mary’zine #42: January 2010

The decade began with Y2K and ended with WTF. —Andy Borowitz

Where has the time gone? I started writing this ‘zine 10 years ago, as the world held its breath in anticipation of the great computer disaster of all time. On December 31 I was partying like it was 1999 (cuz it was) when a client in Austria e-mailed me to say that his midnight had come and gone with no apparent problems. The first crisis of the new century averted (the only one, seems like).

I have mixed feelings about being old(ish). I’m glad I’m not just starting out in life, facing the dearth of jobs and the imminent loss of the polar ice caps (5 years, according to Al Gore). But I would be very curious to see what Earth and the human race will look like in 50 or 100 years. In the New York Times Magazine’s “The 9th Annual Year in Ideas,” I read about “building a forest of artificial carbon-filtering ‘trees’…” and creating “leafy-looking solar panels that could one day replace ivy on buildings.” These “treelike devices… resemble giant fly swatters.” The illustration that accompanies the article looks like a landscape from a video game, and it occurred to me that nature itself might be the ultimate endangered species. If life as we have known it—we lucky old-timers from the first 200,000 years on the planet—is found to be unsustainable, then our future environment could consist exclusively of manmade landforms. When all the wild places are gone, the wild animals will follow. Humans will be so conditioned to living and communicating by means of breathtaking, unimaginable-to-us technologies that what used to be known as “the outside world” or even “the human body” will become quaint memories, like the time before mass transportation. For years we’ve taken for granted eyeglasses and dentures and artificial hearts, but the possibilities of replicating Life in ever more efficient ways must literally be endless.

Most visions of the future are dystopian, all doom(sday) and gloom: Humanity will be reduced to its most crass, selfish tendencies (i.e., the Republicans will win in the end). Computers will inevitably enslave us, like Hal in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But I like to think that the good in people outweighs the bad—and that our future counterparts will still be “painting for process” in 100 years, or, if it has become a lost art, that the paintings and writings we generate now will be found, or intuited, or recreated, simply because the expression of deep feeling in form and color will always be part of the human experience. Recently, the oldest known art rendering of a penis was discovered. And are we still portraying that overdetermined, ambiguous organ in our art works today? You betcha!

snow banks too big to fail

Here comes the [snow] again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion

Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that I was regaling you with stories of shoveling, tipping, sliding, and slipping in the great white world of winter? Well, it’s baaaack….

When I returned from the 7-day painting intensive in San Francisco, the world was white, with black tree branches standing out in stark relief against a grayer shade of pale, the sky. My sage green house provided a soothing spot of color.

The birch tree in my back yard, which has three trunks, was bent over three ways, almost to the ground, by the weight of the snow and ice. I had to go out and clear a spot on the ground to sprinkle seeds, nuts, and berries for the birds and other critters. I haven’t been able to plug in the bird bath heater because the outlets on my porch are frozen.

My unemployed nephew had plowed my driveway and front walk (and half the lawn) to a fare-thee-well with his new ATV, so Jim Anderson Knows Best has lost himself a job.

***

Home never felt so good. The cats gave me a somewhat bemused reception, alternating happy romping with sudden disappearing and then coming closer and sniffing. Finally, Luther curled up in my arms in my big red chair, squirming and kneading and purring and waving his lobster claws at my face and neck, as I downed 2 Aleve and settled in for a long winter’s nap. Brutus was a little more standoffish but finally settled on the ottoman, and the three of us basked in our togetherness-at-last. When I woke up in the dark, I couldn’t tell if it was day or night. Pulled out my trusty cell phone. Ah, it was 5 a.m., so I happily padded downstairs to make coffee.

Now, you’d think that I would have experienced some degree of culture shock when I returned home to the land of trees and snow and unsophisticated kin, but that didn’t happen. In my heart I held both the urban/creative joys I had experienced in S.F. and the down-home ones I returned to in the U.P. I was glad to hear Barb’s voice when I called to let her know I was on my way home from the airport. MP had had knee surgery while I was away, and a complication had sent him back into the hospital (which they have the temerity to call “Bay Area Medical Center”). When we all congregated in his hospital room for a  visit, it felt completely right to be in the company of my sisters and brother-in-law. In fact, I had them all in stitches (though MP already was, haha) describing various aspects of my trip, including feeling embarrassed to have gotten so fat compared to my friends. I said I felt like the Homer Simpson balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and I mimed not being able to buckle my seat belt on the plane—I was going to hold on to the two seatbelt ends like controls on a jetpak and take my chances, but the flight attendant made me attach an extender that would have been sufficient to connect the pilot with the passenger in the last row.

During MP’s hospital incarceration, they had forgotten about their own wedding anniversary, and K said they weren’t going to do anything for Christmas, it’s “just another day.” But since Christmas was on a Friday, when we usually get together anyway, I mentioned that I could contribute some precooked frozen cheeseburgers, and K said well, in that case, she could make potato salad, and when Barb stopped to think about what she could bring, I made the case for deviled eggs.

As it happened, I got sick as a dog on Christmas Eve and so missed out on all the festivities and, most important, the deviled eggs. I was starting to feel better on the 27th, when Barb had her whole grandkid gang over for chaos and the opening of presents, but by then my back was in spasm and I could barely hobble around the house with a cane.

this little piggy went to S.F.

I was dreading the travel part of the trip, as always, and there was plenty to justify my fears. Green Bay to Chicago was quick and uneventful, but then I waited in O’Hare for 9 hours before they got their hands on a plane that worked. The first one was delayed for some reason—the day was bright and clear, so they couldn’t blame the weather—and someone later said that they had taken “our” plane to haul some other people to their destination, but who knows. It’s not like you get a full accounting later. You just keep moving forward, or trying to. After an hour or so, a plane appeared, and we all filed onboard. We sat there on the ground for I don’t know how long, but I didn’t mind that so much because (a) the seat was more comfortable than the ones in the terminal, (b) I could direct the overhead air vent at my face, and (c) I learned that you can indeed use the toilet when the plane isn’t in the air…. I had always wondered about that.

After time had been rendered completely meaningless, the pilot came on the blower and said the plane had no food or beverages on board. Oh no! And I was so looking forward to that 6-course meal! More time… drifting, drifting… and then he came back on and said that the cargo door was “bent.” So we all had to get off the plane and go back to sitting in the hard plastic seats. There followed many hollow announcements of apology and thanks for our patience. I don’t know that patience is the right word for it. They should say, “Thank you for not advancing on your captain and crew with pitchforks and flaming torches.”

I had a weak moment when I wished with all my heart that I could just get on a northbound plane, get in my Jeep and go home. I called Barbara and told her that the delay was surely a sign that I shouldn’t come out there this time. She talked me down, but I knew I wasn’t serious anyway. I’m pretty good at resigning myself to fate when I have to. While we were on the phone, a teenage boy with a bright blue Mohawk walked by, so I said to B, loud enough so he could hear me, “There’s a beautiful young man with a blue Mohawk here.” He turned and gave me a goofy grin, which kind of made my day. I loved that just about everyone waiting for the flight to S.F. looked like they belonged there. Like the San Francisco diaspora returning to the homeland.

All right, plane finally arrives, flap flap flap to S.F., and I get into the city at about midnight local time. The Walgreen’s near my hotel is closed, so I go looking for a store that’s open all night so I can get some supplies. I drive around and around, but they’ve rolled up the sidewalks like some hick town. I finally go all the way over to the Safeway on Market, where the dark parking lot is full of men sitting in cars, surely up to no good, and the store is dimly lit. It feels like one of those dystopian futures, though there is plenty of food and drink, and I don’t have to sell my body in exchange for the last 4-pack of Frappuccino. In fact, I brazenly move among the late-night denizens in my skull-and-harlequin t-shirt, feeling oddly safe and untouchable.

***

The painting week was strange but compelling, as always. I seem to understand less and less about this process the longer I paint. I don’t even know how I’m going to describe what went on. But here goes.

All week my conscious mind was lagging behind whatever was happening on the inside. At one point I told Barbara I wasn’t interested in what I was painting. We sat down together, and she asked “if there could be some feeling under there.” I had absolutely nothing to have “feelings” about, but my eyes immediately flooded with tears. It was bizarre. I used to have explanations for why I was crying. I went back to my painting, and suddenly I was hit by the thought that if my family were all to die, I would be alone in a way I’ve never been before. It felt so primal, something about my biological ties being cut. So I painted my 3 closest family members dead in their graves and cried like a motherless child. I couldn’t believe there had been no feeling on the surface and then POW, something completely unexpected popped up. It was the first of many times when I realized I had no idea what was going on.

Something is triggered in me when I leave my secure, cozy life in the U.P. to head for San Francisco for these intensives. Even though I take the same bloody airline, stay in the same hotel, and rent the same car, there is an essential quality of the Unknown in the experience. Of course, the Unknown exists in the U.P., too, but in my own home it’s easier to delude myself that I’m in charge. When I drive down to Green Bay, leave my Jeep to weather the elements, and enter the bizarro world of air travel, I am embarking on 10 days of adventure, which to me is just another word for lack of control.

There’s also the matter of sensory overload. To go from the bucolic quiet of a small town to the stimulation of the big city—plunging right into traffic on 280 in my rented Chevy Cobalt, joining the dense stream of cars down 19th Avenue—is exciting, even after 18 hours “on the road” and 4 Dramamine, but I’m looking ahead to 7 days of painting, which is as unpredictable as anything I’ve ever done—even a roller coaster has a defined route and a safe landing. And regardless of how well or badly the week goes, I then face the trip home, with its inherent insecurities. So I’m both thrilled and terrified and not entirely sure why I decided to do this at all.

As the days went on, I became increasingly overwhelmed by everything I was feeling. Being away from my familiar routine… having to sleep and eat according to a schedule not of my making… seeing more people in a day than I usually see in a month… it all just seemed like too much. But aside from the various stressors, I was enjoying being with friends I hadn’t seen in a year or more. Knowing the time would be over soon, I would gaze at Diane(s) or Barbara or Terry (etc.) and try to be here now (an imperative from the ‘60s). But there was no way to capture the experiences and hold on to them, except in dim, useless memory. Then there was the food—burritos from L’Avenida!… mu shu chicken at Alice’s Restaurant!… fettuccini carbonara at Bella!… quesadillas at Lakeside!… avocado BLTs at Chloe’s!… beef skewers and Caesar salad at Asqew!… pasta at Osteria!… more pasta at a bistro in Hayes Valley!… Stop me before I spend the next 5 pages talking about food!

***

At one point I was painting a building that started to look like a mosque, and I told Barbara I was painting a religion that “wants to kill everyone who doesn’t believe in it.” I became quite worked up over it. I took my notebook into the sharing room and scribbled down an emotional rant, which began: Open Letter to the Muslim Terrorist Brotherhood: FUCK YOU. (The Anglo-Saxon words are still the best.) But when I talked about it in the group later, I realized that my strong feelings weren’t really about the terrorists: Something else was going on. “Something else” was always going on! I could have ranted just as vehemently against American bankers: These days, their arrogance inflames me like nothing else.

Whenever I tried to hang my feelings on some external hook, I discovered I had no idea what was really happening. I bemoaned the fact that “I”—the “I” I think I know and want to keep abreast of any inner tectonic shifts or volcanic activity—wasn’t getting anything out of this. It’s putting the cart (you) before the horse to think that the important change ought to happen to the cart, that the cart is in charge and the horse be damned. But if you’re sitting in the cart and the horse is taking off for parts unknown, what are you supposed to do with that? All you know is the cart! You know, intellectually, that the horse is also “you,” but it’s a “you” that has a mind of its own and doesn’t necessarily stop to graze by a stream and let you catch up and rearrange the halter around its neck. In other words, you can take your horse to water, but you can’t make yourself drink in the reality of life on the tip of this iceberg—that “you” are only the visible tip sticking out of the water, and the horse is the rest of the iceberg, if icebergs could be equine animals. Forgive me for the mixed metaphors, but I think those metaphors need to be shaken up now and then. By the way, if you stare at the word “mix” long enough, you wonder how it ever ended up in the English language (15th century, from Latin mixtus).

Where was I? Oh yes. Painting, feeling, overwhelm. Mid week, Barbara had me paint on 8 taped-together sheets of paper, making each painting a little larger than 4 x 6 ft. I did four of those paintings over the last 3 days of the intensive, with little sense of its doing me any good, though Barbara kept saying I was having “huge movement” in my process.

intensive care

But in the midst of all the confusion and the mysterious highs and lows of my emotional thermostat, I felt loved and cared for all week. I received so many gifts, some physical but mostly emotional. The kindness of friends. When I discovered that Chloe’s café wasn’t serving Coke anymore (“No Coke! Pepsi!”), DD went across the street to a small market and bought me one. On the way back to the studio we visited a new gourmet chocolate shop (Saratoga) at 16th and Sanchez, and after I had already picked out 3 truffles, DD declared she was buying. Whenever she drove, she and DL had to help me get my seatbelt fastened. I felt like a big, bundled-up kid or a semicompetent adult on a day pass from the Home. One day we stopped to browse in a cookbook store (Omnivore) on Cesar Chavez nr. Church, and DL was inspired to buy a cookbook of lemon desserts. She went home that night and made some wonderful lemon biscotti for the whole group, and a few days later made another batch for me, T, and DD to take home.

Terry, of course, was endlessly helpful, generous, and a joy to be around. We had good times laughing our respective asses off in her hotel room, where we noshed, watched TV, and checked our e-mail on her laptop. On our way to and from the studio, she helped me avoid killing numerous pedestrians, who would saunter past my car at stop signs in the night, wearing their all-black clothes, and of course many bicyclists, who blithely streak through stop signs while exhorting motorists to follow the rules of the road. Whenever I seemed oblivious to a person in the middle of the street or a car pulling out in front of us, T would gasp and then apologize, but I told her it was better to warn me than to remain silent. I fear that she took years off her life, riding with me.

DD’s hilarious “Table for one!” when I got too rambunctious at lunch still makes me giggle.

One day at the Lakeside Café I was seated facing the windows, and I interrupted by own diatribe (topic lost in the mists of time) to note that a truck with “Wolves Heating” on the side was going by. D and D, both social workers, pointed out that I was “stimulus bound,” meaning that my attention is constantly being diverted by new sights, sounds, or thoughts. I think it’s one of my most endearing traits, actually, but then I doubt I’m fully aware of the difference between endearing and annoying when it comes to my own traits. But it was fun to imagine people huddling up to wolves to stay warm.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that “multitasking” is suddenly considered a bad thing. It’s as if one-track-mindedness got itself a publicist. In the past, we were assured that being able to juggle several tasks at the same time was a useful skill. Now all I hear is that multitasking makes you less efficient at everything you do. I’m suspicious about this. It seems that women are the ultimate multitaskers, to the point where we can be carrying on a conversation in one booth in a restaurant while eavesdropping on the people in the booth behind us. Men, on the other hand, are the ultimate one-track-minders. In the 1970s, women were said to be suited for only the lowest-paying jobs because we’re “good with details.” (Women were librarians; men were library directors.) Well, who decided that details are important when, say, cataloging books but not when writing computer code or launching missiles into space? I’m not saying it’s a conscious conspiracy that women’s natural gifts keep being downgraded, but there seems to be a male-engendered biological “law” that keeps a distance between men’s and women’s status in society at any cost. The latest appeal to tradition and male hegemony is the cry that “men are being turned into women,” like god forbid. As if women, those powerful shrews who have been pretending to be downtrodden all these years, have been pulling the strings all along! All those mothers of young sons, all those female elementary school teachers, with their emasculating rules and biases, are finally succeeding in their quest to turn men into weeping wimps! Where will it end? With women in the driver’s seat? Making decisions in society? Acting—what—all independent??? Well, I have known a few men who have made giant strides toward not being assholes, and they didn’t do it by becoming wimps and crybabies. Masculinity is not lost when a man respects women, when he doesn’t rely on some mythical “superiority” to justify throwing his weight around.

***

All week my body was in protest mode. My back and legs hurt whether I was walking, lying down, or getting in and out of cars. Just stepping up on a low stool to paint the highest parts of the big paintings was painful enough to elicit a tiny, ladylike grunt. When I made the mistake of sitting on the stool to paint on the lowest parts, it took forever to haul myself off it without sprawling on the floor. I blamed the long flight and the hotel bed, but I suspect I’m just entering that lovely time of life when everything hurts, always. I’m reminded of those experiments they do with high school kids where they bundle them up and simulate blindness and deafness so they’ll feel compassion for the oldsters, but I fear this is no experiment, this is real life.

And emotionally, I was torn between the desire to have more time with my friends and wanting desperately to be home. I seem to equally crave the security of habit and the excitement of the new. In a way, it’s been the pattern of my life, but I’m feeling it more acutely now. Considering how much I complain about painting and about the anxiety-provoking air transport to get me to S.F. and back—and the money, of course—it’s amazing that I continue to do it. It’s not all good food and good times. But it’s the only place I feel that strange, compelling mixtus of mystery and challenge and love that gladdens my heart even as it puts a strain on my body. Even though I can’t mindfully retain the experience, there is a lasting impact down deep that even United Airlines can’t destroy. Following close on the heels of my great relief at being home again with my kitties, I started fantasizing about going back for the May intensive. I’m crazy, yes. But you knew that.

Being newly sensitive to how I shouldn’t “comment” on other people’s experience shared in the group, I regret that I cannot relay some of the more hilarious and touching moments that took place during the week. Can I just name some people, and they’ll know of what I speak? Alyssa, Amanda, Martha, Sima…. OK, this won’t do. There’s no way to convey the richness of it all, and the more specific I am, the more I’m aware of leaving people out who were just as essential to my experience.

On Thursday night, I had an out-of-painting experience when I met my friends Peggy and Cally (who were stopping over on their way to London, lah-de-dah), Jean, godchild Kelly, and Kelly’s new husband Duncan for dinner. It was a short but sweet evening, and I was relieved to find that I liked Duncan, whom I had never met. I don’t think I embarrassed myself by getting all painting-weird, but my friends are used to me after 20-30 years, and Duncan has read the ‘zine so you couldn’t say he wasn’t warned.

On the last day, the painting was easy, our foursome had our final lunch together, and we had our final group sharing, which generally consists of multiple expressions of gratitude to Barbara, the rest of the group, and “It”—the creative process itself, the “indefinite antecedent” that no one can truly define. It’s a two-edged sword, this final sharing, because sometimes you finish the week feeling happy, fulfilled, and in love with everyone, and sometimes you’re left feeling out of sorts and impatient with the long slow process of listening to everyone else talk about how happy they are.

As it happened, I was feeling uncomfortable, somewhat estranged from the group, thinking about having to get up at 2 a.m. to start my long slog home—in other words, already gone. As the feeling built, it became more and more physical. I started to feel nauseated, so I got up and went to the bathroom, locked the door, and started crying hard. Again, I had no idea why I was crying. It wasn’t as simple as (a) I want to leave or (b) I don’t want to leave, but it was probably a combination of the two that tried mighty hard to defy natural law and occupy the same space at the same time. I won’t go into the Archimedes Principle of Displacement, aren’t you glad? (I like how I blithely cite scientific principles without having the slightest idea what I’m talking about.)

When I finally came out of the bathroom, the group was disbanding. The time after the final sharing is always chaotic, with people gathering up their belongings and their paintings, cleaning their palettes and brushes, and saying good-bye to everyone. I blubbered my way through all that, and when I finally came face to face with Barbara, she took one look at me and said, “Finally! I knew it had to happen sometime.” Of course, she couldn’t tell me what had to happen, what it meant, or what I was supposed to do now, but at least the locks had been opened and the boats were rising (your basic dam metaphor).

this little piggy went oui oui oui all the way home

All week, the weather reports from back East had been horrendous. One report said Wisconsin had taken all snow plows off the roads because the snow just blew back after they plowed it. I had no trouble conjuring every possible horrible outcome.

I got up at 2 a.m. in order to get dressed, eat a hard-boiled egg I had saved from the day before’s continental breakfast, return the rental car, and get past security to the gate for a 6 a.m. departure. I highly recommend this schedule. The 2 a.m. part is hard, but the airport is nearly empty in those wee hours. However, I had been used to airport staff being everywhere, herding me and others into the proper lines and following the proper procedures.

Sidebar: I just had a brilliant idea. They should hire Temple Grandin, the autistic woman who made slaughterhouses more humane by seeing the process from the point of view of the animals, thus reducing their anxiety. Since we feel like cattle in airports anyway, why not streamline our process?

When I had successfully navigated 101 to the rental car center—having managed not to be fooled by the tricky San Bruno/San Bruno Ave. split—there was not a soul in sight. I followed a sign pointing “through the glass doors and to the left,” but when I got there, no one was there either. So I followed another sign that directed me to go up one floor, which I did, and then I had to go back almost as far in the opposite direction to reach the main car rental area, where the Avis counter was empty as Jesus’ tomb…. (did you know you can find a recipe online for Empty Tomb Cookies?….). I was already sweating profusely, my legs hurt, and my big toe was about to turn gangrene from walking in new shoes all week. I decided to hobble down toward Budget where a few people were hanging around. When I got to the very end of the Avis counter, there sat a quiet little employee whom I hadn’t seen because he was blocked by a big sign saying I don’t know what, but I don’t think they “try harder” anymore, and when he greeted me—did he not hear me galumphing along with my rolling suitcase and dropping my painting tube and cane?—I said, “You don’t make it easy.” I didn’t bother to explain, but then again, he didn’t ask.

I had had an epiphany the day before that I was only responsible for getting myself through each step of the process, I could do nothing about the airplane or the weather, so that cut my worry by 2/3, at least in theory. I next took the air train back to the terminal and hobbled downstairs to the United check-in counter, where there was a line of passengers but no employees in sight. Slowly, slowly, the workers started trickling in, and I managed to get a luggage tag and a boarding pass. On to “security,” which is the Unknown with X-rays. (Remember when “security” meant feeling safe?) I put my shoes, jacket, bag, painting tube, cell phone, and cane on the conveyor belt (I wished they had a conveyor belt for me), successfully passed through the metal detector, and was specially chosen for an extra pat down! I spread my arms out for the TSA lass, who said something I didn’t hear except for the word “up.” So I looked up, and she half-giggled and said “PALMS up!” I am such a dork. But at that hour of the day you can get by with a lot by stating the obvious—“It’s so early!”—as if, “You should see me mid afternoon, I’m quite the Einstein!” The pat down revealed nothing more extraordinary than my sweaty armpits and flabby love handles, so I was allowed to proceed. I made it home by 4:00 that afternoon. Sweet, sweet homecoming.

addendum

A few days ago, we had a rousing good time at my family’s Friday night get-together. Yeah, I was surprised, too. It started when my nephew and I got into a ridiculous argument about prison overcrowding. My solution was to stop incarcerating people for simple drug possession, and his was to shoot everyone on sight who wasn’t “useful to society.” I don’t know why I kept trying to reason with him (“Someone could decide that you’re not ‘useful to society’”), because he kept coming back to his favorite point, which was that drug users will eventually/inevitably “kill a family of 4” either by breaking into their house in their desperation to get money for drugs or by plowing into them on the highway while under the influence. Voices were raised, gunshots were simulated—POW! POW!—and I finally just got silly and agreed—“Kill ‘em!”—whenever he raised his hypotheticals. I did assure him I’d come to visit him in prison, though. At one point K ostentatiously tried to redirect our attention to something on the TV, and of course that got my usual dander up, and I said, “At least we’re having a ‘discussion’ for a change, it’s better than just sitting here!” She said she didn’t want “the tears to come” (mine, presumably). And from there, we left off the drug&killing talk and went on to enjoy a rollicking evening of outbursts, blowhardy opinions, off-color commentary, and humorous asides—and I occasionally let the others get a word in, too. MP was feeling a lot better since his knee surgery, so he joined in on the hilarity instead of falling asleep in his recliner. He told us a few things about his time in “Nam,” but it wasn’t heavy (he’s my brother-in-law), it was mostly about how his knee got fucked up. K finally joined in, too, and so did my nephew’s girlfriend. I want to be more specific, but it’s mostly a blur—I only know there were more dick jokes than mindful, meaningful communication, and MP claimed to be “scared” by my paintings, and K brought out a long cardboard tube she had gotten from work, and visual humor ensued from that. MP and Joshua talked about all the “assholes” in town who put a plow on the front of their too-small “light trucks,” complete with hand gestures showing what happens to the truck and its ball bearings. There were riffs about heating bills, temperamental energy-saving bulbs, physical therapy, really really fat people, the right way to cook “brats,” health insurance, the sports teams of our youth, and a two-lane bowling alley behind a bar on 13th St. that I had never heard of. Barb cracked herself up with a long joke about the Minnesota Vikings and shared a teaching moment involving oil reserves and a pile of Starburst candies. The important thing is that we talked. It was stimulating and fun, and I daresay a good time was had by all.

The evening also gave me further insight into our respective roles in the family. Barb is a monologist (every room is a classroom to her); K is a hall monitor/peacekeeper; I’m a performer; and the guys do and say whatever they want. Barb and I clash when either of us hogs the floor; K is happy as long as no one disagrees about anything; and the guys do and say whatever they want. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

[Mary McKenney]

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