Author Archives: arlynnpresser

the palmers’ kiss

a completed second draft.  figuring out how to make it part of the blog.  in the meantime, my reward for hard labor should be:

  1.  a manicure
  2. a bottle of angel or pink sugar perfume
  3. a bottle of the widow cliquot

your thoughts?


The Palmers’ Kiss

it’s been a while since i’ve written a new book, but i’d like to lift the censorship and start over.  i’d like your help.  would you look at this?  and tell me if you’d like to see chapter two.




Multiple Choice:

  1. The bride was beautiful.
  2. The bride was hideous looking to me and I could barely suffer to see her


The easy answer, of course, is a) the bride was beautiful.  To be sure, every bride is but without any prejudice or bias I can say that there had never been a bride as beautiful as Evelyn.

She entered the church with sunlight as her halo, with a veil covering the bright red hair that she had chosen to leave undone.  I could not tell you anything about her dress except that it was white and long and seemed to be constructed of nothing sturdier than cotton candy.  She wore a necklace that held great meaning for us both—a rose gold rosary.  The nuns had taught us both that rosaries were not to be worn as adornment.

I blinked away a hundred futures that I had once believed would be mine.  Because yes, I had tears.  She was that beautiful.

She processed on the arm of my father who took his responsibility with grim resignation.

Evelyn looked at me only once, when she was but a few steps away.   I willed myself to smile and she returned the same.  And then she looked to the man standing next to me, my best friend Gunther.  He was, of course, the groom.

“Grateful,” she mouthed.

He took her hand and there were only two happy men in the church—Gunther and the minister who looked like he could deliver a funeral with a smile.

The service contained the usual elements.   No doubt a reading, a prayer, an exchange of vows.  And that awkward moment.

“Is there any here among us who has just cause that this union should not be, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

I felt at my back the stares of every guest—most notably my parents–and I tried very hard to breathe.

And then they were joined in holy matrimony and my agony was complete.

The reception was held in the basement of the church.  Because Gunther and his family were old school Methodist there was an assortment of finger foods—dainty sandwiches and whatnot—and nothing stiffer than a punch that had been constructed out of sherbet, ginger ale and a jar of maraschino cherries.  I slipped out to the parking lot with a cup of that concoction and remedied everything with a splash from a flask I had put in my glove compartment.  I’m Irish, as you can guess from my name Sean Cusack, and we don’t do these sort of things without a bracer.

I returned to the gathering and in just the time it had taken me to run my errand, Evelyn had tired.  She sat at the head table with Gunther hovering nearby.  It was clear to me that many of the guests were reminded of the circumstances of the wedding and no amount of balloons and flowers and piano music was going to make a difference.  Methodists at that time didn’t drink, play cards or dance and maybe they even had an aversion to hot looking bridesmaids so I settled in for the duties of a best man with a grim focus.

The third reason for the solemnity of the proceedings had nothing to do with alcohol or Evelyn’s condition.  It was Gunther himself.  As his father and grandfather before him, Gunther was commissioned as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers.  One would have thought that having a four star general as a father would afford some protection against a deployment to Vietnam.  It had not.  Gunther was scheduled to leave the next week for Saigon.

I made three more trips to the car in the course of the excruciating three hour affair.  Then the liquor ran out.

When the couple left for their honeymoon in a car that I had festooned myself, Evelyn said the only words to me for that day.

“We have to find a girl for you.  We can’t keep all of the happiness to ourselves.”

I smiled, or at least I think, hope I did.

I helped with the tear down of the reception, sending home guests with centerpieces and plates of food for their dinners.  I squired several old ladies to their cars.  My father and I put away the folding chairs and tables.  We had taken separate cars and as he said goodbye to me he asked me if I was good.

“Yes,” I said but I meant no.

Multiple Choice:

  1. The bride was beautiful.
  2. The bride was hideous looking to me and I could barely suffer to see her

It’s possible that b) might have been the correct answer.

betrayal, rejection, the usual and then the six month plan

the great theologian and my personal adviser on all matters of faith rev. mike coglan once asked me to imagine for just one moment what it would feel like if i knew, really knew, that God loved me.  exactly the way i am.  even with the things i have done or, perhaps especially, the things i have considered doing.  regardless of how anyone might feel about me and their criticisms or snubs of no mind because God loves me.  hold that imagining for a moment.  and then another moment.


this is not a thought experiment to perform while driving on the ohio turnpike. when i did it, i had to pull over because the emotion was so overwhelming. otherwise, that eighteen wheeler behind me would have started a mosh pit of cars and trucks and amish carriages. our tippy cups are filled with self loathing and guilt when we are young. i was able to work up to ten seconds or so with that thought. then i’d be my usual self.


stick with me here, we’re going to get through the bad news like a quick liver sausage dinner and save the good news for last like a delicate tiramasu!

i absorb all the negatives and slings and arrows of outrageous (and some spot on) circumstance and influences.  maybe you do too.  i’m not good enough.  i’m too fat.  i’m too stupid.  i’m too old.* i’ve done too little to deserve to suck oxygen in the same planet as (insert anybody’s name here).  i’m not good enough for any expenditure of the two greatest treasures–time and talent–that any worthy person has.**


ugh, you can’t sit at this lunch table!  have you ever noticed that the cool kids had the power to reject you and that made them even cooler?  and we didn’t have taylor swift whispering in our ear “shake it off off off!”  i sometimes feel like i have never functionally graduated high school.  oh, yeah, i forgot.  i didn’t actually graduate high school.

some people i.e. the coolest of cool kids can oscillate rejection and acceptance in just the right way.  third period they’re sharing their snickers with you and seventh period they boldly announce that you’re a bed wetter.  the truly bad news is you’ll still think they’re cool and that you’re not.  you’ll hold onto seventh period until you’re on your deathbed and you tell the story of that betrayal to a nurse who will just assume that you’re mumbling again.  the baddest of all bad news is that you can’t be betrayed by a stranger.  only by someone you love and trust and think you know.

cute puppy

oscillating acceptance and rejection is a sure fire way to make your dog go crazy. putting a picture of a cute puppy in a blog post is a sure fire way of making people go “awwwww!”


are we done with the bad news yet?  well, actually, not quite.  just one more smidgen of liver sausage coming in for a landing on your tongue.

all this bad juju makes for bad choices, bad health, bad consequences.  i’ve got more than my share.  too many sleepless nights thinking of what did i do wrong.  too many sleepless nights standing in front of the refrigerator sniffing through boxes of leftover Chinese carryout.  too many times i have gone along with something i didn’t feel right about.  but thought that if i did, i’d be liked, loved, accepted.  i am invariably wrong.

how about you?

are we done yet?  are we done yet?  yes, stop it we are!  we’re at the good news and the six month plan.


my dear friend and couturier jeweler designer susan laid down the law in a very tender but firm way after the portland airport incident.  i had collapsed just after being molested in the usual but invasive way by a tsa agent.  i had a seizure.  a concussion.  i woke up in an ambulance with a paramedic asking

“what’s your name?  do you know your name?”

“i don’t remember,”  i replied haughtily.  well, as haughtily as one can do when one is in an ambulance and doesn’t remember one’s name.  i added “lots of people do not remember their name.”

“what about your birthday?”  asked another paramedic crowding into the scene.  “you know your birthday?”

“a gentleman never asks that question of a lady,”  i said.  full throttle maggie smith vigor.  “i wouldn’t presume to ask yours.”

portland hospital

what a great hospital! really nice doctors and nurses. they gave me the functional equivalent of a checkup in just a few hours and concluded that i’m a pretty much healthy femme d’une certain age but that i might need a neurologist/neurosurgeon and definitely should check back in with my primary care physician when i got back home.  and i’m still a bit wonky because of the accident with the 75 pound dog excited to go for a walk in the snow and the 45 degree pitch driveway that i never followed up on.

i don’t have a primary care physician.  i haven’t been to the dentist since cyndi lauper put out her best album.  i don’t get my hair done or my nails did (slight reference to drake — you fancy huh?) i’ve sort of given up.

“you need to take care of yourself,”  susan advised.  “you’re the only one who will.  you need to spend six months taking care of yourself.  putting yourself first.  nobody else. you’re number one for the next six months.”

she’s known me since i wore leg warmers over my jeans so i trust her.

excuse me?  where is the good news here?  i thought we were at the good news part.

well, there is good news.  i am going to spend the next six months repairing myself.  maybe you need this too.  maybe we do it together.  i’m starting small.  but i’m going to work my way back to whatever i was before the tippy cup sprayed all over me.

number one i’m not going to buy any article of clothing that is black for the next six months.


i have half a dozen black sweaters. no colors. same with skirts, pants, jackets, shoes. in the eighties (nineteenth not eighteenth) it was a sophisticated choice. now i just look like i’m going to my own funeral. ashes to my ashes and dust to my dust. do you have a similar wardrobe quirk?  or a similar habit that tends to reinforce a sense that you’re not worth much?  btw, black as a wardrobe choice makes it possible to disappear.  can you see me in this  picture of my dress?


my next project is to get myself a primary care physician.  oh, and a dentist.  i am taking recommendations. bon vivant and devastatingly handsome seventyish bill seymour has given me the name of one i hope will take me on.  a little rough getting a primary care physician these days bur we’ll give it a shot.

party girl

goodbye black dresses. and goodbye, or at least au revoir, to the negative. one moment by this moment. kind of need to pull over on this ohio turnpike.  at least until february 5, 2017


*lately, i’ve been getting the “too old or otherwise invisible” message from folks.  guess my age.  anything less than 56 gets you a prize.  i don’t know what the prize is.  it might be a pony.  or backstage passes to (insert name of hipster band here).  or it might just be a thank you note.

**that one is not quite true.  my good friend and theater impresario chris johnson is directing a play i wrote while on a thirty day road trip to canada.  i did not drive and write at the same time.  otherwise i’d have to insert that picture from the ohio turnpike again.  the show was produced by theologian slash accountant jim masini


the show is this weekend at the st. sebastian players in chicago — — but it’s not the first time it’s had a run. two runs of the show were done by blockbuster producer marion scully. and another time at the chicago literary club. actors, sound engineers, musicians, even the nice lady beverly parkhurst who takes the tickets–every one of them, every single one of them gave up time and talent for the play. i’m going this weekend and i hope to see you there! and ps if you’re a broadway producer feel free to contact me!  if you’re an actor or actress, please understand that only the dumbest sleep on the casting couch of the writer.  it won’t advance your career at all.


p.s. i managed to get an appoint august 22 with a doctor in glenview.  first thing of course is getting approval from the insurance company. . …

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leaving home, goodbye

for the last year, i have been pretty much housebound.  some days i couldn’t get past the end of the driveway.  but a gal can’t live like this forever.  so having been freed up this past week, i’ve decided to take a road trip and who better to go with me than. . .

my trusty guides william clark and pongo the dog are with me!

my trusty guides william clark and pongo the dog are with me!  i hope they can restore my courage!

remembrance for you

in april, we put on remembrance at the winnetka community house.  we repeatedly sold out and now we're going to do it again.

in april, we put on remembrance at the winnetka community house. we repeatedly sold out and now we’re going to do it again.

today, we settled on a date and place for the next performances of remembrance which is a play about love, sacrifice, and how we honor the memory of those we have loved.  oh, wait, those we will always love.

we had a cast of 27, a crew of six and a band of three very talented musicians.  and we get to do it again.  if you have someone you remember, love and miss this is the play about you.  but if you want to be in a play, you should contact me.  i want to work with you.  the actors and everyone else associated with the project were sometimes in a play for the very first time.

we’re settled on december 5 and 6 in evanston.  there are no cut auditions, which means you’ve already got a part.

if you want to out-cateblanchette cate blanchette and be elizabeth i i'm down with that.  in the last production, we had a cleopatra, a winston churchill, an abraham lincoln and a lot of other interesting characters.

if you want to out-cateblanchette cate blanchette and be elizabeth i i’m down with that. in the last production, we had a cleopatra, a winston churchill, an abraham lincoln and a lot of other interesting characters.

who would you like to be?


i have written a play. it’s called remembrance and it’s about love, sacrifice, what happens to us when we die and the universal fear of being forgotten. and how we honor and remember those we love.

the play will be performed at the winnetka community house on april 23, 24, 25 and 26. i am grateful to gina sich who works there and has secured the rooms. there will be no cut auditions on february 22 from two to four at the house. meaning you have a part. you are already a superstar.

there are two casts. one is a core of eight who will be asked to rehearse over the course of late march and into april. they will have to memorize lines, interact with their castmates and probably buy me candy. the remainder of the cast, and i sure hope it’s a big one, only needs to rehearse a few times and gets to choose who they are. maybe you’ve always wanted to be marie antoinette. maybe george washington. maybe socrates. maybe a simple peasant boy from france. the only person you can’t be is cleopatra and that’s because marion scully has already called dibs.

i have had a rough year as you well know. but i need to do this. and i need you. you might be an actor. you might prefer to be a musician. you might be a graphics designer. you might be someone who is willing to help me sell tickets or contact local media. the only slots that have been filled are caterer for the cast party and my bodyguard.  the bodyguard is totally badass.

so help me out here. send this email to every friend you know. because they are your friends they are now mine and i want to meet them on february 22. tell me what you are able to help with. and think about who you are inside.

we are all meant to be loved. and we are all meant to be remembered.


my new year’s resolution

and a challenge for you:


this year has been a year of losses, most particularly the loss of my best friend which occurred last week.  but counting up my losses is not as productive as counting blessings.  my new friend boris certainly knows about counting blessings.

in 2011, i made a new year’s resolution to spend the year visiting each and every facebook friend i had at the time.  it was a fun year, a year of discovery, a year of having to push my boundaries.  325 friends?  oh, yeah, and 13 countries and just about every state in the nation.  being an agoraphobic who has difficulty leaving the house it was a challenge.  but it was also a pleasure because i got to be with friends, some of whom i had only known online, some of whom i hadn’t seen in decades, some of whom turned out to be, well, catfish.


this year, my resolution is to recover myself.  and to do what my friend mark hashizume calls self-care.  so every day i will do and blog about an act intentionally meant to care for myself.  i ask you, i challenge you, to do the same with me.  we all have had tough years–i have a friend who lost a husband to alzheimer’s. a friend who lost her five year old son to cancer.  a friend whose son committed suicide.  a friend who lost her home (oh, wait, i did too).  and then there’s ryan gosling–

ryan, really, we both have to move on especially now that you and eva are becoming parents.  think of her feelings! and the arlynn presser t-shirt isn't going to make her feel strong and confident as she should!  but truly, i understand your pain.  i'll always love you.

ryan, really, we both have to move on especially now that you and eva are becoming parents. think of her feelings! and the arlynn presser t-shirt isn’t going to make her feel strong and confident as she should! but truly, i understand your pain. i’ll always love you.

how do you self-care?  how do you think  should start self-care?  and can we help each other self-care together?

merry little christmas

addressing those pesky rumors–

santa baby

gettting started a little early . . .