from the beginning (december 2010 to january 2012)

p.s. if you read in chronologically forward fashion on this page, you won’t be able to see the videos.  in order to capture something you like, figure out what month you’re reading about and then go to the home base and click on the month in question. i hope you enjoy the narrative as much as i enjoyed living the narrative.  although, to be fair, sometimes i was scared, tired, frantic, worried, stressed, exhilerated, or worried.

 

face to facebook
By arlynnpresser

my new year’s resolution is to meet every facebook friend i have. some are friends from college (gulp, thirty years ago) that probably don’t remember me. some are folks i’ve never met at all–including several people i am certain i don’t know at all. some are people in my hometown that i see every day–yeah, that’s you, lisa. i will have to travel to wales, mumbai, vietnam, korea, and mexico city. i hope federico will make me pizza in sienna. i want to snow mobile with christy in alaska. i want azanthiel moon to play music for me. i will face foster siblings, former employees, old boyfriends, two former girlfriends of my ex, and then there’s all the friends of my kids who have asked me to be their facebook friend without realizing the consequences. . . . .

how many of your facebook friends do you see on a regular basis? isn’t it weird to find out that someone’s relationship is “complicated”, that they had fish tacos for dinner or that they really like Justin Bieber–and then realize that you know a lot about someone you don’t really know at all?

mark zuckerberg promised me popularity and privacy. i’m not sure i got either–but he also said i have friends, he said all of us have friends, he said he’d keep me in touch with my friends. now i’m going to go one step further–and meet my friends.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 30th, 2010 at 3:31 pm.

the face to facebook project stats 1.0

I have 323 facebook friends.  Two of them are my boys–Joseph and Eastman–and I’m not allowed to comment when they are tagged passed out on someone’s sofa with a bottle of Beam.  One of them is my stepdaughter who is the coolest mom ever.  My father Justin and my sister K.C. are friends.  I have no idea who InDa Loop is–nor do I recall how I became friends with Robert Thater, Aubrey Yates or Brian Brethauer.  I have several celebrity facebook friends–Elmore Leonard, Gilbert Gottfried, Libby Hellman, Alex Beh, MC Kato, Vince P.  and news anchors Joan Esposito and Steve Sanders.   One of my friends has been dead for more than a century, but somehow, we communicate just fine.  Most of my facebook friends are in the Midwest but I’m going to have to do some traveling to Mumbai, the Philipines, Wales, Italy, and Lebanon.  On a personal note, Reggie Gholston, please don’t go back to Baghdad.  I don’t want to have to visit you there.

p.s. it’s actually 324 friends.  Welcome, Nabil!

the face to facebook stats 2.0

There are five hundred million facebook users and the average number of friends any user has is 130.  Fifty percent of active users log in every day and I do it before I brush my teeth or even get out of bed. I don’t know how many friends Mark Zuckerberg has but his facebook page lists 2,381,043 people who like him.

Oprah Winfrey says that many people want to ride in the limousine with you, but a true friend will take the bus with you when the limousine breaks down.  And it is the playwright Plautus who said that nothing is better than heaven itself than a true friend.  This is the year I will meet every one of them.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 31st, 2010 at 2:10 pm

the face to facebook project is underway!

it’s january first and i have just 365 days to meet 324 friends!  i sure hope reggie gholston does not get redeployed to baghdad!  i hope i can get over my natural aversion to aeroflot airlines!

step one:  index cards.  i’m a big believer in them.  i’ve been going through my friends and each friend gets an index card.  i’m trying to organize them by geography so i can consolidate.  some surprises:  jeffrey cokefair has apparently disappeared off the face of the earth and steve ware has moved to brooklyn.  also, i’m friends with two newspapers–the winnetka current and the winnetka talk–as well as phototronics*.  i’m not sure how to have some quality time with those last three friends.

step two:  set up an itinerary!  i already have a grand midwestern tour in mind.  a stepdaughter, a bartender, my son joseph’s best friend from high school, a guy who writes operas, my best friend from high school and his wife, and a curious couple from kankakee.  it will take three days minimum for the road trip.  one of the reasons why i think this project is good for me is that i’m agoraphobic.  i don’t like to leave the house and can sometimes go for days without actually talking or interacting in an “actual” way with anyone.  i can sometimes go several weeks without actually crossing the borders of my town.  i wonder if facebook allows agoraphobics to give in to their natural impulses but at the same time think of themselves as very social.  it’s certainly done that for me!

*facebook told me that phototronics is having a birthday today.  i wonder if i’m supposed to send an e-card to a photo processing store!

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011 at 3:15 pm

face to facebook new year’s resolution–

in order to make good on the new year’s resolution to have an in person interaction with every one of my facebook friends, i have to learn to use (sigh!) more technology–so i made and posted my first ever video to facebook.  so far, nobody has defriended me.  i actually have been rather frightened of that.

face to facebook 2011

face to facebook 2011

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011 at 4:36 pm

face to facebook challenge 324 friends plus one

this morning i received a facebook request from julianne couch who lives in laramie, wyoming.  she is friends with the inimitable and quite dead Mr. Clark (don’t tell him he’s dead, it just makes him fret).  in any event, i asked her if she understood that i’d have to meet her this year if we became friends.  she agreed and allowed as how she might be moving to iowa to make seeing her easier.  what a sweetheart!

this week–

1.  working out with winston chang–this west point grad is show this old lady how to make good on the new year’s resolutions (those five pounds) that i’ve never managed when they were really my resolutions.

2.  my hair done by rena leonard.  she’s a barista at caribou and i get my coffee there every morning. . . but i’ve never spent any time with her at all.

3.  running with lisa jarvis.  i see her every morning at the winnetka community house fitness center.  but maybe we should really be friends.

and i’m mapping out the grand midwestern tour. . . . i leave in a week and a half.  what happens if i don’t recognize people because i haven’t seen them in so long?  i think i have to develop a nice, vague pretense of being farsighted.

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 at 10:14 pm

face to facebook methodology

the index cards are piling up. each card represents a friend and each stack of cards represents a road trip.

but while index cards are low tech, there’s an aspect of this that has been intimidating: buying a flip camera at best buy, figuring out how to upload and download things. i have so much to learn!

and one of the things i learned is that i’m not really friends with elmore leonard. i thought i was but his facebook page is administered by his research assistant greg sutter. does that mean i’m really friends with greg sutter?

This entry was posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011 at 6:46 pm

my first and favorite face to facebook friend*

eastman returns to oberlin.  he is my first and favorite facebook friend.  i bought him two cartons of marlboro reds and a lighter for christmas.

eastman and i share suicide sticks on the front porch.

JavaScript required to play eastman and i share suicide sticks on the front porch.

when i started using facebook, i sometimes went through his friends list to make sure there were no sexual predators stalking him.  after he hit a thousand friends this became impossible.  i am not allowed to post on his page even when i see him tagged doing odd things.  like being passed out on someone’s sofa with a bottle in his hand.

now i will totally mortify him. . .

*tied with joseph, his brother.  there are five great loves of my life and joseph and eastman are two of them.

here is the third try–i am not very good at making videos. . .

the more wholesome version of eastman smoking on the front porch

the more wholesome version of eastman smoking on the front porch.</p

next up:  rena tortures my hair!!!! and she blames mark zuckerberg for the demise of her marriage. . .

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 at 10:11 pm

mark zuckerberg and rena’s marriage: a face to facebook cautionary tale

i wake up to rena leonard every morning.  she sees me without makeup.  she knows exactly how i like my morning caffeine drip.  that’s more than i can say about anybody else amongst my friends.

rena works at the caribou three blocks from my house.  i pick up my coffee, i go lift weights, i come back home and turn on the computer.  so i can go several days in which i don’t really have any personal contact with anybody besides rena.  oh, and lisa from where i lift weights.

but i don’t know much about rena outside of seeing her at caribou. . . and being facebook friends with her.  so yesterday, we spent a few hours together.  she did my hair because she’s a hairdresser with her own salon in the city. there were some surprises–

rena leonard

rena leonard

JavaScript required to play rena leonard.

43,869,800 people changed their relationship status to single during the year while 3,025,791 changed it to “it’s complicated.” Another 28,460,516 changed their status to in a relationship, 5,974,574 to engaged and 36,774,801 to married.  Rena doesn’t list herself as any of the above.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 at 6:29 pm

face to facebook friendship requests

mike castagna came over to the house yesterday.  he saw the index card system i’ve devised to keep track of my face to facebook new year’s resolution.  he had one piece of advice:  do not accept any new facebook friendship requests.  but i couldn’t help myself.

darrell’s style shop in kearney, missouri is my newest friend–i wrote a history of kearney, missouri which is where jesse james was born and where he was buried.  and reburied.  and reburied again. . . . still, i’m sorry, mike–i want the free manicure/pedicure that i’m sure to get when i visit kearney!

so there are 327 facebook friends, mike being number three.  when i first joined facebook, i automatically confirmed every request because i assumed that the person knew me and i would be rude to refuse a hand held out in friendship.  like somewhere there’s a kindergarten teacher who’s prepared to lecture me that we don’t want people to feel left out!

face to facebook

face to facebook

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 6th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

face to facebook kicks my butt!

facebook friend number four winston chang was a freshman at west point in september of 2001.  when disaster struck, the campus was locked down and the stakes were suddenly very high–every student understood that they were being trained for a war.  winston ended up leaving the army after graduation and he is now building a career as a rap musician.  i met him when he performed in a play i wrote.*

all women, it is presumed, lie about their age and their weight.  here are the incontrovertible facts:  i’m fifty years old and yesterday morning i weighed 136.8 pounds.  i want to be staggeringly beautiful and strong enough to fend off age.

the workout winston devised relied on three elements:  lower body strength, upper body strength, and neural strength.  all of it in eight sets of three reps.  i was surprised that it was only a half hour, expecting to have to be locked into the gym for two hours.  it was followed by sprints in the parking lot.

winston has an alter ego mc kato and i will “meet” him on february first.  i have at least one other friend–steve quick slash stu fast–who has an alternate identity. i wonder how many people do that.

click on the word workout to see how winston devised a workout based on the master fitness class of west point!

*to see more about the play winston was in, go to http://perfectlylegalproductions.com

my first trip starts next friday!  i will meet my stepdaughter, my best friend from high school, a couple from kankakee, a bartender i’ve only met once, and my son joseph’s very good friend chris redmond!

This entry was posted on Friday, January 7th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

face to facebook stats 3.0–missing persons

this year, i will visit 327 facebook friends.  i will visit them in their home countries of italy, india, korea, burkina faso, canada, taiwan, mexico, nicaragua, russia, the united arab emirates, and england.  i will visit them in states as far west as hawaii, north to alaska, east to providence rhode island.

i’m missing some friends and while i’ve already sent messages to them,  if you know anything about where these friends are, please tell me.  aawagdy hakim, azanthiel moon, claudia close, janet mccauley, jeffrey jon smith, karl thelen, kristan schmidt, lisa menzel, liza roche, lori ray, lynn nguyen, mark bjerknes, rodger gerberding, samuel scruggs, and tamme perdue.

how often does this happen?  you meet a neighbor or a friend of a friend at a party and a day or two later you have a facebook request?  most of the times, when this happens, i click confirm and that’s sort of the last i ever hear of the person, except in news feeds about what they ate for dinner and links to articles in the wall street journal online edition.

i met kenny at a holiday party and we exchanged business cards.  and i got a facebook request from him soon after.  when i realized i didn’t have the hostess’ email address to send her a thank you note, i used facebook to email him and get her address.  when he heard about this face to facebook project, he stopped by to say hi before i hit the road.  i asked him to do a short video about pesticides because he is a sales representative for black flag pesticides.

but we sat down to chat and then three hours went by.  it was three hours unimpeded (nor aided) by the distractions of a menu, waiters, other people, atmosphere, calls, emails or texts.  we gossiped a bit, to be fair, but i learned about a man who has weathered some personal turmoil in a courageous fashion.

kenny says that friendship, whever it is found–on facebook, in the workplace, at a party–is like a box you choose to open.  i think i have to get another recycling bin because i’m going to have a lot of boxes when i open up all these friendships.  here’s face to facebook friend #5:

kenny simon says bon voyage!

kenny simon says bon voyage!

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 8th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

face to facebook resolution: the learning curve

i’m still not quite sure what this project is, but i think it’s a diary.  an interactive diary because everybody who participates in this ends up being in the diary and it’s an open diary (no lock with a precious key) because everybody gets to see it.  this might be too a guest book although that makes it sound a little like i’m a hotel.

and i’m not a hotel.  i’m a gal who wants to meet all my facebook friends, even the ones i have never met.  maybe particularly those friends.  last week, i did something new–

and then i returned to not quite what i was when i got started.  which is sort of how i assume this project will turn out.  by the way, my usual new years resolutions are to lose weight, stop drinking, get organized and be nicer to mr. radnor.  this past week i accomplished the last of those . . . briefly.

JavaScript required to play this video.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

selective mutism: a f2fb meeting number 6

on friday, i leave to visit the princess of champaign and the princess of bloomington.  i have a trip planned for tallahassee and another for new york before i get to st. petersburg on the tenth of march.  but first. . .

i sat at mirani’s with an idea that i knew who i was meeting:  chris castino.  i was positive that my older  son joseph went to middle school with her son, that she was mutual friends with tiffanie sarineen and that she had dark hair.  the restaurant was closed but the owners kaven and madelaine didn’t mind me staying and christopher the waiter had brought me a stella while i waited.  then a woman entered the restaurant, pulled back the hood from her face, and . . . i had no idea who she was.  she was definitely chris castino, it’s just i hadn’t seen her in so long that i had gotten her confused with someone else.  although i had read and responded with sympathy to the facebook posts that her family suffered two deaths over the christmas holiday season.

it was a bit of an awkward lunch until i realized that one of her daughters had been friends with joseph.  ah, now i know where i know her from. . . but while i might know a little about her daughter i knew nothing about chris.  i asked her what she was doing these days.  her face glowed and she said “selective  mutism”.  uh, okay, but what the heck is that?

her daughter had a friend in kindergarten at Northfield’s Middlefork School.  The girl did not speak at school, instead only talking at home. . . .and with chris–in soft whispers up against chris’ ear–whenever the two girls had playdates.  the girls drifted apart as they were assigned to different classrooms in first, second and third grade. but when they were in fourth grade, chris discovered that the girl still was not speaking.  her heart went out to her and, with the blessings of the parents and of the northfield school superintendent, chris went to lunch every day at the school and became a verbal  intermediary, eating at the lunch table with the fourth grade girls.  but let chris tell you about it. . .

chris castino northfield mom

chris castino northfield mom

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sometimes chris neglected her own daughters when she was devoting more and more time to being this girl’s verbal intermediary and advocate.  but the castino daughters were very very supportive and today the girl doesn’t need chris as a verbal intermediary but she still needs the love and friendship of this great mom.  i left lunch realizing that i have some facebook friends out there who are doing great things–and i have to do a better job of keeping up with them so i can recognize them when i see them!

if you’d like to learn more about the subject, go to smartcenter@selectivemutismcenter.org

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

lock myself in the basement day

i spent most of the day in bed today, texting “migraine” when anybody called.  but really, just being scared.  i had a “lock myself in the basement” day.

i was born in 1960 to aleta and justin leiber.  they lived in chicago with justin’s parents fritz and jonquil leiber.  here’s the cheesecake picture (it was given to me by justin when i met him when i was twenty five)

at some point, justin and aleta put me up for adoption through the children’s home and aid society of chicago.  i went to the patrick family of western springs, illinois.  here’s a picture of me after i had been adopted–it was the day i was baptised into the patrick’s methodist faith which was important to them.  i’m the one on the left.

very soon after this picture was taken, mrs. patrick had some kind of reaction to the world and to me.  it must have been overwhelming to be a new mom to a kid who wanted to go back to wherever she came from.  mrs. patrick was frantic about keeping order.  my most common transgression was to steal candy from mr. patrick’s desk or cookies from the treat drawer in the kitchen.

she would lock me in the basement.

i might sentenced to a day.  morning until bedtime.  if longer than a day, i would, upon waking, go back to the basement.  oddly, she always let me take a book with me.

sometimes she thought the basement wasn’t punishment enough, because i was so stubborn i wouldn’t cry, and so she would make me take off all my clothes or she would mark out parts of basement where i could sit and other parts where i couldn’t.  but if i had a book, i didn’t care where i was.   sure, i did other things than read.  i devised a series of number games played on my fingers.  i can, if we meet, show you those games.  kind of like solitaire but no cards.  almost everything i know comes from the world book encyclopedia for young adults, volumes 1-20, which the patricks owned and i kick butt on the caribou coffee trivia question every day because of that series.  i would take one volume each day into the basement.

the punishments the world gives us make us stronger, but only stronger at taking that particular punishment.  i’m great at being locked up but i want to be good at being unleashed.  i want to go out into the world this year to meet every friend, to charge across streets in a city i’ve never been, to get lost on a highway, to find out somebody’s passion for their lives*, to have the whole horizon out in front of me, to not know what’s going to happen next, to accept that the world is way more chaotic than the first two steps of the basement stairewell where nothing changes and the only sound is the furnace firing up and the comforting world is printed on a page.

tomorrow i pack for the first leg of the journey.  i am commuting my own sentence.  if you’re one of my facebook friends, help me do this.

*i mean, jeez, how much better can it get than chris castino’s passion for voluntary mutism?  and i haven’t even uploaded facebook friend peter lind’s account of reopening hospitals in new orleans after katrina.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 at 7:52 am

i meet a real writer–libby fischer hellmann

i used to write novels.  romance novels specifically, and most of them are under the name vivian leiber.  but i can’t tell you the number of times that people have used the words “real writer” with me.  as in “oh, you write romances?  i thought you were a real writer”  or “when are you going to be a real writer?”  and then there was the lady who told me that i wasn’t a real writer but she was because she was taking journaling classes at the university of iowa.   i would like to believe we’re all real writers because whether it’s a thank you note to grandma for those wool socks or a twenty volume history of the peloponnesian wars, we’re putting ourselves out there.

BUT i was having dinner with libby fischer hellman (f2fb#7)… and she’s a REAL writer.  or at least what i think of as a real writer.  i knew her only slightly because her daughter went to school with my older son.  and i harbored an odd feeling towards her.  i’m not sure if it was envy or admiration–and those two emotions might just be the same thing.

she writes mystery novels and when i met her for dinner, i hoped she was going to tell me how to write a mystery.  in other words, how to be a real writer.  and i also wanted her to tell me how to get elmore leonard, our mutual facebook friend, to pay attention when i ask him to meet me.

instead, i was surprised to find out that she gets that “real writer” stuff all the time too.  and she’s a very very cool chick and when we parted i realized i still had that envy/admiration thing going but it wasn’t because she’s a “real” writer–it’s because she’s a cool chick!

buy libby fischer hellmann’s books!!!!

buy libby fischer hellmann’s books!!!!

JavaScript required to play buy libby fischer hellmann’s books!!!!.

p.s. tomorrow–stripper lessons and packing for the first trip–maybe chris redmond will teach me basketball, the princesses of urbana and bloomington will host me, i’ll learn about railroads from a facebook friend i’ve only met once in my life.

p.p.s. visit libby’s website at libbyhellmann.com and tell her i sent you!

disaster!!!! and then. . .

i was getting ready for seeing facebook friend janet sussman.  and for the trip.  i thought i was good at packing a bag.  chargers,  black t-shirt, another black t-shirt.  i did spend some time flapping my wings worrying about getting a two day trip in the chiaruggi bag. .  .  and then i freaked!!

Video 6

Video 6

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i don’t know janet very well.  we have mutual friends who are in theater.  she’s in “chorus line” in march and i hope she comments on this post to tell us all about how to buy tickets!  but this was an emergency-and i started the cancellation calls. . . i am such a damn failure.

so i called janet and said i have lost my wallet and i’m doomed.  can’t do the ahem, provocative dance class that i promised to attend. . .  and this gal showed up with chocolate, strawberries, a bottle of wine and great attitude.

here is the result of fifteen minutes of getting the janet sussman incredible love:

Video 7

Video 7

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i admire her.  i’m glad she’s my friend. i always think that being by myself is going to be  the best thing when i’m in a bad mood.  maybe being with a friend is better.  the evening ended with facebook friend charlie seymour coming over and the two of them sang show tunes at the piano.  charlie’s dog cuddled up with me on the couch.   i felt like i was at a going away party hosted by my face to facebook friend #8!

p.s. i’m an idiot is acknowledged.  i wonder if there’s a freudian aspect–like i wanted to stay home. . . ?

p.p.s. i had been at a lunch earlier in the day with stephen–my ex–and chris nelson, the director of parent relations at oberlin.  stephen had been kind enough to drive me back home.  i had dropped the wallet in the car.  stephen was kind enough to drive up from the city and drop off the wallet around midnight.

thank you stephen!  thank you janet!  and thank you charlie and eddie!

this morning, i’m off adventuring!

This entry was posted on Friday, January 14th, 2011 at 5:54 am

face to facebook modest victory!

there was enough drama that i thought i wouldn’t get out the door, but i own the first leg of the f2fb short trip!  i drove down to the target superstore in bourbounnais, illinois.  heather tyler is my facebook friend–she’s the wife of eric who is friends with john lafond.  heather is 38, adorable, and when she smiles you just can’t have a bad day!  we had lunch and shopped for a present for the princessa of champaign-urbana.

heather doesn’t always want to work at a target store although she’s great at what she does-and she spends a lot of time when she’s not at working playing on facebook:  mafia wars, farmville, etc.  she wants to do something in art history.  i thought maybe she could contact the head of nearby kankakee’s historical society and see if she could work in their museum as a volunteer just to get her feet wet.  heather and i both struggle with internal monologues that are sometimes rather dire.

i nearly cried, right there in the middle of the target food court, because the heather internal voice is strikingly like my own:  you’re a failure, you’re incompetent, you drink too much, you haven’t done anything with your life, you’re fat, you’re not all that.  in fact, i believe that heather and i might actually be hearing from the same entity.  we agreed we have to say “SHUT UP!”

here’s a picture of her just after we ate lunch.

i’m very lucky to have heather for a facebook friend and i’m glad we got to see each other.  unfortunately, her husband eric was at the food pantry and missed me as i sailed off for champaign urbana.  i’ll get to see heather later because i’ll be coming back to kankakee to see eric!

next, it was on to champaign urbana to see the princessa colleen who curtsied when she saw me because she recognizes a fellow princessa!  colleen is a great favorite with the paparazzi and so she knows how to take a good picture.  here’s one that was taken by the star magazine:

the princessa’s parents are john and alice lafond.  john and i went to school together and when i left the patricks when i was a young teen, he hid me in the lafond family garage.  the lafonds are approaching their ten year anniversary.  congratulations to a wonderful royal couple!!!

john and i play scrabble on facebook.  he beats me nearly every time.  and jonathan boyd, his friend, DOES beat me every time.  John also plays Mafia Wars, Farmville, and Sorority Sisters.  I asked “why Sororority Sisters”?   and he said it’s basically the same thing as Mafia Wars just with prettier dresses.  facebook is a hobby.

tomorrow it’s onward to indiana!  i’m doing this!  i’m really doing this!!!  i have 332 friends, including one cat and a guy who’s been dead for over a century–sorry mike i added a few friends, but i have visited with nine of them this year.  this is right around the time that most people give up on a new years resolution–but i had that moment last night.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 14th, 2011 at 11:29 pm

a face to facebook puzzle

when i finally made it to andrew pearce’s house, i was so glad i recognized him.  i had only seen him once–as the bartender of the marriot in bloomington where i stayed just once.  but he smiles like nobody’s business and that’s how you know it’s andrew.  he invited me in for a cup of tea to brace ourselves for the afternoon’s business–a photo shoot at a trainyard.  in his kitchen i found this. . .

is andrew pearce breeding snakes?i was a little creeped out, but this is a project of adventure.  of learning new things and this was definitely something new.  if you know what it is, leave a comment.

later today, i will post the pictures from the tracks, a video of me drawing fishnets on the cutest gal in all of bloomington indiana and then . . . one more mystery facebook friend experience!

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

it had to happen–i am defriended!

poor, poor, pitiful me!  i have been defriended and facebook don’t make it easy to figure out who defriends you.  it’s like they’re a teenaged girl from the cool clique who is trying to spare your feelings but isn’t really doing such a good job.  i checked the facebook friend who had been with my husband when we first separated–no, she’s still my facebook friend.  ditto the guy i wouldn’t date whose posts are so fun and vulgar that i would despair if they didn’t pop up every once in a while–he’s still my friend.  so is that guy i went out with in college and the rapper inda loop.  and alex beh who used to babysit my kid and now dates jennifer love hewitt.   i don’t blame anybody for defriending me–i might defriend myself given a chance.

but before i defriend myself–victory!  i made it back to my cozy home and if i can do a small trip i can do every trip required by the face to facebook new years’ resolution!  i can meet every one of my remaining 331 facebook friends before december 31, 2011.  this is all said in hubris.

the trip began with kankakee where i saw heather for lunch at her job at target.  she’s not always going to work there–in fact, i think she’s “work at a museum” material.  i can’t wait to watch that develop!  then onto champaign-urbana to see john and alice lafond!  they were such fine hosts and the next morning i woke quite refreshed and ready for adventure.

and i got it!  i was lost several times while trying to find the home of andrew pearce.  andrew is a transplanted brit who worked in the railway industry for twenty years.  his passions are photography and trains so this is the result of our visit:

and p.s. the train engine was running.  my butt got really cold.  andrew makes pickled eggs and declined to give me the recipe but i smelled it and decided it could be used as a diet aid as well.  in exchange for those eggs, he gets free beer for life from the local brewery.  i’d like that deal.

then a sweeping tour of bloomington and i am having dinner with my stepdaughter elisabeth and her husband steve.  elisabeth was seven when i married her father.  her brother was eleven.  i was pregnant with joseph.  i was a wretched stepmom.  i never beat her or locked her up in the basement, but i wasn’t too keen on making school lunches five days in a row and i never celebrated her successes as much as i should have.  nonetheless, she has forgiven me.  partly that’s because of grace–being a new mom really makes one appreciate the stresses of your own mom (or stepmom) much better.  here’s some important information on how to make fishnet stocking if you’re a princess and you have to dress in rugged conditions.

gracenails

gracenails

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i spent the night at the indiana union and got a call from chris redmond, joseph’s childhood friend.  i remember him as a loud, hyperactive, mischievous boy.  the guy who showed up the next morning to work out was a tall, gentlemanly man.  his parents have done all right by him.  he has agreed to be my necessary bodyguard for the asian leg of the face to facebook new years resolution tour and if anybody wants to apply for any other legs of the trip, sign up now!  here, he demonstrates how to train to be a bodyguard:

chris redmond

chris redmond

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one thing i’ve learned is that i know some friends who have purpose and meaning in their lives, whether their purpose is trains, raising grace, Jesus Christ, or even just knowing they will have a purpose one day. i hope to find my purpose.  i hope to find my way.  with my face to facebook friends, i am learning. 331 friends, 319 to go!

This entry was posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

face to facebook teammates

nothing worth doing does not at first appear to be impossible and meeting 332 people in one year seems impossible.  unless i could somehow persuade all of them to meet me at mirani’s for lunch on successive days.  otherwise, i have to travel to see them!  and today paige grant (face to facebook friend number 15) volunteered to do some of the traveling for me.  particularly the england-italy-istanbul-mumbai junket.

paige is a friend of eastman’s and is an adventuress–i am looking to her for courage and perserverence.  we aren’t sure why we’re friends on facebook.  she’s taking a gap year and most of her friends are from new trier high school.  we related over common facebook experiences.  this was filmed by lori who is joining the team as well:

paige and i share creepy stories about facebook

paige and i share creepy stories about facebook

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nothing happens without a team.  i’m starting to see a team come together.

which reminds me. . . i met with peter lind, face to facebook friend 16.  he was in the winnetka northfield rotary club with me but within a few days of katrina, he disappeared.  he was charged with the task of reopening the hospitals of new orleans and he left his family to do that task.  he didn’t return for two and a half years.  his wife, oh so adorable, once saw me in the carpool line at new trier.  i was crying.  i figure you cry in your car nobody can hear you.  i was wrong.  she got out of her car, walked over to mine, banged on the driver’s side window and demanded to give me a hug.  peter is so humble that he wouldn’t let me take his picture, much less video him.  but he told me many stories about what new orleans was like just after the hurricane blew through town.  he had these thoughts about our own emergency preparedness:

1.  always have in your house three days of water and food.

2.  in your car, twenty four hours of food and water (the food probably should be in the form of dried fruit, nuts, slim jims) and a blanket.

i would add to that a proviso that if you can’t muster up those provisions, just stockpile champagne, firewood, cigarettes, and cocktail napkins.  a black market will develop.

peter and his wife live across town but he is the designated community emergency response training dude for his block.  in an emergency, he has said i’m an honorary member of his block.  yippee!!! i’m gonna be okay!!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

okay, mike castagna, i promise!

mike castagna, facebook friend #3, has devised an ingenius map which is just the sort that indiana jones would carry in his back pocket.  it has thumb tacks and every thumb tack represents a facebook friend.  fortunately, the thumb tacks are imaginary.

and now i have  a problem that is the opposite of defriending–i’ve sworn a blood oath to mike that i won’t add on any new facebook friends, except of course for steve gondorcin my ups guy because he sends all the care packages to reggie, joseph and eastman.  and of course lorraine hara yolles who has been so sweet to invite me to her home for parties.  in winnetka, most people don’t invite single, divorced or widowed women into their homes.  it’s considered bad luck.  so if lorraine and steve are so nice to me, how can i not say yes when they want to be my friend?

my two best friends of my life are not on facebook and, in fact, are dead.  dick and vivian eastman were in their mid sixties when they met the teenager me.  they shared their family with me, which is the greatest gift of friendship.  they both passed within the last several years and i still miss them.

when the grant family says that paige can travel with me on some of my face to facebook trips, they are sharing their most important treasure.  and i’m very grateful.   if anybody else wants to travel with me on any of the legs of the journey, the sign up sheets are posted now. . . .

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

connie yonan, f2fb#17, saving the world one hundred butterflies at a time!

the day connie yonan decides to become a hostess for qvc, i want to be her agent.  because fifteeen percent of connie yonan’s enthusiasm is quite enough to keep me in pretty dresses and champagn.

part of her charm is that she has found something she is completely passionate about.  watch her talk about it herself:

butterflies

butterflies

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the passion she brings to raising butterflies translates into every aspect of what she does:  she’s on a fundraising board of the winnetka community house with me and every time she discusses a new project, her eyes light up, her voice rises just a bit, the smiles are quick and bright.  i have known connie for nearly ten years and i’m not sure i’ve ever seen her feeling down. . . . i want to learn her secret, but i don’t think i want to raise butterflies.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 7:51 pm

my defriended facebook friend

when i first joined facebook, there were three status choices:  single, married, it’s complicated.  i was separated from stephen and i picked single because it seemed the most sensible.  i didn’t know you had an option to not have a status.  and when more choices were offered, i didn’t know how to change my status.  it was easier to just get divorced.  . . .

when stephen joined facebook, it seemed the civilized thing to do to friend each other.  but that didn’t work out at all.  deeply uncivilized, we made an agreement:

Moviestephen

Moviestephen

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stephen and i were married for over twenty years.  he was married before to carole smith, who lives about six blocks away from my house.  she’s my facebook friend.  occasionally carole, her partner, elisabeth, elisabeth’s husband, grace (she of the fishnets), joseph, eastman and i will get together for holidays.  i think it’s very important for joseph and eastman to have good relationships with stephen’s children — david and elisabeth — from the marriage to carole.  a good enough relationship so that when i’m dead, they’ll have somebody to call to bail them out of the pokey.

next:  a dinner party with three (!) facebook friends including a curious story of a facebook obsession.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 at 1:31 pm

face to facebook friends #18, 19, and 20

i don’t know why i dread dinner parties.  i get an anxiety attack when i first get the invitation, another when i’m at the front door hitting the doorbell.  and then i enjoy myself so much that i have to be shoved out the door by a hostess who has subtly changed into her pajamas and bathrobe and is yawning quite loudly.

susan grooters (#18) spent yesterday making mushroom soup, pork roast, green beans and sweet potatoes, and a lemon parfait.  with home made cookies!  she prepared and served the feast at the home of her beau (#19) steve sanders.  i became facebook friends with susan and steve because of (#20) charlie, with whom i have written two books.  charlie and susan are neighbors and steve is in the same band as charlie–and all three work on the same community theater show every year.  added to the mix were mike and cathy leonard, noelle and dan and steve’s neighbor cecilia milot was living proof that french women look glamorous just by waking up.  noelle and dan walsh are world travelers and gave me plenty of trips about the coming year–as in, don’t go to the philippines until after september!

i am not mark testino or irving penn but i’m having fun!

we talked a bit about facebook.  steve is a newscaster at WGN and allowed as how the station encourages him to have a facebook page and tells him a lot about how he’s supposed to “connect” with his fans using facebook.  this sometimes has unintended consequences, as in stalkers.

mike and cathy are a particularly adorable couple.  he works as a correspondent for the today show.  he said that when he was younger and still working at construction jobs, he knew he wanted to be creative but he knew he couldn’t write, sing, dance, or paint pictures like picasso.  but creativity was a home for him, and if you’re trying to get home, you don’t regard any obstacle as insurmountable–the flat tire, the wrong turn, the horrible traffic.  so with the money the couple had saved up to be married, he bought a movie camera.  this was in 1966 and it wasn’t as simple as going to best buy and telling the nerd in the blue shirt that you want a flip camera.  he made short movies of everything he saw and went to television stations, took the artwork off the walls and projected his films.  saying “hire me”.  he didn’t care about rejection, because it was of no more import than a wrong turn on the highway that required him to backtrack a bit.  after ten years of making films, he found a pbs station that would let him do a few pieces.  his career was made.

he didn’t want to be a star, he didn’t want to do any particular kind of film, he just wanted to be creative.  i think mike leonard made it home.

last week, when i met my friends in southern illinois and indiana, one of the things i noticed was that the happiest of my friends are those who have purpose or meaning.  maybe it’s not so important whether you’ve succeeded or whether you’ve made it home.  but what’s more important is that you know what that “home” will be–whether it’s the desire to help people, to be creative, to save the planet, to be a good parent.

the party received a surprise visit from steve sanders’ colleague allison payne, an intern, and a huge dog named bear.  at last, this cinderella had to go home.  steve and susan are natural, easygoing, welcoming hosts.  and i’m very glad i didn’t have to do the dishes!

i got to talk about what facebook has done for susan while she was in the kitchen.  here’s what she had to say–what’s so incredible is that she can multitask so well.

susangrooters

susangrooters

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next up:  i have some very committed football fans for friends and i get a chance to understand the biblical admonishment to “love foolishly”

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 at 5:16 pm

face to facebook family friends–

so oprah announces today that she has a half sister that she never knew about–when she was nine, her mother gave birth and immediately put the baby up for adoption.  patricia, oprah’s half sister, bounced around some foster homes before being adopted at age seven.  the reunion of half-sisters is enough to get the tears flowing, but what’s going to happen after the cameras are turned off?

i always knew i had been adopted by the patricks–i even have memory of going on “home visits” with a social worker before the papers were signed.  i hired a private detective when i was twenty four in order to find my natural family.  i was studying to take the bar exam and i thought he was one of the most inept detectives because every week i’d ask him about his progress and he would confess that he wasn’t getting any further along in the process.  on the night i was finished with the two day exam, he called me and told me that he had found my father two months before.  he hadn’t wanted me to be distracted from studying for the bar so he had kept it a secret from me.

“you’re the granddaughter of a very famous writer,”  he said.

i thought james michener.  as it happens, it was fritz leiber, which drew a “who?” from me.  fritz was a science fiction and fantasy writer.  his son justin is a writer and philosophy professor.  justin is my father and came to visit me within the week.  i went down to houston, where he lived with his wife and newly born daughter, for thanksgiving.   i believe it was something of a shock to both justin and his wife.  my sister casey is an actress in new york.  justin and casey are both my facebook friends.

i met my mother aleta a few months after meeting justin, but that situation was less congenial–she was a public defender in washington, d.c, and not making enough money to get by.  she asked for assistance right from the start and at one point when i didn’t come through she cut off relations.  i have no idea where she is now.  i met her sister (from whom she was estranged at the time) and blanche was very sweet to me–until the day their mother (my grandmother) made contact with me.  the three sisters–blanche, aleta, and michelle–have no relationship with my grandmother alyce.  alyce is now in a nursing home in seaford, delaware and i have some facebook friends to visit when i go there this spring.

good luck to oprah and her sister patricia.  they have to make a decision about whether they want to have a family relationship or whether they are going to be friends who happen to share some genetic material.  somehow i don’t think they’re going to walk away from each other.

in other news, i met facebook friends #21 bruce burdick and #22 paulibus shumann yesterday at a go bears! party–facebook friend #20 charles seymour was having a bad hair day and it turns out he’s thought every day was a bad hair day.  here’s what happened when they went outside for a few minutes during half time.  instead of mourning the poor bears, they talked hair.  what’s fun about them is that these three guys have been friends since they were in nursery school.

badhairday

badhairday

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 24th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

face to facebook challenge–i’m going to win ten thousand dollars!

i’m having a wonderful time meeting friends from my facebook profile.  janie rah rah gibson has the most impossibly glamorous profile picture EVER!!!  and she met me at a luncheon today where i tried to palm off northfield and winnetka history books on unsuspecting diners.  after the luncheon, she and i talked about how i’m going to win ten thousand dollars finding a bride for an actuarial sweetpea:

Video 16

Video 16

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janie was impossibly  chic, in a vintage sweater dress she stole from her mother’s closet.  i hadn’t realized it was through children’s theater that janie met my two sons.  we talked about friendship . . .

janie and i talk friendship

janie and i talk friendship

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janie explained something i had never understood:  that when two galpals announce they are engaged or married to each other, it’s sometimes a signal that they are not attached.  also, that there’s a hierarchy of relationships:  going out, really going out, announcing it on facebook, and then i guess there’s marriage after that. . . . i’ve never changed my relationship status and don’t think i would unless it were legal in all fifty states.  as for it’s complicated, that apparently is what you say when you’re about to break up. . .

her mother has an interesting idea about how friendship works.  i thought about this.  there are friends i don’t see for months at a time but i know it’s tight and there’s no apologies for absences.  i know there are friends who are every day and it don’t matter.  i have some friends that are from when i was in high school, some from when i was raising my children, and some i’ve only recently met.

Video 19

Video 19

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i really like janie’s perspective, except i also think i want to lose forty pounds and steal clothes from her mother’s closet.  also, i’m going to find a bride for tom.  i want that ten thousand dollars!

a special thanks to kaveh, madeleine, connie, chief lustig, janie, charlie, gina, kevin, sean, libby, bill and paddy!

next up:  i open a bottle of champagne with a sabre under the instruction of a sommelier-ette!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

“bistro!” and how to open a champagne bottle like a cossack

gretchen miller neuman’s love affair with wine began when she was fifteen on a field trip to france.  she developed into an oenophile although that didn’t prevent her from enjoying the bottle of cold duck her grandparents gave her for her sweet sixteen birthday!

gretchen manages good grapes in winnetka where one can get a fantastic bottle of something.  whenever i’ve gone in, she’s offered me a sample and we’ve sat down to talk.   mosty about raising kids.  she has two, i have two, and we have pretty much come to the conclusion that one is always giving you trouble and the other is doing okay, but they switch positions all the time so that it’s a little like a seesaw.  but i have never seen gretchen outside the store until yesterday evening.

gretchen wanted to demonstrate how the russian soldiers reacted when they stormed through france (i couldn’t tell you which war but i’m assuming after napolean sort of lost interest in taking over moscow, deciding it was way too cold and josephine was out with other guys in paris).  they were pretty keen on that champagne. . . .

gretchen shows me how to be a cossack

gretchen shows me how to be a cossack

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in order to do it up right, you should probably yell “bistro” while whacking the cork because bistro means “fast” or “hurry” which is what russians would say when they wanted their food in a little more timely fashion than the french would allow.  now i know where the word “bistro” comes from.  it’s fast food for france.

gretchen and her family have gone through their difficulties, just like all of us.  and it’s made her reconsider her original career as an urban planner.  she now sells wine, but she also uses that urban planning background to make maps of the american vitacultural areas.  you might ask what is a vitawhateveryoujustcalledit area–it’s a place where there are wineyards.  when this girl develops an app for this, we’re all going on a road trip with gretchen!  she’s a resilient woman who has taken what she’s learned, what she loves and what she’s good at–and it’s coming together in an interesting career for her!

here’s how i did on my tutorial with a cheap bottle of the bubbly stuff and a sciabola del sommelier (aka a saber)

i am cossack!!!

i am cossack!!!

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somehow i don’t think i’ll be doing this at the next dinner party i host!  too alarming!  but a lot of fun!

January 27

since that post, i’ve had some questions about how to saber your champagne bottle.  i’ll try to be concise:

1.  hold the bottle with your thumb in the indentation at the bottom of the bottle at a forty five degree angle.  point the bottle towards a pretty fair expanse and yell “fore!”

2.  slide the blade from the middle of the bottle down the stem in a long, steady, forceful manner.  you’re not hitting it, you’re sliding it.

3.  do as i say not as i did:  don’t act so surprised when you’re a success.  assume the air of one who is bored by life, because then you will feel most french!  yelling “bistro!” is always good because nobody except us knows why you’re doing it, so somebody’s bound to ask you to expound.

4.  pour generously.  then repeat as necessary!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

max, a milestone and mc kato

i met with face to facebook friend #25 max henderson today.  i first met max when he and joseph were four years old.  they quickly became best friends.  his father colvin developed mesothelioma when joseph and max were in fifth grade.  on the day that colvin passed, max came over for a playdate with joseph and we planted hostas in the front yard.  i became a rotarian because colvin, seeing what was ahead, asked me to join the club.  i promised him i would never resign.

max and i talked about some serious issues, in part because max is doing a class in comparative religions and he is required to interview a catholic.  i’m not a great catholic, in fact i would rank myself as pretty awful.  but i converted to catholicism because stephen wanted to convert from judaism to catholicism and it was important to me that the family all be the same religion.  joseph, eastman, stephen and i were all baptized in the same mass by father mark.  he later left the priesthood and i’ve often wondered why and what he’s doing now.

conversation with max gets unexpectedly deep

conversation with max gets unexpectedly deep

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max is somebody who makes me pretty relaxed.  i’m glad he’s majoring in psychology because i think he’d be better at it than at being an assassin.

max thinking about the future

max thinking about the future

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now, a milestone!  i have booked my first airline ticket of my adult life.  i used expedia.  i’m heading for tallahassee, but i’m hoping to see face to facebook friends in palm harbor, huntsville, savannah and atlanta.  i am fifty years old and have never figured out how to buy a plane ticket!

to celebrate that milestone and to kick off the world tour to follow, the rapper mc kato has agreed to give a free, private concert in my home on tuesday.  email me for details.  if you’re reading this, you’re invited!!!

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011 at 12:56 am

f2fb ann silberman and the facebook art nouveau

there are people who are spiritually evolved and then there are people like me.  not evolved.  when i met with ann silberman yesterday i was hungry for the spiritual. .. . but when she said she wanted to color, i said “uh, what??”

ann has everything–she looks and talks exactly like what kathleen turner would look like if kathleen turner’s life hadn’t had a few wrong turns.  she has three wonderful children, the oldest of which is an indigo (which is a term i have never heard before but let’s just say genius doesn’t even begin to describe leah) and ann has business in new york, hollywood, all the glamorous places.  ann and peter have been married for twenty seven years and when annsays she’s totally in love with her husband, you want to smack her.  . . . until you realize that she’s absolutely telling the truth.  she’ll tell you bluntly that sometimes her aura is so outsized that it bumps up against people.

you can’t envy ann all this, you can only adore her and feel that every color in the room, every scent in the air is deeper because of her.  she has been a life coach and spiritual healer and i’d like her to do some of that for me, but she decided that i needed to do some coloring instead.

so, coloring.  ann sometimes likes to buy djeco brand coloring kits.  yesterday, she showed me the atelier art nouveau design kit with a series a prints by elene usdin.

ann silberman has something to say

ann silberman has something to say

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i used to get into all sorts of trouble in kindergarten because my coloring was all over the place.  and i’d bet ann was the same way.  but she taught me yesterday that sometimes it’s nice to stay inside the lines.  when you want to.

next up:  road trip!  and i have my wallet this time. . . .

This entry was posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

f2fb rough times

two weeks ago, i came to the kankakee-bourbonnaise-bradley area to visit with eric and heather who are facebook friends of mine.  eric is friends with some of the people i went to college with (although he never went to north central with me) and he has played online scrabble with me a lot.  i won’t do mafia wars, sorority sisters, or farmville with him–he’s way too good.  heather is his wife.  she and i had lunch at the target two weeks ago and for some reason eric and i couldn’t get our schedules coordinated.

yesterday, i came back to kankakee to see eric (f2fb #27) but in the intervening two weeks, tragedy had struck the couple once again–heather had been fired from target.  being fired is no fun because you feel like a failure.  but it’s also no fun because there’s a lot of work to be done to guarantee food on the table and your health insurance covered.  their car had been repo-ed so me coming down was actually an unintentional blessing.

the first place the three of us visited was the food pantry.  people who needed food congregated in the lobby of the church of the nazarene.  eric got a slip of paper with the number 65 on it.  the food, mostly canned goods and dried pasta, was laid out on conference tables.  a woman started calling out the numbers, beginning with the number one.  we looked at the food available, at the people surrounding us.  eric suggested that i take heather to the grocery store to get the fresh food that they’d need for the week and i was really happy to do that.  when heather and i returned, the pantry was helping the fifty fifth person.  eric said he was going to turn in his number.  i was puzzled, but he explained that since you can’t use this particular food pantry more than once every two months, the paltry selection wasn’t worth it.  he’d rather reserve his option to come to the pantry next month.  as we left, an older gentleman was loading up his car with items he had gotten from the nazarene food pantry.  eric helped him by sharing information about other food pantries in the area and their schedules.

i have had rough times in my life, but nothing such as this since i left college.  i will be checking in with eric and heather a lot this year, and not just in a facebook way.  although, of course, facebook has helped make it possible for me and the couple to contact each other.

ERIC, TAKE THREE

ERIC, TAKE THREE

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in other news, be careful driving in the kankakee-bourbonnaise-bradley area.  the residents seem to take it as a point of pride to never look in the direction they are driving.  i believe they think to do so would suggest weakness.  they all own pick up trucks and are truly astonished when other vehicles present themselves in their path.  i am a wary driver.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 29th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

f2fb #28 brings strange consequences

tom evans is a member, as i am, of the winnetka northfield rotary club.  he marks out his office at the caribou coffee every morning along with three other regulars.  he does something related to health benefits and, after he lost his position at northwestern university here in chicago, he took a job at loras college in dubuque.  he spent the weekdays in iowa and then drove home for the weekend–but always managed to be in the “office” on saturday and sunday mornings when i came in for coffee.

you know how you ALWAYS know when one of your friends sells avon or amway or is doing a walkathon for irritable bowel syndrome?  oddly, i didn’t find out that tom is a reliv representative until very recently.  and yet, it is something he’s very passionate about. so there are now three cans of powdered formula that are in my kitchen right now–the “classic”, the “innergize” and the “fiberstore”.  i’m to take a little of each, put it in a glass and stir it up with water.  tom said i could use vodka instead but didn’t recommend it.

reliv by tom evans

reliv by tom evans

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theodore kalagaris (the dude who devised the reliv system) was told by his parents to “be ashamed to die before you score a victory for mankind” and he devoted himself to serving others, mostly through medicine.  i wish i were as selfless.  and i wish i weren’t so shameless that when tom described the variety of medical woes that could be fixed with reliv i didn’t really focus until he got to weight loss.  if i am five pounds lighter at the end of the month–well, let’s just say i’m ready for filming the infomercial!!!

in other news, after the face to facebook concert tomorrow night by mc kato (yes, you’re invited! just email me for details if you don’t remember) i swing out of chicago and begin an arduous journey to . . . warm, sunny florida.  nobody said this job was going to be easy!

my father justin is there and my half sister casey is coming down as well.  it’s a little unnerving because it will be the first time i have gone to see him since. .. . ever.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 4:28 pm

f2fb #29 MC KATO and i go blind

today is the release of MC KATO’s new album glissando.  he will be performing at my house at a face to facebook launch party!  seven o’clock and yes, you are invited!  you can also pick up or download his songs on itunes today.  yippee!

i have made airline reservations with expedia for my trip to tallahassee.  i don’t see my dad very often, mostly when he goes to his class reunions for the lab school here in chicago.  so i was really surprised when he asked me to visit.  then i found out he’s been having a bit of a dust up with his wife barbara.  yesterday, he called to give me the entire play by play over the course of an hour.  he wants me to “observe” the situation.  i’m thinking the most placid part of the weekend will be driving up to huntsville alabama to have dinner with jonathan boyd and his family.

my reaction to justin’s call was to go blind in my right eye.  this happens about once a year and is the opening volley for a full on migraine.  i start off by saying “oh, this has happened before, i know what it is” and twenty minutes later i’m crying and thinking i’m having a stroke.  sometimes i get so overwrought that i call an ambulance, but yesterday i decided that if i was going to die it would be preferable to the embarrassment of e.m.t.s reassuring me that everything was going to be all right while jabbing me with needles–besides, there was ice on the front steps and one of them was bound to take a fall.

so i practiced self-medication: two ativan, six ibuprofen, and six pepcids.  repeat as necessary.  the purpose is not to restore my sight but to make me so relaxed i don’t care.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 at 2:40 pm

darn it! friendship, deactivation and the MC KATO concert

every winter, there comes a time when weather prognosticators get their groove on.  and an outpouring of forecasts, each more apocalyptic than the other, scares the bejesus out of chicagoans.  today, the general consensus is that the upcoming snowstorm will be worse than, ahem, the snowstorm of 1967.  the winnetka community house has already announced it will be closed.  ohare airport, out of which i was to fly off to tallahassee, is on full ground stop for tomorrow.  and mc kato has been forced to postpone the concert he was to do at my house.   his dj and the rest of his posse are going to try again later this month.  it will be the “welcome back for a little while” concert for my face to facebook project.  sometimes i am reminded that friendship requires flexibility.  especially in the face of the elements.

i thought this past weekend that a friend had defriended me.  and further, when i tried to email her, i thought i was being blocked.  i felt awful.  a little rejected.  a little concerned about whatever i had done to have her not want to count me as a friend anymore.  then i did something totally retro–i called her.  she said that no, she was still my friend and i wasn’t being blocked but that she had deactivated her account for a while.  the reasons are not for discussion here, but i hadn’t known you can deactivate and then reactivate and then presumably redeactivate again.  i  learned from f2fb #4 winston chang that many people on active duty in the military deactivate their accounts so that if they are, say, held hostage, their captors can’t use information gleaned from their page in order to harm them or their families.

and this is not to say that i haven’t been defriended because i have been by one person since this enterprise got started.

regardless of the weather, i’m fighting my way onto the first flight out of chicago to tallahassee so that i can see my facebook friend justin leiber, who is also my father.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 at 6:05 pm

a snow day outing

tao zhang and i had an appointment i was determined i would not miss!  so out i went into the tundra, meeting pam koster along the way and she agreed to take this video:

just a light dusting of snow in chicago

just a light dusting of snow in chicago

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later today, tao will send me the photos he took and i’ll post them here!  along with a video of him talking about how he turned disaster into great happiness!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 at 5:30 pm

f2fb early valentine pictures

i met tao zhang about ten years ago when we were both working on a pta benefit.  at the time, tao was just starting to explore the notion of being a photographer.  today, he’s one of the most sought after photographers for weddings, christenings, graduations, and other important occasions.  he has a particular whimsical and personal style that exactly matches whoever and whatever he’s photographing.  i was talking to him about the strange journey he has made from being a radio announcer in china to a gentleman of the north shore.

tao talks about reversals of fortune

tao talks about reversals of fortune

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and he’s happy!  really happy with the career that he’s developed.  but we couldn’t just talk–that would be a waste of a perfectly talented photographer!

we went to the stairwell of his building and took a few shots.  i’m wearing my carharts which are absolutely essential for this weather!  tao also does photography for many north shore magazines.  he’s a real treasure!

you can see more of his work or even book a special occasion picture (how about an early valentine?) by going to http://lensworkstudio.com!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 at 10:18 pm

f2fb #30 my actual dad justin

john wayne said that courage was being scared to death but saddling up anyway.  i guess today was my john wayne day.

i am afraid of flying.  i’m not sure whether i’m more scared of dying in a flaming aluminum tube of destruction or of having a panic attack so furious that i end up as a lead on fox news.  but if i’m going to make my new years resolution and meet every single facebook friend i have, i will need to get on a plane.  to seoul.  to taipei.  to mumbai.  to istanbul.  to mexico city.  and to homer, alaska.

i figured i’d start small.  tallahassee.  my facebook friend is justin, who is my dad.  he has been having some cancer issues and he asked me to see him.  that’s unusual in itself.  but this morning i went to o’hare, stepped on a plane to charlotte north carolina and got on a plane from charlotte to tallahassee to see justin.  i didn’t panic when the kid seated behind me kicked my back.  i looked out of the window sometimes.  i raced across the charlotte airport and found my gate.  i know these are the things that everybody does every day.  the proof is that the airports were packed.

but now i’ve done it too!  i’m starting my journey.

justin is not feeling well at all.  the cancer has metastasized.  we talked tonight about a lot of things, including our bucket lists.  here’s his:

justin

justin

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 4th, 2011 at 4:40 am

cruelty: i’ve got it and i’m paying for it

i came down to tallahassee all self-congratulatory.  i got through tsa, i got on the plane, i didn’t squeal during take off, i sprinted across charlotte airport to make my connecting flight, i said “i’m a world traveler” and then i swaggered into tallahassee.

justin picked me up in his white volkswagon beetle.  he got lost on the way back to his condo.  several times the sort of lost where he wandered into the left turn lane without a signal and then sort of stopped and announced “no, i want to turn right”. . . . i wanted to call either of the pilots of the day and say “excuse me, could you drive?”

and then i listened.  and listened.  i timed last night a forty minute monologue which was only terminated with me saying “yes” in response to a question.  i started the stop watch again.  twenty three minutes.  but then i had to go to the bathroom.  today, we took a tour of the campus.  we went to his office.  he told me again and again that the pictures a man keeps in his office explain the man:  and he walked me through almost every photograph before i excused myself to cry in the bathroom.  then i returned.  and he told me that he wanted to tell me about other photographs.  i returned to the bathroom.

my second trip to the bathroom

my second trip to the bathroom

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chomsky.  linguistics.  scuba diving.  particulars of french civilization.  things he had discovered about sex when he was sixteen years old.  medical advances.  his teaching assistants.  television shows he had watched.  dreams he had had.  if i interrupted with a question or an aside, he would either tell me that it was his turn to talk or that he would get to my question later.  i finally gave up.  we got lost on the campus of the college where he teaches.  we returned to the condo.  i went to cry in the guest bedroom.  he’s lost his wallet and he’s got some physical problems that are troubling.  i asked him if he talks nonstop with barbara, his wife who is now in orlando, or with his daughter casey and he said no, but that he trusts me with vital information about himself.  all in all, he clocked nine and a half hours before i did something so cruel i am quite astonished with myself.  i interrupted him with an announcement that i had stage four cancer and that both joseph and eastman had been dead for three weeks.  i pray that i have not tempted fates.  i confessed my lie.  he simply took up where i had interrupted him.  he lasted eleven hours before i announced i had to go to bed.  i locked the bedroom door.  he stood outside and talked for a while longer.  i put in ear plugs and went to sleep.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 4th, 2011 at 9:29 pm

f2fb might be the stupidest idea yet

my new years resolution is to have “face time” with every facebook friend i have.  including the facebook friends i’ve met only once.  including the facebook friends i play scrabble with online and have never had an expectation of meeting.  including the facebook friends i accepted friendship requests from because i wanted to be polite and i have no idea who they are.  including the facebook friend who is my dad. … .

my father and mother put me up for adoption when i was three years old.  the children’s home and aid society of chicago placed me with the patrick family.  that didn’t work out very well and i left that family for some foster homes before i simply ended up dropping out of high school and starting at the first college that would accept me without a diploma.  i tracked down my father when i was twenty five.  he lives in tallahassee with his wife barbara.  i have a half sister casey.  she was born just a few months before i met barbara and justin.  she is now an actress in new york.

during january i did a great job with my resolution–staying on target, knowing that there will be some trips overseas that will eat up a lot of time, like mumbai, seoul, taipei, italy.  but i have looked forward to it all because i’m fifty years old and my kids are out of the house and this might be the last time i’m free to do this.

but this is february, when most people give up on their resolutions.  i came to tallahassee thinking i would see justin (face to facebook friend #30) and casey (#31) is to join us.  i was going to rent a car and meet up with dale morgan, the smart philosophy student i went to college with and have never seen since graduation.  with jonathan boyd, whom i have never met but play online scrabble with.  with sammie scruggs, who saw my picture and sent a request and i said yes, thinking “uh, who are you?”  and with sarah roberts who sang at a wedding and we had a really nice conversation and we promised to keep in touch and we friended each other and then. .. . ignored each other.  i have had to cancel all these trips because my father is not in a position that i can leave him on his own.  barbara is out of town.  casey is just getting into town.

and i have gained five pounds.  so i can’t even say that i’m doing a good job with the new years eve resolutions i’ve made before.

was this a stupid idea?  to think i could meet over three hundred friends in the course of a year?  or do all things worth doing have to appear to be impossible? i have worn a bracelet most of my adult life.  it is inscribed with the legson kayira motto “i will try”.  i have to decide whether i will now.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 5th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

f2fb #31 a sister can be a very good friend

i hit a wall yesterday.  justin wore me out.  there’s some sort of drug interaction going on.  he calls it “academititis” insofar as he says that he has been trained to keep talking for a full hour for classes so he is unable to help himself except by talking in one hour chunks.  yesterday, in a moment of unbelievable cruelty, i said i had stage four cancer and that my sons had been dead for three weeks.  just to get him to stop talking for a minute.  i really feel like a jerk for doing that.  and besides, it didn’t work.

finally i told him to be quiet for five minutes and let me talk.  i did.  and then he got furious because i was talking about emotional issues.  so we agreed that he would stay quiet for five minutes if i chose a topic that was of suitable academic interest.  i chose the tudor regime.  catherine of aragon, the seymour brothers being beheaded, lady jane grey–i lasted three minutes.  but to his credit he stayed pretty quiet.  he asked one question about the chronology of anne boelyn’s beheading and jane seymour’s engagement announcement.

casey (oh, gosh, facebook friend #31) came into town and we are both worried about justin.  i am surprised at how patient she is with him, how wonderful she manages him, and how much real affection i feel for her.

last night and this morning i got a lot of encouraging messages saying keep going. . . i am reminded that my facebook friend william clark, who has been dead for quite some time, undertook a road trip with merriweather lewis.  and he didn’t know what all stuff he was going to face and overcome.  and i need to buck up because one day this year i’m going to be kidnapped by pirates while jetskiing from korea (to see john choie) to the phillipines (to see mark bitango rosario and his family).  i can’t be a crybaby now.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 5th, 2011 at 7:59 pm

thank you f2fb #32 captain reggie!

applications for the captain reggie gholston fan club are being accepted now!

i met captain reggie through f2fb friend #4 winston chang.  winston and reggie went to west point together.  reggie is 28 years old, has served in baghdad twice, and was part of the 82nd airborne division.  i say thank you to reggie every day because what he does ensures that we are safe.

i had cancelled every facebook friend visit because my father justin is really having a rough time.  he can’t stop talking.  in fact, as i am writing this, justin is standing over me telling me about the history of catholicism, graham greene, bimbos, early greek thinking about homosexuality, wittgenstein, and his method of teaching.  he says he wants to make a final confession to me.  it’s as if his brain was laid open and splattered onto his tongue:  he must give voice to every thought as it drops.

reggie had planned to fly in from savannah, georgia where he’s stationed and we were going to drive up to huntsville and then over to atlanta.  in the airport, as i picked him up, i quickly explained that there was a change of plans. . . .

reggie is exactly the man you want to have with you in an emergency.  he’s brave, quiet, steady, and steadying to everyone around him.  the four of us went to lunch, walked through the tallahassee cemetery and we’re going to watch the super bowl together.

reggie leaves tomorrow and i am grateful to him.  he didn’t want to do a video today because he said he wants to do something else with me:  he’s going to take me parachuting!  of course, he’s had lots of experiences (twenty) with the 82d airborne.  he said that when they do jumps, the army gives you a small bag in case you want to throw up.  otherwise, the etiquette rule is that you open your jumpsuit, and throw up into your left shoulder.  then zip yourself back up again.

jeez, if i can go up in an airplane and then jump out, i can do anything–and i trust reggie to show me how.

so sometime later this year, we’re going to take facebook friend sammie scruggs (reggie’s cousin) up in an airplane and fly!  sammie goes first, of course.  i’ll be the one gripping reggie’s hand so hard that his metacarpals break!

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 6th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

f2fb learning a new trick

captain reggie and i headed for the airport.  he had a flight to savannah.  i had a flight to chicago via charlotte but it’s for tuesday.  i can’t get the w hotel to give me an extension on either reggie or my room.  and the double tree is full.  a dentists’ convention coming into town.  or maybe they don’t like me. . . .

the ticket i bought to come down to tallahassee was the first one i had ever bought on my own.  and now i’m about to do something new–change an airline ticket.

escape to tallahassee airport

escape to tallahassee airport

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travel means flexibility.  and i am learning flexibility from reggie!  wish me luck on getting out of here because i don’t know where else to go but home.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

what fresh hell?

travel is flexibility.  life is flexibility.  strength only comes with flexibility.  these are lessons i need to give myself to.

i didn’t have much luck at the ticket counter of us airways in tallahassee.  in fact, there was only one dude behind the counter and he said “you gotta call the airlines, i don’t handle this stuff” and wasn’t the slightest bit interested in my quivering lip and my tale of family emergencies.

then i called while reggie said “hey, you gotta be flexible.  i spent my twenty first birthday stuck in an airport”

reggie was right–got a us airways rep on the line and you would have thought i was asking to have us airways provide me with a parade of elephants to escort me back to chicago.  i came back to the apartment in defeat.  but also, i came back because i had accidentally left with the apartment spare key.

barbara left to take casey to the airport around twelve thirty and from there, barbara went to her office.  i am here with justin until barbara’s expected return at seven thirty.  he has been on the phone for the past hour with his research assistant.  he is explaining to him as i write that i am an example of what plato meant when he said “if you want to catch a thief you have to use a thief”. . . i will not correct him that it is calimachus who said “being a thief myself i recognize the tracks of a thief” which is really what he wants to say.

tomorrow i will aim to get back to chicago.  i am seeing facebook friend robbie thapa on wednesday afternoon, suzanne timble on thursday and on friday i travel to springfield to see melissa coulter and steve rahn.  then i return to indianapolis on sunday to see jay schwandt.  i am learning so much about packing too–go lite!

and i’m also figuring out that i have some real good friends.  even the ones i don’t see that much!  i had only seen reggie once before in person–hey, when somebody is deployed to baghdad it’s not like you get to take them to lunch and shopping all that often!

This entry was posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011 at 9:42 pm

escape from stalag talahassee

this morning  woke up with the plan that i would pack and slip out of the guest room.  unfortunately, barbara has left for work.  justin is drinking a beer to calm himself down and he has been talking for the last hour and a half.  i’m waiting for his research assistant to pick him up.  justin really liked the computer camera and talked for forty five minutes but i don’t think you want to see the whole thing and i can’t figure out how to download a one minute clip that is really quite poignant.

i am so close to escape. . . . and i’m not scared of airplanes.  they get you the hell out of situations.

p.s. i was making my escape because he was getting a bit hostile, and in fact, the sweetest thing then happened:  the building manager ursula said “hey, just let me drive you to the airport” when i asked her how to get a cab.  she went to get her car.  justin came down to the lobby, in full fury.  he declared that he had finally figured out what i am–a superconman and that he has become a superconman detector.  he then started trying to shove me against the wall.  ursula showed up in her car and we went outside.  he tried to get her to agree to help him against this superconman.  she was completely baffled but hustled me into the car.  we left him shaking his fist at us.  it was very very sweet for her to drive me to the airport.  sometimes the kindness of strangers is very very very important.  thank you ursula!!!  now i just have four hours of reading the national enquirer, ok, life and style, people and the globe before i can get on a plane.  . . . . .

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

face to facebook safely home!

i am home safe!!!!  i nearly kissed the ground when i reached chicago but there was a fair chance that my mouth would end up frozen and, just like the referee in the 1967 championship game between the packers and the cowboys, i’d rip my lip apart trying to get back up.

today i’m learning conversational nepalese from my friend robbie thapa.  and i’m reflecting on the face to facebook friends trip to tallahassee.  here is one minute out of a forty five minute talk that i taped of justin, my father.   i think it’s very poignant.  it will be what i try to remember instead of the chaotic last ten minutes when he declared me to be a super conman.

i am so grateful to be home.

justindie

justindie

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

damn, f2fb #33 friend writes out my tramp stamp!

mike castagna (face to facebook friend #3) says about a particular, ahem, mutual lady friend that a new species would have to be developed in the event that they were the only two humans left because he would never do it with her.  there are a few gentlemen who make me think that the chimpanzees would have to take over the world if we were the only two humans left after skynet’s forces crush john connor’s resistance. . . i’m sure there’s a few guys that look at me and think “could donkeys create a bicameral government or is it going to have to be dolphins?”

my friend robbie thapa says that if he ever decides to make love to a woman, it’s gotta be me, gwen stefani or lady gaga.  in the meantime, he’s making a vow that he won’t be having any serious relationships for five years.  he’s devoting himself to his career, to having fun, to being about himself.   he’s a very happy dude.  i love seeing that!

robbie thapa teaches me nepali

robbie thapa teaches me nepali

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nepal is a place i think i’d like to go to if i were completely brave.  he showed me pictures that make me think it’s the most beautiful place on earth.

he also talked about the very tragic story of crown prince dipendra killing his father, mother and seven other members of his family in 2001.   dipendra was upset that he was not allowed to marry the woman he loved.  the woman he loved, devyani rana, was considered too common.   one of robbie’s relatives was the ambassador to india who was charged with the painful task of questioning devyani when she fled to india after the massacre.  devyani married a member of a royal indian family.

robbie has been in the united states as a resident since he was nineteen and he works as an interior designer.   he showed me what i’m going to get as my tramp stamp although i’ve always been a little nervous about this tattoo thing. .. i’ve always thought my first tattoo would be the longitude and latitude of where joseph and eastman were born. .. just like one of angelina’s tats.

so i have to ask you. .. .

tattoo on the small of a woman’s back. . .
great and describes her personality
sucka–the word you think means “courage” actually means “ho”
arlynn, don’t do it!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, February 10th, 2011 at 2:00 am

how to stay out of the police blotter from my f2fb friend winnetka current

today i had lunch with the woman i consider my mom.  she didn’t raise me.  she didn’t birth me.  she is far too young to be my mom.  but i still think of her that way, much as i considered vivian eastman my mom.  face to facebook friend #34 suzanne timble and i talked about my tallahassee trip and some things going on in her life and we were so engrossed that i didn’t even remember to take out the camera.

but.  . . .

laura michaels from the winnetka currents newspaper came to the house to interview me about the face to facebook project.  i explained that my new years resolution is to meet every single one of my facebook friends and get to know them a little better.  then we made a startling discovery:  i’m actually friends with the winnetka current newspaper.  how can you have a satisfying and meaningful friendship with a newspaper?  can you ask it to lunch?  can you get its opinion on that no good low down boyfriend of yours?

then i decided to go all barbara walters on laura michaels, who is all i’ve seen besides newsprint of f2fb friend #35 and she has some really interesting things to tell us about, including how to stay out of that police blotter!

i go all barbara walters on laura michaels

i go all barbara walters on laura michaels

JavaScript required to play i go all barbara walters on laura michaels.

tomorrow, i’m just like willie nelson. .. . on the road again!  for an agoraphobic i sure do get around!  i would love a day in bed with a “migraine” and hulu.com but instead. . ..

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 10th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

my apology to federico cenci and a horseshoe!

i owe facebook friend federico cenci an apology, although to be fair he owes me dinner when i go to siena.  fede showed up in winnetka because he wanted to spend three weeks working on his dissertation about fritz leiber, my grandfather.  three weeks is a long time to hang around my house so one day i suggested that he think of someplace he’d like to go for a day trip.

“how about niagra falls?”  he suggested.   “can we go there this afternoon?”

“fede, america’s a lot bigger than you think.  niagra falls would be a good three hours by plane and. .. oh, fede, don’t worry.  we’ll go someplace else.  what’s your second choice?”

“mount rushmore.”

oh, dear.  i finally suggested that if we were going to someplace for the day he should choose something in illinois.

“springfield,” he said, in a hushed tone.

we started off at six in the morning, got there by midafternoon.  and saw the following sign:

he wanted to stand on the overpass and have me drive under it and take the picture.  i thought he was insane.  i couldn’t understand his fascination with our state capital until we saw a dunkin’ donuts.  he cried out “homer simpson!”

“fede, you understand that this is NOT the springfield of the simpsons,”  i said.  ”every state has got a springfield.”

he looked at me–i had just revealed that there was no santa claus, no tooth fairy, no easter bunny.  i had forever destroyed an essential innocence.  sure, he was thirty two but it was a blow.

i offer up this photograph, taken just a half hour ago, as part of this mea culpa.  i was informed by face to facebook friend #37 steve rahn that this is indeed THE springfield.  in fact, look at the high school:

i drove to springfield to meet melissa coulter, f2fb friend #36.  she works at the illinois institute of continuing legal education.  three years ago, she helped me with a one time production of a play i wrote.  we lost touch, but i wish we were neighbors because she’s unbelievably cool.  we were at the westwinds lounge in springfield, a den of incredible taxidermy.

she told me that one must order the horseshoe.

a horseshoe is a burger with bread, meat, cheese and on top of that, french fries.  every restaurant in springfield has its own version and there’s not a piece of parsley or lettuce or any other green stuff to be found.  luckily, the westwind lounge where we dined was just four blocks from the memorial hospital which bills itself as “first in cardiac care”.  i’m feeling a bit, ahem, oversized.

melissa was planning an evening with her husband–ethan, their four year old, is spending the night at his aunt’s house.  my recipe for a date night:

1.  a trip to victoria’s secret

2.  a package of pepperidge farm mint milano cookies

3.  a bottle of champagne

happy valentine’s day, melissa!

next up:  i might have a recipe for a date night, but steve rahn’s got a recipe for a perfect horseshoe with bechamel sauce!  and what he’s taught me about surviving reversals of fortune. . . .

This entry was posted on Friday, February 11th, 2011 at 8:55 pm

f2fb#37 steve rahn and the recipes for horseshoes and fortitude

i met steve rahn three years ago when my business partner todd parkhurst and i were writing and producing plays to teach ethics to lawyers.  ha!  you might say–there is no way to teach ethics to lawyers.  i didn’t say it was a great idea, just that’s what we were doing.   f2fb#37 steve rahn worked for the illinois institute for continuing legal education (where f2fb#36 melissa still works) and i was so impressed with his sense of humor, his calm, his professionalism.

it wasn’t until we were driving through springfield this weekend that he said, in passing, “over there is where my son is buried”.    i cannot imagine the kind of strength necessary to go on from such a thing:  i believe if something happened to joseph or eastman, my life would be over.  and for him never to have given a hint of his personal grief before is a real testament to his professionalism.  which he is bringing into his next incarnation in private practice as a lawyer.  it’s hard to remake oneself as we get to the midcentury mark.  steve rahn, i truly admire you!

but you can’t get out of springfield without horseshoes and he shared a bit of its history.  the horseshoe was created by the head chef at springfield’s leland hotel in 1928 and the original form employed hamsteak instead of beef.  a half horseshoe is called a ponyshoe and, as it turns out, i had a ponyshoe when i dined with melissa at the westwinds lounge (if you go there be prepared to see all sorts of taxidermy hung from the walls, the ceiling, crawling on the baseboard, floating in your glass. . . . )

steve said he would have to kill me if he shared his secrets but that’s when i bailed out of the car.

steve rahn’s horseshoe

place a piece of bread on each plate, put a piece of cooked ham steak (thinly sliced) on bread.  add a generous dollop of bechamel cheese sauce (see below).  top with a garnish of crispy cooked ore-ida french fries.  in order to make this a healthy treat, wave a lettuce leaf over the top before serving (discard lettuce leaf)

bechamel sauce

melt 1/2 stick butter in a pan and stir in 1/4 cup flour.  when you have a nice roue, not lumpy at all, add two cups whole milk (or cream if you are courageous).  after stirring up the mixture, add 2 cups kraft blended preshredded cheddar, american and monterey jack cheese.  a dash of tabasco sauce and a bit of pepper.

so i gotta know:

a steve rahn horseshoe?
what’s his address because i’m on my way!
no, my lipids are too high and my chest is hurting just thinking about it.
make mine a ponyshoe!

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i have the new york trip scheduled for the twenty fourth of february and am just laying down tracks for a trip to mexico city and to the eastern seaboard.  i am so happy and so excited and so scared all at the same time!  and the mc kato concert has been rescheduled for february 22.  please come!

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 12th, 2011 at 7:09 pm.

all we need is love!

on valentine’s day here is a love story: f2fb#38 jay schwandt and his husband john have been married for five years, which in gay and hollywood years means they are celebrating the diamond anniversary. they used to live in chicago and jay worked at winnetka’s book stall. which means i saw him a couple of times a week. our conversations were really deep and meaningful:

“what a nice dress! where’d you get it?”
“isn’t the weather awful?”
“did you see that latest jennifer aniston movie?”

jay moved for love to indianapolis. his husband is a talented actor who rules the indianapolis stage and is considering a second move to new york where he will take over broadway. i drove to indianapolis sunday morning feeling a little weighed down from those horseshoes i ate in springfield. jay and i walked through the indianapolis museum of art. i was surprised by the collection, which i didn’t expect to be so incredible. and i hadn’t realized the museum would be so busy with folks who looked at the art in an appreciative way–no social climbing at this place. the chicagoan thinks that indianapolis can’t possibly have the cultural delights of theater and art, and this chicagoan is wrong.

jay had something to say about growing up and moving out of his own “winnetka” small town. . . .

jay schwandt

jay schwandt

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i’m glad there’s facebook because jay is one of those friends who would be a memory as in “remember that guy that used to work at the book stall? whatever happened to him?” instead, i’d like to apply for the position of extra sister to him. on valentine’s day, i admire the love he gives to others, including the robert indiana love magnet for my refrigerator that he bought me at the gift shop!

when i told jay i was coming into indianapolis he replied that it was wonderful, but that please don’t cry in the bathroom!!! i didn’t, although i got a little teary hearing about his commitment ceremony because it sounded just so damn wonderful!

This entry was posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

face to facebook–i really didn’t jack the car!

i spent valentine’s day lunch with f2fb#39 anne six knight who is the mom of allan knight who was, for several years, eastman’s best friend. anne is friends with f2fb#26 ann silberman and with f2fb#8 janet sussman. anne works from home and she agrees with me that it’s easy to end up not leaving the house, or at least the village, for weeks at a time.

yesterday i also talked to my sister casey who is my facebook friend as well. i was worried about our dad justin who seemed to have some sort of paranoia when i went down to tallahassee. i was supposed to meet up with facebook friends from huntsville, atlanta, savannah, and palm harbor. instead, i ended up keeping watch over justin and cancelling every sidetrip. while throughout the trip there was an undercurrent of hostility to me, the full blown attack came in the final moments.

february 15

february 15

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anne is a lawyer who works with home foreclosures. i asked her what someone who can’t make a mortgage payment should do. she said run, don’t walk to your bank!

annesixknight

annesixknight

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

f2fb preparations for being tossed from a plane

i have long thought it ill-advised to trust that a 485 ton aluminum tube should be able to soar several miles into the air and shoot off to exotic locales like pittsburgh, milan or saigon. most of my adult life i have sided with caution in the gravity vs. aeronautics debate–my son joseph went to boston university and i didn’t visit him, not once, while he was there. i feel awful about that. i could make myself have an anxiety attack just thinking about flying. i could look up at the sky on a summer day and get the shakes watching a jet streak towards the horizon.

and yet, i fly now. i get on planes. i get off of planes. you want to avoid sitting next to me because i fidget during take off and i have to sit on the window seat. but i do it. i owe the change in my perspective to facebook friend power hypnosis. his first name isn’t power and his last name isn’t hypnosis. he’s marc st. camille, which is such a hollywood ready name that i’d put an andrew jackson down on the table that it’s a hypnotism name. did you know all the best hypnotists change their names when they get in the business?

so i’m going skydiving with facebook friends reggie and his cousin sammie in huntsville alabama. i am going in to see mr. hypnosis on friday. i will record the sesion. he has a lot to say about relaxation. and i’ll definitely need to relax when i’m being shot out into the air with nothing but a parachute–the 485 ton aluminum tube is feeling awfully safe in comparison!

yesterday, i went to lunch with two facebook friends who are coworkers who are more like sisters. debra chuk and lynn aldape work at the winnetka community house and sometimes their social life bleeds into their work life–this past friday they invited me to seul’s and then to bingo night at the house and while i didn’t get to go i’m making arrangements to do that soon with them. deb is one of the first winnetkans i ever met. i admire both gals because as we talked i realized what incredible responsibilities they carry on their shoulders–stuff outside of the workplace that i never hear about. i think one thing i’m learning about my friends is that everybody has stuff they don’t talk about and everybody tries their best!

lynn and deb

lynn and deb

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every world tour deserves a kick off concert and mine got cancelled because of the horrific snowstorm–it’s rescheduled for tuesday the twenty second around seven o’clock. email me for details! it’s an excellent way for me to say goodbye as i head off to new york where i’ll visit the museum of sex, staten island, and meet with william clark, who has been dead over a hundred years but that doesn’t stop him. not one little bit!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

through facebook, a royal wedding invitation pour moi!!

sometimes i feel like such an insider! i get the chance to spill the beans on the upcoming programs at the winnetka northfield library AND i get my invitation to the royal wedding! but first. .. .

when i was growing up in the patrick family, mrs. patrick allowed me one pleasure that saved me: she let me go to the library once a week and pick out all the books i wanted. i had no friends. i was allowed no friends. i was not often given the chance to watch television. i spent far too much time in “timeout” in the basement. but i could read and the books i brought home from the library let me see a world and be raised in a world that had order and principle and a beginning, middle and end.

later, mrs. patrick would develop a paranoia that i was, among other things, jewish. this led her to forbid me from reading any books about jews, israel, most of world war 2 history, etc. the paranoia began spreading until, of all things, i was in sixth grade confined to reading sports biographies. i have forgotten more than most people know about babe didrickson, stan mikita and lou gehrig.

my facebook friends erin maassen and bronwyn parhad have dream jobs. mrs. parhad runs the children’s library and i cannot bring myself to call her bronwyn too easily because mrs. parhad is what i told my sons they had to call her. she is in charge of mommy and me reading circles and crafts programs, chess clubs and book adventures. today she was reading to the two year olds about butterflies!

at the library

at the library

JavaScript required to play at the library.

erin maassen has a background in marketing and she thought she’d end up in advertising or public relations–and she puts together the catalog for the library’s programs. she gave me a sneak peek!!! so on my calendar i have added:

1. a mini-golf tournament at the northfield location from six to eight p.m. how cool to play a few holes throughout the library the day after the masters tournament! i’ve already registered, and you have to as well if you want to get a tee time.

2. a green spa day on april 16th to create your own natural, eco-friendly spa products. i’m going to find someone to go in my place, make the products and give them to me. i wonder what friends i have that are so selfless?

and my favorite, a royal invitation:

3. a royal wedding street party at three p.m. on saturday april 30. we’ll be making royal wedding hats, read a story and toast the happy couple! the catalog says that it’s a family event. i wonder where i’m going to rent one of those–just a few kids would do, i imagine. and now i have to find an appropriate hat and frock!

for further information on the new spring programs, go to winnetkalibrary.org and in the meantime, thank you erin and mrs. parhad for a lovely preview!

i am booking the mexico city and houston trip and new york is up next week. this is such a wonderful adventure. easy for me to say because i’m not presently being thrown from a plane with a flimsy piece of nylon!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 10:05 pm

he’s not my facebook friend, but thank you mr. biddle

sam biddle writes for the website gizmodo.com and he heard about my new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends. i want to catch up with people i haven’t seen in a long time. i want to meet people in person with whom i have only a virtual relationship. i want to figure out which of my friends are the sort i can rely on and which are the ones who are the most fun at a party. i will have to travel and that’s sort of scary to me because i’m a homebody–with my laptop and my cellphone i hardly notice that i don’t leave the house much. i have seen forty three of my friends so far this year and i’m meeting today with a facebook friend who is a hypnotist–i need his help because i’m going skydiving as part of meeting facebook friends sammy scruggs and reggie gholston.

but mr. biddle noticed my resolution and he wrote about it yesterday in gizmodo. he said that the mere three hundred and thirty five friends i have is pathetic. and maybe it is. he suggested to his readers that they become my friend. i have nine hundred ninety nine new friend requests. some of the requests were accompanied by sweet and encouraging notes. i have a message box full of notes from people i’ve never heard of. i will be responding to all of this later this morning. in the meantime, i want to thank sam biddle. he saw someone who he believed didn’t have enough friends and he found some for her.

sam, if you ever want to be my friend, i would very happily say yes!

This entry was posted on Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

with a little bit of practice, i’m ready for skydiving!

i am a recovering scaredy cat. heights, elevators, flying, spiders, snakes, dinner parties, driving at night, anaphylactic shock, cats, dogs, roller coasters, anything. just anything.

it’s okay to be scared of some things. but my fear of flying kept me from doing a lot i wanted with my life. i would have to drink myself completely silly to get on a plane. and then it would wear off and i’d still be scared. i never visited my son joseph when he was at boston university and that’s just a four hour trip. pills didn’t help. neither did distractions like magazines. and it was taking more cocktails to get my courage up.

then i decided on hypnosis. i don’t believe in hypnosis. i think it’s ridiculous. i think it’s sort of a party trick or something that people do on television. often while wearing a dark cape. but my son joseph had entered a film he made into a film festival and i really really wanted to go. i went to marc st. camille, who is my f2fb friend #44. he hypnotized me for a little more than an hour. i didn’t feel any different about flying. he gave me a cd to listen to. i didn’t feel any different about flying. i listened to it and i just thought “what a waste of perfectly good dead presidents!”

and then the morning of the flight, i just got up and got on the plane. no drama. no tears. no alcohol. even when there was an aborted landing.

i came back to marc because i’ve promised f2fb #32 reggie that i’ll go skydiving with him. preferably with his cousin sammie who is also my facebook friend but i’m open to suggestions. reggie, formerly with the 82d airborne, just wants the chance to jump. me, i had to go in for a refresher session–i don’t feel any different about skydiving, i don’t think, but we’ll find out. . .. marc also tried to reinforce some of the previous lessons he had given me through hypnosis. namely courage and serenity. these are not traits i naturally possess.

in the meantime, here’s what marc had to say about how to overcome fears and bad habits all on your own. . . .

you can hypnotize yourself

you can hypnotize yourself

JavaScript required to play you can hypnotize yourself.

of course, if you want to see marc himself, just go to his facebook page — power hypnosis — or at powerhypnosis@sbcglobal.net!

the new york trip itinerary is quickly filling up: a visit to the museum of sex, a trip to princeton to visit william clark (you remember him–he went on that long trip out west with merriweather lewis) and three other facebook friends. i can’t wait!

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 19th, 2011 at 12:12 am

olá! meus amigos novos do facebook!

olá! a meus amigos em Brasil! eu tenho quis sempre jogar na praia e ver o teatro da ópera de manaus e talvez pescá-lo para pirhanas e visitar lotes das esmeraldas de Salvatore, de Baía e de compra (se eu tive o dinheiro) dos fazendeiros de meu estado de origem de illinois estão agora em Brasil. minha primeira prioridade é visitar e ser com os amigos que eu tive janeiro em 1 do facebook, 2011.
prossiga por favor com meus viagem e quando eu terminei acima com os três cem e trinta e cinco amigos que eu comecei o ano com, mim partying no sao Paolo! e perdoe por favor meu não muito bom português! amor e abraços!

for my english speaking friends (or brazilians who think my portuguese is truly wretched), i am so excited by the encouragement i’m getting from south america!!

in the meantime, my facebook friend mc kato sent me some music he will be playing at the world tour kick off party on tuesday!

http://widget.tunecore.com/swf/tc_run_h_v2.swf?widget_id=55335“>mc kato’s glissando cd

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 19th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

ole brasil! new friends, old friends, silver and gold!!!

boy, i was momentarily scared by the mention at gizmodo.com and at globo.com.  i felt a little overwhelmed, even a little made fun of. i assumed that i would get lots of snarky, sort of snide messages.  but no, i have been stunned.  new friends are just as wonderful and supportive as older (not in age, just in longevity) friends.

i’m naturally a stay at home sort.  i have been trying to personally respond to every friendship request and every message and i’m not doing a particularly good job, but i’m doing my best.  three hundred and thirty five friends, three hundred and sixty five days–i’m at forty four and although i got a little stranded by two people i was supposed to see over the weekend, i’m still on target. . .

i head for new york on thursday.  a plane–scary!  an itinerary of friends starting with richard “mop” furniss at the museum of sex.  sex???  i’m fifty years old, there’s no sex at fifty years old.  and friends–they are new and old, silver and gold!!!

ole! brasil! mexico! the world!

ole!  brasil! mexico!  the world!

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 12:24 am

mc kato concert tuesday night

a few weeks ago, my friend mc kato promised to perform a concert in my home to kick off the face to facebook year of meeting new friends.  then chicago got stuck with the worst snowstorm in years–i had a lot of champagne and appetizers i was forced to consume on my lonesome.  tomorrow kato’s going to give it another try and his new album glissando is going to be premiered. . . .  but if you click below, you can have the same experience.  just make sure you pour yourself a nice drink and settle back in a comfortable chair first. .. . .

http://widget.tunecore.com/swf/tc_run_h_v2.swf?widget_id=55335

i head for new york on thursday and my first stop will be to see richard “mop” furniss at the museum of sex.  i have considered the idea of having an “open” time to meet new facebook friends, say at a coffee shop in times square.  what would you think of that?

should i have an open f2fb meeting time when i can meet my new friends??
yeah, i’d show up!
nah, i just like reading the blog.
only if it was in my hometown.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 at 12:09 am

fritz and me

a lot of my facebook friends have entered my life because of my grandfather fritz leiber who was a great science fiction writer. he was the guy who had a story in every sci fi magazine, who put out a series of fafhrd and gray mouser as well as a lot of wonderful horror and fantasy books. federico cenci, who is getting his doctorate in literature about fritz, can tell you more. fede is my facebook friend from italy. he’s going to make me dinner one night.

because i was put up for adoption when i was three years old, i didn’t meet my natural family until i was twenty five. i met fritz at thanksgiving dinner in houston where my father justin lived in 1985.

i think fritz enjoyed having great-grandchildren. he fell ill in chicago on his way back to his home in san francisco from a science fiction convention in canada. i remember fritz holding eastman as if this baby was a treasure of untold value while my husband and i considered what to do in the hotel room fritz had booked himself into. margo, his new bride, wouldn’t fly in a plane. two fans were in attendance and they were flat broke. the hotel concierge was concerned. we sent margo, his wife, home to san francisco. i gave the fans two hundred bucks and said “watch over her”. i called justin, my father, from houston and stephen helped me put fritz in northwestern hospital in chicago. justin escorted fritz home in a plane to san francisco where fritz would later die.

and while we supposed adults–my husband, me, margo, two sci fi fans–worked it all out in the hotel room, joseph, four years old, explained to fritz how eastman worked: his sleep cycle, the things he liked to eat, his ear infection, how you could get eastman to smile. . . . fritz was mesmerized. i was supposed to be sort of in charge of the moment but i was the one who was not paying attention to the most beautiful part of things–fritz was.

a lot of my friends on facebook are from knowing fritz and then knowing me. i’m grateful.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 at 5:10 am

f2fb party and some thoughts on love, fame and money

last night there was a lovely party! facebook friends, nonfacebook friends, people i was introduced to, musicians, creative types, financial sorts as well. mc kato played his music in the living room and afterwards we had a light dinner in the dining room.

several facebook friends became friends with each other and what was the topic of discussion? love, fame, and money–the things that matter most. maximilian tam is a facebook friend that i had met only a few times. but he opened up last night:

maximillian

maximillian

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meanwhile, f2fb friend #46 rebecca chang told me about what inspires her to be a good wife. i admire her so much in how she supports her husband winston who is trying to make his career as a rapper under the name mc kato. i am divorced and i have spent (and continue to spend) a lot of time feeling like a failure. but rebecca has some wise words about married love–

rebecca

rebecca

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of course, marion and gerald scully weighed in on what they believe makes a good marriage. they are a wonderful couple–i’ve known them both for years. . . .

scully marriage tips

scully marriage tips

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after the concert, mc kato took a moment to talk about what inspires him. it wasn’t until very late that the party broke up–my gratitude to fernando ereneta who hosted the concert!

mc kato

mc kato

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tomorrow i head out to new york for more friends–i’m thinking that i’d like to meet newer facebook friends. if i set aside a few hours on saturday at a starbucks in manhattan would you come see me?

have coffee with me saturday and let me take your picture?
sorry, i’m busy
sorry, i’m busy AND i live a thousand miles away
i’m in!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 at 11:38 pm

just getting ready to board the plane. . . .

i’m at the airport waiting for my flight, freaking out a bit, no a lot. but i have my lucky flight plan, my two lucky rosaries and i have a lot of good memories of the mc kato concert at my house when every friend gave me their best wishes. one of those friends was ron o’neal. i went to college with ron and we lost touch after graduation–

ron and i sneak off to chat about young people today

ron and i sneak off to chat about young people today

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after some of the guests had left, ron remained to talk with norm eliaser. norm i met only once before, at a rotary lunch. norm is an observant jew who taught me a few things about his views on the religion. my ex was raised as a jew. i used to regard the term shiksa as pretty harmless–now i’m not so sure. . ..

norm, ron and i chat at the end of the party

norm, ron and i chat at the end of the party

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as norm and ron left a little after midnight, i thought “i hope they become good friends because of this party!”

the party was a lot of fun, but there was a serious aspect as well. rich lalley spoke to me about a project close to his heart and one that deserves our attention. jason glaser, you’re in nicaragua–you can appreciate what our winnetka-northfield rotary club is doing!

wnrotary.org

wnrotary.org

JavaScript required to play wnrotary.org.

you know, i’ve been sitting here in o’hare airport thinking about whether i should remind the pilots to fly extra safely because it’s raining. i’ve been thinking this project is pretty dumb and i should just go home. i’ve been thinking that i don’t want a tsa agent to run their hands all over me not one more time. i’ve concluded that there is no way that a tube of aluminum can defy the laws of gravity. especially since i’ve packed on five pounds since january 1–it’s that extra avoir du pois that’s going to take us all down.

but now i’ve calmed down a little thinking about my facebook friends and just how wonderful everybody has been. i’ve met and introduced you to 52 friends since january first. it’s time to go to new york–visit a sex museum, see jue and ruby, and have adventures!

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

the museum of sex . . . and an invitation

the museum of sex. THE MUSEUM OF SEX!!!! how much better could it be? i got off the plane at laguardia and told the cab driver “museum of sex” which, as it happens is at the corner of twenty seventh street and fifth avenue. my friend richard “mop” furniss works there. he and i once worked on a music video and he got his nickname from having just a wonderful set of hair. we haven’t seen each other in forever. the museum had a lot of latex. lots of videos of women moaning. clamps. plyers. pictures.

mop at the sex museum

mop at the sex museum

JavaScript required to play mop at the sex museum.

as we toured the four floors of the museum, i realized that i was on complete overload. too much information, too much sensory stuff. made me think all fifteen year old boys should be required to work at the museum because it would certainly keep them a lot calmer for the next ten years. some of the stuff was weird, some of it was gross, some of it was kinda fun, and some of it was oddly beautiful.

mop shows me an installation

mop shows me an installation

JavaScript required to play mop shows me an installation.

mop says he’s got a gig on the norwegian cruise line for a little bit and he’s going to start his own internet television station. i’m excited for him. he works a lot of freelance jobs.

we went to the gift shop and i bought a set of hearts that i thought were stick on tattoos but are made of something more substantial. like velvet. i’m not sure what i’m supposed to do with them. there were a lot of condoms in different containers and lubricants both silicon and non-silicon. plus some vibrators but i’m certainly not going to buy a vibrator in mop’s presence. i felt like everybody in the world is having a lot more sex than i am or could ever hope to have.

on the other hand. .. . mop revealed that he knows my mysterious facebook friend inda loop. she’s a black female rapper from manhattan. she has huge breasts, great smile, fantastic braids. i have no idea how i ended up being her facebook friend. i get to meet her tomorrow. . . i’m going to an actual, real, no doubt about it new york nightclub. i might have to take a nap first to stay up that late. . . .

This entry was posted on Friday, February 25th, 2011 at 1:03 am

gilbert gottfried, we’re supposed to be friends!

gilbert gottfried you’re supposed to be my friend. we bonded on facebook, didn’t we? well, i’m in new york and you’re in new york and for some reason we ain’t connecting. i think it’s because you’re a celebrity. you too, glen thater. but i did discover something about one of my celebrity friends, the rap artist inda loop. . . . it was while i was with mop after viewing the museum of sex–

indaloop

indaloop

JavaScript required to play indaloop.

people play with facebook and play with gadgets in order to express themselves. and it’s changed lots of people’s lives in unexpected ways. i used to write books, mostly romance novels, and now i’m not sure what i do because books are different. one of the first to see that books would be different is my friend richard curtis. he’s an agent in new york and continues to sell my grandfather’s works even though my grandfather fritz has been dead for almost twenty years. when i first met richard he told me about books that wouldn’t be printed on paper. i thought he was really crazy.

books without pages?

books without pages?

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i walked from one end of manhattan to the other yesterday because i didn’t realize just how big of a place it was. i wish that richard curtis could create books that communicate smell–you’re walking down the street and the most expensive perfume mixes with rotting garbage and exhaust. i met one man and bought his grocery cart and all his glass and cans. then i gave them back to him because i ain’t never getting on a plane with ‘em.
and i talked with some dudes from nigeria who were protesting in front of the consulate. i really hope the naija boys are not involved in this stuff because i do love their music.

i saw a lot of hair salons, like every third store–if everybody in new york were like me the place would go broke. i haven’t gotten my hair cut in four years. at the end of the day i went to ted baker just a mere forty four blocks from the hotel where i’m staying. i wanted to see baba. baba (f2fb#56) used to be in winnetka, he’s originally from japan, and he has a job in retail and is finishing up a stint at starbucks. i was a little tired. . . .

i find new york overwhelming. it’s about as organized as a city can be if it was originally created by handing a kindergarten classroom a book on urban planning and a box of crayons. i am hoping to see my favorite facebook friend and one of the five great loves of my life joseph presser later today. it’s about the only thing that can get me to leave my hotel room which i have now decided is “safe”.

in the meantime, gilbert gottfried, would you please get in touch?

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 26th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

i could have been on tmz.com!

i love reading about celebrities on tmz, radaronline, and perezhilton. and i got this great invitation to a party with real celebrities. including vincent peters–

vince

vince

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i woke up this morning with the worst anxiety attack i’ve had in forever. worse than airplanes. probably worse than whenever i will skydive with f2fb friend reggie gholston. i couldn’t leave the hotel room. i was that scared. new york is scaring me, it’s just too overwhelming. i would have spent the entire day under the covers but i was meeting my son joseph. he’s my older boy, one of the five great loves of my life. and he’s having a rough time of things since returning from russia–he’s having girlfriend problems and physical problems. i think you can never be any happier than your kids are miserable.

so i went to bryant park and watched the ice skaters waiting for joseph. he didn’t want to be filmed because he’s physically so beat up. we shared lunch and i wanted to buy him new clothes and a blanket. but first we met up with f2fb #57 vince peters. google him, he’s a real celebrity and he invited me to a party this evening.

i didn’t go. i wanted, no i needed, to spend more time with joseph. and the anxiety attack wasn’t wearing off. i put joseph in a cab to go home and get some sleep. and i came back to my hotel and i feel like a failure because i didn’t follow through on something that would have been a lot of fun. vince is an extraordinary gentleman. and he would have been very kind to take a somewhat bedraggled middle aged gal to a party full of the swank and beautiful.

i fail about half the time at things i try. and i consider not pushing myself this year to be a failure. i failed the minute i said no to this party.

so i just have to ask . . . vince would you promise to invite me to another party? and if you’re mentioned on tmz.com will you still be my friend?

tomorrow, flash friends party at eleven o’clock at cafe europa on the corner of 46th and sixth avenue. i want to meet new york facebook friends i haven’t had a chance to see. this is assuming of course that i don’t wake up completely scared out of my wits!

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 27th, 2011 at 2:41 am

good morning, new york!

on december 30, 2010 a lot of people were making new year’s resolutions. me, too! mine in previous years have generally included losing weight and not drinking and getting better organized. this year, i decided i would meet every facebook friend i have. at the time it was a little more than three hundred.

i work at home, my kids are out of the house. i’ve always had trouble with strange and unfamiliar places. always had trouble with anxiety attacks, particularly when i’m away from home. i would probably turn out to be a gal with sixteen cats and nobody finds my body until three weeks after i’m dead.

i picked meeting my facebook friends because it was a big enough project that it seems impossible (and believe me, every morning i wake up and think this is impossible) and because it would be a public humiliation to give up. i’m meeting facebook friend number 58 john r. douglas later this morning. i’m in new york. i’m doing it. but i can’t say i’m doing it very well.

some of you who have read this blog remember that my trip to tallahassee to visit my father justin (who is f2fb #30) was a disaster because he suffered from a prescription drug induced psychosis. i had to cancel seeing jonathan boyd, dale morgan, sarah loeffel roberts, and sammie scruggs in order to try to care for him. f2fb#32 reggie came and stayed at my father’s apartment to help. at the end, as i was leaving for the airport my father’s paranoia turned towards me. he attacked, i fled, and hours later he was institutionalized for four days.

a.m. new york

a.m. new york

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i will be very happy to be at home soon. i will feel safer. don’t get me wrong. new yorkers are fun. new york friends are great. but i’m wickedly nervous. maybe some coffee at cafe europa will help.i have been so lucky to get messages, notes, posts, emails, phone calls from friends this week–i really couldn’t do this at all on my own.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 27th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

yes, i won an oscar, it’s true!

oscars

oscars

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 1:33 am

a shakespeare, an oscar, new york is full of surprises!

i believe that every city that i visit in this year long tour will have treasures of incomparable worth. for instance yesterday i saw what’s called a first folio. it is one of the earliest complete sets of shakespeare’s works.

it is housed at the j. pierpont morgan museum, which is basically the former home of the donald trump of his time. he liked to collect books, although with as many as i saw, i highly doubt he read every one of them. and he had this first folio. which is probably worth about seven million dollars. i reminded the staff that one should never display works of this antiquity (1601, so that makes it four hundred and ten years old give or take a few months) on an angle. doing so causes the paper to ever so slowly pull away from the binding. the staff said if it was such a problem for me, i could take the damn thing home with me. i said i’d have to check it in my baggage and i would prefer them to mail it to me. besides, i couldn’t lug it across town for the oscars presentation. yes, yes, most oscars were handed out in los angeles. but in grand central station in new york, a very special one was reserved for me.

i thanked the academy, of course, but i reserved my special thanks for my facebook friends.

your dress, arlynn. ..
your stylist should be fired.
what’s with the amish look?
better than that dress bjork wore

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survey softwarea real new yorker is somebody who knows stuff that’s not in the guidebooks. like the fact that the granite lions outside the public library are called patience and fortitude. (something i could use this year) like the fact that there’s a spot in grand central station where you can stand forty five feet from each other and through a quirk in acoustics, you can hear each other’s whisper. like the fact that the algonquin hotel is where all the greatest writers of the first part of the twentieth century dined.

f2fb friend #58 john r. douglas is a real new yorker. he works for richard curtis and he had a lot to talk about with me. it was the first time we had met in person. we spent a delightful four hours touring the city.

johndouglas

johndouglas

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he had a lot to say about america and how it is corrupt and occasionally a mess. but he can say that, in part because he’s canadian.

today, i leave new york and head for princeton new jersey where i will meet two facebook friends, one of them alive and one of them very very dead. i wonder how the meeting with the dead friend will work out? tomorrow i will wake up on the 60th day of the year i will know i have met with 60 facebook friends. which is good because there’s three hundred and thirty five. if there’s three hundred and thirty six, that means i have some time left over to meet brazilians, japanese, and a host of other friends i never expected to have!

This entry was posted on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

i’m engaged! post your best wishes here!

i never would have thought it. i never would have believed i had any desire to marry again. but i have fallen hopelessly in love . . . and at first sight with f2fb friend #60. he’s dashing, an adventurer and he hopes to join me on my remaining travels! he has been married twice before, but this, well, this is truest love.

but first i should mention facebook friend number 59 lanny jones. lanny is best known for being the managing editor of both people and money magazines. he also coined the term baby boomers which is used to describe americans who were born after world war 2 and well before i was. we talked about charlie sheen’s recent troubles and how magazines have changed. there’s a lot more online and it’s all driven by celebrities and their publicists. he has his own wikipedia entry. so does gilbert gottfried, my weasely facebook friend who never showed up or even returned an email. which tells you that lanny has better manners than gilbert gottfried.

lanny lives at princeton, new jersey which is just an hour outside new york. we had a lovely lunch at the princeton faculty club. even though lanny is not actually a faculty member of princeton. i will still call him professor.

he is also famous for writing the book william clark and the shaping of the west. william clark explored the western united states with merriweather lewis in the early 1800s after president thomas jefferson purchased the land from the french (commonly called the louisiana purchase). that’s enough history for one blog.

lanny seems to think that william clark is a bit of blowhard, maybe even a jerk. he confided this to me in the foyer outside the faculty dining room.  and i have the video to prove it but i’m having technical difficulties uploading lanny’s video.  argh!

it’s on my facebook page so you’ll have to switch over there for more of the story.

but i do have the poem that lanny told me i must remember when i am on my journey.  it’s by c.p. cavafy–

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 at 2:37 pm

my technical problems resolved, i may have to change my facebook status

i was at lunch yesterday with lanny jones (f2fb #59) to be sure.  but we were joined by f2fb #60 the elusive and devastatingly handsome william clark.  he is a shy adventurer who went on his own version of my new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends–he joined up with merriweather lewis to go from what was in his time the western border of the united states of america all the way to the western coast.  the duo was helped, in part, by a native american woman called sacajawea.

mr. clark is of another time and very courtly.  he wooed me quite properly and then, realizing that i am on a year long mission, asked me to consider a proposal.  i accepted with the proviso that i could not, of course, be wed this year.   i have more pressing matters.  yet,  i am so very charmed. .. . and in love.

my happy news!

my happy news!

JavaScript required to play my happy news!.

he most definitely did put a ring on it!

lanny jones is mr. clark’s biographer, with the book william clark and the shaping of the west.  lanny created william clark’s facebook page.

engagement news

engagement news

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i was very chagrined by the lag time between my announcement of my engagement and my putting up this post.  wordpress screwed up their system for uploading videos (it’s also known as “upgraded”) and i couldn’t figure out a way around it.  i was interviewed this morning on wciu television in chicago.  i didn’t realize i was on television.  i was in my bathrobe and my teeth were as yet unbrushed.  but  jeanne and melissa called me on the phone from a show called “morning and me”.  and then i had to run off to see facebook friend #61, my son joseph, who has deleted his facebook account as has his ex-girlfriend.  deleting an account is a more severe form of deactivating an account  and he’ll explain his revolt against the zuckerberg system in my next posting.  for the moment, i’m in laguardia airport hoping to get on an earlier plane and make it home.  sweet home.

if i’m engaged to mr. clark, do i necessarily need to change my facebook status?  or should i just say it’s complicated?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 at 10:04 pm

new york new year f2fb stats and . . .

i thought i couldn’t do it–getting to new york, visiting friends, even making a side trip to new jersey–and you know what? i didn’t do it! not at all. sure, it was me on the plane and in the sex museum and at the algonquin and the faculty club of princeton university, sitting with baba at ted baker and almost going to a party of celebrities with vince p.

but it wouldn’t have happened without friends. friends who called me the morning i left for new york and said you can do this. you can get on that plane. friends who texted me, messaged me, emailed me, posted encouraging words on my wall or even the friends i met in new york who said “get out of your damn shell and let’s go see the city!” friends i’ve known forever, friends i’ve only recently met, friends i haven’t even met at all! the experience has made me think i will remember next time i have a friend who needs some bucking up that i will do it. i’ll be the one to call, to text, to message, to give hugs.

now, i have a video to share with you of f2fb #61 my son joseph but wordpress isn’t cooperating so i thought i’d share the news that on friday i’ll signing books at the book stall in winnetka at six o’clock. the book stall is on the 700 block of elm street in winnetka.

northfield cover

and here’s the early spring tally on my new years resolution:

61: the day of the year, 304 remaining
61: the number of facebook friends i have met, 274 remaining
1698: the number of facebook friends i now have
1363: the number of facebook friends i will try to meet outside of this project (viva brasil! viva japan!)
9: the number of friends i met in new york city
2: the number of facebook friends in new york city who did not respond to emails, messages, or wall posts (gillbert gottfried and glen thater)
3: the number of friends who deactivated their accounts while i was in new york (explanation in future post)

so i have to ask you

defriend gilbert and glen?
absolutely!
wait, maybe you’ll meet them later in the year
facebook is just like that

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online surveyi leave for a michigan excursion at the end of the week and then i have a few small trips before the first international trip to mexico city. viva mexico!!!!

and p.s. this problem with uploading videos is driving me nuts!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 at 3:25 pm

de-leting, de-activating, de-lightful!

somewhere over lake michigan on the flight home, i grabbed the hand of the lady sitting beside me.  i was that scared.  she didn’t react well.  but this is a risk one takes, the unexpected intimacy, during travel.

still, the aluminum tube, all every how many tons of it, was guided safely to a terminal at o’hare airport and i turned my phone back on to discover a strange message.  but first. . .

while i was in new york, i was supposed to take the ferry to staten island to meet my older son joseph (f2fb #61)  his girlfriend who would have been, should have been, could have been f2fb #62.  instead they broke up this weekend.

they have a lot of mutual friends.  friends who are on facebook.  friends who are updating, posting, commenting, liking and–if facebook had this option–disliking.  so they made a pact to delete their accounts.  deleting is a little more permanent than deactivating.  there is a two week window within which either of them can reclaim their posts, their friends, their photos, their feed.  i think it’s a wonderful cleansing thing to do.  although i wondered. . . .

joseph presser

joseph presser

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when i got my messages in chicago,  i got a message from a facebook friend who said “just want you to know i’m deactivating my account”.  i called him.  he is a wonderful man.  handsome.  smart.  great job.  early thirties.  single.  everything coming together for him.  and he was always on facebook–posting pictures, i.m.ing, commenting.  but he had a rough valentine’s day watching all the posts from all the ladies posting pictures of the great time they had on valentine’s day and all the small slights and hurts that come from facebook.

now for delightful. . . .i am signing copies of my book about the history of northfield and my history of winnetka at the book stall in winnetka on friday at six p.m. and then  there’s the grand march through michigan!  i will meet with the beautiful and talented donna leonard and linda glaser and i hope to ride a horse (which will surely result in my ass hitting the ground with a thump!) and watch a movie that stars my son eastman!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 at 9:31 pm

i am outwitted by f2fb #62 and the unbearable darkness of cool

it is exactly the sort of thing that facebook is intended for:  i was having dinner with a friend from law school i hadn’t seen in, yes, dare i say it?, twenty five years!  there was a lot of life to catch up on.  he lives in san francisco, is married, has twins who are eight years old, and a law practice that seems to make him happy.  all lawyers are desperately unhappy, i was one and can say this with confidence, but he seemed pretty cool with it all.

and i had my life to tell him about:  the rumanian prince, that bungled heist in monte carlo,  clothes i loaned lady gaga.

and then i realized there could be no pictures, no video.

not because he’s famous and his bodyguards would have to kill me.  not because he’s debiliatated in some way that wouldn’t make for a good blog.  but because it was so damn dark.

the violet hour is in a building that looks from the outside like a boarded up warehouse.  the cab driver who deposited me at its steps was so nervous he first walked in, cased the place and came out to escort me into the restaurant.  and i use the term restaurant lightly because it seemed to me to be just a lot of rooms with black curtains and candles (fire department alert!).   drinks were made with droppers and food was an artistic endeavor.  but i got to see michael lieberman, f2fb #62.  or at least someone who claimed he was michael.

but i couldn’t take a picture because everything i tried turned out the same:  black.  somehow i think michael picked the place for that very reason.

so instead of unloading on his shocking gossip, i’ll pass along this–i’ll be signing books at the book stall this evening at six o’clock. on elm street in winnetka. can’t miss the place. hope to see you there!

i’ll be there tonight.  i hope you can make it.  there’s sure to be lights!

This entry was posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

f2fb friend roberta rubin plays online scrabble too! i bet she’d kick my butt!

it’s gray outside, snowing, cold. seven a.m. on a saturday morning–the perfect time to roll over, pull the covers up, and go back to sleep. will i? but i have to be in saugatuck michigan in slightly more than four hours to meet f2fb friend #64 donna leonard whom i have only met once, last summer, when she hosted a house party to which i was invited. and from there i strike north to grand rapids to spend the evening with f2fb friend #65 linda glaser whose son once directed eastman in a movie. nothing against these two wonderful gal pals, but i really would like to sleep in!

yesterday it rained hideously, and again, i wanted to stay in, but i had to attend a joint winnetka and northfield chamber of commerce event–i have written a history of winnetka and another of northfield. chamber members, some of them my friends and all of them friends of the two villages, came together in the book stall. the book stall is owned by roberta rubin. i have had a house account there since i first moved to winnetka nineteen years ago, it is one of the last independent book stores and yes, jay, i told everybody you said hi from indianapolis. i was thinking about richard curtis and his conviction that books made out of mashed wood pulp were a historical oddity. roberta had some interesting thoughts:

roberta

roberta

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i was taking a friend with me on this michigan leg of the trip. it was to be an experiment in being on a roadtrip together. we had plans of possibly going together on the more challenging legs of the trip that would include the phillipines (hey, mark and azanthiel!), korea (hi, john!), homer alaska (hey, miss sweetpea!), taiwan (warner, you could just move back to chicago) and hawaii (hey, sherry!). but this friend’s parents realized this project has a high prospect of failure, that things i do don’t necessarily turn out well, and that having a job at twenty two should be the focus. further, the parents are concerned that the traditional family vacation will be disrupted. if i succeed at this project, maybe this friend will travel with me–i hope so. for the moment, until i prove myself, i am on my own. and maybe that’s a good thing but it means i can’t sleep in the car.

okay, if you promise you won’t tell anybody, how about if i just take a half hour snooze? shhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

f2fb #64 gives me a lesson in painting

i had heard about donna leonard’s late summer house party. a three day frat party on the eastern shore of lake michigan. the late nights. the raucous meals. the carousing. when i got the invitation last year, i knew i had to go. it was exactly worth it although my bathing suit top slipped off while i was swimming in the lake on saturday afternoon. i had to remain in the water until nearly ten o’clock before sneaking back to the house!

donna is 65 and has a life we all can envy . . . because she is doing exactly what her passion dictates. her passion is for art and for animals. she has nine cats, three dogs, one parrot, a horse named tiny and i’m convinced that she was just lowballing those figures. tiny kissed me, so did a few of the dogs and my lips swelled up like i had visited a hollywood plastic surgeon’s office. donna had to give me a benadryl.

she has an exuberant style of painting and she has an exuberant style of life. she paints and draws constantly, and her studio was full of books of her work. when you like to do something, you do a lot of it and you get better and better at it. whatever that thing is you should make it your life’s work. today, when i drove to saugatuck michigan to see her, she showed me how she is painting a piece commissioned for a horse dealer.

donna leonard

donna leonard

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i noticed donna’s paintings had some paw prints on it. a pet raccoon. donna doesn’t stress about that–she incorporates an apparent imperfection into the painting. when i left her studio i think i might have left the smallest footprint as well. i’m now a part of her artwork.

she’s invited me back to the late summer party–but she’s also said come back anytime which is particularly touching because before today i was a friend of a cousin. now i’m a friend! i think i have a hideout for when i decide the world is too much.

from saugatuck i headed northeast for grand rapids where i am to stay with the glaser family. linda and richard glaser’s son jason directed my youngest son eastman in a teen exploitation movie about grandpa-cide called “grandpa’s gotta go”. the glasers hosted thirty film students in their home and allowed their house to be used as the backdrop of the film. it was a longer version of a donna leonard house party. but with tangible evidence.

at donna’s parties, what happens in saugatuck is really supposed to stay in saugatuck. including my bathing suit top.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 6th, 2011 at 5:06 am

maple syrup, grandpa’s gotta go, and a one hundred dollar offer for you!

quick, take out a sheet of paper and write down the name of every person you saw on a daily basis ten years ago. the guy behind the counter at the grocery store. the cute girl in class who let you look at her answers but said no to going to the prom. the mother of the kid your kid was best friends with. the crossing guard. the members of your hockey team.

these people were really important to you but if you’re anything like me, some of the people you deal with today were with you ten years ago but some of them. . . you can’t even remember their name and wouldn’t have a clue how to locate them. except for facebook, with a little detective work.

friends and acquaintances from ten years ago?
remembered every one and can tell you their birthdays too!
most of them, well, okay a pretty fair percentage of them
i can’t remember where i was ten years ago much less who was with me

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Market Researchten years ago, my beloved f2fb #1 younger son eastman was in a movie directed by f2fb jason glaser. linda glaser (f2fb #65) welcomed over thirty film students into her home for three weeks of filming. oh, and she paid for the movie. i was eastman’s personal assistant, er, mom slash chaperone. there to make sure that nobody would share their drugs with him. i was very tight with the group. i knew everybody’s name, from the key grip to the director’s girlfriend. or at least i did at the time.

i still know the star (balbinka, a facebook friend), jason (another facebook friend), steve ware (ditto), and grzegorz who would never open a facebook account even if you promised he would win mafia wars.

i hadn’t seen linda glaser in years even though we had shared a very intense experience in the making of her son’s film. but i drove into ada, michigan which is suburb of cascade, michigan which is, in turn, a suburb of grand rapids, michigan and returned to the place where eastman and jason filmed “grandpa’s gotta go”. a heart warming movie about grandparents and their grandchildren, who ask veternarians to put them to sleep.

in any event, it was as if i had never left. we talked way into the night, two new friends arrived and suddenly it was a party. the glaser family is like that, always inviting people into their lives.

the next morning, linda made french toast.

and the syrup was smoky and warm and i said, “hey, is this aunt jemima syrup?” and she said no, it’s the last of the syrup we made last spring. that’s when i figured out that the glasers could, if necessary, survive in the event of a nuclear holocaust. after all, they have a stocked wine cellar, a lot of cocktail napkins, and a bit of the farmer’s instinct in them.

maple syrup

maple syrup

JavaScript required to play maple syrup.

now, the hundred dollars. one copy of the movie “grandpa’s gotta go”. no questions asked. we both looked for it last night. linda doesn’t have a copy. i don’t have a copy. somebody’s gotta have a copy.

later today, i get my portrait made in zanzibar!

This entry was posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

thank you mr. clark (or maybe mr. jones)

as many of you know, i am betrothed to mr. william clark, originally born in caroline county, virginia. but some of you might not know that my fiance has been dead since 1838. he’s buried in st. louis. please don’t tell him. it would break his heart.

he was a farmer, a soldier, a part-time botanist, zoologist, astronomer and cartographer. he was appointed governor of the missouri territory and he most famous for traveling with merriweather lewis across the vast united states after president thomas jefferson purchased the land from the french. you can read about his adventures in my facebook friend lanny jones’ book “william clark and the shaping of the west”.

i met william (i can call my fiance by his first name although most people refer to him as mr. clark) in person when i was in new york. new york was a scary trip for me. i was getting phone calls from my father every few hours–he is convinced his wife barbara is trying to commit him and indeed he was institutionalized very briefly after my visit to tallahassee. i was swindled out of some money on thursday evening of the trip by a member of the harvard club (an ex-member, but still, you’d think harvard people would be better than that) and i had an anxiety attack nearly every minute of every day. but i loved seeing the museum of sex, touring the city with john r. douglas, meeting vince p. and nearly meeting a passel of celebrities.

when i travel, i bring talismans. lucky charms and not in the form of cereal. i have a lucky flight plan of a long ago trip that keeps planes aloft so long as i am on them. i have several rosaries, gifts from my sons. and i now have a diminutive replica of my fiance when he was just an explorer. thank you, mr. clark, i shall travel with him always in my little medicine bag.

btw, william clark actually has his own facebook page. that’s how we met!

my next major trip, well, the one after the western illinois, is to mexico city. i understand i will need my inhaler and a desire for adventure. it will be the first time i’ve been in a country where the primary language is not english. ciudad de mexico, un que lugar hermosa!!!

thank you mr. clark, i will travel always with this reminder that i am officially a member of the club of adventurers! unless your biographer mr. jones sent it, in which case i will still take it with me!

This entry was posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 8:08 pm

the origin of the world and other paintings. . ..

i think this project would make a beautiful movable museum exhibit, with each facebook friend celebrated and presented in their incredible unique way. fadel haowat-halliwell, f2fb #66 already has his materials ready. from the outside, he looks like the perfectly average chicago twentysomething: he works at a lincoln park coffee shop, he just switched his major from chemistry to math, he lives with his parents and sister and pet parrot, and he carries his life in his backpack.

but fadel is also a seeker. of faith. of love. of love and sexual fulfillment together in one special person. he is an artist and a feminist in a way that i have never experienced a man to be.

yesterday he showed me a series of pictures that i think must be seen by the world. i must find a curator for him.

at first i thought the picture above was a watermelon, but it is not. it is a picture of the source of life. it reminds me of “the origin of the world” by gustave courbet. fadel calls the picture “fertility”.

the second picture he showed me is called “the economy” and you have to look closely to realize it’s really about how the world makes money off of women and enslaves women. the skycrapers are decidedly male, with penises at their core. the only escape, within his vision, is a pirate ship.

the last in his series on women is religion. fadel was raised greek orthodox and briefly committed himself to being a muslim. but he has yet to find the true peace of faith fulfilled. in this picture, he emphasizes how religion has trod on women but he makes a larger point about the dynamics of different religions. you can’t see it but this is an artist who does not complete his work at the end of the canvas–instead the painting continues around the canvas. it’s really remarkable and a picture does it scarce justice.

i was startled that he had prepared for me a portrait. this is me having coffee with a vagina at the artopolis coffee shop. it is now on my living room mantle directly under a portrait of queen victoria.

fadel is a seeker and so am i. we’ve made plans to visit a few services together and to continue the discussion of faith and what’s important. i also hope one day to see his paintings in a museum. perhaps the museum of sex in new york.

next up: i meet a real hero, facebook friend jeffrey weber

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

slap some old spice on this man and tell isiah mustafa he’s out of a job!

this new years eve i made a resolution to meet all of my facebook friends by the end of the year. it means i’m meeting friends i haven’t seen in forever. meeting friends i see every day but never really am mindful of in a way a friend should be. and it means i’m always being surprised. f2fb #67 jeffrey weber is a surprise. i mean, he’s forty three. forty three with a body of a twentysomething. a twentysomething in spectacular shape. which, given jeffrey’s smarts, is the exact combination you want in a firefighter for the chicago fire department. somebody gonna come save me from a burning building or use those jaws of life to drag my sorry ass out of a crunched up car, i want it to be jeff.

jeff works a twenty four hour on, two days off schedule at the firehouse downtown. he is part of a company that works two trucks that are prepared for advanced rescue. someone drowning in lake michigan or the chicago river. a window washer on the skyscraper who’s suddenly a whimpering, tangled mess. the car that’s been smashed to bits but there’s someone stuck inside. he’s seen everything. absolutely nothing phases him. it might be because he’s an ex-marine. also, he teaches both martial arts AND motorcycle riding. imet him five years ago when my younger son eastman was rehearsing for a play down the street from where jeff works at a fitness center. i would work out every time eastman rehearsed. which was every day for six weeks. i haven’t seen much of jeff since, but man, slap some old spice on this man and poor isiah mustafa won’t be in those commercials anymore! and if i wasn’t engaged to the very dead but still charming mr. clark. . . ..

surprisingly, jeff taught me a lesson about the need for organization. the two trucks used for his job are “a place for everything and everything in their place” trucks.

jeff1

jeff1

JavaScript required to play jeff1.

the chicago fire department’s motto is “we’re here when you need us” and i’m so glad they’re here. there. everywhere.

and firefighters are always heroes. just think of those famous vivian leiber books “safety of his arms” and “the 6’2″ 200 lb. challenge”!!!

jeff2

jeff2

JavaScript required to play jeff2.

of course, there was something that puzzled me. why would firemen who are so compulsive about keeping everything ready for emergencies be so lacksadaisical as to throw their pants and boots on the ground and their jacket up over an open car door.

jeff explained that the boots are carefully inserted into the pant legs and the coat is ready so that all he has to do is put both feet into the boots, pull up his jumpsuit., thrown on the coat and head for trouble!


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

find your place in the f2fb new years resolution

my f2fb friend #12 andrew pearce put together a map of all the places i will travel in the coming year. at least to see the 335 friends i had as of december 31 when i started this project. it’s a lot less imposing when he puts it together. thank you andrew!

http://batchgeo.com/map/a612d279c6017e2271ccbf2a6847da2b

however, there are some “lost” friends where we don’t know their location. so andrew put them in the lost lake in tallahassee.

speaking of tallahassee, i have been dragged back into the drama of f2fb #30 my personal father justin leiber. when i went down there he became paranoid that i had disabled his car. he accused me of being a “super conman”. he was rambling and a bit incoherent. a few hours after i left he was involuntarily committed for four days. he is afraid that he will be committed again, against his will. he has asked for my help. i am unsure what i can do.

over the weekend, i hope to see robin and alyce, as well as bonnie bradlee whom i haven’t seen in over thirty years. i will dine chez finnegan and remeet college buddies tim crawford and john finnegan. and i hope to visit the graves of my two best friends. a busy set of travels but i am glad that andrew pearce can keep track of it all. shhh! don’t tell him that i don’t really have to go to burkani faso!

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

my facebook friends are sometimes united by a desire to do good things

so for my japanese facebook friends and then a one hundred dollar challenge:

すべての私の日本のfacebookの友人に、私は安全、健康であることを望む! 私の祈りはあなたの安全のためである! 多くの愛、arlynn

p.s. 私はあなた方皆に会い、健康の見つけることを年末に望む!

i joined rotary because of colvin henderson, father to f2fb friend #25 max henderson. colvin was dying of mesothelioma and he wanted me to join the winnetka northfield rotary club to sort of “take his place”. i’ve taken the responsibility seriously and will be a rotarian for life. at one time, i even served as president of the club.

rotarians take seriously the idea of doing good for others. i’m not a particularly good person on my own but with a club of rotarians i inadvertently do good things. my friend gina di sando (f2fb #69) is part of a committee of rotarians who are hosting an event on april 16 to pack meals to be sent to the citizens of “the dump” in manaus, nicaragua.

in addition to needing volunteers on that day, gina needs to raise money to help pay for the food that will be packed. she’s selling one hundred dollar raffle tickets, with the prize being five thousand dollars. i bought one ticket. if you buy a ticket, i promise to buy a SECOND ticket and you and i will share the proceeds raised. just go to wnrotary.org and look for the kids against hunger program. or contact me either here or on facebook!

sometimes people become better people because of the clubs they join:

gina

gina

JavaScript required to play gina.

our club has been hosting a japanese student named hideki who is from a suburb of tokyo. we have been able to establish that his family is all right. i know our club will do something for the victims of the earthquake. そして当然私達は日本のために祈る

This entry was posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

f2fb strength and purpose

i am amazed at the stories i hear of incredible courage, endurance, determination–and it’s always from people who look from the outside like they just coast through life. robin ladybird strong-robinson (f2fb #68) and alyce kingsley (f2fb #70) work at the zengeler dry cleaners in winnetka. phyllis vega used to work at zengeler but, in order to get out of a bad relationship, she moved to mendota recently (excuse me, facebook friends, no moving without my written permission! warner sills, i mean, taiwan?????)

we had lunch today, including hector who doesn’t have a facebook account and after we exchanged stories about facebook, i think he considers himself lucky. robin told me an inspiring story. she is sober since 2000, having overcome everything with the help of God as she knows him and the twelve step program. robin even had trouble describing the transition, more than ten years ago, from a woman addicted to alcohol and drugs and certain she was headed for Hell to that of a woman who is sure of the love of her God. i was awed. not just by her story but by the way her face, her smile, her eyes brighten with the story. she is a brave woman.

it is a story her coworkers are well aware of. while robin has worked at zengeler’s for eleven years, alyce has worked there for thirty two years. it is a good place to work because people stay. alyce, by the way, is the “oldest” child and she is the “cool” aunt in her family, as she is to the zengeler family. she is very generous with the gum and candy that she lets me have whenever i stop in. and she watches out for her coworkers, as she does here when robin starts talking hair which is what all women do eventually when they get together. notice how hector reacts. . .

alyce, robin and hector

alyce, robin and hector

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f2fb friend #12 andrew has put together a grid that makes it possible to visit all my facebook friends outside of the united states in one blow out 21 day trip. i find his proposal intimidating. and intriguing. exciting and scary. i think maybe i should break up the trips a little bit. but under his plan i would actually travel around the world. . . with time to stop in japan. and time to swing into brazil late in the year. on the other hand, the risks are enormous. don’t you think people in india will be completely freaked out by my panic attacks???

around the world in one blowout trip?
do it. just go!
are you kidding? you’re going to cry the whole time!
can i come with?

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This entry was posted on Saturday, March 12th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

thirty one years ago i did something awful, but now i’m forgiven by my facebook friend #71

meeting every facebook friend means i get surprised sometimes, by an unexpected hobby or talent, by a challenge someone faces with courage and grace, by a secret heretofore unknown. yesterday, i was surprised by something awful i did thirty one years ago. something i have only recently been forgiven for.

i went to naperville north high school and was friends with bonnie bradlee. bonnie was funny, bright, and we “got” each other. she also didn’t seem to mind the strictures mrs. patrick put on my life–i couldn’t see friends outside of school. bonnie and i shared books, ideas, and we both had dreams. bonnie wanted to join the army. i was a princess who had been put up for adoption to shield me from enemies of the throne and one day i wanted to reclaim that country, whatever it was. i sure hoped it was an english speaking country, because i wasn’t doing very well in french class.

at the end of our sophomore year, things came to a boil in the patrick household. i ran away from home. i dropped out of high school. i was briefly in a juvenile detention center and was also briefly in a psyche ward full of other runaways. i ended up dropping out of high school and studied at north central college. that journey is a long one but the story here is about bonnie.

she finished high school. was rejected by the army–from all the branches of the military–because she has poor hearing in one ear. she was crushed. her life was spiraling. she even contemplated suicide. she asked me for help. i was nineteen and unsure of what was the best thing, but i knew dr. schwarz, the psychiatrist from the psyche ward i had spent two months in. i took her to see schwarz. schwarz immediately advised hospitalization, saying he was sure that her depression was a life threatening matter. i helped bonnie get admitted to the hospital. then she gave me her apartment key and told me to clean up her stuff. especially anything drug related, as her father was a police officer.

but my idea of cleaning was to basically to get rid of just about anything. a full apartment became a few garbage bags of stuff.

bonnie got out of the hospital at some point. i don’t really remember anything about our interactions then–in particular she recalls our last meeting as being very tense and i don’t remember it at all. i graduated college and moved to chicago. she worked at a variety of jobs and cared for her parents. five years ago she came to christ. or perhaps christ came to her. she is a happy, beautiful, settled woman who celebrates everyday the gift of salvation. she has also forgiven me. until yesterday when i saw her, i didn’t realize that i needed her forgiveness. i am grateful for that.

bonnie

bonnie

JavaScript required to play bonnie.

although she was upset with me, she was surprised herself by the fact that her hospitalization had a benefit that came to others. a few years ago, she was at a christian retreat. she was taking a few moments to dance in the rain, a celebration of her love for christ. as she finished dancing she noticed that she was being observed by a woman who was in obvious distress. the woman explained she had just gotten out of a hospital where she had been treated for addiction. her life was a mess because her husband was still a user. bonnie was able to use the experience of having been in a psyche hospital to relate to this woman. bonnie got help for her. it was a turn around for the woman, indirectly made possible by bonnie’s life experiences, directly made possible by bonnie’s generous nature.

i know i’m going to be surprised again, sometimes in ways that will make me feel bad about myself. for a few hours after i saw bonnie, i had a case of the guilts. did that hospitalization do more harm than good? was my scorched earth policy on her apartment a bad thing? had i caused bonnie to get off course in her life? this morning i’m trying to forgive myself. that might take a while.

make sure to meet bonnie yourself at menjesus.wordpress.com!!!!

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 13th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

f2fb #72 john finnegan

when i went to the finnegan’s house on sunday morning, i was still feeling pretty low, thinking about how i let down f2fb #71 bonnie bradlee. i wake up every morning thinking this is a ridiculous and unmanageable and ultimately doomed to failure project, but now i was really ready to go straight home, get into bed, pull those covers up over the head.

the finnegans live in a quiet naperville neighborhood with emphasis on the word quiet. when john finnegan and i went to college, naperville had a population of 35,000 and there were corn and soybean fields surrounding the downtown. now there are over 150,000 people and it is as if God told noah to build an ark and put inside it one of every chain–applebee’s, olive garden, walmart, target, baker’s square. . . somehow the finnegans found the one place that isn’t staked out for a corporate parking space.

leigh finnegan welcomed me into the house and introduced me to their three children: grant, anna and stewart. grant is a natural wit, anna has a beautiful smile and stewart is a dead ringer for john when he was younger. john asked me what i wanted with my pancakes: syrup, butter, cheese.

cheese?

john’s favorite dish is not pancakes with cheese but rather, waffles with cheese. toaster waffles to be precise. the finnegan freezer is full of them. and the refrigerator has enough cheese that, well, john says he can eat eight or ten waffle and cheese sandwiches at a time. try it sometime! and then tell me about it.

john and i were friends when we were at north central college back in the late seventies. the very first time we met, i invited him to a movie. he thought it was a date. until he realized i was asking another guy as well. i was a pretty clueless teenager. then i told him about my experience with bonnie and how it was clear i hadn’t been a good friend to her. he begged to differ and then told the story of how the finnegan children exist because of me being clueless. . . .

john finnegan

john finnegan

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as i drove away, i wanted to be adopted, maybe as a cherished aunt. john really is the luckiest of my friends!

next up: tim crawford is retired navy, teaches navy rotc at one of bloom trail high school in chicago heights (one of the toughest urban schools there is), coaches track and field. so what does he want to do on a sunday afternoon?

and . . . . i’ ¡m ya apenas un poco nervioso sobre ir a Ciudad de México! ¡pero será una aventura!

This entry was posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

every sunday is your sunday! advice from f2fb #73 tim crawford

when i meet my facebook friends i want to do what they want to do, what they enjoy, what expresses themselves–so i figured tim crawford would want to tear apart a lion with his bare hands or throw boulders across the dupage river.

tim crawford is a big man. i’d guess him to be six four, maybe six five. he was an athlete at north central college where we met. he joined the navy right after college and has fought and served his country ever since. these days he teaches navy rotc at one of the toughest urban schools in the country and he also coaches track and field. he’s big, he’s tough, he’s strong.

and you know what? he’s reached an age, my age, where he doesn’t give a damn what people think of him. he’s proved himself. which means he can do what he pleases and he had some advice to give me on that score.

from his house, we drove twenty miles out to romeoville to a strip mall nail salon that didn’t look any different from any other nail salon. but the ladies knew him. and we had pedicures together. and not just a “file ‘em down, put some polish on ‘em” pedicures. there was hot bubbling water with bath salts. exfoliating. razoring calluses. massaging the calves. encasing the feet in hot liquid wax. i admit that last part made me cry and tim said pretty much “would you just take it like a man????” tim doesn’t get polish but he picked out a nice neutral silver shade for me.

i felt wonderful as we left the salon. and not just because my feet really felt different. i felt different. i felt pampered and taken care of and really quite free of anxiety and all my little demons. that’s when tim, who’s a pretty quiet guy, spoke up.

“i take care of myself,” he began as i pulled the car out into traffic. “i work six days a week. and hard work. have all my life. so one day a week, i completely devote to myself. manicure. pedicure. massage. getting my eyebrows waxed. haircut. take care of my car. my house. every sunday is tim crawford day. turn here.”

“isn’t your house back that way?”

“we’re getting chocolate.”

so we went into downtown naperville to a chocolate emporium. i did what every woman does. considered the smallest possible piece of something. because otherwise, i would end up regretting it when i got on the scale, right? but there was this cheesecake, with chocolate and caramel. i shook my head. tim gave me a look. again, he’s a big “don’t mess with me” guy. so i ended up sitting in front of the biggest plate of cheesecake. do i regret it? no.

some might initially think it’s a little sacrilegious to call sunday tim crawford day. or to call sunday their own day. but remember that first corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that our bodies are God’s temple. st. paul admonishes (he’s always admonishing–he really should have lightened up a little) that we should honor God with our bodies. that’s exactly what tim’s doing. and maybe that would be a good thing for me–if i honored my body the way tim honors his, perhaps i wouldn’t do the self-destructive fix-ups like anxiety attacks, withdrawing from the world, eating and drinking too much. if i knew that one day a week was my day, maybe i could do what needs to be done with the remaining six.

and so i ended up late. i missed the third naperville friend. and didn’t get to mendota. i fell behind the schedule because i took time to enjoy tim crawford day. that means i have to come back to naperville and from there, drive to mendota. tim says he gets a pedicure about once every three or four weeks. see you then, tim!

tim’s final comment:

tim crawford says have a great trip!

tim crawford says have a great trip!

JavaScript required to play tim crawford says have a great trip!.

a coda: my very best friends in the world, dick and vivian eastman, needed their friends, especially as they reached their nineties. i would come out some weekends just to say hi. one time, i asked tim crawford to stop by the house just to tell dick eastman what a great professor he had been when he was at north central college. tim is a wonderful friend!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 at 5:18 am

face to facebook friend gilbert gottfried

my new years resolution as of december 31 was to meet every facebook friend i had and that’s a considerable new years resolution. obviously not as difficult as losing five pounds (my usual resolution). but still. it’s day 74 of the year and last night i posted about tim crawford (73).

i’ve learned a lot about friendship and loyalty. i have on speed dial exactly who i’d call at two o’clock in the morning from the winnetka police department. i know who i’d party with if i won the lottery and who would be willing to party with me if i didn’t. but i don’t think i have a friend quite like gilbert gottfried.

gilbert is a comedian. never known for any sensitivity. known mostly for his braying voice, whether as the parrot named iago in disney’s aladdin or the duck in aflac supplemental insurance commercials. when he first opened a facebook account, he sent out friendship requests. i’m not sure why i got one, but i did and i happily accepted. but when i went to new york, i had nearly a dozen friends to meet. everyone was so helpful, from richard “mop” furniss (friend #53) who took me on a tour of the museum of sex to william clark (#60) who proposed. #58 john r. douglas took me to the morgan museum where i saw an actual shakespeare first folio. vince p. (#57) invited me to a party with real celebrities.

but gilbert never responded to my messages, emails, nothing. and then there’s this:

he tweeted some jokes like “the japanese are so advanced. they don’t go down to the beach. the beach comes to them” and “i just split up with my girlfriend. but like the japanese say, there’ll be another one floating by any minute” he has since been fired by aflac which gets a considerable share of its revenue from the japanese market and he’s dutifully issued the “i’m sorry if anybody was offended by what i said” apology which places the responsibility to say “oh, no, it’s okay, i’m just too sensitive” on everyone else. he’ll recover. he’ll have his defenders. he’ll do some charitable venture that will make up for it all. he will be, as charlie sheen says, winning.

i don’t take defriending lightly. it might be just facebook. but the real question for me isn’t whether he can make a bad joke or not. it’s whether he’s a friend. and he’s not. there is no part of him that is friend to me. there is no part of him i want to be friends with. so with deep regret, i must defriend him.

therefore, goodbye f2fb friend number zero mr. gottfried. i wish you all the commercial, professional and personal success in the world. just not on my facebook page.

in other news, i have new friends from israel–my story was featured on an israeli magazine site. also, tomorrow i am being interviewed for america in the morning by tom delach! but the most wonderful news is that i will spend some time with the artist loraine yolles (f2fb #74)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 at 9:56 pm

stu fast, steve quick, kate moulton. . . why YOU could end up with an alias

steve quick was one of my first friends ever in winnetka. he worked at the front desk of the winnetka community house, signing up kids for karate, ballet, summer camp. we hung out while my kids took classes. we worked at the haunted house together–both of us, given the proper costume, can reduce a stone cold nine year old suburban child to tears with just a glance. steve and i even worked on the antiques and modernism shows that provided funds for the community house–both of us, given the proper costume, can reduce a stone cold dealer in french chinoiserie prints to tears with just a lift of an eyebrow.

steve is a survivor. of a tough childhood. wrenching marriage. and a bout with cancer.

steve quick — 1
cancer — 0

but a survivor of these circumstances sometimes needs to adventure and needs a soul mate. kate moulton is just such a gal. she is a survivor of three bypass surgeries in her young years. she occasionally is troubled by artial fibulation. which is to say that she has battled a rough spot.

the two of them struck out west to colorado a few years ago. for steve, it was a big change because he had worked behind the desk at the community house for eighteen years. for kate, who had been in wilmette illinois all her life, it was a leap of faith. the two of them have done well for themselves. times are tough–steve sometimes picks up day laboring jobs. kate works as a bartender. but they have found their eden, in fort collins, colorado. i am so so so happy for them. . . .

BUT

there’s stu fast. well, what happened is this: steve quit his job at the community house and wanted to access his facebook account. but the account was from an email address tied to the community house. therefore, facebook wouldn’t recognize him so he has had to change his identity to stu fast.

when he would sign for fedex and ups packages at the community house he would sometimes use the alias stu fast, as a take on steve quick. now that nickname comes in handy. but let him explain. . .

kate, stu and steve

kate, stu and steve

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

thank you to facebook friend azusa watanabe

日本のfacebookの友人たちへ
早い復興を祈っています
ずっと祈っています
たくさんの愛を私から

but a message also that expresses that many of us outside of japan are concerned and are thinking and worrying about the nation:

私だけでなく、アメリカ国民全てが、息をのんで被災地を見守り、私たちに何が出来るか考えています
全ての場所で全ての人々が、日本のために自分に何が出来るかを考えています
日本の助けになりたいのです
私たちに何が出来ますか?

if you feel the same it’s okay to post a comment in any language. i believe we all want and hope for the same things. . .

thank you azusa for correcting and helping my grammar!!!

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at 1:27 am

f2fb friend #77 might have to kill me!

ton kambich is a tough guy, served in world war 2 and jumped out of planes into dangerous places. later, he let his softy side flourish. he and his wife carolyn opened a montessori school in northfield just outside of winnetka (not to say winnetka is a dangerous place). the couple was instrumental in the opening of the victoria montessori school in entebbe, uganda.

so i had to ask him about my trip to mexico city. about which i have been stressing. and about skydiving which is what captain reggie wants to do later in the month.

tony kambich

tony kambich

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i don’t know. i’d love to have a rumor that i’m part of the c.i.a.

arlynn is part of the c.i.a.?
yes, and quite glamorous
yes, and this whole f2fb blog is an elaborate shield
nah, she’s too dorky

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online surveysi pack and leave tomorrow. viva ciudad de mexico!!!! and from there, to facebook friends in houston. then memphis. then home. . . for a day and a half and then cleveland, ohio. i’m getting some wear on these treads.

tony says it’s fine about if the two releases don’t work. the third thing you do is clutch yourself in a particular manner and kiss your ass goodbye. please don’t tell me this is how the adventure will end!

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

packing for the fraidy cat traveler–hello mexico city and yoshi maeshiro!!!!!!

i’m going to mexico city to see facebook friends yoshi maeshiro and enrique celis. i am scared out of my wits because it’s the first time i have been in a country where the dominant language is not english and also because the state department says ixnay to spring break in mexico and what else is this but a fifty year old woman’s spring break? also, if i get offered the job of police chief of mexico city, i will have to decline.

a person who doesn’t like to leave the house isn’t generally a good packer. but i am. when stephen and i separated, we agreed that we didn’t want our sons joseph and eastman to be put through the “go to mom’s house, go to dad’s house” custody schedule. so stephen took an apartment and he stayed there some of the time and some of the time, he came back to the house and i would switch over to the apartment. instead of my kids packing their stuff i was doing the packing. and i learned a lot of tricks.

1. zip lock bags for everything
2. wear your clothes in the shower and wash them every night you’re away
3. baby wipes for everything–make up removal, shining your shoes, that spot where your fork slipped stuff onto the front of your dress. . . .
4. black clothes match everything

my facebook friend loraine yolles is an artist. she took some time to come over to help me pack. but also to tell me this trip is going to be okay. . . .

i’m scared of flying, socializing, snakes, thunderstorms, crowds, heights, rejection, darkness, spiders, big box stores, dentists. . . . should i go on? but i have my lucky talismans, including william clark, my fiance, as well as rosaries and a lucky flight plan from a successful airplane trip.

i have to get on the plane. ¡parada siguiente, Ciudad de México!

packing

packing

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This entry was posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011 at 12:34 am

Viva Ciudad de Mexico!!!

mexico city is quite dangerous, what with kidnapping and murders by drug entrepreneurs and the police. reggie was told ixnay, that u.s. army personnel were most definitely not to go to mexico city and especially not to escort fifty year old matrons to international travel. I am glad he didn’t tell me that until the last night. how he changed the mind of his commanding officer is his own business but I believe that my breathtaking stupidity and the possibility of my causing grave embarrassment to the government was a factor.

reggie sent me a text the morning of the flight to houston, where we were scheduled to meet. No jewelry, no nice clothes, no heels, and could I visit a tanning salon? i was cool with everything but the last one. I get claustrophobic in those booths. we made the trip from houston to ciudad de mexico with no trouble at all. well, except for figuring out how to get out of the airport.

1st in mexico

1st in mexico

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mexico city is built on the inside of a crater, surrounded by mountains. It holds within the bowl all the smog and pollution imaginable, as well as the hopes and aspirations of twenty million mexicans. I saw the first of three types of mexicans when we arrived at the hotel melieta. women were dressed in evening gowns and wrapped themselves in furs though it couldn’t have been more than sixty degrees. men wore tuxedos or dark black suits. i thought “mexico is a pretty wealthy country” and felt pretty silly in my black running suit from target. then reggie told me we were at the wrong hotel. a short taxi cab ride and we were at our hotel. reggie fell asleep immediately. i stared at the moon and could just make out the mountains in the distance.
i woke up and i thought it was ten o’clock. after all, that’s what the clock on the building across the street said. so i forced reggie to get up. he told me the first rule: that since my passport stuck out of my fanny pack just a little, i was to let him carry my passport.
we went to a second mexico city. In this mexico city, blue tarp tents lined the streets. families cooked tortillas, sausages, waffles, chickens. mothers with toddlers on their laps sold candy and cigarettes. old men sold sunglasses, cellphone covers, bootleg cd’s (I nearly bought the entire last season of Glee) . I saw an old man laying out a blanket and offering for sale a pair of red shoes with the heels ground down and a selection of car parts. boys in nascar-like jumpsuits sold newspapers to the cars stopped at the intersections—pink for excelsior paper, green for the guardian. women washed windows of stopped cars. the police were everywhere. the smell of urine, feces, overcooked meet and sweat–sometimes the smell of food was good and sometimes i thought i would throw up. reggie told me the second rule: i was not allowed to point at something, i was not allowed to look at something or someone for more than three seconds unless I was wearing my sunglasses. there were not many people who would outright say “can you spare some change?” but everybody had a business.
we stopped to have breakfast at macdonald’s. because reggie said I wasn’t going to eat out of a truck until we were ready to leave because he didn’t want to be around when there were consequences. in the ladies’ room, the toilet paper dispenser was held together with scotch tape. I broke it apart without meaning to. i went to wash my hands and i took apart the faucet. i decided the safest thing to do was sit down to ask reggie about his strategies. . .

reggie guidance system

reggie guidance system

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we found a beautiful church dedicated to the carmelite nuns. i wanted to find a rosary to wear on my neck, it was the one thing I hoped to find in mexico city but i spent so much time marveling at people, at buildings, at strange things that i didn’t have time to shop. but i did have time to ask the blessing of st. teresita of the nina jesus.

st. theresita de nina jesus

st. theresita de nina jesus

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and then it was time to meet yoshi maeshiro and enrique celis, the whole point of this operation . . . .

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2011 at 9:01 pm

if you want to invade mexico city. ..

mexico city is a low lying valley, a crater really, surrounded by mountains. it holds smog and pollution and i felt the heaviness in my chest from the moment i left the airport. i sucked on my inhaler like dennis hopper in blue velvet and considered that if aliens from mars wanted to take over, the city was pretty much indefensible. and if the dudes from mars prefer carbon emissions to oxygen, it’s a natural. . . .

at the hotel, after a morning walk of well over three hours, reggie and i had a drink while we waited for yoshi. we had both heard that in mexico, everyone’s a little relaxed about time. while we waited, reggie explained that the whole time we had been walking around, he had been very aware of who was looking at us, who was a potential problem. he said i should be doing the same thing. and never look at something for more than three seconds. count to three. look at something else. count to three.

then yoshi arrived. it was awkward and funny and reggie got the whole thing:

first meet with yoshi

first meet with yoshi

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yoshi is an actor who has worked primarily in performing plays for schools. he is working as a director of “life is a dream” (la vida es suena) first published by pedro caldron de la barca in the early seventeenth century. yoshi hopes to have the play touring by april. he is a fan of science fiction and most particularly of my grandfather fritz leiber. he found me on facebook because of being fritz’s fan. it was our first time meeting in person although we have corresponded for several years. yoshi had worked in the area of town where we were and he wanted to take us in the opposite direction from where we had been in the morning. we passed a protest march but yoshi’s explanation of what their beef was confused me. So we just figured it was a shout out to the madison, wisconsin protesters who, by the way, i hope to see next monday thanks to my facebook friend cory!

solidarity with madison wisconsin

solidarity with madison wisconsin

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we also had a meal at a very famous café:

yoshi at cafe

yoshi at cafe

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so us revolutionaries had a meal together. reggie ordered a margarita and it was hideous, which was a decisive factor in what happened later. . . .

after lunch we wandered around the park across from the palace of the arts. there were hundreds of booths and vendors. homemade ice cream in flavors like rose, burnt milk, cactus. handmade jewelry (alas, no rosaries). embroidered smocks. we saw a lesbian rights parade. we saw kids crunking in a gazebo. a police officer came into the gazebo and i wondered if i was going to end up in a mexican jail with these kids–but he had brought bottles of water for the kids.

reggie bought roasted corn mixed with chilis, chopped onions, mayonaise–all in a styrofoam cup.

i said in the previous post that i thought there were three mexicos. the night before, i had glimpsed the very wealthy mexico–blessed with jewels and fine clothing. in the morning, i was lucky enough to have reggie with me to watch over me–so i could see the mexico that was the most poor, the mexico that rises early to scrape out a living. but this mexico in the park was the families out walking and enjoying themselves–the vibe was one of celebration and the people were more comfortable with themselves. they had nice clothes and i suspect some money in their pockets. but my feet hurt and my inhaler had been getting a workout. as the sun started to dip behind the mountains, it was time to let this cinderella and her blister inducing slippers go home. i asked this dude for a ride to the hotel. he said no.

but it was a fun day with yoshi maeshiro, facebook friend number #79! but, alas, we discovered that we both had tried to track down enrique celis, my other facebook friend in mexico city. he was yoshi’s acting teacher and had once facebook friended me in order to invite me to a play he was directing. enrique is now officially invited to chicago for the f2fb new years resolution, but yoshi has an invitation whenever he wants!

This entry was posted on Monday, March 21st, 2011 at 3:19 pm

once in mexico city, it proves impossible to leave. . . . and not for lack of trying!

i felt kind of bad for reggie. most of the trip he was worried i’d get kidnapped or murdered or robbed.

and remember that horrible margarita?? his horrible encounter with a margarita weighed upon me.

i figured a guy who’s flown out from savannah georgia should at least get a good margarita and dance with a pretty girl. but reggie being the captain of the operation said that seven a.m. we were clearing out.

at four o’clock in the morning, he woke me up to tell me that he couldn’t sleep and was going out for a bit. i remember telling him the business center was on the second floor in case he wanted to catch up with his facebook buddies and play farmville.

i woke up in a panic at seven twenty. his backpack was on the floor. his flip flops. his watch was on the nightstand. but there was no reggie. i called him and said “exactly where are you?”

“i’m at a salsa club,” he shouted.

okay, he got his margarita. and he broke some hearts in mexico city–we heard the cries as we cabbed it to the airport: “reggie, reggie, you’ ¡re tan hermoso, te quiero, quiero a sus niños!” i figured okay, i have to enjoy the flexibility of travel. that was quite an adventure. but there was much more to come. the cab driver dropped us at the wrong terminal and we had to double back in a train. at the boarding gate, i was told i didn’t have a necessary customs form. as the plane was boarding, i was sprinting across the terminal to the mexican immigration department so i could get the form. i ran back to the gate. suddenly, the boarding gate official was disdainful: the form was of no interest to him. i downed three ativans to quel an anxiety attack.

touching down in houston, i was picked up at the airport by f2fb friend #80 george yates who drove me into pearland where he and his wife (f2fb #81) derrellyn live with her mother, their son, their son’s best friend, their son’s best friend’s brother, and a few four legged species members. the yates family has been through some difficult times. but they have a strong faith system. i put the one souvenir from mexico city next to some of their icons. i figure the play-doh virgin mary in a bottle had found its home.

derrellyn and george really didn’t want their pictures taken but when we went out to dinner with andy (their son will’s friend who lives with them) and nikka (andy’s girlfriend) i got an age old question answered

andy

andy

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nikka

nikka

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i wanted to get will on camera. he wasn’t able to come to dinner with us because he was at work. unfortunately, the flip camera was giving me trouble. the yates have weathered some tough times and it’s not completely clear sailing for them, but they surround themselves with a lot of positive energy and they open their home and give that positive energy back to the world.

i flew home through memphis airport. i was and am exhausted. today is definitely a stay under the covers day. but my son eastman says i’m a warrior. i think that’s a compliment.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 at 1:25 pm

some stats and facts about my f2fb friends and me

in january 2010, i made a new years’ resolution to lose five pounds. this year, 2011, i made a resolution to visit the 335 facebook friends i had when i toddled off to a new year’s eve party. how’s it going so far? and am i any better at losing weight?

weight on january 1, 2010: 138
friends on facebook january 2011: 335

day of the year as of march 23: 82
facebook friends i have visited with so far: 81
catfish moment*: discovering that f2fb #54 inda loop was not a young black female rapper living in new york city but was in fact f2fb #53 richard “mop” furniss

thing one i have learned: people try really hard to do the right thing and they hide a lot of pain and stress and worry. our facebook personas are more upbeat than our real selves.

number of flights i have taken this year: 11
number of flights i took in the previous decade: 8
scariest moment on plane: pilot on flight from memphis to chicago announces that the cabin doors have been locked, we’re cleared for take off and will be arriving in atlanta in less than an hour and a half
scariest moment just before getting on a plane: mexico city when officials wouldn’t let me board a plane to return to the states because i was missing a form from the mexican immigration service
number of ativan i took before boarding the plane from mexico: 3

thing two i have learned: never wear an underwire bra if you’re going through security at an airport

number of new facebook friends i want to visit: 1351
countries for which i have developed a special fondness: brazil and japan, and somehow i will visit those countries too!

this is a picture of me and my first friend in the world sandra patrick. she was my sister, eight years older than me, and the most glamorous woman i knew at the time. even if she was just fourteen.

thing three i have learned: i have spent a lot of my life scared of the world. admittedly, it’s a pretty damn scary place. but if i don’t engage in the world now, i never will.

number of friends who have told me that they or their spouse has gone through the twelve step program for drugs and/or alcohol: 17
number of friends who have asked me to not identify them as such: 6
number of friends who have told me that they have an expired vehicle license sticker: 1
number of friends who have asked me to not identify them as such: 1

number of friends who have deactivated their accounts since january 1, 2011: 4
number of friends who have reactivated their accounts: 3
number of friends who have defriended me: 1
number of friends i have defriended: 1 gilbert gottfried, i’m sorry, but friendship is a two way street

weight as of january 1, 2011: 138

thing four i have learned: sometimes i have thought of myself as being more social than i am because i have facebook friends. facebook is good at connecting but i have to make sure that i engage in the world as it is. using facebook as a tool not as a substitute for maintaining friendships.

mornings i have woke up and thought this was the stupidest new years’ resolution and i will fail: 82
people who have told me this is the stupidest new years’ resolution and i will fail: 3
people who have said “go for it!”: countless and i’m grateful!

country i have most trepidation about visiting but will anyway: burkina faso
city in the united states i have most trepidation about visiting but will anyway: homer, alaska (there’s gotta be polar bears and woolly mammoths)

adventures that are soon to happen: tomorrow a road trip to cleveland, sunday a visit to unity church, monday a visit to the protesters in madison, tuesday a culver burger in beaver dam, a boxing match (yes, i will don gloves), skydiving, roller derby, and chapel hill. that’s just this month.

mornings i wake up and think this is the funnest new year’s resolution and i will succeed: 82
weight as of march 23, 2011: 138

*catfish is a movie about a woman who created a web of facebook personas in order to engage in an online virtual romance with a young filmmaker.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 5:24 pm

two things a man should never do with his penis

sometimes it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you sat down with a friend because you’re so simpatico that it’s as if you were talking yesterday. and that’s how it was with f2fb #82 janet mccauley. we’ve known each other for fifteen years. she grew up in winnetka and northfield and raised her children here, including her daughter who is just a year younger than my older son joseph. i hadn’t seen janet around town for most of the fall but had heard she had moved in with a boyfriend in chicago. he was the jealous type.

hacked

hacked

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talk about password protection! in any event, i had wondered why janet was messaging some strange stuff. now i knew:

me and janet?

me and janet?

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who i would do if i switched teams? well, that’s always an interesting “what if?” game. robbie thapa, f2fb #33, has always said i’d be tops on his list.

ever thought about who you would do if you switched?
hell no, because it just ain’t gonna happen
yeah, and i have their phone numbers on speed dial just in case i get in the mood
i’ve already tried. and switched. and switched again.
it’s a nice heuristic device nothing more

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Market Researchlater, janet told me the most egregious things this boyfriend did. but a funny thing was this, which i’ve decided is one of two things a man should never do with his penis . . . . and a camera.

waffles for breakfastwaffles for breakfastThis movie requires Adobe Flash for playback.

janet has known great love. and it was with a man we both know. he lives in new orleans now and i wonder if he has been one of the great loves of her life and if there’s hope for them to get back together. on the other hand, he too has done something a man should never ever do with his penis.

the ivy league man

the ivy league man

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ouch!

catching up with janet was funny, tearful, poignant, awe-inspiring, gossipy, and we’re repeating the process again when i get back from my trip to ohio (which starts in six hours), my trip to madison wisconsin where facebook friend cory russ rickerson has snagged us an invite to a meeting with the peripatetic jesse jackson and then to beaver dam to have a culver burger with taylor jordan. janet, you’ve gone through a lot in the last several months, but you’re back! welcome home!

This entry was posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011 at 9:11 am

eighty miles per hour on the turnpike–

yesterday somebody told me that for an agoraphobic* i get around. and this year, i have. yesterday i drove 337 miles to oberlin ohio to retrieve f2fb friend #1 eastman and i made it back home in less than twelve hours. talk about a kinetic military operation! unfortunately, i failed in my mission to see facebook friend bob garrity. . . .

this project is getting me out of the house, but i have anxiety attacks every time i step foot outside my comfort zone. an anxiety attack makes my heart squeeze tight, my skin break out in hives, and my brain go into hyperdrive–is it a heart attack? am i having anaphylactic shock? is it the moment when my body will spontaneously combust and i’ll be hurtled into the depths of hell?

quite possibly yes to all three. but why am i like this? why do i get so afraid of things that the average person finds perfectly harmless? i started off life pretty normal. my parents justin (f2fb #30) and aleta leiber were a young married couple studying at the university of chicago. i’ve since been told by justin that i was a colicky, difficult baby. sometime after i turned two, they decided to put me up for adoption. i don’t remember them or my life with them, but i remember the process of meeting the patrick family. here is me sitting between mrs. patrick and my new sister sandra (who had been adopted by the patricks as an infant).

mr. patrick worked at the united states post office in labor relations. he was away from home a lot. he kept bags of candy in the top right hand drawer of his desk in his study at home. i would steal candy and always got caught. often, my punishment was to be put in the basement to consider my wrongdoing. oddly, i really think this made me think of the basement as both someplace i dreaded and a place of safety. i read books, i made up numbers games, i daydreamed.

i adored sandra. i thought everything she did was perfect. she protected me from mrs. patrick’s anger sometimes. she often ironed in the basement when i was being punished and we would listen to rock and roll music on the radio. rock and roll was considered very dangerous back then. when sandra moved out of the house, mrs. patrick focused more on me. she decided that i was wicked, a partner with satan. she started having some hallucinations–it was hard as a kid to be able to figure out what were the things she saw and what things were really there. i started to worry that she would kill me.

i first ran away from home when i was thirteen. i had two friends in high school who helped me. petrarch was the older brother of my friend jean–his real name is john lafond and he is f2fb #10.

my other friend was zeke, real name john peterson. i don’t know where he is right now.

when the state got involved, i was put into a bunch of different placements. i was in a psychiatric hospital because a psychiatrist declared me to be depressed (i have since come to the conclusion that every teenager is depressed). i stayed for four months in a detention center where i was put in a cell at night and during the day all the residents studied together in a common area and ate meals in a cafeteria. i think these places again were like the basement–someplace i dreaded but which made me feel safe.

i think all anybody needs to succeed is one person who really believes that you are great. usually, it’s your mom or dad. in my case it was a social worker who said “you’re never going to finish high school but i think you could do well in college”. she helped me get into north central college where i met the eastmans. here are the eastmans with petrarch.

so i was in college. i had friends. i had survived. you would think i’d be just great. but i wasn’t. that’s when i started having anxiety attacks. the first occurred in a grocery store. i told a clerk i was having a heart attack. the paramedics were called. i was taken to the emergency room. i was given some antihistamines by a doctor who said he thought i was just having some problems with allergies. i never went near the grocery store again because it made me think i might have another attack. the rest of my life became a mapping of safe and unsafe places–every time i was in a “safe” place and had an attack, it became an “unsafe” place. unsafe places filled up the world like ink spreading across a piece of paper.

i work at home and i wonder if i have fooled myself that i have friends when i have a virtual connection to them. facebook can help me delude myself. but maybe facebook can also help me ask friends to help me reclaim safe places. . . . . like yoshi and reggie making mexico city safe, like john r. douglas and my new york friends showing me that new york is safe, like eastman yesterday showing me that the broad swath of america between my home and ohio is perfectly safe.

well, maybe not the ohio turnpike.

on monday, eastman and i strike north for madison where i’ll see f2fb friend cory russ rickerson and we’re going to a meeting with the rev. jesse jackson with the protesters. then i’ll head for beaver dam to take taylor jordan out for a culver burger. then i return to pick up eastman and possibly meet with liza roche. yep, for an agoraphobic, i sure get around. . . .

*i don’t make light of agoraphobia. it’s a scary problem. and it can disable you and close you off from experiences and people. i’m happy to hear about your experiences if you think you are like me–you can message me at facebook but also you can email me directly at apresser@hotmail.com

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 26th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

f2fb #83 and the gift he received from his first wife’s mother

my regular religious service consists of reading facebook friend mike coglan’s emailed sermons (today’s was about the 1962 world series), barging into catholic churches to light candles for my boys, and begging the Lord’s foriveness for everything when i’m having an anxiety attack or when the plane is taxiing down the runway. i think of myself as a seeker but i haven’t put enough concerted effort into it. f2fb #83 larry barkley has always struck me as having followed a path of his own design.

larry and i were first introduced through his second wife suzanne who was a rotarian. after they broke up and suzanne moved to colorado, i didn’t see as much of larry. but whenever i do, he has a good smile and kind words. he’s either got peace of mind or really great drugs!

he was raised catholic, flirted with baptists, and was introduced to the principles of the unity church by the mother of his first wife. usually, mother in law’s aren’t noted for the joy they bring into a man’s life. but larry was open to the gift. and he is now a member of the unity church. i was supposed to go to a sunday service with him and with f2fb #66 fadel haowat-halliwell who has also been a seeker. we were going to meet at the church at 9:15.

i was getting some caffeine at caribou when i saw f2fb #28 tom evans and i invited him to join us. tom is ordinarily a congregationalist but something today urged him to accept adventure. we drove downtown to the unity church at 1925 west thorne avenue. larry and tom had seen each other in winnetka but had never been introduced:

in a room off the main sanctuary was an exhibit of pictures of hearts created by the artist arianne vota smeets. the exhibit, called aorta transformata, was deeply moving. i saw three pictures that i think were directly about me.

i have had my heart broken but i am no different from anyone else in that respect.
i am often scared but i am no different from anyone else.
my heart is under construction. i think everyone else is like that too.

it has been said that sunday morning is the most segregated time in america–and that’s supposed to be a comment about how congregations are often of the same race, the same orientation. but this church was clearly welcoming to all races, genders, orientations. and the service was one of joy and love.

one time my facebook friend mike coglan asked me to imagine how i would feel, how i would think, how i would be different, if i truly believed that God loved me exactly as i am, even with every fault and weakness considered charming or essential or forgivable. i could only sustain that feeling for a few seconds before crying. and that’s how i felt in this church.

afterwards i found out that the heart pictures are for sale and can be purchased–go to votasmeets.com to see more of them. also, if you want more information on the church, go to their website at UnityChicago.org and they believe they are a church of light, love and laughter.

larry has found a special place to worship. his fiancee ramona is part of the congregation as well and i hope that i will be invited to the friday night services which sound like the services of the nineteenth century shakers.

larry, thank you friend for sharing this part of you with me! and sorry, fadel. i turned my cell phone on after i entered the church and forgot to turn it back on until i got home!

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 27th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

i’m in beaver dam and i can’t stop crying and i don’t know why. . .

this evening, i will take f2fb friend #85 taylor jordan out to dinner. that’s not why i’m crying. then i have to drive back to madison, wisconsin to pick up eastman from his two nights of debauchery with friends. but that’s not why i’m crying.

i cried in the parking lot of beaver dam’s macdonald’s. then i moved operations to the payless where i bought a pair of espadrilles that i thought would make me feel better but that didn’t work. because i started crying in that parking lot. so i checked in early at the super 8 motel and cried in their parking lot for a while. i’m a pretty equal opportunity sobster.

i’m not even sure why i’m so upset.

last night, i was in madison, wisconsin visiting f2fb friend #84 cory russ rickerson. i met cory at her mother’s memorial service. cory’s mother was married to one of my facebook friends, was a stepmother to three of my facebook friends, and was the mother to two other facebook friends.

cory’s mother terri russ had a troubled life and wanted to end it with a bottle of tylenol. she went into liver failure and was rushed to the hospital. her children and mother were with her. terri was conscious and given the option of having a liver transplant and kidney dialysis to continue her life. but she declined.–although there’s some ambiguity about whether she understood the consequences of what she was refusing. she seemed later to change her mind–she wanted to get better. when she was told by her daughters that there was nothing more that could be done–that the window period within which to save her liver and kidney had slammed shut–she closed her eyes for several minutes before accepting her circumstances. and then she went about the business of being good to her children. she hung in–the human spirit is very strong–for several days and then died. i never met terri.

cory’s parents were divorced when cory was just a very little kid and there was a flurry of marriages and remarriages, custody arrangements and rearrangements, stepsiblings and halfsiblings. cory related to me what i can describe most delicately as “inappropriate situations” which arose from when she was ten years old until she was able to strike out on her own. i was horrified. but she has come to forgive. and there have some who have come to her for forgiveness. she is a very strong gal.

she is a teacher in the public school system in madison, wisconsin and i thought we would spend our time together at the capitol building with the protesters. instead, we talked until it was this little traveler’s time to go to bed! what a nice guest room!!!

cory russ rickerson

cory russ rickerson

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this morning, cory went to work before i woke up–i drove to beaver dam and for some reason felt very weepy as i considered cory’s story. i’m not quite sure why it resonates so much with me but i have to get this pulled together before i pick up taylor jordan for dinner. game face, baby! that’s what it’s all about!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

f2fb #85 and 85 and a half!

taylor jordan (f2fb #85) is a senior at wayland academy and her friend marshall is now f2fb #85 and a half. the two gals went out to dinner with me after track practice. i wanted to ask taylor about married life.

taylor and marshall are both seniors with a lot of plans. marshall wants to become a lawyer and will start at university of wisconsin in milwaukee in the fall. taylor has already been accepted at columbia college in chicago and is going to be an artist.

taylor’s not really married. it’s just something she’s put on her facebook profile. i’ve noticed lots of girls who are not married are married on facebook. particularly to other girls. i think it’s a way of saying “i’m not going out with anybody right now”. this is the exact opposite of married guys putting “single” or “it’s complicated” as their status.

is your status for real?!?
absolutely!
i don’t have a status–my life is a fluid situation
it really really really is complicated

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customer surveyswayland is incredibly strict and has a points system for getting yourself suspended or kicked out entirely. taylor and marshall didn’t want to risk a single point–and i wouldn’t want to be responsible for any mishap. so we scurried over to campus, while marshall tried to teach both me and taylor the wayland song of triumph–

tory, marshall and me

tory, marshall and me

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taylor and marshall, yep, i want to come to graduation!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 at 10:58 am

f2fb #86 the warrior shopper

there are things my f2fb friend #86 fran fruit can do that i just can’t–one of them being to grocery shop. but that’s because i have a horrible, disgusting, debilitating, shameful secret. i haven’t even read about this in any woman’s magazine.

i sleep eat.

some people snore, walk, talk and mumble in their sleep. i probably do all that but i also go downstairs to the kitchen and eat food. with no memory of having done so. last night i ate a banana, half a package of baby swiss cheese, two hamburger buns, potato chips, spinach dip and an entire solid milk chocolate easter bunny. the only evidence i have of doing this is the crumbs on the bed, the empty packages and peels on the floor around the bed, and that i stepped on cheese when i got out of bed this morning. it’s a wonder i don’t weigh four hundred pounds. so i hope that eastman will not think me a bad parent when i write that i look forward to him going back to school after spring break but only because it will allow me to return the refrigerator to its intended use: to store perfume, nail polish, no more tangles spray, and diet coke.

my friend fran fruit–and her name really is fran fruit–is talented in so many different directions. she’s a photographer and computer genius (although she’s going to email me a correction saying she is opposed to the word genius in this context). she is also a professional taste tester. who better with whom to shop at a grocery store?

fran took me on a very limited portion of her friday schedule. we started at a grocery store in niles. not only does fran bring her own shopping bags, but she also brings her own produce bags. this was not a grocery store for kraft macaroni & cheese, wonder bread, and kellogg’s cornflakes upon which i raised my children. no, this was the united nations of grocery store. and i wanted so much to buy dragon fruit, yamas, cactus, burnt octopus, and burdock. but i wasn’t sure what i would do with them. i don’t speak any other language than english and for this alone i might have stood out. on the other hand, i noticed a gentleman ambling behind me for several aisles. he finally spoke and told me i looked very beautiful. i thanked him and then he said something to another man in a language i didn’t recognize and i think he might have been laughing at me. ah, well, i bought replacement milk chocolate easter bunnies (which i will give away before i sleep) and two prayer candles.

fran had a cartful of stuff but she was quick to say that some things were better purchased elsewhere. we went to two other grocery stores–at one of them i could have bought a live octopus AND gotten eyelash extensions! i wanted pink so bad. she has been married an astonishing forty years and she is the shopper in the family, as well she should be–she is a warrior. i know i can’t ask her to come make me dinner at two o’clock in the morning!

warrior shopper fran fruit

warrior shopper fran fruit

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 6:41 pm

the days ahead on f2fb!

am starting to think about the eastern seaboard adventure for f2fb! i have to send out missives to friends lon kieffer, rita bowman, bob garrity, gail marlow, todd stiles, laura resnick, gwen patton, jeff barnes, vince p., and ken kaissar that i’ll be showing up between april 26 and may 4! also, have booked a flight into raleigh for the weekend of april 15 to see facebook friends julie, susan and mike.

but a question: there are plenty of friends i have who are new friends–made since january 1. if i made arrangements to meet them if they are in the same city, would it work? if you’re a facebook friend, particularly a new one, give me a heads up!

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 at 11:00 pm

danger girl! i am now packing heat


i don’t like the idea of carrying a gun. as clumsy as i am, it’s going to go off at the wrong moment and will be aimed in the wrong direction. as in middle of church services and me. pepper spray? my eyes still well up at the memory. but, still, i am now packing heat. i figure i’m traveling a lot–something untoward will perforce happen.

i have placed in my purse a wooden board. it’s roughly the size of my laptop. inch thick. and i’m utterly deadly with it. stand back. be afraid. be very afraid.

i’ve known f2fb friend #87 ron stein for roughly 18 years. that’s because i signed up my older son joseph for karate lessons. i thought being comfortable about defending one’s self is always useful–especially in the mean playgrounds and candy stores of winnetka. ron teaches karate at the community house with frank crzysnowski. both joseph and eastman trained for years with the duo. ron now also provides private lessons to anybody who wants to feel confident about their safety. and he was kind enough to come to the house to give me a private lesson, having expressed some concern that this year, i’m sure to run into some questionable circumstances.

ron knew he couldn’t get me up to bruce lee standards, but he could tell me the most important things a woman should know.

first, be conscious of your surroundings. a lot of times i’m pretty ditzy but when i pay attention i have good instincts about when something is not quite right. not that i act on that instinct, although that brings me to . . . .

second, ron says once you have made the decision that you are in danger. then, strike fast and without any part of you holding back. do so for the purpose of gaining an escape route. in order to emphasize his point, he said this:

ron stein

ron stein

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i’m hideous at making the decision to cut off the ladylike behavior. to breach the social compact. to say “i don’t care if i hurt your feelings.” there is a moment when i should strike, and in the next several seconds, as the miscreant is reacting in surprise, i should make my escape.

ron said that every female he has taught has been able to slice up a board on the first try. the pressure was on. but what this exercise would teach me is just how much power i can bring to a situation. he had me focus on the exhalation, breathing out at the moment i strike. putting my whole self into that impact.

karate kid arlynn

karate kid arlynn

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allrightee!!!!* oddly, i didn’t even break a nail! in fact, my only injury was a splinter i got from jumping around screaming “i did it!” while brandishing the two pieces of wood.

if i can strike like this at an aggressor’s chin or neck or eyes, i have just given myself enough time to either flee or to follow up with a damn good knee to the groin, the latter of which ron seemed to hesitant to have me demonstrate. this showed me, though, how much power the weaker person has in any situation if they make the decision to forget appeasement, negotiation, charm, etc.

of course, i never learn the intended lesson. instead, i have put a board in my purse and if ever anybody threatens me, i will just pull the board and say “hold this”

ron has spent a lot of time in japan and like me wants his japanese friends to know 私達は覚えていてあなたおよび私達がであることをあなたのために考え、祈る!

*special thanks to f2fb #28 tom evans ace camera dude!

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 at 8:36 pm

space for a new friend? f2fb friend #88 and 89. .. . but 89 shows up!


i was a little stymied by f2fb friend #88. s/he required complete anonymity. s/he only agreed to meet if i promised to not record or memorialize any part of the experience. so . . . there’s a blank spot at 88. an open slot as it were. i have to ask you to trust me that i actually met with the friend.

it’s weird because i respect all privacy issues. if i meet with a friend and we spend four hours together gossiping, chopping wood blocks, pedicuring, braiding, touring the city, or popping open a champagne bottle with a saber sword–and then the pal says “hey, this is what i don’t want shared” that’s so chill with me. don’t want your picture taken? okay, whatever. no video? sure, but i did just get the flip camera and am so proud of myself for knowing how to use it.

this project is not about creating the record. it’s about having the experience. i started the year as somebody who couldn’t look up at a jet flying overhead without feeling a twinge of fear that i might ever have to venture out of winnetka.

but i have this empty space at 88. is there anybody who wouldn’t mind filling in?

after lunch (whoops, i have indicated the activity i shared with f2fb friend #88!) i played facebook matchmaker. f2fb friend #78 loraine hara yolles invited me and f2fb friend #89 sally stearns mcquillen to her home. i’ve known sally for close to ten years. she is a way cool jeweler–redesigning vintage pieces into stuff that looks great with a t-shirt and jeans or with an evening gown (still waiting on an invitation somewhere so i can WEAR a gown)

sally and loraine

sally and loraine

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loraine has a stash of costume jewelry which has been designed for us gals of the new millennium and me? how wonderful she chose me to be her first spokesmodel!!!! except i have to remember to keep my eyes open when the photographer says “think of chanel!!!!”

i’m giving a party for loraine to show off her jewelry. would you come?
absolutely! will there be champagne?
too far away! but my best wishes!
if you’re giving the party for loraine, can we have a party for me too?

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online surveysnext up: boxing–i take to the ring!!!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 at 2:54 am

it wasn’t at all like the movie “my dinner with andre”. ..

no, this had been billed to me as like “million dollar baby” but without the c-1 and c-2 neck injuries. and there would be a dwarf. i was very concerned about boxing with a dwarf. made me think about that rule about hitting below the belt.

i ended up boxing with andre, a ukrainian dude who probably was a bit baffled at being asked to train me and another, ahem, woman of a certain age. here’s my f2fb friend #90 sally
graver.

doesn’t she look like she’s having fun?

in any event, andre gave us quite a workout. i’m beginning to think boxing might actually require a) some quick physical and mental reflexes and b) incredible courage. neither of which i particularly have. okay, the dwarf. i’ll get to the dwarf.

andre worked us for twenty minutes–jump ropes, punching, running, hopping–and i was quite ready to say “thank you very much” and head out for a latte and a light pastry. instead, we were just beginning. here’s my first title match in the ring.

boxing

boxing

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look at me go all fast and furious on him!

okay, the dwarf. i’m getting there. what i noticed is that i work out every day. i run or walk, or weights. i can do an hour on a stairmaster reading magazines that keep me up to date on reality television stars that i don’t even know–like, who the hell is leah messer? why is she having problems with her baby daddy? working out has not made one bit of difference in keeping the weight off or in making me all sleek and buff. but damn, twenty minutes with andre and a bit of ring time. . . .

and sally was pretty damn good too!

sally beats on andre

sally beats on andre

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okay, the dwarf.

sally has a son david who is a dwarf. having a child always has an element of surprise to it and sally describes her experience as a little like getting on a plane bound for ciampino airport in rome and finding yourself landing in amsterdam. i first met sally when david was still in high school–i organized a birthday party at rotary for him and i didn’t actually get to go to it. but he got his first job from one of the rotary members at the party who was head of the park district. david kept score at youth basketball games. but now he works as security at ultimate fitness boxing club–he was guarding the front desk while us gals were tearing up the joint.

sally is more than just a tough athlete. she told me to remember that having the map is not the same as knowing the terrain. i don’t think she was just talking about the fact that i got lost on my way to the boxing club! thank you sally!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

f2fb gets a new friend . . . . all the way from ireland

hector interview

i was so excited to wake up at one thirty in the morning so i could talk to my friend hector! however, i couldn’t get back to sleep. until just before noon. i’m too old for this sort of thing.

but i need my beauty rest tonight. i’m bringing together two facebook friends tomorrow at roller derby at the uic pavilion! just think–nine more friends and i’ll be meeting friend 100. if i had used this sort of determination at losing weight, i’d be a supermodel!

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 9th, 2011 at 2:02 am

fb stands for foxy balboa!

p.s. between boxing, roller derby, and watching the movie hanna, i think you should just steer clear of me for a while.

the most wonderful thing about this project is bringing two friends together! my friend lisa jarvis (okay, put a number on her and it’s 91) is a regular at derby lite–an oak park roller derby squad that is the feeder system for the windy city rollers derby team. i thought, hey, why not get her together with jeffrey weber (f2fb #67) who trains many of the girls on the four squad teams (hell’s belles, manic attackers, double crossers and the fury). oddly, the rollers recruited me about five years ago. i declined. they do not carry broken fingernail insurance.

foxy balboa

foxy balboa

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we met at the uic pavilion. jeff was wearing his hell’s belles t-shirt because that’s the squad that the majority of his gals train with. jeff and lisa might make a really good trainer-athlete team. lisa has the name foxy balboa as her game name. you can find her on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Foxy-Balboa/142329419156989?ref=ts

and she suggested that i take the athlete name scarlett o’scara. i’m on it.

tomorrow! me belly dancing? i want to HIDE the video of that. . . l

for more on the windy city gals, go to windycityrollers.com

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 10th, 2011 at 11:52 pm

i get sucker punched by f2fb friend #92

there are two incontrovertible truths i learned this morning: one, never allow yourself to be taken in by a sweet old lady saying “we’re just a bunch of seniors trying to get a bit of exercise.” second, i dance like a white chick. a white like the underbelly of a fish.

jo caylor is a very sweet gal who lives a few blocks from me. we move in some of the same circles so i might see her and her husband at a party. we might chat or we might exchange a bit of gossip. on facebook, jo often has a saucy comment or a question about why everyone is lol-ing or lmao-ing. but i don’t spend a lot of time with her or really get to know her. that doesn’t happen on facebook or at somebody’s kasimir pulaski day party.

she said she wanted to take me to a zumba class. zumba is a latin dance exercise program created by alberto perez who was once a choreographer for shakira. jo said it wouldn’t be too tough because this class was just for seniors. jo is a lifelong dancer, having performed on the paul whiteman television show out of philadelphia. parts of her life sound like hairspray but without baltimore or a drag queen for a mom.

she had a contract with the rockettes when she was fifteen, but alas, she was too short and never quite grew to the minimum five foot six inches required of a rockette. i should have known better than to step into the ring–oh, i mean dance floor.

the class was taught by a perky blonde with no tits and a six pack. it was hate at first sight–but only because she was so damn nice and perfect. argh. i tried to film some of this but it was impossible to hold a camera–i flopped about like i had been pulled from the lake and couldn’t figure out how to stand up in the boat. here’s the aftermath:

jo caylor

jo caylor

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well, that taught me something!

jo had a story she wanted to share with me and anybody who can sucker punch me with such elan should be listened to: she said her father was dining at a rooftop restaurant in karachi, india one afternoon. he had ordered a beer and a sandwich. the only other diner was a solitary, unremarkable looking man seated nearby. the beer and the sandwich were delivered. jo’s father reached for the beer. as he took a good long pull, a vulture swept through the dining room, taking both halves of his sandwich in its claws and then alighting out a window. while bemoaning the loss of his sandwich, jo’s father noticed the other diner had placed his napkin over his plate.

“you have to be quick,” the man said.

and that was part of jo’s advice to me this year. be quick and expect vultures to steal your sandwiches. or perhaps, what she really meant was to expect surprises.

and i do!

This entry was posted on Monday, April 11th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

i get some girl on girl action and my father justin makes a surprise announcement

i was ready for a spiritual moment and that was what f2fb friend #93 dee dee chesley promised me: hot yoga at namiya. a mat, ninety degrees, a few “om’s” and maybe a “namaste” and i could get a nap in. what could possibly be more spiritual? i was going to be just like madonna or julia roberts. self-actualized, well rested, serene, and hot.

instead the instructor dorrie guided us through an hour and a half game of twister. at one point, she asked us to do what she described as what would happen if a headstand and a handstand fell in love and had a baby. i had to move my mat away from everybody else because i kept falling over and women were quite rightly worried about their safety. and of course there was the show off yoga gal who was doing things that nature did not intend to be done with the human body. however, dee dee is very cool. i just need to learn photoshop so i can put my head on her body and then you’d think i was pretty damn talented.

deedee

deedee

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dee dee has two sons as i do and our paths have crossed a lot over the years. she is starting a new career in early childhood education. she is a cancer survivor and somebody who has learned how to start over.

speaking of starting over, my father justin possibly regrets having put me up for adoption when i was three years old. but today, he called me to say that he’s considering moving in with me for a while as a way of starting our relationship over. this was a bit of a surprise to me–but he said that he wanted to get to know me and he felt like he never did that when he had the chance, that is twenty five years ago when i tracked him down with the help of a private detective. i’m not sure how i feel about this development since the last time i saw him was in the lobby of his apartment building when he was accusing me of being a “super conman” who had disabled his car and had brought f2fb #32 reggie gholston into his life. he claimed that reggie was not, in fact, a captain in the united states army but rather a male prostitute.

so i decided to go out with diana tucker for a walk and a talk. she is one of my closest friends and it was an afterthought that she is also my facebook friend. i guess she’s number #94–we can talk about anything but she doesn’t like to have her picture taken. oddly, she also doesn’t like to have a fuss made over her birthday. i’[m still furious that winnetka doesn’t have a parade for my birthday.

tallulah, on the other hand, is a bit of an attention seeker. unfortunately, i’m allergic to dogs and now have a blister on my mouth. if i don’t die of anaphylactic shock i’ll be seeing a very special friend who has a message for eastman’s birthday tomorrow.

tallulah and me

tallulah and me

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

my day begins with a kiss from nipper castino!

i had the best birthday surprise planned out for eastman (f2fb #1) who is far away in oberlin, ohio–i was driving to gurnee to meet with facebook friend julie halpern who was his sixth grade teacher. unlike these friends of mine who put me through physical torture, she wanted to eat waffles and sing happy birthday on a video to be posted for the within hours nineteen year old.

also, if i met with her AND with nipper castino in one day, my trip to chapel hill tomorrow would result in one of the eastman daughters being f2fb friend #100! what a milestone! i’ve stuck with this new year’s resolution to meet every facebook friend! next year, i can make a resolution to lose five pounds!

then i started the car.

well, actually, that’s the point. i didn’t start the car. my car is in the garage doing a perfect imitation of a working vehicle–instead, it is more like an objet d’art to be admired, viewed, photographed and it ain’t going to take me places. my car’s battery was dead.

then i got the bright idea to make eastman a video of ME singing happy birthday. surely he would like it almost as much as julie singing and with the benjamin franklin playing card i sent him he’d be bound to get all gushy with sentiment. that’s when i found out that my flip camera wasn’t working. oh, and my phone wasn’t either.

then i did what any reasonable girl would do–i said that’s it, i give up, i’ll take a day off from the world. i remembered i had an appointment with nipper. nipper castino lives about twenty minutes away. if you have a car.

i decided i have to choose between thinking of this project as an “oh gosh this is silly” project and “damnit, this is going to get done” project. i put on my walking shoes. i had a very nice chat with myself with a lot of positive affirmations, like “i’m positive i’m a jerk” and “i’m positive that every other person on the planet knows how to organize their lives better than i do” and “i’m positive that this project is a disaster and stupid to boot”.

then i met nipper castino, f2fb friend #95. this is a cat with his own facebook profile. he has ninety friends. including me. i brought him catnip.

nipper lives with the castino family which includes f2fb friend #6 chris castino who has been one of the early “you can do it” galpals. nipper’s cat siblings are lexy (who declined to meet me) and mini (who wanted that catnip). there are three castino daughters, one of whom–michelle–gets a photo credit here. she is the administrator of nipper’s facebook page. another of my friends–elmore leonard–has an administrator for his page. i do my own work.

we had a bonding moment. i was utterly distracted from myself. and while i was at the castino home i got a call from bob banks of the knauz dealership that sold me the mini. my little car is going to the dealership hospital. i’m working out all the kinks in my technologies. . . .

i am having a wonderful day. it just started a little later than i figured. it started with a kiss from a friend!

and here’s this for you, eastman–

birthday wish

birthday wish

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 at 11:58 pm

chapel hill

i’d always like to believe i’m more competent than i am, but there are limits. i have a car with a dead battery in the knauz dealership hospital. i have a flip camera that is acting quite temperamental. i have a phone that keeps telling me that i have a sm card problem.

but here’s the thing: i made a new year’s resolution to meet and spend time with every one of my facebook friends. i am acting on that resolution every day–i am writing from chapel hill where i am with the eastman daughters julie and susan as well as julie’s husband mike.

the eastman family is very special to me. i ran away from home when i was fifteen and i ended up in some unsavory circumstances. but when i came out of that hellishness, i ended up going to north central college in naperville. i met dick eastman, who was chairman of the english department, and his wife vivian. the couple invited me into their lives as friends. it was a friendship that only ended a few years ago with their deaths. their daughters have been kind enough to open their lives to me as sisters.

i have been awake for nineteen hours. i’m tired. i feel like a failure because there’s no video to share, no pictures i can post. but i did what i was supposed to do, which is i got on the plane, i got off the plane, i made it to chapel hill. i have come very far since i made the resolution–and i have a very long way to go!

and one last time–happy birthday to my son and facebook friend eastman!

This entry was posted on Friday, April 15th, 2011 at 1:09 am

a valentine’s day for f2fb friend #96 susan eastman

oh, wait, it’s not valentine’s day! but okay, maybe it’s valentine’s day in chapel hill!

i was surprised by the new joy in susan eastman’s life–i guess when i was nineteen i assumed that love, particularly romantic love, couldn’t come into one’s life when one was so boldly prime time as sixty years old. in fact, i thought everything became quite settled. placid. dull.

wow, am i wrong! every facebook friend i meet is the star of their own reality show and not some bit player in a family drama. susan met gene last august but didn’t go on a first date until january–and since then, well, susan, how old are you two?

texting

texting

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there are billions of us on earth, and 700 million on facebook and sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. but also very beautiful. i don’t think there’s any galpal more beautiful than susan eastman right now!

This entry was posted on Friday, April 15th, 2011 at 8:27 pm

i have heard you can’t pick your family. . .

and home is where they have to take you when you have no place else to go. i don’t think i’m unusual in sometimes getting myself locked out of home or that just like dodgeball in gym class, i’m not going to get picked until the teacher says somebody’s gotta take me.

MOTHERS
1. biological mother aleta misel leiber clayton. put me up for adoption when i was three years old. i found her when i was twenty five. she was a part-time public defender in d.c. she hated me because i didn’t give her enough money. i have no idea where she is or whether she’s alive.
2. adoptive mother jewell houchen patrick. probably schizophrenic. decided i was a partner with satan in the destruction of the world. she had a hysterectomy when she was seventeen. i think that affected her. here she is in what was probably the early fifties. i have no idea where she is but since she’d be ninety five years old, i would suspect the odds of any sort of reconciliation are remote.

3. foster moms. well, several of them. but most notably irene patton. more about her later.

4. vivian eastman who was never an actual mom, but might as well have been. when i was twenty, she found out i had spent christmas alone, as was my custom. she said never do that again. and until the deaths of both her and her husband, i have spent my christmases with them.

FATHERS

1. biological father justin leiber, f2fb friend #30, married at one time to aleta. put me up for adoption when i was three years old. divorced aleta a year or two later. had at least one wife before barbara foorman his present wife. he has said he is considering moving up from florida state university to live with me for a while. i’m not sure how i feel about this.

2. adoptive father donald patrick worked for the post office. he died when he was seventy and i was twenty five.

3. lots of different foster fathers, one of whom–paul patton–has died but haunts me.

SISTERS

1. sandra patrick, my adoptive sister, eight years older than me and gorgeous. glamorous. in ony the way that an older sister is regarded. i have no idea where she is.

2. casey leiber (f2fb #31) whom i met when i was twenty five and she was eighteen months. i believe she has been raised to regard me as a sort of acquaintance of justin’s and we had very little contact during her childhood. she is an actress in new york.

3. lots of foster sisters. some of whom didn’t make it. some of whom we pledged eternal sisterhood and then got into different placements and lost touch. then there’s gavin patton who became gwen patton. i’ll see her later in the month. she has every reason to want to tell me to fuck off.

4. clare eastman who isn’t a facebook friend. julie eastman who is on facebook–i’ll write about her and her husband tomorrow. susan eastman who is f2fb friend #96.

sisters

sisters

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CHILDREN
1. eastman leiber presser, yes, named for the eastman and leiber families, f2fb #1
2. joseph leiber presser, f2fb #61
3. elisabeth presser andrews, f2fb #13. she’s officially an ex-stepdaughter. an interesting feature of facebook is that you can request to list anybody as a family member but sometimes it’s difficult to use that feature and so we’re not connected as family members on facebook. that’s okay.
4. david presser, officially an ex-stepson. i don’t think he’s on facebook.

two biological grandparents i got to meet. alyce blum who is in a nursing home in seaford, delaware. i met her about eight years ago. she has three daughters, aleta included, and has no contact with any of them. her heart breaks. and then fritz leiber the science fiction writer, whom i met when i was twenty five and believed i was being welcomed back into the eden of family.

but i am fifty now and i have learned that when adam and eve had their eden foreclosed on, they just needed to build elsewhere.

i am way not keen on that tornado stuff!


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 16th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

tornadoes in raleigh? welcoming me? what?

i took piano lessons from miss violet who slapped my hands when i misplaced them on the keyboard. one time, i was practicing and the vibrations from the standup piano knocked a china cup display from the wall. rather than applauding my bravado with gilbert and sullivan, my adoptive mom mrs. patrick sent me to the basement. and once, in a car, i sang the flintstones theme song and a gentleman to whom i was matrimonially related told me i was the most offkey singer he had ever aurally encountered. in better terms, i’m not musical but damn i admire it!!!

my two sons have genetically inherited musical talent from a family they are not genetically related to. the eastmans are very musical and they don’t need an ipod or an mp3 player to entertain themselves. i was stunned when julie eastman (f2fb #97) and her beloved groom mike sollins (f2fb #98) forswore sheet music to play the richmond cotillion. at the end of the civil war, many secessionist (southern) households would host “hardship parties” where no food or drink would be offered but there would be music and merrimaking. when i was running in the woods i realized i was in territory that young men stood thinking i am protecting my mother, my wife, my children. the trees are that old that they once shielded those men. . . who would have danced with their sweethearts. . . . .

richmondcotillion

richmondcotillion

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julie and mike met in boston. they live next to f2fb #96 susan who is julie’s twin. aren’t they sweet? there is something in us that does this connecting thing. jeez, i thought they were just going out. some years have passed. .. .

julieandmike

julieandmike

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chapel hill is a wonderful paradise. they talk about aging in place which, well, i’m on it. all i need to do is move into the shack behind the two eastman sister houses (please mike could you put in electricity? and a blanket?) the eastman daughters and mike even provided me a tornado. but i have to move on. . …. .

This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 12:47 am

i come home from tornadoes to snow!

i am having the most wonderful fun this year! and i’m having the most horrible time! i want to travel, i love the yearlong party, i want this facebook resolution, i’m going to hide in my house and call in a standing order to lakeside groceries so i never have to venture forth. i was completely into agoraphobiamode yesterday after i got back from north carolina and when i woke this morning there was snow–jeez, what a great day to continue the hiding!

but i had to get out there today because i was meeting up with the facebook friend i admire most, cristina persico.

i met cristina when she joined up with the cast for a benefit show i directed for the pta. she was the pick up the beat dancer, she was the fireball, she was the one who had a smile that made you think there could never be a bad day.

and yet she had ever reason to say “thank you very much world but i really don’t want to be part of things”. . . . her husband and her daughter francesca (frenchie) passed on within a short period of time of each other. i can’t imagine what courage it took to engage the world, to become a volunteer in the fight against cancer, and to show up to be in a silly musical comedy i wrote. she has the best game face.

i want that game face, i want to be like cristina. except. . . the dollface scheduled me in to be part of the classes she teaches. i had a good strategy–i pretended i had to film stuff.

cristina

cristina

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can you imagine actually moving like this for an hour? and this was after she got in from the airport at one thirty in the morning.

i am grateful because cristina has embarked upon a romance. it is something she never expected. this year i see how much it means to people to connect with one person and to make this person their world. that desire doesn’t quit, doesn’t let up, is always with us. i wish her all happiness.

tomorrow f2fb friend #100–and i will ask him about silver, gold and other precious metals! or maybe i’ll just ask him about family. he’s got a rather large one. . .

This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

mr. f2fb #100 tells me how to protect my assets!

today’s economic news is pretty disheartening.  all this year, i have been talking to people who have lost their jobs, who are having their hours cut back, who are worried that they’re drowning in debt.  bill seymour is seventy five years old and he’s weathered a few economic reversals.  he got an mba from harvard a few months before i was born, so he’s had some time to assess the market and he has some interesting advice–

first and foremost, if you’re going to buy a piece of real estate, do your best to pay it off in its entirety.

and second, consider this–

billseymour

billseymour

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we went to grandpa’s for lunch.  the first time i met bill there, i was told by his son charlie (f2fb #20) that we were going to grandpa’s.  i arrived with a bromeliad.  i knew that bill’s grandfather was the famous harry horder who owned a stationer’s shop in chicago.  i was quite abashed when i discovered that grandpa’s was not a person but, rather, a restaurant on prairie street in glenview.  it is not a point of etiquette to bring a hostess gift in the circumstances.

bill seymour is married to paddy seymour and has two ex-wives, one of whom is deceased.  he has four children an outsider might regard as “his own”, two stepchildren from the second wife, two stepchildren who came with paddy, as well as a daughter of paddy’s first husband (or maybe second, i’m quite confused by this stuff).  bill takes the position that all these children:  deb, tom, charlie, prescott, cory, christie, jay, chris, and robin are all to be regarded as his children.  he is friends with his first ex-wife and with the first husband of his second wife.  he is somebody who doesn’t really need facebook because he creates he is friends and family to everyone!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 at 10:50 pm

kristen and i spend time with a celebrity!

kristan poggensee (f2fb #101) has one really good reason to hate me:  when we first met, i broke her ankle.  and yet, she still agreed to go with me to a katie gavin concert last night.

the concert was at space, a consciously of this moment club in evanston.  we arrived during a terrific thunderstorm and were told that the concert was sold out.  this was a bit of a relief to me because i was of two minds about the concert.  i wanted to see it because i adore katie.  and yet, i was thinking maybe i shouldn’t be going to the concert because katie is eastman’s ex-girlfriend.  it’s a little tough for a mom to know what to do when her son breaks up with a gal.  am i supposed to break up with her too?

katie and eastman used to perform together.  now eastman is studying at oberlin and katie is a bit of an internet sensation with her acoustic rendition of willow smith’s “i whip my hair”

so here we were, shut out of a katie gavin concert with two pouting teenagers who looked like they might start crying.  then, out of nowhere, lynn sido (who is not my facebook friend)  arrived.  she had four extra tickets.  one for me, one for kristen and .  . . i snatched two tickets from her to give to the two pouting katie gavin fans.

“really?”  they squealed when i gave them the tickets.

kristen knows katie as well–katie’s younger sister is best friends with kristen’s daughter.  we asked katie to give a shout out!  i felt just like i was a pap from tmz.com!

a short chat with katie and kristen

a short chat with katie and kristen

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while kristen went to get a drink, katie and i chatted.  katie said she’s been following my adventures with facebook and then confessed to being very nervous about the upcoming performance.  i said i was like that all the time but that both of us had to learn to enjoy the experience.  then she went onstage.  i was very proud of her!  she even remembered to give a shout out to her two young fans!

after the main act came onstage, kristen and i went to find a semi-quiet corner.  kristen is an enthusiastic gal who is working on her mba while being a single mom to three.  her daughter lizzie, btw, is my facebook friend.  she and i became close after i broke her mom’s ankle.  i was directing a show at the time and i asked the cast if anybody was willing to do a back flip onstage.  a downer like “who’s afraid of virginia woolf?” is always livened up with a random bit of acrobatics.  kristen volunteered.  and promptly broke her ankle.  i felt pretty damn responsible for the episode.  kristen’s daughter lizzie wanted to be my assistant director.  there’s probably something in there that a psychiatrist would understand but i gave her a clipboard and a walkie talkie.

kristen had this to say about this project:

kristen poggensee

kristen poggensee

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this is how my facebook friends should treat me!

the black GT roared into the driveway.  it was fully loaded.  which is to say that tommy chang (f2fb #102) and his fiancee rachel li (who wasn’t my facebook friend until this morning) had stocked the trunk with basil, fish, pork, oils, spices, woks, knives, spoons, and vegetables.  they were quite aware that my refrigerator contains just perfume, diet coke, beer, and smart water.

fish in sink

fish in sink

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tommy and rachel agreed that tommy is the better cook–they claim asian girls are not as likely to know how to cook these days because they are more independent.  tommy is originally from taiwan, rachel from mainland china where she grew up both in the northeast and in the southwest.  when they marry, they will have one ceremony here in the states, one in mainland china, and a small reception in taiwan. they met at motorola where they both work.

they chose a menu that reflected the diversity of the two countries.

i met tommy through my friend dirk (f2fb #103), who showed up unexpectedly at the house.  he has a good sense of when somebody’s making dinner.  dirk and tommy met through their membership in a networking association for asian professionals.  i have to admit i had not known that dirk is asian.

tommy and rachel

tommy and rachel

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chicken hearts are really good.  sort of like tiny sausages.

also at the dinner was bob bergman, a longtime friend both on facebook and in real life.  bob was seventeen and working as a house painter when the scaffolding he was on collapsed.  he was in a coma for three weeks, not expected to live.  and he has a brain injury that has messed with his short term memory.  i remember being quite proud when, after months of knowing me, he started to remember my name.

bob bergman

bob bergman

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bob’s system for remembering things was developed when he was in his early twenties–he carries a tiny notebook in his back pocket at all times and writes down EVERYTHING.  i believe now that he has a better short term memory system than most people our age.

ty ty ty ty to tommy, rachel, bob and, yes, dirk–i have just one question:  what time is dinner tonight?

when are you to old for it?

i have definitely past the age at which i can reasonably expect a career as a figure skater.  and probably super model is out.  i am unlikely to have to fend off the advances of people magazine’s sexiest man of the year.  and i am unlikely to be named as prime minister of any country, however small or however misguided.

but when am i too old for IT?  i’m not talking the lower case it.  i figure some form of it is possible right up until the day before i ask my sons to give me phenobarbital and put a ziplock bag over my head (make sure to use a twist tie to form a seal!)

no, on that day before i head for the great hereafter, i just might have to pay for it.  and that’s what i told jon when he said that he hadn’t given up.  he feels too young to give up.

“so pay for it,”  i said.

“you always pay for it.”

and then he sighed.

“it’s not it that i’m looking for.  it’s IT.”

“oh, i got you.  that stuff.”

and then we both sighed.  IT.  the breathtaking moment when another person is the most important, fascinating, charming, gracious person and they think the same about you.  oh, man, are we ever too old for that?

jon grand, f2fb #105, isn’t and neither am i.

but i don’t just want IT.  i also want to be chic like a proper french gal.  and i WOULD like to try my hand at the international figure skating championships.  or at least wear a costume for it.

so jon ordered me ines de la fressange’s new book “parisian chic.”

jongrand

jongrand

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it should arrive at the book stall right around the time i’m in cincinnati or morgantown or philly or washington.  i post a schedule tomorrow.  if you’re a “new” facebook friend i want to see you even while i’m making sure to see all of my cherished new years eve facebook friends!

so . . . being parisian chic is something i will do after i get back on mother’s day weekend.

elizabeth taylor: dead movie star, banker, graduate of birmingham southern college

elizabeth taylor is an oscar winning actress who is coincidentally dead and my facebook friend.  oh, wait.  that’s not my facebook friend.  my elizabeth taylor facebook friend is, as far as i know, a darn cute redheaded banker who fills out a st. john suit and a mortgage application with equal aplomb.  oh, wait.  that’s not my facebook friend.  my elizabeth taylor facebook friend is–i don’t know!!–a graduate or at least studied at birmingham-southern college and i am exactly fifty percent of her facebook friends.  her other friend is keith d. thompson who is a pastor at the first united methodist church (i’m presuming birmingham) and he’s married to linda.  you might very well ask.  well, i’ve asked.  who’s keith?  who’s linda? where is birmingham southern college?

uh, oh, alabama.  i’m going to huntsville to see sammie scruggs and jonathan boyd (facebook friends number __ and __) but that’s about an hour and a half away.  i’ll do it.  maybe.

the elizabeth taylor i know (the banker, not the dead movie star) never responded to my little videos, my “you might like this” posts, my invitations.  wow, was i surprised.

f2fb friend #107 has her own intentions about the year. . .

i am shaking as i write this because i’m about to start on a nine day barnstorming friend trip throughout the eastern united states and i can’t get myself to leave the house.  there’s a storm out there.  and i’m pretty sure i’m having a heart attack or a brain aneurysm or a nervous breakdown all at the same time.  but i have an intention, a new year’s eve resolution made in haste without regard to consequences.

at least somebody is packed and ready to go!

my friend laurie carver is someone i only see at parties or when she hosts her cabi line of dresses.  she has been a businesswoman for many years and i was surprised when she told me about her new bracelet.

intention

intention

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i have been hearing again and again of people looking for love and i don’t think that urge leaves us until our last breath.

laurie and i grew up with the feminism of gloria steinem, ms. magazine, national organization for women, breaking that glass ceiling, power suits.  so i was really surprised at what she had to say about men and women.

VID00607

VID00607

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laurie is someone i’m going to be checking back in with.  because if that bracelet brings her intention to fruition, i’m going to want one that will give me courage.  me and the lion, who sings

What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder?
Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder?
Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot?
What have they got that I ain’t got?

Courage!

there is just one thing i have to do now–get in the damn car!

the beef house, porkopolis, and unsympathetic magic

yesterday morning, i decided that i would just get in the car.  do that.  get that far in the process.  so i got in my car.  i felt extremely silly because the garage door was closed.  i thought, all right, i’m not making a commitment to leave.  i’ll just open the garage door.

then mr. radnor my neighbor was out there.  standing in the driveway.  what if he wanted to talk?  argh.  i decided to drive out to the street.  just that far.  suddenly, i found myself on the highway.  and then. . . in crawfordsville, indiana, there’s the beef house.  it’s quite famous in a family restaurant big portions wholesome atmosphere way. my waitress was jessica, a new facebook friend who is a mom i admire.  she works six days a week, consistently picking up an extra day shift because the economy is so bad.  she’s putting her son in a private school this coming year.  she’s determined to do right by her kids.  i admire that.  i know that in a few years they’ll be grown and she’ll be in the position i’m in–able to travel and meet with facebook friends.

today i met f2fb friend #108 laura resnick.  we were writing buddies, both of us working for harlequin and silhouette.  she’s a way better writer than i am and she’s moved into the fantasy field.  we haven’t seen each other in more than ten years. we met at the cincinnati art museum.  i didn’t know that cincinnati was once named porkopolis, way back in the early eighteenth century.  i think the name cincinnati suits the place better, although the residents have taken a flying pig as their unofficial mascot.  there are flying pig statues all over the place.  and there’s a flying pig marathon the first sunday in may.

as we entered the museum, she gave me one of her books–

the book is the third in her series about esther diamond, an actress who deals with the supernatural in the form of zombies, angry spirits, sorcerers.  like twilight but cooler.  she promised me that i get to be in her next book. . . . she calls it tuckerizing.  i’m not sure where the term comes from.

laura resnick

laura resnick

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next up–i go to roxy’s for fish tacos and beer!

the playground for adults who want to just be themselves

i am a republican–at least i think so.  a catholic, although a little lapsed.  sheltered, of course.  but part of this project of meeting every facebook friend has been making me a little more aware of where my attitudes and values come from.  and i think i value respect for each other–the love one another commandment of jesus himself–most of all.

my friend gail marlow is the queen of a place on earth that is totally accepting, respectful and loving towards everyone as they want to be.  roxy’s might be called a bar, but i think it’s a little like a paradise.  roxy’s is a restaurant that was once called hamburger mary’s, one of the first openly gay owned franchises in america.  roxy’s is also where we saw a floor show with gail’s crew.  it opened with some crunk dancing by drag kings wearing oversized t-shirts, low hanging jeans, and baseball caps.  then there were very athletically inclined glam drag queens, including the renown diva hurricane summers.  was i asked to be in the show?

well, uh, no,but i did get to be the first person ever to have their picture taken with the wooden roxy cut out!  and i put a tip in malika’s briefs.  what else was i supposed to do since he was lying on the bar in front of me?  however, no touching!  that would be a violation of cincinnati ordinances related to the sale of liquor and of public decency.  it was perfectly acceptable for me to have a cherry flavored jello shot licked off my upper sternum.  i went to law school, i understand that legal distinctions are sometimes quite mysterious to laymen.

i first met gail when she was casting a movie in chicago.  eastman got the part but the movie lost its financing.  i ended up with a friend.  gail has had a rough time in the past few years and i feel sorry that i haven’t been there as a friend to help her.  facebook isn’t the place where people usually tell the truth about how tough things are.  still, the rough times have made her the best person to run roxy’s.

it was with deep regret–and a tiny bit of a champagne headache–that i left cincinnati.  i was minus one ring, a friendship ring that we share.

she also shared with me a recipe for a burger that is just right at four o’clock in the morning. . . .

gail

gail

nyssa, kip and a hedgehog meet for dinner. . .

f2fb friend #110 jeff barnes was conceived in a manner quite unusual:  his family’s next door neighbor had a laughing buddha statue on the front lawn.

“rub the buddha’s tummy and make a wish,”  the neighbor told jeff’s sister.

“i wish. . . for a younger brother,”  jeff’s sister said.

and that’s how jeff barnes came to be.

we met for the very first time in person at the chili’s in morgantown, west virginia.  he was a fan of my grandfather fritz leiber.  he showed me an autographed book by fritz as well as a brief note written to him by fritz in 1982.  i nearly cried when i saw fritz’s handwriting.  i was put up for adoption when i was three, although i was sent to live with fritz and my grandmother jonquil from when i was a year old until a year and a half.  but i didn’t meet fritz again until 1985.  i realized that jeff had more meetings with fritz than i did altogether before fritz’s death.

jeff brought with him his girlfriend gita.  and they brought me a present of a hedgehog who will travel with me as does my fiance mr. william clark (f2fb #60).

speaking of fiances, jeff was accompanied by his girlfriend gita who pulled from her bag a quilt she had made.  just about the size of an ipad screen.  look at the detail on this:

out of the quilt, she pulled two korean hujoo dolls–their names are nyssa and kip.  kip is a vampire.  nyssa is named for the female sidekick to dr. who.

nyssa used to have a facebook account.  i don’t think that a doll having a facebook account is all that unusual.  i have a cat who is a facebook friend (nipper — f2fb #95).  i have a couple of friends who have double accounts (for instance, mc kato and winston chang –f2fb #49 and #4 respectively).  and i have a fiance who has been dead for more than a hundred and fifty years (mr. clark, f2fb #60).  but facebook had it in for nyssa.

nyssa and friends

nyssa and friends

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i think because of jeff’s unusual conception he is able to fathom having a stepdaughter named nyssa and a son named kip.  the fact that the two dolls travel in gita’s bag, spooning each other in a quilt, seems a bit incestuous.  but who am i to judge another’s lifestyle?  especially dolls?

and it is a measure of jeff’s charm that i started to think it wthe most normal thing in the world to eat dinner with hujoo dolls and a hedgehog.  i have extended an invitation to gita and jeff to join me in chicago when next they travel.  i know southwest airlines says your bags travel free, i sure hope the same thing is true with kip and nyssa!

tomorrow:  i end up meeting the future miss america and i have a facebook problem that threatens to derail the whole project!  i need help!

i meet the Defender of the Caregiver

everybody will be a caregiver to someone.  a grandparent, a child, a spouse who has a longterm disability or illness.  but who takes care of the caregiver?  f2fb friend #111 lon kieffer has written a book, given countless talks, and touched people’s lives with one simple message:  that someone who is a caregiver has to make sure to take care of themselves as well. he is the superhero defender of the caregiver.

when i caught up with him in his delaware paradise he shared with me the news about his radio show!

lon1

lon1

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in my divorce agreement, there is a specific written provision that in the event that my ex-husband were to become mortally ill, i promise to become his primary caregiver.  i know is something were to happen to my sons joseph or eastman, i’d be there every day.  i have other people in my life who, were they to need my caregiving, i’d drop everything–even this project–to care for them.  i was a secondary caregiver to my friends the eastmans in their final few years.  and this project has taught me that one day i will be a caregiver to my father justin–and that day is approaching fast.

what about you?

Thank you for voting!
i’ve doing it. it takes a lot out of me. 0%
i know i’m going to be doing it. i’m a little nervous. 0%
i’ve done it. it was rough but taught me compassion. 100%
how do i get hold 0%

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survey softwarelon works at a nursing home in delaware in order to keep in continued touch with the field of nursing which is, of course, the profession of caregivers.  but he makes sure to walk down to the edge of his property and take his boat out on the nanicote river every evening after work.  sometimes he fishes, sometimes he has dinner with other “river rats” along the way, sometimes he hosts parties on the water, and sometimes he just sits back with a cold one to let the troubles of the day wash away.

lon2

lon2

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i caught some seaweed, a lure, and a log!

i first met lon when he was a caregiver at the nursing and rehab center my grandmother alyce stayed at.  she adored him because he would sit with her and listen to her stories.  sometimes people just want to be heard.

if you want to reach lon, if you’re a caregiver feeling a little stressed, he is happy to hear from you.  find him on facebook either by searching for lon kieffer or defender of the caregiver.  and you can also find him at http://www.lonkieffer.com/

next up, i visit grandma alyce and hear the story of how she and i met for the first time when i was in my early forties.

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rita bowman, quiet superheroine!

my biological parents justin and aleta raised me in a typical young married fashion:  justin was in school, aleta took some work to pay the bills and they looked forward to a brilliant future.

according to aleta, justin persuaded her that the brilliant future wasn’t going to happen if they kept me and so when i was about to turn three, they went to the children’s home and aid society of chicago.  there was a six month waiting period after i was accepted by the patricks.  sometime after that six month period, aleta and justin broke up.  they divorced about a year later.  here’s aleta in a picture taken sometime in the seventies.

i was raised by the patricks until i was fifteen and ran away from home.  when i was twenty five i found both my father justin and mother aleta.  justin was a professor at the university of houston.  aleta was a part time freelance public defender in washington, d.c.  she was a lesbian coming out of a relationship with a woman who had undergone sexual reassignment surgery.

aleta had no contact with her two sisters and her mother alyce.  she described alyce as evil.  alyce had been raised in an orphanage and was stunned when, as she turned seventeen, her mother reapeared and wanted to resume a family relationship.  alyce married very soon after, had aleta, lost custody of aleta to her mother, and then regained custody before moving on to husbands number two, three and four.  i was in contact with aleta for several years before aleta cut things off–i was paying for her health insurance and discovered that aleta wasn’t using the money for that purpose.  i have no idea whether aleta is alive or dead.  then i got a big surprise from a stranger. . . .

rita

rita

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alyce collects dolls, and at one point had well over four thousand of them in her house.  now she lives in a manor house run by the methodists and she can only keep about two hundred.  i brought her a sparkly princess belle doll.  she likes to talk, and probably feels pretty lonely when there’s no one around to listen. . . .

so she told us about when she raised a tiger in georgia before it went crazy and killed a whole bunch of people and alyce was forced to ship him back to kenya and he cried.  she told us about being a weather girl for wgn television and how she was given a police escort when it snowed so that she could get to the studio.  she told us about her years working in the circus as a clown.  she told us about how the helicopters touch down on the roof of a nearby hospital when they bring in patients and the pilot always buzzes manor house so he can wave to her because he knows her as somebody who ran civil defense.  and some of this that she says is true and some of it is just to entertain us so we will stay.

i couldn’t have a relationship with alyce without rita and her husband bruce bowman helping me.  they are good people, the sort without which a small town can’t survive.  volunteering at the fire department, raising their daughter mandy, keeping active in their church, and helping alyce blum have a granddaughter arlynn.

Godspeed to f2fb #113 on her biology finals!

. . . and a present for jay from indianapolis.

i have only met lynn nguyen once before, when her family came from pittsburgh to visit her uncle tom and his friend dirk (f2fb #103).  she was in eighth grade, self-possessed, gracious, and didn’t seem to mind that i was ancient.  although, to be fair, i was only 45 years worth of old. she has a younger sister who is about to enter denison college (hey, eastman, oberlin’s not that far away–you could be a gentleman and see her!)  the nguyen father is a carpenter.  the nguyen mother is a seamstress.  she wanted to try to make me a traditional vietnamese wedding gown, not that i’m getting married but the gowns are gorgeous.  unfortunately, she just couldn’t believe myh measurements.  when the dress arrived, the twins were unable to be accommodated.  i could be the pamela anderson of ho chi minh city if i wanted to!

today, lynn is studying at the university of pennsylvania.  her major is visual studies but the all important minor is pre-med.  she knows she will not practice in the united states because she says medicine today is about politics and not about helping people.  instead, she wants to go to a third world country where her skills and her compassion will be put to best use.  i was surprised that her view of american medicine is one that is shared by a number of people.  i really admire her commitment.

speaking of that commitment, she was studying for her biology final but she took some time to show me the campus.  we ended up at the robert indiana sculpture “love” which reminded me of the day that jay schwandt (f2fb #38) went to the indianapolis art museum and saw robert indiana’s painting of the same design.  jay bought me a refrigerator magnet of the same sculpture.

i wished lynn well on her exams and begged her to see me in chicago when she sees her uncle tom next!  then she reminded me that tom knows how to get the best flights, the cheapest rates, and that all her family makes tom book their flights.

HELLO TOM!

then it was onward to northern philadelphia where i took a room at the king of prussia hampton inn.  i was promised a nonsmoking room but when i entered the room i thought maybe a gang of young thugs had decided to host their monthly budget meeting the evening before.  i called the front desk just because i didn’t want to get charged the two hundred dollar “clean up” fee for smoking in a room.  i have a terrible fear of being blamed for things i haven’t done.  leave it to steve at the front desk, who not only comped the room but set me up in the hilton honors program.  go steve, employee of the month!

f2fb #114 and when am i getting my modeling contract?

in every community theater production, there is the fantasy:  that the nondescript man in row three will turn out to be a new york producer who has found himself with nothing to do for an evening as he ambles across the country on some business errand.  he is enchanted by the plumber’s rendition of henry higgins if they’re doing my fair lady.  or he’s smitten with how the head of the girl scout troop sinks her teeth into the “who’s afraid of virginia woolf”.  a note is sent backstage during intermission:  would said plumber or said girl scout troop leader consent to be part of his new production, an avant garde rendering of music man to be premiered at carnegie hall?

no one ever says it.  everybody in community theater says they’re doing it just for fun.  but truly, everybody would like to be discovered.  i would.  damnit, i’m still not sure why an agent from the ford modeling agency hasn’t approached me as i wend my way through the produce section of lakeside foods.

well, i’m here to tell you that the whole “discovered while doing community theater” thing happened to eastman when he was doing lost in yonkers for winnetka’s community theater.  and the new york (well, okay, pittsburgh) producer was ken kaissar.  ken was bringing the play “ritual of faith” to chicago and when he saw eastman onstage, he wanted him.

the play may have been a bit of a, well, ahem, critical and commercial failure, but eastman loved it because he got to go downtown every evening, stay up late, hang out with other actors and drink slurpees every intermission.  can’t beat that when you’re nine.

ken went on to other shows and right now is doing his own play “the man stanley” at the walnut street theater in philadelphia.  it opens june 14 and is part of a partnership called “two guys making theater”.  you can take a look at http://www.twoguysmakingtheatre.com/TwoGuysMakingTheatre/Welcome.html

facebook has allowed us to keep up a bit but it was the first time ken and i had seen each other since the play closed.  we had lunch at ted’s montana grill in philadelphia’s theater district!  oddly, nobody stopped me on the street and said “hey, are you signed with a modeling agency????”

ken

ken

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tomorrow, an account of the one meeting i feared the most on this eastern seaboard trip!

on friday, i’ll be seeing the drowsy chaperone, a piece of community theater that is going to surely produce some great stars–it’s produced by my friend nancy flaster!

my fosters and one among many reasons i’m going to hell

after i got out of juvie when i was fifteen, i was sent to an emergency foster home in downers grove.  emergency meant i could only stay for three months.  but i needed someplace stable so i could go to college.  i’m not sure why i was trusted with finding a family.

this is denise.  she was my roommate at the emergency group home in downers grove.  many years later, i’d be at a diner and she was my waitress.  it was awkward.

i went to north philadelphia to meet with gwen, whose family i lived with for close to three years after the emergency foster home.   gwen, whom i knew as gavin, has had a rough time of things but she is making it better–she has not seen her daughter in ten years but is negotiating a reconciliation and while gwen is supported by social security disability for the rest of her life because the lid of the trunk of the car she drove smashed down on her back, she works at creating a comic book adventuress jenny everywhere who can be seen at

http://quarktime.net/

this is holly.  for hours every day, she rocked in a chair placed directly in front of the speakers while listening to peter frampton’s first record.  she lived in the bedroom across the hall from me and denise.  i can’t stand peter frampton.

gwen and her partner maggie had similar life trajectories and the two of them connected on facebook in the mideighties.  you say facebook wasn’t invented yet?  ha!

gwen

gwen

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we had dinner at their favorite chinese restaurant and the evening was over before i was able to accomplish what i had come to do:

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okay, post ativan:

Video 17

Video 17

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i get back up on the saddle and ride. . .

i have had to take a few days away from this new year’s resolution to meet every one of my facebook friends.*  i returned from philadelphia a little bruised and fragile.  i hid in the third floor bedroom, watched a lot of hulu.com, ate really bad pasta (i’m an impatient cook and so my spaghetti is quite al dente).

i figured the rest of the world could get along just fine without me.

and not to say that it can’t.

around two a.m. this morning i awoke to a piercing pain just under my sternum.  i sat up for hours, drifting between nightmare and consciousness.  when it was light, i did a little diagnostic work–a half hour on the stairmaster and eight minutes of hard rowing didn’t cause me to collapse.  so it is dimly possible i didn’t have heart trouble.   but i think i hit some sort of bottom.

which is exactly the time when a gal should see terry dason.  terry is the executive director of the winnetka-northfield chamber of commerce which is a lot of words to express that she is the greatest cheerleader for the two villages.

and she is also able to be my cheerleader.  she taught me something about judging people but also about maybe not judging myself so harshly.  i don’t need to sentence myself to twenty to life on the third floor.

terry dason

terry dason

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*monday, may 9 is the 129th day of the year.  i had 324 friends as of december 31 and 335 by january one.  i will visit at least those 335–but that doesn’t mean i have forgotten my new friends.  i have already visited 117.

i need to start planning the california excursion and the manifest destiny tour of oregon, idaho, vancouver, and washington.  if anybody has any suggestions about hotels, airlines, trains, etc., i’m all ears!

God is startled to hear from my dad

this year has been about facebook, yes, but it’s also been about family, friendship, and God.  i am reminded of jonathan edwards’ sermon “sinners in the hands of an angry God” every day.  i think that’s the theological firestorm i’ve walked around with.  but i’ve come to see every facebook friend as having a unique relationship to God.  and it makes me realize how narrow my focus has been.  there is a great joy and happiness that comes with having a faith in a loving and righteous God.

my father justin (f2fb #30) is an atheist.  he’s like christopher hitchens.  he’s facing cancer and never once has decided on converting.

yesterday i worked out because i had an intense pain just under my sternum.  i figured if i was really having a heart attack i would collapse on the stairmaster and somebody would call for an ambulance.  i made sure to wear fresh underwear.  when i didn’t collapse i went to the doctor who gave me drugs for my stomach.   he also, quite spontaneously and without any credible evidence, declared that i was anxious and might need meds for that.  quel surprise!!!

i have not felt any better.  during the day, many facebook friends suggested that they were praying for me.  but i also received a message from my dad–

‘gainst my religious lacks, but am praying as well. you’ve already done enough on the resolution to qualify for the whole year already. bless you and keep you.

well that was a surprise.  a very nice surprise.

here is a picture of justin, this would have been the first time we met when i was twenty five.  from left to right–me, fritz leiber, justin, barbara and the little one is casey (f2fb #31) who is an actress in new york.

thanks, dad.

up next, a visit with the ultimate cougar!

you can’t possibly be an agoraphobic, judy says to me

judy wilkinson (f2fb #119) got out of bed today precisely because she knew she was meeting me.  otherwise she spent the day in bed reading.  me, i got out of bed today precisely because i knew i was meeting judy wilkinson.  otherwise i spent the day in bed reading.  judy and i both said to ourselves that we didn’t want to disappoint the other!

judy and i have known each other since the early 1990s when my two sons did children’s theater.  you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a production of guys and dolls performed by fourth through eighth graders.  and judy was (and still is) on the board of the winnetka children’s theater.  i was a stage mom.  judy was at one point involved in three different theater companies while working and raising her children.

this prime time woman is fearless.  for instance, she has gotten up onstage two years in a row in winnetka’s village follies benefit show as a, ahem, cougar.  she vamps, she sings, she acts, she dances. but claims she can’t dance anymore.  she can do anything she sets her mind to.

judy has had several incarnations.  she was a medical technologist, an antiques shop owner, a realtor, and she’s a lifelong sailor.  on most wednesday evenings, judy can be found at hackney’s restaurant and while i was dining with her, several people came to pay their respects and get a little love from her.   i felt like our new mayor rahm emmanuel could learn from her the exact way to deal with the populace.

and i’m thinking maybe agoraphobia isn’t the correct term for me.  agoraphobia comes from the greek words agora (place of assembly in a city state, or the marketplace) and phobia (fear).  it tends to describe people who get panic attacks when they are out and about and then the anticipation of a panic attack causes them to avoid being out and about.  until they finally learn to shut themselves up in their homes and put out the white flag.

maybe a better term is panophobia.  fear of everything.  everything would just about sum it up.

this morning, i’m feeling way better.  and i have to because i am going to see a special facebook friend who is battling back from a stroke.  she is learning to walk–and i want to be at my most helpful.

in any event, i feel so good and i have to ask. . . .

who do i thank because i feel so much better?
prayers to God and St. Pio (patron saint of stress relief)a nice dinner with judy wilkinsondexlansoprazole delayed release capsulesall of the above

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grow or blow, relationship advice from tony

on a monday morning, around five a.m., in the summer of 2009, lisa woke up knowing there was a word for the day before but she couldn’t remember what that word was.  she called her daughter who said “mom, you don’t sound right, you’d better hang up and call 911″  lisa was ferried to the hospital–she had had a massive stroke.  after three weeks in intensive care, she was transferred to a nursing home.

lisa and tony

lisa and tony

lisa, tony and a cat named loki share a bright, airy apartment decorated with photographs of her children and grandchildren.  lisa is learning to walk with a cane.  when i came over,  a care package from lisa’s sister had arrived.  sweet smelling candles, a pepper grinder, a bright green purse, dishware, and a pack of marlboro’s.  we all had a cigarette.

lisa and tony share an unconditional love.  they have seen each other at their worst, they are aware of their own frailties, they have supported each other through everything.  because of the way social security and medicare works, they can’t get married but plan a civil union soon.

the only disappointment for lisa is that her son will is not in her life anymore.  i don’t know the story of why that is but her sorrow is like the word sunday, always ready, always there, but never quite able to be pronounced.  i had had trouble finding lisa because she had not been on facebook in a long while and none of our mutual friends knew what had become of her.  her son will is a friend of my son eastman and will said that he doesn’t know where she is.  i hope mother and son will reconcile.  i dread most the prospect of either of my sons not speaking to me.

as i left the apartment, loki slipped outside and tony was sent to retrieve him.  i noticed for the first time the plaque hanging on the front door.

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what is animal collective and where’s the best school cafeteria food in chicago?

the most important question you should ask when you hire someone to help your child is who is animal collectiv?

when eastman was a freshman, he struggled in math class.  his teacher recommended that i hire a math tutor.  oddly enough, the math teacher’s ethics forbade him from recommending himself for a tutor but he could recommend another teacher in new trier’s math department.  and for a little more than a hundred dollars an hour, eastman could be tutored at school for his math class.  the teacher was quite adamant that a parent should only hire a tutor from the high school’s math department because that way the tutor would be familiar with the course material.  i felt like i was being played like a cincinnati spinster at the blackjack table in monte carlo.

so i put an ad in craig’s list hoping to find a tutor who would come to the house and who would help eastman with quizzes and tests.  i got almost a hundred responses in a single day and i invited one of them, jim morski (f2fb #120), to the house.  i admit it–it was the fact that he wrote his reply to me in full sentences that got me.

after jim left, eastman swore he would work with no other tutor because jim knew who animal collective was.

“it’s his favorite band!”  eastman declared.  “he saw them in concert!”

eastman did well that year in math, much to the surprise and chagrin of his teacher.  every monday, jim would stop by the house for an hour although sometimes during finals week he would make it twice.  i was very grateful.  and i recommended him to others.  in fact, if you want to hire a math tutor, there is no finer than jim. and that’s what makes him perfect to be THE math professor at Kendall College in chicago.

i went there recently to have lunch in their cafeteria.  i expected mac and cheese in warming trays, day old shrink wrapped chocolate chip cookies, and everything with ketchup.  instead. .. .

jim ushered me in to a fine restaurant where steve the maitre d’ showed me to  a table  with a view of the kitchen.  the chef sent out an amusee of breaded scallop with candied red onion.  the fresh faced waiter recommended an appetizer of duck sausage with breaded leek.  jim had brought me to the finest restaurant in chicago that just so happens to be kendall college’s cafeteria run entirely by students.*  for a very modest price, the food and service are outstanding.  it’s located at 900 n. north branch and you can make reservations by calling the dining room at 312-752-2328.  tell them jim morski–whoops, professor jim morski–sent you and you want his faculty discount!

*although kendall has a range of programs, most of jim’s students will go on to run their own restaurants, get a corporate job with a high end chain, or will work in private clubs.

jim morski

jim morski

aw, jim, i’m happy you’ll ask!

so the next time you interview somebody, you might want to ask about something not entirely related to the issue at hand.  eastman thinks jim is cool, therefore math is cool, therefore math isn’t such hard work.

so i have to ask you:

favorite indie band:
the killspanda bearalcoholic faith mission

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let’s rewrite steel magnolias with a ufo and a gun battle!

i don’t like opera because it’s always so long and i can’t understand why they are screeching so much.  i don’t like ballet because it makes me regret whatever size i am wearing.  but i love theater, especially when my sons are performing or when i’m writing and directing.  if i’m writing/directing a musical, there has to be at least one very large object dropped onto the stage–a car, a ufo full of pink haired aliens, a flaming comet.  if i’m writing/directing courtroom expositions* somebody has to be shot before the patrons have opened their first snickers mini.  i don’t think it’s theater unless one person in the first row pisses their pants and someone in the second screams loudly.

steve walanka (f2fb #121) has twice done his best by me performing as a lawyer in “murder on lafayette square” and in “my father’s country not my own.”  i don’t think i’ve ever asked him to handle a gun.  i think both times he was on the losing side of the courtroom antics so he would be forgiven for holding a grudge.

for this f2fb project, he invited me to see a play he has been directing–steel magnolias at the st. sebastian players theater where i have worked in the past.  i have never seen steel magnolias.  when i heard it was about southern women in a hair salon, i thought why is steve writing and directing a play about beauty salons and southern women?  i mean, he’s a lawyer, a democrat who has worked on a number of political campaigns.  what does he know about ellnet hairspray or opi nail lacquer?  and i highly doubt he’s ever had grits with or without the cheese.

director steve walanka

director steve walanka

i was utterly stunned to find out that a gentleman named robert harling wrote the play and that steve’s job was to corral six women, a series of radio personalities, and a stage crew.  whenever i had rehearsals, somebody would always say “hey, do i really have to say this on stage?” and there’d be an argument and sometimes the gun would go off.  i think this idea of having the writer and director be two different people is pretty cool.

steve, by the way, is directing my next play “consanguinity”  and he is hereby granted the sole right to change every line.  but please leave in the gun shots.

steve and i shared a kleenex packet, sitting side by side in front of  truvy jones’ beauty salon, er, the stage.  i didn’t fall asleep, but i did get that girlie emotional thing going.  so did steve. in a very manly way of course.  he did a fabulous job and it was the last show of a very, very successful run.  and chicago is a demanding theater town.

oddly, i was having a f2fb moment not just with steve but with another facebook friend, the entire st. sebastian players theater.  i am apparently friends with it–f2fb #122.  it was the winner of the 1957 tony award for “the best theatre in a basement in the universe”.   see them at http://www.saintsebastianplayers.org!

the show steve was doing was meant to benefit jimmy insulin, a group that helps newly diagnosed diabetics with people who know their way around the block.  the program book promised that if i made a donation someone from the crew would kiss me.  i got short changed.   still, a worthy cause–  www.jimmyinsulin.org

*visit the http://perfectlylegalproductions.com website to see all about that part of my life.

the hand that rocks the cradle–heidi bloom

i wish i had been adopted by someone like brangelina.  i think, even as a toddler, i could have managed a smile for the paps and riding in a private plane has got to be better than the planes i have been on lately.

in the alternative, i wish i would have been adopted through the cradle in evanston where my friend heidi bloom, f2fb #123, works.  we met for dinner and talked first about some mutual friends.  then talked turned to facebook.  twice, heidi has been contacted by gentleman callers from the past.  a mixed blessing, she has concluded.

then talk turned to my new year’s eve resolution of meeting every one of my facebook friends.  i have written a lot about adoption and heidi, who has been following my progress, had something to share.

first, she says the market has changed dramatically from when i was adopted in the sixties.  back then, the cradle had nearly sixty babies in its nursery in evanston–and the challenge was asking people to open their homes and their hearts.  mrs. florence dahl walrather, the cradle’s founder, encouraged celebrities to adopt (before brangelina, the cradle adoptive parents included bob hope, al jolson, and gale sayres) and she encouraged people to be open about adoption. heidi and i both agreed that kids would often make fun of kids who were known to be adopted and some extended families didn’t welcome the adoption.  i think both of the patricks had trouble with explaining adoption to their parents.

these days, the cradle has a handful of babies at a time and there are often more adoptive parents available than babies.

second, heidi says that the cradle doesn’t encourage the erasure of memory and of every vestige of life before adoption.  in my case,  the patricks shortened my name from arlynn to “our” lynn to lynn–the full switch from “arlynn merrill leiber” to “lynn melody patrick”.  i also had to give up my clothes and my stuffed kitty.   that last part i remember as being particularly galling.  heidi told me the story of a boy given the temporary name of “jerry cradle” after his mother left him with a firehouse–under safe haven rules–and how her group does its best to preserve the memory and the experience for a child.

heidi bloom

heidi bloom

i wonder if the reason i have so many plush toys in my car is that i’m still looking to replace the stuffed kitten that was my security.  here is my trunk, and my plush fiance mr. william clark (f2fb #60) isn’t even packed yet!

thanks especially to eastman for the paris hilton purse with puppy in it!

i told heidi about my upcoming road trip which will take me through the middle section of the country–i’m looking forward to going through western illinois, iowa, missouri and possibly arkansas.   i have bottled water and books on tape.  but first, this afternoon, i have to meet with the facebook friend who will map out the itinerary for the next month!

you can learn a lot more about the cradle at http://www.cradle.org

spring rolls before the end of the world

harold camping of the christian family radio has warned that on this coming saturday may 21 there will be a cataclysmic earthquake, all the graves will fly open, the righteous shall ascend to heaven and the rest of us poor saps will wallow in horrificious-ness until God destroys the entire universe five months later, just before halloween.

the last time someone seriously proposed to me that the endtimes were nigh was in the lead up to january 1, 2000–the so called y2k disaster which was supposed to disable all of civilization.  most people won’t admit to it, but regular joes stockpiled food, water, and sedatives.  me?  i laid in a year’s supply of firewood, champagne and cocktail napkins.  i figured a black market would develop and if, as it so happened, nothing disastrous occurred, at least i’d have the makings for a good party.

but i don’t think anybody’s going to seriously want champagne while sitting out the end of the universe on october 21, so i have decided i need to make more immediate plans.  i need some comfort food.  so i went to dirk (f2fb #103) and f2fb #124 tom’s house to have spring rolls.

tom nguyen is from mekong delta, vietnam.  he has a very large family, which includes f2fb #113 lynn nguyen and #125 phong huynh.  tom’s family tried to leave vietnam after the vietnamese war but his mother suddenly balked as she stepped onto the boat that would take the family to freedom.  she felt she could not leave the rest of her extended family behind and so she turned back.  tom could not leave his mother, and he, along with some of his siblings, grew up in refugee camps.  he’s a tough guy, but he has a sensitive side which expresses itself in his work as a doctor.  he frequently returns to vietnam on medical missions.

when i first separated from my ex-husband, we decided that we didn’t want our sons to have to go back and forth between “dad’s house” and “mom’s house” so we instituted a custody schedule in which i stayed in the family home during the week but left on weekends and my ex maintained the opposite schedule.  at all times, joseph and eastman stayed in their house.  tom and dirk were nice enough to keep their guest room open for me.  i didn’t like packing up for the weekend but i knew that whatever pain i felt about leaving the house was pain that joseph and eastman didn’t have to endure.

and every time i showed up at the house, tom would make me spring rolls.  a little bit of basil, some chicken or shrimp, homemade fish sauce, some lettuce, all wrapped in a rice sheet.  my saturday night “it’s gonna be all right” meal.

and, just for last night, my end of the world comfort food.   it’s been almost a year since i have been at the house and i was surprised at the changes, including how tom’s tea pot collection has grown.

tom’s tea pots

tom’s tea pots

i also have to thank phong, who now lives in the guest room.  he was off to basketball practice but he helped with dinner.   i didn’t go in his room because he confided that it’s a bit messier than when i was there.

so when the end of the world comes on saturday, rev. camping, i will be just a little sad because a lot of my friends will rise up to heaven and a lot of my friends will stay here to endure the five months of the endtimes.  but at least i got spring rolls first!

i am one half of doug nash’s facebook population and who is aloha lester?

i first opened a facebook account when mark zuckerberg allowed regular folks–i made friends with my two sons joseph and eastman.  and then suddenly, the friend requests started coming in.  i was popular!  which certainly wasn’t the case when i was a teenager.  i accepted promiscuously.  the guy who worked at the hardware store.  the mom of the girl that eastman went out with in eighth grade.  the gal who might have sat behind me in freshman world history.  . . or maybe i’m confusing her with someone else.  and then there were people i didn’t even know–aawagdy hakim.  i had no idea who this guy or gal is. all of the profile is in arabic.  but still, i get requests from aawagdy to play pirates versus ninjas, then mafia wars, then farmville.  my facebook new years resolution to meet all my friends is certainly going to be as much of a surprise to aawagdy as it already has been to me!

doug nash and i went to high school in naperville (although i, of course, dropped out).  i might remember him.  he might remember me.  we probably have confused each other with somebody else.  but we’re facebook friends.  in fact, i am exactly half the population of doug’s facebook friends list.

that’s because apparently i persuaded him to open up a facebook account because i said it was a good way to monitor what his children were doing.  they’re young but if he already has an account, they can’t very well tell him he’s not allowed to have a facebook presence and he might even have the moral high ground to demand that they let him be their friend.

two rules for parents who are facebook friends with their children:

1.  never comment on a status or a public post

2.  don’t look at photos your child has posted or is tagged in.  it will only upset you to see your little darling passed out with a four loko drink in her hand and “slut” written across her forehead.

doug and i live in adjoining towns and run into each other a few times a week.  we sat down and talked about the upcoming end of the world, what our families are doing, the wonderful story of how he met his wife shelly, and his job, which is to read.  doug is a trader and spends three or four hours a day reading the news, looking for how the market is going.  he can do it in his pajamas at home.  lucky guy.

doug is f2fb friend #126.  i am doug’s f2fb friend #1.

“you only have one other facebook friend,”  i pointed out.  “who is aloha lester?”

“i have no idea,” doug said.

the stars are just like us. . . they just burn brighter!

i was surprised that carla kosak even said yes.  after all, she’s a star.  she’s hot in all the senses of the word.

facebook friend gilbert gottfried blew me off earlier this year.  celebrity facebook friend elmore leonard is probably a no go.  and alex beh, who used to babysit at the redmond house when eastman would sleepover on a saturday night, has recently broken up with jennifer love hewitt and has such a busy schedule as a writer and director. . . .

i figured the best i’d get would be an autograph and a chance to watch her record her third hit–the first two being amongst the top ten downloaded tunes, the can’t stop yourself from dancing “i don’t want your man” and the fresh “pump it up”.  carla is my facebook friend because she stole the attentions of the camera and every male associated with vince p.’s music video for “girls in da club” which–don’t even ask–i wrote and directed.

i drove a long way to find carla.  as a star, she naturally protects her privacy and has a home that is nearly impossible to find.  but i had my trusty atlas and this trip turned out to be the first time i didn’t actually get lost!  when i arrived, she answered the door herself.  and wow!   imagine aphrodite dressed in sweatpants and a tank top but still the most beautiful goddess.  i suddenly felt quite sweaty, old, fat, tired and in need of a mascara break.

and this is what she looks like when she’s just hanging out at home with the love of her life. . . her two year old son!

carla kosak at one of her photoshoots

we headed for the park.  carla’s son is bright and so polite it makes me want to redo all my parenting.  i went down the slide with him.  he wanted me to push him and then he wanted mom to get him out of the swing.  carla and i talked relationships, careers, and her incredibly busy schedule.  i’m honored she spent time wth me. i’m looking forward to my nine day road trip beginning on sunday because i’ll be seeing john hill, a music entrepreneur who is interested in carla’s career!

carla has enough energy to be a mom, a star, and to keep a day job (that last only for the moment).  i loved her son.  and, just like mom, he’s a natural entertainer.

so–WORLD PREMIER HERE!!!–the acoustic duet of carla kosak and her son!

carla

carla

and here’s a link to the version of “i don’t want your man” she performed on the night i worked on the music video for vince p.  this gal is amazing!

man-sharing with phyllis vega

so phyllis and i shared a man.  it’s true i was unconscious of what we were doing for most of the time, but phyllis knew the score.

i drove a little over three hours to get to phyllis and we met at a culver’s which is known for butter burgers and cheese curds.  i had both.  i don’t need to repeat the experience.

here’s my new friend mr. culver–

phyllis worked in winnetka until a few months ago when she left her husband and relocated with her older sister who is still mourning the loss of her husband two years ago.  when i talked to phyllis earlier in the week, she said she was applying for unemployment.  when i got to culver’s, phyllis told me her unemployment application was denied.

i thought “her life sucks so much”  i showed her a private video i had made of her former colleagues at the dry cleaner in winnetka.  i also asked her if she’d like to be introduced to  f2fb friend #128 thomas shea bulger II with whom i had shared a meal just the day before.  thomas is a friendly guy, living on his own, retired, spends a lot of time riding his bike and volunteering both with aa and with elderly people.  he’s a sweet guy.

this is going to be tom’s profile picture since he doesn’t have one!

see, here i am meddling!

phyllis doesn’t see a glass as half empty or half full–she just drinks in the experience!  phyllis has already landed a job since finding out she won’t be receiving unemployment benefits, has settled her sister and herself into an apartment and has found love.  on the internet.  he’s from north carolina and will be moving to illinois.  i asked her if he would be moving into the vega apartment and phyllis smiled mischievously.  mr. wonderful and phyllis will be taking it slow.

meanwhile, as the singer carla kosak sings “i don’t want your man” both phyllis and i don’t want that man we shared.

phyllis vegas manshares with me

phyllis vegas manshares with me

phyllis (f2fb #129) hugged, said goodbye, and i skedaddled towards cedar rapids, iowa.  where i meet f2fb #130 bruce nesmith and his family.  right after i meet the tornado.

May 23, 2011

a tornado and i’m not even in kansas!

mobiles homes cause tornadoes.  this is my contribution to meteorological science.  after all, anytime there’s a report of a tornado there’s usually an accompanying report of mobile homes being plucked from their moorings or collapsing under the weight of falling trees.

as i entered the state of iowa, all radio stations reverted to the emergency broadcasting system.  the radio announcers were plaintive and earnest.  “you must go to your safe place,”  they repeated.  ominously, several added that if you were traveling along i-80 “we implore you to pull over and get to safety.”

well, to an agoraphobic, that means one thing:  return home forthwith because home is the ONLY safe place.  i wanted to turn around.  because there is no other safe place other than home.  the outside world is, by my definitions, a scary place. but i had made a commitment to be in cedar rapids to meet f2fb friend #139 bruce nesmith and his family.

bruce and i went to college together.  he wanted to be a radio newscaster.  he ended up becoming a political science professor at coe college in cedar rapids and, because of his acumen, he is frequently called upon to be a “talking head” on radio and television.  so he has some of the makings of a perfect life.

the sky blackened and the announcers were tracking three different tornadoes and telling people in solon, north liberty, johnson county, “you need to be in your safe place NOW.”  their natural iowa reticence was being tried.  since i didn’t know where i was in relation to any of the tornadoes i did what they told me.  after, hail was being tossed on my windshield like eggs in the hands of an angry god.  the tornado sirens wailed.  the little farmhouses, red barns, the moo cows gave off the vibe that they could at any moment rise up in the air, spinning and twirling and bringing up with them flying monkeys and wicked witches.  i pulled over to a convenience store and waited out the storm.  hands shaking.  hives rolling up my neck.  my inhaler in one pants pocket, my backup inhaler in the other.

but trying to play it cool, leaning against the vending machine as the store filled with people who watched the television coverage of the storm warnings.  just, you know, another tornado. . . i went outside.  that’s when i got to see the beautiful moment when a cloud starts to spiral. . . . and then it dissipated.

i traveled on to cedar rapids.  the house was a gorgeous center hall colonial.  bruce’s wife jane and their two sons welcomed me with bright smiles and a bit of curiosity about my new year’s eve resolution to meet every facebook friend.   jane freelances both as an adjunct professor of  writing and as a journalist for a local newspaper.  their two sons robbie and eli did their best to make me feel like an honored guest. . . and as someone sort of cool.  or at least not embarrassingly uncool.  robbie is in marching band.  eli is graduating eighth grade in a week,

bruce and jane met when they both sang in a methodist church choir.  they are comfortably suited to each other as they approach their twenty second anniversary.  religion is an important part of their lives–we sat down to dinner and opened with a simple, but familiar prayer of thanksgiving. God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food, amen.

i told the nesmiths about my experience with the nascent tornado.  they weren’t quite as impressed as i was.  i think you have to be pretty tough to be from iowa.  but i think bruce nesmith has created for himself the perfect, perfect life!

Video 27

Video 27

i left the nesmiths after a tour of coe college and continued west. . .

This entry was posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2011 at 12:06

this is not my private idaho (id) but it IS iowa (ia)

i like that french existentialists came from france.  because all the space, the nothingness, of america would freak jean-paul sartre and his posse of intellectuals.  there’s just way more of that nothingness here than in france.  driving along i-80 across iowa and into nebraska, i was aware of the nothingness but also of the being. . .check out the windmills–

windmills were planted earlier this year


for hundreds of miles there are windmill farms.

this tractor is ready to harvest windmills. . .

coming out of cedar rapids, i headed for council bluffs because according to my trusty spreadsheet rodger gerberding (f2fb #131) lives in idaho.  the two letter postal code for idaho is id) i was really excited because in messaging each other i understood he would be in council bluffs iowa for one day.  in iowa (postal code ia).  i didn’t know that i had screwed up on the spreadsheet.  it’s ia not id.  still, i got to see rodger.  i was  a little nervous because rodger and i have only one mutual friend, my father justin (f2fb #30).  rodger was a friend of my grandfather fritz leiber (as well as a fan of fritz’s work).

rodger is an actor, writer, artist. . . and he had a wonderful story to share:

robert ger

robert ger

i left rodger and blew into omaha, nebraska.  across the street from the hotel was a riverboat casino.  i thought women in evening gowns, gentlemen in tuxedos, an atmosphere of glamor, intrigue. . . . i did what any gal would do–i spritzed the angel perfume, put on a little black dress, pulled the bright red lucite heels from the back of the car and headed over there.

only to discover row upon row of slot machines.  with galpals in sweatpants and “world’s greatest grandma” t-shirts.  dudes sporting polo shirts tucked in and hearing aids firmly in place.  i looked like an underage hooker and i did get my share of attention from the security staff.  i sure hope las vegas is more uplifting. . . .

and tomorrow, onward to blue springs to have a facebook visit with a label executive.  do you think i’m too old for to put out an album?

in order to be a star, i let a label executive touch my stomach

it’s everybody’s dream to be a star and i’ve heard about that whole “casting couch” thing.  but this guy, john hill, f2fb #132, just wanted to touch my stomach.  with his wife watching.  so weird.

john is an independent music label executive, focusing mostly on artist development. he’s worked with some of my facebook friends, such as vince p. (#57), mc kato (#49), carla kosak (#127), richard “mop” furniss (#53) and reggie gholston (#32).  he’s also worked with many grammy winning stars and has an impressive collection of awards for his own book shelves.

john had just come back from a humanitarian mission to haiti and was swamped with work, but he made time for me at the home he shares with his wife christie and their two children.  i had driven four hours from council bluffs and was very ready for my audition.  john said i had to learn to breathe first before i could learn to sing. christie said she’d be happy to tape the whole thing.

i’m not an opera singer!

i’m not an opera singer!

john was originally trained in opera which makes him able to spot talent in others–he knows a good voice.  he was polite–he is that unfailingly–but i don’t think i’m getting a recording conract.  it’s because my stomach is, well, i haven’t got abs like john hill.  he tried again to show me how singing works.

john sings!

john sings!

john and christie met when john was touring with r. kelly.  john doesn’t want to tour while his children are young.  his greatest joy is being a father and that joy has allowed him to better appreciate his own parents.

“your parents mold who you are, whether they’re there or not,”  john says.  “i grew up in a cosby family.  my dad was a chef, so if you’re hungry get ready!  and my mom works at a drop out recovery center for chicago public schools.  we came out here because my wife’s family is here but we came to enjoy the simple life.”  here’s a poem he wrote for his father.

a poem about john’s father

a poem about john’s father

i had such a wonderful time and i realized that the way schedules work, i would never have gotten a chance to see john and christie–or to try out for that recording contract–without this project!  take a look at your friends list.  is there somebody you haven’t seen in forever?

christie is expecting their third child in october

f2fb #133 uncovers my essential nature

i have been followed by tornadoes through illinois, iowa, into nebraska and looping through missouri.  and everybody’s a little jumpy in tornado alley because joplin is just an hour away from kearney where i have landed.  but i figured that no tornado would find me because the town–although well respected as the birthplace and the final burial ground of jesse james (not a facebook friend of mine)–it is also a very small town.  once you get away from the macdonald’s, burger king, pilot and mobile gas stations that cling to highway 35, kearney’s business district is little more than one intersection–washington and jefferson.  i was there yesterday afternoon, having lunch at fat boy’s before i would go to my facebook friend #133 darrell’s barber shop and beauty salon.  suddenly, all the patrons and the owner were standing out back on the porch.  a tornado had touched down in eastern kearney, which is to say half a mile away.

tornado

tornado

the owner of fat boy’s graciously ordered up everybody a drink.  across the street, at city hall, people headed for the basement.  we had the beer cooler.  i think i chose my safety zone very wisely.

once the sirens stopped, i got a call from darrell who had been hunkering down at his house not far from the salon.  he was in the mood to do some major changes on me.

after all, i had never had my hair professionally colored.

“i can tell,”  darrell said cheerfully.

i cut my own hair, have for the past four years.

“i can tell,”  darrell repeated.

i don’t use straighteners, blow dryers, curling irons, hair spray, deep conditioning masks, or extensions.

“i can tell,”  darrell sighed.

makeover b4

makeover b4

darrell is more than a hair artist.  he holds a community together.  and not just because he recently instituted a policy that unemployed people can get their haircuts for free.  no, no, he does more.  people come in to get themselves made over but they also come in to chat and to hear the news of the town.  darrell is also one of the founders of the historical society of kearney, which is how i met him:  i wrote a history of kearney.  much of the previous histories of kearney have focused on jesse james and the town struggles to create an identity outside of that long shadow.  in believing that history is always being written, we are in agreement.  when darrell spent two hours devoted to the transformation of arlynn, we agreed that i should keep my eyes closed.

makeover after

makeover after

“i’m a redhead!”  i squealed.

“yes, because that’s your personality,”  darrell said.

i think i look so good that i’m never washing my hair again.  just kidding, darrell!  darrell promised to hit me up when he next comes to chicago.  he loves to go to a particular orchid store in villa park and he wants to see the planetarium and the field museum.  i said i’d love to host him.  secretly,  i want him to keep taking care of my hair.

when a town is as small as kearney, it’s easy to believe that the quality of artistic endeavors will be lesser than that of something coming out of new york, los angeles, london or paris.  in derrell’s case, that’s utterly untrue.  he has trained with many of the most sophisticated stylists.  he is familiar with trends i read about in vogue just that morning.  he’s an artist whose medium is hair because of the quirk of family–he had a wife and a son (born blind) to support and his father in law was a barber willing to sell the family shop.  darrell heard opportunity knocking but he has lived his life in such a way that opportunity knows how lucky it was to be invited in.

you can friend darrell through the facebook identity haircut salons–and if you mention this blog, tell darrell you want fifteen percent off your next visit!

it’s okay that i lost all my money in the real estate market. ..

melinda morgan (f2fb friend 134) will help me get back on my feet with her sound financial wisdom.

she could make money off her looks, but melinda’s rejected modeling contracts from kansas city and new york.  she could quit her job at gino’s restaurant in kearney, missouri where i first met her–but she was there this afternoon waiting to see me before her shift starts.

melinda has a packed schedule of work, going to college, and trying to find time to spend with zack, her boyfriend of four years.  i noticed the promise ring on the finger.  i think the word “fiance” is just heavenly!

she asked me how i was doing and i said that the two boys were away, that i was doing this project, and that i was trying to sell my house but i was afraid it wouldn’t yield a price greater than the mortgage outstanding on it.  a lot of people are in my position.  some even worse, with foreclosures at an all time high in this country.

“i don’t believe in mortgages,”  she said.

“you can’t buy a house without a mortgage,”  i replied.

“i already have.”

it’s a small house to be sure.  but melinda saved every tip she ever got at gino’s and she bought a twenty thousand dollar cottage in nearby excelsior springs.  she is putting in a driveway this summer.  and a shed.  she likes fixing up the house, with an eye towards increasing its value.

she plans to sell it in a few years if the market is better and then use the proceeds to buy another house.  if the market is terrible, so what –she stays in her house.  either way, a bank is not the boss of melinda morgan.  i asked her what her major is because not many twenty year olds seem quite so assured of themselves.

“accounting and business administration,”  she said.

“will you be licensed to do tax returns for people by april?”

“yes.”

“meet your first client.”

we shook on that.

a postscript:

yesterday i forgot to credit courtney m who works with darrell at the hair salon.  and a photo credit to emily eldridge.

the meeks shall inherit . . . nashville

as talking head maximilian tam (f2fb #45) says “fame first, money will come, and the women will follow”. . . in the case of the meeks of kearney, missouri they are doing everything they can to elude fame.

matt (f2fb #135) and connie (f2fb #136) met while performing in a country music variety show in st. joseph, missouri more than a dozen years ago.  nashville called them because nashville has one currency–talent.  the meeks packed up, anxious to be stars–and that’s when they found out they were pregnant with their first child.

there are a lot of choices they could have made.  ones that would have resulted in their pictures on the cover of people magazine and their stories on tmz.com.  but they literally turned the car around on i-435 and picked a place to raise a child.

“we didn’t want to bring a child into the world of touring,”  connie explained.

they chose kearney.  or maybe kearney chose them.  and while here, their faith has deepened.  matt, who had turned away from the church, was baptized only a few years ago.  they are in the music ministry of the kearney covenant church.  i remember being at a service more than two years ago when they presented a song they had written.  i asked them to play it for me again.

matt and connie meek

matt and connie meek

i am convinced this song will be a hit on the christian music scene.  and then they had better get themselves a mansion with a pool and invite me over.

“but we don’t want to be famous,”  connie said as she and matt scooted off into the night.

“fame will find you,”  i said.

i receive a laying on of hands and prayers in kearney, missouri

the hottie you dated all four years of school and broke up with and dated and broke up with and it would have kept up like that for the rest of your life if one of you hadn’t graduated and moved to italy.  the roommate who always had someone sleeping over (awkward!) but who came down to the police station to bail you out for that unfortunate incident and so you didn’t have to tell your parents.  everybody from your soccer team, the choir, the band you started in the basement of the hardware store.  you knew their names, their favorite beer, and whether it was wise to copy their homework.  before facebook, these people disappeared until the tenth reunion and then it was a competition as to who was fatter and who had a better job.*

some people you went to school with are now part of your friends list but they aren’t the same people you would have put on the friends list at the time.

i’m not sure which one made the friendship request but mike coglan (f2fb #137) and i were in the same graduating class at north central college.  the entire student body was less than a thousand so i figured i had to know him. i was pretty sure he was the dude who sat behind me in economics for three semesters.  on facebook, we exchanged a few stories of the good old days, compared notes on what we had been doing for the past twenty five years–mike is a minister in kearney, missouri and i raise my sons and write books in winnetka, illinois–and then we got down to business–

online scrabble.  i’m addicted.  mike’s better than me.

at one point, mike mentioned that the economy was heading south, fast, in kearney.  a lot of his parishioners were hurting.  i suggested help in the only way i know how–what if i wrote an arcadia publishing company history of kearney and mike’s congregation sold the books as a fundraiser?

three short weeks later, i drove eight hours to kearney with my assistant f2fb #20 charlie seymour.   at kearney’s rotary club i spoke about the book and about how i was looking for help from the community to find old photographs, documents, papers that would help me develop a complete picture of the town.  charlie sat in the back taking notes and leaned over to mike.

“what was arlynn like when you two were in college?”  charlie asked.

“i have no idea,”  mike said.  “i don’t remember her at all.”

i was ready to pack my bags that night!  we finished the book**.

the friends from school i have as facebook friends are
the same tight homies i had when i was in schoolmy bff is still missingi have no idea who some of these people are

mike and his family opened themselves up to me.  mike and i still play scrabble.  he also talks to me about his relationship with God and my relationship with God.  if someone were to ask me where i go to church i would most likely say that my congregation is the kearney covenant church and that i don’t go to services often, which is to say i have only been once.

but mike and his wife laura (f2fb #138) prayed and talked with me one morning this week.  laura asked me to consider how i would feel if one of my children–joseph or eastman–came to me and said “i want your love, i have you say you love me, but i feel i am unworthy of your love”.   wouldn’t i feel such pain for them?  when i thought about that, i started to cry and so did she.  mike made himself busy with finding tissue paper and said that under no circumstances was he crying too.  God’s love is a gift and it hurts Him to have someone not think themselves worthy of taking it.  thi

laura, me and mike coglan


as i got ready to leave the coglans, the entire family–mike, laura, ian, and brenna–had me sit down.  each of them put their hands on me and each of them made an individual prayer for my safety, health, happiness, and progress on this year’s journey.  four distinct prayers that i might be BOLD and unafraid.  that i would take the chances i have spent so many years being afraid to take.  and they asked for God’s PROTECTION that i might be safe and confident of my safety.

when i got into the car i felt transformed.  and i had only one last thing to finish up in kearney before i could clear out–i had to get deputized by the fire chief.  after all, i have a lot of talents to offer this town!

*romy and michele’s high school reunion is such a great movie!  i think i have to get it on netflix right now!

**http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=9780738578095

this man has a certain charm . . . on my bracelet

downtown kearney, missouri–the odd fellows building named for the tradesman’s union

if your house catches on fire, i’m sure it will be of great comfort to know that i am a first responder.  . . . if you live in kearney, missouri, that is.  fire chief larry e. pratt swore me in just before i cleared out of town–taking my tornadoes and thunderstorms with me to illinois.

the swearing in of kearney’s newest volunteer firefighter

the swearing in of kearney’s newest volunteer firefighter

larry pratt has devoted his entire life to service in kearney.  his father before him and his sons after him have been part of the police and fire departments–and larry is a keen preserver of kearney history.  i wrote a history of kearney and larry made my job so much easier that my able assistant made a charm out of a picture of me and larry at the firehouse.

one of the forty four charms is of me and larry working on the book about kearney’s history

i leave kearney realizing that i have yet to meet a rude person while there.  i mean, there’s a lot of cities, i won’t name any except for one that goes by the initials of new york, where you can easily find someone who will cut you off in traffic, tell you to commit abominable acts upon your own person, or budge ahead in line at the deli–but you can’t find those people in kearney.  that’s what i love about the place.  i think kearney is what i would like for my family or as my home.

i just have to work on that teleportation system so i can be a first responder!

sandra bullock’s doppelganger

sandra bullock gets asked at least twice a day “does anybody tell you that you look like arlynn presser?”  she must be very flattered.  stammers.  maybe gets hives.  i get the same thing just people asking me about her.  we’re similar to the eye, although possibly also to the ear:  i’ve been told that my laugh ends with a particular nasal sound that .  . . oh, just go to netflix and get miss congeniality and you’ll see what i mean!  we’re twins.  in a way.

i once was in an airport and signed an autograph because i was baffled.

but i met my psychological twin last night when i had dinner with ben gonzalez (f2fb #140) and marissa durbin (f2fb #141).  we were outside in their backyard.  it was as the landscape architect frederick law olmsted imagined american life should be–several different families came out of their houses, sat for a spell, waved as they passed, hung out, checked their cell phones.  okay, maybe that last part was not olmsted’s vision. marissa and ben have an adorable seventeen month old desmond who is the playboy attracting admirers.  olmsted must have anticipated desmond.

the next door neighbor came out of her home.  she was wearing green capri pants and a white t-shirt.  i was wearing. . . it must have been a black dress.  but we were still indistinguishable.  she hovered, she chatted, she was so sociable, but when asked to sit down with us, she declined.   disappeared and returned.  when i asked her to sit with me a second or maybe a third time, she said “i can’t.  i’m very antisocial.  i have agoraphobia.”

i asked her about her anxiety attacks, which roughly track mine–meaning that she can negotiate zones of safety and outside of that, it’s too terrifying.  she has recently lost her job (a safe zone) and her home (the safest zone) is being foreclosed upon.  she has sent her sons away in the hope that if they aren’t living in the house, the bank will not go after them.  she had her first anxiety attack on the block near her home just a few days ago.  there is a closing in of the boundaries just as the “safe” zone is going to be taken away from her. and her sons–whom she is trying to protect–are not there to help her.

i wanted to say “come with me!” i have laid out a track of junkets–i’m off to california on sunday whether i like it or not!  i’m in ohio the week after.  new york, rhode island, boston. . . i have two friends in alaska and damnit i have a friend in hawaii who is moving to turkey (no slur on turkey)

i will assume i am having a near death experience every step of the way just like my twin has just found out that she will have every time she goes to the bus stop on her block.

i have tried everything to stop panic attacks.  therapy.  every prescription drug.  some nonprescription drugs.  acupuncture.  hypnosis.  alcohol. meditation.  prayer. nothing has worked.  but this year i’ve done things i never would have thought possible.

flying on a plane.  being in a different country.  boxing with a ukrainian middleweight.  driving a car in that direction.  and the other direction.  popping open a champagne bottle with a sabre sword.  watching a funnel cloud form over my head.  seeing people i would never get a chance to see if i stayed in my house and bought the requisite seventeen cats that being my age requires.

but i couldn’t say “come with me!” to ben and marissa’s neighbor, my twin in the green capri pants.  because i’m not even quite halfway there.  i may fail.  i think odds are i will.

so she said i have to go back home, i have facebook, i have other sites, my back aches from being in front of the computer, and i said “pleasure meeting you” and what i want to say is “at the end of the year i will come back for you”

the real focus was marissa and ben.  i met ben initially because his uncle–a renown photographer and author–did my portrait four years ago.  i happened to be nude at the time.  i love the picture although i’m not sure you’d know who it was and you might mistake me for sandra bullock.  ben and marissa were just friends for the longest time and then. . . .

benandmarissa

benandmarissa

i am planning out the california, ohio, new york trip and yeah, i will  be scared.  i am home now.  safe zone.  but the train keeps riding. . . .

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what if i can’t deliver?

i take my fiance wherever i go–mr. clark (f2fb #60)

i spent yesterday acting a little like a chihuahua huddled up under the sofa during the thunderstorm.  the skies were clear, there wasn’t a peep from the heavens, and all was right with the world . . . except for my house.

i had a day long anxiety attack thinking about going to california.  there will be friends–allen, jose, candice, howard, and others.  some people i’ve known for a long time, some i haven’t seen in forever, and some i haven’t ever met.  it will be fun.  it will be crazy.  there will be surprises.

and i’m scared.  i think the hypnosis has worn off. so i will put into place my emergency airplane ritual:

1.  cardio exercise until i am exhausted

2.  meditation

3.  beer

repeat as necessary.

still, there was one person i could see today that would put me to rights:  markie carlson gekas is a toy and gift shop owner i have known for nearly fifteen years.  we shared a lunch outside and talked about our children,  our mutual friends, and our aspirations.  she has a business that has done well, but this economy has taught her that she will not be able to retire.  i shoved away the worries i have about my future. this has been a difficult year for EVERYBODY.

still, i noticed i relaxed enough so that i could come home and pack the bag.  including the lucky flight plan, the fiance, two rosaries, and one evil eye protector.  it’s a wonder i have room for my laptop and a change of clothes.

question is, what happens if i freak and can’t get on the plane?

if i were just ten years younger, this man wouldn’t be safe!

if i were but ten years younger.  and josh were five years older.  or if i were just better at lying about my age.  or if i lied at all about my age.

josh taylor (f2fb #143) is everything a woman wants–bright, sexy, funny, and he knows how t bet on horses.

i ask josh taylor to bet on horses for me

i ask josh taylor to bet on horses for me

i first met josh when he was a student at robert morris university.  one of my plays was being performed for his class and afterwards he asked a lot of intriguing, interesting questions.  which led, inevitably, to being facebook friends.  he travels a lot on business and i’m traveling a lot so we spend more time using technology to keep our friendship going–face to face time is a real treat.

he came with a posse of six and i came with f2fb friend #23 janie gibson.  some people have asked me if i ever see facebook friends again after i initially post about them and the answer is of course yes.  this project has made me realize that facebook is no substitute for really being friends.

one time, josh deactivated his account because he felt he was relying on it too much and also because there were some aspects that were making him feel uncomfortable.  so he called me to say that he was doing that.  a week later he came back to it.  i have a friend joe who deactivated his account because he was deployed into a combat area and the army asks soldiers to erase all their internet fingerprints.

deactivated your account?
sure, when i feel i’m using facebook too muchnever havedid it in order to get my parents to stop snoopingOther:

so josh bet on a sweet horse and i wondered what i would do with my winnings. . .

raspberry jam is going to the glue factory!

raspberry jam is going to the glue factory!

i am not made for horse racing and apparently neither is raspberry jam!

GET. ON. THE. PLANE!!!!!

my safe place in california–

i was intimidated as i approached the gate house:  two other cars had been turned away.  the sign said not only was there to be no trespassing but have your driver’s license ready for inspection.  when it was time for me to pull up, i noticed the guard had a tattoo of a lipstick imprint on the side of her neck.  she took my driver’s license.

“it’s a really bad picture,”  i said.

she handed it back without looking at me.  i don’t think it’s THAT bad of a picture.

i was in calabasas.  rumor has it that way up in the mountains, at the highest tier towards heaven, britney spears has a mansion.  and so does michael jackson’s mom.

i met f2fb #146 candice appleton vaugh at a wedding.  it was the wedding of some people i didn’t know so i was free to make new friends without any reservations or preconceptions.  i immediately liked her and we spent most of the weekend together through rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding receptions, the wedding itself, the reception, the post-wedding breakfast.  she is intelligent without being pedantic, empathic without being intrusive and beautiful without the arrogance that occasionally infects beauty.  after the wedding, she went back to her home in calabasas.  i went back to winnetka.  we were facebook friends who occasionally posted on each other’s walls.  but when was i honestly ever to meet her again?

on this trip to california, i thought maybe i’d get to see britney if i was in calabasas.  but alas, no.  most of the mountain community’s homes are in gated areas and candice’s home is no different.  but it’s no tmz.com, no britney, no neverland.  her house is beautiful but her focus is on raising her two daughters to be polite, well mannered, responsible women.  which candice does by reminding her daughters at every moment that in every situation there are choices.  it is how i tried to raise joseph and eastman.

the family served a dinner of ribs, corn, salad and candice’s homemade cookies.  they have two dogs, one of whom welcomed me by laying on my feet–the other is a recently adopted rescue dog who has a habit of finding lightbulbs and trying to eat them.  after dinner, the girls put on a play for everybody in their playroom.  i was made aware that beauty does not come from the exterior of things, it comes from the conscious choices we make.  as i left the home, the two daughters jordan and mackenzie–dressed as sleeping beauty and tinkerbell respectively, waved their tiny magic wands and blessed my journey.

then i went to my safe place in california, the home where i cannot have anxiety attacks, the place from which i adventure–

i cannot have an anxiety attack in room 212. that would be impossible because it’s a safe place.

then i have to take william clark (f2fb #60) to manhattan beach to meet my facebook friend cathy who is training in reiki, a japanese form of healing.

mr. clark believes sometimes we should stop and hang out, especially at beaches

what kind of people name an airline “spirit”?  are they cheerleaders?  are they members of the school show choir?  do they believe in paranormal activity?

i’m just having the usual anxiety attack in the gate waiting for the los angeles flight.  i’ve done my part–i’ve brought my fiance william clark (f2fb #60), the lucky flight plan, two rosaries, one evil eye medallion, and enough ativan to put down ALL the horses at arlington race track.  but i’m still a little scared.  this is my most ambitious trip–six days in los angeles and san diego.  i am looking forward to the friends.  i even got an invitation from jeff goldblum to watch him play jazz (thank you ann!) but alas i can’t attend this event.  i have a packed schedule. . . but first i have get myself on the plane.

last night,  i went to geoff moore’s birthday bash.  i met geoff (f2fb #144) when he auditioned for a show i was writing and directing–he wouldn’t have been so nervous if he knew that everybody who showed up for the audition was going to have a part!  i’ve never done a show without him.  he is particularly good at being shot to death.

and making hamburgers, apparently.

geoff

geoff

my small goal is to be at friend 168, midway through the list, on july one.  i have a new york trip, new england sprint, an ohio driveby, and then out to alaska–and beyond!

but first,

GET. ON. THE. PLANE

sex tapes, artistes, and st. willebad celebrations!

everything is three hours away from anything else in los angeles, as near as i can tell.  and every self-respecting starlet and congressman has a sex tape or at least a self-portrait on the market, so i stopped in at creative artists agency.  they said i wasn’t a vivid or girls gone wild type.  they said they would try to position me with disney.

the people are so cool about decorating their houses for the holidays.  today is june seventh, st. willibad of wessex day.  here is how some angelenos decorated their house–

look at the st. willibad garlands on this fence!

los angelenos are exuberant artistes and they don’t require a gallery to show their work.  i was standing on the corner of sunset boulevard and silver lake, when i saw two youths creating a mural on the side of a building across the street.  unfortunately, every self-respecting avenue in los angeles has seven lanes in either direction so by the time i crossed, the two artistes had taken their spray paint cans and their ladder.  this is when i observed that everyone here takes their physical exercise seriously.  those dudes were fast!

embedded within this painting was an invitation to join the homeboys

there are a lot of social clubs in los angeles, like the university club and the union league club in chicago.  i think i would like to join the homeboys.

i met with becky hirschmann, who is a winnetka native forging a career as an actress in los angeles.  she used to be in children’s theater with my two sons.  i was amazed at how beautiful and poised she is–but then again, of all the gals i met in children’s theater, i always knew she would have her own television show.  she didn’t know much about my project to meet every one of my facebook friends.  she was surprised i am scared of flying–i didn’t want to alarm her by listing all the other things i’m afraid of.  but she was delighted to find out that she’s f2fb #145 and we bought a tiara to commemorate the occasion:

becky hirschmann

becky hirschmann

i will see becky again when she comes back to winnetka soon, or when i end up back in california (which i will since i have a lot of facebook friends here).  also, if she makes it big, she has promised me a guest house invitation!

then i headed for calabasas to meet my next facebook friend candice appleton vaughn.  calabasas is, as winston churchill opined, a gated community within a gated community within a gated community.  i expected trouble getting past the gates. . . but i had heard that britney spears lives somewhere nearby, so i’m in! and maybe i can get my new homeboys to help me!

my best anxiety attacks i reserve for the san diego expressway, highway 405 and the ventura freeway,  #101.

my safe place in california–

i was intimidated as i approached the gate house:  two other cars had been turned away.  the sign said not only was there to be no trespassing but have your driver’s license ready for inspection.  when it was time for me to pull up, i noticed the guard had a tattoo of a lipstick imprint on the side of her neck.  she took my driver’s license.

“it’s a really bad picture,”  i said.

she handed it back without looking at me.  i don’t think it’s THAT bad of a picture.

i was in calabasas.  rumor has it that way up in the mountains, at the highest tier towards heaven, britney spears has a mansion.  and so does michael jackson’s mom.

i met f2fb #146 candice appleton vaugh at a wedding.  it was the wedding of some people i didn’t know so i was free to make new friends without any reservations or preconceptions.  i immediately liked her and we spent most of the weekend together through rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding receptions, the wedding itself, the reception, the post-wedding breakfast.  she is intelligent without being pedantic, empathic without being intrusive and beautiful without the arrogance that occasionally infects beauty.  after the wedding, she went back to her home in calabasas.  i went back to winnetka.  we were facebook friends who occasionally posted on each other’s walls.  but when was i honestly ever to meet her again?

on this trip to california, i thought maybe i’d get to see britney if i was in calabasas.  but alas, no.  most of the mountain community’s homes are in gated areas and candice’s home is no different.  but it’s no tmz.com, no britney, no neverland.  her house is beautiful but her focus is on raising her two daughters to be polite, well mannered, responsible women.  which candice does by reminding her daughters at every moment that in every situation there are choices.  it is how i tried to raise joseph and eastman.

the family served a dinner of ribs, corn, salad and candice’s homemade cookies.  they have two dogs, one of whom welcomed me by laying on my feet–the other is a recently adopted rescue dog who has a habit of finding lightbulbs and trying to eat them.  after dinner, the girls put on a play for everybody in their playroom.  i was made aware that beauty does not come from the exterior of things, it comes from the conscious choices we make.  as i left the home, the two daughters jordan and mackenzie–dressed as sleeping beauty and tinkerbell respectively, waved their tiny magic wands and blessed my journey.

then i went to my safe place in california, the home where i cannot have anxiety attacks, the place from which i adventure–

i cannot have an anxiety attack in room 212. that would be impossible because it’s a safe place.

then i have to take william clark (f2fb #60) to manhattan beach to meet my facebook friend cathy who is training in reiki, a japanese form of healing.

mr. clark believes sometimes we should stop and hang out, especially at beaches

cathy mccormick (147) and jose rios (148) have never met but . . .

i have phobias which developed yesterday at the hand of f2fb friend #148 jose rios who took me to hike outside of los angeles.  we walked–los angelenos use their cars so much i was surprised at his bipedalism–to the top of a ridge at the topanga state park and met six hikers.  the hikers were nervous about continuing through a field because of bees.  the california park service had very helpfully put up a notice that the alternative route was where the mountain lions lived.

which would you rather?
mountain lionskiller beesgo back home

leaving the hikers, we walked through a field of tall grasses with our arms up over our heads–the bees like vuvuzelahs at a south african soccer field.  they got in my hair and in my eyes.  i regretted angel perfume.  i wondered if i could call dr. stern back in chicago and have an epipen airlifted in.  new phobia:  apiphobia!

we then ended up on a ridge overlooking the palisades canyons. fear of falling off a cliff–or perhaps just straightforward fear of heights–acrophobia.

jose standing on the ridge without falling over which is what i would do!

i thought “what a nice view, what a nice walk, do we have to go back through the bees?”  but no, there was more.  we continued down into a forest and when he pointed out a lizard resting on a branch, i realized there could be snakes (ophidiophobia).  then we followed a rocky stream (potomaphobia, but only because i was worried i was going to fall on the rocks).  then we found a cave.

Video 48

Video 48

in the cave, there were two notebooks that people had written in.  some of the stuff was quite personal.  really, annie l., do we need to know how you lost your virginity?

still, i thought “nice cave, time to go home, maybe go to starbucks, didn’t i see one along the way?”

but we were just starting.  there was a climb up the face of a mountain and a couple of times i lost my footing.  i definitely lost my memory of latin so we’ll go with the english versions:  fear of slipping on rocks, fear of falling off a cliff, fear of the manson family who killed sharon tate in this same area, fear of other mass murderers, fear of mosquitoes bearing dengue fever, fear of poison oak and poison ivy, fear of that weird thing that turned out to just be a stick.

the night before, i had been with f2fb friend #147 cathy mccormick–she’s a transplanted winnetkan who now lives in manhattan beach.  she is training as a master reiki spiritual healer.  she’s applied to the university of santa monica to work on her master’s in spiritual psychology.  she is also associated with the ten mary’s, a group of evolved women who come together to network about healing and other arts.  cathy wants to work with empowering midlife women, particularly those in abusive marriages such as she endured.

at the end of dinner, cathy walked with me out onto the beach and she put her hands on either side of my head and used her energy to heal and empower me.  i felt sort of like we were flying together, but that might have been because i had taken my shoes off and i was sinking in the sand.  also, i had had three sierra nevada pale ales with dinner.

but when jose said our little two hour constitutional was a preamble to the hard part, i really wanted to believe that cathy’s healing powers were going to work.  i would be bold.  i followed jose up into a narrow passage where we crablegged over to another ridge and then . . .

i asked jose for an adventure and he delivered!

coming back, i did slip and almost fell backwards into a gorge.  but otherwise, i was feeling great.  the bees rose up in a cloud to greet me.  we came back up to where the dithering hikers had dithered.  that’s when i noticed that the mountain lion signage didn’t specify a choice:  the mountain lions were everywhere but hey, that was just part of the scenery!

jose is an artist and filmmaker.  he worked on three films with eastman–he and i hadn’t seen each other in nearly six years.  he makes some of his artwork with things he finds as he hikes.

i love the ants made out of fallen tree seeds
i don’t think he made this venus de milo from things he found in nature

jose was once romantically involved with another facebook friend jen messer who lives in los angeles but is now in chicago.  and when i’m in chicago she’s in los angeles.  i’m starting to develop a complex.  cathy was and may still be romantically involved with f2fb friend #3 mike castagna.  although jose and cathy have never met, i believe they worked together to make this incredible adventure!  for a while, as a very dirty sweaty tired me headed back for the safety of my redondo beach motel, i thought “i can do anything!”

except deal with the 405 or pacific highway traffic!

when i am afraid this is where i want to go since i know i can’t get home–but i leave now for san diego!

a facebook friend’s life changes when the bishop sets fire to his store

i had started to think of my little corner of redondo beach as home.  one room, free wi fi, maid service every other day.  a couple of times i considered cancelling whatever i was scheduled to do and just watching television all day.  it was the sort of motel that catered to people who d0 that.

instead of hiding i got on the the 5.  since everything is three hours from everything else in los angeles, it wasn’t that much of a change in the schedule of driving, stopping at a starbucks and driving some more. but i was giving up a safe space (redondo) without yet reaching another safe place.

the gap for someone like me is important.  it’s the space where anxiety attacks happen.  and i had a pretty major one just outside of camp pendleton.

but i was meeting howard smith.  f2fb #149.  but he’s more than just a facebook friend.  he’s someone i really admire.  he grew up in lexington, kentucky and moved to winnetka just after college graduate, taking a job at the “trouping the colors” clothing store, and freely told everybody that the only other job he had ever had was as a lifeguard.  when the owner retired, howard stepped up and became sole proprietor.  he was head of the chamber of commerce, of the rotary club, the unofficial mayor of the town, and then the bishop of the episcopal church of san diego set fire to his store.

the store was gutted.  everything that howard found safe and reassuring, the basis of his life, was gone.  for a while, howard had no idea what to do.  he had never imagined a life without fabric swatches, tape measures and silk ties rolled and placed just so on the round table at the center of his shop.

he and his wife felt a little lost.  they worried about how to send their two children to school, how to put aside for retirement, how to rebuild.

howard did something brave–he asked every friend he had to come up with five names.  not five names of people who were looking to hire someone or looking to invest in a retail business.  just five names of people who would go to lunch with him.  and talk about what they do.  howard was a promiscuous lunch partner and was thinking about what he really wanted to do.  he was even thinking about where he wanted to live–he had been across the mississippi exactly three times but now everything was on the table. . . .

he was like me, in the in between, on the road from redondo beach to san diego.

howard

howard

howard is now a development director for the episcopal archdiocese of san diego.  he and his wife love their new home.  and the thing he reminds me is. . . be grateful, be brave, accept that you’re going to be surprised by life.

and the bishop of the episcopal church of san diego?  well, he didn’t actually set fire to howard’s store (the cause of the blaze is pure accident) but the bishop, and indeed the entire diocese, is the happy beneficiary of those flames. . .

manifesting greatness and living the dream–that’s california!

i returned to los angeles to meet f2fb friend #150 branden blinn.  he’s a part-time editor of sexually progressive movies, director of five short films that focus on romance between men, and he is a follower of the secret.  i wasn’t surprised to learn the last fact about him–the secret is a fairly common subject in conversation with any los angeleno.  the local weather reporters use the laws of attraction to explain their forecasts and every new mom asks her progeny to create the lives that they dream–and they’d better be dreaming about sharing with their little brother.

branden met me at basix in hollywood (yes, i made it to hollywood!)  we talked about branden’s charmed life.  he was married to an heiress to the breck line of shampoos and hair care products and yet he walked away because that wasn’t his dream.  he became a filmmaker and he has started a business helping others achieve personal mastery incorporating some tools from the secret and others that he has discovered on his own.  there are eleven laws of attraction in the secret.  branden also has discovered five further actions that must be used to achieve personal mastery.  as well as a scale of determining one’s authority.  his company is called ACACEA which stands for authentic conscious awareness catalyzes exemplary activity.

my life is so disorganized.  my anxiety attacks can put a halt on any of the best laid plans.  when i have heard people say the stuff from the secret about “like attracts like” i start thinking about magnets.  i’m not a good candidate for this stuff.  but  based on my birthday of july 23, 1960 and the fact that it was in chicago, branden was able to tell me that my authority is FEELING.  which means i should act on what “feels” right.  he also said i could benefit from manifesting greatness, which is the program ACACEA offers.

the program costs $699 retail.  but i can also purchase it for $595 plus an additional $49/month.  at that second price point, i get that necessary month to month boost in the form of phone calls and encouragement.  PLUS i receive $199 for every person i influence and bring into the program (with a portion of the $49 per month they’re paying as well).  so after influencing three people to join this program, my start up costs would be completely covered.  plus i would have the resources to turn my life around.  then if those people i influence go on to influence others, i would receive compensation.  he sent me home with a pamphlet about the program and he also sent me home with the business plan for the next stage in his movie producing career–ondemand movies.  he is living the dream he wanted–to be a filmmaker. his films promise “movies for men attracted to men and that 80% somewhere in between”.

i couldn’t ask branden to tell me everything about the manifesting greatness program since that’s how he makes his money, but i asked for one thing–what is ONE THING i could do now that would start me on the road to personal mastery even before i started the program officially.  he said i should write down five things i am grateful for every day.  i am starting the list right now, thinking it through carefully, and then i’ll post my first day’s efforts later today or tomorrow.

branden

branden

i met branden when he cast my son eastman in the movie “everasking” which has yet to receive financing to be filmed.  alas, eastman is already too old for the part he was cast in.  branden nonetheless asked me to say hello to eastman.  and then branden said a cheery goodbye to me.  my california trip is nearly done and i have a five point piece of homework to do.

you can find branden’s program at acacea.com and you can look at his movies at tbbmgondemand.com and if you are considering investing in his movies you can contact him at thebbmediagroup@g.mail.

reasons to be grateful. . . part one

my friends on facebook as of new years eve:  324

new friends who said “one more facebook friend isn’t going to kill you”:  11

friends i will visit: unlimited but first the 335

friends i have today: 1605 (i visit the new years friends now and if i have time left over before new years 2012 i will visit them or  if they are available in a city where original facebook friends reside)

my weight (as of 2011 new years eve): 138

new years eve resolution 2010:  lose five pounds, stop drinking, be more organized, be nicer to my neighbor mr. radnor

success rate on 2010 new years resolution:  gained two pounds, drank like a fish, please don’t audit me because i have no idea where those receipts are, and mr. radnor i just can’t warm up to.  ever.

new years eve resolution 2011:  meet every facebook friend. . . .

friends i’ve seen so far this year:  151

friends so far who are relatives:  4–friends #1 eastman, #30 justin, #31 casey, #61 joseph

friends so far i had never met before:  #95 nipper castino, #102 1/2 rachel li, #110 jeff barnes, #131 rodger gerberding

tornadoes i have been exposed to:  4–one outside raleigh, north carolina, one outside cedar rapids, iowa, one outside blue springs, missouri, and another in kearney, missouri

percentage of friends who have been in a twelve step program, should be in a twelve step program or who have a spouse in a twelve step program:  50%

percentage who have asked that such a thing be kept secret:  0%

friends who have told me their license sticker has expired:  1

friends who have told me their license sticker has expired and they want that to be kept secret:  1

friends who have told me their spouse has committed an act of infidelity:  14

friends who have specifically asked me to include comments about that act in my blog:  5

new skills i have acquired:  can open a champagne bottle with a saber sword (thank you #24 gretchen), break a board with my hand (thank you #87 ron), a perfect squat (thank you #14 chris), troll fishing (thank you #111 lon)

skills that will elude me forever:  boxing (#90 sally, i’m sorry i get so scared in the ring), zumba (#92 jo caylor, you knew that was going to happen), and opera singing (#132 john hill)

friends who turned out to be an alternative identity for someone else: #49 mc kato (really winston chang), #54 IndaLoop (actually richard “mop” furniss, #74 stu fast (actually steve quick), #60 william clark (actually lanny jones, his biographer)

friends who wanted totally anonymity:  one, mr. 88

friends who freaked out after they saw me:  one, miss 116

my weight as of today:  142

my last visit before i left los angeles was to allen and sarah colombo.  i asked them, as they opened the door, if they were familiar with the secret.  they were.  but instead of an evening of thinkng or talking about that inspiration, we had champagne, steak, veggies, gossip, music, bright lights.

i believe that allen and his wife sarah are some people i could call if i accidentally ended up in jail.  if they didn’t have bail money at least they’d bring me sandwiches.  and here i am at the end of a wonderful evening with them. . .

allan

allan

friends i still must see: 174

weight i must lose:  2

again, i am friends with nonhuman!

you are not actually “of Winnetka” until you have lived within its borders, preferably on the east side of the railroad tracks, for a generation or more.  my mere twenty years here is just that–mere.

i was pregnant with my second son eastman (f2fb #1) and i shepherded my firstborn joseph (f2fb #61) around a town of tudor architecture and new england sensibilities. in the window of the photography store was a display of pictures of their shopping bag on its travels.  you see, the shopping bag went to paris, went to london, stopped along the chinese wall, climbed killimanjaro, and sent back pictures.  winnetka residents announcing their summer vacations with a bit of panache.

one man even put together a book. .

the store thrives, despite the changes in what it means to take pictures.  i do everything with my cell phone and a flip camera.  the flip has gone from cutting to obsolescence in the space of a year.  still, the skalski family which owns phototronics works with every technology, holding the hand of every winnetkan who says “i don’t know how to make this picture come out of my camera and land in my email account”  peter skalski gave me a bunch of phototronic shopping bags to pose along my travels. . . .

i am facebook friends with phototronics (f2fb #152), one of several non-human friends.  i did not ask phototronics out for lunch yesterday, but i did take f2fb #12 andrew pearce because he wanted to look at a particular camera.  andrew is from bloomington, indiana and drove up so that he could plot out with me the second half of this facebook journey. . . .that was an entire anxiety attack all on its own!

i have a trip out to the northwest, two more trips to the northeast and again to california (where i hope to meet with brian brethauer because brian sure lives the furthest away from anybody i know).  i have the southern states–samuel scruggs, jonathan boyd, dale morgan–whom i missed because of the disaster in tallahassee.  and i have alaska and the rest of the world (except for mexico city which is well in pocket).

i am humbled to be fifty years old and have all the help i have been given. . . but then there’s f2fb #153 who reminds me that we are all just teenagers inside!

the last piece of advice. . .

this past september i had to say goodbye to my youngest son eastman as he went to college.  i wanted to give him some advice, all the things i had been meaning to say before but never found the time:

1.  strippers who tell you that they’re just doing this to put themselves through medical school are lying.  and no, they don’t really really really like you.

2.  start saving now for retirement because there’s not going to be anything left in social security when you’re old.

3.  your tax return is just your opening offer.

4.  tequila is a source of misery.

my friend mitch (f2fb #153) and i have watched our kids grow up together and we’ve occasionally served on boards of schools and clubs our kids have been involved with.  one year, we dug posts together to construct the children’s fair in winnetka.

this coming year, mitch’s son ryan will leave for oregon and so mitch took him on a bike ride.  just a regular father son bonding experience of 55 days, 3555 miles across the united states.  i think he probably got more advice time in.

we took a short bike ride today to chicago’s botanic gardens.  mitch worked there as a teenager, helping to build it.  we talked about how our sons have the task now of creating and acquiring, while we have something different to accomplish–to hang onto what we’ve got.

that’s been extra hard for people this year.

Video 48

Video 48

the worst time to have a heart attack

the wrong time to have a heart attack is right after the doctor has left the car.  i mean, woo was in my mini–i had just dropped her off–she’s a doctor, she has her own clinic and in fact, when i picked her up at that same clinic, i believe she put a stethoscope in her purse–so she could perform cpr on me.  she might even have a scalpel and she could cut open my chest and reach in and squeeze my heart back into working order.

instead, i ended up in the parking lot across from the emergency room entrance at evanston hospital.  popping two ativan.  drinking vitamin water zero.  taking my pulse with the stopwatch app on my phone.  and wondering do i go in or not?

nobody does sarcasm better than an emergency room nurse who knows damn well you’re not having a heart attack when you know damn well you are.

i had been having a nice afternoon visit with dr. louise berner-holmberg, whom most people know as “woo”.  woo is fifty, like me, and has decided to do what she really wants with her life–which is to open a medical clinic for poor people.  a free clinic in a heavily hispanic neighborhood between my house and wisconsin.  a free clinic?  she could perform cpr on me and all i’d be obligated to do is send her flowers and a thank you note afterwards.

dr. louise berner-holmberg

dr. louise berner-holmberg

woo has treated this clinic with the same care as a great work of art.  for instance, the lobby is very comfortable and clean–she thinks of it as an insult to patients to make them wait in a scruffy area.  she has a tiny door built into one wall of the lobby so that kids can access a play area of the joint and spine rehabilitation clinic next door to hers.  woo even has medical charts where patients can see them–it is of great comfort to see lots of medical charts even if they are full of blank printing paper.

woo, like most other doctors these days, keeps medical records on her computer. therefore, these charts are not necessary but they look all efficient!

she has examining rooms decorated with pictures made by her children, or in this case, a framed hermes scarf.  tres chic!

is it wrong that i would lust after the hermes scarf?

she works seven days a week at the fenix clinic and has enlisted many volunteers in her effort to provide medical care to those who are uninsured and without resources.  she draws no salary, though she isn’t opposed to the idea of a paycheck.  i admire what she’s doing and as i drove her to her meeting to plan a fundraiser for next weekend, we talked about how lucky we are to do something bold and something quite scary and outsized for our fiftieth year.

every night woo worries about whether this cilnic is going to stay afloat. look at all the paperwork! i worry every day whether this project will stay afloat.

we hugged.  we said “see you next week at the fundraiser” and then i drove away with a funny pain in my chest that got worse.  and then came the little fear.  and the bigger one.  i drove directly to the parking lot of evanston hospital.

i’ve done this before.  i’m close enough that if it gets any worse i can go inside but not so close that the security guard starts thinking that i’m a stalker.  which i decide i won’t today.  i think the ativan are working.  i come home and i am writing at the dining room table. feeling very sheepish.  and not at all like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

i am definitely going to woo’s party at fenix on friday the twenty fourth from five thirty to eight p.m. it’s at 130 washington avenue in highwood.  for more information about her incredible work, go to fenixclinic.org


THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT A F2FB ENCOUNTER SHOULD BE!!!!!!

i didn’t know f2fb # patrick nugent very well.  he was a suit, somebody who came to meetings with his colleague f2fb #37 steve rahn at the institute for continuing legal education.  they could also be referred to as “we teach lawyers stuff they didn’t get in law school”.  i had, with a partner todd parkhurst, started a company called perfectly legal productions.  we could have referred to ourselves as “people who want to put on plays about lawyers and maybe teach them something” .   . . . match made in heaven.  but in business, you wear a suit, you wear a poker face, you act professional.  i never knew steve rahn had lost his son in a bike accident.  i never knew patrick was a fun guy.  i just knew we did business.

and i didn’t know how very perspicacious patrick is.  he had read the blogs and had a pretty good idea of who i am.

he wanted to interview me for iicle’s television station–it’s a youtube channel IICLEtv.  did he warn me?  of course not, because he knew i’d get hives, come up with a great excuse to cancel, or i’d end up being so overwrought that i’d freeze on camera.  instead, he told me to wear comfortable shoes (totally putting me off the track) and when i walked into the iicle offices, the receptionist knew who i was and was ushering me into a conference room.  less than thirty seconds later, microphones in place, i was playing like i was a guest on THE VIEW.  no fears, not a moment for panic, didn’t even think about where my inhaler and my ativan were.

and then he had another surprise.  every person who lives in a city underutilizes the best they’ve got.  how many new yorkers go up to the observation deck of the empire state?  how many los angelenos go to the getty museum?  and me?  i’ve never been on this damn thing:

patrick nugent

patrick nugent

and then we went to the rooftop restaurant of the wit hotel.  twenty eight floors up.  patrick knows damn well i’m scared of heights.  it’s just one of the panoply of fears.  but since i had no warning i could only marvel:

it was early but the empty tables were reserved so alas, we didn’t get to stay!

then onward to the trump tower where we were joined by mike nowak who works at iicle and hosts his own gardening show on public radio.  mike and patrick first met when they had a theater company together in chicago.  mike is still hoping to produce a play he’s written about dummy hoy, the first deaf player in major league baseball.

the trump has lots and lots of staff members who are far too cool for me–but they lowered their standards and let us sit down.

patrick has a bet with his wife that he can visit every rooftop restaurant and bar in the city this summer. i believe he is as determined as i am to complete my f2fb project!

the afternoon was so wonderful that i got a weird flutter in my chest.  not a heart attack.  not a panic attack.  but the flutter one gets as one is about to get teary eyed with gratitude.  this morning i had woke up thinking “i’m having lunch with a suit”  — but when i said goodbye to mike and patrick, i realized i was saying goodbye to friends!


chris treiber introduces me to his first love

some facebook friends are just that–facebook friends.  some are people you’re close to emotionally and you keep in touch with videos and pictures and snappy movie quotations.  but some facebook friends are with you every day. . .

i see chris treiber every day.  he works in winnetka at the community house where i lift weights and run on the treadmill.  the weight room is in the lower level and i have a brief anxiety attack about going down into the basement to lift.  that has never left me and i’m not sure why.  so i only lift weights a few times a week.

chris has to go to the weight room every day, training people–a lot of his clients are people who are recovering from injuries.  he said about this project that he wanted to introduce me to his first love.  the mystery was compelling:

chris asks me to climb a tree and jump on the roof of a garage. like i will. . . .

chris asks me to climb a tree and jump on the roof of a garage.  like i will. . . .

i declined to try the tree.  interestingly, this house where chris grew up was built by his grandfather and chris’ mom still lives in it.


chris grew up in this house and climbed on the garage so that he could glimpse his first love

chris grew up when kids didn’t have “organized sports” — you just went out and played.  but chris now trains kids at basketball camp on the side.  he taught me to do a layup.  i’m not going to be recruited by uconn but i did okay.

she shoots she scores she . . .

she shoots she scores she . . .

think about the friends you see every day.  should you spend more time with them?  i’m about to head out to ohio to see a friend i haven’t seen in three years.  without facebook, i think that friendship would have withered and died.


there are so many ways to fail and so many ways to succeed

i hate mapquest.  i loathe it.  sure, it gets me where i’m supposed to go but its projections of how long it will take me are wildly optimistic and seem to include some wormholes in the spacetime continuum (exit 49a off  1-70 take a soft right into the previous hour and out fifty miles ahead of yourself).  i headed out of chicago at seven thirty a.m. aiming for columbus, ohio.  it was going to take me a mere five and a half hours.  it was the second time this year that i’ve been on this road to see f2fb friend #157 todd stiles.

i had recently been stung by some comments from a facebook friend who said roughly the following “i’ve talked to some of our mutual facebook friends who say your project annoys them and they will not see you this year”  i don’t see these mutual friends all that often and one of the side effects of this new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends is that i’m getting to know people i call friends a little better.  i respect boundaries.  if someone doesn’t want to make a video, sure.  if someone says i just want to get together with friends but i don’t want you to blog about it, okay (see friend #88).  if someone cancels and reschedules, sure.

and that last had been the case with todd–

my new doctor

my new doctor

todd is in medical school and has faced many obstacles, not the least of which was everybody telling him “you look too exhausted to take the exam” on the morning i was last supposed to see him, for an exam that was critical to his success.  so he ended up cancelling the exam.  it’s set him back a bit but he is someone who just can’t quit.  he’s just stubborn enough, just ornery enough, just positive enough–i think we should all start calling him dr. todd now because it’s just a matter of time.  specifically a year, i believe, before he will graduate.

he is the first in his immediate family to graduate from college and the only one in his extended family to try medical school.  and medical school has dragged him from ohio to antigua, and from working at a pharmaceutical warehouse to get tuition money to long nights reviewing textbooks and lecture notes.

we went to the short north neighborhood of columbus and whiled away a few hours while we caught up.  we had known each other when he was studying in chicago and then drifted apart when he moved first to champaign, then to ohio, and then to antiqua and back to ohio.  we realized we have a lot of the same issues with anxiety and self-doubt.

todd was so sweet–when it came time for me to say goodbye, he pulled out of his backpack a printout of instructions on how to get to oberlin, ohio.  “you’ll be fine once you get on warren street,”  he said.  he overestimated.  i drove around for about a half hour before i found i-71 north and moved north into a thunderstorm.  the clouds did not lift me up and deposit me gently into oberlin but rather, slowed my progress.

todd and i in front of a mural of american gothic on north high street

so part of the reason i missed the ramp to the interstate was that i was crying–dr. todd told me that even if i run into obstacles, even if i run up against negativity, even if i run up against outright failure, just pick up, dust yourself off, and get back on the highway to success.  in my case, it requires a few illegal u-turns on columbus streets, but i’m aiming to oberlin and beyond. . . .

#158 david yonan and the failure rebound

the stench of failure still hung over me when i woke up in ohio yesterday morning at seven.  i couldn’t stop replaying the conversation in my head:  my friend saying “you had to have known you were going to fail.  you just aren’t going to be able to meet every facebook friend you have.”

that’s sort of true.  i figured somebody would go to jail or flee the country or maybe take part in a space expedition.  but i wasn’t expecting my friend’s analysis of WHY i would fail.

“not everybody is willing to see you.  in particular, i happen to know three people who are dead set against it.”

“not at all?”  i asked.

“not at all.”

“then how are they my friends?”

which was sort of what i asked myself.  in order to get back to chicago to see f2fb friend #158 david yonan’s concert at the music institute of chicago at three o’clock i would need to leave oberlin, ohio by seven.  much as i adore the partita in d-minor by j.s. bach (uh, actually i had never heard of it) and ilya levinson’s elegy–crossing the bridge (ditto), the drive was daunting.  particularly if there was no point to it.

still, i was intrigued.  i had never actually met david.  he was JUST a facebook friend, but he had invited me to his concert.  so i dragged my ass out of bed, made for starbucks, drove one hour in a circle around oberlin because i screwed up the directions for how to get on the turnpike, and then set sail for the music institute of chicago, nichols hall in evanston.  i made it with fifteen minutes to spare.  i might have smelled pretty bad.  and, yes, that was ketchup on my dress because i can’t eat and drive more than ninety miles per hour.

afterwards, david was so nice as to invite me to lunch.  at four o’clock.  what can i say?  he’s a cosmopolitan guy.

howwemet

howwemet

i told him about some of my concerns about failure, about this project.  i told him also about my f2fb friend #157 todd stiles who perserveres in his quest to become a doctor even when he–as i–gets a case of the heebie jeebies.  david took a long term approach to it all.  he told me that nothing is impossible if you break it down into little bits.  and nothing worth doing does not at first seem impossible.

davidyonan’s career

davidyonan’s career

//

if you set out to meet every facebook friend, do you think there are friends who wouldn’t want to see you?
yes, that’s part of what facebook is. 50%
no, i only have facebook friends who are REAL friends 25%
i don’t want to know 25%

//

then i had to ask him–how does he make it sound like there’s fifteen violins going on all at once?

manyviolins

manyviolins

//

you can learn more about the day’s events and david’s participation at http://makemusicchicago.com

facebook is sometimes a little incestuous and so is this post

yesterday, i went to a concert performed by f2fb #158 david yonan, who is a protege of elizabeth stein.  it was wonderful, he’s really talented, and i learned a lot afterwards about violins, their construction, and music.  i hadn’t realized that sometime during the concert the two hundred thousand dollar violin david borrowed for the concert occasionally had gone out of key. i just thought it was modern classical stuff.  you know, like mahler goes wild.

then i went out with f2fb friend #159 richard gordon.  he’s the sort that if the impossibly handsome and debonair louis jourdan was not available, mr. gordon could step in.

louis jourdan or richard gordon, you pick!

how do i know richard?  well, he’s the ex-husband of elizabeth stein.  david yonan’s mentor.  i was supposed to have lunch with elizabeth (AND get a violin lesson because she’s a stradivarius dealer) but she cancelled.  how do i know elizabeth?  uh, actually, she went out with my ex-husband stephen.  may still be going out with him.  and i’m sure i don’t know the half of it.  and really, it’s none of my business.  except to say that she has three men i know who are in love with her:  my ex, david, and richard.

i met richard at the union league club in chicago.  i was very late because most of the traffic lights on the way were down because of a storm.  but he was forgiving.

richard was once a member of the university club too.  but the courtship of stephen and elizabeth largely took place in the university club and i think richard feels the desire to put some distance to that.

chicago has a lot of private clubs.  like every other big town.  but after one drink at the union league club (sorry, no pics or film, they would have tackled me), he proposed a different sort of club.

a smoke-easy.

during prohibition there were speakeasies in which one could purchase illicit alcohol.  this club allowed for illicit smoking.

i can’t hold a beer and blow smoke rings at the same time

the joint was managed by a dude in a tom ford suit, white polyester shirt, and velvet ralph lauren evening slippers.  he picked out a smooth, sweet davidoff cigar for me.   no socks.  of course.  i chatted with a young man who is taking divinity classes at yale and wants to be a priest but has a predilection for smoking and johnny walker black.  i asked him about women but he says he doesn’t like women of his generation because they don’t concentrate on the important things in life.  i don’t either, so i would suggest to him the carthusian monasteries.  they at least have great food and wine.  and no women.  i then asked him about the vow of poverty.  not into it.  and not every priest is.

richard, a.k.a. louis jourdan, was a witty bon vivant.  i really had to tear myself away–but he folded me into a cab and told me i was welcome to see him anytime.  i appreciate that.  this morning, i have as a souvenir of our time together a box of matches advertising the Iwan Ries Lounge and a hacker’s cough.

the place has been around for five generations but i understand the recent heir does not want to continue the business!

johnny bladez takes me to a party!

the first thing i admired about johnny bladez is his tattoo.  last night, i learned that the second thing i admire is how much he endures.

johnny used to work at the coffeeshop but a couple of years ago he left the job and we lost touch in the way that you do sometimes with facebook friends.  a few “you gotta look at this video” posts don’t communicate the big stuff.

like that he got shot.  and nearly killed in an alley outside his friend’s house.  the gun was aimed first at his head–the shooter was young and the gun misfired, hitting johnny in the knee.  johnny managed to run halfway down the block before falling and that’s when he took two more hits.  the shooter is doing twelve years in the big house.  johnny was told he would never walk again.  but johnny endures.

he seems much older than his twenty two years.  we played a game of pool, laughed about stuff and he told me the story of how he ended up with the tattoo while his mother, a reservist, was stationed in iraq.

VID00737

VID00737

//

after the game–i scratched the white ball while trying a trick shot on the eight–we walked over to f2fb friend #154 louise berner-holmberg’s house for a party to introduce people to her free health care clinic.  i like when this project brings people together.  after the party, louise (a.k.a. woo), johnny and i walked over to a second party.  it was a good night for johnny because he works two jobs–one at a park district, the other at a restaurant–and he was kicking back!

our hostess greeted us warmly and then i noticed that two times the flash on her camera (held at hip level) went off.  i thought there was some sort of malfunction.  but i was later told that this is a security measure.  if something later were reported stolen or missing, the hostess would have a visual record of everyone who had entered the home.

woo is going for the “french waiter carrying key lime pie in complete seriousness” but johnny can’t quite hide his smile!

johnny bladez (f2fb #160) walked woo and i home.  i want so much for him to succeed in life and i think he’s endured quite enough trouble so far.

the front stoop moment

after f2fb friend #160 johnny bladez said goodnight, i prepared for bed and glanced out of the bedroom window to see that he sat on the front stoop, smoking a cigarette.  we had had some laughs and the two parties had been fun, but we had also talked a lot about the different challenges he was and is facing.  bad friends, bad relationships, bad choices, bad options.  i wondered if keeping him company would help and then realized, no, we all have to have the time to sit on a front stoop, smoke a cigarette and sort things out in our head.

i have made no secret of my early life.  being adopted when i was three.  a schizophrenic mother.  leaving home.  living on the streets (not very successfully).  foster placements.  juvie detention.  dropping out of high school.  bad friends, bad relationships, bad choices, bad options.

but somewhere along the line i had the sitting down on the front stoop.  i’m not sure if i smoked a cigarette.  and i had said all that i had to say about that moment to johnny.

a facebook friend joan asked me about that front stoop moment for me.  because i did turn things around.  i went to college.  then law school.  got married.  had kids–neither of whom has shown up on the police blotter, i’m happy to say.  it was no idle question for her.  joan works with native american children in north dakota who are at risk.

i sent her a three hundred page autobiography last night.  she read it last night.  while i puttered about the house.  while i looked outside the window again and knew that johnny was walking home.  while i slept and while i woke up to go bike riding with f2fb friend #161 lee padgitt.

lee is in rotary with me.  we are both fifty years old and we’re realizing that we’ve made the choices, we’ve done what we can with our options.  we’re pretty settled that we’ve done pretty all right.  and we’re treating ourselves a little at the midcentury mark:  i’m meeting my friends and lee is spending a lot of time riding his bike.  he and his wife have three children who are still at home, but soon he will have long bike rides to take. . .

leepadgitt’s dog

leepadgitt’s dog

my friend joan read the book and sent me a note that read in part. . .” It was painful for me to read and yet I couldn’t stop reading it~It’s perfect and horrible and humbling.  I’m honored that you would allow me to share your pain and I urge you to get it published.  I beg you to have it published.”

i would like to believe that my front stoop moment could help anybody else.  and i hope that my jumping out on this year long adventure will help anybody else.  but mostly me.

lee and i rode through the botanic gardens and then we had to high five on life and say goodbye!


lee often rides in the botanic gardens and showed me beautiful flowers, like these alliums.

on this f2fb friend’s diet, you can eat a pint of ice cream a day and still lose weight!

when i first made the new years eve resolution to meet every facebook friend i had (and at the time i had roughly 324), there was snow on the ground, my christmas tree was still up, and i weighed six pounds lighter.  there’s been a lot of planes, trains and automobiles since january first.  i feel like a python who has just swallowed the rabbit.

f2fb friend #162 sandy kolkey and i are roughly the same age.  we first became friends because his son zak and my son eastman were in class together.  somehow, i have grown older (and wider) and sandy hasn’t.  his wife lisa once suggested to me that she hates him because he can eat a pint of ice cream every night while watching the evening news and he still doesn’t gain weight.

when he suggested that i drive out to the soccer fields to play, i figured i’d get some evercise and find out how he keeps it together.  he said there were usually about five guys who played on each team and that natural attrition would eventually result in an invitation for this girl to join in the fun.  but when i arrived, i was a bit surprised at the playing field.

sandy kolkey on what drives him

sandy kolkey on what drives him

i have never played soccer and i didn’t get to play on sandy’s team.  i coached boys’ soccer for nine years, first for my son joseph’s teams and then for eastman’s.  i thought i was being a good mom even though i don’t think i taught them any particular skill — i think the most important thing they learned is that every game must have orange slices for refreshment at the half time and a snack afterwards.  my skill base is so abysmal that i didn’t understand offsides until three years into my tenure–i can hardly imagine what the referees thought of my responses when they would call my players on that charge.

in any event, sandy’s theory is that his passion for physical exercise is because of his father.  sandy is now three years older than the age his father was when he died of pancreatic cancer.  my biological father justin (f2fb friend #30) is still alive but my adoptive father donald patrick suffered two heart attacks while i was a child.  i was with him when both occured.  i have sometimes wondered if that has made me prone to thinking of my anxiety as a heart attack issue.

sandy is a world traveler and he said i will love mumbai in particular.  he had this sage advice to offer me:

advice from a world traveler

advice from a world traveler

i told sandy i had a three hour drive in front of me and he said he envied me this year.  that he wants to do something like this resolution i’m doing.  i didn’t realize that i’d be having taking tap dancing next with a woman who is on her own personal new years eve resolution and i would talk her out of quitting. . . .

someone else’s new years resolution

it is very easy to let email, facebook, linkedin, skype, myspace, and twitter do the friendship work for you.  you exchange news, seek advice, share gossip.  and then when you make plans to get together, you wonder “when was the last time. . . ?”  and it’s been five years.  this is friendship pattern is especially true for people in theater.  they can have really intense relationships while they’re working on a show and then things continue computerliciously until the next show.

stephanie hurovitz, f2fb friend #163, is a professional stage manager.  she was the manager for eastman’s last play, oh, just about five years ago.  when i asked her what she was passionate about, what she’d like to share with me, i never expected this.  it’s her secret superpower and one day the world will be threatened by a meteor (or aliens or maniacal psychopaths or the collapse of the imf) and only stephanie can save us. . . .

dance isn’t always for performance

dance isn’t always for performance

stephanie was excited about my new years resolution but she confessed to a resolution that she had recently abandoned:  to have thirty one dates before her thirty first birthday which is in february.  she’s so busy juggling work commitments that seemed difficult.  i understand why she gave up on it.  but she had already gone on sixteen dates and it’s only just now reaching the halfway point on the year.

what if she readjusted the resolution so that she had to finish it by new years?  that’s just fifteen dates!

by the way, i turned out to be sooooooooo great at tap.  in face, i tap dance so fast you can’t even see my feet move!

i tapdance so fast

i tapdance so fast

the instructor, debra giunta of designdance, said i should consider the possibility of further lessons because tap dance is the easier for an old person to pick up as opposed to, say, ballet.  as i leafed through a catalogue for wheelchairs and walkers, i watched debra and stephanie work through some steps.

tapdance twins

tapdance twins

for my new years resolution, i am astonished by the faith and encouragement i’ve been receiving, as well as ”chaperone” and logistics help.  i really appreciate everybody who opens up their homes, their tap dance lessons, their lives to me.  so i want to do everything to help stephanie with her resolution.  if you have anybody who would be a good candidate for mr. 16, mr. 17, mr. 18, etc., email their stats to me!

i’m off to see the first ex-wife of my first and only ex-husband.  there’s a story about how grace, not facebook, brought us together!

grace is the messenger of love

it is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of an ex-wife is must be in want of another ex-wife.  my f2fb #164 carole smith is the first ex-wife of my ex-husband stephen and i am the second ex-wife.

when i first married stephen i was pregnant with joseph.  i became an insta-stepmother to carole and stephen’s children david and elisabeth.  carole had started a relationship with ann, and ann’s son adrian was a new sibling for david and elisabeth.  with stephen and carole sharing custody of david and elisabeth, i spent a lot of time in the car waiting to drop someone off or pick someone up.  and there was a lot of conflict as the parties negotiated expenses, holidays, and the usual he said she said moments.

so i never got to know carole until all the kids grew up.  now we sometimes share holidays together.  we have to a great degree been brought together by grace.  not the grace of the lord, although there is the usual amount of that.  but the grace who is elisabeth’s daughter has with her birth healed many scratches and bruises.

so i looked forward to seeing carole for lunch because we have so much in common and so much we share in our deep abiding ambition that our children–david, elisabeth, joseph, eastman and carole’s partner’s son adrian–will be close and supportive family to each other.  it is as if grace has become the messenger of love.  when elisabeth posts a video of grace on facebook, we all comment and hit like.

this is a tile in carole’s collection that is painted with a bird delivering a love note–the messenger of love

carole collects tiles, most of them from the nineteenth century.  she is such an expert that she can tell the manufacturer and the year it was made by the feel of the back of the tile.  these tiles were used on fireplaces, bathrooms, kitchens.

i don’t know about you, but my kitchen tiles aren’t particularly interesting

carole’s collection is so immense that it is housed in boxes and cd shelves.  she has bid on ebay (she thinks of it as voting) and scoured markets and shops.  i don’t understand the compulsion to collect anything but i appreciate her expertise.

a greek god tile — most of her collection is from the arts and crafts movement of the 19th century

when we first met, we were in a tense relation to one another–at lunch, we toasted our good fortune that we are now friends.

christmas in july

it’s july one.  the middle of the year.  the middle of a new years resolution.  and i have achieved twin successes–a milestone and an intriguing but daunting proposal–and both scare me as much as they delight me.  but first, i must explain the blessed absolution i received in the matter of stealing the christmas trees from the boy scouts.

facebook posts and news feeds leave a lot of room for misunderstanding between friends.  and friends of friends.  my misunderstanding with f2fb friend #165 phil hoza had its origins in an event that occured even before there was a facebook!

it was nearing christmas.  my then husband was working in england.  joseph and eastman were eight and four years old.  i had been feeling poorly.  low energy.  afternoons disappearing into naps, workouts disappearing altogether, boys watching a lot of television.

i went to the doctor who said he was going to admit me to the hospital because i had pneumonia.  i said no, i have no one to take care of my children.  he gave me drugs and made me promise complete bedrest.  i drove home thinking about how the boys’ christmas was now officially ruined.  i stopped at the parking lot where the boy scout troop sold christmas trees.  nobody was there except for an old woman who picked out a tree, shoved it into the trunk of her car, and glided out of the parking lot with none of that shoplifter guilty look.  i figured “what the hell?”  and took a tree myself.

i put up the tree in my bedroom because it would make watching the boys easier.  they asked me where i had gotten the tree.

“i stole it from the boy scouts,”  i said.

i was instantly transformed into the cool mom.  later i found out that after the last saturday before christmas the boy scouts abandon the tree selling business.  so it wasn’t technically stealing.  i never corrected the boys on this minor legal technicality.  i let them think i brazenly stole that christmas tree.  that i wasn’t scared of time in the pokey.  that i was just a little bit of an outlaw.

after that, the boys believed that i stole every year’s christmas tree. to be fair, i only stole a christmas tree one other year and that was when the leader of the boy scout troop called me on the saturday evening before christmas to tell me that if i wanted to steal a good one, i’d better hurry.

“buying christmas tree is for suckers,”  eastman told me as we dragged the tree along the snowy side streets.

this past christmas i posted on facebook that i had carried on the family tradition and stole a christmas tree.  i actually must fess to having bought one.  but still, the boys were happy.  some of my facebook friends were not.  f2fb friend phil hoza had a good suggestion “you should write a check to the boy scouts” but i was worried that he was really really really angry with me.  and the compressed nature of facebook posts flummoxed me–how could i communicate the entire story in a 140 character post?

so i didn’t.

phil is a vietnam veteran who was shot during the tet offensive of 1968.  his daughter carrie serve in korea during peacetime and iraq during the first gulf war.  phil has volunteered his time to charities and public works projects in winnetka so much that he rightfully can lay claim to the title of secural saint.  i was nervous about seeing him as part of this new years resolution.  i shouldn’t have been.  he gave me absolution and told me to sin no more. . . .
phil hoza has lived and worked in wilmette and winnetka all his life!  he does so much for our towns!

many people have christmas in july parties.  phil hoza and i had our christmas in july party today!

the milestone today is that i am seeing friend number 166 tomorrow.  i am halfway through the new years resolution.  that’s a great milestone because i find so much of it unbelievable.  the proposal?  not for marriage, but for a project that would make this new year’s resolution something that would explain myself one day to my boys.  this means the project becomes much more difficult, logistically and personally.  when i first heard of this proposal, i went to lakeside groceries, bought a bottle of wine, drank the entire bottle while sitting on the couch, and then passed out.

waking up, i realized something awful about myself.  i’m just as scared of success as i am of failure.

f2fb friend #166, flexibility, and NO beer! two out of three ain’t bad–

there can’t be a meeting between me and a facebook friend without me getting lost.  i have spent a lot of time at rest areas and freeway macdonald’s with a road atlas and my index cards with mapquest.com directions.  if my new years resolution is to see every one of my 335 facebook friends, that’s a lot of crying, driving in circles, and self-loathing.

when i drove up to milwaukee i was actually pretty damn proud of myself. i was visiting f2fb friend #166 john gion who has 17 facebook friends in common with me.  i found his place quite easily.  that was before there was trouble:

john is a costumer who has worked for many theater and film production companies.  he has done work on many shows that my sons have been in.  he did the absolutely wonderful thing of asking after joseph and eastman when i arrived.

i told him i was taking him the milwaukee villa terrace museum of decorative arts.    i was sure that something like the milwaukee public museum or the pabst mansion would be too obvious.  we sallied forth in the direction suggested by mapquest.

flexibility is the most important skill i’m learning this year.  because we got lost.  and i worried that i was disappointing john by not getting us to the new museum.  but john is one of the most flexible people, one who takes the world as it is presented to him.  he said “hey, we’re pretty close to the pabst mansion, let’s just go there”

i was so relieved.  it was a beautiful tour of a mansion owned by the captain frederick pabst family.  john has displayed his costume collection in some of the 20,00 square foot home so it is nearly as if he was an owner.

john gion’s rave

john gion’s rave

too bad there wasn’t a pabst blue ribbon tasting after the tour.

some people have asked me why i’m meeting all my friends and one part, small but significant, is that i am at an age where i am for the first time without children in the house.  and i know that one day i’m going to be a caretaker for my dad justin (f2fb friend #30) who was instititionalized by his wife barbara after my trip to tallahassee but has since gotten sprung.  i am at an in between phase.

one of the things i admire about john gion is that he was a caretaker for his mother for many years before her death and now he acts as a caretaker for his father.  he has given up a lot to be there for him.  i hope to put him together with lon kiefer, f2fb friend #111 ,who has  a presence on facebook as defender of the caregiver, a resource for caregivers.

i left john at his apartment after a truly enjoyable afternoon–and i continue ahead to the next adventure. . .

next, andrew pearce helps me book flights for the international leg of the party–and i have news to share about the second half. . . .

this is the scariest video i’ve posted so far!

the scariest clip ever!  and not just because we talk about ted bundy type episodes.  this is something i’ve been sitting on for two weeks and am only just now realizing i can’t weasel out of.

the scariest clip i will post on this blog (or at least i hope so)

the scariest clip i will post on this blog (or at least i hope so)

benjamin gonzalez is f2fb friend #140 and his wife marissa durbin is f2fb friend #141.  marissa has been following the progress of my new years resoution and when i suggested a get together she was hardly surprised.  i knew ben initially through his uncle laurence who is a photographer and did some (ahem!) portraits of me, one of which hangs in his house.  i happen to have forgotten to wear clothes that day.  that forgetfulness doesn’t happen very often but it does make an impression.  marissa and ben have an adorable eighteen month and ben is so in love with marissa that when he talks about her it’s a little like listening to a twelve year old talking about the aphrodite of the eighth grade class.

i went to dinner at their home.  marissa and i chatted.   ben might have been somewhat baffled that our talk kept circling back to facebook.  when marissa excused herself to put on the lipstick for a video, ben allowed as how he hadn’t expected that an old friend would haul off and play wedding party videographer.  that’s when i explained my new years resolution.

now, ben has been in the film business for quite some time. most of that time he has worked for strata entertainment (you can see their stuff at http://strataproductions.net) their focus is real life events recreated in a manner to challenge the filmgoer.

i believe that letting ben document what i’m doing will help me finish my new years resolution.  i am grateful every single day for the help my facebook friends give me, whether it’s meeting with me, driving me to another friend’s house, playing chaperone, making me dinner, helping me get an advance on a line of credit on my house to pay travel expenses, introducing me to their family, tellling me i had a good impact on their life at some point, or sending me a gps system (which is in the mail) or a lucky charm such as william clark or the hedgehog.   i’ve twice had f2fb friends lay hands and pray over me.  i’ve been stunned by friends opening their homes and hearts to me.

ben, on the other hand, made me feel so anxious that i bought a bottle of as good as i could afford and i sat down on the couch and drank it to the last drop.  when i woke up, i figured if i get to pursue my determined, eccentric dream–i gotta let ben work on his.  he and his crew are like a bunch of boy scouts working on that eagle badge.

tomorrow, i get on the plane for new york.  then a train to rhode island.  then to boston.  back to new york.  home again.  and right back out to california (again!).  i sure hope the boy scouts stay on their side of the plane to new york.  i need my space to have my little freak out.

what do you most want to do when you grow up?

benjamin gonzalez had his birthday yesteryday.

f2fb observed

f2fb observed

and instead of spending it in chicago with his beloved wife marissa and their eighteen month old desmond, he spent it charging out to new york as part of the first leg of my f2fb trip to see facebook cousin megan, first time ever in person facebook friend mary, and steve ware, who is a camera operator for jersey shore.

my new years resolution is the same:  i sat in my house in front of the computer and decided i will go out and meet every one of my 324 facebook friends.  by the next morning, i had eleven new friend requests and i’ve honored those.  i have to meet those 335 friends in their home turf, or wherever they suggest (thank you brian brethauer for directing me to san diego two weeks from now for the science fiction convention!).  i have become a lot better at getting on planes, getting out of the house, getting where i need to go.

upside:  i have learned so much about people–mostly, that everybody thinks they’re odd and some are even ashamed of that oddness, but that–really–there is so much room for normal.  and i’m sort of within range.

downside:  i have gained six pounds.  i feel quite like a snuffaluffagus!

ben has a job that he has set for himself, which is to create a film–almost like making a painting of what i’m doing.  like i said, yesterday was his birthday.  i felt kind of bad that he’d be with me instead of with his family.  but he said this project–which is to say, his project–is exactly what he has always wanted to do.  i asked ben’s assistant director brandon what he wanted to do if he could do any job.  and brandon said “i’m doing it”. . .

the weird thing is even though i’m scared sometimes and sometimes i think my new years resolution is stupid, i’m doing the thing i most want to do–i think i might like to do this when i grow up?

pippa’s papers and the art of forgiveness

i was extremely nervous about seeing f2fb friend #167 meg kafalas for two reasons.  i had flown into new york the day before and from there took the acela express amtrak train.  i hadn’t seen her in twenty years.  what if i didn’t recognize her?

but as the escalator wafted me up to the providence, rhode island station waiting room, i saw a diminutive woman.  sleek black hair.  bright red lipstick.  capri pants and a sweater worn with the sort of chic that only the french and my cousin meg kafalas could pull off.

“you look exactly the same,”  i said.  well, except that she wore adorable needlepoint slippers instead of her once favorite black ribbon ferragamos.

we got in her car and she gave me a tour of providence which was a decidedly short tour because providence is a town decidedly short on real estate.  we decamped to her store pippa’s papers which sells chic stationery–it’s motto is “your own initials are enough” and you can shop there at pippaspapers.com

we had first met twenty five years ago when i found my biological father justin (f2fb friend #30) and my grandfather fritz leiber.  i was very interested in meeting every family member, so fritz gave me the address of a cousin betty who lived in chicago.  i wrote to her.  i got a call from her daughter meg. .  . . .

“hi, i’m your second cousin once removed,” she said.  “and i have some bad news.  you wrote to my mother, but she died before the letter was delivered.”

meg’s mother and father died within months of each other.  we became close but i little realized how their deaths devastated her.  to me and to others, she presented a “facebook profile picture” that was confident, cheerful and chic.  but when she was alone, she struggled.  at one point, she went away and we lost touch.  it was only because of facebook that we came together.

i apologized to her at lunch for not having been more help.  i always thought she didn’t need any.  i never saw beyond her profile picture.  and she forgave me with a generous heart.  she has become the very happy person she was meant to be.  nobody gets to jump very high if their feet haven’t hit the floor.

then we went to pick out stationery.  i have a lot of thank you notes to write–to people who have been so kind to see me, people who have encouraged me, people who have sympathized when i have faltered.

i envy meg’s hair

i envy meg’s hair

every single day this year, i have had 1) a technical problem and 2) a geography lesson.  my technical problem is i can’t upload pictures i took of rhode island so just imagine a charming quaint little state and several pictures of meg and me.  my geography lesson?  that’s what i call it when i get lost.

let’s see me make it from rhode island to boston and then to new york–

but did i get the job on jerseylicious!?

the train from boston to new york was meant to be a four hour haul but it was five and it deposited me into the hell that is owned by satan.  oh, whoops, michael bloomberg.  new york at six o’clock rush hour, one hundred degrees, rain with a brisk wind of brimstone and sulfur.  the boy scouts benjamin and brandon trailing behind me with their cameras and cases and tripod.  i met up with my son joseph and the quintet found a quiet spot at a QUIET italian restaurant on 55th and 9th avenue to await the arrival of f2fb friend #169 steve ware.

by quiet, i mean the volume was set at eleven.  new yorkers are loud people, pushy people, excitable people.  they crowd up against each other and there’s little time for extended conversational openers like “excuse me” or “sorry i stepped on your foot”. . .  i spent three minutes being polite and figured it wasn’t getting me anywhere.  none of these people would last five minutes in kearney, missouri or cedar rapids, iowa or even morgantown, west virginia–places i’ve logged on this new years resolution.

i first met steve ware at a movie shoot that my younger son eastman was part of.  eastman was just ten and steve watched out for him on the set when i wasn’t available.  we have kept up over the years through emails and facebook but not so much in person.

steve and a young friend. he calls the picture “when former self meets future self” i think it’s the coolest profile picture ever!

the waitress asked me if we were doing a movie because of all the equipment the boy scouts, brandon and ben, were hauling.  i allowed as how i was sort of gonna being doing a, well, a “reality thang” which isn’t a bad way to describe two guys following me around making a documentary about my new years resolution.  i mentioned that steve ware is working on the show jerseylicious, the scorching hot series about a beauty salon in new jersey.  (i should put in a plug here for the show if i expect to be invited to be part of the cast, shouldn’t i?)

i didn’t put up any objection when she asked if she might seat us in the v.i.p. area.  which was a good 3% quieter.

RECIPE FOR GETTING YOURSELF A VIP TREATMENT:

1.  RENT FRIENDS IN CASUAL DRESS WITH LOADS OF CAMERA GEAR.  THEY MUST WEAR CARGO SHORTS AND I WOULD SHOOT THEM UP WITH FRAPPUCINOS BEFOREHAND.  JUST FOR THAT VIBE.  (a clipboard isn’t a bad add-on)

2.  HAVE THEM PUT THAT CAMERA LENS ON YOU.  IGNORE THEM.  TRY TO ORDER.  PUSH THE CAMERA LENS AWAY.  WAVE YOUR HANDS IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE.  LOOK POUTY.

3.  ****GUARANTEED*** WAITRESS WILL ASK “UH, ARE YOU WITH . . . ?”  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MOMENT:

4.  BE VAGUE.  VERY VAGUE.  DREDGE UP EVERY REALITY SHOW YOU KNOW (GLAM FAIRIES?  SISTER WIVES?  JERSEY SHORE IN ITALY????) AND PEOPLE (SPIELBERG, FOR EXAMPLE, YOUR COUSIN’S LAST NAME ENDS WITH BERG.  THAT’S PRETTY GOOD)

5.  AGREE (RELUCTANTLY–WATCH THAT CHAMPAGNE TABLE STUFF) TO GO TO THE VIP TABLE AND WORK ON YOUR POSTURE:  NOSE SLIGHTLY TILTED UPWARD.  THIS IS KEY BUT I DON’T THINK I’M AS GOOD AS ALL THAT.

steve ware has a particular gift of getting himself into car accidents–and i asked him about that:

steve ware voodoo car

steve ware voodoo car

steve has battled back from an incredible health crisis and yet he’s managed it with grace, patience and good humor.  and yes, he’s now working on jerseylicious.

i think steve and i agree that everybody should be the stars of their own reality series.  maybe it’s not filmed.  maybe it’s not on a cable channel.  but it’s you.  you are the central character of your own life!!!!!  you are not just watching baseball, you play it.  you are not wanting to be glam, you get it.  you take adventures, you are the star of your  own life,

however, i’m sorry because this is advice from someone who isn’t there yet.  we left the cafe and the rain had become a gentle sweet smelling cloak.  the commuters had scurried off, the tourists were in their hotel beds with visions of fifth avenue bargains dancing through their heads.  the moon was just one of the twinkling lights overhead.  i smiled in what i hoped was a most charming way and asked f2fb friend #169 if i had a shot at getting on jerseylicious.

he said i don’t have big enough hair.

when family is facebook

i had one day in new york city and instead of meeting with a facebook friend i saw my half sister casey (f2fb #31) and my son joseph (f2fb #61).  putting them together,  i was surprised to figure out that they hadn’t actually seen each other in fifteen years.  part of the reason is that i haven’t been good about travel and so i’ve not cultivated a “let’s hop on a plane and visit the relatives” sort of relationship to my family.

but part of it also is that my father (justin, f2fb #30) and my mother aleta put me up for adoption when i was three.  the patricks raised me and the theory at the time was that an adoptive family should do all in its power to erase a child’s memory of any previous life.  my clothes were changed on the day of the final handover.  i didn’t get to take my favorite stuffed animal.  my name was changed.   and i’m not sure how i came to understand that i would never again see my parents.

f2fb friend #88 helped me go through all the yearbooks of the university of chicago for the five years before and five years after my birth looking for young married students.  why?  i overheard mrs. patrick tell a neighbor that one of the adoption agency caseworkers told her that i was the daughter of two graduate students there.  i went to the cook county recorder of deeds and tried to get a birth certificate and was told that when you’re adopted, even as late as three years old, your certificate is revised to reflect the adoptive family details.

i found my biological family using a private detective.  the meeting between my father’s family and me seemed promising.  the one between me and my mother less so.  in both cases, though, there is a strong presumption that i am not really part of the family and yet i am.  there is some sort of provisional aspect to it.

after dinner, joseph and i walked to central park and i apologized–as i sometimes have–about my not being able to give him a robust and affectionate group of family members.  then he reminded me that the eastman family–of which he now has aunt susan, aunt julie, aunt clare, and uncle mike–has been that part of his life.  and their parents–dick and vivian–hosted us for thanksgiving, christmas and other holidays.  eastman, my younger son, is named not so much for any one member of the eastman family but for all of them.

i really hope that this facebook project brings casey and joseph closer together.  when they parted, casey suggested they hang out together sometime.  i hope they do!

then it was time to get on a plane.  the boy scouts suggested a bit of a dare.

safeflight!

safeflight!

facebook friends change me

Video 75

Video 75

i could not have done this in january.  this project has changed me.  i am transformed by every friend i meet just a little bit at a time.  this was a change that has taken six months of this project to come about!  i am grateful every day for my facebook friends.

the cinderella of winnetka

this cinderella is NOT my facebook friend!

my f2fb friend #170 carol hansen is a real life cinderella!  she tells everyone that it is so and everyone believes her.  carol was a single mother living in a small apartment in winnetka, sewing and designing dresses for village matrons to support her daughters.  then she met her prince–a recently divorced winnetka father.  bluntly, she wanted to marry him.  equally blunt in his declarations, he was not interested in remarriage.

but without the help of a fairy godmother, carol set about her seduction in the most creative fashion.  once, she planned a birthday party a deux in which she donned the uniform she had worn as a flight attendant in her twenties.  she made him comfortable in first class seating.  brought out dinner on a tray and showed an inflight movie about their destination of aruba.

carol and i first met each other when we volunteered on behalf of the winnetka community house.  carol has moved to volunteering more on behalf of political causes including planned parenthood funding.  she is always conscious of the struggles of young women.

we share a special bond because when she was young, she was pregnant and gave up her child for adoption.  that daughter has recently come back into her life.  we share our perspectives on adoptive children reconnecting with parents.  it’s difficult to blend our past with our present and future selves.

lunch with cinderella wouldn’t be the same without the crown–so i brought two and let myself believe in the princess inside of me.

Video 75

Video 75

i admire carol so much and she was so supportive of my new years resolution.  she is a cinderella who is grateful for what she has and for what she can give to others.  i want to be more like carol!

i
i found this glass slipper on my front porch the next morning!

fearless means flexible

the call came just as i was settling down with a book and a late afternoon cookie.  i had resolved that there was no further reason for me to engage in the world–except in a fictional sense.  the relief, the sweet sigh, the gratitude that i didn’t have to go out anymore.

sure, i am falling a little behind on my facebook new year’s resolution.  it was day 193 of the year and i have only visited with 170 friends.  if i’m going to meet the goal of 335 friends who had been my friends as of january one, i had to be more disciplined.  but one day, one sweet day of being a shut in. . . . .

then i got the call from todd stephens.  at first i ignored it.  not because i was avoiding him.  or disliked him.  it’s just i knew what he wanted.  he wanted a f2fb encounter.

the conditions were right–sunny, hot, and a light breeze coming across lake michigan.

“we’re leaving in twenty minutes,”  he said in the voice message he left.  ”hope you can make it.”

people like me, people who hide from the world, don’t like a change in plans.   especially when they’re wearing their pajamas and are planning a “safe” evening at home.  but flexibility is the thing i have been trying to learn this year.

i threw on some pants, found my keys, and arrived at f2fb friend #171 todd stephen’s home just in time.

todd is an adventurer.  exactly my age, he cycles, skis, climbs and runs.  but his greatest joy is boating.  he has three.  today we would sail on the sailacious.  losing just one i gives you a pretty good idea of todd’s sense of humor.  the boat has been todd’s for fourteen years.  oddly, the right to the slip at wilmette harbor is the more valuable item—there is a 78 year waiting list.  we brought with us a mutual friend and fellow rotarian chuck taylor who served as first mate.

as we pulled out onto the lake, i realized i had forgotten my ativan (for anxiety), my inhaler (for asthma), and a life vest.  the coast guard was nowhere to be seen.  todd and chuck unfurled the jib and main sail without the slightest concern for killer fish or spontaneous water spouting up from the depths.  in fact, they looked like they were having fun–trading jokes, imbibing in a brewskie.  i relaxed, i even allowed as how i could steer.

sailing

sailing

the weather turned cold, the clouds rolled in, the coast guard boat–sirens bleating–sped past us on some mission not directly related to rescuing me.  i didn’t mind.  i had a good time.  at the house, we shook hands and promised to do this again sometime.

i still got my book.  my cookie.  my pajamas.  i still closed the door on the world.  but i did it four hours later, after having a wonderful time on the lake.  my first time as a sailor.  thanks, todd, for teaching me something new!  although i still don’t know the difference between port and starboard and jib and main sail.

love, fame, money–the max tam dilemma and f2fb friend #172 kristen jasinski

fame is a great motivator.  no less a philosopher than f2fb friend #45 max tam, when offered by me a choice of love, fame or money, opined that he desired fame first, because the money would follow and, well, the women would make a hasty entrance.

Thank you for voting!
love 40%
fame 20%
money 40%

sometimes people are enormously famous in their lifetimes and then fall into obscurity.  i think of the duchess of newcastle, a greatly popular writer whose works nobody could now name (okay, okay, send me an email with three of her works and i’ll buy you a beer!).  there’s girolamo savonarola who singlehandedly changed western europe in 1500 and then poof!  it’s as if he never existed.  and then there are those people who aren’t widely known in their lifetimes but come to represent an age–emily dickinson would be surprised that she is now famous.

greta kempton was famous in her lifetime as a celebrated portraitist.  she was commissioned to do the official portrait of president harry truman, the first female artist to be so honored.

harry truman’s portrait by greta kempton

but then greta passed on.  many of her works were bequethed to the harry truman library and that’s where my f2fb friend #172 kristen jasinski comes in.  she and her husband wesley bought the bulk of the collection.  their house is full of greta’s paintings:

kristan’s favorite

kristan’s favorite

kristen and wesley believe so much in the value of greta’s work that they have formed a foundation and a website — gretakempton.org — to preserve and enhance her stature as “america’s da vinci”.  kristen is a docent for the organization.  as she took me on a tour of the house, i noticed this greta kempton self-portrait on the artist’s palette:

palette

palette

with a champion such as f2fb friend kristen jasinski, greta will become once again a famous painter.   so kristen is a good friend to me and a good friend to greta kempton!

f2fb #173 embarrasses his children too! it’s not just me!

i’ve had the talk with my sons joseph and eastman many times.  i think because they were in musical theater when they were younger and it seemed like the right thing to do:

me:  if you told me you were gay, i’d be disappointed for a day or so.  because i’d be thinking how your life is going to different from what i expected.  but then i’d get over it.

joseph (or eastman):  okay mom.

me:  so are you?  are you gay?

joseph (or eastman):   mom, would you just stop it.  no.

i didn’t really put them at ease, did i?  rusty and i talked yesterday about how he’s had that same talk with his triplets, who are now all adults.  one is openly gay, one is a heterosexual with an entire season of “the bachelor” ups and downs in his life, and one is a daughter who has married and given rusty two great treasures:  grandchildren.

i would have thought that the conversation would be easier for rusty who is a comfortably out man.  i was wrong.  but it was neat to find out we have common ground in how we approach our children, wanting to make them feel loved and appreciated in whatever life they lead.

when i was growing up in the sixties, we had rotary phones that were attached to the wall.  the television had four channels, plus pbs which nobody watched.  the news came on twice an evening and the anchors read from a stack of papers laid out in front of them–once, fahey flynn from chicago was sent to berlin to cover an event for our local chicago news and he reported that there were a lot of “foreign” cars in europe.

and being gay?  not on the radar.  i didn’t even understand what homosexuality was until i was in college and the village people came out with “macho man”. . . a friend explained why they wore the costumes.  i was somewhat baffled.  and from then on my gaydar has operated in such a manner that i assume all men are gay until they tell me otherwise.

also in the sixties, the world was divided between communist countries and “free” countries.   communist countries were generally evil and their leaders hated americans and wanted to kill us all.  every single day, there was the prospect that somebody in moscow would fire off a nuclear missile at the united states for no good reason at all.  and we’d all be dead in a war that was widely understood to only last about twenty minutes.

rusty and i first met when eastman was performing in a play at a theater rusty lead.  rusty and his partner live way outside the city and rusty got burnt out by the commute and the day to day struggles of keeping a theater financially afloat.  he now owns a home design retail establishment.  he has been following my facebook odyssey from the beginning and has been cheering me on.  he is very delighted to be mr. f2fb friend #173.

rusty’s parents wanted the best for rusty–but they had to struggle against the pressures of cuba under castro.  cuba was and still is a communist country.  although rusty first told me this story eight years ago, it has always made an impression on me.

amazing story

amazing story

i’m also grateful that i was able to (with no trouble on my part) give my boys the gift of american citizenship.  okay, okay, they have to put up with my embarrassing questions and my odd quirks, but they at least have that.

the kid’s table teaches me a lot about facebook

i am facebook friends with three members of the mccormick family–f2fb friend #147 cathy mccormick is a single mom who is going out with my f2fb friend #3 mike castagna who used to go out with f2fb friend #123 heidi bloom.  cathy’s daughter maddie is my f2fb friend #174 maddie mccormick who was throwing a surprise party for cathy’s birthday.

it was difficult to host a surprise party in winnetka when the entire family is based in california.  i did my part by pretending to be planning a party for saturday night.  several times over the course of the last two weeks cathy has been nervous because she thought i was dropping the ball on sending out invitations, buying food and drink, and decorating my house for a nonsurprise party on saturday.  cathy flew into town and i took her out on friday afternoon, with her little realizing that a party was in the offing for that very evening that would, in fact, be an utter surprise.  congratulations to maddie for pulling it off!

maddie mccormick’s tips for a party!

maddie mccormick’s tips for a party!

cathy’s son ryan is also my facebook friend (f2fb friend #175), although this came as something of a surprise to him.  he’s been friends with me since november of last year.  this past month, he spent at a leadership camp in colorado.  four weeks in the wildnerness with eleven kids, three of whom had to be airlifted out.  and then the last five days the instructors give you a compass and a firm handshake and say “we’re going partying, good luck getting out of here”.  as you can imagine, i was relieved to meet him in the backyard of the party instead of in the heart of a colorado desert.  i was surprised by what he had to say about being unplugged. . .

ryan returns from the wilderness

ryan returns from the wilderness

matt castagna is a new facebook friend–but i’ve known him for a long time.  while i was at the “kid’s table” he told me about how easy it is for someone to prank your facebook account.  i sure hope nobody decides to do that to me!

hijacked!

hijacked!

it used to be that facebook was “adults not invited”  particularly parents.  now, everybody’s parent is on facebook and now you have to think about what your grandparents are going to think about why you were tagged in a picture of someone passed out on the couch with the word “tramp” written in magic marker across their forehead.  that can’t possibly be my precious grandchild, could it?  luckily, there’s some privacy controls and i got a short tutorial.

sometimes kids defriend their parents or grandparents.  but matt’s sister christie castagna explained a situation that was a little different.

defriending

defriending

later, i met up with f2fb friend #1 which is of course my son eastman who was in town for the pitchfork music festival  . . . .  and because he missed me so much.  his best friend will redmond is my f2fb friend #176 on this strange adventure.  the two of them had something to say about people who are compulsive about the site.  eastman and will have been friends since nursery school and i hope they are friends forever.  just being near them makes me realize how important friends are.  sometimes facebook helps keep that going even when they are in two different schools in two different states. . . .

compulsive

compulsive

i need to pack for the los angeles san diego trip tomorrow!  i will be taking the boy scouts with me.  you can read about them at f2fb.net!

a f2fb friend shows me how to die. and i tell her how to avoid it!

there are places that we keep in our  heads:  the statue of liberty, the white house, the eiffel tower.  we don’t even need to have ever seen them, but when the image appears in a book, a movie, a video game we just know.  and we share with everyone else–whether they’ve been there done that or not–a common understanding of what’s at hand.

i always thought that i would forever have the world as a picture in my mind.  augmented by trivia facts that are words strung together that don’t do anything to make the picture any clearer:  the  eiffel tower is located on the champs de mars,  buckingham palace has three rings surrounding a central courtyard.

this year, some of my facebook friends have shown me things i have only imagined:  the inside of the new york public library (thank you john r. douglas), the topanga mountains (thank you jose rios), and the tower in providence, rhode island where superman leapt the tall building in a single bound.  f2fb friend #177 balbinka kamila showed me the iconic hollywood sign on mount lee in the santa monica mountains.  it’s forty five feet tall and three hundred and fifty feet long–way bigger than i expected.  and i would have gotten closer but a) we were trespassing and b) i was wearing ballet slippers.  better than heels at least.

Video 88

Video 88

balbinka is an actress and director.  she worked with my son eastman on a movie ten years ago and we’ve kept in touch.  she is well aware of the ironies of her business!  after we hiked back to the car, we settled into her living room to watch “a modern day matchmaking affair” which she directed.  brava brava!

and i’m grateful to all my facebook friends for what they share with me, whether it’s a place, an experience, a story, a skill.  i’m a lucky lucky gal!

f2fb friend # 178 teaches me to check in on friendship

i met f2fb friend #178 josh garfinkel in chicago while he was thinking about going to law school.  he and i met through a mutual friend jon levkoviz who directed my younger son eastman in a movie.  josh was like an ingenue fielding offers to the prom–university of michigan, harvard, university of chicago, northwestern.

and we went to movies.  and played world of warcraft.  and hung out.

then his father died of a heart attack in his sleep.  it was a devastating blow.  and yet, somehow he managed to go to university of michigan law school.  law school takes a hundred and ten percent out of you, and sometimes it must have seemed overwhelming.  but he’s overcome everything, making his family–including his father–very proud.

sometimes in our friendship, josh has seemed distant.  and then not distant.  i always thought that the “distant” times were because i had something wrong or had offended in some way.   and because he’s twenty years younger than me i have thought i wasn’t cool enough to be his friend.  but no, distant times were when josh was feeling overwhelmed in the wake of his father’s death and with the pressures of law school.   i should have checked in more often with him.

josh and i spent the evening at the courtyard of the hacienda hotel with f2fb friend #140 benjamin gonzalez and brandon brown, who are filming about this year’s journey.  i was surprised at how easily the conversation moved–movies, music, popular culture, politics, religion.  before i knew it, it was almost midnight and tomorrow i was to have breakfast with a very mysterious facebook friend who is NOT part of the original facebook friends of january 1, 2011.  i said good night to everybody but not before whipping out my flip camera.

josh garfinkel and a wonderful night in los angeles

josh garfinkel and a wonderful night in los angeles

i really look forward to seeing josh garfinkel again when he comes to chicago!

the unexpected facebook friend

my new years resolution made on december 31, 2009 was to among other things lose five pounds.  i weighed 138.  i weighed 138 on december 31, 2010 when i made this year’s resolution to turn off the computer, get off the damn couch, and find all these 335 people who are my facebook friends.  my technology was simple:  i would make the virtual world real.

along the way this year, i’ve met some new facebook friends.  people i’ve met in person on my travels who have sent me friend requests later.  there was a comment about me at gizmodo.com and another on brazilian national television.  suddenly new friendships form and i wonder–should i visit the new friends as well?

i settled on the notion that i should meet the friends who were my friends as of december 31 last year and that if i meet other, more recent friends along the way, that would be an added bonus.  damn, i really really want to go to brazil, japan, and iceland–even as the prospect scares me silly!

tom bremer is my friend in los angeles who befriended me after he read an article about me in gizmodo.com.  he was following my adventures and noticed i was in los angeles.  he asked if he could meet me. . . . and even though everything in los angeles is three hours away from everything else, it turned out his office was just across the street from my hotel.

the surprise friend (1)

the surprise friend (1)

you can check out his work at tombremer.com — he’s an amazing animator and he was just the right person to meet before heading for a small, little known convention in san diego.  it’s called comicon and i have to meet f2fb friend #179 brian brethauer.  if i don’t make it to san diego in time to see him at the convention, i have to go to idaho where he lives.

thanks tom!  i’m really glad you contact me!  if i’m in a town where any facebook friend lives, i want to see them!

a small little convention in san diego plus a facebook warning

sometimes the logistics of this new years resolution get to me.  i have friends all over the globe, sometimes they move, sometimes they even move without telling me (which might be a sign of some sort).  i have two friends who live in alaska, which sounds like it makes things easier to see them, but they live so far apart in the state that it will take a minimum of three flights to go from one to another.

so i considered f2fb friend #179 brian brethauer.  he lives in idaho, and not like ten minutes from the boise idaho airport.  i worried how i was going to see him.  yet, he seemed to intuit that there might be a problem and he suggested he would be in san diego on july 20 for a tiny little convention for those who love comic books (otherwise known as comicon).  thus, the trip to los angeles and san diego was planned with the greatest goal being to meet brian brethauer.  i drove three hours from los angeles to san diego.

meanwhile, brian drove eighteen hours from idaho with his two friends dave and ezra who are brothers.   brian and i are friends through our shared appreciation of my grandfather fritz leiber’s science fiction.  but it was our first time meeting.  awkward?  absolutely not.  a testament to what a great friend brian is.

we boarded the tram for the convention center where the preview party would be held.  we talked about facebook.

three dudes at comicon

three dudes at comicon

comicon turned out to be a huge deal, way bigger than i expected and way stranger.  everybody was dressed as their favorite character from their favorite alternate reality.  i thought it was great that everybody could be exactly who they wanted to be without anybody judging them.

i want this dog!

i want this dog!

brian has been coming to comicon for ten years now, five of them with dave and ezra.  he said that when the convention started, you could order tickets online over the space of a few days.  this year, he didn’t even get tickets, instead he agreed to help his best friend jason brubaker sell copies of his comic “remind” and jason was able to score three “exhibitor” tickets for dave, ezra and brian.  somehow, jason even got me a pass.

brian loves comicon

brian loves comicon

brian was a real gentleman and made sure i got back safely to my hotel room.  he did, however, warn me to not have dinner with f2fb friend #180.  there is no rule against me meeting a facebook friend someplace other than their home city but there are still some rules about meeting–rules that i can’t violate if i propose to finish this resolution with my life and dignity in tact.

f2fb fnd #180 and, really, the only rule about the resolution

a lot of people have told me this project is stupid because i’m going to get myself killed–most likely by some psycho facebook friend who will get me alone, strangle me, tear up my body parts, and dispose of them in such a way that a three part CSI miniseries will be devoted to it.  well, those folks might not be so wrong.  but f2fb friend #180 isn’t that psycho friend.  he just has walking pneumonia.

the second day in san diego was to be somewhat relaxed.  the boy scouts had scored press passes to comicon so i figured i wouldn’t see them much.  the three of us had had a wonderful time meeting f2fb friend #179 brian brethauer the evening before but he wasn’t going to be able to score me another pass to get in.  the san diego comicon was the biggest thing going but f2fb friend #180 Mr. X wasn’t going so i wasn’t going.  we were planning on having dinner–i told him to pick the restaurant–and i was going to look for a toy store that would carry scrabble boards because i had never met and our only connection was a shared love of playing scrabble on facebook.

in the interests of full and fair disclosure, he always won.

in the morning, as the boy scouts and i were thinking about breakfast, i received a call from Mr. X.  he had just been to the doctor.  he had walking pneumonia.  my first thought is we should cancel.  but, no, he was on his way home to bed and wanted just the opportunity to give me a hug, say hi, and we’d figure out whether he was feeling better in the evening.  he said he was just a few minutes from the town and country hotel lobby.

i ran down to the lobby and immediately recognize Mr. X.  we hugged, said hi, and i asked him about what the doctor had told him.  Mr. X said that he was on his way to the doctor just then.  i felt stupid because i was almost positive that i had heard him say he had just been to the doctor.  we saw each other for less than two minutes.  he phoned me back five minutes later to compliment me that i look a lot better in real life than in facebook photos and that if he rallied enough in the evening to get together he would be so happy.

in the late afternoon, he felt miserable but was determined to help me with my new years resolution so long as i ditched the boy scouts and came alone to his house.  the first request–ditching the boy scouts–is easy enough.  anybody  i meet can say no to them.  but the second request–somehow i felt the time had come to institute a rule maybe not so much for my self-protection as for my reputation:  no meeting a gentleman at his home if it is the first time we have met.

so Mr. X and i had an impasse.  he was too ill to leave his home to see me and i was too rule bound.  he asked that he might see me in september when it is possible that i shall return:  he asked for me to set aside two days, one for meeting each other and the second “in case we hit it off”.

i leave san diego with my chef tattoo making me look fierce

sowe leave to los angeles, swinging into the rental car office just in time and dashing off for LAX.  time to return home and to think clearly about the remaining friends to see and meet.  i am very blessed by how nice everyone is to me!

the rental car also breathed fire.  that's what happens at comicon!

the flash mob f2fb party

f2fb friend #181 john howard is an actor.  extremely talented.  appears on chicagoland’s many stages every season.  acting, of course, is just a day job so he can support his true love insurance brokerage.  some of the best actors in the industry–clooney, de niro, penn, nicholson–would trade in all their oscars for a chance to work the insurance angle.

john deals almost exclusively with insuring aviation materials–he does not share my fear of flying but he respects it.  we can’t choose our family and we can’t choose our phobias.  but i have been on so many flights this year that i think my phobia regarding flying is choosing to not be with me.

john is originally from england but he became an american citizen after a run of the musical 1776 about the founding of our country.  it truly inspired me:

1776 makes an american out of john howard

1776 makes an american out of john howard

we talked a bit about the king’s speech and i was surprised when john explained that the movie caused him some anxiety because he himself suffered from a stuttering problem.  we then talked about king edward vii who abdicated, making way for the stuttering king george vi.  howard had some interesting theories about how the course of history would have been changed if edward, a notorious nazi sympathizer, had remained on the throne.

wallis simpson saves civilization

wallis simpson saves civilization

in getting ready to see howard, he posted his address on his wall so that i would know where i was going.  a few people commented, including indicating their drink preferences.  so i dutifully brought diet coke NO caffeine.  but the flash mob f2fb party did not develop.  instead, john and i joined a party for the birthday of his church choir director.  i tell you, i live large!  and there’s enough diet coke no caffeine in the howard house for when they really do have a party!

the spiritual third grader gets a lesson

spiritually, i’m a third grader.  i believe in a God that has a white beard and is pretty pissed off at me most of the time.  i believe in a hell where it’s hot and smells like burning tires.  i believe in a Jesus who died on the cross for our sins but i have some sympathy for judas because without him there’d be no crucifixion.

one of the things i’ve really liked about meeting my facebook friends is that i get turned on to spiritual aspects of their personalities.   i’ve had two different experiences of laying on of hands by facebook friends–one in the christian tradition and one in the reiki tradition.  the latter made me feel like i was settling into a state of grace, but that was just because f2fb friend cathy mccormick and i were on manhattan beach and my heels were sinking into the sand.  i’ve been to services and meditations, i’ve heard people tell me about their spiritual quests–everybody tries so hard to make sense of the material world by reaching for what’s beyond it.

i often experience anxiety as a premonition of my own death.  and because God is up there in heaven so pissed off i’ve got a ticket to smell the sulfur and feel the flames.  and sometimes i think that the walls of my house protect me from God’s omniscience.  like if i’m at home, he gets distracted and starts being pissed off at someone else.

my f2fb friend #182 chris johnson is an actor, a father, a husband, a business owner, and a sunday school minister for the third, fourth, and fifth graders of kenilworth union church.  i went to one of the services and later, chris took me on a tour of the church.

romans versus christians

romans versus christians

chris is a perfect spiritual teacher for me.  he says i should just chill out.  there is a God, he created me and he loves me just as he created and loves everyone else.  and he knows we try our hardest.  it’s a message that he has to repeat every sunday in many different incarnations for the children he ministers to.  i have a feeling that i might need to ask him again for that message.  i only wish i could play catacombs too!

no, i won’t explain about the lost bikini

we sometimes don’t end up where we expect to and that’s certainly true for me and my f2fb friend #183 deb seymour.  i never expected to be a fifty one year old (yes, it happened july 23!) traipsing around the country and the world looking for my facebook friends.  it started off as a new years eve resolution, something i expected to fail at, just as i have failed at every other new years eve resolution i have made.  and yet, every day i get out the datebook and say “where am i going next?”

i think i’m able to do this resolution because i have so much help.  every time i go out of town, twelve year old miss allegra comes over to pick up my mail or my ex-husband stephen moves in to take care of the real estate.  people have sent me encouraging messages, i’ve been gifted with more than my fair share of lucky charms, and every time a facebook friend says “yeah, sure, let’s get together” i feel blessed.

deb grew up with the ambition to become a psychologist and assumed that she would never marry nor have children.  she never expected that in her early forties, marriage and motherhood would come to her.  i am a few years older than her, and my children are grown and out of the house.  she is just starting that journey, with her son being four years old.  i can’t imagine how much work goes into managing her life.

deb grew up in winnetka.  but she grew up during the seventies when the town was a little different.  in fact, there was a television show, swingtime, about winnetka in the seventies.

deb swingtown

deb swingtown

deb’s family is very large and every year there is a reunion in saugatuck, michigan.  last year, i was lucky enough to be invited but this year, while invited, i had to decline.  still, deb stopped in to see me on her way there from denver, where she lives.  i think with a family as large as hers, the help she needs is there for her!

missing saugatuck

missing saugatuck

this is the part, of course, where the director gets to yell “cut”.

an angel appears in aisle five and then there’s an anunciation

the archangel gabriel reveals the results of the home pregnancy test to mary


angels show up all the time and i don’t even think they are full time.  maybe it’s a part time gig.  i’ll have to ask my f2fb friend #184 rebecca cohen when i see her next.  like “what are your hours?”  this is important because i met not one but three angels in the grand food store last week.

it was a rough time.  i had returned from los angeles and san diego and while i had wonderful meet ups with f2fb friends balbinka, josh and brian, i had been awfully confused by my interaction with f2fb friend #180 andru and one facebook friend blew me off altogether.  i returned home on my birthday and my house was pretty destroyed by a flash flood.  and i thought everybody has forgotten my birthday, which isn’t any better when you’re fifty one than it is when you are five.

so i was in the grand food store.  crying in aisle five.  that’s when the angel appeared.  the first one.  that would be rebecca who is known by most people as becky but she says she’s old enough to be called rebecca now.  she put her arms around me, told me everything was going to be all right and somehow i believed her.  she then invited me to dinner.  i don’t recall a single instance of angels inviting people to dinner in the bible.  but there was that part in genesis eighteen where abraham was visited by three angels.

this is what f2fb friends rebecca cohen and larry barkley look like (with lynn sanders who is also my facebook friend whom i will be seeing soon!)

then facebook friend lynn sanders and f2fb friend #83 larry barkley told me to buck up.  and i did.  then i went to dinner at the cohen house.  sometimes all it takes is a friend being good to you to make all the other stuff disappear.

most houses in winnetka have polished lawns and hostas, but becky cultivates native prairie plants

we had a lovely dinner with her husband jeff and two of her three children.  after dinner, we were talking and she reminded me of something i had forgotten about her first husband.

becky

becky

i was put up for adoption when i was just shy of my third birthday.  recently i came across my adoption certificate.  it was laying on top of some papers in my safety deposit box and i was surprised because i don’t recall ever seeing it before.   i wonder what angel put it there.

when i think about my adoption and becky’s husband’s adoption, i wonder if we share a strangeness, an inability to form good relationships.  or maybe rebecca was anunciating (announcing) that it’s possible with great effort or grace.  or maybe you just get older.  but you definitely don’t have to cry about it in the grocery store all by your lonesome!

santa cruz loses its guardian angel and i take a step backwards

sometimes i like to think that this new years eve resolution has changed me.  made me less afraid of the world outside my door.  i’m getting on planes.  i’m driving heaven knows how many miles.  i have learned about people’s spiritual and personal lives.  i have hiked in the mountains and sailed on boats.  i’ve chopped wood blocks with my bare hands and opened champagne bottles with saber swords. i am what was once politely referred to as a bit “reclusive” but i was thinking as i pass my fifty first birthday and 184th facebook friend meet-up that i was all over that.

where i was at last week when i was a whole lot braver!

but sometimes i think i haven’t become anybody any braver than i was december 31.  this week, my house–which has always served as a “safe” place–came apart.   there was a heavy rainstorm and some of what i think of as the essentials of a home–hot water, power, air conditioning, a working washer and dryer–aren’t happening for me.  instead of making me feel like leaving, i have hunkered down.  isolating myself at exactly a time i shouldn’t.  i’ve been thinking about what’s essential for me and, frankly, air conditioning and a hot shower are very high on that list.  clean clothes would be cool too!

yesterday, i left home to visit f2fb friend #185 michael barth.  he used to work at the community house in winnetka and then he moved to santa cruz, california with his parents.  they had retired and he was working on a degree in forestry.  recently, they made the decision to move back to the chicago area.  michael came with them.  he is a caretaker to them but he has three essentials:  a job, a girlfriend, and an apartment of his own.

i told him i thought a job would have to come first so he could get an apartment and then the girlfriend would magically appear.  unfortunately, jobs in forestry are often meted out on the basis of politics–michael said that he’s gone on a number of interviews where the offer has already been made to someone.  as for an apartment, that’s tough because he serves as a caregiver to his parents although they are graciously offering to pay his rent.  and a girlfriend?  sometimes women don’t understand how necessary the task of caregiving is.

this morning i have scored an appointment with a heating and air conditioning professional.  the plumber is supposed to show up sometime tomorrow or the next day to fix my water heater.   i’ll get my essentials back.  i hope my friend michael gets his.

Thank you for voting!
girlfriend–she’ll give you confidence to tackle the rest 28.57%
job–how are you going to get a girl without a paycheck? 57.14%
apartment. you need your own space! 14.29%

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clean clothes 16.67%
hot shower 16.67%
air conditioning 66.67%

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View This Poll!!!!!in the meantime, santa cruz better watch out–its guardian angel has flown away–

michael barth

michael barth

i have a new man in my life

f2fb friend #186 sonali srinath walks into the bar and EVERYBODY stares.  she wears a pink dress and a smile that makes you feel like someone very gently reached into your chest and replaced your heart with tiny firecrackers.  she’s confident and bold, dainty and mischievous. i hadn’t seen much of her since five years ago when i directed her in a benefit show but i figured she has always been this way.  i didn’t realize that she had been hiding a world of hurt.

pink is the navy blue of india! or at least, that’s what diana vreeland said.

her twenty year marriage broke up and when she thought there would never be another love for her, she found him–the one–on an indian matrimonial website.  he’s a tamil brahmin and they have been married for slightly more than a year.  i am so happy for them both!

however, i have my own new man in my life too–

the new man in my life is named jack

the new man in my life is named jack

jack was given to me by a nonfacebook friend who read about my inability to get anywhere without getting lost along the way.  i am grateful.  i am grateful to all my facebook and nonfacebook friends who have helped me.  today i am also thinking of my gratitude to ben gonzalez, marissa durbin, max tam, and mc kato for creating a page on facebook that’s just for my project.  f2fb is a page that you can like and share.  although i’m still unsure whether like and share mean the same thing as what they meant when we were young and foolish and didn’t have facebook.

the wacky wheelers. . . or wonderful

if you live in new york, you don’t go to the top of the empire state building.  too touristy.  if you are from chicago, you don’t visit the millenium bean, at least not on purpose.  if you’re a resident of los angeles, you don’t go climbing the hollywood sign–although partly, that’s because there’ll be military helicopters jumping on you. in huntsville, which i will visit on august 21-22, i’m sure nobody ever goes to the u.s. space and rocket center.

but the wheeler family, now they take advantage of every bit of excitement they can find in their community. they live large.  i first met sheila wheeler (f2fb #187) when she worked at the community house in winnetka and later, i met lane wheeler (f2fb #188) when he was in the play “the sound of music” with my son eastman.  like many facebook friends, lane’s work as an actor supports his true love–insurance.

lane and sheila wheeler share a love in their life–star.  star wheeler is ten years old and for her, the wheelers will do anything.  including the renaissance faire in bristol, wisconsin.  i drove up on saturday to meet them, using my spiffy new guy, jack the garmin gps.

sheila and lane wheeler–lane is holding his service dragon!

lane is the guy who sends the best holiday emails–it sort of doesn’t feel like any particular holiday has meaning until i get one from him.  so, saturday was the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord but since Lane didn’t send me an email i sort of ignored the holiday.  lane was in costume (as was their daughter star) and sheila was dressed for comfort.  i’ve been invited to decorate the wheeler home for halloween and their house has been featured in several seasonal news stories.  when they go to the renaissance faire, they get there when the gates open and stay until they are shooed out the gates with fireflies to guide them to their car.  they are a jump feet first people.

i am not like them, although i wish i was.  i drove up separately because i was worried that if i had to leave, if i felt too overwhelmed, i’d embarrass them.  i wanted to make sure i had an escape plan.  i really don’t like being guided into my parking space by a dude with a neon yellow flag because it usually means getting out is going to be hellacious.

the people startled me.  some wore t-shirts and baseball caps while others were in full throttle elizabethan garb and they spouted off like they were straight out of the sixteenth century.  although the sixteenth century didn’t have miller lite on tap and port-a-potties.  there were booths selling period costume, tarot readings, jewelry, and souvenirs.  i ended up buying a black leather skirt that i regret now, but a lot less than i would have regretted buying a full length elizabethan gown. . . . all this stuff looked so NORMAL.

Video 99 (2)

Video 99 (2)

the wheelers are the best guides into another world, in this case a really weird wacky world in a wisconsin that purports to be from another time.  they are so laid back that after a while i forgot that i was far away from home and my car was stuck in a muddy field with five thousand other cars blocking its egress.

i tarried too long.  but, as i left, i slipped a little cash to star and told her to pick out a piece of jewelry to remember the day.  i woke up this morning and amongst my emails was a thank you note.  star had picked out a necklace for herself.  she signed her note “star and the wacky wheelers” – me, i think of the wheelers as WONDERFUL!!!

facebook and the cult of friendship

a dr. larry rosen from cal state has just presented a paper which suggests that teenagers who use facebook can become narcissists which is odd because i thought all teenagers were narcissists.  but he says facebook encourages teenagers to think that they can publish anything about themselves.  well, yeah, they do.  rosen also says facebook affects all users, young and old, by giving us stomachaches, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression.  but i think it also lets us keep up with our friends.  and our friends become more important as we get older–

Video 101 (2)

Video 101 (2)

lawrence yolles, f2fb #189, keep up with what’s going on with each other on facebook.  he is also, oddly enough, friends with my son eastman because they both are into drumming.  lawrence buys and sells drums.  eastman plays them (and gets his mom to buy them!).  they share posts and comments about favorite bands and equipment. that’s a nice friendship–lawrence and eastman–that wouldn’t exist between the teenaged narcissist and the sleepless stomachache prone fortysomething if it weren’t for facebook.

you can read all of dr. rosen’s article in the los angeles times–

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-facebook-teens-20110806,0,7575848.story?track=rss&dlvrit=104530

speaking of narcissism, this morning i am doing a photo shoot.  the chicago tribune is planning an article on my f2fb new year’s resolution of meeting all my facebook friends in the course of a year.  they want a picture of me.  here is my advice for looking good in pictures that will be published:

1.  call giselle bundchen and ask her to fill in for you

2.  apply a lot of makeup.  then yell “barnum!” and take off all the makeup.  your skin will be bright pink.  hives, anaphylactic shock, loss of a skin layer?  you decide.

3.  look up.  those wrinkles around your eyes and on your neck won’t be so visible.  but look down your nose because you don’t want to bump into anything.

4.  call giselle again.  be more persuasive.  offer to babysit so that she and tom brady can have a night out.  oh, right, they already have nannies.

i am disqualified from being a theater critic and i worry

on sunday i drove to the steppenwolf theater for a staged reading of the bill thomas elizabeth doyle musical “duo: 1 is 1; 2 is math”.  i was taking with me f2fb friends #190 and 191, naomi koppelman and nicole kupper.

both naomi and nicole had worked with my sons in theater a few short months ago.  okay, maybe a year or two ago.  all right, when we added it up, it became clear that six years had gone by.  in that time, both women had found long term boyfriends, had had children (naomi one, nicole three) and had wrestled with whether to marry (naomi will do so in october, nicole is not so sure).  i thought “wow,  if i only keep up with my friends on facebook, i’m not getting the whole story” — like the fact that nicole’s baby daddy is a musician from ghana.  or that naomi’s fiance is a boat captain.  or that naomi was in tony and tina’s wedding, only the funnest show in chicago theater. or that the economy worried them so much.  well, that last part was an easy one, since EVERYBODY is worried about the economy.

nicole worries that her career has suffered because of having children and a long term relationship!

the play duo was about an older, middle class couple looking back on their marriage.  there was no dance number, there wasn’t any secondary character who steals the show.  there wasn’t much of a plot, as near as i could tell.  just a lot of sondheim-y kind of music–the sort that makes me think “are they offkey?”

naomi was briefly retired from the stage but is auditioning again–i wish her luck!

as i was coming home, i was feeling melancholy about my own failed marriage.  it failed because of me, because i wasn’t as good of a wife as i could have been.  i feel bad about that.  and then i had a wonderful surprise:  my friend from high school, zeeb peterson, had recently contacted me on facebook.  he and his wife beth would be in town.  they parked their van outside my house.  they live in it when they travel and they are always together, sharing the pagan lifestyle and their artwork.   i am very happy for them!

much of the year, the petersons live in this van and drive it around the country promoting their line of fairy furniture and artwork . . . go to feywood.net

i also was quite worried.  a facebook friend i had visited with a week and a half ago had left me a phone message sometime while i slept.  she was worried that a video we had made of her somehow cast her in a bad light.  i wasn’t sure what video she was referring to and i asked her to call me back. i delete anything that people don’t like.  one f2fb friend didn’t want it to be mentioned that she had been a man at one point in our relationship.  and although i think every single person who knows her knows the whole story, i changed mine so that it never happened.  another friend told a funny story about her ex-husband but then decided he might get upset.   so far i haven’t figured out what my friend wants to do–she hasn’t called me back.  but i worried if i have hurt anyone with this project when all i’ve wanted to do was fulfill my new years resolution.

i think nicole was happy after the theater because the show reminded her that she has the talent to create great musicals.  naomi was happy because stephanie hurovitz added her to a general mailing list stephanie sends out with audition notices.  stephanie was happy because naomi was going to set her up with some gentlemen callers.  zeeb and beth were happy because a woman stopped her car next to their van and wanted to buy some of their artwork.  and i was happy because i had seen my friends!

living responsibly includes thinking about the small things

when i was a child, nobody lived responsibly.  i’m not just talking about the three martinis and a cigarette routinely consumed by pregnant women.  or throwing the mcdonald’s bag out to the curb.  or disposable diapers.  or raking the leaves and burning them on the front lawn.  plenty of people were opposed to equal rights for women and even african americans, and the notion of gay marriage?  uh, no.

we watched movies in social studies classes about the dangers of littering and smoking.  then there were boycotts organized against california grapes (out of concern for migrant workers), hershey’s (they sent formula to third world countries which, when mixed with bad water, would hurt children), and different states that wouldn’t pass the equal rights amendment.  celebrities came out of the closet and we learned a new vocabulary of tolerance.

i met f2fb #192 jason glaser as a complete fluke.  he divides his time between new york, chicago, sometimes europe and a lot of time in nicaragua.  he is working on behalf of workers who are developing kidney disease at an alarming rate because of pesticides used in growing sugar cane.  he had a lot to say about why i shouldn’t eat bananas.

why i should not have bananas with my morning cereal

why i should not have bananas with my morning cereal

jason also has some concerns about anything that is based on sugar cane.

yo ho ho no rum

yo ho ho no rum

i try my best, but i think that it’s hard to keep track of what i can do and what i should do.  jason is an admirable friend because he does what should be done.  you can talk to him yourself about how to help the workers in nicaragua — laislafoundation@gmail.com–he’s been involved in lawsuits targeting the big united states corporations that process sugar and that has put himself in danger.  he has sometimes wondered about having some protection and i volunteered to be his body guard, but in the end, he knows that if a company really wants to bring him down, it will.

one of my friends zeeb peterson and his wife beth rosemarie live in a manner that takes very little from the earth and returns much–most of their artwork and furniture is made from found objects and they couldn’t help looking around my yard for things that would be workable.  i think that’s the best kind of recycling and responsibility.  i saw them this week.  i hadn’t seen zeeb for many years–it was a high school reunion!

my friend zeeb and his wife beth live in environmentally and socially aware surroundings–perhaps because of their pagan belief system
zeeb

zeeb

living responsibly includes thinking about the small things

when i was a child, nobody lived responsibly.  i’m not just talking about the three martinis and a cigarette routinely consumed by pregnant women.  or throwing the mcdonald’s bag out to the curb.  or disposable diapers.  or raking the leaves and burning them on the front lawn.  plenty of people were opposed to equal rights for women and even african americans, and the notion of gay marriage?  uh, no.

we watched movies in social studies classes about the dangers of littering and smoking.  then there were boycotts organized against california grapes (out of concern for migrant workers), hershey’s (they sent formula to third world countries which, when mixed with bad water, would hurt children), and different states that wouldn’t pass the equal rights amendment.  celebrities came out of the closet and we learned a new vocabulary of tolerance.

i met f2fb #192 jason glaser as a complete fluke.  he divides his time between new york, chicago, sometimes europe and a lot of time in nicaragua.  he is working on behalf of workers who are developing kidney disease at an alarming rate because of pesticides used in growing sugar cane.  he had a lot to say about why i shouldn’t eat bananas.

why i should not have bananas with my morning cereal

why i should not have bananas with my morning cereal

jason also has some concerns about anything that is based on sugar cane.

yo ho ho no rum

yo ho ho no rum

i try my best, but i think that it’s hard to keep track of what i can do and what i should do.  jason is an admirable friend because he does what should be done.  you can talk to him yourself about how to help the workers in nicaragua — laislafoundation@gmail.com–he’s been involved in lawsuits targeting the big united states corporations that process sugar and that has put himself in danger.  he has sometimes wondered about having some protection and i volunteered to be his body guard, but in the end, he knows that if a company really wants to bring him down, it will.

one of my friends zeeb peterson and his wife beth rosemarie live in a manner that takes very little from the earth and returns much–most of their artwork and furniture is made from found objects and they couldn’t help looking around my yard for things that would be workable.  i think that’s the best kind of recycling and responsibility.  i saw them this week.  i hadn’t seen zeeb for many years–it was a high school reunion!

my friend zeeb and his wife beth live in environmentally and socially aware surroundings–perhaps because of their pagan belief system
zeeb

zeeb

stats for the dog days

f2fb friend #193 cindy dillon can’t drive anywhere in her sidecar without someone wanting to take a picture of her guys with “dog-gles”

december 31, 2010–a new years resolution to meet every facebook friend

december 31, 2009–a new years resolution to lose five pounds

weight on december 31, 2009–138 pounds

possible fate if this new years resolution left uncompleted–will stay at home and eat chocolate, watch movies, and drink white wine until i’m three hundred pounds

friends on december 31, 2010–according to facebook, 325

weight on december 31, 2010–138 pounds

weight on august 12, 2011–140 pounds (okay, what-evs!)

facebook friends i have visited this calendar year–193

facebook friends i will meet before december 31–132

facebook friends i have defriended–1 (gilbert gottfried)

facebook friends who have defriended me–2

facebook friends i had never met before this calendar year–9

facebook friends whom i have never met before and who have made it a condition of meeting them that i come to their home by myself (preferably with a bottle of white wine) –2

facebook friends i might actually not ever meet–at least 2

ativan refills–too many to count

days i wake up and think that this is the stupidest new years resolution ever–223

facebook friends who have asked for complete anonymity–1 (friend #88)

facebook friends who are actually dead–1 (#60 william clark)

facebook friends who are actually cats–1 (#95 nipper castino)

facebook friends who have confided or announced they are or have been in a twelve step program for alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex addiction–24

casinos i have visited during the year–1 and it was omaha and i was horribly overdressed and don’t think i could ever work up an addiction to gambling if it’s going to include slot machines and women with t-shirts announcing “world’s greatest grandma” when i want it to be all rat pack and martinis

airports i like–charlotte, north carolina and laguardia, new york

cities i overused my asthma inhaler in–mexico city, houston, new york

cities where i brought tornadoes–cedar rapids, chapel hill, blue springs, kearney (in kearney i waited out a tornado in a beer locker, that wasn’t so bad!)

times i have flown without either alcohol or ativan in me–once, and i still haven’t cashed in on the bet that made that happen

airline i will never use again–spirit

airline i like–united

facebook friends who have confided that they are or were sleeping with another facebook friend of mine–14

facebook friends who have confessed they have an expired sticker on their car–1 and i totally understand that, i have gotten two tickets because of that

facebook friends who have prayed for me in a laying on of hands–5 and in both the christian and the reiki healing tradition

hospital visits for anxiety attacks this year–2

new skills i have learned from facebook friends–boxing, opening champagne bottles with saber swords, weight lifting, painting fishnet stockings on one’s legs with magic markers, zumba, opera singing, hoisting a main sail

f2fb friend #193 cindy dillon was given her sidecar as a present by her husband–i am not as cute as a dog with “doggles”

facebook friends i have regretted meeting–3

facebook friends who have regretted meeting me and have asked me to delete a post–1 (and i did and we have rescheduled seeing each other)

facebook friends who are relatives–5 (6 if you count ex-wives of ex-husbands)

new years resolution for december 31, 2011–i don’t know but whatever it is, i believe i will accomplish it because i have discovered about myself that i am stubborn and while i will probably never lose the five pounds i will finish what i have started which is something i never thought about myself before.

a f2fb friend who captures the moment when the hard work has already been done!

this year has been like a marathon–and i’m at slightly more than thirteen miles into the 26.2 miles.  there’s a certain amount of pacing, a certain reliance on others to either encourage me or to promise to see me, and there’s the times i just feel like i’m ridiculous.

which i have felt every day except yesterday when the chicago tribune published an article in its sunday supplement about my new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends!  so just this one morning, i woke up and didn’t think “what a ridiculous enterprise!”

i got up early, five a.m. and went downtown to chicago’s rock and roll half marathon.  these athletes have already done the hard work of preparing and training and i wonder if some mornings they have thought about not getting their training done because they have doubted themselves.  today was their day to enjoy the fruits of their hard work.   my day will be december 31, 2010 when i will visit the 325th facebook friend!

Video 3

Video 3

i filmed this while wearing a media pass.  i got it through my f2fb friend #194 rett britt.  rett is a business consultant but he has a wonderful avocation:  he photographs athletes at that moment of triumph, that moment of realizing they’re within reach of their goals.

this is a gal who has trained for this moment for a long time!

unfortunately, the pictures i took didn’t come out.  thank goodness nobody was relying on me.  still, you can see some of the other pictures rett took that morning at:

http://360.io/nhRsyW and  http://360.io/ZpTQqR

patti needs a tim crawford day every week!

f2fb friend #195 patti schmidt is probably the single most consistent family friend to my boys joseph and eastman.  she works at the winnetka community house devising programs to keep children entertained and educated.   when my boys were growing up, they might run into patti four times a week and every year we do the haunted house together!  i am VERY good at spooking little kids.

i wanted so much to go to one of the fantasy dance classes or the little miss tea parties she devises, but she told me that, at 51 years, i was just forty six years too damn old.

instead, we had our toes painted.  she got blue, i did sparkly silver.  i told her about f2fb friend #73 tim crawford who makes once a week a “tim crawford day” with some attention to grooming, car care, relaxation.  with tim, i had a pedicure too–and he suggested that more people should take one day out of seven to totally devote themselves to themselves.

patti lives at her parental home and her mother has alzheimer’s.  her mother’s disease has progressed so much that she doesn’t really recognize her family members and she can’t care for her personal needs.  patti’s devotion–the devotion of the entire family–is predicated and motivated by the memory of all that mom did before.  the care she gave.  the dinners she made.  the sicknesses she nursed her children through.  the time she took to teach patti and her siblings how to tie a shoe, to ride a bike, to weather a first romantic upset.

patti cares for her mother weekday nights after work and also gives up at least one weekend day for fulltime care.  would i do that for my mom?  my mom put me up for adoption when i was three–if she appeared at my doorstep?  maybe.  and that’s a very soft maybe.

patti needs a once a week “tim crawford day”.

Video 4

Video 4

frenchie was the daughter of f2fb friend #99 cristina persico who lost both frenchie and frenchie’s father in the course of one year.  the entrance of the community house has a reminder of the persico family, but also of the entire town’s ability to rally for its citizenry.

i had a great time giggling and gossiping with patti, but i realized that i need to do it more often.  patti gets one hour a day for lunch and sure it’s great to head out for some pampering in her circumstances.  but it’s me who needs it.  i need that friendship.  so i’m making a commitment to seeing patti more often.  if only because OPI sparkle me silver nail polish won’t last forever!

i love the nightlife i’ve got to boogie on the disco . .. .

maybe i don’t like the nightlife.  i’m an early bird special girl.  five o’clock is quite late enough for dinner and pajamas at seven seems de rigeur.  dinner at eight?  what is that all about?

however, i have spent the last three nights out on the town for the purpose of fulfilling my new years resolution to meet all (at the time) 325 facebook friends.

my new years resolution?
don’t rememberdead and gone by februarystill working it!

so tuesday night was baseball–specifically the sox versus the cleveland indians.  i thought baseball was nine innings but these guys were having so much fun that they extended the game to fourteen innings.  at that point, well after one a.m. and as near as i can interpret the action on the field, the two teams shook hands, patted each other’s asses and agreed that the sox won.

wednesday night i went to the wonderbar (650 n. rush) to see lonie walker, but more specifically, my facebook friend f2fb #196 downtown tony brown.  i got there early, which in bar scene is not cool.  being anywhere late, particularly the next day, is cool.  but i saw how lonie and the bad ass company band of which downtown is a member plays when the band outnumbers the audience.  they still rock it as if they were playing for a thousand facebook friends!  after the first set, i bought downtown a few buttery nipples.  it’s a drink, not a condition.  so here i am at downtown’s lunch break–

downtown

downtown

i was careful to explain to the drummer that he was the fourth best drummer in the world–right behind david presser (my stepson who is not a facebook friend but is nonetheless quite wonderful), joseph presser (#61) and eastman presser (#1).  a good drummer is able to play on the third floor and make the ceiling fixtures on the first floor quake.  and give me a migraine.  the drummer from bad ass offered his bona fides.  i said maybe another time.

last night–continuing my string of out of the house nights–i went to a botox party.  it was an event at the elyssian hotel sponsored by a plastic surgeon dr. dayan.  there were a lot of women, many of whom were on their way to auditions for the remake of the movie brazil.  and aestheticians, one of whom applied enough glitter on my eyes that i don’t ever have to do that again.  she was a professional who has several times done kim kardashian–in a makeup way.  she gave me this exclusive–

KIM KARDASHIAN’S BUTT IS NOT REAL!!!  SHE WEARS BUTT PADS!!

this struck me as strange because when i was growing up in the sixties my adoptive mother mrs. patrick was quite unhinged over the fact that i had a butt.  a big butt.  that suggested i was of a “lower” ethnicity.  i did exercises to reduce my butt.  i could have donated my butt to the kardashians!

one gal at the party asked my age.  i said that i was seventy.  she asked how long i had been a patient of the kindly surgeon.  i said that i was on a diet of white wine and glitter and hadn’t yet needed his services.  she agreed that it was a good diet.  because even though there were hors d’oeuvres they were passed about as if all the guests were of an aleutian family on an ice floe about to shove off mom.

the boy scouts arrived and were thrown out.  every documentarian should have an “i was thrown out” moment and i was so proud for them.  but i didn’t forget to have some time with f2fb friend #197 terri wojak.  i didn’t know how i knew her but i think it’s because i’m fifty one and i could be somebody who could benefit from her course on skin care.  it’s only $295 dollars and there’s five weeks of intense training on how to make the best of the epidermis.

terri is the gorgeous one. i’m the gal who just got glitter on her eyelids.

i left the party, mostly because i didn’t know anybody besides terri who needed to talk to the other guests.  and the glitter eye shadow was migrating to my retinas.  i am old.  i don’t mind that.  i was surprised at the frenzy of the party–we want to avoid the aspects of age but we are happier growing old than dying young.  and i was reminded that the previous night i had seen lonie walker and her band–and she wears the grey hair quite proudly beautifully.  please if you are ever in chicago go see her at the wonderbar just to see her beauty.

i have resolved to tell everyone that i’m seventy.  lying upwards about your age gives you a lot of street cred,  and as for showing up at a downtown tony brown concert.  .  . no matter what band he’s fronting, just buy him a buttery nipple.  or stop at the 7-11 before you see him and show him a buttery one!

my audition tape for american airlines

i wasn’t all that ready for a trip to atlanta.  oh, i was packed but there was a thunderstorm and i had pulled a muscle and i didn’t have it in my for the two hour flight to atlanta and the half hour drive to visit f2fb friend #198 dale morgan.

but i got to the airport and settled in for the preflight beer, when i heard the one thing that drives flyers nuts:  cancelled.  i prepared myself.

audition

audition

my little audition didn’t work–the airline has a very intriguing view of geography and to their mind, it made a lot of sense for me to wait three hours, fly to miami, wait another three hours and fly into atlanta.  i thought it would be way nicer to just go home, put on my pajamas, have campbell’s soup for dinner and get a good night’s rest.  tomorrow is another day, and i can try again.

but the airline had booked the flights without telling me or either of the ambitious boy scouts with cameras.  we rolled into atlanta at one thirty and made it to the hampton inn by a very reasonable three thirty.  by four thirty i was asleep.  just an eighteen hour journey.

the only problem with growing old is that the power you had as a kid to fall asleep anywhere is atrophied.  i woke up at seven.  but at least i’m in atlanta.  and timmy?  he’s fine!

almost at the two hundred mark, a southern excursion!

sso, in woodstock, georgia they have a dwarf house. unfortunately, it was a sunday and it was closed.

i don’t know why woodstock, georgia would have a dwarf house, but everything about woodstock was a little surreal.  mostly because i came into town at four thirty in the morning after eighteen hours of being tossed about by the airline like a hacky sack.  who knew that the quickest route to woodstock, georgia was drink beer in the airport lounge for three hours, fly to miami, repeat the beer process, fly to atlanta and then rent a car to drive?

but i love woodstock in particular because i got to see f2fb friend #198 dale morgan.  i went to college with dale back when both of us had long, curly, out of control hair.  he was a philosophy major, i was history.

i felt sort of dopey because i started to tell his kids all about how he won the philosophy major of the year award when we both graduated in 1981.  it turns out i was wrong.  he did not actually win that award although i could have sworn that in june of 1981 we were sitting next to each other in north central college’s auditorium when they announced his name.

he has done very well for himself–a beautiful wife, three children who joined us for lunch (what kid is willing to do that????), and a gorgeous house.  dale was cool in college and he is cool even today.

dale, susan, chelsea, duncan and dylan morgan (oh, and i’m in the back there too!)

then me and the boy scouts got in the car and headed for huntsville, alabama–home to two facebook friends jonathan boyd and samuel scruggs!

199 and what happens when a friend declines?

f2fb friend #199 jonathan boyd grew up with a dream–he wanted to be a commercial pilot.  to be the guy who gets us all where we need to go.  so he went to the air force academy to learn to fly, fulfilling that dream while also serving our country.  he discovered that he has horrific vertigo when he’s at the front of the plane.  the air force asked him to consider working as a navigator which is an even harder job for someone with a tendency towards vertigo.

i didn’t get to the space and rocket museum of huntsville, but this auto supply shop had its own rocket. just as nice!

jonathan was forced to give up his dream.  a lot of people would become bitter.  a lot of people would find it tough to go on.  but jonathan has a quality i admire and wish i had–he’s flexible, he’s sunny in his disposition, and he truly accepts what life gives him.  he’s a genius too, although he’d never admit to it, and our country is lucky to have him working as a project manager in defense work right now in huntsville, alabama.  he took all his skills and all his training into a new direction.  i like that.

we  met because jonathan and i both play online scrabble.  we have a mutual friend, f2fb friend #10 john and 11 alice lafond.  john sometimes challenged both jonathan and me to games.  i always lost.

i had never jonathan met before, but he directed me to the blue plate cafe in huntsville which was just a few miles from the hotel i stayed at.  the boy scouts were there, with their cameras.  they took this shot of jonathan and me.

jonathan is f2fb friend #199! the number is significant as it is a chen and permutable prime as well as a lucas number!

jonathan was mildly disappointed he wasn’t facebook friend number two hundred, and i suppose he has a point because while the number has a lot to recommend itself, it is–within the context of the thue-morse sequence 199 is an odious number.

i thought i was going to meet f2fb friend #200 on this trip.  and that it would happen in huntsville.  because decatur, just a few miles outside of huntsville is the home of samuel scruggs, a facebook friend i have never met.  samuel is the cousin of another facebook friend, f2fb #32 reggie gholston.  i have tried everything to get to see samuel–messages and posts to samuel, calling the phone number listed on his page (it’s out of service) and have asked reggie to intervene.  but samuel won’t respond.

so i gotta ask as i leave huntsville partly with success and partly in defeat.  ..  .

Thank you for voting!
defriend them. friendship is a two way street. 16.67%
create a new category of f2fb friends who are simply m.i.a. 16.67%
call in a bail bondsman 66.67%

miss f2fb #200 welcomes me home!

when the boy scouts and i got to atlanta airport, i was worried that we’d have a repeat of the trip out from chicago–eighteen hours of rerouting, delays and drama.  but then i walked into the airport and saw something that made me realize i’d really be a selfish, spoilt brat to complain about anything.

these guys and gals were being deployed to afghanistan. i am so grateful to them for the sacrifices they and their families make so that i can live in peace

the flight itself was easy and i was looking forward to meeting f2fb friend #200–i feel this to be a huge milestone for me.  the southern trip also represented another strange surprise of this project:  the boy scouts (ben and branden) with their cameras wanted to take a side trip to meet my father justin.  justin was one of my first facebook visits (he’s f2fb friend #30).  there was a lot of drama at the last visit and i was shaking inside when we reached tallahassee.  if he had said i was an idiot, or if he had said nothing whatsoever to me, i wouldn’t have been surprised. instead, i really was shocked–

justin

justin

thank you to the very wonderful cinematographers kyle and caitlin!

in chicago, i grabbed a cab and headed for the university club of chicago where i would meet miss f2fb friend #200 elizabeth stein.  she is a dealer in stradivarius violins and non plus ultra when it comes to chic.  i came to know her because she is a friend of my ex-husband–they are both members of the university club–and indeed my ex-husband was so kind as to make arrangements beforehand to pay for our dinner.

liz greeted me as if i were a william shackleton returning from an adventure.  which was exactly what i felt like.

shackleton’s ship endurance was trapped in the antarctic but he lost none of his men–i went to miami (accidentally), atlanta, tallahassee, and huntsville and we didn’t lose anybody! except we got pulled over by chief j.e. wright of the coolidge, georgia police department. he gave us a courtesy warning.

liz and i dined on the twelfth floor outdoor gallery.  everyone knew her name–every waiter, every busboy, every guest.  because we were next to the balcony railing, i leaned a little towards the building just in case a strong wind should try to blow me overboard–i might have given the appearance of having bad posture.

we talked about beauty, since our meeting started with the language of women friends–”you look great!”  liz is beautiful, but believes she isn’t.  liz believes i’m beautiful, but i don’t share that belief.  we are roughly the same age and we were raised in an era that prized very thin lips (no collagen!), very small ass (kim kardashian? no way!), absolutely no tits and above all, a small nose.  beauty was twiggy–

i so wanted to look like twiggy when i was a kid! liz and i agreed that neither of us was like twiggy!

liz grew up with a lot of pressure to get a nose job.  the patricks who raised me were appalled at my appearance–deciding that my nose, in particular, indicated a possibility that they had been slipped a jewish child by the adoption agency!  a lot of gals our age got their noses changed to the “cheryl tiegs” nose.  no disrespect to ms. tiegs.

liz and i both agreed that our age gives us the right to say “i am exactly who i am”  that’s what this year has been about for me and i hope it’s what miss f2fb #200′s life is about!

i think we judge things and people to be beautiful if we like them. i like miss 200!

f2fb friend #201 teaches me something in time for back to school

a good teacher makes for a good school year.  a bad teacher can destroy a kid.  at the beginning of each school year, i always hoped for a good teacher for joseph and eastman–someone who would believe in them, respect them, and have their respect.  a good teacher means a good year and my boys had that.  except for eastman’s second grade.

mrs. s. was a young teacher, very intelligent, but also possessing of a horrific fault–she didn’t like eastman.  she thought he was very unintelligent.  in a word, she thought he was stupid because he would daydream instead of finishing his math worksheets.  oddly, she was giving him the same worksheets he had been given in kindergarten so he was a maybe bored.  but also, maybe there are teacher-child relationships that are just fraught.

it was a horrific year.  he thought he was stupid.  i started to doubt myself as a mom and to even doubt him.  our one parent-teacher conference ended with him and me in tears and mrs. s. with a smug expression.  i let him stay home way too many days.

f2fb friend #201 julie halpern made that year bearable.  most people know julie as a novelist of some note–in fact, when we met at the steak n’shake for lunch she gave me a first edition of her third book.

julie has also written “get well soon” and “the wild nerd yonder”

julie also had a second career–she worked as an educator in many capacities.  and in eastman’s second grade, she ran a reading group of which eastman was a part.  they read dr. doolittle.  she adored eastman.  he returned those feelings.  she thought eastman was funny.  he thought she was grand.  they were both right!

at the end of a school year, a relationship between teacher and student ends–in mrs. s.’s case she was fired.  she had not liked eastman but she had also not liked a lot of other of her students.  eastman had a different third grade experience although, unfortunately, it didn’t include being in julie’s reading group.  but they met up again when eastman was in eighth grade and julie was assigned to be his advisor.  she was at that point writing her first novel “get well soon” and she trusted him enough to ask him to read the manuscript.  he felt terrifically honored and he put his best effort into reading it.

julie and i met at the steak n’ shake happy hour where from two to four p.m. milkshakes are half priced. why is a happy hour longer than sixty minutes?

eastman was certainly changed by his relationship with julie but one of the surprises in talking to julie was finding out that eastman changed her.  a good teacher makes for a good school year, but sometimes a good student can make for a good year for the teacher.  i felt proud of him and i think every parent should make a point of seeking out a former teacher of their children just so they can hear what happened in the classroom.

however, at the end of lunch, i did not end up with great parental blackmail material.  instead, julie and i decided to get eastman a stuffed animal.  sure, he’s a sophomore at oberlin college, but every boy would like a stuffed animal.  i thought we should aim for a smurf.

julie halpern

julie halpern

i am grateful to julie–and then i had to say goodbye because i had to go auto racing with f2fb friend #202.  yesterday was a very big day!

autobahn in buffalo grove and a setback

brandon lee brown, jillian fox, phil fox and me–there is no way around it, these suits are not flattering!

“IS THAT MZZZZZZZZ ARLYNN??????”

i loved hearing that from mr. fwfb #202′s voice across the parking lot of the http://www.chicagoindoorracing.com/  indoor racing club at buffalo grove.   f2fb #202 phil fox showed up with his beloved bride #f2fb 203  jillian fox!  i had forgotten that phil was the sweet young boy who worked at his family’s stationery shop in winnetka –he sold me school supplies.  every year, parents received a list of baffling items that were necessary:  number two pencils, kleenex in individual packets, post it notes, reams of lined paper.  phil’s family business was to put all those items together and me?  i would just show up and say “eastman has mrs. smith for this year” and they’d have all the school supplies in a bag, ready for purchase.

the fox’s were part of a several generations of winnetka life.  but with walmart, costco, target–it ain’t happening.  but the problem for small towns is that those little businesses, like the fox family stationery store, provide tax revenue.  in addition to putting together the bag of school supplies so you don’t have to sort through the two hundred items your teacher demands in september, they also pay up in taxes.  phil and his father both work now in corporate.

but the evening wasn’t about the death of small town businesses.  it was about racing.  one of the boy scouts filming me took a little time off to race, but he caught this.  oh, shoot, did i really say that to him?????

kickass

kickass

the two foxes (jeez, it’s not hard to consider jokes about their names–i mean, phil and jill???) taught me about http//geocaching.com/

where you find things that people have left for anyone to find.  oh, gosh, it was so exciting!  today i found something in winnetka!  i had to crawl up under the park benches to find it, but i am fearless.

okay, maybe not.  i have had a setback.   i was supposed to go out on saturday night.  i dressed.  i put out the keys.  i gps’ed.  i fucked up.  i decided i had cardiomyopathy but also i had grave doubts about how the new years resolution is working out.  i am 203 friends in and i am uncertain how to continue! i said no and stayed home.  i apologized to the facebook friend who would be mr. 204. he is the most gracious.  i spent the day reevaluating and hiding.  i do a lot of hiding from the world.

but. . . i have zeroed in on booking alaska!  i am so scared!  who knew that i have facebook friend who lives on the cusp of the arctic circle?????

montaigne the original blogger

michel eyquem de montaigne was the original blogger–back in the sixteenth century, he wrote about friendship, cannibalism, why we wear clothes, why sex with an amputee is more pleasurable than with any woman with two legs and two arms.  he wrote a book entitled “essays”.  essayer means to try in french and he was trying to understand his world through blogging–well, writing about himself.

i have been reading montaigne this past week on a three day sabbatical from the f2fb new year’s resolution to meet and spend time with all 325 of my facebook friends that i had on december 31, 2010.

a lot of philosophers, particularly the classical ones, are obsessed with death.  as cicero the roman dude said, “to philosophize is to learn how to die.”  i think of anxiety attacks as moments in which i am utterly aware that i am about to die.

montaigne had a near death experience when he fell off a horse when he was thirty six.  he seemed none the worse for wear and in fact felt a new optimism and spirit because of it.  and he said to hell with the classical dudes–

“if you don’t know how to die, don’t worry:  nature will tell you what to do on the spot, fully and adequately.  she will do this job perfectly for you; don’t bother your head about it.”

i want to be more like montaigne.  or perhaps more like f2fb friend #204 scott rodgers, who captures smiles.

although he’s used to being a photographer you have to admit he’d make a great fashion model!

scott and i know each other because i coached his older son david in soccer.  i coached boys’ soccer for nine years until i figured out that my sons joseph and eastman don’t like sports (although to be fair, joseph boxes and eastman is on the oberlin college bowling team).  scott recently started a new family, becoming a father to two young ones even as david his son goes off to college.  scott is brave in a very montaigne way!  i admire that a lot!

not that fargo

so i could have said anything:  food poisoning, my dog died, car accident, traffic (related), family drama,  sudden call from the president asking for advice on foreign relations.

oh, but there would be 1. no, 2.  don’t have a dog, 3.  uh, didn’t didn’t actually get into a car, 4.  good one, vague, but actually, no, and 5. i’m not sure he needs or wants my advice.

mr. f2fb friend #205 bill wedan was performing in a concert on saturday night.  i prepared.  i was dressed.  keys on the kitchen counter.  mapquest printed out.  jack the gps dude performing back up.

and i thought i can’t.  because i will have a heart attack on the highway, explode spontaneously, anaphylaxic shock, uh oh, it’s the usual stuff i do.  but i gave in.  this year has been about not giving in.  about going out.  doing it.  meeting the friends, seeing the world, getting it all done.

gosh, this is from a party where i met f2fb friend #197 terri wojak for the first time. i should learn to keep my eyes open!

so, i stood up mr. f2fb friend #205 at his concert.  for the first time, i decided to not use an excuse.  instead, i wrote him and said “i’m sorry.  i had a big anxiety attack and there was no way i was going to get out of the house.”

i’ve never thought that somebody could say “okay” to that.

he did.

i’ve had a few rough days but i got out there, and i picked up bill wedan at his home on fargo avenue in chicago.

this is the home bill wedan grew up in and now that his parents have passed, he is in charge

he offered to pick me up at my house for lunch this afternoon.  i decided it was a wrong idea.  i need to go out into the world.  even as far as fargo.  avenue.  but also, i needed to apologize.  he accepted graciously.

i wonder if some of us occasionally (or not so occasionally) make up excuses.  this was one time when i didn’t.

my near death facebook experience

i did not want to go to iowa.  there were clouds.  there was a bad feeling in my chest.  there was an as yet unfinished book of montaigne essays on my bed. there are monsters, ufo’s, snakes, planes and automobiles out there in the world.  staying home seemed just the prudent thing to do.

but f2fb friend #206 had done the most amazing thing–she moved from wyoming to bellevue, iowa.  maybe not specifically to make my new year’s resolution of meeting all my facebook friends easier but who’s to know what motivates people?  in any event, i had to work it to get out of the house.

some of my friends have given me talismans to help me with my travels. f2fb friend #59 is the biographer of william clark, who is my f2fb friend#60. i take this clark doll with me on my travels along with a hedgehog given to me by f2fb friend #110 jeff barnes

i had never met julianne.  but she is an admirer of my facebook friend lanny jones, who is the biographer for william clark.  julianne is a writer of some note and a professor at the university of wyoming.

i packed the car.  i thought about backing out.  of the trip.  of the garage.  i was using a garmin gps system that is a talisman given to me by a nonfacebook friend who has been following my journeys.  the garmin “jack” guided me not along the expected highways but rather on a journey that took through short streets, alleyways, alongside cemeteries, through medical complexes–i made note of many emergency rooms i could have visited–and finally onto a bridge or a part of the road where the rains were swelling a river so profoundly that i was unsure whether i would be washed away.  that’s when i really freaked.  i tried to call my sons.  or text them to say goodbye.  but i couldn’t find my phone.   i did find my flip camera.  warning:  this video shouldn’t be watched unless you watch the next video as well!!!!

last video

last video

so i took one ativan, four zantacs, and eight pepcids.  i waited until someone on the other side of the road/bride crossed through the water.  i proceeded.  i probably freaked out julianne and her husband ron when i arrived because they promptly had me sit on the sofa with archie.

archie is wonderful

archie is wonderful

i tried to persuade archie to take a few training classes, get a blue “service dog” vest and come with me around the world!

julianne and her husband ron have hit the restart button their lives.  while julianne will continue to teach online at the university, they have their feet firmly planted in bellevue.  they only got to town in june but already they’ve made a lot of new friends.  julianne has some ideas about how to make friends, not just facebook friends–

julianne

julianne

julianne gave me a book she wrote — jukeboxes & jackalopes:  a wyoming bar journey.  she had to travel throughout wyoming on business as ron–a renowned artist–photographed the state.  she used the time to hang out in bars (a quite reasonable endeavor) and learn about the individual towns.  oddly, there is much to be learned from a town’s bars.  and other environs.  the couple told me that their new town is very communal in its eating habits.  one could dine out every night of the week at a church social, a kiwani’s fundraiser, an arts council after hours.

the pig roast of the day was preceded by a “polka” mass. i find religious services very cool, even if they’re not of my faith

on my way home, i didn’t rely on the garmin gps.  instead, i thought i would use the atlas.  i ended up veering south towards kentucky and was hopelessly lost.  i plugged the garmin “jack” back in and he reassured me that he could get me home.  i am happy to be here now.  even if i’m packing for montreal.  whoops, these two friends have not been so considerate as to move closer. . . .

i told julianne that i embroidered this and that i had it framed and because i didn’t want to embarrass her with my many talents, i put a tag on the back of the frame that said that an embroidery company had made this. plus a price tag. do you think she believes me?

no drugs, no weapons, maybe one too many pairs of reading glasses and lip gloss

i never thought of canada as the sort of country that engaged in torture and life long imprisonment for tourists.  but it’s a brutal world out there and why should canadians hold back?
i took the boy scouts–ben and brandon–with me to montreal to visit f2fb friends #207 and 208  joe winer and karl thelen.  we flew into albany and rented a car for the drive up north.  now, i would have thought i should just fly directly into montreal but ben persuaded me that montreal’s airport was just like kabul’s–risky and no vending machines.  besides, he had gotten a great deal.
driving up to the border, i had just a moment of mental inventory:
1.  drugs?  just advil, pepcid, zantac, and my prescription ativan
2.  weapons?  uh, blistering sarcasm doesn’t count
3.  contraband?  does lip gloss count?
then we had our midnight express moment–
border (1)

border (1)

jeez, the canadians turn out to be pretty quiet and even a bit apologetic as far as that water boarding goes!  onward to montreal!
moral for me to remember:
1.  no joking with anybody in a uniform
2.  words to avoid besides the obvious drugs, guns, bombs, and terrorist:  cult
3.  antipersperant!  for travel, i’ve been using med e tate by dermadoctor.  it is in packets that i can take on carryon and it really works!

the ex-pats take me to the biodome!

having survived my midnight express border crossing moment, i headed into montreal. i ate poutine at a restaurant while waiting for the ex-pat twins f2fb friends #207 joe winer and #208 karl thelen to be available–joe is a graduate of mcgill university, while karl is set to graduate in december.  joe and karl were members of that incredible band, the strikingly talented ninjaviduals.

poutine is french fries with gravy and cheese curds. it’s usually served with a smoked meat sandwich. i weigh 142 pounds. when i started this new years resolution, i was a slip of a gal at 138.

in montreal, there’s a lot of french language going on.  when you have to slow down on the freeway for construction and then you emerge back into the “anything goes” speed limit, the signs say “fin” which makes me think “damn i’m in a french movie and it’s existential and i’m quite possibly dead”. . . .

the french in montreal are so stylish they even dress their trees.

c’est chic! this was outside the mccord museum in central montreal. i was wearing black (biensur!) but wearing flip flops (mais non!!!!)

karl and joe wanted to take me to the biodome. i thought biodome was a movie with pauly shore.  but, in fact, next to the dome which housed the 1976 summer olympics there is another dome that houses four ecosystems.  there was a rain forest where we saw monkeys, crocodiles, and a strange bird who tried to pull karl’s shoelaces.  then there was the arctic/antarctic, the saint lawrence river, and then there was the northeast canadian forest. . . . this was cheaper than us all taking a road trip to nova scotia –

Video 18

Video 18

karl and i spent a lot of time resetting the language preferences on video displays throughout the museum–everything in quebec drifts to french, although you have an english language option. i get the feeling that when you are at mcgill you don’t necessarily have to learn french.

on the third floor of my house is a space that allows for a thriving, now, talented and LOUD band to play.  joe and karl have often seen me in my pajamas on the third floor announcing “band practice is over, i’ve had quite enough thank you”. . . because they have worked so much with my two sons.  they were very protective of my younger son, f2fb friend #1 eastman, who is a few years younger than they are.  it was a comfort to me to ask karl “you’ll get eastman home safe?” and he always said yes and he was right.  there was, however, the interesting question of what joseph (f2fb friend # 61) was smoking all that time. i got it covered–it was mugwort.  and i’m sorry to say that once when i was cleaning house, i ingested quite a bit of that stuff.  argh.

we said goodbye.  i was so happy that karl was running off to a date with his galpal, joe was winding things down for the night.  the boy scouts and i went to china town.  we ate thai escargot which i would recommend to anybody who gains weight on their new years resolution–you extract the escargot with toothpicks and i got exactly three of those suckers out of there.  ben was great at it.

branden asked that his fried tofu be boxed.  it was.  with sauce.  he put a fork and napkin in the box.  i knew we were going to the hotel.  there would be forks.  no need to take one.  but i didn’t realize–as we left the restaurant, we passed a couple setting up their home on the steps of a local bank.  branden offered them dinner.  they were so happy.  i learned something new about how i will do things.

i will move up your legs until i meet resistance!

as a pick up line, it’ll get you to third base but you ain’t gonna make it to home.  coming from a t.s.a. agent while she’s snapping her blue plastic gloves, it was enough to give me a serious case of the swoons.  i was in a plexiglass cage at the albany airport security gate, with helga (she didn’t have a nametag but i would lay a benjamin down for her being a helga).  four male agents were positioned around the cage.

“i will move up your legs until i meet resistance,”  she said and she crouched before me.  grabbing one of my ankles.

i did what any catholic girl would do, i snapped my knees together.

karl and joe really were a lot of fun! i liked montreal but maybe not the authorities! brandon got a speeding ticket on the way back and is now on a registry for canadian criminals because he refuses to pay the fine. i won’t go back either, except to visit bruce byfield in vancouver

helga’s hands were strong, the fingers seeking flesh that was fecund, lush, malleable.  that’s when she hit third base, just beyond the lace edge of my thong panty.  for those of you who are not up on your lingerie technicalities, a thong panty is a cross between a g-string and a tanga panty.  victoria’s secret puts out an academic journal that serves as a catalog AND an educational tool.

in any event, her fingers flickered just a bit under the lace and i thought, “jeez, this gal hasn’t asked me to dinner, hasn’t told me i’m pretty, or even kissed me!”  after repeating the process on my other leg (did i imagine that she lingered a bit too long?), she said i could go.

truth is i was really shook up.  and i came home to review my run-ins with canadian and american authorities.  i had a serious case of the doubts.  but i couldn’t give in just yet, because i was having lunch with f2fb friend #209 tim smithe.

tim smithe was friends with joseph and eastman all through middle school and high school.  he did plays with them, played in bands with them, and probably got into all sorts of trouble with them that i am blessed to not know about.  but after tim graduated from high school and went to missouri for college, the story faltered.  keeping up with facebook, i was able to get the general drift:  he had a rough patch, he moved out to los angeles, he came back and fell in love, and last i heard he was working at the nordstrom’s ladies shoes department.  now THIS was a f2fb encounter i could appreciate!!!

however, tim has moved on from nordstrom’s.  he works at careerbuilder.com.  he has an apartment in the city.  he has a fabulous girlfriend.   he wears a suit like he owns the city.  we went to the midtown grille and caught up.  i am so happy to know him.

tim’s father and two uncles own walter e smithe furniture company. i respect how tim is making his own way in the world, even though i’m sure the smithe company would love to have him working there!

tim was interested in my new years resolution and asked a lot of questions.  i mentioned that some of my facebook friends whom i meet are going through tough times, particularly when they lose their jobs.  i wondered if tim, as a careerbuilder.com professional, had any advice–

Video 21

Video 21

i was so happy to see tim and he mentioned a way that he has been affected by my facebook project.  he said that sometimes he’s overwhelmed by messages and posts and notifications on facebook and sometimes he says to himself “i’ll get to that message later”.  he’s making a resolution of his own–to follow up more quickly with people.  i admire that!

nothing is worth doing unless it first appears to be impossible!

i should have asked my two facebook friends to shop with me.  because i am invited to be on the rosie o’donnell show and have been instructed to wear a bright color, no prints.   i opened my closet sunday morning and there was a black dress, and another, and another, punctuated by an occasional black skirt.  i think i have been in mourning for my life.

instead of shopping, i went to a brunch at vinci’s on halsted street, right next to the steppenwolf theater.  after brunch was a performance of clybourne park.  the play is about what happens when the first black family moves into a  home in an all white neighborhood and what happens twenty years later when the first white couple proposes to move into the same home.  i believed f2fb friend #210 lynn sanders would enjoy the brunch and the play particularly since the playwright bruce norris would stop in at the brunch and say a few words.

lynn is a playwright who developed a play about artificial insemination of the whooping cranes in beriboo, wisconsin. it inspired me to write a short story. inspiration works in strange ways.

the brunch wasn’t my doing.  it was organized by f2fb friend #211 nabil foster, who is a fellow northwestern law school alum and a partner in a law firm.

nabil is of the ba’hai faith and has a strong sense of social justice. i don’t know how he has time to do everything!

unfortunately, lynn wasn’t feeling well and we ended up coming home before the play was performed.  at least she got a chance to speak with the playwright as well as the artistic director of steppenwolf.  if you want tickets to the play, here’s a link:

http://chicago.metromix.com/theater/theater_event/clybourne-park-sheffield-de-paul/2484838/content

tomorrow, i will write about the taping.  the producer from the show promised me a surprise.  i hope it’s not a snake!

two thirds of the way through this project and this year–it’s time for me to think about what next year’s resolution will be.  to try to lose five pounds?  puh-leeze.  nothing is worth doing if it at first does not appear to be impossible.

what’s your new year’s eve resolution going to be???

you will be assumpted into heaven in a lincoln town car. . .

. . . driven by a man named robert who will call you ma’am. well, at least he called me ma’am.  and he let me change the channel on the radio and turn it up real loud when pink was singing “raise your glass” and let me turn it down when the news came on.

of course, i took my fiance william clark (f2fb friend #60)!

i have mentioned many times over the past nine months my conviction that i will go to hell after i die.  about how anxiety attacks and fear for me are wrapped up in the certainty that this event is happening right now!

but what would it be like if i believed i were going to heaven?  the angel of death came to my house around one o’clock and his name was robert.  he drove me in a lincoln town car down to a television studio.  i was shown into a dressing room where a feast was laid out and two very beautiful producers asked me if i needed anything and told me i was just great.  then a makeup man did my face and a gal did my hair.  because everybody wanted me to look my best.  and then we waited.

when i was told by the stage manager that it was my turn i realized i had almost forgotten why i was in this place.  she led me into the back of a stage area.  i could see through curtains a couple of hundred people.  cameras at every angle.  lights full on the stage with such ferocity that i was sure i would be blinded.  the stage manager told me to go forward, into the arena.  all by myself.  i was afraid but i remembered the letter to the hebrews which scholars believe may have been written by paul, barnabas, apollos, silas, aquila, pricilla or clement of rome.  whoever it was had to be an athlete, possibly in training for a marathon.  because at one point the writer says “where seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with confidence* the race that is set before us.”

i realized my biggest fear was that i would trip in my heels.  i held out my hand.  a very nice person who seemed to be in charge of women who are afraid of tripping in heels took my hand and guided me to a chair next to the chair of a very nice woman who asked me how i was feeling.  i said great.

the cloud of witnesses quieted.  we watched a short video about the f2fb project.  after the video, the woman seated next to me asked some questions.  i realized that everybody wanted me to succeed–from robert the angel town car driver to person in the last row of seats.  there was no accusation in the questions the woman next to me posed.  there was no derision or judgment from the audience.  i had been paralyzed with fear for two days just thinking of this very moment but i had no need of that.  there was a great sense of “this is kind of fun and maybe interesting”. . . . and there were three f2fb friends there as well!  that was the most astonishing part.

paddy seymour (f2fb friend #214), cathy jacobson (213), me, and cindy clohesy (214)  i was so amazed that they were there!

cindy clohesy (f2fb friend #212) is a personal trainer and she had cancelled some client time just to be with me–she’s the brunette with the blue blouse.  cathy jacobson (f2fb friend #213) is wearing pink.  she is on her way to las vegas lucky gal!!!  and paddy seymour (f2fb friend #214) is on the left–she drove home with me.

suddenly, it was over.  the woman beside me shook hands, kissed my cheek and the world was awash with goodbyes and “great segment”!  i think heaven, should i ever be so lucky and blessed, would be a review of one’s life and deeds without the criticism and angst i bring to things.  and then i shall be part of a cloud of witnesses.  i don’t think this “great segment” will ever air but i believe it taught me so much about how silly i am.

i came home and fell asleep well before eight thirty because i had invested so much unnecessary fear and anxiety into the enterprise.  i woke up thinking it was time to start my day, thinking my phone was broken because it said it was only one a.m.  but it really was one a.m.  it was time to drink the last half of the beer i had started at eight fifteen and very quietly, without any cloud of witnesses save for that of angels, think “okay, i can do things i’m afraid of if i ask for help from my friends” . . . .

*some translations use the word “patience”  instead of confidence. what-evs!

the f2fb shakedown and the second death of my fiance

i have often been asked if i understand that it’s a little dangerous to be doing my new years resolution.  meeting friends, yes, but sometimes i am meeting friends whom i have never actually met before.  i often employ a chaperone, for instance, captain reggie gholston has accompanied me on two different trips and i don’t think i could have survived mexico city without him.  when i go around the world, beginning in october, i will have two chaperones–dennis sears and my son joseph presser.  closer to home, i use murphy quite a bit.  murphy drives me to a public location and we agree upon a return time.  he will call a half hour before the return time.  if  i don’t answer, he knows to show up and find me.  he also knows exactly who i am meeting.  i want to protect myself physically.

yesterday, i was made aware of a second danger with this project.  i made contact with a facebook friend i haven’t seen in over a quarter century.  i indicated i would be traveling to her country and she said i was to bring her a present:  a mac computer. she has recently moved from america to a remote area of a third world country and is working as a teacher at a university.  her mac broke and the university’s computers are sometimes slow.  i worry both about the cost and about transporting it.  i asked murphy about what i should do.

murphy

murphy

and now i ask you:

mac computer in exchange for meeting, what should i do?
buy it, bring it, deduct it as a business expense.defriendsay no and see if she refuses to meet with you

in other f2fb news, i have made no secret of my engagement to f2fb friend #60 captain william clark.

william clark is an american explorer who died in 1838. he is best known for the exploration of the expedition of 1803-1806 of the louisiana purchase

lanny jones, a f2fb friend 59, has written a day by day account of clark’s adventures on a facebook profile for clark.  i have made friends with mr. clark, who is exceedingly popular (900 or so friends) and have also become engaged to him. . .

this is a william clark doll that i take everywhere with me! it was a gift from facebook fiance mr. clark

facebook has deactivated mr. clark’s account–a second death–because lanny is unable to provide a real first and last name.  impersonating someone on facebook is strictly prohibited.  this is sad news because i have several friends who aren’t exactly of the material world. . . . . and also sad because if my fiance is deactivated to whom do i return the engagement ring?

a massive apology and that trigger for self-destruction. . .

i have been laying out money for tix and lodging for the international leg of my facebook new year’s resolution.  i am very nearly broke but i believe i can do this.  still, i have spent a lot of nights worried about money and logistics.

i have been sending out messages to the phillippines, mumbai, korea, taiwan, uae, and other places confirming that people will be where they say they are.  then i received a message from one facebook friend whom i have not seen in a quarter century.  we have been facebook friends for about two years.

in two separate messages, she indicated she wanted me to buy and bring to her a computer.  she is an american working at a university in a country that would be seven stops into the trip.  i had two concerns:  a) money because i am on such a tight budget, and b) transporting this computer.   as to the latter, i was concerned about dropping it, having it stolen, having it get lost at on of the seven airports, or–after my experience with the canadians, i really freaked–having a border or customs official ask me why i was carrying my own computer and a brand spanking new computer.  was i transporting something for somebody else?  off to guantanamo!

i considered that if i could solve (a) money i could ship the computer.  i also wondered if this meant that if i got into the country where she was living (an eight hour flight from the previous stop together with a nine hour train ride) and i DIDNT have the computer, would she refuse to see me.

and this is where facebook (and all virtual and epistolary) relations get into trouble.  i posted about the dilemma yesterday, including a video of murphy my friend with a car who said “don’t do the computer, let me drive you to arkansas to visit one of your facebook friends” within hours had an angry message from the friend.  well, ex-friend–she has defriended me and blocked me so that i can’t even send her an apology and i owe her one:  i was wrong.

she wanted me to purchase the computer, yes, and to transport it, true.  but she intended to pay me back for the cost of the computer.  i didn’t get that last part.  she is quite rightly offended and she made some attendant comments about my project, my personality, and the unforgivable nature of what i had done.

this is something i use for self-destruction. i wanted to put on my pajamas, bolt the doors, turn off the phone and watch movies on hulu.com while drinking this. until i passed out!

sometimes i think amy winehouse got exactly what she was aiming for, which is what i felt like aiming for–oblivion.  just so i don’t have to be me anymore.  just so i don’t have to feel the self-loathing anymore. i didn’t do it, although i know i have to watch myself for a few days to make sure the memory doesn’t trigger a trip to the grocery store liquor aisle.

and so i shoot out into the internet, knowing that i can’t do it through facebook, an unrestrained apology that i know will not be accepted and i will be unforgiven.

prepared for awkward and quite possibly dangerous –

vince is an inventor and he created an app that disables the flash on a camera if it’s within two feet. i should have snuck up behind these these two!

there have been a number of facebook friends i’ve met this year whom i have only known online.  there will be plenty more.  scrabble buddies, fans of my grandfather fritz leiber, friends of friends, friends of the now secondarily deceased and deactivated william clark.  but in the case of f2fb friends #216 vince vierra and #216 mary panek, i didn’t even know how we became friends.

so i went to edison park on the northwest side of chicago prepared for awkward and quite possibly dangerous.  so i created my safetguards–i told murphy (my friend who drives) to drop me off and to remember where i was and to text me in an hour and a half to make sure i was okay.  i also brought a chaperone who prefers not to be identified.

i knew this about vince and mary.  vince is an inventor and has been part of energylords.com.  he also sells poker games to bars, so i don’t think i’ll ever work up the courage to play a game with him.  mary panek is a survivor of a brutal attack several years ago at her workplace–just this past july, she had a section of her vertebrae replaced with steel.  she and he are, well, in facebook language–in a relationship.

vince and i have only two mutual friends, one being mary and the other a newscaster steve sanders from wgn.  i once called steve “sweetpea” on camera.  . . . http://www.wgntv.com/news/middaynews/wgntv-midday-fix-arlynn-leiber-presser,0,6926695.story . . . argh.  steve is f2fb friend #19 and lives down the street from me.  but steve never mentioned having a friend vince.  on the other hand, being a newscaster makes you very popular.  steve sanders has 4225 friends.  he could be forgiven for not necessarily being in touch with every friend.

i wasn’t quite sure what vince would look like.  and mary’s profile picture looked suspiciously like kate winslet.  as i would later find out, even though mary has a resemblance to kate, the picture mary uses on her profile page IS actually kate winslet.

the duo came into the restaurant a few minutes after i did, and somehow, it felt like we were old buddies.  we shared a pizza, some stories, and quite a bit of laughter.  it felt like a blind date, but one that was set up by facebook and which didn’t have the specter of worrying about where this relationship is going.  i am so happy to call vince and mary my “more than facebook” friends–they are exactly the reason for my new year’s resolution!

never leave your flip camera with your friends. . .

. . .  while you visit the ladies’ room.  you’ll be so surprised when you get home and download everything!

i went to pinstripes, a bocce and bowling emporium, with f2fb friend #217 nicole fleming.  i thought nicole lived in naperville.  i kept suggesting things to do in naperville–miniature golf, manicures, walks through north central college’s campus–and nicole always demurred.  i thought she didn’t like me.  turns out she lives in schaumburg now and she’s made some changes in her life.  a new job, a new place, a new beau.  LOVE has come into nicole’s life.

it had been an astonishing full year since we have seen each other and that’s the sort of one eighty that can happen in our friend’s lives and we can try to keep track of the status updates and emails but it’s not like playing a game of bocce on a saturday afternoon with a cold brewski.  we were joined by our mutual friends f2fb friend #18 and 20 susan vaughn grooters and charles seymour.  then i had to, ahem, powder my nose.  i left the flip camera on the table. . .

okay, do i REALLY come off that way?

okay, do i REALLY come off that way?

nicole has the glow of a woman in love.  or at least great like or great lust or great something.  whatever it is, she looks wonderful and we had a great afternoon catching up.  unfortunately, as a duo, nicole and i couldn’t catch up to susan and charles, who won all but one round.

bocce is one sport you can play in heels and a little black dress. perfect for me!

bocce is one sport you can play in heels and a little black dress.  perfect for me!

medieval times is in schaumburg.  had i known that nicole lives there, i would have suggested it.  nothing like a turkey leg, pepsi in a paper cup, roar of the horse manure and the smell of the crowd.  but bocce is great for the genteel.

it was a wonderful afternoon.  i was sorry to say goodbye.  but i had to run off to see f2fb friend #218 rachel davis.  rachel had produced the movie “the misanthrop” which was directed by my f2fb friend #151 allen colombo.  eastman, my son and incidentally my very first facebook friend, was in fourth grade and played the lead’s best friend.  i very nearly made rachel faint when i explained that eastman is now in college.  nothing like hearing about kids now running the world to make you feel old.

i haven’t seen rachel in close to eight years.  she has married.  and just now is in the process of getting divorced.  she is in school to get her master’s in special education.  just like nicole, she has the glow–

this is how you know it’s love!

this is how you know it’s love!

but we were rushing, because we had to meet the first and second mrs. sickles* to see a play very aptly titled–

yeah, this play is about love but it’s set in an airport. the “i’m scared of flying” song scared the daylights out of me! go to questensemble.org for more info!

*to my surprise, it would be the first time the two mrs. sickles had ever met!

the first mrs. sickles and the second mrs. sickles finally meet

i am pretty good friends with f2fb friend #164 carole smith, who is the first ex-wife of my ex-husband so i figured why couldn’t the two former mrs. sickles meet?

mr. sickles is, not to put too fine a point on it, quite dead.  but he figured prominently in a play i wrote called “murder on lafayette square”. . .  which was about that one time daniel sickles murdered attorney general philip barton key who was, well, schtupping mrs. sickles.

after being found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity sickles went on to serve as a general during the civil war. at gettysburg, a cannonball shot through his leg. he donated the leg and the ball to the walter reed museum in washington

the two actresses who played mrs. sickles actually had never met.  we got together to watch the play enter love.  f2fb friend #219 heather mingo and f2fb fiend #220 genevieve lally-knuth are both actresses and they have a lot of projects going on.  heather has a web series.  genevieve is presently working as a puppetmaster.

after the play we went to nearby hamburger mary’s to get something to eat.  but then there was a problem:  genevieve was nine days into a master cleanse.  she drinks a concoction of water, lemon juice, honey and cayenne pepper.  this is the same diet as beyonce, gwen stefani and other stars have used.  i wondered if i should warn genevieve that she might have her own line of designer clothes and several of her most treasured secrets aired on tmz.com–although maybe the diet doesn’t CAUSE that.

breaking the fast

breaking the fast

the four of us (genevieve brought her boyfriend rok) talked about travel, about art, about the play we had seen.  enter love purported to be about love in modern times.  it was set in an airport bar (i am spending a lot of time this year waiting for flights in airport bars)  and there was a song about fear of flying.  oh, what a rush of feelings that song gave me.  i think i have to find that hypnosis dvd because in two weeks, i’ll be flying into alaska to visit two facebook friends who live on opposite sides of the state.  and alaska has a lot of state for a plane to cover!

heather flight advice

heather flight advice

i got up to say goodbye, but i wanted to take one last picture–it was a lovely afternoon!

heather, rok, and genevieve–heather has invented a shoe that can be worn with or without a heel. rok and genevieve are heading for costa rica where they first met!

all i’ve got on this facebook friend is that i can drive!

it’s good to be fifty one.  first off, everybody lies about their age so much that whenever i ‘fess to fifty one i get the “no way” eyes.  that’s good.  second, i don’t have to prove anything–i’ve already raised the kids, there’s no major felony convictions, and if i’m not using a walker, i get bonus points. third, there’s this magazine–aarp–that i’ve suddenly got a free subscription to.

ure, the flesh is a little weaker, squishier, there’s lumps where there should be ba-dumps, and i have to rule out some cherished dreams–earlier this year, i learned that becoming a professional boxer is just not going to happen.

but sometimes i feel like reversing my digits.  i love glee.  i wear glitter nail polish–and eye shadow.  i sometimes wear pink highlights although right now i have feathers.  i listen to snow patrol.  i text so much that jay, my verizon dude, says i need the children’s plan.

yesterday, i g0t to see my youngest facebook friend–fifteen with a driver’s permit–and all i want to say is “you’re beautiful just exactly as you are and please enjoy the ride!”  f2fb friend #221 lizzy donahue lives down the street from me.

adorable, funny, smart–ah, my facebook friend lizzy has it all!

lizzy came over and we talked about this weekend–it’s homecoming!  she has great plans and she showed me a picture of her dress on her cell phone.  i was a little scandalized but my only piece of advice was don’t slouch.

then she said she wanted to help me with a pressing problem:  right after i come back from alaska, i’ll be heading out for an around the world facebook odyssey.  i need to brush up on my language skills.  lizzy said “just smile, everybody understands a smile!”

me and bear

me and bear

we then went to see f2fb friend #222 the winnetka youth organization.  otherwise known as the YO!  it’s in the basement of the community house and it is where i have spent many a friday evening pretending to be too cool to scream with delight when one of my sons played.  wyo director elizabeth fales is new to the place–they’ve recently had a complete turnover in staff–but she was game for air hockey.  i lost badly and the video lizzy made of me playing air hockey had, ahem, technical difficulties.  i think it’s weird that i can be facebook friends with a nonprofit organization.  and it’s even weirder that i would lose at air hockey.

wyo

wyo

when did the word friend stop meaning friend?

that is not actually f2fb friend #223 mary’s porsche. it’s not mine either. but a porsche is a nice background!

when i first joined facebook, i was just a girl who couldn’t say no.  if someone friendship requested, i said yes.  i figured they had a good reason.  or i was popular.  or i would be rude to say no.  i was, to not put too fine a point on it, a facebook slut.

i was friends with f2fb friend #223 mary knudson before there was facebook and will be friends after facebook fatigue sets in.  we worked together on a pta benefit but hadn’t seen each other face to face for close to two years.  it was fun to sit down and gab.  we both coped to misunderstanding the word “friend” in the facebook sense.  your facebook friends list very often is just a phone book of everyone you’ve ever met.  your personal friends list is entirely different.

after a lovely lunch (thank you mary!) i walked home and ran into a friend with whom i was once facebook friends.  i think she defriended me.  and this is what she had to say and you won’t believe what i said out loud.  but with great affection.

a great attitude about facebook

a great attitude about facebook

i wish the lady in the van hadn’t stopped to ask for directions because this was getting pretty interesting!

Najpiękniejsze panny młodej na świecie

the day started a little early, two a.m. with a text message telling me that i had to delete a post from early july.  my facebook friend had finally read about himself.  there was no picture, no video in the post about him–we had seen each other for less than ten minutes because he had been ill and unable to spend any time with me.  i’ve had people say “don’t use that video”  or “i’m about to tell you something, don’t blog about it” and i always honor that.  i revise for people who send me an email telling me i misspelled their favorite charity or could i not use that picture and could i reword that wonderful story they shared about their ex-husband. . .

then there was the second text.

i got up and checked facebook.  there was a message.  everything, my entire blog, it said, had to be deleted.  now.  i was puzzled.  i didn’t think i had said anything bad about him.  and most importantly, events that occur in my life are things i can write about–his suggestion that everything first must be approved by him seemed weird.  pictures, video, i understand maybe wanting to have ownership–but my experience of my interaction with him?  if i  worked by his logic, i don’t have 325 friends i have 325 editors.  i went back to sleep.  i’d delete everything as a favor to the friend when i woke up.  which i did, but not before reading more texts from him–so many that my phone squeaked that if i wanted any further texts from this friend, i’d have to reply.  which i was scared of doing.  all of a sudden, winnetka didn’t feel safe.  then a phone message.  more of the same.  what if this facebook friend got on a plane to chicago and confronted me?

my general bodyguard in the world–grzegorz krwaczyk–was getting married and i couldn’t call him for advice or muscle.  but i figured–what would he do?  and i think his advice would be “don’t call back, delete all identifying references in the post from three months back, and don’t reply to texts, defriend him, block him, now.”  so i did.

who controls an interaction between friends?  who is the person who has veto power over any public disclosure?

we meet for coffee. i blog about it. you know i’m going to blog about it.
you must run the blog past me before you post it!hey, i watch my language. i know everything’s public!no pics, no videos, no probs

up until i ended up at st. hedwig’s church i was getting missives that i thought i should not respond to.  i had deleted everything.  but there was still a concern on my facebook friend’s part that google still listed our interaction.  if he googled his name, he would still show up as one of my facebook friends.  short of buying the google company, what could i do?

the most beautiful bride in the world, dorothy, f2fb friend #225 arrives at the church!

great thing about having converted to catholicism–i can keep up with when i’m supposed to kneel, when i’m supposed to stand and when i’m supposed to say “go cubs go!”

my facebook friend #225 is dorothy bloniarz but now she’s mrs. gzregorz krawczyck.  my spelling is always off.  i’ve known greg (americanized version of his name) for ten years.  and i’ll be damned if i understand how many zzzz’s go into his name.  the wedding was at st. hedgwig’s church and the reception in a fantasy palace far away.  it could have been on the moon and the guests were like astronauts!

mr. and mrs. krawczyk

mr. and mrs. krawczyk

i might not have understood polish before the wedding, but i understood polish by the end of the toast!  then we sat down to a beautiful meal.  i was so enchanted by this place i do not want to leave.  but i have to get to ohio by wednesday and michigan by thursday.  i have booked the international leg of the journey and will publish it.  the newly wed mr. and mrs. krawczyk hope to meet me on one of the asian legs of the journey.  i am scared but then when am i not?  maybe not when i’m taking my polish immersion lessons. . . with champagne!  so to the newlyweds. . .

wielu lat w szczęściu i nagród!

just before dinner, a polish love song

just before dinner, a polish love song

in the final countdown of this new year’s resolution

the first step in any great adventure is to make your goal:  finding the new world, touching down on the moon, making your first million, winning an oscar, meeting all your facebook friends.  that which doesn’t not seem impossible is not worth doing.  make that resolution and then tell EVERYONE you know exactly what you’re up to.  the modern way to do that is tweet but i am not a twitter, i posted on facebook.  which makes sense since my goal was to meet every one of my 325 facebook friends.  think about how grand it’s all going to be when you’re a big success!

damn, queen isabella just gave me the dough to take three boats and head west! gotta change my relationship status from single to “it’s complicated”

the second step in any great adventure is to wake up the next morning with a great sense of the “take it backs”.  no, you can’t take it back.  it felt wonderful thinking about success, but it’s okay to spend a few days huddling up under the covers hoping all your friends and frenemies have forgotten all about this.  they haven’t.

the third step is just a baby step.  in my case, it was hauling my son eastman (facebook friend number one!) out onto the front porch.  we smoked a cigarette together.  we talked for a while.  i posted a blog.  i posted a video.  i thought “okay, just 324 to go!”  and that’s exactly what you need to do:  clip a coupon and put aside a buck fifty for that million, leaf through style magazine and decide on the designer of the gown you’re going to wear on oscar night, or maybe take a tour of the huntsville, alabama rocket museum for inspiration.

the first step to a successful oscar win when you’ve never done anything more ambitious than a christmas pageant is to pick out your gown. maybe write your acceptance speech.

the fourth step, take a step just a little more ambitious than the baby step.  repeat as necessary.

i had a massive anxiety/asthma attack waiting to meet f2fb friend #225 larry rieger. i didn’t say it was going to get easier, but larry was so sweet and interesting that it turned out all right! he also gave me a cd of beautiful music he plays and some of which he composed

you’ll have cheerleaders–cling to them.  you’ll have doubters–smile because one day they will clap you on the back and say “i always knew you had it in you”.  and if you wake up every morning thinking “what the hell am i doing?”  well, i just hope that doesn’t happen to you.

why isn’t there a defriend option for bad habits

why isn’t there a defriend option for bad habits

but what do i know?  wait until december 31, i guess.  in the meantime, a rough itinerary:

sunday october 23, leaving for south korea, will arrive at four o’clock in the afternoon on the twenty fourth.  hello john chie!!!

monday the twenty fifth leave at eleven o’clock for taiwan to see warner sills.

wednesday the twenty sixth reach manila by nine thirty in the morning to meet mark bitanga del rosario and his family.

thursday october 27 head out for malaysia and after a layover hit mumbai at eight in the evening to see anto prashanth and rahul guru

saturday the twenty ninth fly from mumbai to dubai for a day with cecelia gigiolio

sunday the thirtieth fly into rome to see alessandro cerea and federico cenci

tuesday november first, fly into dusseldorf and take a bus to dortmund to see claudia klose

wednesday november 2 fly into luten which is a suburb of london and over the course of the next six days track down brandon brown, anna brooke and mark jonathan cage before heading home on the ninth!

and then i still have the entire northwestern quadrant (oregon, washington and vancouver) as well as another hit on los angeles and new york. . .

if i finish all this, then i guess i’ll be able to make an even more ambitious goal for next year–if it’s only going to be one, i’ll make it world peace.  if i do two resolutions, it’s going to be world peace and one hundred million dollars.  if i do three resolutions, sure, that world peace thing, but definitely one hundred million dollars and a house by the sea.  four resolutions, and i figure world peace can take care of itself, but i want the one hundred million. . . .

als and my facebook friend’s mission

traveling for f2fb to meet all my friends, i went to get some shots. today i am so swelled up my bones hurt

so i look a little funny today, bruised and swollen.  it’s either the hepatitis a or b or c or the typhus stuff or maybe the japanese encephalitis shot. all these vaccines.  in any event, my next big hurdle is the indian consulate to get a visa.  travel is complicated.

some facebook friends have taught me things this year–boxing, karate chops, cracking open champagne bottles with saber swords, zumba, yoga, reiki healing.  but sometimes a f2fb friend teaches me to realize just how lucky i am.  f2fb friend #226 carla straetan vorhees had a story she wanted to share with me.

although most people believe yankees first basemen lou gehrig died of als in 1941, some believe he suffered extensive brain damage from his years in the field.

carla has been spurred by her brother’s death to do all in her power to make sure that a cure is found for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

i came away from spending time with carla feeling like i admired her even more.  and it made me think that i need to spend more time thinking about how blessed i am.  i called both my sons and even though i didn’t go all maudlin on them, i definitely reminded them that i love them.

i reach the 73.6% mark at the beginning of the fourth quarter. . .

“is it time?”  i asked at the beginning of every september as the winnetka police department put out the “drive safely, no, really, we mean it this time because the kids are back in school and nobody around here teaches their kids to look both ways” signs.

“no,”  eastman would say firmly.

“is it time?”  i would ask when winnetka matrons would put winter cabbage and mums in their front porch urns and caribou coffee announced pumpkin lattes and pumpkin mochas and pumpkin tea.

“no,” joseph would say.

“is it time?”  i would ask when i ripped the scribbled over september sheet of the family calendar from the refrigerator.

“all right, fine, whatever,”  the boys would say.

and i would put up the halloween decorations:  skulls hanging from the trees surrounding our house.  tenacious spider webs that would cling until the first hard spring rain.  a giant spider that had to be blown up and plugged in and held down with tent stakes and it would still roll over into the street.  and my costume for the big day?  i should use the plural, because i don’t like to limit myself to just one.

but this year, no halloween for me.  october has become the month of the final sprint towards a number–325.  i made a new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends and i am now, ahem, ready to meet up with the 229th friend tomorrow.  i am 73.6% towards my goal, which puts me at 1.4% short of being on target.  i’m feeling the pressure.  on the other hand, most of my new years resolutions of old–losing weight, giving up drinking, cleaning out every closet in this house–are usually forgotten by february.  so missing halloween will be a small sacrifice–i’ll be in dubai when the big day happens and i can assure you i will not be regaling the good citizens of that country with accounts of goblins and ghosts and obama costumes.

at the beginning of the weekend, i saw f2fb friend #226 tom seymour.  he was a stage manager who saved a play i was working on.  tom often posts lines from movies.  the words seem utterly random until you figure out that it’s a movie line and you think “what movie?”  and the reptilian part of your brain thinks it through and four hours later, you respond with another quote from the same movie.

he generally works as a property manager and october first means the day that people get their keys and move into the apartments he manages.  it took a little persuading to get him to take the evening before the first to see me, but his brother charlie (f2fb friend #20) hosted a dinner party which, oddly enough, was comprised almost exclusively of facebook friends i have already visited with.  it was fun to review the year, to catch up with people, to do this in a relaxed manner that a christmas dinner party would not quite allow.

tom is a smoker and he invited me to join him.  i  realized it’s been a long time since i went out onto the front porch with my son eastman (f2fb friend #1) and smoked a cigarette and made a video and thought “i just have to do this 324 more times and i’ll be a success!”.

tom seymour

tom seymour

the next morning, i met two f2fb friends.  they live together.  both of them are intensely shy.  one of them is dealing with an internet stalker.  i have had some experience with stalking and it’s awful.   i went to a third friend who is related to both of them.  she made a ruling:  i would acknowledge that i have met f2fb friends #227 and 228 and i could use a picture i took outside their home.  then i realized the picture showed the license plate of their car.  because of the stalker, i decided to forego the picture.

three quarters of the way into the year, travel arrangements secure, money tight but i’m holding firm, joseph has agreed to come with me around the world–i have only to battle the ghosts and goblins that every resolve entails:  self-doubt, self-loathing, taking the criticisms of friends and strangers to heart, faltering determination.  always i have turned to my friends for help.  i have no doubts about them.   i believe everything can be done so long as one turns to one’s friends for help.  i am grateful.

Thank you for voting!
make a million dollars 28.57%
lose the weight you’ve gained this year and more! 14.29%
give back to the world with some major charity work 57.14%

and then i found out my relationship with elmore leonard isn’t quite as intimate as all that

at the beginning of the week, i thought i had stalled at my new year’s resolution to meet all 325 facebook friends i had.  i’ve since made other, newer friends.  and i’ve had all sorts of adventures utterly unrelated to facebook.  but wednesday, i got back on the road–driving out to ohio to visit eastman (f2fb friend #1) and to try for the fifth time to see a facebook friend i have never met in cleveland.  i failed at the latter, but succeeded at the former.  then i struck northwest towards royal oak, where i met f2fb friend #230 john s. schultz.  it was particularly good to see him because i felt like i was recovering my resolution, recovering my self-respect, recovering my confidence.

i have never met john but he was quite hospitable and directed me to his office in central royal oak.

john is a lifelong journalist, working in detroit and in royal oak. the hour detroit magazine is home to hour magazine, michigan bride, and dbusiness which john is managing editor

john is a natural storyteller.  over a meal of thai food, he told me about growing up as a navy brat and his early years at a detroit paper.  in royal oak, he had a “stop the presses” moment when father charles coughlin died.  john advised the presses be stopped but was overruled by a senior editor. the next day, the detroit papers scooped the story!

father coughlin was the rush limbaugh of the thirties, and he had a radio show out of royal oak that was so popular a separate post office to handle fan mail had to be built. he died in 1979 after withdrawing from public life.

john once worked at a paper where the exterior window looked directly into the apartment of jack “dr. death” kevorkian, who was known for helping people commit suicide.  john and jack had a “hey, nice day today” passing acquaintance and then one day john came to work and the place was mobbed with reporters trying to get an interview with jack.  talking about the right to die and religion led us to a deeper conversation about our own families and lives.  i felt like i was talking with an old friend.  he and his wife have three daughters, the first of which died of a brain tumor at the age of three months.  i was really touched that he was able to show me pictures of all three girls–he keeps them in his wallet, one photo of an infant, the other two of twentysomethings with winning smiles.  i cannot imagine the courage to have a child, to try again, after such a painful loss.  i admire john.

he also told me not to sweat the small stuff, such as when eastman started off my f2fb new year’s with smoking cigarettes on the front porch together.  there are worse things. . .  and john should know, as he quit smoking more than half a century ago. . .

john schultz makes my son eastman look like a late bloomer!

john schultz makes my son eastman look like a late bloomer!

john and i know each other through arcadia publishing.  i’ve done arcadia regional histories of northfield and winnetka,illinois as well as kearney, missouri.  john, along with maureen mcdonald, wrote a history of royal oak. . .

the combined populations of kearney, northfield and winnetka is under 20,000. royal oak boasts 60,000 residents. you do the math on our respective sales!

i’m very glad i got to meet john in person because i learned about who he is not just the bits and pieces that a facebook news feed gives me.  he wished me luck on this project and i wished him luck as he tries to figure out what he will do as a next project–because he’s such a committed creative thinker there’s always got to be a next one!

after lunch, i discovered i had a parking ticket.  i thought i’d leave it.  forget the laws of royal oak.  but john was such a gentleman, he paid the ticket.  probably so nobody in royal oak will think he’s friends with a scofflaw!  then i drove, eight hours because i hit chicago rush hour traffic, so i could see f2fb friend #231 before the sundown of yom kippur!

i had to give up on seeing elmore leonard in detroit.  i became elmore leonard’s friend when elmore leonard still had a friends page.  we had a mutual friend, mystery writer and f2fb friend #7 libby hellman.  then he got a lot more friends.  and presto! since january 1, facebook turned some friends, me included, into fans.  there’s 17,119 of us.  i think that means elmore leonard is not going to be a f2fb friend!

the worst thing i ever did to a facebook friend. . .

. . . turns out maybe to be just chill!

winnetka, where i live, is a very small town and everyone knows everyone.  or they think they do.  and everyone knows the “appropriate” way of doing things.  or they think they do.  inappropriate is what you call anything your neighbors do that you don’t like.

i was at a gathering a few months ago and a woman told me that f2fb friend #231 maureen noble’s daughter was going away to boarding school.  the woman said “boarding school” in that sweet and sour voice that suggests maureen’s daughter had “failed” at new trier high school but that the woman was too discreet to actually say so.

new trier high school is  highly competitive school.  all students are in the 99 percentile–grades, friends, sports, music, theater.  if they’re not or if they’re not in any percentil whatsoever, well, something’s amiss.  when joseph was a freshman, i received a “1%” letter from a band director who wanted joseph out of band because joseph’s playing was not at a national competition level.  as a freshman.  first semester.  get him out of my class.   now.  i succumbed and signed off on letting him drop out of band.  i think of it as one of the worst parenting decisions i’ve ever made.

the woman at this party continued. . . “the worst thing you ever did to maureen noble and her family was to cast maureen as the lead in the p.t.a. benefit show.  it distracted maureen, pulled the family apart, it was . . .  inappropriate. . . and the daughter suffered.  now she’s . .. in boarding school.”

the word inappropriate is a good way of shutting down the conversation or expressing disapproval in a vague enough way that it’s hard to dispute

i was stunned.  i felt guilty.  four short years ago, i was asked to write and direct a p.t.a. benefit show and i thought it had turned out okay.  i remember thinking that maureen was a great star, an incredible singer, and so enthusiastic as a newcomer to winnetka!  now i was being told “you’re a fuck up” and worse, “you fucked up somebody else’s house”.

so i was a little concerned when i emailed maureen on her birthday to say “hey, i’m doing this facebook project where i’m going to meet all my facebook friends this year!”  and she emailed back that it wasn’t a good time.  i thought, oh, whoops, i really did mess things up.  i didn’t realize it was the very day that maureen returned to winnetka from taking her daughter to boarding school.  no matter how good a mom feels about a decision like that, it isn’t a good day.

but i was so happy when maureen invited me to her house yesterday that when i realized i’d have to drive eight hours back to winnetka in order to make the moment, i was on it!  however, i did a stupid thing:  i drank so much caffeine on the road that i had to take motrin p.m. to get to sleep.  jeez, i was strung out!!!

maureen was preparing for yom kippur, a day of fasting. but she wanted to share with me the beauty of rosh hoshanah the week before wherein one eats apples with honey. i really needed that because i was a little shaky from too much highway, too much caffeine, and too empty of a refrigerator when i got home!

when i came to her house, she talked freely about her daughter going to boarding school and her son being at the idyllwild arts academy in southern california.  she showed me some of her children’s artwork.  the noble children are not of the type that can be classified by percentiles–maureen would never say it, but i will:  they are what would be called genius of the renaissance.  that genius can’t be put in a box of nine periods per day, four thousand fellow students, weighted gpa, advanced placement testing.  maureen and her husband have done what is the greatest sacrifice of parenthood:  they have let their children go where they need to go in order to let them be who they need to be.  i’m not sure i could have ever done that for joseph or eastman.  i’m grateful i never had that.  i was put up for adoption when i was three years old.  i don’t know if i feel grateful but the circumstances were different.

maureen has developed a program for young girls to create bowls that evidence their strength. into these bowls, girls put the things that define themselves: courage, grace, patience, empathy.

maureen is thinking about what to do with herself now that herself is not involved in her children’s lives with the degree of exactitude as before.  she has maintained her commitment to art.  she showed me the most beautiful decoupage blocks, embroidered sacks, tags of extraordinary beauty and depth.  she doesn’t very often show these artworks.  and i thought–artists in the past have not existed without a patron.  but does art exist without a market?

maureen noble

maureen noble

i told maureen about my fears with respect to the benefit show.  had it been a bad idea?

the year she did the benefit show her husband asked each of the family members–maureen, their son, their daughter, and himself–to do the thing they most feared.  for maureen, it was apparently bouncing around onstage under my direction.  frankly, that would scare the hell out of me too!  although maureen didn’t share with me what the other three members of her family did as their “courage initiative” she is quite firm that the nobles supported and still support each other.  somehow i think this family is stronger with their children NOT at the high school five blocks away than it is with their children away.

then it was off to a confab with my travel magician–booking hotel rooms around the world. . . this reluctant tourist will be start by flying all the way to seoul, south korea to stay . . . at the best western!!!  a little piece of home goes with me.

striking north to pan for gold! and meet santa claus!

rex and ingrid got married just last week and have the glow of newlyweds!

f2fb friend #232 rex camposagrado married ingrid just last week–they met through eHarmony.com! rex’s family is from the philippines and he knows i am going there as part of my facebook project–he’s giving me a “just in case” phone number of a relative to call if i have a problem.  now i just need a “just in case” phone number for taiwan, korea, malaysia, mumbai, dubai, rome, dusseldorf and just about everyplace in england!

but first, i go to alaska.  the southern tip of the state (homer) is just a five hour drive from anchorage airport.  i’ll see christy russ and then turn around the next morning and drive back to anchorage for my flight to nome!  i understand that santa claus will make a special appearance because, hey, nome is a daytrip from the north pole.  i hope he brings me earrings.  or a wicked play mix.

the carhartt utility bag will carry everything–including a little traveler who has been my lucky charm!

the single longest one day trip to meet a facebook friend

i have taken planes, trains, and automobiles this year to visit my facebook friends.  but the single longest day long adventure was finding f2fb friend #233 christy russ!

planes, trains and automobiles was bromantic comedy about two men who employ all transportation modes to make it home for the thanksgiving–for my f2fb project i’ve employed taxis, planes, trains, automobiles, bipedalism, bicycles, and one rickshaw!

she lives in homer, alaska, so i was out like a shot from the house at six a.m. central standard time and aiming for o’hare airport.  the six hour flight was fun because the world touring cast of the chippendale’s dance troupe was seated all around me.  they seemed to have incredible trouble getting into and out of their seats, particularly if they had to negotiate over the laps of one of their fellow dancers.  but they had such good humor about this, giggling and poking each other–i wonder if all dance troupes have such joie de vivre.

the flight was six hours long and then there was a five hour trip south west toward homer, alaska.  homer boasts the land’s end restaurant which is — wait for it! — the western most part of the state of alaska which can be reached without using a ferry or plane!  it’s the end of the road.

alaska

alaska

christy is the sister of f2fb friend #84 cory russ rickerson, who teaches in madison wisconsin.  christy grew up in winnetka and northfield and it takes incredible courage to come to “land’s end” to live.  she did this a year and a half ago and now works with the developmentally disabled in homer.

christy is a fabulously glamorous woman anywhere, but in homer, alaska, i think she would make a great mayor!

after dinner, i returned to my hotel–the best western–and fell asleep fully clothed with my shoes still on, holding my toothbrush.   i woke up two hours later not remembering where i was.  suddenly convinced i was dying–heart attack or anaphylactic shock from the seafood i ate with christy.  i went out into the parking lot for some bracing alaska air.  there were several men in a second floor bedroom partying and hanging out their window.  we chatted.  i went back into my room.  i thought, “i’m really scared out here at the end of the world as i know it–and i will be above the arctic circle tomorrow!”

and then i took an ativan, got six beads into a rosary and went back to sleep.  the next morning i begin a five hour drive back into anchorage, a three hour flight to kobutsue and then a half hour puddle jump to nome. .  .

i reach inside the arctic circle and then head off to no place like nome!

on thursday morning, i battled rush hour traffic to hit o’hare airport for a nine thirty flight to anchorage.  at two o’clock anchorage time (five o’clock chicago time?) i was picking up a rental car and heading for homer–the “land’s end” of alaskan roadways–to meet f2fb friend #233 christy russ.  we had a wonderful dinner on the shore and then i hit the hay at the best western.

the next morning i was so disoriented. there was no starbucks, which is the alternative to garmin gps. instead, there are little espresso shacks everywhere. this one also sold ice cream. i don’t know. . ice cream? alaska?

on highway one, there were lots of signs advising drivers to “give a moose a brake!” and listing the number of moose killed on any particular stretch of road.  i longed to get a moose–not with my car but with my flip camera!  instead, i braked for a brown bear AND its cub crossing the highway.  i pulled over, grabbed the flip, and then . . . decided that this blog should really focus on my experiences of meeting my facebook friends–and while i have several dogs, a dead man, and a cat as my facebook friends, i pretty certain i don’t have any brown bears.  however, when i wondered about moose.

moose-ette

moose-ette

at ted stevens airport looked out onto the tarmac to see the jet that alaska airlines picked out just for me!

the tinkerbell jet! decorated inside and out with tinkerbell’s motto “follow me to the most magical place on earth!” our first stop was kotzebue, just inside the arctic circle. it was raining and snowing and we landed on a tiny strip of tundra. pilots for alaska airlines don’t like to use up a long runway!

at kotzebue, the friday commuter crowd embarked from the aft–back–of the plane.  the stairs to the tarmac are slippery when wet!  everyone knew everyone–i met a gal who was flying into nome to watch her niece and nephew wrestle.  wrestling is a big sport in nome for girls and boys both.  so is volleyball and basketball.  baseball?  uh, not so much.

downtown nome has a subway sandwich shop with a movie theater. taggers decorated the outside of the theater/dining establishment. when i was in nome, the movie contagion was playing. nome was the destination of the 1925 “great race of mercy” wherein dog sled teams brought diptheria vaccine to the city. balto, fritz and togo were famous lead dogs on the relay teams, but balto is the only one who scored a disney contract.

in nome, i was met by f2fb friend #234 ian coglan.  ian is the son of laura and mike coglan (f2fb friends #137 and 138) he works at the KICY radio station in nome.  KICY is associated with the covenant church of which ian is a member.  ian has a morning show on the fm station but also works at dubbing and loading up shows on both the fm and am station.  KICY also has a russian language show which is a favorite of folks in siberia.

ian took me to airport pizza–aptly named not just because it’s on the flight path of incoming jets but also because the restaurant delivers via plane to outlying communities.  after a quick dinner, it was time for me to retire to the aurora inn.  the next day, ian promised me a tour of nome and i had promised him an interview on kicy!

at one time, nome was gold rush city! these days, the population has stabilized at 3,500 residents–about fifty percent of the population is native american, mostly of the inupiat tribe. this giant pan for finding gold is at the town’s center, along with many mining troughs. gold continues to be found in nome but not by individuals with ambition, courage, and a pan!

there’s no place like nome. . .except home!

i visited the kicy radio station in nome for an interview with f2fb friend #234 ian coglan.  it was very strange to articulate the reason for my new years resolution and even stranger to articulate it within the context of a specifically christian radio station.  i don’t think i’m all that good at talking about matters of faith.

interview

interview

then i was off to catch my plane after a quick tour of downtown nome. . .

alaska has enormous natural beauty but i found downtown nome to be a bit depressing. partly that’s because the town is above the tree line. wow, don’t bring a lawnmower if you move here!

i was a little nervous because this coming home was going to be a bit dramatic. . .

at least i wasn’t going to get lost looking for the terminal. there’s only one. but i had a two hour flight into anchorage, then thirty minutes to find the gate for the trip to chicago–i got tagged by t.s.a. security coming out of the gate at anchorage airport for a “random” screening.

at eight a.m. chicago time, i was home.  slightly less than 96 hours turnaround from my front door to alaska to home.  7400 miles.  two facebook friends.  well worth the trip!  but i had an appointment to work out with my long time friend stu cohn.  he works out every day.  i used to do that before i started traveling.  i have gained eight pounds this year.  stu has gained. . .none.

stu

stu

after a workout, i purchased currencies for the countries i will be visiting beginning on sunday.  then i went to dinner with f2fb friends #236 joanne staten, 214 paddy seymour, and 237 donna thompson.  joanne has recently had hip replacement surgery and somehow, even through her recovery, she is caring for a dog who has one eye, can’t hear, and is limited in its ability to walk.  donna is responsible for both the care of her mother and, at least once a week, for the care of her grandchildren.  paddy takes care of her own grandchildren and has two brothers who rely upon her quite a bit.

i realized i can only do this project because i am at an odd moment in a woman’s life:  i don’t have children to care for, no grandchildren who need  me, no parents i am the caretaker for.  i promise i will enjoy every minute of the remaining 74 days of this new years resolution!

three glamorous gals who take care of a lot of family! it’s fun to take a night off!

every adventure begins with the word impossible

the year began with 365 days, 325 facebook friends, and a new year’s resolution to meet every single friend at least once during the year.  it appeared, and still appears, to be impossible.  this weekend, on the 298th day of the year, i will have to embark on what i consider the most impossible aspect of this venture–traveling overseas.

i leave for south korea on sunday.  i’ll have with me my older son joseph who is, oddly enough, f2fb friend #61.  we will meet with facebook friend john chie, hopscotch over to taiwan, slipping into and out of the philippines in one day, hitting up mumbai and dubai before landing in rome on the 30th.  we will see facebook friends at every stop, except in mumbai and rome there will be two friends!

after trick or treating at the vatican, joseph and i will head for germany on monday and wind up in england on the second of november!

f2fb friend #238 tina marshall invited me to highwood.  she is a manicurist and she wanted at least my hands to look good on this trip.  we’ve known each other for close to ten years but it’s been at least a year since we’ve actually physically seen each other.  when we have phones, messaging, email, facebook, twitter, and carrier pigeons, we sometimes can forget that it’s spending time together that makes a friendship.

i told her that i’m scared of the upcoming flights, the uncertainties of countries where i don’t speak the language, the possibilities for catastrophe.  and, of course, that i will–for the first time in my life–not be here for this sacred holiday of candy and mayhem.  halloween is my favorite holiday because i don’t feel so silly being myself.  she reminded me that i will also be missing the special festivities of the city of highwood.

Video 48

Video 48

(to learn more about the festivities go to highwoodpumpkinfest.com!)

it still seems impossible that i’ll see each of my 325 facebook friends by december 31 (all new year’s resolutions have an endgame) but if they’re as easygoing as f2fb friend #239 jim levin it’ll be a joyful but hectic 73 days to the finish line.  jim invited me to the river north area of chicago where he works starting new businesses.  he likes the excitement and challenge–for instance, when he was just 24 he recognized the talents of an italian designer gianni versace.  he negotiated to bring the designer’s work to the united states.  within a few short years, he had opened all the versace stores in america and sold the business, moving on to another challenge.  he is an artist as much as a painter or sculptor.  his canvas just happens to be commerce.

jim is an actor and was a highly valued college football player. but you could have guessed that from his good looks!

jim and i share an excitement about the impossible.  i don’t know if we share the fear of the impossible–i have it, i have a sense that jim doesn’t have that fear.

make a new year’s resolution, whether your new year begins on january one or rosh hashanah or on your birthday or on the third day after the first full moon in april.  make it something you’ve always yearned for but believe to be utterly impossible.  then tell all your friends (posting on facebook december 31, 2010 worked for me) and you’ll find that you can’t back out.  your friends will propel you forward towards success.  you will take small steps, ignoring the big obstacles and turning them into strengths.  if you want, email me your most impossible resolution.  i will be that friend for you!

okay, the really impossible part begins. . . .

just before heading out to the airport to get on a fourteen hour flight to south korea, i saw f2fb friend #240 michelle larson.  she’s just bought her first home, she’s got a great job and a great boyfriend.  she is the most optimistic person i have met this year!  and she is in the adventure appropriate to being a 26 galpal and i guess i’m on the same sort of adventure.  except for the butterflies in my stomach. .  . . .

michelle

michelle

http://arlynnpresser.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/media/moxieplayer.swfVideoPress requires either HTML5 video or Adobe Flash Player 10 or above for playback.

here’s a bit of what’s happening next:

asiana airlines, flight oz235 noon, chicago to seoul  arriving at october 24 4:00 p.m. local time

asiana airlines, flight oz711 11:00 a.m., seoul to taipei arriving october 25 12:30 p.m. local time

china airlines, flight ci701 7:35 a.m., taipei to manila arriving october 26 9:35 a.m. local time

malaysia airlines, flight mh705 3:05 p.m. manila to kuala lumpur arriving october 27 6:40 p.m. local time

malaysia airlines, flight mh194 8:05 kuala lumpur to mumbai arriving october 27 10:40 p.m. local time

emirates airlines, flight ek 505 9:45 a.m. mumbai to dubai arriving october 29 11:15 local time

emirates airlines, flight ek97 9:10 a.m. dubai to rome arriving october 30 12:35 p.am. local time

air berlin, flight ab 8467 11:40 a.m. rome to vienna arriving november 1 1:05 local time

air berlin, flight ab 8517 2:50 p.m. vienna to dusseldorf arriving november 1 4:20 p.m. local time

and from there, i am not sure how but i’m hauling myself and my son joseph to london and from there to bristol, southhampton, and eastbourne and then home. . . .

plenty of surprises on the way to incheon–

murphy, always vigilant, always ready, drove my older son joseph and me to the airport.  i felt that horrible sense of dread approaching t.s.a. but for the first time i was waved through.  joseph, however, got some strange treatment.

t.s.a. agent:  don’t slouch.  and get a job.  he doesn’t have a job, does he?

me:  no, he doesn’t and can you ask him to get a hair cut?

t.s.a. agent:  get a haircut and do what your mom says.  she is your mom, right?  not some random woman nagging you?

i think this might have either been what passes for t.s.a. humor or maybe they got a handbook advising them to employ humor for sotto vocce interrogation.  for instance, if joseph had said “mom, you could be buried up to your neck in the sand and be stoned for telling me to cut my hair so just stop it!”  maybe the t.s.a. agents wouldn’t have laughed and waved us through.

the asiana airlines stewardesses were so glamorous.  they wear identical brown suits and brown slippers.  they have tight, ballerina buns at the back of their heads.  and theyare so happy to pour one champagne that one feels quite as if it’s only a matter of common courtesy to allow them the opportunity to do it again.  joseph and i eschewed the “american” menu and did bibampop, kimchi, and ramen.  i haven’t thought well of kimchi mostly because the people who owned our house before us buried kimchi pots all over the yard and i’d dig them up when trying to put in hostas, tulips and daffodils.  it was like a sour smelling nonexplosive landmine.

but the meal was great.  and the flight was straightforward except for the part where the pilot seemed to take great pains to avoid north korean airspace.  maybe he had an ex-girlfriend he was worried he’d run into!

f2fb friend #241 john chie is neither fully american nor fully korean.  he was born in korea and his mother, determined to give her children a good life, moved the family first to south anerica and eventually to the united states.  he went to the university of illinois.  he lived in chicago when i met him ten years ago.  he moved back to korea five years ago and still hasn’t learned enough korean to be fully accepted.  at one point, we were talking with a woman who was clearly baffled by my attempt to help her understand english by talking really loud.  the woman turned to john and he referred to himself as “megook” which means “i’m american”.

he wants to move back to the states and i hope he does.  my sense of korea is that american allows for greater diversity of people, we accept back stories that are different from expected.

unfortunately, the only picture i have of seeing him was so soft and grainy–and oddly formatted in a bmp (?) fashion that i can’t upload it.  just as well. i look half asleep.  joseph was half asleep.  but john was wearing a nice suit and, this is the weird part, looked five years YOUNGER than when i met him last.  i wish i could share that!

but it was nice to catch up with john and he was a gentleman to share a cab with us to make sure we made it to the best western hotel on incheon island.  it’s quarter to six a.m. local time and we have a plane to taipei to catch in three hours!

thank you to john chie for seeing me and joseph!!!!  and for being my friend!

ninety percent of disasters are things you never anticipate

got here!

got here!

i  got here!  i made it!  it’s a small country, the little tiny renegade province that held its ground against the communists.  they are proud of their resistance and they should be.  even though america and many other countries have sort of abandoned them in their haste to curry favor with the larger, wealthier people’s republic of china.  i appreciated that they had more flags up than a fourth of july, memorial day, and a joint republican-democratic national convention combined!

got lost but saw beautiful things

chestnuts roasting over an open fire seems more bing cosby than tai pei!

then i got even more lost and ended up in a dilapidated courtyard that boasted the finest sculpture–

everybody walked right by this thing as if it weren’t remarkable. i wonder if i do that at home a lot!
so then i went to a wonderful little restaurant where f2fb friend #242 warner sills gave me a wonderful dinner of dumplings and noodles and ginger tea.  he gave me a tour of the city and then went on to classes.  i am so proud of someone so brave to strike out on his own for a new country–then it was to bed because our flight to manila was at seven thirty.
i logged on that night to an unsettling post.  using the facebook account of my friend mark del rosario, his wife told me he was going to have to cancel, he was ill.  i wondered “is he going to be all right?”  “what the hell am i doing going into manila for a day?”  and lastly “is this another example of facebook not being what it appears to be?”  i looked at how i would hopskotch off to mumbai without hitting manila.  impossible.  so onward we went, although my son joseph decided  iwas a complete idiot.  he had been told by his friend’s friend who once visited manila that all the flights into the city are turbulent and the crime rate is so excessive that it was a fifty-fifty proposition on even one of us getting out alive.  i was definitely feeling under pressure from this disaster i hadn’t anticipated.

please don’t feed the elephant before we get on the plane!

when i left manila, i was astonished at the wealth disparity.  across from my hotel room window was a river and across the river, a town made of buildings that were constructed in the most creative ways:  strips of tru-link fencing, corrugated steel, bed linens, plywood.  as i approached the water’s edge to get a better picture, a security guard (policeman?) advised me to not do that.  there were others living on “my” side of the river.  but the guard didn’t stop me, instead he watched over me.  if pictures are worth a thousand words, this is but a few.  the memories are going to stick with me.

this isn’t to say that life is not good for some residents. i saw kids playing basketball and a man offered me a ferry ride but he might have been asking me to go fishing with him!
on the other side of the hotel was my son’s joseph view–a manila business district to rival new york, london, or chicago.  we left the hotel and made for the airport.
i wanted to take this bus to the airport but my son joseph insisted on a cab. kids are no darn fun these days!
we first flew to malaysia and then into mumbai well past midnight.  i was exhausted, but first we had to go through immigration, customs, a security check, and then joseph got shook down for “tips” from two gentleman who gave us directions to our cab and who took his backpack.  at the airport, the cab was checked for explosives and our bags went through a conveyor belt.  our bodies were wanded and then inside the lobby our passports were taken for an additional scanning.  i think india is at war and just doesn’t want to admit to it.
i met f2fb friend #234 anto prashanth and #235 rahul guru when they worked for taskseveryday.com which is an outsourcing company in mumbai.  i wanted to devise a website.  it didn’t work for me and i ran out of money but i did end up with two friends.  unfortunately, rahul was unable to get a day off to see me and i got the impression that the american way of having paid days off and sick days and whatnot just doesn’t cut it here.  rahul sent anto as his emissary.  anto met me and joseph at the hilton mumbai where we were staying.  i picked the hotel because it was the closest t the airport and i recognized the name “hilton”.
the hilton mumbai is so fancy i felt like the romanovs had added an extra princess: tatiana, olga,maria, anastasia, and now arlynn!
if you didn’t get to take an elephant or a tiara back from india, would you settle for anto prashanth?
anto asked me if i wanted a souvenir from india.  i told him that memories are the souvenirs i like to take with me, but that i wanted an elephant.  something to ride in winnetka that would tower above the landrovers and the escalades.  later, i fell asleep,  part of the forty eight hour circadian cycle.  i didn’t know this but anto went out and bought a wood elephant for me to take back a little bit of india to winnetka.
i hope anto and rahul (and anto’s wife, of course) will come visit me next in chicago!  both anto and rahul work in american oriented companies that do work that one might call “outsourcing”.  they are our new middle class.  so they will have the wherewithal someday, if not now, to travel to exotic places like chicago and winnetka!

and the falcon didn’t poke my eyes out!

my older son joseph and i left mumbai early on the twenty ninth.  mumbai had been the stop joseph was most concerned about–mostly because i’d be meeting two male friends whom i had never met in person.  f2fb friends #244 anto prashanth and #245 rahul guru had worked with me on a website through their company taskseveryday.com and we had often exchanged pictures, videos, favorite songs on facebook.  we had “kept up” with each other.  but joseph was concerned that one or another of them might want to “date” me which is always unnerving to a young man, to think of his mother as being “date-able”.

dubai was my concern–we were heading into a muslim country with customs i was sure to misunderstand.  and with the impeccable fit of my foot and mouth, i was going to get us into trouble.  so on the morning of the twenty ninth, we headed for the mumbai airport, with joseph feeling quite upbeat and me being somewhat concerned.

meanwhile, in el ain in the middle of the united arab emirates, f2fb friend #246 cecilia degiolio was getting ready for a cross country drive.

facebook friend anto asked me what i wanted most from india. i said an elephant. i would love to ride one around winnetka when i do my grocery shopping. he did the next best thing–giving me a carved wooden elephant!

air emirates is an american run airline and it is the most efficient airline i’ve ever encountered.  and fashionable.  its female flight attendants wear the greatest headgear.  i snagged a luggage tag even though joseph and i were living out of a backpack and my carhartts utility bag.  that luggage tag makes me look like a world traveler.

at dubai, joseph got detained briefly and the dudes behind the counter were firm but very polite about not letting me join in the conversation.  joseph has been having all sorts of problems with his passport because he insists on leaving it in his backpocket when he does laundry.  he was regarded askance but ultimately told to leave and we caught a cab.  we were a little giddy at having avoided some international diplomatic crisis.  i was surprised at how clean dubai is–i think i’d be willing to eat off the highway. . . and i was also surprised at the many portraits of  u.a.e. leaders khlifa bin zayed al nahyan, mohammad bin zayad nahyan, and mohammad bin rashid al maktoum that were on display–i had thought islam didn’t allow for portraiture.  tells you how little i understand the world and its history!

dubai

dubai

cecilia taught in the winnetka public schools up until three years ago when she moved to the united arab emirates.  she teaches at a girls’ school and she is such a role model for her students.  but of course, she was also a role model in winnetka–a little known fact about my town is that martin luther king, jr.’s first public speech to a predominately “white” audience was in the winnetka village green at the invitation of one of the churches.  cecilia rallied her students to ask the village to place a plaque in the green to commemorate the speech–i was president of rotary and i asked her to come speak to our members.  that’s how we connected, although winnetka is so small there are half a dozen other ways we know each other.  but we hadn’t seen each other in forever.

she drove in from el ain because she was concerned that i wouldn’t be able to really manage the trip from dubai to el ain.  and she was absolutely right.  she came with her beau and fellow teacher victor.

cecilia (1)

cecilia (1)

we had a meal together and then cecilia said it was time for me to play with a falcon.  i’m not so sure about that getting my eyes poked out thing!

falconry

falconry

afterwards, joseph and i walked through a field near the airport.  there were a lot of stray cats.  they asked to go home with me and joseph.  whenever i tried to pet them, they curled their backs and hissed at me.

onward to rome, because a girl can’t stay in a country for longer than 24 hours without getting wanderlust.  for an agoraphobic, i sure do get around!  thank you cecilia for showing me a most beautiful part of the world!!!

and the falcon didn’t poke my eyes out!

my older son joseph and i left mumbai early on the twenty ninth.  mumbai had been the stop joseph was most concerned about–mostly because i’d be meeting two male friends whom i had never met in person.  f2fb friends #244 anto prashanth and #245 rahul guru had worked with me on a website through their company taskseveryday.com and we had often exchanged pictures, videos, favorite songs on facebook.  we had “kept up” with each other.  but joseph was concerned that one or another of them might want to “date” me which is always unnerving to a young man, to think of his mother as being “date-able”.dubai was my concern–we were heading into a muslim country with customs i was sure to misunderstand.  and with the impeccable fit of my foot and mouth, i was going to get us into trouble.  so on the morning of the twenty ninth, we headed for the mumbai airport, with joseph feeling quite upbeat and me being somewhat concerned.meanwhile, in el ain in the middle of the united arab emirates, f2fb friend #246 cecilia degiolio was getting ready for a cross country drive.


facebook friend anto asked me what i wanted most from india. i said an elephant. i would love to ride one around winnetka when i do my grocery shopping. he did the next best thing–giving me a carved wooden elephant!

air emirates is an american run airline and it is the most efficient airline i’ve ever encountered.  and fashionable.  its female flight attendants wear the greatest headgear.  i snagged a luggage tag even though joseph and i were living out of a backpack and my carhartts utility bag.  that luggage tag makes me look like a world traveler.

at dubai, joseph got detained briefly and the dudes behind the counter were firm but very polite about not letting me join in the conversation.  joseph has been having all sorts of problems with his passport because he insists on leaving it in his backpocket when he does laundry.  he was regarded askance but ultimately told to leave and we caught a cab.  we were a little giddy at having avoided some international diplomatic crisis.  i was surprised at how clean dubai is–i think i’d be willing to eat off the highway. . . and i was also surprised at the many portraits of  u.a.e. leaders khlifa bin zayed al nahyan, mohammad bin zayad nahyan, and mohammad bin rashid al maktoum that were on display–i had thought islam didn’t allow for portraiture.  tells you how little i understand the world and its history!

dubai

dubai

cecilia taught in the winnetka public schools up until three years ago when she moved to the united arab emirates.  she teaches at a girls’ school and she is such a role model for her students.  but of course, she was also a role model in winnetka–a little known fact about my town is that martin luther king, jr.’s first public speech to a predominately “white” audience was in the winnetka village green at the invitation of one of the churches.  cecilia rallied her students to ask the village to place a plaque in the green to commemorate the speech–i was president of rotary and i asked her to come speak to our members.  that’s how we connected, although winnetka is so small there are half a dozen other ways we know each other.  but we hadn’t seen each other in forever.

she drove in from el ain because she was concerned that i wouldn’t be able to really manage the trip from dubai to el ain.  and she was absolutely right.  she came with her beau and fellow teacher victor.

cecilia (1)

cecilia (1)

we had a meal together and then cecilia said it was time for me to play with a falcon.  i’m not so sure about that getting my eyes poked out thing!

falconry

falconry

afterwards, joseph and i walked through a field near the airport.  there were a lot of stray cats.  they asked to go home with me and joseph.  whenever i tried to pet them, they curled their backs and hissed at me.

onward to rome, because a girl can’t stay in a country for longer than 24 hours without getting wanderlust.  for an agoraphobic, i sure do get around!  thank you cecilia for showing me a most beautiful part of the world!

rome sweet rome

it’s hard to communicate through this journal  the speed of our travels.  on sunday we went from chicago to korea, landing there monday afternoon.  tuesday, we glided into taiwan, then the next day the philippines.  from the philippines to mumbai, where we spent a leisurely day and a half before hopscotching over to dubai.  less than twenty four hours later we were in rome.  but we often had internet connection troubles (damn that holiday inn express in dubai!) and my phone has given out.  my hotmail account is frozen for reasons i can’t fathom and frankly, we’re in such motion that sitting down to write an account of our f2fb adventure has been a bit difficult.

in rome, i couldn’t help myself. i wanted to see the city of seven hills, the birthplace of romulus, remus, and pizza.  i read the newspaper accounts at breakfast in the hotel siviglia of the european economic crisis.  thinking on this, i went with joseph to the colisseum and the forum. looking out at the ruins, i  had an idea of a jobs project–mr. obama, are you onboard?

rome improvement

rome improvement

then there are the gladiators.  they accost tourists.   they wear full regalia, often with black socks under their sandals.  that surprised me as i don’t remember julius ceasar having an account with brooks brothers.  i asked about what i would see in the colisseum.

gladator

gladator

then it was time to dress for dinner with f2fb friend # 247 federico cenci and his beloved girlfriend marina.  at the hotel i logged onto facebook to confirm the next day’s meeting with claudia, a facebook friend in dortmund, germany.  oddly enough, on a per leg basis, the dortmund trip was the most expensive and intricate of the magellan round the world facebook trip:  an early morning train to the airport in rome, a two hour flight to vienna, a change over to a one  hour flight to dusseldorf, a two hour train ride into dortmund in order to meet her at seven p.m.

i tried to message her.  impossible.  facebook wouldn’t let me.  i checked her profile.  she had defriended me. she also now has a limited profile so that i can’t message her or write on her wall.   joseph suggested we stay an extra day in rome.  but i refused to accept that somebody would have agreed just three weeks before to see me, knowing i would be paying out benjamins and even telling me time and place–someone couldn’t stand me up that way.  besides, changing the arrangments would cost .  . . . much more.

we went to dinner with fede.  his girlfriend marina is truly gorgeous.  i noticed that when italian women wear a scarf it is an effortless expression of chic.  when i wear a scarf it looks like i have stolen a table runner.  she also has the greatest hair.  and perfect skin.   everythng to make a dowdy over the hill fifty one year old get a little grumpy.  but she’s so adorable and so kind that i fell in love with her. just not in that “go to vermont” way.

fede had made dough for a pizza fest at their apartment but we decided on a real italian restaurant so we could be surrounded by real italians doing what they do best–drinking red wine, gesturing, eating, enjoying!

federico

federico

“you will find out that you were meant to go to dortmund for a reason,”  marina said.  “it’s just not claudia.”

and i had to remember that as i got up the next morning dashing for the train to the airport. . . . there are days i do not want to continued this project, days when i think this is absolutely ridiculous, days when i want to pull the covers over the head and stay . . . in rome!

i finish up seeing facebook friends in england! now to get myself home. . .

there are so many levels of hell, according to dante, but i don’t think he ever anticipated the easyjet tier of hell.  getting out of dortmund, germany after a bruising reality check that facebook friends sometimes will just NOT EVER want to meet and that i could be an idiot (the latter being my own little mantra), we alighted to dortmund international airport where security felt up my twins and played around with my lady bits in a manner that i really we should have had a “relationship talk”.

the easyjet boarding system is modeled on the highly successful titanic lifeboat boarding system. when we took off i had the odd sensation that i could fly the damn plane better than the pilot. this did not instill confidence in me because i generally do not pilot planes. well, i never pilot planes.
we had a reservation at the “easyhotel” owned by the airline.  imagine the jetsons trapped in orwell’s 1984.  but then it was onto london to catch a train to bristol to meet f2fb friend #248 anna brooke.
i hadn’t seen anna in fourteen years.  she was the assistant to a colleague of my ex-husband’s.  anna and her husband stephen were newlyweds (well, maybe a couple of anniversaries past that status) and were desperate to have children.  they were going through ivf.  they were eating soy products thought to improve fertility.  they drank nonalcoholic wine which i think suggests an absolute commitment to conception.  and yet, they were disappointed.  we lost touch, time passed, and then i see anna on facebook.  we friend each other.  i notice she posts a lot about catherine and daniel, two youngsters who are unbearably cute.  i realize she’s had kids.  i dont’ how to ask her “what the heck happened?”  but, you know what?, we got to have that conversation in bristol where the family of stephen, anna, catherine, and daniel live. THIS is exactly the sort of situation that calls for YOU to meet all your facebook friends in person.  unfortnately, both my cell phone camera and my video cam gave me trouble, otherwise i’d show you the handsome and delightful quartet!
in bristol, we saw a suspension bride designed by isambard kingdom brunel, a nineteenth century engineer. he died before the bridge was even being developed. would you rather be revered and famous after your death or before?
from bristol, we alighted to brighton/hove on the train.  little did we know that the british railway system is a bit ungainly.  the train “terminated” at worth and all passengers were advised to leave.  most made the decision to take an alternate train back to london.  but if i missed brighton on november 4, i would have to come back on the fifth.  guy fawkes day which is celebrated most particularly in the town of lewes, next to brighton.  tens of thousands of people come to lewes to commemorate the blowing up of parliament by a catholic and the burning at the stake of seventeen protestants during the reign of queen mary 1.  i wore my rosary under my sweater just in case.  the book of revelations talks about how you’ll know the endtimes are near if guy fawkes celebrations are ever held at the same time as halloween.  so i didn’t tell anybody about trick-or-treating, apple-bobbing, or egging your neighbor’s windows.
we took a bus into brighton/hove and met f2fb friend #249 mark jonathan cage and his very lovely girlfriend laura.  they laid out the most remarkable “traditional” english sunday dinner of roast chicken, roasted potatoes and turnips, steamed vegetables, suet pudding,  dressing, a homemade apple and honey cake with  ice cream and custard.  i wondered what they were going to do for a main course.
mark took us all to beachy head which is the suicide “go to” place in england.  it’s amazing how tall the cliff is and how exposed it is. when mark told me that a huge problem is erosion i was like “uh, no thanks” and i wondered about why i was seeing a facebook friend whom i had never met, but with whom i had played online scrabble.  it was pretty damn windy but luckily i was ballasted by my weight.  so that’s why the traditional english dinner is so grand!
beachy head

beachy head

then off to heathrow to get ourselves back to america.  seventeen days, eleven countries, 21,600 miles, two pairs of shoes, one carryon bag–and i had one last adventure:  something illegal in the united states but apparently available on every street corner in brighton, england.

welcome home world travelers and a facebook friends takes liberties with me

nothing says home sweet home like a bottle of veuve clicquot in the refrigerator, freshly delivered roses, a four foot stack of mail, and a cake on the kitchen counter!

i am home and i survived the trip with my son joseph.  some rough stats:

1.  we traveled–however briefly–to or through korea, taiwan, the philippines, malaysia, india, united arab emirates, italy, austria, germany, england, and ireland–approximately 24,000 miles altogether!

2.  we set out to meet eleven facebook friends and were on a schedule of breathtaking speed.  we failed to meet one facebook friend (mark del rosario) because he had appendicitis.  his wife nona stepped in for him.  we failed to meet rahul guru because his work schedule was unexpectedly changed–he sent his emissary f2fb friend #244 anto prashanth.  we missed alessandro cerea because he got deployed a little earlier than expected but we are going to figure out how to meet before the end of the year.  and i was defriended by claudia from dortmund.  all in all, i count it as we saw nine friends or their designated ambassadors of good will.

jennifer christine harris of des moines, iowa was arrested for burning down the home of nikki rasmussen who had defriended her on facebook. i don’t think i will be burning down claudia’s house. i had too much of a good time in dortmund!

3.  we didn’t rip each other’s heads off.  my son is twenty three years old.  plenty of my contemporaries complain about the relationships they have with their adult children.  i think they should go on trips together.  i learned to treat him as an equal.  he has a soft spot in his heart for his mom.

so when i returned to chicago, i was (am still) suffering from strange jet lag.  but the new years resolution continues.  i went to see my f2fb friend #250 joe kral.  i had never met him before and yet i agreed to meet him at his home.  i allowed him to kiss me.  on the mouth and hand and ear.  he shoved his nose between my legs at the very point where t.s.a. agents like to linger with their blue gloves and wands.  i also allowed four of his friends those same liberties.  it was quite a party!

who let the dogs out? whoot! whoot!

who let the dogs out?  whoot! whoot!

joe has his own facebook page and has many dog and human facebook friends.  he is in a relationship with maya sharona joffe.  joe’s older brother bob kral recently died of bone cancer and had his own page as well.  i hope this will not scandalize the dog world but i believe that bob was married to maya at one time. .  .

joe’s account is run by his human mother pb kral who is a dog whisperer.  she helps people who think their dogs are the problem:  it is usually the people who need to change.  pb says the biggest mistake people make is to treat their dogs like human beings and not like dogs.  she is the alpha for five dogs:  joe, tommy, brea, brad, and billy.

pb, joe and me — with brad in the red coat. . . .
ordinarily i am afraid of dogs and i am also allergic to them.  the dogs were very well behaved because their alpha pb kept them in line.  i got a little itchy towards the end of the dog party but i had the most wonderful time!!!!  i started to think that maybe, just maybe, i could be a pet owner but only if i could have joe. . . .

welcome home world travelers and a facebook friends takes liberties with me

nothing says home sweet home like a bottle of veuve clicquot in the refrigerator, freshly delivered roses, a four foot stack of mail, and a cake on the kitchen counter!

i am home and i survived the trip with my son joseph.  some rough stats:

1.  we traveled–however briefly–to or through korea, taiwan, the philippines, malaysia, india, united arab emirates, italy, austria, germany, england, and ireland–approximately 24,000 miles altogether!

2.  we set out to meet eleven facebook friends and were on a schedule of breathtaking speed.  we failed to meet one facebook friend (mark del rosario) because he had appendicitis.  his wife nona stepped in for him.  we failed to meet rahul guru because his work schedule was unexpectedly changed–he sent his emissary f2fb friend #244 anto prashanth.  we missed alessandro cerea because he got deployed a little earlier than expected but we are going to figure out how to meet before the end of the year.  and i was defriended by claudia from dortmund.  all in all, i count it as we saw nine friends or their designated ambassadors of good will.


jennifer christine harris of des moines, iowa was arrested for burning down the home of nikki rasmussen who had defriended her on facebook. i don’t think i will be burning down claudia’s house. i had too much of a good time in dortmund!

3.  we didn’t rip each other’s heads off.  my son is twenty three years old.  plenty of my contemporaries complain about the relationships they have with their adult children.  i think they should go on trips together.  i learned to treat him as an equal.  he has a soft spot in his heart for his mom.

so when i returned to chicago, i was (am still) suffering from strange jet lag.  but the new years resolution continues.  i went to see my f2fb friend #250 joe kral.  i had never met him before and yet i agreed to meet him at his home.  i allowed him to kiss me.  on the mouth and hand and ear.  he shoved his nose between my legs at the very point where t.s.a. agents like to linger with their blue gloves and wands.  i also allowed four of his friends those same liberties.  it was quite a party!

who let the dogs out? whoot! whoot!

who let the dogs out?  whoot! whoot!

joe has his own facebook page and has many dog and human facebook friends.  he is in a relationship with maya sharona joffe.  joe’s older brother bob kral recently died of bone cancer and had his own page as well.  i hope this will not scandalize the dog world but i believe that bob was married to maya at one time. .  .

joe’s account is run by his human mother pb kral who is a dog whisperer.  she helps people who think their dogs are the problem:  it is usually the people who need to change.  pb says the biggest mistake people make is to treat their dogs like human beings and not like dogs.  she is the alpha for five dogs:  joe, tommy, brea, brad, and billy.

pb, joe and me — with brad in the red coat. . . .
ordinarily i am afraid of dogs and i am also allergic to them.  the dogs were very well behaved because their alpha pb kept them in line.  i got a little itchy towards the end of the dog party but i had the most wonderful time!!!!  i started to think that maybe, just maybe, i could be a pet owner but only if i could have joe. . . .

upon returning home, but briefly. . .

i got  a very odd post on my wall from a facebook friend i haven’t been able to see this year.  i know nothing about her except that twice she has received free iphones and has been so kind as to pass along the information.  i sure hope i get to meet her, because i have tried every which way of communicating with her and she hasn’t responded.

i have some facebook friends like that.  after i came back from the seventeen day nineteen city, twelve country facebook tour, i sat down with the spread sheet and i was suprised to discover that fully seventeen facebook friends had not responded to any invitation i proffered.  well, one dude said that he had wanted to date me for several years and now i only wanted to see him because of my “stupid project” and “screw you”.  which i think is a no.

but today i got this note from nova.  it is the second post i have ever received from her.  i replied with two comments:

OMG! i got new iphone 4s, I got it for FREE here http://goo.gl/zMBdc, takes a second to find out if you qualify too!
  • Robert Mayer likes this.
    • Arlynn Leiber Pressernova, OMG! i’m so happy to hear from you! i have been trying to reach you–messaging you, writing on your wall! i have a new years resolution to meet all the facebook friends i had as of december 31, 2010. and that includes you! so where do you live? when can i see you? what do you like to do?

      a few seconds ago · Like
    • Arlynn Leiber Presser btw, you can read about my adventures with other facebook friends at http://arlynnpresser.wordpress.com/– i’ve had a really wonderful year and i’m very grateful to the friends that have met me. you know, oddly, the only other communication i’ve received from you was about your free iphone. you got a free iphone right around the time we became friends!

      arlynnpresser.wordpress.com

      Just another WordPress.com site
      2 seconds ago · Like ·
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  • oh, well, i’ll find out soon whether i have a friend AND whether i’m getting a new iphone.  what do you think?

this past weekend, as i struggled with jet lag, i also struggled with some other “re-entry” issues.  i don’t have to shower with my panties on so i can wash them.

i lost twelve pairs of panties in twelve different countries. and the only action i was getting was from female t.s.a. agents! there’s some injustice there.

i was using one carry on bag so i couldn’t bring perfume–so i dashed into every pharmacy, department store and duty free shop looking for tester bottles of thierry mugler’s angel perfume or, in a pinch, guerlain’s shalimar.  i have spent so much money on this trip that i don’t think i’m giving up that habit.

the food here in winnetka is weird too.  it comes out of my refrigerator.  and nobody seems interested in making my bed or putting chocolates on my pillow.  on the other hand, some of the hotel experiences weren’t so good and i’m grateful that there are no mouse droppings on the bathroom sink.

sleep is the biggest problem.  joseph bounced back right away.  i’ve been having trouble. the first night i was free, i went to st. sebastian players.  my f2fb friends #252 nancy pollock and #253 john oster were helping out with a production of the elephant man.

everybody claps for actors but who gives the love to the gal who runs the house or the dude who puts in the lights?

i was scared i would fall asleep but i didn’t.  the show was really wonderful!  i reminded both nancy and john that we’ll be working again in june as i have an idea for a play about clarence darrow.  it has to have an explosion in it.  i like my theater to make the people in the first row piss their pants.

i am only home for a bit, as i have to start planning a quick trip to new york and a more protracted trip up the northwestern passage.  it’s a sprint, but i will finish!  and i sure hope i get a free iphone!

the high price of friendship is all worth it

elizabeth gilbert got an advance from a publisher to finance a trip to italy, india and finally indonesia. she got a movie deal and found true love. oh, and probably enlightenment too!

americans don’t like to talk about money–how much or how little.  but some people have asked how i have financed this year of facebook friends.  and it’s pretty simple:  i saved a lot and i’ve tried to spend as little.  every parent with a kid getting a degree in film knows there’s going to have to be some “seed capital” as a graduation present.

“you’d want some creative input, wouldn’t you?”  joseph asked me when i offered him the money.

“well, yeah, a little, sure,”  i prevaricated.

i’ve published thirty three books and written two plays that have been performed in chicago. i can’t help wanting to have some creative input. thank goodness i wasn’t around when michelangelo was painting that stuff on the ceiling!

“then, no thanks, mom,”  joseph said. “i’m going to do something on my own.  no offense.”

and that’s when i realized i had just about enough to do this year of traveling and meeting every facebook friend.  i’ve also had help from friends and family, both those with facebook accounts and those who think facebook is a waste of time and an encroachment on their privacy.

i’ve also published under the name vivian leiber. sex scenes are actually harder to write than you’d imagine. i don’t ever feel sexy afterwards.

last night, i went out with f2fb friend #254 jean huyler who used to work in a book store and also has worked in marketing.  she said “you have to think of this as a book”  and of course i do because, frankly, i’m not sure i know how to do anything else but write and play scrabble.  the market for scrabble players with no talent is rather limited. so i think i have to consider how to use this year to write a book–because i will most certainly be broke at the end of the year.  a high price, sure, but i’ve really had some remarkable experiences of friendship that could never have happened if i didn’t make that silly new years eve resolution!

jean is very relaxed, sitting with a glass of champagne in one hand. champagne is, after all, the reason God gave us two hands!

i told jean to find me a publisher.  actually, anybody reading this is encouraged to find me a publisher.  and diamonds.  you can look for diamonds for me, that’s okay.  any ideas, feel free to send them to me at apresser@hotmail.com or send a carrier pigeon.

jean and i went to the music theatre company founded by f2fb friend #255 jessica redish.  jessica has been in theater forever,but she hasn’t lost the ability to do other things.  founding a theater company means you learn to do a lot of things–fundraising, talent promotion, marketing.  we laughed when remembered that she had directed my younger son in the opera falsettos and his voice was changing.  luckily, james lapin and william finn used very modern music so you could hardly tell when eastman was offkey.  and when he croaked you just thought “wow, how very sondheim in a mahler kind of way!”

jessica would love to have you take a look at the music theatre company in highland park–just go to themusicaltheatrecompany.org

thank God it wasn’t paintball!

if i ever move to a new town, i shall take a job with caribou coffee.  within a month, i’m sure i’ll have some friends.  it’s like creating your own facebook profile and friends list from scratch.  also, the pay is pretty darn good, especially when you add in tips (note to i.r.s. there are no tips) and why not starbucks?  oddly, it’s f2fb friend #256 melissa palka who gave me a good reason to not go with the seattle folks.

starbucks was named for the first mate in herman melville’s novel moby dick

melissa explained that the rules at starbucks are a bit more rigid than at caribou.  for instance, a starbucks barista is expected to spend no more than thirty seconds interacting with a customer while still trying to establish a personal relationship that will make the customer feel loyalty.  thirty seconds feels like 140 characters–you need more than that.  melissa and i went to lazer quest to work off some caffeine jitters.

Video 74

Video 74

when i first separated from my husband, i tried really hard to make time with my sons be special.  it was a guilty parent move.  joseph would fire off all his rounds within the first thirty seconds and retire the field.  younger brother eastman would be quite aggressive but he had a backup that he wasn’t aware of–me–and so he took risks he shouldn’t have.

Video 77

Video 77

melissa is a wonderful gal but i think she had cased the joint before we started.  final score:  melissa 121 and me?  a negative 28.  and i fired several rounds into an employee who wasn’t too keen about it. the title of this post says it all.

later, melissa and i had a drink and talked about her ambitions.  she is in line to become a shift manager.  and from there, who knows.  caribou has a lot of room for ambitious baristas.

i drove home feeling pretty good despite the bruising score.  so i was surprised when i woke up the next morning with a case of “don’t go out of the house”. . . an anxiety attack that strangled me all day.  two ativan didn’t make a dent in it.  a hot shower provided no relief.  i watched several episodes of glee and that didn’t do anything.  i listened to a meditation tape.  i tried to walk to the workout room.  but i turned around after a block.  i was just too scared.

and it weirded me out because i kept thinking “i’ve been around the world!”  somehow i thought i had fundamentally changed.  it felt like defeat that i hadn’t.  later in the day, i forced myself out the door.  i walked towards the grocery store and on the way met jo caylor who is yes a f2fb friend but also someone from the neighborhood.  she asked me why i was shaking so much.  i started to talk, was pretty much incoherent.  she did what anybody should do to me when they see me like this.  she gave me a hug.

jo knows someone who is just like me, who gets out of the house even less than i did before i started this project.  i asked her what made this person so afraid.  and jo said “something bad always happens to her when she leaves the house, or at least, that’s what she thinks.”

maybe that’s what i was thinking yesterday.  maybe i just couldn’t think of what the bad thing was.

after seeing jo and walking around for a bit, i went to caribou and said hi to melissa!
November 18, 2011

jimmy kimmel’s national unfriend day–have i suffered?

this past december i made a new years resolution to meet each of my facebook friends.  at the time, i had 325 friends–well above the facebook average of 130.  i wasn’t sure who all my friends actually were and some friends i hadn’t seen in such a long time that their posts declaring that they were having fish tacos for dinner did nothing to solidify our bonds of amity.

so each day i make preparations, travel, do whatever’s necessary to meet my facebook friends.  during the year, i have gotten used to flying although not so much used to having the t.s.a. give me the once over.

con air is a movie about a criminal transport plane that is taken over by the criminals. it must be confusing for t.s.a. agents to distinguish between dangerous felons and people who just want to go to disneyworld.

yesterday was national unfriend day, declared by our country’s leading social commentator jimmy kimmel.  i decided i would figure out if i have been unfriended by any of the people i was going to meet.  i knew about claudia from dortmund and miss s. from turkey but i was surprised to find out that an astonishing eleven people have un-friended me. although, to be fair, in one case it was my son joseph’s girlfriend deactivating her account and then when she reactivated it i didn’t make the friendship grade.  and i have unfriended two people, both because they were harassing me.  and three people have become so famous that i am no longer a friend but am merely a fan. if you have a facebook account, see if you can figure out if you were unfriended by anybody yesterday.

you don’t get a sad face notification when you have been unfriended

luckily, there are some friends who have made me feel quite welcome this week.  f2fb friend #257 jean louis-boury invited me to the home he shares with his wife bella (who became my facebook friend today!) and their six children.  the six children range in age from two to twenty four and i find it awe-inspiring that they were able to accomplish this without the use of extra spouses.  we chatted over a bottle of champagne while some children did their homework.  at some point, the two youngest wanted to go visit grandmom who lives a few blocks away.  one of the brothers volunteered to drive them over.  the bourys are a very cool, very loving family!

the third eldest boury son nic is a friend of my younger son eastman. in real life. and quite possibly on facebook.

oxford university professor robin dunbar, author of how many friends does one person need? believes we are capable of juggling only about one hundred and fifty friends.  maybe so, but if you join a rotary club, you’ve automatically got yourself four million friends.  although you don’t necessarily have to expand your christmas card list.  yesterday, at winnetka’s rotary meeting, i invited f2fb friend #258 don van arsdale.  he had been at the winnetka rotary until he took a job in nearby glencoe’s park district.  i was astonished to realize that in the two years since he had gone to glencoe, i had only communicated with him through facebook.  also at rotary was f2fb friend #259 bill finke who sat with us and we caught up during the luncheon portion of the meeting.

meeting of two presidents–f2fb friend #258 on the right is don van arsdale. f2fb friend #259 bill finke is on the left. bill and i have been president of winnetka’s rotary club. don is president of glencoe’s club.

i miss having don at the winnetka club.  every thursday meeting, he had some new book he was reading–usually history and if i picked up a copy i would always discover that it was great.  and i admire don greatly in part because he once walked the camino di santiago.  well, not all of it.  but he’s planning on doing it again at different points in his life.  the camino di santiago, known in english as “the way of st. james” is a following of the old pilgrimage routes leading to the santiago de compestella where a cathedral holds the remains of the apostle st. james.*

*learn more at http://www.caminodesantiago.me.uk/

if i have only one life to live. . .

if i have only one life to live, let me live it as a blonde was a cathphrase clairol used in 1960s advertisements

it’s been a long time since i have lived in my natural hair color.  in fact, i’m not sure what it is.  every six weeks or so, i get depressed enough that i go to walgreens and buy a box of feria by l’oreal. i use the same shade that is widely advertised to be used by beyonce–#72 dark golden blonde.  oddly enough, i never end up looking like beyonce. i’m not alone in my endeavors. over seventy percent of american women color their hair and going blonde(r) is THE color.

in addition to coloring my hair, i cut my own hair.  usually on the front lawn so that the little snips of hair don’t get all over the house.  i assume somewhere is a very young squirrel who doesn’t appreciate how his mommy brings home nesting materials made from my hair.  people always know when i have cut my hair.  they get a quizzical look on their face.  it’s not quite a look of approval.   i think it’s that they’re wondering if they can help in some way.  especially since i usually don’t use a mirror.   i don’t like getting my nails done, getting a massage, enduring a facial, suffering through a pedicure.  as bad as i was about the fish pedicure in brighton, i’m even worse if there’s a human touching my toes.

so when f2fb friend #260 bridget greco-cokefair suggested that i come to the taylor reese salon in highland park i was queasy.  don’t get me wrong–bridget is wonderful.  she used to color my sons’ hair when they would get parts in plays or movies that required them to be blondes.  or, in the case of joseph, full on white hair.  she’s been very good to our family.  she said she wanted to make me look like the real me.  just better.

i sat in her chair.  she has two chairs going at one time.  the woman in bridget’s second chair seemed perfectly at ease reading a magazine while she waited for her hair to “proecess”.  bridget asked me what i wanted done with my hair.  i said “whatever you want”, secretly hoping she’d go for pink.

bridget put a cape around my shoulders and began slathering my hair with colorant and then wrapping the hair with foil.  i started turning red.  bright red.  my face, my chest, my arms.  i had trouble breathing. i wondered how ridiculous the paramedics would consider me if i were to have to be transported to the hospital with half my head wrapped in foil.  also, would that half end up frying off my scalp????

“if you need to get up and walk around,” bridget offered.

but i knew if i got up i wouldn’t sit down again and then i would have half my head wrapped in tin foil.  also, everybody in the salon–all of them looking quite soigne and relaxed–would know i was incapable of managing the most simple tasks of the twenty first century life.  i played it cool.

“does anybody else ever. . . ?”

“get nervous in the chair?”  bridget prompted.  “absolutely!  a lot of my customers are that way.  i even get hives sometimes when i’m getting my hair done.  i’ll be done in ten minutes and then you can walk all over the place.”

wow!  that was reassuring.  so i went with it.  i was red.  and redder.  like a maraschino cherry in a turtleneck sweater.  and then, after a bit, i just let go of the feeling.  the hives disappeared.  and here’s what i ended up with–

if i have only one life to live, maybe i should live it as i am? i have lots of flaws and quirks and one of them is that i’ve always thought that being a blonde was the platonic ideal of womanhood. also, that beyonce is. on the latter point, i’m absolutely right and jay-z says it’s so! p.s. i’m still a little red-faced.

bridget was shy about having her picture taken but she was quite happy with the results of her efforts–and i am too.  i think this might be the color God made me with!

if you want an appointment with bridget, just call taylor reese salon in highland park at 847 432 8800 or go to their website at taylor-reese.com!

you’re invited! to a pity party! in fact, you can just stay home because that’s where the best pity parties are!

so the weekend before turkey day was actually quite a good one for f2fb!  i got to see f2fb friend #261 kristan schmidt who is the director of walkabout theater in chicago.  we didn’t see a walkabout production, instead we saw “ask aunt susan” at the goodman theater.  the goodman is great chicago theater.   they have several shows running on any one night, they have a bar and a gift shop.  they were especially hawking items for “a christmas carole” which has just opened*.  the goodman building had been a xxx-rated movie theater when i was a teenager.  now that there’s the internet there’s no need for that sort of theater.  ain’t progress grand?

my great grandfather fritz leiber, sr., was a shakespearean actor who often appeared in chicago. here, he is pictured on the movie set of “cleopatra” with his costar theda bara

kristan is friends with seth bokey the playwright and the show was terrific.  and very deep.  so much social commentary that i was a little lost.  after the play, there was a talk back session with the director.  i went out to the bar and got me and kristan a drink.  that’s when i discovered that it’s uncouth to bring your plastic glass of wine into the theater.  i felt like a late stage alcoholic.  or at least that people were looking at me like i was one.

it was great to catch up with kristan. she produced a play eastman was in six years ago. she has had twins since then.

the next night,   i went to the mary-arrchie theater to see the work of f2fb friend #262 carlo garcia who directed “red light winter”.  chicago is a town of great theater diversity.  the mary-arrchie is what some might call “storefront” theater or, to be very precise, “right over the liquor store” theater.  the door to the theater warned that “nudity, strong sexual content, violence, and drug use” would be part of the production.  it was a lot of sin to fit into an hour and a half and it got fit in quite nicely.  and i didn’t realize that the custom of the theater is to purchase a bottle of something at the store and forget glassware.  during the second act, one audience member dropped her cabernet sauvignon and the bottle rolled towards the actors.

tickets for red light winter can be purchased at maryarrchie.com and christmas carole tickets can be purchased at goodmantheatre.org — please don’t get the two plays confused!

but then i had a set back.  my sunday friend cancelled.  and so did the one for monday.  and wednesday.  sure, it was the lead up to thanksgiving and people’s schedules were tightening.  and then i think the worst thing happened:  the self-loathing kicking in.

i’ve made some mistakes with this project.  some that probably will make it difficult to finish this by december 31.   so i had a big pity party. . .

you’re invited to a pity party! must wear pajamas. must not answer phone. must not go outside. must repeat “life is hopeless”. exaggerate the importance of physical maladies. be afraid of everything outside of your house. and a few things inside your house.

it was my joseph who called me at thanksgiving.  it is an element of this pity party that neither of my two boys would be coming home for the holiday.  joseph said i was allowed the rest of the day.  then it had to stop.  eastman called me and repeated the same thing.  so today i am taking off my pajamas and wearing something else.  oh, and i have my lunch set up with f2fb friend #263. . . .

a pity party is easy to set up.  hard to take down.  but the first step for me is to forgive myself and open the front door.  the whole reason for the new years resolution is so that i don’t end up one of those reclusive old ladies with seventeen cats and a collection of all the winnetka talk back issues since before the last world war whose house no kid will approach for trick or treating.

a little loco and less than five degrees away from . . . everybody on facebook!

a newly released facebook study claims that we are only 4.74 degrees of separation from any other person who uses facebook.  and if you’re looking for a stranger who is from the same country, that separation drops to three people.  so that means that i am one friend away from a friend of kevin bacon.

a game called six degrees of separation from kevin bacon establishes the links between every person in the movie industry to bacon. the game was invented at albright college by bored students in a pre-facebook era.

after thanksgiving dinner, i met f2fb friend #263 macon foscue the 4th.  he buys and sells precious metals as ceo of chicago precious metals.  in this time of economic crash and burn, he thinks precious metals are a great investment.  if i had enough money, i would buy gold and silver.  possibly at tiffany’s.

why does santa only say ho? i thought he was supposed to say ho ho ho! is it that santa is trying to cut corners on his vocabulary? or is it more tawdry than that? all the christmas stuff in store windows are reminding me that i have only a few short weeks to visit the remaining facebook friends on my list.

the next day i met up with friends #264 vijay sarthy and #265 don graf.  the two men have been friends ever since vijay–an opthamologist by day–auditioned for the village follies, a fundraiser variety show put on every year at the winnetka community house.  and during the summer, the two men are part of a group that keeps a standing golf appointment from memorial day weekend to labor day.  as part of my f2fb project, i’m going to audition for the show as well.  i might have to take something a bit bracing before i put on those dancing shoes.

i know vijay because he is the stepfather of f2fb friend #25 max henderson.  max is my older son joseph’s best friend and max stayed with us the day that his father colvin succumbed to cancer.  i have not spent a lot of time with vijay and i was charmed by his quick wit.  i know don mostly through other friends.  don is a dj for soirees at various north shore hot spots.  we spent some time reminiscing and trading stories about mutual friends.

as we were about to part,don said that even though we didn’t know each other very well, he had a present from him and vijay.

special golf balls just for me!!!!

i had to ask them about their game.  i was surprised by their response.

golf score smackdown

golf score smackdown

to read more, go to http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/11/22/facebook-claims-474-degrees-kevin-bacon/

the breakfast club convenes at the northfield grill and i might be the bastard of the day

we jump right into winter here in chicago, sometimes without regard to the calendar.  today was that day and i went to the beach where a few short summers ago my father justin (f2fb friend #30) shared a bottle of champagne and dumped fritz’s ashes into lake michigan.  fritz died in 1992 and i’m not sure where justin had been storing the ashes.  justin recited a poem, i mumbled a hail mary, and then i held my breath because as fritz was slipping out of the zip-lock sandwich bag there was a light breeze coming in off the lake.  i sure hope we didn’t violate any state or federal laws regarding the disposal of human remains.

winter

winter

i’ve seen a lot of friends this year and this morning, i was to meet f2fb friends #266 and 267 karen tuchmann gray and joe yolles.  but it isn’t the first time we’ve seen each other this year.  i’ve run into karen and joe at block parties, jam sessions for joe’s band (the yolles brothers band), at lakeside foods, at football parties.

we met at the northfield grill and you might be surprised that i have gained weight this year, at one point a full eight pounds. but i lost four pounds on the “go around the world in seventeen days” diet, which consisted almost exclusively of airplane food and beer. should i write a diet book?

karen is a dance instructor and has written a short book on fairies.  joe is a math teacher and a gifted drummer.  they declined to make fun of me when i explained the recent problem i encountered when i confused vancouver, washington and vancouver, british columbia and booked all sorts of train tickets and hotel rooms based  on not knowing the existence of the former and believing myself to be on my way to the latter.  they are an adorable couple and i hope the coming year allows for more meetings of the breakfast club.  should we ask for a bigger booth so you can be a part of this?

the two adorables! there is, however, a wind and severe weather advisory in chicago so i hightailed it out of the grill and aimed for home. duraflame logs in the fireplace and no obligations except. . . .

this afternoon, at five fifteen i’ll be on http://www.maximumink.com/index.php/radio/schedule/ — with  edub and jimmyk . . . i sure hope i’m not named bastard of the day which is a feature of their show!

movember ends with a shave and do i have to go to the pokey to see f2fb friend #268?

rumors are fun and wildly destructive.  sometimes they are, surprise!, untrue.

one of these things IS true:

a)  i am responsible for the breakup of kris humphreys and kim kardashian

b) i had an affair with presidential candidate herman cain and he gave me coupons for free pizza

c) f2fb friend #268 jeffrey cokefair is in prison

d) i have gained weight this year because i spend more time in planes, trains and automobiles than on the stairmaster and i am mortified by the size of my butt

so at the beginning of this year, i sent out a lot of emails to facebook friends.  some people quickly put out the welcome mat and a few (very few) said no, thanks, this is a bad year for me.  a few, jeffrey cokefair included, said nothing.  made no reply at all.  and for most of those in the last category, i was simply persistent.

sometime in march of this year, i inquired of a mutual friend whether she knew where jeffrey cokefair was hanging out, since i hadn’t seen him around town.

“oh, he went to prison,”  my friend said with a great deal of confidence.  i was so astonished that i didn’t even inquire as to the crime for which jeffrey had been sentenced.  instead, i felt quite sorry, at a distance, for his ex-wife. i also made no follow up to try to see him except when i was traveling on i-57 i would stare wistfully at the pontiac exit sign.

pontiac correctional center is near i-57 in central illinois. on many of my f2fb trips, i would think “should i just stop in and ask if they have jeffrey cokefair?” maybe i could bring him snacks or a cake with a nail file.

i kept this knowledge for a full six months.  he had sold the building he owned in winnetka–one which housed my favorite restaurant–and i couldn’t really ask anybody “do you think he went to prison?”

then earlier this movember, i met f2fb friend #260 bridget greco-cokefair, jeffrey’s ex-wife.  i had vowed to myself that i wouldn’t bring up such a delicate subject.

bridget dyed my hair a beautiful chocolate brown. i got hives, not because i was allergic but because i was nervous. bridget told me lots of people get nervous sitting in a beautician’s chair. she gave me a glass of water and i felt better.

bridget used to dye my sons’ hair when they got parts in shows where directors decided they wanted blonder kids.  so she asked about the boys and about our plans for thanksgiving.  i told her i was sorry that the boys were not coming back into town for thanksgiving but that i still was celebrating the day with my ex-husband and his oldest son david because we have had a tradition of celebrating together.

“oh, we’re the same way,”  bridget said.  “jeffrey and i aren’t married anymore but we’ll do thanksgiving together like we always do.  it’s easier on the kids.”

“so wait a minute!  he’s NOT in prison?”

“no, he’s just working downtown.”

some people think commuting downtown is just as bad as going to prison

so on the last day of movember, i met f2fb friend #268 jeffrey cokefair at dragonfly restaurant near where he works.  he’s part of a new venture, ox and pen, which gives consumers points for checking in from favorite restaurants, salons, spas, and fitness centers.  the points can be used like coupons. loyalty is rewarded.  you can read more about that at http://oxandpen.com — but stop text-messaging me. . . i’m not misspelling movember.

during november–movember–men around the world grow moustaches and beards to raise awareness and funds for prostrate cancer research. jeffrey is going to shave december one.

you can learn more about movember at http://us.movember.com

i feel pretty lousy that i believed something on the basis of one person saying it’s so.  oh, and by the way, i didn’t do the nasty with herman cain and the kardashian-humphreys were able to break up all by themselves and in record time!

some of your facebook friends never want to see you, ever!

or at least they don’t want to see me.

some of them are quite blunt.  one facebook friend this year said “i’ve been trying to date you for three years and now you just want to see me for your stupid f#%@king project!”  i was surprised because i thought we were just facebook friends.  another woman wrote to me back in march that “this year isn’t a good year for us to get together” and i envisioned a datebook full of appointments, balls, soirrees, expeditions to france or the antarctica.  i saw her in the grocery store recently.  perfectly friendly, i didn’t bring up my new years resolution.

some of those who don’t want to see me prevaricate.  they say after this month.  work is tight, but when it gets a little better.  after my dental surgery.  after my dog gets spayed.  and i wait and then re-ask and hear a new reason for delay.

some of those who don’t want to see me just don’t respond.  after a while, i get the picture and i’ll write a perfectly inventive fellow in that category tomorrow.  for today,  i will discuss the curious case of f2fb friend #269.  normally you don’t get a number if you don’t show up.  i chalk it up as a failure and the day goes by without a post.  but this was soooooooooooooooooooooo close that i almost feel i met him.  in fact, i’m pretty sure mr. 269 was outside my door looking into my living room, seeing me at the fireplace. . . .

i wasn’t sure how i knew mr. 269.  our only mutual friend was miss f2fb friend #200 elizabeth stein.  liz was and is a very very close friend of my ex-husband and it came as a shock to him when she announced her nuptials to f2fb friend 159 richard gordon.  my ex-husband asked me to go to the wedding as a favor to him.  i did.  and a few days later, i received a friendship request from mr. 269.  he wore a baseball cap in his profile picture.  i thought about whom i had met at the reception and decided i had probably talked to him.  it would be rude of me to say no.

over the course of this year, he has poked me.  sent me one word messages “huggs” “kisses” “hello” and “soon”.  we have made several dates.  he would prefer to have those dates consist of him coming to my home with a bottle of wine.  i demurred.  i thought perhaps he was shy in public about meeting me.  this weekend we set up seeing me at my house against my better judgment, but i felt safe.

beth and zeeb went to a furniture fair in chicago and appreciated an invitation to stay overnight at my house–after all, their datsun doesn’t make a comfortable bed. i went to high school with zeeb. they are both committed to the paga religion. they are sweet and fun chaperones.

i cleaned the house.  put up a christmas tree, put wreaths on the door, bought wine in case everybody drank wine, bought beer in case some people drank beer.   went to the atm for pizza money.  put sheets on the guest room bed.

and at a little after six, i got a call from mr. 269.  he was nearly there.  traffic was a little tight.  i reminded him that zeeb and beth would be arriving around eight.  we’d have a chance to get to know each other but — i didn’t say this — not so much of a chance that trouble could occur.  and he’d have a nice escape clause if he decided i was boring.  instead, i said how much i was looking forward to finally meeting me.  he said the same thing.

then zeeb and beth arrived.  about an hour later, f2fb friend #20 charlie seymour arrived with his dog eddie.  the five of us had a great time–beth had made elderberry wine. i got the strangest sensation that there was someone at the door, at the window, but everytime i checked there was . . . nobody.

the couple brought me a fairie they had made themselves and i put it in my tree. can you find it?

an hour later, charlie left.  it was now closing in on eight thirty.  i got us a pizza.  later, we went to bed.  i am reading an annotated version of jane austen’s persuasion.  it’s really quite good and i was asleep in ten minutes.  i woke at one o’clock.  i checked my facebook page.  a message from mr. 269

“have to make it when you come back.  safe journeys”

sent around eight o’clock.  i was stood up.  again.  i went back to bed but in the morning i sent a text on my phone.

“what happened?”

“i sent you a facebook message.   my cousin got arrested for speeding”

farewell, mr. 269.  i got so down on myself i spent the rest of the day watching old episodes of pan am, reading that jane austen, ordering dominos pizza (twice!), and gaining four pounds which i must assume is largely water weight.  my fingers look like little baby carrots with paper cuts.

okay, so some of my facebook friends NEVER want to see me, EVER!  i just have to find the last remaining ones who do.

p.s. i’m keeping mr. f2fb friend #269

the academy award goes to . . . .

allegra

allegra

i was quite nervous and well i should be:  the academy awards of chicago.  or rather, the Best of the Midwest Awards night!!!!!!  notice the caps, i don’t usually roll that way with caps.

this is when everybody in chicago’s independent movie scene gets together for awards and festivities.  my f2fb friend #270 mike mcnamara had invited me!!!!  to be fair, he had also invited everybody else in chicago, including his 4551 friends.  4550 plus me.

dennis farina was a celebrity “confirmed attendee” and he was up for best actor for “last rites of joe may”

mike and i became facebook friends when i first got on facebook when the network was being opened up to the general public in 2006.  we started with five friends and then five friends more.

mike once was in a movie with one of my sons.  i knew him personally.  but now i don’t.  mike is the director of the midwest independent film festival.  he’s a big deal. i’m not.

when i lived in chicago in the early 1980’s rockit was not in a good neighborhood. i lived at the lawson ymca which was most definitely not in a good neighborhood. i don’t remember rockit being here but i’ll bet it was a beer and a shot place back then.

murphy my taxi driver dropped me off.  he told me i should have worn the orange ball gown.  instead, i wore a black skirt and a black sweater.  such a daring choice, miss allegra????

but it was good because i was by myself.  my galpal and my backup galpal had both cancelled.  i was on my own.  and i suck at walking into a party by myself.

yes, i paid fifty dollars to get into the party.  yes, i managed to get a drink at the bar.  really, i should get combat pay for that.  i figured out which guy was mike mcnamara (after a few false starts that were as much of an embarrassment to others as to myself) and yes, i shook hands with mike and just started to say “i’m arlynn presser and i have this new year’s resolution to meet all my. . .”

and he was gone.  sucked into the party vortex.  murphy texted me.  the early text.  meant to establish that i’m okay.  instead, i texted back.  let’s go home.  i did it.  i shook hands.  but i didn’t get a picture.  a video. or even a look that said “oh, yeah, i know who you are.”

murphy said no worries.

“that facebook thing is like an address book,”  he said.  “sometimes it’s so long you don’t remember why you put that girl’s name down.”

he dropped me off but not before a quick stop at the liquor store.  i put on my orange gown.  my little orange maribou boa.  i sat in front of the living room fireplace and drank champagne.

and the award for best portrayal of arlynn presser in a calendar year goes to . . . arlynn presser. we are all academy award winners of our own lives!

and then i remembered murphy’s last words:  “remember, you gotta be up at seven thirty for those kids in the orchestra.  ‘member?”

′s spot open.  after all, maybe his cousin will get out of jail!  maybe speeding doesn’t carry a death penalty the way it used to!  maybe mr. 269 will change his mind.

when young musicians play scelsi . . .

at seven fifteen, f2fb friend #271 sheryl nussbaum and her crew were expecting one hundred preteen musicians.  it was the final rehearsal before the blowout, warmly anticipated winter festival 2011.  the gym at washburne school had been converted into a concert space for two orchestras and two choirs.  sheryl directs the orchestras, amy is in charge of the choirs.  they are assisted by aj keller and ben nadel.  and me? i was put to work guarding the halls and telling kids they couldn’t just throw their backpacks down on the floor and run, they had to put them next to the wall so as to not create a fire hazard.

“USE YOUR TEACHER VOICE!”  sheryl prescribed.  i think i have more of a “random adult who hopes that you don’t go home and tell your parents that i yelled at you and then i get sued” voice.

after the musicians were corraled into place, the sixth graders.  it was determined that fully four had lost their music–one young man his attention span, cello bridge AND his music.  nonetheless, sheryl was determined they should start with the first two pieces in the program.

i complimented the students–i said that generally natura renovatur by giaconta scelsi is one of the twentieth century’s most difficult discordant piece. turns out they were playing deck the halls.

i have always been on the other side of the winter festival.  and the jazzfest.  and spring serenade.  and all the different concerts that a parent attends during an average year.  it looked to me always that there was a little disorganization, as if, well, couldn’t the teachers get these kids to PAY ATTENTION!?  at new trier high school, where most of these kids will go and where my two sons played, there was discipline and determination, perfection, well fitted tuxedos and twenty dollar c.d.’s sold out in the lobby after a performance. there’s the solicitations for “angel investors” in the program and there’s trips to national competitions where new trier kicks musical butt.

for many of sheryl’s kids in fifth through eighth grade, this will be the last year that they can participate in a school music experience and not have their egos destroyed.  so she gets her student teacher to fix the bridge on the cello, she tells the kids who have lost their music that they need to find someone who does have music and make a copy in the principal’s office.  she sighs, cajols, begs, pleads, and most of all, leads.  this is seven thirty in the morning and by seven thirty this evening, she will have a winter festival with parents brushing away the tears as they watch their little bertrams and hermiones.  sheryl has a very long day ahead of her.

this morning, the bertrams and hermiones are a yammering, whispering, kicking, arguing, dithering, daydreaming horde.  if i were sheryl, i know how i’d deal with it all:

Video 83

Video 83

tonight i finally meet jessica zweig of cheekychicago.com and i pack for new york. . . as always i will be accompanied by f2fb friend #60 william clark who may be dead but he’s still good company!

i’m feeling pretty alec baldwin myself today

last night, i was feeling all cinderella–i was invited by f2fb friend #272 jessica zweig to a cheekychicago.com party at the stylish oak street shop calypso.  cheeky chicago is a woman’s guide to the city and a cheeky chick is “fun, fabulous, and fierce. . . . chic, intelligent and in-the-know.”  i needed more than a fairy godmother to transform me, but i put on the arlynn uniform of black skirt, black sweater and headed downtown.

i wasn’t sure how i knew jessica.  i wasn’t even sure if i’d recognize her.  but that doesn’t phase jessica–every month she’s doing what i’ve been doing this year, meeting facebook friends.  she has over 2900 but she is very careful about whose friendship requests she accepts:  she accepts only cheeky chicks (although our one mutual friend is f2fb friend #239 jim levin and i just don’t see him that way).  she invites her friends to parties that showcase what’s best about the city:  this evening it was a resort wear shop–there was a cupcake buffet and champagne that was only out-sparkled by the conversations of jessica’s friends.

jessica is adorable, beautiful and quick to welcome me with a big hug! i had such a wonderful time and i can’t wait for cheekychicago.com’s january event!

but every cinderella has to wake up by the cold fireplace.  which i literally did.  the duraflame box was empty, it was six o’clock, and i knew that i am going to have an alec baldwin day.

mr. baldwin got thrown off an american airlines flight yesterday–perhaps he wasn’t carrying his capital one credit card! what happens with his miles?

i’m flying today.  at the beginning of the year, just this statement alone would scare me.  plane crashes.  that’s what i worried about but these days there’s so much more.  after more than forty flights (i miscounted at 39 a few days ago) this year alone in my quest to meet all my facebook friends by the end of the year, i can honestly say that alec baldwin is right:  the airlines have sucked every possible pleasure out of the flying experience.  and they are aided by t.s.a. who makes even six year olds and eighty five year old grandmothers feel like they are doing a perp walk when they try to get to their gates.

i will be manhandled.  i will have some gal with blue latex gloves feel me up.  i’ll have someone snap at me with disdain.  oh, wait, mr. baldwin didn’t have to go through that because he travels first class.

and at my seat, the porcine man to my right will take over the armrests while the woman on my left will cough up weird green matter.  then the flight attendant will tell me i can’t put my bag here, can’t put my bag there, can’t leave my window open, and that tray table better stay up there even if it’s broken.  of course, in first class there’s a little more room and the flight attendants put your bags away for you and ask you if they can take your coat as well.

and then me and my fellow passengers will sit at the gate for half an hour.   and the captain will say we’re leaving in fifteen and we’ll all know he’s lying.  you never want to believe your captain is lying.  at least in first class they get a drink.  my preflight beer will have worn off and nobody is allowed to use the bathroom whether we slam the door or close it very very gently.

but i’m doing this because this year i made a new year’s resolution to meet my facebook friends.  thank you, f2fb friend jessica zweig for giving me a hug and telling me that i can finish this!!!!

p.s. mr. baldwin wrote an apology to his fellow passengers that you c

you’re going to make it after all!

f2fb friend #273 prescott seymour and i could have met at laguardia on thursday evening.  we were coming in at the same time–he from orlando and me from chicago.  we both saw the taxi line.  i stayed, he fled.  we didn’t see each other but i had come to new york specifically to see him.  it would have to wait until friday night.

i’m not good at uncertainty and when i don’t know exactly what i’m doing and what’s going to happen, i get extremely nervous.  prescott is a little more relaxed about time and he should be–he has just returned from a two year journey of being a performer on the disney cruise lines.  he’s been all over the world, living in a ship, doing thirteen shows a week, and always always always in character. . ..

i was at cinderella’s castle and told the disney actress she did a great job of being cinderella. she blinked and said “and you do a GREAT job of being you!” those are very very wise words. but prescott says being on a disney cruise ship is like that. always maintain character, so if someone says “you were great in peter pan last night” you say “that wasn’t me, peter pan came from neverland!” prescott does a great job of being a lot of people..
so while i was waiting to hear from prescott i couldn’t get motivated.  all of new york outside my hotel and i couldn’t go out.  and when i did i found it very overwhelming.  i can see why new yorkers get a reputation for being brusque and quite possibly a bit, well, pushy.  but they have to be or else they would be swept away and find themselves unexpectedly bobbing along in the hudson river.   but i became a bit of a new yorker and found it too much–especially since i was convinced that prescott was going to flake out on me.  i’ve had entirely too much of that in this project. . .
maybe i’m the flakey one

maybe i’m the flakey one

but maybe i’m the flakey one?
in any event, i wiped off the mascara and met prescott and eric at the rockefeller center.  it was a friday night and every tourist had decided that looking at the tree was a great idea.  regular new yorkers were heading for the exit doors.
prescott has four siblings–cory russ rickerson, christi russ, deb, charlie and tom seymour.  the seymour-russ-rickersons live in alaska, colorado, illinois and new york.  i have seen them all this year.  i hadn’t known much about prescott because we ordinarily see each other at parties and you can’t really get to know how charming and great someone is until you have some face time with them.  this trip was definitely worth it because i’ve come to see prescott that way!  (and eric too)  and they went all mary tyler moore on me!
mary tyler moore

mary tyler moore

so the next time i see prescott and eric will be in chicago.  we’ll be playing whirlyball, we won’t have much time to catch up, but prescott is not going to be “oh, the younger brother who’s an actor” and eric isn’t going to be “the boyfriend of the younger brother who’s an actor”. . . and we’re going to totally rule the whirly ball court!

an read right here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alec-baldwin/american-airlines-service-_b_1135201.html?ref=entertainment&ir=Entertainment

how to work the runway–lessons in being a supermodel

sometimes i travel a long way to see a facebook friend and f2fb friend #274 victoria stone-grace traveled to visit me!  she and her friend marcus drove three hours from northampton, massachusetts to see me in new york before i headed back to winnetka.  i hadn’t seen tory in such a long time that i was worried i wouldn’t recognize her.  but then i saw a tall, cool, sophisticated gal amidst the earnest tourists, somberly dressed natives and, oh, yes, the santas.

new york city was host to a santa run and so a quarter of the people in midtown manhattan were dressed as either santa, a sexy santa, or an elf. i was dressed as a midwestern middle aged lady who lives out of a suitcase

then i saw a long, tall, sophisticated drink of a lady.  with a dude in a striped sweater.  tory grace had ARRIVED!  tory is my younger son’s eastman’s age, she’s a sophomore at smith college and she had moved with her family from winnetka when she was in seventh grade to live in texas.  i am facebook friends with both her and her brother alex.  up until a few months ago, alex lived in chicago and i sort of assumed i would get to see him when my schedule lightened up a bit.  then he was transferred by his company to mexico city.  i’ve already been on a one day trip to mexico city and know i won’t get to see him before the new year–

tory told me a curious story that forms one of her most vivid memories of me:  she and eastman were in fourth grade and had both been sentenced to detention.  as we all know, detention goes on your permanent record and can bar you from later success in life.  when i came to pick up eastman, i offered tory a ride home.  she was very upset thinking that she was now on the fast track to failuretown.  i told her no worries.

“you’re tall, beautiful, and you’re going to be a supermodel when you grow up,”  i said.  “and i might as well teach you how to walk like a supermodel right now so you’ll be ready when your big break comes.”

in order to walk like a supermodel, cross your right foot over your left leg so that it’s actually to the left of that leg. then pull your left leg out from behind your right leg and place your right foot to the left of your left leg. this method is approved by giselle!

apparently, tory and i practiced supermodel walking up and down the hallway of crow island school until somebody told us to go home.  it was with a heavy heart that i confessed to tory that i am not, and have never been, a supermodel.  but that’s okay, because tory is a art history, philosophy and museum management triple threat major.  she can be a supermodel whenever she chooses to be.

then i realized i had to get to the airport.  i had f2fb friend #275 dave gotaas taking me to the apostolic church of God at eight a.m. the next morning.  i had to rush.  i asked tory and her friend what they were planning to do since they were already in new york.  they said they were going to the museum of modern art.  i did something that i could NEVER have done january first of this year. . .

directions to moma

directions to moma

thank you so much victoria stone-grace for coming to see me in new york and being part of my new year’s resolution!!!  and if you decide on that supermodel thing, i’m happy to give you a refresher course on the walk. . .

being a minority on the most segregated day of the week

i’m a white chick in america.  most of the places i go to i am the same color as most of the people around me.  there might or might not be asians, blacks, hispanics where i’m at but i’m seldom in a situation in which i’m the ONLY white woman in the joint.  this morning was a little bit of the strange.

meeting (so far) 275 facebook friends in person, i’ve learned a lot about how everyone struggles with or finds comfort with their faith.  this year, i’ve been to churches and synagogues, i’ve had long conversations with people of faith and people who profess no faith whatsoever.  i have had a laying on of hands in both the reiki and the christian tradition.  i have meditated with friends, prayed with others. i have been forgiven for past wrongs by facebook friends, and i’ve come to know peace in my relations with some facebook friends.  i have surprised by traditions i have i been shown.  i know facebook friends have prayed for me.

when i was growing up, my adoptive mother mrs. patrick tunneled towards a notion that i was a partner to satan.  not just possessed, because possessed would sort of mean that i still existed as a great daughter but i was being held captive by evil and you want to find the exorcist who will tease that satan out of your kid.  no, no, this notion was that me and satan–well, we had a lock on that fall from grace stuff. we were entrepreneurs.  we were doing a road trip on the saved.

this notion became a certainty for her and i came to believe she would kill me. . . and would regard killing me as doing good for the world.  as soon as i reached that conclusion about her, i knew i had to get out of the patrick household.  which i did when i was just shy of fifteen.  i am fifty one years old and it is still tough to think about God and tough to think about my adoptive mom.

my f2fb friend #275 dave gotaas doesn’t struggle in the same way.  his grandparents were missionaries in what was the belgian congo (present day democratic republic of the congo) and his parents were missionaries in south america until dave was in eighth grade.  the family then came to live in wilmette and dave’s father took over the winnetka bible church.  dave is sure of his faith but sometimes unsure about how the world around him can reject God.

i met dave because we’re both in rotary club. he and his wife sally live in northfield. sally was busy being a hostess at their home church in lake forest so she couldn’t join us

i got home from new york city late last night and frankly was in no mood to get up early and drive to the south woodlawn neighborhood of chicago for a church service.  but i was intrigued by the fact that dave often visits other churches and that this one is the chicago church he most admires.  in fact, he had introduced me to dr. byron t. brazier seniors and junior a few years ago at a rotary meeting. dave is a church service connoisseur.

we pulled into the parking lot at 63rd and south dorchester and dave’s pick up truck was pretty much the wreck of the yard (no disrespect, dave!)  also, i realized that although dave was wearing a nice enough suit and i was wearing the arlynn uniform of black skirt, sweater, and boots, we were horrifically underdressed.  i have been told by many pastors that God doesn’t care how you dress on sundays.  that might be true, but the God the parishioners were coming to see at the apostolic church was a God they wanted to impress, they wanted to honor, they wanted to show respect to.  and they were respecting each other by wearing a hat, a corsage, a bespoke suit.  as someone who saw parents at new trier graduation wearing “i’m with stupid” t-shirts and jeans. . . i was impressed.

as we walked from the parking lot (well, one of four parking lots surrounding the church), every single person greeted me and dave with a “praise the Lord” or “praise God”. . . .

in the movie crocodile dundee, mick dundee (played by paul hogan) greets every new yorker he passes with a “g’day!” which proves impossible as he walks along times square. there’s just too many people to greet and it lightheartedly points out the difference between a rural australian and a tough american city. i sort of felt this in reverse at the apostolic church. so many people were greeting me and i didn’t know how to maintain eye contact and respond quickly. . .

i was a little intimidated, as we took our seats, because dave and i were the only white people in the sanctuary which was filling up rapidly.   a half hour before the service started there were five hundred people.  then eight hundred, then a thousand people ready to worship together as a family.  it has been said that sunday is the most segregated day of the week, with americans dividing themselves into “black churches”, “white churches”, “korean churches”. . . i guess that’s probably true.  i don’t see many blacks, hispanics or asians at my catholic church.

i really felt the presence of God.  in the singing.  in the praising.  in the hands held up to receive the blessings of God.  people interrupting each other in their rush to praise Jesus and to reinforce rev. byron brazier’s message.  i counted thirty five people who were received at the pulpit because they had been baptized and then had made the decision to join the church.  at the end of the service, brazier asked if anybody wanted to come into the family of God, to be baptized, to have the peace of the love of God.  eight people walked up to the pulpit, three of them children.  much praise was given.

the sanctuary has an interesting feature:  set into the wall behind the pulpit is a built-in tub (kind of like a jacuzzi) about twenty feet above the three choir rows.  brazier finished the service and then he donned a white robe and, with an assistant similarly enrobed, he entered the tub from a door i couldn’t see.  the eight people, one by one, came out to be immersed in the water.  they had changed their clothes into white robes with white caps to protect their hair.  water spilled over onto a retaining wall.  people clapped and gave praise.  and then prayed for the next and newest baptimist.  i wanted, with every fiber of my being to be baptized.  p.s. i didn’t take any pictures because i would consider that to be sacrilegious but if you want to see the inside of the sanctuary, go to the church website at http://www.acog-chicago.org

and why didn’t i get baptized?  why didn’t i go?  if i felt like i could, why didn’t i?  part of it, i was the only white chick.  i didn’t want to draw attention (more attention) to myself.

but also, damn, the shower caps, the white robes, i’m one of those gals whose priests just put a teeny drop of holy water on you. . . no dunking!

i hope my mom accepts my friendship request

i thought about my two moms yesterday.  it’s near christmas.  i worry about whether i’m a good mom to my boys.  i watched an episode of modern family.  i get a little sentimental.

so i checked.  yes, my mom is on facebook.  my biological mom.

this picture was probably taken around the time my mother and i had contact with each other. she would have been about my age. now she would be in her early seventies

my biological mom aleta and her then-husband my biological father justin put me up for adoption just before i turned three years old.  i was adopted by the patrick family.  the patricks were told by the adoption agency caseworker that it was best to change my name (from arlynn to lynn) and to try to erase all memories of my relationship with my biological parents.  when i finally went to live with the patricks i wasn’t allowed to take my clothes or even my favorite stuffed kitten.  i obviously knew i had been adopted but nothing else beyond that bare fact.  in fact, when i saw my birth certificate for the first time,  i was startled to realize that the state of illinois had switched the names of my parents.

these days people are more inclined to use “open” adoption or to give the child a sense of whatever heritage or history there is.

mrs. patrick was over forty when i came into the patrick family.

i left the patricks when i was just shy of fifteen and entered into the illinois foster system.  ultimately i went to college and law school.  after law school, i hired a private investigator to locate my biological parents.  it took him roughly a month to find my father justin (who is my facebook friend) and it took him roughly another month to locate my mother because she had remarried and divorced a second time, retaining her second husband’s last name.

after a few years, i lost track of my mom aleta.  i’ve tried phone books, google searches, directory assistance a few times over the years but she has seemed lost to me forever.  this morning, it took me less than twenty seconds to find her on facebook.  i’ve sent a friendship request.  we’ll see what happens.  so far she has “ignored” the request.

yesterday, i also got a chance to get a “two-fer” on my facebook new year’s resolution.  i am friends with liza roche who works for the sun-times media group.  i first met her at the winnetka rotary club.

liza roche is my f2fb friend #276!

liza is also the editor of the winnetka talk newspaper.  the winnetka talk is one of many chicago area pioneer press papers owned by the sun-times.

f2fb friend #277 has three stories and lots of cubicles inside.

i saw both friends at the pioneer press offices.  in the days before the internet, a newspaper often had a “bullpen” of reporters working together.  these days,  a reporter might work from home or from the table next to you at starbucks or caribou coffee.

raven of the northwest on my last big trip of the f2fb year!

it’s nearly the end of this resolution, i’m getting so close and yet so many friends i’ll probably never meet.  and that makes me wonder about whether i’m really friends with them.  my last major flight was yesterday morning and f2fb friend #278 rob woolson was so kind as to call me and take me to the airport.  i was a bit cranky but he was determined.

second to last flight

second to last flight

in vancouver, my father justin (f2fb friend #30) was waiting.  he had spent the previous day with bruce byfield (f2fb friend #279).  justin’s wife barbara had been quite concerned that justin not be required to sleep in a hovel so instead of the vancouver ymca we went to the fairmont hotel where i ran into the biggest celebrity in the entire world!!!

santa baby

santa baby

f2fb friend #279 bruce byfield wrote his dissertation on fritz leiber, my grandfather, who was a science fiction writer.  br