Monthly Archives: September 2011

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?

you will be assumpted into heaven in a lincoln town car. . .

. . . driven by a man named robert who will call you ma’am. well, at least he called me ma’am.  and he let me change the channel on the radio and turn it up real loud when pink was singing “raise your glass” and let me turn it down when the news came on.

of course, i took my fiance william clark (f2fb friend #60)!

i have mentioned many times over the past nine months my conviction that i will go to hell after i die.  about how anxiety attacks and fear for me are wrapped up in the certainty that this event is happening right now!

but what would it be like if i believed i were going to heaven?  the angel of death came to my house around one o’clock and his name was robert.  he drove me in a lincoln town car down to a television studio.  i was shown into a dressing room where a feast was laid out and two very beautiful producers asked me if i needed anything and told me i was just great.  then a makeup man did my face and a gal did my hair.  because everybody wanted me to look my best.  and then we waited.

when i was told by the stage manager that it was my turn i realized i had almost forgotten why i was in this place.  she led me into the back of a stage area.  i could see through curtains a couple of hundred people.  cameras at every angle.  lights full on the stage with such ferocity that i was sure i would be blinded.  the stage manager told me to go forward, into the arena.  all by myself.  i was afraid but i remembered the letter to the hebrews which scholars believe may have been written by paul, barnabas, apollos, silas, aquila, pricilla or clement of rome.  whoever it was had to be an athlete, possibly in training for a marathon.  because at one point the writer says “where seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with confidence* the race that is set before us.”

i realized my biggest fear was that i would trip in my heels.  i held out my hand.  a very nice person who seemed to be in charge of women who are afraid of tripping in heels took my hand and guided me to a chair next to the chair of a very nice woman who asked me how i was feeling.  i said great.

the cloud of witnesses quieted.  we watched a short video about the f2fb project.  after the video, the woman seated next to me asked some questions.  i realized that everybody wanted me to succeed–from robert the angel town car driver to person in the last row of seats.  there was no accusation in the questions the woman next to me posed.  there was no derision or judgment from the audience.  i had been paralyzed with fear for two days just thinking of this very moment but i had no need of that.  there was a great sense of “this is kind of fun and maybe interesting”. . . . and there were three f2fb friends there as well!  that was the most astonishing part.

paddy seymour (f2fb friend #214), cathy jacobson (213), me, and cindy clohesy (214)  i was so amazed that they were there!


cindy clohesy (f2fb friend #212) is a personal trainer and she had cancelled some client time just to be with me–she’s the brunette with the blue blouse.  cathy jacobson (f2fb friend #213) is wearing pink.  she is on her way to las vegas lucky gal!!!  and paddy seymour (f2fb friend #214) is on the left–she drove home with me.

suddenly, it was over.  the woman beside me shook hands, kissed my cheek and the world was awash with goodbyes and “great segment”!  i think heaven, should i ever be so lucky and blessed, would be a review of one’s life and deeds without the criticism and angst i bring to things.  and then i shall be part of a cloud of witnesses.  i don’t think this “great segment” will ever air but i believe it taught me so much about how silly i am.

i came home and fell asleep well before eight thirty because i had invested so much unnecessary fear and anxiety into the enterprise.  i woke up thinking it was time to start my day, thinking my phone was broken because it said it was only one a.m.  but it really was one a.m.  it was time to drink the last half of the beer i had started at eight fifteen and very quietly, without any cloud of witnesses save for that of angels, think “okay, i can do things i’m afraid of if i ask for help from my friends” . . . .

*some translations use the word “patience”  instead of confidence. what-evs!

nothing is worth doing unless it first appears to be impossible!

i should have asked my two facebook friends to shop with me.  because i am invited to be on a new talk show and have been instructed to wear a bright color, no prints.   i opened my closet sunday morning and there was a black dress, and another, and another, punctuated by an occasional black skirt.  i think i have been in mourning for my life.

instead of shopping, i went to a brunch at vinci’s on halsted street, right next to the steppenwolf theater.  after brunch was a performance of clybourne park.  the play is about what happens when the first black family moves into a  home in an all white neighborhood and what happens twenty years later when the first white couple proposes to move into the same home.  i believed f2fb friend #210 lynn sanders would enjoy the brunch and the play particularly since the playwright bruce norris would stop in at the brunch and say a few words.

lynn is a playwright who developed a play about artificial insemination of the whooping cranes in beriboo, wisconsin. it inspired me to write a short story. inspiration works in strange ways.

the brunch wasn’t my doing.  it was organized by f2fb friend #211 nabil foster, who is a fellow northwestern law school alum and a partner in a law firm.

nabil is of the ba'hai faith and has a strong sense of social justice. i don't know how he has time to do everything!

unfortunately, lynn wasn’t feeling well and we ended up coming home before the play was performed.  at least she got a chance to speak with the playwright as well as the artistic director of steppenwolf.  if you want tickets to the play, here’s a link:

tomorrow, i will write about the taping.  the producer from the show promised me a surprise.  i hope it’s not a snake!

two thirds of the way through this project and this year–it’s time for me to think about what next year’s resolution will be.  to try to lose five pounds?  puh-leeze.  nothing is worth doing if it at first does not appear to be impossible.

what’s your new year’s eve resolution going to be???

i will move up your legs until i meet resistance!

as a pick up line, it’ll get you to third base but you ain’t gonna make it to home.  coming from a t.s.a. agent while she’s snapping her blue plastic gloves, it was enough to give me a serious case of the swoons.  i was in a plexiglass cage at the albany airport security gate, with helga (she didn’t have a nametag but i would lay a benjamin down for her being a helga).  four male agents were positioned around the cage.

“i will move up your legs until i meet resistance,”  she said and she crouched before me.  grabbing one of my ankles.

i did what any catholic girl would do, i snapped my knees together.

karl and joe really were a lot of fun! i liked montreal but maybe not the authorities! brandon got a speeding ticket on the way back and is now on a registry for canadian criminals because he refuses to pay the fine. i won't go back either, except to visit bruce byfield in vancouver

helga’s hands were strong, the fingers seeking flesh that was fecund, lush, malleable.  that’s when she hit third base, just beyond the lace edge of my thong panty.  for those of you who are not up on your lingerie technicalities, a thong panty is a cross between a g-string and a tanga panty.  victoria’s secret puts out an academic journal that serves as a catalog AND an educational tool.

in any event, her fingers flickered just a bit under the lace and i thought, “jeez, this gal hasn’t asked me to dinner, hasn’t told me i’m pretty, or even kissed me!”  after repeating the process on my other leg (did i imagine that she lingered a bit too long?), she said i could go.

truth is i was really shook up.  and i came home to review my run-ins with canadian and american authorities.  i had a serious case of the doubts.  but i couldn’t give in just yet, because i was having lunch with f2fb friend #209 tim smithe.

tim smithe was friends with joseph and eastman all through middle school and high school.  he did plays with them, played in bands with them, and probably got into all sorts of trouble with them that i am blessed to not know about.  but after tim graduated from high school and went to missouri for college, the story faltered.  keeping up with facebook, i was able to get the general drift:  he had a rough patch, he moved out to los angeles, he came back and fell in love, and last i heard he was working at the nordstrom’s ladies shoes department.  now THIS was a f2fb encounter i could appreciate!!!

however, tim has moved on from nordstrom’s.  he works at  he has an apartment in the city.  he has a fabulous girlfriend.   he wears a suit like he owns the city.  we went to the midtown grille and caught up.  i am so happy to know him.

tim's father and two uncles own walter e smithe furniture company. i respect how tim is making his own way in the world, even though i'm sure the smithe company would love to have him working there!

tim was interested in my new years resolution and asked a lot of questions.  i mentioned that some of my facebook friends whom i meet are going through tough times, particularly when they lose their jobs.  i wondered if tim, as a professional, had any advice–

i was so happy to see tim and he mentioned a way that he has been affected by my facebook project.  he said that sometimes he’s overwhelmed by messages and posts and notifications on facebook and sometimes he says to himself “i’ll get to that message later”.  he’s making a resolution of his own–to follow up more quickly with people.  i admire that!

the ex-pats take me to the biodome!

having survived my midnight express border crossing moment, i headed into montreal. i ate poutine at a restaurant while waiting for the ex-pat twins f2fb friends #207 joe winer and #208 karl thelen to be available–joe is a graduate of mcgill university, while karl is set to graduate in december.  joe and karl were members of that incredible band, the strikingly talented ninjaviduals.

poutine is french fries with gravy and cheese curds. it's usually served with a smoked meat sandwich. i weigh 142 pounds. when i started this new years resolution, i was a slip of a gal at 138.


in montreal, there’s a lot of french language going on.  when you have to slow down on the freeway for construction and then you emerge back into the “anything goes” speed limit, the signs say “fin” which makes me think “damn i’m in a french movie and it’s existential and i’m quite possibly dead”. . . .

the french in montreal are so stylish they even dress their trees.

c'est chic! this was outside the mccord museum in central montreal. i was wearing black (biensur!) but wearing flip flops (mais non!!!!)


karl and joe wanted to take me to the biodome. i thought biodome was a movie with pauly shore.  but, in fact, next to the dome which housed the 1976 summer olympics there is another dome that houses four ecosystems.  there was a rain forest where we saw monkeys, crocodiles, and a strange bird who tried to pull karl’s shoelaces.  then there was the arctic/antarctic, the saint lawrence river, and then there was the northeast canadian forest. . . . this was cheaper than us all taking a road trip to nova scotia —

karl and i spent a lot of time resetting the language preferences on video displays throughout the museum–everything in quebec drifts to french, although you have an english language option. i get the feeling that when you are at mcgill you don’t necessarily have to learn french.

on the third floor of my house is a space that allows for a thriving, now, talented and LOUD band to play.  joe and karl have often seen me in my pajamas on the third floor announcing “band practice is over, i’ve had quite enough thank you”. . . because they have worked so much with my two sons.  they were very protective of my younger son, f2fb friend #1 eastman, who is a few years younger than they are.  it was a comfort to me to ask karl “you’ll get eastman home safe?” and he always said yes and he was right.  there was, however, the interesting question of what joseph (f2fb friend # 61) was smoking all that time. i got it covered–it was mugwort.  and i’m sorry to say that once when i was cleaning house, i ingested quite a bit of that stuff.  argh.

we said goodbye.  i was so happy that karl was running off to a date with his galpal, joe was winding things down for the night.  the boy scouts and i went to china town.  we ate thai escargot which i would recommend to anybody who gains weight on their new years resolution–you extract the escargot with toothpicks and i got exactly three of those suckers out of there.  ben was great at it.

branden asked that his fried tofu be boxed.  it was.  with sauce.  he put a fork and napkin in the box.  i knew we were going to the hotel.  there would be forks.  no need to take one.  but i didn’t realize–as we left the restaurant, we passed a couple setting up their home on the steps of a local bank.  branden offered them dinner.  they were so happy.  i learned something new about how i will do things.


p.s.  if you want to see the biodome. . .