Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Power of a Smile

I was on my way to work this morning when I realized I needed to stop for gas. As I was pulling into my favorite Sunoco station the song "Hello" by Adele came on the radio. Adele 25 was the last CD my sister bought, so whenever I hear that song it makes me think she's saying hello to me. But since it was a dreary, gray and rainy morning, it made me sad. I got out of the car and began pumping gas: gazing up at the gray sky and wishing I could feel...different.

As I was nearing the amount of gas I wanted to purchase, I happened to glance towards the window of the convenience store. One of the employees was by the window and looked out. When she saw me, she smiled and waved. I smiled and waved back...and it was transforming. That simple gesture from that woman made me feel brighter and almost like my old self.

It's amazing what a smile can do. I'm so thankful for that woman because she changed my entire outlook on the day without even knowing it!

The next time I'm at that Sunoco station I'm going to go in and tell her what she did for me. And I will try to do the same for others. You never know what might be going on in someone else's life. But one thing I'm sure of: a smile can certainly help. It helped me...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

By Request for Kitty

Her Majesty Ms. Kitty loves the Broadway show “Cats!”  She has the video, DVD, scrapbooks, pictures and has written 5 books featuring the characters.  She made her own costume one year, by hand, for the Halloween season and was Victoria, her favorite character.  She also quizzes me periodically to see if I can identify any of them (I’ve gotten better over the years!).  I figured since she was so enamored of the show, why didn’t I just take her to see a live production of it?


It just happened to be playing at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady; but I’m not going to bore you with the details of the nightmare that was actually getting to Proctor’s.  Why do you not have an exit off of the Northway?


Just because we have the DVD and video of Cats doesn’t mean I had actually seen it.  Whenever Kitty would put it on I would immediately tune out or get distracted by a shiny object.  So I was kind of looking forward to seeing it live.


What a spectacle it was!  The characters were coming down the aisles, climbing in the rafters and otherwise behaving just like felines. Then all of those people were on stage dressed as cats, singing and dancing: what’s not to love?  And I actually recognized one of the characters (finally): Grizabella.  I could kind of empathize with her: she used to be a Glamour cat, I used to be glamorous; she was a little shaggy and worn around the edges, I’m a little…less stellar than I used to be.  Plus, the other cats shunned her at the Jellicle Ball because she was grizzled.   Who hasn’t been on the outside looking in on occasion?


And then, miracle of miracles, at the end as Grizabella was singing “Memory”: what’s that?  Is that Victoria, befriending her?  Holding her paw and giving her a hug?  It is!  Now all of the others are accepting her too!  Hooray!  And look: Old Deuteronomy is escorting her through a receiving line made up of the other cats!  I think they’re going to get married!  And if an old Glamour Cat can get married, there’s hope for me!  I am Grizabella!


Look how happy Grizabella is as she and Old Deuteronomy, arm in arm, step up onto the old tire that is now lifting them up.  They’re waving!  Weddings are wonderful, aren’t they?  From the sky comes a lighted platform.  Old Deuteronomy helps Grizabella onto this platform, and now it lifts her up and away as OD and the others wave at her.  She didn’t get married: she dies!


No!  Say it ain’t so!  Why didn’t anyone warn me?  I feel tears fill my eyes and Kitty says, “What’s the matter with you?”  “Grizabella died!”  “Of course she died. You saw that at home.” “No I never watched it!” “Mom!” So of course I kind of embarrassed Her Majesty by actually crying.  Poor Grizabella: did she know she was going to the big litter box in the sky?


So of course I immediately changed my mind: I ain’t Grizabella!  I’ve got too much left to do before anyone puts me on a lighted platform to the sky!  This Glamour cat has plans to make the most of the lives she has left. So stay tuned!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Behind The Music

I’m not a big fan of the Beatles. I prefer them individually as opposed to the entire group. Ringo was always my favorite and I’m sure that opinion is unpopular too! But I digress…

I do enjoy some of their songs.  However, the one I like the most is “Eleanor Rigby”, another one of their simpler songs. It is such a sad song, made sadder by my own interpretation of it. So here's my "Behind the Music" moment for my favorite Beatles' song.

 Eleanor Rigby was the cleaning lady for the church. Never married, no children and no family: she was very lonely. Father McKenzie, being the priest, was always very kind to her and didn’t look down on her like the other townsfolk did because she was just a cleaning lady.

Father McKenzie was also rather lonely, because people revered him so much that they put him on a pedestal as their spiritual leader. They only visited for confession and the services; or if he did a home visit with the infirm.

One evening, his loneliness got the best of him. As Eleanor was leaving, he invited her to have a cup of tea with him before she made her way home alone. This became a habit, and they would sit by the fire and gently chat.

As you can imagine: they fell in love.  They fought their feelings for each other, but the flesh is weak and they ended up…assuaging each other’s loneliness in a way unbefitting of a priest. They swore it would only happen the one time, but once the seal is broken…you know the rest. 

When the townsfolk began to wonder at the change in demeanor of Eleanor, the secret smiles and pep in her step, they became suspicious. What did she have to be happy about? So they followed her one day, and discovered her with Father McKenzie! And they were not kind at all…

Eleanor Rigby died of a broken heart. Father McKenzie atoned for his sin, but lost his congregation. He was unable to save the soul of anyone else because no one would come to the church: much like no one attended Eleanor's funeral.

Man, what a heartbreaking story! Maybe I should become a writer…J This is just my musing of what the song is about. I bet if you were to ask Paul McCartney, I wouldn’t be too far off the mark!
Now go and listen to your favorite Beatles' song, and think about what it might mean...


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bittersweet Symphony

A few weeks ago I was driving to work and heard the saddest news on the radio.  Apparently, the group the Verve had been sued by the Rolling Stones for plagiarizing their song “The Last Time” and turning it into “Bittersweet Symphony”. And the Stones took all of the royalties, past and future, from the Verve.

Granted, I’m not a big fan of the Verve although I do like the song. But I felt so bad for them. They had this one song and the greedy group the Stones had to take everything from them. How is that even right?  They are a behemoth group, while the Verve was just a little band. And if you listen to the songs, you would never equate the two as the same. But I guess if you put the 2 songs together and slow down the Stones’ and speed up the Verve (insert eye roll) it sounds similar to the people who made the decision, but not to me. Besides, there are only so many keys on a piano and so many chords, so eventually something might sound reminiscent, but isn’t necessarily a copy of another song.

IF, by some chance, it was a subconscious “borrowing” of a few notes: was it necessary to take everything away? A similar situation happened with Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” but he was a gentleman and only took 25% of the other band’s royalties. Hats off to you Tom!

What about the many songs that are blatant rip-offs but the original artist doesn’t get squat? Like Joe Satriani who was ripped off by Coldplay? Viva La Vida deliberately took a piece of Joe’s “If I Could Fly” but didn’t give him a dime.  However, Robin Thicke and Pharrell sure had to pay the estate of Marvin Gaye for the similarity between “Blurred Lines” and “Got To Give It Up”. Personally, I think it was more of a similar attitude as opposed to a direct musical rip-off, but again no one asked my opinion.

 I guess situations like this will continue to happen, since again there are only so many notes and so many ways you can manipulate these notes. But at the end of the day: I really hope the Verve is able to make another big hit. I just hate to think of them with nothing. Maybe the Stones will let them tour with them, do a duet , be roadies or something musical to help them out. Come on Mick: throw them a little something! Lord knows they need it.

It’s going to take me a while to get over the injustice of it all. Even though I have no investment in any of this: I do have a heart. I just wish the Stones did too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My First Time

I was facing a real dilemma. I had booked a work bus trip for the Jets/Broncos game, and had sold almost 100 tickets which would require two buses. But the closer it got to game date, the more people dropped out of taking the bus and opted to drive themselves. The more people that dropped out: the higher the price went for the remaining riders.

Eventually, out of 95 people, I was left with thirteen. Thirteen! The bus company had a smaller bus, but that still would have put the cost of transportation at over $100 per person and that was unacceptable to me. So I had to come up with a Plan B.

I started contacting livery services to see if I could find someone to accommodate my group. I wasn’t finding a service that was economical enough to transport them. It looked like I was going to have to take them myself, and enlist my daughter to drive a vehicle too!

However, before I had to break the news to my daughter, I tried one more car company. It just so happened to be Platinum Limousines of Saratoga. I sent an email and the owner himself called me back.  After speaking over the course of a couple of days, he emailed me the contract that I wanted. He had a conveyance that fit exactly thirteen people which was perfect! My people had affordable transportation to MetLife Stadium!

The morning of the game our Platinum Limousine shuttle was right on time with everything sparkling clean, including the driver. He was very personable, professional and obviously well-trained in the business of taking care of his passengers. I knew my people were in good hands!

Afterwards I asked them to critique the service they had received. It was unanimous: they thought it was a great value for the price, the driver was delightful and they said I should definitely use them again. And I have.

This may not have been the “first time” you were expecting: but if you are in the market for wonderful limo service and haven’t tried this one, choose Platinum Limousines of Saratoga and have a marvelous “first time” of your own!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Haiku, Part 2

You are my best friend.

My broken heart you did mend.

We’re friends to the end.


Whisper in my ear

Words that I’ve waited to hear:

“I love you, my dear.”


Look into my eyes,

Does it come as a surprise?

This will change our lives.


Moonlight touches us,

Shifting shadows are a plus,

Kissing both of us.


Take me in your arms,

Let me feel all of your charms.

Inside, my heart warms.


Skin against soft skin;

Opening, I let you in.

Our lives now begin.



Thursday, April 23, 2015

If They Could See Me Now

“If anything happens to the baby, I’ll kill you.”  Those were the words that I heard upon coming to, after my former husband choked me.  He had also punched me, kicked me, and threw a TV on top of me.  I was 5 months pregnant at the time.  He was addicted to drugs, had lost his job due to a random drug test, and was mad because I wouldn’t give him any money for crack.  Are you asking yourself why I didn’t just give him the money?  Well I had a 4-year-old to feed and was the sole payer of the bills; so I didn’t have any money to spare for his newly acquired “hobby”.

People always wonder why someone stays in a relationship that has deteriorated to that point.  Misdirected loyalty?  Thoughts that they will change?  No where else to go?  Paralyzing fear?  Well I can tell you that I stayed for none of those reasons.  Mine was more practical: I stayed because through my job, my medical was already paid for my baby.  I wanted to move back home to my parents but I didn’t want to burden them with the cost of my hospitalization.  That’s the reason why I stayed; but I knew as soon I had my baby I was going to make like a tree and leave!

I maintain a sense of humor about it although it was a rough few months.  He didn’t beat me again; but he managed to make my life miserable in other ways.  One of his particular favorites was he’d take his pistol, put 5 bullets in it, and play Russian roulette with the gun pointed at my head.  I began to suffer a breakdown; to the point where all I wanted was to have the baby, take my children to my parents, and then die.  I had a 4-year-old to take care of, and a child on the way, and that became my only impetus to live.

But this post isn’t about me as a victim: it’s about me as a survivor.  In spite of what happened to me, and I won’t bore you with all the gory details, I managed to maintain a very small circle of “friends” who were able to support me during this horrific period in my life.

The first was my ex-sister-in-law, Ruthann.  She knew what was going on, and I appreciated the fact that she confronted him about it since the rest of his family was afraid of him.  This caused a riff in their relationship, but she continued to babysit Brie and do other little things for me.

The second was an older couple I met at a little neighborhood church.  They were childless and even though I never told them what happened, God must have put me on their hearts because they took me under their wing.  I had lost my very nice job and was just temping, so funds were scarce in my household.  They would feed me, or give me money for transportation.  Of course: I never let my husband know about that!

Another person was one of my husband’s best friends: Darrell. They had known each other for years and worked together.  He was a very nice person, which made me wonder why they were still friends, ha ha.  But on those evenings or weekends when my husband would be out doing God knows what with God knows who, Darrell would stop by to visit.  We’d talk, and he’s the one who convinced me to tell my parents what was going on.  I didn’t want to, because by that time my husband knew I was planning to leave and had told me if I did, he’d follow me to my parents’ house and set it on fire.  What with the escalating drug abuse, I really thought he’d do it.  But with Darrell there I called my mother and told her everything. And you know what?  My mother, all 5 feet nothing of her, said, “You tell him to come on up.  He’ll be in our territory then and that will be the end of him.”  It took me a minute to get over the shock of that, but once I did I knew I was going to go up there as soon as possible.

To make a long story short: I had baby Kitty on July 3, and was at my parents by August 2.  The older couple, the McKinneys, had given me the money for bus tickets and a little extra; and told me to not worry about paying it back.

The last person who was a big help was my landlord.  When I told him I was leaving but Raymond was staying, he asked why.  After I told him, he said the day I left would be the day he would evict Raymond.  Then he told me to call him when I got settled in at my parents’ house so he could mail me the deposit check!  I guess God don’t like ugly, does He?

So I moved back home from Long Island and the rest is history, as they say.  I wish these people could see how far I’ve come since that time.  The last time I saw Ruthann was 16 years ago, when she came to visit for Brie’s graduation.  She was ecstatic with how things were going for us; and I talked to her in 2007.  She’s still in Long Island and we’re friends on Facebook.

I called the McKinneys when I was settled.  They were so happy for me; and I really wish I had kept in touch with them.  I don’t know if they’re still around, but a little piece of my heart belongs to them.

I did call the landlord when I was settled and he sent me the deposit check.  That was a blessing; and he said the eviction process had been started.  There was my little bit of satisfaction!

As for Darrell: unfortunately, he died just a few short years after left.  What I didn’t know at the time of our friendship was that Darrell was a heroin addict; and he died of AIDS in Florida.  That was a very hard pill for me to swallow, since I had never had a chance to talk to him and let him know that things were A-Okay with me.

I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of those very special people. I just hope, in some small, inexplicable way, they truly can see me now.