Family Affair
Sunday, January 23, 2022

Hey There! 

I'm back to tell you another story, but today's post is not so much a story as a True Confession. 

And straight up, if you're offended by everything and anything or if you don't have a sense of humor or if you're one of those people who feels the need to school others from your keyboard because you live to tear others down in order to make yourself feel better, please stop reading right now. By the way, if I'm describing you, know that everyone in the world thinks you're an asshole. 

Just sayin'. 

But if this is you, seriously, do not proceed any further. 

So, here goes. 

I was never the type of mom who played Kidz Bop style music in the car when my girls were little. 

My car, my tunes. 

And since I LOVE music, all music, my tastes cover a wide spectrum of genres. My kids were exposed at a tender age to pop, indie, rock, Broadway showtunes, bluegrass, opera, alternative, hip-hop, classical and everything in between. 

And even though I played a vast and varied amount of music in the car when my girls were small, I always used discretion. If the song was too adult for their precious, innocent ears, I would skip right over it. 

Until the third one came along. 

By the time I had my third daughter, I was tired. 

Those of you with multiple children understand that deep to the bone fatigue, the one where you constantly find yourself saying to the other kids, "Just let her win."

Suffice to say, the rules were rather relaxed by the time my youngest showed up in the family. 

If she wanted to wear a tutu to preschool, I let her. If she jumped on the bed, I would just wearily tell her to jump carefully. If she kicked in our shower wall while playing Karate with her sister in the shower, (true story) I shrugged and told her sister to finish washing the baby's hair quickly so the water wouldn't seep into the wall.

And yes, the six-year-old was washing the three-year-old's hair. 

To my credit, she was almost seven. 

It's one of the secret benefits no one tells you about when you have multiple children.  On occasion, when you're at your wit's end, you can demand the older ones parent the younger ones. 

      This pretty much sums it up.

The youngest stayed up later than her sisters because by that time I was done wrangling three-year-olds into bed. I'd just stick her in bed with me and we'd watch TV together. 

Our favorite show was The Sopranos. 

She loved the theme song and would climb out of bed and dance when James Gandolfini showed up on screen, cigar firmly entrenched in the corner of his mouth, cruising down the Jersey turnpike. Wearing only her little Pull-Up, she would sing with gusto that famous last line, "Got yourself a gun. Got yourself a gun. Got yourself a gun." 

The memories. 

      Angel Baby

      Badly Parented Angel Baby 

Since she only went to preschool a couple times a week, she and I rode our trusty steed of a Honda Pilot through many hours of the day together. 

And we would crank up the jams. By that time, I didn't care about bad words or iffy lines. Heck, I didn't care if she was playing outside in only her Disney Princess underpants and cowboy boots. It was 90 degrees. There was no chance of frostbite. All good. 

Like me, my baby loved some of the brightest talents of that time of the 90s. We both loved Eminem's music back then especially his most excellent song, "Without Me."
"Guess who's back, back again. Shady's back, tell a friend." 

To my credit, I only played the censored version of that song. I had to draw the line on bad parenting somewhere and that song, definitely went over the line.  

We also loved Snoop Dogg, U2, No Doubt and Mary J Blige, just to name a few of the many. 

We didn't listen to just 90s music though. Some of our other favorites were the soundtrack from "Oklahoma", Stevie Nicks, "O' Mio Bambino Caro" by Maria Callas, (we could not get through that one without shedding a tear), Bob Dylan, The Beatles, especially their song "Julia." And yes, I told her it was written for her. We loved Patsy Cline, the Bee Gee's, my beloved Prince, Hall and Oates, before they sold out to cheesy pop, the Boss, anything by Dolly Parton. The list goes on and on and on. My girl learned about the wonders of music in that Honda Pilot as we drove the miles and days away. 

But we reserved a special place in our hearts back then for Queen Mary J. She was simply and splendidly  IT with her album, "No More Drama." Mary J's voice is a marvel. You can feel her heartbreak, her pain, every nuance of what's she's going through in her voice. This album was a confirmation of the pain she'd endured and the reclaiming of a life she deserved. It is an utterly dazzling body of work.  And I cannot tell you how much my girl and I loved that album and Mary J. 

The year before, I'd been to Italy and while there, I'd bought this magnificent black, velvet floppy hat. It was perfect for Italy, but in Florida I didn't have much use for it. My baby, however, loved that hat. The minute she saw it, she claimed it, telling me it was her Mary J. Blige hat. And that girl, who was born with glamour queen style, always made sure I had her Mary J hat tucked in my tote bag everywhere we went. 

She wore it whenever she felt it was an appropriate time for a black, velvet floppy hat, which some days was to the grocery store and other days it was to Sunday Mass. But mainly she wore it whenever we turned on Mary's "Family Affair." 

She would call out from her car seat, "Mama, give me my Mary J Blige hat." And she would slide on my big Target sunglasses which she had also claimed for her own and she'd tilt her Mary J hat just so and she and I would sing, 

"Let's get it crunk upon
Have fun up on, in this dancery
We got y'all open, now ya floatin'
So you gots to dance for me..."

I can still see it like it was yesterday, my little three-year-old with her Renaissance princess curls cascading down from that big black hat, car seat dancing with all her sass as she and I belted, "Mary J is in the spot tonight and I'ma make it feel alright."

Those were the sweetest of times. 

In a matter of seconds, that little girl grew up. And remarkably, even with my bad parenting, she did not go to jail. She did not end up on the pole. She did not feel the need to join the Mafia of New Jersey. 

She did not even become a Kung Fu Fighter. 

She did, however, fly high. She left high school in Florida and set out on her own for college in California where she majored in Enology (winemaking) with a minor in Chemistry. (She did not get that part of her brain from me. The glamour queen is all my doing, but Chemistry? That's some hard shit.) She now works in production in the wine business, learning the ropes to become a winemaker. She has beautiful Henry, the best cat I've ever known. And she has a good, kind man by her side who just happens to be a bona fide cowboy. Seriously, a real calf-roping, rodeo cowboy. 

                          Fun With My Girls

      She really did turn out alright, I promise you. 

                          On The Ranch

      She works in a cave. 

      And she climbs way too tall ladders. 

In short, she has a lovely life in California. So, I don't know, I guess I did something right along the way.

Along with all of that, she is my kindred spirit when it comes to music. She loves all music, modern and decades old—all the genres. If it's good music, if it speaks to her, she loves it. We share our music finds all the time and her choices please me greatly. 

Now to shift the story for a half a second. 

I am not a sports girl. I do not follow football, hockey, soccer, etc...

Baseball, I like a bit and boxing, MMA, anything to do with hitting, I love A LOT. I'm not sure why, maybe it was my obsession with Rocky and Sylvester Stallone back in the day. 

But for the most part, I am meh about all the sportsballs. 

But I do love a good Super Bowl party. Mainly, because I love parties, I love snacks and I love the halftime show. And if you have Queso at your Super Bowl party, well, I promise you, I will attend if I'm invited. 

The other night my daughter, my little bad-parented, rock star of a daughter texted me late at night. 
I didn't see it because of the three hour time difference between us. This one fact often makes my heart ache. 

In the morning, I saw her text. It was a link, so I opened it. 

I hadn't even had my morning coffee yet but I was so pumped, I jumped out of bed with a yelp. 

It was a trailer preview for this year's Super Bowl. It begins with a chess game and the pieces being moved into place. 

And Eminem is there writing out rap lyrics in the air. Across from him, his alter ego Slim Shady is doing the same while Eminem's masterful rapping is in the background. And then Eminem's phone dings. 

This segues into another chess piece being moved and the iconic song "The Next Episode." If you are not familiar with the song, one of my favorite jams, it starts out like this: 

  It's the mother**** D-O-double-G
  (Snoop Dog!)
 You know I'm mobbin' with the D R E"

I do not care where I am when this song comes on, I jump out of my chair, white girl scream, throw my hands in the air and commence to dancing. I hope it is never played at a church service or a funeral that I'm attending, because I don't know if I can refrain myself. 

And then, there he is, Snoop behind the wheel of one of the most bad ass lowriding cars of all time. Seriously, I want this car. 

Little known fact, if you are not fully aware of Snoop's talents, he is not only a talented rapper and songwriter who drives cool cars, he is a Renaissance man. 

He is a rapper, an actor in both film and TV, with his own reality show. He is a game show host, a certified football coach, a boxing commentator where he famously said during a Mike Tyson fight, "This is like two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue." 

He is also clearly hilarious. 

He is a licensed medicinal cannabis grower. He has his own wine label and he is a cook with several cookbooks to his name. He is a partner in a restaurant and word on the street is, he has a fantastic fried chicken recipe made with barbecue potato chips. 

He is also one of Martha Stewart's best friends. They bonded over cooking. And almost every year at my favorite music festival, BottleRock in Napa Valley, Snoop is there. Not to rap, mind you, but at the cooking expo with his bestie, Martha. And at BottleRock a few years back, he set the Guinness World record for largest cocktail. 

Gin and Juice, of course. 

He is also an amazing vocal coach. He was the surprise mega mentor coach this year on one of my favorite shows, "The Voice." He was fantastic, sharp and on point, gave insightful advice and charmed everyone. Seriously, the Voice fans fell in LOVE with him and I have a feeling most Voice fans are not very familiar with the works of Snoop Dogg. They started a petition to get him as a regular coach, but Snoop's got barbecue chip coated fried chicken and weed and music and Martha Stewart and all the things keeping him busy. Sadly, I do not think Snoop has time to keep us charmed as a Voice judge on a regular basis. 

Snoop Dogg also knows his way around wearing a fur. 

If I could pick anyone as one of my guests at a dinner party, Snoop would be in my top five. We could wear matching furs and talk for hours. 

But enough gushing. 

Snoop is driving his fancy, fine lowrider and it's hopping when suddenly his phone dings. 

This segues into another played chess piece and OMG! 

"Family Affair" starts up and there she is, Queen Mary getting all glammed up, walking a red carpet and posing in front of a very fancy car, when suddenly her phone dings and you see her speeding along in the fancy car in a fur, on her way to Los Angeles. 

Another chess piece and this segues into the song "Humble" by Kendrick Lamar and here's Kendrick at a desk furiously scribbling out lyrics. If you're not familiar with Kendrick's work, give him a listen. He can speed rap like no one's business, but most importantly, he is a poet of a songwriter. He speaks of Compton where he was raised and the futility and the loss that shaped him. His writing earned him a Pulitzer Prize, the first ever for a rapper. 

Chess piece, again which segues into a stunning visual of a keyboard in the ocean's tide with the one and only Dr. Dre walking on the beach. 

And then this incredible roster comes together as all of these talented legends meet up via their planes, cars and hilariously, Kendrick on his bike, while one of the best hip hop songs of all time, "California Love" by TuPac Shakur plays. They all walk in together to LA's stadium. 

And This. This, my friends, is the Super Bowl halftime show for this year. 

43 Grammys between them. 


I cannot think of a more epic group to play the Super Bowl.

I have not been this excited since the halftime shows of Prince, U2 and Bruce Springsteen, collectively. 

I hope to attend a Super Bowl party. I haven't officially been asked anywhere yet because people don't associate me with sportsball. But I know several football families who would welcome me, even though I am illiterate at first downs, Hail Mary's, blitzing and the rest. However, I do know of Tom Brady, because most of my friends are Patriot fans who live in Florida and as the world knows, now we have Tommy Boy. Who would have ever dreamed in our lifetime there'd be a pandemic and Tom Brady would be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer? Go freaking figure.

But enough of the sportsball talk, I am just hoping someone will have a Mexican themed Super Bowl party with lots and lots of Queso. 

I'll be the one at the Queso bowl for most of the night. But when halftime comes, I will be glued to the television, telling everyone to shush. 

And I will be thinking of my baby girl, miles and oceans away from me, watching these people, the ones that shaped our time together, perform as one. I might just search for that Mary J hat and send it to her before the show with just the note, 


I know she will. 

I hope you all watch these legends and even if you're not into this type of music, give them a shot. At its best, Hip Hop music is raw and beautiful and poetic, and these legends are the masters of their craft. 

I don't know who the chess player was behind these masterful moves, but I must say, splendidly done. 

I feel like this is our sign that the bad is all behind us. I feel like this show is the mark of better days to come. The light at the end of his very, long, dark, brutal tunnel is coming. I can feel it.

For as Mary J. says, 

"Oh, it feels so good
When you let go of all the drama in your life
Now you're free from all the pain 
Free from all the game 
Free from all the stress
So find your happiness
I don't know
Only God knows where the story ends for me
But I know where the story begins
It's up to us to choose
Whether we win or lose
And I choose to win"

Here's to choosing to win. Here's to the better days to come for all of us.

Check out this amazing trailer, right here. I cannot wait. 


Mom and a Boy Named Ryder
Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Well, Hey There! I KNOW! You never thought you'd be hearing from me again, but 4,000 years, one pandemic and major world upheaval later, here I am! 

We have a LOT of catching up to do, some wonderful, some heartbreaking and I promise we will get to that in later posts. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you already know all the things, just like I most likely know all of your life. If we are not connected on Facebook, please let's be friends. I know Facebook is up to major nefarious nonsense right now, but it's still my favorite place to stay connected. 

But for today, I had to write a little something that was in my heart. So, here you go. 

I got the phone call as I sat at my mother's bedside in the hospital. 

It was our turn. We'd been on a long wait list for a puppy and we were expecting a Bernedoodle to join us in the fall. 

But that's the thing about life. It never happens in the way you expect it to pan out. And now it was only May and there on my phone, I was looking at a photo of the most beautiful bundle of fluff. 

I was already smitten. 

I said to my mom, "There's this puppy and I have to have him, but I'll be right back."

My mom said, "Of course, go. I'll be right here when you get back."

Because at that point, my mom was supposed to be in recovery after a heart stent operation that the doctors had proclaimed a success. It was supposed to be a few more days in the hospital and then she would be good as new. 

But there's that one undeniable fact about life—how you can plan and prepare and expect all you want, but the unpredictable is always there, waiting to remind us that what life has in store for us from one moment to the next cannot be scheduled. It can't and won't be forged by mortal hands. 

Little did I know, did any of us know, that 26 days later my mom would take her last breath upon this Earth. 

She was supposed to get better. Don't bet on supposed to be's. Ever. 

We flew into Nashville and back to Tampa in less than 24 hours with a sweet baby dog named Ryder, all body wags and puppy kisses. 

To be honest, I wasn't sure I would be able to manage with a mom in the hospital and a brand new puppy at home. And as the days in the hospital turned into weeks, I felt like a mother of a newborn going back to work for the first time, leaving my boy every day so I could be at my mom's bedside. 

But I left him in the ever-so capable hands of Bill Mannix and the two of them had a grand time together. Let's just say Ryder is now very familiar with the inside of a Bass Pro Shop. 

And every day when I returned home, drained, hope crumbling bit by bit as Mom began to fade, my little boy would greet me at the door joyously, with his little wigglebutt and puppy kisses. 

It was one of the most inopportune times to get a puppy and it was one of the best moves we ever made. 

The last several months have been hard ones, full of twists and turns we never saw coming. The unexpected rearing up to steal pieces, bit by bit of my ragged heart, a heart that had already been bruised and battered by some tough events of the past year. But even on the hardest of days, there was this little puppy, this fluffy soul of pure goodness and joy, a constant bearer of love, waiting for me. 

When Leanne Lynch, of Bluegrass Bernedoodles handed her baby over to me, she kissed him and said, "Go on now. You have a job to do for this family." She had no idea how prophetic her words would be, how he would do his job like the best dog ever. Which by the way, if you are looking for a sweet-tempered, intelligent, beautiful healthy dog from a stellar breeder look no further than Bluegrass Bernedoodles. You'll be so happy you did. 

Ryder is goofy and full of vibrant puppy energy. He doesn't run so much as he bounces and leaps, a little Tigger dog. 

He gobbles up everything he finds. I've got my whole hand in his mouth a dozen times a day, blindly fishing out all the bits and pieces of everything he encounters. 

He is a thief of vast proportions. The other day I found my eyeglasses among his toys. Unfortunately, they were missing a side arm which has yet to be found. 

He gnaws on only our important things with his Baby Shark teeth. He is especially fond of Italian leather, Bill's fancy flip-flops, the dining room table and of course, my eyeglasses. 

And he is still mastering the fact that my beloved Kelly Clarkson rug that I fondly call my Kelly Clarkson, is not a beautiful, soft blue and beige, vintage-inspired, giant potty pad. 

He is committed to the daily mission of unwinding all the toilet paper rolls and parading them like a hard won trophy throughout the house. He doesn't appreciate the great lengths Bill went to collecting that toilet paper for the last year. 

He is also the biggest baby of all time. 


We learned this the day Luna, my Tori's 20 pound Frenchie came over for a playdate. Luna accidentally stepped on his widdle paw in the middle of their wrestling match and Ryder began to shriek, hysterical, painful cries that had us all running to see which one of his appendages Luna the Savage had torn off. He was holding his paw up while trying to walk on three legs. And apparently, the act of walking on three legs was too much for him, because he would collapse to the ground with each attempted step, wailing even harder. Panicked, I dialed my vet, (I have them on speed dial) and told them I thought the puppy had broken his leg. They could hear his wailing through the phone and were just as alarmed. The vet had left for the day so they advised me to take him to the ER. I scooped him up to calm his wailing self down before we headed out to get his apparently badly broken leg fixed. 

It took a few minutes of comforting him until his wailing turned into whimpers, pitiful, shaky whimpers with each breath. But then plus-sized Luna trotted by the couch where we sat, oblivious to the fact that her curvy, sausage body had just shattered the puppy's leg. Although knowing Luna, she might not have been oblivious, she probably just didn't care. But suddenly, Ryder leapt from my arms and tackled Luna, continuing their wrestling match. 

That was our first indication we had ourselves a drama king. 


He also has an affinity for our clothing. On the daily, he drags our clothes throughout the house. He never chews on anything, just triumphantly carries pajamas, t-shirts, socks, leggings, underwear all over the house, his little tail wagging, so proud of himself. We finally gave up and we just wait until the end of the day to collect everything. On most days, we look like beginning-stage hoarders with a collection of t-shirts in the foyer, my pajamas strewn down the hallway, my bra across the water bowl. 

But he is also so full of infectious joy, you can't have a bad day with a wriggling Ryder kissing your face. Even though he's the energizer bunny, he relaxes immediately when I gather him in my arms like a baby, allowing me to hold him in any smothering way I please. If I dare to get on the ground for a floor workout, he pounces, covering me in kisses and wriggly love. Anytime I'm standing still, he is there leaning against my legs as if to claim me. The few times we leave the house without him, we secure him in a giant, gated playpen. As soon as we return, he yelps incessantly until Bill rescues him. Bill will say, "Go get her!" And then there is the sound of his puppy paws scrambling, frantically running through the house until he finds me, until he knows he and I are back together. 

He is so eager to please us and easy to train and he has never, ever met a stranger. He is in love with every person and every creature that crosses his path. He sleeps like an angel. He has graduated from sleeping in his crate to our bathroom floor. He will tolerate the bed for only a few minutes until he hops off for the coolness of the stone floor. And most importantly, he has gotten the hang of the fact that his mommy doesn't enjoy waking up before sunrise. 

He even poops in the most adorable way, his back legs marching up and down like a little, pooping soldier. I hope he never stops doing that. 

We have had two major bright spots this year, Ryder coming into our life and our Tori girl and Reese's wedding. Thank God for those two things because the rest of it has made for one brutal year. I feel like around every corner there has been another big, bad thing lurking. I won't go into the details of all the tough events except to say one of the hardest things was the loss of two of my beloved dogs

Bella was 16 and we waited until she let us know it was her time to go. She'd chased a lifetime of tennis balls, jumped into the lake, big leaping dives from our dock thousands of times. She'd been the life of every party and had made her morning neighborhood stroll every day of her life, stopping at all the houses, the goodwill ambassador of our neighborhood. She'd lived a good life but she was tired, her eyes and ears no longer functioned and her limbs were no longer strong enough to hold her up. When she left us, it came with its own sweet relief that she would once more be running free. 

Delilah was a different story. She was supposed to have more time. That sweet girl was an angel and did not deserve the sentence of aggressive cancer. 

When I lost my Delilah, I was unsure whether I would ever know a dog's love like that again. Delilah lived, curled up around my heart. I was hers and she was mine. 

My other two dogs were and are the best—good, sweet dogs. But the unbreakable bond between Delilah and me was different. 

Sophie loves us, but she is a little aloof in her love and she belongs to no one but the outdoors. I always say if Sophie could live as a wild dog, she would be perfectly content. There is nothing better to her than keeping watch under the trees for hours as the squirrels chatter, captive under her Doodle guard. 

And Bella, well Bella loved everyone and everything—us, everyone else, dogs, cats, UPS trucks, cheese. They were all the same in her eyes. 

And so when Ryder came, I wasn't sure who he would be, especially since for the first few weeks of his life with us, I spent hours away from him every day. But I needn't have worried. Ryder never leaves my side. If I dare step out of a room without him noticing, he will scramble through the house until he finds me, content to watch me fold clothes, make lunch, surf the net and yes, even go to the bathroom. I often feel I didn't choose Ryder. He chose me and for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Our life right now is full of puppy chaos—dog toys litter the floor along with all of our dragged out laundry and yards of toilet paper. My eyeglasses are most likely a wash. And we buy enzyme spray by the gallon to keep Kelly Clarkson intact. 

And we wouldn't have it any other way. 

I talked about the big, bad things this last year had in store for me, but the biggest, hardest thing, was of course, losing my mom, watching her fade away until there was no hope left. 

I have walked the path of grief before. It isn't easy. It's filled with sorrow and pain and regret for all the things that could have been and all the things that were and on most days it sneaks up on you with a mighty wallop, leaving you unsteady in its wake. 

My parents are reunited with each other and there is no sweeter song in the universe. But no matter how old you are it is always tough to become an orphan. There is an emptiness to no longer having parents on this earth and even though I have strong roots and a husband and children who love me, part of me now feels rudderless. 

I won't lie, a few months ago I was struggling, weighted down in grief and overwhelmed by the task of being my mom's executor. The shutting down of a life is complicated and hard and it never got easier with each phone call having to say the words out loud that my mom had passed. My husband suggested a change of scenery, an extended stay at our other home in California. But my little baby Ryder had grown too big to fit under the seat of a plane. And I'll admit, I was one of those who rolled my eyes at the ever increasing fad of emotional support animal. (When that one woman tried to bring her emotional support duck on a plane? Please! everyone knows ducks are assholes and not capable of emotional support. They are only capable of pooping everywhere. I unfortunately know this, firsthand.) But I knew I couldn't leave my bouncy irrepressible boy behind. I was too emotionally attached. He had become my life preserver as I swam through the dark, turbulent waves of grief.

And so, my wonderful husband suggested an epic road trip. 

From Florida to California. 

With a five month old puppy. 

I must confess, I was worried. I couldn't imagine this electrified bundle of energy sitting in a car for hours at a time, day after day. But there was no need for worry, Ryder proved himself to be the angel boy that he is. It was kind of astonishing, to be honest. It was like he knew what was expected of him and he became a professional truck passenger, restaurant goer, hotel sleeper, sight-seeing tourist from the moment our road trip began. 

In the truck, he took turns sleeping on his cooling pad on the truck floor, sitting in his car seat watching the scenery unfold, snuggling in my arms and resting his head on the console to keep his dad company as the miles unfolded. He happily hiked national parks, laid quiet under every restaurant table, made friends with every dog we came across, slept like a champ in hotel rooms and did his business on demand at skinny strips of grass at gas stations, in city parks, in dirt lots and everywhere else we asked him to go. 

By the time he was six months old he'd traveled to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Kansas, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee and every part in between. He'd stayed in dozens of hotel rooms, laid at our feet in countless restaurants, strolled through shopping malls, traveled Route 66, hiked in national parks in several states, posed at the Grand Canyon, experienced deserts and canyons and mountains and gorgeous rock formations. He had waded in creek beds, put his paws in the Pacific Ocean. He had walked through redwood forests. He'd socialized with all the town folk every Thursday at our Calistoga Music in the Park, fitting right into our small town way of life. He'd been wine tasting, bike riding, partied with all the dogs at breweries and had navigated the sidewalks of big cities like he belonged there. And he did all of this and so much more like a champion, like he knew what his job was, to be there for me, for all of us, our beloved, constant companion.

There was this moment in Sedona. We were driving back to our hotel after a long day of sight seeing. I was staring out the window, at some of the most beautiful scenery this country has to offer. Grief, as it does, had snuck up on me. I was thinking about how much my dad would have loved the glorious rock formations. How he would have said with all the feels, "Don't you just love it?" I was thinking about all the vacations Bill and I took with my mom and dad, how we would drink wine and have adventures and laugh until we couldn't breathe and how sometimes it felt like those moments had been a lifetime ago, but how other times it felt like we'd been together just yesterday and how sometimes I still catch myself almost picking up the phone to call them. I was feeling the weight of the last few months and all the hard things we've had to endure when suddenly Ryder climbed into my lap. He wagged his little wiggly body as he settled into my arms and forced his head under my hand so I would pet him. And as I looked down at this baby, so deliriously happy and content to just be with us, I felt a peace wash over me. I knew that life will go on with all its unexpected joy and sorrow, unforeseen heartbreak and serendipitous treasures, all whirled together, unsparingly merciless at times but always so good, so very good. On the toughest of days, I looked into his sweet brown eyes full of goodness and love and I knew I would be okay, we would all be okay. 

Dog is God spelled backwards. It explains just about everything. Maybe God wanted to give us something because he knew he was about to take so much from us. Maybe my dad pulled some favors because he knew how much it would hurt to walk my mom down the path to Heaven's door. I'll never know why Ryder entered our lives when he did. He came to us when getting a puppy should have been our last priority. He was unexpected and sometimes when you least expect it, this wild, tumultuous life gives you the sweetest of gifts. And sometimes those gifts are in the form of a furry, goofy bouncy bundle of love named Ryder. 

Sit Down Kanye Part Deux
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Hello Internet. 
It's me, back for Part II of my Grammys' post. 
And yes, I know the Grammys were 10,000 years ago, just like my Part I of this post. I started to write this the day after the Grammys, but let's just say time management and I have never really understood each other. 
Just scroll up if you want to read Part I which was my red carpet review. 
And now, if you can remember that far back in time, let's dish or perhaps dis on the show. 
And FYI, I'm only highlighting certain moments of the show bc my blog posts are long enough without me saying what everyone knows—things like, Miranda Lambert was perfect in every way. 
Because Duh. 
So onward with the highlights:
Anyone who starts a show with ACDC is my kind of people. I was screaming for my husband to GET IN HERE AND SEE THIS because we are the 80's and ACDC belongs to us. Just like MTV belongs to us since we were watching the very second MTV blasted onto our tv's and changed the culture of music forever. Something I like to remind my children of every time they roll their eyes at my coolness. Because I am definitely cool. I was cool long before they were even a minuscule thought in my brain and I still had jutting hipbones and lots of crop tops. (See above post to truly get this reference.)
I was kind of surprised to see their guitarist Angus Young still going strong. I was certain he would have died from a brain aneurysm by now. I saw them in concert once while wearing a crop top back in the 80's. That Angus played his guitar and head banged throughout the entire concert. Almost two hours of whipping his hair back and forth. It was bad-ASS, I tell you. If you are not familiar with Angus and his head banging, here you go. Whipping your hair back and forth like that for many hours has gotta jumble up some brain things. Good to see it didn't kill him. 
And then Ariana Grande sings. 
I'm going to duck out of the way as soon as I say this, so the Internet doesn't all slap me at once, but Ariana Grande's voice is on my list of top things I despise along with tarragon, slow drivers in the left hand lane and every member of the Kardashian and Jenner family. 
Except for Bruce. Mad props and respect to Bruce. 
And that poor baby. I'd like to adopt her before she becomes a douchebag. More on that in a minute. 
Ariana's voice, or as I like to call it, cat yowl, could be used as a CIA-approved torture method. Her shrieky-just-because-I-can-hit-that-note voice makes me want to yank on her freaking ponytail until I pull the screech right out of her. 
I got one less problem without ya, Ariana, once I fast forward through your shriek. 
I don't understand the world's love for screechy singers. I can hit the high notes too in the right circumstance. 
Like the time, the hubs and I were dating and he kept his canoe on the river behind his apartment. There was no dock, just about a ten foot drop off into the water with a seawall made of wood. Somehow, my husband convinced me I could ease down that drop off and he would catch me. 
In a canoe. 
And because I was young and impetuous and kind of stupid, I decided that yes I could do this. He eased himself down, landing as gracefully as a leaping cat, barely rocking the canoe. And then I went.   But instead of leaping gracefully, I slid down that wooden wall, gripping on for dear life as I tumbled down. By the time I landed ON my husband, I had splinters embedded all through my hands, my fingers, down my forearms and all over my body. It felt like...well, it felt like I had a million wooden splinters digging into my body. 
I shrieked like a hundred Ariana Grandes in that canoe and I'm sure I hit notes Ariana has never even thought about. My husband kept trying to calm me down as he attempted to pull out as many splinters as he could. He was afraid someone would think he was murdering me by the sound of my powerful shrieking. 
So, I really don't get the love for the screech singing. We've all got it in us. Don't believe me? Slide down a ten foot drop wooden seawall and you'll see for yourself. 
You know who else's screech makes me want to screech, "SHUT IT NOW!" 
Fall Out Boy. Mr Fall Out or whatever his name is, the little dude who glops on the eyeliner, he's a man-screecher. He sings in the exact eardrum shattering range my daughters use during a PMS rager. I have this instantaneous reaction to his voice. As soon as he starts screech-singing I cover my ears and whimper. I wonder if I have PTSD from all the PMS I've had to endure over the years. Maybe his voice is a trigger. I wish he'd learn to sing like a man instead of a hormonal teenage girl for my PTSD from PMS's sake. 
Tom Jones and Jessie J sing "You Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and honestly, I really don't care about Jessie J, but Tom Jones? The man is 75 years old! 75! And besides wearing too much self tanning cream in the shade of tangerine, Tommy Boy looked and sounded fantastic. I wonder if the ladies still throw their knickers up on stage at him? And even more so, I wonder if he can bend over to pick them up? If you want a great funky song on your playlist, check out Tommy's version of Prince's song, "Kiss." Any senior citizen who can masterfully sing the funk out of a Prince song is the man in my book. 
Then there was Pharrell. Every time I hear his "Happy" song, I do just that. I get toe-tapping, clap-slapping happy. I don't care that I hear it 1,000 times a day, I still love that sweet overplayed song, so I don't understand why he had to jack it up so bad. What the hell was that? Maybe I'm not artistic enough, but I did not get that shit. 
Not at all. 
For his performance, Pharrell changed out of his church shorts, (see previous post) and into a bellman's uniform. Why? I do not know. 
If you didn't see it, I'll do my best to describe it for you now. 
He begins his performance by speaking his song like he's trying to win first place at the Starbucks poetry slam and then some scary doomsday music begins, and I was all, "Hold up Mr., I do NOT like this the-end-of-the-world-is-here Happy." And then all of a sudden, Pharrell breaks into the joyous Happy we all know and love. And everyone gets happy. 
I am happy. The audience is happy. The dancers in hoodies are all dancing happily. Pharrell is JAMMIN' and he is happy. The gospel singers are clapping down the aisle, rejoicing and being happy. Everyone is super happy and then Pharrell sings, "Because I'm . . . "  And the cameras zoom in to some random pianist who starts playing maniacally with this strange melody that has nothing to do with being happy. It's more like, "Because I'm losing my mind and this is what it sounds like in my brain." And everyone on stage is doing the Hands Up which I totally empathize with, but weren't we just singing a song about being happy? Then there's a mashup of Happy and the scary music and everyone in the audience isn't sure whether they should be happy or protesting or running for their lives in case the apocalyptic music is foreshadowing something big to come. And everyone in the audience is nervously side eyeing the first plague, (see above post), Kim Kartrashian in her robe. Then suddenly the song turns back to joyous and bouncy and the audience starts clapping and dancing in relief. Even the mad pianist is going along with this Happy Lite version, bouncing on his piano bench and playing giddily. And then Hans Zimmer, the brilliant composer, comes out on the electric guitar and let me tell you, if there's anyone who looks ill-suited to play an electric guitar, it's Hans Zimmer. He looks like the dad you babysat for as a teenager, the stodgy balding dude, the one that the minute he introduced himself, you hoped and prayed the mom would take you home so you wouldn't have to make awkward conversation with him. That was Hans Zimmer, the awkward tubby Dad you didn't want driving you home, playing an electric guitar onstage with Pharrell. 
I love Pharrell, peanut butter pie love kind of love I have for Pharrell, but that was just bad. If you want to witness this car crash performance for yourself, here you go. 
Sam Smith wins his second award of the night and gives an eloquent speech thanking everyone for accepting him for who he is. And how could we not love our Sammy Boy? He is so utterly sweet and endearing and genuine and ridiculously talented. Stay with us Sam, because you're all we need. 
And then Kanye performs. 
Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. Kanye used to be such a glorious idiot. Remember when his tweets were so ridiculously fabulous that Josh Groban sang a medley of them?  Little gems of idiocy like, "Do you know where to find marble conference tables? Looking to have a conference, not before I get the table, though." Oh, how I loved his idiot ass back in the day. But he has morphed from lovable idiot to just downright plain asshole. I can't even watch him perform anymore, I'm so disgusted by him, even if he's singing about that baby girl of his. 
Which? Let's go there, shall we? 
He and Kartrashian should not be allowed to procreate ever again, no matter how beautiful their offspring. That poor baby girl being inflicted with the name North West and not being treated like, you know, a baby. Have you noticed North is always crying or looking pissed as shit in all her pictures? Wouldn't you be, if you were forced to wear itchy black lace and bulletproof vests, endure constant pouty selfies with your whore mom and attend fashion shows as a baby?

This should be a crime. Someone, please get me that baby!

Notice how Beyonce is all, "Aw hell no! Someone get this baby out of here before I dial up Solange to give this wannabe bitch an ass beating." (I'm talking Kim, not that sweet baby.) 
Notice the absence of Blue Ivy who was most likely at home playing Barbies, instead of being paraded around like a real life Barbie. And Anna Wintour deserves that seat next to them. Putting Kartrashian on the cover of Vogue like she did. I hope baby North kicked the crap out of Anna during that tantrum. 
Did you know Kim claims North prefers to wear blacks and grays?
What a crock of shit, Kartrashian. Let me tell you what North prefers: North prefers dry diapers and a handful of Cheerios and her blankie. If there is the slightest chance she is some fashion prodigy, I will bet all my money, which is zero in my cat wallet, that she prefers Rihanna Barbie Cake Dress pink. (see above post)
I read somewhere or perhaps I saw it on the Beyonce documentary that I have currently watched 2,487 times that Beyonce prayed for a baby and along came Blue Ivy. Yes, I know Blue is another special name but I'm going to give that to Beyonce because, number one, it's a pretty name. Two, it's not a direction. It's a color and colors always win over directions. And three, Beyonce is perfect and does nothing wrong. 
That is not a personal opinion. It is fact. 
But I bring up Beyonce praying for a baby because I'm certain Kartrashian got down on her knees (ahem) and prayed for a fashion accessory. 
More on Kanye in a minute. 
Madonna comes out and once again, (see above post) Madonna needs to start acting her senior citizen age. No one wants to see an AARPer simulating sex with man-beast dancers.
Madonna, get some capri pants and nacho cheese dip, (above post) and sit your old ass down. That's enough out of you!
Did you see where recently Madonna fell backwards down the steps of her stage while performing? 

You know why? Because she is old and old people fall. 
Get yourself right, Madonna. You've just had an internationally televised Help I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up moment. Hellooooo! Put your hearing aids on because God is trying to tell you something. 
And then Beyonce wins! Finally something for the Queen. I thought Beyonce's latest album was fantastic. Kind of funky and weird and so different from Bey's usual sound. 
My sister only half loved it because she says no one likes Dirty Beyonce, you know when she's on her surfboard and such, but I'm cool with Dirty Beyonce. A girl's gotta be what a girl's gotta be. Even if that is Dirty Beyonce.
Ed Sheeran plays with John Mayer and I have to say they sounded great together. John should become part of Ed's band. It's not like he's been doing anything lately except being the subject of Taylor Swift songs, (see above post), so there you go. 
Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani sing together. Okay, putting my hand over my head again so all your Internet slaps don't sting, but I don't love Maroon 5.
I love Adam Levine. Or should I say I love Adam Levine's hair. 
I also appreciate him in a suit and I appreciate him the most when he's like this:

But I don't dig his constant falsetto. It's not my thing, man. This song, though, that he sings with Gwen Stefani is pretty dang good. I think it's because he's singing in a normal man voice, probably to impress Gwen. 
Hoozier then takes the stage and I fast forward my DVR because I know his song is called, "Take Me To Church" so it should be taking me to the freaking church but I don't like this song. It has never taken me to church and as I'm fast forwarding through it, I suddenly see this blonde apparition and I slam on the stop/rewind button because there, right there, is one of my favorite singers and my doppelgänger back in the day, Annie Lennox. 
In the 80s, everybody was all, "You know who you look like?" And I would nod and smile and say Annie Lennox and I would always be right.  
It still happens every once and a while. Just recently my daughter and I were at a chicken drive-thru place, (I will have you know I got the salad with roasted chicken on the top and yes, maybe a large order of fries, but the lettuce balances that out) and the young kid working the window, said to me, "Hey, has anyone ever told you, you look like Annie Lennox?" I was impressed because he looked to be about 12 and he knew who Annie Lennox was. 
One time though a few years ago, a guy asked the question and I smiled smugly and said, "Annie Lennox" and he said, "No, Ty Pennington."
Someone thought I looked like Ty Pennington. That was a sad day in my life. 
But Annie brought the House to church and more with her rendition of, "I Put A Spell On You." Oh, that woman has still got IT and got IT big. I bet that Hoozier guy is regretting sharing a stage with the indomitable Annie. 
Then it was time for Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. These two make a fabulous duo. Gaga wasn't her usual weird self and Tony was just spectacular Tony. That man is eighty freaking nine years old! And the way he belted out that first line with such gusto, "Heaven, I'm in Heaven!
No you're not, Tony. No you're not. You're here with us and here is where you'll be staying for a long time if that vim and vigor of yours is any indication. 
And then sweet Sammy takes the stage! You could tell as he walked out and started singing, he was taking it all in, this, his first Grammys. And then just as I think I can't take another second of his loveliness out walks Mary J. Blige. 
My Mary J. 
Yes, she belongs to me, too, along with AC/DC, MTV and everyone from the 80s.  
Also Ryan Gosling. And Mark Ruffalo. And, of course, U2. And my perfect blue nail polish that everyone exclaims as soon as they notice my toes, "Oh, I love that! I'm going to get that same color!" Erg. 
I wore out Mary J's album, No More Drama back in the day. My girls knew every word to every song on that album. It was charming, I tell you, to watch three little girls singing, "Let's get it crunk, we gon' have fun, up on this, dance for me."
I had this faux fur hat I'd bought in Italy just because it was so fabulous furry and big. My three-year-old Julia would always say, "Mama, I wanna wear your Mary J Blige hat." And she would wear that hat everywhere. She wanted to be Mary J. 
As we all did. 
She'd sit in her carseat wearing that big fur hat and a pair of my oversized Target sunglasses and we would blast "Family Affair" and everyone in the school car line would gape, (in admiration) at our minivan when the automatic door would slide open and that song would be booming from our sweet minivan speakers and a toddler in a fur hat and big pimpin' sunglasses would be crunkin' in her carseat to the beat. 
We were bad-ass, I tell you. 
Oh my goodness gracious, I just smiled and smiled through Sammy and Mary J's performance. They were magical. 
Then comes the huge moment when Prince walks out on stage and I shriek like a two-year-old girl who has just spotted Rihanna's Barbie Cake dress, (yeah, reference previous post). Is there anyone more magnificent? Don't answer that Internet, because there is not. 
Someone said they were irked by the fact that Prince got a standing ovation just for walking in the room. And I was all, "And what exactly is the problem?" Prince should get a standing ovation every morning when he wakes up. Seriously. The world is blessed, blessed I tell you, to have that man walking around with us mere mortals. 
And then? The man says, "Albums matter, like books and black lives, albums still matter."
And I fell in love even more with the artist formerly known as Prince who is now back to being regular Prince, even though there is nothing regular about him. 
And before we speak of the biggest ass moment of the night, I want to point out a little gem the Ass Man Kanye, himself said about books once:
"Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books."
Wait? What? I just . . . No. Did someone actually utter those words? Out loud?
Prince is there to announce album of the year because that is his rightful place in the world. 
And Beck wins. 
And the world loses its collective mind. 
Okay, here's the thing. Beck is a phenomenal artist. Was this the best album of the year? Ehhh, maybe, maybe not. But Beck's collective work over the last twenty years is a broad brushstroke of brilliance and for that alone, he deserved the award. I know it's called album of the year, but shut up with your semantics already. You can talk about it on YOUR blog.   
And even though I loved Beyonce's album, I think the Grammy voters made the right choice. Or perhaps, like my sister stays firm on, nobody likes Dirty Beyonce, not even The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 
But an alternative, below the radar, transcendent album beat out the Queen and everyone died for half a minute. 
The Grammy audience looked a little stunned and then the camera panned to Kanye and Kim just as Kim mouthed, "Who?"
Why was this woman allowed into the Grammys?
Later she posted a picture on her Instagram with John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, all of them mugging for the camera with the caption, "This is the Beck won that award face???"
This girl is number two on the list of most profound assholes on the planet. We all know who number one is. 
John Legend backed away from Kartrashian's irreverent slam, clarifying on Twitter that the picture was taken before Best Album award was even announced and that he has complete respect for Beck. 
And speaking of the most profound asshole, as soon as Beck goes up to accept his award, Kanye storms the stage. 
Storms the freaking stage, taking Beck's moment away from him.
He claims to be kidding, but that same night he is mouthing off in an E interview that Beck, BECK, needs to respect artistry and that Beyonce should have won while Kartrashian and her hulking sister nod in ignorant agreement. 
His backtracking and ridiculous rambling goes on for days once he realizes the world has proclaimed him King of All Things Douchery and none of what he says makes any sense further entrenching him into his Kingdom. 
Just go, Kanye. 
Go to Mars or Antarctica or Branford, Missouri, anywhere where we won't have to listen to another second of your inane douchery. And take the whole plague of Kartrashians and Jenners with you. 
But drop the baby off at my house on the way. And while you're at it, you can leave Bruce with me, too.
In seconds, Bruce and I will have that baby in a pink Barbie dress with an Elsa doll in one hand and a fairy cupcake in the other. Because I know what North prefers and it is not gloomy-ass colors and being dragged around in a fur coat. 
My new anthem in life is Sit Down Kanye. It's my new catchphrase for every idiot who crosses my path. 
Hang on everyone. Take a deep breath. We're almost there. 
Shia LeBeouf takes the stage then and I rub my hands together in gleeful anticipation for whatever crazy Shia is bringing to the table tonight. 
I love that kind of crazy. Shia Crazy. 
Here's my Crazy Guy at one of his premieres. I'm so glad he took the time to button his jacket. Nothing says classy better than a buttoned dinner jacket. 
And if you're not familiar with Shia's kind of crazy and you have more time on your hands than the 24 hours it will take you to read this post and you want a really good belly laugh while saying, "What the hell?" at the same time, check out this interview with Shia where he explains his arrest at the Broadway show "Cabaret" and you will understand of what I speak. He is marvelous in his crazy. 
And Shia does not disappoint. 
He reads a strange, rambling poem about his love for Sia where he proclaims not once, but twice to punch him if he stops crying. The poem ends abruptly with him signing off, "Love Eric."
And I was all, "You still got it, Shia/Eric!Love you, you crazy bastard!"
I was a little let down later when I found out Shia had read a love poem to Sia from her husband Eric which I'm wondering if Eric and Shia are friends because that poem was a little batshit crazy. 
And speaking of batshit crazy. Then we have Sia's performance which once again, she employs some dance kid from that awful lady's reality show, the one where she spends all her waking hours screaming at her tiny dancers and their moms and every stage mom in the world is lining up to get her kid into her studio because apparently screaming at little girls works at making them talented dancers because here is this girl, performing all over the place with crazy Sia. And this time, Kristen Wigg is the guest dancer. I did not know Kristen had mad dancing skills. Seems like Girlfriend can do anything. 
I definitely liked Kristen's interpretive version better than Lena Dunham's performance on the Ellen Show. 
Lena Dunham's performance was weirder than her usual weird. Which is pretty damn weird. 
Lena's interpretive dance was over the top cringeworthy. She must have said to herself, "I'm going to over-interpret the shit out of this dance and make myself look like an idiot." Because that's exactly what she did, with strange facial grimaces and dancing while flinging toilet paper everywhere and some way too exuberant bouncing around. Even my dog looked embarrassed for her. 
After Sia's weirdness, Beck performs with Coldplay's Chris Martin. 
Which, I'm sure Chris's ex wife Gwyneth Paltrow was worked up, too, over Beck's win. She was probably saying to anyone within earshot, "I cannot believe my dearest friend Beyonce didn't win. This is a travesty. Who are these peasants who stole my best friend's award away from her? I need to give my dearest friend some organic essential oils for her pressure points so she can relax from this crushing disappointment."
Because Gwyneth wants everyone to know Beyonce is her BFF. And also, that she's an insufferable idgit.
And actually? I don't blame that insufferable idjit one bit. If Beyonce were my best friend, I'd rent out billboards with our picture on it. 
Beyonce and Blurry, (my stage name) love to eat cake together. I know. It was a bad hair day for one of us. 
But anyway, Beck performs and everyone should stop dying for half a second and listen to how incredibly brilliant and beautiful his music really is. Sit Down, Kanye. 
Then our beautiful Sammy wins Record of the Year and thanks the guy who broke his heart because it spurred him to write "Stay With Me" and make gazillions of dollars and win tons of Grammys and become the world's sweetheart. That, my friends, is the epitome of poetic justice. Good on you, Sammy, good on you. 
And finally, finally the night is almost coming to a close. 
Beyonce comes out to sing a gospel song and I'm all, "Beyonce and gospel? Okay, so this is going to be the Take Me To Church moment."
But sadly, Bey does not take me to church or anywhere but snoozeville which makes me sad because 
Beyonce should always bring it to church, especially when singing a church song. 
And then John Legend and Common take the stage and make everything better. 
Good night of nights! These two men are F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S together. They took us to church and back home and then back to church again!
And by the way? In my next post, I am going to tell you a story about John Legend and me that will make you cry, cry for me, Argentina and all of the Internet. So stay tuned for that one. 
Every time I hear "Glory", which is a lot since I just hit replay over and over again when it pops up on all my playlists, I get all goose pimply and teary eyed just like Chris Pine and David Oyelowo at the Oscars. That little David was so overcome, Oprah had to grab him and give him an Oprah hug. 
Which, don't you think Oprah is most assuredly the best hugger in the world? Her hugs probably feel like grilled cheese dunked in tomato soup on a cold day while you're wrapped in a fur blanket sitting next to a crackling fire while a fluffy puppy gently slumbers on your lap and Mark Ruffalo is snuggled up next to you. 
And you know she probably ends her hugs with a whisper in your ear of "You go, girl!"
If I got a hug from Oprah, I bet I could do anything. 
And that, my friends, is the show and the blessed end of this post. 
Stay tuned for my sad tale of John Legend. 
I'll see you soon. 
Today's Definite Download: Everyone needs to stop crying and give Beck his due. Here is his brilliant, "Where It's At." Listen up and then Sit Down, Kanye. 

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