Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

Autumn in New Jersey

The trees are screaming with color and every morning I look out my window at the sun-drenched red maple in front of my house, watching the leaves beginning to curl and flutter to the ground, and enjoying ever last image while I can. What a way to wake up! 

I’m receiving sympathy notes from friends who feel that I cannot survive the two week strike of Broadway stagehands without painful withdrawal, but they are wrong. There’s more going on off Broadway than you would imagine, and between TDF (Theater Development Fund) and Audience Extras I am more than busy. True, the three shows I had tickets for are waiting out the strike, but I do hope for everyone’s sake that they won’t close. They are Mark Twain’s Is He Dead?, Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer (both still in previews), and Spring Awakening, which was to be my Christmas present for my two grandsons, Adam and Thomas Bixler. Let’s hope for a speedy settlement. The most outstanding of the plays I’ve seen in between is Edward Albee’s Peter and Jerry. The first half is a new play, Homelife, written as a prequel to the original Zoo Story, his first play (1958), which now becomes the second act of Peter and Jerry. The superb Bill Pullman starred. The last time I saw him was when he was the lead in Albee’s The Goat 

I must add that I spent an evening at a benefit for The Barrow Group, with my friends, James Wilson, with whom I traveled in Myanmar last January, and Sean McCarthy, a fine screenwriter. The one-man play, written and performed by Martin Moran, was moving and shocking at the same time, dealing with difficult, but very important material.  If any of you get a chance to see the Pennsylvania Ballet this season, grab it. I was thrilled with the imagination of both ballets, but especially taken by the fireworks in the second half–the combining of dance with the New York Choral Society’s singing of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. It was dancing at its best, with great orchestral and choral accompaniment. Two friends, Phyllis Bitow and Flossie Ierardi played percussion. Both are very talented ladies, and Phyllis is also my “theater addict” friend. 

A quick update on progress or lack thereof in Myanmar. I think it was summed up in a November 21st article by Wayne Arnold from Singapore in The Wall Street Journal entitled, Differences on Myanmar Weaken Asia Trade Pact. It’s encouraging that a few of the countries are fighting for change, thereby causing a rift between Asean’s old and new members. The southeast Asia leaders signed a charter to bind the region together in a European-style economic community, but, instead, the pact has exposed the sharp divisions over one of its member, Myanmar. The older more enlightened and democratic countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, are threatening not to ratify the charter if Myanmar does not improve its human rights standards, institute democratic changes, and release the long-detained opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We can only hope that pressure for change continues from the West as well as Asia. 


Hello from Maplewood,



1 Comment

  1. Kim Rippard

    Our bookclub has just read your book, “Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy?”, and we are meeting on Tuesday, April 1 5 at 7:30. Would you come? The meeting is not too far from you and it would be incredible if you would share your experiences with us. This is off the wall…but I thought I’d just take a chance. If you’re free and feel like a field trip, please email me and I’ll give you the rest of the info. I loved your book!

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