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I’m a slow writer. I wanted to write better. I wanted to write faster. So, the year I turned 50, I wrote 50 essays in 50 weeks. (Gave me two weeks off.) TO READ THEM ALL, FOLLOW ME ON MEDIUM. I posted some of them here.

I Offer You Love, Light, and Blatherskite During this Trying Time (in The Haven)

Thank you for joining me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Clubhouse, Zoom, Google Meet, Facetime, Reddit, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok, my podcast, my vlog, and in the cosmos for Love, Light, and Blatherskite. Clever, right? Did you hear the rhyme?

I am not a yoga teacher, but I’ve taken an Intensive, Light, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Ayurveda, Pacifist, Warrior class before and I know how to speak with a feathery voice in that awkward and un-bossy way where every sentence starts with a gerund.

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No. 50: Year in Review

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A year ago, I turned 50. A few days before that, I saw a quote on Twitter attributed to Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451. He said, “Write a short story every week for a year. It’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row.”

I didn’t see myself as someone who gave herself added challenges, but without thinking much about it, I wrote essay №1 about turning 50 and challenging myself to 50 essays in a year. A year went by and here it is, essay №50.

Writing 50 essays taught me some things. I learned I actually am someone who gives herself challenges. When I was in my mom’s pool with my son, Sebastian, he challenged me to swim the entire length without breathing. I did it, then challenged myself to swim up and back. Around Mother’s Day, I was hired by The National Council of Jewish Women to write and tell the story of the woman who founded the organization 125 years ago. My mom said, “If you’re impersonating Hannah G. Solomon, you know your story.” So, I challenged myself to tell the story without reading it. And sometime, midyear, I remembered that since I was a kid, I’d challenged myself to run a marathon when I turned 50. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE.)

No. 48: There Are No Permanent Conditions

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|Luck|

My mom has cancer now. I say “now” because six months ago my brother had cancer. He was lucky. He had thyroid cancer, which everyone says is the good cancer. They cut out his thyroid and some lymph nodes. Then three days of solitary confinement after swallowing radioactive iodine and he was cured.

Friday was my mom’s first round of chemo. My brother showed up at 8 a.m. with a piece of his blue blanket, for luck. Later, she showed me the threads and I recognized it right away — the blanket he slept with as a kid.

When I got to the chemo center, my mom still had hours to go, so we sat. Elizabeth, the chemo nurse, checked her needle. She changed my mom’s IV bag three times. She looked over at me and remarked on how much I look like my brother. To my mom, she said, “You’re lucky. You’re lucky to have your children here.”

My mom said, “I’m one of the luckiest people in the world.” She pointed to the chemo line. “This, though, is a different kind of luck. This is bad luck.” (READ FULL ESSAY HERE.)

No. 47: 125 Years Ago I Found a Women’s Organization

old time andrea

I was invited by the National Council of Jewish Women to speak at their annual meeting as Hannah G. Solomon, the woman who founded this progressive organization 125 years ago. I learned about Hannah’s life and struggles and this is how I told her story:


Thank you for inviting me here. It’s been so long. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to talk about what went into founding the National Council of Jewish Women. And to share with you a little bit about what I’ve learned with 125 years of hindsight.

My name is Hannah G. Solomon. You can call me Hannah G.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago, this thought occurred to me: Jewish women, all women, need to come together to discuss civic matters and we need to act to make this a better world.

Thank you for taking the time today. Just by being here, you’re already doing a small part in making this a better world.

Imagine, it’s 1893. The home is a woman’s domain. I agree it is. As I’ve always said, “A woman’s sphere is the whole wide world.”

This has also been said more recently.

Imagine it’s 1970. A feisty, Jewish woman is running for congress. Her name is Bella Abzug. She says, “A woman’s place is in the House. And the Senate.”

My thoughts entirely. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE.)

No. 46: What Happened to My Principles?

15591553566682618424386106285432I think I have principles and then I sell out under the slightest provocation.

I want to live car-free and did for six months when I was 28 and living in Los Angeles. When I tell people this, they’re impressed because it meant biking great distances to get anywhere. Truth was, I was jobless at the time and had nowhere to go. As soon as I got a job and needed to take the 10 downtown but instead spent a few hours biking Venice Boulevard, I bought a used Honda Accord.

Now I want to get my kids on bikes, even if just for fun. We hardly ever ride though, because when drivers in Miami see a woman towing kids in a bike trailer with safety flags, they speed up to pass as fast as possible. Now my kids are 10 and 15 and still, their new bikes sit in the garage barely used.

I want my kids to care about the environment, but I’ve shown them no outdoor appreciation. I wanted to pitch tents in the Everglades, but my Venezuelan wife had an American dream to take the kids in an RV. Once we did a road trip around South Florida. We parked in a few campgrounds with a smattering of trees and slept in our rented, air-conditioned RV.

Read the Full Essay Here

No. 45: Has-been

15568059036395683356620073790618Several months ago, I started training for a marathon. I gave myself 13 weeks to train. I knew I was cutting it close, but I was a runner in high school. Sure, that was more than 30 years ago. Whatever. I thought I’d have no problem.

I trained with my friend Aaron, and even though he’s a few years younger than I am, I got a crick in my neck talking to him because he was always a few paces behind. That’s always how it was. I was the fastest on my cross-country team. I was the head of the pack.

But then six weeks into training, I tore my calf muscle. On marathon day, I stood on the sidelines while I cheered Aaron on.

Months passed and I healed.

Last week, I ran with my friend Margery. She’s 11 years older than I am and I was looking forward to a light jog and conversation. Before she fired the starting gun, she said she wouldn’t be able to talk and I was like, “Cool, I’ll get to talk the whole time.”

For the entire 40 minutes, the only words I could say were, “Slow down.” (READ FULL ESSAY HERE.)

No. 44: Gaslighting is the New How Are You

15591554988497422955649520587225I was gaslighted by my neighbor. She hasn’t always been the most pleasant neighbor. In the nine years we’ve lived next-door, she’s called Coral Gables Code Enforcement on us three times. The first time, I put a Huggies box on the garbage pile too early. We had just moved in and I didn’t know trash could only appear on your trash pile after 5 p.m. on Mondays. After paying the $500 fine, I ran over and asked her to please talk to us before ratting us out. But she called again when she spotted a broken shingle on our roof, and then again when I put a political yard sign too close to the street.

I thought she was friends with Code Enforcement, but the last time the officer came out, he gave us a warning and seemed as annoyed with her complaints as I was.

The good news is, my neighbor has moved. Her house is now for sale and last week there was an open house. My wife, Vicky, and I wandered in because we wanted to see the inside. We told the realtor we lived next-door. “Just looking.”

And then, seconds later, in the narrow hall between the kitchen and the garage we stood face-to-face with our neighbor. It was a scene out of the movie Heathers. My neighbor glared at us. When I looked at her concerned, she smiled a smile so fake I almost laughed. Then she went back to glaring. I said I wanted to see the upstairs and she said, “I’d rather you not.” (READ FULL ESSAY HERE.)

No. 43: Anyone Want to See My Colon?

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At 50, doctors recommend getting a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer. To prepare for mine, I watched Katie Couric have hers on TODAY. She started at her kitchen table, 18 hours before go time, with a big jug of cherry flavored Nulytely (also known as Golytely), the drink guaranteed to flush out the colon. Nulytely tasted terrible, apparently. She sucked on a lime then downed glass after glass at fifteen-minute intervals. I’d heard that drinking that stuff was the hardest part.

Katie aired her colonoscopy in 2000, but I just learned about it in 2019, days before mine. When my mom told me, I was like, “Damn, I was scooped.” (READ FULL ESSAY HERE.)

No. 41: Why Did the Republicans Get the Flag and Jesus?

15566264431822883183341111322482I’m a progressive, lesbian, Jewish, American, Democrat. I don’t like ascribing to stereotypes, but I look the part. I wear jeans and T-shirts. I live in Miami, so most days I wear flip-flops. I have curly, graying hair and black-rimmed glasses. I think most people who know me, or know of me, can guess my political persuasion.

Last week, I did an experiment: I wore a flag baseball cap for a day. First thing in the morning, I came out of the closet wearing the hat. My wife, a more centrist, lesbian, Catholic Venezuelan-American, Democrat was in bed drinking coffee, reading The New York Times. It took her several minutes to notice, but when she did, she cracked up like I was wearing a clown wig. READ FULL ESSAY HERE…

No. 40: I Want to Love My Country

15566263536968642519480250530459A few years ago, the power went out in South Miami. My son went to the Bilingual Coop Preschool and I was there volunteering with a few other moms. We opened the doors and let the kids run around the playground. One of the moms, Maria Alejandra, a Venezuelan who had just moved to Miami, called Florida Power and Light, typed in our zip code on her phone keypad, and listened to their outgoing message. She announced to the group that power would be restored in 22 minutes. Then Maria Alejandra did a little jig and sang America the Beautiful. READ FULL ESSAY HERE…

No. 39: How to Let Go of Feelings of Failure and Achieve Success

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I got an email newsletter from a writer friend Annwho you’ve probably never heard of because she’s a solo-show performer. She’s one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. She had a show produced Off-Broadway by Ann Bancroft, but then Ann Bancroft died during production and that got in the way of my Ann’s success.

Ann’s newsletter was titled, “Letting Go.” That drew me in because I thought someone had died. But no, she meant letting go of her idea of success. She was performing her show in a local church, so she wrote, “I finally let go of that part of me that defined my success on the legitimacy of the venue, the amount of $$$ I was making, and WHO might be in the audience. And in letting go, I stepped onto the stage/altar, and I gave the best show of my life.”

I read that and was like, “Letting go, my ass.” I love Ann and know her to be true to her word, so I realize that’s just me right there being jealous, not of Ann’s success, but of her ability to let go of the idea of success. READ FULL ESSAY HERE

No. 38: The #PeriodEmoji Is A Bloody Shame

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 9.55.12 AMJust revealed and coming to keypads everywhere this March…the period emoji. It’s an adorable red teardrop and if you put the finger emoji in front of it, someone might think you’re going to the doctor to get your finger pricked. If you use it alone, you might be saying you’re excited to change your nail polish. Nothing about the period emoji says “period.”

Aren’t emojis used to express emotion? That’s the emo part of the word emoji, no? If this emoji is meant to express some emotion about a woman’s period, it fails. I showed my 15-year-old daughter and her friend. One said, “What does that have to do with my period?” The other put her hand to her forehead, just like the “I can’t” emoji. Then we brainstormed some better ideas like a woman in bloody pajamas holding a heating pad to her belly or a woman surrounded by pizza and donuts. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 37: Complaints Department

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I like people who complain. Or more accurately, I don’t like people who never complain. There are those moms at my kids’ schools who are always so upbeat. I can’t relate. And then there’s my friend Ellen who is quick to tell me what a dick her husband was last night then go off about the new online homework system. How refreshing.

I understand the precept, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I just have trouble with it. Those people who never say an unkind word are always praised at their funerals. They’re saints. I don’t like people portrayed as saints. They lie. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 36: Front Row Center

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 9.48.13 AMI took my 15-year-old daughter, Tashi, to see Hamilton. Our seats were in row W, which was W rows back. They weren’t bad seats, but they were all the way on the side, and for $350, I wanted the best. Before the show started, I walked to the front and spotted two seats in row G, right in the middle — the only two open seats in the entire theater, as far as I could see. / Tashi and I had tried for better seats before, in a movie theater. We bought shitty seats in the first row because that’s all that was available online, but when we got to the theater, there were only a few people there. We sat in the middle and ate our popcorn. A few minutes later, the seat owners showed up so we moved back a row, which was entirely empty. Then just as the trailers were ending, a huge group came in and filled up our whole row. Tashi and I laughed. We looked around and by this time, the only seats open were our two in the front. / At Hamilton, Tashi shot up and we went for it. We rushed past two ushers who asked if we needed help. I said, “No thanks, we know where our seats are.” Our butts hit the chairs and the lights went down. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 34: Jews Love Hamilton

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 5.25.46 PMI don’t know where I’ve been for the last four years since Hamilton became a theatrical sensation, but until I saw it two weeks ago, I didn’t know the cast was made up of people of color. I knew it was the story of Alexander Hamilton. I knew there were some rap songs. And I knew it was crazy expensive. I also knew it was supposed to be a great show.

My brother’s family had all seen it and my nieces sang the songs whenever we got together. My sister-in-law saw the show four times. She said it was up there with Wicked, which is my all-time favorite musical. My family loves musicals. My immediate family can’t sing for shit, but my brother and I grew up singing show tunes. We know all the words to The King and ICats,OklahomaLes MisérablesHair.

Hamilton became popular in my daughter’s circle, so for her 15th birthday, I plunked down $350 a ticket and took her. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 33: Running Out of Time

tennisI wanted to be a professional tennis player. Most kids I competed against started at four or five. They stood at the service line while their dads tossed balls from a grocery store cart. At 10, I got a late start. By 13, I had my eye on Wimbledon and knew that to get there I’d have to train hard. I played every day after school. I hit 300 forehands and 300 backhands against a wall. I jumped rope. I got pretty good, but never made it to Wimbledon.

Fifteen years ago, I got serious about writing. At 35, I got a late start. But now at 50, I have my eye on becoming a great writer like Anne Lamott, who’s written seven novels and 11 works of nonfiction. I approach writing the way I approached tennis. I read, take classes, write and rewrite, and submit to publications. I practice every day. I know that to get great at this, I need years and years of training. But what if I don’t have years left to train? My body is way past its prime. What if my brain is too? (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 32: Quit?

spiralingI’m over this weekly essay challenge. I started this challenge when I turned 50. My goal is (was?) to write 50 essays in 52 weeks. Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, said, “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row.” I came across this quote on Twitter the week leading up to my birthday and I fell for it. I wanted to become a better, faster writer. I thought busting out an essay a week would do it. And I hoped the essays would gain some attention and expand my audience.

Also, I needed another project. I’d been working on a book currently titled No One Knows I’m Famous about my need for attention. It’s about everyone’s need to be seen and loved. I use myself as the subject, since I am the subject I know best.

I started writing the book when I met my wife more than 11 years ago. The book is a collection of essays chronicling married life, so I had to live through the experiences before I wrote about them, which is to say, I didn’t write and finish the whole book 11 years ago. Some of the stories were written three years ago. Maybe four. And since then I’ve been trying to get the book published. I’ve been trying and failing for a very long time. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 31: Brain at Work

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I’m up early-ish, 9:15. Kids are on winter vacation so no alarms. I’m re-working a story about how, at 50, my brain is going to shit; how I can’t focus and can’t remember things the way I used to. An editor at an online magazine asked for a re-write. She wants me to explore why losing my mind scares me.

Hello, because it’s my mind! But I see her point. A story needs more.

Iwrite about how in my 30s I directed a nonprofit organization and balanced our books in my head. I didn’t need to keep a calendar. I remembered every date and activity.

Last month, I missed two orthodontist appointments. I had them written in my calendar, I just forgot to look. When the receptionist called, I had no excuse.

I need to eat. Sebastian is all over me in the kitchen. He wants a mango smoothie. I say I’ll make the smoothie if he’ll get off the computer and watch a movie in Spanish. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 30: Postal

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 6.26.10 PM“The places change, the numbers change, but the choice of weapon remains the same. In the United States, people who want to kill a lot of other people most often do it with guns.” –The Washington Post, November 9, 2018.

I went postal at a kids’ birthday party. Fortunately, I didn’t have a gun. That wasn’t the case in the 316 mass shootings the U.S. suffered in 2018.

Three kids celebrated their tenth birthday, so all the 4th grade boys were invited. The party was held at All Star Sports, which is where my son, Sebastian, celebrated his party last year. The place has bounce houses, ping-pong, and a blow-up wall made out of Velcro. The kids put on a Velcro suit, jump onto the wall, and stick in some crazy position. This is my kind of fun.

I chatted with one of the host moms about an exchange program she’s organizing with our kids’ basketball league, which is mostly Jewish, and a league that’s mostly black. I chatted with the father of one of the birthday boys about the beauty of vaginas versus the ugliness of penises. That’s where our conversations go. I love these parents.

Then the party moved into another room. When Sebastian had his party there, this room was a mini soccer field. Now, it was filled with blow up boulders, sewage tunnels, cargo boxes, and a camouflage tank. There on a table, was a pile of toy guns that looked like AK 47s. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

No. 28: My Achilles Heel

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I started training for the Miami marathon because I’m a midlife crisis cliché. I ran cross-country in high school. The most I’d ever run was 10 miles, but I told myself since I was a kid that at 50, I’d run a marathon. I’m 50.

I did three miles, three times a week. Then four miles with cross-training — an hour of biking — on the off days. I added six miles and the next week, eight. Then nine. Then twelve.

Training was actually kind of fun. Not fun like when you laugh hard with a friend, but satisfying. After six miles, I got that endorphins high they talk about. Even a four-mile run in the morning relaxed me for the rest of the day. When my son came into my office last week and left his shoes and socks on the floor, instead of yelling across the house, I just picked them up. Later, I found both my kids on our new yellow couch surrounded by sticky granola wrappers. I said, “Sweeties, could you throw away your trash?” Running is a powerful drug — an antidepressant — and I was addicted.

Two weeks into training, my running partner, Aaron, sent me a nutrition guide for endurance athletes. When I piled my Thanksgiving plate two feet high, I told everyone at the table I was an endurance athlete. It felt good to be more than just a 50-year-old cliché.

It also felt good to eat like a hog. (READ FULL ESSAY HERE…)

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