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Friday, November 27, 2009

CNN Heroes

Every Thanksgiving CNN puts on a fabulous program dedicated to honoring every day heroes all over the world. Profiles of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I watched it last year and made sure not to miss it this year.

CNN Heroes is like the Academy Awards except for regular people, which in all honesty must put to shame all the egotistical, narcissistic actors and actresses out there who are handed gold statuettes every time they pass gas. This program is one of the most moving, "feel good" programs ever. I am not a very optimistic person when I look at the world in general, especially when I look at world leaders who oppress their people, or who have no integrity nor moral compass. It's hard to find good amongst those who live in the rarefied air of power and money. But watching this program last night confirmed to me that there really are good, amazing, selfless, beautiful human saints who give from their hearts for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.

There was one hero, a young kid really, Jordan Thomas, who lost both his legs when he fell overboard on the family boat and got sucked under by the propellers. This teen aged boy, from his hospital bed, realized how fortunate he was that his parents had the money to afford the insurance, the physical therapy and the prosthetics he would need throughout his life and in his gratefulness realized that there were many, many other children who did not have his opportunities and decided right then and there, while IN THE HOSPITAL, to set up a foundation that provides prosthetic limbs for children until they reach 18 years of age, FREE OF CHARGE. This boy couldn't have been more than 23 years old. I am posting his website so you can read about him and his organization. http://www.jordanthomasfoundation.org/. Do yourself a favor, when you have some time and read about this amazing kid.

Then there was the bus driver in Queens who saw day laborers every day standing on corners hoping to be picked up for a day of work and who would having nothing to eat that night if they didn't get work. Jorge Munoz took it upon himself to feed these men with the help of his wife, mother and sister. He puts in a full day at work driving a school bus then goes home to start, as he said ... "his second job", which consists of cooking chicken, rice, and black beans and then sets out about 9:30 pm to feed those men who are hungry. He was most proud of the fact that even while he was there receiving his award, his sister had stayed behind in Queens to make sure that no one would go hungry even for one night. When he first started this endeavor he fed 40 to 45 men a night. Today he feeds over 140. They call him The Angel of Queens. In the years he has been feeding these men he has never once run out of food. I couldn't help but think of Jesus feeding the multitude with just a few fishes and a few loaves of bread. I am posting his website. Jorge Munoz is originally from Columbia, and though very proud of his country of birth, he cried as he thanked the United States, the best country in the world, for all the opportunities has has found here. http://www.angelinqueens.org/.

Or the woman from Zimbabwe, Betty Makoni, who was raped at the age of 6 years old and faced unimaginable suffering and determined that she would do something for the girls and young women of her country who had been raped and tortured and witnessed unspeakable atrocities, to listen to them, love them, empower them and give them confidence. To educate and help them to become whole human beings with a hope for their futures instead of living lives of despair. Betty Makoni's website http://www.girlchildnetworkworldwide.org/.

There were so many amazing people being awarded that night that in all honesty I don't know how they decide who is THE BEST HERO out of all of them. When each of them accepted their awards they each stated humbly, that they didn't believe that they were heroes. Their message was that everyone one of us has a hero in us if we just listen to our hearts and respond to the needs of those less fortunate. These humble, strong, committed people doing God's work on earth with a purity of heart and seeking no reward for themselves other than to help their fellow man who are in need of love, guidance and support. They are all amazing, amazing people and there are probably so many others in the world who go unrecognized and unnoticed but who are doing the work they have been called to do with limited resources and sometimes even under threat of death. These are the people we should honor and respect ... not the uber wealthy or famous of the world.


I believe that when we die this is what heaven will be like. Scripture tells us that the first will be last and the last will be first. There will be a party in heaven in their honor where they will receive their crown of glory for having done so much good in the world. So, when you have a little time check out the website, www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes, and meet all of these incredible people, and hopefully it will inspire all of us to do the same.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lauren

I know I haven't posted in a while and that's mostly because of Thanksgiving and truthfully, not having anything to complain about lately LOL. But there is something I wanted to get out into the world and that is that my stepdaughter, Lauren, will be undergoing kidney transplant surgery on Dec. 7. Her mother will be donating her kidney to Lauren so, as you can see, we will have two family members in the hospital at the same time during the Xmas season. We met yesterday with a whole team of doctors and they gave us all the information we will need to know, including a tour of the hospital so that Lauren will not freak out too much when she wakes up after the surgery. For those of you who don't know about Lauren, she is 23 and has Downs Syndrome and so we have to ease her into things, although I know she is still not really aware of what is actually going to happen which can be good thing and a bad thing. Most importantly, none of us want her to suffer any pain but I guess that is inevitable. So, all you readers out there who read my blog or just happen to stumble onto it today, please say a little prayer to Whoever your God is for Lauren and Dawn. I am a great believer in prayer. Please pray that all goes well, no one gets an infection, and that her body doesn't reject.

And I hope all of you out there have a beautiful Thanksgiving and Xmas holiday!


Monday, November 16, 2009

More memories from the block, circa 1970's

I was just in the car on my way home listening to the radio and they were playing "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears and I REMEMBERED ... I REMEMBERED WHAT IT SOUNDED LIKE ... MUSIC .... REAL MUSIC ... brass sections, rhythm sections, lyrics, MUSIC MUSIC, not the computer generated crap that goes for music today with the negative, hateful, misogynistic lyrics. Let's go back shall we ... to the 1970's when music was real. Remember Chicago? Especially early Chicago ... the "Color My World" Chicago, the "Beginnings" Chicago, these guys were REAL musicians. They wrote the music and the lyrics. Tower of Power's horn section was, and is, legendary.  Earth, Wind & Fire, another legendary group, especially EARLY, Earth Wind & Fire ... anyone remember "Feelin Blue?" OMG, this song always gets to me and you never hear it on the radio ... another favorite "Outside Woman" by Bloodstone. Ay yi yi, talk about S E X Y ... Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes - the entire 1970's was a feast for the ears. Music that moved and grooved and was super romantic. Today there is nothing that compares to that era. I know that each generation believes theirs is the best, but I'M SORRY ... the 1970's were AMAZING. I remember seeing David Bowie on my 18th birthday at the Forum in L.A. I remember seeing Chicago at the Anaheim Convention Center and absolutely falling in love with trombone player Jimmy Pankow - WHAT A FOX! (fifth guy from the left with with the beard) every 16 year old girls fantasy.

When I remember these amazing groups I can't help but go back to Manzanar Avenue. I'm 14 all over again, hanging on the block with my best friend Denise. All the kids on that block will forever have a special place in my heart. Richard Monroy had the best collection of records EVER and it is because of him that these songs resonate in my memory for he was the one who played the music from his garage 24/7 and provided me with the entire backdrop of my teenage life. I remember he had a real talent for hooking up speakers and stuff like that. Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amor" will always remind me of Gerry Santana and Elaine Phillips ... sitting in Gerry's front yard with their new shag haircuts, they were the cool girls on the block, older than me and out of my league socially but everything I wanted to be as a teenage girl ... POPULAR!

My cousin Danny was GOD to me. Three years older than myself, he was really cool and had lots and lots of really cute friends (which, if you're the younger cousin of a cool, older cousin who is of the opposite sex and just happens to live next door, well this is like hitting the jackpot if you're a dorky 14 year old) Danny drove a lowered gold Camaro with Cragers and a color bar LOL! ... for those of you who don't know, a color bar was a contraption that you could hook up under the glove compartment and it flashed colors and shit ... I think it was supposed to be a "turn on" to chicks LOL!! More than anything on earth I wanted to hang out with Danny. I hoped and prayed that some of his coolness would rub off on me and make me the kind of chick that his friends would wanna hang out with (if you know what I mean) I wanted so much to be cool and good looking instead of being who I really was at that time, a dorky little pest. Whenever I hear Earth Wind & Fire's "Feelin' Blue" I remember Danny's friend Rod playing this song for me over and over again on the 8 track of his lowered Riviera ... so sweet to do that for me ... being just a nerdy little girl at the time.

I have so many memories of that time; hiding behind the curtains in my mother's bedroom to watch Danny and all his friends collect on his front yard on a summer afternoon with their low riders parked every which way and the music blaring and wishing more than anything on earth that I could be over there too, hanging out with all those cool, cute guys.

I remember having a HUGE crush on Danny's friend Frank Moreno (aka The Coolest Guy in the Universe) ... Years and years later I would actually be corrupted by Frank ... he got me high for the first time in my life. We sat in his low rider and he handed me a roach with a clip. I wasn't sure how to hit this thing, but hit it I did ... I was 23! Believe me, getting high for the first time at 23 was OLD in my neighborhood!

These songs from the 70's bring forth all the bittersweet memories of my youth. The secret crush on a special guy, the longing for that first kiss and the awkward, bewildering navigation through teen aged angst. I remember the beautiful pain of it all. At 14, I truly was an innocent and I look back on it with a full heart because there aren't too many innocent 14 year old girls anymore. And that is so very sad to me. I remember what it was like to be an awkward 14 year old girl riding my 10 speed all over P.R. with Denise and cruising Bobby Valencia's house, the neighborhood bad boy/heartthrob. Me and Denise at the carnival in the parking lot of Shopping Bag Supermarket, riding the Scrambler and laughing until I peed in my pants when she swallowed a bug and started gagging. We knew nothing of sex other than the magical imaginings of what it would feel like to have a real live kiss, this was the ULTIMATE, considering that neither of us had had this experience yet. I think back now and it was a beautiful time, though I wouldn't want to live it over, well, maybe some of it ... I loved growing up and going from a nerdy, skinny girl and metamorphosing into a young, pretty girl. I started to notice that Danny's friends, and other guys, were looking at me "differently" .... mhmmmmm, I think I like this! I liked the way the opposite sex started treating me. I loved the protection with which my older male cousins, especially Danny, showed for me even though at times it really put a cramp in my social life, but I now know that he was truly watching out for me. He once told me that we were at a dance and he saw a guy talking to me that he didn't like so he asked another friend of his to go ask me to dance to distract the other guy away from me. I never knew this until recently ... What a guy ... REALLY. So thank you my cousin for always taking care of me.

When, I FINALLY did get married, years and years and years later (LOL), I was waiting on the staircase inside the church in my gown and veil ... no one had seen me yet, and Danny wanted to take some film so he came up the steps and I'll never forget it ... he shook his head and looked down, then looked up at me and said "YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!!!!" And my heart melted ... I was a beautiful bride ... cause Danny said so. And at that moment, I BELIEVED IT because Danny, my big, older cousin, who I'd always had a little crush on ... said it was true and it meant the world to me. I was now ... very grown up and even though I took this walk rather late in life, I felt young and beautiful and ready to take this big step and walk down the aisle ... I looked over at my father and said "come on Daddy ... let's do this!"

There is nothing sweeter than revisiting your youth when you're far, far away from the pain and misery of it all and you can remember only the fun times, the magical moments and the beautiful memories that were were made with people that were family, neighbors and friends. There are moments I would love to relive ... and I do, if only in my mind. That is the beautiful thing about memories ... you can go back there whenever you want to, spend a little time there and relish every sweet, magical second.

Eighteen WITHOUT a Bullet

When I reflect back on the last 18 months it is really quite amazing to see who I used to be and who I've become. A year and a half ago, I was gainfully employed, I got up in the morning and had somewhere to go, I had friends that I went to lunch with, and I got a paycheck that I used to buy things with, save, and purchase necessities. Now ... 18 months later, I am a housewife type person. I have no friends (well, I do but THEY'RE ALL WORKING) so I don't socialize much, I don't shop and I don't go to lunch with friends. And though I believe all things happen for a reason, I'm certain I won't know the reason I've been unemployed this long for some time to come. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever work again. It's all too weird. In the meantime, this blog has kept me sane. I write everything down ... my frustrations, my hopes, my dreams. This has been a journey that I never thought I would make. I have had some amazing things happen through this blog. I met Amy Ferris, author of "Marrying George Clooney" (P.S. buy the book ... you'll laugh your ass of and have a good cry at the same time) and we have since become email buds. I went to a reading she did in Pacific Palisades and that was like the most exciting thing that has happened to me in life because she really, really liked my writing and told me I was really funny and to keep writing! No matter what happens ... KEEP WRITING. So that's what I've done and it has been a lifesaver. (That is her picture ... isn't she adorable?!)

So, the last year and a half has been filled with writing, writing, writing. Complaining, whining, kvetching ... basically, therapy without paying for it. My blog has allowed me to be creative, funny, thoughtful, and I now have people who "follow" me! I was even awarded a "Kreative Blogger" award which, for someone like me is really cool because it means SOMEBODY LIKES ME! There are so many funny blogs out there written by amazing women which contradicts that ridiculous thought that women aren't funny. PISHAW! We are fucking hilarious! Truthfully, I'd take a female comic over a male comic any day. Men are funny but not like women. Women have worlds and worlds of thought within which to vent in the most hysterical ways. One of my favorite stand up comics has always been Susie Essman (who plays the horrible wife on Curb Your Enthusiasm). She also just wrote a book called "What Would Susie Say?" If you ever feel like laughing out loud just jump onto You Tube and plug in her name. SHE'S FRICKIN' HILARIOUS.

Female humor bonds women together in ways that men could never fully appreciate. It is a way for us to commiserate our unique lot in life. And I don't believe that you can be really funny without having some smarts ... you have to have some brains in order to be really witty. And I do not mean to say that men are not intelligent, they're just not funny in the same way as women. A woman's brain is like a super highway ... on ramps, off ramps, lanes that merge, bridges connecting one lobe to the next, a very intricate machine indeed. A man's brain is kinda like a little dirt path. Women are masters of multi-tasking and can think about and DO more things at the same time than a man. It's a fact. Please see diagram below.


Woman's Brain:













Man's Brain:



















See.
(p.s. And, just for your information, this is the post that my husband thought made me a hater) ... So in the spirit of fair play, you may leave your comments, pro or con.

IS DEBBIE A HATER, OR NOT? (Check yes or no below)

YES

NO