Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Compromised Position

When I saw the words "Haha, Is this you???" in a direct message on Twitter from the Local Roots Cafe, my first thought was, "What? A compromising position? Ah geez I hope not." For a brief second I wondered what past connection I could have possibly had with the Local Roots Cafe. Not knowing a soul from there, I came up with nothing, so naturally I still clicked on the link. It looked legit.

When I did it brought me to Twitter's sign-in page, which also looked legit, so I signed in and then received a message that the page did not exist. So I tried again, just in case they didn't get my password the first time. Same thing. I forgot about it, but quickly removed the Local Roots Cafe from receiving any of my tweets, "just in case." When I signed on this morning I found out that dopey people everywhere for days have been falling for this phish attack on Twitter .I would be one of those dopes. I immediately changed my password, although I doubt they would use my account to spam people as I only have 98 followers. Not big bang for the buck. Besides, my account is a locked account, so that must have an added layer of security in Twitterland.

I found this article, "A compromised Twitter account: regaining control!" ...good information.

"The good news is that you can regain control over your account quickly. Make sure that you log into your account - I would go to the address bar in the browser and type it in by hand, (or follow this link to Twitter) and log yourself in. Then go to your Settings page (top right hand corner), and click on Password. Change your password, verify it, and confirm the change. Second, click on Connections. This will take you to a list of third party applications that you have allowed to access your Twitter account. Run your eye down the list, and make sure you recognise them all. If you don't, hold your mouse cursor over the title, and check the site that it will take you to. If you still don't recognise the application, click on 'Revoke Access'. This will tell Twitter to stop allowing the resource to use your information. Don't worry if you've made a mistake - you can always return to the application website in the future and allow access again."

I haven't really warmed up to Twitter. I find it's not user friendly enough. I don't have as much control over it as I like, yet hackers want to take what little I have. It's too time consuming. I don't know if it's even worth it...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Can't Wait

Every time I get an out-of-town visitor I secretly pray they will fall in love with Roanoke and will stay here forever with me. Sadly that hasn't happened so far. I have another shot when my cousin from NYC rides Amtrak into Lynchburg. I hope his train ride is better than the Greyhound bus horror he experienced the last time he came here, 13 years ago. 13 years. That's how long it's taken him to get over his "Grapes of Wrath" experience. I don't know how I talked him into coming back and I figure he's gotta be damned depressed to finally agree. It's the midwinter madness.

Poor fool thinks it's going to be hot since he's coming to "The South." Haha! I told him we've probably had more snow here this year than he's had up in New York. Well, "had" since New York is getting hammered right now. He called to find out if we were getting much. Thankfully nothing but God awful winds, ice cold blasts not warm breezes. He hears Virginia and he's thinking hoop skirts, warm sunshine, magnolia trees and iced tea. Wrong. At least not in February.

As I do to every New Yorker that ventures my way, I begged him to bring cookies. "What they don't have bakeries in Roanoke?" Well, no, they actually don't, unless you count cupcakes and I don't. I'm talking more Fancy cookies, like the ones you see at Fresh Market, but taste good. Please bring me some 7-layers, pignoli and sesame seed cookies. I'll forgo the sharp provolone cheese and garlic, cheese & parsley sausage rings...bad for the diet anyway.

Actually more than any foodstuffs, I just want him here. It's been a long time since I hung out with a friend, laughed at nothing, stayed up late, and just had fun. I miss not having someone here who understands me, who puts up with me, who's not afraid of me, someone who hears me when I don't say a word. I miss playing Skipbo, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle, and Pictionary. I miss having someone who's not afraid to take out the video camera, record a skit with me and then put it on YouTube. I miss someone who shares my music tastes and past.

I can't wait to have someone here who will read my manuscript and tell me the truth, the real truth, even if it hurts me...someone who will look beyond bad grammar and tell me if my words want to make them read on or not, if I told the story.

I hope Amtrak doesn't get screwed up. I hope Roanoke doesn't screw up. This one I want to keep here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Home Invasions in Roanoke

A couple of weeks ago I had blogged about my fear that we were being targeted for home invasion after someone rang our bell at 4:40am during a stormy night. The following day after I found more evidence of an attempted break-in I called the police back and blogged about that experience. The police poo-poohed my home invasion theory and blamed the 4:40am disturbance on "just kids." A report was never filed. I did let all my neighbors know what we had experienced so they could be put on guard. We would have to protect ourselves since the police did not take us seriously.

Since that "just kids" night, there have been two other documented home invasions. Successful home invasions. One took place in Vinton and the other in Roanoke County just two days ago.

"Detectives are investigating whether the crimes are linked, said Roanoke County Lt. Chuck Mason. The victims of Sunday's crime were targeted by the assailants, not chosen at random, said Mason. He wouldn't elaborate."

One would assume the police know more than they are letting on and that's why they keep insisting the homes were not random targets. Or, are they just making that assumption and saying that to keep the neighbors feeling safe? Both times there were multiple invaders with weapons. Targeted or not, it's scary. Is that why the cops didn't take my report seriously because my scenario didn't fit their preconceived notions of "home invaders know their victims." I don't buy that for a minute. If the house looks like it's an easy score maybe that's all it takes to be "targeted." I believe our potential invaders were multiple as well, and armed with weapons, just based on the brazenness. Thankfully we are armed as well and our home invasion was not successful. We know enough you don't answer the door at that time of night. Others who don't, and probably never even thought about it, could find themselves in the same predicament as these recent victims. Since that Sunday night we've become more aware of our surroundings. I don't like living on edge, but I don't want to be a statistic either.

By the way, how come there hasn't been more news covering the first home invasion in Vinton? I've written on our local newspaper blogs and have asked that question and gotten no response. Am I the only one who feels Roanoke has a crime problem and wants to know what's going on? This reminds me of Roanoke's mantra, "We don't have gangs." Pfffft. If they say it does it make it so? I think people are in denial, even the police with their assumptions that a home invasion means the people who are being invaded are in some way connected with the criminals. Thinking like that is harmful to the citizens of Roanoke. I know all these localities want to say crime has gone down, but under-reporting by not taking a report does not support that claim and is definitely not prudent. If people knew there was potential real danger out there they could protect themselves better. Putting our heads in the sand saying, "This is Roanoke, things like that don't happen here" is naive and dangerous. Wake up Roanoke...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yesterday's Mail

My son got his selective service number in the mail yesterday. Man, they don't waste any time.

My dead father got his "it's time to renew your medicare advantage" postcard in the mail yesterday. Man, these people are stupid.

I got a $30 rebate check from Adobe along with my $198 gas bill yesterday. Man, the rebate took long and I can't wait to be able to shut off my heat.

My son still did not get his birthday card from his grandmother yesterday. Man, some people never change.

My husband decided yesterday was the day to confront his mother. Yeah, that didn't go too well. But I'm proud of myself. I didn't jump into the fight even after she told her son that, "It's my choice if I want to send your son a birthday card on time or not." Now that's a weird thing to have a "choice" about, isn't it? "On time?" How about ever? She's been telling him since the first week of February that she had a birthday card for him, but it's still on her dresser. I guess it's too inconvenient to walk to the mailbox down the street. I wonder how she pays her bills.

There is no birthday card, just like there was no Christmas card. He's one of the forgotten grandchildren, the one who had the misfortune of being born from my loins and named after his father. Doubly cursed. His sister gets acknowledged "once in a blue moon", actually twice that I could remember in her 16 years, and probably only because she's got that damn bone problem. The boy? Not so much. Never. The girl actually did get a card from her this year only a month after her 16th birthday. I guess my husband's mother "chose" to wait a month for her too.

It's pretty sad that my son wrote on the kitchen calendar on March 11, a full month after his 18th birthday..."Call dad's mom and and tell her she's a liar." I noticed he wrote, Dad's mom, not grandma...Grandma has been dead for ten years...this one is Dad's mom, and hardly one at that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Just Kids" by Patti Smith

I was so happy to see that Patti Smith's memoir "Just Kids" has made it into the top ten on the New York Times bestseller list. In Patti's words...

Before his untimely death on March 9, 1989 I promised my great friend Robert Mapplethorpe that I would write our story that began when we were both twenty. It was the summer of 1967. The summer of love. It took a long time to write. Sometimes it gave me great pleasure but often it would produce such a sense of loss that I had to set it aside. Now it is finished. I have kept my promise and told our table. It is not a story of fame and fortune. It is the unfolding of life and art, our youthful struggles and our hopes and dreams."

I just finished reading my autographed (ahem) copy and was struck by how unremarkable Smith and Mapplethorpe's lives really were before they struck it "big." Luckily Patti's writing makes "unremarkable" interesting as do the photos, many of which I hadn't seen before. It's hard to believe there was a time when someone could arrive in New York City with under $40 in hand, not have a job, nor anywhere to stay, and not only come out unscathed, but eventually emerge victorious.

From the moment I heard the first note then Patti sing that first line of "Gloria"..."Jesus died for some body's sins, but not mine..." looking out onto the audience with "the stare", I was hooked. She was/is my favorite female performer. When I was young punk I followed her throughout New York City. I've seen her too many times to count, and not enough to be satisfied. The very last time I was supposed to see her was at the Paladium in the late seventies. I never made it there as I had gotten beaten and robbed by a gang on the train on my way there. I never saw her live again, although I make sure to always listen to her live New Year's Eve show from the Diplomat Hotel on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Although I probably could have become one, I was too cool to consider myself a groupie. I do regret my indifferent attitude the time I entered an elevator at Arista Records and came face-to-face with Patti in a neck brace and Lenny Kaye holding tins of tracks which probably were "Radio Ethiopia." All I did was nod. I felt out of my skin dressed in a creme colored skirt with ruffled shirt on my way to a dead-end job interview. Having a line from "Ain't it Strange" ring through my head, I wanted to fall on the floor, tell her this wasn't the real me, proclaim my undying devotion, and beg her to put a good word for me with human resources. All I did was nod. She said hi, he said hello. All I did was nod. That remains one of my biggest regrets, and I don't have many regrets. I didn't get the job either.

My heart felt broken after she got married, left NYC and headed to Detroit to raise her two children. I felt sad, empty, and I was angry at her for abandoning me, then disappointed. After all I thought she was, all she really was, was normal. I looked for her faults, and sneered when I found out she couldn't even drive a car. How did I ever look up to such a woman? But then I became pregnant. Suddenly I understood exactly why she did what she did.

When I heard she was writing the memoir about her past with Mapplethorpe I was intrigued at the possibilities. The book heads in a direction different than I imagined it would. Patti paints a vivid portrait of the past, that turns out actually was innocent. I almost get the feeling she is holding back at points. She's a more respectful memoirist than I am. No stranger to the loss of friends and family, I'm sure it must have been retching to remember at some stages. I could feel her pain. I know there are times I have to walk away from my memoir because it just hurts too much. This book couldn't have come out at a more perfect time. It was like seeing "the stare" for the first time...I needed the inspiration to push myself through to the end of my book. After all these years, she's still my muse.

"Just Kids" is the natural progression of her talent, and the beginning of something else...I can't wait to see what comes next.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Explore Casinos

At the risk of pissing off most of the state, especially the folks in Roanoke I have a solution to Virginia's money problems...allow casinos. The first place I'd put one is on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Explore Park. You all know that Vander Maten is not going to do jackshit with that land, no matter how many more extensions he gets. His "family destination," which I always thought would be RV World, is not gonna happen. The "living museum" that once stood there had its day. It was okay, but that's it, just okay. I went there enough times when my kids were in elementary school to know that one visit there was enough. It was...ummmm...freaking boring! Even the kids who would use any excuse to get out of class were bored.

As less and less state money found its way to the park not only were programs cut back but the people who worked there had become surly and cranky, telling the kids stuff like..."We have no more cows because the state took them away," or "We used to have a pig but we had to eat him because the state wouldn't give us food." Ok, that's a little exaggerated but you get the point. By the third time my kids were slated to go on a field trip there during a rainstorm in the cold early spring, they were in tears begging me not to make them go. "I'm scared of the blacksmith!" "Last time I was there I got stung by the yellow jacks near the garbage!" "That three-legged goat gave me nightmares!" I kept them home. When I heard they closed it down, I said a silent cheer that my kids wouldn't be tortured any more. I know I'm in the minority here, but that's not unusual so I don't really care.

Then I heard Explore Park got a savior...some developer from Florida who was going to do wonderful, but top secret things with it. I watched the price tag start at $20million and then rise to like $200million over the years, with not a shovel of dirt moved on his mystery project. I suspected this developer was full of shit the first time I heard him and couldn't believe so many people were being duped by his pie in the sky dreams. But this is Roanoke so I really shouldn't have been surprised. Finally the powers that be are beginning to smell the coffee that Vander Maten is not going to come through and think they need a "Plan B." If I ran the valley my Plan B would be a casino.

A local internet parlor right here in Roanoke County just paid the County over $20,000 for its yearly business license. That means he has to make at least a couple of million bucks a year. It's one little parlor in the middle of nowhere that probably gets most of its business serving on-line gamblers. Do you know how much money Virginia could make if they allowed legalized slot machines and gaming tables? Megamillions!

Casinos don't have to be sleazy. It could be done with class, like West Virginia has done with the Greenbriar. Design a nice spa resort somewhere like say on the Blue Ridge Parkway where Explore Park used to be. There's plenty of land to work with. Add a first class restaurant, some outdoor activities, the often spoke-of zip line, a horse trail, a bike trail, an observation telescope, walking trails, fishing spots, maybe an know, make it family friendly, and voila you have a cash cow. Make everyone happy by using "green technology." Think of all the jobs it would create from construction to completion. Amtrak would finally make a stop in Roanoke. I know plenty of people who go to West Virginia, Indiana and Atlantic City to play. Why not keep the money here? That land up there is just wasting away...put it to good use already!

The time is now for exploring casinos...wake up Virginia and smell the money!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stop Depriving Yourself

How do you like that? According to this article, agave nectar is not the be-all, end-all, after all.

"Largely because of its very low glycemic impact, Agave nectar is marketed as "diabetic friendly". What's not to like?

As it turns out, quite a lot.

Agave nectar has a low-glycemic index for one reason only: It's largely made of fructose, which although it has a low-glycemic index, is now known to be a very damaging form of sugar when used as a sweetener. Agave nectar has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener (with the exception of pure liquid fructose)...

Research shows that it's the fructose part of sweeteners that's the most dangerous. Fructose causes insulin resistance and significantly raises triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease). It also increases fat around the middle, which in turn puts you at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Fructose has also been linked to non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease. Rats given high fructose diets develop a number of undesirable metabolic abnormalities including elevated triglycerides, weight gain and extra abdominal fat...

Agave nectar syrup is a triumph of marketing over science. True, it has a low-glycemic index, but so does gasoline -- that doesn't mean it's good for you.

If you simply must have some sweets once in a while, a small amount of agave nectar isn't going to kill you. Just don't buy into the idea that it's any better for you than plain old sugar or HFCS."

I love that gasoline line! Better put the nozzle down. Here I've been traipsing all over town looking for the golden bottle, which by the way costs $4.00 for 11 ounces vs $2.00 for 4 pounds of sugar, and the nectar is not only not doing me any good, but sounds like it's contributing to the very problems I'm trying to get rid of! My triglyceride count is through the roof, I'm bordering on becoming a diabetic and have that nasty little abdominal fat thing I'm trying to shed. The whole diet I was following, which I've strayed from causing me to gain back five pounds quicker than I lost them, used agave as a staple. I don't even like the way it tastes so any recipe that called for it I just left it out. The only thing I was using the agave for was to sweeten my coffee. When I use sugar in my coffee it's less than half a teaspoon, so does that really make such a huge difference? I think probably not.

Now it's got me wondering if maybe my daughter isn't right about all these diets..."Forget about the latest fad mom, just eat smaller portions and exercise more...use more calories than you take in and for gosh sakes, stop depriving yourself!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Cheap's" Not Always Bad

I've had my hair dyed by a professional only a couple of times. For the prices they charge, and the way it looks afterwards, but really mostly since I'm such a cheap bastard, I no longer go to the sassy salon where I've always felt uncomfortable anyway.

Whenever I would go to "the beauty parlor" I felt like I had to style my hair before I went there to get it styled. This is the same reason why I don't have a maid come to the house...I spend too much time cleaning it before she comes to clean it. Before heading to the salon, I'd make sure to put makeup on just so it could smear down the sides of my face from the water and/or dye splashing all over it. I'd always get dizzy with my head lower than my shoulders hanging in the sink, and dreaded the cold drips down my back, soaking my t-shirt, which wasn't bad in the summer, but during winter cuts it sucked. Not one for small talk with a total stranger, unless you're a reader of this blog, I don't have the patience to answer questions about my accent, if I was married, how many kids I had, blah blah blah. Then after having the stylist snip off more here, shape it better there, clean it up all over, I'd have to lie when the hair cut and dye job was finished..."Oh, that's fine, it looks great" and try to control myself from sprinting out of the chair and bolting outside, after I pay the ransom's fee and hefty tip, no matter how lousy it looked. And anyway usually if I happen to find a stylist I love, you can be damn sure the next time I call to make an appointment she'll be gone!

Once I even had my eyebrows waxed here in the Roanoke Valley...remember Uncle Leo in the episode when he burned off his eyebrows and Elaine drew ones on him? Yeah, not such a great look on me, and it took forever. I even tried some weird string thing in Valley View Mall. Ouch and swollen for days. I'll just wait until I get back to New York to do them again. When I get them done in Brooklyn I'm in and out in two minutes, it only costs $5, and the technician doesn't even speak English.

Now that my daughter knows how to wield a pair of scissors, first practicing on her own hair for months until she got her "I'm not Scene or Emo!" haircut down pat, she has become my beautician. I bought her a good pair of shears from Sally and she dry cuts my hair. "With your curls that's the way you're supposed to do it." She's very quick and very messy. Wherever the hair falls, it falls, and it's my job to clean it up. There's no small talk with her other than the slap to my head once in a while or the "What is your neck on roller skates?" or "I said look-up, not down at your magazine!" Maybe about once a week I ask her to straighten my hair. Actually she usually volunteers to do it after watching me attempt it myself. "Ouch, that burns! Why is my hair sizzling?" Shhhh, I act totally inept while doing it so she will come to my rescue. If she doesn't burn me while doing it I'll throw her a couple of bucks. And it is pretty amazing how she does get my pseudo-afrocentric hair so smooth and straight.

She won't do my eyebrows, "Ewww, gross!" but she did buy me eyebrow gel. The other thing she doesn't do for my hair is dye it, except for that one time. That's left up to my devices. Recently the girl got on my case about the brand I was using, the $2.99 box of Revlon Colorsilk. "Can you at least splurge on a better brand?" Hey, I need two boxes minimum with my head of hair! I used to use Preference from L'Oreal when I had midnight black hair but once I became so heavily grey and went blonde it didn't seem to take as well and at $9.99 a box that was unacceptable. Since CVS was having a sale on the brand my daughter uses, Feria from L'Oreal, I thought I would give it a go. I bought a color, Starlet, which was darker than the one I normally use. It looked dazzling on the box and my only concern was what would become of the blue-gun metal grey that resided underneath some of my hair, and was once Cowboy blue, thanks to my daughter. While she was at school I used up the two boxes, excited to show her the new look when she got home.

Unfortunately the new look looks worse than the old look. "What did you do to your hair?" was the first thing she asked. I used your crappy, I mean expensive, brand of dye! She didn't believe me. "Let me see the box. The color looks nothing like it." Well, duh. The new color looks freaking white. I pointed to underneath my hair. "Ugh, the blue is yukky brown now." Yeah, I noticed. And by the way where are the multi-faceted shimmer colour 3x highlights the box promises, huh, huh? "You should go to Onyx and let my stylist fix it for you." Yeah, what's that gonna cost? We'll see, but first I see that Walgreen's is having a sale on Colorsilk...$1.99! Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it's not good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's the Buzz?

So tell me, what's the buzz, tell me what's a happening, what's the buzz, tell me what's a happening...who's used Google Buzz and what's all the hubbub? I barely understand Twitter, am getting annoyed at Facebook, and have no idea what Linked, Delicious or any of those other little "share it" symbols mean. Should I even care about any of them or Google Buzz? What's the point of social media if someone is pretty much anti-social? I can only get to know you so much through a monitor. Words and pics are fine, but wouldn't it be better to share a drink now and then? Damn, I miss ringing my friends' doorbells.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's Not You...It's Them!

Just last week when we were sitting around the table with the kids and some of their friends, I warned the ones that were dating that they were entering a dangerous week, Valentine's Day was coming. For the girls it's more treacherous than for the boys because if a boy is not totally smitten with a girl he's been dating, he will in all likelihood, break up with the girl before the 14th so he doesn't have to spend any unnecessary money buying a phony "love" present. The girls will stick it out because really they have nothing to lose, but if they don't like the present they get they very well might dump the guy the day after Valentine's Day. The kids goofed on me, saying I was crazy, that maybe the guys from my generation would do that, but they didn't think their generation would. One of the guys said he would never do that to his girl, and one of the girls (my daughter) said she didn't think her boyfriend would ever do that as well. I begged to differ, shrugged my shoulders and just said, "People are people, no matter what generation."

Cut to a couple of days later when I was met with red-rimmed eyes and a finger pointing to me proclaiming that I was "the prophet of doom" by the girl. Sure enough she had been dumped, via text messaging no less. She didn't see that coming, and frankly neither did I. The boyfriend was always polite to me, hugged me even, and seemed to really like the girl, although I did mention to her in the past that he said he "loved her" way too quick for my liking. I really expected more from him than the text message dump. At least in my day the guys had to squirm face to face when they dumped the girls and couldn't hide behind a two-inch screen. Of course the boy still loved her, he just wasn't "in love" with her anymore. I told her at least he didn't say, "It's not you, it's me."

I hugged her and even though she didn't show me any tears I know she felt terrible and had been crying at some point. I told her that I've always felt that Valentine's Day just seemed to bring out the worst in some people, it was a ridiculous Hallmark holiday that put too much pressure on people. "Do you know how lucky your father is that I don't celebrate that day?" I feel that if someone loves me they should show me every single day and not have to prove it on one day. Of course my husband still buys me a mushy card, gets me a box of chocolates and this year bought me Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs. He knows that I will file for divorce if he ever brings roses home today. I make faces, but always take the presents, thank him and give him a big hug and kiss. His Valentine's Day gift consists of a card from the dollar store that says something like, "Take the garbage out." If I ever got him a sentimental gift he would think I was having an affair.

Anyway, by the end of our conversation I had the girl laughing..."It's not you, it's them!" I think that my "forecast of doom" may have actually helped her deal with the situation. She may have been blind-sided, but she realized that the situation wasn't unusual. She seemed fine today. Her daddy made sure she got a box of chocolates, the good kind too, and I made sure she got a Ben Stiller movie, the cheap kind. Before she headed out to the mall with her friend I heard them laughing up a storm in her room so hopefully today's just another Sunday, and she could forget all about stupid cupid. Mom was right once again, but I really wished I wouldn't have been this time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Honest Scrap Award

Portia Sisco, whose blog tag line is "Thoughts on writing, the paranormal, and anything else that goes bump in the night", (so how could I not enjoy it?) was kind enough to bestow upon me the Honest Scrap Award.

Thanks! But there's a caveat in accepting this badge of honor...I have to reveal ten things about myself. Only ten? I guess I'll work my way up in the years starting with...

1. I was born in Bensonhurst which is the coolest neighborhood in Brooklyn.

2. I bought my first pack of cigarettes when I was 5 years old. The guy behind the counter at the luncheonette passed me a pack of real Marlboros when all I wanted was candy cigarettes. See how cool Bensonhurst is? Naturally I couldn't just throw them away so I tried one. I don't remember how it tasted but Marlboro was my choice for 35 years. I quit cold turkey and don't even long for it anymore.

3. I smoked my first cigar at 10 years old. My father, who didn't smoke except for the occasional cigar that someone would give him, lit it up for me. I didn't choke, and sat with him smoking it while watching the New York Mets play. I still enjoy a fine cigar now and then as long as it's accompanied with a sifter of brandy.

4. The show "Welcome Back Kotter" was supposed to take place at the high school I attended. At the beginning of the opening credits there are three girls standing in the cold on the corner. I think that's me and two of my friends.

5. I used to sing in a punk rock band called "Shortwave." Now I play drums in Rockband because my kids will not let me sing. They say I make their ears bleed.

6. Most of my jobs were media related and I think I covered every avenue. Some places I've worked: Warner Books, Universal Pictures, Radio Advertising Bureau, LBS Communications, ABC News, The Roanoke Times. I liked working in television best.

7. I've been married three times. The first was to a musician/key grip. The second to a musician/Danish author. The third to an auto mechanic/woodworker. Besides having two great kids and an auto repair business together I don't have as much "in common" with #3 as I did the first two losers. Since we're still together after 20 years that seems to actually be a good thing.

8. I moved to Roanoke 15 years ago to give my kids a better life. I don't regret it, because the kids flourished here, but not a day goes by that I don't long for New York, the city, the people, the food, the vibe. I still feel like a square peg in a round hole here.

9. I miss my father terribly. He died under mysterious circumstances two years ago and his death was the catalyst for my first book, a memoir entitled, "Oblivious" which is undergoing the third revision. I'm almost there.

10. Any time I've met a medium or a psychic they tell me I'm a medium or psychic, (yes I do know who is on the phone before I pick it up and no it's not because of caller id) which may also explain why every apartment and house I have ever lived in was "haunted." The paranormal book I was researching was supposed to be my "first book" but due to circumstances beyond my control has been put "on hold." I also enjoy going on paranormal investigations.

Well there ya go...ten things you now know about me...I could go on and on and on, but I'll spare you. Although there are many blogs that I would pass this award onto there's one guy who is the epitome of Honest Scrap...A Fistful of Donuts blog...Krispy, this award's for you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Little Boy, Always

18 years ago during a major Brooklyn snowstorm I gave birth to my firstborn, my son. On his first birthday there was another blizzard and the only people that showed up to celebrate were his grandparents. Both of them are gone now but I know they are looking down from above and are as proud of him as I am.

No matter what else I do in life, nothing will ever be as great an accomplishment, nor mean as much to me, as being a mother to him (and my daughter) has been. As someone who wasn't supposed to be able to have children, I am so thankful and humbled to have been blessed with the best son I could have ever dreamed of having. During all the years I questioned "why am I here?" the answer became clear the first time I gazed upon his face. It was never a "sacrifice" to give up the life I had and the future I "could have had." My career just shifted. And now it could begin to shift again.

Although my "job" will never be done, I feel it has come to a crossroads. It's now up to my son to continue on the straight path that I hope I've shown him. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and I don't have need to worry, yet. I think back to where I was at 18, what I was doing, and the relationship I had with my mother. It was quite a different scenario. As soon as I graduated high school, I wanted out of there. I don't know if I've done "better" with my kids than my mother did with me but I do know we have a good, healthy relationship. My son's not looking to run away anywhere. I'll just have to wait and see if that's good or not.

For his first birthday I had created a video montage of his first year using "The Jackson Song" as the soundtrack. I have it on VHS and watching it brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could share it with you but since I can't I'll share the song instead. Happy 18th birthday'll always be my little boy. I see great things in your future...

***UPDATE*** When the 18 year old rolled out of bed around noon the first thing he said was, "I'm running down the corner to buy cigarettes, then I'm getting a tattoo and joining the service." Of course he was only kidding (I think.) He was still sleepy enough to let his sister transform him into The Unknown Birthday Boy. At least he's got a sense of humor.

"The Jackson Song" by Patti Smith

Little blue dreamer go to sleep
Let's close our eyes and call the deep
slumbering land that just begins
When day is done and little dreamers spin

First take my hand now let it go
Little blue boy you're on your own
Little blue wings as those feet fly
Little blue shoes that walk across the sky

May your path be your own
But I'm with you
And each day you'll grow
He'll be there too
And someday when you go
We'll follow you
As you go, as you go

Little blue star that offers light
Little blue bird that offers flight
Little blue path where those feet fall
Little blue dreamer won't you dream it all

And in your travels you will see
Warrior wings remember Daddy
And if a mama bird you see
Folding her wings will you remember me
As you go, as you go
As you go, as you go

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow is Snow is Snow

So we have a bet if Roanoke County is going to call me again tomorrow morning at 5:30am to tell me to go back to sleep because the schools are closed or will they call tonight. I say they'll call tonight, after 9, because any moron could turn on the weather channel (or open their window) and see that it's sleeting outside. Since the schools here close when there's even a possibility it might snow I'm thinking my schedule will be screwed up again tomorrow. It's not that my kids are pains or anything, it's just that my normal routine is disrupted when they're around. It's so much easier to blame them for not editing my book when in reality it's that my brain has turned to slush, and my lack of creativity has absolutely nothing to do with them baking chocolate chip cookies or playing X-Box.

Sitting at the dinner table watching tv (yes, we're one of those families) the kids got a kick out of NYC's Mayor Bloomberg holding a press conference about closing the schools tomorrow. "What's up with that?" they wanted to know. I explained that NYC schools mostly serve as babysitting services and provide free meals for many of the students so when they close it's a big deal. They must be getting soft because I can't ever remember a day when I didn't have to go to school. Four foot snowdrifts? Pffft, climb over them, you wimp!

The big controversy down here in Roanoke is about shoveling sidewalks. The city of Roanoke has to actually send people out to tell people that they're going to fine them if they don't clear their sidewalks. Can you imagine there's a law that tells people to do something that should come naturally to them? Apparently Southerners who have sidewalks don't like to shovel, and they can't understand why Yankees do. I'll tell you why...because it's common freaking sense! It's also common sense that you don't wait until you have 12 inches of the stuff, or wait until it turns to ice, before you attempt to shovel. What's that you can't shovel, you're old or have a bad back? Well then how about paying the teen down the block to do it for you. You pay someone to mow your lawn you can pay someone to shovel your walk so your neighbor doesn't break a leg as they try and walk past your house. What gets me is that Roanoke city is complaining about people not shoveling yet the city themselves have yet to shovel in front of their libraries and schools!

You know what else really annoys me about the Southerners and snow...they don't clear their vehicles off before they take them out for a spin. So when they're driving down 419 a big chunk of ice or snow flies off their SUV and hits my windshield! I saw one guy that was so lazy he only cleared off a 6" x 6" spot on his windshield and left the rest of it covered. His back windshield was totally covered. What's wrong with these people?

Meanwhile I don't even have sidewalks but my husband has shoveled my driveway and cleared a path to my mailbox too many times to count. And every freaking time VDOT comes to plow those bastards block us back in. Since my mailman can't pull directly in front of the box, and would have to stretch three more inches to put mail in my box, it'll probably be spring before I get any more mail. Oh well, like Newman says, "No one really needs mail."

Can you tell I've about had enough of winter? I don't even want to take any more snow pictures. All the shots are starting to look the same...Snow is snow is snow is snow is snow is snow is snow is snow is snow is snow...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paranormal Photos I

Since my brain has turned to slush and I can barely muster an original thought, nor put two sentences or two words together, I turn to some quick video editing to keep my creativity juices flowing. I'm sick of all the snow shots I've taken (after a while they all seem to look the same) so I went with some of the "paranormal" shots I took instead and created a brief montage:

I hope my brain begins to thaw out soon...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowpocalypse in Roanoke

Yup, it's still snowing in Roanoke. You can see the difference from yesterday's photos. The branches are getting closer to the ground. I fear I may lose my azalea bushes and some pine trees. The snow is very heavy and we have our fingers crossed that we don't lose power. Is the snowpocalypse ever going to end?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tech Support Cheat Link

Whenever something goes wrong with my computer I yell for my son to come and fix it. After all he has taken a number of computer classes and wants to get a degree in computer science so he should know absolutely everything there is to know about computers, right? When he doesn't I get really annoyed..."Aren't you going to school for this?!" To say his patience is wearing thin would be an understatement as he tries to explain for the millionth time what exactly he's going to school for. JAVA, HTML, BYOB, whatever...I still don't get it. All I know it's computers, so get to fixing mine boy.

After our last "little tiff" my son sent this to me because he thought I "needed" it. Actually he said I don't "need" it...I NEED it, and that this was made for me. Hrmph! BTW, I won't tell you how long it was taking me to figure out how to put this chart on my blog before I had to break down and call my son to do it for me, in two seconds. Wiseguy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Welcome to My Office

Welcome to my office...

a glimpse into my personality...

In my tapestry chair with the antique-looking floor lamp shedding muted light I sit with my pencil, crossing out horrible lines in my book and creating better ones that I will later have a hard time reading because of my lousy handwriting. Behind my head the Knots" poster gazes down. It's from a show they performed at Max's Kansas City way back when, when life was fun. My friend and artist JohnyV painted it and after the show gave it to me. I have always treasured it. Ricky, the lead singer/guitarist has been dead many years now. I still remember his green palor and nimble fingers caressing the neck of his Gibson.

Above that are photos I took at Ocean Isle Beach. When times are tough I sit with my eyes closed and can hear the surf and smell the sea. To the right is the tacky 18th century reproduction of people playing chess in some grand room. I bought it for $5 along the side of a road in Pennsylvania some thirty years ago.

It's damaged now from this last move, and my husband cannot understand my love for it. There's a spirit that lives within it.

To the left is "The Poet", a plaque reproduction found on the walls of Pompeii which I picked up in Italy. She reminds me of me when I had black hair, a pen in my hand and no worries about anyone else but me.

The old world maps I bought at Consignment First.

Then there's the black & white, the rock 'n roll.

The typewriter...

My favorite bridge...the Brooklyn Bridge...

My favorite poet...Arthur Rimbaud...

My favorite time...hanging out at CBGB's with the Ramones...

There's two other walls, and the messy desk, but that's it for now...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Girl's Gotta Cheat

Sometimes a girl's gotta cheat. No, not on her husband, but on her diet. It's hard to be loyal day after day, experiencing the same ole same ole, isn't it? No, not with the spouse, but with the diet. Who enjoys eating egg whites, or plain yogurt, or non-fat cottage cheese every day, no matter what you mix in with them, or the worst of the worst, non-fat plastic, I mean cheese? Bland, bland, bland. Yeah, okay, like some marriages could get. How bland would your marriage have to get before you cheated on your spouse? My first husband would answer five minutes, but even after being married almost two decades to husband # 3, we haven't gotten there, so don't have an answer to that question, but I do know how long I can go before I cheat on my bland diet...3 weeks!

I'd been good, I lost 11 pounds over three weeks, ten in the first ten days, but then it stopped. I still kept at it, although I wasn't as gung ho as I was when the weight was shedding so quickly. The first sign that something was changing in my attitude is when I pulled out the popcorn bag while watching "24". Even though it was 94% fat free and tasteless it was still something I would not have thought about even doing the previous two weeks. Then came eating out. It started with lunch. Surely I could have sushi. Surely I can't eat sushi without one little sake. Hey, why'd you bring me the large bottle? Bring me another. It's okay I'll ride an extra five miles on the bike. The kids looked across the table at each other. My son nodded and said, "You lasted longer than I thought you would." My daughter held up one of her hands, "Open window" and pushed the other one under it, "There's diet." Harumph! I'd show them I can get back on track. And I did. I worked out extra hard that night and no snackies. I was thrilled to see I didn't gain anything the next day. Of course I didn't lose anything either.

The next night I thought since I didn't gain anything I guess one glass of wine with dinner didn't hurt after all. The problem with one glass of wine is that it turns to two quickly. And once the wine hits so does the appetite. I found myself suddenly craving something, anything, other than the tasteless low calorie popcorn. One of those 100 calorie cookie snack bags surely wouldn't hurt. Neither would a handful of pecans, they are healthy nuts after all. A Laughing Cow wedge is only 35 calories. Boy, am I thirsty. I think I'll have just one more sip/glass of wine. I couldn't understand why I began waking up at 3 in the morning again, thirsty and having to pee. I felt tired in the morning and needed orange juice to get me going. I thought I saw the scale budge a little, upwards. That's okay I'll just ride the bike another ten miles. And I did, but slower, much slower than usual.

When the weekend arrived my husband talked me into going out for dinner, twice. On Friday it was sushi and sake again. I was so proud of myself...I didn't have any of the ice cream tempura even though the waitress brought extra spoons. Since the sake had loosened me up, I had just one little nightcap of red wine before bed while watching the Marx Brothers. C'mon it was "Duck Soup" after all. Again I found myself waking up in the middle of the night, throat dry, bladder full and unable to get back to sleep. Repeat morning OJ ritual.

Saturday night's fare was a little worse than sushi. It was my weakness, Italian food. My husband talked me into going to Mama Maria's since we hadn't been there in a while. I agreed only if we didn't order a bottle of wine. Instead I had a Bloody Mary which was a great Bloody Mary. In fact, it was so great I had to have two! I thought I would have the appetizer mussels fra diavolo as my main meal. They were so good too I just couldn't resist grabbing one piece of Italian bread to sop up the sauce. My husband just got a pizza, but it smelled so damn good I just had to have one slice...I mean two. Then Domenick did the unthinkable...he sent over a chocolate covered cannoli and a huge portion of tiramisu. "I made this special for you, notice the real cocoa on it." Last time we were there he had asked my opinion and I panned it. How could I not at least try it this time? It was magnificent. I was very proud of myself as I only ate a sliver of it and packed the rest of it up for my daughter. I did have half the cannoli with my husband but turned down the sambuca, because after all, I am on a diet.

When I awoke that Sunday morning, I wasn't surprised to see that the scale had two pounds. Needless to say I was not a happy camper, but I was very happy when I was indulging. Was it worth the two pounds? You bet it was. I enjoyed going out with my husband, eating what I wanted, drinking what I wanted and having some laughs. Isn't that what life is all about? What good is it if I keep losing weight but am miserable? My husband doesn't care, he loves me just the way I am. In fact I think he wants me fat which sorta pisses me off. I'm dieting for me, not him, so I am determined to rein myself in. I mean c'mon a girl's gotta cheat sometime and isn't it better I cheat on a diet than on a husband, or he on me? Once that door is is opened there's no turning back, and no amount of pedaling that's gonna close it. Better to gain a pound or two than lose trust and respect. Bicycle here I come...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snow Shots

I've been hanging out on my picture blog, MsElenaeous Pics posting some snow shots. Would prefer to be taking some surf and sand shots, but living in Roanoke in the winter that's not gonna happen. I don't care what that groundhog says tomorrow...I am so over winter!