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enchanting news

Dear Reader,

I’m thrilled to announce that my first novel, The Mermaid Mahjong Circle – A Fairy Tale for Women, has just been published! (For those of you who have already heard this news, thank you so much for your overwhelming response! I beg your indulgence here, as this is just a chance for me to reach all followers of my blog with this update.)

The Mermaid Mahjong Circle follows two lifelong friends and artists, Evie and Hannah, as they embark on an adventure that takes them from the present to the past and back again, thanks to a tale about a mysterious mahjong tile crafted a century ago. From the moment they discover the extraordinary tile on a beach near San Francisco, they are caught up in the adventure of their lives, an amazing journey that tests the parameters of how far they can open their minds and their hearts to the power of friendship, of art, and of believing in something outside of reality that will change them forever. Smart, funny, and whimsical, with a touch of magic, it’s a nod to women empowering themselves through the things that matter most to them. Enter the circle and become enchanted.

The Mermaid Mahjong Circle is available as a paperback and an ebook. You can purchase it at amazon.combarnesandnoble.com, and lots of other online booksellers.

I hope you’ll give it a read and tell your friends to pick up a copy too! If you love it, please say a few words on those websites or here in the comments section. And please like and share on social media.

Thanks so much for all of your support!

Mermaids and mahjong and magic — oh my.

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

 
 
 
 
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home field advantage

One of the most common changes that this time of quarantine-at-home-except-for-essentials has brought is that of working remotely from home. For those of us who do that all the time (like me), what makes it so different now (aside from the awfulness of the world situation, of course) is that now my college-professor husband is doing it as well. In the same home. At the same time. For the indefinite future.

In short, the playing field has changed.

[Before I go on, I need to say that, given what others are going through and doing, these are not complaints. Merely humorous observations about my current situation. To the medical professionals who literally put their lives out there everyday; the first responders who do not wait even a second to rush through that proverbial front door; the delivery people and store personnel who keep us stocked with what we need — we owe you all the gratitude in the world. And then some.]

Class has been in session in our home for the past three weeks. Four days a week, anywhere from three to six hours a day. And since two of those days have three-hour classes in the evening, you could say that I can be caught lurking at any time.

To wit:

Sneaking from my bedroom office into the kitchen to score a snack (then running back to the bedroom to unwrap it — too much noise otherwise in the dining-room area, which is B.’s office). Popping up in the background of his computer screen to flit in and turn up the thermostat when it’s too chilly. Creeping in through the front door with my groceries as quickly and quietly as I can so that Zoom doesn’t zoom in on my antics.

And antics they are. Because our fridge is on the fritz, we’re talking mostly pantry items, particularly cans of soup. Cans that roll out of bags and onto the floor if you’re not careful. Cans that stack up nicely on pantry shelves unless you misjudge.

Then Newton’s laws take over. The law of gravity, of course. And the law that talks about how an object in motion stays in motion. Until you manage to trap said object under the legs of a kitchen chair and crawl around after it, all the while attempting to maintain some semblance of quiet. And some sense of balance. Or not. And trying not to curse when you prove Newton right. (Gives new meaning to the idea of calling an audible.)

To his credit, B. doesn’t miss a beat. The lecture continues, the answers to the students’ questions go on uninterrupted, and I am learning quite a lot. (This week, specifically, about torts in one course and personal property in the other). Of course, being the student I am, I find myself wanting to shout out the answers. I did that once — then sprinted away in my bunny slippers before anyone figured out it was me.

But the biggest learning curve came on day one when I decided I wanted to sit in on the class (out of Zoom’s way, of course). So there I was, curled up on the living room love seat, playing Candy Crush on my tablet while I listened to B. teach. All was going well — for both of us — until his video went out. Uh-oh.  Because — who knew? — our internet speed is too slow to support two devices fighting for that much WiFi at the same time.

Oops. Looks like my candy crushed the connection.

Remote control.

 

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

 

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keep calm and try to laugh on

It’s one of those moments that make history  — unfortunately, for a scary reason. With the advent of the coronavirus and all the fear it brings, these are very tough times indeed. And trying to find the light — and the lighter things — about these days is not at all easy. So we muddle through, we make every effort to be aware and try to be safe; we hope that the experts find their way to getting us past it and keeping us healthy; and we do our best to take care of ourselves and each other.

And I truly believe that that includes looking for a laugh, or even a giggle, wherever we can. To wit:

After doing my weekly supermarket run yesterday — my first hint that it was going to be a long day was that at 7:30 am there were far too many cars in the parking lot — I ventured to take my mother-in-law out for her supermarket run. The item high on her list? Toilet paper. (Go ahead, laugh. It’s funny.)

I couldn’t find any for her at my supermarket so, before picking her up (and after packing up a few rolls from our place for her), I headed over to Target. It wasn’t even 9 am and, when I arrived, I saw people on line to pay, their carts overflowing (I kid you not) with packs and packs of TP — 12-roll packs, 24-roll packs, 72-roll packs. (Seems like a bit of overkill but whatever makes you feel better, right?)

So, feeling optimistic, I approached the paper goods aisle — only to find it empty. Not a single roll of toilet paper to be found. Not a sheet. No two-ply, no one-ply, no reply.

On my way out of the store I stopped at customer service to suggest that perhaps they might want to put a limit on TP purchases per customer?

“Oh, we do,” I was reassured. “The limit is six packages.”

“Six packages?” I was incredulous. “That means people are walking out of here with anywhere from 72 to 432 rolls of toilet paper.” I paused for effect. “Don’t you think that’s a little excessive?” No reply.

Okay, now the hunt was on. I grabbed my mother-in-law and we headed off to her supermarket where, to no one’s surprise, there was no toilet paper. Huge, 45-minute lines, though, and a pre-K teacher in front of us who explained adorably that tissues were her back-up to toilet paper and that napkins were her back-up to paper towels — as the lines backed up all the way to the back of the store.

And then the main event. From seemingly nowhere, a woman’s voice rang out. She was confronting another woman, whose only crime was that she had inadvertently and mistakenly thought she was getting on the end of the line. Unfortunately, she was wrong. The end of the line was way further away; in fact, the line was broken in the middle by a space for carts to get by and then continued beyond that space.  

And Ms. Aisle Rage was taking her to task. “I’m sorry,” the other woman said, pointing at the line behind her. “I didn’t realize that the line continued from here.” “You didn’t realize?” Ms. Aisle Rage bellowed before threatening, “You better get that finger out of my face or I’ll bite it off!” Figuring it was best not to inform the bully that the finger wasn’t pointed anywhere near her face but behind her, the other woman retreated. Very nice. I wondered whom Ms. Aisle Rage had run over to get the multi-pack of toilet paper in her cart.

But it wasn’t all bad. There was the lovely woman we had met at the fish counter. (For no one but my mother-in-law would I stand at a fish counter. It’s just … ugh. The only fish I’ll eat is tuna on rye and even then, meh). This woman informed us that there was plenty of TP at Home Depot. “Toilet paper, water, and paper towels,” she pronounced. “And you know why? Because only men shop there and they don’t buy any of that stuff.” Okaaaay.

So after the supermarket, that’s where we headed. Did I mention that by now it had started pouring? It doesn’t rain in southern California for months and months at a time but now, when the entire region was out buying toilet paper, it chose to do so. Maybe the heavens were crying over the world crisis — or maybe they were laughing so hard that they were brought to tears.

Anyway, to no one’s real surprise, Home Depot had no toilet paper. “Maybe we should ask someone if they have any in the back?” my mother-in-law piped up. Gotta love the enthusiasm, but no. And no.

We finally drove back to her place and I helped her unpack, leaving her with a total of three rolls, three boxes of tissues, and three wishes that I could find just one pack of two-ply. Sigh.

So, because I have a hard time admitting defeat, on my way home I took a detour to one final supermarket. Walking in, I saw people with TP in their carts — not excessive amounts. My heart beating faster, I took off to the paper goods aisle. And there it was. Not Charmin. Not Cottonelle. Not even Angel Soft. A few four-packs of the store brand — double rolls! the package exclaimed although they were puny — awaited. I grabbed one and drove the treasure back to the woman who had done me the enormous favor of giving birth to the love of my life.

A little bit of laughter in the face of all this fear was just what we needed. (I could have lived without the long lines, but what are you going to do?). We’ll just have to grin and bear it.

Life rolls on.

 

 

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

 

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just seventeen

I Saw Her Standing There by the Beatles. That’s what was playing on that June day 45 years ago — at the mailboxes at Cornell — when B. and I met as high-school kids. And for all these years, whenever he hears that song on the car radio, he never turns it off until it’s done. Or if it plays while we’re out and about (in the grocery store, on line at the movies, at the airport) he’ll always grab my hand for a few dance steps. “She was just seventeen …” So was I.

Everyone’s got their life music, of course. I just thought I’d play a few bars of ours here:

Feels Like Home — Linda Rondstadt  This is the song B. introduced me to when I first visited him in Santa Barbara, when we reconnected after lots of years. We knew I’d be moving there from New York to be with him, and there was no more perfect way to welcome me into our life together. “All the way back where I belong,” indeed.

In the Mood — Glenn Miller  A bit of a non-traditional “first dance” song for our wedding, but then again, our wedding (just us, a judge, and two friends) was way beyond traditional. We learned to swing dance for the video. Sort of. If you don’t look too closely. Let’s just say that a dress with a bit more of a full skirt would have helped. And only 22 years from the day we met: “Don’t keep me waitin’ when I’m in the mood.”

If I Should Fall Behind — Bruce Springsteen  Just a beautiful, poignant, tender song about moving through life together. And for two Springsteen fans like us, it couldn’t be more perfect or telling about how we view ourselves and each other. “I’ll wait for you / And if I should fall behind / Wait for me.” Gets me every time.

You’ve Got a Friend — Carole King  Because we’re each other’s best friends, pure and simple, with all the comfort that holds. And also because if that’s what’s playing in B.’s ear when he comes home from walking, he’ll put one of the buds in my ear so we can share it. (I know — I’m very lucky to have found him. I also know that we’re annoyingly adorable, sorry.) “You know wherever I am / I’ll come running / To see you again.” Lacing up the Nikes right now.

What did I think when I saw B. standing there all those years ago? “My heart went boom.”

Still does.

 

©2020 Claudia Grossman

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weeping purple and gold

I was never a basketball fan until I moved from New York to LA — a move that coincided with Kobe Bryant joining the LA Lakers. And then nothing was ever the same.

Kobe was much more than a legend, much more than an icon, much more than “not human” in his capabilities and the magic he spun each night on the basketball court. His was the heart of a champion, the heart of this city. And our hearts are broken.

His being human became only too real yesterday when we heard the devastating news of his death, made even more tragic by the fact that his daughter died with him. And the loss to his wife and three other daughters is something I cannot even begin to fathom or to imagine getting through. The loss to this city is merely a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the holes left in their hearts. And to them we can only extend our deepest condolences and the hope that they find the light they need in the memories of their love.

To this city, Kobe was more than the favorite Laker of all time, the most brilliant Laker of all time (and the pool to choose from runs incredibly deep), or even the most driven Laker of all time. In a city that bleeds purple and gold (sorry Clippers), Kobe was ours. Our brother, our son, our guy. He was always there, always invincible (even in defeat), always a fearless leader. His spirit was indomitable, his competitive instinct pure black mamba, his eye to win unblinking. Kobe was LA and LA was Kobe’s.

To think of him as no longer here is not yet possible; he was just too much a part of our lives. And while his loss reverberates around the globe, it is particularly devastating for Angelenos. The city’s favorite son is gone and we are left reeling.

Godspeed, Kobe.

MVP.

 

©2020 Claudia Grossman

 

 

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role call

Awards season is here in full swing and, I’ll confess, I do love it. While New York has Times Square on New Year’s Eve and Chicago has its green river on St. Patty’s Day, awards season belongs to LA (spoken like  someone who has called this place home for nearly 24 years). Because the season is so much about acting, I’ve got actors on my brain. And because my brain loves to play name games (I’ve spent 20 years naming nail lacquer colors), today’s name is Brad.

Ready? Let’s play.

Bradley Whitford  Among his multiple Emmy wins and his chilling turn as Dean Armitage in the film Get Out, it is Whitford’s role as Josh Lyman in West Wing that stands out. As the brilliant, cocky, quick-witted, charming, and, yes, vulnerable, Josh, Whitford created a character who proves the point that smart can be sexy. And Josh was very, very smart.

Bradley Cooper  With four Oscar acting nominations alone, Bradley Cooper is amazing to watch onscreen. His range is extraordinary and his audience connection is powerful — never more so than as Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born. If you caught him in that movie (please say you did), he won your heart and then shattered it into a million pieces. All while proving that two-day scruff, long hair, and a raspy voice are why we’ve always loved our rock stars. And the man certainly is that.

Brad Pitt  There’s a good reason that Pitt has won both the Golden Globe and the SAG award for his role as Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — and I’d bet on his taking home an Oscar as well. The man is an absolute natural in front of the camera (as proven by so much of his work), making it all seem effortless. There’s a confidence that comes right  through the camera and lands with a “wow.” One of Hollywood’s golden boys (he’s in good company — ever hear of Robert Redford or Paul Newman?), Pitt is a movie star in the full sense of the word. Being rakishly handsome (ever hear of Robert Redford or Paul Newman?) only adds to the charm.

Full disclosure — I might have once named a nail lacquer I’m with Brad. As for its namesake, I’m not talking.

LA confidential.

 

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

 

 

 

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time after time

When it comes to movies and books, there is one genre that I love to hate. And that would be time travel. While its intention, I believe, is a good one, and its creation comes from a good place, no other genre can make me quite as unsure, unsettled, and unwaveringly uninterested.

First of all, the idea that someone can, in a blink, be transported back (or worse, ahead) to a strange time and place just flat out terrifies me. You mean one minute I’m walking along, minding my own business, and dropping in for a hot chocolate at the place down the street, and the next I’m in ancient Egypt, being told to walk across an enormous sea to some mysterious new land with neither hot chocolate nor whipped cream even a twinkle on the horizon? No thanks.

Or how about this — I’m sitting courtside at a Lakers game (of course I haven’t done that, but play along here) one moment only to find myself at the court of Henry the Eighth the next. Suddenly, instead of cheering at a pick and roll, I’m hoping I don’t get picked for the role of wife number seven.

Aside from the whole being displaced thing, there’s the chance that you could change the course of history in a bad way if you inadvertently alter some detail. What if I get transported to 18th century Boston and I accidentally step out in front of Paul Revere’s horse on that fateful night? One if by land, two if by sea all of a sudden turns into never mind, it’s too late. And there goes the American Revolution. What, you think it couldn’t happen?

And finally, there’s the whole confusion of it.

Take The Time Travelers Wife, for example. B. read it, I declined. But given that we talk to each other about every single thing every single day, he ended up telling me the story as he read it. By the end, I was crying hysterically. The idea that Clare spent her whole life up until she was an old woman waiting for Henry to return as a young man just left me in a pool of tears on the floor. But that wasn’t the worst part — having B. try to explain to me that Henry and Clare first met when she was a little girl and he was middle aged, but they married when she was older and he was a younger version of the man she had originally met — aghhh!

Or the original Back to the Future. Even though B. and I saw it on a very romantic date, these days it can make me run screaming from the room. Marty McFly going back in time to the 1950s was fun — until he met his future parents. Turns out his mother had a crush on him (ugh!) and Marty had to make sure that his parents met and fell in love so that he would be born in the future. Whaaat? I was one mixed-up, messed-up chick trying to figure that one out.

B. would love it if we could time travel. And while I would go anywhere with him, I really would prefer to stay in this dimension. The chances of finding ourselves in the Twilight Zone are just too great.

Good times.

 

© 2020 Claudia Grossman

 

 

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