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This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt, The Stat Connection where the question was asked, “Go to your Stats page and check your top 3-5 posts. Why do you think they’ve been successful? Find the connection between them, and write about it.”

I need to start this particular post with a WordPress gripe. A while back, WordPress changed their stats page, from one that I really liked, to one I don’t particularly care for. While I can see what my top posts are for a certain year, I can’t seem to find a spot where they show stats for all time. So, I can’t really answer this prompt accurately.

Rant done.

That being said, there are two past posts of mine that get views almost everyday, and they both involved nudity. How very Typical.

One post “On the Beach in the Buff” talked about skinny dipping and describes a time in my past when I regularly attended a nude beach in Jersey. That post, by my calculation, has been viewed 2,829 times by folks most likely trying to see some nudies. While I do have a photo posted, I blurred out faces and covered all the naughty bits out of respect for my old beach buddies.

The other post that gets a ton of hits is “The Naked Party.” Gee, I wonder why? That titillating tale has been viewed 1,797 times. It has actually had more traffic than the nude beach post over the past two years, but I wrote the beach post the year prior, so it had a head start.

Everything else falls very far behind these two somewhat provocative posts. A close third is when I attempt to debunk a time continuum flaw in the movie “Steel Magnolias.” That post, “Where Steel Magnolias Goes Awry” holds the record for most comments by far. Folks who have also noticed this serious screw up in the movie keep finding this post and commenting on it.

So why are these posts so popular? I have a feeling the skinny dipping one was shared somewhere on a nude beach enthusiasts page and gets traffic through that. As for the naked party? People are bored and curious. Sex sells. What can I say. I find it both sad and humorous.

 

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Today my oldest daughter, a senior at VCU, hosted her very first radio show on the campus station.

She had mentioned a desire to volunteer for her own show last semester, but with classes and her involvement with Phi Sigma Pi, I never thought she’d make the time. Plus, she tends to procrastinate – doing and saying are like Earth to Mars many times for her.

But not this time. Earlier this week she met with the station manager, familiarized herself with the board (which she pretty much knew from her communications classes) and today, at a shade past 10 am, she was on the air.

She played music…and lots of it was pretty good. Some Beck, Vampire Weekend, and Talking Heads. She mentioned her sister and her love of the Beatles. She talked about how it feels to attend a concert, using her time working at the Charlottesville Pavilion as an example. And she admitted it was her first broadcast, and that she knew her family was listening.

And we were, thanks to live streaming. Her dad, myself…even her Aunt Judy in Florida tuned in to hear the show. I sat there listening to her sweet voice – high and clear – sort of like the mew of a kitten, and I was fairly bursting with pride.

Because there was my girl, on the radio. My girl who until she tried out for her first play in high school, was as shy as they come. My girl who continues to take chances and push herself in order to build experience and create opportunities for herself.

And this is the same girl who, while snuggled in bed, will call me to her room only to ask for me to hand her the TV remote that is 3 feet away.

And as for the prejudice part? Yeah, her show wasn’t perfect, but it was really good. And it’s only going to get better. If you want to listen, she’s on the air Wednesdays at 10 am on WVCW.

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This morning had to be late for work. My daughter’s school had a two hour delay, which meant school started at 10:25. I’m supposed to be at work at 9:30. I was fully aware of the deficit in time.

I had discussed this with the office manager yesterday, saying that I would stay late to make up the time – today is one of my half days at work, and I’m usually off at 1:30. I figure no biggie, I’ll stay until 3.

I am always very honest about my time. I hate being late, I hate feeling like I’ve cheated my employer of hours. If I’m stuck in traffic getting back from lunch on Monday, I will come in 15 or 20 minutes early on Tuesday to make it right – even if they don’t know about the deficit in time. It’s about keeping it equal and right in my mind that counts.

That being said, one of the first emails I read this morning was from my boss, saying I needed to make up the time today or tomorrow, not “after hours.” I quickly responded saying that I wasn’t sure what “after hours” meant, but that I planned on staying until 3 pm today.

It turns out she was concerned I might try to “make up the hours” during times when we were out of the office, like before or after closing. And I was super insulted at this.

I’ve been here over two years, and I don’t feel like I’ve given them any reason to doubt my honesty. I have only asked to work from home because of bad weather and in sickness – and only on a handful of occasions. All other times I am at my desk, at the ready for whatever is asked of me.

I thought of the conversation I’d had with my daughter on our way to school this morning. I told her I had to stay late at work to make up the time, and not to worry if I were a wee bit late picking her up. I further went on to say that in the future, if she had late openings, she may have to get herself ready and take the bus because I can’t be late for work too often.

And when I get to work, I see that email which makes me feel like if the boss hadn’t said anything, she figures I might have tried to scam out of making up the time.

What insults me more, is an hour and a half deficit is immediately red flagged and commented upon. Yet the fact that I regularly show up early to work, sometimes 3o minutes or more, is forgotten. I can assure you that I am in the red when it comes to hours. They owe me way more than I owe them.

It was a cruddy way to start my day. I feel so devalued. Like I’m just 30 man hours per week…nothing more.

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This post is in response to If I Could Turn Back Time, where the question was asked, “If you could return to the past to relive a part of your life, either to experience the wonderful bits again, or to do something over, which part of you life would you return to? Why?”

After I graduated from college I landed what would be the best job I ever had.

Dressed in a white sailor shirt and a pair of navy clam diggers (that I bought at a Benneton store in Vienna, Austria) I headed out to my interview at Edrei Incorporated, publisher of Tiger Beat and Right On! magazines to name a few.

My mother was horrified at my outfit because it wasn’t professional enough. But something inside told me the corporate get up wasn’t going to land me this job. With no practical experience, and just out of college, I knew I had to appear funky rather than frumpy. To my relief, the Art Director met me in a pair of jeans and one of those hipster woven pullovers.

I got the job.

I worked there for three years, starting as a low-ranking designer that got all the shit jobs, and finishing as the Art Director for both Tiger Beat and Right On! But that job was so much more than the work.

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Typical me is in the stripped bikini top…front and center.

I made friends. Really good friends at the time. I had my first car, a Karmann Ghia convertible. Weekends were filled with parties and trips to the city with co-workers. There were perks too. Sometimes they would have us model merchandise for give-aways.

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I am the blonde bombshell on the right. What the hell happened to me?

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Big 80’s hair and hooped earrings. That’s me in the orange sweater with that ridiculous boombox.

 

Other times we got tickets to premiers in New York. I remember seeing “The Abyss” at Radio City Music Hall where I got run over by Eddie Murphy’s body guards. I got a freebie to Rambo III, which wasn’t exciting at all, and a bunch of us went to the 30th anniversary screening of “Gone with the Wind,” also at Radio City, where Butterfly McQueen spoke before the movie.

Sometimes we had famous people in the building. Kool Moe Dee, and Big Daddy Kane visited us once, and Tempest Bledsoe from the Cosby Show came for a photo shoot. That was pretty much it during my years there.

While the money wasn’t great, I was living at home and had few expenses. I gained tons of experience, but it wasn’t all art related. I learned that I could belong to a group…that I could be liked…dare I say “popular?” It was something totally new to me, and to be honest, something I never felt at any job again.

Eventually the magazines were bought by Sterling Publications, and I was offered to stay on as the Art Director to both magazines. I turned them down. I was afraid to go work in the City…see this job was a quick 10 minute drive from my home in New Jersey. Going to work in New York meant busses and extra taxes and long commutes. So I said no.

I’ve always regretted it. So I’d go back to that time…I’d be thin and have fun and drive my Karmann Ghia with the top down.

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Today has been a shitty day.

I had a noon doctor’s appointment, and my blood pressure was up. This is after I made a purposeful effort to meditate before she came in the room. I was already hyped up due to the fact that I had misplaced my phone, so I was trying to cool my jets. It did little good.

The one good thing I found out is I am now eligible for free prescriptions at the free clinic, because my insurance payment and deductible through Healthcare.gov so high vs. what I make in a year that I qualify. While it was good news, it’s humbling at the same time.

Then I decide to pick up some lunch and head back to the office, but my car won’t start. This is more than annoying to me.

Ah, my car. The Sloviemobile with over 250,000 miles on it. I’ve had this same problem fixed twice already, which is why I’m more than annoyed. My mechanic has over $600 of my money and I’m still sitting in a parking lot with a car that won’t start.

And remember, I can’t find my cell phone, so I can’t call the office. I decide to go into the lunch joint and use their phone and then it dawns on me that I don’t know the number to my office. I’ve been here TWO years and thanks to the ease of cell phones and push button technology, I have not memorized the number.

So, I had to find a copy of one of the magazines we advertise in to get the number. How ridiculous is that? Thankfully my car started again…she always does…and I was back at the office where a pile of “must have now” work was waiting for me, which I did while eating my now cold lunch.

Add this to IRS woes, FAFSA bullshit and having to apply for another student loan for my daughter’s schooling, and I wonder…can I ever get out from under the constant strain of being lower middle class.

And then I remember….the Powerball.

It’s $500 million tonight. That’s five-oh-oh with a MILLION after it. And while I have almost no chance of winning, there’s is almost nothing I enjoy more than fantasizing about what I’d do if I did win.

I find the processes of planning out my life with the sum of 500 million in the bank to be very soothing. If my girls and I have purchased tickets while grocery shopping, we will inevitably outline the places we want to go, the things we want to buy, and where we would like to live during our drive home.

So I will end this crappy day buying myself a few tickets and dreaming about all the bad things I can fix tomorrow morning.

 

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In response to the prompt “Happy Endings” in which the question was asked, “Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?”

January 1st marked 6 and a half years since I had my last cigarette. I know I’ve blogged about this before, but since the question was raised in the daily prompt, I thought I’d share my story again.

When I was in high school I thought smoking was the worst thing you could do. My best friend John smoked, and it would make me crazy. But then a few years went buy, and after a bunch of college parties where I’d bum one or two smokes I became one of those “I can take it or leave it” kind of gals.

When I started my first job after college, half the people in the office smoked, and after a few months of grubbing, I began buying my own. And there you have it. I was a smoker.

By the time I was in my 40s I was up to two plus packs a day. My husband hated it, my kids hated it. It was becoming socially unacceptable to smoke. I was the only person in my office who still maintained the filthy habit.

I had tried to quit over and over again, but if your heart’s not in it, it’s never going to stick. I liked smoking…that was the trouble. I actually quit for 9 whole months, and started again when someone offered me a smoke. All it took was that one cigarette, and I was buying myself my own pack.

I finally got a prescription for Chantix from my doctor. But when I went to the pharmacy to pick it up, and found out a one month supply was over $100, I got really angry.

I had gotten myself into this disgusting mess by being weak and lazy, and was not about to let it cost my family $100 a month. So I handed back the Chantix pills and instead got a box of nicotine patches for a third of the price.

I took it one day at a time. I didn’t smoke on Tuesday…let’s see how Wednesday goes. If I made it another day, I’d see if I could make it another. I was only trying to keep myself from having one cigarette. Because one was all it would take to make me fail. I didn’t think of the months and years down the road, because that would make the task seem impossible…I just thought of that one day.

After a week, I said, “gee, I wonder if I can make it to two weeks.” Then a month. Then two months.  And here I am 6 and a half years later.

I see people smoking in their cars or outside their office and I feel so bad for them. I know how hard it is to quit, and they still have that tough journey ahead of them.

I didn’t get off scott-free, though. I put on weight when I quit that I have not really been able to shake off. Not even after 900 miles of walking.

I still can’t believe I was able to do it though. It’s the one thing in my life I can say I accomplished.

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This post is in response to Childhood Revisited, where the question was asked, What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.

I think back on this memory from time to time, and have no clue as to how old I was, or why my little baby brain decided to store it in long-term memory.

I’m in my crib in the corner of my parent’s room. I can see the white slats making up the side of the crib. I can hear women’s voices downstairs…my mom is having a women’s club meeting of some sort.

I am content. Maybe it’s because my mom has just checked on me – perhaps she changed my diaper and with the late afternoon sun streaming through the windows, I am happy to just play with my toes and listen to the laughter of the women downstairs.

It’s a memory that is very comforting to me.

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It amazes me at times when I think back to some of the stuff I did as a kid. Either my parents were a pair of progressive, easy going nut-jobs, or they just had faith that the universe would take care of us. Hmmm, that’s kind of the same thing.

Anyway, last night while driving home I thought of a Christmas tradition that my sister and I did for quite a few years. We would gather the kids who lived next door, put in an hour or so of practice, and head out Christmas caroling.

s-l225Yes, at night, unsupervised, a group of roughly 5 kids would travel around our block knocking on every door and, when opened, sing the residents a Christmas carol or two. To make matters worse, we actually held a little tin measuring cup for the sheer purpose of collecting tips, but in a very nostalgic, old-timey Christmas fashion.

So upon reading this are you like, “Awwww” or are you like, “Ewwww?” Because thinking back on this, quite frankly, I’m struck with both emotions.

On the side of “Awwww” – We were really cute! All bundled up with scarves and stocking caps, spreading good cheer through music. And we were pretty darn good. We had harmonies worked out, and each house got a different song. I think we had about 10-15 good songs in our repertoire. Many times people had family over, and they’d all gather in the doorway listening to our song. Sometimes they’d ask for more. Other times the threw a buck or a quarter in our cup and wished us well.

On the side of “Ewwww” – Some folks did not want to be bothered. We had a few doors slammed in our faces each year. I’m sure many folks found us totally obnoxious. Who wants to be bothered on Christmas Eve with a gaggle of strange kids singing “Jingle Bells?”

Plus, as a parent (who tends to have some helicopterish tendencies), if my kids ever asked if they could go out in the neighborhood knocking on stranger’s doors to sing Christmas carols? I’d hum them a few bars of “No Way José.”

I guess that’s why I started this post talking about my parents. That wonderfully permissive pair almost never said “no” to these sort of antics. Hell, once we went out collecting on Labor Day for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon. Those are the kinds of shenanigans my parents allowed us to take part in.

After we would make our rounds, we’d head back to our house and divvy up our earnings over some hot chocolate. We usually wound up with around $5.00 each, which, to quote Spicoli, was righteous bucks back then.

It’s a good memory for me. To this day I can harmonize with almost any traditional Christmas Carol out there. After all, I had all those years of practice!

 

Posted in response to Safety First, a prompt asking “Share the story of a time you felt unsafe”

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Once when I was in my early teens, I awoke to hear very heavy breathing outside my bedroom door. I immediately began to frantically formulate a plan to thwart the evil plan of the drooling maniac in our upstairs hallway.

I seriously contemplated options, and envisioned my grizzly demise for a good 5 minutes before hearing a startle, a cough, and my parents bed squeaking, and then silence. I realized that the heavy breathing was nothing more than my snoring dad, whose head was directly opposite mine behind the wall of my bedroom. He’d woken himself up and rolled over to go back to sleep.

I was both relieved and ashamed that I had been so stupid and gullible.

Speaking of being stupid and gullible, another time I felt unsafe was when I stupidly made an appointment with a “photographer.” He had approached my girlfriend and me in New York City, saying we would be perfect for a project he was working on. My friend thanked him and declined, but I agreed to talk with him.

The day of the appointment something was gnawing at me, so I followed my gut and I called to cancel. Rather than being amiable or nonchalant about the news of my no-show, he was furious. He began screaming at me, cursed me out and hung up the phone. I’ve always been thankful that I listened to my instincts…I’m wondering if I would’ve wound up floating in the East River had I not.

I also remember feeling very vulnerable when I would come home late at night. The walk from my car to my front door at 3 a.m. seemed a mile long, and lined with creeps and perverts waiting in the bushes to pounce on me.

So I formed a little strategy. I would talk to a neighbor that wasn’t there. I’d raise a hand and say, “Hey Tony, it’s late to be walking your dog! I’m just getting home myself!”

Or, I’d talk to my mom as if she were sitting on the porch-anything to make a thug waiting in the darkness think that I was not any easy mark. If he tried to grab me, there’d be a witness…in theory.

I can’t imagine what it would feel like to really be in trouble. Like life or death trouble. I mean, I really thought I was a goner that night that I heard the breathing outside my door, but I was just a stupid kid with an overactive imagination.

To know true terror is something I don’t wish on anyone…but it happens every day. Kids abducted, innocent people shot by lunatics with guns, muggings, rapes.

I’ve managed to dodge that bullet for 51 years. And I hope to God my kids learn to dodge it too – or that I’m around to take the bullet for them.

 

A few years ago I blogged about seeing the original Star Wars, and with the newest installment in the theaters, I thought I’d repost it.

Because my 13 year old daughter is totally psyched to see it, and I’m curious to see if she will be left with the same sense of wonder and amazement I was when I saw the first movie back in 1977.

Of course her experience could never be cooler than mine was…

Originally posted on 7/24/2012

When I was 12 I saw a commercial for a new movie that was coming out, and it looked really bad.

It was for Star Wars.

If you’ve ever seen the original trailer/commercial for the movie, you might know where I’m coming from. It looked BORING. You can view the trailer here if you’ve never seen it. So with no plan to spend my allowance on that movie I put Star Wars behind me. But it wouldn’t be for long.

When I was a kid, I was pretty good friends with Andrew Shalit, son of NBC’s film critic Gene Shalit. While having a dad with connections must be a grand thing, having a friend with a dad with connections is nothing to sneeze at either.

Andrew invited me and roughly 6 other friends to come into New York City to see a private showing of, what else? Star Wars. While I was not thrilled about the film we were going to see, I was pretty excited to hang out in the city with my friends. I was not going to miss this just because the movie looked a little dull.

We took a van into mid-town Manhattan and were let off at a large office building. Hmmmm. I was expecting a theater. We took the elevators to an unknown floor/office where we were then ushered into a little tiny theater.

It had a big screen, but only 4 rows of seats, and maybe 6-8 chairs in each row. This alone was worth the trip to see the boring movie. I’d never been in a private screening room. I’m not sure if I even knew they existed.

Before long the lights went down and the movie began. 121 minutes later I emerged from that little theater in love with Luke Skywalker and wanting to be exactly like Princess Leia.

Except for the hair.

We were each given a T-shirt that had the Star Wars logo or the phrase “May the force be with you.” I chose the one with the Star Wars logo. What a great bonus to an already awesome day.

When we were dropped off back in our home town, my friends and I played jedis vs. stormtroopers on the walk home, using sticks for light sabers and rolling/running over people’s lawns and across streets. I don’t think the movie had even hit the theaters yet, and I was already hooked.

I bought a few movie stills to hang in my room and spent that summer falling in and out of lust for both Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. I think I saw the movie a few more times in the theater as well. But, that’s where the love ended. I saw Empire Strikes Back along with the rest of the world, but hated the ending. How dare they cliff hang me with at least a year to wait for the outcome.

Return of the Jedi was good, but neither that or Empire Strikes Back grabbed me in the same way Star Wars did. I also did not like any of the prequels. Jar Jar Binks was fucking annoying as hell, and the story didn’t interest me in the least.

I never jumped on the Star Wars saga bandwagon. You’ll won’t find me at Comicon dressed as Darth Nihilus (Stern fans may giggle at that), and I don’t collect the figurines. But if that wonderful, original, innovated film from 1977 is on television, I’ll grab my kids, pop some corn and plop on the couch to escape in to space for 121 minutes.

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