Confessions of an F-Word Addict

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Humor, Reinvention | 27 Comments


Hi. I’m Connie and I’m an F-Word addict. (Okay—Now you all say encouragingly, “Hi, Connie”.)

I guess my addiction began when I was a teenager in the late ‘60s. In fact, I’m sure that that word was so forbidden; I’d never even heard it spoken out loud till I was 16, thank you Frank Zappa, but once Pandora’s box was opened, I could not stop myself. I started in the car, in traffic, with the windows rolled up, in bars, at sporting events—well, everyone else was…. Then I amped it up, using a little at first in public, just to be naughty, and before I knew what was happening I was running with a wild crowd. You know, artists, musicians, theater people, users of Maryjane, and unapologetic, irretrievable aficionados of the F-bomb. My mother was aghast.

I began using the F-word as noun, an adjective, a verb, an adverb, anyway way I could torture it, twist it into a sentence, was okay by me. Soon, I couldn’t control myself. That word had become part of my vernacular. I had become a habitual pottymouth, a borderline “vulgar”, as my mother had predicted. I began hanging around dockworkers, construction sites, listening to rap music, went to David Mamet plays; I was an addict. Read more

Booming Egos

Filed Under All Posts, Carine Fabius, Media, Pop Culture, Politics | 10 Comments


Carine Fabius reflects on boomers, overinflated egos and signs of the times.

In what might have been George Carlin’s last stand-up gig, he aimed his razor-sharp verbal AK-47 on baby boomers, and I’m still trying to recover from all those small, bleeding slits he left on my body. Okay, so he came off just a teeny bit angry, as in The Angriest Dog in the World; but boy, did he hit the bull’s eye on our generation’s outsized egos.

Just the other night, I, the one who turned off the TV set at age 15, happened onto an Anderson Cooper special that made me remember why I hit the power button and chucked the boob tube all those years ago (no offense to all the TV lovers out there; I’m sure there’s a ton of great stuff I’ve missed out on). In this perfect demonstration of 24-hour cable presenting crap and calling it something else, like “Special,” financial guru Suze Orman was interviewed, and here’s what she said about herself: “I am the personal financial expert to the world!”

In a choreographed moment, my husband, my brother-in-law and I turned toward one other, raised our eyebrows and smiled in shock. But there was more to come. She then said, “There is nothing I don’t know about money!” The woman interviewing her did not say, “Don’t you feel ridiculous making such silly statements?” No. Although she couldn’t hide her disbelief, she smiled, and said NOTHING. That in itself deserves analysis, but that’s for another day. Read more

Sound Check

Filed Under All Posts, Cathy Fischer, Technology | 11 Comments


Cathy Fischer listens in on the sounds of yesterday and today.

The other day as I was driving down the street in North Berkeley, my reverie was interrupted by the all too familiar sound of a car alarm. As I got closer, I realized that the sound was coming from a classic yellow school bus. Honk, honk, honk… it repeated over and over again without breath or pause. Why, I wondered, did this particular alarm strike me as odd?

Okay, I sound a bit like Granny here, but stay with me. When I was young and rode the school bus, there was no such thing as a car alarm. The incessant alarm coming from that bus made me stop and wonder, what other modern noises have become a part of our surroundings? From the phone click of call-waiting to the bleeps of Tivoing through commercials, new conveniences have brought about new sounds. Read more

Block Head

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Work | 6 Comments


Christie Healey has an “arid condition” and she’s trying all sorts of ways to remedy the situation.

When I first started to write a lot of people recommended Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones. It’s a marvelous entry into writing that helps you free the writer within. Of late I think I have not only freed the writer within, but she wandered off and didn’t leave a note. The eternally effervescent Connie Stetson has described my arid condition as “blog clog.”

Now people say that writing is not easy and if it were everyone would be doing it. Well, as far as I can tell, everyone is doing it. Blogs abound, they spill out every time I check my email. People are writing about everything all the time, putting together interesting, funny and provocative collections of words. And I sit here struggling to find something to say. I set off down a story path and within a matter of 70 words or so, I become aware of an increasing pressure on my forehead. What is it? It’s the literary version of a dead end, up against a stonewall of the imagination, no way out, no thread to pick up, the string has run out. I go back to the start to see if I can find another path. Read more

Here a Mother, There a Mother, Everywhere a Bit o’Mother

Filed Under All Posts, Family, Melissa Howden | 10 Comments


Melissa Howden finds new ways of acknowledging and remembering mom.

In the days preceding Mother’s Day my girlfriend and I were particularly sensitive to all of the Mother’s Day promotions: Mother’s Day bouquets, special brunches at our favorite restaurant, and numerous grocery store displays. We took to saying to each other half jokingly, “We ain’t got no mothers!” My mother died nine years ago and my girlfriend’s mother died two years ago. So while we were both making some light of our “motherlessness” in the face of an advertising onslaught, there was no denying the presence of our mother memories.

It occurred to me that while I was saying I didn’t have a mother, I in fact did have my mother, in two containers; one in the care of a friend in California and a smaller one here with me in New Mexico. My mother knew she was dying. As such she had time to prepare, paying in advance for her own cremation and for the distribution of her ashes off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Read more

Once Upon a Childhood…

Filed Under All Posts, Family, Parenting, Prudence Baird | 13 Comments


Prudence Baird is transported back to a time when her boys were small; a time rich with storybooks, morning hugs, inquiry and magic.

Mother’s Day has come and gone—again bringing with it all the reminders that this phase of life soon will pass. Lumpy breakfasts in bed and hand-drawn cards, both lovingly crafted by children eager to please, have been replaced with brunch out and Hallmark cards personalized only as a grumpy teenager can do—with a signature.

And so it is that under a starlit dome outside my bedroom window, as Gemini’s twins arc overhead and the grandfather clock begins to strike midnight, my restless mind mulls over a bittersweet discovery made earlier that day as I trawled through a neglected drawer looking for letter-sized file folders.

My probing hand settled on a smooth plastic stick, a foot long, with rounded ends—a child’s toy; a magic wand mixed in with old pens, highlighters, Post-it notes and rolls of tape. The wand’s cool resin holds inside two liquids—one heavy and cobalt blue, one light and clear. In this embryonic fluid dances a teaspoon or so of silvery sparkling stars and tiny gold crescent moons that float from one end of the wand to the other.

I hold the wand to the light. As the particles swim to and fro, I am transported Read more

Wondrous Women

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Media, Pop Culture | 12 Comments


From myth-inspired creatures to male fantasies, Connie Stetson does a fly-by on female superheroes, bad girls and spies.

I had an interesting conversation with a girlfriend the other day about which secret agent vixen one would rather be, Honey West or Emma Peel. She declared herself to absolutely to be Mrs. Peel, (she loves those stiletto boots and that black vinyl cat suit, and who wouldn’t want to be Diana Rigg anyway?) where I am sure that on my very best days, I channel Honey West, who looked great in a sweater and, to me, simply looked more comfortable. And gee, I wish I’d a been born with that cool beauty mark. Thank you, Anne Francis.

This got me thinking about female superheroes, so I decided to do a little research. Now, Honey West and Mrs. Peel, along with Ellen Ripley, Lara Croft and Aeon Flux are not necessarily superheroes. They are exceedingly intelligent, fit, courageous, righteous, strong women, gifted by nature to kick ass. They use their natural born, God-given gifts—their wits, their sexuality, their physical prowess and their brains—to defeat evil and further the cause of justice and, of course, maintain the balance of power in a world gone mad. Read more

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