My New Family… The Barnes & Noble Book Event

I can’t lie, I have fantastic parents. They have grown so much in their views on mental illness. From telling me to keep my mouth shut to being proud about how open and honest I am with my suffering. I have a great husband, whom I chose. He is truly my best friend. He has seen the worst in me and the best and has always stood by me. My daughter is amazing, an old compassionate soul. A kind loving artistic creature and a huge support for me, her mom.

With their support, there has also been some great disappointment with other family members. Since I do not want to upset anyone, I am going to leave them alone and respect them for who they are even if they aren’t very supportive.

They say blood is thicker than water, but I do not believe that. There are plenty of people I know who are adopted or have been adopted and have terrific relationships with their adoptive families. There are many I know that chose friendships over their blood because their blood is just toxic.

I am lucky because I get to have a mix of both. Something a lot of people do not have.

I first ‘adopted’ my oldest and dearest friend ‘J’ as my younger sister. We met when she was 4 and I was 6. For the next few years we had many playdates that included dolls, dollhouses and Lego. Even though there were some years where we were apart, we rekindled our strong friendship and have since been in each other’s weddings and have supported each other with our children. I consider her 3 kids like my own, even though I haven’t met her youngest yet. We try to see each other every year although sometimes it goes longer. And you know what, we pick up conversation as if time hasn’t passed.

Recently, I am choosing to ‘adopt’ more siblings into my tight-knit family.

We all first met online. I know, creepy, right?! You never know who is really behind the online person. We were joined together by who we call our Supreme Leader… CEO and founder of both Stigma Fighters and our publishing company, Eliezer Tristan Publishing. I first met the Supreme Leader through Stigma Fighters as I am a frequent contributor… usually at least twice a year. We met in person at a reading in NYC at the NYU bookstore (wow, that is a lot of letters!) a few years back. What an amazing woman!. I totally love and admire her.

Well, she created this publishing company and was seeking authors who wanted to publish their books. Um, hi, hello, me! I jumped at the opportunity. And hence Rising From the Ashes, the book, was born on October 23, 2018. It is a collection of many of my blog posts here from its birth over 4 years ago until the summer of 2018.

Because of this book, I have met some great people. These people are my family now, including our Supreme Leader.

It all started one day a few months back with a text from the Supreme Leader, “Can you do a book signing in CT on May 17th?” Well, hell yeah I can! She proceeded to tell me that a few other local ETP (Eliezer Tristan Publishing) authors would be there as well. Awesome! I’ve read quite a few of their books and was ecstatic to meet them in person. Well, it got closer to the event, like May 13th closer, when the Supreme Leader didn’t know if she could make it. Usually flying standby, there were no available standby seats.

Panic commenced between the rest of us. We can’t do this without her! It was as if the sky was falling and we were Henny Penny. A group chat was started between us authors to try to raise money for our Supreme Leader and her 2 children, the Little Supremes, to get her here in CT for this event. This chat started out as the “I’m confused” chat because, frankly, we were all very very confused with the situation.

With some begging, a decent donation from myself, and pure luck, we were able to fly the Supreme Leader here. Sadly, one of our fellow authors remained back in Oregon to watch the Little Supremes. This author was my cover designer as well.

Well, in the mass confusion of whether or not our Supreme Leader would make it, Sarcastic Asshole (author of 100) was in a bit of a panic on where he was going to stay the evening of the 16th. Him and the Leader were supposed to be sharing an Airbnb. He was going to back out of coming. Well, I couldn’t have that… no Supreme Leader and no Sarcastic Asshole! No way. I invited Sarcastic Asshole to stay with me.

We had never physically met before. (Insert my mother panicking right now)

So after some mass confusion of which Union Station in CT he was coming into (Yes, we have more than one) and an Uber ride, Sarcastic Asshole landed on my doorstep. Honestly, it was like we were old friends. Conversation was easy with him. We were both very sarcastic people, and some of the oldies of the group of authors. He did think I was going to kill him though as he found my list of what not to do when committing a crime (expect that follow up blog post soon, see the first one here) and quickly took a swig from his bottle of Fireball. But all was well the next morning as we continued our sarcastic banter.

It was time to pick up Young Possum at the train station. After confirming which Union Station we were going to, Sarcastic Asshole and I popped in my car for what would be a fast trip up to Hartford… hahaha. Fast trip on a Friday?! No, CT believes that rush hour starts at 3pm on that day. It took some time but we made it there just in time as Young Possum exited the train station. Now Sarcastic Asshole, of course, started to be a sarcastic asshole with Young Possum but it was all in good fun.

We arrived in West Hartford and was quickly met by Lucky Rabbit’s Foot, her husband, best friend and the cutest toddler you have ever seen. Rabbit was the editor on my book. I admire her so much. What she has gone through and she always seems to have such a cheery positive disposition. Honestly, everyone from this event has gone through so much… so much that some of them shouldn’t physically be here. But that is their stories to tell.

Soon after, Corpse Bride and her mother arrived. I could tell she would fit in perfectly on the sarcasm meter.

But where was our Supreme Leader?!

As the event commencement time was approaching, again, all of us began to panic. What the heck were we going to do without her?! Our anxieties were quelled when she literally popped up in the room.

It’s funny though. If you had attended the event, you would never know that we all had met in person that night. Conversation flowed between us. We read from our books, clapped for each other and had a great panel discussion with the representative from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

I was saddened to see the night end. The drive back from West Hartford to my home was a depressed one for this depressive. I missed my new family greatly. None of us knew when another ETP event might happen. The thought of meeting these great people, brought together by mental illness, and not seeing or hearing from them for who knows how long overwhelmed me with sadness.

This sadness quickly dissipated as our private messaging has continued. I have totally ‘adopted’ all of them. They are not only friends. Each one of them… Supreme Leader, Sarcastic Asshole, Young Possum, Corpse Bride & Lucky Rabbit’s Foot, are now close family.

Totally looking forward to our next family event!

I believe it involves breaking things…


Note: I have used nicknames that we have given each other through our messaging and time together. If you would like to know, my given nickname is How To Get Away With Murder because of the above mentioned list and my true crime obsession. They can call themselves out, but I would like to keep their privacy if they do not want to.

And because I love them, I would like to promote their books (which kind of gives away their names):

100

In The Gray Area of Being Suicidal

Nobody

Stigma Fighters Anthology IV 

Untranslatable

Redeeming The Anti-Fairytale

And although my cover designer couldn’t be there, his book:

Cultural Savage: The Intersection of Christianity and Mental Illness

You will not be disappointed!

The Reality of Being a Shorty

I’m not going to lie, I’m short. I was never the tallest in class growing up and through the years, I slowly moved towards the front of the line (the short side) in height. Genetics were not in my favor. My mother is a shorty too. My father is not tall. I guess I should have known what to expect.

When I was school-aged, I watched my older sister grow up and admired her final height of 5′-7″ (although I am not sure where she got it from?!). Those recessive genes became my biggest desire. I would compare my stature to all of my friends and get disappointed as each one surpassed me in height. In 7th grade when my ‘special friend’ came to visit, I thought “This is it! Now is my time!” Every morning I would wake up and look in the mirror. I looked taller. I felt taller. I mean my body was maturing in many other ways so why not height, right?!

And then I went for my yearly physical to only be disappointed. “You grew 1 inch.”

What?! Wait a minute?! I got my period so shouldn’t I be going through some sort of growth spurt?!

Height was never meant to be part of me.

After many years of complaining to my parents about my height, how it was their fault I was such a shorty, I finally gave up. What was the point? Complaining wasn’t going to make me taller. I arrived at my final height of 5′-1 1/2″ at 16 and remained there until I hit 30. It has only been downhill since then. At my latest physical (age 39) I only measured 5′-0 1/4″. Don’t ask me how I shrunk 1 1/4″ already. I am a bit shocked myself.

Being a shorty has its pros and cons. Not going to lie, it does suck most of the time.

The Cons

  • I am constantly getting neck aches from looking up at tall people. At home, I am currently the shortest. My husband is over a foot taller than me and my pre-teen (almost teen – EEK!) daughter surpassed me about a year ago.  At work it seems as if every person there is ten times my height. Not only do I look up all the time, I take 4-5 steps back. At my in-laws I am the shortest as well. For once it would be nice to be taller than someone.
  • Clothes… not sure who created Petite sizes but it wasn’t a short person. According to most fashion lines, Petites is for those 5′-4″ or under. Basically, no matter if I buy Petites or Misses, I am hemming my pants. It is a good thing I come from a long line of women who sew. I have gotten really good with a needle and a sewing machine.
  • But pants are not the only item that there are issues. Tops are usually too long and well, you can’t hem a top that has writing on it. You might hem part of the inspirational quote off and be left with “Strong As A…” (wait a minute, I am sure the word ‘Mother’ was there before…).
  • Then there is the kitchen. I have gotten very used to climbing on top of the counters and praying there is no food on them when I do. It just seems that everything I need is on the top shelf of the upper cabinets. Why do you ask? Because my husband is selfish when it comes to the kitchen. He puts what he needs on the other two shelves of the upper cabinets because that is his eye level and my stuff winds up in the heavens of the top shelf. He does this with the fridge too. For now I am mobile and in shape enough to climb the counters but what happens when I am 80?!
  • Cars. We are a 2 car household and we never share because of our height differences. We would constantly bitch when we would need to share our cars. My husband’s car is set for a tall person: seat all the way back and low. My car is set for a short person: seat all the way up front and high that you wonder how a person can fit in the car to drive. Driving to Florida in one car this past October was a nightmare.
  • The aisles of the grocery store are fun as well. The product I need is always, ALWAYS, on the top shelf. And half the time, in the back on the top shelf because supply has run out. If you see a woman scaling the racks in  your store, it is most likely me, Spider Woman. I climb the metal racks, the freezer racks, any and all of the ones I need to reach. I don’t care if I get yelled at by employees. Hey, if the shelf isn’t full and the item is on top, that isn’t my fault. And yes, I know of liability. Just make sure the shelves are built correctly. I am sure they can hold my petite shortiness.
  • I look young. I look so young and being short just aides in how young I look. I have never looked as old as I am. Some see this as a good thing, but honestly, it hasn’t been. When I had my daughter at 26 I was often mistaken for a teen mom. I saw the dirty looks I got from people in the mall as I walked around with my daughter in a stroller. Even now, many think I am 29 instead of 39. I remind people I have a 12 year old child but it doesn’t help. Embarrassingly, I can fit into kid clothing. Couldn’t you just picture me wearing clothes from Justice?! The worst part of being short and being mistaken for someone younger is I have never ever felt like a real adult. Sure, I am a loving wife and mother and am an adult in that sense but when I dress or wear makeup, I feel like a little girl playing house. In prior employments I was never taken seriously because I was the short little girl. I’ve been viewed this way so often that I see myself as that.
  • You become someone’s arm rest. Everyone thinks that since the top of your head is available that it is an invite for their elbow or arm. Let me just say this… no, my head is not your armrest. Do not stick it there or I will smack you.
  • And… I am always the last one to know when it is raining…

The Pros… Yes, There Really Are Some

There aren’t many. But when looking at the reality of something, even though I am a hardcore pessimist (hello depression!), I should look at the positives. At least that is what my therapist tells me…

  • I can fit in kids clothes.  Yes, this is both a con and a pro. Although it is embarrassing, it can also be helpful financially since children’s clothing runs cheaper than adults. My womanly hips are not fitting into any pair of jeans in that section but I have bought several plain tanks and tees. It helped as well in Disney World when I wanted a sweatshirt with Donald Duck (my fave!) on it. The kid size was $5 cheaper. Score!
  • I can fit in small spaces. Hide and seek proved well with me. If I need to be alone, I can just squeeze myself into the bottom of the coat closet. And, being serious now, God forbid, if an active shooter came through at work, I could easily fit in the corner underneath my desk. Maybe not so positive is that I am the only one who can fit in our crawl space. Not exactly a grand beautiful place to be but it does house the wine we are aging. So if I wanted to, I could sit down there, hide and get drunk.
  • My tall child can’t complain to me that’s she’s tall. She has done this and I just stared at her perplexed. I actually asked her why she was complaining about this to me, the short one. Then I sent her whiny butt over to complain to her father for passing on his genetics.

My list of pros are short (ha ha, see, I used a pun there!) as am I, but I don’t let it bother me as much anymore. I will never be able to change it and at this point, I am not sure I would want to.

What Not To Do When Committing A Crime… The Stupidity of Criminals

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There is no denying the fact that I am a true crime fanatic. I live, breathe and sleep true crime. I watch true crime shows and documentaries. I listen to true crime podcasts. And, I read books devoted to true crime. With all this, I have deemed myself an expert… an expert on what not to do if you want to pull of the perfect crime.

My husband, who occasionally joins me for my Friday night “Wine & Dateline”, has stated many times about the stupidity of these criminals. I am not going to lie, these crimes are mostly murders. Please note, I do not condone any criminal act. My heart breaks for the victim and their family.

But, the criminal, the murderer, I have found myself laughing at many of them. I never in my wildest dreams thought this topic would be humorous, but it has become so.

Below is a list of what you shouldn’t do when trying to pull off the perfect crime. I honestly can’t believe how many stupid people believe they will never be caught that have done the following:

Using Your Cellphone

In this day and age, most of us are attached to our cellphones. We check our emails. We peruse social media. We text. And in rare occurrences, we actually make a phone call. The last two are a criminal’s downfall. Somewhere in between informing their ‘boss’, significant other, or anyone else, they forget that their cellphone will ping off of towers within their vicinity. So many Snapped episodes I have seen where the woman (because it is always a woman on Snapped) will constantly deny that they were anywhere near their now dead spouse, parents, or child. Then the cops show her her phone records. Really?! Are you that stupid to believe the cops would not look into your cellphone records?!

Using Your Credit Card

Similar to using your cellphone, do not use a credit card. So many episodes of Dateline and Snapped where the criminal goes to buy supplies and low and behold, pays with a credit card. Their own credit card. Really?! It is not only the credit card use that has solidified it was in fact you, but you are also caught on camera at the store. No need for receipts, law enforcement has already looked into your credit card purchases.

Keeping The Receipt

I just recently watched a Dateline episode, “Finding Venus”, where an ex-husband killed his ex-wife. He lived in Virginia, she in Michigan. He used a gaming buddy as his alibi. He even had this buddy pretend to be him delivering a check to his divorce lawyer. And, he would have gotten away with it if, a big if, he had thrown out a Walmart receipt. The receipt was found in his car from a location in Ohio along the drive from Virginia to Michigan. It gets better though. What was he buying on this receipt you ask? Gloves, a shovel and a tarp. The tarp wrapper was found at the scene of the crime. Yeah, not looking good buddy! If only you had thrown out that receipt…

Also, a big note to Doug Stewart, the ex-husband… it is bad enough you kept the receipt, but also, your outfit of choice when purchasing said items made you stand out even more. A striped shirt and surf shorts are not the way to go in the month of October in Ohio when you are buying murder supplies.

Using Your Real Name

Let’s go back in time. A time before social media. A time before cellphones. The year was 1986 and this crime happened one town over from where I live now. This is the sad murder of Helle Crafts, a Danish flight attendant. Her husband, Richard Crafts, a pilot, is now more famously known as the man who committed the Woodchipper Murder. Another criminal who thought he would get away with murder especially since they could not find a body. They had suspicions that Helle did not disappear but was in fact murdered with her husband as suspect #1. Problem was a snowplow had seen Richard on the side of the road with a woodchipper late the night Helle was last seen. This led the police to looking into rentals as the Crafts’ did not own one. Low and behold, on the rental agreement, although he paid in cash, Richard signed his own name. Doh!

Writing Out Your Murder Plan

When I first saw this on an episode of Snapped I was extremely amazed at the stupidity of this woman. Meet Maryann Castorena. She hired someone to kill her ex-boyfriend for his insurance as she was still declared the beneficiary. Not uncommon. Most murders are done for the insurance money. What makes her so ‘unique’ or just plain stupid, is she wrote the whole murder plan out for her hired help. When the cops asked her about the letter which highlighted every step of the murder, she claimed it was for a book or screenplay she was writing. She pleads with law enforcement that she overheard 2 women at a restaurant talking about this and thought, “Hey, what a great book/movie idea!”

Ms. Castorena… if you didn’t want to get caught, you shouldn’t have laid out the whole plot on paper.

Your Last Name Should Not Be Peterson, Period

If your last name is Peterson, just change it. Between Drew, Scott & Michael, you’re screwed.

It doesn’t matter if you are found innocent, you will still be guilty. Then again, you could just blame it on an owl!

And if you are a female with the last name Peterson, you will wind up being killed.

Not Paying Your Hired Help

I have seen many a Snapped episode where the instigator of the murder plot ‘forgets’ to pay their hired killer. As much as this killer does not want to get caught, you can bet if he or she does, your ass is going down with them… especially if you didn’t pay them. They will quickly tell the cops who hired them.

Paying Your Hired Help $100

Offering your hired help a mere pittance to murder your significant other will not work out well either. I am still perplexed at the people who agree to kill someone for $100. Really?! Let’s weigh the pros and cons: Pro, $100; Con (and most likely outcome) life in prison with or without parole. Does that $100 seem desirable now?!

(Insert head smack)

Please let me know if I left any off the list. Honestly, this list will constantly grow with all the advances in technology. I may have to write a follow-up to this in a year or two.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way encouraging any of my readers on what to do to commit the perfect crime. This is an article about how stupid 99.9% of criminals are. I am formally saying, do not commit a crime. Just don’t.*

 

 

The Day Jim Cantore Came To Town

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I have been an avid Weather Channel watcher for decades. The storms and catastrophes that Mother Nature can produce have me in awe. I am amazed at the destruction that can be caused and, unfortunately, the many lives that are lost.

When I was in college, I had to reapply to the architecture program after 3 semesters. It was required of all of us undergrads at the time and just because you were in the program didn’t mean you were guaranteed a spot to continue after the review. I feared that review. My drawings skills were average with many others who were way better and my design concepts weren’t highly imaginative. So I sat there, in the midst of waiting for my results thinking about what major I would transfer to if I had failed to receive acceptance. Meteorology was my number one choice. Although I did wind up continuing in the architecture program, in some ways I wish I didn’t.

Weather has been an interest of mine since I was young, the desire not as strong as architecture for me. I slept through Hurricane Gloria in 1985. I was a young kid who took a nap. When I woke up and saw the chaos outside my window, I was in wonderment. A force of nature could do this?! My little 5-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend this. Once we got cable several years later, I would sit and watch the weather channel instead of cartoons after school. Hurricane after hurricane… I watched wide-eyed, mouth gaping.

This continued through college. Every morning I would turn on the Weather Channel and wait for the Local on the 8s to appear so I could see what the weather was like for that day. That is when I started to learn the names of the anchors. That is when I became aware of Jim Cantore. He and Stephanie Abrams would start off my morning. After graduation, when out on my own in the real world, shows started to pop up on the Weather Channel with Jim Cantore hosting. My fave was ‘It Could Happen Tomorrow‘.

As the years passed, it became apparent that when there was a massive hurricane or snowstorm hitting, the Weather Channel always sent Jim Cantore to what they deemed would be the worst hit area.

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Forget Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, now it is Where in the World is Jim Cantore!

And then the day came, the day all of us dread, the day Jim Cantore came to town!

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In March of 2018, Jim Cantore came to my town. Winter Storm Quinn was approaching and predicted to drop feet of snow. There were many areas where he could of been sent, but instead he was sent to my little town. I sat at my TV watching, debating back and forth whether I should go to where he was and get a selfie with him. In some ways I idolized him. He was what I would have liked to have been had I gone into meteorology.

This storm was so unique, according to Jim, because of the thundersnow. Basically, instead of thunder during a rainstorm, there is thunder during a snowstorm. Aside from the 12+ inches of snow and the thunder, we had blizzard conditions due to the strong winds. A perfect set up for Jim Cantore. And here he was, frankly, scaring the shit out of us residents.

Through the decades, I never actually thought I would be living in an area where Jim would show up. There usually isn’t any weather that would warrant a visit from him. Sure we get snow, but we are used to it in the northeast, even a storm expected to produce more than a foot.

I decided that I should stop fan-girling him and did not go down to meet him. I had until noon that day since the snow really hadn’t started until then. With flakes falling, the wind howling and the growling thunder, I stayed in the comforts of my home watching him on the TV. The warmth of the pellet stove was more comforting then the mess going on outside.

And then it was over. And like with any other winter storm in the northeast, we cleaned up in less than a day. Jim Cantore left for his next adventure in weather. Turns out, he should have gone one town over. We only received about 18″ of snow while the next town received over 26″. All in all, it was both scary and amazing to see the legend of Jim Cantore in our town… a town that would never have been known to most had it not been for him.