Saturday, December 22, 2012


     Today I lost my beloved curmudgeon of a father-in-law, Harold Newton Barr.  He was as honest and decent a man as I have ever been fortunate enough to know.

He didn't make it to his 92nd birthday next March, but he did make it to his 64th wedding anniversary on Dec. 19th. My son was driving back home from D.C. that day so he stopped to have lunch with his grandparents in Baltimore and made them very happy.
     Hal grew up in Brooklyn with his parents and older brother. He served in World War II, then attended Alfred University and studied ceramics engineering.  Back home after graduating, he met Barbara Weiner at a skating rink, and they married in 1948 and moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where Barbara taught school and Hal worked on the secret government research project.  They lived briefly in Chicago, where Alan was born; then in New Jersey, where Rick was born; then, by 1957 or so, settled in Baltimore, where Fred was born and where they stayed to this day.  They worked, raised their boys, and developed a network of close friends with whom they took vacations and celebrated holidays.  When the boys were in their late teens, Hal and Barbara began leaving them home and traveling internationally, and they didn't stop visiting other countries until they were in their 80's.
     Hal and Barbara traveled with my family a lot too, within the U.S.  We shared trips to Florida, Maine, West Virginia, Lake Tahoe, and Oregon,  as well as many other places.  Hal was a wonderful photographer, and preserved a lot of our family adventures on film.  I think many of my kids' best childhood memories stem from those trips.  Hal loved gadgets of all kinds, and in his later years, when he couldn't get out much, he got great pleasure from the ipad his kids and grandkids gave him.

     Hal collapsed suddenly this morning at home and stopped breathing.  No lengthy suffering, no dreaded move to a nursing home, no loss of mental acuity.  He's been a huge part of my life for the past 20 years, and now so much has changed.  My husband, the most devoted son I have ever seen, has lost his dad.  My kids have lost their grandpa - and, make no mistake, he was Nate's grandpa, not his step-grandpa, right from Day One. 

And I've lost one of my best champions.  As cranky and temperamental as Hal could be, he never left any doubt as to how much he loved all of us.  I hope we all did the same for him.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Something to Celebrate

     It's December 19th, my one-year blogiversary!  Time to stop and reflect on what this blog has meant to me over the past year.  More than anything, it has given me a home for my thoughts - a home that others can visit whenever it suits them to.  It has led me to new friends whom I have never met in person but still feel that I know so well.  It has taught me that all writers start from the same place.  Some are younger when they start, some older; some achieve success early, some never achieve it at all; but we're all born with a little person inside, someone different from our everyday selves, who very soon starts screaming to be let out, to be heard.  This blog has been my place to let my inner little-person out to yell and bluster and jump up and down and say some things that I believe needed to be said.  Many times over the past year, this blog has made it possible for me to keep on with my writing without sinking into months-long periods of despair over the pointlessness of my efforts.  And, too, this blog has brought me out of myself, given me the courage to reach out and contact authors I admire and ask them for interviews.  Not once have I gotten no for an answer.  I have gotten encouragement and honest, thoughtful responses to my questions.
     This blog has given me a place to grow and change.  In other words: a place to live.  Thank you, readers, official followers, unofficial followers, interviewees, comment-leavers, fellow writers, and everyone else who has helped me get to this point, thrilled to be starting my second year here.  You are all awesomely awesome, and I am awesomely grateful.  Please stick with me!  I have a feeling that the best is yet to come!  Happy winter solstice holidays, and happy New Year.  May it bring peace and love to where they're most needed.
     (Can you open this picture? If you can't: in honor of Nelson Mandela and whatever time he may still have with us, these are the South African doves of peace, and the logo reads: "Peace Is In Our Hands.")

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GOD, GUTS & GUNS - revisited

I was jusr reminded today of a post of mine from this past July, and I thought it was worth reposting:  Thanks for listening.

Monday, December 10, 2012


     My mom turned 90 on December 3d. I threw a party for her yesterday. Here's what she and I looked like:

Go ahead, say it. We look old. She perhaps slightly more so than me, but neither of us exactly in our prime. And, in fact, a close-up photo of the back of my head would have revealed that I was wearing my newly-acquired hearing aids. How's that for decrepitude? On Saturday I will turn 57. And yet, when I type that number, it feels like I'm lying. Whenever I read in a newspaper article that the subject is 57, my immediate reaction is: "Wow. Old." I have to stop and remind myself: Yo. That's you, honey.
     Here's the thing: there are so many of me inside my head. The little girl who believed that witches resided inside the toilet and emerged when someone flushed, so in order to defend myself I would wash my hands, open the bathroom door, stand poised like a sprinter on the starter's block, then flush at hyperspeed and run like hell.  The 8-year-old who dreamt at night of marrying the 19-year-old Paul McCartney.  The tween who attended the Zionist summer camp where we sang the Israeli national anthem at line-up each morning.  The high-schooler who tied my skate laces together over my shoulder to take the subway to the rink at Rockefeller Center.  The incredibly sheltered college student who developed a crush on my classmate, Domingo Nieves, eight years older than me and back from serving as a medic in Vietnam.
     We're all in here, all the people I've been. The young lawyer who spent her Saturday nights sitting in the back of comedy clubs, chatting with the other wives and girlfriends of the comics.  The me who used to act in community theater.  The me who worked as a stringer for my local paper.  The me who was a single mother of a two-year-old son, spending weekends touring all the local firehouses so he could sit in the cabs of the trucks and wear the hats that swallowed up his head and the yellow coats that came down to his ankles.  The me who represented a client on appeal who had been sentenced to the death penalty.
     All of those me's and their moments on the stage are gone.  But still... I feel so sure that there are many more me's still to come, so much to look forward to, so many bitter and sweet experiences from which to learn.  So I don't feel old at all, really.  And maybe, if I'm very fortunate, I never will.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


     Great news from Kami Kinard, fabulous blogger, nerdy chick extraordinaire, and author of humorous middle-grade novel THE BOY PROJECT. Of course, we all know Kami from my posts about her, Parts I (the interview) and II (my musings), as a result of which we all ran out and bought, read, and loved TBP, right?  Of course right!  Well, Kami wants us all to know that she has just signed a contract for her second book, a companion to TBP.  Read all about it here!  And then let Kami know on her blog that you can't wait to read about the further adventures of Kara McAllister, her best friend Tabbi, and those confusing, exasperating creatures known as BOYS!  Say it with me now: NERDY CHICKS RULE!!