In response to the one word prompt, Newspaper

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I always say that my first job out of college was my 3+ year stint at Tiger Beat Magazine, but it really wasn’t. My real first job lasted only a few weeks, and it was at a local newspaper called The Bergen News.

I remember being interviewed by the editor; a smug, older man eating a bagel while peering at me over the rims of his glasses. I had to take a typing test, followed by an intelligence test. All this to make minimum wage.

The only bonus was the job was within walking distance to my house.

I spent my days working along side a designer who looked like a balding Art Garfunkle. His breath literally smelled like shit, and he spent most of his time trying to pick me up despite the fact that I told him I was already dating someone.

My days consisted of pasting down and mitering borders around ads, and searching through the giant clip art books for smiling woman reclining in leisure suits or balloons for a grand opening. For this I spent four years at college?

Luckily the job at Tiger Beat came through and I was able to miter ad borders in a much cooler environment.

The funny thing was, a guy Chris came to work with us a few months later. He had taken over my job when I left the Bergen News. He did not have to take a typing test. Nor did he have to take an intelligence test in order to get the job. He was a man, and was given the position without having to prove anything other than he had a cock and balls.

He also agreed with me on another thing. Art Garfunkle’s breath really did smell like shit.

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On March 24th, my husband and my youngest daughter traveled up to our Nation’s capitol to see The Who in concert. It was to be a real daddy-daughter day…a day off from school, tooling around D.C., topped off with a night of rock & roll with one of music’s most iconic classic rock bands.

They had a great time. The kind of time that they will both always remember. But…

By Saturday afternoon my daughter began to feel ill. By Easter Sunday she could barely get out of bed. Stuffy nose, fever, cough, sore throat; the whole nine yards. I spent the whole day cooking for her Easter dinner and she barely ate any of it.

By the following week hubby had it too…but 10 times worse. His cough was so hacking that he would come close to throwing up. Two very sick family members, both home from school and work respectively…along with me. I felt like a walking target. It was only a matter of time before mommy got clobbered with what I dubbed “The Who Flu.”

But here it is, almost two weeks later and I am fine and dandy, and I can’t help but wonder why. I didn’t even get a sniffle…not a tickle in my throat. Perhaps this was one of those “you had to be there” viruses. Something they both caught in either DC or at the Verizon Center, but miraculously was not transferable to me.

And I’m so thankful. We are super busy at work, and I don’t get sick days. Vacation days? Yes. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to use one of those to lay on my couch with a box of tissues.

In response to the one word prompt, Price.

Dunce

My daughter is in her senior year of college at VCU in . Technically she’s still a Junior, but she took a lot of college courses in high school, and now she gets to graduate a semester early. She will move that tassel and toss her hat in December of this year.

We found out last week that VCU is in the middle of a housing shift. They are closing down two rather large dorms, and making several dorms that used to be for upperclassmen, strictly freshman dorms. My daughter, who was supposed to get her housing assignment last Friday, instead found out that she is without housing.

VCU ran out of space leaving more than 1,000 students with no other option than to find an apartment.

That might be fine and dandy for some folks with six figure incomes and shiny Lexus’ in their driveway, but for us, this is not an option. You see, when my daughter lives in the dorm, the fee becomes part of her tuition, so it’s easy to pay for with student loans and housing grants.

Not so with rent. That $500 or more per month would have to come out of pocket. If I had and extra $500 a month I’d be driving a car with less than 275,000 miles on it. If I had an extra $500 a month my youngest daughter would have braces. If I had an extra $500 per month I would have a stove that dated earlier than 1980.

My husband called the housing office and spoke to a manager explaining our financial situation. He made her laugh, and she promised to try and help us find on campus housing. Yet when my daughter spoke to her advisor, she said not to get her hopes up about housing. Chances are they are going to award rooms to students who need them for the whole year, and we only need it for the one fall semester.

Her options are to commute, which she can’t do, because we don’t have an extra vehicle or to take all online courses and live at home.

Now, plan B would’ve been a dream for me when I went to college, but unlike me, my daughter is very active on campus. She shoots video for Rams sporting events, she is in a honors fraternity, and she has a weekly radio show. She loves her life at VCU…and she would have to give all this up if she finished her degree at home.

She’d be paying the price for VCU’s inability to plan. I think that sucks.

All I can do is hope that somehow, she finds housing, because I don’t think she should have to give up all that she loves about college just because we aren’t Rockefellers.

 

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About a month ago my husband and I realized something about our neighbors across the street…they didn’t seem to be there anymore. And this was very good news to me.

They weren’t really bad neighbors…they mostly kept to themselves. They had a few dogs that they never walked, but you rarely heard them bark either.

What they did have was a plethora of very loud vehicles. And this is what drove me crazy.

Most every morning for the last 5 years or more, I was greeted at 5:00 with the sound of a motorcycle warming up. Warming up for at least 15 minutes, and then revving loudly and peeling out of the driveway and down the road – a sound that did not fade for at least 60 seconds.

At 5:00 am.

They had 3 of these motorcycles. You never knew when a pleasant Saturday afternoon was going to be disrupted by the deafening drone of one of these Japanese monsters our neighbors loved to tool around on.

And then there was the car. Their son had a mustang convertible that might have had a muffler at one time, but clearly didn’t any longer. I have never heard a car so loud. He would spend at least 10 minutes in the driveway revving that thing up, and then, just like mom and dad did on the motorcycles, would peel out down the road.

I can’t tell you how many times I had to play back a part of a movie or tv show because sonny was on his way to work…his car would drown out everything.

This family was incapable of both buying a vehicle that didn’t break the sound barrier, and of exiting their driveway doing less than 45 mph.

I noticed one day on my way home from my walk, that all the vehicles were gone, and I thought that was odd. Their toter was at the curb…so I thought, maybe they were on vacation?

Nope. They are officially gone. Hubby spoke to a local cop and seems that they were foreclosed on. Perhaps they should have stopped at one ridiculously annoying motorcycle and paid their mortgage instead.

In any case I am glad. Glad for the peace and quiet, especially during this time of year where are doors and windows are open to enjoy the spring weather. And it gives me hope that I might get a new neighbor who is actually sociable…with a sensible vehicle.

 

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I used to love springing forward. It meant longer days and warmer weather. But this year? It plain pissed me off.

You see, I realized about two weeks ago that it was starting to get light out at right around 6 am. So, I set my alarm earlier and head out the door to do my 2+ mile walk right at daybreak. But I wrote about that last week, and am boring you, dear reader, with repetitive nonsense.

So when I woke up on Monday morning, after the obligatory spring forward, it dawned on me that now the sun will be coming up at 7:00 am rather than 6:00 am. Curses! Just when I was so happy to get back into the swing of things, we have to go and spring forward.

I am not a happy camper. Now I’m largely stuck walking at lunch, which usually is no problem. But, it’s getting warmer here in good old Virginny – even though it’s only March, walking at lunch is getting to be uncomfortable.

It’s supposed to be 80° tomorrow….like I want to walk in that!

I guess there’s nothing much for me to do except wait for mother nature to catch up to the government mandated time change.

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Yesterday I noticed that the sun is beginning to rise at around 6:00 am, and this was very good news to me.  I really dig walking first thing in the morning, but until now, it was just too dark for me to do it safely, and if I waited until the sun came up, there wasn’t enough time to walk before I had to get the house ready for school/work.

So I’ve been stuck walking in the afternoons, which I don’t like as much. But today, I woke up at a little after 4 am – I got my freelance work done, at promptly at 6:00, with the sun cresting over the treetops, I went out for a nice 2 mile walk. With a few episodes of “The Lapse,” one of my new favorite podcasts as company, the walk went by quickly, and just like that, I got my daily exercise done.

Tada! Mornings are great.

Now, any extra exercise I do later today is gravy…the proverbial icing on the cake. I adore my morning walks, and have missed them over the winter. Hello spring. I welcome you.

TRUMP

My husband and I used to LOVE watching the Celebrity Apprentice. The board room scenes were the best, because it was fascinating to see Donald Trump back someone in a corner and then go for the jugular. It was good TV.

But as the weeks go by, I am really starting to despise Donald Trump. He never answers a question. Never. He calls names. He gives no examples or proof to back up his claims or proposed programs.

I have been waiting patiently for the other clown shoe to drop – for him to do something so egregious to where few Americans would forgive him, and his bid for the Presidency would be mercifully over.

The problem is, that the wackier this guy gets, the more “Uhmericuns” are eating it up. After super Tuesday, I came to a conclusion. We have a lot of really stupid, gullible people in this country.

Trump is promising a lot and will most likely deliver little, just like any As Seen on TV Product. You know, I bought one of those products once…Tag Away. It promised to get rid of skin tags, yet after a month of use, there was no improvement whatsoever. I had saved my receipt, and wrote for a refund, which they gave me, stating that in rare instances, a person’s body chemistry may cause the product to be ineffective.

But at least I got my money back, unlike the poor souls who went to Trump University.

Remember, Trump loves the uneducated. Because he knows all he has to do is wave a flag, and wear a Make America Great Again hat, and talk about gun rights and sending back all those raping Mexicans and his followers will cheer and cheer… and then go home to eat a dump cake wrapped in a Snuggie.

I just don’t get how anyone can buy what he is peddling, and then I remember how popular Big Bass Billy Mouth was.

singing-fish-original And it begins to make sense.

 

The other day I found out an old family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I have to tell you, this news bummed me out.

Growing up, my parents were good friends with Dan & Tina Morielli – and our families spent a good amount of time together, and I always looked forward to our outings…whether it was a trip to the Poconos or just a Saturday night hanging out at home, it was always a good time.

Dan & Tina had two kids, and we had four, and the six of us always managed to have a blast. A lot of our chuckles originated from the fights our parents used to get into over politics or whatever. I’ll tell you one thing, the visits were never dull.

We lost Danny years back, and now, Tina has cancer. I wrote this post years ago as part of a private collection I keep, but I feel the need to share it now. Because these people were such a big part of my childhood, and all the times with them were the best.

The Morielli’s Condo in Miami Beach – A Summer Playground

The summer we went to Miami Beach with the Moriellis was one of the best vacations of my entire life. It was  1973, which must have made me 8 1/2 – wow, I can’t believe I was that young. I remember so much from that trip, perhaps because it was made of the stuff that makes family legends. We retold these stories among us over and over during car trips and holidays growing up because we had a full week of hilarity and hi-jinx.

The Moriellis were, in my opinion, our closest and coolest family friends growing up. I have no clue how our families met – I’ll have to ask Dad about that one – but when we were getting together with The Moriellis you were in for a fun time. Parents: Danny & Tina. Kids: Anthony and Antoinette. Neither kids were close to me in age. They were about the age of my older siblings, but it didn’t seem to matter. I never recall being shunned or ousted from the action because I was a little runt.

A Car-Full of Yankees Heading South
The Moriellis bought a condo in Miami Beach, and our summer vacation that year, rather than heading to Martha’s Vineyard, was the long drive from New Jersey to Miami. I remember a few little things from the trip down. I recall our absolute glee upon reaching Florida (yay!), only to be told that Miami was still like 6 hours away (boo!). I also remember stopping at a “Welcome to Florida!” rest stop which had a machine that would cast a little figurine out of wax, I think. One of my siblings (can’t recall which) decided to use some of their money to buy a figurine, which was exciting as I would get to see this machine in action at no cost to myself.

Money was inserted and the machine did its magic and out popped a light blue statue of a dolphin jumping in the waves. We all “oohed” and “aahed” and whoever bought it decided it would be best displayed on the window ledge of the side back window in our station wagon. This proved to be a big mistake in the hot Florida sun. I don’t think that little statue made it to Miami before it melted and folded in on itself.

Mom, Dad (complete with belly flab) and Tina Morielli at the pool

Six Kids Run Amok
Once we arrived in Miami the fun began. the Moriellis condo was small and meant only for a family of four, not a hoard of 10. A bunch of us had to sleep on sleeping bags in the walk-in closet, which to a small kid was a blast. The condo had a pool, elevators, a gym and card rooms all waiting for us to explore.

We soon found out that this condo catered to much older, child-less clientele, and we were loose and on the prowl. When we weren’t at the pool, the beach or eating, we didn’t have all that much to do, so off we would go in search of adventures in a 15-story condominium.

One of our favorite games was elevator races. You would start in the lobby and the object was to race in 2 different elevator cars to the penthouse and back. The fun of the game was you never knew when the elevator was going to stop to pick up people, thus slowing your trip. I recall being amazed at how the hallway in the penthouse was wide and lavishly decorated with plants and statues, and that one floor always smelled of chicken soup.

The gym had some kooky machines!

We would also amuse ourselves by whipping bottles and other garbage down the garbage chute, which made quite a noise and was probably very bothersome to those who could hear it. We would often try to sneak into the gym which had a whole bunch of old-timey exercise machines, and medicine balls to goof around with, but eventually some grown-up would come along and yell at us to hit the bricks.

We were allowed in the card rooms only if no adults needed it. The card rooms were small rooms with felt-covered card tables designated for Men & Ladies.I recall one girl came along to play with us. She was a bit older and her name was Doralee, and I think she was a little slow. I used to make faces behind her back to make Antoinette and Wendy laugh, which I realize now was mean, but at the time I was young and doing what I could to get a laugh.

Hi-Jinx in the Florida Ocean

The Sparkler Affair
Another moment sealed in the memory vault was the great sparkler incident of ’73. My sister Wendy and Antoinette had gotten their hands on some sparklers and had decided to light them up on the balcony. Danny caught them out there and screamed at them to get the hell off the balcony. So, Wendy and Antoinette walked back into the living room and stood there with sparklers blazing, in the process dropping little bits of fire onto the new carpeting. It was funny because they had obeyed Danny, but were making matters worse by burning the carpet.

After being ushered into the kitchen, and sparklers doused in the sink, Danny proceeded to chase Antoinette around the condo, screaming, darting in and out of rooms trying to administer a few good cracks. I stood like a statue in awe taking the whole scene in. Danny walked back into the room shaking out his hand and muttering “that kid’s got an ass like a rock.” Repeating that phrase to family members is still good for a laugh today.

Tina, Judy, Antoinette and Anthony – Bathing caps were mandatory for women

Here I am with Judy in my halter and shorts in front of Cinderella’s Castle

The Clan Takes On Disney World
The highlight of the trip was our visit to Disney World. Orlando is quite a distance from Miami, so as an adult I’m impressed the adults dared to make this trek with 6 unruly and often wise-cracking children. Disney was going to be a one day trip; no hotel stay; just there and back. I imagine whoever had to do the driving was pretty tired at some point during the day because I know we left well before dawn and did not return till the wee hours of the following morning.

Disney Ticket Book – 7 whole adventures? Gee Mickey, where do I start!

Back in ’73, Disney operated a bit differently than it does today. Rather than fork over the equivalent of a mortgage payment to enter the park, and ride all you want for that once price, you purchased a ticket book. There were a certain amount of tickets for each park section (like Adventure Land, for example) and each ride in that section required a specific amount of tickets. This proved to be rather sucky, because there were sections of the park that had better rides than others, and you had to make hard choices as to which rides you wanted to spend your tickets on.

I remember the Grand Prix car racing being a very big deal, but I was too little to ride alone so I had to ride with somebody which sucked. I held onto my tickets for Fantasy Land because I wanted to ride the Dumbo ride something fierce. I also recall us all going to the Hall of Presidents. It was pretty cool for its time because they had animatronic robots portraying all the past presidents, and I could have sworn they were real people.

Space Mountain wasn’t open yet in 1973, so our favorite ride at Magic Kingdom was the Haunted Mansion. There was really nothing like it at that time, and we were amazed. The special effects were mind boggling, and we simply had to ride it more than once. But, the ticket book only had enough coupons for one ride. This would require the purchase of additional tickets. For four kids. Asking Dad was a crap-shoot at best because we were always on a budget with 4 kids to pay for. But dad came through and bought us the extra tickets. I guess even he realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. As it is, I didn’t make it back to Disney World until I was an adult.

The Fire Drill
After the long drive back to Miami, the parents were exhausted and the kids were all asleep. It must have been a real chore to herd our group of zombies up to the condo, because they let us flop right down to bed in our clothes. The next thing we knew, we were up again with bells ringing. The building’s fire alarm went off, and we were required to evacuate to the lobby.

Once in the lobby we felt totally out of place – everyone else was standing in their pajamas and robes. Several woman had curlers in their hair with nets over them. But us kids were standing there fully dressed. I recall getting odd looks from people who were wondering why our folks would either (a) dress their kids before coming down to the fire drill, or (b) let their kids sleep in their clothes like a bunch of slobs.

It was a great trip, just as every adventure we had with the Moriellis was. It’s why I’m so sad about this news. I want to send Tina a card and let her know how much our family treasures the memories she helped to build…and that I’m thinking of her.

Because I know for sure, that until we are old and gray, my siblings and I will talk about our times with the Moriellis, and we will laugh.

 

Spring-Home-Green

While technically it’s not spring yet, our local real estate market begs to differ. Spring is the hot time to put new listings on the market, re-introduce old ones to potentially new buyers, and sell, sell, sell.

What this means for me?
Work, work, work.

I just went through 5 days of non-stop crazy work. Every agent needed flyers, every agent needed a mailchimp to go out, I had no less than 4 ads due…my legal pad was three pages long with to-do’s from more than a dozen agents.

There were times I wanted to cry. On Friday I had to put in two extra hours, which went unnoticed and unrecognized, unlike the time I was an hour late due to snow where EVERYONE noticed.

I was churning stuff out like a machine…and I have to admit I had my fair share of mistakes. Turns out, I’m not that great under pressure. I can get the work done, but it needs to be thoroughly checked by a sane person.

On a nice note, one of my agents left me a pot of tulips on my desk with a thank you balloon. At least someone noticed I was losing my mind.

Today was far less hectic. It’s Tuesday and that means Broker’s Open Houses…half the agents in my office were either holding an open house or visiting one. It was blissfully quiet…at one point I was here all alone.

But today, at roughly 2 pm – I crossed the last thing off my legal pad. I had caught up with everything.

Ahhhh – until the next rush of must have’s comes in.

 

cracked-egg

Everybody on the planet has made scrambled eggs before…well except my daughter. I must have made them a thousand times, in several different ways. Beaten fine, beaten rough, adding milk, adding water.

I had a cousin in Czechoslovakia who would pour the beaten eggs in to a pot of hot oil…he spun them around with a fork and voila! Very oily scrambled eggs. I didn’t care for that method.

Yesterday, on Pinterest of all places, I was led to a blog post that promised the best scrambled eggs ever. I was curious to see the method behind these superior scrambles, so I watched the video. It was a Gordon Ramsay video…okay, I kind of dig him. I can’t stomach “Hell’s Kitchen” but I love “Master Chef.”

His method, without all the bells and whistles, was as follows:

Crack two eggs in a pot…not a skillet…a pot, along with a nob of butter. Yes, a nob – how cute. Put the heat on high, and with a spatula, stir the eggs over the heat. Then, take them off the heat, but continue to stir. Repeat this on the heat, off the heat cooking, while always stirring, until the eggs are done. Season only after the eggs are done.

Now, here is where I differed from his recipe. I didn’t add creme fraiche because I don’t have any. I also cooked mine a tad longer because I think wet, loose eggs are disgusting. And I didn’t add chives…again, didn’t have any.

Those things aside, I have to tell you…these were the best, most amazing scrambled eggs I ever had. They were actually creamy – almost how eggs are in a quiche. I can’t wait to make them for my family.

My husband should love this method, because it cuts down on dishes. Now I don’t have to use a bowl and a whisk to scramble the eggs before adding them to the pan.

If you’re interested, I’ve posted the video below. Happy scrambling!

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