Thursday, April 17, 2014

Travel Ends (temporarily) and Life Continues After the EBWW

My initial plan this morning was to hit the gym before beginning the day’s activities. I feel guilty and lazy after a travel week without exercise.

But I could not find a bra. All were in the laundry, and I cannot leave the house without wearing one. It is a city ordinance.

Home after being on the road over a week, the weariness of car travel, conferences, and family get-togethers took its toll. Today I plan on unpacking, doing laundry, catching up on snail mail, paying bills, and unwinding.

I am still decompressing from the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop (EBWW).

We drove home to New Jersey from Dayton, Ohio, the long way - via Boston.

Our home to Dayton is 600 miles. Dayton to our suburban Boston destination was 830 miles. Only 230 miles out of the way, plus another 350 miles to our house, detouring through Long Island to enjoy a late lunch and visit with my Mom, sister, and brother-in-law, before heading home and a final stop for groceries.

The extended drive brought us to Boston in time for an intimate, somewhat chaotic but entertaining holiday dinner with 34 relatives and friends.

But I was not cleaning, shopping, cooking, nor hosting!

Before moving on beyond Erma, here are -

A few highlights of the EBWW

Phil Donohue, past talk show host and gentleman extraordinaire, was the keynote speaker the first night. During the 1950s and early 60s he lived across the street from Erma and her family, and Erma appeared on his show several times over the years. He delighted the audience with anecdotes about their days in Dayton and happenings on and off camera.

     FYI – Phil is married to Marlo Thomas, who has a new book out, which I have not yet read but through the grapevine understand is wonderful, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over – Reinventing Your Life – And Your Dreams – Anytime, At Any Age. I intend to read it soon. But I digress…
Phil Donohue and his posse. I am second from the left.
A workshop entitled Chick Wit: Writing the Humorous Memoir, was led by the mother-daughter duo Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. She writes mystery novels, often with women protagonists, a humor newspaper column Chick Wit, and co-wrote four entertaining books about mother-daughter relationships with her daughter. Her Mom, Mother Mary, features prominently in her columns and mother-daughter books. Following the morning workshop and lunch presentation, the two speakers immediately flew home, where Mother Mary was under hospice care. Lisa told several poignant and funny stories about her Mom, who passed away three days later (April 13). But once again I digress…

Eighteen brave attendees performed 5-minute comedy skits at the final evening event. Coached by a professional comedian and participating in a Stand-up Comedy Boot Camp, they were daring and funny performers (I am sure the wine and other drinks consumed beforehand helped warm up the audience!).

A workshop entitled Women Writing Their Lives – Truth telling Wisdom and Laughter – featured moderator Patricia Wynn Brown (“The Hairdo Monologues”), the first editor of Ms. Magazine Suzanne Braun Levine, humorist and English lit professor Gina Barreca, and writer Ilene Beckerman, whose first book, published when she was 60 – Love, Loss and What I Wore – morphed into a Broadway play produced by Nora Ephron. Ilene is now 78. The panel proved compelling, inspiring, very funny, yet at the same time heartbreaking. I believe much of the audience was emotionally exhausted by the end of the discussion.

I could go on, but reality beckons. The dryer buzzer just started whining…bills to be paid on the 15th of the month stare at me (wasn’t the 15th a couple of days ago?)…small bags of stuff strewn all over remain unpacked…dust balls peek out from under the furniture…and I have to figure out what to prepare for dinner.

Life marches on.


  1. The workshop sounds wonderful! I hope you are inspired.

  2. I just went to the local library and put a hold on that Marlo Thomas book. I am #3 in line, can't wait! :-)

  3. There is a real talent to taking all those mundane moments of real life and turning them into something entertaining and funny. Erma Bombeck was an inspriration.

  4. Sounds to me that the time to mine those life moments is now!

  5. I'm having fun reading about your writing adventure. My Mom loved Donahue. Going to check out the author of mysteries. No got to be kidding. I'd go without one in protest!