Quitting Smoking One Day at a Time...

QuitMeter Counter courtesy of www.quitmeter.com.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Ok, I haven't even left LA but I gotta get to Vegas! I don't even care about being tempted by the smoke! My favorite DJ from the UK, Paul Oakenfold will begin spinning every Saturday night, beginning August 30th 2008. He will be at the Rain Nightclub at the Palms Casino Resort. This is his first resident DJ position in the United States. I have seen Oakenfold on a couple occasions at the Hollywood Bowl and he is brilliant! There is a reason this guy spins in Ibiza! Not only does he rock the house, but he is super cool to watch! He is also a remixer and has done a lot of commercial stuff like the James Bond theme.

The Palms has "a newly redesigned 25,000 square-foot nightclub and concert venue it is known for its special effects and international headliner acts. It features state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and ultra-premium bottle service. The multi-level space includes six private sky boxes, seven private cabanas, eight "water booths," VIP rooms, elevated dance floors, and six bars. The Perfecto Las Vegas nights will feature breathtaking visuals and performers in an out-of-this world setting."

All I can say is I gotta get there!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Well, I am done packing up my classroom and all I have left to do is go back and get the three boxes that I could not fit in my car. I am really tired but I am sort of packing for my trip to Boston. I will be leaving tomorrow on a late flight to the east coast at about 7:30 PM. I am coming back on July 11th.....see number 11 always pops up! I plan on editing my film in the next three weeks and then sending in the rough cut to the people who are expecting it. Right when I get back I am scheduled to be in another seminar in Orange County for a week. I think I will be starting the program two days from when I return which is July 13th. I had a couple calls about jobs but the schools were not happy when they heard I was going to be out of town for two weeks. Well, I guess if they want me, they are going to need to wait for me! I am feeling kinda stressed but it will all be good when I get on the plane tomorrow.


Saturday, June 28, 2008


Ok, this is gonna be a super quick post! Even though it is my birthday, I have a whole classroom full of stuff to pack up! I worked on it a lot yesterday and will be packing all day today! Lets hope I can get it out by tomorrow! What fun, what fun! I am going to try to go take a cake for my 21st birthday tonite but if I can't, I will do it next week! I only I have two more days until I leave for Boston so I need to get finished with everything and quickly!

Thursday, I went to my stop smoking class and spoke and answered questions about my quit and Chantix. I told them that blogging was helpful too! The people there were super shocked and amazed that I had been off cigarettes for over seven months and I told them that they could do it, one day at a time. I also told them what worked for me: support system, fake cig, etc. and it felt good. My instructor is also a beginning DJ so we talked about music and some other stuff. It was nice to go back and remember how hard it is to put together a few days! I feel super grateful. Time to go, I have TONS of work to get done.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Going Back to the Quit Smoking Class Tonite... Life in Recovery

As many of you know, I have been feeling kind of funky to say the least! I am taking a day off from decluttering to take care of stuff I need to do before I leave for Boston. Today to celebrate my AA/NA birthday, I am going back to visit my quitters group and get my nails done! The people who went through the "Stop Smoking" program that I attended have the option to go back if you fall off the wagon or just need to check in. The first class of a new series starts today so I will pop back in to say hi to the instructor and hopefully let the people who are thinking seriously about quitting that it is possible!

When I first showed up to the quit smoking class class, I was EXTREMELY skeptical about the whole thing. I really only showed up to get the medications for the insurance co-pay cost. I mean, I had done the Nicotine patch, the gum, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, you name it, I did it! Lets just say I did not have very successful results either! Kicking cigarettes made kicking heroin seem like a walk in the park! I knew smoking cigarettes was deadly but I figured I was gonna die from SOMETHING so why not it be from something that I was able to derive some sort of pleasure from? The thought of smoking one little cigarette still seems so harmless in comparison to living the life of a street drug addict/alcoholic. I have been super tempted to smoke lately so I just will cop to it and do something proactive to avoid smoking! I have taken 1/2 a Chantix the last couple of days and go reach out to someone who is struggling.

People reaching out to other people really works! The last time I showed up to the class wanting to quit smoking about nine months ago, I met this guy Ed who was a Holocaust concentration camp survivor and he was having huge success on Chantix. Seeing someone quit when they were over 60 and was a hardcore, lifelong smoker made me feel like it could be done! I then started researching Chantix and ended up on Maggie's Blog and the rest is history! I found on-line support, a new hobby, something productive to do with my hands and met tons of cool people. Reaching out to others who want help is probably more helpful to me than it is them. It worked for me when I quit drugs and alcohol so I know it will work now. My sobriety birthday is this Saturday, June 28th and because I got clean, I have a really good life today! Lets see, I got clean in 1987 so I think that makes me 21 years sober.

After I get my nails done I will drop by the class! Call me a salon girl if ya want but I got my hair done yesterday and it looks amazing! I love the whole salon thing and always have! I am definelty a girls girl in that respect. Manicures and pedicures are an amazing thing... I can think of no better way to celebrate my birthday besides a French manicure and pedicure and a massage!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Feeling Better...Perhaps its the Decluttering! The Party Has Started!

Well, I gave myself two days to feel sorry for myself about the stuff that's going on in my life and then started the decluttering process! I get super overwhelmed at clutter but I was raised by packrats and have become a packrat myself! My God sister came over and we started getting rid of stuff.....and I mean LOTS of stuff! I posted a life list recently and the biggest thing on that list is getting rid of stuff...stuff that I have had since my parents died that I could not bear to part with as well as tons of books and papers that I have held onto since graduating from college in 1995. For being as intelligent and hard working as I am, clutter and organizing OVERWHELMS me to the point that I just can't deal with it. Sometimes it is better to call in an expert!

I would love to say I got everything done but I have a garage full of crap that needs to be organized! I made a huge dent in the madness and had a couple moments where I had to pretend that Niecy Nash and the Clean House Crew were there to make me take a grown up pill....For those of you who don't know about Style Network's show "Clean House" it is hosted by Niecy Nash who is known for her signature flower behind the ear, and is much like oldskool Diva Lola Falana. "I first began to appreciate Niecy's clever comments on the show "Clean House". Niecy reminds me of every drag queen I ever hung out with. Straight up, to the point and with a flair for the dramatic! "When Niecy and her team enter the home owners cluttered, filthy home she uses terms like "foolishness" and "mayhem" to describe the conditions in which these people live. I love it! She tells them straight up that its foolishness to live like that. And who uses the word mayhem anymore? I really love it!" Watching this show made me realize how much of an intervention I needed to save me from my own personal clutter and foolishness. Well, its time to change and it started yesterday. I am officially "in the process" and hopefully everything will be done by the end of summer.
The part in parenthesis is a description that I stole from another cool blog "Tales of a Sissy" so I thought I would give credit to him and the link. I mean, plagiarism is a bad thing! At least that's what I tell my students! http://talesofthesissy.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html
Anyway, declutting was very exhausting and emotionally draining process. When I told my God sister I wanted to keep a couple of things that were questionable, she just glared at me until I threw them out. My mom was a miniature collector and had this dollhouse that was HUGE and dilapidated. I hoped to give it to someone who could restore it to its former 1970's glory but getting rid of it was what needed to be done. I mean, if I was going to give it away, I would have done it 20 years ago. Its really easy to stay in denial without a reality check!

I am off to a WNBA Sparks basketball game tonite. I am taking some newly sober girls from a drug rehab out on an outing. My friend recruited me to help the girls see that you can have fun in sobriety. I have not been much fun the last couple of days so I will put my "fun" face on and hopefully they will have a good time! I know I will have a good time, we all have free VIP tickets!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Life List...the Thinking Positive of it All!

Ok, I have been in a HUGE funk today....I have sat on the computer all day and have not gotten out of bed! At least I finished up my newest life list.

Ellen DeGeneres came up with her life list and has encouraged her viewers to come up with their own list. I also read the life list of this really inspiring individual named John Baker who is trying to lose half of his body weigh. I am a teacher and decided to do this with my students at the beginning of the year. I believe in “Dreaming Big” and have been fortunate to have achieved many of the goals that I have set for myself so far. This is another chapter in the adventure called life. A lot of these things were on the original list I did with my students and some are new goals I have set. I made huge gains in some like the cleaning up debt and quitting smoking! I am going to start crossing them off as they happen!

My Life List:

***Most important: Declutter enviornment, especially paperwork! Get a filing cabinet and organize work area.
1.) Clean up all my debt by the next year. Watching the Suze Orman show and reading her books has made this goal a real possibility! (I plan to pay off everything except my student loan which should be paid off by the government because I teach at-risk youth.)
2.) Maintain an emergency fund of six months salary in savings by opening up a Roth IRA like financial guru Suze Orman suggests. Suze, you rock!
3.) Get my Master's Degree and possibly my Doctorate degree
4.) Attend classes at Harvard University
5.) Meet the most beautiful girl in the world (to me) and fall madly in love for the last time, hopefully with the RIGHT person!
6.) Celebrate being off cigarettes for a year (11/11/2009)
7.) Be at goal weight within six months to a year. (January 2009 to July 2009)
8.) Learn to love working out again.
9.) Reformat my blog and continue to reach out to others to be “quitters” of whatever is keeping them down: smoking cigarettes, using drugs, alcohol, overeating.
10.) Do something career wise that will make the world a better place and touch people’s lives.
11.) Swim with dolphins
12.) Go on a cruise
13.) Sky dive—I have had this goal since I was a little kid and saw pictures of my dad jumping out of military planes. Hell, I don't even like the military.
14.) Compete in a triathlon!
15.) Participate in walkathons and other fundraisers for charity
16.) Get a portrait tattoo of my dad in his military fatigues done by tattoo artist Kat Von D. I am a tattoo virgin and almost got some real crap in my life…thank God they sent me home to sleep it off.
17.) Own my own house
18.) Go to Italy and Paris
19.) Ride in a hot air balloon with a hot date.
20. Learn to be a good cook…actually my cooking isn’t too shabby what I should really say is take the time to cook healthy meals.
21. Build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
22. Learn how to scuba dive and do it in the Caribbean
23. Always strive to be a better human being
24. Forgive and forget, even the stuff I say I can’t.
25. Attend the Burning Man Art Festival, (I need to camp in an RV though, not a tent! I am WAYYYYYY too much of a Diva for camp tenting in the elements of the Black Rock Desert!)
26. Become involved in some type of martial arts class
27. Drive a race car
28. Be open to all of life’s possibilities and never forget where I came from.
29.) Start fooling around with music again…either take an African Drumming class or do some DJ stuff.
30. Finish the editing of my oral history interview video I am doing by the end of the month.

Ok, that’s all for now! I have been in a really weird mood today so at least I am taking contrary action to how I am feeling and thinking POSITIVE! Besides, my motto is never give yourself longer than two days to feel sorry for yourself about any one thing! I am currently on day two so I will need to be over it by tomorrow! Those are the rules!


Thanks for all the help...I Submitted the Personal Narrative Friday. I'm Kind of Bummed Today!

Man, I don't really know what is up with me...I am feeling kind of blue and I am in a really funky mood! I think its because school just ended and I am still not sure where I will be working. I know that I should just trust the universe that I will end up in the right place with the right people but I am not really feeling all that much trust today! The whole situation seems like one HUGE inconvenience to me! Its been a weird year with a lot of weird lessons. Some of the very people who talk about how much they love and care about you are the ones that really needed to be watched. I am feeling the "Trust No One" thing BIG TIME today.....and I normally have such a positive attitude too...

Well, I guess ya can't be all things to all people all of the time! I will just have to feel how I am feeling and live with it. I only posted this because it is EXACTLY during times and feelings like these that make me want to go outside, light up and smoke at people or smoke to "stuff" my emotions. My commitment to myself for the day is I am going to behave like an adult....I do not have to do stupid things or say stupid things. I can just feel how I am feeling and know I am not gonna die because it is unpleasant. This type of feeling is exactly why I am an addict. I will do just about anything to avoid feeling bad. I am more centered in reality because I know I don't have to feel good all of the time and negative feelings and situations will pass. Besides, I saw my sister yesterday and when she came inside after just smoking a cigarette, boy did she stink! I do not want to smell like that again! It was really gross!
Thats all for now. I need to think about what I can do to go out and get my mind onto other things.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hit Me Up With Comments....What do You Think About My Personal Narrative?

Ok, after much deliberation, here is my rough draft of the blog I am supposed to write about myself.....what do you think? This will be read by all my fellow students and professors when I attend my fellowship in two weeks. Should I send it as is or add or subtract anything. I need some feedback before I submit it! Its due now so please hit me up today! I am not sure this totally represents the "essence" of who I am but tell me what ya think:

Seven Sentence Blog About Myself:
"Fierce Diva is a hard working, self-directed individual who has been working in education for over twenty years. Diva is very dedicated to her students and likes to utilize new technology such as blogging and multimedia in the classroom. She is a former DJ who loves to travel and learn about various human rights issues; particularly the Civil Rights Movement. Diva's major goals are to one day become a philanthropist and create life changing experiences for people. She believes in the motto "Dream Big" and hopes to someday make a film or spin records in Ibiza.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Remembering Why...222 days off Chantix...211 days off cigarettes

Today, I got an out of the blue message from the "GetQuit" Chantix support group. I have never discussed this while blogging but most things in my life that are significant have the number 11 attached to it in some form. I know, if that is the case, why should this journey be any different? For those who believe in numerology, number 11 is quite the power number. According to one source "11 is a Master Number, as are all double digit numbers, such as 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, and 99. “Master Number” is an appropriate term because the high side of each Master Number represents rare and exceptional energy originating from outside mundane reality." Feel free to check out the link: http://ezinearticles.com/?Numerology-and-The-Number-11---What-it-Means-and-Why-its-so-Challenging&id=757527
For those of you who probably think I am being overly perceptive about numbers, I used to think that numerology and astrology were complete and total nonsense!! I still do not believe in astrology but the way number 11 kept popping up in my life I had no choice but to look into it. For many years, the symbol was downright creepy. I finally had to take a look at and realize it was something to not be ignored. My life was saved a couple on a couple different occasions and now I just accept it for what it is....a message that needs to be read or examined when it shows up. The number still pops up randomly more often than not! My quit date which was not planned ended up being 11/11/2008! Does anyone else had numbers or any other symbol that seems to follow you through life? For me the number 11 can be a good or bad thing ....when I see the number pop up, I usually do a double take of whatever the situation is. I could go on with "number 11 stories" for days but I've come to accept it as a symbol of something I need to look at a bit deeper when going through life. Its amazing how understanding a number and being perceptive to the situation or how it arises has saved my life in more ways than one. I am tired so I will save some Number 11 stories for another day. Most people think the whole thing sounds crazy so I understand that most people think its kind of crazy.

When I logged onto the site, I got my day count and took a look at my original inspiration to quit. On "GetQuit" I posted that I wanted to quit smoking to "Save Money and Improve My Health." I hope after being off cigarettes for 211 days my health is improving! I know that I have saved at least a thousand dollars because smoking cigarettes is expensive and that money really does add up. Anyway, the best thing I can say is I am not a slave to nicotine anymore and do not need to sneak off in the extreme heat, cold or rain to sneak a smoke....today it was like 104 degrees outside!! How much fun would it have for me been standing outside inhaling poison in the extreme heat? I am so glad I am done with that...at least for today anyway. I am so glad that when I travel I do not have to stock up on Nicorette gum or patches or worse yet, book layovers so I could get off the plane, go outside to suck in poison and try to get through security in time to not miss my next flight. I was known for this type of insane behavior for a lot of years! I am so glad I was able to book direct flights with a certain level of freedom. I am glad I am not smoking today.
I wanted to send a big Happy Birthday Holla out to my support girl Maggie from the blog Maggie's Mind. If you are thinking about quitting or just looking for an interesting blog, it is at: http://maggiesmind.blogspot.com/ Maggie's Mind was the first Chantix blog that I started reading and it was from there that I got the idea to start my own "quitting blog". I still take a look at this post of her's when I start feeling the urge: http://maggiesmind.blogspot.com/2007/06/yummy-cadmium.html Blogging instead of smoking really helped and still helps with the "What should I do with my hands thing." Also, knowing that there is support from others out there is really helpful. Maggie, you are the greatest and happy birthday! I can't wait to say I made it a year off cigarettes only because it still seems so impossible! Hell, 211 days still sounds like a long time because for me, it is a long time! But then again, smoking for 30 years was a long time too! I never thought I would still be blogging about this subject but hey, if it works, don't fix it! I have decided that I kind of like blogging and looking back to see where I have been and where I am going. I must be somewhat committed as I am thinking about redoing my blog because the formatting went wacky. The way I see it, the formatting going crazy is probably a sign that it is time to change kind of like seeing the symbol of the number 11 when I am supposed to notice something. Anyway, this is my first time using links so lets see if they show up in the post!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Let Love Rule.....

The Rainbow Flag of California....

Gay History will be made In West Hollywood Tomorrow! One More Step Won in the Battle of Achieving Civil Rights For ALL!

I am so thrilled that history will be made tomorrow Tuesday, June 17th 2008 in my hometown of the City of West Hollywood! The city will begin the historic issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples now that the recent California Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriages has gone into effect. In May, the California Supreme Court granted same-sex couples in California the right to marry. It is a big day for gay folks here in California!

For those of you who don't know, I am an educator but I really consider myself a historian and a scholar on many human rights issues; particularly the Civil Rights Movement. In terms of progress made by this country in the last year, I never thought I would see an African American man compete for the Democratic ticket against a women. Now, if that wasn't enough, gay marriage will begin tomorrow in West Hollywood.

Today when I read an article today about a lesbian couple who could finally be married after 55 years of commitment, it brought tears to my eyes! The women were 87 and 84 years of age. The women were finally pronounced "spouses for life." and were among the first same-sex partners to legally exchange marriage vows in California today. Marriage licenses for gay couples were officially issued after the state supreme court overturned a ban on such unions. I mean, there are people who are fighting to appeal the decision and put an "anti gay marriage" bill on the ballot in November. I have high hopes that people are going to just let love rule.

I am so happy that I will be able to see my dear friends who love each other dearly get married at the end of the month. Not only do they want to get married because they love each other and want to spend the rest of thier lives together but also because my friend is very sick and has to pay a ton of money for health insurance. As a spouse, she will finally be able to be able to qualify to be on her partners medical insurance plan. For her, it could be the difference between life and death, bankruptcy and just getting by financially. She pays over $400 a month just for insurance not to mention the cost of the medication she needs to survive.

On a lighter note, if I could just find my soul mate, all would be good...actually, at this point I would settle for a nice dinner out and a movie!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Help! My Layout Went Wacky!

Ok, I have no idea why my layout went haywire! I had links and other stuff on the right side of the blog page and now they seem to have gone to the bottom! I am really confused as to how to get it back to where it was. I know someone out there probably knows. Holla!

Back to Basics.... Let's Talk About Smoking Today

Well, just when I was thinking that a cigarette was sounding really good I turned on the TV and happened upon an old episode of "America's Next Top Model" that I purposely had refused to watch when it first came out. Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge reality TV fan and I refused to watch this particular episode because I was still smoking at the time and didn't want to see Tyra Banks being, in my opinion, VERY hypocritical with her stand on banning the girls from smoking on ANTM cycle nine. Don't get me wrong, I love America's Next Top Model and it has been on for nine different seasons and nothing was EVER said about smoking until cycle nine? Come on, the girls have always sat outside and smoked up a storm while talking shit about their competition. I mean really, why wait nine or ten years to make the girls do a photoshoot that depicts the worst of smoking related health problems? I mean, if she was REALLY that concerned with ANTM girls being role models, I think she would have taken the stand against showing models smoking "to look cool or to lose weight" long before she did. I was left with the feeling that a lot of the "ban" in the house was to improve Tyra's own image and the image of the show as well as ratings ploy.
Anyway, after all the being said, watching the girls do the photoshoot made me REALLY grateful that I have not picked one up lately. The pictures show the glamorous image of a smoker and in the mirror, it shows the health risks and the not so glamorous side of smoking. I got pretty grossed out and these images definitely made me think: Here are a few of them:

Coughing up blood is oh so glamorous....

Premature aging is great for modeling.....

Being a burn victim is great fun.....

Chemotherapy makes your hair look fantastic....

If you lose your hair, simply rock the bald look!

My Personal Favorite is the oxygen mask. What a sexy accessory don't ya think? I used to see people with these things and it used to really freak me out!

Anyway, this episode definitely gave me something to think about. I hope everyone is smoke free or on there way to being there. As I put together more days I need to remember that I am one cigarette away from being a pack a day! I have not smoked in seven months and I really want to keep it like that!

Peace, Diva

Thursday, June 12, 2008

13 States I have Visited (Part Two Thirteen Thursday)

8.) Philly, Penn: I I was in Philly a couple of years ago to learn all about our founding fathers...I like to fondly refer to them like my students do, " Those dead white dudes who wore white wigs, only bathed on average once a month but had some really good plans on how to be rebels!" I love Ben Franklin.....he thinking was way out of the box before people could really see how brilliant he was. He was one of the first people who thought bathing frequently would help fight disease.
9.) New York I used to go to New York all the time! I have not been there since they cleaned up Times Square which was probably ten years ago. I used to go to New York City and Queens and some other spots with a friend of mine who was an exotic dancer. I remember when Times Square was nothing but strip clubs! My friend knew how much I loved it there and she used to book her tours so I got to go during every season....winter, spring, summer and fall. I knew a ton of people who had either moved there or were local to the area so I had quite a few ties and tons of people to visit. I have some of my best memories there and LOVED the idea that the clubs pretty much stayed open 2-4-7. The great DJ's and nightlife of this city was what made me want to be a DJ.

10.) Connecticut: I was in a little town called Milford once and its supposed to be one of the most amazing and affordable suburbs on the east coast. It was really pictorial.

11.) Maryland: II love Baltimore! The crabcakes and soft shell crab sandwiches are the bomb! I also love that it is the hometown of John Waters and the most famous drag queen ever Divine! For those of you who do not know about Divine, John Travolta reprised his role in the new version of the film Hairspray.

12.) Minnesota My mom's family lived in a small mining town called Hibbing. Lets see, there was one bowling alley, one high school and most women didn't sit around in bars drinking and smoking cigarettes which is EXACTLY where I headed to when got a second to get away from my family. Being the alcoholic I was, when I realized I was stuck in that one horse town for two weeks, I was like damn! Every time I snuck off to the bar I couldn't figure out why me and my sister were pretty much the only women there. I knew the guys looked more like truck drivers than gay guys so I asked the bartender why the bars had mostly men in them. The bartender informed me that , "women stayed home with their children." I was like damn, Dorthy, your not in Kansas anymore! No wonder my mom moved to Los Angeles as soon as she got the chance!

13.) Utah: Lets just say that Park City and Ogden Utah are big ski places but some people really should not be left to their own devises while wearing skis. I am one of those people! I do not get how and why people are so excited about this hobby.

I will be adding Massattutes to my list of states visited this summer! I am super excited to be going to see Cape Cod and Boston and Cambridge. Well, this has been fun. I won't be doing another Thursday Thirteen for awhile.


Fierce Diva

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen--Thirteen States I have Visited

Since I never do this post, I decided to so it this week because I saw it on Maggie's Mind and hers was about the 13 states she has not visited. I thought I would use Maggie's idea but do it in reverse and list 13 states I have visited and why. I was working on this last week and a lot of it got deleted so I decided to try and get it up this Thursday, June 12th. Ok, here goes:

My favorite hotel in Vegas is by far the Venetian. Not that I have ever gotten to stay there and it would probably be a waste of money but I did love going on the gondola ride in the center of the hotel. The boat driver sang opera and the song "Santa Lucia" to me and my date and it really was romantic!

1.) Nevada I really love Vegas and I usually go there at least twice a year. I like everything about Vegas...the cheap food, the entertainment and I love to play the slot machines and roulette! I like everything except that people can still smoke all over the place. I am not used to hearing, "Smoking or Non Smoking" when I go out to eat. When I quit smoking cigarettes, it was a challenge to go to Vegas but when I did go, I noticed less people smoking! It seems that more and more places in Vegas are banning or regulating smoking. I used to be able to walk anywhere with a lit cigarette hanging out of my mouth but there are a lot more places that have banned it altogether. Big ban spots are: shopping mall sections in casinos, restaurants, tourist spots, etc.

2.) Louisiana I went to New Orleans with some friends and unfortunately did not get to stay for the actual Mardi Gras festivities but I did get to visit at the beginning of Mardi Gras season. I got to enjoy King Cake and visit a lot of historical sites that were amazing! The friends that I went with went there more for the party aspects so I had to beg them to go on the Marie Lavou Voodoo Tour to see her grave at one of the above ground cemeteries. I really want to go back and see some friends who live there. I have one friend who just moved back after leaving for two years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her family home as well as some of her other family members homes (They all lived on the same block.) Another friend of mine who grew up there during the 50's during segregation and is retiring and returning home to New Orleans. It will be cool to have some people to go and see because I really like this city. I love the food in New Orleans...can you say Creole or Cajun? Either is fine with me! I took a cooking class when I went to visit and learned to prepare a mean Jambalaya! I was recently online trying to order some of the spices from the culinary academy. The seasoning I love most and ran out of is called "Joe's Stuff!" It is a really awesome blend that I get TONS of compliments on and I am not even all that into cooking! For all you cooks out there, it is well worth the $10.95 plus shipping!
If anyone ever gets to New Orleans. go to the New Orleans School of cooking where you not only learn how to prepare some of the best traditional Creole dishes, you get to eat your creation in a really nice sit down lunch. Make sure to pick up a big bottle of "Joe's Stuff!" Its by far the best seasoning I have ever used and am ordering some this week.!

3.) Arizona I had an ex that was a semi truck driver and I used to go to Arizona like twice a month for the longest time. I would pack up all my papers and chill out over the road. I really liked these once a month road trips and loved that there was a really comfortable bed in the truck. I could sleep, grade papers on a little mini desk and even watch TV and play PlayStation 2 games. I mostly used to sleep and just relax and listen to music and watch the scenery go by. Its amazing how plush some of those trucks are inside and I love stopping at truck stops!

4.) Hawaii I went to Hawaii once. I don't know much about this trip or even much about what I saw or did. I do remember it being beautiful and I am dying to go back. I have no idea if I went to Pearl Harbor or not but I do remember going to a volcano and snorkeling at the beach. I don't remember much else because I had only been off drugs for only a few months when I went on that trip. I spent a lot of time attending AA meetings on the beach and trying hard to not want to "suck em up..." the drinks I mean! That is the motto while on the island! I really wanted to try one of those Blue Hawaiian drinks but fortunately, I did not give into temptation! I ended up in Hawaii because my dad wanted to do something nice for my sister and I because my mom had recently died and my dad knew I was really trying to get my act together. He gave me and my sister a trip to Hawaii as a surprise. My pops was like that....a really wonderful guy who never had a ton of money but was super generous with what he did have. I miss him more than I care to think about. I can honestly say I had the best dad in the whole world and wish he was around to see me finally grow up and get my act together.RIP Dad....You really did do a good job raising me...I am more like you in every way than I ever thought possible!

5.) Illinois: Last summer when I went on a trip through the Federal Government's "Teaching American History" grant program, our trip started in Chicago. We learned a lot about industrialization and immigration. We went to the Jane Adams Hull House and also went to Pullman Village. At Pullman Village, we learned about how George Pullman tried to create Utopia for his workers by creating one of the first experimental factory town. The homes even had real indoor plumbing! As the Pullman luxury cars became more and more popular, George Pullman wanted to keep up the productivity of his workers and protect them from the commonplace strikes of the industry and the city. His aim was to prevent labor unrest by creating ideal living conditions. He developed the first self-sufficient factory town just south of Chicago at Lake Calumet. The town had everything from churches and stores, to butcher shops and libraries. The only thing missing were bars. Mr. Pullman felt it would lower productivity. The only bar in the town was in the hotel, and only visiting businessmen were allowed to be served. To make sure people were not living a wild lifestyle, Pullman workers would go in and do home inspections. In truth, the town was considered more of a business venture for Pullman than anything else. Everything remained Pullman's property, including the church. In 1894, he was forced to layoff workers, without lowering rents. Pullman's workers went on strike. The strike received national attention and a visit from Federal Troops. So much for giving people everything they want!

These are pictures of the historic Pullman Village as well as the award he got for creating a model town for his loyal employees.

6.) Tennessee This was the second stop on the Civil Rights Tour that I went on. It was definitely surreal to be at the place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and touring Graceland that very same day. I always did want to go see Graceland and everyone was getting ready for the big Elvis week which celebrated the 30th year of his death. I liked Tennessee and I am going back to Nashville this summer. Here are some pics from Graceland. My favorite part of the tour was the Lisa Marie plane. Ah if I were a rich girl!

7.) Alabama This state was the last stop on the Civil Rights tour I was a part of last summer. If you were to tell me I was going to end up in Alabama, I would have never believed it. My travel list did not seem to have that destination on it and really had no desire to go to this state but I had a great time there. There is so much history there that its amazing! We went to Birmingham which is better known as "Bombingham" Alabama and Montgomery Alabama. There is really something to be said for people in the South. The "Southern Hospitality" thing is for real. I left a bunch of souvenirs in Birmingham along with my notebook so I called the Civil Rights Institute hoping that the lady who had handled our tour could see if it was found and mail it to me. I was more than willing to give her money to send the items to me. Instead she insisted that she meet me in Montgomery the next day to personally deliver my stuff to me. That would NEVER happen in LA! The group I went with also met an amazing chef and artist who catered our farewell dinner. Her name is Michelle Browder and she made the best soul food I have EVER eaten! Amazingly enough, she specialized in cooking healthier versions of soul food classics! She served grilled Talapia fish instead of fried catfish and her riblettes were the best I have ever eaten. I went online to order her "Sweet Jesus Iced Tea" and some "Good Lawdy Lemonade" and guess what? I found out she had closed down her restaurant and catering company as well as her art studio to travel across the country campaigning for Obama! Here is an excerpt from the article I found:

"Other volunteers, like Michelle Browder, had traveled the country stumping for Obama and have been in Billings for weeks to close out the primary election season. Browder, a restaurant owner from Montgomery, Ala., said she closed her business, PJR’s Fish and Barbecue, last July after hearing Obama speak deciding to campaign for him. She sported a straw cowboy hat decorated with Obama pins. In her right hand, Browder held a wooden, red white and blue Obama purse the size of a dinner plate. She was happy to be in Montana."

I always love to see people follow their deams! This lady was one of the most talented and hospitable people I ever got the privilege of meeting. She and her family made our farewell dinner and time in Alabama something I will always remember.

Well, I thought I would get this entire post done tonite but I am tired so I will finish it up tomorrow. It has kind of been fun going back into my travel journals...makes me wanna plan my next trip, how about you? Let me know what you think of my kinder, gentler colors too...I miss posting but damn it takes awhile to write! I am definetly an all or nothing kind of girl!



Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Miss Everyone Hitting Me Up With Comments...Let Me Know Your Still With Me!

OK, another dirty little secret, I miss you guys hitting me up with comments about my blog posts. Perhaps I am feeling needy today but I am starting to feel like an only child! For all you lurkers and readers, it would be nice if you could say hi and let me know that your still reading my posts and what is on your mind. I hate to admit it but even though I have 200 days under my belt, I still need support! Maybe I am just feeling alone today. Better yet, Maybe I should let people ask me random questions like Maggie did a few months ago. Just to let you all know that I am not nuts, I have wanted to smoke this past week so I guess I just need some additional support. I hope everyone is still smoke free and committed to staying away from the NicoDemon! Some days it is definitely easier than others.

My Dirty Little Secret...200 Days Off Cigarettes and I Ca't Seem to Give Up My Fake One!

When I started using Chantix to help me kick the habit, I used to have major anxiety attacks when I would get in the car to drive. For me, driving without lighting up was like breathing and getting no oxygen. To help me get over this problem, I got a ceramic cigarette that is normally used to sneak a toke of weed. I keep it in my car and when the cravings really start, it helps me to just hold it and inhale "air." Yes, imagine it....a girl driving down the street listening to loud music.....smoking air. I know, it s0unds weird but it make the driving experience SO much easier to handle. I figured I might as well come clean and tell you all that I still have my fake cigarette and still use it from time to time! I know, I have been off cigarettes for over 200 days and I still need my "security cigarette" on long drives; particularly when I get stuck in traffic! Yesterday, I was driving down the street puffing on my ceramic cigarette and someone in the next lane looked at me like I was crazy! Well, it may have looked a bit weird but at least I wasn't smoking the real thing! I do not know if you guys still have any major triggers left and what you do to deal with them but I thought I would ask. I guess I should not beat myself up too much over it but I am wondering if I am ever going to feel "normal" driving without a cigarette.

I Was in the Middle of Thirteen Thursday and Part of It Got Erased!

Man, sometimes I really love blogging and other times I hate it! I had just finished my blog for "Thirteen Thursday" and about half of it got erased. The autosave mode does not work while I am at work....talk about a bummer! I will have to redo the parts that were not saved and then post it later. It was good too! Oh well, lets hope I get it finished and posted by today.