Monthly Archives: March 2015

An Aspiring Young Author

Mr. Young was our sixth grade teacher at the Seaford Avenue School. He was an older man, bald and very white, with thick glasses. He always made a show of yelling at us for chewing our “cud” (gum) and could be hard, even on his favorite students, but we were devoted to him.  Mr. Young died over Easter break that year, and we came back to Mrs. Cronin as our teacher, who we treated very badly, not because she was nasty or mean but because she wasn’t Mr. Young. It was also the year I competed with my best frenemy — the OTHER smartest girl in the class, Phyllis Leopold, who is currently providing spiritual guidance as a minister in Connecticut; I remember running into her completely randomly in a gym in NYC in the mid-‘80s and we picked up as if more than a decade had not passed since we’d last seen each other – for the lead role in a play called something like “Way, Way Down East”, a damsel-in-distress melodrama (“You must pay the rent!” “I can’t pay the rent!”), which featured Joe Benenati in swirling Snidely Whiplash mustache tying me to the railroad tracks. (Or was Joe the Dudley Do-Right hero doing the saving? I can’t recall the details, just the thrill of the applause. It was my first and only dramatic stage performance.) One of the earliest things I ever did on Facebook was engage with Joe and the rest of the Seaford Avenue School alumni on Facebook after he had posted a photo of the entire sixth-grade graduating class of 1971, and a bunch of us reconnected trying to identify everyone.

Sixth grade was also the year that we met Clifford Lindsey Alderman, an actual writer of young adult historical novels who lived in Seaford and who, very generously and inspirationally, dedicated his novel Rum, Slaves and Molasses: The Story of New England’s Triangular Trade (1972) to me: “For Nancy Lucas, an aspiring young author, with best wishes for her success.”

So I started writing in earnest (“I must live up to Mr. Alderman’s dedication!”). I wrote short stories and even a couple of full-length novels. As I recall, the first novel was called Fun in Florida, and the sequel was called Moving to Montana. (The randomness of the locales mystifies me to this day. I think my ultimate goal was to do a novel set in every state.) Both novels featured a blended family based in no small part on “The Brady Bunch” engaging in antics in the spirit of “The Monkees” and “Love American Style”, including an episode stolen outright where an idiot man/boy gets his mouth stuck on a doorknob.  The writings were passed around so much the paper they were written on was soft as cloth.  Everyone in class was a character in the novels, so of course there were complaints about the inaccuracy of portrayals and the relegation to bit parts, but I tried my best to show everyone in the best possible light.

What I miss from those days is the complete confidence with which I put ideas to paper and then passed them around. I’m not sure when the self-doubt started creeping in, but it was probably as an undergrad at Trinity College, when I decided to become an English/Literary Writing major. I did well enough but was never given the kind of encouragement that my writing professor, who I idolized (the late Hugh Ogden, award-winning poet and founder of the creative writing program at Trinity), gave to other, better writers in my fiction and poetry writing classes (Joanna Scott, Trinity Class of 1983, for one – good for Joanna! Bad for Nan!). I worked for OMNI Magazine after I graduated and wrote some articles, mostly for the magazine’s weird-science/paranormal “Antimatter” section, but they were inevitably re-written, enough so that I wondered why I had even bothered.

So while I’ve always believed myself to be a decent writer, over the years I’ve steadily grown to doubt my abilities, to the point where I sabotage myself at every turn – probably most of all by NOT ACTUALLY WRITING ANYTHING. I believe what I write won’t be “good enough”, so I don’t even try.  This is a problem.

Recently I found myself reading (without consciously choosing to do so) various autobiographies of writers. True writers always seem to have this innate talent, and they write instinctively and compulsively. I see myself in them, but reading about them also reminds me that I lack something they all have: the innate talent. That’s the self-doubt in spades. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never write the Great American Novel or a prize-winning short story because I lack the tale-telling knack for fiction and the ability to get into the mind of any character that isn’t me.

But of course I do write – voluminously. I’ve diligently kept journals since my sophomore year at Trinity (which was literally decades ago). There are many things I have to overcome in order to fulfill what I believe is my destiny — which is to live the life of an artist, to make a living as a writer and to make some kind of contribution (however minor) to humanity — but the first order of business was to start this blog, which was the closest thing to writing in my journal that I could possibly imagine.

There is another hurdle: Thinking back on my being the best-read sixth grade author at the Seaford Avenue School, even while I felt no compunction about depicting my classmates in a way that sometimes pissed them off, I am reminded of a frequent theme of my “no way you can write a blog” negative self-talk, which is that I am afraid that I cannot be completely frank and transparent in my blog posts because people reading it may be insulted personally or, even more likely, think less of me.  In order to start posting here in my blog, I’ve had to establish a kind of “What would [X] think if they saw this” threshold, because I know that [X] and I have a professional and a personal relationship, but mostly a professional one. I want any writing here on my blog to be as true and authentic as possible, because I strive to be a genuine and honest person (although, as I was intrigued to note, these proclivities did not necessarily serve me well in my legal ethics class or when I took the MPRE [Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, for all you non-lawyers]). Also in those formative years – around sixth grade and into junior high school – I learned that I was singularly terrible at lying and might as well give it up. So, while I will do my best to be transparent and truthful and open, I can’t be completely uninhibited!

One of the author autobiographies that I read was Fiction Ruined My Family, by Jeanne Darst (2011). She describes the freedom and delight of being a writer thusly:  “Writing is a choice . . . . A lot of days I’ve gotten to eat lunch at home and this is a really big perk in my opinion. When you’re good and ready to take a break, you stroll into your kitchen and open the refrigerator door and poke around leisurely . . . . To have lunch at home is a huge luxury . . . . This is a nice way to live. To hang around bowls of chocolate ice cream and ideas all day can be worth it.”

Yes, indeed it is, Jeanne. I’m finally trying to get there from here . . .

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The Pet Situation

A word about my pet situation: There has always been at least one dog or cat in my family since I was three years old. When we moved into my current home in 2004, I had one elderly dog named Loki but that Christmas we adopted a pair of late-season kitten sisters, JoJo and Raven. JoJo immediately bonded with my daughter; Raven was “my” cat and has spent every night of her life (and most of her days) as queen of my bed.

JoJo and Raven

The Queen of the Bed deigns to let Munchie share her space.

The Queen of the Bed deigns to let Munchie share her space.

When my mother passed away in 2010, I took a month off from work and thought it would be a perfect time to get a puppy. Loki had passed away a few years earlier, and while I was perfectly content with JoJo and Raven, I wanted a small dog, one that I could take with me when shopping or visiting or even traveling and that wouldn’t pose a threat to the cats. Munchie the Pomchi (Pomeranian-Chihuahua) came into our lives and I couldn’t imagine loving an 8-pound ball of fluff any more.

Munchie is a Rangers fan.

Of course Munchie is a Rangers fan.

Perfect household, right? But no. My daughter and I started volunteering at the local Long Beach Animal Shelter, where we cared for the cats and kittens. We grew very fond of two playful, exotically marked tabby kitten sisters in particular. When they aged out of the kitten room and had to be put into “GenPop” in the big cat room, my daughter was concerned that now they would never get adopted, so she started a campaign to convince me to adopt them if they hadn’t found homes by Thanksgiving. My initial reaction was to say no way; we’re perfectly fine with what we’ve got. But then I started dreaming about them, and waking up thinking about them, and looking forward to seeing them when we went for our weekly visits, and secretly wishing that they wouldn’t get adopted by Thanksgiving. I even moved up the date: If no one adopted them by Halloween, we would take them home.

October 29, 2012: Superstorm Sandy hit Long Beach and we no longer had a home to which to take them. My daughter, JoJo, Raven, Munchie and I went to live a few towns away with my ex-husband, his wife and two kids, and my ex-father in law (for which I was extremely grateful, but you might imagine that I was anxious to get back into my house once it was repaired). Thanks to my savior of a contractor – a jolly Irish fellow who I probably drove a little crazy, but who always gave me a reassuring hug when he left after a meeting – we were back in our house in just over four months. The day we moved back in, the two sisters from the shelter – now nearly a year old – moved in with us. All four cats and Munchie were essentially coming into a new home at the same time, so there were very few territorial concerns. The two new cats, Savannah and Luna – gorgeous big girls with velvety fur and little white boots and mittens, obsessively affectionate and purr-fect in every way – fit right in and soon became my “soul cats”, connected on a deeper level now that we were truly home after all of us having been through the trauma of living in a temporary shelter.

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Living paperweight.

Savannah and Luna in their favorite positions.

An animal rescue organization called Posh Pets took over the Long Beach Animal Shelter about a year ago. < http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/long-beach-animal-shelter-reopens-under-new-leadership-1.9574565?pts=714698 > Posh has been around for over a decade but never ran a bricks-and-mortar facility. Instead they relied on a well-developed system of foster families to shelter rescued pets until permanent homes could be found for them. So it didn’t take long for Linda Vetrano, the head of Posh Pets, to convince me to try fostering. Small dogs only, I told her, and beginner-rated pooches for a foster newbie like me. Plus I had no idea how my existing household –now up to four cats and Munchie – would handle newcomers. So I started with Chase, a sweet – and highly adoptable – shih-tzu/wheaton terrier mix, who drove Munchie a little crazy with butt-sniffing but was otherwise a very pleasant guest. Chase got adopted within a couple of weeks.

Chase

Chase

Then came Gizmo, who was here for a few months until I eventually ended up adopting him. Gizmo had a heartbreaking history, the bottom line being that he had serious trust and biting issues and might even have a little brain damage from getting hit by a car. Once I convinced him that he didn’t need to bite me every time I tried to touch him, I fell in love with the little crazy man, so he stayed. Now he is my little white knight, shadowing and defending me, except when he is barking at his own reflection in my bookcase.

Sweet Gizzy-mo.

Sweet Gizmo fighting his urge to bite me.

I thought that might mean the end of my career as a foster parent – four cats and two dogs now, certainly a full house – but Linda talked me into taking Tink, a tiny little Chihuahua/Italian Greyhound mix who had been staying in a cramped cage at the shelter. Tink and I had some epic battles, but she loved my daughter (home from college for winter break) and also ended up getting adopted into a home with a tiny-dog pack within a couple of weeks. The next pup, Snoopy – a sad-faced, shaved-bare little Bijon — was with us for an even shorter time before he headed home with his fantastic new family. (They actually had another nearly identical Bijon at home, who fell in love with Snoopy immediately, which wasn’t hard to do.) And then came Tobin.

Tink doing her garlic knot imitation

Goofy Snoopy

Tink (doing her best garlic knot imitation) and Snoopy.

After Snoopy, I wanted to just take a break, mostly to spend a little quality time with Gizmo to let him know he was “my” dog now (although Linda astutely pointed out that he probably thought he was “my” dog as soon as he realized that he wasn’t going anywhere despite literally biting the hand that fed him). But Tobin’s story was so sad, and Linda can be persuasive. She assured me that she had a ton of adoption applications for him already, so he wouldn’t be with us long. Three-plus weeks later, he is still here.

Tobin Makes Himself at Home

Tobin makes himself at home.

Tobin is a large cocker spaniel with massive paws and a face like a cartoon Bing Crosby, with droopy eyes and a pouty lower lip. He has a sweet disposition and a playful personality, but he is more dog than I can handle. He barks quite a bit, which of course sets off the other two (who, believe me, do not need much encouragement). Even worse, he traumatizes the cats. JoJo and Raven did try to sleep with us for a few days, although Savannah and Luna barely came out from under the couch after Tobin arrived. Any time one of the cats moved, even slowly, Tobin would chase and corner them. I was afraid he was going to hurt one of the cats or knock over the TV because the cats kept running behind it. One day I found all four cats hiding in my daughter’s room, so that became “their” room and the door was kept closed. (Technically, it’s a suite, with two adjoining rooms and a bathroom, so there’s plenty of room for everyone to have their own private territory, but still – they’re locked in a room, and have been for weeks.)

Then he started fighting – serious, screaming, knock-down-drag-out fights – with Munchie. More accurately, Munchie started fighting with him. It happened once in my bed, on top of me, and I ended up throwing Munchie across the bed just to free him from under Tobin, who is literally three times his size. After that incident, Tobin has to sleep out in the living room while Munchie, Gizmo and I get the bed, which is kind of sad for Tobin, although he does have his choice of comfy sleep spots and I always leave him with a peanut butter-filled Kong.

I also need to lock Munchie in my room for hours at a time. Although before Tobin’s arrival my bed was his favorite spot and he spent most of his day there, now he just whines pitifully behind the gate. I do try to let him out when I can keep my eye on everyone, because he will inevitably start a fight with Tobin, who refuses to stay out of his way, so I need to be able to act quickly and snatch Munchie out of harm’s way and toss him back in my bedroom. Oddly enough, the three of them manage to walk together without conflict (as long as they don’t see another dog, which sets them all off barking), although I spend much of the walk wrestling with Tobin so my arms ache and I am forever getting tangled.

One morning Tobin got loose while we were walking on Park Avenue, one of the two main arteries through the West End of Long Beach and a relatively busy street. As I was frantically trying to chase him down, Munchie got tangled around the street sign and pulled out of his harness, screaming, and then . . . I WENT DOWN!! Hands and knees on the muddy pavement, three dogs on the loose at the intersection of a busy street –damn. Luckily, Tobin and Gizmo came right back to me, maybe concerned or curious as to why I was somehow down on the ground, but Munchie wandered off – slowly, thank goodness, and down the side street rather than toward Park Avenue. There was a construction worker there (who had probably seen the whole embarrassingly hilarious episode), and he called Munchie over to him.  When we got to where the guy was, Munchie and Tobin got into one of their battles and Munchie started screaming. I scooped him up and limped home. My neighbor was outside when I got back to my house, so I abashedly recounted what had happened. She said, “I guess two dogs is your limit.” I told her it wasn’t the number of dogs; it was the size of one of them.

Unfortunately, the people who have shown an interest in adopting Tobin have not been good fits. One young couple came to my house to visit Tobin, and Tobin and the boyfriend bonded quickly, but the girlfriend clearly didn’t think they were ready. Another girl with two roommates set up a time to come meet him but, at the 11th hour, she called in tears (and, I confess, so was I) saying that one of her roommates had had a change of heart and she wouldn’t be coming to meet Tobin after all.

I regret taking Tobin in but I’m stuck, because it’s too disruptive to the dog to keep shifting him around, and there’s no way I’m letting him stay at the shelter. He’s never lived in a shelter in his life and, as Linda likes to say, a shelter is no place for an animal. At least he’s safe and warm and fed and entertained and given plentiful affection here, and that’s what fostering is really all about. The cats and Munchie are thoroughly put out but everything will go back to normal soon enough, and it’s not like they’re suffering other than from the loss of their freedom. They have all their needs met, even if it isn’t what they’re accustomed to. And the same goes for me.

But spring-like weather can cure a lot of ills. I took the boys to the beach the other morning, which was a great way to get everyone (myself included) some exercise and fresh air, and prevent battles, and wear them out so they’ll sleep for a few hours at least. Plus now I walk Tobin using the short loop in his leash, so he stays by my side (although it’s still a workout to hold him there).

I do miss my cats, though. I hate that they have to be locked away and that I literally have to visit my own cats a few times a day!  But Tobin will go when Linda finds him the right situation, and I certainly wouldn’t want him to go somewhere just to be returned. He’s already had a trauma, being wrenched from the only family he knew, and especially his boy, who joined the Navy. And when I look into his sad, soulful eyes, I know I won’t let him go until I know for sure he’s going to a better place.

Hopefully we’ll have a positive update next week. Talk to you then.

 

Sister kitty love.
Sister kitty love.

 

Some Thoughts About Money and Music

I hate money. Ironically, I work as a lawyer in the finance industry, and to say that it’s not a particularly good fit for me would be a huge understatement.

After being a hand-to-mouth freelancer for most of my adult life, when I had a child I realized that I needed to have a more secure (and lucrative) career. Thanks to a confluence of events, I was able to go to law school at age 40-ish, and a big law firm liked me enough during on-campus interviews to offer me a summer associate position (and eventually a permanent position) even at my advanced age. They also offered me more money than I could have ever imagined making as a freelancer. While I wasn’t sure Big Law was right for me even then, the big dollars gave it a certain inescapable appeal.

Despite the salary and the security, I have spent the decade-plus since my hiring dreaming of my escape. I’ve adopted a part-time schedule, I’ve taken leaves of absence, I’ve convinced my extremely kind boss to let me work from home. Yet the sad reality of my life is that I can’t leave this job because I can’t abandon the paycheck, no matter how unhappy I might be with the subject matter and spirit of my current career.

It’s all down to money, that thing that I hate, that thing that I need, especially with a mortgage and a kid in college and limited funds for my pending early retirement. So I will keep working in a career field that is utterly alien to my nature, with the sole intention of responsibly paying my bills, until I win the New York Lottery (which has, I might add, some of the best advertising slogans of all time, because they get in your head like earworms and fool you into thinking that it’s even possible to become an instant millionaire – I mean, “all it takes is a dollar and a dream”, and “you can’t win if you don’t play”. So I will continue to play! “You never know!”)

More realistically, in my limited spare time, I am trying to explore other options, some of which will likely be discussed in this blog in the coming weeks (including, unsurprisingly, blogging as a career, if I could somehow figure out a way to make money at it). But now, on to happier subjects – which, for today’s post, will be music.

The other day I was listening to T. Rex’s Electric Warrior, which I purchased on CD recently after losing my well-worn vinyl copy in 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, along with hundreds of other albums that I had collected over the decades – from my very first record, Meet the Beatles, that my dad brought home for me when I was four years old, to a complete set of Bowie albums with their gorgeous covers, to my ex-husband’s diverse punk collection, and many, many more. With my admittedly narrow singing range – neither alto nor tenor but somewhere in between – I can never properly sing along to what is probably my favorite song on an album full of favorite songs, “Monolith,” with its loping pace and waa-waa guitar that you can feel in your loins, not to mention its completely nonsensical, fantastical lyrics (“The throne of time is a kingly thing . . .”; “Shallow are the actions of the children of men . . .”) that somehow make sense if you keep singing them, over and over, switching octaves when I can’t hit the notes.

Music, like hockey, is one of my life’s great joys, so much so that it almost borders on an addiction. I must have NEW! I must have MORE!! I’m constantly accumulating music, and I try as often as possible to do it for free (but never illegally – musicians are artists who need to get paid, after all) by taking full advantage of “Free on iTunes” and Amazon samplers, and I redeem my credit card rewards points for iTunes and Amazon gift cards. Tuesdays are new free music days in the Apple iTunes Store, but a few weeks ago the “Free on iTunes” went away. I was all ready to write a whiny, entitled complaint (“Where are my free iTunes, dammit!”) when, much to my happy surprise, they not only reinstated “Free on iTunes” but they actually expanded it, offering eight to a dozen uniformly interesting and high quality new songs to be downloaded for absolutely free. Kudos to iTunes! (And while I’m on this topic, I’d like to say a word about the folks who were outraged about the new U2 album being downloaded for free to everyone on iTunes, whether they asked for it or not. Seriously, what kind of looney-tune complains about getting something FOR FREE? I’m not a U2 fan, but I actually liked the album, and I would never have purchased it had they not made it available for free. It was an almost “back to grassroots”, risk-free way for multimillionaire rock stars to get their new music to the multitudes.  And if those ungrateful folks didn’t want the album, they could just delete it from their respective music libraries. No harm, no foul! Their outrage made absolutely no sense to me.)

I wish I was able to access at will what must undoubtedly be an encyclopedic knowledge of artists and songs and lyrics that I’ve accrued over the years but my faculties fail me sometimes (perhaps age-related). I’m quite sure it’s all in my brain somewhere because little bits and pieces come out when I least expect it (for instance, I can sing most Beatle and early Bowie songs quite unconsciously because I have listened to them so many, many times).

I have always considered myself somewhat of a collector, in the sense of having to own my music. The advent of digital music has been a double-boon for me: Now I can immediately possess new music with a click of the mouse, and then I back everything up on CD anyway, which has led to some interesting and entirely random “mix” CDs. I also do something on my classic 16MB-iPod that some people find odd but it’s a source of great pride for me: Each song on my iPod is the sole representative entry of a single artist, or combination of artists (e.g., one song from Johnny Cash (“God’s Gonna Cut You Down”), one song from Joe Strummer (“Johnny Appleseed”), and one song from Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer together (their gorgeous rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, featuring Tom Morello on guitar)). Duplicate songs by one artist are carefully culled out and saved elsewhere but no longer appear on the iPod. I’m currently up to 2,605 songs by 2,605 different artists. I imagine it as the playlist for the greatest radio station of all time.

I love to be the first to suggest and recommend music to my friends, so I hope to also feature in this blog from time to time my musical thoughts and recommendations. It makes me proud when I can say of a hit, “I told you about that song/artist AGES ago!”  My latest faves?  “All the Pretty Girls”, by Icelandic band Kaleo; “Electric Love” and also “10,000 Emerald Pools”, pop perfection from eclectic U.S. artist BORNS; “Ahead of the Light” by Japanese percussive guitarist MIYAVI (and first-time actor, who played the sadistic but gorgeous POW camp commandant “The Bird” in Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut Unbroken); the latest from one of my top-three guitarists of all time, Mark Knopfler, “Beryl”; and last but not least, a goofy throwback punk classic, Mojo Nixon’s “Elvis is Everywhere”.  Enjoy!!

With that, I’ll sign off this week’s post on a positive note with this hopeful quote from Gloria Vanderbilt (as originally quoted in an interview by T.J. Wilcox that appeared in the November 2014 edition of my favorite magazine, Interview), who has lived as charmed a life as anyone ever and continues to maintain a sunny attitude well into her eighties: “I think something wonderful is going to happen to me. Maybe tomorrow. The phone can ring and your whole life can change.”

Talk to you next week.

Life Considered

OK, here goes.

The mere existence of this blog post is a personal triumph over my negative self-talk. I’ve been thinking about it for months – maybe even years. Time passes so fluidly, and so quickly, it’s impossible to believe that we’re halfway through the decade already.

There are days when I get very excited about the blog, thinking what a perfect fit blogging is for my style of writing – conversational, thoughtful, best done in little nuggets. But then the other voice creeps in: I have no overarching theme, no particular expertise; I can’t be totally honest about certain things and certain people; I don’t know what to call it so as to attract readers; in fact, I wonder if I really want to publicize my blog at all, because how embarrassed would I be if everyone thought t was crap; and, ultimately, why would anyone want to read it anyway? So guess what happens? NOTHING HAPPENS.

But today – today I say, “screw it”.  While I debate whether I want to tell anyone, ever, about my blog, I’m writing it for myself, because I want to, because I like doing it, and because I would be writing anyway in my notebooks.  I’ll just start doing it on the computer now and put it out into the universal “cloud”.  That way, my blog will just continue to be what it has always been – me writing for myself, and only myself. I don’t even really care if anyone reads it, and I can talk about whatever I want.

If I’m any good at it at all, my blog will evolve. A shout-out to my cousin George Hanna, who one year ago started a podcast, the George and Tony Entertainment Show, with no broadcasting background or experience whatsoever, but armed with a lot of enthusiasm and a gift of gab. I’m so proud of, and inspired by, him.

So, for starters, I think I’ll call my blog “Life Considered”, because I’m considering my life (in the sense that I’m THINKING CAREFULLY about my life). But as I don’t deem my own life worthy of anyone else’s consideration (in the sense of THINKING CAREFULLY about it), I’ve come to the conclusion that my overarching purpose and the theme for my blog should be to promote universal consideration of others (yes, in the sense of THINKING CAREFULLY about them).

The seed of the blog idea actually grew out of my frustration with parking in Long Beach, New York, a barrier beach community off the southern coast of Long Island. In the summer especially (although it is a year-round problem), visitors come to Long Beach and park willy-nilly in front of residents’ homes without a care or concern that when THEY are parking in front of someone’s house, the person who lives in that house CAN’T. (In case it was not apparent, I don’t have a driveway.) I would mutter to myself (well, holler, actually, using copious curse words), in frustration, driving around and around trying to find somewhere to park within a five-mile radius of my house, “If people would only take a minute to THINK about how their actions will impact others . . .”

Of course, in this instance I’m only talking about parking in Long Beach, but that rhetorical question has resonance for EVERYTHING WE DO AS HUMAN BEINGS. Not enough people take the time, in this fast-paced, catch-as-catch-can life, to consider the simple question, “Would I like it if thus-and-such were done to ME?” Seems really basic, doesn’t it?

So that’s how the blog idea arose. Combine that with my writing obsession and here it is, after much waffling and doubting and second-guessing and, yes, consideration.

Finally, while I plan to write in this blog about kindness and consideration for the creatures who share our world (as well as other things that might pique my interest in a particular week), I will also occasionally write in my blog about NHL hockey, because NHL hockey is the great love of my life. I’ve been obsessed with hockey for over 47 years and it has rewarded me handsomely (although another Stanley Cup for the NY Rangers would be awfully nice). There are many reasons to love the on-ice product – the speed, the danger and brutality, the artistry – but one thing about hockey that makes me enjoy it so much is the humanity of it. Yes, hockey players can be dicks – anyone in any walk of life can be, and hockey has its share – and they tend to favor a cruel kind of humor that often isn’t appreciated away from the rink. But you frequently come across a great human interest story in the hockey world, and that’s a big reason Ross Greenburg’s all-access series on HBO and EPIX have been such can’t-miss TV.

On the same day that a letter from an 11-year-old begging a team to trade for her pro-hockey-playing dad (and they did!) made the national news, there was a great little story about Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers. A few days earlier, word had come from the Ranger camp that Mats – “Zucc” to his fans, which are legion; I can hear fans screaming “Zuuuuucc” in arenas all around the league, and there’s the ever-present Norwegian media contingent that follows him around and can always be relied upon to ask questions of the coach during press conferences – would be made available for a trade as contract extension negotiations had broken down. Ranger fans’ collective hearts were shattering all across the Northern Hemisphere. I wrote in my journal at the time: “But if money is more important to him than staying where the fans and his teammates love him . . . well, as they always say, hockey is a business.”

Well, here’s a quote today from Mats (in an article by Larry Brooks of the NY Post) that totally justifies our love for him: “I told [my agents] enough is enough. I’m happy with the offer and it’s important for me to stay here for a long time.” He agrees to a not-too-shabby deal and then the kid goes out and sets up two goals in an impressive win over the best team in the NHL.

Gotta love hockey players.

Talk to you next week.