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Exercise Hurts

ImageI wish I could say I’m one of those really athletic types, but I’m afraid my prowess was accurately noted in seventh grade when I accidently shot Betty Dykstra in the calf with an arrow during archery in gym class.   I’m a pretty good swimmer, had a proclivity for golf at an early age but wanted to spend my summer days drenched in baby oil and iodine at Stehli’s Beach rather than pursue whacking a little ball around.   Let’s just say my exercise regimen has been spotty.  ImageIn the eighties I wore leg warmers during step aerobics and have the crunchy knees to prove it.  And with the big hair and big glasses I fit right in.  Image    I did take tennis lessons with my husband and was better than he was and I didn’t let him win so we stopped taking lessons.  Then we got divorced.  I never played tennis again.   I did a half marathon once.  In the pouring rain.  I ate the hugest steak after.  And ached for about a week.  I have a edal to prove it somewhere.

I am a strange anomaly.  I am a left-handed person who does all sports right handed.  I think that has to do with age.  They handed me scissors and I used them with my right hand.  But those desks…and loose leaf notebooks.  Wait, this has nothing to do with sports other than the fact that about two weeks ago I decided “enough.”  Time to get back to exercise other than the walks I take with Riley and Harley each morning.   But…what to do?  A high school friend, Annie Durkin lives here in San Diego and loves Jazzercise.   So I looked up the schedule…about three months ago.  I used to love yoga.  I found a couple of places near home and looked up the schedule…about three months ago.  But now with my declaration of “enough” I started seeking.  My doctor said “walk forty-five minutes in one direction and then head home.”  Yeah, sure.  I said, “let’s start small and head for the beach.”   So I went to the beach.  I took deep breaths and in an instant I remembered just how much I love the smell of salt air.  There is nothing quite like it.  If you grow up near salt water it is truly ingrained on your soul.  I walked down the sea wall path the first day to Life Guard Stand 37 and back to the lot where I parked my car.  A half hour.  Ok…that was good.

The next day I made poor Harley and Riley walk farther.  Riley was on board but Harley has a very set schedule and breakfast at 8:00AM is etched in his brain.  He kept putting his leash in his mouth and dragging me in the opposite direction.  OK, pound puppy.  Next day I decide to find out just where the sea wall ends and park my car on the street above the parking lot and climb down 50 steps at Lifeguard Stand 36.  I head North to find out where the sea wall ends.  It ends with a steep hill up to the street and as I walk back to my car I think “OK…down stairs don’t count as much as upstairs do but that hill sucked.”  Forty-two minutes.  Works for me.  I am inching up to that 90 minutes one step at a time.  And don’t 50 steps count for something?  Even if they’re going down?Image

That afternoon I was meeting a good friend.  We’d reconnected after years apart after I moved to San Diego.  Such bliss!  We decided to hit golf balls and then attempt a game at some future date.  I forgot to mention that somewhere in the 1990′s I dated a great completely wrong for me guy, who was an excellent golfer so I played once again.  Muscle memory is amazing and I’d accumulated not one, but two sets of golf clubs that we moved from city to city over the past seven years.  Jay, a non-golfer, commented upon each move, “so we really have to take these?”  So glad I always said “yes.”  We whacked those balls…about 60 each.  By the time I went to bed I thought perhaps I had overdone my activity that day.

When I awoke the next morning I was more certain.   I don’t know about you, but mornings are the great equalizer in the muscle equation.  Somehow sleep, no matter how fleeting, along with lying dormant bring those facts into clear view.  I got out of bed and said “ouch.”  But I was determined to get up and walk through it because I had promised to go to a Jazzercise class at 8:45AM.  I admit to being insane.  I will do nothing for months and then…well, do this.   The Jazzercise class is about two minutes from my house.  I got there and discovered that instead of whatever Jazzercise is they were doing body sculpting today.  Body sculpting?  The ship sailed on that years ago.  What I’m hoping for now is a small reduction in my bat wings.  But I soldiered on with the weights and the mat and the plastic rope thingy.

Then I went walk the sea wall.  Let me explain about my love of water.  The smell of salt water soothes my soul…seriously.  Image

To me a long soak in a hot tub is about the best way to end a day.  Add candles and bubble bath and I’m happier than I can express. Two days later I decided to park in the parking lot and walk in a circle. Yet the circle includes walking UP the stairs.  All fifty-five of them.

My friend and I have played golf since…I have walked the walk.  I have climbed the stairs.  My body accepts and rejects these advances toward fitness with amicable distaste.  I recognize this and agree.  Yet I am enjoying the resurgence of endorphin, that marvelous chemical that tells my brain “I feel better.”

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When will it tell my body?

We shall see.

 

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Throwback Thursday

ImageIs Throw Back Thursday a Facebook creation?  All I know is that about two months ago there were pictures on my feed…great pictures, posted “Throwback Thursday,” or “tbt” which completely confused me.   So when I went through my box of “stuff” and found great pictures from my past I started participating.  Mr. Zuckerberg then took us each down memory lane with our “videos.”  First, I believe the music they chose was perfect for compressing ten years into 1.02.  Most of my friends joined about the same time I did and I looked at Facebook as an interesting diversion.  Then I kept finding more and more people from my past.  Some had been close way back then, but we’d lost touch.  Some hadn’t been very close but soon became closer through this new virtual connection. Those of us from our home town environs on the North Shore of Long Island bonded over that idyllic youth we shared  and reminisce over it wonderfully and often.  Others who tempted me into the political arena during the Presidential election became annoying…or maybe that was me? 

Facebook became a way to stay in touch, but more important to keep up with the happenings of friends’ lives in an amazing way.  I know when you’re trapped in the snow.  I know when you’re having a tough time, how smart was Mr. Z to include “private messaging.”  I love when you are sarcastic and so dark with your humor I laugh til I cry.   Speaking of which, back to the video.  Mine made me cry.  Every single one of yours made me cry.  Jay, who is not a Facebook devotee, hadn’t posted enough to have a video, and I sensed a hint of disappointment upon this realization. 

And now today is Thursday.  I stored all my found photos in a Throwback Thursday file.  I was amazed at the random pictures I’d collected, not stored in albums but carted around with me throughout the years.  Even more amazing were the collective memories I’ve loved sharing with people I am still friends with.  That we’re able to talk about it in just about real time, on Facebook.  Without Facebook I’d be unable to share a photo and have my friend from all those years ago remember she took the picture. Image. I’d be unable to keep in touch with people I’ve known for so, so many years.  I know the details of their lives and I love that.   They post pictures of nature, families, snow, vacations, animals.  I notice funny quotes and videos appear at almost the exact same time from people I know don’t know one another.   A great inspirational, or beautiful, picture makes my day.  Some of you really do make me laugh out loud.  I love your humor, the way you laugh at yourselves and make me giggle when you share what’s happening.           

Then there are the people on Facebook who aren’t really my friends…except they are.  People I’ve met through common experiences, common goals, and common causes.  One of them recently shared a Facebook plea … “don’t friend people you don’t actually know in person.”  That seemed confusing because some of the greatest people I’ve met, especially in the last couple of years, are people I don’t know in person.  Yet our bonds run deep. Image  I care about them deeply.  Facebook doesn’t get to be the boss of who I “friend.”   So there.

There are those who share their deepest personal issues and thoughts about them publicly. Some things are not meant for the internet ether and when they pop up on my wall ~ usually early in the morning ~ I wonder “you really thought sharing this made sense?”  But I guess late last night it did.  There are people whose cryptic posts beg the question, “what is going on?” or “are you alright?”   I wonder why they didn’t just spell it out and break the suspense if they so obviously want us to know what’s happening, just tell us.   I guess they just want us to ask.  My first look at Facebook is usually before I’m fully caffeinated so maybe that’s why I’m so cranky.   I’m sure there are many who find the pictures of my dogs incredibly annoying, although I can’t possibly imagine why.   

 Jerry Seinfeld was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night.  His routine was on phones, the internet, texting and its’ eliminating the need for us to talk to one another.  In some cases I agree it’s probably not the way to go, especially when I people sitting in a restaurant together busy on their cell phones rather than talking to one another.   I also wonder about the future of our youth.  Image  Will they even know how to interact in person?

As an extroverted introvert, ImageI like people in small doses and now that I have a choice about my method of interaction, I find many did not make the short list as I use the phone less and less.  But my phone rings less these days, too, so I guess I didn’t make their short lists either.  I still care about them… a lot.  I just don’t need to actually talk on the phone that often, because I know what’s happening with you.  My not talking on the phone a lot is really crazy cause I used to get into nothing but trouble when I was a kid for talking on the phone too much.  It was always the go to punishment.  We’re taking that turquoise princess phone out of your room.  But when I do actually call someone these days we usually talk for a long time, so I know I still have the phone-a-holic gene, out of practice though it may be.    Image    

When cell phone, pagers, fax machines and e-mail were new I resisted.  I said “I’m not that important that people know how to find me 24/7.”  Truth be told I didn’t want to be found 24/7.   Now, with Facebook, I do.  It’s interesting though because I get to check in on my terms.  And respond on my terms.  Hmmmmm….control much?   Yet I agree with Jerry Seinfeld when he said, “We don’t have to work as hard when we don’t talk to one another.  No facial expressions, no hand movements.  It’s just easier.”   Maybe that’s the truth…maybe not.    Maybe there are more extroverted introverts in the world these days who enjoy texting, reading and writing better than talking.   Although my husband still says I talk more than anyone he knows.  Maybe it’s all the words I’ve saved up by not talking on the phone as much as I used to…maybe not.  

I still sound cranky and I’ve had two cups of coffee so I will step away from the computer and re-read before I post this ~ with love ~ on Throwback Thursday. 

 And then I’ll call somebody.   Image 

PS  Candy Crush is going public with a stock offering …I will sponsor the first rehab group… on-line, of course.  #KingMedia #ohnoistweetingnext?

   

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What Goes Around Comes Around…Eventually

So, you all had to listen ~ well, read ~ about our move to San Diego a few months ago.  I think I’ve finally recovered and the garage does have room for at least one car now.  It also contains the beautiful dining room set we bought in Seattle and have had dinner at exactly two times.   Kathleen Fitzgibbons, my childhood next door neighbor commented that it looked  a whole lot like the ones we’d all sat around for holiday meals on The Knolls.  The dining room chair of my childhood is in the first picture, during one of the infamous slumber parties we all remember.  The one below is one of six sitting in my garage, but that’s a whole other story.  The fact that they are almost identical was  Image  subconscious, perhaps, but there nonetheless.Image

It made me think about things going full circle.  I had time to think as I decided to finally go through a box I’d schlepped from pillar to post but hadn’t looked at since 2006.  It contained lots of “stuff.”  Pictures, notes, more pictures, cards, letters, more pictures.  Many memories.  I whittled the box down to three large envelopes and found a few treasures along the way.  I put a very large pile together to toss.  I held onto the pile for a week and went through it again.  Things I thought I’d care about forever were disposed of.  Things I didn’t even know I had remained.  One of those that remained was a note I received from a contestant on “Name That Tune.”  In an earlier blog post I mentioned my first date with my ex-husband occurred following a taping of that show.Image  The lovely contestant who named the tune, “Some Day My Prince Will Come” kindly remembered me and sent the note via the contestant coordinator of the show.  She’d dated it so I knew the timing was right.   I felt like I was reading it for the first time and was astounded when I read a sentence describing her appearance.  “It’s bringing so much happiness to others and it’s the biggest thing that’s hit Novato in a long time.”  I’m certain, in 1977 I had absolutely no idea where Novato was.  In fact, until Jay and I moved there thirty years later, in 2007, I had no idea it was the sweet little city at the edge of Marin County in Northern California.  Now what are the odds of that one?

I haven’t gone to the blog in a few weeks.  I’ve been trying to be “bold.”  The nails aren’t wild and crazy ~ a bit more orange than red ~ but I am due for a manicure. Image

Instead of bold, what I’ve actually been is “peaceful.”  Where we’re living isn’t nearly as crowded as where we’ve lived.  My patience, or rather my lack thereof, is sorely tested in crowds.  I’ll take peaceful, with gratitude, and enjoy meeting penguins and petting dolphins. Image

Yet, sad things have been happening around me. Not close-close, but rather peripherally, and as I extend condolences I remember the times when I was locked in the sadness of my losses with twinges rather than with mind-numbing grief.  While discussing loss just today, a dear friend mentioned the “trails of junk” so many leave behind, both literally and emotionally.   So sad and so true.  I decided that since I had started this post about things going full circle I would end with that same thought.

So, just as I went through the box of tangible stuff I had been carting around for years, I will consider the trail of junk I have accumulated emotionally, sort through it, repair or toss.

Right after I get my nails done!

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Smile, stay safe and hug someone you love today!

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Ho…Ho…Ho…2014 is Here

ImageSo it’s the end of another year.  The years do seem to go faster except when something ugly is going on. Then time tends to stand still.  You name your ugly ~ you know what I mean.  New Year’s Eve is an interesting night.  I’ve had good ones but for the most part it has never been a “big” night.  Perhaps the trend for low intensity New Year’s Eve began when I was barely old enough to actively celebrate.  New Years Eve 1965.  I had a boyfriend, we exchanged presents ~ though he bought the “wrong” heart ring, if you remember those ~ and Mrs. Fitz exchanged her most memorable greeting upon meeting him.  I do not want to offend my Italian American friends by repeating her martini-laden response to their introduction following our “family” Christmas dinner, but I will say he was most gracious and laughed rather than file a complaint with the Italian Anti-Defamation League, a la “let’s change the name of Exit 39S on the Long Island Expressway.” I’m sure we had plans for New Year’s Eve, but between Christmas and New Years I got chicken pox.  One of the joys of a having seven year younger brother.  I insisted I felt just fine but the budding “pox” said otherwise.  It was determined I was probably still contagious, my parents cancelled the babysitter, bode farewell to their two itchy offspring and went to a party. Image I recall the boyfriend came over but didn’t stay too long, so I was left to Guy Lombardo and lamentation.  I remember thinking that I would be 50 years old in 1999.  It seemed like, well, the end of the century and unbelievable.  In 1965 my parents were 47 and 45, so to me fifty seemed older than dirt.  The sadness of JFK was receding and we were sort of back to living the American Dream on the North Shore of Long Island.  At the time I had no idea I would look back at this as a decade of extremes, of transformational change and bizarre contrasts: flower children and assassins, idealism and alienation, rebellion with backlash that fundamentally affects our way of life today. “The Sixties were an edgy time of transition, change, and confusion, ” observed journalist Kati Marton in Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History.” In 1963 Betty Friedan published her book The Feminine Mystique, in which she claimed that ‘the problem that has no name burst like a boil through the image of the happy American housewife.’”  I learned years later that the first tranquilizer, Librium, came on the market in 1960, in part to help alleviate the distress many women felt after returning to “waxy yellow build-up” following their stint in the work force during World War II.  But they were after “us,” too with the drug.  “A Whole New World … of Anxiety” read one of the early Roche ads for Librium, featuring a young woman with a pageboy hairdo holding an armload of books, wearing a short stadium coat and heading off to college. The copy made it sound as though every step in this “whole new world” called out for a tranquilizer. “ The new college student may be afflicted by a sense of lost identity in a strange environment …her newly stimulated intellectual curiosity may make her more sensitive to and apprehensive about unstable national and world conditions.”  The ad lists other sources of “anxiety” in a college student’s life — new friends, new influences, stiff competition for grades and tests of her moral fiber — that could just as easily be seen as growing pains, or as a healthy response to the turbulent world of the 1960s, when this ad appeared in The Journal of the American College Health Association.  But Roche wanted doctors to believe that they were problems, not adventures, and that they warranted a prescription for Librium.”  What I found most interesting is the advertising of tranquilizers were targeted to women.  Only women.  Image While Lesley Gore’s hit song ‘You Don’t Own Me’ climbed the charts, Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best dominated television.  In 1965 when asked “what is femininity” by Teen Magazine, Connie Stevens, responded “You work at being a good homemaker, making it fun and romantic.” In 1966, the National Organization for Women was formed.  In 1968, feminists protested at the Miss America contest in Atlantic City, arguing that the pageant was sexist.  In hindsight, I clearly recognize my confusion over the path my life would take.  Image I would get married and have 2.2 children .Image.or have a brilliant career doing what I did not knowImageImage ..or run away and join the circus.  Image But on New Year’s Eve 1965 no introspective musings entered my mind.  I watched the “ball” drop, Guy Lombardo and applied calomine lotion to an increasingly itchy me. Image I thought about the year ahead with all 16 year old intentions.  Should I wear my new Villager sweater and skirt on my first day back to school?  Will my “wrong” heart ring be ok?  Pretty shallow stuff, as I recall. Fast forward 48 years…Dick Clark replaced Guy Lombardo and is no longer with us.Image I am no fan of Ryan Seacrest but I do enjoy the fact that the ball drops three hours earlier now that I live in California.  As far as I’m concerned, when it’s 2014 in New York it will be 2014 for me, but that’s probably because I rarely make it to Midnight Pacific Standard Time.  I never did turn into a New Year’s Eve Party Animal and happily am married to a man who feels the same way.  I’ve also never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Follow-through can be tedious.  As I think about this new year I’ve decided I will make a resolution.  Just one. But first I will share a story.  The last time I saw my Mom in the hospital I gave her a manicure.  A first.  I remember holding her hands, knowing this would never happen again.  When she passed I inherited her jewelry so I stopped biting my nails. I have my mother’s hands and, when they grew, her nails.  For many years I shaped my nails differently than she did ~ I’m not sure why, but I just did.  But now I don’t.  I look at my hands and my nails and I see her.  Every day.  It makes me smile.  I wear red nail polish most of the time, or none.  When we moved I couldn’t find my red OPI polish and went to buy another bottle.  At the drug store I picked almost the exact same color I always wear and then thought, “let’s try something different” and chose something else.  Something very different.  I hesitated and said to the clerk, “I’m too old for this.”  She said “never,” so my new polish and I left.  I tried it and made Jay tell me 100 times it didn’t look stupid.  Fast forward to last week when I’m listening to Good Morning America.  Being a “housewife” has some down time for meaningless pursuits, so when they mentioned their holiday “deal” I rushed to the site and ordered my Julep nail polish selection at 75% off. Image They are bold, brash colors.  When they arrived I thought “I can’t wear these.”  Then I thought, “why not?”  I made a decision.  I will wear this different nail polish… I will look at my hands and hear my mother’s voice, “You can be anything you want to be, Janet…do whatever you want to do.” Image

She never really said those words but I know she meant to.

My resolution?   I will be bold about things that matter.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy New Year, my friends!

2

Merry Christmas to All

ImageThis is an interesting time in my life.  I have nothing to compare it to.  I am relaxed..I am content.  I am annoyed..I am annoying.

 Let me explain.  I have worked for the past fifty years.  Yes…I said fifty years.  My first job was at a bakery in Glen Cove.  I remember the bread slicer very clearly but I have absolutely no idea why I was there, other than it was cool to have a job before you were sixteen.  The next summer I was a bus girl at the Pig ‘N Whistle in Bayville.  Minimum wage was $1.35 an hour.  There were times when I remember I worked for a lobster tail, which I bought at the end of the night.  I left Long Island and moved to Los Angeles.  I worked there…at NBC…various jobs, various pay.   From there life moved for me much as I assumed it did for you.  Excellent at times..not so excellent at others.  There was always a constant…my work.  Currently, I am a “housewife.”  Enough said.  More will be revealed in future blogs, I’m sure.Image

There were times when I was married.  There were times when I was not.  There was never a time when I didn’t think Christmas was a time to be remembered… a time to be observed.   This has been a year to be reckoned with.   We are in a new city.  Despite the number of times we’ve moved in the last seven years, I am a nester and love my home.  It is important to feel like I am “at home.”   Image

My friendships run deep.  Despite years and distance, both literal and figurative, those I care about are always in my heart.  I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to connect, and re-connect, with people I care about.  Some virtually and some in person.  It always amazes me that we’re able to pick up exactly where we left off, whether it’s been one year, ten, twenty or forty. 

Life is grand in that manner.

So this is a brief post.  I want to say Merry Christmas.  I want each of you to have a memorable holiday.  I know each day won’t always be wonderful.  I know it won’t always be happy. 

But take a moment to be grateful for all there is. 

I know I am. Image

1

Where Were You?

November 22, 1963 began as just a regular day.   It was a Friday.  I think there was supposed to be a dance that night but I might be wrong about that.   I remember exactly where I was when the voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that the President had died.  Mr. Richard’s math class.  I remember Mr. Richards was a talkative man with a wry sense of humor.  I liked him.  That day he didn’t say a word.  Neither did any of us.   I think we were told to leave the classrooms and go directly to our buses and go home.  I remember people crying ~maybe one of them was me.  I remember it was quiet…very, very quiet.  So much changed that Friday.  On this Friday it’s very hard to believe that was fifty years ago.  Our lives have gone in so many different directions, both figuratively and literally.  We’ve each experienced ups, downs and all those dips on the roller coaster we call life.  But I am certain we each have our memory of that day and the days that followed. 

My peers and I grew up during the era of air raid drills, duck and cover, basement bomb shelters and the threat of nuclear war.  We also grew up during a pretty wonderful, innocent time on the beautiful North Shore of Long Island.  We played kickball in our neighborhoods and we loved summer because it meant lightening bugs, baby oil and iodine at Stehli’s Beach and Ben the Good Humor Man.  We had Shu Swamp and Beaver Dam as our playgrounds. That nuclear war wouldn’t really happen but there would always be burgers at the Pig and pizza at Ralphs.  But everything changed on that November day.  We learned that really terrible things did happen and there wouldn’t ever be much we could do to change that fact.  Our country changed dramatically over the next years.  It became a much more turbulent time and as we went off to college and began living our lives I don’t think any of us gave much thought as to where we’d be on November 22, 2013.     

It’s been an interesting half century as I’m certain most of us would say about our lives.  Many of us stayed close to our idyllic home town and many of us left.  While I moved to Los Angeles at 21 and remained in place for many years, it has been a trip outside my comfort zone to move as much as we have over the past seven years.  But I’ve enjoyed each place.  I like to think of myself as relatively stable although some might disagree with that description.  My husband for one as each move brings out the schizophrenic side.  Our recent move to San Diego was no exception.  Yes, I was happy we were leaving LA.  But no, I don’t want to move…again.  I so wished I was Elizabeth Montgomery on “Bewitched” where it could all be over with the twitch of a nose.  The stability I refer to is the fact that in my personal world a house is a “home.”  I am a Cancer…a nester.  Throw in a dash of ADD and obsessive disorder about the need for things to be in their place and well, you get the picture.  You saw the pictures ~ my need to unpack and get settled was greater than my exhaustion.  A shrink would have a field day with said needs ~ and has.  I am living proof that mental health can be purchased. 

I’ve enjoyed each place we’ve lived, but then we’ve lived in pretty exceptional cities.  First stop was Mercer Island, Washington, just across the floating bridge from downtown Seattle. Image It was without question an amazingly stunning place geographically. Huge evergreen trees, mountains with snowcapped ridges and water everywhere.  My husband is in radio.  Jay started as Program Director at the station KBSG in March while I stayed behind to finish up my job as Executive Director of The Wellness Community in Santa Monica and sell our house in Tarzana.  He’d say things like “it’s still a little light at 8:30.”  Something I would clearly remember in the dead of winter when it was pitch black at both 8AM and 3PM.  We did not look at Seattle on the map and Seattle has a way of fooling you with its weather.  Just when you think you can’t stand another minute of the gray the sun comes out and you know this is the best place on earth.Image  Then the lights go out on Labor Day.  That winter it snowed in Seattle for the first time in many years.  But first there was a wind storm.  A very large wind storm.   During the beginning of said windstorm I realized the floating bridge swayed.Image  I clearly remember saying The Lord’s Prayer out loud as I drove over it on my way home from work.  Late that night I’m told I slept through what sounded like a freight train about to drive through the house when the brunt of the storm hit.  It knocked over trees and knocked out the electricity on Mercer Island for six days.  Six days…in December.  The temperature in our bedroom was 36 degrees.  We dragged a mattress into the family room with the gas pot belly stove/fireplace mattress, cooked on our gas BBQ and waited it out with our three dogs.  When I saw the light in the dryer come on I cried.  Jay said he’d never seen me so happy to see an appliance working.  I met some wonderful people at Special Olympics Washington and discovered Beecher’s mac and cheese during our year in Seattle.      

Next stop, San Francisco.  ImageJay is from the Bay Area and his beloved KFRC was going back on the air.  We sold the house on Mercer Island in a day and moved to Marin.  We were a half hour from the city and a half hour from Napa.  Truly God’s country.  Turkeys and deer came down from the hills to our front yard and drove Riley O’Riley absolutely crazy.   Jay commuted to the City, I worked in suicide prevention and then at KFWB, a community radio station in Pt Reyes.  I had the best commute to work ever as I stopped to talk to cows on a regular basis.  ImageThere was one ~ #167 ~ who I swear to this day recognized me.  I do not like thinking about what the number 167 meant.  What gorgeous country!  And Cowgirl Creamery…Point Reyes blue cheese…OMG. Image It was heaven…until the day KFRC “flipped” without notice.  The world of radio had changed dramatically over the years.  Let’s just say deregulation, the internet and Satellite radio has taken its’ toll on the industry and let it go at that.

Back to Los Angeles.  Will Smith and his wife started a school.  New Village Leadership Academy and I worked there as Development Director.  Jaden Smith and I share a birthday.  I wish we shared his bank account.  There’s more to the LA story and I will say each move brought great new people into my life.  You can never know enough great people, right?  But I can also say people grow frustrated at continually having to white out our address and phone number.  Imagine if you had to pack and unpack all those boxes?  

 

And now we’re in San Diego.  North County.  Google 105.7 The Walrus and you can hear Jay stream live from 9AM-2PM Pacific Time.  The internet surely isn’t all bad.  It has helped so many of us re-connect.   I love the fact that every day I can see what my friends are doing.  Friends I haven’t seen in decades.  Today we’re all thinking about the same thing … the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s death.  Anniversary is a word I think of for celebrations and there is nothing to celebrate about that day.  But I do celebrate the fact that so many of us are still around and still in contact, albeit virtually.  

Tomorrow Jay is doing an on-site in Poway and I will see a high school classmate.  Annie Durkin and I haven’t seen each other since we graduated from Locust Valley High School.  We were in different classrooms but Annie and I heard the same horrible news at the same time fifty years ago.  

What are the odds we’d be in the same place at the same time fifty years later?   

Many things come full circle and for that I am grateful.

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Life on the Water ~ 70′s Style

ImageYes, I went to the NBC Credit Union and took out a loan to “buy” the boat over the next seven years. It was a pretty, albeit old, wooden Chris Craft cabin cruiser. There was an enclosed back, which meant the deck with the steering wheel and engines beneath was our living room. Down into the cabin you found a dining table, which converted to our bed and a very small kitchen ~ thank goodness for the crock pot craze and the advertisers on the Tonight Show that provided many props.  The front of the boat – or the bow – had a “v” berth with room for two tiny people. Jake’s sons fit snugly. They loved the adventure and for about a month, so did I. Or did I just love my father’s reaction – “Holy sh*t…you’ve lost your mind.”  Perhaps I had.

The closet on the boat held about five work outfits and the “head” aka bathroom was not to be used at dock.  No worries ~ a restroom complete with showers were a mere 1/4 mile up the dock.  As I write this I shudder in disbelief at what I chose as my reality, but at the time I thought of the boat as a large water bed.Image

I wish I could say things were good. But, Jake was not having fun with his “mid life crisis.” It involved dramatic changes at work where he was relegated to managing people no one had ever heard of and, more than likely, never would. The financial strains of his first life were creating damaging cracks in his second.  Post taxes and boat payments, my salary was stretched and I was not the happiest of campers, either.  Not to mention I always felt a bit moldy.  And not in a good way. The good way to feel moldy is in France surrounded by a whole lot of great cheese.

We decided to go to San Francisco for our first anniversary.  Image Jake had a conference to attend so I had free time during the day.  Don’t ask me what possessed me, but I called an employment agency and went on an interview at an advertising agency.  Down by the wharf ~ large brick buildings ~ San Francisco was a seductive city, for sure.  While the agency wasn’t The Tonight Show there were good accounts and the dangling carrot of a Jr. Account Executive position should I do well in this entry level post.  I told them my husband and I were moving to San Francisco.  They told me they liked me and would let me know in a few days. 

That night I called my mom while Jake was still in meetings.  Turning 25 was a milestone and I let her know I was feeling “old.” Her response, “why should being 25 matter?  You’re married.”  As she surely wasn’t crazy about the guy, seemingly it was the status that counted.  Can you understand why my life-view was skewed…and screwed?

About a week after our return to Los Angeles I received a phone call offering me the job.  Remember this was pre-cell and mobile phone days.  We had a phone on the boat with a really long chord that plugged into a jack on the dock.  I lost count of how many times I tripped over that really long chord.    The money was significantly more than I was making.  I had twenty four hours to make the decision.

You’ve surely noticed that many cliches are actually truths repeated so often by so many of us.  A personal favorite ~ hindsight is 20/20.  From where I stand right now I see the choice I was leaning toward clearly, but recognize that would have altered every other life event to follow.  A completely different life script.  Nothing would have been the same.  From where I stand right now that would not have been good news.     

I thought about it for two days.  Seriously thought about pulling out of this life, this city, this boat and this marriage. What I did was call the personnel department and say I wasn’t moving up to San Francisco after all. I was going to stay.  In Los Angeles, working on the Tonight Show, married to Jake.

Lots of my life during that time was fun.  I met people and saw things hanging around NBC that I certainly would have never been a part of had I stayed in Locust Valley. By this time I probably would have had a child of my own had I married that nice young man, instead of every other weekend with four kids I liked a lot but, boy was this boat crowded.  Life with Jake was crowded with drama, turmoil and his unhappiness with what he had determined was his unfair “lot in life.”  Through no fault of his own – always, according to him – his great talent was being passed over time after time to represent the greater talent coming into the agency. I wished I always believed him but I’d come to notice his complaining was becoming a chronic condition and if I noticed, certainly others did, as well.  Our age difference made me part of the triangle with his serious mid-life crisis. 

Working on the Tonight Show was an adventure.  The people on the show were great.  Betsy worked for the head talent co-ordinator and was a gorgeous, smart girl about a year younger than I.  I soon discovered she was the girl everybody wanted to date. Chevy Chase Image came for chicken parm one night in his convertible that really didn’t have a top at all long before Saturday Night Live when he was a writer on the Smothers Brothers show.  Freddie Prinze Imageslept on her cough the night before his first appearance on the show. Betsy, and I were always coming up with something to fill the extra hours in the day. Let’s be honest, working hard was not a Tonight Show job requirement.  Most of the jobs were pretty cushy. So Betsy and I hooked rugs and put together “The Tonight Show” scrapbook – fully subsidized by NBC under the auspices of the head of the Prop Department.  People walked through our bungalow and said hello.  Ed McMahon’s office was right behind my desk and every late morning he’d walk in with that booming “Hello Janet and Beth”. With him what you saw was truly what you got. He was warm and friendly with HORRIBLE taste in women. He met his second wife, Vickie Lee Valentine in the VIP lounge at some airline. She was a hostess. Later she was “reinvented” as Victoria and had one of the worst attitudes of entitlement I’d ever encountered. Reportedly, at their wedding reception in an overly intoxicated state ~that was true about him too, he did imbibe ~Victoria said “that’s it fatso, we’re married now I don’t have to be nice”.  And, from what I understood about their union that was certainly truthful.

I was stunned by my fortune yet having never aspired to such a goal, I wasn’t as impressed as I might have been.  I realized these were all just people.  Famous, surely, some nicer than others, but… just people.  Ed McMahon’s office was the door behind my desk.  He would walk in, larger than life, smiling and jocular.  A very nice man, usually in a very good mood.   He didn’t exactly say “hey-oh” as he walked past, but that greeting wasn’t a stretch coming from the man I saw every morning.   Doc Severinsen the same, except the flashy clothes were a prop.  He wore jeans, practiced the trumpet ALL the time and loved all animals.  He and his wife wound up with quite a menagerie.   She was a friend of mine and I house sat for them a few times in their early days.  Once I lost one of their cats.  I accidently locked her in the closet and when I opened the door during my desperate search she leapt into my arms, foolishly forgetting I was the one who had condemned her to said fate.  For years, that darn cat would repeat the performance whenever I entered their house.  Doc would say, “that one sure does love you.”  Silly cat!

ImageJohnny Carson was shy.  I watched him become Johnny Carson when he walked through the curtain every night.  His office was above the studio, not in the bungalow with the rest of us.  He’d park his car ~ first a Mercedes then a Corvette, license plate 360 GUY ~ in the first space a few steps from the entrance to the studio door, and walk quickly to his offices, behind locked glass doors.   My interaction with him was intermittent.  As Commercial Production Assistant, we scheduled and screened all network commercials ~ some we did “live,” like the infamous ALPO spot when Johnny ate the ALPO.    

The first two sixty second spots that ran every night were “national.”  They were our responsibility, and Tonight Show income.  At one time The Tonight Show actually generated one-third of NBC’s revenue, I was told.   I’d write those scintillating lead-ins Johnny would read … “We’ll be right back after this word from our (emphasis added) friends at the friendly skies of United.”   Every so often there would be “sales tapes” to produce.  Large advertisers, such as United Airlines, had large sales conferences back in the day.  Johnny and Ed would tape a “welcome” for them.  My boss, the Commercial Producer, Dick Manley, would sit up in the booth with the director, Bobby Quinn.  The copy would be on cue cards.  Johnny and Ed would be at the desk in their positions and I was “on the floor” in the front row.  I’d place the props and that was usually that.  Dick or Bobby would communicate with Johnny directly over the Public Address system into the studio.  But one day Johnny decided he wanted to change the copy a bit.  He said, “Janet, what do you think about this?”   JANET?????  OMG…do not throw up.  He said your name.  Luckily, I reacted as if I weren’t about to pass out, made the changes and moved on.  I do not recall him ever saying my name again.  Once was enough…

I passed two years on the boat with Jake, his children and spent my days with Johnny Carson and his crew.  One day I wandered through the studio and happened to check the job postings. During those days at NBC people on the “inside” got first crack at an open position. One caught my eye ~Co-ordinator, Compliance and Practices.  It was described as working for the department ensuring the honesty and integrity of game shows.  At that time NBC, as well as CBS and ABC had many game shows on the air.  Hollywood Squares, Name that Tune, Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune and others.  Since NBC had been involved in the game show scandals many years earlier they took the integrity of these productions very seriously.  It looked interesting…it paid more money…I was ready for a change.

I called personnel and went up to discuss an interview.