Thursday, July 28, 2016


This is a note to my FOB-JEK friends. It's not limited to those who served/serve though, so I'm sharing with everyone I know in the ways I have available to me.
Frank O'Bannon had a profound effect on me. He made me a better person. Judy, at least, made me behave better.
I'll never forget the day Joe came down to my desk and sat with me to edit a state of the state speech. I didn't know him well, and when the sitting LT Gov. came into my office unannounced, with his notes and in his shirtsleeves, sat down like he was a colleague, I just about died. And then we worked together, laughed a little bit, and polished more than a few paragraphs.  I didn't get the chance to know Maggie as well, but the few times I was around her, she was gracious and super smart.
If any of that fabulous foursome touched your life in as positive way – as they did mine –
I know you want to take a moment to tip your hat to them. I have a great way for you do to that virtually, but in a really meaningful way. We’re calling it the 20/20/20.
It came about because my friend J
onathan Swain and I were on the phone the other day. He'd done the math to mark 20th year milestone. We thought we shouldn’t let the year go without comment but we didn’t know that we should interfere with the very important races underway. Everyone’s already so busy, so tapped out. We didn’t think FOB or JEK would want to mess with the focus.
But hey, what if we do more than reminisce on our own? We talked with Tina Dennis Noel and Jeff Harris. And we came up with the 20/20/20.
Give $20 to Gregg-Hale in honor of FOB-JEK.
Find 20 other folks you used to work with and ask them to sign on to 20/20/20.
Raise $20K for John and Christina.
It'll be a great, albeit virtual, reunion.
Hope you can help. And if you unearth old friends who want to connect – share their email and we'll continue the reunion. Maybe even in person one day.
The form is standardized at other amounts. Use the blank amount if you want to donate $20 to this cause. Whatever you want to give, if you can give, will be gratefully accepted.

There are tons of FOB-JEK folks who have deeper, longer ties than mine. If you are one of them and you see this, please think through your Rolodex and send to as many folks as you want.
No harm in going beyond 20, right? :)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Car talk

Some of our best conversations happen in the car.

Last week it began with a long monologue from my co-pilot about office work.

"I would be a terrible secretary," she proclaimed.

I gave her the side eye and gestured that she should go on.

"It's like if I was at work and some guy comes in and says to me, 'File this,' I would say, 'You have hands, file it yourself!' And if he yelled at me, I'd get him a ball gag," she said.

Curious, if not mildly shocked, I asked how she had come to know what a ball gag is.

"Mom, I'm 15," she informed me. "I know things."

 I offered up a silent prayer and said, "OK, what is a ball gag?"

She looked at me like I was an idiot. "You know, it's what you put on a dog to keep it quiet."

I thanked whatever divine providence had answered said prayer. "Uh, that's a muzzle," I said.

"Yeah! A ball gag," she argued.

"No," I said. "It's a muzzle. Why do you call it a ball gag?"

Patiently, she agreed to educate me. "I saw something on the Internet and a dog had a ball in his mouth and the caption said something about keeping your dog quiet," she explained.

"Actually, a ball gag is a sex toy," I said.


Then: "I would be a terrible secretary." and she picked up her soliloquy on how she would rise up against her oppressors should she ever find herself in the secretarial pool.

Somehow, I don't see her there.

From October 2010

She and I were in the car the other day, and I mentioned a boy in her class. His name is Sammy Kacius, and I always pronounce it with a hard "a," which is wrong.

"Mom. It's Kascius," she said for perhaps the 1,098th time.

"Man, I hope you don't marry him. I'll never get your name right," I said.

"Dude," she replied. "If I marry Sammy Kacius, he's changing HIS name."

October 2009 
"Hey Mom. You wanna know what I think?" she calls from the back seat.

Of course I bit: "What do you think?"

"I think those people who sing those songs are telling everyone about their PERSONAL BUSINESS, that's what I think," she said, clearly disapproving.

October 2009

In the car, Ali was discussing her hope to be a ninja for Halloween this year. She wants only her eyes to show and she'll go around karate chopping anyone who gets in her way - Hai-yah!

"Did you run that by your Aunt Donna?" I asked. "I'm not sure she's ever done a ninja. Aren't you at least a little bit concerned?"

"Nope," she said.

"Why not?"

"Well she hasn't had one problem with any of my costumes yet," says the girl who never sees the process, just the fabulous finished work.

In other news, the heat wave is taking a toll on us but Jeff and I took a long bike ride early this morning. Ali had demurred, insisting she wasn't yet awake. When we got back, my FitBit hadn't yet buzzed and I'd been talking about pedicures, so I convinced her to walk into Broad Ripple with me.

Jeff had offered to play Uber if we wanted and I'd decided that if I buzzed on the way, I would take him up on it. I did, he did, and we lunched at A Taste of Havana. It was great.

Since then, it's been blessed air conditioning.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's not too late

What is there to say about this week?
  • A terrible candidate has elevated a perhaps as terrible or worse candidate for the highest office in the land.
  • A candidate from the past  has upended the Indiana Democratic party - ostensibly to save it.
  • Horrific behavior by some in an organization sworn to protect has caused unspeakable violence apparently from (or in support of) the oppressed.
  • And unrest outside our borders continues to spread an insidious flume of poison air throughout the globe.
It's enough to make you want to cower in your closed-up house, hoping against hope that none of this awfulness will seep in through the cracks of your foundation or the tiny cracks that have escaped your attempts to isolate yourself.

We may well have screwed our own pooch but I'm not ready to concede.

I think we can still elect a great candidate (and yes, I mean Hillary.) If Evan can help John, I'm all for it but goddammit, Evan, you'd better help John.

I weep for a nation that believes violence can stop violence.  I hope that this is the bottom from which we start to crawl up. And I pray (yes, it's come to that) that my global sisters and brothers will stop their various exercises in madness.

But mostly, I look to this face -- and all of the other fresh, sweet, young faces out there -- who may actually have it in them to fix the mess we've created.

The first is Ali at three months; the first picture I shared in what was to become this blog. Look at that innocence. That curiosity. That huge head and tiny body. We all started out just like that. It's in us to fix this mess.

The second is Ali at two or three. At that point, she had a habit of interrupting conversations with,  "Guy, guys, guys!" to insert her own opinion. She did that once, standing up in her chair at a dinner party, telling four, loudly debating adults, that we should quiet down and listen to each other.

The third is from Paris where she's just taking a moment and hadn't realized I had my phone out.

The fourth is at Pride 2015. She was thrilled to be among a throng of people so happy to be accepted the air was thick with joy.

I work with a ton of great young people who have that same kind of energy and love and tolerance that Alison's generation also has. I'm hoping right now that we can find the shreds of those traits within our selfish, cynical, awful selves.

Guys, guys, guys: it's in us to make a positive difference. We've got this! We just have to want it more than we want to crawl inside our safe houses and wait for this wave of horrific actions to pass. I don't know what to do any more than you do other than to not be silent when the occasion arises. I'm going to work for candidates I believe in; not just vote for them. I'll look for opportunities to make my corner of the world a better place.

If we all do even some of that, maybe we can return to times where we're sharing more moments that make us all do this: 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Best summer so far?

Summer school may be looming for Alison, but the view in her rear view is pretty good. 

Summer camp with lifelong besties, a week in Paris and then a week in Maine with Auntie Jen and Uncle Peter on Pleasant Pond.

For the first time in a few years, she had to share a bit of her time with Auntie Jen with me as I flew out with her on Friday and then flew home alone on Monday. She stayed until Thursday.

Next year, probably to her chagrin, it might be all of us, which could give us time to finally check out James and David's cabin in northern Maine. Alison has always cherished her time in Maine. There's an extra layer of special when she gets exclusive time (sans parents.)

Flying home alone was no big deal to Alison - she'd chafed at her maternal escort. "Mom. I'm 15. I've flown a lot. I know what I'm doing," she insisted, making me flash back, of course, to the hundreds of times as a toddler she'd push us away and say, "I can DO it!"

Sigh. Jen caught a little of it when she dropped her at the Portland airport and hovered as she got assembled and then headed off to the TSA. "She didn't even have a backward glance for poor ol Auntie Jen."

Ditto for her arrival home where Jenna lay in wait to surprise her. I think Ali had anticipated Jenna's presence but she didn't complain as we walked to the car. Then, a blur, a flash and a crushing hug from behind.

Note to Amer: Jenna will be a great stalker in the future.

We're almost back to normal now. I have a work trip next week; Ali has a summer class and Jeff will be a single parent for a few days.

Check on him.

Or, more accurately, check on the redhead. The last time I left them alone she was seven or eight and he forgot to bathe her.  "I Febreezed myself," she boasted shortly after I got a whiff of her.