Sign here

sign here 2

I recently had surgery.

In fact, I’m recovering at this very moment from a procedure to remove a few girl bits, parts I was initially assured were no longer of use to me, but which I still miss. I mean … we’d been together a long time.

I’ve had a number of operations over the years, and this latest one had me thinking about what is surely the strangest of the pre-operative protocols. It generally goes like this: An overly-cheerful medical professional appears and supplies the patient with myriad papers and a writing utensil.

“These are your consent forms. Let’s go over them.”

At that point, the patient is informed of each and every horrendous thing that might happen during surgery and asked to sign a waiver saying they understand what could occur and that, well, no worries: caveat emptor.

A while back I had some weird anaerobic creatures growing in my sinus cavity – rather icky and dangerous – and so I faced said cheerful medical professional who proffered three forms.

“This one says you might suffer brain damage.”

I signed.

“This one says you might lose your left eye.”

I signed.

“This one says your voice might change.”

“What?”

“Your voice might change.”

“How?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know.”

I like my voice. When I was a TV sports reporter my pipes paid my bills. I also enjoy singing. So I gripped that pen and considered the possibilities. Fran Dresher stuck in my head. “I can’t agree to that.”

Of course, after much consternation, I did sign.  And, when I woke up following the roto-rooting of my head, discovering no discernible vocal changes, I celebrated dodging that particular bullet.

Prior to my recent operation, I faced a few more perilous possibilities.

“You might need a blood transfusion,” the surgeon who would soon be probing my interior explained. “Just initial here.” She smiled sweetly.

I complied. As I did when she mentioned internal-organ damage, infection, and an overabundance of scar tissue. Then she pointed at the last box.

“When you sign here, it means you understand that, since we’re removing your ovaries, you might experience hot flashes.”

I squinted. “No! I went through menopause years ago.”

Yes, but we don’t know if your ovaries are still providing you with hormones.” She shrugged. “You might get hot flashes.”

I paused and considered that I hadn’t suffered greatly during menopause, had remained my normal cheery self throughout. Then I recalled a family dinner when my siblings and I were twenty-somethings. Out of nowhere my mother said, “I had no problems at all during menopause.”

Now my family was always rather lacking in any outward displays of humor, so Mom’s pronouncement was met with only stunned silence. However, I sensed that, internally, we were all laughing so hard food was coming out of our noses.

As I held that pen poised over the form, I reexamined my memories of my own life change. I considered contacting my sweetie pie to ask him his thoughts on that time.

But the surgeon was waiting.

I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes.

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

 

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

 

 

 

Looking for a job when I had one all along

download-1

Anyone who has ever been unhappily unemployed – even for a short time – can testify to the damaging array of emotions that come with that particular package. So much of who we are is wrapped up in what we do.

After I aged out of TV reporting, I often found myself lerry of running into acquaintances: the thought of addressing my lack of a fulltime job enough to make me queasy.

When the Great Recession hit in 2008, a financial meltdown that saw the nation’s unemployment rate rocket to 10%, there were so many unemployed people that support groups were formed. The unemployed could meet and chat and prop one another up amidst their hunt for a paycheck. Being on an extended job search became so common that, I’d like to think, the stigma of unemployment vanished to a certain extent.

When I was without work, there was no one with whom to share my pain. Still married at the time, my now ex was frustrated that I no longer brought home a big paycheck.  I spent my days alone while the world went on without me. I was left wallowing in my own self-pity, which, as anyone who has ever lingered in that neighborhood can tell you, can become an awfully lonely outpost.

One afternoon, I returned home from yet another “thanks, but no thanks” interview, this time with a sports bar manager who had not too subtly appraised my buxomness quotient, multiplied it by my age, and deemed me unworthy, despite my skills with a shaker, my ability to pour a perfect shot every time, and in-depth knowledge of sports that would have kept even sober patrons entertained.

Shortly after that, I found a phone message from a temp agency. They’d gotten me a gig working on the assembly line at a Revlon plant in South Phoenix. I was to report early the next morning.

Now, I had always thought I was a tough girl. But I must be honest here. As I pictured myself Lucy-like – product slipping by on a conveyer belt too fast to handle – I cried. And, unlike that famous red head, I wouldn’t be able to eat my way out of the problem.

Full-time employment would evade me for several years, a time during which the only thing that sustained me was a skill that I had always considered just a means to an end. The fact that officiating amateur sports – an avocation I practiced in order to get my foot in the door in the sports-reporting business – would put food on my table was something I had never considered. And yet, it was the one place that felt normal, that I still had some semblance of control. The one place I felt like me.

Me and Don Baseball

The only place I felt comfortable those years I was without a fulltime job was on the field, especially with my longtime baseball umpiring partner Don Clarkson.

There was a rhythm to my world on the field that, no matter what was happening outside those lines, remained constant. Perhaps it was the need for punctuality, the ritual of donning the uniform, or the customary procedures in regard to game management. Maybe it was the camaraderie: players, coaches, fans, and fellow officials all involved in an endeavor that mattered to them. Or maybe it was that feeling after the game – whether the contest went smoothly or not – that I had done my best and learned from my mistakes.

Funny, it sounds like a job.

I wish I’d thought so at the time.

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

 

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

 

Mom’s bra and a football bottle opener

download-2

I followed my 93-year-old mother into a lingerie shop and immediately squared off with mannequins wearing skimpy multi-hued teddies. I squinted at the plastic bodies, mentally evaluating my ability to squeeze into such delicate and reveling apparel, and had to stop myself from laughing out loud.

As my mom approached the counter, I considered the last time I’d ventured into a store of this type, and, quite frankly, could not remember. As a child of the 60’s, I grew up in a time when women were burning their bras, so it didn’t seem strange that, at 16, I decided I could do without that particular piece of apparel.

Of course, I have worn bras over the years, but have always found them horribly uncomfortable, even those that had been “expertly” fit.  And I have certainly donned a few that were no doubt designed by serious architects on those special occasions when one must put one’s best breast … um foot … forward.

Now, I faced the long wall displaying bras of every conceivable color, shape, and size. Pink, purple, black, and white, they dangled from hangers. Satiny bras, ones with buttons and hooks, wee trainer-types and others that could hold a basketball in each cup.

“Here, I brought them with me,” I heard my mother say. I watched her retrieve two crumpled clumps of fabric from a red cloth bag. “I’ve had this one twelve years.”

“Geez, Mom!”

She ignored me.

“They’re not comfortable.” She blinked at the young lady behind the counter.

“Mom, why don’t you try a camisole? That’s what I wear. Just pull it over your head.” I pointed to a nearby rack where several were displayed.

Both my mother and the saleswoman stared as if I’d suggested something quite ridiculous.

“I never wear a bra.”

The sudden silence in the little shop was overwhelming. I thought I should backtrack my statement and inform them that I did wear sports bras when I worked out, but after quick consideration I wasn’t sure that particular revelation would help.

The buzz of women perusing bras started up again and when my mother was led to a dressing room, I was left alone with the dainty attire. Frilly white garters were displayed with thigh high stockings. Countless little bows popped up everywhere, making me wonder who had tied those tiny decorations.

Then, my eyes were drawn to a Kelly-green rectangle tied with a white shoelace. Intrigued, I walked over. I was astonished to find dishtowel displaying three black-and-white-clad figures, football officials signaling an illegal block, time out, and personal foul. A football-shaped bottle opener was attached.

football dishtowel 2

Sometimes, when I’m dreaming, things that don’t belong in a particular setting periodically appear, but I was certainly awake. I wondered at the appearance of these football-themed objects, so out of place in a store awash in delicate female finery, and felt an instant kinship.

Then I heard my name. My mother appeared from the dressing room. Five feet tall, white hair, facing 94 in July.

“What do you think? I’m wearing the camisole.”

“It looks fine, Mom.”

She gazed down at her chest. “I think … it makes me look old.”

Often, in my life, I have blurted out my thoughts without thinking. “You are old, Mom.” Tickled my tongue. “Ancient, in fact. No one is looking at your boobs.” But you’d be proud of me, because I just nodded.

Later, my mother paid for her purchase. Not the camisole.

And, of course, I had to buy the dishtowel and football bottle opener.

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

 

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

 

 

 

A chance encounter that changed my life

hockey puck and stripes

It’s strange how life throws seemingly inconsequential little decisions at us that, in retrospect, change everything so momentously it almost takes your breath away.

“I’ve got some tickets to see the Caps play tonight. Do you wanna go?” My crazy aunt, who I lived with in Washington, D.C., waved an envelope at me. She was my mother’s sister, and while she also bore the signature red-hair that coursed through that side of the family, the 14-year difference in their ages might as well have been 50.

“Well?  Judy unwrapped the white towel on her head and began drying her hair. “Come on. You love hockey.”

She was right. I’d grown up in an ice arena: had earned a not-very-impressive-in-the-skating-world bronze medal in ice dancing from the United States Figure Skating Association. The best part of skating was that there were always hockey players hanging around. There was something so endearing about the way they waddled about in their padded shorts and big sweaters, and how that awkward stride disappeared once they streaked onto the ice. Not surprisingly, most of my early beaus were hockey players.

Later that night, Judy and I sat with her friend Richard. We watched the woefully pitiful Washington Capitals lose, something they did often and with singularly pathetic style. As we were leaving the Cap Center, he offhandedly mentioned that he was an amateur hockey referee and bemoaned the fact that there just weren’t enough hockey officials to go around.

“Hey, Annie skates!” My aunt grabbed my arm.

“Wanna be a referee?” Richard asked.

“Sure.”

A few weeks later, I dutifully completed the paperwork, wrote out a check, and applied to become a referee with the Southern Hockey Officials Association. And then I waited.

And then a year went by.

If you’re thinking here that I didn’t pursue hockey officiating with any great zeal, you’d be right. While I dreamed of becoming a sportscaster, I’d been supporting myself by working as a waitress at a tony Georgetown restaurant called the Foundry, a place packed with beautiful people, actors, and professional athletes, where sleep generally came somewhere around dawn and copious amounts of alcohol lulled me into the habit of rising by midafternoon. The place was like working in a candy store and it kept me quite entertained.  So much so that my parents practically wept at my lack of interest in acquiring a real job, lamenting that “We put you through college for this?

Then one day I received a phone call.  My application had been found. The man asked if I still wanted to be a hockey referee.

In retrospect – and considering the training I would later receive in other sports – the requirements for becoming a hockey official were ridiculously simple. There was only a short classroom rules clinic and a written test. No one even asked if I could skate. Had they, I would have replied “of course,” without even thinking about the fact that figure skates and hockey skates are rather fundamentally different. I would learn this – to my everlasting embarrassment – when I took the ice for my first game.

I smoothed my long-sleeve black-and-white striped shirt with the freshly sown on patch proclaiming me a member of AHAUS: the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States. My hockey skates felt unnaturally lose. Figure skates, by comparison, reach higher up the ankle and are purchased a size smaller than a skater’s feet, which requires a breaking-in period of extreme discomfort, but which ensures a tight fit.

Gingerly, I stepped onto the ice and a thigh-high child almost knocked me over. The rink was teeming with tiny people – wee boys so small their jerseys almost touched their ankles, and while some zoomed about confident in their skating ability, others leaned heavily on those sawed-off sticks in order to keep their balance.

I grabbed a frozen puck from a bucket near the gate and blew my whistle, feeling a bit embarrassed when the parents on hand turned and gazed at me. If they were surprised I was a woman – a look I would get to know well – they didn’t show it. Perhaps it was because the players were so little. These were kids who would sit on the ice when they were tired and cried when they fell down, so a mom-type skating around with them probably didn’t seem all that strange.

When I’d lined the players up – helmets tilting rakishly on tiny heads – I grasped the puck between my thumb and index finger. The trick was to drop the disc flat on the ice so it wouldn’t roll away.

As it turned out, no one paid any attention to my first attempt at a face-off. That’s because, as I leaned over, I discovered there was something else that made hockey skates vastly different from figure skates: toe picks. As in, there aren’t any on hockey skates. Yes, I knew this. But I had never considered just how much I’d counted on those pointy projections all my life. Intended to help figure skaters take off and land jumps, sloppy skaters like me leaned on them when lazy. So, as I bent over to drop the puck, there were no toe picks to keep me upright.

My next view was of little boys’ quizzical faces staring down at me. And that was not the worst of it. Toe picks had always provided an easy way to get up from a fall. So, I rolled over, got on my knees, and without thinking jammed the front of my blade into the ice.

I went down again.

And again.

I finally did get up and stay up, but I don’t remember much else about that first game. Still, something momentous happened, despite my inauspicious start in officiating.

On the drive home, the idea began to form in my brain. What if I could officiate all those team sports I had never been able to play: football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball? What if I could learn the rules well enough to convince all those naysayers who insisted a woman could never be a competent sportscaster that they were wrong?

I would spend the next five years officiating amateur sports, working games in between my waitress shifts, believing that somewhere there was a TV news director who might take a chance on a woman who understood the games from an officiating perspective.

And that is exactly what happened.

Anne Montgomery Referee copy

 

But what I never expected is that forty years later I’d still be out on the field.

 

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)

 

Mystery/Suspense

Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.