Truth or Fiction

My Daughter recently read the 2006 book “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini.  While reading the book, she thought the fictional High School in the book sounded a lot like a school she considered applying to when it came time to choose a high school.  (In Manhattan we apply to public high and middle schools) So, she researched Vizzini, found that he did indeed attend that particular high school, and more distressing, found that Vizzini committed suicide in 2013.  The manner in which he killed himself was the same method that the protagonist in the book attempted.

Last week, the author of  “How to Murder your Husband” was charged with, you guessed it, murdering her husband. (disclaimer- I have not read this book or done research on the subject)

So what do you think today’s topic is going to be?

After finding out what happened to Vizzini, my daughter asked me “Even if a book is labeled fiction, should we question what the author has written about?  Is it our responsibility to delve deeper into the harsher things authors write?”

I responded- “I don’t know.”

As a would be novelist, I know that I am writing a fictional story.   Are there similarities to me? Sure.  My main character drinks tea.  I drink tea.  It was easy to write a detail about something I know- it added a little depth and didn’t require me to do research. It has become a harmless quirk which makes the character delightful (at least I hope it does- we all know I am not delightful…) But the topic of my story, the plot? Well, that’s fiction…

Let’s just think about Gillian Flynn.  Would you want to be married to her?  I know “Gone Girl” freaked me out.  I actually said “No Way” multiple times as I read it. Could you be married to her and not wonder what was really going on in her head?


Does a reader have the responsibility to wonder if someone is writing fiction, or a thinly veiled memoir? Do the loved ones of an author need to worry if an author keeps writing about disturbing topics? If your significant other, or your co worker or your child is writing about suicide do you say something?

One of the first commandments of fiction writing is “Write what you know”. Under that assumption it would be safe to assume that all fiction contains some truth, or relates to the author in some way. But how do we tell truth from fiction? At what point to we say “Wow.  Maybe this should be looked into.”

Now as Vizzini had been in a mental health facility, I’m pretty confident that his loved ones knew of his struggles.  But what about other authors? What about the ones who write about things, but haven’t had any outward signs?

Should the reader of a fictional work question the content? Or should we just go with the assumption that the work is mostly fiction?


Let’s Get Physical

For the past month or so we’ve been discussing what are the boundaries that partners have when it comes to discussing appearances and habits: do we have the right to say if something about the other isn’t working. And people were sort of all over the place as to what is “good” or “bad” feedback. But in my last post about physical appearance, one or two people simply said that they would tell their partner to change something physical because they simply weren’t physically attracted to them anymore.


What happens if you partner changes and you are no longer attracted to them?

But first, let’s look in the rearview mirror to when your relationship began: were you physically attracted to your partner?  Was the reason you met because you thought they were attractive? Or did they approach you because they thought you were attractive? Be honest with yourself…did looks matter at the onset?

Fast forward how ever many years you are together. Do their looks still make you sigh just a little? Do you still look at them and think that you can’t wait to be alone? I don’t necessarily mean sex, more like,  are you looking forward to just being alone with them and whatever intimacy you have?

Ok- now I am going to sex.  Is it critical for partners to be sexually intimate with one another? Does sex matter in a long term relationship? Is a relationship without sex just a roommate situation? Is a healthy relationship one that embodies both physical, emotional and practical intimacy? Or can you have a relationship without one of the parts?

For this next part, I am going on the assumption that sex is integral to a healthy relationship. What if something about your partner turns you off so much you no longer want to have sex with them? Do you have the right to tell them to change whatever offends you?

Now I bring up a sort of anecdote: I hate back hair.  I mean, detest it. I have stopped dating men when I realized they had back hair because that is a physical turn off for me, yet I would never ask someone to get rid of it. But, what if my back hairless husband developed back hair as he got older? Do I stop having sex because I can’t stand it? Do I ask him to shave it? Do I say nothing and carry on, even though I am repulsed? (seriously- I hate back hair) For the record, my Husband has not turned into Sasquatch…

Where is the line to what is acceptable and reasonable?

With age and relationship tenure, I hope that my partner is still attractive to me, and vice versa, due to the other things that we share.  But is that a fairy tale? I’ve read some alarming statistics as to how often couples in long term relationships have sex, and I started to wonder: is it really just a lack of time/tiredness issue? Or is it something deeper?

And now I open it up to the floor. What do you think? And feel free to chime in on one or many things that I threw out there. As always, your comments and participation made me think and question.  And we know I love to ask the questions with no clear answers…



I Need Your Opinion

One of my close friends had surgery recently.  Her ailment required the opinions of two specialists.  Of course, each specialist suggested a different path to get to the desired outcome.  By friend was a bit overwhelmed by all the information in front of her and asked the three other members of our little clan to give our thoughts on the process.

What I found interesting about this was the three separate approaches we had to making a decision.

  1. My Approach: I asked her what the pros and cons of each method were- the best case and worst case scenario
  2. Friend 1: She asked a Doctor friend for what he would recommend if the procedure were to be needed by someone he knew
  3. Friend 2: She described  her own issues with surgery and healing, and what her friends who had gone through the same procedure  thought, and did

Three people, three different methods of thought.  All valid. And oddly, all these methods led my friend to the same conclusion (coincidentally, also the decision she and her Husband were leaning towards anyway)

When you make decisions, what are the factors involved? Personally, I  make lists of the possible outcomes. (Yes- I will do anything possible to use a list.  I love lists) I formulate best and worst case scenarios.  I think about acceptable risk. This is the numbers part of me- I can’t help but calculate odds….no matter how hard I try to be a words girl, in the end,it always comes back to numbers.

I read about a subject.  And I read.  And I read. If I need to make a decision I try to read as many varied opinions as possible.

I ask questions. (Shocking that I would ask questions) To me, the greatest knowledge comes from the answers that people give you, both the verbal and the non verbal (if you’re looking at someone, check out the body language) Also, a non answer is also a very telling answer- if someone avoids the question, or gives you an inconclusive answer, what does that say?

And, in the spirit of asking questions: How do you make a decision?  How do you formulate an opinion? If a friend were to ask your advice, what method would you use to help them out?

Is one method superior to another?

I need your opinion: how do you form an opinion?

The Long Game

As I’ve told you before, I’m a lousy Words With Friends player.  My Husband beats me 7 out of 10 games, and I have a much larger vocabulary.  I also have a winning record against in him in just about every game except pool…

So why am I monumentally bad at WWF?

Because I play a long game, and my Husband plays a short game.  He looks at the board the way it is at that moment, he looks at the letters in his deck, and he makes a move.  I look at my letters, look at the board, and then I try to “save” letters if I think they will be better used three moves from now. I always think about how many points I may get instead of what I can get.  This is not how to win at WWF- winning WWF requires being in the moment, playing the short game.

But what about life? What works better: playing the short game where you live in the moment, or the long game, playing with the future in mind?

Ideally, we should be all be alternatively playing the short and long game: figuring out when each different path is needed.  But do switch up looking at things, or do we find our method and just go with it every time? Now that I’ve recognized why I am not a successful WWF player, I’ve been winning slightly more often, but I can’t break the old habits that easily- I still find myself plotting three steps ahead. Why is it so hard to break the pattern?

I am a careful planner- I think ahead to what I’m going to make for dinner, I plan vacations, I plan how to spend my free time.  No one would ever label me spontaneous. And honestly, I can’t understand the mindset of those who don’t: one of my friends went on a vacation last year, by plane, and they didn’t reserve anything at the place they went to: not a car, not a hotel room, nothing. Now it worked out for them, but they waited in lines, had trouble finding a room at a reasonable price and found it hard to do anything because it turns out there was some sort of festival in town that week, and things were reserved in advance.  I could not operate like that.  Ever.  The minute I had to go to three places looking f or a room at the Inn I would have been crazed. Some people aren’t- some people just go with the flow…

And what about relationships?  I know plenty of people who are dreaming of their wedding while on a first date, while others are thinking of the date as a one time deal, maybe it will go to two?

Job strategy.  Do you vie for the corner office at the company you’re at?  Or do you job hop, hoping to find greener pastures at different companies?

Do you buy a fixer house and have long range plans with how you want to fix it, or do you flip properties as your needs change?

Child rearing.  When you parent, are you thinking of just getting through the year and the stage, or are you thinking about long term effects for your child?

So what do you all think? What is better- plotting steps out with the future in mind, or just doing what you need to get by in the moment? Can you successfully merge the two trains of thought, or do you find yourself predominantly leaning towards one side? Inquiring minds want to know…

Trust Me, Trust me Not

Trust.  Do we want to be able to trust our partner? Now without doing a research study, or taking a poll, I’ll venture to say that trust is something the majority of people want in a their relationship.  Without trust, there can be no intimacy.  Without intimacy there is no relationship. Does that seem reasonable?

Ok.  What if you begin to doubt your partner?

Though infidelity immediately leaps to mind, trust can rear it’s ugly head in any number of ways. I know a couple who had issues over finances: partner A no longer trusted partner B with anything money.  So, for today’s exercise, we’re going to go with financial trust.

Money is a tough issue- how do you divide and use your assets? I see this on HGTV all the time- one is a spender and one is a bit more frugal.  What if the frugal one starts to think that the spender is spending too much? What if the spender is hiding purchases from the frugal? Does a little layer of mistrust seep in? Does a whole level of mistrust push its way in?

What happens if one partner doesn’t trust the other?

Is a relationship over the minute Partner A does not trust Partner B?

Does this diminishing, or deterioration of trust ruin the intimacy, thus eroding the relationship?

Can you be in a relationship with someone you don’t trust?

Now let’s switch it a little- what if it’s little things?  What if you partner likes the house colder than you do and lowers the thermostat, but says they didn’t.  Is this a small nothing, or is it a big deal?

Can you regain trust in someone? Does time and communication (and perhaps therapy) help heal the wound of mistrust?

I know- I know.  It’s like I’m doing a survey, which I sort of said I didn’t need. But I am wondering if a little inkling of mistrust isn’t what ends up killing relationships.  Maybe irreconcilable differences is really a way of saying, “I have no proof, but my relationship didn’t smell right anymore.”

How much does trust, or lack of, effect (affect?) your relationship?

Let’s end the week with a good philosophical discussion!!



Why We Blog

I haven’t done a blog about blogging in awhile…figured you missed them…

What is the  difference between writing a blog and writing an article for a magazine or newspaper? Interaction between writer and reader. I never comment on things I read in the Times or Real Simple- I read, think, and discard.  But blogs…sometimes I feel so compelled I actually add my own two cents into the little box at the bottom of the page. And sometimes, others are compelled to leave their opinion on mine.  In fact, I often ask questions of my readers so that they feel compelled to directly speak to me. I like the interaction.  I thrive on the interaction.  The interaction is why I blog.

Case in point- my blog last Wednesday had over 100 comments.  Granted, half of them were my responses, but still….that’s a lot of time that people took out of their day to join in a discussion.

I love that.

I love the idea of people from all walks of life discussing an issue that is universally relatable.  We all got to hear differing view points and think about aspects that we had never previously considered. It was a great thinking and learning moment for anyone who took part. And isn’t that what life is? Thinking and learning something new every day? (though, to be fair, one of my blog friends recently wrote that she is tired of learning something new every day- she just wants to experience something new every day…but that’s a whole different thing)

Blogger Rachel McAlpine (Write into Life) recently did a poll of older bloggers, asking why they blogged and such.  It was a very informative study about what goes on in our minds, and Rachel is an amazing writer and blogger. But, there was one comment that sort of bothered me – One responder said that they only wrote a blog, that they didn’t read blogs of others.  OK- I understand the time commitment it takes to follow and comment on blogs.  I know that I have days where I can’t read at all, days when I choose between reading 20 and not commenting, or reading 10 and commenting. But I try to stay in the game.  Not out of obligation, but because blogging works best when there is give and take- when someone is not preaching, but rather opening up the forum for debate. That is what blogging is to me.

And honestly- I get so many ideas for blogs from comments that I receive. Last month I asked the question- should you tell someone when they don’t look their best. Since then I have written two follow ups, with more to come.  There were so many viewpoints I had never considered, and I’m finding it fascinating that there are so many ways to look at one question.  Every comment that I read makes me think of something else, makes me ask another question, let’s me change the variable just a little bit. I know this is what I envisioned when I began blogging- expansion of thoughts and ideas.  Interaction of people who might never have met under conventional circumstances.  Opening up the mind to possibilities that one never knew existed.

So here’s the question for today: Do you like the interaction between blogger and reader?  Does the interaction make blogging better for you, or does it make it worse? Why?

And of course- Why do you blog?

LA Tries a Book Review

After a truthful one line criticism of a book that I had read, The amazing Ann from suggested I try my hand a book review.  So here goes: SPOILERS… There will be SPOILERS

“The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang Published June 5, 2018

Everyone was talking about this book- magazines, blogs, etc. The teaser for this book had me intrigued: Woman with Asperger’s hires an escort to teach her how to be in a relationship.  I thought to myself – Oh- this is going to be like “The Rosie Project” which is about a man on the spectrum who hires a woman to help him become more normal. I loved that book.  It’s charming and sweet.  That’s the hope that I had for TKQ.

Boy was I wrong.


First off- porn.  There is no other word to describe the beginning of this book other than pure, unadulterated sex scenes.  Now, I’m no prude, but I don’t need to read about THAT MUCH SEX in a book.  Secondly- the  book is intimating that people with Asperger’s can only have a relationship if it involves sex, and they must pay for it because no one else is willing to sleep with them.  I’m pretty sure that was not the author’s intention, but that’s how I viewed it.

OMG- all the sex.  Licking, biting….seriously- there was so much of that it could have been mistaken for a food review.  And it was gratuitous sex- it didn’t enhance the novel in any way, it just detracted from the main point.

What was the main point?  To show that people on the spectrum (mainly women) often  mask their feeling and quirks in an attempt to make themselves appear more “normal”.  They figure out how to navigate society and hide their “differences”. This is a pretty noble cause for a book, and I would love to read a book about this.  Alas, this was just not the right book.  The message of the author in the book comes across as shallow, trite and just not enjoyable.

Now to the love story angle- because of course these people fall in love.  Well- I like to see how two characters fall in love.  I did not see two characters fall in love.  I saw two characters (who were apparently the finest and hottest specimens of humankind ever) have a lot of lusty sex.  I saw two characters lust after one another.  There was a little conversation thrown in, but really it was peripheral.

And- they were hiding things from one another.  They were “falling in love” yet, they weren’t falling for the actual person- they were falling for the masked version. She was trying to hide her Asperger’s from him, he was hiding details of his family/father.  How do you fall in love with someone who is hiding things from you?  Doesn’t make sense to me. By the time they told each other the secrets they were “in love” and these secrets didn’t bother them.

Yeah right.  That’s totally how it would happen in real life.

After I read this book, I thought “What was this author thinking when she wrote the book?” So I read the author note: this was the only redeeming part of the book.  The teacher of her five year old daughter told her that she thought the child was on the spectrum.  Hoang thought “No way” and had her daughter tested and such.  Doctor did not find any reason to declare the child on the spectrum. Hoang was intrigued though, and started reading more about autism and Asperger’s.  What she found out started to surprise her- many women on the spectrum try to act “normal” and hide their differences (see- that’s where I got that point I made above) She began to wonder about her own behavior pattern, how many times she acted in a certain way in order to fit in. And she wondered how many undiagnosed cases of autism there are amongst women, because women are able to mask themselves.

“The Kiss Quotient”- don’t waste you time.  Ridiculous waste of words. Authors note- totally worth reading


Will, Want, Motivated

The following is an example of what it is like to be in my writing group, or to be my daughter when I am critiquing written work.  It is also what it is like to be my friend.  I can be quite pedantic…

The following definitions are brought to you by

Will- the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action

want-have a desire to possess or do

motivation- the reason one has for acting or behaving in a particular way

My friend SF and I recently got into an argument  discussion about the above mentioned words.  The specific topic was how you treat your partner:

  1. Are you WILLING to do something for your partner
  2. Do you WANT to do something for your partner
  3. Are you MOTIVATED to do something for your partner.

SF thinks that these are all saying the same thing.  I said the only one that matters is WANT.  Here’s my rationale:

To be willing to do something, or have the will means that you might act in a specific manner because you know that it is something your partner wants you to do.  You would not do this thing for any other reason than your partner desires it, and you might not be 100% on board with this idea.

To be motivated, or have motivation means it’s a quid quo pro sort of deal.  You are motivated to act in a certain way because you know that you will get something in return.

To want means you have absolutely no qualms about doing this for your partner, it is something you are 100% on board for, and you don’t expect anything in return.

Does anyone understand what I’m saying besides me?

I want you to think about relationships that you are in- they don’t have to be romantic.  Family or friendship works as well.  When you do something for someone else- what propels you to act in the way that you do?

Let’s give some examples.  I love all genres of film except gory horror,

  1. My husband is willing to go to the Quad Cinema with me and see an art house film because there is a good Italian restaurant across the street
  2. My Husband is motivated to go to the Upper West Side really good IMAX movie theater (hard to get to by mass transit from my apartment) because he knows there’s a good French dip place
  3. My Husband wants to see the new Avengers movie no matter where it’s playing because food is a non issue.

My Husband is all about the food- he begins his day by asking “What’s for breakfast” followed by “what’s for lunch” ending with “what’s for dinner”.  He is willing to do something or motivated to do something if there is a carrot (literally and figuratively) dangled in front of his nose.  Willing and motivated are conditional: you will not do them unless there is strong reason for you to do so.

Wanting is unconditional.  Wanting requires nothing in return. Wanting to do something comes from deep inside of you.  You want to do something because you love someone and the only thing you want is for them to be happy. And sure- you loving them is sort of a reward, but you shouldn’t need a reward to love or be loved.  Love is unconditional.

See- wanting and love are both unconditional.

So what’s the point? Words matter.  What you say, how you say it – it all matters. Think about the words you use when talking about the people in your life.  Are they unconditional words?  If they’re not unconditional, ask yourself why you are putting conditions on the people that you care about.

So- what do you think?  Are all these words the same, or are their subtle differences ad nuances?  Do you think the words that you choose matter?





You know my family just completed a college tour road trip- 7 colleges, 16 states, 2800 miles.  Seeing 7 colleges brought the total up to 15 colleges visited.  My daughter has narrowed down her choices and is now starting the application process.  Here’s how she narrowed it down.

There are about 4000 colleges in the US.  Where do you go from there?  Well, the editor of the Princeton Review “Top 382 Colleges in America” gave a talk at my daughter’s school, and handed out copies of the book.  So we went from 4000 to 382 pretty quickly.  (Let me add, this is how we did it- you can narrow down the field anyway you want) But, along side this book, we had done a few tours of college campuses.  We spread the field a bit- we visited a few different campuses- state schools, private schools, undergrad enrollment less than 5000, between 5 and 10000, and greater.  Urban and less urban.  After viewing the different options my daughter knew the following:

  1. 5000-10000 undergrad would be ideal. Larger was better than smaller
  2. Urban or town setting.  When you walked out of the campus gates, there needed to actually be something you could walk to
  3. Co-ed
  4. Strong humanities/pre law  program
  5. No farther west than the mid-west
  6. Law team/club/fraternity
  7. limited social fraternity
  8. limited team culture
  9. Low student/faculty ratio
  10. small class size
  11. classes taught by Professors not TA’s

We then went through the 382 colleges book page by page.  She narrowed down the field to 41 schools.   Of those 41 schools she broke it down into three levels-

  1. reach schools (schools where admittance rate for her was hovering around 15% or less,
  2. target schools (schools which she has a decent shot of getting into, meaning her grades and test scores fall into the middle to high range of where their admitted students are
  3. likely, which is schools where she is at the highest point or above where their students are

After separating them, she got on the mailing lists of any schools not already sending her information.  She attended road shows when available- road show meaning, representatives from the schools come to our area and give a presentation about the school.  She went on school websites and instagrams and whatever social media the school was using to promote itself.

Then she made a list of schools that she wanted to see in person to see if she liked the culture.  Honestly, she knew 3 minutes into an information session if she liked the school.  The person who introduces you to the school is a great barometer of what the school will be like- she separated the types of schools as follows:

  1. Touchy-feely- schools where the advisors have advisors.  These schools are very nurturing and will hold your hand through everything
  2. Cold- schools where they sort of feed you to the wolves- highly competitive atmosphere
  3. Pseudo intellectual- the kids are incredibly smart, and they let you know it at every single opportunity
  4. Quirky- kids that think outside the box about everything
  5. Intellectual- kids really do sit on the common and discuss philosophy
  6. Go team- half the campus will have there faces painted on game day, and students travel to away games
  7. Susie sorority- more than 50% of students are in Greek life and their is greek housing on campus
  8. granola- kids are so chill that literally nothing bothers them
  9. Academic- most kids have at minimum a double major
  10. Commuter- kids leave campus on weekends
  11. Involved- kids are involved in at least three different areas of campus life

Obviously, schools can carry more than one banner, but it’s very easy to break them down into categories.  Know thyself- which type of kid are you?  What are you looking for in a school? Which type makes you comfortable?  Which type of school would you thrive in? What type of people do you want to surround yourself by?

And now the list is down to 15, including two schools she has not toured/info session yet, but will most probably make the cut.  She will most probably apply to 15 schools- her school recommendation is 10 schools, but since she is top heavy on reach schools, she is spreading the field.  With the common app, applying to more schools is very easy- 90% of the work is done.  She has also been waived from admission fees at some of the schools, so cost is evening itself out.

Now- some of you are saying- “My kid won’t do this.” Some of you are parents that are asking the questions when you visit schools.  Some of you have kids who are sitting in the back row of info sessions and are on their phone the whole time.  Here’s what I say to that:

Maybe your child should not go to college right after High School.  No matter what anyone say, college is an option.  No one has to go to college.  College does not mean you will be successful – successful meaning that you will have an enriching career that challenges you and that you love.  If your kid hasn’t been interested in studying, and shows no interest in the college process, let them explore other options.  Colleges report six year graduation rates, because there are a lot of kids (going full time) who require 6 years to get a BA/BS degree, and it’s not usually because they changed majors.  Think about that.  Isn’t it better that a kid gets a job before they go to college so that they could think about what they want to do, instead of wasting time and money?

Also- community college.  Work a job, take a class.  Maybe they’ll find something they love.  Tech school- hello- to be an electrician or plumber or IT guy you have to be really smart, but they don’t require college.  And you will have a career and a skill.


You can think about which college you want to go to.

You can decide not to go to college

You can go to trade school.

You can be an entrepreneur. (but please take at least one accounting class so you have an idea about balance sheets)

The only bad option is doing something but not putting your heart and soul into it.  Enter the next phase of life passionate about something.  My daughter is passionate about continuing her education- that is evident by her choices.  But there is nothing wrong with being a 17 year old kid who does not know what they want to do.  i’m 54 and I still don’t know what I want to do.

The choice is figuring out what you want to do next.  If you love something, it always ends up working out.

Subtle Arts

My Husband recently read the book “The Subtle Art of not giving a F&*%” .  (I did not read the book, so any interpretation I have of this book is through my husband, the accountant)

Husband: You should read this book.  It’s got a really interesting perspective. The author says that if you don’t think your partner looks good you should tell them”

Me: Is this guy in a relationship?

Husband: He says it promotes honesty

Me: Maybe honesty doesn’t belong in healthy relationships.

Ok- here’s the thing.  I want honesty.  I really do.  But, I also don’t want to hear that I’ve gained weight, or that a dress doesn’t flatter me.So what does that make me?  A hypocrite?  Or someone that thinks that the person I love should think I’m beautiful just because they love me?

I know there’s the joke that if someone asks their partner “How do I look?”, the immediate stock response is “Wonderful” but really, shouldn’t you always think your partner looks wonderful, even if they’re in sweats and uncombed hair? Isn’t that part of love, seeing someone at their worst and still thinking they are the best thing ever?  It’s easy to love someone when all the pieces are in the right order, when they are at the top of their game so to speak.  But if you think of it as a bell curve, your partner is going to be average the majority of the time.  You need to love the average.  You also need to love that bottom 20%.

Because that’s how to be in a relationship: loving the person 100% even when they’re at 30%.  The honesty comes in accepting the worst things that your partner is, being honest about their faults and shortcomings, and loving them anyway.  Do you need to point out their flaws? I’m going with no- they probably know what their weaknesses are. Remember: nagging is not a great way to have a strong relationship either. If you can’t accept a persons flaws, you can’t be with that person.  See, that’s the thing that crushes relationships- having the expectation that things will be different because your partner will change the exact way you want them to.

You know what else crushes relationships?

Telling your partner that they don’t look good.

So, on that note, tell the person you love that they are beautiful, because if they put up with all your flaws, they are truly the most beautiful person in the world.