‘The Gym Show’ has been published!

ImageMy first novel The Gym Show has finally been published!  I would love it if you would read it.  It’s available in paperback at the link below:

And it’s available on Kindle at this link:

And it’s even available on Nook at this link:

I am so excited for all of you to read it, and I would love to hear back from you after you’ve finished! 


You Can Call Me Bossy

Citizens of the world unite!  Avoid the word ‘bossy’ because it might lower a young girl’s self-esteem!

Here we go again.

My niece Jacqui has grown up knowing that she is bossy because we use every opportunity to remind her of how bossy she is.  My two daughters Julianne and Caroline, too, have bossyness running through their identical DNA. Furthermore, in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary beside the word ‘bossy’, you’ll see a picture of my sister Becky.  In fact, ‘Becky’ is oftentimes a euphemism for ‘bossy’, as in, “Quit being so Becky!”

Incidentally, all three young women’s respective self-esteems are solidly intact.  Becky’s self-esteem was never in question.

beyoncebuttI visited the “Ban Bossy” site, and I was intrigued to see that one Mrs. Z (neé Knowles) has served herself up as a spokeswoman (not a ‘spokesperson’; she’s a woman for crying out loud) for the campaign to ban the word ‘bossy’.  Hm.

Then my ADD took over, and I decided, since I have some of her earlier stuff on my playlist, that I’d listen to some Beyoncé just to see if I wanted to download anything else of hers.

I Googled “Drunk in Love” since it’s a duet with her husband, Jay—you know him as Mr. Z.  I gave it a listen, and, like most popular music, (even the music I listened to back in the 70s), I had to look up the lyrics, although all we ever had were the album notes and only if they were included.  Once again, I digress.

Anyway, this is what Mrs. Z rhapsodized about her husband:

“I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking,
I get filthy when that liquor get into me.
I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking,
Why can’t I keep my fingers off it, baby?  I want you, na-na.
Why can’t I keep my fingers off you, baby?  I want you, na-na…”

Okay, so Mrs. Z got a little tight, a little wound up, went home, and made frisky fun with her husband, I get that.  But, because it’s a duet, Mr. Z obviously had to weigh in:

“Foreplay in the foyer, f*cked up my Warhol.
Slid the panties right to the side, ain’t got the time to take drawers off.
On sight, catch a charge I might,
Beat the box up like Mike in ’97 I bite.
I’m Ike Turner, turn up, baby, no, I don’t play…”

Then he finishes off the third verse with this gem:

“Sleep tight, we sex again in the morning
Your breasteses (sic) is my breakfast, we going in, we be all night.”

Oh, my.  Well.  I can see why she doesn’t want to appear “bossy”—her old man might beat the crap out of her just like Ike Turner did to his wife Tina “What’s Love Got to Do With It” Turner, or maybe he’d bite off her ear  á la Tyson v. Holyfield (props to Jay-Z for not mentioning the rape conviction).  And, you know, I’m not so sure I’d care for my husband talking about my panties like that or having my “breasteses” for breakfast.  He normally has an Egg McMuffin™ or a large coffee from Dunkin Donuts, but not my breasteses.

Furthermore, my man might be bigger than I am, but I guarantee he’d never think of laying a hand on me or even joke about it.

In all seriousness, I don’t give a fiddler’s fart (my nod to St. Patrick’s Day) what Beyoncé and Jay-Z do in the privacy of their foyer or any other room in their castle, nor do I care about their song lyrics.  They have a right to sing whatever they wish to sing, regardless of how silly, misogynistic, sexist, or offensive it may be to some people.  Doesn’t bother me.  For the record, I like Beyoncé’s music.

Why don’t these lyrics bother me?  Because I respect their right to create song lyrics, even ones that are, on their face, tasteless and crude like the ones I’ve pulled out of “Drunk in Love”.  However, though I’m not a billionaire hottie with a voice like hers, I, too, reserve and deserve the right to use the word ‘bossy’ or any other word I want to use for that matter.  I’m a big girl.  Let me take the heat if what I say is stupid, offensive, jerk-like, or otherwise unseemly. You’re not the boss of me.

In fact, I’m going to go a step further.  I submit to all of you who appeared in the “Ban Bossy” video:  To Beyoncé, to my favorite comic actress Jane Lynch, to my diplomatic role model Condoleeza Rice, to Mrs. Affleck who was so adorable in 13 Going on 30, and to designer of the timelessly stylish wrap dress Diane Von Furstenberg, quit being so bossy and don’t you dare tell me what words I can use and what words I can’t!  Again, you’re not the boss of me!

Fair enough?

I don’t know about you, but I get a sick feeling in my gut whenever I hear someone invoking the word ‘ban’.  Read up on The Nuremberg Laws.

There was some big time banning going on in Nazi-controlled Europe in the first half of the twentieth century…

Conneaut Lake Park

clp midway  Tucked into a quiet corner of Pennsylvania lies what used to be a gem, a treasure, a fun-filled and exciting destination for so many Western Pennsylvanians and Eastern Ohioans that throughout its long lifetime it has evolved into an iconic symbol of the natural beauty and majesty of Northwestern Pennsylvania.  That historic, shiny, colorful, noisy, sometimes messy, but always extraordinary place was Conneaut Lake Park.

I say “was” because the last time I drove past the park, it was a shadow of its former self.  The Blue Streak was still there, but little else recognizable remains, or rather, little else was visible from Route 618 the last time I drove past.  In my youth, driving through the park with the radio on CKLW (800 on your AM dial) was a summertime Friday night ritual—the late 70s version of cruising.  And, yep, I was quite the badass in my dad’s 1975 red and white Ford Maverick, later traded in for a 1977 beige Maverick—and when I say beige, I mean the ugliest shade of beige on the planet.  Think oatmeal.

Never mind that the boy I was chasing at the time drove a black Trans-Am like Smokey’s and the boyfriend I was supposed to be going with had jacked up the back end of his car, added chrome wheel covers, and attached some gadget to the exhaust that made it loud when you revved it.

We were young.

Before that, I remember boogie nights (not those kinds of boogie nights) in the Dreamland Ballroom dancing to Les Wheeler’s collection of Donna Summer, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, and the ever-popular Commodores.  The disco ball rotating in the center of the dance hall’s ceiling illuminated a floor full of giggling girls only because the boys were too cool to get up and join us—maybe because they were only 13 or 14 and girls, to them, still had cooties.

But the Conneaut Lake Park that I remember best, and the Conneaut Lake Park that I long to see again was the Conneaut Lake Park that sponsored Ride-a-Rama every spring.  Ride-a-Rama meant that you bought a bracelet—the kind that could only be fastened to one’s wrist by an adult and would never come off, ever—that granted its wearer unlimited turns on any of the parks thrilling rides—from the Tilt-a-Whirl to the Blue Streak (even though only babies rode the Tilt-a-Whirl).  But you could only ride the Blue Streak if you were a) this tall, and b) courageous enough to do it “hands-free”.

As kids, we lived for each spring’s Ride-a-Rama.

My mother died unexpectedly in the early morning hours of Friday, May 10, 1974.  Later that morning, as my father sat in a stupor and my brother and sister lay crying quietly in their rooms, I watched as one of my mother’s friends swept through the house, readying it for the company that would soon be coming in from out of town.  She began by cleaning out the refrigerator to make way for all of the beige, oatmeal-colored casseroles and Jello desserts that would soon be arriving, and then she proceeded to clear out my parents’ bedroom of any trace of my mother—her clothes, jewelry, shoes, accessories—of which there were many—and perfume (the 17 full bottles of Chanel No. 5 she never wore and the nearly empty bottle of White Shoulders she always did).

She also snagged my Ride-a-Rama bracelet for the next day’s event, purchased well before our family had any inkling of how our hearts would be destroyed by the gut-wrenching pain of losing a wife and mother.  Mum’s friend told my dad that since I wouldn’t be needing the Ride-a-Rama bracelet that she’d take it into town and sell it.

Thankfully, in a gesture that has been long remembered and has endeared her to me forever, another one of Mum’s friends,  Mrs. Ferraino, bought back the Ride-a-Rama bracelet for me, just like a young bride’s wedding ring that was hawked the day before and sat bereft and all alone in a pawn shop window.  Having four children of her own, she knew that the next day’s Ride-a-Rama at Conneaut Lake Park— that seemingly endless day of being loose in the park with your friends and riding every ride as many times as you wanted—was exactly what this little eleven year-old girl needed to soothe her aching heart.

So for a few short hours on Saturday, May 11, 1974, I was able to table my grief, if only for a little while, be outside on a warm, sun-kissed spring morning with two dollars in the pocket of my jean shorts, run around like a wound-up maniac with my fifth grade friends, and for a little while pretend that I was just like them—that in the late afternoon I’d be going home and my mother would be waiting there to ask me about how much fun I had at the park.

And that’s my best, my very best memory of Conneaut Lake Park.  It is a memory, a snapshot, if you will, of what I hope the park may yet become.