A Million Dollars

a million dollars

How would your life change if you won or inherited $1 million?

Let’s face it, one million dollars doesn’t have the buying power it used to. From months reading the Washington Post real estate section I know it wouldn’t buy me a house in my neighborhood. Most of those go for at least $1.2.

But it’s still no laughing matter. It’s enough to make some significant life improvements, but not so much that you’d get stalked by strangers from middle school asking for a “loan.”

Here’s what I’d do with my million:

1. Share half with my immediate family members.

2. Apply to anthropology or archaeology programs in DC  and take a couple years off work to go to school full time.

3. Travel to dig sites around the world and volunteer while waiting to matriculate in a graduate program.

4. Invest in cameras and lenses to document my travels from site to site.

5. Buy a couple new laptops.

6. Splurge on some first edition leather bound books.

7. I would take flying lessons and get a pilot’s license.

8. Upgrade to a 2-bedroom apt. with den.

9.  Save $100,000 for a rainy day.

10. Put $100,000 in a separate account so that I could donate the interest each year to my charity du jour.

What would you do with your windfall?


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Short fiction

All Story

I am a huge fan of short fiction. I devour stories by Alice Adams, tasty morsels by Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway, decadent treats by Isabel Allende, dark chunks by Poe, and those wonderful America’s Best anthologies.

I picked up New Sudden Fiction the other day, and am enthralled with Stacey Richter’s “The Minimalist” and Leslie Pietrzyk’s “Pompeii.”

I wish I could write like them — but my brain just doesn’t marry images and words the way they do.

These stories are delicious torture.

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Back in 2001, I changed fields completely… went from working for the housing and construction industries to working in science.

The toughest concept I learned – in addition to getting a crash course in just about every discipline out there (archaeology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, genomics, nanotechnology, proteomics, etc) – is that there are no absolutes.

Now, I thrive on absolutes, on guarantees, on infallibilities…. like knowing for certain that 100 cents makes one dollar or that 1+1=2 or that dogs bark and cats meow or that Friday is payday or that there are 24 hours to a day.

I get a little upset when ALIAS moves from Sunday to Wednesday nights, when my brother changes his email address and forgets to inform me, when the Euro starts to bitchslap the US dollar, when I finally understand that time is a constant (it does not pass – we pass through it).

Quantum Physics my friends – the multiple worlds theory. For a quick introduction, rent What the ^@!&@# do We Know?

So now, almost five years later, absolutes no longer exist in my world. And, I think my life is better for it, though it’s been a long process.

And it’s got me thinking…. IF this many-world view of reality is a possibility and IF some super-genius at MIT figures out how to travel between these universes and IF I could afford to travel in time (because we all know it’ll be ludicrously expensive when it’s first commercially available), then where would I want to go?

10. Participate in a druid ceremony at Stonehenge in 1500 BC.

9. Tour the Great Library of Alexandria in 100 BC

8. Visit Alexandria, Egypt during Cleopatra’s reign in 51 – 30 BC

7. Witness the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.

6. Menlo Park in 1879 when Thomas A. Edison invented the lightbulb.

5. Stroll the decks of the Titanic on the day of her launch on April 10, 1912.

4. Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 16, 1969 for the launch of Apollo 11.

3. Hear JFK’s Inauguration Speech on January 20, 1961.

2. September 1499 for the return of Vasco da Gama to Lisbon, Portugal, during the reign of Manuel I.

1. Florence in 1480 to pose for Leonardo da Vinci.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

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Smelly memories


I was walking down M Street when I caught a whiff of a distinctive scent – the smell of 2×4 wooden boards. Instead of standing on a busy sidewalk, I was transported back to the lot in Massachusetts where my dad and five other men framed our home…. and to the dim stage where 25 actors stood poised to help build a set.

The memories were vivid because of that wonderful aroma of fresh lumber.

There are other scents that never fail to bring back memories for me, like:

fresh cut grass
salty ocean air
burning charcoal
new leather

What scent does it for you?

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What else have I forgotten to remember?


I found an empty tube leaning against one of the counters in the office workroom. It was white cardboard, about the length of my arm and the perfect size for a poster I wanted to bring home.

I grabbed the cylinder and walked back to my office, my mind sorting through an endless list of tasks and deadlines. And suddenly I stopped.

Without thinking about it, I’d been twirling the packing tube like a baton. And then, to my horror, all these memories came flooding back… images of a much younger, little me in pleated skirts throwing batons in the air and doing routines.

I’d completely forgotten.

How is that possible? I remember the gymnastics… learning to do cartwheels and roundoffs and back walk-overs. But the twirling – I’d somehow blocked. Forgotten. Until this afternoon, when autopilot kicked in and I started twirling my cardboard tube.

What else have I forgotten? Has this ever happened to you?

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Sometimes a dream is just a dream


I had the strangest dream last night. Actually, it started off as a dream, but ended as a nightmare. Well, not really a scary nightmare, but very…. disturbing.

A group of people were sitting at a conference table. I looked around and recognized faces from my past, people I knew from college and high school. I thought, “How weird, what are they all doing here? Never thought I’d see HIM again.” That sort of thing.

This guy stood up at the head of the table and announced that he had made his decision. He looked nothing like Donald Trump, but I knew it was Trump. Very, very peculiar.

I realized the situation was something out of the “Apprentice” (which I’ve never watched, but seen plenty of promos for), but it was real life and not some reality program.

So Trump’s standing at the head of the table and all eyes are on him. He points to me and says, “I’ve selected her.”

All heads turned in my direction and a collective groan grew in volume as everyone complained at once. “What? Her? Why her? But I’m so much better. But I have more talent. She was the token idiot. She can’t run anything. Give me another chance. She’ll run your company to the ground.”

And all of a sudden, while everyone in the room protested my selection, they all started getting undressed. As if, by taking off their clothes, Trump would reconsider and choose one of them instead. I just continued to sit there, horrified, as people around me stripped during this business meeting.

I didn’t say a word the entire time I was in that board room. Just remained seated in a leather swivel chair, wearing a navy blue suit, looking around in constant bewilderment.

Anyone out there have a clue what all this means? Do you want to take a stab at deciphering this dream?