Monthly Archives: June 2011

THE GOODBYE PROJECT: Letting Go is Good, Yo! Episode 10–Key Chains

About The Goodbye Project:

There are so many of us who can’t part with objects because of the sentimental attachment we have to them. You know—the graduation tassels, the barfed-on stuffed animal with the missing eye, the coat your late father bought for you because you begged. So what do you do when it’s time to let go of these beloved items because it’s absolutely necessary?

I’d read someplace that one of the best ways to let go of an object is to know that you have a photo. Sure, you can photograph it before you get rid of it. The Goodbye Project takes the idea a step further: go back and find photos of yourself actually with, using, or wearing that object, and blurb a bit about the memories it invokes.

Why? Everything has a story.

And because of that, the object deserves more than just a hasty trip to the Goodwill or the trash without a second thought.


Who isn’t guilty of having more key chains than keys? I mean, at least once in your life? I think at one time, we could all get away with not just one key chain, but a few. After all, your keys, like the wallet you use, bag you carry, or clothes you wear, say something about you—your hobbies, likes/dislikes, habits (I know many people who carry nail clippers or wine/bottle openers on their key chains).

Since the relatively recent invention of store savings cards that conveniently clip on your key ring, though, having more than one decorative item on your keys can make them heavy and difficult to carry or even use. I’d use one or two key chains for awhile, but then remove them because someone gave me a new one or I wanted something different. So the chains from key rings past ended up in a shoebox—because each one said something about me or reminded me of a specific time or era in my life.

Today, out they go.

Charles got me this in 2000, when we were on our Hunter Thompson kick—we were in the process of reading all of his books, and we loved the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. What was neat about these “wallet” type key carriers was that, if you had standard keys, (they certainly wouldn’t work well now with the huge electronic things that pass for “keys” for today’s cars), they stayed neat and didn’t stab you in your pocket or tear the lining of your purse.

This was taken when I was using the Las Vegas key book. Here’s me on February 1, 2001, at a hotel in Mystic, Connecticut. Charles and I celebrated my birthday by having a “Fear & Loathing at Foxwoods” weekend (notice the red IBM typewriter in the background? Larger model than HT’s, but the same year). We went to the casinos, obviously!

This was when I was wearing a lot of Asian-inspired clothing, especially for going out, so I’d use this on my keys (it was also handy for change). This was back when I first started dating Nathan. I used this for most of the year 2004.

December, 2005, at Pencils! Writing Workshop’s India Dinner at a popular Indian restaurant in Darien, Connecticut. This was when I was using this keychain. I still own—and wear—this jacket!

I got this keychain in 1998 in the Amity section at Universal Studios Theme Park in Florida, which back then was awesome (it’s awful now—they took the whole Amity flavor away from it and now it has nothing to do with anything). The reason I bought it was not necessarily because I loved Jaws, but because when I was 12 and really into Jaws, a childhood friend of mine, Michael Shepherd, gave me a pair of real baby Tiger Shark Jaws. I had those things for years—they were truly a treasured possession. But during one of my moves—it might have been the one to Charles’ in 1996—they got broken. This was the closest thing I could find to the shape and size of those jaws (although this is a Great White, not a Tiger Shark). I had this on my keychain for the rest of 1998 and into 1999. It was made of durable plastic.

That’s me, at left, as Bloody Mary in New Milford High School’s 1989 production of South Pacific. Look at the set piece to the right, the one with the signs that read “Shlunk Edz.” I remember working on that set (the handwriting on those signs is definitely mine), and I used a few of my personal items to decorate the outside of the shack. If you look below the “Edz” sign, you will see, just to the left of a tiki-esque mask, my beloved real baby tiger shark jaws. Oddly enough, this isn’t where they were broken. Somehow, they survived the whole run of the show.

The Jaws kiosk at Universal Studios in 1998, where I bought the plastic shark jaws key chain to replace my real shark jaws.*

* I haven’t been to Universal in many years, so I don’t know if its still there—there were, at one point, rumors of Universal Orlando closing its Jaws attraction (you can read about that here: If you’ve never been on the Jaws ride and want to read reviews, you can check that out at Theme Park Critic: If you are a fan of Universal’s Jaws ride, you can hook up with it via a Facebook page for fans here:…/143535942366213

I always loved Viewmasters when I was a kid—we even had the old projector (but as was typical in the dark hole of a house I grew up in, no white walls on which to project the images)—and I never quite grew out of it. In 1997, I was re-acquiring many things from childhood (things I’m getting rid of now, strangely enough), and one of them was not only Viewmaster reels, but also various Viewmasters themselves. This was the keychain I was using that year. It actually did work—you could look in it and see little pictures of astronauts and planets. It was a pretty cool keychain, actually.

This is one side of a double-sided key chain I was using in 2004 and 2005, when I was attending Burlington College and spending many, many weekends out in Newport, RI, with friends from my days at the University of Rhode Island back in the early 1990s. This is the side that depicts my friends from URI—from left, poet Heather Sullivan, me, and Kaitlyn—in the summer of 2004.

Heather, Kaitlyn, and I met in Dr. Pearlman’s Creative Writing class at URI in January, 1993, and I drafted them into being in a play I was working on. This photo was taken three months after we met. The Cast of Stranded on 93, from left: Kaitlyn, Dave, me, Pam, and Heather.

Me and poet friends Tara (middle) and Tifani (right) in November, 2004 at RiRa on Church Street in Burlington are on the flip side of this key chain. We were tight for the three years we were together at Burlington College. I had an awesome time with Tara up at Burlington just a few weeks ago in May.

This is me my first day of class at Burlington College in Burlington, Vermont, November 2004.


 The following was a set: one clear key chain with five double-sided mini movie posters. Each depicted one of the Disney Pixar films up through 2003. This key chain came with a set of books, and I used this, changing out the cards, for a few years between 2007 and 2009.

Whenever I think of Monsters, Inc., I think of all the time I spent at the Bronx Zoo. I was going there a lot during that time.

Boo was, by far, my favorite character in Monsters, Inc…who could resist “Kitty!”? And that scene in which Sully has to say goodbye just about ripped my heart out.

That’s me with frosting in my hair, December, 2001. This was right around the time I saw, and fell in love with, Monsters, Inc.

I had never seen the original Toy Story until I got the 10th Anniversary edition on DVD for Christmas in 2005.

I absolutely could not wait for this movie to come out—that was right around the time I’d spent two years working at Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and one year working at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, so needless to say, I was really into fish. In addition, both aquariums at which I volunteered added "Finding Nemo" fishtanks to their exhibit floors. This movie was also a tear-jerker, though. I’m constantly amazed by the depth of Pixar’s stories.

In June of 2003 we had to drive down to North Carolina for my brother Chuck’s wedding. The Nemo toys that came in the Happy Meals—collecting them all—became part of the goal of the trip for most of that month. Nemo was our travel mascot. Here he is on the car hood outside a hotel in Virginia.

I did “Birthday Sleepovers” a few years in a row, and 2004’s theme was Finding Nemo. Here’s what the cake looked like (next photo is a close-up of the cake, since the scan is really bad).

Nathan’s nickname has always been Clownfish. Here he is posing with a stuffed one after the Oyster Festival, September, 2004.

I didn’t see A Bug’s Life, which came out in 1998, until 2007, after Nathan and I went to Disney World. Nathan got it on DVD.

I posed with A Bug’s Life’s Flik at Animal Kingdom in 2006 even though I hadn’t seen the film yet. At left, my niece Andi.

I didn’t see Toy Story 2 until just recently, actually, but the major association I make with this film is Christmas 1999, because that’s when Sara McLaughlin’s song “When She Loved Me”—the movie’s theme song—came out.

The scene when Jessie is abandoned in the box was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

I don’t remember where I got this, but I loved Lilo & Stitch when it came out in 2002 (up at a movie theatre in Lake Placid, in case anyone wants to know). Again, another film that really spoke to me, especially about loneliness. I think my favorite line in the film—okay, my favorite line backed by my favorite piece of scoring in that film—is “This is my family…it’s little, and broken, but still good. Yes, still good.” I had that clip as the outgoing greeting on my answering machine (yes, an old answering machine) for awhile. I used to associate this movie with sad memories, but Nathan’s a big Stitch fan (he’s really into the whole “badness level” idea), so now those sad memories have been replaced with happy ones.

In the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, August 2008, clowning around with Stitch and my friend Meghan.

Nathan’s Mom gave me this one year for my birthday, and I really loved it because it smelled like island flowers. Unfortunately, the perfume that was inside it rotted the inside out, and little flakes started falling out all over everything. I kept it in a plastic bag for awhile, but it just keeps disintegrating, so sadly, it has to go. I used it for about three years, though.

So the question is: what’s on my keys now? Aside from a bunch of store cards (some for specific Northeastern stores, which I’ll toss when I get to Florida probably to make room for some from Southeastern stores), I’ve got a Sea World Key chain that my sister sent me up from Texas (it has a shark on it—no surprise there) years ago—now that I’m going to Florida, it’s appropriate. And one very special silver heart that was from my friends Lisa, Linda, and Janet at my office. It has my name on it, and I’ve carried it for about ten years now. If I ever decide not to use it anymore, it’ll go in my special keepsake box.

Oh, yeah—and a nail clipper from Catskill Game Farm, which I bought on the last day that beloved park from my childhood was open (more on this in a future episode). Because I can’t stand it when I have an uneven nail.

See what I mean?

My keys as they look today.

The key chain my sister got me when she visited Sea World San Antonio.

Me at Sea World Orlando in September, 1998. It was the first time I’d ever touched a sting ray. Little did I know that three years later, touching sting rays would become a regular part of my day as an aquarium volunteer.

The nail clipper I bought at Catskill Game Farm on its last day of operation in October 2006. There wasn’t much left in the gift shop at that point, but they had plenty of these, and besides, it was useful.

Me petting the animals at Catskill Game Farm, summer, 1975. The woman to the left is my grandmother (Grandma).

Me, making friends with a goat at Catskill Game Farm on the last day it was open, October 9, 2006.

It was awesome to take Nathan, who grew up on a farm, to Catskill Game Farm in New York on the last day it was open, October 9, 2006. Here it looks like he’s having a conversation with an alpaca.

A close-up of the heart keychain some dear friends of mine gave me several years ago.



Nathan joins New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society founder L’Aura Hladik and other team members on this Friday’s episode of the Travel Channel’s popular show Paranormal Challenge headed by Ghost Adventures’ Zak Bagans. So, yes…if you watch the show, that’s Nathan you’ve been seeing every week in the opening.

They’ll be investigating Pennhurst, so don’t miss it! The show airs at 9 p.m. AND midnight ET this coming Friday, July 1, on the Travel Channel.

Want to preview the episode? You can catch a teaser for this episode and see the team in action here:

For details on the episode and to watch clips, visit here:

THE GOODBYE PROJECT: Letting Go is Good, Yo! Episode 9–The Jacques Cousteau Book

About The Goodbye Project:

There are so many of us who can’t part with objects because of the sentimental attachment we have to them. You know—the graduation tassels, the barfed-on stuffed animal with the missing eye, the coat your late father bought for you because you begged. So what do you do when it’s time to let go of these beloved items because it’s absolutely necessary?

I’d read someplace that one of the best ways to let go of an object is to know that you have a photo. Sure, you can photograph it before you get rid of it. The Goodbye Project takes the idea a step further: go back and find photos of yourself actually with, using, or wearing that object, and blurb a bit about the memories it invokes.

Why? Everything has a story.

And because of that, the object deserves more than just a hasty trip to the Goodwill or the trash without a second thought.


The book that started my obsession with wanting to work with fish.

While I plan on a few episodes about several books and what they mean to me, this one—like Episode 7, about the penguins—merited a separate episode.

I don’t remember how old I was—probably 11 or 12, which would set this story in 1982 or 1983, but we still had the small yellow Subaru, and my parents took me to Mystic Marinelife Aquarium (it’s now called Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration) in Mystic, Connecticut for the day.

It was the first time I had ever been to an aquarium, and I remember plunging through the double-doors (the place looks completely different now) and into the cool darkness that smelled to me like swimming pools and aluminum—a smell I never forgot. I was immersed in a new world—around me, the creatures of the sea, which I’d previously only seen in books. It was the first time I saw a jellyfish, which had stung me in Daytona Beach when I was six. It was the first time I saw a shark up close. It was the first time I saw crabs, sea stars, and dolphins (at the time, Mystic had dolphins). I was awash in magic, and I looked down at the blue carpet under my feet and said to myself, ‘someday, I am going to work here.’

At that time, the way in which you exited the aquarium was through the gift shop. Our parents were not the best in terms of getting us the souvenirs we wanted, but they always got us something small. On that day, though, I just couldn’t be talked into one of those felt pennants or a hat. I wanted pictures of all these wonderful, incredible animals. I wanted something from which I could learn more. I saw this book on the shelf and had to have it.

I’m sure there was some kind of argument in the gift shop, because the book was expensive, but eventually, Dad caved—then gave me the silent treatment all the way home. It was one of those uncomfortable childhood moments when you can feel the tension, when you are terrified to say anything because it might invoke something worse.

You can tell I took this book very seriously—I never wrote my name in any of my books when I was that age.

Finally, Dad said something to the effect that I was selfish. He was always telling me that as a kid: I was selfish, just like his brother Marty. I do remember, though, at one point, my mother had had enough. She said: “That isn’t your older brother in the back seat, you know. That is your daughter. And she wanted a book instead of a piece of junk that’s going to be tossed aside in a couple of hours, so I suggest you stop, because you’re going to scare her out of learning anything new.”

My mother rarely spoke up in defense of me, but when she did, she meant business—there was no mistaking that or else tone in her voice. Dad clammed up.

I read that book cover to cover several times, and it inspired me to once again dive into Dad’s National Geographic collection (see Episode 5 of The Goodbye Project here: ). One of the issues had a few articles on the ocean written by Cousteau. I do remember being surprised to see his name (remember, I was 12 at the time).

If you’ve read Episode 5, then you know that certain issues of National Geographic have affected my life. This issue was one of them, mostly because of the double-sided map which featured the ocean floor topography and the article on “Blue-Water Life by Night.” What’s really interesting is that this issue also contained an article called “Mount Saint Helens Aftermath.” This is one of the issues that I had culled from my collection years ago. As for the map? I still have it. I found it tucked into one of my “research” notebooks from 1982.

I was so inspired by Cousteau’s writing I wrote a letter to the National Geographic Society. I’m not even sure what I said—I didn’t keep a copy of the letter, as back then all I had was one of my Dad’s old typewriters and no way to keep a copy unless I typed a duplicate—but I did get a response, and I can infer from its content that I probably gave a compliment on how much I enjoyed the articles.

I was so excited to get this in the mail! As much as I’ve adapted well to e-mail, there was nothing like getting real letters in the mailbox. I found this in one of my journal boxes tucked in a file labeled “special letters.” Apparently I was gutsy enough to write tons of letters to all kinds of people—I found responses from Oceanus magazine, Adirondack Life magazine, and even one from the producer of The Twilight Zone (the 1985 series). It’s safe to say I probably became addicted to getting interesting mail. Hey, I was 12, and what, back then, used to come in the mail for a 12-year-old except birthday cards once a year?

This was totally cool. I was impressed not only by the personal response from Lee Smith, but the hand-typed thorough listing of other articles by Cousteau. I don’t know if the Society does this kind of personal correspondence anymore, but back then it looks like it was common practice—notice the letterhead here is already pre-printed with “Selected National Geographic articles containing information on,” and then the rest of the page is blank. Lee Smith, or, more likely, Smith’s assistant/secretary (you can tell by the notation at the bottom of the cover letter) typed this just for me.

I did, apparently, take Smith’s advice and wrote to the Cousteau Society. Again, I don’t have a copy of the original letter, but here’s the response. Obviously I asked for an autograph.

Somewhere along the line I discovered that this was a double volume of Cousteau’s series of books, and in 1997, I was lucky enough to find the whole set at a tag sale (which I later cast off—it just didn’t have the pull that this one volume had, so I never read any of them).

As for going to work at Mystic? You bet I did. Despite the two hour and fifteen minute haul, I became an aquarium volunteer for the Fishes & Inverts department (sharks, crabs, etc.) in March of 2002 and logged over a hundred hours up through the middle of 2004. My duties included feeding the octopus (I hated that job—you had to knee yourself over the tank on a 2×6 and watch the beast rise up from the bottom), feeding everybody else, cleaning tanks, water changes, preparing food, monitoring ozone levels, and more. I taught a class in lobster dissection, I got the tip of my finger clipped by a puffer fish (they have sharp beaks, man!), I felt the hum of electricity when I plugged in a wet vac while standing in a pool of water (according to one of the guys there, my initiation to full aquarist included getting bitten, getting electrocuted, and falling in a tank. Well, two out of three ain’t bad, right?), I tripped with a full tray of food. I helped clean out the mort freezer (DO NOT ASK) and I also participated in the stranding unit (you can read more about this in my science paper for Burlington College here: BCScienceEssay2005). Every other Sunday I got up at 5 a.m. so I could make it to work by 7:30 a.m., and every other Sunday I came home sticky with fish guts.

They were some of the most glorious days of my life.

This is the book that started it all. Although I have to say goodbye, I photographed the pages or photos that fascinated me the most.

For more information about volunteering at the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, visit here:

I’m not quite sure what it was about this picture that fascinated me, but when I played school I would trace these figures onto paper and make a “choose the correct answer” problem to try to memorize them.

The whale in the middle looked mean. I had a thing about mean-looking whale drawings for two reasons: the drawing on the cover of my father’s copy of Moby Dick, and the whale in Disney’s Pinocchio.

I did the same thing with the drawings on this page, and the two pages below this, that I did with the drawings about streamlining.

I won’t lie. I was only interested in this drawing because of the stunning combination of pink and orange. I traced this onto paper many times and colored it using the same markers and then hung it on my wall.

It was the menace in both of these pictures that grabbed me.

I couldn’t stop staring at this page. Yipes, what an UGLY fish. I kept imagining how horrified I’d be if I were swimming and this thing butted up against me. I was also fascinated by the curves in the drawings of how they swim.

My mother was a musician, and she had a box of random things like finger cymbals and maracas. These scallops reminded me of the castanets that she also kept in that box. I could envision these creatures in motion and I wondered if they made a sound like the castanets did.

Up until this point I had no idea that sea stars moved. So this picture fascinated me—not only because of that, but because I wondered if they felt prickly—like living pickles, I imagined—when you touched them. In fact, the thought spooked me so much it was a long time before I ate pickles again. To this day, I only eat a pickle maybe once a year.

Hideously ugly—again, another instance in which I couldn’t stop staring at something so horrifying. In addition, the memory of having been stung by a jellyfish just a few years before at Daytona Beach was still pretty fresh.

Loved this pic—my father had this awesome copy of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea down in his den, and it had a marlin similar to this one whacking through the old man’s boat. I read his copy of that book several times. It was the first time I was exposed to Hemingway.

More diagrams, tracing, and quizzing myself.

The opening phrase on this page—“Nature red in tooth and claw?”—struck me. I opened several science reports with it.

I only liked this picture because the green water around the shark looked so cool and inviting, and I thought that when I grew up and moved to Florida I would have a swimming pool that had green water instead of blue.

This is going to sound completely stupid, but I liked this picture for two reasons: 1, I felt like I could stick my hand in the shark’s mouth and it would feel soft, like a pillow, and 2, I liked how it came out of the darkness, like a ghost.

It was the colors that attracted me to this photo. I was enthralled that something so deadly could be so pretty.

To me, looking at half-eaten fish was the same as looking at dead birds (see Episode 5). What’s funny about this is that I became more terrified of schools of bluefish than of sharks or barracuda simply because of this picture. In 2003, when I was invited to go water skiing with some friends out in Long Island Sound, I was behind the boat, waiting for them to go so I could get up on the water skis—and somebody shouted, “go now, there’s a school of bluefish around her!” I haven’t set foot in Long Island sound waters since.

For some reason this drawing reminded me of The Bermuda Triangle, which I had sketched on a National Geographic map at home and hung over my bed (I had the top bunk).

The photo that introduced me to the concept of “The Feeding Frenzy” in sharks, which I’d learn much more about a couple of years later when I found Dad’s 1968 National Geographic (covered in Episode 5).

This picture is the reason it took me a long time to be comfortable with scuba diving (which I did a few years later when I was 16).

This creature looked menacing. It wasn’t until years later, when I went to work at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk as an exhibit interpreter, that horseshoe crabs were harmless.

The only reason I liked this picture was because it looked like the shark was eating a chicken leg. Don’t ask me why.

Here's the full set I acquired at a tag sale in the late 1990s. I gave this away years ago.


I’m thrilled to announce that State of Imagination will publish my short story “Denigrating David” in its July issue, which goes live on July 1.

Visit the magazine here:

And if you want a taste of something absolutely disturbing and creepy, I recommend Tammy Hanna’s “Pecking Order” in the mag’s April issue. Check that out here:


I was thrilled when, recently, Peter D. Schwotzer of Literary Mayhem dropped me an e-mail to tell me about a new feature on his site—original fiction—and asked if I’d provide a story.

I chose the “winter tale” spot for January 24, 2011—I have something in the works horror-wise that I hope will be everything Peter’s looking for! But you don’t have to wait until January to read some great original fiction over at Literary Mayhem—James A. Moore’s story will debut on July 24, and October’s feature is by Lee Thompson.

I’m excited and honored by this opportunity! To read the announcement in Literary Mayhem’s Fiction News, click here:

GhoStory Guru: “The Hold” by Koji Suzuki

From Koji Suzuki—the man who brought you Ring, Spiral, and Loop—comes Dark Water, a collection of ghost stories in which the title element plays a major role.[1]

The finest in this collection is “The Hold,” a tale of a Conger Eel fisherman searching for his wife. Part mystery, part Poe-esque study, clues foreshadowing the piece’s end are skillfully wrought through the text: “Since the rubber flaps prevented the conger eels from escaping, they would squirm around in the dark slippery tube. Hiroyuki was definitely not one for metaphors, but he thought the slippery squirming interior of the tube and the struggling eel resembled nothing so much as sexual intercourse.”[2] Want to know what that has to do with anything? In “The Hold” it’s about what writhes in wait beneath the surface—and there’s a new, chilling discovery each time you plunge into a new page.

You can find “The Hold” in Suzuki’s 2004 Dark Water. To purchase the 2006 paperback release, visit here:

[1] For those of you who are wondering, the American film Dark Water is based on the book’s first story, entitled “Floating Water.”

[2] Koji Suzuki, “The Hold,” in Dark Water (New York: Vertical, Inc.), 113. Please note this collection was originally published in Japan as Honogurai mizu no soko kara by Kadokawa Shoten, Tokyo, 1996.

THE GOODBYE PROJECT: Letting Go is Good, Yo! Episode 8–OPI

About The Goodbye Project:

There are so many of us who can’t part with objects because of the sentimental attachment we have to them. You know—the graduation tassels, the barfed-on stuffed animal with the missing eye, the coat your late father bought for you because you begged. So what do you do when it’s time to let go of these beloved items because it’s absolutely necessary?

I’d read someplace that one of the best ways to let go of an object is to know that you have a photo. Sure, you can photograph it before you get rid of it. The Goodbye Project takes the idea a step further: go back and find photos of yourself actually with, using, or wearing that object, and blurb a bit about the memories it invokes.

Why? Everything has a story.

And because of that, the object deserves more than just a hasty trip to the Goodwill or the trash without a second thought.


The colors I’ve decided to give away. Pretty!

When we decided we were moving, Nathan was surprised that I started wiping things out right away—but made the comment that I was focusing on “little things.”

Many little things, though, can add up to big things, and I also think it’s the little things that take the most time to process: for example, which of my nail polishes do I remove from my OPI collection?

After all, I’m very proud of it. Each color I own had been chosen for a specific event or reason, and, as is typical of all writers, I think, the thing I most enjoyed about OPI wasn’t the colors but their cool names (I know for a fact that my poet friend and I, Heather Sullivan, spent more time obsessing over which ones to buy because of the names rather than the colors).

In Newport, “spa days” were some of our best days. From left, my friend Heather, me, and Kaitlyn, November 15, 2002. I think we were trying seaweed masks…

…but we also were painting our nails. I’m sure we shared the colors, too. I can’t name all of these, but I can tell you that on my hands is “Grape Wall of China,” which I think I had just gotten.

In general, my OPI collection holds many great memories for me: hanging out with Heather in Newport, painting our nails at the beach or at her kitchen table. My friend Janet Cutler and I buzzing down to Danbury Beauty Supplies on our lunch hour to give ourselves a lift and pick out a new OPI color (many of my polishes were purchased at that store with Janet; it was our favorite lunchtime activity other than making an “office run” to the McDonald’s at the bottom of the hill). And all the events for which I’d chosen specific colors: my brother Chuck’s wedding in North Carolina; my friend Kaitlyn’s wedding; each trip to Walt Disney World; my romantic Myrtle Beach vacation with Nathan; my summer workshop at the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony in Provincetown.

Me, at left, and Kaitlyn, Newport, RI, on New Year’s Eve Day, 2005. We were painting our nails to get ready to go out. She was wearing one of her personal favorites: either “A Man in Every Port-ugal” or “20 Candles on My Cake”

Here, I’m having my hand done in henna for my brother Chuck’s wedding in Duck, North Carolina (the Outer Banks), June 12, 2003. The nail color I had on at the time I actually got rid of a long time ago—it was from OPI’s Summer 2002 Surf Party Collection and was called “Ocean Love Potion.”

A better look at the Henna and “Ocean Love Potion.”

Looks like I was having fun with one of Kaitlyn’s OPIs here in Newport in August, 2004.

I decided I could keep a few—subtle, neutral, lighter colors (over the years I’ve lost interest in wearing brights, and honestly, I rarely have time to do my nails anymore—I get a mani-pedi and my new fave is called “Kyoto Pearl”). Which ones did I keep? I photographed them below.

…oh yeah. And as far as little things equaling big things? I filed the whole collection, including nail tools and everything, down from a large tote bag to a Ziploc.

That’s a little more like it—although now OPI’s got a fabulous Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean line (Summer 2011—click here for more info, but I’m sure this link won’t be up for too much longer, so here’s a screen shot):

From left to right, Mermaid’s Tears, Stranger Tides, Planks A Lot, Sparrow Me The Drama, Steady As She Rose, Skull & Glossbones, Silver Shatter. I think I’ve got my eye on Stranger Tides and Skull & Glossbones—and mostly because of their names, not the colors.


“Hey, Get in Lime!” from OPI’s Spring 2006 Brights Collection. I never really liked this color, and I can’t find any photos of me with it on. I don’t even remember buying it, so out it goes.

“Nice Hand, Great Nails,” from OPI’s Spring 2003 Las Vegas Collection—I did wear this a couple of times, but it was one of Heather’s. A couple of years ago on one of my visits to Newport we traded a bunch of OPIs, and I think this is one I got from her. Again, don’t remember wearing it.

“Grape Wall of China”—from OPI’s Fall 2001 World Collection—was my fave back in 2002. I think it was pretty much all I wore.

“Apricotcha Cheating”—also from OPI’s Spring 2003 Las Vegas Collection—was big with me in the spring of 2003. It was my daily color.

“Cajun Shrimp”—I don’t know what year or line this was from, but I remember the day I bought it (as well as “Crim-Sun” from OPI’s Summer 2003 Summer for Shore Collection). Janet and I were taking a Friday break and decided to head down to Danbury Beauty Supply. A couple of new nail polishes always brightened an otherwise dull afternoon! “Cajun Shrimp” I used mostly on my toes during the summer because it lasted a long time—but the only reason I bought it, to be truthful, was because I love Cajun food and I love shrimp (the animals—and when I worked at Mystic, I was cleaning out a shrimp tank and some of them got sucked up in the suction hose. They emerged at the other end and I had a heck of a time chasing them all over quarantine to get them back in their tank).

“At Your Quebec and Call,” from OPI’s Fall 2004 Canada Collection, I bought on a post-Christmas trip to Newport, RI that same year at the Providence Place Mall. Heather, Kaitlyn and I spent the day shopping. I wore this color to many, many holiday parties. I also bought this because of its name – in 2001, I spent the most magical week up at Thunder Bay Beach in Canada with our friends Joan and Pete. Every time I wore this color, I recalled that great road trip.

“Electric Eel,” from OPI’s Summer 2005 Brights Collection, was one I searched high and low for—mostly because, with my love of all aquarium animals, I really wanted something in my collection that had a reference to fish in its title. When I finally did find it, though, and wore it, I didn’t like it. I don’t know—that color green just gave my skin tone a strange hue.

Ah, “Chapel of Love” from OPI’s Spring 2003 Las Vegas Collection. I LOVED THIS COLOR! I wore it to my brother Chip’s wedding (2003), my brother Chuck’s wedding (2003), the Danbury Mall Fireworks (2003), when I marched (yes, marched!) in Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade (2004), whenever I wore pink (I wore a great deal of pink in 2003). I’m surprised there’s any even left in this bottle to give away. The reason I’m letting it go? Well…I just have outgrown it.

Me sporting “Chapel of Love” at a wedding, May, 2003.

“Grand Canyon Sunset,” which I have no information on its year or line, was also a favorite and hard to let go (but it’s close to “Dusk Over Cairo,” which I liked better, so I kept that one instead).

Me wearing “Grand Canyon Sunset” in the Magic Kingom’s Fantasyland store, Hundred Acre Goods, just outside of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction in Walt Disney World, September, 2007.

“OPI & Apple Pie,” from OPI’s Fall 2001 Collection, I purchased specifically to wear during July, August, and early September to match a few shirts I had in my wardrobe. It was my color of choice to wear to New England summer activities, like the Bridgewater Fair, the Tractor Parade, and several Corn Mazes.

Me wearing “OPI & Apple Pie,” September 14, 2002, at White Hollow Farm’s Corn Maze in Litchfield, Connecticut.

“Merryberry Mauve,” from OPI’s 2002 Victorian Holiday collection, I got in a trade with Heather. The only reason I liked it was because it reminded me of one of my favorite colors—“Wyatt Earple Purple”—which was the color of choice for many weddings. It’s probably the only bottle of OPI I ever used up.

Me wearing “Wyatt Earple Purple,” from OPI’s Spring 1999 Wild West Collection, at a wedding in Myrtle Beach in April, 2006.

“Amethyst Abyss,” from OPI’s Millennium 2000 collection, was a gift from my friend Janet. I wore this all the time because I liked its holographic nature—it shifted subtly from amethyst to olive. What’s cooler about this color is its name—amethyst is my birthstone, so I have many amethyst rings and necklaces; the word “abyss” always reminds me of the 1989 movie The Abyss, which is a favorite of mine.

“Blushingham Palace,” from OPI’s Fall 2003 British Collection, I got in trade with Heather, who had owned it a long time. I don’t think I ever wore it.

“Goin’ Ape-ricot,” from OPI’s Spring 2006 Brights Collection. This one was great for my toes. I got it from Heather in a trade, I think—I don’t like monkeys, so anything with the word “ape” in it I never would have bought of my own volition.

“Niagara Falls for OPI,” from OPI’s Fall 2004 Canada Collection, I bought purely for its name—one of the most magical vacations I’d ever taken in my life, in 2001, was in Canada, and we spent a weekend in Niagara Falls. I’m also a big fan of that TV series Wonderfalls, which takes place there.

Me wearing “Niagara Falls for OPI” on the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland attraction Tomorrowland® Transit Authority PeopleMover (formerly the WEDWay PeopleMover, formerly the Tomorrowland Transit Authority), Walt Disney World, September, 2007. Believe it or not, what I was doing here was shooting cover art to go with a short story I was writing which is set on the Peoplemover. The short story, “Doing Blue,” made its debut as an issue of my short-lived project Admit One Literary Theme Park, but now has a home as the front-running story in my collection Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World, available at Amazon and wherever books are sold.

“Marquis D’Mauve,” from OPI’s Fall 2002 European Collection. I think I got this in a trade with Heather; I never wore it.

My friend Janet is first to reap the benefit of my saying goodbye.


I figured since I’m telling my life story about my relationship with OPI, I might as well go down the list and tell you what I no longer own, either because I used it up, traded it, or gave it to someone long before now:

Can’t-a-Berry Have Some Fun? (Fall 2002 European Collection)

Changing of the Garnet (Fall 2002 European Collection—this was my VERY FIRST jar of OPI!)

Coral Reef


Glacier Bay Blues (Fall 2004 Canada Collection)

Ocean Love Potion (Summer 2002 Surf Party Collection)

Route Beer Float (Fall 1997 Route 66 Collection)

Wyatt Earple Purple (Spring 1999 Wild West Collection)


The colors I’m keeping, from left to right: “Cameo Role,” “Princesses Rule!”, “Chocolate Shake-speare,” “Polar Bare,” “How to Jamaica Million,” and “Dusk Over Cairo.” Before I go further: how did I choose what to keep? Neutrals. I can always go bright again later if I want, but any of these will pretty much go with any occasion or any outfit.

“Cameo Role,” from OPI’s Fall 1999 Hollywood Collection, was given to me by someone who no longer wanted it (it was probably Heather or Kaitlyn). I fell in love with it because it’s subtle, so it’s become a staple and a favorite. It’s great to keep in a travel kit, because it goes with whatever you’ve got in your suitcase, any time of year.

“Princesses Rule!,” from OPI’s Spring 2006 Princess Charming Collection. I totally bought this in August of 2006 in preparation for that year’s September trip to Walt Disney World with my sister, Missie, and my niece, Andi.

“Chocolate Shake-speare,” from OPI’s Fall 2003 British Collection, I own simply because of its name: my Dad was an English teacher and he loved Shakespeare. I like this color though. It’s nice for fall and for cold winter days.

“Polar Bare,” from OPI’s Fall 2004 Canada Collection. I got this in trade from Heather, but it’s become one of my favorites because just one coat adds a cleaned-up look with low maintenance.

Me wearing “Polar Bare” at Muddy Rivers pool bar at Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans Riverside resort in Florida, September, 2006.

“How to Jamaica Million” I don’t wear often, but it’s nice to have on hand for holidays.

“Dusk Over Cairo.” I got it because I liked the name—it reminded me of all the Indiana Jones movies—but once I put it on, I was pleased to find I liked the color, too.

Me wearing “Dusk Over Cairo” the day I got accepted at Burlington College, September, 2004.

And now…after I’ve seen Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, I’ll head out to the store to pick up those couple I mentioned. Want to know where I got all this great information on the years/dates/collections? Check out Suze’s Stuff website here:


I’ve never felt such sympathy for a guy I didn’t like too much, and that’s what sold me on Sarah Harris Wallman’s “Georgetown Kisses,” now published at Read Short Fiction. I found him to be an Everyman, a man who has, like all of us, made mistakes—and one critical, very large mistake (and possibly a second, eventually, as the ending suggests) that destroyed his life as he knew it. The characters, even Trimble’s wife Sylvie, whom we never really meet, are so real, so well-defined—so the people-next-door. “Georgetown Kisses” is a stellar example of creating not-so-nice characters who still manage to tug at our heartstrings.

You can read the story here:

THE GOODBYE PROJECT: Letting Go is Good, Yo! Episode 7–The Penguin Book

About The Goodbye Project:

There are so many of us who can’t part with objects because of the sentimental attachment we have to them. You know—the graduation tassels, the barfed-on stuffed animal with the missing eye, the coat your late father bought for you because you begged. So what do you do when it’s time to let go of these beloved items because it’s absolutely necessary?

I’d read someplace that one of the best ways to let go of an object is to know that you have a photo. Sure, you can photograph it before you get rid of it. The Goodbye Project takes the idea a step further: go back and find photos of yourself actually with, using, or wearing that object, and blurb a bit about the memories it invokes.

Why? Everything has a story.

And because of that, the object deserves more than just a hasty trip to the Goodwill or the trash without a second thought.


I did this all the time--stick cute captions on pictures of penguins. This was a birthday card I made for my Dad in 2002--yes, he really DID have Macbeth memorized...

I’ve always had a fascination with penguins and wanted to work with them. In 2002, I applied to work as a volunteer at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration (once called Mystic Marinelife Aquarium) in Mystic, CT.

I was accepted and given a choice: yes, the penguin department had an opening, but there wouldn’t be much room for missing a shift—penguins bond tightly with their caregivers—and as I lived two hours and fifteen minutes away, it was a little bit of a risk. So I went with the volunteer coordinator’s suggestion: Fishes & Invertebrates (sharks, crabs, jellies, etc).

I’m sure I would have loved working with the penguins. But I was very happy working in the F&I department (talk about people who walk to the beat of their own drummers! I had a ball). In addition, volunteers also got to attend the daily multi-departmental meeting, so I was privy to what was happening aquarium-wide—including in the penguin department.

I don’t remember what was going on with the penguins one day, but I came out of the meeting with a complete story idea. Over the next week, I went out and bought several books on penguins and did some research to see if I could get my story to work.

This is one of the books; the others I either gave away years ago (and ONE that I just couldn’t part with I kept—I figured having one tangible memory of that time in my life wasn’t a big deal). And if you’d like to read the finished story—called “Colonies,” which was originally published in 2005 in a limited-run anthology that’s no longer available—you can enjoy it here:


Want to know more about penguins up close? Mystic Aquarium & IFE in Connecticut offers a Penguin Encounter at certain times of year. You can read more about that here:

…or enjoy marinebeauties12’s up-close encounter with them in 2009 here on YouTube:

For more information about volunteering at the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, visit here:

March 29, 2002: the day I became a Mystic Aquarium & IFE volunteer. I'm holding up my uniform shirt (long gone, because when you work in F&I stuff gets destroyed fast).

The last of my penguin books with which I'm parting. Information from this book helped me understand penguins a little better so I could write a halfway decent short story.

"Colonies" is about Emperor Penguins (sort of, anyway). This Post-It was stuck in the inside front cover of the book, so I'm assuming these are the pages that had information I needed.

Not much highlighting in this book--at all. I probably copied the pages I needed and threw them in the story's file.


Here I am with Nathan in the back-up area for the Mammals exhibit at MA&IFE in March, 2004. We were helping the beluga whales get prepared for that summer's public Whale Encounter sessions. Notice our red/purple hands? YEAH...THAT water was COLD!


My very first ride on The Mad Tea Party. That's right. Didn't have the courage to ride it until I was 37.

Hairless Girl Does the Hula—Tales from Haunted Disney World is due out in late 2012, and just as Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole had a creepy little Prologue (“Monorail Clear”), so will Hairless.

Right now, the Prologue for Hairless Girl Does the Hula is called “What the Dormouse Knows (or, An Average Afternoon at The Mad Tea Party),” and it’s in three parts. As a treat, I’m going to post each here over the coming weeks: Part 1 on June 24, Part II on July 1, and Part III on July 8.

Enjoy and Happy Reading!

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