The Next Ten Years

This is a picture of me and the band I play with, the Manhattan Samba Group. It was taken yesterday. I’m the one in the glasses in front of the guy in the blue shirt. Playing in this band was one of my goals when I was 40. (Part II of that goal was to not be the dorkiest looking member of the band.)


What will I do with the next ten years, besides, hopefully, writing a best-seller? I love a list! But I’m sitting here at 8AM, and not a whole hell of a lot is jumping out at me, aside from “fall in love again,” which pretty much goes without saying. I think I will put that in boldface. 1. Fall in love again.

I wish I had money like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates so I could dedicate the second half of my life to giving it away. Which reminds me. I have never been a regretful person. I’ve made mistakes, but I can always see the path to them and given who I am they were almost unavoidable and sometimes you have to make mistakes. But a couple of times lately, I’ve felt bad about not acting on a number of business ideas that went on to be VERY big businesses for others. I console myself with the fact that I’m not really a great business person and I probably would not have pulled them off. But what I’m wondering about is, why I am even thinking about any of this now?

I think because it reminds me of this. When I was in the 5th grade, I had this amazing teacher, Mr. Beeshaw. He was wonderfully encouraging and inspiring. And he loved music. He taught us some beautiful songs. He was trying to get the boys in the class to get into it, they always sang so quietly and timidly. One afternoon he had me sing a round with the boys in the class. It was a contest — all the boys in the class vs Stacy. I think he picked me because I was the one person in the class who loved music as much as he did, and had no problem singing out. I was not shy.

They were losing. All the girls were cheering me, but I didn’t have the heart to beat them. They looked so miserable and dejected. And scared. I started singing more quietly and when they felt themselves starting to win they got excited and then they finally started singing outloud and happily.

It should have been a happy ending. I didn’t care about winning. I have a healthy ego, already loved music and now they did, too. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had done the wrong thing for me. I feel that to this day. This business thing is kinda similar. It’s not that I didn’t “go for it.” I go for it all the time, you can’t go for them all. It’s something else.

Maybe it’s that I didn’t chose the right things to go for? I’m just certain that I should have sung out as loud as I could and beaten all the boys in the class. I shouldn’t have held back. FUCK. I know what it is. It was because it was the nice thing to do. Which is all very … nice, but sometimes the nice thing to do for others is the wrong thing to do for yourself.

Maybe there’s an element of holding back to my character that made me not successful at business. Or, maybe the only thing thing these things have in common then, is regret. You can’t have it all. Maybe I should feel glad that there’s so little in my life that I regret. (Of course, I could just be in very deep deep denial.)

Hell. I meant to make a list of things for my next ten years. Tomorrow.

What do YOU regret?

Big Brother is Back and Life is Worth Living Again

My favorite just-plain-fun TV show is Big Brother, and it just started up for the summer. God, I love this show. I always get the 24/7 feed–you can watch and listen to the people in the house bicker and plot, anytime of day or night via webcams. I participate in fan chats. I talk about it on Echo. It’s insane how much I enjoy this. Right now 20 people from past seasons are vying for 12 spots in the house. I know only other Big Brother obsessed fans are going to care, but here are my choices, roughly in order:

Kayser, Will, Janelle, Nakomis, Howie, Lisa, Monica, Erika, Allison, James, Jase, Diane.

Meanwhile, a box of the paperback edition of my books arrived today!! They look great. I have to tell you it still blows my mind, to hold a book I wrote in my hands. It just feels all, “oh man, I did this. No way! Way! Way? Way!”


A Kitten, a Turtle and a Bird.

My brother Peter told me he has a vivid memory of me when we were children. We were outside, and I was coming around the side of the house carrying a kitten, while a turtle was following behind me, and a bird was trying to land on me. For some reason I could accept this except for the turtle, although I have always loved turtles, have written about turtles, and even have a series of photographs I took of turtles I found in a church garden in New York City.

The reason I wondered about it was because of the ability of a turtle to keep up. Peter agreed it was a very strange sight, but he remembers it clearly nonetheless. For him, the bird was the stranger part.

I found a quick moving turtle on YouTube, so maybe it’s possible. This is Koopa from I’m only telling this story because I find the Stacy as St. Francis image very flattering. I hope it’s true. Maybe it’s true. I’ve always had an intense love of animals. When I was young I was kept home a lot due to illness. So while everyone was out playing or at school, I befriended anything that moved. Including bugs. I love bugs. (Except spiders, cock roaches, especially flying cock roaches, and june bugs.) By the way, I learned that many writers were ill as children. It makes sense. Forced to stay home and live in their own heads.

Anyway, back to the adorable Koopa.

[Video removed because the link no longer works.]

Is singing Brahms Requiem a good thing or a bad thing?

Tonight, I may or may not go to a summer sing of Brahms Requiem. (Summer sings are things choral people go to, so they can sing their favorite pieces while we’re all on summer break.)

Brahms Requiem is a favorite of mine, as are all requiems. The first time I sang this though, was right after a cat of mine died, and yeah, a cat, but it devastated me. I was singing it again about six months later when my mother died. Usually requiems are redemptive, but because of the timing, this one reminds me of bad things you can’t do anything about, and how some things suck no matter how you look at it.

This reminded me of a piece I wrote which was killed, alas, by the magazine I was writing it for. It was about change. At the end I talk about a time in my life when I was spending most of my time sitting on my couch in a stupor. Something happened that just flattened me. Here’s the part I like:

I would have been thrilled to change and end my suffering, but I didn’t have a clue about how to begin. So I just sat there, trying to watch television, with this ever present ache. Of all things, a TV movie about alien abduction called Taken came on, and the main character said, “We’re all standing on the edge of a cliff. All the time, every day. A cliff we’re all going over. Our choice isn’t about that. Our choice is about whether we want to go kicking and screaming or whether we might want to open our eyes and our hearts to what happens once we start to fall.” For the first time in months, the ache began to subside.

Sometime after my alien-abduction-TV-movie-epiphany, I was watching a rerun of Sex and the City. (I get all my best wisdom from TV, apparently.) At the end, Carrie Bradshaw comments about her imperfect, ever-changing life. “Maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we’ve been given, and accessorize the outfit we’ve got.”

It was time to get up off the couch. Don’t quit. Embrace the fall. And wear a nice outfit.

Ever since, whenever I feel bad, I just chant this over and over: don’t quit/embrace the fall, don’t quit/embrace the fall, don’t quit/embrace the fall.

I bring this all up because sometimes it’s hard to tell if singing Brahms Requiem is equivalent to laying on the couch in a stupor, or embracing the fall.

Party Day

Yesterday was all about the parties. First I went to my friend Cricket’s party. (Actually, before that, Jonathan and I saw The Omen, which wasn’t very good.) Cricket works at the medical examiners office and she was having a going away party for one of her co-workers. I didn’t take a lot of pictures there, but I got one of the doggie love of my life, Bean:


And the fabulous Cricket and the amazing Anne. This isn’t the greatest shot of either, but I include it here as proof that yes, I do have friends and here are two of them:


This is Lawrence’s tatoo, which is not finished, but it’s of an autopsy and in it someone’s about to get their skull removed. It pains me that my path in life didn’t lead to the medical examiner’s office. The work is SO interesting and I love the people.


Onto my very last birthday event — my family came in from Long Island and Vermont to take me out to dinner. It was great, and such a pleasure to not be the one who has to take a train home at the end of the evening! This is my brother Douglas’s family, Greg, Robin and Ellie:


Now, I must apologize to my brothers, but they were sitting closest to me and the angle was not flattering. For the record, my brothers are handsomer than the scrunched in faces you see in these pictures. This is my scrunched in brother Peter and his wife Karen and their son Chris. Hey, Karen’s a little scrunched in here, too. Sorry Karen. Chris escaped the scrunched-in look.


This is Pete and Karen’s daughter Nicole, with my father and step-mother Arlene (who have been married 30 years!):


And this is my scrunched in brother Douglas and my father. Actually, Doug doesn’t look so much scrunched as totally drunk and tipped over. I swear he wasn’t loaded. We’re all probably too old and gray to be able to tell anymore, but my father and brothers all have light hair and eyes and coloring. I am SO adopted. Thanks family, for coming into the city and for the dinner and presents!!