I have known, and loved, Len Bourland for a long time. We were both writers, mothers, and married to physicians when we met back in the ’80s. Moving to Dallas from New York City, switching roles from working producer to freelancing mom, was sort of shocking to my then much younger system. Meeting Len was amazing: a woman who, like me, lived to write. A writer who actually had a regular column we all devoured, laughed over, but most importantly identified with. Great writers make themselves jump out on the page, bring you into their hearts, pull you into their lives, and leave you as a close friend. A friend you can identify with.
That was, and still is, Len’s award-winning regular column in Park Cities People. From Carpool Capers to At Our House, we enjoyed her stories of the “halcyon days” when we didn’t have car seats with five point locking systems. Like the time she and her neighbor donned rubber gloves, long sleeves, swim goggles, bandanas and shower caps to jump-start a car — after all, the battery warning label said “Caution! Batteries Contain Acid, Which Can Explode!”. It was I Love Lucy meets The Brady Bunch.
Her book, “Normal’s Just a Cycle on a Washing Machine” is a collection of all those fun columns, raising a family in the Park Cities, the “quintessential Reagan-era stay-at-home mom dream in the Big D”. But it’s also the story of a woman who, like most of us, launches a family with sparkly eyes and a big, loving heart, then sees it turn upside down before her eyes. Len manages to keep it together, “mop up and move on”, and find a new life and career through real estate at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s on Lovers Lane.
And by the way, if you can answer the real estate “riddle” at the end of this post, Len will send you a copy of her book, which is for sale on Amazon, at Preston Royal Barnes & Noble, St. Michael’s Women’s Exchange, Church of the Incarnation and St. Michaels & All Angels Church.
“I wanted to collect my columns in a book because, well, I had postponed gathering them for so long, and I wanted them for my grandchildren to enjoy,” says Len.
She also got motivated after a dear, close friend died of cancer.
“We are all terminal,” she writes, “but after her diagnosis I wondered what regrets or unfinished business I would have if I knew my endgame.”
Her original idea for a collection of popular essays, her columns, actually evolved into the story of Len Bourland’s life through the cycles, woven through the 80’s, the Reagan era, a time that experienced a sea-change in cultural values.
We’ve already decided that Reese Witherspoon needs to turn the book into a script, and play Len.
Buy this book as your number one stocking stuffer. Perfect for anyone who has lived in Dallas or was raised here. Oh and don’t miss the chapter on page 133, The Donald, Miss Universe, and The Clintons:
“I predict The Donald will soon be squiring around a beauty queen under the age of 25 and maybe honeymooning in the Lincoln bedroom since the Clintons offer it to big donors. One day they may even get married. Stay tuned for the next installment on that continuing American soap, “Trump”
Geeze Louise: she wrote this in May, 1997!
Riddle: So who was the Real Estate agent who, attired in a suit and heels, showed a stately home, couldn’t get in, climbed the fence, broke her ankle doing so, and got sprayed by the sprinklers as she crawled back to her clients who took her to the emergency room?
Tell me quietly, by private email, we’ll get you a book.
Len doesn’t tell, and I’m never going to tell… there are some things that just need to stay in the wash.