Stuff I Write, Stuff I Like

Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

Stuff I Like: Beautiful Things (and Another Chance to Win Something Beautiful)

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm
C&R Press is giving away a limited-edition print of the cover art from my book, signed by the wonderful artist Lou Ickes and me.
Imagine seeing this every day:
cover painting
How beautiful is that?
Lou not only makes beautiful art. He is a beautiful person. For Christmas this year, he gave me the original painting, which hangs in our dining room.
Dining room is a weird term. It implies china cabinets. Or china.
My husband and I don’t have those things. In what people call a dining room, we have an old green farmhouse table. We spend a lot of time at that table drinking, talking about books, writing, playing Apples to Apples with our kids.
Also, blackjack.
Our closest friends spend a lot of time with us at this table, too. To my 12-year-old son’s horror, we ask them to carve their names there.
This, for instance, is Matcho Corner, home of the writer Adam Matcho and the beautiful Lori Matcho and their children the great D and Viggo Matcho.
matcho corner
Beneath Matcho Corner are the hard-to-make-out, gently etched initials of the artist Paulette Poullet, who hearts the poet Scott Silsbe.
The walls of our dining room are covered in corkboard, which is covered in our kids’ artwork.
phe wall
If you look closely, you can see a Minecraft version of the lovely Emily Rodgers, another lovely friend who makes beautiful music. Also, there’s Psy, whose music is questionable but who’s made a lot of people who don’t usually dance get up and shake some things.
We listen to a lot of music in this room. Scott Silsbe and his fellow poet Bob Pajich in particular have been known to get up and shake some things.
For the millennials out there, those are called cds.
If you look closely on top of all those old-school cds, you can see a watercolor painting the great Henry Denander did of my husband Dave Newman.  He even got Newman’s eyes right. They’re very blue.
Also, there’s John Prine.
The point of all this: it’s important to surround yourself with beautiful things and the people you love.
Lou Ickes’ painting is one beautiful thing. I’d love to share it with you.
If you’ve read The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious and like it even a little bit, post a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads, then let C&R Press know you’ve done so by zapping a note here or on C&R’s Facebook page. And wham — you’re entered to win.
Contest ends July 30.
Good luck and thanks everybody for helping spread the word.

Stuff I Like: Ouija Boards, Tupperware, Booze, Books and Other Free Stuff

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2013 at 9:09 pm

My nice publisher C&R Press is offering another giveaway of my book, The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious, over at Goodreads. The giveaway closes in six days, so you should enter.

If you’re like me, you might not enter contests because you figure you’re not the lucky sort.

I know some lucky people. Sometimes I think that should make me lucky by default.

I have a friend, for instance, who won her entire honeymoon trip to Jamaica, plus a vacuum cleaner, a crate of floor polish and a lifetime supply of Tupperware.


I have a cousin who, after a lifetime of playing the lottery, finally hit it big last year, a few million dollars.  This is the pride of my family, which has a long history of bookies and numbers-running.  (I didn’t know bookies were illegal until I went to college. Until then, I figured they were like lawyers and accountants and that most families relied on them for late-night advice.)

One of my neighbors, a lifetime steelworker and union head, invested a few years ago in a bar in Tahiti. The bar did really well and now my neighbor lives in Tahiti, drinks his coffee from a coconut, and gets massages three times a day.

“Dumb luck,” he called it, but I think he was very smart, Tahiti being Tahiti and all.

And then there’s my friend Joe.

“You’ve got to play to win, sweetheart,” my friend Joe used to tell me.

Joe worked a deli on 83rd Street.  I used to go to that deli when I lived in New York.  Joe had been working there 20 years. He loved Powerball. He never hit, but he was always sure he was close.

“This time I feel it,” he’d say.

Joe made the best egg on a roll in town.

I loved Joe because he always remembered my name and he always asked about my mother and if I didn’t come around for a week or so, he noticed.

This made me feel I mattered to someone on days when I felt I didn’t matter much at all.

“I never win anything,” I used to say to Joe and I still say to whoever asks, but when I think about it, it’s not true.

Friendship, even the tiniest most fleeting one, is its own prize.

Also, I’ve won stuff.

Here’s a list:

*  A Ouija board.


I won this at a bingo at St. Regis Catholic Church in Trafford, Pa. when I was around 10 years old. Seriously. A Catholic church. With nuns. Priests. Exorcisms. Someone missed the irony back then.

*  A collection of poetry cds.

I won this when I called into a public radio station in New York and rattled off the names of five Beat poets. One of the cds featured a recording of Walt Whitman’s voice, which was magic because Whitman sounded exactly like Allen Ginsberg, one of the Beat poets whose name I rattled off. This is before Walt Whitman’s voice was used in a Levi’s commercial to sell jeans and became slightly less magical.

* A basket of wine coolers.

I won this at my 10th high school reunion. It was the only high school reunion I ever attended. Why I went to this reunion, I’m not exactly sure because I’ve never been sentimental about high school and I really hate any kind of event where you have to wear those “Hi My Name Is” tags. Still, I looked under my chair and there was a lucky number and so everyone at my table celebrated. We cracked open the wine coolers and drank them on the spot. I think we all needed to drink a lot. (Also, I’d like to thank my friend Sarah, who told me recently that wine coolers are rightfully called “cheerleader juice.” My life is better for knowing this.)

* $5 on a Scratch-Off Lottery Ticket.

Actually, this happened to me more than once, given that my family (see “bookies”) was prone to inserting scratch-off lottery tickets into every holiday card. Usually I lost the tickets before I could cash them in, but a win is a win.

*  One delicious bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

I won this for being the master of the chicken dance at an office Christmas party. I’m a very good chicken dancer.  I may have mentioned this.


What have you won in your lifetime? Write and tell me about it.

And if you haven’t won anything yet, remember to enter the Goodreads contest for my book. It’s not Tupperware, but still.

The odds are good — 10 free copies — and like Joe said, you got to play to win.


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