Celebrity Cafe

Friday, August 26, 2005

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Since I was a very young child, I’ve had a fantasy of driving a fast car on Route 66, a twenty-four hundred mile stretch of road beginning in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles. It predated the superhighways and would meander through towns, cities, and hamlets allowing a driver to see the country as they passed through it.

I used to watch an old television series with Martin Milner and George Maharis called Route 66. They drove a red Corvette in the age when the price of color television was only beginning to reach affordability for the common man. We had a black and white model. Every week one blonde and one dark-haired man would set off in a convertible with only adventure awaiting them. They’d stop and work to get enough money for repairs, gas, food, and the essentials of a life on the road. They had no attachments, nothing to keep them tied to any one place. The world was their highway and there were magical escapades at every stop.

What freedom. What escape, I thought. This was a wonderful way to live. And I wanted to do it. However, I was a girl with many years ahead of me before I was even old enough to drive, much less learn the constraints put on women and the added bonds that held black women back during that time. Yet that sense of freedom to comb the road, stopping along the way for the pure sense of adventure or just to find out where the road leads, never left me. Today I will drive down a road with the sole intention of finding out where it goes. Dead-ends, grassy knolls, babbling brooks, farm country, the center of town, warehouse districts, or suburbs, all have something to say. They feed that sense of freedom, of being uninhibited. Many of these drives have fueled my own stories or provided me with fresh ideas for current or future projects.

My sense of adventure has never been satisfied, although I have explored places since that black and white television program ended, the sixties happens and I learned to drive. Oftentimes, I’ve foregone the fastest route, and taken the secondary, more scenic roads that wind through towns and slow down to twenty-five miles an hour. I believe keeping adventure alive is a plus and it will never end for me. There is so much to see, so many people to talk to and discover the uniqueness of their lives.

While I’d like to upgrade that Corvette to a Porsche, it isn’t the need for speed that calls me, but that all important freedom that can be obtained with only a car and the open road. Most of Route 66 survives today, but not in its original, well-maintained form. The road is cracked, overgrown, and hard to find in places where only a Jeep, not a Porsche, can traverse. My dream of taking that adventure and finding out where the road leads remains alive and well and as Route 66 beckons to me, there are interesting lives down every roadway.

Where is yours?

Shirley Hailstock, 39 Celebrity Circle


Commuting today -- Friday -- brought out the worse in me because I didn’t want to leave my home, more specifically my bed this morning. I have a 40-50 min commute from Maryland to D.C. on the Metro rail. Here’s my commuter rant that isn’t designed to be politically correct or fair. I don’t care. I want to rant.


I merged onto the street for the metro parking lot and yielded for the oncoming traffic. The driver who had the right-of-way slammed on her brakes to let me go – cell phone in hand, as if she was using the speaker phone feature. I motioned for her to go. I wanted her in front of me where I could see the silly woman. She motioned for me to go. I sucked my teeth and hit the gas. She decided to hit her gas too. I braked. She braked. Meanwhile she’s still talking on the cell phone. She finally went on her way and turned into the parking lot. The next trick this yahoo tried was to park her car while holding the phone. I left her aisle and went to another because I could see that she would have plucked my nerve enough for me to tell her to invest in a hands free device. If you can afford your car, your hair do, your nails, your clothes, then you can afford a hands free device. Stop being trifling. Stop being a menace. Stop being a yahoo.


Escalators are the devices that take you from one level to another. People Movers are the flat belts, like an assembly line device, that moves you along a path. Why is it that commuters who don’t want to exert any kind of energy get onto the escalators, ride it up or down. When they reach the final point, they just stand there. They don’t move their feet. Well guess what I’m coming up behind you. You can’t slowly move off the escalator. The forward motion has stopped. It’s time for you to swing those legs and get them moving. Otherwise I and others will be smashed against each other rear ends. And I’d rather not.

P.S. People/ Tourists/ Occasional Commuters – The right side is where you stand. The left side is for walking up the escalator. Don’t confuse the two. And don’t you and your friend take up both sides. You’re liable to get a disgusted “excuse me” and the dagger stare when I go past you.


Once a upon a time, I was a size 3, 4, 5. Well you get the point. It’s going in the wrong direction. And I know that I can’t fit in every space. I’m not in denial. I don’t go to kiddie rides and squeeze my widening hips into a rollercoaster car while my kid folds herself into an accordion to deal with my overlap.

Then please, why can’t commuters with wide hips know that they shouldn’t cut off people’s circulation or air supply to get a seat. In my older age, I have no qualms in getting up after a huge behind eclipses the sun as it descends next to me. Widening girths don’t happen overnight. So it’s not a surprise to know that you overlap the dividing line between seats. Stop the madness.


This one amuses me when I’m in a good mood. It annoys me, otherwise. As Americans we love to tout our rights. I guess the right to wear low rider pants is up there with liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In case you didn’t know the view point of others, let me tell you. I realize that I don’t have to look at you. But sitting in a train there’s not much to look at, until the next set of commuters board the train.

Low riders are for flat behinds and flat stomachs. This is not for the woman curved in the back and front who is going through some type of image crisis to feel whole and feminine because she was able to button her pants waist. Why on earth do you want pants that close under the belly making your belly look like the ice-cream on a cone. Then you wear a crop top that shows the belly and stretch marks? Or when you bend over I get to see the style, make and model of the panty and in one case, the butt crack. Don’t get mad at me, I call it like I see it.


Isn’t it wonderful to wiggle your toes and not have it hemmed up in shoes? But can we get a pedicure. This doesn’t mean an expensive feet make over. Simple cutting of the nails, lotion on the feet, using a pumice stone for those ragged heels would suffice. Feet should not hang off the back of your shoe. People, this means the shoe is too small. Pinky toes should be securely fastened, if they like to stray to the side. Otherwise, it’s like a runaway nub. Bunions are also like runaway pinky toes, an obstruction. Unless you’re scared of the knife or have medical issues, it is a treatable condition. Plus it doesn’t get better with age.

So now you see why I should have stayed home. TGIF.

Michelle Monkou

Friday, August 19, 2005


I have always wanted a tattoo since my early twenties. I like the artistry displayed on the human canvass. My problem has been deciding on what to get. I’ve thought about getting symbols that have Zen-like meanings. Or selecting a Chinese character that carries a profound meaning. I have sought my power animal based on Native American traditions as another option. Then I would have to spend time explaining what the symbol meant. Nope, don’t want to be forced to be chatty about my body decoration.

Then I examined other people’s tattoos. Some were crisply done. Others looked smudged because the ink bled. Do I want color or simple outlines? Lighter skin shows off the colors more vividly. The outlined ones look more like jail house rock.

The History channel had a documentary on the history of the tattoo, along with the techniques. I know that I won’t be going for any of the ancient methods, which looks like sheer torture. They pound sharp points into the skin. The manual vs electronic technique is what gets to me. Then they showed the elaborate tattooing of the Pacific Islanders which I thought were pretty, but I had no desire to have such a significant portion of my limbs or torso covered. I knew that for sure.

On the train, I’ve seen tattoos on arms, ankles, shoulder blades, chests, and necks. Body placement has also been an obstacle for getting the tattoo. I don’t want it on a place that will sag. I’m really tickled when I see a young girl with a tattoo, like a pretty symmetrical heart, on her stomach. Silly rabbit! The top of the breast is another sticky spot especially if you’re heavy chested. Once gravity hits where exactly will that tattoo end up, unless they plan to invest in Victoria’s ‘shove em up’ bras. My ankle, my forearm, and my thigh were all places that I have chosen for this display. Now ten years later, I’m narrowing it down to the ankle. The skin hasn’t sagged – hmm, do ankle skin sag. Would my tattoo end up at the bottom of my feet when I’m pushing my walker.

Finally I saw a woman a few days ago with 69 tattooed on the inside of her ankle. She looked to be in her twenties going to work. I know the sexual connotation of 69. Figured she did too. So was she wearing the 69 to say, yes I’m in that club? Is it like a fraternity brand to help other members identify you? Is it an ad to a man or woman that you go for 69? I had fun pondering the possibilities of why someone would tattoo that on her ankle. When she is in her eighties, would it then become a badge of honor?

I may not ever get a tattoo, but I’m enjoying pondering the why’s and why not’s.

Michelle Monkou

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Spurts of Energy

Do you have days or periods of time when you produce a great amount of product, whatever your product is? Maybe you clean the house, empty out closets and reorganize them, do your kitchen cabinets with that spray cleaner that polishes them and no one knows it but you. Well I had one of those periods. It didn't result in a cleaner house.

I have a lot of energy anyway, but when a friend pointed out that I had been so productive since I lost my job, I looked back to see what I had done. I was reorganized out of my position in February of this year. I lost no time in trying to find another position. I need the security of a group insurance and a steady paycheck. And still I spend 20-30 hours a week in my search. It's not going that well, but that would be the subject of a different blog.

Even without a real day job, I have a three-year-old at home, a college-age son who's working this summer, but can't find the time to make his own lunch in the morning, e-mail, a blog, maintenance of my own website (http://www.geocities.com/shailstock), romance articles for newsletters and magazines, romance conference materials to send to the conference chairs, donated books to send out, promotional items to design and order, contracted books to complete, fan mail to answer and proposals to write and mail. I'm a little busy.

I'd already paid for several writer's conferences so I went to them, and picked up some new contacts and information about opportunities to sell projects. I have the hope of selling enough manuscripts to write full-time and support myself in the style to which I would like to become accustomed. And I think big. I didn't expect it to happen overnight. I'm willing to let it bill, but in two years I should getting up there, right? We'll see. So far the publishing world and I haven't aligned to my expectations. But I live in hope.

Writer's conferences always inspire me. After attending them, I come home and go to my computer, or even before I get home I write on the plane or train. Beginning last Janaury I had written or updated and sent out eight different proposals and a fully completed manuscript. It appeared nothing was happening for six months, then in June things began to heat up (no pun intended). At this writing, I've had one rejection, three sales, and found an agent to sell my mainstream.

While the money won't keep me in the style.. yadayadyaada...I'm going to be very busy in the next year getting those books written. I'm glad I have a lot of energy and I love writing. I love the proposals that sold. I love them all whether they sell or not.

So my ktichen cabinets will have to remain in their current state, although I'll be forced to clean the sticky floor (why are kitchen floors always sticky). Who knows, maybe I'll have a heroine who likes to clean and I'll have to do research...I don't think so.

Wherever your energy takes you, look back at what you've done over a period of time and see how productive you have been. You might be surprised.

Shirley Hailstock