Category Archives: Books

Just What I Always Wanted

My very first blogging buddy, Nancy Roman, of Not Quite Old, has written a book!

Amazon Image

Amazon Image

I admit, I was a little nervous to read it.  I always am, whenever I pick up a book by someone I know.  Because I worry that I might not like it.  And then what do I say?

When it’s a book written by a blogging buddy, though, I am being ridiculous.  Because I already know that I like them.  I already know their writing style.  I already know that they can spin a good yarn.

Still, I shouldn’t have worried.  Not with Nancy.  Because Nancy is that good.

Just What I Always Wanted is the story of a fifty year old woman who changes her life dramatically, in part by adopting a pregnant 14 year old misfit.  Nancy’s gift for dialog and understatement, makes the story of the interaction between Cynthia and Shannon, as they try to form a life together, simultaneously poignant and hilarious.  It’s a story of hope, of love, of commitment and forgiveness.

After the real-life events we’ve all been living through, this warm-hearted story shined up my innate optimism just a bit.

Buy it.  Read it.  Get it here.

Would I steer you wrong?

 

40 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Fashion, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other, Writing

Monsters’ Throwdown — A Blogger Book!

As a person with Crohn’s Disease, I have seen my fair share of toilets, and my experiences there have been memorable.  And sometimes life threatening (especially if Goliath was involved).

And while I fully expect to die on a toilet, I was not born in one.

The same cannot be said of Eleanor Tomczyk, who writes a terrific blog called How the hell did i end up here?  If you don’t already know Eleanor, go on over.  She always brings a smile, makes you think, makes you laugh.

The story of her life is written up in her memoir, Monsters’ Throwdown — from her disastrous beginnings being born in a toilet, through her triumphs.  Eleanor always managed, somehow, to keep her head above water.

Monsters’ Throwdown will make you cry, make you laugh, make you thank your lucky stars that you didn’t have to go through what Eleanor did to just survive.  But Eleanor did much more than that — she thrived.  And we are all the better for it.

Monster's Throwdown

Available at Amazon — which, coincidentally, is where I got this image.

In today’s world, where racism has become, once again, less hidden, Monsters’ Throwdown is a book worth reading, and its lessons of survival, people helping people, love and triumph leave me very hopeful.

The book is available in paperback and on kindle through Amazon at this link.

Well, what are you waiting for???????

 

 

 

47 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Childhood Traumas, Family, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other

It’s In His Kiss

Fess up. It’s your fantasy and mine.

You’ve not only finished your book, but it was published. It wasn’t a best seller, but literary types – like us writer/bloggers – read it. Of course you don’t make any money, but writers are supposed to struggle.

At least until they get an offer from Hollywood, that is. And a flight to Palm Springs to discuss the film option with the head of a major studio and a cast of characters straight out of, well, Hollywood.

Vickie Lester (of Beguiling Hollywood) has a new book! It’s In His Kiss reads like a vintage photograph. Light and dark, blended into a page turner. Palm Springs in full bloom, Hollywood, stars and wanna-bes. Oh, and did I mention murder?

 

Available at Amazon.com

Available at Amazon.com

 

It’s out and available at Amazon.com .  A perfect book to take out to the cee-ment pond with you this summer.

Yup it’s your fantasy and mine. Except maybe the murder part.

 

66 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Holidays, Writing

I’d Prefer Flowers, If It’s All the Same To You

At my house, we’re not big on Valentine’s Day.  We have a nice dinner, John gets me flowers and I get him a book.  This year the book I got him is on the Civil War.

I don’t get mad if he forgets.  I mean, we’ve been married 27 years.  I know he loves me.

But I would certainly start a Civil War of my own if this was his idea of a Valentine.

Photo Credit, CrooksandLiars.com.  Thanks for the laugh!

Photo Credit, CrooksandLiars.com. Thanks for the laugh!

82 Comments

Filed under Awards, Books, Family, Holidays, Humor

The Truth May Be Out There … But it ain’t pretty

Well, it’s the moment of, ummm, truth.  Truth to tell, I don’t know exactly how many puns I can lie down in this here post before I get to the actual admission of guild.  Or guilt.

First of all, this five truths and a lie is a really fun thing to do.  Thank you Sips of Jen and Tonic!

Because, well, we all know so much about each other.  We have shared opinions, histories, illnesses, family – just about everything.  A quiz is in order.  Have you been reading my posts?  Really?  We will soon find out how well you know me.

Now I must fess up.  Damn it.

I asked you to choose which of these six items is a lie.

  • I once lobbied for the Koch Brothers.
  • When I met him many years ago, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice, told a story about how he was once mistaken for the elevator operator by tourists in the Supreme Court building, and how he pretended he was the elevator operator.
  • I developed my interest in politics when I took a college course on the Kennedys only because I knew the professor would give me an “A.”
  • I attended an anti-war protest and had a front row seat for Peter, Paul and Mary.
  • My mother contracted polio when she was pregnant with me.
  • I grew up in a house that the whole neighborhood thought was haunted.

People seemed to like my Thurgood Marshall story, but they believed it.  They believed that my house was haunted, too.  So which is it?  Which is the lie?

Have I put off the inevitable confession long enough?

*     *     *

I DID meet Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1978.  I was in a small group of people escorting Justice Marshall to the elevator at the law school where I worked, but I was.  And he did tell this story to a small group of people.

Justice Thurgood MarshallPhoto Credit here

“Not long after I was confirmed,” he said, “I was in a special elevator at the Supreme Court reserved for ‘Justices Only.’  I was thinking to myself, “WOW! — I get to ride a special elevator!” when the door opened and an elderly couple stepped in.’

“’Basement, please,’ they said to me.  They seemed to think I was the elevator operator.”

Justice Marshall looked straight at me, smiled and said:

“So I shuffled.  Said ‘Yes m’am’ and ‘what floor you say you goin’ to?’”  And he shuffled his feet and swung his head to demonstrate.

Everybody in that little group was white.  There were several nervous chuckles, including mine.  Only one person laughed at the story  – Justice Marshall.

*     *     *

I took a great course on  “The World of Work” my first semester in college.  The professor was terrific.  It was a humanities class – designed to introduce business majors (of which I was one, albeit briefly) to real stories of working people and the things like government, society, economics, that impact workers.  The professor and I seemed to be the only ones interested in the class, actually.  But the syllabus was full of wonderful books chosen to instilling a more rounded view of the world in folks who would be focusing mostly on numbers and not people.  The professor liked me and suggested that I take a course he was teaching the next semester  — on the Kennedys.  He thought I was clever, and I participated in his class.  He was enthusiastic about my writing.  But I had no real interest in the Kennedys.  I only took it because I knew that I would get an A.  (I did.  And I got one in the first semester class, too.)  And it did open my eyes to politics, politicians and government.  The next fall I moved to Washington, DC.  And actually, one of the books I read for that class, The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore White, helped me get promoted in my next job.  So my real deep, abiding interest in politics came about because I wanted an A.  True Story.

By Theodore White A BRILLIANT book Barnes & Noble Image

By Theodore White
A BRILLIANT book
Barnes & Noble Image

*     *     *

I misled you intentionally with my Peter, Paul and Mary story, although it is completely true.  I DID have a front row seat at the Lincoln Memorial to protest the start of the Iraq War.  Me and a pitifully small crowd of about 300 other folks.  I brought a folding chair and plopped it down, front and center.  PP&M were wonderful, but sadly, they did not stop the Iraq War.  Bombs started falling the next day.  That night in 2003, me, Peter, Paul and Mary and the assorted small crowd looked up as Marine 1 – the President’s helicopter, circled over us.  Oh, for a stinger … Another true story.

*     *     *

My mother DID in fact, contract polio when she was pregnant.  But I lied.  Because it happened not when she was pregnant with me.  She was in her first trimester with my eldest brother Bob (2nd of the 5 of us).  Bob is the family member I rarely speak of — the only staunch conservative in the bunch.  I blame the electric shock and drug therapy Mom received when she was carrying him.  Yup.  That’s the reason he is the way he is.   You can believe me, I AM a fake medical professional after all.

*     *     *

And hardly anybody doubted that I grew up in a house that the whole neighborhood thought was haunted.  OK, so you guys are smart.  I can handle that.  My childhood home was located next to the railroad tracks.  The previous owner had been the guy who threw the switch to change the train from one track to the other.  He died on the tracks.  His sister who lived with him inherited the house.  But she couldn’t maintain it, and it fell into disrepair.  It was a mess when my dad bought it, sight unseen, in 1963.  Everybody in the neighborhood really did think it was haunted.  Part of me will always believe that it WAS haunted.  We moved in on Halloween and my Halloween candy disappeared that very night.

*     *     *

To those of you who believe that I would never, ever, ever, under any circumstances lobby for the Koch Brothers, I love you all.  Each and every one of you.  Because I never would have done it knowingly.  Certainly not if I’d known what they would become.  Or even knowing what they probably were back then (assholes, I’m bettin’).

And I am sooooooo ashamed.

The Catholic girl in me comes out at last.

The Catholic girl in me comes out at last.

Photo Credit

Bless me friends, for I have sinned.  It has been at least 25 years since my last project for David and Charles, but I did work for a law firm as a (very very low level) lobbyist.  And the Koch Brothers were, gulp, one of our clients.

Our energy clients were a bunch of small to medium companies – oil, gas, synthetic, alternative.  At the time I felt pretty proud that we didn’t represent any of the big guys.  Little guys (a category to which Koch Industries then belonged) were OK.  Right?  You there, Right?

Now some of you may have an inflated view of exactly what a lobbyist does.  The top ones – the ones who make the big bucks – pick up the phone and schmooze with big wigs.  They play tennis and golf with them.  Have lunch. Liquid lunches.

Me? I went to hearings and wrote memos.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.  I ate Milky Way bars in the hall waiting for hearings to start instead of going out to fancy restaurants for four martinis.

So it is safe to say that I did not plant the seed that became the Koch Brothers.  I didn’t water it.  I might have thrown dirt at them had I known what they would become, but I didn’t even do that.  I wrote memos about what was happening in Congress.  Not what should happen to facilitate the taking over of America by the crazy people.

It was only in the last few years when I read or heard about David and Charles that I went “OH SHIT” .  Because I remembered that they were one of the old firm’s clients.

David and Charles were different back then.  I know that even though I can say that for certain as I never laid eyes on them.  They hadn’t yet become the evil twins.  They were not yet trying to take over the world.  They didn’t even know that they could buy votes in such volumes.  It took Justice Roberts’ court to do that.  (Did I mention that I used to hang out with Justice Roberts years ago ? … And when he was nominated for the Supreme Court nobody asked me a single question about him.  Oh, never mind.)

And you want to know the weirdest thing?  The Koch Brothers were very secretive.  Even back then, when they had much less to hide.  I may be assassinated just for admitting that I once worked for somebody who once worked for them.  You never know with guys with that much money and no conscience.  If I don’t post in the next couple of days, please send help.

In the meantime, please send soap.  “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!”

41 Comments

Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Campaigning, Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Family, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Mom, Stupidity

Advice from a Master

It was a Friday and I was bored.   What was I thinking?

 

It was a Friday at lunchtime, when I thought, what the heck.  I’d always wanted to do it.  But it’s in November.  When I work on elections.  November.  Thanksgiving when I have lots of guests every year and cook for days.  November when I already had a vacation planned.  Oh, and November, when I planned to continue along with, you know, my life.

November, when I start getting into my pre-Holiday “just get me through to February-s.”

November, when I’d already been in a writing funk since my dog Cooper died in August.  Nothing I’d written worked since then except when I was ranting (and how difficult is that?)

So naturally, with no preparation, no ideas, and precious little time, I signed on to NaNoWriMo.

What was worse was that I announced it to everybody in my office (they’re all supportive of my writing).  They were duly impressed and asked for advanced, autographed copies.

I blogged about it here:  http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2013/11/01/am-i-a-total-idiot/.

The answer to the question posed was/is:  Yes.  A big fat Y-E-S.  I am a total idiot.

But I did learn from my experience.  I think the thing that I learned most was:

Look before you leap You Nincompoop. (Google Image)

Look before you leap
You Nincompoop.
(Google Image)

 

On the bright side, I have been able to write a bit again.  And that was my true goal in signing up.  I wanted to force myself to write again.   And I have been able to.  So I did meet that goal.

And as a wanna-be funny person, I learned a valuable lesson from a true funny person:

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin
Image Doctormacro.com

 

Failure is unimportant. 

It takes courage

to make a fool of yourself.

 

Thanks, Charlie.  I think I have that down.

62 Comments

Filed under Books, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity

Am I a Total Idiot?

For years I’ve thought about doing this.  There has always been a reason to not do it.  It happens in November.  I always do Thanksgiving.

I have always started a writing project so it doesn’t count towards the goal.

I will be traveling…sleeping…having a life.

I have a job.  A husband.  A son.

But I always wanted to try.  So I just signed up for NaNoWriMo.  So the answer to the title posed in the Title is:  Apparently so.

I may live to regret this.

I may live to regret this.

Wish me luck.  I can’t wait to tell my husband.

 

126 Comments

Filed under Books, Childhood Traumas, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity, Writing