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Dear Readers,

Many of you have written to me to report confusion at my “Dispatches from the Pool” posts. The common question: “Why are you living in an apartment?”

I’ve been remiss.

To recap the last six months:
• I quit a job at a place where I had worked for 19 years.
• Eddie quit a job at a place where he had worked for 28 years.
• We moved to a big city (Atlanta, pop: 5.7 million) from a smallish city (Savannah, pop: 384,000).
• The kids entered a new middle school together (6th and 7th grades).
• We are waiting for our house to sell and are living in an apartment in the meantime.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the biggest changes:

So I’m happy. I’ll keep you posted!

This is us, minus the dog.


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Dear B. Lev. and M. Lev.,

I’m so sorry that my upgrade meant only one of you could get upgraded. B. Lev., you should have let M. Lev. have the upgrade. It’s not because she is a woman and your wife (I assume); it’s because she became insufferable (and likely will punish you later).

I’m sure you are lovely people under normal circumstances, but I witnessed some problematic behavior on the plane.

M. Lev., it’s ridiculous that you felt it necessary to come up to first class FIVE TIMES before we left the gate. Let’s recap. You:

  1. Asked if he had managed to find a place for his stuff. (As it wasn’t still in the aisle, I think you could have figured that one out for yourself.)
  2. Reminded B. Lev. to call his mother. Then took a swig of his drink.
  3. Stood silently listening to him talk loudly on his phone.
  4. Asked if he had, in fact, called his mother. Took another swig.
  5. Asked for his copy of The New York Times and complained about needing to eat your sandwich before it “deteriorates even further.”

During the flight, you even came up to harangue him outside of the lavatory. Good grief!

B. Lev., maybe I’m bitter because I wanted your window seat, but I really found  the whole scenario completely beyond the pale. 

M. Lev., I’m sorry you appear to have married a selfish old goat but, to quote a popular song, “Let It Go.” Enough with the not-so-subtle reminders that he did the wrong thing by taking the upgrade himself.

If I’ve misinterpreted the situation, I apologize. What do I know? I just observe and report.


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Dear Buffalo, New York:

I’ve enjoyed getting to know you over the past 24 hours. One of the many perks of my job is that I get to travel to different cities. I am an enthusiastic explorer, always willing to try new things and go new places.

I visited you once before. I was seeing a boyfriend in Cleveland and we decided to take a road trip to Niagara Falls. I don’t really remember anything about that trip though.

Of course I headed to Niagara Falls while seeing you again. Wash away old memories and make new.
I also took a native up on her suggestion to eat at Duff’s.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is magical.
I ate at Anchor Bar also. Delightful!

I do need to talk to you about teeny tiny thing though. Teensy, really. This:
What is going on here? Does the meat raffle come after winners of the gun raffle take their prizes out for practice? How can this be safe? Why is this held after wrestling? Are these two connected?

Also, I want to know why you don’t know how to use apostrophes. What? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Look in the background. Here — let me help:

Oh Buffalo. I’m so disappointed.

Maybe we should just focus on the wings. And that amazing natural wonder. Yes. Let’s do that.

Those wings really are fantastic.

Hope to see you soon!

* a grammatically correct sentence

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20140509-213025.jpgDear Universal Studios:

My family and I visited one of your parks today: Islands of Adventure. You have many rules. I hope I can remember some key ones:

1. It’s OK to buy beer at 8 a.m. at the Hog’s Head in the Harry Potter area. It is NOT OK for one person to carry two beers, even if the other adult is carrying a tray filled with $80 worth of food for the rest of the family.

2. It’s OK to take off your shoes to ride the dragon ride. It’s NOT OK to give those shoes to a non-rider. You must put those shoes behind your back on the ride so that they perforate a kidney.

3. It’s OK to buy your oldest child’s weight in Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. It’s NOT OK to try to ship those beans back to your resort with the other items you bought because those jelly beans are “unsealed.”


4. It’s OK for you to take your sandals off on the Bilge Rat Barges and put this water-resistant footwear in the center console to stay dry. It is NOT OK to put sneakers and socks in there, ever. (You keep your shoes on, sir!)

5. It’s OK to be an adult on the kiddie merry-go-round in Seuss Landing. It’s NOT OK for you to be an adult and NOT WEAR THE SAFETY BELT — MY GOD, MAN, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!? No one cares if your feet can touch the ground.

6. It’s OK to exceed a weight limit for bikinis and mankinis in the pool at your home resort. It’s NOT OK to throw a football. (What were you thinking?) You can throw your 50-pound child 10 feet in the air, but you cannot throw a Nerf product. Ever. No, sir.

I think those are the major rules, yes? I just want to get it right. Please don’t have your high school SWAT team yell at me any more.

Beth (a season pass holder)

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Dear AWP Program Directors:

I’m mystified by something that happened this morning. Please help me make sense of it.

One of you complained that prospective students often ask her this:

What job am I going to get?

The overwhelming majority of the rest of you laughed as if to say this:

Oh, how silly! Why would someone ask something so crazy?

She went on to lament “consumer culture.”

Wait just a hot second. Are students not consumers of a product, albeit an intangible one? In return for their money, time and effort, they earn a degree and, one hopes, a job.

Why is this bad?

I talked to the woman who made the comment. She said she got her M.F.A. because she is an artist. I said:

But don’t you want to get paid for your artwork?

Then I found out she is a poet. Oh. And she represents a poetry degree program. OH!

That explains her situation, but what about the rest of you? I appreciate art for art’s sake, but it is better when you can make a living doing what you like best. No?

This seems to me to be another example of AWP acting like an ostrich.

Weren’t you just talking about the rising cost of college and increasing student debt load? Don’t you want to help students get a job so that they can pay off the college education that helped them get a job?

I’m confused. Please help me understand.



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