The Cat in the Hat and the Not-So-Stealth Santa

This is the story of The Cat in the Hat and the Almost Christmas Miracle.

You know how Macy’s has a special stuffed animal every year at Christmas? If you spend a certain amount of money, you can buy it for a nominal amount, limited edition, a collector’s item sort of thing. They do it every year, or they did, I don’t know if they are this year, but in 1995 their stuffed toy was Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat. It was about 2 ½ ft tall, and it came with a miniature copy of the book attached to its wrist. It was very cute, but not something that was on my radar until a friend bought it for her boyfriend that year.

It was my son’s first Christmas, he was 6 months old, and he and I went over to her place to visit one afternoon several weeks before the big day. He became completely enchanted with this toy, he wouldn’t let go of it the entire time we were there. Next thing I knew, my friend and I were on our way to the closest Macy’s to find one of these toys for my son for Christmas. It turned out to be a greater challenge than we had anticipated. It seemed that there were none left in the store. We ran from department to department, until we finally tracked one down in the men’s fragrance department, THE last one.

My son was so excited to see it sitting there on Christmas morning, and from that day on, they were inseparable. When my son could speak, the toy simply became known as “CAT”, and he went everywhere with us, even on a trip to Ireland when he was 2. Needless to say, CAT went through the washing machine several hundred times, and after a while, he started to look a little beat up. Not exactly falling apart, but well-loved, worn and faded.

When my son was 5, I came up with the brilliant idea to replace the old cat with a new one. It would be a Christmas miracle! Santa would return CAT to his original beautiful state, a better version of himself, to be loved for many years to come. I scoured eBay, and finally found the same 1995 Macy’s toy, in mint condition, and bought it immediately. I was so excited!

On Christmas Eve, I snuck into the room my son was sleeping in at my mother’s house. Total stealth mission, gently pulling the old CAT out from his arms, and replacing it with the “new” one. He didn’t wake up, it went perfectly. I hid the old one in a closet in the guest room, and happily went to sleep feeling like a little kid myself, I was so very excited to see what my son thought of our Christmas “miracle.”

I woke up several hours later to the sound of my son screaming. I ran in to see what was wrong, as he held out his CAT to me, saying that something had happened, this wasn’t his CAT. I knelt down next to him and told him my story about it being a Christmas miracle. He didn’t buy it, at all. He said NO, this was NOT his CAT. I insisted that yes, of course it was, Santa had just cleaned him up, gave him new eyes, and made him look like new again. He was still skeptical, but he seemed to start to accept what I was saying.

Many hours later, after all of the presents had been opened, I was sitting in the living room playing board games with the family, when my son walked into the room with a huge smile on his face, holding both CATs. He exclaimed, “See Mommy, I told you this wasn’t my CAT, this is MY CAT, Santa brought a new one and now CAT has a friend!” I was devastated for a moment, feeling like a complete failure at pulling off the magical Christmas “miracle,”  but then realized how completely ecstatic he was to now have 2 CATs, and that he had been right in knowing that the new CAT was not his CAT. So I just went with his decision that Santa had simply played a trick on him and hid his old CAT for him to find later. The magic I had hoped to create for him hadn’t happened, but he was happy, and that’s all that mattered.

For a while after that both CATs were taken with us everywhere, but eventually I persuaded him to let the old CAT rest, and just bring the new CAT with us when we traveled. So, the new CAT also got to visit Ireland with us as well when my son was 9, and everywhere else we went for the next year or so, until my son decided that he was too old for such things.

Both CATs are still with us, packed away in boxes now, because I couldn’t possibly part with things that had brought my child so much joy for so many years. I would imagine that few stuffed animals have been as well-loved, and as well-traveled, as these two. They’re also a good reminder that when playing Santa, you really need to be smarter than a five year old.


Counting My Blessings

 These are the things I am most thankful for right now:

My son. My sweet angel, and favorite little devil.

My boyfriend, for showing up, opening my eyes and my heart, and letting me know a kind of love I had only read about before.

Pumpkin. And by pumpkin I mean pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, pumpkin seeds….

My extremely loving, supportive, and sometimes dysfunctional family.

My niece and nephew, who are of course a part of the blessing above, but truly need their own call out because of how unique and precious they are. I always have such a blast with them, and just by being themselves with their extremely dynamic personalities, they make me laugh like nobody else can.

Tom Robbins books.

Conundrum wine, which gave me the guts to put myself out there and start dating again, which directly led to me meeting my guy.

My Mom’s carrot cake.


Finally having long sought after balance in my life.

Led Zeppelin.

My super kick ass camera. I researched and saved for it for 3 years, finally pulled the trigger about 5 months ago. I’m still trying to figure out how to use it…


Valium. For when yoga doesn’t get me there.

Scary movies.

Knee high boots and flip flops.

The beach.

My strength, faith, and hopelessly optimistic spirit.

My career, and all of the people who took chances on me along the way.

All of my girlfriends. We’re all spread out all over the country now, but I love them dearly, miss them tons, and very much look forward to our phone dates.

The BEST Apple Crisp recipe on the planet, which I got from my friend Jen, and haven’t shared with anyone else, until now. This recipe is so freaking easy, and the results are so unbelievably fantastic, you’re going to want to keep it to yourself too! I just made it for dessert for tomorrow night, here’s a photo of the finished product:

And here is the recipe:

6 apple – peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup water
1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Arrange apples in an even layer in bottom of baking dish. Pour water over apples.
In a medium bowl, mix together cake mix, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter until ingredients are thoroughly blended; mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over apples.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, with many cocktails and as little family drama as possible!

Thankful Thursday Blog Hop           Mama's Losin' It

My Thirty Spot

A Boy Making a Man’s Decision

We all have tough decision to make in life, some harder than others. This story is about my greatest challenge as a mother, and a decision my son should have never had to make.

It’s just been me and my son since as long as I can remember, it feels like it has always been that way, but it hasn’t. The dad and I were together until he was two years old. My son doesn’t remember that time of course, thankfully, because as there were many happy, good times, there were just as many bad, painful things that occurred then as well. The dad and I had loved each other, but he wasn’t ready to grow up and deal with all of the responsibilities of being a parent, which I had no other choice but to do. We were young, and he was a drummer in a band, our lifestyle had been very much about the party, but changes were necessary once our son was born. I changed, I grew, I embraced parenthood and all of the changes and sacrifices that it entailed, but he wasn’t ready for it, and he had a temper which eventually made it an impossible situation. We tried, but it just didn’t work.

After our split, we tried to do the weekend visitation thing, but that didn’t work for long either. I went back to college up in CT, and drove our son down to him in NJ every weekend. As much as I tried to make the situation work, it wasn’t enough for his dad, and eventually he decided to move to SC to start a new life there. We kept in touch for a while, but he soon just disappeared. I never went after him for child support, or anything, I had figured that if it was that hard for him to be there for his son and do the right thing, if it was that easy to just walk away, it was better to let him go, for both of us. We didn’t hear from him again for years.

About a year after we moved to California, when my son was 7, I felt this uncontrollable urge to try to track down the dad, just to make sure he was okay. I had a feeling that something had happened to him, and I needed to know. I had always made it a priority to stay close to the dad’s entire family for my son’s sake, even though he was no longer in the picture, it was so important to me that my son always know where he came from. None of them had heard from the dad in years either. They tried to discourage me from looking, they were concerned about my son being hurt, but I couldn’t help myself. A friend of mine found him in a bar in Charleston, she walked up to him and called me, then put the phone to his head. We spoke. He was in bad shape, I was kind, and he cried. That conversation led to another and then another. He left SC and moved closer to his family in PA, and got sober. I called him every day for a year to support him and remind him why he was doing it. When I knew he was in a good place, I let him back into my son’s life. It started with phone calls, which became more frequent over time, and eventually he came to visit us out in CA.

I need to mention a very critical part to all of this. In all of the years that the dad was absent from his life, I had always told my son that he was very sick, and that’s why we couldn’t see him. The truth was that he had a major issue with alcohol and drugs, and he had depression issues which perpetuated his addictions. In my book “sick” is a relatively accurate description of this, though I might use a significantly more colorful vocabulary in describing him to anyone else, the whole truth was clearly not information my son needed to know. I knew it was critical to keep him from thinking that his father had just abandoned him. I was a psychology major in school, so I had some understanding of what damage this could cause. I knew that children could understand “sick” and it was something that they could feel compassion for, and even if it made them sad, they would not be internalizing anything damaging because of it. So when his father came back into his life, there was no resentment, only joy that he was now better.

It didn’t take very long for him to disappoint us once again. On his second trip out to visit us, he was supposed to pick our son up at school for the first time. Needless to say, my kid was thrilled. He was very excited to introduce his dad to all of his friends, kids who had only known him without a father. It was a big fucking deal. But he didn’t show up. I got a call at work from the leader at the YMCA after school program my son attended, informing of this, and how sad my son was. I left immediately to pick him up, and attempted to cheer him up, surely something must have happened to his dad that was totally beyond his control to prevent him from being there, though I had not heard a word from him. He showed up at our place a couple hours later, with barely an apology. He was down in Laguna Beach getting a new tattoo, and had just lost track of time. I could not believe that he was still the same self centered jerk he had always been, and that I had let him back in, and my son was hurt. I tried to stay calm, explained to him why none of this was at all cool, and then we moved on. I had hoped that would be the only time he would hurt or disappoint my son, but it wasn’t. Over the next year, shortly into each of our visits with him, my son began asking when he was going to leave, because he liked it much better when it was just us. He felt no love for his dad, there had been no opportunity for that to grow, though being the sensitive child that he is, he felt compassion for him, and would never hurt his feelings by letting him know how he felt himself. But it wasn’t long before everything changed again. The phone calls became less frequent, no visits were planned, and eventually he was just gone once again.

I was so angry with myself for letting this happen, for giving him a chance to be a father to our child again, for putting my son into a position where someone could hurt and disappoint him like that. As much as I felt I had done the right thing, saving him from a world that he would not have survived for very much longer, the sacrifice had been the well-being of my son. But my son was actually fine. He was happy that he was gone. He had had the chance to get to know him, to see him for who he was, and to make his own decisions about him. As it turned out, it was the best possible thing to happen, because in the end my son understood exactly why I had made the decisions that I had, and why we were better off without him there.

Years passed without a word, and the dad soon became a distant memory. When we moved back to NJ, I was a bit nervous about living so close to him again, I knew if he found out there would be a great chance of him re-surfacing. Sadly, I was right. His sister told him where we had moved, and encouraged him to try to reach out to us. He sent a letter directly to my son, who unfortunately was the one to check the mail that day.  He was shocked to receive the letter, and upset by the words that it held. The dad had basically said that he was a better person now, and my son “owed” it to him to give him another chance to be a part of his life. A box full of peculiar Christmas gifts showed up a few days later, but it was way too little and far too late. To say I flipped out was a monumental understatement. I sent an email to every member of his family who knew where we had moved, demanding to know who had told him, which is when his sister came forward. The rest of the family was furious at her, because they knew that I would NEVER give him the chance to hurt my son like that again, and that it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for me to just disappear. But it was only a few moments before I suddenly realized, this was no longer my decision to make.

I spoke to my son about it, to see how he felt and what he wanted to do. This was now his decision to make, it could be no other way. He was very upset that the dad thought he could just cruise back into his life once again, and that he had made it seem as though my son owed that to him. He thought about it for a couple of days, and decided that he didn’t want to have anything to do with him, he didn’t want him in his life in any way, and he didn’t not want him to contact him again. The dad was a person who had only caused him pain, fear, and disappointment, and he wasn’t going to suffer through that again. He owed him NOTHING. I watched my thirteen year old son become a man over those few days, as he made the toughest decision of his life. I marveled at his wisdom, as I watched him become stronger as he took control over standing up for himself.

I suggested that he respond in writing to the dad, but he felt that it wouldn’t matter what he wrote, he would only see it as a response which would be perceived as an open door to further communication. I contacted his aunt, and told her to call the dad, tell him my son’s wishes, and to just fix it, which she did. It’s been three years now since we’ve heard anything from him and our lives have gone on. We do talk about the dad occasionally, mostly so I can make sure that my son’s head is still in the right place with the decision he had to make, that he’s not silently hurting because of it. He laughs at me when I show this concern, and reminds me once again that it was the only decision that he could have made, that we’re both better off because of it, and that it was really the dad who had made the decision for us, many years earlier. My son only forced him to follow down the path he had already chosen a long time ago…

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop. Check it out!

Boys and Games and Guns… Oh My!

There’s a video game coming out this Friday called Skyrim, and apparently it is going to significantly alter life as I know it. I’ve been hearing about this game for months, though I didn’t really pay much attention to what was being said, until this week… A few days ago I was informed by my 37 year old boyfriend (yes, 37) that this game was coming out that he’s been waiting months (years?) for, he was so excited and was apologizing in advance for the ridiculous amount of time playing this game was going to consume, but he would still find time for me. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. And he’s getting the game when it comes out on Friday, but won’t play it until Monday, so we can spend the weekend together. Hmm…

Later that night, my son came out of his room, and said “Hey Mom, don’t forget, Skyrim is coming out this week, you need to pre-order it now!” I’m like, what’s Skyrim, and really? He looks at me like I’m a complete idiot, and says I’ve been telling you about it for months, and so has your BF, hello? And then the light goes on, they’ve both been talking about the same game?!! So now my son is telling me that I better not make any plans this weekend that involve him, because he is NOT going to leave his room, all he plans on doing is playing the new game. Now, I’m starting to recall hearing something about all of this previously, but as I don’t give a shit about video games, I didn’t retain any of it. But the frantic obsession that they BOTH were exhibiting suddenly began to freak me out. So I start thinking, okay cool, they both want to play, they can play together and have fun boy bonding time… and I can do other, actually productive things!  But no, I’ve just been informed it’s a one player game, fantasy shattered. Honestly, I do like playing some video games, Rock Band is fun, and I definitely spent more than a few hours playing Atari as a kid. But a whole weekend, or an entire week?? What is wrong with BOYS???

As far as my son is concerned, I think back to where the madness all started, when did I lose him to the Xbox? I blame my father for buying him his first one when he was 8. And I blame our old neighbors, the good Christian family who let their twin sons play Halo. I got totally blindsided by that one. My son and their boys were inseparable, and they had this game, this shooting game, which my son desperately wanted to play with them. I was totally anti-gun, and not cool with him playing anything violent, so for the longest time he would just watch them play. But he begged and begged, and these parents were smart, GOOD people, and their kids were such angels, maybe it wasn’t so bad? I mean, would they really let their kids play something that was that bad?

Maybe I had to loosen up a bit on all of my hippy-ish peace and love ideologies, so that my son wouldn’t be the only kid on the planet who couldn’t play this game, which is what he pointed out to me over and over again. Yeah, can you say spineless? I caved. And I was wrong. The game was that bad. The good, uber-religious parents most definitely did let their kids play a game that was THAT bad. My kid wanted to be an artist when he grew up, theirs wanted to be a cop and a Marine. I probably should have caught on earlier that we were raising our kids a little bit differently…  Ugh. It was the beginning of the end, and it was like a freight train I couldn’t stop.

I have said no to many games over the years since then, for what it’s worth. Though I’m relatively certain I hear him using a machine gun on some zombies right now. But you know what, at the end of the day, when he’s playing the games he’s here, he’s not out getting into trouble or doing anything stupid, he’s online playing with his friends, and yes, they’re shooting zombies. And the real truth is, I love the sound of him chatting and laughing with machine guns in the background, because that’s what our home sounds like when he’s here, and that makes me very happy.

As for my boyfriend, well… Have you seen that McRibb commercial where the couple is going on their honeymoon, and the wife says, “I married a 14 year old?” Yeah, umm, that could probably be us, in more ways than one. He made me eat a McRibb just the other day… (which I may or may not have loved).

This post can also be found on Lovelinks #31

Partying With the Vampires

In my post 22 Things I’ve Done. For Real. I mentioned going to the Hollywood Premiere of the movie Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight Saga. This was really a pretty fun story, so I wanted to elaborate on it further. Actually Mama Kat gave the prompt, so I’m just going with it…

Being an aspiring writer is what I do in the evenings and on the weekends, it’s where my heart is and what keeps me sane. But I have a pretty killer day job too, doing Interactive Marketing in the National Advertising department at Volvo Cars of North America. That happens to also be the company that moved me to paradise, and then made me move back to Jersey… Anyway, to get back on point, I have this super fun day job that allows me to work with things like the Twilight movies. We have a partnership with their production company because when Stephenie Meyer wrote the books that these movies are based on, she put the lead vampire, Edward, into a Volvo S60. This was actually thanks to her car buff brothers who she went to for advice on what cars all of her characters should drive, and Volvo personified Edward best in their minds.

Because of this partnership, we have created online gaming contests to go along with the launches of the last couple of Twilight movies, as well as the one that is about to come out, Breaking Dawn, Part 1. Attending the Hollywood Premiere of Eclipse was one of the prizes we gave away last year, and I was asked to host the winners on their black carpet adventure. Yes, black carpet, not red, guess it was a vampire thing…  We had full access to the carpet, and everything inside of the velvet ropes. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life. All of the lights and paparazzi, and celebrities EVERYWHERE, it was a flavor of chaos I had never known, and what you see on TV just does not do it justice. 

I had convinced my friend James from our Public Affairs department to co-host the winners with me, which made it significantly more fun than it would have been otherwise. James really didn’t get what all the hype was about with the vampire stuff, since he’s a guy and well past his teenage years, but he was such a good sport to endure the madness with me. We were amazed at the thousands upon thousands of Twi-hards, both young and old, there on the other side of the barracades, many who had been camped out for days, just hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite vampire or werewolf.

We stood there in the center of it all, looking around and really trying to take it all in. As it turned out, this was one of the biggest premiere events in Hollywood history, so there was really a lot to take in.Thankfully we had a terrific “handler” who made sure that our winner and her guest got photos with every celebrity they wanted to meet, which was a tremendous help, as I think it would have been too overwhelming otherwise. By the time we were to go into the theater to see the movie, James and I had both become a bit starstruck, I think it was impossible not to be. After he met a Laker (basketball?) that he LOVED, and I saw the great Kevin Smith, we were completely swept up in all of it.

The movie was shown in the largest theater I had ever been in, and sitting there watching it with all of the people who had made it, created an air of magic that was almost tangible, and not just what was unfolding before us on the movie screen.  When it was over, we were guided to an enormous tent outside of the theater, where the after party was being held. In the center of the tent there was a giant glowing moon, hanging above a mountain scene made of stone and waterfalls, straight out of the movie. The mountain was surrounded by buffets of all sorts, I mean everything you could possibly imagine, and there were full service bars set up everywhere. There were lounge areas with couches inside, and picnic tables and fire pits outside of the tent. One of the more interesting things that they had were large shallow boxes which held grass and purple flowers (just like the field in the movie), which were large enough for several people to lie in together, which created a terrific photo op for the party goers to take advantage of. We may or may not have had our turn in one of those flower field boxes…

As I mentioned, the fourth Twilight movie is about to be released, and we are deep in Vampire mode now in my office. The latest game is called Journey to the Wedding, and the prize this time is bigger and better than anything we’ve done before. We’re giving away the Volvo S60 Edward drives in Breaking Dawn, Part 1, as well as a trip to Rio, to stay in the house where Edward and Bella spend their Honeymoon. The games are fun, and the prize is ridiculously cool, so it is most definitely worth checking out, even if you are not a Twi-hard, here’s the link

So that’s my Eclipse Premiere story, and what I do for my day job, which I obviously can get pretty excited about, at least when we’ve got fun stuff like this going on! And don’t worry, I promise, I won’t try to sell you a Volvo. Well, unless you’re interested of course…

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop. Check it out!

Scary Movies

I absolutely love Halloween. I love every single magical thing about it. Of course, it’s not just that one day, but the entire month of October, and the whole build up to Halloween that is so wonderful. Once the leaves start changing, and Fall begins settling in, the excitement and desire for everything creepy hits our house hard. We LOVE horror movies, my son and I both just cannot get enough of them! Actually, it runs in the family, all of my siblings love them too, and for as long as I can remember, since we were little kids. As I recall, it was the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie that really connected all of us to the genre, it was the first scary movie that we all watched together, repeatedly, loving how it scared the crap out of us over and over again. 

When I was a kid, I was extremely drawn to everything scary. The first book I remember taking out of the grown up section of the library when I was 5 years old, was on the Loch Ness Monster. Then there were two series of books for young adults, based on all different aspects of the occult, the Dark Forces collection and Twilight series (not the Twilight Saga), which I simply could not get enough of. Once I exhausted those collections, I moved on to John Saul and Stephen King, and anything else I could find that was spooky. The attraction to the scary movies quickly followed the interest in the books, but they were harder to access at such a young age, my parents weren’t really cool with renting R rated movies for their kids, but they couldn’t care less what I was reading, they just thought it was great that I was reading 400 page grown-up books at the age of seven, the topics were irrelevant. As luck would have it, my best friend’s parents were significantly more lenient than mine with the movies, so I was able to satisfy my curiosity on that end as well. By the time A Nightmare on Elm Street had come out, I had already seen the entire back wall of horror films at our local video store. I never outgrew my love for everything Spooky…

When my son was young, maybe around 3, we somehow fell into watching the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer together. I loved it and would watch it regularly, he would only catch a moment of it here or there, but those few moments made him beg me to let him watch more of it. He was drawn to The Spooky just as I had been it seemed. I figured that Buffy wasn’t so bad, I mean the bad guys just went poof and turned to dust when they were killed, no blood, no guts, just dust, and real people very rarely died. And as I mentioned in Girl Monsters, I figured it wasn’t so bad for him to watch a show where a girl was the superhero. I know, maybe not the most responsible parenting, but I’m not interested in the debate over that, this is what worked for us. He couldn’t get enough of the scary stuff, so we discovered the Goosebumps books and videos very early on, and he was hooked. As he grew older, watching scary movies together was one of our favorite bonding activities, and at the holidays when the whole family is around, we all have a great time getting scared out of our minds together! 

As I dated guys throughout the years, my son had two primary test questions for them which he would base his decision on as to whether or not they were right for me. The first question was always if they liked horror movies. He couldn’t actually comprehend someone spending any time hanging out with us if they didn’t like horror films, and clearly I couldn’t get serious with anyone like that. If they got past the first question, the second was what kind of music they listened to, but that’s a blog post for another day… I have to say though, watching guys crash and burn by answering his questions in the wrong way was always a somewhat tragic thing, decisions were made before they even knew what was hitting them. 

The guy I am dating now (who is actually a lot more than just “the guy who I am dating now”) doesn’t love horror movies. But he watches them. He tries so hard to like them, it is really incredibly endearing. He gets excited with us about the new ones coming out, because he knows how much we love them, though I know he is secretly hoping that I won’t actually make him watch them in the theater, since they’re always scarier on the big screen. And even as I write this, it’s the Sunday before Halloween, and instead of watching football all day, we have the AMC Halloween marathon on, because he wants to make me happy (okay, with some flipping back and forth on commercials…) He doesn’t love The Spooky, but he TOTALLY passed the test. We’re up to Halloween 4 now, which just made him remind me of something pretty hilarious that my son had said to him a while ago.  He told him that if we were all in a horror movie together, he would be the one to die first, because he’s the boyfriend, and that my son and I might actually live, but the boyfriend always dies before the female lead and the kid. Yeah, and that didn’t scare him away, I think he’s definitely a keeper. 

As for my son and I, he is now 16, and there aren’t a whole lot of things that we still enjoy doing together, I mean, that he likes to do with me. But we do have our love of horror films, and the discussions and debates that come from them, the analysis that ensues after watching a new one, and the excitement we feel when we find out one of our favorite directors is working on a new one, these are priceless moments for me. I am extremely thankful for our love of The Spooky, for good horror films, and for the bond we have because of them. Hey, whatever works…

22 Things I Have Done. For Real.

1. Moved across the country from NJ to CA with my 6 yr old son, away from our entire support system, and everything familiar to us. My job relocated me and they paid for everything, to move to Southern CA. Hello? Paradise?!  My family thought I was nuts, but I thought it was kind of a no-brainer.

2. Drove across country, from CA to NJ, when I was relocated back 7 yrs later. We hiked through Bryce Canyon in Utah, camped in Yellowstone, checked out Mt Rushmore, did some gambling in Deadwood, and saw a whole lot of bikers in Sturgis, SD, met the Jolly Green Giant and then had a bite to eat at the Spam Museum in MN, and ate cheese in WI.

3. Met Paula Cole at an old church in NYC, where she was filming a music video for her song Be Somebody, which my son was featured in when he was modeling. 

                                                                  4. Spent a day wandering around the grounds of an old insane asylum (now condos) searching for an abandoned cemetery (which has since been found) outside of Salem, MA. 

5. Celebrated Midsummer in Sweden, at a cottage in the woods, with all of the local traditions. I ate the pickled fish, drank a whole lot of aquavit, and sang, a lot, in Swedish.

6. Drank Guinness in Dublin, had mead at Bunratty Castle, and kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland. 

7. Drove counterclockwise 3 times around the Devil’s Tower in Alpine, NJ, in the middle of the night. Nothing happened. I’ve also been to 10 or 11 other places featured in Weird NJ, and nothing strange happened in those places either. Well, except for once, but we don’t talk about that…

8. Drank excellent wine with great friends in Napa.

9. Went to the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, by far the most Halloween fun you can have on the East Coast.

10. Tried to contact the ghost of my great-grandmother on the Queen Mary, in Long Beach,CA. She was Julie-Cruise-Director on that ship for many years, so I figured if ever there was a place she would haunt, that would be it.

11. Attended the “college of my choice,” got kicked out, and then went back 5 years later.

12. Survived the Winter Music Conference in South Beach, Miami. Trust me, this was quite a feat.

13. Walked out of an abortion clinic in Atlantic City, NJ. I was in the gown, and next in line, listening to the girls around me talking about how many times they had visited Mr. Hoover, and all I could do was cry. I gave birth to my son, my angel and the love of my life, 7 months later.

14. Sold my first painting when I was 17.

15. Have played the piano, flute, drums, trumpet and glockenspiel. Seriously. It would have just been the piano if it was possible to play in junior high band, but it wasn’t. So I tried other things. I had commitment issues…

16. Went to the Hollywood premiere of the Twilight Saga – Eclipse. Walked the black carpet, met the stars and went to the after-party where I lay in a field of white and purple flowers. I am NOT a Twi-hard, I was just there hosting a couple of them…

17. Missed meeting Kevin Smith at the above premiere, because I was so excited to see him there, I started gushing to my co-host, who didn’t know who he was, so I had to start listing all of his awesome movies, and when I turned around again to approach him, he had already gotten his drink and walked away.

18. Went to ComicCon. Yep, for real.

19. Mingled with diplomats from all over the world, at an event I hosted at the Swedish Embassy in DC.

20. Have been a size 6 and a size 16. Working my way back to the lower end of the scale (literally) now…

21. Hung out at CBGBs and Limelight before they closed.

22. Spent a week on a sailboat, island hopping through the Grenadines in the Caribbean. I could have stayed there forever…

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop. Check it out!