Nova Music Festival: The Screaming Girl

October 7, 2023—the day is forever seared into my psyche.

The day that Hamas terrorists and Palestinian civilian animals descended upon the Nova Music Festival and stalked, chased, massacred, raped, mutilated, and kidnapped innocent people.

Never again happened again. Never again was happening in real-time.

That deadly October 7 day and the subsequent nightmarish days that followed, when I heard the deafening silence of so many and saw the true colors of too many.

Those so many and too many were people I respected—some of whom I thought were my friends who have said nothing or “but.”

This past Thursday I attended the Nova Music Festival Exhibition in New York City, an in-depth remembrance of the brutal October 7 attack. The exhibition heartbreakingly recreated a music event dedicated to peace and love that was brutally cut short by Hamas and other Palestinian civilians and  terrorists on Israel from Gaza on that horrifically fateful day. For more information about the Nova Music Festival Exhibition click here. 

I knew walking into a small side room in the exhibit would be horrifying because of the warning signs posted outside the entrance.

As I entered the dark menacing room, a young girl in front of me referred to it as “the rape room.” The video monitor was draped with dark-stained and ripped men’s boxer shorts. Were they ripped or were they bullet holes? I wasn’t sure. I was so overwrought that I lost my footing and fell into someone who awkwardly propped me up.

Some of the translated footage was bone-chilling. The Palestinian butchers were saying, “She is the one for rape, so let’s put her back inside for rape.”

One Nova attendee’s interview talked about how he wanted to save a beautiful young blonde girl who was surrounded by Palestinians dressed in civilian clothing, laughing and touching her. But he knew he couldn’t. And he knew what was about to happen to her.

I watched an uncut video of Palestinian civilians cheering, spitting, and stick-beating 22-year-old Shani Louk as her defiled body was traipsed through the streets of Gaza in the now infamous Hamas-filled truck bed.

But it was the cell phone video of a handsome young man lying in the brush, tears flowing down his face, that’s seared into my memory. He was voiceless and motionless—the sounds of gunfire in the background.

And the screaming girl. Her screams were unabatingly otherworldly and so horrific that I will never get them out of my head.

Rat a tat tat. Rat a tat tat. But it was the screaming of that girl that I continue to hear over and over again. Screaming like I have never heard before. Screaming that I pray I will never hear again.

Screams that I can’t get out of my head because I know goddamn well what was happening to her. As long as I live, I don’t think I will ever forget the screams.

The heartbreaking exhibit included remains salvaged from the festival grounds, including scorched cars,

cell phone audio, text messages, bullet-riddled bathroom stalls,

photographs of the murdered and kidnapped, and thousands of personal belongings left behind.

A child’s shoe had me trembling, and I leaned against the wall for support.

The New York City exhibit included video testimonies from survivors, volunteers, and family members, as well as raw footage taken on October 7 from both festival attendees and Hamas and Gazan terrorists.

One young mother talked about hiding in a flat-top ice cream refrigerator for hours. She was saved from freezing to death only by the fact that the terrorists machine-gunned the generator, shutting off the electricity. She wanted to die, but she knew she had to live for her young, fatherless son. Except now, her desire to live is gone. Her son is now living away from her with family, while she struggles every minute of every day to convince herself that life is still worth living.

I learned that some survivors had taken their own lives since October 7, and many others are suicidal.

I listened to phone calls from terrified kids to their parents, saying goodbye.

One mother soothed her daughter with quiet words of affection, comforting her until the sounds of shooting got closer and closer, and then Arabic shouting from not one but many men cut them off forever. How does a mother survive that kind of last call?

Donations from the exhibition go to the Nova Healing Journey, an initiative that supports mental health treatment for victims and families of the October 7 massacre.

The Nova Music Festival exhibit is something everyone needs to see. Maybe then—I say “maybe” the pro-Palestinian, Hamas-loving apologists will get it.

Maybe. But I’m not holding my breath.

I’m just trying to hold it all together and get that screaming girl out of my head.


In the wee hours of this morning, I had a nightmare that brought me back to my younger years when I was living with my grandmother, great-grandmother, and mother in a tenement railroad apartment on Huron Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

My recurring nightmare back then was paralyzingly frightening: a smirking animal monster hiding at the bottom of the front door stairs of that crummy apartment waiting for me. I was never clear about what kind of animal it was, but it still scared the bejesus out of me.

That damn dream did the trick because I never dared to enter the long, dark hallway leading to the bottom of those filthy stairs for fear that something would be lurking there and, indeed, waiting for me.

And anyway, a padlock the size of my head was bolted onto the front door, making it impossible to get in or out. The only way in and out of our apartment was to climb up several levels of outdoor stairs to get to the back door of the fourth-floor tenement — one way in and out — a real fire trap.

I haven’t had that dream for over 60 years, but the evil-looking monster in this morning’s nightmare was eerily similar — except this dude was clearly a mixture of a lion and a goat.

The dream was so startling that at 3 am, I grabbed a pad and pencil and then typed the words “part lion and part goat” into my phone.

And there it was: Chimera.

According to Greek mythology, the Chimera was a female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail. Ooh, my monster dude was actually a dudette. Now, this female monster was my kind of animal.

One definition described a chimera as something hoped for but illusory and impossible to achieve in reality. This definition resonated with me.

Another relatable description read: “The Chimera represents the coexistence of opposites, such as strength and vulnerability, courage and fear, and life and death.”

Whoa. Maybe my dream was a sign and not a nightmare at all.

When I rehashed how I felt when I first saw the lion goat in my dream, I wasn’t afraid of it per se. It was more of a feeling that I needed an added level of removal or protection, if that makes any sense.

After mulling over the dream’s interpretation, I asked myself: Was I the Chimera?

I tried to get back to sleep, but all I could think about was this Chimera and the duality of her existence. Was she a conflicted role-player of sorts? Who was this Chimera to me?

Trying to get back to sleep was useless, so I made a strong cup of coffee and then parked myself at my desk for hours, searching the Internet to learn more about my Chimera.

According to Wikipedia, Homer depicted Chimera in his epic poem, The Iliad: “Her breath came out in terrible blasts of burning flame.” Hmm, according to Homer, this Chimera character had a big mouth. I was starting to like her, but unfortunately, she met a violent demise.

Also, as told in The Iliad, King Iobates of Lycia, who despised Bellerophon, the son of Poseidon, ordered him to slay the Chimera, hoping the she-monster would kill him instead.

I was fascinated by the myth and wanted to know why King Iobates despised Bellerophon so much. According to one source, Iobates received a letter from Proetus, the King of Argos and Tiryns, instructing him, “Please remove this bearer from the world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.”


Chimera’s hot breath made it impossible for Bellerophon to get close enough to kill her. So he took a large block of lead, mounted it on his spear, and using his winged horse Pegasus, he flew over her and then shot it into Chimera’s mouth.

Chimera’s fire breath melted the lead, blocked her air passageway, and suffocated her. YIKES. I guess that shut her up.

But Bellerophon got too big for his britches when he sought to ascend to heaven in a vain and foolish attempt to join the gods on Mount Olympus, angering Zeus, the God of the sky.

According to my research, Bellerophon’s demise went one of two ways:

In one scenario, Zeus orders Pegasus to drop Bellerophon from the sky to the ground, instantly killing him.

In the other, Zeus orders Pegasus to drop Bellerophon from the sky to the ground, but he doesn’t die.

Instead, he falls onto a thorn bush face-first and is blinded and paralyzed, causing him to live out his life in misery, “devouring his own soul,” until he eventually dies. Call me a monster, but I much prefer this scenario.

Eurovision 2024 Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest is an international songwriting and singing competition organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). It serves as a global celebration of unity in music, promoting diversity, artistic impression, and inclusivity. The singing competition has been held every year since 1956, making it the longest-running annual television contest on record.

The selection process varies by country. Sometimes, a country selects the artist, and the public chooses a song for them through a national final. Alternatively, EBU member broadcasters choose the song, and the public votes to decide which artist will perform it.

Eurovision 2024 will be held live in Malmo, Sweden. The Contest format comprises three live shows: The first semi-final will occur on Tuesday, May 7; the second semi-final on Thursday, May 9; and the grand finale on Saturday, May 11.

There is a comprehensive set of rules for the competition, but the main three relating to the artists and their songs are:

  • Songs must be original and no more than 3 minutes in length
  • The lead vocalist must perform live
  • No more than six performers are allowed on stage during any one performance

A total of 37 countries will compete in the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest:

Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The event is attended globally, with the United States and Australia among the top ticket buyers.

You can watch Eurovision 2024 in the United States on Peacock TV.

I have my personal favorites, so here are my top six choices. I tried to narrow it down to five, but Georgia’s “Firefighter” was too amazing not to highlight.


Israel: Edie Golan ~ “Hurricane”

There is continuing condemnation and talk of banning Israel from Eurovision 2024, although so far, they are still part of the competition. So much for inclusivity and unity through music. Israel submitted the song “October Rain,” which Eurovision immediately rejected and disqualified, deeming it “too political.” The song was then renamed “Hurricane” and significantly altered to make it more politically acceptable. Every time I watch the music video for “Hurricane,” I get full-body chill bumps. Twenty-year-old Eden Golan, who has faced serious death threats,  sings the last two lines in Hebrew: “Don’t need big words, just prayers. Even if it’s hard to see, you always leave one single light.” It’s my favorite entry, but rest assured, Israel will NEVER win.


Serbia: Teya Dora ~ “Ramonda”

Ramonda is a resilient flower native to the Balkans. It’s known for its remarkable ability to recover and bloom even after exposure to the harshest conditions. The song opens with the words: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” “Ramonda” is overflowing with political innuendoes, but whatever.


Albania: Besa ~ “Titan”

“Titan” is a song about empowerment, survival, resilience, strength, and determination. Titan’s message is to stand tall and unwavering in the face of adversity. Besa is a force to be reckoned with and a true “Titan” in disguise.


Germany: Isaak ~ “Always On The Run”

In this song, Isaak acknowledges that there is privilege in being privileged, but he’s tired of running away from who he is. For me, “Always On The Run” is about the highs and lows of self-discovery and the pain of having to live up to the expectations of others.


France: Slimane ~ “Mon Amour”

I’m a sucker for all things French, and this Eurovision entry does not disappoint. Slimane waits and waits for his amour. It’s a simple song of love and hope—something I know a thing or two about.


Georgia: Nutsa Buzaladze ~ “Firefighter”

My personal experience with firefighters and one devastating fire made it impossible not to add “Firefighter” to my top 6 list. My favorite line in “Firefighter” is, “Did we build empires just to watch them burn?” Oh no, we didn’t. The song expresses a metaphorical fight against wars, envy, and hate.

You can stream the complete entry of songs by clicking here.

Let me know your favorite in the comments.

My Stolen Diaries — Chapter 30: Mom’s Engagement



August 15, 1966

Today was my worst day ever. Mom asked for my blessing to get engaged and marry “Rob,” explaining that getting married to a wealthy man and moving to an affluent town like Westport is everything she has been dreaming about her whole life.

I found it brazenly annoying that she would “ask” for my blessing while shoving her left hand with a diamond the size of our apartment into my face.

Mom is getting ready to live out her dream while I’m still trying to get used to Roberto’s new name. What a joke. What about my dreams?

According to Mem, Roberto goes by “Rob” in Westport because his given name is too Italian for the town. Why would Mom want to live in a place where having an ethnic name is a problem?

And Nick? That would be it for Nick. He would be banished forever — I couldn’t let Mom do that. So, I courageously told Mom, “No, I won’t give you my blessing,” even though the next day was her 28th birthday.

“I really want you to want this for me.” Mom looked at me so pathetically that I almost gave in. But I didn’t. I felt like there was nothing more to say, so I stood up to leave the kitchen table. “That’s it?” she asked me sarcastically.

“What about Nick?” I asked nervously. She glared up at me with a frown and a smirk. “Seriously, Tony? Your precious Nick can’t give us what Rob can, and you know it. Do you want to live as a poor person for the rest of your life?”

The look on her perfectly made-up face told me all I needed to know. There was no use trying to talk Mom out of marrying “Rob.” All Nick could give us was love. And while love was enough for me, I couldn’t say the same for Mom.

I told her I thought it was a terrible idea. I told her that “Rob” wasn’t good for her. I was reluctant to say anything more but knew it was my last chance to change her mind.

“So that’s it for Nick? We’re never going to see him again? And Nick or no Nick, I don’t want you to marry Roberto — oops, excuse me, Rob.”

Mom’s mascara eyes were squinting angrily at me when she said, “Nick is gone; I told him it was over.” I forced myself not to cry in front of her, and my hands were sweaty and shaking. But Mom didn’t even notice. I’m forever caught up in her drama, but she couldn’t care less. It’s always been about her.

I told Mom I wanted to say goodbye to Nick, and that’s when she got unbecomingly loud. “I said goodbye to Nick for you. That’s it for Nick. And I don’t want to hear his name come out of your mouth ever again.”

“Okay, so go live with your Rob in his fancy house in Westport, and leave me out of your drama and your dreams. I have dreams of my own.”

Mom looked puzzled. “Wait, you think I’m leaving you in this crummy apartment? I’m marrying Rob next August. We got engaged last night, and you’re coming to Westport with us, little missy.” And then she stormed upstairs, muttering, “Tony has dreams. Please.”

Wait what? I’m moving to Westport with those two immature lovebirds? Mom thinks I’m leaving Mem and Mere Germaine? Oh no. Mem would never stand for that.

Here, I was worried about living without Nick. And now Mom wants to take me away from Mem? How will I ever survive without Mem?

Stay tuned for Chapter 31: Bridgeport Hospital

International Women’s Day: Me Too, Unless You’re a Jew

This post is dedicated to:

Ofra. Arbel. Inbar. Maya. Noa. Carmel. Shiri. Judith. Eden. Shani. Doron. Amit. Emily. Daniella. Na’ama. Karina. Agam. Liri. Romi.

Fourteen of the 19 women named above are still presumed to be alive, while five of them were killed in captivity — their bodies rotting in Gaza.

On this International Women’s Day, don’t be afraid to say their names and pray that they come home soon like you would if they were your daughters, granddaughters, or sisters.

Until October 7, 2023, I never felt unsafe being Jewish. I now know better.

My in-laws, may they rest in peace, were Holocaust survivors and heroes to countless people whom they saved.

As a result of her trauma, my mother-in-law was obsessed with Israel, Zionism, and watching out for the enemy, which was anyone who wasn’t Jewish.

And she told me horror stories of what happened to the prettiest Jewish women and girls at the hands of the Nazis.

Her Holocaust accounts of rape, humiliation, assault, and murder of women and young girls were beyond my comprehension — until October 7, when all her fears were realized — by me.

My mother-in-law was convinced that the Holocaust could happen again and warned me to watch out for it. “It starts small,” she prophesized. I thought her paranoia came from her unfathomable Holocaust nightmare.

But now I get it.

What shocked me the most about the brutality of October 7 was the silence from so many people. People that I respected and looked up to. People I considered my friends.

But not anymore.

Women and girls were brutally raped and tortured on October 7.

Just say it.

And please don’t insult my intelligence with a “but.”

There is no but.

Speak the truth.

What the hell are you afraid of? Or maybe it’s not fear — but distaste for Jews — the others, unlike you.

If Hamas ever came into our country and raped and mutilated our women and girls, our government would annihilate them — collateral damage be damned.

And you would agree. We would all agree.

You can be against Israel. But it doesn’t give you the right to frighten and torment American Jews on American soil. How can you possibly condone Hamas terrorists sexually torturing and raping women and girls to death?

And to all those MeToo spokeswomen whom I admired and who helped me through my own nightmarish experience, your silence is heartbreakingly deafening.

In failing to condemn the raping to death of young women and girls, you MeToo bigots have shown your true colors and brought shame to yourselves and the movement.

Another Lost Year

I’ve gone ahead and moved forward in life with those I can.
But I still treasure the frozen-in-time memories of those who ran.

Today, I wished for something I know, at least for now, can never be.
She’s still young, so I have faith that one day she’ll reach out to me.

I see the resemblance in her fly-away hair and heart-shaped chin.
With tiny hands planted firmly on her hips, she’s my mighty munchkin.

Then I asked myself how many years it would take — nine or maybe ten.
Add them to my already ancient self; no respite for the unwitting tragedienne.

One day, you will wonder if I ever thought of you or who you were to me.
Every day, I think of you and curse the deliberate chopping down of our family tree.


To feel his arms around me was
as healing as anything I have
ever felt.

He took me by surprise,
when he came behind me
as I sat reading a self-help
book and gently enveloped
me in all of his pubescence.

I held back tears as
my little guy held me
tightly and wrapped me
up in his loving innocence.

Somehow, he felt my sorrow,
and he knew just what to do
to take the pain away.

If I died in that moment,
it would have been the most
beautiful of endings.

My Stolen Diaries — Chapter 29: Naomi



July 1966

I haven’t written in a while, because I made a new friend, and we’ve been spending a lot of time together. She’s my first real girlfriend since Yolanda from Father Panik, who I haven’t seen since we left White Street.

A couple of weeks ago, a bunch of us kids were hanging out in the Success Park playground near Court B when we noticed a plain, black-haired girl watching us from a distance. My friends said it was Naomi, a Jew girl, and chased after her, calling out, “Beat it, dirty Jew, Jesus killer.” One of them threw a rock that just missed her head.

Their hatred reminded me of the cruelty against Rebecca, the Jewish girl, in Ivanhoe, one of the books I just finished in Adam’s classic collection.

Naomi tried to run away, but she was slow, and when my friends caught up to her, they formed a circle around her and screamed, “Go back to your Jew house and never show your ugly Jew face around here again.”

I got into the middle of the circle with Naomi and loudly shouted that they were acting like horrible monsters. That stopped them long enough for me to take this poor whimpering girl by the arm.

Then Chris jumped in and ordered them all to leave. Ever since I plunged out of his dad’s car, we’ve become close. But I refuse to kiss him again until he breaks up with Juliette because I listened loud and clear to Mem’s words about “the chase.”

And just so you know, I’m still limping around from that horrible nosedive. And I still haven’t told my family about what happened — and probably never will.

“I’ll take you home,” I told Naomi while yelling at all my friends except Chris to “Get lost.” Chris moved everyone out of our way like he was a cattleman straight out of Gunsmoke. I was impressed.

A woman was running in our direction, terrified. As soon as she reached us, she hugged and thanked me for “my courage.” She also said that I must have extraordinary parents.

Extraordinary indeed.

Naomi asked if I wanted to come to their apartment for a snack. Her mom served up some delicious pastries called rugelach, which, by the way, is pronounced nothing like it’s spelled. I met her father and two brothers; they seemed kind and moral, just like the Jews in Ivanhoe.

I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I asked one of Naomi’s brothers if the Jews killed Jesus, as my friends said. He answered that Jesus was Jewish, which I didn’t know, and that Pontius Pilate ordered him crucified, which I did learn at St. Ambrose.

Naomi and I have become very close friends, and I have a ton of respect for her family, who are wonderful people. And since Jesus was Jewish, I’m sure God is okay that we’re friends, even though the rest of my gang refuses to speak to me when Naomi’s around.  Well, everyone except Chris, who I’m still playing “chase” with.

One of the girls accused me of being a Jew lover, and I put my fists up and yelled for her to come closer to me and say it to my face, but she didn’t dare. They all know I might be skinny and scrawny, but I’m tough as nails.

One of the best stories I can tell you about being friends with Naomi is that her father, Mr. Grulnik, took us to a place called McDonald’s on Main Street in Bridgeport, not far from where Mem used to work at Woolworths.

And in case you’re wondering, I stayed in the middle of the back seat, nowhere near the car doors. And I planted both feet firmly against the front seats just in case Mr. Grulnik made a sharp turn.

Everyone was talking about this burger joint with towering golden arches and delicious hamburgers and fries for hardly any money and served up in under one minute.

You could get a delicious and affordable all-American meal in this McDonald’s place for just 45 cents.

When we pulled up, there was a line, but it went fast — and all the food was waiting for us under hot lights. I had a vanilla milkshake, cheeseburger, and fries. From the first bite, I told Mr. Grulnik that I had never eaten anything so delicious and that McDonald’s was my new favorite place. He laughed and said, “You and every other American.”

Mr. Grulnik also told us not to tell her mother where we had eaten because it wasn’t kosher.

On the way home, Naomi told me all about what keeping kosher meant, what foods she could and couldn’t eat, and explained that being Jewish meant having to follow a whole lot of rules.

I felt horribly sorry for Naomi, not because she was Jewish, but because I could never survive in life without bacon, and I told her so.

Click here for Chapter 30: Mom’s Engagement

The Best and Worst of the Teri Tome in 2023

I have been beyond thankful that over 15,000 people per month come to my blog, The Teri Tome, to read what I have to say.

Since launching The Teri Tome on 3/18/15, I’ve had over 1.4 million readers and over 3.2 million page views.

And I suspect some of those readers are deeply unhappy or nervously afraid about my postings or what I might post next.

But frankly, my dear…

Writing helps me make sense of life’s stuff. It’s like talking to myself but in written form.

Anyway, the marked increase in traffic to The Teri Tome has me writing like a crazy person. And for every written post I publish, you should know that I also write a post that is most definitely unpublishable — at least for now.

I’ve put all those unpublished posts in a safe place on my computer, so to my family, if you’re reading this: When the time comes that I am no longer, please carefully and thoroughly comb through my computer files. There is a treasure trove of everything you mostly didn’t know about Teri because you never asked. I can only hope that when I reach the other side, you will honor me and my memory by reading every word.

In 2023, I wrote 38 blog posts, resulting in over 200,000 collected page views for those posts alone. Additionally, The Teri Tome garnered close to another 200,000 page views for posts written before 2023.  And please don’t think I’m bragging, but that’s a whopping 400,000+ page views in one year.

Of the 38 posts, fifteen were chapters of my novel-on-a-blog, primarily written decades ago, titled: “My Stolen Diaries.” Speaking of my novel, I first started posting it on The Teri Tome on 1/12/20. To date, I have posted 97 of my book’s total 159 written pages. However, I will tell you a little secret: I still haven’t figured out the ending.

According to the writing assistant Grammarly, I’ve achieved grammar greatness — the cloud-based program has already analyzed over 63.2 million of my words since the 2015 launch of my blog. Per Grammarly, I was more productive than 96% of their users, 93% more accurate, 96% more unique words, and my top mistake? Missing commas.

And now for the big reveal.


MY DELTA WINGS: I’m constantly trying to figure out why some of my blog posts garner thousands of page views and others in the hundreds. Maybe it’s the title, maybe it’s the content, and maybe it’s both. Whatever the reason, this poem was my least-trafficked post in 2023, but I hope you give it a read because it’s very near and dear to me, mostly because at 20 years old, Delta Airlines freed me from my MeToo nightmare.

#1 HIT IN 2023

MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 16: IN OVER MY HEAD: I was pleasantly surprised to see that Chapter 16 was the #1 post of 2023. How many of us have been in over our heads? For years, I’ve asked myself, “What if this?” or “What if that?” which is what I was thinking about when I sat down to write this Chapter.

#2 HIT IN 2023

MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 23: SHE’S AN AWKWARD GIRL: The #2 spot honors another chapter of my novel-on-my blog. My Stolen Diaries is a work of fiction, but I know a thing or two about being awkward and being bullied for it. I’ve come to accept that were it not for my awkwardness and the bullies, I would not have had the empathy to write Chapter 23. My lead character, Tony, is shy but unafraid to speak the truth. And as of late, don’t think me crazy, but she often talks to me. Many readers have asked me if there is any truth to the fiction I write. I can only answer by saying that there is no fiction without truth.

#3 HIT IN 2023

MY DAUGHTER DREAM: The popularity of this #3 blog post didn’t surprise me at all because my unicorn daughter was the inspiration. When my daughter was around five, she told me she was my guardian angel, and oh yes, she is.

#4 HIT IN 2023

MY STOLEN DIARIES —  CHAPTER 22: O HOLY NIGHT: I channeled the female solidarity of growing up in an all-women household when I wrote this chapter, so I’m happy to see it’s the #4 post of 2023. Those precious women taught me strength through adversity, and I will forever be grateful for their grit and resolve.

#5 HIT IN 2023

THINKING OF YOU TODAY: I was more introspective than happy about the popularity of this #5 post. And I was also a bit anxious because rereading it touched something raw in me. It also made me question if I should continue writing about my house of glass, pane by pain. For like a minute.

#6 HIT IN 2023

I SEE YOU: Just so you know, I’ve been second-guessing my writing purpose for a while now, so the popularity of this #6 post of 2023 left me nostalgic and longing for what was. And yet, I know deep inside that what was will never be again.

#7 HIT IN 2023

I wrote Chapter 25 in the late 80s while undergoing intense life-altering events. The fact that it made it to #7 and garnered so many page views in 2023 lifted my spirits and gave me the impetus to continue posting my novel no matter what or despite who.

#8 HIT IN 2023

MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 20: HELP!: Chapter 20 made it to the #8 spot and reminded me that I’ve been adept at helping but have never been one to ask for it. And yet, I still believe what is meant for someone will never pass them by.

#9 HIT IN 2023

MY STOLEN DIARIES — CHAPTER 15: ROBERTO, ROBERTO, ROBERTO: Although I wrote this chapter decades ago, I gave it a written facelift in 2023. I did so because I felt the need to expand the concept that our choices and decisions are often our undoing. We make our choices, and then our choices take over and make us. And then there are the choices made for us by someone else — a life shaped by decisions made by other people. How many of our lives are the consequences of a series of decisions made for us instead of by us? That’s how Chapter 15, my #9 hit in 2023, came to be.

#10 HIT IN 2023

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS: It was no surprise that this post made it to #10. In many belief systems, ten signifies completion — the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Soon to enter my 71st year here on earth, I can’t help but wonder, “Will this be the year my nightmare chapter ends?” So that you know, I can take a verbal hit better than most. And I’ve heartbreakingly closed life chapters I never wanted to end and will never forget. But I still haven’t figured out how to close that one ugly chapter I’ve spent fifty-six years trying to erase.


WEDDING CENTERPIECES THAT CAN SAVE THE WORLD: From 2015 to 2020, my all-time most-viewed post was about bullies and bullying behavior. I sadly equated it with the 2014 election and that certain powerful someone who, through his own ugly and hate-filled words, permitted bullies to crawl out of their holes. At the end of 2021, and at first analysis, I thought my blog post about brides beating out bullies was a positive outcome — a possible new world order. Mostly because I naively thought that fewer people needed to read about bullies — because perhaps fewer people were being bullied. But I have come to the sad realization that since 2020, it has become way more commonplace to bully and to be bullied. People no longer need to research or understand bullies and bullying, mainly because so many of us have been experiencing the hatefulness of it in real-time — day in and day out, with no one able or willing to stop it. So, for the past three years, weddings have far surpassed bullies as my number one most-viewed blog post, garnering hundreds of thousands of page views. Although it took me a while, I now sadly get the fact that weddings come and go, while hate only begets more hate.

And just like that, another year was over and done.

As I said goodbye to 2023, I also said goodbye to a childhood friend in mid-December. My dear friend was a particularly tough loss and the culmination of a sh*tstorm of a year.

2023 has often felt like a movie trailer to me. And while there was no spoiler alert, the preview and glimpse of the plot, characters, and tone, combined with nonstop political and anti-Semitic horrors, have done a relatively good job of keeping me up until the wee hours of the morning.

Like I needed anything more to add to my sleepless, restless nights.

I can only wish that 2024 brings all of us the plot twists we’re hoping for, although there is no doubt that some of us will be apoplectic.

I sure hope it’s not me.

I’ll Never Forget the Way We Were

It’s been a tough week.

First off, the holidays over the past twenty-plus years have created a lot of angst for me. I’ve lost a lot of people, and as the years grow on, I keep losing more and more.

And then, to make holiday matters more dire, there was the loss last week of a dear friend who fought a dignified and courageous fight against cancer to the bitter end — mostly on his own.

Much like my grandmother, Mammy, who silently and stoically fought what she called “The Cancer.”

The one constant when times get tough is the memory of my grandmother. And even though times were tough back then as well, we always had each other until “the cancer” took her away from me way too soon.

So, around this time of year, I often find myself reaching out to her, asking her for advice, courage, a sign — anything.

Can you hear me, Mammy?

And yesterday, even though I was suffering, for whatever reason, I didn’t reach out to her.

But apparently, she wasn’t having that because as soon as I got into the car and turned on the radio, there it was:

Liberace was on some random radio station playing “The Way We Were.”

Yeah, Liberace.

My grandmother adored everything about Liberace.

Me? Not so much.

But back in the late 50s and early 60s, we watched his television shows together all the time.

And Liberace began and ended each show by singing “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which became his theme song.

Liberace’s song choice was the perfect ending and beginning to every one of his shows, capturing the hearts of so many, including Mammy, reminding his viewers of love, hope, and, ultimately, the pain of separation.

I was never a fan of Liberace. But I endured hours and hours of his flamboyance because it gave Mammy such joy, which she usually didn’t have much of.

And his “Specials” were the Liberace highlight of her year. Urgh. It seemed like every month Liberace had another special — Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Las Vegas, Hawaii, London…

You name any Liberace show; I probably watched it with Mammy.

Perhaps you could say that tuning into Liberace on the radio yesterday was a mere coincidence.

But I don’t think so.

I turned up the radio super loud and belted out the words as Liberace played the piano:

♪ ♪ ♪ MemoriesLight the corners of my mindMisty watercolor memories
Of the way we were ♪ ♪ ♪

♪ ♪ ♪ So it’s the laughterWe will rememberWhenever we rememberThe way we were ♪ ♪ ♪

Thank you, Mammy. And rest assured, I’ll be seeing you.