Lisa K. Friedman, Author

LKF's essays appear in the New York Times and The Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the author of the books Cruise to Retribution, and Nothing to Lose.

Lisa keeps her diplomas over her washing machine, Hershey's chocolate in her nightstand and eats ice cream out of the container with a fork. She is never without a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style because "you never know when you’re going to need to conjugate."

New in Huff Post

From the weekly humor column in Huffington Post

Living Powerless

The power is out. I can’t help but think: Now would be a good time for a Fig Newton. This may seem like a senseless nonsequitor, but really, it’s a philosophy. Fig Newtons are not like regular cookies. You can’t throw them into your mouth in haste; that would be worse than having too much peanut butter at the back of your throat. Fig Newtons are slow consumption cookies, enjoyed when one has an abundance of time. Thanks to the power outage, I have a lot of time.

The year we moved to this house, the electricity went out leaving the entire town dark for ten days. At first, it was fun. We propped all the doors of the house open. Neighbors collected in the street where the adults complained while the kids rode their bikes up and down the driveways. We emptied the freezer and consumed all the ice cream at once, eating straight out of the containers. At night, we showered under cold water and tried to fall asleep fast, while our skin was still wet.

It took a while to relax into powerless living. At the start, we wandered like zombies from The Walking Dead, aimless and without energy. What can we do without electricity?

My cousin got married during one long power outage. Three days before the wedding, the catering facility reported they had no electricity so the bride, my cousin, scrambled around to find a suitable, powered venue for her large wedding party. We ended up in a Fire and Rescue Station; the sliding fireman pole greeted guests at the entrance, gleaming like a lure. “What happens if there’s an alarm?” people around our table buzzed. My Aunt, a feisty seventy-something year old from Florida in a velvet pantsuit, turned to me and nodded with absolute determination. “If the alarm goes off,” she said, “I’m going down that pole!”

We bought a full emergency kit complete with transistor radio, fluorescent lanterns, a compass, an emergency siren and a mosquito repeller that we are unlikely to use unless of course our house is invaded by insects. So far, we’ve figured out how to use the radio, which is the only useful feature in the kit in my opinion. For a while my husband stalked around the front hall with the compass, intent on finding “true north,” but he gave up quickly. We have a Coleman propane lantern and headlamps that strap onto your head with what looks like a seatbelt. I was halfway convinced that buying all this gear would prevent another power outage altogether, banking on the “taking an umbrella on vacation” hypothesis but that didn’t work. Soon enough, we were in the dark, reading by headlamps like a bunch of studious miners.

I learned to upload my work to the cloud, whatever that is, and have yet to access any stored material despite assurances from techno-teenagers that the cloud is “intuitive and simple.” Instead, after each outage I retype whatever I think I may have lost, which is exactly what I was doing when the power resurged. I was on the couch with a miner’s hat strapped to my head, pounding away on the laptop that I’d charged in the car, when I heard the familiar “pop.” I knew better than to get excited.

Two hours have passed with the power surging: On, off. On, off. There is nothing I can do. I might as well have another Fig Newton.

(Source: http)

New In Huffington Post

Look at those bodies! The taut arms! The strong legs! In the water they undulated like dolphins; on deck, their muscles practically sparked. I tossed the last few Fritos into my mouth and said aloud: “I am going to become a swimmer.”


New in Huffington Post

Whoever coined the phrase “the empty nest” didn’t have real children. That’s my guess. Hypothetical children probably leave the nest and soar off to destinations unknown, returning only when they’re fully grown and about to procreate — like osprey who come back to the same nest each season to breed. Real children never fully leave. While in college, they use their childhood rooms as storage lockers complete with concierge service. “I need my graphing calculator! Can you look around? It’s in my room somewhere. Oh, and by the way. Can you also send my skiis?”

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(Source: The Huffington Post)

Focus on the Process.

I’m writing a piece about sex after 50 (humor, of course). There is plenty to say, and few say it better than Wanda Sykes. I saw her stand-up comedy show a few years back where she announced: “The older I get, the less I care.” What a motto. She said after 50 she longer had bad sex. If things weren’t going well, she’d offer a tap on the shoulder and end it. No excuses, no faking. I love that. I might even steal it for my piece.

And as it pertains to writing, the great writer Isabel Allende said “writing is like making love. Don’t worry about the orgasm, just concentrate on the process.”

Avoid, Avoid, Avoid.

To avoid writing, I move things.

I move furniture, changing my orientation so I’m facing the window or the door or the wall. Sometimes I move everything around and then move it all back. I often do this late at night. My son recalls the calming sound of furniture scraping against the floor as he slept in the room next door.

For a while, I’ve been content. My desk was at the right angle, I liked my view, my lighting, my seat. Much as I like my writing room, I can’t stay here.

The puppy Tiller does not like to be alone and I cannot bring him up to my writing room as it is too far from the door he is trained to use. The door has a bell hanging from the knob, and he has learned (already!) to ring the bell when he needs to go out. I don’t want to fuck that up. So I’ve moved my computer and some page of notes to a folding table in the kitchen, near the little belled door. He is, right now, asleep on my feet. I can feel it coming. I need to move things. I need to adjust my seat. The table isn’t high enough, I am facing the wrong direction, I am too close to the computer screen. I am used to these problems. I know what to do. But. There is an additional SURPRISE issue. I am in the kitchen. I can hear Oreo cookies in the cabinet scrunching around in the bag, excited yes they are by my new proximity. I have already visited with the Grape Nuts and reviewed the contents of the refrigerator. I know there is a blueberry yogurt in there waiting for me. Yogurt will wait. Cookies are much less patient. They will have to wait. I urgently need to move…

Taking a Break.

In taking a break from my own fiction writing, I read Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg. For me, this book is a sonnet that replenishes my creative heart.  

“All writing is…the Self escaping into the open.”  E.B. White

Of Dogs and (Semi) Men.

With both grown sons living home and a new puppy cordoned in the kitchen, my days are wrinkled with idleness and activity. I fly out of bed at the first whimper which is too often before dawn. All day, I monitor the dog’s digestive patterns and scrutinize his behavior. When he sleeps, I pace and wonder what to do with myself for the free fifteen minutes ahead. When he wakes I grab him up and run out to the area now called “your corner.” Go in your corner. Go in your corner. It’s absurd. 

Two grown boys eat like elephants on the savannah. I used to pick up a few fresh items every day; now I back my SUV into the COSTCO parking lot and load it like a flat-bed. There are adult children in my kitchen at all hours of the night. The television is pre-set to ESPN and the couch smells like testosterone. They are helpful and self sufficient, and yet I’m overwhelmed with their questions: Can you pick me up at the train station? What is a defined benefits plan? Are you, by chance, going to the grocery store today? 
Erma Bombeck said she’s always surprised when it’s time to eat and there is nothing on her plate. Now I know exactly what she meant.