Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas Double Glo

I took a memoir writing class in the fall at the Darien Library. I didn't know whether I would ever write a memoir, I just thought it would be fun to learn a new writing skill. Turns out, everyone had to write one piece and present it during the final class. I ended up writing something about my mother. Here it is. I hope you like it.

Lynn Russo Whylly
“Merry Christmas Double Glo”

I was sitting at a red light on Washington Boulevard in Stamford when I saw it. The sign for the cross street – Henry Street – loomed large in front of me. It was the first time I passed through that part of town in almost 40 years, and it caught me off guard, giving me chills.
     I turned my head and stretched as far to the right as I could to get a good look at building – it was long, and brick, with windows that went on forever. Of course, the building was completely renovated now, but from the outside, it still looked like the Christmas decoration factory I remembered – the place where my mother, Nancy, was the switchboard operator for the last 13 years of my childhood.
     My mind flashed back to a day when my brothers, sister and I had visited my mom at work. Diane was 12. I was 10. Jimmy was eight and Tommy was seven. It was the sixties and I remember I was wearing straight-legged knitted stretch pants with stirrups under the feet. They sound hideous now, but back then, they were all the rage and I had a pair in every color of the rainbow.
     As soon as we walked through the front door I could see my mother, off in the corner behind the small glass enclosure. Her tiny cubicle looked lonely and barren in that big empty lobby with its pale green walls and high ceiling. Sitting behind the black switchboard with the headset covering her ears and the microphone in front of her mouth, I watched over and over again as she pulled wires out and up, plugging them in little holes, criss-crossing one over the other to connect callers to their requested parties.
     She had that stereotypical nasal voice of a telephone operator when she answered the phone. “Paper Novelty, one moment. Hold plee-ehs.” “I’ll try that number for you now.” “Paper Novelty, one moment.” “Paper Novelty, I’m sorry, he’s not available right now, may I take a message? Thank you.” “Paper Novelty, hold plee-ehs….”
     Her pointed, cat-like glasses perched on the bridge of her nose. She was wearing her favorite belt – a wide black one pulled tight around her tiny waist, overlapping her dark green blouse and black skirt. Her black hair was pulled to one side. Her long thin legs and black high heels were crossed under the desk.
     During the Christmas season, she would answer the phone differently, saying “Merry Christmas Double Glo.” Double Glo was the nickname for the company logo that appeared on all the packages of decorations. An oval droplet with points at the top and bottom, the top half was green and had eyes and a smiling mouth; the bottom half was white. After Paper Novelty closed its doors in 1975 and my mother went on to work somewhere else, I kept up the tradition by calling her every Christmas season and saying, “Merry Christmas Double Glo.”  
     She decorated her tree well into my adulthood with vintage Paper Novelty ornaments and I loved seeing it every year. White angels for the treetop. Doves sprinkled with gold dust. Teardrops, pointsettias, honeycomb bells, and tinsel. Lots and lots of tinsel. The hooks came in little green and red boxes with Double Glo’s smiling face on them. Now, the ornaments are gone, and as a tribute to my mother I use the box as an ornament, hanging it on our tree using an original Paper Novelty hook.
     My memory shifts to January 2011; times have really changed. My mother is lying in bed in the intensive care unit at Scottsdale Shea Hospital in Arizona. We’re all there, two on each side of her bed. Her eyes are wide open but the ventilator prevents her from speaking. Behind closed doors, it took my brothers, sister and me several agonizing hours to accept the terms of her living will, and to take her off the ventilator.  
     As the holidays get closer, everything reminds me of her. Driving past the street where she used to work. Shopping for the holidays and remembering when the whole family was together at her house. Setting up my Christmas village and my manger, each individual piece a gift from her.
     A horn beeps and I snap back to reality. The light is green and I have to move, but I  strain my neck to see the old building one more time. My heart aches to look at it. “Ohhhh,” I say out loud, feeling the pain. “Oh ma, I wish you could see this.”
      My eyes well up with tears and I want to let them flow, but I’m on my way to a job interview at Pitney Bowes headquarters on Elmcroft Road. I can’t go with puffy eyes and a face blotched from tears, so I take a deep breath and blink a few times, gently dabbing at my eyes with my shirt.
Then I tuck the memory away for another day, another time. Merry Christmas, Mom, Merry Christmas Double Glo.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Amy Grant Puts On Moving Concert

I was blessed to see Amy Grant and Ellie Holcomb perform tonight at the Stamford Palace Theater. Amy's voice is incredibly strong still after all these years. She was wonderful. And every line from every song felt like it was made of gold because the words were so meaningful. She sang her hits, including I Will Remember You and Baby Baby.

Both Amy and Ellie, the gal who came on ahead of her, had beautiful voices and were great songwriters. They also both told some very interesting stories in between the songs and they were beautiful, inspirational stories. I would definitely see them both again.

Also, Amy mentioned that she and Greg, her guitarist, went bike riding down Cove Beach! Wish I had been there to run into her. Of course, I wouldn't have recognized her, but it would have been amazing all the same.

Thanks for coming Amy and Ellie!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Introducing ... April Kry

For three years, I took voice lessons from George Evanish in Trumbull. Great teacher. I love how we would always start out with exercises. oh oh oh oh oh. ee ee ee ee ee. eye eye eye eye eye. ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh. Repeating each one on the next highest note until I couldn't go any farther, then doing the same on the down scale. My range is B to a high E, I think. It's been a while.

Anyway, all these years, we've kept in touch, and he would constantly talk about April, this student of his who he said, she's really got what it takes, I think she's really going to make it. And every time she had a special event where she was singing he would tell me about it.

So last week I picked up Country Weekly magazine from the supermarket newsstand. I don't usually buy it. But I love glossy magazines and I love country. So I thought I would treat myself. And I'm flipping through the pages and lo and behold, on page 23, there is April!

Oh my God! Turns out, she moved to Nashville -- her parents moved there for her career -- and now she has her first single out, "Beauty Queen." And it's really good.

I never met her but I feel like I know her because George told me about her so often. And I'm so excited! I feel like one of our own is making it big!

So I wanted to give her a shout out. Check out April Kry's first single, Beauty Queen, on Amazon or iTunes.

And go to to read more about April Kry!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I Believe I've Been Hoodwinked

Last night, I was driving my mother-in-law home when she asked if we could stop at CVS. I pulled into the parking lot and sat in the car while she went inside.

After a few minutes, a young girl, petite, white and about 20 years old, came up gingerly to my window, and asked me for money. She said she was from Rochester and she was down here for a wedding for her job. She was wearing a short, strapless cocktail dress, so the outfit fit the story.

She looked visibly upset and scared, and had a large black mark on her shoulder that looked like either tar or marker. It was too black to be a bruise. It looked like she had been abused. She said she had no money and her gas tank was empty and she just needed to get home. I gave her everything I had, which was $12.
Her story was kind of original. Not the part about the empty gas tank and needing to get home, that’s as old as the hills. But if she wasn’t upset, she was a damn good actress. And she was wearing that cocktail dress. I didn’t have a line-of-sight to her car so I never saw where she went after she left me.

This morning I was visibly upset because I felt so completely taken advantage of. Last night, I felt it was a 50/50 chance. Right at this moment, I’m fully convinced that she was lying, and I spent the entire drive to work in anger and rage. You know those five stages of grief? Well I think there are also five stages of being taken advantage of too.

Now I’m writing about it to get the weight of it off my chest and to find some sense of closure. What I really want is to see her get caught. So I’m sitting here trying to think about the best way to get back at her and the answer is obvious. Put the scene in a future novel!

Someday, I may be a guest of a talk show and the host will say to me, that’s an interesting scene. How did you come up with that? And I’ll say, “It really happened to me.” All it is for me now is fodder – ammunition for my writing.

In the meantime, here’s how I would like this story to end:  I run into her again in the same parking lot and I say, “Oh you poor thing, you’re still here? My my. I would have thought the $12 I gave you last time would have gotten you home. You poor, poor thing. Here, let me call the police for you, because you certainly need help beyond anything I or anyone else can give you.” At that point, she runs like the wind, never to be seen again, at least, not in our neck of the woods.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hunter Hays Rocks the Palace Theater in Stamford, CT!

I spent last night surrounded by about 2,000 screaming teens and 21-year-old girls and I loved every minute of it.

I went to the Hunter Hayes concert at the Palace Theater in Stamford, and I was screaming just as loud as they were. In addition to several parental chaparones, there were several other adults traveling sans children, so I definitely didn't feel awkward. There were even about 50 men, young and old, in the audience.

Hunter chose Stamford as part of his 24-Hour Road Race to End Child Hunger campaign (#HHRecordWeek), in which he was trying to break the Guinness Book of World Records by performing the most number of concerts in 24 hours. He needed to perform 10 shows in 10 cities, and we were number 7. He had just come from New Haven before climbing the stage at the Palace Theater.

This was the tentative schedule, according to USA Today:

May 9
8 a.m. - New York City, Good Morning America
9:15 a.m. - Boston, Paradise Rock Club
11:30 a.m. - Worcester, Mass., Palladium Upstairs (acoustic show)
1:45 p.m. - Providence, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel
4:15 p.m. - New London, Conn., Garde Arts Center
6:45 p.m. - New Haven, Conn., Toad's Place
9 p.m. - Stamford, Conn., Palace Theatre
11:30 p.m. - South Orange, N.J., South Orange Performing Arts Center
May 10
2 a.m. - Asbury Park, N.J., The Stone Pony (acoustic show)
5 a.m. - Philadelphia, Trocadero

He actually came on in Stamford at 10:10 p.m. and played for 45 minutes. He was so charged and full of energy you would have never known that he had already played six times on Friday!

Of course, he performed his two biggest hits, I Want Crazy and Invisible, and he had the entire audience singing along. We didn't get to hear Wanted, his first big hit, or Somebody's Heartbreak, but it was still a great time.

What a rush! Country music is in my blood. I would definitely go see Hunter perform again!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Band Perry has Heart

I was on the phone with AT&T today and I asked Teresa, the customer service rep, where she was located. She said Knoxville, Tennessee. I said, oh, that's where one of my favorite singers is from -- Kenny Chesney. And we immediately got into a discussion about country music and country singers.

That's when she asked me, did you hear about the nice thing that Band Perry did? And I said, no I didn't. She said that there was a family in Knoxville that died in a fire -- six people. The Band Perry paid for the funeral for all six family members. That was so sweet.

When you're blessed you need to share those blessings, and that is exactly what Band Perry did. Well done, Kimberly, Reid and Neil. God bless you guys.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Oh Beautiful, for Spacious Skies ...

I really love this Coca-Cola Super Bowl XLVIII commercial, where they sing America the Beautiful, most of all for its human diversity. I love that they brought in a variety of countries, cultures and languages. But I especially like that they kept the word "God" in the song. Bravo Coke!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A Great Read: Water for Elephants

I just finished reading Water for Elephants and what a great book it is. Not only did it hold my attention from page 1, but it brought the book to life for me. I felt like I was there.

Water for Elephants is set in the 1920s Prohibition Era. A young man, Jacob Jankowski, has his life turned upside down and finds himself in the middle of a traveling circus. As he begins to travel with the circus, the book unravels the inner workings of this mysterious, quirky business and the people who make their livelihood in it.

You get a sense of the incredibly hard work that goes on behind the scenes as they unload, put up, take down and reload dozens of tents 52 weeks a year and feed the animals every day. And they provide everyone with three square meals a day, under a tent, that requires the loading and unloading of hundreds of pounds of food with every stop.

There is love, there is intrigue, there is humor, and there is compassion in this book. If you're like me and you like your books to take you away to another place and time, this is the book for you. It's now on my top 10 list.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.