Yes ladies and gentleman, today I went out into the wild world to garner material, and also to do some errands that were overdue. Here are the highlights:


I went to the Monument Store. You know the one (yup). I was helped by the same very knowledgable, matter of fat fact woman. She is still quite helpful and quite enormous. I still wondered where she finds shirts that fit her.


I ordered up a grave marker for my mom. You may be wondering, “But lisa, didn’t your mom die in 2005?” And you would be right. She did die in October of 2005. Need I remind you that, first of all, it was late in 2005. Secondly (a nod to my mom who hated me to say ‘second of all’) I left this task to one of my sisters who shall remain nameless but whose name rhymes with Erin,and who was unable to complete it. Thirdly, I’m just barely getting by managing my own life, so get off my case. Lastly, I was busy managing her estate and her unimaginably complex and weird survivors.

But when my grandpa called inquiring if we needed help with paying for a marker because he had been to the plot and there was no marker, well, things got more urgent and done adequately was better than stunningly un-done. Nothing like a little shame to light a fire under my butt.

It’s going to have my mom’s name (her born name, maiden name), Susan Elizabeth Dunn, her birth year and the year of her death. It will have a celtic tree of life inscribed into it on the front face, and the names of all 4 kids and 11 grandkids on the back.


I’m seeking advice on a couple of things, because the final text is changeable for the next week or so:

First, is the maiden name thing OK? She never changed her name back from her second husband’s name, and never took her third husband’s name, so it seems weird to put either of those. Am I breaking any big taboo by reverting to her maiden name?

Second, we planned to put “Mom and Grandma to” …. And all the names, but she was Daughter, Sister, Wife, Friend, Mom and Grandma, so is it too busy to put all those things? I went with just mom and grandma because that was typical, but the other things were just as important. Any opinions from those who know us or those who don’t? This is where comments would be really appropriate.

So there is the Monumental Errand. Done mostly.

Next, I had to try to find a sunscreen that won’t give me zits. Another part of aging that sneaked up on me is the fact that my face doesn’t tan any more. It splotches. As if someone smacked me with a henna teabag on the forehead. So I’ve taken to wearing a hat with a wide brim almost everywhere. And I’m no longer young enough to make it a statement. I’m just another middle aged woman in a hat. I might even qualify as officially eccentric.

The guy who cut my hair said shell out the dough and go to the department store cosmetics counter (something I am loathe to do) and ask for a good sunscreen that won’t give you zits. He was right, of course, because at Herbergers they will take back your sunscreen if you don’t like it, unlike Walgreens. I got some stuff, and I’ll get back to you about if it is zitless, but let me tell you about the woman who helped me. My God! The real world is interesting.

Young woman, in her late 20s, lots of make-up. Dressed all in black, capri leggings and fishnets stockings, over high heels, with a black lab-coat thing over it all. This is all pretty standard. But when Iasked her about a good sunscreen that won’t give me zits on my face, she looked at me and started to talk about what might work for my skin type. Every time I looked up, she was looking at my neck, which I took to be some sort of make-up counter trick she had been taught about calculating skin type. It made me a little worried about how my neck looked, but that was fleeting.

She had me follow behind her wobbly heeled-fishneted self to a different counter, and then she leaned over the counter and said, “Do you think it ‘s the titanium zinc oxide that is making your skin react?” I’ve forgotten the actual substance she said, because this time when I looked at her, I realized with a very disturbed sensation that she was (get this) Still Looking At My Neck! Or maybe it was my shoulder, but it was never, in fact, my face.

For the rest of my distracted description of what I wanted in a sunscreen (sun blockage and no zits), I kept trying to catch her eye. She never waivered from looking at my neckish-shoulder area. She smiled and furrowed her brow at all the right places in the conversation. Her posture was attentive. She just never looked me in the eye. Never.


In case you don’t know. When you talk to people there is a standard polite way to make eye-contact. Babies know it. Children know it. Make-up counter women are almost always good at it. No one has to tell you to make better eye-contact, for the most part. Too much, and it makes people nervous and intimidated, too little they get nervous and suspicious. Although I recently read that men love lots of eye contact from women.

We’ll set aside Native American cultures and the Orient for the sake of this discussion. No let’s not. Even in those cultures, you either look down, averting your gaze, or you make fleeting eye contact. There is no culture in the world where the right thing is to look at the other person’s neck. None. Shoulders? No. Chest? Only in the bar scene.

And let me tell you, there are only three possibilities here. Either I had something horrible on my neck (believe me, I checked), she had some sort of brain disorder, or she was doing a college research project on how people react when you stare at their neck. I bought my 30 dollar sunscreen, which was tinted, even though I said I wanted un-tinted, and got the hell out of there. She came over, cocked her head and smiled at my neck and said, “do you wear lipgloss?” offering me a free sample. I didn’t look at the color,didn’t blink, “Yes. Yes I do. Thanks.” Damn it was disturbing.

I do feel a little tricked, because now I have tinted sunscreen with an SPF of 15, when I wanted a clear one with an spf of 30, but what the hell. I’m not sure I’m willing to go back. When I asked if I could return the stuff she was suggesting, she said, “Oh yeah, I’m the manager of this counter, just ask for me.” Brutal.

Twenty Years?

On PBS there is going to be a new program about aging. My favorite quote is from Dick Cavett. He says, “I don’t feel like an old man. I feel like a young man who’s got something wrong with him.” It resonates with me. And Dick’s old. He had his own show before I was born. If he doesn’t ‘feel’ old, is there any hope for me?

My twenty year high school reunion is tonight. The class of 1987 from the Academy of the Holy Angels will meet tonight at Kieran’s Irish Pub. I can’t escape the feeling that I am just acting like someone who is due for their 20 year reunion. But inside, I know I’m not what people think of as an attendee of a 20 year reunion. Why?

Might be because it seems like yesterday that I was on the hot lawn at Holy Angels in my white graduation robe. Like just a little while ago that I was telling myself that my 20 year reunion would be upon me in no time. I was really thinking that. I was thinking that the next 20 years would go by by accident while I was making to-do lists and eating breakfast.

Somehow I thought that knowing in advance would help with the shock. My logic went like this: “Holy shit! I’m graduating! When did that happen? Aren’t I still 7? Or 10? Oh my gosh, they weren’t kidding when they said time would fly by. That means that my twenty year reunion will sneak up on me in the same way. Nope. I see it coming.” I sort of felt like I was pretending to be a graduating, college bound senior, but I intended to keep better pace with my inner me from now on.

Is there a stage where you feel just as old as you are? Once you are done being a kid, I mean.

All you graduating seniors out there, let me tell you something: You will not be prepared for any reunions. The 5 year takes forever to arrive and the 20 year is only minutes after that. Except that in those intervening minutes things happen to you. Things that make you take your eye off the ball. The ball being your 10, 15, 20 year reunion. Yes, Cinderella, you will must keep your eye on the ball you hope to navigate tonight. The fairy godmother of time is sneaky and mean.
And even if you do keep your eye on the ball, by the time it arrives, your ass may have transformed into a 50 pound pumpkin (honky-tonk-badonkadonk meets bibbity-bobbitty booty). Your concave stomach and prominent hip-bones may have retreated under 20 years worth of leftovers.

Just as you walk through the door you may realize that your prancing stallions are back to mousy sedans or minivans. Your spouse may take on a decidedly lizard-like appearance and your kids may or may not develop rat-tails.
Your dainty little feet will have developed cracks, callouses and collapsed arches that make glass slippers everywhere cower and skitter backwards. Your skin may have started to do things you hadn’t anticipated. Like develop age spots, cherry spots and random bumps. And on top of all that, 20 years scrubbing the floors mayb have left you with (check this out) saggy knees. Nobody tells you about saggy knees.

Finding a ball gown that fits and flatters will be an ordeal, but Fairy Godmother will have bestowed upon you the mixed blessing of the return of your favorite teenage fashion to popularity.

It might not sneak up on you if you make sure to think about your impending reunion every day. I’m just kidding. It will still sneak up on you. The best I’ve been able to do is remember that I didn’t love myself enough when I was 7 or 10 or 17 or 25 or 30. Either my boobs were too small, my hair too fine, my skin too fair, my mind too disorganized, my mouth too big, my legs too hairy… It’s always something. It isn’t getting better, but I’m clearly able to see that I’d better love it now, because midnight is always just around the corner. Yikes.

Zachary Jophes Morgan

Zach Smile

My oldest son graduated tonight. This is important for a number of reasons, and I think it deserves a small testament. It seems like the closest thing we have to a rite of passage. I’m proud enough to make this an open letter.

Dear Little Friend Zach,

From the moment I knew I was pregnant, from the time I suspected I was pregnant, I loved you. I imagined you. I apologized for dragging you out of the ether into the now, and for not feeling joy at your existence. I was terrified and amazed at what we had done.

Your dad and I were firmly convinced that we weren’t ready for making a family. We decided we wanted to give you up for adoption. It was the option that seemed to make the most sense. It seemed mature and generous; reasoned and sane. But oh, my god, the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth that ensued when we broke the news to our families.

It wasn’t like I had imagined. They were gnashing and wailing and beating their chests at the thought of giving you away. You were theirs as much as ours, it seemed. And reason didn’t factor in quite so much. What a hard couple weeks those were while we discussed what to do. Your grandmas begging. Grandpas offering unconditional assistance but behind the scenes encouraging the grandmas.

They won. We agreed. But decided we didn’t think we could handle trying to raise a baby while I lived at home. I moved into an apartment at 2216 Harriet with your dad. I was 8 months pregnant. You were growing, wiggling and healthy in my belly. I gained almost 40 pounds. I was19 when you were born. You created a family. If there was no you, there almost certainly would have been no Holly Avenue Morgans.


You were the dream baby. Easygoing and happy. Alert and active. You’d sleep anywhere. All you needed to be comfy was a diaper service diaper to hold, and a pacifier. You were everybody’s baby. While I finished school, Grandparents provided daycare, aunties and uncles doted, and Dad went to work.

Now you’re big. Bigger than me, bigger than Dad. And strong.

I’ve been thinking. I was always worried about spoiling my kids, so I think sometimes I overcompensated by being critical and tough. This happens to me with people I love. I saw you through a filter of love, love, love, but I worried that other people wouldn’t know. That they’d see you do something stupid, arrogant, mean or lazy and judge you based on only that. So character flaws and mistakes jumped out at me and I may have spent more time correcting than cooing.

I also tend to be emotive. I think I overcompensated by not heaping praise and affection on you. You didn’t help the cause by pushing away from almost the first day you were born, so you could see the world. Now that you’re taller than me and covered with unsightly man-hair, I have to steal hugs. I hope you don’t mind, and that you hug me back some day.
So now it’s time for me to say some of those lovey dovey things you probably don’t care to hear. But later you might, so save this letter.

I’d like to say thanks, I’m sorry, I’m proud, I love you, you’re beautiful and I wish you well.

I’m sorry for the times I lost my temper. I’m sorry I put your grandparents through the thought of you being shipped off (open adoptions were not de rigueur). I’m sorry for the day that the you got stuck on the wrong bus and your tummy felt like mashed potatoes. I’m sorry the squirrel you brought home in your arms had a broken back and had to die. I’m sorry the squirrel we watched fall out of the tree at Gramma’s house, and land on my car had to die, but proud that you were willing to help him along gently.

I’m sorry I couldn’t stop girls from breaking your heart, bullies from breaking your spirit and depression from breaking your stride. Sorry Ezra isn’t your friend anymore. Sorry that while you were a young teenager you forgot how to laugh and smile for a while and dad and I couldn’t remind you. Sorry your kindergarten teacher didn’t like kids.

I’m sorry your gramma had to die on you. She loved you best, because she always felt like you were actually hers. You weren’t. But until there was Bailey, there was you. I’m sorry you loved her, but not sorry. I’m proud that when she was dying, you were old enough to understand, young enough to cry. Man enough for the crying to break you and whole enough to recover. Call me crazy, but one of my proudest and saddest moments was watching you sit by what was left of my mom and your gramma, fold your tall self over and lean your head on her arm and cry.

Thanks for coming up to my room or searching me out to tell me about your day. Thanks for noticing the neighbor boys, for liking them even though they were little and you were big, and reporting their cutitudes to me. Thanks for having me cut your hair. Thanks for laughing until you cried at my puns and stories.

Thanks for choosing The Land Before Time as your favorite movie and wanting to watch it every day while I made dinner (“many things do not fly” being a quote from that very movie). Thanks for being nice to the retarded guy in the neighborhood. Thanks for bringing baby animals home and for dumpster diving.

I always worried that I’d never be able to have fun with my kids. Enjoy their company and have them enjoy mine. So much of parenting is drudgery and every-dayness. Whining, commands, reminders and bickering. Thanks for the times when we both laughed so hard we cried and our sides got stitches. You can’t imagine the relief that washed over me the first time that happened.

I love you and wish you well. I’m glad you’ll be close. I hope you feel comfortable visiting unannounced, unbidden as you were when you showed up 18 years ago. Know you can always come back (but the chore list will get progressively longer if you seem to be getting too comfy). I love you.


Zach says he’s going to move out in July. I wish him well, and I will miss him. Really.

My New Career

Thanks to my “always thinkin” brother in law Trevor, I have found my calling. My sister forwarded me an email from him that linked to a website that has changed my life. I have decided to use this site as inspiration for some of my own writings. I am going to write about some eating adventures I will have. This is something I have enjoyed doing (eating and drinking strange and disgusting things) for a long time, it just never occurred to me to write about it.

Steve hasn’t actually written about any good ‘donteatits’ for a good while. Maybe he’s burned out. I plan to contact him and ask for his blessing. I would appreciate any letters of recommendation from people who have been around when I tried things that were truly ish.

I am looking for a partner in this venture. Someone with guts and nerves of steel and who is willing to try new things, even if, especially if they’re icky. Someone who might want to write about the experience afterwords. Steve lit the torch, now it’s my turn to take it and carry it for as long as I can stand. I’m all over it. Who’s in with me?

I would like to present my resume and qualifications for the position of the new don’t eat it guy. They are as follows:

  • I ate Cuy ( it up.
  • I tried all flavors of the Jones Turkey Dinner flavored pops, including gravy and brussel sprout.
  • Andy’s stepmom, Daniela always brings back salty licorice candies from hell, oops I mean from Amsterdam. One of my favorite pastimes (and I am not kidding. This is so fun) has been to get someone I love and each of us take turns trying from the sampler packs. There is nothing funnier to me than someone I love spitting black salty drool into the trash. Unless it’s the wounded look some get after mistakenly swallowing.
  • I ate squirrel jerky once, no twice.
  • I drank army worm wine (which tastes a lot like really bad grape wine, without the grapes).
  • I have eaten on more than one occasion, a dish called anticuchos, which is Peruvian. It is essentially marinated, skewered, grilled beef heart, eaten with a cilantro parsley sauce. Beef heart is pretty much like beef leg or beef rump. It tastes like moo. But the heart is much chewier and denser. Something like chicken gizzards, which I used to eat all the time, by the way.
  • My favorite part of the Turkey is the neck. I don’t know if this qualifies, but lots of people seem to get gaggy when I bring it up.

If I come up with new memories of things crude and scary, I will share them with you.