Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Letter to Rissa

To Me, From Me

Dear Rissa,

Tomorrow you turn 41. One year ago, what a mess you were (but we don't need to rehash that now, do we?). Just want to say a few things to you:

1. I am so proud of you for stepping up to get yourself healthy! You've done it before - remember the trainer? - with great results. This time, however, you did it on your own. And, you're still doing it. 7 pounds in 4 weeks, a tremendous drop in your blood pressure and no additional meds from the doctor. You go!

2. Have you noticed all the things you're doing on your own? You're traveling alone. You're checking out new music around town on your own. You're getting new bands, networking, fostering business relationships and solidifying personal ones on your own. You found that writing class, committed to it and wrote your first short story! All of these seemingly little steps equal one big step for you. Feels good, huh?

3. Along with on your own comes the strengthening of your confidence. Paula said it to you years ago while at CSUN - "Hear me now; believe me later: there's nothing more beautiful than a confident woman." Hell yeah!

4. Love. *sigh* Well...I know love was something you wanted to find and be in this year. No, you didn't find that romantic love this past year. You did, however, find a love that is 100 times better - love of yourself. That love will be with you always.

Tomorrow you turn 41. May this year bring with it healthier days, more stand on your own moments, more confidence and love of all kinds!

I am truly proud of you.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Ohhhhhhh....

It's Over!

Only one more post...and it's over. Good grief! It's the Motels' song come to life: take the L out of Lover and it's over.

Started out love love loving the post everyday for a month. But, now? Pshaw. I am over it. Sorry, NaBloPoMo! It's not you; it's me. And, of course we should do lunch soon! Are ya kidding me?! Call me.

So, NaBloPoMo...I bid you a fond farewell. Fare thee well. Ta-ta for now. Toodles. Latah. I'm out.

You take care, okay?

Warm regards,

Monday, April 28, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ T

Tea Party!

Yesterday, The Girls celebrated my birthday with a lovely tea party at the Vintage Tea Leaf in Long Beach. It's one of my favorite tea houses in Southern Californina ~ overstuffed chairs (which I love), wing-back chairs, love seats, cushions, brocade and paisley in rich luscious colors everywhere. It's like visiting a Grandma's house!

You enter the VTL through a little gift shop - very smart. In the back is a room filled with hats. Hats and hats and more hats! This is where we found Polly, G and Marcia - trying on different hats. Polly had a great black/white polka dot hat in her hand, which just so happened to go with my dress. Of course, I put it on straight away!

Next to the hat room are 3 or 4 racks filled with tea cups and saucers. There were hundreds to choose from ~ floral, Japanese art, bold solid colors ~ gorgeous sets. I chose a pretty purple floral set with 'Happy Birthday' in gold on the saucer and the teacup.

The Tea Mistress made everything easy ~ suggested teas and services, bringing courses out at just the right times. We had scones (she pronounced it sconnz but that reminds me of a wall sconce, not a yummy biscuit) with lemon curd and Devon cream. Ohhh, heaven! I broke my scone into small bites to make it last longer. We had several teas ~ white tea pomegranite, Friends tea, Lady B's Southern Comfort ~ I think we went through 7 pots!

Then, the sandwiches came out. Ohhh, heaven! Blue cheese with apples was my favorite. We also had egg salad, cucumber/cream cheese, avocado/black bean, chicken tarragon salad, roast beef...ohhh, heaven!

And, finally...dessert! The Tea Mistress brought us 3 slices of cake (chocolate heaven, lemon yummyness and peach cobbler goodness) PLUS assorted petit fours. Good grief they were yummy!

As much as I love an afternoon of tea and goodies, nothing beats an afternoon with good friends. The Girls are the easiest relationship I have...and we've been friends for a dozen years. Unbelievable! I love the Girls to pieces! And I couldn't imagine having that tea party with any other group of women. I love you Girls!!

And that was Birthday Celebration, Round 1. Round 2 is set for Thursday - my actual date o'birth.

Y'know, 40 is ending in a great way; 41'll be nothin'!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ I...

I Have Been Called Out! TwitterFriend JNez has tagged me.
And you know I don't back down from a challenge. So...ladies and gentlemen, in the words of Tone Loc - let's do it.

Here are The Rules:
1. link the person who tagged you… (done)
2. mention the rules in your blog… (doing)
3. tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours ("Unspectacular?" That'll be difficult as every one of my quirks is spectacular.)
4. tag 6 following bloggers by linking them (oooh, difficult)
5. leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged (not as difficult if I complete #4)

1) I sleep with my glasses on.
2) Each time I lock my car, I push the LOCK button 3 times, just to be sure.
3) I only wear white, gray, black or beige colored underwear; but wear different colored bras.
4) There are 3 songs I *have* to listen to at least once every day: Roll With the Changes by REO Speedwagon, Sweet Sweet Baby by Lone Justice and Sweet Someone by Don Ho. Yes, each and everyday.
5) Sometimes I can't sleep because I think I'm missing out on something. I keep the TV on and check my email a lot.
6) When grocery shopping, I have to go up and down each aisle. I mean, what if I forget something?

OK...I'm not gonna call out anyone. If you would like to do it, do it. If not, do it anyway ;)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Frosted Eye Shadow Girl

Dear Frosted Eye Shadow Girl,

I'm gonna call you 'Frosty' - do you mind if I call you 'Frosty?' Great thanks.

Hi Frosty! It's me, Rissa. Oh, wait: you don't know me. Hmm...let's it! Hi - it's me, the girl you pushed out of the way at two English Beat shows.'s all coming back to you now, isn't it?

So, Frosty. You're incredibly rude. I first noticed - and fell victim to - it at the English Beat show at the Canyon Club in March. You literally pushed me and Joe out of the way so you could get up on stage. I applaud you because Joe and I aren't little people, y'know what I'm saying? And, I thank you for the elbow in the side of the boobs. Any means to an end I suppose.

Then, last night. Ahh, last night at the Malibu Inn. Pushing your way to the front again, you moved wine glasses and plastic cups to the edge of the stage for the sole purpose of clearing space to haul yourself up again. With the wine glasses teetering on the edge, I moved them back a bit so I wouldn't have broken glass on my legs and feet. You still had plenty of room to drag yourself on stage. But, nooooo. You had to move the glasses back. And push me in the process. No, I didn't push back; the satisfaction of the bassist shaking his head and mouthing 'No' to you coming up on stage was enough. But you couldn't stand it, could ya? Nah. You had to go up anyway. Might I suggest you get your friends together, form a band, and you can be on stage any time you need a little fix.

Well, gotta run. You take care, okay? Oh, hope I didn't hurt you with that little push-back when you came back for Stage Dance, Round II.


P.S. - a little make-up tip - ditch the frosted eye shadow; makes you incredibly old!

Friday, April 25, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Y


Saw the English Beat tonight. Again. Went with the Princess out to Malibu Inn; had a great time. Yay! I really needed to get my happy on.

Did you see the guy who caught a foul ball at a Boston baseball game the other night? Yay! He was doing his celebratory dance/show-off thing, so the camera switched back to the batter. Right as the pitcher is winding up, there's a collective gasp throughout the stadium, the pitcher stops and the batter steps out of the box - the guy who caught the ball dropped it! He's bummin' and the guys with him are laughing hysterically. I looked for the video, but they'd been removed. :(

As much as I love the NaBlahBlah, it's almost over! Yay! Yay! Yay! May's blog topic is voices. I thought about podcasts; but I have no effing idea how to do that. So, perhaps I'll just skip NaBloPoMoMay. to bed! Yay!

Oh ~ my viewer numbers have increased, which means people are reading this lil ol' blog. Yay! Thank you for reading! Feel free to leave a comment; even if you just say hi. Much appreciated!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ X.

Dear Letter X,

You rascal! I got nothin'. I could not wrap my brain around an X blog tonight.

I tried - I really did! BellaStella gave me great leads: X, the band...all I got was, hey, love that song 'Los Angeles' that you sing; or XX, the beer...although I've had it, no good stories associated with it (no bad stories either); and the no-explanation-necessary XXX...which I briefly considered, as I have a homework assignment from Pamela's class in which we had to write about our First Time; and, as much as I love the 9 readers of my blog, my First Time isn't something I want out there - y'know what I'm sayin? I also could have used X as 10, like 10 things about me or whatever. Honestly? I am too tired.

So, X - I give up. You win.

I'm off to catch some Z's


...but you were up to your old tricks in Chapters 4, 5 and 6

Another piece from Creative Writing class ~ end of February/beginning of March is the time frame. Pamela gave us a sentence, upon which we were to build a story. I believe we had 5-10+ minutes for this in-class assignment. It's one of my favorites and truly shows just how much music plays a part in my life. Thanks for indulging me. ~ rd

She looked at the heavens and said "At last the time has come!" She had been waiting her whole life for this. It had been more than 30 years since she recieved the 'message.' And it was happening exactly as she'd been told it would.

Forgetting to put on her housecoat, Maggie ran out the door and up the side stairs to the greenhouse on the roof. "I'm coming. I'm coming. I'm coming," she chanted, clearly focused on the task at hand.

She furiously turned the crank which opened the greenhouse doors. "Open open open open open open" she said with each turn, unconcerned with being out of the house in only her blue cotton nghtgown.

Hooking the chain around the crank handle, so the doors wouldn't close, Maggie whispered her next steps: hybrid rose, grating tool kit, eye shield, lamp.

"Hybrid rose" reaching for the pot; "grafting tool kit" opening the third drawer on the drafting table; "eye shield" turning to the hooks on the wall; "lamp" yanking the cord from the power strip. Maggie cursed herself for not being prepared. Then quickly apologized for appearing to doubt.

She sat on the wrought iron love seat in the cool night air (too excited to notice the chill); mentally reviewing her checklist. Satisfied all steps had been checked off, Maggie looked toward the sky and gasped. It was exactly as the 'message' had said! She smiled and recited the message she had heard all those years ago:

"A gathering of angels appeared above my head. They sang to me this song of hope and this is what They said...They said 'Come sail away. Come sail away. Come and sail away with me!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ W...

What I Like About You...

A colleague waited in my office for my boss to finish a conference call. As usual, my music was...uh...loud. Today was Rocker Wednesday - Van Halen, Rush, Def Leppard and the like. He said he would never have pegged me as an 80s rocker girl. I just smiled and said "Yeah, I get that a lot." He asked what artists I had on my iPod, which lead to 20 Questions.

Four Favorite Van Halen songs:
Jamie's Cryin'
Panama (if only because a friend thought DLR was singing 'Pray to God')
Runnin' With the Devil
Hot For Teacher ('I don't feel tardy.')

Favorite Songs OF ALL TIME:
Sweet Someone - Don Ho (it's a family thing)
Cuts You Up - Peter Murphy
Is it Love? - Gang of Four
I'll Be Good to You - The Brothers Johnson
Tempted - Squeeze

Songs on iPod You're Embarrassed to Tell You Like:
No shame in this game! I have no qualms re: my musical taste.
Mmm Bop - Hanson
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
assorted Spice Girls and one hit wonders
all 3 NYSNC albums + Justin & JC's solo albums

Most Songs by one Artist?:
The English Beat - duh!
Oingo Boingo and Michael Jackson are close behind

I had several of these types of questions - including 'What's your favorite English Beat song?' which is difficult to answer - recorded: Too Nice to Talk To; live: I'll Take You There, Save it for Later and the Ranking Full Stop segue into Mirror in the Bathroom. When my boss finished her call, the colleague stood up and said 'Variety. That's what I like about you, Rissa.'


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Taurus.

Originally written in February 2008, the following story was an in-class assignment: Write about a childhood incident that still reverberates. We had 10-12 minutes to write.

Ahh, Marineland. One of my favorite places!

It was a gorgeous day - though I don't recall the sun or weather. I do recall, however, sitting in the bleachers of a stadium, looking down at a huge swimming pool. OK, it was really a tank; but I had no other frame of reference at age 7.

I was captivated by the dolphins - beautiful sleek creatures, swimming effortlessly; gliding, really. The tricks were amazing - flip, 2 flips, 'walk' through the water on its tail, jump, jump higher, through this hoop, through that hoop. I was enthralled. I was in love!

Daddy asked if I liked the show.

"Oh, yes! Yes I did! I want one please."

Dad laughed that dismissive laugh. I know now that it was dismissive. Then, at 7, all I knew was that it wasn't a No. "Sorry, Little One, we can't have a dolphin at the house."

I rattled off all the pros: we have a pool, we have hoops, I know how to swim. "All I need is the blue suit. And the dolphin."

Dad laughed that dismissive laugh again. I kept pushing. I enlisted Mom, pleading. She simply said "No."

"We have..."
"I know..."
"But Daddy didn't..."

She stopped, turned to me, bent over so her eyes aligned with mine. "No. N-o." I looked pleadingly at Daddy.

"I told you no."

I stood there.

I crossed my arms.

And pouted.

I marched - yes I marched - through the park, arms crossed, still smarting from the No's. I did not speak for the rest of the day.

I guess you could say that was the day I epitomized being a Taurus.

Monday, April 21, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ U...


Upset ~ left work early today due to an upset stomach. Doesn't happen often as I typically have a stomach o'steel. Not today. Came home, slept. Better.

Usually ~ A little over a week until my birthday. I'll be 41. Shut up! I know! (Micah homage :::jazz hands:::) For the past few years, my birthdays have been the cause of serious stress and sadness. This time last year, I was depressed. Ohhh, yeah I was! The prospect of turning 40 was so traumatic; I stressed and suffered for months prior. The actual turning of 40 wasn't so bad - in Hawaii, calls, texts, deliveries, hot stone massage, facial, surfing with firemen, fabulous dinner and champagne. I didn't expect anything bad to happen; I was sad. Well, sad isn't the right word. Bummed? Yeah, that's more like it. I was bummed. I wrote pages and pages in my journal that week in Hawaii...anyway, I'm turning 41 on May 1st. And, y'know what? I'm okay.

Upcoming ~ So, my obsession with Twitter? Yeah. TwitterLA is hosting a meet-up! Woo hooo! I get to meet a whole buncha TwitterPeeps *and* have drinks while I'm doing it. SOCIAL! Woo hoooo! I can't follow the Twitterers I have now; after this MeetUp, I'm not sure WTH I'm gonna do. I'll drink and mingle and have a good time. Woo hoooo!

Upcoming ~ Met Joe, Gentleman of Sophistication & Refinement, at the English Beat show at the Canyon Club last month. Such a fun guy - similar music taste, made similar comments about the DrunkDancingGirls and the idiots dancing on stage. The Princess, The Debutante and I are going to meet-up with him for drinks Wednesday night. Woo hooo! And...the English Beat are playing Malibu Inn on Friday. :) Ohh, they're playing in San Diego my birthday weekend. teeheehee

Upcoming ~ doing the hang thing with Ash, Dawnee and LaLa tomorrow night. Looking forward to it! I love these girls!! It's a friendship I've grown to depend on...

Upcoming ~ Follow-up with my doctor on Monday 4/28 re: my high blood pressure.

OK, back to bed for me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ For the Love...!

Dear NaBloPoMo,

Ohh, how I love you, National Blog Posting Month! Within your parameters, I can blog every day for an entire month, any time I want (not just in November, the official NaBloPoMo). It's a great writing exercise.

But, seriously - IS IT OVER YET?! For the love! I know there are 26 letters, there are tons of letters to be written...but...but...I don't think I can make it. I don't. Ten more days. Ten more days of scrounging for topics. Ten more days of stressing out over what to write. Ten more days. Ten more days! Arrrrgh!

OK. That's all.

~ Ris

Saturday, April 19, 2008

NaBloPoMo - S...


The Princess & I planned to shop at Macy's One Day Sale. Instead, we went to Universal Studios!

OK...stopped at Camachos - two margaritas, chips and salsa. Sufficiently buzzed to take on the park and its people.

The tour is always great; but our guide sucked. We had 2 more beers, hit a ride, walked around and went back to catch the last tour of the day. MUCH better!

Then we hit Cafe Tu Tu Tango - food and another beer; and watched the prom people in their skimpy dresses and uncomfortable suits. I loved it!

Totally buzzed; and done writing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ R is for...

So many R's ~ random, rants, raves, Rissa...I typed in the word 'random' into and found this great site - randomness! I read through a couple of the weekly topics and found this one; it fulfills the 'random' and the 'Rissa' R's. Enjoy...

Fill in the blanks for this week's meme...

1. I always wanted to spend a weekend in NYC, hitting as many Broadway/off Broadway/off off Broadway shows as possible.

2. I really hate it when customer service in a store is so poor that I have to walk out. Make no mistake, I do walk out.

3. My best friend is not just one person. I'm lucky to have a close, core group of friends who know way too much about me - and like me anyway.

4. In high school I was introverted, on the swim & volleyball teams, crushing on a boy named John Lyons and Senior Class President.

5. My greatest fear is in my own mind, which limits me (another fear).

6. My dream job is to own a wine store/wine bar.

7. Some people really should take drivers training again. And again.

8. My favorite author is going to be me!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Q

I couldn't decide which 'Q' to use, so I'll post both. Lucky you.

Last night, I went to Cube with The Princess and the Debutante. Cube is this great cafe/marketplace in West Hollywood; and it's become our celebratory place - birthdays, promotions, new jobs and all things good. The cafe has a wonderful menu, but we go for the cheese and meats. Well, that and the whole no corkage fee! (Which is a rare find in Los Angeles)

Our typical M.O. is to order several different meats and cheeses, have some wine and enjoy. Last night, we let our server, Natalie, choose for us - which I love. I mean, she works there, tries all the cheeses and can make recommendations. Damn if she didn't pick winners last night! Below are the cheeses we deemed 'favorites':
  • Emigrant: cow, Utah
  • Torta de Cabra Don Mariano (renamed 'Dan Marino'): goat, Spain
  • La Tur: cow, sheep & goat (Trifecta!), France
  • Gorgonzola Dolce: cow, Italy (the one we order every time)

We tried lamb prosciutto, white prosciutto, chorizo and - our absolute favorite! - mole salami. Mmm mmm mmm!

The presentation of it all is fun ~ presented on blocks with the names written in chalk and accoutrements like jams, nuts, dried fruit arranged on it. It's fun to find the right pairing - gorgonzola dolce spread on flat bread, a dab of fig jam and topped with a walnut; or flat bread, slice of mole salami, La Tur and apple butter.

2.5 hours, 10 cheeses, 5 meats and 2 bottles of wine later we left happy women! When you come to L.A., I'll take you there.

Q (okay, I couldn't think of a synonym for 'rude' with the letter q, so...whatever)

Decided on Panda Express for lunch today. Went with the Manager and the VP out to Glendale, to the Vons store on Glendale Ave. Panda is inside - never busy; and today was no exception.

VP ordered first. I'm standing at the counter, telling the gal I had 2 to-go orders. Now, normally, in Panda Express, you follow the person scooping your food down the line as he/she moves. Right? So, she's talking to me; the gal behind her is talking to someone behind me. My gal and I both get distracted because the woman behind me is talking loudly. We lean in towards the glass protection so we could hear. And I'm hit with a shopping basket. Repeatedly. Bam. Bam. Bam. "Move. Move. Move." For each 'move' she muttered, she rammed me with the shopping basket. Seriously. I turned around, thanked her and said just a moment, I'm ordering. And she let's loose - I can't see! I want to order, too! You're rude! Move out of my way! Move a little bit! You're rude! I can't see! Can't you move?! I ignored her and spoke a bit louder. That didn't make her any happier. :::shoulder shrug::: As my gal moved, so did I. The woman turned the cart parallel to the counter and rammed it into me again until I moved (well, it was move or fall over) so she could be right in front of the glass. The whole time she's yelling about me.

I'm paying at the last register; she's next to me. As she turns to leave she sneers "Thank you for being so gracious." I look her in the eyes, smile sweetly and coo "Oh, you're more than welcome."

Crotchety old broad.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Pet Peeves

Pet peeves? Minor annoyances? Call 'em what you will, I got a list.

However, I got a situation...

Let's say you have a pet peeve (OK, you have a pet peeve). And, let's say one of your close friends is the biggest offender of said pet peeve. WTF do you do?! Ignore? Mention it? This particular pet peeve is so far to the right that it's really a serious nuisance/bother/annoyance (almost off the charts bothersome) and I really can't stand it.

I'm sure I'll get over it. Maybe. I dunno. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Oh my gosh, I don't believe it

or 'walking through the park and reminiscing' part 2

In 'WTTP&R' , I prepared for, and won, the Miss Tall Los Angeles 1997 pageant. One of my 'duties' was to represent the California Tip Toppers Club at the Miss Tall International pageant, held that year in Clearwater Beach FL.

I had ten weeks to prepare for the Miss TI pageant. Prepare? Prepare for what? I had *no* clue what to expect, other than more questions, more smiling, more walking. I picked a new song, bought a suit for interviews, read and re-read all the questions on the list of pageant questions someone gave me and had a ball gown made. I was going to Florida for free for a week's vacation with a night at a pageant tucked in.

I arrived in time to meet the other contestants at our first rehearsal. There were 13 of us, total. The pageant 'mother' had everything planned out - where to stand, how to walk, how long to stand in one place, blah blah blah. We were arranged so that the tallest of us was in the middle; at 6'10" Ellen was smack dab in the middle. Guess where I fell in line? Yep, right next to her. I was in her armpit! We rehearsed for hours.

As I watched the other women, I tried to pick a winner. We were different shapes and sizes, ages and heights. I always came back to Lori from Houston. She epitomized - to me - the perfect pageant contestant: tall, thin and beautiful. And, of course, she was so effing nice! But because this was the tall club, I figured Ellen was a shoo-in. Winning never crossed my mind. Ever. Again, I was a girl on a free vacation in Florida with a night at a pageant tucked in.

The day of the pageant: the interviews with the judges went fairly well. All of the girls were so confident in how well they'd done. I was pretty sure all my little 'interview tricks' made an impression more so than my actual answers (Trick #1: when the timer goes off say 'Has it been 5 minutes already?' all surprised and whatnot; Trick #2: sign 'thank you' at the end of the interview; Trick #3: shake hands and grasp the clasped hands with your other hand - apparently it shows sincerity; there were others...).

I was Contestant #6, so there was a few minutes of not rushing to get into my talent costume (which really wasn't a costume as I wore shorts, a t-shirt and white Keds). My number was called - I was on deck. I stood there, poised and ready, listening to the audience's collective roar of laughter at Ellen's very clever stand-up routine. She walked off stage to wild applause, whistles and cheers. "Well," I thought, "at least the beginning of my song will have 'em clapping a bit." All of a sudden, I had to pee.

I heard my introduction, waited for my musical cue, then burst through the curtains. It was all bright lights, shadowy outlines of people and loud music. 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang is one of those songs that gets you moving, without realizing it. Why do you think I chose it to sign to! The audience was already clapping as I made my rounds on the stage. I signed the song, taking great care to engage the judges ("It's up to you, what's your pleasure?") and the audience ("We're gonna have a good time tonight, let's celebrate, it's alright!"). At the end, on the advice of Brandy, I blew a kiss and waved the 'I Love You' sign at my mom. Aww...

We did our evening gown 'walk' and, again, I waved the 'ILY' sign at my mom a couple of times. Aww...

It was time to announce the 5 finalists. We're standing on stage, lights glaring, camera flashes flashing, each of us muttering something about paparazzi through our practiced smiles.

:::drum roll:::
Andrea from San Francisco, Lynelle from Silicon Valley, Laura from Chicago, Janey from St. Louis and...Rissa from Los Angeles! Huh? Wha? I wasn't paying any attention, just looking at Ellen, waiting for her to step out of line. One of our escorts backstage had to push me forward.

The 5 of us stood there, smiling for more pictures. We were then escorted backstage while the reigning Miss Tall International took her final 'walk' around the stage. The girls were so nervous. I was so hungry. I was picking at the leftover fruit and cheese platter, looking around for bottled water, grabbing handfuls of M&Ms. I really was not comprehending WTH was going on. Janice, the woman who made my dress, was fixing my makeup and hair, squealing and chatting. The escorts came to get us and we lined up on stage again.

"Fourth runner-up: Andrea!" Clap clap clap.
"Third runner-up: Lynelle!" Clap clap clap.
"Second runner-up: Laura!" Clap clap clap.
"First runner-up: Janey!" Clap clap clap. Screams.

That's the last thing I recall. I don't remember the emcee saying my name. There was a flurry of activity around me - the crown, the robe, the sash, the people, the cameras. Most of my memories of that night I recall only because I've seen the video.

I was Miss Tall International 1997!

I was up most of the night, dancing, celebrating, talking to press. People were congratulating me, wishing me well. I had no idea most of them were liars.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ N is for nostalgic

Saturday night, my brother's kids were dedicated at their church, The Grove Community Church. More than 30 years ago, the Grove was known as Riverside Union Church (eventually becoming Victoria Community Church); and it was where my brother & I went to church.

Every Sunday, we would get up early, get dressed, get a quarter from my Dad for the offering and wait for the church van to come pick us up. It was a huge white and green passenger van with the name of the church painted on the side. Later, it would be an embarrassment to me. But at the age of 7, it was just how we got to church.

Church was incredibly rewarding and painful for me. As a child, it was arts and crafts and songs and snacks; make new friends, play on the playground. When I was old enough to go into the sanctuary for Sunday services, I was always lost in the music - one woman, Lucy, could hit notes higher than Mariah. I loved watching the choir in their robes, listening to the blending of voices. I didn't understand most of the words; and it didn't matter at the time, I just wanted to be swept up in the music and power.

Then, I entered junior high school. I was probably 5'11" by this time - chubby, tall, awkward. And, this was about the time the youth ministry would put on plays, musicals. The church would have 1 or 2 musicals during the year. I started out loving them - costumes, singing (which I couldn't do), acting, lights, stage. I never was a ham; didn't want any attention in my direction than what was already coming my way (you're so tall, blah blah blah). I was more than content to be part of the choir, in the back of course. Until, one day, I was asked to play a part in one show. Whoa. No thanks! I was to be the snake in the Garden of Eden, tempting Adam & Eve. When I declined, I was told I was the only one who could do it because I was so big. Wow. I didn't like that at all. But how could I tell people at church that I didn't want to participate? I didn't know. So, for weeks of rehearsals and two weeks' worth of performances, I was dressed in green pants & green shirt, wearing swimmer's goggles with lenses colored red with a Magic Marker. Luckily I wasn't asked to writhe on the floor like a snake.

Another musical had me dressing as a hula girl. Not as bad as a snake, but as the hula girl I had to sing! Out loud. In front of other people. Ohh the horror! In the rehearsals, the production director had to keep reminding me to sing out loud because I whispered. She told me I had a beautiful voice. But I could hear it.

The final straw for me came when the youth ministry put on a contemporary musical about high school. The music was sooo cool! And there was ONE SONG I really really wanted to sing. I mean really really. Come auditions day, I went in, full of confidence; belted out the song to the best of my (limited) ability in front of the woman who told me I had a beautiful voice. Well, I didn't get it. I was crushed. However, I did get to help move the sets & props around with the boys. I remember the first night of the musical, while the girl sang my song, I cried a little bit.

I'm sorry I didn't enjoy those times more; sorry I wasn't the Rissa I am now so the experience would be filled with more happy for me. I can feel the happy now as I look back, just wish it was more tangible for me then.

I was a snake. LOL.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ just not feelin it today...

Dear You Who Has Stopped to Read My Blog:

I am just not feelin it today! Perhaps it's the weather (close to 100 degrees today - yuck) or so many things I want to write about aren't coming out how I want them to...whatever it is, my apologies for no blog today.

However, I *had* to post something letter-related in order to fulfill my commitment to NaBloPoMo :)

~ Rissa

Saturday, April 12, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ L is for Life


Give it...

The Smile Train ~ you can give life to a child born with a cleft palate by donating; it costs $250.00 to fix ONE CHILD, $250.00 to give life to a child. Dinner last night was $52.00

Free Rice ~ improve your vocabulary and the lives of people around the world

Sustain it...

Kiva ~ support businesses around the world with a $25.00 donation; you choose the country, the business and the owner - and help sustain a community

Strive, survive and share it...

I recently discovered a great blog - thirtydaes - he takes an unapologetic, honest look at his life and shares it. How he shares is so inyourface...I'm floored. I wish I had the guts to strip it all away and lay it all out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ K is for Kobe

Kobe Jumps an Aston Martin

Have you seen this video?! Lenghty discussion this morning on the Kevin & Bean Show on KROQ 106.7 ~ most say it's fake; some say it ain't. I dunno...looks real to me...judge for yourself!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

NaBloPoMo - J is for...


jux·ta·pose [juhk-stuh-pohz, juhk-stuh-pohz]

–verb (used with object), -posed, -pos·ing.
to place close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast.

Juxtapose is a cool word! The look of it. The sound of it. The feel of it. Juxtapose is a word that doesn't roll off your tongue as much as it pushes itself out of your mouth. Say it. Say it! That's right ~ juxtapose. Nice, right? Yeah it is.

Now, for such a cool word, why is the meaning so...uncool? Honestly, I had *no idea* the actual meaning of the word juxtapose. All this time I thought juxtapose was a synonym for transpose (which totally reminds me of transponster ~ Love shout to my FRIENDS hooligans!). No, seriously. I did. "The phone number is wrong? Must have juxtaposed the numbers."

Live and learn, my friends. Live and learn.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ Shawty got low low low low low low low low

Dear Bathroom Designers, Shower Installers and Toilet Manufacturers:

You are the reason I have such bad knees. You have also contributed to some mild back pain. I'm guessing it's some sort of joke or conspiracy theory. Oooh! Maybe it's retaliation. Perhaps jealousy. I'm not sure. I do know it's widespread - it's everywhere I go: Hawaii, Philadelphia, cruise ships, local hotels, Las Vegas (it's rampant in Vegas), work, the gym at work, my parents' home, my own apartment! It's the gum on my shoe. It's my very own bad penny.

What is 'it' you ask? IT is low toilets and shower heads. That's what IT is!

Why are shower heads and toilets so low? Tellmetellmetellmetellmetellme! I need to know.

I need a chiropractor and a massage after I've taken a shower at the gym. I have to do squats to wash my arm pits; deep knee bends to wash my face and hair. From now on, I'm gonna do cardio then head straight for the showers to get my workout.

In case you were wondering, I have the cleanest boobs of any woman I know. Oh, my middle back and shoulder blades are clean, too.

If you refuse to raise the shower heads to a decent height, at least install shower heads that move, adjust up and/or down. I'd love to have a clean chin and neck. Just sayin.

Now, let's talk toilets. I've dug holes in the ground that are higher than some of these toilets! Standard toilet height should be raised to equal that of most handicap-stall toilets. And, while you're at it, talk to your friends and give us ladies more room in the stalls!

So, please - I implore you to do the right thing. Save my knees! Save my twisted back!

Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ a night of volunteering

Dear Downtown Women's Center,

I came to you almost six years ago with a desire to give back to my community. In that time, I have done arts & crafts in the Day Center, taught sign language to residents in the residence lobby, participated in surveys in which I contributed my thoughts about fundraising and the future of the DWC. As much as I've enjoyed each one of these activities, nothing has made (or continues to make) my heart so full as the Cooking Club has.

Moonlight Cooking Club was my very first visit and contact with the DWC. My $20 worth of groceries helped make a meal for 100+ women. It was such a well-oiled machine - tried & true tested recipes, each phase written out in great detail and orchestrated with precision, each person doing his/her part by slicing, dicing, cooking, cleaning. I was so happy and fulfilled, I came back as often as possible.

Now, the WOW group at work is officially linked with DWC - and I couldn't be more proud! I am so glad the group has chosen you as its Community Outreach Partner *and* we have our own Cooking Club. What fun!

I just left the Center; we had Cooking Club tonight - stuffed shells, Greek salad, fruit salad and garlic bread. We had a great group tonight, worked well together and got our shit done in 90 minutes.

Thank you for the opportunity to volunteer.
Thank you for the happy and full heart.

~ Rissa

Monday, April 07, 2008

Procrastination running circles in my head

I should be writing. Well, technically, I *am* writing. However, I should be writing my short story. I’m not.

Last week, I fell out of love with my character. I just wasn’t feeling her at all when I was writing. Our class has been based on developing this character, getting to know him or her, his characteristics, her thoughts and processes. I lived with her for 7-8 weeks, then BOOM! She was gone. A lot of elements I had created for her, I stopped liking. I wanted to change her age, some of her motives and reactions. But, with only one week left of class, I couldn’t fully develop another character *and* write a short story.

I wrote a story yesterday, let it sit, re-read, edited and then scrapped it. I’m not a perfectionist per se; the story just wasn’t where I wanted to go. By completing the story so soon, I second-guess, question, debate and change. So, I should be writing another one now. I’m not.

What I may do is flesh-out my secondary character a bit more and write a story around her. I don’t know!

I should be writing right now. But, I’m not. Procrastination running circles in my head...

NaBloPoMo - Dear John...

I had this conversation with a Mormon friend of mine ~ lo and behold! ~ a 'Dear John' letter to a missionary ON A MISSION! I doubt someone would be so cold...still, it made me laugh (hope I don't go to hell for that).

(names and places have been changed)

Dear Belle,

I want you to know that you mean the world to me. I will always treasure the moments we spent together, and I know we will have many more of those moments in the future, considering that I'm marrying your sister Claire in two weeks! Yeah, isn't it crazy! We had wanted you to come to the wedding, but we decided we couldn't wait that long. We're getting married on May 6th in the Temple.

I know you waited for me on my mission and I promised to wait for you, but I know God had something better in mind for both of us. But we're thinking that we might name our first daughter after you. That would be nice, wouldn't it? I hope we can still be really good friends, otherwise Clair would feel bad.

Anyways, have a great day!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

walking through the park and reminiscing...

When I moved to Los Angeles, I knew one person - my roommate, Peggy. As she spent most of her time with her boyfriend, I was left to acclimate alone. One night, during a tearful phone conversation with a friend from home, I learned about the California Tip Toppers Club, the tall club of Los Angeles. Laugh, snicker and mock - go ahead. This group gave me life.

When I joined in 1995, I was shy, unsure and introverted. As I became more socially involved in the club, met people and made friends, the true me began to emerge. I felt comfortable and secure and confident which, up until I'd moved and joined the club, were foreign to me.

In the winter of 1996, I was approached by Debbie, the club's reigning Miss Tall Los Angeles. She was recruiting women to participate in the pageant. I didn't even bother to suppress my laugh. Seriously. I'd never seen a girl who looks like ME in ANY pageant. Ever! I relayed the story to Marie. As I laughed, she remained silent.

"What are you afraid of, Ris?"
"People. Humiliation. Swimsuits. Humiliation. And, embarrassment!"
"Think about it." Her parting words.

I did. I thought long and hard. I called Debbie every few days, peppering her with questions, demanding details, every single detail this pageant involved. When I was guaranteed there was no swimsuit involvement, I seriously considered. I had moved to LA with every intention of trying new things. I had allowed myself to be stiffled by Sean, allowed him to dictate my day, my feelings, everything. Time to think and do and feel for myself, damn it!

"OK, Debbie, I'll do it." Ai yi yi! WHAT am I doing?!

A woman was brought in to 'coach' us - Brandy. She helped us (there were to be only 3 contestants) with all the pageant stuff as she was a former judge and coach to the Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen franchises. I guess she knew WTH she was talking about. So, I practiced walking, practiced sitting, practiced my appropriate pageant answers, even practiced smiling! I thought of it like my debut - the new me.

The day of the pageant arrived ~ April 20, 1997. We had individual interviews with the judges. I'm much better at conversation, casual chats. These pre-set questions the judges were asking were truly absurd. But, I put on my pageant smile, recited the pageant answers and played along.
I wasn't really afraid of the interview part. It was the TALENT portion of the program that had me shaking. I had rehearsed only a handful of times with Peggy and twice with Brandy & the other two contestants. I didn't show Debbie or her pageant helpers my 'skit' but all were well aware of what I would be doing - a song in sign language. Debbie chastised me "How can we help you if we don't see what you're doing?" "It's sign language. Do you know sign language? Would you know if what I did was right or wrong?" That silenced her (though she would critique and chastise me regarding everything else I did). The song was 'Finally' by CeCe Peniston, an up-tempo, fun song. I had the crowd clapping along, my family was going crazy and the judges had huge smiles on their faces. It was a total rush!

When all was said and done, I had won. Shut up, I know! (to brazenly quote Micah) I was Miss Tall Los Angeles 1997.

It was the beginning of a year that would lift me up, crush me, show me who my true friends really were and lead me to discover a wonderful new person.

NaBloPoMo - I'm not in love, so don't forget it

I am crazy about you - and you have no idea.

There. I said it.

When I'm around you, my brain disconnects making it impossible for words to come out. And if words *do* escape, I'm not sure any sense can be made! Sometimes I want to open up to you, tell you how I feel. But, let's be honest - I'm too scared. I've been open and honest with you about a lot of things; just not this. Maybe you already know...

One day, I'll be brave and blurt it out during one of our long talks. Until then...


Saturday, April 05, 2008

NaBloPoMo ~ from my Dad

"Little One,

You need to take better care of yourself. You were doing so well with your trainer - Mom & I know you can do it on your own. I'm proud of you for going back to the gym.

When are you coming back uptown?


Friday, April 04, 2008

I don't need this pressure on...(update)

Y'all know I have five weeks to get my blood pressure down/under control, right? Right. This week, I started back to the gym, joining the one on the Lot because, quite frankly, it's convenient. I mean, get to my office, park, walk to the Lot, workout, shower, dress, walk back to my office. Done. Handled.

Anyway, I worked out 3 of the 5 days this week ~ yay me! I've created a pretty good routine: at the gym by 6-6:15 a.m., cardio, arms or legs, abs and back, cardio again, cool down then hit the showers at 7:30. Excellent! And I only forgot to bring shoes once.

Just took my blood pressure: down 30+ points from the ridiculously high reading last week at the ER. Nice! It's still high - I totally recognize that! - but it's coming down. Relief.

As far as food goes...sigh...I've really become conscious of sodium in food. And it blows. Things I think would be okay to eat? Yeah, not so much. It's tough; this girl loves to eat.

Well, I'm doing it. I am. I'm totally proud of myself :)

NaBloPoMo: M.L.K.

...a shot rings out in the Memphis sky...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

NaBloPoMo: C is for Creative Writing Class

Next week is my final Creative Writing class. I can't believe it! We started in January; it's now April. Time sure has flown by...

This class has truly been a godsend ~ the teacher, the women in the class, the writings. Pamela has created this environment that allows me to be open, to share and feel safe in doing so. I love her active participation in my writing assignments: laughter, nodding in agreement and/or recognition, the "mmm hmm mm" when I've turned a clever phrase. She praises and she suggests; she encourages and allows. She brilliant in every sense of the word - strong, smart and shining.

The women in the class are phenomenal! There are only 7 of us, ages ranging from early 20s to late 50s. One woman has a Masters in Creative Writing, another just decided she'd like to try writing. We share anecdotes after each story assignment is read as it's inevitable that one of us has had a similar experience to one we've just heard (whether the story is true or crafted). Each of us has opened up, written about painful bits of her life, shared secrets. It is truly inspiring.

My writing has improved immensely! I am sooooo amazed. I've developed 2 or 3 characters to feature in a short story (our final assignment due next week ~ EEEK!), I've written descriptive stories in 10-15 minutes which have drawn kudos & laughs, and I've slowly sharpened my writing style. Most importantly, I've learned to just write. It's wonderful!

I've developed friends, admirers and confidence in my writing. A godsend; definitely a godsend.

Maybe I'll share one or two of my writings...maybe my short story...ooooh!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

NaBloPoMo: Letter B

The clips below are two of my favorites and both are about the letter B ~ enjoy!

the Beetles ~ Letter B

Do You Know Where I Wanna B?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

NaBloPoMo: I send a message - I hope it gets through

National Blog Posting Month is on! Eden's brilliant idea to have monthly themes has caught on. Well, not with me (yet) but I'm gettin' on board - ::in my best Pips impression:: Woo woo!

April's theme ~ letters.

Dear You,

Thank you for reading my blog. Whether you read on a regular basis or just clicked through on a link some place, I appreciate you.

I love writing; this blog gives me a great creative outlet - crafting a story, turning a clever phrase, etc. It's also a connection and interaction with you.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, especially - it means a lot to me!

~ Reese