• All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Frozen Chocolate Treats

    You guys. Seriously. Try this. Here’s whatcha wanna do:

    Get some fruit. Freeze it. Dunk it in some melted chocolate & coconut oil. Lick off all the chocolate that has “accidentally” dripped everywhere. “Clean” the chocolate covered dish with your index finger. Lick. Repeat.

    Okay, for real, here are the uber-simple instructions:

    — Stick a plate of fruit (sliced if needed like in the case of kiwis, bananas and such) in the freezer for an hour.
    — Melt 1 bar of dark chocolate and a tbsp of coconut oil. (For the dark chocolate bar, use Hershey’s or Cadbury or the like. I’ve tried fancy stuff like Jacques Torres with yucky results. A larger 3.5 oz bar is perfect. Save a square or four to pop in your mouth while working and it’ll still be fine.)
    — Once melted and blended, let it cool to room temperature. (I never have patience for this with fine results. That said, there’s always a surplus of oil at top and chocolate at bottom, so maybe I should wait next time.)
    — Plunk the frozen fruit in the melted mixture using a popsicle stick, toothpick or, in the case of my raspberries, a skewer.

    Because the fruit is frozen & the plate chilled, the chocolate will dry quickly so it’s not even that messy and it’s MMM…MMM….GOOOOOOD!

    Refrigerate or re-freeze the final product. I prefer them chilled in the fridge rather than frozen solid because, ouch, my teeth!

    *For larger servings, keep this ratio: 1 tablespoon coconut oil for every 1/4 cup dark chocolate. Also, if you’re not a coco-nut (heh) use a refined coconut oil. Also, I use sugar free chocolate because sugar is the devil.

    All in all, it’s a quick, easy, affordable, delicious, healthy treat. Basically, you’re gonna want to invite me to your parties so I can treat you to some chocolate covered fruits.

  • All Blog Entries,  Food & Drink,  Recipes

    Easy Chili

    Not wanting to make a trip into town for supplies, I made chili with stuff I had around the cabin. Writing it down for future use as it was super easy and MMM, MMM GOOD!

    * 1 pound of ground beef or turkey
    * 3/4 cup diced red onion
    * 4 heaping tablespoons of Mrs. Renfro’s Green Salsa
    * 2 teaspoons of chili powder
    * 1.5 teaspoons cumin
    * 1 jalapeño diced (I chopped up a heaping tablespoon of canned, sliced ones because I didn’t have a fresh jap.)
    * 1 green bell pepper diced
    * 1 can beans drained (We had a can of red kidney beans which is optional, of course, as is everything else.)
    * 1 & a 1/2 tomatoes (just what I had…mix and match with diced tomatoes and tomato sauce based on what’s in the cupboard.)
    * 22 oz of tomato sauce (I had a 14 oz and 8 oz can in the cupboard so used what I had)
    * 8 oz water (I filled the empty 8 oz can of tomato sauce but didn’t need to.)

    Brown the ground beef in a pan then add to the crockpot with the other ingredients. I actually sautéed the onion & green pepper with the beef because I thought we’d be eating it in about 2 hours. Ended up cooking it on high for about 4 hours.

    Topped it off with shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream and some crushed tortilla chips. Delicious and easy and cheap!

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Mentoring

    Hour Children

    Hour Children is a non-profit dedicated to supporting incarcerated women and their children. Its founder, Sister Teresa has been nominated for a CNN Heroes Award. The group is also applying for a grant, so I wrote a little note taking a quote from my book and part of my blog entry Life is Fun to craft something new for that purpose. I wish I’d had more time to work on it, but here’s what I sent:

    When my father was sentenced to twenty years in prison, I was consumed by shame, fear, guilt, confusion and heartache. I grieved, I presume, as one might for a father who had unexpectedly died without saying goodbye. A father who had been unnaturally stripped away in a swift, deadly blow leaving his family to wonder what had been the last words said. When was the last, “I love you” and had they meant it? This was my father’s due, but I was devastated. Despite everything, I loved him.

    I had just turned thirty-one years old, a grown up seemingly capable of handling such a traumatic event. Ten years later, I spent my forty-first birthday with Jeaniah, my ten-year-old protégé from Hour Children, a girl whose parents have both been incarcerated.

    She and I were matched last March and have logged many hours together in museums, theaters, bowling alleys, aquariums, parks, zoos and, of course, Chuck E. Cheese.

    For my birthday, I took Jeaniah to the Spy Exhibit at Discovery Time Square Museum. The exhibit was interactive, educational and fun. We navigated a life-sized laser maze, took our photos & added wigs, glasses, facial hair and hats to disguise our images.  I was surprised that, in spite of all the amusing things, Jeaniah wanted to spend most of our time there reviewing a timeline of major world events. Using a touch screen, we selected a year, which then gave us dates to choose. One by one, we talked about events like the falling of the Berlin Wall, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, Osama bin Laden and the Twin Towers.

    Overwhelmed by what she had yet to learn, I thought, “Man! Kids don’t know anything!”

    The history lesson led her to ask questions like just why had Osama bin Laden attacked us, followed by thoughtful discussions about various religions, tolerance and extremism. She’s a smart one this girl, quick and attentive. I don’t know how often, if ever, current events and such serious dialogue are part of her life, but I was glad to have been there to answer her questions with patience and honesty.

    Afterward, we meandered through Times Square where we saw all sorts of colorful characters: people in costumes, a guy with eight rats dyed a rainbow of colors sitting on his shoulders and a beautiful dragonfly that seemed attracted to me and Jeaniah.

    “This is the most fun ever,” she kept saying, and then would add, “Weird, but fun.”

    Kids might not know everything, but they know enough.

    In some cultures, it is believed that the dragonfly helps one let go of the past and if you see one in an unusual place, it symbolizes a transformation through a spiritual awakening. I’ve lived in New York City for twelve years and have never seen a dragonfly in a park let alone Times Square. It flew with us for over a block and even hitched a ride on J——’s arm.

    In my forty-one years of life, I’ve traveled the world, met thousands of people and learned a lot from them. Yet, I’ve never known a single person who also had a parent in prison.  Jeaniah is the only friend with whom I have this in common.

    Thanks to Hour Children, she and I can let go of our past and transform with each other. And, for a child whose life has been fraught with tumult, Jeaniah can have an occasional break, look around and decide that life is fun. Weird, but fun.

    ~~~~~~~

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Rock House

    Firestarters & Cabin Bedroom Wall Before & After

    For those of you with high testosterone levels, move along, there’s nothing to see here but more crafty, decoratey stuff.

    For the rest of you, here’s an update to my earlier post about my Mason jar addiction.

    It’s August, which in the Catskills means it’s campfire season! We had our first last night in the fire pit on our patio to keep us warm while we watched two episodes of “The Wire”. Cozy toasty and the smell still lingers in Griswold‘s hair, just another reason to snuggle my nose behind his ear. Anyway, while starting the fire with soggy kindling and newspaper, I was reminded that I wanted to make my own fire starters. I’ve saved egg cartons and leftover wax from candles all spring and summer precisely for this reason. Fire starters can be pretty pricey and why let all that wax go to waste? Bonus: scented candle wax gives added aroma.

    I stuffed cotton balls into the empty egg cartons, melted some wax (use leftover candles and Scentsy cubes that have lost their scent) in a makeshift double boiler (an empty can filled with the wax inside a pot of boiling water). Using a potholder & a pair of pliers to pluck the can out of the boiling water, I poured the melted wax over the cotton balls. Be sure to have wax paper under the cartons to save your counter, the wax will seep through. Use a toothpick to make sure the cotton soaks up the wax. Alternative materials to cotton balls are dryer lint and sawdust –they’re actually better but we don’t have a dryer or any sawdust piled up.

    When we start our fire tomorrow night, I’ll cut off one “egg”, light the carton paper and see if my homemade starter worked. Supposedly they burn up to 10 to 15 minutes each, as long as, if not longer than a store-bought starter.

    Now, onto the bedroom. The guy who restored the home from 2001-2007, didn’t put up drywall in the bedroom. It’s a style choice of his which we kind of like. We painted it a very light blue, but without drywall there’s no real way to hang anything. Then I had an idea! I got some 2x4s cut down to size which I painted & installed horizontally between the studs to create “shelves”. For extra security, I added a little “ledge” (like a dowel rod but not cylindrical) with some wood glue and two carpet nails. I thought it was a pretty good idea / solution. I placed some items on the ledges for picture purposes, but I’m not sure what will finally end up on the shelves. Whatdya think?

    Update: I forgot to include pictures of our fresh coat of paint (Sassafras Tea) in the kitchen & dining room and the new pot rack for the we hung above the stove. (Thanks to my in-laws for my birthday gift card to Crate & Barrel to help pay for it!)

    (Full Rock House photo set on Flickr.)

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  Family & Life

    A Wrinkle in Time

    I’ve always fancied myself a bit of a sleuth. In the mid-90s, during my days as a big shot banker, I collected on multi-million commercial dollar loans. To hunt down debtors, I searched all sorts of public records. The internet was still fairly new and most documents were not available online. I became somewhat obsessed with how much intimate information I could find out about a person from yearbook and wedding photos, past and current relationships, favorite restaurants and bars, you name it, simply by going to the library or the local courthouse.

    I was in a toxic personal relationship at the time and actually “stalked” a couple of people we knew (in the paper sense of the word) to hone my “skills” convinced I could turn my obsession into a money making business like being a P.I. for hire. Always the entrepreneur, I guess, but ultimately detective work is a tremendous time spent alone which is not my thing. Plus, it’s steeped in negativity.

    Fast forward to February 2012. My memoir was going on sale in a matter of days, and I needed something to occupy my thoughts besides the looming possibility of failure, criticism, and public shame. So, I joined Ancestry.com. Minutes gave way to hours that spanned into days of my pouring over legal documents and Google-sniffing out my mother’s family history. Finding a long lost document or a tidbit of news was exhilarating and poignant. For example, I found this article in the Emporia Gazette about my uncle Billy who was killed when a train struck the car he and several other deaf people were riding in. With just one click, I was reading an archived article, documenting the tragic accident. His name, his life and death, were summed up neatly in one sentence:

    Billy Thornton Fitzgarrald, 29, Tulsa.

    I burst into tears upon seeing it so plainly. I sobbed for the life cut short and for the pain his family —my family– suffered at the abrupt, violent and senseless loss. My emotions surprised me –I had never even met Uncle Billy– but seeing his name (misspelled) struck an emotional chord in me on a cellular level.

    My comfort was knowing that Billy’s story is still alive, like that of his twin sister, my Deaf grandmother Betty. She lives on through her letters I’ve saved and the stories and the book I’ve written. She will always be more than a simple sentence:

    Betty Mae Fitzjarrald Worth, 81, Tulsa.

    After a few weeks, I had reached the end of the family line; or, at least, tired of researching the same few people without results. Trips to government buildings will be needed to get any further. Bored, I considered what other things I could investigate. Then I remembered two postcards picturing the town where our cabin is located in the Catskills. Christian & I purchased them at an antique store in Liberty, NY, and I recalled there had been writing on them.

    One was in pristine condition and was postmarked November 18, 1910. The almost one hundred and two-year-old note reads:

    Miss Ida Martin 
    7 Vine Street
    Honesdale, PA

    Dear Ida I got some cards last night so will send yours did you get my letter?
    Hoping you are all well as this leaves me about sick in bed with a cold it is raining hard Harry has gone over home it was a journey. Over if it had of been a nice day. How is ___? Lula was looking for me last night but I guess she ____ come. Ha Ha. Ira is home. Good by. From Cora.

    My clues were rich. A complete address plus names including Ida Martin, Cora, Harry, Ira and Lula. I judged by the date of the postmark and it being addressed to “Miss” that Ida was a probably a young girl and, therefore, born after 1890. I easily found a census report listing Ida Martin, age 37, living in Pennsylvania with her widowed mother, Nellie Martin, age 57. Ida’s birthdate was approximately 1893 making her 17 at the time she received the postcard. Further searches yielded few details since it seems Ida never married or had children.

    I turned my search to Nellie. Combing through her records, I discovered her maiden name was Bishop and had sisters named Cora andLula and a brother named Ira! A jolt of adrenaline shot through me. I got antsy pants as I put dots together and searched Cora Martin’s records to find out who she married. Her husband’s name? Harrison. 

    Bingo! I had found them! Nellie’s siblings Cora, Lula, Ira and Ida were all actually around the same age as Nellie’s daughter Ida. I emailed the few Ancestry users that had the members in their tree and forwarded them the photos of the postcard. They all replied with overwhelming glee at the discovery of what probably seemed humdrum to Cora at the time. Seeing the names of family, the street where they lived, a simple day in their life and, especially, seeing the handwriting fade where Cora needed to dip her pen in a well to freshen the ink transported us all to another place.

    My efforts did not go unrewarded. One Ancestry user emailed me back to say that while researching Nellie (Bishop) Martin, she discovered an author named Clara Gillow Clark had written a book. It was a children’s book about her great grandmother named Nellie Bishop.

    I know. Right?!

    A lump grew in my throat and, again, I was struck with deep emotion. Nellie and her daughter Ida will be more than a simple sentence, too.

    The irony of this story is that the internet is at once the thing that allowed this to happen and the thing that is making precious documents like these extinct. Archived newspaper articles and handwritten letters serve as tangible wrinkles in time allowing us to travel across decades. One hundred and two years from now, will your great grandchild cherish your Facebook postings?

    ~~
    Kambri

    Cora’s card if she were to write it to Ida today:

     

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Rock House

    Step Away from the Mason Jar!

    I need an intervention to cure my mason jar craft addiction. In addition to turning a tiny jar into a sewing kit, I’ve made two mason jar match holders (simply stick a bunch of matches in a mason jar and hot glue some sand paper to the circular portion of the lid. But be sure to get strike anywhere matches) and mason jar salt container spout thingy. Lest mason jars have all the fun, I ate over a pound of cornichons so I could turn the empty jars into light fixtures.

    I’ve also been busy priming and painting wooden picture frames, a hat stand, a hideous lamp, a wooden plate shelf/rack and plain old 2x4s. The guy who restored the home from 2001-2007, didn’t put up drywall in the bedroom. It’s a style choice of his which we don’t mind. We painted it a very light blue, but without drywall there’s no real way to hang anything. So, I got some 2x4s cut down to size which, after the priming is dry, I will paint & install horizontally between the studs to create “shelves”. I think it’s a pretty good idea / solution. We’ll see!

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life

    Media Maven

    While rifling through boxes recently, I found a little “time capsule” I’d made myself the summer I turned twelve-years-old. I’d read the suggestion in a magazine and haphazardly filled an empty stationery box with cards, letters and handwritten notes on what movies I’d seen that summer and the current retail value of my library’s inventory.

    I thought it’d be fun to chronicle my summer of 2012 since I’m actually enjoying being in the audience again. See, in 2006, the comedy nightclub Comix opened and would exist for four years. My personal life did not. I lived, ate, drank, and slept there. Then I wrote & published a book, and I’ve since lived, eaten, drunk and dreamt about book stuff. Which brings us to present day. I started mentoring a girl and between tour dates cherished the R&R time. I’ve taken all of August off which might bleed into September and, holy mother, I’m making up for lost time.

    Below is a list of media I’ve consumed in the last couple of months in NYC. This isn’t comprehensive as I just now thought about chronicling my viewing and reading pleasures but will give you an idea of what I like. Please, please, please submit any recommendations in the comments below. Okay, here we go!

    TV

    • Olympics XXX!!! (I don’t have any television at the cabin but thankfully NBC has live streaming & full replays. O’er the land of the FREE! And the HOME of theeeeeeeeee BRAAAAAAVEEE! Man, I love the Olympics. Ever since Dorothy Hamill and especially because of the 1984 Olympics in LA. Deal. Sealed.)
    • The Wire (Currently on season 1, episode 4. Don’t ruin it a-hole. Yes, I realize I’m 10 years late getting started but, still, shut up with your stupid spoilers.)
    • Friday Night Lights (Waiting for the final season to be released on Netflix. Again. Zip yo’ lip, mofo!)
    • Breaking Bad (Christian is behind on season 4, but I’m not watching the final season live. So, feel free to ruin it for him. I’m good.)
    • Downton Abbey (PBS!!!)
    • Dateline (The husband did it!)
    • 48 Hours Mystery (The husband did it again!)
    • Forensic Files (The husband did it but they’ll show you how!)
    • Veep (Julia Louis-Dreyfus continues to be one of my favorite comedic actresses of all time. I can actually pinpoint the first time I saw her on re-runs of a a short-lived sitcom called “Day by Day” and made a point to tell everyone I knew that she was worth watching. Then Seinfeld hit and I was all like, “I TOLD YOU!”)
    • Arrested Development (Again. Worth it.)
    • Hatfield & McCoys (Not finished with this one but enjoyed the first part. I saw Mare in “Tribes” Off-Broadway a few weeks ago and was reminded that I didn’t finish it.)
    • Cheers (It holds up 20 years later. Classic!)
    • Louie (I feel like I should, ya know?)
    • The Walking Dead (Enjoyed the 1st episode so will definitely watch more.)
    • Sons of Anarchy (Wow. This is cheesy and awful. Smart people I know watch this show. I’m dumbfounded.)

    –I know I’m missing “Modern Family” on this list but Netflix only has it available on DVD, not streaming, so I’d rather wait till that happens or get it another way.

    Reality Game Shows*

    • Biggest Loser (Or, as Christian calls it, “The Fattest Fatty”. Hey, he was a fatty once, he’s allowed.)
    • American Idol (I’m not done with this one yet. Judges were lame, sure, but man…the talent was crazy good.)
    • Survivor (I remember seeing the first commercial for this when I was living in a penthouse in Cincinnati. I thought it sounded like the most incredible sociological experiment ever. It’s devolved into a kind of rote game show, but the characters generally keep it interesting.)
    • The Amazing Race (I usually forget about or lose interest in this one even though I so admire the logistical chess game that producing it must be. Also, I love that it shows all sorts of religions, races, disabilities, sexual identities, etc. {Wait, what is etc. in this case? I dunno…whatever}. But, flipping sports never fail to go long and ruin my DVR taping and pfft…I’m behind, not emotionally caught up and just say F it.)

    *I don’t watch reality TV and have no interest in it. But a good contest with genuine, heart, talent or strategy & I’m in!

    Movies

    • Ides of March
    • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
    • Reality Bites
    • Transamerica (Wow. Felicity Huffman deserved all the accolades she received for portraying a pre-op transgendered man. Picked up this DVD for 1.00 a that bizarre auction in Liberty, NY.)
    • Drive (Ryan Gosling! Gory murders!)
    • Sons of Anarchy (The pilot was really cheesy. We own the first season {I have no idea why or how. Maybe Christian bought it.} so I will probably end up watching more episodes, but, yeah…it’s bad.)
    • Far From Heaven (At the AMMI with a talkback & Q&A with director Todd Haynes, costume designer Sandy Powell & production designer Mark Friedberg. I’m so glad I didn’t see this movie when it first came out in 2002. I didn’t know it was a melodrama and am certain I wouldn’t have appreciated it as such. Amazing night.)
    • The Age of Innocence (Also at the AMMI introduced by Martin Scorcese himself. You know, Marty, the director? Another melodrama but a different age. Heh.)
    • Finding Nemo (Pixar owns my heart. Sigh.)
    • Brave (Well, okay, they don’t *own* it. This is my least favorite Pixar movie but still enjoyable. It was awesome to see a girl with skills and courage in a powerful role. Perfect for taking my protege.)
    • The Help (Loved it!)
    • Crazy, Stupid, Love (Loved this one, too!)
    • Easy A (Cute. Clearly was on an Emma Stone kick.)
    • Bad Teacher (Ridiculous at times, but fun. Cameron Diaz is irresistible to me.)
    • Stranger Than Fiction (Interesting attempt at a sort of alternate reality rom-com. Really great ending.)
    • The Strangers (A really, really, really terrible idea to watch this alone in the cabin. Worst night of sleep ever.)
    • Hugo (Meh. Not sure what the big deal is. Maybe should have seen it at the theater.)
    • Our Idiot Brother (Paul Rudd is also irresistible to me. He & Cameron Diaz should give me their baby to raise.)
    • Midnight in Paris (Lovely.)
    • Martha Marcy May Marlene (Meh.)
    • Take Shelter (Meh.)
    • Young Adult (Enjoyed it but, like Bridesmaids, there was a meltdown-in-front-of-a-group scene that is just not believable. Took me out of it for a bit, but I really liked it.)
    • Peep World (Meh.)
    • The Pirates: Band of Misfits 3D (Glad for the 3D part because my protege J had a hard time following the accents and foreign vernacular. But she did enjoy it and ended up learning about Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria & dodo birds, all three of which came up in subsequent outings to museums.)
    • Mamma Mia (Got this for $1.00 at a garage sale on 8.11 & watched the same night. I’d seen the musical on Braodway when it first opened & surprisingly enjoyed it. The movie was fun, too. It’s hard not to like Meryl Streep being fun, sexy & silly. I hope I get to be her when I grow up.)

    –Watching Moneyball & Drive this weekend.

    Documentaries*

    • Ken Burns’ The Civil War (Currently about half-way through. It’s dense and so I have to be in the right mood to really immerse myself.)
    • The Wild and Wonderful Whites (Wow.)
    • Being Elmo (Watched this after meeting Kevin & Elmo for a show I brought to the 92YTribeca. Loved him and so, of course, loved his doc.)
    • Prodigal Sons (Bizarre twist but I lost interest a few times.)
    • One Nation Under God (
    • TEDTalks (These are short & sweet so make for great viewing on the treadmill. I’m only a few in, but am enjoying them.)

    *I normally watch documentaries more than any other genre. Lately, I’ve run out of ones to watch but still love recommendations.

    Books*

    • The Long Goodbye (currently reading at super quick clip)
    • How to Be Black#
    • Guts#
    • Kasher in the Rye#
    • The Book of Drugs#
    • Have You Found Her#
    • Wild (meh)
    • A Piece of Cake (Amazing story of recovery & redemption but, crikey, she could’ve used an aggressive editor or hired a ghost writer. It’s a 325 page story drawn out to 480 pages. It starts out strong then gets really repetitive. It’s a fast read, though, and I skimmed through parts.)
    • French Lessons (Actually a book on tape that I won in a raffle. Fiction /romance which is definitely not my “thing” so can’t fairly rate it for someone who does like the genre. It did make the driving to & from the cabin more interesting and made me want to listen to more books.)

    *Most books I’ve read lately were written by friends & acquaintances indicated with # above and, therefore, unreviewed. I haven’t ventured out beyond that. (I prefer non-fiction, but love a good mystery / suspense tale.)

    Okay, so that is a pretty good summation of the last couple of months. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things and will continue to revise this post through Labor Day.

    ~~Kambri
    Oh! And museums & zoos & stuff! I’ve been to a crap ton! In addition to the dozens of things I’ve visited in each city I’ve tours, in NYC I’ve gone to The Spy Exhibit at Discovery Center in Times Square, The New York Aquarium at Coney Island, The AMMI (I’m a member, duh), American Museum of Natural History, The Central Park Zoo, Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest, and Chuck E. Cheese.

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life

    5 Minute Mason Jar Craft Project

    At my book launch party, Nichelle Stephens gave me a yummy little cupcake in a jar. I thought the jar itself was so cute, I hung on to it figuring I’d find a use for it some day. And the day has come! Mindy Raf told me about buzz feed’s 41 things to do with mason jars which led to a Pinterest wormhole which led to this. I had a cheap little emergency sewing kit in a case that always popped open in my junk drawer. I also happened to have some batting (don’t ask) and a scrap burlap sack that I got at a junk store for 50 cents and voila! A little sewing kit pin cushion thing:

  • All Blog Entries,  Comedy

    Magic Mike Sequel – Exclusive Photos!

    I have it on good authority that there is a sequel to Magic Mike in the works and have exclusive, never before seen photos from the set! If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read further.

    When asked about a follow-up, Tatum told Glamour U.K., “Yes, yes and yes! We’re working on the concept now. We want to flip the script and make it bigger.”

    The movie begins where the original left off: Mike, portrayed by hot piece of beefcake (okay, “actor”) Channing Tatum, has quit stripping and is languishing bored and broke. While scouring Craig’s List, he spies an ad for a tryout to join the U.S. Water Polo team. In a flip of the original, Mike is now the apprentice being trained by “Jake”, the seasoned but aging veteran star of the team whom the Olympics and gold medal have eluded, rumored to be portrayed by Colin Farrell.

    Underwater cameras catch plenty of tugging and pulling on tiny Speedos, man-on-man contact and gratuitous butt shots. Fans of Matthew McConaughey don’t fret. You will get another glimpse of his scantily clad taint when the polo team has a fun romp at Miami Beach for a round of volleyball and runs in to the strip club entrepreneur extraordinaire. Slow motion dives into the sand? Alright, alright, alright!

    Conflict ensues as the Olympic Games begin and the media gets wind of Mike’s scandalous former gig. The team suspends him as the controversy unfolds but when Jake is injured they pull Mike from the locker room. He rejoins the team and leads the U.S. team in an epic, come from behind (heh) win of the GOLD MEDAL!!! Jake has his long-awaited glory and Mike is featured on the boxes of Wheaties.

    Roll credits.

    Now, on to the honey shots:

      

  • All Blog Entries,  Books & Publishing,  PR & Marketing,  Travel

    Fall Dates

    I’ve had a whirlwind tour for my book Burn Down the Ground. My last out-of-state event in Cleveland for the regional conference of the National Black Deaf Advocates was amazing, but I’m happy to take all of August off to recharge. Dates booked for this fall are below and details are on my calendar. If you want me at your event or store –especially if it coordinates with dates already booked below– email me at kambricrews@Gmail.com

    September
    17 – NYC for Bare! at the PIT
    19 – NYC for That’s What She Said at Public Assembly
    26 – NYC for the How I Learned series at Happy Ending Lounge

    October
    13  – Portland, OR – Wordstock Book Festival
    13 – Cannon Beach, OR – Cannon Beach Library
    18 – Winstead, CT – North Connecticut Community College (Free & ASL interpreted)
    20 – Cincinnati, OH – Books by the Bank Book Festival
    23 – Lansing, MI – Schuler Books
    24 & 25 – Grand Rapids, MI – Grand Rapids Community College (Free & ASL interpreted)
    27 – Texas Book Festival (Free & ASL interpreted)
    29 – Montgomery, TX – Montgomery Middle School
    30 – Conroe, TX – Hauke Alternative School

    November
    1 – Austin, TX – Book Woman book store (Free & ASL interpreted)
    7 – Washington, DC – Bare! at Black Fox Lounge
    10 – Madison, WI – Wisconsin Book Festival
    14 – New York, NY – Administration for Children’s Services

    January 2013
    17 – 20 – Jefferson, TX – Girlfriend Weekend – Pulpwood Queens Book Club

  • PR & Marketing

    Author Kambri Crews at the Fort Worth Library

    Author Kambri Crews Coming to Fort Worth Library
    North Richland Hills Native to Read, Sign Books & Answer Questions About Her Memoir

    Fort Worth, Texas — The Fort Worth Library is pleased to welcome Kambri Crews, author of Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir (Random House) on Saturday, June 30, at 2PM. Crews will be signing books, taking questions from the audience, and reading from her memoir as part of the library’s Summer Reading Series. Crews will also appear at the Northeast Mall Barnes and Noble in Hurst, Texas, on Sunday, July 1st at 3PM.

    Burn Down the Ground is Crews’ powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir about her unconventional childhood living with deaf parents in a tin shed in rural Texas (Crews is not deaf), and her attempts to reconcile that harrowing childhood to her present life—one in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison for attempted murder.

    A Texas native, Crews now runs her own PR and production company in New York City. A renowned storyteller and public speaker, she has performed in New York at The Moth’s Mainstage, The 92Y, UCB Theatre, and Gotham Comedy Club, and given speeches at SXSW (South by Southwest) and DeafHope, a nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence against deaf women and children.

    Crews’s memoir has received praise from esteemed publications such as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, ELLE magazine, and Library Journal.

    SAT, JUN 30 @ 2PM – 3:30PM
    Fort Worth Public Library
    500 W 3rd Street
    Fort Worth, Texas

    FREE! Kambri will tell a story, read from her book, conduct a Q&A and sign copies of her memoir. Books will be available for purchase. ASL interpretation will be provided!

    SUN, JUL 1 @ 3PM – 4:30PM
    Barnes & Noble
    861 NE Mall Blvd
    Hurst, TX 76053
    817-284-1244

    FREE! Kambri will tell a story, read from her book, conduct a Q&A and sign copies of her memoir. Books will be available for purchase. ASL interpretation will be provided upon request. Email Kambri@KambriCrews.com.

    PRAISE FOR BURN DOWN THE GROUND:

    “Poignant and unsettling.” —Kirkus Reviews

     “A compelling testament to the strength of the human spirit.”—Booklist

    “Crews’ account (the title refers to lighting brush on fire to clear out snakes) is as well-paced and stirring as a novel. In her fluid narrative (she’s also a storyteller on the side, a gig that helped her develop this book), Crews neither wallows in self-pity nor plays for cheap black-comedic yuks. Instead, this book stands out for what matters most: Crews’ story, bluntly told.” —Elle magazine

    “Harrowing…A remarkable odyssey of scorched earth, collateral damage, and survival.” —Publishers Weekly

    *Read a FREE excerpt *         *Read reviews & blurbs*      *View pictures of the tin shed*

    ###

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Mentoring,  NYC

    Life is Fun

    A 21st century birthday is like no other thanks to Facebook giving folks the heads up. Thank you everyone for the emails & comments & phone calls & texts. It never fails to overwhelm.

    Christian was headlining in Atlanta, so I chose to spend my 41st birthday with my lice-free, nine-year-old protégé “J” from Hour Children, a non-profit dedicated to supporting incarcerated women and their children. After two postponed dates due to “dem bugs” infesting her head, I took her to the Spy Exhibit at Discovery Time Square Museum followed by ice cream for dinner.

    During our subway ride she gave me a birthday card. She could hardly contain her excitement as I opened it and giggled and squirmed in her seat like she might pee herself. If she had, it’s the NYC subway so no big whoop. Pee on yourself all you want little lady. Here is the card:

     

    Man, you could have ended my birthday right then and there before we even got to DO anything and I would’ve been fine with that. What more could I get than the love, admiration and appreciation of a little girl? Tears, people. Gives me big ol’ crocodile tears.

    But, we were on the subway on our way to learn about spies! Taking a kid whose parents are in jail to an exhibit about all sorts of illegal activities and the consequences of such was either a bright idea or a really dumb one. But it was interactive, educational and fun. We took our photos & added wigs, glasses, facial hair and hats to disguise our images and there was a laser maze we navigated like Catherine Zeta Jones in “Entrapment”. But my derriere was less like this:

    And more like this:

     

    In spite of all the fun things, we surprisingly spent most of our time going over a timeline of major world events. Using a touch screen, we selected a year which then gave us dates to choose. One at a time, I educated her on events like the falling of the Berlin Wall, World Wars and Vietnam. Man, kids don’t know ANYTHING!

    I kept expecting her to get bored at the history lesson, but she wanted to know more. Especially about the capturing of terrorists, 9/11 and the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It was his photo on the big screen that had attracted J to the exhibit.

    “I’ve seen his picture on TV!” She said as she ran over to the display.

    I trailed after her. “Oh, yeah, that’s Osama Bin Laden.”

    “Who’s that?”

    “He masterminded 9/11. Have you heard about that or the World Trade Center?”

    Nope. She hadn’t. She didn’t know about the buildings, the planes, nothing. She wasn’t even born. So with each event on the timeline I explained the whole thing. “I don’t like that man!”

    Yeah, me either, kid. Me either. All this talk led to more questions like just why did he hate us so much which led to thoughtful discussions about different religions, extremists, and tolerance. She’s a smart one this girl and quick and thoughtful. I don’t know how often, if ever, current events & such heavy dialogue are part of her life but I’m glad to be there to answer her questions with patience and honesty.

    As we meandered through Times Square, we saw all sorts of weirdos, people in costumes, a guy with eight rats dyed a rainbow of colors sitting on his shoulders and a beautiful dragonfly that seemed attracted to me & J. Let me repeat that: we saw a DRAGONFLY in TIMES SQUARE. I’ve lived here 12 years and have never seen a dragonfly in a park let alone Times Square. It flew with us for a block and even hitched a ride on her arm.

    She kept saying this was the “most fun ever” then added, “Weird, but fun.”

    I told you she’s smart. Life is fun. Weird, but fun.

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    Birthday Wishes & Caviar Dreams

    I’ve never asked for anything from my friends for my birthday. UNTIL TODAY!

    Please buy my book BURN DOWN THE GROUND: A MEMOIR! Share it. Click “Like”. And, hey, while you’re there, maybe type up a quick review. Just a line or ten.

    Are you in DFW? Come see me at the Fort Worth Library or the Hurst Barnes & Noble.

    Easy purchase links: WalMartTargetAmazonBarnes & NobleiTunesIndie Bound or, for personalized copies, on KambriCrews.com

    For you fellow bookworms, rate it on GoodReads.com!
    As a big ol’ thank you in advance, here’s a fun fact followed by this year’s card from My Jailed Deaf Dad:

    I was born on June 22, 1971, the summer solstice. A June 22 solstice will not occur until June 22, 2203. That’s how motherfucking special I am! (Along with all the thousands of other people born that day proving that McCullough, Jr. dude right. I’m not that special.)

    And now for the pièce de résistance, this year’s card* drawn by My Jailed Deaf Dad:

  • All Blog Entries,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  Family & Life,  My Jailed Deaf Dad

    Happy Fool Day!

    Another great, funny drawing from Dad for my husband Christian’s birthday which is on April Fool’s Day. For new readers, Christian is a stand up comedian. I’m not sure why I look like a Latina.

    Click here  for last year’s birthday card from Dad to Christian.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  Family & Life

    Party Video & Thanks!

    Wow, what an amazing night I had celebrating the launch of BURN DOWN THE GROUND: A MEMOIR. It was like a wedding! I did not have nearly enough face time with my friends but think I at least greeted and thanked them all. My mother was on CLOUD NINE with all the well wishes, kind words, support and love everyone selflessly showed her and me. Even the manager Lillie & bartender Doug at Rodeo Bar agreed: I have amazing friends. They had as much fun as we did! You should absolutely have your event there. It was effortless.

    The gift bags were all snapped up so everyone got to enjoy Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa donated by my Richland High School guidance counselor Mrs. Angela Renfro, hilarious & cheeky fortune cookies donated by IllFortune.net, really clever & fun bungee bookmarks by Twin Cottage Industries and Admit Two passes to Gotham Comedy Club.

    Christian had a custom cake made that has to be seen to be believed. It was Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon” album but my name replaced Ozzy’s, BURN DOWN THE GROUND replaced “Bark at the Moon” and my face was superimposed on the werewolf’s. I gotta submit it to CakeWrecks.com. Weird and fun.

    The bags themselves had my book cover on the front and were provided by my dear, dear high school & Tex in the City friend Scott Ramsey. As an added surprise, Shelby Rodriguez, the chef of the now closed Comix, made brownies from scratch with the help of another lovely Comix friend John Meyers. They even showed up early and helped put all the bags together! I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve so much love and wonderful friendship, but I am ever grateful.

    Okay, now on to the fun stuff! More pics and video of the night to come, but in the meantime my pal Lisa shared a snippet of my mom and I singing in American Sign Language (ASL). Here it is for your viewing pleasure!

    RT @LisaLampanelli: My wonderful friend @Kambri & her mom at her book launch party last nite @RodeoBar. U guys rock! BTW buy her book NOW!

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  • All Blog Entries,  Books & Publishing

    Happy Birthday to My Book!

    Happy birthday to my book!
    Happy birthday to my book!
    Happy birthday dear Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir!
    Happy birthday to my book!

    After a long gestation process, I’m happy to announce the birth of my book Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir. The reviews are in and they’re raves!

    Easy purchase links: WalMartTargetAmazonBarnes & NobleiTunesIndie Bound and on KambriCrews.com

    “Poignant and unsettling.” —Kirkus Reviews

    “Crews’ story has heartbreaking depth and complexity...this is a rich read.” —Library Journal

    A compelling testament to the strength of the human spirit.”—Booklist

    “Harrowing . . . A remarkable odyssey of scorched earth, collateral damage, and survival.” —Publishers Weekly

     “Crews’ account (the title refers to lighting brush on fire to clear out snakes) is as well-paced and stirring as a novel. In her fluid narrative (she’s also a storyteller on the side, a gig that helped her develop this book), Crews neither wallows in self-pity nor plays for cheap black-comedic yuks. Instead, this book stands out for what matters most: Crews’ story, bluntly told.” —Elle magazine

    ABOUT THE BOOK

    For fans of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, an unflinching, emotional memoir by the hearing daughter of two deaf parents, about the rampant dysfunction of her rural Texas childhood and the searing violence that left her father serving a twenty-year prison sentence.

    Successful New York producer and publicist Kambri Crews always knew that her childhood was unusual– she spent much of it in a tin shack deep with her family in the woods of Texas. But when, in her early 30s, her charismatic and adored father is sentenced to twenty years in prison for stabbing and nearly killing his girlfriend, she must confront for the first time his violent, destructive behavior. In her brutally honest, completely captivating memoir, Crews struggles to forge a relationship with her incarcerated father and revisits her unconventional family and the long road she took to her current life

    Read a FREE excerpt  * Read reviews & blurbs  * View pictures of the tin shed

  • All Blog Entries,  Books & Publishing,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  Family & Life,  PR & Marketing,  Writing

    I Read it for the Articles, I Swear!

    Y’all. Mom found my Penthouse magazine while searching my office for paper!

    I flew Mom up to New York City so she could attend my book launch party. Not just any book…my first book. A memoir, you know, about my whole life. And the publishing process took four years. Having a publication date is a monumental event –much like a wedding or a birth– and I couldn’t NOT have Mom here to celebrate. It’s her life, too. Plus, I had a fun idea for her and I to perform a little something at my party*. It would make the event even more special for her and my guests.

    Mom arrived and we had a few days of tromping around New York City and rehearsing our surprise treat. I was also dragging her around Manhattan on not-so-fun errands in rainy weather with her achy knee and my split jeans. In the book, I divulged many things that Mom would probably prefer to keep in the closet with the other dusty skeletons. The time for her to accept that our laundry was about to be aired and for me to unleash my life to anonymous reviewers was drawing near.

    Shit was getting real. Mad real.Penthouse

    To distract us and work on something that had zilch to do with book stuff, I suggested she and I work on our new Ancestry.com project. Her face said it all: “GREAT IDEA!”

    She leapt up and said, “I’ll grab some paper.”

    Quicker than a wink, she was at my office printer.

    My printer.

    PRECISELY WHERE I’D HIDDEN MY PENTHOUSE! I thought that had been the perfect spot for it, but lo how wrong I was.

    “Why did I have a Penthouse?” you ask.

    For the articles, of course. Duh. Seriously! I swear! Well, one article in particular: a review for my book. It was a good review, too.

    So, why hide it then? Well, I know my mom better than most people and I knew –could lay my life on it– that she would take offense to it. Not because of the vaginas, boobs, penises and balls, silly, but because of the very first line:

    “Kambri Crews grew up dirt poor…”

    Whether you agree or disagree with that sentence, makes no difference. Mom disagrees with it and vehemently so. It’s one of those things that really gets under her skin in a hot second. It’s a pride thing. The same way I fight tooth and nail over small injustices. Justice is my thing. Pride is hers. SO…anyway…

    In the mere seconds it took her to fly off the couch into my office heading straight for the offending material, two choices flashed through my mind:

    Me & Mom

    1) Let Mom think I had a girly magazine hidden in my office and was possibly a closeted lesbian; or

    2) Show Mom the review and face the ensuing argument.

    I can’t have Mom thinking I like looking at nekkid girls! EEEEEWWW! So, I swallowed my fear and said, “Oh, hey, my Penthouse…did you see the review?”

    Instant relief swept across her face. I cringe and laugh out loud thinking of what must’ve gone through her mind in those brief moments.

    As predicted, she was offended. We hashed it out: There are finite lines in a girly magazine; ya gotta have a strong lede. We were poor to some people and had it good compared to others…it depends on perspective. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    At the end of the day, I wrote a book. It got reviewed in a major magazine. It was lauded. Let’s celebrate! And, boy, did we ever! We raised our glasses and laughed and hugged and smiled till our faces hurt.

    We’re done keeping secrets, she and I. If there’s anything writing a memoir taught me it is this:  While it might hurt to bare the truth, secrets will make you sick. They will corrode your love and trust until all that’s left is a rusty heap of worthless scrap.

    So, what did Mom think of the book? Don’t ask me, read her interview in Time Out New York!

    *Here’s the fun idea I had for my book party. Enjoy!

  • All Blog Entries,  Books & Publishing,  Family & Life,  NYC

    NYC: If You Can Make it Here…

    Gift Bags

    A colossally badday in NYC!

    I was walking around in the rain, carrying two heavy bags filled paper sacks (in the rain!) that are meant for my book launch party. I was hangry, cold yet sweaty from wearing an overcoat while slogging through the sloppy streets, futilely trying to use an umbrella, but can’t go any faster because my mom is trailing behind me with her bum knee. I hang up a call that was  frustrating PR news, and that’s when Mom calls from behind me:

    “Kambri? I think your jeans are split.”

    OF COURSE THEY ARE!

    And now there’s a giant hole near my ass, the day can screw me a little easier now!

    “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere…”

    So the song goes. People assume this line is true because of the cut-throat competition, the hordes of talent that live and work in this town. I think it’s much simpler than that. If you’re not wealthy, day-to-day life in NYC can be tough and unrelenting. It’s days just like today that make many a newbie throw up their hands and say, “I quit! You win New York! You win you filthy, filthy whore.”

    If one can suck it up and stickit out, one can be rewarded with the best the City has to offer. Then after a few years, if one chooses to leave, the world is a much simpler place to navigate and dominate. A world in which you own a car and have a place to park it and a dishwasher and laundry facilities inside your very own home. Like the Jetsons! Can you imagine?

    This city can be like an abusive boyfriend. Every now and then it beats you up, but then it loves you harder and better than before as if to say, “I’m sorry. Truly. Don’t leave me…see, look how amazing I can be?”

    In my case, it was having my book published by Random House, throwing an amazing party with free (paper) gift bags filled with free goodies, free Lone Star Beer, bonafide celebrities blurbing my book and at my event to help celebrate. By the end of the night, I’d forgotten about the beating NYC had given me and decided to give it one more chance.

    Mom & Me Songs in ASLMomMe, Lisa Lampanelli & MomMom & Her iPhoneMom & My BookKambriKambri Bob, Me, Christian & MomCake WreckSonya, Me & RyanME!The BookChristianPerformingBright Sunshiney DayBright Sunshiney DayGone!Stop!Me, Lisa Lampanelli & MomSonya, Me & RyanGift Bags

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    Take This Job & Shove It!

    I just received a text from my mom that read: I’m RETIRED!

    It made me strangely weepy. My mom is the hardest working person I know. She used to build helicopters and was in a Budweiser commercial during the “For all you do, this Bud’s for you!” advertising phase.

    My mom helped wire a helicopter for the NYPD and got a hat from it. My dad put it in the rear dash of our junky Thunderbird to try to deter cops from pulling him over. It didn’t work. We got pulled over one day and he grabbed the NYPD hat to try to butter up the officer. I was with him and acted as his interpreter. My dad told the truth to me, and I interpreted a lie to the cop which was better. It worked. We didn’t need the hat.

    Years later, when I first moved to NYC, I worked for the attorney that represented the NYPD in their precedent-setting licensing efforts and confiscated unlicensed NYPD hats. Funny how things go full circle.

    Throughout my life, Mom never once turned down overtime and sometimes logged as many as 80 hours a week. Congratulations to her for finally being able to take a break and reap the benefits of a lifetime of hard work. Mom, for all you do, this Bud’s for you.*

    *Bud sucks. How about I give you a Brooklyn Lager?

  • All Blog Entries,  NYC

    Cafe Wha? The Hell!

    Y’all. Apparently Van Halen is playing Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village right now and not a single one of you told me. Now how am I supposed to meet Diamond Dave if y’all keep failing me like this? I’ve got his bim bam banana pops right here!

    I’m not there but some of my “friends” are. I say “friends” in quotes because they are dead to me now.*

    To add insult to injury, Van Halen announced their tour dates and are playing the Garden on guess which night? MY FLIPPING BOOK RELEASE / PARTY NIGHT!

    Oh Heavens, I curse thee for your cruel Gift of the Magi crap you’re pulling.

    Looks like fans will be disappointed to see Sammy Hagar on stage because I am totally going to pull a Casey Anthony and chloroform Diamond Dave, stuff him in my trunk and bring him to my party. He might be dead but HE WILL BE THERE!

    I’m actually tempted to switch the party to February 29th so Dave can attend. When I mentioned my idea to Christian he said, “It’s like I need to tell you there is no Santa Claus.” Pfft. Party pooper. He also totally gave me the green light to have sex with Dave (even though I never asked to and don’t think I’d want to) but if that makes Dave more excited about coming to my book party then, hey, let’s go for it. (I’m such a mensch.)
    ‎*Except for Larry Getlen. He’s there and he’s still my friend. But, Larry, don’t freak out, but I want to kill you and wear your skin so I can pretend to be you and get in to see them. Please tell me they were awesome and that Dave kicked butt.
  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Rock House

    Through the Looking Glass

    Today, I spoke to three people who didn’t have a single tooth in their heads.*

    After a week of staying holed up in our cabin and not seeing or speaking to a human other than my husband, Christian convinced me that I needed to venture outside. He’d been out several times and felt that my lingering fatigue and lack of motivation was due to some stink needing to be blown off. So, we looked up an antiques auction and set out for an adventure.

    Thirty minutes later we pulled up to building occupied by every weirdo in Sullivan County.** This auction house was really a sad little junk store selling off some recently deceased person’s effects. To pull in substantially better income, they should install a two-sided mirror and charge admission to stare at its customers in their natural habitat. They were a wild, motley crew who all seemed to know one another, for better or for worse, and freely exchanged pleasantries and ribbed each other. This was going to be fun. Interesting, and fun.

    A friendly, 20-something young woman greeted us and gave us our auction number: 121 written in Sharpie on the back of a paper plate worn so thin it felt like tissue and couldn’t have held a dollop of Cool Whip. The girl was a bit plump, not unattractive, and showed no signs of a meth habit yet she was as toothless as the day she was born. Two rows of her pink fleshy gums glistened with saliva.

    We passed a row of decrepit men waiting on discarded furniture and made our way inside to the “showroom”. I was still contemplating what could have caused such a young girl to lose Every Single Tooth in her head when I discovered that Christian and I had more teeth between the two of us than everyone in the showroom combined. Where are we?

    That’s when I spoke to the second toothless person. She was a middle-aged fellow shopper browsing rows of boxed up, dusty, broken household items. She called dibs on a fur coat and shrieked at anyone who dared fondle it. She threatened to shoot one man who tried it on. (To be fair, he was plastered and nearly ripped it.) She was joking (I think) but, well, I would not be testing her.

    The third toothless woman was 50-something and, like the first, worked for the auction house. She turned off an old tube television that was buzzing and flickering, the screen stuck on the same image. “Oh, were you watching that?” No, we assured her, we were not. I laughed because I was sure she was joking. She was not. Probably because it’s quite possible her other clientele would be content to watch a buzzing frozen screen.

    As we contemplated leaving–other than the sideshow, there was nothing of interest for us there save for a nightstand– a short young man with a trucker hat and flannel shirt quickly entered the showroom, scanned the room as though he were looking for something in particular, then locked eyes with me. A huge grin (several teeth still intact) spread across his face as he turned around and ran out as quickly as he’d come in. He’d come in to gawk at me. I was on the inside of the two-way mirror.

    I’m the weirdo, here.

    But wait a second. My friend Jim Hall once wrote a letter of recommendation for me for my application to join the Peace Corps. He compared me to the girl in To Kill a Mockingbird. In fact, he used to call me by her nickname “Scout” as he mentored me at FirstMerit in Akron, Ohio. Jim was convinced that I had bravery in my blood and, more importantly, a specific kind of humility that comes only from a hardscrabble life living amongst and fiercely protecting physically and mentally challenged humans. “She is not afraid of the Boo Radleys in the world,” he had written. “Because she is of them. She is them.”

    That’s why I had kissed a drunk, toothless homeless man on the streets of NYC one day.***

    “It’s my berrff-day!” He had shouted, jumping in front of me and my friend Keith, blocking our path. Keith had been visibly shaken and tensed up as the very happy, very inebriated man slung around a bottle of hooch and stood too close.

    “It is?!” I had shouted back. “Yep,” he had slurred. “I’m FITTY!”

    “Fifty? WOW! Well, happy birthday to you!” I squeezed his cheeks, puckering his lips and gave him a big kiss. He lifted me off the sidewalk (or maybe I lifted him) and we hugged. It was a good hug, too.

    “Happy birthday!” I had sung out again as Keith and I continued toward our red carpet party.

    “What the hell just happened?” Keith had asked.

    “It was his birthday. I just wished him a happy one.”

    Back at the auction house, being gawked at reminded me that I was the outsider here with my full set of perfect white teeth, clean clothes that matched and fit, and body parts intact and functioning at around 90%. But I felt comfortable. I have spent many hours in various holes-in-the-wall with folks as hard up or worse off than these poor folks. It’s just been awhile and the undiluted concentration under one roof was a tad jarring.

    However, as much as I love making chit chat with strangers, whether they be of the freak show variety or not, my husband does not. Christian’s just not the social sort of butterfly and, like my friend Keith, gets squirmy when forced to make small talk.

    So when I informed him that if we did bid on that crappy little nightstand and won, it would mean we had to stay till the end to settle up and collect our goods. The table wasn’t that spectacular and its drawer held remnants of a life recently extinguished:  syringes, used tissues, and medicine bottles filled with pills taken to stave off the inevitable. Christian decided it wasn’t worth the wait or the effort. Agreed! We headed into the entry hall to return our tissue paper plate numbered 121 and, so as not to seem rude, browsed through a rack of used DVDs.****

    While waiting for Christian, I taught a mentally challenged lesbian with enormous, pendulous bra-less breasts***** what foosball is and gabbed about her favorite sports. Might I remind you this is the reason my husband thought I needed to get out of the house in the first place–I NEED to talk to people. She was people and equally desperate to gab.

    “If the Giants win this week they go to the Super Bowl,” she told me. I tried to explain the playoffs and that she was mistaken. There was no convincing her otherwise.

    In medieval times, she may have been a soothsayer or perhaps burned at the stake for witchcraft. Either way, if the Giants go to the Super Bowl, you can bet I will ask her for more predictions. Because I will be back. Because I’m of them and am them, and because I am totally going to bid on that fur coat.

     

    *Oh, there were at least seven other toothless folks there, I just didn’t have conversations with them. And it’s quite possible that their wisdom teeth were present but impacted.

    **I’m sure this is not factually correct.

    ***I say “one day” but I have been known to hug, kiss and give homeless people the actual shirts off my back. I don’t know why. It’s fun. Their faces light up like a kid at Christmas. Maybe one of them will kill me, but I doubt it. If so, all press is good press, right?

    ****They had an excellent selection. We scored Transamerica, Capote, The Warriors, K Street, Shaun of the Dead and Reality Bites for a grand total of $10.

    *****Her breasts are why bras were invented. Christian was amazed that the giant appendages that swung from her body are the same body part that men lust after. They are. Suck on that!