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Mingling with Martha Stewart

mingling with martha Martha Stewart is my best friend. Almost. Okay, not at all. Okay, I have never spoken a word to her in my life.

But I did see her twice in four days. Which is far more than I see my actual best friends. And this fact is both bizarre and upsetting.

Thursday. The first time I mingled with Martha was on Thursday night. Husband and I attended the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory with Mom and Sister C. For many years, my parents - avid antique collectors - have been attending this show and recently we girls - and our boys - have tagged along. It is an amazing event. Full of little booths that are decorated like actual rooms - painted walls, wallpaper, chandeliers - and chock full of wacky and wonderful antiquities from around the world. And if even the tiniest items didn't cost a zillion dollars, it would be a fantastic spot for Husband and me to pick up some goodies for our new place. But I digress. At this event, I saw Martha for about 2.5 seconds as she breezed by me on her way out. I noticed her because everyone else did. I only saw the back of her head but her hair looked nice and bouncy.

Sunday. The second time I mingled with Martha was on Sunday night when Husband and I drove to Bedford, New York for a small charity gathering for a terrific institution called Green Chimneys. The event was hosted by Richard Gere and his lovely wife Carey Lowell at Richard's fantastically warm and rustic restaurant The Bedford Post. The idea was to expose new people and new families to this tremendous organization. Husband and I and some of our friends are in the midst of starting a Junior Committee for Green Chimneys and we were thrilled to be included in the night's activities. Apparently, Martha and Richard are buddies. Or at least neighbors. I sat in the fourth row of the intimate audience for Alan Menken's medley of Broadway show tunes. She sat up front with Richard. Mere yards away from moi.

So, no. We didn't mingle. And she is not my best friend or even close to that. I am just an insecure soul and a pathetic name-dropper. And this pathetic name-dropper was sitting there inches from Martha wondering two pseudo-embarrassing things that I will now share with you.

One. I have now seen Martha twice in four days. Is this a sign from the Universe that I should get more domestic? And is domesticity contagious like, say, swine flu? If I inch closer to her, will I all of a sudden start packing my printer paper away in handcrafted patterned and aquamarine boxes with homemade labels that say, in some elegant and simple font, "PAPER"? Because that would be groovy.

Two. Maybe this is a sign I should give her an advance copy of LIFE AFTER YES which I coincidentally have a copy of in my purse. I am sure she would love it and feature it on her daytime show. And that would be fine with me.

Calm down. I stayed in my seat. I did not inch closer. The evening was not about celebrity proximity. No, it was about children, sweet children, who have not had the chances you or I have had. Children who have been injured or neglected or left behind in some capacity. Children who do not flit about in the orbit of the likes of Richard and Martha. Oh, and Bobby Kennedy, Jr. (Told you I was a name-dropper.) This event was about children who have a little more to worry about than their Ivy League Insecurities.

So I behaved myself. I sat there with my man, watching wild birds perch on arms and fly for coffered ceilings, listening to honest words from celebrities and regular people and kids who are fighting big fights. Listening to words about the power of redemption, of being healed by healing others, of being given that priceless second chance.

So, in the end, it really had nothing at all to do with Martha.

On the drive home, Husband and I chatted. We were still hungry. Using my sister's GPS, we sniffed out the nearest Burger King.

"Do we lead a normal life?" I asked him.

"What do you mean?" he said.

"I don't think it's normal to be at the same event with Martha Stewart twice within four days."

"Yeah," he said before ordering his bacon cheeseburger. "That's not normal."

"But our life seems normal," I said, unwilling to let this go.

"Of course it does," he said. "It's our life."

A wise man. My man. Soon, we turned back onto the highway. Headed for home. Back to our life. Our good life. Our decidedly abnormal and normal life. For much of the ride, we drove in silence under a black and benevolent sky. In that silence, I thought about things. About privilege. About paucity. About farms and fame. About kids who have every opportunity in the world. And those who have none. About giving and taking. About guilt and innocence. About money and poverty. About light and dark. About birds and babies. About city and country.

I thought about many things. About how we live lives we inherit and those we choose. Lives charted for us and those we create. Lives we cherish and those we curse. Lives which are both immutable and subject to profound change. Lives which can be made better by making other lives better.

It occurred to me as we parked my sister's car that I want to do better. I want to be better. I want to think about kids other than my own. Kids who don't have chaotic and cluttered and loving homes. Kids who need people.

People like me. People like you. People like Martha.

And I know this all sounds cliched. I know. Here I am, a Manhattan blondie with her safe existence and sunny little family, pledging to help the less fortunate. I know how it sounds.

But. Here I am, doing just that. Copping to the cute cliche. Pledging to do something. To look beyond the sweet little snow globe of my charmed existence. To learn a lot more about people, children particularly, who have a lot less.

No, this is not all about Martha Stewart. I'm an equal opportunity name-dropper and one name I want to leave you with is Green Chimneys. Simply stated, it is a farm that creates futures. A place where animals and humans are healed and together. A place where kids who are not as fortunate as yours and mine - and Martha's - go to get that second chance.

So there. I am not totally spoiled and selfish. (Only partially.)


Thoughts on Martha? On relegating all household belongings to perfectly-labeled decorative boxes? Do you ever have moments when you think your life is not normal? Do you make an effort to help people in your community or beyond who need it? Do you name drop even a little bit?

Vintage Plaid

Skies in Disguise