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“The Line” was inspired by seeing lines of women and children in Somalia, Rwanda, other war-torn countries and regions experiencing famine; old photos and films of bread lines during the Great Depression and World Wars, present-day lines for soup kitchens and food pantries.
In New York City lines are unavoidable, though not always as desperate. We settle into lines at the DMV, the post office, for a movie or trendy bar. When I first arrived in the 70’s, I used to stand in movie lines in Times Square while friends waited in Howard Johnson’s. Times Square wasn’t what it is today (a theme park), it was gritty and peculiar. There were employees and patrons of peek-shows and porno shops, con-men and freaks, hookers and pimps. It was a marvel to a little girl from northern Appalachia, a hypnotic spectacle I took in eagerly.
I confess that I sometimes enjoy the camaraderie of a line. My local fish store, at certain times of the day, has a long line of shoppers with whole fish in bowls, waiting to tell the man behind the counter how we want it cut and cleaned. We discuss recipes and politics; we gossip. Grocery store lines are the only chance I have to read tabloid headlines, statements that conjure up fantasies beyond the fallacious stories within.
Of course, there are those lines we haven’t the patience for when we’re in a hurry, those that turn up unexpectedly. There are lines that oblige us to contend with angry or psychotic people. Londoners wait patiently in their queues; it’s not always so in New York. Books help. iPods help, but you might miss something interesting.
I was once in a movie line in Boston when the temperature was -5 and the people in front of me were eating ice cream. (It was the 60’s.)
What “in line” experiences have you had?

The Line

Here’s a link to one of the stories in my book:

The Perfect Storm

For the past month I’ve been tossed about by the perfect storm. No one has it easy these days; here’s my story:

After hurricane evacuation and earthquake disorientation, we faced moving. We thought we had three months to shed our belongings but because of a legal snipe, we had three weeks! No time to rid ourselves of forty years (+) of accumulation. 11,000 lbs were packed up and put into an inaccessible storage facility in Statin Island until we could move into our new apartment. Because of a death in the family and the inability of movers to reschedule, this was delayed three weeks. We tried to get another moving company but they wanted four times the price we’d already paid. Temporarily homeless, we moved into our son’s basement (may the goddess bless him and our daughter-in-law who welcomed us despite tight quarters and raging toddlers). From there we went to our daughter in Chicago for a week and back to the basement, then  to our empty apartment. Stressed out about the fact that the 11,000 lbs of stuff wouldn’t fit in the door of the new place, wearing the same clothes over and over for a month, lord, how I feel for those in this situation who have no light at the end of the tunnel, no helpful friends or family.

Oh, yes, my first book of short stories came out at the same time.

The good news is that I need to gain ten lbs (& strength) and I’m moving to Harlem where the food is plentiful and delicious. Also, I’ve played a thousand games of Candyland and Disney Princess Yatzee, watched every UmiZoomi and begun to actually like Yo Gabba Gabba.

Crisis Averted

My iPod died. It was quite old and well used. Still, it was a shock, especially at a time when my house was in need of cleaning, an activity that requires aggressive escapist accompaniment.

Howie offered me his iPod as he recently acquired an iPhone and put all his music on it. (We’re a model iFamily.) My iTutor (see what I mean?) helped me erase all Howie’s music from the ‘Pod and replace it with mine. Wonder of wonders, my old iPod held 2 gigs of data, Howie’s held 7 gigs! On the way home I plugged in, anxious to take advantage of the new playlist I’d created from shared music collected by my musically-obsessed husband. Alas, none of my playlists appeared on the ‘Pod. I reinstalled as directed…no playlists, not even the option of playlists.

My lists are key in terms of travel and housework. I have a pair of large serious sound-suppressing earphones, given to me by my daughter, that I use at home. Howie gallantly offered me the use of his iPhone catalogue but, having made no playlists of his own, the shuffle option was an unsuitable choice as he listens to an inordinate number of old blues songs sung by talented but wretched and despondent musicians. This music is appropriate for wallowing in misfortune, bemoaning fate; it is not music to vacuum by. I hate vacuuming! It’s strenuous and repetitive (therefore futile like all housework, though necessary for health reasons). It requires energy music, uplifting syncopation and powerful voices. Rock ‘n Roll! A shuffle of my music would include, not only some “mood” music, but yoga accompaniment–not suitable for housekeeping either.

The option of playlists, missing from his iPod, was not not to be found in the menu or settings. I left my unclean house behind and returned to the Apple store with a heavy heart. What could be more depressing than facing a hungry vacuum or a grungy bathroom to the tune of Robert Johnson or Blind Willie McTell. I need Zackery Richard, Tom Petty, the Shirelles, for heavens sake…and my theme song, which appears in every playlist, “The Mountain” by Steve Earl (ok, that’s a little sentimental).

iTutor to the rescue. It took her one minute to turn the playlist option on and there were my lists, safe and sound on the “new” iPod. Amen!

House cleaned.