Sunday, September 27, 2009


I am pleased to say that progress continues in the effort toward publication of the new book. An agent has offered to represent it, and once the contract comes back from my legal advisors, it will be signed, and the hunt for a publisher will begin (he already has three publishers in mind).

The agent suggested that I send the manuscript to a book editor (even though he had not yet read it at that point). I spent some considerable time looking for an experienced “book” editor, someone who is skilled in overall book quality, such as flow, reading dynamics and organization, as well as the usual copy-editing skill set. The agent read the manuscript while I was searching for the right editor and sent me several suggestions, which I immediately incorporated into the manuscript. Then I sent it to the book editor for a read through.

I was thrilled with the book editor's response. He loved the book, then he roundly chastised me for making him cry in public. Evidently he read through the manuscript sitting in Panera Bread! (Sorry about that, Ken.) I believe this is the first time in my life I ever made a grown man cry…at least with my writing.

He offered some wonderful suggestions, and I have taken his advice to heart and made further changes that improve the dynamics and flow and corrected the occasional typo. The manuscript is now in it’s last and hopefully final copy-edit phase. I am running through it with a red pen, while another copy is with a highly competent copy editor for an equal run through.

Those who know me well enough to know what I do for a living might want to know why I would bother having someone else do a complete edit on my work. Let me explain. I have spent the last 20 years writing and editing for a living, but I have learned a very important lesson. Your brain sees what it thinks you typed or what you intended to type, even when your eyes are seeing what your fingers actually typed. In essence, if you typed there when you really meant to type their, your brain makes the leap when you read it again and ignores it, much like the autocorrect feature of word. Once you tell it something is correct, it never highlights it again, even when it’s wrong.

I can take someone else’s work and catch 99.9%of their copy issues. If I’ve never seen it before and I did not write it, I am more competent to catch the problems. If I’m reading my own stuff, my brain is already biased. It is much harder to edit your own work with the same degree of accuracy that you can something you’ve never seen before.

Always have someone else read your work before submitting it to an agent or publisher! If you can’t find someone competent to read through it for you, then sit down in a quiet place and very deliberately read it out loud. This is the only way to stop the brain from making that leap and force it to recognize what is actually written there.

More information on the new book will be forthcoming!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Candidate for the Darwin Awards?

I read a news story about a man who, in an effort to make his manhood larger, slipped it into the center hole of an iron weight…you know, the kind you usually put on both ends of a steel bar and use for body building? Of course, it promptly got stuck.

This was not a surprise to me, but evidently it was a huge surprise to the man in the story. I’m not quite sure how many methods he used in the attempt to extract himself from the dumbbell. I’m assuming he must have run out of options, because after three days, and finally went for help to the emergency room.

Unfortunately, they had no way to remove the dumbbell from his manhood…or should I say they had no way to remove the dumbbell from the dumbbell. So the fire department was called. They managed to saw through the dumbbell without further damaging the man’s equipment.

And therein lies the rub, so to speak. Don’t know about you, but I can’t help thinking that any man stupid enough to hang a weight on himself to make himself bigger should definitely not be allowed to further pollute the gene pool by using that equipment to reproduce!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Shark Tank

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am fascinated by the TV show “Shark Tank.” I have learned more about cutthroat business practices in the last six weeks than I was previously jaded enough to imagine. We’ve been treated to custom energy bars that you design and order online; an invention that allows you to make any bottle of soda into a float; charcoal-filtered, flatulence-catching underwear (to curb those awful smells); a new sports bra; and BBQ sauce and rub, mini pies, exercise equipment and just all kinds of interesting inventions.

I think the one I found most repugnant was the funeral party planning company. They compete with funeral homes to arrange your final send off. And they do it by taking therapy dogs to dying patients and talking them into this service ahead of time! Talk about preying on the vulnerable! Another goodie was college foxes hauling boxes...a moving company that uses the sexiness of coeds to get business.

The inventors/entrepreneurs bring their wares to show a panel of five multi-millionaire/billionaire investors and attempt to wrangle an investment of cash in exchange for a piece of their company. The five investors are all interesting personalities, each a master money maker in his or her own profession, from real estate, to marketing, to clothing lines and computers. After watching the group of them, I’m not sure I would trust any of them enough to partner with in a business!

Anyone out there watching this show?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the Occasion of Rosh Hashanah (which was yesterday)

I am inspired to write after reading a post on Facebook from my fellow author, Kiki Howell (The Witch’s Beast, Mystic Stones, The Healing Spell and, coming soon, Rituals).

Kiki is married to Steve, a teacher and a fabulous musician. Steve is of the Jewish faith, Kiki is not. But Kiki was home preparing for the High Holy Days, starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur. She describes this time as “commonly known as the Days of Awe - a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year.”

What a terrific concept! We don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about the things we’ve done and the effect those things had, are having, or will have down the road. Certainly ten days is not too many out of 365 to stop and reflect on what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you intend to do. You might find that if you actually think about things, it can change your direction, or temper your future actions, or even spur you to more vigorously follow your original intention.

Since there are only nine days left in the Days of Awe, I suggest you divide it into thirds. Spend some time today, tomorrow and Tuesday thinking about all the things you’ve done or haven’t done in the past year. Did they turn out as expected? Were you happy with your own actions or inaction? Could you have done it better, or smarter, or with more discretion, or with more consideration of others? We all have room for improvement.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday can be used to think about the present. What things are you doing now? Are they things of which you can be proud? Are they things that move you forward in life in a positive way or are you letting negativity get in the way of what you are creating? Are you letting the people you care about know that you care by your words and your actions? Are you sitting there saying “I’m not Jewish, why would I do this?” and letting a prejudice keep you from the benefits such wise introspection time might bring you?

Saturday, Sunday and Monday should be used to think about what you intend for the coming year. A life without goals is not a life; it’s an existence. Everyone should strive for something. There is no sense of accomplishment if there is no goal to meet, no task to conquer. It doesn’t matter what the goal is. Perhaps you want to lose 5 lbs, or 50 or 100; maybe you want to get that GED, learn to play guitar, get a new job, read a book a week, go fishing once a month…the possibilities are endless. If there is something you want to do, set the goal and strive toward it.

A friend asked me what was new, and I told him I had acquired an agent to represent my latest book. His comment was, “You never cease to amaze me. You say you’re going to do something and then you go out and do it. I don’t do that.” My question to him was “Why not?”

And so, I am adopting the “Days of Awe.” Want to join me?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Patrick Swayze and the Plight of the Terminally Ill

A truly amazing actor and human being passed away on Monday. Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. But, you know that already. We all loved the man, we loved the actor, we loved his roles. We loved the way that he carried on his personal life, not leaping from marriage to marriage or woman to woman. He had class and scruples. He was a rarity in the world of movies and television. He fought the good fight for almost two years against a demon that rarely loses.

I was not surprised at the reports that he was flooded with cards, well wishes, and prayers from fans all over the world. I’m certain that support helped fuel the intensity of his fight against the disease. And of course he had the unfailing devotion of his wife and close friends. Unfortunately, this is not case for most people suffering from terminal illnesses.

When someone is first diagnosed with a long-term or terminal illness, we send cards and flowers. We stop to visit. Then we do nothing. We stop sending cards; we don’t go to visit because we don’t know what to say or do. The ill person’s predicament makes us quite uncomfortable. With each passing day they become more isolated from everyone with the exception of immediate family and a few medical professionals, as the rest of the world, namely us, avoids them as though death itself is something contagious.

After our initial attempts, we subconsciously create excuses to avoid contact with that person. Those excuses run the gamut from “I’m too busy” or “I don’t want to impose” to “I’ll stop by next week when I have time.” Inevitably, we never do stop by. Days turn into weeks or months, and that acquaintance eventually passes on. We’re left with mixed feelings of relief (from the stress the act of avoiding caused us) and remorse (because we avoided and now we feel guilt because it’s too late).

How would you feel, if you were the ill person? Think of how much better it would be to leave this world with the love and support of all your friends and acquaintances, like Patrick Swayze did. Granted, the chances of having hundreds of thousands of adoring fans supporting you is pretty small, but it would be really wonderful to know that your friends and acquaintances were not ignoring you during your last and most precious days on earth.

It's something to think about!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Living in the Age of Disrespect?

I’m not quite sure what’s happening these days. It seems the whole world has gone a bit bonkers. I’ve never seen so many people behave in such incredibly rude and unconscionable ways, especially in very public venues. As I said in a previous post, it’s as though “injure first, apologize later” is becoming second nature with many people.

I was taught to never hurt anyone deliberately. I was taught to respect my elders, my teachers, my parents and grandparents. I would never have dreamed of talking back to my parents, and yet, this is a normal thing for children to see these days on TV and video and something they seem to emulate.

Between Joe Wilson screaming “You Lie!” at President Obama, Serena Williams indicating her displeasure at a line judge’s call by offering to place her tennis ball where the sun doesn’t shine, and Kanye West rudely taking away a really special moment for a very talented and very young Taylor Swift, quite frankly, I’m not sure which behavior was the worst.

I would chalk up Serena and Kanye as youthful stupidity, but they’re hardly kids and both of them are old enough to know better. There is absolutely no excuse for Joe Wilson. He’s being paid to represent the people who voted him in, and if any of them have a half a brain, they’ll vote his butt out of office at the next election.

The only one of these three who seemed to actually be contrite and offer a sincere and believable apology was Kanye West. I watched him struggle with his guilt while talking with Jay Leno. If he wasn’t really sincere, then he deserves an Oscar.

In all of this, I have to say that Taylor Swift had incredible poise for someone so young. She impressed me, as did BeyoncĂ©, who brought Taylor back on stage so she could give her acceptance speech without interruption…two very classy ladies!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bipartisanship Reigns Supreme!

Thank you Congressman Joe Wilson! You managed to do what no one has done in a long time. You managed to get the Democrats and the Republicans to agree on something…that your behavior was unconscionable! Now, how about if those agreeable Dems and Reps find some more common ground and work together to get the country out of the mess we’re in?

Obama's Healthcare Reform Speech...

I waffled somewhat before I decided to post yet another opinion in the sphere of politics. Ironically, I was sitting on the edge of my mother’s hospital bed, still waiting for some staff physician to do his job so we could leave. I was pretty much on the verge of meltdown, having been there since 2 p.m. and yet, there we were, watching Obama’s speech on a mini hospital TV on a boom arm. A full 7½ hours from the time I arrived until the time we finally left, but that’s another post altogether!

The speech. Actually, I liked it. I think Obama has a presence, a charisma, and an intellectual level that’s been missing from the White House for the past eight years. He made valid, intelligent points. I hope he can garner some cooperation from the right, because I think trying something is better than living another 20 years with what’s failing. I also love that he always seems to take the high road, rather than sink to the level of the heckler.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really couldn’t stand George Bush. I thought he was a horrible representative for our country. He was nothing like his father, lacked both dignity and education, and couldn’t pronounce common English words. I’ve never heard any president murder the language quite like he did. But, and this is a big but, if Bush had entered a room and I was there, I would have given him the respect that the office commands. It doesn’t matter whether you like him or not. If he’s the President of the United States, he deserves respect.

When that foreign journalist flung his shoes at Bush, I was mortified. But I was even more mortified that a member of the United States Congress would heckle the President during his speech by calling him a liar. Not only was his behavior in amazingly poor taste, it was behavior that is forbidden by the Congress! We sit around and wonder why our children are so incredibly disrespectful and yet this is the example we give them?

That one anger-impaired representative did more damage to any children that viewed the healthcare speech than anything the education speech could possibly have done. Where is the outrage of parents who should be calling that representative to task for his unconscionable behavior? Okay, he apologized later…easy to do after the damage has already been done. Congress should order him to anger management therapy.

Sad to say, the news is full of “injure first, apologize later” scenarios, even, it seems, in the halls of our government.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Obama Speech and other School Controversy...

Okay guys and gals, let’s take off our hysteria garments and talk about the evil plot of President Obama to influence the children of the United States and use them to push his evil agenda in front of their parents!

God knows, having a President actually speak to the kids about “the importance of staying in school and doing their homework and making everyone proud” is the most insidious of left wing plots! Never been done before…oh wait, unless you count President Ronald Regan doing it or President George HW Bush doing it. But in those cases, there was no agenda, no evil plot. After all, Regan and Bush simply gave speeches that talked to kids about “the importance of staying in school and doing their homework and making everyone proud.” Didn’t I just hear that somewhere else???

The extreme right has no shame whatsoever. It will say anything and do anything to instill fear in the minds of the public to further its own political intentions.

The people who spew this fear-mongering crap at the public should be flogged. And those who suck it in and believe it…well, that’s what Darwin Awards are all about…those who are so incredibly moronic as to make us wish they could never procreate. I saw one hysterical mother crying and screaming at a newsperson “How could the school do this to my child?” You would think the school locked her kid in a room with a convicted child molester.

People this idiotic form the largest herd of sheep the U.S.A. has ever known. These are the ones who believe because some right-wing bigot with a radio show told them to believe. And the number of mindless wool producers in that herd is numerous enough to provide a nice warm sweater to every person on the planet!

Locally, some 8 year old took a BB gun to school. He pulled it out and pointed it at two other 8 year olds. They went and told the principal. The offending child was suspended from school and the BB gun was taken away. But the school failed to immediately inform the parents of the two 8 year olds that were “terrorized” by a fellow 8 year old.

Both parents were on the news berating the school officials for their lack of action. The one woman was actually saying, “This is the worst possible thing a school could do,” with tears in her eyes. Now, the BB gun was never fired. The two kids did not seem at all upset when interviewed, much less “terrorized.” The offender was punished. I’m not saying that this could not have turned into a serious situation, but the evil school, neglected to immediately inform the parents that their child was...fine. Let’s make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Novel Experiment, Part III

This is the last novel excerpt I will be posting for a while. I beg your indulgence as I drag these unfinished novels out of moth balls and into the light of day.
Eventually, I have to pick one of these to be the first on my list to finish. So, once again...send on your comments! Thanks!

Genevieve had the advantage of advanced age, or the disadvantage, depending on your point of view. A common woman, she lived simply and considered her life happy and content and somewhat unremarkable. Early in the evening on the day I moved into the house next door, she welcomed me to the neighborhood and invited me over for tea. Exhausted from hauling load after load from the rental truck, I gratefully accepted. Glancing around in amazement, I followed her through the ‘stacks’ to her kitchen. "Oh no, another loony old woman who can’t part with her trash." I thought as I took mental stock of the sheer poundage of paper that had taken up residence.

She opened a cabinet to reveal boxes and boxes of tea. "What kind do you prefer?" she asked. "I’m a bit of a tea connoisseur, so I have many varieties; some are quite different than what you normally get at the grocery store."

I quickly scanned the shelves. "Ginger-Peach sounds particularly appealing at the moment, thank you."

Genevieve took a pair of large mugs from the cupboard and set the water to boil. "I know what you must be thinking. But don’t worry, I’m not offended,” she said and looked at me with wizened eyes. “Piles of newspapers and magazines are far cleaner and much less work than having a house full of cats. I don’t have to worry about flea infestation, and no smelly cans of cat food or stinky, overflowing litter boxes are required." She laughed, poured the steaming water into the mugs and carried them to the table. "Please sit down and enjoy your tea. I’ve been watching, and you haven’t stopped to rest all day. You must be close to collapsing."

"I don’t know if I would go quite that far, but I am getting tired. Thanks for noticing, and thank you for the tea. It’s a real treat." I took a sip of the aromatic blend. "It’s ironic that you have my favorite flavor of tea at hand…and such a lovely coincidence."

"The irony, my dear," she replied, "is there is no such thing as a coincidence."

"What do you mean?"

She sat silent for a moment as an all-knowing smile crept across her face. "I’m sure this is going to sound a bit odd, but I believe that everything that happens to you in life, happens for a reason. When you achieve, when you fail, who you meet, who you don’t, in good times or in bad, each thing happens to teach you a critical lesson either at that exact moment or in retrospect. But I think the most important thing I can tell you is to choose your words and actions with the utmost care. Everything you do, everything you say, has an effect on those around you and on the direction of the universe."

"That seems a bit mind boggling. Are you telling me that if I walk into Starbucks and order a steamer, I might change the direction of the universe?"

"Have you ever stood at the edge of a placid lake? So large, so still, it seems like a huge mirror, reflecting the image of the sky. But you choose to disturb the serenity of that scene by picking up a pebble and tossing it into the water. It’s just a tiny pebble and not of much importance when compared with the whole lake and, strictly speaking, it sinks immediately to the bottom. It’s not a very exciting end for the pebble. But the lake, the whole huge lake, is affected. The pebble creates only a small ripple, but the ripple moves outward getting ever larger as it goes. It affects everything in its path long after the pebble that caused it is lying inert at the bottom of the lake. We are all like that…pebbles in a huge universe. We don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, but each little thing we do or say creates ripples that affect everyone they touch."

"But you can’t really mean I have to watch ‘every’ word I say."

"I suggest you think about every word before it leaves your lips, and about every action you take before you take it." She walked over to the counter and retrieved some gingersnaps to dunk in the tea.

"That seems like a horribly daunting task. Isn’t life hard enough?" I asked.

"It gets easier with time. I’ve been researching this for many years. You don’t really think I’m just another dottering old woman who collects newspapers, do you? Those stacks represent facts, and facts attest to things that have happened. Given sufficient information, you can correlate some small thing you did with an effect on someone or something down the road. Even if you think of yourself as living a quiet and mundane existence, you would be surprised how much effect you have had on the world, including an effect on people you’ve never met.”

Genevieve lifted the mug to her lips and took a slow swallow, one that seemed designed to allow her sufficient time to gather her thoughts before continuing.

“The other thing I should tell you is that you should watch for the savants that enter your life and heed what they try to teach you."

"I know many people I could describe as idiot-savants, but I have never heard of savant used as a singular term. What, exactly, is the difference?"

"Much in the way of guardian angels, savants appear in your life when you most need them. A savant is a sage, a teacher…someone who illuminates your life and your mind. He or she could be a seemingly unremarkable person who helps you to set or change the course of your life by performing one small act or imparting one bit of wisdom that makes an indelible, life-altering impression. I know these concepts must be foreign to you, but if you give them some thought, you may find that I’m right."

"Your theories certainly are intriguing," I said between bites of gingersnaps and sips of tea. "I will definitely give them some thought."

"It is quite simple to find the evidence if you just take the time to look. We all lead busy lives, especially a young person like you. But I bet if you think about it just a little bit, you will find the evidence of my theories in your own life. It can’t hurt to look, now can it?"

We exchanged more pleasantries, and I steered the conversation toward the neighborhood and the surrounding area. Then, with as much haste as I could muster while not appearing rude, I made my excuses…particularly having to put my bed together to avoid sleeping on the floor that night…and I took my leave of Genevieve.

I thought about everything we talked about as I finished assembling my bed frame. I was torn: was she a charming old lunatic or an eccentric genius? I had to admit that much of what she said struck a chord of truth. Then again, there were those mountains of old newspapers…On the other hand, she seemed to know that keeping them made her look like a head case. Her awareness was a good thing, and a point in her favor, as I debated the pros and cons of it all.

Finally, determined not to think about Genevieve and her theories any more, I dropped my weary body onto the freshly made bed and fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Novel Experiment Continues - Number 2

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their comments on the first novel excerpt that I posted. I found all of your comments and suggestions helpful. So I decided to post an excerpt from another novel that I have sitting on a back burner, waiting for my time and attention. If you have the time and the inclination to read this, the preface to "The Disappearance of Jack" I would be most appreciative. All comments welcome!

The Disappearance of Jack

It was a truly amazing thing, a world unto itself, and yet, a world unto all. It was a place where one could seek information relentlessly and anonymously. It was a place where billions of bits of ideas, lies, truths and facts converged in a maelstrom of information, only to be categorized, classified, compartmentalized, sorted out and put to rest in countless databases.

Sarah found it endlessly fascinating. Sometimes she would start with a simple search and end up spending hours jumping from one intriguing site to the next. If not for work, laundry, meals, sleep and the other mundane duties of life, she would be forever glued to her flat-screen monitor happily clicking away.

What was the harm in that? It was not as though perusing the universe in such a way was intrinsically wrong. In doing so, she had learned an enormous amount about the world and about life, both good and bad. Sadly, she had also learned that she was observing life, not living it. She was one of the silent ones who watch the events of the world unfold around them without ever making a peep. Sarah was certainly not one to put herself, or her ideas, forward for comment, and her rather awkward shyness contributed to her absolute lack of a social life. It seemed the only way to have a life, while not giving up her beloved on-line time was to use the same venue as a conduit, a pipe-line for meeting new people, communicating, exchanging ideas and information, making new friends.

That is just what Sarah intended to do. In the previous month, she had posted three on-line profiles at various sites to meet other adults, and she had installed two messaging programs. An amazing number of replies to her profiles had found their way to her e-mail account, and she was rapidly learning how to use the messaging programs to find others also seeking communication.

It was not that she didn't have a life outside the ether, you understand.
She worked a full-time job and talked with people all day long. A social life was something all together different, and the Internet was just a way of expanding her universe to include many things that would otherwise be, not only impossible, or unimaginable, but perhaps even unthinkable. Yet she could remain at a very safe distance behind a veil of anonymity, sequestered in the haven that was her home.

But that veil was thinner and much more translucent than Sarah could possibly fathom. She had no inkling just how expansive, how unthinkable, how unimaginable, and how very close to home her new universe could be.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Novel Experiment

This is part of the first chapter of a possible novel. I'm not sure if I should pursue the story. I'm welcoming all comments! Thanks!

Once Dead, Twice Shy

If someone tells you that death is the be all and end all, that when you’re dead, you’re dead…don’t believe a word of it because it just isn’t true. I’ve been dead, and I can tell you from personal, first-hand experience that all kind of activity was going on over on the other side. For one thing, the place was full of dead people. Dead kids were romping and playing like there was no tomorrow. Dead adults were milling around, talking, laughing and enjoying their “retirement”.

It was, quite simply, overwhelming. When I found myself there, I was instantly surrounded by crowds, everyone checking out the “newbie” to see if I was someone they needed to welcome. I was miraculously calm; not my normal self at all.

I searched the crowd for what seemed a good five minutes, and much to my delight, my grandmother emerged from the throng, a huge smile on her face. She gave me a bear hug…the kind she always doled out when she came to visit us long ago.

“Grandma!” I said and I started to cry.

“Good Lord, you haven’t changed a bit, Deenie…still weeping at the drop of a hat! You’re certainly not ready to be here, so stop your sniveling and go back where you came from!”


She pushed me backward until I tripped over my own feet. So much for a warm and welcoming reception!
As I struggled to regain my footing, someone tapped me on the back. I whirled around to find my 8th grade English teacher?

“Mrs. Handeyville?” I asked, my voice dripping with incredulity.

“Deena dear,” she said and handed me a term paper with a big red “F” scrawled across the top. “That was a very nice try, but you’re just not working up to your potential. Now you go back home and do it right this time.”

She turned and walked back into the crowd; I stood there with my mouth hanging open, the F-laden term paper dangling from my hand.

The next and most unlikely surprise was Mac. From the time I was started kindergarten until we moved out of the city right after third grade, Mac was the beat cop with the kindly face that manned the crosswalk as I walked to school. I hadn’t seen him or thought of him in more than 30 years. Although he only looked vaguely familiar to me, I knew who he was the moment he firmly grabbed me by the arm.

“Go that way, Deena” he said, pointing me away from the light. “You’re not finished there and lives depend on you.”

“Lives depend on me? What do you mean ‘Lives depend on me’? What are you talking about?”

A little more information would have been helpful, but all he did was give me a hard shove back into the darkness.

Suddenly I was gasping for air.

I opened my eyes. Everything was white. I reached out and found a sheet over my face. As I pulled it away, the sterile hospital-room environment came swirling into view. What the hell happened? And what was I doing here?

Gingerly, I felt my arms, head and upper torso. Convinced I was still intact, I pushed myself into a sitting position. Were my legs working? Yes, I could feel the sheet on my toes. I swung my legs over the edge of the table before I realized I was buck-naked. Then my eyes and stomach began to swim and I lowered my head between my knees and took slow, deep breaths, hoping to regain my faculties. After a few very long minutes, I inched my way up until I was sitting normally again. Where were my clothes? I slid off the edge of the table and touched my feet to the floor, tentatively, wrapping myself in the sheet as I tested my ability to stand.

I walked forward a few halting steps, using the cold tile wall as my crutch. When I turned around, I saw a telltale, blue plastic hospital bag under the table.

“Thank God!” I said, aloud.

I opened the bag and extracted the remains of my clothing. My running shoes and jeans were intact, but my brand new L. L. Bean T-shirt, my favorite Victoria Secret bra and the matching panties were cut to ribbons.

“Damn! I only wore that shirt once. And my undies! Don’t these people believe in unfastening?”

I slipped into the jeans, sans the underpinnings. It was my first, and hopefully last, experience with rough seams rubbing and chafing in places unmentionable. I was over 40; it was hardly the time to start going panty-less, and although I wasn’t sagging as much as most of the over 40 crowd, going bra-less was not very appealing either.

With the sheet draped over my form like some kind of oddly huge sarong, I made my way to the wall of storage bins and cupboards. I flung open all the doors and drawers until I came across a stash of clean hospital gowns. After fastening all the appropriate arm snaps, I put one of the cursed things on backward, rolled it up above my waist and tied it under my unfettered bosoms, sort of a large hospital-gown dam, keeping the twins at bay. Dumping the remaining contents of the plastic bag on the table, I retrieved my cell phone, my purse (which amazingly appeared to be untouched) and my car keys. Then I slipped into my shoes and bravely stepped forth into the hallway.

“Excuse me,” I said to the only other human I could see…a nurse with her nose in some charts. “Could you tell me where I am?”

She didn’t even look up. “Metro.”

I guess I hadn’t yet made an impression.

“Would you mind telling me what happened, how I got here and who cut up my L.L. Bean T-shirt and my Victoria Secret undies?”

She looked up. The sarcastic retort she intended was choked off by a blood curdling scream. Then she hit some kind of button that set off a security siren.

Policemen and security guards came running, guns drawn. They found the nurse cowering in a corner and me, clad in jeans and my makeshift bustier, purse slung over my shoulder, leaning on the chest-high counter at the nurse’s station.

“She’s dead, she’s dead!” screamed the quivering mass of supposed medical knowledge.

“What’s going on here?” one policeman demanded.

“That’s exactly what I was asking. Then she started screaming and pushing buttons,” I said.

“You must have done something,” he said.

“Well I did. I woke up naked and covered with a sheet in a room down the hall. I found my shoes and jeans and what was left of my brand new L.L. Bean T-shirt and my gorgeous matching Victoria Secret bra and panties in a plastic hospital bag under the table. I got dressed as best I could and came out here to ask what happened, how I got here and especially who cut up my clothes. She took one look at me and went ballistic. I think the guys in white coats need to come take her to a safe place.”

“She’s dead, she’s dead!” the nurse continued to scream.

“Give it a break, lady,” I said. “You’re not the one who just woke up naked and covered from head to toe like a cadaver.”

Drawn guns followed me as I walked to the other side of the hall and sat down in a chair.

“I’m not leaving until someone tells me how I got here and who destroyed my clothing.”

The rest of the day will live in infamy, at least in my mind. I was detained for hours as the hospital administrator grilled me. I was re-examined at considerable length by the doctor who had declared me dead only hours before, as well as by his superiors and multiple other colleagues.

Upwards of 95% of the medical staff wandered in and out of the room gawking at the ‘miracle woman’ who had awakened from the dead. I was poked and prodded, quite literally, up one end and down the other. Finally, I was told that I was brought in by ambulance after suffering a severe allergic reaction…to crab cakes.

After about 8 hours of insanity, they put their collective medical degrees to work and came up with two conclusions that no lay person could ever possibly have figured out:

1) I was most definitely not dead and
2) I should avoid eating crab cakes…duh.

I never did find out the name of the culprit that slashed my clothing…and no offer of reimbursement was forthcoming. I wondered if I could claim the pricey undies on my insurance.

Eventually, I was released on my own recognizance. In other words, I refused to stay any longer. They had no legal right to keep me there. As I climbed into the cab that would take me back to the restaurant where the fatal crab-cake incident had occurred, I saw the screaming nurse, strapped to a gurney, being loaded into an ambulance marked Haverford Sanitorium. How fitting, I thought…and smiled.