Thursday, May 26, 2011

The List

The other day I came across an article about baby boomers and retirement.  Lots of these individuals said though they're near retirement, they have lots they want to accomplish.  Many had bucket list items.  It got me thinking.  Bucket list items shouldn't be for those late in life or near retirement.  Everyone, young and old should have a bucket list.  For my Thursday Thoughts, I'm going to mention 10 bucket list items I'd like to accomplish before I turn 40. 
10.  Friends know that I love to travel. I've always wanted to see the Great Wall of China. I know I could have picked somewhere more exotic, but the Great Wall is one of the few items you can see from space.  It's ancient and it's in a part of the world I have never been to.
  9.   I always wanted to go horseback riding on the beach as the sun sets.  It sounds romantic right?  I've never been on a horse either.
  8.   Help build a house for Habitat for Humanity.  I admire those who give their time and volunteer. 
  7.  Attend a NY Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.  I know it's shocking.  I've   seen all my Rangers games at the Cap Center, MCI Center and United Center.  I've never been surrounded by fellow NY Rangers fan.  I think it would be amazing!
  6.  Be in an exclusive, committed relationship with a nice chap.  Maybe I should give myself until I'm 60 for this one.  LOL. 
  5.  Be a mentor to a young child. I don't have any kids and haven't been around that many, but I think we could learn from each other.  I could tell the kid about art, classical music, literature and travel and she/he could teach me how to have fun.
  4.  I want to take private tango lessons and then dance the tango in Buenos Aires.  I already took salsa, merengue, cha cha and samba.  I missed my tango lesson.  The tango is a very passionate dance.  I'd love to be able to move like that.
  3.  Go skydiving.  I know it sounds crazy.  I would jump out of a plane with a parachute.  Of course it would be a tandem jump.
  2.  Be a home owner.  I don't need a huge 10 bedroom mansion on 30 acres with three lakes.  I'd like a cute two bedroom/two bathroom condo with a nice sized walk-in closet in the master bedroom :)
  1.  Write a screenplay or treatment for a television series.  I need to put those scriptwriting classes to use.
My month long blog trial is coming to an end.  I'm planning on using this time to start my creative writing again.  Who knows, I might even start a screenplay.  I'll still swing by and write something every now and then.  Thanks to all of you who read my posts and gave me words of encouragement :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bidding Adieu to the Queen of Talk

This week marks the end of one of the most successful talk shows in modern history.  Oprah Winfrey will say goodbye to her show to focus on her cable network (OWN) and her acting career among many, many projects.  For today's Tuesday Talks, I'd like to ask Ms. Winfrey a few questions.  I'll be good and not mention this job rejection letter I'm still holding on to from Harpo, Inc.  That's probably bad karma.  I should have shredded it after all these years. 
Dear Oprah,
May I call you that?  You seem personable enough for that.  I always thought we shared a common bond since we both have unique first names.  After spending 25 years in the living rooms of many homes, we've gotten accustomed to just calling you Oprah.  You were part of the family.  I recall my mom watching your show daily after General Hospital.  You had the 4pm-5pm time slot in New York when I lived there.  Of course I was doing my homework, so I didn't watch your show that much until the summer.  I do recall the show featuring the Alaskan men searching for wives.  I even taped that one.  Darn it.  If only I were older at the time.  There aren't too many places where men out number women.  You should have done more shows like that.  Maybe you can even feature a dating show on OWN.  I'm almost certain I mentioned a job I had in the past that required me to pitch show ideas to producers.  Sorry, getting off track.
We've all heard about the challenging upbringing you've had.  I commend your grit and determination to overcome all those obstacles.  What do you think were the keys to your success so far?  We know you have the brains.  Was it timing by being in the right place at the right time?   Was it networking or forming alliances?  The media can be a dirty business at times.
What were you hoping to accomplish by having your talk show?  Do you think you've succeeded?  There have been plenty of talk shows on since I've been alive.  Some have been on as long as you, others are still going and many have failed after a few seasons.
I noticed on your website that you have the 25 highest rated Oprah Winfrey Show episodes.  Do you recall any that you wished you had never done?  I still remember the episode you did when you lost all that weight.  You were in a great pair of fitted jeans and you came out with a wagon of fat equaling all the weight you lost.  I can only imagine all the pressure you probably put on yourself to try to keep the weight off.  Did you ever feel threatened by doing any of the shows?  I know you've done shows featuring the KKK or dealing with racist communities.
You worked in Baltimore, headed to Chicago and eventually started your talk show.  Why not New York or LA?  It seems like you have always had a passion for the theater and movies.  It would have seemed like either coast would have been a better fit.
In the beginning, did the network executives want you to change your format?  Did they believe Phil Donahue owned the market and that his viewers were untouchable?  What do you think about the flurry of talk shows that appeared on the radar after your success?  How did you feel about the format for Geraldo, The Jerry Springer Show, The Montel Williams Show and Ricki Lake?
If you hadn't found your niche in acting and hosting your own show, what would you be doing with your life now?  Did you have a backup career choice if things didn't go so well?
How do you deal with the harsh criticism that non-fans hold for you?  For all the good you have done philanthropy wise, there are many who still can't stand you.  They say you live in another world and that you've lost touch with the average person. 
Have do you deal with failure?  What have been some of the lessons you've learned from it?
As we wind down to the final two episodes, I thank you for paving the way for future women in this field.  We appreciate your openness, your vulnerability, your willingness to discuss challenging topics, your passion & enthusiasm and your courage to be you.  Best of luck with OWN!  If Rosie's and Sarah's shows don't work out, a dating show for minority women would be great.  Harpo, Inc should still have my cell number in their file.  You know where to find me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Real Pitchers Hit

We're almost a month from summer and it still doesn't feel like that in my part of the country.  I'm tired of all the damp, cold weather.  So much for spring weather.  When I think of summer, I think of amusement parks, cookouts, power walking and baseball.  I know the NBA & NHL have their playoffs right now.  I'm not a huge basketball fan and my NY Rangers are no longer in the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup.  Now I focus on my NY Mets.  For this addition of Thursday Thoughts, I'd like to discuss the main aspect of baseball I despise the most: the designated hitter. 
For those non-baseball fans, the designated hitter a.k.a. the DH is an actual baseball rule that allows managers from an American League team to use another player to hit in lieu of the pitcher.  There are two leagues that make up major league baseball: The American League and the National League.  My beloved Mets play in the National League.  Notice how I said the American League uses the DH.  There is no DH in the National League unless it's interleague play or it's World Series time and those games are played at an American League ballpark.  For the first time starting this year, all All-Star games will have the DH even if played in a National League park.
I'm a baseball purist to a point.  I believe only the nine positioned players (Catcher, 1st, 2nd and 3rd basemen, SS, LF,RF, CF and Pitcher) should be able to come up to the plate and hit.  I don't want to see no stinking DH come up for an American League pitcher.  Go out there and hit and help yourself by advancing the runner and getting a sac fly.  Rumors have it that Connie Mack back around 1906 hinted at a possible DH because he got sick of seeing the pitchers attempting to hit.  Come on.  Babe Ruth started out as a pitcher.  Pitchers can hit if given the opportunity.  The DH didn't enter the rule book until 1973.  The American League used it, but the National League has yet to adopt it.  I hope they don't.
Having the DH is basically like having 10 players.  The DH doesn't even play a position on the field full-time.  Most DH's are back up 1st basemen like David Ortiz or Frank Thomas back in the day.  This player is only used for his hitting.  If you're an aging player who still has pop in his bat, but bad knees or shaky fielding skills you want to go to the American League.  You just sit on your butt the bulk of the game, make your millions and just come up 3 or 4 times and take a few swings.  Boo!!  Since the American League has adopted this rule, their batting averages have been higher of course.  They have scored more runs. 
When I think baseball, I'm more of a pitching girl.  Offense is very good, you need runs to win, but stellar pitching make the game better in my opinion.  I rather see a great old fashion pitching duel like Bob Gibson vs Sandy Koufax over a hitter's duel between Alex Rodriquez & Justin Morneau.  I love it when the pitcher is in a jam, maybe gives up a run, but the manager has faith in him and keeps him in.  The next inning, the pitcher is allowed to bat and drives in a run.  Paycheck well earned!!  Some of these National League pitchers have had a reputation of having some pop in their bat, not of the cork kind: Carlos Zambrano, Jason Marquis and Dontrelle Willis.
I'll deal with the DH during interleague play, the WS and All-Star Game.  It would be interesting to have the AL go a season without the DH so both leagues can be on the same playing level.  What do you think baseball fans?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Letter to an American Hero

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  Before that major event, there was another war that got the wheels turning to make what we now call America.  The American Revolutionary War last from 1775 - 1783.  Numerous figures played a major role on and off the battlefield during it's time span: Samuel Adams, George Washington, John Adams and Paul Revere to name a few.  For my Tuesday Talks, I'd like to focus on a person who participated in a major event that lead to this war against England for independence.  Little is known about Crispus Attucks and those other four men who died during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770.  If given the opportunity, what would I have asked this American hero?
Dear Mr. Attucks,
You were the first person to die in what we now call the Boston Massacre.  You were a runaway slave who died amongst fellow Bostonians.  What was life like for you in Massachusetts?  When did you realize you didn't have the same rights as non-blacks?  We know more about the life of slaves from southern states, but not so much those in the north.  Though the north abolished slavery before the south, they to at one time allowed slavery across their lands.  I read somewhere that you had an alias and eventually escaped the mainland as a harpoonist on a whaling ship. 
Where you aware of the mounting tensions between the colonists and the British?  How did you remain free for so long without anyone willing to turn you in for a reward?  I also read somewhere that you had a sister that remained in Massachusetts.  Did you fear for what could have happened to her?  Lots of runaway slaves fled to Canada.  Did the thought of leaving the colonies and heading to Canada cross your mind?
What most people probably would like to know most was what lead you to be on that particular street on March 5th.  There are conflicting stories of what actually happened that night.  Some say you struck a British soldier first.  Others say you did not.  Did you know the other men who died with you that night?  Regardless of the specifics, three of you were dead on the spot.  Two others died later.  Due to your deaths, a spirit of unit for a common cause ignited the desire of freedom for all.  How does it feel to have played a major role in history not just for your generation, but for generations hundreds of years later?  Do you think your actions went in vain considering what happened in the Civil War?
Thank you Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr for the ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Windy City Changes

Next week will be the end of an era for a political powerhouse and the start of a new beginning.  Richard M. Daley will end his tenure as Mayor of Chicago on May 16th.  He has been at the helm of this ship for a little over 22 years.  His father, the late Richard J. Daley, was Mayor of Chicago for 21 years.  As many of you have heard, President Obama's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, will be Chicago's new mayor on May 16th.  Why did it take this long for change?  This week's Thursday Thoughts will be about term limits.
In my humble opinion, I believe 22 years for any political office is way too long: state, local or federal.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a native Chicagoan.  I'm not going to talk about voting records and policy.  I look at politics in terms of what's going on in a particular area or in the nation in general.  I believe lots of citizens fear change and vote for what they feel comfortable with.  This trend leads to incumbents being re-elected for several terms.  The status quo doesn't always gets us to where we need to be. 
From what local Chicagoans tell me, they're happy with what Mayor Daley did to the Navy Pier area and Millennium Park area.  It does look beautiful, but I sense that was more for tourism.  As much as I've heard my few years in Chicago of people complaining about high taxes, cuts in programs, high crime rate, companies relocating to neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana and poor test results coming out of our local schools, Daley still got re-elected. 
For the next election, I wish there would be a referendum on the ballot about an 8 year limit for all local and state offices.  No one can serve more than 2 terms (4 years equals 1 term).  If the president can be in office no longer than 8 consecutive years, I don't think a mayor or governor should be either.  I definitely think 6 years for a senator is too long, 2 years for a congress person is too short and a life time appointment for the Supreme Court is ridiculous. 
If we have term limits, I think we'd get more younger people involved in politics and we'd have more new ideas brought to the table.  We need to evolve more as a nation. For those rare politicians who happen to be really good at what they do, step aside after your two terms and mentor the next generation.  In all honesty, I'm sure politicians would find a loophole and be back in the same spot four years later. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Talk With Mom

This past Sunday was Mother's Day.  As I wished many a Happy Mother's Day, I reflected back on memories of my mom, the late Sarah Waymer.  Mother's Day is a tough holiday for me.  I see lots of mothers and daughters attending brunch and doing other cool stuff.  My mom died 10 years ago this month.  In fact, she died a week after Mother's Day in 2001. 
I've been without my best friend for a decade.  It would be great to have an opportunity to sit down and have just an hour long conversation with my mom.  I'd love to catch her up on what has happened and ask her what I never had the chance to.  For this Tuesday's Talks, I have this dream conversation with my mom.
Dear Mom,
It's been way too long since we've chatted.  The last somewhat happy memory I had was us watching General Hospital from your hospital room.  My boss was nice enough to let me take a two hour lunch to visit you and to feed you since you didn't want to eat.  Cancer makes you lose your appetite.  You always enjoyed watching your favorite soap opera.  You'd be very pleased to know that it's still on and that Sonny got married.
So much has happened in the world in general and in my personal life.  Thank goodness you missed the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  If the Cancer hadn't done you in, the tragedy that struck the nation would have.  Thankfully we didn't know anyone who perished that day.  As an adopted New Yorker, I know a piece of you would never have been the same.
You passed away shortly before my first television episode aired.  I was trying so hard to get all the research and re-enactments done quickly, but things get caught up in post-production.  You missed my debut by a few months.  I remembered how you never wanted me to go into television.  Yet, you stood by me and became my greatest amount of support.  When I was having difficulty researching these true-crime cases, you were always a shoulder to lean on.
I also had my first boyfriend a few years later.  It lasted for a few years, but you never had the opportunity to see me bring a date home.  I wonder if you would have liked him.  As I recalled, you wanted me to marry a reverend.  You told me to stay away from jocks.  Okay, I've gone out with a few of those, but you were right in the end. 
Mom, you always told me to go out and explore.  That I have.  Not as much as I wanted to.  I've gone on a cruise to the Caribbean, Toronto, numerous US cities and a few cities in Spain.  Traveling is very liberating and humbling.  I can't wait to head back out.  I still have the travel bug.  Hopefully one day I'll reach two of the cities you always wanted to visit: Honolulu and London.
As you predicted, I ended up in Chicago.  Don't know if that's a blessing or a curse.  It's different from the east coast.  I think you had a crazy idea I was going to be the next Oprah.  That's probably why you thought I'd end up in Chicago.  Since I've been here, hardly any friends or family have visited me.  I get by as I can.  Traveling back east, writing and long phone calls help. 
I'd like to think we had a good relationship when things didn't involve my education and upbringing.  When we were just talking it was more like a sister-sister relationship.  There were a few things I would have loved to ask you that I never did.   
I know it was considered taboo back in the 70's to have a kid late in life.  You never thought that you would have kids.  What was going through your mind when you found out you were expecting me? 
You always got upset when there was any mention of wars or anything disturbing involving our military.  I know you were very upset when your brother Linwood lied about his age, joined the US Navy and then got killed at sea a few weeks before WWII ended.  What was Uncle Lenwood like?  I know you were young when he died.  Grandma doesn't like to talk about it.  I vaguely remember hearing you tell me about that horrific day when representatives from the Navy showed up to your home and informed you of what happened.  You said grandma let out a deathly scream.  You also told me he was a good guitar player.  I'm studying guitar now. Maybe one day I'll take up piano like you did.  Uncle Lenwood looks exactly like you.  Grandma still has a picture of him in his Navy uniform hanging in the living room.
You know kids always want to please their parents.  What were some of your proudest moments involving me?  I would think it was the times I played my violin, graduation and awards night.  To a mom it could be just being a good kid and not getting in trouble.
I remember Sunday, May 20, 2001 very clearly.  You died shortly after I left the hospital.  Per dad's request, he wanted me to go home, get some rest and come back later.  I found out you died in his arms sometime during my commute back home.  I always wondered if you were upset with me for not be there.  Till this day, I still can't discuss that day with my dad. A part of me believes you knew you were going and didn't want me to see you suffer anymore.  That was how you were.  You always cared about someone else more than yourself.
I'll close by asking if there was anything you wanted to tell me, but didn't have the chance.  We all feel that we have plenty of time left to say what we want to.  In reality we're only on this Earth for a short time.  Until we meet again.
Your daughter,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dating Tips for the Alpha Female

Welcome to my second installment of Thursday Thoughts.  As several of you may know, I've been single for about five years.  Though I've read a few dating books and dating blogs, attended speed dating events, gone to singles socials and tried the well known online dating websites, I still haven't been able to really click with someone.  After so many unsuccessful dates, there comes a time when you can't keep saying it's always the guy's fault. I never really thought that.  I'm very guarded when it comes to dating for my own personal reasons.  I figured I had to start digging deep to see what I could be doing to turn off potential suitors.  I attended a two hour local dating seminar.  The advice I received was great!  I can't keep all this knowledge to myself.  There could be other fellow Alpha Females out there who could use this information.
First the audience was given a broad definition of an Alpha Female.  She's one who likes to be in control and plan everything.  At times she's high maintenance & expects the guy to act/dress a certain way. She also tends to be non-flexible, very career oriented & very confident. Sound familiar?
The panel said this is not what the majority of the men want out there.  I can clearly remember the gasp coming from the audience, including my mouth.  We professional women found nothing wrong with that description.  How can a man not want to date one of us?  We're strong, confident & intelligent women.  It was at this moment when we were all educated on the 8 Good Dating Behavior tips.
These 8 dating tips make up the acronym S-O-F-T-E-N-U-P.  Be more feminine by softening up.  Guys don't want to date the female version of themselves was the key the panel stressed.
S-Smile.  Even if you're having a bad day.  Show off those pearly whites and new lipstick.
O-Open Arms( no crossed arms, it makes you appear closed off)
F-Forward Leaning (show interest by leaning in/inching closer)
T-Touch appropriately (the hand, the knee..aka flirt a little)
E-Eye contact (no need to stare, a quick glance here and there, bat those lashes)
N-Nodding (it shows you're paying attention)
U-Undivided attention (no distractions, no textings, checking messages, etc.)
P-Positive (do have confidence, but not cockiness & no attitude) 
I also learned during this seminar that lots of women make the mistake of approaching the date like they're HR managers.  Don't interrogate the date.  Don't ask him right off the back, where he works, how big his house is, what kind of car he drives, when do you want to have kids, etc.  Try to dress more lady like and leave the power suits at home/work if you can.  You can always carry the jacket with you and bring a cute flirty top to change into before your date.  Don't wear too much makeup to the point the guy doesn't know what "you" really look like.  Makeup should enhance your natural beauty.   
For those that prefer online dating, a great photo, tagline and bio are your first impressions.  Don't chose a glamor shot or one of you all decked out to the nines.  That was my fault.  This gives off the appearance you're too high maintenance and intimidating.  If you're in a ballgown in a fancy banquet hall, you might automatically turn off a bunch of guys who feel they can't compete with that.  You don't want the guy to say, "She would never want to go out with me the 6th grade teacher.  She's looking for a CFO."  Have a great close up of you, looking natural and having a great time.  If you love sailing, a great shot of you at the helm of the boat would be awesome. For your bio, pick two or three adjectives about yourself and then briefly tell a story using those words. 
We women need to stop being picky.  Every guy is not going to be 6'0", have an MBA, be a world traveler, own a new condo and take home a six digit salary.  Your match might be 5'7", have an associates degree and not own a passport.  This is the guy who more than likely will call when he says he will, treats you like a queen, has set work hours and is happy as long as you're happy.  He's not the Alpha Male: basically the same characteristics as the Alpha Female. 
The final point the panel requested is that we women leave our inner CEO at home.  Lots of us are working and/or have advanced degrees and top leadership positions with our employers.  These strengths play against us in the dating world.  Some of us talk too much about our jobs, career goals, degrees we have, upcoming projects, etc.  Don't do that on a date.  Most men will get intimidated or they think she'll be great to hire, but not to date.  This is why you won't get asked for your number or why they will never ask you out for a second date.
I put the 8 Good Dating Behavior tips to use on a recent date.  So far so good.  We've both agreed to a second date.  I'd love to hear your comments/tips as well.  Happy Dating!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Friend Till the End

There's a quote by Thomas Jefferson that says, "But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine." 
Today's Tuesday Talks is about friendship.  True friendship is very rare indeed.  I have the pleasure of featuring one of my dearest friends, Jackie, who has known me for over 20 years.  I must confess that being a friend of mine is no easy task.  I wouldn't say I'm a prima donna, but I do have a habit of relocating frequently.  This means Jackie has kept in touch with me annually for twelve moves covering four states to be exact.  I'm honored that she kept updating her address book with my information.  I hope she used a pencil. 
To me, friendship means being there during times of joy and during times of sorrow.  Friendship is when one takes time out of their busy schedule to reach out to you and say hello.  Without further ado, let me introduce you to one of my besties: Jackie.
Cydania: How long have we been friends?
Jackie: Fall 1989. 
Cydania: Where did we first meet? 
Jackie:   We met in the 8th grade.  We were probably in the same homeroom in 7th, but I didn't know you at all.  8th Grade you were in a few classes with me.  I think we became friends in English, Mr. Overmyer's class.  I sat behind you, alphabetical order :)
Cydania: When you have a fellow classmate with a last name near the end of the alphabet, you will be near each other quite often. 
Cydania: What does friendship mean to you?   
Jackie: Our friendship... means alot to me.  You are one of my oldest friends dating back.  I admire your maturity at such a young age.  You are non-judgmental (at least you don't convey any judgment when I tell you things.)
Cydania:  Have we ever gotten in a dispute and not communicated with each other for a while? 
Jackie: No, because you are not argumentative.  I would say there are times when we don't talk but that's more because of our busy lives and the fact that we don't live close to each other.
Cydania: Best friendship memories? 
1) Hanging out, admiring the NYC skyline and having a drink at the top of 230 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  
2) You visiting me in DC during my summer internship. We watched a preempted Mets/Yankees game at the ESPN Sports Zone.
3) Picking you up at LGA and going straight to the Mets game at Shea.  You changed in the parking lot while no one was near us.  Ha ha!
Cydania: What are some common interests we have?  
Jackie: METS METS METS.  We are both big sport fans, plus we are like-minded Democrats and loved playing in the orchestra at school growing up.
Cydania:Why do you think we are still friends? 
Jackie: I would say the wonder of email kept us close in college (when you moved out of state). I honestly don't think we would still be this close had it not been for that.. maybe i am wrong.  Plus, you are such a wonderful person and friend!  I love you!
I have many more friendship memories I could share about Jackie.  I remember the time we went to Philadelphia for our 8th grade National Honor Society trip.  After we toured the historical sites, I bought a huge Jordan Knight poster and couldn't stop grinning.  I still have those photos that I will not post.  Very bad hair day.  Don't laugh, NKOTB (New Kids on the Block) are touring this year.  Jordan is still the lead singer.
Another time, we went to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS between the Mets and Cardinals at Shea.  We were all decked out in Mets gear except for that one Scott Rolen fan in our section.  The winner would go to the World Series.  I flew to NY for this game.  Even though Endy Chavez made an amazing catch in the outfield, we still lost.  That was a very sad & long drive back to Long Island :(
The most touching friendship gesture that Jackie did was when she drove down from NY to be with me days after my mother passed away from cancer.  Jackie was busy with her own responsibilities and college, but she felt that she needed to be with me.  That meant the world to me.  I was a complete wreck emotionally and physically.  Jackie comforted me and gave me the love and support I didn't even get from some immediate family members.  For that, I can't thank Jackie enough.
If you are fortunate enough to have one or a few really close friends, tell them what their friendship means to you.