This is me…

It was a rainy day in April 1945 when my parents got married. A few years later, my sister was born; four-plus more years and several attempts later, my parents conceded that they weren’t destined to have another child. So, they blew the money they had saved for a new baby on a new (used) car and a vacation in the Catskills. That’s where I began…

I was raised in apartment 2D in the Bronx – our move to apartment 2G (in the same building) when I was eleven was a monumental change in my life as my parents moved off the sofabed in the livingroom into a bedroom of their own. My sister and I helped paint our new livingroom with one-inch wide paintbrushes – nothing was impossible.

Growing up was always an adventure for me, especially with an imagination as active as mine was. I remember three strangers to our neighborhood that mysteriously disappeared into the basement of the building next door on an almost daily basis. One day, a daring friend and I crept down after them to observe what they were doing. They had clips and wires coming out of the building’s telephone junction box! Convinced that we had discovered some huge international espionage plot, we were giddy with excitement. When they turned in our direction, we ran, frightened for our very lives. That was the last time we ever saw them.

As if I needed any encouragement into the world of make-believe, I studied Theatre Arts and Drama at the High School of Art and Design, Fordham University and the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. After some humble, probably annoying, pleading, I managed a nondescript and all too short walk-on in the movie “Plaza Suite” starring Walter Matthau and Maureen Stapleton (How many degrees to Kevin Bacon?). I appeared (very far off) off-off Broadway and did a summer stint as a lighting technician at the Lake Placid Center for Performing Arts. I also worked my way through college as an undercover retail fraud investigator.

My parents believed in mandatory community service although the choice of what we did was up to us. My sister was a Candy Striper at the local hospital, I joined the New York City Auxiliary Police at our local precinct – my dad was the Auxiliary Police Captain. That’s where I met my husband, at least REALLY met him. We had gone to the same high school (he studied photography) but my only vague memory of him was when he, in the guise of a by-the-book hall monitor, tried to prevent me from going to the backstage area to work on an upcoming play. True, it was between class periods and I didn’t have a hall pass, but the theatre students were used to making their own rules. Anyway, back to the Auxiliary Police… I thought he was an egomaniac snob, he didn’t care for me much either.

We kept getting assigned together as patrol partners and even though we built a terrific reputation as partners and seemed to communicate almost telepathically, I complained to our superiors. The Patrol Sergeant, the Lieutenant and the Captain (MY dad) kept pointing the finger at each other for the decision making process that kept throwing us together. A year and a half later, we had our first date; two weeks after that, we were engaged. He kidnapped me and refused to bring me home until I said yes, I figured I’d ask my father to beat him up. But when I told my parents that Mark had proposed, my dad clasped his hands together and said “Thank God!”

We settled in the suburbs less than an hour northwest of the city and began our family. Shortly after the birth of our daughter, I pursued a free-lance writing career and worked out of a home office. As a teen-ager I had written a few articles for a weekly Bronx newspaper and had since dabbled in poetry and pieces of prose just for the fun of it. After our son joined the picture, I managed to convince a few more rags to print my articles. This was about the time I had a weekly column as “Bonzo, the Ape” and shared profound thoughts on life. Since then, I’ve written more commonly as myself, sometimes conducting interviews (and trust me, you wouldn’t believe the things people sometimes tell you about themselves!), covering Grand Opening events, researching new trends and fashions, writing advertorials and business profiles, and just about anything else that will sell. I also spent a few summers teaching Creative Writing to kids in a local program.

Both my husband and I joined our local ambulance corps as volunteers and went on to become New York State Emergency Medical Technicians. I’ve helped to deliver babies, did CPR during codes, pulled people out of car wrecks, splinted broken bones, monitored the vitals of drug overdoses, stopped bleeding, and held patients’ hands enroute to the hospital. Both of our kids have followed us into the E.M.S. community and, often, dinner conversation at our table is not for the weak of stomach. Many of our friends are also involved with the local emergency services, medical and fire, and it isn’t unusual to have a festive holiday party empty out as soon as a pager goes off. The stories we swap are never boring.

My daughter and my son have justified every gray hair I’ve gotten. They’ve kept me on my toes, made me laugh, made me shake my head and cry, shared their dreams with me, allowed me to boast about them, and have each become a vital part of my inner circle of close friends. I’ve done the gamut of class mother, Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout mom, school parents’ association, and advisor in various youth groups. My favorite age has always been whatever age they were at the time. I love it when we hang out together or they invite me to go someplace with them and their friends. Both of our “kids” are terrific adults and I love following their various adventures.

I’ve always played a favorite game I call “What if?” whenever I see something unexpected, do something new, or hear about some adventure. I mentally place fictional characters into the setting and then I ask myself what if THIS happens, or THAT? By staying involved in my community, active with my family, reading avidly and even surfing on the Internet, I get a lot of fuel for my overactive imagination.

That means a lot of stories – please, join me

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I’ve kissed a few frogs…

This is the story of my own romance.

As a romance author I believe that my readers have a right to hear why I am such a “hopeless romantic”. I think my story is truly romantic, I hope I won’t bore you.

One day in the halls of my high school, the High School of Art & Design in NYC, I remember punching this rather annoying, anal hall monitor who wouldn’t let me get onto the school’s escalator between periods. It was common practice for Theatre Arts students to eat their lunch backstage the days before a big show so that we could work on the set; if we didn’t bring lunch from home, we bought it in the cafeteria and took it to the auditorium. Nobody bothered with hall passes! But this creep stopped me, without a proper pass he wasn’t going to let me pass – AND HE THREATENED TO REPORT ME TO THE DEAN. So I punched him and ran the other way.

Years later during the busy days of college and an active social life (oh yeah, I had fun!) I volunteered with the NYC Auxiliary Police Dept, 52nd pct. in the Bronx. My dad was the Auxiliary Captain of our unit by the way. One of my tasks in the AP was to interview new recruits to the unit and make sure they knew what was expected of them – well, 6 months after I joined I wound up interviewing that anal hall monitor, his name was Mark. We still disliked each other intensely; we had some very unkind words to say about each other.

Auxiliaries did foot patrol in the local neighborhood. Invariably the Sgt. assigned patrol pairs and I kept getting paired with Mark. I was irate but I refused to give up going out on patrol and that was the only option I was given. I complained to my dad weekly and he told me that it wasn’t his decision, I should speak to the Patrol Sgt. The Patrol Sgt. directed me to the Lt. The Lt. told me to speak to the Capt. My dad kept sending me on another wild goose chase.

Through the years I had dated quite a bit, my boyfriends were varied in jobs, traits, pastimes, etc. The most memorable were the playwriter who also did a gig writing theatre reviews for a well-known trade paper (he is STILL doing quite nicely and I see items about him and his plays now and then), the guitar player who always dedicated the song “Wild Thing” to me, and the fellow I met in another Auxiliary Police unit who wanted to leave his fortune-500 job to become a state trooper. I received two very serious marriage proposals and actually gave thought to accepting one of them. Anyway, Mark was NOTHING like any of the guys I usually dated.

Then came the day I volunteered for crowd control at a Memorial Day Parade. I was in full uniform and had signed in to wait for my assignment; this was a borough/county wide event and there were many auxiliaries there that I didn’t know. One older gentleman decided to make a play for me and try as I could, I couldn’t seem to discourage him without making a scene. The first person I saw that I knew was Mark, so I went over to him and started an argument about his insignia; the older guy saw that I wasn’t going to pay him any attention so he finally gave up.

After the parade was over, Mark & I were both invited to another unit member’s home for hot chocolate (it was a chilly day!). There was a lot of joking and teasing about a woman who was throwing herself at Mark (she wasn’t there-he was just being ribbed about it) and I joined in the banter. Unexpectedly Mark invited me out for dinner that next weekend – I THOUGHT HE WAS JOKING and I said “sure”. It wasn’t until later that week when Mark’s sis made a reference to my upcoming date that I realized it was for real – I didn’t want to go back on my word. That date was June 1, 1974.

The evening of June 15 we went to a dinner party at his sister’s house. When we left, instead of driving me home, Mark drove behind a deserted and closed shopping center! I had no idea what to expect, honestly a lot of uncomfortable things ran through my head. He proposed! I said No! THREE TIMES. Finally he told me that the only way he was going to drive me home was to accept his proposal – so I said okay, I wanted to go home! Honestly, I had planned to ask my dad to beat him up! But my parents were sleeping… Later that night when my mom asked how my date was, I told them about the proposal. MY DAD WAS ECSTATIC!

Mark and I were married on December 28, 1975 during a blizzard. My sister fell down a flight of stairs at home and I was late to my own wedding while we took care of her. My mom, a diabetic, had a serious sugar reaction and spent the day sick, my grandmother and my dad got into an argument (they were both worried about my mom) and my father-in-law got drunk and sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling from the dais. Here we are almost 33-years and two fantastic kids later and I still feel like I’m on my honeymoon!

As a writer I always try to put “something” about Mark into each of my romantic heroes, a habit, a comon phrase, any quality… In Courage of the Heart (originally published in 2001, it will be RE-RELEASED by Vanilla Heart Publishing next spring), Adam Sherman has hazel eyes that change color with his moods – so does Mark.