Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Katie's Cancer

There is no doubt that Katie was my best friend in high school, with all that such a title implies. We did the usual: parties, proms, concerts, hours on the phone. One of my most vivid memories of high school (other than feeding jello shots to my dog) was Katie driving at least six of us in her parents' big blue bomb of a car up to Saratoga to see Tom Petty (or one of at least ten other concerts). We each chipped in a buck for gas, rolled down the windows (with a crank), blasted the radio, and snuck sips out of our Mickey Wide-Mouths while on the lookout for the state troops that patroled 87 North. In those days, no one worried too much about drunk driving. In those days, it was more about giggling and impressing boys than getting drunk or speeding. In those days...well, it was all just no big deal.

Really, though, best friend meant we were at each other's houses all the time and compared mean parent stories and kept an eye on the other one's boyfriend to make sure he wasn't getting too friendly with someone else in the cafeteria. What I admired about Katie, other than the way her strawberry blonde hair did this natural Farrah-flip, was the way she liked everyone...she was buddies with the guys on the bowling team...actually, she was ON the bowling team: cute, smart, funny Katie whom all the guys liked. She didn't worry too much about who was cool. She just was looking for the fun people, the nice people.

When I got her email a couple weeks ago, we hadn't been in touch much beyond the birthday-Christmas card thing. She has four kids, she lives in Virginia now and doesn't come home for the holidays anymore because her parents moved away, I'm really busy with my family and job...but I always thought of her as being there, somewhere, as somebody that I would hopefully reconnect with when things got less crazy. Maybe in 2018, when the kids graduate from high school? Anyway, she was emailing me about my favorite teacher, who had recently passed away, and I did the "Hey, that's funny, I was just thinking about you" thing, because I was. Out of the blue, the day before, I thought, I wonder how Katie's doing?

Turns out Katie doing just fine -- except that she has breast cancer. Recently diagnosed, just started treatment. I had so many emotions when she told me, via email. My husband had to restrain me from calling her, because it was 10:30 at night when I read it. It's probably a good thing he did, because I was a mess. I won't get into all the worries that ran through my mind, because Katie is looking forward and feeling positive, and there's no reason to go there. However, part of it was the shock of Katie, here and now, at 41. To me, Katie is sixteen. She is free and light and sunny. It doesn't make sense that when I wasn't looking, she grew up and got...cancer. It probably sounds ridiculous and a little selfish, because obviously she's not a teenager any more. It's just that, on some level, I still wanted to think of us as "US."

The good news -- and there's lot of it -- is that Katie is still Katie: sunny, optimistic, laughing at every turn. Maybe that means that hopefully there's still some of that sixteen-year-old me left, and Katie and I are still "us." I hope so, because I'd like to think that I can still make her snort milk through her nose once in a while. I mean, that's gotta be good therapy.

I just re-read this, and it sounds like I'm thinking of Katie's cancer only in terms of me. I'm not, but that's not something I want to share here now. I realize how something like this can affect so many other people, in ways that Katie didn't predict.

You've got to check out Katie's Breast Cancer Blog. You'll see just how funny and smart and BRAVE she is. and if you know anyone going through chemo, this will give you a pretty good idea of what they're going through. Yeah, she's definitely the same girl I knew in the BCHS Class of '83 -- only better.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to me

Memories are made up of little moments much more than big ones. I guess this is another way of saying the devil is in the details. Today is my 41st birthday.

Last year -- the Big Four-Oh -- there was a big party, a trip to New York City, and lots of hoopla. I loved it, don't get me wrong. I am NOT one of those people who doesn't like being the center of attention. Last year, I got lots of attention from lots of people.

This year -- the Ho-Hum Four-One -- no hoopla. I woke up when my kids jumped in bed with me, snuggling up and saying, "Happy Birthday, Mommy!" My husband (let's call him Milt) made me eggs for breakfast while I packed my sons' backpacks for school. He drove them to school, kissing me good-bye when he left and wishing me a fun day. At 9:00 am, a very nice lady came to the house and gave me a massage -- a gift from Milt. An hour later, I was a gooey pile of mush (I love massages).

I met two of my very good friends for sushi downtown, and Milt joined us. We had some good fish and some good laughs. The best is that my friend Robin, who knows I love a good snack cake, got me two industrial-sized boxes: one of Ring Dings and one of Devil Dogs.

I hung out with my boys when they got home from school, until they'd had enough of "Mom's birthday" and went to play video games. I did some work on the computer and fielded callls from some friends and my parents. When Milt came home, we did gifts and cards with the kids, then went over to my best friend Dina's house for a Rosh Hashanah/birthday dinner. Her mom was there, and they made a pleasant fuss. We had some holiday food, drank a couple bottles of wine and just hung out. Her kids and mine spent 5 minutes eating and 3 hours playing. We joked that both the kids and the husbands were well-behaved. We were home by 9:30. After the kids went to bed, Milt and I watch the season premier of Numbers. I really like that show.

Memories is made of little moments much more than big ones. This was the best day. Everyone I saw I really loved. I felt cherished by my friends and family, honored in little important ways, like the funky birthday cake Dina got from the bakery and the outfit from my favorite over-priced store that Milt picked out all by himself which is actually tasteful and properly fitting. No hoopla, not parties, but some heartfelt good wishes. Lots of little moments that I want to hold on to.

Happy Birthday to me. I hope when it's your birthday, you have at least a couple little moments to celebrate who you are.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Men Friends

I just came back from a trip to New York City, where I got together with two friends of mine -- let's call them Frank and Red -- for a night of drinks, dinner, and conversation. It was a pretty typical "old college buddies" night, except that they were guys -- specifically, two men that I met when we all lived in the same dorm freshman year of college. We realized that we've been friends for 23 years now...

In talking with some of my girl friends, it seems that few of them have actual real-live, good old fashioned male friends; you know, the kind of person that you've known for a million years and with whom you can talk about anything.

I wonder why that happens. I think it has something to do with the suspicion of sexual attraction that seems to lurk around many male-female friendships -- not between the two friends, but as imputed by others. Many a good boy-girl relationship has been ruined by a jealous boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse. If we assume that we are supposed to get our allocation of opposite sex-intimacy from our significant other (a flawed supposition but a common one), then perhaps our partner is left to wonder -- why does she need HIM when she has ME?

It could also have something to do with Harry's assertion in When Harry Met Sally, that all inter-gender friendships entail some degree of sexual attraction, and hence it's understandable that our significant others would feel threatened by our boy-girl "friendships," as they are really sexual in nature. Hmmm. Maybe my old friends are just potential relationships that I've back-burned for twenty-odd years, in case my marriage tanks??

For the record, I doubt it. I love Frank and Red, and in fact in college, I went on a few dates with Frank. I'm attracted to both of them -- they are smart, funny, yes, handsome, but most importantly, they are my friends, with all that entails. We've got lots of old stories and common experiences, we talk about our family and kids, we debate politics, we get drunk together, eat too much, and we have each other's backs. I know without a doubt that I could call either of them in the middle of the night and ask for help, and I would get it. Period. So, yes, I'm attracted to them -- but it's not sexual. It's the attraction I feel for any of the many wonderful people in my life whom I love and who love me back.

The conversation with Frank and Red covered the gambit from why the Democrats are so inept at garnering public support to vasectomies v. IUDs to how our aging parents are driving up crazy -- you know, pretty much the same things I cover with my girlfriends. I would hate to give up a friendship like that just because Frank and Red have different plumbing than I do.

I will admit, it can get a bit trickier with newer friends. There seems to be a mistrust of the friendly guy in the office or that woman in class who lets you borrow her notes and sits with you to have coffee: are they just trying to get laid? I generally take the companionable men I meet at face value. I'm happily married, so I'm not looking for a little action on the side. Thus, a friendly face is just that, regardless of whether it's on a man or a woman.

Usually I find you get what you give -- friendship and good conversation usually gets returned. And you know, I've even made some new friends lately -- does it really matter that they pee standing up?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Language of Grief

I was just on-line with a friend that I hadn't spoken to in a while, and he told me that his mom just passed away. My first impulse was to pick up the phone and make a condolence call, but I realized that I didn't have his phone number. He is one of those people in my life whom I rarely see, but will always like and admire. Email is pretty much our sole source of communication, as it is somehow just enough to stay in touch.

I therefore did my best to express my thoughts electronically, via IM. It has the advantage of being instantaneous, like a written conversation, although, still somehow it seemed a bit weird,a post-modern we-all-live-in-our-basement kind of thing. But this is our preferred medium of communication in so many instances.

There is nothing like the loss of a parent. What amazes me is how many people have lost a mom or a dad and yet go on, functioning, with this big hole in their heart. It's really an expected part of life, that eventually you will outlive your parents, but nonetheless, it's heart-wrenching in a way that you never get completely back to what feels like your old carefree self.

As I was trying to writing about this to my friend, I was tearing up. It occurred to me that in IM speak, we can LOL -- but how do we COL -- cry out loud? And if we could, would we? It's okay to be bitter, sarcastic, happy, manic, angry, sleepy, depressed, even drunk -- just don't be sad. Unfiltered, uncontained sadness makes us too uncomfortable. Other cultures feature wailing and the rending of garments upon the loss of a loved one. In America, our idol is Jackie Kennedy, who was stoic and strong after the assasination of JFK. It's not that I don't admire her, too -- who wouldn't? But where is the room in our society for the normal human emotion of grief and sadness? Where is that language?

I hope wherever he is, my friend is having a good cry for his mom. I'm sure she deserves it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Doesn't anybody give a damn about anything any more?

I have to come out of off retirement to shout this call into the wilderness: don't we Americans care about ANYTHING that happens around us or to us?

Exxon Mobil posted a profit of $36 billion.

I can't figure out why people aren't jumping up and down and demanding action. Don't we realize how much power is behind this amount of money, and how much influence over our government and our lives? This is exactly the reason that we have anti-trust laws to protect us.

I paid $3 a gallon to fill up my gas tank today. I could swallow it if there were some kind of world-wide oil crisis that was squeezing everyone. Clearly, however, what is being squeezed is the American people by the oil companies.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I've decided to make it official: I'm taking a hiatus from blogging. I only have so many brain cells that I can devote to writing, it turns out, and I'm working on another majore writing project, which has caused me to neglect my treasured NileBlog...but better to make a clean break than to simply fade away...

I'm still HERE, but I won't be writing for a while. I will, however, keep listening to you guys.

Good luck.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Belated Review of Coach

It's no secret that many of us in the infamous blogging class were in turns intimidated, impressed, and bemused by our celebrity prof, Coach. No doubt, he's a funky and intriguing guy who fell for us despite his best efforts to remain aloof.

It was thus with a certain amount of pride that I watched him moderate "Our Favorite Authors" at the Bushnell last Saturday night. For those of you who couldn't make it, Coach was witty and urbane, with his self-deprecating humor, and he skillfully moderated an awkward mix of authors: the blinding funny but slightly awe-struck Jennifer Weiner; the crusty, doomday-speaking Kurt Vonnegut, who clearly was playing at being a curmudgeon; and the smart, bristly Joyce Carol Oates, who repeated skewered Vonnegut's role-playing and displayed a sense of humor so dry it crackled.

Coach kept the pace going and did what he could to prevent open warfare between Oates and Vonnegut (I had to go with Oates on most of the pickering, as Vonnegut was just plain nasty at points). You could also see that he trying to be protective of Weiner, who took a couple jabs from Vonnegut right on the chin.

The whole night was amazing, listening to two of the great intellects of our age verbally spar, although Weiner held her own and kept the audience laughing. She probably is laughing all the way to bank, anyway, as they say, because her books sell like wild. I haven't seen Cameron Diaz in any Vonnegut movies recently, have you?

I felt like a proud little sister. I told pretty much everyone within earshot that Coach was my professor last semester, although I did comment to my companion that he wasn't nearly this funny in class -- he definitely brought his A game to the event.

Fellow blog-classers, you would have been proud, too. And lest you think our star has faded, when I mentioned to someone that I just met that I took a blogging class with Coach last fall, she said, "Oh yeah, I heard about that." Turns out that she had received the survey one of us sent out in connection with the final paper. So I guess we're famous, too.

The Better of Me

Okay, I'm back from a week of complete panic. Last Friday (2/3) I had an MRI of my back, because I've been having major back problems for months. My GP, who ordered the test, called and said unceremoniously, "Your back is really messed up." He then went on to tell me that I appeared to have degenerative disk disease, arthritis in my back, and would probably have to curtail a number of my favorite activities, like skiing, skating, sledding, etc. Oh, and also, the nice folks that read the MRI saw some weird stuff that they couldn't explain, so I'd have to get a bone scan to rule out a potentially life-threatening infection -- which my dr. said I definitely didn't have because I didn't have any symptoms but he still had to rule it out.

This all sent me into a tizzy. My mother is crippled with arthritis and has had two back surgeries, so one of my biggest health concerns is NOT getting arthritis. I also desparately wanted to see my orthopedic dr., whom I trust and who is familar with my back saga, because I've had issues for years. I couldn't get into see him, or to get the bone scan, until yesterday, i.e., one week late.

Now, a week may not sound like a long time, but I spent that week researching degenerative disk disease, reading about back surgery, and trying to figure out the future of arthritis treatment. I was pretty convinced that, even though I have young children, I would never be able to really PLAY with them again. I've had maternal fantasies of teaching them to ski this year, and we all love to go on our trampoline. The biggest loss to me would be that I would no longer be "Fun Mom," but would be consigned to reading books and playing cards with them -- fine activities, but not the entire range of my repetoire. With every twinge of my back, I thought, "My God, it's only going to get worse. I'm too young to feel this way for the rest of my life." I also wondered how I could possible handle recovering from back surgery with my kids -- 3 weeks at least of bed rest -- and that possible life-threatening infection, even if almost impossible, was a nag. Let's just say I didn't get a lot of sleep.

By the time Friday (yesterday) rolled around, I was a mess. It didn't help that I've been in constant pain for about 2 months to begin with. I went to see Dr. Ortho with a pit in my stomach. He walked in all business, having already reviewed my entire file and my recent MRI. He assured me that I did not have disk disease or arthritis, and while I DO have a screwed-up back, it's the same screwed up back I've had for years. It all relates to a small broken bone in my back that I've had since I was a teen-ager. It may look awful on an MRI, but with some special exercises and some good pain meds, I'd probably be fine in a couple weeks. When he told me this, I promptly burst into tears, much to his and my husband's chagrin. "But I'm so limited right now, any time I do any activity, it hurts. I can't take it." He again assured me that I would probably be okay in a few weeks, and I could do anything I wanted, even ski. Hopefully I would never need surgery. And if I did something and it hurt, I wasn't going to make my back worse. He also said that there was no sign whatsoever of any infection, so I didn't need to get a bone scan.

In retrospect, I feel like I was being silly and dramatic, thinking life as I knew it was over for me. Unfortunately, a little information got the better of me and played on my deepest fears. As I was lying there getting the MRI, I actually thought, "This is a bad idea," because that kind of scan often turns up all kinds of scary things that turn out to be nothing. I was definitely better off before I knew how awful my back looked in 3-D.

On the bright side, though, I've got some good painkillers, and I'm so busy sucking my belly button in as hard as I can during every waking moment (this is one of the key exercises I have to do), that I don't have time to worry about my back. And all that sucking-in makes my waist look smaller and my boobs look bigger. Go figure.

Friday, January 27, 2006

On Being Mom

I love my children with all my heart. I have twin boys, aged 7, going on 16, going on 2. They are big, blond, cute, funny, smart, and a royal pain in the ass.

There, I said it. Most kids are a pain in the ass a lot of the time. I think we could relieve many parents and children from the unrealistic expectations which we put on them if we could more openly acknowledge a fundamental principle of parenting: it's often no fun at all.

I left a thriving career as an attorney in part because I felt perpetually inadequate as a mother. Parenting is very demanding, and so is lawyering. My clients expected me to be on-call 24 hours a day. So did my kids. Obviously, my clients paid more, but I felt that being with my kids after school, and being mentally present, as opposed to on the phone or the computer, was more important. So here I am: being a mom, and trying to teach/write/go to school on the off-hours.

Yesterday was a particularly tough day. The boys griped at me since the moment I picked them up from school. "Did you bring us a treat?" they demanded as they got in the car. "Why don't you ever give us a treat anymore?"

Actually, I did have the aforementioned "treat" -- the coveted Fruit By the Foot, 3 feet of compressed sugar and food coloring sprinkled with a bit of apple juice, so General Mills can put the word "fruit" in the title to relieve parental guilt about plying them with candy.

As I handed them the box -- with a stern lecture about saying thank you and appreciating small gestures, instead of demanding them -- a fight promptly ensued over who got what flavor. This was a completely unnecessary altercation, as it was an unopened "variety pack" with two of each flavor. Since they could each have only one, they could both have what they wanted, no risk of shortage, and p.s., they both like different flavors anyway. Nonetheless, at least in the world I live in, there is apparently a great deal of risk of UNFAIRNESS, so there is always a hue and cry arising over some perceived lack there of: "That's not fair!" is definitely the team motto.

Lest you think that I am raising untamed heathens with no discipline whatsoever, let me assure you that the skirmish concluded with another stern warning from me that there would no treats from me for a few days, because of the lack of gratitude and needless arguing. This prompted a chorus of "Thank you, thank you, thank you so much," and "It's not my fault, he started it" (our other team motto).

We got home from school around 3:45, and there were demands all around for snacks. These demands were not met, of course, until I got the required "please" in front of the "Make me some popcorn!" From there, I dealt with video games (25 minutes each, take turns, no arguing, hitting, or feet stomping when your turn is up), homework:

"You won't help me! You NEVER help me!"

Me (calmly): "I'm happy to help, but I'm not going to DO your homework for you. Do the reading, then we'll talk about it."


"Do not raise your voice."

"I hate homework, my teacher is SO STUPID!"

(Less calm): "Do NOT disrespect teachers in this house!"

"You NEVER help me!" (tears of recrimination)

(No calmness whatsoever): "Now I WON'T help you. Put that homework away and ask Dad to help when he gets home!"

And so on, and so forth, until as we sat down for an early 4:30 dinner before I took them to wrestling practice. Of course, there were complaints about the type of pasta ("Spaghetti?!"), who sat where ("My turn in the good seat!"), and who got served first/more ("Not fair!").

If you are exhausted reading this, imagine how I felt. Relentless, constant correction and discipline is absolutely NO FUN. In fact, as I sat there watching them eat dinner, all I could think is, "I've got to get a full-time job." They didn't seem to enjoy having me home, and frankly, I wasn't enjoying them a whole lot either. It's like having clients who complaint constantly that I'm the meanest, most unfair, most unreasonable lawyer in the world, AND they don't pay their bills.

Maybe as you read this, you think, "Geez, what out of control kids." On the other hand, if you've spent any time around seven-year-old boys, you may think, "Sounds pretty typical."

I took them to wrestling practice, after telling my younger (by a half hour) son that he was going to have to pay me the $100 wrestling fee from his allowance if he whined about going one more time (I'm convinced we're raising a generation of complainers and quitters, but that's another story). For the first time, I decided to stay and watch the whole practice, since at the last one, the coach said that they hadn't paid attention and had distracted some of the other kids.

I stayed and watched, sitting with another mom on a folded-up mat in a corner of the gym. My boys did the warm-up laps, calestenics, races, and instruction with all the other kids, most of whom are much older. They then did wrestling drills, wrestling each other or different kids while the coaches looked on giving tips. Whenever they caught my eye, I smiled and winked or gave them a subtle thumbs up. When one of them started crying because he got taken down by a smaller boy, and wandered over to complain, I gave him his water bottle and told him to go back to his group. They worked hard, tried hard, and their rallying cry of "it's not fair" was almost non-existent.

At the end of practice, the coach came over to us as we were leaving and said, "You boys did a great job today. I'm really proud of you. Keep up the good work." To me, he said, "It's like night and day between this practice and other ones."

I knew why. It's because I stayed. It's because Mom was watching, keeping tabs, paying attention. It made all the difference.

Kids are a pain in the butt, no doubt about it. Being a mom means constantly nagging, correcting, disciplining. Telling them to brush their teeth, make their beds, wear underwear, find socks, zip up their coats, remember their backpacks, do their homework, say thank you, stop fighting, don't complain eat some fruit turn off the TV drink your milk put on your pajamas pick up your room it's time for bed don't come out of your room again good-night for the last time no you don't need another drink of water. Moms are often every bit as much a pain in the butt to kids as they are to us. We're killjoys. We're also the conscience, the sounding board, the yardstick, the guardian, the ultimate authority, and, if we're lucky, the bedrock solid foundation of our kids' lives.

It's not much fun sometimes. Sometimes it's downright unpleasant. But I think, if I keep at it, they might grow up to be nice young men. Maybe they would anyway, but I'm not taking any chances.

Why aren't you wearing socks?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pausing on a Sunday Night

Sunday evening melancholy often hits me hard, and I end up lying in bed, unable to sleep, trying to figure out if life is full of futility or purpose. Tonight I'm feeling more focused than usual, because classes resume tomorrow at the college where I teach, and I'm putting the finishing touches on my syllabus (can't you tell?)

Tonight, the Sunday night sum-up is pretty good. I've been thinking about friends a lot. I spent Thursday night having dinner and conversation with some relatively new friends. At this point in my life, it's pretty rare that I have time and opportunity to make new friends, especially male friends. I meet people all the time, but they tend to be women about my age, with children. It looks like I might actually be making some nice friends who are both older and younger than me, with completely different lives, issues, careers, etc. It's kinda nice. Thanks Bill, Brett, and Patti, for a nice evening.

I spent Saturday going to New York with my two college roommates to celebrate the 40th birthday of another college friend. We went to a surprise 70's theme costume party. Most of my college friends were there, and we had a great time dancing, drinking, and reminiscing. I love being with them because they are all great people who are funny, smart, and fun. Also, for a few hours, we got to be who we've always been with each other -- Staci, Lucy, Jan, Val, Debbie, El, Renee, Charlie, Matt, Gary, etc. No getting acquainted, no summing up, and no trying to impress. I look at them and they seem mostly the same as when I was partying with them at Cornell twenty years ago...and they see me the same way. There's comfort and security in knowing that we've got each others' backs forever, no questions asked.

It's hard, maybe impossible, to get to the same place with new friends. The college folks have years of joint misadventures, shared trust, and growing up together behind them. Nonetheless, I like making new friends (sounds a little trite, but how else do I say it?) Just as I like reliving my past with my old buddies, I like sharing my present with the new ones. Plus, new friends challenge me. My college gang is made up mostly of people like me...similar life experiences, similar views, similar ages. Newer acquaintances aren't necessarily drawn from a readily available pool of women my own age, like I had in college. Hence, I hear new views, new ways of looking at things, new perspectives. All of which makes my life more interesting.

As Jan and I took the train back from NYC this afternoon, she fell asleep reading her book. She was snoring a little and it made me chuckle. I sat there as the train swayed, drinking soda, reading a little, and looking at the houses and trees rushing by the window. Completely peaceful, completely comfortable. Being friends, having friends. That's something I can count on on Sunday night.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back at ya, folks

First of all, thanks for the encouragement from you guys out there. Sometimes I just have to let my hair down once in a while and look at the bugs crawling on the underside of the log. Having done so, I can hopefully turn that sucker back over and walk on with some more confidence.

For the first time in my adult life, I am not gainfully over-employed and working like a fiend to juggle a million different things. This semester, I stepped it down to teaching one class twice a week, and taking a class at Trinity on Tuesdays. This is a change, as I tend to compulsively fill my days with work and "stuff," so I feel like I am accomplishing something. I chose this less-is-more approach on purpose, because I wanted to give myself a chance to see what develops, especially with my erstwhile writing career. If I keep myself busy with the business that I plan, how can I ever have something unexpected? And as my hubby says, why can't I just fucking relax and enjoy myself once in a while?

I just finished this great book, Tales from the Bed. It's about a woman with ALS, and how she finds her life work as she's dying. She finds it's work that gives her life meaning. I get that. My work has always been one of the driving forces for me. Without it, without a "I have to get up and go do this right now," I'm floundering a bit.

But not to worry (I say to myself). I am going to create my work right now. My goals are at least one hour of writing per day. Starting now. Let's see how that goes. I have to have faith that from that, something will grow.

But enough about me. How YOU doin?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

On the edge of the abyss

My friend Bill sent me an email that basically said, "Where ya been?" First of all, I appreciated that someone actually notice and/or cared that I'd been neglecting my blogging. Second, it of course set off a chain reaction of guilt that I had somehow let people down by NOT writing anything lately.

I realize the absurdity in my guilt. But alas, it's who I am. I haven't been blogging because I've been immersed, more or less happily, in playing with my kids, cleaning out my closets, and getting ready for the upcoming semester of teaching. That's part of it. However, only part.

I actually play things pretty close to the vest. Nonetheless, Bill's email hit some kind of nerve, so I'll tell you -- aided by the fact that it's Saturday night and I'm freshly gorged on French food and good wine -- the unvarnished truth.

I want to be a writer. I've got about 60 pages of a novel finished, and another one under way. However, I stand on the edge of a vast, simmering cauldron of self-doubt, wondering how I have the audacity to think I can actually ever finish a book that would be worth reading. Case in point, I've only got about 3 readers of this blog at last count, and I've disappointed them. My sense is that real writers are driven, compulsively, to write, despite the fact that there are a million other things in their lives that demand their time. My friend Brett wants to be a writer, and he writes all the time, and even put a novel online. Colin, who is in many ways an inspiration, is all over the place writing, talking, blogging.

I, on the other hand, have started about a zillion witty, fascinating posts in my head, and yet rarely seem to get around to putting anything on the damn computer. This clearly indicates some kind of character flaw on my part.

I was having lunch with Linda (you don't know her, but I'm trying not to compulsively say "my friend," which reminds me of My Friend Flicka, a tragically sad story, but that's off-topic), and she said, "What do you want to do that you haven't yet." Of course, the book thing jumped to the forefront. I want to write a book.

But this is hard. And hard to admit. I'm probably just another average Jane trying to get by. I may fool myself into thinking that I'm good at some things, that I've made some good connections with people, but I think writers are special. I'm not sure I've got the goods to deliver. Writers are right up there with earthly gods to me, because they create connections between people, complete strangers, that draw us together and help explain our lives. I can't help wonder: what can I possibly add to that dialogue?

I'm not asking you to rush in and encourage me. "Come on, old girl, you can do it." Nope, I'm really not fishing for praise. This is it is. That seemingly endless well of derision and self-doubt that I tend to keep lidded somehow scorches to a roaring boil when I sit still and try to write. It makes it hard. Very hard. So I make excuses about all of the other perfectly legitimate things I need to do before I get started/keep going/finish up. So maybe I'm not a real writer. Sorry Bill.