Tag Archives: the yellow kitchen table

The Teri Tome–My 2020 Hits and Misses

I can’t believe my blog, The Teri Tome, is five years old already. Wow, those years flew by way too fast.

Sitting here writing this blog post, I’m trying to remember back to 2015, and sadly, nothing earth-shattering is coming to mind.

Maybe it’s because my memory is shot, or maybe it’s because, in 2020, life interrupted my recollection of anything pre-covid.

And okay, maybe I sound like Trump when I say:

Covid, covid, covid. Covid, covid, covid.

Stick me in the arm with the vaccine already!

I’m sure you would all agree that 2020 was a lot to deal with. Okay, it was a dystopic sh**storm. And I’m happy to say buh-bye to all 366 days of it. (2020 was a leap year, remember?)

But, to be fair, it hasn’t been all bad. Forty-three long weeks in quarantine has taught me a lot about myself and my definition of essential.

In the early months of 2020, I considered it my lost year.

Until I realized that 2020 was the year I found myself. I’m a changed and hopefully better person than when I naively rang in 2020.

I’ve questioned the fundamentals of “normal,” and going back to my pre-covid life as my pre-covid self isn’t an option.

Just to be clear, I haven’t locked myself down for the past ten months because I’m afraid covid’s gonna get me.

My reason for living like a hermit all these months is simple. Without my family and close friends, I have no reason to venture out.

Let me break down my pre-covid routine for you:

My standing nail salon appointment: I’ve perfected my mani-pedi skills, and my nails have never been healthier.

My monthly haircut and color: I’ve become adept at trimming my hair, and I’m okay with going grey.

Grocery shopping: I always despised shopping for groceries, so having them delivered works for me.

Clothes and shoe shopping: 2020 was the year I wore schlumpf clothes 24/7. Schlumpf is a thing. Look it up in the Urban Dictionary.

Going out to restaurants: Sitting outside in the brutal heat or the freezing cold is not my idea of fine dining. If I can’t go to Peter Lugar’s in style, I’ll wait until I can.

The last time I filled my car with gas was early February 2020, and March 7 was the last time I left my house. (Except for my flu shot and three doctor visits.)

March quickly morphed into July, then September, followed by non-Thanksgiving, non-Chanukah, non-Christmas, and non-New Year’s Eve.

And please don’t judge me, but during my endless months in quarantine, I found solace in all things 1:12 scale. Okay, I’m more like obsessed.

There were too many 2020 days when I wanted to miniature myself small enough to move into my newly renovated dollhouse.

When my head wasn’t stuck in a dollhouse, I baked some killer bread, grew potted veggies and herbs on my patio, spic-and-spanned my house, socially distanced in my frosty garage, and created some awesomely impressive meals.

And my fingers to elbows have never been cleaner! I’ve been singing the ABCs and Happy Birthday in my inside voice at least fifty times per day.

In 2020 I binged on mindless reality shows I would never have otherwise wasted my time on. Awful shows like 90-Day Fiancé (so creepy) and Married at First Sight (so desperate).

2020 was also the year I could barely string together a sentence because I developed a severe case of writer’s block!

And whenever I wrote, it was forced and mostly dark, which is why I’m only going to bore you with my Top Five blog posts instead of my Top Ten.

And okay, I’ll throw in the worst blog post of 2020 as well as the best of all time (2015-2020).

I do owe you full disclosure: Of my 32 total posts in 2020, I wrote seven of them eons ago—pulled from a novel titled My Stolen Diaries that I’ve been writing since 1992.

And shocking to me was that when I calculated the traffic numbers for my 2020 Top Five blog posts, four of them were from that ancient rough draft novel.

It turned out my most popular blog posts were less of a post-mortem on what Teri was writing in 2020 and more about what Teri was writing in the 90s.

The Teri Tome generated over 300,000 page views in 2020, a whopping 47% increase from 2019, primarily due to my novelog My Stolen Diaries, so I’m pleased.

I’ll start with the worst blog post of 2020:

#1 WORST IN 2020 

I Tried to Save a Cat’s Life Yesterday: I was sorry to see that this blog post was a loser. I still haven’t gotten over that poor pregnant cat. And I’m not sure that anything can be done about it, but we have way too many feral cats in my North Woodmere, New York neighborhood.      

And now for my Top Five 2020 posts:

#1 HIT IN 2020

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter Two: To Know Yourself Is to Know Your Family : I was dumbfounded to see that a chapter from my rough draft novel was numero uno. It took me a while to figure out a format for excerpting from my decades-old unfinished book. When I finally settled on calling it a Novelog (novel-in-a-blog), I put up a Disclaimer and six chapters. I was reasonably sure they would all bomb. The thousands of hits that this 28-year-old Chapter Two garnered made my heart happy.

#2 HIT IN 2020

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter Four: The Yellow Kitchen Table: Wow, so this was also a thrill for me! Another chapter of my dusty old novel? To be honest,  I almost didn’t post this chapter for reasons I won’t disclose. But I have no regrets.

#3 HIT IN 2020

2020 Cedarhurst Sidewalk Sale: I Was Fired for Seeking the Truth: Getting fired from my job as Executive Director of the Cedarhurst Business Improvement District for refusing to put people’s lives at risk during a pandemic was devastating. But I’m glad my post reached thousands of visitors, and I hope it continues to attract tons of traffic. I miss my job, but I don’t miss the Village of Cedarhurst’s political posturing, the lies, the misinformation, or the bullying. And I’m still weighing whether or not to sue the Deputy Mayor of Cedarhurst for defamation.

#4 HIT IN 2020

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter Five: My First Diary: The first thing I thought when I added up the numbers and saw that the #4 spot was yet another chapter of my book—was that maybe, just maybe, my languishing novel has legs!

#5 HIT IN 2020

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter Six: Tit: Another chapter of my book! And BTW, Tit is the nickname for a bully character in my novel. And the thousands of people this chapter reached gave me new resolve to pull out that book and take a fresh look at it.

#1 HIT OF ALL TERI TOME TIME (2015-2020)

Bullies Are Cowards and Why I Refuse To Turn the Other Cheek: I have a lot to say about this one. Year after year, this post, written in 2015, continues to outperform all the others, and to date, has garnered almost 550,000 page views. And year after year, I’m thankful for the blog traffic, but the fact that “bullies” is my number one keyword says volumes about our world’s character. And as history has shown us, there are way too many psychopathic bullies out there. And from my personal experience, someone with a psychopathic personality disorder will almost always display some sort of mental illness and or narcissistic derangement. As far as I’m concerned, all three conditions are little more than a convenient label for crackpots and social deviants who over-estimate and exaggerate their abilities, status, intelligence, and looks.

In reviewing my 2020 hits and misses, as well as my top post of all Teri Tome time, I’m excited about highlighting more chapters of my novel on my blog.

And 2021 might even be the year I finish it!

I want to wish my loyal readers a Happy New Year. I hope that 2021 brings you wellness and equality, plus all the hopes and dreams you thought would happen in 2020.

And I can’t wait to see what 2021 holds for the new and improved Teri.

Stay tuned!

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 3: White Street

 

CHAPTER 3

WHITE STREET

January 1960

Mem and Mom were always talking about the big news of the time: Elvis was in the army; Senator John F. Kennedy was running for President and Mem got a Saturday job working at the Woolworth’s lunch counter on Main Street.

But I cared little about any of that. I was in my own little world, in my own little life.

We lived in Bridgetown, Connecticut in a tenement on White Street, although there weren’t too many white people.

Our top-floor railroad apartment was laid out in a single long line of rooms: from the kitchen to the living room, to the bedroom that Mom shared with Mere Germaine, to my grandmother’s bedroom at the end. I slept with Mem.

The kitchen was large and had plenty of cupboards. There was one extra-large cupboard to the left of the sink, filled to capacity with empty shoe boxes. I hated that cupboard. I hated the shoe boxes even more.

The tiny bathroom was directly off the kitchen to the left and lined up with a long creepy hallway that ran from the bathroom all along the length of the entire apartment and ended up at a dark, steep, and narrow stairwell that led down twenty steps or so to the front door.

We never used that door, because it was padlocked—sealed shut and unusable. So the only way in and out of the apartment was to climb the several rows of steep stairs in the back of the house and enter through the kitchen. Only one way in and one way out. A real fire trap.

Our apartment was run down, but Mem kept it spotless, which unfortunately didn’t stop the cockroaches and rodents from invading.

I hated the roaches. Big bad cockroaches. They came out fast and furious.  And they were bold. I would stamp my foot next to them to scare them, but they wouldn’t budge. The roach brigade usually made their debut anytime it went from dark to light.

When we would enter the kitchen at night—and turn on the lights, all the cockroaches would frantically scurry around the walls, trying to flee from the brightness. Hundreds of cockroaches would cover the walls of our kitchen. They came in droves. Welcome home.

The roach activity was horrifying.  But it was just the way it was. Mom would carry on and throw a fit, but not me—and never Mem.

But I was most petrified of the rodents. They were probably rats, but I don’t think I could have survived living there, thinking they were rats.

I insisted on sleeping with the bedroom light on even though Mem preferred the light out. No way I was sleeping in the dark. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that on White Street, everything scary came out in the dead of night.

Despite the rodents and the bugs, I never imagined that there was a better way to live. I didn’t realize at the time that we were poor and living in squalor conditions. It was just home to me.

At night I would help Mem set up the rodent traps. I hated it, but the thought of having hungry mice—or worse—roaming around our apartment was even scarier. So, our routine before going to bed was to lay traps all over the apartment. And if Mere Germaine weren’t already asleep, she would cut up the cheese.  Mom refused to help us.

Poor Mom. She would yelp every time she heard a trap snap. Snap, snap, snap. All night long.

Early every morning, Mem would grab a shoebox from the dreaded cupboard, and roam around our apartment, throwing the successful traps into it. The shoebox would be full of rodents with broken necks. Mem would then calmly throw them into a garbage bag and then into the garbage can on our back porch, and place the shoebox back in the cupboard next to the sink.

On the first of every month, our landlord would put out a dish of rat poison in the corner, next to our back door. By the end of the month, the bowl was always empty which made me happy, because it meant a lot of dead rats.

I was a curious child, so I asked Mem a lot of rodent questions. I wouldn’t call Mem a mouse or rat expert, but she knew a lot about both.

My math skills weren’t the best, but I knew that where there was one rodent, there were many more. Mem told me that rats have large families—up to forty or fifty. And since rats rarely walk more than a few hundred feet from their birthplace, if I saw one, the other forty or so were probably close by.

The good news from Mem: Rats had a one-year life span, so they didn’t last long.

The bad news from Mem: Rats multiply like rabbits.

And more bad news from Mem: Rats eat mice, so they rarely cohabitate.

Which, for me, meant that the mouse jig was probably up.

As you can imagine (or not), I was obsessed with our uninvited guests. So was Mem, but not in a scared way like me.

Mem would methodically and carefully inspect all of the lower parts of our walls — particularly in the bedrooms, at about one inch from the floor.

According to Mem, rats were wall huggers so they would leave behind dark oil marks from their hair. Rat hair oil.

I was frightened. But nothing compared to Mom. She was horrified and disgusted and regularly cried and cried out in fear.

All Mom would ever say was, “We have to get out of here.” But I don’t remember ever thinking that we had to get out.

Click here for Chapter 4: The Yellow Kitchen Table