How do we measure time during the COVID-19 pandemic, now that the activities that used to define our days have melted away, leaving us in a slosh of hours, trying to dam them up here, then there, to give some order to our lives?

We still mark time the old way: The date, the time on our cell phones, our watches. We remember birthdays and anniversaries, but with a distinct lack of celebratory flair.

Birthday party 1954 for a five-year-old girl with children around a table and a birthday cake with candles

No “social distancing” at my 5th bday party! I’m at back. Brother, Paul, right

My sequestered birthday

My birthday landed on March 23rd, near the beginning of Illinois’ “shelter-in-place” order. Bill and I bought a slice of streusel from our still-open local fine food store, with eerily empty shelves and darkened spaces.

That night we stuck a candle into the pastry and shot a selfie video of us singing “Happy Birthday” and sent it off to our two sons. I’m grateful to so many friends for their adorable cards and birthday wishes. Thank you!

But for the first time in my many decades on earth, there was no dinner at a favorite restaurant. No party. It doesn’t matter. This week marks another birthday more important to me than my own.

Image of book, "Redlined" with words:Happy Birthday, Redlined!

My memoir, Redlined, turns two this Friday, published on April 3, 2018, by She Writes Press.

The book’s 2nd anniversary comes at a time when everyone is trying to figure out how to rein in our rambling days and weeks. Parents are struggling to home-school their children while maintaining work hours—if they’re lucky enough to have work and money coming in.

Thousands of us are turning to books. There’s never been a better way for all of us, children, teens, and adults, to enrich our lives with stories. True stories, fiction stories, whatever stories speak to us.

Reading is essential now. Try Redlined

Redlined interweaves a riveting family story with the history of redlining. It immerses readers into another era of multiple crises, decades in the past. In Redlined, readers discover out how one family coped during the tumultuous 1960s, weathering upheavals, from the personal (mental illness, a fracturing marriage) to the national (racial change, the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam protests), and ending with a message of forgiveness and most needed now, hope; hope that the most dire of circumstances will resolve.

Folded into all that is a coming of age story, making Redlined a great read for teens, the vast majority of whom have never heard of redlining (I’d recommend fifteen or older). How can they, or any of us, understand our segregated nation without understanding the causes behind the segregation?

After the crisis of COVID-19 has passed

Long after the Coronavirus pandemic is under control, redlining and its long-lasting insidious effects will still be with us.

When we emerge from our home hibernation, blinking at our return to the bright light of normalcy, the people in communities, originally segregated by redlining will still have all the problems redlining spawned: poverty, violence, pollution, lack of access to fresh food, and often-failing schools. How much farther behind will the children from formerly redlined communities be?

Share Redlined

Many of you, my subscribers, have already read Redlined and posted more than eighty wonderful, heartfelt reviews on Amazon. Thank you!

If others would like to share a book with those you love and care about, consider sending a Redlined ebook or paperback (both heavily discounted on Amazon as of this writing) or better, support your local bookstore, if possible, and give them much-needed business. Indiebound (link below) supports local bookstores too, as does Bookshop

Please be safe and healthy, wherever you are. I’m thinking of you all.

Much love, peace, and happy reading.


Redlined tells a first-hand story about a West Side Chicago family’s personal struggles and dreams intersecting with the racial upheavals of the 1960s.


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