• 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,  Random,  TV & Movies

    No Child Left Behind

    Finished Season 4 of The Wire tonight and now I’m depressed and trolling for Wednesday’s Child looking for a kid to adopt like Petfinder.com. Except Petfinder.com is more user-friendly, updated and not filled with broken links. Poor kids. Time to get back to watching Cheers.

  • 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.

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

    Happiness Is…

    During Spring 2011, our first at the Rock House, I worried to Christian:

    “I think something’s wrong with me. I find myself staring into the woods for long spells. I’m not even thinking of anything…just staring at birds, squirrels, trees, leaves, nothing. For hours.”

    “You know what that’s called?” He asked.

    I stared blankly at him.

    “Happiness.”

    Rock House in Winter

    Hmph. Interesting.

    I guess I would draw the old “Happiness Is…” naked cartoon characters here in this photo.

    For multiple reasons, we usually travel over the Christmas holiday. In fact, we had just returned from an amazing trip to Peru when we signed the papers on January 4th, 2011, to purchase our little cabin in the woods. But for our first Christmas as homeowners, we wanted to spend it in no other place. We got a tree, made sugar cookies from scratch, and played tons of Scrabble and Monopoly. It was perfectly peaceful and simple.

    The year 2012 proved to be exhausting –in a good way– for both of us. Between my book tour and Christian’s TV and stand up work, we found ourselves traveling more than staying home. So, again, we wanted nothing more than a couple of weeks in the woods at our Rock House. We were so lazy, we didn’t even put up a tree (we did hang fresh pine garland, stockings and some twinkle lights) or swap gifts.

    Instead, we bought this mini pie pan (two egg soufflés and two chicken pot pies I baked are pictured at left) and stocked up on a bunch of new games like Mystery Rummy (Jack the Ripper), BlokusMr. Jack in New YorkCarcassonneMexican Train dominoesLost Cities and new jigsaw puzzles.

    Are we humbugs? Not really. It’s just that every morning waking up in the Rock House –no matter what the season– is like Christmas morning. There is a feeling of lightness here. The freedom to do nothing. I don’t have to be anywhere. I don’t want to be anywhere. This is it.

    Since we’d no place to go, I sang, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

    Three was the magic number it seems. I enjoyed three snowfalls for 12+ inches of snow, three jigsaw puzzles, three seasons of Cheers, season three of “The Wire”, and three books (The Other Wes Moore, Hands of My Father, Just Kids).

    Over a week of being disconnected (I didn’t post a thing on Facebook, didn’t read the news & contemplated closing my Twitter account) and not being able to come up with a single goal for 2013, I finally updated my status to say, “Stick a fork in me.”

    I’m done. I have nothing to look forward to, to work towards, to want or need. Will this feeling change? Probably. But until then, I’m left to wonder how and why I tried so hard at anything.

    So perhaps the cartoon should read:

    “Happiness is…

    a terrible thing for ambition.”

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Rock House

    Confucius say: Dog may be man’s best friend, but pussy not far behind.

    Down to my last few logs leftover from last winter, I dialed a number from a roadside sign advertising firewood. A few hours later, seventy-two-year-old Max showed up in his big honking monster truck at sundown and drove off the edge of the driveway. Any further, and we’d have a big problem. I stepped into my rubber boots, grabbed a windbreaker and raced out of the house. I flagged him down and said he could park right where he was since we would be unloading the wood on the bottom level of the house.

    He wanted his truck facing the opposite direction, so I looked on helplessly as he plowed his way to the top of our driveway, turned around, came barreling back down, and skidded to a stop.

    Watching him behind the wheel reminded me of when I was eight-years-old, and I drove my cousin’s four-wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle way too fast with skinny little arms steering it. ATVs –like Max’s truck– are unwieldy in the wrong hands! Dad had plopped me on to the ATV with no protective glasses or helmet, just a quick lesson on how to make the thing go. I had shot out of the yard like a funny car drag racer and three very blurry seconds later Dad was disentangling me from a briar patch. After a quick inspection revealed no damage done, Dad apologized for neglecting to teach me how to stop. He showed me the brakes, and off I was again flying through trails till I ran out of gas.

    Max had simply graduated from an ATV to a two-ton truck that he drove way too fast with arms too frail. As he backed the truck off the edge of the gravel drive, the very wet earth gave way. I hollered that he should stop. “Let me just get the truck level,” he insisted. Back and forth he rolled, “leveling” the truck and tearing up the edge of the drive and making deep ruts in the mud. As if he sensed my anxiety he said, “Don’t worry, this is a 4-wheeler. I can get this in and out of anything.”

    Ya know what Confucius should also say? “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” This is my yard, dill weed!

    Using a cracked plastic paint bucket as a step, he hoisted his old, arthritic body on the third try into the back of the truck and proceeded to unload the half cord of firewood at the end of our long walkway. (See photo at left to give you an idea.) The last load of wood we’d had delivered came with two young bucks carrying arms full to a pile they neatly stacked outside our basement door. Max was not a young buck and probably could not handle such strenuous activity. I would have to haul the logs to the house and assemble a stack on my own.

    I took a deep breath and reminded myself that he’s elderly, the damage is nothing a shovel won’t fix, and I could use the exercise. So rather than leave him out in the quickly darkening sky without help, I stood in my thin windbreaker and dress, and chatted with Max as he unloaded one. single. log. at. a. time.

    When one log went errant, I squatted to pick it up and quickly realized my mistake. In my haste to stop Max from getting his two-ton truck stuck in my ditch, I had run out of the house without putting on my leggings. Showing an old man your snatch has got to be Step #1 in the woman’s version of the book How To Win Friends and Influence People. It happened in a nano-second but I’m sure that even in the dusky night with the eyesight of a seventy-two-year-old, a heterosexual male’s brain is able to compute in a fraction of that time the image of a lady’s beaver. And after spending a week in the woods, a beaver is probably what my gal looks like.

    His eyes darted back up faster than I stood and we went along chatting away as though we were none the wiser. Among the things discussed:

    — He and his wife just returned from spending the night at Mount Airy Casino where she played the slots and he played poker. The casino puts them up, gives them steak dinner and they have real games unlike the closer Monticello Raceways.

    — He has three sons and a daughter. Of the four children, only one bothers to call or have anything to do with him. “They can’t be bothered.” [Insert sound of my heart breaking.] The daughter has three children (a 12-year-old and 9-year-old twins) and is the only one divorced. She and her cop husband split because she cheated.

    — A recent Kinsey study shows that women cheat on men far more often than previously reported because people lie on surveys.

    — Estrous cycles of animals rule their sexual appetite. Because a woman is almost always in estrous, her sexuality is much more fluid. Take deer for example…(I tune out a little at this point because I know about the sex lives of deer and a few logs went bonkers, and I didn’t want to flash the gash again.)

    — He “very much believe[s] in God” and he believes in Evolution “because you’d have to be a moron not to. I mean, it’s just common sense when you look at everything.”

    — Since humans think we should all live no matter what and so true evolution can’t exist, genocide has served as a man-made thinning of the herd. On his theory he said, “I can’t talk about this stuff around these parts or I’d be run out of town, but I feel like I can share this with you.” [SEE! I told you I should consider running for office!]

    I helped Max turn over the metal crate holding the last few logs and he packed up his bucket to leave. He was headed home to his wife whom he’d left sleeping in her rocking chair. Usually she prepares a three-course meal (salad, dinner, dessert), however, the trip was so exhausting and they ate so much at the casino, they were having an early supper of a simple bowl of soup.

    As he hopped back behind the wheel he said, “You have my number. Call me if you need any help and if you’d like to join me and my wife to a trip to the casino, you’re welcome.”

    “As long as you’re not driving,” I thought.

    Max continued, “I know that we’ve just met, but I feel like I’ve made a new friend.” [Step #1 is #1 for a reason. Friend WON!]

    Max was gone and my previously broken heart was mended and filled with love.

    This morning, I was tempted to call Max to say, “Hey, you offered to help. Well, can you help me load the logs into a pile?” I would’ve been joking, of course, but I didn’t want to make him feel bad. So I put on my big girl panties (literally and figuratively ) and got to work. Here is the result of my morning’s labor.

    ~Kambri 
    Always listen to your mothers. Always wear underwear. Never mind the clean part. Just wear underwear.

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

    Thanksgiving 2012

    Without friends and family, Thanksgiving is just a fancy, fattening dinner with an inhumane amount of cleanup. So I’m thankful to have shared the holiday weekend with Christian and his stepbrother & sister-in-law at our Rock House. As y’all know, I’m not much of a cook but hot damn! I have yet to mess up a turkey. I cooked my fourth one (Ever! In my whole life!) and it was the best one to date. So juicy, so perfectly browned, so delicious! Christian got a fancy electric knife and surgically removed every possible ounce of meat with the precision of a serial killer. (Turn on!) Monopoly, charades, antiquing and a lot of food and drink equaled a sublime time. I hope your Thanksgiving was equally fun and relaxing.
    Billy Ray Cyrus & Kambri on Set
    We returned to NYC today to a full DVR. So the episode of  Are We There Yet? in which I appeared as a featured extra was bumped off the playlist because of 8 million recordings of Too Cute.*  My stepsister in Fort Worth happened to catch it live which is how I discovered it was on in the first place. Hopefully it will re-air some time, because you wouldn’t want to miss me staring into the back of Billy Ray Cyrus‘ perfectly coiffed head, would you? You would? Fine! Oh wait! What’s this? A still photo of the very scene? Lucky you.

    Walking Dead, Survivor, Dexter, 30 Rock & I Love the 1880s (the new History Channel Show that Christian is on) survived the Too Cute massacre so my dance card is full tonight. Especially after you add the eleven — ELEVEN — seasons of Cheers that are streaming on Netflix. I watched Season 1 over the long weekend and laughed out loud and harder than I have at anything in a very long time. I love me a good set-up / punch.

    So, I’ll see you after some zombies attack a pregnant woman, an 80s child star masterminds a coups, and Dexter and his sister do it. Yeah…it. You know, the usual.**

    ~Kambri

    *One guess as to who scheduled that series?

    **Now I know why I’m loving Cheers: It’s simplicity is refreshing.

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

    Forget Spinach! Try Watergate Salad!

    You’re thinking, “It’s Thanksgiving eve, shops have run out of Twinkies and the eBay price gouging has me down. What’s a girl to do?”

    Or, maybe you’re wondering, “What can I fill my plate with that has the word salad in it but isn’t salad because GROSS? Who wants healthy stuff on Thanksgiving?!”

    Never fear! Watergate Salad is here!

    It’s a salad and a dessert. It’s green but sweet. And it has all the nutrients you’ll miss after suffering from Twinkie Shock Syndrome.

    Hifalutin types probably think any dessert with main ingredients of Cool Whip or Jell-O is low class. And they’d be right. But they’d also be missing out on the glory that is Watergate Salad. It’s so easy to make, I assigned it as a task for Christian nine years ago on our first Thanksgiving. (Read that blog entry here. The fluffy, white-looking stuff on our plate is the salad. In real life, it’s mint green. I’ll add a new photo of mine when I make it in the morning.)

    He didn’t own a bowl back then so, yeah, it was like telling a ring bearer to go count the number of flowers in a church during a wedding to make him feel important and keep him out of the way. (Sorry, Christian. It’s time I told you the truth.)

    Okay, back to the “salad”. Here’s what you need:

    1 8oz crushed pineapple
    1 box instant pistachio pudding
    1 cup miniature marshmallows
    1 cup chopped pecans
    1 9oz cool whip

    Here’s what you do:

    Mix pineapple and pudding mix first then stir in other ingredients. Let it set in the fridge until you’re ready to stuff your face. It gets better with age, so if you have the time make it a day or two in advance. Put down the remote and make it already!

    Bone apatitty!

  • 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,  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,  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,  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.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  PR & Marketing

    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!

  • 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

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

    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,  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!

  • All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Family & Life,  Rock House

    Christmas on the Rocks

    We usually head out of the country for Christmas (check out last year’s epic trip to Peru), but 2011 is a different sort of year for us.

    Almost one year ago we bought our first home (the “Rock House”) and just weeks after that we welcomed into our lives a rescued mutt (the “Griswold”).

    Since it’s our first Christmas at the Rock House and Griswold’s first Christmas EVER we are doing it up right. Christmas tree erecting, wood fire burning, vinyl records spinning, meals crock-potting, fresh orange juicing, cookie baking, movie watching, Scrabble and Monopoly playing…it doesn’t get much better than this.

    Day two had my boys cuddled up doing crosswords and staring out of the Rock House window at anything that moved. Guess who was doing what.

    Our tree has no decorations and we aren’t exchanging gifts, unless you count the rolling pin Christian bought me yesterday.*

    But really who cares?

    We’re together and warm and happy and this year has been one rife with gifts that can’t be bought. I hope this season is equally blessed for you and yours and that 2012 brings good tidings to us all!

    *Oh, I’m totally counting that and will use it in an argument years from now when he has forgotten that I asked for him to buy a rolling pin while running errands so I could make him sugar cookies.

  • All Blog Entries,  Anipals,  Family & Life,  Rock House

    Wiping Up

    Ah! The halcyon days of autumn at the Rock House! I want to scoop them up and smother them in a jar filled with nail polish remover to preserve them until they’re dust-covered, crumbly exoskeletons.

    I spent a lovely week in October partaking in the three Rs: Running, Reading and Relaxing. One evening, while watching La Vie en Rose, Griswold came cowering into the living room and hid behind the recliner. His tucked-under tail, panicked pace and look of mortification on his face could only mean one thing:

    There was poop stuck in his butt.

    I know I’m projecting human emotion on an animal, but he looked downright humiliated as I came to his rescue. Picture the saddest doe eyes, tiny whimpers, and a tail thumping quickly while still carefully covering the crime scene.

    Watching a French film –subtitles and all– while sipping a rich Malbec made me feel oh so chic. Needing to pause said movie to wipe and cut away feces from my dog’s rear end reminded me that I am not. None of us are. As they say, everybody poops.

    Another thing this experience taught me: My scissors are painfully dull.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  NYC

    How’s this for a Memorial Day weekend?

    Friday, I rode my new bicycle to a protest. Now I just need to grab a granola bar and stop shaving and my transformation will be complete. I WILL be the person I would have rolled eyes at.

    The impromptu rally I attended was in reaction to NYPD officers Moreno & Mata, aka the “Rape Cops,” being acquitted of rape. Luckily, they were found guilty of a few lesser charges so Ray Kelly promptly fired them from the NYPD. Their sentencing isn’t till later in June and, hopefully, seeing the public’s outrage at the verdict the sentence will be the harshest allowed (2 years) for the lesser crime of misconduct.

    Incidentally, “attend a rally” is on my re-vamped bucket list. I had forgotten this until I was actually chanting with the crowd outside the Supreme Court in lower Manhattan. Since writing that post, I’ve also now ridden the Orient Express, though it was in Peru. I still want ride the REAL Orient Express.

    Anyway, all told, I rode about 18 miles through Manhattan, Brooklyn & Queens during rush hour traffic, including the smelly streets of Chinatown, and only fell once (while stopped at a traffic light and trying to adjust myself on my seat — stupid), scraping my right knee but not to the point where I needed to stop for a band-aid or anything. Not bad for my first time!

    I was ever grateful I didn’t injure myself because at the crack of dawn Saturday morning, Christian & I hopped a flight to Akron/Canton for my ex-husband’s niece’s wedding. She didn’t know I was coming as her mom, my ex-sister-in-law Tracy, wanted it to be a surprise. Upon seeing us at the church, Alisha burst into happy tears! I was worried the shock wouldn’t go over well but she was overjoyed. I hugged so many ex-in-laws and friends that my rotator cuffs are sore.

    We flew back to NYC less than 24 hours later, picked up Griswold from the vet where he had been neutered. I headed in to Manhattan for a lovely dinner with Tex in the City pals, Scott Ramsey & Greg Gorman, and today has been video games, writing the acknowledgements for Burn Down the Ground, and general laziness. What a perfect weekend!

    We really need to learn how to operate iPhone cameras because none of our wedding photos are that great. But here we are from top to bottom:  Me & Alisha, me, ex-husband and current husband duke it out, me & my ex-husband (aka The Sailor for those of you who follow my http://www.lovedaddy.org/ blog), and poor little Griswold.

    Kambri

  • All Blog Entries,  Christian Finnegan,  Comedy,  Family & Life,  Random

    Erik Estrada is in Mortal Peril

    Will Christian Seek Revenge on Nemesis Erik Estrada

    During a little cocktail party prior to the TV Land Awards, a certain Mr. Erik Estrada had me swooning. The man I knew and loved as the star of CHiPs was as charming, good looking and fun loving as the 8-year-old me had hoped and dreamed. See evidence Exhibit A to the right: Erik and I gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes, as my then fiancé, Christian Finnegan sulks nearby.

    Read my original blog posts here and here and here.

    Five years have passed since I was hypnotized by Ponch’s spell, and I still get giggly thinking about the moment.

    Today Christian is filming a scene with none other than Erik Estrada on the set of TBS’s Are We There Yet?. He’ll be on Christian’s turf. The question remains: has Christian forgiven him for working his Latin magic on his lady?

    Kambri
    If not, he might have to recruit Terry Crews to help take him out. I mean, have you seen the Ponch in action?

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  NYC

    Bucket List 2.0

    I have a confession to make: I’m closing in on the big 4-0. Yes, I know I’ve been telling many of you that I was 40 for a few years now. I lied. Forgive me. Now that we’ve gotten past that, let’s move on to the subject of this post. I’m re-vamping my “Things To Do Before I Die” list. Let me refresh your memory from an old post…

    I was 17 and a senior in high school when I got hitched and was 23 years old when my divorce from the sailor was finalized. After six years masquerading as a Midwestern housewife, I was free to be Me. Trouble was, the definition of “Me” had yet to be determined. I decided this huge upheaval of my life would not be for naught. I would reclaim my lost youth by creating a list oh-so-creatively titled “Things To Do Before I Die.” However, I never had a plan on how I would accomplish a single thing.

    Ten years later, during a move to a new apartment in New York City, I purged lots of old journals, letters and pictures and came across this list. I was tempted to throw it out; some of my items were downright embarrassing. “Be serenaded.” Really? I assure you, I didn’t want that then, and I most definitely don’t want it now.* I clearly wanted to be loved.

    In looking closer, though, I was pretty astounded at how earnest and mundane most of the items were. Ride a train, eat sushi, see a parade — check, check, check.

    Growing up in the woods, being responsible for myself, working full time at a very young age, I simply hadn’t done anything. See a Broadway play, learn to golf, vote, ride the subway, have my hair styled, handcraft pottery, learn to bike, go on a cruise, picnic, ice skate. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check.

    A week to the day the auction ended in which I sold my memoir to Random House, I remembered my List. I dug out the journal and scoured the numbered items and found:

    8. Write my autobiography.

    Seeing it written so plainly in my earnest naivete — as though writing a book were as simple as riding a train, eating sushi, or seeing a parade — makes me marvel at one’s ability to get things done. Other “never in a million years would this ever happen to me” stuff I listed did, in fact, happen: walk the red carpet, attend a movie premiere, and be self employed.

    I’m proud of having broken free and carving out a pretty interesting, varied life for myself. That said, there is still quite a bit of simple stuff on my list I have yet to accomplish. There is no other time like now to “get busy living or get busy dying”. Thoughts DO become things and so I want to write a new list of things to do. Below are some to get me started:

    Ride on the Orient Express.
    Master the ukulele.
    Compose a song.
    Get a pedicure.
    Get a massage.
    Drive across the U.S.
    Build a snowman.
    Participate in a rally.
    Ride a camel.
    See the Grand Canyon.
    Go sled riding.

    I’d love to know what’s on YOUR list and input on what should be on mine.

    Kambri
    *Was “serenaded” to by my husband on our 4th wedding anniversary. He sang “Any Way You Want It” by Journey during karaoke at Sunswick in Astoria at my behest. Now THAT is more my speed.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life

    Cheese Texas-Style

    What a difference a few years makes. The first time I brought Christian down to visit my mom at her home in Magnolia, Texas, she made us dinner. The appetizer was chips & queso followed by a main course of cheese fudge. Why, yes, that IS a two course meal made entirely of cheese. Well, not if you count the chips which served merely as a vessel with which to ingest MORE CHEESE.

    This visit, she was on the South Beach diet and prepared a healthy breakfast of veggies and eggs and ate big, delicious salads in downtown Montgomery. She’s lost a few pounds already and I hope she’ll hop on the treadmill soon so we can do a 5K the next time I see her. (Heck, I hope *I* can do a 5K. My right knee and both feet have been troubling me since running the half marathon.) Either way, kudos to her for taking the first step towards getting healthier.

    Kambri
    Cheese lover, but have limits. Cheese fudge pushed them.

  • All Blog Entries,  Christian Finnegan,  Family & Life

    Fancy Footwork


    Fancy Footwork
    Originally uploaded by kambricrews

    When bowling, Christian does this little stutter step move every single time. It gets funnier with each new turn. He cannot bowl without doing it. He tried and failed to do so a few times after my mom and I were in hysterics and teasing him.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Running

    Half Marathon "Medal"


    Half Marathon “Medal”
    Originally uploaded by kambricrews

    My nieces and sister-in-law gave me this “medal” and awesome notes of encouragement and congratulations on finishing my 1st half marathon.

    I’ve been laid up with extensor tendinitis since last Wednesday & have been missing running. Their notes made me miss it even more. I hope to get back there soon and earn another “medal” just for them!

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life

    Bed, Bath & Beyond

    Now that we have a car (!!!!) we can do things like shop for large items without concern if we can physically carry them home. We took the Thunder Nugget out for a spin and filled him with things from Bed Bath & Beyond, a magical place where I believe I am a master chef and homemaker.
    The first set of sliding doors opened and I grabbed a bag of 100 tea light candles from a display and tossed them into the shopping cart. I WASN’T EVEN IN THE STORE. The second set of sliding doors opened and I was bedazzled. WHERE DO I BEGIN!?!? Christian had the same wild-eyed look. It was like we had broken into Santa’s Workshop.
    “Okay, we need to calm down,” he panted. “Let’s look at our list.”

    Right! Our list! We smartly and thankfully made one:
    Trash Can (SimpleHuman and worth every penny! Who knew a garbage could be improved upon and so very awesome?!)
    Shower Head (Installed in a jiffy by yours truly)
    — Toilet Seat (Also installed by yours truly. No photo. Did you really want one?)
    This cream pitcher turned vase and Ped Egg were things I did not need but suddenly felt I MUST HAVE THEM! They are mine now. So are these popsicle makers, a bajillion AA batteries, felt pads for the bottom of chairs, Brita filters, a soap dispenser and tons of other stuff that I simply could NOT leave behind in the store.
    Not everything is irresistible. It is unlikely I will shake my way to firm & fabulous arms despite what the box tells me.
    $375 later, the Thunder Nugget was filled with STUFF. We didn’t even need to put the back seats down, but we did because we CAN! After a quick and delicious lunch at Jackson Hole Diner f/k/a The Air Line Diner, we were home and unpacking our new “toys.” I was gleeful and inspired to make sugar free pudding pops with chunks of bananas and strawberries with my new popsicle makers. Domesticity is fun again.

    Kambri
    The Ped Egg? It’s LEGIT. No matter who you are, if I draw your name in Secret Santa this year, you will receive this.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Running

    Back in the Saddle

    Memorial Day has come and gone. I was *supposed* to be in Los Angeles running a half marathon with my cousin’s wife and her brother. Instead I spent it moping around my NYC apartment wishing I were there. They ran it without me and did quite well. I’m so proud of her and her incredible transformation. Since October ’08 to date she’s gone from a 213 pound woman who couldn’t walk a mile to a woman who is fit and can run a half marathon!

    I was so frustrated and disappointed to not be there to see her cross the finish line and, damn it, I wanted to cross it, too. Why wasn’t I there, you ask? Because I’ve let work take over my life. I feel at the fed up point she did back in ’08 when she said, “Enough. I’ve had enough.”

    No, I don’t have weight to lose and, yes, I already run (I ran 10.75 miles today, in fact), but the small things in life are passing me by. I am, by nature, a workaholic. I’ve actually had days when I never saw the sun because my office is in the basement and I don’t come up for air. I haven’t seen my dad in 3 yrs, for crying out loud.

    Kambri
    Enough. I’ve had enough. It’s time for a change.

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

    Shout Out on Olbermann!

    Happy anniversary to me! Christian was on Olbermann and gave me a shout out at the very end. Awww! Awesome and sweet!

    Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

    Kambri

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

    Seven Years Ago

    Seven years ago, I was hanging out with a “B” as in “boy” -illionaire till the wee hours of the morning. At one point he grabbed my hand and deliciously whispered into my ear, “Kambri, when you live in my world, you can do anything you want.”

    Indeed, in his world, you can.

    At the same time, 1,542 miles away, Dad was stabbing Gloria.

    Kambri

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  NYC

    Birthday Wishes & Caviar Dreams

    I spent the morning of my 38th birthday perched on my fire escape like I was in the balcony of a theater.

    Not quite 5:00 AM, the sun was making its rise to my right. The Chrysler and Empire State Buildings were still shadows to my left. Their lights were out and the sun was not high enough to make them glisten.

    Below me, drunken club goers shouted in Spanish, threw punches and bled on the sidewalk. Bouncers from the corner Latin dance club swarmed to the scene. With lightening speed, they shoved half of the warring factions into a compact car that squealed its tires through a red light.

    This is New York City Masterpiece Theatre at its rawest.

    I hadn’t slept in nearly 24 hours, but I was happy.

    Pass the popcorn, please.

    Kambri
    Tired and happy.

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

    The Internet Sucks Sometimes

    I went to wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook and saw his status that said my grandma is on her death bed.

    Oh.

    Wow.

    I didn’t know.

    I didn’t leave a note. What was I going to say? “Yay, happy birthday, my grandma will soon be dead but, hey, you made it another year. Yippee!”

    My brother didn’t know either. Well…he does now. Life in the digital age is strange new territory. The internet has made keeping in touch easier but the social etiquette of things isn’t all laid out nice and neat. I think it’s safe to say, though, immediate family should be informed before a status update. Or maybe Twittering an actual death is the best, most modern way of spreading the news. It worked for David Carradine.

    So, now I have the task of telling my dad that his mother might be dead very soon. She’s 92 so it’s not like it’s not been a long time coming, but he’s been asking about her a lot lately. Not because he’s worried about her so much. He’s more interested in protecting the furniture he made her and other material things. He has nothing and so he broods and worries and frets and boils over and hems and haws and…well…you get the picture. He’s got TIME on his HANDS.

    I worry that when she does pass, he will enlist me with another laundry list of To Dos. Ask about this, make sure about that. Well, guess what, Dad? If you weren’t in jail, you could do this yourself because I really don’t care about *things*. I’ve shed myself of house and home and junk more times than I can count. I like being portable. I don’t want cars or furniture or stuff.

    …Sigh…

    But…he has no advocate. No one is listening to him and that’s a big bugga boo for him for so long. To not be heard.  So, if he needs help in being heard, I’m the only one here to give that to him.

    And I will.

    And I’m not sure why.

    Kambri

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life

    TMI Vol. 8, Issue 2

    “Be honest, Kambri,” Donna said dripping with accusation in a morphed New York, London, Virgin Islands accent. “Whattuv yew bin doin’?”

    “What are you asking? Have I been lifting weights? Noooooo, of course not.”

    “Kambri….whattuv yew bin doin’?”

    “I live on the 4th floor of a walk up and the subway is two blocks away. What do you think I was doing?”

    OF COURSE I was active. Even the Asian lady and Jose the short order cook at my corner deli asked where I was when they saw Christian with our dog for my morning coffee run. I needed to be with my people. The whole no walking two blocks thing was meant for the old folks they usually deal with anyway, right?

    Wrong. My stitches were removed and, as I discovered, the whole not walking two blocks thing was real and that extra third week tacked on for my healing was much needed.

    Okay, so the cancer was POW! ERADICATED! but there’s still the gaping hole in my head that needs some tending to. And the hole, while on the mend, is still a fleshy divot that looks like a giant ingrown hair.  Think Godzilla size if Godzilla had a hair follicle that grew in. In fact, I have to make an appointment to go back to the doctor simply to remove the ingrown hairs they’re expecting. I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really wish I could be the one to free them. But the doctor said NO! with a kind of gross shock and awe guffaw reply, “You won’t be able to reach them!” But why the shock and awe? YOU GET TO DO IT. Not fair. That is some satisfying shit like popping a zit or freeing a baby from a well.

    Christian has been a fabulous nursemaid but the road beckons. He is headlining at the DC Improv this weekend and today is his birthday. Some celebration taking his wife to get stitches taken out and examining my new hair follicles in way too bright of light. I’m sure he’s fantasizing about my stubbly gash right now.

    In his absence, banished to my 4th floor apartment, I ordered prepped meals from Fresh Direct arriving some time between 4 & 6 tomorrow, and my buddy Jose swung by with some necessities to tide me over till then. You know: V-8, toilet paper and beer.

    Neither place, however, delivers Bacitracin or nurse services and trying to swab  a gaping wound in the reversed mirror image of your own head is a weird / hard / painful / gross / fucked up / sad / laughable trial and error with heavy weight on the error part. Basically Bacitracin is serving as a deep conditioning treatment for the new hair growth which is surprisingly thick and dark. Very dark. So dark, I might go brown when I finally get to get a shave and a haircut since I will never go in the sun again ever. EVER. You hear that, Texas?

    Ummm. What else? Oh, yes, so it’s Christian’s worst birthday ever, and I snuck a thank you / birthday card in his suitcase. There really are no words to express how thankful I am to my friends for stepping forward with some chocolate, US Weekly, morbid humor, normalcy and general occupation with stupid emails. But Christian? This Bud’s for you (if you drank Bud) and I tried to say so in a note that made him cry…

    On the toilet.

    ON THE TOILET.

    He read my heartfelt thank you for taking care of my stubbly gash when I thought I was burying myself and willing my dog and things to friends and writing the final chapter of my book…nay, my life…ON THE TOILET WHILE TAKING A DUMP AND STARTED CRYING.

    What can I say, it was moving. Hey-O!

    Kambri
    Gash.  Heh.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life

    Psst! Hey Kid, Wanna See My Scar?

    Now that I’ve gotten the all clear from my doctor, I feel like I can unload what’s been occupying my every thought, every hour, every minute, every second of every day: I had some cancer scooped out of my scalp.

    Basically, I had a half dollar-sized birthmark on my scalp that went haywire and required a chemosurgery called Mohs Technique. Sometimes it’s not a good thing, the Internet, because I spent the week preparing for surgery doing Google image searches of Mohs and generally freaking myself out. Even though the survival rate of Mohs is quite high (upper 90s percentile a/k/a seriously-ridiculous-to-worry level), I had planned a very elaborate funeral and Scott & Brian called dibs on my dog Paquita.

    After the surgery, I sent Mom and a few close friends a wrap-up which I’ll share part of here:

    Subject: De Pain, Boss! De Pain!

    So that sucked, but thank God it’s done. Despite some minor downsides, I think it’s all good.

    It went from “Do you have Tylenol at home?” to “Have you ever taken Tylenol with Codeine?” to “Are you allergic to Percocet and Oxycontin and Tramadol?”

    I was awake for the whole thing and, um, yeah, it’s surreal to hear your scalp getting cut away with scissors and to know it’s not going well. Close your eyes and imagine the sound of chewing a mouthful of Cap’n Crunch except the crunching, tearing sound isn’t cereal, it’s your head. Still hungry? Neither was I.

    To put  my Humpty Dumpty scalp back together they called in Oliver, a Spanish fellow who thinks Lil Rounds is going to win this season American Idol*, to push and pull and grunt and hold my scalp in place while they clamped it shut. WTF? How far we’ve come with medicine but it takes some hairy man arms to pull me back together. He did everything except use his feet to leverage more strength. Barbaric / Awesome.

    The major downside is that due to the extra scooping and cutting they had to do, an extra week was tacked on before the stitches can come out. I am only allowed to walk two blocks at a time but, since I’m on the 4th floor of a walk up they said that’s definitely out. So, thank heavens for DVRs, DVDs and the Internet. But Facebook + Wordscraper + Percocet + Tramadol + Oxycontin = zero writing on my book.

    Christian canceled his week at the Ft. Lauderdale Improv so he could take care of me. Twice a day for over two weeks now he has cleaned and bandaged the giant, bloody gash on my head**. I can’t thank the Universe enough for bringing us together. Although we’re kind of getting sick of being around each other this much — usually I’m in the city and/or he’s on the road for at least part of every week — there’s no one else I’d rather annoy or be annoyed by.

    Late Thursday, I learned that I’m all clear. No further surgery, chemo or radiation required. So now, I just have to get the stitches out and grow my hair back. For the non-squeamish, here’s a link to a photo of the scar in the making. It’s not a small area as you can see and two and half weeks after the surgery, my hair is only 1/8 of an inch long. I haven’t gotten a haircut in months and my hair is scraggly and patchy and awful.  I’ll be glad to see my hairstylist Daniel again and have him whip up some magic around the gash.

    Christian’s DVD tour will be starting soon and I was looking forward to traveling with him to Texas to see old friends — some for the first time in 20 years. And while I would rather not sport a short ‘do, it’s better than being bald or, you know, dead. So, instead, I’ll see y’all soon wearing a snappy new spring beret and pretending I’m your French cousin.

    Kambri
    *Clearly Oliver is there for his braun not brain. Lil Rounds has as much of a chance of winning American Idol as I do starring in a shampoo commercial. Ain’t happening.

    **No sooner did I praise him before he got on the radio and said my wound looked like a second vagina. Bloody gash, indeed!

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

    A Petty Officer and a Gentleman

    Moving in to your horse’s barn because your trailer got repossessed is what some folks might call a low point. It was time for a drastic change, so my parents moved us to the big city of N. Richland Hills, TX.

    It was there — when I was 16 — I met a 22 year old Sailor. It was love at first sight. It was greatest four weeks of my life. The Petty Officer from Akron, Ohio, was shy, tan and muscular and drove a white Trans Am with a fake vent on its hood. Mom said he looked just like JFK, Jr. The movie Top Gun had just been released so when I first saw him covered in grease from working on an F-14 Tomcat I thought my uterus would crawl out of my vagina and snatch him whole and devour him like a hungry Venus flytrap from a Roger Corman flick.

    Read the rest at LoveDaddy.org.

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Random

    Memories from My Old Country Home

    I sent an old friend from Montgomery, TX my yearbooks from our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years and she mailed me her senior year yearbook. I knew some of the students since I was seven years old. If we hadn’t moved to Ft. Worth before my 10th grade year, I would have graduated with them. So it was genuinely interesting and also kind of heartwarming to see them in a way I hadn’t seen them before: older than when I left them, about to embark on a new phase of their lives.

    After going through the Facebook Page I mentioned below, Mom decided to mail me some old photos I don’t have and some other notes and tidbits she’s kept over the years to add to the page.

    And, best of all, as a Christmas surprise, my brother mailed me an old wrought iron bell in the shape of a longhorn. We used to ring it when we wanted my horse Charlie Brown to come back to the barn for food or I wanted to saddle him up for a ride. It’s been through a lot, not unlike me, my brother and mom. Looking at it brings back so many memories and I’m grateful to him for sending it. I’m going to hang it alongside an old kerosene lamp my mom mailed me a year or so ago. We used to use the lamp in the months before we had electricity. The knob to raise and lower the wick is rusted and stuck, so I doubt it will be in working order again but, like the bell, it’s a lovely inspiration and a reminder of my country roots displayed in my New York City apartment.

    Kambri
    Waxing nostalgic.

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

    I Wonder

    If a deaf schizophrenic still hears voices.

    If anyone else kept the shoes they walked home in on 9/11.

    Or the shoes they walked in for Blackout of ’04.

    Why it took my passport only 1.5 weeks to arrive. Aren’t we in post-9/11? A white girl from TX isn’t scary as all git out?How I never opened the drawer that held the jeans I’m now wearing in over two years. These jeans are phenomenal.Why Maybelline, the bunny I rescued while in NOLA after Katrina, doesn’t like coming out of her cage anymore. Sideways sad face.

    What story I should tell on Tuesday at SpeakEasy Stories.
    If anyone else’s rent did not go up. Ours stayed the same for the first time in four years.
    Why I’m so attached to clothes I haven’t worn in ages.
    Where all these pens came from.
  • All Blog Entries,  Comedy,  Family & Life,  Writing

    Sabbatical Update, Part II

    The Comix questions have subsided, though, I did end up going in on Friday after a day full of errands. I dropped off my holiday cards for my assistant to stamp and mail, took care of Greg Fitzsimmons’ and Patrice Oneal’s press itineraries, and answered some pressing emails.

    I got my passport renewed and dropped off my laptop which I’m picking up today. It had a virus on it which they eliminated before installing some protective firewall stuff and cleaned off all the unnecessary programs. All told, it cost $220. Pretty fair cost, in my opinion. I usually just buy a new version when I start to have trouble with my gadgets, so I’m pleased with myself for being frugal and taking care of what’s already mine.

    I only dropped off half the home videos I intended because the price I was quoted over the phone of $5 each, suddenly jumped to $20 each. Yikes! I left the longest recordings, mostly videos of plays I starred in years ago, the rest I can easily transfer to Mini DV here at home. I had just walked four avenues in an awful snow / sleet storm, was pouring down sweat and my feet were soaked and freezing due to the giant puddles on every corner. So when the guy told me the $15 price difference, I kind of had a melt down. It was funny watching him not know what to do or say to make me feel better. It wasn’t his fault, I told him, but I still wasn’t happy to have walked so far out of the way to HIS video store when there’s dozens more convenient places around the City. I knew that $5 price was too good to be true, but I had been quoted a similar price for a back room operation that runs out of a porn shop. I figured I’d go with the legit business and, well, it cost me.

    No takers on the armoire. How does anything get sold on Craig’s List? I keep hearing how easy it is but we didn’t get one single inquiry. It’s gorgeous and a bargain. I suppose we should wait till after the holidays. Or we can just hire some of the guys that loiter around Metropolitan Lumber looking for day labor to help us carry it down two flights so Salvation Army will pick it up. (S.A. will only pick up furniture two flights up or less.)

    I’ve gone to the gym three more times, so that’s six out of ten days I’ve put in a good work out. I’m down three pounds total. (There’s no goal number in mind, and I’m sure I’ll gain it back once I go back to work. I just find it interesting to see how conscious living / eating has such immediate results.) I indulged at a comedy industry party and had sugar and lots of wine, as expected. Other than that, I’ve stuck to no sugar and no alcohol. I’ve not eaten a lot of sugar since Christian lost his weight almost 3 years ago, so it hasn’t been hard, thankfully. I remember when we first “de-toxed” from sugar and it was maddening. Hard doesn’t define it. Sugar is evil.

    I’ve had a few days of non-writing thanks to the aforementioned errand running, Comix day and holiday party, but I’m still up 14,000 words. When I get home from today’s errands, I’ll pick up with Chapter Seven “You’re a Good Horse, Charlie Brown.” Now that I’m approaching chapters where the stories are ones I’ve told dozens of times and have much more impact on the story arc, I think the words will fly off my fingertips. We’ll see.

    Kambri
    Headed to Rockefeller Center again during the busiest season of the year. This laptop had better work for a long while!

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

    Sabbatical Update

    Holiday cards are done. I’m still stuck answering Comix questions and taking care of press for upcoming comedians, but I hope that doesn’t continue.

    Laptop is being taken in tomorrow for general cleaning and repair.  I was able to take care of lots of the glitches and annoyances once I devoted an hour or two to it, but I’d still like the pros to wipe off a bunch of the crap I don’t need.
    The armoire is cleaned and all its contents removed and sorted into sell, donate and keep piles. It’s on Craig’s List if you’d like to buy it: http://newyork.craigslist.org/que/fuo/960556791.html
    Home videos sorted and are being taken in for transferring to DVD. A lot faster and less of a hassle than me transferring them to mini-DV as I had started to do. Mini-DVs just don’t hold that much compared to a VHS tape.

    I’ve gone to the gym three days in a row, haven’t had any sugar or alcohol in a few days now so am down two pounds. I’m sure that will change once I hit the holiday parties. I scrubbed the skin off my office. I’ve been here for nearly four years and hadn’t given it a thorough washing. It sparkles.
    Christian bought me a beautiful floor-length mirror for Christmas. Unfortunately I figured it out when I was at our mailbox place and they showed me the package.  Eek. Oops. Oh, well. He assembled it and it’s in my freshly cleaned office looking dazzling.
    Um, what else?  Oh, yeah, I’ve managed to churn out 6,000 more words.  Not shabby but far from my goal.

    Kambri
    Speaking of…back to the keyboards!

  • All Blog Entries,  Family & Life,  Food & Drink,  Writing

    I’m on Sabbatical!

    Sort of. In my line of work, I can never really be on vacation or MIA. I’ll definitely try to pare down my emailing and what not because I haven’t taken a single vacation since Paris last Christmas. Sigh.

    There is lots to catch up on around the house like selling or donating my big armoire. It’s beautiful but I’ve had it for 8 years and it’s quite bulky by NYC apartment standards. Plus we really need a new TV. Sure, we want a new flat screen, but we actually need one. Our old tube TV is fading. A flat screen would look beautiful against our exposed brick wall that is nearly fully covered by my giant armoire. So, yeah, we’re looking forward to purging.

    I also need to renew my passport, finish writing out the 250 Comix holiday cards, drop of my laptop for repair, transfer some old home videos to DVD and stuff like that that simply haven’t gotten my attention due to the insanity that was 2008. I also went grocery shopping for the first time in about 5 months. I’m a pretty healthy eater by nature, but not when I’m out in restaurants. I definitely like my greasy bar food. I figure if I’m home for the next two weeks, I might as well try to re-calibrate my bad eating habits that have spiraled out of control lately. (This may come as a shock but pints of Ben & Jerry’s NY Super Fudge Chunk at midnight really aren’t necessary.)

    Finally, I’d really like to finish (or come very close to finishing) the first draft of my memoir. I’m one-third of the way through without much concentrated effort. I think if I can spend the next two weeks consistently writing for days in a row, I could bang that sucker out. I truly expect to at least get another one-third on paper. Any more than that would be amazing.

    It’s an awful lot to expect out of two weeks off, especially during the holidays.  But if I can get at least half of what I want done done, it will have been a success. To help me stay on track, I’m keeping a daily diary of everything from what I eat and drink, to how much time I’m writing, watching television (Thankfully Survivor & Dexter have ended. Knock out The Biggest Loser & How I Met Your Mother and we’re in business.), and on the internet.

    Kambri
    If only the cursed internet would break down for a few days. Do I really need to look up the ingredients in lip balm that make it “addictive” or famous comic book villains?  No. But tell that to me when I really am curious about the answers.