Monday, June 29, 2009

Yeah, I'm a man magnet

Had enough of listening to me spoutin’ off? Then you’re in luck. I have a guest blogger on tap for today—my beloved boyfriend, Mike. I know many of you have checked out his website and thought, “Oh, man, I can’t wait to hear more from this guy.” But if you’re expecting further insight into one of his smarty-pants mathematical solutions, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed; I told him he could be a guest blogger only if he promised to write in plain English.

So without further ado…

My girlfriend, the man magnet

Linda and I had a fantastic time last weekend. We went to a house party that hosted various Las Vegas Strip musicians and vocalists who performed jazz and R&B throughout the night.

The beer was great, the music was fantastic and my companion was perfect; perhaps too perfect.

Upon arriving we were greeted by my friend Rochelle who looked surprised and asked, “Hey Mike, how’d you know about this party?”

“Well, Rochelle, you invited me. Remember?”

I couldn’t look at Linda. Linda has a billion friends and I have only six--three if you don’t count my kids and now two if you don’t count Rochelle.

“Oh, that’s right,” she said. “Well, have fun.”

OK, no problem, I remained calm. Linda went out back to put the beer we brought in the cooler and I surveyed the food offerings. After a short conversation with the guy who made the chicken, I looked for Linda and but had trouble spotting her. I wedged my way through a small crowd that had formed toward the backdoor – and there she was. Now get this: having her picture taken with some guy whom she met only 30 seconds prior. (The faces herein have been changed to protect the guilty.)

“You’re really beautiful,” one douche bag slurred. (I will be using “douche bag” often, so I will henceforth abbreviate to “DB.”)

“This is my boyfriend,” she chimed.

He looked in my direction. “Oh? Well, she is really beautiful.”

“Yeah, I know. You see, Medusa was busy feeding her snakes so I thought I’d break with tradition and bring someone pretty.” That was met with daft stares and beer drool. Still calm.

Well, that had actually happened to us before, one night at Green Valley Ranch, so I was somewhat conditioned. I safely escorted her to the back yard and sat down. That’s when DB2 found Linda. Now this creep, who was with a date, found it necessary to speak so close to her face that I was concerned Linda may have been deprived of ambient oxygen and become asphyxiated. Linda tacitly assured me the situation was under control and I decided to get some more beer as hers was empty. Of course, when I returned he had decided that my seat, next to Linda, would give him a better vantage for discussion about his life, his women and other stuff. I asked him to move, which he did begrudgingly. I’m calm, mostly.

Wow, we're there for five minutes and I’m like the Secret Service guarding the First Lady. We finally get to enjoy the music.

After a while, I excused myself to make use of the facilities, and when I returned what did I find? Linda has danced with DB3. Yes, yet another jackal had decided to prey on poor defenseless Linda. Still calm, and even amused and flattered, I asked Linda to identify DB3 and she pointed to the backdoor. I wondered how the short bald-headed guy with a walker could muster a dance, but I decided to confront him anyway. “No, honey, I was dancing with the big black guy behind him; the saxophone player.” No longer calm--OMFG, 6’5” by 6’5”. In a sudden and unusual show of mercy I decided to spare this bloke and take the higher road (mostly because the lower road probably would have led to stitches and a splint).

This, believe it or not, is a typical date with Linda. And yes, everyone lived.
Um, yeah… that’s probably a pretty accurate account. Except I had a picture taken with yet another guy—I don’t know how Mike missed this one. What can I say? I make friends easily!

Of course, this is all in good fun, and the men in the photos were lovely guys and not at all douche-baggy. We had a fantastic time! And Mike forgot to tell you that chicks dig me, too, though that’s a topic for some other post. Whatever. We’ll just let the record show that my smile is widest when this handsome devil is next to me.

Geez... do I have to cheer up or what?

I know, all this being-in-love crap has got to be wearing thin on some of you, and right about now my readers who hate me are hating me even more, but please just be happy for me. When my book, Bastard Husband: A Love Story comes out, you’ll see I deserve it.

Photos by John Kaye, singer/songwriter.

My latest Living-Las-Vegas article

Looking for a little something extra to read today? Check out my latest article, which posted this morning. It's about my experience as a hospice volunteer here in Las Vegas. Sound depressing? It's not--you know I can find the humor in anything.

If you'd like to leave a comment (and they are very much appreciated), please leave it over there--that will endear me to the site's publishers! As always, thanks for your continued readership. XOXO

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Best. Party. Ever.

I’m happy to see that, judging from the comments you left on my last post, I’m not the only one who prefers not to start a vacation with an escalated blood pressure reading. Yes, allowing a cushion of time when leaving for the airport is definitely a good idea. And a relationship saver.

Courtney and John’s party was an absolute blast. You know how you have one of those days that you wish you could just live over and over? Last Saturday was one of those days for me.

Just like their perfect wedding (planned in just one week’s time), their celebration party was done on a shoestring budget. Courtney and her fairy godmother, my dear friend Susan, went shopping at the dollar store and picked up all sorts of cool decorations and paper products.

Yeah, that's the tap for the beer keg on the right. Notice how everything matches the color scheme of the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale label? No coincidence.

The party was held in Conkling Hall in Rensselaerville, NY--the same place where John's parents had their wedding reception over 40 years ago. This is how it looked before all hell broke loose.

The tablecloths and vases are, of course, from the dollar store. Florist? Forget it--Courtney picked the flowers that morning.

The party was to begin at 2:00; here's my princess at about 1:15. Her goal was to be in the shower by 1:30. (How soon before her flight do you think she arrives at the airport?)

But Courtney walks with the angels, as we always say, and she did shower and make it back by 2:00 as planned, looking gorgeous as ever.

Court got this dress from Macy's and she really likes it, so unlike her wedding dress from the Deb Shoppe, I don't think she'll be returning it. I told you about that, remember?

Soon the guests started filing in. Here's a funny picture of my son, Christopher, with my ex-mother-in-law, Virginia.

Yeah, they're both standing. Don't they look like something out of the Guinness Book of World Records? (Mmmmm... Guinness.) Christopher is the sweetest person on earth, and I'm not just saying that because I'm his mother.

Here's Courtney and her two grandmothers. That's my mother on the right.

Wow... who's this good looking couple?

I was happy that all my family and friends got to meet beloved boyfriend, and I was especially happy that he didn't run like hell when Courtney called him "Stepdad." That's a good sign, though--she won't be peeing in his shampoo.

Everyone brought a dish for the buffet--no need for a caterer when you have lots of friends willing to do the cooking for you, right? And no need to hire a band, either, when half the people there are musicians. After everyone ate, the jam session began.

That's John, Courtney, and Christopher on guitars; my grandson, Connor, is the lighting technician. There is nothing that makes me happier than watching my kids play together. They each write their own songs, but weave in a cover tune now and then. My eyes watered up when my little Joni Mitchell sang "You Are My Sunshine"--if you read this post, you'll know why.

The music was fabulous and went on for hours as one musician after another went up to jam. One of the highlights was toward the end when the stage was filled with these talented young folks playing the best version of "I Shall Be Released" I've ever heard. Reminded me of the final song in The Last Waltz.

Everything was perfect and everyone had a great time. I shake my head when I think of how much money people spend these days on weddings. Who needs fancy matchbooks when you can give out homemade beer and CDs as party favors?

Nope, nothing could make me happier.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting there is half the fun

In my last post, I asked whether you’re the type of traveler who arrives at the airport with plenty of time to spare or if rushing to the gate at the last minute is more your style.

Being late is stressful to me, and I freak out in double time if I think I’m going to be late for a flight, so as a result, I like to leave my place here in Henderson two hours before take off. Yes, I know I’m only 15 minutes from the airport, but because I’m “frugal,” I have to allow time to find a parking spot in the economy lot, take the shuttle to the terminal, check in, go through security, get my USA Today and People/Us/OK!/Star magazines (depending who’s on the cover), have a beer and make new friends in the bar, pee, and then get to my gate 10 minutes before we board. That’s my little ritual.

I had a feeling my beloved boyfriend is the type who, while I’m yakking it up with fellow travelers over a Guinness, is just getting out of the shower. And so, when he asked what time he should pick me up at work last Thursday for our 1:55 flight to Albany, I told him noon, even though my office is a mere five minutes from the airport.

“Noon?” he asked. “I have some errands to do in the morning.”

“Alright, 12:30,” I said, figuring maybe for once I could give in a little, even though I hate giving in as much as I hate compromising.

Mensa Man’s a smart guy, so he arrives at my office a few minutes early and we’re on our way, with time to spare. Let the adventure begin… our first trip together involving air travel. My family is finally going to get to meet my amazing boyfriend. Yay!

“Do you have your license?” I ask, seconds after we leave the parking lot. As the words come out of my mouth, I feel kind of bad because it’s such a no-duh question and I don’t want him to think I’m a nag or anything because I’m a changed woman and I don’t nag anymore.

But… no. As a matter of fact, he does NOT have his license. His license is in his wallet, which is… back at his house. In Henderson. Fifteen minutes from the airport.

“No problem,” I calmly say. “We’ll just go back and get it.” And because I’m a changed woman and so in love with this guy, what I didn’t say was,

Are you f*cking kidding me? You have an IQ of 500 and you forgot your f*cking wallet?”
And then, because I’m a changed woman and I’m not sarcastic anymore, what I didn’t say was,

Are you f*cking kidding me? You have an IQ of 1000 and you’re taking the goddamn surface streets instead of the highway? Seriously?
At 12:55 I’m sitting outside his house while he runs in to fetch his wallet. A mere hour before our flight.

The good news is, this guy is the most amazing driver I’ve ever seen in my life. “We’ll be at the airport in six minutes,” he promises, but I don’t believe him. There’s no way we can make it that quickly. No freakin’ way. But because I’m a changed woman, I don’t say a word. I sit in the passenger seat and smile.

He breaks a hundred traffic laws getting us there, and I swear I cover my eyes as we careen down the 215, but we get to the airport from Henderson in six freakin’ minutes.

At that point, economy parking is out of the question, so I direct him to the long-term garage, where there are two lanes dispensing tickets. Except one is obstructed with an orange construction cone, so we drive up to the open lane.

It’s out of tickets.

There are no f*cking tickets left in the goddamn ticket dispenser. Which also means there is no getting through the gate to the garage.

Cars begin to line up in back of us, the drivers wondering what the hell the problem is. Fortunately, no one dares to beep their horn, which saves them from my wrath because I would have ripped their f*cking heads off. Mensa Man gets on the phone next to the empty f*cking ticket dispenser and asks whoever answered to come and rectify the situation. For two minutes I practice my yoga “calm blue sea” mantra before a guy on a bicycle rides over and opens the closed lane.

So we finally get a goddamn ticket and drive into the garage. No parking spots on this level… or the next… or the next… or the next… Not until we snake our way up to the roof do we find an open space. By this time, I’m resigned to the fact that there’s no way we can make our flight and it’s a good thing beloved boyfriend has his wallet because he’s going to need it to get us on a later one. But I am still the picture of serenity, spouting crap like, “It’s all good; the universe unfolds in divine order,” and “This must be happening for a reason,” because, you know, I’m a changed woman because I’m so in love and I don’t fly off the handle anymore.

As we approach the ticket counter, I’m positive we’re way too late to check our bags, but the attendant takes them and tells us we’ll still make the flight. Of course, I don’t believe her.

There’s no line at security so I thank God until I hear, “Excuse me, ma’am. You’ve been selected for a random check.”

You have got to be f*cking kidding me. This is f*cking bullshit. I’ve never been randomly checked in my life and you gotta pull this f*cking bullshit now?
That’s what I would have said. But I’m a changed woman and I want my boyfriend to think that I’m breezy and easy going, so I don’t say a word. I let the TSA woman pat me down and wand me over as I try to suppress my heaving chest. Calm blue f*cking sea.

Finally she’s done with her ritual. But where’s Mensa Man? Oh, beautiful. He’s been caught behind me. Another TSA woman is going through his backpack and she is most certainly not in a rush.

Hurry up, you stupid f*cking retarded b*tch!
That’s what I would have said, but because my boyfriend still thinks I’m a nice person… oh, fuck it, at that point I figured there's no way we’d make it to the gate on time anyway so why bother wasting perfectly good obscenities?

My beloved won’t give up. “Come on, we can still make it!” he cries.

As we run to the gate, I come this close to spraining my ankle in my three-inch Spring/Summer 2009 platforms that I always wear because the extra height makes me look thinner, and…

… we make it.

In fact, they’re just starting to board. I not only have time to grab a celebrity rag, but I have time to pee, too. Amazing. It’s all good. Maybe the universe really does unfold in divine order. I turn to beloved boyfriend and say,

“You are so buying me a cocktail on this flight.”
I’m not that much of a changed woman.

There are lessons to learn here, but the one lesson I hope my boyfriend doesn’t learn is that it’s okay to pick me up a half hour later than I suggest; I can’t handle that kind of stress. And of course, the lesson for me is that there’s really no need to be so neurotic about leaving such a huge cushion of time. Even though we left Henderson an hour before our flight, even with the ticket and security snafus, we still made it on time.

But I hate learning lessons. Just like I hate giving in and I hate compromising.

As it turns out, we made it to Albany no problem. Beloved boyfriend so thoughtfully had gone out and bought us each a pair of noise-reducing headphones, which he hooked up to two little connected DVD players so we could watch a movie together during the long flight. It was awesome! But I still haven’t told you about Courtney and John’s party, so come back on Saturday, okay?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back in Vegas!

Just got back to Las Vegas--a day later than expected. We were supposed to fly out of Albany Monday night, but our plane was delayed due to mechanical problems and we would have missed our connection, so we got a bonus night. (U.S. Air even put us up in a hotel, which was good.)

I have a LOT to tell you, but right now I'm freakin' exhausted so I'll just say that Courtney and John's party was a blast--so much fun and the music was incredible. My kids, friends, and the rest of my family absolutely adored my boyfriend. As for me, I love him even more than before, which is kind of a miracle since this is the first guy I've spent six consecutive days with in years (and I mean we were together almost every minute of every day). But it was great! We had a truly amazing time.

Thursday's post will feature the full run-down, complete with pictures (none after my second beer, of course). In the meantime--and this is kind of a hint of how Thursday's post will start out--I have a question for you:

Are you one of those people who likes to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare before your flight?

Or do you see no point in getting there early and prefer to breeze in as close to your departure time as possible?

Just curious. Let me know...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Why I should never drink again

Well, here's one good reason:

Jeeee-sus! I mean, how many freakin' chins does one person need?

"Cloris Leachman called; she wants her cleavage back."

But wouldn't that make a funny Linked-In profile picture?

That was taken when I was down in New Orleans for JazzFest last month. You'd think such evidence would put an end to all my carousing, but no, I'll be partying again today at Courtney and John's bash in Rensselaerville. Yeah, I'm somebody's granny.

New rule: No photos after the second beer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Heading back to Albany... It's PARTY TIME!

This afternoon beloved boyfriend and I are catching a flight to Albany for Courtney and John's wedding party bash. If you're new to my blog, back in February, my precious daughter gave me a WHOLE WEEK'S notice that she was getting married. (And she wasn't even pregnant--go figure. So much for family traditions.) Everything worked out amazingly--you can read everything you could ever want to know about this neo-hippie child of mine, and her beautiful wedding, here.

Anyway, the wedding was an intimate occasion, but the big blowout is on Saturday in the tiny hamlet of Rensselaerville, which is out in the middle of nowhere, about 30 miles from Albany. (My downstate readers no doubt think that Albany is out in the middle of nowhere.) Both Courtney and John are singer-songwriters, and John is in a fabulous band called Red Haired Strangers (awesome freakin' band), so it's going to be a day of live music. My son, Christopher, who's also a songwriter, and the kids' dad, Chris, are sure to be part of the jam session as well.

It's going to be an informal event (duh). Check out the postcard invitations they sent out:

Cute, huh? Git off mah propertee er I'll shoot ewe up with this here shotgun!

I am psyched out of my mind! Lots of my old friends will be there and I can't wait for everyone to meet my man. I know they're going to love him--no worries there. And good thing, because if Courtney doesn't like someone, there's hell to pay. She may be all about peace and love, but I happen to know that she once peed in the shampoo bottle of a certain someone who rubbed her the wrong way. (Thank God my ex doesn't read this blog.)

Hey, I recently raided Court's Facebook photos. Here are a few of their honeymoon. They went to see John's parents on their sailboat in Florida.

Hard to believe such a pretty girl would pee in somebody's shampoo bottle, huh?

More adventures to come. Lots more...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review of our weekend at the Boulders Resort

Hey, with everything going on lately, I realize I never got a chance to tell you about the weekend beloved boyfriend and I spent down in Arizona. The purpose of our trip was a Lucinda Williams concert on Saturday, May 30, at the Mesa Arts Center.

Remember this post about our last trip to Arizona when we stayed at the Cottonwood Resort in Scottsdale? Remember how the photos on their website compared to the photos I took?

Well, the Cottonwood actually ended up being quite okay, but this time we decided to try out another place—the Boulders Resort in Carefree, just north of Scottsdale. This is a Waldorf Astoria property, so our expectations were high. The guard at the front gate, the woman who checked us in, and the guy who drove us to our casita in a golf cart did not disappoint--all demonstrated superior customer service.

Our casita looked exactly like this photo from their website, so no surprises there.

It was nice and roomy enough, and the bed was the best I’d ever “slept” in. (TMI, sorry.) (But so true.) The bathroom area was enormous, with a giant closet, vanity, dual sinks, huge tub, and separate stall shower.

But this part was a surprise.

Seriously, a Hoss Cartwright swinging saloon door to the toilet area?

Between that and the clear glass door on the shower stall, let's just say our relationship was brought to a whole new level of intimacy I hadn’t quite expected. That bathroom was clearly designed for people with a high level of familiarity.

We left Vegas that Friday night after I got out of work, so it was dark when we arrived. The next day we woke up to beautiful sunshine out on our patio.

The grounds of this place were absolutely gorgeous.

There’s a tremendous amount of wildlife around there, and I’d been warned to be on the lookout for some kind of wild pig monster type of beast called javelinas. I’d never heard of them, but with my animal anxieties, I knew I didn’t care to encounter one face-to-face. Fortunately, all we saw were some lizards and birds (yikes) and this rabbit that is shitting a substance that's an alarming shade of nuclear-waste green.

I thought rabbits were supposed to shit pellets, no? Anyway, for safety’s sake, you can bet I drank only bottled water.

The pool area was lovely, just as their website promised.

However, this was my favorite view. I LOVE THIS MAN.

OMG he is so going to kill me for posting that! I hope he doesn’t retaliate by posting a pic of me shaving my legs in the shower (not pretty) on his site. I never told you that beloved boyfriend has a blog, did I? Oh, you must take a look! It’s um… not at all like mine. He’s kind of, well… Check it out and then come back and let me know what you think. He wants to be a guest blogger on my site someday--should I say yes?

Anyway, I highly recommend a stay at the Boulders, as long as bathroom privacy is of no concern. Seriously, that bathroom was huge, but it just wouldn't work unless you're with someone you know really, really well. Also, the property is laid out in a way that requires you to valet your vehicle; you can’t park in a lot next to your casita (ours is shown below), so if you leave your sunglasses in the car, like I did, there's no making a quick run out for them. Just something to keep in mind.

Off-season, we paid $153/night, which included a $30 charge for the wireless Internet and all tips (except food and beverage). So we didn't have to worry about tipping the maids or the guys in the golf carts.

One more thing: I mentioned on the online follow-up survey they sent me that I got stung by a bee at the pool and today I got a snail-mail letter of apology from the resort manager. That was nice. As I said, the customer service was superb. And, oh, the Lucinda Williams concert was great—her opening/back-up band Buick 6 freakin’ rocked and the Mesa Arts Center is a fine venue.

On Thursday, Mensa Man and I will be traveling fools once again, when we fly to Albany for Courtney and John’s party to celebrate their wedding. You know I’ll have some good stories after that!

Note to my Twin Cities lurker who sent me a private message: Thanks so much for your kind words! You've given me a couple of ideas for future posts--one of which will be entitled "Twitter Can Kiss My Ass." Now there's something else to look forward to!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Holy cow! There must be some mistake.

Wow. Next month marks my one-year anniversary as a blogger. When I put up my first post, I had no idea what a wonderful ride I’d be in for, and certainly no idea of how blogging would change my life.

And it really has. I started my blog because I thought it would be a good way to build my author’s platform and generate interest for my book, Bastard Husband: A Love Story. It was a strategic move, but I've long realized that’s the least of it. I never expected to have so much fun making personal connections with people from all over the country, and the world.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some fellow bloggers in person and there are so many others whom I feel I know well. I think about you guys all the time! (Sitting in a cubicle all day gives me ample opportunity.) Some readers occasionally leave comments, but don’t have blogs themselves. (Other Mikey’s Julie, we are so getting together next time I’m in Boise). All of you have been a tremendous source of encouragement for my creative endeavors and support in tough times, as when we recently lost Beautiful Aunt Joyce. I can’t tell you how much you all mean to me.

Then there are the “lurkers” from places like Billings, Montana; Champaign, Glen Ellyn, and Dundee, Illinois; Perth, Australia; Buford, Georgia; Kearney, Nebraska; Wisconsin Rapids and Fond-du-Lac, Wisconsin; Oklahoma City; and Schagen, Noord-holland, in the freakin’ Netherlands (to name just a few) who check in nearly every day and never leave a footprint. (And so many people in Minneapolis-St.Paul!) You all leave me wondering who you are and why on earth you keep coming back.

Of course, I know I have a few readers who can. not. stand. me. and who just come back to make sure they haven’t changed their minds. (That’s why I moderate comments, folks.) But that’s cool, too. You can’t have a strong personality like mine and say the crap that comes out of my mouth and not have some people hate your freakin’ guts. Fair enough.

And I throw a lot of crap out there! Need I remind you of some of the highlights on this site of the past year?

For starters, there was my post, My Great Idea for a Reality Show. That’s the one where I suggested a reality show modeled off the Little People, Big World show about the dwarf family, except in my show they would all be afflicted with Tourette’s--the swearin’ kind. That post really pissed off a Tourette’s mom who evidently thinks that in my spare time I taunt disabled children to their faces and who was oblivious to the fact that Googling “humor+Tourette’s” results in 70,300 websites. Sorry, I’m standing by my idea—it was brilliant.

No doubt the Mormons are still sticking pins in their Linda Lou voodoo doll for my posts about on their opposition to gay marriage and all their other crazy ideas. I alienated football fans everywhere with my Why Football is Gay post, and I just said last week that death and dying expert Elisabeth Kubler-Ross can suck my… no, I shouldn’t say it again. I’m already going to hell for that one.

Considering all this, you’ll be amazed as I was to hear that a few weeks ago my blogging buddy and hilarious hot Aussie chick, Linda (of Linda and Her Twaddle) fame presented me with the prestigious Noblesse Oblige Award.

This award recognizes the following attributes:

1) The blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervade amongst different cultures and beliefs.
2) The blog contents inspire; strives to encourage and offers solutions.
3) There is a clear purpose at the blog; one that fosters a better understanding on social, political, economic, the arts, culture, sciences and beliefs.
4)The blog is refreshing and creative.
5) The blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.
I know—you’re not the only one who’s surprised! While the Sexy Blogger Award I got from Julie over at 47 and Starting Over was a total no-duh, the Noblesse Oblige Award seems better suited to, um… nice bloggers.

That said, I’m taking this award and will display it proudly. And I’m passing it on to a blogger who truly deserves it.

Lorri Nichols of Richmond, Michigan, has a beautiful blog called Doodles from the Scrapbook of My Mind. Her introspective writing reads like poetry, and she fearlessly puts her emotions out there with full-frontal honesty. This is not a blog you can scan; every word deserves to be savored. I don’t remember how I came across Lorri’s site, but I’m sure glad I did. Check it out when you get a chance.

To accept this award, Lorri, you are required to do the following:

1) Create a post with a mention and link to the blogger who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award to you.
2) The award conditions must be displayed in the post.
3) Write a short article about what your blog has thus far achieved preferably citing one or more older post to support:
4) The blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award to blogs in concurrence with the award conditions.
5) The blogger must display the award at any location on their blog.
Thank you, Linda! Congratulations, Lorri, and thanks to all of you who make the blog world such a fun and wonderful place!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Today’s advice: It’s okay to drink while you write

You know how I’m always bragging about my beloved 1996 Saturn? I forgot to tell you that the corporate communications department of GM somehow got wind of my post about hitting the 200K milestone. A guy contacted me and said that if I would write something up for their official Saturn website, they’d feature it on the front page. And so I basically took a bunch of stuff I’d posted on this site and compiled it into one essay. I thought it came out pretty good, but you know me--I’m full of myself.

Well, over a week later, they still hadn’t featured it on the front page and I began to wonder if maybe I got a little too cheeky with my title: “At 200K, My Saturn is the Cockroach of Cars.” I thought it was a brilliant attention-getter, but maybe the Saturn folks weren’t too pleased with my analogy. I thought, “Okay, Linda. Let this be a lesson not to submit stuff when you’re nearing the end of your second Young’s Chocolate Stout.” Fair enough.

Then I started getting emails telling me that comments were coming in, and I saw that they had, in fact, positioned my piece on their featured page. And then yesterday I got an email from “The Saturn Team” with the title “Wow—You’re a Rock Star!” It said,

You are a huge hit with the Saturn fans! And we love you, too! Your post had a great response; people seem to love your style and view on life so we started thinking to ourselves, "Wouldn't it be great to have Vegas Linda Lou be a regular on our site?!!" We would love to see more of your witty posts....anything you've got from thoughts while driving down the road in your Saturn to your daily experiences with it, wherever the keyboard may take you.
I’m sure there’s no compensation associated with this offer, though the first guy who contacted me promised me some “Saturn swag.” But still, it’s a bit of an accomplishment to get the attention of a major company’s corporate communication team, even if they do seem to be, um… going down the toilet. OMG, can you imagine if I single-handedly saved Saturn and the entire GM corporation? My delusions of grandeur never seem to end…

Anyway, you can read my post here. You long-time readers will recognize all the punchlines as crap you’ve already heard, and God bless you for reading all my crap. I love you all!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And life goes on…

Well, yesterday I was back at work in my gray cubicle, though I was no longer consumed with worry about my aunt. I’d like to think all that “she’s in a better place” stuff is true. Maybe it is. It’s still hard to believe she’s gone.

I rode down from Albany to Pennsylvania Friday afternoon with my kids. It was really nice to have them all to myself for four hours; usually when I go back to Albany there are a lot of people around and I don't get to connect with them much. If you’re new to my blog, both of my kids are singer-songwriters. Christopher is a sweet and gentle soul. Courtney is also a sweet and gentle soul, but she’s also a trip and a half.

Court’s an excellent driver, so we took her little Subaru. As we got off the NYS Thruway, I read the directions my sister Lori had written up for us.

Me: “Look for 84 west. We want 84 west.”
Courtney: “Okay.”
Me: “Oops, I think we missed it. That was the entrance ramp.”
Courtney: “No problem, I’ll just pull a huey.”
Courtney skillfully makes a U-turn.
Courtney: “Okay, so now we want 84 east, right?”
Isn’t she precious?

The wake, held at the church where Beautiful Aunt Joyce was a pastor, was tough. It was a closed casket, and I swear I could have hurled myself over that thing like a wailing Italian widow. Very sad. We did, however, get a kick out of sentiment on the floral arrangement from her congregation.

Beloved Paster--too funny. I knew BAJ was into scrapbooking, but I had no idea her pasting skills could mean so much.

After the wake we went back to our hotel suite in the nearby town of Lehighton and had the traditional family beer party. I took this picture of Chris and Courtney in the parking lot. I don’t care that they're 30 and 31—they’re still adorable to me.

Saturday morning we went back to the church for the service and of course, it was very emotional. Joyce was only 12 years older than I am—way too young to die. I kept thinking what if I only had 12 years left? You never know. Scary.

Because Joyce was a pastor, the service was very religious (duh). Church never clicked with me—even when I was a little kid—and whenever I go to funerals, I realize that when they’re talking about the deceased person, I’m sobbing away, but as soon as they start talking about Jesus, I kind of space out and I stop crying. So in a way, I really am comforted by all the religious stuff. Ironic, huh?

I have to tell you this. Joyce was a bit of a kook, and when she was sick she used to make videos of herself doing a take-off on the old Senor Wences character from the Ed Sullivan show. Her character was called Senor Fuentes and he had little costumes and everything. Here she is hamming it up last Christmas.

So check this out. In the middle of the funeral service, the minister said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this, and I would only do it for Joyce…” and then he put up his hand, which had a face painted on it.

His little painted hand person told everyone that Joyce would want us to go on with our lives and live with laughter. It was the biggest “laughter through tears” scene you could imagine.

At the end, BAJ was taken to a special plot in the little cemetery outside the church. It’s a beautiful spot, but what's up with that sign?

Lori was a pallbearer, and I was so happy that our uncle John selected her for that honor. The loss of BAJ is especially hard for her. Lori was a handful in her day—to give you an idea, she’s now an administrator at the juvenile home where she lived as a teenager. Lori’s both my sister and my best friend, and I can tell you she has one of those strong personalities that some people find intimidating. Not everyone gets her, and not everyone appreciates her. BAJ was one of the people who truly loved Lori unconditionally from Day One. It's a big loss.

In the last few weeks, Lori made several trips from Albany to PA. Most of the time she’d dirty up every pot and pan in Joyce and John’s house, making and freezing meals so they would always have something handy to eat. Shortly before Joyce died, Lori spent a sleepless night holding her hand in the hospice. Every few minutes Joyce would weakly call out to her, “Lor?”

“I’m right here,” she’d reply.

The night after Joyce passed away, Lori was sleeping in her bed at home and she swears she heard Joyce’s voice call her again.

“Lor?” she said. Only this time her voice was strong, like it was before she got so sick. We think it was Joyce’s way of telling her she’s okay.

How about you? Do you think that could be possible?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Heading down to PA

In about an hour, my kids and I will be heading down to Pennsylvania for Beautiful Aunt Joyce's wake. The past two days have been lighthearted, but the emotional dark clouds are definitely rolling in.

I guess they're expecting 1000 people at the wake tonight and 700 for the funeral tomorrow, which explains why the services were scheduled when they were. There will be police and fire department personnel directing traffic through the tiny town of Tamaqua, where BAJ was a pastor at St. Peter's United Church, and they must have needed time to coordinate everything.

Lori and her family left about a half hour ago, but she just called to say that they had a little fender bender in the parking lot of the plaza where they stopped to pick up some bagels. Lori said the woman in the other car was a total bitch who called someone and said "some white people" hit her. Jesus Christ, GET OVER THAT SHIT! And you DO NOT want to piss my Harly-ridin' sister off on the way to her aunt's wake.

Now I'm all riled up.

Anyway, I probably won't post again until after I get back to Vegas. But who knows, maybe I will. These days I need you more than you need me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A totally unexpected great day!

Man, I so did not see this coming.

I got into Albany around midnight Tuesday night, figuring we'd drive down to Pennsylvania the next day for the wake. My sister Lori picked me up at the airport and said that as it turns out, the wake won't be until Friday and the funeral will be Saturday morning. And she had plans for us for Wednesday.

Seems like biker chick sister had twisted our BFF Donna's arm to skip out on a half day at work and so yesterday afternoon the three of us headed up to Lake George, a resort town up in the Adirondack Mountains about an hour north of Albany, for Americade, an annual week-long biker event. We had originally planned to go on Saturday, but the change in schedule actually worked out since it wasn't nearly as crowded. Normally Lori would have ridden her Harley up, but since there were three of us, we took "the cage." (That's biker talk for "car.") (Aren't I queer?)

We met up with our good friend Mike at DJ's, a bar on the main drag. Is he one hunk of testosterone or what? Too bad none of us really like him.

Mike's headgear reminded me to tell them about the time I wore a kerchief like that to Walgreen's and the lady behind the counter asked if I was a breast cancer survivor. Soooo not the look I was going for! It's a good story, though, and I love making people shoot beer out their noses.

After a while we walked around a bit and did some shopping. Of course, I couldn't pass up a placed called Shakedown Street--you know I love my hippie garb. I picked up a really cute bag (as if I need another one). I hadn't been up to Lake George since I moved out west in 2001 and I'd forgotten what a cute little, picturesque town it is.

And of course, the people-watching was fantastic. Check out guy and his dog.

There's something extremely gay about that, but I wasn't going to be the one to tell him.

At one point we passed a temporary tattoo vendor (God knows I could never commit to a real one) and Lori and I were all set to get matching "BAJ" tattoos on our arms, but they didn't carry letters, only images, so that idea was shot.

Lori and Mike's friends were staying at a motel on the lake, and after a nice Mexican dinner we stopped by to say hello. This character, who for some reason is known as "Mark No Pants" reminded me of my old boyfriend Tim, and when I asked him if he was Irish, this is the answer I got.

After a while we headed back to DJ's, where I struck up a conversation with a swell guy from Buffalo. I don't know how we got on the subject, but he confirmed what I've suspected all along: age doesn't really matter to men, and they actually prefer women around their own age. The key, however, is that we have to keep ourselves up, which is easy for a super-vain gal like me. Makes sense, don't you think?

Anyway, the day turned out completely different from what I had envisioned, and it was a great diversion from the grief that had consumed us in the previous days. You never know where life will lead, and as I've said a million times, the universe unfolds in divine order.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What today would have been

When I was a kid, people had to be important in some way to get their picture in the local newspaper when they died. I was a child with big ambitions; my goal was to be that important. These days anyone and everyone can have a photo included with the obit, so now I want to simply lie in state.

Today would have been Beautiful Aunt Joyce and Uncle John's 42nd wedding anniversary. I remember the day well--Lori and I were flower girls. Forty-two years!

I can't imagine what it would be like to lose your life partner after such a long time. And I really believe they had a joyous marriage. We should all be that lucky.

Let's see, if I get married, um... tomorrow... yeah, I can still get 42 years in.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sad news about Beautiful Aunt Joyce

I’m sorry to say that Beautiful Aunt Joyce passed away today at 7:15 EDT. Even though I knew with 100% certainty it was coming, it’s still a bit of a shock knowing she’s actually gone. That headache you get from crying so much is starting to settle in; this post will be therapy for me.

I’m leaving for Albany tomorrow afternoon and will be returning to Vegas on Sunday. Amazingly, the bereavement policy at work allows for three days off, even for aunts, which is nice. My sister Lori was teasing me about this post—she said at least now I don’t have to go into rehab or have elective surgery to get out of work. We're sick, huh?

I don’t know when the wake and funeral will be, but we’ll have a family caravan down to Pennsylvania either Wednesday or Thursday. As sad as we all feel, every one of us in this crazy clan is a comedian (and nothing is off limits), so there’s sure to be lots of laughter through the tears. Yeah, we put the “fun” not only in dysfunctional, but funeral, too.

Joyce would want it that way; she had an incredible sense of humor herself. Even though it was devastating for her to lose her hair to chemo, she found a way to laugh about it. Baldness? Nothing a hat with built-in dreadlocks can’t solve!

Here she is with my nephew Cameron, Lori’s son.

And here they are again—pulling a little switcharoo with the headgear. Cam, that wig is so totally you!

Funny, huh? Just your typical pastor.

This picture was taken last Christmas. BAJ was doing so well then; her hair was growing back and she seemed like she was on the upswing. So sad now.

Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who left such loving comments on my recent posts. You have no idea how comforting your sentiments are (especially the bawdy ones!) And I'm so sorry to hear of all of your losses. The blogsphere is an amazing place—I feel like I have dear friends all over the world. Some I’ve actually met… many I feel like I know… but most of you just read my crap and slip onto and off my site without saying a word. Thank you. Whoever you are, I know you're there.

I’m not sure when I’ll get to post again; my posting schedule has been out of whack lately and will continue to be for a little while longer. Just check back when you can, and know you’re loved.