Monthly Archives: July 2011

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.

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!

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’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!

this is the part, of course, where the director gets to yell “cut”.

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.

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!

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:

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.

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!

f2fb friend #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 Mr. X 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 recognized Mr. X.  we hugged, said hi, and i asked him about what the doctor had told him.  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

so the drive 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!

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.

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.

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.


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 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  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.

you can check out his work at — 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!

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.

i really look forward to seeing josh garfinkel again when he comes to chicago!

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.

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!