As I have been telling friends and relatives from around the country who phoned or messaged this week to make sure we were all right amid the protests in Baltimore: I’m watching it all on TV, just like you are. My only live-action participation has been a little peace march we put together for the kids in our neighborhood the day schools were closed. There were four moms, a few high school students and six or seven little ones. We paraded down to the corner of Cold Spring Lane and Schenley Road, then over to Keswick with brown-paper signs, banging on pots, chanting slogans, and singing — and cheering when we got solidarity honks and peace signs from passing motorists. Read More →
Over spring break I was lucky enough to take a vacation in Miami Beach with my 14-year-old daughter Jane, my 26-year-old son Hayes, and his girlfriend Maria. Hayes and Maria, who live in Boston, had many opportunities to appreciate the reason for Jane’s ongoing frustration with me as every day I forget half of what happened the day before. As Jane acidly reminds me who went home on American Idol, what we decided about shopping for a dress for the dance, and that she already told me all about the math test, all I can do is entreat her to bear with me as I bumble through the ever-deepening geriatric fog. Such is the fate of children born in one’s forties. Read More →
For fifteen years after my father’s death, my mother dated a man with whom she had a rather cool connection. My sister and I believed that she kept him around mainly to avoid going alone to events attended by couples, perhaps to increase her chances of being invited to such events. At some point, she remarked that she liked having someone “to drive her to things.” This probably meant “to drive her home from things,” as single readers who enjoy a drink or three at social functions may understand.
Eventually my mother’s beau had a health crisis that required the services of a private day nurse, with whom he often lunched at the golf club. At this point he began to see my mother far less, then not at all. Though not heartbroken, my mother was insulted. “If he had paid me $100 a day, I would have been nicer, too,” she said haughtily. Read More →
If you live outside the reach of Baltimore news and gossip, you may not know the names Molly Shattuck and Heather Cook. If you are here, you have heard of little else for months. Briefly: Shattuck is a 47-year-old mother of three, a former Ravens cheerleader now divorced from her wealthy husband. According to criminal allegations brought against her last November, after a seduction via Instagram, she performed oral sex on a 15-year-old boy, a friend of her son’s, last summer at a beach house. The school got wind of it, leading to her arrest. She is charged with two counts of third-degree rape, four of unlawful sexual contact and three of distributing alcohol to a minor. Read More →
Mrs. Jo Yo was a very old lady with a small and terrible white dog, named Snowflake. The dog seemed to be half Lhasa apso, half pit bull, and could spring into the air as if released from a slingshot. If he didn’t actually bite you, it wasn’t because he didn’t want to. Read More →
Recently I received a note from a reader in New York City who asked if we could talk on the phone — he wanted some advice. Though I am retired from my post as the Answer Lady for Ladies Home Journal, I still like thinking about other people’s problems, so invited him to call while I was on a long drive through western Maryland.
My caller was a young lawyer-turned-game designer, a new dad, happily married, and the more we chatted, the more I wondered what his question could be. Was it a drug problem? Perhaps he wanted writing advice? When he finally, awkwardly, got to the point, it turned out to be the most basic problem of human existence. Read More →
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 →
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 →
For Jen Michalski
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 →
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 →
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