9 posts

Caller Number Nine

It’s the spring of 1967, and 13-year-old Laura has one goal: to get beyond busy signals and play the Jet Set contest on radio station KHJ. What she doesn’t count on is winning. And then she does. One Monday morning before school Laura wins a trip for two to Hawaii with L.A.’s coolest D.J. and host of the Saturday night teen dance show on TV. Instant 15 minutes of fame! Caller Number Nine begins on a Princess telephone and shines under Hollywood lights and the glow of a Waikiki sunset. Yet how can something this exciting lead to so many […]

Another Brandon

(May 15, 2014) Hear the audio version Perhaps you’ve heard that the San Francisco Giants have three players on the team this year named Brandon. Their lockers are next to each other’s. They’ve turned some nifty Brandon-to-Brandon-to-Brandon double plays. Dodger Stadium celebrity P.A. announcer Justin Bateman even referred to the Giants’ shortstop as “Another Brandon.” I know what it’s like to have a common name: Deborah was one of the top-ten baby girl names every year of the 1950’s. There were five Debbies in my second-grade class. Twenty-five percent of that class was a Debbie/Debby … including the boys! There was another Debbie Duncan in my high […]

I Wish I Didn’t Know That

(December 20, 2013) Hear the audio version I was still in my jammies one morning in September when I received a chirpy “Your 23andMe Results Are Ready!” email from the Mountain View personal genetic testing company. A couple of clicks and password led me to a chart showing health risks identified by the spit test I’d sent in. Scanning quickly, I saw that I had more than three times the risk of developing celiac disease. No surprise there, as my daughter has it and I already knew I’d given her the gene. The report said I’m also at risk for other […]

Gluten Free-for-All

(July 25, 2013) Hear the audio version Have you been hearing the term gluten-free more lately? Well, I have, and I don’t think it’s only because my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease 21 years ago, and therefore follows a strict—and I mean strict—gluten-free diet: no wheat, barley, rye, or contaminated oats … ever. Even a crumb makes Molly violently ill. Long-term exposure could give her cancer. As her activist mother I’ve been promoting awareness about gluten and celiac disease for more than two decades. I thought it helped keep Molly safe and healthy. Now I’m not so sure. Gluten-free is […]

Sweet 16

(March 29, 2013) Hear the audio version So, how are your March Madness brackets looking this week? A little wobbly? Mine are good: Stanford and Cal are still standing. So are Baylor, UConn and Notre Dame. “Ohhh,” you say. “You’re talking about the women.” You bet! I’m always amazed when women who promote women’s causes all year ‘round and also like basketball often ignore the NCAA women’s tournament. This is not the basketball I played in high school pre-Title IX, wearing a ridiculous red jumper over a long-sleeved white blouse and not crossing the center line, as I was a forward and […]

Big Game in October?

(October 19, 2012) Hear the audio version Debbie:            Erin, you ready for Big Game this Saturday?   Erin:            We bleed blue at our house. GO BEARS!   Debbie:             Well, I’m not. Scheduling Big Game in October … It’s like—   Erin:            —moving New Year’s Eve to the 4th of July because the weather’s better?   Debbie:            Exactly. Big Game tradition goes back to the 19th century …   Erin:            … when it was called the Thanksgiving Game.   Debbie:            Because it was usually, and traditionally, played around Thanksgiving …   Erin:            … until this year.   Debbie:            Now it’s all about […]

School Daze

(August 13, 2012) Hear the audio version I’ve never been lonelier than on my first day of school in a new town. No matter how many times my dad’s job changes during the boom years of the Southern California defense industry made me have to start over in a new school, I never got used to looking out into a blur of unfamiliar faces at lunchtime, telling myself, “I will not cry. I will not cry.” Then before my sophomore year of high school my family moved across the country to Connecticut, where kids seemed to speak a different language. They […]