Category: Crumbs

Let’s Get Real: Vanderpump Rules Is My Writing Inspiration. Seriously.

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I have an addiction to reality t.v. Basically, anything Bravo is gold. While the Real Housewives brand is the epitome of recognizable, I save my salivating for New York, Beverly Hills, and Potomac. But I’m most surprised by my obsession with Vanderpump Rules. I didn’t see it coming. I am straight up with Stassi obsessed with the drama. <–See what I did there?

Seriously, where else is it acceptable and attractive to be a starving artist these days?

Take out all of Jax’s cheating, Scheana’s entire storyline, and most of the Vegas trips, and I can relate to these people.

It feels genuinely good to see people my age all over the place.

I live for Tom Sandoval’s musical ventures. More trumpet, Tom. Buba, can you hear me? Katie and Schwartz, underneath the drama your love is palpable. Keep on sending each other Mariachi bands throughout the years. Lala, I have no words. Seriously, no words. Stassi, let’s drink together. We’ll recreate some NOLA vibes in your LA landscape and podcast our asses off. Ariana, make me a drink and let’s party like it’s your birthday. Brittany, talk Kentucky to me and then tell me all your secrets. Doute, you’ve grown on me. Here’s to your evolution. And Mr. James Kennedy, you’re a hot mess and I love every second of it.

If you have no clue who these people are or what this show is about then everything up until now doesn’t matter. And while I label them starving artists, the reality is their ‘realities’ earn them six figures. So I guess the reality t.v. avenue is like most things these days, artificial and acutely absent of total truth.

But I still love these wild creatures for their ability to be imperfect inquisitors. See, they’re seekers. These people seek out everything and everyone. From drama to paid promotions, they seek.

And I can get down with seekers. After all, some of us sit and consume while others chase and create.

Who knew reality t.v. could render me some epic fika material? Vanderpump Rules, you’re the gift that keeps on giving.

 

 

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October

I am thinking pink, forever praying for a cure, and all about the self-checks. But sometimes the best thing we can do to move mountains is to think of the people who stood on them, strong and proud, battling until their last breath. I didn’t know Julie, but I knew of her. And in this month of Breast Cancer awareness, I think it only fitting that we keep gratitude, grace, and generosity at the forefront of our causes and a commitment to a cure.

Julie Anne Neville, 40, mother of four was beloved Grand Island teacher and coach

July 24, 1978 — Oct. 16, 2018

When Julie Anne Roth of Grand Island started playing on an all-boys Little League team at age 10, the other parents thought the small girl was cute.

But after years of playing sandlot ball with friends of her older brother Jeffrey, Julie was more than cute. She was both tough and talented.

“After a while, when they realized what a fierce competitor she was and how good she was, they started hollering at their own sons, ‘Why can’t you catch the ball like Julie?’ ” said her mother, Jean Roth.

Julie Anne (Roth) Neville, an athletic standout and longtime teacher and coach in the Grand Island School District, died on Oct. 16, 2018, in Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center after being diagnosed in January 2017 with breast cancer. She was 40.

She was born on July 24, 1978,  the second child of Jon and Jean (Pino) Roth of Grand Island. Her father, the athletic director of the Grand Island Central School District, encouraged both their children to play and enjoy sports. And competition showed a new side of their daughter’s personality.

“She was the sweetest girl in the world,” said Jean Roth. “She never fought with me – you know how some mothers and daughters don’t get along? Well, that never happened. However, if she had a tennis racket in her hand, and you were her competition, she was very fierce. Even if we played Monopoly, she wanted to win.”

“No drama, no nothing,” said her father, Jon Roth. “I don’t even know if we ever had to raise our voices to her.”

Mrs. Neville graduated from Huth Road Elementary School and in 1996 from Grand Island High School, where she was both an exceptional student and three-sport athlete. In basketball, she played point guard and was the school’s first female 1,000-point scorer. She still holds the school’s record for wins in tennis, and was all-WNY in softball, where she played shortstop.

In 1996, she accepted a tennis scholarship to Xavier University in Cincinnati, where she played Division I tennis and earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 2000. “She loved the game of basketball better, but she had scholarship offers in tennis,” her father said.

In his annual Top 10 ranking of local women tennis players, News columnist Charlie Garfinkel singled her out several times. In 1997, he said she “may be the best all-around athlete in the Top 10.”

In 2000, Mrs. Neville began teaching fifth grade at Huth Road Elementary School on Grand Island. She also coached girls junior varsity basketball and high school tennis.

“She loved the kids and the kids loved her,” said Mrs. Neville’s mother.

“She was really a gem, one of a kind,” said Dr. Ami Alderman, principal of the school. “Her influence was so far-reaching, as a mother, a coach, a teacher and a friend.”

She married James Neville on July 8, 2006, in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church on Grand Island. They had known each other since childhood through their families; there is a photo of James and Julie together at a family party when they were toddlers.

They have four boys: Jonathan, 10; Jayden, 8; Jameson, 6; and Jaxson, 4. Mrs. Neville was a devoted mother.

After her diagnosis, several of her former players, now adults, scheduled themselves to care for her boys so she and her husband could enjoy a night out together, her mother said.

Mrs. Neville was an avid fan of the Buffalo Bills, New York Yankees and Grand Island Vikings and Lady Vikings.

To the end of her life, “she was still worried about her fantasy football players,” said her father.

Mrs. Neville rooted for the Xavier men’s basketball team and returned to see some games. On New Year’s Eve 2017, her parents, husband and sons went to Xavier, where a friend had arranged for her family to go onto the court after the team’s informal morning practice. “After the shootaround, everybody on the team and the coach came over and gave high-fives to the kids and Julie,” said Jon Roth.

Besides her parents, husband, sons and brother, she is survived by many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Oct. 20 in St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.

Memorial offerings may be made to the Neville Boys Education Fund and sent to the Roth family at 6839 Ava Lane, East Amherst, NY 14051. Online condolences may be shared at www.rothfuneral.com.

I Don’t Know If I’m Any Good

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The title says it all. It’s a writer’s plight. We’re filled with doubt. We’re ripped apart by the fear. We lay dormant. Then we rush. This vicious cycle is infuriating, intoxicating, and elusive.

I’m not chasing publication or notoriety. I’m longing for consistency and relevancy. The latter is priceless. To be told the work is worthy is the ultimate reward. It far exceeds monetary value and replaces feelings of inadequacy with freedom and pride.

Join me on the journey. What’s the thing you don’t know if you’re any good at? Go do that and then write to me. Guys, there’s a fika about this going down real soon and I can’t wait to share more.

Blank Pages

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Blank pages are my favorite.

After a crazy September, I cleared the plate. In the spirit of transparency, the plate is still full but in manageable ways. I cleared it of things that didn’t sustain me or entice me.

I have been feeling like I’m on the brink of something for awhile. I made the mistake of calling it a total transformation, but I don’t think that’s what it is or what I want it to be for myself. Instead, I’m completely comfortable saying that I’m in a state of discovery.

One of the biggest challenges we face in today’s society is the pursuit and portrayal of perfection. Crops, filters, and various apps allow us to present ourselves in our most polished forms. But much of it isn’t real or doesn’t capture the chaos.

Chaos gets a bad reputation. In the moments before preschool departure when my house is in disarray, my coffee cold, and my list long, I’m still able to see the specialness of it all. The mess and mayhem are big players in the magical circus known as childhood. And my struggle to find and maintain balance is shared with my peers and friends. My longing for a career that gifts me flexibility and financial freedom isn’t unique. My desire to make dreams possible and successful for others isn’t original.

But these things, this chaos, the stuff I discover in the adventure, it’s mine.  I claim it proudly and without fear of judgment. I am discovering who I am at 36. Up until now, I wasn’t comfortable or confident with the imperfections or ambiguities within me. But these are the biggest and proudest parts of me.

The struggle has become the motivation. The motivation has launched the next chapter. The pages are blank and the pen is poised to produce.

This Sunday I’m all about the blank pages and the possibilities that exist to fill them.

Give Me Everything Gilmore Girls

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I am a Lorelai Gilmore wannabe. I make no apologies about my obsession for all things Stars Hollow. When the show aired I was a consumer of everything Gilmore. And when Netflix released the reboot I binged-watched all four episodes. In fact, I rewatched them this week in an effort to inspire me, which it did.

The writing world leads me to all sorts of people and places. Within the online world, the power of words has never been more present. Airing My Laundry has been on my radar for a while. She’s witty, honest, and a Gilmore Girl fanatic. As I gear up for This Is Us, I wanted to ask someone I admire from afar about their up close and personal opinion on all things Gilmore Girls.

Q: This post, written in 2014, was before the reboot. What might you add to the post now?

A: I’m not sure if I’d add anything to the list. Even with the reboot, I still love the same things. I guess I could add that I like that Lorelai and her mother stayed close throughout the years!

Q: Gilmore Girls has a cult following years later. What is some of the magic behind this?

A: I think the magic is the chemistry between all the actors. Plus the witty lines. I know I crack up with each episode. I mean, “oy with the poodles already” and “cooper boom” are pretty awesome things to say.

Q: Let’s discuss the vices. I am so on board with Lorelai and her beloved coffee. Why do little things like this resonate with us in a such a big way?

A: I love how Lorelai is with her coffee too! I’m the same way with my Diet Coke. I have people like Luke who tell me how awful it is, and I’m all, “Give me my Diet Coke. Now.” I think people can relate to Lorelai!

Q: Assuming we can talk reboot, give me your thoughts on the way things were left.

A: Oh man, I want them to continue the reboot! You can’t end it like that. I won’t give away what happened, but I yelled at the screen when it went to black. What’s going to happen next?! I guess we’ll have to come up with our own scenarios.

Q: I’m on a This Is Us adventure. Certain shows speak to us. What’s a theme from Gilmore Girls that goes beyond the surface?

A. I think a theme would be that mother/daughter bond. I mean yes, there will be fights. But hopefully you’ll always come together. I have a daughter, and I’d love for us to have a relationship like Rory and Lorelai. PS–I also love This Is Us and not just because Jess (Milo) is in it 😉 By the way. I’m Team Jess.

There’s all sorts of stuff that happens in fika. And there’s a self-fikalization that happens when engaged in an art form like film or television. Watching Gilmore Girls is more than a guilty pleasure. And to find someone, who like me, felt uniquely connected to the program speaks volume about the stories within the series.

Many thanks to Airing My Laundry. If our paths should ever cross one day, your Diet Coke is on me.

All In

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I spent the last week buried in nostalgia while simultaneously focused on the future. And while I love to sip from the fountain of fantasy, it’s time to get moving. This week is dedicated to tackling lists, finally podcasting (equipment issues are officially resolved), and savoring summer.

As I get older I am less fearful of asking for help, judgment, and failure. So in the spirit of these things and just because, here’s where I’m headed.

I’ve been going hard at this fika thing for a while now. It’s clear to me that it has legs and what’s even cooler is that other people think so as well. For this, I am grateful.

I decided to kick it up a notch and go all in.  I’ve been contemplating what this looks like, how I’ll manage everything and everyone in addition to all the other responsibilities and obligations on my plate. And after months of consideration I’ve come to only one conclusion: I haven’t a clue.

Here’s what I know: we spend hours obsessing over the big picture without thinking about the splices. We analyze, plan, and worry while the timer ticks. And in the end, passion and productivity are sidelined by panic.

But if we don’t make the move because of fear, we already fail.

So I’m going all in. You’ll be hearing and seeing much more from me. To begin, look for Something to Talk About, the new monthly flash fiction newletter available on September 7th. It’s the start of something special and I’m happy you’ll be a part of it.

What’s your week look like? I hope you’ll go all in.

 

Buffalove

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Last week I hit the local playground with my favorite threenager for a preschool playdate. While the little ones were busy getting messy, a fellow mom and I got to talking and it came up that I’m originally from Buffalo, New York. The mom mentioned she had recently attended a wedding where the groom was from Buffalo and that there was something special about those “Buffalo people,” specifically their love of Buffalo itself.

I am so proud of where I’m from and at least once or twice a week a Buffalo reference is made in our home or to others in our community. It’s safe to say that Buffalonians are a proud people.

Tonight I’m writing from one of my favorite places, Spot Coffee. A local chain, I’m a big fan of the Elmwood location because it’s where I used to go to feel cool even when I wasn’t. And while I still don’t think I’m cool, I’m at least much more comfortable and self-aware than ever before.  This place is perfect for writing, observing, and all sorts of delightful distractions.

Whenever I’m home I get to thinking about my snarky 18-year-old self who thought there wasn’t much to see or do in her hometown. I had grown disenchanted with the city and romanticized other locations or destinations.  I had dismissed the place that shaped me and for that I formally apologize. The truth is I didn’t know enough about the many backdrops that comprise the city to label or judge it. Only a few short weeks into my freshman year of college, I knew that Buffalo was unique and I had taken it for granted.

It’s been 18 years since I left home, which means I’ve officially been gone the same amount of years I lived here. And while I returned home for a “I just graduated from grad school and have no money” ten month stint in 2006, it was a placeholder move and I knew it.

Occasionally I beg my husband to move back. And sometimes he indulges me with an eye wink and ear to listen. He likes Buffalo. We were married here, he spent an entire summer here, and loves coming home with me, even in the colder months, to enjoy the sights and people.

But much of our story is rooted in New Jersey, which is where we currently reside. And while I often joke about the congestion, expense, and stereotypes of all things Garden State, I do love it for reasons that require another blog post or fika.

Coming home is bittersweet. It’s where I’m from, but home is also elsewhere now, and I’ve got two Jersey girls to prove it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop talking all things Buffalo and I’ll surely never criticize it again. This place is special. It’s worthy of greater exposure and exploration.

Buffalo, stay golden. Until next time.