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    Cemeteries & Geocaching

    God, I feel gross.

    I took Griswold to Fosterdale Cemetery this afternoon. There’s a request from a woman on an ancestry forum trying to find her ancestor’s burial plot there and a Geocache happens to be hidden there, too. So, I thought it’d be a nice little adventure with purpose.
    Fosterdale Cemetery founded circa 1873
    The cemetery is a tiny little thing off Route 17B not far from Yasgur’s Farm and Bethel Woods where Woodstock took place. There are a lot of veterans buried here, and many flags decorating headstones were knocked over or the sticks broken from the fierce winds we had a few days back. I was sure to keep Griswold on the paths except for when I uprighted or repaired the flags. I wasn’t able to find the headstone for the ancestry researcher after two sweeps. Bummer.

    I headed over to where the cache was stashed. The description said it was “far away” from grave sites. But my GPS said I was within a foot from it, and I was fairly close to a very elaborate memorial for a young man killed in a car accident on September 5, 2011. I thought I must have my coordinates wrong, because it felt just a little too close to a grave to hide a cache.

    But there it was, buried under some gravel. I opened it, took out a trackable, logged my name and was re-burying it when I noticed a truck driving up. I took a seat on a downed tree and plopped Grizzy on my lap to wait and see where they were going.

    To my horror the truck stopped a few feet from me, the driver got out and knelt down in front of the young man’s grave. When he stood, a male passenger got out and the two of them checked on the shrubs and trees that were planted around the marker (and the cache), cleaned the granite benches engraved “Forever 21”, straightened a cross and spotlight and smoothed out gravel.

    I wanted to get up and walk away but I was frozen with absolute mortification. I had a baseball cap and big sunglasses on so the men couldn’t really see my face, and I didn’t make a peep.

    Here I was having “fun” trekking around for some silly hidden treasure in the same place where they pour out their adoration, devotion and grief by meticulously caring for the dirt that covers this boy they love.

    As they drove off, I started sobbing. Tears poured out of me like a waterfall. Niagara Falls on my face.

    Before coming, I’d worried about taking Griswold to a cemetery out of respect for the dead. It turns out I was the one I should have worried about. Guh.

    I, for one, will never, ever, ever Geocache in a cemetery again. Once home, I logged in to the Geocaching website. The cache was placed in 2010 before this young man died. I logged a note for the owner about what happened and that it was time to move the cache. I hope he does. And I hope Mr. Telesky is resting in peace, and I’m sorry I messed up what should have been a private moment.

    Telesky Memorial

  • All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Family & Life

    Pug Zu = Griswold the Grizz Monster

    For Christian’s birthday, I bought a doggy DNA kit. We got the results today and now we can answer the frequently asked question, “What kind of dog is he?”

    Our little Grizz Monster is a Pug and Shih Tzu mix with some other mixed breeds in his ancestry.

    His curly tail & fawn coloring are all pug, which we suspected. The Shih Tzu was a surprise even though people have asked if he was that or lhasa apso (they’re basically the same breed). We thought for sure terrier was in there. Perhaps that’s part of his mixed breed great grandparents.

    We’ll never know that for sure. But what we do know is that he is perfect and loved.

    Griswold enjoys spring at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.
  • Christian Finnegan,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Uncategorized

    Sugar is the Devil & I’m Possessed!

    Time for an exorcism! Christian and I are five days into a two week detox from the devilish temptation of all things sweet. Happily, it hasn’t been too hard. This is much in part because eight years ago we adopted a pretty much sugar free, non/low-fat, whole grain life following the South Beach Diet. Christian lost 80 pounds and has kept it off for all these years.

    I hesitated even mentioning the SBD because it seems like a fad. But really it’s just the normal way all of us should eat and live. The only “fad” part is Phase 1, the toughest part, which lasts two weeks. This PDF, South Beach Diet Food List, lays it out. Really, two weeks of a life is a blip. Buck up, buttercup.

    This last year (or two?) he and I have gotten lazy. Him due to injuries and me due to visiting all the hotel bars and restaurants this great nation has to offer while on tour. I blame you, Wisconsin! If I were still exercising regularly, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue but travel + me = sloth. The promise of sleeping with blackout curtains in a strange bed and day drinking in a new city never motivates me to pack running shoes.

    The fact that this detox is so much easier this time around tells me we’re not as addicted to bad food. Eight years ago there was a lot of cursing, raised voices and irrational anger. Back then we used to eat pizza and pasta made from white flour, full fat dairy and tons of sugar laden drinks and desserts.

    So far, I’ve had zero cravings and one headache. Christian has craved a beer — normal, since his “office” has a bar and free drinks– and he’s had a few brain farts. For example, I asked him to grab a roll of paper towels. He froze. He started toward the hall closet then froze again. He couldn’t remember where we kept them. We keep them in the same place we’ve always kept them in this apartment we’ve lived in for NINE years.

    Funny & scary what bad food does to our brains. Which brings me to my point: If you are looking to change your eating habits, I’d recommend following this plan. I’m not paid to say so, but Christian should seriously be their spokesperson. So call us, South Beach Diet marketing team!

  • All Blog Entries,  Books & Publishing,  Mentoring

    It’s GREAT!

    My super talented, sweet, funny and dynamo friend and fellow memoirist Sara Benincasa is now a YA author with the publication of GREAT, a contemporary retelling of THE GREAT GATSBY. I was so excited not only to see her back in NYC but to introduce my protege Jeaniah to Sara and a few other friends at the book launch party. Sara read from her novel then signed books as the crowd chit-chatted and ate cake that was designed to look like her book. Clever and yummy and a lovely night.

    My friends are all comedians, actors, writers and artists so they’re not stiff grown ups and immediately treated Jeaniah like a long lost friend. Here’s the conversation we had as we walked away from the party:

    Me: My friends are fun, right?
    J: Yeah and funny! I like being part of the conversation.
    Me: Yeah, nothing beats a good conversation with friends.
    J: I like how the conversation keeps going…like, I make a comment and then they make one and that makes you think of one and then I comment and it goes on and on.

    Thanks to my awesome friends for having a lot to say & being so funny and charming while they do it. She really enjoyed meeting you all & we got some good advice about the upcoming state math tests.

    And, of course, huge congratulations and continued success to Sara who has more books & TV show pilots coming down the pike than I can shake a stick at.

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    My Fool’s Day

    Turning 41 on a Tuesday can be pretty blah. If you looked at our day on paper, it probably was.

    We slept till 10:30 and in between the rush of showering, dog walking, coffee and breakfast, I gave Christian (the birthday boy) his gifts:

    1) A doggy DNA kit for our mutt Griswold,
    2) Tickets to “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” starring Neil Patrick Harris, and
    3) A neon sign from the set of his sitcom Are We There Yet? that an eagle-eyed photographer from the show snagged at a junk store and shipped to me from Connecticut.

    Christian went to therapy and had an MRI for his knee & hip while I worked. Afterward, we took Grizzy to an empty dog park. Bummer. Grizzy was hankering for some play time. We were finally joined by a guy with a rambunctious puppy named Fliffy. Making small talk about our dogs, we asked Fliffy’s dad what breed Fliffy was (poodle, Wheaton terrier mix). He asked what Grizzy was. I said we didn’t know but that I got the doggy DNA kit for Christian’s birthday.

    “Today’s your birthday?” the guy asked as he walked toward Christian with his hand extended to give a shake. “It’s mine, too.”

    Weird! “Happy birthday, Fliffy’s dad!”

    “What year? I’m 1973.”

    WOW! WHOA! WEIRD! What are the odds?

    Hungry, Christian, Grizzy & I left the park for LIC Bar. We ate Vietnamese food and drank beer in the rapidly diminishing afternoon sun followed by dessert at Monika’s Cafe Bar. We came home to swab Grizzy’s cheeks for DNA, watch TV and not much else.

    Turning 41 on a Tuesday can be pretty blah. If you looked at our day on paper, it probably was.

    Christian & Griswold

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life

    April 2014

    Continuing from my goal to remind myself of positive plans, here’s what’s in store for  April. (Click to see January, February, March.)

    * Give two presentations at the Fox Cities Book Festival in Wisconsin.
    * Watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway starring Neil Patrick Harris for my husband’s birthday.
    * Celebrate the release of my husband Christian Finnegan‘s third stand up comedy special THE FUN PART premiering on Netflix. Filmed at the Wilbur Theater in Boston, it is beautifully shot and directed. Don’t have Netflix? It’s available for audio-only (for now) download on iTunes and Amazon.
    * Produce and promote Christian’s solo show THE GORGEOUS MOSAIC at the People’s Improv Theater. It’s 60 mins of his standup & storytelling about his 23 years in NYC and it’s solid. So saith the New York Times, so saith we all.
    * Ride every ride at Coney Island as many times possible in four hours. (Thanks, Living Social!)
    * Take my protege to meet Sara Benincasa at Sara’s book party & reading for her new YA book GREAT. Celebrate good times, come on!
    * Atone for my sin of not watching Game of Thrones by watching all the Game of Thrones.

    March ended up being like February: underachieved. I got sick –again!– and the weather stunk and I’ve been unable to focus. But I did go ice skating with my protege and didn’t fall once in two hours. I tutored her twice a week, too. I don’t know if I was of any help to her, but I liked seeing her so often. My event at RIT/NTID was awesome! Check out the video phone booth and poster from the campus. Let’s see if April can break the trend and actually go as expected or better.

    IMG_2258 IMG_2301 IMG_2303

     

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    Fly, Baby, Fly

    NYPDTweetI saw a tweet (click pic at right or scroll down below) from the NYPD and thought it was cool. It’s cool not only that in 1988 Mary Lowery was the first woman assigned to the NYPD’s Aviation Unit, but also because that same year Mom was wiring avionics for Heli-Dyne in Hurst, TX. She was even in a Budweiser commercial during the “For all you do, this Bud’s for you!” advertising phase. One helicopter they built was for…you guessed it:  The NYPD.

    After the helicopter was completed, the NYPD gave everyone at Heli-Dyne baseball hats with their logo on it. Dad used it to try to get out of a traffic ticket. I was with him and acted as his interpreter. Dad told the truth to me, and I interpreted a lie to the cop which was better. We got off. We didn’t need the hat.

    Years later, when I moved to NYC, I worked at the law firm that represented the NYPD in their precedent-setting licensing efforts. Less than two months after the license was granted, planes flew into the Twin Towers on 9/11 and the NYPD’s trademark became invaluable. Months were spent at Ground Zero confiscating unlicensed NYPD hats. Funny how things go full circle.

    Heli-Dyne I always loved that Mom didn’t have a “traditional woman’s” job. That she excelled in her industry inspired and empowered me. With each generation we women can learn from and lean on each other.  There’s something weird going on in the USA with women’s rights. I can’t fully wrap my head around it and why it’s happening now, but I have faith that it’s just a phase. We still have the right to vote, something our [great] grandmothers didn’t always have and women in other countries *still* don’t have.

    Exercise that right, ladies.

    Build your own helicopter and fly that baby.

    ~Kambri
    Below are pics of the tweet / photo of Mary Lowery and a photo of Mom (the redhead) with two other women in avionics with the NYPD chopper, wiring other choppers and the NYPD choppers in action at the World Trade Center and the Brooklyn Bridge.

    NYPDTweet Heli-Dyne NYPDChopperBridge NYPDChopperWTC NYPD Chopper MomWiringChopper MomWiringChopper2 NYPDChopperTest

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    Make Life Happen

    Don’t ya just love when the Universe sends a clear message? I’ve been pretty lazy about a few projects and haven’t been able (wanted?) to focus on them even though they get me excited simply talking about them. These horses have got legs, some of them are even saddled up, I’m just not hopping on and taking the reins for whatever reason(s).

    Then I got an email from a reader asking me if it was okay for her to use a line from my memoir as a tattoo (see pic). I’ve shared part of that email below with her permission:

    I wrote to you about a year ago after I read your book for the second time. I had told you about a passage in your book that struck me.

    “Events in my life just seemed to happen to me. Now, however, I wanted to make life happen.”

    You responded telling me about how you made lists and started making things work for you, having the universe respond. And again…it struck me.

    I have that passage written down and look at it daily. It’s on the wall at work. It’s a note in my phone. I even have it written on a post it note I keep in my wallet just in case I need that reminder. I have held that phrase, that power, with me since I first read it.

    … It’s become the way I try to live my life and it’s something I want to carry with me, literally, forever…

    In any sense, I appreciate your words and your kindness and I genuinely appreciate you for helping me to change my life.

    How nice, right? I replied to her that, of course, she could use the line. Her email came at the perfect time to remind me that I have to hop on the saddle and take the reins.

    She inspired me to live by my own words:

    Make life happen.

    ~Kambri
    Giddy up!

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Mentoring

    The Power of Choice

    Here is something I told my protege and wrote to her in a follow up letter.  I thought was worth sharing as it’s something that is true for all of us young and old:Letter to Jeaniah

    We don’t have control over many things in life, but we do have control over how we feed our minds and souls. We control the books we read, the movies and TV shows we watch, the music we listen to, the people we choose as friends, how we spend our idle time, and how seriously we take our studies.

    You hold a lot of power in the choices you make.

    I hope she’ll consider this and refer back to it as she grows older and choices and life become more complicated.

    (Read the full letter by clicking on the image.)

     

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    March 2014

    Continuing from my post / idea to remind myself of the positive plans I have in a nutshell, here is my post for what’s in store for  March:

    * Stay at our cabin at least once, probably twice.
    * Submit my solo show to All For One.
    * Travel to Rochester, NY and give presentations at RIT/NTID, the largest deaf school in the country. !!!
    * Promote Christian’s dates at Gotham Comedy Club, his new hour special THE FUN PART debuting on Netflix & his solo show at The PIT.
    * Tutor my protege twice a week to prepare her for the state’s standardized tests.
    * Go ice skating with my protege.
    * Work on a new solo show idea for myself and a full-length play I’ve been tossing around in my head for a while now.

    While January 2014’s plans went as expected, February, yeah, not so much. The TV pilot moved shoot dates to a day when I was in DC, so I couldn’t be an extra. DC was great, though. I enjoyed the Newseum and the Ford’s Theater and Lincoln Museum plus a gorgeous walk through the National Mall which I had practically all to myself because of a snowstorm that shut the city down*  I also enjoyed a decadent, incredible lunch at Jaleo (pics below) with the lovely Jennifer Tress, author of You’re Not Pretty Enough. She makes me happy.

    But then I got sick AGAIN for another full week of being laid up with a fever. Very upsetting and turned all my plans upside down. This winter has left me feeling negligent to my needs personally & professionally, but looking at what I *have* done I can say the last two months weren’t wasted.

    Hopefully March will be illness free and include some fun surprises. Mostly, I’m excited to go to Rochester to share my story and meet tons of hearing, deaf, HoH, & CODA staff and students.

    *Totally unnecessary. Roads & sidewalks were completely clear. Why am I not surprised to learn that DC is filled with slackers and wussies?
    Capitol National Mall IMG_2211 IMG_2212 IMG_2213 IMG_2214

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    February 2014

    Continuing from my January post / idea to remind myself of the positive plans I have in a nutshell, here is my post for what’s in store for February:

    * Perform the last** of my solo show workshop performances.
    * Update my solo show script using info gleaned from my workshop performances.
    * Go to DC over V-Day weekend with Christian where he headlines The DC Improv & will see friends while there.
    * Perform on three  comedy / storytelling shows. (Info here.)
    * Work as an extra on a friend’s TV pilot.
    * Watch two Soundtrack Series storytelling shows at MoMI.
    * Attend a screening of “Network” and Q&A with David Itzkoff & Keith Olbermann also at MoMI.
    * Hang out with my protege during her mid-winter school break.

    ** Last of this go round. I’m going to stage one more set of two or three workshops to finalize the script and have it professionally videotaped so I can submit to festivals and such.

    January 2014’s plans went as expected. It was very busy, with lots of great movies thanks to those SAG screeners. The Los Angeles trip included a meeting with a screenwriter and trips to the La Brea Tar Pits and Getty Villa. Also, I hung out with my protege one day and had the best time ever. We rode down a toboggan in Times Square set up for Super Bowl Boulevard, checked out Puppy Bowl at Discovery Times Square and toured Ripley’s Believe It or Not.Ripley's

    So, all in all, a pretty awesome month! The only downside was that I got very sick for a solid week including one day when I had an almost 103-degree temperature. Scary! It put a damper on my rehearsals for my solo show, but I managed to pull through. The show went on and I was pretty pleased with it.

    Let’s see if February shakes out as planned and if anything else fun or interesting pops up.

  • All Blog Entries,  Christian Finnegan,  Family & Life,  TV & Movies

    January 2014

    The holidays tend to bum me out, and I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much in 2013 and don’t have much to look forward to in 2014. That’s just the silly holiday blues talking. So, to remind myself of the positive plans I have in a nutshell, I’m going to write an entry at the top of each month about the weeks ahead.

    For January 2014, I am:

    Going to Los Angeles and Cleveland,
    Producing & performing my solo show at the The Peoples Improv Theater,
    Promoting shows for NYC PodFest,
    Seeing a half dozen comedy shows or more,
    Performing on a few others,
    Celebrating 11 years with Christian Finnegan,
    Getting a haircut and going for my tri-annual teeth cleaning.

    SAG Screeners

    After I wrote this, we got the mail and received a bunch of screeners from the Screen Actor’s Guild of which Christian is now a member. We’ve never gotten anything like this before so we were very excited to see our mailbox spilling out with such great movies.

    I’m sure veterans of the stage and screen don’t get all atwitter for these, but to us it felt like Christmas morning! They arrived just in time for a 10-inch snowfall and bitter cold in NYC and our trip to Los Angeles, so we’ll have plenty to keep us company.

    So, yeah, there is a lot to look forward to. Now let’s get this party started!

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    Christmas 2013

    I had an especially awesome week leading up to Christmas. I had three separate dates with my protégé which was the biggest treat. We hopped aboard a vintage train (pic at right & at bottom) to Midtown where we shopped at the Disney store and Toys R Us Times SquareNostalgia Train, and got tickets at the TDF booth for Newsies the Musical. Our seats were pretty high up in the mezzanine but this musical’s set design allowed for great viewing. The choreography was phenomenal and we enjoyed the show very much.

    During intermission, Jeaniah pored through the program matching each actor’s headshot and bio with their characters. A few minutes into the second act, the lead male was singing in earnest and Jeaniah whispered, “He has a very pretty voice!” I agreed and took note at how enthralled she was. At curtain call, she applauded politely for chorus, loudly for a few of her favorite supporting cast members, then screamed the highest pitched dolphin squeal that could’ve broken glass when the lead male took his bows, like we were at a One Direction concert. Her unbridled enthusiasm made me happier than any gift could.

    On the subway ride home, some boys started breakdancing in our car and could’ve rivaled any dancer in the Newsies chorus. Our car wasn’t that packed so it wasn’t too obnoxious and they were seriously talented, so Jeaniah gave them a dollar.

    A few days later, I picked her up after school. She opened my Christmas gifts for her: a bracelet loom, tons of rubber bands and charms for making the bracelets, and a jewelry organizer for her new bedroom. These were met with gasps of OH MY GOSH! and COOL! I also packed her bag with her favorite treats that I normally would put in a stocking like some gummy bears (Gummy bears?! I LOVE gummy bears!) and a bag of Goldfish crackers (Goldfish?! I LOVE Goldfish!). This cracked me up. I’ve known her for two years now, so of course I know what she wants and likes to eat and do and see. Her surprise was delightful.

    She mentioned that she had cards for her two teachers but wished she had gifts, so I let her pick two gifts from a shopping bag of heavily discounted Christmas items I had just snagged at Rite Aid. She chose an amaryllis and a candle/holder.

    Later that week, I picked her up after school to go see “Frozen” in 3D. We both really loved it and the theme song “Let it Go”. In the movie, it’s sung by Idina Menzel but when then end credits rolled, it’s this Demi Lovato version. Dang it is a catchy tune! I felt so happy from the movie, so the heck with it….I’m gonna SING! We sang what words we knew (not many) at the tops of our lungs and mumbled the rest and bounced around in our seats. I gotta take this girl to a real concert.

    ESB

    A couple of days later Christian and I joined her and her family at the annual Hour Children Christmas party with gifts supplied by the Marine’s Toys for Tots program. We got a few really nice pictures and made some crafts before Christian and I scooted out to LIC for the LIC Flea and the gorgeous view of Manhattan with the ESB decorated in green & red for Christmas with an awesome light show timed with music airing on 106.7. Fun! (Click here for the YouTube video of the light show.)

    All in all, it was a great week in the city with all it has to offer, but I was happy to leave it behind for a long “vacation” at our cabin upstate. We enjoyed dominoes, the wood fire, Vince Guaraldi, lots of good home cooked meals, “Cheers” on Netflix, making pomander balls, way too much candy and almost too much laziness. Among other gifts, I gave Christian a pair of Hunter boots and Morrissey’s new autobiography and a bunch of tech gadgets; he gave me a gorgeous vintage tub planter, a much needed wallet and  a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The latter was really a gift to him: I stayed busy and out of his hair for a whole week. ;oP

    We rang in the New Year quietly around our fire, writing out our goals, the theme of which seemed based on this Samuel Beckett quote:

    All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

    Onward and upward to us all in 2014!

    Hour Children Christmas Party 2013 Hour Children Christmas Party 2013 Hour Children Christmas Party 2013 Nostalgia Train Nostalgia Train Nostalgia Train Nostalgia Train Newsies LIChristmas 2013 Tree2013 Tree Christmas 2013 Pomander Balls  Fireside Chat

  • All Blog Entries,  Deaf Culture & ASL,  Mentoring

    47 ASL High School

    Had a long but rewarding day at 47 ASL High School yesterday. The students were about 20% Deaf, HoH and CODA and the rest hearing but immersed in a school that embraces ASL. How wonderful.

    I met 180+ great teens from all parts of NYC some who shared with me privately about their hopes to be involved with producing, dreams of being a writer, and brushes with domestic violence, drugs & alcohol, mental illness and more. I donated a copy of my book to the library and signed it to the kids. I went home and collapsed –exhausted but inspired– and awoke to this nice email from the coordinator today:

    “You are the talk of the town! [T]eachers and administrators who made it to your presentation were touched and impressed by the way you shared your experiences with the students. And, of course, the kids are all going to be reading your book now and they are so excited and honored to have it autographed by you!”

    I was honored to share with them. I’d take a repeat of yesterday Every. Single. Day.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  NYC

    El Nombre de Mi Hombre Deli es JOSE!

    I’ve been going to the same deli for nine years. Working there were two Latin dudes named Juan and Jose. One was a short order cook and the other the delivery guy / sometimes cook. Both are so damned nice considering their grueling hours and commutes that they inspire me to enjoy my life and work half as much as they do.

    The problem is, I never knew who was Juan and who was Jose. It didn’t matter much since I could just say Hola Juan! Hola Jose! And they both would smile, wave and say good morning. At Christmas, we delivered two envelopes with a card and cash as their “holiday bonus” one addressed to Juan & the other Jose and handed both to whomever was closest. So, they sorted that out.

    Then the short order cook moved back home. It was sudden. One day he was just gone. Who was left? Juan or Jose? We didn’t know and the more time passed the more awkward it became to find out. I listened intently to anyone who would address the remaining guy but no one ever said his name.

    Last week, I hosted my 10-year-old niece for her first trip to NYC. I devised a plan to teach her some phrases in Spanish with the ultimate goal to find out my deli guy’s name. Her first day in NYC I ushered her in to the deli and introduced her to the owners and Juan/Jose:

    Me: Hola! Buenos días! Esta es mi sobrina.
    Her: Mi nombre es Kaelyn.
    And the mucho importante part
    Her: Como tu llames?
    Him: Mi nombre es Jose!
    (Kaelyn and I high five. Mission accomplished.)
    Kaelyn: Mucho gusto.

    She’s now addicted to Duolingo & trying to learn Spanish and I am now calling out to Jose by name every chance I get to make up for lost time.

     

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    I Can See Clearly Now…

    I bought my first pair of reading glasses today, so now I can clearly read the words on my Last Will & Testament.  #old

    Within a few hours…

    I misplaced my readers.

    Who wants my organs? Because I’m just gonna end this nonsense now. Ya know, my high school Anatomy & Physiology teacher Mr. Terrell used to yell at me:

    “Live fast, die young & leave a good-looking corpse, Crews! You’re going to hell in a hand basket!”

    So, yeah, Mr. Terrell was right. AND I’M GOING WITHOUT ANY *&*#@$ READERS!

    *Update: Found them and then bent one arm. This is gonna take some getting used to!

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    I Need Botox, Y’all! And Other Lifetime Movie Network Observations

    Thank you to everyone who tuned in to see “Family Secrets” last night on Lifetime Movie Network*! If you missed it, it re-airs on Friday, November 8th at 8AM EST.
    I need Botox, y'all!

    Part way in, my cable box froze & rebooted. Murphy’s Law! From what I saw my dentist will be very angry that I have rebuffed his repeated requests to fix my bottom teeth, I need Botox, my family was upgraded to the suburbs and no one really knows or speaks sign language in the reenactments.

    But my cable box came back to life quickly and the rest I saw was really well done. Even if it had been awful, I am grateful for any opportunity to share my story.

    Seeing how they edited my interview was very interesting. They condensed it into an average domestic violence case (What? No shed? No trailer? No Deaf Culture commentary? Just a dude who beats and tries to kill women?) and yet still made it compelling.

    Of course, personally, my  CODA / Deaf experience and my dad’s childhood and our collective isolation and poverty is what fueled my story for my book, so that’s important for me to still tell and get across should I get another chance. And I learned a lesson to make sure to understand the angle the producers are going for, so I can speak to that and they won’t have to edit so much!

    Paquita on LMN

    My sweet Paquita made a brief posthumous cameo. She is looking longingly at Christian who is lavishing love and kisses on Griswold. Awww.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and thank you again for all the kind words and support!

    xokambri

    *The collective outrage of the women posting on Lifetime Movie Network’s Facebook page about the movie network not showing movies is worthy of being a Lifetime movie.  If I -and all of you lovely people- didn’t have a life with better things to do, I’d suggest we flood the LMN Facebook page with overflowing praise. Hopefully we’ll still get a movie made and we can tell the whole white trashtastic tale and satisfy all those disgruntled LMN subscribers. So much time on their hands these women! Sad.

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  TV & Movies

    I’m on Your Tee Vee this Sunday!

    LMN Family SecretsMany months ago, I was cast in a docu-drama pilot called “Family Secrets” for the Bio Channel. It never aired & I thought it was dead in the water.

    But…lo! It is scheduled to air this Sunday, Oct 27 on Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) at 10PM EST and again at 2AM Monday, Oct 28. Since it’s a pilot, it doesn’t even have a logo or show page on Lifetime’s website, but the description and name matches what we filmed.

    I’m honestly terrified to watch it because they have re-enactments by non-Deaf people and, well, re-enactments are usually kind of cheesy to begin with. I’m mostly worried about having my story in someone else’s creative, editorial hands. Who knows how they’ll piece together my words and spin it? We shall see this Sunday! And if it’s truly god awful, well, it will make for a fun story to tell on stage.

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Christian Finnegan,  Family & Life,  NYC,  Theater,  TV & Movies,  Writing

    Classic NYC Week

    Highlights from my classic New York week in a nutshell:

    — Worked on “The Following” where I cheek-kissed Connie Nielsen about 20 times & ogled Kevin Bacon for 12 hours.

    — Ran 7 blocks through crowded streets in Queens & raced up 3 flights of stairs at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts to vote in the mayoral primary with only 30 seconds to spare before polls closed. It was as intense & stressful as any chase scene in a movie. I should’ve had German techno music playing in the background.

    — Finished my Playwriting I class with a 1st draft of my solo show script.

    — Invited to perform on the first ever Solo Comedy Festival #SoloCom at The Peoples Improv Theater with the script from ^.

    — Got into a screaming match with a cab driver.

    This week I’ll work on “The Good Wife”, hang with my protégé after school & accompany Christian Finnegan to his headlining gig in Virginia Beach. No screaming matches allowed.

  • All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Family & Life

    Rest in Peace, My Sweet Paquita

    Twelve years ago on July 3rd, I met my best friend. Today, I buried her.

    Over the last few weeks her health declined rapidly. By Sunday, I knew she was living out her last full day with me, so we spent the night on my fire escape watching the sun set over Manhattan. Nothing makes her happier than the blazing sun shining on her.

    Thankfully she survived the night so that Christian could see her before she passed. He flew home Monday morning after a weekend at the Tampa Improv and we drove her to the vet. The doctor brought her fever down and gave her pain medication, so when it was time to say goodbye she was excited to see us and performed a few tricks, gave us kisses and high fives. She even did her pièce de résistance and played dead unaware of the bittersweet irony.

    After her heart stopped, Christian and I gave her more kisses and let Griswold smell her. Then I wrapped her in my favorite black wrap that went with me everywhere I went, just like Paquita. I arranged her in the box with her cradling her favorite blue fuzzy toy and gave her one last kiss on her button nose.

    We drove her to the cabin this morning and buried her under a tree. The Rock House was the place that made her excited the moment we turned into the driveway and smile wide for hours after she hopped out of the car. It was almost too much, like letting a kid run loose at an amusement park. She had all the woods and sunshine a girl could want; a place where she was free and happy. I had always promised her I would give her a better place to live out her retirement years than our Queens apartment. I’m so glad I made good on that. These last two and a half years were her happiest.

    Over the years she gave people so much joy and laughter with her crazy smart tricks and ability to perform no matter what the setting including live comedy shows and a TV taping in front of a studio audience of 400 people screaming and clapping for her. Cheering because, damn, that bitch deserved it.

    Back on July 13, 2003, I wrote this:

    The best thing about Paquita is that I always have a friend willing to join me . . .

    for however far . . .

    for however long.

    Well, it seems we’ve gone the distance and our time is up. Goodbye to my smart, funny, adventurous little Paquita. Thank you for being my friend.

  • All Blog Entries,  Mentoring

    Calm in the Storm

    I’m seeing my protégé on Saturday, two months to the day since I last saw her.

    That’s an eternity for kids but especially when the kid has been through some stuff, when she has seen mentors come and go for others. Even though I keep in touch with postcards and Facebook, there’s always the niggling feeling that this is it. It’s over. She wasn’t worth sticking around for. She wasn’t wanted or loved, relationships don’t last and people will abandon you at any given moment.

    The last time I was out of town for this long, I surprised her. Her mom told her to wake up early and be ready to babysit when, in reality, I was en route to pick her up for a day together. When I walked through her front door, the look of shock on her face took my breath away. Think of your most exaggerated jaw-dropped, bug-eyed face and that was her but she wasn’t faking. She was thunderstruck; the textbook definition of blown away.

    In an instant she sprang off the couch, bolted across the room and leapt into my arms. She wrapped her legs around my waist and arms around my neck and squeezed.

    Squeezed like a tsunami was raging through Queens and if she let go of me, it’d be all she wrote.

    I squeezed back knowing I’m not letting go.

    We’ll ride this storm together, girl, and I’ll be your tree.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    Throwing Tampons Must Be a Texas Thang

    The first and only time I was summoned to the principal’s office I was in 6th grade and eleven years old. Hearing my name called out in science class sent an electric jolt through me. I felt the sting ofsmall_paddle_with_holes every eyeball on me as I slunk out of the room toward Mr. Simmons’ office, a place very familiar to my older brother David but previously unseen by me.

    Mr. Simmons kept a paddle hanging outside his door as an ominous warning to Not. Mess. With. Him. It was a flat, rectangular shaped hunk of varnished wood with a handle and holes drilled into the paddle to reduce air resistance and increase velocity. Ouch. David was BFFs with that paddle.

    I got hotter and clammier with each step toward THE OFFICE wondering if my rear-end would become intimate with a hunk of wood for KissingPotion the first time. I quickly scanned the inventory of my life in search of what I could’ve done wrong to deserve this. But I had not broken a rule since I was five years old when my brother busted me stealing Cherry Smash flavored roll-on lip gloss called Kissing Potion made by Maybelline. I was a good girl.

    When I entered the office, I was relieved to see a few other girls in attendance. I would not suffer this fate alone. Mr. Simmons launched into a speech that started with school bus safety. That’s when I realized the other girls also rode Bus #9 driven by Mrs. Buttercase.

    I audibly exhaled and turned about five shades of pink. “That’s what this is about?” Relief swept over me even though I knew my brother was one of “the boys”. He’d thrown one of the tampons at me, nailing me in the left eye. It landed at my feet where I gawked at it wondering what everyone was so freaked out about. It was just a white hunk of cotton with a string coming out of it. What was the big deal?

    “This mornin’, Mrs. Buttercase told me some of the boys were throwing feminine hygiene products.”

    I’d never seen a real tampon before in or out of its applicator, but the older kids were in hysterics. They winced, convulsed and heaved like they might puke if the flying cotton came within an inch of them. Chaos reigned. Mr. Simmons was right when he yelled, “It’s a miracle Mrs. Buttercase didn’t run off into a ditch and kill all y’all.”

    David was sure to get paddled again for this infraction, but I hadn’t thrown anything. I had only kicked the offending cotton under the seat in front of me.

    Mr. Simmons continued, “But what I wanna know is where did the boys get such a thing? Which one of you girls knows something about this?” I could swear he was looking at me. Someone supplied the ammunition and they were going to be in as much trouble as the boys who’d begun throwing them around. My brother was usually the instigator of trouble on Bus #9. By the look in Mr. Simmons’ eyes, David had already been convicted and I was the likely accomplice. Never mind that any boy could’ve raided his mother’s or sister’s stash. Duh.

    Anxious to distance myself from my brother, I shot my hand in the air. Mr. Simmons looked surprised, like he’d caught a fish without using any bait; it jumped into his boat. “Yes, Kambri, what do you have to say about this?”

    “Sir, it wasn’t me. I haven’t even had my first period!”

    Mr. Simmons turned a shade of scarlet worthy of its own letter. “Oh, well, umm…okay, you can go on back to class then.”

    And thus began my lifelong habit of sharing Too. Much. Information.

    ~Kambri
    I never ever got Kissing Potion by stealing or purchasing. The slick, yummy gloss was forever ruined for me by the shame of stealing it once in a moment of selfish passion.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    One To Grow On

    I came across a mustard yellow moth, perched on the sash of a window. Had it not been perched on a white windowsill, it otherwise may have been overlooked.

    Io Moth - Closed

    But I gently prodded his wings open and LO!

    Io Moth - Open

    Moral of the story? You don’t know what beauty, talent and creativity is lurking beneath until you spread your wings.

    And that’s one to grow on.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  TV & Movies

    “Here’s the Thing” with Alec Baldwin

    I’ve tuned in to two episodes of “Here’s the Thing” hosted by Alec Baldwin on NPR and find it immensely listenable. I actually ran a 10K (6.2 miles) yesterday listening to the interview with Lena Dunam. Listening to two people chat thoughtfully might not seem like a good running companion, but I was completely engaged and not aware of the intentional beating I was giving my body.

    I was excited to share this new discovery of mine (It’s been around for awhile. I don’t know where I’ve been.), but he’d gotten himself into a little media brouhaha (again). So I held off.

    It frustrates me. Alec’s really smart, funny and gives good radio. This constant battle with tabloids reminds me of Sean Penn during the married-to-Madonna-days. The press and papparrazzi have his number and love to push it.

    Once, when I was an extra on 30 Rock* there was a little dust up with an assistant. I could share the tidbit here and that’s all it would take for a tabloid to mess with him. Whether he was right or wrong wouldn’t matter. I totally understand (too much!) his righteous anger. I, too, hate seeing bad behavior go unpunished and so I will, often to my own detriment, see it through to the end. I will “win”. There’s more to it than that, of course, which will have to wait for another time.

    I hope he’ll work and work and work in spite of it all. I like him. I like what he does.

    Meanwhile, here’s the thing: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/heresthething

    *Oh, you didn’t see my Emmy-worthy appearance as a champagne swilling campaign donor? Well, let me remind you:

    30 Rock

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life

    Baking Soda Chrome Cleaner


    So, I’m guessing everyone reading this already knew that baking soda cleans chrome like new.

    WELL NO ONE TOLD ME!

    I just learned this today and am now looking for anything and everything with a shiny surface to scrub!

    Okay, so I received my birthday gift to myself in the mail today. A vintage Swing-A-Way ice crusher in avocado green exactly like the one we had when I was a kid. It’s really for Christian Finnegan, because he likes to chomp ice which his dentist said is a no-no. I used ours every Saturday & Sunday morning & sprinkled Kool-Aid powder on the ice to make a trailer trash sno-cone.

    The one I won on Ebay came with a very stubborn strip of adhesive from old masking tape, probably from a garage sale. It was STUCK like concrete and plaster. A quick Google search told me that the metal was chrome and to use baking soda to polish it. Well, sure, but what about that strip of plaster? See for yourself!

    ShinyChrome

    BeforeAfter

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life

    Bath & Birthday Works

    Happy birthday to me! And my mom and my sis-in-law. As a gift to us all, I made a bunch of indulgent little gifts.

    Brown Sugar Body Scrub

    First and BEST, I made some brown sugar body scrub to mimic my favorite body polish by Fresh that costs $65 for a 14 oz jar! (GULP!) It’s heavenly. It exfoliates gently, smells…well…fresh, and leaves my skin feeling like silk. But it’s ridiculously overpriced and not something I can splurge on very often. I perfected a recipe that could pass any side-by-side comparison and have been using it during every bath time since, making up for all the times I didn’t because I’m cheap. Now I’m a smooth, soft, shiny, silky happy cheap lady!

    Second, I packaged my favorite fire starters in little sack with wicks sticking out of them. Now, personally, I just burn the firestarter on its own, but they’re not very attractive. Hopefully the paper sack will burn enough to ignite the ugly starter. If not, lighting the fire starter itself is guaranteed to work. They are crazy efficient and pennies compared to the expensive logs sold in stores.

    Bug Off! Citronella Candle

    Third, I made bug repellent citronella candles. I love burning candles, but dayummmm they’re flipping expensive! To top it off, so much wax ends up leftover and wasted. After doing some research, it turns out most if not all are made with paraffin wax and synthetic citronella, not the essential oil with true protective qualities. Huh. How about that?

    I chose to make hand poured soy wax (natural and, hey, soy beans are almost entirely farmed in the U.S.A.!) and citronella essential oil (the real deal). This was the trickiest project as it turns out candle-making is practically science. Once I got it figured out, I made my gifts. I hope theirs work as much as mine does. I started out small to save on expenses for the inevitable mistakes. Now that I know my little one is working, I’m gonna make larger ones in recycled pails, jars and cans which are better for the open air patio.

    Lemon SoapI also threw in some homemade soap with real bits of lemon zest and drops of lemon essential oil. Mmmm, fresh & clean smelling and so great for the kitchen. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll keep making my own soap, though. So many people make amazing soaps and soap isn’t that freakishly overpriced like everything else. It’ll depend if I find a recipe or two that I love so much that I have to have more. And I need to either get real molds or a proper soap slicer. I used recycled yogurt cups which are the right size and shape, but I had to cut them with a butcher knife which made one break and the others look sloppy with cracks in them. Drat.

    Finally, my second favorite but a close race for first, I made some bath bombs a/k/a bath fizzies. Lush makes the best bombs in my opinion (Phoenix Rising is heaven on earth to me), but there is no Lush store near me. Also, as I near the end of this post, I see the main trend is that I’m cheap. Let’s say frugal. Bombs are a little extravagance I’d treat myself to on a rare occasion because at the average cost $7 a plop that adds up!  They’re super easy and cheap to make. So much so, it’s like the body scrub…how have I not been doing this for years? Bath Bombs

    Granted, I’ve not mastered the art to the level of imitating the aforementioned Phoenix Rising in both appearance and function, but my first batch (lavender and coconut oil) was soothing and made for a lovely bath. Also, because it’s been so humid at the cabin (92% humidity? And it’s not raining? The air is THICK!), the moisture was drawn into my bombs as they dried and “activated” the fizz. Not ideal.Made them a little messy, too. The fizz is really for fun, though. It’s the Epsom salt, coconut and lavender oils that made for the soothing night time dip in the tub. And mine still did fizz a bit. Next batch I’ll make when the humidity breaks or will let them set in a sealed tub with some rice to help draw moisture away.

    Crafty Gifts

    I had a few more in the works –bath salts, refreshing spritzes, bug spray– but my package was late enough as is, so look out ladies! Christmas is just around the corner.

    I’ll provide instructions for each over the next few days or weeks. Meanwhile, you can read about them online and stock up your supplies. I had no idea essential oils were super cheap and available in local health stores and Amazon, of course. I’d have been doing this ages ago!

    Other resources:
    Brambleberry
    Bulk Apothecary
    My Own Labels

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Recipes,  Rock House

    Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice Cream

    Sopaipillas & FlagIn high school, I studied Spanish for two years under the tutelage of Mrs. Spooner. One assignment required us to make a Mexican dish of our choosing. I elected sopapillas because, A) I loved them, and B) I knew I could get them at Pancho’s at their freakishly cheap “all you care to eat” buffet. After chowing down, I could simply raise the Mexican flag at my table, request additional sopaipillas from my server, stuff  them in my purse, repeat a few more times and still be home in time for Moonlighting.

    “What’s a sopaipilla?” some of you might be wondering. It’s deep-fried pastry that can be used in all sorts of dishes, but is primarily served as a dessert served in the shape of a puffed up little pillow and served with honey. We would tear off a corner, pour a little honey in the hole, swirl it around and mmm, mmm, GOOD!

    I have never seen them anywhere in the Midwest or Northeast (though I’m sure I’ll hear from someone telling me where they serve them around these parts). The one time I did order them from a menu at a New York restaurant, they were not sopaipillas. They were hard & crunchy like cinnamon pita chips. That was my first and last attempt since 1991.

    Now that we have the Rock House, I’ve enjoyed cooking, baking, making, trying all sorts of things. So when I came across this sopaipilla recipe in In Style magazine, I clipped it. It’s been sitting in a drawer ever since. I mean, it looks delicious. But it also looks like a messy hassle. Look at the list of ingredients and all those steps in the instructions. Frying, too? Messy & bad for me and…ah, forget it.

    Fast forward to today when I came across the recipe stuck in a drawer. “Hey, wait a second? Isn’t a sopaipilla basically just puffed pastry?!”

    PUFFED PASTRY! AKA my new BFF and answer to all the world’s ills. Since discovering it a few months ago (Like I’m Chris Columbus or something. Heh. You’re welcome for The Americas, BTW!), I’ve used it for pot pies, egg soufflés, desserts, tarts, pizzas, you name it. If it came in queen-sized sheets, I would sleep with it like a down comforter. That’s how versatile and easy it is. How easy? I’M GONNA EAT IT LIKE A SOPAIPILLA!

    If you don’t make your own dough, this is the hardest part: Bake the puff pastry, drizzle it with honey. DONE! Screw you Bobby Flay & your stupid, messy recipe!

    Now, technically, that’s all a sopaipilla is, but I fancied it up a bit because when you get old the things that excited you when you were young only make you feel hopeless and empty and search for meaning in life. So I spiced it up a bit with sugar & cinnamon (which is how many folks eat their fritters & sopaipillas anyway. This was my first time.)

    Sugar & Spice

    INGREDIENTS:
    1/3 of one sheet of Pepperidge Farm’s Puff Pastry Sheet (they owe me a % of profits based on how much I’ve been pimping them out!)
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 tspn ground cinnamon
    Honey
    Vanilla or Caramel Ice Cream (Because screw it. WHY NOT?! It’s my mom’s birthday! {Or whatever excuse you need to justify this delicious decision.})

    Heat the oven to 400°F.  Cut the pastry sheet into 4 squares & bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

    Place the sugar and cinnamon into a paper or plastic baggy and shake to combine.

    Add the hot pastries to the bag and shake until coated with the sugar mixture. Drizzle the pastries with the honey or, if you have a squeeze bottle of honey, let the diners tear off a corner and squeeze away themselves. Serve yourself first, though, because they’re best hot and you deserve the best.

    Add a dollop of ice cream to the plate and you have what I call Sugar & Spice and everything Nice Cream.

    Dunking in Sugar & Spice Waiting for Pastry Bon Appetit!

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

    Chicken of the NYC

    I was standing on my corner waiting for the light to change when an older woman of European or Middle Eastern descent with a utility push cart suddenly stopped and asked me, “Do you eat tuna?”

    “Sorry?” I was sure I understood her, but wait. What?

    “Tuna. Do you eat it?”

    “Oh, tuna, yes I eat it.”

    “Do you know of this Chicken of the Sea. Is good yes?”

    “Sure,” I shrugged. “Brands are kind of all the same.” I didn’t think it worth it to parse out the differences between oil and water, chunk, light, blah, blah, blah.

    “Because my husband say it CHEAP!” She then launched into a scathing detailed account of how she came home with the groceries and he bitched about the cheap tuna demanding she go back to the store to return it. She disagreed and said, “He eat what I bring home!”

    Strong words for a woman who was on her way to Western Beef to exchange the tuna.

    I laughed and said, “I don’t think the brand matters but look for solid white albacore.”

    “Huh? Al-buh-core?” She repeated, unsure of this new word I was introducing to her vocabulary.

    “Yes, A-L-B-A…You know what, I’ll just show you.” So she and I walked along with her pushcart to Western Beef, her complaining of her nitpicking husband the whole way.

    In the canned meat section of the store, I showed her the difference between tuna packed in oil versus water and chunk versus solid white.

    I gave her a wicked little grin and said, “Take home Bumble Bee, so your husband will think he’s right.”

    “He will complain about something else then! He eat what I bring home!” She said as she placed the Bumble Bee in her basket.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    You Say Cicada. I Say Locust. Let’s Call the Whole Thing an Exoskeleton.

    With all the talk of cicadas coming out of a seventeen year slumber emerging from the earth, I can’t help but think of my maternal deaf grandmother. She was traumatized at the mere sight of their crusty brown exoskeletons, so surely the onslaught of trillions must have her convulsing in her grave.

    During my childhood, I spent summers staying with her and Grandpa at their two-bedroom Tulsa home. Once the magic of cable television wore off, I staved off boredom by playing pranks on my sweet, gullible, good sport, grandma. My budding acting skills were honed as I terrorized her. I would ring the doorbell and pretend an axe murderer was trying to break in and the phone lines had been cut, or I’d push over the swing set in the backyard and act as if my cousins or the neighborhood kids were trapped underneath with broken limbs.

    My favorite prank was finding the empty shells of locusts clinging to trees and bushes and place them where I knew Grandma would grab before looking:  The kitchen faucet, the television remote and the steering wheel of her car. The jerk of her hand as if she’d touched a hot stove coupled with a blood curdling scream was pee-in-my-pants hilarious. The meanest placement was on the toilet paper roll knowing she would have no choice but to either not wipe or gather the courage to remove the critter on her own. Bless her sweet heart.

    shokotan_cicada_3

    But this?

    I never thought to do this.

    Why would I?

    Because WTF?

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life,  Gardening,  Mentoring

    An “Epic” Date

    After kicking off my gardening project, I drove home from the cabin so I could take my protege Jeaniah to a preview screening of “Epic” at the Museum of the Moving Image. When I picked her up, she and the other Hour Children kids were having a craft day with volunteers from the Kabbalah Center. We made jewelry, got professional photos taken and planted some flower seeds which took about 20 seconds. Throw some dirt in the peat pot, add some seeds, top with more soil, add water and voila. Four days later they sprouted.

    It was a great reminder of what I said in my earlier post: gardening is much more simple than the Internet would have you believe. Don’t be afraid! Jeaniah wanted me to keep both of our pots so I can plant them at the cabin. I plan to find a special spot for our little flower pots to grow together. It’s lousy with symbolism.

    Anyway, on to the movie. We were excited and surprised to learn that the director of “Epic”, Oscar winner Chris Wedge, was at the screening and would participate in a Q&A afterward. COOL! The movie is about a teenage girl who is transported (shrunken to the size of an insect) into the forest where she helps the “Leafmen” battle the dark forces after the forest Queen is killed. The movie itself was in 3-D and, damn, animation these days is simply breathtaking. I got dizzy a few times “flying” with the Leafmen on their hummingbirds that they rode like horses. So clever. Check out Metacritic for comprehensive reviews, but we gave it our thumbs up as did the other kids in the audience.

    Chris Wedge - "Epic" DirectorWe also enjoyed the Q&A with Mr. Wedge who was really  casual, funny and gracious with his time. Jeaniah seized up with shyness when it came to asking for an autograph, so I asked on her behalf. We wanted to get it mostly as proof to the kids at school that she’d seen the movie before it was in theaters. Last time we did this (a preview of the “Croods” which was okay), no one believed her. So, this time we kept her program and autographed ticket stub for her to use to “show off”. Take that, non-believers!

    Christian met up with us at Pizzeria Uno and during our drive home he told her about my undying love for David Lee Roth. When he showed her pictures of Diamond Dave, she burst out laughing and said, “He looks like a GIRL!”

    I spent way too much time defending my love and trying to find a better picture. None were to be found. He’s pretty ridiculous in all of them and yet…sigh.

    I can’t wait for the day I meet her husband and can tease her about how she wore Justin Bieber perfume.

  • All Blog Entries,  Gardening,  Mentoring,  Rock House

    Adventures in Gardening: In the Beginning

    Growing up, we dug up rows of dirt, plopped in some seeds and had fruits and vegetables a few weeks later. The Internet made it all seem so complicated. After all the research and over-thinking, it was time to get my hands dirty.

    I had a few days at the cabin and took the plunge on beginning my landscaping and gardening projects. I spent part of a day gathering rocks that I stacked at the base of the cabin, covering the concrete and creating a raised flower bed. Once it was in place, I filled it with soil from the woods mixed with bags of plain topsoil and two bags of high quality, fertilized soil. Then I planted some hostas that I purchased from Home Depot. Hostas are hearty, low to the ground, spread over time, and are great in the shade. I think this is the perfect spot for them as long as I can keep the slugs away.

    Behold the before and after:

    5864939688_1edbd2ba04_b After Before After After After

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

    Run, Baby Run!

    I was so happy to accompany my pal Liam on his first race, a 5K on Roosevelt Island. I ran a 10K soon after his race started and we met up at the finish line to walk home for a celebratory brunch. He’s been following the Couch to 5K program that so many people swear by. Judging by how well he did –never stopping and clocking in at a 13 minute mile pace — I’m endorsing the program, too.

    He was beaming afterward and we’ve already signed up for the next race. (I dare you to run a race and NOT want to recapture the feeling ASAP.) He and I will be running a 5K & 10K again on Memorial Day and welcome any and all to join us. It’s an ice cream social, too!

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    Cleveland’s Cavalier

    By now I’m sure you’ve seen the news from Cleveland, Ohio that three young women Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight who were missing for nine, ten and eleven years respectively, have been found alive. charles-ramsey-meme

    During an epic interview with local news reporters, neighbor Charles Ramsey had this to say about his kidnapping neighbor Ariel Castro, “You got some big testicles to pull this off, bro.”

    Indeed.

    “I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms” is just one of several amazing quotes Ramsey gives. The interview came after he came to the aide of Berry who bravely initiated the escape from captivity with her six-year-old daughter at her side. (Yeah, do the math, that daughter is the product of her captor or one of his two brothers who are also in custody.)

    “I figured it was a domestic-violence dispute,” Ramsey said. And he helped anyway. 

    Now that is a motherfu*king hero right there. Thank God he didn’t just look away when he thought it was a domestic situation like so many people do. Bro should get some hefty reward money to buy some of those newfangled wraps from Mickey Ds!

    I had screamed and begged for someone to call 911 the night Dad attacked Mom. No one did. Yet within the week we were evicted for “excessive noise disturbance.” So my neighbors DID hear my cries and chose not to intervene. They didn’t even place an anonymous call to 911. I wrote about it in my memoir (excerpt below) and to this day my heart races and blood pressure rises when I think about the cowardice and selfishness they displayed.

    If you hear or suspect any abuse of any kind, you can anonymously report it. SIMPLY REPORT IT. Charles Ramsey? He ran to the porch, smashed the door, pulled the woman and her child out and called 911. To him I’ll echo his own words:

    “You got some big testicles to pull this off, bro.”

    ~~~

    Excerpt from BURN DOWN THE GROUND Chapter 14 – Excessive Noise Disturbance:

    I was back with Rob for only a week when Mom dropped another bombshell: “We’re going to be evicted.”

    “Evicted? Why?”

    “Excessive noise disturbance. Come on and help me pack.”

    My blood boiled. I had screamed and begged for help the night my father smashed our porch light, punched holes in the walls, and broke down our front door. Not only had the neighbors heard my cries for help and chosen to ignore me, but they had complained?

    Defeated, I packed up my room for another move. I was loading up boxes of books and letters when I came across a pile of college brochures and scholarship applications. Before August 15, I had planned on attending a university to major in aeronautical engineering as homage to Mom, admiring her for her work with helicopters. Aeronautical engineering could be my backup plan in case my acting career didn’t pan out. The paperwork had been overwhelming and asked detailed questions that I didn’t know how to answer, like what my parents’ income was. On the rare occasions Mom inquired about the process, I brushed her off. She never went to college, so she wouldn’t know how to fi ll out the forms any more than I would. “I’m working on them,” I answered and that was that. They remained incomplete.

    Who am I kidding? I angrily hurled the blank applications in the trash and emptied the rest of my room. I felt hopeless and just gave up. I should have asked for help, but I didn’t know how.

     

  • All Blog Entries,  Mentoring

    Kid Logic

    I screamed out loud at “Jurassic Park” more than once but so enjoyed seeing it again for the first time in 20 years, especially in 3D. At one point Jeaniah & I were cringing and squirming and gasping so much I said, “This movie is STRESSING us OUT!” She laughed and said, “Yeah, but I don’t get it. If you’re gonna bring dinosaurs back, why would you make meat eaters and poisonous ones? Why not just stick with herbivores?”

    I mean, really?

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

    May Days! May Days!

    I drove back to NYC for one day and making time to see my two favorite Big Apple ladies. First I’m picking up my protege Jeaniah from school to see “Jurassic Park” in 3D followed by dinner with Jenn Dodd. Then it’s off to the RUBBER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! That’s Akron, Ohio for three whole days. I’m so excited to perform in my friend Eileen Moushey‘s play alongside some of my dearest, funniest, funnest acting buddies for the first time in about 15 years.

    Then it’s a jaunt to Philly to perform 1812 Productions storytelling show raising money for Women Against Violence before I head back to NYC to see my buddy H. Alan Scott & take him to record an interview with Chemda Katg. Follow that up with another week at our cabin, throw in a 5K race, an appearance at the SouthCarolina Book Festival, a 10K race and another date with my protege and holy, wow…

    May: I love you already!

  • All Blog Entries,  Craft Projects,  Family & Life,  NYC

    Broadway Bound

    My niece turned 10 years old! As my gift to her, I’m treating her to a trip to the Big Apple. I filled a box with some NYC trinkets and a homemade boarding pass so she’d have something tangible to open and think about before the actual trip happens. Happy birthday to her!

    A bell’invito stationery box filled with some NYC goodies.

    Boarding pass to NYC & tri-fold holder.
    Good for one round-trip airfare to NYC!
  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Mentoring,  NYC

    Taking My Protege to “Work”

    Tomorrow is “Take Your Mentee* to Work Day”. Since I work from home and have an unconventional life and schedule, I figured I’d show her a little bit about publicity and the daily newspapers and then spend the day learning about other worthwhile stuff.

    Searching for things to do, I was frustrated that so many museums and exhibits are still out of commission from Sandy. I was especially disappointed we can’t visit the “Bodies” exhibit. It is moving to Discovery Times Square so we will hit that soon enough, but the others? Who knows.

    Instead, I’ve decided to take her on an adventure through Lower Manhattan focusing on the plight of the immigrant. We’ll ride the subway to the World Trade Center, view the 9/11 Memorial, take the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island up close (both are closed due to Sandy damage), walk through Chinatown and Little Italy as we make our way to the LES for a tour of the Tenement Museum.

    At least that’s the plan. NYC is unkind lately. Let’s see how the craptastic NYC weather treats us (cold and biting wind, I bet), how my wallet fares even with the free ferry ride (empty, surely, the Tenement Museum is ridiculously expensive but since Ellis Island is shuttered, it is what it is), and what memories we make (with googly eyeballs and smelly unidentifiable things for sale all over Chinatown, this has got to be a goldmine).

    *Protégé. The word is protégé. “Mentee” sounds like an immature manatee or a dental hygiene product. My lady is neither of those things, she is befitting of an elegant word from the 1700s, not one made up in the mid-1960s when people were dropping acid.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  NYC

    I Need a Trip to Paramus Mall

    I’ve been feeling pretty worthless and insignificant lately. Past my prime? My biggest accomplishment behind me? I don’t know. I just have nothing really to look forward to or work toward. I’m not the same “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” kind of gal. I’m more “I’ll sleep [eat, drink, watch TV], because I have nothing else to do” kind of blob.

    Normally, I’d move on to the next adventure. Find another city, a new career, something else. But here I am, stuck in the supposedly greatest city of the world feeling lonely, bored, aimless. Feeling used and forgotten. Washed up and dried out. Done.

    Maybe I just need a quick trip to Paramus Mall.

  • Acting,  All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  NYC,  Theater,  TV & Movies

    Extra! Extra!

    Since leaving the 92YTribeca, I haven’t been able to commit to any gigs or new clients because of my book tour and speaking gigs. So, to make a few bucks and get out of the house during the time between tour dates, I’ve worked as an extra (or “background” as some prefer) on a ton of TV shows filming around NYC. I even booked an AARP commercial. I was not the RP, thankyouverymuch. I was a jogger that the RP was checking out. That said, I did get a callback for a menopause relief medicine. See also: definition of “bittersweet”.  /ˈbitərˌswēt/

    During a meeting with a commercial casting agent I was told I’m “a big girl” & “older”, had a great look that was perfect for soccer mom roles & pharmaceutical companies. It was a weird few minutes of feeling bloated, old and ugly, but hire-able because I’m photogenic and not morbidly obese. I can’t imagine embarking on this journey when I was an insecure 20-something. Now I’m a totally secure 40-something who just needs to lose weight, get Botox and a tan. This feeling is strongest after I see myself onscreen. Blech!

    At least it wasn’t me who Wardrobe point to and said “Okay, so you’re my ‘lady of the night’. You look great.” She was *not* a “lady of the night”, simply a bar patron. Oops. Oh, schadenfreude, you make me feel so young!

    But I’m having fun, getting paid when I’d otherwise be day drinking. During down-time on set I’m able to watch tons of “Cheers”, read dozens of books, and meet great people from Liza Minelli and Annie Potts to other everyday folks like me. I’m not loving New York City much these days, but where else but here could I truly swing this odd balance of freelance entrepreneurial gadabout?*

    ~Kambri
    *Seriously, tell me, because I’d like to move there.

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

    Big Apple Circus Review

    My protégé Jeaniah and I had an awesome date at the Big Apple Circus! In fact, I think this was our best date ever. We were both in great moods, excited for the show and had lots to talk about as we rode the subway to Lincoln Center*. The big tent itself was set up in Damrosch Park. We got our complimentary tickets (thanks again Marianne Ways!) and hit the concession stand where we loaded up on drinks, popcorn, Sour Patch Kids and cotton candy.

    J asked, “What color cotton candy do you want?”

    “It all tastes the same, so what color do we want our tongues to be?”

    She and I both looked at each other, smiled and said in unison, “BLUE!”

    Our seats were awesome –we were on the aisle just four rows from the ring!– but being in the round and only about 1,800 seats there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

    The theme was LEGENDARIUM: A Journey Into Circus Past and it was spectacular! Every act was cute, charming or downright thrilling, but we definitely had favorites.

    One such favorite was Zhang Fan who performed a slack wire act. I’ve never heard of such a thing and was mesmerized. He made the tight rope seem like child’s play. That rope is taut & still. The slack wire is just that and it’s constantly in motion. On this wavy, swinging wire, he carried out spectacular tricks like doing forward & backward somersaults, balancing himself with a ladder, and riding a unicycle. Upside down. On his head. Pedaling with his hands. Can’t believe it? Check out this photo of him I found online. What an incredible athlete. Olympians should train for the circus. Yowzah!

    I also enjoyed the juggling tango dancers. A husband and wife team that danced a beautifully choreographed tango all while the husband juggles balls and clubs. I’m not sure a kid can appreciate how much trust must be there for this act to be possible, but I was awed. I wouldn’t trust Christian throwing clubs all around me, let alone while we’re dancing a tango! But since Christian says I dance like a Sims character, we can safely assume this will never, ever be tested.

    Our favorite performer, no question, was the contortionist Elayne Kramer. Or as Jeaniah said, “I loved Elayne and her flexibility tricks.” The girl was a jellyfish. She can’t have any bones! She folded herself backwards and on top of herself and even held herself up with her mouth (see photo). That’s what blew Jeaniah away. I was screaming, “NO WAY! NUH UH! GET OUT!” every five seconds but was slack-jawed when it came to Ms. Kramer’s final trick. Turned upside-down (you know, how one does), she shot a bow & arrow with her feet. Yeah. You read that right.

    Not only did she shoot an arrow, she was aiming the arrow at a balloon, and hit her mark. Holy. Wow. I don’t have a picture of it but found this one online. Incredible, isn’t it? It’s one thing to be born without a spine, but this is skill, people. Strength, training and skill!

    Back in Queens, we stopped at my place. Jeaniah wanted to see our apartment**, meet my parakeet and make geodes. I showed her my wedding dress and she tried on my fascinator and had the dogs do tricks for treats. Before I drove her home, we hand wrote thank you cards to Marianne and the Big Apple Circus publicist who gave us the free tickets. Back at her place one of the other kids in the group home said, “You’re her mentor? She talks about you 24/7!” [Sideways huge smile face.]

    It was a day we won’t soon forget. We can’t recommend the Big Apple Circus enough. Thank you to everyone who make the show possible. We are still floating!

    ~Kambri
    *Check out this video I took of a cool subway busker we stopped to listen to at the Times Square station.

    **I asked Jeaniah if my apartment was what she excepted. She said, “No. I didn’t think there would be this many rooms and I thought you’d have more…what do you call them?”

    She gestured with her hands like she was holding little things.

    “Tchotchkes?”

    “What’s that?”

    “Souvenirs, collectibles, trinkets?”

    “Yeah! Because you travel all the time I thought you’d have more stuff.”

    What can I say? I hate clutter and the dust that goes with it.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  TV & Movies

    Yin Yang

    It’s like 2013 wants to make sure I keep pinching myself (or perhaps I’ve developed a disorder like trichotillomania or something) but this most lovely, fun, varied week will be capped off by the debut of Season three of Downton Abbey tonight at 9PM EST. (Search for “Masterpiece Classic” on your DVR rather than “Downton Abbey” if you want to tape it. Wish someone had told me that after very frustrating, confused searches over an entire week, so you’re welcome!)

    New York Magazine outdid itself with an episode-by-episode breakdown of the past two seasons and major plot points for each character. I told my protégé Jeaniah that I was looking forward to the show tonight, and that I wasn’t sure she’d like it but that I love it. “It’s set in 1910s and ’20s in this big, beautiful mansion and all the ladies wear gorgeous dresses and jewelry and they all talk in British accents and…”

    “And sip tea like this?” Jeaniah asked as she curtsied with an imaginary teacup with her pinky finger sticking up and a pompous look on her face.

    Exactly!

    Lest you think I’m all high falutin’, tonight I’m equally excited for the return of The Biggest Loser (or, as Christian calls it, “The Fattest Fatty”) and Jillian, one of the original and best trainers. I’ve cried during the opening sequence. Love seeing people work hard, tackle their demons and achieve goals. The show is at its worst when it lets it get too “reality TV” when contestants get hateful and let the color of money cloud their vision. Jillian keeps it real.

    ~Kambri
    I’m sure Mob Wives would be more “yang” to the “yin” of Downton Abbey but my stomach churned at seeing a 10-second promo for it. That’s the best 10 seconds they’ve got? Shee-it, I can see that from my fire escape around 4:15 AM every Sunday morning when the Latin nightclub downstairs stops serving. You can do better, Tee Vee Producer. Tsk! Tsk!

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

    A Decade Ago & Today

    Here’s a fun retro blog entry from 10 years ago today “The Morning After” which chronicles the first time I met Christian in person and mentioned him on my site. Feels like yesterday.

    But it’s not. It’s today.

    Today, I climbed down some precarious steps into a basement in Bushwick to record an indie / alt rock music video. I was there to film b-roll chorus footage of me and two other ASL signers for my pal Mike Doughty‘s music video of the song Sunshine off his new CD The Flip is Another Honey.

    Hot and thirsty, I took a quick swig of my drink. Mike saw me guzzling from the bottle and asked, “Is that…chocolate milk?”

    Yeah, I guess most 42-year-old women don’t drink chocolate milk and definitely not from bottles with cartoon rabbits on them. But, this one does! MMM! And she signs, too!

    I used the rest of my day to run errands and relax with my dogs as tomorrow is going to be a long and exciting day. <Whisper Voice> Don’t tell her, but I’m treating my protégé to a showing of the Big Apple Circus! </Whisper Voice> This is all in courtesy of my friend and superstar booker/producer Marianne Ways and the generosity of the circus. It means a lot to my Hour Children protégé to experience things like this, so big heartfelt thanks to them for the guest passes. We will be sure to write a review.

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