Shonda Rhimes & My Sister

003ap111112147082_193432I have been reading Shonda Rhimes’ new book, Year of Yes. You know Shonda Rhimes, the creator and writer of the great Grey’s Anatomy. Great book. Game changing book. Merely one chapter into it, I realized that my sister Leslie is Shonda’s twin sister.

We moved a lot while I was growing up. Fifteen times by the time I was sixteen, or sixteen times by the time I was fifteen; who can remember? I was in sixth grade when we moved to Cleveland in the middle of the school year, and Leslie was in the first grade. A few weeks into our enrollment at the new school, Leslie’s teacher came up to me in the hall close to tears and said, “I was so sorry to hear about your brother.”

I didn’t have a brother. Actually I did, but I didn’t know I had him until I was sixty and my mom was dying, and it came out then. Another story for another time. But when I was in the sixth grade, I did not have a brother.

“Thank you,” I said, not knowing what else to say. “That’s okay, really.”

“And to have him eaten by a lion at the zoo. I can understand why your mom needed to move you all right away.”


I went home and told my mom. She called Leslie in and asked her why she’d told her class she had a brother who got eaten by a lion at the zoo. I can remember the scene like it was yesterday.

“Because it was show and tell and I didn’t have anything and everyone had really cool things to tell so I made it up. It was the best story at show and tell.”

Alrighty then.

Fast forward to Shonda’s book, in which she says she is a great storyteller, and that whether her stories are true or not is no matter. She wrote that when she was in the second grade she told everyone in her class that her family were spies from the Soviet Union, and that if they told anyone, she could be killed by the American government. She said the next thing she knew, she was on her knees with the nuns doing yet another set of Hail Marys.

OH MY GOD! My sister is Shonda’s twin. She has the same genius creative mind, and she knows how to weave a tale. But while Shonda’s family celebrated such creativity, I can assure you mine did not.

I called up my sister, totally excited. My sister works for a big-deal Fortune 100 company, and her sense of humor is not usually on display on a Friday morning at 10:00 a.m.

“Oh my GOD! Do you know who Shonda Rhimes is?”

“No, what do you want?”

“She is the creator, director, and writer of Grey’s Anatomy for God’s sake! AND How to Get Away with Murder AND Scandal! Jesus, where have you been?”

“What do you want?”

“You are her twin sister.”

“What do you want?”

I told her the story about the lion eating our sad younger brother (may he rest in peace) when she was six, and she remembered it. Then I told her about Shonda’s similar story, and that clearly the two of them are soul sisters. She said she will read the book. I’m really hoping she does.

Here is the thing. I love that Shonda Rhimes embraces her talent for embellishment, and that she saw even way back when what it could mean to her. Being yourself and embracing what makes you you is not always easy. I made my sister promise to read the book, which I doubt she will, and I hung up knowing with clarity that legitimizing who you are as a person with the honest tales of our history, including brothers eaten by tigers and the time I blamed the missing cookies in Leslie when she wasn’t anywhere near them, is a part of celebrating it all. Humans. Fabulously creative. Fabulously flawed. With secret twins all around.

So here’s to the creative kids and their imaginations, and what they bring to storytelling. And here’s to my sister, who is very special unless I’m mad at her.

Reality T.V. Comes to Politics

Everyone’s talking about it. How did Trump defeat a lineup of seasoned politicians and emerge as the frontrunner, the close-to-certain presidential nominee for the Republican Party of the United States of America? Really? Seriously?

Pundits are saying that a disenfranchised group of Americans is receptive to Trump’s message, which seems to be that America isn’t great, but it will become great if we get rid of much of our nation including immigrants and

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The Donald, Facebook, and Producing the News

Santana or the Donald? We the people decide which we will have, not by our vote, but through our Facebook posts.

I have an old friend I haven’t seen in twenty years whom I follow on Facebook. Upper West Side of Manhattan guy who is passionate about right and wrong and politics, and those who have “friended” him on Facebook generally agree with his point of view—or if they do not, they do not challenge

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In the Name of…Taking Responsibility for Our Decisions

Just the other day I was asked to consider joining the board of directors of a non-profit that is doing amazing work keeping women from being trafficked in Third-World countries. Here was my response to their e-mail: “I have promised my team that I will not sit on any new boards. I am spread way too thin, but if it were up to me…”

And, then a few days later someone wanted to get together

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Who are You?

In my day job, I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently about personality styles and response traits. What makes one person respond one way and another a different way? Same circumstances. Different responses.

So, of course, I started to think about me and how I respond to things. A memory comes to me. I’m in the sixth grade and I’m eleven. It’s winter. I finished swim practice (Lake Erie Pepsi Cola Swim Team; freestyle,

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Halloween Decorations


I have to move. I have come to realize over the past few years that you must surround yourself with people who elevate you, who make you feel good about yourself, your accomplishments, and your potential. This doesn’t mean you should never be challenged by friends, co-workers, and acquaintances who may outshine you; but the distance between you cannot be akin to the miles between the sun and the moon.

But I’ll come to the

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Lobsters and Me

As is our phone custom, my beloved Aunt Molly and I were catching up on nothing important, when her doorbell rang and her neighbor dropped off two lobsters, fresh off the boat.

“Two lobsters?” I said. “Are you having someone for dinner?”

“No,” she replied. “I’ll cook them both, eat one of them tonight, and then the other tomorrow.”

“In a sandwich?”

“Yes, that is the best part. Lobster sandwich.”

“Really?” I said. “So you

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My Friend Lorie

May I take a moment to tell you about my friend Lorie? She has known me a very long time. Since college. Neither of us has done anything remarkable really. She stayed in Nebraska after college and I came east, so I guess the most remarkable thing about us is that we have stayed friends all these years—best friends, really—without having much in common in our day-to-day lives, beliefs, or interests. Oh, there were years

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Donald Trump's Fifteen Minutes of Fame

I am so sad about our country and the discourse around the presidential election coming before us in a short year and a few months. These are serious times, and all I see in the media is that which is beneath the discourse I’m hoping to hear.

So, of course, in my typical fashion, I go to the screen.

Here is the fabulous speech for The American President, written by the great Aaron Sorkin, and

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Those who know me well know that I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for a long time. If I were allowed to blog about fabulous daughter Sarah, I would say that she made it very clear that if I got a tattoo my motherhood status would sink to zero. Since I never wanted her to dye her hair and she hasn’t, I have steered away from the parlors that beckon.

When asked what I want

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