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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

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This week saw me doing something I don't do well and enduring it twice:  hosting parties.  The first one was a book launch at home for a close friend of the last 30 years.  My friend is Laurie Burrows Grad, a prolific cookbook author and now explainer of widowdom:  https://www.amazon.com/Jokes-Over-You-Come-Back/dp/1981137866/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528413372&sr=8-1&keywords=laurie+burrows+grad. 

The second event was a memorial for my dear friend, the pioneering literary journalist Lillian Ross, who died last September at age 99. (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/sep/21/lillian-ross-obituary)

Entertaining at home means extreme decluttering -- Kondoing the condo as it were, and throwing out the unread newspaper sections I had been holding onto for a bit.  But that's not all.  I sorted all my receipts into folders according to which card I used.  I tossed out two large garbage bags' worth of stuff that I had no use for, I gave away clothes to a several friends whose styles and sizes overlap with mine.  And then I found an old-fashioned accordion file containing the original copyedited manuscript of The Official Preppy Handbook.  

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Let me talk about that.

1) My handwriting hasn't changed since 1980.  It's funny to see some notes from then that I could have written now;  1980 was a LONG TIME AGO.  What is even more fascinating is that the voice of the Preppy Handbook was total authority.  Yet I was a child of 21.  My confidence ("We never wear...."  "We always say...") of then.... 1980.... has eroded.  For one thing, my wily exhibits (TM) have negotiated all certainty out of me.  For another, I think more before I speak or write, which can be a hindrance to those fine imperatives.

2)  Almost not a day goes by without someone telling me how much The Preppy Handbook meant to them.  I almost don't take that in properly any longer.  Yesterday at Lillian Ross' memorial, two talented writers separately pulled me aside and mentioned that when they first read it (one was in middle school; the other was in second grade) it had clarified their thinking and given them purpose.  This is always flattering to hear.   I am very pleased and honored by everyone's positive memories and feelings about it.  But as the book was published almost 38 years ago, it sometimes it feels as if they are talking about me in the past tense.  I still write.  I still have (a hefty portion of) a brain.

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3)  It is clear that this book is my headline -- no matter what else I do or accomplish, excepting marrying into the Kardashians or possibly co-writing Melania's eventual tell-all.  I expect my obituary headline to begin with the words "Preppy Girl".  Again, I'm not complaining; The Official Preppy Handbook is but one part of me.  When I was on my tour for True Prep (2010) I was asked repeatedly what I did in those 30 pointless years in between books.  I always answered in earnest-- 20 other books, marriage, three children, divorce, screenplays, tv shows, radio work, non-profit volunteer work, etc. and in the process I usually watched my interlocuter fight sleep.  If I answered, "I was in a coma," or "I was in rehab," "witness protection program" I'd see a real spark of interest.  Life is not always dramatic or exciting or even understandable.  Often we just accumulate gestures and actions and routines and fold our sweaters, and straighten the picture frames on our side tables and refill our water glasses, and read before bed.

4.)  In 1980, most of the world had no idea what a preppy was.  I had to explain the concept all the time.  In America.  On the West Coast I sometimes panicked, as they didn't see a lot of wide-wale corduroy pants with lobsters embroidered on them.  How was I ever going to make myself understood? I was frequently asked, "Where did you find people who look like that in those kinds of clothes?"  Oh, you mean my family and friends wearing their own stuff?  By 2010, almost no one asked me to define preppiness.  They had figured it out by then, owned multiple pairs of Top-Siders, khakis, and polo shirts.  And the look had traveled.  It was the default way to dress all over the world.  Wow.  The embroidered cords still are most prevalent on the east coast, however.

5)  You know who's a preppy?  One of the best.  Robert S. Mueller, III, St. Paul's School '62.

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Here the alumnus is back on campus in 2004, eating on trays with students, while Director of the FBI.

I will be away and offline over the next ten days on vacation, so this will have to be it for us until Friday, June 22. 

Until then, I'll be wearing natural fibers.

xxLisa

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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

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Somehow it's June!

1)  Reunion weekend was just total fun (notwithstanding the 7 1/2 hours it took to drive 178.6 miles) (or -- and you see I love double parentheses -- the hotel losing our reservation).  I don't know the final numbers, but I think maybe 20% of our class was there for all or part of the weekend.  The strange thing was how familiar everyone seemed, even though we haven't seen one another in some cases for 5 years, in other cases since the 20th century!  One minute I felt like a teenager, another I felt like a big old fuddyduddy.  In any case, most people were just wonderful -- we wove old memories together as if we had a giant loom.  All in all I just feel lucky to have gone to a great school and to be able to revisit now and again.

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(With my classmate Aliki Barnstone, the Poet Laureate of Missouri) (We met for the first time last weekend.)

2).  Doing what you like.  Yes, it's obvious.  My classmates who seemed happiest were the ones who had pursued dreams, passions, and whims -- not just wealth, position, or  paychecks.  One, Andy Chaiken, was always a "space nut".  He says when he arrived on campus the first thing he did was stick his poster of Buzz Aldrin on the Moon on the wall over his bed.  Now he works at NASA.  Terry Gallagher was similarly infatuated with all things Japanese.  He is an award-winning Japanese-to-English translator, though he majored in art history, I believe.  If you feel you're at a dead-end, or uninspired, try to figure out a way to incorporate your passion in your life.

3).  "The Americans" on FX wrapped up, as everyone who participates in social media knows.  Our friend Robert was our proselytizer, and once hooked, it was a powerful addiction.

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I don't really have more to add in terms of the analysis of the show (and I don't want to ruin it for any of you late adapters.)  I was surprised by the ending.  I will miss the excitement and anticipation the program created for me.   I know my feelings for the show run deep because last night I dreamed I had been asked to work with Stan Beeman/Noah Emmerich.  (Larry Page and Sergey Brin were in the dream too.)  

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I should be embarrassed, but I'm not.

4).  It's cherry season.

5).  I wonder whether Robert Mueller is a fan of "The Americans."  #TooSoon?  He's living it every day, anyway.  Wishing him continued great health and energy.  

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And to all of you, too.

Your friend, 

Lisa

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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

COMMENCEMENT AND REUNION EDITION

 

I'll be driving on Friday morning -- along with a zillion other families -- up to New England for a graduation/reunion weekend.  I expect the traffic to be prodigious, but the experience of returning to a place of wonderful memories to make all the drudgeries of the road trip unimportant.

This week I want to focus on college as a focus of my gratitude.

1)  What I have learned,  and more mysteriously, what I've kept in my tiny head, is due to my prized (and privileged, I know, I know) education.   Sometimes it's a crossword puzzle question that took me no seconds at all to know the word, other times it's passing a group of people speaking French and understanding what they are saying.   Or knowing the differences between Manet and Monet.  Or having read so much Philip Roth, that his loss feels personal.  I probably say, "Thank you, education" to myself three or four times a week.  #ButImStrangeThatWay  Also, thank you Mom and Dad.  It was the best thing you ever gave me.

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2)  New England.  I am a born and bred New Yorker, but I identify (or should I say "self identify") as a partial New Englander.  I love the trees, the coast, the food, the clothes, the people, the campuses, and the ethos of New England.  Between living on and off in Connecticut, spending many summers in Massachusetts, and having attended college in Rhode Island, I feel very happy to luxuriate in the bosom of Yankeeness.  

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3)  Feeling old and feeling young.  I'm going to have both those reactions this weekend.  I know because I felt them five years ago at my last reunion.  So grateful women get to keep their hair (for the most part), though that's just fair, if you ask me.  I may only feel young compared to the grandparents and other codgers who march or roll in the grand procession on Sunday, but being back at school always makes me feel like a 19 year old kid.  Or maybe a 30 year old kid; see below.

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At my 10th reunion.  (I still wear that shirt.)

4)  The thing about old friends --  old friends that you stay friends with --  they are the most precious, I find.  You knew us when we were forming.  You remember that time over vacation.  You remember my dad.  We shared history notes or a dorm room, or went to a concert together,  or you held my ponytail when I drank too much, or I held yours. 

A lot of my college friends are people I've been in irregular touch with.  Nevertheless, they are the reason I visit Facebook.  (Not to read ads for Rothy's shoes or Hanacure skin masks, shockingly.)  I am looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces all weekend.  

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Class of 1966

5)  Have I mentioned that Robert Mueller went to college?  He was a member of Princeton's class of 1966, and though Princeton has its own traditions of annual Reunions (unlike most other institutions' practice of meeting every five years), Special Counsel Mueller will probably be too busy this May 31 to attend his class's festivities.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

xxLisa

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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

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It's hard to feel positive the morning of a school shooting.  (It's hard to feel positive in the age of corruption and lies -- which is why I started this blog.)  Eight casualties so far at Santa Fe High School, in Santa Fe, Texas.    Makes my appreciation of cottage cheese and grosgrain ribbons seem massively feeble-minded.   

I'm trying to be a cheerleader and a distracter.  I know I'm addressing a small group here, but I'm also trying to rouse you all to find the --  [joy is too strong a word] -- pleasure in a simple way.  And I urge you to try to find five things that made improved your week somewhat.  Alright?  If you have your 5 (or 4 or 3 or even just 1) please share them with the rest of us!

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Mary Richards, always a cheerleader

1.  I'm going to a good friend's birthday lunch today.  How fortunate am I?  Also, this is a new friend, and how lucky am I to have a found a new friend at this stage?   (Also, I like lunch out because  if I'm writing  at home or pretending to write at home, or not writing at home, I'm likely not to eat until dinner.)  And now, being interested in sustainability, 'I'm going to merge this birthday lunch with  2.  Watch me.

2. When the time comes, I often have just the perfect birthday card on hand.  Sorry if it sounds like I'm boasting.  Some of my favorites come from unlikely sources:  the New Orleans Museum of Art, Madewell clothing stores, the Seattle Library shop, and a little housewares store in Hudson, New York, and a furniture store in Mill Valley, California.  

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3.  The Royal Wedding.  You might not care.  I don't exactly care.  That's not even the right word.  What I'm trying to say is that the wedding happening tomorrow between Prince Harry of England and American actress Meghan Markle is a kind of flash of sunshine in these grim days.  Does the royalty matter?  Will it push any envelope whatsoever to see a commoner marry a royal?  As a HUGE FAN "The Crown" it is certainly fascinating to know that the same Elizabeth who squashed her sister's happiness when she forbade her from marrying a divorced man (even though he was a faithful insider at Buckingham Palace) has given her blessings to a divorced, mixed-race American woman who is older than her grandson.  But love is love is love, to paraphrase Lin Manuel Miranda (another big favorite of mine) and I will watch the wedding tomorrow with some friends if I'm up.

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4.  I'll wake up.  Scones have been promised.   And my friend's apartment has many tvs so I can watch the HBO feed, with Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon.  (And so can you!)

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Cord and Tish

5.  Robert Mueller, Robert Mueller, Robert Mueller, Robert Mueller.

Onwards and upwards!

Lisa xx

 

 

 

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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

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WHAT A WEEK!

Will the pace of crazy news ever slow down again?  When I think back to life BT (Before Trump) it seems like a relatively slow, serene walk in the park compared to now.  I used to marvel at photographs of our presidents over their four year terms and was often surprised by how quickly they aged in office.  That aging is happening to me.  

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But still we survive another week.

Without further ado, I offer you my five things that helped me get through the week.  In no particular order:

 

1)  A great hairdo.  (Are they called "hairdos" any more?)

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I had my hair blown dried at a salon near my house last weekend.  It was the more expensive of the local places, and very crowded, but I had been curious about it.  The man who did the honors did a great job -- (I know because of my "Compliment Counter" -- patent pending) and because it lasted almost a week.  And because I felt better about my appearance all week.  (If you needed reminding that I am not good at grooming my own hair, all you have to do is look at the pictures on this website.  And yet, I own several hair brushes.)

2) Spring weather.  It helps.  It helps a lot, even if we're all sneezing a bit.

3)  Reupholstery.   It's like getting new furniture at a fraction of the cost!  I just had a pair  of chairs recovered, and they pop in my living room.  (It's the small things, sometimes.)

4)  The Visitors to Versailles exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum.  A small exhibit, but beautifully done.  The audioguides are seriously transporting -- you are at once a courtier at the court of one of the Louis-es.  (That's challenging punctuation, and probably incorrect.)  Then you are a foreign emissary coming to pay respects from your country -- and getting outfitted à la the French kings.  With the sounds of horses and music and guests , the audioguide is a vacation in itself.  The costumes and furnishings and architecture of the palace are fascinating too.  What started as a (relatively) humble country castle became a virtual town within its own walls.  Come to the Metropolitan Museum if you're in New York.

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5)  Robert Mueller, I do hope you're feeling well!  Do you need some Kleenex?  Antihistamines? Sleep?  Orange Juice?  A weekend off?  No pressure, but we are counting on you, sir.

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Take care of yourself, Mr. Mueller!  And all of you, too.

xx Lisa

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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

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Just when I thought I had it all figured out, something crummy happened to me, and I took it out on the WRONG PERSON.  (I hate when I do that.) 

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Disappointed.

And then, still feeling sour, I realized it was time to write the blog, in which I scour my life for good feelings, even when they are not fully palpable.  

 

That's the way it's going to be today.  This dog's expression, though doctored (what you kids call "Photoshopped") is exactly right.  

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ANYWAY,

1)  I love cottage cheese, and yet I forget that I like it for months at a time.  Today it was better than ever.  I'm the only one in my household except for #ExhibitD -- Henry, the dog -- who likes it.  But as a professional scavenger, Henry doesn't count.  He'll eat anything.  Today the cottage cheese was especially satisfying.   If this makes me seem weird or grannyish, so be it.

2) I haven't confessed my love for "The Americans" before.  I am addicted to this program.

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It's carefully and ingeniously wrought.   I don't think I'm smart enough to pick up on all the hints the writers offer up on who will be doing what to whom.  My partner figures them out and is sometimes incredulous by how much passes me by, but unlike him, I have very little experience in spy-procedural-crime tv and movies.  If you haven't watched it at all, you need to start at the beginning.  This is the final season, and I'm curious and not at all sure how it will end.  One thing is for sure:  the character of Elizabeth Jennings, played by Keri Russell, is the worst mother I've ever observed on tv.  It only makes me love Philip Jennings, her husband more.

[If you're an aficionado of the show, can you please tell me when/if Stan and Renee got married? And what happened to his son?  Thank you.]

3) The concept of a worldwide Facebook Boycott.  I don't know much about it other than it's planned for May 25th - June 1.  (Sorry if your birthday falls then.  I believe my college reunion will be happening then as well.)  It's not just that Zuckerberg, Sandberg, et al haven't protected our information.   I enjoy Facebook less and less.  One of the best instincts I ever had was to NOT EVER load Facebook onto my phone.  In my crowd -- of 25 people? -- in between TrumpHannityGiulianiCohenStormyIvankaJaredManafort, I am reading about the deaths of loved ones, the loss of jobs, and the college placement of kids.  Sometimes it makes me feel stuck.  Mostly it makes me blue -- not the FOMO so much as the time lost while speed-reading through.  May 25-June 1 I'll be away from Facebook, along with many others.  

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4)  Thank you notes.  I appreciate them, I like them, I endorse them.  I adore receiving them.  They make people feel good.  Gratitude is underrated, not matter how many people use the term.

5) The man:  Robert S. Mueller, III

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Have a great weekend.  

It's rosé season!

Lisa xx

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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

So I lost my wallet.  It was very simple, made of black leather, and I dropped it (I'm assuming) outside the glorious Seattle Public Library, our final stop on a 4-day visit to Seattle.  

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I liked that It had no metal, no logo, no colorful lining, but I admit it was hard to find in a bag's dark interior.   Inside, of course, were credit cards, medical ID, driver's license, money, credit certificates, and photos.  Losing it was a bummer.  Why am I including the lost wallet in a blog about appreciation?  

I'm happy to tell you.

1)  A wallet is a thing.  I've lost wallets before.  It's always a trial to replace the stuff within, but mostly it's just a small leather thing, nothing to feel too sentimental about.  And now I get to buy a new one, which will certainly be in a bright color.

2)  I didn't know how I'd board my flight home without identification.  Luckily, Sea-Tac Airport has a Clear kiosk.  I joined Clear last year and wasn't sure it was really worth the membership, BUT I told the attendant my predicament, and she explained that one doesn't need an ID with Clear.  She scanned my retinas, and I was through security.  That was exciting.  

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3)  Look at this incredible library!  I do not have a great eye, and in general don't take a lot of photographs, (hence, at least for the moment, no Instagram), but the Rem Koolhaas-designed library building can make anyone look like an "art photographer."  The library was very busy on this Monday morning.  People at computers, people in the stacks, people in the cafe, and very good gift shop, people at the Edward Curtis exhibit, people reading in comfortable chairs.  Yes, many homeless people carrying their weight in satchels and shopping bags -- (there are plenty of them in Seattle) but they didn't scare off the other library-goers.

4)  When I think about being a "grownup," I think I should be a woman with a French twist, a well-cut sheath dress, and pumps.  My parents dressed up to go out at night, and at least five or six times a year went to black tie events.  I so seldom measure up.  I'm usually in blue jeans, a shirt and a sweater and flat shoes or low-heeled boots.  A couple of bracelets on my right wrist; a watch on the left.  On Wednesday night I wore a gown.... a gown.!  A gown with a short train!  We were invited to a gala celebration of Brooks Brothers 200th birthday.  They produced a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center that was superb.  The emphasis was on America -- American music, American haberdashers, American idiom.  Jazz, if you think about it, is a wholly American genre of music.  Wynton Marsalis started off the program, with artists such as Jon Batiste, The Dap Kings, Allison Krause, Ledisi, Shirley Caesar, Chris Thile, Paul Simon ... a gospel choir, and many other performers.  It was diverse, uplifting, and ended with a birthday cake.  It was fun glamming up, but it required quite a bit of effort on my part.  Not something I could do or want to do on a very frequent basis.  

5)  Robert S. Mueller, III

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He's the man.

Have a great weekend!

Love,

Lisa

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FIVE THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE BETTER (FOR ME) (WHO ELSE?)

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Dear Readers,

It's been a week, hasn't it?   Some kind of week.  Reminds me of a story a great comedy writer producer, Bill Persky ("The Dick Van Dyke Show,"  "That Girl,"  "Kate & Allie", etc.) has told me.  

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Bill Persky

He was once invited to see a well-known-but-maybe-past-his-prime comedian perform at the Copacabana nightclub in New York -- I think the comedian wanted Bill to write him new material. In any case, Bill was unimpressed with the show but still had to go backstage and pay his respects to the performer.  What should Bill say that would be kind, but not a lie, and acquit him in the dressing room?  He came up with, "Wow, did you fill 45 minutes!  Boy oh boy, that was some 45 minutes!"  

Which brings us back to this week.

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Between James Comey's book and tv appearances, "taint teams," Michael Cohen's client #3 - Sean Hannity, the courtroom artist's sketch of Stormy Daniels' thug, John McCain's medical troubles, Barbara Bush's health decline, and so on -- (and I'm only writing this on TUESDAY) it's been quite a week.  This administration is aging us!  I feel the only way to train for this endless hysterical news cycle is to run up and down stairs -- all day -- in a highrise.  The air is thin up here!

But we must hold on to the good, in the midst of all the bad, strange, and unsettling.

1)  The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes.  

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Honors and appreciation to the organization and to the winners.  It was great to see that the teams of reporters who dug deep to investigate the sexual predators were rewarded for their hard and good work.    I read the remarks made by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and I wanted to post them here.  They moved me enormously.  

https://www.nytco.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/Pulitzer-speech-from-Jodi-and-Megan.docx.pdf

2)  Over the weekend I attended a bridal shower.  It was the first shower I've been to for the daughter of a friend.  It was delightful.  Given the bride-to-be in question is a lovely, brilliant, serious feminist, I was amazed by how feminine the party was.  Of course, it was a bridal shower, not a We Work meet up.  There were flowers everywhere -- on the cupcakes, on the tables, on the fabric of the dresses.  (My memo said "casual."  Don't ask what I wore.)  But I loved the feminist/feminine connection.  The bride and many of her friends are lawyers.  I look forward to watching their progress in the years ahead.  And honestly, the love of this family for one another, and the romance in the air was very, very nice to experience.

3)  I won a raffle for the first time in my life!  I won a raffle!  I won a raffle!  (I hope the person picking the ticket didn't rig it.  I did say, "I've never won a raffle in my life; I probably won't win this one."  Cue Eeyore voice.)

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Before the drawing of the raffle

4)  Pulitzer Prizes, continued.  Andrew Sean Greer's novel, Less, won the prize for fiction.  This is worth celebrating, as it is a "comic novel," and "comic novels" are rarely taken seriously by the literati.  As someone who loves nothing more than making anyone laugh -- not that you'd know it from this blog -- this is an encouraging development.  Here is Christopher Buckley's review of Less from the New York Times last July.  I haven't read the novel yet, but I will when I go away this weekend.  Can't wait.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/books/review/less-andrew-sean-greer.html

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Robert S. Mueller, III

Have a lovely weekend!

Lisa xo

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