Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The cast of Elliot Loves (I'm on the right - yippee!) Thursday, August 16th - 5:30pm Today was the day of the NYC premiere screening for Elliot Loves. I was SO excited to finally see this film. I was cast in it last year, and I have been quickly educated in the LONG amount of time it takes for an independent film to come to fruition. I was finally going to see it! I arrived at the NY International Latino Film Festival in Washington Heights - or as we say in Spanish "Gwash-eeng-tong Highz"!!! I didn't know what to expect, and I didn't even know how to dress. When I texted the director, Gary Terracino, I asked how should I dress. He texted back, "Something nice." Wow, lol, no clarification there. So when in doubt, ladies, wear a dress. My best friend, Brenda, came with me...she knows how much this meant to me. And as soon as I parked my car, Terracino grabbed me so I could go on the red carpet and do interviews. Oh. Okay. I didn't know I was doing that. I had a very small part, so I didn't think I would be needed. The first thing the photographers asked me to do was take off my jacket. Huh? Why? I had on a very colorful long summer dress, with a cool necklace, paired with an orange jacket & small gold buttons. I HAD to be the most colorful girl there, lol...everyone else seemed to be in NYC appropriate night evening black. I couldn't, didn't want to remove my jacket. Know why? Shhh...come closer so I can whisper in your ear. Ready? The straps to the dress were too big & kept falling over. There was no time to change dresses or go back home so I kept it real & held them in the back with safety pins! LOL LOL LOL. Two things: #1 I didn't need them to see my cute silver safety pins and #2 no one needed to see my chichos. Chichos = love handles. So I kindly declined & one of the photographers heard me say they didn't need to see my chichos and he laughed out loud. It was a LOT of fun to stand there & here people say, "Judy, this way, please." It was also a lot of fun to be interviewed because you could feel the excitement in the air. One of the interviewers forgot my name, which I LOVED...it was hilarious! And because I've interviewed people on the radio - I know how hard it is to remember so much information so quickly. So I answered her questions and did what I could so she could feel comfortable. I figure if people really liked the interview they'll put two and two together. But by far, the best part was watching Terracino...He is a handsome, intelligent and extremely artistic man. He has all the makings of a fine filmmaker. One who, one day, I hope receives an academy award for best film one day! 7:35pm LATINO TIME -The movie was supposed to begin at 7pm. And I laughed inside because after all it was Dominican Night in NYC, the film was directed by a Dominican Latino, sponsored by HBO & Heineken...I just wasn't surprised they were running late. I discovered during the announcements that Elliot Loves took more than 4 years to come to life. The movie had been financially backed 4 times - and 4 times the businesses had gone out of business. And it was then I learned how DETERMINED Terracino and the producers had to be. I also recalled that while we were filming last year,they were asking for donations, etc...and I donated $1000. I also recalled that I was being paid only $100 for the day I filmed...and I didn't care. I just wanted to be part of it all. I wanted the experience, I loved the script, I loved the people and I wanted to know what being on set felt like. To this day, I have not been paid. No one knows...well, now they do, lol...but I don't want to be paid. Being in the film was a gift to me. To me, they did ME a favor, not vice-versa. So the movie began, and I was immediately drawn in. It was the first time I saw a "gay" movie. In other words, the movie is about a boy named Elliot who happens to be gay. And while I see many reality shows with a gay character, I have never seen a movie where central character is gay - well at least, not since the movie Philadelphia. I remember the director, Terracino, telling the cast how he was "almost done with editing." But watching it all edited was a different story. I found myself relaxed and enthralled in it. I was laughing, I was FEELING, and surprisingly, at the end, I couldn't stop crying...but I'll tell you about that in a minute. I was waiting to see where in the movie I was coming in. I noticed the scene had begun, and I nudged Brenda's knee, like 'This is it!' I was sitting next to Javier Rosa, the film's make-up artist, and his mother...they nudged me too. I was smiling. Oh! Wow! That's ME! HUGE! LOL...that's me on film...holy crap! The scene is a funny one and people were laughing out loud. And it felt damned good! I said one line and people laughed...I was glad. I only had three lines in the film...but who the hell cares!! LOL LOL. Oh, it was such a validation to feel the joy of knowing I can make people laugh & smile! The movie goes back and forth between Elliot as a boy, and Elliot as a young man...and it goes back and forth between Elliot's flawed & dysfunctional relationship with his mother and how it affects his relationships in his search for love. The movie exceeded my expectations. It had REAL heart. It told a REAL story about what we all want: to laugh in life, to be noticed, to be validated, to be accepted and to be LOVED!! When the movie was over, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. I was crying. Brenda was crying. We were all crying...even the Heineken and HBO people were crying. And when I got to my car & began the ride home with Brenda, I was STILL crying. And Brenda so eloquently understood my tears without my saying a word. "Did you see that, my friend? Look, you played Madison Square Garden and now this! Did you ever think you would be in a movie? Chica, you have done AMAZING things in your life!! Don't you feel good?" As I tried to speak through my tears, I replied, "Chica, I can't even speak! I mean, I knew the movie would be good but WOW! And to see my big face on the big screen, hahaha, it was an incredible feeling! And it just makes me want to do more! It's not that I'm not grateful, it just makes me realize that I want to do much, much more with my life! And to see my name on the credits!!!! Oh. My. God. How freaking awesome is that? Not only was my name on the credits, but I saw the credit that gave me the most pride: Judy Torres, Associate Producer!!" Yes, that's right. I am an associate producer among many - but it was because I believed in the project, so I donated some funds - and so did SO many others! LOL. And it was a proud moment for me...not just being in the film but knowing that I invested in a movie that had substance - a film that meant something - that had life lessons intrinsic in its story!! I heard through the grapevine that HBO may be looking at the movie. I also understand that the film is being released in New York City for full viewing in October, AND will be released on Amazon.com as well in October! Elliot Loves represents the pure heart & desire for love, represents commitment & determination when people say no...you say YES! Elliot's motto in the film is "Keep it Cute, Papi!!" I really LOVE Elliot Loves!! And I hope you do too - in your life, keep it cute! Check out the trailer http://vimeo.com/38051803

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Come September, I will be back on the performance train, and I can't wait. In the meantime, I've been considering other things I can do to take my 25 year career and turn it into 50. So, last week, I met with my manager to talk about a strategy. I wanted him to know that in addition to performing all my hits on a regular basis, I also want to branch out into musical theater (which has always been a passion of mine since high school), acting in theater & television and possibly pursuing becoming a talk show host. For some reason, I really believe the talk show host thing could happen. I get a little tingle when I talk about it. I was sure that my manager, Gary, would be against it, and give me the whole stay-where-people-know-you speech. But when I mentioned it to him, he AGREED!! Wow. I couldn't believe it. As he began to tell me what his plan is (which is a pretty good one), he looked up my Facebook, and began to explain to me the importance of having more than 100,000 LIKES on Facebook for the industry & media to pay attention to you. He pointed out to me that I only had 38,505 likes, otherwise known as fans. I told him that every single one of the 38,505 fans is organic, REAL! Yes, my friends, you may not know it, but there are secret ways in the industry to get more likes in a more dishonest way. But I will NOT be a part of it. When I was in 8th grade, a boy I had a crush on, begged me to give him an answer during the test. To win his affections, I gave it to him...and I got caught. It was the first and last time I ever cheated. No sir, I won't do it again. So, I just need to find new & more exciting ways to gain new fans, keep the ones that are already there & get everyone talking...but I will not do something scandalous, lol..although I understand it can be interesting, lol.I like my 38,505 fans...they are real, they are wonderfully devoted & at the end of the day, they've got my back! And trust me, they have defended me & lifted me up when I was down. And at this moment today, I have 39,043 LIKES...and I enjoy it, and I'm proud of it. I was just recently in the Off Broadway show, My Big Gay Italian Wedding. I have been an extra in a movie with Edward James Olmos & Maria Conchita Alanso. I was also cast in a movie last year called Elliot Loves, where I play Aunt Nani, which by the way, has been receiving RAVE reviews in all the film festivals in Miami, San Francisco, Pennsylvania, Italy, and this month, August 17th, debuts in the New York International Latino Festival!! And that's awesome, but it's not enough. So last week, in accordance with my desire to explore the acting bug, I decided to go to H.O.L.A. - the Hispanic Organization for Latin Actors in NYC. I met with AB Lugo, and he went over my resume and concerns with me. Such a sweetheart! He explained what the organization is all about, and it sounded very wonderful and fair to me. As I was thanking him and saying goodbye, he asked me to follow him. "Before you go...come with me." Ok. Mr. Lugo introduces me to Veronica, the director for a new play called Black Latina. Veronica smiles, we shake hands. "Judy, do you have a resume?" "Yes." (Thank God, I brought extras with me that day) "Do you have a headshot?" "Here you go." "Do you have a monologue?" Darn. 2 out of three ain't bad? "No, I'm sorry. I do not." I suddenly realize how unprofessional that sounded. Mental note to self: work on finding a great monologue FAST! "That's ok....would you be available to audition now?" Ding, ding, ding! "Yes, sure!" I fill out some paperwork and I'm handed 2 monologues to read: one entitled Anger and the other, Empowerment. She said to me, "I'll be back to get you in a few minutes." As I read them to myself, I liked them both, but I related to the Anger one better. Now allow me to explain to you that when I originally was introduced to Tirandra, there were only two people in the room. I believed I was going back to that room to those two people as an audience. I was amazed that I didn't feel nervous. I'm ALWAYS nervous when I audition & still when I perform. But it felt right - it felt good. About 15 minutes later, a girl who I didn't see before, came up to me. "They're ready for you now." They? Who's they? As we're walking down the corridor, the young woman smiles and says, "I'm such a fan. I love your music." "Oh, thank you so much." She opens this door. Not the same door I'd exited before. And BAM!!! I felt like the girl from the movie, Flashdance. The room was HUGE! The ceilings were incredibly HIGH, you could hear the echo in my footsteps. As soon as I walked in, there must have been at least EIGHT people sitting in front of a long table, all with pens in their hands and polite smiles. And as soon as I realized this was REAL, my heart began to pump...It pumped so hard, I suddenly wanted to run. And there it is. There's my little friend, nervousness...I can always count on her to be with me when I DON'T WANT HER TO BE!! I asked if I could read from Anger, and I asked how they wanted it read - I could see it read two ways - one very proper and the other like the chicas in my neighborhood (think Rosie Perez - who I ADORE). Crystal, the playwright, explained the level of frustration the character feels...and I take a deep breath and remind myself, "You can do this...you've been in these situations before. You know who you are - you show them now." I began to read. "Why??? Why...." And I was outside my body. To my absolute horror, I saw my hand shaking...shaking like a person having withdrawals from drugs!! What!? My hand NEVER shakes...holy....crap. I'm reading, but even my reading is getting worse. My stomach has so many butterflies, I think the butterflies will actually come out of my mouth. I put the paper down and tell the truth like the bad contestants on American Idol: "I'm sorry...I'm really nervous." Veronica smiles & says, "Ok. Put the paper down and can you give us some improvisation? Just tell us in your own words how you feel about being a Black Latina. (A black latina is a woman who is of hispanic descent but she also has darker skin...many of us, including myself have African and Native Indigineous blood in our heritage...a fact that many won't admit) So I take a deep breath....just tell the truth. "Okay. Well, I find it interesting that people are always telling me how beautiful my skin tone is...how gorgeous of a tan I have. But I know that the media will cast a lighter skinned woman before a darker skinned one...the African American community has the same problem. I remember a few years ago, when the census went around, it asked us what our race was...there was white, black, Native American, etc...but no hispanic. How do I choose black or white, when I am both. Why do I have to CHOOSE to LABEL myself?! Truth is I am half Puerto Rican and half Cuban. My mom who's Puerto Rican, has light skin. My father, who's Cuban, is dark - African American dark...and look. This is how I came out: a perfect marriage of both! And then when I'm in the NY area and people ask me what I am, I say Puerto Rican - because I most likely receive a positive reaction..but when I go to Miami and I'm asked the same question, I need to say Cuban first. Ugh. What does it matter? I thought I was Latina? And what makes me laugh is that I am Puerto Rican and Cuban...while my poor boyfriend, the Quiet One, is Irish and Scottish. What's gonna happen if we decide to have children?? What are they going to check off on the census? Poor things! They laughed. Then I was asked if I can dance. Can I dance? Sure!!! I did the running man, the roger rabbit...I felt at that moment, I just wanted to lift the tension of my bad reading. I walked out of there with sore feet, a massive headache and an almost 2 hour drive home. I told the Quiet One how bad it was but how great it was at the same time. I felt I was back in the game again. The Quiet One comforted me, "Darling, I'm sure you weren't as bad as you say you were! You're Judy, F$%*ng Torres!" LOL. He always makes me feel better. Well, guess what? I got a phone call. I got the part!! What?! Our first production meeting is this Tuesday!! YES!!! Funny, how life works...love it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TESTING 1, 2, 3

Now that I'm almost ready to get back in the swing of things, I felt it is time to begin working on my comeback! Last week I had a meeting with my manager,Gary, at his new office - a much larger space, that has presence. Gary showed me around, and as he closed the door for privacy, he said, "So, how are you mentally?" "Mentally? I'm fine. Better." I was a mental wreck, way back in February, when my doctor discovered that I had a polyp on my vocal chord that had hemorrhaged. After two failed attempts with laser treatments to remove the polyp, I became discouraged. Upon realizing that surgery was inevitable, I became panicked...and lately, well, let's say, financially challenged. But after almost 2 months of speech therapy and lots of vocal rest, I am calm and excited to get back on stage and sing in September. So, I smiled and repeated, "Better." Before we were to get down to the nitty gritty, I had something on my mind that needed to be seriously discussed. I told Gary that from now on, no matter what, I want to have a working monitor on stage for EVERY show...or I will cancel. My manager & I went back and forth as if we were at an auction. "Judy, you did not get a polyp from not having a monitor." "Gary, for 25 years I've been singing at night clubs with no monitors and I cannot hear myself. As a result, I end up singing louder..and that's how I hurt myself in the first place." "Judy, you did not get a polyp because you couldn't hear yourself." "Gary, my speech therapist wants me to be cautious & have either an ear piece or stage monitor from now on....what's wrong with that?" "Judy, I'm afraid you'll lose shows if you make that demand. In the 25 years, how many clubs provide you with sound." "Gary, not too many, but that's not the point." "Yes, it is." "No, it isn't." "Judy, I can take 2 smokers who've smoked for 20 years. One will have cancer and the other is running marathons with no problem. It's a matter of genetics. Your voice is probably more sensitive and prone to this condition. " "So doesn't it make sense that if I know I'm more "sensitive" that I would be smart enough to be more CAREFUL now?" "It doesn't have anything to do with that...it is NOT your fault this happened to you. Mick Jagger had polyps 5 times...it's what happens to singers who sing their hearts out." I admit when he said it wasn't my fault, I almost had tears in my eyes, because the first time I found out about this, I wondered if I had done this to myself....but on with the debate. "Gary, I'm the one up there. Not you. And every single thing I do to make money is with my voice...no voice...no money!" "Judy,", he smirks..."I think this is a bad call." "Gary, can you please be supportive on this. I need you to support me on this...I need you to back me up." "Judy, haven't I backed you up now?...for how long?" "6 years, Gary...and yes, you've backed me up. But I'm the one up there...not you. I'm up there alone. And I get hired by these people to sing my heart out...to entertain...and these people make money off of that. And the audience, my loyal fans, are expecting a great show...do you have any idea how hard it is to sing, and try to express the songs when I cannot hear a damned thing? Everyone tells me to be more like a diva. Everyone tells me that I'm too nice. For 25 years all I've asked for was a quiet room before the show, and a bottle of water. Now, I am going to be a diva and ask for a bottle of water, a quiet room and a freaking monitor on the stage so I can hear what the hell I'm singing!!!!!" Silence. Gary calls in his assistant. "Make sure all the contracts on Judy's show read from now on that a working stage monitor must be made available, or the purchaser will lose their deposit and Judy will walk out. Be sure everyone initials it, and understands no monitor, no show." "Thank you. Gary, thank you." Done. I have to admit, I was exhausted. Debating and/or arguing with a person to me has a fascinating element to it. I read once in a book called The Celestine Prophecy, that people are all energy. And sometimes when we are not feeling good, we need more energy. When people argue there is an exhange for energy...energy = power. And because it takes energy, it can drain you. Have you ever argued with someone so hard, and nothing came out of it, and when they leave the room, you are suddenly wiped out? That's kind of how I felt. But I felt good, because I felt my energy was still with me, I maintained my power, lol. It was tiring but I was smiling internally. I kept thinking, "Oh, so that's what it feels like to stand up for what I want!" It wasn't about winning, it was about fighting for what I need this time around...I worry too much about what people will say, think and yes, at times I've even worried about not complaining for the sake of not losing a show. I have swallowed a lot of crap. I'm not doing it anymore. A singer has the right to hear himself or herself...it's a basic need for a performer. You think Lady Gaga or Beyonce fight to be heard on stage? Nope. Damn, that felt good. I can't wait to get back on that stage WITH A MONITOR in September...Check mic, testing...1, 2, 3...Woohooooooo!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012


May 30, 2012 4:30am. Woke up, got dressed quickly - the Quiet One was driving me to the hospital for vocal chord surgery. Dr. Ivey would remove a polyp from the right side of my vocal chords. This little polyp has created big problems for me, my singing, my livelihood, AND my finances...so it had to go. We were almost at Columbia Presbyterian when I realized...Holy crap, I forgot my insurance card. We were already 20 minutes into the 30 minute drive. I waited for the Quiet One to reprimand me, to say, 'Really, Judy? Come on...' But I really should call the Quite One - the Patient One - the Noble One. His response to me was, "Do you really need to go back?" I nod yes. "Okay, let's go back." He wasn't upset in the least. The Quiet One dropped me off. He couldn't stay because he had just begun his new job and was required to work. I was happy for him with his new job, sad for me because he is my rock for everything. "Goodbye sweetheart, you're going to be fine! Finally you can put this behind you...I love you & I'll see you later." At the hospital, I filled out all the paperwork. I said a huge prayer. No, I prayed probably four times. And I even posted things on facebook via my cell phone just to keep myself occupied. I began to feel slightly nervous. When my name was called, I walked right in. I was given the prestigious hospital gown, and the nurse asked all the necessary questions. And then they put in an IV (intravenous line through the veins). I HATE them, they hurt, period. The anesthesiologist introduced herself to me, and asked if there was anything else she needed to know. "Yes, absolutely...please make sure I don't feel a thing...please bring me back to conscsiousness and know that in the past anesthesia makes me VERY nauseous. Whew. Now I feel it. Yep, there are the butterflies. Now I'm nervous. Dr. Ivey, my surgeon & laryngologist, came over to see how I was feeling. She has been an AMAZING doctor from day one! She not only has given me fantastic treatment, but she's also been honest & is the only doctor I've ever had who gave me her email address and cell number...she's awesome! "Judy, I just want you to know that in order to do the surgery, we will be putting a breathing tube in your throat, so you may be very sore afterward, but you'll be fine." I understood...that idea was a little scary, but the vocal chords move when you breathe, so I would assume they had to paralyze that so they could work. 7:15am "Judy, they're ready for you." The nurse gave me the option of being wheeled in to the operating room, or to walk. I chose to walk. It made me feel healthy; made me feel empowered, made me feel strong & independent. Hey, whatever it took to feel comfortable before the surgery. The room was BRIGHT!...almost as if I was walking into the light. The room was also slightly cold and all the equipment was incredibly high tech. The surgery was set for 7:30am, so I knew it would be any minute now. The anesthesiologist said, "Okay, Judy, I'm going to give you a sedative to relax you...and then shortly after that, I will put in the medicine so you can sleep..." I looked around and saw about 4 people in the room. Dr. Ivey was in her operating apparel, and she asked, "Anything you want to say before we start? Any questions?" I looked at these strangers whom I was trusting with my life...I had this sensation that this problem was finally being corrected & I suddenly felt terrified AND grateful. So I said the two words that mattered the most, "Thank you!" And I noticed Dr. Ivey was holding my hand and smiling. Wow. What doctor does that? Her holding my hand helped so much. So I breathed in deeply and with absolute trust, I closed my eyes.... Time? What time is it? I woke up with an expected sore throat. I was in a recovery room. It was quiet. Anesthesia is incredible!! It rids your body of a sense of time, place & feeling. I don't recall if I woke up on my own, or if someone woke me...but I have a feeling it was the latter. I didn't mind the sore throat at all - I expected that, but it was the nausea. I HATE being nauseous. I'd rather be in pain than be nauseous. A nurse approached me, she took my vitals and asked how I was feeling. Since I was not allowed to speak, thanks to my iPhone, I texted my sentences into the Notes app, and this would be my form of communication for almost a week. When she read my response, she got the doctor who immediately gave me anti-nausea meds. Thank God. I felt tire, but not as bad as I thought I'd feel. Another nurse came over and once she heard someone tell her my name, she immediately recognized me. She didn't tell me, but I could tell by her body language: the eyes suddenly gush open & there's an excitement in their arms, lol. She was as kind as could be. And she read my lips pretty well. She was kind enough to call my friend, Brenda, who was scheduled to pick me up. She wheeled me downstairs and told me it was a pleasure to "talk" to me. And I was in Brenda's car & on my way home. 11:00am... Brenda wanted to walk me upstairs. "No, I'm fine, Chica." (Chica, to me, is what I call my closest friends). I turned the key, and was thankful the bathroom is so close to the entrance. And I ran to the sink & threw up. Darn. I hate hate hate hate hate throwing up! I took off my clothes & changed into my favorite t-shirt & sweats, and took a nap. When I woke up, I heated up soup...and then I learned quickly, that I really couldn't chew a damned thing. Oh, no...I couldn't tell what it was. When I walked over to the bathroom again. In the mirror I made a discovery: I stuck out my tongue and was horrified to see it point to the right!!! It was so swollen & puffy, but it curved so badly to the right. Dr. Ivey didn't mention that!!! So, as I ate the soup, i could chew, but I couldn't swallow...ugh, sucks! And what was even worse than that was the fact that for the next two weeks - everything I ate tasted sour! The first few chews of any food tasted genuine...and just before I would swallow, it would taste SO bitter, so acrid. When I emailed the doctor, she said, sometimes the tongue is compressed so much, the nerves atrophy and lots of things happen - change of taste can be one of the side effects. Well perhaps this side effect will be effective in being some kind of weight loss aid. Now is the hard part - the recovery - the silence for a week - the feeling of isolation from socializing...but it's done. Thank you, God, I'm alive. The polyp was removed - And one week later, this is what I saw: Vocal chords slightly swollen but NO POLYP! First photo is before. You can see the red bump that's made my life miserable. The photo underneath is one week after surgery! Hooray!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I wanted to leave the details of Day 2, May 1st, at the Cayman Islands last, because I do believe it was my FAVORITE day. Although each & every day had something unique & special to talk about, Day 2 was my most memorable.

This is what was listed on our itinerary:
Morning at Leisure
1pm-5pm FatFish Jet Ski Adventure - bring unexpensive sunglasses...wear shorts that can get wet, etc...

The Quiet One & I discussed what we were expecting. We thought it was a long time to jet ski but then again, it would be fun. We were picked up by our tour guide. His name unfortunately escapes me, so for the blog's sake, we shall call him Aqua Man! He stopped to pick up a few other couples who were joining us, and then right in the middle of the gas station was a rooster. I made the Quiet One get out & take a photo...little did I realize they are free to roam on the islands...and for me, it made it kind of cool.

When we arrived to our destinations, we were given snorkel gear. Snorkel gear? Aqua Man explained we were going to jet ski, snorkel & a few other things. Oh, okay. Quiet One & I looked at each other & smiled. Cool. There was a jet ski for each person. Now, I had only jet skied once in my life...and it was in a lake in Florida. No waves. Sweet & calm. I did love it, but my gut told me not to drive it. So I sat behind the Quiet One, trusting him with my life.

"Okay, everybody, we are going to make a right here, and when I give the signal (his arm straight up & down), we're going to open her up!" Open her up?? Open who up? What up? Why? He continued, "Now there are no laws here on speed limit & these babies can go up to 55 mph. From here we're going to Starfish Point, then Stingray City, snorkeling among the coral reefs & lunch..." My ears stopped hearing him after I heard 55 mph. Now I'm all for adventure, but not really when it comes to water, because of the lack of my swimming skills. Mental note; must take swimming lessons real soon. So, there I was, sitting behind the Quiet One & he had the widest smile I've ever seen on him. Apparently, he's an experienced jet skier & while that reassured me, it made me a bit apprehensive because, while the Quiet One is quiet, he LOVES speed! So all of us couples drove around to the right & waited for Aqua Man to arrive and give us the cue. I was calm. Happy. And the Quiet One turned to me & asked, "You ready, baby?" "Yep." Aqua man came around the bend, standing on the jet ski like some daredevil...then he gave the signal. Holy @$#!!!

...And they're off. I was happy, smiling. Everyone once in a while I screamed like a girl & I yelped here & there too. And once the jet ski reaches a certain speed, it begins to jump. Simultaneously, I liked it and I didn't...but I'm on it now, no turning back. Some boat came by...and all I know is SPLAT...I was in the water. It happened all so fast, I don't recall even being in the air. I know I flew, but the time between the jet ski and the water was immediate. I was in the water. Don't know how deep. I just noticed how immediately quiet it is down there. I opened my eyes. Don't know why. And to my left, I saw the color red. it was almost like a smoke of red. I was impressed how clear it was underwater - I had no goggles on. But I could see so clearly. This was the conversation I had with myself:

Self: "Are you alright?"
Me: "Um, what? Am I really in the water?"
Self: "Yes. Now, don't panic. Remember all those tv shows you watched? You already know that panicking will not work. All people who panic, drown or die...so don't panic."
Me: "Okay. I won't panic. I'll wait. Eventually someone will find me...but, Oh, my God, I'm still under water...shouldn't I be up right now?"
Self: "Shhh, relax..."
Me: "Shut up!!! Oh, my God, why aren't I at the top? Where is the top???"

And I slowly felt the sheer panic rise within me...and just before I lost all sense of sensiblities, I got sucked to the top as if God were vacuuming. And then I could have laughed at myself. Duh...I forgot I had a life jacket on. And there I was floating - all alone. I was relexed now...as long as I could breathe, I was okay, even though no one was in sight. And then, like a knight on a white horse, the Quiet one rode the water to me.

"Hon, you ok? All I know is I felt you holding me, and then you weren't. I'm sorry. You ok?"
All I oculd do was nod, before I realized I was just a tad traumatized...feeling helpless was not fun at all. And while some may argue, 'Judy, you had a life jacket - nothing to have worried about...', the truth is I completely forgot about it, so while I was under the water, it was pretty freaking scary. Just me, the water, the silence & God. Didn't here Him but I sure hoped He was with me.

Aqua Man was practically right behind him. Reality hit. And just like that, I felt launched back into my high school days. I became "fat girl" again. I felt out of place, compared to the rest of our group. And the proof was that the other couples wer at least a 1/2 mile away from us. I could tell that the Quiet One wanted to go faster...when I previously told him, if he wanted to go faster, he could. His response to me was 'No, mami, we're together, we stay together.' And instead of being joyful with his response, for the first time I wondered if I held him back...back from having fun, back from going faster. Ugh - I hate when I'm so hard on myself.

Aqua Man asked, "You alright? No worries, it happens all the time. Now you gotta get back on the jet ski." I recalled the time I'd gone to the Bahamas & there was a small crowd that had gathered near the water - they were laughing at a girl, who was jet skiing alone, who'd fallen off & struggled for quite some time to get back on. I recall feeling very sorry for her, and while some laughed, I wondered why no one dove in to help. Well, now I was that girl, except I had help from not one, but two strong men. "Okay, Judy, with one hand you're gonna place it in the middle & push it down. With your weight you're going to bring your knee up onto the platform & then push your other knee." Sounds easy. NOT! First of all, may I just say I carry some cushioning with me, and as a woman I don't have much upper body strength.

I gave it my all. I would not be Fat Girl anymore. First time, nothing...Second time, good effort but no results. Third time, I managed to somehow get my left let up onto the jet ski, fully extended as if I was doing a split. Impressive, yes, but the Quiet One laughed a little and said, "How in the world are you going to get your other leg up?" I laughed too...it was a funny sight. Thank God, I'm not on that reality show yet, you would have all been cracking up. But after the fourth time, I was tired...and don't know how but I suddenly realized both of my knees were bleeding. Was that the "red" I saw in the water?? I didn't want to give up. I was keeping the rest of the group waiting for me. But I was TIRED now. And just as I began to shake my head in defeat, the Quiet One turned backwards on the jet ski, and asserted to me like a drill sergeant: "Judy, look at me. Right here. You WILL do this. You CAN do this, understand?" He held his hands out to me. "Grab my hands." I took hold of his strong hands & began to pull me up - he should have fallen off, but he didn't. And next thing I know Aqua Man had a hand on my butt. Hey, whatever you have to do to get my ass back on this thing, is fine with me. Victory. I'm back on. I was still traumatized, but relieved, but I also felt like, "Mommy? I need my mommy...I just want to go home." But I didn't want to ruin anything, and I told myself to suck it up & be a woman....a braver one, anyway.

We were off again...I decided to stay in the moment & not think about the fear that lingered that I might fall off again. So I looked around. Wow. Nothing but ocean. There was no land to be seen. Don't even know where we were & I wondered how these tour guides know the ocean by heart like that. But it was pretty...and I realized I may never do this again. And I held on to my Quiet One, who checked with me periodically to see if I was alright. We stopped at Starfish Point. The water was shallow *thank you, Lord!). We finally walked in the water, and Aqua Man immediately began to show us gorgeous, huge coral-colored starfish. He explained that they cannot be out of the water, but for a few seconds. He said hold it & put it back in the water so they don't die. We took pictures of them, with them...it was very cool. In the water, starfish feel soft. Out of the water, their outer skin hardens...I was intrigued.

We were back on the jet skis - this time it wasn't difficult to mount them because we were in shallow water. After a few minutes, we stopped in another area. Aqua Man told us to shut off the engines, while he tied each of them together. He pulled out a bag of something - ooh, it was squid. Why does he have squid? "Welcome to Stingray City, everyone!" Hm, initially I thought to myself I had no desire to see stingray. What for? "The rays will come right up to you." And then one, two three rays swooped by my legs. They were so soft, graceful actually. "Do not worry...they are docile & pretty friendly AND they want to be fed. Anyone want to feed them?" Ooh, ooh me - pick me, I thought. I became an instant fan of stingrays. I raised my hand.

"Okay, you're going to make a fist, thumbside up, but keep your thumb inside the rest of your fingers so it is not exposed. Hold the squid gently & they will come get it once they smell it." I was so excited. I LOVE animals...I love feeling a connection with them. I wanted this moment so bad, because I knew that I was blessed to even be in this position. Many people will go their entire lives without a chance like this...and when I'm an old lady, I want lots of cool stories to tell the kiddies, lol. So as grossed out as I was to have to hold a squid, I took it gladly in exchange to feed one. And there it was approaching, quietly, slowly, almost like it was flying. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas. And then it happened.

I had no idea that instead of "biting" they suction their food. It happened so fast it felt like a vacuum. And with my complete surprise, I opened my fist...too early apparently and my right index finger was sucked up with the squid. Now. You tell me. We feed dogs, birds, cats, etc...and they clearly use their mouth & bite onto the food - they don't SUCK it into their mouths. If your finger got sucked into something, isn't it second nature to instantly pull it out?? And that is exactly what I did. I withdrew my finger so quickly, I felt an instant...a sudden...oh, I don't know I never felt it before. All I know is that I looked at my finger as I felt a bit of pain. And it was bleeding. There were 3 distinct slices on my finger & the middle one was a bit deep. When I later googled "stingray teeth", I saw that they are not really teeth but they look like tiny accordian things. Wow...LOL....I can't believe it. Cool!!! Cool!! "Look, sweetheart! Look what the stingray did to me. It bit me." And then I hear Aqua Man add to his speech, "Okay guys, the stingray eat with suction - so if your hand gets sucked into the mouth just wait, don't pull it out." Okay. Now I know. Sure. But I was so excited to have "battle scars" from a stingray, I didn't give a darn. I felt like it was a kiss - a momento...and although the Quiet One laughed at my sillyness & goofy reaction, no one could steal my joy. Oh, I forgot to add that one of the girls in the group, was not very sociable. She was very pretty, perfect body, and she drove the jet ski like she'd been driving it since the day she was born. I wasn't hating, but I did feel like "Is ANYTHING wrong with thic chick?" And then I heard screaming, the type you hear in a horror movie. The girl was FREAKED out by the stingrays...and well, I am sorry, I couldn't help but smile internally - she's not that perfect. Was I a mean girl to think that?

We got back onto the jet skis & Aqua Man took us to another location where we were to snorkel. Wow. What a day! Snorkeling too? I had snorkeled before so I was calm about it. And in an instant, the dark, bulky, black & gray clouds leered over us. It was the only time while on the island I witnessed them. But they were there, stalking our little snorkel adventure. We got our fins and equipment on and Boom! It began to pour! It was an avalanche of rain. The rain was pounding us so hard, it literally hurt. And the waves began to shake & dance in fear...and before I could catch my breath from the sudden change of weather, I had already swallowed water. The waves hit me. "Judy, just put your head in the water, it's calmer there," the Quiet One called out to me. I had no choice. I put my head in the water, and I swore I heard the soundtrack from the Little Mermaid. "Under the Sea...under the Sea..." The sight was impressive! So many beautiful fish...gorgeous hues of yellows, violets, turquoises...and the coral was increidbile. Aqua Man dived deep down & pointed to a small cave...and as we looked closer, we realized it was a Lion Fish...the fish are beautiful...but if you touch the tips of their fins, they are very poisonous...When I finally brought my head back up the storm had passed.

We walked onto Rum Point, where we had lunch. The menus were attached to coconuts & I finally indulged in a MudSlide. I felt I deserved it. We spoke with Aqua Man, who was only 26, but he knew the island better than anyone. After an hour or so, Aqua Man instructed us to get back on the jet skis. I asked him, "So, where to now?" He replied, "We go back to where we started." "How long will that take?" "About 20 minutes." I could have cried, but I put on my warrior of water face & said, "Let's do this." The Quiet One promised me I would be okay....and he actually drove faster this time. I told myself to surrender to it. If I was going to fall off, so be it. And as we jumped through the water, I heard the Quiet One yell, "Yea baby!!!" He was enjoying himself, something I don't always see him do...and I was satisfied. When we returned to the hotel, I was genuinely tired and I was genuinely fulfilled. Now, THAT is what I call an adventure. If I were to recommend anything to you regarding the Cayman Islands, I would definitely tell you to make this part of your activities while you are here. So well worth it. And if I had to go home that day, alhtough only my second day, I would have returned with a satisfied smile on my face!

Day 7, Sunday, May 6th

And speaking of returning home, it was time to go back to reality. We were packed very early the next morning. And we dined for the last time at our little Eats Cafe. The Quiet One & I joked about how much weight we'd probably gained...we felt it was worth it...at least until we once again stepped onto a scale. We were picked up by our driver, Carole, who I tipped & thanked & hugged. She told us if we ever returned to look her up...and I will! At the airport, I HAD to buy some sort of jewelry to mark this trip. Each time I take a trip, I always buy myself something unique to remember it by. I found a silver necklace, with a stingray charm made of a stone only found in the Dominican Republic...Oh, yes, and I stopped by the Tortuga store to purchase rum cakes for all my friends & family.

We landed at JFK just 3 hours later. We went through customs, picked up the car & drove back home. Although I was sad to leave, I was glad to be home too. As I unpacked I heard something fall...it made a clanking sound...and it slipped under my bed. When I picked it up there it was. As silver & pretty as could be - it was that silver spoon I wanted to take home, but was refused by the waitress at Eats Cafe. Ha, ha, ha, ha!! Where did this come from? I looked at the Quiet One. He had a smug-I-have-no-idea look on his face. I know he did it. And while I don't condone stealing - I thought it was romantic that my boyfriend found a way to make sure I had my silly spoon. And no every morning when I have my cafe con leche, I use that spoon & every morning I am reminded of the perfect trip I took...the spring of 2012 at the Cayman Islands....ah, yes, life is good!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I want to tell you about Tuesday, Day 2, but as they say, leave the best for last...so I'll tell you later. Day 3, Wednesday, May 2nd: It proved to be a great time. We were picked up by our tour guide & went on the Cayman Safari. It was cool to be driven around the entire island in a Jeep! Our first stop was the Botanic Park, where we walked the gardens. There I saw the most BEAUTIFUL Birds of Paradise - they were HUGE & so incredibly vivid in colors I didn't even think existed! Our tour guide, Shirley, had phenomenal knowledge of all the plant life, flowers & living animals...and then we enountered the Blue Iguana - indigineous to the Cayman Islands & also an endangered animal. Then it was on to lunch, where a Caymanian 70 year old woman cooked a homemade lunch for us. I lounged on a hammock & tasted a pepper so spicy that everyone laughed at my reaction...truth be told, I could taste the heat from that pepper for almost an hour!! In the evening, we dined at Calypso Grill, where the Quiet One & I had a sweet & romantic time. And for my entree, I ordered Shrimp and Lobster Champagne - Oh, yeah baby!! It tasted even better than it sounds! Actually, I cleaned the entire plate...nope, I am not ashamed!! And for dessert? Aha! Yes, I had Sticky Toffee pudding AGAIN! Dinner was soo good, we wobbled out of there - with no regrets! Day 4, Thursday, May 3rd: First thing in the morning, we prepared for the airport, where a flight had been booked for us to go to Little Cayman, famous for its deep-sea diving & remote beaches. It was about a 40 minute flight in one of those small planes with little propellers on the sides...a bit intimidating for me, but a gorgeous panoramic view! When we landed we were driven to the Southern Cross Club. It is a resort consisting of only 12 ocean view bungalows, including private outdoor showers!! LOL..I'd never seen that before, but it was cool to imagine showering & looking at the beach at the same time. We were introduced to Mike, who gave us snorkeling equipment - who also casually mentioned that we may encounter sharks while we were out there. Que que?? Huh? Our itinerary had read that we were going snorkeling "unaccompanied." Hm, don't know what that means. Well, it means EXACTLY what it said, lol. We were driven to a separate remote beach...and dropped off, being told "...be back to pick you up by noon!" Immediately we could tell this beach was so different - it was SO not commercialized - it felt like a "wild" beach. It was a HOT day for sure. As we walked into the water and looked around, we realized it. We. Were. Alone. No one in sight, except for a diving boat that had just begun to set sail again. When in life can you say you could be alone on a beach with the one you love??? Probably - never. The Quiet One & I decided to begin snorkeling. We were told that about 100-200 yards out there was a buoy & once we reached that mark, there would be a huge drop & from there we would witness the BEST coral reefs & marine life. We couldn't wait. There was so much Coral around...just beautiful. The Quiet One pointed here & there to show me fish and he even picked up a couple of conchs (the BIG sea-shells with the snaily things inside). We got about half way & I noticed the current was a bit stronger compared to Grand Cayman...and I'm not the best swimmer...and I only had a floatee. I know how to doggie-paddle, float & otherwise keep myself straight up in the water...but swim to save my life? Nah. So may fish, coral...colors..it truly was the best I'd ever seen & I've snorkeled a lot. And then...The Quiet One was poking my arm with enthusiasm. What? What? And then I saw it...a barracuda! I remember our tour guide had told us that if she had a choice to swim with a shark or barracuda, she would pick the shark every time. How did we sense this was a differnt type of fish? Every single fish we saw didn't care that we were there. They just swam about their business being fish. But the barracuda saw us...and never took its eyes off of us. In fact, it got a little closer..and is it got closer so did its teeth...ugly fish, that barracuda. Well, that was all I needed. To me I took it as a sign. And although he didn't say it, I believe the Quiet One felt that way too. I'm all for adventure, but I want to be safe. There was no one around & if anything had happened to him, who, how, where do I go to get help?? So the Quiet One & I sat on the beach & made out, er um, I mean, kissed like bandits..and we also forgot to reapply our sunblock. When we returned to Southern Cross Club, we toured the Honeymoon Bungalow (hint hint, lol), swam in the pool, went kyaking & ended the day on hammocks...and then we realized we were sunburnt. In the evening, it was off to dinner at Blue Cilantro. Talk about fancy. For the record, I call fancy things "shi (shee) Shi - Foo Foo. Thank God, we dressed up...it actually felt sensual to be in a dress & heels! This place was seriously shi-shi foo-foo. GORGEOUS! The ambience was inviting, hues & hints of blue all around. (Truth be told, I wanted to steal the plates, lol.) The menu was so exotic - I KNOW we had question marks on our faces..but fake it 'til you make it, right? The manager welcomed us. And the fine dining began...we were served something on these large, white ceramic spoons...on it were these orange circle thingies. The Quiet One looked at me like the kid in the old Life commercial "I'm not gonna try it...you try it. Hey, let Mikey try..." So, I felt it was impolite not to at least taste it. I lifted it & counted to three. The second it hit my upper palate (roof of my mouth), it burst. LOL..It was a surprise..and it was good. The Quiet One followed suit & he had the same expression I did. We laughed & I have to say the food was EXCELLENT! Before we left, we were greeted by Chef Shetty, who's been a chef for 28 years & has worked at the most prestigious restaurants, including the ones in NYC! He was a wonderful & delightful man, whose passion is obviously cooking. The night was so perfect, we walked back to our hotel. It was then I asked the Quiet One: "Hey, babe...aren't you tired?" I slept GREAT every single night at the Westin. Day 5, Friday, May 4th: The Quiet One & I had breakfast at our favorite little spot we discovered called "Eats Cafe." It had a 50's diner feel to it, and each morning the food was so tasty! There was a spoon there...silly, I know, but I was in love with this spoon. I didn't want to steal, so I asked the waitress if I could have it as a momento. The Quiet One told me not to ask: "She's gonna say no, Judy. How much you wanna bet?" I told him, "If I ask, she'll say yes...at least I'm being honest." The waitress' answer? No, I am sorry. AWWW I HATE losing bets! Darn. I love that spoon - it had a cute little design on it, and ironically at home I have a tablespoon with the same design. I just wanted to have the teaspoon. Okay, that's trivial stuff... We went to the Turtle Farm where we learned all about turtles: we learned how they mate, how they lay eggs. We learned that the sex of the turtle is determined by the temperature of the room, not genetics. If it's hot, it's a girl...if it's cold, it's a male...go figure! I held a turtle for the first time...and even met the oldest, meanest turtle there named Lucifer. Need I say more? There was an alligator there appropriately named Smiley. It is a wonderful place & you can even snorkel with turtles there too. They had an aviary, where I saw parrots, and I even held one that pooped the second it got on my hand. Good luck, yes? I saw ibis & more. We ate lunch at the Cracked Conch & drank the best frozen drinks! And then it was off to the Glass Bottom Boat Tour - it's perfect for anyone who wants to see the fish & coral in the water but doesn't want to actually go in the water. Our tour guide was funny, entertaining & he had an Australian accent. I admit - when we returned, I was truly wiped out. I met Ruth Myles of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, and discovered she was a fan. She truly spoiled us & gave us a wonderful gift....Little does she know she gave me a gift of memories that will last me a lifetime. I couldn't help but cry as I was overhwlemed with gratitude, when I thanked her. Before retiring to bed, The Quiet One & I walked around the hotel and discovered a couple having their wedding rehearsal dinner right on the beach! They were even having a bon fire...very sweet & fun. We watched from afar, but it made me wonder if we'll get married. When we got back to the room, we went onto the balcony - it was a full moon & I couldn't help but feel, I was there with the right man. The Quiet One has been a blessing to me: wise, romantic, affectionate, considerate, non-dramatic, loving & faithful. Day 6, Saturday, May 5th: Most of our day was free...so we went onto the beach one more time & saw schools of fish, and families; parents teaching their children how to swim...it was all so sweet. Made me wonder if I've missed out on the "having children" thing...I guess I may never know. What is meant to be, shall be, I guess. The afternoon we went to the Cayman Carnival - Batabano!! It is their annual parade that includes stilt walkers, limbo dancers, masqueraders, floats, costumes. What I loved most was the music. The Caribbean, Cayman music was so lively, so festive, so...sooo...happy!! I loved every second of it! There were soca bands, singers...and lots & lots of food! You can drink coconut milk right out of the coconut, plantains, rice & beans...and even for the exotic & adventurous - a Cayman specialty - turtle! How could I eat turtle when I held one just the day before. I will never know what it tastes like...but I understand it's pretty good. Whew, I need a vacation from the vacation! www.caymanislands.ky

Monday, June 11, 2012


There's been so much going on in my life, I never got the chance to tell you about our trip to Cayman Islands...Here's a little run down! So, we're back from the GLORIOUS Cayman Islands!! The BEST trip of my life - and I've had some pretty good ones! I've got a deep tan that the cast of Jersey Shore would be absolutely jealous of!! I've got memories to last me a lifetime, I met the kindest people, saw the sweetesst sunsets, the most flavorful cuisine & I really felt like I experienced a true adventure! Now, I've been to the Bahamas before, about 4 times, and I did truly enjoy it. But after being at the Cayman Islands - with the clearest, calmest, bluest waters yoyu will ever see - I can honestly say that I willl definitely be coming back!! Let me give you a rundown if I can... Monday, April 30th: Woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3:30am! The Quiet One and I drove to JFK where we checked in with Cayman Airways. Check in was swift. I felt like I could press the Staples button that says, "that was easy." Checked our bags in, made our way to the gate and boarded the plane. We were excited like children the morning of Christmas. It was only the second time that the Quiet One had been on a plane, so needless to say, hew was experirencing some mild anxiety. But we were up in the air, and I was served a meal & tried rum punch for the first time. Oh, yea, baby...now we're rolling! We landed just 3 hours later, non-stop, and were immediately picked up by Carole, our driver, who took us to the Westin Casaurina Resort. Instantly I realized we really were out of the country. It was 87 degrees! Thank you! I was feeling a little dyslexic: The steering wheels were on the right, and all the cars were driving on the left of the roads. Their yield signs read "Give Way"...We arrived at the hotel and just took it all in. It was so beautiful - the palm trees, the colors, the blue water...it really was paradise, just like you see on tv. When we reached our room, we were given a welcome package along with our itinerary. I felt like a true star! I read it and showed the Quiet One and we instantly realized how MUCH there is to do here! 5:45pm: We boarded the Spirit of Calypso! It was my first time on a catamaran. It was a Sunset Sail. We sailed the ocean with other couples. There was music, cool breeze, and the open Caribbean Sea. I spoke with a couple who had been to Cayman Islands 13 times! Yep, it's that good! The Quiet One & I sat together holding hands. And he looked at me and said, "We're here, sweetheart! Welcome to the Cayman Islands!" The Captain dropped us off on another part of the island where we did some fine dining at Hemingway's. And there it was the first time I tried conch fritters and for dessert, sticky toffee pudding! Oh! Oh! Yes! Yes! I found a new dessert that I fell in love with! It was so good, I moaned with every bite, lol...it's silly, but true! I didn't think mosquitoes lived in Cayman Island, but I was awarded 18 bites to be reminded. (yes, the mosquitoes have ALWAYS loved my blood) So if you do go there, please remember your repellent. Apparently mosquitoes aren't around all year round - only when I was there, lol. We were off to bed early - we were a bit tired and had a BIG day for Tuesday! Goodnight, Buenas noches, bon nuit, buona note!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


About two months ago, I received an email from KTU asking me if I'd be interested in going to the Cayman Islands, courtesy of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism...YES! YES! YES!! It's close to the fatherland (my father is Cuban) and I had been there many years ago, but I didn't get to really experience the island because I was only there for a couple of hours (I was on a cruise.) I wanted to go back so badly because I had seen how beautiful the water was...so crystal clear you can see all the way to the bottom of the ocean!! I had one problem...with all the issues with my voice, and all the shows I had to cancel, I didn't feel I could AFFORD the trip. Yes, lots of things are covered in these matters, but you still need to eat, you still want to shop, you need transportation to get around, etc. But thanks to my boss at KTU, Cayman Department of Tourism and God's good grace, arrangements have been made, and here I am...in less than 24 hours, I will be at the Westin Casaurina Resort & Spa at Grand Cayman!!!! (Photo on top) OH, how I can't wait to feel the 86 degree weather...oh, yes, and did I mention, they are letting me bring the Quiet One with me!!! While I'm there, we'll be doing SO many fun things: snorkeling, jet skiing, going on Sunset Sails, Turtle Farm, Cayman Safari...it's going to be AWESOME! Thanks to technology, I will be able to post pictures, add video to facebook, twitter & I'll even be able to call KTU to report about it all during the entire week!!! I feel like a reporter...Yes! With all the stress I've been through, and the worries about my voice, it's just nice to get a break! The Quiet One and I have been running around all week, buying all the little things that come up when you're about to go on vacation...sandals, bathing suits (thankfully the one I used last year is too big on me, lol) and tiny 3oz toiletries lol. There are plans to be made...who will water the plants, cars need to be protected (yes, even in my neighborhood), mail has to be handled...but I have WONDERFUL friends who are plant-sitting, house-sitting, car-sitting and making sure we have a home to come home to, lol. So...please pray for us to have traveling mercies on the plane. (It's a reality we all need to worry about nowadays). Oh, forgot to mentnion we get a hot meal & rum punch on the plane for free!! (Thanks Cayman Airways) things...that is the reality of the world we live in. BUT....I'M GOING TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS!! And we are going to the Cayman Carnival Batabano...it is their annual parade, festival, dancing...thousands of people!! I'm very happy...and I'm glad I can tell you all about it!! For more info on how you can go to Cayman Islands: www.caymanislands.ky

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I have been driving myself crazy in silence since February 2nd of this year. It is the silence that has been torturous! It has been a spiritual silence & a forced physical one...and now I need to release the truth, however scary or painful it may be. This shocking & life-altering event has made me ask myself the question I had always hoped I would never have to ask: "If I am not my voice, who am I? If I am not my voice, how can I function? If I am not my voice, will they still care...love me." It began on New Year's Eve, I believe. Just noticed that during my last song on stage, my voice gave out. It did not cause any alarm because when you have a demanding vocal schedule as I've had, from time to time, your voice will betray you. But it was how the new year of 2012 began. In January, I had the month off...a very much needed month off. But whenever I was on the air, it seemed I had laryngitis. Laryngitis is cute when it lasts a day or two. You get all sorts of compliments on how "sexy" your voice is sounding. But it lasted almost three weeks. In the past - 3 times to be exact - I have had nodules on my vocal chords. Nodules are like small calluses on your vocal chords, they are commonly found on those who use their voice more than normally: singers, teachers, lawyers, speakers etc. I really believed that's what was going on - and I had overcome them in the past & with lots of therapy & vocal rest, I've gotten rid of them. But just to be safe, I decided to check it out. This has been the turn of events: FEBRUARY 2nd - Visit to my friend, Gateano Fava, who is also a speecho pathologist. He performed a stroboscopic exam. In English, he put a tube down my nose into my throat that contains a camera...they are able to see your vocal chords best that way. Diagnosis: Vocal polyp on right side. Referred to a laryngologist for futher evaluation and confirmation. Okay, I'm slightly nervous, but open-minded that this is not a big problem. FEBRUARY 3RD - The Quiet One came with me (yes, we're still together & he's still GREAT) Emergency appointment with laryngolgoist, Dr. Ivey, Director of Laryngology at Columbia University Medical Center. Had to be numbed & stroboscope down my nose again. She had me sing on the vowel 'Eee' while it was down my throat...quite hard not to gag. Diagnosis: Vocal polyp on right side with hemorrhage...NO! A polyp is a growth...it can sometimes be cancerous, but in vocal chords, usually benign. Wow, how ironic...exactly what happend to singer, Adele! Dr. Ivey tells me I need to be on vocal rest NOW...meaning no speaking - for a week! No radio work this weekend. NO singing. But I have a show on February 11th?! PANIC - the worst I've ever felt - sets in. She puts me on oral steroids & gives me a list of do's and don'ts for the voice. Don't yell, don't cough, don't whisper, don't talk on the phone, don't sing, don't laugh, don't cry. She tells me she will get me well enough to sing on the 11th, but we have to get the blood vessels to heal quickly. Stunned, I go home and immediately email my manager to inform him of the turn of events. I have the Quiet One talk to people on my behalf...and I feel as if I'm out of body, numb. FEBRUARY 9TH - Hadn't spoken in 6 days. Dr. Ivey takes more video footage of my vocal chords. A little bruising still there, but major swelling has gone down. Polyp is still there. She clears me to perform & tells me not to do anything too demanding, so I remove a song from my repertoire. The doctor also tells me that as soon as I sing, I must go quiet again. No talking to anyone. All I can think of is 'Does she understand that right after the show on the 11th in Chicago, the people EXPECT me to stay & take pics?" I get a few emails from management asking if I can take shows for March. I have no idea how to answer. I have become increasingly impressed with the Quiet One's unfound talent of reading my lips. All I can say is thank God for email, texts and an application on my phone that can say for me whatever I type. I feel horrible, but relieved that I have the green light to sing on the 11th. FEBRUARY 11tTH - The show is in Chicago. The hardest time I've ever had not speaking. You will never notice how much you take speaking for granted until you can't speak. Something as simple as ordering food at a restaurant becomes a chore. My road manager just looks at me...and says, "You sure you can do this today?" No. No. I am not sure. I have no idea what to do. I cannot cancel this show, it's Studio 63 in Chicago - an amazing place that has booked me for MANY years... but I wish I could. Many people are counting on me to sing. I spend the day in my hotel room. I try to nap, but I can't. I drink so much tea that my pee is clear. And then I turn on the tv to discover that Whitney Houston has died. And I can't even cry about that! How does Whitney die? I used her songs to audition back in '85 & '86...Saving All My Love - it's one of the songs that got me discovered. I'm devastated. Can't move. Freaking tragedy, a great loss. Time to get ready. I get to the club, and the owner wants to know why I'm so serious. My road manager simply says I have laryngitits and I'm saving my voice. I walk onto the stage. Holy...it's packed! More people than I've ever seen. I do my best to stop obsessing about how I'm going to sound. My best friend, David M who resides in NY, surprised me by showing up at my show. Some of the fear ebbed - but not enough to take away the urge to cry. I get on stage. God is always with me, I swear, because I was able to do it. I sang the songs, and I was able to hold what I call the money-making notes! Whew. Relief. I'm quiet but I take pics & sign autographs. Thank you, Lord!! FEBRUARY 12TH - I am at the edge of my seat watching Adele. I know that we both had polyps on the vocal chords that hemmoraghed. I know she had to cancel her American tour. I know she was not able to speak for 3 weeks,and no shows for MONTHS! And now, her first time singing in public since her surgery, she's singing on the Grammy's. Talk about pressure. I know I wasn't supposed to cry but I was truly elated for her! She was amazing!! It was as if nothing was ever wrong to begin with! FEBRUARY 16TH - The first of two laser procedures is performed. PDL laser treatment...this procedure was to attempt to close off the blood vessels that had ruptured. There's some throat pain, but nothing I cannot handle. No speaking again for at least 48 hours. Then begin intensive speech therapy immediately thereafter. I was awake for the whole thing. The numbing that has to be done to my nose & throat was the worst part of it honestly. Just not fun. But it wasn't as bad as I had imagined. And I confess, I smelled a strange odor...oh, that's the smell of burning flesh. Yuck. MARCH 12TH - Second laser procedure is done. Same smell. But I am VERY excited because this procedure is going to shrink the polyp or irradicate it altogether. I go home with orders not to speak for 48 hours & return to speech therapy. MARCH 16TH - Speech therapist wants to look at my vocal chords again to see how far we can go with exercises. My nose is numbed again. UGH! I HATE it! And then he and his assistant go quiet. What? What? What is it? He excuses himself. About 10 minutes later he tells me - you have a lot of bleeding on your vocal chords & the right one is stiff...you CANNOT do your radio show this Sunday. For the SECOND time I have to call my boss at KTU and tell him I cannot come in. First time, he was concerned & completely supportive. Second time, he was surprised, concerned & supportive, but I became scared if this keeps up - could I lose my job? MARCH 17TH - Show at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. Doctor has cleared me to sing...but I can only sing two songs: No Reason to Cry & Love You Will You Love Me. I get onstage...freaking scared - almost scared stiff. The crowd was so excited that I felt guilty. How can I perform for these people that are expecting perfection? The entire time I sang No Reason to Cry, I couldn't stop obsessing about how I sounded. Am I ok? Is my voice loud enough? What am I going to do when the high notes come? My first attempt...voice cracked. Oh, my God! After the song, I just decided to be honest. I told the crowd about the surgery...and they were so understanding...and I was able to finish the show with a LOT more confidence. So relieved I was able to get that done! PRESENT DAY - After several meetings with the doctor, the speech therapist and a second opinion, surgery is necessary. The polyp is keeping me from singing higher notes that are normally simple for me. The polyp is also allowing air to escape while I sing when it is not supposed to. The polyp can also hemmorhage again and/or become bigger - rendering singing extremely difficult to impossible. I have no choice. Surgery will be taking place on May 30th. No speaking at all for one week. And...NO SINGING for 3 months!! I had to go home, had to break the news to my management, my family, and KTU. To make matters worse, I had to cancel MANY shows. Lots of people begged me not to cancel - many told me to drink tea and it will be alright - they don't understand how serious this is. So I had a show on New Year's Eve, February 11th and I have one more to do on May 23rd before the surgery. This has been exhausting - especially mentally and financially. I finally finally finally broke down. I think I cried for two hours or so. And then I called my mom. I am still that little girl that when she has a boo-boo needs to call my mommy. I am hopeful. I was told by THREE doctors that once I do this, and follow all the orders, I will be "pleasantly surprised" with my voice, and I will be singing better than ever. That's wonderful. But I am also afraid. No singing for three months. Singing is my spiritual breathing for me. What if something God forbid, went wrong? What if I could never sing again? What am I going to do? I don't have a Plan B! Singing has been my one and only vision. But I must do what I must do...either way, if I don't do this at all, I will eventually not sing. But I worry if promoters and booking agents are going to forget about me, or be angry, or think 'She's done.' I worry. If I don't have a voice to sing...who am I if I am not my voice. I have done a LOT of thinking...this polyp is a result of singing in some clubs with horrific sound systems and improperly unfunctioning microphones for the last 25 years...and because there were MANY times I was supposed to turn things down, where I took too much on my plate...and pushed myself. Because I didn't say no when I was supposed to, now I have to say no for three whole months! For one week beginning this Monday, I will be able to put all these worries on hold. KTU is sending me & the Quiet One to the Cayman Islands - it is a job to discover what Cayman Islands are all about & report back to the listeners & record commercials. This "vacation" is a blessing. I apologize. This is the LONGEST blog I have ever written. But I have decided to tell you the TRUTH about what is happening to me. I hope that it will teach others that we are all challenged in life...and that we MUST put ourselves first. We are useless to others if we are not healthy. So please pray for me, and if people ask 'Where has Judy been?' please tell them this story & ask for their prayers too. Believe it or not, this has been harder for me than when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This will be a LONG journey to healing...but I am taking that first step. Looks like I have become the Quiet One...as least for a little while.
Here is a mirrored photo of the polyp. The red bump on left is the polyp that is on my right vocal chord...it's gross, I know, but for educational purposes, I wanted to share.

Friday, March 23, 2012


The other day, I received an email from one of my agents informing me that I would be receiving a call from a producer from a VERY popular network (which shall go unnamed until I know it's happening). Why? That's when he told me that these producers have been in communication with him for some time now about putting a reality show depicting the lives of freestyle artists, both professionally & personally, and the relationships with their agents.

Deep down, I had always hoped we, the freestyle artists, could somehow document our stories because I believe you would be shocked & disturbed by what you would see. When we think of recording artists, there are immediate images in our minds: limousines, stylists, the best clothes, jewelry, gowns, concerts, getting the "star" treatment, jet-setting to different countries and finally, money. But those are the MAJOR LABEL RECORDING ARTISTS who are selling so many recordings that they go platinum. Those are the Beyonces, Lady Gagas, Rihannas, Pitbulls & Ushers of the industry. And those artists work VERY hard for their successes...so I am not putting them down. But what about other artists who are simply trying to stay in the light, simply trying to stay in the public eye? That's who I believe, sometimes we are. When I go to schools to speak to kids about making their dreams come true, I almost always get the same questions first, before getting questions that MEAN something: "Do you have a mansion? What kind of car do you drive? Do you have a pool?" Sometimes I just laugh inside, because isn't that what this society teachers us to aspire to? But sometimes, the questions sting a little. They get under my skin because my answer is 'no.' I do not have a mansion, nor do I have a pool - I can't even stretch out my legs in my own bathtub!! I have a car, (which I love) but it's not the Bentley they hope I own.

Truth is that many of us had our shining moments - at some point we were on the verge of going Pop/Top 40. Many of us like George Lamond, Sa-Fire, Lissette Melendez & especially Lisa-Lisa, did make the big leagues but it was short-lived - because of the birth of hip-hop & other "political" issues out of our control. And to this day whenever I see those artists & TKA/K7, I feel like they have been overlooked, shortchanged and denied the recognition that they should truly get & should have gotten. And so, when you go to one of our freestyle concerts, you would think there would be a lot of glamour....sometimes there is, in truth, we do see that from time to time. But what you don't see is the drama. You don't see the arguements that sometimes ensue because a promoter decides to pay us less, or not at all. You don't see the crazy chaos that sometimes occurs backstage just before you go on, or how sick one may feel at a show. You see the facade - the glamorous part - you see the finished product.

I'm not complaining by any means. I have been ABSOLUTELY BLESSED to say I have made my dream to be a singer come true - and it has lasted a quarter of a century, 25 great years. I simply think that we too, like many others, have a great story to tell.

So I spoke to the producers & had a conference call...I discovered that they are interviewing 7 freestyle artists but are only picking 5. (Shhh - it's a secret). I was asked interesting questions like: is there anyone you don't get along with? What kind of problems occur? I am not sure they were interested until I told them something that NO ONE knows about. Truth is that since February, I have been living in a bit of a silent hell - I have not been able to speak about it...I promise you that I will, but only when I know I can. But when I told them, they became very intrigued and asked me to send them some video. So, right from my iphone, I sent them a self-recorded video. They said they loved me on camera & in a few weeks, they'll be in town to finish a pilot...If the pilot is approved, we will have a reality show...and we will finally be able to show you all we do in the name of music, in the name of love for our fans, and in the name of integrity!

They explained to me that people will be in my house recording my every move...hm, then I felt sudden hesitance. Really? I mean I am no Kardashian, know what I mean? I am not in perfect clothing with a great face made up. I'm not living in some fancy penthouse...lol. And I've seen the results that reality shows have on some people. For some it's brought them fame & notoriety - and for others, it's ruined their lives. But when I think about it, it could be a great thing - to show the truth, and to teach the masses more about freestyle music - which, unless you are from NY or urban cities such as Chicago or Miami, many do not even know about the freestyle movement! So, I have prayed about it, and I know that if God thinks it's a great thing for me to do, it will happen and it will be successful. Only time will tell...hmmmm!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


So it was December, 2011 - just one week shy of Christmas. Things with the Quiet One were going splendidly well...and then, well, something happened to him...something that had already happened to so many of my friends and what has happend to SO many others. He told me he was laid off. The unemployment club had now included my own boyfriend. I felt devastated FOR him. The Quiet One is a very skilled man, member of a union with years of experience in his craft. When he told me about it, I did what any woman would do: I stood by my man. The Quiet One had done so much for me already - it surely is NO ONE's fault when they are unexpectedly laid off due to budget issues. I knew it would be hard, but it would be harder because it was SO close to the holidays. I was suddenly flown back to December,1999.

From 1999 - 2001, I was a member of the KTU Morning Show. My role on the show was not the major role I had hoped for. Nor did I ever honestly get used to waking up at 4am. But nonetheless, I LOVED being there every morning & I was proud to be there. I was especially proud to be on the air on that tragic day of 9/11. I was humbled & extremely moved by how humanity & love survived...and I was honored to call in & report to KTU while on site at Ground Zero. So it was December 22nd, I believe. We were on the air for four hours, and had just signed off. We, the members of the morning show, made a big deal out of the fact we were going on vacation. "Have a GREAT Christmas everyone! We'll see you next year." We had all hugged one another. We all had smiles on our faces. It would be an entire week of vacation - and we needed it. But we had no idea it would be our last broadcast.

We were literally walking out the door, when our program director (at that time), said, "Hold on...before you go, I need to see you guys." At times I tend to be quite gullible, optimistic & naive...this was one of those times. I thought he was calling us in one by one to give us a Christmas bonus -so there I sat, waiting with a stupid smile on my face - while the others stared at the wall with dread. Out of 6 of us, only 2 would remain. I was shaking when I left the office. I was grateful that I would still have a job at KTU hosting my Freestyle Free For All on Sundays - but I was SO devastated to know that it would be my last day on the morning show. And right before Christmas!!! Suddenly I panicked. I called my mother, hysterical. My mother, of course, took the it-will-be-alright-you-don't-need-that-stress attitude. All I could think of was feeling that I was not "liked" on radio anymore and that I would not be able to do that Christmas shopping I had planned to do that very day. Now that extra money would have to be saved for a many rainy day. But I did indeed survive it all...and I'm still "liked" on KTU...as I will celebrate 15 years of being on the air this summer! But I knew EXACTLY how the Quiet One was feeling.

I assured him over and over again that he would find another job. I told him that God can never give him a better job, unless He cleared him from the one he already had. But I know how men feel. Most men equate their self-worth with what living they make; they feel proud to know they can "take care" of their family, or their woman. They also need to feel that they're filling a purpose - we all need that. So, the Quiet One nodded his head and was very upset that he couldn't buy me the one BIG Christmas gift he'd planned to buy me with the pay check he was supposed to receive. I told him I didn't need a big gift. I told him that HE was my gift...that God had given me EXACTLY what I wanted: a good man who respects me, cherishes who I am, who could care less that I sing, and who would honor me and be loyal. I'd take that any day over any piece of jewelry or a Kindle (lol...he knew I wanted a Kindle badly, lol).

So on Christmas, we took a ride to my visit my mom. And I was so proud of him. He helped set the table. He played with my nieces and later when we all sang my favorite Christmas carol, Carol of the Bells, he sang along as well. He was a GREAT sport! The magical moment came later on. I could not find him at all...and then I saw it. There he was, hands flying around in animated conversation. And who was he with? All 3 brothers & one uncle...they were talking and laughing. I walked into the kitchen where they were to listen in on the convo, when he said to me, "Sorry, honey, it's a guy thing." I laughed & walked out...and I felt proud. He doesn't believe me, but to see my boyfriend hanging out with my brothers and laughing - that was the best gift I could have ever received. After dessert, we took the ride home & cuddled on the sofa watching the Good Elf, or something like that. He apologized for not being able to give that big gift...but told me my gift was in the stocking. He had given me two pairs of the softest, coziest socks and two GORGEOUS pairs of EARRINGS! What was he talkng about? It was a perfect Christmas....I FINALLY am with someone who is REAL...

Fast forward to Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, the Quiet One STILL had not been able to find a job in his field, or even a different job altogether...and he was beginning to panic. I had to keep him calm...if we both panicked, it would make this bump in the road even worse. We kept Valentine's Day VERY simple. The Quiet One gave me a beautiful card, chocolate and he cooked my favorite dinner...I don't know what he calls it, but it's a delicious Italian dish with pasta, chicken, tomatoes and quiet ingredients, lol. He also baked me a lemon cake with a buttercream frosting, my favorite. We watched all our favorite tv shows & cuddled all night long...

Losing a job can be paralyzing, terrifying & can literally shake your foundation. But I am proud of him - he has NEVER quit. He has NEVER given up and he has NOT taken it out on me. That's what I'm most proud of him for. When people are under acute and high stress, it is easy to become quick tempererd and snap at the ones we love. Suddenly, under that type of pressure, it become easy to make the one you love a target and begin arguing about senseless things. But the Quiet One never changed. I love him for that. I am VERY proud of him. The fact is that since the job never came to him, he went to the job. Today, he has begun his own business & last week landed his first client. Last night, he landed a second! He's a good man and I have NO doubt, he will do well...and I love him. I really love him. So ladies if and when your man loses his job, or something truly meaningful to him - although you may want to get angry and panic...don't. Be his rock for a change, believe in him & his abilities, pray and then stand by your man!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Back in November, I blogged about my concern for my safety at times when I perform and I briefly mentioned that there were two specific incidents when I feared for my life. I received a few requests from some of the readers here, asking me to tell the story of such times...so here is one episode.

It was about 23 years ago or so. I had a show,Brooklyn, NY, at a club called "Club Invasion." It was a small place in Brooklyn, alongside an el by the train. I was performing on stage, doing my thing, just trying to entertain - when out of the blue some guy starts heckling me, making fun of my weight. This was a common occurence for me back then. I had grown used to it. But I had also grown quite tired of it. Thanks to Angel, original vocalist of the Cover Girls, I had learned that sometimes being a bit sassy with a heckler could pay off. She was spunky on stage, and always had a great comeback when she encountered a heckler. I had just recently used my I-may-be-chunky-but-I'm-Funky line, and it had benefited me...me and the audience had a good laugh. Ever since then, a lot of the heckling had come to a hault. Except for this time.

The heckling began, and I chose to ignore it as I had done so often in the past. And then two more men joined him and two more after that. So, I had had enough...and I counter-heckled. I don't remember what I said, but I know I said something about them being deficient in their manhood, and the crowd howled, "Ooooh..." The men immediately stopped. The bouncers grabbed them, and began to escort them out. I told the bouncers to leave them alone, but they were quickly ejected from the club. And on went the show.

When we left, I was with my first manager, George Vascones. We were sitting in the limousine, when the driver realized he had been underpaid, and went inside the club to get it taken care of. Our limo was not the only one...there were two more: one behind us, and one after us. We were in a bit of a rush, because we were planning to go to La Mirage in the Bronx to hang out a little bit. As we waited, I heard men calling my name. "Judy! Yo, Judy! Where are you?" At first, I thought it was a fan. I smiled at George, and he smiled back. Little did we know that the driver had left the limo doors open with the car running. Then suddenly, I heard someone say, "Yo! She's in here." And in an instant, two men jumped in the front and three in the back.

My eyes widened with shock. They were the same men who had heckled me and had been thrown out of the club. Their immaturity was larger than I thought - God forbid they recognize that they acted like jerks in the club. We were dealing with people unable to take responsibility for their actions - so what was going to happen now? I was in serious shock. I looked at my manager with disbelief. He was quiet. He showed no fear. He held his hand up to me as to say, "No worries, Judy. I GOT THIS!" George was a tenth degree black belt. I had faith in him. He'd never let me down before. But my heart was flyng, and the adrenaline began to pump through my veins...I was in fight or flight mode.

Fight or flight is a term in psychology: When we perceive a significant threat to us, then our bodies get ready either for a fight to the death or a desperate flight from certain defeat by a clearly superior adversary. Men and women tend to deal with stressful situations differently. Males are more likely to respond to an emergency situation with aggression (fight), while females are more likely to flee (flight), turn to others for help...

I did the math VERY quicky. Five guys against me and my manager. I tried to not show fear. I assessed my surroundings. Damn. The car was running...George hushed me again with his hand, but all I kept thinking was 'five guys. FIVE!' And then the unthinkable happened. They took off in the car...with me and George inside!! They took the limo!! I lost it. I never screamed because I had no voice. It felt like those nightmares you have when you're trying to scream for your life, but nothing will come out. Except this was real. I wondered where would they take us? Were they just trying to scare us? What were they planning to do? Steal money from us?...rape me? That last thought spurred a knee jerk, life-saving reaction. I thought, "Oh, HELL NO! I'm not going to let anyone do that to me (again - another blog another time)...and without thinking twice, I found my courage. I pushed one of them out of the way, and jumped out of the moving car. I landed onto the cold, wet street, right under the train tracks with cars coming my way. Thankfully, they dodged me. I stood up, skinned knees, skinned hands...but I was intact, and I was alive. And then I realized my mistake. Oh, my God! I left George in the limo by himeself with those asses. I hated myself. I felt the most selfish I had ever felt in my life. I looked up...and approximately two blocks later, I saw George's body tumble out of the limo...but the belt from his trenchcoat was caught in the door, and it dragged him just a bit, but I screamed, "George...help...someone help!!" He broke free and we limped over to each other. "I TOLD you I had them..." "I'm sorry, George, I just panicked I guess." Panic will make you do stupid things...including run. We put our arms around each other...we asked each other repeatedly if we were okay. When I look back, we looked kind of hilarious, limping, bleeding...but we were together...and we were laughing at the crazy courage we had to jump out of a moving car.

We got back to the club just to find that the doors had been locked. We banged repeatedly on the door. Keep in mind, back then, there were no cell phones. After almost 10 minutes of banging on the door, they finally opened it and we told them or our dangerous tale. They let us use the phone, where we called the police who quickly came to take a report and found the limo dumped and trashed about three quarters of a mile away. The driver was astonished, very upset that he might get into trouble for leaving the car running. What was so funny was that I wasn't so upset about my knees and hands bleeding - I was more upset about he mirrors that broke in my make up bag, lol.

George and I went to La Mirage later on, despite our scare...we danced, we laughed and then we wondered if it was a set up because the club ironically had their doors locked...and they never did find the guys who stole the car. Hm. So what was the lesson? Be mindful of who you heckle back, and NEVER leave a car running if you are NOT the driver. To this day, I freak out if I'm left alone in a car that's running....and I hate being alone in any car. Oh, by the way, I was invaded at Club Invasions...Club Invasions no longer exists...but I do!!!!!