Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Penny for Your Thoughts on 2009

1. What did you think of 2009? It began on a positive note. I believed the country was headed toward change. I bought it. But here at the end of December, it doesn’t feel like much—if anything—has changed, besides the fact that like the President, my hair has gotten grayer.

2. What do you think was the news story of the year? The US Airways plane landing in the Hudson River.

3. What happened this year that you never want to hear another word about? Tiger Woods’ conga line of mistresses.

4. What was your favorite song of 2009? Can’t answer this. I listen to “my kids’ music” when I’m driving them all over town and frankly, it’s all crap. Will SOMEONE please send me some GOOD new music?

5. What did you accomplish this year? Increased business revenues in a down economy; wrote/published 100+ blogs; moved ahead on my newest manuscript; made several new friends from my daughter’s new soccer team; re-established contact with my brother—although once again, I haven’t heard from him in weeks; stayed physically fit; managed home, kids, marriage and business and feel it’s a happy home.

6. Did you learn anything new this year? Yes. Vocabulary words, of course, and a new method of telling whether or not the moon is waxing or waning. I also learned how to use a Nikon D90 camera.

7. What are you looking forward to in the new year? Using my new camera; watching my daughters play soccer and volleyball; laughing with my husband (because it’s my favorite thing to do); and finishing my manuscript.

8. What are your plans for New Year's Eve? Going to a party.

9. What's the best thing you ever did on a New Year's Eve? I learned the words to “Auld Lang Syne” from my friend Jeanine during a snowstorm. Everyone should know the words to this song—and their meaning—on New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for reading, and all best to all of you in 2010. Stay in touch.



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Bad Hair Blast from the 1980s

All it takes is a brief look back to determine with absolute certainty that the 1980s were filled with a lot of big, bad hair.

I heard from an old friend today, someone I’d actually given up for dead until a surprise message turned up in my “in” box. Thank goodness for the Internet and a thing called Google. This woman, who actually served as a bridesmaid at our 1989 wedding, got in touch after Googling my name. I believe the search led her to my blog, which led her to my author website, email address and, to one of my books, The Things I Wish I’d Said. Given this book was, in part, a lot about my life shortly after I was married, she remembered a lot of it. I’m not sure whether or not she remembered why we fell out of touch, but truthfully, it’s not important. I am very happy to hear from her.

My longhaired bridesmaid included good news about her life and then, hit the old photo albums and made a few scans. “Here are some of the hundreds of pics I have from the times we shared,” she wrote. I couldn’t wait to see which ones she chose.

The first was of Mike and me as Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey on Halloween, circa 1987. I remember we had only one ‘Mr. Microphone,’ (that yellow thing in his pocket) and fought over it all night saying things like, “Caller, you’re on the air!” I also remember doing a pretty decent pass as an African-American person. That was until an actual African-American friend showed up at the party and told me that my “blue eyes would never allow me to pass as a sistah!” There was no question, though, that Mike was the spittin’ image of Mr. Donahue.

She also included a photo (at top) of what looked like a double date, with one of the guys who stood up for Mike at our wedding. Neither Mike nor I can remember if it was a set-up, but we know nothing ever brewed between the two of them. Perhaps it was because of the cigar in her hand???

There were others, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the picture at left, of three girls in their late 20s at a San Francisco comedy club. I’ve known the blonde woman since elementary school and she currently lives in Tucson, not too far from us. Her son and my daughter correspond more than we do, but we get together when we can. She’s one of those people that no matter how much time elapses, we can pretty much pick up where we left off.

I’m not sure the same can be said for my bridesmaid. It’s been close to 20 years since I’ve heard from her. But for a moment today, this blast from the 1980s reminded me of a very carefree and fun time in my life. I’m grateful for the memories.

And I absolutely do NOT miss the hair. Thank you Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusan.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas When You’re 49

When you’re 49, you are Santa and everyone in the house knows it. It doesn’t bode well when your bedtime is far earlier than your kids’ and they’re still up late playing Facebook games like Farmville and going through the motions of putting out milk and cookies next to the fireplace.

Thank baby Jesus, the Mr. Claus in this Southwest pole regularly burns the midnight oil. Last night he fulfilled the stocking-stuffing and placing the surprise gifts of the season under our tree long after I was sawing wood for the night. I did manage, however, to wake up at my normal three o’clock feeding time to get his one and only surprise into his stocking. He had purchased all the rest of his own presents himself. (This is a man who knows what he wants and wastes no time fulfilling the wants.) At least I wrapped them. Good wife?

One thing that hasn’t changed on Christmas morning in all our years of being parents is that it’s the one day of the year when our kids get up before us. As a rule, they come to our room and beckon us to the Christmas tree in order for the gift opening to begin. The wake-up calls have gone from as early as six a.m. to nine a.m.; however, both our darling girls still patiently await the espresso machine churning out at least two good-sized lattes for their groggy parents, Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

On that note, today, Christmas 2009, it was a pleasant surprise when we opened their first gifts, which were his-and-her espresso mugs. They had purchased them in Las Vegas during our Thanksgiving trip. I loved the mugs, and immediately abandoned my original, having my second decaf latte in a white mug with “Las Vegas” printed all around it. Yes, that’s another thing that’s changed. Before I was in my late 40’s, my coffee had caffeine.

In the meantime, Santa managed to fulfill every item on both of their rather modest Christmas lists . . . save one item. They’d been begging for a Wii for weeks—perhaps months.

Now this is where the age of 49 comes back into play. I’m afraid I am not a child of the videogame age. On the contrary, I’ve always found video games to be a complete waste of time and energy. I believe children should instead spend time playing a real game or reading a book. I suppose it’s my personal generation gap. My parents liked Glenn Miller, I liked The Stones! Video games? I always thought they were for morons.

And yet Mr. Claus managed to convince me that the price of the Wii had become affordable, and my workout buddy, the Beave, told me she and her kids regularly broke a sweat while playing with one. Honestly, my girls wanted it so badly, that I heard the word “we,” or perhaps the adjective “wee,” or even the French word for yes, “oui,” about twenty times a day in their daily vocabularies.

So, here’s what this 49-year-old Mrs. Claus did AFTER her Mr. Claus purchased the Wii for their kids. She wrapped it and all its accessories—games, extra remotes, what-have-you—in special green paper. Then she directed Mr. Claus to NOT put them under the tree in case she fell asleep before him. (Yup!)

Then, on Christmas morning, the girls got through all their gifts and appeared grateful for their bounty.

At this point Mr. Claus left the room to get himself yet another latte. Mrs. Claus stayed put, totally happy about the new telephoto lens she received as a surprise gift. (Complete and happy surprise!) In the meantime, she couldn’t help but keep one pointed-ear tuned-in to the exchange between her little elves: One was happy, one was clearly disappointed. It was obvious that both had tried to cover up their disappointment at NOT receiving the most coveted gift, the Wii.

Sensing a breakdown, she gestured to Mr. Claus. “Go get it,” she said, in no uncertain terms.

The bottom line is that the Wii brought our youngest to tears. And the elder was equally as happy although she claimed she knew what we were up to. Meanwhile, they haven’t stopped playing with this TV-oriented interactive game all day. They even got me in on the fun and I’m happy to report winning scores in both table tennis and basketball. I need to work on my wakeboarding and baseball; however if life matches videogames, I will dominate this family. I’m sure of it.

If I know one thing at the age of 49, it’s that I RULE!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When Your Novel is Available for a Penny

We’ve all heard of “dime novels.” Now, thanks to, there are “penny novels” available, and one of them happens to be mine. How did I learn this?

An old friend, someone with whom I went to school, recently sent an unsolicited review of my first novel, A Line Between Friends, and I asked him to post a version of it on He did. And when I went to the site to read it, I noticed there were two “new” copies of the book available from Amazon vendors for 1¢. One flippin’ cent. How can that be? Even I can’t get copies of my own books for under nine bucks!

My friend Beaver, who has a thriving Amazon business, explained that vendors make more money on some of their items from the minimum $3.99 shipping allotment Amazon provides than they do on the product itself. I get that, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. Placing the value of a story that I labored to write and edit, and on which my publisher invested printing and distribution expenses at a mere penny is, well, pretty damn degrading. It’s almost as bad as a negative review.

On a brighter note, my friend’s five-star review of A Line Between Friends was the 22nd five-star rating of the work posted on Amazon. And I know for a fact that reading it and reconnecting with his past (and with me) was worth far more than a flippin’ penny. 

In the meantime, don’t bother looking for those new copies at the bargain basement rate at the Amazon site. I snapped them up. Now you’re going to have to pay as much as four dollars (plus shipping, of course) for my award winning first novel. It’s still a good deal on what “Steve from Florida” deemed, “an awesome book that addresses the universal experiences of college life and the relationships we develop during those times, especially that special one we all experienced.”

And one last thing I'd like to convey is that from those Amazon vendors, I don't receive one red cent.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Made $$$ Off of Tiger Woods

There, I said it. It’s true. I may be the least exotic of the “conga line” of blonde-bombshells to come forward, but I am one. Regardless, I’m quite sure Extra, The Today Show or The National Enquirer won’t come a knockin,’ even though I’m convinced that my big boobs and Tiger Woods helped to pay an entire month of tuition of my daughter’s volleyball club.

Last February during the Accenture Match Play Golf Tournament near Tucson, I signed up to be a concession worker as a fundraising opportunity for the Zona Volleyball Club. The best part of fundraising for this club is that any funds you earn go directly toward your own child’s fees rather than the club. Since my husband and I both like golf and certainly relished the opportunity to see Tiger Woods on his first tournament after an extended injury break, we thought this was a great opportunity.

Early in the week, we were stationed at a remote concession booth between holes 15 and 17. A character named “Ernie” was our concession boss, and he showed us the ropes. He put Mike in charge of making dogs and, a smart move, put me at the register. He had no idea how good at it I would be. Not only could I count quickly and make proper change, but I could also bark orders to my fellow concessioners, and put up with a large population of the progressively drunken gallery. Any time one of the big name players, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, or Camilo “the Spider” Villegas, for example, headed down fairway 15, the lines grew as long as a par four fairway.

But the crowds had truly come to see Tiger. By the time he hit our end of the course, I, in my cash register mania, had stripped down to my tank top (we were required to wear our Zona Club shirts, which I used as an apron) and my tip jar, which I had to empty at least five times, tallied over 300 bucks. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to personally keep the tips—everything made by all concession workers in terms of profit and tips were split among the volunteers—but what we made was still enough to pay for an entire month’s tuition and still have some left over for next season.

And I think we owe it primarily to Tiger.

Ernie, who works concessions on the PGA tour across the country, said it was a fact that when Tiger was not on the course, profits decreased by fifty percent. (Phil Mickelson, he said, was the second biggest draw.) So, by Sunday when BOTH Tiger and Phil had been eliminated, we only had to stay in the stand for about an hour. On that day, I’m not sure my tips tallied more than three bucks. Compare three to three hundred. That’s a 99 percent drop in revenue. The good news is that we were paid per shift, regardless of how long the shift was and how hard we worked.

The Sunday volunteers got off very easy. But they, on the other hand, didn’t get the chance to see Tiger Woods. I did. And now that Accenture has become the first major sponsor to drop him as a spokesperson and he’s taking an indefinite break from golf, he may not be coming back to Tucson any time soon. So we got when the getting was good. But that’s probably over now too.

I imagine seeing him now will no longer offer the pure thrill of witnessing an amazing athlete in action. Instead it’ll be just one more cad who got too big for hit britches, and ultimately became known not for his birdies, but for his bitches.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dumber Than a Box of Socks

Aaaaaaargh! I found another solitary sock in my daughter’s bathroom this morning. I wonder, should I grab it and try to hunt down its mate? Or should I save time and simply add it to the ever-growing collection of strays in the Cozzens family’s box of socks?

Does anyone else have this problem? It seems every time I pull out a load of clothes from the dryer and start the sorting process, I end up with at least two or three single socks. (None of them, by the way, belong to me). Apparently I’m the only one in the family who places BOTH socks in the hamper after use.

A few years back someone suggested I keep big safety pins in the laundry room and actually pin pairs together before washing. It sounded like a good idea. But the problem is, both socks don’t make it to the laundry room. One ends up in the sofa, another on the bathroom floor. One is tucked inside a sneaker, the other walks off to the Great Sock Hiding Place, the location of which will always remain a mystery.

My kids don’t seem to mind wearing mismatched socks. People often point to their feet and say things like, “do you realize you’re wearing two different socks?” Oh, they realize it all right. And they don’t care. To them, it’s become a fashion statement.

Well, this Christmas, I don’t think I’ll add to the problem (the problem being the box of socks, not the misguided fashion statements). I vow not to stuff the stockings with more potential stray socks. Instead, I think their fireplace socks might just be filled with rocks.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lac du Flambeau Gets a Clue

You don’t see THIS everyday in your morning crossword puzzle:

3. _____ du Flambeau, Wisc.

In all my years of doing puzzles, I’ve seen _____ du Lac, Wisc. about a hundred times and it never got me excited. Today, however, seeing a clue for our little remote corner of the Northwoods—home to the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe Indians and Sandy Point Resort and Disc Golf Ranch—in the USA Today puzzle, gave me a bigger rush than a double dose of cappuccino.

Sandy Point Resort is outside the town limits of Lac du Flambeau, but it does carry a “Flambeau” mailing address. The town itself is located in Vilas County and is comprised of approx. 128 square miles, 260 lakes, 65 miles of lakes, streams and rivers and 24,000 acres of wetlands. People population at the last census was 3000. I can’t say what the fish population is; however, I can report that according to the Lac du Flambeau Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest sturgeon came out of Lake Pokegama and is currently housed in a Lac du Flambeau museum. This monster measured 7 feet, 1 inch, weighed 195 pounds and 40 inches around.

That’s quite a catch. And this clue was a great piece of bait. I filled in every square of the crossword in record time.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Making Sense of a Murder-Suicide

He had recently sent my younger sister an email, telling her she was missed at the class reunion. I saw photos of him on Facebook from that reunion and recognized him immediately. (The same could not be said about the boys/men at my own thirtieth reunion last year). Some sweet faces never change. His was one of them.

The news came to me inadvertently through a friend, who said she was still reeling from the tragedy. She assumed I’d heard. I hadn’t. I’d been out of town and paid little attention to the news. So, when she told me that an old friend, a boy from the neighborhood with whom we went to elementary and high schools had put bullets in the heads of his two young sons, his wife and then one in his mouth, the reeling began for me.


This news is impossible to comprehend or explain. The note he allegedly left has not been released. According to my sister, his best friend had no insight. All accounts say he was a good citizen, a neighbor, a coach, a buddy. There didn’t appear to be any financial woes or domestic squabbles. But unfortunately, there were firearms in the house. And clearly there were underlying demons within this man, which led to a fatal and awful SNAP.

I don’t know if what remains of his family can or will forgive him. I don’t even know if God can forgive such inexplicable violence. All I know is that when we were kids, when our whole lives were still ahead of us, I liked him. I liked him very much. And all of us who remember him fondly are left with the unanswered questions and the charge to keep on living in spite of this horrible, practically unspeakable incident in our shared history.

Are we supposed to make sense of it? Can we? Perhaps the only thing we can do is hold our loved ones a little closer, be grateful for all we have, and treat this as a lesson in perspective.

Meanwhile, “Mange,” rest in peace.