Monthly Archives: May 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!

i left the nesmiths after a tour of coe college and continued west. . .

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 shout out 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 (f2fb #129) noticed that this man was posting flirty stuff on my wall and, since he was doing the same thing to her, she got suspicious.  she tracked down what his real story was and then she laid it out in front of me.  we both defriended him.  thank you phyllis, for watching my back!

we 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.

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. . . . but my new year’s resolution is to meet every one of my facebook friends before year’s end so i messaged carla.

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 by radio, the can’t stop yourself from dancing “don’t want your man” and the fresh “get pumped up”.  i met carla because she loaned her talents to 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!

and here’s a link to the version of “don’t want your man” she performed on the night i worked on the music video for vince p.  this gal is amazing!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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!

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–

*visit the website to see all about that part of my life.