Monthly Archives: May 2012

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!

am i ready for new york?

this morning, murphy my always and forever cab driver picked me up for the ride to the airport.  i had some exciting news for him.

well, maybe we’re going to have to work on our domestic bliss!  i told murphy i was off to see facebook friends in new york–and he wished me luck and took down my flight information so he could meet me upon my return.

one of the most common things for agoraphobes to do is to want to remain in their “safe” place.  that’s mostly their house, but sometimes it includes other places.  in the past, my “safe” place has, at its best, included my house, downtown winnetka, my kids’ schools, and the place where i climb on a stairmaster in the vainglorious hope that i shall look like elle mcpherson one day.  at its worst, my safe place has been my bedroom.  even the walk across the hall to the bathroom seemed iffy.

but last year, meeting my facebook friends in america and abroad, i have learned to make the safe place wherever i am.  it’s a discipline i have to remember every time i go out.  and sometimes it just doesn’t work.  i had three housebound days this week and i was really worried that i wouldn’t get to the airport.  the airport was crowding because a stormline was coming in and flights were being delayed, canceled, bumped.  i aimed for the nearest bar.

an airport bar is actually a great place to create a safe zone.  forget about those big planes outside the window, forget about the people rushing back and forth, forget about the announcements, just find the place nearest your gate and pretend you’re in your own neighborhood.  amongst friends. ..


look!  even mr. clark is making friends!  mr. william clark, as you know is the nineteenth century explorer best known for his travels (1803-1806) through the northwest with merriweather lewis — also known as the lewis and clark expedition.  clark died in 1838 but oddly, he has a facebook profile page, posts daily accounts of his travels and is my facebook friend (f2fb friend #60).  his biographer lanny jones (f2fb friend #59) sent me a Clark doll to remind me to explore fearlessly.  looks like clark’s doing a little exploring of his own. . .

mr. clark getting cozy with a teddy bear who was going home to new york with another traveler. i carry my william clark doll in my bag every flight i take and the back seat of my car? looks like a damn toys r’ us!

batter up! aubrey huff has his days too!

this post, i thought i’d share someone else’s experience:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Aubrey Huff opens up about his anxiety attacks


Stephen Lam / Special to The Chronicle

Aubrey Huff says his first panic attack lasted for eight hours.


Aubrey Huff was standing in his New York hotel room at 5 o’clock in the morning in the early stages of what would be an eight-hour panic attack. The Giants were to play a doubleheader against the Mets that afternoon and evening. Baseball was the last thing on Huff’s mind.

“I couldn’t breathe,” Huff recalled. “I felt I was taking short breaths. Right then and there I thought I was having a heart attack. I told myself, ‘I’ll be damned if I’m going to be sitting in this hotel room and die of a heart attack. I’ve got to get out of here.’ ”

And so he did, starting the odyssey of a ballplayer who left the Giants two weeks ago to go home to Florida, where he had a second panic attack one day later and, finally, after insisting to the team that he had a “family emergency,” phoned trainers and described what really happened.

Huff told his story for the first time Friday in a 20-minute conversation with The Chronicle at AT&T Park. He returned to San Francisco a week ago to work out with teammates and, for the first time in his life, see a mental health professional. He expects to resume playing in Los Angeles on Monday night, when he is eligible to come off the disabled list.

“Obviously I’ve been seeing somebody here in town to kind of work out some of these issues,” Huff said. “It took everything I could to get up here from Tampa after I freaked out, if you will. But since I got here I’ve been fine.”

Tough years

Huff, a 35-year-old who has played in the majors for 13 seasons, has had a difficult life. His father was murdered in Texas when he was 6. He acknowledged Friday that he has had marital problems that he caused and other issues in the past 2 1/2 years. His poor play in 2011 has weighed on him, too.

But Huff does not have the answer that he, his loved ones and many fans are seeking: Why a player known for his joie de vivre and goofy demeanor was so panic-stricken on the morning of April 23 that he left his team and flew home without permission. That’s not done, and it was a decision that he said would seem “dumb” to a right-thinking person but logical to him at the time.

“Where this panic attack came from, I don’t know,” he said. “All I know is it was there. I can’t explain it. I almost wish I had broken my leg than had that. I can control that. I know what’s happening. This, I didn’t know what was happening. You can’t control it. It’s scary.”

Moved to second

Two days before, the Giants had lost to the Mets at Citi Field after manager Bruce Bochy asked Huff to play second base, for the first time in his career, in the ninth inning. He made a mistake that contributed to the 5-4 defeat.

The next day’s game was rained out, with a doubleheader scheduled for Monday before the team flew to Cincinnati.

That morning, Huff recalled, he woke at 3 o’clock to go to the bathroom, and that’s when it began.

He tossed and turned, unable to sleep, his mind racing with thoughts of struggles on and off the field. At 5 a.m. he decided to get up.

“I open the window and see the New York skyline,” he said. “The sun is starting to come up. I see all the huge buildings. I just freaked out. I don’t know what happened. I couldn’t figure out what it was. The room felt like it was getting smaller, a claustrophobic feeling. I couldn’t control one thought in my head. There were so many thoughts going through.”

Got to get home

His overriding thought, “If I’m going to die of a heart attack, I’m going to at least try to get home.”

Huff packed, put on a suit and took a cab to the airport, where he bought a ticket for Tampa and lay along a wall at the gate, crouched on his bag, comforted by having other people around who could help him if he lost consciousness.

“I was shaking, sweating,” he said. “I was telling myself, ‘Just get on the plane. Just get on the plane.’

Aboard the regional jet, Huff turned the air vent on full blast and spent the entire flight, still panicked, with his suit coat over his head, wondering if he should write a note to his family in case he died on the plane.
Somehow, the pilot’s voice announcing the landing at Tampa finally calmed him, eight hours after the episode had begun. He went home and surprised his wife, Barbara, who thought Huff was joking when he texted he was coming home.

Huff even thought to himself, “What the heck am I doing in Tampa?”

He slept “like a rock” that day, figured it was a one-time episode and booked a flight to Cincinnati the next day to rejoin the team. He planned to stick with the “family emergency” line and hope nobody would be the wiser.

It happens again

However, when the Town Car driver rang his doorbell the next morning, Huff had another panic attack and stayed home. After lying in bed a short while he felt better and thought to himself, “This is ridiculous. I’ve got to call the trainers back.”

Huff finally told the team what happened and was referred to a doctor in Florida who prescribed medication that he continues to take. In San Francisco, he has seen a therapist twice, 90 minutes each time, and has his phone number in case of an emergency.

He has not had to use it.

“Since I’ve been here I’ve had good days and bad days,” he said. “Today’s a great day. Yesterday was a good day. The day before was crappy. I didn’t panic, but I felt a little overwhelmed, a little not normal. All in all, seeing this guy I’m seeing has really helped me.”

Family support

Huff’s wife and children remain his support network and are in San Francisco. Although she filed for divorce in January, he said the proceedings have been “pushed back” and they plan to stay together.

“Having gone through this is weird, because everything in my personal life has gotten better in the last four or five months,” he said. “I did get served, but the last three or four months my family life has been better.

“She’s been there for me since Day One. I’ve put her through so much crap. She’s an amazing woman, and I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to make her happy.

“For me, the last three years, especially during the World Series, I’ve given my heart and soul to baseball. It seems like sometimes my personal life with my family, I haven’t given as much to them as I have to baseball.”

Huff hopes the help he has gotten and the stress he has released will help him relax more on the field and play better. He also acknowledged a newfound appreciation for people with mental illness.

“To be honest with you, I was always taught that people who had anxiety issues were just weak-minded people,” he said. “Now that it’s happened to me, you see you can’t control it. To people this has happened to, there’s nothing you can say or do on the outside to make somebody feel better because they haven’t experienced it.”

Henry Schulman is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

dr. drew, we’d like a house call please. oh, no, we’ll just take care of it ourselves!

a few months ago i was on the dr. drew show.  i was asked to talk about my new years resolution to meet all of my 325 facebook friends.  it was a resolution i made at the beginning of 2011 and i fulfilled it.  this year, i’ve expanded it to include facebook friends i’ve met since then!

i don’t watch a lot of television so when the producer from dr. drew called, i kept visualizing dr. phil who is a protege of oprah. then when dr. drew was described to me, i got him confused with anderson cooper. really, they should have baseball cards for television dudes.


i dutifully arrived at the chicago cnn studio at eight o’clock on a friday night.  there were exactly two people in the office — and eight desks.  it’s really that small.  the cameraman hooked me up to a microphone up under my dress and a n earpiece up under my sleeve.  with the earpiece i could hear the show being taped in los angeles.  in front of me was a camera.  behind me was a fake skyline of chicago to make it look like i was in front of a window.

i don’t wear a lot of makeup except mascara and i can out-kardashian anybody on that black stuff. but the makeup/hair lady for dr. drew really shellaced me to get the “natural” look. then she chastised me for touching my face or hair.


i was seated there for an hour and a half while dr. drew taped segments and took breaks and did whatever.  i could hear everything because of my earpiece.  couldn’t see anything because the only thing in front of me was a black camera lens.

and i got antsy.  i got nervous.  i wanted out.  i felt trapped, like the microphone and earpiece wires were chains.  like my skin was on fire.  like my lungs were collapsing.  the hives were so red they showed through the inches thick makeup.  the cameraman and makeup artist knew each other and were gossiping in the hall.  but i was told to stay in my seat.  i thought. . .


and i sort of understand something about people with agoraphobia that other people might not understand:  there is no understanding by the medical community about how to treat this stuff.  we don’t have house calls from doctors.  we don’t have social workers who will really commit to treating progressively from phone calls to house calls, to guided visits.  we have family who says “why don’t you just try harder?”  we have friends who can’t understand what the difference is between the safety of the house and the complete terrifying chaos of the sidewalk.

that’s why a lot of agoraphobics, such as myself, are self treated.  i decided, win or lose, anxiety attack or not, disaster or success,  i would meet all three hundred twenty five of my facebook friends.  cured?  hardly.  i have my days.  i have my weeks.

one of my facebook friends, brandon, lives in los angeles and went through a period of complete agoraphobia.  he understands.  and together, we’ve got something to help out our fellow survivors.

if you are an agoraphobic, someone with panic attacks, or someone who is familiar with someone of this nature, what would you like to see to help???

bestest, arlynn

p.s. i didn’t have a heart attack on the dr. drew show.  i don’t think i was on the show for more than thirty seconds.  the “expert” guest said that my facebook adventure was “dangerous” because people with panic attacks should rely on a professional.  by that time at night, my opinion of professionals was . . . oh, shoot, i shouldn’t use bad words, should i?


not THAT vixen press, THIS vixen press!

it you were at the face 2 facebook party at round table books in winnetka, thank you so much!  it was a lovely evening and it made me realize what wonderful facebook friends i have!

guests were asked to bring a new or gently used children's book to donate to reach out and read illinois! an unexpected development was that the kids who showed up for the party had something to read!

and of course, every party has to have an after party:

cleaning up the next morning, i was a little puzzled as to why there was a random pink wig on the kitchen counter. i had eight house guests. does anybody have something they want to tell me?


the party was called “guttenberg* to zuckerberg” and celebrated the many forms that books can take–our host the owner of the round table books arthur frank opened the evening by showing guests a goat skin bound 16th century book.  with my genius friend o.j. dorson  i was able to show off a permutation of the notion of books–namely, a multimedia book that tells the story of my year of meeting facebook friends.  the next morning, i went to my neighbor caryl seidenberg’s home.  she has a press called “vixen press”.

vixen press was founded in 1953 by gil fox and published one hardcover book a month of an, ahem, adult nature. barry devlin was their most prolific writer.


no, no, my neighbor caryl has a basement press where she hand prints her books.  she has an intriguing and expansive definition of book.  one of my favorites is “confection” which is really a candy box with word blocks in the individual ruffled paper candy holders.

caryl has printed books for notable authors including the poet laureate robert pinsky. here she is at one of her presses. the tour of the vixen press made me think that about how books have changed from the cuneiform of babylon to the ibook to the hand detailed books she creates.


today i am making arrangements for next week in new york meeting facebook friends!  i hope i can figure out how to give another party as wonderful as the one at round table books!  many thanks to round table, to the people at the grand grocery store in winnetka who donated the refreshments, and to the facebook friends who gave books.  xxoo, arlynn