November 30, 2007

Homework: A Rant

For the first six years of grade school, my oldest daughter went to schools in Manhattan and Maine that did not give homework except for some long-term reading expectations. At the time I didn't sufficiently appreciate how lovely and stress free after-school time was.

November 27, 2007

Sharing a Room

Emily at Wheels on the Bus had an excellent post today on children's sharing rooms. Since I had a 2-bedroom apartment, a 3-bedroom apartment, and then a 3-bedroom house, my 4 daughters always shared rooms until the older ones went to college and shared rooms with absolute strangers.

Growing up, I was the only girl with 5 younger brothers; from the time I was 7, I had my own room. Before that, I shared a bedroom with my 2 younger brothers. I always wanted a sister, and I would have been happy to share a room with her. I always had roommates in college and in my first Manhattan apartments before I got married. My husband came from a family of 5 kids, and he always shared a room with his brother.

We took it for granted that our kids would share bedrooms. Originally we planned to stay in a New York City apartment, and only millionaires have a big enough apartment to give each of 4 children their own room. In no way did we ever feel we were depriving our kids because they didn't have their own rooms. In our 3-bedroom Manhattan apartment, 3 of them decided to sleep in the same bedroom, so they could use the extra bedroom as a playroom.

Getting the baby out of our bedroom was much easier because she looked forward to sharing a room with her sisters. Sharing bedrooms made bedtime easier all through early childhood.
I suspect my girls are closer because of their enforced togetherness. Sure there were conflicts, especially over cleaning rooms. I do recall my second child putting a strip of duct tape down the center of the room to establish cleaning responsibilities. Possibly they played more outside their bedrooms since they had less room.

Sharing rooms is excellent preparation for college. My kids always had roommates in college in dorm rooms much smaller than the usual bedroom. At Yale, one year, they had to share bunkbeds. In major US cities, most people share apartments for economic reasons.

I am 62. I only had my own room for 16 years--11 years of my childhood and 5 years between marriages. I have never felt deprived:)

November 19, 2007

Discipline--Grandmothers and Mothers

Reading other mothers’ blogs, I am feeling all of my 63 years and every strand of my silver hair. Although I might feel more comfortable with these eloquent younger women, I belong to their mothers’ generation and might symbolize for them their mothers’ mistakes. I was born a month before the end of World War II. I am six months too old to be a baby boomer. Most of my contemporaries didn’t stay home with their kids, didn’t have 4 children, and pitied me for my domestic imprisonment.

I was often surprised by how much stricter some of the blogging mothers seem to be. My oldest daughter, 35, speculated that her generation believed more in discipline than their parents did, because so many of their parents worked long hours and used permissiveness to assuage their guilt about their unavailability to their kids. Do you think she has a point? Or does the economic necessity of entrusting children to group or nanny care at younger ages demand better behavior than parents who stay at home would expect or tolerate?

My four daughters were not model children. I was better at stimulation and creativity than boundaries and discipline. They were excellent students when they showed up in school. In retrospect, I permitted an overly permissive ad hoc homeschooling option for the easily bored who could cough convincingly. They did not speak to their grandparents, teachers, any other adults the way they were allowed to speak to their parents. I often heard about my charming, delightful daughters.

I wonder if today’s moms would let their kids play with my kids. My kids were allowed to express their feelings endlessly. They rarely picked up their toys and their rooms were unspeakable. Chronically late, they often needed to be driven to a that was close enough to walk to. Household chores were not their strong points. No doubt I was rebelling against the strict, guilt-inducing discipline of my Catholic childhood. I transferred my first daughter to another public school because her teacher said "for shame" to her on the second day of kindergarten.

I was not permissive about violence. I always stopped my oldest daughter from hitting her younger sister. She was only 2; I didn't punish her. But I made a big deal of encouraging her to express her anger in words. "Use words not hitting to tell Michelle how you feel." Anne dictated stories and drew pictures to express how she felt about her sister. The books were simple affairs. I folded construction paper, used a hole puncher on the fold, and tied the sheets together with string. I kept them, and everyone still loves to read them. I always took away the toy used as a weapon. By the time Anne was 4 and Michelle was 2, they usually could play happily with blocks without mayhem.

Punishment would not have taught Anne a lifelong way of handling her anger; it would have just made her more rebellious. I hurt my back when she was 3 and could not play with her as usual. "Draw me a picture of the dummy mommy with the bad back," she instructed. She then took a pencil and stabbed that picture countless times. I was appalled, but it helped her. Anne had almost perfect recall of her dreams from the time she was 2. Their violence was a revelation. "Daddy went under the train last night because I didn't like his noise. Then I went to live with Ellen." "But Ellen sometimes yells at her children," I pointed out. "Then she will have to go under the train too," Anne said matter of factly. Now Ann works for a world peace organization.

My two younger daughters were relatively peaceful creatures who were born using words not weapons. Carolyn, the baby, was babbling once her head was born. Their older sisters adored them. I attributed such harmony to the sibling bonding that occurred when Rose and Carolyn were born at home. Three and one half years apart rather than 2 years apart make a tremendous difference. Rose, my third daughter, would remind me that toddler Carolyn sometimes bit her without provocation, and Rose, a wonderful big sister, never responded in kind.

Disciplining them for verbal aggression would have been a full-time job. Their father and I were not perfect role models. When I was 7 years old and made my first confession, my sins were: disobedience, talking back to my parents, and hitting my brothers. In succeeding years, despite frequent repentance, I managed to stop hitting my brothers, but made little progress on the other two sins. We tolerated our daughters talking back to us if they were not abusive. "I hate you mommy" was acceptable if they could articulate their anger more specifically. I admit “respect” was not a word they heard frequently.

My younger daughter’s daughter's college application essay gives an evaluation of my discipline style I don’t deserve: "We were never spanked or severely punished when we did something Mom disapproved of. Instead, she simply told us how she felt about it. I'm sure some parents would say that my sisters and I weren't disciplined enough. However, I've noticed that when friends of mine are grounded, they often complain about their unfair parents, but I take it very seriously when Mom tells me she's disappointed in me. “ She charitably left out all the times I let them behave in a way I found intolerable and then I screamed at them. Obviously it would have been better to respect my limits and save them from my harsh words.

We were strict about academics, safety, and seatbelts. Dropping out of honors classes or not taking advancement placement courses because they required too much work was never acceptable. Possibly we pressured them too much to succeed academically, but we expected them to honor their considerable intellectual gifts. We threw out our television set when our oldest was four and didn’t get another for five years. We were extremely strict about TV; we had a lock on it. They could not watch TV on school nights. We rejoiced that we had the only teenagers who felt they were being bad by watching TV. There were no problems with boys, booze, or drugs. We were relatively poor, so we didn't buy them lots of clothes or toys. We encouraged their interest in world affairs, occasionally took them to peace demonstrations.

I made countless mistakes, but they all are well-educated, compassionate, dedicated women, able to own and use all their particular gifts. They have met and married wonderful men. They assure me they are going to be much stricter with their kids and make them clean up their room, vacuum, mop, clean bathrooms and go to school every single day they are not running a 103 fever. We all try not to repeat our parents' mistakes, possibly then making our grandparents' mistakes. We might only learn the truth about our parenting by watching our children parent our grandchildren. My oldest daughter is a far better mother than I was with her, but my first grandson is only 15 months old. Anne and Michael are an excellent match. When people tell me he is all boy, I always demur, saying he is all his mother. Anne was much more like my mother than she was like me. Sometimes I felt squashed between two very powerful, dominant personalities.


Gardening is in my blood. My grandparents had World War II victory gardens. My parents had a big backyard, about a third of an acre. My dad was a vegetable gardener, my mom grew flowers. Neither of them were great cooks, so I don't remember specific family recipes. What I remember are delicious fresh vegetables--tomatoes, string beans, corn, zucchini, broccoli, lettuce. No tomatoes or corn have ever tasted as good. They had wonderful blueberries bushes, which supplied enough berries to freeze for winter cereal. Before my mom went back to college, she canned tomatoes.

Gardening was the perfect way for my dad to unwind from his actuarial job and his long railroad commute into Manhattan. I remember his encouraging us to start our own little gardens. I remember helping him plant strawberries. I remember picking off Japanese beetles from the rose bushes and putting them in a jar of something that killed them. The garden was the best place for long talks with dad, away from the noise of too many brothers in a too small house.

After we moved to Long Island in 1983, I slowly became a gardener. I am erratic. I like to garden in the spring and fall before the summer heat drains my energy and motivation. I plant more than I weed. I usually grow herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and eggplant. We have lots of perennials in the front yard; zinnias seem the ideal summer annual. Pruning and cutting the grass was an ideal way to deal with my anger in the years when my first marriage was dying. Visiting the garden first thing in the morning energizes me. Weeding is good for depression.

Since I became a grandmother, nurturing my grandson has replaced gardening. I look forward to introducing Michael to gardening when he is two and telling him stories about the great-grandparents he never met.

November 13, 2007

NYTimes--Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say

The New York Times has an important article today that is must reading for all parents concerned about their young children's behavioral problems.

Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say --by Benedict Carey
"Educators and psychologists have long feared that children entering school with behavior problems were doomed to fall behind in the upper grades. But two new studies suggest that those fears are exaggerated.

One concluded that kindergartners who are identified as troubled do as well academically as their peers in elementary school. The other found that children with attention deficit disorders suffer primarily from a delay in brain development, not from a deficit or flaw.

Experts say the findings of the two studies, being published today in separate journals, could change the way scientists, teachers and parents understand and manage children who are disruptive or emotionally withdrawn in the early years of school. The studies might even prompt a reassessment of the possible causes of disruptive behavior in some children.
“I think these may become landmark findings, forcing us to ask whether these acting-out kinds of problems are secondary to the inappropriate maturity expectations that some educators place on young children as soon as they enter classrooms,” said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education, who was not connected with either study. "

My comments: Parts of the article annoyed me. The experts seemed perfectly comfortable with kids' taking stimulants for ADHD until their development catches up with prevailing educational norms. They do concede that most kids grow out of ADHD. Why is American society so comfortable with drugging kids rather than changing schools so they can accommodate kids with different learning styles and different rates of cognitive development?

My two older children went to an excellent public school near the World Trade Center, run by a very gifted principal, Blossom Gelertner. Blossom felt that teachers and parents should not be concerned about boys who were slow to read until the boys were 8. My daughter teaches first grade in Boston; teachers now worry about kids who can't read when they enter first grade. I have always been an excellent reader, but I only learned my letters in first grade. By the end of the year, I was reading at a sixth grade level. Experienced parents have learned that readiness is all when it comes to crawling, walking, talking, toilet training, weaning, the move to a regular bed, etc. What have so many educators forgotten that lesson?

November 12, 2007

Duck and Cover, Assassinations, Civil Rights, and Vietnam

This is a picture of Robert Kennedy speaking at my graduation from Fordham University in 1967. RFK was running for president in 1968 when he was assassinated June 5, ten days before my wedding. I had a final wedding dress fitting the day of the assassination, and I was in tears the whole time.

My first specific political memory centered around the duck-and -cover, hide-under-our-desks, exercises that were a regular feature of my early school life from age 5 on. I knew enough about nuclear war to be terrified. We lived one mile away from an air force base, and I used to go out to the backyard, look up at the planes, and try to determine if they were American or Russian. I remember getting a book out of the library on aircraft identification. When I heard Joseph Stalin died, I remember asking if that meant no one would drop atom bombs on us.

In 1954 I had a severe case of the measles and Grandma Nolan came to help nurse me. She was listening to the Joseph McCarthy army hearings. Hatred of McCarthy's voice might have shaped my entire political development. In 1956, just turning eleven, I fell madly in love with Jack Kennedy as he made an unsuccessful bid for the vice presidential nomination. A good catholic school girl, I was initially attracted by his Catholicism; ten minutes later I was smitten by his intelligence, wit, and charm. I was luckier than his other women. Loving Jack Kennedy was good for me. I read about politics and history. From 1956 to 1963, I read everything I could about Kennedy, politics, American History.. When I was 15 I did volunteer work for his presidential campaign.

In high school we had political debates to imitate the famous Kennedy/Nixon debates and I represented Kennedy. What he believed in, I believed in. Gradually I moved to the left of his pragmatic liberalism. Certainly Kennedy was responsible for my decision to major in political science in college. Kennedy's assassination, occurring in the fall of my freshman year in college, devastated me. I felt like there had been a death in my immediate family. I quickly transferred my political allegiance to Bobby Kennedy.

I cannot precisely date my interest in and commitment to civil rights. When I was a freshman, I joined my college's Interracial Understanding Group. I was envious of those college students who could afford to spend the summer down south registering voters and didn't have to worry about money to pay their tuition.

Gradually during college I became a pacifist. Opposition to the Vietnam War right from the beginning was the catalyst. My husband to be, John, applied for conscientious objector status and was willing to face jail rather than be inducted. We became very active in the Catholic Peace Fellowship, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the War Resister's League, all pacifist organizations. We went on several anti-war demonstrations both in New York and Washington. I briefly attended Stanford University where resistance to the war was at its height. Almost every afternoon, David Harris, Joan Baez's future husband, spoke out eloquently against the war.

My first job after Stanford was as an assistant to Victor Riesel, a labor columnist, who had been blinded by acid thrown in his face by the mob who controlled the waterfront he was exposing. My assignments included reading the AP ticker to him every day, clipping and reading articles in about 20 newspaper and labor papers. This was in 1968, when King and Kennedy were assassinated, when anti-war protect was at its height, so thinking about politics were my job. My decision to go to law school, where I lasted two weeks, was motivated by my political convictions.
Mary Virginia Nolan was born August 11, 1921 in Brooklyn, NY. She is the second oldest of 8 children; she has five brothers and two sisters. One sister, Veronica, died at 2 years old. She grew up in Queens Village, NY. Her dad, a lawyer, died when she was 17 after being seriously ill most of her teenage years. Mary was always the super-responsible oldest daughter, trying to help her mom anyway she could. She attended Our Lady of Wisdom Academy in Ozone Park. She has kept up with her high school friends all her life. She was an excellent student and planned to attend college; she wanted to be a journalist. Her father's death changed everything, and she instead went to secretarial school and worked as a secretary. In her early 20's she attended Queens College at night, but stopped taking classes after she contacted pneumonia.

My Dad's Yearbook Profile

No problem, riddle, or formula seems to be beyond his ken. He is the outstanding scientist of St. Francis College; he is the winner of the coveted Smith Memorial Medal for excellence in Science. Yet even his own brilliance could not fathom the enigma of Joe Koch. In many ways Joe is a walking paradox. He seldom laughs outright; in fact his picture would lead one to believe that he is a sombre pessimist. Yet it is his nimble wit that makes him a distinctive personality. His humor is never loud; rather it is whimsical and epigrammatic.

To be the leading scholar of the college it is necessary to do more work than the average. A student who is desirous of attaining official recognition must sit at home and do extra assignments. That is the normal procedure. But is that the form fol owed by our human riddle? Certainly not! He is actually scrupulous about not doing more than the assignment requires. He does exactly what he is demanded to do and not one jot more. What he does, however, is of such undeniable excellence that he was one of the first men picked for the Duns Scotus Honor Society.

With regards to one trait, however, Joe appears to contain no contradictions. That is his quality of intense loyalty to his friends.

Joe's Yearbook Profile

No problem, riddle, or formula seems to be beyond his ken. He is the outstanding scientist of St. Francis College; he is the winner of the coveted Smith Memorial Medal for excellence in Science. Yet even his own brilliance could not fathom the enigma of Joe Koch. In many ways Joe is a walking paradox. He seldom laughs outright; in fact his picture would lead one to believe that he is a sombre pessimist. Yet it is his nimble wit that makes him a distinctive personality. His humor is never loud; rather it is whimsical and epigrammatic.

To be the leading scholar of the college it is necessary to do more work than the average. A student who is desirous of attaining official recognition must sit at home and do extra assignments. That is the normal procedure. But is that the form fol owed by our human riddle? Certainly not! He is actually scrupulous about not doing more than the assignment requires. He does exactly what he is demanded to do and not one jot more. What he does, however, is of such undeniable excellence that he was one of the first men picked for the Duns Scotus Honor Society.

With regards to one trait, however, Joe appears to contain no contradictions. That is his quality of intense loyalty to his friends.

Little Brother

I have always loved this picture of me and my brother Joe, 18 months younger, taken in the fall of 1948. This might have been the last time I had the advantage over Joe. I seem smugly satisfied by his captivity. In my baby book my mom claims that "Mary Jo and Joe were always ahead of mother. Often though she forgot he was so small and played rough." I am dubious; he does not look intimidated. Joe always pulled the wool over mom's eyes. She never knew that Joe's babysitting consisted of taking his brothers out on the roof and daring them to jump into the swimming pool.

All our lives, I have never been sure when Joe is pulling my leg. For 50 years he made me feel guilty for pushing him down the cellar stairs in his walker. He blames all his academic inadequacies on the resulting head injury. I believed him since Andrew (3 years younger) and I were so much better students. Before her death my mom revealed that Lorraine, our next door neighbor, was the real culprit. Significantly, I thought I might have wanted to eliminate him.
From age 7, I regularly asked forgiveness in confession for hitting my brothers. The priest should have been more skeptical about my resolution of never doing it again.

My mom and dad must have been dedicated to nurturing their children's unique gifts at whatever cost, so Santa was allowed to bring Joe a drum and me a baton. We lived in a tiny two bedroom, one bathroom, one-story house. Was Joe allowed to play the drum inside? This picture proves the falsity of Joe's accusation that I regularly beat him up. If I been a brother slayer, surely my mom and dad would not have trusted me with such an effective weapon. Richard obviously had not a fear in the world that my baton would come in contact with his head or his drum.

Joe is an amazing brother. I have always been in awe of him. Like my mom he much so much braver, bolder, eager to try new things, capable of stunningly creative mischief. I admired his becoming an altar boy when I knew Latin so much better. I admired his serving God and making a profit with wedding and funeral tips. I admired his persistence in track and cross country in high school when he never won and no one came to his meets. I admired his taking the driving test five separate times.

Joe came home from college with a trunk full of new shirts. He had been too busy gambling away his scholarship to do the laundry. Joe decided to try skiing for the first time the day before his wedding. He badly injured his knee and needed a shot of cortisone to limp his way up to the altar. The Epistle described how "my love comes leaping to me like a gazelle." I admired his courageous decision to resist induction into the army and go to jail if he didn't get conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. I was impressed by his success at keeping his plan to refuse induction in 6 weeks a secret from his bride's family at the wedding.

Joe has fathered 6 children, been a prison librarian, ran a gas station, taught in a ghetto school, built a playground, sold coffee and ice cream, ran a chain of newspapers, been CFO of the largest US used truck company, owned an oil company, sold escalator efficiency equipment, and finally found fulfillment as CFO of his older daughter's company. He has always been a rock, supporting me and my daughters in all our trials and craziness. Sometimes his support is endless, infuriating advice. But I always know he persists in being wrong because he truly loves me.

Does Fear of Automatic Flushing Toilets Qualify as a Psychiatric Diagnosis?

The New York Times today has an interesting story on young children's fear of automatic flushing toilets. I certainly understand their fears. My daughter Rose was terrified of baths until her dad taught her the word "vortex" to explain the water draining out of the tub.

Buried in the article in this absurd statement:

Jerilyn Ross, president of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, said that a fear of automatic toilets did not, in itself, meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis. “Anxiety in and of itself is normal and healthy,” she said, “but when anxiety is excessive, irrational, and if it interferes with one’s daily life, then it may be an anxiety disorder, which is something that may need to be treated.”

Surely, some psychiatrists must question the tendency to make more and more human eccentricities and idiosyncracies grounds for psychiatric diagnosis.

November 11, 2007

Wartime Love Letters

Mary and Joe, March 6, 1944; honeymoon

For Remembrance Day, Mad Hatter published a fascinating post about boxes of wartime letters she found when remodeling her old house. Her post has special resonance for me because I have 20 plastic boxes full of letters my parents wrote from November 1942, when my dad was drafted, until February 1946, when he came home from France and saw me for the first time. I keep postponing doing something with themt. I started a blog of the letters, Mary and Joe: World War II Love Story, but I haven't kept it up. My father particularly was a wonderful writer, who never wrote anything but these letters. Mad Hatter inspired me to go back to that project.

My daughter Rose wrote this about the wartime letters several years ago. She included excerpts from the letters that I am not including here.
In my grandmother's house, past a stone Mexican statue named Harry, up the front stairs and to the right there is a bedroom. In this bedroom there are a pea green carpet, a bed with yellow and orange flowered sheets, and a cracked blue dresser. This dresser, unlike every other bureau and closet in this house, does not contain any seventies-style ties, old scarves, or early feminist t-shirts. Instead every drawer is filled with letters.

Joe lived in Jamaica, Queens, with his parents and six younger sisters and brothers. His college yearbook said of him, "Even his own brilliance could not fathom the enigma that is Joe." Mary lived in Queens Village. She was the second child, and the oldest girl, in a family of seven. Her high school yearbook described her as, "Sincerity coupled with bubbling vivacity, scholastic excellence with literary talents, athletic prowess, sparkling wit." She would not have a college yearbook until many years later, because her father had died without much life insurance when she was seventeen years old. Her father's brother squeezed together the money for her older brother to continue school at St. John's, but Mary was just a girl.

Mary and Joe had met the summer of 1942, on a raft at Loon Lake in the Adirondacks. He was 28, she was 21. A week later, back in Queens, he took her to see Bambi. They saw each other often in the three months after Bambi became Prince of the forest, and before Joe was drafted. He kissed her for the first time on the day he left for the army.

They will get engaged the night before her 22nd birthday in August 1943 and will marry the next March. The wedding will not be fancy, since it was planned in about four days and no one had much money anyway. The reception will be in Mary's backyard. Joe will go off to war in Europe, though his bad vision will ensure that he never faces combat. They will have their first child while he is away. There will be short letters to Baby Mary Jo, my mother, enclosed with the longer ones to Mary. Then in 1946, when Mary Jo is eight months old, Joe will finally come home and the letters will end.

They will have five more children, and the children will have fourteen kids of their own. Joe will die of Alzheimer's disease in May of 1987. Mary will become a lobbyist and counselor for victims of the disease and their families. She will become even more involved with her church, and even more of a rock for her distressingly heathen children and grandchildren. Mary will die in April 2004 of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

My grandparents' generation has been called "The Greatest Generation." They survived the depression, they fought Hitler. Yes, they did, but many of them also contributed to horrible racial injustice, and a few of them dropped the bomb. I suppose that talking about our parents' and grandparents' moral superiority is an improvement over not trusting them because they're over forty, but it's not much of an improvement. It would be far more honest to say that they did some very good things, and some very bad things. They had fewer toys, and certainly they wrote better love letters, but they were more or less just like us.

To put it another way, generation schmeneration. I'm not going to even try to judge. Instead I will sit here and read these letters. I will learn that my mother's mother is more than the grandma who babysat for us almost every week for ten years, and who is always inappropriately freezing things. I will learn that my mother's father was far more than the sick, confused old man I remember.

What We Wanted for Christmas

How did we know what we wanted for Christmas in the days before television, glossy newspaper and magazine advertisements? The Sears Christmas Wish Book was our bible. After it came in early November, my mom used to hide it for a few weeks, so we didn't have months to want things she couldn't afford to give us. I don't recall regular visits to department stores, though we probably did visit Santa Claus occasionally.

We had more generic requests--bikes, trains, truck, dolls, chemistry sets, tinker toys--than kids do today. I recall being thrilled with a cake baking set. We didn't long for specific brands, colors, sizes. Our presents did not require batteries. We were aware that mom and dad were not rich.

But my memory could be playing tricks on me. Perhaps I spent hours gazing over the Sears catalog and coming up with a 25-item list. In my old age, I have learned to mistrust memories that compare me favorably to younger generations. When my daughter Rose was 5, she said, "anything Santa wants to bring me for Christmas is fine with me." I doubt my brothers and I would have been so unmaterialistic.

November 9, 2007

Lady in Red

1947, 1948, 1957, 1971
Both Andrea and Bub and Pie have excellent posts about color. As the above pictures show, red has always been my favorite color since I was a little girl. My first tricycle was red. My blogs have a red banner, and the sidebar text is red. I have always wanted a red living room, but only managed to have one after my first marriage ended and my three older girls had left home. My red living room makes me happy as does my yellow kitchen, my blue bathroom, and my green bedroom. I struggle with depression, and red is the only reliable anti-depressant for me. "Better red than dead" has more than a political meaning.

When I met my first and second husbands I was wearing a red dress. I wore red for my second marriage. I love wearing red hats. I love red shoes, but find them hard to find for my wide feet. My favorite shoes ever were a pair of red suede boots. It is very easy to go shopping if you are looking for red, either in a thrift shop or a department store.

At job interviews with a man, I have worn red; with a woman, anything but red. Once, when I was manic, I had a red sweat shirt made up that proclaimed, "Never love a man who doesn't love Jane Austen, Doris Lessing, and Margaret Drabble." The owner of the shop told me no shirt had evoked more comment. Her favorite was a man who reacted, "That poor woman; she lives in the wrong country." Obviously he was right since I married an Englishman.

My favorite coat is a bright red fleece jacket I inherited from my mom when she died 3 years ago. When I wear it, I sometimes feel like she is giving me a hug. When I meet someone in Manhattan, I am easy to find--straight silver hair wearing red. It's sad how few New Yorkers wear red. PerhapstNew Yorkers should commemorate 9/11 by wearing red.

Reading Bub's Post, I wondered how I reconcile my lifelong introversion with red. Red is how I cope with my shyness. If I wasn't wearing red to a party or a meeting, I might disappear. When I am manic, I cope best by going to NYC , wearing red, and talking to strangers.Now at 62, I suspect my silver hair absolutely cancels out my redness.