Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mic'd Up

Twice in my life I've been treated like a 'quasi-celebrity.' Okay, maybe not even that. But I did feel pretty damn special when I got the red carpet treatment for the Emmys in 2009 (hair and make up artist included!). 

Monday was the second time. 

In July, a fabulous friend of mine had the brilliant idea to 'pitch' me to a producer at a, as it was worded in the query, "National Daytime Talk Show." They were looking for people who'd written a book and wanted to learn more about self-publishing, etc. The catch? The show was a Fifty Shades of Grey themed hour. I thought about it for a hot second and told her to pitch away. 

Fast forward to mid-August. My mobile phone rang and I checked to see who was calling. It was a New York number that I didn't recognize so I let it go to voice mail. When I listened to the message I had one of those what-the-hell-is-going-on moments. It was a producer from the brand spanking new Katie Couric Show. They'd gotten my friend's email pitch and wanted to talk to me. To be honest, I'd completely forgotten about the whole thing. 

Of course, I panicked slightly. I called my friend who basically told me to breathe for the ten minutes we were on the phone. After I regained human status, I gathered my wits and returned the producers's call. 

I spoke with a very nice girl who chattered away about what the show was going to be about. EL James, who wrote Fifty Shades, was going to be the guest and they wanted to know if I'd be interested in asking her a question about self-publishing. Basically, I'd be an audience member who got to stand up during the show and ask a pre-arranged question. 

Sure, why the hell not. I sent off a requested photo of myself to the producer and waited to see if I made the cut. 

From this point on, the producer & I communicated via email. Last week everything was finalized. They were putting me up in a hotel in New York (The Lucerne), providing car service for me and giving me tips on what to wear. Needless to say, I was excited. Super excited. 

I got to New York Sunday afternoon. A shiny black Lincoln Navigator was waiting for me, complete with a sign in the window that said "Katie Show" with my name written underneath. I got to the hotel and promptly found a bar showing the Patriots game. Priorities people, priorities. In a nutshell, I had lots of rum and Coke and couldn't feel my face. A good time had by all. 

Monday morning. I was awake before the sun peeked above the horizon. I was nervous. I was excited. I was twitchy. I just wanted to have a good hair day. 

The car picked me up at the hotel at 10:30 and drove me to the studio. I was greeted by the producer I'd been in touch with and escorted to the green room. Yes, it was green-ish in color. There were other women, and some men, milling around. We all had a part to play in the show. 

Our questions were rehearsed and we were given directions as to how it would all go down. There were seven of us who had pre-arranged questions for EL. Mine was the only one about publishing. Everyone else was asking about Christian Grey or sex toys or something of that nature. Katie would call out our names and we'd stand up to ask our question. Easy, right?

It all hit home for me the minute the audio guy mic'd me. The nerves went away and full on excitement took over. I was escorted to the set. The general audience was already seated. Each of us had an assigned seat with our names on it. We all sat sort of clustered on one side of the set. 

The audience warm up guy came out and told silly jokes, did some trivia and gave away prizes. Then, it was showtime. 

Can I just tell you how freaking adorable Katie Couric is? Adorable with a capital A.  Her set was lit in red. You know, like the Red Room of Pain.

EL was introduced and was incredibly funny and shy and also, adorable. There was a lot of adorableness on this Fifty Shades themed show.....

Now, I'm going to preface this next part by saying that I know how live TV works. I know the time contraints. I'd worked in TV news long enough to know that things get cut. So, you know where this is going. 

Only three women got to ask their questions. Like I said, there were seven of us. Even though I didn't get to ask my question, Katie did sneak it in at the end of the show. EL's advice? "Write for yourself. And write everyday."

Done and done. 

Oh, and a side note: EL stayed and signed copies of her book for all of us. We also got the Fifty Shades of Grey Soundtrack. Very gracious. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Live It Up

Forget 'Magic Mike.' Put Christian Grey's red room of pain on the sidelines for a few minutes. I'm about to get all girlie about five guys who were the first to make my little heart swoon. 

Yes, this is the continuing saga of the NKOTB Cruise. Go ahead, snicker all you want. 

My third adventure sailing the high seas with Jonathan, Joe, Donnie, Danny and Jordan (NKOTB to all of you) certainly lived up to expectations. Although, it could have been a little cooler, temperature-wise. Let's take it back to where it all started, shall we?

My friends and I flew down to Miami the day before the ship set sail. Friend Number One and Friend Number Two flew out of Providence and arrived a few hours before I did. I flew out of Boston and arrived in Dante's Inferno around 12:30pm. Christ on a cracker it was hot. I met up with them at the hotel and hung out by the pool until our room was ready. We met up with one of Friend Number One's co-workers for adult beverages after she got out of work. This is becoming a very fun, very enjoyable tradition. More of her co-workers joined us for appetizers and drinks. We laughed, drank and gushed about Christian Grey all evening until we had to leave for the restaurant. A very nice young man whose name I'm embarrassed to admit I can't remember offered to drive us to the restaurant. NO, he was not just some random dude, he was the son of my friend's co-worker. In any case, I always enjoy making a grand first impression, so true to form, as I was climbing into his massive, shiny black SUV, I fell. Blaming it on my wedge sandals would be a total cop out, but they didn't help. Neither did all the pretty pink adult beverages I had. Suave, party of one. Clumsiness aside, we enjoyed a rather spectacular dinner at a restaurant called STK. If you're ever in the Miami area, I highly recommend it. 

We went back to the hotel and immediately got ready for bed. We had another date with Destiny in the morning. 
The morning of the cruise arrived and greeted us with more hot, sticky weather. Unpleasant? Yes. But we were hours away from boarding the good ship paradise, so who cares. Arriving at the port is always a good time. The line of girls (women??) is long. Very long. Painfully long. But this year, we had an ace up our sleeves. Friend Number Two knows someone who works for the cruise line. What did that mean for us? We skipped to the front of the line at security. Oh yeah. The glares from the other girls waiting in line were white hot. Sorry (not really). After we got into the main terminal and checked in, Friend Number Two's connection told us we'd be able to board the ship before anyone else. Seriously. We waited for about 15 minutes and were then escorted to the gate. When I say we were the first three people, aside from cruise employees, to set foot on the ship, WE WERE THE FIRST THREE PEOPLE TO SET FOOT ON THE SHIP. The little photographer hadn't even set up the obligatory "get your picture taken as your board the boat" backdrop yet. That's how early we got on. Naturally, our cabin wasn't ready, so we went to grab some lunch. And here's where the real fun begins. 

Inevitably, the rest of the cruisers started to board and make their way to the buffet line. We decided to sit upstairs, away from the crowd. Since our cabin wasn't due to be ready until 1:30, we had a couple of hours to just sit and relax. Another small group of girls snagged a table upstairs near us, but that was it. Friend Number Two went down to get some cupcakes and other various snacks. While she was gone, a barrage of beefy looking men came up the stairs. To the trained eye of NKOTB fans, we immediately recognized them as the security team. What we weren't expecting was to see Donnie, Danny and Jordan with them. Friend Number One nearly had a coronary. She whipped out her iPhone but was immediately shut down by the biggest security man of them all, Earl. Dude could be a linebacker for the NFL. Friend Number Two was fortunate to make her way back to our table, because the upstairs section was now closed to everyone. Unless you already had a table. So there we were, sitting in NKOTB jail. The entire security team was upstairs with us. Intimidating? Possibly. But also very amusing. The boys were served plate after plate after plate after plate of food. To say the servings were heaping would be a gross miscalculation. For skinny boys, they can pack it away. The final two members of the group, Joe and Jonathan, arrived. 

We just sat at our table, talking and laughing. I mean, what else could we do? When the guys finally left, we went to our cabin. This year, we were at the very back of the boat. The room was a tad cramped for three people, but it had an extended balcony. We unpacked and planned our door decorating scheme. Our theme this year was "Fifty Shades of New Kids." We had funny quotes, photos, sparkly stuff and randomness. It was a fun door.

After the 'mandatory' muster station safety drill, everyone scurries to the lido deck for the Sail Away party. This is a significant event for two reasons: I get my first rum drink of the cruise and the guys come out to say hello. We grabbed a spot on the level above the main deck. It's much more comfortable up there. I'm not a big fan of being smushed up against sweaty people in a crowd in 1000 degree heat and humidity. Besides, we were eye level with the DJ and the guys when they came out. 

This year's insanity began with Donnie leading all of us in an 'oaf.' For you regular English speakers, that's 'oath.' In a nutshell, he wanted us all to have a good time and leave behind all our stresses, worries, etc because "WE DESERVE THIS." Then the guys made their was down to the screaming crowd to sign autographs, mingle and in Danny's case, be educated on a certain book. 

Joe very succinctly explained that it was the book his wife was reading next to him in bed, and he'd not benefitted from it. One of them claimed to have 'invented' that stuff. Nice try guys. 

But that's not the best part of the Sail Away. Oh no. You know the saying third time's the charm? Well, it is. While we were watching all the activity below, my favorite New Kid was quietly making his way through the crowd where we were standing. Friend Number One told me in rather colorful terms that if I didn't get my picture taken with him, I was an idiot. Here's a little known fact about me. I'm not shy. I can talk the ears off an elephant if I had to. My career has enabled me to meet and chat with numerous celebrities and sports stars. But put me within striking distance of someone I'm the least bit starstruck over and I'm a mute. Jonathan Knight has that effect on me. It's ridiculous, I know. 

I moved timidly and positioned myself so I could ask him for a photo, if I was able to cobble together a cohesive sentence. Remember the aforementioned rum drink? It was a lifesaver. When he was next to me I asked, very politely, "May I get a photo with you?" I'm so polite, aren't I? He said yes and my life was made. 

For those of you still playing along from last year, you know that each night on the cruise has a specific theme. The first night on this year's cruise was "Red Carpet Affair." Basically, we had to dress to impress. And because we're fabulous, we chose to wear sparkly tiaras with our pretty dresses. That's how we roll kids. 

The first night also includes a show. It was a game show called 'NKOTB Squares.' You know, like Hollywood Squares. Donnie hosted the game show because apparently their fearless leader Jared was too sober to do it. Girls were chosen randomly to go up on stage and form two teams. Since this was a glorified game of tic tac toe, nothing was as you'd expect it to be. Questions ranged from "why won't you let us get a picture, Earl" to "Joe, if you had to, which New Kid would you....." I would have to say the most enlightening moment of the night was listening to Danny try and explain what a trifecta was. If you don't know what it is, I'm not going to tell you. Google it. And no, it has nothing to do with horse racing. 

Once the game show ended, the lido deck party began. Dancing, dancing and more dancing. A good time had by all courtesy of the fabulous DJ Cheapshot. And the guys looked dashing in their red carpet attire as well. 

The next day was the 'Ship Faced' concert at Half Moon Cay. Blazing hot sun included! We slathered on sun screen and grabbed some floatie tubes. Spending the day floating in the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas sounds like a dream doesn't it. It is, for the first hour. We lasted long enough to see the guys arrive and dive in the water. It was so hot though. We did the unthinkable. We got out of the water just as the concert was about to start and left. We were hot, waterlogged and sunburned. (Note to self: REAPPLY THE SPF 100)

That night's theme was my favorite. Pajama night. Or as they called it 'Up Close and Cuddly.' There's no greater feeling than lounging around in your PJs after a day in the hot sun. There was also another show for us to see. This time it was 'Evening Wood' with Danny and 'A Man in Progress' with Joe. Both of them did a great job, but I have to say I enjoyed Joe's show immensely. That kid can sing, and he's a hoot! His performance ran late because it was raining outside, so he just kept telling stories and singing. Although at some points it felt like a big group therapy session....O_o

I will never be able to do justice to this next bit if I try to explain it. Fortunately, there's a video. If you have the time, watch it. It has everything. Togas, inappropriate names and general tomfoolery. 

Day three was billed as a relaxing day at sea. Total nonsense. Day three was photo day. And what better time to have a photo taken with your favorite boy band than ten in the morning after a late night dancing? We gathered our group of ten people and waited in line. Waited, waited waited. I liken the experience to cattle being shoved into a small barn. But whatever. We finally got to photo area, said our hellos and posed next to our favorite New Kid. Over and done in less than two minutes. 

My friends and I took part in NKOTBingo on the lido deck. It was led by some guy with an Irish accent. Meh. We had the rest of the day to do as we pleased. Friend Number One and Friend Number Two napped. I read. The excitement never ends. 

That night's theme was 'In the 90's.' I had the brilliant idea that we should dress up like the Spice Girls. Friend Number One was Posh, Friend Number Two was Sporty and I was the ass hat in the pink baby doll dress with pigtails and a giant pacifier that squeaked. More importantly, it was DDub's Back Rub night. Friend Number One was in her glory. What is the back rub you ask? It's Cinemax After Dark. It's the Red Room before there was Christian Grey. It's Donnie Wahlberg in a silk robe feeding bananas to blindfolded women, handcuffing a girl because she misbehaved, and pouring whipped cream into the mouths of unsuspecting women who have their eyes closed, all while speaking in a seductive tone. Some people think it's ridiculous. Most people love it. My opinion? It's all in good fun. 

So what do you do with roughly a thousand women who are hot and bothered after all that? You go to a lido deck party with special guests Naughty By Nature. I don't know about anybody else, but I was in the ZONE. Hip hop hooray! Tons of old school 90's rap and hip hop blared from the DJ booth. This little white girl from small town New England was in her glory. Best night of the cruise (so far). 

I do have one sort of funny story from that night. Donnie was mingling with the crowd near us. As he walked by, my foam finger brushed against his arm. Totally not intentional. Anyway, he looks at me and my ridiculous get up and grabs my face in his hands. Now, any other girl would love this. However, this man's lips have been too many places for my liking. As he comes in for the kill, I stealthily turn my head to the side so he gets my cheek. You're sweet Donnie, but I'm not going near that mouth. 

(Oh, I forgot about Jordan's concert. Sorry!!! He performed after Donnie's back rub.)

We all call it a night at around four in the morning. The next day is Key West, so there's no rush to wake up early or anything. Wrong. Apparently the fine people from U.S. Customs were only contractually obliged to check everyone's passport in the God-awful early hours of the morning. We dragged ourselves out of bed and went down to show the nice men in uniform that we were indeed legal residents of the US of A. Apparently, one cruiser named Sonia bucked the system and stayed in bed. How do I know this? Her name kept getting paged over and over in everyone's cabin.

Key West is one of those places I heard all sorts of great things about. When I lived in Orlando my friends would always tell me I had to go there. I never did, so while the ship was docked we decided to explore a bit. By the way, if you ever want to know what it feels like on the surface of the sun, go to Key West in early June. Hot is not a strong enough word. We walked around a bit and did some shopping, but we didn't last long at all. Back to the ship we go.

That afternoon was the NKOTB Town Hall. Everyone gathered on the lido deck, in the searing sun, to ask them questions. It was town hall style, like the candidates do on the campaign trail. Nice idea, but they should only answer questions that are pre-screened. Some of the more spontaneous questions were uncalled for. We stayed for a good chunk of the town hall, then went back to our cabin to start packing. Sadness. But we still had one more night to party with the boys. And this party wouldn't end until the sun came up. 

GPS Love Fest started at 11:30pm. Everyone had some article of clothing on or a flag or a sign or something that signified where they were from. 

Yes, we're from New England. Rhode Island to be specific. Biggest little state in the union!

I thoroughly enjoyed looking around the ship and seeing all the different flags and signs people brought. There were girls from Germany, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Brazil, Great Britain, Chile....so many places! It looked like one giant united nations meeting. Only with better music and a lot more smiling. The party did indeed last until the sun came up. We lasted until 5am. Nobody wanted the night to end. It's safe to say that this cruise ranks pretty high out of the three that I've been fortunate enough to take. Each cruise has it's own special memory or event or funny moment. Even though people roll their eyes at me when I tell them that I go on the NKOTB cruise, I'm not going to stop being a part of it. It's harmless fun to lose yourself in the safe, giddy world of teenage years long filed away. It's also healthy for the soul to remember what it felt like to have the world at your fingertips. Think of it as a way to recharge the batteries. Until next time....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Next Up, Nutella?

I've firmly entered the "oh my gosh, what I'm writing totally sucks and I need to burn it" phase. I'm assuming the next step is sinking into a vat of Nutella, never to be seen again. 

The writing process is a funny thing. It starts so purely, with an idea. You know like how Oprah had her "Aha!" moments? Yeah that's it. Over the past few weeks I've learned a bit about the self-revealing process that is writing. Seeing as I haven't come close to finishing what I'm working on, I thought it would be fun to review the various phases I've had the pleasure of experiencing.

The "Inspired" Phase
This is a fun one. The ideas are so vast I mentally compared it to the universe. Each galaxy a novel, each star an idea. This is the phase when characters are born, their personalities jumping up and down, jockeying to get center stage to tell their stories. In my case, one lucky character was making so much noise that I couldn't ignore her any longer. And she convinced me she had one hell of a tale to tell. 

The "Pulitzer Prize" Phase
This is the phase that inflates your ego and makes you think your story is so grand, so perfect, so unique that the New York Times is waiting with bells on to review this budding masterpiece. Words pour out so effortlessly it's hard to believe that people complain about "the process." This is also the phase where I didn't sleep. But you're so wrapped up in the characters and the world you've created that you forget there's life outside the bubble. Once you poke your head back out, you realize that everyone who you've told that you're writing a book wants to read it. 

The "Oh-my-gosh-what-I'm-writing-totally-sucks-and-I-need-to-burn-it" Phase
Enter self doubt. Hi, how are you? At this point all the arrogant confidence gained in the Pulitzer Prize phase has dissipated. Or rather, packed its bags and high-tailed it out of town. I find myself reading and rereading and rereading everything. The end result is usually the same. This. Sucks. I even went to so far as to start rewriting the whole thing in the POV of the main character. Thankfully, my brain stopped humming to itself and convinced me to stay the course. I'm pretty sure at some point people move on from this phase. At least I hope so. 

Since I've been stuck in this phase I've found myself perusing Amazon.com and other bookseller websites. Just for the fun of it, I'll click on the little "LOOK INSIDE!" and see if my drivel is anywhere near as good as something that's published. Sometimes I think I can hang with the big kids. Sometimes I think I should stick to my day job. 

Whatever the outcome, the writing continues. Someday I'll let someone read it. Maybe. Depends on what the next phase is....or if I'll forever remain lost in a vat of Nutella.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Give Up? How About "Let Go"

A friend of mind posted a link to this today on her Facebook page. It's a list of things to "give up" to be happier. I scrolled down the list and immediately declared to myself that I could never give up #1 or #2. Me, be wrong? Are you nuts? And my favorite, control. Once a control freak, always a control freak. However, the further down the list I got, the more I realized that each one of these was worth considering. What do you think? 

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

 Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

 Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

 Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

 Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

 Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. 
“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Keep Singing My Song

Now that I'm fully obsessed with writing, I've also become fully obsessed with rounding out this story as best I can with music. I love music. All kinds. OK, maybe not country and death metal, but I do enjoy pretty much every genre out there. My iTunes is overflowing. Music, to me, is an integral part of the soundtrack to life. Certain songs from my childhood still resonate with me today. There's something great that happens when you connect to a song, whether it be the lyrics, the melody or because that song was playing during a pivotal moment in life. 

As a side project, I put together a playlist that I think defines my characters and their story. The songs are in no particular order, but each one speaks to them.

Breathe (2AM)                                                        Anna Nalick
Money Can't Buy It                                                 Annie Lennox
Back At One Brian McKnight
Call Me Maybe Carly Rae Jepsen
Cruz Christina Aguilera
Get Mine, Get Yours Christina Aguilera
Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall Coldplay
Paradise Coldplay
Viva La Vida Coldplay
Strawberry Swing Coldplay
Without You (feat. Usher) David Guetta/Usher
Days Go By Dirty Vegas
Simple Things Part 2 Dirty Vegas
Hum Hallelujah Fall Out Boy
Chelsea Dagger The Fratellis
Look After You The Fray
Follow Through Gavin DeGraw
I'll Fly With You (L'Amour Toujours) Gigi d'Agostino
Something Kinda Ooooh Girls Aloud
I Like It Like That (feat. New Boyz) Hot Chelle Rae
Afterglow INXS
Wonderful World James Morrison
Trust A Try Janet Jackson
That's The Way Love Goes Janet Jackson
Run This Town (feat. Rihanna/Kanye West) Jay-Z
Stronger Kanye West
Paranoid Kanye West
Monster Kanye West/Jay-Z/Rick Ross/Nicki Minaj/Bon Iver
Sunshine Keane
Bedshaped Keane
Addicted Kelly Clarkson
Dark Side Kelly Clarkson
Other Side Of The World KT Tunstall
Heal Over KT Tunstall 
Breaking The Habit Linkin Park
Pts.Of.Athrty (Jay Gordon) Linkin Park
1stp Klosr (The Humble Brothers ft. Jonathan Davis) Linkin Park
Waiting for the End Linkin Park
Numb/Encore Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Izzo / In The End Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Points Of Authority / 99 Problems / One Step Closer Linkin Park & Jay-Z
Intoxicated Maria
I Am Free Mariah Carey
Work It Missy Elliott
Starlight Muse
Welcome To The Black Parade My Chemical Romance
Famous Last Words My Chemical Romance
Just a Dream Nelly
Starships Nicki Minaj
Acquiesce Oasis
All the Right Moves OneRepublic
Set Adrift on Memory Bliss P.M. Dawn
Taking Chances Platinum Weird
You're All I Have Snow Patrol
Chasing Cars Snow Patrol
Engines Snow Patrol
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) The Temptations
Never Leave You [feat. Amelle] Tinchy Stryder & Amelle
Untouched The Veronicas
Bittersweet Symphony The Verve

That's the playlist that I've been listening to as I write. It really has helped add so much to the story. Out of curiosity, do any of you create playlists for your characters as you write? Or maybe just a playlist that sets the tone for the story? Thanks for playing! =)

Friday, May 4, 2012

#14. I've always wanted to write a book.

In the past 3 days, I've gotten a total of 12 hours sleep. Maybe. No joke. I don't require that much sleep as it is, so that's not a big shock. I wish I could say I was doing some really exotic activity, like spelunking. OK, not that, I'm slightly claustrophobic. And clearly I have no attention span as I'm now wondering WHY people would purposely crawl through small, dark, cold caves for fun. Back to the main topic...please.

I've been depriving myself of my much needed beauty sleep because I'm writing a book. Yes, a book. Hopefully a good one. I seem to be entertained by it so far. My characters have completely taken over my life, to the point where I'm dreaming about them. Awesome. I've also created a playlist in iTunes for the two main characters. I listen to it constantly as I'm writing about their highs, lows and all that good stuff in between. I've always wanted to write a book. Hence the title of this post. The #14 refers to the place on the list where this little wish of my mine was written. It's a random, fun little list. Please, take a look

I've had this idea for a book for awhile, but I never took the time to actually sit down and flesh it out. Then, I had an epiphany. I'm an avid reader and have always been inspired by the (good) books that I've read. Then, I read quite possibly the worst series of books ever produced. And I was SUPER inspired. I will most likely be flogged and whipped for saying this out loud, but man, did they suck. Over the summer, I was coerced into reading the Twilight series. I'd been able to keep my entire human existence free of that nonsense, because it held zero interest for me. ZERO. But, due to the fact that I was bored and essentially being bullied into reading it (by my MOM of all people), I borrowed the books and went home. I know, I know. If I hated the books so much why didn't I just put them down? Or burn them? Shred them up and use them for kitty litter? Simple. I'm a glutton for punishment and I just HAD to know what all the fuss was about. It was like watching a train derail. You know you shouldn't look, you should turn your head away. But whatever. Anyway. My epiphany. I figured I had nothing to lose by finally sucking it up and writing the story that I've been dying to write for years. 

So I started writing an outline. It was so much fun finally getting the skeleton to this story out of my system. I was all pumped and ready to write this thing! November came and I was Little Miss Writer Princess. For two weeks I did nothing but write. Then, I did nothing. Yeah, all that pontificating about how my cat could write a better book than Twilight, and I was fried. My brain refused to work. I got to the fourth chapter and stared blankly at the screen. Sad, isn't it?

I could do nothing more. I felt like an asshat, I was letting my characters down. They had a story to tell and I was at a loss. Needless to say, I stepped away from the writing process, but never really stepped away from my characters. They were always on my mind, subtly suggesting that they needed to speak. They needed to express themselves. I saw shades of them in everything I did. Last week, it finally became too much to bear. They were loud. They wanted out. And I had no choice but to oblige. Then, earlier this week on the Twitter, an author that I follow (Hi Ann Marie!) kept tweeting about a contest to win a critique from her agent. I died. It was the final jolt I needed to give my characters the love, respect and freedom they deserved. 

I started furiously rewriting everything I'd done so far. And it's pouring out of me so easily, I'm almost embarrassed that I wasn't able to do it sooner. I'm loving it. Even the no sleep. Oh, I didn't win the contest. But that doesn't matter, because I get to spend my days, nights and every other waking moment playing with my characters. And that is a priceless reward.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gettin' Juiced Up

Clearly, since I'm writing this, I survived 3 days of living on nothing but juices. My inner daredevil is over-the-moon ecstatic. Yes, I did it, but it wasn't as easy as I'd hoped it would be. OK, maybe it was. 

DAY 1: My unbridled enthusiasm was mostly responsible for getting me through the first day. Every juice bottle I opened was met with a little squee of excitement. It tastes so much better than I thought it would! I never knew liquid salad was this heavenly! Beet juice? YAY!  I have to admit, I felt great. I wasn't overly hungry. Late afternoon I felt my stomach subtly suggest a hamburger, but I promptly squashed that. By the time I had my last juice of the day, a glorious, sweet delight known as Cashew Milk, I was convinced I'd discovered the equivalent to a red velvet cupcake in liquid form. (Minus the red velvet, obviously)  By 9pm I was fighting to stay awake, so I went to bed early for the first time in decades.

DAY 2:  When I woke up Saturday morning I was immediately struck by how good I felt. I didn't have any cravings for my usual morning coffee. I was more than happy grabbing a bottle of water and wake my insides up. Who knew? The juices were just as tasty the second day. Although, part of me started to rebel against the Spicy Lemonade and the Beet Juice. Fortunately, I didn't have any massive headaches or other signs of uncomfortable detox. That was good. I will say that I spent ALOT of time reacquainting myself with the bathroom. Hey man, I'm drinking nothing but liquids, what do you expect? Anyway, by the time I got to my favorite moment of the day, the Cashew Milk, I drank it with such reverence that I kept giggling like a child. Seriously, it's that good. Oh, and I went to bed early again. Definitely odd for a night owl like myself.

DAY 3: Final day! The allure of solid food was SO close, I could almost taste the roast beef sandwich I woke up craving. But I soldiered on and knocked back my first three juices of the day, pacing myself as I went along. I also paced my water intake to stave off the hunger pangs that were getting louder. By late afternoon, as I was nursing the Spicy Lemonade, my inner daredevil faltered. I was legit hungry. And that drink was making me angry. So I chugged it. And then had a bottle of water. An hour later I begrudgingly grabbed the Beet Juice. I eyeballed it with wariness because it really is vile the third time around. But like a good girl, I drank it. As fast as I could. At 6pm on the dot, I enjoyed my final Cashew Milk. I'd grown so fond of that drink, I didn't want it to go away, ever. 
This drink deserves a standing ovation. By far the best of the six. As I drank it, that old Vanessa Williams song (Save the Best for Last) kept playing in my head. After I finished it, I held the bottle above my head like it was a major trophy and announced rather excitedly that I was DONE!!! The Dane managed a small "that's good" as he was playing something on the PS3. Thanks Dane, you're aces.

Overall, I did feel much better doing this cleanse. My insides felt lighter and I had more energy. I've completely lost my craving for caffeine, chocolate and coffee. A moment of silence for Dunkin Donuts, please. When I woke up yesterday I found myself wanting the green juices, the pineapple juice and, most of all, the Cashew Milk. I had to settle for vegetable broth and cucumber slices. Make no mistake, I'm glad to be eating solid foods again. I made a lovely chicken breast stuffed with spinach, sun-dried tomatos and cheese for dinner last night. But I certainly wouldn't turn away the juices if they're offered to me. Well, except for the Spicy Lemonade and Beet Juice.


Green Juice (2 bottles):
Surprisingly tasty. Definitely "greeny," but I liked it.
Ingredients: Romaine, Celery, Cucumber, Apple, Spinach, Kale, Parsley, Lemon

P.A.M. (1 bottle):
Amazing. I loved it. Sweet, refreshing and would be GREAT with Bacardi. But it's fabulous on it's own too. Yum. 
Ingredients: Pineapple, Apple, Mint

Spicy Lemonade (1 bottle):
Tart and spicy. I actually enjoyed it on the first day. But the 2nd and 3rd time I had it, not so much.
Ingredients: Water, Lemon, Cayenne, Agave Nectar

C.A.M. (1 bottle):
Much like the Spicy Lemonade, I liked it at first blush. It had a very earthy flavor. However, by the 2nd and 3rd day, I would have rather drank gasoline.
Ingredients: Apple, Carrot, Beet, Lemon, Ginger

Cashew Milk (1 bottle): 
Nectar of the gods. It was sweet, rich, vanilla-y, delicious, yummy.....and so many other adjectives that I don't possibly have time to write down. It's considered the "dinner" of the drinks. I called it my special dessert. Must. Have. More. Immediately. 
Ingredients: Filtered Water, Raw Cashews, Agave Nectar, Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon

So that's it. My experience doing the BluePrint Cleanse. I really, honestly enjoyed it (Spicy Lemonade and Beet Juice aside). My goal is to try and do it once a month. Maybe I'll even buy a juicer to make it myself. If you've been thinking about trying a juice cleanse and have been a nervous nelly, definitely try this one. And that's coming from the girl who was convinced she'd quit after an hour. =)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Just saying this out loud makes me roll my eyes at myself - "I'm doing a juice cleanse." Seriously? Who am I? But really, I'm doing a juice cleanse.

Apparently the BluePrint Cleanse (BPC) is all the rage with healthy-type people. Or at least with those who like to banish solid foods for several days in a row on purpose. I've always been curious about what it would be like to drink freshly juiced veggies all day. Totally not kidding. The thought of someone doing this on purpose has always fascinated me. It seemed like a challenge that I would ultimately fail in the first, oh let's say, hour. 

Back in the day, like in 2008, some crazy urge took over and I attempted the Lemon Detox Diet. Why? I don't know. I spent a particularly nice Saturday traipsing around the state of Rhode Island looking for all the right organic ingredients for the drink. Once I found everything I mixed the drink and took a sip. And promptly threw it down the sink. There was no way I'd be drinking that swill for a week. A WEEK! That was end of that. Back to actual food for me.

But you know when you keep reading about something, or hearing about people who fasted  and drank nothing but water for a month, some insane part of your brain starts to take over the rational side of your brain. 

I kept hearing how great it was to 'cleanse out your body.' How people felt rejuvenated, energetic and all the other adjectives that make you want to drop everything you're doing and join in on the fun. But, I kept ignoring the insane part of my brain. That is, until this week. 

If you were to ask me how I even found out about the BPC, I'd be fumbling to give you an answer. I just happened upon it a few months ago and sort of filed it away under 'crazy ideas.' For whatever reason, the insane part of my brain was obnoxiously active earlier this week and felt the need to convince my rational side that I needed to do the BluePrint Cleanse. 

I mean, look at the logo. It's so serene and pretty. Why wouldn't I want to? 

The website is very informative. I always enjoy a good marketing strategy and the group behind this does it very well. There are 3 different levels for cleansing. Seeing how successful I was with the lemon disaster, I opted to choose Level 1, Renovator. See? I'm renovating myself. You know, like an old house or something. 

Renovator Type:

"I know what whole foods are, and I've seen people buying them. I would too, but I'm too busy to be choosy – my vegetable intake comes in the form of: Ketchup – "tomatoes" and French Fries – "potatoes." Salad is found in EVERY cheeseburger I eat: it's that green-ish color in the middle of the burger. Fruit? Easy, it's the garnish on my cocktail, (usually an orange). I have cut back on red meat... and know I should only buy organic, free range, hand massaged meats and vegetables raised by people who smell like patchouli oil, but where do they even sell that stuff?"

Now, I don't rely on ketchup & potatoes to be my only source of vegetable intake. I do love a good salad, steamed broccoli, etc. But since this is the first time I'm actually going to commit to a cleanse, I figured beginner was the way to go. The two other levels are Foundation and Excavation. 

The nice FedEx man dropped off my freshly pressed 3-day supply of juices this morning at 10:30. Mind you, I'd been up since 7:30, with no coffee, no breakfast, no anything. I tore into that box like it was filled with red velvet cupcakes. 

The bottles are all numbered, so you don't have to wonder which one to drink when. If it were any easier, a rock could do it. 

The drinks are 2 green juices (kale, romaine, cucumber), a pineapple, apple & mint drink, a spicy lemonade, an apple, carrot & beet drink and finally a cashew milk with vanilla & cinnamon. So far, I've had the first green juice (not bad, honestly) and am currently nursing the pineapple one. That one is REALLY good. Very refreshing. All it needs is a splash of Bacardi.......

My adventure has begun. If I make it through to Sunday I'll give an honest review of what it's been like. Drink up!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Put Down That Pink Hat And Go Away

Sometimes, a girl just has to blog about sports. Sports?!? It's true. Minutes after fawning all over my fabulous new beauty purchases from Sephora, I'm going to delve into the magical world of football. I can hear you all sighing and clicking another link. That's OK. I still heart you.

This is my final purge to get over the Patriots' loss in the Superbowl last Sunday. It will serve as nothing more than a naval-gazing retrospective on my path to fandom, which started when I was 11, clutching a Tony Eason Topps card.

Yep. That's the guy who sucked me into football. Him, and the catchy t-shirts proclaiming "Squish the Fish!" and "Berry the Bears!" My brother still has those shirts. Hilarious. But I digress.

It was a big deal when the 1985 Patriots made it to the Superbowl. They were going up against the Chicago Bears, who had the biggest man in the universe playing on their side. His nickname was "Refrigerator." Huge. Makes Vince Wilfork look like a hobbit. 

My parents let my brother & I stay up to watch the game. My dad, true to form, watched the game wearing his Minnesota Vikings hat. (Side story: My dad was stationed in Minnesota when he was in the Air Force. He became a Vikings fan then, and has been one since. But he always roots for the Pats too).

I don't remember much from the game. The only clear memory I have is sitting on the floor, clutching my Tony Eason card and willing the team to win. Then, I remember that 'man' nicknamed Refrigerator barreling through about 7 Patriots and scoring a touchdown. Ladies & gentlemen, a Patriots fan was born. And experienced her first crushing defeat. 

So what does that little walk down memory lane have to do with the events of Superbowl XLVI? When I was 11, it wasn't cool to be a Patriots fan. Unless you lived in New England, and even then it was a bit touch and go. The team wasn't really known for being good. Granted, I cheered for guys named Eason, Grogan, Tippett, Tatupu, Fryar, etc. But the rest of the country pretty much saw the teams in the 80's and 90's as 'patsies.' The Cowboys & 49ers were the teams whose bandwagons grew. Being a girl, my method for choosing a team to root for hinged on whether or not I liked their logo. For example, I like horses, so the Denver Broncos were in. Very scientific. But I never became a bandwagon fan just because a team was winning. It seemed like the easy way out. Jump on and enjoy the ride when they win, hop off and ridicule them when they lose. 

My dad would take us to Bryant College in the summer to watch the Patriots at training camp. For those of you still playing along, Bryant College (now University) is in Smithfield, RI. Nice campus, not a whole lot of people watching the team practice. I kept going to the training camps during high school and after I graduated from college. I have a really nice snapshot of Drew Bledsoe walking off the field. I kept it on my desk at work, and someone asked me, in all seriousness, if that was my boyfriend. I lived in Florida at the time, so I suppose I'll excuse them for not knowing who he was.

Oh, right. Florida. I moved to Orlando in 2000. It wasn't my first time living far away from home. I did a brief stint in Los Angeles after college. But Orlando was the first place I moved to where I didn't know anyone, and was starting completely alone at a new job and life. It was a little scary, but fun at the same time. 

I would call home every Sunday to see how the Patriots did. My dad, more often than not, had the same answer: "They lost." Regardless of the outcomes of the games, it was more of an excuse to call home & talk to my family. Living in Orlando offered only Miami Dolphins or Tampa Bay Buccaneers games. So getting the weekly Pats report from home made me feel closer to Rhode Island than I actually was.

I was still living in Orlando on 9/11. Being so far away from home, on a day like that, was a feeling I hope I never experience again. And as trivial as this sounds, knowing that I could lose myself in a football game on a Sunday afternoon helped. Obviously, being the social butterfly that I am, I made some fabulous friends in Orlando. We'd go to various sports bars on Sundays to watch all the games. But I was only interested in one. The great thing I discovered about living in a city like Orlando was that nobody was actually FROM there. I was surrounded by people from New York, New Jersey, Texas, etc. We had our own little Sunday football village, rooting for our various favorite teams (Jets, Chiefs, Raiders, Giants, Dolphins, Saints). Even though there are natural rivals to any sports organization, I took it upon myself to respect my friends and their chosen teams. There was good-natured ribbing, but no nastiness. It was a good time had by all. Of course, I took most of the ribbing, because the Patriots were just "so bad." 

Then it happened. My favorite QB was knocked out of a game with a pretty serious injury. Some kid named Brady filled in for him. I'll spare you all the rehashing of what happens next. I'm sure you've heard it a million times. But I will say this. From the eyes of a Patriots fan who stuck by her team when they were at the bottom, watching them succeed was a feeling like no other. I was working an event in Orlando on the eve of Superbowl 36. I was wearing my Patriots hat, and one of the security guys at the event stopped me and said he thought the Pats had a real shot at beating the Rams. I grinned from ear to ear because it was the first time I ever heard somebody impartial say something positive about my home team. 

The Patriots won a couple more Superbowls while I lived in Orlando. I even have a nice snapshot of Tom Brady from the MVP parade at Disney World hanging on my refrigerator. When I first started dating my now husband, he looked at the picture and wanted to know who the hell that guy was. I excused him at the time, because he's from Denmark, and had no idea what American football was. But the picture, dated 2/2/04, is still hanging proudly on my fridge. 

So, when people ask me when, or how, or why I became such a big football fan, I hope this helps explain a little. And maybe it'll shed a little light on why the past couple of Superbowl losses have stung so much, and left me in a funk for many days. The Patriots aren't just a team that I root for on a Sunday. They are  woven into the fabric of my childhood, reaching into my adulthood and beyond. They are an extension of my family when I've lived thousands of miles from home, and they are the bond that keeps my friendships strong and exciting.

There you go. My football blog. Hope you enjoyed it! And hey, if I can blog about the NKOTB cruise, I can blog about sports, right? GO PATS!