Posts Tagged ‘John Kelemen’

Christmas Past meets Christmas Present

In the nearly eight years I lived in the New York City area, I attended maybe a half-dozen Broadway shows, and a handful of Off-Broadway performances. It was a challenging time and my one regret is that I didn’t use the City more: see the plays, visit the museums, take the classes, drink in the culture. I think it’s often the case that we don’t appreciate our particular community’s most delightful offerings until we’ve gone away from them for a while. While Phoenix is no New York City – not even its second cousin three times removed – I do make an effort to “get” more culture now.

Patrick Stewart

By far, the most impressive show I saw in New York was Patrick Stewart’s one-man performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In reading up on Stewart’s rendition of the more than 40 characters that filled the pages of the beloved Christmas classic, I learned that he won an Laurence Olivier Award for his London performances in 1993, the year before I saw him in the Big Apple.*

It’s fairly remarkable the details that stay with you – all those years later. At the time I saw this performance, I was pregnant with the son I would place for adoption with a wonderful family about nine weeks later. Before the show, my son’s birthfather and I went out to dinner at the TGI Fridays across the street from Madison Square Garden, the venue for the performance. A woman was dining near us with her small boy – maybe 3 years old. He was determinedly coloring the Christmas Carol-themed child’s placemat that had been put in front of him when the mother grabbed the crayon from his hand, chastising him, “Jimmy (Stevie, Timmy, Eddy…?), you MUST color inside the lines, like this.” Then she proceeded to color his placemat for him.

My son is now a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston; he will be 20 in February. Which means that little boy from the restaurant is probably 22 or 23 about now. Though I work hard to meet people where they are and acknowledge that we all have our own way of doing things, I cannot help but cringe when I remember him and think of what his growing-up experience must have been like. Chances are it was nothing like my son’s was. Eric has two loving parents, Kathy and Bruce, who championed his every effort. He has a sister who was 10 at the time he was born and is still oh-so-proud of her little brother. He has a large and loving extended family who all get together at every holiday. And I’ve been warmly welcomed into the family, accepted as just another of the many people who love this very special kid.

After Eric’s birth, things with his birthfather toiled on for a few years (to put it kindly), but I finally woke up and realized that enough was enough. I knew the only way to truly end things was to put a whole bunch of miles between us, so I came back home to Phoenix, the city of my childhood. Since my return, both my parents have passed away, I met and married a wonderful man, and I got to see Eric graduate from high school.

This holiday season is a bittersweet one for all of us here in Phoenix, though, as my husband’s father passed away on November 12th after a relatively short bout with prostate cancer. John, my husband, though not a Junior, is John #3 in the family lineage. His grandfather was John Kelemen. His dad was John Kelemen. And he is John Kelemen. And to make things even more interesting, he and his dad had the same birthday, December 13th (12/13/14 this year!) AND both his sister and his stepmom are named Gayle. In order to distinguish between my husband and his father, the family has always referred to my husband as Johnny. In order to distinguish between them with my friends and people who don’t know the family as well, we took to referring to John’s dad as Mr. John.


Mr. John was an amazing man. Charming, funny, kind, a great conversationalist, and the life of the party. He is poinsettiasurvived by his mother, Mary, who is in her 90s and amazing in her own right. Yesterday, I helped her decorate her home for Christmas, jerry-rigging a makeshift stand for her fiberoptic poinsettia tree. Since we don’t have the base, it doesn’t light up anymore, but it’s still pretty in the way that only a fiberoptic poinsettia tree can be.

This year we’re doing the holidays a little differently, with an open house for Christmas Eve. My sister and my niece and her boyfriend will be joining our celebration for the first time. My folks have been gone for a while, but this will be the first Christmas without Mr. John. It makes sense to do things a bit differently, I think. I have this image of John’s dad and my dad, who never met on the Earthly plane, hanging out, drinking coffee, and swapping stories about their kids.

Who knows – maybe the dictatorial mom had a Scrooge experience and was eventually able to teach her son that it’s not only OK to color outside the lines – it’s encouraged. If he didn’t learn it from her, I hope he learned it from someone. I’m just really grateful for all the amazing people and experiences that have graced my life since I left New York.

[Scrooge] had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!

Make it so.


*Source: http://www.sheeplaughs.com/scrooge/stewart.htm


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A few gifts to say “Thanks for reading!”

OK, gifts may be a bit strong. But here are a few miscellaneous things I thought you might find interesting and/or useful, and I truly am grateful to all of my readers, both old and new.


I recently came across a goldmine in the form of this blog post by the folks at Step-by-Step Self Publishing: an index of book review bloggers. The best thing about it? They’re constantly adding new reviewers to the list. They also offer tips about getting your self-published book reviewed (many bloggers won’t accept self-published books for review) and how to approach independent bookstores.


Would you describe yourself as happy? If you’d like to be happier, you’ll want to make a point to see this film. A few amazing things I learned from it: our happiness is mostly genetic. Fifty percent is attributable to genetics; 10 percent is circumstantial (what’s going on in your life at the time); and 40 percent is up to us, meaning we can do things to increase our happiness, like exercise, hobbies, volunteering, etc. Also, there’s a HUGE happiness differential between people in households earning $5,000 a year and those earning $50,000 a year. But there’s virtually no difference at all in levels of happiness between those earning $50,000 a year and those earning $50 MILLION a year. The movie is subtitled in part and is available via Netflix. See it if you have the chance!


For the font junkies in the house, Fonts 101 offers a free font of the day! Sign up to get it emailed directly to your inbox. Granted, I personally don’t have much use for a battleship font and some of the others are best described as odd. But we’ve all got different tastes and needs, and occasionally there’s a gem among their offerings.


I’m giving a presentation today about eBook Basics and was prepping some CDs for giveaway. Included in the mix is an eBook I modeled after a poorly done tri-fold brochure titled “How to Hire an Air Duct Cleaner.” I kid you not! The obviously much-photocopied brochure was referenced in the workbook from a marketing course I took as a great way to self-promote. I was inspired to improve on the idea by creating a 33-page eBook titled, The First-Time Author’s Guide to Hiring the Right Editor for YOU! As many of my readers are authors, I think there’s a lot of useful information in this book, but beyond that, you might also learn something from the concept. If you’ve got a business in which you can demonstrate expertise and you want to set yourself apart from the others, an instructional book like this is a great way to do so. Download your copy here.


A year and a half-ago, I was blessed to marry a wonderful man who embodied a characteristic I’d always desired in a partner: he’s a talented musician. He got laid off from his job as a commercial plumber a few weeks ago, and has been taking the extra time to hone his guitar skills. Here’s a short Bach piece he’s been working on for the past few days. I hope you enjoy it.

Wishing you all the best!



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