Monday, April 30, 2007

Moving Day SUCKS!

THANK YOU to whoever it was that made this picture - it is SOOOOO real!

Moving day sucks big time, if you ask me. We started the day off pretty early, or actually, I did. The girls got to sleep in (of course) because I had to find a storage unit and get the ground work laid out. We probably could have done this last week, but I was in Florida (not where we live) and the spunky little brats would have ended up getting me a unit too large and too far away - they're like that. Fairly passive aggressive - give them an excuse and they'll make me suffer for pulling them out of the hood where they have friends and that really cool recording studio - oops, my bad!

I went to Starbucks (Fine, I'll plug my store: Santa Fe & Danforth, Edmond, OK) but I ordered the quad wet cappucino in a grande cup: my Sunday drink! This is Monday! I'm completely out of whack - Sundays are special - I get that monster so that I can be ready and prepared to attack Jason and Robin on matters that don't matter. We love the battle. Jason and Robin look forward to the tiny detailed trivial drivial arguments too - it's what we do. I'd love to have a Bible Trivia match with one of them someday - I get John and Brent on my team! Ha!

At least I had the mountains of giant and smaller flat boxes in the hall, and I had the rolls and rolls of tape to properly assemble what I needed. I just didn't have the big, fat, black, (or colored) markers to identify whatever it is that we have - and don't need - and keep anyway. What is it with us? Why do we do that? OMG! I found some of the stupidiest things in the boxes left over from the last time we moved and didn't unpack because someone reminded me that we were probably only going to be staying long enough to unpack and sort out, and repack it again. Why even take the boxes out of the garage, why not just live in the house with the basics: couch, loveseat, tv, stand, stool, table, picture frame here - maybe there? I insisted on my bed being put together, and I insisted on it being packed away correctly this time as well, but yes - yes, it is true... of all the things to get lost between here and there, my headboard is no where to be seen! Passive aggressive little lassies - I'm sure of it!

Why do I have 6 flat irons? Why do I need 132 dishes if we have 3 girls in the family and Reuben's things have been packed and shipped to Alaska? Why do I have phone books in boxes from 1999? Why do I have electrical tech books for Excel, Powerpoint 2.0, and DOS programming? Why do I have boxes of photos that I have copies of in scrap books? Why do I have pepper, cumin, dill, and hardened (petrified) cheddar cheese in a box marked "Kitchen Stuff". It would have been useful say - 1 year ago! Not the cheese - that's just needless. No, you don't even want to know that the kids packed the dirty cat litter because the trashcans were too full when we moved last time. I found it today. Yes, I found it! It was under a saddle.

The garage sale went well enough, except most garage sales start at 7:00 in the morning and my girls got out of bed at 2:00 p.m. Friday, so we did things a little different. We had a flashlight sale after dark when the people kept coming and the little VHS tapes, throw blankets, stuffed animals and electronic cords kept selling. My girls were really into it by about midnight, they went to the pasture where they keep their two horses and sold them! Yes, no, I'm serious...we had two registered paint horses in the front yard from around 12:30 a.m. to 5:00 when a guy came by with a trailer and bought them both. Talk about a steal - my girls practically gave them away, but I didn't care, they're GONE.

Seeing how the horses were gone, I wondered if the moped, motorcycle, john boat, sea-doos and snow skis were going to make it on the chopping block - they did! My daughters got the sale-bug and the house was practically emptied by Saturday night. They sold my dining room table and chairs, all of my necessary appliances, only the sofa and loveseat stayed, and only because they were new and I refused to let them give them away for a fraction of their retail investment. But, I was kind enough to let them get rid of 3 of their stereos, 2 televisions, 2 DVD players, all of their playstations and games, and they even sold off the books I was going to donate anyway - but I made them put a few bucks back for the Jesus House where the books would have ended up.

On the whole I'd say it went OK - but MOVING SUCKS. We're in a storage unit, 10x20, and the boxes will just about reach the top tomorrow when we're finished. Interesting how we went from two 10x20's last time to only 1, but hey - they have summer spending money now, and we're 2 horses less on the ranch. (I say ranch, we were boarding) One of the best things about today was Laura hooking up with her old flame Colton. He was HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY to show up and help us load and move our lives away if it meant seeing his true love again. He and Laura met on the floor at the karate gym - grappling can be such a personal experience for a young man. He's in love.

Hope you had a better Monday than we did...oh, and it rained, and then the song came on, but it didn't get me down....don't ask what song, if you have to ask what song you're too young to be reading my blog!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

National Keynote Speaker Seeks Employment!

Couldnt' hurt! I'll just post here on the blog that I'm out there looking for a place to talk - who knows, maybe someone needing a keynote speaker will Google the words "keynote speaker" and hey - come up with me! Yes, that could happen. So, you've found me. You're thinking - yes, we really need a keynote speaker - one who will be diversified enough to fulfill our every need. Oh, but where to look - where do you find someone who, at the turn of a second hand, will drop whatever it is that he or she is doing - jump on a jet and come to our banquet? Where on earth do I find someone with JUST enough humor, JUST enough wit - someone who dresses well, carries themselves with ease, has an eye on the world's current events - and Oh, if she/he would only be inexpensive that would be best --where!

HELLO!! I'm standing right here, you can't see it, because I'm outside of the computer today. I'm not nesting inside the internal guts of the machine this week - no, I'm somewhere between jobs, floating anywhere between Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, California and New York. I'm out there looking for you! I promise to be entertaining, not too controversial, I won't jump on your furniture - but I will make you smile. My agent thinks I'm hilarious because so far he hasn't had to actually book me - I don't stop looking for work long enough to let him do his job. Just so afraid he won't find me something, so I'm poundin the keyboard looking - searching - looking - BEGGING actually. I want to work - it's that inexpensive thing, kills me! I do find that it helps the hosts out though!

So, you're hoping to find someone with enough energy to kick the day off, and finish it out. You're looking for someone who knows the difference between Bull Run and the Second Attack? Oh, so you're looking for someone with compassion, passion, heart, desire, determination, motivation, strength, and UMPH? OH, pick me! Pick ME!! Please, over here...see me now? Yes, hello, how are you, I'm Jude Stringfellow - keynote speaker, professor of English, poety, author - you know, all around know-it-much, and just think - I come with my own dog! Not just any dog mind you, no, she's a celebrity dog, a happy in-your-face smiling mutt with all the stamina you were looking for! YES...why yes, we'd love to come to your town....when? Now? YES! Thank you.

Whatever your topic, as long as its something I have some knowledge of, or something I could learn while flying to you - albeit - probably needs to be relatively close to my personal views, mind you - no one needs a liar or a cheat - just an honest, hard working, upbeat, unique and unusual speaker with glee in my voice, a spring in my step - and here's another little secret; I'm still trying to lose weight, so you don't have spring for dessert! No, just a paycheck, and a couple of Starbucks will do. Faith's manager has a small stipulation, we have to fly with her in the cabin, and she must be in a good,clean pet friendly hotel - at the end of the day, she's still a dog!

Thank you for looking, thank you for thinking of us...we can't wait to meet you! LOL - smiling, can't wait to tell Mom she'll be employed again!

Agent: Mike Maguire: (571) 215-1147

Farewell Dear Edmond!

It may be a bit premature at this point to say goodbye to my adoptive city of Edmond, Oklahoma, but it looks and feels like we will soon be calling Florida or perhaps Texas home in just a very short while.

Edmond, Oklahoma, as you can see on this highly sophisticated map drawing is located JUST above the great city of Oklahoma City, where I was born. Growing up I was privileged to call Bethany, Oklahoma my home. Bethany, like Edmond, is a little suburb of the City, but situated to the west. Both Edmond and Bethany are college towns, hosting the University of Central Oklahoma in E-town, and Southern Nazerene University in Bethany. Education was always surrounding me, still is, and I hope it never disappears completely...when given an option, I typically choose to office or hang out at a university rather than a regular library, coffee house, or even a bookstore. There's just so much learning going on most of the time - whether the students are actually aware of it happening or not.

Today we decided to visit as many Edmond officers and firefighters as we could, just incase we don't get the chance to do so before we leave. One of the greatest assets a city has is its fire department and its police department. The strength of any great city depends on their men and women who are dedicated to help support, strengthen, protect, and service the citizens of the township/county involved. We thank them all. Today the firefighters at Edmond were playing volleyball outside in 90 degree weather, sweating, and just basically passing the time - when suddenly out of nowhere a little two-legged dog decided to come out to play! They were the most gracious of hosts, even finding some left over bacon and eggs from this morning's breakfast - the police have yet to be so serving! LOL

If I had a million dollars and could live where I wanted to live, travel out of the city (OKC) without problems, and maintain the position I have to have with the new employment I am seeking - I would remain in my fare city of Edmond. The trails, ponds, parks, and paths alone are among the most beautiful in the southwest - not to mention the taxes are rather low, the shopkeepers friendly, and get this....8 Starbucks! Yes, we have 8 Starbucks in the surrounding area, and that simply can't be said for the city I'm thinking of moving to. I swear if I have to drive more than 3 miles to get my coffee I'll be moving back for that reason alone! How do they live without the green mermaid busting out in the Orlando area? It boggles my mind!

The City of Edmond, like most big-small towns is full of life, laughter, loving, and learning. I mentioned the university, but there is open air theatre, museums, typical big and small restaurants, mom-and-pop downtown shops as diversified as the history of Edmond, itself. 100+ years ago this area was known as Indian Territory, opening its doors to the city with residents living in tents and staking their 160 acres of free land during the run of the Unassigned Land in 1889. 1907 found Edmond a part of the nation's fastest growing population - the train helped of course, as did the natural wildlife with streams, creeks and lakes abounding. It's still one of the most sought out cities in terms of residential growth - blue ribbon schools, fantastic academic and athletic tributes make up Edmond. (Oh, and Shannon Miller is from Edmond, the most decorated gymnast in the world!)

We'll certainly miss our city soon, but will return as often as we can - I'll probably have to give up my post office box, and I won't be able to stop by the university library to give Melody Jackson and her staff a bad time, but I'll keep them in my heart forever - if Edmond has a motto I don't know it, but if I had to write one for the city it would be :Family, Friends, and Fair Living - Keep it Green! Edmond's University of Central Oklahoma was voted as one of the nation's TOP 10 universities for supporting a greener way of living - it's just a better way when you can.

Thanks Edmond.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Casting My Vote for the Bird!

Today is the last day to vote for the quarter that will represent the state of Oklahoma. I was hoping our coin would come out in 2007, marking our 100th year as a state, but it didn't happen. I was also hoping that we would have the bird, the banded (collared) lizard, the bison, mistletoe, and redbud tree on the least we got the bird. (Maybe, it's in the 5 top final choices)

I voted for the bird!

Every other coin finalist (besides hosting oil wells, peace pipes and the state itself) has a replica of a 1930's statue of the Pioneer Woman walking briskly through the meadow with her son by the hand. She's carrying a book, that the scultor in 1930 described as a Bible. OK, so what, it's a Bible. The woman is a Christian, probably going to service, and taking her kid with her...we do that sort of thing still in Oklahoma, but the controversy over it has been so ridiculous it begs the question: Why would you NOT want the woman with the Bible, but you don't mind the Indian's peace pipe, which we're sure held illegal substances at one point? Stupid question? I don't think so - the bird at least CAN'T be's OUR bird. The Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher.

I say - GIVE THEM THE BIRD! It would be best actually to show the Land Run of the Unassigned Lands of 1889 - or a Sooner Wagon with a big fat OU right in the middle of it, but then the Cowboy fans of O-State would have to complain. Oh, hey - we could have a tornado taking out a trailer park, or perhaps a dust storm displacing families - that happens here too; but I guess something pleasant is the goal - afterall, we would like to clean up our image just a tad from time to time. Our state motto should be changed if we're thinking of cleaning up the act. "Oklahoma is OK" seems a bit - well, average or underachieved.

(Quiet! At least we didn't vote the coin in that depicted the pregnant teenage girl standing OUTSIDE the school house cooking meth. That was literally a suggestion by one of the art teachers of a public school - his way of protesting our policies toward pregnant students. But again, not the image of the state that should be remembered. AGAIN, I say - GIVE THEM THE BIRD!) Good Luck little guy!

Me, Hosting the VIEW

I had JUST finished my blog about praying for Rosie, when several e-mails flooded in asking me if I would be interested in being the next host on the show The View! None of these e-mails came from ABC or Ms. Walters, mind you, but I had to laugh - I'm available! I'm not working right now, and yes, I guess I wouldn't mind being on the show if my opinions weren't thrown out the door immediately upon interviewing me for the position.

I can't help but think that my moderate to conservative side would expose itself from time to time - talk about today's world of television it isn't always the left wingest getting the evil-eye from the sponsors or the producers, but rather the Glenn Becks of the world; well, the Jude Stringfellows of the world for that matter. Glenn and I DO see eye-to-eye, and he's been called twisted, freakish, paranoid, stupid, and all sorts of things by the lefties....I crunch my evening cereal, drink down my green tea in his honor and usually end up shouting "Hell yeah!" everytime he makes a point - well, nearly everytime. I save a little of the enthusiasm for Nancy Grace when she throws the book at a judge for making a bad call from the bench!

Sure, go ahead and hire me Ms. Walters - I actually have a really good head on my shoulders, I can even correct the spelling and the writings of the producers and/or show lords before the taping to be sure all connotations and antecedents are in the right place! Hey, I can review movies from the stand point of someone who hides her eyes during certain scenes of CSI. I can report on the spiritual aspects, agree with Elizabeth more than most, and put in a good word for Dr. Phil, because he and I are on the same page when it comes to depression, working through issues of anger, raising teens to do what we say - and oh, I have a MySpace! I do, I really do, and because of that I'm cool - sure, hire me.

I double-dog dare you!

Speaking of DOGS...I could bring mine. That would be both inspiring and interesting. If I can help make a dog walk upright, showing the love, compassion, and determination it takes to do that sort of thing - I bet I could answer a few questions, throw in my opinion, and bring up the ratings - at least make it a bit more even in terms of demographics. You'd bring in a whole new audience to VIEW The VIEW.

Call me, we'll do Starbucks! My agent is Mike Maguire (571) 215-1147

Prayers for Rosie

I can say this out loud, and I think I can say it without hurting Rosie's feelings - I don't particularly like her as a person. I have actually never thought her comedy routine was funny; and in the day, I thought to myself "Who put her on stage anyway?" Never really appreciating her flat humor, or the way she generally cut people down in order to build herself up.

When Rosie had her talk show I saw a little different side of her. I didn't watch very often at all, mainly because of my previous dislike for her, however, there was a genuine good side that came out when she was at the desk. It seemed to me, and probably to her general audience, those that really liked her style, that she was trying to be a good hostess. Nevertheless, before too long into the discussions or conversations she began irritating me again, and rather than finish the interview, I remember turning the channel to something I found more interesting - which was anything at all actually.

The fact that I don't like Rosie O'Donnell doesn't mean that she's not a person to be considered in my thoughts and prayers because she is. We don't see eye-to-eye on probably 3 subjects. Let me see: I bet she and I would agree that animals should be treated humanely, with dignity and with true love. We would agree on that. She and I would agree that raising children has to be one of the most difficult and most rewarding challenges facing a woman today. No doubt, she would give me the high-five for that one. Thirdly, well, we both like to eat probably...good food. I'm not as thin as I want to be, Rosie would say "You're not that thin Jude, work on it if you want to", I can see her agreeing with me on the bread or ice cream issues in life...and that's about it.

We would, if we were in the same room, eventually begin a conversation, and it would probably - if I knew Rosie and myself - lead to a heated debate with one or the other of us saying something we either didn't truly mean fully, but actually we would probably MEAN it, but probably shouldn't have SAID it. There is a difference. We don't have to say everything we think - do we? I am a moderate to conservative Republican. I am against gay marriage, but have no problem with homosexuals loving one another or even seeking rights such as life-partner insurance benefits, retirement, etc...but to marry, that institution, in my opinion, was designed for a man and a woman. We wouldn't agree on abortion issues, and we certainly wouldn't agree on the way to express one's self regarding the World Trade Center, The Bush Administration, The War on Terrorism - or her therories about life after death (or the lack thereof). This doesn't mean she doesn't come directly into my heart daily because she does.

I have NO IDEA why I have always been a prayer warrior for what the world calls celebrities. When I was little I remember bowing my head and praying for Neil Young and Alice Cooper. I didn't know either of them, I was really very young - but felt that they needed a little guidance. Maybe it was from all the things my parents talked about when they mentioned how they were living, I don't know - I was 8 or something. As I continued to age I continued to pray, and I remember distinctly being ridiculed by friends and even a pastor for asking for prayer for the Bay City Rollers or the Bee Gees (specifically Maurice, as he and I had become acquainted in 1979). Ridiculed. This should never happen.

For years I have prayed daily, daily - literally every day, for Mary Kate and Ashley because they remind me so very much of my own girls in their personalities and they're really unique and wonderful styles. As they have grown my own girls have evolved and grown as well. I still pray very very often for the twins and hope they somehow feel loved even if by someone they may never meet. I pray all the time for Lindsay Lohan, feeling that someone needs to lift her up to God, and to pray for her joy - her peace. I don't have a reason to believe that I was called to pray for everyone - but whoever is laid on my heart, I pray for. Lindsay and my daughter Laura are so close in appearance, I'm sure that has something to do with it, but her relationship with her father in the past years has more to do with it - my daughters have struggled with their dad for years too.

Rosie. The blunt of many jokes, the person most known now for her ranting and her seemingly senseless anger about nearly everything. Doesn't that cry out "Help Me"? I can't help but stop and argue with her in my mind when I hear her speak, and I want to throw something right at the televison set because she's the reason I STOPPED watching the View. I may go back to watching it again now that she's quit - however....God, and I mean that, GOD has led me to pray often now for the woman I really felt was so completely polar opposite of myself - and I really couldn't stand to be with if we were together. THERE YOU GO, that's the reason! I find myself utterly repulsed and it has to be something deeper than just an opinion or two. Just because we don't agree doesn't mean she's wrong. She's not. She seems to have lost respect, dignity, integrity to some degree, and even her path to reality at times. Something is ascrew...she won't mind if I pray, I hope, that she finds peace and that she finds it as quickly as possible.

There is NEVER going to be someone that I find who agrees with me fully, and I don't think I want to find that person. How boring would that be? I'm not sure I agree with myself all the time - I evolve too. I change. If I needed prayer - I would hope EVERYONE would offer it - even those I don't know, even those I don't get along with, even those whose views and opinions are perfectly idiotic to my beliefs or world views. Prayer is good. Please take a minute, and think of someone you can lift up in prayer to a Lord that you believe will be big enough, strong enough, loving enough, to hear you. Prayer can change a heart - you may just find that person you end up praying for, loving.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Difference: Rich and Famous

I was in the Orlando International Airport yesterday with my dog Faith. Without a doubt we were noticed. It's hard not to notice a skipping two-legged dog off her leash; tongue wagging, sporting a vivid orange vest. She was captivating. She was mesmerizing. She was INSPIRING. One other thing you may have deduced from realizing that I'm the owner of Faith the Two-Legged Dog, is that Faith is well, really very famous.

One of the more interesting (and almost natural) assumptions that the general public makes when they think of fame, is to relate it, associate it, and even assume it accompanies the word "rich". This is NOT always the case. To be perfectly humble about it - we're not. I remember thinking to myself, and whispering to Faith "You know, you should be in movies!" She shows off well enough - she delights, spins, dances, she even sneezes in a very interesting way - she really should be entertaining the masses. To put it bluntly, that would solve a few situations I find myself in. I've literally had to give up work to continue showing her talents off, and it's created a velvet monster. On one hand I desperately want to do this. I want to go to military stations, hospitals, schools, and libraries to give speeches and to let Faith's message and mission be heard. She deserves to be held, loved, petted, talked about, and found to be the inspiration that she is...but there's always that other hand, isn't there?

Yes, there most certainly is a difference between the word "rich" and the word "famous". It's almost like comparing the words "education" and "employment"! They do not always go together well - another thing I would like to see change in my life. Being an unemployed educator means I have little to fall back on in terms of finances - which has been OK, until this week that is. However, there is well as FAITH. The light at the end of the tunnel is glowing and growing - it just might take a little time to spark, that's all.

No matter the situation there are two very keen points I hope to drive home today: The first being that being without money, funds, or capital does not make one poor . I don't have any reason to call myself rich, but there is also an equal reason, if not a more substantial reason to never consider myself poor - because the damning connotation of that word would purport not only am I without hope, but that I am without drive - I have drive. I will survive this lull. My second point is: This too shall pass. Yes, I got that phrase from the Bible, but it's a good one. The fact that all things are known and all things work together for good for them who not only love the Lord, but for those who are called to His purpose - it gives me great promise to know...this too, will pass.

So, when you see me in the airports, and/or you see me on the streets of NYC...whether I'm dressed to speak for thousands, or wearing my camo pants and probably some rock n' roll t-shirt - looking for a Starbucks, please come up to me and say hello. Tell me you're doing OK, and that you have been where I am, perhaps you're there now. We can pray for each other, we can encourage each other - and with a little FAITH, we can do this slump thing - with grace.

When it rains - There's a TORNADO!

I don't think I have ever - I mean ever - been in such a situation. I won't say it's a mess, I won't say it's a tragedy, it's a strange, and unfortunate situation. About 2 months ago my dog Faith was lost on an American Airlines flight. We were suppose to BOTH end up in Orlando, Florida but that didn't happen. I remember the day specifically because Homeland Security issued an ORANGE alert in the nation's airports, and all things non-human were to be stored under the cabin in cargo - OOPS. That was the first mistake. Faith was shipped somewhere - probably Chicago, but I went to Orlando.

Because of the mistake, American wanted to make it up to us. They issued a statement of apology to me of course, provided a voucher for free flight, allowed us to sit in First Class on our return trip, hosted us at the Admiral's Club for over 24 hours I think when the weather didn't allow us to return home - and then they decided to make a mandate that we always fly First Class - sounds great doesn't it? NOT. When they forced us to fly First Class we (Faith and I) lost several military gigs as well as other paying gigs due to the fact that the hosts were unable to pay the difference between the Coach fares and the First Class fares - think about it, would YOU or your company prefer Coach or First Class. Hosts have budgets to work with.

So, having lost over $8000 in would-be pay, and NOW my book deal, my precious-I-was-totally-counting-on-you book deal falling through (Thanks to a particular agent who will go unnamed) I have found myself unable to even pay my rent and bills - NO, I'm serious. Our savings have been rocked, we had family issues to deal with between January and March as well as taxes from last year to pay - we're being kicked out of our house this week. So, when it rains - sometimes it can cause a tornado.

Here's the really cool part - I'm OK.

I decided to let it go, let God have the reins and just do what I do best, and that's to work at the problem rather than cry over it again, or to get myself all worked up. No good ever comes from beating yourself up -whether it's your fault or not. I have to let it go. I can't control it, I can't really fix it alone, I can't make it better without help. I just have to see what happens to us - but I know that WITH A LITTLE FAITH (title of my book, great plug huh?) I'll be able to say that all will be well. It has to be, there are no options. I can't believe that it won't be must be fixed, therefore, I will wait for God to show me what to do. If He lets me, I'll be a part of the solution, I probably need to be.

I went to Brevard and Seminole Counties in Florida this week to give two keynote speeches for lawmakers, victims advocates, peacekeepers, and the wonder families and victims of violent crime. The topic of my speeches was accepting the situation, empowering yourself through others, and being available for others when you have the ability to do so. I got the idea from my dog Faith. She accepted her situation immediately, she didn't deny she was a dog in trouble. She needed help and when it came time to ask for it, she used her eyes - she couldn't speak. When we helped her, we helped ourselves. Now, we're reaching out, and we're hoping to both receive love and give it. We need prayer, and we need work.

If you have a need for a public speaker, a Ph.D. in Administration, perhaps an administrator in your office, corporation or just someone to train your employees - call me. I am absolutely available. I would prefer full time and permanent work, and believe it or not, we're not as expensive as you may be thinking. My agent is Mike Maguire, and he is handling any and all calls. His number is: 571-215-1147 You can also e-mail me at:

Wow, it just feels GREAT beyond my expectations even, to know that people love God, they love my dog, they love helping - and the fact that I can reach out makes me that much more motivated to help when it's my turn to do so again. Let it rain - I know the Rainmaker!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Yankee Candles Should Hire Me!

There I was, minding my own business, (which is what I do) and my candle burned out on me. OUT-GONE, no more! The problem is that it wasn't to the point that is was suppose to stop. I tried lighting it, and lighting it, but it didn't take. There was something around the wick....some sort of a boot, sock, something protecting the wick - and by protection I mean the boot thing didn't want fire around the wick any longer!

I took the initative to use the Yankee Candle website, just incase you were having doubts about what that site might actually be. I wrote to customer service to ask questions, more or less to explain my concern for future purchases, but the answers I received wasn't really as helpful as I had hoped. Yankee Candle kept asking me to return the candles for a full refund or exchange!

To be honest the candle (actually there were 2) were almost gone, so I didn't feel as if a full refund or exchange was fair, I was really just wanting to talk with them about why they would choose to protect their wicks more than 1/2 an inch from the bottom if the warning label instructed me to only burn to that point? Just a question...just a simple, no hassle question -- but nothing ever really works out to be as simple as you think. Yankee Candle's customer service was insistant...they wanted to replace the entire lot! They were FORCING me to take the candles to the nearest location and get NEW candles - I argued of course, as this seemed out of context, completely unprofessional and out of the realm of what business-as-usual has been in the past.

Yankee Candle's Quail Spring Mall's store was the nearly location to my home in Edmond, Oklahoma so I took my nearly burned to the end candles to show the good ladies that work in the store what I was talking about - I argued again when they insisted that I exchange my candles for new replacements - I felt like an idiot returning 95% burned candles for 100% newly unburned, unmolested candles - and get this....MISTY told me I could pick any scent I wanted. I didn't have to take home the Lavender Sage Swirl scent again. I could have ....anything! Brenda wasn't much help either - she smiled the whole time, said really nice things to me, she was helping YANKEE CANDLE's clean, unspoiled, and seemingly perfectly genuine reputation...she stood there nodding, smiling, and being all pretty! Misty even wrapped my new scented candles and put them in a new bag!

No, Yankee Candles is losing too much money! They simply have to hire me. I could do some really good recovery for them. When a customer called or came in to exchange a candle I could refuse them access - I could ask if they enjoyed the time they had with the candle, I could ask them if they felt that bringing me an old, dirty, ugly, worn out candle in exchange for a new, preciously perfect one was fair - or if it was even conceivable that a person of integrity could assume such a position in life that they would ever expect a bonafide giant corporation to bow to their every whim or need...just because a customer isn't satisfied, is that any reason to give them what they want? Yankee Candles thinks so!

Fine! Fine! You go right ahead with your smiling, your helping, your in-your-face customer service come-again type of attitude girls...see if I come back! (Actually...I probably will, I felt rather important.) Thanks.

Embrace Your Tomboy!

I am SO NOT a Victoria's Secret Model.

To be perfectly honest with everyone reading my blogs - I am a Tomboy. I looked it up to be sure, because as years go by the meanings of certain words take on new life, and I didn't want to mislead anyone. I threw the picture of Scout up on the blog (To Kill a Mockingbird) for two reasons. The first is: She's the epitome of what a Tomboy is, and second: I'm a professor of English, and the book is awesome!

Tomboys don't necessarily look bad in Victoria Secret nightwear, don't get me wrong - but we don't wiggle and shimmy quite as smoothly perhaps when we do. We're more apt to pounce, and maybe go looking for the good stuff - you may find yourself in a bit of a wrestling match that you thought for sure you had the upper hand in, but now you're not so confident about it - and it really doesn't matter anyway! Tomboys are the girls that find frogs, snakes, rocks, and cars attractive - maybe even want to sleep outside with you, or take the last piece of pizza when you were going for it. It's for sure THIS Tomboy will be wearing a red and white jersey and jeans on game day and screaming louder than you are at the TV set - and cussing out anyone daring to put a play over on the Sooners!

What may or may not be immediately understood about Tomboys is that we're not all mean, hard-nosed girl-haters. We don't always have only boys as friends - and we don't always fix engines; though some of us do. I can handle a VW fixer-up, but leave the rest to my brothers Mike. (I have 2) I'm the type of Tomboy that loves to shop, but I might buy more masculine colored comforters, Levi's over 575 jeans, and I'll for sure get a sandlewood or sage scented candle over something fruity or floral - on the same hand...I'll buy sandlewood or cinnamon oils to bathe in, because it attracts men rather than women. (Ohhh, a little pheromone secret.)

Tomboys have the best of both worlds if you ask me - we can play with the boys, and we can PLAY with the boys - we can watch any and all sports, we can bet, gamble, beat you at chess and not blink - we can eat faster, wear less makeup, take much shorter time getting ready, and when we are ready there's just something natural about us - I like it. Saves me from having to buy that Vera Wang and have it special ordered so that no one else is wearing it. Because I don't care - if we were all wearing the same exact dress I'd still be ME.

Yes, embrace your inner Tomboy - a word that's been around since the 16th Century describing girls whose gender roles have been transformed to include the behaviors generally accepted in society of their male counterparts, however, maintaining their feminine distinction. That's me...(she smiles her pyrate smile, and keeps the slimey turtle she just caught hidden behind her torn out jeans, all the while accepting your invitation to accompany you to the Governor's Ball tomorrow night.) SMILE.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wile E. Coyote Goes Army!

This will make my son laugh.

When I was growing up I had all the same problems as Wile E. Coyote. I had goals within my site, I went all out for them - BAM! I got blown up nearly every single time. Something (usually lack of money) got in the way of my well laid out plan. (Of Mice and Men) You'd think that after 45 years of fighting myself, the world, and the unknown I would have lost some of my edge - but something just keeps me sharpened. I keep trying to get there, to do it... to succeed. I'm going to get that BIRD.

My son is in the Army you know, he'll understand the point of this very cute cartoon from Mark Parisi - the new defense uniforms for the men and women in Iraq could very well benefit from the ultimate in survival gear - you may get a head ache, a black eye, you may spin around on your heels awhile, and see tweety-birds circling your head - but believe me, you take a massive explosion and a 400 ft drop in a one of these babies and you'll be glad you were wearing it!

Reuben called me last night again, 2:12 a.m., about the average for him - he says it'll be closer to 5:05 a.m. when he's in Iraq - but nevertheless, he called me to tell me that YES, he was dead last in the navigation practices, and NO he didn't get to play any reindeer games because of it - HOWEVER, due to his 8 speeding tickets just prior to swearing in, and the way he out runs his opponents on the simulators and again in person on the new muddy gridiron he personally created there in Fairbanks, AK - he's been chosen to drive the CO in the Stryker that God created him to drive. Who needs to navigate when the CO is giving the orders? All he has to do is say "Yes Col. and No Col." at the appropriate times.

I'm still going to ask that baby boy look a little - WILE E. when he jumps into the tank - actually a Stryker isn't even a tank - technically my son is 4" too tall to drive it, but the Army took care of that too. He's only 5'11" on paper - the first time his height was listed on paper he was 21" long. The bird is in his sites - with a little ACME planning, perhaps we can see the light at the end of this tunnel we call war....but remember, there's always another cartoon just around the corner! (BEEP BEEP)

Get 'em boy! Hooah!

It's a Bug's Life!

(These cars were never my cars)

This is the most beautiful car I've ever seen! (1968 VW White Bug) You have to understand my connection to the V.W. Beetle before you'll understand my great love for them, but these guys - 11 of them total, helped me survive my 4 years in Hollywood, California. I lived off the profits I would make when I sold an Oklahoma VW to a California driver. You can still make a (nearly) 500% profit margin off of one. I checked today before I blogged. The same type of 1968 VW Bug in my hometown of Edmond (K&B Auto) will go for about $1800-2250.00 You buy it, you sell in Beverly Hills or even Torrance, and you'll get $12,500 easily - off the street selling! CASH!

I did this exchange 11 times, 10 of which were Beetles, one was a 1968 Karmann Ghia semi-automatic - ever heard of that? The stick is there in the console, but you don't have a foot clutch - very, very off the wall odd, but real, and I took in 600% for it. You simply have to love American Capitalism, and you have to have a great VW connection like I did in the 80's with Kenny from Bug Heaven, or as it was called in the day. I'd get a car, have Kenny fix it up, drive it from OKC to the Ocean, and before I could make it to the hills most of the time, I had the car sold. I remember walking to the bus station a couple of miles once because I sold the car a bit too far from where I wanted to catch a ride to the mansion I was watching - imagine that for a second...just think about what goes throught he head of a 17-18 year old wheeler-dealer, living in a mansion - driving Bugs for profit! (I said BUGS, not was the 80's!)

Kenny is still in business, he and his son and wife run the K&B Auto in Edmond, OK if you're thinking you'd like to hook up with the men and do a little transport business. Just be sure and give me a little credit OK? Thanks - I'm sure Kenny will giggle a little when you first ask. He's been wheeling and dealing a lot longer than I ever have. He's good too!
My favorite bug-for-money story came in the summer of 1983 when my friend Kendra was going to Hollywood to be in the new George Lucas film "Return of the Jedi". Remember it? She stands 4'3" and had a part guaranteed - she was told would be hot, but they were filming in northern California in the redwoods so it may not be as much on the suffering side as she may have imagined. From Oklahoma City to Flagstaff, AZ, she and I broke down at least a dozen times. It was the Ghia we were driving. First went the oil hose in Vega, TX just outside of Amarillo, and if I went into detail about it - you'd swear you were reading the newest horror flick manuscript. I'll leave it at that.

Next the clutch failed in Santa Rosa, the fuel pump died in Gallup, and we had more fun with the steering wheel locking up near Albequerque. It was a mess - we actually ran out of gas two separate times, once when the gauge was working and once when it wasn't. To say we were frustrated doesn't come close. I gave up! I parked the car in a HoBo Jo's off I-40 in Flagstaff and placed the wire to my dad through his employer - Western Union. "Pick me up. Flagstaff HOBO Jo's I-40". He sent my pot-smoking, party-to-the-end brothers Mike. I have a big brother Mike and a younger brother Mike. My younger brother doesn't do that anymore! (OOPS - sorry Uncle Mike, I just outed you!)

I put my friend on a bus - she was pissed. She made it to Hollywood, and yes she was the best damned Ewok on the planet! We watch the movie now just to watch her falling and tripping herself. After all these years, she's still the best. Shouts out to the girl from Blue Harvest!

When I returned with my dad and my mom a few weeks later - Ghia in tow on the back of the truck - my dad was the most amazed man on the earth to find out that wherever we stopped for gas someone wanted to buy the little car. Could have been the for sale sign, sure, but they were just anxious to get a better look at the little thing. Butter Cream yellow and just adorable - was it a real car, some wanted to know. I guess Ghias weren't all that popular in the desert at that time. I held out for the PIER. I knew the Ventura Highway heavy-hitters were the real audience. Dad wasn't all that thrilled about pushing it through to the end. He wanted me to sell it then - maybe 300% profit. Sounded really good to the man. I refused.

Making it to the Pier. Standing outside. I think the record was 16 hours, that was a really long day - but on the day I arrived with the little Ghia - maybe 30 minutes passed before it was gone. Maybe. Cash in hand, 600% - pure profit. In the day, I think it was $6000.00 - today, you'd have to triple it, but remember, the original price in Oklahoma would have only been about $900-1000 in 1983. Today a 1968 semi Ghia would bring in $3000 or more in Edmond, anyway.

So, bugs not drugs. There's always a way to turn a dime if you look hard enough. Do this: Go to your paper now, look up VW's for sale, and then go to the classified in L.A. to make the comparison. WOW....I may have to turn Caity onto this - she would LOVE to drive 1500 miles across the impassible desert sand in an air-cooled car without a top - and maybe, just maybe she won't carry a butcher knife for protection....oh, I didn't finish that Vega, Texas story did I? Let's just say I'm not the most conventional driver - we'll leave it at that.

How Did YOU Meet Alex Van Halen?

I can say this: He has one of the best smiles in the world!

I was almost 20, living between Oklahoma City and Hollywood - wasn't everyone? My two very real jobs were that of a geological drafting tech in OKC while working just as able bodied in L.A. as a stand up comedian sometimes and a writer/writers assistant at others. Back and forth! I usually made more money on the coming and going, as I would literally purchase a VW bug (1966-1972) from Kenny at Bug Heaven (Now K&B in Edmond, OK) and I would have the man fix it up. I'd drive the bug across the world to L.A. where I would sell it for a 500% profit, live off the margin, and work very happily for one of the studios driving their cars, vans, trucks, or trailers to get even more extra cash - my methods of finances have changed over the years, but not my tenacity to find work.

At Gulf Oil (OKC) I had the opportunity to have all four of my wisdom teeth removed at no cost - insurance! Oh, what a thought - cut out the teeth and never have to worry about it again. What I didn't know at 19, and wish I had - was that I'm allergic to nearly all types of meds that put you under. Valium was the first to kick my butt - and I almost didn't come out of it. The days that followed my operation were indeed a blur if not a blinding mind-altering trip! September 30, 1981 I had my teeth removed. I don't remember October 1 and 2, but Mom tells me I was a rubber elephant in her arms while she tried desparately to clean me and the messes I made throughout the house. It was October 3, 1981 that will forever stick in my head.

It was a Sunday, last day of the State Fair of Oklahoma. Of course I had to go, I had never missed a fair, and besides - my friend Sharon could drive my little bug - she was 15. She had JUST THAT DAY won tickets on the radio to see Van Halen in concert in Norman, a little college town just south of us - hosts of the World Famous OKlahoma University Sooners! (Go Bob) We drove, I drove, she drove, I don't remember - to the Noble Center and we took our seats. WAY UP IN THE FRONT thank you, and I had the stupidiest drug induced grin on my face...I can tell you that.

The vibrations of the music coming from the speakers were working their magic on my mouth, and I found it nearly impossible to stay on the floor so close to the stage - this was during the warmup band - I had to move. Sharon had a friend whose mother had brought her to the show, they were in the upper levels, and that was cool with me, the concert was really for Sharon - I traded the friend, and I sat with her mom, a woman in her mid 30's who I believe still had a thing for young Diamond Dave. I was mesmerized by the drummer - he was hot! Alex. I stared a lot that night at the back of the stage.

At one point in the show, as you may or may not find hard to believe, David Lee forgot the words to "Running With the Devil" and I couldn't take it much longer - laughing, and I mean laughing, the stitches which had been vibrated to death by the speakers earlier - BUSTED. Blood spewed out of my big mouth like a fountain! SQUIRTING everyone in my immediate area - I was higher than ...well, probably higher than Dave.

It was then that a policeman, a very kind, and concerned man, asked me a question that I answered in the affirmative - "Hey, are you on drugs or something?" He asked. I was. I said yes, I'm an honest girl. UP and OUT he pulled me by the arm, he drug my happy butt across several concert patrons, over chairs, through doors, under banners and scaffolding - all the way to the back of the stage, where I guess they take people who either answer in the affirmative, or probably are too passed out to do so. I was being arrested!

Alex came from the stage just at the moment that I was being questioned. I was smiling, I was laughing, I was giggle-happy stupid and he began to smile with me. He got really close and said "You wanna another shirt or something?" My white sweatshirt was covered in splatters of blood. "Hi" I said to the smiling Dutchman! "Hi...yes, I'd love a shirt, you need one too." I mentioned, he wasn't wearing one at the time, and I suppose I was a bit concerned that he might catch a cold - don't know what I was thinking. He waved the police off when I handed him my bottle of Percidan - and he said to the uniformed officer "She's with me". There we went - back to the little room off the side of the stage and yes, Alex and I both put on new t-shirts. He was kind enough to help me with mine.

I remember thinking Sharon would miss me, and I have NO IDEA how she found me, however, that evening we ate with Alex at the hotel in Norman, talked for hours, slept, and got up the next day laughing ourselves silly. He liked my car, I remember that. I told him I would buy him a Lamborgini for his trouble - he smiled that smile. (But he said he would let me.) I then, that very day, went to the store and bought a tiny black Matchbox Lambo and mailed it to the address he gave me - I think he knew I was good for my word.

The concert in Tulsa was just a few days a way - tickets arrived in the mail. I was able to spend several more hours with that beautiful smiling man. I have to tell you, if you get the chance to meet Alex Van Halen - you should. Gentlemen come in many different packages - I don't know if I ever really said thank you to the man. Hey, Alex - thanks!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Real Estate Hell - I'm in it!

I'm going to tell you a story that you simply won't believe, but it is true.

I am in Real Estate Hell, and it's no fun, let me tell you. I don't know the rules and regulations about falling into the pit. I don't know what 'sin' I committed, or wasn't forgiven for - I don't even understand why this is happening to me, but it is.

March 2003 - I got kicked out a house I was going to buy because I decided to take Faith into my house and keep her. The owner decided he didn't want dogs in his house. I reminded him I was buying it. He reminded me I was lease/purchasing it, and until it was purchased he didn't want dogs in his house. I was forced to move. But he gave me a week. There's no way I was going to stop loving Faith (and besides, we had Matrix - something he wasn't aware of.) just because he's an ass.

It just so happened that my ex had to move out of the house we bought when we were married. Great! I moved into it, he moved out, and all was well. Until the morning the sheriff came and informed me that my ex had listed the house in a bankruptcy, and it was being sold in 72 hours. What a nice man....not talking about the sheriff. The father of my girls - he could have at least mentioned this fact before we moved in. We went to an apartment and immediately looked for a house to move into.

March 2005. I found a great little house - the owners were willing to do an early tenancy for me and the kids, and the dogs! We waited for closing, but it never happened. 1 month, 2 months, 3 don't pay rent while you're waiting to close under these circumstances, so I called to find out what was going on. The house had been sold! BUT NOT TO ME! I was again forced by the sheriff to leave, but this time I had a bit of a standing in court. The good judge gave me 10 days to find a place. Oh, how sweet of her! Why was it allowed to be sold after I bought it? Simple answer, the person I bought it from DID NOT OWN IT!

June 2005. I moved to a condo in a little village of condos - each as cute as the other, very small yards, but with great amenities. Leasing to purchase again as the owner wanted a 20% downpayment to sell for the right price. I had to save. Within 90 days she and her husband had broken up, and guess what was being sold out from under ME in order to fulfill THEIR divorce settlement! MY HOUSE. I had no standing whatsoever, and the judge forced me out in 48 hours this time.'d think I'd learn. But without 20% down you really don't have much of a chance in Oklahoma at getting a mortgage.

September 2005. My parents had a place on their farm that we could live in, but it's literally 26 miles from town. We did this, and we saved, and we worked, and we tried hard to make the 20% for the next place. It finally happened. June 2006 I put $21,000 down on a little 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2 car garage condo in a perfect little neighborhood in a perfect little city called Edmond. I lived there under another lease/purchase because the mortgage companies didn't like the fact that I was not returning to work at the same school I had been teaching for and since teachers are NEVER guaranteed a position in Oklahoma, they chose NOT to give me the loan. The landlord needed to sell, and he had used MY money to put down on HIS new place.

I paid my rent to the man, but he paid his new rent with it. Seriously. He paid HIS rent with it, and there you go. I was asked by the mortgage company to leave in late Ocotober 2006. AGAIN...48 hours to leave. The tenant/landlord act is a joke in this county. Immediately we set out looking for a place to get. There was no way of purchasing because I lost my money, and NO, I can't get it back. I've tried, it's not happening. The man has nothing to tax, nothing to retrieve, nothing I can put a lien on. Such is life sometimes and you really just have to suck it up.....and cry your eyes out, but nevertheless -

OK, so I have been leasing this house, a great 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage house in the same perfect city, and it has everything we need and want. We want to buy it...but wait...we can't. (Do you get the idea that something like a big, fat, ugly, black, cloud is hanging over my head? It's not...I just have to figure out what the hell is going on with me and Oklahoma! It may be time to leave.) We can't buy this place for the same reason we couldn't buy the last one. No permanent position - being an author is NOT good enough for anyone in the mortgage business. It doesn't matter what you earn, if you don't have 20% down, forget it. (and I don't have 20% to put down)

So, after the book advance that was expected in March didn't arrive in March, and it didn't arrive in April, and it looks like the middle of May before it may actually get here - the landlord has decided to kick us out. No excuses he says, no whining, no argument, no begging please, that only makes him feel like we're desparate and he thinks less of us. He said so...damn. So, I'm out on my keister again - this time in a much more sinister way than before, because this time it is my least I have that to comfort me.

The girls will live with their aunt. I got her in the divorce. She's MY sister now! Hahahaha....and I'll live with my crazy friend Andrea who, like me, is a teacher - but she's employed. She's a children's book author too, and it will give us an opportunity to work on her books and getting her published...but still....can I catch a break please? Maybe I need to leave the state, maybe I need to work on the great escape now rather than waiting for Caity to turn 17. Chicago seems expensive yes, but (and I say this nearly 10 times a day ) WHEN THE MONEY COMES IN...I'll be able to afford it.

I want to buy something people! I want to settle down! Whats happening to me is the weirdiest, strangest, oddest, most unusual chain of events...but it is happening, and no matter who you tell, they look at you like you're nuts. OK-I'll accept that, but it's still very much happening! Can someone please stop the world - I'd like to get off and rest a little while before coming home. (HOME? What's that?)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Call me Bessie

Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor! Wow, what a name.
Bessie, as she was called by her close friends and relatives died 21 years ago this week. She was best known for being one half of the "Love Affair of the Century". That would be the 20th Century, and the other half would be David Windsor, AKA King Edward VIII of England. You remember, he gave up his throne to his brother George, and when George passed away, the monarchy fell to Elizabeth II. (So, again, an American has a great deal to do with British politics. Had it not been for the fact that Wallis was married, divorced (2 times) and yes, worst of all, an American - Edward would have remained King.)
Call me Bessie now. I'll tell you why. Wallis, Bessie, it turns out was born into a rather poor family, perhaps middle class, perhaps average at best. She married averagely, she lived averagely, but there was JUST something about Bessie that kept her out of the box completely. She couldn't be tamed I suppose. She just wouldn't settle for anything less than what she believed she was meant for - which was greatness. She knew she had it in her, she recognized it early on in her life, but her caste status in a small town in Pennsylvania, later Maryland, just kept her down, kept her in "her place" as other said, and it took every ounce of energy from her sheer will to pull herself up to make something of a name for herself.

I'm not saying I'm wanting to date a king. I don't think there's one out there worth crossing the pond for. I just know that for years, well - most of my life, I've been held back as Bessie was held back because of my position in life, my class, my caste, my breeding - if you will. Great parents, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I think the Rockefellers or the Astors are missing a kid - if you know what I mean. I just KNOW there is more out there, more than what I've been able to obtain strictly by name. It takes fight, guts, pull, clout, work, and most of all - connections.
When she was dating the king, and I suppose other lords or men of nobility in England, Wallis was penniless in America. She borrowed clothes to wear to balls and she didn't have enough money for fare, often walking to an acceptable location where she could be picked up without her suitor knowing she was living on the lower side of the city. I can relate to this - wait - I am living this now! People associate fame with fortune. My dog is famous, therefore, they assume, we must be rich. The polar opposite is true - in reality. (and it sucks by the way)
What is great is that in Wallis, and in strong-willed, pig-headed, bull-skulled women just like her I have found a common bond. I am simply unable to stop pressing my dreams and desires to fruition. They have to come true because like a Marine on a mission, I will not stop. I will not quit. I will not be distracted - my mission comes with a little baggage; my children. If I fail at life, I drag them with me. My only option is to work, to fight, to dig deeper, to find a way to make it - and I will make it. That has never been in question...but you know what, it wouldn't be so bad if someone wanted to help a bit. No, I won't marry you. That's not helping - but it won't be the end of the world for someone who can give us a break to do it.
The great news is - I'm not alone. I take Christ with me everywhere I go. His grace reminds me that everything is possible, and nothing is impossible - so call me what you want, but I will answer the phone if you have a little work for us! You may be the spark that sets the fire!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

12 Years and Healing - Lest We Forget


We didn't call it that.

If you lived in Oklahoma City you called the building on 5th and Hudson the Federal Building. Some may have called it the Social Security building, but it turns out to have actually had a name - The Alfred B. Murrah Building. When the media moguls asked me about the Murrah Building a day or so after the bombing I remember asking Tom Brokaw if there had been a second bombing of another building. (Shows you that I wasn't really watching much of the news that day after the first few hours.)

To the media, to the police who were doing their initial investigations, and to the people who kept pampering me for days and days, I was considered a survivor of the then worst terrorist act on American soil. The Oklahoma City Bombing - but I didn't feel like, and I never call myself a survivor. I wasn't IN the building. I was going to the building at the time of its explosion. Yes, I felt it of course, and I was thrown to the ground. My elbows bled from where I struck the ground, but I didn't see a thing. I couldn't see much - black smoke billowed forward from the building - I was walking north, the back of the building was nearly perfectly in tact. Besides, I thought a gas main had exploded under my feet on Robinson, and thought another would occur any second as the ground continued to rumble uncomfortablely. I ran.

I remember running east a block to Broadway and then south to the Myriad Convention Center (Cox Communication Convention Center now) and I remember finding my dad's truck. I remember starting the truck and the strange and unusual music coming from the speakers. I couldnt turn it down - I couldn't turn it off. It wasn't the radio. There was no radio in the truck - it was the music of multiple (hundreds) 0f sirens blowing all around the city, all around th convention center, all around downtown - and the music got louder and stronger - I drove away.

I had two interviews that day at the same hotel, the Medallian, I don't remember exactly which position was at what hour, but I had a 10:00 a.m and a 3:00 p.m. appointment for an office manager position and an account executive position. I remember thinking I needed to call someone and tell them I wouldn't be coming in. Almost by remote control my dad's truck headed 27 miles north, northeast to where he kept it in a little garage outside his house - walking into the house I think the television was already on. He kept it on to ward off strangers who may come into the country and want to knock on his door. If he wasn't home it would appear that he was - he and mom were both out that day.

I saw images on the television of a building, but it didn't feel right. I didn't recognize it, and again I thought the downtown area of my city was being taken by ambush by century old pipes, fire, and spewing gas - I smelt the natural gas, I saw the black curtain of smoke blowing slowly slowly upward, it had to be an main. The tickler on the television read "Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - unknown bomber, hundreds die in tragic terrorist attack." Terriorist? Someone used that word in the same sentence with Oklahoma City? There must be a mistake.

Twelve years have passed, some very good, some very bad. All of them have been marked as the first terriorist act on American soil, and until 9/11 it was called the worst. I wish it still were - I truly wish it still were. In Oklahoma we have a saying "Lest We Forget". A memorial was built of course, 168 copper, glass, and marble benches represent the dead while a side of the builiding remains in close proximity to where the Social Security office stood on the northeast side of the building when it stood. There is a wall with the names of hundreds of people who were in the building, around the vicinity, who were effected by the blast - I declined to have my name added to it. Not only because I was literally going to the Social Security Office to have my name legally changed on my S.S. card, (maiden name restored) but also because I never considered my plight as dire as those in or nearer the building. I was just a regular citizen that day - maybe closer than most, but certainly not to be remembered as a true survivor.

If it were up to me - we would etch our names into the sky and the dirt surrounding the grounds - to be remembered silently as a united Oklahoma - it would take every one of us to change ourselves for the future to be a future. If it were up to me - the benches would be trees - living and standing in complete defiance to the men who carried out this horrific act. I'm not saying that it would be a better memorial - no way - but it would say we are still living. We are still strong, perhaps more so. There's something else we did that day, that week, that month, and that year or lifetime that followed - We created and we set in stone a coined phrase to be used after 9/11: The Oklahoma Standard.

What it means to live the Oklahoma Standard is to give more, be stronger, stay focused, help more, heal when you can, and not to hurt just to hurt - don't let someone take from you - give it to him/her. Give it, and never expect it back - do more...and just be there when you're needed to be. If nothing else - listen better, longer, harder - and pray for the best to happen. The Oklahoma Standard is NOT easy - it is NOT something to be taken lightly, and often times I find myself literally putting my hand over my mouth before I spew like the main on Robinson Street - noxious venom which can't be returned. Lest We Forget - we're still healing too. But we're not alone, and neither are you.

Boomer Sooner!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Riding the White Horse Again!

When I dream I do so vividly - sometimes to the point that I wake up at the foot of the bed, twisted up in sheets, or in today's case - pulling at the pillow case as if it were a mane.
Dreaming of white horses, pale horses can be very tricky indeed. You have to determine the nature of the ride, the reason, the situation, the circumstance behind the ride. You have to make a decision also about the horse, his or her sex, behavior, drive, cooperation, where you find the horse in the first place, and of course - your standing with it.
Horses can mean something as simple as you playfully horsing around in a dream, and they can mean more complex things such as financial success, spiritual awakening, a commanding position which will or won't be wrestled with, or made easier by the fact that you are indeed on top of the situation rather than being dragged under foot. WHY was I dreaming of a horse, why wasn't it white? What was the significance of the pale color, and the big, dark eyes, with the flowing mane? It was fully saddled, even had a pad and blanket - the reins were decorated, it was clearly not a great threat to me, as it (very very large and stately) bowed to its knee so that I could mount and ride. I never did see if it was a mare or a stallion, perhaps even a gelding - that would have been interesting to know.
The fact that my book deal is just right around the corner, and that it is expected to be a large settlement may have some bearing. It will be also be noted that while riding the horse on my own estate, I passed several other horses, unbridled, ungirthed, and untamed. There were dark and white horses at pasture, there was even a few colts skipping and tripping around the fields - but I rode along the fencelines, across the entire terrain at will - and I was holding onto the mane of the beast rather than the reins. I wasn't YET in control...but comfortable, safe, and ON TOP, so that has to count for something. I like it on top - when I ride - when I'm ....oh stop it people, it's a horse and I was on top of it like you're suppose to be! At least I wasn't backward, upsidedown, or falling off!
So, I dreamed of the freedom that may come soon from my first BIG book deal - good news. I did see a large pool, more of a reflective pool, not really a swimming pool - it was more for show. Pools of water represent reflection, cleansing, starting over - starting something new - OK then....can't wait. Let the wind sweep me away into dreamworld tonight, and let the horse be waiting...hooves beating, mane flowing - I may even take the reins. If it lets me. ( I love my dreams. )

Do You KNOW Your Army?

Meet Private Reuben Andrew Stringfellow, U.S. Army - born March 22, 1986, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In high school Reuben played football (Defensive and Offensive Line) four years on a 6A team that never failed to meet the highest standards, making their way to the quarter, semi, and final playoffs every year. Reuben excelled in History as well as Athletics, eventually graduating in 2005.

Upon graduation Stringfellow enrolled in Oklahoma City Community College to begin a path toward a Bachelors degree in Education. It was (and is) Reuben's dream to become a High School football coach at a 6A school in the state of Oklahoma after he has completed his duty with the Army. Reuben's hobbies include playing NCAA and Madden Football on Playstation 2, where he has developed and designed strategies which have allowed him 38 winning seasons as Head Coach. He develops and designs plays both for PS2 and for real life application. At 6'2", nearly 200 pounds, this solider is a certified Stryker driver in YOUR U.S. Army. Upon completion of his 3 1/2 years with the Army Stringfellow intends on enlisting in the National Guard.

Why am I telling you this? Because on September 21, 2006, when I stood with my son while he swore in, signed his contract and promised me and YOU that he would defend us - there was only one other set of parents in the room. 17 men and 2 women signed that session. We saw 2 other sessions before and 1 other session of enlistees following Reuben's signing and swearing-in. It was the same. There were NO parents to speak of, maybe one or two. There were no families, there were no loved ones, there was no one to send these men and women off. They went alone for the most part.

Upon graduation on January 26, 2007, at Ft. Knox, KY - there were over 400 men (only men) graduating, and only 50-60 of them had family members come to see them walk the stage - or in Reuben's case, march the stage! He was brilliant! He was beautiful - but so were all the others...and hardly 1/8 of the boys were able to show off for someone they love. THIS is YOUR Army. The men and the women who put their lives at stake for you, the men and the women who promise to protect you, the men and the women who volunteer to go to dangerous locations, do dangerous missions, and some of which NEVER return - don't have people to cheer them. They don't have people to write them, they don't have people to even thank them - and they do it over and over and over and over again....every minute, every day, every week, every month, every year - and we rarely lift a finger to appreciate them.

There are so many ways you can find out about a soldier and begin a real relationship with one. Just one. You don't have to write to 20 like I do, I got suckered in easily - I'm a marshmellow. I have 17 new sons and 2 new daughters - all wearing the same pajamas! I have beautiful children. Some of which I don't know their middle names! But I love them all. Please - get to know a soldier.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hell's Kitchen Please! Thank you.

You're in NYC, everyone talks about the Waldorf, the Empire State Building, they talk about Ground Zero, Times Square and Central Park - I won't knock any of it - I love NYC...but give me Hell's Kitchen any time.
You're walking your dog in Times Square, forget about it - no grass. You have to find Madison or Central Park to relieve the poor pooch - Hell's Kitchen, you have green stuff sometimes, you have parks for dogs, you have people walking dogs everywhere, answering your questions about where you can find a little patch. But it's not just that - the people are real there. Take Fat Sal's Pizza - TO DIE FOR, and it's quite possible you could if you say the wrong thing to the wrong guy at the wrong time - mind your business! I like the area for another reason, the Skyline Hotel. Without question it's one of the best kept secrets of the city. You're not going to find the best of the best in accomidations, you're not going to find massage therapy, yoga, aromatic hallways or expensive valet - but you will get Norman as your concierege! He's adorable, smart, and quite capable of getting you tickets most of the time to any of the latest plays and/or performances around town. (He'll even get you a cab! For a smile.)
Hell's Kitchen has it all - construction, peddlers, buses and sirens, kids walking the streets on their way to school, girls screaming at each other for blocks on end about whose boy is better than whose other boy! Come on, they did call it Hell's Kitchen - it has flavor! It has spice! It has real people with real lives, and real really good restaurants, wine shops, oh, and a great Indian Deli that has a real Western Union right inside of it so you can send your Uncle Joe that money you promised him you would last week but forgot!
You can walk to Times Square from any street in HK, it's only 4 avenues away from 10th...9th, 8th, Broadway - wow, only 3. There's a lot of new construction going on, old churches to contrast, and oh, get this....bodagas everywhere..everywhere....but you have to go to each one to get the real feel because every single person inside every single store has a new and exciting story about why they live where they live, why they do what they do - you have to ask. You're in the hood! Smile, be polite, and buy something sweet - but don't forget to tip, it's still the City!
I'd take a cab to Central Park, maybe hike to the upper west for a great steak, but when it comes to lodging, living, loving, laughing, and actually SEEING New York City - stay in the kitchen, but beware of the stove.

Pauline's Bait & Tackle - OH MY GOD, the memories

The photo couldn't possibly do the bait shop justice. This photo from Dan Mitchell is far too attractive to be Pauline's, but it was the best I could find to somewhat show you - somewhat tempt you - to enter into my long, my gosh, a long lost memory that was sparked yesterday. If I graduated in 1979 - it was 1978, because I was a sophomore. (I was never a junior, I skipped a year).
1978 - 16 years old, looking like a skinny gymnast because - THAT is what I was. Toothpicks have more curves than I had in 1978. Feathered hair, rolled up jeans (501) and maybe Chucks, but we didn't call them Chucks. We weren't cool like that. We called them tennis shoes - and not one of us played tennis - and you wouldn't wear these shoes anyway if you did play the game. 1978 - Carol: OH, Carol! She was my really good friend, but not my best friend, that position belonged to Jeanie and still does. Carol, however, (and Jeanie agrees) was the MOST beautiful girl in the city. She was taller than we were, curved, busting out busty, hips and legs to die for - blonde, naturally blonde, and get this, she had perfect teeth without having braces. God only makes a few like this ever. Carol Moore was one of them.
Carol and I were very immature - I can't explain that any more than to tell you what we used to do at Pauline's. First, I have to tell you about Pauline's so you understand that it's not just a little shack in the woods, because it was BY NO MEANS in the woods. It was a little shack out in the open in an area literally between two municipalities and neither of them had jurisdiction over the wanton, explicit, underage rampage that was forever taking place at Pauline's. Pauline didn't care if you were twelve. Did you have .50 for a shot? Did you have .50 for a 1/2 glass of beer? She was at least smart enough to fill the other 1/2 with water. No wonder we thought Bud tasted better in college! IT DID TASTE.
So, April 1978 - Carol decides to Marilyn Monroe it and wear a full length white rabbit coat over a little black dress that could have been an Ann Taylor or a Gucci, because NOT ONLY was Carol gorgeous, she was damn rich too. She drove a 350 SL - 16 and she has an SL. hahaha Jeanie and I walked where we wanted to go. Carol calls me: Jude, let's go blind. Let's do it at Pauline's. I haven't been there in like a year - come on!
You can't tell Carol no.
Going blind - that was me. I was the best mimmick of the condition. I could stare (and still can) for several minutes without blinking and I can haze over and keep my focus between your eyes so that I'm not actually making contact with you. I would have conversations, full 10-12 minute conversations with drunks who (because it was dark, I was with Carol, and they wanted to be) believed me. I had a problem you see. I was lost and my sister was either inside or outside, but I couldn't tell. I could get men to leave the baitshop/bar and help me find my sister. The way I described her she was certainly a prize to be found. After a minute or two I was on the arm of a man who most certainly needed assistance, and we were outside looking, rummaging around - blind leading the drunk, looking for Carol.
After not being able to find her, we would retreat back into the bar where I would ask the man to teach me to dance. We'd be dancing, me stepping all over his feet, and of course, the obligatory bumping into walls, doors, people - to keep him believing my plight. Suddenly, the doors would open and in the room you could hear the collective gasp of several beer-stained mouths dropping to the ground - Carol! "Judy! Judy! Oh my gosh, there you are honey. I've been looking for you? Do you know where you are? Oh, Daddy will be so upset with me. I told you to stay in the car! I'm sorry - oh honey, I'm so sorry - I'll take you home." I would always refuse.
What happened next was Carol pretending to be stupid - men would beg her to stay, she'd claim she lost $50 in a poker game, she would say she had a "filled house" but the guy told her he had something better and took her money. "Full House" the drunk listening would tell her. "Oh, but my Daddy will be so mad at me. I was suppose to buy Judy a birthday present and I lost it. I wanted to make more so I could get her something really special, she's going to be 18." Without ONE SINGLE exception, that woman would come out of that bar with $200+ (of course, I saw nothing!)
I think about it - I do. I was wrong!! Very very wrong! But we did laugh. If there was ever a layman's Oscar to be given - Carol Moore, ladies and gentlemen receives the Oscar for her role as the dim-witted blonde, the ditzy sister. Me, I think she gave me a cut sometimes, but money to Carol was something to give away to churches and to people who really needed it. I think she looked at our game as a way for her to meet every charity's need - The Jesus House was the most common recipient - and she loved confession! That girl LOVED confession. Being Baptist made it that much more fun for her - think about it. We'd drive downtown, give the money away - and then hit up a 24/7 Catholic chapel and she would confess!
What do you want to bet - when the Rapture comes, Carol will run up to me and say "OH MY GOD, we made it!" Then we'll roll over and laugh!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Before Heidi Fleiss

Before the well known, documented resident of Grayhall - I lived in the mansion. Funny, no one seems to want to know something good about the place.

Grayhall, located at 1100 Carolyn Way, Beverly Hills was the place I called my retreat off and on for 3 years. I will say that while I lived there the owner, Bernie Cornfeld, did NOT live there. I was hired spontaneously, sporatically, and literally on an hour's notice at times - to babysit the mansion, to babysit the hangers on, some 6-15 people at a time who refused to leave unless forced by threat, and I was given the GREAT and most privleged opportunity to babysit Bernie's little daughter - one beautiful Jessica. In 1983 she was 8. I don't believe I met her before that year, but I had been living there (placement on demand) for more than two years.

Jessica was, and she knows this, the most spoiled rotten child on the face of the Earth at the time. However, she was genuninely curious, evenly tempered most of the time, and if it weren't for her constantly wanting more of everything - I would have wanted to adopt her myself and take her away from the hellish life she had no idea she was living. I can't judge, and I won't pretend to understand the lifestyles of the very rich or the very dominant people who came and left Grayhall. I was present on many occasions when Bernie entertained a man calling himself Ariostole Onasis, but I refused to stay in the house overnight if the elderly playboy was in town. This psuedo Ari, believe it or not, was more openly down to earth than most farmers I have sold insurance to in Oklahoma - quite realistic, always a gentleman. It could not be said for Bernie.

For me, locking the doors at night, opening them in the morning, feeding the wolves - yes, wolves, and the oscelot, as well as making sure little Jessi was bathed, tucked in, read to, and kissed - was a pro bono arrangement. I don't know why I never took a penny from the man, but something about accepting anything from him lessened my mission of seeing to it that his daughter was cared for properly, at least when I was in the house. I remember crying days and nights when I wasn't in California and I wondered about her future, over time I stopped crying, but I never stopped praying. Jessica asked me a question in 1983 - one that would forever change her life, and mine.

There was a party scene going on. We were filming a Raliegh Production soft porn film (1985 release) called "Love Scene", directed by Bud Townsend, starring Tiffany Bolling and Frank Luz - it may have been created for Playboy, I'm not sure. The mansion was the location of the film, as it had been for movies such as A Star is Born (1970's) with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and Love at First Bite with George Hamilton (George lived in Grayhall for a while). I was in the film, partly because it did pay the bills, and partly because the extreme protective side of me refused to let Jessica stay in the house during the filming if I couldn't be there to watch her. I wore a brown skirt and a white blousey blouse, I held a cup of tea-water with plastic ice cubes in one hand and leaned against the side of the wall that was just outside her room. I couldn't believe she exited the room during filming, but there she was - the red light flashing, the shout from the director's assistant to be quiet - and out of the corner of my eye I saw the door open to Jessi's room.

Without making a huge scene I exited the shot and took her by the hand. CUT! Yelled the director..."Damnit, what the hell are you doing?" He screamed at me. "Babysitting" I retorted, and "If you don't remember, I hold the keys to this place, not you! So, shut the F*&K up and go back to making your movie!" I didn't mean for Jessica to hear it, but she did. Her question: Can you say words like that and be a Christian? WOW. Jude had some explaining to do.

I sat Jessica down on her bed and explained that I was human. I did make mistakes, but my mistakes were covered - I'm not suppose to just go off and make them, just because they're forgiven, I explained...but nevertheless Jesus did actually forgive me a long time before I was even born. She wanted to know more. On October 22, 1983 - Jessica Cornfeld, sole daughter of a very (Jewish) powerful fianancier, accepted Jesus as her Savior. Something Bernie never let me forget - I had majorly crossed the line. I can say honestly, I don't regret my decision to help her that night.

So, before Heidi had a chance to ruin what I found to be a most beautiful memory of a most beautiful house - with its secret closet/staircase leading to several extra rooms including my own suite, and the balconies that hid behind trees where you could totally throw things at people and they couldn't see you - with its HUGE pieces of furniture, millions of books, the costumes in Bernies closet, and the periwinkle decorations of Sophies room - - I lived in Grayhall.

I've recently caught up with Jessica. She's in London. She's still absolutely beautiful, but time has healed her of the spoiled brat phase - she is a great woman of philanthophy - giving and giving; she is the same gifted and wonderful child at heart. A much better legacy than Bernie ever deserved. (There I go, I said I wouldn't judge!)

Dance! Dance!

Obviously, this is the goal!
Could they set the bar any higher? Well, the good news is that goal setting is something I've always succeeded in. But this, well, it may have me second guessing my own personal will and strength. Oh, but I will try. I will try.
Can you imagine waking up one day and turning on the television to see yourself on camera, on stage, sitting in front of a studio audience who really isn't interested in a single word coming out of your mouth because they're so memorized by the two-legged dog you have on the program next to you, or rather at your feet. What YOU (or in this case, me) noticed when you saw the specticle on the set was NOT the dog, but the 200 pounds being lugged and dragged around as if it's normal, healthy, or even acceptable - it may be to someone else, but it most certainly was not to me. If I hadn't believed in depression and its effects before, I certainly knew what it could do to me personally - I had video proof!
Immediately I set out to lessen my weight, and found that diet and typical exercise was NOT, repeat, NOT working. My doctor suggested that I try dancing - belly dancing. (What was he getting at? LOL) So, (and let me say this with the upmost of ignorance) I went to the store to buy a book on the subject. I'm a writer, I'm a reader....books help in these situations. I got a book! After really studying the moves, the angles, the sharp contrast to the life I was living - I decided to buy a CD of erotic, exotic mood tones - something really liquid - Chris Spheeris! Oh, the man is hot! But that's so not the point.

With Chris' help, and the practice of sway, swing, swish, and lowering myself through both hypnotic and often chaotic experiments - I am now NOT, repeat NOT, any good at belly dancing. However, I am nearly 45 pounds lighter, and I have stopped scaring the dogs under the bed. They'll lay on top of it now and actually watch me dance. Success can be measured in so many ways. Dogs and kids. Dogs and kids. They are perhaps the most honest creatures of God's Earth. My dogs, because they're really genteel, kind, loving and very dependent on my graciousness - have said very little about what they think of my moving about - the kids have not been so kind. They don't really depend on me that much anymore - not since they discovered where I hide my credit cards and car keys. At least they laugh when the music is loud enough to cover their amusements.
Dance! Dance! Don't let the slightest of fears stop or distract you. DANCE! If you're like me, and you need a reason to move - motivate yourself with a 30-second staring session into the face and eyes of Chris Spheeris - get a picture!!!! MOVE....maybe someday I'll reach my goal, and maybe someday I'll win the lottery, and maybe someday the crew of Law & Order will want to shoot that scene with Jesse Martin and my dog for ratings! If nothing else - I can dream.

Friday, April 13, 2007

365 Ways to Have Sex

What are my kids trying to tell me? I check out my e-mail today as I do any and every day, and it seems that I've won an item on E-Bay. OK...from time to time I bid, mostly DVDs, books, CDs that I can't find on (an incredible site owned by Ebay) and I find that I've won a calendar for 2007. It's April 13th. We're into the year by more than a quarter, and they're bidding on was only a penny!

The calendar it turns out is a sex calendar. Yes, you and I both are now informed...there is one. 365 ways to enjoy yourself with or without your partner, and yes, it is illustrated - to a degree. I asked the younger of my spawn - the evil, twisted, erotica-writing pig-headed daughter with the eye for expensive clothes and a penchant for driving without a valid license or even her permit. I asked her if she ordered it, and if she did why would she use MY account. Her answer - Yes. I knew it! I knew it! Her second answer, or the followup as she would call it; research. EXCUSE ME?

Research she says for her newest chapter of her book that she's been collecting information, pictures, stories, studies, and now apparently positions for. I reiterated the 2nd portion of my position, er, question: WHY are you using my account? Simple answer -Her account was empty. No money in her paypal. Oh, well that makes perfect sense. So, yes, on the record, when I go for that professorship at Oxford, and they do the background - they'll see the calendar - maybe they'll smile and think I'm cool. Maybe I'll flip through the pages to see if I've missed anything along the way - it has been 8 years, maybe they've developed a new technique - it can't hurt.

Think about where you would put the calendar if you bought it. No, think about the clerk's face if you did buy it at a bookstore and it was for a gift and you wanted it wrapped. "Could you wrap this in....say....rubber...hahaha, it's a joke!" That would be hilarious if it weren't so true. I just gave myself an idea for my brother's birthday present. Oh, but I digress. Let me do a little research on this subject and get back to you - no use letting a perfectly good calendar go to waste. Has anyone seen Gary? (Did I say that outloud?)