Wednesday, March 29, 2023

I just love the picture

This photo is from when the college kids were here for spring break, and the whole Brooklyn-Astoria contingent came over for dinner on the only night that week that my son wasn't on shift at the firehouse. I just wanted to post the picture. We all caught up on episodes of Survivor over dinner and labrish and wine. I love nothing more than these evenings with my kids and their loves and assorted cousins. We're all headed to Dallas tomorrow for more of the same, as my niece Leisa and her husband Grant will become parents in a bit more than a month, and my daughter is throwing their baby shower. She's planned the whole thing from New York with impressive event skills, I'd say. I marvel sometimes at how competent my children are. If you knew the dreamy girl my daughter used to be you might marvel, too.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

ILYSM Birthday Girl

Birthday girl, I would give you the world. May your life be sprinkled with blessings, just as you bless our good lucky life with your wise pure heart and that smile that makes the sun come out.  I love you forever and ever till the end of time and then more, amen. Thank you for choosing me to be your mama. 

Friday, March 24, 2023


Thank you for your supportive comments on my last post. I appreciate each of you more than you can imagine, and I love when people who've read here for a while comment for the first time. It's so good to know you're there. Welcome to this virtual community. The people here have become very dear to me.

That's me on my way to dinner with the book team on my third night in D.C., in the top my cousin calls my carnival outfit. As you can see, I went for it with the lipstick, unabashedly matching the bright. Too loud for sober workplaces, but maybe okay for a celebratory meal. This whole week could not have gone better, even though my entire body was shot through with pain. But every connection along the way was perfect, with me getting to the sidewalk at Union Station on Sunday evening, for example, at the exact moment that my cousin pulled up to drive me to her home. It was all like that.

The proceedings on Monday included a backstage tour of a grand place, which unfortunately I am not at liberty to name. But there was a lot of walking and witnessing where history was made, and I loved every moment. My cousin with whom I stay when I'm in the D.C. area, joined us. The day was a highlight for her, too. Later, I asked her could she tell I was walking through pain during the hours of the tour, and she said no, you did not show that at all. That was a relief to me, because who wants to be the one to derail the party? Not me. When we got back to her house at the end of the day however, I installed myself in her recliner, took some anti inflammatory pills, drank lots of water, and barely moved from that spot all night. 

This was my view, my nephew engaging with his phone in between looking up to chat with his mom and me. He's a teacher in between his music gigs now, and he turns out to be a natural in the classroom. He looks more Native American than ever these days, as his big stop sign Afro has given way to his hair in two braids tied with leather, silver earrings in both ears. He's as handsome as ever, this beloved Jamaican-American-Dakota-Sioux whose spirit is gentle.

By the next day, the pain in my body had reverted to baseline, and the people I was with were now accustomed to my limping penguin gait, I ceased being self-conscious about it, and in fact, I learned that one member of our group was born without sight in one eye, and another was managing a life transition, and I was reminded that we are, each of us, dealing with something hard. Who was it who said that we are all either about to enter a trial, are in the midst of a trial, or have just emerged from a trial, and we must remember always to treat each other tenderly. May I just say for the umpteenth time that I absolutely adore each member of this team I am having the great privilege of working with? I have to pinch myself sometimes. I'm so frickin grateful.

Then! On the train back to New York on Wednesday morning, I got an email from the agent on my last project saying that he was waiting to hear whether Michelle Miller's book Belonging, published last Tuesday, had made the New York Times bestseller list. We'll know this afternoon, he wrote, but it looks good for us. I was in the Amtrak quiet car, so I held in my shout of joy. Michelle has been doing such an awesome job on her book tour. She is warm and unfiltered and vulnerable and generous, she's great TV, and she's been simply magnificent on every stage. I'm so proud of her and happy for all of us who worked on her book, and guess what—Belonging  did in fact land on the NY Times list at the number 11 spot, and in pub week, too!

Michelle called me from L.A. when the news dropped. "You made the list!" she screamed into the phone. "You made the list!" I screamed back. "You wrote the book!" she said. "You're selling the heck out of it!" I responded. And then we both squealed like giddy schoolgirls and agreed, "We make a great team!"

So yes, THAT happened. 

Life is good and pain be damned.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Book party and traveling again

I'm traveling today, which of course fills me with agita, especially since I haven't yet packed, and my good knee has been acting up so badly that when I tweaked it two weeks ago doing some mundane task of daily living, the pain was so bad I fainted. Alone at home. I came to almost at once, but that sensation of things blacking out, the world receding, will never not be weird. I think it was only the third time in my life that I had fainted, and come to think of it, each time was because of excruciating pain in that knee, the one that is usually the "good" knee. So I'm going to be a hobbling mess on this trip, where I will be meeting up with the new book team for some events, very exciting stuff, but I will be walking slow, making sure I place each knee at the correct angle, and feeling quietly embarrassed about slowing everyone down. 

The embarrassment? It's because I'm fat, and I always assume that people's unspoken thought is that my mobility issues are because of that. The world makes fat a moral issue, it shames people who carry extra weight, it does not consider that it is in fact a chronic medical issue, like diabetes or lupus, which no one gets shamed for. In fact, I inherited my mother's arthritis, which inhibited the free movement of her joints from the time she was in her early forties, and she was a thin woman. I'm sure being fat doesn't help my poor joints, but it's not to root cause. To make matters worse, there is a brand new pain in my left shin, like shin splints, only I have done no exercise that would cause such a thing, but there you go—a hobbling mess.

It was a good week anyway. All the kids came over on Wednesday evening, and that was big fun. My son and his wife seem so happy together, it makes my mother's heart content. My niece who is a college senior in Minneapolis and my nephew who is a college freshman in upstate New York have both been here all week, spending their spring break with their aunt and uncle and cousins in New York, as these siblings both live in Jamaica. That won't be true of my niece for much longer, as she is a brilliant STEM genie, and has been offered a tech world job for good money and residency status. So she will be moving to New York City when she graduates in May, and will stay with us until she and her two prospective roommates, friends who have also been offered good-paying tech jobs upon graduation, can find an apartment, most likely in hipster Brooklyn. All the young people are moving to Brooklyn. Meanwhile my other niece, Dani, who lived here after her graduation and was with us in covid lock down for a while, is giving up her lease in Brooklyn at the end of May to move in with her best friend from college. But that won't happen until September, so she may be back with us till then too. Arrindell Arms looks set to have a busy summer.

Also, happy pub week to Belonging by Michelle Miller! Her friends threw her a big book launch party on Monday evening, and she sprinkled kudos and shine over everyone in her life who has supported her. She really is an incredibly generous soul. I was happy to be there, but I think I won't go to any more of her book events, because the spotlight now should be squarely on her, it's her story, and when I am there, everyone is congratulating me, too. It feels weird. Collaborative writing, once called ghostwriting—I dislike that term but have to admit it is descriptive of the arrangement—is not compatible with too much ego, and while mine is very healthy, I do think that once the book is written, it becomes the subject's turn on the stage, and time for me to step back into the wings, feeling all pride in the work we did, but from the sidelines. Bless Michelle for acknowledging me everywhere so freely, but now it's over to you, my friend. I adore you. 

Wish me luck in Washington, D.C. this week. In addition to my blooming anxiety I am also feeling quite a bit of anticipation. I mean, everything could go well, right? And whatever happens, I will be having a highlight experience, being backstage in a world that few people ever get to see. I do love my life, screaming joints and all. 

Here are a few pictures people took at the book party. I posted these on social media, but I want to have the record here as well.

Sunday, March 12, 2023



My darling niece Leisa, my heart daughter, did a pregnancy shoot with her husband while they were in Mexico on their babymoon vacation last week. I haven't had much time to write here lately, but how could I not post these joyful photographs of my beloveds, who will become first time parents early this summer. We're all headed to Dallas in a couple of weeks for their baby shower, and I can hardly wait to wrap my arm around my niece, place a palm on her belly, and say hello to my soon-to-arrive grand niece. This heralds a whole new stage for our family. I'm so ready.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Toni Forever

"It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath. In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart." —Toni Morrison, Beloved
God, how she wrote. The way she made words shimmer. I imagine Toni as Baby Suggs in that forever place, holy with her great big heart, the patron saint of questing writers. "You want to be a writer, so write," she said to me the summer I was her college intern at Knopf. A link to my recollections of that summer, which I wrote as a tribute on the occasion of her dying, is here. And now the great Toni Morrison has posthumously been honored with her own Forever stamp. How cool is that?

Thursday, March 2, 2023


It just never gets old, opening the box and holding that first bound copy in your hands, the matte feel of the cover, the grassy smell of the paper, the inked words looking all official, the way you dreamed it as a little girl, but never thought such a thing could ever be possible. Dreams, I now understand, are so powerful as to leap hurdles of doubt, geography, implausibility. "All you have to do is envision it," my cousin Helen used to tell me. "The  spirit universe will take care of the rest." You have to know Helen. When she says things like this, people simply believe her.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, this book that I wrote from hours and hours of interviews and conversations with CBS Saturday Morning co-host Michelle Miller and others in her circle through most of last year has been made an Amazon Editor's Pick! This makes me so happy, because despite the foundational wound of her White mother abandoning her Black daughter at birth, Michelle is a beautiful human, her heart as wide as a continent, her whole being irrepressible and generous and brave. 

The pub date is March 14, 2023, but you can pre-order here.