Saturday, September 29, 2012

I'm eating fruit now, and other changes ahead!

Thanks so much for your advice about my next writing project. As you know, I'm brilliant at telling other people what to do, but when it comes to my own life, sometimes I can't see the forest from the trees.  I appreciate your taking the time to give your input, both here and on my Facebook page.

With this Bell's Palsy experience just about all behind me now, I feel the energies changing.  My chiropractor/kinesiologist, Dr. Alex Bellinghausen, has me taking Vitamin B, zinc, Vitamin D and essentially fatty acids, and I really do feel an increased energy level.  (I love that guy--totally recommend.) After lying low with the Bell's, I'm back to exercising.  And I'm eating better--I even had an apple (!) a few minutes ago.  Yikes, did hell freeze over?

Other exciting things happening... I have two hot job prospects on the radar screen, and I'm excited about them both.  I should know more by the end of next week.  Doesn't it always happen that nobody seems interested and then all at once, you're the prettiest girl at the party?  Whoever makes an offer first gets me.  I won't mention that "bird in hand" saying because that's disgusting.

What else... Because of the Bell's, I haven't done a bit of comedy since my show last month in August, but I'm just about ready to get back in the saddle.  The downtime I've had in the past few weeks has allowed me to do some soul searching about where I am now and where I want to go.  Like I always say, the Universe unfolds in divine order, and I've made a great connection with a Vegas headliner who does private coaching.  We had a chance to talk last week at a meeting with a bunch of comics, and I think he can really help me break into corporate comedy.  Although I love my filthy stuff, I have a lot of clean material and a strong corporate background--something that gives me an edge.  Our first session is on Monday, and I am pumped!

So I think the next few months are going to be interesting.  But don't worry--I'm not going to overextend myself. I'm finding ways of cutting back, beginning here at home.  The last time I saw Dr. Alex, he told me about a patient who wasn't progressing at the rate she should.  He asked what was going on in her personal life and she said that her adult children--and their children--came back to live with her.  After he drilled her a bit, she realized that simply having them there translated to more work for her--more cooking, more cleaning, more laundry.  She needed to set boundaries in order to regain her health. 

Oh, yeah. I heard that loud and clear. I've been stepping back myself. Most of us feel like we need to make sure everyone is taken care of, but sometimes it's simply not our role or responsibility.  If Mike thinks it's okay for his kids to spend so much time in front of the TV or computer screen, that's fine with me. I think it's a shame that his 11-year-old isn't taking piano lessons, considering his talent, but it's not my role to source out piano teachers.  I'll do Mike's laundry, but he's in charge of his kids clothes.  I've said this before about the kids' beds, and after a month or so, I couldn't bear to have them sleep in dirty sheets and so I broke down.  This time I will be stronger...

It's a difficult position to be in because as his wife I want to help him, and I do--I love editing his stories and helping with the software application he's developing.  But when it comes to doing stuff in the house, I have to draw the line somewhere.  Wow, I wasn't going to get into that, but I have a psychic sense that there's a reader or two out there who needs to hear it, just as much as I need to reinforce it with myself.

Anyway, I'm excited about this energy shift I feel coming on.  And Wednesday is my birthday--a great time for renewal.  I always love birthdays, and now that I'll be 55, I can apply for my senior discount at Ross. Sweeeeet!!!

How about you?  What are you pumped about?  

What do you need to start saying "no" to?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Need your advice -- what's my next writing project?

You know how you can be brilliant at telling other people what to do, but not have a clue when it comes to your own life?  I need some of your brilliance, specifically as to what direction to take with my next writing project.

My book has been doing really well on Amazon this week. If you're my Facebook friend, you may have seen this post on Tuesday:

Figures change hourly, but as I write this on Tuesday morning, Bastard Husband is up to #3, way ahead of Steve Martin, who's now at #8. And I'm #1 in a couple of divorce categories.

I know I have a good product; I know it's well written and that people of all ages and both sexes really like it. Everyone asks when my next book will be out--it's been almost three years since BH was released.  The truth is, I have no freakin' clue.  I don't even know what my next book will be about.

I've been kicking around ideas over the past couple of years, but I can't seem to find the passion to get anything rolling and maintain the momentum. Here's what I've come up with:
  • A David Sedaris type of book, a collection of funny reflections on life.  Kind of general topics. 
  • A humorous self-esteem boost in the vein of some of my "Great advice from me" posts.
  • (Working title) How to Survive Your Day Job Until You Can Quit Your Day Job -- elaborating on this post.  This would leverage my years of experience in corporate outplacement and teaching career development workshops, but it would be funny, too.
  • A screenplay (or regular play) in the vein of My Dinner With Andre, the 1981 film in which Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory share their lives over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant. My version would be funny, and with two women.  My Dinner with Andrea.
  • A screenplay in the vein of The Straight Story, the 1999 film in which an old man (Richard Farnsworth) makes a long journey by tractor to mend his relationship with an ill brother.  My version is actually a lot different--an 8-year-old girl is growing out of her cool little motorized car and drives cross-country by herself to deliver it to a young relative. I got this idea from Mike's daughter, who wants to give her car to my granddaughter, Hazel, in New York because she's getting too big for it. It's a fantasy--duh--but having made two cross-country trips myself, I know some places she could stop and meet characters along the way.  And you know the kid's gonna end up in a biker bar.  I think this is actually my favorite of the possible projects.

So what do you think?  Does anything grab you? Do you have an idea for something completely different?  

Or maybe I'm just a one-hit wonder, the Norman Greenbaum of memoir writing.  Norman Greenbaum... an obscure reference that I know a few of you will get. :)  I love doing that.

Please send your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The end of the Bell's Palsy Chronicles

Thankfully, this Bell's Palsy ordeal is just about behind me. Last week was tough. I signed up to volunteer at The World Series of Comedy, put on by my buddy Joe Lowers, but it was all I could do to sit through the afternoon workshops; there was no way I could attend the evening events. I felt fine while resting at home and just hanging out with Mike, but being out in circulation drained me.  I've discovered I must use pretty animated expressions when I talk, because when conversing with people I kept feeling this pulling sensation on the dead side of my face, like it was struggling to keep up with the good side.  And it was tiring me out.

I was really getting bummed--I'm a social being!--and I was like, am I ever going to be able to socialize properly again?  Saturday was the first day I felt like my old young self, and I've been pretty good ever since. 

Bell's Palsy is a weird experience, all right.  Yesterday I went to a chiropractor who said it was caused by inflammation, which is the result of my shitty diet.  I really liked the guy, though. He wasn't judgmental and he was very good about the look I shot him when he suggested I learn to cook with spices. HA-ha-ha!!!  Why don't I buy a friggin' juicer while I'm at it?

Look, I would give anything (not really) to be able to say, "Wow, that salad was delicious!" or "I could totally eat beans at every meal," but the truth is, I hate that shit. Corn is tasty, but that's bad for you.  I do like spinach and broccoli, but guess what?  I'm not supposed to eat broccoli because of the hypothyroid condition I've have for like 20 years and I don't know what's wrong with spinach, but that's on the Don't Eat list, too.  Eff moi.  I will, however, exercise till the cows come home, so that should count for something.

Anyway, he did say one thing that got my attention: Corn oil and soybean oil are to cancer what fertilizer is to crabgrass. That will get me checking the labels. So there goes my mayonnaise, but the last time I looked, there's none of that in Guinness.  God bless us.

Hey, here's another video I posted on Facebook last night.  This will probably be the end of the Bell's Palsy Chronicles, though I still have a little way to go before my eye is back to normal. 

Don't think I'm special--there are a ton of Bell's Palsy videos on YouTube.  And man, when I see some of them, I think how lucky I am that I had such a mild case.

Thanks so much for your support throughout.  I'm a very lucky gal!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A wake for a stand-up kind of guy

This post is courtesy of my sister Lori, who clued me into this news item. It's a couple of months old, and maybe you've already heard of it. But still, it's a good one!

Back on July 8, New Orleans vocalist, bass drummer and assistant leader of the Treme Brass Band "Uncle" Lionel Batiste died of cancer. He was 81. If you watch the HBO show Treme, you may recognize him as the skinny guy with the big drum, one of the acts regularly featured on the show.  It was reported that Batiste used his drum to stay afloat in the floods after Hurricane Katrina.

Well, check this out. At his wake they had him all dressed in an upright position, wearing sunglasses and leaning on a light post...

... while family and friends danced and played music all around.

Now, I thought it was cool that we had a billboard of my father at his wake, but this is genius. Imagine the possibilities of standing up.  You're not a corpse; you're more like a work of Madame Tussaud! You could wear dangling earrings--they can't dangle if you're lying in a casket.  And if you have great legs, you can show them off right till the very end.  Brilliant.

As for me, I was thinking they could pose me in something like this:

Now we're talking about a party!

As Louis Charbonnet, proprietor of the Charbonnet-Labat-Glapion Funeral Home, told the New Orleans Times Picayune, "You have to think outside the box."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BIRDS... scary as shit (But the movie was awesome!)

If a bird ever flew into me, two things would happen: I'd have to stand in a Karen Silkwood shower until my skin melted off and then I'd spend the rest of my days in a mental ward, rocking in the fetal position.

People always ask, "Why do you hate birds so much?  Is it because of the movie?"  Well, I hate birds because they're filthy and random and yes, I did see the movie as a kid, but I don't remember it as being a defining ornithophobic moment.  In fact, I love Hitchcock's movie--I consider it to be a documentary--and so when I found out that TMC was presenting The Birds on the big screen last night, I had to be there.

The theater was pretty full. Now, you know me-- I normally glare at fellow moviegoers if they so much as breathe too heavily, but the crowd made it fun. I went by myself because Mike had an open house at the high school, but a nice older couple sat next to me for protection and I'm sure the man thought I was a nut job for covering my eyes during every close-up shot of birds--whether they were attacking or not.

The Birds was made in 1963, which makes it 49 years old. Of course, the special effects would be different today, but overall it held up well. Here are some random thoughts that went through my head as I watched, along with some facts I pulled off IMDB:

  • Tippi Hendren's character, Melanie Daniels, wore the same green suit through the entire movie. (Well, maybe it wasn't the exact same suit, but it's the only thing the audience sees her in.)  She goes to Bodega Bay on a Saturday, stays Saturday night at Annie the schoolteacher's house, stays Sunday night at Mitch's, and the movie ends Monday night.  Yes, she did buy a nightgown in town, but three days in the same outfit? Phew!
  • That said, she looked beautiful and timeless.  Now, there's something you can't say about a movie made in the 80s.
  • Man, people really lit up back then!  In the classic scene outside the schoolhouse, Melanie's sitting there, smoking away.  Imagine seeing a woman in a suit sitting in the schoolyard puffing away on a cigarette now? She'd be arrested!

  • Toward the end of the movie after Mitch pulls Melanie from the bird attack upstairs, he lies her on the couch.  I thought it was funny that the first thing he barks to his younger sister, Cathy, is,"Get the bourbon!" He then pours a glass and guides it to Melanie's lips. 
  • Did you know that Veronica Cartwright, who played Cathy, is the older sister of Angela Cartwright?  Angela Cartwright played Penny on one of my favorite shows from childhood, Lost in Space.  
  • Jessica Tandy, who played Mitch and Cathy's mother, was born in 1909, making her 54 years old when the movie came out.  That's my age now!!!  I guess if you imagine her with her hair dyed and styled differently, she'd look pretty good, but man, I always thought of her as being really old in the movie.

  • Remember Mrs. Bundy, the know-it-all old lady in the restaurant after the birds attacked the school?  Her name in real life was Ethel Griffies and she was born in 1878!!!  That means she was 85 in 1963. She was as scary as the birds--reminds me of my old gym teacher from junior high.  Talk about repressed memories.

Anyway, experiencing The Birds in the movie theater was awesome.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen it on TV, but I don't know when I last watched it straight through from the beginning. No matter how big your TV is at home, you pick up so much more on the giant screen, and because you can't text in the theater or tend to other distractions, you have to give the movie your full attention. Which it deserves.

Oh, what fun!

Don't forget, you can get yourself a Tippi Hendren Barbie Collector doll on Yes, "Echoed from the set of the classic Alfred Hitchcock film -- the surreal and spellbinding Tippi Hendren, as beautiful socialite Melanie Daniels, in cinematic detail with the unpredictable birds." And the best part is, it's only $129.99!

But you know what the REAL collector's item will be:  The Linda Lou Collector doll.  Now, this will be worth something someday!  What an incredible investment!

I'm just not right...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oh, it's just a laugh a minute...

This not being able to blink thing is really making me cranky.  My amateur video series, "The Bell's Palsy Chronicles," has helped keep my spirits up, and your good wishes really mean so much to me.  I do feel loved, even though I can't possibly be lovable right now.  Grrrr.... 

I wish I could adopt fellow blogger Carmel Josephine's cheery approach to dealing with adversity:
"Today I choose to see the doughnut, not the hole."
 But I'm not that strong a woman.  (Carmel, that is friggin' brilliant.)

Remember in Pee Wee's Big Adventure when Pee Wee lost his bike and suddenly everyone on earth had a bike but him?  That's how I feel.  The other day I was watching the Starbuck's barista take my order and I'm thinking, Yeah, you just go ahead and blink... that's it...  keep blinking right in front of me, you blinking bastard.


Sunday morning was a real drag; I couldn't get my eye to stop tearing.  Mike and I were having brunch at Crepe Expectations, my favorite breakfast spot, and we were sitting right next to this other couple when The Monkee's "Daydream Believer" came on.  My eye's running like hell, and as I dab a tissue at my eye, I say to Mike, "I still can't believe Davy Jones is dead."  The guy gives me a look like, Wow, really?  Still crying over Davy Jones' death?

Did you know George Clooney had Bell's Palsy when he was in middle school? Kids can get it, too--oh, how it must suck for them. Thank God I have it and not Connor or one of Mike's kids.

Speaking of celebrities... I swear to God, when I was reading People magazine in the doctor's office last week, I saw a photo of Stephen Tyler and all I could think was...

... God bless her, but Carly Simon is NOT aging well.

Anyway, I've been reading that the eye is the last thing that gets back to normal, and thankfully, I have seen a bit a progress with my mouth, so that's good.  And I still haven't hit the 2-week mark yet, and really, most of what I read says it takes more like 3 weeks.  Remember when I said I won't be posting about this all the time?  Yeah, not yet.

In the meantime, I'm still taping my eye at night and am lying low, trying to be good to myself.  Like last night I had two bowls of ice cream for dinner and two beers for dessert.  Hey, this isn't going to last forever.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'm a terrible patient with no patience

Thank God I don't have anything seriously wrong with me, because as you can imagine, I make a terrible patient.

Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment at Nevada Eye and Ear, per instructions from the St. Rose Hospital ER.  My appointment was for 2:30, and as soon I as walked in there, I knew I was in for it. The packed waiting room reminded me of the DMV at the end of the month, except half the people there couldn't/shouldn't drive--lots of kids running around and elderly folks in sunglasses.  Of course, I immediately start in with the mental groans and feel like Larry David when I have to sign in at the desk for everyone to see.

As I'm filling out the paperwork, the woman who'd been sitting a couple of seats away walked by me in search of a new magazine. She had on a flowing blue skirt, funky jewelry, cool sandals, beautiful silver hair... I'd say she was about 70.

"You look gorgeous," I told her, smiling out of the side of my mouth that still actually smiles.

My compliment jolted her.  "Well, I wasn't expecting that," she said. She tried to smile back, but it wasn't forthcoming. I could tell she was doing everything possible to suppress her bitch face. "Thank you.  I've been waiting for over an hour.  Yeah, they don't think we have anything better to do."

Hellloooo, kindred spirit!   But she's been waiting over an hour?  FML.

I return my paperwork and the girl at reception directs me to the other side of the waiting area, so I can no long co-rant with my new best friend.  Bummer.  Fortunately, I sit right next to the new double issue of People magazine, so I'm happy for the moment. I'm about a third of the way through it, thinking how Violet Affleck has always been my favorite celebrity kid, when they call my name and move me through a maze to an exam room.

Where I sat.  And sat.  And sat.  And bitched on Facebook that the People in the exam room was from May 16, 2011.  Oh, there was also a Newsweek from March and another from April.  Maybe the Golf magazine was more current; I didn't look.  Oh, and there was a bird and garden magazine, too, which I wouldn't go near.

At about 3:45 the doctor comes in.  I get the feeling he's slightly annoyed that he has to work on a Friday afternoon or has recently been questioning his career choice.  He makes me squint my eyes and smile widely and then pucker my lips. I tell him my left eye is still not blinking and it's making me mental.

"I'm going to send you for a hearing test," he says.

No, I'm gonna send YOU for a hearing test.  I just told you my EYE doesn't blink.

So he leaves, another doctor comes in and leads me down the hall for the hearing test.  "Your hearing is good," she says. What a shock.

I go back to the exam room and wait, wait, wait and finally the doctor comes back.  I tell him my face around my eyes and cheekbones hurts.  And the gland near my left ear is tender.  Maybe I have a sinus infection?

No response.  I'm thinking, Could you just feel my glands?  Humor me!

"Are you taping your eye shut at night?" he says.

I nod.


What do I say?  Yeah, I've completed Tape Your Eye Shut 101 and have passed the certification? Just for fun, I tell him about the green tea bag eye patch I invented.

No response. He starts in about how critical it is to lubricate my eye and keep it shut at night and I could do permanent damage to my eye if I don't.  I start to freak, like everything I've been doing is not quite good enough and now I'm going to be blind in one eye.

"What if there's already damage?" I ask, tearing up this time because I'm ready to cry.

He looks at me.  "There's not." 

I'm thinking, Could you just shine a light in my face?  Again, humor me! A doctor in Albany once told me that the main reason he uses his stethoscope was not that he was concerned about the patient's heart, but that it gave him thinking time.  That's the kind of doctor I like!

Again he leaves the room and I'm waiting... Finally I got out of there at about 4:15 with another prescription for Predisone.  On my way out, the girl tries to set up an appointment in two weeks.  I tell her don't bother; I won't be coming back.

Man, I hate the medical loop.  My heart goes out to people with serious or chronic conditions.  Every week I talk to my friend in Albany who's in need of a kidney/liver transplant, and I swear, I don't know how he keeps his sanity. He's dealing with a ton of specialists and half the time the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

You have to be so proactive; you're the one who's ultimately responsible for your own health care.  We have to remember--we're health care consumers. If a provider doesn't satisfy you, make a change and keep looking until you find someone you like.  I told Mike, this whole experience makes me realize that we need to find a good primary care doctor, someone who takes a holistic approach and doesn't roll his eyes when you mention acupuncture.

Anyway, it looks like it will be at least another week until I see some real improvement.  Again, it's not that bad, I'm not disfigured or anything; the inability to blink is the real pain in the ass.  And I assure you, I will be posting about other topics.  You have to be as tired of this as I am.

One of the reasons I love Louis CK so much is because he's as impatient as I am.  Here's a clip of his bit about waiting in line at the post office.  (Language warning)  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not much progress, and patience is not my virtue

Today marks the first week of my big adventure with Bell's Palsy, and let me tell you, I just want to rip the pages off the calendar till this thing runs its course.  I feel fine, but not being able to blink is maddening.  And the most frustrating thing is, I don't see an iota of progress. Nothing.  It's actually still too early to expect anything; everything I've read says it takes two weeks (or more--sometimes months) for the symptoms to abate.  Tomorrow I see the eye-ear specialist, so maybe he can shed some light on things.

As I said, I'm lying low.  To entertain myself on Tuesday, I learned iMovie and put together this little video.  Anything for a laugh...

You can see, it's not that bad. Certainly not as bad as it could be.

So that's all I have.  I'm boring, boring, boring.  Hopefully not for much longer, though.

Thanks for you comments--both here and on Facebook--and your private messages.  Really means a lot!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How make-up saved my life

Okay, I'm being overly dramatic here, but putting on make-up did play a part in alerting me to the fact that I needed medical attention... and sooner rather than later.

Last Thursday morning while Mike and I were taking our daily walk, I remarked that I might be getting a toothache. Except I really couldn't pinpoint it in my mouth, and maybe it was my jaw.  Or maybe it was my ear?  And my left eye was watering non-stop, driving me crazy (short trip).

I didn't think much of it, though.  When we got home, Mike showered and left to see a client; I scoured the job postings (what else is new).  I finally took a shower in the afternoon and when I was putting on my eyeliner, I noticed that I couldn't close my left eye properly. Then I panicked when I realized that eye WASN'T BLINKING! Then when I was putting on lipstick, I saw that my mouth was uneven.  I remembered how the day before I thought one eyebrow was higher than the other, but I just dismissed that as over-scrutinizing my face in the mirror (you know me).

Of course, I jumped to the conclusion that I was either having a stroke or a brain tumor--malignant, no doubt.  As I've told you before, I'm no hypochondriac, but I will admit to being an alarmist. A mild headache is not the remnants of a hangover, but an undiscovered brain tumor. A bad cold? Walking pneumonia. I once marched myself to Urgent Care and demanded that the physician on duty investigate the possibility that my stiff neck was a severe case of meningitis. He rolled his eyes and murmured something under his breath about hating the goddamn Internet.

I called Mike with, "Honey, can you come home?" in my fake "Stay calm, everything's okay" voice and then called my primary care doc.  I relayed my symptoms to whomever answered the phone; she called back about 15 minutes later saying the doctor said to go to the ER.  (Really, he couldn't call me himself?)  While I waited for Mike, I plugged my symptoms into the goddamn Internet and concluded I'd gotten myself a case of Bell's Palsy, named after Sir Charles Bell, a 19th century Scottish surgeon who was the first to describe the condition.

Turns out I was right.  The doc in the ER put me on Prednisone for a few days, so hopefully that'll help.  Thankfully, it's a mild case--you'd never notice if I didn't point it out, which I've been doing to Mike a hundred times a day.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, for Mike), my mouth is only minimally affected.  I've been reading accounts of people who can't eat or drink without drooling.  That has to suck.

At this point, I'm several days into it, and it's more of an annoyance than anything. The pain in my jaw was gone the next day, and supposedly the other symptoms should go away in another week or so.  But my eye is a real problem; I'm still not blinking as it should since the eye closes only a little, and it waters so much I can barely see out of it, which is a pain. It's hard to drive (and I'm a crappy driver in the best of conditions).  At night I have to tape it shut so it doesn't dry up while I sleep.

As I said, it's just an annoyance.  Lots of people go through much worse, and this is probably as bad as it will get, since the low point seems to occur within the first 72 hours.  But still, I can't say I see any real improvement and I'm getting frustrated.  The other night after fucking around with my eye all day, I barked to Mike, "I'm gonna tape my eye shut and go open a beer!"  I can honestly say that's the first I've ever muttered those words.

The biggest lesson learned through this experience is DON'T IGNORE WARNING SIGNS!  The doc in the ER said it was better that we caught it early so I could start right on the Prednisone.  My beloved husband probably would have waited till his face slid into his chest; like most men, he goes for medical care only to stop my nagging. But sometimes you have to act, that's all there is to it.

I have to say, I'm kind of wondering why my primary doc couldn't have figured this out himself instead of sending me to the ER.  Even the pharmacist at Walgreen's seemed to wonder that, too.  Maybe I called him too close to closing time?  Unlike my dermatologist, Dr. Lionel Handler, whom I LOVE, I don't feel it for this guy.  Any recommendations for a good primary care doc from you Vegas readers?

Speaking of pharmacists... they know their stuff.    Don't be afraid to pick their brains.  (That's how I know it's okay to have a beer.)  Seriously, they don't get the credit they deserve.  Pharmacists are awesome.

Finally, God forbid, but if you ever need to visit an ER in Vegas, I highly suggest St. Rose Siena Hospital on Eastern Ave. in Henderson.  Excellent treatment all around.

Thank GOD this didn't happen two weeks before when I had my big show.  Seriously, I would have freaked!  And at least it didn't mess up our weekend in LA, either.   So if something like this had to  happen, the timing is actually okay.  I'm lying low, hanging out at the pool, reading, and taking a few online courses on so I can beef up my resume a little.  I'm missing a couple of nighttime activities, but what can I do?  This, too, shall pass.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A cool newsletter for you techies out there

If you're remotely interested in anything techie, I want to turn you on to Jake Ludington's weekly newsletter.  I worked at the same place as this guy years ago.  The fact that I used the word "techie" should give you the hint that I'm not a real techie type.  Nonetheless, I find his content to be very accessible, even for someone like moi.

Browse through out his Delighted Robot website and if you think this is for you, sign up for his weekly newsletter at the top of the page.  I am easily overwhelmed by all the new technology, but Jake helps identify the best of the best and explains the functionality in a way that's easy to understand.

Check it out!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Today I celebrate a union

I should be in Albany today.  I really wish I could be there.  Two of my friends are getting married at the Wunsapana Llama Farm where they met.

Altamont, NY
I've never been to a wedding in a llama farm.  And I've never been to a wedding where the couple looks like this:

Lori and Liz

Oh, happy day!  I am proud to be from the great state of New York, a state that provides equal marriage rights for all.  It is incomprehensible to me that this is not in the case in all 50 states.  Even you, Utah.

I don't talk politics on this blog. I'm the first to admit that I don't know enough to have an intelligent conversation about politics, and I truly believe that very few people actually do.  So I just don't go there.  But gay rights is something I'm quite passionate about.  I have a beloved aunt (get that, Curb fans?) and many friends who are gay.  I can't bear that anyone would regard these beautiful people as less deserving of the basic rights granted to heterosexuals.

Yep, the times they are a-changing.  Thank God.

In the not-too-distant past, black performers weren't allows to stay in the Las Vegas hotels they performed in, gamble in the casinos, or dine or drink in the hotel restaurants and bars.  They were brought in through the back door.  No dressing rooms were provided for black performers, and they had to wait outside by the swimming pool between acts.  There was a time in Las Vegas when hotels on the Strip would reportedly drain their swimming pools after the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. swam in them.

Hard to believe, isn't it?

Today I celebrate the union of these two beautiful women.  Some make be shocked by it, or regard it with disdain, but someday society as a whole will look back and wonder why it took so long to make it right.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Brag away, I'm thrilled for you!

Recently I saw read an article in the Wall Street Journal, "Are We All Braggarts Now?" that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. 

It starts like this:
Friends, family and co-workers: I think you're fabulous—just not quite as fabulous as you think you are.
The gist of the article is that the Internet, especially social media sites, has given us a global audience and the author feels that tooting one's own horn has gotten out of control.  Her premise is that bragging is "harmful to our relationships because it turns people off."
People brag for all sorts of reasons, Julie Hanks, a licensed clinical social worker who has a therapy clinic in Salt Lake City, says: to appear worthy of attention or love or to try and cover up our deepest insecurities. To prove to ourselves that we're OK, that people from our past who said we wouldn't measure up were wrong. Or simply because we're excited when good things happen to us.
Oh, for Christsake.  Most of that is bullshit, and regarding the last sentence, what the hell is wrong with sharing your excitement when something good happens?  I have so many friends who are struggling with health issues, disappointments in the job search and other challenges in life, believe me--I am absolutely THRILLED to see good things happen to people! 

During every meeting of the Henderson Writers Group, we set time aside for people to share their brags.  Why? Because writing is tough, selling a magazine article is tough, getting a book published is tough, marketing a book is tough... and when someone finally catches a break or gets a few steps closer while going for the gold, we're all happy.  Because their achievement tells us it can be done.  So we hang in there.

I admit I may be the biggest bragger alive.  If you've been following this blog or have friended me on Facebook, that's not exactly a newsflash.  I freely share my accomplishments and happy approach to life with the hope that you'll be motivated to make the most of your life as well.  And if I can do it, so can you.  I'm not that special. 

Has my bragging harmed my relationships or turned people off? Maybe I'll never know.  I don't get the feeling that people are just waiting for the perfect moment to take me aside and tell me to lay off the self-importance already. I seem to be blessed with more loving friends than I ever imagined.

The subtitle on the article is "Boasting Epidemic Goes Viral; Crowing Boosts Self Esteem but It's Annoying."  Not to me.  We're all in this together.  Your victory is my victory; my victory is yours.  Please, I beg of you, brag away!!! 

Leave your brag as a comment right here.  Don't be shy--share your joy so we can all be joyous!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hurray for Hollywood!

What a fabulous Labor Day weekend we had!  Mike and I had a wedding to attend in Los Angeles on Sunday--so much fun!  If you read my book, you'll remember the Mona character, one of my first friends in Las Vegas.  We met at our divorce support group.  Her son was the lucky groom.

Every time I go to LA, I love it more.  We stayed at the Best Western on Riverside Drive in Burbank, right up the road from where the wedding was held at the Equestrian Center.   This hotel was a real find--I can't recommend it enough--and I'm a real hotel snob.  It had free parking and free Wifi, which is rare in LA, and it was sparkling clean and close to lots of fun things to do.

Mike and I rolled into town mid-Saturday afternoon, checked in, and then went straight to the rehearsal dinner.  Afterward we were a little too beat to go out, but first thing Sunday morning we got up and at 'em.  We decided to do the Warner Brothers Studio tour, just a few blocks from the hotel.  I thought it was very interesting, our guide was great and personalized the tour based on everyone's interests, and overall the tour was totally worth the $49.

Pee Wee's Big  Adventure was filmed all over the Warner Brothers lots, so I loved seeing things like the pet store where Pee Wee rescues all the animals.

This is how it looks now

Remember the scene where Pee Wee stumbles around in the rain after his tarot card reading?  That was shot in this alley.

Here's a closer look:

Our tour guide told us those fire escape stairs were also used for the "It's a Hard Knock Life" song for the movie Annie.  I swear, every time I think of that movie, I'm reminded of the time I had to drag Courtney out of Colonie Center shopping mall kicking and SCREAMING because I refused to buy her the "Annie shoes" she saw in a store window.  Ha!  Thirty years later, and she can't live it down.

After the tour, we took a drive to check out the famous Hollywood sign.  You could hike to get closer to it, but because of time constraints--and the fact that it had to be about 95 degrees out--we decided to take pictures from just a little ways up the trail.  We were still pretty close, though.

What a beautiful view of the city!

Then we went down to Hollywood Boulevard and hung out there for a while. 

Look how you can see the Hollywood sign in the distance!

Of course, as we walked along we had to check out the stars on the sidewalk.  (Yes, The Kinks' song was in my head for hours, and it's back in now as I write this.)  I had to take a picture of this star since Queen Latifah is my sister Lori's celebrity girl crush.

Oh, so where was MY celebrity girl crush of all crush's star?  You know, the one that says, "Beverly D'Angelo"?  NOWHERE!  Can you believe my beloved Bev doesn't have a star on Hollywood Boulevard???  I'm going to write to my congressman!  So. not. fair.

Being the culture snob that he is, my beloved husband wanted to stop at the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum--damn me for not taking photos!  I know you'd want to see the picture of Elvis made from gummy bears or the elephant with two trunks... 

Since it was going to be a while before we ate at the wedding, Mike and I decided to get some pizza at a little place across the street from this notable complex on the corner of Sunset and Highland.

Famous alumni include John Ritter, Carol Burnett, Alan Hale, Jr. (the Skipper on Gilligan's Island), Sharon Tate, and Cowboy Curtis himself, Laurence Fishburne!  BTW, the pizza was surprisingly good--usually it's hard to get psyched when you walk in a pizza joint and see an Asian guy behind the counter.  That's not racist; that's just... true.

Anyway, the wedding was a blast, one of those events you could truly feel happy about.  We got to sit next to the mother of the groom--talk about VIP treatment!  It was a Jewish wedding, and you know me--nothing thrills me more than clapping to "Hava Nagila," which I know all the words to.

I was telling Mike how lucky I feel that we were taught Jewish songs in elementary school and we even learned the hora circle dance in gym class.  Right along with "The Alley Cat."  Man, I am old...

Anyway, after checking out of our hotel yesterday morning we took a ride up Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills and stopped at this scenic overview.  That's the famous Hollywood Bowl you see there on the bottom right.

Then we drove through Beverly Hills for a while.

Before hitting the road, we stopped for breakfast at the Brighton Cafe, a block from Rodeo Drive.

Man, I look fat in that picture, and I should--I'm totally out of whack with all the traveling I've been doing lately.  I put on four pounds in Albany and probably another couple last weekend.  Well, real life starts today!  The summer's over and it's time to buckle down, find a job, and work off a few pounds.  My birthday is in less than a month, and I told Mike that on my birthday I'm going to post a photo of me in a bathing suit to show people how good 55 can look.  So I'd better look good, dammit!  Yikes.  I have a lot of exercising to do.

Anyway, I love LA and can't wait to go back.  How about you?  Have you been?  What are your favorite spots to visit? 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

7 Things You Should Never Say to Single People

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!

I'm having another wonderful adventure with Mike today, but I want to give a shout-out to anyone who's recently divorced or split from a relationship.  Oh, I remember all too well how holiday weekends SUCKED when I was in that time of life.  I feel your pain, people!

In your honor, I'm reposting something from last year.

7 Things You Should Never Say to Single People

As many of you know, people say the stupidest goddamn things to single people. Here’s a list of my favorites, and by “favorites” I mean do not ever let these words roll off your tongue or I will march right over to your house and kick your ass.

1. “I wish you could find someone nice.” OMG, that’s f*cking brilliant! Hold on, let me write that down.

2. “You know what they say--you gotta kiss a lot of frogs.” Why don’t you just say, “Holy shit, you sure know how to pick a bunch of losers” because that’s essentially what you’re getting at.

3. “I hate to see you by yourself.” No, you hate the thought of YOU being by yourself. Don’t project your insecurities onto someone who happens to be going solo.

4. “You’d think a good-looking woman like you would have no problem finding someone.” Hmm… maybe I should look behind the couch.

5. “You’re too picky.” Oh, right—I haven’t met my frog quota yet.

6. “You’re trying too hard to meet someone. When it’s right it will just happen.” Okay, go get me something to hit you with.

And by far, the most annoying:

7. “Maybe you’re just meant to have some time alone.” Single people spend WAY too much time alone—the last thing they need to hear is this bullshit.

What did I miss? Anything you want to add?