Monthly Archives: June 2012

a voyage not measured in miles but in friendship

i’m the martha stewart of the road, the rachel roy of living out of the car.  it’s temporary of course.  but it’s still pretty disconcerting to remember that i was once of winnetka, the beautiful land. . .

 i am so happy for the new owners who will fill this house with love, joy, happiness! and i can’t wait for wells fargo bank to approve their mortgage!

i was excited to go to eastlake, ohio because that’s where the twentieth  president of the united states james garfield is from. . .  but also because i could meet facebook friend number #320 jeannie stanley.  and she really put out the welcome mat for me!

i was so crying when i saw jeannie’s welcome sign! and she’s right–a journey is not measured in miles but in friends. . .


and we sat down for a chat, including her neighbor shayleh–it was as if we had been best buddies for years.  jeannie has sometimes been housebound with fibromyalgia and something called palindromic arthritis.  she has been able to reconnect and keep up with friends and family with facebook, which is exactly what facebook is supposed to do for a gal.  we met on facebook and are friends but oddly,  i can’t be facebook friends with her neighbor shayleh because facebook has a rule that one is not allowed to have more than five thousand friends.  one can debate the merits of the rule all day long but shayleh keeps up with me on my “public figure” page.  i still say she’s facebook friend #321.  i love you dearly mr. zuckerberg but i am feeling a bit rebellious and i was feeling a bit rebellious when i took the gals out for a spin in my official residence.

we first went to the garfield museum.  james garfield our twentieth president was shot on july 2, 1881 and died on september 19, 1881.  he was the sort of president who could bring together a country and a congress.  he made them all see reason, not an easy task right after the civil war.  and when he was shot mourning for him brought together a country.*

on the day we visited the flag outside the visitor center was flown at half mast.  we asked why and was told rex walker, a 58-year-old maintenance worker at utah’s timpanogos cave, was killed in a fall of 500-600 feet down a steep, rocky slope while trying to help rescue some stranded park visitors.  all the national parks were flying their flags at half mast and employees were wearing a black band over their ranger pins.  “the park service is family,”  the gal at the desk told us.

it might seem like it was a somber day, and it sort of was as the three of us wandered through the garfield grounds.  both shayleh and jeannie have dealt with a lot of difficulties and i admire both of them for their grace and courage.  facebook is wonderful for friendship, but you really do have to meet your friends on a regular basis and talk with them and appreciate who they are. i was grateful and i was about to get into the official residence and drive away before i remembered that my garmin gps is broken.  mapquest time!  i sat on jeannie’s couch and she was walking back into her kitchen as i dialed up mr. internet. . . .

shayleh, jeannie, me and jeannie’s boyfriend joe. jeez, he’s such a prankster!


“OMG!!!   it’s a sure sign of the apocalypse!”  i screamed. “those mayans are right!”

“WHAT?!”  jeannie cried out.

“tom cruise and katie holmes are getting divorced!”  and all three of us screamed “NO!”

and suddenly, the most important matter at hand wasn’t our individual histories, the history of our nation, the fragility of life.  no, no, it was whether we were team kate or team tom.

*i took a facebook friendship f2fb road trip last summer and listened to the entire account of his presidency and death. it was so riveting that i sat in my garage for forty five minutes at the end of the trip just so i could finish the story.  you can get the book at

don’t call me homeless–call me “officially without residence”

deal’s on.  deal’s off.  deal’s on.  deal’s off.  deal’s on.  it’s a little hard to make life plans when you’re not sure if you have a place to stay.

my home in winnetka was on the market for a long time–in fact, the entire year i visited facebook friends i worried that it would sell and i would be out of the country or on the road. i am very happy that the new owners have a baby and two dachshunds and they will love this place and make it their home! on the other hand, i’ve been weepy.


getting approval for a mortgage is ne plus ultra difficult and the new buyers have been stretched in their patience.  without approval for a mortgage they cannot afford to purchase the house.  without knowing that they have the mortgage, i’ve dithered about buying renting or even looking for a place to live.

this past weekend, i divested/sold/gaveaway all my possessions except what i can fit in the back of my car. i still wasn’t sure the buyers were moving in, but i had to move forward as if i knew they would. i was helped by so many friends–and my son eastman who came home from college to help me. he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady with white gloves–he’s that good at the garage sale wheelin’ and dealin’!


several times this week i have been approached by deer.  whether in the forest preserve where i run, the streets of winnetka, or in my own backyard.  i think they were saying goodbye.

for some native americans, the deer totem is a signal that one is about to experience great change and possibly go on a journey. this deer was in my backyard. i felt sorta bad because i didn’t know her name and i didn’t have anything except beer, diet coke, and perfume in my refrigerator. such a bad hostess!


on tuesday morning, the new owners pulled into the driveway.  the missus and i hugged and i said “welcome to your home!”  i felt that teary thing coming on and then stopped myself–the moment was not about me letting go of a house, it was about a young couple starting a new life.

as eastman and i pulled out of the driveway, i called the renaissance hotel.  full.  the marriot.  full.  the super 8.  full.  wow, being homeless is a little harder than it looks.  then we called eastman’s dad, my ex-husband.  with a great generosity, he invited us to his apartment.  tomorrow, i visit the brazilian consulate to get a visa so i can visit facebook friends in brazil.  after all, i am free to roam the planet. and then i drive eastman back to college.

there is a moment in a young man’s life when his mom has to say “wow, you’re an adult, i respect you, i rely on you, and i admire you.” this past weekend was that moment. especially when he told the radnors h to the n when mr. radnor came into the house on sunday afternoon and said he would purchase the remaining pieces of furniture for twenty dollars but only if we transported all of it into his home. those pieces of furniture are now resting at the winnetka community church rummage sale storage facility. we had our limits.


this afternoon, i gave five bucks to a homeless dude sitting on the sidewalk and i asked him to pray for me.  i know we all struggle with what to do in the face of seeing someone who is homeless.  i am not in that position.  i shouldn’t use the word homeless, i should use the phrase “officially without residence”. . .

doesn’t it sound very very downton abbey british to say “officially without residence” — and now i visit facebook friends. .. . everywhere!

throwing everything out onto the curb is what you have to do in the second half of your life!

this weekend has been incredibly terrifying and exhilerating.  i am writing from the last remaining piece of furniture and laptop in my house.  twenty three rooms have been disassembled.  my neighbor mr. radnor took my lawn furniture without warning me.  i followed him across the driveway and attempted to repossess it.  i’ve had shoplifters.  i cried when a woman purchased a hat my son joseph had given me and i nearly followed her down the street to buy it back from her.  i got a thank you note from a woman whose daughter i gifted with a suitcase and a talk about how if you want to grow up to be an adventurer, you have to have good luggage.

and i’ve had a crew of facebook friends–paulibus schumann, dan kingery, john dawnson and others–as well as my son eastman.  a nonfacebook friend drove three hours just to move book shelves.

however, minor problem.  we won’t be closing on tuesday as expected because the buyers have been unable to get approval for their mortgage.  i had a heartfelt call from the buyer who is a new mom and is quite panicked about not having a place to stay on tuesday.  so i’ll be moving out.   i’m just a little anxious about where i’ll be.

last year, i was on the road nearly every week visiting facebook friends around the world. i will be at a hotel on tuesday night and the first thing i’ll do is call room service, turn on the television, and be grateful for the experience!

it’s nearly time to close up the doors, tell the last shoppers to go home, and to take the remains and throw them out on the curb.  the minicoop is packed and i’m ready, really ready, for whatever’s next as i am just a few weeks away from the magic birthday of 52!

i intend to die when i’m one hundred and four years old. my much younger lover will be devastated!!

maybe i can get sex out of this deal????

so the house is sold. i’m moving on.  moving forward to meet new facebook friends (in fact, i have two chaperones for the new brazil trip!)

but i’ve been receiving odd messages from the craigslist ad for my house sale.  please advise:


Hey, is your item still available? I don’t normally do this but you seemed sizzling in your listing and I’m drawn to you. I live nearby and up for anything. My only concern is that you might be a bot as CL is full of them. So if you’re indeed real, can we chat on my profile page? It’s the safest way and very discreet. I’ll message you as soon as I see you sign in! 😉

Only you’ll be able to view my photos and phone # on there so if you like what you see, get hold of me. People say I’m very good looking but you can be the judge. 😉 I apologize to annoy you…life is too short so I had to give this a shot. I think you’ll be surprised.


Im fascinated about you and your ad. I’d like to ask more and was pondering if you could call/text me with your address? Please give me your cell phone # on my confidential page, you have to sign up first but all good there’s zero cost. This way I am securing my private information, I have money right next to me. I just need to ask you something over the phone and confirm this is not a scam. Thanks!

wow! does this count as someone interested in the garage sale in which i divest my entire life so i can resume meeting my facebook friends?

five catholics, one muslim, a presbyterian, a baptist, a wiccan, a jew, a mennonite, and an atheist. . . .


it should be the beginning of a joke that your insensitive uncle would tell at thanksgiving dinner and your mennonite cousin would burst into tears and the wiccan would start a long monologue about the history of her religion.


i have been packing and selling off my possessions and there isn’t a fork or a spoon or a plate left in this house.  i have made plane and hotel reservations for visiting facebook friends after the house closes on tuesday.  i turned off the gas, electricity, water, cable, and the jehovah’s witnesses coming to the door every friday afternoon.

lust is one of the seven deadly sins. and this is what i lust for. today i am wondering if the wages of lust for tomato red platform heels with a pert little canvas bow is . . . delayed closing.


so many americans are aware of the sliding interest rates that they are refinancing their mortgages and the market is even picking up a little.  we should rejoice!  and i do!  but there’s a selfish side that says “wait, my buyers are being told that they aren’t going to be approved for their loan until maybe as late as midjuly because of this backlog!  we can’t close on the house this coming tuesday!  what am i going to do?”

first, i plan on getting those jehovah’s witnesses back!  every friday, miss rose comes and we pray together.  i don’t believe in the tenets of the witnesses but i appreciate that she cares so much that she’s willing to walk from house to house in winnetka every friday, winter and summer.  she talks about her faith, gives me a copy of the watch tower and we pray together.  i gotta make sure i’m here friday afternoon for miss rose’s visit!  second, i am praying.  and third, enlisting my friends to pray for me.  so far, i have five catholics, one muslim, a presbyterian, a baptist, a wiccan, a jew, a mennonite, and an atheist.  that’s a very big life raft of faith and, oddly, all are my facebook friends.

i have been astonished at how facebook has taught me about the diversity of experience and lifestyle of my friends.  and i have become more tolerant and appreciative.  i am more at peace about my own religious perspective as well.

it is in the book of matthew 18:19 of the Bible wherein Jesus says “again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”  all i pray is that i will be flexible, strong, sure of myself, and will remember that chaos and confusion is a perfectly ordinary part of life.

i’m grateful for prayers and i pray for others as well. but i’m a little curious about my friend who is an atheist. is there going to be a lightening strike?


i’m also wondering about those red shoes. . . is there a causal connection between my lust for those shoes and the backlog of mortgage applications at wells fargo?





the pursuit of happiness

it happens suddenly and it breaks your heart.  and sometimes you’re so ashamed you can’t tell anybody, not even your very best friend.

you become emeritus, of counsel, senior advisor, sustaining member of the board.  your clients are reassigned to the kid who tagged along to meetings last year.  the volunteer job you’ve done every year since you joined the dear charity is now done by a gal who has already had four meetings and didn’t think you’d be interested in attending.  your kids have graduated, left home, you don’t have to drive them to school in the mornings or make them dinner and when you call them they say they love you but they’re busy they have to go.  you almost envy the neighbors, whose son dropped out after a semester and has been living in the basement ever since.

you get dressed up for a wedding and think “maybe i’ll meet someone!” and you get seated at the “old ladies” table.  you linger over your coffee at the shop in the morning hoping you’ll run into someone you know.

you’ve lost your purpose.

for me it happened when my youngest son eastman didn’t come home between his freshman and sophomore year of college.  he had a job at a bowling alley and a girlfriend.  i had dressed up his freshman year with a flurry of freelance work, volunteer committees, yoga lessons.

i even wrote a history of northfield, illinois for arcadia publishing company. between permissions and paying the images specialist, i spent close to two thousand dollars. i will never make that money back.

i tried looking for work in the last refuge of a divorced woman in my town of winnetka–i would become a real estate agent.  bad timing–the market had tanked.  i failed at getting a job at caribou coffee because i couldn’t manage the cash register.

i was, in a word, old and obsolete.  it happens to everybody at some point, and it happened to me when i was fifty.  i stopped taking a shower every day.  and not just for environmental reasons.  the domino’s pizza delivery guy stopped saying “thanks!” for the tips and instead developed an “alone again, eh?”  sneer.  i didn’t have to work out at six so i could get to a meeting at eight, so if i woke up at two a.m. and started reading a good book, what did it matter if i didn’t get back to sleep?  and if i wanted to go to sleep at six p.m., what was wrong with dinner at one o’clock in the afternoon?

a cat or dog is a gateway animal. they’re so cute. they need you. sometimes they return affection. then you get another to keep the first one company. . . .

then you’ve got seventeen cats, you save all the back issues of national geographic and the grocery bags from lakeside foods and your neighbors think you’re weird. you die alone and lonely and your body isn’t discovered for weeks. the forty seven cats (there will have been some adorable new litters) are sent to aspca and some of them are adopted. some of them, not so lucky. (many apologies in my analogy to my friend pink ninjabi!)

but this is not to say i didn’t have an active social life just because i never got out of bed, wore my pajamas all day, smelled like sweat and left over mother’s day perfume circa 1992.  i had friends on facebook.  we played scrabble and mafia wars and shared links and signed petitions and congratulted one another for grandchildren, graduations, homecomings and successful recipes for fish tacos.  the fact that i hadn’t seen any of these friends since college or maybe not at all didn’t make any difference.  it was a party and i didn’t have to shave my legs or get nervous that i’d say the wrong thing!

i found purpose in a small but crucial goal:  i wanted to meet all my facebook friends in a single year.  at 325 friends, it was a sprint but it made every morning have its own reason i had to get out of bed.  reason i had to get out of the house.  reason i had to get on a plane or learn how to pack.  my goal seemed to some people utterly stupid.  silly.  strange.  but it was my goal.

having a purpose, having a goal, is happiness.

what’s your purpose?  what’s your goal?  because the wonderful thing about life is that you can hit that old and obsolete moment, but then you can set yourself up with a second act.  and a third and a fourth.  and sometimes there’s more freedom in your choices.

maybe the founding fathers meant the right to the “pursuit of happiness” to mean that we all have the right to have meaning and purpose in our lives. in any event, on this father’s day, many thanks to those dudes!

my facebook friend michele piersiak has a goal of going to the new york restaurant laconda verde.  she lives in staten island and has trouble leaving the house, much less the island.  but she is working on expanding her horizons and her boundaries.  on august nine, we’re going to test that goal.  and when she finishes lunch she is going to set her sights on another goal.  and then another.  i think this is bliss!

thank you mr. zuckerberg for my facebook new years resolution–it was an adventure!

when i was nineteen, i was pretty sure that people in their fifties were either stupidly or brilliantly settled.  there was no romance to being in one’s fifties, because one was sure to be so desperately past pretty that love could hardly blossom in such gray and wrinkled landscape.  there was no adventure to fifties, because there was mortgage and grandchildren and pensions and jobs coming to a close.  there was nothing to look forward to, no risks and few unexpected rewards.

last year, i made a new year’r resolution to meet all 325 of my facebook friends–the ones i hadn’t seen in thirty years, the ones i had never met, the ones i wasn’t quite sure would be too happy to see me, the ones i needed to resolve a few things with, the ones i wasn’t even quite sure why i was friends with them.  i went around the country, around the world. . . .

i took everything i owned in one bag. never checked anything because i sort of don’t trust baggage handlers and airlines. now the bag is in my refrigerator along with diet coke, orangina, perfume, and bottles of beer. i am having a house sale in one week. this is how i roll now!


this year’s adventure has been to meet more facebook friends who are new to me.  a lot of them have anxiety and panic issues like i do.  just last night, i texted with a facebook friend who prefers to be anonymous because he is scared everybody will think he’s crazy.  he’s not crazy–he’s having a perfectly reasonable response to a chaotic, confusing, irrational world!  he’s decided to drop out and stay home by himself.  on the other hand, he is unhappy.  and that is a good reason to get out of the house.  to find a purpose.  even if the purpose is sort of silly–like meeting your facebook friends.

next week, the house closes.  and the place–the “safe place”–of an agoraphobic will belong to another family.  i am so happy for them.  i know they will have many good years of raising their children, of having parties and get togethers, of feeling secure.  and me?

i’m happy and really grateful! last year’s experience has at least taught me something! when you pack a bag, roll your clothes into a single tube and baby wipes are good for a lot of disasters you will encounter!


i owe a lot to facebook and to mr. zuckerberg!  today’s share price is now $28 and i sense a revival.  because zuckerberg has put us in touch with our friends, our family, and sometimes with the part of us that is 51 years old and still wants to be a nineteen year old adventuress!

gratitude at the center of the universe

i have had a third dental surgery in less than as many weeks.  the trouble indicator on my car says “low tire”.  i spent yesterday filling a storage facility with all manner of furniture, boxes, musical instruments and paintings.  only to discover that there’s three overflowing closets in the house that i’m just a little unsure about.  my son broke up with his girlfriend and is considering making his way back home–just as home is being packed up and given over to a new owner.

what to do?  what to do?  what to do?

i don’t have an automatic thank you note generator like the presidents of the united states. but i do write a lot of thank you notes. i don’t send them all because some people who are so very good to me would probably get a little creeped out.

you might think that your day is something that happens to you.  the boss man tells you what to do.  your body parts either work or they don’t work.  people do and say things that are sometimes funny, sometimes loving, sometimes utterly irrational.

but i think life is something we can create.  and i guess i think of creation as including thank you’s.  even if the only thing you can say thank you to is the sun for rising in the east, that’s at least one thing that takes you outside of the controlled box and into the pilot’s seat.  sometimes i can’t think of anything except sun and coffee to be thankful for.  that’s all right.  but today i have a lot of things to be thankful for.  including my dentist.  and i will write him a thank you note.  i might toss that thank you note–which will encompass nancy his receptionist and laura his assistant–but i will write it and remember them.  i feel better already!

in 14 days, the presser home will become someone else’s home.  i am happy for the young couple who have purchased this place.  i am excited and just a titch worried about what happens next.  but i took a bike ride on saturday.  i ended up in phillo, illinois which claims as its village motto to be the “center of the universe”.  i wonder if NASA knows about this.  the center of the universe encompasses slightly under a square mile and has a population of 1,400.  its streets are named for presidents and i respect a town that doesn’t forget millard p. fillmore.

some of the people i have met this year have talked about “safe” places and “safe” people.  particularly the people with agoraphobia, post traumatic stress disorder or just general “damn this world is a lot more chaotic and strange than i think i can handle”. . . i think phillo taught me that the center of the universe, and the safest spot in the universe are always with me. . . . unless there are particular circumstances. . . .

facebook nation’s baby steps towards democracy

my nation has 900,000,000 citizens and, as near as i can tell, they can all fit in my laptop.  my nation has its own form of money, a movie about its beginnings* and a handsome prince and princess.

prince mark zuckerberg and bride priscilla chan honeymooned in italy just after the much anticipated facebook i.p.o. insta-millionaires were gravely disappointed as the share price opened at $42 and has plunged to $27. but every great nation has initial problems.


this past month, facebook held an election on proposed privacy amendments.  i don’t know about you, but i figure i have no privacy on facebook. but some students in ireland disagree with that notion and filed a complaint with the irish data protection commission which is in charge of regulating facebook in europe.  the students claimed “hey, that picture of me drunk on the couch that my ex-girlfriend posted and then i made her take it down, that’s my privacy we’re talking about!”

on may 23, 2005 tom cruise declared his love for katie holmes as he trampolined on a couch on the oprah show. i’m sure HE’D like to say he owns that and then he would burn it. tom is known for being very reserved, secretive, almost like a scientologist. oh, right, he IS a scientologist.


so facebook held a vote on amendments to its privacy policies.  the amendments allow for what items are automatically public on facebook, what items facebook owns (anything you post) and what happens when you deactivate your account (facebook keeps all of it in perpetuity).  the data is important because it allows for facebook to target advertising.  and get revenue.  which might help that stock price slide. i’ve seen a lot of posts complaining about privacy and facebook policies.  if i had known about a chance to vote on this, i would have.

three hundred and fifty thousand people voted, just four percent, and overwhelmingly they were opposed to the privacy amendments. the company had said that it would consider the vote binding if more than 30% of its users voted.


*the social network chronicled the brave prince mark battling to free people everywhere so that they can connect.  and actually, i believe that is exactly what mark zuckerberg actually intends.  as he has been quoted as saying, “we don’t build services to make money–we make money so we can build better services!”


this venus in transit

venus in transit is one of the rarest astronomical events in the afternoon sky.  it is when the planet venus passes between the sun and the earth, a tiny little black dot crossing a gi-normous pulsing star that we call sun.  the event occurs twice within an eight year period and then not again for between one hundred and five and one hundred and twenty one years.  the last transit was in 2004.  the next will be in 2117.  i persuaded my facebook friend john d. lafond to watch the transit–sadly, john’s wife was working and will have to wait for the next one!

it was an odd “happening” at field outside the parkland observatory four hours from my home.  a row of telescopes, a crowd of people, some jimi hendrix playing from a car in the parking lot.  there should have been drugs.  there were, however, some tie dye t-shirts so it was all good.

don’t look at the sun directly! this friend made her own reflective telescope for the viewing. there were a number of homemade telescopes for this event.


i liked how for a few moments, everybody stopped worrying about their job, their children, money, the upcoming elections, the just past elections, the kardashians, whether they remembered to turn off the coffee maker when they got home, and whether their life has meaning.  instead, something completely outside of themselves, something eternal, something that puts all of this in perspective captivated every person in the field.  the transit of venus is six hours from the first little blip on the side of the sun to the other–but the parking lot at parkland observatory was pretty much emptied within two.  the transitory worries returned.  how i’m going to pack up everything in my house? where i will travel to next?  and really–did i turn off the coffee maker?

the telescope fell apart within minutes and i advised using a bigger box for the next transit of venus. and more tape.  i don’t think she has to get started right away at this project!


i have known john since junior high school, and his wife alice since they married.  john and i keep in touch on facebook by playing scrabble.  he always beats me.  he also always beats his brother jerry.  jerry told him that the reason john always wins is because jerry himself is a deist and believes that God creates the universe and then lets it unfold without His hand.  john believes in an active God who is always with us.  jerry offered to hand deliver a note of thanks to the Pope if he won a game of scrabble with john.  i’m still putting my money on john.

and then this venus remembered there’s still more transit to come–miles to travel, planes to catch, gas stations to pull into, and facebook friends to meet!