Blog Category: Uncategorized

Corona Princess Diaries Day 14

By meggin,

Hello, everybody! Sorry for the slight delay in posting the latest installment of Princess Mia’s diary. I received the page-proofs of No Offense, my new adult book that will be out in August, as well as the draft of a script for a film based on one of my books (sorry! Nothing official to announce yet, and of course because of Covid, filming is a long way off. But it’s a great script!), so I had to read them. That put me a little behind deciphering Princess Mia’s very bad hand writing. Her diaries are a mess!

But Corona Princess Diaries Day 14 is here now. Please enjoy below!

And remember, as with any diary, the princess is only recording her thoughts at the given moment. Her diary has had no copy editing. Also, both the princess and I are aware that this is a serious and rapidly developing crisis.

I would like to thank health care workers, first responders, and everyone else out there working to keep us healthy, safe, and fed right now.  If you’d like to help people who are in need during this crisis, I suggest supporting your local food bank. Find one here.

And if you like to read, please support your local indie bookstore (many will deliver books to your home) by ordering them here at BookStoreLink.

I hope you enjoy this fourteenth FREE installment of The Princess Diaries – Quarantine Edition.


Corona Princess Diaries Day 14


-Royal Bedroom-


Today it finally happened:


Michael was released from self-isolation!


And thanks to my incredible skills in diplomacy (but mainly because I’m a female leader of a constitutional monarchy, and in this world crisis, female leaders have so far shown the best responses, banding together like lionesses to keep our pride countries safe and healthy), I acquired eleven hundred rapid coronavirus test kits from the chancellor of Germany.


So Dr. Khan gave Michael one, and . . . he passed! He has been declared officially virus free!


“Oh, Michael!” I cried, after he’d given the twins hugs and kisses, then walked into our bedroom, where I was finally able to throw my arms around him and inhale his fresh Michael smell. Instantly, I felt better than I had in days—fourteen days, to be exact.


I’ll talk to him later about the beard he appears to be growing. And I don’t understand what is going on with his sideburns. But those are small, superficial things that don’t matter. Michael is back in my arms!


“You won’t even believe what happened while you were gone, Michael,” I cried. “The Genovian Restaurant and Hotel Association is suing me for shutting down all the bars and casinos! And Lana tried to come visit for Easter! And Fat Louie has hyperthyroidism! And Rocky got into fight with a swan! And Grandmere is engaged to a nineteen year old music history major from the University of Florida, and fully intends to marry him, despite their seventy year or more age difference. And she accused me of being ageist!”


“Mia,” Michael said, as he untied my sweat pants. Really I should have dressed up a little for his return, but I’ve stress eaten so much cheese that none of my regular clothes fit anymore. “I already know all that. I was in a guest room down the hall, not Siberia. You and I saw each other across the balcony every day, remember?”


“Oh, right.” I believe I’m suffering from quarantine-induced amnesia. I can’t remember what day it is or even what month. “Well, what are we going to do?”


“Maybe we could wait a day or two to figure it out.” Michael pulled off my comfy knee-length quarantine cardigan and also the I Heart GenoviaT-shirt I’ve been wearing for several days straight beneath it. I would have changed, but it’s my only shirt that fits. “Hmmm, what’s going on here—no bra?”


“Michael,” I scoffed. “It’s a pandemic. No one wears a bra anymore. Not unless they’re jogging or giving a press brief—“


I didn’t get to finish, however. That’s because he’d thrown me across the bed, where we spent a very pleasant half hour or so ravaging each other’s bodies.


His body hadn’t changed so much since I’d last seen it (except for the beard and sideburns, which I honestly don’t understand since he had to have had a razor in there. Unlike me, who has had no access to Paolo or hair dye, so I’m growing a white stripe down the part in my hair that looks exactly like the one the mom grew in the original Poltergeist movie after she entered the gate to the other dimension to rescue her daughter Carol-Anne. Ruling a country during Covid is a lot like entering a gate to another dimension, just without the ectoplasm).


Of course, Michael wasn’t left alone to cope with twin toddlers, a demented senior, and an entire country that’s demanding to re-open even though there is no scientific data to indicate that this would be safe, so all that happened to him was that his facial hair got longer.


But when you’re in love, looks don’t matter, as we know from Beauty and the Beast. Even something as hideous as a beard and sideburns like a confederate general from the Civil War can still be sexy . . . or at least politely ignored for the time being.


Afterwards, when we were still snuggling together in the after glow of amazing reunion sex, Michael said, “Would you care to tell me why there’s a wine refrigerator next to the bed?”


“Oh,” I said, raising my head from his chest. “Because it’s more convenient to have it here than in the closet, where it used to be.”


“I think what I meant was, why is there a wine refrigerator in our bedroom at all?”


“Oh, well, because it was getting so inconvenient to keep asking the major domo to have bottles sent to my room. This way, all I have to do is lean down and grab one. I’ve gotten fast enough now that I can reach down and open a new bottle in the 15 seconds between episodes of shows on Netflix without even missing the intro. Speaking of which, where are my manners? Would you like a glass? I have a very nice pinot gris from a case sent to me by the prime minister of New Zealand.”


“Mia, it is eleven o’clock in the morning.”


“Michael, this is Europe. People drink wine at lunch all the time.”


“Since when is eleven o’clock lunch?”


“Michael, a lot of things have happened since you went into self-isolation, and I’m not just talking about my grandmother getting engaged to someone who isn’t even old enough to remember Myspace. The world is different. We wear facemasks and stand six feet away from one another—or at least we’re supposed to. There are lunatics out there who insist that their civil rights are being violated by being asked to do so. Everyone else is trying to make the best of it, doing the socially responsible thing like staying home and helping their kids with distance learning, which is basically horrible for both the parents and the kids, and when this is over, I’m giving teachers huge raises. So we have all started drinking wine to cope, and no one judges anyone else for it.”


Michael spread his hands wide. “I’m not judging! Obviously, you’ve been working hard and deserve as much wine as you want. I was just surprised to see a wine refrigerator where the night table used to be, that’s all.”


“Well, the nice thing about wine fridges is that they work perfectly well as night tables. You see now nicely the lamp fits on there? And my box of tissues and moisturizer? It’s essential to keep moisturizer around these days because your hands get so chapped due to having to wash them all the time. I’ve had to stop wearing the engagement ring you got me because I got a rash under it from all the hand sanitizer I’ve been using . . . and also it doesn’t fit my finger anymore due to my cheese consumption.”


Michael lifted my hand to his lips. “I noticed. I thought you weren’t wearing it because you’d forgotten me.”


“What?” I was shocked. “Never!”


He smiled. “That’s good to know. All that moisturizing has left your hands are nice and soft.”


“You like that, do you?” I asked with a knowing smile.


His smile was just as knowing. “I like it a lot.”


“Would like me to do some more stuff to you with my nice, soft hands?”


“Your hands, and other things. Maybe you’d like me to do the same to do you?”


“Yes, please.”



Stay tuned for more entries from The Corona Princess Diaries coming very soon!


  Filed under: Meg's Diary, Uncategorized
  Comments: None

Corona Princess Diaries Day 10

By meggin,

Greetings, everybody! I hope you’re all still staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

Entries from Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia’s diary* have fallen into my hands, and as the princess’s royal biographer, it’s my duty to share them with you!

*Please keep in mind that as with any diary, the princess is only recording her thoughts at the given moment, and has had no copy editing. Also, both the princess and I are aware that this is a serious and rapidly developing crisis. 

I would like to thank health care workers, first responders, and everyone else out there working to keep us healthy, safe, and fed right now.  If you’d like to help people who are in need during this crisis, I suggest supporting your local food bank. Find one here.

And if you like to read, please support your local indie bookstore (many will deliver books to your home) by ordering them here at BookStoreLink.

I hope you enjoy this tenth FREE installment of The Princess Diaries – Quarantine Edition.



– Royal Bedroom –

Despite some news reports to the contrary, Genovia is still holding steady at only one (1) Covid-19 patient (a Spring Breaker from Gainesville, Florida). Chad (last name withheld for reasons of privacy) is in stable condition at the Genovia Hospital, resting comfortably and in good spirits. The hospital has been inundated with gift baskets of pears and olive oil for him from well-meaning Genovians.


People seemed determined, however, to push up our numbers. We’ve had to close the airports and marinas and establish checkpoints on all roads leading into Genovia, and ask car owners to present proof of residency before they can enter – that’s how many people are trying to get in!


I’ve always known, of course, that Genovia is popular. It’s certainly where I would want to be during any sort of international crisis. The beaches are lovely (though they’re all closed now) and the weather can’t be beat, and of course we serve every flavor of gelato that you can imagine (when the shops are open).


But you would think people would take into account that our hospital is quite small. We barely have enough beds for our permanent residents, let alone visitors!


Chad has only been allowed to stay because he was here before the lockdown occurred, and because he’s ill. Chad’s roommate Derek, meanwhile, had to be tracked down by the Royal Genovian Guard. He was finally caught inside Crazy Ivan’s (currently acting only as a liquor store and not a bar, and so has permission to be open as an essential business. Genovians love their liquor) and is currently being well taken care of by . . . .




That’s right. We have a University of Florida student living with us here at the palace, because my grandmother says the only way she’ll stay in self-isolation is if we “look after poor Derek,” whom she met while partying during Spring Break on the Royal Yacht.


Obviously, I’ve stuck him in the little guest apartment above the pool house (like Ryan Atwood on The OC, but let me tell you, Derek does not look like Ryan – or perhaps I’ve been married too long to an actual man to appreciate the looks of nineteen year old boys, who now resemble hairless newts to me), because it’s the room furthest away from our quarters. Not to be mean, but I do not even know this boy.


And although he’s tested negative for Covid, who knows what other diseases Derek could have? I saw the way Grandmere, also known as the inFLUENZer, was grinding on him in that video someone posted of the two of them “dancing” together.


But even though I’ve put him as far away as humanly possible from the rest of us, I still have to hear him all the time, because he’s already managed to figure out how to work the outdoor sound system over there.


“What is that?” I asked Michael this evening while we were enjoying our nightly cocktail on our respective balconies (only FOUR more days until he’s out of self-isolation!).


“I believe that’s Baby, I Love You by Aretha Franklin,” Michael replied.


“But why?” I was shocked. “Why is he playing that now, outside? And so loudly?”


“I’m guessing because he’s a college student,” Michael said, not looking nearly as aggravated as I felt. “And because he likes it. And because he’s getting to live for free in a beautiful apartment above a swimming pool in a palace in Genovia, with all the free food and booze he wants. So he’s showing his appreciation.”


“Well, I don’t appreciate it. I’m putting a stop to it right now!” I jumped to my feet.


“Why?” Michael asked.


“Because the whole town is going to hear that!”


“So what? The whole town is in lockdown, unable to go out. They might enjoy hearing the Queen of Soul coming from the palace.”


“But – but – he might wake the babies!”


“Who cares?” Michael was laughing. “There’s a beautiful sunset, nice music, and we’re together—at least as together as we can be right now. Why don’t you just relax?”


I stared at him in disbelief.


Here is the problem: I love my husband, but I hate being told to relax. I can and will relax, but only when I’m good and ready. Don’t tell me to relax.


And especially don’t tell me to relax when there’s a global pandemic and thousands of people are trying to enter my country, but I can’t let them in (which I feel very guilty and conflicted over), I have twin toddlers, a psychotic grandmother, a cat with hyperthyroidism, a principality to rule, and some random college student living in my pool house, playing VERY loud music during the only time I’m able to enjoy the company of my self-isolating husband.


I was about to tell Michael how very much I hate being told to relax (which he knows) when something strange happened:


Derek—who obviously fancies himself some kind of DJ—put on his next song for our alleged enjoyment: Stevie Wonder’s For Once In My Life.


And I felt myself  . . . relaxing.


I was ACTUALLY relaxing. During a pandemic!


I don’t know how.  Or why.


It was all so strange, because I’d just been talking to my friend Tina Hakim Baba on the phone – poor Tina is in New York City, where they are having a terrible outbreak of the virus. Tina is a resident in a hospital there, so she is bravely working night and day to combat it – and she had JUST been saying to me that in addition to our physical health, we need to look out for our mental health during this stressful time as well, in whatever way we can, whether by:


  • Finding some kind of hobby or project we enjoy (Ha! Yeah! Right!)
  • Exercising (seriously?)
  • Meditating (please)
  • Watching a movie or television show (who has time for this? Though Tina does, apparently – she is re-watching Glee on Netflix for the thirtieth time in between shifts, and I am thankful to Netflix for broadcasting Glee to help those like Tina who are out there on the battle lines)
  • Reading (honestly this one I get. Especially for people like Tina, lover of all things romance. I myself am reading a book about a pandemic, specifically the Spanish Influenza, because there might be valuable clues in it that could help our current situation. But I can’t say I’m enjoying it.)
  • Whatever else helps that is not illegal or harmful to ourselves or others


I assured Tina that I’m journaling every day (well, almost), but as a busy working mother—even with a lot of help (although the nanny quit)—I barely have time to care for my physical health, let alone my mental health.


But I’m not even the person doing the worst in my family right now, mental health wise. You would think that prize would go to my father or possibly my grandmother (although her mental health is so bad that she thinks she is the sanest person in the family). No. Oh, no. Today I found out that that prize goes to my half-brother Rocky. Because today I found out that Rocky got into a fight.


With a swan.


One of the swans from the moat.


A LIVE SWAN. My little brother got into a fight with a SWAN.


I can’t imagine what people who live in a regular sized house or apartment are going through if they, like me, are sheltering-in-place with young children. It’s difficult enough in a palace.


In any case, the swan appears to have won, since Rocky has a black eye, and I saw the swan a little while ago, strutting around and waving his wings like Creed after a prize fight.


Mom was busy helping out with the twins and Dad of course was yelling into his phone about his investments, so I was the one who was forced to sit down and have the following talk with my little brother:


“Rocky,” I said. “Can you please not beat up the swans from the moat? They’re only birds. You’re a human boy, and much smarter than they are.”


Rocky: “But he started it!”


Me: “Yes, well, he may have started it, but it’s up to you to put an end to it.”


Rocky: “I tried to! But then he hissed at me, and hit me in the eye with his beak!”


Me: “I know. But he’s only a swan. He didn’t know any better. HE IS A BIRD.”


Rocky (sullen): “None of this would be happening if it weren’t for this stupid virus. I was supposed to be playing in the Genovian Youth Soccer National Championship this week, and instead I’m cooped up in this stupid palace with these stupid swans!”


Suddenly, everything became much clearer. I have no idea why the Royal Genovian Academy is taking so long setting up online classes. But there hasn’t been a peep out of them yet except to say “We will be contacting you soon!” and meanwhile, the kids are running around wild, beating up swans because their minds aren’t being actively engaged and their mental health is literally going to the birds.


Although I have a feeling things are going to get worse when they DO set up the online classes.


Me: “All right, listen, Rocky, I understand. There are a lot of things I’d rather be doing this week, too. But the Genovian Youth Soccer National Championship is going to get rescheduled. I promise. In the meantime, if you could just try to get along with the swans, I’ll give you—well, I’ll give you anything you want.”


Rocky (considering this): “Really? Anything I want?”


Me (realizing I was making a huge mistake but thinking, How bad could it be?): “Sure.”


Rocky: “Great. I’d like my own sword, please.”


Me (I should have seen this coming): “No. You cannot have a sword.”


Rocky: “Then can I have my own flame thrower?”


Me:“No. No, you cannot have your own flame thrower. Ask for something reasonable that is not a weapon with which you can hurt swans or people.”


Rocky: “Fine. Then can I just play soccer with that new guy who moved in above the pool house? He said he’d play with me if you said it was okay. I promise I won’t touch the ball with my hands. Please?”


Me: “….”


Rocky: “PLEASE???? You said anything.  I saw him dancing with Grandmere in a video, so it’s not like we’re not friends with him. He’s cool, he likes soccer and video games. He says he’s studying music history at the best college in the USA, University of Florida, so that he can be a DJ one day.”


Me (….): “Fine. Yes, you can play soccer with him if you don’t touch the ball. Or him. Stay six feet away from him at all times.”


Rocky: “THANKS! I will!”


I wish I could go back to the days when playing soccer with someone was all it took to make me happy. Actually, those days never existed for me.


Suddenly the music shifted, and Derek began to play Take Me to the River by the Talking Heads.


“See?” Michael said, tapping his fingers along the stone balustrade. “Isn’t this nice? Aren’t you glad you gave it a chance?”


“Okay.” I had to admit Derek had taste. “But if this goes on past Rocky’s bedtime, I’m shutting it down.”


Sometimes being the princess of Genovia isn’t so bad after all.


Come back soon for another entry of The Corona Princess Diaries

  Filed under: Meg's Diary, Uncategorized
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Corona Princess Diaries Day 8

By meggin,

Hello, everybody! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

Entries from Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia’s diary* have fallen into my hands, and as the princess’s royal biographer, it’s my duty to share them with you!

*Please keep in mind that as with any diary, the princess is only recording her thoughts at the given moment, and has had no copy editing. Also, both the princess and I are aware that this is a serious and rapidly developing crisis. 

I would like to thank health care workers, first responders, and everyone else out there working to keep us healthy, safe, and fed right now.  If you’d like to help people who are in need during this crisis, I suggest supporting your local food bank. Find one here.

And if you like to read, please support your local indie bookstore (many will deliver books to your home during this crazy time) by ordering them here at BookStoreLink.

I hope you enjoy this eighth FREE installment of The Princess Diaries – Quarantine Edition.


– Royal Bedroom –


My ex-nemesis Lana Weinberger just called.


I refer to her as my “ex-nemesis” because we buried the hatchet my senior year in high school when Lana apologized for – and even explained – her atrocious behavior toward me. Obviously I forgave her, because that’s what princesses (and self-actualized people) do, and we’ve since become friends.


It helps that she’s made a concerted effort to not be as shallow as she used to be, especially now that she’s married to an actually nice guy (who just happens to be a Rockefeller and a multi-millionaire) with whom she has an adorable daughter that she named Purple Iris, in honor of Blue Ivy, the first born of Lana’s idol, Beyonce.  Lana recently gave birth to a son, whom she of course named Sir Rockefeller.


Even though Lana is trying not to be so shallow, that doesn’t mean she always succeeds. That’s why she was calling, as a matter of fact:


Lana: “Mia, would you care to explain to me why the pilots of my private jet just told me that they can’t file a flight plan to Genovia? I thought we were all getting together for Easter, like we do every year. But they’re saying your country is closed, or something?”


Me: “Oh, yes, sorry, Lana. I meant to call you sooner. I have to cancel our Easter plans. We’re having a viral pandemic here. From what I understand, there’s one going on in the US, too.”


Lana: “Oh, that! Yes, I heard about that. But it only makes old people sick. We don’t need to worry about that.”


Me: “Uh, no, Lana, we actually do. It isn’t just old people who get it. It can strike anyone.”


Lana: “No, only if you live in like, Los Angeles or Brooklyn, or something. But not where we are.”


Me: “Lana, we have a case here in Genovia.”


Lana: “Oh, one case. Mia, you were always such a hypochondriac! You closed your whole entire country for ONE case?”


Me: “Yes, Lana, because I don’t want other people to get it. We’re trying to flatten the curve before things get worse.”


Lana: “But it’s not like we’re even going to do anything while we’re there except what we always do, which is go to the beach and drink wine while your nanny watches the kids play.”


Me: “Lana, I’ve closed all the beaches, and my nanny left. She has elderly parents who need her, so I sent her home to be with them.”


(While still getting full pay, I’d like to add! But I’m royal, so of course I can afford it.)


Lana: “What? Oh my God, Mia, way to overreact. Well, we can still take out the royal yacht, then, and your mother can watch our kids. Or your little sister. I don’t care. They’re both sweet.”


Me: “My mom and my little sister are generously helping out with the babies right now, thanks. But the royal yacht is in dry dock getting completely disinfected because the person who has the virus was seen dancing on it with my grandmother and her friends.”


Lana: “Ew, really? Well, we can hang at the pool, then. I don’t care, Mia! Just somewhere that’s warm where someone else can watch the kids while we celebrate Easter the proper way, with cocktails, like we always do.”


Me: “Lana, I can’t. You know I can’t. I have to be a good example for my country. I told my citizens that they have to observe social distancing and shelter at home, so I have to do the same thing. Did you know Michael has been in self-isolation in one of the guest rooms for eight days now? I haven’t seen my husband in eight days. Well, I mean, I’ve seen him, but I haven’t been able to touch him, or be touched by him.”


Lana: “God, no wonder you sound so tense. Anyway, Mia, that is just ridiculous! You’re taking this whole thing too far. We can most certainly still come for Easter if we all place our lounge chairs six feet apart. And the dining chairs in the Royal Banquet Hall, as well. God knows it’s big enough.”


Mia: “No, Lana, you can’t. Dr. Khan, the royal physician and the lead member of my Genovian Coronavirus Task Force, says it isn’t safe for people to be traveling at the moment, even on a private plane. And besides, it isn’t just the beaches that are closed here. All the bars and restaurants – clothing stores – high end jewelry and shoe stores – everything is shut down. I don’t think you’d enjoy a visit here. So you’re better off staying home and protecting yourself and your children.”


Lana (practically crying): “But I’ve been cooped up inside with these kids for the whole winter! Except for when we went to Disney. I just can’t stand it anymore! Did you know it was forty degrees here the other day? Who ever even heard of such a thing? It’s supposed to be spring!”


Me: “I’m sorry about the weather, Lana. I’m sure it’s awful there right now in your huge mansion in the Hamptons right on the beach.”


Lana: “The cold beach.”


Me: “The cold beach.  But you still can’t come here. It’s for your own good.”


Lana (sniffling): “All right.  I guess.  But can we get together some other time, when this is all over, and have cocktails by the palace pool?”


Me: “Yes, Lana. We can. I promise you. When we get through this thing – and I swear to you, we’re going to get through this thing, because there are very smart scientists working around the clock on cures and vaccines for this virus – we will get together for cocktails by the palace pool.”


Lana (sounding more cheerful): “Okay! Well, I have to go re-do my makeup. It’s all smeary now from crying. Love you. Bye!”


Me: “Love you. Bye.”


A princess’s work is never done.



Come back tomorrow for another entry of THE CORONA PRINCESS DIARIES

  Filed under: Meg's Diary, Uncategorized
  Comments: None

Corona Princess Diaries Day 7

By meggin,

Hello, everybody! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

Entries from Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia’s diary* have fallen into my hands, and as the princess’s royal biographer, it’s my duty to share them with you!

*Please keep in mind that as with any diary, the princess is only recording her thoughts at the given moment, and has had no copy editing. Also, both the princess and I are aware that this is a serious and rapidly developing crisis. 

I would like to thank health care workers, first responders, and everyone else out there working to keep us healthy, safe, and fed right now.  If you’d like to help people who are in need during this crisis, I suggest supporting your local food bank. Find one here.

And if you like to read, please support your local indie bookstore (many will deliver books to your home during this crazy time) by ordering them here at BookStoreLink.

I hope you enjoy this seventh FREE installment of The Princess Diaries – Quarantine Edition.



– Royal Bedroom –


I did my own hair and makeup for my televised address to the nation, giving them the news that we have our first official case of the virus.


Michael watched it and said (via FaceTime from self-isolation) that I looked great. Which is lovely, but he has to say that, since we’re married.


Paolo was not so complimentary. I just got the following voicemail from him:


Principessa, why you go on the television and you do not call me, Paolo? You hair, it look no good! So many roots, and the split ends! You make Paolo look bad! Next time you call me, I do not care about the germs. Ciao.”


Paolo isn’t the only one who’s mad. I also announced a shelter-at-home order because too many Genovians have been going out. Obviously not to bars or restaurants, since those are all closed, but to have picnics at the beach—even though the beaches are closed—and especially onto their yachts to have extremely large parties – including hopping from boat to boat – without practicing any social distancing at all!


Do people think that because they’re out on the water, the virus goes away? IT DOES NOT.


I understand that people still want to have fun, in spite of the virus, but can’t they do it AT HOME and IN SMALL GROUPS?


What choice did they leave us, but to issue the stay-at-home order?


Honestly, I don’t know what they were expecting.  They can complain all they want about this being a “nanny” state, but I am only thinking of their own health and safety.


Besides which, Genovia could never be a “nanny” state. It is obviously a “princess” state.


I think I did a pretty good of illustrating this during in my address, especially during the hand-washing directive. All Genovians must wash their hands AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE (and take their RINGS OFF, or they will develop a rash. Not that this has happened to me. OK, it has) for 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing to themselves the entirety of the Genovian national anthem.


Because so many Genovians do not seem to know the national anthem, I had my film crew air it during my address, so everyone could be sure to get the words right.


But unfortunately because we were working with a skeleton crew due to the virus, and also keeping a six foot distance from one another, and no one thought to check one another’s work, what aired during my national address was this footage from one of the unauthorized bio-pics of my life:


So everyone got to see a video of the glamorous actress who plays me in the unauthorized movies of my life, right alongside me, in my pandemic hair.


Oh, well, whatever. I’ve decided I like my pandemic hair. It’s a look I might keep forever, along with my pandemic yoga pants, extra snuggly overlarge sweater, and Birkenstocks, which I now wear all day long (except when doing formal addresses to the nation and virtual meetings, during which I swap out the sweater for a more princessy look on top).


Why did we as a society even bother to dress up before? I do understand it for balls and more formal occasions, but If you think about it, it makes no sense the rest of the time to worry so much about how we look. What is even the point?


Although I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled by the beard I can see that Michael is growing. I’ll have to wait until I can touch it before I make my final decision.


Oh! The day I finally get to touch Michael again! Only . . . how many more days? Seven? Can that even be right?


Wait . . .why is my ex-nemesis Lana Weinberger calling me?




Come back tomorrow for another entry of The Corona Princess Diaries

  Filed under: Meg's Diary, Uncategorized
  Comments: None

Corona Princess Diaries Day 6

By meggin,

Hello, everybody! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

Entries from Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia’s diary* have fallen into my hands, and as the princess’s royal biographer, it’s my duty to share them with you!

*Please keep in mind that as with any diary, the princess is only recording her thoughts at the given moment, and has had no copy editing. Also, both the princess and I are aware that this is a serious and rapidly developing crisis. 

I would like to thank health care workers, first responders, and everyone else out there working to keep us healthy, safe, and fed right now.  If you’d like to help people who are in need during this crisis, I suggest supporting your local food bank. Find one here.

And if you like to read, please support your local indie bookstore (many of whom will deliver books to your home during this crazy time) by ordering them here at BookStoreLink.

I hope you enjoy this sixth FREE installment of The Princess Diaries – Quarantine Edition.


–  Royal Bedroom –


Genovia has our first official case of the virus!


And it is someone we know.


By “we” I mean Grandmere. Grandmere knows him. Grandmere knows him very, very well.


That’s right. The first person in Genovia to come down with the virus (that we know of) is none other than Chad (last name withheld for reasons of privacy), of Gainesville, Florida – Chad, the University of Florida student with whom Grandmere was partying on the Royal Yacht!


The Prime Minister says Chad was found by a dog-walker (isn’t that always how it happens on Law & Order?), shivering beneath a towel on one of the lounge chairs at the beach, surrounded by empty cans of White Claw (exact flavor unknown, but I personally prefer grapefruit so I hope it was that).


Chad’s friend Derek was sitting nearby, eating a calzone and playing Fortnite on his phone. He was not at all alarmed by his friend’s condition, but seemed very much alarmed when he saw all the Royal Genovian medical personnel in Haz-Mat suits, who quickly descended upon him and took his temperature.


According to reports, both Chad and Derek surrendered peacefully.


“Fortunately, Chad’s symptoms are mild,” I told my family tonight at dinner. “And Derek has tested negative. Chad is resting comfortably in an isolation room at the hospital.”


Chad?” Grandmere cried, nearly dropping her Sidecar. “Chad of the University of Florida?”


“Yes, Grandmere,” I said.  “Chad. You do know what this means, don’t you?”


“Of course,” she said. “We must send poor Chad a get-well fruit basket at once. And perhaps some nice magazines. Do we have the latest Vanity Fair?”


“No! Well, yes. But just how intimately are you acquainted with Genovia’s ONLY coronavirus patient (so far)?”


Grandmere tried to act coy. “Not much. Hardly at all. He and the Baroness and I shared a few laughs, and maybe some crudités. He didn’t seem at all ill, however. He might have said something about his allergies acting up, but you know how the pear trees are in bloom. Everyone’s feeling a little under the weather – ”


“That’s it!” I threw down my napkin. I’d had all I could take. “You’re going into self-isolation, too, Grandmere, just like Michael!”


“How dare you, Amelia!” Grandmere rose dramatically from the table. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will!”


I glared at her. “Are you seriously quoting Jane Eyre at me right now?”


“And why shouldn’t I, when you’re treating me as if I were a madwoman? But I won’t be locked in any attic. Philippe, are you listening to a word your daughter is saying?” Grandmere whirled on my dad. “She’s trying to cage me!”


“What’s this?” Dad finally looked up from his iPhone, where he’s been feverishly looking for sports scores since this whole thing started. But there are none. “What did you say about a cage, Mother?”


“All I did was make some new friends,” Grandmere complained. “I can hardly help that, I’m a dynamic woman, and everyone is attracted to me!  And now Amelia is cruelly trying to punish me for it by forcing me to stay in my rooms.”


“It’s for the public good, Clarisse.” My mother tried to help. “You could be carrying the virus and not know it. What if you infected the children?”


“The chances of that are highly unlikely.” Grandmere reached for her Sidecar. “I had my flu shot this year.”


“This isn’t the flu, Grandmere,” Olivia looked up from her own phone to say. Since we’re living through a global pandemic, I relaxed the rule about no phones at the table. In this way, I hope to keep from going insane. “The flu is caused by any of several different types and strains of influenza viruses. This outbreak is caused by one virus, the novel 2019 coronavirus, now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, for which we currently have no cure or vaccine.”


We all stared at Olivia for several moments.


“Thank you, Olivia,” I said, at last. Perhaps I was wrong about allowing phone usage at the table. “That was very informative.” To Grandmere I said, “Now do you see why you need to keep to your own wing of the palace, Grandmere? This is a very serious situation.”


“But what about Derek?” Grandmere cried. “Who is looking after him?”


“Who cares?” I asked. “He’s an American college student. He can go back home, to America.”


“Uh, actually, he can’t,” Lilly said, looking up from her own phone. Remember the days when no one had a cell phone, and we all fully focused on one another as we ate? I do. I remember when all I wanted as a teenager was a beeper, for Michael Moscovitz to kiss me, and not to be the Princess of Genovia. Well, I got one thing I wanted. “They’re not letting people who’ve been traveling in Europe back into the US. Or rather, they are, but if they’ve been somewhere that has an outbreak of the virus, they have to self-isolate for two weeks when they get home. Or something. It seems to be changing hourly over there.”


“You see?” Grandmere cried triumphantly. “Derek must stay here, and we must offer him our hospitality!”


Now I was really sure she was a madwoman. “What? Why?”


“Because we’re royals, Amelia. And that’s what royals do. We offer up our homes to strangers in times of duress.”


“I am not offering up a room in this palace to some college student I’ve never met who may or may not have SARS-CoV-2.”


“But I thought you said he tested negative!”


“He did. For now. But who knows – ”


“If Derek comes to stay with us, and I know the sweet little lamb is safe, then I will make the supreme sacrifice, and self-isolate in my own quarters as you suggest, Amelia.” Grandmere laid a hand upon her bosom. “Let it not be said that I did nothing for my country during this time of unparalleled disaster and desperation – ”


“Oh, my God, all right already.” I rolled my eyes at the footman who was standing nearby, trying to keep a straight face.  “Could you please let the major domo know we need to get a room ready for our new guest, Derek . . . ?” I looked questioningly at my grandmother for Derek’s last name.


“Derek of Gainesville, Florida!” she cried. “Student at America’s number one university!”


Fortunately my own phone rang at that point, saving me from having to continue the conversation. It was the Prime Minister again. She wants me to give a live televised address to the nation about the virus, now that we have our first patient.


Which is all well and good and completely necessary, but . . . .


My hair!


Dr. Khan told me under no circumstances was I to let anyone who hadn’t been screened for the virus come near me, and that includes my hair stylist, Paolo.


Obviously hair is the last thing anyone should be thinking about at a time like this.


But one does want to look good for one’s country, even in a crisis.


Come back tomorrow for the next entry of THE CORONA PRINCESS DIARIES

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Corona Princess Diaries Day 5

By meggin,

Hello, everybody! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

Entries from Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia’s diary* have fallen into my hands, and as the princess’s royal biographer, it’s my duty to share them with you!

*Please keep in mind that as with any diary, the princess is only recording her thoughts at the given moment, and has had no copy editing. Also, both the princess and I are aware that this is a serious and rapidly developing crisis. 

I would like to thank health care workers, first responders, and everyone else out there working to keep us healthy, safe, and fed right now.  If you’d like to help people who are in need during this crisis, I suggest supporting your local food bank. Find one here.

And if you like to read, please support your local indie bookstore (many of whom will deliver books to your home during this crazy time) by ordering them here at BookStoreLink.

I hope you enjoy this fifth FREE installment of The Princess Diaries – Quarantine Edition.

Corona Princess Diaries Day 5

– Royal Bedroom –


Lilly is here!


She is currently spending floor time with the twins (which Dr. Khan says they need a lot of since they currently can only see their father on a screen or from a balcony), teaching them that a cow says moo.


I don’t want to brag, but my children already know that a cow says moo. My children know how to open my purse, take out my phone, and order pizza.


This is what I get for having babies with a genius.


But even though they’re in their terrible twos, Elizabeth and Frank love their auntie Lilly, and are tolerantly mooing back at her every time she waves the cow puppets she’s brought them. But inside, I’m sure they’re secretly plotting how to steal her phone.


“I still don’t understand what you’re doing here, Lilly,” I said.


“My brother is in quarantine and you, my sister-in-law, BFF, and the Princess of Genovia, are being sued.” Lilly made one of the cow puppets nibble at Elizabeth’s nose, which she tolerated, but you could tell it was only because she expected there might be pizza on the horizon. “How was I supposed to stay away?”


“I’m being sued?”


“Didn’t they tell you? God, I can’t believe how they try to protect you from things you really ought to know.” Lilly took her phone out – both twins alerted on it like border collies on a flock of sheep – pressed something, and handed it to me. “You’re being sued by your cousin Ivan and various other local Genovian business owners for depriving them of their right to earn an income.”




But it was true. An article on – a website I make it a point never to visit . . . anymore – listed all the ways in which I was despised by many of my own people, merely for being community-minded and trying to protect them from a deadly virus.


I couldn’t help saying a word that really oughtn’t be said in the hearing of children – at least not in front of a couple of two year olds who delight in repeating everything they hear.


“S—!” Elizabeth and Frank cried, excitedly. “S—, s—, s—, s—, s—, s—, s—, s—!”


“Jesus Christ,” Lilly said, staring at her niece and nephew in alarm. “When did they start doing that?”


“Since they learned how to talk.” To the twins, I said, “Hey, you two. Want some pizza?”


Their faces alight with joy, they cried, “Pizza! Pizza, pizza, pizza!”


“Oh, God,” Lilly said, even more alarmed. “That is frightening.”


“Go ask your Grandpere,” I said to the twins. “Grandpere would love to buy you some pizza.” I knew Dad would love to do no such thing, but he needed all the distractions he could get in order to move past his disappointment about the Grand Prix. Besides, he and Mom are besotted with the twins, and Mom in particular lets them walk all over her.


“Yay, pizzaaaaaaa,” cried the twins as they tumbled over one another in their haste to go find my mother and father.


“They’re more adorable than ever,” Lilly said after they were gone, although she didn’t sound like she really believed it.


“No, they’re little demons. But they’re my little demons, and my reason for existing. Except for your brother, of course.”


Lilly made the requisite gagging noises all sisters must make upon hearing their brother’s praises sung by his spouse, then held her hand out for her phone, which I gave back to her.


“Anyway, I came as soon as I could,” Lilly said. “Clearly you’re going to need a vigorous defense against these people, and I’m here to provide it.”


Lilly has passed the bar in numerous US states and of course here in Genovia, as well. It isn’t surprising to me that she pursued a career in litigation considering how much she’s always enjoyed arguing with people. Now she does it for money.


Me: “How did you even get into the country? I thought I’d closed all the borders.”


Lilly (smiling a secret smile): “I happen to have an in with the Genovian Royal Guard.”


I made my own gagging noises. Lilly and my bodyguard Lars have a friends-with-benefits thing going on that I try very hard to ignore.


“I honestly don’t think your services are going to be necessary,” I said, quickly changing the subject and pouring us both generous servings of wine. It’s much easier to access full bottles now that I’ve had a mini-fridge installed in my walk-in closet. What Michael will say about this when he gets out of self-isolation, I can only imagine. “Cousin Ivan will be dropping his lawsuit soon enough.”


“Oh, yeah?” Lilly took a big swig. “What makes you think so?”


“Because he was caught with one of his bars open the other night,” I explained.


“He what?”


“Oh, yes. He had all the window shades down and was only letting people in if they knew the secret password, but he posted the password online, so it wasn’t that much of a secret. A devoted patriot dropped a dime on him, and the cops shut the whole thing down in about half an hour.” I was actually a little proud of Ivan, since he’d clearly been shamed into the idea by what I’d said to him the other day. “He tried to tell the cops that it was a benefit to raise money for his employees. But even so, we couldn’t allow it, since every other bar is obeying the order to cease business. So the police closed him down.”


“Wow,” Lilly said, gulping more wine.  “So what makes you think he’ll drop his lawsuit against you?”


“Because if he doesn’t, I’ll go public with the fact that he endangered public health. And then he’ll be kicked out of the Genovian Restaurant and Hotel Association. And he wouldn’t want that. It’s one of the oldest and most powerful leadership groups in Genovia.”


Lilly leaned forward to clink my glass with hers. “Well-played, Your Royal Highness.”


“Thank you. Like I told the Prime Minister,” I said, clinking back, “now is the time to be the sheriff from Jaws, not the mayor.”


“So true,” Lilly said, settling back into her chair. “Well, looks like I came all this way for nothing. I wonder what I’ll do now.” Her gaze strayed towards my bedroom door, outside of which Lars was prowling around somewhere, probably playing indoor soccer with Rocky.


I restrained an urge to vomit. “I’m sure you’ll think of someone. I mean something.”


Oh, no. The Prime Minister is calling. What could possibly have gone wrong now?”


Look for more of THE CORONA PRINCESS DIARIES tomorrow!

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Fall Book Tour!

By meggin,

I can’t believe how fast the summer went by! I went to the beach one time, and then it was over.

Now it’s Fall, and I have not one but TWO books coming out (first my adult book, No Judgments, and then in November my middle grade graphic novel with DC Comics, Black Canary Ignite).

Then I have another book due–the next installment of the Little Bridge series after No Judgments (cover and title a secret for now)!

So I’m not busy AT ALL or doing any stress eating or staying up way too late watching crazy thrillers on Lifetime (five royal crowns to Mommy’s Little Princess).

You probably won’t be surprised to know that there’s a lot of other stuff going on that I’m not allowed to talk about, and that’s stressful, too, but in a good way.

Mainly I can’t wait to get on the road to talk about No Judgments, which Kirkus is calling “a fun, fast, and romantic read,” called “a total delight” and named one of their Best Books of the Fall, and Booklist says is “equal parts sweet and steamy.” (I’m blushing! For even more embarrassing but very welcome praise about the book, click here and scroll down.)

I’m so thankful for everyone’s support of this book–the story really is personal to me, since it’s inspired by a real life experience (when my husband and friends and I failed to evacuate for Hurricane Irma–hey, no judgments!), then met an amazingly brave young women who helped save dozens of pets who’d been left behind in our area by their owners. Much of the story is fiction, of course, but quite a lot of it, especially the parts about the storm and the animals, is cold hard fact (but it still has an HEA)!

Here are the venues I’m going to be talking about the book at the end of September (more will be added soon as I begin touring for Black Canary). Some of these venus might require tickets, so if they are in your neighborhood, PLEASE click on the links and/or contact the venue to make sure there isn’t anything special you have to do have to get a nice comfy seat (I don’t go anywhere anymore unless I’m assured a nice comfy seat, which might be why I don’t go to the beach more often).


Tuesday, September 24, 2019
8:00 PM
265 Aragon AVE
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
7:00 PM
14532 Memorial
Houston, TX 77079

Sunday, September 29, 2019
2:00 PM
Parma-Snow Branch
2121 Snow Road
Parma, OH 44134

Tuesday, October 01, 2019
7:00 PM
325 Michigan ST
Toledo, OH 43604

Sunday, October 6, 2019
11:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.
Panel: Raising Super Readers: Inside DC’s Middle Grade Graphic Novels
Room 1A24
The Javitz Center

Thursday, October 10, 2019
7:00 PM
150 E 86th St
New York, NY 10028

Saturday, October 12, 2019
Morristown, NJ 07960

Monday, November 4, 2019
6:00 PM
533 Eaton Street
Key West, FL 33040

Saturday, November 09, 2019
140 7th Avenue S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

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Princess Diaries Rumor Control

By meggin,

So some rumors have been going around about a possible Third Unauthorized Bio Pic of Princess Mia’s Life (aka third Princess Diaries movie).
“Is this really happening?” people like the Dowager Princess of Genovia keep asking me.
As Princess Mia’s royal biographer, all I’m permitted to say is that a script has been written, the cast seems willing, and so does Disney and Debra Martin Chase, the same producer who spear-headed the first two films.
But so many factors need to come together in order for a movie to get made!  Especially one set in Genovia, which as you know has some of the strictest film permitting laws of any nation in the world.
So if you’re a fan of the Princess Diaries films and would like to see a 3rd, keep your fingers crossed: Miracles happen!
But if you’re Princess Mia Thermopolis, who does NOT want tales from her personal life (however erroneously) being splashed all over the big screen, well, there’s hope for you, too.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to stay out of the whole thing by working on other projects. These will be coming soon. If you’re interested in those, they include:
May 28, 2019 
Physical trainer Roberta “Rob” James moved to Little Bridge Island hoping she’d found paradise, but things haven’t turned out quite as she’d hoped…until sheriff’s deputy Ryan Martinez accidentally enrolls in her bridal boot camp class. Bridal Boot Camp is an e-novella for adult readers. There is sex in it. Pre-order it now
September 24, 2019
When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island, twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . until her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, shows up to offer a helping hand. No Judgments is a stand-alone novel for adult readers, as there is sex in it. Pre-order No Judgements now
October 2019
As her school’s Battle of the Bands approaches, will middle schooler Dinah Lance finally find her true voice? Black Canary Ignite is a graphic novel for readers 6 and up–there is no sex or even kissing in it. Pre-order Black Canary Ignite now
I really think that is enough for now, except to let you know that, barring any unforeseen Genovian coup attempts, I’ll be touring for the projects above, but I don’t have a full schedule yet. I know I’ll be at BEA and also Book.con in New York City at the end of May, and also at RWA in New York in July. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there. Royal wave until then!
More later.
Much love,

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Summer Events

By meggin,

Well, summer is here which means that SUMMER BOOK FESTIVAL/CONFERENCE SEASON IS HERE!

I’m lucky enough to have been asked to attend the American Library Association Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans this week (where the guest of honor is Michelle Obama. I’m dying – DYING – of excitement).

Oh, but wait. What will I be promoting at #alaac18? Um, only my new graphic novel from DC Zoom, Black Canary: Ignite!
Black Canary: Ignite won’t be out until October 2019, but this week at #alaac18 we’ll be handing out some cool free sample excerpts of the first chapter! I’ll also be on some panels with a few of the very fun authors for DC Zoom (middle grade) and DC Ink (young adult). Here’s where you can see me and/or maybe get a sampler (unfortunately these events are open only to registered attendees of #alaac18):

Friday, June 22, 2018 – ALA NEW ORLEANS #alaac18

Penguin Random House Library Con panel – Nurturing Empowerment and Confidence!
Time: 1:15pm-2:00pm
Place: Room 348 and 349
Ernest M Morial Convention Center
Moderated by Robin Brenner
With Shea Fontana, Lauren Miracle, Karen Berger, Shelly Bond

Penguin Random House Librarian Reception + DC Ink and DC Zoom Signing
Time: 8:00pm-10:00pm
Place: The National WWII Museum
945 Magazine St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Saturday, JUNE 23, 2018 – ALA NEW ORLEANS #alaac18

DC Zoom Signing
Time: 12:30pm-1:30pm
Place: DC Booth #2040
Ernest M Morial Convention Center
With Shea Fontana and Ridley Pearson

Graphic Novel Panel: DC Zoom and DC Ink authors discuss their upcoming original graphic novels for DC Comics:
Time: 2:30pm-3:20pm
Place: Graphic Novels stage–next to booth #436
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Moderated by Michele Wells
With Shea Fontana, Ridley Pearson, Meg Cabot, Danielle Paige, Kami Garcia, Lauren Myracle, Mariko Tamaki

POP TOP EVENT: Cultural Icons in the Libary!
DC Zoom and DC Ink authors discuss their upcoming original graphic novels for DC Comics
Time: 4:00pm – 4:45pm
Place: PopTop Stage–next to booth #432
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Moderated by Michele Wells
With Shea Fontana, Ridley Pearson, Meg Cabot, Danielle Paige, Kami Garcia, Lauren Myracle, Mariko Tamaki

Wow, that is a crazy schedule! Especially since I’m used to doing nothing but sitting around writing all day (although this summer I signed up for Boot Camp at my gym so I’ve actually been working out a lot which has been good for stamina, but bad for my goal of avoiding sweating).

I know that some of you are bummed that none of the events above are open to the public. But never fear because in July, when I’m in Denver, CO for the Romance Writers of America convention, I’ll have TWO public signings in TWO days! I hope some of you can attend one or both!


Denver, CO

Friday, July 20

Romance and Rosé Book Party

Time: 6:30-8:30PM MT

Location: The Tattered Cover

2526 East Colfax Avenue

Ticket details to come



Saturday, July 21

“Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing

Time: 3:00-5:00PM MT

Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel

  • This event is open to the public and is free of charge to attend.

  • You do not need to register in advance to attend this event as a fan.

  • Since this is a fundraiser event for literacy organizations, attendees will not be allowed to bring books from home into the event. Unlimited books may be purchased on site, however. Cash and major credit cards accepted.


I think I’ve also mentioned that in addition to Black Canary, I’ve been working on some contemporary women’s fiction/suspense/romance. I don’t really want to say anything more about that yet though because I always feel like if I talk too much about a project before I’m done working on it, I’ll put a curse on it, and it will never get done. THIS IS A REAL THING that I’m positive must happen to other creative people besides me!

Don’t forget that in August, the 4th book in the Princess Olivia, Notebooks of a Middle School Princess series will become available! Look for Royal Crown in stores (and online) everywhere on August 7. I’ll have more details on events for this book soon!

In the meantime, enjoy your summer, and I hope I see some of you in New Orleans and Denver!

More later.

Much love,


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The Cone Life

By meggin,

Wow. From my book tour for Royal Crush to a hurricane to getting ready for NY Comic Con, where I’ll be participating in a panel on a certain Star Wars book that’s coming out next week, things have been cRaZy.

But things have finally settled down enough for me to update this blog (plus, I actually have Internet access for the first time in a while).

Thanks to all of you who were posting thoughts and prayers for me during Irma!  I didn’t see any of them until a few days ago, since I didn’t have Internet.

I have to admit I was surprised!  I had no idea that the media was calling the hurricane in Key West a “non-survivable event.”

It’s weird to have survived something “non-survivable” (I’m going to guess we survived due to Florida’s very strict zoning and building codes, about which we used to complain every day. Not anymore!).

I will admit my backyard went overnight from looking like this….

To this:

But, like 98% of Key West, it will be fine after some clean up.

Most of the hurricane damage that occurred in Key West was tree-related.

(In case you can’t read the above, it’s the marquee on Key West’s famous indie cinema, The Tropic — already open for business — which says: Key West Lite – Same Great Place, Less Trees)

Homes and businesses in Key West have had power, water, cell phone service, and Internet restored, and the town is up and running.

But many places up the Keys – like Big Pine and Cudjoe –  are still without electricity and running water, and many people there have lost their homes. So, while they survived a non-survivable event, they still need a lot of help.

A lot of people have asked why I stayed for the storm instead of evacuating.  Honestly, it just felt right to me to stay . . . even though staying in a place you’ve been told to evacuate is a REALLY BAD IDEA. DO NOT DO IT. I was very, very lucky.

That being said, a large group of my friends/neighbors were also staying (mostly because they have family/pets in the area that couldn’t leave, or businesses to run, or whatever). Like me, they had been through hurricanes before, did not have kids, had generators, and felt confident they and their homes could survive “non-survivable” Irma (which we didn’t know was non-survivable).

And . . . we did!

But this was still a bad, bad idea.

Although . . .  not to say anything mean about weather forecasters, since I know they do their best, the storm was supposed to come on Saturday, and on the Sunday before, this was my local weather report:


Scary right? I mean, I was totally going to leave.

Then, Monday, the very next day, this was the report:

Oh, okay. So Sunday, it is coming right at us, and Monday, we are halfway out of the cone?

Why go to all the trouble of evacuating, right?

To me, the best solution seemed to be: Board up the house, move in the deck furniture, buy supplies, and wait it out (also, despite what people might be picturing, I live nowhere near the beach. I am a pool girl.  So storm surge was never a worry).

Then on Wednesday . . .


The airport closed, there was no more gas, and the hospital shut its doors!

So we began living what we call

The Cone Life

Photo taken Thursday at Higgs Beach, Key West, day before the Irma

A lot of the time when there’s a hurricane somewhere, you hear people safely outside The Cone watching those on TV struggling to survive inside it say scornfully: “Gosh, why didn’t those dumb people just evacuate?”

Obviously, they should have. But here are some reasons why:

  1. Because they have elderly parents or special needs children or sick pets who can’t be moved.
  2. Because they have a business that might need to open rapidly after the storm (such as: insurance) and needs looking after.
  3. Because the storm intensified so rapidly, they didn’t have time to get out.
  4. Because the airport is closed.
  5. Because there is no gas.
  6. Because the entire state is in the Cone of Uncertainty so there is nowhere safe to go unless they drive 500 miles and they can’t do that on one tank of gas so it is safer to stay where they are.
  7. Because the last time they evacuated, they got trapped in their car and there was no one to help and they nearly drowned.
  8. Because they have been through storms before and everything was more or less fine.
  9. Because there is one last totally excellent party to go to (this is a terrible reason. Who wrote this? Oh, me, never mind.)
  10. Because the last time they evacuated their home/business was looted*

*Sadly, I know people to whom this actually happened.

Honestly, we shouldn’t judge. People lead complicated lives about which we know nothing, and most of us are doing the best we can, and not trying to cause trouble for everyone else. NO ONE I knew who didn’t evacuate ended up needing to be rescued by first responders.

But I will say that on that list, number 3 — rapid intensification — has become a habit of hurricanes this year, and one reason these storms have caused so much damage compared to other years:

Harvey:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 24 hours
Irma:  Cat 3 to Cat 5 in 24 hours
Jose:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 24 hours
Maria:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 12 hours, and Cat 1 to Cat 5 in 15 hours*

*Data from Weather Undergound

Of the people I know who evacuated from Key West, many of them were hit by Irma in the places they thought would be safe! Naples, Tampa, and Orlando were all places evacuees from the Keys were urged to go, and all got hit by Irma.

What made evacuating even worse than staying for these people was that then they couldn’t return to their own home after the storm was over:  the roads in the Keys were impassable for days, and aside from that, there was still no gas!

Nor could these people call or text anyone in Key West to see if their home was okay, because there was no cell service, Internet, or electricity.*

*I actually had power–but no Internet–because we have a generator, and since 9/11 I have always kept a landline, because that is the only thing that worked during 9/11. It worked during Irma, too.

Praise be to the landline. Never bundle. Amen.

Many, many people used my landline to let people outside The Cone know that they were all right. It was also used by evacuees calling in to ask about the condition of their homes and, in some cases, people and pets they’d left behind.


We went on many important recon missions, checking on people’s homes and loved ones.

I hope you never have to experience Cone Life, but since scientists assure us that both the temperatures of the earth and its waters are rising, there is a possibility you might.

Therefore I’m going to make a short list of everyday things you might want to keep handy in case The Day After Tomorrow comes, and you slip into The Cone.

A landline

Don’t bundle it to your other services, like cable or your Internet or cell, because if they go down, it will, too. Your landline is connected to the phone company, not the power company, by copper wires buried underground. It should work without electricity, unless your phone company also goes down, which is unlikely, as it usually has a generator.

Batteries and Simple tools

Obviously, you need batteries to power your radio and flashlights. Even if you have a generator (which I highly recommend, but you don’t NEED one), you need flashlights in case the generator doesn’t work.

Also, your generator need only power the areas of your house you use (lights, refrigerator, AC in one or two rooms), not your entire home. So you need flashlights to see in the un-powered areas.

You need a radio to listen to local news since there might be no Internet or cable.

Never use candles during a power outage. Many deaths during hurricanes are caused by fire.  911 will not respond to emergencies during the storm. That is why you were told to evacuate!

If you have a generator, do not use it INSIDE your house. 8 of the people who died during Irma died of carbon monoxide poisoning from using their generator inside their house.

You need a few simple tools to put shutters up over your windows, such as a hammer, a wrench, and pliers.

First aid kit

You need a first aid kit because you will probably injure yourself using the tools, since you are a crazy writer. 😉

Also, there will be sharp things on the ground after the storm. People will step on them and need first aid after coming to your house to use the landline, and the hospital won’t be open right away. Alcohol, band-aids, and some antibacterial spray/ointment will work. Remember, YOU are 911 now!

Buckets and towels

It doesn’t matter how new or old your house is, during a hurricane, some part of it will leak.

A towel at the bottom of the bucket will keep you from going insane at the sound of the “drip…drip…drip” during the storm.


It is important to have a large stash of bottled water in the house during a storm. We had even more than pictured above. Ignore the beer, that was not mine.

After the hurricane, your town’s water supply may be compromised (ours was) for a little while, so you will have to drink bottled water. And you will long for ice like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway. Ice becomes rarer than diamonds after a storm!

Fortunately, we got some ice from a local Key West restaurant, The Brewery. How I love you, The Brewery! Key West restaurants were fantastic about donating food and drink before and after the storm. Shout outs to The Brewery, Baby’s CoffeeDantes, Azur, B.O.’s Fish Wagon, Kermit’s, Eaton Street Fish Market, and probably many more I’m forgetting, who really saved the day for many Keys residents by giving food away FOR FREE to those in need.

Which reminds me:


Don’t forget to stock up on non-perishable food items!!! Probably more high-protein food than this, but you may not feel like eating anything except stuff like this anyway.

I also recommend your neighbor’s cooking! Getting together with neighbors during storms to clean out your fridge and eat all their yummy perishables is the best part of storms. I’m fortunate that one of my neighbors is the Key West Spice man! Get some today, and support Key West! (I like the Southernmost Blend ground fine and sprinkled on popcorn.)


Don’t forget your pets! Make sure you stock up on plenty of food and water for them, too! Obviously, Allie is pictured here with my secret stash of food, not hers. She had plenty of her own, though, along with medication in case of emergencies.

Tornado Bed

Tornadoes are a real possibility during hurricanes, so it’s best to camp out during the worst of the storm in a ground level room of your house, the one that has the least windows (and in which I also happened to have moved all of my outdoor furniture).

Your pets will enjoy this fun adventure and so will you!


After the storm is over, the hardest part of Cone Life begins:

Is this my beautiful house? – The Talking Heads

After the storm, when everyone comes outside, blinking and shell-shocked, it’s easy to let depression and despair sink in, especially if your home/town has suffered significant damage, or even if you just listen to the news. Words like “devastation” and “disaster” get mentioned a lot by journalists and even our political leaders.

And as we now know, we weren’t even supposed to survive this event!

“It will take YEARS to get back to normal . . . if ever!” said someone official in Key West.

No one wants to hear things like that . . . especially since it isn’t true. Human beings are amazingly resourceful and resilient, especially when we work together.

What IS true, however, though most people don’t know it, is that the majority of injuries occur just after storms, during cleanup, from stepping on downed power lines, hidden nails, attempting to cross storm surge, being hit by fallen trees, getting infected bug bites, dehydration, and things like that.

So this is the time when Cone Life is riskiest, and also the most depressing.

But it doesn’t have to be!

We Can Do It!

Because if no one listens to the forecasts of doom and gloom, and everyone works together (while staying hydrated), it won’t be years before their town is cleaned up . . . .

To The Rescue!!!

. . . but weeks or in some cases even days!

By keeping a positive attitude (and employing a little hard labor), people can do anything. I’ve seen it time and time again.

Above is a photo of St. Mary in the Grotto at St. Mary Star of the Sea church in Key West, where many people go to pray before hurricanes. It’s said that as long as the grotto is standing, a hurricane will never destroy our little island . . . and so far, one never has.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, especially up the Keys, but Key West is open again for business. I’m off to New York for a signing at Comic Con next week, where I’ll also tell everyone I can to COME TO KEY WEST FOR THEIR NEXT VACATION. You’ll find me taking part in the

From a Certain Point of View NYCC Panel on Saturday, 10/7; 11:00am-12:30pm

Location: Hudson Mercantile Building

For tickets, click here
PLEASE NOTE: A ticket to New York Comic Con is not required in order to attend this event

The book goes on sale everywhere October 3!

If you’re interested in helping victims of ALL the terrible hurricanes we’ve had lately, including Puerto Rico, donate to One American Appeal. This is the organization put together by our past presidents, or as I like to think of them, The X-Presidents, although this image below needs to be updated to reflect them all:

Remember, we’re all in this together . . . and together, we’ll get through it!

More later.

Much love,








  Filed under: Meg's Diary, Uncategorized
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September 11, 2001

By janey,

This year is the sixteenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93.

Every year, in remembrance, I post this essay about my experience living in Manhattan a few dozen blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11.  I think it’s important we don’t allow the brave acts that so many men and women performed that day to be forgotten.

So if you have a few extra minutes in your day, please read on. And if you think what you read was important, please share it with a friend.

Meg’s 9/11 Diary

9/11/01 started out as one of those super nice fall days where the sky was cloudlessly blue and it was just warm enough, but not hot. My LA friends call that “earthquake weather.”

So we probably should have known something awful was going to happen, but most of us didn’t.

My husband had woken up early to go jogging before leaving for work at his job as a financial writer at One Liberty Plaza, which was across the street from the World Trade Center.

He has never been jogging again.

Not being a morning person, I was still asleep in my apartment on 12th Street and 4th Avenue, a few dozen blocks from the Trade Center, when the first plane hit. Our windows were closed and the air conditioning was on. I didn’t hear a thing until my friend Jen called.

Jen: “Look out your window.”

That is when I saw the smoke for the first time.

Me: “What’s happening?”

Jen: “They’re saying a plane hit the Trade Center.”

Me: “But how could the pilot not see it?”

Jen: “I don’t know. Isn’t that near where your husband works?”

It was. I couldn’t see his building from our apartment, but I could see the World Trade Center. The black smoke billowing from it had to be going right into my husband’s busy investment office on the 60th or so floor.

“I better call him to see if he’s okay,” I said, and hung up to do so.

There was no answer at my husband’s office, however, which was crazy, because over a hundred people worked there.

Were they all right? I didn’t know. I couldn’t get through to anyone anywhere. I couldn’t make any outgoing calls from either of my phones that day. For some reason, people could call me, but I couldn’t call anyone else.

It turned out this was due to the massive volume of calls going on in my part of the city that day, both on cell and land lines.

But I didn’t know that then.

Sirens started up. It was the engine from the firehouse directly across the street from my apartment building. It was a very small firehouse, but it was always bustling with activity. All the young, handsome guys used to sit outside it on folding chairs on nice days like the one on 9/11, joshing with the neighbors who were walking their dogs, with my doormen, with the neighborhood kids. The old ladies on my street always brought them cookies.The firemen, in turn, always had treats for the old ladies’ dogs.

Now all the firemen from the station across from my apartment building were hurrying to the fire downtown, throwing on their gear and urgently blaring the horn on their truck.

Every last one of those young, brave boys would be dead in exactly one hour. Their truck would be crushed beyond recognition. That firehouse would sit empty and draped in black bunting for months. No one would be able to look at it without crying.

Of course none of us knew it then.

I turned on New York 1, the local news channel for New York City. Pat Kiernan, my favorite newscaster, was saying that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

Weird, I thought. Was the pilot drunk? How could someone not see a building that big, and run into it with a plane?

It was right then that Luz, my housekeeper, showed up. I’d forgotten it was Tuesday, the day she comes to clean. When she saw what I was watching, she looked worried.

“I just dropped my son off at his college,” she said. “It’s right next to the World Trade Center.”

“My husband works across the street from the World Trade Center,” I said.

“Is he all right?” Luz wanted to know. “What’s happening down there?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I can’t reach him.”

Luz tried to call her son on his cell phone. She, too, could not get through.

We didn’t know then that our cell servers used towers that were located on top of the World Trade Center, and they all had stopped working due to the intensity of the flames shooting up the building.

We both stood there staring at the TV, not really knowing what to do. It was as we were watching that something weird happened on the TV, right before our eyes:

The OTHER tower at the World Trade Center — the one that hadn’t been hit — suddenly exploded.

I thought maybe one of the helicopters that was filming the disaster had gotten too close.

But Luz said, “No. A plane hit it. I saw it. That was a plane.”

I hadn’t seen a plane. I said, “No. How could that be? There can’t be TWO drunk pilots.”

“You don’t understand,” Luz said. “They’re doing this on purpose.”

“No,” I said. “Of course they aren’t. Who would do that?”

That’s when Pat Kiernan, on the TV, said, “Oh, my God.”

It’s weird to hear a newscaster say, “Oh, my God.” Especially Pat. He is always very professional.

Also, Pat’s voice cracked when he said it. Like he was about to cry.

But newscasters don’t cry.

“Another plane has hit the World Trade Center,” Pat said. “It looks as if another plane — a commercial jet — has hit the World Trade Center. And we are getting reports that a plane has just hit the Pentagon.”

That’s when I grabbed Luz. And Luz grabbed me. We both started to cry. We sat on the couch in my living room, hugging each other, and crying as we watched what was happening on TV, which was what was happening a dozen blocks from where we sat, where both the people we loved were.

We could see things flying out of the burning buildings. Pat said that those things were people. People were choosing to jump from their offices in the World Trade Center rather than burn to death. They couldn’t escape the flames, and rescuers couldn’t reach them.

But their offices were sixty to ninety floors from the ground. Some of them were holding hands with their colleagues as they jumped. Many of them were women. You could tell by the way their skirts ballooned out behind them as they raced towards the pavement below.

Luz and I sobbed. We didn’t want to watch, but we couldn’t stop. This was happening in our city, just down the street, to people we saw every day. Who would do this? Who would do something like this to New Yorkers?

That’s when my phone rang. I grabbed it, but it wasn’t my husband. It was his mother. Where was he? she wanted to know. Was he all right?

I said I didn’t know. I said I was trying to keep the line clear, in case he called. She said she understood but to call her as soon as I heard anything, and hung up.

Then the phone rang again. It was my husband’s sister-in-law. Then it rang again. It was MY mother.

The phone rang all morning. It was never my husband. It was always family or friends, wondering if he was all right.

“I don’t know,” I kept telling them. “I don’t know.”

Luz went up to the roof of my building to see if she could see anything more from there than what they were showing on New York 1. While she was gone, I went into my bedroom to get dressed (I was still wearing my pajamas).

All I could think, as I looked into my closet, trying to figure out what to wear, was that my husband was probably dead. I didn’t see how anybody could be down in that part of Manhattan and still be alive. All I could see were things falling —and people jumping — out of those buildings. Anyone on the streets down below would have to be killed by all of that. The jumping people couldn’t choose where they landed.

I remember exactly what I put on that day: olive green capris and a black T-shirt, with my black Steve Madden slides. I remember thinking, “This will be my Identifying My Dead Husband’s Body outfit. I will never, ever wear it again after this day.”

I knew this because when I worked at the dorm at NYU, we had quite a few students kill themselves, in various ways. Every time a body was discovered, it was so horrible. All the first responders involved in the discovery could never wear the same clothes we wore that day again, because of the memory.

Luz came back down from the roof, very excited. No, she hadn’t seen if the buildings in which my husband and her son were in were all right. But she’d seen thousands — THOUSANDS — of people coming down 4th Avenue, the busy street I lived on at the time. 4th Avenue is always heavily trafficked with honking cars, buses, taxis, bike messengers, and scooters.

Not today. Today all the cars and buses were gone, and the entire avenue was crowded with people.

“Walking,” Luz said. “They’re WALKING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.”

I ran to look out the window. Luz was right. Instead of the constant stream of cars I’d gotten used to seeing outside our living room window, I saw wall to wall people. They had taken over the street. They were coming from the Battery, where the Trade Center is located, shoulder to shoulder, ten deep in the middle of the road, like a parade or a rally. There were tens of thousands of them.

There were men in business suits, and some in khakis. There were women in skirts and dresses, walking barefoot or in shredded pantyhose, holding their shoes because their high heels hurt too much and they hadn’t had time to grab their commuter running shoes. I saw the ladies who worked in the manicure shop across the street from my building running outside with the flip flops they put on their customers’ feet when they’ve had a pedicure (the flip flops the staff always make sure they get back before you leave).

But today, the staff was giving the flip flops to the women who were barefoot. They were giving away the flip flops.

That’s when I got REALLY freaked out.

The manicurists weren’t the only ones trying to help. The men who worked in the deli on the corner were running outside with bottles of water to give to the hot, thirsty marchers. New York City deli owners, GIVING water away. Usually they charged $2.

It was like the world had turned upside down.

“They have to be in there,” Luz said, about her son and my husband, pointing to the crowd. “They’re walking with them, and that’s what’s taking them so long to get here.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said. But I wasn’t sure I shared her faith.

Then Luz ran downstairs to see if anyone in the crowd was coming from the same college her son went to, to ask if anyone might have seen him.

I was afraid to leave my apartment, though, because I thought my husband might try to call. Not knowing what else to do, I logged onto the computer. My email was still working, even if the phones weren’t. I emailed my husband: WHERE ARE YOU?

No reply.

A friend from Indiana had emailed to ask if there was anything she could do. At the time, the only thing I could think of was, Give blood.

My friend, and everyone she knew, gave blood that day. So many people gave blood that there were lines around the corner to give it.

After a month, a lot of that surplus blood had to be destroyed, because they didn’t have room to store it all. And there turned out to be no use for it, anyway. There were few survivors to give blood to.

My friend Jen, the one who’d woken me up, e’d me from her job at NYU. Fred (out of respect for their desire for anonymity, I have changed the names of some people in this piece), then one of Jen’s employees, and also a volunteer EMT, had jumped on his bike and headed downtown to see if there was anything he could do to help.

Jen herself was organizing a massive effort to set up shelter for students who didn’t live on campus, since the subways and commuter trains had stopped running, and the kids who commuted to school had no way of getting home that night. Jen was trying to arrange for cots to be set up in the gym for them.

She ended up staying in the city too that night. She had no way to get back to her house in Connecticut.

Another co-worker from NYU, my friend Jack, did manage to reach his spouse, who worked in the Trade Center, that day. Jack used to train the RAs. He would ask me to “interrupt” his training with a fake administrative temper tantrum — “Why are you in this room?” I would demand. “You never reserved it!”— and then he and I would “fight” about it, and then after I left Jack would ask the RAs what would have been a better way to handle the situation . . . and by the way, did any of them remember what I was wearing? After they’d tell him, he’d have me come back into the room, and point out that every single of them was wrong about what I’d had on. This was to show how unreliable witness testimony can be.

Jack’s wife had just walked eighty floors down one of the Towers to reach the ground safely since the elevators weren’t working due to the flames, only to realize the guys in her IT department were still up there, backing up data for the company. Once she reached the ground, and saw how bad things really were, she tried calling them to tell them to forget backing up and just COME DOWN, but of course she couldn’t get hold of them because no phones were working.

So she went back up to MAKE THEM come down, because who doesn’t love their IT guys?

“Why did you go back up?” Jack asked her, when he finally reached her. By that time she, along with the IT guys, had become trapped in the fire and smoke, and couldn’t make their way down again.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” she said.

Of course it did. She was married to Jack. Jack would have done the same thing. She told Jack to say good bye to their twins toddlers for her. That was the last time they spoke.

I can never think of this, or of Jack’s happy, cheerful greeting every time I saw him, or the stunned looks on the RAs faces when they realized we’d pulled one over on them, without wanting to cry. It seems so unfair that those twins have had to grow up not knowing their mother. And for what reason?

Another friend, a pilot who had access to air traffic control radar, e’d me to say all the planes in the U.S. were being grounded — that what had happened had been the result of highjackings. That it was a commercial jet that had hit the Pentagon, where my friend’s father-in-law worked (they eventually found him, safe and sound. He’d been stuck in traffic on his way to the Pentagon when the plane hit. Many people that day were rewarded for tardiness).

But another friend – a girl I’d worked with when I’d been a receptionist in my husband’s office, a girl whom I’d helped pick out a wedding dress, and who, since the big day, had quit her job to raise the four kids she’d had – wasn’t so lucky. She never saw her husband, who worked at the Trade Center, again.

Then, behind me, I heard Pat Kiernan on the TV say, “Oh, my God,” again.

And this time he really WAS crying. Because one of the towers was collapsing.

I watched, not believing my eyes. Since having moved to New York City in 1989, I had become accustomed to using the Twin Towers as my own personal compass point for the direction “South,” since they’re on the southern tip of the island, and visible from dozens of blocks away. Wherever you were in the maze of streets that made up the Village, all you had to do to orient yourself was find the Twin Towers, and you knew which direction to go.

(If you ever watched closely during the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” you can see the towers beneath the Washington Square arch in the scene where Sally drops Harry off when they first arrive in New York.)

And now one of those towers was coming down.

I don’t remember anything else about that moment except that, as I watched the TV in horror, the front door to my apartment opened, and, assuming it was Luz back from the street, I turned to tell her, “It’s falling down! It’s FALLING DOWN!”

Only it wasn’t Luz. It was my husband.

He said, “What’s falling down? Why are you crying?”


Because my husband, being my husband, had picked up his briefcase after the first plane hit and said, “Let’s go,” to everyone in his department, took the elevators downstairs, and insisted everyone start walking for our apartment, because it was the closest place to where they were that seemed unlikely to be hit by an airplane.

(He told me later he’d worried they were going to try for the Stock Exchange, or the federal buildings you always see on Law and Order, and so had made everyone take small side streets home around those buildings, which is why it took them so long to get there).

They had to dodge the bodies of the people who jumped from the burning towers because they couldn’t stand the heat anymore. They saw the desk chairs and PCs that had been blown out of the offices so high above littering the street like tickertape from a parade. They saw the second plane hit while they were on the street, and ducked into a cell phone store until the rubble from the explosion settled. A piece of plane, nearly twenty feet long, flew past them, and landed in a parking lot, just missing Trinity Church, one of the oldest churches in this country.

And they kept walking.

I don’t know what people normally do when someone they love, who they were convinced was dead, suddenly walks through the door. All I know is how I reacted: I flung my arms around him. And then I started yelling, “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME?”

“I tried, I couldn’t get through,” he said. “What’s falling down?”

Because they had no idea. All they knew was that the city was under attack (which they had surmised by all the airplanes).

So my husband and his colleagues gathered in our living room—hot, thirsty, but alive, the ones who lived in New Jersey wondering how (and if) they were going to get home. Eventually, that night, they managed to catch boat rides – see the film above.

Meanwhile, Luz, not wanting to go home until she’d heard from her son, who was supposed to meet her after class in my building, cleaned.

I told her not to, but she said it helped keep her mind off what was happening.

So she vacuumed, while eleven people sat in my two room apartment and watched the Twin Towers fall.

It wasn’t long after the second tower came down that our friends David and Susan from Indiana, who lived in a beautiful condo in the shadow of the Twin Towers with their two young children, showed up at our door, their kids and half the employees from their office (which was also in our neighborhood) behind them.

They had been some of the people shown on the news escaping from the massive dust cloud that erupted when the towers fell. They’d abandoned their daughter’s stroller and run for it, while shop owners tossed water on their backs as they passed by, to keep their clothes from catching on fire.

In their typical way, however, they had stopped on their way to our place to pick up some bagels.

For all they knew, their apartment was burning down, or being buried under ten feet of rubble. But they’d stopped for bagels, because they’d been worried people might be hungry. Or maybe people just do things in times like that to try to be normal. I don’t know. They didn’t forget the cream cheese, either.

I took the kids into my bedroom, where there was a second TV, because I didn’t think they should see what everyone was watching in the living room, which was footage of what they had just escaped from.

I set up my Playstation for Jake, who was seven or so at the time, to use, while Shai, just turning 4, and I did a puzzle on my floor. Both kids were worried about Mr. Fluff, their pet rabbit, whom they’d been forced to leave behind in their apartment, because there’d been no time to get him (their parents had run from work and grabbed both kids from school).

“Do you think he’s all right?” Jake wanted to know.

At the time, I didn’t see how anything south of Canal Street could be alive, but I told Jake I was sure Mr. Fluff was fine.

This was when Shai and I had the following conversation:

“Are planes going to fly into THIS building?” Shai wanted to know. She was crying as she looked out the windows of my thirteenth floor apartment.

Me: “No. No planes are going to fly into this building.”

Shai: “How do you know?”

Me: “Because all the planes are grounded. No more planes are allowed in the air.”

Shai: “Ever?”

Me: “No. Just until the bad guys who did this get caught.”

Shai: “Who’s going to catch the bad guys?”

Me: “The police will catch them.”

Shai: “No, they won’t. All the police are dead. I saw them going into the building that just fell down.”

Me (trying not to cry): “Shai. Not all the police are dead.”

Shai (crying harder): “Yes, they ARE. I SAW THEM.”

Me (showing Shai a picture from my family photo album of a policeman in his uniform): “Shai, this is my brother, Matt. He’s a policeman. And he’s not dead, I promise. And he, and other policemen like him, and probably even the Army, will catch the bad guys.”

Shai (no longer crying): “Okay.”

And she went back to her puzzle.

Watching from my living room window, we saw the crowds of people streaming out from what was soon to be called Ground Zero, thin to a trickle, then stop altogether. That was when 4th Avenue became crowded with vehicular traffic again. But not taxis or bike messengers.

Soon, our building was shaking from the wheels of hundreds of Humvees and Army trucks, as the National Guard moved in. The Village was blockaded from 14th Street down. You couldn’t come in or out of the neighborhood without showing proof that you lived there (a piece of mail with your name and address on it, along with a photo ID).

The next day, after having spent the night on our fold-out couch in the living room, Shai’s parents snuck back to their apartment (they had to sneak, because the National Guard wasn’t letting anyone at all, even with proof that they lived there, into the area. For weeks afterwards, on every corner from 14th Street down, stood a National Guardsman, armed with an assault rifle. For days, you couldn’t get milk, bread, or a newspaper below Union Square because they weren’t allowing any delivery trucks — or any vehicles at all, except Army vehicles — into the area), and found Mr. Fluff alive and well.

They snuck him back out, so that later that day, we were able to put the entire family on a bus to the Hamptons, where they lived for the rest of the year.

As my husband and I were walking back to our apartment from the bus stop where we’d seen off our friends, we saw a familiar face standing on the corner of 4th Avenue and 12th Street, where we lived:

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton, asking people in our neighborhood if we were all right, and if there was anything they could do to help.

I didn’t go up to shake the ex-President’s hand, because I was too shy.

But I stood there watching him and Chelsea, and something about seeing them, so genuinely concerned and kind (and not there for press or publicity, because there WAS no press, there was never any mention of their visit AT ALL in any newspaper or on any news broadcast I saw that day), made me burst into tears, after having held them in the whole time Shai had been in my apartment, since I didn’t want to upset her.

But you couldn’t NOT cry. It was impossible. Everyone was doing it …so much so that the deli across the street put a sign in its window: “No Crying, Please.” Our doormen were crying. Even Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s mayor (whom I will admit up until this crisis I had not particularly liked for cheating on his very nice wife, Donna Hanover, who used to be on the Food Network), kept crying.

But he also kept showing up on New York 1, no matter what time you turned it on, even at two in the morning, there he was, like he never slept, always crying but also telling us It’s going to be all right, which was BRILLIANT.

The same day we put Shai and her family on a bus to the Hamptons, September 12 — which also happened to be poor Shai’s birthday — companies (even RIVAL companies) all over Manhattan offered up their conference rooms and spare offices to all the businesses in the Trade Center and One Liberty Plaza that had lost theirs, including my husband’s company, so that they would be able to remain solvent, another act of kindness that never gets mentioned anywhere, but should.

Since he was the only person in the company who lived downtown, my husband was elected for the duty of removing all the sensitive data from their now mostly destroyed office, which meant he had to pass through the Brooks Brothers in his building’s foyer, from which he had bought so many of his business shirts and ties. The Brooks Brothers at One Liberty Plaza was now serving as Ground Zero’s morgue.

While under escort of the National Guard, he and guardsmen–the first to enter his floor since the event–found a body in an emergency stairwell. It was determined to be the body of someone from another office, who had probably suffered a heart attack while trying to evacuate One Liberty. The body was removed and taken to the morgue while my husband watched. (He threw away the clothes he wore that day.)

For the next week in Lower Manhattan, even if you wanted to forget, for a minute, what had happened on that cloudless Tuesday morning, you couldn’t. The front window of my apartment building filled with Missing Person posters of loved ones that had been lost in the Trade Center. The outside walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital were papered with them as well, and Union Square, at 14th Street, became an impromptu memorial to the dead, filled with candles and flowers. So did the front doors of every local fire station, including the one across the street from my building. The old ladies who used to bring cookies there stood in front of it and cried.

You couldn’t go outside during that week — until it finally rained Friday night, four days later – without smelling the acrid smoke from Ground Zero … and, in fact, you were encouraged to wear surgical masks outdoors. An eerie grey fog covered everything. Some of us tried to brave it by not wearing masks — like Londoners during the Blitz — meeting for lunch like nothing had happened, but the smoke made your eyes burn. I have no idea how the rescue workers at Ground Zero could bear it, and I’m not surprised so many of them now have respiratory diseases and cancer. I have no doubt that for some, the horrors of 9/11 will continue to be felt years from now.

It wasn’t until employees from a barbecue restaurant drove all the way to Manhattan from Memphis, and stationed their tanker-sized smokers right next to Ground Zero, and then started giving away free barbecue to all the rescue workers there for weeks on end, that the smell changed to something other than death. Everyone loved those guys. It was just barbecue.

Except it wasn’t just barbecue. It was a sign that, as the mayor kept assuring us, things were going to be all right.

But of course, for a lot of New Yorkers that day, things were never going to be all right again. While I was celebrating the fact that my husband had come home, Fred – Jen’s employee, the volunteer EMT who had ridden his bike downtown to see if there was anything he could do – couldn’t find his crew. This was before the buildings fell, before anyone had any idea those buildings COULD fall, when the police and firemen were still streaming into them, confident they could get people out.

The crew that Fred normally volunteered with were inside one of those buildings, helping people down the stairs. Fred couldn’t find them, because all the cell towers were down, and communication was so sketchy. Someone told Fred to drive a bus they’d found, to help evacuate people out of the World Trade Center area.

Fred didn’t want to be outside driving a bus. He wanted to be inside with his crew, saving people.

But since he couldn’t find his crew, he agreed to drive the bus.

Then the buildings came down. Later, Fred found out that the crew he normally volunteered with had been one of the many rescue squads buried under the rubble.

Like a lot of the rescue workers who lost coworkers in the attack, Fred seemed to feel guilty about having survived, while his friends had not. Even when all his NYU co-workers pitched in and bought him a new bike (after his old one got buried beneath rubble at Ground Zero), Fred couldn’t seem to shake his sadness. It was like he didn’t believe he’d done any good that day.

“All I did,” he said, “was drive a stupid bus.”

But that’s not all he did. Because remember Luz’s son?

Well, he showed up at my apartment not long after Jake and Shai and their parents did. Luz grabbed him and kissed him and shook him and cried, and when she finally let go of him, he told his story:

He had been heading towards — not away from – the towers, because he’d wanted to help, he said. A lot like Fred.

But suddenly, from out of nowhere, someone grabbed him from behind, and threw him onto a stupid bus.

“But I want to stay and help!” Luz’s son yelled at the guy who’d grabbed him.

“Not today,” Fred said.

And he drove Luz’s son, and all the other students from that community college to safety, just before the towers fell.

Fifteen years has passed since 9/11. A year or two after finding that body, and the company he worked for got back on its feet, my husband decided financial writing wasn’t for him. He decided to follow a lifelong dream: he enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. He got to work with chefs like Jacques Pepin. At his graduation, Michael Lamonaco–who ran Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the Twin Towers. Michael is another person who happened to be late to work on 9/11–offered my husband a job in his new restaurant.

My husband declined, however, because we were moving to Key West, where the pace of life is a little bit slower. Michael said he completely understood.

Luz and her family are doing fine. Fred is now married with two children, and head of his own division at NYU. Mr. Fluff did eventually die, but of natural causes. Jake is enrolled in law school, and Shai is now attending a college she loves. Shai’s mother says her daughter has no memory whatsoever of that day, or of the conversation she and I had, or of the promise I made her — that we’d catch the bad guys.

Shai, however, says she does remember our conversation, and that I was right: we did catch the bad guys.

Of course, now there are some new bad guys out there.

But the important thing is that we never forget . . . and that we all remember: we’re all in this together.

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