Such is life

It was 43 years ago. I was hitchhiking around the country. (What else was I supposed to do? After graduating from Princeton, I applied for and was turned down by Ringling Bros Circus Clown College).

So I pitched my tent deep in the woods and wrote in my journal. Every few weeks I  would hike back to civilization to visit friends, do laundry and, when absolutely necessary, find a temp job.

That’s why, in February, 1975, I agreed to a job interview at one of the first schools in the country for children with autism. I walked in the door, with no idea what to expect.

A young boy, he couldn’t have been more than six, grabbed my hair with one hand and my beard with the other, and, in 1975, you have to picture me with a lot more hair. So anyway, the youngster grabs and doesn’t let go, until a young woman comes running down the hall and gently, but firmly disentangles me.

I got the job –  2 hours a day, four days a week, lasting, at most, three months. It was nearly perfect.

At the end of three months they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, work full-time all summer for $55/week and in September I’d get a raise to $70/week. How could I say no to that?

Years went by. I continued working with children and adults with autism. And I continued writing. It took me thirteen years to write my first manuscript. Twenty-seven years, if you count the re-writes. It was a modern Buddhist parable on the nature of enlightenment and it was unpublishable.

In 1992, I founded the Life Skills Resource Center, providing services in New Jersey to adults with autism. Programs operate twenty-four hours/day, 365 days/year. Somehow, I  managed to write four mysteries, mostly at 5:30 in the morning.  My last book, a black comedy, Death and White Diamonds, was published in 2014.

And what about that modern Buddhist parable? A few years ago, I took it out of the file cabinet, cut approximately 65,000 words and discovered a pretty decent short story. The Sound Bite was published in 2006 in Woman’s Corner Magazine.

I have spent the last 43 years creating community-based programs, services and supports in New Jersey for children and adults with autism. Forty-three years, and not one day more. Today I join the ranks of the retired. I celebrated by going to the local Social Security Office and applying for Medicare Part B.

And that young woman, the one who disentangled me at the job interview in February, 1975? This would be a really good story if I could tie her back into the story, before the end. Well, if she doesn’t get tired of having me around the house, this spring we will celebrate our thirty-eighth anniversary.

Such is life.


The week in review

If I’m going to start blogging again, I have to remember to take photos. Because this would be an easy blog to publish, if I posted a series of captioned photos. But I didn’t. So I can’t.

So, anyway, last Tuesday after work, I jumped on a train to Manhattan and got to the Mysterious Bookshop in time for the launch party for Annamaria Alfieri and Sujata Massey. It was great listening to these two authors of historical mysteries compare notes on how they research and recreate their historical settings – in Sujata’s new book, The Widows of Malabar Hill, Bombay in the 1920s and in Annamaria’s latest book, The Blasphemers, colonial Africa in roughly the same time period. If you’re a fan of historical mysteries, I recommend both books.

Wednesday after work, it was another train ride to Manhattan for the monthly meeting of the NY chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. Somehow, the meeting was different, and not only because of the fabulous guest speaker. Damon Suede, author of “gay romance and homoerotic fiction” joined us to discuss author branding. We left the meeting with a renewed sense of what it takes to create your brand. But, at least for me, that’s not what made the monthly meeting different. Did I mention? I’ve been elected Chapter President for the New York region of the Mystery Writers of America.

On Friday, it was back to Manhattan for a fabulous week-end with an extraordinary group of writers. As the new President of the NY region, I have the privilege of serving on the National Board. This week-end was the annual meeting and the orientation of new Board members. It is a privilege I don’t take lightly.

Heaven help us all!

The year the ball didn’t drop

It was 42 years ago, December 31, 1975, my first year teaching school and I was visiting friends in California during winter break. It took me four days to hitchhike from New Jersey to Los Angeles. After two days in California, it was time for me to head back to NJ. My plan was to hitchhike. (I had done it in both directions perhaps a half-dozen times in the previous 18 month so I was confident about the timing). Anyway, if I left L.A. on the 31st, I’d be home on the 3rd, ready for work on the 4th. Only I didn’t much like the idea of standing on the side of L.A. highways on New Years Eve. It didn’t seem like the safest place to be. So I amended my plan. I got on a Greyhound Bus sometime the evening of the 31st heading east. My plan was to ride the bus until morning and then hitchhike the rest of the way. So anyway, as I was saying, I got on the bus on the evening of the 31st. It was approximately 11:30 when the bus driver picked up his microphone to make an announcement. I figured he was going to wish us a happy new year. I was wrong. He announced that we had just crossed from the pacific time zone into the mountain time zone. It took a moment for the import of his announcement to sink in. It was, suddenly, 12:30 am on January 1. There would be no midnight. No ball dropping, no horns tooting, no glasses clinking, no sweethearts kissing, no midnight. It was the New Year that wasn’t.

Baloney, hot air, nonsense

We’re going to make believe that I’ve been posting regularly and you’ve been reading regularly and here it is again, the arbitrary demarcation in the stream that is time, the demarcation that says, let’s start this whole schmegegge once again. Because I’ve done some things in 2017 that I’m not allowed to talk about yet, things that will play out in 2018, when I very well may want a place to talk about those things, and there’s no point in creating a new place when I’ve got a perfectly good place here gathering dust.

In the meantime, since some of you don’t have an opportunity to visit the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, I thought I’d share these pictures from my album. The tree is impressive in the daylight, but, at night, I’m sure you’ll agree, the tree is spectacular.

After 5 months without blogging, I’m back with a bit of BSP*

*Blatant Self Promotion

I’ve neglected my blog for so long, I doubt anyone will notice my return, especially since I’m back with purely self-serving motives. I’m back to promote two upcoming book events, and if you’re in the area, I hope you’ll consider attending. (And if you’re not in the area, we’ve got plenty of airports in the NY region and more than enough time to buy a plane ticket or two).

Anyway, this Saturday night, October 28, from 6:30 – 9:00, I hope you’ll join me at the MWA-NY Crime Fiction Reading Series. Taking place at KGB Bar, at 85 E. 4th Street, in the East Village in NYC, I’ll be one of 5 authors reading excerpts. I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to read, but rumors have it that Spiro T. Agnew might make an appearance.


And then, the following Saturday, November 4, from 1:00 – 5:00, I’ll be one of twelve award-winning authors of crime fiction, in conversation at A Mysterious Affair in Princeton.

thumbnail_Princeton Graphic Corrected

I’ll buy the first round.