Lost and Found

My daughter lost her wallet yesterday.  She got on the city bus in front of our building, so she knew she had her wallet then, because she used her Metrocard (what we use in NYC to board public transportation) to get on the bus.  When she got to school, she went to get her ID, and realized the wallet was missing.  To belabor the point, she lost between getting on bus and getting to school.

When she realized she lost her wallet, she called me.  I could hear agony in her voice, it was low and as soon as she started to talk, she began to cry.  She didn’t understand how she could lose it.  When you’re an ultra responsible kid who has never lost anything other than a water bottle (which she does lose a lot for some reason) this was devastating.

And while I tried to console her, I knew that practicality had to come out.  “What was in your wallet?”  I knew she had a credit card and a debit card. I snapped my fingers to get my Husbands attention.  “Daughter lost her wallet.  Cancel the Visa, I’ll do the debit card.”  I got off the phone with my daughter, telling her she had to go to the main office and tell them she lost her school id.  Why I needed to explain to a reasonably smart person that someone could use her ID to enter the school fraudulently is beyond me.  She didn’t want to do this- she kept saying that someone would surely find her wallet.  I said it would be great if they did, but everything had to be canceled and places had to be notified that her ID might be compromised.  This went on by text way too long, till I told her it had to be done.

So my daughter was embarrassed to have lost her id.  I get that, but I also know that people are human and mistakes are made.  I also told her she could have been pickpocketed.  I wanted to race up the 52 blocks to her school and hug her, but a Mom can’t always be right there to physically comfort a child.  Sometimes the kid has to learn how to self sooth.

I then received a whole bunch of texts asking me to contact the MTA at 11 when the lost and found opened.  She was positive that her wallet would be found and turned in, all contents still inside.  She gave me the bus route, the time she got it- I’m surprised she didn’t have the driver and bus id.  Her optimism was impressive.  My pessimism was equally impressive.  I explained to her that the wallet was small, and would probably not be found.  Also, the Metropolitan Transport Association is not really known for its blazingly good customer service.  Just ask anyone who has been stuck on a train for 45 minutes.

At 11 I called.  After 25 minutes of trying to find the right department, it turned out I had to fill out an online form to document the loss.  Which I did.  Oh, the detail and general backasswardness of this report.   They asked for brand of wallet- they had no choice for piece of shit wallet she bought at TJ Maxx for 3.99. You have to list every item that was in the wallet.  Credit card.  Debit card. NYC Parks tennis pass.  School id.  Brandi Melville gift card.  American Eagle gift card.  Regular metrocard.  School issue metrocard.  Sticker from Brandi Melville.  (to tell you the truth- I was really impressed that she knew exactly what was in her wallet- not really surprised, but impressed none the less)  All this, when she wasn’t getting her wallet back.

Now of course, because I had spent 45 minutes of my life that I would never get back filling out a lost property claim, her wallet was found.  Husband got a call.  Wallet was  dropped off at a branch of the bank which issued the credit card inside.  Great.

Texted daughter.  Everyone is happy.

Here’s the thing.  My daughter just assumed the wallet would be found and turned in.  This girl has grown up a few blocks from a methadone clinic, and has seen people at the bottom of their luck, trying to quell an addiction that has destroyed their life.  She has seen people lying on the streets, passed out from drink.  She was seen people sleeping in the vestibule of the bank, homeless people showering in the sprinkler at the playground.  She knew a girl who died trying to jump from one building to another.  She knew a girl in her 7th grade class that got pregnant.  She has had friends who knew kids who committed suicide.  She has seen on a daily and routine basis how crappy life can be for others.  Yet- she has hope.

Why?  How?

Well, she has spent the past 3 years as a volunteer tennis coach at a program for inner city youth.  Shas spent the past 3 years as a tutor at a program for kids with no resources for extra help.  She tries to make life a little better for others.  One Saturday morning a month she gets up at 630 on a Saturday, and chops vegetables and sets out cutlery at a soup kitchen.  When she exits the church basement after prep is done,   I know it still shocks her how many people are lined up for that one meal.  She has sat next to children who are wearing coats and gloves and hats, and carrying backpacks that me, and other parents have given the school to distribute to families that need just a little help.  This is what gives her a little bit of optimism- she sees people trying to do the right thing.  She tries to do the right thing.

Will she always think that the good nature of people will prevail?  I hope so.  But it’s hard- because as stated, sometimes life sucks.

Now, my daughter is happy that wallet was turned in, most things still there.  Someone did swipe her two metrocards, and she was annoyed that the equivalent of 20$ was lost/stolen.  She wants to recreate how she actually lost her wallet, to the point she asked me how she could access the security cameras on the streets.  Seriously.

I told her that between her 40 pound backpack, purse, and big tote bag she had to lug around yesterday, it’s easy to get distracted.  She tries to fit a thousand things into a little tiny purse, and I explained that when you have so much stuff it’s real easy for something to fall out while retrieving something else. She has this delusion that she is perfect and completely aware of everything at all times.  Maybe this will teach her a lesson that she is indeed fallible.

So what’s the moral of this story?  People are generally good.  There is a cause for some optimism.  But we must always be pragmatic.

How’s that?



The Day I’m Not so Nice

I am usually a somewhat kind person.  Don’t get me wrong- I have mean days, days where I tell and tell people off.  But for the most part, I’m fairly Ok.  Today, I am going to write in a somewhat spirited and not altogether kind way about another woman.  Sorry- sometimes women do things that piss me off, just like sometimes men do things that piss me off.  But- be forewarned.

My Husband has a good friend from college.  Great guy.  Intelligent, funny, trustworthy, loyal, great Father, general good person.  R used to be married.  I will not mince words- I (and just about everyone) hated his ex wife- she was cold and calculating and rude.  I saw the handwriting on the wall and their eventual break up.  It was a  nasty contentious divorce because she was being so petty about everything, and he gave in to just about everything, except joint custody of their teenage children.  The kids were his Maginot Line.

While the divorce was in its final stages, he began trolling Facebook for women he had once been interested in during college, and for whatever reason, they never dated.  I did not think this was a good idea. While I love the idea of this (I’m actually using it as a device in my novel) realistically, I find this a bad idea on so many levels. People change, and we’re all at different stages- can you expect the same attraction to be present?  Also, I think it’s a little desperate- it’s like you just want a partner and it doesn’t matter who it is.  You’re throwing out bait and hoping something catches on.  So, I wasn’t crazy about this girlfriend through Facebook experiment.

But- he did begin dating two different girls- one was geographically desirable, so he ended up with the convenient one.  In the beginning, my radar flashed me warning signs- I saw someone who took offense very easily, who would feel slighted very easily.  He was going to have to walk on eggshells around her.  For the record, I do not like to be around people that are overly sensitive.  I like people who realize that not everything is a direct attack against them, and that people are not hiding things from you.   These type of people are emotionally draining.  I don’t like to be emotionally drained.

The more I got to know her, the more I realized my internal radar was correct.  She is massively insecure.  We had game night at my place- she lost every game we played.  Now, we’re adults right?  Does it really matter who won Apples to Apples?  Well, the next time I saw her she told me that we were playing the game wrong.  WTF?  As my other friend said, well, we were all playing by the same rules, so really, but anyway…it was Apples to Apples.  Who cares?

I planned an outing for our group.  We were doing a scavenger hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through a group.  I love things like this, clues, running around a museum- I think it’s fun.  and, truthfully, I’m good at puzzles.  So the day of the hunt, we had our team of 6. 3 of us were excellent at this, 2 of us were really good at writing down stuff and reading the map as we gave out directions, and 1 of us was stopping to look at all the art.  During a timed race.  In a museum on the same city in which we live.  A museum I’m at at least monthly FYI- I mean- it’s right here!  So, when she realized she wouldn’t be the “star”, she checked out of the game.  Didn’t care at all that the rest of us were really into it.  just checked out.

A few weeks ago, we were having a big group dinner- a group of about 16 people who hadn’t seen one another in awhile.  We met at my place for drinks.  They were the last to arrive, even though she lives the closest to me of the group.  They had to walk her dog.  Well, they were at our house for about 15 minutes before we left for the restaurant.  As I was trying to shut lights and blow out candles and check on my own pets, she was whining to him about how her dog walker screwed up something, and the dog was not going to be walked.  Remember, her 5 year old dog was walked a half hour before, and would be walked in a few hours.   She kept whining and whining and whining.  Finally, after badgering him, he left the party, with his friends, some of whom he hadn’t seen in awhile, to go across town to walk her dog.  She sat at the table looking smug and self satisfied.  It was the ultimate FU to the people at the table- she was making a power play.  She was making sure we all knew that she was more important than his friends.

I don’t like this behavior.  I don’t like insecurity.  I don’t like people who try to separate someone from their friends.  I don’t like manipulation of this magnitude.  I don’t like bullying, and this is bullying.

She’s done about 1000 other little things that show what type of person she really is.  I feel bad, because the guy R, is a quality guy.  Yet he is now again in a relationship with someone who is not nice, or kind.  He is again in a relationship with someone selfish.  Obviously, there is something about this quality that draws him in.

Now, the other problem is, we all hate this woman so much, no one wants to see them as a couple. (Not that it matters- she’s not going to let him play with the others anyway)  We also can’t say to him “Hey- your girlfriend is the ultimate Bitch” because, you know, my Husband keeps telling me I can’t. (Though, two of the other guys voted for me to tell him)  But anyway.

Ok- thanks for letting me get off some steam.  The situation sucks because we love this guy, and we can see the handwriting on the wall of what his life is going to look like.  There are not enough good qualities in the world to counteract her bad ones.

And if you all have advice, would love to hear it, but really, my friends and I all know that there’s nothing we can do except hope that he doesn’t marry her.

November 15

Back is August I told you about a friend of mine who had died from Cancer a few years before.  How I was heartbroken because it was only 6 weeks from diagnosis to death, how me and my other friend did everything we could to help him out, how it crushed us.  August would have been his 53rd birthday.

Today would have been the 53rd birthday of another friend of mine, M.  The death and situation around it were vastly different.  Part of me regrets the situation with M.  Part of me knows it was the only way I could survive.

M was my closest friend in High School.  We met the first day of 9th grade- she sat behind me in homeroom.  I had just moved to a new town and new school.  For an incredibly shy kid, this was akin to torture.  M was outgoing and friendly and fun.  She also only lived a few blocks away from me, so I would have someone to go to and from school with.

Now, back in high school M was a little crazy.  She was famous for prank calling boys.  Repeatedly.  She had no censor.  If we told her she was acting a little strange, she would stop speaking to us.  She was the poster child for teenage drama.

I was a shy, quiet withdrawn kid who really never even stepped a little over the line.  It was exciting to have a friend that was a little crazy.  Her wildness was tamed by having a good heart- inside she was a nice person.  Well, when she wasn’t getting mad at you because you told her she had to calm down.

We remained friends for years.  Now, the level of friendship changed.  We saw each other on college breaks, hung out a lot after college ended.  But we both had crazy jobs, and I moved off of Long Island, and was dating the asshole who would become my first husband.  The relationship shifted focus.  We saw one another every few months.  I no longer wanted to hang in bars trying to meet guys.  In truth, this had become our bonding experience- hanging in bars and clubs.  So every few months turned into dinner twice a year.

Now, it was one of those relationships where even though we hadn’t been in communication, we could pick right back up with where we left off.  She always had a crazy guy story to tell me.  Always a variation of this guy was so bad so I had no choice but to…..  Not unlike prank calling in 9th grade, or figuring out a guys locker combination and leaving things inside.  it didn’t seem quite as funny anymore though.

She had always been an excellent worker- highly intelligent and hard working and capable.  She tended to switch jobs a lot.  She got promoted quickly, but something always happened, someone was always not treating her respectfully so she would get another job.  When you produce results in your given field, this is easy.  At the end of the day, results count.

About 14 years ago, I noticed a slight change in her behavior.  Her behavior seemed way more erratic than it had ever before- spiraling from dizzying highs to swampy lows.  Now, 14 years ago, I had a 2 year old.  A typical 2 year old and a husband who worked a lot of hours.  I was typically exhausted and covered in some sort of young child thing- dirt, food, paint- you get the idea of mothering a toddler.  I didn’t have the time or inclination to hang out in bars and say stupid things to men.  My focus had changed.  And honestly, the only thing we ever did together was go to dinner at cool places.  I noticed how much she actually drank when we were out.  These outings weren’t fun for me.  I didn’t have the time or patience to do things that didn’t make me feel good.  These outings made me sad- she talked about fighting with her parents, her brother, whoever she was dating, whoever she was working for or working with.  Her life seemed to be a constant battle.  She was switching jobs about once a year, she was switching partners about once every two months.

We began seeing one another less, maybe every 18 months.

But about 8 years ago I began to get the texts and the calls.  She would contact me, drunk, and just yell about anyone and everyone.  Just incoherent rants about how the world was against her.  She would leave me multiple texts of just jumbled letters- some code that I could not decipher.

I began not picking up the phone when she called.

After a few months of trying to figure out message she was leaving on my voicemail, I called her during the day.  I told her she needed help, help that I was unable to give. I didn’t know if she had a mental disorder.  I didn’t know how dependent she was on alcohol and drugs.  I didn’t know.  I did know that I was not qualified to actually help her. I told her I would support her, but she needed to seek professional assistance.

She cut me out.

But every year, the rambling texts and calls would resume. I would repeat the same thing- I couldn’t deal with her in the state she was in, I couldn’t give her the help she needed, but I would support her while she got proper attention.

This went on till she died 3 years ago.

My Mother got the call from a mutual friend.  At one point, my Mom worked for my friend M, so there were mutual friends.

I sighed.  I didn’t actually cry.  I was relieved.  I hoped she was finally at peace.  I was the one who contacted our little high school clique.  I didn’t have much to tell them.  We didn’t know if it was suicide or an accidental overdose.  In the end, that’s just semantics.  I reached out to her brother.  They hadn’t spoken for the last 8 years of her life.  Apparently, he received the same treatment as me, and said the same things to her as I did.  She responded to him the same way she had responded to me.  He apologized for not contacting me directly- he said he didn’t know who she hadn’t pissed off.  It seems no one wanted to be around her anymore- she chased away anyone who wanted to help.

There would be no memorial or burial or any sort of service.

Now, I’ve often thought about what I could have done.  How could I have helped.  Was there more that I could have done?  Should I have dragged her to a hospital?  Was I selfish, only taking care of myself and my family?  Or was I surviving, knowing I could not help someone who didn’t want to be helped.

I talked about M with another friend.  We were saying that even back in High School we should have realized that something was off- that there was probably some sort of issue rattling around in her brain.  In hindsight, the signs were there.  We just didn’t know to look for them.  We just thought she was wild.

So, if you were to ask me about regrets, I’d say this situation might be a regret.  I don’t know how I should have handled it.  I console myself by saying everyone tried and failed to assist her, so nothing would have worked.  But that’s only rationalization.

So today, I silently nod and think about M.  And I truly hope she is at peace.



Closed Concept

My blogger friend Ann talked about the idea of open concept living space the other day.  You know, the thing commonly seen on HGTV, where all walls are eliminated, and costly beams are placed in the ceiling to support a wall less structure.  I commented that I read recently that people are taking to their basements to gain privacy.  I guess what people failed to realize is, everyone one needs a little time to oneself.

Now you all know that I live in a very small apartment.  Middle class New Yorkers are know to utter “Our apartments are our bedrooms, and the city is our living room.”  That’s how we console ourselves by living in tiny places- we talk about how we are always out and about, doing all sorts of wacky things.  But trust me, though you all know I love doing all the things the city has to offer, sometimes I need some time, and space to myself.

I don’t have a large bedroom- it true New Yorker fashion, we split our living room in half – one half living room and one half bedroom.  I don’t have a sanctuary, I have a bed, two nightstands, a vanity and a shelf.  I spend almost no time in my bedroom.  It just isn’t big enough.  My entire apartment has 3 closets.  3.  These closets store clothes for 3 people and vacuums, brooms and all the assorted household items one might need.  We have a storage locker in our communal basement to house luggage, skis, holiday decorations and extra toilet paper and paper towels.  We literally do not have room for these things within our apartment proper.  We have one bathroom- we literally schedule bathroom time.  I promised Cynthia that I would do a post on my very tiny kitchen, so I’ll talk about that separately.  I don’t have an office- I have a small desk tucked into a corner of the living room.  I usually bring my laptop to my dining table to write, because I have enough space on that to hold a cup of tea or glass of water.

This is my reality and I’m OK with that.  This is how I choose to live, even though most don’t understand it.

But, while I’ve adjusted to minimal square footage, I have never really adjusted to having no time to myself.  We obviously have no space for a she cave or anything like that.  Spending time alone is my biggest challenge.  Let me rephrase that, having time alone when I am not doing something practical is my biggest challenge.

Now, my Husband was supposed to go on a business trip this week- a convention in Nashville.  I was looking forward to this.  Oh, how I was looking forward to this.  For the most part, my teenage daughter is not needy- she is fairly self sufficient.  Husband…not so much.  He requires attention.  I’m usually OK with giving attention, but sometimes……

So, when Husband’s trip got cancelled the other day (pressing work issues precipitated by changes that were not forecast) I was the one that was the most upset.  I was lookin forward to 4 days of not having him around.

I know- some of you think I’m horrible.  But really, I planned on writing a lot.  I planned on going through my shoes- I know I have shoes I really don’t wear anymore and i’d rather give them away to someone who might make better use of them.  I wanted to reorganize one of my kitchen cabinets.  These are things that take a lot of thought- when you have small spaces and limited cabinets, you must completely empty more than one area, you must regroup and consider each items worth- you ask, do I really need this?  When did I last use it?  Is it difficult or costly to replace?  Trust me, New Yorkers have been asking these questions long before Marie Kondo.  This takes awhile.  It also means there are a lot of things hanging out in yoru living room.  A living room that is tiny to begin with.

I also planned on sitting on the couch and watching some Hallmark mystery channel movies that I DVR’ed a few months ago.  Ones that I just haven’t had a two hour block in which to watch.  Because we only have 1 TV and I can’t/won’t watch on my computer.

I also wanted an hour to just stare at the wall.

So I was a bit deflated, knowing that I would not have a little time to myself.  I still need to figure out how to recharge my very depleted internal battery.

This time of year is busy.  I always joke that I have a HUGE social life from September 1 to January 2, and from April 1 to June 30.  For me, it seems like its all or nothing.  But during the “all” times, I know I have to schedule some down time.  I am no different from a toddler that requires a time out.  I need a time out.  I would like a really comfy chair in the corner to just sit in and stare at the wall, and not have anyone bother me for at least 12 minutes.  (FYI- my husband went to the gym the other day- he joint texted my daughter and I and told us he couldn’t get the gym wifi to work on his phone at the gym- he couldn’t get Spotify.  Because you know, I’m the person to call if the gym’s wifi is not working.  Fearing he was going to ask me to sing into the phone so he could run, I suggested he turn off his phone and turn it on again- reboot- what a concept)  But you get what I mean- I’m never safe from questions.

And now I know it will be full throttle from now till New Years.  But I need a break.  I may lock myself in one of my three closets and hide from the family.  Or maybe I will bring a comfy chair down to the storage locker.

Right now- I need a little space.

Sweet Sixteen

Today is my daughters 16th birthday.  I can tell you exactly where I was 16 years ago today- in a hospital bed, recovering from 12 hours of labor followed by an emergency c section at 1 in the morning because I spiked a 104 degree fever.  I’m still convinced she was holding out for the 13th because that was her actual due date.  She’s that kind of person- always right on time.  Childbirth.  Good times.  But anyway.

There is so much I could say about my daughter.  It amazes me that she is actually my child.  She is intelligent, funny, hard working, confidant and resilient. She does not always succeed in what she sets out to do, but she always tries and always bounces back.  We often joke that we are not sure whose child we have actually brought home from the hospital, because she has traits that neither my Husband nor I possess.  We figure that there is some high achieving couple out there with our slacker kid.

Now, I personally know 3 other people who have the same birthday as my daughter- just think back 9 months…..Valentines Day.  Just saying.

But back to my amazing child.

She really is a good kid.  Her birthday always falls within a week of first marking period report cards and parent teacher conferences.  Now, for many kids, this might be a bad thing.  For my kid, well, it means we will probably be extra generous.  You see, my kid has literally never gotten a bad review from a teacher.  I’ll even say, that if teachers were to have favorites, my kid is the favorite over 90% of the time.  Am I bragging?  Yeah, a little.  My kid has made many things very easy for me.  I walked in PT conferences the other day- in my 3 minutes per teacher allotted time, I heard mainly “Well, I’d like it if she participated a little more, because I think her input would help the class, but I know she is fully engaged, so I’m not too worried.”  The two words that were most often used to describe my daughter are intense and focused.

But remember, with intense and focused come other issues.  I have to make sure she is handling stress properly.  I need to make sure she gets some sleep.

What I’m saying is- all parents have issues with their kids.  The issues may be different.

Why am I saying this?  Because frankly, I’m tired of being told that I have a “perfect” kid.  Because first of all, there is no such thing.  And secondly, I still have things to watch.  Just because my kid does well in school, and is responsible doesn’t mean I have no worries.  I have worries.  Every parent does.

But, I am also tired of hearing that I am “lucky” because my kid was just “born this way.”  First of all, what does that even mean?  Does that mean that she was just born responsible and hard working and resilient?


Maybe not.

Maybe it’s a little of both.  Maybe there is something inside my daughter that gives her drive.  But maybe I have also seen that in her, and thought about how to bring it out.  Maybe I have helped her find her strengths and play up to them, and work around her weaknesses.  Maybe I have had good moments of parenting.

Maybe it’s nature and nurture combined.

People are always talking about nature and nurture- which one is better, which one works.  I’m suggesting that you need both.  You need to have raw material, and you need to figure out how to coax it into the best possible shape.  Take a box of Legos.  Figure out the best configuration with what you have in front of you.  Take what nature gave you and nurture it.

If you see your kid has a gift, or a talent, help that kid explore what it can do.  My friend saw that his daughter had a great eye when she used his phone to take pictures.  This was at 4 years old.  He let her play with his camera, and at 8 she is becoming an exceptional photographer.  He saw what she had, and figured out how to enhance it.  And she loves being behind the camera.  She struggles a bit in actual school, but her confidence is being built up because she found something she loves and is good at.  Will this continue?  Who knows.  But right now, she feels good about herself.  A child that feels good about themselves is a beautiful thing.  That feeling is what will get them through the tough stuff.  And life has a lot of tough stuff.  So figure out what your kid is good at, what they’re passionate about, and help them explore it.

So on my daughters birthday, I have rambled quite a bit.  I guess, because I didn’t really want this to be an ode to my kid.  I think you all know that I love my daughter more than anything in the world, just like those of you with kids love yours more than anything in the world.  That’s being a parent.  We love our kids.  We love them no matter what they do or don’t do, no matter how well they do at school, or at activities or at sports.  We just love them because they are our kids.

to sum up:

Love your kids for all their imperfections.

Tell them you love them.

Help them find their passion.

Make sure you know there weaknesses so you can figure out how to deal with them.

Nurture their nature.

And Happy Birthday to my favorite girl!!!



“Watching Glass Shatter” a Novel by James J. Cudney. An Author Interview by Me

Six months ago, a blogger wandered onto my blog and left a comment.  I commented back.  He continued.  Banter ensued.  From those humble beginnings a friendship was born.  I have had the pleasure of becoming blog buddies, and coffee friends with James J. Cudney, affectionately known as Jay.  In our short, but meaningful time as friends,  Jay has had his first novel published.  To say I was proud and thrilled to see him achieve a dream is an understatement:  when I received a copy of his book in the mail last week, I almost cried.  I looked at the cover, saw  his name, and immediately thought “Good for you Jay. You did it.”

Jay is not only a wonderful blogger and author, he is also kind, compassionate, intelligent, witty, and organized.  If you know me you know how I love a good organization story.  Jay is also the most hardworking and determined person I have ever met- he sets a goal and does what he needs to accomplish it.  He doesn’t let mistakes or failures get in his way- he pushes through.

So how do youi write an interview about someone so wonderful?  Damned if I know.  I tried writing up his wonderful thoughts into a cohesive blog, and I failed miserably.  He is a much better writer than I am.

So, here’s what I want you to do:  Imagine a New York City coffee shop that is not a chain.  Seated at a small table towards the front are two attractive, stylish people, a man and a woman.  The woman is drinking an industrial sized earl grey tea with milk and sugar, cause she really needs the caffeine and the sugar.  The man is drinking coffee, with some french vanilla creamer thing.  He lives on the edge.  They are immersed in conversation, from the trivial to the substantial.  Animated voices, hands gesturing.  Much laughter.  This is the interview that happened.  I bring you Jay Cudney, uncut.

1) Give us a brief synopsis of your book:

I’m going to explain it an odd sort of way… In my reading experience, contemporary novels follow 1 or 2 characters around for a few weeks as they go through some sort of a journey. Watching Glass Shatter is like that, only it isn’t. There are 10 major characters, split up by chapters so that readers are discovering each of the members of the Glass family through the eyes and ears of that specific person. It was designed to match a quote from the first chapter when the patriarch, Ben, dies, which sets off the drama for the whole novel.

“In Ben’s case, although they only lasted ten explosive seconds, those moments managed to include all sixty nine years of his existence, each image punctuated by a blinding flash of pure white light and deafened by the harsh snapping sound of an old-time camera shutter.”

Although the book is not written as a play, it almost reads like one because readers explore different scenes across a 6-month period in the lives of the Glass family. Secrets are divulged. A few of the family do bad things. Some cause permanent damage. Others suffer even though they did nothing wrong. In the end, Olivia, Ben’s widow goes through this journey to try and re-assemble everyone. But nothing ever goes exactly as you plan, does it?

2) How did you get idea for plot:

I grew up on daytime and nighttime TV dramas about large families who often struggle to connect. My reading style tends to fall in the same category: the more secrets, relationships and drama involved, the more attuned I am to the story. I was half-in and half-out of sleep mode one night when the concept of 5 brothers struggling to live their own lives, under a domineering mother, appeared in my head. I started assigning secrets to them, realizing how they felt about one another. By the morning, I’d worked out a way to show both love and fear in a family that in some ways represents a more extreme version of what we’ve all experienced in our own families. Here’s the amusing part… I am an only-child, so I had to invent everything — no sibling rivalries to draw from, but I did have lots of stores from friends and cousins. I won’t reveal if there’s any connection. Shh… Don’t post that part. LOL

3) Do you  have a favorite character and why:

Yes, I have 2, but I shouldn’t say, right? That might change other people’s opinions. I launched a poll for November to let everyone vote for their favorite character. I will reveal 1 of my favorites now, but then I will save the other one for the end of the poll. My absolute favorite is Olivia. That woman is just ruthless in the beginning; it’s a fine balance of being a good mother yet also being so removed from the reality of what her family has done over the years, you can’t help but want her to be nicer. To know whether she does or does not, you have to read the book. I will say that she’s got the best lines in the novel — the ones that make you yell, laugh and cry.

4)  How many rewrites did you do

What’s a re-write? Just kidding! It took about 3 months to write the entire novel, which was shared with 3 or 4 beta readers who had a tremendous influence on me. They were critical but constructive. I am quite lucky to have met them in the Fall of 2016 when this was written. They are all writers, too, and have great potential with their futures. You can see a few nods to them in the Acknowledgement section of my book. Every chapter was re-written at some point, but the basic plot and key characters are pretty close to the way I designed them. Beta feedback helped craft each character’s voice and the ability for readers to connect with the final version.

5)  How much of first draft actually made it into the final edition:

I would say at least 50%. It started out at 72K words but was increased to 110K at one point. After editing, we got it down to about 90K, where it sits today. Reading it 6 months later, I still find some small areas where I could cut a bit more to get even tighter in my descriptions. I can be a little wordy sometimes, but at least I admit it.

6)  What was the hardest battle you fought when writing and how did you get through it:

Wordiness and Point of View. I love historical fiction which often tends to have lengthy descriptions. I am a huge Henry James fan, the king of wordiness. I had to remind myself (and have been yelled at by some kind beta readers) to tone it down! I listen. I find a compromise. Then I find my end product. In my second novel, which is going through editing now, it’s so much less wordy, but I still find areas where I know I need to cut a bit. It’s an evolving process. Managing Point of View with 10 characters was difficult, as I had to keep reminding myself who was speaking and what the tone was for his or her dialogue, narrative and voice. I thought at one point I would need to see someone to help with all the voices in my head, but they luckily went away when I confirmed the final edits with the publisher. Phew, that might have been a lot harder.

7)  Do you have a set way to write?  Do you write at a specific time or place?  Do you have lucky clothes?  Is there anything you consider unique about your writing process?

Unfortunately, no, I’m ordinary. I know of many writers who get so absorbed in the story and the effort, they write all evening and into the middle of the night. That’s not me. I am able to stop writing by about 5pm each day and turn my focus to marketing or promoting. I think of things all night long and make notes on my phone, but I have better success at managing blocks of time. I have 3 to 4 hours to write each day, 2 to 3 hours to blog, and 2 to 3 hours to market and promote. What I will say and this is probably TMI… some days, I’m done at the gym, showered and at the desk ready to write by 10am. Others, I dive right into it and when 5 o’clock arrives, it’s a mad rush to get to the gym, shower and run errands that I should have run earlier in the day. Most often, I’m in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts when I write. I need to be comfy and in a cold room. No heat! 

8) Did you have to do any research for the book, and how did you handle that:

I actually had very little research to do. I chose settings I am familiar with and a plot that while it had complexities, it didn’t require specific knowledge of law, medical history or anything technical. I researched personality traits when I decided on the voice for each character, so I could match some physical actions and emotional responses, as I feel it’s important to be authentic. The first secret that Ben reveals in the will was a bit complex; the likelihood of it happening in reality is small, but it definitely has happened. I chose not to get into the details purposely for two reasons: (1) it would have required immense research without any real benefit to the story and (2) ultimately, Ben’s secret isn’t the main focus of the book once you get into the dynamics of all the family members. It’s less “who is the secret about” and more “the psychological aspects of how people deal with secrets and where they fit within their family.”

9) Writers block. What’s your secret:

I am not a huge believer in writer’s block as a general explanation for not being able to write. I believe in struggling to create your plot, decide on a character’s path, choose a POV, et al. Those are critical to the success of the book. But if you are a writer, you can write anytime. It may be poor writing. It may not make sense when you re-read it. It might be throw away to help get your mind working. Writer’s can always write, but when they hit a block, they need to figure out what’s causing it. If you can figure out the root, you can trace a path to success. I write an outline for each chapter. If I attempt to write the words for that chapter, and they won’t come through as I need them to, I ask myself why. If I can’t solve it in 10 to 15 minutes, I switch to a different chapter or start editing earlier chapters. When I go back to write that chapter again, if I still can’t do it, then there’s something wrong in the story, which is a different problem, not writer’s block. Hopefully that makes sense, as I’ve definitely had moments where I don’t like what I’ve written, but I do think you need to find a way to keep moving forward rather than stare at a screen hoping something changes. That’s painful!

10) What advice can you give to aspiring novelists?

You first need to know why you write and what your goals are. If you don’t know, you will have a much harder time reaching your definition of success. Whether it’s fame, fortune, creativity or something more personal, understand it and develop a path to get there. Create your own personal plan with an objective, then lay down some steps to achieve your success. If you have a goal to reach people, then you can’t just write the story and wish for success to happen. You need to build relationships and connect with other people. And by connecting, I don’t mean a quick comment or like of someone else’s work, posts, reviews, et al. It’s important find commonalities, share stories, interact over similar book interests — build solid relationships. Over time, you find your voice and place in the industry; then you evolve your plan and focus so that you can grow and improve. I’m skipping over the actual craft of writing because I think that’s essential from the start; if you don’t know how to write or aren’t writing every day, you need to focus on that before you branch out into developing a full novel or interacting with other people to begin promoting your work. Plus… this is my debut… I’m still learning!!

Congratulations to Jay on publishing his first novel!  I look forward to seeing his name gracing a book cover many more times in the future!

For a limited time, Amazon will be offering the electronic version of “Watching Glass Shatter” by James J. Cudney for free. Please take advantage of this offer and grab your copy?  You will not be disappointed!


Not so Enlightened

A very handsome guy lives in my building.  He’s incredibly nice and charming too.  All the women, even the old married ones, harbor little crushes on him.  My single neighbor was in the lobby with him last week and she texted me- “guess who I’m in the elevator with- really want to tell him about this new bottle of wine I got….giggle giggle.”  Now, every time I see him, I look my absolute worst.  I was doing laundry the other day, and I switched out of my “nice” (clothes that should be worn in public) into sweats and a t shirt.  My t shirt was also on inside out.   Oh- my slippers- hot pink and fuzzy, like the kind you wore to a slumber party in 5th grade. Yes- it was quite a look.  And yes, he got into the elevator as I was coming up from the laundry room, made the usual pleasantries as I was trying to hide behind my laundry basket.

Here’s the thing:

Why do I care?  I’m married and not looking for anything on the side.  (seriously- 1 man in my life is more than enough).  So why do I freak out when I don’t look nice and a handsome guy is around?  Is it just some strange survival of the fittest thing?  Is it just instinctual to want to attract the more evolved species?  (I thought evolved sounded a lot nicer than saying the really hot guy)

Now let’s switch this ever so slightly.  Remember a few weeks ago I felt that I wasn’t taking care of myself as much as I should be?  So I started paying attention, dressing more neatly (except laundry and house cleaning- then I am scraping the bottom of the clothes barrel).  My husband and I were out at a music performance with a bunch of friends and a guy chatted me up- a younger, pretty attractive guy.  (I know- you’re thinking he’s a serial killer…..don’t worry- that thought briefly crossed my mind too….)  But anyway- guy chatting me up- it felt nice.  I felt attractive.

When the guy at the fish counter looks for a really good piece of cod for me, I feel attractive.  (I know-who feels attractive when they are buying groceries?  Well, me, yesterday when I was at the market in a shirt that was right side out).

I like to think of myself as a strong, tough competent woman.  I worked on the trading floor in the 80s and 90s…I know there is steel in my veins.

So why do I still feel good when a man thinks I’m attractive?  And for the record, I feel just as good if a woman finds me attractive. (though again- all of you men and women- don’t get your hopes up- I’m taken)

What is it about praise or interest from others that makes me feel good?  Now I know, I have all sorts of issues from my past with my Mother being critical of my appearance.  But is it just that?  Or is there a greater biological imperative?

Is self worth always going to be oddly tied into how others view us?

How hard is it to feel good about yourself if no one ever compliments you? (ok- as I’m writing this I am remembering how crappy my Mother made me feel- so I guess that’s part of the answer)

Do we need positive reinforcement to survive?  If we do, how much do we need?  Where do we draw that line?

I know I try to give my daughter positive encouragement for the things she does well, and I try to give her constructive criticism for the things she needs to work on.  As of today, this has worked out well- she is confident and capable.  But is that enough?


Feel free to tell me how wonderful I am……..

Write Month Check up

As you may know, I’ve been participating in Novel Writing Month.  Just thought I would do a follow-up.

  1. I am writing every day, but not always my mark of 1650 words.  Some days more, some less.  One day I rewrote the entire scene I had previously written because I came up with a much better way to set the stage for what I was trying to accomplish.  Technically that day was a wash.
  2. The hardest thing so far has been remembering to update my word count every day on the website.  I need to do that today- as soon as I blog.  Hoping I remember my password. (to give you a hint as to when I last updated and it’s only November 8)
  3. I am liking the way my main character is developing- she is funny and a bit of a bitch.  Sort of like me, except we know I am not funny
  4. I’ve come up with the major arcs and plot points.  I think they are solid- the most solid of anything I have ever had in a novel.  I truly believe this is due to my writing class.  My class is allowing me to think of a story in ways I never imagined.   In class we break down dialogue, plot, description.  Especially point of view.  I had been writing in 3rd person.  When I switched to 1st it brought the book to life for me.   When you think about these things as devices, it’s a whole new world- which brings me to:
  5. Being a writer and being a story teller are two different things.  I may have a flair for words- I can usually get my point across in a piece.  But telling a story- oh- that’s an art.  How do get from point A to point B- that’s the difference between a writer and an author- so
  6. I need to learn how to bridge the gaps – fill in the timeline of the major events.  But these moments can’t always be filler.  These little moments can help you shape your characters and your story.  I need to learn to use the fillers wisely.  I think I’m getting it.  I hope so anyway.
  7. An outline is great, but sometimes you have to throw it out the window.  I had a way that I wanted my story to go, but as I’m writing, I’m discovering new possibilities.  I’m going with my instinct.  I don’t always go with my instinct, so this is a bit of a trial for me, but so far so good!!!
  8. Here’s one I need help with if you can.  One of my beliefs in life. as well as in this novel is that the longer the people are friends, the less boundaries they have.  I truly believe it and I see it in my life.  When I presented the first chapter to my class, one person adamantly disagreed with me- she felt boundaries got tighter.  This is not a right or wrong- I am using the boundary disappearing in the book, but for my own clarification- long friendships- more or less boundaries?
  9. I can’t write with my family around, or awake.  They are a distraction.  I guess that the problem with being the perfect spouse and Mom- I’m always in demand
  10. I now walk around thinking of scenes that can be included in the book.  It’s a good thing I’m organized because I can’t multi task at all.  I see everything through the eyes of my characters.  just be happy I’m not writing about a serial killer
  11. I am very loose with grammar and punctuation (which I know is opposite my need for order and perfection) I think that when people get overly fixated on grammar and punctuation, they begin to loose the playfulness that writing can be.  Personally, I’d rather read a not grammatically correct interesting clever book, than a punctuation perfect but illogical or unsatisfying one.  Personally, I think I read too quickly to catch mistakes of commas and periods.  My brain assumes they are right.  Bad plot points or characterizations that are inconsistent- well those I pounce on in a heartbeat.  My brain will not overcome that.  That’s where my need for order and logic prevail.
  12. I need a desk chair.  A good one.  My body may never recover.  My daughter asked me the other day what I wanted for a holiday gift.  A desk chair.  I know my family doesn’t read my blog, but I believe I will leave this part on the bulletin board.  oh wait.  My family never looks at that either…..

So there you go!!  Hoping all your writing is going well!!

I Feel a Loss

There’s been a lot of talk of sexual harassment and sexual assault recently.  I get and understand that.  It’s a huge issue, and it needs to stop and not be taken lightly.  People need to be respected.

Now you know there is going to be a but….

And I don’t mean a but those things are OK….

I mean a but I feel we’ve lost something…..

Here’s my anecdote.  I remember meeting a boy who I liked very much.  I was 18.  I met him through some friends.  We went on a first date.  Through both those things he was totally respectful of me and my personal space.  I wanted him to kiss me.  I wanted him to kiss me so badly.  When he finally did, it was magic and perfect and probably the kiss I want to think about on my deathbed.  It was everything.

Here’s the thing: would that penultimate moment have been ruined if he said “I’m going to put my arms around you and pull you into me.  Is that acceptable?”  “Ok good.  Now I’m going to lean in and kiss you passionately.  Am I breaking any boundaries by doing this?”

Honestly, I don’t know if the kiss would mean the same thing to me.

My city bestie and I disagree with this.  She thinks every move between two people should be verbally documented.  I think this takes the fun out of it.

To what level do we need to consent to being touched by another person?

I understand personal space- I like my boundaries.  I try to be respectful of the invisible wall people put around themselves (which is SO hard in New York where I am more intimately acquainted with a stranger on the subway than I am in bed with my Husband)


Have we inadvertently gone back 200 years when men and women needed to be chaperoned?  Do people need to be chaperoned in order to not be accused of sexual impropriety?  Do we need someone in the room so that we can be sure that every touch is wanted?

Does a first kiss between two people need to be contractual?

What do you all think?  What’s the line on this?  What is and is not acceptable?

All various forms of thought are welcome- I’m still thinking this one out.


They Seemed so Nice

I was having lunch the other day with a good friend, M.  We have been friends for over 20 years, having bonded in the trenches of corporate America.  We had always seen one another across the sea of desks, but became friends in the bathroom one day when she had a wardrobe mishap and she needed help pinning up an errant hem.  After that, we realized we shared a love of the ballet, 19th century art, and using the gym as stress relief.  She can be really uptight sometimes and says annoying things, but she has an amazing heart and would walk over fire for people she cares about.

But anyway.

So we finished lunch.  She went to use the rest room because she had to get back from Manhattan to the northern suburbs.  I waited outside because I had a 7 block walk back to my house and could use the facilities in private.  When she came out of the restaurant, she was ashen.  I thought she was going to cry.  She handed me her phone.  Of course, I feared that something had happened to her family.

“Look at the story and then look at who it is” she said.

I began to read the text forwarded to her by someone else we used to work with.  He sent a link to an article with horrible allegations against someone else we had once worked with.  Horrible, despicable vial things.  Things I don’t even want to say out loud.  Now, this is an article, and it’s still alleged, and there are all sorts of innocent till proven guilty stuff.  I get that.  But at this moment, none of these things mattered.  The tabloid article was all the proof my friend needed to get herself, I can’t even think of the right word- horrified and sad and crazed.

Back in the day, my friend looked up to this person.  Thought this person was pretty close to perfect.  Brilliant, and I mean, one of most blazingly intelligent people I’ve ever met- true genius, not a fake pretentious genius.  Humble- and in the industry we worked in, this was rare.  Patient- if you didn’t fully understand something-  they never talked down to you or made you feel inferior- just figured out a better way of explaining their way of thinking- which was new and different from anything before.  You could say the ideas that this person came up with were groundbreaking- most of what they did had never been done before.  This person treated everyone fairly, was non judgmental, was courteous and kind.  This person also helped my friend get promoted and recognized because they saw all that my friend had to offer our company.  This person was almost her mentor.

Now, that image was shattered.  That image was broken.  Along with the image of this person, my friend M began to doubt her internal radar, the piece of her that allowed her to judge someone’s character.  Before my eyes I saw M start to crumble, as she began to think about all the other people she may have misjudged in her life.  How many people had she trusted that she shouldn’t have?

So here’s the thing:  how good are our internal barometers?  How often can we discern good from bad?  Is there really anyway to know that someone has internal flaws?  Flaws that are so against everything that you value?

We all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.  But sometimes, you meet someone, and you get that inkling that something is off?  How much attention should you pay to that little inkling?  Is that little voice in your head really a warning that there might be chapters in the book that you don’t want to read?

I like the idea of meeting new people and assuming that they have character traits that are generally strong- they don’t steal, they don’t harm others, they have a sense of morals.  But….what’s the phrase- still waters run deep?  How can you know which strangers are not danger?

I’m not a trusting person by nature. (the biggest complaint I’ve ever had from ex boyfriends is that I never let anyone in- that’s my fatal flaw)  That’s just me.  But my friend M is a trusting person.  She walks around with her heart on her sleeve.  Which way is better?  Is there a good way we should face the world?

So, my friends…here’s the thoughts for the day:

  1. when you meet someone new, in any capacity, are you open or withdrawn?
  2. have you ever known someone and been completely fooled by who they actually were (exes are included in this)?
  3. do you listen to the little voice in your head that says something if off?