Bohemian Rhapsody

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I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead and Also Before

18 Written by: | Wednesday, Nov 04, 2015 8:00am

Jane Winik sleeping

The subject of sleep first came up a couple days ago at the breakfast table, at which my rumpled darling had wearily arrived in her plaid bathrobe in search of the restorative powers of Multigrain Cheerios and coffee. Fifteen, Jane fell in love with coffee at the malt shop, which is what our neighborhood Starbucks might as well be, then noticed the big fresh pot brewing on our kitchen counter every morning. A baby addict was born.

After checking her phone for overnight BuzzFeed scoops and Instagram emergencies, she yawned and posed the following existential question. “If you could never be tired, never need sleep and just be up all the time, or if you could just have a long, perfect night’s sleep every night, which would you choose?” Read More →

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The Original Desperate Housewife of Dayton, Ohio

3 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015 8:14am


“Ever since I read that Eva Braun, Judas Iscariot and Anne Boleyn shared my zodiac sign, I never could get too choked up about astrology,” wrote Erma Bombeck in one of my favorite columns. Read More →

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When My Mother Became the Freaking Buddha

8 Written by: | Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 8:00am


Author’s note: As I mentioned in another column, I’m working on a novel that contains a character loosely based on my mother, partly just as an excuse to have her in my head. In the process, I ended up rereading this old essay. The illness described here was not the one that finally got her — she was around another 13 years.

“When My Mother Became The Freaking Buddha” is adapted from my 2005 collection, Above Us Only Sky.

One day in May of 1995, I got a call from my mother. “I was just picking up the phone to call you,” I assured her, knowing she was anxious to hear the latest on a book deal I was hoping to get. I was supposed to call the minute I knew anything, but I hadn’t. Well, only two days had gone by since I’d heard the news, which wasn’t too good, and anyway, one has to balance the pleasantness of one’s mother’s interest in the minutiae of one’s life with its faintly annoying aspect.

Making up for my tardiness, I launched into the tale, and it wasn’t until she broke in and said, “Well, I have to go soon and —”

“I’m almost done,” I said.

“Yes, but I have some bad news.”

No. “What?”

“Well… It looks like I have a little cancer,” she said, and then, in the five minutes remaining until her boyfriend Ceddie picked her up to go eat Chinese, and interrupted by my shrieks of what and how and when, she told me that she’d been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, she had known for over a month, she was starting a course of chemotherapy and radiation on Friday, and she had a fifty percent chance of cure. Then Ceddie was there, and she had to run. “Oh, Mommy,” I said helplessly. Read More →

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Another Incredible Weight Loss Miracle

20 Written by: | Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 8:00am


No matter what you read in the paragraphs that follow, don’t worry about me, don’t try to tell me I look just fine, and for heaven’s sake don’t exclaim next time you see me, as did one elderly acquaintance, in her Carolina drawl, “Whah, look at you. You must have lost a thousand pounds!”

(At the time, I had not lost even one pound, but this sort of thing has been happening to me all my life with no relationship at all to whether I have lost weight or not. For reasons I cannot divine, people remember me as much fatter than I am. I bloat in retrospect.) Read More →

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The Family Gazette: Summer Edition

13 Written by: | Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 8:00am

Family members at Taylor Swift concert in Foxboro, Massachusetts (see Entertainment, below).

Family members at Taylor Swift concert in Foxboro, Massachusetts (see Entertainment, below).

“Round, round, get around, we get around”


Lead Story: Theater Shootings Traumatize Teenage Film Fan

Jane Sartwell, 15, of Baltimore, MD, stopped to visit her aunt and uncle, Nancy and Kenny Seeback of Suffern, NY, on the way home from a Taylor Swift concert in New England last month. After enjoying dinner at a local trattoria, where her mother, Marion Winik, 57, also of Baltimore, proclaimed the artichoke appetizer delicious but the red clam sauce “not very red,” the group went to see the Brian Wilson bio-pic “Love and Mercy” at the Pascack Theater in Westwood, NJ, an older downtown cinema divided into small screening rooms. After the group had taken seats in the Lilliputian sixth row, a middle-aged man in cargo shorts entered alone and chose a spot down front. Read More →

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OxyClean and Oxycontin: The Mothership Visits Boston

14 Written by: | Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 9:12am



Photo via

Once one’s child is twenty-seven years old, opportunities for hands-on mothering are rare. Should this child live far away in another city, be male, have a steady girlfriend, a good job and a nice apartment, one gets at most a courtesy call in situations where one would once have played a leading role. Or would at least have been required to supply a credit card number. Read More →

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The Sky Was All Purple: Baltimore Prince Concert Report

5 Written by: | Wednesday, Jun 03, 2015 8:00am

Prince concert Baltimore

The one pic we took despite the cell phone ban.

When Prince announced his Mother’s Day Baltimore show shortly after the uprising and a few days before my birthday, I took it as a sign. This one’s for you, Marion Winik. Last time I saw my beloved Artist was more than ten years ago at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. We sat in the very last row, our heads touching the cinderblock wall. Another twenty years before that, I was in the uppermost balcony at Radio City Music Hall — which was a good seat only when Prince sang International Lover from a giant, flying four-poster bed. This time I was determined to do better, no matter what. Read More →

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Our Story Now: How We’re Doing Here in Baltimore

19 Written by: | Friday, May 01, 2015 9:15am

D. Watkins (left) on CNN.

D. Watkins (left) on CNN.

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 →

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56 Is the New 93

36 Written by: | Wednesday, Apr 01, 2015 8:00am

memory loss ahead

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 →

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Miracles for Aging Hair and Skin

15 Written by: | Wednesday, Mar 04, 2015 8:00am

The X Factor's Ben Mills Has Hair Cut By Nicky Clarke

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 →

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