Saturday, February 27, 2010

Famous Like Justin Bieber

When I was a kid all I wanted to do was become famous. I've blogged about this before

I called local drama camps and acting schools in hopes of becoming the next 1980s child star, the next Missy (Benson star pictured on left) or Tracey Gold (Growing Pains star pictured on right). It never happened. Not only was I slightly chubby, my parents didn't have the money or time it would have taken to help shoot me to stardom. 

We were lucky to live a mere 45 minute train ride to Manhattan, audition runs would have been ideal! My mom worked full-time during the week which didn't make sense to me until I matured into a teen and realized two salaries beat one. Thanks to Mom, my first four years of college didn't cost me a dime nor did my first four cars. Looking back it really worked out OK for me--this blog entry isn't about regret or blame. 

In fact, maybe Mom was both realistic and protective. I bet she didn't want to see me deal with the high level of rejection involved in show biz. We didn't have extra money laying around for head shots or a talent agent--that money was saved for sleep-away camp and private school tuition. My folks took us on awesome vacations, to the movies on weekends, dinners out, theme parks and planned kick-ass birthday parties for us at Hot Skates.

Back to Justin Bieber, my inspiration for composing this entry. If I were 12-years-old right now, I'd be really, really freakin' pissed. Apparently this kid from Canada rose to stardom as an Internet sensation. A gazillion people liked his YouTube performances which he says "were supposed to be just for family." Lucky for Justin Bieber he caught the eyes and ears of Usher.

Yeah, so like after seven months of viral videos Justin Bieber is huge today. Singing for President Obama, participating in the updated version of "We Are The World" and selling out gigs all over the place.

So why would a 12-year-old me be really pissed right now? Because damn it, we didn't have the Internet when I was a kid and if we did, I'd make videos of myself singing and dancing. I too might have been an overnight sensation! Yes indeed, I'd make fan pages for myself on Facebook and tweet and Twitpic until my fingers fell off. Nope, instead I was stuck in 1985 sending snail mail to Sean and Mackenzie Astin's mom Patty Duke, asking for advice on being a star like her and her sons.

On any given summer day, you'd find me prancing around our front lawn in my dance recital costumes singing songs from Annie. Our main street--so main it was an exit off of the Southern State Parkway on Long Island--was my audience!  If we had Flip cameras instead of the Kodak Disc, my BFF Dawn could have made videos of my antics. Damn you Justin Bieber, that coulda been me up there on stage with billions and billions of fans. So enjoy every minute of your Internet-found fame, kid and know there's a  jealous former child star wannabe living in Jersey who wouldn't mind a mere fraction of the success you've scored.

Music, You're Still My BFF Part II

Yesterday I started a blog post detailing the music I've listened to and loved from birth until today.

I left off here:

1989-1991: Same as above, but now including: The Pixies (of course), EMF, Jane's Addiction, Ned's Atomic Dustbin (loved these guys!) Elvis Costello, Jesus and Mary Chain, Lightening Seeds, The Ocean Blue (these guys from PA are heavenly! At 16, I begged a LI bar/club-007 for entry to their 21 and over show. Even with my dad as an escort, they said no. I cried. If I was a sitcom character, I would have gotten fake ID), Front 242, Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Lush, The Sugarcubes, Charlatans UK, Stone Roses, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Nitzer Ebb and the list goes on and on and I still love these groups today!   

1992-1994: Same as above, but now including some bands I forgot to add above such as: Beastie Boys, The Jam, The Sundays, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains, Primus, Beck, Dinosaur Jr., Breeders, Helmet, Smashing Pumpkins, Teenage Fanclub, Porno for Pyros, The Specials, Fugazi, Blur - can't believe I forgot my most beloved band ever! 

Around this time I was really into techno and raving. I never really collected much of that music though and I only listened to it at the clubs or when we visited our friend Joey's garage. He'd spin records for us while we smoked and hung out.  
1995-1996: Same as above, but now include Weezer, Superchunk, Oasis, Chemical Brothers, Hum, Hole and so many I'm sure I'm forgetting.

1997-1998  Same as above, but now include Quicksand, Bush, Cranberries, The Crystal Method, Filter, Fatboy Slim, The Who (random right?) Chemical Brothers, Ben Folds Five, Beth Orton, Moby and so many I'm sure I'm forgetting.

1999-2000: Ah, 2000, the year I finally got my own place! OK, same as above, but now include: Pulp, Ash, Supergrass, The Faint, Dandy Warhols, Thursday, Jimmy Eat World, The Anniversary, Graham Coxon, Ian Brown and so many I'm sure I'm forgetting.

2001-2002: I met my husband around this time so some of these bands were his influence... Still loved all of the bands you see above now add on: The Strokes, Go Sailor, Dressy Bessy, The Muffs, Ben Lee, Idlewild, Sparta, Saves The Day, Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Sunny Day Real Estate, Elliott Smith, Hey Mercedes, Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab For Cutie, The Dismemberment Plan and so many I'm sure I'm forgetting. 
2003-2004:  Same as above, but now include The Shins and I can't think of any others :(

2005 - 2010: Same as above, but now include Peter Bjorn & John, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, The Weepies and I can't think of anymore.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Music, You're Still My BFF Part I

The other day, I stumbled upon this sarcastic bastard's blog called I Hate All Your Favorite Bands. I couldn't help but burst out laughing. Why? Because I too hate not only your favorite bands, but most of your favorite everything. From movies, music, food to fashion. I hate most everything. 

Yes, I hate what everyone in the world loves as you may have figured out by reading my blogs. All sports, including the Olympics bore me, not a fan of most "cool" foods such as Thai, Indian, sushi, seafood, the list goes on. I hate Uggs, Crocs, Coach bags and basically all overpriced fashions except for Fred Perry and Ben Sherman - those items are cool because my fave bands back in the day said it so.

Anyway, you name it, I most likely detest it. As for music, I loathe soooo many performers which surely include all your faves from Lady Gaga to Pink to Taylor Swift to John Mayer to DMB to Jovi. This however goes hand-in-hand. In other words, you most likely hate or better yet, have never heard of some of my favorite bands like Built to Spill, Elliott Smith, Rival Schools, Go Sailor and Dressy Bessy and more.   

But don't feel bad, I even despise bands which I should actually love because they crossover into my genre of bands. Like I struggle with the fact that I can't stand Dropkick Murphys and Social Distortion. I think The Ramones, The Police and U2 are totally overrated and I know they are like gods to the kids I hung out with at alternative music clubs and shows. 

Anyway, I've decide to compile a list of my music throughout my years.

1972-1975: Mom and Dad's records included played The Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bread, Yes, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens and many more

1976: I adored The Beach Boys and for some reason thought my father was a member, yet also thought my Dad was secretly The Fonz.  I think I mentioned that here.

1977-1978: Disco inferno! Dad loved the Saturday Night Fever album. My older relatives all have this same memory of my little brother (sadly, he turned to metal in his later years) standing on the table dancing to a Taste of Honey's "Boogie Oogie Oogie" -- I swear if he played that for his toddler today, no doubt he'd "get down and boogie, oogie, oogie" as well.  My aunt influenced my musical tastes a lot that year. Bay City Rollers, Elton John, David Soul and lots of disco! More about that here.

1979-1980:  Early Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Eagles, Billy Joel, Earth Wind & Fire and Dad loved Jimmy Buffett. 

1980-1982: Pat Benetar, Olivia Netwon-John, Christopher Cross, Michael Jackson, Rick Springfield, Hall & Oates, Sheena Easton, Kool & The Gang, Air Supply, REO Speedwagon, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton (I loved the song "9 to 5"), Soft Cell, John Cougar, Human League, Motels, Jackson Browne, Men At Work, Go-Go's, Journey and Police- though I don't like them or Sting as an adult.

1983-1984:  Same as above, but now including: Culture Club, Duran Duran, Prince, Musical Youth, Bryan Adams, Van Halen (can't believe I loved these guys and still like this album!), Stray Cats, The Kinks, Howard Jones and sooo many more ... loved Madonna until 1986.

1985-1986: Same as above, but now including: THE MONKEES were my life at around this time (see more posts here), Beatles, Wham! (will always love 'em!), Tears For Fears (still awesome!), Chaka Kahn, Huey Lewis & The News, New Edition, Bruce Springsteen (so not a fan today), Pointer Sisters, Simple Minds and so much more!
1987-1988: Goodbye Madonna, hello Depeche Mode! By high school, my taste began to take shape as to what I like today. Don't get me wrong! To this day, I'm not opposed to listening to any of the above unless otherwise indicated. During my teens and college years, however, I would have never given them a fighting chance.  

Though still hanging on to my Monkees childhood dreams in early '87, I was soon all about WLIR -- Long Island's world famous new wave radio station, also known as WDRE depending on the year ... I loved The Smiths and Morrissey, New Order, OMD, Violent Femmes, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Cure, REM, Erasure, Yaz, XTC, APB, The Alarm, Big Audio Dynamite, PiL, Squeeze, Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedys (for some reason, I now hate the last three bands today).

1989 - 1991: Same as above, but now including: The Pixies (of course), EMF, Jane's Addiction, Ned's Atomic Dustbin (loved these guys!) Elvis Costello, Jesus and Mary Chain, Lightening Seeds, The Ocean Blue (these guys from PA are heavenly! At 16, I begged a LI bar/club-007 for entry to their 21 and over show. Even with my dad as an escort, they said no. I cried. If I was a sitcom character, I would have gotten fake ID), Front 242, Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Lush, The Sugarcubes, Charlatans UK, Stone Roses, Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Nitzer Ebb and the list goes on and on and I still love these groups today!

OK, kids, I'm stopping here and will pick up tomorrow. I think I forgot how old I am, this is taking way too much time.

PS Don't forget to check out my other fave guy bloggers: 
Daily Dose of Reality   
Not Worth Mentioning 
The Non-Review
Totally not like my blogs, but in a better way.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

RIP Andrew Koenig

The '80s generation lost someone very special today, Andrew Koenig. 

With his funny head bobs, mannerisms and goofiness, Andrew nailed the role of Richard "Boner" Stabone, best buddy to Mike Seaver (Kirk Cameron) on Growing Pains.  He practically created this character with his signature swagger and off-the-wall commentary. His fake, heavy New York accent made him the most believable actor on a show that was supposedly set in Suffolk County, Long Island -- 15 Robin Hood Lane, Huntington, NY if you want to get that specific.

As stated in previous posts, I was a diehard Kirk Cameron / Growing Pains fan growing up. Although I never actually sent fan mail to Andrew, I thought he was a cool kid back in the day. Andrew wasn't abusing drugs. He didn't appear to be an alcoholic. Nope, he died of something that kills people every day, depression. Emotions and sadness killed a guy much too young to leave this planet. It's tragic that an innocent man who protested for peace and environmental issues had to quit life so soon.

In addition to portraying the role of Mike Seaver's wingman on Growing Pains, Andrew appeared in other 1980s classic TV shows we knew and loved including:  My Sister Sam21 Jump Street and My Two Dads.

My heart goes out to his family. I ask all of my readers to keep Andrew's family in your thoughts.

You will be missed, Andrew Koenig.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

10 Things We Didn't Have When I Was 10

The other day a friend and I were discussing how he and his wife still don't have a GPS. He joked that his wife has excellent navigation skills and can find her way out of city she's never been to just by whipping out her Atlas.

I began thinking about the many "modern" things I can't imagine living without, then quickly realized the obvious -- without them you didn't have the ability to miss them. 

We don't have a dishwasher in our apartment and can't do anything to change that other than move. My aunt says that plates and flatware aren't sanitized by just washing them in the sink with soap and hot water. Well, there was a time when dishwashers didn't exist and people didn't die from eating off of hand-washed plates. Right?

I created a list of ten modern conveniences that make life much easier. None of these items were available back in 1982.

1. Cell Phone -  I know this is a mixed bag for some. Some love it, some hate it.

2. Wikipedia - I'm on this site daily!

3. Social Networking - As you can see, I live for it! As a kid I had 100s of pen pals all over the world. Imagine the money I would have saved on stamps!

4. GPS - See above, I suck when it comes to directions and maps!

5. Flatscreen TV and Remotes  - Remember those bulky space-sucking TVs, they were like huge pieces of furniture and how about those clunky "channel changer" boxes with buttons and  long cord?

6. DVR - Before DVR, it was VCR! As a youngster, I had to tape my favorite shows like Kids Incorporated, etc.

7. Bagless vacuum - Saves money on bags and better for the environment! I remember mom running out of bags for the vacuum and trying to find the correct one for her Hoover.

8. Cup Holders in Cars - As a kid, we didn't have these!

 9. Netflix and On-demand Movies - no more late fees, no more empty video store shelves on weekends! It's midnight on a snowy evening, let's order an instant movie off Netflix!

10. Keurig - Making one cup of coffee in seconds would have really been  helpful for my on-the-go parents!

What didn't exist when you were a kid?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2,000 Friends In Five Years

The other day my husband and I were taking a drive and Nirvana came on Pandora. [Side note: I recently discovered that the iPod cable also connects my BlackBerry to the auxiliary feature of my car stereo. In other words, I can tap into internet music via my phone while we drive. Yes, I'm sure you already knew this, but I'm less technical than most.]

Whenever I hear a Nirvana song off of their album Nevermind, I can't help but feel as if something has grabbed hold of my mind and spirit almost throwing me into the exact same scenario every time. The scene is as follows:

I'm sitting in my old maroon 1979 Mercedes Benz 300D. There are three kids in the back and trusty Scotty Tay, my permanent Wingman, in the passenger seat next to me. Nirvana is blasting on my crap-ass tape deck and everyone's smoking and probably drinking Bud cans (not me, don't worry, we've gone over this, I was never into drinking and driving). The backdrop is always  the same with this Nirvana crowd -- a random dark, vacant parking lot in Hewlett or Cedarhurst, somewhere within the Five Towns of Long Island.

For those unfamiliar with Long Island, The Five Towns consist of five small towns neighboring each other along the boarder of Queens and LI's South Shore. Most people from the area will tell you that those living in the one of these 'hoods are typically affluent and most likely of Jewish decent. You can find some of the best Jewish delis, Kosher pizza places and bagel delis within The Five Towns. Back in the late 1980s, Cedarhurst had great shopping for preppy kids with fat wallets or parents who made bank ... you name it from Benetton to Banana Republic, it was like this mini shopping mecca for the snobby kids.
Back in 1991, I met up with some cool kids one night at our Mineola hangout, The Angle. This was mentioned in a previous blog, a teen club that played awesome music back in the day. Most of LI's clubs stuck with horrible disco and had names like JAMZ and catered to the guido crowd. 

I recall several cute guys, Mason and Ed needed "a light" and from there a friendship blossomed. Hard to remember a time when you could smoke inside - not that I miss it, just saying. We hit it off instantly as friends. It turned out Ed was from the Gibson area, not too far from where I lived. I didn't really know many cool kids from the South Shore Western Nassau area and was super excited to finally hook up with some cool local blood. "Cool" meaning into the same music and style. It was like an entire subculture that' difficult to explain.

It also turned out that Ed and I attended the same college so I quickly introduced him to everyone I knew and vice-versa. This was basically what I was explaining to my husband. How back in my youth, it was almost as if we all "dated people." When I say "dated people" I mean groups of different people, girls, guys everyone. I say "dating" because you went through them quickly.

For example, one month I'd be hanging with a group of kids from Huntington. Next month, we met up with a group of kids from Northport. Next month, we're tight with Commack kids. Next month, we're all about Hicksville kids. For several months Babylon becomes our second home. Another year we're all about Rockville Centre kids. Then it was the Garden City peeps and who could forget the Levittown and Wantagh dudes? Hold up, just met a crew of people from Long Beach and Oceanside. Anyone remember Jen and Tarah's buds from Franklin Square? 

Like, I think within a span of five years I managed to meet up with over 2,000 different ravers, industrial music fans, mods, grunge people, new wavers and ska types, yet their names and faces are a blur to me today. I asked my hubs if he had this same experience growing up and he agreed. He said it was just a big part of our youth and going out and being around. It seems so weird to me now -- all of these faceless, some nameless kids have crossed paths with me. I've gone to their parent's homes. They've partied in our pool. I've driven around in their backseats. Some I've made out with. Some maybe more. 

Tom M., Andy, Adam from Kings Park, Jason, Eileen, Doug, Bonnie & Pete, the Jersey guys from Hofstra, Rina & Corey, Bill, Randy, Joey, John, those guys from Stony Brook, the Arties, Brad - the rich kid from Westbury (he was in a band called Wheelchair) who dated Laura from Franklin Square - I hung out in his family's basement. There was a recording studio and disco ball down there! Laura? Annmarie who dated Kevin  -- she decided she hated me after a month. 

Where did everyone go? I don't really care. The point is, youth is such a funny thing. Did this happen to you? Did you meet up with dozens of friends that came and went throughout the years. It seems so odd to me now.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Ghosts At Regina's House

Picking up where I left off the other day...

Finally the police activity came to an end and we were cleared to enter Regina's beautiful mansion. Kevin left and several of us girls stayed behind to crash or sober up at Regina's. 

Upon entering her lavish home, I tried my best to take it all in without looking like the poor slob that I was/am, though it felt darn near impossible.You know that feeling when you're younger and you enter the home of a much wealthier friend? My eyes hit upon certain furnishings, artwork and lighting appearing much fancier and elegant than the items in my folk's house.

The one room that truly struck me was this colossal ballroom. I peeked through the antique-looking French Doors that led to the room. It was dark, quiet, tranquil and strangely eerie. The room was spacious, yet felt rather vacant. The only items I recall seeing were two small childlike rocking chairs holding collectible dolls on the floor in the corner. 

Regina helped fix us some beverages and we settled in for the night. We followed her up the never-ending staircase to her bedroom, which surprisingly didn't look all that fancy. In fact it was so ordinary that I can't recall a single thing that stood out other than the alarm clock. More about that later.

We removed our shoes and pulled our hair into Scrunchies (hair bands), preparing to recap the evening's events before passing out. Someone must have gotten onto the topic of how awesome Regina's house was because she soon gave us a mini-tour. Within minutes she went into a series of freakish ghostly occurrences she had experienced living there. My heart began to race and my senses went into full-swing as she started with a small bedroom down the hall. 

She told us stories of hearing child-like voices and babies crying. She talked about a time when she was small and lost her footing while going down the same staircase we took to reach her bedroom. Regina's eyes grew wider. Her voice and hands trembled ever so slightly as she recounted the event. She described a force, a mysterious force so strong it halted her fall allowing her to regain her footing before landing at the bottom of that stairwell. We gasped in disbelief. She firmly believed that if not for this ghostly force, she would have been badly injured or maybe even dead.

As soon as she finished with that story, she went on to tell us other spooky tales even more shocking than the next. The ballroom I admired is where they often celebrated New Year's Eve with the family. One year, after an evening of partying, they were too tired to clean up before heading off to bed. They left a mess of glasses and items out and didn't think anything of it. Regina told us that the next morning they awoke to fix breakfast and were shocked to find a perfect pyramid of champagne glasses. The sight frightened her family. Everyone was stunned and denied having anything to do with it. The mood over their New Year's breakfast was chilling as everyone thought about the odd entity that messed with their mess. I know you probably don't believe it, but I do.  I gotta tell ya, I felt some serious weirdness while I was in that house.

We finally curled up in blankets on the floor of her room and dozed off. At about 4 or 5 am, we awoke to a loud bang. Her alarm clock flew across the room waking us out of a sound sleep.  OK, time to go. Screams from us girls followed of course and I hurried into my Airwalks and hauled-ass the hell outa there. I don't think I've ever moved so fast in my life. I was just like, "Later guys! I've had enough."

I'd had enough of the night from hell that began with Farmingdale cops crashing our party in the woods and ended with a ghost throwing an alarm clock off a nightstand. I never did return to her house other than to drop her off from school once.  

*Photos are for illustration purposes only and are not of above mentioned house or ghost.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cop Encounters Part II

As promised, here's the second big Long Island cop incident I encountered during my youth.

Although I grew up in Western Nassau County, I met an abundance of kids from Western Suffolk County while attending community college. Basically that means the majority of my friends lived at least thirty minutes away. No big deal. I really liked it out there. I figured maybe I'd even move out that way some day. We all know that didn't happen. I left Western Nassau in 2000 and moved to Manhattan until 2003 and have been stuck in New Jersey since. I blame my husband for that one!

As noted in my last entry, we were broke. No newsflash there, the average college kid is broke. Most likely that's why credit card companies bombard students on their very first day giving them $500 worth of free money in credit. All you need is a Social Security number and a pulse. In fact, those credit card offers are the reason I'm in debt today, just for the damn college branded water bottle and t-shirt premium. Sure they start out with $500 then in a year you're platinum and VIP and have a $30,000 limit and still in school.

When not hittin' a club, rave or concert, we would find places in the woods to hang out, smoke, drink, listen to tunes and basically just exchange ideas, thoughts and dreams - ya know, shoot the shit. One of our hot spots was this incredibly steep hill in Farmingdale. It was very close to the SUNY Farmingdale campus. None of us attended the college, several of my friends lived in the town. I swear this hill was insane for Long Island which is relatively flat compared to parts of Jersey. My silly husband would probably consider this thing the K-12 and bust out his 1990 skis during a snowstorm if he saw this thing.

There was flat land atop the immense hill and for some reason the local kids called it "The City of Glass" -- to this day I'm not sure why. I attempted to research it and it could have been an old nursery at one point. I think someone said there was a lot of sand at the top and sand makes glass. Not important. Somehow the guys pushed a keg up there. They brought lighter fluid and we brought snacks and blankets to sit on. 

We kids loved hanging out outdoors at night. Woods, beaches, quiet abandoned spots where we'd party into the wee hours of the night and just because I hated the taste of alcohol, my reward was driving everyone home safely. That part sucked because it tacked on a good hour to my ride home. Try explaining that to your angry dad who is loading his scuba equipment in his car at 6 am heading out for a Sunday dive meet asking, "What club is open until 5 am on Long Island? Where do you go at night?" Yup, good times.

About two hours into our City of Glass festivities that night, the party was brought to an impromptu halt thanks to the Farmingdale police. We could see the cop cars pull up at the bottom of the hill - a good 50 feet from us. In unison you heard everyone exclaim, "Ohhhhh shitttt 5-0!!" That was kid lingo for "the cops." At that point some of us scattered and ran or hid in woodsy patches.

There was no way those cops were going to climb that hill. Instead they climbed up a few feet and called up to us with their megaphones. We were to put out our fire immediately and roll the keg down. Now my memory is a bit hazy but I believe they confiscated the beer and the friend that purchased it cursed about losing his deposit from the deli who sold it to him. 

The best part about this night was the fun didn't end there. Too early for us to go home, we somehow ended up at our friend Regina's house. Her folks were away and she said we were welcome to crash at her house and what a house it was.

Regina and her parents lived in a town called Garden City. It was very upscale and filled with "old money" -- stately homes on lovely manicured lawns belonging to surgeons and lawyers. Her father was a big-time lawyer and she told me she was related to a famous Mozzarella cheese company that started out in the area. I believe it because I've never met another kid with her last name and about 85% of my classmates growing up were Italian, like me. Regina was very dramatic. She wanted to be an actress and there was something slightly magical about her. I was anxious and overwhelmed with curiosity at the thought of stepping foot into her grandiose historical-looking home.

We pulled in front of her manor and followed her toward the back door. She was slightly tipsy but the sight we were met with was surely a buzz kill. The glass door was broken and shards of glass were at our feet. In full drama queen mode, she bellowed "There's a burglar inside, we need to call the police! Someone broke into my house."

Our friend Kevin, who happened to also be from Garden City, knew the town well. He quickly jumped into his car and got his ass to a pay phone as fast as his Pumas would take him. Remember pay phones? Within a few minutes the entire Garden City police department had the home surrounded. There are cops on the roof, cops on the lawn, cops behind trees. Other than those riots you see on TV, I don't think I've ever seen so many cops in one place before than that night.  They told us to get back into our car until they were sure it was safe.

Poor, frail Regina was sobbing and we did our best to calm her down. A cop stood guard near our car so he could communicate with Regina and the cops inside her home. We heard over the walkie-talkie. "Yeah, ah, we found a man with a bloody hand. He is passed out on a bed in an upstairs bedroom. He claims he lives here and that the young ladies' older brother," says the cop. "Uh, duh? Hello, Regina? Are you serious?" is what I wanted to say to her as the cop inquired about the validity of their findings. I don't think I even knew she had a brother.

She gasped, my brother? He must have forgotten is keys.

There's more. It turns out her house is haunted. I'll tell you more about that tomorrow. 

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Busted Without Even Being Bad!

Lone beer-less blond with friends in my silly rave days

Last night, I was joking with a friend about the cops and how I've only had two freaky run-ins with them as a kid. Months ago, I blogged about how I was a very good girl throughout the first 18 years of my life. Sure, I went through a bit of a rough patch in college, but we won't talk about that since my folks think I was perfect. 

Anyway, ironically - I was good but my college friends, well, they were typical kids... Here are my two big confessions that to the average kid would be viewed as nothing, a joke, who cares, but to a good girl, I was kinda scared at the time.

"Everybody out of the car, NOW! Hands up! On the car, spread 'em!" I never thought I'd ever hear those words in "real life" -- that was basically something you heard in the movies or watching an episode of Cops on a Sunday night. 
Between 1991-1993 I was way too into the Long Island club and rave scene. Not the disco type Jersey Shore clubs you see on MTV, but  "cool clubs".  Every Friday or Saturday night, we'd check out joints with names like The Angle/Hotel Leningrad (one night DJs spun new wave, another they played industrial music) or Caffeine/Voodoo (same club but one night they played Gothic music and called it Voodoo and another night they played techno/raver music and called it Caffeine). Silly, I know, but what else do you do in suburbia when you don't have money for a big night in NYC?  A round trip train pass on the LIRR, subway or cab, $12 entry into the club and $8 per 16 oz bottle of Poland Spring - NYC never served tap water! We were there to dance, not drink fancy drinks or imported beers -- they totally tried to cash in on that.  
One night, totally minding our own business, we were killing time in my brand new Mazda Protege. Kids in the back seat were drinking cans of beer. I remember telling them that open canisters in my car meant I could get arrested even though we were parked. I know, big time nerd. Can't believe I even had friends. Funny because I'd tell my husband the same thing if he did that to me today. They hushed me up and quickly finished their beers. I think that night, my gal pals backed out so I was stuck with all of our guy friends, Pat, Rob, Scott and maybe Mike D. I forget. 

Out of nowhere, the cops tear-ass (as my brother would say) into the parking lot. Someone managed to stuff the remaining beer cans under my seat in record time without the cop noticing. No lie, I think these cops had guns aimed at us. They didn't bother to frisk us. They didn't tell us what we were in trouble for. They just insisted we spread 'em and put our hands on the car. It was all so fast. They quickly searched the car, but not like "searched, searched" -- it was more like they were looking for something large. Something that wouldn't be hidden under a seat or in a glove compartment. 

They apologized and rushed off saying my car matched the description of someone who had just stolen a TV?! What the hell?  All of that insanity. All of that craziness. For what? How would four kids in a semi-compact car fit alongside a TV? Maybe it was a scam? Maybe they did this to kids who sat in empty Deer Park parking lots trying to kill time in an effort to appear fashionably late to a club? We will never know. But my heart raced for a good hour that night. Images of my mug shot plastered in Newsday and my disappointed teacher-parents coming to pick me up all the way in Suffolk County because there was beer in my car. Ouch. I was so glad the cops didn't give us a hard time.

I will fill you in tomorrow about my second run-in. It's equally lame but somewhat entertaining.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Big Old House on Corona Avenue

My grandparent's house seems really old to me. I bet it's not though. It's probably from 1930, but something about it seems older. It's bigger inside than it appears to be on the outside. It's a sturdy white colonial type house with a front porch that looks out onto a busy street that was once not so busy. The house has four floors. OK, well one floor is a basement and another floor is actually an attic - but an attic that was a bedroom at one point.

One of many holiday parties in the old house - kitchen in the basement.
My great aunt, standing behind me, turned 90 the other day.

I'm not sure who slept up in that weirdly-shaped room with the very low ceiling-other than my Uncle T because when I was a little girl, he still kept his things up there. I loved looking through the old text books and groovy '70s trinkets. I loved the sound this hollow old drum made when I tapped it, though I don't know which one of my uncles actually owned it.

When I was really little, I thought the house was haunted. It would creek and feel spooky. I bet one of my uncles told me a scary story or two. They were in their teens and early 20s when I was a kid. I was the first grandchild and niece so I was kind of a big deal. 

Over the years, the house has obviously changed in many ways. It even changed when my mom was a kid. She'd tell me, this room used to look this way and that room looked that way.  The room that Aunt C slept in was actually once a screened-in porch. Where Grandma sleeps now was once a dining room with a piano. Her closet was once a food pantry. I remember tapping the keys on the old piano. My aunt could play real songs. I would beg her to play the same tunes over and over again.

My grandparents raised five kids, lots of grandchildren and a variety of mutts in that house. Many of the dogs had names that started with "P".  I'm not sure what that was about. One dog in particular, Pudgy, nipped and jumped on a five-year-old me to the point where I actually remember climbing atop a kitchen chair screaming and pleading for my life -- that may be why I detest most dogs to this day.

I know you all must be so sick of hearing about my grandparents. I blog about them constantly. I honestly spent a good portion of my childhood with them - we all did. So much in fact, that I think I dream about their house about once a week.

The dreams are weird. One dream will involve endless steps that begin in their living room and lead into a white, cloudy heaven. Another dream has an endless lawn with hills and trees, the front lawn in reality is fairly simple and not nearly as large as the one in my dream. Sometimes the house is quiet and dark and nobody is home and I'm searching for everyone. Then there's the dream I've had many times where the walk from Grandma's house is either really, really close or really, really far from the house I grew up in.

Grandma and Grandpa lived 439 houses away if you compared our addresses. We lived on the same street but in different parts of town.  We lived in their house for one year while getting established in the area. We moved out of their home when I was in first grade to our home when I was to enter second grade. That small distance was enough for the school district to kick me out (this was before my Catholic school years).  

The big old house on Corona was the end-all-be-all party compound. It was where we celebrated nearly every birthday and holiday. We'd fill the house with booming voices - my uncles competing to be heard over Grandpa's loud stern voice -- even when he said he loved you it sounded like he was scolding you, it was just his way. 

Grandma prepared more Italian eats than your favorite restaurant in Little Italy. Everything we ate had funny names I couldn't pronounce, but loved to eat. Platters filled with "bro-jute" and "bra-jole" and we'd always start off with "anty-paahst" ... good luck trying to decipher my phonetics!

Their house is much closer to my Catholic grammar school and high school than our house, so I'd often walk to Grandma's and wait for my parents to pick me up. When my brother and I were too young to walk home from grammar school, my grandma picked us up and we'd enjoy tea and toast while watching our favorite after school shows.
My aunt was only ten years older than me, she was like the cool older sister/babysitter when I was 6. She would play her Elton John and Bay City Rollers 45s for me on this big old record player that looked more like a piece of furniture than a record player. I remember I knew all of the words and I loved how the singers would spell out and chant, "S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night".  I loved that song because I loved Saturday.  

What a different meaning Saturday had in my mind than Saturday Night had to the teenagers who loved the song. For me, S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y meant no school! It meant acting all grown up and fixing myself my own bowl of Rice Krispies and watching early morning cartoons while my folks slept in until 9.
My aunt would stack like ten 45s on the record player and walk away to do her homework while I'd sit there, memorized by the music. My feet would dangle from the couch. I can't believe I was ever that little. I remember the way my bare legs would stick to the old plastic slip covers in the summer or the sound my corduroys made against those same plastic slip covers in the winter. 

I could honestly write an entire book just on the memories of Grandma & Grandpa's big old house on Corona.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Olympics Bore Me

Today a friend posted on Facebook that she can't stand the Olympics. As expected, everyone gave her a hard time and disagreed. They all proclaimed their undying affection and love for the games. I'm totally confident that my readers will say they too love watching the skating or skiing or something like that.

The Olympics is just another one of those things that makes me an alien to society. I don't like anything the average American likes. Like the show LOST. Everyone loves it. Me? Boring! Gilligan's Island was way better! Everyone loves Lady Gaga - hello, she is sooooo lame. America loves Uggs, not me. I don't care about movies like The Hangover or Superbad.

Yeah, so I gotta tell ya, since like the late '80s, I've had zero interest in watching America attempt to beat these other countries. Zilch, zero, non, nada. Who cares? The yelling from the announcers. The dumb judges. The repetitive commercials like the one with that Trainspotting song - dude, so like15 years ago... The intense media blitz. It's all a total snooze-fest to me... It may be that because I'm just not interested in sports at all, these big sporting events are painful to me. I don't give a crap about The Superbowl (just an excuse for me to eat wings) or The World Series. NASCAR is totally retarded. Yes, I am among a rare minority. I get that this is part of the All-American lifestyle -- spectator sports.

Every four years, I dread the Olympics. It seems like it's on 24-7 for a gazillion weeks. My husband keeps the channel locked and fixates on the skiers, snowboarders and those dudes that lay on their backs and go down that insane alpine slide thingie. I know what it's called but refuse to say it. The word reminds me of the word "loogie". Loogie has to be the grossest word ever. My little brother loved saying it when he was a kid. "Ally, I just hacked up a looooogie!"

There was one time in my life when I actually loved these games. Just one time. It was the summer Olympics, 1984 and Mitch Gaylord was this amazingly hot gymnast. Sure, I was only 12, but wowzas was he yummy! I loved watching him jump on those bars and do those flips. He was so awesome at it. I couldn't believe the way he always landed perfectly. His body straight with his arms out-stretched. I hated how in grammar gym class they'd make us run and jump on that horse bench thing. I could never do it. I was too chubby to lift my 80-pound-body up with just my wrists.

Anyway, I thought about him the other day. My uncle made us all watch the opening ceremonies. Something I haven't sat through in about 20 years. I joked with my cousin that I was a big Mitch Gaylord fan. I told him that I knew with a name like Gaylord, he couldn't actually be gay. We looked him up on Wikipedia to see what he's been up to and if there was any mention of him having a partner. Turns out, he's on his second marriage and has kids. Not that it would matter if he was gay - I just think it would have been kinda too obvious... a gymnastics guy having last name of Gaylord being gay. Too cliche, ya know?

Maybe I should write Mitch a letter or email letting him know he was the only aspect about the Olympics that I have ever cared about. Wonder if that would be insulting or flattering? Hmmf.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Memories

I'm finally back from Florida. Of course while I was gone, many of you presented me with awards, I feel like I don't even know which ones I've received! It's been hard to keep up with everything having no internet access for nearly three weeks. I've missed all of you guys! Not being able to blog was killing me. Ha ha!

Today is/was Valentines Day as I'm sure you've figured out by now. My husband always gets me a cute card and beautiful bouquet, though I always tell him that our local A&P does a great job for a fraction of the price (I'm sure my buddy over at Rainy Day Saver would agree!). I don't need a vase with my flowers -- I have so many from previous V'days. I try to keep it easy - I also prefer cheaper flowers such as daisies and carnations -- they tend to last longer than roses.  But I won't complain! I'm happy to get anything really.

Throughout the years, I've had several different Valentines ranging from my loving father to my boyfriends to male friends to my hubby. I have so many Valentine memories. Here are a few of my favorites.

My father, my first Valentine, gave me a single red rose at age 5. I remember he brought my mom a gorgeous bunch of roses wrapped in a long  box. I thought it was the most amazing thing. I loved the way they were wrapped with pretty, shimmery red paper and a huge bow. I think I even complained that I wanted what Mommy had. Over the years, Dad has made sure to send me flowers or a card with a few bucks tucked inside.
In the '80s, my mom, being a fourth grade teacher, had us decorate a cardboard box which she would wrap in pink paper. When finished, she'd cut a perfect slot into the top. My little brother and I would have two whole weeks to craft lots and lots of Valentine's for each other, Mom and Dad. We went through dozens of doilies, tubes of glue, tons of sparkles, rolls of ribbon and pages of red and pink construction paper. It was almost like a competition to see who could make the most cards. 

On Valentine's Day, Mom would make us a special dinner and a pretty heart-shaped cake or cupcakes. When we got older, she treated us to a breakfast of pink bagels from the local bagel shop. They were much like the  green bagels for St. Patrick's Day -- they didn't taste pink, but they were so pretty! After dinner, my mom would carefully open the decorated box and either my brother or I would hand out cards of all shapes and sizes to our small family of four. I would always notice how my parents gave us each one special card that was "store-bought". I guess they were too busy raising us kids, working and keeping our house in order to sit down and create dozens of handmade cards.

In 1994, I was head-over-heels for my college boyfriend. He resided in the dorms at Stony Brook University where we had met. I lived at least an hour train ride away. The train from Stony Brook didn't even stop in my side of town. I had to pick him up in a town called Stewart Manor.

On our first Valentine's Day weekend a huge snow storm was headed for Long Island. I was a mess of tears worrying the snow would keep us apart. He worked a campus safety job which had him working until 4 am. Somehow, I convinced him to catch a 5 am train to beat the snow! I don't think I slept a wink that night as I waited for his call saying he was getting on the train. This was before we had cell phones. I had to make sure I was at the train station at a particular time.  I remember the snow had just began falling and I had him back at my parents' house safe and sound in time for a day of heavy snowfall. We spent the weekend snowed in watching movies and stuffing our faces. Even though I'm happily married, that memory will stay with me as one of my most favorite Valentine's Days.

Throughout the years with my husband, we've had some of the most amazing Valentine's Days including overnight trips to Atlantic City, dinners out, dinners in, flowers, flowers and balloons, roses, a computer he built me, the one year where he gave me two dozen roses and a $150 worth of beauty gift cards.  I was unemployed and he knew I really wanted highlights, a haircut and a mani/pedi. 

This year he gave me my flowers and made us filet mignon, sauteed spinach and salad - I'm trying to be carb-free right now, so no sweets or starchy sides (bummer!) ... I bought him a new Verizon DROID phone by Motorola. He's been complaining about his cell phone and I'm in charge of phones since he knows I'm more into it than he is. Later we'll open our cards and watch a scary movie. Every year we celebrate Feb. 15th or Valentine's Day as the official day we first met back in 2002. We met online but waited five months to actually meet face-to-face. I was really afraid he wouldn't like me.

Funny how things change as we get older. We certainly have cut back on many of the bells and whistles such as overnight stays and overpriced dinner out -- but every year is just as special as the last.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scrambled Eggs for Grandma

I'm still in Florida with my mom and grandmother. I honestly have no desire to return home, though I miss my husband of course. He seems anxious for me to fly home, but they're getting snow up in New Jersey, it's cold and nobody has emailed me regarding my resume. Like I just feel as if I have nothing to return home to. Hubs is working, which is great, but I'm lonely and I'm loving not wearing a winter coat as well as catching up with my God father, aunt and cousins.

At the moment I'm at my aunt and uncle's and have finally gotten online for a few minutes -- I do miss the internet and seriously miss blogging. I miss commenting on your posts and responding to your comments.

Today my mom had to run an errand so it was up to me to get Grandma ready for the day. It was such a weird feeling, such a role reversal. [More about that here] It brought me back to my childhood when Grandma would help us get dressed and make me the most delicious scrambled eggs ever. She didn't remember those days which I knew she wouldn't, but I mentioned it any way. 

Grandma's scrambled eggs were better than any other scrambled eggs I had ever had. They didn't have cheese, or veggies or meat in them. There weren't any herbs or spices or honestly anything special mixed in with the egg. It was seriously just a buttered pan with egg and milk. Grandma's scrambled eggs were never brown. I remember saying, "Don't make them brown, Grandma." Brown meant the way eggs get crispy when you leave them in one spot too long.  You need to keep the eggs moving in the pan and keep an eye on them. I never liked my eggs runny -- still don't. She used just the right amount of milk, salt, pepper and butter. 

Today, I scrambled one egg for her as best as I could. That egg looked just like Grandma used to make for me. Not brown. Not runny. Just perfect. She enjoyed it and complimented me. I felt sad. I showed her the clothing Mom picked out for her to wear today. I remembered her zipping me up and swatting my four-year-old bum lovingly. She would button my coat and pull my hood tight before we headed outside. Why does it feel so weird to be the one making sure Grandma's zipped, buttoned and ready for the world?

I hope some day someone is there to scramble me an egg and button me up. :(

Thanks for listening.


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