Saturday, April 15, 2006

Along Came Mary

Lest I be viewed as ungrateful, allow me to make a shout out to my unbelievably supportive, brilliant friend Mary Shomon, who built this blog and my website, I first met Mary in the summer of 1982. I was a journalism student at the University of Texas at Arlington and I, along with a large chunk of the staff of the student newspaper "The Shorthorn," signed up for a summer Portuguese class taught by a Professor.Martins. You could get two years of foreign language credit, provided you could stand waking up early enough to be on time for an 8 a.m. to 12 noon class every day for an entire summer.

Mary immediately became an object of mystery and rumor. She was, and is now, quite beautiful, with dark brown skin, flowing long hair and bright, lively eyes. I'm not sure how the story started, but i was informed by a classmate that she was a Spanish-speaking Latin American woman engaged to some Brazilian hunk and she was wanting to master Portuguese during the summer before their nuptials. My classmate wasn't too far off. Mary was from Yonkers, New York, knew people who were married, and signed up for the course because she was on summer break from Georgetown University and didn't have much to do at her parent's home in the suburbs north of Dallas.

Mary has always been more mystically inclined than I am. I remember finally getting to talk with her at length at this Arlington bar on Cooper Street called Bentley's. Just me, Mary, and about a dozen of our nosey classmates. Mary interpreted our handwriting and read our auras. I think my aura was taupe, which indicated that I would one day host a TV show on Bravo. Mary wasn't a Latin American heiress, but she was every bit as fascinating as I thought. In the subsequent years, I would find that Mary's life was filled with a Fellini-like cast of characters. Hang around her and you will meet Israeli soldiers born in Transylvania and Arab American activists (including one comedian who, when asked by airport security what he did for a living, said, "I'm a comedian." "Say something funny," they demanded. "I just finished flight school," he replied.") Other supporting cast members in Mary's life include writers, 4-star chefs, and even Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Life with Mary is international, diverse and unpredictable, and I felt I should be served shaken, not stirred martinis when I was around her.

She worked for a time in advertising in Dallas before heading back to the D.C. era where she met a wonderful man named Jon Mathis, who toils as a public servant. Jon also has a lovely singing voice. They have two children - Julia, a gorgeous girl who looks a lot like her mother who I have arranged to marry my 3-year-old son Dominic. (Not now - sometime after he's three.) They also have a delightful son Danny, whom everyone calls Bebito.

Mary experienced thyroid trouble at one point and had an incredibly hard time convincing doctors to listen to her. She was eventually diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease and has written THE patient book, "Living Well With Hypothyroidism." I am especially fond of her book, "Living Well With Auto-Immune Disease," because it quote me speaking of my experiences with diabetes. Mary has become a publishing empire in her own right and one of her publishers has described her as "Thyroid Mary." Mary's thesis is that your health is too important to leave it to the doctors. Patients should become students of any malady that strikes them, and be open-minded to alternative approaches in addition to "mainstream" medical practice, which reduces patients to separates sets of symptomes and refuses to see people as complex, complete systems. For this, of course, many doctors hate her, which is one more reason everyone should love her.

Mary's talents are limitless. Look for broader areas of non-fiction from her. Thank you, Mary. This page exists because of you.

Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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