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.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Good news! And a little bit of everything

The big news, which you may have already seen on Facebook, is that I finally got a job!  It's the one I wanted, too--doing instructional design work from home.  Can I hear a chorus of "Hallelujah"?

The call came in on Tuesday while I was on the phone with another company, who had contacted me a mere 10 minutes after I uploaded my resume to their site.  That in itself was pretty freaky--my resume didn't go into a black friggin' hole like it evidently had for the past five months.  In fact, earlier that morning I heard from another yet company about a position that looked promising.  And then later in the afternoon, I got a call from a recruiter about another job. Suddenly I turned into the prettiest girl at the party!  He called me again yesterday, trying to lure me with a pretty nice salary, but I said no can do.  Cubicle life with structured hours and a measly two weeks off per year?  Only as a last resort.   

As you know, I love to work from home, and as long as I have Internet access, I can work from anyone's home--meaning I can spend more time with my family in Albany and my mother in Boise.  No alarm clock, no stupid work clothes, no sitting in traffic... I'm a happy girl.  I start on Monday and I can't wait. 

Changing subjects...

Hey, this is really weird.  Monday afternoon Mike and I saw this car in the parking lot at the Walmart grocery store.  Look at the freakin' birds around it.

What the hell, right?  Why would there be birds just hanging out near a car and on top of it???  The car looked like it was abandoned, but still, you never see birds around a random car like that.  There were many more than what I got in the photo. Any ideas?

That freaked me out.  You know me and birds.  I was ready to call Child Protective when I saw these photos on Courtney's Facebook page.


While I'm out stealing Facebook photos, here's one of my sister Lori's son, Cameron, on the day Superstorm Sandy was expected to hit Albany.  Thankfully, it never made it up that far.

Photo by Lori Van Buren

My nephew is 19 and has been a volunteer fireman since he was 15.  He even teaches classes.  Cam is one of the lucky ones who always knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.  Most of us are still trying to figure that out, right?

Finally, I know I've been slacking off on responding to comments, and I want to address a question Memphis MOJO asked regarding a recent post:  "So what is the difference between a comedian and a comic?"

Good question!  Billy Crystal explains the difference like this: "The comic makes you laugh while the comedian makes you laugh and gives you something about which to think." Comedy coach Steve North says, "A comic says funny things or makes funny observations, whereas a comedian is a funny person." Looks like everyone has their own idea of what the difference is. defines comedian as "1. a professional entertainer who amuses by relating anecdotes, acting out comical situations, engaging in humorous repartee, etc. 2. an actor in comedy. 3. a writer in comedy. 4. any comical or amusing person."  It defines comic as "a comedian."

So there you go.  They mean the same damn thing.