Good news: A couple of days before Christmas I received word that Counterpoint, the press that published The Glen Rock Book of the Dead in 2008, will bring out a companion volume in the late fall of 2018. Like its predecessor, The Baltimore Book of the Dead is named for the place where it is being composed and will contain about 60 brief portraits of people who have died, all who have crossed my path in one way or another. (While it will contain some allusions to the terrible violence we have suffered in the city in recent years, it will not be the focus of the book.) I could not be happier about this much-wished-for turn of events and have spent the past two and a half months traveling in the world of the departed. Now I will spend several more.
I’ve been reluctant to tell the story below: it’s too embarrassing, even for a blurter like me. However, I just read that one of the secondary dangers of being scammed is that the victim feels so much shame about falling for the con that they are unwilling to talk about it, leading to depression and PTSD. So spill I shall.
As soon as I heard about Hurricane Harvey, I started worrying about the animals. The ones tied up in backyards, the ones waiting on roofs, the ones peering out attic windows. I hoped it would go better for them than it did in 2005 when according to the Louisiana SPCA, tens of thousands of pets died.
For Vince’s 27th birthday, his longtime girlfriend Shannon decided to throw a surprise party. Shannon is a gorgeous blonde and a smart cookie too, but her real superpower is worrying. She can worry ordinary people under the table. As you might imagine, planning a surprise party gave her some material. Whom to invite, and how many, and is this everyone? Can they all keep a secret? Might Vince find out some other way? Let’s say it comes off — does he even want a surprise party? Vince can be a crank. As one of his friends recently pointed out, Shannon is “the only person Vince is actually nice to.” Where to have it, what to serve, how much is all this going to cost?
A couple of months ago, as we were stuffing our blocks into the cubbies after a yoga class, a woman I saw frequently but knew only as “the short one with the beautiful blond hair” introduced herself. Alex Hewett is one of the producers of the Baltimore/DC chapter of Mortified, a show where adults present diaries, letters and other archival materials from their childhoods. She wondered if maybe I, or some of my students, would be interested in performing.
Big news: My son got married last week, and now I have a daughter-in-law. I have lucked out in this department. Maria is a formidable person with beauty, brains and a lovely family hailing from the country of Ecuador. I often describe her as “the younger, prettier Penelope Cruz.” She is bilingual, she is doing her residency in orthodontics at Harvard, she is sweet and has a lot of really cute dresses. In general, she is a pretty upscale specimen of the human race.
For about a year now I’ve been feeling the pain of my empty nest, though it will not actually occur until the fall of 2018.
In the spring of that year, I will turn 60. That’s pretty much fine with me. Listen, by the time you get to the end of a decade, 28, 29, 38, 39, 48, 49, it’s like, enough already, let’s just get on with it. Thirty and forty were good for me. Fifty was a new beginning if nothing else– my mother died, my marriage died, my first generation of kids hit the road, and I left the boondocks of south-central PA for beautiful downtown Roland Park.