Monthly Archives: November 2016


These pages have been strangely silent. For many reasons. I’m tired, for one. Tired of the despair following the election. Tired of the underlying sorrow no matter how happy the upper levels. I’m just…tired.

But the better reason is that Scottie was home for a week. I have no words sufficient to express that joy. We spent a lot of time together. I taught him how to make sauce. We played games, chatted. Thanksgiving down in NJ with my entire family, always fun. Noisy, but fun. And I remembered why it was a really good thing he was a country away during the election. Whew!

And yet the whole time he was here, I knew my hourglass was losing sand, and he’d be gone again, back to his life. Where he belongs. Where he is happy. I might see him next summer, or maybe next holiday season. Until then, there are texts and phone calls and the occasional Facetime chat. It’s hardest when first he leaves, but I’ll be fine, really. Knowing he’s happy, out in the world and doing his thing, is what I want most for him. And for me. It’s a good feeling. A proud one. I don’t want my kids bound to my side any more than I want to be bound to my own mother’s. I’ll still miss him so much, it’ll hurt sometimes.

Scott misses his brother out there in Portland, but he misses him more when he’s here and expecting him to be sitting on the couch with his vape and a grin, or coming in the door, sweaty from the gym. I know how he feels. After a year and a half, I still watch for Chris’ car to turn into the driveway sometimes.

And even as I write this, the joys of my life tap my shoulder. “Don’t forget us.” A week with my son. Thanksgiving with my family. Christmas and New Year’s to come. My amazing daughters. My adorable grands. In a couple of weeks, I have a friend coming from KC for a Christmas visit. We’re meeting a few other friends in NYC to see the tree and have some fun. My day-to-day life is good, full. A fabulous chat with Beloved Agent Janna about Entangled (formerly known as Undeclared) not only pulled the elements of that story together, but gave me insight into Heroically Lost. I’m ridiculously thrilled to start revisions on Entangled–as soon as I have Heroically Lost in a place I feel comfortable leaving it for a couple weeks.

And then there’s Europe in March. Virginia Beach in May. The Jersey Shore with the kids and grands in August; September, too, with friends. Myrtle Beach in October. Maybe I’ll even squeak in a trip out to Portland in April.

I feel like a jerk for being sad when I have it so good. Yet, sometimes happiness feels so horribly wrong. I miss my son. Difficult as Chris’ life was, as his life was for all of us, I just want him back, and that feels wrong too. Wishing him back wishes back his pain, his struggles he’s now free from. But should I be glad he’s gone and free, after all? How wrong is that? I want Scottie to stay in Portland where he’s happy. And I want him closer by. But I don’t! Because…because…because–egads, it keeps going around and around. All the conflict constantly churning in me is what has me so exhausted.

As Jamie said to me this morning: God mom, you and all your stupid and totally valid complex emotions! SO ANNOYING (with a smiley face, because this is how we best relate in my family, with playful derision that dulls the sharp edges.)

I responded: Simple has never been my forte.

For now, I got these things out of my head and onto a page, where they do me the most good. Now, an hour later than usual, it’s time to get to writing.




Filed under Life's honest moments

It’s not your call

Dear Trump supporters,

We get it. You won the election when every poll and every news outlet said it was impossible. Trump is our next president. You’re breathing a sigh of relief. Horray for you. But you know what? You don’t get to tell the rest of us it’s time to get over it and move on. You just don’t.

For eight years you despised our President. Eight. Years. You obstructed, you spewed derision, you cheered every time anything he tried to do failed and booed whenever he succeeded. Some of you have been absolutely disrespectful of his race, of his wife, of his status as an American citizen.

Eight years of, “He is not my president.”

Eight years of crying for Impeachment.

Eight years you carried on.

Eight years you didn’t get over it and move on.

So you don’t get to tell more than half the country (of those who voted) it’s time to make peace and accept our fate. My last blog post made it clear I am willing to see the other perspective and at least try to understand things from your eyes. I strive not to fall for click bait or believe everything I read on Facebook. I’ve listened, and I’ve absorbed, and I’ve even agreed on a few things. But that doesn’t mean I’m “over it.” No. I’m not. I won’t be, either, unless some Dickens-like miracle happens and Donald Trump changes the tune he sang throughout not only this election process, but at least the last decade. If he proves to be a damn good president, I won’t despise him simply because of how you despised Barak Obama (and Hillary Clinton.) I won’t hold my breath, either.




Filed under Uncategorized

Politics for the Storyminded

(Spoilers concerning Harry Potter and Star Wars ensue. You’ve been warned.)

Let me begin by stating: I’m a total dork. I know this. I accept this. I embrace it. Now that that’s out of the way…

I’ve recently been listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, narrated by the extraordinary Jim Dale. If you love the books but have read them until whole passages are memorized, give them a listen. It’s an entirely new experience, and makes them like new again. Trust me on this.

Being fully absorbed by this world, I couldn’t help seeing the parallels between it and the election. From the Democrat perspective, the primaries, the trail, everything right up until Election Day was The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban. It was a constant battle against great evil, but the fight was won every time.

And then came our Goblet of Fire.

At the end of Goblet of Fire, there is no happy ending. There is no vanquishing of the evil. Voldemort rises despite all the battles against him won. With him rises all the fear and denial and infighting in the Wizarding World. No one wants to believe it happened, and so they pretend it hasn’t. They go out of their way to prove it’s all lies. Old prejudices rear their ugly heads. The greatest battles now lie ahead.

That’s where we are now–at the end of Goblet of Fire, going into The Order of the Phoenix, and we have a fight on our hands.

But from the Republican perspective, it’s the same hero’s tale–Star Wars–just a different perspective. The last eight years have been their New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back. Their evil overlord was in power, and they were fighting him with all they had. Those two stories ended with the rebels sticking it to him, but the Emperor was still in power, still needed to be overthrown.

This election was their Return of the Jedi. Against all odds, their candidate won. The Rebel Alliance toppled the Empire’s power, and set the balance in their favor again.

But a story doesn’t end when the last word is read, or the credits roll. After The Goblet of Fire, the Wizarding World fights to get their world back again. After Return of the Jedi comes The Force Awakens. The Empire is on the rise again, and has been since the Ewoks did their victory dance.

I keep saying that in the middle is where we’re going to find peace. Some days, it feels impossible to even hope for that. There aren’t simply two perspectives, but so many in between that there’s never going to be something that makes everyone happy. In the world of Lord of the Rings, there is definite good and definite evil, but, much as I’d love to claim otherwise, Donald Trump isn’t Sauron. His people aren’t Orcs. They’re people who believe they’ve just won the fight of their lives and, whether we agree or not, they have.

Life is a story. Hillary Clinton’s loss was a huge blow to a great many people for so many reasons, trying to touch on even a small portion of them isn’t possible in so small a space, but that story isn’t done. We still have to get through The Order of the Phoenix, The Half-blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, at the very least. And Trump’s win isn’t the end of that story either. He’s still got The Force Awakens (plus two more movies) ahead of him.

And it doesn’t end there, either.

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Filed under keeping up the fight, Political

This tidal wave

It is in the extremes we find voice; it is in the middle we find peace. (TLD)

When I started writing Heroically Lost, I thought it was an homage to my son, Scott. The heroine of the story is a young woman in her mid-thirties, still grappling to find a place in the world while keeping her convictions intact. Too often, we look on such grapplers as arrested youth, as slackers, when they are anything but. They struggle to find a way to live their authentic lives without caving to a society they have nothing in common with.

I didn’t realize I was writing yet another aspect of myself as well.

I struggle with a duality of nature. I’m fierce, and yet I’m a pacifist. I will fight for what I believe in until I draw my last breath, but I will never fight fire with fire. I am passionate about my beliefs and ideals, but I need to at least try to see the other perspective. I understand revolution is sometimes necessary to effect change, but I feel in the deepest part of me that most of the work and struggle is after the war has been won (or lost,) and it never truly ends.

I’ve always maintained–good and evil depends upon whose eyes one is looking out of. And I hold by my statement above. We find our voices in extremes. That has been proven by the fact that Donald Trump was elected. It will be in the middle we find peace. Not by fighting fire with fire. Not by obstructing everything the next administration attempts to do whether we disagree with it or not. Perpetuating that cycle does exactly that–it keeps it going. No one wins.

Some will say I’m compromising my position, that I’m too willing to work with the bullies and thereby empowering them to continue bullying. I understand that, because sometimes that’s the way it feels even to me. But I learned an important lesson, over and over throughout my life. Pushing only gets you pushed back, and doesn’t end until one stands over the other, victorious. That’s all well and good when the winning side is yours, but when it’s not…

Years ago, friends and I went to a concert. (Dave Matthews, one of the best days of my life.) We were all singing and dancing and trying not to be squished by everyone else doing the same. As I danced, my favorite ring flew off my finger. “Crap! I lost my ring!” Some guy standing nearby turned around furiously and got right in my face. “Well, I lost my insulin, so how about you shut up?” My instant reaction was, “Oh, that’s worse. Let me help you find it.”

I’m not trying to be noble here. It was simply my reaction. The man deflated. “I’m sorry. That was rude. I’m dead without my meds. Thanks.” These are not direct quotes, of course. It was a really long time ago, but it  happened exactly like this, even if the wording isn’t verbatim.

We found his insulin. We didn’t find my ring. The event remains one of the great epiphanies of my life. My instinctive reaction, once realized, made me more mindful of it in the future. I have diffused more strife than I can even recall by doing the same, by seeing the other perspective and not simply reacting in kind. I’ve also lost a few of these battles, but I can count those easily enough. Because I’m mindful of my reaction, I get to choose my battles. Sometimes winning just isn’t worth the effort when walking away gives me more peace, and denies the other party the victory of bringing me down to their level of aggression. Backing away doesn’t mean backing down.

We need warriors of all kinds. Those who are willing, even need, to get elbow deep in the push and shove, and those of us who keep trying to find the middle ground where we can all live in relative peace. I honor, respect, and appreciate every version in between, too. I know which kind I am, and it’s not compromising, or weak, or bellying up to the bully. It takes a kind of strength I’m proud of, and no one is going to make me feel otherwise about it.

In the coming months, maybe years, we have a fight on our hands. It’s not one I’ll back away from. But neither am I going to paint all of those on “the other side” with the same brush. I’m going to fight injustice and inequality, but always keep in mind that there are a myriad of ways of doing so that will get a whole lot better result than shoving back.



Filed under keeping up the fight

Scarlett had it right

Tomorrow is another day.

Yesterday, I mourned. As a woman. As the sister of a gay man who has had to remarry his husband of thirty years several times as the laws changed and changed again. As the aunt of a special needs nephew, and Puerto Rican nieces. As a mother of amazing children who will have to keep fighting for what’s right. As the mother of a child lost to the stigma, and the on-going lack of understanding about addiction. I mourned for all the Others who I can empathize with but never know what it is to be them.

Now it’s tomorrow. I will not mourn.

I fought and fought and fought for Chris, and ultimately lost in a way we can’t come back from. All my mourning belongs to him. I have fought my whole life to unravel what it means to be a woman in this man’s world, in a world that supposedly venerated the mother who stayed home to be a mother, and alternately found fault with her choice of “tradition.” I’ve fought to find my value, to embrace it and exude it and claim it when society wouldn’t give me my due. I believe I am a strong woman, a confident woman., and I am, in my world. But my world is small, and though my value within it is vast, it apparently doesn’t extend much beyond that sphere.

Yesterday, the country proved many things, and one of them is that there are too many people who believe that the only way to live their authentic lives is to make sure everyone else lives theirs by the same rules. This election wasn’t about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. It was about the clash of ideals.

Conservatives see their world crumbling, their values being compromised, their pockets being picked. Liberals see that crumbling as expanding, those values being altered to encompass those who don’t fit the old molds, and sharing the wealth too long being hoarded. The extremes of both groups speak the loudest, and frighten all those in the middle. That is where the common ground lies. That is where we all, Conservative and Liberals, get to live our authentic selves.

We need a place that rejects misogyny, bigotry, and racism (MBR) without stamping out those mindsets we don’t agree with. There are comparatively few who would say, “I’m a racist/bigot/misogynist! What of it? It’s my right as an American.” But they exist, and they’re the ones wearing the face of Conservatism proudly, and across the globe. Most who are promoting MBR don’t believe they are. I’m treading on very shaky ground here, because I don’t understand how people who claim something like, “Muslims should be banned from coming into this country,” don’t see that it’s racist. I don’t understand how my brother’s marriage somehow invalidates theirs. And I certainly don’t understand how anyone who believes they have the right to dictate a woman’s reproductive health doesn’t see the misogyny. But these mindsets exist, and they feared all the change as somehow impacting them and their rights. They saw the last eight years as that change being forced down their throats. What Liberals saw as progress, something to be celebrated, they saw as horrifying, and threatening to the fabric of their existence.

Conservatives tend to look inwardly. Liberals tend to look outwardly. Self-preservation means something different to both sides. What won the election for Conservatives was fear. What lost it for the Liberals was apathy. What this whole country suffers from, on both sides, is ignorance.

This thing has been done. It will go horribly wrong for everyone if ignorance continues to prevail. It’s time to embrace the Other, whoever that is. If we always act in kindness, we can’t go wrong. If we always treat the Other as we would want for ourselves, our loved ones, everyone wins.

I will not be silent. I will not mourn. I will not give up the fight. We can get there, America. We will get there.



Filed under Political

Prove me wrong

America has spoken, and what it says breaks my heart. White privilege is stronger in this country than compassion, than progress, than a wider scope of who gets to have what.

To the people who voted for Trump, I say–No one has been asking you to give up your rights. It was asked that you share what you’ve had for centuries with others. But Liberals got cocky. We thought, we actually believed, that recognizing the rights of all in real ways was an actuality. It wasn’t. White privilege raised a paternal fist and snatched it back, “Now, now. That’s enough. You’re getting out of hand.”

The dream of equality was just that–a dream. Women still have only what the benevolent men in their lives agree to give them. The same goes for the LGBT community, and all people of any color other than white. My husband, my beloved Frankie D, said it perfectly this morning, and he has no idea how it exemplifies my biggest fear. “You know how important you are to me.”

To me. Yes. To him. My adoring, white, well-off man. I’m important to him, but I’m not important to this country as a woman. None of us are. That has been proven by the fact that Donald Trump will be our president for the next four years.

Someday, people are going to understand that my brother’s right to marry his husband of thirty years has no bearing whatsoever on their marriages. They’ll understand that a woman having an abortion for any reason is a personal, heart-wrenching decision, not theirs. Saying, “Happy Holidays” isn’t a slap in Christmas’ face, and Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean others don’t. Being Muslim doesn’t make one a terrorist. Identifying as transgender isn’t a new craze destroying our youth and robbing the sanctity of our bathrooms. Someday. This is, apparently, not that day. Willful ignorance has won.

Mexicans aren’t stealing your jobs. They’re working jobs Americans won’t work for a pay they’d never be able to afford to live on. These are not the people bringing drugs over the border. That’s not going to end, with or without a wall. Believing that overseas jobs are the bane keeping Americans out of work is far too simplistic a response, and as right as it is wrong. “Made in America,” isn’t just a patriotic slogan; it’s the reality of paying an American at least a fair minimum wage. When we can no longer go to Walmart and buy a pair of jeans for $12, and instead have to pay $40 for the same pair, let’s see how people feel about a global economy.

White. Male. Straight. Christian. Middle-to-Upper Class America, and those who believe that’s the end all, be all of existence, you’ve made yourself perfectly clear. Global warming is a myth, because believing it’s real is far too scary. You feel threatened by others sharing your privilege. You fought back, and you’re proud of that. You’re taking back your country, and going to make it great again even if it’s on the backs of others, at the expense of others, because that’s how all greatness is attained in the world you’ve built. Not by building each other up, but by keeping everyone else down.

For me, there will still be holidays with beloved family, and vacations. I’ll go to book club and writing group. Books will be written, and books will be published. I am ensconced in the white privilege I eschew; life will continue. It’s darker now. All I believed about the inherent goodness in people has been proven false by the election of a man who represents bigotry, racism, and misogyny, whose platforms hinged on fear and division. He is the face of our nation. The face we are showing the world, and I am ashamed.

I want to be proven wrong. 100% wrong, even 50% wrong. I DO NOT WANT TO BE RIGHT. Time will tell.



Filed under Political

A Truly Bizarre Dream

I dream in story. I always have. For me, it’s not only a matter of my brain sorting through the day’s events, storing memories and sifting them to the right places. (Pixar’s Inside Out does an amazing job of illustrating this process. So cool.) My dreams tell me stories, and sometimes those stories get written down into a book. Last night, however, was one of those bizarre dreams that stayed with me in sharp detail. That alone says something, but the components are a mystery to me…so I’m memorializing it here.

The dream:

Frank and I were on our way to a wedding. I was wearing the dress I wore when he and I got married nearly 28 years ago. We were on Lincoln Ave, in Hawthorn, NJ. I was driving. Frank told me to get on Route 208 via the entrance ahead, but when I turned onto the road he indicated, we were in the woods. And on foot. And it was pitch black.

I had no idea where we were, but Frank noticed a Costco shopping cart off to the side in the bramble. He led me (and some other people I have no idea the identity of, but were also going to this wedding) to the back of a Costco parking lot. I went into the store, but it wasn’t a Costco. It was a movie theater. And Frank was no longer with me.

Instead, I was with a cyclops. Yup. A cyclops. For some reason, even in the dream, I had the sensation of Brian and William, (earlier that day, I noted how incredibly like his grandfather he looks.) The cyclops’ one, beautiful eye was very blue with the hint of green. He was young, and sweet, and he had this coupon that said all cyclopes got into the movies for free. I was referred to as “12-pack mom” because, apparently, I frequented that movie theater once a week with a dozen second graders, and thus qualified for a dollar discount on my movie ticket.

While cyclops was trying to use his coupon, I was singing at the top of my lungs with a very large, very talented black man. We were singing, “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough.” I knew all the words. A woman with very long hair was dancing beside us, breaking into the chorus whenever we got to it.

And then I woke up. I remember seeing it was just before dawn and thinking I wanted to go right back to sleep so I could continue the dream, but I, of course, had to pee, so I got up. I went back to sleep, but not to the dream. And still, it was clear as it remains right now when I finally did get up about an hour later.

If anyone has any interpretation to offer, I’m game!



Filed under Uncategorized

Sadly Appropriate

When Christofer was born, Frank brought home a little pine tree in what looked like a cigar tube. Someone at work gave it to him, some promo or other. We planted it at the house on Apollo Drive (NJ) and dubbed it, “the Chris tree.” A few years later, when the tree was about two feet high, we moved to Connecticut. I couldn’t leave that tree, so I took the chance and uprooted it to plant at the house on Country Farm Lane.

I never thought we’d leave there, but we did, after ten years. The silly politics that go on in a neighborhood just got to be too much. Leaving behind Scottie’s crab apple, Grace’s rose bush, Jamie’s pin oak was hard enough, but they’d all been planted years into living on Country Farm Lane. Chris’ baby tree was different. They’d been born at the same time. By then, it was just too big to uproot without killing it, so we left it to move to the other side of the river.

We watched all their trees grow over the next few years. I always worried a little more about Chris’ tree. The others had been appropriately planted in beneficial spots. I didn’t worry they’d be chopped down. But his (gads, how symbolism actually happens in real life!) had been planted in a precarious place. I didn’t realize it at the time. I was new to gardening, and didn’t think about how big it would grow, how it would overshadow everything around it.

After Chris’ accident, I became a bit obsessed with the health and well-being of his tree. Any sign of disease, fear of it becoming too big and being chopped down, had me worrying. Through the years of his struggle with heroin, I’d drive over to the old neighborhood, just to make sure the tree was okay. As long as the tree was still standing strong, so would he.

Three years, heroin-free. I stopped obsessing over the tree. I didn’t check on it unless I happened to be in the neighborhood. Then Chris died. I was afraid to go see his baby tree. But I did. And still it stood. Too big. A little scraggly. But there.

Last time I was in the neighborhood, it was dark. I squinted in the darkness for the hulk of that tree, and it wasn’t there. Maybe I’d been driving by too fast. Maybe it was a trick of moonlight and starshine. I tried not to think about it.

This morning, at breakfast, Frank said, “Did you see they took Chris’ tree down?”

My heart sank a little. I’d known, but I hadn’t acknowledged. “Yes. I did.”

And that’s all we said. What else was necessary? It was almost…right. Chris is gone, and so is his baby tree. Had it come down any time before his death, I’d have freaked out. Now? It’s sadly appropriate.

I wish I had a piece of it. I’d hang it on one of the beams in my house. Maybe there’s a stick left in the rock wall. Or maybe it’s firewood stacked in the yard. I’m not sure I want to go ask, because I’m not positive what answer I hope to receive.



Filed under Family