Monday, December 1, 2014

Beautiful Angels

There are angels among us. I have often felt their presence, but never more profoundly than during and after my cancer surgery in October 2014.

They wield scalpels and stethoscopes. They bring food for your family. They send cards, flowers, messages. They bring you your breakfast when you can't get out of bed. They curl up in your lap and purr. They pray for you.

You don't see their wings, but you often recognize their faces. But sometimes they are strangers.

The day after the surgery to remove both my breasts, I was hurting physically and emotionally. My friend, Peter called me. "I have something I think will cheer you up," he said.

Do you know someone who would enjoy this post? Please share it using the buttons at the bottom of each post.

Indeed. Peter had secured a poster promoting a concert by singer-songwriter James Maddock. James had signed it to me, wishing me well. It really lifted my spirits to have a personalized message from an artist that I admire so much. It was a simple gesture that had a big impact.
The poster James gave me

I first discovered James when he played a concert nearby. I had never heard of him. By the end of his opening song, I was hooked. He is British, but his music seems uniquely American, rooted in the folk-rock traditions of the United States. He is a fixture in the fertile music scene in downtown New York. He has a distinctive raspy voice, an amiable stage persona, and a quirky social media presence. He's released three studio albums, and his newest, The Green,  is now out and available here at Amazon,. His lyrics seem deeply personal, but listeners can interpret them for themselves.

Like me, James is 50-something, and his songs tend to reflect the themes that inhabit those in our stage of life:

  • A longing for more time to explore the roads not taken ("Another Life")
  • Messy relationships ("Mister Universe," "What Have I Done?")
  • The vagaries of love ("Stoned On You," "Love is a Flower")
One of his loveliest tunes is entitled "Beautiful Now." The lyrics tell of a man looking at an old photograph of his beloved, taken long before he knew her. As he gazes at the picture, he notes her youthful splendor and radiance. Then he hits us with this chorus.

"You were beautiful then/ But you're way more beautiful now."

Those lyrics have taken on a new meaning for me. I don't have the body of my youth, but it had been replaced by one that was stronger, curvier, more confident. The surgery abruptly changed it, and I have been struggling with the "new normal."

At first, I thought the scars and incisions that snake their way across my chest were ugly. They hurt and I hated them. James' lyrics prompted me to re-think them. Now I see the gentle curves and delicate folds as the beauty of health and the brilliance of life. They are beautiful now.

So thank you, James, for taking the time to cheer up a stranger when she needed it. Thank you for your music. Thank you Tracy Plass and Peter Swarr for making it happen.

Don't miss any posts from The Middle of the Journey. Sign up to follow me by e-mail and new posts will be delivered to your inbox. Subscribe in the sidebar.

Please enjoy this live version of James singing "Beautiful Now."

Monday, November 17, 2014


As I continue to recover from breast cancer surgery, I realized that my relationship with cancer will be an ongoing one. I have further treatment to come and continued monitoring for many years. But how to describe this complicated relationship? I have been searching for the right word. A few that I've considered:

  • Fear - My tendency with fear is to hide under the bed and wait for whatever is scaring me to go away. This is not a good strategy for maintaining health. We all know people who avoid doctors and tests because they are afraid of what they might find. So fear is not the right word.
  • Hate - It's easy to be angry and hateful about cancer. I've seen it ravage the bodies of people I love. Some of them didn't survive. But hate is a heavy burden to carry. To me it also implies malice and intent. Those little cells were once a normal part of my body. For a variety of reasons, they broke bad. I don't think they were out to get me. If I did hate them, I forgive them now. They are gone.
In talking to my husband about this, we came up with a new word: Respect. I respect cancer. I respect its power. It is an adversary worthy of my due diligence.

I respect cancer enough to have routine regular screenings, one of which resulted in my diagnosis. I respect cancer enough to find out as much as I can about it and its treatment. I respect cancer enough to seek out the best medical professionals to help me fight it. I respect cancer enough to carefully follow post-operative care instructions and recommendations for ongoing treatment. I respect cancer enough to research diet and lifestyle changes that can help me keep it at bay. I respect cancer enough that I will do whatever I can with my life to help those who are coping with it and to see it eradicated.

So, I have a new mantra I repeat in my head. They are the words of the incomparable Otis Redding that have been immortalized by the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin.

Take care, TCB"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Baring the Scars and Bearing the Scars

Nothing prepares you for the first time you look at your mastectomy incisions.


No amount of preparation and looking at photos of other surgeries. No amount of love and support from your spouse and family. No amount of emotional strength (you think) you have.

When I took my first shower after surgery last week, I finally had the courage to look in the mirror. I saw myself as torn apart. Ripped. Ruined. And I cried. I gave myself permission to mourn the way my body used to look. But in the midst of the tears came another image.

The new smoothness of my chest reminded me of the days when I wore undershirts and camis. I remembered the cute little sundresses my mom dressed me in. There were no worries of bra straps slipping or too much cleavage showing. I could almost feel the golden California sunshine of my 1960s childhood.

It's not that I want my body to look like a little girl's - I'm having reconstruction done. But that fleeting image reminded me of two important things:  1) that beauty comes in many different forms and 2) my body has been constantly changing since the day I was born.

I recall when I was pregnant with my son. My body dazzled me almost daily with the changes it made to grow a little human boy. I am no less astounded by my body's ability to be up and walking mere hours after major surgery and that my use of my arms is coming back so swiftly. It is now working hard to scar over the incisions and heal. Amazing! Among the strongest parts of our bodies are the scars.

I am fortunate that the surgery went well. The sentinel nodes were clear and the margins were clean.

I have since spent more time with those incisions. They are healing well. I don't feel as troubled by them, and I know the scars will continue to fade. I have begun the process of reconstruction with a wonderful plastic surgeon. He told me from the start that I won't be the same. All I want is a little piece of "me" back. I don't think I want to fill out a D cup again. A little extra perkiness would be nice.

So, cheers to change. As my husband and I gazed at the new topography of my body he said,. "This is what healthy looks like."

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Tribute to My Husband

This is dedicated to all the caregivers.

No one expects bad things to happen. That is why on our wedding day, the happiest of days, we are reminded of the sad ones to come. There will be worse times. There may be poorer times. There will be sickness. Stick together, and you'll make it.

I am fortunate to have married a man I love, and one who takes our marriage vows seriously. We are in one of those sickness times now - I am facing a double mastectomy to treat cancer. Dan has risen to fulfill his vow.

We met almost 25 years ago in a Connecticut newspaper newsroom. I was a 30-year-old reporter and editor in the middle of a fairly successful writing career. He was a newly-minted college graduate, 21 years old and in an entry-level reporting position. On paper, maybe he wasn't the best choice. But I saw a person who was open and honest and loving. He treated women well, especially me. Oh, and did I mention he's drop-dead handsome? 

Our wedding day
We married in June 1992. Since then, we've experienced the better and the worse of our vows. He's supported me after the death of my beloved stepfather. He coached me through a days-long labor that culminated with the birth of our son. He encourages me in my writing career (he's a big fan of this blog) and supported me when I tried out a new career as a reading support tutor in our local schools. 

He makes me laugh on a daily basis. He is the smartest person I know. He is the one editor I really trust. If my writing needs improvement, he shows me how to fix it. If he says it's good, it really is good. Did I mention the handsome part?

He now finds himself in the role of caregiver. While he is going through this experience with me, his is unique.He has been the voice of calm when I have been afraid. He has made the phone calls to help me get the care I need. He has been the extra eyes and ears during sometimes overwhelming tests and doctor appointments. 

He is the very definition of a cock-eyed optimist, a mix of Annie and Pollyanna. But when we got word of a second cancerous area, it hit him hard. He is now helping me face surgery that will change me. He will be the one caring for me in the difficult post-operative days. He has been relentlessly on-message: "After this you will be healthy."

It is the storms that make us appreciate the days of smooth sailing. We know the storm clouds have been gathering in the distance. The sky is darkening. Soon the rain will be lashing the windows and the waves will be crashing.

Please hold Dan up in your thoughts and prayers next Monday during my surgery. For me, the time will pass in the blink of an eye. He will be the one watching the clock tick.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Breathe and Reset

"If you've met one person with breast cancer, you've met ... one person with breast cancer. For although there are certain aspects of the experience that are seemingly universal - the initial terror, a reckoning with mortality, and initiation into the bewildering world of treatment - breast cancer changes the lives of those it confronts in ways that are unique in every case." - Judith Newman, Allure Magazine October 2014

That is how the wonderful writer, Judith Newman begins her article, Live to Tell, in this month's Allure magazine. She goes on to interview six women whose lives have been touched in different ways by
#breastcancer. The truth of the words in her introduction resonated with me and my experience. It is truly unique and each woman must navigate it in her own way.

I am still awaiting surgery. Several truly upsetting snafus forced me to change doctors, hospitals, and ultimately my decision about what kind of surgery I'm having. I'll detail that nonsense in another post, but suffice it to say, I'm with the medical team I need to be with having the surgery I want and need. 

The change forced me to take time to reflect on what was happening to me. I have found a few truths of my own to pass on.

  • Decisions. They are yours to make. At my first meeting with my new surgeon (a breast specialist), she told me the type of surgery I have is my choice. "But I won't let you make a bad one," she said. I realize now the first surgeon I was with was steering me toward what was easy for him at a time that was convenient for him. It really had little to do with me and my treatment.
  • Fear. Deal with it. Don't ignore it as I did. Fear is a way of informing our experience. I was so filled with dread as my first surgery date approached that I was afraid I wouldn't survive the operation. I realize this fear was grounded in the fact that I didn't trust the doctors I was with and had ignored several red flags that should have made me put the brakes on this whole procedure. A paperwork problem made the decision for me and I am truly grateful to be where I am now.
  • Prayer. Yes, it matters. No, I can't prove it. But there is something buoying in knowing that people you care about are praying for you. There is also great power in the knowledge that people who do not know me are praying. A colleague I don't know very well asked if she could put me on her church's prayer chain.Absolutely, I replied.  In my darkest moments in the past two weeks when I didn't know where to turn, I prayed to God to deliver me. In His tender mercy, He did. He put angels in my path who knew what to do. . 
I still have breast cancer, and I know I am facing trying days ahead, but a weight has been lifted from me. I have control back. I am ready to be healed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

They're Real and They're Spectacular

In an episode of the sitcom "Seinfeld" titled The Implant, Jerry decides to break up with his girlfriend, Sidra (played by Terri Hatcher) because he is convinced she has had breast augmentation. In the end, Jerry finds out Sidra's breasts are natural. As she walks out on him, she lets him know what he'll be missing."They're real and they're spectacular."

Terri Hatcher and Jerry Seinfeld
It pretty much sums up how I've always felt about my breasts. I've always liked them, and age and childbirth have done little to diminish their beauty. So it is with sadness that I must bid farewell to my right breast.

A second core biopsy last week revealed another cancerous area about 6mm from the original tumor. My doctors say a lumpectomy would not have an aesthetic result and would risk leaving behind some malignant cells. So on September 24, I'll undergo a mastectomy.

This is a surgery that cuts psychologically as well as physically. For example, I didn't cry when surgeons cut out about 12 inches of infected colon. But when my doctor called me this weekend (it's never good news on a weekend) to tell me of the second tumor, I did.

 It sneaks up on me. Today a fashion magazine came in the mail and all I could think about was how the surgery would alter me and my clothing choices. This is not an earth-shattering tragedy, but I took a few moments to feel really sorry for myself. This week I started back at school to begin what promises to be an exciting school year. But almost as soon as I start, I'll be taking some time off. Can you tell I'm having a bad day?

I've put off any reconstructive surgery. I'll wait to see what kind of ongoing treatment I'll need first. That means I'll need to learn more about what my body will be like after this surgery.

Any advice you have for me is welcome.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Schrodinger's Cat

In the 1930s physicist Erwin Schrodinger devised a thought experiment in which a cat was placed in a sealed box, along with a Geiger counter, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source. If even the smallest particle of radioactivity was detected, the flask would crack open and the cat would die (this is all hypothetical, by the way). Schrodinger posited that before the box was open the cat could be thought of as both dead and alive, simultaneously.

The experiment is more complicated than I have laid out and meant to illustrate a theory of quantum mechanics. But to a non-scientist like me, it speaks about the power of the unknown and the devastation that can be wrought on even a microscopic level.

 I write about it here because I feel like I have been inhabiting the netherworld of Schrodinger's cat. As I have awaited the results of medical tests, I feel like I have been both healthy and sick simultaneously. The results were not what I had hoped.

I have #breast cancer.

A routine mammogram detected a suspicious mass. A biopsy revealed it to be stage 1/grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma. I have consulted with an oncologist and a surgeon. I have had another biopsy, with a third scheduled for next week and then we decide on a course of treatment.

While cancer is a disease that can still strike fear, the most difficult part of this journey is the unknown. Even though I have a diagnosis, I still don't know exactly what treatment is in store for me. I know the possibilities. Cancer at this stage is very treatable, but a conversation with the surgeon this morning revealed complications. An MRI, showed a second suspicious mass, close to the tumor that was already biopsied, and a third spot that requires a stereotactic biopsy next week. Only then will I have a surgery date and a treatment schedule.

The unknowns are legion: how much pain will I be in, how much time will I have to take from work, what will I look like, and more. No one can answer some of those questions - I will have to experience them. I have spent many hours reading about breast cancer treatment and reading the blogs of those who have gone through what I am going through now. To those women, I say thank you. Reading your stories has made me less afraid. I can only hope to pay it forward with my writing.

This all comes at a time when I have been feeling good. I thought health problems were behind me. It is hard to think of something so tiny (1.2 cm) causing so much trouble.

Some of you reading this have been aware of my diagnosis. Others will be hearing about it for the first time. Still others don't know me at all. I invite everyone to come along with me on this deeply personal journey.
The cat is out of the box and she'll be just fine.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rest and Recreation

Saddleback Lake, Maine
For me, there is no place more restful than beside a lake in the northern woods of the United States. My family and I spent last week in the Rangeley Lakes region in Maine's Northwest Mountains.

I don't know what it is exactly that I find so appealing:
Small's Falls, Maine

  • The delicate white birch trees that arch toward the water
  • The perfectly-formed triangles of firs that dot the shoreline like so many scattered Christmas trees
  • The gentle swish of the canoe as it glides through the water
  • The sunset turning the glassy water into liquid rose gold
  • The haunting trill of the loons that have nested lakeside

Perhaps it is the tranquility that comes from being surrounded by so much quiet and majestic nature. The abundance makes one's problems feel much smaller. A history book I found inside our cabin told of a 1930s-era brochure for the region that said the lake's pure crisp air whetted the appetite, cleared the mind, and strengthened the muscles. This was clearly so last week. I returned rested and ready to tackle the trials to come.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Of Drugs, Depression, and "Demons"

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Robin Williams. A brilliant comedian and actor, his struggles with drugs and depression had been well-documented. But during the coverage I heard something that stopped me in my tracks.

A correspondent on CNN admitted that earlier in their coverage, she had said that Williams "battled demons." She was cautioned by someone in the treatment community against using such a pejorative description. She apologized and said she should call it what it is - a disease.

It was certainly not the first time such a phrase has been used. It evokes colorful and dramatic imagery. It is also medieval-sounding and dark. It is imprecise, inaccurate, and has no place in a discussion about 21st Century health care.

 It got me wondering why we still draw a distinction between mental health care and health care. Why is brain disease looked at in a different way from heart disease? Mental health providers must work to identify and successfully treat disease, but they also must battle stigma. There are still people who don't get the health care they need because of the shame associated with mental disorders and addiction. We still live in a culture that tells people with depression to "cheer up" and kids with ADHD to "just sit still."

In a 2001 essay found online at the Partnership for Drug-free Kids website (,  journalist Bob Curley writes that there are "wrong" ways to describe addiction and recovery. Such misnomers hamper the goal of providing better health care for all. For example, he wrote, describing someone as a "substance abuser" places the responsibility solely on the individual, ignoring other factors such as genetics, environment, and economics. It's also easy to "abuse the abuser," he wrote.

I grew up in an era when smoking cigarettes was referred to as a bad habit. "Kick the Habit!" the slogan said. Those words must be cold and cruel to someone trying to quit a drug that is as powerful as heroin.

In Connecticut, we are are still struggling with policy changes in the aftermath of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said the solutions to the problem of gun violence require a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach, including better access to mental health care. Portraying the shooter as struggling with demons does nothing to promote that cause.

We must start by aligning our language with our goals. Yes, they are just words, but I am a writer. I know that words have power. As John Keating, Williams' character in Dead Poets Society, tells us, "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world." One of the gifts Williams leaves us was his candor about his disease and the matter-of-fact way he discussed his treatment.

Let's not let Robin Williams become another brilliant flame-out, taken from us too soon - and forgotten.

May your soul find the peace that eluded you here on earth, dear Robin. May your shining example inspire us all to do better.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Return of the Pilgrim

My typical weekday afternoon conversations with my 15-year-old son usually go something like this:

Me: How was school today?
Boy: Good. (exits to play basketball in the driveway)

Or this:

Me: How was school today?
Boy: (grunting noise; exits to play basketball in the driveway)

So it was a slightly new and improved teenage son I encountered upon his return home from a seven-day trip to Oregon this week, one who was a bit more outgoing and confident. He traveled west with his church youth group on a pilgrimage that has been two years in the making. It was the first time he'd traveled for any great distance or time without a parent or other family member with him.

It was interesting to hear him speak with great animation, detail, and excitement about exploring tide pools on the Oregon coastline, about the beauty of the waterfalls he saw along their hiking trails, and about "riding the bull" on the rapids of the DesChutes River. There are photographs of that last one. It involves riding the raft with your legs hanging over the front of the raft. In one, all I could see were his feet and rushing whitewater. It was all safe and properly supervised, but I think I have a couple of extra gray hairs.

 He also led the group in a vespers service one evening and presented their local leader with a group gift. On the way home, during a layover in Chicago's O'Hare Airport, the boy saw former University of Connecticut basketball star D'Andre Daniels. He introduced himself to Daniels, told him how much he enjoyed watching him during UConn's epic run to the national championship last spring, and asked him to pose for a picture of the two of them together.

All of this adds up to a boy becoming a man who is comfortable in his own skin. I probably will never hear every detail of the trip. There are some things that belong just to him. But I had two big fears as I put him on the plane last week: 1) That he would miss me and 2) That he wouldn't. Neither of my fears came to pass. He thoroughly enjoyed his experience and returned home happy to see me.

I think I handled all of this quite well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

But How Do You Get Your Protein?

That's a question just about everyone who's tried vegetarian living gets. I've certainly been asked. There are many plant-based sources of protein that are often overlooked in the standard western diet.

I decided to become vegetarian last January, and I've been leaning toward veganism. After nearly a year of being ill and eventually having surgery on my colon, I became much more aware of how food affected me. Following my surgery, I was able to eat anything I wanted, but I found that I just didn't feel good after eating meat. I felt like I'd swallowed a brick. I don't feel that way after a plant-based meal. One vegetarian friend suggested the enzymes used to digest meat may have been disrupted from my illness. I don't know, but I decided to listen to my body.

I have several vegetarian and vegan friends at work and at church. They have never tried to "convert" me to their way of eating; rather they have stood as good examples. They bring luscious food to any gathering and the fact that they are all fit, healthy, and beautiful isn't lost on me either (Yes, I'm talking about you, Lisa, Kristen, and Ulka).

So I embarked on some research about vegetarian and vegan cooking. For those who don't know, vegetarians don't eat meat. Vegans don't consume any animal products, including milk, cheese, eggs, and butter. The internet and social media have a plethora of resources to offer. Keepin' It Kind and Finding Vegan have great recipes, some of which have become family favorites. Mayim Bialik (TV's Blossom and Amy Farrah Fowler!) has a terrific book, Mayim's Vegan Table, that provides research, resources, and recipes. Her book is particularly helpful because she is a mother raising her children vegan and she has recipes that appeal to families.

Speaking of families .. That's been a complication. While I'm vegetarian, the rest of the household is still omnivorous. And I do all the cooking. So there has been some negotiation. If I make a meat dish for them, I fix an alternative for me. There's always rice, quinoa, and beans in my kitchen.

 But lately, I've been trying new recipes on them. Curried Vegetable Stew (it features cauliflower, chickpeas, and canned pumpkin), Leek and Potato Soup, and Black Beans and Rice have all been added to the dinner rotation. Last night's experiment was a vegan lasagna recipe I found online. I could almost feel the skepticism, so I was prepared for the worst. But, lo and behold, it was a HUGE hit - even my devoutly carnivorous spouse raved. Hmm.

There are too many aspects to this subject, both moral and political, to tackle in one post so I'll continue to share my journey. Let me know if you have any recipes!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Road to Independence

I knew there would be days like this.

From the moment the doctor placed my newborn son in my arms and I held him close in the dimly lit delivery  room, I knew my job. It was to get him out of my arms, on his feet, into the world as an independent man. The road to independence has had many steps. both big and small. The first solid food, the first step, giving up diapers (yay!), the first day of kindergarten. We have progressed on to bigger and more important steps - the first day of high school, the first driving lesson.

Today was a big one: the first trip away without family. Without me. Now 15, my son embarked on a pilgrimage this morning with our church's youth group, called Journey to Adulthood. It is something his group has worked and prepared for for two years. This morning the seven teenagers and three adult leaders left for Portland, Oregon, where they will spend the week hiking, sightseeing, working, having fun together. It is neither vacation nor missionary trip, but rather an opportunity to experience God and their faith in a different way.

A million instructions came to my mind last night as he completed his packing. Don't forget your retainer. Don't forget to wear your retainer. Don't forget your phone. Don't forget your phone charger. Don't forget to charge your phone. Do you have your wallet, ID, money? It goes on. For this week, he is (mostly) on his own to get through life. He might make a few mistakes, but his leaders are there. They are loving and responsible, and I trust them completely.

But this morning I had to loosen my grip a little more on that tiny newborn baby who looked up at me with those big, brown, trusting eyes. I did not embarrass him by crying at the airport. I saved that for later.

I know there will be more days like this.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In Praise of the Binge

Not booze, silly. Television! I remember taking a television  programming class in college some 30 years ago. The professor told us "If you think television hasn't changed - just remember Gilligan's Island was once on prime time." True words, even today. I believe we are in a Golden Age of television. We're seeing creative people flexing their muscles and stretching the medium to its fullest potential.

Which brings me to binge watching, taking entire seasons of a series and watching as much or as little as you want at a time. I know our family's viewing habits have changed greatly since the days of our first VCR in the 80s. Now, armed with a Chromecast and a Netflix subscription, binge watching is quickly replacing sitting down at 8 p.m. to watch our favorite shows.

 I was first introduced to this phenomenon a few years back when a friend recommended I watch Prime Suspect, the British TV series, starring Helen Mirren. At the time streaming only pertained to something liquid, so I put the discs in my queue at Netflix and eagerly awaited the arrival of those red envelopes, three at a time. It was fascinating to watch a character that had taken seven years to develop quickly unfold before my eyes. I was hooked.

Now it has become our habit to choose a binge-worthy show and watch, especially in the summer months. Our latest is Game of Thrones. I watched it "live" over the past four seasons, but my husband hadn't. He decided it was time to dip his toes into the Narrow Sea of Westeros. We just finished Season four. We now talk about the characters as if we know them personally ("That Littlefinger is so underhanded!") and make glib comments ("Is Ramsay Snow reading Fifty Shades of Greyjoy?"). My husband knew there was something called The Red Wedding, but he didn't know what happened or why. Yes, he is still in shock. And if you want to see how funny people can be on the internet, google "If Game of Thrones was on Facebook."

Netflix is certainly fueling this change, both with content and a really good app. HBO Go has access to a lot of content, but the app can be dodgy. Below are some other shows I've watched, binge-style. I've tried to edit out spoilers, but if you're watching/plan to watch any of them, proceed with caution.

  • Downton Abbey. My birthday gift was a Blu-Ray and Season 1. How was I not in on the first broadcast season? This show is right up my alley. I knew there was some kind of kerfuffle over the exit of a character, but I was unprepared for what unfolded in Season 3. Please pass the tissues.
  • House of Cards. Meh. I wanted to like this one, and I just don't. It's less the West Wing and more Melrose Place. People are being sneaky just to be sneaky. How does anyone have time to govern? The show lost me with its improbable situations and murky plots. I was really done when my favorite character had an Anna Karenina-ish moment. And the three-way with the Secret Service agent made me feel icky.I finished season two, but I don't think I'll be back.
  • Orange is the New Black. Another Netflix program, made for the binge. This show is remarkable in the depth, complexity, and diversity of its mostly female cast of characters. It also probably wouldn't have gotten the green light on a "regular" channel. The characters are finely drawn and interesting. I'm looking forward to the next season.
  • Breaking Bad. I never watched this when it was broadcast on AMC. I kept wondering why Bryan Cranston, the daffy dad on Malcolm in the Middle, kept winning the Emmy over other actors I really liked. Oh. That's why. The entire family liked this one. It fueled many a dinner table conversation about the moral relativism that is Walter White and whether meth-cooking was a viable income stream (it isn't).
  • The Wire. Some have argued Breaking Bad is the finest show ever to appear on TV. After careful consideration, my vote goes to this one. The Wire is like a big, thick, finely-crafted novel that, once completed, you return to read again, either in its entirety or a few chapters at a time. In the season about schools, I saw characters that reflected children I know. In the final season, they did a fine job portraying an industry near and dear to my heart, newspapers. Excuse me, I need to go re-watch Season four.

So, anyone have any other shows that are binge-worthy?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On Blogging

This is my first attempt at a blog. A longtime journalist, I have been out of published writing for more than 15 years. To say a lot has changed is to put it mildly. I've changed, writing has changed, information has changed. In addition to reporting, I've been a full-time mother and a tutor in our local public schools. I've been longing to get back into published writing, so a blog seemed a natural fit. Forgive me as a tweak aspects of it - this is a learning process for me.

I'm a 54-year-old woman, so these posts will come from that point of view. Some of the topics I'll likely cover are children (particularly teenage boys), fashion (love the trends, but mindful of appropriateness. Nothing "normcore" will be found in my closet), education (Common Core, anyone), politics, fitness (I've been devoted to home video fitness since the first Jane Fonda), recovery, and anything else that comes to mind.

My eyes might be the only ones reading this. That's OK. If not, please know that I'll always try to choose my words carefully. I don't mind an argument that is an exchange of ideas and I'll always keep it civil. I have a contribution to make. It's time I stopped telling everyone that I'm a writer and start showing them. It's scary to put myself out there, but here we go.