So, tomorrow is November 1st. That can only mean one thing--the holiday season is upon us! In less than a month, there will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas will follow up shortly after.

Last year, I had Thanksgiving at home, but then went to visit my parents for Christmas. I don't have anything planned yet for the holidays and the calendar seems to be rushing me.

What are your plans for the holidays? Will there be huge family gatherings? Or quiet days at home? Is the dwindling economy a factor? Will the turkey be smaller, the gifts fewer? Tell me about it...

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I've been on Facebook for about a year now. I've reconnected with so many folks that I know I couldn't have found any other way. But, it's made me long for folks that I still can't find. There are some people in my past that I desperately wish that I could speak to again.

One is my elementary school librarian. She was great. I loved her. She was the first person that I met that shared my passion for books. Of course, I knew that folks read. But I didn't know anybody else that would rather read than eat, sleep, or do anything else. Until I met her. She introduced me to books and authors that I had never even heard of. She explained the Caldecott and Newberry awards to me. She listened to me. She even gathered a group of my friends together and somehow got us into the American Folklife Festival down on the grounds of the National Mall. Wait, I don't mean that we attended the Festival, we were IN the festival! I think we did it for 2 or 3 years straight. About 10 years ago, I tried to reach her through the school and was told that she had retired in the 80s. I surely wish that I could find her. Last year, I searched the internet and found a person with her name in the Denver area. I called and left a message, but no one returned my call. I often think of her. As a small child, I'm sure that I didn't convey to her what a huge influence that she was on me and how she impacted the person that I became. I'd like to thank her for caring about me.

Are there folks in your lives that you wish you could reconnect with? Why? Have you tried? Why not?

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I don't celebrate Halloween. I don't participate at all. But I know that some of you do, so I tried to think of a creepy Halloween story to tell. And then I remembered this one. It was about 15 years ago. I'd taken the day off to attend the Halloween Parade at my daughter's school. After the parade, I visited a nearby mall and wandered into a record store.

The record store was empty, except for a salesgirl. As I walked in, she looked up to greet me, but seemed rather startled that I was there. I shrugged it off. But, soon I realized that she was followng me around the store and staring at me, though whenever I turned to look at her, she pretended to be busy. I thought that perhaps she was trying to catch me shoplifting. I found whatever I wanted and took it to the counter. She came up and just stood there staring at me. It was quite bizarre. I had to ask her to ring it up so that I could leave. She was just gaping at me. I grew very uncomfortable. Finally, she said that I was the spitting image of her friend. Her DEAD friend. Her friend that had passed away a few months before, very tragically. I was officially creeped out. I grabbed my bag and left.

Later that night, while taking the kids trick or treating, I broke my ankle. I ended up in DC's George Washington University Hospital's Emergency Room. There was an endless parade of injured folks that came through that night, most costumed. It was a long night. I waited in a corridor, along with many other folks. I was sitting in a wheelchair.

Here's where the story got creepier. I noticed that the woman across from me, who was there with her injured son, was staring. It didn't bother me much, though, as I was trying to figure out what I could say to get to the doctor to amputate my foot. That's how badly it hurt. After 45 minutes or so, she spoke. She apologized for staring, but that I looked just like her sister. Her DEAD sister. Her sister that had passed away a few months before, very tragically. The SAME person that the chick earlier had asked me about.

The woman at the hospital got on the pay phone and called family members, who in turn, started coming to the hospital to gawk at me. When the mother of the deceased arrived, she looked and me and started crying. She took my face into her hands and looked at me for a long time. She thought that I WAS her child. I no longer wanted an amputation, I just wanted crutches to get out of there. She gave me her phone number and asked me to call her the next day. I told her that I would, though I knew that I wouldn't.

I was finally released. I didn't make the promised call but it bugged me. A few days later, I decided to call, but I couldn't find the number. I went back to the record store. I never saw the clerk again. No one has ever asked me about that girl again since then. Creepy, huh?

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Do you know who this is? Lean in and look close. Do you recognize him? I thought not.

His face is not one that's familiar to American women. However, once I tell you what his name is, you'll know his claim to fame.

I'll give you one more try. Study that face. Is it familiar at all? Fine then. Fine! I'll tell you--It's Jimmy Choo!

And the reason why Jimmy Choo is on my mind is because "Yours Truly" finagled an invitation (Thanks FOJ Claudio!!) to a private reception next week at his boutique here in South Florida. He's launching a new line, in partnership with Elton John's AIDS charity.

And for those of you who STILL don't know who Mr Jimmy is-- he is THE IT man of luxury shoes and handbags . He is Chinese, but born in Malaysia and made his first shoe at 11 years old. His brand of Jimmy Choo shoes is synonymous with the finest handmade shoes. And if you've never treated your little piggies to a handmade shoe, seek out one of his boutiques and simply try on a pair. But do not, I repeat--DO NOT look at the price tags, for fear that you will faint on the spot. The cheapest pair that I found, under the SALE tab of the website, was more than $200.

Anywho, I hope that I'm able to write something about the Jimmy Choo boutique next week. Since I plan to be way to busy trying on shoes, prepare yourselves that there may not be pictures!

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It's this time of the year, that I miss being up north. This is the time of year when there are hay rides to go on, pumpkin patches to visit, and jackets to be warm.

But nooooooo--not here. Here, there's the beach to visit, air conditioners to be turned on, and shorts to be worn. Not to mention that 80 degree temps and going to football games simply do NOT go together.

What's going on in your hood? What kind of fall activities do you all have? TRADE YA!!!

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It was on this day in 1911 that Mahalia Jackson was born in New Orleans. She is considered the first Queen of Gospel Music.

When I was very young, not even old enough to go to school. Granny took me to see her sing. It was a little church in DC, I have no idea where. I just remember her voice being so powerful that it made me cry. The only other thing I remember is that I thought she was the most beautiful woman that I had ever seen.

Here's a peek at her talent..




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I don't have a lot of girlfriends. I know a lot of women, but very few are "girlfriends." However, when I meet one, I know right off.

A few weeks ago, I emailed someone to secure an invitation to an event that I wanted to cover for Examiner.com. Another person returned the email. She was nice enough, and after a short volley of emails back and forth, I had all the information that I needed.

A few days later, she emailed me again and said that I should meet a friend of hers, a local jewelry designer. She sent me some background on "Marilyn." Marilyn emailed me a few days later and we set up a time to meet. When she suggested the Bistro at Nordstrom in my favorite mall, I knew that she was my kind of girl.

When I walked up to the Bistro, I didn't see her. So I looked around. I'd never even spoken to her on the phone, but as soon as I saw her, I knew it was her and I knew that I liked her. It was instant. Lunch was a blur. We talked and laughed and shared and giggled. It was so natural and so comfortable, as if we've known each other for years. She was funny and smart and chic and down to earth, all at the same time. She bought jewelry for me to see. I told her about Twitter. She invited me to a fundraiser that she's chairing. I told her about a potential client that I wanted to introduce her too. In the week since the lunch, we've texted and emailed each other. And we have another lunch scheduled already for this week!

Why is it that sometimes folks you meet are instantly "friends" and other folks have to "grow on you"? Have you had these kinds of experiences? Aren't they great??

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I was born with a very prominent Shopping Gene. Unfortunately, my DNA lacks the Money Gene. In it's place, I have the Poor Gene. The Poor Gene is dominant.

But despite this, I want some shoes. There is something very therapeutic for me about holding a bag that holds a box of brand new shoes in my size.

I plan to buy some shoes today. My husband is going to behead me. Lucky for you, he will probably leave my hands intact, so I will be able to continue to blog.

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Today, the iPod turns 8 years old. Seems like we've had them forever, huh? That first iPod didn't have a lot of features--just portable music. Now iPods have video cameras, photos, movies, applications, etc.

I resisted the temptation, and only in the last few years did I get an iPod. But I certainly do love it. It usually stays in the the car, but I'll take it out if I'm traveling.

Do you have one? When did you get it? Has it changed your life? How?

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Where were you during those three weeks in October when two men held the DC area hostage, killing ten and injuring three others?

I remember it vividly. A year after 9/11, things were just getting back to normal, when all heck broke lose. I lived in Montgomery County, Maryland, a county that typically had 15 murders a year. Everyone knew immediately that something was amiss when we had 5 murders in 1 day. For the next three weeks, life was anything but normal. Every trip outside the house was tense.

I worked, but I pulled my children out of school when a young man was shot at school. I've always said that 9/11 was the single most terrifying day that I'd ever lived through. The Beltway Sniper crisis was 3 weeks of terror. Friends checking on friends. Family checking on family. Neighbors checking on neighbors.

We were so relived when it all ended. I was also saddened when it was revealed that one of the snipers was so young, and had lived such a tragic life. I know that he killed without regard, but my heart still breaks when I think about him. I also think of Conrad Johnson, the last victim, who I knew from the neighborhood. He was murdered in the early morning on this very day, seven years ago. I think of all the victims and their families, especially this time of year. And I think of our police chief, Charles Moose, who was thrust into the national spotlight. Many folks didn't care for him, but he was always TOPS in my book...

I wonder if we'll ever understand what it was all about?

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Ok. I confess. I watch Dr Phil. hehehe...Anyhow, this morning Dr Phil played referee between two groups of women--Working Moms vs Stay at Home Moms. I had no idea how controversial this was. There was major attitude and at some points, insults were hurled. I thought it might come to blows.

Both groups thought their way was the best and the other way was the stupidest thing that they had ever heard. Whatever happened to doing what's best for you and your family?

I'm a working mother. My mother was a working mother. I never really gave it a lot of thought when I was growing up. Heck, I LOVED that my mom worked, that meant that I ate!!! I also have friends that had stay at home moms. Those moms were cool too. I don't think either option is an automatic "best." Again, folks should do what's best for them. And if you are on the outside, looking in--STAY IN YOUR LANE!!!

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While watching Dr Phil this morning, I realized something about myself. I have an addictive personality, at least according to him.

I find things and become obsessed about them. It generally passes when I find a new obsession. I think it's harmless since it has been things like BeJeweled2, Twitter, raspberry lemonade water ice, and french fries from McDonald's. At least it's not cigarettes or crack, huh?

Are you a fellow addict? What kinds of things do you obsess about?'

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So, this was Homecoming Weekend for my daughter. But Homecoming has drastically changed from the ones that I remember. When did it change?

First of all, why can one not find a simple, conservative evening dress for a young lady? It seems that if she isn't willing to "let it all hang out," she will be hard pressed to find something suitable. Why is everything strapless or mini skirt short? Why are slits way up the thigh or plunges so deep in the back that you have to remind yourself to "say no to cracks"??

And what about the costs of the dance? Whatever happened to having the homecoming dance in the gymnasium with paper streamers and ballooon arches? My daughter's school rented out a local nightclub, which was fine with me until the pricing was announced. It was on a sliding scale--the first week that tickets were available it was $75 PER PERSON. Every week afterwards, the price went up $5. Wow wee. Luckily, my daughter got a free ticket for doing well on some standardized testing last year.

Some kids rented limousines and went all out. I kept scratching my head. This is HOMECOMING not PROM. Gee whiz--When did it change????

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Anyone that touched base with me yesterday, heard my raves about Bullets 4 Peace. I first heard about this company a few months ago. They take recycled bullets and fashion them into jewelry, as a statement against violence and also to promote world peace. They have been embraced by the celebrity crowd and are one of those trendy accessories that all the IT folks have.

On Friday night, owner/designer/new FOJ Rafi Anteby used nude models (with body paint), fire dancers, and video to tell the company's story. I was WAY impressed. You can read my take on it here, complete with video.

Anyhow, yesterday I touted the message of Bullets 4 Peace to anyone who would listen. Imagine my surprise last night when I got to Rock Fashion Week Miami's final night and found that I my seat was just a few seats away from Rafi. We chatted a bit and I told him about my review. He bought it up on his phone and read it. At the end of the night, he beckoned me over. I went over and we talked a bit more, and hugged good night. He said, "But wait, my new friend, I have something for you."

He gave me a Bullet 4 Peace. I was so touched. He has such a good heart and for him to recognize me in such a way really moved me. I'll always cherish it...

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Now, of course I have an opinion. My opinion is that someone should be punished. I mean, really? Seriously? The whole country watched your child floating over Colorado for 2 hours in a giant Jiffy Pop package and he was at home the whole time?

There are some loose ends though. Why did you build this contraption? Why would you let your children near it? Why did your son, just purely by coincidence, decide to film the "accidental" takeoff? And my main question--How do you all support yourselves and your penchant for building giant Jiffy Pop thingies??

As I stated yesterday, the yearn for celebrity-ism is not pretty. Obviously these parents don't read my blog.

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So, thanks to new FOJ Susan, of NYC-based Bella PR, I scored tickets to ALL of the fashion shows taking place during Rock Fashion Week Miami Beach. This four day fusion of music and fashion is one of the hippest Miami events. Which should have been my first clue. Hmph.

The festivities started last night with The Pink Dress Collection and Russell Simmons' new ARGYLECULTURE line. It was held at the Eden Roc Hotel down on Miami Beach, poolside. I got to hang with the beautiful people.

Of course, the beautiful folks sleep all day and party all night, so the first show started way after the 9pm scheduled time. No worries, I rested all day, in anticipation. I got there and was promptly given a VIP pass and escorted to my seat. I was in the FRONT row (I LOVE SUSAN!!). There weren't many seats and most of the crowd was standing, so I felt a bit celebrity-ish. My nose, without any prompting from me, lifted a few inches from it's usual state. The show was great. The runway ran down the middle of the pool and the models were amazing. You can read all about it here.

Anyhow, after the first show, I mingled a bit, always pausing to make sure my wrist band and VIP pass were showing. I KNOW folks were wondering who I was and if I was important. IF they only knew--hahahahah! Soon, the DJ announced that everyone should take their seats, as Russ' show was starting.

I went back to my seat. A woman a few seats down came over and asked if I could move down a seat. My newfound celebrityism kicked up a notch. And again, without any prompting from me, my nose went up in the air. I have no idea why it kept doing this. I refused. She said that her "friend" needed a seat. I asked what that had to do with me. She was actually VERY nice and tried to explain that since there was nobody in the seat on the other side of me, I could just slide down to accomodate her and her friend. UMMMM..nope!

Well, long about now, her "friend" shows up. Imagine the look on my face when her friend was none other than...


movie star, Idris Elba!!! Well, why didn't she say THAT???? OF COURSE, I can move down. Why CERTAINLY!!!!


You see, being celebrity-ish just does NOT pay. He was such a nice guy and we chatting for a good while. Tonight, I'm going to be nice to everyone!!!

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So, I see my hematologist again at the end of the month. And, no matter what, he's said that he WILL take me off of the iv iron for a few months. One would think that I would be overjoyed at not having to get an iv twice a week. One would think I would be happy that I could stop paying my insurance co-payment twice a week. One would think, huh?

Well, the ONE thing that I'm most excited about is the re-introduction of caffeine into my system. There's a little pharmacy/store on the ground floor of the medical building where my doctor is and I plan to leave his office, head down to the store, and buy the biggest bottle of Coke that I can find. I plan to drink it standing right at the refrigerator, before I even pay for it.

You see, my drinks of choice are Coke/Pepsi and tea. And for some reason, caffeine hinders the ability of one's body to absorb iron, so I haven't had any, guilt-free, in months. Now, NOTICE---I didn't say I hadn't had any. I said GUILT-FREE!!!

Anyhow, I can't wait to overindulge...

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Just when I'd thought that I had seen it all, I saw something yesterday that truly amazed me. I ventured way out of my comfort zone to a shopping mall that I don't frequent very much. I've been there 3 times in the nearly 8 years that I've been here. But when Homecoming is this weekend and your daughter has yet to find a dress, you do drastic things.

Within a half hour, we'd found a dress (Yay!!) and then 15 minutes later, we had shoes to match. We ventured over to the food court. Here's where I got the shock. The most popular place in the food court sold corn and corn products. Yes, CORN.

You could buy cups of corn in various sizes. They had regular corn. They also had corn scampi (topped with butter, garlic and salt). They had all kinds of toppings to go on the corn, including chipotle, teriyaki, lemon, chili powder, etc. Then they had corn muffins, corn soup, arepas, and corn smoothies. CORN SMOOTHIES???

There was a guy giving out samples and I tried the scampi. Although it was tasty, walking the mall with a cup of corn just didn't appeal to me. And folks were waiting in line to buy the stuff. Did I mention that it wasn't cheap?? A large cup, about the size of your average styrofoam coffee cup was $4.99. Perhaps I should take a second look at this thing. Or maybe I could create a spin-off. I could use rice. Or tomatoes. Or grits. Would you buy it?

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Well, they say honesty is the best policy. So, I'll be honest. I had a topic today that I wanted to bring to you. Today is my Granny's birthday. She would have been 86 today, had she not passed away 4 years ago, 2 days AFTER her birthday. This period is the worse for me all year long. I dread it. But I so wanted to tell you how special she was.

When I sit down to start writing a wonderful tribute to her, I realized that time has NOT healed all wounds and it was just too difficult. So let's just pretend that I poured my heart out and made you all know how warm, kind, funny, and special that she was to me.

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Tomorrow, October 12th, Americans celebrate the day that Columbus arrived here in 1492. As always, I have a question about this.

How did Columbus "discover" America, if there were folks here when he got here? Usually, "discovery" means that you are the first there. But if there were natives to greet you, how did you "discover" it? Thoughts, anyone?

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Today, my daughter takes her final SAT tests. Amazingly, it carries a lot of weight with college admission departments. I'm not sure that I understand why.

Certainly, you need to know the mathematical value of pi to succeed in life, right? And surely, you'll have use for dissecting sentences regularly as a "grown-up," right? I think we should totally reinvent the SATs to make sure our youth are truly ready for life. We can test their knowledge on things like balancing checkcards and changing tires and how to properly behavior in the work environment. Wouldn't that make more sense?

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The other night, my beloved hometown lost a great one. Ben Ali passed on. Ben, along with his wife Virginia, founded Ben's Chili Bowl in 1958.

Ben's has been an institution in Washington, DC ever since. Many feel that Barack Obama's visit last year put Ben's on the map, but I beg to differ. Homegrown folks, along with tourists who've done their homework, have paraded through Ben's for years. If you've never had a chili half smoke, do yourself a favor, trek over to the U Street corridor, and throw caution to the wind.

Ben's is one of those places where families of tourists sit next to businessmen with their ties tossed over their shoulders and everyone is digging in. In between are local, national, and international celebrities. Never be surprised at who's sitting next to you in Ben's. They are open nearly 24 hours a day, closing for only a few hours for cleaning and restocking.

Mr Ben was a good guy, as are his children, who've been running the place in recent years. I sure wish I could get there this weekend. RIP Mr Ali...

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Just when you thought it wouldn't happen, I've posted VIDEO!!!! I shot and posted video of FOJ Michelle on my examiner page.

This was the first editing sequence that was a piece of cake. I even froze a frame of the video and made a still picture. Perhaps I CAN do this after all. In fact, I kind of liked it. I'm ALL OVER THIS!! Steven Spielberg--watch out, I'm coming for ya!!!

Check it out here and let me know what you think.

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Sometimes, I don't make good decisions. I would even venture to say that a LOT of times, I don't make good decisions. Luckily, I have a husband that always sees things in an objective light, and is usually able to show me, without being condescending, the error of my ways.

Who helps you when you go way too far overboard? How do they reel you in? Do you fight them all the way?

Tell me about it. Be frank--you're among friends!

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Well, it felt so good to rant last week, that I thought I'd do it again this week. Let's Rant!!!

I've come to the conclusion that mail in rebates are scams. Over the weekend, I bought my daughter a new phone. The sales guy kept pushing the "rebate" angle--"You know this phone has a rebate. You realize that this isn't the real price--you'll get the rebate."

What the heck IS a rebate? Why not give me the REAL price today and save me a stamp, you a stamp, and 6 weeks time?? Are they hoping that I don't send it in and therefore NEVER get the REAL price? Isn't THIS the real price if you expect to get it today in REAL money?

Who invented rebates anyhow?? OFF with their heads!!!

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