“If I don’t read Molly Campbell’s blog, I’m grumpy no matter how much coffee I drink. What really gets me where I laugh is that she is willing to tell those things the rest of us hide. She sees someone else’s body in those three-way mirrors in the clothing store, her derriere seems to be “following her,” and she is afraid people will start describing her as “portly.” She writes about it, the rest of us go out and buy black pants and shirts with vertical stripes.”
David Lee Garrison, poet and professor, author of Sweeping the Cemetery 

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This is me. I am wearing a mask, because fifty percent of the people in this ER are either almost dead, look like they are already dead, or they are coughing loudly. The other fifty percent drove them here.

I am with my daughter, who chose the week her husband was on a business trip to get sick. She is pale, wan, and dehydrated, but still manages to take four selfies.

I know we will be here for a long, long time. Long enough to revise my will. The word “triage” is bandied about at the front desk – in case somebody whose fever is under 102 gets any funny ideas about just how sick they are.

The woman next to us announces to no one in particular that “See, THIS is why they have flu shots, for God’s sake.”

Two people fall over. A roving nurse passes out hand sanitizer and little boxes of Kleenex. Too little, too late.

We finally get in. One bag of Lactated Ringers, coming right up. It takes exactly one hour, fifteen Tweets and three Facebook posts to empty that bag of fluids. We have been in the ER for four hours.

It helped. My daughter is feeling somewhat perky. There is a flush of pink coming into her cheeks. She smiles.

I, on the other hand, have just realized that by the time I drop her off at her house, the incubation period for something in the air tonight will have expired.

I am prepared to die.

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This is my granddaughter, Birdie. She is the most beautiful thing.

Notice the headgear. I know it ages me, but all I can think of when I look at the myriad bows and flowers her mother joyfully places on her tiny noggin is HEDDA HOPPER. Hedda was known for her flamboyant hats, and it seems to me that all of this Hollywood frippery is coming back, HOORAY! And of course, Birdie is a tiny, Hollywood gal herself.

Here is how I imagine her when she is five. A bit scrawny, with scabs on both knees. A Band-Aid on her forehead from falling off her scooter. Running shoes. A popsicle in one hand, a ripped teddy bear in the other. A rather soiled tee shirt (the park, earlier in the day), and a tutu. She hates ballet, but loves the costumes.

At ten: Soccer shorts, a grass-stained jersey, shin guards, lime green sunglasses, and at least four white plastic barrettes holding down wild, sun-bleached curls. Nail polish, each nail a different color. A backpack with polka dots.

Aged sixteen. She is almost six feet tall, and her legs seem to begin just below her chin. She wears outlandish combinations of clothes that would look odd on other teens, but on her look like a trend just about to break. She never chews gum; it gives her hiccups. Perpetually tan, she keeps a surfboard in her closet and a bathing suit in her purse. She has very short hair, because she is always in the wind, it seems, and long hair is way too labor intensive. She hums to herself most of the time. She just got the leading role in her high school production of that old chestnut, LA LA Land.

Aged twenty. She looks like her mother. Fit. Tousled bronze hair, now brushing her shoulders. She smiles readily, and like her mom, her enthusiasm knows no bounds. She loves to run, and has a hard time sitting still. And behind her left ear, most days? A flower. She has a band, and Birdie is the lead singer. She plays the tambourine.

I hope I will still be around to admire her.

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Dear Mrs. Campbell:

All of us here at CNN appreciate your concern. We know how hard it is to discern between “fake news” and the real thing these days. We understand your confusion between facts and alternate facts. As a matter of “fact,” you are the 307,9981st person to write to us about this. For your convenience, here are some guidelines we hope you might find useful when checking your Facebook and Twitter feeds, the prime source of news in America these days:


  1. If the source of the news article is “The  Idiot Damn Left,” chances are there is a 400 lb. person sitting on the bed composing that article, according to the current administration. You might want to do a bit of fact checking.
  2. Sean Spicer is not called “Spicey.” By anybody in the same room with him.
  3. The Ice Bucket challenge is over.
  4. Cutting and pasting a post about cancer and leaving it up on your feed for an hour will actually not cure anything.
  5. There are not millions of voters who rode the bus in from Central America to vote in the election.  There are no buses that run from Central America to Dayton, Ohio. The dead people are also not voting. The Walking Dead is a TV show. We know the current administration likes TV shows, so perhaps that is the source of the confusion here.
  6. An “alternative fact” is actually not a fact. The citizens of Bowling Green are all still alive as of today.


  1. If the person posting the tweet’s user name is @frigginthewhitehouse, the tweet probably has a liberal slant. If the person posting the tweet’s user name is @kellyanneRULES, you can assume that tweeter is Republican.
  2. We aren’t really sure what a “leightweight chocker” is, but apparently, Marco Rubio is one of those, according to the administration. We do know, however, that the word “honered” is actually spelled “honored.” That is a fact.
  3. If a tweet is posted by our current Commander in Chief between the hours of midnight and four a.m., we suggest you fact check it.
  4. If anyone employed by the current administration retweets it, it might be a good idea to fact check the original tweet as well.
  5. Mitch McConnell has no sense of humor. He is NOT the University of Maryland’s mascot. Those tweets are not factual. Mr. McConnell isn’t laughing.

Mrs. Campbell, our suggestion to you is to take a break from social media for awhile. The weather is nice in Ohio (yes, Global Warming does exist) despite the fact that it is February. Perhaps you might take a long walk. Try to focus on the news that isn’t confusing to you for the time being: The Clooneys are having twins! Burt Reynolds is 81! Betty White isn’t dead!

Thank you for your letter, Mrs. Campbell. We sincerely hope you feel better soon. You may have to wait four years, but in the scope of the universe, four years is just the blink of an eye.

Sincerely, the folks at CNN

NOTE: This letter is fiction. No, wait–it’s factually alternative…

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She was born, and I was there. My granddaughter. Her name is Birdie, and she is wondrous. I will never forget witnessing her birth. It was an honor.

This birth took me back to my own childbirth events,and the tumult of parenthood. The anxiety, the rushing, the fatigue. We were parents in the days of Dr. Spock. I think we thumbed through two editions, looking up crises like Coxsackievirus, croup, diaper rash, and teething. We worried about poking our babies with diaper pins. Then, MY GOD, teething, diarrhea, fevers, and vaccinations-we hated them because of the needle sticks, not autism — nobody worried about that yet.

It was as if our identities as adult humans were erased, and we became Mommy and Daddy. We even called each other that. We were consumed with legos, baby proofing, play dates, and lost booties.

Then came toddlerhood, preschool, elementary. Bullies. Those endless soccer games. Packing lunches. With two girls, as soon as they got old enough to compare, there were the constant wardrobe issues — if tights were not popular, God forbid I suggest they wear them on a cold day. Gum stuck in hair. The facts of life, inevitably brought up in conversations in restaurants, LOUDLY. Balanced meals and absolutely no junk food (sort of).

Then high school, the partying. Worries about drinking, drugs. “Condoms? The Pill? What do we do?Curfew or trust them?”

Then, they left for college. After three days of sobbing, we both looked around and said, “Hi.” We realized that all the time was free, AND IT WAS OURS. We went to movies. Cooked recipes with multiple steps. Binge watched. Forgot about “waiting up” for anybody. We didn’t need that huge car anymore!

We looked around, and Mommy and Daddy had vanished. We had ourselves back. The nest wasn’t even a nest any more; it was our house! I wrote two novels. His band had so many gigs it wasn’t even funny.

We forgot who we were for a few years. But we are back.

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Four more days. We have a target date. If all goes as planned, there will be a new baby sometime on Friday. Induced labor. This is the last weekend that little Charlie will be an “only.” We are all trying to tattoo it into our memories, but it is inevitable that in a few years, we won’t be able to remember very much about what it was like when he was the only important guy.

Freezer meals. I am making as many of them as I can. That brand new chest freezer begs to be filled. Slight problem: casseroles are not an option. This is a challenge, but I have great social media friends who have given me a long selection of other options. The shopping cart tomorrow will be groaning.

Laundry. One load a day now. Soon to be many.

Trips to preschool? I have practiced the way. But thank God for my dear friend Siri. She and I will become bosom buddies in the next couple of weeks. I have nearly memorized the four-page (single spaced) instructions that my totally organized daughter has compiled. But I may still pull an all-nighter Thursday evening, just to make sure that I have all the gate codes, home alarm procedures, and TV remote (three of them) sequences well in mind.

Grandpa arrives in a week. There is a to-do list for him as long as my arm.

This brings back so many memories. As I struggle to wrap my head around show and tell selections, whether or not to use bubble bath or that baby wash stuff, trying to decide which of the many snack selections (all organic) to put in the CARS lunch box, I think of my mother. I wonder what she thought of the lists I left her 39 years ago.

I am mainlining vitamin B.


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