Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured

Pu-Pu-Pu: Protect Your Blessings With The Post-Thanksgiving Anti-Curse!

10 Written by: | Wednesday, Dec 03, 2014 8:00am

Photo via

Photo via

On Thanksgiving I was, like you, perhaps, busy cooking and eating and drinking and watching, or half-watching, or not watching, football. Surrounded by family and friends, steaming platters on the table, sweet dog underneath. My host proposed a toast to good company and good fortune. Honestly, our blessings seemed too many to count. Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Culture, Featured

The Up-to-Your-Neck Book Club

8 Written by: | Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014 8:00am


This past June, I was asked to be one of three judges for the $50,000 Kirkus Prize for fiction, a flashy new prize five times greater than either the Pulitzer or the National Book Award. The same 50K would be given to a nonfiction and a young-adult author, and each winner would be picked by a committee of three, a bookseller, a critic, and an author. For fiction, the bookseller was Stephanie Valdez of the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, the novelist was the great Kate Christensen, and the critic was me. Read More →

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Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured

Is There Email After Death?

32 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014 8:00am

jane and hy

Jane and Hy


For Jen Michalski

Dear Mom,

As it has been six and a half years since we last spoke, we really have a lot to talk about. Marriages, births, deaths, graduations, all sorts of good news and bad. Your little namesake started high school in September, and just a couple of weeks ago, your pal Leon Katz died. I so wanted to call you to discuss it, to reminisce about the old days, the old crowd, Jane and Hy, Diane and Leon, Nancy and Caesar, Lois and Emmett. Maybe you would have told me things I couldn’t have known as a child. I would love some fifty-year-old gossip. Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured

Tony in the Garden

9 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 01, 2014 8:00am


This coming Tuesday, October 7th, I’m hosting a special evening at the Ivy Bookshop. I’ve invited two delightful, brilliant women, Marian Fontana of Brooklyn, NY and Abigail Thomas of Woodstock, NY, to read and discuss with me our books on being widowed. 

Despite losing her firefighter husband on 9/11, the subject of A Widow’s Walk, Marian Fontana is one of the funniest people alive. And the writer and painter Abigail Thomas, author of NYT bestsellers Safekeeping and Three Dog Life, is as good as it gets in this genre.

Here’s an excerpt from my memoir on this topic, First Comes Love, the chapter titled “Tony in the Garden.” This is the only part of the book in third person — my attempt to incorporate Tony’s perspective into the narrative. We talk a lot in my classes at the University of Baltimore about self-implication, about how important it is to show one’s own part in one’s own difficulties. If nothing else, First Comes Love is an extravaganza of self-implication, and this is possibly the chapter where I am the hardest on myself. 

Tuesday at the Ivy, I think there will be lot of joking and laughing and maybe a bottle of wine or two. So if you like your sad mixed with a dose of funny, come on down. – MW

He spends the afternoon in the backyard, bent like a paper clip over the flower beds, watering his hibiscus, his dahlias, his elephant ear, the new Lord Baltimore, picking bugs off leaves and petals, checking the progress of shoots and blossoms. The flowers are beautiful and orderly; they respond to the care they are given in predictable ways. Not like his children, a few feet across the yard playing Throw All The Lawn Chairs Into The Swimming Pool. The children are also beautiful, but chaotic and contrary. And not like his wife, who can be beautiful or ugly and who is at present holed up in Oregon at some women’s writing workshop. 

What a person can expect from a relationship with a plant is very limited, but in general, those expectations are met. He does not believe this to be true with people, though he doesn’t often test the theory. It is best to rely on no one. Look, he relied on her, and she has betrayed him. 

Let us count the ways: Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody

Lorde, Jane, Julianne, Jerry Garcia and Me

7 Written by: | Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014 8:00am

Lorde. Photo via

Lorde. Photo via

The first week of freshman year of high school has just ended for my daughter Jane and her best friend Julianne, and we are driving to the Mann Center in Philadelphia for a concert they’ve been anticipating for months.

For the entire three-hour trip, the girls are at the boiling point of giddiness, chattering and giggling nonstop, fixing their hair, applying and re-applying the special dark purple lipstick acquired for the occasion. 

“I can’t believe she’s warming up her vocal cords just for us.” 

“I can’t believe this is happening.” 

“She wrote some of these songs when she was our age.” 

“We’re going to be in the same place as her.” 

“Do you think she’s in that limo?” 

We all wear T-shirts hand-painted in the basement during a sleepover: “Certified Member of the Love Club,” “Buy Me Orange Juice,” and  “Tigers on a Gold Leash” on the front, “Lorde 2014 / Pure Heroine” on the back. 

Even when they accidentally spray their legs with gasoline while trying to speed our process at a rest stop in Delaware, filling the car with fumes for the remainder of the journey, their spirits are undimmed. Their chauffeur, on the other hand, gets a little cranky.  Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured, Lifeline

Summer Vacation, 2014: Buddhists of Boulder

7 Written by: | Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 8:00am



“Do you want to meet Chris?” asked Emma after dinner our first night in Boulder, Colorado. “He’s working at a restaurant on the Pearl Street mall.”

“Umm….” said Chris uncertainly when she called him to check. “Isn’t kind of soon for me to meet your family?”

“It’s not my real family,” Emma assured him, in case he was picturing Bubbe and Zeyde from Pikesville, Mamaleh and Aunt Monica in tow. “It’s my ex-stepmother and my fourteen-year-old half-sister.”

While it’s hard to know exactly what the ex-stepmother relationship should consist of seven years post-breakup, I miss Emma and her brother Sam, and making a visit with their little sister seemed like a good idea. I tried to get their grandmother (my ex-mother-in-law) to come too, but she eluded me with some crap about being almost 90 and recently recovered from a bout with colon cancer.

Emma, 26, just got her masters from Naropa. She is a Buddhist-Jewish chaplain, a Bujew, as they say. Sam, 23, graduated from the University of Colorado in Environmental Studies. Since Boulder is America’s number one city for both Buddhism and the environment, neither seems inclined to leave. 

It’s also the capital of microbreweries, recycling, gluten-free cuisine, hiking, biking, clean air and legal marijuana. “Nestled between the mountains and reality,” its tourist board proclaims.   Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Culture, Featured

Cleavage, Cleavage, Cleavage

16 Written by: | Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 8:00am

Photo via Wikipedia.  Yes, cleavage has its own Wiki page.

My bosom, which played a solid supporting role in the long-running dramas of mating and motherhood, is in genteel retirement these days, appearing mainly as visual balance for the ever-swelling regions below my waist. Actually, my boobs, too, seem to be getting bigger and bigger, in inverse proportion to their practical usefulness. My rapid and seemingly inevitable expansion recalls the plight of Violet Beauregarde at the end of her visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Perhaps the Oompa Loompas can do something for me, since the South Beach Diet and apparently can’t.

Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Culture, Featured

The Story of Laurie

13 Written by: | Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 8:00am



Marion Winik shares the story of her friendship with an unlikely BFF, whose untimely death still makes no sense.

Chapter One

At the time I met him in 1999, my second husband Crispin was renting a little white house on an emu farm in Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania. It was on Granary Road, or Grainary Rd, or Grainery Rd, depending on which of its three signs you were looking at. Orthography is a bit of a gamble in South Central Pennsylvania; if no one knows for sure how to spell anything, at least they cover their bets.

One day while Crispin was out shooting hoops in the driveway with his little son, they noticed smoke rising over the hills of the farm next door.  Crispin is not much for visiting, socializing  or anything else that interrupts one’s reading, but as it became clear that this was not a barbecue but an uncontrolled field fire, he accepted that it was time to meet the neighbors. Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured

Rhapsody in June

13 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 8:00am


the-delaware-seashore in June

I am never going to leave Virginia Beach, where the boardwalk is stone and the hotels are a wall of blocks flanked by mulched banks of flowers. The bike trail veers from the oceanfront through a pine forest, deep and green. The waves are so gentle they almost don’t break. We have a coupon for a free drink at the bar.

In Narragansett, the bay is true navy with white sails scudding, the beach a smile of sand in a rocky clasp. There is no retail anything anywhere, not a hot dog stand, not a hotel. We dragged chairs for a quarter-mile to study real estate listings on the beach. If we had to leave we would surely return. Read More →

Bohemian Rhapsody, Featured, Lifeline

June Wedding Report: The Long and Winding Road

18 Written by: | Wednesday, May 28, 2014 8:00am



Photo by Kirk Bauer.

For many years I was a freelancer for Brides magazine, writing up weddings at the Museum of Natural History, at exclusive resorts in Cabo San Lucas, on cruise ships in New York Harbor, with bridesmaids in Todd Oldham or Vera Wang and flowers that might have come from the court of the Sun King. These weddings had theme colors and signature cocktails and bridesmaid favors and complex gift registries, the full monty of goofy traditions we heterosexuals have invented to go along with the legal and emotional essentials, and all were thoroughly documented in my accounts. Read More →

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