Friday, May 29, 2009

Another one rated R for language

Well, I have to say that I thought twice about yesterday’s post. I was afraid that maybe I’d finally crossed the line with all the “suck my dick” talk. First I thought about the poor, nice, unsuspecting reader who might be visiting my blog for the first time and then gets assaulted by that crap. Then I thought of all the perverts who are now sure to be coming to my site because they’ve Googled “suck my dick.” Great. Hi, guys.

But when the comments came in from my dear, sweet readers saying, “Yeah, fuck cancer! Cancer can suck my dick, too!” I started feeling glad about throwing the filthy talk out there. It was actually empowering. I mean, how often do women get to say something so in-your-fucking-face, and with such conviction? Man, it felt good! Of course, I’m sure I’m the only person on earth who’s ever gotten an email from her daughter asking, “Who is Elisabeth Kubler Ross and why should she suck your dick?”


Sorry, there’s just no smooth segue… Go pour yourself a coffee or hit the john and come back.

Okay, here’s the latest on Beautiful Aunt Joyce. It’s not good; I guess the doctors are projecting 2-14 days. My sister Lori drove down to Pennsylvania yesterday and my cousin flew in from Texas. Mom is leaving Boise on Sunday (though for the record, BAJ is my father’s sister). I’m not sure what to do; I was on the fence about whether I should head east as well. I was a hospice volunteer for several years and I know that sometimes people hang on much longer than you’d ever expect. It’s a tough call.

For now, I’m just proceeding as usual, knowing that I might be on a plane sooner rather than later. Beloved boyfriend and I are following through with our plans to go away this weekend; we’re seeing Lucinda Williams in Mesa, Arizona, on Saturday night. I’ve been to a million Lucinda shows already and she’s always wonderful. We’ll be staying at what should be a beautiful resort in Cave Creek; hopefully it will actually look like the photos they have on their website. (Remember my post from last April about the Cottonwood Resort in Scottsdale?)

It will be good to rest up and have some peace and alone time, knowing what’s inevitably lying ahead. So sad.

Thank you all for your prayers and best wishes for Joyce. My heart is breaking, but your kind words mean so much to me, more than you can possibly imagine. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Um, did I tell you I hate cancer?

This is not the post I intended to write for today; I’m a bit out of sorts. Moments before I did the panel presentation at the library last night, I talked to my sister Lori, who had some bad news: Beautiful Aunt Joyce in Pennsylvania is not doing well. That’s actually a massive understatement; she’s in the hospital and will soon be moving to the inpatient hospice area. Lori says the medical people said it probably won’t be days, but it could be weeks. Hopefully BAJ will reach a point where she can have hospice services at home. Right now she’s in a lot of pain and her quality of life is starting to suck. She told Lori on Wednesday that she feels she is ready to go.

Cancer. Started with breast cancer; now it’s everywhere.

My first thought is WHY HER? That’s what I just don’t get. BAJ lived the cleanest life imaginable—I doubt she’s ever had a drink and certainly never smoked and maybe I’ve heard her swear once. (Yes, she’s a blood relative—I know what you’re thinking.) On top of it all, she’s a goddamn pastor! Of all people to be suffering. Wouldn't you think God should be on her side?

I fucking hate cancer. God forgive me for saying “fuck” in a post about Beautiful Aunt Joyce, but I fucking hate cancer. Years ago you never heard of cancer like you do today. Hell, I think my first exposure was the movie Brian’s Song; Brian Piccolo was the first person I’d ever heard of having cancer and he wasn’t even someone I knew in real life. That was 1971; I was in junior high school before I even knew a thing about cancer! And now it’s fucking everywhere. WTF is going on???

So as I’m sitting here typing on a laptop computer, it’s hard not to think of all the amazing goddamn technological advances that have been made since that movie came out. It’s just hard to believe that with all the goddamn geniuses coming up with shit like the Internet and freakin’ iPhones that there’s not a single goddamn person walking this earth who’s smart enough to analyze some cells in a fucking petrie dish and discover a cure for cancer.

I mean, really--and all the fucking races to raise money for the cure and American Cancer Society this and that… and give, give, give… and don't even get me going on the New Age thinkers who’ll tell you that it’s your own feelings of resentment that in turn manifest themselves inward as cancer… they can just SUCK. MY. DICK.

Clearly, I’m in the anger stage. I so preferred denial.

Oh, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, you can suck my dick, too. If I had one.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Presentation at the library tonight

Hey, I know this hardly qualifies as a swinging time in Vegas, but if you’re a local and have no plans for tonight, come on over to the Clark County Library at 1401 E. Flamingo. I’m going to be a panelist on a “Meet the Authors” event at 6:30 in the Jewel Box Theater. A few of us will be talking about our experiences as contributors to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which is a good first step on the road to publication.

If you’re around, come out and say hello. For those of you who are not in the Vegas area but are interested in submitting a story to the series, check out the Chicken Soup call for story titles here. Don't delay—deadlines are approaching!

Hope to see you tonight!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back to reality after another fantastic weekend

Julie leaves this afternoon at 3:30 (Dar had to get back to California on Saturday), but for me, it’s back to reality today. In another hour or so, I’ll be returning to the prison-gray cubicle. Weh.

It really was a wonderful long weekend. Truly, I feel like I’ve known these girls forever. I wish Dar could have stayed longer, but Julie and I still somehow managed to have lots of fun. Saturday night beloved boyfriend took us out to dinner at the Elephant Bar in the District in Green Valley Ranch and then we went to Boulder Station to see the best classic rock band of all time, Yellow Brick Road. Julie won some money playing Blackjack, so bonus!

Sunday we floated around the pool in the morning (NO bathing suits shots of that, of course) and then made our way out to one of my favorite biker bars, the Mountain Springs Saloon outside of Vegas on the way to Parumph.

It was a good 10-15 degrees cooler up there in the hills, and to me, there’s nothing like drinking beer out in the sun while listening to good old rock and roll. And biker bars provide the best people watching opportunities, don’t you think? Check out this guy’s T-shirt. The sad part is, he kind of has a point, you know?

Afterward we stopped at Cactus Joe’s outside of Red Rock Canyon for a little shopping before heading to Red Rock casino for dinner. By the time we got home, we were exhausted and yep, the PJs were on by 9:00, when we settled in to watch an episode of Rescue Me. Julie shares my unhealthy obsession with Denis Leary, so you can be assured we had sweet dreams involving handcuffs and whipped cream that night.

Damn, I have to hop in the shower and get ready for work now, so I’ll send you over to Julie’s blog for details of our Monday adventures. (If she doesn’t post today because she’ll be traveling, she’ll have the full story and pictures tomorrow.) All I can say is that it was an absolute joy to meet Julie and Darlene and I am thrilled to have two new BFFs. Look at them--so freakin' cute!

We have so much in common and man, oh man, did we get in some serious and juicy girl talk. Nothing like it! I love them!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I LOVE them!!!

OMG, I absolutely love, love LOVE my blogging girlfriends! Just as expected, we are all like long-lost friends who've known each other forever.

That's Julie and Dar--aren't they adorable?

The girls are relaxing out on my balcony right now and we're going down to the pool soon, but I just wanted to steal a few minutes to post a couple of pictures.

Dar and I picked Julie up at the airport around 6:00 and we made a beeline to Green Valley Ranch. They had a good band in the showroom, but who cared? We had some girltalk to do.

After a while we decided to go back to my place for dinner. I made some eggplant parmesan Thursday night (I know--I cooked!), but the girls wanted salad (yuk) so we stopped at Whole Foods on the way home. As you know, the only things I buy at Whole Foods are my Young's Chocolate Stout beer and hair dye, so I patiently waited as they perused the produce.

Remember what my fridge looked like in last Saturday's post? How about this? Yep, that's my eggplant on the top shelf. Don't worry--the spotted dick is still in there.

Here are the girls making their healthy stinkin' salad. (I'm not a big salad girl, in case you don't know.)

Sorry I don't have any photos of our swinging Friday night. You see, by the time we finished dinner, it was well after 9:00 (midnight Julie's time) and we were happy to just hang out in my living room and continue our female bonding. So we got in our pajamas and... well, you know how it goes... somebody starts a pillow fight and before you know it we're all half-naked and kissing. Yeah, those are the pictures you really want to see, right?

Dar has to hit the road and head back to California this afternoon, but Julie and I have a rock and roll weekend on tap. I promise, we won't be in our PJs by 10:00 tonight!

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend, too!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coming soon: My blogging buddies

Well, tomorrow’s the big day—the blogging buddies’ meet-up. I finally get to see Julie (47 and Starting Over) and Darlene (Travel Girl) in the flesh! Julie’s flight arrives from Ohio at 6:15; Dar is driving to Vegas from California. I’m going to love them, because I feel like I know them already. You can’t read someone’s blog for months on end and not get a sense of what the person is like in real life.

Dar, I am sure, is the sweetest thing that ever walked this earth; she looks adorable in the pictures she’s posted on her blog. She’s a midwife who lovingly soothes laboring mothers and welcomes their babies into the world. How could she be anything but nice?

I am equally as certain that Julie is a whack job. Of course, I mean that in the most complimentary way and let’s not forget it takes one to know one. This chick is twisted and that’s exactly why I invited her for a visit in the first place. I’d say birds of a feather flock together, but like me, Julie has a wicked bird phobia and we don’t care for expressions like that.

There are other similiarites: We also can’t stand rap and hip-hop music (is there a difference?), have unhealthy obsessions with Denis Leary, and even arrange our closets in a similar manner. Here’s a picture Julie posted last week, displaying her practice of arranging her blouses according to color:

And here’s my collection of sleazy $7.99 tops from Ross Dress-for-Less:

According to color, of course. Scary, huh?

But there are a couple of ways in which I know we’re definitely not alike. A few years younger than I am, Julie is a big-haired girl who loves the 80s. To me that decade represents a big black mark on American culture. The music was horrible (save for U2 and Talking Heads), the fashions were fugly, and then only way I could have big hair with my anemic locks would be if I put on a Don King wig.

But the biggest way that we differ: I would never, ever be able to stay at someone’s house for four nights sight unseen.

[Now, Travel Girl (who’s staying only until Saturday evening—those babies know no holiday schedule), she’s has been all over the world and I know Dar’s slept in conditions that would make me shudder; my idea of roughing it is a Courtyard Marriott with a broken air conditioner. We’re not cut from the same cloth when it comes to that.]

No, I am way too Princess and the Pea to blindly stay at someone’s house. Seriously, I’d be broken out in hives and eczema wondering,

What if they have a dog? What if it starts licking me?
What if they have a cat?
What if they have a cat and they let it walk all over the kitchen counters?
What if they have a dog and they’re the type who pets the dog and then starts molding the hamburger patties?
What if they have a bird?
What if they have feather pillows and one of the feathers falls out and then I have to have somebody come in and get rid of it for me because I don’t touch feathers?
Okay, so you know I’m afraid of animals. But I have other worries; worries about food

What if they make scrambled eggs in the morning and they’re runny?
What if they use margarine and not butter?
What if they make tuna salad with chunk light tuna instead of solid white?
What if they don’t use Hellman’s mayonnaise? What if they’re (gulp) Miracle Whip people?
What if they use skim milk and not 2%? Even whole milk would be fine, but I’m sorry, skim milk is blue.
What if they put celery in everything?
What if they make something I don’t like the sound of, like soy?
Remember, this is coming from someone with spotted dick in her fridge.

Those brave girls! So maybe Julie’s not a whack job compared to me. Hmm… I wonder what questions are going through their heads right now

Stay tuned for the latest in Saturday’s post. But don’t expect it too early—we have a swinging Friday night planned!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Saturn hits 200K

I thought it would have happened on Saturday, but on Sunday my beloved 1996 Saturn with the dent in the roof passed the 200,000 mile mark.

Isn’t that awesome? You’re probably thinking, “Whew! Maybe now we’ll stop hearing about this bloody car,” but for me, this was one of those days of infamy I wrote about last month. Yep, right up there with the moon landing, Princess Di’s death, and the day they canceled Guiding Light. (I’m still in denial about that one.)

I’ll always remember exactly where I was when my when the odometer (that’s what it’s called, right?) hit 200K; as it turns out, we were on Auto Show Drive, almost right in front on the Saturn dealer! If it hadn’t been a Sunday, I would have marched myself in there for some public bragging.

Beloved boyfriend came over to film the milestone for me—as you can well imagine, this guy is a freakin’ saint. If you click here you can see the video. It looks like Katherine Hepburn is holding the camera, but I assure you, that’s a reflection on my driving ability, not his videography skills. It was a very exciting moment.

Yikes, I have a lot more to say, but I have to get off to work.

Long may you run!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Photos of Linda-Land (and how I stay so thin)

I’m so excited! Next week at this time, my blogging buddies Julie, of 47 and Starting Over fame, and Travel Girl Dar will be here in Las Vegas. Yay! They’re staying here with me in my apartment, which I’m totally psyched about because I love having company. Plus that gives me a good reason to super-clean without having to pretend that Princess Di and JFK, Jr. came back to life and are coming for dinner.

I haven’t met these girls before, but geez, you may ask, isn’t it risky to put up complete strangers? Hell, no! I’ve been reading their blogs for months and know I’m going to love them. If anything, they have more to worry about than I do.

You see, I’m not normal.

Don’t get me wrong, I am nice as hell—if you knew me in real life, you wouldn’t freakin’ LOVE me! I think my problem is that I’m not at all materialistic and therefore I don’t quite live like a fully grown-up adult.

Remember this picture of my living room?

Yeah, well, my kitchen isn’t any better. Let me give you a little more insight into Linda-Land. We’ll start with my refrigerator--visitors always have a field day with that.

Empty, I know, but in my defense, there’s usually a six-pack of Moose Drool or Young’s Chocolate Stout in there. I need to go grocery shopping. What’s that on the top shelf, you ask? Oh, that’s a can of spotted dick. My sister Lori gave me that for my 50th birthday. I would never eat it (aside from the fact that it’s a year and a half old); it’s just for show. Sometimes I bring it to work and leave it front and center in the fridge in the break room. For fun.

My freezer isn’t any better: cheese ravioli (my favorite food on earth), some shrimp stir-fry, and a bag of ice. I don’t know where that came from; I don’t use ice. Usually there’s ice cream in there, but I told you, I need to go shopping.

Here’s my food cupboard. Yes, that’s it. But in my defense, I usually have about four boxes of Organic Morning Light cereal on the top shelf—I told you, I need to go shopping. You’ll see, however, that I do have an ample supply of Healthy Request soup. And vitamins. I know--I’m a health nut, huh?

Sometimes when people come to my place, they get the big idea that they’re going to cook for me. They come home with bags of groceries and start flitting around my kitchen and then start asking ridiculous questions like, “Where do you keep your cheese grater?” or “Do you have a wisk?”

A wisk? Seriously?

And then they get all bent out of shape because I don’t have a sharp knife. I do have knives—look! They were a wedding present when my first husband and I got married in 1977. I’ve never actually sharpened them, though. But in my defense, hello? Does any of my food look like it actually needs to be cut?

Sometimes people ask if I have a cutting board, and you know what? I used to, but I swear it mysteriously disappeared about a year ago after some visitors came to stay. I like to think that maybe a well-meaning guest put it somewhere when emptying my dishwasher and I just haven’t been able to find it, but I really have looked for it and I can only conclude that after I become a famous author it will end up on eBay and someone will be sitting on a tidy little profit.

Okay, so whatever--I’m not normal. My boyfriend says he feels like he’s with a college student (which I take as a compliment). “Is that a futon?” he asked one night as we stood in my guestroom. “You’re so cute!” But in my defense, I’m just not materialistic. (BTW, my car is totally going to hit 200K today!!!)

I don’t care about things; I’d rather do stuff than have stuff. I mean, look at the outside of my refrigerator.

What a cool magnet collection of my travels, huh? See, sometimes it’s not what’s on the inside that counts.

Believe me, when I’m 102 years old, I am not going to look back and go, “Oh, man, my life would have been perfect if only I had a nicer couch that didn’t have a stain on it” or "Maybe I should have splurged for a soup ladle." No, I am gonna remember all the fun times and adventures I had with my family and my friends, like Julie and Dar.

If they’re still coming.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I guess I have to kick Mom’s ass

Remember how I told you about my trip to Boise last weekend, you know, for Mother’s Day? Well, on Tuesday morning, I got an anonymous comment. Now, normally I delete anonymous comments after reading just the first line because they’re usually from my crazy blog stalkers who have nothing better to do than pore over and lambaste every goddamn word I’ve ever posted, but I did read this one in its entirety:

So, a complete rundown on your trip to Boise? I think not. There is no mention of playing Scrabble with the old, demented seniors who live there. A little memory lapse, maybe, or just a bad dream? Hmmm...
Man, I was pissed! I moderate comments now and I rejected that thing in a nanosecond. I know I’ve talked about playing Scrabble in Boise before, and people can say whatever they want about me being all full of myself and who needs to see my sagging granny cleavage—I don’t give a shit—but to call my sweet Mick Jagger-lovin’ Mom and microbrew drinkin’ Stepdaddy “old demented seniors”?

I’ll kick your ass! But seriously, what kind of sick f*cking dickhead would say such a thing?

Oh. That sick f*cking dickhead was… my sweet Mick Jagger-lovin’ Mom.

Yeah, she's the one who posted that comment. Yeah, that was her way of reminding me that Saturday night… I lost at Scrabble.

I know! I never lose, but this time I came in third place! I had five i’s at one point—give me a break, for Christsake! But then when they were driving me to the airport Sunday afternoon, I got a brilliant idea.

Me: “Oh, my God! I had the craziest dream last night.”
Mom: “Really?”
Me: “Yeah, I dreamt that we were all playing Scrabble and I lost. Can you imagine?” [nervous laugh]
Mom: “Oh, my! That sounds like a nightmare.”
Whew, I thought. I totally passed the horror of my losing off as a dream! No, she’ll never remember that I actually came in third place.

But I guess she did remember after all.

Okay, Mom—looks like you’re still sharp. I guess it’s not time for the home just yet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WHAT??? Is Boise cooler than Las Vegas?

I had a really nice weekend in Boise. I went up there to spend Mother’s Day with Mom and Stepdaddy. Look at this cute little house they just bought. It’s perfect for them, don’t you think?

This is when I have to wonder why anyone would possibly be interested in seeing my mother’s new house, but I’ll betcha anything some of you actually are. Oh, hell… here’s one of Stepdaddy watching TV.

There. Now you've seen it. Pretty nice, huh?

Anyway, Saturday I helped move furniture around and unpacked some boxes and then Saturday night I dragged the folks to my favorite movie theater on earth: The Flicks in downtown Boise.

I’ve told you about The Flicks before. It’s a funky place that shows independent films, but the best part of all is… well, take a look at what they have in their concession stand.

Can you believe all those lovely microbrews? They also serve baked goods and other stuff, and oh yeah, popcorn. I’m telling you, this is the coolest place! If you get there early, you can sit out on their patio before your show starts. Here’s Mom, with her big-ass tub of popcorn, and Stepdaddy, with his Black Butte Porter. (Mine is in the foreground.)

So my question is, why the hell can’t we have a place like this in Las Vegas? Not that I have to have a beer every waking moment, but there is something very cool about enjoying a nice dark microbrew while you’re watching a movie. I mean, this is Sin City, for Christsakes! But the saddest thing is, we don’t even have a theater here dedicated to independent films. Sure, a few of the chains have a couple of screens for the art-house types, but it’s not the same.

I hate to say this, but I am seriously starting to think Boise is cooler than Las Vegas. Boise! I know, it’s full of Mormons and there’s nobody darker than an Italian, but they have a neat little downtown area with lots of coffeehouses, bars, shops, and restaurants, and… okay, this is the tipping point. Yesterday I saw on Pollstar that Sonic Youth, one of my favorite bands to see live, will be playing in Boise on July 23.

Are they coming to Las Vegas? NO!

This is pissing me off. I saw Sonic Youth at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay a few years ago, but do you think they could make a stop here on this tour? I’ve also seen Lucinda Williams a couple of times at the House of Blues, but next month beloved boyfriend and I will have to travel to Mesa, Arizona, to see her because she’s not stopping in Las Vegas, either. (I’ll make the best of it--we’re planning a nice weekend in Sedona. Schwing!) And remember, we had to travel to Phoenix last month to see Leonard Cohen.

My point is, I can see Cher or Tom Jones or Barry Bloody Manilow anytime I want. Or—God help us—the Spin Doctors are coming to town on May 21. As if.

So Boise is surpassing Las Vegas in coolness, and it’s even rubbing off on Mom. Sunday morning I got out of the shower to find her grooving to a broadcast of Farm Aid on Direct TV. John Mellencamp was performing.

Me: “He‘s in great shape, don’t you think? Especially since he has to be about 57 or 58.”
Mom: ”Yeah, but who’s that little rat that moves all over the stage?”
Me: ”Mom, do not tell me you’re referring to Bruce Springsteen as ‘that little rat.’”
Mom: ”No, no! You know, the little rat that praces all around.”
Me: ”Oh, Mick Jagger?”
Mom: "Yeah, Mick Jagger. I like him. I’d love to go to his concert.

Well, she'll have to come down to Vegas to see the Rolling Stones since they're still playing the venues here. But maybe I can turn her on to Sonic Youth.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another excerpt from Bastard Husband: A Love Story

Ever wonder, “Who the hell is this chick Linda Lou”?

Sure you can tell from this blog that I’m kind of a whack job, but to give you some insight into the early days, I thought I’d post an excerpt from my soon-to-be-released book, Bastard Husband: A Love Story.

So where does the book stand, anyway? Right now I have a few odds and ends to send to the designer, such as endorsement blurbs, my bio, back cover text, author’s note, copyright page and acknowledgements. Then I have to review the galleys. Once the changes are m ade, it gets sent to the printer. I would love to have it in your hands by July 1, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. Everything in its right time. I think you’ll like it, though. Well, most of you.

Here goes…

I grew up in Albany, New York, where I lived for the first forty-three years of my life. I’m the oldest of five kids spaced over a fourteen-year period, which means I was in ninth grade when my little sister was born. My mother and the girl who sat next to me in French class were pregnant at the same time. Yuk.

Maybe because she always had a new baby to be home with, Mom became increasingly comfortable staying in the house, eventually to the point where she couldn’t leave. She developed agoraphobia and was often doped up on “nerve pills,” which kept her sacked out on the couch for most of the day, waking up for only two things: Jeopardy and the weather during the six o’clock news. Considering she never left the house, the obsession with the weather seemed a bit peculiar. Perhaps she wondered, “Will I need the heavy afghan over me tomorrow or just a light cotton blanket?”

My father, like his father, worked as a salesman for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, a job he hated but held until after his parents died. Once they were gone, he pursued a position more in line with his natural talent—he became a bus driver. Daddy loved driving the bus. “I don’t work,” he’d brag, “I drive other people to work.” He’d sign up for all the overtime he could, no doubt to get out of the house since my mother never left it. Work was the one place Daddy could get some peace and quiet, and in an effort to reduce the passenger load, he’d sometimes ask the riders, “Have you ever thought of buying a car? Everyone has a car these days.” They’d laugh at his good-natured ribbing, but I’m sure he would have dropped them off at the auto showroom had one been on his route.

So in our house, we had five kids, two parents, and one bathroom, where my father lived when he was home. He’d head upstairs with the paper, his coffee, the racing forms… strip down to his boxer shorts and T-shirt… and settle in. And if we had to pee before his next work shift, it was too goddamn bad. Good thing he wasn’t around much, because by now we’d all be hooked up to dialysis machines. I remember no matter how desperately you had to go, you never wanted to be first in line once he finished up, for the ensuing stench was the most vile combination of shit and Old Spice you could possibly imagine. Daddy died four years ago, sitting on the toilet. Surely it was the law of averages.

As for me, I was a shy and quiet child, a bookworm with big dreams, mostly of escaping from the nuthouse. At age eight, I wrote a letter to whomever I thought was in charge of the TV show Bonanza suggesting they write in a part for a younger sister, to be played by me, of course. I offered some possible storylines and assured them that although I had never actually been on a horse, I was certainly willing to learn. In response, I received a colored glossy photo signed by all the Cartwright men, but alas, no offer of an acting contract.

A year later, I sent Johnny Carson a few of my favorite jokes, fantasizing about how the audience would roar when he opened his monologue with, “How did Captain Hook die? … He wiped himself with the wrong hand!” Fancying myself as quite mature for my age, and to address Johnny’s older, late-night demographic, I also included what I thought was a solid demonstration of my ability to write adult humor: “What’s pink and squishy and lies at the bottom of the ocean? Moby’s Dick!”

Those were my first experiences with rejection, which even back then I regarded not as a reflection of my own shortcomings, but the result of someone else’s regrettable lack of insight.

Once I hit high school I grew more outgoing and my studies became secondary to my social life. I was captain of the cheerleaders, vice president of my senior class, and my popularity continued into college, where I enjoyed the party culture of Plattsburgh State University, a school nestled in the tundra twenty miles from the Canadian border. I joined the campus radio station (I was one of the first female disc jockeys on the air), and earned my drinking money modeling for art classes, one of the many facts of campus life I conveniently withheld from my parents.

Things changed soon after the end of my freshman year. Gary Krisanda, one of my high school boyfriends, drowned Memorial Day weekend of 1976. His death marked the saddest point of my life. I needed answers: Why did this happen? Where is he now? I searched for explanations in books on the afterlife and psychic phenomena, something in which I had an interest going back to fifth grade. I remember waking up one Sunday morning with a feeling of unexplained certainty that one of my idols, Helen Keller, had died. The front page of the morning newspaper confirmed my premonition. The experience stayed with me, and my school term-papers invariably involved ESP, the paranormal and the occult, which concerned my mother to the point that she’d stay awake long enough to review my compositions.

By the time the bicentennial came around, I had met Chris Blackwell, a cool-looking, laid-back musician type. I thought he was a gift from above to help me cope with my immeasurable grief over Gary’s death. Chris and I were married in November 1977, and after a miraculous three-month pregnancy we had our first child, Christopher Jackson, named after singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. I remember calling my parents to say I’d started labor and was heading to the hospital. My father offered a tender bit of advice, words that remain with me to this day: “Good luck,” he said, “and don’t go home empty-handed.” Twelve and a half months later Chris and I had a daughter, Courtney Lynne (named after nobody). I was twenty-one.

Starting a family that young means you begin your adult life in a financial hole. We struggled for years on end, dodging creditors and living paycheck-to-paycheck while I finished my undergraduate education and then grad school. But we set family vacations as a top priority, always finding the money to take the kids camping in the Adirondacks or sometimes we’d splurge for a motel room over in Hampton Beach. We’d pack up the Subaru, praying that whatever lurked behind the flashing “Service Engine Soon” light would hold off until we got back home. Oil changes were not in the budget.

Although we were supposed to be grown-ups, we continued to live like students, right down to hosting the periodic beer parties, complete with blasting music that sometimes prompted the Albany Police to pay us a visit per the request of a justifiably angry neighbor. The kids, about six and seven years old at the time, loved to play bartender, carefully filling our guests’ plastic cups from the keg. Thrilled with the tips their patrons would offer, they eagerly promoted refills in total oblivion to the consequences of DWI legislation.

Our home décor consisted of posters of rock stars and treasures Chris would find on the curb on trash night. Nearly all our furniture came from relatives who had died or gone into nursing homes. We even bought our house (with the help of some very creative financing) from Chris’s great aunt, who went off to live in an assisted living facility.

Maintaining an old colonial with a bathroom that should have been remodeled two generations before further strained our budget. Chris found a way to rig up a shower by running plastic tubing from the sink, a temporary fix that lasted about ten years. The old stove required pliers to turn the gas on and off, which mortified the kids as they got older and had friends over for dinner.

Our poor kids. Most of their classmates lived in houses that seemed, well . . . more adult. Their couches didn’t need to be covered with Indian bedspreads. They had new patio furniture, while the rickety chairs on our front porch looked straight off the set of Sanford and Son. Yet despite the lack of material assets, the kids seemed thrilled with the parents they were born to, just as I was, as crazy as that may sound.

After eighteen years together—half my life—Chris and I split up. Seeking to understand my role in the failure of our marriage, I immersed myself in books by New Age thinkers such as Louise Hay and Deepak Chopra. My readings helped me gain perspective, and throughout the years, Chris and I have remained on friendly terms. Together we welcomed our precious grandson, Connor Burns, the day after Christmas 1998, with Courtney, at age nineteen, evidently continuing the family tradition of reproducing while the eggs are still fresh. And while I felt concern about her ability to handle the challenges of motherhood at such a young age, I trusted the divine order of the universe and knew everything was perfect.

I’m not so sure I trust the divine order of the universe right now.

That last line is indicative of my spirit at the time the story takes place, in 2004. I had just moved to Las Vegas after my divorce from BH and was sad and just freakin’ miserable.

Much. Better. Now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

10 Reasons to Go to JazzFest Next Year

Okay, I promise this will be the last I talk about JazzFest for a while. I can’t help it, though; I just know that a lot of you love music as much as I do (Barbara, Debbie… I’m talkin’ to you) and so I want to do my best to convince you to check it out next year.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival takes place at the same time every year—the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May. The lineup is usually posted sometime in January, so that gives you plenty of time to decide which weekend you want to attend and plan accordingly. (My sister Lori and I swear that some year we’ll make it both weekends.)

So here we go with my Top 10 reasons why you must go to JazzFest next year:

1. The music (duh). And it’s not just about jazz! I’m a 13-year veteran of this festival and I don’t even freakin’ like jazz. There are about 10 stages set up around the fairgrounds/racetrack (not too far from the French Quarter). You have the jazz tent, the gospel tent, the blues tent, and the main stage where the mainstream artists play.

I took these pictures of Neil Young off the jumbo screen. He was amazing! I didn’t recognize the song he started out with, but when he kicked into Cinnamon Girl, the crowd went wild.

He played lots of favorites: Down by the River; My, My; Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere; Are You Ready for the Country; an extended version of Magic Touch; Heart of Gold; Old Man; The Needle and the Damage Done; Rockin in the Free World… His final encore was the Beatles’ A Day in the Life and at the end he just went f*cking nuts pulling out the strings of his guitar and shaking the goddamn thing.

Incredible. I wish you were there.

There’s also a smaller mainstream stage on the other end (which I didn’t get to at all this year), at least one in the middle, a Congo Square stage, and my favorite: the Fais-Do-Do stage, which features homegrown zydeco and Cajun acts.

That's zydeco Mike on the washboard. I've seen him play with some other bands. Good times!

2. Beignets and café au lait in the gospel tent. This is tradition for us. Every morning we pick up our order from the Café du Monde vendor and have breakfast while listening to gospel singers. Yum.

We had a real treat during Saturday's breakfast. Look—these people got married at JazzFest!

3. The rest of the food. There are rows of vendors selling the most delicious grub (and I’m not even a food person). I love the crawfish Monica, but you’ll have your favorite.

4. The prices. Ticket range from about $43- $50 per day, depending on how you order them. NOT BAD considering the festival runs from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. each day. That’s like $6 an hour for the best entertainment on earth! The food is also priced reasonably—a big bowl of Monica was $7. Beer was $4 for Miller and Miller Lite and $5 for Fosters. Yeah, no good dark beer for this beer snob, but I can get down a Miller Lite in an emergency, and I did manage to have a few. (I know you saw my beer coozie necklace on Tuesday’s post, which you can purchase at the fest.) The thing is, except for the tents, there’s no shade and it can be hot as hell, so you really don’t want to drink too much. I think water was $3 and they do allow you to bring a liter in with you.

5. You get in your exercise. Don’t feel bad about all you eat and drink--you’re on your feet all day walking around and if you’re like me, you’ll be dancing your ass off. That’s the most fun way to burn calories—better than friggin’ Buns of Steel (sore subject)!

6. The craft vendors. Oh, man, I bought three hippie dresses and a cute little pocketbook—funky things I’d never be able to find in Vegas. Most of the shopping is within earshot of a stage, so you won’t have to miss any music.

7. The crowd. JazzFest people are awesome—you feel like you’re partying with 80,000 of your best friends. You see people of all ages; I’d say about 80 percent of the crowd is between 30 and 60, with 20 percent older and younger. Age and race don’t matter. Tattoos are everywhere. You don’t have to fret about what you’re wearing (although you do see a lot of cute sundresses and funky outfits). By the end of the day everyone looks like hell anyway. Look—I’m not wearing lipstick in this picture, and I don’t even care!

People are considerate and polite, and you never see anyone trashed or even tipsy. This is a crowd of nice, really behaved folks. The best people out there.

8. The festival is extremely well run. This year was the 40th anniversary—these people know what they’re doing. The music starts and ends on time. They have a general store in case you need batteries or sunscreen (yikes—you definitely need that) and there are plenty of medical personnel on hand who will even give you a Band-Aid for a blister. Security is non-intrusive (nothing like those a-holes in yellow shirts I used to see at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center). This event hums along.

9. You get in your primal scream therapy. It’s only a matter of time till you hear some performer command, SOMEBODY SCREAM!!! Instead of my usual concert, “Whooooooo!” I let out a tonsil-wavering “abduction scream” to the amusement my family and friends. My voice is shot at the moment, but it sure felt good at the time.

10. It’s all perfect. I’ve probably told you a million times that the universe unfolds in divine order, and sometimes that’s hard to believe. But when you’re at JazzFest in the middle of a swarm of zydeco dancers listening to the best music on earth, eating the best food, and grooving on the vibe… well, you can’t help but know that everything is indeed perfect. Even when you’re drinking shitty beer.

And don't forget--you're in New Orleans! Stay an extra day or two to check out the town.

So have I convinced you? Huh?

I’m just planting the seed now; I’ll start nagging you about it in full force next February. And as my two ex-husbands, current boyfriend, countless ex-boyfriends, two wonderful kids and blogging BFF Hurricane Mikey will tell you, I’m a hell of a nag. But it’s all for your own good.

So will I see you there next year? Huh?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Living-Las-Vegas article: Pioneer Saloon

Hey, my latest article posted yesterday on It's about the Pioneer Saloon down in Goodsprings, Nevada. That's the biker bar I was telling you about a few weeks ago.

You know, just in case you need something to do at work today...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Photos from JazzFest


I just got back to Vegas about an hour ago. What a time we had down in New Orleans! I'm just going to post some pictures for now, but will give the full report on Thursday. I'm too tired to write much and have to be back in my cubicle in 7 hours. Weh.

My sister Lori and I have a million JazzFest pictures that look like this.

The two Donnas. Donna on the left is my friend from Vegas. Lori and I have known Donna on the right for 45 years. She's cute as a button, that one. And she's a new grandmother!

Here I am with my friend Jerry. I met him when I was in grad school; we both had shows on WRPI. He lives in New Orleans now.

It doesn't look that crowded in these pictures, but it was packed on Saturday. I've never seen it like that. I think Bon Jovi was a big draw.

I saw this guy Sunday morning in the gospel tent. He gets the best t-shirt award. Too bad Dewey Cox wasn't playing at JazzFest!

I can't wait to tell you about Neil Young's set. In short: OMFG! He was amazing.

Can you tell I was having a good time? I bought that dress from one of the vendors and changed right there on the spot. I also bought two other ones. You can't find hippie clothes in Vegas, so I had to get while the gettin' was good.

I danced my ASS off at the Fais-Do-Do stage. My legs were aching!

Here's Lori and her husband, Russ. This guy is a saint. Would you want to stay in a hotel room with four women (and one of them's me)? Yeah, we all packed in together like college kids. It's more fun that way.

Look--I had the whole row to myself on the flight home. Awesome!

Even though I almost broke my neck in those shoes a couple of weeks ago on my stairs, they're really comfortable. I walked all over the French Quarter in them.

I have lots to tell you and more pictures to post. But the short version is, it was fantastic--another successful JazzFest!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Great time so far at JazzFest

I'm writing from the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott in Metarie, just outside of New Orleans. We had a great day at JazzFest yesterday. The weather was perfect JazzFest weather--warm and breezy with some cloud cover, which was great because other than the music tents, there's no shade and you're out in the sun for hours and hours.

We started the day off with cafe au lait and bengiets in the gospel tent, which is always a fabulous scene. I've NEVER seen it so crowded here, and this is my 13th JazzFest. Bon Jovi was the big draw yesterday. He doesn't appeal much to me and Lori, but the two Donnas are totally into him and I have to admit he's an extremely good looking guy, so I did enjoy watching him. Lori and I left that stage early to catch the O Jays and then we wandered over to my favorite stage, Fais-Do-Do, where C.J. Chenier was playing some crazy zydeco. That's the stuff I love.

We'll be leaving soon for another music-filled day. Neil Young is playing on the main stage from 3-5, and you know I'll be there! I'll post lots of pictures when I get back on Tuesday.