Monthly Archives: August 2011

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!


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!



i loved hearing that from mr. fwfb #202’s voice across the parking lot of the  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?????

the two foxes (jeez, it’s not hard to consider jokes about their names–i mean, phil and jill???) taught me about http//

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?????


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.

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!

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–

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!

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.  ..  .

almost at the two hundred mark, a southern excursion!


so, 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!

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.

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!

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.

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–

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–


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!

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”.

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!

a link, an itinerary, and a lagniappe

so today i have three nice surprises to share:

1.  an article explaining the f2fb project.  the writer wendy donahue does a better job of explaining me and the photographers chris walker and benjamin gonzalez make me look a lot better than i am in real life.,0,4059760.story


2.  an itinerary of sorts:

a.  atlanta, huntsville, tallahassee on the 20 through the 24th

b.  montreal the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth of september

c.  alaska on the thirteenth through sixteenth of october

d.  (gulp) from the eighteenth of october through the fifth of november–korea, taiwan, india, united arab emirates, turkey, italy, germany, and england

somehow i have to squeeze in the northwest and southern california before the october fly out.  i am starting to get just a little dizzy.

3.  a lagniappe–one thing i’ve learned this year is that if you have a clipboard and any sort of laminated pass that says “media” you can get in anywhere, whether a san diego comicon or a chicago half marathon.  so here’s a media pass–

print this, laminate it, and put it on a lanyard. carry a clipboard or a camera. now you can get into anyplace on earth!


i was at the chicago rock n’roll half marathon with f2fb friend #194 rett britt this weekend and he had an extra pass so i was able to look all official.  i really admired the athletes because everything that they have done to prepare for the race was done with the encouragement of friends and family–the race itself was just the let go and enjoy the ride time.  these athletes do amazing things!

tomorrow i hope to see f2fb friend #195 patti schmidt!