Monthly Archives: September 2011

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.

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.

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. . . .

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?

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 #224 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!

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!

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.

i wish the lady in the van hadn’t stopped to ask for directions because this was getting pretty interesting!


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!”

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.


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–although maybe the diet doesn’t CAUSE that.

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!

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!

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. . .

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.

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 a glow about her–i didn’t get a chance to ask  because 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 for more info!

*to my surprise, it would be the first time the two mrs. sickles had ever met!

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 #215vince 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  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.  . . .,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!

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 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.


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.

and now i ask 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?