amuses me with its typos. Regarding those typos, I don’t necessarily fault the folks behind the software. It is their job, after all, to enter absolutely every grant over $4,000 for which they have a foundation profile (and they have thousands of profiles). That kind of work has got to make a person a bit cross-eyed.

So: when I see that a grant went to the “Skrewball Cultural Center,” I don’t conclude that the data entry specialist was trying to make a joke. Rather, she or he is probably super tired. (I also know, because the grantee is here in L.A., that the listing should say Skirball Cultural Center.)

Likewise, when I see that the purpose of a grant was for developing “literracy cumfculum,” I don’t immediately assume that the person entering that information is illiterate (or even illiterrate.)

The other day, I conducted a new search on the software in question, and when I perused the results, I smiled for a reason having nothing to do with typos. This time, I smiled because the name of a grantee leapt out at me. The grantee is called the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning.

I’m sure I could do some googling and learn what the OMG stands for, but… we all know what it stands for, right? OMG! The Oh My God Center for Collaborative Learning got a grant!

I’m also sure I could do some googling and discover whether the OMG Center has undergone a name change in the past couple of years. (The grant listed in the search was issued in 2001.) God knows, if it were my nonprofit organization, I’d come up with something a little less meaningful to cyber-communicators.

On the other hand, this discovery gave me an idea. Why not create some nonprofit organizations with names that are not only appropriate to the nonprofits’ missions but also are significant to texters and others? I have a few suggestions:

* The IMO Center for First Amendment Freedoms
* The FWIW Interjection Partnership (and its pet project, the BTW Summer Institute)
* The BFF Pen Pal Project (okay, that one is totally ironic)
* The LOL Program on the Study of Humor
* The B/C Corporation for Research in Reasoning
* The NNTO Brevity Collaborative

and, drum roll, please…

* The WTF Coalition on Environmental Issues in the Gulf Coast

So, that’s what I got, people. Your suggestions are welcome.


P.S. It’s highly unlikely that you know less than I do about text-speak, but if you’re stumped by the list above, here’s the legend:

IMO = In My Opinion
FWIW = For What It’s Worth
BTW = By The Way
BFF = Best Friends Forever
LOL = Laugh Out Loud
B/C = Because
NNTO = No Need To Open (used on the subject line of emails when the subject line says it all)
WTF = What The F&%k (most often followed by an exclamation point or question mark)
TTFN = Ta Ta For Now

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sneak-Peek Saturdays: Excerpt Forty-Six

A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).


Evelyn has changed into her household sweats by the time she enters the Quilt Room. The smile on her face more serene than usual, she doesn’t sit down right away. Instead, she stretches. And one stretch leads to another.

And another.

It’s as if Evelyn cannot stop stretching.

In some way she doesn’t quite grasp, Evelyn is feeling her body open up. Each opening leading to another portal. Each portal leading to another opening.

At a certain point, Evelyn is very close to being able to kiss her own kneecaps.

Not bad, she thinks, for a woman who is two years shy of seventy.

Then, she shifts her focus to the project. The bowl of folded-up papers. She exhales and takes her seat.

She looks to the bowl, which became full again four or five days ago, thus signaling the beginning of Round Two. “Okay,” she says to no one. “Let’s get to it.”

She draws a square and unfolds it. PATRICK, AGE 11-14.

Evelyn finds the box, brings it back to her work area and places it in front of her.

So, Patrick, she thinks, as she begins to open the box. Do you have something for me?

Evelyn pulls out a polo shirt, clearly from the higher end of the age range. Though she likes the lime green color, the shirt has no history, no meat. She casts it aside, adding to the pile she will ultimately take to the thrift shop. Three polo shirts later, she comes upon a tee shirt that Patrick received from his summer camp, a co-ed experience in the Berkshires.

Looking at the logo and the Camp Hickory name, which appears to be constructed out of perfectly rectangular tree branches, Evelyn remembers a discussion that raised more questions than it ever answered.

Evelyn and Davy were sipping after-dinner coffee while sitting side-by-side at the counter. It was a cool, April night, and a nice backyard breeze floated into the kitchen through the sliding screen door.

Evelyn wanted desperately to enjoy the breeze, but Adam, who had just turned eleven, was on her mind. That day, he had announced, rather forcefully, that he did not want to go to Camp Hickory that summer.

“But it’ll be good for you to get away for a few weeks, sweetheart,” Evelyn had said, not understanding her son’s lack of enthusiasm and thinking she might be able to change his mind.

“You can’t make me!” he then said to her, tears welling up in his eyes.

“But I thought you had fun there last summer!” Evelyn countered, feeling surprised and confused by his firm and emotional pronouncement.

“I don’t want to go!” Adam stated again.

When Evelyn shared this information with Davy before dinner, his response had been typically relaxed. He shrugged his shoulders and suggested that they talk about alternatives. He didn’t seem concerned that Adam was so vehemently opposed to Camp Hickory. And that lack of concern allowed him to let it go.

Evelyn, however, could not let it go, and because she didn’t feel like being alone in her obsession, she brought it up again.

“Couldn’t you just talk to Adam about it, Davy? I just think it’s better if he goes there. I mean, we know Camp Hickory. It’s not too far away. It’s affordable. They offer a nice variety of programs.

“Patrick always loved it,” she added then, after a pause.

“Patrick always loved what?” their older son asked, entering the kitchen.

“Hey, sweetie,” Evelyn said, smiling at her grown-up boy. “Did you have fun with Michael and Ray?”

“It was okay,” replied Patrick, who was home on Spring Break and had just met up with some former high school pals.

“Where’d you go?” asked Davy, his voice the most energetic in the room.

“The Canteen,” Patrick responded, opening the refrigerator door and surveying its contents.

“Of course,” Evelyn commented. “That’s where everybody goes.”

“It wasn’t too crowded, actually,” Patrick said, his tone of voice even. “But I didn’t get much to eat.”

“Pull out that casserole dish on the third shelf,” Evelyn suggested.

Patrick opened the lid of the casserole and nodded in approval. The macaroni and ground beef dish was always one of his favorites. He then closed the fridge door and, casserole in hand, he ambled over to the counter. Standing across from where his parents were sitting, he opened a drawer, retrieved a fork, and began to eat the cold casserole directly out of the serving dish.

“Patrick!” his mother exclaimed, assuming a scolding tone.

“What,” asked Patrick.

“Don’t you want to heat it up?”

“No. This is fine.”

“Well, how about a plate? Wouldn’t you like to scoop some onto a plate?”

“No. This is fine.”

Davy laughed at the mother-son interchange. “It’s efficient!” he suggested.

“Thanks for the support, sweetie,” Evelyn said tamely to her husband.

“So you were talking about me when I came in,” Patrick said then, between bites of cold casserole. “Something I loved, apparently.”

“Camp Hickory,” Evelyn stated. “You enjoyed it, didn’t you?”

“It was pretty cool. Yeah, I liked it. Why? Are you thinking about sending me there as a graduation present?”

“No, we were thinking about giving you a car,” Evelyn responded, with a facetiousness that was obvious to all of them.

“Great,” Patrick said. “Then I can drive to camp.”

“Oh, you’re such a smart-ass!” Evelyn commented then.

“He got that from you, you know!” she then said to Davy, love in her eyes and a playful lilt in her voice.

“No,” Davy said. “I think he’s better at it than I am!”

“Glad to make you proud, Dad,” was Patrick’s contribution, delivered in the monotone that he often used to get attention.

“Patrick, you do make me proud,” Davy said, smiling at his son. “You make me very proud. But not because you’re a smart-ass.”

“Thanks, Dad. So, what’s the deal with Camp Hickory? Any reason it’s the hot discussion topic tonight?”

“It’s Adam,” Evelyn responded. “He told me today that he doesn’t want to go there this summer. He was very serious.”

“Really,” said Patrick, a hint of inflection in his voice.

“So what do you think, son?” Davy asked then, more interested in the situation, apparently, than he had indicated to Evelyn earlier.

Patrick, having finished the leftover casserole, walked the dish to the sink and ran water into it. As he reached for a paper towel to wipe his hands, the energy in the kitchen took on a suspenseful tone. Evelyn could tell that Patrick had an opinion. She knew that her son was taking his time to find the best possible way to express that opinion. And as he continued to buy that time, he walked to the fridge and retrieved a bottle of beer. Returning to his place at the counter, he twisted off the cap and placed it on the counter. Took a swig. Placed the bottle on the counter.

“Adam is different,” Patrick said finally, noticing the engrossed expressions on the faces of his mother and father. “Don’t get me wrong. I love him like a brother. But he’s not a normal kid.”

“How do you mean?” Evelyn asked, cradling her coffee mug.

“He just doesn’t seem to enjoy kid things, you know? I don’t know how else to explain it. Anyway, I think if he doesn’t want to go to camp, then he shouldn’t have to. And,” Patrick added, taking another swig of beer, “I kind of admire him for speaking up. I think that took a lot of courage.”

“You did like Camp Hickory, though, didn’t you, Patrick?” Evelyn asked then.

“I thought it was great!”


“I think I’m gonna watch some TV upstairs. Okay with you guys?”

“Of course!” Evelyn responded, surprised that Patrick was asking their permission. “Of course!”

After Patrick had left the room, Evelyn turned to her husband. “So?” she asked him, the question obvious.

“I don’t think we should force Adam to go to camp if he doesn’t want to. And it’s interesting,” Davy added, “I’d never considered this before, but I think Adam might feel the way I did when I was a kid.”

“How do you mean?”

“When I was a kid, I felt, I don’t know, out of place a lot of the time. Like I wasn’t meant to be a kid. I think I was always meant to be an adult.”

“But, Davy,” Evelyn chides, smiling, “you act like a kid now!”

“That’s right. And being a kid as an adult is a hell of a lot more fun than being a kid as a kid.”

“You’re a nut,” Evelyn said, leaning into him for a kiss.

What strikes Evelyn now is that Adam still does not act like a kid. He just cannot seem to escape the earnestness that wakes him up in the morning and takes him through his day’s activities. She wonders if Davy’s observation that night had been correct. She understood it then. And she appreciated it. She even chose to believe that it was true. But Davy’s comments weren’t really about Adam; they were about Davy. Adam’s true identity, apparently, seemed to elude both of them.

Evelyn makes a mental note to call Adam tomorrow. She was planning to speak with him soon, anyway, to see if he will be coming home for Thanksgiving. But she now realizes that regardless of his holiday plans, she needs to make a date. Go into the City, perhaps, and have dinner with him. He’s clearly been haunting her. How else was he able to take possession of the foray into Patrick’s age 11-14 box of old clothes?

* * *

to be continued on May 28th.

In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mom -- Faith, Sapphires, and White Light: Part Three

A NOTE BEFORE READING: This is the third of a four-part piece. To begin at the beginning, go here.


Cape Cod is a wondrous place, and there is a hill on the dunes in Truro where I became friends with Mom. Her parents once owned a house on that hill, and so we would travel there from Virginia for two blissful weeks every June. But that was during my childhood, and it is not the time I am alluding to now.

By my early twenties, the house we once had free access to was no longer in the family. My grandmother died while my mother was in the hospital, that summer of ’69. A few years later, before he died, my grandfather offered the house – at an incredibly reasonable price – to my mother and her two brothers. No takers. Thus went the house.

But it wouldn’t be long before my parents would miss the hill on the dunes in Truro – where everything is peaceful, where nothing goes wrong. So, they pooled their resources with another couple and rented a familiar house for two weeks. It was the summer of ’81, and I easily found two friends who would go in with me on a car rental so that we could drive up from New York to the Cape for a long weekend.

I was settling into adulthood then. I had been out of college for two years, and I was relatively happy with my life as a waitress-by-day/writer-by-night. I was emerging from the sad/angry person whose face had appeared on my original college ID. Mom and I enjoyed each other’s company.

The following summer, my parents and their friends, the Putnams, returned to the Cape. And so I, with a different duo of friends, returned as well. Another easy-going long weekend, another weekend of bonding with Mom.

(Me, growing into the ring.)

A few summers later, Mom and Dad once again made rental plans with the Putnams. Same hill on the dunes, different house. And this time, I was less concerned about who would go with me. I just knew I needed to go. And I planned to be there for a full ten days.

The latter weekend of my stay coincided with the arrival of Martha and her then-husband who drove up from Northern Virginia. (They would be staying the second week.) That latter weekend also featured a visit from our Uncle Gil, Mom’s younger brother. Based in Boston, it was easy for Gil to drive up for an overnight.

The night of Gil’s stay, the Putnams retired to their room after dinner, leaving us, the extended family, sitting around the table. For reasons I cannot recall, the conversation turned to the Accident, and we shared our memories.

Gil talked about receiving a phone call from Virginia. I don’t know if he said who delivered it, but the message was this: “Prepare for your sister’s death.”

He was 39 at the time of the phone call, and he told us that after receiving it, he just went outside and started running around the periphery of his family’s house in Lyme, Connecticut. He just ran around the periphery, frantically singing Beatles songs, he said.

I forget what stories my father and my sister shared that night. I probably had heard them before. I suppose, therefore, they had lost interest to me. I do remember, though, turning around the conversation at one point.

“Mom,” I said. “We always talk about what we were going through while you were in Intensive Care. What were you going through?”

Although I asked the question, I cannot recall the answer she gave that night. And that’s probably because the answer wasn’t complete. But the complete answer did come eventually. It came in pieces, over the next several years.

to be continued (and concluded) on Wednesday, May 25th.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Reruns: Smile Therapy

(original post-date: May 12, 2010)

I’m the first to admit that I’m a person of many moods. I’m not like the “united states of Tara” or anything, I’m just… I don’t know, emotional. I feel what I feel, you know?

My ex-husband, who had a great sense of humor, used to deal with my moodiness by sharing an adage from his homestate. “It’s like we used to say about the weather in Michigan,” he’d tell me. “If you don’t like it, just wait ten minutes.”

Being old enough now to understand my rhythms, I appreciate that my ex was onto something. My mood (particularly if it is a negative one) is unlikely to last. My life just never sucks that much, and so I have no reason to drop into irretrievable doldrums. When I’m in a low mood, I pretty much only need a little pick-me-up. And because I’m in a low mood, I need for that pick-me-up to be provided by someone else.

As prescriptions go, this seems like a fabulously affordable solution. Don’t need to wait for 2014, when universal healthcare kicks in! Oh no, just give me one other person – one other contagiously cheerful person. That’s all I need.

But that also is the caveat. I am self-employed, you see. And so I spend a good part of my day at home alone. I spend a good part of my day sitting at my computer. If I have a co-worker at all, it’s the radio, and if my co-worker can be identified as a downer, it’s only because I’m hooked on NPR. (Let’s face it, the real news is not exactly uplifting these days.)

I’ve been self-employed now for ten years, but this is not the first go-round with independent work. I also took a stab at it from 96 to 97 or so. At the time of that first stab, I had no artistic outlets and so I was at risk of being particularly morose. The isolation did a number on me. A painful number. I remember once, running some errands in the middle of a weekday. I had gone into a store and I happened upon a conversation between a father and his small son. Hearing their dialogue made me smile, and when I smiled, I also made a mental note: “That felt good.”

Yup. Smiling felt good.

I don’t want to think how long it must have been since my last smile, but the fact that I felt it and appreciated how it changed the contours of my mood speaks volumes. The fact that I felt it indicates that, like a good stretch, it was a body maneuver that needed to happen and was long overdue.

These days, there’s more art in my life, and that brings me joy. There also are more friends with whom I share art. There are more friends who know the artist in me.

Still, though, there are days when the isolation gets heavy. When working alone threatens to turn me into Michigan’s worst cold front. But I know what to do in those moments. I just smile. And, cheesy as it sounds, I feel better instantly.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sneak-Peek Saturdays: Excerpt Forty-Five

A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).


A third of the way into the program, when the guests are enjoying their entrees of herbed chicken, basmati rice and steamed vegetables, the evening’s Emcee returns to the stage. Evelyn looks at the program again. Although her thoughts were elsewhere when the Emcee was introduced initially, the woman seems familiar somehow.

Who is she? Evelyn wonders, flipping through the program. I know I’ve seen her somewhere.

As the Emcee proceeds to recount her own experiences with Alzheimer’s—“Grammy’s slow demise”—Evelyn finds the page with the Emcee’s bio. That’s it! Evelyn thinks, looking at the photograph. She’s that bimbo anchor from The Crime Report. Talking about the 7-11 heist or the pulled-over semi on the Hutch as if it were comparable to news from the Middle East. That’s who she is!

Evelyn closes her program and looks up, but not without meeting Joy’s curious glance.

“So,” Tiffany Broadbent concludes, “I understand what you all are supporting tonight. And, on behalf of my Grammy, I want to say ‘thanks.’”

She wipes away her tears during some extended polite applause.

“Thank you,” she says again, her teeth perfectly bleached, her posture studied. “And now!” she says, her tone changing, as per directions in the script, “I have been asked to announce that the silent auction is going to close in five minutes!”

There is a great deal of shuffling in the room.

“Bidders, this is your last chance!” Tiffany continues. “If you want to make sure you win one of the fabulous items we have put up for auction tonight, go now and make that closing bid!”

Gus and Ed both leave the table, and Evelyn turns to Joy. “I know it’s Davy’s art,” she says to her daughter, “but I kind of feel like I’m being fought over!”

“And are you enjoying it?”

“Kind of,” Evelyn replies, nodding slowly and shrugging.


“Oh, honey,” Evelyn says to Joy, as they hug goodnight on the platform at Grand Central, “thank you so much for joining me tonight. That really was fun.”

“That was. Thank you. Now, are you going to be okay getting home?”

“Aren’t I supposed to be the one asking that?”

Joy smiles at the irony. “How about this?” she suggests to her mother. “Call me when you get home, and by that time, I’ll be home, too. Then, we’ll each know that the other is okay.”

“It’s a deal,” says Evelyn, hugging her daughter again before entering the virtually empty train that will deposit her in Westchester within the hour.


Per their agreement, Evelyn calls Joy as soon as she gets home. Joy is home, too. And their mutual safety makes them both feel all the better about the wonderful night they shared. They don’t engage in a long conversation because doing so is unnecessary. They each know they will talk together again very soon.

After hanging her leather jacket in the hall closet, Evelyn goes upstairs to look in on the sleeping. She opens the door to the master bedroom. Davy appears to be in deep REM in the bed she shares with him. And down the hall, in Joy’s old bedroom, Evelyn smiles as she witnesses Claudia’s loud snoring.

Evelyn’s quick tour of the second floor enhances her sense of peace. And she is happy to feel as relaxed as she does, considering how different and unusual the night’s activities were.

Were she tired, truly tired, Evelyn might find something relatively passive to do, something that might act as an organic sleeping pill. But, despite the hour, which is decidedly close to midnight, Evelyn is not tired, not by a long shot. And she knows that part of the energy she is feeling—much of that energy, in fact—comes from the Quilt Room. From the project that is still in process.

* * *

to be continued on May 21st .

In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mom - Faith, Sapphires, and White Light: Part Two

A NOTE BEFORE READING: This is the second of a four-part piece, divided so as to keep each entry short. To begin at the beginning, go here.

Perhaps the emotional plate was just too full then. After all, ours was quickly becoming the House of Hormones. Though still in her early forties, Mom was beginning to go through the early stages of menopause. Martha was well on her way to adolescence, and I was just beginning to flirt with its whiplash.

So while Mom confronted hot flashes and other assorted symptoms over the ensuing years, my sister and I confronted our own burgeoning beings. Not surprisingly, our confrontations were as different as the two of us. Martha’s response to the simmering crockpot of adolescence brought to mind Sarah Bernhardt – weepy drama played to the hilt. My response was more in synch with the times – denim-clad rebellion in search of mind-altering drugs.

When Martha turned eighteen, Mom gave her the emerald and diamond ring. And, I’ll admit, there was nothing at all about the gesture that seemed inappropriate. There was something about Martha that already seemed middle-aged at that point, and for that reason, she always struck me as a bit of an anachronism. A cocktail ring – so clearly representative of another era – fit well on her hand. It also would fit well on the campus of the Southern women’s college that she would attend (not coincidentally, the very college where our father taught).

My turning eighteen was another matter altogether. I would not be celebrating the big milestone with my family in Virginia. Rather, I’d be five weeks into my college adventure – in Morningside Heights, just south of Harlem. And while sending the ring via UPS or something of that ilk was certainly an option, Mom decided instead to give it to me early. With no fanfare, she presented it to me in New York, the late August night before our harried day of getting me into my freshman dorm at Barnard.

I remember the look on her face when she handed me the box with the ring in it. The look was hesitant. Tentative. It was a look that said, “If you lose this, or if you sell this for drugs, I will never forgive you.”

I took in that look, and I responded with what had become my trademark, my weapon, and my armor: merciless sarcasm. “Thanks, Mom!” I said, smiling. “And I love it that the blue of the sapphires goes with my jeans!”

She didn’t have a comeback, but she also didn’t need one. She was clearly the stronger party in that scene. By entrusting me with that ring, she had demonstrated that, between us, she could be even more of a risk-taker than I.

I immediately slipped the ring onto my finger. And since that day, I have worn it always.

At the time, my rationale for wearing it was this: if I wait until I have an occasion to wear a sapphire and diamond ring, I will never get to wear this ring. Complementary reasoning went as follows: if this ring is not on my finger, I cannot honestly say that I know where it is.

And so I justified wearing the ring.

But, God, it must have looked awfully silly on me those first several years.

I still have the first college ID that I was issued (the picture probably was taken a day or two after I slipped that ring on my finger). I have kept the ID because I always want to remember the person in the picture. My facial expression then revealed a curious combination of anger and sadness. To go with it, I had short, androgynous hair, no make-up, and the hints of a tee shirt that made no statement whatsoever. Oh, and there were the zits, too. Not a happy camper.

I was an unlikely candidate for a sapphire and diamond ring, and in retrospect, it is no wonder I was never mugged for that particular piece of jewelry. Probably, any mugger who saw the ring then looked at the rest of me and thought, “Nah, those stones can’t be real.”

Yet, I continued to wear it. Ultimately, I grew into it.

And during that decade of shedding anger and sadness, and replacing them with grace and enthusiasm, something else happened: I became friends with my mother.

to be continued on Wednesday, May 18th.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Reruns: 20 Years Later

(original post-date: May 5, 2010)

This month marks my 20th year living in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles also is the place where I have lived the longest.

Although I was born in Connecticut, most of my first 17 years were in Virginia, under the care of my parents (granted, that care was rather remote during my three years in boarding school).

From Virginia, I went to New York, where I would experience my four years of college life within the confines of university housing. Thereafter, there were about seven years of apartment-sharing with roommates.

Then, I met a man with a lease, and I fell in love (not with his lease, mind you).

For a while, the man and I shared his lease in a dismally unpopular area of upper Manhattan. After we married, we moved to a better neighborhood in Brooklyn. Nearly three years into our marriage, we loaded our worldly possessions into a 15-foot rental truck, doused the cats with the prescribed dosage of Dr. Goodpet’s Homeopathic Stress Drops, and drove across the country.

I don’t want to talk about the first L.A. apartments my ex and I shared. We ran a bit of a gamut until we figured it was the marriage, not us, that needed to be “moved.” Suffice it to say, where I live now is the place I moved to when I ended that marriage. Where I live now is the place I’ve lived longer than any other place in my life.

So, here I am, in a place that I have got to call home.

What makes it so?

Something that struck me early after moving to L.A. is that this city is so many things. Unlike New York, which is in your face the minute you walk out into it, L.A. is – potentially – whatever you want it to be.

Are you a surfer-dude? Live in Venice. You’ll find your ilk.

Like shopping? An apartment near the Americana in Glendale will probably work well for you.

Need quiet? Tuck yourself away in some corner of the Valley or find a place in a remote area of Brentwood.

I’ll admit that for the first four years of my living here (i.e., before I ended my marriage and landed in Los Feliz), I was giving serious thoughts to moving back east. It just didn’t feel right to me. But now, I’m in the ‘hood I need to be in. It’s urban. It’s diverse. It’s not altogether safe. It’s alive.

I love my Los Angeles.

It’s funny. In New York, with the hustle and bustle of so many people cramped together on so small an island, you don’t have to define yourself beyond simply being a New Yorker. And if you can just get through your day, make it home, and remember to pick up the dry cleaning, you are an activist.

Los Angeles, an equally populated city, is utterly different from that.

I recall a line from Kramer vs. Kramer in which the Meryl Streep character, during the courtroom scene, referred to moving to California “to find myself.” Within the context of that movie (and perhaps because I first heard it from a Manhattan movie theatre seat), the concept of finding oneself in California sounded very touchy-feely. Like the character had probably gone to some commune in the Big Sur area. Perhaps engaged in some activities meant to release energies otherwise trapped in an inhospitable chakra.

But there is some truth to the concept of “finding oneself” in California. And it doesn’t all relate to East Coast prejudices about this wacky state that’s likely to fall off the continent following the next big tremor…

When I arrived in Los Angeles, I knew only one thing about myself: I was a New Yorker.

And, guess what? Los Angeles didn’t give a shit!

And so… I had “to find myself.”

The good news is that I did.

And I’m guessing that if I weren’t okay with the self I found, I wouldn’t still be here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sneak-Peek Saturdays: Excerpt Forty-Four

A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).


Evelyn and Joy are pleased to be the first guests to arrive at Table Number 12, and Evelyn feels particularly flattered by its location. Not bad for comps, she thinks, as they select two prime chairs, and as each drapes her leather jacket on the seat she’s claimed for the program.

“This is nice,” Evelyn says, scooting her chair in while Joy poofs out her skirt before taking the chair to her mother’s right. “I’m glad we’re sitting down before the mad dash begins.”

“Great table,” says Joy, having taken her seat.

“God,” Joy continues, sashaying her shoulders while surveying the room and noting the close proximity of their table to the stage, “I feel like such a grown-up tonight!”

“A little Chateau Waldorf, my grown-up girl?” Evelyn asks, reaching for one of the wine bottles that came with the table.

“I’m not driving the train,” is Joy’s reply.

Evelyn smiles as she fills her daughter’s wineglass.

“Thank you,” Joy says, waiting for her mother’s glass to be filled before enjoying a sip. “Oh, and I haven’t told you yet! I had a short chat with Mister Two-First-Names.”

“Mister Who?” asks Evelyn.

“The other guy who’s bidding on Dad’s art. Ed Thomas.”

“You met him?”

“Yes! While you were first talking with Gus and Ben! I spied someone signing the bid sheet, so I ran over there.”


“He’s interesting. Very charismatic. A retired architect.”

“Hmm…” says Evelyn.

“Well hello again,” comes a low voice at Joy’s right.

Evelyn looks up to see the remarkably attractive man who, apparently, has already met her daughter.

“Oh! Hello, Mr. Thomas!” Joy says.

“Please, call me Ed.”

“Ed,” she nods. “Ed.

“Ed, this is my mother, Evelyn Bennett.”

“Ms. Bennett,” Ed says, extending his hand.

“Evelyn,” she responds.

“Evelyn,” he repeats.

“May I?” he then asks Joy, his elegant sweeping-hand gesture indicating the seat to her right.

“Sure,” Joy replies, a bit surprised that Ed Thomas has been assigned to the same table.

Ed takes a seat and reaches for the chardonnay in the icer. After filling his glass and returning the bottle to its place, he raises his glass. “Cheers, ladies,” he says.

Evelyn feels extremely self-conscious for a moment, and she also feels incredibly relieved to have Joy in the chair between her and this mystery man. She wants to say something to Mister Two-First-Names, but she feels lost.

Fortunately, he fills the silence relatively quickly.

“Evelyn,” he says, “as I was telling your lovely daughter, your husband’s work is really amazing. I have rarely seen that kind of detail rendered in such an artistic fashion. It makes me appreciate why I went into architecture.”

“Thank you,” Evelyn says. “Thank you. My husband will be happy to hear that.”

Evelyn immediately feels the What?!? that Joy is thinking. And Evelyn immediately wonders why she made such a misleading statement.

“I mean,” Evelyn says, “I’ll tell him. I don’t know if he’ll be happy to hear it.”

Again, Joy’s vibe speaks to her mother. It says: Mom?!? Hello?

“I mean,” Evelyn says, allowing her hands to give the sign language that says I am totally flustered!, “he has Alzheimer’s, so I’ll tell him what I’ll tell him, and he’ll hear what he’ll hear!”

She then exhales rather noticeably and takes a healthy gulp of wine.

“I’m so sorry,” says Ed, first looking compassionately at Evelyn, then turning away. “And I understand.”

He returns his glance to both Evelyn and Joy. “My, uh, late wife… had… Alzheimer’s.”

Evelyn wants to offer the appropriate condolences, and she is about to do just that when Gus and Ben arrive, bringing a burst of their own energy with them.

“Is this seat taken, young lady” Gus asks Evelyn, regarding the chair to her left.

“Only when you sit in it,” is her clever reply.

“Great table!” Ben comments, taking the seat to Gus’s left.

“This is great,” Joy says then, amused by the banter she didn’t expect to find at Table Number 12. “The competitors meet!”

“What’s that, honey?” asks Ben.

Joy holds out her arms. “Ed. Gus. You two are the major bidders!”

Ed and Gus, each recognizing the other’s name and understanding what Joy is getting at, both partially stand and shake hands jovially.

“I think I’ve got you at this point,” Ed says with friendly competitiveness, returning to his chair.

“No,” Gus says. “As a matter of fact, I just dropped by our mutual bidding card. And unless someone has stopped by since, I’m the top dog at this point.”

“Well,” Ed says, conveying an elegant playfulness that Evelyn finds attractive, “I’m not going to jump up now, but, uh, we’ll just see.”

Evelyn cannot help but notice the confidence behind Ed’s smile.

* * *

to be continued on May 14th.

In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mom - Faith, Sapphires, and White Light: Part One

A NOTE BEFORE READING: Today’s post and the three Wednesday posts that will follow it come from a memoir project: five Catalysts and five Constants. The project’s essays are all quite a bit longer than my usual posts, so I am going to share this one in four installments.

On the occasion of her eighteenth birthday, my mother received a cocktail ring from her Aunt Catherine. Catherine, who never married, bought the ring in France in the 1920’s. It has a classic deco design – diamonds and sapphires glistening subtly in a platinum setting. It must have looked quite beautiful on my mother’s young hand. It must have looked quite appropriate, too. The year was 1945, the locale was New England, and young women my Mom’s age had occasions to wear cocktail rings. They even had cocktail dresses.

I don’t think, though, that Mom was wearing either a cocktail ring or a cocktail dress the night she met Dad. I’ve gathered it was a much more casual event, a get-together thrown in the Manhattan living room of some of their mutual friends. But regardless of costuming, they did meet, and in April of 1950, they got married. By the end of that decade, they had two daughters. My sister, Martha, was born in early 1956. I was born twenty months later.

It must have been shortly after my birth that our mother made a decision about the future. Inspired, no doubt, by Catherine’s generous gift – and reflecting her own appreciation for the gesture – Mom decided that my sister and I would each receive a cocktail ring on the occasions of our eighteenth birthdays. Martha would get the emerald and diamond ring that Mom had inherited from “Aunt Edina” – her father’s former nanny. And I, who had been named after Aunt Catherine, would get the beautiful deco piece. My mother would thereby begin a tradition.

In the late 1950’s, a sense of tradition probably had its place. And Mom had no reason to believe that her plan wasn’t sensible. She could not have anticipated the decade ahead. She could not have anticipated the dramatic cultural transformations that, among other things, would lead to women burning their bras when they might otherwise be shopping for cocktail dresses.

Maybe no one could have anticipated the Sixties. But there they were: the civil rights movement, the assassinations, the war and the protests against it, flower power, Woodstock. Events in the country seemed to unfold at a pace that was at once necessary and out of control. Those events changed our nation’s context completely.

And at the end of that decade, a much more personal event changed our family’s context. Also completely.

My parents went to a cocktail party at the Country Club, and their close circle of friends decided on an after-party. A late-night meal at the restaurant owned by one of the couples in the group. It was Friday the 13th. June, 1969. The restaurant was probably no more than a ten-minute drive from the Country Club.

My parents were not even halfway to the restaurant when a Cadillac sedan slammed into the passenger side of their tiny English Ford. My Dad, who was driving, got off lucky. Despite the car’s being forced a good fifty feet off its course, he suffered only a few broken ribs. Mom, though, was in bad shape. The paramedics had to cut off the door to extract her from the car. They also had to cut the beautiful cocktail dress she bought in Paris two years earlier.

I was eleven years old that summer; my sister was thirteen. We received the news when the Cooleys (our parents’ closest friends) showed up where we had been babysitting. After telling us the abridged version of the event (which was all anyone knew at the time), the Cooleys took us home to pack some things. Then we went to their house, which was less than a quarter-mile from our own.

That first weekend was strange – so many people coming by with food. An odd energy. It seemed serious, but not too serious, all at once. Although we were told initially that Mom had a broken arm, it became apparent soon that there was more to the story. But it was only when she was “out of the woods” that we learned how dire her condition had been.

Dad was home by the middle of the following week, and so Martha and I went home, too. But Mom would be in the hospital for most of the summer, as her ultimately extensive list of injuries included a broken pelvis, which would take a few months to heal.

I can’t remember if I ever truly felt the pain and fear that an eleven year old might be expected to experience during that summer. I knew, in a way, that I had almost lost my mother. But, I also knew that I hadn’t lost my mother. And so the “almost” was intangible somehow.

I also wasn’t one then to reveal any deep digging into personal emotions. Sure, I would cry openly for hours over a good, sentimental movie or television program, but when it came to family stuff, I was famous for my stoicism. Maybe I did appear stoic. Maybe I had to – if only for the sake of marking my own territory in a land where my older sister’s dynamics absorbed just about all the energy in a given space.

In any event, after the Accident, and after Mom came home finally, my alleged stoicism regarding the event didn’t exactly stand out in the crowd. The whole family seemed somewhat resigned. And rather than celebrate Mom’s having lived, we just tried to pick up where we had left off.

But, we each carried the Accident within us. For years, it would be a burden that we would never forget, and one that we would never explore fully.

to be continued on Wednesday, May 11th

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Reruns: I'm Two-Faced About Facebook

(original post-date: April 28, 2010)

Social networking is a phenomenon that is clearly not going to go away. And Facebook – with how many registered faces now? more than 65 million? – is the biggest party in cybertown. It will get bigger, too. No doubt about it. There are no capacity issues when the party is taking place in a virtual dance hall.

I resisted signing up for a long time. The concept didn’t hold much value for me. Besides, I have enough trouble keeping up with the friendships I could be enjoying in person or over the phone. Do I need this added sense of social responsibility?

But when the prep school I attended created a Facebook community, I began to flirt with the idea of joining. Part of the draw was the fact that the prep school no longer exists, so the virtual alumnae association had no competition off-line. The dealmaker, though, occurred when I realized that – in lieu of a picture of my actual face – I could associate my profile with the cover of my novel. Anything to help market The Somebody Who.

So I joined Facebook probably a year and a half ago. And for a while, I visited somewhat regularly. I don’t regret my early activities in that most popular cyberland. Last April, I reunited with a friend I hadn’t seen in thirty years and hadn’t been in touch with for probably fifteen years. And in October, while I was in Virginia, I had lunch with one of my best buddies from elementary school and junior high. I had last seen her at my wedding, in 1987.

I’m grateful that I have found both these friends. But I also know that I probably could have found them without Facebook.

I should also mention, as long as I’m just a paragraph away from the subject of my marriage, that yes, my ex (since 1994) has a Facebook page. And yes, I’ve perused it.

This is the part of Facebook that makes me feel particularly uncomfortable. I am able to look at photographs that have nothing to do with my current life. I am able to see which friends belong to whom. I am participating in a collective surrendering of privacy, and so I am part of the problem.

But, when you think about it, the surrendering of privacy in this realm is fairly tame. There’s just not a lot of highly personal stuff revealed in most of the postings. Take, for example, some of these comments I’ve seen in the News Feed:

“It’s Friday!”

“I’m so bored.”

and (drum roll, please)

“Fixing dinner...”

About five or six months ago, I stopped visiting Facebook on a regular basis. I still occasionally (very occasionally) get a direct message from someone, and when I do, it appears in my email. I’m cool with that. And I’m even inclined to respond.

But the postings that show up on a daily basis? I don’t know that this is our greatest moment as a species.

…Chances are I already know it’s Friday.

…If you’re bored and you choose to announce it, I will likely remember what my mother used to say to me: “Katie, bored people are often boring.”

…As for your dinner? Gee, I sure hope you take pictures when it’s done!

I realize that, in sharing these comments, I might lose a few “friends.” But in the world of Facebook, I’m actually not even sure what it means anymore to have a “friend.”