Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Remember this photo of Hazel from New Year's 2010?  I am soooo hoping Courtney takes another one of her this year. 

Usually I don't go out on New Year's Eve.  Except New Year's Eve 2008 when I partied with my girl Lisa Gioia Acres and an ex-Playboy Miss July and an ex-porn star at Santa Fe Station.  This year is certain to be a little more mild, but you never know.  It's mine and Mike's first New Year's Eve together (every other year I've been back in Albany for the holidays) and we do have some swingin' plans.  No matter how the evening turns out, I'm thrilled to have him to kiss when the clock strikes twelve.

Believe me, I've had many years with no one to kiss at midnight.  Wait, that's not quite true; I've kissed friends and family, but you know what I mean.  I think everyone, whether they want to admit it or not, longs for that celebratory romantic kiss to ring in the New Year.  Back in September I wrote this post, Why wouldn't you put as much effort into finding love as you would to find a job?  If finding love is something you'd like in 2012, I hope you'll put the effort into making it happen.  And that goes for no matter what you want for yourself this next year.

I wish every one of you a safe and fun night tonight.  Thank you for reading my crap for almost three and a half years now.  And here's to a glorious 2012!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Repost for Self-Improvement Week: Guidelines for planning a fabulous 2012

As you know, 2011 was a hell of a year for me and I'm gonna try like hell to make 2012 even better. Oh, the possibilities! I’m convinced that the best way to make those possibilities a reality is to create a written plan of action. The process of writing forces you to articulate how you’d like to see the next year unfold. The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it is to make it happen. Writing things down increases the chances of actually manifesting them.

Planning the year ahead is going to take some time (a couple of hours) and a lot of thought, but don’t resist. If this were a project someone gave you at work, you’d do it, right? Well, this is one project you should actually care about!

Here is a goal-setting structure that I’ve used for several years. Like everyone else, over time I tend to drift away from my plan, but it’s better than nothing.

Health and fitness. Forget about what you’d like to weigh—that’s not the focus here. Think more about your overall health. Your body is the vehicle that gets you around on this earth—do you really want it to go to shit?

Write down some concrete steps you can take to improve your health, and I mean stuff you’ll actually do. If you’re like me and can’t bear the thought of going to a gym, for God’s sake, don’t put that down. Be realistic, and be specific. If you like to walk, can you commit to walking a half hour three times a week? Good. Make that part of your fitness plan.

In your calendar, pencil in reminders in the appropriate months for your physical and blood work, Pap, mammogram, eye, and dental appointments. Make and keep those appointments. What could be more important than your health?

My recommendations:

Find a fitness buddy—you’ll be much more likely to walk, run, work out, or whatever you want to do.

Buy yourself a pedometer, and I mean a good one, not a piece of crap. The more you spend on it, the more likely you’ll be to use it. I got this one from Brookstone for Mike for Christmas a couple of years ago.

If you’re looking for an exercise video that kicks ass, get the Original Buns of Steel DVD. Don’t buy this through Amazon; it’s a lot cheaper if you go through instructor Greg Smithey’s website. Tell him Linda Lou sent you, but don’t say I give him the finger on the TV during the hard parts.

Work and professional. How do you feel about your professional life? Does your work bring you joy? If not, do you at least have entertaining co-workers to help you get through the day? If work is a source of stress or you can’t frame your current job in a positive way, it’s time to move on. Work takes up a big chunk of your life, and life is too short to be miserable.

If you haven't already, now is a good time to identify your God-given talents. What do you excel at? What do you do better than 90 percent of everyone walking on earth? Does your work allow you to let those talents shine?

Maybe work is going fine. What can you do to make it better? What would you need to do to get a promotion?

Make a list of the concrete steps you can take to advance yourself professionally. Identify the skills that would make you more marketable and commit to obtaining those skills. Take a continuing education class through your local community college. Look into the online courses offered through Update your resume. Join a professional association and network with people who are doing what you’d like to do. Do whatever you need to ensure your source of income brings you joy!

Activities and personal growth. Okay, maybe your dream job isn’t making the best use of your God-given talents, but the pay is decent and it doesn’t drain every last bit of your energy. That’s cool. But you still want to make the most of your time off the clock, right? And maybe find a way to share those talents with the world?

You wouldn’t believe how many people tell me they should write a book. Or do stand-up comedy. I usually respond with a matter-of-fact, “So do it,” which is invariably met with the deer in the headlights look. Yeah, yeah, yeah—it’s a lot easier to be a blowhard saying, “I could do this” and “I could do that” than actually taking the steps to make it happen.

But why not take the freakin’ steps and do it? Don’t know where to start? Do some research! Could the Internet make it any easier to learn about anything? You have to start somewhere, and when you walk in the mist, you get wet. Start walking in the mist!

Personal and creative projects always go on the back burner. That’s because nothing will go wrong if they’re not done and there’s generally no sense of accountability. No one’s asking, “Hey, are you done with that painting yet? When can we hear that song you’ve been working on? What have you been doing lately to overcome that fear of public speaking?”

It’s up to you. Make a list of personal goals you’d like to achieve and list the concrete steps you can take to help you achieve them.

Travel. Make a list of the day trips, long weekends, and vacations you’d like to take in 2011. Again, be realistic; if a trip around the world isn’t feasible right now, don’t put it down. Pencil these trips in on your calendar. Consider the gift of travel for a special birthday or other occasion. Taking a trip with a loved one creates memories that last far longer than any present or gift card.

Relationships/social.  The folks you hang with have a tremendous impact on your character and how you live. Now is a good time to take inventory of the people in your life. Write down the names of those who lift your spirits, motivate or inspire you, crack you up, or make you feel better about yourself. We all have friends who support you to no end--they're almost like fans.  How can you spend more time with them? Would any of them make a great fitness buddy? Make a plan to work on your health and fitness goal together.

On the other hand, you and I both know some "friends" can sap every friggin' ounce of your strength. Maybe they're perpetually negative, whiny, or can't get past their own personal "woe is me." If someone insists on using you as a sounding board for their neverending bitch-fests, do yourself a favor and ease away. Your time is valuable and is better spent elsewhere.

Maybe you'd like to expand your social circle. Go to and browse through the groups in your area that match your interests. Commit to attending one of their meetings--that's a sure way to meet people with interests similar to yours. (BTW, I met Mike through the Henderson Writers Group.)

Is there a person at work you’ve been wanting to get to know better? Or maybe someone you don't really know, but have admired from afar? Ask him or her out to lunch or for a cup of coffee.

I think the very best way to meet new people is to go someplace by yourself. See a band, browse through Barnes and Noble, bring your laptop to Starbucks or Panera Bread... strike up a conversation with someone and you never know what will happen!

If you're lucky enough to have a partner in a love relationship, think of how you can strengthen your bond.  What can you do to surprise and delight him or her?  The element of surprise adds spice!  Plan for a long romantic weekend--and don't forget to put it on your calendar.

Spiritual.  What can you do for your soul in 2012? While you're making new friends in Barnes and Noble, look for books that might inspire you and feed your spirit. (What? You haven't read Bastard Husband yet? What the hell are you waiting for?)

Maybe this is the year you check out a church you've been curious about. Or why not work on mind and body together and sign up for a yoga class? 

Nothing feeds the spirit more than being of service to others. Maybe this is the year you commit to doing volunteer work.  Don't save the "surprise and delight" strategy for your romantic partner--think of simple things you can do to surprise and delight a special friend, elderly relative, or the stranger sitting across from you in the coffee shop.

Purchases and possessions.  Make a list of the purchases you need to make in the next year.  Mark your calendar for when you intend to buy them.  You should already have some plans on your calendar by now; are these purchases still feasible?  How important are they?

I live by one rule when it comes to buying stuff:  I buy only the things I truly need or that bring me joy.  That is so important!  Whenever you're ready to buy something, ask yourself, "Do I really need this?" and "Does it bring me joy?"  A yes answer to either question is a green light.  A no answer is a signal to walk away.

Think about what can you buy that will raise your standards.  It's important to raise your standards; when you do this, your overall energy is raised, including the way you think about yourself.  This affects how you present yourself to the world, which affects how the world treats you.  I'm off on a tangent now; this is a topic for another post.  But I will tell you my life has rocked out ever since I bought my new Scion and my iPhone.  That thing has changed my life!   So if you watch TV every day and TV is an important part of your life, buy yourself a good TV.  You may not need it, but it will bring you joy!

Financial.  Set some realistic financial goals and write down the steps you'll need to take to achieve them.  Are you willing to work toward a promotion or take a part-time job?  Watch every cent you spend; write down where your money goes, even if for just one week.

Look for places you can cut back.  Are you paying for things that don't bring you joy?  Are you paying a cell phone or car insurance bill for a kid out of college?  It's time for that little angel to freakin' grow up!  Ask for their contribution or tell them they're on their own.  Can you cut back or get rid of cable and subscribe to  Netflix instead?  Can you share an account with someone?

Remember Purgefest 2010 when I got rid of three quarters of the shit I owned?  I've never missed it!  You'll be surprised at what you're hanging on to for no good reason.  Getting rid of crap is liberating--mark your calendar for when you'll go through each room and closet.  Sell everything you don't need or that doesn't bring you joy on eBay or Craigslist.  If you can't sell it, give it to Goodwill or post it for free on Craigslist.  By doing this, you'll either make a few bucks or lift your spirit by helping someone in need.  If you're not using it and if it doesn't bring you joy, recycle it to the universe.

I have a lot more to say; this topic is way too big to address properly in a single post.  At any rate, I hope this gets you started.  Now get planning!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ahhh... Christmas is over

Holy crap, I am late as hell posting this.  It isn't the first time I got messed up with the Monday holiday.  Though strangely, I posted yesterday.  Super.  I can't figure myself out.

Well, we survived another Christmas.  Long-time readers know that isn't one of my favorite holidays.  But it's over now and that's the important thing.  This one was different; because my family was here for Thanksgiving (and the surprise wedding), I decided not to go to Albany for Christmas.  There's been only one other year that I didn't go back east for Christmas--when B.H. and I spent the holidays in New Zealand. Someday I gotta tell you my impression of N.Z.

Anyway, I was happy to spend Christmas with Mike and the kids.  We decorated my awesome palm tree and totally used it as our Christmas tree and the kids didn't care a bit.  As long as there are presents under something.

Before the ornaments
In February, I'm gonna put hearts and crap on it and in March... shamrocks.  You know it.

The 7-year-old got a new bike--her first bike--and guess who forgot how freakin' exhausting it is to run next to a kid learning to ride a two-wheeler with no training wheels?  I totally counted it as exercise--duh--even though I had to stop about every 30 yards because I thought I was having a stroke/heart attack combo.  I am so out of shape.  Yeah, that's at the top of my New Year's get-my-shit-together list, which is now about a mile long.

Hey, speaking of... I saw on Facebook that one of my dear readers, inspired by my Purgefest 2010, is having her own Purgefest 2011.  Awesome!  I'm so proud!  It feels so good to get rid of crap.  I'm down to the bare bones myself--which feels fantastic--but my husband is a different story.  He's making progress, though; we can almost fit my car (which is roughly the size of a coffee table) in the (three-car) garage.  Just saw this on Facebook a couple of minutes ago.  How a propos.

What else... Oh, I am now the GRANDMOTHER OF A FREAKIN' TEENAGER!  Yep, yesterday was my man Connor's 13th birthday.  Holy freakin' shit!

I mean, holy freakin' epic!  (BTW, I'm wearing 3" heels.)

Finally, let me share my mother's latest Facebook post.

Hahaha!  Hope you're enjoying your week!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Self Improvement Week re-post: How to survive your day job until you can quit your day job

It's the last week of the year--what better time to focus on self-improvement as we set goals and make plans for the New Year?  Here's a re-post from last May, updated a bit, for those of you (or I should say, "us") who may need to reconsider how we're spending those 40 hours every week.

Some of you may know that I worked for several years in the field of corporate outplacement where I taught job search skills to people who’d been “downsized” or “identified as redundant” or whatever the euphemism of the day was at the time. If you’re one of the lucky ones who loves your job, hallelujah! to you. But if you know anyone who’s struggling, pass this on. Hope it helps!

I’ve always envied those folks who knew from day one exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up. Usually their intended profession was something like a teacher or a fireman or a nurse, and that’s exactly what they studied in college and that’s exactly what they became when they grew up and they loved their job and they lived happily ever after, amen. I don’t actually know anyone like that, but I hear they’re out there.

For most of us, works means spending a big chunk of our lives in a place we’d rather not be. Maybe you’re “really” an artist or musician and need a day job to pay the bills until you can start making a living from your art. Maybe you’re in the profession you actually went to college for, but it’s not what you expected and you’re barking up the wrong tree. Or maybe you’ve been in a career for several years and have come to the realization that the bloom is off the rose and it’s time to move on.

Or maybe you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. Don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. The comedian Paula Poundstone has a great line; she says the reason we’re always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up is that we’re looking for ideas.

If that’s the case and you still have no friggin’ clue, it’s time to become more aware of what your God-given talents are. What do people compliment you on? What do you like to do? What do you do better than 99 percent of everyone else? How can you share that talent with the rest of the world? How can you make money by sharing that talent?

Ultimately, it would be wonderful to be able to making a living by sharing your God-given talents, instead of your apparent talent for tolerating menial work or a difficult supervisor. But the reality is, you’re not a Kardashian and so you need to work so you can have some kind of quality of life beyond 9 – 5.

I can’t stress this point enough: Your mission is to get through those 8 hours in the most painless way possible while you continue to identify and develop your God-given talents and strategize exactly how you’ll be able to capitalize on them.

To do that, it’s important that your job doesn’t sap every bit of your time and energy so that you’re too tired at the end of the day to pursue your real-life goals. If you’re completely wasted after work without an iota of energy, it’s time to put out the feelers for another opportunity. On the other hand, if you spend every night channel surfing on the couch or wasting time on the Internet, you gotta put an end to that right now. If you don’t, you’re not serious about making a move. End of story.

I was lucky as hell with my telecommuting situation this past year. Now, do I think God put me on this earth to edit technical documentation? Hardly. But with that job I could work from home, I had a competent and fair boss and hilarious coworkers I truly adored, and it didn’t wipe me out. I still had plenty of energy for creative pursuits like my writing and stand-up. Would I rather be making good money from speaking engagements and book royalties? Of course. But that was a great gig.

Okay, what if you really don’t like your job? How do you get through those 8 hours as painlessly as possible?  (This is the part I'm telling myself as much as you.)

First, remember that no experience is ever wasted; everything fits together in the big picture of life. Identify tasks you do in your current position that somehow make use of your talents and the skills that are somehow related to your ultimate goal. In my case, my skill as a technical writer/editor helps make my creative writing tighter and crisper. In comedy, you have to get to the punch line in as few words as possible—in tech writing, you have to express the content as economically as possible, too. See the connection?

Second, look for conditions of your job that you consider to be favorable. Maybe you have a short commute, a pleasant work environment, the ability to work autonomously, a fair and competent boss, awesome coworkers, the opportunity to play with the latest technology… the value you assign to your job all depends on what’s important to you. Focus on the positive and appreciate the good. It could be a lot worse—ever get a pedicure?  Now, there's a job I wouldn't want.

Finally, be thankful for what you have. Never say you hate your job. The fact is, you can’t live without it or you would; you need the money and most likely would be effed without the paycheck, right? So don’t complain about where you are right now; that’s not a smart way to spend your energy. Spend your energy lining things up so you can make a move.

You’ll find your job will be more tolerable when you identify what it actually means to you. You’ll no longer feel like you’re compromising your values; you’ll find that you resist it less. You’ll realize that you stay in it not out of a sense of resignation, but as strategy; it’s a stepping stone to your next level of personal or professional development.

Does that make sense?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Connor's first Christmas
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, too!  


Thursday, December 22, 2011

I've said it before, I'll say it again: "Love every minute"

Last Sunday on my way to the Orlando airport I got a voicemail from my college roommate and dear friend Patty.  "I have sad news," she said.  As I called her back, I knew it wasn't good.  Our friend Mary Ellen, one of the girls in our circle at Plattsburgh State, had passed away that morning.

Many of my friends from the crazy Plattsburgh years are from around Albany, where I grew up.  Patty, Mary Ellen, Margaret, and Chris went to an all-girls Catholic high school together in Schenectady, just outside of Albany.  We all returned to the area after getting our degrees, so it's been easy for everyone to keep in touch and we try to get together whenever I'm back in town.  I think the last time I saw Mary Ellen was in April at a happy hour party.  Yep, the Plattsburgh crew certainly knows how to party--that's one thing we never grew out of.

A bunch of us got together up in the Adirondacks in September 2010 while I was back east; I blogged about it here.  The September gathering is an annual event; I didn't make it this past year, but Patty told me Mary Ellen was there and had mentioned that she was having back pain.  Well, a lot of people have back pain, right?  But I guess on December 8 Mary Ellen was diagnosed with cancer and on the morning of the 18th she was gone.  She was 53 and had two kids, one of whom is a student at Plattsburgh.

The wake and funeral service are tonight and how I wish I could be there with my friends.  That's the only thing that sucks about being on the other side of the country, so far away from so many people I love.

This is really hitting me.  It's weird.  Mike and I often lament that we have only about 40 years left together, and that's a pretty optimistic scenario.  That's not enough!  There's so much we want to do.

Life is so fragile and not to get all cliche on you, but I really do try to live life to the fullest.  Still, I think I can do better.  I want to do something that's going to make a difference, something important and of service to others.  I know my book has helped and/or entertained a lot of people, but I want to do more. I want to have more fun, spend more time with people I love, take some freakin' time to exercise, do more comedy, travel more with Mike, take some trips with the kids, visit my mother in Boise more, see more live music, sit down and read a freakin' book for once, and have some kind of positive impact on others. 

Mary Ellen's death--I can't believe it--death!--is making me take a good hard look at how I'm spending my time.  I've done the soul searching part; now it's time to strategize.  Changes are coming, and what better time to get things rolling?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Overjoyed to be back in Vegas!

After spending almost a week in Florida--Orlando, Daytona Beach, and back to Orlando again--Sunday night I returned to my beloved Las Vegas.  I had a lot of fun with my work friends, but I'm way out of balance.  I didn't have much time to myself, and so I'm really, really behind on what feels like every aspect of life.  I owe people phone calls, emails, sympathy cards, birthday greetings, replies to Facebook messages... I didn't even get to post on Saturday.  And how the hell long has it been since I did a comedy set?  Am I even funny anymore?  And isn't this the time of year when I should be endlessly promoting my book, Bastard Husband: A Love Story, the greatest gift you could possibly give someone whether they're female, male, old, young, single, divorced, a virgin, or dead? 

I hate it when I get so out of whack like this.  It won't last, though.

So check out this mannequin my coworkers and I passed on our way to the bar dinner in Daytona.  It's hard to believe I've never come across one of these in Sin City.

Looks like Barbie got implants!
Before our flight on Sunday we had lunch at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney.  I know that Disneyland/World is friggin' Mecca to a lot of people, but I've tried my entire life to avoid all that.  No, we did not take our kids to Disney World when they were little--we sent them off with their grandparents and had a big-ass party at our house hours after their plane left the ground.  Disney is just not me.  (Remember my visit to LEGOLAND?)

So there I was Sunday afternoon in Downtown Disney, walking in the eye of the perfect storm of everything I hate:  kids I'm not related to all running over the place, birds flying inches from my head because they're so used to idiots feeding them, and Christmas music blaring in the streets.  I was like, why don't I just find myself a TV with a football game and buy myself a non-alcoholic beer and a friggin' salad?

I swear to God, I'm a female Lewis Black lately.  It won't last.  (If I say that often enough...)

Well, I did see the humor in this sight. 

Everything's "family" in Disney!
Anyway, I'm very happy to be home and once the holidays are over, I'll be back in balance.  Fingers crossed. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Still counting the days till I get back to Vegas

I'm in Daytona Beach for a couple of days now.  My impression is, it's kind of a dump.  Definitely seen better days.  Maybe I'm not hanging in the right parts, but I seem to be in the area where all the resorts are and I get the feeling this is as good as it gets.

On the plus side, the weather since I've been in Florida has been beautiful and the resort in Orlando I stayed in was really high end (even though there was no WiFi).  It was nice to sleep with the windows open and leave the doors leading to the screened balcony open all night.

Here's what I woke up to this morning in Daytona.

It doesn't look quite as good in person.  (Oh, how can I be such a picky little bitch?) 

Have you ever traveled to a place everyone raved about and wondered what they saw that you didn't?  Tell me about it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quick post -- no WiFi

I'm in a beautiful resort in Orlando, Florida, but the Wifi is down property-wide so I'm sitting here pecking away on my iPhone. If you know me at all, I don't have to tell you I'm not the most patient person, do this is driving me insane.

This is my first time in Florida. I know I have several dear readers who live here, but I have to tell you, I've never had a burning desire to visit this state. I just got in last night and haven't seen the place in the daytime, so I'll suspend judgment.

You know what? I'm just freakin' miserable. I really just want to go home. I usually love to travel, even for work, but this is going to be a tough week and I don't leave until Sunday.

I know--how can I possibly whine? I'm lucky to have a job and even luckier to have a hot husband I hate to be away from. Bad Linda! But man, I would love this week to fly by. Counting the minutes till I return home...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reality, why must you be so harsh?

After a glorious week and a half encompassing Thanksgiving with my family, our surprise wedding and our fantastic California honeymoon, it was back to reality first thing last Monday morning.  And by first thing, I mean my alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. so I could make a 6:50 flight to Phoenix.

My work travel has begun.  I spent three days at resorts in eastern Arizona.  Let me just tell you, it was more than a little difficult to go from this...

to this...

in just a matter of days.  Along the way I saw this...

which was quite beautiful.  And this...

which piqued my curiosity, to say the least.

Tomorrow morning I get to sleep in until 5:45 since my flight isn't until 8:25.   Where am I going this time?  You'll find out on Tuesday.  It's a state I've never been to, and I've been to almost 40 of them.  The city I'll be staying in is on my "Definitely no interest" list, but I'll be working most all the time and won't get to see much anyway.


After this week I'll be home for at least until after the New Year.  I won't be going back to Albany for Christmas since everyone was just here.  Oh, it was so great to have them here!  I must share some pictures.

Christopher, Courtney and Hazel
(I swear, Courtney looks more like me with every passing day.)

The Most Serious Baby on Earth cracks a smile
Me and Lori at Red Rock
Connor takes a call at the Oval Office

Mom and Santa (my nephew Andy)
(Doesn't my mother look great?)

My grandson is freakin' epic!
I have three-inch heels on in that picture, too--he's gonna be a tall boy!

Okay, I can't put you through any more family photos.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I'll talk to you from ??? on Tuesday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The honeymoom -- Part 2 (and a GREAT place to stay in Malibu)

Okay, so after a couple of nights in Santa Barbara we headed down the Pacific Coast Highway.  Our destination:  Malibu.

Malibu actually encompasses a 27-mile stretch of highway, and as we rolled into town, we explored the area a bit.  We ventured up a huge hill dotted with swanky mansions and happened upon an open house.  Mike and I had stopped at an open house in Santa Barbara, too; a 2-bedroom piece-o'-crap property near the water with an asking price of $1.6 million.  Unbelievable.

So since we were already in the open house mood, we decided we'd check out this place, too. 

Oh, yeah, we could totally be comfortable here

"Maybe they'll have free food," I said, recalling the scene from I Love You, Man where Paul Rudd met Jason Segel. 

The house was brand new construction and sure enough, the developer (I think his name was Eric) offered us chicken burritos the minute we walked in.  He was a super nice guy and we got a private tour since we were the only ones there.

Check out the view, and how the living room opens to the outdoors. 

Outside and over to the right, there's another outdoor living area.  Oh, the parties we could have!

Nice bathroom...
But ours at home is awesome, too!
 Very cool.

Mike is so good at small talk--as if we were serious buyers.  "Yeah, we live in Vegas...  I have a software development company... We were just looking at a property in Santa Barbara..." he said.  

Honey, I'm thinking, we pulled up in a freakin' Scion.

It was great fun looking around.  Soon Eric's friend Jeff came by and we listened to some B Tribe music from the outdoor sound system.  We asked about places to stay while in Malibu, and Jeff suggested the Malibu Beach Inn, owned by music mogul David Geffen.

FANTASTIC referral!  I can't recommend this place strongly enough.  Located just south of the pier, it is fabulous!  Every room is right on the ocean.

Rooms have a fireplace and are tastefully decorated

View from the balcony
We were lucky and got a great deal--$299 which included a $130 credit toward dinner, which was incredible.  Bonus:  we had the waterfront dining room all to ourselves.  Perfect.

If you're looking for a nice place to relax, this is it. 

... or maybe you want to frolic on the beach in your sexy granny-skirt bathing suit.  (I'm no Kim Kardashian, but she might want to consider one of these.)

Queerest person in Southern California
My beloved groom pretending he doesn't know me
Our last stop was Marina Del Ray, where we had lunch with my friend Nina, the Mona character in my book, before heading back to Vegas.    

Oh, we had so much fun!  GREAT job on the honeymoon, Mike!

Thank you all again for your kind words of happiness for our marriage.  We are very, very lucky!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The honeymoon -- Part 1

As I mentioned in Saturday's post, soon after the gang headed back to Albany last Tuesday, Mike and I left for our honeymoon.  Mike insisted on taking charge of this, and at one point he was beside himself because he thought he had failed me terribly and should have left the task to someone who's really good at planning trips.  Like me.

But no.  He knocked it out of the park. 

Our first stop was Santa Barbara, a place I'd always wanted to see.  It's a lush, cute city right on the water with a vibrant downtown--lots of funky shops and restaurants and an excellent brew pub. Mmmm. I could never live there, though; I don't think my self-esteem is high enough.  Everyone, I mean everyone, is good looking--even the homeless.

I'm not a homeless person, I just look like one.

Warning:  The beach in Santa Barbara is full of birds!

Reminds me of Bodega Bay...

I guess a beach full of seagulls is not a newsflash for those of you who spend a lot of time near the ocean.  But you know me--I'm not exactly a bird lover.

Linda as Tippi Hedren
On one of the days we took a ride around town.  As you can imagine, there are some very nice areas, especially around where Oprah lives.  Along our drive we stopped at the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

My handsome husband--I love this man!
The mission is over 200 years old with beautiful grounds and a museum, which I had to rush through because of my fear of scary monk-chanting music and religious statues and images.  If you read my book, you know what I'm talking about.   I did have fun posing for this picture, though.

Linda as St. Francis
There was also a cemetery on the grounds, at which point Mike lamented, "This trip sucks.  I can't believe I brought you to a cemetery on our honeymoon."

"Oh, honey, that's nothing compared to the bird beach and the scary religious rooms."  Then I tried to make him feel better by adding, "But I wasn't at all creeped out by the skull and crossbones over the entrance to the chapel."

He hung his head.  "My love, how can I make this up to you?"

"Well, I can think of one place you could take me to tonight..."

Ross Dress for Less, Santa Barbara
Best. husband. ever.

Next:  Things pick up considerably when we head down the coast...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finally! Surprise wedding details and photos

WHEW!  Mike and I just got back from our honeymoon last night.  Between Thanksgiving, our wedding party and our honeymoon, it's been a wild week and a half!

So, were you surprised to hear we got married last Saturday night?  Seems like a lot of people were!  Mike and I had been talking about gettin' hitched for quite a while, and since most of my family planned to spend Thanksgiving in Las Vegas anyway, we figured that would be the perfect time.

Here's the gang pre-flight at the Albany Airport the day before Thanksgiving.  Mom and Stepdaddy arrived earlier in the week and my brother and his family came Thanksgiving Day.

 My friend Babs had a surprise wedding a couple of years ago--that's where I got the idea.  I thought it was brilliant--no gifts, no formalities, no expectations.  All anyone had to do was show up.  Everyone thought we were having a regular old house party, a little get together in our new place so our Vegas friends could meet our families and vice versa.   But nooooo...

The calm before the storm

We told our guests to dress casually or wear whatever the hell they felt like wearing; we wanted the party to be all about comfort and fun.  I swear, I asked Mike to wear shorts and a polo shirt--his daily year-round uniform.  (People with ADD, I've learned, wear the same thing every day.)  As for me, I just wanted to find something that wouldn't make me look obese.  NOTE:  You're never at your thinnest during Thanksgiving weekend.

I told everyone the party would start at 7:00, and to be sure to be here by 7:45 for "the Amway presentation."  Oh, Linda, you're such a stitch!  My friend Reverend Janet was scheduled to arrive at 8:00.  The only people in on the secret were my kids, Mike's kids, my sister Stacie (who had to fly in from Virginia and wasn't originally going to come for Thanksgiving) and my sister Lori.

Thank God for Lori!  She not only handled all the food for Thanksgiving dinner, but for the party as well.  I swear, I am so bad with food--the first time I knew adulthood was going to suck was when I realized I could no longer swing a party with a keg and a few bags of Doritos. I did, however, ensure there was a wonderful assortment of beer and Two Buck Chucks for the wedding.  I know--very classy.

People started arriving right at 7:00 and by 8:00 we had a packed house.  I think I counted 61, and I feel so bad because I totally forgot to invite a couple of my friends.  Really, I hate that.  Janet arrived shortly after 8:00 and after we settled the final details, Lori corralled everyone into the living room.

Check out Mike coming down the stairs--almost late for his own wedding.
 Lori got everyone's attention and started by saying we had a special guest with us tonight:  Janet Miller, my friend who officiated at our mother's wedding at the Tropicana in 2006.  Mom and Stepdaddy were surprised and happy to see Janet; she'd done a beautiful job with their vows.  Then Lori said that Janet also did her and Russ's surprise 20-year anniversary renewal ceremony I arranged for them at the top of the Stratosphere two years ago.

Janet took over from there.  She said something like, "When Linda called me for Lori's ceremony, I told her I thought she was calling to say she was getting married.  But Linda said, 'Never again!'  Well, never say never... This is not just a house party--you're here for Linda and Mike's wedding!"

People couldn't believe it--it was so fun!
My daughter, Courtney, started things off with one of her beautiful songs.

Then Janet performed a touching ceremony.  Seriously, if you ever want to get married or renew your vows in Vegas, let me hook you up.  Janet is the best!

This was so funny--when Janet asked Mike for the ring, he was like, "Oh, the ring!" and ran out of the room.  Yep, he forgot the ring.  That's my Mike!

My son, Christopher, sang one of his songs next, backed up by Courtney's husband, John.  Mike's 11-year-old son Sean closed out the ceremony with an original composition on the piano.  What a joy it was to have our kids share their music at our wedding!

With the ceremony done, it was time to party.  And in our family, it's not a party without music by Talking Heads.

Wedding cake for us?  Hell, no--cupcakes!  And no, we didn't smush them in each others faces--why start a marriage with a fist-fight?

Only 1 million calories each, but worth every one!
As usual, people like to congregate in the kitchen.  This was toward the end of the night--at one point, it was so packed, you couldn't move.

I think the last of us went to bed around 1:30.  We were so psyched that we were able to pull it off so well--everyone was truly surprised.  Really, it couldn't have gone any better.  So happy!

This was the first time my and Mike's kids met, and the two families blended beautifully--after all, my kids are in their 30's and his are still so young.  Besides his children, Mike just has a sister in Florida, and now they all of a sudden have this gigantic family to deal with.  It was so cool to see our daughters so happy to finally have sisters! 

Everyone went back to Albany and Idaho on Tuesday, and Mike and I left for our honeymoon that afternoon.  It was spectacular--I'll tell you about that next time.  In the meantime, thank you for all your best wishes!