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Happy Women in the NY and surrounding areas, make sure to catch Pamela Monk's latest work Terranova, the smash hit of the NYC International Fringe Festival at the Actor's Playhouse September 16-22 (Click here for details)

Dear Madrone,

Can you explain about money again? It gets confusing. I have an aunt of an aunt who is loaded. She has stuff out the wazoo, statues of porcelain, furniture with 24 carat gold threads woven through the upholstery, which gleam right through the plastic, a coffee table with a top made of a marble slab mined in Carrara. And forget about her jewelry. Her rings along would put the entire neighborhood through college. Ok. But it doesn't please her. She spends every day in her house, with the doors locked, and peering through the Venetian blinds to be sure she doesn't open the door to strangers, salesman, those nice young men in white shirts and ties who want to save you, or relatives she thinks are after her money. Which means me, since I'm the only one who even bothers to check on her. Everyone else has given up. Why isn't she happier? Is it the money? And if it is, why aren't poor people always going around whistling a tune? I don't get it. Confused, Lake Realto.

Dear Confused,

You really don't get it, do you? Happiness and money are like oil and vinegar. If you leave them alone enough, they separate out. Shake the bottle, and you have a mix. Too much oil, the salad dressing tastes like slime from the sea. Too much vinegar, you might as well throw in the Tums like croutons. So a person is like a chef, who knows just how much to put in, what other ingredients give the flavor and how to handle the cruet. Also what type of greens to use, during what time of year. Are you getting what I mean now? No. I didn't think so. Let me put it another way. Money is never just money. It always stands in for something else. With your aunt, sounds like money is a fortress to her, except she turned it into a jail, to which apparently you don't have the key. Money isn't going to make you any happier or sadder than you already are. Seriously.

God bless, Donna

DEAR READERS: Here are three things that money can stand for: Love, Freedom, Muscle. It's not ever just about the money.

Dear Madrone,

Who invented families?

Mystified, Renovo

Dear Mystified,
What kind of a jamoke question is that? How should I know? What does it matter? Some things just are, and you don't need to waste a precious minute thinking about it. If it wasn't such a stupid question, I'd say you need a shot of stupid to keep you thinking about things that don't need thinking about. I'd also say I wouldn't dignify it with an answer, except I already did.

God bless, Donna

Sometimes people ask me to recommend shows to watch on the TV. I tell them, what do you think I'm nuts? I tell you what to watch, then you don't like, and it's on my head. No. This is an advice column, not a pizza parlor. Order your toppings elsewhere.


The universe is made of stories, not atoms.

Muriel Rukeyser




Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

Rules of Family Archive

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