Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Some of my favorite segments

This morning, I woke up to learn that four segments I produced in 2013 for KING 5 New Day Northwest (aka: my day job) were included in the Top 5 segments that aired this year. While I'm proud of each and every segment I've produced in my nearly three years at the show, as well as the four included in the Top 5 list, I started thinking about guests and topics who really touched me in 2013. They may not have gotten as many shares or views, but they're definitely worth another look.

Here they are, in no particular order:

YOU'VE GOT IT ALL WRONG (June 3, 2013) - students at Scriber Lake High School wrote and published a book of essays (title above) sharing some of their most painful experiences to date. Three of the students took part in the interview, while the rest of the student authors sat in the audience with their teacher Marjie Bowker and author mentor Ingrid Ricks. This segment is definitely worth another look - and the book is definitely worth reading.

SUPERHERO CREATOR AARON D'ERRICO (August 27, 2013) - Aaron D'Errico shared the inspiration behind his new superhero Ammon, as well as his search for an artist to bring his character and storyline to life. Watch the segment and prepare to be truly inspired. P.S. - Aaron is still looking for an artist (and is willing to PAY). If you know someone, send them my way.

MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT, ARMY SSG TY CARTER (October 1) - Watch the segment. That's all I have to say. What an incredible human being.

FOREFRONT - a new suicide prevention organization (September 9) - University of Washington professor Jennifer Stuber and suicide prevention expert Sue Eastgard returned to New Day Northwest to introduce their new organization, which was created following the suicide of Jenn's husband, a prominent Seattle attorney. Watch the segment - then click on the link to watch the original segment, which Jenn insisted on doing the day before the one year anniversary of her husband's death. I have no words.

LOVE TO CHEER  (December 4) - Another powerful segment. This one features Everett Silvertips Assistant Coach (and former team captain) Mitch Love, who teamed up with The Everett Clinic to provide a respite for people undergoing treatment for depression and other mental health challenges. The "Love to Cheer" program pays tribute to one of Mitch's good friends and longtime Silvertips season ticket holder, who committed suicide last year. 

DREAMFEST (September 9) - Louie Galarza, better known as "Louie G" in music circles here, hosts an annual concert/fest at his famed pizzeria in Fife to benefit the Burned Children Recovery Foundation. Louie and Terry McCarty, a burn survivor who was helped by the BCRF (and is now a firefighter!) joined us for this memorable interview, as well as a stellar performance from two members of the band Amadon.

"Grimm" - Guess the Wesen game (October 24) - I had the privilege of interviewing Silas Weir Mitchell ("Monroe") and Russell Hornsby ("Hank") from "Grimm" when they were in Seattle early in the fall. In addition to the regular questions about the new season, we played a fun game of "Guess the Wesen," featuring a number of northwest notables. I won't spoil the surprise. You just have to watch (and let me know whether you agree).

DAVE COULIER (May 10) - SO. MUCH. FUN. Of course, who wouldn't love Uncle Joey from "Full House"? Plus, I got to sneak in a pic of him playing hockey as a kid, and he shared a story about his "good friend" Gordie Howe and his love of the Red Wings.

CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY LAWFORD (March 18) - I think what I love most about him is his open and honest approach to life, warts and all. No question was off limits. The most touching part happened after the show, when I overheard him calling his girlfriend to tell her how it went. He wrapped up the call by saying fervently, "I effing love you SO MUCH!" (he actually said "effing")

LAWYER MILLOY (November 12) - Forget the stellar college football career. Forget the Super Bowl ring & All Pro career with the New England Patriots. Lawyer opened up about his upbringing and the role his high school football coach played in helping keep him on a positive path. He also shared why he's giving all the proceeds from his 40th birthday bash to his high school football booster club. But his shock at receiving a birthday cake and having the audience sing to him completes this memorable segment.

JAY AND TRUDI INSLEE (October 3) - I'm not politically minded. I don't vote party line and never have. However, the chance to produce this segment featuring Washington's new Governor and First Lady was so much fun, mostly because no topic was off limits. And the pictures....

TONY JUNIPER (August 1) - This world-respected environmentalist (Prince Charles is a close friend and co-author) is the perfect person to teach us about the world around us. He speaks and writes in language even **I** can understand and absorb, and is interesting, to boot! 

AN INCREDIBLE STORY OF FORGIVENESS (October 3) - I didn't really "produce" this segment. I just kind of helped shape it. Our host, Margaret Larson, produced it. She traveled to Rwanda with Kari and Tom Costanza from World Vision, to document personal stories as the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocides draws closer. They shared one of the powerful stories they captured, which illustrates the power of forgiveness in a way I don't know I'd have the strength to do.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Matching Purse and Shoes

This is my attempt at levity, because if I sink down any lower, I will end up in China (or whatever land mass is directly on the other side of the world from where I sit right now- I’m too lazy to look it up).

I found a photo of me dressed smartly in a light green spring coat, ruffly white hat, white socks, black mary janes and matching purse. As you can see, I look ever so thrilled to be a pint-sized fashion plate. This photo was among several of me dressed quite fashionably - and looking quite dour.

My mother tried. Oh, how she tried! She could have turned the photos of me into catalogs advertising smart clothes for tots. But among the smartly-dressed photos, are other snapshots. One features me wearing a frilly dress, plopped down in the middle of a dirt pile, white hat askew, legs splayed, a joyous grin on my face. Another shows me in a matching coat and hat (winter white, with rosebud buttons (gag). In one photo, I’m standing stiffly. In the next, I’m crying, my mouth wide open in a howl of misery. And so on. And so on. You get the picture.

I don’t know how old I was when my mother finally gave up on me. The photos stop after I reached age 8 or 9, so maybe then. No… wait. I remember a photo of a 10 year old me, hair cut in a shag, wearing a purple mini dress dotted with orange, yellow and white geometric shapes. I have white patent leather shoes and a goofy smile, hiding my true thoughts (“Kill me, please!”).

The last time my mother bought me anything frilly, the year was 1988. I was going to my first Grammy Awards, representing our small jazz & classical record company (one of our artists, Louie Bellson, was up for an Grammy <which he won>). The Grammys were taking place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. My mom bought me this frothy concoction that fell to just below my knees. It was an iridescent green, sleeveless, v-neck, cinched waist, full, flowy skirt. I told her it didn’t fit and took it back to Macy’s to exchange it for a severe suit-dress. I convinced myself that it was more “practical” and that I could get several wears out of it. My mother was disappointed, but agreed that I had made a smarter choice.

The night of the Grammy's, I never felt so underdressed. I spent the entire evening longing for that frothy green dress. I longed for that dress even more when I found myself sharing the red carpet with U2 to walk from Radio City to the Hilton Hotel for the after party.

Oh, I got several wears out of that suit-dress. In fact, I still have it packed away. But I still think of what might have happened had I let myself be more feminine, for just one night, and wonder, what would it take now, for me to trade my jeans and t-shirt for a frothy green dress

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Charmed Life?

I've been sitting here, trying to work but instead, looking back at my life and all the mistakes I've made. I can see you nodding your head knowingly. You've sat where I sit, thinking about the times you fucked up something or another. Some of you may want to jump in now and tell me it's not good to look back in regret. Believe me when I say I don't really regret any decisions I've made. Wrong or right, my choices have helped shape the person who's sitting here right now, listening to Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Neil Young while ruminating about my past.

I thought about some of my more boneheaded decisions, like:

  • the one night stand with a DJ at L'Amour that turned into a full-fledged "if I can't have you, no one else can" type of scary stalking situation (two of my bulkier friends had a "friendly" chat with the guy and convinced him he was better off forgetting about me); 
  • being homeless for nearly 2 months with my friend Rebekah; squatting in a condemned building in alphabet city, which was fully furnished, although there was no electricity and only cold water (we got coffee and day-old bagels for free from the counter guy at the diner in Astor Place, who had a crush on Rebekah)
  • holding a "package" for a guy who turned out to be connected to the mafia, but who, to me, was a very sweet friend who brought me exotic flowers "just because" and signed every card "I love ya lots and lots," even though we were never romantic (I never peeked inside the package and was extremely relieved when he showed up four nights later to retrieve it); 
  • riding the subway home from Bay Ridge to Manhattan at 2am. This was the 80's and even though the Guardian Angels were out in full force, they couldn't be everywhere, especially at 2am on a Saturday night (I made it home safely); 
  • overdosing on cocaine and having a grand mal seizure, even though I'm not epileptic, and having the friend I was with at the time run out on me (luckily, he ran smack into another friend who rushed me to the ER, where doctors saved me and told me how lucky I was I didn't die that night);
  • being the "other woman" in an extremely unhealthy relationship for nearly two years (the guy's fiancee stopped me in the street and announced, "since he started seeing you, he's stopped seeing all the other girls. If I had to choose between sharing him with the other woman or sharing him with you, I choose you." To which I replied, "you're really fucked up." and walked away. I stayed with him another six months after that confrontation)
  • having crushes on guys who knew, but never took advantage of me. In fact, some became protective of my naivete and did their best to keep me out of trouble.
  • being propositioned by several guys in bands and turning them down with no hard feelings (I later learned that one of those guys died of AIDS - we'll never know whether he was infected at the time)
  • walking away from a car accident that should have killed me, sporting serious but not life-threatening injuries (not being melodramatic here; those were the detective's exact words)
  • I can think of a number of other things to add to this list, but I think you get the idea. 

One common thread I see when I walk down Memory Lane is how I emerged pretty unscathed by every experience. Okay, I still carry some emotional scars, but physically, I am pretty intact. 

But how? How did I not fall victim to muggers, rapists, the mafia (or worse)? 

I honestly have no idea. 

But as I sit here, my feelings about the mistakes I've made are transforming into gratitude for the way things turned out. I'm a bit battle-scarred and there are some things I'll never learn to let go of, but on the whole, I'm healthy, fairly sane and have a enough memories and material to fill a couple of bookshelves.

One day, I'll learn who I should thank for this charmed life.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Updated w/ more numbers! A moment of weakness sparks a nightmare

A couple of weeks ago, while feeling desperate and anxious, I filled out an online request for a payday loan. I must confess, I've done this before, but usually with a certain site I knew and trusted. This time, it was late at night and I felt as though I was running out of options. So, I filled out a request and waited for an approval. What happened next has been nothing short of a nightmare.

Not only did I *not* get the funds I requested, my cell phone blew up with phone call after phone call, from a variety of phone numbers. The first day, my phone rang every 2 minutes - each time, a different phone number. I answered the first few, stating firmly, "I'm no longer interested. Please don't call me again." Male voices with the same accent tried to speak over me, but I repeated, "Please don't call me again," and hung up.

As I said, calls came in every two minutes. By that afternoon, I was beyond annoyed. I called AT&T and changed my phone number. Finally, bliss.  Or so I thought.

The next day, my phone was quiet until noon. Then, the calls began again. This time, spaced about an hour or two apart. Several were for the person who had the number before me, including a man claiming to be the sheriff of Lamb County, Texas with a warrant for her arrest. 

I've looked up every number that's called and most turn up on websites posting scam phone numbers, chock-full of complaints from others who have received either threatening calls or hang ups. I filed a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General's office and included every phone number that's called my phone, hoping this will help leave a "paper" trail. I've added my complaints to others at various websites. I've also filed fraud alerts with the credit bureaus, because I did share all of my personal information on that website - everything an identity thief would need to have a party at my expense.

I know there are payday lenders out there who are legitimate. I've used some of them in the past. No matter how much they're vilified in the press, I know they provide a necessary service. And unfortunately, with every legitimate company comes dozens of scam businesses run by scumbags who are out to make a quick buck - and sickos who get off on terrorizing emotionally vulnerable people.

I've shared my frustration with a few friends, too embarrassed to go more public about this. I mean, who applies for a payday loan online? Not smart, savvy professionals like me, right?

Maybe so.

Maybe you'll read my post and scoff, thinking, "How stupid could she be, doing something like that?" Maybe you'll shake your head, thinking, "She's a journalist, for goodness sake. She's covered stories of others who have fallen victim to scam artists."
Maybe you'll read with embarrassment, thinking, "I did not want to know this about her."
Or maybe you'll read this and feel uncomfortable, or relieved, because once, in a moment of weakness and desperation, you, too, filled out an online payday loan request.
Maybe your attempt was successful.

Or maybe, like me, you fell victim to scammers who have harassed you night and day with constant phone calls. To you, I say, you are not alone. I know exactly how helpless you feel. I felt the same way until this morning, after ignoring 4 calls between 9:19am and 10:16am and adding 3 numbers to my "blocked numbers" list. I fumed, wondering how the hell these people found my new number (they buy the info) and it occurred to me, I DO have the power to do something about this. I can write about it. I can list every fucking scam number that has called my phone, all in one place, instead of spread out among several complaint websites (I'll link those, too). I don't expect anything groundbreaking to come from this, but it'll give me a good feeling to get these phone numbers out of my phone directory and out there for everyone to see.

Here they are. If you catch a repeat, please let me know. I think I caught them all, but my eyes are fallible. If you recognize any as numbers that have called and harassed you, please share them in a comment. If nothing else, this can serve as a warning to others. 

  1. 206-136-4143
  2. 206-801-1847
  3. 714-620-3739
  4. 888-354-1579
  5. 202-621-5429
  6. 206-238-0875
  7. 806-496-3434
  8. 561-424-0845
  9. 425-336-8099
  10. 011-922-138-1525
  11. 414-877-1580
  12. 888-819-5393
  13. 877-252-0995
  14. 866-761-8970
  15. 651-333-4114
  16. 407-203-7250
  17. 206-818-4499
  18. 954-375-2567
  19. 768-116-8163
  20. 888-470-4695
  21. 202-666-2701
  22. 845-638-6984
  23. 414-877-1413
  24. 888-287-6634
  25. 206-745-5171
  26. 888-202-1097
  27. 917-259-6808
  28. 781-925-4606
  29. 512-290-3009
  30. 909-666-8382
  31. 972-123-4771
  32. 866-598-1100
  33. 815-687-8555
  34. 801-893-3013
  35. 312-473-6994
  36. 917-775-8783
  37. 718-555-5444
  38. 786-406-6107
  39. 818-745-3175
  40. 786-406-6107
  41. 845-764-9442
  42. 781-925-4606
  43. 662-550-6283
  44. 512-290-3009
  45. 616-805-6157
  46. 253-236-2343
  47. 401-648-7436
  48. 646-396-8138
  49. 960-688-3439
  50. 877-333-7195
  51. 651-333-4095
  52. 877-252-0995 
  53. 754-816-7495
  54. 458-206-0166
  55. 603-457-1456
  56. 202-987-6543
  57. 646-653-7942

Internet Crime Complaint Center (FBI)
CallerCenter.com (to report scam numbers and read other complaints about those numbers)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sweet Lou, Don Mattingly, Mike "Pagalulu"... and my Mom

My mom was a rabid New York Yankees fan. She embraced the team wholeheartedly when she moved to the US with my dad from Korea in 1963.

Forget that she barely knew English.
Forget that she barely knew baseball.

Her new father in law (my Grandpa) was the biggest Yankees fan on the planet (or at least, Edgewater, New Jersey). He found a willing recruit in the petite woman his son brought home as a bonus from a stint serving with the Army in Seoul. Forget that her husband was a Dodgers fan (Brooklyn, then Los Angeles). My mom saw the Yankees pinstripes and was hooked from day one.

As her command of the English language grew, so did her knowledge of baseball and her love of the Yanks. Her favorite players were Lou Piniella (as a player, then later as manager- we used to take "Sunday drives" past his house), Don Mattingly (I gave her a Cabbage Patch doll dressed in Yankee pinstripes for Mother's Day one year. She named him "Donny Jr." and held him at every game she watched. I inherited "Donny Jr." when she died), and, as she called him, Mike “Pagalulu”.

I have to insert a confession here. I, too, am a Yankees fan. I’m not as rabid as my mother and there were times I didn’t know the entire starting lineup (let’s just say my brain was a little addled at times, with help from foreign substances). My favorites (Bucky Dent, Rick Cerone <-circa 1970's) were not the same as hers. And although I was very familiar with Donnie Baseball and Sweet Lou, my unfamiliarity with a certain other player leads to the story that is being recorded here for posterity.

The year: 1985. A friend set me up on a blind date with this guy I had admired from afar. His name was Will and he was a surfer. Okay, he was really a waiter (but he surfed on the weekends). He was tall, sandy hair, nice build. (Ladies, you get the picture). Very athletic and into sports. So was I. Except… my sports knowledge lay with the New York Giants at the time, not the New York Yankees. Still, I decided to “borrow” from my mom’s expert ramblings in an attempt to match his enthusiasm for the Bronx Bombers.

Things got off to a good start. I knew enough about Sweet Lou and Don Mattingly to keep the conversation going. Then, I got a little cocky.

Me: Oh yeah, and let’s not forget third base. Mike Pagalulu

Will: Who?

Me (coyly): You know. Mike Pagalulu

Will (scorn creeping into his voice): You must mean Mike PAGLIARULO

Me (face burning beet red by now): Oh. Yes. Of course, that’s what I meant.

If I remember correctly, our date ended about 10 minutes later. That’s how long it took to get the check and leave the beachside cafĂ©. I remember it had been a balmy night and I was sure we would have walked on the beach after dinner, had things gone well. Not a word was spoken during the drive home. I didn’t even get the customary, “I’ll call you.” Wow. Who knew that Yankees fans could be so damn prickly?

The next day, my mom asked me how the date went. I told her it went fine, then paused, trying to figure out the best way to broach the topic of Mike “Pagalulu.” Finally, I just went for it.

Me: Mommy, I have to tell you something. You’ve been pronouncing a player’s name wrong.

Mom: What you talking about? What player? Who player?

Me: Mommy, the third base guy. His name is Mike PAGLIARULO, not PAGALULU.

Mom: That’s what I say. PAGALULU

Me: No, Mommy. Listen to me very carefully. pa-glee-ah-ROO'-low

Mom: That’s what I say. PAGALULU

Me: No, really. Listen: you’re saying: PAGA-LULU. It’s really: pa-glee-ah-ROO'-lowShe started to get annoyed.
Huffily she said, THAT’S what I SAY: PAGALULU

I gave up. “Okay, Mommy.” And I went to do the dishes.

As I worked, I thought about Will and how uptight he had become because I mispronounced a player’s name. I wondered what else would he get uptight about.

What Flag Day means to me

(Written on June 14, 2013)

When I see an American flag:
  • I remember military bases in Virginia, Texas, South Korea and (then) West Germany.
  • I remember my dad stopping the car at 5 (or 6)pm every evening if we were driving on post at Fort Belvoir so we could get out, stand at attention and listen to taps as the flag was lowered for the night. I remember the cannon boom that was the signal for us to get back in the car and continue driving.
  • I remember four years without my dad as he served two tours in Vietnam and I lived in Korea with my mom.
  • I remember 3 elementary schools in 4th grade, 3 junior high schools in 8th grade (in two countries) and my dad extending his tour of duty in Germany so I could graduate with my friends instead of finishing senior year at another stateside post with kids I wouldn’t know.
  • I remember friends following in their parents’ footsteps and enlisting in the military.
  • I remember visiting one friend at West Point several times, including a memorable weekend surrounding the Army-Navy football game.
  • I remember working at my first TV station when the first Gulf War broke out. I remember anchoring hourly cut-ins to update the war (even though I’m a producer). I remember editing video of US troops in Kuwait at sunrise, while a radio in the newsroom played the Oleta Adams song “Get Here” and realizing how fitting it was for the situation.
  • I remember singing the National Anthem at a UAH hockey game versus West Point the night the ground war broke out and having a near-capacity crowd at the VBCC sing along.
  • I remember writing stories about US troops losing limbs and lives.
  • I remember September 11, 2001
  • I remember working at my final TV station when the second Gulf War broke out.
  • I remember watching constant newsfeeds from CNN and NBC, along with everyone else in the newsroom.
  • I remember watching CNN even when I wasn’t working.
  • I remember watching an NBC reporter I’d worked with in Miami and was fortunate to have become friends with, report live for hours from onboard a tank as the US military crossed into Iraq.
  • I remember reading that my friend had died from blood clots formed from sitting in the same position for hours as he reported live for hours from onboard that tank.
  • I remember writing countless stories about countless casualties.
  • I remember our reporters placed in the difficult situation of trying to interview families of servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price for defending our country.
  • I remember days, weeks, months, years of coverage as the war dragged on and on in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • I remember “Mission Accomplished” - but not really.
  • I remember producing interview segments with servicemen and women who suffered physical, emotional and mental injuries as the result of numerous deployments and not enough support.
  • I remember producing interview segments with mothers who lost their sons in Iraq or because of it.
  • I remember producing an interview segment with a young soldier who worked through his own demons - and remember his lost brother by painting scenes that were both violent and beautiful.
  • I remember producing segments with organizations that work tirelessly to help give wounded warriors and their families the help and support they desperately need.
  • I remember my father’s veterans benefits shrinking as he struggles with health challenges after giving nearly three decades of his life to Uncle Sam.
  • I remember teenagers enlisting in the military, knowing yet not fully realizing the challenges they face in this changing world.

When I see the American flag flying from every federal and public building, and in many front yards, I remember the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating our Star Spangled Banner.

And I think, the words “THANK YOU” seem insignificant to express the gratitude for centuries of victories, sacrifice and loss that have gone into keeping Old Glory flying.


(written: May 5, 2007)


That’s what she wanted us to call her, no matter how old we got.
She was strict.  She was hard.  She was tough.  And dammit, did I love her!  I pushed all her buttons, and I know she pushed mine.  Criticized me, but praised me behind my back.   She didn’t want me to get big-headed, you see.

I triggered her temper on many occasions.  I seemed to have the knack for it.  “Who pissed Mommy off again?”  “Susan.”

I wanted her approval desperately.  I never knew that I’d already had it.

She hated heavy metal, but she came to see my first band.  We played originals and also covered Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Ozzy.  That night, I forgot the words and swore into the mic, “Shit, I forgot the words to this song.”  She didn’t leave.  After the show, she said, “I don’t know how you stand it!”  To her friends, she said, “My daughter sings in a band.”
I appeared in a video for a band called Raven.  I was in the crowd.  You could only see the back of my head and my arm.  I caught her pausing the video to show a friend.  “That’s my daughter’s head.”

I got a job as a secretary at CBS.  I got the chance to get her and her bowling team tickets to “The Price is Right.”  They got the royal tour. Mommy was treated like a queen.  Her friends told her, “Your daughter must have an important job at CBS.”  She said, “My daughter is very important.”

I got hooked on cocaine.  I lost my job, lost weight, lost hair.  I lived in an apartment without power for several months, ashamed to go home and show my family what I had become.  My father begged me to come home. I finally did.  My mother said, “What did I do wrong that my daughter is on drugs?”  She didn’t say, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I promised her that I would never do it again. That was almost 19 years ago and I haven’t touched the stuff.

I couldn’t hold down a job.  I had the reputation of staying for a year at a time, then getting bored and moving to another job.  My mother called me “Queen of the Part Time Jobs.”  But she didn’t kick me out of the house.

I moved to Alabama, got a job in TV news.  I got promoted, again and again.  One year stretched to two, three, five.  Mommy was proud. I was moving up at the TV station.  But she missed me, she said. “Come home.”  I said, “No, Mommy.  I found a job I really like.  I’ll see you at Christmas.”  I didn’t go home for Christmas.  I couldn’t afford it.

The next year, Mommy asked me to come home again.  “Mommy, I’m the 10pm producer now. I’m producing the main show.  I can’t come home.”  My older sister helped me fly home to surprise her for Thanksgiving.  I wondered why our dinner tasted so bland.  “Mommy can’t have salty foods,” said my sister.  “She’s sick.”  Mommy was happy to see me.  When I left to fly back to Alabama from New Jersey, she said, “I love you.”  She rarely said that.  When i would tell her, “I love you, Mommy,” she would say, “Me, too.”

I didn’t go home for Christmas.  I had to work.  January turned to February, March, April.  At the beginning of May, my father called.  “You mother needs a liver transplant.  We’re flying to Pittsburgh for the surgery.”  He put Mommy on the phone. “I love you and everything I ever did was to make you the best you can be.”  I shushed her. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk about that.  You focus on getting better. I love you, Mommy.”  “Me, too.”

But she didn’t get better.  She was sicker than we thought.  She couldn’t have the transplant.   Instead, on May 8, several days before Mother’s Day, our mother left us.  Our strong, tough mother couldn’t beat the illness that ravaged her.

Here’s where I’m a bad daughter. I can never remember whether the year was 1990 or 1991.  Did I have her a year less or a year more? It seems like yesterday.. and it feels like forever.

Dammit, how I miss you, Mommy.

The Unhappy Friend

I’ve been spending the morning thinking about situations and people, especially those who are not happy in their current situations.

I wish I had the courage to tell them that when they are unhappy, they make those around them unhappy as well.  But because we care about our unhappy friends, we try to coax them out of their unhappiness, which adds more stress all around. What makes this worse is that UF (Unhappy Friends) don’t realize this and continue to be unhappy.

I used to be that Unhappy Friend (and in some ways, I still am).

I wallowed in situations I felt I could not control or overcome. When friends suggested happy alternatives, I found explanations as to why those alternatives would not work/succeed. It finally took someone who didn’t know me very well to state rather baldly that I was a huge downer and poisoning my work environment because friends were too nice to tell me off and instead tiptoed around me, hoping they wouldn’t set me off.

Rude awakening? You betcha.
Time for self-reflection, STAT? Absolutely.

Do I still have unhappy moments? Without a doubt.  But now, I try to identify the source of my unhappiness and also try to think about how my mood will affect those around me. It doesn’t always work, and I don’t catch my unhappy mood in time to not affect my friends and loved ones. But I DO get there in the end, and also apologize to those around me for causing them discomfort.

The Unhappy Friend in your life may be unable to do that right now, because they’ve either been stuck in their unhappy situation for so long, they don’t know how to get out of it;
Or (Harsh Fact) - they may actually ENJOY being the center of negative attention and thrive on the fact that they can control their friends, co-workers, ______  (fill in the blank) through their unhappiness and negativity.

In which camp does YOUR Unhappy Friend fall?

More importantly, how much do you CARE about your Unhappy Friend to find out and help them find a way out of their situation?

The Real "F" Word

Four little letters.
One syllable.
For me, the “F” word is not “FUCK”.  It’s “FEAR.”
And I have been controlled by that word for far too many years.
When did it happen?  When did FEAR move into my heart and hold me hostage?

It wasn’t in my 20’s.
Then, I was FEARLESS.  I moved into New York City with a box of records, a 25lb bag of rice and a huge jar of kimchee.  I lived with a roommate who turned out to be kind of psychotic.  I made $250 a week (before taxes) and still had money to eat and go out on weekends. 

I rode the subway at 3am.  I walked many places I would cringe to pass in a taxi now. I wore sunglasses at night.  I got mugged twice. It didn’t make me scared. It made me mad enough to carry a can of Raid around.  I went to the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, even Staten Island on my own.

I auditioned for bands.  I made friends with singers and ended up on stage, week after week. (One sweet man, Al, called me up on stage with him, 6 years after I left NYC and went back for a visit)  

New York City was a giant playground and I enjoyed every second of my time there; the good, the bad and the indifferent.

It wasn’t in my 30’s.
Alabama.  A change of scenery.  A return to sanity, so to speak.  I needed to clean up my act, but even that thought didn’t scare me. I called my best friend Pat (who saw me through so many drug-induced nights when I would call her at 3am and ramble for hours.  She even called in sick to work some days, because she had been on the phone with me).  Pat lived in Huntsville and said, “Come down.”

I researched Huntsville.  Rented an apartment and lined up an interview at a temp agency before I even left New Jersey.  I drove down, pulling my worldly belongings (2 boxes of records, 3 boxes of books, some clothes, a battered stereo, a 25lb bag of rice and a giant jar of kimchee) in a U-Haul trailer hitched to my 1978 Chrysler Cordoba.  My dad and my friend Claudia drove with me.

Once there, I set up- my apartment across from Pat’s.  I loved my one-bedroom apartment.  I experienced joy there. I nursed heartbreak.  I made a life-altering decision that I carry around with me still. But FEAR? FUGGEDABOUDIT.

Huntsville was a different playground, but once again, I climbed aboard for the ride.  Community theater, temp jobs, unusual boyfriends (one had another girlfriend on the side who started calling me at all hours of the night, high on cocaine.  I took her calls.  I remembered a time, not so long before that, when I was the rambling voice on the other end).  I broke up with Ryan, but remained friends with Tara until she vanished into a world of stripping and drugs.

I made friends with musicians. I ended up on stage, singing with some very fine people (Thank You, David, Antony and Andrew). I learned about tarot cards, crystals and Spirits That Should Not be Evoked.  I learned about Wicca, Paganism and the need to nourish the earth.  I started my TV news career.

Did FEAR appear then? Nope, the only “F” word for me then was still “FUCK”.  I carried it around every day in my car- a button dangling from the rear view mirror that read: “FUCK YOU VERY MUCH”.

I got pregnant.  Got married.  Got a job in Miami. Traded that one for a job in Seattle.  Moved to Seattle. Got promoted. Again, then again. Won my first Emmy award.  Won my second.  Successful, right? But…somewhere during what should have been a time for celebrating success, FEAR moved into my life

Now, I’m afraid all the time.  Afraid to go to work.  Afraid to show my feelings.  Afraid to speak out. Afraid to believe in my own talents.  Afraid to believe that should I fall, caring hands will catch me.

Each day, FEAR wakes me.  “Well, good morning, Su!  What can I make you fear today?”
Pat used to tell me that should a helicopter drop me in the wilderness somewhere, I would have a place to live, a job and daycare within three days.  She said she never doubted that I would land on my feet, no matter what Life threw at me.

Now, I’m not so sure.

I am a Military Brat

   I just read dozens of Veterans Day messages on my Facebook newsfeed, the majority from former classmates at Kaiserslautern American High School. They brought back memories of moving to new cities, states and countries; enrolling in new schools (sometimes 2 or 3 in the same year); making new friends; learning new customs; all the while, our fathers, mothers, or both parents doing their duty for Uncle Sam, in the US, South Korea, Germany, the list goes on.

   Sometimes, I dreaded starting a new school, especially mid-year, but deep down I knew that every student I would meet, was living the same lifestyle I was, which made it so much easier to make friends. Unfortunately, I lost touch with many cool kids when I moved away. I found it hard to write letters, although I tried very hard. They tried, too, but letters petered out and new friends took the place of old pals.

   Years have passed; decades, in fact. Then, Facebook comes along and suddenly, here are familiar names! I knew this person from Fort Belvoir, that one from Fort Bliss. Here are a number of people from K-Town, Sembach, Ramstein, even one from Bitburg. The next thing I know, we’re having yearly get-togethers in different cities, the most recent “reunion” taking place right here in Seattle. The years melt away. We may be older, wiser (or not so wiser), stressed, carefree, depressed, bubbly, busy with family or blissfully (or not so blissfully) unattached, but in many ways, we haven’t changed a bit. Age-old conversations pick up where they left off. New conversations spring up. Old flames reconnect. New flames ignite.

   My husband commented recently about the people he met at my recent reunion, who welcomed him as a member of the K-Town family right away and treated him as though they’d known him for years. This is not unusual. It’s the way we are, the way we grew up. We’re military brats. We’re used to making friends quickly. And now, thanks to social media and this wonderful thing called the internet, we don’t have to worry about losing touch ever again.


(I wrote this several years ago. Posting it here to keep it with my other posts. Sometimes, I still feel like this)

I must confess, I am struggling and have been struggling for a little while. I’ve been writing like a fiend to mask my inner turmoil, but that turmoil seems to be clamoring more and more for my attention.

I don’t need to talk about why I am struggling. I know everyone here has some issue that they are dealing with. I am certainly not unique in that respect. But, as I tell friends who are having troubles and feel guilty because there are other people who have worse troubles, we can only deal with our own shit. And make no mistake, our shit is very real, no matter how much worse someone else has it.

So… I’m struggling and I take my sister to an exhibit and special 35th Anniversary screening of the Bruce Lee movie “Enter the Dragon.” It’s an amazing night, peopled by Bruce Lee fans from all walks of life. Martial artists, collectors, former co-stars, his widow and daughter (who spoke so eloquently about Bruce as a man, a philosopher, an actor and a legend). Watching the movie on the big screen for the first time was pretty cool. Watching my sister take in the sights, meet the legendary Taky Kimura and relive the film on the big screen, was even more rewarding.

When we got home, I took several items that I wanted to keep out of my goodie bag and gave the rest to Kim to give her son Cody. Then I came in, chatted with my friend Tiara for a bit and went to bed feeling guilty that I made Tiara feel bad because I was feeling so down and she could not help me. Tiara is very caring and feels others’ pain very deeply. I tried to put it down to the fact that by that time (after midnight), I’d been up for 24 hours, with only a 45 minute nap in that time frame.

I had a troubled sleep, despite a comfy new mattress and woke feeling as gray as the sky outside. No energy. No interest in the Garden Tour I signed up for with my best friend Pat. Not even coffee could perk me up. To distract myself, I went through the items I had saved from my Bruce Lee goodie bag. One thing caught my eye. It was a key chain with a little strap. I took it out of the bag it was in and looked at it more closely. The words “WALK ON” were etched into the side. Then, I noticed the bag also contained a slip of paper with lots of writing on it. I took it out and saw that it was a story. Here’s what it said:

"The years between the Green Hornet and the Hong Kong films were often difficult for Bruce Lee. In Hollywood, he wasn’t getting offered the roles he felt he deserved, he struggled to support his family and he injured his back very seriously and was told that he would never be able to participate in martial arts again. He turned to many self-help books during this time for inspiration.

One day, he took hold of one of his own business cards and wrote the phrase “Walk On” on the back. He bought a special stand for this card and kept it on his desk as a constant reminder to keep moving forward. With this as his mantra, Bruce Lee worked himself into the best shape of his life, wrote volumes of notes on many subjects and ideas, and further developed and named his art of Jeet Kune Do. The rest is history. When life gives you obstacles, you must summon the courage and…


Now, I have to insert something here. Before I fell asleep, I asked for a sign that my life was worth living, my work worth doing, my writing worth continuing and sharing with the world. I woke up to find this note. Now, I’m trying to figure out if this is the “sign” I asked for.

I guess I shall start walking… and find out.

"Supermarket Karaoke" - a new game show!

I’ve found myself doing something a little strange lately, and I must admit, its improving the quality of my grocery shopping. I park in the parking lot, hit the Starbucks next door to arm myself with a latte containing lots of caffeine, grab a cart, buckle my purse in, and away I go!
It happens as soon as I aim my cart toward the produce aisle. The music piping in from the overhead speakers permeates my brain, which blurts out, “Hey, I know this song!” Brain communicates with mouth and soon I am singing along. By the time I hit the cereal aisle, I’ve crooned two and a half songs. (The other half of a song was ruined by announcements about fresh bread and a deli special.) On that song, I kept singing and as soon as the announcement finished, the song resumed at the precise point where I was. The more comfortable I became, the louder I sang. I even broke into harmony on several songs.

As I unpacked the groceries at home, an idea struck me. This would be a great game show! We’d call it Supermarket Karaoke. Contestants would win free products for every song they sang correctly. Extra points (or products) for those brave enough to harmonize. I think David Lee Roth would be a great host for this show. He’s already shot one music video inside a small grocery store. I can’t remember the name of the song but the video is very stark in my brain.

I was shopping the other day when the song, “What if God Was One of Us,” came on. I started singing along enthusiastically, when something odd happened. As I finished one line, another voice joined in! We sang in unison until the chorus, when I broke off into a harmony. As the chorus ended, I rounded the corner and came face to face with my duet partner, another middle-aged mom like me. We finished the song, gave each other a high-five and moved on.

Hmm. David Lee Roth, where are you?

How a pair of shoes gave me FREEDOM

My sister gave me the most awesome birthday gift: a pair of VANS sneakers. I have coveted these shoes since the new boy showed up in English class wearing a pair. He also wore ripped jeans, listened to punk music and was from Southern California.

Back then, in the stuffy classrooms of Kaiserslautern American High School in Germany, those shoes represented more than the hippest of “hip” in style. To this awkward girl raised by a strict Korean mother, they represented freedom; a type of freedom I dreamed about when closeted in my bedroom, listening to KISS and Judas Priest and Duran Duran.

I already knew about the skateboarding craze lighting up Southern California; knew about the tremendous feats of guys like Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta (Note: if you want to learn more, I highly suggest you check out the documentary “Dogtown and Z Boys” – very aptly put together by Peralta). I even dragged my friend Pat to see the cheesy movie “Skateboard” because, well, it featured the guys named above, plus it starred Leif Garrett (don’t ask). I learned how to skateboard. It wasn’t easy but boy was it fun (Hint: it’s all about balance). I learned about the punk rock movement; about bands like Black Flag, TSOL, X, the glorious Sex Pistols and PiL.

I moved to New York City at 19. Saw the movie “Surburbia” and longed to live like the homeless kids depicted in the movie, who squatted in abandoned homes and buildings by day and haunted the LA punk scene by night. I managed a little of that lifestyle when I lived in an abandoned apartment in Alphabet city for a few weeks with my friend Rebekah, who lost her apartment. We lived on free coffee and day old bagels that the guy who worked the counter at the Astor Place diner gave us. I eventually found other places to live, and Rebekah went back home to the Midwest.

I dove into the heavy metal scene and never looked back. Sang in bands. Went to see bands. Wrote about bands. Worked at record companies. I truly did live a life of freedom for several years, then moved on. Had to, really, but that’s another story.

I moved south and got myself a career and a family. We moved and moved again to further my career. Somewhere during that time, I grew up. Responsibilities and all that. You know how it goes.

Where I once reveled in a brush with homelessness, I now strove to make sure my son has a roof over his head and food in his stomach. Where I once reveled in a carefree lifestyle, I now stressed over quitting my job without a new one waiting in the wings. I stressed over budgets, groceries, gas, new glasses for Ian. I stressed more than smiled. Hid in the house, going out only when I needed to, to conserve gas.

My sister and I went out to lunch for my birthday, using a gift card I received from Schwartz Brothers Restaurants. Later that week, she called and excitedly urged me to come to her house so she could give me my birthday present, which had just arrived. When she called, I had been stressing about something (I don’t remember now) and didn’t want to leave the house, but I did. She made coffee and thrust a big gift bag into my lap. First, I opened two birthday cards (one funny, one heartfelt). Next, I opened the “smaller” gift – a beautiful book filled with the wisdom of Bruce Lee, accompanied by beautiful photos and artwork. Then, I pulled out a big, oblong box with the familiar “Vans” logo, and stopped. Not only had Kimberly gotten me Vans, she had gotten me special, limited edition “Iron Maiden” Vans. Slip ons, just like I’ve coveted for a long, long time.

I stripped off my socks and jammed my feet into the shoes. Immediately, the years melted away. I’ve worn my Vans grocery shopping. I’ve worn them to go pay bills. And even though my situation hasn’t changed (I still haven’t found a job; we still have budget issues), my problems don’t seem so insurmountable anymore. I know I’m smiling more. There’s definitely a spring in my step.

Today, while standing in line at Starbucks, a woman looked at my shoes and gasped, “Are those Iron Maiden Vans?”
“Yes. Yes they are!” I proudly replied.
“Where did you get them?” she demanded, keeping her eyes trained at my feet.
“My awesome sister got them for me for my birthday,” I answered.

The woman finally looked at me. She seemed to be my age and as our eyes met, I knew exactly what she was feeling. She was coveting my Vans… and dreaming of freedom.

Matching Purse and Shoes

I found a photo of me dressed smartly in a light green spring coat, ruffly white hat, white socks, black mary janes and matching purse. As you can see, I look ever so thrilled to be a pint-sized fashion plate. This photo was among several of me dressed quite fashionably - and looking quite dour.

My mother tried. Oh, how she tried! She could have turned the photos of me into catalogs advertising smart clothes for tots. But among the smartly-dressed photos, are other snapshots. One features me wearing a frilly dress, plopped down in the middle of a dirt pile, white hat askew, legs splayed, a joyous grin on my face. Another shows me in a matching coat and hat (winter white, with rosebud buttons (gag). In one photo, I’m standing stiffly. In the next, I’m crying, my mouth wide open in a howl of misery. And so on. And so on. You get the picture.

I don’t know how old I was when my mother finally gave up on me. The photos stop after I reached age 8 or 9, so maybe then. No… wait. I remember a photo of a 10 year old me, hair cut in a shag, wearing a purple mini dress dotted with orange, yellow and white geometric shapes. I have white patent leather shoes and a goofy smile, hiding my true thoughts (“Kill me, please!”).

The last time my mother bought me anything frilly, the year was 1988. I was going to my first Grammy Awards, representing our small jazz & classical record company (one of our artists, Louie Bellson, was up for an Grammy <which he=”” won=”“>). The Grammys were taking place at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. My mom bought me this frothy concoction that fell to just below my knees. It was an irridescent green, sleeveless, v-neck, cinched waist, full, flowy skirt. I told her it didn’t fit and took it back to Macy’s to exchange it for a severe suit-dress. I convinced myself that it was more “practical” and that I could get several wears out of it. My mother was disappointed, but agreed that I had made a smarter choice.

The night of the Grammys, I never felt so underdressed. I spent the entire evening longing for that frothy green dress. I longed for that dress even more when I found myself sharing the red carpet with U2 to walk from Radio City to the Hilton Hotel for the afterparty.

Oh, I got several wears out of that suit-dress. In fact, I still have it packed away. But I still think of what might have happened had I let myself be more feminine, for just one night, and wonder, what would it take now, for me to trade my jeans and t-shirt for a frothy green dress

Who F*cked Up My Chocolate?!!?


   Just saying the word brings to mind stolen moments of bliss, sitting in a corner, in a car, in bed, savoring a truffle, a piece of fine dark chocolate, a Hershey bar. Just like there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s, there’s nothing you can do to ruin a fine bar of chocolate.

    Or at least that’s what I thought.
    Until last week.

    One of my good friends, knowing I was having a stressful week littered with mines called “deadlines,” dropped off several bars of chocolate to help fuel my brain and ease my consternation. Looking at the wrappers, I knew she had taken some time and care before making her selections. The bars were not cheap. They were also organic (although I’m not fussy). They were waiting for me when I staggered back to my desk following back-to-back meetings about topics I know nothing about and care about even less. I spotted the bars on my desk and alighted on the first one, clutching it in my desperate hand. Doing a quick sweep of the room to make sure no one had seen the confection on my desk, I opened my drawer and swept the other two out of sight. Then, leaning back in my ergonomic office chair, I unwrapped the bar in my hand and took a huge bite.

   And promptly spit it out.

   Simply put, it was AWFUL. I smoothed the wrapper out to see what this chocolate was made of. The label read: 85% cacao (okay, it’s really really dark. I can live with that). The label continued: Contains: chunks of crystallized ginger.


   Crystallized ginger??? Why, in name of all that is sacred in the world, would anyone put crystallized ginger in chocolate? I grabbed my cup of 6 hour old coffee and chugged, trying to get the taste of said ginger out of my mouth. I loathe ginger on principal. The fact that it somehow sneaked into my mouth via an innocent piece of chocolate makes it more vile.
   Looking for respite, now, I yanked open the drawer and pulled out the other two bars. One was milk chocolate with chai. Chai. That’s Middle Eastern tea. Hmm…. I eyed the chocolate. 
Dare I try it? I finally decided to give it a go, thinking it couldn’t be any worse than the dark chocolate with ginger.

   It was just as bad.

   After washing my mouth out with even more 6 hour old coffee, I threw the two opened bars of chocolate away and placed the third bar on a table we affectionately call “Ingestation.” It was formally known as the “trough”. Any food that gets placed there disappears within moments. Picture a cloud of locusts descending upon crops and decimating said crops in mere seconds. You get the idea.

   A week has passed. That chocolate bar is still sitting at the Ingestation.  

   Seems even broadcast engineers with cast-iron stomachs steer clear of chocolate with questionable things added to it. Or maybe we’re just not sophisticated enough to enjoy it.

  Eh. I don’t even want to find out.

  Just pass me the Snickers and shut up.

Confessions of a Java Hussy

    I’m having an affair and I don’t feel one bit guilty. Actually, if I’m truly honest with myself, I’m having several affairs. At the same time. I know! I live dangerously!

    There’s the Colombian. Ah… what a way to wake up. He’s rich, smooth and knows just how to get my brain cells going. I need the Colombian before I hit the shower. Buenos Dias, indeed!

    At lunch, I have a quickie with the Frenchie. My friends say Frenchie comes on too strong, but I like strong! Sometimes, I only have ten minutes for Frenchie, but boy does he make those ten minutes count—and sends me off with a buzz to beat the band!

    Before dinner, I might take a nip from the Indonesian. Ooh, spicy and light. Five minutes with the Indonesian and I’m perky and ready for any dinner conversation.

    After dinner, though, it’s always the Italian. He’s from Verona and knows how to get right into my veins. And stay there. The Italian makes me forget about dessert— because he is the dessert.

    I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “You brazen hussy!” (or maybe words to that effect) Go ahead, point your finger at me and hiss. I don’t feel ashamed. I even flaunt my love affairs in front of my husband. He doesn’t even notice. Well, once, he said, “What’s that smell?”

    I played dumb, mostly because I couldn’t tell if it was the Frenchie or the Indonesian. I’d had both by that time and both were affecting me, although their aromas had blended together into one heady scent.

    I’ve pretty much kept to those four for awhile now. Until today, when I came face to face with the Cajun. Hmmm…. I grabbed other items then circled back for another look. The Cajun looked strong. Nice lines. Bold, hard to ignore. I try to walk away but swing my cart around again. The Cajun stood his ground. Was he taunting me? Obviously, this Cajun doesn’t know me very well. I push my cart right up to him and say, “Jump in, baby, let’s go!” The Cajun topples on top of the yogurt and Pop Tarts. Oh, he’s a player, this one.

    I got him home and went in for the kill, can opener in hand. As soon as I heard him sigh, I knew he’d become part of my java harem. There’s just one question. Where does he fit… and how? Time to reshuffle the lineup…