Abandoned Houses

I’m fascinated by abandoned houses. Drive through the American countryside and you will see an abandoned house from time to time. Who just walks away from a house and lets it rot by the side of the road??? I sold a house, left it behind, and it almost crushed me, so I don’t understand how a person—or a family—can just leave a house and let it decay.

Don’t we love our houses? Aren’t they symbols of something greater than just a place to lay our heads? Where are the ones who lived there, loved there, and walked away?


Generals in Charge

I often want to start my ramblings with “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.” For instance: who thought that hiring a retired Colonel or General to run a business or government agency (other than the DOD) was a good idea?

Generals are used to being told “yes sir” and having their orders carried out. They know the chain of command is sacrosanct. Everyone they work with agrees to follow the same rules, which rarely happens outside the Armed Services. Especially not in an organization like the DC Public Schools. And certainly not in the Trump White House.

Just Be Kind

There is a lot of cruelty going on in the world today. We all read about it every day. Brown people verbally abused for being “other.” People on each side of the political divide screaming at the other, often saying things that aren’t true. Police shooting innocent people.

When Miriam was in second or third grade, there was a girl in school who really bothered her. She whined about it. A lot. I said to her, “You don’t have to be her friend, just be kind.”

America, I say to you, “You don’t have to be nice, just be civil.”

White Sheets

Growing up every bed in our house was covered by white sheets. The pillowcases had white covers. I was fascinated by people who had colored—or floral–sheets on their beds. I always assumed we only had white sheets because we were poor; I thought we couldn’t afford better sheets. Looking back, I’m not so sure that was true. (Maybe it was a lack of imagination.) When I had my own place I had to have floral sheets. Sheets any color but white.

Today, my daughter—who has excellent taste, by the way—thinks white sheets are the ultimate luxury.


Red Geraniums

When I was around nine-years-old I went to work with my father and spent most of the day in the switchboard room. Later, my mother sent a pot of red geraniums to the ladies at the switchboard to say, “thank you.” They meant nothing to me.

When I lived on Belmont Court, a friend bought geraniums every spring—sometimes red, sometimes pink—and kept them on her front steps. They meant nothing to me, particularly.

Today, I have a small pot of red geraniums on my deck. They remind me of Mom and Chris. They mean so much to me.


I’m not a Mom anymore. Not really. I don’t  have to fix meals, worried that if I don’t people will starve. I don’t do loads and loads of laundry all weekend. I don’t drive anyone anywhere. I don’t worry about what the school is doing. Or about homework. Or long-term adjustment. I hardly worry about anything with my kids anymore.

If you had told me 30 years ago, when I was in the thick of it, that I would miss those dirty diaper, snotty nose, sweet kisses days, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I do. I miss being Mom.


A Question for the Ages

“What have you done today to justify your existence?” I don’t think it was meant as a serious question, but it plagues me to this day.

My father would ask this question to his six children. I think he struggled to talk to us because he wasn’t sure of himself. His self-worth was so low that he didn’t think he had anything worthwhile to impart. Perhaps this was his way of trying to get to know us, to start a conversation, to ask what was going on in our lives. Whatever it was, I still ask myself this on occasion.

Why 100 Words (P.S. I crack myself up)

People ask me in surprise, “It has to be exactly 100 words?” Of course it does! That’s why it’s called “My Life in 100 Words.” Not 101. Or 98. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words. 100 words.

Exactly 100 words.

My mother would say…

My mother would say, “I love the Blacks.” As if she knew them all. As if they were all the same.

She was, certainly, a product of her upbringing. Born in 1913 in St. Louis, Missouri, I don’t think Mom met a black person until she was well into adulthood. As with Jews, she’d been told things about them and had no experience to disprove those things. Until she met Blacks and Jews, like her son-in-law and the ladies who took care of her.

I’m glad my experiences are broader and deeper than Mom’s. She was a great lady nonetheless.

The Perfect Metaphor

It’s the perfect metaphor for differing views on life. One is an extrovert; the other an introvert. The plants were put out on a beautiful sunny day, so they could get air and sunshine. They were on the little table on the balcony, cozied up to one another, leaves and fronds touching. The extrovert thinks plants are happy when they can brush against each other, friends gently patting one another.

The introvert moved them apart. “They don’t want to be that close, invading one another’s space. They need room to grow, breathe.”

Different experiences. Different outlooks. Different approaches. Introvert. Extrovert.