Glasses for India

It’s been awhile hasn’t it?

What have I been up to? Quite a bit, actually.

This makes me chuckle, since I’ve encouraged a foreign-speaking friend to zap “actually” out of his vocabulary since he uses it so much. “You actually want me to stop saying actually?”

My head has been down, writing what I hope will become a new book. More on that another time.

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My plan—God willing and the creek don’t rise—is to check in and appear here more regularly. Not every day, as I was for awhile, but semi-regularly, most especially when I have something to say. A good idea, don’t you think? Trying to avoid writing just to write….as I try to avoid talking….just for its own sake. I remember the story that William F. Buckley told television critic Gene Shalit that he could point at any article in the New York Times and write a column about it.
“Yes,” replied Shalit, “I think I’ve read that one.”

At this moment I’m preparing for a trip to India, my third in a year. Stay tuned and you’ll hear more about that. Before my spring trip Wendy Zanino of Manhattan Beach Vision asked, “Do the people in the village need glasses?”
“Sure.” I’d never thought about it specifically, but of course they must.
“Would you like me to save some for you?”
And before you can “Namaste” I was managing, with on-the ground help, a one-day eye camp in the village of Kanai in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

It was Good Friday and we got to use a large school classroom. Friends hauled a swamp cooler over in a tractor. It was 104 degrees in the afternoon. Children peered through the windows. Women in veils and men in turbans jostled to get in. Men go first in Indian culture, but not here. I said we would alternate, one man, one woman. No one is used to appointments or waiting. No HIPAA confidentiality rules as everyone was watching to see if that eye machine was painful. Some of the women required coaxing to remove their veils to get the exam. People walked kilometers or came on buses hoping to be able to see better.

Amazing experience to help so many people for so little. With the help of Wendy’s frames we got 125 people glasses, for less than 10$ apiece, including exam, case, lenses and cleaning cloth.

Now I’m going back and hoping to do it bigger and better. Next month we’ll set up shop in a larger village nearby. Tuesday I picked up a large box of glasses from Manhattan Beach Vision and have spent a good amount of time sorting.

And here’s where you come in….if you like. I was happy to pay for the eye camp last time. And I’m happy to do so as well this time….BUT, if I can get help paying for the eye camp, then I can also get a dentist. The water in the area has hugely excessive fluoride which ruins people’s teeth. That is on top of the usual problems of people who have no professional dental care. My daughter Ariel suggested GoFundMe for the Eye Camp and set it up. The link above will send you there. Any amount is welcome.

There is no cost of any kind to the individual recipient. I am not an NGO. There’s no paperwork or overhead. It’s me—and YOU—helping people who need it.

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Posted in Life Experiences | 1 Comment

Happy New Year!

2017 was a big year, a travel year, a year of change, and a year of exhaling and finally settling in.

After two and a half years in San Francisco, it’s feeling ever more like home. I’ve got all my professionals in order–thank you Jessamyn–and know many of the little quirks that go along with living somewhere. Barry at the outdoor table at Peet’s holds Greta and Marlowe’s leashes in the morning so I can go inside and get a coffee. I have my sneaky little parking place for the Vespa right in front of Pilates. And we use the secret entrance to Baker Beach for early morning dog walks.

Was going to share here about about my travel experiences. It’s been a very fortunate year in that area, but as I started in, it sounded braggy…and so you will be happy that I know how to use my delete button.

Clever reader that you are, you can see tell from a couple of these pictures a few of the places I’ve been. Was also fortunate to study with both Tony Robbins and Bryon Katie in 2017.

And since you know I like a good story: here’s one of my favorites—probably THE favorite—of the whole year.

Early in 2017 I joined Unity of San Francisco, love the place for its quirkiness, the classes, the great music, and the love and acceptance all around. You never know what will happen. One week everyone in the congregation was given a new $20 bill.

In July, I began an Abundance class at Unity, deciding that I was “all in” for abundance. I’d do the exercises, bump up the commitment, do whatever it takes. On Sunday afternoon July 2 the class went from 1 to 3 p.m.

At 3:02 I received a text from Jessamyn. “Did you know the Ballet School is for sale?”


For 50 years my mother operated her ballet school out of an old Victorian home in Napa. A spectacular edifice, it was lovably rumpled, like a well-worn toe shoe. Where the kitchen used to be–a ballet school doesn’t need a kitchen—was the girls’ dressing room, mis-matched linoleum curling a bit at the edges. The bathrooms–one up, one down—were pasted on the back because the home was built long before indoor plumbing was a thing. We all loved the leaded glass, the grand stairway, and our special spaces at the barre. I was nine when she bought the place and would stand next to the mantel, where the hairpins rested, while Mama put my hair in a bun before ballet class.

In January 2016, six months after Mama died, Daddy sold the building to a developer who transformed it into a glorious home.

The costume closet became another bathroom. The upstairs studio became two bedrooms and the layout was rejiggered to scoop some of the hallway into the bathroom and make a laundry.

The huge redo took about six months and he told the home in August of 2016 while we were still reeling from my sister Alicia’s death. Two couples bought it together intending to both enjoy it themselves and rent it as a vacation home.

“No,” I told Jessamyn, “I did not know the Ballet School was for sale.”

In fact it had been on the market 47 days and there was a new price reduction. Two days later on July 4 I went to look at it.

It is entirely new and yet warm and familiar. A feeling unlike any other building I’ve been in. The walls are the same, high ceilings, simple molding. There’s the little curved area under the double-hung sash windows at front. The banister doesn’t squeak any more, and the missing spindles have been replaced. The treacherous staircase now has a tasteful sisal runner on it to promote quiet and reduce slipperiness. (Why didn’t we think of that?)

Where before three little doors went into the studio area now there is a large opening with a grand feeling.

And the kitchen! A fancy Italian oven, high cabinets, with period-looking handles. The understair closet Mama had piled with “stuff” is now a pantry.

The Ballet School is both utterly familiar and utterly new at the same time.

Several weeks later it was mine.

Especially exciting because it feels like not just for me but for everyone in our family. (Big thank yous to Daddy and Ariel, for occasional onsite help…accepting deliveries, gardening, managing trash barrels and such.)

With Alicia and Mama smiling down on the whole proceedings, we got to have Thanksgiving dinner at the Ballet School. Who knew the yard would be suitable for beer pong? For the first time in years that we got everyone seated at one table.

When I talk about the place people say, “You OWN a ballet school? You teach ballet?”

Well…not exactly, but you have to listen to the whole story.

And now you have.

Happy New Year.

Love, Karen

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Does Anyone Ever say “Closed Marriage?”

What makes you feel squirmy?

Uncooked egg whites? Putting on wet underwear? Seeing something you know you shouldn’t?

A NYT Sunday magazine story “Is An Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?” –they post earlier online–gave me a major case of squirms. And I’m clearly not the only one. In just a few hours the elegant piece, written by Susan Dominus and photographed by Holly Andres, had racked up nearly 1,000 comments, and now much more. A large of plurality of them use some form of the “have cake and eat too” argument, as in, it does-not-work, or not really possible. A few express wistfulness or vague jealousy…as in, I wish I could do that…

The story definitely has keyhole-appeal, learning things you normally don’t get to. The married couple that actually invites her boyfriend to come and live with them and their toddler son. The seeming fact that women are seeming more likely to request an open marriage. Of the 25 couples the author interviewed only six of them were opened by the husbands, and generally the wives are more active outside the marriage. But there’s no pretense that it’s a scientific or accurate work of sociology and that’s important I think.

Somewhat usual in a piece like this, the author inserts herself in an interestingly ambiguous way. She’s both curious and feels like a bit of puritan for her straightness. And yet, oddly, finds herself lying to her husband about dinner with a colleague while on a business trip. She tells him she has had dinner with a group of colleagues, instead of the one the one man she’s drawn to. Nothing untoward happens…..except in her mind…

While she questions her motive, the lie doesn’t fit with the whole open marriage idea…supposedly in these situations there is never any lying involved.


I’m more or less suspicious. Mostly more. How long do these arrangements last? Are they are way station as couples delude themselves that their marriage is ending?  The couples are suspiciously white and upper middle class, since as the author says, people really can’t constantly renegotiate their marriage relationship if they are juggling three jobs.

And the seeming result, much discussed, is generally openness and freedom in other areas of the relationship as well. Why not go straight for the emotional openness instead of get it as a seeming side effect of  additional sexual relationships?  Because the impetus really does generally seem about sex.

In the way that stories about parenting generally only consider young-ish children, this story about openness in marriage has hugely to do with a certain stage of marriage and sex. Which is great. I’d love to get me some. But what about marriage in the age of Viagra? Or do these additional seemingly crucial, and even permanent relationships fade away when someone gets really sick.

Hard not to put oneself into the idea in a story like this, which is interesting from a distance. Who doesn’t want to know the complications of other people’s marriages….? But close up?

As one who was married for 35 years, it seems hard enough to manage one relationship, without the the complications of multiple others on both side.

Old-fashioned. There. I said it.

Ick. Said that too.


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Fireside Story Telling

A great time was had by all at Fireside storytelling here in San Francisco. Great stories including one by moi-self.

For those who couldn’t make it new bells, whistles, and way to get your story.



Photo Credit: Julia Ohst


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Caring is Sharing…Bikini waxing and all…

So many details involved in moving….the schlepping, the packing and unpacking, window coverings, parking permits, parking regulations, parking tickets!

My car in fact, was towed from in front of my new place the day the moving truck arrived in San Francisco!  A helper was apparently as frazzled as I was and had the nose out into a neighbor’s driveway.

But once you are moved in the challenges have only just begun…

Where are going going to get coffee? Go to the doctor? Exercise? Drug store? Dentist? Get your hair done? Pilates? Get your bikini waxing??

Sure you can glaze your eyes looking at Yelp, but what you really want is a personal recommendation. I’ve been lucky to have some people help me out. Doc in Manhattan Beach gave me a referral here. My dentist came from the wonderful Kayla. Linda got me to the SF Comedy College.

But some recommendations are so personal. “Would you like my appointment with Nakia?” asked my daughter Jessamyn when I could hardly walk as I caring for my dying mother….and so I had got the kind of massage that frankly doesn’t feels breezy at the time, but puts the parts of your body back where they are supposed to be, compared to the awful jumble mine were at the time.

Jessamyn also got me to OnPointe Pilates with Kaitlyn, introduced me to avocado mash at Jane–hold the jalapeno and my hair has never looked better than when tended to by David Y, so good he doesn’t take new clients. I got in under the wire. If my nails look great it’s because of Tootsie Toes.

Jessamyn has even been generous enough to share her friends.

Shannon and Robin, do you see me waving??

And then there’s the really personal stuff…tending to the lady bits.

Yes, bikini waxing.

Again put my trust in Jessamyn, for all things beautiful. Heading off to the sun soon and so headed to a visit to Erin Dupree, who has, I believe more stars than any Yelp constellation. Once I had a dentist who used the tag line, “gentle dentistry”, which made me laugh.

Gentle bikini waxing seems even more a contradiction in terms.

How does she do it?

Life is ever full of mystery.



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