On Weddings


As I sat in Dublin airport after a weeklong trip over for another family wedding in Ireland, waiting to get on the plane to go back to NYC, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own weddings. I have had two. But only one husband.

Let me explain.

On July 10th, my husband (who is Irish) and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, having married on that date in 2010. On July 24th, we celebrated the seven years since we were legally married in a civil ceremony on July 24, 2009.

In early 2009, my father, after having lost his father (my grandfather), his wife (my Mom) and one of his two sons (my brother) all within three years, was battling acute myeloid leukemia. He was a fierce warrior who, despite being in tremendous grief having lost the woman he had loved for 56 years and his beloved child, was fighting hard to stick around for myself and my remaining brother and his family. And he was doing a heroic job of it. That’s a whole other blog in and of itself.

Though he was fighting hard and we were deep in the planning of a big, beautiful wedding to be held on July 10, 2010 that I prayed he’d be around for, I had this intense sense that we should be married earlier somehow. So we decided to “make it legal” a year ahead of the big wedding. We chose July 24, 2009, and decided to invite just a few key people, my Dad being the primary important guest.

It ended up being a very sweet little service at the city hall in downtown NYC, which is actually quite nice as such spaces go. My husband’s sister (the one Irish family member who lives in America) and her husband and daughter came to represent his family for us. I wore a brooch of my mother’s and my father wore a tie pin that had been my brother’s. We all went to dinner together afterwards to celebrate.

My favorite memory from that ceremony was actually the next morning. My husband and I took my Dad to breakfast and then to the airport. I thought to take a short impromptu video of my Dad at breakfast, where I asked him how he felt now that I was married. With his signature wicked wit and amazing timing, my Dad made a joke followed by his wish that we would be as lucky as he and my mother had been in their happiness together. He said that if we’d “have love at the center of it all” we’d be fine. The lighting is awful, but is the only video I have of him as an adult, and I cherish it. I also have a few photos from the civil ceremony. I often think back and wonder how difficult it may have been for him to make that trip up to NYC for the service under the circumstances. He never let any strain show if so. He was there for us, and I am so grateful.


My Dad lost his battle with leukemia on April 14, 2010, a few months shy of our wedding date. I am incredibly grateful that I have beautiful memories of him standing beside us that day at the courthouse. That he was there to share in our joy. That he was able to “give me away.”

Despite his death, and perhaps to honor him, we went ahead with the wedding as planned, as you do in life. It was incredibly hard, but we knew he would want us to move forward and to enjoy the kind of wedding that he and my mother had always wished for me to have.

It had been tricky deciding where to have the wedding. I’m from Texas and my family is there. He’s from Ireland and his family is there. But our lives are in NYC. After much deliberation, we decided to hold it in NJ: to be close to NYC for out-of-town guests to enjoy, and yet near to where my husband’s one US-living sister’s home is.

It had been very hard for me to plan a wedding without my mom and brother being there, but my Dad, and my other brother and his wife, had been there to support us in every step. Along the way, there were small but poignant signs of my mother’s presence, so I felt her there with me, but of course I would have done anything to have had her there physically. And my brother’s absence was unimaginable, and still is to this day. Losing a sibling is a strangely incomprehensible thing. That’s a whole other blog to be sure.

Additionally, remember my husband’s only US sibling? My sister-in-law and her husband and two children in NJ? Their house became “Wedding Central,” and they generously hosted not only the Irish contingent in their home, but hosted the day-after BBQ there as well, and did countless other things. Too many things to list, but the list included helping to transport everyone before during and after the wedding weeks, and hosting an unforgettable post-wedding NJ shore week that became our “family-moon.” (Two gorgeous beach houses, food for 40, and days of sunshine, love and laughter.) They were basically the most generous people you could wish for, and were pillars of strength for my husband and I as we carried out the actual machinations of coordinating a wedding in an area we knew little about.

With all of this family love and support, our dream wedding was planned and we were ready for the big event.

We were so blessed to have had so many of both of our families travel from afar to come to our wedding.

I come from Protestant people, and small families. We were small in number to begin with, but after the losses of the previous three years, we were even smaller. My little remaining family would mostly be coming from Texas, though there was an aunt and cousins coming from California and Colorado, and two of my Dad’s cousins from Vermont and Delaware.

In massive contrast, my Irish Catholic husband is the youngest in a family of 9: 3 boys and 6 girls. Wow, right? All raised by their mother on her own after their father died when my husband was two. Super wow. She sounds like an extraordinary woman. I wish I’d had the opportunity to meet her.

From these siblings, my husband has 23 nieces and nephews. (Though this presented a great challenge at first in terms of learning everyone’s names, this has turned out to be an incredible bonus. With luck, there will be as many weddings to go to! I just came from the 9th Irish wedding, my 8th. The first happened before I came along, but with luck I won’t miss another!)

32 of these wonderful people came over from Ireland for our wedding. We were incredibly honored and chuffed (Irish for complimented) that they would all make the effort and the expense to be there for us. We were similarly honored and chuffed that my family, and many of our friends came as well.

Maybe everyone feels that way around their wedding — each gift feels astonishing and treasured; each guest, an unbelievable honor. We were blown away.

What we wanted most from our “real” wedding was to bring our two families and friends together. All of the people who had helped shape our individual lives and our coupledom. We had a huge rehearsal dinner for everyone from out-of-town and a barbecue the Sunday after our wedding in hopes of bringing Texas and Ireland together. We knew it would be the one time in our lives that this would happen, and we were going to make the most out of it.

And though it was a bittersweet joy without my father there, because he had made the trip over to Ireland in 2008 with us to my husband’s family reunion, everyone at our wedding, save for a few of our individual friends, had met my father. I felt so buoyed and held by the love from both of our families and our friends that day. I know that they carried me through it all. Their love infused my heart with joy to counter the sorrow that was there that day as I missed my mother, my father and my brother.

If all of the above is not enough to be grateful for, since becoming a part of my husband’s wonderful, huge family, I have come to realize that they are the gift that keeps on giving. When I met and fell in love with my husband, I could never have imagined that my own little family would become even smaller in such a short time. It is a true miracle that I have inherited a whole other family, one that continually astonishes me with their warmth, their closeness, their total love of being together.

Every time we go home to Ireland, I sit in gatherings filled with laughter and great “craic” (Irish for enjoyable conversation,) music and love. These are marathon sessions that go into the wee hours of the early morning, colored with stories and songs.

I grew up wanting sisters, and now I have 7, 6 from my husband and one from my brother! I literally pinch myself sometimes when I am surrounded by that love in Ireland, or in NJ, or in Texas, amazed at being a part of such inclusive and infusive love.

Don’t get me wrong. I would give anything to have my parents and my brother back. But in lieu of that, I consider myself one of the luckiest women on this planet because I now have a huge family of both Texan and Irish people, and they fill my heart with so much love there is little room left for too much sorrow.

And I have two anniversaries to celebrate and cherish every year lest I ever forget the many gifts I have been given alongside the great losses of my life.

#irishweddingsarethebest #loveatthecenterofitall



On Vacation


I have been absent the past three weeks. I am on vacation, following a family wedding trip to Northern Ireland and an acting intensive in Ireland. Today I am in the middle of a two-week “girls trip” with my niece and sister-in-law. Having a wonderful time.

Just wanted to say hello from Paris. This week, I will be posting a blog that I meant to post two weeks ago! It has been a whirlwind month of living on the skinny branches. If I was more experienced with having a blog, I would have had posts at the ready and scheduled ahead of time to post while on these trips. Now I know how it needs to go.

Ah well! C’est la vie. Live and learn, and let the rest go.

Today I send you light from the City of Light. I am living out on the skinny branches, and the living feels fine.

#lifeontheskinnybranches #girlstrip2016 #paris #eiffeltower

Fat is Not Funny (to Me)


My whole life I’ve been confused as to why people laugh at fat people.

You see it everywhere. Greeting cards with pictures on the front of a fat lady in a bikini or some big man holding a sandwich or something.

Popular culture is flooded with fat jokes and humor.

Character actors and comedians have made careers out of making fun of their own fat: John Candy, Roseanne, Homer, Fred Flintstone, the King of Queens, to name just a few.

Some of these people lost weight at some point in their careers and actually had trouble finding their new audience dynamic because so much of their appeal centered around their being fat.

People love to laugh at fat people.

I never thought fat was very funny.

Maybe because I was a heavy kid who was teased and bullied mercilessly in elementary and junior high schools for being overweight.

If you were ever that kid, you know it’s not funny.

Maybe because I grew up loving one of the greatest men I’ll ever know, my brother, who also happened to be obese. I’ve always been incredibly sensitive to jokes made at the expense of the overweight.

If you have ever had an obese relative, and know the suffering it creates for the relative and for the family and friends who love them…if you’ve witnessed first-hand the looks, the comments and mean behaviors of strangers…you don’t think fat is funny.

Fat shaming is a thing now. It has a name. It has been debated heatedly as something good.  (Shame as a motivational tool? Really?) And as something bad. (Fat people say that they are being discriminated against and just want to be accepted as they are regardless of a physical attribute, such as color or size of body.)

That fat shaming exists as an issue at all to me illustrates the total lack of understanding around the issue of being overweight. The issue of fat.

There are no greeting cards with junkies on the front. Or anorexic women or men. Why do we laugh at fat people? Why is there so little empathy for people struggling to lose weight?

Is it because generally most people think being overweight is someone’s fault and so the person deserves to be laughed at? Whereas there’s more room for forgiveness for a drug addict or some other more acceptable person who is afflicted by disease?

Is is because it is tied into the idea of sin? Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, also known as capital vices or cardinal sins. That goes way, way back into our social and cultural psyche…maybe it is encoded into our DNA so deeply that it has created a blind spot in our ability to have empathy or even understand what fat is.

Someone carrying extra weight is seen as a lazy loser, lacking will power, with too much appetite. Gluttonous. Lacking character and immoral. Disgusting.

I posit that most people, despite the over-saturation of information on dieting and other weight loss products that is out there, still view the issue of extra weight as a pure willpower issue.

Overweight or fat people are not commonly seen as a person who suffers from a disease, a food disorder, a reflection of an emotional disorder. As someone who learned to use food as a way to cope with life, in the same way an alcoholic or a heroin addict or a debtor uses those substances to handle their lives, in a disordered way.

I have a theory. I think that when people laugh at fat people, it is because on some level they are so uncomfortable at the literal evidence of pain that fat people are wearing. It cannot be hidden, the way an alcoholic’s or a bulimic’s or anorexic can. It’s out in plain view for all to see, a suit of pain, and on some level it reminds us of things maybe we also do not want to look at in our own lives. Our own appetites that we’ve learned to suppress. Our own uncomfortable feelings that we have not yet found a healthy outlet for.

We laugh because we see someone who is living out some revolution against something or someone on their own body landscape, and on some level it pisses us off because the person is not “towing the line” and keeping those feelings and desires stuffed down where we, as a society, have agreed such things should go.

So we express a cruelty towards these people in ways that in any other situation would be totally unacceptable and perhaps even unthinkable to us.

Why don’t we see fat people as people in pain? People who need help dealing with life differently? As people with a chronic disease?

Why do we still watch shows like The Biggest Loser that only address and promote the cosmetic issues of weight loss and not the underlying causes of the eating disorder: the person’s disordered behavior with food, a reflection of a disordered relationship to being in the world?

Why do we only want to get Physical Education back into schools when we need more than just “better eating” and to get kids moving to deal with the ever-growing numbers of obese children in this country? Those things are needed too, yes. But those things alone are not solving the issue. So they appear to not be working.

(Of course, this lack of understanding, this mis-education, is great for the diet product industry. It makes people constantly in search of the next big fad, the magic pill, the quick fix. Google and explore how much people spend each year on diets and pills and fads and you will see who benefits from the results of this misunderstanding towards fat and overweight.)

When will fat be treated as an emotional, behavioral issue, not a purely biological one?

As a disease like any other. Not a party joke. Not a greeting card.

I don’t know what to do to help this situation, to help educate and inform and shift the attitude towards fat, but I know something needs to be done.

Fat is not funny to me. When my brother died at 47 from complications of his obesity, I promise you, nothing about it was funny. He was a brilliant man with a wicked sense of humor and a huge, sweet heart. I will never stop grieving his death, and I miss him every single day.

On Jeans


When I was growing up, entering that oh-so-excruciating time known as adolescence, there were only a few jean brands on the market. It wasn’t like today where designer jeans are so much the norm that they don’t even call them designer jeans anymore. There’s just a huge selection.

Not so in my day. There were just three brands: Levi, Lee and Wrangler. Or maybe those were just what was popular in my junior high school in my home city of Houston, Texas.

Everyone wore Levi jeans. Maybe some of the “Kickers” (the label that identified the farmer and cowboy types) wore Lee’s or Wrangler’s. But all the really cool kids, those known as “Popular,” wore Levi’s. So of course, I wanted to wear Levi’s.

And not just any Levi’s. Red-label Levi’s. For some reason I cannot for the life of me now recall, the red-label ones were somehow thought to be superior to the orange-label Levi’s.

This presented a real problem for me. I did not have a Levi body. While most of the other girls looked fantastic in these jeans that were basically men’s jeans, I looked awful. You see, this was before they started making jeans to actually fit a woman’s body. I mean there were women’s jeans, but they were still very shaped to fit a very narrow or boylike form. Most of the Popular girls were quite “petite” and had “atheletic” shapes, so they wore red-label Levi’s and looked terrific.

Me, not so much. If they fit me in the waist, I couldn’t get them over my upper legs and hips. If they fit my legs and hips, the waist was huge.

This was a source of major ego suffering for me. All I wanted was to fit in and to look as good as I could. I already knew I looked different: I weighed more and was much taller than the other girls. I was also very fair and quite shy.

But despite all these external characteristics that I just KNEW made me a social pariah, I was desperate to be noticed and appreciated anyway. I can still recall going to Sears or Macy’s or Lord and Taylor or wherever, only to try on pair after pair after pair of never-fitting jeans. I would leave feeling like a grotesque and misshapen loser, cursing God and the family gene pool that had created me. I felt that I was such a disgusting specimen of the female species.

I soon equated being able to fit in the Levi red-label jeans with being socially worthy. As I could not fit into these jeans, I decided that I was socially misfit.

I decided that jeans were just not meant for me, and neither was the Popular group. So I found some other social misfits and formed my own group. I don’t know that we ever had a name, but we were known to be “party-ers” and sort of mysterious, and maybe even somewhat wild.

I said, “Screw Levi’s” and started to wear a lot of black clothing and red lipstick and nail polish, which at that time was not in fashion in Houston, Texas. It being the 80’s and all about New Age music and Madonna and punk, I also had big hair and sometimes wore lace gloves with the fingers cut off and other “New Wave” kinds of things. I look back at some of those fashion choices and think, oh my, what were we all thinking…but for the most part, I look back and think I actually had a unique and interesting style that was sort of ahead of its time.

But I never wore jeans, and I never felt worthy.

And then, as if that weren’t enough, came The Time of the Designer Jean.

Now, Designer Jeans actually made their appearance in the 1970’s. But they didn’t trickle into the popular culture of Robert E. Lee High School until the 80’s. Suddenly, there were so many more options: EJ Gitano, Jordache, Guess, Girbaud, Sergio Valente, Chic, Zena, and Sassoon. Gloria Vanderbilt! And of course, Calvin Klein.

Oh, those Calvin Klein ads. They poured more poison into my fragile teenage mind-ego, creating even more pressure and myth around the importance of jeans to my self-worth and social worthiness.

Calvin Klein ad with Brooke Shields

Designer Jeans were expensive. They were also still not really made for the Real Woman body yet. Though they were better than the Levi’s, they still did not really look good on my body with its curves and extra weight; my “big” hips and my slim waist and “thick” thighs just did not work in those skin-tight designer blues. At least not in my eyes.

Needless to say, my self-ban on jeans continued throughout my college years and beyond.

I actually didn’t buy and wear my first pair of jeans until I was around 26 or so. It was a big deal for me. Finally, through extreme diets and over-exercising, I had whittled my body into a shape that I deemed worthy of jeans. I had arrived. I was finally worthy.

Well, of course, that was an extremely short-lived triumph. That pair of jeans didn’t make me feel any differently about my body or my self. I was still that girl who felt unworthy and disgusting, albeit much thinner on the outside.

Years of therapy would be needed to create change around my body image and sense of self-worth. I have had to unravel the popular-culture-and-advertising-influenced logic that shaped my fragile-and-emotionally-immature ego-mind. I have had to wake up to the real world and out of the sleep-spell cast on me in a youth spent immersed in television and magazine ads and movies and such to discover the reality that was alive underneath the layers of fantasy. It has been quite a journey.

Today, I finally enjoy wearing jeans, free of all that media-inspired hysteria. Today, there are many more choices. So many brands that actually are made to fit real women’s bodies. Hallelujah!

Today you can find jeans for just about every shape of body. Today, I don’t put a type on my body nor do I subscribe to words like plus-size or thick-thighed or skinny or big-booty or all the other descriptive words that are used so often in popular culture and advertising when discussing our bodies. They tend to be derogatory, and they always assume an IDEAL from which all else derives.

Sometimes, I catch myself comparing my body to that fictitious ideal of the ad world, but not as often and not for as long. I nip that self-torturous compare and despair in the bud when it comes up. My body and my mind deserve more from life than that.

I don’t buy that crap anymore. I know two things to be real and true. Women have shapes, and women wear clothes. Sure, go ahead and ascribe some sizes to clothes  to make it easy to categorize and buy them. But don’t think I am going to buy into the ascribing of worthiness or some ideal of beauty (or imply the lack thereof) to any of those sizes. Any of them. I am awake today, and I know better.

Today, my thighs are the perfect size for my body. My ass is too. As are my waist and hips. My body is just perfect. Perfect for me.

You want to know what comes between me and my feeling good in jeans today? Nothing.


Girl with a Pearl Necklace


My niece just graduated from high school and turned 18 on the very same day.

She is very special to me, as is her brother, who is a few years younger. They are my remaining older brother’s children, and our little family of my husband and I and my brother and his family have become more and more important to me with each passing year.

More so I think since the deaths of my mother, father and other brother several years ago. Losses sharpen and intensify the remaining connections. It is one of the sweet gifts such losses contain.

I decided to continue a family tradition and take my niece on a trip in honor of her graduation. My Grandma FitzGerald (who I was named after) began the tradition when my oldest brother (the one who remains) and our cousin (my mom’s twin sister’s eldest daughter who was my eldest brother’s age) graduated from high school. She took them on a two week trip to Europe. She did the same when my middle brother and our only other cousin (my mom’s twin sister’s other child who was John’s age) graduated from high school.

When my high school graduation came, Grandma and I went alone as there was no cousin there to join me. (That trip is a whole other blog post. Being a namesake can be complicated. I was also a bit wild. Gran was a bit of a force to be reckoned with. We were an interesting combo on a trip to Ireland, England and Scotland at the height of “the Struggles” in Ireland and when, politically, Europe was not too keen on Americans. Gran eschewed social norms and loved to talk politics and religion upon meeting strangers. At seventeen, I found this incredibly embarrassing, and a lot of eye-rolling and running off with the only other young person on the tour to sneak beers in pubs to meet boys ensued.)

Back to my niece and our trip.

I had come up with the idea to carry on this tradition: I knew that if my mom were alive, she would have done for my niece what her own mother had done for her children. So now I will do this for her, for all of us who remain. I cannot wait for our trip this summer, to have that time together and to perhaps tell stories about my memories of my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother.

But I wanted my niece to have something to open on her birthday, and after racking my brain and scouring the internet for all the usual grad gift ideas, I still felt at a loss. Then an idea occurred to me. I have a beautiful, sweet pearl necklace that my mother gave me when I graduated from high school. What if I passed it on to my niece?

When she gave it to me, my Mom had told me that her grandmother had given it to her when she graduated from high school. I think I remember feeling special when she gave it to me. I know I loved wearing it.

I had the great luck to have actually known my Great Grandma Burns. She had been a world traveller, and incredibly sophisticated. She had beautiful taste, and a style that was quite European-seeming that she had passed along to my Grandma. Originally from Kansas City, the daughter of a fairly well-to-do flour miller, Great Grandma Burns had been all over the world and had an elegance that she had imparted to Gran Fitz that was way bigger than Texas, where our family had eventually relocated as a result of my Grandma’s marriage to a traveling salesman.

Great Grandma Burns had bright, sparkly eyes and though she was intimidating, she was warm and funny, and I loved her. My mom, my Grandma FitzGerald and Grandma Burns and I would go to have luncheons in department store tea rooms together, four generations of women. She and my Gran Fitz would dress to the nines, as did women in those days, replete with a hat, pumps, a skirt suit and matching bag and gloves. I, being the youngest, would run to open doors for them. “Age before beauty,” they would say, if I ever made a face at this task.

I remember liking the necklace, but at 18 I doubt I really thought all that much about it then, being much more concerned with parties and boys and my friends.

As I grew older, the meaning of the necklace deepened and changed. We lived through both my Great Grandma Burns and my Gran FitzGerald’s decent into dementia, and eventual death. Life began to shape and change me, as She does to us all.

Later, when my own mother moved through her two cancers, and after her death, that pearl necklace remained, a symbol of her love of me, and of the love of the women who came before me. Whose hearts and dreams brought me into creation. I am the living embodiment of their imaginations and wishes and hopes and desires.

It has brought me such joy throughout my life. I truly treasure it. As I treasure my niece.

I was so excited when the idea of giving it to her came to me. It felt like divine inspiration.

So it surprises me that now that I am actually giving to her, I feel sadness around it for some reason. A strange mix of emotions have taken me completely by surprise. Sadness, fear, anxiety…I do not want to give it from this space. So I have to unravel what is going on.

Is this sadness because I do not have a daughter to give it to? Hmmm, I don’t think that’s it. I’m ok with that, at least for today. (More on being child-free another time. That too is at least a whole other blog post.)

Is it that I am letting it go? Ahhhh, yes, that’s it…I am sad to let it go…as if it somehow holds the actual love my mother had for me and by giving it away I will lose touch with it or something. That is the odd fear-panic I am feeling. Attachment is deep y’all. Damn.

And what if she doesn’t treasure it as I have? What if she hocks it for beer money someday (ok, this is probably projection and totally revelatory of my own wild youth — I did do that once but it was a bracelet an ex-boyfriend had given me, not a family heirloom, and she is very level-headed and not at all like me at her age, so that’s definitely a reach.) If I give it, I have to really let it go, and that means giving it without expectation or any strings attached to the receiver. She is free to feel about it and do what she wishes with it. I have to be willing to actually let it go to her.

I have loved that necklace so much. Cherished it. But I don’t actually wear it much. Isn’t it better is it is given to possibly be worn by someone my mother and I both adore?

I wonder if my mom felt pangs of sadness when she gave it to me? Don’t get me wrong, the overriding feeling I have is one of joy and love in thinking of giving it to my niece. I am just examining the other complicated things that it has brought up.

There’s something in here too, I think, about the passage of time…maybe the necklace, without me realizing it, has been a symbol of my own youth? A rite of passage, anointing the next young woman of my family…and giving it to her hits home that I am no longer that girl at the cusp of the start of her adult life. I am deep in the middle of mine, heading towards the transition to the later years. Yep, that definitely rings some bells.

Realizing these layers inside, I can be more clear and clean around this. And so I give it to her without expectation, but with some hope. I hope she appreciates it and loves it as I have, but that is all literally out of my hands.

As for it being a symbol of my mom’s love, I have beautiful memories that do not require a physical object to live.

No matter where the necklace ends up, may it resonate love and dreams and family and new life. May it bring whomever wears it in its remaining lifetime great joy in the wearing.





That’s it.

No more.

I will no longer silently do nothing when there is rampant manspreading happening on trains, buses and subways. Uh-uh, no way, no how.

(I know, I know. There are many more pressing issues to fight for these days. But indulge me, please. It’s really bugging me.)

Why is it that we, as a population, are so accepting of this practice?

Countless times I have watched as two manspreading guys sit side by side while someone who could also use a seat stands nearby, seemingly helpless in the face of such audacity.

It’s palpable. These guys are oozing entitlement. As if what lay between their legs was so special that it literally required extra seat space.

Seriously?! Not buying it. There are plenty of men who sit in ONE seat, many of whom I am willing to bet are more than amply endowed. How is that they can survive bringing their legs close together but these special men cannot?

I have suffered in silence too many times as a manspreader has pressed over into my seat space. I have felt at a total loss as to what I could possibly do about it.

(And I am not speaking against anyone who needs extra space because they legitimately require more space due to actual body size. That’s not who gets to me.)

It’s those men (and women!) who insist on keeping their legs spread wide, thereby using up to three seats at a time.

It suddenly occurred to me the other day that it is up to me to speak up. No amount of passive-aggressive pressing back or giving the evil eye or sending messages via mental telepathy is going to register for these guys.

If they have the balls (no pun intended) to just spread their legs like that without a care or a thought for the world, they ain’t gonna “get” subtle hints. Nope. I gotta get vocal and put it out there.

So I’ve actually been practicing my approach.

My first attempts were way too apologetic and seeped self-doubt.

“Excuse me. I’m sorry but could you please…you are sort of over in my area?”

“Excuse me, may I please sit here?”

“Um, excuse me, maybe you didn’t notice, but, um, you are taking up more space than is fair?”


I’m reminding myself of that hilarious but all-too-sadly-true video from Amy Schumer’s “Inside Amy Schumer” Season 3, Epsiode 4. “I’m Sorry” takes place at a “Females In Innovation Conference” hosted by a male moderator. As the discussion unfolds, the number of times each panelist apologizes increases, for more and more absurd reasons. Buy or rent this episode (or all of them – she is one of my favorites) and laugh (and die a little inside) as you recognize yourself or someone you know.

As if I am the one who needs to apologize!

I’m working on the wording. Here’s my fav for the guy or gal who is pressing over into my seat:

“You’ve manspread into my seat space. Leave now.”

And for those who are taking up multiple seats, as I go to sit:

“I’m sitting here. You’ll have to stop man spreading and make space for me.”

And what about the woman who manspreads? They do exist. For her, I might use:

“Excuse me. I’m sitting here.” (The women intimidate me more than the men, for some reason.)

It’s time to take up the space I need in the world. I’m not looking to take more than I need. I’m just asking, no, telling the world what I need.

I have to believe it is possible to re-teach the world in regards to this, one human at a time.

Who’s with me? Come on!


On Aging


I discovered a few weeks ago that I am severely prejudiced.

It was a shock. I didn’t know that lurking within me were truly vile and discriminatory feelings and thoughts about a huge portion of the human race.

I didn’t know I was an ageist*.

*According to Wikipedia: Ageism (also spelled “agism”) is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systematic. The term was coined in 1969 by Robert Neil Butler to describe discrimination against seniors, and patterned on sexism and racism.

Lemme back up. I was having an especially terrific day.

There are days when, as an actor, you are just filled with joy because you feel so in the flow. This was one of those days.

I was on my way from a great voice lesson. I had a while to do an errand and then later was going to rehearse and then do a staged reading of a very special play that held deep personal value for me, with amazing fellow actors. What could be better than that?

I stopped at a grocery store to pick up some kale. I was at the register when it happened. The woman checking me out said the following words:

“Do you qualify for the 55+ discount?”

I was shocked. Then outraged. Then mortified. And ashamed. In that order. Appalled and dripping with disgust, I looked at her.

“What?! Do I look like I’m 55?!! Oh. My. God. Kill me now.”

(Yes, I actually said “Kill me now.”)

Poor thing tried to backpedal it.

“Oh, I just thought…you eat so healthy…so maybe…”

Which made it worse, because she was inadvertently inferring that I’m actually older looking than 55 but eating so well that it doesn’t show?!

I left the store, kale in hand, attempting not to spin out on this.

I wanted to enjoy the rest of my day, but knowing myself and how my brain works around such things, I knew I had a triage situation in regard to my frail ego.

First, I tried different paths of logic. Oh, she didn’t really take me in before she said that. She probably says that to every one, right? I don’t look my age. Everyone says so. And my real age is not 55, so she obviously didn’t even take me in.

I’d slip into anger occasionally.

How irresponsible of her. They really shouldn’t let those cashiers  offer that discount willy-nilly. They are just asking for it!

By the time I got home, there was a new voice inside making itself known. A voice that said, “Hey, you. What’s so bad about being associated with being 55?”

I mean, truthfully, the level of disgust I felt at the mere suggestion that I could ever be 55!

I began to examine this, go deeply into it. I discovered that being over 65 felt OK. I mean, I know I’m going to be a rocking 65-year-old.

And 70? Look out! I want to be one of those cool Septuagenarians who astounds people with their vitality and continued accomplishments.

But 51-64? I want no part of THAT club. No way.

Where did this come from? This abhorrence of people those ages? I wasn’t born rejecting a whole segment of the population. How did this hidden inner belief system come to be so strong in me?

And better yet, what can I do about it now that I know about it?

I don’t want to feel such a distaste for any of the years I am lucky enough to have ahead. I thought I had embraced ageing when it first started appearing in my mid 40’s…I looked at how I felt about it then and really thought I had decided I was gonna forge a new pathway for generations of women to come by embracing my later ages. By celebrating the changes as they came. By being a vibrant, sexy woman at EVERY age.

I thought I had decided that I was gonna be a one-woman revolution and reject societal, cultural pressure to look young no matter what the cost for as long as possible. To be on TV and in films at my age and not be ashamed or embarrassed because I am not young anymore. To blaze trails. To be a part of a change that embraces beauty at every age instead of the age-shaming we are bombarded with from infancy through all forms of media.

I thought I had chosen this path.

Little did I know that sure, I was great with aging as long as I still looked 38-48. That was cool.

Little did I know that when I looked in the mirror, reviewing the changes I could see, there was this part of my brain that must have decided “Sure, this is acceptable. I can live with THIS.” But that all the while that seeming acceptance actually held a hidden silent caveat: “As long as it doesn’t get worse than THIS.”

How insane it seems now. But that must have been the invisible internal logic.


I can’t stay frozen in time. I cannot choose the face I will keep for the remainder of my life in this body.

My face and body WILL continue to change as time progresses. I am like every other human who has ever lived and aged.

But. I can choose all of the things I thought I chose before. I CAN embrace. I CAN blaze a trail. I can be a one-woman revolution.

I can choose to reject what advertisers and media cram into my psyche on a practically moment-by-moment basis. Anti-aging, this, anti-aging that. (“Anti-” opposed to, against!)

I do not have to believe/embrace or live from the beliefs that:

After 40 it is all downhill. Middle age is something to dread and fear. Women become invalid and invisible once they hit menopause. Life is meant for the young. Old people have no relevance. Old people cannot remember things. Old people are “out of it” when it comes to modern technologies or cultural references. Blah, blah, blah.

Bullshit. It is all designed to make me fear getting old and to buy skin creams and such as if my life depends on it.

When I shared my grocery store story with a friend, she said she could relate to my outrage. She said she wasn’t going to age “without a fight.”

But I don’t want feel like there’s anything TO fight, you know?

Or rather, I am gonna fight. But not aging.

I’m gonna fight Ageism.

Look out, world. Here I come! Who is with me?!

To find out more about ageism: www.legacyproject.org