Monday, December 31, 2012

New year, new resolutions to break

Happy New Year!!!

Hazel, New Years 2011

 Where the hell did 2012 go? HUH?

At any rate, now it's time to try like hell to make 2013 even better. Oh, the possibilities! This is an annual repost that I know I can't heard often enough.  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 2013. 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 2013? 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!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What Albany and Kansas have in common

It looks like they're both in black and white:

Pretty sad when you take a color photo and it comes out like that!  Yup, that's what we woke up to this morning. The first major snowstorm of the season couldn't have waited until January 9, right?  Hello? I had specifically ordered a record-breaking heat wave for the Northeast from Jesus' birthday through Elvis'. D'oh!

I'm having a blast here.  Yesterday was my grandson Connor's 14th birthday, and my nephew Andy's 12th.

Yup, they both get gypped (no offense to any gypsies who may be reading this) by having their birthdays the day after Christmas.  Those two are best buds. So cute.

Here I am with my boy, Connor.  FREAKY how tall he is!  He's up to 5'11" now--surpassing his parents, who are both 5'10".

Don't I look short as hell?  I'm actually quite statuesque, at almost 5'5".  I can't get over how much he's grown since I last saw him in August.  Hazel, too--she's getting so big.  I didn't get any good pics of her last night, but I stole these from Courtney's Facebook page.

As you can see, she's no longer the Most Serious Baby on Earth. Check out the kitchen her father made for her; Courtney painted it.

Silly girl!

So this is the kind of present you get when your granny is a comedian.

We were up till 2:00 this morning watching Family Guy reruns on Netflix.  Typical.

Speaking of Seth MacFarland, my mother may have gotten the best present of all, as she announced on Facebook:

Yup, Mom got a talking Ted doll!

He says cool things like, "Johnny, how 'bout a beer, huh?" and "C'mere, you bastard." I didn't even know they existed or I would have gotten one for Connor.  Damn!

Well, I hope you all are enjoying the season and especially hope you've taken the week off from work.  Love to all!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

You know me and the holidays...

Dad, Christmas 1998 (I think)

However, this year, I've been more like this:

Connor, Christmas 1999

Things will be looking up tomorrow, Christmas Day.  I have a direct flight to Albany at 4:35. I won't get in until way after midnight so I'll miss Christmas, but Connor's 14th birthday is on December 26, and that's the real holiday for me!  I can't believe he's 14.  Freaks me out.  And of course, I can't wait to get my hands on his sister, the Most Serious Baby on Earth.

I'll be in the Albany tundra for two weeks--not the best time of the year to spend in the Northeast, but I got a great fare ($260 round trip) and could travel only on certain days.  No matter.  I'm psyched to be seeing everyone--it's been since August. 

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and am so very thankful for everyone who stops by here. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

There's nothing like a dive bar and a party full of comics to lift your spirits!

I couldn't bring myself to post yesterday. At first I thought I was just in a piss-poor mood and didn't want to spread it around, but then I realized it was more than that--I felt depressed. If someone had looked at me cross-eyed, I would have burst into tears.

It's the holidays. I know I'm not the only one who's finding the holidays to be particularly tough this year; last week's tragedy has put a pallor over everyone's spirit. And yesterday was the day where every depressing thought I could muster hit my mind at once. I'm so lucky in that I am blessed with not one, but two beautiful families and enough friends to fill the biggest showroom on the Strip. But instead of focusing on the joy they bring me, yesterday I was consumed with the sorrow I feel for many of them. My thoughts began a downward spiral.

Off the top of my head, I can think of four friends who will be spending their first Christmas without their mothers. That got me worrying about my own mother's health, even though at 78 she's looking good and goes to water aerobics three times a week. I can think of three friends who are seriously ill; one is on the list for a liver-kidney transplant. But a Christmas miracle--the call he's been waiting for--would require the passing of another soul. Another dear friend, Tena, will be spending the holidays alone for the first time in over a decade after the loss of her partner, Ed, who died in August. Then I got to thinking about my relatives who have passed--my father, grandparents, and Beautiful Aunt Joyce--and was ready to lose my shit.

The other day as I stood in line in K-mart, I looked at the cashier's name tag and thought, "Wow, you don't see too many black Courtneys." How Courtney didn't make the Top 20 Whitest Names, I don't know. I'm sure it would have if the list didn't include four variations of Kaitlyn.  Anyway, the woman in front of me was buying hundreds of dollars of Christmas decorations, and judging from her interaction with Courtney, she was a regular customer.  I jumped in the conversation, too, and learned that the woman's husband died recently and this would be her first Christmas without him.

I expressed my sympathy and then Courtney said, "I'm hoping her daughters surprise her for Christmas."  The woman explained to me that shortly after her husband's death she was contacted by her daughters in South America.  They had been kidnapped by her first husband when they were very young and despite years of effort, she hadn't heard from them since.  Oh, how I hope those girls show up--that would be a Christmas miracle where everybody wins.

So of course, yesterday I had to worry about that lady in line who I'll probably never see again, too.  It was one of those days.

The night, however, was a different story.  There's nothing like a good dive bar to shake some happiness into you, and last night Mike and I met my friend Kri and a bunch of other nice folks at Dino's Lounge on Las Vegas Boulevard, just north of the Stratosphere.  I've written about this place before, and my second time there was just as joyful.  Seriously, this is one of the best dive bars ever--right up there with The Deliri in Plattsburgh.

Dino's has karaoke on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the singers are generally much better quality than the average karaoke bar.  The DJ was fantastic and last night he sang Elton John's "Mona Lisa's and Mad Hatters" just beautifully.

It would have brought joyful tears to my eyes, but I had to laugh instead as I remembered that for decades I thought Elton John was singing, "Rocket man.... Rocket man... burning all the Jews I've ever known."  Then I got to thinking about another mondegreen I recently heard of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds:  "The girl with colitis goes by..."  That's a good one!

We had to leave Dino's early to head over to a party at my comic friend Joe Lowers' house, where he had a spread complete with a 23-lb. turkey dinner.  It was packed with comedians and their significant others and there was never a moment when you didn't hear somebody laughing.  The sorrow that had filled me all day was replaced by joy.  And alcohol.  Yeah, probably had a little too many last night, but I enjoyed every drop.

I got an email from my friend Tena the other day with a photo of a beautiful newborn baby attached. The infant is Ed's new grandson.  Life goes on.  We'd be crazy not to enjoy it while we can.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dinner, drinks, strip club, casino, movie and a kinky time in bed--that's Vegas, baby!

You know how some people put up those Facebook posts that would have you believe their lives are full of glamour and excitement and you should be so jealous of all the fun they're having? 

Well you can't accuse me of being like that.  I could have posted something like this last Friday night:

I could have posted that, but then I'd be one of "those" people.  Not that the Irish bar/strip club/casino/movie/bedtime adventure isn't all true.

Yeah, Friday night is our "date night" and we did go for dinner and drinks at our favorite Irish bar.

Ri Ra Irish Pub in Mandalay Place has THE most amazing fish and chips. I highly recommend, and if you have a local ID, you get a 40% discount on your food.  Amazing.  We go there on Fridays all the time.  And because we're such cheap-asses, we drank... water.  Yeah. Not a typo.  Hey, I had a 12-pack of Black Butte Porter that I got for only $9.99 at Lee's Discount Liquor in the fridge at home--you think we're gonna shell out 5 bucks for a Guinness? 

After the delicious meal and calorie-free drinks, we really did go to a "gentlemen's club." Believe me, neither of us are the strip club type (no judgment--it's just not for us), but the showroom at the Sapphire Club has comedy on Friday nights, so we were on a reconnaissance mission to see if it's a place I might want to perform. 

The showroom was just to the right after we walked in and it was quite nice, but we stayed for only one of the comic's sets--and didn't even order drinks--and then headed out.  Yes, we left a strip club without seeing one naked or mostly naked girl. Not one tit, though they usually come in two's.  That's how we roll.

From there we decided to stop in for a little action at the M Casino. Mike is a shrewd poker player who usually leaves with more money than he goes in with, but on this night, he left with the exact same amount.  In fact, he didn't even open his wallet because all we did was stop at Baby Cakes for some gelato, my treat. It was pretty much a quick in and out. No gamblin'. No drinkin'.

We did take in a movie. Yep, after the M we headed home--after all, it was 10:15 already!--and we settled in the master suite for a little cinematic action. By this point, you can predict that we weren't exactly tuning in to a soft-porn flick on Cinemax.  No, we fired up the Netflix, opened a beer (finally), and watched a typical it's-Friday-night-let's-go-crazy movie, The Grapes of Wrath.

God help us.  It gets worse.

After the movie we got comfortable between the sheets for some kinky stuff, and I mean for hours.  I'm talking wet-shag-anal-tingles! 

Words With Friends style.  Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! And look at the time--that wasn't even our last game.  I think we partied until 5 a.m. and thank God that Mike won--remember what happened to the poor Scrabble game when I kicked his ass in that?

At least with Word With Friends, it's not likely he'll get so pissed that he'll trash his iPad.  (He's come close, though.)

So how about that for a swingin' Friday night in Sin City? We actually had so much fun laughing at ourselves for being a couple of boring losers, it was a perfect night out--and in.  When you have someone to laugh with--especially at yourselves--you're very, very lucky.  No matter how pathetic you may be.


Nothing more to say

When I worked at the GE world headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut, I would drive from Albany through Newtown every Sunday night and would return on Friday afternoon.  My work buddy Bob, whom I talk about quite a bit in my book, lived there for several years with his family.  It's exactly the type of place you'd envision moving to if you were looking for a tight-knot community that offered a kinder, gentler way of life.

You're already on major overload with information about last week's tragedy and everybody's opinions on why it happened and what should be done to prevent something like that from happening again.  I won't add to that.  Those of you who've been reading my stuff for a while already know what I would say.

It's all so sad.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm too boring. Reveal yourselves!

Thanks for all your comments on my blog facelift! I'm still struggling to upload the video page--all the videos I've embedded turn into my third Bell's Palsy video and God knows we don't need to see that again. I don't know why it's doing that, but it's resulted in lots of swearing... and then I give up. I have no patience, you know that.

Speaking of, my new job is starting to ramp up. You know how it is when you start a new job. There's so much to learn and you have to set up your new infrastructure--email, access to the shared files, etc.
Even though I've been a technical writer for more than 20 years, I'm definitely not a technical person, so I have been swearing my head off this week trying to get from A to friggin' B.

Tuesday was the worst. I'd make 10 minutes of progress and then hit a roadblock that would take 20 minutes to overcome. This is the first job I've had where I've worked remotely right from the beginning--with the other ones, I worked in the office at first and then was able to work from home. Well, guess what? There's something to be said for being able to walk over to somebody's desk and say, "Hey, how did you set this up? What am I doing wrong?" and then they show you and you move on.

But working at home by yourself on a project where everyone's scattered throughout the country... that's a different story. Thank God I have Mike to get through this crap with me! He's a wiz. Otherwise, I would have taken a revolver to my laptop. And then maybe to myself.

My beloved blogging buddy Tara has a great post today entitled "I am Human" on her Out of the Lotus blog.  She writes about the negative things we tell ourselves, most notably, "I am such a fuck-up."  Reading that couldn't have come at a better time for me--that's exactly what I was telling myself all week long.  Why am I so stupid?  Why can't I get this?  Is everyone else struggling, too?  Am I just getting old?

If I let myself get swept into that downward spiral, I can convince myself that I've never made a good decision in my life, that I should never have set foot on my creative path, that had I just followed my father's advice and gotten "a good job with the state" after college, my life would be so much simpler and I wouldn't be spending every spare minute working on my goals for 2013 that I told you about a couple of weeks ago.

We can make a real mess of ourselves, can't we?  And of course, in real life I don't mean any of that. I spend half my life encouraging others to pursue their creative paths, and not just because misery loves company.

Can I just tell you how much I love being a comic?  Earlier today I wrote this sappy Facebook post.

Now, I do mean every word of that.  Enough about me, though; I'm even boring myself.  I want to know about you.  I look at my blog stats and wonder, who the hell are all these people?  Why do they keep coming back?  I have a long-time regular reader from St. Francisville, Lousiana, who has never revealed himself or herself, and believe me, I have asked.  Come on, isn't it about time?  I swear, if you come to Las Vegas, I will buy you a beer.

So all of you... Tell me about yourself!.   What are you working on?  What are some of your goals for 2013?  Where do you live?  What did you do today?  Do you like Warren Zevon?

These are the things I wonder about.  And now that I'm eliminated the stupid word verification, it's easier than ever to comment.  So tell me.  I'll buy you a beer, too!

Monday, December 10, 2012

It was time for a face lift!

Not me--I'm not going to mess with this face--my blog!  It was time to punch things up a bit.  Take a little tour around the tabs above and tell me what you think.  I've been jamming on this, which means there could totally be some typos in there.  I'm a really good writer, but as far as proofreading goes... by the time I'm ready to proofread, I'm so sick of looking at that crap and I start to see words that are in my brain but not on the page.  So let me know if you see anything, and hopefully you'll catch it before my mother does!

Also, to the right I added a place for you to sign up to receive my blog posts by email.  That's right--I'll come to you every Monday and Thursday instead of you having to come to me.  I'm not technologically savvy enough to know whether I'll ever see your email address, so don't worry about me spamming you.  I wouldn't do that anyway!

Also again, a couple of weeks ago I took the stupid off CAPTCHA verification so now you can comment without typing in those stupid letters that you can't even distinguish.  I know they were a real pain in the ass.

So let me know if there's any way I can make this blog more user-friendly and informative.  And as always, thank you so much for stopping by here.  I love you all!

P.S.  I also have a tab of videos, but for some reason I can't get them to post.  It's been causing me a lot of swearing, that's for sure.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book talk and a video that I'm wondering if you'll get

Last night I got the sweetest email from a young woman who recently read my book.

Hi my name is Rochelle. I came across your book and could not put it down. I enjoyed every moment of it. Thank you for the laughs.  I have but a few questions that I can't seem to ignore.
Do you now have a good relationship with your ex husband?  Is he better off in New Zealand?
I am sorry to pry, but I guess by the end of your book I was hoping that he stopped being such a 'Bastard' lol.   I want you to know that I am extremely happy you accomplished so much since YOU decided enough was enough. I will pass your book around to women who I think will benefit from reading such an inspirational book. You were very strong when dealing with your divorce and I take my hat off to you.
One last thing, I really admire the love you still have (had) for him. I believe you are a great writer and woman.

I'm always so moved when people actually take the time to write to me.  Of course, I wrote back and expressed my appreciation for her reaching out and making my day.

Mike told me quite a while ago, and with a perfectly straight face, that I will someday get to the point where I'll be too busy to respond to every reader I hear from.  I laughed, thinking that will never happen.  Mike is sticking to his prediction, and I guess I should think big and get on board with it as well.  Although right now sales are down a bit, overall my book has been doing incredibly well.  When I can ride Amazon's algorithm in just the right way, sales go through the roof.  Relatively speaking, of course.  But in the past 6 months I've had more sales than the first two and a half years of my book's release. 

You probably know that Bastard Husband: A Love Story is just a little self-published book.  I queried agents for two years with no success before deciding that my story was doing no one any good sitting in my laptop (which B.H. bought for me, post-divorce) and decided to form a publishing company and publish it myself.  At that time self-publishing was still kind of a last resort for aspiring authors.   

How times have changed.  This week's Time magazine has an interesting article about the state of the publishing industry today and the impact self-publishing has had.  "Self-publishing is no longer a mark of shame but a route to freedom, affirmation and a potentially vast pool of readers..." it says.  

Here's more:
  • Since 2006, annual production of self-published titles has more than tripled, to now more than 200,000
  • 30 of Amazon's top 100 sellers in October were self-published, and that self-published titles regularly appear on the New York Times e-book best-seller list. 
  • One study estimated that traditional publishing houses missed out on $100 million last year because of self-publishing

The article talks about one successful self-publisher and points out that "every book sold represents one more reader than she would have had if she had continued to accept the publishing industry's rejections."  No kidding!  That damn thing took me five years to write--twice as long as I was married to B.H.--and it would have been a shame if I'd just given up after amassing two years of rejections.  When I get emails from readers like Rochelle, or get Facebook messages or new "likes" on my Bastard Husband page, I know that all the work was worth it.  

There is a downside:  traditional publishers typically do some promotional work on the author's behalf, but being self-published, I own the rights to my story and any money made goes right to me.  And when Amazon's algorithm smiles on me, sales can be pretty sweet. The reason I'm telling you this is, if I can do it, so can you.  Writing a book takes a tremendous amount of work, but so does anything worthwhile. 

I am always so grateful for all of you who read my blog, and if you bought my book, too, I love you even more.  Anything you can do to help spread the word is so very appreciated!  Please do pass my book around to your friends, consider giving it as a Christmas present, and if you have a few minutes, Amazon reviews translate into more sales--even a couple of sentences would be awesome.  If you're pressed for time, just click "Like" on my Amazon page.  From what I understand, that will help get the algorithm's attention, too.

Changing subjects...  If you know me at all, you know I'm not a Christmas person.  It's a religious holiday, and I'm not religious--that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  But the other day one of my comic friends posted this on his Facebook site, and I immediately posted it on mine.

I was wondering how many of my 686 Facebook friends would get it.  I found this hilarious, but if you weren't around for the early days of Saturday Night Live, or don't know much about Andy Kaufman, this would be pretty meaningless.  My favorite part is the false start at :28 seconds.  Stupid!  But I laughed out loud, and only five of my friends "liked" or commented on my post.  (My blogging buddy grrouchie is one of the cool kids--no surprise to me!)

Humor is so subjective, no?  Weird.  A while back Mike and I were toying with the idea of creating a dating website that would match people up by their sense of humor.  But then I was like, how can we do that when we're not even humorly compatible ourselves? 

Yep, I hate to admit it, but I'm married to a guy who doesn't like Louis CK.  I know, right? I can hardly believe it myself.   If we'd seen each others' online profiles, maybe we wouldn't have bothered.  Mike does have a great sense of humor (he'd have to, to be married to me), but we don't always see eye to eye on what's funny. 

And no, he didn't get the Andy Kaufman clip.  I still love him, though--ha!--and let's hope his prediction about my book comes true.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Action-packed Vegas weekend!

Thanks for all the great comments on my last post about whether being a creative type is a blessing or a curse.  Great insights there.

Had a really fun weekend.  Friday night I emceed a fundraiser for the Susan G Komen for the Cure organization.  Here I am with a couple of the other comics, including little 7-year-old Gabby Yakchak, the youngest comedian in Las Vegas.  Yes, she's one of us! Adorable.

That's me, Gabby, her mother, Lynn Yakchak (who's also my hairdresser, God bless her), and Rosanne Michelle.  The event was held up at the Onyx restaurant in northwest Las Vegas--beautiful place.

After that I headed over to Bootlegger's and did a set in their Copa room.  The venue is gorgeous--just a few doors down from the restaurant--but is a little cavernous for comedy.  No complaints, though.  It was a nice gig and I sold a few books, so yay!

On Saturday one of my girlfriends from the old GE days flew into town.  "Babs" is here for a conference, but came in early so we could spend some quality time together beforehand.  Her real name is Jeneane, but we've been calling each other Babs for almost 15 years now.  There was a woman we worked with named Barbara who was a bit of a pill.  No, she was kind of a bitch.  One day in the lunch room Jeneane, kidding around (as we did), called her "Babs."  She responded with a throw-up burp look on her face and said, "It's Barbara.  I really don't like Babs."  So ever since then Jeneane and I decided we'd call each other Babs. 

After a 5-hour non-stop flight from Albany, Babs was pretty hungry so I whisked her right off to Ellis Island Casino and Microbrewery for the $7.99 steak special, which comes with a free 20-ounce beer.  Can't beat it.  (If you've never read my interview with the Ellis Island brewmaster Joe Pickett, click here.)  Then I took her over to the house to see Mike and the kids before we got her checked in at Green Valley Ranch.  I've always been curious about the rooms there and was eager to check it out.  GVR is a nice property, but my opinion on the room is... meh.  I'm gonna say not a great value for the price.  I was expecting more. 

Saturday night we took in the show at Big Al's Comedy Club in the Orleans. I'm working to get on this stage--it's a nice club.  Afterward we were going to check out the open jam at the Sand Dollar Lounge, which thankfully is now back to being a blues bar after a regrettable stint as a bikini bar, but instead we decided to chill at The Peppermill, which is always fun.  A guy was coming around taking souvenir photos, so here we are!

After hanging out in the lounge, we decided to get something to eat in the restaurant out front before calling it a night.  The angel on my shoulder told me to get something light, like soup.  But the devil on my other shoulder thought the strawberry shortcake would be a better idea.  I have no freakin' willpower, but I actually may have gone for the soup had I known my decadence would be so... humungous.

That was so not a good idea.  It'll take a lot of laps around the block to work that off.

On Sunday Babs and I made plans to get together around noon for lunch.  "Is it too early for beer?" I asked.  Being the great friend that she is, Babs answered with an emphatic, "NO!" so I took her over to the Yard House in Town Square.  Hello, Young's Chocolate Stout on tap!  Oh, yeah, the spicy jambalaya was good, too.

Since Babs had never seen Red Rock Canyon, I thought I'd take her out there.  On the way, we stopped for a look around Cactus Joe's and their amazing selection of outdoor decorations, but then the devil on my shoulder said, "Hey, Babs might like the Mountain Springs Saloon," so we headed up the hill.  Well yadda, yadda, yadda, it was dark by the time we left and Babs still hasn't seen Red Rock.

Babs and I ended our weekend together with dinner at Linda Michoacan, a Mexican restaurant in Henderson with a fantastic view of Las Vegas.  God help me, I probably gained five pounds in two days, but it was all worth it.  I love having friends from Albany come to town and Babs is so much fun.

Now I must go exercise.  I have a lot of extra weight to get rid of.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Being a creative type--blessing, curse or both?

I have a question for all you creative types out there:  Do you ever wish you were just a normal person?

Every once in a while, I go through a period where I question every decision I've ever made in life, including the decision to pursue a creative path.  I feel like I'm constantly overwhelmed with stuff I have to do and want to do, and the majority of it stems from my calling to be a writer and comedian.

During our session a couple of weeks ago, my fantastic comedy coach, Michael "Wheels" Parise, had me make a list of ten goals for 2013. I came up with eleven. I probably won't achieve everything on my list--or maybe I will--but it's something to strive for. And it should keep me out of trouble.

Linda' Goals for 2013
  1. Have my next book, "I'm a Mess, You're a Mess," ready for publication next spring or summer and hold some kind of release event
  2. Pursue bookings in A-level comedy clubs
  3. Get more speaking engagements for non-profit, women's groups, etc.
  4. Do spouse programs for the spouses of folks attending conferences here in Las Vegas
  5. Participate in library writing panels
  6. Speak at or participate in a panel at the 2013 Vegas Valley Book Festival
  7. Do more comedy fundraisers
  8. Create an audio book for Bastard Husband: A Love Story
  9. Formalize my mailing list, create a database, and send out regular correspondence to fans
  10. Give workshops on self-empowerment
  11. Speak at a writers' conference
Every single one of these comes with a list of steps that need to be taken in order to achieve that goal, and that's when I want to throw my hands in the air and just say, "Fuck it, I'm just gonna be a normal person who goes to work everyday, comes home and makes dinner, and then reads a little and watches TV and then goes to bed and does the same thing the next day." No more constantly pursuing, pursuing, pursuing...

I have friends who are writers, comedians, musicians, actors, artists, photographers, jewelry designers--all of us are doing whatever we can to get ourselves out there, to share our art with the world. Last night Mike and I attended my friend Wendy Roundtree's photography opening at the Henderson Multi-generational Center (running through 12/22). As I looked at her beautiful photos (and ate one free cookie after another), I thought of all the work it took Wendy to get to that point.  There's so much work behind the art.

Wendy on the right, Mike and I on the left

Wendy in the middle

So. much. work.  But I love when I get new reviews on Amazon and new "likes" for my Bastard Husband page on Facebook.  It makes my day when a reader takes the time to email me to say how much they enjoyed my book or blog.  I love it when friends come to see me perform--how cool that I'm able to provide a forum to get a bunch of people together for a fun night out--or strangers come up to me after a show and tell me they wish I were their friend in real life.  That's what makes it all worth it.

In the 2002 documentary Comedian, Jerry Seinfeld tells a great story about members of the Glenn Miller band, who, stranded in the middle of a cold, wet field, instruments in hand, are trudging on their way to a gig. They see bright lights and discover a happy family inside a cozy, warm home. Mom, Dad and the kids are sitting at the dinner table, laughing. One musician looks at another and says "How do they live like that?" 

That says it all.  We'd have it no other way.

Please, this holiday season remember to support your local artists! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Can't wait to share these photos!

This will make me terribly un-hip, but I have to share this pic of my beautiful grandchildren.  I am just bonkers for these two and can't wait to get my hands on them next month.

Can you blame me?  And look who's almost smiling in this one:

Looks like Hazel's in danger of losing her Most Serious Baby Ever title!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Great getaway for Thanksgiving and our first anniversary

I took a little bloggy break over Thanksgiving. Weird, since I started this blog in July of 2008, I've never gone a whole week straight without posting.  Hope everyone had a nice holiday!

Mike and I decided to spend Thanksgiving up at Zion National Park.  His kids were with their mom, so we thought we'd get away and celebrate our first anniversary.  Yup, one year ago today, we had our surprise wedding!  Man, how time flies.

I know a lot of you visit Las Vegas periodically, and if you've already been here several times, you'd be crazy not to check out Zion.  It's only about two and a half hours north of Vegas--you can easily make a day trip out of it, or spend the night to do some exploring.

 If you go, I highly recommend staying at the Desert Pearl Inn in Springdale not far from the entrance to the park.  The rooms are lovely and every one has a view of the rocks.  This is what it looked like from our patio:

They have a fabulous outdoor hot tub, which I love. It's a great place for a romantic getaway, and our little trip was full of romance, all right.  Here's a pic of me in a particularly romantic moment, playing Words with Friends with my beloved, who was on the couch three feet away from me.

Yup, this is how we celebrated our anniversary.  We've become addicted!  We're just about perfectly matched (Mike has a slightly better percentage of wins) and I swear to God, some nights we've played that goddamn game until 4:30 in the morning.  SICK!

This is funny. We're having dinner Thursday night and the hostess at the restaurant was this young, obviously lesbian girl.  Obvious to me, anyway--she hands Mike his menu, and with a big smile he says, "Why, thank you, my good man!" and as it's coming out of his mouth, he's realizing he's got it wrong, but at that point, there's no way to catch himself so he tries to tack "ma'am" on the end, which only makes it more awkward.  OMG, he is so entertaining.

The next day we headed over to Red Cliffs National Recreation Area, which is right off I-15 just north of the Hurricane exit you'd take to go to Zion.  This place is relatively unknown, and is absolutely beautiful. 

(I think I have that cheesy pose in about 90 percent of my hiking pictures.)

Utah is a gorgeous state, that's for sure.  Not that I'd ever want to live there again, but it's a beautiful place to visit.

Anyway, we had a really fun trip and we got home in time for me to do a set Friday night at the LVH (former Hilton).  I'm psyched that they keep asking me back.  Now it's back to reality--or my version of it.  Still waiting to start my new job; hopefully this week.

Hey, here's a picture I took of Mike on our walk around the 'hood yesterday.

I still find it weird that fall comes so late here; Columbus Day is peak season for color in the Northeast.  Soon it will be December...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snooping around Facebook

Be honest.  Have you ever, maybe after a couple of beers, Googled an old crush from your past or looked them up on Facebook? Come on, everybody's done that, right?

The other night while beloved husband was engrossed in the latest release of Black Ops, I don't know... I was a little bored and was clicking around on Facebook trying to find two guys I knew from my college days at SUNY Plattsburgh.  Both were from the Albany metro area, but I've seen neither of them since I left Plattsburgh in 1977.

I haven't really thought of them much in the past 35 years, though occasionally their names come up when my girlfriends and I get together.  The conversation goes something like, "Remember how cute Max was?" and "Remember Joey? Wasn't he adorable?" And they were.  They were really cute, really adorable.  And in our minds, they look exactly like they did when we knew them three and a half decades ago.

Guess what?  I found them on Facebook; they both have public profiles.  They no longer look like 20-year-old party boys; today they're 55-year-old men. That was a little jarring--no more shoulder length hair on either of them--though they both look good.  I would have easily recognized one, but not the other.  I don't know why I expected them to be frozen in time.  Really, right?

My Facebook profile is public, too, and now I wonder who might have been nosing around my site.  Not that I care; otherwise, I wouldn't have it public.  Of course, we've all reconnected with people from the past through Facebook; it's the ones who take a look and slip away--as I did-- that we'll never know about.

I wonder, too, what they'd think when they land on my page.  As far as looks go, not too much has changed.  My hair is lighter than (but just as shitty as) when I was in college.  Weight-wise, I'm close to 30 pounds heavier, but I pray I never see 110 again--something would be horribly wrong. Certainly no one would believe I'm a comedian. An author? That wouldn't be too much of a stretch.  But I'd be shocked if anyone from my past would remember me as being funny.

Weird.  Have you ever done some Facebook snooping?  Were you surprised at what you found?  Or who found you?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Make it a point to have FUN!!!

Yesterday during our weekly meeting my comedy coach, Michael Parise, remarked, "You're always happy.  No matter what you have going on, you seem to be positive."

Okay, you know and I know that I'm picky, picky, picky and in a nearly perpetual state of annoyance (don't get me going about people who talk in the movie theater) (or even breathe too loudly), but yeah--overall, he's right. I've always been a happy person.  I don't know about when I was a little girl--I imagine I was happy--but I can definitely remember a kid coming up to me in Hackett Junior High School and giving me an exaggerated smile right in my face, mocking my own expression.  I can only conclude that I must have been walking around looking pretty happy without realizing it, which evidently displeased my schoolmate.

I think I get happier the older I get.  Maybe because I have more of an appreciation for everything and everybody I have in my life. Not in that order, of course.  I know one thing:  I'm so appreciative of my health.  I've said before that if you wake up in the morning, can walk to the bathroom and see yourself in the mirror, and then take a proper piss and shit... well, you have nothing to complain about.  (Since my Bell's Palsy experience in September, I should say, "see yourself blinking in the mirror.")

I agree with the Dali Lama's statement above. I'll even go further to say that the purpose of life is to HAVE FUN, and no matter what I do, I try to find the fun in it.  Like Mary Poppins said, "For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! the job's a game."  Okay, that might not apply to everything--God knows I've done some time in cubicles where, trust me, there was no friggin' fun to be had.  But if we think HAPPY and think FUN, I believe we're more apt to experience it. 

So, let's do this.  Right now, make a list of five fun things that you love to do.  Be specific--don't just say "travel," say where you like to travel to and what you like to do when you're there.  If you come up with more than five things, that's awesome.

Take a look at the list you just created.  I bet that most of the things on your list cost little to no money.  When is the last time you've done any of them?

Now go through the contacts on your cell phone and make a list of all the people you have fun with. Who are your most positive friends, the ones who crack you up?  When did you last spend some time with them? I bet it's been too long.

So make a plan. Pick a fun activity to do with a fun person and make a definite plan.  Put it on your calendar in ink.  This will give you something to look forward to, and just the thought of it will make you happy.

Let's make a conscious choice to have more fun--it shouldn't be something that happens just once in a while, almost by mistake.  Plan for fun, expect fun.  Fun makes for a happy life. And that, not the Hokey Pokey, is what it's all about.

Hey, comment away!  I took the pain-in-the-ass word verification off--I know it really was annoying. I'll probably get spammed a lot, but this will make it a lot easier to comment.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Update on Hurricane Mikey!!!

I know a lot of you landed here at one point or another via blogger extraordinaire Hurricane Mikey's site.  A former poker dealer, Mikey had a wildly popular blog about his antics on and off the job here in Las Vegas.  In Summer 2010 he moved back to Tennessee to be closer to his loved ones, and almost immediately faced a life-or-death battle with a blood clot in his lungs. Mikey won; a mere two months later, he was well enough to take a cruise with his family and since then he's been committed to improving his health.  Last April he had gastric bypass surgery (or something like that--I'm not sure of the procedure's exact name) and since then has lost about 125 pounds. He's still has a way to go to meet his goal, but man, he is determined.   He looks fantastic!

Hurricane Mikey, raconteur and ladies' man

 Mikey hasn't posted on his blog in a year, but he's doing fine. Now, anyway. Last week was another story; he gave us another scare.  Earlier this summer he ended up back in the hospital with another round of pulmonary embolism problems.  They did a CAT scan and his doctor noticed his lymph nodes were swollen, so Mikey was referred to an oncologist. Nobody, NOBODY ever wants to be referred to an oncologist, right?

Since then they ran all kinds of tests, but couldn't nail down what, if anything, was wrong. Last Monday he went in the hospital again for a couple of days for a biopsy.  I talked with him for quite a while on Thursday night.  He said they're hoping it would come back negative (duh), in which case he'd be fine. Otherwise, he'd be looking at one of two types of lymphoma. He said he'd be finding out the next day at his 11:00 appointment with the oncologist and promised he'd let me know either way.

I woke up Friday morning to a text that read, "Cancer free!  Woot!"  Oh, happy day!

With this latest ordeal behind him, Mikey will be back to work at his this week, and will continue to work toward his health goals--he's turned himself into an avid hiker.  I've offered him to guest post on my blog whenever he wants--let's hope he takes me up on that, or better yet, gets back to posting on his own blog.  He's a natural writer, and I know he'll do something with all that talent. Because if for no other reason, I'll nag him like crazy.

So long sigh of relief for Mikey.  As you know, I have quite a few friends who've been struggling with health issues, including cancer.  If you haven't checked out my friend Lisa McGlaun's blog about her experience with breast cancer, Dispatches from Planet Pink, be sure to do so. Very enlightening.

Recently I wrote about my friend Donna, whose husband was recently diagnosed with ALS.  Donna raised over $1500 in donations for her ALS walk.  And my friend Chuck in Albany, who needs a kidney and liver transplant, met with the team in Boston and is one step closer to having that be a reality. 

Speaking of, I posted this on Facebook yesterday--a text my grandson, Connor, sent me.

Can you see why I adore that kid?

Stay healthy, folks!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This and that, newsletter style

New job update.  Well, guess what?  My work-at-home dream job has been postponed for "a few weeks."  Nothing I can do about it but growl and hope that I don't get another email saying, "a few more weeks." Or "after the first of the year."  They've hired on a bunch of us instructional designers throughout the country--I guess it's a huge project and they want to make sure they have everything in place before the project launches.  Fair enough, but just in case it really doesn't start in "a few weeks," I'm following up on the other prospects that coincidentally came to the surface when I got the offer.  Sigh.  The good news is, even if something else does come through, I can work that job part-time. You know, in my free time between writing a book, doing comedy, being a wife, etc., etc...

Conversation the other night at dinner with Mike's 7-year-old:
Step-daughter:  "Linda, when I get old, I want to be like you.
Me (sweetly):  "You do?"
Step-daughter: "No, I don't want to be like you, I just want to look pretty like you.  But I don't want to be like you."
Me (thinking to myself): You mean you don't want to be bitchy like me?
Step-daughter:  "I think it's too hard to write books."
Me: "Ooooh...."
New book update:  I read a few pages of the new book I'm working on at this week's meeting of the Henderson Writers Group and I'm happy to report it was very well received.  It's going to be a collection of ruminations on a variety of topics such as love, work, family, etc.  I'm pulling from four years of blog posts, essays and articles I've written, my stand-up material, as well as new stuff.  The writers at the meeting thought it was hilarious.  Working title is I'm a Mess, You're a Mess.  What do you think?

I need your opinion!  I'm doing a little informal research here for the book.  Do you ever catch yourself checking out a someone who's obviously older than you?  What caught your eye?  Leave a comment or email me at

Inspiring blog for you to check out.  I've written several times about my dear friend Lisa McGlaun.  Lisa is one of the nicest people I've ever met, and not annoyingly nice, if you know what I mean.  She's a beautiful and talented writer, and she just started a new blog, Dispatches from Planet Pink,  about her journey (I hate that word, but it kind of fits) with her July 2010 breast cancer diagnosis.  Don't think, "Who the hell wants to read about something so depressing?"  Her posts are so well written and they're truly enlightening, though they're hard to read without hoping the content never applies to you.  Sadly, we all seem to know someone who's been down that road.  As of this writing, she has four posts; my advice is to start from the beginning and make your way up.  Check it out--you can't help but love her!

Old book update.  You probably saw at the top of the page that this weekend I'm participating in a Kindle promotion and will be offering my memoir, Bastard Husband: A Love Story, for free on Saturday and Sunday, November 10 and 11.  You don't need to have a Kindle--you can also download to your iPhone, iPad, or PC.  I did this promotion back in September--and kept it under the radar to test it out--and the results were amazing.  I sold tons of books, I mean e-books, and got some really nice emails from readers.  Fingers crossed for this time!

Funny joke I heard.   People are always telling me jokes, adding, "You can use that" just like Rich Little did Sunday night.  (He, of course, was kidding.)  A friend at the writers' group meeting told me this one.
Eighty-year-old guy walks into a singles' bar, approaches a woman and says, "Do I come here often?"
That made me laugh! But any (good) comic would like the world to know that we'd never perform anything that's already "out there."  Funny as they may be.

Have a great rest of the week and weekend!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Another typical Las Vegas weekend...

What is it with people???  Saturday morning my friend Lisa Gioia Acres and I attended a memoir panel as part of the Vegas Valley Book Festival. Lisa nudged me and pointed toward the end of our row of seats to a man who sat there CLIPPING HIS FINGERNAILS.  (It's a miracle I didn't hear that clicking sound first--UGH!)  Yes, evidently this guy decided that was the time and that was the place to take care of some personal grooming. Personal grooming that is best taken care of in the privacy of one's bathroom. With the door closed.

I just can't imagine.  

Anyway... on Sunday Lisa and I went to the 17th annual open house of the Hammargren Home of Natural History in celebration of Nevada Day.  Lonnie Hammargren is a former lieutenant governor of Nevada and a neurosurgeon who has a crazy collection of... everything... in three adjacent homes.  An Apollo space capsule, dinosaur skeleton, Liberace's staircase--anything you could think of.  We're talking 12,000 square feet of junk--probably what our house would look like if I let Mike stop at every friggin' estate auction and garage sale he passes--and it's inside and out.

Doesn't everyone have a round bed on a revolving platform surrounded by carousel horses?

NOT the centerpiece I'd want for Thanksgiving dinner

No, Mike, that would NOT look good in our living room

If you drive down Sandhill between Tropicana and Flamingo, you can see some of the stuff in his yard.

Sometimes you don't know what you're looking at

On the right, that's a roller coaster with headless mannequins

There's even crap in the pools!

The entertainment was great, too!

Lonnie in front of the stage in his yard

You know I'm a minimalist--I like order and I can't stand junk all over the place. And I can truly say I've never seen so much junk in my life.  But despite my palpable uneasiness with all the clutter, this place was definitely worth seeing.  If you haven't been yet, plan on going next year for sure.  It's indescribable.  For more, check out this site and watch the video. 

Anyway... I got a text to do another set for the Late Night Comedy Show at the LVH (former Hilton) last Thursday and then ended up performing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, too.  A couple of nights I got there a little early and watched the last half hour of Rich Little's Jimmy Stewart and Friends show from up in the balcony, where I and the other comics hang out waiting for our show to start. Those of us born before 1960 remember watching Rich Little on TV, maybe on Laugh In or The Dean Martin Comedy Hour.  His show at the LVH is excellent--very well done, and full of memories for the older folks... like me.

I got to meet him up in the balcony last night after his show and before ours. He was very personable and relayed this little gem: "Did you know Abraham Lincoln was Jewish? He got shot in the temple." And then he said what EVERYONE says to comics, something that makes every comic roll his or her eyes: "You can use that." Hahaha!

On Saturday night there was a special guest in the audience: Louie Anderson, who's had a show for ages over at Palace Station.  I got to talk with him after the show and he gave me some really encouraging feedback and some pointers on how to improve my performance. 

Forgive me, I know I've said it before, but I have to pinch myself sometimes. I look at the stuff I'm telling you and I can't believe I'm talking about my own life.

I started my new job today. In my pajamas.