musical notes of various colors coming in and out of focus

Music that got me through 2020

Music is basically how I feel things. If I’m not listening to something, then I can’t be entirely sure what kind of mood I’m in. Some playlists are great for expressing a feeling and some great for changing feelings. My personal Don’t Panic playlist comes to mind, as one I designed to help me avoid spiraling into anxiety, for example. I usually make playlists for my birthday parties which later turn into wonderful documents of the energy I brought into that year.


2020 was one of the worst years I lived through. It was challenging on both a personal level and a societal one. And of course there was no birthday party for me. But it would have been even worse without great music to help me experience and express my feelings. Here are some of the playlists that helped me make it through last year.

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Mother and son walking away from the camera in a park, with long shadows behind them

A Mom’s Abortion Story

 I was 17 and looking forward to escaping high school and going to college.  I was independent, an only child raised by busy single parents with their own social lives. I was intelligent, but insecure. I used sex as a way to get affection and feel wanted. I dropped by an older friend’ house one …

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Children leaving the Lodz ghetto for the death camp at Chelmno

The price of collaboration

From visiting the wonderful Dutch Resistance Museum many years ago, I knew about the “Judenrat,” councils of Jewish leaders that Nazis used to facilitate the implementation of their own annihilation. Although I’m Jewish and believe it’s important to remember the Holocaust, I never really spent that much time learning the political history. I foolishly thought that “never …

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It’s a shame about Flickr

I just returned from a busy and fun week with my son visiting family and seeing lots of New York City! I posted some of our pictures on Flickr, but had so much trouble with it that I am seriously considering moving to another photo site, as so many of my friends have done. One …

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Three is a magic number

3 I couldn’t write this post without the Schoolhouse Rock refrain in my head. Today is my son’s third birthday. We celebrated this weekend with a nice group of Izzy’s friends from school, and my friends with kids his age. The theme was “Izzy loves trains,” so we used the beer garden at Southern Rail, which is a restaurant that uses train cars and the old station in downtown Carrboro. Everyone had a great time, especially Izzy as you can see in Brian’s photo…

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Bye bye, Bubbie

When my mother’s family gathered in Austin at the end of last year, my son Izzy was re-introduced to his great-grandmother. (He couldn’t talk yet the first time he met her.) “Izzy, this is Bubbie.”

“Bubba!” he responded. We thought that was an appropriate nickname for my vivacious grandmother who moved from Long Island to Texas in her late 80’s. She moved to be near one of her daughters, and got a bonus in the shape of her other great-grandchild Abby, who was born in Austin few months after Izzy was born here in Chapel Hill. Grandma Vickie established her painting studio in the garage of her new home (it was in the attic when she lived in New York) and even resumed teaching oil painting lessons as she had done for decades.

This week, she was felled by an infection that her 91-year-old immune system just couldn’t beat. My grandmother was a fabulous woman, and she loved to entertain. Here are pictures of her after I was born in 1971, and dancing at my wedding in 2006. A longer slideshow is at

Mi familia

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Back from London

I haven’t got time to blog all the fun stuff we did and saw in England. You can see my whole photo album on Flickr: Update: Brian made a short video of the trip. It’s a good compliment to the photos. Read on for a quick list of what we did and selected photos …

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