18274984_10155079776312605_2034959647936000744_nToday my sister Leslie is having an operation and I will be sitting in the waiting room contemplating my navel while the surgeons fix what has been broken for a long time.

We were not a close family, that band of five that moved fifteen times to ten states by the time I was sixteen. Actually, much of the time, we didn’t even like each other. Our fights were big, lacking only in physicality. We wouldn’t speak for years sometimes, one or another of us. Then, five short years ago, we started to diminish. First it was my mom, who died of lung cancer, and went out with more dignity and humor and calm than I would have mustered. I liked her a lot in the end. Then it was my dad, of a disease we didn’t know he even had until we read it on his death certificate. And then, less than a year ago, my older sister left—ostensibly by cancer, but really, she was an alcoholic who everyone pretended wasn’t. The carnage she left behind was also swept under the rug of her power in the family. I’m told there is always one in a family who has that power to affect all others. It was her. The secrets of our family—there were so many—are not worth keeping anymore because they were all due to very human flaws and so why bother?

After our older sister died last year, I sent my sister Leslie an email that read “#AndThenThereWereTwo.”

It woke me with a start.

It took away all the anger of deeds done wrong both by me and to me. It put all of our goodness—our happiness—into the two of us, and somehow, I guess because diminished inventory means you treat what is left with much more care, all the things that used to drive me crazy, no longer do.

It’s like all the good from the original five became part of the two of us. And, all the bad things went somewhere else.

We started having brunch on Sundays and reminiscing about things. She is more kind than I when it comes to the deeds gone wrong, but I’m more honest about not pushing them under the rug and trying to see them for what they were so they no longer have power over us. Our combination could rule a nation. OK, that’s an exaggeration but you get the point.

I told her that when we moved to a house with enough bedrooms for us to no longer share, she was scared and I moved back into a bedroom with her. No matter, within a few months, we moved to the next place and then the separation began in earnest. I told her that she was the kindest of kids, befriending the elderly couple next door, who stayed alive just to see her face at the door each day. She was my mother’s favorite (and BFF), while my dad favored me, and now that they are both gone, each of us has answers to questions from the other that didn’t get asked during our parents’ lifetime. I really like her. I see her more clearly. I see myself and the dynamic of the band of five more clearly.

I look forward to driving to pick her up more than anything else I do in a week—and, I do some cool things.

I put this out to my readers because of the lessons learned. Maybe you can see and adjust your focus before you are reduced to two. With all the anger gone, I can see the loss as well: The times I could have called but just didn’t want to. The questions I didn’t ask. I wish I’d asked my dad more about his pitching days. What was it like to pitch a fast ball? I have seen the contract offered to him by the Boston Braves, which he turned down to go to Dun & Bradstreet, but I don’t know what it felt like on the mound. He once told me that he hated batting because back then, they tried to hit the pitcher on his pitching arm and it hurt like hell. “Hell” was a word he used a lot that I don’t hear anymore. I think I’m going to add it to my vernacular so I can keep him with me.

I know my sister will come through this day like a trouper. She is stronger than she knows and there is no way in hell that the hashtag #AndThenThereWereTwo is going anywhere for a long, long time.

The Benefit of Donald Trump

I have friends and family members who voted for Trump. Yes, I realize you are shocked, but it’s true. I have pondered this fact a lot over the past year, and I’ve figured out some things. My friends and family members who voted for Trump fall into three distinct categories:

Uneducated Self-serving Fed up

Meet the Uneducated.

When my Trump-supporting family members are asked why, they cite all kinds of reasons, not one of which

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Me & Harvey Weinstein

There were four ten-year-old girls playing in a field in Bosnia in the early nineties. A Serbian jeep pulled up with four soldiers in it. The soldiers got out of the jeep and called the girls to come over, in a strong soldier kind of way. Three of them stepped toward the men. Their obedience was immediate. It was a reaction to years – generations, actually – of men telling women to do something, and

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God Bless America ... I Think

I have had dark moments in my life – moments of true impotence, moments when I realized the future was beyond my control.

The day Nixon resigned, I was at a Catskills resort straight out of Dirty Dancing. They wheeled in a TV to a sea of left-wing New Yorkers who cheered with glee while I stood in the back of the room silently weeping, because I just couldn’t believe that a President of the

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Finish What You Start

I don’t finish things. No, seriously, I don’t finish things. I have never, and I mean this earnestly, even finished a cup of coffee. I like the idea of coffee, like I like the idea of writing books and things longer than 650 words, but I just don’t finish them. I have lived in my present house for five years and I still haven’t unpacked.

Don’t get me wrong. I finish things for others. Projects

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The Handmaid's Tale Book Review

I know someone who wrote my favorite book thus far this year (2016 and 2017!). It’s Abby Fabiaschi, and the book is I Liked My Life, which went into a publishing book war with four major houses bidding on it. Lucky her. Lucky me for getting to read a pre-published copy.

Moving right along.

We were speaking on the phone about some other matters, and we started talked about The Handmaid’s Tale, which is coming

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Paul Simon & Politics

I am a Paul Simon fan. Big-time. I’m not sure it’s reciprocated.

It went like this.

It was the late 80s. It was New York. And I had just moved into a beautiful building on Central Park West.

I was heading up the elevator with my brilliant five-year-old daughter. (If I were allowed to write about her, I would tell you just how brilliant she is.) The doors opened, and he got on.

Said 5yo

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Invader Got in By Hiding in the Grocery Bag

Invader in my house.

It was terrible. I’m not sure, but I think he got in through a grocery bag, hiding underneath the grapes, turmeric, coconut milk, fresh Atlantic salmon, and lemons. I had no idea. Swear. And, before I could call the police for help, he disappeared into the abyss that ends up on my thighs with nary a trace charting the roadways it took to get there. Evading the authorities yet again.


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It's Women's History Month and I’m Not Celebrating.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m oh so very proud of the hordes of women who have gone before me. My female ancestor who sailed over in Mayflower times with Thomas Hinckley (she probably thought he was nuts for making her come). My mother-in-law, who taught me that if you need to use the restroom at a friend’s house, you should go home because you have been there long enough. Gloria Steinem. Ruth Bader

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Marching is Good. Changing Our Own Behavior is Better.

Long, long ago, in a country now far, far away, a man of color took the stage at the Democratic Convention in the United States of America and rallied a nation around the notion that the United States of America is about all of us.

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino

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