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My books are now available at the Alameda County Library!

So, my books have finally made it into the Alameda County Library system. I have to admit it was a pretty cool surprise to be browsing the new arrivals at my local branch and see my own book on the shelf!

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What was even neater, though, was checking the course catalog and finding that one of my books has been checked out already!

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Not bad for a random weekday, eh? :)

 

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On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened is now FREE with Amazon Prime Reading!

Now FREE with Amazon Prime Reading!

That’s right – my memoir has been selected for Amazon’s Prime Reading program, which means that the eBook will be available free to all Amazon Prime members for a limited time. The book can be read on a Kindle or any other device using one of Amazon’s free apps.

This newly expanded version is nearly twice the length of the original book and contains eight new chapters. Download your free copy today!

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It was the spring of 1989. I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school and an honors student. I had what every teenager wants: a stable family, a nice home in the suburbs, a great group of friends, big plans for my future, and no reason to believe that any of that would ever change.

Then came my mother’s psychosis.

I experienced first-hand the terror of watching someone I loved transform into a monster, the terror of discovering that I was to be her primary victim. For years I’ve lived with the sadness of knowing that she, too, was a helpless victim – a victim of a terrible disease that consumed and destroyed the strong and caring woman I had once called Mom.

My mother’s illness took everything. My family, my home, my friends, my future. A year and a half later I would be living alone on the street on the other side of the country, wondering whether I could even survive on my own.

But I did. That was how my mother – my real mother – raised me. To survive.

She, too, was a survivor. It wasn’t until 2013 that I learned that she had died – in 2007. No one will ever know her side of the story now. But perhaps, at last, it’s time for me to tell mine.

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Brooke Shields on Dating George Michael

I am profiling actress Brooke Shields in my forthcoming book It’s the Iron: How My Iron Deficiency was Misdiagnosed as Arthritis, and Why Your Depression, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, and Chronic Pain and Fatigue Might Be Low Iron, Too. Ms. Shields, in her brave autobiographical account of her experience with postpartum depression, Down Came the Rain, was one of the first celebrities to speak out about this common condition. Based on my research and my recently obtained knowledge of Ms. Shields’ life, I have numerous reasons to believe that her postpartum depression was, in fact, caused by low iron. A number of studies have linked the development of PPD to iron deficiency, and there are certain facts of Ms. Shields’ case – including excessive bleeding during and after the delivery of her daughter Rowan – that indicate that this could have been the precipitating factor of her depression.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post! I have also been reading There Was a Little Girl, Ms. Shields’ account of her relationship with her hard-drinking but well-loved manager mother. In it, Ms. Shields recounts numerous details of her early and young adult life, including this charming story of dating a young George Michael! In light of his untimely recent passing, I thought you might get a kick out of reading this biographical tidbit, and I do hope you will “get” all of Ms. Shields’ lyrical references, which add significantly to the cuteness of the piece. But I’ll let her tell it:

“I had recently gone on The Tonight Show to promote On Your Own and Johnny had asked me with whom I would want to be stranded on a desert island. (Such an original question!) I said I had a crush on George Michael. Mom had decorated a denim shirt of mine with ‘WHAM’ in glitter paint and Bedazzles. She glued pins and little pictures of George and surprised me with it to wear to his concert. I almost wore it on Carson.

“As luck would have it, while in Chicago on the book tour, we discovered we were staying at the same boutique hotel as George. Mom was enamored of the fact that he was famous, and she loved his voice. Mom had contacted George’s publicist to say that I was staying in the same place and hoped to meet him if possible. He said he would love to take me to dinner but because of our being bothered by the press we should probably just arrange dinner at the hotel. I nearly fell on my face.

“George decided to get food delivered to the private dining room on the rooftop. I arrived at the meal in colored jeans and a blouse. The table was beautifully set and all the foods I liked had been ordered. George said he had read some place that I liked to be healthy so he picked accordingly. There were flowers and candles and we talked nonstop. He complimented me on my blouse. When dinner was over, George walked me to my hotel room and said he wanted to see me again. He left without even trying to kiss me. I was so touched by what a gentleman he was. (I wanted to yell, ‘Wait, please don’t ‘go-go’!’)

“Back in my hotel bedroom Gavin and my mom had put CAUTION: POLICE LINE. DO NOT CROSS tape all over my bed. There were signs that said THIS MEANS, YOU, GEORGE! I guess this was payback for my sign-hanging stunt down the hallway for Mom after her date with Woody Allen.

“George and I managed to go on a few more dates in New York City that involved shopping or meals. He held my hand and even bought me a mauve cashmere sweater from Charivari on the Upper West Side. I thought he was a remarkable, respectful, and patient gentleman who was obviously aware of my hesitance regarding sex. Mom was thrilled. She said he had good taste and was sweetly old-fashioned. Nobody had ever been willing to move so slowly. It must be love.

“On the night before I was to go back to Princeton for my sophomore year, George invited me to a party for Grace Jones. When we arrived at the club, Boy George ran up to us and started screaming about how he had heard the rumor but was happy to see us actually together. Before the evening got too late, my boyfriend George ‘carelessly’ whispered into my ear, ‘Why don’t we get out of here?’

“We got into the limo and headed back to my home in New Jersey. As we were nearing the house, George put up the partition and turned to me. I thought, Oh my God – I’m going to get to have my first time with George Michael in the back of the limo! Forget Catholicism and the book. Forget my mother. God would understand! I gazed at George with puckered lips. He looked deep into my eyes and said, ‘I think we need to take a break. I need to concentrate on my career.’ WHAM!

“I was devastated. Mom tried to comfort me and promised that I was going to be OK. She obviously didn’t see him as a threat at any stop of the way. Mom encouraged friendships with people like George Michael, Michael Jackson, and John Travolta, because I believe she was impressed by their genuinely sweet natures as well as their level of fame. These were the types of more gentle male friends who loved my mom and did not pose a threat to her.

“I went back to my new place just off campus and cried myself to sleep for weeks. But my sophomore year went by and I finally got over George.”

***

Sweet story, isn’t it? Shields has many other entertaining stories to tell, and I must say, her insights are often impressive – she is definitely much more than an exceptionally pretty face :)

How New Year’s Resolutions Weaken Our Resolve

It’s the first of January again, and all over the world, people are making personal resolutions for 2018. Amazing what a date can do, isn’t it? Millions of humans scattered around the globe, all simultaneously attempting to better their lives by altering their own behavior in positive ways. For many, a new year offers an incentive, a reason to push towards self-improvement or greater satisfaction with one’s life and one’s being. And what better day to feel as if you’re starting over than New Year’s Day? It’s a day of reflection on the year gone by and on the year yet to come. It’s a day in which to consider whether we’re moving towards the goals we’ve set for ourselves, or whether we need to change the paths we’re on in order to come closer to achieving them. And the making of resolutions is perhaps the vital final step of this process, because there’s little point in evaluating the state of our lives if we don’t then utilize our conclusions to bring us one step closer to happiness.

The trouble with the New Year’s resolution is that, by its very nature, it doesn’t take effect until after the end of the current year. And in a backhanded way, this encourages us to wait to act upon our resolve. We don’t exercise in December because we’ve decided to get in shape after the holidays. We don’t quit smoking in October because, without the motivation of the New Year’s resolution, we’re afraid we’ll fail. We don’t start tucking money away in August for that dream vacation we’ve always wanted to take, because there’s school clothes shopping to do, and then the holidays are coming up, and once again, we’ve postponed that project to another year. And then what happens when we, as we inevitably must, fail to keep some of those resolutions we made in so much earnest? We wait again. We try again – the following year. How much of our lives are wasted waiting for this imaginary turning point to roll around so that we can make those changes we believe are so vital to our well-being and sense of fulfillment?

This is the core of the problem with marking time in our lives by special occasions – it causes us to neglect all of the everyday occasions that would have served us equally as well in helping us to attain our goals. Maybe your sweetheart expects you to present her with flowers on Valentine’s Day, but she’ll be much more impressed by the bouquet you bring in November. Chocolate cake is sweeter when it’s not baked on your birthday. Why wait until New Year’s Eve to have a beer and hang out with your friends? Won’t your mom be more pleased if you call her in March just to chat, then if you wait until May to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day?

I don’t ever want to wait until January 1st to change my life. I might want to quit my job on July the 15th, or start writing a book on September the 24th. It doesn’t need to be the first of the year or the first of the month before I decide to move forward with my resolutions; any given Monday will do. I’ll derive just as much joy from turning my life around at 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon in June, as at midnight on a Sunday in January.

So that is my New Year’s resolution. Never again to wait for a new year to arrive before I make my resolve. Never again to pretend that January will be soon enough for me or my life to change. It isn’t.

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