Ratt & Roll – Stephen Pearcy’s Memoir – Book Review

pearcyThe first time I’d heard the band Ratt was sometime during 7th grade. “Round and Round” was a catchy song, but being a 12-year-old that wasn’t allowed to purchase rock cassette tapes at the time, I didn’t mind that it was overplayed on the radio. I listened to Ratt throughout my junior high and high school days, purchasing whichever cassettes I could or at least duplicating tapes from friends.

Last week at the library, I found Ratt’s founder/lead singer Stephen Pearcy’s memoir: Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll – My Life in Rock. First I have to say that the book is very well written, flows nicely, and is easy to understand. It’s interesting to read from a fan’s point of view how Pearcy grew up, his struggle with having two broken legs after being hit by a car, heartbreak, his rise to fame, his downward spiral after the band broke up, and his newfound sobriety after the birth of his daughter. Some of the book tells pieces of his therapy sessions, most of which he seems to reveal his blatantly trampy sexual history. Pearcy does not sugar coat anything.

During the 1980s, my friends and I wanted to be like the girls in rock videos – hot and sexy and appealing to band members, but we hadn’t a clue what these band guys were really all about. While I was a 13- to 16-year-old virgin around the time I was a huge Ratt fan and drooling over Stephen Pearcy in MTV videos, he was getting screwed or blown by everything in a skirt or was nursing a bad case of gonorrhea. Pearcy’s constant reminder of how often and to what extent women wanted him is a bit nauseating. He also often reveals sexual escapades of his own band mates (particularly those of Bobby Blotzer and Robbin Crosby) and members of other popular glam rock bands that I listened to at the time (Van Halen, Poison, and Motley Crue, for instance).

Just a few examples – and these are tame:

“… there was so much goddamn trim around in those days, it didn’t make much sense to any of us to stick to one woman.”

“Our bus was a motorized fuck factory on wheels…”

“I pulled my pants down around my ankles and received the blow job of a lifetime while losing to Blotzer at Pong.”

“… one of our best tricks was to find a tall, slutty groupie with dyed blond hair and black roots… and have her suck off as many crew guys as possible; ideally, the ones who never showered. Then we’d steer her over to Blotz.”

So far the only thing that’s been blown for me is my image of the bands I used to love so much. Not that I ever thought they were innocent – but I didn’t expect them to live up to the name of a rodent by doing gaggable offenses (no pun intended).

But in the end, however, Pearcy redeems himself by admitting that (as he was older) he wanted something different – real love. That came after the birth of his daughter, Jewel, and his road to sobriety.

Some of the things that impressed me:

  • Pearcy himself seemed to steer the band to stardom. He wouldn’t stop until it happened.
  • Pearcy convinced the band to have their own look (something he describes as similar to pirates), including eye makeup – to the dismay of some of the other guys. He made his own costumes and even painted his own spandex pants.
  • Pearcy seemed to get along with others easily and make friends and connections quickly (before the downward spiral).

If you were ever a Ratt fan, this book is a must-read and difficult to put down. Oh – and it sure as hell beats 50 Shades of Grey.

To reminisce some of Ratt – here are some Youtube videos.

My Days of Heavy Metal & Being a Rocker Chick

I just read a memoir by Stephen Pearcy (of Ratt) and relived the moments of my lusting over long-haired band guys. I’d written about some of them in both of my books, which referred to me around age 13 and throughout high school.

I was known to be a “rocker” when I was a teenager and in my 20s. Only back then we were called “headbangers”, “motleys”, and “metal heads”. This was back in the 80s, so spandex, big hair, black eyeliner, and concert tshirts was my main wardrobe. (I’ve calmed down quite a bit since.) I went to every concert I could, and I’m glad I did get to see them in their prime.

Here are some excerpts from my books:

 

From my memoir "Unheard"
From my memoir “Unheard”

 

From my memoir "Unheard"
From my memoir “Unheard”

 

From my book "Dissed & Pissed"
From my book “Dissed & Pissed”

 

From "Dissed & Pissed"
From “Dissed & Pissed”

 

From "Dissed & Pissed"
From “Dissed & Pissed”

A Stolen Life – Jaycee Dugard’s Memoir

If you’re looking to read a great story, continue reading.

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 12.50.25 PM

I just finished the life story of Jaycee Lee Dugard – her memoir titled A Stolen Life. I checked the book out from the library on Thursday and finished it last night. It was difficult to put down. There were also many difficult and emotionally disturbing parts to read without tearing up.

Jaycee was kidnapped in 1991 when she was only 11 years old. Her kidnapper was a convicted rapist whose wife helped him with the kidnapping. (I won’t even mention their names in this because they don’t deserve to be on my blog.) Jaycee was basically enslaved for the next 18 years, enduring rape and sexual abuse, mental and emotional abuse, and manipulation. Unfortunately, the legal system failed her, as there were several instances in which she could have been rescued. In the book, Jaycee recounts everything she remembered about the day of her kidnapping and what she remembered in between. She was rescued in 2009, along with the two girls she’d given birth to during her captivity. But Jaycee’s story wasn’t over even after her rescue. She was subjected to media scrutiny and paparazzi harassment. Imagine spending 18 years of your life as a prisoner and then having to deal with those heartless idiots!

I was surprised that Jaycee seemed as intelligent as she was, especially since her education stopped at fifth grade. She seems to have a heart of gold and still has the innocence of that 11 year old girl that was kidnapped years ago. Surprisingly, Jaycee is incredibly forgiving of what was done to her, which is something that all of us could learn to do.

American Airlines = Worst Flying Experience EVER – for Pets, too

It didn’t surprise me when I heard that American Airlines was rated one of the worst in the industry. It made me laugh out loud when I read that it was one of the most hated businesses in the U.S., because in my opinion, it’s true.

Whoever designed the seats on American Airlines’ Boeing 747 apparently did not have comfort on their list of qualities. I have taken two flights on this plane cross-country and have never in my life been in so much discomfort – and pain. The seats are designed to curve inward – a very unnatural way for any human to have to sit for any amount of time. After doing some research, I see that I’m not the only one that feels this way about American Airlines seating.

This is a seat the goes back all the way. Imagine sitting for 12 hours in a seat designed like this that does not. Notice how the headrest leans forward. With the seat upright, your head leans forward for the entire flight. Even with the seat reclined your head is tilted forward.

And let me tell you – I weigh less than 130 pounds and am a size 6, so at my size I should have had plenty of room to move, right? Not on American Airlines. The first time I took this airline I ended up in the center seat. There is ZERO leg room. By the end of my flight I was literally in tears because I couldn’t move and was becoming numb from the waist down.

The second – and the last – time I flew American Airlines I thought I was lucky to get an exit seat, because they had far more leg room. However, the seats in the first exit rows do not tilt back. The seats in the second row do, but guess what? Mine was broken. So you have to sit tilted forward in the same way the seats are built.

Of course no one at American Airlines seems to give two birds on a naked pony fence about customer service. I informed the flight attendant of the broken seat, and I got a mere thank you for letting her know. No upgrades, no nothing.

Something else I didn’t know about exit rows is that they are freezing cold. I’m talking big, grown men are freezing cold sitting in them as well, and if you’re on a night flight, you can guarantee super freezing cold.

No food, water, or bathroom break for 22+ hours for your pets with American Airlines.

But my very worst experience during my last ever flight with AA was flying with my pets – 3 cats and a large dog. First of all, flying from Hawaii with a large dog has its limitations, so AA is only one of two airlines that will accept them. Upon leaving Hawaii, first we were told that our dog weighed too much and would have to fly cargo. This wasn’t the case when we flew into Hawaii, however. Then we were told that our dog’s crate was not large enough and that it would be cruel to allow him to fly with it. Now this is a crate that was purchased 5 months prior and arrived in Hawaii without any issues. Our dog is about 7 years old and didn’t grow within those months. He was able to stand up and turn around perfectly fine – and to be honest, he had more room in his crate than I did in my seating area on the plane. We were stuck leaving our mostly new crate with AA and purchasing one of theirs for another $99. The other issue is that the size of the crate wouldn’t fit on the flight we were scheduled to fly, so the dog had to be shipped to separate locations and on separate flights. Cha-ching!

Because of the crating issue, our flight had to be changed and was 7 hours off schedule. If you’re counting hours that our pets sat in the crates, yes, so far the cats – which had already been checked in – had been sitting in their crates so far for  a total of 7 hours without food and water. They were scheduled to be watered and fed within 12 hours of our layover. All in all, we flew and had layovers for more than 22 hours. Our pets sat in crates for 22+ hours, and when they arrived through the gate to us, it was very obvious that no food or water had been given to any of them. The food had been taped to the top of the crates and was INTACT when we arrived. Their water bowls were dry as a bone. It was obvious the dog had not been let out to pee as instructed. I was furious.

I never made a formal complaint to AA because the entire ordeal was simply exhausting. Plus, I figured all I’d get is an apology letter which really wouldn’t make a difference to me one way or the other. Blogging is the best way to allow people to know which airline not to use when transporting pets. Never again will I fly my pets on any airline, and I will never fly American Airlines myself again either.

“American Airlines sucks!” yelled the cat.

What is the Point of Spamming a WordPress Page?

I’m certain I’m not the only blogger that is annoyed with spammers in the comments section of their posts. WordPress does a pretty good job at putting them in the spam folder, but their “blacklist system” doesn’t seem to be doing its job. After not logging in for about two weeks, I had 12 spammers basically saying the same thing about how to improve my website. Today I had another 8 or 9 spammers saying things that didn’t make any sense, and one or two spammers posting nothing but links to junk.

I just don’t get spammers. What is the point? I don’t know of anyone that ever clicks on their sex links, purse and shoe ads, or SEO advertisements. Even if they do, I doubt they’d buy anything. It’s like the junk mail I get in my snail mail box to buy car insurance I already have – goes straight in the trash without any consideration whatsoever.

So can someone answer my question – what is the point of spam? Does it actually work? Do these people actually make money? Or are they just trying to be annoying little bastards?

Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatique Syndrome – Eating Habits – Part 3

In my first blog on this topic, I discussed how I had been diagnosed with these strange illnesses and how massage helped many of the problems. In my second blog entry, I discussed the food allergies I discovered and took control of.

Now I will discuss more about my eating habits. I grew up eating and loving Chef Boy Ardee and Spaghettio’s. In fact, I would have eaten it every day if I was allowed to – or anything with tomato sauce for that matter. Vegetables were nothing I would touch, unless it was a tomato or maybe a cucumber. Even as an adult, my eating habits didn’t change much until about a year or so ago when I was sick of feeling sick five or six out of seven days a week. So I began educating myself.

First, I started by finding out what may be the cause of aches, pains, and general feelings of discomfort. I began visiting health food stores and talking with others just like me who made some suggestions. One of them happened to mention the link between the pH in the body and the growth of disease. It reminded me of taking those little litmus test papers in school science class, but I was now beginning to understand what that was all about.

Balancing the acidity vs alkalinity in my body took on a whole new meaning of eating properly. I started to take notice of how my body felt when I craved and ate too much pasta. Without knowing how to fully describe it, I would say heavy, like a wet rag, and slightly achy – whatever it was wasn’t normal. I had no idea that pasta is considered acidic. Also, my love of tomatoes hasn’t died… add those to the pasta and what do you get? More acid in the body. My beloved morning coffee = more acid. So you get the picture. I was a walking body of acid. One conversation started to change that, however.

Having no idea what foods or drinks I had been consuming were acidic in nature, someone had informed me of taking an all-natural drink powder made with all organic green vegetables. Apparently, the powder is supposed to balance the acidity in the body and make it more alkaline. It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth it when I discovered that this powder worked. The name of what I take is called Green Superfood, and it’s made by a company called Amazing Grass, runs for about $28 in the health food store for a 30-serving supply. One tiny scoop mixed with water looks pretty gross but the flavor really isn’t bad. I drink that if I tend to be consuming too much acidic food or drink and have noticed a huge difference in the aches.

Beating Fibromyalgia and CFS, Allergy Tests – Part 2

Sometime around 2002 someone finally convinced me to get tested for allergies. Thankfully, I had insurance so the visits and tests were covered. I discovered through an allergist that I was allergic to grass, ragweed, pine, and milk. The pine allergy would definitely explain much of the misery I felt in 1997-1999 because I lived in northern Florida in the middle of a pine forest! As I had stated in my last blog, this is when the joint popping and cracking issues began.

Basically, I could do nothing about the environmental pollens because they surrounded me. I was given various allergy medications, such as Claritin D, which helped relieve stuffiness and post nasal drip, but did not fix my issues with the aches. Being sensitive to medications, I noticed I started feeling “loopy” (although some people might agree that is just my natural state, lol) after taking it. I felt as if I had the flu about 5 days out of each week. I was completely and totally miserable and hopeless. Exercise seemed to do nothing to help with any of the symptoms either, however, I also noticed a huge correlation between the allergies, the amount of sunlight I received, and the fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Being a Florida girl, I grew up on the beach and the times when I did not get enough sunlight I noticed a difference in the way I felt. There were certain times when I would go for days without going out into the sun for at least 20 minutes, and I noticed if I did not go out at least every other day, by the third day I started feeling ill again. Anytime it rained, which is inevitable in a hurricane-fixated state, I could feel a huge amount of pressure in my joints.

I was eating better than before, but still not that well. Cutting milk out of my diet helped with phlegm and digestion issues, but I had a habit of eating bagels and cream cheese for breakfast or donuts because it was easy to make and I had a 45-minute drive to work every day. My diet consisted of that of the average working American, and we all know what that means.

Eventually, I decided to move to a more tropical area that wasn’t laden with trees and grass, which was a huge help on the environmental allergies. It really did make a difference, and I also started chiropractic care. The combination helped, but I was unaware that I had developed more food allergies over the years. In 2007, I had another series of tests and found out I was still allergic to all of the prior tested things, in addition to cedar and (of all things!) corn! (See blog about corn allergy here.) Corn was just about in everything in my diet, which meant having to completely change the way I was eating. That meant no more fast food, and it also meant that most things packaged in a box, can, or bag were also off the list. Even the things I thought were healthful contained corn ingredients of some form or another. I started feeling relief as soon as I cut those things out of my diet, and I could tell immediately when I ate or drank something that had a corn ingredient in it.

Unfortunately, I had to move away from the tropical area and back to the grass and trees. At least I knew what made me feel yucky and I am still learning to control it.

About two years after the corn allergy was discovered, I started to feel as if I were eating something else that wasn’t being nice to my system. I went back to an allergist and discovered through more tests that I now had an egg allergy. I had been eating eggs for breakfast almost daily! It was disappointing, to say the least, but cutting eggs out of my diet really has made a difference with the digestive issues and muscle aches I’d been having. Substitutions for eggs were a challenge as well.

Since all of these food allergy discoveries, I would say that it piqued a newfound interest in learning how to eat right. In my next blog, I will discuss in what ways I am educating myself on proper eating habits.

Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Part I

Shortly after my twenty-first birthday, I started noticing that I wasn’t feeling well most of the time. After visiting the doctor and coming back with normal blood work results, I was relieved that nothing “bad” showed up, but at the same time I was also disappointed that there was no explanation for my symptoms. The doctor I was seeing at the time diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disorder that I hadn’t ever heard until then and knew nothing about. At the time, there was no internet access or much written information on the topic, but I did manage to find others that had the same problem. The more I learned about this incurable, debilitating disease, the more convinced I was that the doctor was wrong in his diagnosis. Since there was no exact way to test for this ailment, I convinced myself I didn’t have it. In my mind, I told myself there is no way in hell I’m going to give my life to this horrific disease.

Some time during some earlier college years I visited the doctor that had known me since I was born. (His office visits were only $30!) I kept having throat problems with swelling and chronic bronchitis. He shot me up with some sort of steroid, and I found immediate relief with the swelling issues. He suggested that I probably had allergies and suggested that I quit smoking (yes, I used to have that nasty habit!). At the time I had no health insurance so I wasn’t able to get the necessary testing done, but I did quit smoking for good. Shortly afterwards, I moved away to attend a university; in the meantime, my old doctor retired.

Fast forward about five years later. I was a full-time college student and single mom, and I regularly worked out at either the school’s gym or at home. One day at home I was lifting light weights with my arms. As I lifted one arm, I heard a snap that sounded much like my shoulder came out of its socket. It hurt but not bad enough to see a doctor, so I figured I’d just pulled a muscle. But the unexplained snapping and popping continued with each and every joint in my body, along with flu-like muscle aches and hasn’t stopped since 1997. Several doctor’s visits over a few years without any results, I finally had somewhat of an answer three years later.

Another highly controversial syndrome among the field of medicine, fibromyalgia was my next diagnosis. The only problem that I found was that even though the known “pressure points” of fibromyalgia were supposed to be painful to touch on the person, for me it brought relief. Again, I was not sure that I was properly diagnosed, but it was something that I could work with as far as the treatment went. By then, the internet was becoming popular and it was easy for me to find information on the topic.

Massage was a huge relief for the muscle aches. I’d been seeing an excellent but pricey massage therapist who later told me she took insurance. When I learned she accepted my insurance and to find out more about it, I immediately contacted my insurance company and was told that massage is covered if written by a physician as a prescription. I was thrilled! I immediately went to my doctor (who had been trying to put me on pills that I refused to take) and told him of the great news about massage therapy with my insurance company. But he refused to write the prescription! He wanted to shoot me up with cortisone shots and give me more prescriptions. He told me that massage is only a temporary relief, that it may last only about a week and was a waste of time. I was furious with him because we obviously did not see eye to eye when it came to holistic healing vs meds that harm the body (not to mention that they are also a temporary relief and not a cure-all). So I marched out of his office and found a new doctor that believed in massage therapy.

That was just the beginning of beating fibromyalgia.

Today I still have the same muscle aches and joint popping and cracking without any explanation for it whatsoever. I have found ways that relieve these issues, however, and I have noticed what makes them worse. I am also convinced that all of these symptoms are related to allergies and stress.

Backtrack to around my twenty-first birthday. Stress was an understatement of how to describe my life at the time. I was a new mom, going through a divorce, and working full time. My body was still adjusting to the birth of my daughter and my diet consisted of mostly microwavable foods – many with starches and sugars that I now know contributed to many of the health-related problems I was facing. To top it off, I was a smoker.

Go You Chicken Fat, Go Away! (Please Get Out of My Head!)

The strangest things have been happening lately with songs popping into my head at random times. Although most may not find this unusual, it’s unusual to me because these songs are ones I haven’t heard in years.

For instance, this morning I woke up with a song in my head from the fourth grade. Our quad of teachers made students do exercises each morning in order to get us (or them) fit. The tune was “Chicken Fat/The Youth Fitness Song” and it’s one that once heard, you will never, ever forget.

I found that someone had put this song on Youtube. I wasn’t aware of the history of this song. According to WFMU:


The song was commissioned by John Kennedy for his new Youth Fitness Program. A copy of this record was sent to every school in the U.S. with the idea that it would be played over the P.A. every morning while students did calisthenics.

I recall participating in these morning exercises (begrudgingly) and watching all of the other miserable faces following along. For some reason it only lasted a few weeks or so and we stopped doing it – probably a complaint to the administration put a quit halt to it.

So why was this song in my head when I woke up this morning? Was it the Universe telling me I needed to get out of bed and make that chicken fat go away? Or is it because “Chicken Fat” is one of those songs that no matter how many years down the road you will never, ever forget it?

Less Allergies in Hawaii? Not.

OrangeBloss_wbI don’t understand why people think that when you move to certain areas you have less allergy problems. It depends on what you’re allergic to. I just had more tests completed and a new list has arisen, in addition to my old ones:

*oranges
*mustard
*brewer’s yeast (goodbye, beer!)
*molds
*dust mites
*weeds
*mesquite
*eucalyptus (tree, not sure if it’s the same as the plant)
*cats & dogs (no, I will not be giving up my babies)

On a scale of 1 to 5, each of these rated as a 1, the lowest. So it’s more like a 20% allergic reaction. A combination of these things increases it.

The orange allergy explains why my face keeps breaking out. I recently purchased a new line of skin care from Avalon Organics – all include orange. I loved the way it made my face feel at the beginning, but after a week or so my face was breaking out big time. When I applied lotion to my neck I itched until I wiped it off.

Dust mites is something that never showed up on other allergy tests, either. However, I’ve always had a suspicion, because when I’m in a dusty area my face and nose itch. Of course it doesn’t help that Idiot Neighbor is creating more dust.

As far as the cat and dog allergy, the doctor said that frequent vacuuming and laundering will help that.

So between the noise pollution, the new allergies, and the stress of moving in general, I’ve been pretty miserable the entire time here. This is not what I consider paradise.

Goodbye, Cruel World – Sayonara, Facebook (sucks)!

0278615_facebook_sucks_xlargeI gave up on Facebook again. While it’s a great way to keep in touch with people, it’s also a gateway of how people think, most of which I don’t care to know. People that I really want to keep in touch with have my phone number or email address, and for me that’s enough.

The issues of gun control and gay rights in the United States is a big one, but it seems to be an even bigger one to people on the mainland. I don’t hear anyone in Hawaii discussing it, nor do I see anyone posting anything about it on Facebook. (Except for my idiot neighbor, it’s a fairly peaceful island – even with half of the population being military.) Hawaiians seem to be a lot more accepting than mainlanders.

I’m sure many of you can relate to this – you log on to Facebook and have to scroll to find anything decent to read or look at. Lately, I’ve been experiencing ads for things I don’t like on my iphone when I view Facebook. And no matter how I put my settings, they magically manage to change on their own. Half of everything people are posting from the mainland is negative, and most of the time they have no knowledge of anything they are talking about or posting about. Nothing is based on facts, just opinions from Fox News and nut balls like Alex Jones. If one of them told their fans the sky was falling, they’d post it and believe it. So sad.

I decided Facebook wasn’t a very great place for networking or promoting my work anyway, so I left. And I haven’t missed it a bit.

(*On a side note, if I were still using Facebook, I would become a fan of this page.)

$2400/mo for Rent in Hawaii + Bad Neighbor = Insanity

I’ve been putting off blogging a lot, because I’ve been sick since we arrived in Hawaii. The fibromyalgia that I finally had under control is back in full force. I believe part of the reason I’ve been sick is due to the noise pollution we’ve been dealing with, thanks to our neighbor.

First, let me fill you in on trying to rent a place in Hawaii. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to return phone calls or accept pets, so when we found this place we thought we got lucky. We weren’t expecting to spend $2400/mo on a place, but that’s the going rent here if you don’t want to live in a dump or a 2×4’ room. The house is located within a homeowner’s association, which has typical rules. One is that dog’s can’t bark for more than 10 minutes at a time. So we were really surprised that our neighbor has gotten away with this racket. (*I have to note here that homes are extremely close together – as close as 8 feet apart.)

For the first few days after we moved in, things seemed quiet. Our neighbor supposedly has a “hobby” of fixing up old cars. We didn’t realize until we saw multiple vehicles in and out of the place that this “hobby” has become a 5 to 7 day-a-week ordeal, starting around 7am and ending at dinnertime. It has gone on for months, even after our first complaint (remember when I said no one is in a hurry here?). Grinding, sanding, cutting metal, and whatever else auto body people do is all we hear all day. I have been unable to study, read, write, or listen to Coursera videos for the courses I am taking. When my husband was home sick from work and could not hear the television, that is when he knew I wasn’t making things up or exaggerating. When I sent my friends this video, I think they finally understood why I was about to lose my mind.

We’ve seen this neighbor in confrontations, so we did not want to go directly to him with our complaint. Besides, I didn’t think it would help us if we said something to him and then went to someone in charge – he’d know for sure who turned him in. So I told our property manager what was going on, and when I showed her the video, she couldn’t believe it. I’m sure it was obvious who reported him, because we are the new people on the block. The HOA sent him a letter threatening to fine him, but the noise continues.

The worst day was when I awoke to paint fumes in the house. Not only are they incredibly toxic to us, but to the environment. (No wonder there are hardly any birds around!) The paint fumes have gotten better, but the sanding dust is in our house, and we did not realize that until we did a deep cleaning. I realized then that all of that dust (we keep our windows open) was gathering on my pillow. I’d noticed that every time I washed the sheets I could breathe better, but within a day or so, I had issues again. The sanding dust is caked against my walls and window ledges to the point that it has stained the paint. The only hope we have is for this guy to stop being so inconsiderate, or we’re going to have to move.

Holidays in Hawaii

I’m not a pork eater, so the tradition of savoring Kalua pig roasted in an imu on Thanksgiving did not appeal to me.  We brought our own tradition with us and cooked a meal with some family and friends for the day. One of the things we are used to on Thanksgiving is eating around 2pm, but in Hawaii it’s mostly done around dinnertime.

Christmas in Hawaii is much different than it is on the Mainland. I didn’t notice as many in-your-face “buy, buy, buy” ads, and no one was really in a hurry to buy anything. Black Friday happened, but nothing like everyone on the Mainland is used to. I didn’t experience the selfishness among the people in Hawaii as I was used to in the rest of the United States. It was a nice change of pace.

Where I come from, people begin decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend or right after that. We expected the entire island would be lit up with holiday lights. But that was not so. Except for large businesses in Waikiki and some churches and homes, there were very few places lit up. We realized quickly that it’s not because Hawaiians don’t celebrate Christmas; it’s that the price of electricity is so ridiculous in Hawaii that putting up a lot of lights or anything extra that requires power isn’t exactly cost efficient.

To give a price comparison, our home in Florida with running the air conditioning (and washer/dryer/etc.) all summer long, our electric bill averaged $175 at the highest month. In Hawaii, however, running the air conditioning a few nights in August for 23 days cost us $200. We learned quickly not to run the a/c – period. Still, every bill we received was $200 for the month. When we discussed decorating for Christmas, we decided to sell our pre-lit tree and outdoor lights and opt for something much wiser – a rosemary bush – because I could use it to cook with year-round.

Decorations at a church
How Santa gets to the island.

 

This yard had the most decorations in the area.

 

On a main highway

 

What Christmas Tree Shortage? http://news.hawaiibreakingnews.com/tweets/273456662977867777

 

All-American

 

The most affordable Christmas tree in Hawaii

 

 

First impressions during the first week in Hawaii

I’ve been a little behind on blogging these last few weeks, because I’ve been ill most of the time. 😦

These were my first impressions of Oahu while I still exhausted from jetlag. I was completely overwhelmed, because we had no permanent place to live and no jobs past a certain date. (For those new to this blog, we were temporarily staying with friends and still employed until my husband’s official retirement date.)

IMG_1614

1. Naturally, the airport was the first thing I saw when we landed. The view of the sunset past the runway from the plane’s window was gorgeous. I was surprised, however, that Honolulu International Airport was so outdated. Everything seemed to be from the 70s or 80s and very dull.

2. Since we arrived in Honolulu right at sunset, it was dark by the time we got off the plane. I didn’t get to see the island until the following day. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we learned we had been staying on the dry part of the island. Everything was brown. It was a shock, considering when most people think of Hawaii, they think of lush green grass and tropical flowers everywhere. I thought it resembled more of the desert in the Southwest than the beauty I was hoping to see. This was my first view of daylight on Oahu.

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3. I did manage to witness blooming white plumeria flowers, which was a first for me. Their scent was fantastic, but I think possibly a little too much for my allergies. What a shame! Also I noticed many blooming hibiscus flowers, one of the many plants I was unsuccessfully able to grow in my home state (see below).

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4. Traffic is a huge issue in Hawaii, especially in the Ewa Beach or Kapolei area. It takes forever to get anywhere, but on the positive note, people drive “aloha style”. Unlike the drivers in Florida, everyone lets everyone in and there is no road rage. There weren’t horns honking or people screaming at each other. It was a strange, quiet hum and politeness that held a different vibe than what us mainlanders are used to.

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5. We’d been house hunting for several months prior to our arrival. This is not an exaggeration – but out of about 50 phone calls inquiring about renting, we had about five calls returned. It was quite frustrating to wait around and not hear a thing, especially when we really liked a place.

For the next two days, we drove around Ewa Beach and Kapolei looking for places to rent. Everything looked the same to me and felt crowded. Anything that wasn’t a complete dump was $2000 a month minimum and relatively small. Most places had limited parking for renters and guests, and very few places were pet friendly. This posed a huge problem for us, because there was no way in hell we were going to get rid of our furry family members.

By this time, I knew my immune system was taking a tumble. I was tired of driving in circles and looking at places I wouldn’t want to live. The spicy green curry I had for lunch wasn’t settling nicely, so our renting hunt was over for the next few days. It turned out I had a stomach flu that was comparable to food poisoning, but the sensitive stomach effects lasted for a few weeks. I later determined that so far, I wasn’t “stomaching” this place. Yet.

Moving to Hawaii – a dream come true

I guess you could say that the last year of my life has been one huge transition – and it hasn’t ended yet. Last year my husband decided that he wanted to retire this year – in Hawaii. When he asked what I thought about it, I said, “In your dreams.”

But he was serious. He’d lived in Hawaii as a child, and it was his dream to retire there. It sounded like a dream to me, too, because it was a place I’d always wanted to visit.

Me being the sensible one, I asked my husband how could we possibly make this happen? We’d have to sell our home in Florida during such a bad market and come out with money to move – not just to another state – but to the other side of the world! He said we could put the house on the market and see what happens. We put our good thoughts into everything and little by little, things slowly fell into place. We sold the house, vehicles, and had two garage sales. Nine months later, our plan was in motion.

Getting to Hawaii wasn’t quite as easy as that, however. We had pets, and each had to be microchipped and tested for the rabies FAVN virus, which took 120 days prior to arriving on the island without them having to be quarantined. Their records had to be impeccable, so finding a veterinarian that knew what she was doing was a big plus. Airfare isn’t cheap for pets, and neither are the airline-approved crates. There are many other factors involved in shipping your pets to Hawaii, but I will go into that on another day.

We kept one car that had to be shipped, so we were left without transportation for a period of time. We needed to pack everything we would need for at least a month, because our household goods wouldn’t arrive for up to 8 weeks.

Luckily for us, we already knew people on the island. Our friends had a spare bedroom and allowed us to stay with them as long as we needed until we found our own place. This was extremely helpful, as hotels in Hawaii are not for the budget-minded or pet lovers.

Everything was set to go. Our dreams were coming true.

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Landing in Honolulu at sunset

NPR’s 3-Minute Fiction Contest – Rejection #2

Every time NPR has a 3-Minute Fiction contest I do my best to enter.  Before I got lucky and was selected for my story to appear on their website, this was one of my rejections. The story had to begin with “Some people swore that the house was haunted.” And it had to end with “Nothing was ever the same again after that.” – 600 words or less.

The House on the Water
by Susanna Hartigan
©2010

Some people swore that the house was haunted. The houseboat sat barely afloat on the Florida waters for almost seven years, leaving a mystery of several theories about its history. An old man who resembled a pirate got drunk and fell overboard, drowned by his own negligence. A serial killer abandoned it after having used it as a source of a kill site. Drug lords were executed on it when they didn’t meet their quota, their remains used as bait. A man killed his family on it before taking off into the Atlantic never to be seen again. No one really knew the story about the house on the water.

Many of the small town’s residents were quiet, distant ancestors of the Salem witch trials. They knew that hauntings were real-life occurrences, not just some fictional ghost stories. They knew that water was a great conductor of those from the otherworld and since the surrounding land contained a bed of limestone, there was a great possibility that the houseboat was in fact haunted. And they knew that the best option was to allow whatever paranormal that might occupy it to remain at rest. But there was one woman determined to be rid of the demons encircling it.

“It’s the town menace,” scowled Chatty Patty, nicknamed for being the town’s gossip and outspoken nuisance. “I want it gone. The Lord does not want evil spirits filthing up our community.”

Chatty Patty was known for exercising the demons out of everything, including food from the local health food store that happened to be owned by a pagan. People went out of their way in order to avoid the henpecker and her incessant ranting and insistence that Satan lived among the town. Although the town loathed the middle-aged woman’s presence, Patty was someone who would bring assistance to a family in need.

“Just because they are witches doesn’t mean that the Lord Jesus can’t change their ways through my influence,” she was heard saying one day at the library. Patty considered anyone a witch if they celebrated Halloween, including her own church members.

Despite her overbearing influence, Chatty Patty’s effort to get the houseboat removed from the Mosquito Lagoon was unsuccessful. The town’s mayor told her it wasn’t in the budget.  Her frequent trips to the police department went unheeded. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Not our jurisdiction,” she was told.

“We don’t handle boat removal. You’ll have to call a tow company,” the Coast Guard station informed her.

“Fine,” Patty informed the town. “Then I am going to be rid of this evil presence once and for all, even if I have to do it myself.”

For Patty, the disposal of the boat was a simple recipe: a canoe, Holy Bible verses, holy water, and olive oil. She would use the canoe to transport herself to the house on the water, drenching it in holy water upon her arrival. She would read all of the appropriate verses that were intended to strike any remaining form of immorality, as she doused the house on the water in olive oil. Patty told the townspeople of her plan. No one objected. Some were glad it would be the last time they would have to hear Chatty Patty complain about it ever again.

Patty set out to perform her duty the night before Halloween, knowing that it would deter from bringing more demonic influences to her town on such a blasphemous date.

Halloween arrived. The house on the water had disappeared. A canoe took its place. Nothing was ever the same again after that.

Political Differences, Breakups, and Crotches

Normally, I don’t talk politics because it’s just like talking religion. I have friends from all walks of life, and this year’s election has brought out a lot of things I didn’t know about people. I was surprised to hear when two of my friends announced that they were getting divorced over politics. He’s a die-hard Romney fan and she’s somewhat of a women’s rights activist.

“I cannot live with a man that doesn’t believe in my rights, much less be married to him,” she told me. I must admit that I would probably feel the same way in a marriage like theirs.

Earlier this week one of my favorite gay friends announced that he deleted all of his Facebook friends that are Romney supporters.

“If they support Romney, then they don’t support my lifestyle. Therefore they are not my friends,” he wrote.

I don’t blame him. Being the sister of a gay man, I cringe when I see someone posting something negative about homosexuals, because they are hurting a part of me that I dearly love.

I’ve seen dozens of political posts from friends that I’ve ignored. Out of respect, I don’t feel it’s my place to comment on someone else’s page if they have a preference different from my own – just as I wouldn’t want them to litter up my page with their garbage.

And then I had my own experience of being politically abolished. After receiving my ballot and frustrated over propositions concerning women, I posted on my Facebook fan site:

Dear Republicans,
Please stay out of my crotch.

Someone that I’d never heard of before (whose Facebook page was littered with pro-Romney links) – that had neither ever commented nor even “liked” any of my non-political posts (read: all of them except for this one) – stated that I had just lost a fan, and she began bad-mouthing me. Long-time fans came to my defense. I simply blocked her. Anyone that has read my book(s) knows damn well that I’m not going to allow anyone to tell me how I should feel, act, speak, or think (after all, my Facebook page is SusannaSpeaks!!). While I appreciate and respect other people’s opinions, I found it tacky that someone would make an effort to stir up negativity rather than silently remove herself. But it showed her true character.

So I will say it now. I support gay rights. I support women’s rights. If you want to act like a third grader and don’t want to be my “fan” anymore because of how I feel, then so be it. I’m looking for those that celebrate, not hate.

Overheard Conversations Make Me Laugh Out Loud (or Cringe!)

I often sit in public places and take notes for writing. Here are some of my most recent:

Little girl: Look! Three boys and three girls! It’s equal!
Father: No, it’s not equal. The boys are bigger.

Teenage Girl: Stupid cops! They gave me another ticket! Said my tag was expired.
Teenage Boy: When did it expire?
Teenage Girl: Like two months ago. But they already knew that when I got pulled over last month for speeding. They should have given me a chance!

Middle-aged Woman on cell phone: Don’t you love being retired? I’ll have to teach you the retirement dance!

Father: You’re paying? You brought your wallet? Does it have money in it?
Teen Son: I have money and a library card.
Father: When you open it, do moths come flying out?

Little Boy at beach (points to woman wearing black bra-style bikini) says to his mother: Is that a bra?

Ancient Aliens – History Channel Series Worth a Watch

Some friends suggested watching this series on Netflix. It was downloadable for free, which is always a good thing! I am open to the fact that alien life is possible and probable, and I’ve always had an interest in archeology.

The series delves into actual written history, religion, and the mysteries of the earth. Some of the footage is amazing – the man made caves, underwater cities, and unearthed cities such as Karahan Tepe. What amazes me about this is that our history books and classes do not teach us about most of these findings.

The series gives quite a different perspective about angels, gods, and all of those things from the sky that come from light, suggesting that what people were seeing were UFO’s and beings from other planets. It also suggests that ancient humans were helped by alien technology – hence the pyramids, Stonehenge, megalithic stone circles, and other monuments that even modern technology would have difficulty building. The show theorizes that ancient flying machines were far more advanced than our current jets and planes.

History Channel’s Ancient Aliens
http://www.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens


Karahan Tepe photos
http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/offbeat-news/mystery-deliberate-burial-ancient-megalithic-stone-circles/9949


Japan’s underwater pyramid
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070919-sunken-city.html


Ancient archeology
http://www.altarcheologie.nl/

Wishful Thinking – Coffee and Chocolate for Breakfast

I was having a hormonal moment this morning. Remembering that I had chocolate cake in the freezer, I thought about how great it would taste with a cup of coffee. It’s been forever since I’ve eaten an unhealthy breakfast, but today I needed that comfort food.

Smiling from ear to ear, I open the freezer, and pull out Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake (just found it in the store the other day, I’ve never tried it). I’m all excited about eating cake, which is something I never eat because of the contents. Anyway… I look at the cooking directions… and it says: “Thaw cake in refrigerator for 2 and a half hours”.

My dreams were shattered. How badly I wanted this chocolate cake with my cup of coffee this morning. I guess I will have to wait until lunch.

Book Review: Aleph by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite authors. The Alchemist was the first book I read by the author, and I enjoyed a few others as well.

I had ordered his newest book, Aleph, in August, so I was thrilled when it finally arrived at my doorstep. Like Coelho’s other books, Aleph is a spiritual journey. It was much like The Alchemist, but as an older man (and not a sequel). The added magic and fantasy to the story made it a little different, but Coelho claims that this is a nonfiction book. However, Aleph is listed as fiction, which makes the reader wonder which parts are true.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If you are a Coelho fan like me, you probably have higher expectations and might be slightly disappointed that Aleph is so similar to The Alchemist.

Why I Love NPR More Than My Local News

Each morning with my cup of coffee, I generally read the local news. But not for long. I scan it for anything that may pique my interest, which usually isn’t much. For example, today’s local news involves: a man that punched a woman in the face at a bar, an ATM scanning scam, a hit-and-run case, and an abundance of other crime stories. It seems that most local news, no matter where you go, is the same shit, different city. And that is why I like NPR.

I don’t remember how I began listening to National Public Radio exactly, but I believe it happened when I was driving and wanted to hear something soothing. I don’t recall if NPR was either playing classical music or a show that interested me further. All I know is that I love NPR and the variety that it brings. Best of all, they don’t just put all of the “bad stuff” on their main page; they have the arts and other insightful newsworthy articles easily accessible and more prominent than I tend to find in local newspapers. Plus, many of the articles are aired and archived to listen if a show is missed.

Today I read a really cute and funny story written by a woman who played truth or dare when she was a kid and the trouble it got her into. Now this is a story that I’m sure everyone can relate to. Then I listened to stories about John Audubon’s first commercial illustration and Japanese micro houses. And I wouldn’t dare fail to mention round 9 of NPR’s 3-Minute-Fiction contest. Woo-hoo!

Besides mornings, my favorite time to listen to NPR is on weekends. Comedy shows like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, food shows like Kitchen Window, and history shows like Florida Frontiers make for a great Sunday afternoon lying in the hammock, watching the birds in the back yard, and listening to NPR. (Ten years ago, no one would ever hear me say nor write this!)

I can read and listen to NPR all day and not have to see or hear one more thing about the oil spill, the economic crisis, politics, or Sarah Palin’s crappy fake vocabulary. As does everyone, I choose to see and hear what I want. These are the stories I like: lighthearted, cup-of-coffee, intelligent, informative, interesting, and well… out of the ordinary. Perhaps if more people thought this way and refused to continue allowing all of that negative earth shattering crap pushed out of their televisions, radios and online sources everyday, the world might just be a little happier.