May 5

1980. ’80’s Are Just Entering The Scenes Now.

Graduated from St. Patrick's High School in May of 1980.  Didn't know if I was going to graduate because I was at a stage of rebellion at that time and I failed my Religion final exam.  I got a 4 grade on a scale of 1-100.  I was reading Steven King novels at the time, smoking weed, and having fun.

Like, going to the Frat House near Delta Drug and Kentucky Fried Chicken on Smith Street in Providence, RI.  Two floors of nightclub fun and open bar from 7pm until 9pm for a whopping $3.00 cover.

My friends and I were young, and broke.  But, we were tenacious.  We rolled up pennies in wrappers to pay our cover. Got Mom to give us a ride to Delta Drug next door and drop us off.  We paid our way in with penny rolls.  Enjoyed open bar for a couple of hours.  Drank for the rest of the night on my brothers and friends.  Always had a ride home.

The '80's were full of those open bars.  Playden cost $5.00 and had open bar and buffet with hanging meats.  Barry's in Warwick cost $5.00, too.  They had a buffet and top shelf liquors.  Black Russians were the drink of choice for me at that time and I am not sure how I ever got home safe.

But, I always got home safe.  I had those brothers and lots of friends that I speak of.  I was taken care of.

HOWEVER, there were some times after we all got home that I would get these calls.
Michael: "Mary, I am in the Cranston police station and I need you to take Mom's car and come and get me.  They won't let me drive because I am drunk".
Me: No Michael.  I'm drunk, too.  I'll call John.
Michael:  Mary, He's locked up, too.  Ya gotta do this for me.
Me:  Ok.  On my way...

2010: I was still happy then.  Although my brother John and my Dad had already passed, I had time to process those deaths and I had learned to carry on with fond memories and stories of each of them.  And I still had other siblings - my closest in age being Michael and Janie - "We Three Of Family B"... We were tight and we were all still alive.  In 2010, I was also happy with my ex-SO (significant other) and we were building a house after spending over a decade of days and nights living together, working together, loving each other and sharing family with each other.  I began planting perennials by plant and by seed.  Leaving a legacy in my wake...

2013: On this day in 2013, life the way I knew it in 2010 had changed drastically. They say that hindsight has 20/20 vision and in hindsight I see the warning signs that should have made me run away from my Ex to a safer haven.  I never could have guessed what I would have to endure for the next few years, but, I never stopped wanting a better life and on this day in 2013, I secured the kind of job that would allow me to flee if need be.

As I said, on this day in 2013, I never could have imagined what I would have to endure for the next few years.

2014: By this date in 2014, my brother Joe was in his final resting place for five full days already.  My Mom's health had been declining for years and my sister Janie had already begun aggressive treatments to try and eradicate the surprise cervical cancer that had been discovered just about a month before.  On this day in 2014, she had no white blood cells and she was worried that I might've been mad at her because of the painful time we shared while she was transfused.

On this day in 2014, my life was already officially dedicated to doing what I could to keep my sister alive. It was a singular focus and the most important responsibility of my life.  And I failed.

2015:  On this day in 2015, Janie had already been gone for one month and five days.  Her death wasn't an April Fools Day joke.

2016:  The signs come in strong from those that are already gone.  Michael is still alive but we are estranged.  That was meant to be.  I was meant to venture out and try to find a new life without having to deal with seeing him die.  There was only so much I could handle.

2017.  Michael died in January of this year.  I kept my head in a computer coding, kept busy with charity work and began taking bullets from a toxic ex significant other.  In 2019, I became a Hazel Nut.

2019:  We're all still learning how to live and work together. There are a lot of people in and out of this house and things are constantly moved or rearranged. I'm not used to that.

If I'm not left with a nightlight to guide my way to the bathroom at night, I have to light up the stair way. And since Hazel's room has been rearranged, she sees my shadow looming down the stairs each time I need the restroom which causes her to call me by name... sometimes relentlessly - all night long.

The lesson here is to keep the bathroom light on with the door ajar. I won't break any bones and Hazel won't know I'm on the first floor. Kind of simple. TY.

2019: If I listed the kitchen staples that I am out of (important things), you can start calling me the "kitchen magician". How many things can you make when ONLY vegetables are delivered. I got crafty today.

Lentil Veggie soup has cauliflower, onions, yellow peppers, garlic, white and sweet potatoes. I only had dried herbs to use (parsley, basil, onion powder) and no stock or bouillon so I stole seasoning from a package of ramen. A quart in the freezer, a quart in the fridge and she devoured a big bowl so I know it was a good choice.

I had potatoes and about 3 dozen boiled eggs (a donation), but, no mayo. So Potato/Egg/Veggie salad with peppers, cucumbers, red onion and tomato. I had no olive oil or enough dressing so I simmered canola oil with all my dry herbs and added some white wine vinegar. It's all I had. I used equal parts of potato, eggs and veggies. It's healthy for sure and she devoured that, too... although she didn't know what she was eating.

THANKFULLY, I bought scallions and had fresh ginger in the freezer so I was able to make a version of my famous chicken and broccoli. I missed having sesame oil on hand, but, I did what I could. Marinated the chicken with garlic, ginger, hot pepper seeds, a little soy (ran out), cornstarch and scallions. Cooked the chicken, removed. Cooked broccoli stems (fiber) with more garlic, ginger and scallions. Added florets and steamed until bright green. Added chicken back and doused with 1/2 flavor packet of Asian ramen and cornstarch slurry. I had a couple taste testers to let me know how that turned out... I didn't need to test it. And the house smells incredible.

The sweet potatoes will be roasted and a big salad will be made with some chicken strips and eggs for protein.  It's nice to have some peace on weekends to accomplish this kind of healthy cooking. It's only 5:15 pm... I'm not done yet.

2019: Those eggs will be deviled now, Hazel.  And you'll have some asparagus and even corned beef (and hash and eggs, maybe) this week, too.  I've got some mighty fine friends that read my crap and have you in their hearts...

I was able to send some lentil soup and chicken and broc in return.. but, NOTHING... and I will reiterate, NOTHING can compare to the thought that went into this delivery.  Sleep well you pretty in pink Queen of the house.  Me and all my friends are in your corner....

2019: Last night I was typing to myself.  This morning I woke to an email with the subject line, "An Ode to Michael".  He was one of a kind, ya know.  I don't know if anyone will ever really know him as much as I did.  I was a lifelong mission for him.

The Kempo Karate post had me thinking...

"My body and mind is on chill tonight.  That's a nice place to be.  January-April is still a rough time for me.  I was trying to find that post that I read that prompted me to find photos of Michael at George Pasare's studio.  I couldn't find it.

But, the person who posted shared a story about learning from the masters in regard to what to do if being attacked by a dog.  He was told to let the dog grab hold of his left arm, even though it would hurt like hell.  It left his right arm open to drive his fingers into the dogs ear and end it all.

This is true and I was mentored in the same way.  Sounds horrendous - especially as a young girl to hear.  But, Michael came home from his years and years of training and taught me so much... a never ending lesson. I never had to use any of it... but, I always thought myself capable.  I made it a point to keep myself (and family and friends) out of trouble so none of those teachings would come to fruition.

The fellow went on to add that it happened to him and it worked out in his favor in a way.  His left arm took a beating (through a leather jacket), but, he scared off the dog and also got in a couple right shots to the dogs snide owner.

That may sound like abuse in this day and age, but, it wasn't.  It was trained self defense. It's the way real men learn how to protect.  Hands, feet and close combat.

One of the most valuable lessons Michael ever taught me was that not all people out there are like my brothers.  They use guns and knives instead of hands and feet.  He told me to run away from any exchange I might see happening.  That was a very valuable lesson that saved me and my friends while out and about during the nightlife scene.

Sometimes I don't know if the stories that I remember so well should be shared.  Other times I know in my heart that they need to be shared."

2020:  Today marks 9 months smoke free.  I've got some allergies going on but, I think I am Covid free.  I feel like this day in 2019 was a million years ago.  Once again I find myself in a position where I am forced to locate my next place to call "home for now" and begin meeting the people who are destined to be in my next chapter.  This pandemic is making things difficult, but, difficult is something I have become used to.

 

1997. Good Memories Made!

2017: Going through old pictures (cocktails) to find some of the ones when Cianci came and grabbed the mic during our charity events.
I found them.. but, I also found this sweet picture of sister and brother – AND – Godfather and Goddaughter Jane and John Mullen. So much adoration we had. And, they were so proud of us, too.. We were raised by the best… filling all your shoes will not be an easy feat for me.

2018:

A new friend of mine, but, an old friend of Johns asked me for some pictures of him. And here’s a great one because he’s with Janie and Michael is in the background. And I remember the occasion like it was yesterday and it was at the Grille 262 and my Mom and about two or more dozen of my FB friends were in that room of 100. I think one of my friends met a future husband at this event. I think that Janies friend Helene was at this event and it freaks me out that she and I are now friends and she married a man named John Mullen….

Everyone in the world should dedicate some time and plan events for good causes and invite all your friends and take tons of happy pictures. It’s a very fun and feel good thing to do.

January 1

1997. January. Committee For A Cause and Cocktails For A Cause.

Christmas For A Cause was a hit and all the people involved were listed in the Projo that week as I had intended (good marketing) - I had no choice but to follow up with another event.

I needed a committe - businesses that wanted advertising, businesses that wanted cash business, people who wanted to network for good and charities that wanted to play with my friends and leave us with money in their pocket. I was creating a Win/Win.

I marched into Graphic Innovations and said, "Jimmy, I'm having another party and I want to call it "Cocktails For A Cause" and it's gonna be held Parkside Restaurant and it will benefit the Amos House. Can you make an invite and order 3,000 and be sure to include all our business and committee names on the back. I want everyone in the state to know the good work we're doing.

Our efforts snowballed...It took a village.

Christmas for a Cause:
Providence Journal Santa Fund
Children's Holiday Hope Fund

Cocktails For A Cause:
American Cancer Society
AIDS Project RI
Providence Public Library
Amos House
Smith Hill Center
RI Sunrise House
The Music School
Kent House
Travelers Aid Society of RI
Meeting Street Center
Volunteer Center of RI
Prevent Child Abuse RI
Leadership Rhode Island
Multiple Sclerosis Society
Leadership RI Scholarship Fund

A Party with a Purpose:
Brain Injury Association, RI
Tri-Hab Substance Abuse Treatment

Outstanding Woman’s Gala - YWCA of Greater RI
Millions for the Millennium - Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals
Share Your Heart Ball - Friends Way /Volunteer Center of RI Collaborative
Moonlight at the Dunes - Thundermist Health Center
20 Anniversary Gala - Leadership Rhode Island
Great Chefs Taste of RI - RI Red Cross
Small Business Expo - South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce
Swing into Spring - South Kingstown Chamber of Commerce

1992. Me And My K Car…

My sister knew me very well and that's the reason we both laughed so often.  When she replied to my post in 2013 and mentioned tying the bumper (fender) on the car and calling it a day, she was remembering us and our Dad.

Dad passed in October of 1991.  I began driving Dad's fugly (frighteningly ugly 🙂 blue K Car because it was in better condition than the car that I had bought off the lot many years earlier.  My car had been hit and run numerous times while out and about working in the restaurant and nightclub scene.  I remember having a wiring issue that caused me to purposely hit pot holes so the radio would work.  I liked when the radio was working because it helped to drown out the noisy exhaust.  Needless to day, Dad's sturdy as heck K car was a better and safer alternative for me.

Dad's car had its own issues though.  Some of us were birds of a feather when it came to getting full use of anything that was already paid off.  Dad's fender fell off  and I think he might've died before he could fix it properly.  In the interim, he tied it back together and that is the memory that my sister was reliving when commenting on this memory.

I have to admit that the car was one of the most dependable cars I've ever had and because I was driving it, I didn't have to see the tied fender so it didn't cause me any concern.  I remember years later that my Ex told me how intrigued he was that I had no qualms about valeting my tied together K car at Providence's posh Capital Grille restaurant and climbing out dressed to the nine.  Free valet for the cost of a glass of wine was one of my best kept secrets.

1995. How To Introduce Myself And Friends To The World.

Network. That's what I needed to do in 1995. I needed to meet professionals who needed my organizing and coordinating skills. I needed to network and make friends from strangers. I joined charity committees and chambers of commerce and I attended as many business networking events as I could.

It was during participation with all these organizations that I realized that with my decades of experience in the RI hospitality industry, I could plan more cost effective, income producing events on my own.

After being hired by many restaurants and nightclubs to host promptions, I got bit by the charity bug and that changed Odds 'N Ends mission. Odds 'N Ends began "Communicating For A Cause"

1996. Christmas For A Cause.

In 1996, the "For A Cause" trend was launched with Christmas For A Cause to benefit the Providence Journal Santa Fund. The Santa Fund is a great foundation that collects donations to purchase holiday gifts for local children making the holiday much more merry...

The first Christmas For A Cause was a success before it even happened.  Committee members from Odds ‘N Ends Event Management donated card stock and crayons to a local elementary school and the 5th grade class spent days drawing pictures of what the holiday meant to them.  The committee then folded, taped & stamped invites well into the night.  Lots of work, BUT, well worth it when we heard someone say that they received an invite… and CRIED – plus, we saved a whole lot of money, too.

The full event details are too many to read, but, needless to say, with the support of Sh-Booms nightclub (donated use of club, setup, specials), the Warwick Technical School (catered the food, real inexpensive because it was school work), the Providence Journal (signage, flyers, etc), our favorite band TWYCE, and a whole group of dedicated, community minded family members, friends and associates – Christmas for a Cause raised the highest donation of the day and appeared on the front page of the local newspaper

1992. Met A Best Friend.

Mary Mullen - November 2
We predate facebook for sure. What a tag team we were. Good, clean fun and we met thousands of people. She and I met in the early '90's in the ladies room line of the Wine Bar.

Me: I like it here because they have Earth Wind and Fire in the jukebox. But, I like Newport better.
She: I like Newport, too.
Me: But the drive rots. I drink and Newport is kind of far.
She: I don't drink and I just bought a Saab convertible. I'll drive if you want to go.
Me: Oh yeah, that's awesome. Here's my number.

Who would have thought we'd become best friends, roommates, housemates during summers in Newport, fundraising charity promoting party planners - family.

I've been giggling since she left the other night after I told her my "closure" stories... stories that I haven't even written yet. It was like old times when I'd come home from bartending and collecting business cards and she'd come home from bagging and tagging patients and we'd exchange stories and plan shenanigans until the sun came up.

Boy did we have a good time!!

2003. Lighthouse Inn.

Dedicating a couple of years to helping run a 100-room ocean side hotel with two distinct banquet areas, an indoor pool and the largest amount of Block Island Ferry parking spaces was a challenge at times.  I drove down from Providence one day in May and got so busy that I didn't make it home for a month.

I ran the day to day food and beverage operations, I did all the marketing, organized all of the events from conception to reconciliation, and managed the website and all internet related jobs.

Hiring, training, firing at times.  Policing events, policing the pool all while being a happy hostess and a doting wife to my other half.  Sometimes the 24/7-ness of it all could be a bit cumbersome.  But,  it was an experience for sure and I had all my family working with me.  Work hard, play harder.