Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random Fact #5

Random Fact #1 -- I was a cocktail waitress in Nevada
Random Fact #2 -- I was married to a professional gambler
Random Fact #3 -- I am multi-racial

Random Fact #4 -- I graduated from college in 3 yrs


Random Fact #5 -- I am an actress.  Yep, I actually had a supporting role in an independent film shot in Dale, OK . 

Outsiders Productions is an OK film company founded by Adam Hampton & Jason Alexander.  They were film students at ECU & one day I saw an interview with them in the school newspaper.  They were still looking to cast the part of the lead characters step-mother.  Well, I was the right age, I have a drama degree, & at the time I was going through my brother's last year of life in the world.  I needed to find something to do that was just for me.  Something that took my mind off all that was going on in my life at the time.  So, I called them up & auditioned.  I had such a blast working on this project.  They guys delivered the rough cut to me just weeks before Dave died.  He was so excited to see his big sis on film.  So he got to see me act before he left for his next adventure.  After "Looking for Hope"  I did some extra work with a small speaking part for Outsiders in the film "Bowlin Alley" shot in Ada, OK at the local bowling alley.  Very funny film &, again, I had a blast working with these talented young people.  Who knows, maybe they will have another part for me one day.  In the meantime, I have the DVD to leave to my grandkids.  I also did a short film at ECU for one of the film students called "The Widows Club".  It is a very dark comedy.  Again, such fun to do the part.

So, I sometimes think about getting involved again with theater, but I really prefer the film genre.  I enjoy the process of filming, being able to look at the dailies & critique my work before it is finalized.  Will I ever aggresively pursue an acting career?  No, but it is fun to get outside yourself & be someone else once in a while.  I found so much in my own life to draw on for the character of Gretta in "Looking for Hope".  It was a creative outlet to get rid of some baggage.  Plus it was just fun.  We filmed in the rain, cold, heat, inside, outside.  But I loved the process.  I really need to get back in touch with those guys.  See what they have going on.

Oh,  BTW I think this is funny.  When I was traveling to Seattle every three months to spend time with my then fiance (and working on "Looking for Hope" at the time), I flew in one evening with Lobo in tow (he was just 6 months old & my only furkid at the time) & met Big Guy curbside outside of baggage claim.  As we were leaving there was very little traffic (quite unusual for SeaTac) & he commented that there was huge traffic jam getting into the airport so he was surprised that we were just flying out with no problems.  I laughed as I was putting on my shades & said "Dodged the paparazzi once again".

blessed be...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back In The Day//Random Fact #4

To recap:

  1. Random Fact #1 -- I was a cocktail waitress in Nevada
  2. Random Fact #2 -- I was married to a professional gambler
  3. Random Fact #3 -- I am multi-racial

Random Fact #4

I graduated from college in 3 yrs (actually 3 years 3 months). 

I started to college two weeks after I graduated from High School.  I was so excited to move away from home.  First time I had ever been able to make my own decisions, choose who I would date without asking permission from my father.  The freedom was quite mind-boggling.  But I loved living in the dorm, choosing how my days would progress, making new friends. 

During Summer School, only one dorm was open back in the day.  So it was co-ed with sections for girls & sections for guys.  I went to school back in the day when girls were still locked in after certain hours & you had to sign in & out of the dorm when you left.  I lived in co-ed housing during the Summer & an all girls dorm Fall & Spring semesters. The guys had no such restrictions.  Can you say double standard!!!????!!!  But still it was more freedom than I had ever known in my life.

I advised my parents that so long as a dorm was open & classes offered I would not be coming home.  I didn't go home on weekends, I only went home on breaks & between semesters when the dorms were closed.  I took classes anytime they were offered.  I went regular semesters & what was then called mini-mesters (classes offered between regular semesters).  In doing so, I was a Freshman, a Junior, a Senior.  I completely skipped my Sophomore year because of my credit hours. 

I dated an art student, several Viet Nam vets, & finally my first husband.  We were "dropped"(a pendent with his initials), promised (I got a very small , can you say chip, diamond promise ring one Christmas of which my dad made fun), engaged the following Summer (a 1/4 carat diamond ring he picked out which sadly I never liked. May have foretold the direction of the marriage), & finally married our last year in college & lived in Married Student Housing.  I liked being a wife.  After all, my parents by their own admission had sent me to college to find a husband.  I wanted to go to law school, travel to Europe, but none of that happened. He graduated the following May & I graduated in August.  We both worked at the bookstore on campus plus my Mom continued to pay for my tuition & books.  He was going to school on the GI Bill.  For college students we were very well off.  Our friends ate at our apartment often because I cooked & we had the money to grocery shop for steaks, etc.  It was a good time.  I baked all the time so our friends who worked on the ground crew were always knocking on the door for snacks.  That was one of the best times in my life.

So, I earned my B.A. in Education (major in Drama, minor in English) in 3 years (1970-1973).

Go Tigers!!!!

blessed be...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

7 Random Facts - Part 3


I am multi-racial.  The pictures above honor some of my heritage. 

While I was blond, blue-eyed w/freckles when I was a child I am in fact of the following heritage:

  • Cherokee
  • Choctaw
  • African-American
  • Irish
  • English
  • German
  • Southern
My Great-Great-Great Grandfather was a Confederate soldier -The Stars & Bars fly over his grave every Memorial Day.  I have the right to be a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy (I am not nor do I have any plans of joining).  I am decended from Southerns on both sides of my family. 

I am Cherokee, Irish, German (3rd or 4th generation in the US), & English on my Mother's side -Choctaw & Irish on my Dad's.  My African-American ancestors come from my Dad's Choctaw side.  When my brother was first on the APD, he went on a call one night, & he advised the person to whose house he responded to come to the station the next day to file a complaint.   When the person arrived, he was asked which officer had come on the call.  He had failed to remember the name but responded "the black officer".  There were no African-American officers on the force.  My brother looked like a full-blood Indian but he did have strong African-American features also so I guess that dark night that is what the person saw. 

All my life I have lived with people looking at me & making an assumption that I am white.  I have had some very troubling comments made to me &/or in my presence because the person thought it was ok to make a prejudicial statement or use a derogotory epitath in my presence based on that assumption.  I am quick to voice my disgust & have on several occasions asked "What nationality/race do you think I am?"  Then I proceed to tell my heritage.   It is always interesting to see the look on someone's face when I let them know that I am a "....... Indian" , "lazy Irish", ".....German", "Redneck Southerner", or that I have black ancesters. 

I consider myself to be a citizen of the World,  a member of the Human Race, an Indian (with no Indian name).  I have the attitude of a Black Woman, the gift of Second Sight that comes from both my Irish & Native blood, & the gift of compassion that comes from identifying with all of my ancestors.  I was not raised to be prejudiced.  That was the one good thing my parents did in raising me.    But, I also was not raised to be embrace my heritage.  I came to that on my own.  I have embraced all that has gone into making me the person I am today.  I know who I am.  I know why I am who I am.

I am proud to be all of the above.  As my license plate proclaims "G.R.I.T.S."  an acronim for Girl Raised in the South I am proud of the positive things it means to be Southern - grace, hospitality, a sense of community.   I have African-American art in my home, I smudge my house & myself with sage in the Native tradition.  I honor the beliefs of all my ancestors.  I honor Mother Earth, my Totem (who is important in both my Tribes), my gifts of Second Sight, visions, my intuition which comes from both my Irish & Native ancestors.  I think my story-telling ablilites come from both my Irish & Native heritage.  The Irish are wonderful storytellers & Native Americans have always used verbal history before there was a written history. 

I am blessed to have had all the ancestors who came before me.  They live within my Spirit & influence my Journey each day.

I bet you know which Wolf I fed.

blessed be...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back in the Day - Part 2

Well, here we are dear readers.

To continue along the Casino road of my life.  Random Fact #2

I was once married to a professional gambler.  Yep, Dud #2, aka Cowboy, was a professional card player.   He had made his living that way for years before I met him.  I had sat at the card tables with him many times.  He was a good player.  He knew odds & percentages.  He knew the angles, he calculated his moves.  He didn't take risks.  He was a solid player.  Or so it seemed

Let me say, however, that he had a glitch or two when we were in Mesquite.  He went to Vegas one day to play & proceeded to come home without the Christmas fund.  I could have killed him.  My son had Christmas though.  I saw to that.

Then...The day we moved to Las Vegas, one of his friends/fellow card players from WA won the World Series of Poker.  While Cowboy was happy for his friend he was also very jealous.  Kept saying "I'm a better player, I could win that."   Now, here we were in Vegas - again I was looking for a job & told many times I was not the "Vegas Type", translated to mean no silicone.  Well, DUH!!!   Now, Cowboy was on a mission to prove to everyone he was a better card player than a guy who just won the World Series of Poker.  CRAP!!  As if I didn't have enough going on in my life.  Now he was going to go back to playing cards for a living as he had done for several years before I met him.  CRAP!!!  Just when I had, or so I thought, convinced him that a full-time job was really what he should be doing.  His idea of a full-time job was to go to work in a poker room as a shill.  CRAP!!!  He still had to gamble with his own money to keep the game going.  My idea of a full-time job was dealing blackjack which he had done in Reno years before, tending bar which he could do, working in a hotel or a store.  Selling cars, he had done that years before too.  But, he would have none of my ideas so back to the card rooms he went.  He would have good days.  In fact, he had a real run of good luck for quite sometime.  Then he would have to pawn his diamond rings to get another buyin to a game.  Those rings were in & out of the pawn shop quite a few times over the next few years.  I found a job. he played cards.  When he was winning he was a joy to be around, but when he lost I would have just as soon moved to Alaska & stayed there til his luck returned.  I was told so many times I was bad luck because he did not feel that I was supportive enough of his career.  CAREER!!!!????  What career???  I was working to support 3 people & keep the bills paid. His money went to the card rooms.  Never really knew how much he won/lost. 

During the last year we lived in Vegas he got on a very bad losing streak.  He had lost before but never that badly.  He was all stressed out, had gained 70-80 lbs and was mad, really mad, all the time.  He had been abusive to me over the years (it starts gradually & then escalates.  That's how you get sucked into the pattern) but now he was downright mean.  Verbally, physically, emotionally.  I realized, and my friends started to comment, that I was very very afraid of him.  He was an ex-boxer & much bigger/stronger than me.  I called Gamblers Anonymous for advice.  He stopped gambling all together but then he just sat around the house all day moping & harassing me at work or he would come to the bar & sit there all day watching me.  My life was deteriorating around me rapidly.  He finally, in a moment of weakness, admitted that he had been winning on the tables all along. But as he would leave to come home there was this one particular poker machine that just called his name, then proceeded to eat his lunch.  He just knew he could beat that machine, it became personal.  So the winnings all got pissed away to a mechnical opponent.  At this point, I filed for divorce.  When that happened he called a childhood friend in OR & flew there to try to get his head back on straight.  As abused women will do, I panicked.  How would I survive all alone, just me & the kid, in Vegas??  Looking back I would have done quite well.  After all I was making really good money & living well especially since I no longer had a gambler dragging me down.  Friends offered to babysit for me, I was the manager at the bar by now so I rearranged the schedule so I no longer worked nights.  Then he called.  I had a major panic attack, quit my job, packed up myself & the kid & hit the road to OR.  Drove straight through from Vegas to Portland stopping only for gas & drive thrus. 

And, that dear readers is how I got to Oregon.

blessed be...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back in the Day--Part 1

My good friend, Barry @ http://www.sulustu.blogspot.com/ tagged me for this meme. Seven Random/Weird Things about yourself. Well, ya'll probably know there are several weird things about me LOL. You guys know alot about me already since I tend to be very honest about myself. So, for several days, I have been thinking what 7 random/weird things would I tell that are new, interesting, etc. Today is Number 1 on the list. I will post them, as Barry did, in installments. Maybe one each day, maybe once a week. Who knows, we'll just see where the muse leads.
Now, you're probably wondering what the pictures above are all about. A map with Mesquite, NV starred & the shot down what is the main drag in Mesquite. Well, welcome to Random Fact #1.
In 1982, I moved to this small sleepy town on the Nevada/Arizona border. My now ex was offered a job there selling time-shares to an old resort from the 40's that was being refurbished. There were very few places to live & even less places to work. I had always done office work. Well, we spent all our money moving, getting set up in an apartment, etc. His job fell through or so he told me. We were out of money, my parents would not help, he had no family who would help, we were stuck & broke. Really broke. He refused to look for work-he just sat down & had a breakdown-then he began gambling which was how he had made his living for several years. But that is another story for another time. I knew I had to find a job-I had my son to think about. Cowboy (Dud #2) suggested I go down to the Peppermill Casino. Casino???? Me???? What the hell would I do in a CASINO??? The Peppermill was the only place hiring, really the only place to work at the time. So, I applied. Did I go to work in the office?? No, I became a COCKTAIL WAITRESS. Yep, shy, naive, scared little girl from OK became a cocktail waitress. Very short denim skirt with fringe so short it had the tights sewed in. Tight vest & western shirt with cowboy boots. I, for those of you who do not know me personally, have very long legs. In fact if I didn't I would only be 4 foot tall. So, 5'7" is mostly legs, especially when you weigh only 100 lbs. I refused to have any pictures taken of me in that outfit, but I wore it every day for the year it took for save the funds to move into Las Vegas. I had hair down to my waist, lots of make-up, & a drive to feed my son, provide a home.
I hated that job in the beginning. I was just mortified by it. After all, good girls in OK just didn't work in a CASINO for gosh sakes & wear skirts up to here & shirts open down to there. But, after I learned the ropes of cocktailing & began to learn how to tend bar it got to be fun. Plus, I made REALLY good money. A bad day was $100 in tips. I rarely had a bad day. I also started to find my voice, my strength, my ability to survive. I developed a very sarcastic sense of humor, a way with words, I could cut an out of line customer to pieces with a look & a finely phrased insult. My regulars loved me. I found my sense of humor. In the beginning I was funny because I was so green I would say something never realizing the double meaning. People laughed. Sometimes I had to have it explained to me. Usually I was then mortified, but I learned. I became worldly, developed street smarts, & I learned to make ditzy work to my advantage. I can still turn it on & off. I learned I liked interacting with people day in & day out. I learned I was very good at slinging drinks. My memory came in very handy because I would remember what someone drank a year later. I was good at remembering faces & drinks. Not so good with names but that didn't matter. I learned to standup for myself. Stuck my finger in the face of a very large Hell's Angel one day & gave him what for because he whistled to get my attention. Advised him I was not a German Shepard & that he could call me Miss or by my name if he needed to get my attention. He apologized & always came by if he was in the area. Nice guy.
I've been pinched, patted, poked, touched inappropriately & handled it all by myself. Guy knew he had got hold of a she-wolf if he got out of line with me. I did not take that kind of treatment. Oh, I would go home in tears sometimes, but the offender never saw me cry. He always got a piece of my attitude. I never had to use security to handle a drunk. I learned to handle them myself. I gained respect for myself & in turn gained respect from my customers.
I met so many interesting people. Miners, broken-down cowboys (one of them always reminded me of the cowboy in the song "Queen of the Silver Dollar" ), gamblers, bikers, truckers, the down-trodden, the down & out. Sad, lonely people. But I liked them all. I found their stories enlightening, I found my love for people that had been lying dormant in my spirit. I truly cared about them all.
Every Sunday, the polygamist families would come for dinner (that's the noon meal for all ya'll non-Southerners) at the buffet. They also ran the local grocery store. Very polite, never looked right or left as they passed the bar heading for the restaurant. Husband in front, wives single file behind him, kids following their moms. Even in the grocery they would not carry on a conversation. I would have really liked to know them better. I bought my car tag in Colorado City, AZ. Everyone there was also wary of outsiders, understandably so, but they took my money, gave me a car tag, & watched me leave town.
So, after leaving Mesquite & moving to Las Vegas, I continued my career move as a cocktail waitress later becoming a bartender then moving to bar/restaurant management. I liked the bar business, the late hours, the people, the challenges, & the ability to make more money than I had ever made in my life. By today's standards, I still made more money in Vegas than I make now. At one time I would jokingly say "Someday I'll be the World's Oldest Bartender". That was not meant to be.
In that line of work, my shoulder was dislocated when I fell behind the bar & almost ripped the muscle out of my left arm on the handle of a beer cooler & my thumb was dislocated because a drunk who happened to be a lawyer in a suit/tie bent my right thumb back until it touched my wrist. Hurt like hell. A biker pulled him off me. God love my bikers!!
I have broken up more bar fights than I care to remember, hauled guys off each other & threw them out the door, I know how to use the business end of a pool cue when I need to. I have mopped up blood, bandaged wounds, counseled, listened, cajoled, threatened, hugged, & cried with my customers. I never thought anything about jumping out from behind the bar & grabbing a guy throwing punches. I could usually have him out the door before he realized a "girl" was throwing him out. I was brave... or maybe just stupid. But whatever it worked. I never used bouncers in the places I managed. They were just an invitation for someone to take a swing at them. But, I never never tried to break up a fight between women. I always called the cops for that. Women fight dirty. They can be much more dangerous than men. I knew my limitations.
I have heard many stories standing behind the bar. But the one that has haunted me for over 20 yrs was told to me by a regular customer that I had known for years. He & his children had gone up in a private plane with a friend. He was holding his baby son (not yet 2 yrs old) on his lap. The door came open & his son was sucked out of his arms into space. He told me of finding his son's little shoe, then his body, how it felt when he picked the baby up. He told me how guilty he still felt. He cried from sadness, guilt, remorse, memory, & a hurt that will never leave him. I can still see that picture in my mind. I don't think it will ever leave me. I think of that man often. May Great Spirit give him peace & the ability to forgive himself.
I cocktailed/tended bar in Nevada for 7 years. Then I continued the Journey in Oregon, bartending/managing bars & taverns for another 7 years.
So, my Journey toward today, the person I am meant to be, began in a Casino in the Nevada desert, far from OK, far from all that was familiar, far so very far from who I thought I was & would always be. The road has lead me many places, to many experiences that have shaped me. The Journey will continue with my remaining 6 facts.
blessed be...

Friday, September 11, 2009


We all have something that stood out, touched us, made us cry, made us sad, made us angry, gave us back our patriotism on that day 8 years ago.

As all Americans did, I watched the horror unfold. I called my brother, a police officer, & told him "I love you" "Be careful". No one knew what would continue to unfold that day. What else might happen.

As the day(s) unfolded the memory that has stayed with me was this:

A NY firefighter went into one of the Towers & did not come out. His brother, a NYPD officer, stood vigil at the point where he entered the building vowing not to move until his brother's body was recovered. He refused food/drink. He stood vigil for his fallen brother. Today that still brings tears to my eyes & an ache in my heart. Standing vigil...

blessed be....