from Sandy Needham

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Three College Friends Dispatch

We had managed to see each other in bits and pieces, rarely all together. I had missed a couple of bigger reunions, my being in Brazil. In one case, at least 20 years had passed since we had seen each other. But THIS particular early June weekend, three fellow 1971 graduates of Northwestern University and I showed up at the same midtown Manhattan hotel on the same day.

monica in DubaiMonica Postell, originally from Chicago, lives in Delray Beach, Florida. She travels world-wide, training employees of multi-national companies in innovative customer service. Here she is in Dubai. After a busy schedule stateside, she heads to India this fall.

After a training session in Rio in 2007, Monica flew up to Natal for a visit! I’ll never forget her courage on the ‘ski-bunda’ in the dunes. I cannot imagine her being daunted by anything.

Camaroes dinner with Sandy and Newt

Monica is a Francophile – or one could say your general mediterrophile (like me). She is also an accomplished painter in oil and water colors.


Her website is:

Above all, Monica is a brilliant, generous, vibrant force of nature…the eternal smile version. I can barely recall what her face looks like when she is not smiling!

shoreLinda Doyle Calder, known to me as “Doyley,” is originally from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. She now lives in Westhampton, Long Island, New York. She is a former Manhattan attorney and a current Hamptons attorney. Early in her career Doyley served as a Senior Law Clerk for the renowned Chief U.S. District Court Judge, Constance Baker Motley, a former NAACP civil rights lawyer who won many college desegregation cases at the Supreme Court. Doyley and I have managed a couple of lunches in Manhattan in the last few years, one with her opera-loving and amateur chef-husband, John. Their daughter is just out of college.


linda & johnwith Anne

doyley 3I remember Doyley freshman year as the most well-read person I had met! Above all, she is a tremendously astute “tiny thing” that packs a formidable wallop. She’s another one whose intelligence is accompanied by a perpetual grin, which is perpetually framed by those cheekbones!

I was Monica’s and Doyley’s unofficial roommate at our rather counter-culture version of a sorority house the couple of years I lived off-campus.






Marie Arana is “Marisi” to all of us. She is half American and half Peruvian. Her amazing autobiography, American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood (a finalist for the National Book Award) describes her magical childhood in Peru and her adolescence in the USA.

Here is one of her book jacket portraits!

Marisi lives in Washington, D.C. and Lima with her husband, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic. It is hard to know where to begin with such an accomplished artist and intellectual, but I will begin with the fact that Marisi remains an extremely kind, fascinating, funny, unaffected andesperson even after serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Post’s “Book World,” gathering all that literary talent and managing the First Lady’s annual National Book Festival on the Washington Mall, publishing Cellophane and Lima Nights, and becoming a Library of Congress Scholar. She has just written a biography of Simon Bolivar, soon to be published. And she recently traveled to the Andean gold mines to write a script for “10 X 10,” a film about ten girls, ten writers and ten developing countries. The remarkable girl growing up in that lawless, desolate place captured Marisi’s heart.

marisi 2Here she is on a speaking tour. Did I say infectious smile again?

Her website is:

Marisi dinnerAn operatic voice (I performed a modern dance in college accompanied by Marisi playing piano and singing an original song) and an undergraduate degree in Russian are additional icings on this beautiful cake!


Marisi has a daughter and a son and is the only lucky one to be a grandmother among this foursome. Above all, she has a presence…as in being present, that is richly infused with equal parts intelligence and good will (and not       necessarily with noticing where her credit card is).




cevicheriaWe all loved walking miles together around Manhattan. A fantastic dinner was shared at La Mar, an elegant Peruvian “cevicheria” at 25th and Madison. My first pisco sours. On Saturday, several problems were solved handily by this strolling post-menopausal swat team: retrieving a laptop adaptor and a credit card left behind in interesting locales; urgent purchases made; my NY driver’s-license-renewal-eye-test administered (which means I can renew online from Brazil now!); picnic provisions secured. A happily crowded Bryant Park provided the backdrop to our fabulous cheese and surreptitious wine picnic. And we were able to pull all of this off without one word being left unsaid!

IMG_1840 (574x800)Bryant parkRockfella center

Sunday morning we had to return to the Italian restaurant where we had eaten dinner because my iPhone was missing. Sure enough, they did not have it! Marisi even tried calling my number during brunch to see who might answer. Nothing.

My three outstanding cohorts caught their various trains while I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping my way up Fifth Avenue to the Apple Store for a new iPhone (these cost much more in Brazil). My flight to São Paulo was that night. I’ll never forget the ten minutes it took to walk out of the Apple Store with a new iPhone, considering the endless complication involved in buying anything in the northeast of Brazil. Despite that miracle, I felt a little down since Newton and I had lost four cell phones recently. He left an old one behind in a hotel and our last two new ones had been robbed in Brazil.

I returned to the hotel to pick up my suitcase and way too many USA purchases. The cab got me to Port Authority and I climbed on the airport bus, handing the ticket that was tucked beside my new phone to the driver. Once I sat down and peered into my purse, I couldn’t believe my eyes: the new iPhone was now missing. Did the driver manage to cop it?? Utterly stunned, I became aware of a weightiness on my lap. Next thing you know, I pulled not one, but two iPhones out of a hole in the lining of my purse. The older phone had inadvertently been set on vibrate, which went unnoticed when Marisi called the number at our noisy Third Avenue brunch.

“So filled with antennae” is the apt way Marisi later described our little group. Even I, currently less productive than the others, have so many offerings for my antennae receptors in this time-filled paradise…at least the sort of antennae that are not responsive to cell phones on vibrate! It is one of my grandest pleasures to know these three smiling, brilliant, finely tuned-in beauties, and I am thankful for them.




  1. I love the pics of you all together- looks like so much fun!!!

  2. Try going to the Apple store when a new product is released...some people camp out for days!!! Haha - looks fun though


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