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Susan Henderson

by Susan Henderson on August 31, 2006

My dad digs a moat.

What does the man who helped invent the MX missile, Star Wars, and artificial speech do when he visits his grandkids?

He helps them dig a giant moat in their backyard to go around their fortress. He does not seem to mind that this plan conflicts with their mother’s vision for the backyard.

The Henderson fortress, besides its moat and fairly dangerous draw bridge, includes these other eye-catching features: chicken wire to keep out younger neighbors, a drum for calling meetings to order, cups filled with old Easter egg dye and chalk dust for no reason, various tree stumps for various things (plant-pounding, sitting, jumping, guarding), and Thorn Valley–a wall of sticker bushes–for the excitement of trying to go from one end to the other without getting scratched.

They do not play in the way-cool treehouse we built for them.

(“We” as in Mr. Henderson.)

Some day, the Henderson boys will be teenagers, and I mention this because I’m hoping those of you who write good books for teenagers will get your books written and sold by then. And one good resource for you is a new group called the YA/Teen Books Discussion Group. I’ve asked its moderator to give you a quick intro to the group, so here’s Jen:

YA/Teen Books Discussion Group–Authors, readers, librarians, reviewers, and all interested parties are free to join.

We’re here to discuss books, reviews, authors, and anything else related, so let’s keep it friendly and respectful!

As for me, you can find my MySpace profile here.

I read and review YA/Teen books for my website www.teensreadtoo.com. I’m a self-proclaimed genius who loves to talk to authors, readers, and fellow reviewers about all things YA/Teen book related!

My birthday, and a contest.

To all those who share a birthday with me (including my grandma!), have a good one.







And what is a birthday without a contest?

If you can be the first to guess which of these stars I’ll be doing some volunteer work for next month, you’ll win a prize. (You can only guess once. And no one from my soccer team is allowed to play this game, sorry.)

On being censored.

A bunch of you have written in, asking me to say more about where I’m going tonight. The answer is I’ll be working behind the scenes at an event thrown by the We Are Family Foundation. And the reason I haven’t said more is because I don’t like having to censor my thoughts–which I’ve been asked to do–and so I’ll have to stick with the tame and potentially boring interpretation of the job and the VIPs who will be there. Sigh.

Here are the basics: On Tuesday, I’ll be heading into the city with friends and working at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where Elton John, Quincy Jones and Tommy Hilfiger will be honored for their work promoting tolerance, diversity, respect, and multiculturalism.

Hammerstein

The foundation and the evening’s show is all the work of Nile Rodgers (Awwww, freak out!), who played in the house band at the Apollo Theatre when he was a teenager, and went on to produce Madonna’s Like a Virgin and David Bowie’s Let’s Dance among many many other things.

Nile

Montel Williams will host, and Elton and Quincy and others will perform. My job is to greet people coming off the red carpet which is a fancy way of saying, hold the door open or hold an umbrella over someone’s head or tell them where to go next.

Montel, Nile, Spike

Tommy, Nile

I will not, apparently, be able to blog about amusing things such as anyone’s height or temper tantrums or stars who don’t fit into their chairs or stars who must wear sunglasses inside due to Botox treatment or any diva-like requests for green M&M’s and under-the-table handholding, etc. I can only post pre-approved press photos. I am not allowed to talk to the press except for to refer them to the proper PR channels. Sigh again. It’s like asking a cat not to purr.

My friends are doing the following jobs: Kenny’s working backstage as the Production Deputy (no one is sure what that means yet) except that Kenny’s the most likely person to see the performers all nervous and sweaty. Kathy (his wife) and Aubrey (their daughter; my babysitter) are handing out gift bags. Mike is helping out with the auction (Bruce Springsteen’s guitar, etc). And the other Mike has the mindboggling task of keeping track of all the flight and hotel info of all the VIPs and making sure everyone is picked up and delivered on time. Mike ..2 gets to wear a headset the whole time.

Bruce

I can tell you that each designated VIP gets a whole cast of shadowers and spotters who must follow behind that at a designated pace, and they are not to wear perfume or anything that will compete with the star. I’m dying here because I can’t say more.

Tomorrow’s Pasha, but Thursday I’ll post what I can about the event and whether I wore a gown or a little black dress, which is the big issue right now.

Memoir workshop & gossip from my red carpet night.

Let me get right to the gossip from my work on the red carpet Tuesday night. It was a great great time, starting from the ride there, when Kenny and Kathy and I laughed for most of the way. We laughed about co-workers and bras and dandelion eaters and all the wonderful kinds of conversations that can get you in trouble if they’re ever repeated.

We all wore black (it was one of the rules we were given), and I wore a little black dress and not a pantsuit like Kathy because–as I explained to her–I have had a lifelong fear that I look like a boy. And more specifically, I’m afraid I look like Eddie Van Halen.

Eddie

When we got to the Hammerstein Ballroom, we helped put auction brochures and programs and pens at each seat. I meant to steal a pen but I forgot. I’m trying to be forthcoming here. While we put all of this stuff out, Taylor Dayne rehearsed on stage with Chic. Everyone was in jeans at that point and it was great and really loud.

Taylor

Chic (the woman on the left had pink hair that night)

Kenny thinks the woman on the right is the most beautiful woman in the world. I sighed. And he said, “Don’t worry, you’re the cutest boy.” Sigh again.

After that, my job was to stand at the doorway with the paparazzi and was told to decide which red carpet walkers should continue on to the press and photographers and which should be sent to the check-in table. Basically, they wanted to move as many people inside to the bar as quickly as possible. It’s kind of a delicate thing to let a VIP know they’re not VIP-enough to go to the photo area. The funniest part in all this is that I don’t watch TV or movies. I mean, I can spot superstar writers and robotics specialists a mile away, but I quickly buddied up to the photographers and had them tip me off.




Who were some of the people who came through my door? Well, I’ll start with my three favorites because they were outrageously warm and that gives them top-billing here: Fergie (as in the dutchess of york, not the singer), Quincy Jones’ wife, and my top-favorite, Mohammed Ali’s daughter (not Laila the boxer, but someone whose sounds like Camilla but not quite–she was ALL the staff’s favorite person of the night–we love her). Others I had to direct here and there: Quincy Jones, Mark Garagos (lawyer to O.J. and Michael Jackson and who was that *sshole who killed his pregnant wife?), Katie Couric, Montel Williams, Nile Rodgers and Nancy Hunt (no longer in jeans), Tommy Hilfiger, Taylor Dane (no longer in jeans), Oprah Winfrey’s pal Gail, Ricky Watters (NFL RB), and one of the Van Zandt’s with a purple scarf on his head. I’m sorry I don’t know any of the TV people who came through. I heard the word “Sopranos” and knew that was a show but all the rest were a blur.

The funniest was someone whom I directed to the check-in table but insisted on having her photo taken. I almost lost it watching her pose for shots. I really have to demonstrate it live to show you how funny it was, but basically she would pretend she was walking in and than sweep her head back over her shoulder like, “Oh, did you call my name?” And then she’d stop and then do the fake walk thing again. No one had any idea who she was, and we finally found out she was the sister of a former super model. If I happen to see her photo in a tabloid, I’ll be posting it.

There were only a few snafus: Katie Couric didn’t have a table (we found her one), Fergie didn’t have a table (she was lovely about it–really flexible and sweet). Elton John was late because he had to rush from his opening of Lestat on Broadway. (And I won’t name names, but one of the staff members kissed both sides of Elton’s seating card.) The only other trouble, besides a little juggling of the performances to accomodate Elton’s early exit, was that Quincy, who’s had two knee surgeries, fell on his way up to the microphone. This turned out happily but was scary at the moment.

Quincy’s main message, and really the message of the entire foundation, is to give more than you take. Every day, do what you can to make others who are less fortunate find hope and opportunity. The most moving speech of the night was from the mother of Mattie Stepanek, a large-hearted kid who packed a lot of life into his 13 years.

Mattie (the dog was at the event)

All of us who helped were allowed to do a little dancing–but “Not wild,” our boss said. “No splits.” I think, in the end, there were splits. When Elton came out, we were all dancing in back. And when Martha Wash came out to sing “Everybody Dance Now” and “It’s Raining Men,” we formed something like a Soul Train line and just got loud and silly in back. It was all right. It was great and why shouldn’t we enjoy ourselves?

Izora and Martha

(Regular readers might remember that Izora, who is deceased, is the mom of my neighbor who calls me Boo Boo.)

You’re wondering what was in the gift bag, aren’t you? MAC cosmetics, Tommy H’s book, Mattie’s book, 4 CDs, chocolate, some ugly doll thing, a bunch of other little things. No iPod.

Gift bags ran out, so those of us who were good, relinquished our bags to guests with the promise we’d be sent something better. Supposedly, they’re sending us gift bags, which is good news for Claire because she won something from that bag in the last contest.

Okay, that’s it for the recap. Tomorrow I’ll run your answers to the question about mentors. If anyone wants to slip me an answer under the wire, please do. I’m feeling generous, so the next person who writes me something that inspires me or makes me laugh might just win a prize from my gift bag.

Question of the week: What are you reading right now?

My question of the week: What are you reading right now? (Come on, be honest.) And, 1-10, would you recommend it? Send me your answers and I’ll post them Friday.

Me? I’m reading Owen King’s We’re All in This Together.., and I’m giving it a 9.

I’ve kept a list of many of the books I’ve read in the past few years. This list does not include the super-duds or research books or manuscripts that have yet to be published or literary magazines that look like books or the many fabulous books I’ve read to my kids:

Homer (translation by Robert Fagles) The Odyssey and The Iliad; Aeschylus, The Orestia; Sophocles, The Theban Plays; Aristophanes’ comedies; Aristotle’s Poetics; Euripides, Alcestis, Medea and The Bacchae; Meditations of Marcus Aurelius; Virgil (translation by Robert Fitzgerald), The Aeneid; Nicole Kelby, In the Company of Angels; Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf; J.A.B Van Buitenen’s translation of The Bhagavad Gita; Dante’s Divine Comedy (Robert Pinsky’s translation of Inferno, W. S. Merwin’s translation of Purgatorio, and John Ciardi’s translation of Paradiso); C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain; Wally Lamb, She’s Come Undone; Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Cafe; C. S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia; Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir; Stephen King, Different Seasons; Augusten Bourrough, Running with Scissors; George Saunders, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline; Robert Graves, Good-Bye to All That; Mary Robison, Why Did I Ever; Jim Daniels, Show and Tell: New and Selected Poems; Rebecca Donner, Sunset Terrace; Grant Bailie, Cloud 8; Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son; Nicholas Mosley, Impossible Object; Meghan Daum, My Misspent Youth; Lorrie Moore, Self-Help; Paul Toth, Fizz; William Maxwell, They Came Like Swallows; Gina Frangello, Falling Backwards: Stories of Fathers and Daughters; Amanda Eyre Ward, How To Be Lost; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 1 & 2; David Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim; Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises; Terry Bain, You Are a Dog; Paul Toth, Fishnet; Neil Gaiman, Smoke and Mirrors; E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News; Hilary Masters, Last Stands; Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild; Alice McDermott, At Weddings and Wakes; Alice Munro, Runaway; Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning; Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face; Stephen Elliott, Happy Baby; William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow; Annie Dillard, An American Childhood; Charles Seife, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea; Tim O`Brien, The Things They Carried; Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; Jim Daniels, Detroit Tales; Aimee Bender, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt; Bruce Bauman, And The Word Was ..; Laila Lalami, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits..; Annie Proulx, Close Range; Andrew Sean Greer, The Confessions of Max Tivoli; Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones; John Milton, Paradise Lost; Bob Arter, That Gladrag Razzmatazz; Ann Patchett, Truth & Beauty; Corey Mesler, We Are Billion Year Old Carbon: A Tribal-Love-Rock-Novel Set in the Sixties on an Outpost Planet Called Memphis; Lisa Glatt, A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That; Josh Kilmer-Purcell, I Am Not Myself These Days; Bonnie Glover, The Middle Sister; Jonathan Lethem, The Disappointment Artist; Hillary Carlip, Queen of the Oddballs.

Out of all of them, I’m partial to William Maxwell.

My very good friend Pia gave me my first William Maxwell book. Maybe my second, too? And I’m happy-to-tears to finally be able to announce this tremendous news – my favorite writer ever has a 2-book deal! From Publishers Marketplace:

FICTION: GENERAL/OTHER
2005 Narrative Magazine Prize-winner Pia Z. Ehrhardt’s debut short story collection FAMOUS FATHERS and novel SPEEDING IN THE DRIVEWAY, to Karan Mahajan at MacAdam/Cage, for two books, by PJ Mark at McCormick & Williams Literary Agency.

Makes my day.

What are you reading? Your answers.

Thanks for your responses to this week’s question. Before I show your answers, I want to announce a reading I’m excited to be a part of. If you’re in the New York area on Monday, I hope you’ll stop by and say hello. Here’s the information you’ll need:

Monday, May 15 at The Back Room, 7:30pm, I’ll be reading with Pasha Malla (from Canada), Roy Kesey (from China), Pia Z. Ehrhardt (from New Orleans), Todd Zuniga (from NYC), Jeff Landon (from Virginia), Claudia Smith (from Texas), Kim Chinquee (from Michigan), Darlin’ Neal (from California), Gail Siegel (from Illinois), Grant Bailie (from sorry, excuse me for laughing – Cleveland), Lindsay Brandon Hunter (from NYC), Jim Nichols (from Maine) and Kevin Dolgin (from France).

And now, on to your answers to the question, What are you reading?

I’m reading Steve Tomasula’s new book, The Book of Portraiture; Mark Danielewski’s, forthcoming Only Revolutions; bits of William Carlos Williams, Roberto Bolano; A temple of Texts, by Bill Gass.
Claro, author of ELECTRIC FLESH

I’ve just started ENVY by Katherine Harrison. So far, so good. Very readable. Very well written.
Adrienne Brodeur, founding editor of ZOETROPE, author of MAN CAMP

I just finished reading Josh Kilmer-Purcells I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS about the period in his life when he was an ad guy by day and a bouquet-winning drag queen by night. It was amazing. Otherworldly. A glittery, whirling visit to the world of drag queens and male hustlers. I dont read much science fiction, but thats kind of what it felt like the best kind of science fiction. Drop a human into an alien world and see what decisions he makes to survive even if one of the decisions he makes was to become a she for a while. Without a doubt, I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS has the most colorful characters ever to inhabit a book. To give perspective, my wife says that Im probably somewhere in the top two percentile of heterosexuality, but I loved this book and was sad when it ended.
James Spring, NPR and TAL contributor and author of CROSSING THE GAP

I’ve just begun the 2006 O. Henry Prize anthology. I’m two thirds into a story by Edward P. Jones and I’d give it a 9.8. He’s fabulous.
Katrina Denza, author of “TIME IS NOT A PRIVILEGE”

Just finishing up “The Long Ball: The Summer of ’75 — Spaceman, Catfish, Charlie Hustle, and the Greatest World Series Ever Played by Tom Adelman. I’m a sort of closet baseball fan. I grew up sitting on a screened in back porch with my grandfather listening to the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs play baseball. Most of my life I’ve followed football, but I have a nostalgic love for baseball that won’t die. This boo, “The Long Ball,” tells the story of the 1975 baseball season and the amazing World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox. It doesn’t just cover these teams, but all the teams, and it’s filled with anecdotes (some of which seem a bit fantastical and made up, but still…) including how Catfish Hunter became the first “free agent” and million dollar player, how certain events led to the Series as it was played, and an intimate and informative description of those seven fateful games. If you are a fan of one team or another and only after details on what happened with your team that year, this isn’t for you, but for the overall fan of the game…this is a gem. Highly recommended.
David Niall Wilson, author of DEEP BLUE

i’m just about to finish “the thin place” by kathryn davis. i’d have to give it an 8. the writing is unbelievably good – intelligent, beautiful, expansive…the only thing that detracts for me is the thinness of story. the book has some startling events, and partly what it’s about is this notion of chaos and unpredictibility, but some of the characters remain a bit obscured by the density of the language. again, davis is an incredible writer – i’d recommend the book to anyone and everyone – i’m just trying to justify why i’m not giving it a 10 .
Scott Snyder, author of VOODOO HEART

Scott, I’m reading The Thin Place, too. Usually I zip through a book in a day or two, but I’ve been stretching this book out for a couple of weeks, reading a page here and there, dipping into her language as if it’s a decadent treat I can only eat a few bites of at a time. So rich. I find myself forgetting who is who in the book, but it almost doesn’t matter–the words themselves are so delicious.
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Gayle Brandeis, author of THE BOOK OF DEAD BIRDS: A NOVEL

Reading the same auld crap i usually read – Torah, Gospels and Finnegans Wake . . . . and then i read everythang else.
EminemsRevenge, author of JEW GIRL

I am reading “Queen of the Oddballs,” by Hillary Carlip and “Comeback,” by Mia and Claire Fontaine. They both get a 10 from me. Queen is a hillarious account of a young girl growing up near Hollywood and the wild and crazy adventures that she gets herself into, including knocking on Carly Simon’s dressing room door, as a teen, and “befriending” her, stalking Carole King and eventually getting invited into the singer songwriter s home for lemonade and earning $700 by winning the Gong Show.
Hillary grew up Hollywood ish, in a weird way, and her account of it is both hillarious and fascinating.

“Comeback,” is an account, from both a mother and a daughter’s perspecitve, of how a smart and talented girl, Mia, descended into drugs and crime and how she rose from that dead end lifestyle.

I would buy both of these books, if I was you. They are both page turners just like, “Falling Through the Earth,” by Danielle Trussoni, which I just finished, a book about a Vietnam vet and the effect that the war had not only on him, but on his daughter. This book is also a 10 and worth every penny that you spend on it.
Mikel K, author of THE DELIVERY GUY

I’m rereading Susan Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief.”
I love the beginning–the introspective way she goes about getting involved in the world of orchids–but I think that the book slips into a sort of methodical catalog of ‘facts’ about orchids in the middle. Then, around page 150, there is this great rivalry between orchid growers introduced, that (of course) keeps one reading to the end. I love this book, but some sections are better than others, so I’d give it an eight.

Danielle Trussoni, author of FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH

I am reading “Another Bullshit Night In Suck City” by:: Nick Flynn. So far I give it an 8. I really dig his writing style. This book is about a son who works as a caseworker in Boston at a homeless shelter and meets his father
. Its an interesting memoir about the obstacles between a son and his father who is homeless. I especially LOVE the title of this book. Its catches the eye. No doubt.

Heather Pena, author of THE MEMOIR-IN-PROGRESS

I’m reading The Buried Mirror by Carlos Fuentes. It was reccomended by a friend who had it as required reading for a class on Hispanic Culture. It does’nt read like a text book in the least bit. Hence the recomendation. I give it an 8. I tend to be a non-fiction girl leaning towards biographical stuff, but I’ll read anything good. Although I do have add so it has to get me pretty early on.
Jesus Christ is not a Republican, activist

just picked up Platform by Michel Houellebecq. he’s gotten so much press in some of the deep lit. geek circles I move in. More of a cultural curiosity to me. I’ve my moments of letting the French get the better of me. Let me look at another few hundred pages before I render a verdict. He’s working this thinly veiled lead character is him and at odds with society thing. I haven’t decided if it’s true enough or if he’s an arrogant SOB. You know how that goes. I get the feeling that he might fancy hiself the Gaul’s answer to Chuck Pauliniuk (sp? but I’m too beat to go check it)_so, for the moment lets just say I give it a 7.
Lance Reynald, author of WORK-IN-PROGRESS

Right now??? The only thing ‘worth’ reading . . . Sue Henderson’s amazing Blog, of course! If I weren’t how would I have known to reply?
Kenn, songwriter, open-mic host, and goalie

I loved the Baroque Cycle a trilogy by Neal Stephanson. I really didn’t expect to. I’d give it a seven. I just picked up short stories by Kate Atkinson, “Not the End of the World.” I’ll let you know.
Bruce Dean, artist

I am currently reading “The Delivery Guy” by Mikel K. I find this book to be compelling in many ways.

“The Delivery Guy,” is the memoir of Mikel K, a father and writer, struggling to make a living for himself and his children as a pizza and chinese food delivery man in Atlanta. “The Delivery Guy,” is the story of a man struggling to stay sober. It is the story of a man struggling to make a life for himself and his children. It is the story of a man struggling to “make it” as a writer. It is the story of a man surviving day to day in a job where people treat him like he is invisible.

I believe this book should be read by everyone.

I know, certainly, that people would never look at delivery people the same, after reading “The Delivery Guy”. I will no longer grab my food, hand the money silently and quickly through the door and avoid eye contact with the driver. I never realized how impersonal I was being with the pizza guy, until I started reading this book.

I have been moved to tears at the author’s touching moments of love for his children and his desire to write. This book is powerful in it’s honesty. It is raw and sometimes borders on being crude, but that’s what makes this book different and such a great read.

I think this book deserves to be published and Mikel K deserves an agent for this book and the other book he is working on called, “I Am The Male Anne Lammot,” because this mans view of life not only shocks the reader, but actually changes the reader’s perspective on life. You can read a large bit of the first draft of “The Delivery Guy,” by going to Mikel K’s website at www.185cool.com/mikelkpoet and clicking on “word of . . .”

Happy reading.
Sandy, poet

A new crush and an old crush.

I know, I know. Yesterday I said today would be the second half of my interview with Scott Snyder. But what was I thinking? Wednesday’s my Pasha Malla day. Only Pasha’s taking a sick day, so now it’s just me.

Pasha

And that’s why I’m going to tell you about the coolest date ever.

Saturday, both of our boys went to a slumber party so Mr. Henderson and I went on a rare date with no babysitter on the clock.

We ate a guacamole dinner.

Some people have fajitas or something with their guacamole, but I find all that steak and shredded cheese drowns out what I’m really after. So we just stuck to the good stuff.

We do this for dessert, too. No need to lose the impact of whipped cream by jamming some pie or ice cream underneath it.

Our boys call this dessert “snow mountain” but they were not part of our date, and we did not have whipped cream for dessert.

If you know me really really well, you can probably guess what the ultimate dessert for me is.

Right. Football!

This is where Aurelio and Josh will probably stop reading because I know they’re not football fans.

I don’t get it – how someone wouldn’t love football, but some people don’t get it – how I don’t love chocolate.

Even on a year when we won the Super Bowl (you know “we” means the Steelers”), I go through a little off-season depression.

I miss the buzz I feel on weekends.

I miss Troy Polamalu and Joey Porter.

I still miss Carnell Lake and Greg Lloyd.

So after our all-guacamole dinner came Mr. Henderson’s surprise for me.

We watched Super Bowl IX (1974).

And then for breakfast the next day, we watched Super Bowl X. (Football for breakfast was my idea. It felt like Christmas morning.)

Super Bowl X is still a gut-wrenching game, even when you know your team is going to win.

Besides its nail-biter ending, Super Bowl X also featured my old gym teacher, Reggie Harrison.

Reggie, though he was drafted as a RB, was better known as a special teams player.

He was always in the shadow of this guy:

If you don’t know that’s Franco, you probably stopped reading along with Aurelio and Josh.

But Reggie made one of the first big plays of Super Bowl X when he blocked a punt that the Steelers recovered in the endzone for a safety.

I don’t suspect many NFL players with multiple Super Bowl rings have to teach high school gym after they retire anymore.

I spent a good bit of time with Reggie, and I wish I had a photo of this to share.

Some of you know this story.

When I was in high school, I worked out obsessively in the weight room at school and also at the Pentagon.

My high school sports were crew and shotput.

I was not terribly great at either, but I was great at lifting because I like being the different one. And when I worked out at the high school, Reggie would work out with me.

This was after school.

Sometimes I also watched the boys wrestling team after school because I had a crush on Tony Jolivet.

Don’t you love it when you Google someone, and there they are? (Didn’t happen in this case, so we’ll go with the yearbook photo.)

I used to have a copy of that photo blown up to the size of a poster.

When I was 16, Reggie and my other gym teacher (but not Tony Jolivet) watched me compete in a bodybuilding contest.

I flexed to the song “Cutie Pie” by One Way. (Please click and listen – it’s worth it!)

I actually stood on stage in a bikini and dance-flexed to that song.

If it sounds like I’m copying Brad Listi’s blog style today, I am.

I have to keep the reason why a secret for now, but maybe Brad will stop by one of these days to share.

So, for now, just think of this as an ode to Brad.

And to the Steelers.

And to Mr. Henderson.

And to Pasha (get well, bunny).

Brad Listi, Nervousbreakdown.com, Amy Tan & me.

I’m really and truly trying not to blog until September. But I want to share a project Brad Listi and I are involved in:

thenervousbreakdown.com

You can also “friend” thenervousbreakdown.com and Brad’s other gloriously funny Attention.Deficit.Disorder. blog via MySpace.

But before you head over there, I’ll tell you a goofy little story about last night. I often go to a local open-mic run by my good friend and soccer pal, Kenny. Last night, Kenny, Mr. Henderson, and a lot of the regular crowd came to perform.

I’m sitting with my friend, Kathy, my favorite gossip-buddy, and we’re in the corner gossiping – when WHO walks in . . . ?

First, it’s the poet laureate, Billy Collins. And a few minutes later, it’s Amy Tan!

Kathy and I – book geeks that we are – both go “EEP!” before trying to look much more composed and check them out without really staring. (My neck still hurts from this. I feel like a stalker.)

So, of course, now we’re watching open-mic through writer’s eyes and thinking which performers would make good characters in their next books, and I prod Kathy into getting on stage so I can watch how Amy responds to her.

And here is the thing: Amy bopped to Kathy. She definitely bopped. Kathy can do a good imitation of this bop.

But Amy did not clap.

None of the famous writers nor their entourage clapped for any of the open mic’ers until two of their own (Dennis O’something and a very tall guy – both good) went on stage. THEN they clapped.

And sadly, we left open-mic feeling giddy and yet not wanting to buy more of their books because of this issue of clapping. But maybe we will hear that some of our open-mic crowd made it into their books and then, of course, we will have to discontinue our author ban.

During all this, I should note, we received a desperate call from Bach-Boy, who was home with a sitter and also our new, rescued greyhound, Steve:

B-B: Daddy, Steve got the comforter. There are feathers everywhere.

Babysitter (in the background): Not everywhere. Just in their bedroom.

B-B: It’s a foot-and-a-half deep. With feathers.

Babysitter: Tell them they don’t have to come home, it’s not an emergency.

B-B: It looks like a chicken coop!

Babysitter: Would you hang up?!

Oops, gotta cut this short because the piano teacher’s here. The short of it is that you never really can vacuum every feather no matter how hard you try. And we’ll see if the babysitter we adore can overcome the memory of last night. Because it wasn’t just the feathers. And it wasn’t just Green-Hand’s rotten apple experiment. It was also Steve’s hours and hours of crying while they both sat in a room that will never again be free of feathers. It’s possible we’ve lost our babysitter forever.

Now don’t forget to check out thenervousbreakdown.com!

Okay, seriously gotta run. And yes, I know I’m behind on answering my mail.

COMING SOON: Why Green-Hand Henderson stormed out of Dave Barry’s reading . . .

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