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Jul. 30 2010 — 7:28 pm | 331 views | 1 recommendations | 20 comments

Waving, (Not Drowning), Good-Bye

New York, New York. Newsroom of the New York T...

Get me rewrite! Image via Wikipedia

Away I go, 900+ posts later…

Whatever will I do with all this newfound empty time?

I started blogging here July 1, 2009, quite literally shaking with fear. Who on earth would want to listen? But, bless y’all, you did.

I found 5,000 visitors by November and 10,000 every month after that; May was my best, with more than 15,000. I never attained the Olympian heights of Taibbi et al, but people showed up.

Mystery: Who are you, anyway?

For someone whose entire career, since college, has been writing for print, not knowing your audience — always tidily demographically profiled and sliced up by the ad department (like, women 18-34) — is unnerving. Really.

So I’m proud of the audience I’ve found, because 50 percent of my followers are male, 50 percent female. I’ve been told this is highly unusual for a blogger and I’m delighted.

(I was hired to blog about women, but, typical Gemini, I flitted like a drunken butterfly from one topic to another.)

I’ve enjoyed getting to know some T/S members and hearing your distinctive voices; luckily, here, it’s remained sane and thoughtful. I’ve valued your insights, wisdom and occasional shared outrage.

I treasure the international, multi-generational friendships True/Slant has brought into my life. Some I’ve already met face to face: Fran Johns, Colin Horgan, Todd Essig, Claudia Deutsch, Nancy Miller, while I look forward to meeting many others who have reached out, including Bart Brouwers, Paul Smalera, Matthew Newton, Devon Pendleton, Dawn Reiss, Fruszina Eordogh and Nick Obourn.

Scott Bowen offered advice and support throughout the writing of my book and Jerry Lanson invited me to Boston to speak to his journalism students. Fellow T/Ser Osha Gray Davidson last week chose my blog here as a “must-follow”. I will miss them all!

Ours is so often a struggling, cut-throat business, so to find a new, talented, generous posse is rare and great and so I am sad that this party is ending.

Here, I “met”, and read the work of talented writers in Bhutan, Saudia Arabia, India, Afghanistan, Rome, Tel Aviv, Moscow, Seattle, Phoenix, Lille. I found this plenitude of perspectives astonishing. Imagine my surprised delight when even PJ Tobia, another stranger to me — in Afghanistan — sent me a story idea. Such attentiveness tells me what a great crew we were.

My first life-changing year was when I won an eight-month fellowship in Paris with 28 journos, ages 25 to 35, from 19 countries. It was the happiest year of my professional life and I remain friends, decades later, with some of them.

In its many similarities to that experience, True/Slant comes in as the second-best.

The dirty secret — as the old-news veterans know — is that very few real-time newsrooms are ever as fun, funny or collegial as this one was. There are way too many Big Egos, too much gossip, an editor who hates you, a thwarted promotion. Here, we enjoyed a level playing field and cool, supportive colleagues. Bliss.

A thank-you to Coates Bateman and Michael Roston, to Lewis, Andrea and Steve — and for allowing the unusual, editorially undisturbed fermentation that produced that unique and special True/Slant fizz.

A special merci beaucoup! to Katie Drummond, a fellow Canadian jock in NY, for recruiting me.


I’m revising my second book “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” (Portfolio, spring 2011) and pitching my usual clients like The New York Times. I’m thrilled to be a speaker at a major retail conference in September, where I’ll be addressing executives from some of industry’s key players. I’ll be doing it on crutches (the lousy hip) but figure it will win me a shred or two of sympathy.

Vegas on crutches….sounds like a blog post to me!

You can find Broadside here starting next week and I hope you’ll keep reading, and spreading the word if you like what you find.

As a a fulltime freelancer, I’m always looking for new, profitable and interesting gigs. Feel free to drop me a line through my website, (or find me on Facebook,) where you’ll find my email address and current work/activities.

“One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time.”

— Herman Hesse

Jul. 30 2010 — 8:35 am | 98 views | 0 recommendations | 8 comments

Nope, Not Yet, Dammit

I will not yet say goodbye.

Sentimental old fool, yes. Also — technophobic. Have to sit down and figure out how to migrate Broadside somewhere else; one T/Ser says “easy” another said, not. Don’t have time today, maybe late tonight. Definitely tomorrow because the T/S curtain goes down and who knows what happens after that?

Sort of like moving baby sea turtles.

All these damn goodbyes are killing me.

Off to the city for distraction.

Jul. 29 2010 — 10:04 am | 249 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

She Killed Eight Of Her Babies — And The Husband Had No Clue

Sleep Like A Baby

Image by peasap via Flickr

This is the story in France right now, with the BBC reporting there are already 40 journalists in the tiny rural town of Villers-au-Tertre, near the Belgian border.

The woman, a nurse in her 40s who has two daughters and grand-children, confessed to killing eight of her own babies between 1989 and 1996, but only two corpses have been found at their current home. Police suspect she might have brought the other corpses with her when they moved in.

The woman, mordbidly obese, managed to keep every pregnancy secret from her husband.

Not sure if this story is more a cautionary tale against morbid obesity or abortion versus infanticide.

Jul. 28 2010 — 10:25 pm | 91 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

What I Found Behind The Fridge

The Lovely Fridge

Image by shrff via Flickr

Because that’s how I live….a handwritten note from the year 2000 from Jean Harris, legendary for shooting and killing her lover, the famed inventor of the Scarsdale Diet. I had written to her asking her for an interview for my book about women and guns.

She wrote me back, hand-written in blue ink on her personal stationery, to say she would not participate: “Since leaving prison, [prisoners'] children are the center of my concern — the future, not the past. The future can still be touched, maybe even changed. The past is over.”

I hadn’t moved the fridge since I moved in 20-something years ago. A new one moves into its spot tomorrow after the carpenters cut the counter and cupboards to fit it.

We bought a sexy new fridge this week, a Fisher & Paykel — which I will also enjoy using because I wrote about that company when I was in Auckland in 1998 writing a feature about the value of sponsoring major yacht races, as they did for the Volvo round the world race, (then called the Whitbread.)

This is likely my penultimate T/S post. I am hating this week, frankly. I hate endings and goodbyes. I’ve been on the phone and FB and email with some of my T/S pals, Claudia Deutsch and Nancy Miller and Fran Johns and Jeff McMahon, even Paul Smalera, who left in March when he got a great online editing job. I hope to be working with him soon as a freelancer.

I will miss this community’s easy camaraderie, for all the “independent” journalist party line. Independence gets lonely.

I’ll post tomorrow night where this blog is migrating.

Jul. 27 2010 — 6:14 pm | 68 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be An Old Woman

The United Colors of an Old Woman

Image by pedrosimoes7 via Flickr

I live in an apartment building that is, frankly, something of an old age home — filled with people in their 70s, 80s and 90s. There are days I weary of gray hair and halting gaits, but I have also learned to appreciate the deep value of role models, especially of older women living, well, alone.

My theme song is this, a rockabilly anthem to feisty female old age, from a 1988 album by Michelle Shocked.

I’m thinking of this because one of our building’s two cool 96-year-olds, one of whom lives on my floor, was taken to the hospital by ambulance yesterday. She’s got brilliant blue eyes, thick white hair, and a spirit so lively and outgoing we all love her. I’m praying for her.

The other, on my floor, is wealthy, a bit of a grande dame. She lives in a three-bedroom apartment with a live-in helper. (Money is a wonderful, necessary adjunct to a decent, solitary [even shared] old age.) She wears fab clothes, keeps a fresh manicure, comes down to the pool, even with a walker.

Most women, statistically, will outlive their husbands or male partners. We have to be ready, in every way, to survive — and thrive — on our own.

But I also treasure Marie, 80, on my floor. She’s still married. She wears an immaculate bouffant pompadour hairdo, dresses with style and had a male stripper for her 80th. I asked her in the elevator one day — she’s OK with this sort of directeness — “How old are you, anyway?” I thought, maybe, late 60s.

I feel too fragile these days because of my aching, injured hip. When I watch these women soldiering along, finding new beaux, slapping on the mascara and nail polish and a smile, heading out for dinner with their girlfriends, I’m glad I don’t live surrounded by 20 or 30-somethings, slick and invulnerable.

These ladies are survivors. I hope to be one, too.

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    About Me

    Former reporter and feature writer for the Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette and the New York Daily News. Winner of a Canadian National Magazine Award (humor) about -- what else -- my divorce. I've been writing frequently for The New York Times since 1990 on almost any subject you can think of -- yup, I'm a generalist. Author of "Blown Away: American Women and Guns" (Pocket Books 2004). Canadian born, raised and formally educated, I've lived in New York since 1989.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 249
    Contributor Since: June 2009
    Location:NYC suburb

    What I'm Up To


    I’m writing my second book, a memoir for Portfolio/Penguin, of working retail in a suburban mall for more than two years. My 11 Reporting Tips from daily newspaper veterans appears in the May issue of The Writer magazine.

    I also coach fellow writers and edit their work.