25 March 2007

More to love in NYC!!

My friend Glen, who is a native NY'er but a nice guy anyway - it's not like he can help where he was hatched - sent me this link today. He suggested I check it out.

I want to see this! Soon! Looks great and I loved the interview with the writers and their concept sounds wonderful. I hope I get back to NYC before this play is finished. I hope it's well-received if it's as good as it sounds and, most of all, I hope that it gives people a sense of what "The Program" is all about. With so many celebrities racking up DUI's left and right - I think more needs to be said about AA.

My only exposure to the program was in the form of a man who claimed to be a 13 year member but who basically had all of the active attributes of an alcoholic - without the alcohol. He might have been easier to be around had he actually popped a cold one. At the time I met him, I was three years away from finding the program myself, but if I had based my first impression on this guy from Virginia, I don't think I would have felt too hopeful. Fortunately, the good far outweighed the bad and most people don't behave in such an appalling and unseemly manner. I probably wouldn't have visited another meeting if that had been the case.

But back to the point - I'm glad to see a dialogue, a play, books, open discussions, interviews and, hopefully more books on the subject. The disease is still active and running rampant and it's not going to go away. I hope that this play opening signals a trend and proves to be a turning point. We need to talk about this stuff. There is no rug large enough to sweep these issues under and there's no reason to try and hide it.


Thanks, Glen for the link.

You can also visit their "MySpace" Page: Bill W. And Dr. Bob

You can also visit MY "MySpace" Page at: Susie

An Interview with the Authors

I'm enrolling my cats...

19 March 2007

A Tale of Ten Years: Paris to New York City...

...and several points in between.

Ten years ago today, I was very nervous. I was going to have company. I'd "met" this French guy on the 'net early one morning in July of 1996 and now he was flying to visit me for the first time.

I'd looked at the map and I realized the Atlantic Ocean was pretty darn wide. The way I saw it, things could go one of two ways: Either he would be exactly like the man I had conjured up in my mind, based on the many thousands of words and photos we had exchanged over the past nine-month period (I already knew he had that famous killer French accent that could reduce the most seasoned and sophisticated American female to a puddle.) Or, he could in no way resemble my preconceptions and expectations - that instead of the handsome, slim, classic featured, head-turning visage his photographs depicted, he would be forty years older, 40 lbs. over-weight, a nightmarish dork that the most desperate American woman, (accent notwithstanding), would turn away from in haste and never consider offering a ride anywhere, even if she had not had a date in years and should be walking around outside with a brown paper bag over her head.

For all I knew, this French guy could have been featured on the French version of "America's Most Wanted", and he could have paid someone to pen all of those eloquent, deeply moving, beautifully constructed e-mails he had written - sort of a cyber Cyrano de Bergerac - and maybe he would turn out to be the antithesis of all I was hoping for; the person I felt I already knew after sharing so many secrets and dreams.

In the months leading up to this 18 March 1997 visit, I would log on each day and wait in eager anticipation for that AOL guy (yes, I was an AOL subscriber at the time - I'm not proud) to announce, "You've Got Mail", hardly able to contain myself so eager for his next brilliantly written offering. Michel and I did the international version of "You've Got Mail" long before Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan signed on for the part. I'm reasonably certain Nora Ephron stole the concept by somehow secretly hacking into our computers and reading our letters. I can't prove it, of course, but I'd almost bet the farm on it. If I had one.

I had been pacing in my Fort Lauderdale home, walking from the kitchen to the living room to my office back to the living room and thank God it was sturdy Mexican tile or I would have worn a path and left marks, waiting for his call to tell me that he had cleared customs (IF our government had allowed this potential French fugitive entrance into our country - you never know...), and where I should look for him, IF I decided to go through with this charade and pick him up.

The phone rang. "Susie, this is Michel. How are you?" (No matter what, even when he's been frustrated and annoyed with me, he's always been unfailingly polite about it - must be a French thing...). "I am at Miami Airport and I will be standing under a sign that says, "Meeting Point B. Shall I see you soon?".

I hopped in the car and drove to Miami Airport. I probably got lost I was so nervous. I parked the car in the parking deck and hoped that I wouldn't be mugged on the walk over to the International Terminal. You may not know it, but they kill people for sport at Miami International. Really. Remember those poor Dutch tourists back in 1994? Yeah. I was putting my life on the line, for this potential French faker.

I looked around, finally found "Meeting Point B", and instantly I recognized the man. He was exactly like his photos, only more handsome if that's possible. He didn't look like anyone who had just spent 9 hours on an airplane. His beautiful smile, warm embrace and yes, that accent. It was all there and he was the real deal. Any residual nervousness dissipated almost instantly. This was my friend, the one I knew through thousands of words and numerous photos. The quiet manner, chivalrous nature, unassuming personality, not to mention even more handsome than any photo I had of him, the brilliant mind and intriguing thought processes - yes, it was intact. Only better.

Little did we know what a wild ride we were embarking upon. So many adventures, air miles, road trips, train rides, more air trips and tons of long-distance and so many more words were in our future. A few epic arguments. Periods of cooling off because I would get mad over really stupid things and go for a few weeks of ignoring his e-mails or simply getting angry over the dumbest things possible. And somehow, he's always been there for me.

Yesterday, the doorbell rang. Daisies. On a Saturday. It wasn't my birthday. True, it was St. Patrick's Day, but I'm not Irish. I thanked the delivery man and truthfully had no clue who they might be from. I opened the card and I got one of those lumps that form in your throat when something touches you in a rare and meaningful way. In an instant, after reading the card that accompanied those beautiful flowers, I was back at "Meeting Point B" in Miami Airport. Flashes of a nice past. Could it really have been ten years ago? How fast it flew.

I hope he doesn't mind, but I have to quote the card because it meant so very much to me: I'm sharing this on the premise that "it's easier to ask forgiveness than it is permission".

"Chere Susie, 10 years ago I was about to fly to Miami, unaware it would be a life-changing experience. Thank you for all these wonderful memories and thank you to your parents for their great welcome. Love, Michel.".

Oh Michel, meeting you was tantamount to winning the AOL lottery, if there had been such a thing. I'm not sure what my life would be like had I not wandered into that French chat room one morning in July, almost 11 years ago, but I know it wouldn't have been as rich and interesting as knowing you has made it. You nudged me into writing - your encouragement, prodding, niggling, and sometimes stern wisdom and direction have been crucial to any literary success I've been fortunate to know.

Knowing Michel, and the impossible odds of our points ever coming close to an intersection, always reminds me of Robert Frost's famous poem. I mean, what was I even doing in a French chat room at around 5:00 AM in July? It's not like I speak French! I took three years in high school which means the number of words and phrases that I can say, would take all of 30 seconds, and that's if I'm speaking very slowly and with an exaggerated southern drawl. You just never know where your actions and stumbling around might take you and every now and then, you're cosmically in line for a gift you couldn't have ever conceived of or had the ability and requisite foresight to articulate a request.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

The measure of a true friend, at least in my not so humble opinion, is one who will take you exactly as you are, even the annoying and unattractive parts of your personality, encourage your talents, celebrate your victories and offer a compassionate embrace when things don't go as planned. A friend will walk with you when you know where you're going and hold your hand when you feel disoriented, lost and confused. A friend will tell you when your writing is reasonably good but a real friend will let you know in no uncertain terms on those occasions when you've not given anything close to your best effort and is unafraid to let you know that you can do it better, reach deeper, and suggest you try another angle. A friend will offer an opinion and advice, even if he suspects you may not like what he's going to say and, if he is a friend, and an exceptional one at that, whatever anger and irritation you initially experience when you hear his counsel will eventually evaporate and, if you're not terribly stupid, you will heed his advice because you will remember that his batting average has earned your respect and makes him credentialed.

It doesn't happen overnight, but if the raw components are present, a trend will emerge, and you will find yourself in the middle of a blessing.

I have an exceptional number of people in my life who I know exist by design - and not by accident. Sometimes I sit here and I look around my office at cards, gifts, notes, even a flute on my wall and books, dvds, sometimes TOO many chocolates and each item my eyes fall upon reminds me of how huge my blessing account truly is. Much more impressive than my bank account and so much more precious. I don't deserve any of it, but if you're reading this and you are one of those priceless "deposits", just be on notice how much you mean to me. I don't really need to list names - you know who you are.

But for today, I want to remember the magical March of 1997.

Ten years later, Michel, my respect, admiration and affection has grown. I know I speak for my family, and from my heart, when I say that you are a rare and exquisite find, a blessing, and the very epitome of a friend.


06 March 2007


Today, I read two paragraphs from "Life's Journeys According to Mister Rogers", and I know my eyes were supposed to fall upon them...

"I saw a friend who's a freelance writer and asked him what he was working on. 'Nothing right now,' he answered. 'You know how it is for freelancers. But at times like this I tell myself I'm 'between opportunities.' That way I don't have to feel I'm nowhere.'

"There's often a tendency for us to hurry through transitions. We may feel that these transitions are 'nowhere at all' compared to what's gone before or what we anticipate is next to come. But you are somewhere...you're 'between'". ~ Fred Rogers

I like that - to look at "between" as a place all by itself. I am there. I'm hanging out in "between".

Today I visited the UPS Store because I had to mail a certain daughter her winter coat and some mail that had been delivered for her. After I filled out the shipping form, I asked the proprietor who is a warm, lovely gentleman, if he had any passport renewal forms - my passport runs out next month and I figured, why not attend to something BEFORE the expiration date and actually be proactive? Besides, you just never know when you might need to leave the country on very short notice! It happens when you least expect it.

Anyway, he handed me the form and asked me if I wanted to go ahead and have my passport photo taken. "Sure", I said, "but only if you can make me look ten years younger.". He was kind enough to say that wasn't necessary and, if it was acceptable to tip men who own UPS Stores, I most surely would have slipped this sweet man something.

So I sat for my photo and tried to do everything in my power not to look like the total dork that I am, even though I believe that, ultimately, it resembled a mug shot. Since it would take five minutes for the photo to develop, I went ahead and started filling out the passport renewal application. As I was doing this, a man came in the door and approached the counter and asked my buddy if the address he had on the official looking envelope was sufficient to ensure delivery. The owner looked at it and said, "Well, is there a building number? Duke University is a big place, you know.".

"But I have it on here, it's to go the 'The Brain Tumor Center' - it's a very specific building.".

"Well, that is probably good enough, but let me check online to see if there is a more specific address.", said my friend.

I never thought about it until that moment, but I swear I could tangibly touch the fear that was standing among us at that counter. At first, I tried to simply focus on my passport paperwork and not appear as if I was listening, but there's no way I could NOT listen because this conversation was taking place about five feet from where I stood.

And I felt it. The patron wishing to mail his envelope to Duke was polite, but I could feel the trepidation and dread. The urgency. He said several times, not in a "difficult to deal with" manner, but in a tone that demonstrated how important it was that his parcel be delivered to the right place and that it arrive tomorrow.

"I have an appointment there tomorrow and they will need this before I get up there.".

The owner certainly understood the necessity and by now was trying to do his best to make sure he had all of the correct information. I stood there and finally, I found myself looking up at the man who was sending the envelope and when my eyes met his, he seemed glad that I'd looked over. And before I knew it I heard myself saying something I had no plans to say but it spilled right out of me. In fact, I was shocked myself that I even remembered the doctor's name and thank God it was the right one!

"Dr. Henry Friedman runs that place. He's the Director of the Brain Tumor Center. He's fantastic - a very kind man and a brilliant doctor. Good choice.".

I was relieved to see this elicited a smile. What I said wasn't meant to placate, but I thought we needed to hear something positive.

In fact, I have met Dr. Friedman because I was, at one time, engaged to a professor at Duke who worked in oncology and one night we were dining out somewhere in Durham, I can't remember the place, but he introduced me to Dr. Friedman. I remembered this doctor and I had read up on his work and, indeed, he has a fine reputation in the difficult and challenging discipline of treating brain tumors. He has known some very impressive success and has built a fine department. His wife, Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting but who I know from speaking with parents who do know her and are familiar with her practice, heads up the pediatric bone-marrow transplantation team at Duke and "Dr. K", as she is known, is literally a pioneer in the field. She has saved so many lives that would have been lost without her brilliant application of science and her achievements in the treatment of childhood hematological cancers, are almost legendary.

After I mentioned to this guy that Dr. Friedman was a great doctor, his eyes were locked with mine and I felt him silently prodding me to say more. He offered that he had talked with Dr. Friedman on the phone and that he sounded nice, and he was anxious to meet him tomorrow afternoon.

"You will like him. He's a very kind person and, as I said, he knows his stuff. You will be in good hands.".

"Thank you. Thank you for saying that.", and then he got back to the business of paying for his envelope to be shipped and closing the transaction.

As my friend turned his attention back to handing me my passport photos and looking over my renewal application, the other customer thanked the proprietor for his help and stopped right beside me and he thanked me again. I smiled at him and I said, "Good luck. Be careful.".

And I thought to myself, almost instantly, "Why did you say good luck? The man doesn't have good luck because he probably has a brain tumor so 'good luck' is pretty much out of the question and had to sound almost laughable to this poor soul...what an oxymoronic thing to say to someone on their way to meet with the head of the Brain Tumor Department at Duke University!". But then I thought, "well what do you say to someone in his shoes? Godspeed? I hope you make it? You're about to take a trip through hell, buddy! I hope you don't wind up losing all your hair!".

It's like when I was in the treatment center a few years ago. I was only inpatient for ten days (and no, I didn't rent out the whole wing like Britney); I must have received over 70 cards and notes from a lot of friends and a few people I didn't even know. There's no question that receiving mail everyday was a high point for me, for all of us really, and that mail always served to remind me that I had a life outside of my present circumstance.

Eagerly, I'd rip open each card with great anticipation - wondering who it might be from - news from the outside world. Ah yes... I would delight at the cards I got though, truth be told, most of them were way too solemn for my taste, even given the circumstances, and well-meaning though most of the cards were, the ones that made me laugh were the cards that poked fun at the absurdity of sending anyone in a treatment center a card in the first place. I remember laughing when I opened up one of two that my friend Bruce B. sent me, which looked terribly festive and said, in bold script on the front, "CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!" and I remember thinking...now this is funny. If someone has the ability to be irreverent and tease me, I might just make it. This person must think I am capable, that I will be successful, because he's taken the luxury of being silly.

I really needed a little silliness during those days.

The things that helped me most were objects attached with humor. The solemn-tones and "We're hoping you're doing OK", or "God bless you during this trying time..." or "We all hope you 'make it'", gave me the willies and I'd close them up and tuck them somewhere out of my sight. I know they were sent with good intentions, but I needed something life-affirming and nothing is more life-affirming than laughter. Gosh I needed something that would make me laugh.

There were enough serious people around me - I was in a treatment center for gosh sakes' and let's face it, some of my fellow patients were freakish and still a little strung out - so the last thing I wanted was an immediate reminder that the stakes were high. Duh! I KNEW that! What I needed was comic relief, the chance to be light, even if only for the time it took to read the card. Bruce knew that, too, as did Mike F., John B. and sunny Sharon - friends who would rib me about 'taking it easy on the staff', 'not trying to run the place'. Their hand-written silliness became my touchstones, my talismans, my link to the life that I dearly hoped was waiting for me on the other side of this experience. I just thought I would put this in here in case any of you reading this are close to someone in dire straits right now - do them a favor - think before you buy something maudlin or serious - imagine what might make them laugh or smile. Trust me on this, they need to smile. Oh please, make whoever that person is laugh.

Now, I know I'll never see that guy again, but I couldn't help but think I was supposed to be there right at that exact moment, right in that store. I had put off mailing Katie's winter coat since the week after she left following her Christmas visit so why I picked that exact time to drive over and mail it, at that moment, I have no idea, and yet I do. When I spoke with Katie today on her lunch break, she didn't even mention it or chide me, as she usually does, for forgetting yet again to mail it. She's been teasing me lately that she hopes to have it by NEXT winter.

But for some reason, this afternoon, I felt like I needed to get it in the mail. And with no real prior planning, I just took off out the door and nearly did it on impulse.

Now, please don't mistake that I feel as if I was there in order to help the brain tumor man. My observation of the situation is quite the contrary. I believe he was placed there more to help me. I'm struggling right now - I have some very serious writing to do, and waiting for responses to resumes that I have sent out, seems to consume my mind and make me feel inordinately stressed and vulnerable. I find myself worrying, feeling edgy and at the mercy of Corporate America.

Yes, I could be in a much worse place, and my angst isn't so much about this moment - thanks to my anticipated IRS refund (Thank you, Tim, for looking it over), I have things covered, but it's my nature to look ahead so I can get a nice jump on anxiety - as if it will magically change anything. And as only I can do, I sit here and obsess about it. Rather than attend to the writing that is expected of me, I grow problems. Seriously. I'm like Miracle-Gro and can enhance the growth of any tiny potential glitch into a full-blown complicated mess that could only develop if everything possible under the sun went completely haywire in the worst way possible. I have a gift for it. I'm well aware of the counterproductive nature of such an exercise. I know better. I'm trying not to be so efficient at it and it's not lost on me that my efficiency would be better directed toward more fruitful pursuits.

But when I looked over at this man today and saw the concerned expression and felt the tension in his voice, I felt chagrined. This guy knew more than I about dealing with a seriously scary problem. Worrying about next month's house-payment, while not a fun thing to dwell upon, isn't even in the same ballpark as worrying about a brain tumor. It would be obscene to compare the two. One is potentially life-threatening and the other is only "quality of life-threatening" if I allow it to affect me as such. I have power over so many circumstances within my present challenge, but someone dealing with a brain tumor has a limited power, at best, and probably a finite choice of options, and none of them terribly pleasant.

But I realized that the really good thing about any of it, is that the same power that can affect this man's health, still manages to have time to look after the neurotic person that I sometimes slip into.

Like I said, I have no expectations of ever seeing this gentleman again, but I do know that he diverted my focus and recalibrated my perception of what is what and what is not.

Now, on a more pointed and serious note, I have asked nearly everyone I know, a few people I am only slightly familiar with, and maybe a couple of strangers on the street (just kidding) to send some prayers up that I might find the right position for me to focus my energy and talents and, please understand, I would still appreciate those prayers and good thoughts and even a few incantations and by all mean light some candles; I'll leave the choice of how you do it, up to you...I'm nice like that. But before you start chanting, if you wouldn't mind, think of this unnamed person that is going to have his first meeting tomorrow afternoon with the esteemed and capable Dr. Friedman at Duke University Brain Tumor Center. If you could put in a word for Dr. Friedman to make the right treatment decisions and for this man to find courage he didn't even know he had, and a way to accept and feel peace with whatever is decided, I'd really appreciate it and, if you're running late and you don't have a lot of time to speak with your own Higher Power tonight, tomorrow or whenever you get around to it, send up a petition for him, please. I have to tell you - if I were that man and that man could easily be any of us, I would be so very grateful for all of the prayers and well-wishes I could assemble and I can't imagine a set of circumstances more deserving than his present situation. Even though I don't have a name to attach with his story, I'm pretty certain God will know exactly who you're talking about when you mention him - maybe just try something like, "God, about that man who may have a brain tumor that was in the UPS store today in Wilmington, NC...", and I'm thinking God will be able to put two and two together. He's smart like that.

Tonight, I feel blessed, mostly because God placed me in the path of someone who inadvertently reminded me to dwell more on my blessings and less on my limitations and challenges which, I know, will sort themselves out in due time. I need to focus on this period between jobs, as Fred Rogers referenced at the beginning of this blog, and think about making the most of my "between" time.

Today, my "between" was spent in an innocuous looking UPS store at what at first appeared to be a random time of day, but I do believe that I had the experience of having my clock "reset" by someone who knew more than a thing or two about what truly constitutes a challenge. And tonight, especially if he's particularly nervous and, how could you not be if you were him, I hope that nameless UPS customer finds something that makes him smile at a time when he may well believe it to be impossible.

Anything can happen. And anything does.

03 March 2007

I have been...


I updated my resume.

I faxed and e-mailed my resume to the powerful power(s)-that-be in New York City.

I finally got most of my writing credits cataloged and listed.

Vanessa installed more blond highlights (thank you 'nessa!) which has greatly reduced my stress because I'm not thinking as much.


I'm starting to treat my cellphone with a little more respect and I'm working on not reflexively wanting to toss it out of the nearest window when it rings. Now, to be fair, that's not to say that I have actually learned to enjoy phone chats, but I'm working my way toward a higher level of civility and appreciation. I'm still a work in progress...

I bought, "Stranger Than Fiction" and I have plans in the works to possibly watch it.

I have returned a great deal of e-mail.

I've had a meaningful chat with my friend Billie who reminded me that I will look back on this period as one of growth and new direction and, well, he's a very reasonable person and we've seen each other through some low places (like Palo Duro Canyon with a very car sick dog!) - fortunately we try very hard to make sure we don't dip at the same time so one or the other of us is there to pick things up. It works out better that way.

I've stored my sweaters away because, as far as I'm concerned, winter weather is finished in the south and I'm so ready for spring, plus this frees up a lot of drawer space.

I did lunch(es) and mind you, I'd been a bit out of practice but as it turns out, doing lunch is a lot like riding a bicycle...it really is second nature and you can pick it right back up without missing a beat.

Thanks to a friend in the UK, I think I now own the entire Greer Garson DVD collection. "Madam Curie" and "Pride & Prejudice" arrived today. I may have to invest in another bookshelf to contain my growing DVD collection.

I love jasmine tea - and I always consume at least one teapot full each day. It's not a cheap tea and I am, without apology, a tea connoisseur. Today, the Fed-Ex delivery guy, who has become a friend given how many times he's been sent to my home lately, delivered a box from Adaigo Teas. Inside, was the something more precious, to me at least, than frankincense, gold and/or myrrh.

I recognized it immediately. #12 Jasmine - an amazing 16 ounces of the precious pearls. Can you spell h-e-a-v-e-n? Well, I brewed some IMMEDIATELY and it was divine. Easily comparable to the white monkey jasmine my daughter absconded from the Tea Salon she worked at this past summer for 3 weeks.

It's the coolest thing! You poor hot water over the tightly wound pearls of jasmine buds and immediately these pea-size bubbles swell and unfurl and lose all of their tension. Delightful and possibly metaphorical in terms of tension release. It's almost as much fun to watch as it is delicious to drink. And the aroma! It is quite a feast for the senses. I'm already addicted to the stuff which is unfortunate because, wouldn't you just know that I love one of the most expensive teas in the world? Let's see - in nonalcoholic terms I guess rather than champagne taste on a beer budget, I have jasmine taste on an orange-pekoe budget...or something like that. It was also a much too extravagant gift from a friend. I can only say thank you. I'm sure it must be inspirational tea and I can only hope that my writing comes close to reflecting the quality of the tea.

I've talked my attorney into starting a blog - and his first entry is SMASHING!!!! I'm almost finished with it and I was given the honor of editing his fine writing and this man writes fine. It's an epic entry and I can tell it was written with some fierce passion. I told you it was cathartic Jimi! This man was born to blog. A blogging attorney. This could be big. If he gets published before I do, I may have to talk with him about filing a suit against himself. Of course, I'd insist that he represent me. I wonder if that would create a conflict of interest for him? Nah...he could pull it off.

I LOVE MY CAR!!!!! I am bonding with my car. I am at one with my car. It's quite a looker! I've had lots of compliments on it and, as I walked up to it the other day on 3rd Street, two men were standing there taking it all in. I was realy quite proud to walk over and claim ownership. I never really expected to love it as much as I do, but I am very fond of it and I'm proud of my little mobster looking ride. And it drives well! I guess that's important too, huh? I think it might be the next best thing to a Jag...at least in my orbit. Michel reports that these cars are quite common in France as well, so, there you go. My good taste if validated.

Though I still don't LOVE making my house payment - I received a new tax statement from the county of New Hanover and my house now appraises for 56% more than what I owe on it. Not too shabby and easily the best real estate investment I've ever made. I was stunned. Not to mention that the actual market price of the house tends to be a little more than the tax appraisal. Now, I'm in no rush to sell it, but it's good to know. I can't believe I've lived here six and one half years! Where did the time go? I think the house has aged quite well and in a month or so, my front yard will be a study in azaleas, just in time for the festival.

I've calmed down. This past week has been blessedly zen, without the new age shrill and psychobabble. I've taken several deep breaths, learned to exhale, and my detachment with evil elves (and their spawn) has been better for me all the way around. I feel the love, support and prayers of my friends and how grateful I am for all of those I include in my posse. Oh my gosh I know I've done nothing to deserve such a stellar pack of people, but let me just say that I am genuinely grateful. Each one truly is precious - even more so than very high-end jasmine tea. :-) - and I love high-end jasmine tea, I'm not going to lie about it!

As I've been reconstructing my dossier (aka resume aka CV), it's been an interesting exercise. First of all, I had no idea I had that many writing credits. The last year has offered some amazing opportunities and those publications have definitely shored things up considerably and lent a valuable credibility. I've said a silent prayer, closed my eyes very tightly and e-mailed and faxed it to four or five potential employers. If you're so inclined to pray, this might be a good time, so feel free to jump on that. My friend Billie said he's going to church on Sunday to say a special prayer and my buddy Glen, in NYC is going to be dripping wax from lighting so many candles. Surely with all that, somethings bound to break, right?

The other day, I realized I had no secrets. No really, I don't think I have ANY secrets! None. Nada. And you know what? I don't want any! I remember how many of those wretched things I used to juggle and wring my hands about - so much wasted energy, fear, and for what? When most of those secrets were revealed, an amazing thing happened: They completely lost their power. Literally, the things I kept hidden and tucked away instantly became non-entities and held no force at all. It's such a relief not to carry those things around. They become heavy and the only time I felt an escape was either to drink or sleep and I don't sleep all that much so drinking was just about the only device I had to forget them.

I noticed the other day that I had absolutely nothing to hide. But it's curious - the drinking became a secret and yet I drank to forget the very issues that I felt compelled to keep under wraps. As you can see, the whole of it all can become a vicious, insidious cycle and the more secrets I seemed to collect, the more I needed to drink. I thought about that the other day and I imagined myself just like a hamster on a wheel...making absolutely no progress whatsoever but feeling the need to run, even if it was in circles which, like way too much wine, can make one dizzy.

What I can't figure out, is where I got the energy to do all that? It sounds exhausting, both mentally and physically and it's almost miraculous how well one's body adapts to what is, quite honestly, sheer and utter madness, but it does. I don't like secrets and I shy away from people sharing them. They require an unspoken investment and there's always the danger of letting something slip or being fingered as the one who possibly let the cat out of the bag. I have three cats and as far as I know, they've never been in a bag - I don't think they would be nearly as fond of me as they are if I'd bagged one of them. I've become more forthright in stepping back from being a keeper of secrets. I don't think it's my forte.

Doesn't that all sound so "Stuart Smalley"? "You're only as sick as your secrets...", he used to advise on SNL. Well, he was right. I don't have any, so that must account for why I feel so much better.

Or...it could be all the tea I drink. Who knows?

Anyway, if you have a wildly exciting job you want to offer me, with full health, dental and vision benefits and at least two weeks paid vacation, you have my e-mail address. Travel is no problem, as long as it's covered by the employer and not me. :-)

In the meantime, I will continue to decompress, walk on the beach, keep the tea flowing and must about the "next big thing" on the horizon, whatever it is. The world is a dazzling place and you just never know, which is probably fortunate because, if you did - good or bad - it would probably conspire to drive you crazy. I'm sure it would me.

Tonight I have a date with Hugh Grant. Well, not exactly "with" Hugh Grant (who is suddenly available it would seem!). I'm going to see "Music & Lyrics" at Mayfaire. I'm sure Artisan Cafe will be involved along with their ginger peach tea and asian noodle salad. I may even go a little nuts and have a brownie.