Monthly Archives: May 2012

happy birthday, mark zuckerberg!

i would jump out of a cake but i think it would be alarming.  i am, after all, fifty one years old and while i have been adhering to the atkins diet and am nearly back to my fighting weight of 138 there have been some, ahem! changes to the general physique since i was twenty eight.  which is mark’s age today!

mark is not even my facebook friend! yet, i wish him a happy birthday! i don’t feel too bad about not sending a birthday present because next week is the fabulous facebook IPO — facebook is valued at nearly 100 billion dollars!


mark could wake up tomorrow morning, spend $300,000 and do it again the next day and the next until he’s eighty and he’d have some left over.  talk about being ready for your retirement!

i’m fifty one years old.  i’m packing up a lifetime of stuff.  in t minus forty three days i will say goodbye to the house i have lived in for so long.  i am scared.  i was weepy this morning, so much so that i cried when the grocery clerk said “have a nice day”. . . so i wonder:


girls! girls! girls! a brooklyn-ish strip club!

i returned from staten island to brooklyn, where my son joseph lives.  i went to a hardware store and got him some new stuff.  i took him to dinner.  we said goodnight and goodbye.  and then i had a surprise.

for some people, hopping on a plane, train or pulling the automobile out of the garage is a casual thing.  for f2fb friend #57 vince peters, it’s just like that.  he’s a rapper, a music executive, a west point graduate, a government contractor.  i met him when i directed the video for his hit single “girls in da club”. . .

one of the things about this project is not just to meet a facebook friend once and be done with them–it’s to get to know my friends a little better.  vince strolled into the hotel le jolie lobby about a quarter to eleven.  an hour i would ordinarily be found in my pajamas with a bit of drool coming off my lips and a very ladylike snore. . .

i said one drink.  just one drink.  there was a bar next door called joy cocktails.  trendy.  impossibly trendy in that brooklyn we’re too cool to be trendy kind of trendy.  the guys wore super tight jeans and carharrt’s boots, flannel shirts, disheveled hair.  the girls?  both vince and my son joseph pointed out to me that from behind, a brooklyn matron of sixty and a hottie of twenty six are indistinguishable.  black leggings.  flats.  polka dot sundress.  shapeless cardigan.

true enough.

but after a few tequila shots sent over to the trio giggling and ogling vince p., conditions changed.  sweaters came off (not mine!) so that all that was left was a shimmering sea of polka dots.  and there was some lolling on the pool table (again, not me!) until the bouncer had to come over and say “please get off the table”.  then the girls did a great shimmy where they threw their hair in front of their faces, jumped up and down and gave the bouncer the middle finger.  it was quite a show.  then i looked at my watch and realized there was a reason there was light coming in from the windows. . . i left him on the sidewalk.

i haven’t done something that irresponsible in some ages.  it was fun.  i don’t know what vince p. did next–but if there’s some girls in brooklyn who are happy because of my facebook project so be it!

the hbo series girls tracks some twentysomethings living in the greenpointe neighborhood of brooklyn. they have a lot of bad sex on the show. i hope that life does not imitate art and vice versa.


then i jumped in a cab and headed for jfk airport and home!  i got to see the shuttle parked at jfk!  astronauts are allowed to shop at the duty free shop only if they have a ticket for a nonstop flight to mars!

at jfk airport, i got to see the space shuttle which is temporarily docking here in new york.  astronauts may purchase items at the duty free shop only if they can produce a ticket that shows a nonstop flight to another planet.

mr. de niro, can you hear me? f2fb friend #317 would love to hear from you!

mapquest said it was going to take me four hours and forty seven minutes to get to f2fb friend #317 if i walked and i just couldn’t believe that a city could be that big.   i also couldn’t believe that the funny, witty, supportive, beautiful facebook friend michele piersiak was housebound.  i figured she’d meet me at the ferry station in staten island.  or that she’d catch me at one of the places downtown.

i was wrong.  well, i wasn’t wrong about her being funny, witty, supportive, and beautiful.  that was definitely the woman who answered the door of the house near forest avenue.  but she is (was) housebound.  for about a year and a half her world consists of reading, the treadmill, dvd’s,  the computer that sits next to the couch in the living room, caring for her pets and keeping a house for her and her boyfriend.

stewie is a caped dragon lizard. she may be very lovely to other caped dragons, but i didn’t find her all that attractive. in fact, i got sort of nervous when michele took her out of the cage. after all, who’s to say that caped dragon lizards want a little fifty one year old human flesh after a regular diet of crickets?

michele can sometimes leave the house for brief periods with her “safe” people–her boyfriend, her parents, her sister.  but by herself, she doesn’t even try to check the mail on the curb.  it’s been this way for a few years but was exacerbated when she lost her job.  i’ve noticed a lot of my agoraphobe friends have a major shift inward when there’s a job loss.  and with eight percent official unemployment, i think there’s a hidden group of people that is affected.

michele wakes up every day mad at herself and sad that she is in this condition.  the couch is starting to feel old.  even playing xbox is feeling pretty old.  for me, since i’ve never done it, i thought it was a kick!

this is not wasted time. well, it’s wasting time for me to be bowling on xbox (and nobody should have to witness me trying to play golf!).  but it isn’t a wasted year for michele to have been housebound for a year and some months.  every day has increased her understanding and sympathy for those who are afflicted with panic attacks, agoraphobia, post traumatic stress disorder, ms, etc.  she has a major goal of someday being someone who helps those people.  i think she definitely has something to offer the world in that respect.  she already has helped–for instance, she set up a group of ten people from around the country who set a goal of walking around the block.  at a prearranged time, everybody got on a conference call with their cell phones and walked around their respective blocks together!  isn’t that an amazing use of technology and an amazing creative idea?

she also has a minor goal.  and it’s something tantalizingly out of reach and will require her to do some work.  some planning.  some practicing.  and it will need YOU!  but i’ll get there.

i was insanely honored that michele let me be a “safe” person for the day. we walked to her boyfriend’s place of employment (man, he was a little freaked out by that!) and then we pushed the boundaries a little further. we saw a house that had a three foot wide, five foot tall shrine out front. i like it when people of all faiths feel good about presenting their beliefs to the world!

so the minor goal, an interim goal if you will, is that michele would like to dine at the robert de niro restaurant laconda verde at 377 greenwich street in new york.  it would require driving to the staten island ferry, taking the ferry into the city, a cab or bus ride, then being in the restaurant and actually staying long enough to eat and then to return home.  to michele it seems out of reach.  but the day after i left staten island, she went on several walks with her parents and her sister, pushing herself a little more than usual, to get a few blocks outside of the “safe” zone.  she has made a deal with me that if i return to new york she will go with me to the restaurant.

mr. de niro, i’m betting the prices at your restaurant are a bit dear. but i’m sure if you’re half as good at cooking as you are at acting, the food’s great! michele probably would also like just to shake your hand. to meet you and say “thank you for motivating me to change myself!”

so this is where YOU come in.  if you know mr. de niro or if you know someone in the restaurant industry, if you know someone in new york, i think a gift certificate to laconda or a menu from the place, a message from de niro — even just an autographed picture — would do the world at motivating michele.  and once she achieves the minor goal, she will know that the major one is, okay, just a little harder but perfectly doable.  and that’s the one that helps everybody!

so i’m happy to hear from YOU about whatever you come up with for ideas or inspiration or maybe mr. de niro, if you’re reading this blog???

You’re Richer Than You Think

You’re Richer Than You Think.


i just thought i’d share this as an intermission on my trip to staten island and back. . . .

panic at williamsburg bridge!

mapquest said it would take me four hours and forty seven minutes.  a fourteen mile walk punctuated by a five mile ferry ride to see f2fb friend #317 michele piersiak.  i sometimes do an eight mile walk around the perimeter of winnetka, so i figured it couldn’t be that bad.

oh how wrong i was.  my theory about new yorkers is that they do fifty three terrifying things and that’s before they get to work.  i didn’t expect to be scared in quite this way.

the williamsburg bridge is the seventy-fifth longest suspension bridge in the world, which makes any american immediately say “pshaw! there are seventy four others that are much tougher!”  still, i got stuck along the 1600 span that towered over the water.  i couldn’t move forward and couldn’t move back.  this happened three times.  each time, i had a vision of me being the homeless chick who lives on the williamsburg bridge, unwilling to leave or to move.  accepting handouts and generally letting personal hygiene take a backseat.  i’d be an object of pity, scorn, and perhaps curiosity.  i’d feed pigeons.  i would have several pet rats who would be attracted by my pungent body odor.  i’d lash myself to the bridge during storms.  i’d lose my cell phone!

i had to get unstuck.  i was so scared my feet had fallen asleep and if i didn’t get moving the legs would be the next to go.  i started saying thank you.  thank you to the rain.  thank you to the shoes i was wearing.  thank you to the guy who had helped when the mapquest directions were just a bit . . . off.  thank you even to mapquest.  i said thank you to my facebook friends, pausing only briefly as i realized the reason i was going across the bridge was to meet f2fb friend #317 who had introduced herself on facebook.  i thanked american airlines for getting me to new york.  i thanked whoever built the bridge (later i learned construction on the bridge began i n1896 with henry hornsbotal as the chief architect and leffert buck as his engineer)

as i approached the end of the bridge i felt an odd exhileration.  and it wasn’t just relief.  it was a sense that i was buoyed up by all the people i had thanked, even by henry and leffert although at that point i didn’t know their names.

and i got off that bridge and found the staten island ferry . . . thanks to five different new yorkers who made me think that new yorkers are the friendliest people on earth!  i thank them too!

i didn’t expect to get choked up by the staue of liberty, so i sat on the side of the ferry that does not get the view of the statue.  but as we approached, i couldn’t help myself.  statue of liberty, dollface, i’m grateful to you!

and so i was wrong.  it could be that bad.  and yet, it also could be wonderful!

how to (finally) make money off facebook!

all those posts about what you’re having for dinner and your position on the election.  all those status updates–single, married, it’s complicated and single again.  all those photos of you at the aforementioned wedding and you tagged at the bachelor(ette) party!  and those links to the song that captured the feel of the relationship status — the power of love, better that we break up, i will survive!

all of that is worth money.  a lot.  like an estimated $86 billion dollars.  that’s what facebook is valued at.  and next week, for the first time, YOU have a  chance to cash in on it.  you oughta get SOMETHING for the time your cousin took a picture of you passed out on the sofa.

i am in brooklyn visiting facebook friends. the neighborhood i’m in is full of folks who are houseproud. sometimes they decorate their front doors with modern artwork!


how do you work this?  how do you actually make money on facebook?  first, get yourself a broker.  fidelity, e-trade, oanda, charles schwab.  tell them you want some.  however, you should know that some brokerage houses are limiting who gets shares.  for instance, fidelity investors must have $500,000 in qualified balances with the company.  td ameritrade is allowing investors to grab some of the action if they have an account valued at at least $250,000.

in addition to seeing new facebook friends, like #316 carolyn quinn on monday, i see facebook friends that i first met last year–like #58 john r. douglas. we were in manhattan, where everything is bigger, faster, louder, taller. . . . i told john this shirt was too big for him!


some brokerage houses are concerned that investors will “flip” their shares and so they are also putting limitations on how long investors have to hold a share. fidelity will punish investors who resell their shares in fewer than two weeks with a bar on investing in future ipo’s.  and investment houses are warning their clients that shares are at such a premium that there’s no guarantee that they’ll get any or all of the shares they want.

so . . . what’s it all mean?  facebook may be a great investment.  there’s also a possibility that it will be all hype and no heft–online coupon company groupon and the radio company pandora bought saw their share value drop by more than 40% after going public.  at that point, get out your wallet!

tucked away in a corner of grand central station in manhattan is the campbell apartment, once the hideaway of tycoon john w. campbell. he supposedly gave wild parties here. most commuters and tourists never notice this door. and i got ushered out of the hallway about two seconds after i took this picture. i pretended i didn’t understand english and allowed myself to be gently led back out onto the concourse.  with much wealth comes many surprises.  i guess mark zuckerberg understands that already!

sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters!

ever since i laid eyes on f2fb friend #316 carolyn quinn, i can’t get the rosemary clooney song “sisters” out of my head. download it on itunes. it will stick with you.
“sisters, sisters
there were never such devoted sisters
never had to have a chaperone, no sir
im here to keep my eye on her
caring, sharing
every little thing that we are wearing
when a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
she wore the dress and i stayed home!”

i was way nervous meeting f2fb friend #316 carolyn quinn because i had to learn to negotiate new york public transportation.  there are many native new yorkers, bernie goetz among them, who don’t even bother.  it’s confusing, the staff are somewhat distant, and mapquest had been as cryptic as a psychic at a state fair.

one of the trains i took from my brooklyn hotel included a memento mori — a graveyard city to remind me where my ultimate destination is!


but i got where i was supposed to go!  coney island, although i couldn’t get in because we were two weeks from when the park is open on weekdays.  instead, it was being rented out by a hasidic boys’ school.  i wondereded if perhaps i could cut my hair, leaving forelocks and fool them into thinking i was twelve years old. . . .

carolyn and i are really sisters.  we’re just a year apart (she’s fifty, i’m fifty one)  and we both are enhanced redheads.  we both love theater.  we watch the same television shows.  we have some of the same struggles with our families.  we ate restaurant in brighton beach and the menu was in russian.  boy, was i surprised at what i had for lunch and i’m still not quite sure what it was!  then we got our nails done together and i felt quite thirteen.  ATTENTION COWORKERS OF CAROLYN:  that really is glitter on her finger tips!

then we wandered around, whiling away the hours.  i was on the lookout for neil simon researching a new play. . . . but alas, the closest i came was some guy who stopped me to talk for a full minute and a half until he paused with a horrified look on his face.  he had realized i don’t speak russian.  it had just dawned on me that he wasn’t just talking with a new york accent.  we moved on.

carolyn witnessed the 911 attacks from a tower just a mile away.  she has not been on a plane since.  she is skittish as are many new yorkers.  but i have asked her to set aside her fears as i have done this past year:  and she has promised me she’s coming to chicago.

one important aspect of my new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends was to find out exactly who they were, to get out from behind the laptop screen, to really see them face to face.  not just facebook to facebook.  i came to this part of new york expecting to meet a friend.  but now i’ve met a sis. . . oh, damn, i’m hearing that song again!



isn’t it neat how carolyn took her on the computer, on the facebook page friends and turned them into people she knows!?  i think it’s adorable!  now i have to go play a whole bunch of heavy metal on my shuffle as i negotiate the new york transit to get to manhattan from brooklyn.  wish me luck!