Thursday, December 29, 2016

Unexpected Side Effects: Four Tips for Breast Cancerians

(1) Chemotherapy curls your hair! After you lose it, that is, and after it starts to grow back as hard little stubbles that hurt when you lie down. One day you realize your hair's gotten soft again. Then comes the moth-eaten nun look, or the determined dyke or the Roman-emperor do. Then comes the curls. Or the cowlicks. Remember Tintin's big old cowlick? Lots of those, plus tight little curls.

(2) You start watching Grey's Anatomy. There's an episode somewhere in the fifth season that saved an Israeli woman's life. She'd found a lump while breast-feeding and her doctor said it was just a clogged milk duct. A character on Grey's Anatomy was told the same thing, had second thoughts, and got a second opinion. The Israeli woman got her own second opinion after watching that episode. TV saved her life. Besides, the spectacle of interns kissing attending surgeons in stairwells, anesthesiologists dozing off on duty while drunk, nutcases getting shot on purpose as performance art, is all so distracting that I hardly think about my own cancer. When I do, I'm more clearheaded about what to do next.

(3) You make a will. And it's about time, Sweetie.

(4) You learn to take one thing at a time. When you panic, as I did the other day upon learning that I had to have another surgery, you tend to do many things at a time, or to think frantically about doing many things. Now's the time to slow down, make a list, and focus on the first thing before moving nervously to the second.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Cookies with the Critical Mom

I make the kind you roll out and refrigerate: here's the recipe:

We've had some delightful results. My son produced a "Diabetes" cookie:
For a sugar rush, if not actual diabetes, eat some of these!!

My daughter made one with the four houses of Hogwarts:
Clockwise, from left: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff
And now for a glimpse of our other cookies:
One way we plan not to lose weight this holiday season

Have yourselves a yummy, yummy Christmas! I recommend cookies with red wine. Or milk.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

I Went to the Christmas Market

Because I wanted to smell the Glühwein and spices; because I wanted to see if I'd missed some one thing I wanted to buy my husband or children; because I have time, at least for the next few days, to feel lazy. Police presence was obvious, and a police car--lone barrier to any runaway trucks that might be around--flanked one end of the pedestrian walkway. Near the other end, I saw a truck slowly moving past a few booths, but it did not pick up speed and crash through anything or anyone. I bought nothing: I just walked around with the increasingly irate feeling that I had a right to be there, and damned if I'd stay home.
We all have a right to be at the Christmas market, to enjoy the season, to relax. Relaxation has never come naturally to me, even less so today as I looked over my shoulder and listened for slight changes in noise-and-laughter level. I thought of Berlin, I thought of Germany, I thought of a world grated at by Donald Trump--but our Christmas market is still standing, and people are still buying little wooden angels, sausages, and mittens. It's still Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The "Dear Lucky Agent" Writing Contest

Hey there, all you writers--here's a not-to-be missed opportunity:  the 28th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a FREE recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. If you’re writing a memoir, then this 28th contest is for you! The contest is live through end of day, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. The contest is judged by agent Jennifer Wills of the The Seymour Agency.  Here's link to details:

The Critical Mom is entering of course, with--what else? A memoir called Divorcing Mom.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lumpectomy 101: How To Have One in Nine Not So Easy Steps

What's it like? Depends on how many lumps they're removing. The surgery's a big nothing if, like one friend of mine, you've just got a speck, "crystals" on a mammogram, no cancer, you're in and out the same day, "no big deal," an aspiration. Pain levels go up according to the number of lumps (lymph nodes, actually) removed. I was advised they'd be taking out eight-to-ten, and although I'm sore, I got out of the hospital on the same weekend I went in. Here's what to expect:
1. Doctor drawing magic marker lines where he or she is planning to cut. This is done while you're gooey with ultrasound gel.
2. Mammogram plus insertion of wire in breast (yeouch!) in order to help the surgeon find the tumor that chemotherapy shrunk.
3. Photo op: "just from chin to waist!" they said, but of course, you're naked and have a lot of tape and bandages on the breast with the wire dangling from it. 
4. Surgery. I don't remember too much about this part, except the slight bungle with anesthesia: while a large amount of it was being chugged into my arm, the nurse had neglected to remove the very tight blood pressure cuff on my upper arm. Result: the kind of pain you feel if your hand gets slammed in a car door. This problem was quickly remedied and I don't remember the rest.
5. Wake up very thirsty and hungry. Get fed. Discover that you are wearing two vacuum bottles attached to tubes extending from the incisions: this is your drainage system, and when there's the right amount of lymph, blood, and goo in there, you get to have the tubes removed and go home. 
6. Yes, it does hurt when those tubes are removed, but only for a moment, but yes, about three times as much as a shot.
7. Photo op two! The "after" shots.
8. You put on your compression bra, for which you were fitted back around step 2, and keep it on pretty much for the next three weeks, unless you're taking a shower. 
9. The black ones really have  dominatrix look. Smile back at your image: you've earned the look. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Why Doesn't Twitter Shut Down Trump's Account?

Well? Isn't Lauren Batchelder's story enough?
Way beyond enough! We are way, way beyond over-the-top enough. 
While I'm asking, why hasn't the FBI been investigated by the Justice Department? Why is Comey still walking around? Why are Trump's taxes still hidden? Why is the New York Times still not writing about business fraud, or any of the above? Where is the Deep Throat who can bring out the secret that will remove Trump from office before he takes it?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Critical Mom's Cold

I do seem not to be able to get through Winter without at least one cold. I keep a dispenser of hand sanitizer in my office. Despite religious use of the stuff, I can't escape the coughs of my students, who insist on handing me their bacteria-laden term papers. Or my children, who get every cup of tea they request from me. And despite gallons of tea made with honey, fresh ginger, and lemon, plus my comfort drink, the laryngitis got so bad I couldn't talk at all (shouldn't have gone in to teach on Monday and Tuesday) so I went to the doctor who has prescribed a three-day antibiotic. I took one this morning and crawled back into bed and damn, but the stuff is already working! I'm coughing up the green stuff that refused to emerge before, despite all healthier remedies, including loads of hot steam. These are the consequences of a childhood spent practically teething on antibiotics: I just can't seem to master one of these really bad colds without them. At any rate, recovery would take weeks of lying in bed and who's got weeks? I wonder what Hillary Clinton would have done. If I know her, she'd have chowed down on the antibiotics and then, through an effort of extreme will, kept going long past the point when I would have been collapsing in bed. This kind of infection does separate the girls from the goddesses . . .

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Comfort Drink: A Recipe

This one's seasonal--goes with colds as well as Christmas. Take a glass of sweet red wine--I used König Arthur Republik Moldau, or King Arthur Red Wine from Moldavia, available at our local Aldi's for one euro fifty-nine cents per bottle. Pour wine in small pot on stove. Add: a cinnamon stick (plain cinnamon as  powder will do), a chunk of fresh ginger, a few cloves (again, the powdered stuff will do) and two small tangerines or clementines (discard peels and add sections to wine). Put on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid boils. Pour into huge mug. Add a teabag of fruit tea--hibiscus is nice, as is orange, but anything you like--and pour in a little boiling water. Add about a tablespoon of honey. Stir. Drink. Soothes a scratchy throat; allows one to stop worrying about Trump, at least for a few moments.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Comfort Food: Recipe Fast, Easy, Healthy

If you haven't come across spelt semolina, you'll find it a pleasant alternative to oatmeal. I pour half a coffee mug of the stuff (known in Germany as Dinkelgriess) into a pot and add a coffee mugful of whole milk and a dash of sea salt. Stir. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly--a whisk is best. When most of the milk is absorbed, pour the hot cereal into a bowl--you'll probably need a scraper to get every drop. You can add a bit more salt, butter, and milk--or you can add blueberries and cream. Or maple syrup. Or raw sugar and cream. Or a compote. A truly comforting winter food.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump and Messala: A Comparison

For those of you too young to remember the chariot race in the 1959 Ben Hur, in which the hero, Judah Ben-Hur, is betrayed by his best friend, Messala, there's always the 2016 version, but I'll always love the original Ben-Hur as underdog, winning even though Messala's chariot, with blades attached to the hubs, destroys a number of fine charioteers. Fitting out a chariot with these blades was definitely not sporting, but allowed. You're not sorry when Messala dies a lingering death. He's always been a smooth-talking backstabber. Besides, he beats his horses unmercifully before horsewhipping Ben-Hur, in a segment even the Roman spectators boo. (Never mind that in real life, Ben Hur, the handsome Charlton Heston, became the NRA's best buddy, and Messala, the steamily masculine Stephen Boyd, cozied up to the Scientologists. Heston and Boyd were such great actors).
The scene makes me think of the Republican president-elect. His activities skirt the legalities in such invisible or suppressed ways that you'd think he was merely "not sporting." In today's New York Times, I read that President-elect Donald J. Trump has already built a wall — not on the border with Mexico, but on the border of his exclusive golf course in northeastern Scotland, blocking the sea view of local residents who refused to sell their homes. All this wall-building appears to be mildly on the side of legality, and local residents aren't pleased.
What a red herring, New York Times. Why not go after the bigger stories? Who's going to investigate the FBI? Who's going to go after Trump's taxes? His shady business dealings? Who's going to let the women at least continue to tell their stories instead of being frightened into silence? Is there a Charlotte Corday around who might tiptoe into Trump's bath? In my dreams she's Melania, and in gratitude, a Statue of Melania gets erected in New York Harbor. I hear myself whispering: Go, girl, go. He's not too nice to you and the kid, is he?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hurrah for Hamilton!

I couldn't have been prouder seeing the cast of Hamilton out there on stage politely airing the concerns of anyone who didn't vote for Trump and of many who did. Brandon Victor Dixon, I love you. How I wish I'd been there to see your talk in person. 
But along comes the boogeyman demanding an apology. Please don't apologize, Mr. Dixon. Let him apologize for bullying Mrs. Clinton, for all those shouted insults and interruptions to her on the debate stage and elsewhere. If you got the boogeyman in his substantial gut, then good for you.  Now here are Mr. Dixon's words, the ones I want for my children to remember: 

"Thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of ALL of us. Thank you."

While I'm cheering him on again, let me ask why the FBI isn't going after the boogeyman? Are they already eating out of the palm of his hand? Sing on, Hamilton! 

Best case scenario: Mike Penn thanks Brandon Victor Dixon and says, "You've really made me think," and actually thinks. 

I don't even want to conjure up a worst-case. (Poor Megyn Kelly).
I can't believe Trump is still tweeting about this. I can't believe anyone takes him seriously. I can't believe the entire staff of the NY Times isn't saying to Trump, "Before you make such remarks to the cast of Hamilton, go apologize for your horrible treatment of Clinton and your racist, sexist remarks." I can't believe the entire staffs of the NY Times and other major newspapers, of  news networks, of CNN, of BBC,  are not actively, loudly, investigating Trump's tax fraud, business fraud, Trump university fraud, and horrible treatment of women. Why are these stories falling by the wayside in favor of hourly discussions of Trump's cabinet and conversation with the Times? I'm hearing from Boldpac and I was delighted to give NARAL $40. in Mike Pence's name. But why aren't news organizations covering Trump's shady, to put it mildly, dealings?  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Glass Ceilinged: The Trumpling of Hillary Clinton

And by CNN, no less. Day before yesterday I sat watching Isha Sesay and John Vause chat with Rebecca Ruiz, a representative from MASHABLE.  Somewhere in that conversation, Benghazi came up yet again, as did emails. Why are the supposed peccadilloes of Hillary Clinton being picked over, and the crimes of Trump ignored? Why would anyone say Clinton ran a bad campaign when we know she'd have won without Comey's revival of the email nonsense? Why is CNN still not--DAILY--remarking on Trump's degradation of women, Trump's tax fraud, Trump's fraudulent university and charity foundations? Is CNN too busy reporting on the latest Trump issues with his advisors and cabinet? If so, why should that preclude the past behavior that should have prevented him from being anywhere near the seat of power?

At least CNN broached the glass ceiling:

Let's talk a little bit, shall we, about what some would call the bitter irony that Hillary Clinton's bid to become the first woman president was run off the tracks by another powerful woman at the helm of her male opponent's campaign.
REBECCA RUIZ, MASHABLE.COM: I think it would be accurate to call it a bitter irony but would hesitate to compare what Kellyanne Conway did to what Hillary Clinton tried to achieve this election season.

Kellyanne Conway was clearly very good at her job and she did impose as much discipline on Donald Trump as she possibly could. But you look at what the campaign Hillary Clinton put together over almost two years. And though she ultimately failed, at the end they are two completely different tasks, I think.

VAUSE: They are very different tasks but they are also -- and clearly, you know becoming the first female president is -- would be, you know, considerably a greater achievement than what Conway has done.

Sesay pointed out the influence of Ivanka Trump as "a moderating force in the campaign [who] kind of validated him in a positive way for women voters" and Rebecca Ruiz observed  that "both she and Kellyanne Conway acted as character witnesses for Donald Trump. So when the headlines got really bad and he got out of control on Twitter or in a debate they came out afterwards and cleaned up the mess and basically told the American people that's not the man I know. That's not the Donald Trump I've grown up with." 

Fine. Why didn't anyone point out that the conscienceless Tony Soprano was described in the same fashion by his daughter, Meadow, who tells her boyfriend, "I never saw one bit of violence," and who wouldn't have believed her own eyes if she'd seen Dad, who was taking her to see colleges, garrotte the guy in the woods who'd been "a rat."

We've seen Trump and the media garrotte Clinton enough. Enough already. Build support for Clinton and her values--our values--and draw attention to Trump's crimes. Then maybe women can really crack that glass ceiling.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Demagogue Diversions

Morality, Oscar Wilde tells us, is "simply the attitude we adopt towards those whom
we personally dislike." Anyone who "cannot talk morality twice a week to a 
large, popular, immoral audience is quite over as a politician." By these lights, 
Trump has been talking morality. So did Hitler, so have other demagogues. May I make 
the point that at least one has learned from her mistakes? Anita Bryant, who used to
say that if God had wanted homosexuals he'd have made Adam and Steve, not Adam and 
Eve, who, hit in the face with a pie, prayed for her assailant, begging God to 
"deliver him from his deviant lifestyle." But hey--does anyone notice she says, "At 
least it's fruit pie?" Maybe the ole gal was already coming 'round. She appears to have
come round now--the Florida Mom who plugged oranges and tried to kick gay people out
of the teaching profession and drive homosexuals from the nation says she now believes in living 
and letting live. Some sources say she says "just don't flaunt it or legalize it," and oh, Anita,
I am so disappointed in you if you're still qualifying your position. Stick to "live and let live."
But even if she's waffling, notice, please, that she's a woman, and she's more than halfway 
Did any of the other (male) demagogues even begin to apologize? 
They think real men don't apologize--and that's why women should rule 
the world! Good women! Like the Democratic contender. 
Hillary Clinton, we love you. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trump Protests

He's ignoring them so far. Quelling a crowd is harder than poisoning a single reporter--see Megyn Kelly's tale of the cab driver who insisted on buying her coffee right before she interviewed Trump: she began vomiting uncontrollably.  As I write ("within the last three  hours," says Google) she's being "forced to deny" the "rumors" that she was poisoned. Don't forget the woman who was raped at thirteen being threatened not to continue talking about the incident. As I write, CNN is broadcasting protestors bearing placards saying "Not My President," "Mein Trumph," and "Sexual Abuse," among other accurate accusations, while those far from the protests in rust belt cities that voted for Trump claim such slogans and protests are "disrespectful of the office of the president." Is it respectful of the office to which a candidate wishes to accede to shout accusations and insults at his opponent? ("Liar! Nasty woman!") Is it respectful of the office of the president to lie to the world, insisting President Obama wasn't born in the United States? Is it respectful to the office of the president to stand smiling as his supporters denigrate his opponent? ("Spank her! Lock her up! Execute her!") This week's Die Zeit (The Times, in Germany) shows a drawing of the Statue of Liberty cowering under an American flag, saying, in English, "Oh My God." Divine intervention is indeed what we need in this mess. No good can come of a Donald Trump presidency, and the constant efforts I see now to rehabilitate his image, plus his now mild declarations of respect for President Obama and Secretary Clinton, should not fool anyone. How deep Trump's tentacles go is a question. The FBI? The Justice Department? Why are both of these institutions silent now? His taxes? Trump University? Fraud? Never forget that Trump took his cues from Roy Cohn.The narcissistic sociopath does not change his spots. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trumpastrophe and the Pundits

We'll never hear about Trump's taxes, you can bet on that. He won't go after Clinton personally--he'll just eviscerate Obamacare, the Environmental Protection Agency, marriage equality, Roe V. Wade, and the last shreds of decency on the Supreme Court. Johnny will get his guns. The United States has taken giant leaps backwards--is there still a United States? There's a United Hates, something we always knew existed. The very poor, very desperate, very trusting, very uneducated part of Trump's power base was easy to organize through hatred and fear, which make the weak feel as though they were strong. Uniting with love, "stronger together" is the truer message, the better message, and one that we can hope to hear ringing decades down the line, after de-Trumpification takes place, as I suppose it will, eventually. My twelve-year-old daughter just called from school, distraught. A friend on the Upper West Side of Manhattan emailed, "Can we move in with you?" Sure, I said.
I do blame, in part, the pundits and so-called moderators of the debates. Things happen incrementally, and at each small bad downward turn, these gatekeepers were not there to put a forceful stop to bad behavior. When Trump interrupted Clinton constantly, when he name-called, not one moderator said, "Mr. Trump, stop that right now: you are not allowed to talk to your opponent in that hostile manner. Apologize." Either they did not dare to do so--shame on you!--or they felt too stunned, and looked to Clinton as the Mommy who would make everything better. I don't feel any happier about the comments I am hearing from CNN this morning. Not one honest protest. "Historic victory"--if you're talking about Hitler marching into Poland, would you use that term? Never forget that all the pundits said "he wouldn't dare." If you're a praying type, start praying now. Some act of God could still prevent Trump and  Putin from stepping over the necks of the peasants on their way to yet more money, yet more power.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eight Election Thoughts

(1) Did my absentee ballot arrive at the New York Board of Elections and get counted among the votes for Hillary?
(2) God forbid she loses.
(3) If she does, I can only reflect: disasters occasionally produce unexpectedly good results. It's hard, for example, to imagine a greater catastrophe than my parents' marriage. But I'm glad to be around, as are my kids. My husband is also glad I'm around and they're around.
(4) But this happy family would not be around without that disaster.
(5) If there's a de-Trumpification process in America, people will be sadder, but they will also be wiser.
(6) Will we live long enough for the wisdom to feel worthwhile?
(7) The most desperate thought: is there the tiniest chance that Trump isn't really as dreadful as I think he is?
(8) No, there isn't.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Trumped-Up Assassination Attempt?

How much did the Republican candidate pay that guy in the audience to yell "Gun!" How much did Mr. Trumper-Upper stage this whole supposed assassination attempt?

A. Completely

B. Not at all

Gentle, and not so gentle reader, tell me what you think. Nothing this guy does would surprise me, and if tomorrow Trump says some Democrat tried to kill him then, well, that's exactly the kind of thing he would say, isn't it?

I don't like assassinations but I do wish some Act of God would airlift him to his favorite hotel, where he'd stay, among the Lotos-eaters, forever, and forever out of politics. Forever out of business would be great, too, God, while you're at it. Just keep him comfortable but way, way, out of power.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trumpesque Literary Figures

I've exhausted my run of real bad guys who resemble the Republican candidate. Forget Hitler and Mussolini--when I see Trump, I'm more reminded of Caligula. But when I turn to literature, there's always Voldemort or the Wicked Witch of the West for the malevolence, there's Dracula for sucking the poor bone dry, and then there's Huck Finn's dad for the yahoo resentments--consider this scene, just before the old man succumbs to the DTs: 

here was a free nigger there from Ohio—a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever seen, too, and the shiniest hat; and there ain't a man in that town that's got as fine clothes as what he had; and he had a gold watch and chain, and a silver-headed cane—the awfulest old gray-headed nabob in the State. And what do you think? They said he was a p'fessor in a college, and could talk all kinds of languages, and knowed everything. And that ain't the wust. They said he could VOTE when he was at home. Well, that let me out. Thinks I, what is the country a-coming to? It was 'lection day, and I was just about to go and vote myself if I warn't too drunk to get there; but when they told me there was a State in this country where they'd let that nigger vote, I drawed out. I says I'll never vote agin.

If folks like the Florida grandma who likes Trump for his anti-immigration policies never vote again, that's okay by me. She claims her ancestors came through "the proper channels"--what, Ellis Island?
But please, please, if you haven't voted for Madame Clinton, do so today.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Money Makes the Election Go Round

If there is one thing this registered Democrat who voted already for Hillary Clinton has learned, you can't do elections without a ton of triple-matched and quadruple-matched gifts. I send 'em, the three bucks, the one buck, the five bucks, but the infestation that is Donald Trump swats all donations aside and goes back to his own cornucopia. The man is money; he breathes it, excretes it. Money comes out in his dandruff. People seem to admire him for this quality. Enough that the FBI doesn't make public his tax fraud, business fraud, sexual harassment, and God knows what other dark deeds. A pathological liar, a self-made narcissist: this creature has climbed to the top of the American political system. When will the Republicans have the courage to reveal what they really know about this man?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump Lived Up to His Name, Didn't He?

He's always trumping something up. Like this: in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. No, you can't, as many late-term abortion providers have already tweeted, but that's hardly the point. The real point is you could see Caligula in Trump's eyes as he said this. You really could see him ripping a baby out of the womb. Sadistically. Taking yet more revenge on women. Think this is a media conspiracy, Donald? Oh, nobody reads me. I wish they would. You moderators, you: why on earth didn't you call him out on the carpet when he pointed at Madame Clinton and said, "She's a nasty woman." This is much more than petulant bad behavior; it's degrading to the United States, and the world is appalled that such talk is allowed. Why didn't Chris Wallace say, "Mr. Trump, this kind of language is not allowed. You must apologize." Any kindergarten or grade school teacher would have done this--but all moderators have simply allowed this bullying, uncouth behavior. I'm disgusted. And Caligula goes on. Trump is already Caligula, but imagine Caligula in the oval office. Brrrrrr:

Monday, October 17, 2016

How To Moderate The Next Clinton-Trump "Debate": Ten Tips

(1) If you haven't Googled "How to Handle a Malicious Narcissist," that's the least you should do. Consulting a few professionals would be better.

(2) Never say "yes," when the Republican candidate asks in that sneering tone, "Well, can I respond?" JUST SAY "NO!"

(3) Understand that you are not moderating a debate. You are making it possible for Madame Clinton to get a word in edgewise before the Republican candidate growls, "You'll go to jail!" or "She needs a drug test!" or "String 'er up!" 

(4) It is your bounden duty to put an abrupt and definite halt to such remarks: "Stop that, Donnie! We don't talk like that, Donnie! Behave yourself!" would--yes, really--be appropriate. If you feel a need for decorum, and I think you should not, then say, "Mr. Trump! That language is inappropriate! You have two minutes to re-phrase." 

(5) Before the debate even begins, lecture the candidates on expected behaviors, making clear that any and all inappropriate remarks or threats will be censured. Each candidate is expected to speak to the issues.

(6) Understand that you really don't need to know the issues yourself. You don't need to bone up on the latest ghastly Donaldism or Wikileaks. This election has never been about "the facts." It's always been about personalities. 

(7) Consider the mistakes of moderators in the last two debates. Flummoxed by the Republican candidate's bad behavior, they ignored it, behaving as though his menacing motions and words were something to be ignored. They aren't. Step into the fray and call him on his shit.

(8) When you don't do this, Hillary Clinton is left in the position of the mom who's supposed to mop up after the huge mess, with no Dad backing her up. That's really not fair. Moderators so far have allowed her to be bullied. You then create a situation in which Trump is allowed to be predator and she is forced to be prey.

(9) When a candidate refuses to play by the rules of polite society, then you cannot stick to these rules yourself. You must be active. 

(10) If you remain passive, and if the Republican candidate wins, then there will be a catastrophe followed by a post-war period and a need for a de-Trumpification process. Even if Madame Clinton wins--and please, let's hope she does--the media needs to plan, with good government, a de-Trumpification process that will neutralize the hatred stirred up by Trump and which he will otherwise work to keep alive.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wikileaks, Shmikileaks--Why You Should Love Hillary Clinton (and Why Doesn't Assange Go After Trump?)

The cynical Julian Assange--I like the man less and less--has been quoted as saying the choice between Clinton and Trump is one between gonorrhea and cholera. Oh, come on. That's an attitude that comes of being stuck in the Ecuadorean embassy for too long. Clinton is presidential: she knows how to be president, and we know Trump doesn't know how to do that. He knows how to be Hitler. He knows how to be Duterte. He knows how to be Jack the Ripper. He knows these things. But he doesn't know dignity, he doesn't know love, he doesn't know honor. Clinton does. Let's revisit Fran Lebowitz's observations from last May:

You've got to admit, Madame Lebowitz has a way of being bitingly correct. Even more bitingly correct right now. 
The BBC interviewed the residents of Youngstown, Ohio, many of whom have lost their way of life, their steel mills, their jobs, and who think that some change, as represented by Trump, is good change. They believe the Republican candidate to be anti-establishment; they believe him to be looking out for them. I ask them to observe the threats, the accusations, the denials of the man. I ask them to ask themselves whether they truly discount the words of so many women who describe being fondled, kissed, groped, and assaulted by Trump, and whether they can honestly nod and wink at his gleeful boasts and say "boys will be boys." Can you who are voting for this man truly believe he will not treat you all as he treated these women?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton Could Have Laughed All Night . . .

But she didn't. Oh, how I wish Hillary Clinton had pulled out a wand, waved it, and quipped "Riddikulus!" when those hoptoads and vipers slimed out of his mouth. He was pouting so hard they could barely make their way past his big ole rat teeth, but they remain as determined as he and they sat, panting and stinking, at his feet, grinning out at the audience.

The worst, Madame Clinton, returns to laughter--if only you'd known to laugh. You got Puritan and rapped the bad boy on the wrist, and the bad boy flipped you with a jiu jitsu move. 

I was glad you at least smiled. But then you wagged a finger instead of a wand--preacher instead of good witch--and told us to check facts.

Oh, the facts are so irrelevant. Personality is all. Show us your confidence by chuckling. Crack a joke or five. But don't lecture. To do so is to take him seriously.

I voted for you by absentee ballot on September 30 and I hope to goodness my ballot got there.  I hope all the Americans abroad sent in their ballots already, and hope the ballots got to the Board of Elections.

Final thoughts:


Never said I was perfect,
America, popped
Tic Tacs, grabbed girls
By the pussy, squeezed ‘em onna tits,
Kissed ‘em they love it!
They love me! Hey,
In the land of the freebies . . .
I’m so hot they can’t resist,
In the home of the brash . . .
I just can’t help it, ooh,
So sexy, ya know?
I’m a genius, I built
That city upon a hill
They’re lookin’ at us, kid, they are,
I’m a star, I got a better personality
Oh, say they can see
I moved on her like a bitch
I can do it—I’m rich:
Got a right to life, liberty, pursuit:
Says so right here.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

"Obviously, Marital Vows Mean Nothing To Him . . . "

Says The New York Times about the Republican presidential candidate. That's hardly the point. NOTHING means anything to him. Nothing at all. He enjoys power and women, but they mean nothing beyond continuing the game. He likes thrills, but even they mean nothing to him. Our lives mean less to him.

Transmitting this message to people in danger of voting for him means everything to me.

Friday, September 30, 2016

I Voted For Madame Clinton Today: Everywoman's Wish

Everyvote I will go with thee
and be thy guide,
In thy most need to go
by thy side.
It's September 30, and I've inked in the ovals for a straight Democratic ticket. I've re-folded the paper and placed it in the brown envelope requiring my signature--I've signed the envelope--I've placed that envelope in the mailing envelope, added a Priority Mail stamp and every magical thought I can summon: pagan prayers, vaguely Christian prayers, desperate desires: Please, little vote, make your way to New York and be counted! Who knows what accidents await your travel, what nefarious deeds.  I took my envelope to our local post office, handed it to a sweet old postal worker who looked as though he would, if he were an American citizen, vote for Hillary.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Roy Cohn and Donald Trump

For those of you too young to remember Roy Cohn, understand that he was notorious enough to have become, after his death, a major character in a long-running Broadway play, Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Why? He was the sleaziest, and one of the most powerful, lawyers who ever lived, advising, among others, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. After forging a man's signature on a will--the man was comatose and in a hospital bed at the time--Cohn was finally disbarred. And P.S., Cohn died of AIDS, one reason Kushner included him in a play about the havoc wreaked on American society by this incurable monster of an illness. (Everything you might want to know about Cohn, including his friendly support of Joseph McCarthy, his verve in sending Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair, and his fulfilled wish to die owing millions to the IRS, is right here:

My point is, Roy Cohn was a very big pal of the Republican candidate--among other gangsters, including Mafia bosses and the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New York. Yes.

I have my own Roy Cohn story. Back when Cohn was a child, a woman my family knew well--a Juilliard pianist--got a job teaching the young Roy to play the piano. The money was good, and each week this teacher met with the kid, attempted to teach, and couldn't even get him to sit down at the piano. The entire time she was there, he ignored her, talking to his friends on the phone about legal cases, or reading legal articles. He was, she reported, "the nastiest little boy I've ever met." Finally she went to his mother, hating to relinquish a job that paid so well, but feeling dishonest about keeping it. She explained, "Mrs. Cohn, I've tried to teach your son piano, but he's really not learning anything. I don't feel right taking your money."
Mrs. Cohn begged her to stay: "For that hour that you're here, I know where Roy is," she said. 
Cohn is the man who helped Trump in a dark moment--when Trump was enmeshed in lawsuits, Cohn's advice remained, "Give 'em hell." And Trump's been giving everyone hell ever since.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trumpacalypse, or Why Ivanka Might Just Vote for Hillary.

Anyone who saw Madame Clinton's opponent huffing and puffing and threatening to blow everyone's house down--at one point he actually said, "I'm not being braggadocious!"--knows he's not fit for the presidency. Or business. But we'll stick to the immediate danger. If Ivanka's anything like her Dad, she sizes people up. She has an opportunity. She'll be all alone in that voting booth. There's no need to tell Dad which lever she pulled. I bet she can vote by mail, or maybe that's only folks like me, who live outside the USA. I just got my absentee ballot today, and cannot wait to fill in the oval next to Hillary Clinton's name and send back my ballot. 
No matter where you stand--and I write for those who haven't liked Clinton in the past and might be voting for Trump--if you saw her today speaking about her mother, about children, about struggle, about poverty, you know that she has a heart--that she really cares, that she wants to help people succeed in their lives, that she values kindness and knows how to unite people in a common effort. Her goals are modest, and therefore much more achievable: she wants to make America good again. The idea of making America "great" is a false one--the Republican candidate's definition of "great" is never trotted out without a"better than," "bigger than," "stronger than"--we never hear it without a threat to get rid of some cardboard cutout who in his imagination is undermining some mythic "real" America. He's good at naming those who cannot defend themselves because they need help: refugees, poor people, people of color. 
Ivanka, the man who grabs your body in that revoltingly un-fatherly, inappropriate way is not the man you really want to run our country--is it? You don't have to say a word. Feel free to lie to "dad"--he's never really been a dad, has he? If you actually like, even love him, ask yourself what his reign of terror would do to the world, not just America. When you're alone in that voting booth, focus on the candidate who offers love and who offers a realistic plan--not the "braggadocious" businessman spouting hatred. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ivanka and Implications of Incest

Go through the videos of the Republican candidate hugging his wife, then daughter, onstage, Look at the way he grabs his wife's upper arms just to show her who's boss, the way he slips his hand to Ivanka's lower hip and bottom. None of his gestures show affection or even regard--they show control, possessiveness, desire. Ivanka pulls away, as if embarrassed. 
Go back ten years: Ivanka sitting in a micro-mini next to him on "The View," a talk show, during a 2006 taping. Star Jones, the host, wonders what Trump would think of Ivanka modeling for Playboy. Ivanka smiles as he answers that she has a nice figure and "if she weren't my daughter I'd date her." Joy Behar cracks, "What are you, Woody Allen?" and Trump smirks, "That's good."
It's not good. Allen married a woman who'd been a daughter to him, and molested his other daughter, then seven.
It's not good that a man who could win the U.S. presidency treats his daughter as a tasty piece of meat, his wife as a doll to be kept in a cage. It's not good that he has no heart, to put it mildly. I think of the daughters of dictators--Stalin's daughter is a good place to start in learning that dictators treat their families not much better than their subjects: Stalin sent her Jewish boyfriend to the Gulag.
Remember that, and vote for Madame Clinton.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Stuffed Peppers and Eggplants: a Cancer-Fighting Recipe in Ten Easy Steps

Why is this a cancer-fighting recipe? Because it's not candy or junk food, because it has no alcohol (which gets to your liver when you're doing chemo, and some say it raises estrogen levels), because it has vegetables (those are great, even when you don't have cancer) and because I Say So. I have, like most cancer ladies, read enough (coffee is bad! Oh, maybe not!) to decide on what I think is healthy, within reason. I read enough of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen to know the editor would approve of my version of Stuffed Peppers and Eggplants. When a woman who assured me she was a "certified cancer coach" insisted that milk caused cancer and sent me a link detailing the reasons why, I Googled around enough to want to ask her "Certified by whom? A psychiatrist?" So here's my healthy recipe:

(1) Make some whole-grain rice ("Natur" rice in German) or brown rice in your rice cooker. For a family of five, one cup dry rice, a little salt, two cups of water.

(2) Pre-heat your oven to 190-200º Celsius. (About 350ºF).

(3) While the rice is making, wash about six big peppers and two or three medium-sized eggplants. Slice eggplants in half. With a knife, cut rectangles and scoop them out. Place on a large plastic cutting board; the eggplant slices should be bite-size or smaller, the eggplant nicely hollowed out (think of a longboat made by Robinson Crusoe--doesn't he hollow out a tree to make a canoe?) Salt that eggplant. Set aside.

(4) Pour into a large frying pan, about two tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Wash and dice two zucchini and stir them into the olive oil. Dice an onion--I like the red ones--and add that. Or scallions. A few little tomatoes, diced. Stir and sauté. Set aside.

(5) When the salted eggplant boats and pieces are starting to turn brown  and ooze (about twenty minutes) place them in a colander and rinse them thoroughly with cool water. Place the boats upside down on paper towels, add the little pieces of eggplants to the frying pan and sauté them a bit more. 

(6) Slice the tops off the peppers. Pull out or cut out the section with the seeds and discard (we give these to our guinea pigs, who squeal their appreciation. Nothing's wasted at our house.)

(7) In a large bowl put everything from the frying pan, two well-beaten eggs, and the rice. Mix thoroughly. Grate a large chunk of Parmesan cheese (6-8 oz) into this mixture and stir well. Set aside.

(8) Add a little more olive oil to the pan. Sauté the eggplant halves, peppers, tops of peppers. Turn frequently--do all sides: the peppers shouldn't burn, but should look cooked. Same with eggplant. Turn heat off. Have large pan ready. Oil it slightly--olive oil.

(9) Take each pepper or eggplant half--carefully--they'll be hot, and fill it with the stuffing. Settle in baking dish. You may have to lean the stuffed peppers against other stuffed peppers to make them stand up. Place the pepper tops on the stuffed peppers--doesn't have to be the one from that pepper.

(10) Bake for about 40 minutes (sometimes you'll need longer). Enjoy!

If you don't have cancer, drink a glass of red wine with this. If you do, try red grape juice, because in my opinion the person who invented non-alcoholic wine should be forced to drink it every day. You, sweetie, do not have to torture yourself. Enjoy your food!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mein Furor Versus Cool Clinton

Okay, I didn't coin that phrase--Daily Kos did--and it fits the Republican candidate like a glove. His rages and sneers are all part of his shamelessness, and shamelessness seems to be a quality that people envy and wish to emulate. How lovely to be free of shame. Guilt, too. Free from those feelings that torture you, but keep our culture in line. From John Winthrop (the Puritan preacher who warned his flock that their new colonies would be a "city upon a hill" watched by the entire world--so be good!) to Freud, guilt and shame have played big hands in American life. We go for ideals and our punishments are medieval compared to those in enlightened Europe. 
And that, I guess, is why so many Americans love a guy who radiates shamelessness. He lies, he cheats, he's caught at both constantly, but he never shows a nanosecond of shame, because he doesn't feel it. He's a player and he loves any move of the game, and Jimmy Fallon got to rumple his hair, but did Mein Furor show embarrassment? No, and you'll never get him to do so. If he were caught red handed by Wikileaks, his fraudulent taxes all over the news, he'd be screaming that somebody faked it. He'd be blaming everything on Madame Clinton. He has no conscience. That's why he is envied.
Cool Clinton has nothing but conscience. She makes us feel ours. Ethical to the bone, she fights, righteous indignation sticking out all over her. She's funny, too--loved that "I get allergic" line, referring to Mein Furor. But CNN jumps on her for lying about her health, while no authority bothers to jail a man who's been cheating on his taxes since his first forays into business, if not before. Tax records! Health records! Birth certificates! Wham!  A German commentator noted that Germans would never ask for Frau Merkel's health records. Those are her business--entirely private, and privacy is big here. But Americans, he pointed out, are voting for tribes, not parties, and the healthiest body wins. We're back to the stone ages already, the pre-democracy ages. AND I SAY UNTO YOU: Don't let Mein Furor become Mein Führer. Vote for Clinton!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hillary's Pneumonia and Why You Should Vote For Her

I had pneumonia for the usual reason women get it--overwork. I had three young children who had to be picked up every day from kindergarten and elementary school. I worked and graded exams and did laundry and made meals. I had a persistent cough. One afternoon, I'd dragged myself over to the kindergarten and was on the way home with my two youngest kids, who had wanted to stop in the playground along the way. I stood, swaying on my feet, watching my daughter on the swing. I didn't want to sit down, because I thought I wouldn't have the energy to get up. 
"Wow, that's some cough," said a voice behind me, one of the dads. "Do you smoke a lot?"
I had coughed? "No, just asthma," I said. I had what I thought was asthma-with-a-bit-of-bronchitis. A doctor had prescribed rest and antibiotics. A male doctor, of course. I laughed at the first remedy, but took the second religiously. So I had to get better, right? All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep.
I kept going until finally, like Madame Clinton, I landed in the hospital for ten days. She's a lot stronger than I am--almost ten years to the day older--and wild horses won't keep that woman in the hospital. She is too busy fighting for you and me and for democracy itself. She's fighting for basic decency. 
Why do I keep reading about people who "just don't trust" Hillary? Why the continued crap about the emails, the tedious wikileak about the earpiece? Why am I hearing, "Oh, I just won't vote--he's a monster and she's too much of a socialist/liar/inconsistent/younameit?"
I never thought I'd say this: because she's a woman. Strong women are, even by The New York Times, denigrated--"the bitch we need" is how Clinton was described. Shame on you, New York Times, for confusing strong and forceful with bitchy. 
On CNN's State of the Race, Kate Bolduan led the charge about Why Hillary Should Have Been More Transparent. Aw, come on!! If Hillary were a guy, would people have freaked? What's really going on, why people are angry, especially the guys, is because Mommies Are Not Supposed to Get Sick! How well I know. When I was sick in the hospital with pneumonia, my husband brought my then really little ones to visit. My six-year-old turned his head away, wriggling with rage. He was in no mood for mommy (what the heck was she doing, leaving him for these doctors?) to read him a book. My four-year-old daughter gloomily wondered about the "doctor you live with now." 
Angela Merkel is Germany's Mutti and, Madame Clinton, take it as a compliment that American voters see you as Mom, too. At the moment, bad mommy, for getting sick. Let's work that into a great American theme: The Underdog Returns And Triumphs. You are Hillary, let's hear you roar until Trumpy turns tail and runs! You go, girl! 
Remember that Donald Trump is worse than Frank Underwood. Donald Trump is real. He doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything but Donald Trump--maybe not even Donald Trump. It's easy to imagine him destroying everything and everyone within sight, then heaving an orgasmic last breath as he jumps off a cliff. Hillary Clinton loves life. Despite pneumonia, acquired while on an heroic mission to raise funds, she keeps going like the determined, courageous, strong woman she is, and I hope Americans will recognize the depth of her commitment, the elemental force of her experience, and vote for her--overwhelmingly. She will recover from pneumonia, but America would never recover from Donald Trump.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

8 Tips for Capturing Escaped Guinea Pigs

(1) Take all of their little wooden houses and place them near the bushes under which you suspect your little escape artists have sequestered themselves. 
(2) Place a carrot, an apple, any favorite food, just inside the door of each house.
(3) Don't hope too hard, unless it's raining. If it is, they'll run straight for a house.
(4) Today is unrelentingly sunny. Lurking by the woodpile, we watched our faster piggie dash out from behind some brambles, grab the carrot, and race back into her hiding place. Several times.
(5) Put your laptop on top of one of their houses. Play some "Happy Guinea Pig" sounds on You-Tube. Your pigs will at least peek out so you'll know they're alive.
(6) Crackle the plastic bag of favorite dry food (this causes one pig to peek out from the shrubbery, revealing her sidekick (Still alive! Not consumed by a cat!)
(7) Call the wonderful, eccentric neighbor, your local Boo Radley. He appears instantly, and in a businesslike fashion climbs down behind the thorny bushes and grabs a guinea pig, which he hands you. Her friend is a little faster, but between Boo reaching for her and you blocking her way, he manages to capture her, too.
(8) Remember: it takes a village to capture a guinea pig!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Don't Plan While on Paclitaxel (OR: It's Sleeping Zombie Day)

I brought a stack of student essays to read and grade as the nurse adjusted the IV line and set up the Paclitaxel drip. And that other little plastic package, the anti-allergenic. Surely the third time would be easier than the second time, the second time having been less easy than the first. I'd even been back to take a ballet class in between chemo treatments. Toward the end of a treatment I feel almost normal, just in time for the upcoming dose to render me Sleeping Zombie.
But my eyelids got heavier and out I conked, as if someone had just clocked me. I didn't see stars and nothing hurt, but I drifted into oblivion. So much so that when the nurse came in and I was vaguely staring around, not quite there, I jumped when she asked a question. 
As soon as I got home I was determined to do laundry. I got it in the machine, put in the laundry soap, closed the door--and forgot, as I was to discover only several hours later, than I hadn't started the machine. 
Upstairs I went to lie down on the couch for "just a minute." When my teenager asked if I minded whether he did his clarinet practice I said "Okay," or "go ahead," and apparently went right back to sleep.
"You slept through my clarinet practice, Mom," he said. "Wow. I was really loud, too."
Here I am, five hours later, still a little on the groggy side. Queen of the Zombies. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why You'd Rather Have Dr. Asperger's Syndrome than Dr. Perfect Bedside Manner

Once upon a time I had a mammogram--and was reassured, as I always had been, until now. Dr. Perfect Bedside Manner never rushed me. She had my results in her hand and was smiling as I walked in. She shook my hand, offered me a seat, explained why I was just fine--"I have nothing but good news for you!"--and, after exchanging a pleasantry or two about my very good gynecologist, who recommended me, let me go. But then two months later I found a lump--technically a swollen lymph node--and the circus of my treatment--tests, tests, test, chemotherapy, baldness, old ladyhoodness, and other distressing symptoms, began.
To my gynecologist's surprise, Dr. Perfect Bedside Manner was not assigned to my case. The hospital has a team, and normally Dr. PBM is on it, and I guess they must have thought--no one offered an explanation--maybe they thought I would sue--that I would not be comfortable with a doctor who had failed me. It's a common failure, misreading a mammogram, but how would they know that I knew that? In any case, I was assigned Dr. Asperger's Syndrome, who walks like a Hollywood Frankenstein and has the bedside manner of a snail. His expression--that of someone who hasn't had enough sleep and needs a bathroom--never seems to change. 
Since the whole idea of chemotherapy, to shrink the lump before surgery, seemed not to be working--because I could feel the round, hard, lump after four rounds of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide--I made an appointment with him. If side effects were all I was getting out of chemo, I wanted out.  
Dr. Asperger's Syndrome, with none of the personal charm of Dr. Perfect Bedside manner, has other qualities. What he lacks in ordinary everyday politeness he makes up for in competence. He is the doctor who knows how to identify that single snowflake, the one he seeks, in a blizzard. 
Not long before my appointment I was waiting to speak to a receptionist when he happened to come down the hall. I'd met him twice before, so smiled and waved. He moved robotically down the hall, not seeming to see me. 
I was waiting in the same place the day I had my appointment. He strode down the hall toward the receptionist. This time I got a vague, startled nod as he continued walking. The receptionist guided us down the hall to an office and unlocked it; he left and let her take me in and question me about my insurance. By this time I was bald and wearing my wig. He'd met me before I lost my hair, so I wondered if perhaps he did not recognize me in my new blond haystack. About which he said nothing. He returned and asked something--perhaps "How are you" in such a flat affect that I felt nervous. I flipped off my wig, said, "Well, now we have the same haircut," and he didn't laugh, although actually we do sport the same military buzz cut. Equally gray, too. He stared intently at my offending scalp for a moment, as if calculating. After the interview, I imagined he was thinking, "She is not completely bald, therefore . . . ." or "Her stubbles seem exactly a quarter of a millimeter long, which indicates . . . ." He turned, scribbled something on a clipboard, and set up the ultrasound. I lay on the table as he slimed me with gel and started moving the arm of the ultrasound around my breast. I had questions and started asking them, but when I glanced at him, I desisted. He was leaning into the screen with an intensity that made me want to stop breathing. I thought the sound of my respiration would break his concentration. His eyes were wide and bugged out. "Speaking up now, " I told myself, "Would be like asking a man in the throes of a very good orgasm whether he'd remembered to pick up his shirts at the dry cleaner." 
Only when Dr. Asperger's Syndrome had completed his exam and tossed me a towel with which to wipe off the goo did I express my concern that the lump seemed bigger. The one at the edge of my breast.
"No, no! We'll take that one out later. The other one's smaller." He smiled in a cheery fashion and walked out. I thought of Lurch, the Addams family butler.
But I'm much happier with Dr. Asperger's Syndrome than Dr. Sweet Bedside Manner, who missed the diagnosis and left me unaware and untreated for two long months. 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Wigless Cancer Mom Answers the Door

Wigs, as a rule, aren't comfortable. But ever since I lost the little cotton skullcap that goes under mine, the thing's surprisingly more comfortable--my sharp gray hair stubbles function like velcro. Still, I don't wear my wig at home. If I know the Amazon delivery guy is ringing the doorbell, I quickly don one of my Smurf caps. If it's just one of my children, I don't. They've gotten used to the sight of Mom-with-military-buzz. 
Somehow, I thought one of my kids had forgotten his or her key when I answered the door one evening around six. There stood one of my older son's friends, his eyebrows suddenly up, eyes popping, mouth in a classic "O." No doubt about it. The kid was in shock. So I was, actually, having made feeble plans to keep breast cancer a secret.
"Oh," I said. Then, overly brightly, "Hello!" In came the kid. As I directed him to my son, I explained, "This is my chemotherapy head, but don't tell anyone."
"It's--ahhh, okay!" gasped the kid.
"Normally, I wear a wig."
"It's--really--okay!" he added.
Today we're visiting friends in Bavaria, and I woke up in the middle of the night to use the facilities. Unexpectedly, the girlfriend of our host's son was emerging from the bathroom just as I entered.
"Oh, hello! It's just me," I said with manic cheer.
She smiled. Girls understand better, without having things explained.