Face Time

“In China, “face” or mianxi, was a concept that a westerner like Fortune did not instinctively understand, describing as it does the prestige and reputation one gains from every human interaction…”Face” expressed a person’s position within his or her network and was the mechanism by which Chinese assessed their obligations: which orders to obey, which favors to grant, and which supplications and apologies to make. For All the Tea in China– Sarah Rose

When I read this book, I thought it was an interesting thing to ponder- In my mind, it’s sort of like, treat the people who treat you well with respect and kindness and gratitude, and treat the people who are mean to you with meanness back… But I’d like to know how you interpret this… What do you think the concept of “face” represents?

My only glitch in this is, does this process make you beholden to people who aren’t necessarily nice, but just nice for a price?

Example- The guy on the corner sells fake watches. If you are nice to him, respect his territory and don’t tell on him, he is nice in return. But your neighbor tells an unsuspecting tourist not to buy the watch because while the “model” he shows you is operational, the one he actually sells to you is empty of mechanism. The fake watch salesman does everything he can to make your neighbors life miserable. In theory, what good is warning the tourist who lives somewhere else? That person can’t save you from the day to day…

In theory, I know we should be spreading sunshine and lollipops and unicorns to everyone. However- if you open up your phone to news headlines, you know that just isn’t how life works… Just because you treat people with kindness doesn’t mean that’s how the world will treat you back. Remember the adage nice guys finish last– it’s a “thing” for a reason…

I know I’m spinning lots of plates in the air in this post, but how do you determine how to treat people?

Are you respectful until they give you a reason not to be?

Are you cautious until they prove they are worthy of your time?

Do you follow the group and make your decision based on how others treat the person?

Do you stereotype? (FYI- stereotype can mean assuming that someone who lives in a rural community and happens to go to church is a card carrying Trump supporter, or someone living in NYC is a Communist)

Respond to any, or all of my thoughts and questions, or toss out some questions of your own. This is a thinking exercise, so every answer and thought is valuable in thinking about this subject:


Veni, Vidi, Etc…10/28/22

I’ve been trying to remember to look up. You never know what you will see.

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 10/29/22

A few weeks ago I went to visit my daughter in DC. I am grateful that she lets me kiss the top of her head. I am grateful that she hugs, even on the street when I’m about to get into my uber. I am grateful that she is open about saying “I love you.” I am grateful that when she’s a little dopey, she still calls me Mommy. Parenting is so hard, so fraught with indecision and mistakes. But I’ll take these little things as a sign that I didn’t screw up too badly as a parent, and for that I’m truly eternally grateful.

My prompt for the week was DISCOVER. Here’s how it was used in the books that I’m reading:

  1. It was only through new friendships, great introspection, and Al-Anon that I discovered the courage, faith, belief, and hope that I needed to move forward on my own path in an unpredictable world. Jane Rosen
  2. Well, I’m glad we discovered this cataclysmic disagreement early. Geraldine Brooks
  3. We learn to listen to the silence, where we may find we discover the very highest form of guidance. Julia Cameron
  4. But writing will be a journey or personal discovery…therapy, if you like. Graeme Simsion
  5. It was as if I had fallen asleep in a field only to discover at waking that a grove of trees had grown up around me. Charles Simic quoted in a memoir by Javier Zamora
  6. Look deep inside and discover the people around you. Pedram Shojai
  7. I’ve read this gorgeous, graceful novel (Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner) more times than I can count, because I discover something new each time I pick it up. Anne Bogel in a book by Jane Mount
  8. Life will keep handing us lemons; it’s our job to discover our own recipe for lemonade. Eveline Helmink
  9. You might discover that the less you say, the more you hear. Rob Walker

Here’s How I’m going to think about discover:

  1. I’m currently reading two books, one a memoir of a journey and one a book about discovering family as you get older. Neither book uses the word “discover” in the narrative/text. How can an author not use that word in books that at their very core about discovery?
  2. Is is possible to live without discovery?
  3. Is the secret to life discovering something new every day?
  4. Does discover had bad connotations?
  5. Are we afraid of discovering things? Is it too much change?



As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

C. P. Cavafy, "The City" from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. 


My Month in Books and Movies- 10/22

I thought I’d try something different this month. I am going to include the goodreads and rotten tomatoes scores along with my rating, just to see how I align with them.

BookAuthorGenreBook club/beach Read/Personal Growth/How toMy Rating/Goodreads
The Bullet That MissedRichard Osmanmystery/cozy/#3 in a series/comedy overtones/people of a certain ageBeach Read1 /4.54
Our Missing HeartsCeleste Ngfiction/literary fiction/dystopian?book club2 /4.01
The Hound of the BaskervillesSir Arthur Conan Doylefiction/mystery/classic/Sherlock Holmesbeach read (though i read for book club)3 /4.13
The No- ShowBeth O’Learyfiction/love story/women’s fiction/alternate viewpointsbeach read4 /3.90
The Golden CoupleGreer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanenpsych thriller/mysterybeach read5 /4.02
Yours CheerfullyAJ Pearcehistorical fiction, WWII England, love story, plucky heroine, sequelbeach read6 /3.94
Martha Stewart’s Very Good THings: Clever Tips Genius Ideas for an Easier, More Enjoyable LifeMartha Stewartnon fiction/how tohow to7 /3.65
A Shoe StoryJane L. Rosenfiction/rom combeach read8 /4.11
The Unsinkable Greta JamesJennifer E. Smithfiction/women’s fiction/relationships/lossbeach read9 /3.91
  1. The Bullet– I loved this book. It is exactly what I want from a cozy mystery: fun characters, clever writing, interesting story and just enough red herrings to make it interesting. This might be my favorite in the series. You either like cozies set in England, or you don’t- but if you like the genre, give this a try!
  2. Our Missing Hearts– Ng is clearly a good writer. Her prose is well paced, and she knows how to set a mood and a feeling. However, we need to be careful when writing “dystopian” novels- you can’t just play off an agenda and call it dystopian. We also need to be careful about agendas, especially when there are multiple ways that they can be interpreted, and in the case of this book, a person is going to solidify their own beliefs, but not necessarily consider alternate points of view. Beware of the wave of books which will try too hard to make a point.
  3. Hound– This is just a classic, old school mystery. You either like Holmes or you don’t. I found it fun and a tad campy, which I’m not sure was the intention of ACD, but that’s how it reads in 2022 for me.
  4. No Show– The actual writing is formulaic and cliched- the author uses the same tired descriptions multiple times throughout the novel. However, the story itself is worth note: it’s a love story, but O’Leary has found a way to breathe life into what can be a tired genre. If you want a light love story, and don’t care about being dazzled by wordplay, try this out.
  5. Golden– This is a pretty good psych thriller. Very female oriented, as the two protagonists we follow are women. I felt there was probably one or two too many red herrings, but it was an enjoyable, easy read. If you’re a fan of the genre you will probably enjoy.
  6. Yours Cheerfully– This book has a plot, sort of, but tends to meander aimlessly. The heroine is a little too plucky, bordering on annoying. I felt the characters were one dimensional, and didn’t spark my interest to care about them. Alas, I fear that there will be a third book to this series, but I can’t imagine reading it. Hard pass unless you ADORED the first one in the series, Dear Mrs. Bird. And even if you liked that one, beware…
  7. Martha– There’s nothing wrong with this book. There’s also nothing right with it. I didn’t learn anything new from this book, so therefore, it’s useless. You can pass.
  8. Shoe Story– This is so lightweight even the hard cover copy wouldn’t damage you if you dropped it on your foot. The characters were the least interesting characters ever, as they were so one dimensional and lifeless, as if the author had a bunch of paper dolls and chose to make a book based on stereotypical traits. Even the clever use of designer shoes gets really old really quickly. Don’t read it…
  9. Unsinkable– The title lies- this book totally sinks. OMG what a whiny bunch of characters. The protagonist is a spoiled brat. There is nothing to like about her, and this is an easy reader- of you don’t like the character you have nothing. Don’t read this titanic of books
MovieGenreWhere SeenRating/RT critic/RT audience
Tardrama, present day, cancel culture, harassmentTheater – AMC1 /94/75
Broscomedy/rom com/Theater- AMC2 /88/90
Decision to Leavedrama/mystery/foreign language (Korean) Theater- AMC3 /93/91
Triangle of Sadnesssatire/some comic moments/morality tale/eat the rich/literary fictionTheater- AMC4 /73/80
Ticket to Paradiserom com/A list starsTheater- AMC5 /56/89
The Good Housedramedy/family/relationships/substance abuse/woman trying to be everythingTheater- AMC6 /71/76
The Storied Life of AJ FIkryromance/based on a novelTheater- AMC7 /36/88
  1. Tar– I thought this was a well executed piece of film. Screenplay, directing, acting all first rate. Be forewarned though- this is the film equivalent of literary fiction, so while there is a plot, that is not what holds this together, it is character driven and a masterclass in acting for Cate Blanchett. While I think the film skews too long, and there are a few scenes that I would rework, it is well done, and I can’t imagine it will not get a few Oscar nods. So thought provoking that I hours later I was still texting my friend who I saw the movie with about plot points and overall theme.
  2. Bros– This is a tender and charming rom com about people who don’t know if they want to be in a relationship. Billy Eichner is a great writer and this movie has just the right amount of heart and sarcasm to be enjoyable
  3. Decision to Leave- Hitchcockian is the first thing that came to mind as I watched this film- the camera angles, the lighting, the plot evolvement, and these things were all in the plus column for me. However, there were some things I didn’t quite understand, and I left with more questions than answers. Unsure about character motivation. But, it is a well made film.
  4. Triangle– This movie makes a point, and then bangs you over the head with it. This is the movie equivalent of literary fiction- mostly character study, the plot is not as important as other things, lots of ambiguity. I have no doubt that I will be thinking about this film and its themes, it just drags in places and clearly could have been 30 minutes shorter. But interesting concept
  5. Ticket– This is not an Oscar caliber film. However, if you like George Clooney and/or Julia Roberts, this is probably worth a watch (though you can wait for streaming) It’s light and sweet but the chemistry between the two stars is evident. Alas, the other love story in the movie is flat…
  6. Good House– This is the movie equivalent of women’s fiction- matriarch trying to overcome her own childhood, and trying to keep her family afloat, and what she has to do to get there. While is gets a little too much in parts, if you like the genre about a woman who thinks she’s stronger than she is, jump on board and watch
  7. Fikry– This book got horrible critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but as I loved the book it was based on, and I have a soft spot for Kunal Nayyar, I went to see it anyway. While not a great movie, too many ambiguous plot points and lack of explanation, the movie works somewhat as a romance/love story. I’m not saying rush out to the theater, but if you want a sweet story with some ups and downs, watch it when it’s on cable or streaming.

Air travel Angst

As most of you know, I visited Barcelona over the summer. As I did not take a boat, and beam me up Scotty is not yet a thing, I flew. When you fly it requires buying airline tickets. I remember the days when you looked up flights on a Tuesday, because that was apparently the best day to buy tickets, you found a flight that worked, the price wasn’t too usurious, and you booked. Now…the process isn’t quite the same.

Airline flights. Prices. Yuck.

Of course, I didn’t need to vacation or fly anywhere, but let’s face it- if COVID taught us anything it’s that there are no guarantees. I can sit in my apartment and get caught in a web of what if, or I can wander the streets of Barcelona and imagine for just a few days that life is perfect.

But anyway…

There are so many different ways to book flights. You can go directly through the airline, which honestly I prefer. It’s easier, and if you need help, the chance of them helping is greater. However, there is a cost, and sometimes the cost is high…

So that’s when you go to Kayak or Priceline, or any one of those thousand places that tell you they will get you where you need to go for less.

I went the discount purveyor route for this trip…

Angst all over the place…

You see a flight. The time is perfect. It’s either direct or minimal connections. The price isn’t too threatening. You get your passport and credit card numbers…you hit PURCHASE…the wheels on the computer turn and turn…and then the computer says that there are no more flights left at the good price. The price for your flight has gone up by a thousand dollars…

You get frustrated and throw your passport and credit card across the room.

You try the next day, to the same result…

and the next…

and the next…

You sit at the computer one morning and you make the decision that this will be the last day that you try to buy tickets. You will just figure out another vacation to go on. Even though at this point you really want to go to Barcelona. You know that anything other than Barcelona will be a letdown…

But then the ticketing and airline gods look down upon you kindly- really, they don’t want to lose you, and they know that you are at your personal limit for self punishment by computer program and algorithms…..

And when you click PURCHASE you actually purchase tickets…

You breathe a quick sigh of relief but immediately turn to your email to make sure you have received the confirmation…

There it is. Proof that money has changed hands and you are in possession of actual bar coded tickets…

You do a little happy dance…

You’re going away…

And you just hope you pass the COVID test…


We’re going to play word games today. All definitions are courtesy of merriam-webster.com

sympathetic or helpful natureof, relating to, or having the characteristics of advanced cultureto consider worthy of high regardpolite, kind
of a forbearing nature/gentlemarked by refined cultural interests and pursuits especially in arts and bell lettresto refrain from interfering withpleasing, agreeable
arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearanceshowing or characterized by correct social usageto have reference to: concernappropriate, fitting
of a kind to give pleasure or reliefmarked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesywell executed
affectionate/lovingmarked by a lack of roughness or cruditiessocially acceptable: well bred
virtuous, respectable
possessing, marked by or demanding great or excessive precision and delicacy
showing fastidious or finicky tastes: particular
exacting in requirements or standards: punctilious

So…now that you’ve seen how the words are thought to be used, do you use the words as intended, or do you sometimes substitute one word for another?

What do you think of as the main differences between these words are?

Do you think these words are interchangable?

Obviously, the first definition of the word NICE includes two of the other words. But…neither of those two words ever uses NICE in the definition. Is nice too generic a word? Should we stop using the word NICE because it’s too boring and really doesn’t do a good job of describing anything?

Let’s look at POLITE for a second. When I read the definition, I couldn’t help but think of when one of my southern friends said that if someone says “Well Bless Your Heart” to me, I should really run the other way, because that’s as close to calling out someone for a duel as actually calling one out for a duel, but all sorts of sugar coated…polite maybe, but not kind or respectful or nice.

When you write or speak, how do you use these words?

Examples please:


I’ve been around the block with this topic before, but I figured I’d give it another whirl.


How do you know when to tell your kids what to do?

How do you know when to guide them?

How do you know when to back off?

I think this is really the most difficult part of parenting: knowing the right way to parent your child at that particular moment.

I see parents who back off a lot, and it’s not always good.

I see parents who are constantly telling, and that’s not usually good.

How do you know the right balance of which parenting style to take?

Given that all kids are different and need to be parented differently

This is more a fact gathering mission: pick a type of child, and tell me the style of parenting that best fits.


Your child is 16. They are neither popular nor unpopular, they fly right under the radar. They get invited to a party with the popular kids, but as a parent you’re not sure if this is a good thing for your kid to go to. What would you do? What would influence your decision?


Body Language

Over the summer my daughter and I were eating dinner at an outdoor cafe near our house. While we were partaking of StreetSide dining, we ran into an acquaintance-a cousin of my daughter’s cousin. The young woman is slightly older than my daughter and lives in the neighborhood adjacent to ours. I won’t go into whether or not this is a coincidence or whatever, because that’s a whole other rabbit hole.

So we see the young woman, A, and she is with a guy, B. We chatted and exchanged pleasantries, and then they went on their way.

I said something about not knowing that A had a boyfriend. My daughter responded that the guy was not her boyfriend. My daughter said she thought it was a platonic thing.

This was my daughter’s take:

  1. when A stepped close to chat with us, he stepped back
  2. B wasn’t introduced to us (wouldn’t it be awkward if his name was B and I’ve just actually named him?)
  3. His body language was closed off- arms crossed in front of him, vacant expression, and something I can’t quite remember about the stance of his feet
  4. He didn’t try to pet Betty, who was dining with us

My daughter said that everything he did reeked of friend, not boyfriend, and if indeed my daughter was wrong and he was her BF, then he was a lousy boyfriend, because he seemed totally disconnected to her, and if he was able to disengage was her while she was speaking to someone she knew, he really didn’t care about her.

So, though you haven’t actually seen the scene, what do you think of my daughter’s summation?

Does body language indicate how one feels about a situation or another person?

Do people give off “tells”?

If you were B in this situation, how would you have acted?

Have you ever looked at two people and tried to judge their relationship status?

Discuss anything you find interesting. And if you find nothing interesting, just say Hi…

Veni, Vidi, Etc…

This is a supersize issue, as I visited my daughter in DC over the weekend! Lots of pictures!! Lots of fun!

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 10/22/22

I began a new writing class last week. I was able to present my work this week. I am grateful that writing classes are beginning to meet in person again. I am grateful that my teacher has a really good command of the class, and is able to get the material across well. I am grateful that the teacher liked my first homework assignment. I am grateful that my class and teacher liked the first work that I presented for class. I am grateful that I like the piece that I’m working on now and I’m grateful that I really look forward to working on it. (on a funny aside, I had crafted a chapter the other morning, and while I was waiting for a friend to join me for lunch, I thought of something I should add, and as my friend approached the table I asked her to let me just finish the sentence I was editing on my phone. I am consumed in a good way)

My prompt for the week is JOURNEY. Here’s how it appeared in the books that I’m reading:

  1. If every pair of shoes tells a story, imagine the journeys had by an entire closetful. Jane L. Rosen
  2. The journey home was long, with another extended wait due to a problem on the line and not a sandwich to be had anywhere. AJ Pearce
  3. As Jarret’s fear of the unfamiliar eased, he’d come to enjoy the journey– the river’s changing vistas by day; the view at night, of other steamboats, passing by like cliffs of radiance. Geraldine Brooks
  4. You were a stranger along my journey who has become family. Javier Zamora
  5. Evening pages record the day’s journey as hit or miss. Julia Cameron
  6. Add the experience of a new place to your journey today. Pedram Shojai
  7. Odysseus’s 10-year journey home and all of the tales of adventure that came after it are, as they say, not about the destination. Jane Mount
  8. Ah, you say, but writing will be a journey of personal discovery…therapy, if you like. Graeme Simsion
  9. Bad days aren’t the end of the world- they’re the beginning of an inward journey, gateways to a stronger, more balanced, braver version of yourself. Eveline Helmink
  10. If you commute the same way every day, you don’t notice anything. In fact, a few minutes after arriving, you have absolutely no recollection of the journey at all. Rob Walker

How I’m going to think about JOURNEY:

  1. In a memoir about going from Central America to the United States, the word journey was never used in the prose of the book, only in the acknowledgements. Wasn’t that a journey? Why did the author choose not to use that word?
  2. Do we live like the journey is the most important thing?
  3. Does every work of fiction need to have a hero’s journey?
  4. How often do we enjoy the journey?
  5. Do we fail to appreciate the journey until it’s too late?

The Journey
Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.