Monthly Archives of: February 2011

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Building A Mystery….

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I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood full of entrepraneurs, attorneys, college professors, stock brockers, and your occasional drug lord–who lived in the biggest house of all.  Caddycorner from my front porch, I’ve been to witness the comings and goings of the “castle house.”  It sits high on a bluff, standing guard for it’s owners.

Two years ago when our new neighbors moved in, they weren’t overly friendly.  They kept to themselves. They even turned down several invitations to backyard parties.  Odd.  We would often see them walking with their young son and they gave nothing more than a wave, or half a smile.

“He’s a street-level pharmaceutical sales rep,” said another neighbor.  “I knew him in college, and he was then too.”

We went on about our day and spent the next year watching workers pull in and out in their big trucks, gutting the home to make it perfect for the new owners.  They had it wood repainted and brick repointed by the most expensive contractor in town.  Then they put on an entire new roof, and added a garage.  At least $350,000 worth of work one contractor told me.

Then after all their hard work was finished, he was busted with a grow house on the other side of town.

Two weeks later, he got a DUI.

Three weeks later, they fled.  She was pregnant with their second child.

We didn’t hear anything for months, rumors circled around our neighborhood, but the truth came out in the paper once again.  He was apparently found hiding behind a refrigerator in Deleware.  Interesting.  Rumor has it they took a deal, and are now in the witness relocation program, or maybe they fled again.

While they were on the run, the house went to hell.  They didn’t have time to think about much; I’m sure one doesn’t when you are running from the law.  Running for your life.  But they left the water on and the pipes froze during the cold winter months, busted apart, and apparently ruined every floor in the house.  They buckled, fell in, and it was pure destruction.

The house went on the chopping block at the courthouse, and was said to be sold for a song.  It was purchased by a doctor, then much improved before our wandering eyes.  Once again, for over six months, we watched the painters, contractors, and landscapers come and go.

Today my girlfriend came over for some coffee and said in detective style narration, “look who just pulled in,” as she directed her eyes out my front window. It was the crime-scene investigation van, along with two others.  We looked at one another and smiled.  “The plot thickens.”  As we stood there and sipped our Joe, we saw the flooring being delivered in a flatbed.

“Ahhhh.  They just ripped the buckled floors up!” she said.

“Mmmmm. I wonder what they found.”  I raised my left eye, and gave her a little smirk.

Never a boring neighborhood.

 

 

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Ordering In….

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It’s Friday night, so the kids and I ordered in.  Steamed chicken and veggies (no sauce) from the local Chinese place.  That is about as freaky as I get with take out.  After being up since four a.m., this girl was not cooking.  Sorry Martha.

I called it in the moment soccer was over at 7pm.  The last time they said they’d “deliver in forty-five minutes or less.”  It took them 90 minutes.  So I was prepared mentally for that tonight, given it’s Friday night in a college town.

At eight pm they still weren’t here.  At 8:20 after my daughter asked, ”Where’s the Chinese man? I’m starving!”  I decided I would call.

“Mam, I called in an order almost 90 minutes ago.”  I said politely.

“What’s your address?”  The Chinese lady asked me.

“551 White Street,” I responded.

Then there was a fight.  She started yelling, in Chinese, to some guy in the back.  It got loud and ugly, but then again I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.  So maybe they weren’t cussing, they were just discussing.  I started laughing.  It was comical.  After a good solid minute, she got back on.

“Mam, we left it at your dor while ago? We cawed and cawed, no one answered, so we left it.”  She said in her cute Chinese American accent.

That made me laugh even harder.  I hadn’t paid.

“Go luuk by your dor,” she insisted.  “It’s there!”

I opened it up and sure it enough it was there.  That was a first.

I told her I hadn’t paid, although she argued that I had.  Gave her my debit number.  Now she was laughing.

“Leave tip far driver?” She asked.

Hell yeah, considering he left it on good fortune, for sure an even bigger tip, I thought.  Because what really happened was they delivered it in less than twenty minutes, beating me home from soccer practice.

I hung up the phone and unloaded our dinner.  The first ten bites I’m always thinking there’s a possibility that the chicken might be cat.  But if it is, it’s good cat.

Vance lips smacked for the next ten minutes, he didn’t say a word.  Sloane dug into her rice, unassisted at her request, because she swears she turned four while I was away last week, and is now covered from head to toe, ear to ear, in white rice.

“Surprise!” She yelled as she threw a handful of rice into the air. “A rice bomb!”

Crap. The house was just vacuumed.

Thanks Sloane.

I now have to go de-rice her….and find all the tiny white rice kernels in her curly hair.  Tomorrow morning is picture day for dance class, lol.

My fortune:  Recognition is the greatest motivator.

-S

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I hit the Jackpot…On my way home from Vegas

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I just can’t get over what happened to me on my flight coming home from Las Vegas tonight.  It’s 2 a.m. and I should be in bed, but I just can’t stop myself from writing.  But that’s what writers do, we write our best when we are truly inspired.

This morning before I checked out of my hotel I hit the gym and then the steam room after. While I was steaming, I was the only one there, so I decided to make another attempt at meditating.  I focused on breathing in all the good and exhaling all the second-hand smoke I had breathed in over the week.  I really tried to clear my mind and ask, “what is next for me?”  I’m now just about done with my memoir that I’ve been working on forever, and will soon be ready to start another book.

Please, universe, give me something.

Fast forward to flight 933 on Southwest Airlines.  The seating on that airline is a lottery, so you get A, B, or C.  I was A. Lucky me.  I was sure to have a good seat and I selected row 2, aisle.  About ten minutes later a guy excused himself so he could squeeze past me into the middle seat.  After we took off I pulled out my laptop so I could continue to edit my book when really I should have napped.

After I had worked for about an hour the guy said, “Excuse me but are you a writer?”

“Well, sort of.  I’m just about done with my first book, so I don’t know if that make me a writer or not, but I like to think that I am.  I love to write.”  I said, wondering if he had read anything I had written, and hoping not because the chapter I had worked on was a bit heavy.  Not something you want a perfect stranger reading over your shoulder.

He looked at me and said, “I’ve been looking for someone to ghost write a story that I have to tell. You have to hear my story.”

The passion in his voice peaked my interest immediately.

“Oh do tell!” I said.

He went on to tell me the most unbelievable story, more bizarre and exciting than I can say.  I’m still trying to process it all, it’s the kind of story that becomes a blockbuster hit.  It is a national story, it’s been all over the news, and this random stranger, wants me to write it. Everything just seemed to mesh.  What he needed and what I was willing to do fit together perfectly.  He just so happens to live in Pittsburgh, an hour away from where I live.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Fate?  Just maybe.

I listened to his story for over an hour and I was so intrigued.  I couldn’t quit listening and asking questions and he couldn’t quit talking.  He needed an ear, and I needed a story.  I’m not sure where this all will lead but we are meeting next week to talk more and to maybe even have a contract drawn up to get this ball rolling.

I will keep you posted!!

 

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Vegas…..baby…

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I just realized that I haven’t been outside in 48 hours, except to hail a cab from the Hard Rock Hotel to the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas.  I was here for a fashion convention for the first part of the week, and added two days to stay here to work on my memoir that I’ve been writing for the last four years.

As I sit in my hotel, burned out on writing about my life I contemplate what to do here, alone. I’m also kind of laughing for chosing this town to take solace and write.  I should have gone to the Caribbean.  But magically enough, I have gotten tons accomplished by locking myself in my suite and editing away.

I’m probably the only person here solo.  Which just makes me laugh to myself.  The rooms were so cheap they were basically begging me to stay.  Every which way I turned I was handed tickets for half off this or buy one get one free off that.  February is definitely a great month to stay here for nothing.

Do I go see Cirque or another great show?  Carrot Top is still (ten years later) playing in my hotel.  I’m not so sure I can stomach his tacky jokes though.  The Pisces in me says go down, pull out some cash and learn how to play a new game.  Roulette?  Craps?  The sensible side of me says play Blackjack, you already know you’re good at it after having two glasses of wine.  But is gambling at all really that sensible?

I say what isn’t sensible is sitting in this room the rest of the night, alone.  So I’m off to explore, people-watch, and maybe make some money, maybe lose some money.  Either way, I’m in Vegas one last night, where people are living “the American dream.”

It’s hard to stay balanced when you’re in a place packed with smoke, alcohol, nakedness and all night parties.  So I’m looking forward to heading home, breathing some clean air, and cooking my own meals again–and being on a schedule. I can’t wait to see the sun.  Back home it has been 70 degrees and sunny, and here not quite as warm.  Why does that always happen to me when I travel?

Wish me luck, I’m about to roll some dice……I know…I’ve fallen off my balance beam.

 

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One written twice shy…maybe

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I haven’t written in about a week, I’ve been a little typewriter shy.  I posted a blog on RacerXVT http://www.racerxvt.com/article/shannons-world—raw last week and got slightly shredded by some kid for writing on a training website about texting and driving.  It was something that I felt compassionate about and wrote about, but this guy was obviously offended and just didn’t seem to understand how this can affect us all.  Instead he decided to tell the audience how inappropriate my post was and that it was some kind of public service announcement that didn’t belong on the site.

At first I was mortified.  How dare he…. Seriously?  How could someone be so ignorant to the fact that this is a national crisis and he turned it into a slight temper tantrum on a message board? The upside was that a few people came to my defense and said that it didn’t matter what the forum was for this type of column—it needed to be said.

As a newbie in the field of writing I was slightly defeated by his words at first, then uplifted by the people who had my back and felt just as strongly as I do.  I actually wrote my editor for the site and offered that maybe I should change what I write to tailor toward training, considering I do have a background in personal training.  He politely disagreed and said absolutely no way should I change my voice, ever, for some critic that was making no sense whatsoever and that he had invited me to speak about things besides training and racing.  Rather, he wants me to speak my mind, regardless of its direct correlation to motocross.  I thought about his advice and realized he was absolutely right.  So I stand by what I wrote and feel even more compelled to take action as a citizen of this country and its roads to do more about it.

My goal as a writer is to get people to stop and think and to sometimes wake them up (in this case both).  I really wanted to get through to my readers and to get them to make a change with their lifestyle habits, and to hopefully save a life—maybe even their own.  I knew once I posted it I would have to hold myself accountable to never text, email, Facebook, etc., while driving, and it was honestly an easy habit to now follow.  It’s been very liberating not being a slave to my phone and to technology.  When I think about all the mindless, nonsensical texts that I have sent and that others are sending every single second of the day it makes me nervous.  It’s not just teenagers; it’s adults, and parents, and grandparents….  I am seriously paranoid about being in my car because I know I may be one text away from getting hit by someone that just doesn’t give a shit and I carry with me two very precious gems most of the time.

My husband had a few people tell him at the race this past weekend that they had read my post and now think about it every time they go to text while driving….  Yes! I did get through to some people so my words were read and heeded, yet I feel my campaign has only just begun.

In closing, I found out later that the person tearing me up on the message board was only sixteen, which made me feel a little better.  And after it was all said and done, he basically admitted he was just trying to get some attention by stirring the pot.  I don’t even know how to respond to that except to remind him of this: Please don’t text how much you hate this latest post while you’re driving your parents’ car, or anyone else’s car. Wait until you get home to the family computer, pull up a chair, and then let me have it. It’s worth it to me, because that means you really understand the importance of what I had said in the first place. TTYL!

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Texting Takes Lives….

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Do you text and drive?  God I hope not.  And if you do, I hope once you read this post you won’t anymore.  My friend Tim Cryster just posted a video on his facebook page about texting and driving.  It featured three different teenagers who had either lost their own life or killed someone else while texting and driving.  There are so many of us guilty for this.  One of the kids in the video said texting is the equivalent of closing your eyes and driving for 5 to 6 seconds.  Now that’s a reality check isn’t it?

The other day I was almost hit head on because a truck in oncoming traffic was stopped and the car behind him almost slammed into his rear and chose to swerve onto my side of the road.  My first thought was, “they probably didn’t know the guy in front of him stopped because he was texting!”  And I have to admit I’ve almost rear-ended more than one person due to texting and driving!  I don’t do it anywhere near what I used to, but it shouldn’t be done at all while driving–ever!

These texts we are sending are putting people’s/families lives at risk and are things that can wait!  One girl died…the text that killed her said “where you at.”  Another teenager killed someone on a bike because he texted “LOL.”  Texting and driving is beyond ignorant, it’s just down right idiotic—and increases your chance of having an accident by 23%.

I was hit head-on by a drunk driver my senior year of high school.  He was thrown through his front window and I took out the windshield of my car with the back of my head and the dash with my knees.  But me playing chicken with that ignorant human being that night didn’t need to happen.  Everyone in the end was fine but I have to compare texting and driving with drunk driving because they are both senseless acts that can take lives.  I never drink and drive if I have more than one glass of wine—it’s just not worth it!  But why do I even occasionally text and drive?

Tim thank you for posting this video, I hope everyone takes the time to watch this and let’s it sink in.  I’m putting my phone on mute when I’m in my car from now on and will allow it to vibrate when a call comes through—this way I’m not tempted to look at a text until I break my habit completely.  I think we all pick up our phone to read a text impulsively, and reading a text can be just as dangerous as texting.  A friend and I had a recent conversation that has inspired me to start using my Bluetooth again, it’s coming out of the box today.  This is just an added step to be hands-free when I’m behind the wheel.

There are a few ways we can start changing this bad habit.  If you know the person on the receiving end of the text is driving at the time—do them a favor and don’t text them!  Call them if it’s that important.  And if you’re driving don’t text at all unless you are at a red light or your car is in park.  Think before you act; ask yourself, Is this text that I’m about to send really worth losing a life over?

Turn your phone down and turn your music back up.  We are all becoming so disconnected because we are SO connected by technology……

 

http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/The-Dangers-of-Texting-While-Driving-No-Phone-Zone-Video