Putting Your Quirks To Work

The October Oprah magazine has an article titled “The Power of Quirk”: why the qualities that set us apart are often the ones that help us succeed.

Alexandra Robbins, the writer of the article, wrote: “Here’s my discovery: Each of the adults said the difference that caused them grief in school eventually led to something wonderful. And when they kept nurturing that quality, it continued to give them an advantage.”

I recommend you fill in the blanks in the QuirkBook that accompanies the article to find out what drives you.

Management consultant Gary Hamel is quoted that what lies at the heart of inventive thinking is: “a knack for seeing the world in a way no one else does.”

To wit: “embracing your quirk helps you become the you-est version of you and share that you-ness with the world.”

I’m all for celebrating and expressing our quirks.

It takes guts to be honest and authentic. Yet the world doesn’t need another person pretending to be someone he or she is not just to be accepted.

I’m not impressed with fakes. I’m not impressed with what passes for normal.

You’re not a rhinestone; you’re a diamond. So shine your one and only light in the world and the ones that matter will accept you for who you are.

The others: we don’t need to try to impress them if they’re going to judge us for having our quirks.

What’s not to love about a quirk?

It’s time to celebrate the individuality of spirit that everyone has instead of attacking others for being different.

Difference is beautiful. Dare to be different in a world of copycats.

Own your quirks. Use them to your advantage.


The Cat Mold

The calendar moved on, and I wasn’t. This is a reference to the first “day program” I attended.


All that winter I cried myself to sleep every night. I drove to Rise in the cold dark of the morning and returned home in the gray sunlight of a nowhere afternoon. I sat across from Flora in tears during our sessions. The jewelry workshop ended and with it my connection to the outside world.

A guy from Rise had a father who owned an Italian restaurant, and he invited us to dinner there. It was all I could do to get dressed in some kind of decent outfit and drive across the island for the meal. What I wore: some kind of turquoise-and-black long-sleeve tie-dye shirt and leggings and the necklace of connected circles that was my favorite. Mario was a happy-go-lucky guy whose demeanor masked his depression. Every day he got up and went to Rise and had something positive to say to everyone else. I was sealed inside my agony like I was entombed.

What could I do? I was so exhausted from the Stelazine that I sometimes fell asleep in the community meeting. I once had a cold and took a Benadryl and dropped off stoned asleep for the rest of the day.

I got very good at making ceramics: a blue copycat Ming vase, a doll that beat a drum with the word love on it that I painted yellow and green and purple, and of course, the cat mold. By the time spring arrived, I had made three: an Egyptian cat with green eyes, a white one that I glued blue rhinestones to for eyes, and a sandy cat.

The cat mold was popular at the day program.

This was the kind of thing that constituted victory.

Memoir Status

I’ve read the manuscript 5 times and I will have the interior text formatted and cover design created soon.

I hope to have Left of the Dial go on sale by November 10th.

My stance is that you need to review your book thoroughly to make sure it is as professional as can be.

I would like to lead a memoir workshop after the book is published.

I’ve quickly gotten over the idea of self-publishing. As long as you have a great book, it’s OK. This can lead to traditional publishing down the road.

Also: traditional publishers are only interested in snatching up the next James Patterson or guaranteed bestseller. Their ability to assess the potential of great literature is faulty. They fail to pick up on worthy contenders all the time.

My book will be available via CreateSpace.

Stay tuned for more news.

Too Much

Here’s another memoir excerpt in the order the excerpts appear in Left of the Dial:


Now I was alone with the memories of last New Year’s Eve. It was the end of 1986, and Sinead was spinning records on-air that night. I drove over to the radio station with a couple of six packs of Harp’s. Carny and I hung out in the women’s room across the hall, drinking and laughing and having a good time.

We weren’t allowed to drink in the studio or the radio station office and most likely shouldn’t have been drinking on campus at all. We hid the containers in a stall while drinking in front of the sinks. Willy joined us at nine o’clock. His eyes were sullen moons, and his nostrils flared as if he had done a bump. I got the idea that my presence was an inconvenience to him, and he went along with Carny to please her.

We ordered pizza, and he reluctantly trudged outside to the guard booth of the parking lot to retrieve it. Domino’s—they would deliver in under a half hour. He ordered one with pepperoni and, to humor me, bought a second one with mushrooms only.

Sinead slipped in during a long song to have a slice.

For the last hour of the radio show, we joined her at the microphone. She called her show “The Year-End, Rear End Review of 1986 Record Picks” and mixed the top 120 songs the disc jockeys played on the radio for the last twelve months.

Carny and Sinead both announced the songs with glee, laughing through the chorus of “Year-End, Rear End Review of 1986 Record Picks.” Over and over they shouted out those words.

It was like I was hovering in space. That night I was far away from the island and suspended in hope.

Sinead closed down the studio and locked the office doors at two in the morning. We each carried a six pack out to my car so I could dispose of the evidence elsewhere. I drove everyone home like my car was an airplane—with a sure hand. I had stopped drinking when Willy arrived and was clear-headed by the time we had to leave.

Tonight I tucked this memory in my mind to retrieve again when I was feeling blue. At six in the morning, I stood washing and scrubbing the dishes at the kitchen sink. I looked out the window at the silent, empty world that would never be mine.

Tears flowed uncontrollably. It was the lowest point of my life. I had hit rock bottom and couldn’t see a way out of my pain. I sat in the wicker chair in my room, crying for two hours.

The Fetchin’ Bones lyrics to the song “Too Much” drifted into my head. I saw my whole life, and it was truly too much. I was ready to consider pulling the plug.


Left of the Dial Amazon Page

Memoir News

I hope to have Left of the Dial go on sale in 7 weeks on November 10th.

Next Monday I will publish another memoir excerpt here. I will try to post a memoir excerpt to this page on the coming Mondays up through when the book goes on sale.

It will be available as a paperback and I hope to have it available as an e-book at the same time.

I’ll give links here and on my author website to the online booksellers.

Stay tuned.

Cupid Is Blind / A Comedy Routine

I want to perform a comedy routine onstage at a poetry reading about adventures with Internet matchmakers.

I signed on to eHarmony and Chemistry.com one year ago in the summer and also tried OKCupid.

OKCupid rated me as “less kinky and less adventurous” so hardly any guys contacted me. Chemistry.com rated me as a Director and “sparks fly between Directors in the bedroom.” So what is it: am I frigid or do I have a raging libido?

No eHarmony guys contacted me because they were all conservative Christians who wanted to meet and marry church-going hausfraus. I abandoned organized religion for good after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result: I’m guilty of being crackers. A year later, I signed up for HowAboutWe.

The guys and gals play a game that’s artificial: picking and choosing to meet people that fit their ideal views; like assembling the parts and traits of their perfect partner like cars on an assembly line. A woman has to be a red Porsche, not a wood-paneled station wagon, to compete online with hundreds of other women. Guys seek the female equivalent of a “Bitchin’ Camaro” (cue the Dead Milkmen lyrics.)

I got nowhere on HowAboutWe as well. I have a gorgeous face, I’m skinny, and so guys were sending me messages without reading my profile. I wrote: “absolutely no smokers.” A guy sent me a message and his bar graph stated he was a chimney. NoMeansNo isn’t just the name of a 1980s Canadian punk band: it’s a clear indication that the woman doesn’t mean yes.

You smoke enough cigarettes in your life: you’ll have to sleep with an oxygen tank instead of your wife. I know a woman who smoked two packs a day for 40 years. She has to sleep with an oxygen tank beside her instead of her husband. A ringing endorsement for cigarette smoking, right?

It was my psychiatrist who told me OKCupid is only for hook-ups. How did he know that? I had no idea it was.

At all the online dating sites, men in their fifties were looking to start a family. A number of guys in this age bracket answered the question about kids with “want ’em now.” Little do they know that the older the father is, there’s an increased risk his kids will develop ADHD, autism or schizophrenia. You have only yourself to blame then if you bring into the world a kid with a disability when you’re nearing retirement age.

I would rather date a guy with a mental illness who is normal than a normal guy who is f*cked-up.

The woman who published the book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. GoodEnough is still single and most likely hasn’t tried to meet a guy online. These guys live up to the lyrics of a Beck song.

I listen to the Alternative Project radio station that you can listen to by going on http://www.iheartradio.com and typing in The Alternative Project. It broadcasts insulting jokes like the following:

“Why do single women take dating advice from other single women? Isn’t that like Stevie Wonder giving Ray Charles driving directions?” Yes: it is. I refused to take dating advice from a woman with a string of long-term fruitcakes under her belt.

If I want advice, I’ll ask a woman who celebrates her 20th wedding anniversary in 2015.

Cupid is blind. His arrow is striking everyone else not me.

This is my comedy routine. I hope you find it funny. I’d like to hear from other women about their own escapades in the dating scene.

Courage: A Sister’s Prayer


Firefighters have died. Police officers have died.

Papers and papers are blowing around the streets.

People are donating blood that is in short supply.

The Twin Towers no longer stand . . . what’s next? A missile attack while everyone’s looking elsewhere?

Those that survive will bear years of survivor guilt.

The Nine-Inch Nails lyrics popped into my head: Bow down before the one you serve you’re going to get what you deserve.

A teen stood in black boots with a black Nine-Inch Nails tee shirt on in front of the school where I passed on my way home. Once inside, I turned on the CD player and listened to the song, “Head Like A Hole.”

I called Aunt Rose. My aunt said my brother M. is at his firehouse right now.

Firefighters have died.

Police officers have died.

A triage area has been set up at Chelsea Piers.

“A million tons of rubble fell down on people.”

“Hundreds have lined up to give blood.”

People walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get home.

How can I trust?

How can I serve God best unless I do not wear my faith on my sleeve?

My life will not ever be the same. None of ours will.

Allah, God, Yahweh, the Lord, Jehovah, Buddha . . . all are one and the same.

Whose God is any better? Whose mission more sacred? What has anyone done to you?

Black, White, Asian, Caucasian, Gay, Straight, make love, not hate.

Oh, I am glad I had the courage to follow my vision and get away from that life as I had known it. The different drummer I march to now beats a tune I cannot forsake: to join my God in liberating others from stigma and oppression.

When I die, it will not be in vain. I will have done everything in my power to rise up and fight these obstacles.

None of us are crazy-these terrorists are the insane ones, for they have used your Word to justify killing innocent people.

Cardinal Egan, on the radio, is cool, collected, and offers wise words: “We are in the hands of God.” He asks us to understand that good can come of this.

I shut off the radio now. It is hot again. I wear my long polyester black skirt and red tee shirt.

God bless my cellulite!

God bless my panty lines!

God bless my funky red plastic eyeglasses!

God bless the downtrodden!

God bless the heroin addicts!

God bless the Arabs!

God bless my meager salary that puts food on the table and clothes on my back.

God bless all of us, and bless all of our imperfections.


I called Mom. M. is now in Manhattan. “He is trained,” she tells me. My brother is licensed to be an EMT as well; he’d gone to school for that before he became a firefighter.

I kneel at the side of my bed and pray aloud.

88 AM radio:

“They are still operating in a search-and-rescue mode.”

I cry to God: “How could we have veered so far from your plan for us?”

He knows the seed was planted long ago.

My throat is thick, the apartment is hot-I have every window open.

Will I sleep tonight? Against my will: I am so tired now. I do not trust. I will sleep anyway.


My friend Samia called. I told her my brother is a firefighter and has been dispatched to Manhattan. We talked. She said, “It’s the work of a coward to kill innocent people.”

I responded, ” A coward? You know what they said.”

“Yes,” she told me.

Samia is a Muslim.

At 8 p.m. I turn on the radio. This is unfathomable. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. I will keep the radio on this evening. I am so tired. It takes an act of courage to continue.

This day re-affirms my belief that I’m here to be compassionate. The future is not secure for any of us now.

“About 200 firefighters and police are presumed dead.”

“There are literally hundreds of people who will not come home from Manhattan tonight.”

What matters most for us? God’s final plan: unconditional love.

It is indicated that members of Osama Bin Laden’s team may be responsible.

“Half of the firefighters who responded first on the scene may be dead.”


I am afraid to call D., who is pregnant with M.’s child. Two hundred firefighters, the first ones in, are declared dead; ninety-eight police officers are missing.

I want to talk to God; I want him to speak to me.

Why? Why? Why?

I will not rest until I know my brother is okay. How can I sleep? I will try. It is only 10:30 p.m. and I am exhausted from listening. I am so tired.

The morning after:

I’m alone in the kitchen at work. I call the hotline for the families of firefighters.

M. is NOT on the list of the missing. M. is alive.