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A Swim with My Dad

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He died on this day October 5, 2014. Not in the way he or anyone would want to: suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, alone, in the middle of the night, in a nursing home. Spare me such a fate. I wrote the piece below a while back when I was thinking of him and wished he could have died another way. And I posted this brighter piece on his birthday last year. Here’s to you, Bob Klein . ...

Is No News Good News?

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It’s been two weeks since Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. That day, September 18, was a turning point for me. I was so fond of RBG. She represented my moral compass. She represented everything I wanted our country to embrace. I was crushed. Grieving. Near a state of panic. I had to turn off the news after I heard of her death. I blocked notifications from the New York Times. I stayed away from all the...

Can a Hand-Written Note Make a Difference?

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Living in the cerulean state of New York, I’m looking for ways to contribute to the upcoming election. Other than voting. I signed up with an organization to hand-write 400 postcards to registered Democratic voters in swing states, encouraging them to vote on Nov. 3. I was assigned Texas—The Lone Star State—and sent a supply of postcards. I was also provided with what reads like a data-driven and...

A FAREWELL TO ARMS: Ernest Hemingway

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I first read A FAREWELL TO ARMS many years ago when I was going through what the narrator, Frederic Henry, is going through in the novel: not the part about the war on the Italian front, but the experience of great love. This personal experience of love surely colored my impressions of the novel, yet its standing as one of the Most Important Novels in My Life remains assured. If you can...

Ruth, You Were A Rock Star

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I’m crushed over Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death. Not just mourning for her and the incredible work she’s done for all Americans and for women especially as an attorney and then a Supreme Court justice. But I’m also consumed with anxiety because of the Supreme Court vacancy her death creates just a few weeks before the election, with two-faced, lying, duplicitous republican senators saying they will...

It Takes a Thief

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At an angle across the road from my home is a two-family rental house and a freestanding workshop owned by a local homebuilding company. The view from my window is not an eyesore but neither is the property a delight. The building company uses the shop to fabricate custom work and to store materials. The rear of the shop faces a waterline buried under a packed dirt walking path. Between the path...

The Delight of Youth

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Somehow, this is a photo of me, and not of my son.

It wasn’t taken when I was eight years old but just the other day using one of those crazy filters on Snapchat.

That’s one delighted kid in this photo. It’s a joyful version of who I wish I’d been as a child.

Now instead of a special effect, I need to discover the real effect, and somehow look like this in my current life (except 50 years older).

Sweet Home Alabama?

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I’ve always had a negative perception of the southern states. I never much cared for Florida on my visits there. I have a low tolerance for heat and humidity. And then there’s that whole legacy of slavery. But I just made my first trip to Birmingham, Alabama. In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, I chose to visit a southern state where COVID cases are spiking. Why would I do such a thing...

Describe Your Novel in Two Sentences

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So asked my agent, as she prepares to pitch THIS GAME WE PLAY to publishers. You must have that quick hook. Everyone is so busy. Everyone wants you to get to the point and wow them. First pass: A recent college graduate falls for a charming schemer. Her father becomes obsessed with preventing the marriage. And I added this, for a longer description: After an emotionally challenging year, Anna is...

Today I Dug a Grave

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In the back garden, behind the evergreens, past the vinca, I found a peaceful spot near the cedar fence. I shoveled out dirt and cut through roots and dug down as far as I could reach. It’s there I buried Storm. His name is actually Thunder Lightning Rainstorm, named 16 years ago by two very young kids who grew up with this fine member of our family. Storm was a lap cat. Sometimes you could...

Tim O’Brien and Facing the “Moral Emergency”

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During the pandemic, I’ve compiled a list of the “The Most Important Novels in My Life,” then started re-reading to see if they maintained their esteem over time. Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” made my list for its haunting narrative of the author’s Vietnam experience and its structure as a series of connected stories. The piece I remember the most, and still cuts me every time I read...

Where are All the Monarchs?

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This is an update to an earlier post (below, dated June 16) when I lamented the lack of monarch butterflies. The update is this: they are here. The season started a little later, but Harriet found many eggs on our milkweed, gave them to her friends, and raised a number of monarchs herself. A good year, after all, at least in the world of monarchs. Still eating milkweedTransforming in the...

I Have! A Punctuation! Problem!!!

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I came up as a writer in the days when the exclamation point was a judiciously, seldom-used punctuation mark. It was to be placed at the end of a sentence in only extreme cases, as a shout of intensity or alarm when words alone cannot convey such powerful feelings. Writers who overused the exclamation point were often derided. It was a lazy way to show emotion. ! F. Scott Fitzgerald once said...

I Took A Mental Health Day

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Anyone who’s read my recent posts on how I am learning to accept or about my reactions to our most effective president, knows that my mood is in a state of damage and disrepair. To help fix things up a bit, I took a mental health day yesterday. For me, mental health is often improved by paying attention to my physical health—by engaging in physical activity, by acting young, by playing games. I...

Words to Live By: Accept

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It’s known as the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It’s the kind of saying that appears on a poster taped to the ceiling in the dentist’s office and you can look up and read it while you’re getting your teeth drilled. It’s a...

Happy Anniversary to My Blog

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That’s not really an anniversary cake, that’s Harriet’s birthday cake, which she had to bake for herself, guaranteeing that it would be amazing, and it was. So I’m co-opting that cake to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of my blog. I’m late to blogging, very late. I know that. Blogs are so some other era. But I wanted to expand my range of writing and take ten...

The Most Effective President

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I’ve come to the conclusion that the current occupant of the White House might be the most effective president ever. With an agenda to sow divisiveness among Americans, to pit us against each other, to hurl insults and foster hate, he’s been astonishingly successful. Sadly, I’m a perfect example of his success. There’s a house down the street and around the corner from me...

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, Milan Kundera

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What was once light, has now become heavy. I’m continuing to reread from the list of The Most Important Novels in My Life. I just finished THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING, by Milan Kundera. This novel was published in English in the mid-eighties when I was just starting out as a writer. I wrote and read voraciously and when I discovered Kundera’s unique, philosophical novel I was, to put it...

The Savoring Never Ends

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I savored shaving. I savored the wind chimes. Today, the raspberry gets its turn. I learned about the importance of savoring, early in the era of COVID-19, during this much-needed and free online course at Yale, “The Science of Well-Being.” This is my second crop of raspberries this year. The first crop I greatly savored, every afternoon in my yard, peering into the bushes and parting...

What’s in a Title? A Lot

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The title of a novel isn’t as important as the content of the novel itself, but I want to love my title. I want others to love it. I want the title to draw in potential readers, pique their interest, motivate them to take a look at the book. I want the title to make a promise. That’s a heavy load to carry for just a few words. Some of the greatest titles ever were a single word:...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

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