Monthly Archives: April 2011

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. . . . .

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. .. .

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. . …. .


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.

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!


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?

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!


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!


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–


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.

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.


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:

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!


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.

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


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!


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.

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!

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!