Got Springsteen Tickets for DC? What did that cost you?

Since I first heard him sing at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD, I’ve been addicted to the music–and shows–of Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. I don’t think I’ve missed a show in the DC area since first seeing him on the Darkness tour in 1978 at the Capital Centre in Landover, and a few years later, for the original River tour, 1980, Cap Centre, while I was home from college. I’ve seen him at FedEx field, and the MCI Center, now Verizon, and at RFK for Born in the USA. I made it to Vote For Change shows, and the show at Nats Stadium. The last time I saw him, my father, sister and I drove to Raleigh, NC, to catch him at an arena near Durham.

It also happens that I have been writing about him in The Washington Post since 1992, when my first letter to the editor appeared in that paper.

Fuddy-duddyhood? At 30?!

Fuddy-duddyhood? At 30?!

That same year–in fact, just a few months later, I wrote another letter, this one bemoaning some writer’s statement and the genius of Bob Dylan would far outlast that of Bruce Springsteen. I begged to differ (and, in the process, really irritated my 23-year old brother, but hey, he didn’t know!).

Bruce in the History Books

Bruce in the History Books

I have written a few times about how hard it has become for an ordinary person with an ordinary computer to buy tickets. Once, it was about the 2007 Magic tour, and the Post ran my letter, bemoaning the seats members of Congress gobbled up and sold as fundraisers.

Seventh-Street Freeze-Out, But Congress Partied On

Seventh-Street Freeze-Out, But Congress Partied On

And the last time I couldn’t buy tickets (The 2010 Wrecking Ball tour) I wrote about it for the Post’s Local Opinions, suggesting that the bots and StubHubs of the world had taken over the joy of live rock shows. Oddly enough, this story became the basis for an article about an act–the BOSS Act–that was under consideration as a way to stop the bots. In 2012, something similar happened, and I appeared as a guest on the radio program, Culture Shocks with Barry Lynn to talk about the issue of being able to get concert tickets, and how the bots keep winning.

I try to think of why I love the man and the music so much, and can guess at many elements–my own 1970s adolescence and the recession, where we all seemed stuck forever in a moment of time. The voice and the music, full of muted sexuality and longing and love. I wrote about that show for a blog called The Light in Darkness. Even now, 46 years later (how did that happen?), I am transformed when I watch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform.

Great seats for 2014 show in Raleigh, NC

Great seats for 2014 show in Raleigh, NC

The truth is that a Springsteen show is about as close as I get to church anymore, standing in a packed arena, fists pumping and singing along with Bruce and the crowd. I am often there with my sister and my father, and I am always happy when the 73-year old jumps to his feet and belts  out “Born to Run” with the rest of us, house lights up, as if he, too, were 18 again. In fact, at 73, he is a cancer survivor, and I always hope to get in one more show with my Dad and my sister. Nothing can compare to that joy.

Dad knows every word

Anyone up for a trade? I can’t afford the $600 the scalpers are after, but I’ll pay face value, or trade you–I can draw a little work of art, featuring whatever it is YOU love most about Bruce Springsteen.

The time Springsteen goes on tour, how about skipping Ticketmaster altogether? I, for one, would be quite happy to camp out in the Verizon parking garage and wait for tickets to go on sale in person for my city’s shows. That, at least, would seem fair–not only to fans, but to the artists, who are also ripped-off by scalpers.

At 53, I’m quite adept at dancing in the dark, but man, living in the future ain’t what it used to be.

Key words: buying tickets for Springsteen, how to beat Stub Hub, camping out for tickets, child of the 1970s recession


How to Cope with the Cycle, Not Stages, of Grief

I was invited to write about grief for a popular website, so I have been thinking about it, and what I might write. So many have written and sung and drawn their experiences of grief and loss. What could I add to that canon?

I found myself thinking of something my friend Reuben mentioned so many years ago after his dad died–that the sight of a dapper older man walking down the street with a hat tipped a certain way could start his  grief all over again.

For me today, it is this blizzard. In February 1994, I was a single mom of three under the age of 5. My granny, who had bought the house next door to mine so that she could stay near to help with Conor, my first baby, had fallen and broken a hip.

That summer, my uncle had built a back step to the deck off my kitchen–low rise, long run– so that she could come straight across the yard and in the backdoor, bypassing the steep stairs out front.

When she came home to recuperate from the broken hip, my job was to get over in the morning, to check on her and get her set up for the day.  Alyson, my youngest daughter, was a month old, so I would strap her in a Snugglie under my maternity coat, and bundle up Conor and Meredith, ages 4 and 2, in snow clothes.

Someone would inevitably need to go potty the minute I had them all dressed. But eventually, we would tromp across the ice and snow to my Grandmother’s house. I would pray not to fall with the baby strapped on.

The deep snow today reminds me of that winter, and a year in which I lost my marriage and my grandmother. I was  thinking about how much I still miss her, and also how I did not know to appreciate her more. I expected her to live forever, even though I was old enough to know better.

When Conor was a newborn, I would get  irritated with my two grandmothers–who only ever loved and helped me–because they had so much advice for me about what to do with that colicky baby.

They wanted to hold him all the time, take him from me and urge me to rest, or shower, or work on a freelance job. My Grandmom Hourihan (Graom) would arrive every weekday morning around 8 to take him to the living room so that I could get some sleep. My Grandmom Lynch (Meme) would come every Tuesday and sit in a chair with me and sing The Tennessee Waltz.

Before our move to the exurbs, my mother, Mary, and my great aunt, Anna, who both worked nearby, would come by for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. I was lucky to be surrounded by their decades of experience, but too foolish to know it.

Now that I am a grandmother, too, I know it. I understand what my grannies were about, beyond helping me with adjust to motherhood.

Holding a baby is a brief touch on the future; the old know that our time for holding babies is limited, and that we will become invisible before we become nothing. I know that my times of holding babies is long gone, save the few times a week that my grandbaby allows me to carry her.

An artist friend died earlier this month–alone and unexpectedly at the age of 73. Luckily he was a writer, so I am able to hear his voice through his blog, Waterfall Road. A friend of his posted this from TJ’s blog, 2014:

I don’t believe this is the path of my enlightenment in one lifetime. I see it a cycle through this lifetime in self-awareness, saying in signs I’ve done well not to get side-tracked, passing through opportunities for distraction, indulging some and letting them go, returning to the flow, allowing the flow, trusting the flow that just keeps rolling along. 

More than ever, I feel myself in that flow, as TJ said. It will just keep flowing along, always forward, never back. How I wish I could flow back to 1994–not the bad times–so my grannies could once again give me their accumulated love and wisdom and heart. I would make a pot of coffee with plenty of cream, and we would admire my beautiful babies.

“Doll,” my Grandmom Hourihan would say, as I fretted over some milestone or misbehavior or worry, “Slow down. It’s over before you know it.”

Or as Iman posted  on Instagram about  David Bowie  dying, “sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”


Keywords: grieving process, grieving loss of relationship, grieving for celebrities, grieving process for friends

Bowie Tribute on The Health Care Blog

Thanks to the editors at for featuring my tribute to David Bowie and one of my favorite songs, Ground Control to Major Tom.  I’ve contributed to THCB in the past, but always about health policy. I’m glad to have found a kindred spirit there, who can appreciate that we do, in fact, mourn our icons and celebrities and public figures, who come to represent and even become a part of a time and space in our own lives.

I have since colored the image and hope others will find it mysterious, joyful, with a bit of longing for a time when life seemed that it truly might last forever.

Bowie in the stars

And just in case you’d like a clean copy of your own to color, feel free to try this version–but be sure to share what you come up with!

The stars look very different today

The stars look very different today

Waterfall Road: How I Missed It

For a few years now, I have enjoyed the friendship and encouragement of an artist/writer/dreamer, TJ Worthington, who lived on Waterfall Road in a place called Sparta. We met through Your Daily Creative Practice, a Facebook group founded and managed by visionary artist, Ruth Schowalter of Georgia. I enjoyed TJ’s blog, Waterfall Road, and his observations about life in the mountains of North Carolina, and the people and creatures he encountered there.

In my mind, one day, I was going to Carolina to meet him. But on January 4, 2016, TJ died unexpectedly, at home at least, and not in some ICU or ambulance. This poem is a dream of how our meeting might have gone. Perhaps one day, in the stars, it still will.

I often enjoyed his blogs, but his last one, posted Jan. 4, 2016, struck at my heart so.

So does one on the topic of regret, something I am trying to release from my own heart.

Though he lived in the rural mountains, his heart lived in the world. Here is one of his last works of art, called “34” which he posted with lines from the Tao-te-ching:



I will be there in Sparta on Jan. 23, to read a poem for TJ and to meet his many friends and hear their stories. And who knows, maybe we’ll dance, or play a tune, or sit in the quiet of the woods, and listen.


TJ Worthingon, death, memorial, art

How Becoming an Artist at 53 Helped Me to Grieve–and Find Joy

All my life, no matter where I was or what I was doing (including earning an undergraduate degree in mathematics), I thought of myself as a writer, mostly a poet, but one who would venture into other literary arts, from personal essays to short fiction. I played guitar, but did not consider myself to be a musician. And I knitted, but would hardly cLiam to be a fiber artist. In my personal and professional lives, I wrote: happy, sad, busy, engaged, exhausted or exhilarated, from the moment I could first spell my name, I wrote.

But when my 94-year old grandmother died last winter, I had no language but tears. The fact of her very long life, and its profound connection to mine, did not mitigate my grief. When I went to write about it, my usual way to cope with emotions, good and sad, I could not.

Instead, inspired by something I had observed among the visual artists in a creativity group I belong to on Facebook, I thought  I might try to draw. The artists had introduced me to something called Zentangles, so I went to Michael’s craft shop to buy pens and paper. While there I was drawn—of course—to the pens, which included a gorgeous collection of watercolor pens. I bought two packs.

I have since published a book, a tribute to the women who made me, entitled  What Are Mothers For? On sale now via Amazon at, it is a cheerful gift for any mother, or anyone who has ever mothered you.

Proceeds up to $500 will be donated to Reading Partners Baltimore
Learn more about this effective program and how it changes the lives of children and volunteers. The volunteers participate in schools throughout the city, working one-on-one with children ages 5-to-8 who struggle to read.

This post originally appeared on Architects of Change by Maria Shriver. For the complete story, click here.

I Came to Live in Color

I have spent so much of my life seeking to connect and be connected with others, that it rarely seemed worth the effort to connect to myself. I had so much invested in other relationships. And adulthood, with its usual joys, challenges, demands, losses and more, left little time to do much more than keep the trains running (or the house standing) as my husband and I raised our six children.

From "What Are Mothers For?"

From “What Are Mothers For?”

My longing to be connected is rooted in the oh-so-human need to love and be loved. For some of us, it takes a lifetime to understand that this means loving ourselves, too. And for most of my life, such connection has come through the roles I have played, first as a daughter and sister, and later as a lover, wife, mother, and grandmother. But most of all, as a writer.

From the moment I wrote my first sentence, I decided I was a writer. I have written ever since, moving from childhood limericks and lovelorn adolescence to a master’s degree in creative writing, and a career as a writer of essays, articles, and more. I have shelves full of journals that date from 1974, when I was 12.

– See more at:

What Are Mothers For?: Ready to purchase on Amazon!

If you have ever loved a child, been a beloved child, or remembered happy moments shared with adults you loved, What Are Mothers For? will speak to your heart. With whimsical drawings accompanied by simple text, the book shows and tells the story of my memories of my childhood–some inspired by my grandmothers, my mother, and my sisters. The book follows the life cycle, from when we first come from the stars, to when we have children of our own.

Thanks to the expert design and layout support of Min Enghauser of The Torpedo Factor, the book LOOKS fantastic–and I hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing and drawing it. Here is a short link:

And an early image: We arrive on a wing and a prayer:

on a wing and a prayer, 1

We have so much to learn and absorb, to do and become.

interior book spread

In the end, we create our own beauty, and the beautiful lives that follow us.

It would make a beautiful gift for the holidays, a new mom, a mom-to-be, a grandmother. Many women are mothers by virtue of birth and adoption, and many more by virtue of the love they give to children.  Please consider a copy, the first in a series about all kinds of people (and  maybe a few animals, too).

tags: mothers, motherhood, parenting, children, love, aging, giftbook, picturebook, Janice Lynch Schuster, What Are Mothers For?, growing up, learning,

New batches of cards

To brighten your day!

To brighten your day!

image image imageThought with the onset of fall, people would enjoy a few brilliantly colored images. These are sold, mix and match, with five for $15. I also do images on commission, from posters to thank you notes. Am working on a series for the holidays, too. Please take a look and let me know if you are interested!