Some of us, without plausible explanation or particular enterprise, are just born lucky!  Look at Lauren and Eric, from Broken Hallelujah: notes from a marriage, who were given the ultimate reprieve of a pot-smoking potty-mouthed prosecutor slated to handle their about-to-be-aired-in-public-court marital woes; I mean, can you say SCORE on that one…So, today, when I was stopped for (apparently) “speeding, ” I felt the gods, in the name of luck, good fortune, and a fortuitous knowledge of the inescapable link between Lauren and me would, similarly, divinely intervene:

Officer No Name  (at this point) waving his hefty (read: oddly, ummm, fat for one who is supposed to serve and protect) arms, so I will pull my Suburban onto the gravelly side of the road and get in line with the other three potential perpetrators.  Forgive me for being an optimist, but at first I thought I had won me a toaster…

“Hi, Ma’am, my name is Officer B****t…”

“Officer what???  I didn’t catch that.  Officer Borat, like before The Dictator?  In the movie?  OMG–are you Sasha Baron Cohen???”

“No, Ma’am, my name is Officer Boass, and…”

“Your name is Bigass?…Now that is just cruel…I mean you are what one would call on the upper end of the normal weight continuum, but isn’t it only in literature–like in the case of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (and you, sir, are certainly no Atticus Finch–no offense)–when one’s name actually reflects a character trait, foible, or flaw…”

“Ma’am, it doesn’t matter what my name is, the reason here…”

“Of COURSE, it MATTERS, what your name is, Dear–I am so sorry, if you thought I was suggesting otherwise…now, what is its origin–Polish? Italian? Jewish?  Is it Jewish?  I bet it is..see, boys (speaking now to children sitting quietly, rather patiently, a bit amusedly, perhaps, in the back of the Suburban), this defender of freedom, this–dare I say it–this Mensch, has offered his undivided attention to us.  Go ahead, Officer Bigass (now, boys, stop giggling), and let us know how we can be of service to YOU?”

“Ma’am, I registered your speed here (holds up electronic toy that looks not unlike something in my nine-year-old’s Spy Gear collection) as going 49 mph in this here 35 mph speed zone.  Now that is, ummm….”

Boys, in unison, somewhat impatiently, from the back of the Suburban:  “14 miles too fast!”

“Ma’am, that’s right.  Thank you, boys. Now I will need to see your license and registration.”

“Are you sure you are Jewish?  I mean, no offense, but you seem, I don’t know. a bit, how shall I put it, unkosher. I mean far be it for me to assume, or accuse even, but–Officer Bigass–I can’t help but feel that this is some sort of a set-up…tell me the truth, was I targeted because I am not wearing underwear…because I am pretty sure that that’s illegal (not the not wearing underwear part, but the targeting part).”

“Ma’am, this is all about speeding…just trying to keep the pedestrians safe…”

“But this is a four lane road with no sidewalks; I think you are the only pedestrian within five miles of here!  Do you think you got picked for this assignment because the other officers felt that your, ummmm, girth would perhaps keep you from helping them out if, say, a criminal were running (walking even, I mean no offense, but you really are, ummmm, big) and needed to be chased?  Come on, you can tell me…I mean I shared with you that I am not wearing underwear.”

“Ma’am, license and registration, please.”

“Ok, but seeing as how much you are perspiring in this heat, not to mention how absolutely uncomfortable you seem in that uniform, is it fair to say that if you don’t return from your vehicle–the one conveniently hidden behind the overgrown brush and dense foliage, in say, ten minutes or so, I should just assume the heat was too much for you and be on my way?”

Well, some of us, it seems, were born humorless and unhappy…

And so here is the ticket that Officer Feckless handed me as he heaved and wheezed and sweated (and smelled rather stinky, as I imagined) in the late summer heat:


And here is the likeness that I want you, dear reader, to store in your memory, so you may be wary should you ever cross paths with this disingenuous subverter of the law (who we can only hope, nay pray, IS in fact wearing underwear):


And here is the image I hold dear to remind me that, while contradictions and incongruities do exist, we–as creatures inhabiting this great planet of ours–are all in some ways one (except you, Officer Bigass;  you are not invited to the oneness party!)

IMG_20130829_205419_648And this photo, Officer Bigass,, is in no way a commentary on you…this pig is, of course, both more fit and more “kosher”…



Birthdays always make me nostalgic, wistful even, remembering a time, which seems not so long ago, when drugs were plentiful and pure, when all friends freely offered and accepted benefits, when skinny dipping uninvited in the local young republicans’ hot tub and then running naked to a safe house after the police were called and being forced to spend several hours cold and wet, in the safe house’s basement, as the police conducted a door-to-door search because one of your cohorts was stupid enough to leave an ounce of his weed in the young republican’s yard was “just what one did.”  Youth, as many of us learned from reading several of the chapters in Broken Hallelujah: notes from a marriage, sure is a wondrous and a many splendid thing.

But there comes a time when one simply has to realize that life is not just about driving too fast, blasting the Ramones, and eating Gummi Bears…am I right?  So, this year, in honor of a more mature approach to birthday revelry, an approbative nod, if you will, to the sobering (pun intended) revelations that a new year may bring, I have chosen to toss my carefree, free spirited nature to the gods and actually plan my big day before the sun even rises on August 18.  So here it is, dear reader, where I will be, and what I will be doing, on my special day, my birthday, in case you want to join me (and feel free to bring a toke, if you have one):

1.  Food I Will be Eating:


The BEST Peruvian tamales and Salvadoran pupusas!

2.  Book I Will be Reading:


Junot, baby, you sure can write…

3.  Movie I Will be Watching:


Alex Chilton–a true original…

4.  Drink I Will be Drinking:


It’s a mixer, right…?

5.  Man I Will be Sexing:

ImageMark Ruffalo–he may not read my blog–so please let him know…

Planned, perhaps too planned, but if life is what truly happens while you are busy making other plans, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow (actually) brings…

“Reality” Revisited

Because I will be speaking at a book group on Monday evening (which I am very excited about, btw), and because I anticipate the question of fact versus fiction regarding the origin of the incidents recounted in Broken Hallelujah: notes from a marriage to be at the forefront of at least one or two participants’ inquiry lists, and, finally, because this guest blog piece–which appeared first on J. Travis Grundon’s blog and later on WETA’s book site, InReads–has not seen the light of day since before the heavy heat hit the DC area, I have decided to re-post it here, on my blog, dedicated to all things Broken (Hallelujah:)  ENJOY!


In Richard Russo’s recently published memoir, Elsewhere, he considers the differences between himself and the fictitious characters about whom he writes, concluding that these differences “allowed me to believe, as writer must, that I was writing fiction, not thinly veiled autobiography.”  This idea–of the blurred line between nonfiction and fiction, the real and the created, the truth and, if not the lie, then the half-truth–has come up countless times and in countless conversations since the December 2012 publication of my book, Broken Hallelujah: notes from a marriage.  Those who know me well, and those who know me less well, have asked with conspiratorial glee to reveal which of the salacious details, the prurient conversations of my story are indeed “true.”  And I, like Russo, find myself questioning that very notion of truth, of what is imagined, and what is indeed “real.”

As a writer, I have found it absolutely necessary to ground myself in familiar details, so that the story I am writing can come to life. For example, in one increasingly problematic chapter—due to the fact that the character’s real-life counterpart has “identified” herself and her spouse as such—I used a familiar setting and actual event in which to paint my fictitious scene. Of course, I may, in some partially unexplored area of my psyche, have a crush on “Matt,” but the scene’s ensuing dialogue was for the most part created from my imagination. Similarly, for those readers delighted (and I appreciate that!) with certain titillating details sprinkled throughout the book, I will reveal that I did have sex in my living room with my husband while watching porn (huge gasp here), but I thoroughly enjoyed writing the chapter, “Pornography,” using the images and dialogue I felt would make the scene the most humorous. Oftentimes, it comes right down to thinking about the “what if…” of a given event or conversation and giving your creative self permission to go (wild) from there.

At a recent symposium on humor and fiction, one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Tropper, remarked that when asked by a friend or neighbor whether he or she was a character in one of his novels, he (a bit ungenerously, perhaps) would become annoyed, and think that “people overestimate their appeal; the people I know wouldn’t make for such interesting reading.”  Now, while I agree that there is a certain logic inherent in that premise, I must say that many chapters of Broken Hallelujah are based on certain people from my actual life who belie that very sentiment. That being said, even when the subject provides a great starting place from which to create a riveting and funny scene, in fiction that person remains just that: a starting place, a springboard to something other than itself.