Categories
Personal Essays

Halloween Angst

old-jack-o-lantern-832x468It’s Halloween, and I’m starting to stress all over again. Last year you might remember I had to contend with my neighbor’s “Look at me I’m so cool” décor, which ultimately made me want to move to another neighborhood. And now I’m going to come clean about the rest of the Halloween issues that trick me every year.

Okay, let’s start with the candy issue. Did you know that $7.9 billion is spent on Halloween every year? I’d love to see the breakdown of how much of that is for candy. Speaking of which, let me tell you about my candy issues. Every single year I say I’m going to buy candy I don’t like so I don’t eat it. Yep, every single GD year. And each and every year I buy Reese’s Cups, which as you may have guessed, is my favorite packaged candy. (Unless of course I’m at the movies, where it’s Butterfingers Bite-Size. That always puts me in a bad mood because they only put about eight pieces in a box that looks like it holds twenty, and I realize they’ve once again played me for the fool I surely am. But I digress.)

So I buy the Reese’s Cups, and sure enough, I usually have to go back and buy them again because I’ve eaten them days before the big event. Really Christine? You are a grown up, you say? Seriously?

Then, on the night in question, I realize I don’t want to pass out candy to kids in the neighborhood, so I plot how I can look like I’m not home. This is not a joke. I actually turn out all my lights and test my visibility by putting my iPad down and going outside to see if the light shows at all from the street. Once I’m satisfied that it doesn’t, I huddle in my darkened home sweet home, with an elevated heart rate and tremendous guilt over my un-American attitude toward a holiday that really is a lot of fun for those who partake in it. “Why don’t you just put the candy out on a large bowl on the front stoop?” I hear you ask. F you and the sane horse you rode in on. I don’t know why I don’t. I think it’s because I think people in the neighborhood will call me unfriendly. Now, keep in mind I have lived in my house for five years and never once spoken to a neighbor or even waved pleasantly when driving by, so I think they already know I’m unfriendly.

I’m done. This is why I have such trouble with Halloween, and I swear this year I’m not buying one bag of anything. I’m going to go out to dinner and a movie rather than huddle like a criminal in the shadows of my own house.

So, happy All Soul’s to you all. Bah Halloween Humbug.

Categories
Personal Essays Travel

My Uber Rating Obsession

2016-09-26-04-26-39I didn’t even know Uber drivers rate their clients until I was told by my daughter, Sarah (about whom I am not allowed to blog). I’m not sure how it came up, but I was intrigued. She put her fiancé on the phone and he walked me through the process of finding out what my rating is.

“Oh, I see it now,” I said when I finally understood. “My rating is 3.68. Is that good?”

Pause. The kind of long pause that tells you your soon-to-be son-in-law is trying to make sure he doesn’t alienate you before he and his bride even walk down the aisle. Or maybe he was in shock because I’m the nicest person he knows and he couldn’t believe I had a rating of 3.68. I choose the latter of the two.

“Well, no actually, it’s not great. It’s out of 5, and I haven’t heard of one that low, to be honest.”

That was a few months ago, and since that time I have become obsessed. Obsessed, I tell you.

I check my rating after each and every time I take an Uber, which can be five or six times a day when I’m in New York City. And still, it stays the same. Okay, it went up one tenth of a point, but that just doesn’t seem fair to me. I am a great Uber rider. Seriously.

Here is the thing: I often take Uber from the Upper West Side to Downtown. They always want to weave over to the West Side Highway and go down that way and then weave back on over to the Sixth Avenue cross street that I might be going to. Not a good plan in my book. Or, if I’m heading to the east side, they want to go down to Columbus Circle to go over to 57th and Third, while I prefer to go through Central Park at 65th Street and head over that way.

Did you see Broadcast News? Holly Hunter has just had her heart broken and she gets in the car and tells the cab driver how to get to where she is headed and then goes back to crying. When I saw the film I totally understood that moment, while my friends all wondered, “Who would do that?” I’m a New Yorker, and I know how to maneuver through traffic, and politely suggesting the route I would like to take seems to be well within the bounds of good ridership. As is politely asking them to turn off the radio while I think during the ride. And politely asking them to hang up the phone so as not to endanger our lives while I’m in the car seems reasonable to me. So why don’t they like me?

Shonda Rhimes taught me in her book, The Year of Yes, not to care what anyone thinks. The total absurdity of this entire thing is that I have really stopped caring so much what friends and family think, and I do focus more and more on what I think. But when it comes to Uber, I have set in motion some really crazy shit to try to improve my rating. Is it because I don’t like having a D– in Uber ridership?

Here are just a few of the things I now do when I’m in an Uber:
· I now bring treats and offer them to the driver. Yep. Treats. Water bottles and the like.
· I ask them how their day is going. Now, I do hope they don’t really want to chat with me, but if they do,     I am better than Oprah at helping them through their day.
· I was giving them all great ratings and comments, even if they didn’t deserve them, until I found out         they can’t see what I do, so now I’m not doing that. I am relieved to be able to go back to being             authentic.
· I wish them a happy life when I’m getting out of the car, each and every time.

I write this in hopes of going back to the old me who was always trying to help the Uber driver get me where I’m going swiftly, efficiently, and safely. Yep, intention matters, and I’m leaving my rating behind. I’m not going to look at it ever again. And I’m losing the treats, which mostly I was eating myself anyway.

Categories
Personal Essays Politics

Lost Friendship

I always knew she believed those things that she never said. There were signs. There imgreswas a dinner party for twelve at my apartment with H2 (husband #2) in the mid eighties and AIDS was just becoming a topic of dinner party talk. The left wing international set around our table were all talking about the horror of it, and about the long-term possibility of the annihilation of those we love. You have to have been a thirty-something during that time to understand the enormity of it, and the terror and sadness it left in its wake.

We were all getting up to go to the living room, and there was a moment of relative quiet, and my old roommate and friend said, “Well the gays are getting what they deserve. It’s their punishment for being gay.”

Silence. Everywhere. Everyone. Silence.

H2 looked over at me as if to ask, “Your friend? Are you going to take care of this?”

I was born in 1953, and as a girl I had “the disease to please”; that is, I was taught never to be confrontational. I said, “I’m sure you don’t mean that. Freshly squeezed orange juice and chocolates await us all in the living room.” I really don’t know if that is what I said. The truth is, I’m not sure I ever said anything to her about what she said. But I didn’t see her for a number of years after she said it.

History matters. And we had a long history. We were roommates in the 70s, and there were signs of her bigotry then too, but I ignored them.

Then Obama was elected president. My friend and her sister came once a year to stay with me, and the tension was palpable last year. One night after she’d had a few, her sister explained to me that Obama was personally buying all the ammunition in the country so that those who wanted guns—who had to right to them—would have no bullets to use.

“Where did you hear that?” I said. “I need to call you on this one. You cannot believe that what you’re saying is true.”

“I heard it on the radio. I don’t remember which program, but I know it’s true.”

It got heated, and I went to bed angry and sad and regretful. Regretful, you ask? I was upset at what the harsh words we’d spoken to each other that night might do the equilibrium of our forty-year friendship.

Over the last few years it’s become harder and harder to resolve the disquiet I feel around her, and I’m sure the same was true for her. To be fair, I’m sure she would say I was too strident in my point of view. Too “loud.” I’ll own that. And, I will try harder to be softer in my debate. But, I don’t compare it in my mind to those pretending to be a God-believing Catholics who really abhor people of color … and don’t even start with those who need a leg up from the government.

But it wasn’t just her. Pressure from family prevails. “Don’t rock the boat by having the conversation at family events,” says everyone except me. To me, it’s like living with a Stepford Wife mentality—there is an elephant in the room that no one is addressing. And the scary part is that the elephant isn’t just sitting there taking up space like Uncle Fred’s drinking; the elephant is stomping on everything that made the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance my favorite part of the day in elementary school. And I keep waking up in the night (literally) with images of Germany in the 30s, when everyone was saying the same thing: “No one will let these people come to power.” Well, how did that work out in the end?

I can still laugh and listen to fabulous stories. I still love movies and television and books and my amazing daughter and her brave, fabulous life. It’s not that I want to stand on a corner only talking about politics and what has happened to our nation. That’s not it at all. But I don’t want to avoid all conversation about what is happening to the country I love so much.

So, that’s it. My friend and I are no longer friends, and actually, I think I can live with it. I can hope that one day we will meet again and maybe have our first honest conversation about what we really think about each other. Maybe not. Either way, I know that in this moment, in this country that I care so much about, it is not the time to sit back and be silent.

Categories
Food Personal Essays Relationships

The Opinion of Strangers

We are funny ducks, we human beings.

We play games, thinking we are fooling the world. But the world couldn’t care less, and doesn’t even notice the lengths we go to in order to appear the way we wish we were but aren’t.

Examples abound:

imgresI love Maltesers—those malted milk balls from England that melt in your mouth (don’t judge me). My cousin Louise, who is British, loves them as much as I do. When she goes home, she brings back boxes of them and shares with me. The key is making sure I see her soon after her return—if too much time passes, she will have eaten them all. Anyway, if you can believe it, the local movie theater started carrying them a few months ago. Small bags of them. Oh happy day!

So now when I want them, I go see a movie. Sometimes it’s a movie I don’t wish to see, but if I want the Maltesers, I have to see a movie. Now, I could visit the candy counter without purchasing a ticket—it’s just inside the door before the ticket taker’s booth—but then the candy counter person would see me enter, buy the candy, and then leave. What would they think of me? On the other hand, no one serving me has ever actually looked at me when I’m ordering, so maybe they wouldn’t think anything at all.

So I see a movie I might not otherwise see, just so I can have my Maltesers. Now, I’m a smart girl, but this is not a smart strategy. If the bag has twenty pieces in it, that’s a lot. And the $6.00 cost of the bag has to be added to the $9.00 cost of the ticket, which means I’m eating a candy that takes ten seconds to chew and swallow at a cost of 75¢ per piece. Seriously?

Then there is the take-out Japanese place near my home, from which I order at least once every week. I don’t order a lot; usually one order of salmon don and miso eggplant. But when I go there to pick it up, every week they ask if I want one or two sets of chopsticks. I always say two.

I love living alone. I live alone by choice—I haven’t found that perfect person who raises me up so I can stand on mountains—and my own company actually pleases me. So why do I want them to think there is another person at my house waiting to eat half of a meal that really only serves one? I don’t know, but I do. I have a drawer full of leftover chopsticks to remind me of my silliness.

The truth is that the opinions of strangers matter to some of us, and the absurdity of it all changes nothing. Note to self: If I want Maltesers, just go into the theater and buy them.

Categories
Personal Essays

Saying What We Mean

2016-05-08 20.39.56I saw this picture on Lena Dunham’s Instagram recently. Her comment: “Thank you to the woman who taught me how to say both Thank You and Fuck You.” I copied it. Thought about it. A lot.

Here is the thing: I have spent much of my life saying both. At the same time. To the same person. When I should have just said “Fuck You.” Let’s take a look and see who’s with me.

“I’m really sorry, but you were rude and it hurt my feelings.” Right. They were rude and hurt my feelings, but being the nurturing soul that I am, I feel the need to begin my chastisement with an apology. Come on; you know you do it.

“I hope you don’t mind if I tell you I don’t agree.” God, save us from ourselves. Why should I care if they mind? Only the female gender begins sentences like this. It’s the same as when women in meetings preface ideas or comments with, “I’m sure this is silly,” or “I’m sure you’ve already covered this, but” … when someone does that with me in business. I stop them and say, “Please start your comment again without the self-deprecating, self-demeaning intro that has already made what you are about to say next ridiculous.” I say this even to clients, and I usually point out that only women start comments that way.

“I’m really angry with you, but don’t worry; I will be fine about it later.” So, they did something ‘not so much’ and while I take the time to actually tell them, I reassure them there is not real permanent damage. The problem with that approach is that it often does to irreparable damage. Trust is often gone and open dialog no more.

So, I love that someone taught Lena Dunham to be both a tough girl and a grateful girl. And I don’t think she meant that she says both phrases in the same breath to the same person, but for me her comment provided an a-ha moment, for which I’m grateful. So many lessons from that fabulous Girls creator. Love the show. Love the difficulty I have watching it. Thank you, Lena Dunham—and without a Fuck You at the end of it.

Categories
Movies & TV Personal Essays

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.”

Huh?

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.

Categories
Personal Essays

Who are You?

images-2In 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, back and breast strokes). It’s six thirty p.m. and very dark outside. I am standing waiting for my mom to pick me up. Everyone comes and goes, and then I’m the only one left. They lock the building and I’m standing there, with wet hair, freezing. And, I wait. I have no coins for the pay phone; cell phones aren’t even an idea in some smart person’s head yet.

I’m not sure how long I wait. But in the end, I start walking and trudge home with frozen hair crackling and tears running down my face. Maybe it’s a mile. I would like to say it was five miles, but that would be a lie, so we’ll say a mile.

Here is what I realized. There were alternatives. Walk up to a house on the way home and ask to use their phone? Jeffrey Dahmer was not on anyone’s radar back then. Stop a car and ask for a ride? Wait? Eventually, with my big mouth missing from our family dynamic, someone would have realized I wasn’t there, right? But I chose walking myself home. I don’t remember weighing any alternatives. Mom not there. I’m freezing. Walk home. Would others weigh the alternatives and then decide which was the best course for them in that moment? These are questions that keep me up at night.

Basically nothing’s changed. I live alone contentedly. Run my own company. Very independent. Rarely ask for help, not because I’m the martyr type, but rather, it just never occurs to me. I sort of like that about me. Let me tell you what I didn’t like way back then. When I arrived home that night fifty years ago, no one thought it was such a big deal. “Oh sorry, we forgot.”

Categories
Personal Essays

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 point: Here is a picture of my neighbors’ Halloween decorations:

And just in case you’re not properly impressed, here is what hung from the tree to the right of this family gathering:

Now let’s look at my Halloween decoration (yep, that would be singular, not plural).

And I can’t even take credit for the face. I bought it already cut out for only an additional $15.

Here is the thing—at first, I clapped my hands with glee when I saw said neighbor’s Wizard of Oz decor. I can appreciate fabulous creativity as well as the next person. But then people started driving onto my property to park and take pictures, and I started to get irritated. Friends commented on the difference between my Jack O’ Lantern and the neighbors’ production. Over and over again I came home, drove past their house, and felt the giant chasm between them and me. But in the end I let it go. I gave it up for their brilliance, deciding that Halloween must be their favorite holiday, and I can live with it for one month a year. I even stopped by to tell them how cool the entire thing was. Really, I did. And I meant it. Oprah has taught me nothing if not to be authentic.

But upon reflection, that’s all bull. I believe I need to move somewhere else where I fit in better. Agreed?

Categories
Personal Essays

Lobsters and Me

imagesAs 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 like the sandwich better than the at-the-table-dripping-in-butter part?”

***

My aunt and often I tackle major issues on the phone, but this conversation really led to some deep lobster consideration, which then led me to the realization that I’m lobster confused.

Can we talk about lobsters honestly? I want to like eating lobster, and I love the idea of eating lobsters, drenched in butter on a picnic table outside, with a perfect setting sun in the sky, a slight chill in the air, and not a bug to be seen. But the truth is, the best part of the entire thing is not the meat itself, but the breaking of the shells and the hammering of something at a dinner table. Only with lobsters can you do that and not be considered barbaric. So, do I like the taste of lobster, or the lobster process?

Then there is the lobster trading. I’m a great lobster partner. I really only like the claws, and a trade of the tail for a claw (or sometimes two claws if I negotiate well) usually makes me the most popular person at the table. But I’m not even sure that I do like the claws better than the tail. Maybe I just like to be the most popular person at the table, with the tail as a commodity to trade to the highest claw bidder. Or maybe I just like the more complicated process of getting the meat out of the claws better than I like the cut-and-pull-out-process of the tail extraction. It’s so confusing.

Then there is the butter thing. To be honest, I don’t like the look or the feel of melted butter. It’s actually gross. Butter dripping on your chin? Not pretty. Seriously.

Maybe I love the memories of going with Aunt Molly to check her lobster pots in Maine and Manchester and never knowing what would be in the pots when we pulled them up? Maybe sitting outside eating the suckers takes me back to my teen years, which were certainly less complicated for me than my adult life turned out to be. No cell phone on our little boat, which had a hand-maneuvered outboard motor on the back of it. Those were easy times. So maybe that is why I pretend to like lobster.

Enough about the lobster. I get it. But when you realize that you don’t know if you really like something you always thought you liked, it’s fair to put it out there for consideration. For those of you who thought you were sure about lobsters, and now have to explore the actuality of it … sorry. Sort of.

Categories
Personal Essays

My Friend Lorie

imgres-2May 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 when we lost touch, but we always reconnected, and as the decades pass, our connection grows stronger without any expectation from either of us about how the other needs to behave. I have nothing to offer her, nor she me, other than the fact that she knows me, and I her, in a way that others don’t. I can show my worst self, and she will always end the conversation with, “Love you Weenie,” which was her college name for everyone.

I graduated high school in 1971, from Bloomfield Hills Andover High School, in the tony town of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and spent the next year after in St. Maarten, where my father was building a resort with the likes of Henry Ford, Gus Levy, and Billy Solomon. I played the role of Julie of the Love Boat, running bingo games that I rigged, and picking up people like Arthur Ashe or Senator Pete Williams from the airport. In 1972 I enrolled at the University of Nebraska, partly because the chairman of the board of my dad’s company was chairman of Banker’s Life of Nebraska and could fly me home for the holidays on his private jet. And also because it had the number one football team and I was all about cheerleading. It all made perfect sense.

I flew to New York City to get ready for school, and my stepmother took me to Bloomingdales, where I bought fabulous skirts, loafers, and red wool pants with white cashmere sweaters; these were the University colors, and I chose them so I would fit in. We bought lovely towels and sheets too, and two huge suitcases later, I was at their apartment in New York and they flew back to St. Maarten, leaving me with a one-way ticket to Nebraska ten days later. What to do in New York was the question, and I decided that I would get a bus ticket to Nebraska. It would take fifty-something hours to get there, but I would still arrive early enough to learn the lay of the land. Good plan.

I remember the bus ride west, through Cleveland and Iowa. I read a bunch of books and looked out the window a lot. The thing is, I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t anything, really. I was just going to the next part of my life. A new place.

I stayed at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln until I could move into my dorm, Pound Hall, where I was the first to arrive with my two big suitcases filled with the clothes we’d purchased, the new linens with tags still on them, and some books I’d bought along the way. I was sitting on the bed waiting to meet my roommate when Lorie bounced into the room. She was a tiny person, maybe four inches shorter than me. Bell-bottom jeans and a tee shirt that had a big N on it. I was in an oxford shirt and tailored pants, and I must have looked like the librarian or something. She told me later that she had been excited to meet the girl from St. Maarten, which she had to look up, having never heard of it before. I thought I looked fine, but maybe she knew better.

Big hello. Big hello. A few questions from her and two shakes later we were in her little Volkswagen bug headed to the university book store store to get me some jeans and tee shirts. I never wore the clothes I’d bought at Bloomingdales.

While everyone was arriving with their families, she instantly became mine. She was the Floor SA (student assistant), and she was responsible for me, but we became responsible for each other. We never hung out together except for in our rooms. She lived in the dorms to save money, and I moved on to football games and rich sorority life. When she got married four years later, I wore that ugly pink dress that the other bridesmaids’ mothers had made for them—but I had mine done by a seamstress who made it look like couture. And, might I add, we had these ridiculous turbans made out of the dress material that served no other purpose than pushing in my ears that did stick out back then.

She moved to Japan with her Navy flier husband, John, and I moved to New York City, where I married an investment banker and lived a life of global travel and movers-and-shaker dinners where the conversations turned into front-page news. She brought her kids to visit me in New York, one at a time, year after year, and her middle daughter, Sabrina, became one of ‘my’ kids—and I moved her into NYU the way her mom had moved me into the University of Nebraska twenty-five years earlier.

I drove my daughter to see UNL the summer of her junior year on the same roads I had taken on that Greyhound bus so many years before. I wanted her to see the fields of our country, the endless cornfields that feed a nation, and to realize as I did that this country has all kinds of people and they each have a culture all their own, and that friendship is based on an animal instinct—a fit if you will, like that first pair of jeans in which you know you are your best self when you put them on, and not necessarily geography or common interest. We went to Alliance Nebraska to see Lorie after seeing the Nebraska, and her private school New York City foundation was enriched. She went to Princeton and then Harvard Law, but just ask her about the trip. She will tell you…

Lorie makes me my best self. She believes in God enough for the both of us, and when I had my hip replaced last summer, she was on her knees in church while I was under the knife on the table. When she had a health scare this year, I set her up with a wellness essential oils person to try another way because I’m all about God helping those that help themselves. Lorie is the one who tells me on the phone that I am a great writer, and she says it has nothing to do with her love of me. I don’t believe her, but I need to hear her say it. I tell her her husband John’s point of view on things like family because his background is more like mine, and I know how alien a person without roots can feel. She has no malice toward anyone, and I do. Politics? I think she’s uninformed and she thinks I’m a radical. Or maybe not. We steer clear of it mostly. We have nothing in common other than our love for each other, which is everything.

So, if you met us and spoke to us, you might not get it, but no matter—we do. She is my first call when I have done something terrible or something great. I know when she is lying about how she is feeling, and I understand the choices she has made and the roads she has travelled—and vice versa. So we are friends forever, never lacking things to discuss, and never discussing anything that makes a difference to anything.

Oprah has her Gayle, and I am lucky that I have my Lorie, who loves me just the way I am and believed in me when no one else did, and liked me when I didn’t like myself. Ode to Lorie. Fabulous friend. Midwest marvel. Committed Catholic. I love Lorie. I am so grateful for that journey back in 1972 that brought me to one of the rocks of my foundation. My you all have a Lorie in your life.