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Sunday, May 29, 2011

A soldier’s homecoming: a wrong turn toward a right moment

New blog entry:


. . .

I wasn’t feeling so accomplished as I exited the wrong side of the airport and made my way back toward the other side. The one I wished I’d known existed when I checked in.

I felt downright grumbly until I caught sight of bunches of U.S.-flag themed balloons, and saw a gaggle of people holding a banner reading “WELCOME HOME!” I saw those and thought, aw. This is what a soldier’s homecoming looks like!

Li’l D and I made it to the top of the security ramp when I said, “This is pretty neat!” to the TSA employee stationed at the doorway.

“Yep, a soldier’s coming back from Afghanistan today!”

I turned back around just in time to see a young man in business attire be interrupted by a tearful, full-body hug. I shared the hugger’s tears and thought, I am so freakin’ glad I messed up just right to be able to witness this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Magically Mackerifick

New blog entry:
Colorado, here we come!


Soon, there shall be better Mackorah pictures to share! (What, you really think "Bennifer" is better?)

Tomorrow I’ll bundle up my precious toddler, Li’l D, and board a plane to Colorado. You see, I’ve found a portal to a perfect world, but it’s only open to two people for a five-minute window on Friday . . .

I’m sure you’ve already seen the flaw in this tale, but I’ll spell it out just in case you haven’t had your coffee yet: Another world couldn’t exclude you and still be perfect!

It sure as heck couldn’t count itself as perfect if it didn’t involve my dear friendMackenzie, who’s the actual reason for my Colorado trip.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Accountability, activate!

New blog entry:
Trying to do the healthy thing

Let me tell you a little story about accountability.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Deborah. That girl had some stomach problems that she didn’t realize were problems, until her fairy godmother stepped in and said: “Deborah, you have ulcers. We’re going to kill off this ulcer-giving bacteria and help you keep the reflux it’s caused in check! We’ll do this with a wave of my magic wand!”

OK, so that girl was me. The “fairy godmother” was really my doctor. The magic wand? A prescription pad. Same idea.

Like many fairy godmothers, my doctor’s magic came with caveats: There are still some things you must do to ensure this magic keeps working!

I heeded her advice fervently, for at least 33 hours. I’m nothing if not a willpower machine.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

one of those hideous books where the mother dies

New blog entry:
my response to this very un-hideous book

I picked [one of those hideous books where the mother dies] up this afternoon intending to read a couple of pages. I flipped it open and cringed when I saw it was written in what appeared to be verse. (Yes, the book’s blurb should have been a hint.) I nevertheless figured I shouldn’t dismiss it before trying it.

And wouldn’t you know it, it was love at first verse. The story begins as its protagonist, Ruby, is being taken away from her old life in Boston and toward her new one in Los Angeles:

American Airlines Flight 161

I’m not that depressed
considering that this
gigantic silver bullet with wings
is blasting me away from my whole entire life,
away from Lizzie Brody,
my best friend in the world,
away from Ray Johnston,
my first real boyfriend.

It continues to describe how she’s been “kidnapped by this monstrous steel pterodactyl” and away from her mother’s newly filled grave. It does so in such a simultaneously heartfelt, funny and reflective way that I instantly wanted to adopt Ruby myself. Failing that, all I could do was dive in and share her journey with her.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A woman's strength

New blog entry:
"I used to believe girls not my sisters were untrustworthy."

What makes a strong female protagonist? Is it her sexy curve-hugging leather garb? Her knack for downing a half-dozen opponents with her sword, all in the same amount of time it takes for you to reach for another mug of coffee? Or is it her snark as she tells the bad guys just how little she’s fazed by their mediocre-at-best badness?

Picture a strong woman you know. What is it that makes her strong? Is it the way she kicks butt physically, or is it something else?

If you’re like me, physical ass-kicking capacity might be a part of the strength of some women you know. In such cases, it’s likely also not the determinative strength.

No, it’s not the physicality that makes the strength. So what is it?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paying it forward, blogger-style

New blog entry:
Blog entries that moved me


Throughout my life, I’ve correlated the words “belong to a community” with “death of individuality.” Becoming part of the virtual blogging community has helped me understand that community is actually enhanced by the unique attributes of its members. It’s no more a destroyer of individuality than is, say, the tooth fairy.

Last Friday, Chris at From the Bungalow shared a couple of my entries in his Paying It Forward entry. Now it’s my turn to pay it forward by sharing with you some entries that have enlightened, enriched or tickled me–or, in some cases, done all three!

I love being part of a community that encompasses these beautiful minds, and many others not on this list that I’m no less moved by.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dow gobba gesk to you, too!

New blog entry:
On watching my little one learn the power of words


Airplane. Awesome! Chopper. No! Gabba. Mine!

What do these words have in common? They’re my 19-month-old son’s favorite words right now.

Every day, I’m delighted to hear my son, Li’l D, learn and use more words. Most of these are nouns, but occasionally they express more abstract concepts like feelings. En route to visit his dad last week, for example, he exclaimed loudly and repeatedly how “happy!” he was.

I was a little surprised to turn around two minutes later and find him fast asleep. Apparently being happy is a seriously “seepy”-making endeavor!

Once in a while, he’ll put words together into more complex ideas. He’s been using his first two-word sentence (“It’s hot!”) for a few months, but his first three-word sentence popped up about two months ago. Li’l D simultaneously signed and said: “Mo peaz, mama!” (“More please, mama!”)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It probably shouldn't take a rabbi . . .

New blog entry:
Reflections on the power of words

I tried addressing my discomfort in a follow-up to my road rage entry. As my friend Mack thoughtfully informed me, that draft didn’t come anywhere close to Worthsavingsville. I nevertheless giggle at this excerpt from it:


Guilty Deb: Wait, how do you know he’s a raging douchebag? Maybe his wife’s in the hospital. Maybe he needs to get to her as fast as possible and he’s usually the gentlest, givingest person in the whole world and I just called him a douchebag for one errant action borne of dire circumstance.

Aggro Deb: That would be a pretty asshole thing to do. I like it.

Guilty Deb: I don’t want you to like it! Maybe I should have just said that specific cut-off was douche-y. Then it’s about an action, not him.

Aggro Deb: So boring. Did I mention, who cares?

Guilty Deb: I still can’t believe I just called that poor wife-rescuer a douchebag.

Aggro Deb: I love it when you’re bad.

As part of writing that ill fated entry, I emailed my rabbi and asked his take on the question of hurtful words. I asked, “Are they still hurtful if no one is around to hear them?”

Rabbi Moskowitz replied:

Jewish tradition teaches that motzi shem ra injures three people: the one about whom it is spoken; the one who hears it; and the one who speaks it. In that sense, even if the third party (the speaker) is the only one present, the tree has fallen, the report is thunderous, and the spiritual and ethical environment has been injured.

Well, shoot.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Freshly Pressed

New blog entry:

Normally I'd jump straight to the excerpt (which is a middle section), but I should also note here what it means to be "Freshly Pressed." Every weekday, WordPress selects a handful of entries for publication on its main page. My last entry, "Reading While Walking," was Freshly Pressed, which led to a huge surge in vistitors!


Back in the apartment, I went straight to Sancho the Second, my trusty iMac. I checked my blog’s site stats page. “How the heck do I have 87 hits already?” I mused. “Wait . . . could it be . . . ?!”

I was in the middle of waiting for to load when I got a comment congratulating me on being Freshly Pressed.

Hellz yes!” I shouted. I ran back to the bedroom, where Ba.D. was reading to Li’l D.

“Can I get a high five?! No, wait! I need a high ten!”

Ba.D. assented, then gave me another high ten when one proved unsatisfactory. “What the heck am I giving you ten for?”

I wasn’t ready to answer yet. I ran around the bedroom whooping and hollering, which led even my feverish son to giggle and shriek with delight.

After I’d mostly gotten it out of my system, I went back to the living room, calling back to Ba.D. an explanation of what it meant to be Freshly Pressed. “Congrats!” he hollered at me while our son continued to giggle at his crazy mom’s antics.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reading While Walking

New blog entry:
Readwalking: art, science, madness?


If you’ve ever seen someone reading while walking (“readwalking”), you might’ve made any number of reasonable assumptions:

  • They’re reading a really good book
  • They’re probably lacking a little in safety consciousness
  • They spend a lot of time walking every day and have realized that reading while walking maximizes their reading time
  • They spend a lot of time taking care of day-to-day life and realized that reading while walking (the dog) maximizes their reading time

Most of the folks who’ve approached me about my readwalking habit have assumed there’s a direct correlation between the awesomeness of a book and my readwalking: “Wow, that must be a fantabulous book!” Numerous times in my youth, I’d smile and reply, “No, this book is actually pretty awful. I hope the next one’s better!” Then I’d bury my nose in my book and continue on my merry way.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A mother's wish for Mother's Day

New blog entry:


Every day, each of us passes by countless strangers. To us, each of these people is simply “stranger,” but to someone else, they are mother, son, sister, professor, paramedic, any number of important, beautiful things.

Stop and think about it. That waiter you just chewed out for bringing you back a burger with onions when you specifically said “no onions”? Someone’s only son. The cashier you almost made cry by calling her manager when she gave you back a one-dollar bill instead of a ten-dollar bill? Someone’s mom.

All these people around us? They’re not just extras in each of our own life’s films. They’re features in their own lives, trying to break their way out of surviving and into living.

Sometimes the strangers around you will become an intrinsic part of your life. In my mom’s case, a lady who stopped by her garage sale and chatted with her for several hours one day became–through entirely different workings of fate or coincidence–mother-in-law to my just-younger sister, Rachael. That same lady, several years later, would be like an angel in my mom’s last days:

Jeanne held Mom’s hand. When Jeanne said it was time to go, Mom said, “Can I hold on just a little longer?” Jeanne smiled with her incomparable warmth, crouched down, and said, “Of course.” And Mom admitted for the first time, “There’s so much I want to do, but I just can’t get up.” ♥ Jeanne’s loving presence.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Between Crossing Jordan & Alias

New blog entry:
"I'm not a goth, but I played one on TV."


Look at my Gravatar. Imagine it were the only picture you’d ever seen of me. How would you respond if I told you, “I can totally do goth!” and your job were to make sure you sent the right extras to the right film jobs?

Fortunately for me, the extras casting director looked at that picture of beaming, perky Deb and said, “Well, you do have an excellent record . . .”

I was booked for Crossing Jordan for the next day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Buffy and Scrubs, MMA-style

New blog entry:
We know which would win, but which would I root for?


If Scrubs and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were contenders in an MMA championship, which show would I root for?

Trick question! I’d actually try coaxing them to going ice skating together instead.

But wait. They’re still so willful, they enter the arena anyway.

What do I do?

If you’ve read this entry, you know I’m a longtime Joss Whedon fan. Law school was basically an extended excuse for me to be an extra on Buffy (and Angel, and Firefly). Indeed, one of the most magical moments of my life so far involved me standing on Sunnydale’s Christmas-bedecked main street one November evening in 2004.

I closed my eyes to the warm breeze and thought, I am really here. Would my childhood self have ever believed she’d not only survive, but someday make it to UCLA’s School of Law? That she’d get to be some small part of something that would by then have brought her so much comfort through hard times?

Clearly, then, if I had to choose one show to reign, it’d be Buffy. Right?

I’ll never tell!

I kid, I kid. What I meant to say was, I won’t tell you yet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Trojan v. dawsaur

New blog entry:


Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. And if driving onto enemy territory to attend a book fair isn’t an “extraordinary measure,” I don’t know what is.

I shook my fist and cursed the heavens when the L.A. Times announced it was moving its annual festival of books to the University of Southern California. What have we done to deserve this?

What's even better than bookshelves? Booktubs!

After much teeth-gnashing, I admitted I’d probably end up going to the Festival of Books anyway. I reasoned there might be good Trojans who’d braved the UCLA campus for the event in previous years. If those hypothetical “good Trojans” could do it, I could do it, especially since it involved books. My son, Li’l D, already loves his books, but I want to do anything I can to strengthen this love.

Thus it was that on Saturday, I met up with Li’l D’s aunties Sarah and T on USC’s campus. The aunties spent several minutes racing around after my little sprinter, following which T swept him up onto her shoulders and graciously accepted his attempts to eat her braids. (We could have avoided this by putting him in a stroller, if only I’d actually remembered to bring one!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The lightness of remembering well

New blog entry:
Remembering Mom

Yesterday, my sister Rachael and brother-in-law Nick ran a marathon in our mom’s memory. Today, I meant to tell you all about how I spent yesterday morning compulsively checking my phone for text messages from my youngest sister, Madeline.

I’ve since read Rachael’s response to the question, “How’d it feel?”

Plans have changed. I will simply state that I am so proud, and leave you with Rache’s beautiful words on pushing through the pain toward the lightness of remembering well: