Sunday, December 28, 2008

Aren't Vacations Great?

Aren't Vacations Great?
OK, so this is a no-brainer. Of course they are. Although, this trip to the Mile High City is to visit family, and so, for some, might be considered the opposite of a vacation. Fortunately for us, we get along great with my family and love spending time with them. Like last night, for example. Me, Chuck, my mom, dad, sister Sharon and brother-in-law David went downtown for dinner at the Oceanaire, a fabulous sea-food place with an art-deco, 1920's vibe. Our server, Tyler, a Lance Armstrong look-alike, could very well be nominated for best waiter in the country. His service, along with the food, were impeccable. We started with cocktails. Chuck and I had the smoothest Tanqueray and tonics we've ever had. And thought I don't like to brag, we can practically be considered experts. To start the meal, some of us had caesar salad and some had clam chowder. For dinner, Chuck and I split the crab cakes, my mom, dad, sister and bro-in-law ordered the Mahi Mahi, and we all shared fried green beans, creamed corn, and hashbrown potatoes. And, to compliment this memorable meal were two bottles of 2006 WillaKenzie Pinot Noir. Yum, yum! To further prove my theory of Tyler being the best waiter in the universe, he treated us to dessert. And, by dessert I mean a baked Alaska, key lime pie, and vanilla bean creme brulee. If you want Tyler's number, I can provide it for a small fee.

The most amazing part of the evening was that the food and service were not the most amazing parts of the evening. The most amazing part was the toasting. My sister, Sharon, started off by toasting me and Chuck's long, and drawn out, I mean adventurous and wonderful marriage. Then my dad made a toast to my mom's health. Then I made a toast to Chuckie and to how much I love his cute ass. Then Chuckie made a toast to me for what a dedicated writer I am. Then David made a toast to Sharon for being the woman of his dreams. And on and on and on. I know this all sounds terribly sappy, but I swear, it's the truth.

Before we left for dinner, my dad was feeling a bit down in the dumps and didn't want to go. After some sweet talk from his favorite oldest daughter (yep, that's me), he acquiesced. At the end of the night he hugged me and said, "Thanks for making sure I went. This was one of the best nights of my life."

Correction: This was the most amazing part of the evening.

How are your holidays going?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Politics Rears Its Ugly Head...AGAIN!


Politics Rears Its Ugly Head... AGAIN!
I just got in a fight with my best friend. And I'm not talking a polite difference of opinion. This was a knock down, drag out fight. Thank goodness it was over the phone, or there would be bruises and broken bones. This is the first fight we've ever had in our nearly four years of friendship. We go to dinner together, drink wine together, cruise together, we even went to Denver for my sister's wedding last year together. We've had nothing but fun together. Until now.

She believes it was just as necessary for America to go into Iraq as it was for us to enter WWII, that Bill Clinton was too much of a wuss to take out Sadam, that al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden trained in Iraq, that Bill Clinton was "hobnobbed" (her word) under his desk in the oval office and therefore was a horrendous leader, that Bruce Springsteen bribed ignorant kids to register as Democrats with free concert tickets, that Obama has no idea what he is doing, that he coerced people into using their welfare and social security checks to buy his way into office, that Sarah Palin is just as qualified as anyone to be VP, and that W's lack of being able to put a cohesive sentence together just means he's human.

I told her Iraq was not remotely like WWII, that George's own father believed going after Sadam and invading Iraq was wrong (see link below), that Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar and one of the most brilliant leaders we've ever had (and yeah, the hobnobbing part sucked in more ways than one), that Bruce invited folks to register to vote not to necessarily vote Democratic, that Obama is brilliant and thoughtful as opposed to average-minded and arrogant, that people dug as deep as they could to get him into office because that's how much they're disgusted by the politics of the last eight years, that Sarah Palin could no sooner be VP than I could, and that any president we elect will most likely be human and should definitely be able to speak so people understand instead of laugh. Unless he or she is actually telling a joke.

I was shaking when I got off the phone with her. What's interesting is that socially, she's liberal - pro-choice; pro-stem cell research; pro-gay rights. That's what makes it so hard for me to understand. I know this is America and we each have our rights to free speech and our own opinions. But I get frustrated when she presents her ideas as facts and doesn't have anything but her opinions to back them up with. When I try to direct her to links or stories on line, she says she doesn't trust the liberal media.

Did I mention she's an amazing wife, mom and grandmom (even though she's only 43) and that we've had nothing but good times together until now? I'm not sure how to go on with our friendship with this gigantic rhinoceros head on the table.

I need some coaching here, people. Please. Bring it on. I can take it. (As long as it's not in person so no one gets hurt.)

Here's the link to what George Sr. said about Iraq:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/gulfwar.asp

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flying Along


Flying Along
I've been kicking ass and taking names on my writing lately. My deeply spiritual prose about life as a rock star turned domestic goddess with a bit of adultery and a dash of country club thrown in for good measure, is quite the ride. My characters are starting to get a little bit out of control, and I'm not sure whether to reign them in or let them make a mess out of life for themselves. I'm trying to stay out of it as much as possible, and let them do what they would naturally do. Like a friend of mine once said, "Life would be so much better if could just get my brilliant ass out of the way!" How true!

Young Love
I've been struck by the level of passion, excitement, and drama that is the definition of young love. My son, Ethan, who is a junior and will be 17 next month, and his girlfriend, Paige, who is 17 and a senior, are so adorable together it's borderline ridiculous. (Here's the proof!)

Paige couldn't wait to get her Christmas presents from Ethan, so they exchanged gifts early. She scored. Big time. She got a beautiful silver necklace with a heart, a bracelet from Brighton (one of my favorite stores) and a big, white, cuddly teddy bear with a red bow. I thought she might explode with joy. Ethan didn't do too badly, either. He got a few shirts, a couple of belts, and a hat. Since Ethan has grown up celebrating Chanukah and Paige is a nice Italian Catholic girl, it was interesting watching their reactions to gift-giving. Chanukah is fairly low-key in that area, and for Paige, anyway, Christmas is not. She said she's got 27 gifts under the tree with her name on them. Holy Mary Mother of God. Eight is the most gifts our kids ever got for Chanukah, one per night, and that's when they were little. These days, our celebration consists of lighting the candles together and reflecting on the wonder of life. What better gift is there than spending time with family and friends and being present to the miracle that life is?

Chuck and I got together when we were only 18 and 19. Back then, we couldn't keep our hands off of each other and we thought we were the only two people on earth.

Damn, I miss those days...

So, how do you celebrate the holidays and what do you remember about young love?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Birthday Princess!
I swear to God you'd think I was two years old. I am such a big, fat, spoiled baby on my birthday! Try though I may not, I just can't help myself! The universe chose this special day to bring me into this world, so I feel I owe the universe a big thank you in the form of complete self-gratification. I realize this is a completely un-transformed point of view, but what the hell. It's my birthday! I'll get all Zen again tomorrow. For now, I will eat sugar all day, write to my heart's content, drink wine later with my friend, Cindy, who shares my birthday (how cool is that?!), and then have a wonderful dinner out with my family. And, woo-hoo, I'll open my presents at dinner - I can hardly wait! Although, Chuck and I decided to skip gift-giving this year, I thankfully have presents from my sisters to open and, shockingly enough, even from my sons! (Will wonders never cease?) My parents graciously bought us two of the four plane tickets we're using next week to spend the week in Denver, and the gift of family is indeed the greatest gift of all. (Even a two-year old knows that.)

So, please join me in song as we wish me a Happy Birthday:

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me

Happy birthday dear, Debbie

Happy birthday to me
(And many more!)

Special thanks to the blog Crochet*d*Lane for the wonderful picture of baby Zella above. I was not nearly as cute and here's the proof:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bush's Last Days



This will be quick. I just had to post this for all to see! Trust me, you won't be disappointed!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7B4y5sZKdI4

Monday, December 15, 2008

Countdown to Zero


Zero Words by New Years
Okey dokey. I'm on a roll. I'm done slicing and dicing, and it's a good thing. A few days ago, I said to my dear on-line friend (I hate the word "bloggy") Amy Nathan that if I keep chopping at this rate, I should be down to zero words by New Year's. Maybe as the ball goes down in Times Square (10 - 9 - 8 , etc...) I could be counting down my last ten words. That would give so much more meaning to the New Year! Amy suggested I use this marketing ploy to my advantage, since it would be much cheaper to publish books with no words. Good point. I'll add it to my query.

Birthday Spoiler Alert
Meantime, hubby just left for LA for four days. He hates to travel for work more than I hate him being gone. (Hate. That's such a strong word.) The bad news is, his birthday is Tuesday and we won't be together to celebrate. The good news is he gets back on Thursday, which just happens to be... my birthday! (Yay!) So, dinner is on for my special day. (Presents, unfortunately, are out this year. Hopefully, next year things will turn around for us, and by "us" I mean the world.)

Celebrating the Festival of Lights
In case you're wondering, I never got ripped off because my birthday is one week before Christmas. That's because we didn't celebrate Christmas. In my house, birthdays are birthdays, and Chanukah is Chanukah. Besides, you never know when Chanukah will show up. It could be the beginning of December, end of December, or maybe even sometime in the middle. Perhaps even late November. It's very fickle.

Much to my mother's dismay, my modern-day family and I are as far from religious as Sarah Palin is from smart. We do, however, celebrate by turning the lights off, lighting the candles (often on several menorahs - the more candles the more beautiful), and taking turns saying what we're grateful for. Then we sit quietly and watch the candles burn down. It's pretty Zen.

Well, kids, I'd better get back to throwing nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives on my dwindling word count pile. I'm at an interesting juncture where my mc's are at a country club dinner being pursued by rich, attractive members of the opposite sex. I'm dying to see how it turns out!

What are you up to in your WIP (without giving away any trade secrets)? And, how do you celebrate the holidays?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Peel Back the Onion Layers


Onions!
Chop, chop, cut, cut, sweep, sweep. With all this cutting and sweeping, I may as well be at the beauty parlor. At least that way, there would be a little less gray and a lot more laughs. (Georgia, my hair stylist, is a stand-up comic disguised as a hairdresser.) I went from 72,000 words down to 30,000. Now I'm at about 40,000. It's hard to not let the word count bring me down since I'm writing like a maniac. I'm deeply engaged in a classic peel back the layers of the onion exercise. There's no question the story is getting clearer and stronger, but still, there's that darn word count! Last night Chuck said, "you're doing exactly what you should be doing, honey. Don't sweat the word count!" For a doctor, he's pretty smart.

Just thought I'd vent. Does anyone else out there have tears in their eyes from a related onion?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Am I on The Truman Show?

Strange Call
Monday morning I answered the phone.
"Is Tracey there?" I heard a middle-aged sounding man ask.
"No. I'm afraid you must have the wrong number."
"Sorry!" click.
About ten minutes later, the phone rang again.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Is Tracey there?"
"No. You still have the wrong number."
"I can't believe it. She must have deliberately given me the wrong number."
Like an idiot I asked, "Who?"
"Tracey, or whatever her name is - a woman I met at a bar last night."
"Bummer" I said.
"Maybe you can help me. What is it with women these days? Why would they be so cruel as to give some poor guy a wrong number? And, of course, after I'd bought her and her girlfriend drinks all night."
That's how I got into a 45 minute with a complete stranger. We discussed male vs. female, what it's like "out there" after a divorce (it turns out Mike, yeah I asked his name, who's in his 50's was married for 26 years and has been divorced for two), and how do you know if someone is "interested" vs. "lying through their teeth for drinks." And, why are all the beautiful women 'high maintenance?'
"I don't know, Mike," I said, "I run with a pretty good looking crowd, and they're not high maintenance. They're really great gals. I think that's too much of a generalization, like all Jews are this way or all blacks are that way. People are people. Everyone's different."
"Yes," he said, "but it seems like the beautiful ones are the least trustworthy."
"Then, don't go after the beautiful ones," I said.
"But I don't want to lower my standards."
"Look, Mike, you can't have it both ways. You need to figure out who you are, what you want, and go find it. You're way over-analyzing this."
He couldn't believe I judge a guy on things other than his looks. Like sense of humor, views on politics and religion, how interesting he is.
"You mean to tell me a guy gets better looking to you if he has a good sense of humor?"
"Are you kidding? Hell, yeah! In my eyes, Jerry Seinfeld's almost as good looking as Ashton Kutcher!" Not really, but I was trying to make a point.
"I can't believe you're spending this much time talking to a stranger on the phone about his love life, or lack thereof."
"Me neither. I guess you just caught me in a good mood."
"Can I call you back if I have more questions?"
"Sure, I guess."
"When would be a good time."
"There's no such thing. I'm in and out." This was getting tedious. "Look, Mike, I gotta go. I've got a potentially life-changing submission to an agent I've got to get in the mail. Good luck with the girl thing. My best advice? Lighten up a little."
"Thanks. You're amazing. Too bad your married."
"Yeah, my husband says the same thing. Take it easy, buddy, and don't dwell on the bad stuff."

Then I checked my e-mail. My daily Kabbalah greeting that some crazy friend of Madonna's keeps sending me arrived. (Kidding - I don't know how I got on their list, but they send daily words of wisdom that sometimes blow my mind) It read:

Monday, December 8

What were you doing before you opened this email? How was that action helping another person? Heavy question. But if you truly understood what Kabbalah is about – accepting the responsibility of being a channel of the Light – then you’d be thinking only of how to share and care for others.

I looked up at the ceiling and asked out loud, "Am I on The Truman Show?"

Has anything like this happened to you? Or, am I the only idiot who spends 45 minutes of precious writing time on the phone with a complete stranger?

Monday, December 8, 2008

28 Years Later...













28 Years Later...

Today is 28 years since John Lennon was killed. It is also 28 years since my husband and I got together.

We were living in southern California, and we spent the day together. It was the first time I heard my vocals on tape. Chuck recorded me on a reel to reel performing a song I wrote the year before called, "Frozen Fields."

When I got home that night, my roommate asked if I'd heard the news. "What news?" I asked. "John Lennon was shot in New York City." I ran to my room, shut the door, and turned on the radio. Sure enough, it was true. When it was announced that he had died, the tears came hard and fast. Chuck came over, we held a candlelight vigil, played Beatles music all night, and have been together ever since. Happy Anniversary to us, and to John: thank you for your music, your spirit, your inspiration. May you rest forever in peace...

Today is also my baby sister's birthday. (I won't say which one, but think Jack Benny.) Happy birthday, Michelle. I love you!

The picture above on the left is Chuck & I shortly after we got together, and on the right, in Cancun on June 27th of this year celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary!

Frozen Fields
I ran through the night with you
Counting the clouds that block my view

Finding out the light is you
And feeling the warmth that pulls me through

Have I known this song before?
In the frozen fields I walk alone

Hoping in time to free myself
In a land where love can conquer all


Sacred dreams I can't let go unless my dreams come true
Soaring through my heart and soul is the love I feel for you

And I know what this love must mean to you
As your eyes light the fire that burns into

The freedom that flows through everyone
And is altered upon the wind of song


Grazing on the frosted plains and laughing at the night
Are clear cut signs of lost remains that prove that love is right, love is right

And I know what this love must mean to you
As your eyes light the fire that burns into

The freedom that flows through everyone
And is altered upon the wind of song

Have I known this song before?
In the frozen fields I've walked alone

Hoping in time to free myself in a land where love can conquer all
Love can conquer all, oh, yes it can...

Words & Music by DLSchubert 11.3.79


The Check is in the Mail
Well, the submission anyway. I'd have sent a check, but I don't think agents are accepting bribes these days. However, with the economy and all...

My first three chapters, synopsis, and cover letter are signed, sealed, and soon to be delivered via USPS (return receipt requested.) Now, I get to sit and wait for 2-3 months. What will I do with all that time?

Oh, yeah. Edit my manuscript...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Continuous Tread Mill

Post Nibble
Ever since I got my nibble, I've been on a continuous treadmill working non-stop on my novel, paying special attention to the first three chapters. As you creative types know, once those juices get flowing, it's pretty damn hard to shut them down. So, at 11PM-ish every night I take a Lunesta in order to fall asleep and stay asleep for a few hours. (Note to Family and Cats: My laptop is not a fourth appendage.)

Shout Out
Although I hate to use the word "I" in the same sentence with "Sarah Palin"...
Like Sarah Palin, I feel a "shout out" is in order to some of the folks who've been extremely helpful these past couple of weeks. (I beg for eternal forgiveness if I've left you off this esteemed list.)

First of all, to those of you who read my blog and comment. Thanks! Your words are fabulous, you make me laugh, and you're brilliant.

To my husband, Chuck. Thanks for enthusiastically reading and re-reading my words, and for your great suggestions on ways to tighten up the story. Also, for the kisses.

Next, to Karen Carter and Amy Nathan. As Chelsea Handler would say, "What... A pleasure!" These two have assisted me with some pretty in-depth copy editing, and made suggestions I never would have thought of. (BTW: Karen is available for copy editing services at http://www.kccommunications.blogspot.com/ Check her out!)

To Carolyn P. - You say you're not a critic, but your support means so much. I hope you enjoy your inside scoop on all the "fiction" I write.

To Tom S. - If there's a funnier guy in this world, I haven't met him. Lewis Black has nothing on you - you're a comic genius. And don't think I don't take every tiny, little suggestion you make to heart.

Adam and Ethan - You guys are amazing! Giving me your support and telling me you're proud of me beats any publishing deal out there. (Well, maybe not any publishing deal, but you get the picture.)

Sharon, Laurie & Michelle - No one has my back like you three. I'm sorry for the times I was mean to you when we were little. If I had any idea how fabulous you'd turn out to be, I might not have behaved so badly. Your editing suggestions are ENORMOUSLY helpful. Plus, you're beautiful!

Mom and Dad - I love you, you're the reason I'm living and able to put two words together. I hope I make you proud.

I realize this post could easily be mistaken for a cheesy end-of-the-year high school yearbook romp or perhaps a suicide note. Sorry about that. My brain's a little fuzzy right now since I haven't been anywhere outside my study in days. (And by "study" I mean bed with notebook on lap.)

I'll post again after my nibble's in the mail!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Channeling the Music of the Gods

Lacking Culinary DNA
OK, I'm a total failure. Instead of baking a chocolate cream pie for Thanksgiving, I brought a store-bought chocolate cake. I know, I know, I'm pathetic. I have to admit, though, my chocolate cake was a big hit. Even still, I felt like a total loser. I don't know what it is about the kitchen that scares me so. I would be so much better off if I could come to grips with the fact that I'm lacking culinary DNA and happily go through life canteen-free. But, every now and then the apron-clad devil on my shoulder whispers that I'm capable of working in the kitchen. You'd think by now I'd have learned to ignore this cruel and taunting voice. However, my motto in life has always been, "where there is life, there is hope." Clearly, I need a new motto. How about, "If you can't stand the heat, why is there a kitchen in the house?"

Screamers
Right now, I'm sitting in our music studio listening to my husband, Chuck record my son, Ethan's, band. Their music is hard core metal. What I'd like to know is, when did screaming become an acceptable vocal method? John Lennon did some pretty awesome screaming back in his day, but it seemed to compliment the music as opposed to fight with it. I must be getting old, but I just don't get it. It's scary to hear my parents words coming out of my mouth. In high school, they'd hear me listening to Led Zeppelin and say, "How can you listen to that crap? Why is the lead singer screaming?" For the record, Robert Plant was not screaming, he was channeling the music of the gods.

India
My deepest sympathy goes out to all touched by the tragedy in India. What an indescribably horrible drag. I hope that there will come a day when senseless death and destruction will no longer be a part of the human story. Until then, please join me in praying for peace and healing to those who need it.

Shalom. Peace.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Got a Nibble!


My First Nibble!
OMG!!! I got my first nibble! An agent in Washington, DC liked my query and wants to see the first three chapters and a synopsis of my book. OMG!!! If it's not obvious, I am like so totally way excited! (My inner Valley Girl comes out whenever I'm excited. Just ask my husband.) My dad was sitting next to me as I read the agent's e-mail and he said, "You just said OH MY GOD!!! so many times in a row, that I thought maybe you'd finally found religion!" Of course, he knows better, but I just couldn't contain my joy. I felt like a five year old in FAO Schwartz! (Did I mention I'm excited?)

You see, I felt like quite the failure when I didn't get any nibbles at the Algonkian Writer's Conference in NYC in September when some of the other (amazing, brilliant, fantastic) writers in my group did. Of course, I'm not dil-you-sional, as Lewis Black would say. I'm clear that said agent's interest doesn't, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that I will be published. But at least it means I've got a shot! And if this one is interested, than maybe someone else might be, too, right?

So, now I'm feverishly revising my first three chapters, and I need to write a synopsis (which I've never done before.) As I mentioned in my last post, while I was in Denver I met with Karen, my copy editor, and she suggested I chop nearly half of my book out and add more stuff mainly pertaining to my fascinating musical past. (Her words, not mine.) And, I've been a very good girl, working hard on this angle. I have also been advised to take my time replying to the agent, and I will heed this advice as well. I figure it's better to take my time and feel like I've nailed those first three chapters, then to quickly reply before I feel more certain. (Did I mention I'm excited? No, I didn't think so. I'M EXCITED!)

I'm sure plenty of you out there in blogland have had numerous encounters with interested agents. I'd love to hear your stories, both good and bad!

Holiday Dilemma
Replying to a post on Amy Nathan's brilliant blog: http://amysuenathan.com/ got me thinking about the annual holiday dilemma. How do you get stuff done for the holidays, while simultaneously enjoying them? I've got part of the answer. Say you don't cook! I actually don't cook, and, let me tell you, that little deficiency pays off in spades! Of course, I did volunteer to bring some sort of chocolate thingie to my cousin's house in Jersey on Thursday - not quite sure what I was thinking (maybe a big Toblerone bar?). I've decided that chocolate thingie will take shape in the form of a chocolate cream pie. Now, I can hear some of you kitchen-savvy types snickering right now, but this is like a totally way-big major deal to me (Uh, oh, here comes Inner Valley Girl. I must be getting excited!) I scoped out the pie crust situation at my local grocery store and found out they sell them ready-made. Brilliant! Unfortunately, my mom informed me that the instant pudding mix doesn't cut it for a great tasting chocolate cream pie. "You mean I have to combine the pudding mix with milk and then stir until it boils?" I asked. "That sounds dangerously close to cooking!" OK, baking, but in my world, they're one in the same.

Wish me luck. I'll let you know how it turns out. And, most importantly, may you and your families enjoy a cozy, joyful, loving, healthy, and laughter-filled Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A WRITER'S WORK IS NEVER DONE


A Writer's Work is Never Done
While in Denver, I met with my copy editor, Karen Carter. She is simply amazing. She read through my entire manuscript, all 70,000+ words of it, and edited the whole darn thing. She did a lot of cutting, which needed to be done, and by a lot, I mean nearly half! Fortunately, I've been in a major writing mode for most of my time here, and have written close to 8,000 new words. The challenge is making the new stuff fit perfectly with the old. It's kind of like putting a puzzle together with pieces from two different, yet similar puzzles. My original ms is very funny, and the stuff I've written recently is more honestly autobiographical and not quite as funny. I need to go back through and sprinkle in some laughs. I will gladly take any advice anyone has to offer! It's brilliantly clear to me that a writer's work is never done...

Birthday Surprise!
This morning we are having a surprise birthday party for my sister, Sharon. Little does she know, she is going to have to work to receive her gifts, because we have decided to send her on a scavenger hunt. I've had fun writing the rhyming clues for her to follow as she searches for her treasures both inside and outside of the house. And, treasures they are! My mom got her a traditional strand of pearls and matching earrings, and my sister, Michelle and I are giving her a modern-looking freshwater pearl and moonstone bracelet, ring and earring set. My sister, Laurie, always needing to be different, is giving her an original work of art from Africa. So far to date, Sharon has never read my blog. I'm hoping she doesn't start right now!

Denver Trip Winding Down
I've been in Denver for almost two weeks now, and I'll be going back home to Philly tomorrow. I've been trying hard to take care of my mom, which has been tricky. She has been suffering from a staff infection and related complications, and has been weak and unable to eat or drink much. For those of you who don't know her, she is a vibrant, life of the party kind of gal, so to see her in a weakened state is hard. However, the last few days she does seem to be coming out of it. I'm just so glad I've been able to be here to help her and my dad out. My presence allowed my dad to work a bit and even have a little fun with his friends. He is such an amazing husband and father, and it feels good to be able to give back. On Christmas Eve, my whole family will be traveling to Denver together, and we'll be here through New Year's Day. I hope my mom will be close to her old self again as we welcome in the new year together.

I'm also missing my husband, sons, and kitties! Two weeks is a long time to be away from your family. To Chuck, Adam and Ethan: "One more sleep!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Straight From the Heart

RECONNECTING
I had dinner this past Sunday night with a girlfriend of mine from high school. Back in the day, we were cheerleaders together. The first time I ever got high was at her house (not to be confused with the first time I ever smoked pot!). She was and still is gorgeous, sweet, funny and kind, and has lived a most interesting life. She dated a VERY famous rock star for a while, and was married to a fairly famous musician for five years (sorry, I can't name names here). But, what was most special about our visit was simply reconnecting.

Comparing memories is fun - it's interesting to see different slants or parts of the picture we each recall. It's comforting to know those we shared so much with in an earlier time, have gone on to lead successful, fulfilling lives. I make great use of my computer to keep in contact with people in different areas of my life, but nothing can ever match up to a nice, quiet one-on-one, with a glass (OK, bottle) of wine in a cozy restaurant by a fireplace. (Lucky for us, this was the scenario on Sunday.)

In what ways have you reconnected with those in your "past" life? Do you get together on a regular basis with anyone from high school or college or from somewhere you once lived, or do you simply e-mail to get caught up? Do you have any great reconnecting stories to share?

WRITING
Yes, I'm actually doing it! And not only on my blog! My copy editor made a suggestion for my book that I've taken to heart and am furiously delving into. It involves digging deeper into my rock and roll past - describing that whole musical world - and then tying it in to how I live my life now as a suburban housewife, and if and how music still fits into my life (which, thankfully, it does.) As she said to me, "How many girls in the 70's & 80's wanted to be a singer in a rock and roll band? And how many of them actually did it? I, for one, would love to hear about what that was like!" Great point. So, I'm working on it. I've penned over 6,000 words in the last few days, and I'm still going strong. Of course, this means rethinking the whole book. Should I make it more of a memoir sprinkled with humor or keep it as it is - a humorous work of fiction sprinkled with truth? The beauty is I'm writing purposefully and joyfully. And, although getting an agent and a book deal always seems like the ultimate goal, in reality, the ultimate goal should remain simply to write what matters to you - straight from the heart.

Any thoughts on the subject?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tomorrow is Another Day

Talk to the Animals
While I've been in Denver this past week, I have been taking morning walks around my parent's neighborhood. It is a big circle, and it takes about 25 minutes to complete my walk. The first third of the walk is flat, the second third slopes downhill, and the last third is uphill. About a year ago when I was visiting after my mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I could barely make it up the hill without taking a break or at least doing some seriously heavy breathing. Now, I hardly even notice the incline. I owe this increase in stamina to a cruise my family took through the Panama Canal in March. If you have never taken a cruise, I pity you. Cruising is the single coolest form of vacationing known to mankind. That is if - like me - you revel in being treated like a princess (or prince) in a 5-star hotel atmosphere complete with mini-mall, Zagat-rated food 24/7, pools built for the gods, a casino, art gallery and auctions, entertainment, a full European spa and salon staffed by gorgeous women with Russian accents (Chuck's personal favorite), and a gym that looks out over the serene Caribbean as you huff and puff your way to fitness. On this cruise, along with my weights and machine routine, I huffed and puffed for 35 minutes a day on a treadmill. I'd never done this before, always surmising that walking outside or on the track at my YMCA club was better and more interesting. That may be true, but it's not a better work out. I credit the treadmill with catapulting me into the next level of fitness, and allowing me to walk the Heritage Place circle un-winded. And, while on my walks, I get to talk to the animals!

Two days ago, I met up with a giant, black crow. He was towering at least 30 feet above me in a tree that had recently lost it's leaves. He cawed, and I answered back, "Hello, Mr. Crow!" I said this out loud thinking if anyone was listening, they'd think I was nuts. "How are you doing today?" I asked. "Caw! Caw! he replied. "Do you want to follow me while I take my walk?" "Caw! Caw! he replied."Great!" I answered. "Let's go this way," I said, pointing forward so he wouldn't be confused. Mr. Crow then flew from his current perch to a new one on the next tall, barren tree about 50 feet away. It was very cool. I was one with the crow.

Yesterday was even better. About half-way through my walk, I met a beautiful, grey tabby. He was quite patriotic, which was evidenced from his red collar with a blue stripe and white stars. He had a red bell and a red heart that listed his name and phone number. "Frosty" laid down in front of me on the sidewalk and rolled around in pure bliss. He walked with me for a while, and then laid down at my feet again. I leaned down and picked him up and set him in my lap. He softly dug his paws into my legs and got comfortable. He was purring loudly enough that Chuck could hear him two thousand miles away through my cell phone. Once again, I was smitten. Smitten by a kitten. The story of my life. Along with really fabulous Zinfandels and Cabernets, cats are my true weakness.

I was disappointed today when I took my walk and there was no Frosty. When I got back, my mom asked what was wrong. I told her my sad tale and she said, "Maybe he is a religious Jewish kitty and he's in temple on the Sabbath!" Maybe. All I know is, I miss my new found friend. "Don't worry," my mom said, "Tomorrow is another day."

She's right. I hope I'll see him tomorrow. And if not, maybe I'll meet a new squirrel or bunny friend. And, maybe we could share a glass of Cabernet!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

From Crystal Nacht to Barack Obama - From Despair to Hope

It's a New Day
It's been 70 years since Crystal Nacht, the horrific night in Germany when the Holocaust began in full force. Windows were smashed, businesses destroyed, and buildings were burned to the ground. Jews were arrested for simply being Jews. No one could have imagined that the terror of that night would pale in comparison to the terror of the next few years. Gas chambers? Husbands and wives seperated? Children, even infants, shot in front of their mothers? Unimaginable. Or, so we thought. 150 years ago, blacks were slaves in this country. Sold to the highest bidder like cattle or pigs at an auction. They were then "owned" and forced to work hard, manual labor. If, after working for hours in the hot sun, they wanted to rest, or get a drink of water, they were whipped by their "owners" for their laziness.

Eight years ago, Joe Lieberman, a Jewish man, ran for Vice President. And last week, a black man, Barack Obama, was elected to the highest office in this land, and by extension, to the highest office on earth. A black family will be moving into the White House - a house that slaves helped to build. Blacks and Jews share a lot. They share the history of slavery. They share a deep knowledge of what prejudice means. They share the experience of what hatred feels like, looks like, smells like, sounds like, tastes like. And now - along with all the peoples of the earth - they share something else... hope. As will.i.am so succinctly sings, "It's a New Day." And, although we must never forget the devastation that hatred and prejudice bring, let us rejoice at the strength of the human spirit to rebound and transcend. Together let us offer a rousing, gospel-inspired song to the gods for bringing us to this brand new day in history. "Free at last, free at last, thank G-d almighty, we are free at last!" Amen brothers and sisters!

Like Steven Tyler, I'm Back in the Saddle Again
I'm back in Denver at my mom and dad's house. Today was my first day of a two-week stay. I helped my mom get to her doctor's appointment, to her office to get some work done, to the florist to order flowers for her office's upcoming annual holiday party, and to dinner at Panera Bread. She ate chicken noodle soup and a tuna salad sandwich. Seeing her eat is a blessing in itself, because she hasn't had much of an appetite lately. Even in her weakened state, she is so full of life and love and incredible insights. She is committed to being fully engaged in life. It is hard for her to accept that she needs help, but she is doing her best. My being here clearly makes a difference for her, and her being makes a difference for me. So, here's a toast to parents everywhere - may they be blessed with love, laughter, good health, appreciation, and, most importantly, with the closeness of those they hold dear.

Somehow Getting By Without Me...
My son, Ethan, called today and told me that his girlfriend, Paige, is doing something tonight that I never do. "Clean the house?" I asked. "No, but close!" he said. "She's making dinner! Chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings!" Some kids sure know how to make a mom feel like crap! So I'm wondering, should I feel badly about this or should I send Paige a 'thank you' card and ask her what her culinary availability is on a weekly basis? Maybe I should insist that, even though Ethan is only 16 and a junior in high school, and Paige is 17 and a senior, they get married straight away and move in with us so I can have one thing I've always dreamed of - a full-time chef! And, would it really be so wrong for me to inquire into her house cleaning abilities? I'm in somewhat of a quandry. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Satan's Favorite Agent

COLORADO HERE I COME!
Well, folks, I'm heading to Denver again. Unfortunately, mom is still having a rough time. Family and friends are doing a phenomenal job caring for her, but I think it will help if I can drive her to the doctor (she's getting daily IV antibiotics), make breakfast (stop laughing - I actually know how to cook an egg), and do laundry. But, as Lewis Black would say, "have no fear my precious snowflakes!" For, I will continue this fascinating and informative blog in the land of many mountains...

POST ELECTION DRAMA
No, this is not about my neighbor, at least not the one two doors down. On Wednesday afternoon I was purchasing a few bottles of lovely, full-bodied red wines for our victory party later that night. The elderly, white guy who was next in line, asked what I was celebrating. "Our new president!" I said. He replied, "I hate to tell you this, but you just voted for Satan." I actually laughed out loud and told him that was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. He went on to explain that Obama is a baby killer and truly is the devil. And everyone who voted for him are agents of the devil. (Guilty as charged!) This guy clearly didn't know who he was verbally sparring with. I asked him if he and his peeps were so gung-ho on "saving precious, innocent lives" then why is it OK to shoot bullets into innocent animals for "sport"? He looked a bit flustered and muttered something about animals being lower species than humans. "If that's true," I asked, "then shouldn't we be smarter and more compassionate than them? And, if so, then how is it that hunters like Sarah Palin enjoy blowing their brains out?" He changed tactics and told me that the only people who have abortions are fornicators (duh!) and people having affairs. "Oh, really?" I countered, "What about all the people who neglect or physically abuse their children?" "In God's eyes, all children are in Heaven!" he answered. "Oh, yeah?" I asked, "I bet the kids who are being beaten by their parents think it feels a bit more like hell." And then for fun I added, "And, I bet you just love Sarah Palin!" "Why, yes," he said, "She's a real woman!" I guess I'm just a guy in drag, or maybe Samantha Ronson. The poor gal behind the counter looked like she wanted to crawl under an apolitical rock and die, or at least hide until this stimulating repartee was over. (Oh, and FYI: he mentioned the End of Days is near, so you may want to take that trip to Tahiti you've been putting off.)

VICTORY PARTY - A WILD SUCCESS!
Despite my encounter with the GOP (Grumpy Old Prick), our post-election night party was a blast! I don't know about you, but I am still floating on Obama-inspired air. It's both relaxing and exhilarating - like the afterglow of a great roll in the hay. What a major relief after these last, long, torturous eight years!

For the party, my friend, Joanne, made her famous vegetarian chili, and we had California rolls, hummus, salad, sandwiches, and, of course, soda, wine and beer. (My husband bought the beer and, in the spirit of the evening, chose a case from the Victory Brewery!) We also had a special guest. A full-sized cut-out of the President-Elect! (That's him above with my husband.)

I'd love to hear your election night or post-election night stories. And, if you run into the GOP, tell him Satan's favorite agent sends her love.

Signing off for now my precious snowflakes!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

YES WE DID!

VICTORY FOR OBAMA AND FOR AMERICA
Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. As Chelsea Handler would say, "What... a whirlwind!"

I watched with my husband, Chuck, and my sons Adam (who is 19 and voted in his first election yesterday) and Ethan (who volunteered with me handing out Democratic literature at the polls) as history was made. To be able to experience such a moment with your children is the manifestation of the American Dream.

I am blown away not only by the win itself, but by the depth of the win. For example, here in Montgomery County, PA, a place where McCain/Palin campaigned their tails off, Obama won nearly 60% - 40%! This is indeed a mandate from the American people. We have just stepped into a completely new (dare I say, transformational?) shift in American politics as we know it. How amazing is it that people, not only all across America, but all over the world were rejoicing in the streets at the outcome of our American election? Pretty damn amazing, I'd say. I believe Barack Obama has every intention to work across the aisle to steer the SS America into more calming and inspirational seas. He has already smashed to pieces the notion of Red States/Blue States with his phenomenal outcomes in traditionally red states (Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, are you kidding me?!) thereby putting an end to the extreme polarization that this nation has experienced over the past eight years. Bringing us all together with common, clearly defined goals is key to opening the door to a more inclusive and more responsible American reality.

So, for now, my dear friends, family, and beautiful strangers, let's just sit back for a day or so and take in the glory, wonder and meaning of this - America's most historical election. There certainly is a lot to take in.

Yes we can, yes we did, and now let's begin!

MY SISTER, LAURIE!
Cut and paste the following link to see an impromptu celebration in Boulder, CO. The gorgeous girl hanging out the van window towards the beginning of the video is my sweet sister, Laurie!

http://www.dailycamera.com/videos/detail/boulder-celebrates-obama-win/ture at the polls)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Something's Coming...

IT'S A SUNNY DAY IN PHILLY!
OK, I promised a cheerier post. It's a beautiful, sunny day outside and you'll be happy to know I'm feeling much better! I'll be going to the gym when it opens in about an hour. I don't usually go on weekends, but I've gained 2+ pounds and I'm starting to feel fat. I know that must be horrifying news to all of you , and I'm sorry to drop it on you like that. Reality is sometimes painful. Secondly, I feel like someone has pushed the "pause" button on my world, so I need to take action! Do any of you ever feel that way? Like you're just waiting for something to happen, but you have no idea what? It reminds me of that song from my favorite movie, West Side Story - "Something's coming I don't know what it is but it is gonna be great..." I'd really love it to be a Grammy Award or a publishing deal. I think it's important to dream big. However, it will probably be a refund check for $56 dollars that I overpaid my son's orthodontist or my cat's not messing up the floor in my dining room for one, whole day. Maybe I'm sensing that Obama is going to actually win the election....!!! That would truly be something amazing coming...

ASHTON KUTCHER SNORING
OK, so this probably falls under the category of "TMI" (too much information), but as I write this I'm listening to the not so beautiful sounds of my husband (you know the one who thinks it would be neato to have a menage a trois) snoring in the background. Why do so many men snore? It's highly unattractive probably even in the case of say, Ashton Kutcher, who I would take under any circumstances imaginable including the loudest snoring in the world. In fact, if I were to be in the same room listening to Ashton snore, that would no doubt be a really good sign! But enough of my fantasy life.

STEPFORD WIFE LOOK-ALIKE ALERT!
Did you see John McCain and his Stepford Wife, Cindy, on SNL last night? Could she be any stiffer? She reminded me of the scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes pretend they are dolls dancing in front of the bad guys and singing, "Truly Scrumptious" (which, by the way, is what Ashton Kutcher is!). Honestly, she makes the Stepford Wives seem like the Smurfs! And, although John was slightly funny in their QVC skit ("just buy my knives - I'll use them to cut out all the pork!" yuk, yuk), he really just seems like yesterday's newspaper. I sensed it was all Tina Fey could do not to reach over and strangle him to death right there on national TV in front of millions of adoring viewers, thereby putting to rest any doubts of Obama winning the election. After all, Tina's the one who said, "If Palin wins, I'm done. I can't do that for four years. And by, "I'm done" I mean I'm leaving earth." That's why she's Tina Fey, because really, who could say it better than that?

And did you see the end of the show where everyone schmoozes and gets all warm and fuzzy? This is often my favorite part of the show - I love seeing the actors, host/ess, and musicians get all cuddly with each other. Again, Cindy McCain looked like she'd landed on another planet where everyone is lifelike, happy, affectionate, and normal and she wasn't quite sure what to do.

"Hel-lo. My name is Cin-dee Mc-Cain from pla-net Stiff-Ass. It is a plea-sure to meet you. Hu-mans are int-er-est-ing crea-tures. Well, good-night. It is time for me to fly back to one of my se-ven hou-ses on my pla-net. Oh, and, please make more hu-man ba-bies. There are not e-nough a-bused and ne-glec-ted chil-dren on your pla-net."

At least John made an effort to shake a few hands and kiss a few babies. (And by babies I mean hot girls like Casey Wilson, Tina Fey and Kristin Wiig.)

Two more days...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Gray Day

ELECTION RESULTS...?
I'm sitting here on this gray day wondering what Tuesday night will bring. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for this election to be over! I've been volunteering at my local Obama office, which isn't as organized as I would like. The same people keep getting called and it justifiably annoys them. It seems the organizers can't get enough volunteers, yet they usually have too many. Everyone is spinning their wheels right now feeling like they've got to do something, but at this stage of the game, there's really not that much left to do. The 7% or so who claim they haven't made up their minds either love the attention or are complete idiots. There couldn't be a bigger contrast between Obama and McCain, so what on earth could they be "waiting" for? I'll be handing out Democratic literature at two different schools on Election Day, but again, it's hard to imagine that will effect anyone's vote. I think, no matter what side of the aisle you're on, at this point we're all mostly singing to the choir. And, although I love to sing, this song's getting a bit stale...

MOM
I'm feeling sad because my mom's back in the hospital again. She most likely has an infection - a complication from the surgery she had over four weeks ago. She's in Denver and I'm in PA, so I can't be there to comfort her. I have no doubt my family and her friends are taking good care of her, but I still feel I should be there. I hate that she's feeling pain, and I hear in her voice how it's getting her down. My mom is usually so full of life and energy, and it's hard to see her in this position.

I promise my next post will be cheerier...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Beware! Twisted, Writer's Mind Ahead

NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY GIRL!
I realize, dear readers, that due to all of my highly opinionated politicizing I've been enjoying of late, I have been a naughty, naughty girl! Not only have I slammed The Dynamic Duo to the wall with my amazing wit and insight, but I've almost completely ignored my original reason for blogging in the first place - to shamelessly promote my writing! So, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the deep, dark recesses of a twisted writer's mind. Enter if you dare...

SPOOKY
First of all, in honor of Halloween, I thought I'd give you a scare. Don't worry, I'm not going to post a picture of myself naked, although that would definitely scare the bejeezus out of you, and that would, indeed, be very naughty. Instead, I'm going to give you a peek inside my mind, which believe me, is ten times more frightening.

WRITER'S FEARS
As a writer, I am constantly confronted with doubts and fears . Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? And, doggone on it, do people like me? Will I ever get published? Will I ever even find an agent? And if I do, will I get a multi-million dollar book deal and get to hob-nob with Lemony Snicket, Stephen King, Ann Rule and Chelsea Handler? And, anyway, what gives me the right to spout my opinions in such flagrant fashion? Did someone die and make me Queen of The Blogosphere? (See, I told you it was frightening in here. Frighteningly boring, that is!)

So, you can see, we writers have deep-seeded neuroses that we try to mine into little pearls of wisdom to propel us along our artistic journey. And, speaking of Little Pearls, I realize that many of you haven't had even the slightest glimpse into my literary masterpiece - the one that was thirteen years in the making - the one that all the international fuss is about.

And so, my friends (good Lord, I've been listening to John McCain WAY too much!), here's a look at a few AMAZING excerpts!

LITTLE PEARLS
First of all, some background:

Erma Bombeck meets Chelsea Handler in "Little Pearls" - a women's humor novel that follows the life of Jenny Shortcake from her early childhood as a Jewish American Princess living on Long Island, to her high-school cheerleading days in Denver, to southern California where she pursued her musical dreams, and finally to a McMansion in the burbs of Philly where she lives as a writer, doctor's wife, mother of two, and most importantly, tireless seeker of fine, red wine.

And now, for the excerpts:

On Marriage:
My marriage is great, although I wish my husband would stop saying things like, "Hey honey, how about a threesome? I'd love to have sex with you and someone just as beautiful as you!" I know he means well and feels this would spice up our love life, which Lord knows, after more than 20 years could use more than some rosemary or thyme. But, hello, I'm female for crying out loud! Doesn't he know if there was another woman in bed with us that I'd claw her eyes out, strangle her to death, and throw her off a bridge? Is sex with two women really worth sending me to prison for the rest of my life over?

On Dealing with her 16 Year Old Son, Alex:
Nowadays, the only time Alex and I get to spend "quality time" together is when he gets home from school. As soon as I hear him come in the door, I can't wait to see him!

Me: "Hi, hon. How was your day? I missed you so much. It's so lonely around here when you're gone."
Alex: "I hate you, mom."
Me: "Really? Was your day that bad?"
Alex: "No, really, mom, I hate you."

I wonder for a minute if I'm back in college. That was the only time in my life when people hated me for no apparent reason. Of course, I was smoking a ton of pot then, and everyone knows that makes you paranoid. But then I look around and realize, no, I'm no longer in college. I'm a married woman with two disrespectful sons, a nice house that we can barely afford, and a husband who hardly knows I'm alive. Things are so much better now!

And then a sweet but distant memory flickers through my mind: Alex at the age of two playing golf with his plastic golf clubs in our living room, a smile the size of Texas crosses his face. "Look, mommy! I got a hole in one!" I was so happy to have such a bright, happy, sweet child. God, new parents are idiots.

Advice On Getting Braces After 40:
My advice to any of you 40-noneofyourdamnbusinesses out there who are considering getting braces is simply this: forget it. Really, just forget it. Let it go. Find another hobby. It's not worth your time, energy, or precious loss of essential chocolate calories just to enhance your ever-aging looks. Face it, your time is over. You've passed the baton on to a younger, thinner, and more straight-toothed generation. Don't make the same gruesome mistake I did. Let me be the one whose mouth died for your sins. You'll be happy you did, and you can thank me later with a super-sized box of dark chocolate hearts on Valentine's Day. (That way, I'll be sure to get something on that special day that my husband always conveniently forgets...)

RECAP
So there you have it. A little peek at my precious, "Little Pearls" (but, please, don't tell my husband!). And since I'm a neurotic, self-absorbed, dark, brooding, artist type who takes every little criticism to heart, please don't be afraid to let me know exactly what you think.

Happy Hauntings, Spooky, Naughty Darlings!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama - The New Castro!

TAKING MY TOYS AND GOING HOME
OK, my blood is boiling at about 1000 degrees. I just received several e-mails from, believe it or not, one of my best friends. Yes, he has a half-black/half-white grandson who should be excited to have such a great role model as Barack Obama. Yes, he loves the Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac. Yes, he still smokes pot occasionally. Yes, he lives in a nice house and drinks great wine. And, yes, he's a die-hard Republican.

The most sickening e-mail he sent was a You Tube video comparing Obama to Castro. Just when you think the Republicans have sunk to the lowest they can go, they dig a little deeper. I am so disgusted that half of the people in this country are so blatantly prejudice, uninformed, and, dare I say it, mean! I don't like McCain, but it's not because I think he's evil like Castro. Or that he "pals around with terrorists." It's because he crashed a few too many planes when he was in the Navy, graduated near the bottom of his class, and rolls his eyes at nearly everything Obama says. And, oh yeah, when he was married to his first wife he had a torrid love affair with a hot, young, wealthy chick who then became his second wife, and, of course, there's the little issue of his voting with Bush over 90% of the time and choosing an unvetted Caribou Barbie for a running mate. In other words, I don't like McCain because of the facts of his life, not because of some BS that was dreamed up by some liberal wack jobs that has no basis in reality.

I guess it should come as no surprise that the GOP's only line of defense at this point is to make really nasty stuff up. I should be pleased at these blaring signs of desperation, that SS McCain/Palin is sinking like The Titanic, and that they see no other means of victory in sight besides playing dirty and telling outright lies. (Mike Tyson must be so proud. In fact, maybe he's their campaign manager!)

However, being the tree-hugging liberal that I am, I want everyone to get along. Kumbaya and all that other sort of rot. I just wish everyone would play nice and let the chips fall honestly where they may.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take my sweet, innocent, little girl toys and go home.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Come On, Vogue...!

$150,000 Shopping Spree
First of all, either pinch me or wake me up. I must be dreaming! One of my biggest dreams has just come true! A $150,000 shopping spree at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's and Saks! Awkward, that Sarah Palin is in the middle of this fabulously amazing dream, but you know how strange dreams can be. And, really, who am I to argue? I'll take a dream come true any way I can find it!

OK, let me get this straight. While running on the premise of cutting wasteful government spending and reducing the pork barrel that's poisoning our economy, our dear Ms. Palin (is the use of "Ms." as opposed to "Mrs." too feminist for Caribou Barbie?) has spent over $150,000 on clothing in the past six weeks. How does one synchronize those opposing viewpoints in one's mind? (And I ask the following question as a certified, 12-step shopaholic: How does one spend $150,000 on clothes in only six weeks?) That's easy! Charity! How convenient. The RNC who paid for the duds will be donating all those great $1500 Neiman Marcus jackets to charity. That was a good save. I'm sure someone in the PR department got a nice pat on the back (or, more likely, a $10,000 shopping spree at Saks) for coming up with that one on the fly! I'd really love to hear how the Jane Six-Packs of the world can justify such "elitist" behavior from their adorable fundamentalist rock star.

And while the bottom of the ticket is busy pumping thousands into the death-spiraling economy, the top of the ticket is busy spouting nonsense about how Obama will "say anything to get elected." Hmmm. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Let me see. In recent days The Dynamic Duo have spent countless breaths spotlighting important issues like Bill Ayers and Acorn, while Obama has been on point regarding ways to resuscitate our failing economy. Yet, Obama is the one who will say whatever it takes to win? What utter nonsense. How about sending Obama and his grandmother healing thoughts and prayers? Nah. Although that would be the Christian thing to do, it would be way too civilized. And, the Republican campaign has been a lot of things, but civilized is certainly not one of them.

I had dinner tonight with my dear friend, Donna - a multi-generational Philly girl - and some folks she works with. One gal, Abby, is a Republican by birth yet a Democrat by nature. By that I mean, she's afraid she'll get written out of her grandmother's will if she were caught voting for a Democrat (her words, not mine), yet she agrees with a lot of Democratic issues (my words, not hers). What's a poor Republocrat to do? I told her to come out of the Democratic closet and vote her conscience. The interesting thing is that - like many Republicans I know - she's completely unfamiliar with the details of the candidate's plans. We were discussing health care, for example, and she figured that because McCain wants to give folks $5000 towards health care and Obama wants to insure the currently uninsured, that McCain is a far better choice. "Why?" my husband the doctor asked. "That's simple," she said, "Why should I help pay for health care for all those lazy people out there who don't work and don't want to get a job?" If that's not towing the Republican party line, then I don't know what is. Everyone out there who is struggling deserves what they get. God forbid anyone should get a hand-out. Not out of my hard earned tax dollars! They're all just a bunch of lazy slobs, anyway. Let's continue to ignore them and hope they'll go away. Oh, and let's make sure they have no access to birth control so they can bless the world with more unwanted babies. After all, that's what Jesus would want!

Now, if you'll pardon me, I'm going to go watch the Phillies lose Game 2.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Most Beautiful Place on Earth!

HALLOWEEN IN THE NORTHEAST
This time of year is magnificent. My sister, Laurie, called from Denver today and said, "If it's this beautiful in Colorado, it must be amazing out there!" To which I replied, "This is the most beautiful place on earth!"

This time of year the landscape in Pennsylvania (and New England, where we lived for five years) is breathtaking. Or to put it less eloquently, it's a major freaking sight for sore eyes! The yellows, oranges, greens, browns, and reds of autumn are brilliant, and literally make you stop in your tracks (or pull over in your car). The multi-colored rolling hills throughout the Valley Forge area scream for artists to grab their paint brushes to try to capture a taste of this exquisite landscape. The crisp coolness of the fall air combined with thoughts of sitting by a fire with a cozy blanket and a cup (or three) of hot cocoa with a splash of peppermint schnapps make me dread a long, cold winter just a wee bit less.

And, the Halloween decorations add to the wonder of the season and make me nostalgic for childhood trick or treating. I still look forward to this holiday every year. Seeing the kids in their costumes and the excitement on their faces as you place candy in their bags brings me back to the days when, dressed as a princess with a plastic mask that was hard to breathe through (does anyone remember that?) my mom and dad would walk me and my sister, Sharon, around the neighborhood. "Trick or treat for UNICEF!" we'd yell at each welcoming doorstep. When we'd get home, we were proud of the money we collected for less fortunate kids. But, what really made us happy was all the yummy treasures we'd gathered! We'd run up to our room, tear the uncomfortable masks off our faces, and pour all the candy out of our orange pumpkin candy holders and organize as follows: Chocolate kisses in one pile, Bubble Yum in another, lollipops in another, and so on, until every single piece of candy was accounted for. Then the fun would begin. We'd trade each other for our favorites. My personal delights included: Raisinets, Hershey's dark chocolate, Nestle's Crunch, Starbursts and bubble gum. It was just like being a kid in a candy store, except the store was our bedroom and the candy was free! Plus, I got to feel like the princess that I knew I was.

TWO WEEKS TO ELECTION DAY / LESS CANDY FOR THE NEIGHBORS?
Tonight's headline reads, "Obama Widens Lead Over McCain!" Of course, this is MSNBC, so it's probably a bit biased in the liberal Democratic direction, but I'll take my good news wherever I can find it. To be fair, I also checked FOX news online and their stories aren't any cheerier for The Dynamic Duo.

Unfortunately, for those of you who were intrigued by my psycho neighbor's display of fanatical Republicanism, I don't have any new dramatic updates. Although, they have brought their kids to our house on Halloween for the past four years (even when we had our Kerry/Edwards signs proudly displayed.), I have a feeling this Halloween might be different. They just might be satisfied with a little less candy in their Republican orange pumpkin candy holders this year.

Stay tuned for more exciting episodes of "Insanity in the Suburbs!"

Friday, October 17, 2008

From Greed to Green

HOME AGAIN
First of all, I'm back home in the lovely suburbs of Philly again. GO PHILLIES!!! The good news is our "Obama/Biden" signs haven't been snagged and are still standing on our front lawn. And thank goodness, really, otherwise I'd have to replace them with the "Kerry/Edwards" sign I've got framed in my living room. The bad news is I have to unpack. I don't know about you, but there is a drastic difference between packing (good!) and unpacking (evil!). I look forward to going through the mail (blatant lie) and getting my life back to "normal." (If that ever actually happens, I'll be sure to let you know.)

FINAL DEBATE / A SPECIAL KIND OF DUMB
Before I give you my schpiel (or "spiel" whichever spelling you prefer) on Obama's upcoming landslide, I have to mention this hilarious blog my sister, Laurie, turned me on to the other day: margaretandhelen.wordpress.com. It's written by two 82 year-old women who are a total hoot! Really, this is a must-see.

Now, for my take on Debate #3: Duh, Obama won. By like, omigod, a mile and a half. Or possibly even two! Really, people, is there some sort of competition here? It's almost as ridiculous as watching Bush debate Kerry. Why are the Republicans so stupid? Is it genetic? If McCain referred to Joe the Plumber (who, btw, is not a certified plumber!) one more time, I was going to have to find him and hurt him. (McCain, not Joe the Nonplumber. My skimpy frame is no match for Joe's fake plumber muscles. McCain, however, I could take with my eyes closed, which is how I'd prefer to view him.) Speaking of which, his pompous rolling of the eyes and incessant blinking is enough to make anyone crazy. Four years of that, and I'd be locked up in a padded room. (Hopefully, with a lot of other formerly sane Americans and with cases of 2006 WillaKenzie Estates Pinot Noir!) Obama is clearly the winner here, and I predict will be on November 4th. At that point, I pray I never have to see the the ugly and annoying faces of the Dynamic Duo again (guess which one's ugly and which is annoying). Do you know how lame you have to be to make Dan Quayle seem smart? It's a special kind of dumb.

Funny Bumper Sticker Alert: Honk if you know how many houses you own!

FROM GREED TO GREEN
Mark my words: I think the fallout from the worldwide financial meltdown will actually be good! This is a gigantic wake-up call to all who have fallen into the "keeping up w/the Joneses" trap (I'm at the top of the list). Hopefully, we will transform from "Greed" to "Green" and start living like this is, in fact, our only planet, that we must take care of it responsibly and treat it with respect, and that we will start treating our bank accounts the same way - with responsibility and respect. I saw a great video the other day of this woman who had over 100 credit cards from which she was more than $30K in debt. In less than two years she managed to climb out of her debt. "Don't bother to keep up with the Joneses," she said, "The Joneses are broke!" How true! What are we trying to prove? I have been totally guilty of this awful crime for far too long. With you and God as my witness, I am turning over a new leaf! For starters, I promise to cut my facials back from once a month to every other month. Hey, a girl has to start somewhere! (Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It's been 45 days since my last facial.)

What are you willing to cut down on and/or give up? (And, please don't say, "sex." First of all, that's plain stupid. Secondly, it won't help the economy or planet any. And, most importantly it will make you less interesting and noticeably grumpier, and it's already hard enough putting up w/you the way you are.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Winding Down In Denver

HOME AWAY FROM HOME
My time in Denver, my glorious home away from home, is winding down. I will be back in the suburbs of Philly on Thursday night. It has been such a treat to be here and to spend time w/my mom, dad, the rest of my family, and some very special friends. My mom is such a trooper! I can only hope I've inherited some of her gutsy DNA so when it comes time to face whatever challenges may arise, I will greet them with dignity, humor, and the sure knowledge that I'll blast through them and be an even stronger person on the other side. Mom - you truly are my hero!

OK, now for some politics...

EPIPHANY
I had an epiphany this week. Not only are some of my best friends back in Philly Republicans, but some of my best friends from Denver and Kansas ("There's no place like home!") are as well. Who knew? Dorothy, maybe, but not me. I figure this is probably because I scared them away with my left-wing vitriol (or, at least, I tried). I do hope they know that I love them anyway, political faults and all.

CRAZY NEIGHBOR ALERT!
We have crazy, fundamentalist, right-wing Republican neighbors who are as loony as George Bush, Ann Coulter and OJ Simpson combined. I added the OJ part because not only is this guy a crazy right-wing nut job, but he's violent as well. (BTW: he's a surgeon, which just goes to show that education does not equal intelligence. And, like OJ, he likes to play with knives.) Apparently, some smart person stole his two highly visible McCain/Palin signs off of his front yard. Too bad, so sad. So to compensate, he put his Bush/Cheney '04 sign (that he'd apparently had framed and hanging in his living room) in his yard with a handwritten note that stated, "I believe in freedom of speech, unlike you liberal pussysh*ts." How eloquent. And in a neighborhood filled with little kids who know how to read. When my 16-year old son stopped his car in front of their house to read the handwritten sign, Dr. P and his gorgeous yet arguably sociopathic wife came outside and started barraging my son into admitting that he or someone in our psychotic left-wing, liberal pussysh*t family was responsible for this vicious crime. Oh, and did I mention Dr. P was carrying a baseball bat? During the last election they accused Chuck and I of paying our kids to uproot Bush signs. How lame is that? Why would we pay them when they were perfectly willing to do it for free? Anyway, my son told him he had nothing to do with it, drove straight home, and told my husband who immediately called the cops. The cop came out, spoke to my husband and son, went down the street and spoke to Dr. Psycho (in case you're wondering what the "P" was for), and then went back to our house and basically said there was nothing he could do. After all, it's not illegal to be yelling at someone while holding a baseball bat unless you're directly threatening them with it and there are witnesses to prove it. Otherwise, he may have just stepped outside for an innocent game of baseball when my son drove up. After all, the Phillies are in the playoffs. Maybe he just caught the fever. Ah, suburban life! I can hardly wait to get home...

IT'S DEBATE TIME AGAIN, KIDS!
Tomorrow night will be the third and, thankfully, final presidential debate. (Too bad, really, because another VP battle would have been so much more entertaining!) McCain is going down in flames, however, there are still three weeks left for the Republican machine to pull a vicious, lying rabbit out of their deceptive hat. Desperation breeds insanity, and we've seen some pretty insane comments from McCain, Palin & Co. over the past week or two. Obama is apparently palling around with domestic terrorists and gets a major hard-on at the thought of raising all of our taxes. Oh, yeah, and he really is a Muslim. Boy, throw that together and who would vote for such a loser? Me, that's who. And, hopefully, 55% or so of all voting Americans. I hope that three weeks from today I will be writing about Obama's overwhelming victory and, therefore, an overwhelming victory for America.

As McCain would say it, "Remember, my friends, I love you regardless of religion, political party or race (well maybe not race.) We have to fight, fight, fight, my friends, to get America back on track! I promise, my friends, I'll start doing something completely different than I've been doing for the past 22 years. Or wait, my friends, maybe I won't. Because, I almost forgot, that even though my illustrious running mate was just found guilty of abusing her power as Governor of Alaska (where she can see Russia from her house!), we have been and always will be MAVERICKS!"

My new bumper sticker says, "I'm Voting for That One!"

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