Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Interview at The Cult of Me
Here's a link to The Cult of Me, where I'm interviewed today about Stumbling Through the Dark.  Hope you'll visit.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thought for the Week: What I did for Love

When I think of a signature song for widows, this is it,  Although it's supposed to be about giving up dancing, the emotions are the same.  It brings tears to my eyes when I listen.

Do you have a song that signifies a transition in your life?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Elijah Brings Me a Gift

Elijah is my new best friend--my new best male friend, and I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm his best friend, too.  You're thinking, "Aha, at last the widow of nearly eight years has a boyfriend."  I do, but he's not what you're thinking.  Elijah is a cat.

He must have belonged to someone at one time because he's been neutered, but now he just hangs out in the neighborhood.   Every now and then he used to stroll over to my house and this happened frequently after my daughter accidentally left some cat food on the patio.  After that, he dropped by more often.

On Passover, near the end of the seder, we poured the traditional cup of wine for Elijah the prophet, who is supposed to visit every Jewish home during the seder and take a sip of wine.  Just as my granddaughter got up to open the door for Elijah, a little gray figure appeared in the doorway.  The cat!  After that, what else could we name him?

Because I'm a softy, I started feeding Elijah and now he knows my schedule.  Every morning he appears at the back door just as I come into the kitchen to feed my two cats and I give him a handful of dry cat food.  Every evening around dinner time he's back again, because that's when Toby, my tuxedo cat, gets a pill mashed up in a spoonful of baby food and Tiki, the tabby, gets a treat.  Elijah waits hopefully at the door until I've fed my cats and then he gets another handout.

Lately, if he's around when I go outside, he rushes over to rub around my legs and meows until I  pet him.  And I guess he decided it was time to show his appreciation in a more memorable fashion. The other day I looked out my window to see him parading across my patio with a  dead squirrel.  A very big dead squirrel. How does one handle an unwanted gift?  What would Miss Manners say? I'm sure Elijah wanted to share this prize with me, but when I saw him...and it..I let out such a shriek that with the squirrel still in his mouth, he ran off. 

I don't know what he did with it, but it wasn't in my yard or my neighbor's and I was certainly relieved.  Perhaps he took it to his second best friend.  Anyway, he hasn't brought me any more gifts and I hope he understands that he doesn't have to repay my charity, just enjoy it.

This picture is not Elijah, but it's as close as I could get on Google images.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Writing Our Lives : Interview with Nikki Meyer, Author of Game for Anything

Today I'm interviewing Nikki Meyer, author of the memoir Game for Anything.

TZ:  First of all, describe your book.

NM:  Game for Anything is my first book, and it covers the first ten years of my life adjusting to life in the bush, first in Botswana, then later in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.  It is a positive, happy book--because that is how I feel about nature.  It also contains a fair amount of humor and a few sad moments because life and nature are like that.

TZ:  What inspired you to write the book?

NM;  I was inspired by Kobie Kruger, Game Ranger's wife and author of Mahlangeni and All Things Wild and Wonderful.  She was a neighbor of mine at one stage in the Kruger Park, and also judged a short story competition that I had entered.  She encouraged me to write a book, and when I suggested that I might not have a story in me, she laughed and told me that all I needed to do was keep a diary and the book would write itself.  She was right, and I was too busy living to take the time to write it all down, and it took another ten years before I finally got around to doing it.

TZ:  Im intrigued by what you were doing before you went to Africa and what made you decide to go.  Your synopsis on Amazon mentions a bet.  Really?

NM:  I have always lived in Africa, but in towns; my dad was a banker.  After two years of studying in Durban, I dropped out and took a job at a hotel which was originally the film set of the movie Shaka Zulu.  It was around that time that an old friend took a bet with me that I would leave that job and go and work with him in Botswana within three months.  I laughed it off, but lost.  I did end up joining him in Botswana, with no telephone contact with my family--cellphones hadn't reached South Africa yet.  Ultimately I think my parents were a lot braver than me.  It was for me a life changing experience, and I have never looked back.

TZ:  What was the hardest part of adjusting to such a radical cultural change?  Did you ever consider giving up?

NM; It was a pretty radical lifestyle change, and yes, even though I am a born and bred South African, a fairly big cultural change.  I think some of the first things I missed--other than my family, of course-- included not being able to get my hands on books, newspapers or magazines and having no radio or television.  I'll admit to wishing for a trip to the hairdresser once in a while, and it really felt odd to go from perpetually wearing high heeled shoes to flatties--I can't explain why it was such a profound change, but to this day I feel like I'm dressing up as someone else.  Probably one of the most difficult adjustments involved understanding the very different relationships involved in a patriarchal society and women in the rural African areas clearly still have great obstacles to overcome--that is, if they want to overcome them--that's often the surprising part.  I am still learning every day, and have another book planned about exactly that.  I can't tell you how often I have applied my way of thinking to situations only to be stunned by how inappropriate some western solutions are to African problems.  Giving up was never an option.  I feel in love with the bush immediately and would have done almost anything to stay.

TZ:  How did you meet your husband?  Did he have any input into the book?

NM:  I met my husband at, of all places, a golf club in northern KwaZulu Natal, at the time I was staying with my parents and desperately trying to get a work permit to return to Botswana, after having had to flee the country because of my illegal status there.  It's quite funny really to think that I was so happy to meet a man who shared my passion for the bush.  Usually it's the other way around--with men living in the bush hoping to find a woman who is "convertible."  He had a lot of input into the book--in that I was married to him for seven of the ten years that I wrote about, and he prodded and nagged me into finally sitting down.  He is my soulmate.

TZ:  What's your favorite part of the book?

NM:  That's a good question, because it's akin to asking me what my favorite part of my life has been.  Can I saw all of it?  I think I enjoy the fact that despite not trying to be funny, people keep telling me how much they laughed when they read the book, because it means that they also see and enjoy the humor in everyday situations.

TZ:  What has been the response to the book?

NM;  The response has been great.  When I first started out, I did a short print run of 500, then a second one of 1000 and it's been selling steadily as an ebook as well.  I've had some fabulous publicity which has really helped, and it's been really satisfying.  People are so genuinely interested that they have gone to the effort of looking me up on Facebook or email and writing to me.  It is great that people I've never met are so enthusiastic about it.  I think though that there is a strong link between people who are passionate about nature, and Africa in particular.  Despite being self-published, Game for Anything has been accepted by a distributor and at the major bookstores in South Africa.  The marketing and distribution company, Blue Weaver, even took it to the London Book Fair.

TZ:  Tell about your writing background.

NM;  I've always loved writing, mostly short articles, press releases and academic essays, and achieved best at it at school, college and university.  I love reading, too.  I think it comes from my mother, who is very articulate and creative--now there's someone who should write a book.  I have been encouraged often by teachers and professors.  My university English professor told me in a note when she retired that every professor has one student that comes along and makes their career worthwhile, and I was hers.  This was high praise indeed, and really encouraged me to take it more seriously.

TZ:  Any advice for writers, particularly memoir writers?

NM:  Probably the most important thing I learned was to show not tell.  I think I was inclined initially to over-explain things instead of leaving my reader to use his or her own imagination.  I was so worried that the reader might not get it, but people  are intelligent and need to have the freedom to draw their own conclusions.  It took some discipline (and courage) to rein this in, and allow people to judge for themselves.  I wish I'd known it right from the start.  I had to go back and do a lot of editing.  Now that I'm halfway through my second book, I feel that it comes naturally and I won't have to do so much editing this time.

TZ:  What's your next writing project?

NM;  I am busy with the sequel to Game for Anything, and am having such fun writing it.

TZ:  Where is your book available?

NM:  It is available on, both as a paperback and an ebook, as well as Amazon in Europe.  In South Africa it's available through most of the major bookstores as well as through

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quote for the Week

Service is the rent we pay to be living.  It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.
Marion Wright Edelman

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Mission Statement

A group I belong to has discussed the value of writing a personal mission statement.   Here is mine:

To cherish and maintain my relationships with family and friends.  As long as possible, to continue fulfilling work, with the knowledge that I’ve made a difference in children’s lives.  To continue to write, with the goal of expressing myself and inspiring others.  To continue to grow as an individual by learning, participating, giving back.  To take care of my health.  To set an example for my children and grandchildren and others by aging well. To live up to my father's example of honesty, integrity and generosity.

Want to write a mission statement?  Here are some questions to consider:

What would I really like to be and do in my life?
What do I feel are my greatest strengths?
How do I want to be remembered?
Who is the one person who has made the greatest positive impact on my life?
What have been my happiest moments?
If I had unlimited time and resources, what would I do?
What are the three or four most important things to me?
How can I best contribute to the world?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Writing Our Lives: Interview with Deb Levy, Author of Bury the Hot

TZ: First, describe your book.

DL:  Bury the Hot is the true story of a boy who hid from Hitler, but could never escape the memories.  I grew up celebrating the holidays with Sal Wainberg and his family.  I trick-or-treated with his daughter.  He and his wife attended my wedding.  Yet I knew nothing ab out his past until he called out of the blue and asked me to write his story.  There was a reason I didn't know.  He hadn't even told his wife the details of his childhood.  Bury the Hot is the Holocaust story few have the tenacity or courage to share and explores both a traumatized childhood and how the repression it impacts a marriage.

TZ:  This is a story of someone else's life in great detail.  Do you think it's harder to write about someone else than about your own life:  With another person's story, there's some objectivity and emotional distance that I think would be hard to have when you're telling your own story.  What do you think?

DL: Writing about someone else has its challenges as well as its benefits.  On the one hand, I was beholden to Sal's memory and/or willingness to divulge emotions and details.  So I could only write what he was able to tell me, having not (thankfully) shared the experience.  But on the other hand, like you said, there is emotional distance and objectivity.  So perhaps I was able to delve deeper into painful moments that Sal might have if he were working on the memoir himself.  I couled also see, in some cases, a wider view of a situation or history that he may have had living it.  One of the first things Sal said to me when he asked me to write his story was, "Do not create some Hollywood version of my experience.  Do not embellish it for the sake of storytelling.  Do not make me into a hero.  I just want the truth."  So I felt a keen responsibility to honor his request and had somewhat strict parameters.  Also he was so young when the war broke out--he was only 8.  I had to find a way to draw out the details that would allow me to paint a picture for the reader, instead of using the typical journalistic "wh" questions (who, what, when, where) I asked sensory-based questions.  "What color was the sky?"  "What did the air feel like against your skin?"  "What did your shul smell like?"  These are the things that young children notice and these are the memories we carry with us into adulthood

TZ:  Was it difficult to make the decision to write this book?  Or did you agree right away?

DL:  Not at all.  after over half a century of repressing his past, Sal was finally ready to talk and leave his legacy behind.  When he asked me to write his story, I felt like i was given a gift.  I was honored, humbled, surprised that he asked me, and immediately said yes.

TZ:  You knew nothing about this man's background before he told you his story.  Was his family aware of it?  What has been the reaction of people who knew him to the book?

DL:  Sandy, his wife, knew when they got married (in the 60's) that he was a Survivor.  But that's all she knew.  She didn't quite understand what that meant, and at that time, no one talked about it.  There was a desire amongst American Jews to move beyond the past, and Sandy could sense a pain inside Sal that she wanted to protect him from.  It wasn't until 8 years into their marriage that he told her any of the details.  And even then, he left quite a bit out.  After that, they only spoke of the Holocaust a handful of times.  It was like the white elephant in the room of their marriage.  His kids knew he was a Survivor, but didn't know much beyond that.  Their daughter knew I was writing his story, but he didn't want her to read any drafts of the manuscript until it was completely done.  I was worried about her reaction the entire time I wrote the book--how will she feel reading about her father's suffering?  How will she feel reading about her parents' marriage?  How will she feel that I may have learned some of this history before she did?  As it turns out, her reaction brought tears to my eyes.  She said, "I fee like you and I are now related. I somehow absorbed this over 40 years.  But you got it in 1/10th that time.  And now you are my sister.This is why he chose you."  As far as non-family members who have known Sal for years--they have been incredibly touched by his story, and feel as if by gaining insight into his past, they can finally understand who he has been throughout his adult life, and why.

TZ:  What part of the book are you most proud of?

DL:  I'm proud of having written a full-length book.  I've always wanted to write a book and I did it!  I'm proud of how it turned out.  I'm getting rave reviews from readers all over the country and from all religious backgrounds.  But I'm most proud to have added to the preservation of history.  Every day that goes by, we get closer to a time when there will be no one left to give a first-hand account of this horrible and multi-faceted chapter of our human story.  We may think that when it comes to the Holocaust, we've heard it before.  But the truth is, we can never hear enough.  We must listen to those who survived; we must read their personal accounts.  We must recognize that the collective suffering is nothing less than six million and more unique stories of struggle, determination, tradition and fate--every single one of them incredible, all of them heartbreaking.

TZ:  What was the most difficult to write?

DL;  There were certain points of Sal's life that were incredibly difficult to ask him about.  And when our interviews moved past the war and to when he left Poland, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.  But I don't recall the writing of those moments as being difficult.  Maybe it's because I was so intensely focused on finding a way to get it on paper in an honest and compelling way, that I was weighed down by the process but not by my own emotions.  What I did find difficult was writing about a young boy in peril while raising three boys of my own.  I found myself constantly comparing and contrasting their lives with his, and wondering if my own sons would have survived the horrible things he experienced.  In trying to give my sons a good life, I worried that I was somehow diminishing their ability to stay alive if, God forbid, the world turned upside down.

TZ:  What is your writing background?

DL:  I am an advertising copywriter/creative director, which comes in two varieties--the one who wants to write a screenplay, and the one who wants to write the Great American Novel.  I was the latter.  I've also written articles and essays that have been featured on many parenting websites and in Lilith Magazine.  Bury the Hot is my first book.

TZ:  Any advice for writers, especially non-fiction and memoir writers?

DL:  For any writer, I'd say:  read a lot.  Take your writing seriously, even if you feel no one else does.  Introduce yourself as a writer.  Put writing time on your calendar; put it before all the other distractions that will keep you from doing your job.  For writers of memoir/non-fiction:  when it comes to telling the story, the craft is only half of it.  The hardest part is finding the framework in which to tell the story.  What are the themes that hold it together?  Where do you begin the story?  (It may not be at the beginning.}  From whose point of view will you tell it?  With what voice? (Will it be from a place of reflection and understanding?  Or will the reader have a greater insight into the events of the story than the narrator?  Don't expect to get it right on the first or second draft.  Just get it on paper, and then go back and move things around. Solicit feedback from other writers and from readers whose opinion you respect.  Listen to their critiques with an open mind and with gratitude.

TZ:  What are you working on now?

DL:  I'm working on marking and promoting Bury the Hot :)

TZ:  Where is the book available?

DL.  The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle format.  It's also available on Barnes and And I hope that readers will support their local, independent bookstores by asking them to order Bury the Hot and purchasing it there.  Here is the Amazon link 1 1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371350808&sr=8 -1keywords=bury+the+hot

TZ:  I hope the above link is okay.  If not I'm sure readers can just go to Amazon and type in the title.

DL:  My website is

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quote for the Week from Poetry for Cats by Robert Frost's Cat

Sitting by the Fire on a Snowy Evening

Whose chair this is by now I know.
He's somewhere in the forest though;
He will not see me sitting here,
A place I'm not supposed to go.

He really is a little queer
To leave his fire's cozy cheer
And ride out by the forest lake
The coldest evening of the year.

To love the snow it takes a flake; 
The chill that makes your footpads ache,
The drifts too high to lurk or creep,
The icicles that drip and break.

His chair is comfy, soft and deep.
But I have got an urge to leap,
And mice to catch before I sleep,
And mice to catch before I sleep.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Giving Back

On March 29 during the spring semester of my junior year in college I nearly burned to death.  My full-skirted dress blew into a gas stove and within seconds I was on fire.  One of the first things you learn in elementary school during Fire Prevention Week is to drop to the ground and roll yourself in a blanket..  But your natural instinct is to run and so, as the fire swirled up around my legs, I raced screaming into the next room where one of my sorority sisters was taking a pre-dinner nap.  Soon we were both screaming.  That might have been my last shout but for another girl who rushed into the room, knocked me down and rolled me in a bedspread.  I owe her my life.

Burned over 35% of my body, I spent three months in John Sealy Hospital in Galveston undergoing skin grafts and other burn treatments.  The worst was the daily visit to "the tank" for a whirlpool bath in Dreft detergent.  I don't know a burn survivor who doesn't shiver recalling the tank.

I was healthy and I had superb doctors.  I healed from the burns and went on about my life.  Yes, the scars are still there on my back and legs, but they don't show and even if they did, I'd be okay

One thing I've always wanted to do was to give back in some way by helping other burn survivors. And now I have my chance.  Saturday I went through training to be a peer supporter, part of SOAR, Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery.  I'm looking forward to connecting with other burn victims and giving them a listening ear and a path to hope.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Interview with Judith Newton, Author of Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen

Today I'm interviewing Judith Newton, prize winning author of Tasting Home:  Coming of Age in the Kitchen.  Doesn't the cover make you hungry?

TZ:  Describe your book.

JN:  Tasting Home:  Coming of Age in the Kitchen is a food memoir organized by decade and by the cookbooks that were most influential in my life.  It is about the way that cooking for, and dining with, others can carry on an important kind of emotional labor.  In my life, for example, cooking for and dining with others helped me heal from a difficult childhood (in which my mother's cooking and baking were the most reliable forms of nurturing I received).  Cooking helped me recreate a series of alternative homes--in my marriage to a gay man, in a commune, and in various places with my daughter.  Cooking gave me a sense of optimism and joy in living that sustained me during my participation in social movements, and it helped me lay the groundwork for a cross race political community on my campus.

I try to share that sense of community through food with my readers.  The book is loaded with scenes of cooking and dining that invite readers to the table, and it includes recipes that are intended to give them a more lasting way to create pleasing moments in their lives.  Tasting Home is meant to be a book that encourages people to give parties, and despite whatever suffering they may have experienced, to feel that life can be joyful, intense, and thoughtfully led.

TZ:  What inspired you to write this particular book, using this structure?

JN;  I wrote a food memoir because I had an epiphany in my kitchen.  I had moved to a new house, and its pantry was not large enough to hold my 140 cookbooks, so I tried to prune them, only to end up longing for a cookbook I had gotten rid of during a previous change of place.  It came to me then that my cookbooks reflected the history of my life and more--they'd been agents of my salvation from childhood grief and from many other forms of loss.  It was through cooking that I had redefined myself and found new ways of being home.

I chose the structure of short chapters forming a narrative arc because this was a popular form of food memoir at the time.  M.F.K. Fisher had used it and so had Ruth Reichl, Molly Wizenberg and Jeanette Ferrary among others.  I wanted to see if I could stretch the form to make it tell a new kind of story, a story of personal development but also a story of how my participation in social movements of the time--Civil Rights, the Women's movement--had also contributed to my feeling of home in the world and had fed off the optimism that cooking brought to my life.

TZ:  What is your favorotie recipe in the book?

JN:  I have to vote for Gary Danko's Oven Polenta with Tomato Fondue and Dry Sonoma Jack Cheese.  When cooked, it bubbles with cream and cheese and the tomato fondue with shallots adds a refreshing l, slightly acidic note.  I also love polenta.  I made this dish time after time in the 1990s when I was giving large buffets as a means of bringing people together, drawing them into civil conversations, and through inviting them to share the pleasure of a generous meal, incducing them to begin to feel a sense of common cause.  The recipe can be doubled and tripled to feed a crwod, and it always comes out well.  In the book I call it the "best buffet dish ever created."

TZ:  So many of our rituals and our memoires are associated with food.  Was it difficult to choose the most salient ones?

JN:  It wasn't difficult choosing dishes from my adult life.  I had a habit of cooking through cookbooks like Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the 1960s, Time Life:  Foods of the World in the 1970;s and Moosewood in the 19i80s.  I was very conscious of what my favorite recipes were, and I marked them with a check, plus, and star system, so I'd remember.  I also recalled what food was involved in important turning points.  I really did cook Lasagna Bolognese when my sex life with my husband began falling apart. In relation to my childhood, I knew which of my mother's dishes I liked the best, but I had to give more thought to which recipes I would use and where I would place them.  I sometimes used poetic license.  Crybaby Cookies aippear after a scene in which my mother and I are both sobbing in the kitchen.  Spareribs come after my description of the bleak evenings my borther and I spent alone while my parents were out dancing.

TZ:  I know you've written other books but nothing as personal as this one.  Was it difficult to write?  Any part especially hard?

JN:  When you write as an academic, you are writing defensively.  You're always aware of how others might criticize your argument and you're careful to defend yourself against that.  Writing a memoir requires a different emotional orientation.  The idea is to open yourself up, to share private stories with your public and to engage with readers on an emotional level.  I had to imagine a non-academic audience to write like that, and even then, writing the memoir sometimes felt like jumping into free fall off a cliff.

I also found that when you write about past suffering, you entered into the suffering again.  It was important for me to switch gears, to write about happy times and then come back to the difficult ones.  In the third section of the book I had to describe a breakdown and a divorce from my husband.  I couldn't write that section until I wrote Section Four and Five which are more upbeat.  Writing those happier sections gave me energy to come back to Section Three.  In the end, it became my favorite section.

I also had trouble writing what is now the first chapter, the chapter in which my mother denounces me for playing doctor with the boy down the street.  In my first draft I buried that scene in the fifth chapter, even though it took place when I was four and shaped everything that came after.  It came as a shock that I still felt some of my original shame, and I was embarrassed about feeling that. Omly after my writing group read that section did I feel free enough to put it in the first chapter which is where it always belonged.

TZ:  Who is your favorite celebrity chef?  Or do you like watching food shows?

JN:  I do like some food shows like Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Restaurant Impossible.  I can't say I have a favorite chef.  Iron Chef is too high pressure for me, so I don't watch it and thereby miss seeing a lot of celebrity chefs.  I've only seen Cook's Illustrated show once, but I like the calm, scientific approach of Christopher Kimball.  I also subscribe to the magazine.  The chef I truly enjoyed watching was Julia Child.  I sometimes rent her old videos so I can be with her again.  She's not pompous.  She's not in a hurry.  She makes mistakes, cheers you on, and demystifies French cooking.  I miss her!

TZ:  Tell us a little about this book as it relates to your work in gender studies and feminism.

JN:  My years of teaching women's studies had made me aware that the private and public spheres are dependent on each other and that the personal always informs the political.  Traditionally, for example, women have fed, cared for, educated, and humanized members of their household including men, children and the old.  This frequently invisible and unpaid labor is essential to having a society at all, and especially one that involves people working in cooperation with each other.  In writing a book that celebrates home cooking as a humanizing and healing kind of work, I think of myself as carrying on a feminist project--that of giving value to a traditionally female, often unseen, but essential form of labor, one that the political scientist Janet Flammang in her book A Taste for Civilization, calls a preparation for civil society itself.

Another feminist project has been to show how political movements also depend on a kind of emotion work.  The sociologist Belinda Robrett, for example, in her book How Long is Long?  African American Women and the Struggle for Civil Rights, writes about how African American women worked behind the scenes during the Civil Rights movement, meeting ordinary people, listening to their needs, and building face to face relationship of friendship and trust.  This emotion work was critical to the success of building a grassroots movement, and is critical to the success of present-day coalition as well.  By demonstrating how cooking can bring people into connection with each other, not just in a domestic setting but in a political group too, Tasting Home continues this project of linking the political to the personal and emotional.

TZ:  What are you working on now?

JN:  While  was working on the memoir, I needed another project I could turn to when memoir writing became too hard, so during National Novel Writing Month in 2011 I wrote a feminist mystery.  It involves poisoned cornbread, a feminist network, and a university that is tainted by corporate values.  I comes with recipes.

TZ:  Any advice for memoir writers?

JN:  Take classes.  The ten to twenty minute in-class writing exercises I turned out did eventually become chapters in the book.  It was hard to imagine that happening when I first began.  Also classes give you a lot of support.  They really help you begin your story and they get you used to having strangers read your work.  If you write about painful episodes in your life, be sure you switch off to write about happy memories so you don't get depressed.  I found it very helpful to have a second project that I could escape into.  Find a supportive but critical writing group and be open to criticism.  Criticism is your friend.  At some point, hire an editor to work with you.  My editor was a lot younger than I and she was excellent at pointing out where I needed to explain myself more.  She'd say, "Am I supposed to know that?"

TZ:  Where is your book available?

JN:  It's available on Amazon (paper and kindle) and the paper is available from Seattle Books, She Writes Pres, Avid Reader in David and Books, Inc. in Berkeley.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Venting About Women's Tennis: I Thought We'd Come Farther Than This

I am a tennis fan, and I'm outraged!

Ssaturday, French tennis player Marion Bartoli won the women's championship at Wimbledon.  Granted she was a long-shot and she may never win another Grand Slam but last weekend she reached the pinnacle of her sport.  No tennis championship is so highly coveted as Wimbledon.

And what did she get along with the win?  Nasty, unwarranted comments about her looks.  Okay she isn't Maria Sharapova but she was the one standing on center court with the trophy in her hands this year.  And do looks matter in a sport that's supposed to be all about speed and timing and skill?  Apparently to some people who tweated that she was fat.  Apparently to a British sportscaster who remarked that her father must've said, "Okay, you'll never be a looker so concentrate on your tennis".

To Marion's credit, she handled the insults with class.  When asked if she'd ever dreamed of getting a contract as a model, she replied, "No, but I did dream of winning Wimbledon."  So there, male chauvinist pig.

Did anyone ever mention that men's number 1 Novak Djokovic is not a "looker?"  Or that Jersy Jancowicz who made the men's semis bears a strong resemblance to Frankenstein?  No, they commented on his amazing serve and Novak's great return?  Has Andy Murray been offered a contract to model men's underwear?  Not that I know of, but he gave Great Britain its first male champion in 77 years.  That's enough.

Why should women be judged on looks rather than achievement?  Are we still in the dark ages?  Are men still ruled by their hormones?  Come on, guys.  You're not all sex symbols.  Why should women be?

Cheers for Marion.  She looked pretty darn hot in her high heels and tight dress at the Championship ball on Sunday night.  But I'm not going to post her picture from that evening.
Because it doesn't matter!

And as for the jerk who insulted her on British TV, if it were up to me, he'd be out pounding the pavement, looking for a new job...and not getting one.

Comments, anyone?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Memoir Review: The Church of Tango by Cherie Magnus

Resilient, daring, impulsive, determined.  All these words apply to Cherie Magnus.  And oh yes, tango aficionado...and, of course, writer.  Shortly after her husband's death from cancer, Cherie Magnus impulsively decides to go to Paris to learn French.  And we are off with her on a whirlwind journey from Paris, back to Los Angeles, Paris again, Mexico, Argentina, and a brief visit to Holland thrown in.  Chasing her love of dance, she travels the world until she finds the love of her life--the tango--and settles in Buenos Aires (at least for now).  She brings her surroundings to life with vivid descriptions, she introduces us to the men who flit in and out of her life, and she makes us feel the rhythm of the tango.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, America!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Quote for the Week


  You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~Erma Bombeck

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