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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.


Today while taking my lunchtime walk, I was amazed by the number of people who got in my way. I mean, on an average walk in downtown Charlottesville, I may cross paths with a few people, but today? It was like Grand Central.

And it wasn’t just passing people on the street. It was intersecting at a corner where one of us had to stop or we’d simply collide. Or on several occasions I would meet up with a group of people walking together, none of whom would make room for my passage.

I have to tell you, all that stopping and starting? It got a little annoying.

And it made me think, why now? I mean, if I had left my office 38 seconds later or earlier, I may not have met up with any of these people – the sidewalks may have been all mine, or doubly as crowded. You just never know.


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.

Everyone can remember foods they loved as a kid, but can’t stomach the thought of eating now. Fluffernutter sandwiches come to mind, as do tuna fish and baloney. But there are some foods that I was never quite able to shake my love for.

GAOCB.jpgPickles: My mom nicknamed me Pickle Annie when I was a kid because I could tear through most of a jar of dill pickle spears in one sitting, along with drinking half the juice.  I don’t know what it is, but I adore pickles in almost every form except the bread and butter variety. I find a sweet pickle repulsive.

And I like any and all brands. There are times I am more partial to Claussen, and then other times, I need Vlasic or Mt. Olive varieties. But I don’t drink the juice anymore…my youngest daughter does that now!

HashCorned Beef Hash: One of my favorite breakfast choices of all time is Hash. But it’s terrible for you, so I mainly avoid it.

My first memories of hash is having it for dinner. My mom would cut both ends of the can off, push out the hash, cut it into slabs and fry it up. I guess back then two cans of hash was a way to feed a family of six cheaply. To this day I don’t know how she managed to keep the hash in individual patties, but she did.

If we are in a diner for breakfast and hash is on the menu, I will almost always order it. And I have to admit, every now and then I cannot resist reaching up for a can at the grocery store to make for Sunday breakfast. I’ll fry it to within an inch of it’s life and plop an over easy egg on top.

Doritos2000sDoritos: After school my sisters and I would demolish a bag of Doritos along with a two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi. We’d watch General Hospital and Match Game while licking orange dust off our fingers.

If I buy a bag of Doritos for a party or company, I find myself repeatedly reaching into the bowl. And if my kids have a bag open, I manage to find a reason to visit them so I can grab a handful.

I don’t know how Lay’s coined the slogan “you can’t eat just one” because that’s how I feel about Doritos.

spaghettios_sizedSpaghettios with Meatballs: Okay, this one is really embarrassing because there is no way to justify my liking of this food as an adult except for that it’s so utterly comforting for me.

When I was in Kindergarten, I would come home from my half day at school and eat a bowl of Spagettios with Meatballs and watch Underdog. But it had to be the kind with the meatballs because the plain kind had a sauce that was too sweet. For some reason the meatball version had a sauce that was zestier.

But I wouldn’t touch the kind with the little hotdog pieces ’cause that’s just gross.

If I’m in a real rush I will grab a can of Spaghettios with Meatballs for lunch at work…but I bury the can in the garbage and cringe if anyone actually sees me eating it.

28556Salami: We always had a package of Oscar Mayer hard salami in the fridge growing up, and that yellow package was my go-to food after a late night at the bar. I’d peel off 6 or 7 slices, slap them between two pieces of Wonder bread, and watch TV before going to bed.

I stopped buying the Oscar Mayer brand long ago, but I still love getting it cut at the deli counter. I remember one deli guy at the Grand Union supermarket by my house up in Jersey would slice it on the bias, so the slices were oblong rather than round. Mmmmmm – those were the days. I still enjoy a good salami sandwich from time to time…super thin, piled high and dry on rye. For some reason I don’t use any condiments on salami.

What are some foods that you never lost your taste for?

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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.

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


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.


Today a co-worker of mine sat with me to go over a few last minute items before she “left town” for the holidays. As we were wrapping things up, I casually asked where she was going. Her answer?

“I’ll be gone for six weeks.” She then rattled off a triad of envy-inducing destinations that left me wondering, how the hell is that possible for a working woman? I mean, the last time I had six weeks off I was unemployed…and there was no money for travelin’ at that time my friends.

But man, that must be nice.

I envy anyone who gets to travel – for business or for pleasure – it’s just so cool to be able to go somewhere new; to explore a new city or a part of the country you’ve never been to; and then come back home to all that is familiar.

Even something as simple as a road trip has always excited me. I drove by myself down to Florida once to visit my sister. Another time I drove to Mississippi to visit a boyfriend who was in the Air Force. Both trips were absolutely thrilling for me.

My dad would check out my car, and set me up with a AAA triptik map. As I drove down the road I’d look forward to flipping each new page of my map, and I could stop and do anything I wanted at any time. Cool water tower? I’d stop and take a photo. I remember stopping in Atlanta just to see the infamous Peachtree Street.

With the exception of my week long summer vacation each year, I almost never get to travel. The last time I was on a plane was when my dad was in a car crash back in 1999, and I had to fly out to Colorado. Other than that my family and I stick to car travel, mainly because it’s economical.

There are times I think of exploring my state of Virginia, but then I remember that my car has over 250,000 miles on it, and settle for something local…and familiar.


I hope one day I am able to get out there and explore again. Even driving down a road I’ve never travelled on before holds a bit of excitement for me. Where will it lead to? What will I find a long the way?

I can’t wait to find out.


This post is in response to the Prompt  Pick Your Gadget – where the question is asked, “Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?”

This one wasn’t even tough for me, because the possibilities of a time machine are endless and infinitely more rewarding.

The other two options? Here’s why they hold little interest for me…
Anywhere Door: So I guess it might be nice to walk through a door and instantly be on Martha’s Vineyard, or in front of a White Castle in New Jersey. But say I jettisoned myself to Paris – I still have no car, no hotel, and in my case, no money when I get there.

Invisibility Helmet: I find this notion freakishly voyeuristic. I fail to see the use of being invisible unless you have a knife wielding lunatic in your house. I mean, yeah, you can walk right into a Springsteen concert and stand in the front row, but isn’t being part of the crowd half the fun?

But with a time machine you can revisit the best parts of your life. If I could go back, I would…

Eat My Mom’s Cooking – I would love to sit at our gianormous kitchen table, with it’s funky blue boomerang linoleum, and inhale bowl after bowl of her soup, a pile of her pot roast, and a tub of her beefaroni. And then I’d hug her for 10 minutes straight and do the dishes for her while she drank a cup of Sanka in the living room.

Attend a Hody – This was an all night party in late September attended by every self-respecting Slovak in Northern New Jersey. It took place at Sokol Hall in Guttenberg, NJ and it was the fall highlight of my youth. It was a night filled with soda and chips and dogs with kraut and running in and out of couples doing polkas on the dance floor. Every year the band would play the Alley Cat, which was my favorite part of the night. And when the party broke up at 1 or 2 am, we would go to a diner and get pancakes.

Go Visiting With my Dad – Almost every Monday night I would go with my dad to the bank, and then visit one of my many Aunts, Uncles or cousins. I don’t know why I liked this so much. My night usually involved sitting at a kitchen table sipping tea with milk and sugar and eating delicious Slovak cookies or pastries. My Aunts always had some sort of baked goods on hand. My dad and them would mostly speak in Slovak, trading news from the homeland and discussing the family.

I’d eventually wander off looking at all the chachkies; My Aunt Steffie had a bunch of antique cars that I used to love playing with, and a Mr. Peanut statue that turned peanuts into peanut butter. And Aunt Margaret had a cuckoo-clock that not only had a little bird pop out of a door every 15 minutes, but also had dancers that would polka around a little platform on the hour.

Go to the Dalton Diner with John – There was a diner in the town next to us called The Golden Eagle, but somehow it got the nickname of The Dalton Diner. My best friend John and I would spend hours and hours there eating burgers and fries and drinking milk shakes. I think I ate a hundred or so Dalton Swiss burgers in my teens while John and I made fun of the very blonde hostess…I think we dubbed her Secretariat because she used to stride through the diner like a prize racehorse.

Spend a Week in my Old House – I’d need a week. I’d explore my backyard, make a fire in our fireplace, use the griddle on our ancient stove, and sleep in my old bedroom.

Other time destinations would include summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, trips to Great Adventure with John, and any weekend I spent at Seaside Heights.

That’s why going back is so perfect, because you can visit the things you loved as a kid, but you can still come home and hug your kids.

FU Phone

Last month my husband forced me to hand in my flip phone, and upgrade to a smart phone. I say “forced” because after occasionally using my husband’s smart phone, I realized that I don’t particularly care for them. Therefore I was reluctant to make the switch from my little flip phone with it’s wonderfully responsive little buttons.

Yes, using the internet anywhere you want is great, and taking a photo on the spot and posting it to Facebook or Instagram is fun, but not when your phone doesn’t respond to you.

Smart phones don’t like me. You know how you have to swipe to get your phone to unlock or to answer a call? I can swipe and swipe and swipe and 9 times out of ten nothing happens. I kept missing calls because the phone won’t respond to my touch. Finally I set it up so it answers when I push the power key…but that only solved that one problem.

With my old phone, the beautiful one with the buttons, I could call my husband or my daughter with 3 easy pushes of a button. With my new phone? It practically requires and act of Congress to make a call, and that’s after setting up shortcuts!

Here’s my current process for making a call to my husband.

  1. Hit the power button
  2. Swipe to unlock the phone
  3. Swipe to unlock the phone
  4. Swipe to unlock the phone

Phone turns off – start process over

  1. Hit the power button
  2. Swipe to unlock the phone
  3. Hit icon for my husband’s phone
  4. Hit icon for my husband’s phone
  5. Hit the phone icon to actually make the call
  6. Hit the phone icon to actually make the call
  7. Put the phone to ear without hitting any of the buttons on the sides of the phone or you will shut your phone off and end the call. Which I am almost never able to do.

Phone turns off – start process over

And this is with a shortcut. Trying to make a call to someone on my contacts list is twice the work because then I have to swipe and scroll and hit and swipe and scroll and hit and swipe, which is near to impossible to do one-handed.

Now I know why folks drive off the road…they’re not texting…they’re trying to answer the fucking phone! I can barely turn my phone on without swerving into oncoming traffic.

This phone might actually be the death of me.

So hear me now friends and family. If you try to call me and I don’t answer, it might very well be because I am in my car finding it impossible to drive and swipe and poke at the same time. It’s easier (and safer) to just let it ring.

Because I was forced into getting a smart phone. But I’ll be fair, I hated my old phone too, and complained about that one as much as I’m complaining about this one. But that one was manageable with one hand. This phone requires two hands, all ten fingers and the entirety of my patience.


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