Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Today I'm thinking of the kids in Newtown and their first day back at school. Thankfully "Sandy Hook ... remains a crime scene, with no indication if its 600 students will ever return to the building. Preparations are being made for them to use a school building in a neighboring town in the interim." I'm assuming most parents will stay with their children today. There will be police present, counselors, perhaps some story-tellers and clowns or magicians. There will be lots of art-making.  The children, their families, and staff will feel as safe as is possible given the circumstances.

I'd like to see the Sandy Hook school leveled to the ground (after the crime scene is processed). I'd like to see the students and teachers and parents participating in its destruction. Pounding with hammers and  pulling with cranes. Destroying the place where this happened to them.

Then, after it's all down, I want to see the students set the first bricks onto the new foundation that will become their school. Again.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Photos Sharing Switch

There are several reasons that I switched from a Droid phone to an iPhone a couple of years ago - one of which was joining Instagram which, at the time, was not available on the the Android platform.

Nearly two years have passed and (finally?) this week things have begun shaking up in the phone-photo-sharing world:
1. Instagram and twitter stopped working together. Instagram photos are no longer included in the feed. To view the image you are required to click out to the Instagram website.
2. Twitter introduced filters to its photo platform. Images are, of course, included in-stream and kept as a record in your profile.
3. Flickr introduced a huge new upgrade to its iOS app which includes filters and editing along with sharing in-stream to twitter and facebook. 

As someone who cross-posts many (most?) of my photos to twitter, it is essential to me that it's easy for my followers to view them. I've always disliked having to click out to see photos (on tumblr for example) so why should I expect other to do so? Based on this feature alone I made the decision to only share via Flickr. 
My plan had been to continue editing in Instagram and sharing to flickr and THEN sharing from flickr to twitter. But then this happened:
It's an awesome app. I love it. There is room for improvement, but it's already heads and tails better than instagram.

Check it out here (unfortunately it's not available for Android yet).
You can follow me on flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/corikesler/ (Or you can just click on the flickr photostream widget on the right.)

Happy photo-sharing.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Calling Wisconsin

"Hi, may I speak with Mable?"

"This is she."

"Hi Mable, my name is Cori and I'm a volunteer for the GrassRoots Obama Campaign. How are you today?"

"Ohhh I got sick in church today and I'm just not feeling well."

"Oh no! Do you have someone with you?"

"No... my sister might come over later... but I just don't feel well."

"Mable, are you safe? Do you need me to call someone for you?"

"Thank you dear, I'm safe. I'm just going to lay down."

"Ok, should I call back another time?"

"Oh yes! Please do!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Binder Full Men

photo: flickr, Jinx
I saw only the tail end of the Presidential Debate last night, so I missed Romney's comment about "women in binders".  My twitter stream, however, was paying full attention and blew up with quips and comments hash tagged #womeninbinders. Within minutes there were facebook pages and groups, tumblrs, twitter handles and memes. I could write about how fun this collective conversation is, but my friend Tara Hunt has already done that beautifully on her blog post this morning.

I have a different story to tell.

Eleven years ago a friend of mine decided that she couldn't wait any longer to have a baby. She was nearly forty and financially secure. With no volunteer fathers among her friends, she made her way to a bank. A sperm bank. Once there she was presented with binders full of questionnaires completed in handwriting by potential donors. (Incidentally, I also missed Romney's stance on single parents, but I gather from what I've read that he would not approve of my friend - or me, for that matter.)

She tells of sitting in the bank's private room, browsing through the binders, reading the donors' answers, analyzing their words and the curves of the letters, the crosses on T's and the dots on i's. It was like catalog shopping, she said. Choices included men of all races and religions, tall, short, rich, poor, educated and not. She went back several times over the course of six months before finding the "match" that was right for her.

Now my friend has a beautiful, intelligent daughter in the sixth grade at a competitive private music school. She has done an amazing job raising this little girl but, with all seriousness, she credits having chosen the best man from the binder.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's NOT Always About You

Last week two friends came to pick up some pears from my tree and they happened to cross paths.  I've known both of them for more than 20 years; one more than thirty. Naturally they've seen each other from time to time at my (ever more infrequent) gatherings and dinner parties. The two exchanged warm hellos and briefly caught each other up on main life events.

As I handed over the pears one friend had to leave, said goodbye to us both, and left out the front door. The other friend looked at me and said, "did you see this? We're dressed exactly the same!!"

I got up and turned around (there's a mirror on the wall) and we stood there, side by side, sure enough, "brown long sleeve shirts, jeans, black vests, black shoes... Look at us!" and we burst out laughing. It's funny because we are both 43 year old newly divorced moms who have been friends since Girl Scouts and somehow continually reflect each other - right down to the clothes we wear.

She stayed a while longer then had to run off to get her kids.

Fast forward three days and I receive a call from the first friend - the one who left early. "I wasn't out the door two seconds before you girls started making fun of me!!"

"Huh? What are you talking about?" - me.

"There is NOTHING WRONG WITH A BROWN SHIRT!" he yelled, "I heard what you were saying - those windows were wide open! You should be ashamed."

After I recovered from my bewilderment and figured out what he was talking about I told him he had misunderstood and reiterated the actual conversation.

He was silent for a moment, then said, "I've been feeling bad for two days thinking you were making fun of me."

.... "How are you enjoying the pears?"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New York Apartments

January 1987 - June 1987
Fashion Institute onTechnology dorms on 27th between 9th and 10th Avenue.
Because of my mid-year arrival all the dorms were taken so I, along with two other transfers, were placed in a cleaned storage room stuffed with a bunk bed, a twin and three desks. One roommate was a spikey-haired goth punk who quickly obtained a job in The Village. The other was a Catholic gal who was practically engaged to a man with whom she'd never had sex. We ate at the school cafeteria with the rest of the students. I consumed a lot of cereal and the only reason I didn't gain the freshman ten is because I took a part time job at a health club.

July 1987 - October 1987
One bedroom on the fifth floor of a 5-story walk-up on 46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues
The punk roommate and I escaped dorm life for Hell's Kitchen. We shared a bedroom in a tiny oddly shaped apartment for which we paid $750/mth. She liked to sleep late. I'd go to the corner and eat at the diner. It's still there - the Galaxy, it's called. We were robbed the week we moved in. From my bedroom window I could watch the street and thus uncovered which prostitutes belonged to which pimps and the best way to outsmart the cops during a raid (throw your lollypop in the street, put on your coat, hang your purse on your shoulder and walk with purpose. The ones who ran always got caught.) I transferred to Baruch on 24th and continued working at the health club.

October 1987 - February 1988
Large one bedroom on the 28th floor of a Luxury Doorman Building on 36th Street and 1st Avenue
After a fallout with the punk roommate, and with the financial help of extended family, I moved across town to share a one bedroom apartment with a gal who modeled. Funny thing is, she was incredibly unattractive, though tall and thin with long hair. She had lots of pretty lingere... In retrospect I'm sure she was an escort. I kept going to school and working at the health club. Eventually the roommate went postal on me - accusing me of stealing clothes, if I remember correctly... I moved.

March 1988 - January 1989
Studio Garden Apartment on the basement floor of a seven story building on 83rd Street near 1st Avenue
Having been completely put off any sort of roommate scenario, I found a studio apartment on the Upper East Side and transferred to Hunter College. The studio had a door to a "garden" with a table to eat outside. It was my first time living alone - I sewed curtains and cushions and made the space a home. It was beautiful and I loved it there until the mouse arrived. After my landlord stuffed the hole from where it came, the mouse couldn't get back outside so took up residence behind my stove - driving me nearly crazy. 

I was 19 years old and I quit my job at the health club and transferred to UC Riverside.
I never had another opportunity to live in the city again.
Of course, life's not over.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Coffee Promise

Reading and responding to Liz's tweet yesterday morning prompted me to contemplate my own coffee habit.

It's big. And it has a routine.

Ironically, it all begins minutes before I retire for the night: I prep the coffee maker. Cleaning the pot and catching a whiff of fresh grounds as I pour them into the filter is a promise of good things for the morning. 

I rise at six so I can enjoy an hour of quiet before waking the kids. As I walk to the shower,  I stop by the coffee machine and tap the "on" button. By the time I'm cleaned up, there is a full pot waiting.

Poured into a favorite mug and doused with a healthy splash of half and half (no sugar!) I return to my bedroom, dress and relax with my coffee while catching up on facebook, twitter and emails from the night before. It's my favorite part of the day.

Throughout the morning I drink coffee - while making breakfast for the kids, in my travel thermos on the way to school, a final cup when I get back before starting work.

Coffee Ice "Cubes" 
Around four in the afternoon I start jonesing for another cup. There are several different ways of going about this. The first, and least glamorous, is to simply reheat the morning's coffee. Alternatively, if it's a hot day I pour myself an iced coffee using what's left in the pot and coffee ice cubes made the day before. (That's right, the last thing I do with the puddle at the bottom of my pot is pour it into trays and pop them in the freezer. Coffee cubes mean I don't have to worry about a weak and watery drink.) Finally, I might get my afternoon coffee by brewing myself a single cup (using pour-over method) or taking myself out to a cafe.

Sadly, this entire routine is being somewhat thwarted by Invisalign, but I'm managing... Coffee is more than a drink for me - it's a symbol of renewal that promises a fresh start.

Of course, it also keeps me awake.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Invisalign and Eating

During the past four years I've been (cue sarcasm) lucky enough to have developed a tongue thrust in which - particularly at night when I'm clenching my teeth - my tongue presses against my teeth. The result is teeth that have shifted, leaving gaps and spaces that provide a less than perfect smile.

Never mind cosmetics, the fact is that - unless I do something - my teeth will continue to move outward until they eventually fall out. Seriously.

After consulting several orthodontists it was decided that Invisalign was the best choice for my particular issue. I'd spend 10 months straightening my teeth and then wear a retainer-type thing every night. Forever.

Wearing my Invisalign trays.
The process started ten weeks ago, but I've been wearing the trays for only four. The idea is that you wear these trays 22 hours a day - taking them out only to eat and drink. After you eat, you must brush both your teeth and the trays before returning them to your mouth.

This has been a HUGE disruption to my life. I like to spend the mornings sipping coffee. Meals aren't as big a part of my life as is snacking on almonds and berries. All. Day. Long.

Now, every time I want to take a bite or a taste of something the trays must be removed. And it's not an easy process. It takes me a few minutes. Sometimes I have to use a special tool to prod the plastic off my teeth.

Needless to say, I've been taking less bites, sips and tastes. It's not so easy to snack on grapes while driving home from the grocery store, stop for a quick coffee, taste food samples at CostCo or TJ's. I have to be much more mindful of when I eat and where there is a suitable place to brush my teeth after doing so.

I hate it. Nine more months to go.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Keyboard Tray

Fifteen years ago (give or take) my new live-in boyfriend (to eventually become my husband and then my ex) built a desk for me from two saw horses and a door. He claimed it was what all the cool studios were doing ...

Regardless of the "cool studios", the desk didn't work for me. I replaced the saw horses with two-drawer filing cabinets and set out to find a keyboard tray to make it a real desk.

I soon discovered that keyboard trays came in a variety of models - from a very simple roll out drawer to a platform that could be adjusted every which way for "correct ergonomic posture." Ergonomic language was just beginning to get popular and I decided that since I was going to be sitting at it all day, it would be best to be comfortable.

The tray I chose not only rolled in and out from under the desk, it also rotated right and left and the platform itself could be placed at an angle. It was more than a hundred dollars and a huge splurge for me at the time. Furthermore it was one of my first substantial online purchases. It came from an office supply store in New Jersey and took more than two weeks to arrive

The keyboard tray has been with me through three different desks (including the door) and has kept my wrists straight and my elbows at right angles and - despite thousands of hour in front of my computer since 1998 - I've not developed carpel tunnel syndrome.

Today it broke. And not in a way that can be fixed.

Swamped with work and hoping to get the job done quickly I rushed over to Office Depot thinking they'd have something. Nope. They suggested IKEA - a place that I would never ever venture on a Sunday afternoon.

So I'm online again - looking for keyboard trays. Funny: they haven't gone up (or down) much in price but there are many more from which to choose. What HAS changed is that I'm searching via Amazon instead of Yahoo. Furthermore, I'm limiting my search to "Amazon Prime" items so my tray will be on my doorstep by Wednesday.

I can hardly wait.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's Hair

Recently I took about six inches off the length of my hair. I did it in two steps - three inches at a time. The result is a chin length bob - straight and tidy. Friends on facebook used words like professional, sassy, sexy, sophisticated. The cafe owner around the corner said - you should have done this years ago. Acquaintances ask me how I feel about such a big change.

One part of me feels this is ridiculous. It's (only) hair. It grows back. Another part is relieved that those years of growth are shorn - those (dead) hair cells contained all the angst and drama and sadness from years ago - the hair that remains is newer and reflects the person I'm striving to be.

So when Maia asked to have her hair cut like mine I was only little surprised by my immediate rejection. True the time and energy saved by NOT having to  maintain her long locks would make both our lives easier, but her tangled mane contains so many memories and discussions and arguments and love...

Then I think - it's HAIR. Let's cut off her 10 inches and send them to Locks of Love so a child - who's loss of hair is truly emotionally and physically significant - can have a sense of normalcy.

I made an appointment for her next week. An old friend will be cutting Maia's hair - a stylist who gave Joe his first cut. Somehow this comforts me.

Maia will look adorable in a bob.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Election Year

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and come out of it realizing that neither of you understood what the other was saying? Even when speaking the "same" language our messages can be misinterpreted because words are like shells we've created around objects and feelings. They are fragile. We speak our own truths which are absorbed, shuffled and reorganized by the person to whom we talk. Once words leave the safety of our mouths, (head, heart) they become the property of those who have heard them. And they, dear speaker, can do anything they'd like with the colloquy offered. Everyone has an agenda and they will hear what is needed to fill it.

Words: they mean nothing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Retrospective Applications

Every day, two services - apps to which I subscribe - scan my social media feeds (facebook, twitter, instagram) and deliver an email to me that contains my posts from one day from the past.

Timehop sends my feed from exactly a year ago. It also tells me what the day and weather were like and if anything significant occurred. Best of all it gives me a pep talk, saying I'm awesome (or not) in a little note at the end of each report.

Offering a deeper look into your online life is Memolane - it too sends a daily email. Rather than limit itself to a single year, this service can reach back further and I find myself viewing tweets I wrote four years ago when at the age of seven, for example, Joe coined the word "republicat". I love being reminded of my son's quiet genius.

On the other hand, there is always a risk that I'll be reminded of a horrible day. In fact, it happens more often than I would like. Occasionally it gets me down, but more often I'm grateful for how far I've come.

There are other apps that are offering this service (foursquare, for one). Do you subscribe to any? Why do we find our own pasts so fascinating?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

One Summer with Mrs. Stahl

A twitter friend recently pointed me to an article in a local paper regarding a book being written about Knishes and featuring Mrs. Stahl's Potato Knishes - a store that was once owned by my great uncle Morris and his brother Sam. It was a family business and everyone worked there - at least for a little bit. This is a story about the few days I worked behind the counter. It is as I remember it, and I'm absolutely positively sure that my memory is flawed.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Should Have Named him Pimm

Adopting him was not something that was done spontaneously. I'd been thinking about it for nearly a year. Moses, my 88lb, 13-year-old shepherd, was getting old and seemed bored. Moreover, (and perhaps selfishly) I don't want to face an empty house when he passes. And, I wanted a smaller dog for lap cuddles and buoyant, unconditional love. I searched - mostly online resources like AdoptAPet.com and Craigslist - for several months until, on July 1, I stumbled across Sam's pictures.


I was immediately struck by his similar - though much smaller - appearance to Moses. Equally striking was his name, Sam, which is the name of the owner of a cafe I frequent... Sam owns the cafe with his brother, aptly named Moses. I figured it was a sign from the universe so I clicked through.

The link led me to facebook where an organization called Loup Garou was offering him for adoption. This organizations finds black dogs in high-kill shelters and fosters them until a forever-home can be found. Why black animals? Because they are the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. They just don't photograph well. They also look a tad scary.

I inquired about Sam's availability and they immediately responded that he was being neutered and would be available to visit in a week or so.

But July was a busy month and adopting a dog fell to the bottom of my list. When I finally emerged from the chaos of work, vacation and summer organization it was already August. I went back to the Loup Garou website assuming that Sam had already been adopted and hoping to find another dog who might interest me... but there was Sammy. Grinning and available and being shown that weekend at an adoption fair in San Francisco. Another sign.

I made arrangements to meet a friend for brunch near where the adoption fair was located. I'll remember it forever because it was an unusually gorgeous San Francisco day and we sat out on the back patio. She ordered a Pimm's Cup, which I'd never seen or heard of but looked delicious so I ordered one too. It's a beautiful refreshing drink made from Pimm's No.1, ginger ale, lime and garnished with cucumber (the essential ingredient.) I was mesmerized.

Two hours later and feeling light on my Pimm's-coated feet,  I strode down Market Street to meet Sam for the first time.

I was greeted with big hellos from the organizers and foster "parents" who had been advised I was coming to check out Sammy. They led me too him and there he was, busy playing with the other little pups, but quite clearly mine.

I signed some papers and took the little fellow home and now I can't imagine life without him... Or cucumber, ginger ale and Pimm's in my fridge. Cheers!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


In October of  2010 I participated in a YouTube project called "Vlogtober" in which I posted a daily vlog to my YouTube channel. It was an interesting exercise which I completely skipped last year. Now, in an attempt to get myself writing again, I'm pronouncing October 2012: Blogtober.

Every day this month I'll post something here on my blog. It may be useless trivia, a personal story, an app review... Who knows? But there will be something.

I'll hash tag these on twitter #blogtober - please join me. Let's blog.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Short Story and Haiku

Photo By Jo Naylor, flickr

Short Story
I smiled at a guy in the cafe. He started towards me and I got nervous. Then he walked past me to the bathroom.

My life is full of
short stories. Looking forward 
to a grand novel.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Dawn is Approaching

Being Silly
Last weekend Joe attended Cazadero Music Camp with a couple of hundred other 5th graders. On Sunday I drove up to see the concert they'd been working towards and to spend some "alone-time" with my son.

Joe and I had a good time together (with the caveat that he is a tween and goes from hating to loving me every 10 seconds.) We took lots of pictures.

Before bed on Sunday night (we stayed at Dawn Ranch Lodge - a gorgeous property about a half hour from camp Cazadero) Joe was inspired to write a poem. It's beautiful (if I do say so myself.)

The Russian River

The Dawn is Approaching 
by Joe Kesler (age 11)

Pulling the energy of life from the soil to the sky,
grooving to the very beat of the earth itself.
Each petal counting the days till dawn approaches.
For it is coming my friend,
it is.
Soon the soil will bloom,
Color rushes into the world.
The cold and harsh days of winter have faded my friend.
The flowers are coming.
The symbol of hope.
The dawn of the rainbow.
The end of the cold.
The sun is rising my friend.
It is almost here.
Petal by petal, the day awakens.
The new found life is almost here.
Away from the silence of the past.
The color of the world flow within the soil.
Soon my friend,
soon, the soil will break.
Endless beauty spills onto the world.
The dawn is approaching my friend.
The dawn of a new land.
The days of death are over.
It is almost here.
Colors of new and old are coming.
The cycle never strays.
The dawn is coming fast my friend.
A world of color is ahead.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Camera

For the past three months I've been learning how to create tablet publications for both iPad and Android devices. I happen to love reading magazines on the iPad - Wired is my favorite - so having the opportunity to add this to my arsenal of skills was incredibly appealing. Now–thanks to backing from one of my favorite clients, CUE, software created by Mag+, and a lot of hours of trial and error – I'm just about ready to publish the first OnCUE Quarterly journal to the Mac Newstand.

Last week also happened to be the annual CUE Conference in Palm Springs. I've been designing the conference collateral for six years but 2012 marks my first time attending. While there I was interviewed about the design process and the forthcoming OnCUE+ by CUE Live. You'll note that I seem a little uncomfortable and Maia asked why I say "um" so much, but at least I don't completely humiliate myself. Towards the end you'll see me smile and wave. That was because the CUE Executive Director walked by and I thought I'd say "hey." Forgot I was on camera. Dumb, huh?

Clearly I need to work a bit on my public speaking skills... but honestly, I'd rather spend my time making tablet publications. It's rewarding.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sex Education

"Ahhhhhh! There is blood on the toilet seat!" Joe screamed, running out of the bathroom.

"Oh, shoot, I'm sorry, I have my period and must have had an accident. I'll clean it up."

He looks at me, my baffled 10 year old and says, "you bleed when you have your period? I thought you were just super grumpy."

I'd had the talk about sex and reproduction with Joe, in fact, it's not been a taboo subject in my household at all (as illustrated by my response to his disgust), so I looked back at him - just as baffled - and said "let me explain it again."

I drew the ovaries and the fallopian tubes and the uterus and the vagina and explained how every month an egg is released and travels to the uterus and if it's not fertilized by a sperm it needs to come out an that is a period. Every woman has one. "Some of your friends at school probably already have it. I got mine when I was 9 ...."

"So are you saying that Maia will get her period someday?" he asked.

"Yes." Someday his baby sister would, indeed, get her period.

He responded, "So you're saying you will BOTH have your periods and you will BOTH be super grumpy every month?"

And that is how I knew my boy had become a man.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just Like That

While cleaning my office this week I came across a story that my son Joe wrote last year. I think it's worth sharing - particularly since he turned 11 last week.

Just Like That
by Joe Kesler

Hi, you'll probably need to know a little bit about me before I tell you my story. Well, I live in Berkeley, CA. I have a dog named Mo, and I'm eight years old. Oh, and my birthday is in nine days. Right now we are picking my grandparents up from the airport. My Grandpa is pretty nice, but likes to play jokes. Once he bought a fart machine and it started making some really nasty sounds! Who knows what he'll whip up this time! My Grandma is sweet, but a little too over protective. She always makes me wear a jacket and is constantly asking if I'm hungry. Oh look, There they are! Time for hugs and kisses!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Joe, happy birthday daaaaay toooo yoooouuuu. Now and forever I'm officially nine.

It's crazy. Just like that. I'm nine. nothing changed. I sat down deep in my own thoughts, not even listening to the whoopee cushion my grandpa had deployed. Just like that. I thought that when I turned nine I would be big and strong and ... You know what? None of that matters, the only thing that matters is that I'm happy! And I am big, I am strong ... in my heart .... Just like that.

Joe on his eleventh birthday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Letter from Abroad

A good friend of mine has moved (temporarily I hope) to Thailand and he sent me this letter and photograph today. It is charming so I thought I would share it here.

This clan is fixing my first meal of the day pretty much since I moved into this apartment. They run a little street kitchen about a half block from my place. The lady on right makes the coffee, the two on the left do the cooking, and the guy waits the tables, or rather, the one table.

It has taken me five days to get through to them what I want.  The first day I ate there I saw them serve a basil chicken over rice with a beaten and fried egg on the side.  I wasn't fast enough to point to it and say, I want that.  The first time I tried to order it I got fried rice with egg and chicken all mixed together.  The second day I got them to keep the egg separate but It wasn't scrambled.  The third day I got the egg separate and scrambled but still the fried rice. Finally, today I got the scrambled egg on the side with plain rice and basil chicken on top.  Fortunately it has all been tasty.  

When I asked if I could take their picture today they were really happy to oblige.  Only the coffee lady seemed a little shy, perhaps uncertain that I wanted her in the photo. But when I waved her over she lit up and jumped right in with the others.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Relatively Maternal

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to be in NYC and saw the Broadway production of Relatively Speaking. The show is a collection of one-act plays written by Ethan Coen, Elaine May and Woody Allen with Direction by John Turturro. Actors include Marlo Thomas, Julie Kavner and Steve Guttenberg ... wow.

Naturally I walked into the theater with expectation of being royally regaled. I was not disappointed. However I was completely taken off guard by the force of emotion that railed through me during the second performance. The PR blurb states "In George is Dead, Elaine May explores the hilarity of death" and that is what I expected. 

But that's not what I got.

Marlo Thomas (a hero of mine from days of That Girl and Free to be You and Me) doesn't disappoint as the incredibly spoiled socialite and suddenly widowed Doreen. But the real star is Lisa Emery who plays Carla Kerns, a frazzled woman desperately trying to make everyone happy - all to her own detriment. 

The story is doled out slowly, delicately, and then, shocking in its revelation of how these characters are related. It is not at all about the "hilarity of death" and I wonder how or why Elaine May allowed those words to describe her work.

In fact, George Is Dead isn't about death at all. It IS about a middle aged woman's desperate, and ultimately fruitless, quest for maternal approval. Her crusade is so encompassing that it destroys her marriage, career and self confidence. The failures are hers.

I sobbed after that play. Couldn't catch my breath. People stared. I didn't care. 
What does that say about me?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Homeless Man

Every day when I take the kids to school we walk by a homeless man sitting in his wheelchair holding out a paper cup. I never give him money. I don't have any to spare.

Yesterday I spontaneously stopped and said, "I'm sorry, I walk by you every day and I never give you money. I wish I could, but I was barely able to pay my rent this month."

He said "Oh NO your family comes first! What's your name, I'm Walter."

So I shook his glove-covered hand and introduced myself.

"Cori," he said, "someday I hope to be in a position to help you. Yeah, I'd like to help you. Have a wonderful day."

And I did. 
So he did.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Flaw in The Golden Rule

Yesterday I wrote about my 2012 resolution to be kind and I claimed The Golden Rule as my definition of kindness.

I'm wrong.

The Golden Rule (in all it's incarnations) asks you to do to other as you'd like them to do to you. In its simplest form this can be beautiful – a well-meant smile or a sincere compliment – but the phrase itself is selfish. Who's to say if others want to be treated the way you like. For example, some women think that a gentleman should open the door for her and others accuse the act as a statement of implied weakness.

Kindness and The Golden Rule, I've decided, are not interchangeable. Instead, kindness – in the deeper sense than general politeness – means to do to others as they'd like you to do to them. It means looking beyond yourself and standing - as best you can - in their shoes. Respect the person to whom you are communicating by having due regard for their feelings, wishes, rights, and traditions.

Maybe you're the kind of person that welcomes a warm hug as a greeting; others don't. If you know someone isn't a touchy person, greet them with a smile and (if you must) a pat on the shoulder. A mundane example perhaps, but it illustrates my point.

And so I revoke The Golden Rule as a definition of kindness and place in its stead politeness and respect. My revised 2012 resolution.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Be Kind

In addition to choosing a theme word for 2012, I've also resolved to be kind.

Kindness means all sorts of things to different people. For me, it means to do to others as I'd like them to do to me. If I were Christian, I'd point you to Luke 6:31, the Golden Rule. As a Jew I might tell you read Leviticus 19:18 and hope that I am close enough to be considered a neighbor. Of course, you don't have to dig far to see that every religion has a version of this commandment in its scripture.

When I lived in New York City, a gazillion years ago, I had a roommate from Wisconsin who would say, "kill 'em with kindness." I loved the phrase and began the practice myself. Very quickly I learned that kindness is an extremely effective weapon. A grumpy cab driver or store clerk would visibly relax when greeted with a genuine "hello" and a smile. Saying "thank you" or "I hope you have a great afternoon" would illicit a surprised grin. Smiles are contagious and excellent for maintaining mental health. Did the next customer receive a smile as well? How many people "caught" the original smile bug that began with me?

Being kind also means taking a moment to think before reacting or speaking. My first response to someone being crass might be to defensively return the sentiment. But if I can remember to pause and consider this person's stories (known and not) I might be able to forgive the words and respond with kindness. Perhaps they are dealing with life changes, maybe they got some bad news, it's possible that someone just insulted them or yelled or ... the point is, being kind won't add to their misery and it might just help.

So, if I'm called a bitch by the gardener? Instead of yelling back or taking it personally I could say, "oh gosh, I'm sorry you're having a bad day." Do you think my response would incite him to call me more names? It's possible, but not likely.

Be kind and thrive. It's my 2012.

UPDTATE: Shortly after writing this I decided that there is a major flaw in the Golden Rule and kindness is not its equivalent. You can read it here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The first man I dated after leaving my marriage told me I was a wreck and that I wouldn't be normal for two years. He said it with such certainty that it couldn't be anything but true. This statement - which I took as fact - carried me through the weeks and months that followed. Everything would be OK by the end of 2010 <video>. "I'd be normal."

Funny thing. He was right.

So by the beginning of 2011 I'd reached a new normal. I'd gotten through the divorce and its aftermath. My ex had settled in with his girlfriend - a woman liked by both the kids and me. Online dating lost its intrigue and I gave it up in the first quarter of the year. Concentrating on my new(ish) roll of single mom, I tried my best to conquer the challenges and relish the joys. It's a journey that won't end anytime soon, but it's no longer one that scares me.

So now it's 2012 and I can confidently claim that this particular stage in my life is over. All the energy and effort placed on pushing through the last three years can be forayed towards living a better life. There is a lot I'd like to accomplish in the next several years. I've got things to do and places to go and children to raise and a business to grow. And there isn't anything holding me back anymore. There are no excuses.

On December 31, 2009 NPR suggested summarizing the year in a single word. I chose "transition". And then, in an exercise suggested by a group of friends, I decided on a theme word for 2010 - it was momentum. A verb that I carried all the way through 2011.

Momentum has pushed me along for two years and I've come out the other side. The time has come to change the word and move forward and grow strong. Thrive.

Thrive. It's my theme word for 2012. What's yours?