I'm back! Yes, really this time.

I know it's been years, but if any of my old, loyal, readers are still out there and interested in an update, I am now blogging at Tale of a Trailing Spouse.

I hope to see you there. If you do come, please drop by and say hi!


Do you have a recurring dream? I do. Every six months or so, after I've fallen into deep sleep, I am taking back to the year 1986. I was 18-years old, just about to graduate high school, and a part-time announcer at the local country music radio station, WNLD 1290 AM.
Even now, as I type the words WNLD, I can't but hear one of the overly-produced, station ID sound effects --the one that featured a deep and booming voice of a man (unknown to anyone who worked at the station or lived in Franklin County):

"1290 RADIO-O-O...W... N... L... D..."

I loved the way that mystery voice enunciated the station call letters! Sometimes, I tried to imitate his power and technique, but I just didn't have the chops to do it well and, instead, sounded like a DJ-wannabee.

Of course, as a teenager with exactly zero prior broadcasting experience, that's what I was-- a wannabee, who happily manned the shifts nobody else wanted for a whopping 4 dollars per hour. On Sundays, for example, I worked the hours between the morning's Preacher Feature and NASCAR or ACC basketball, depending on the season. At the top of every hour during that 6-hour stretch, somewhere between the Voice of Shalom and Jefferson-Pilot Radio Networks, devoted listeners got to hear Diane Gregory, the Queen of Country, do her weather forecast, which, in reality, meant I had looked out the back window, read the current temperature from the thermometer, and decided whether to call the day sunny, partly cloudy, or cloudy.

Fun times, really.

But in my dreams, I am never taken back to the those good times--when working the controls was easy and mindless. Instead, I am taking back to my early days in radio, when I was just learning the ropes from station owner Donny Brook, and neither my attention span nor fingers were nimble enough appropriately organize and handle what seemed to be stacks and stacks of 8-track tapes of songs and commercials.

The problem was I never seemed to know when the song was ending or when the commercial break was beginning. As a result, I offered listeners the disastrous effect known in the industry as "dead air" --where for 2, 3, 4 or 10 seconds not a sound was transmitted from the tower to the listener's ear.

Really, Donny should have dubbed me Diane Gregory, the Queen of Dead Air, because I did it so well.

Now in my dream, it's always the same scenario. I'm sitting in front of the control panel with my head phones on, looking both cute and professional at the same time. Randy Travis sings I'm Gonna Love You Forever and Ever, but "forever and ever" only lasts three and a half minutes. Randy's sudden departure leaves me dumbfounded and without a single commercial to play. I'm left scrambling for something to shove into the tape player--usually a holiday commercial from last season or of something about the Leggett sale that ended the week prior.

Some people have recurring dreams about being chased, walking in public naked, or falling endlessly. Not me. Twenty-five years after leaving WNLD, I still dream about "dead air" even though everything about my current life is so very much full and alive.

I don't know what it means. I do know that whenever I have my recurring dream, sleep is not restful. And I always wake up relieved to know that on that particular night, REM, refers to my state of sleep and not a band I neglected to play during my shift.


Anonymously yours

Toward the end of my 14-year stint, living and working in Small Town, USA I experienced lots of "Norm-from-Cheers" moments. It didn't matter where I went -- not only to my favorite hangouts, but also other places such as the grocery store, nail salon, bank, and even dentist office-- it felt like everyone knew my name and, in some cases, rank, number, and personal history as well. There were occasions, like during my divorce when it seemed my dental hygienist knew as much about the circumstances as I did, when being a familiar fixture felt more claustrophobic than it did cozy. But most of the time, I viewed those moments and feelings of familiarity as my reward for making efforts to be part of a greater community, an achievement that was only experienced after years of living and working in one place.

So when I moved away from it all, and lived for a time as a stranger in new and faraway land, I worried whether my newfound anonymity would feel bothersome and even lonely.

It didn't.

I discovered, with great surprise, that being unknown in a community, not only had its upsides (like not feeling obligated to get that biweekly manicure and pedicure to keep up an image), it was also downright empowering.

Without a known, personal, history to weigh me down, I could reinvent myself and be whoever I wanted to be. Not that I would intentionally deceive for nefarious reasons, but if I wanted to pretend to be interested in soccer to help secure a party invite, for example, there wasn't anyone around to point out I had never watched an entire game prior to moving to Europe. Or, when I found myself in the company of the chemists who worked with my husband, I could pretend that I understood a little something about their projects because no one knew that I had failed my high school chemistry course (along with ytping).

Without coworkers, friends, or family, I also didn't have any obligations. In fact, for the longest time, I didn't have to clutter my brain by memorizing a single digit in a phone number. I never had to attend a tupperware party or play a game at a baby shower because I didn't get any invites. In fact, I almost forgot I had a mailbox, so I never checked it. Yes, I experienced complete and total liberation.

Well, that's what I kept telling myself.

However, now that I've passed the one year mark of living and socializing in Barcelona, my anonymity is fading away. These days, I try not to walk Charlie down the street without wearing make-up or, at the very least, really big sunglasses because I will inevitably run into someone I know. In fact, I have met so many nice people that I am chained to an appointment calendar to keep up with all my engagements. What a chore, right?

And then there are those Norm-from-Cheers moments, which now come more frequently as work to integrate in my new home. Unfortunately, language barriers have prevented me from getting to know my new dental hygienist all that well. But I know, with just a little more work, it's only a matter of time.



A couple margaritas with a shot of gran marnier in each certainly soothed my nerves before embarking on a 9-hour, transatlantic flight. Unfortunately, the cocktails also numbed the most important part of my central nervous system--the brain.

Max and I were walking through Dulles International yesterday when I spotted a man, who looked vaguley familiar to me.

"Hey!" I blurted out, just a tad louder than normal thanks, in part, to that last shot of liquid courage. "I KNOW you!"

The man paused, smiled wrily, but said nothing.

"Aren't you Joe's older brother Maceo from Franklin County?" I asked ever so certain I had this fellow pegged.

"Uh...no," he said walking away quickly and shaking his head ever slightly as if I had just said something inane and ridiculous.

Max looked mortified. "Diane, how could you not know who he was?!?"


It was Taye Diggs.

And that, my friends, is how Diane Threw Her Groove Back.


I never had a reader from Iceland, anyway

Cough, cough. Gasp. I am waving hello to all of those who responded to my last post through a thick, gritty fog, that has enveloped the Martini lounge. Thank you (and Google reader) for remembering me.

I thought smoke monsters only existed in the minds of the creative writers at LOST. Little did I know but, far from mythical, they are real, fierce, and nestled, deep within the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland. (Is it just me or does the name of the volcano sound made up.)

I guess what I am trying to say is that volcanic ash from the far north has not only disrupted air travel all over the world, but also (gasp) the relaunching of this blog.

No, it's nothing so catastrophic. I'm fine. Charlie is fine. And Max, who is always flying the sometimes friendly skies, miraculously made it home with a no-name airline from a quick trip to Romania last Friday. However, friends and visitors in and around Europe haven't been so lucky. As a result, our home has become part staging area, part refugee shelter for friends and friends of friends, who haven't been able to return to their home countries. Until things settle down, I won't be able to even think about posting.

If you are reading this in the quiet comfort of your own home, please do a little rain and wind dance for Europe so that we can finally say goodbye to the nasty smoke monster.


The comeback kid?

It's been almost a year away from the blogsphere and I am wondering whether it is too late to make a comeback. Is anyone out there?


End of the road...

This probably isn't going to come as a surprise.

After four years, 714 posts, and many wonderful memories, the time has come to close down the Martini Lounge. When I started blogging, originally calling this site, Martinis For One, it was out of a need more than desire. Recently divorced and completely confused by the dating world, I used the blog as my primary emotional outlet and personal diary. I also created a virtual persona--Diane Mandy--because I worried what family and friends might think about the honest expressions and experiences.

Since then a lot has changed, but mostly that I have surrounded myself with a group of friends that love me regardless of my viewpoints and history. My blog is no longer a personal confessional. I also don't need a virtual persona any longer. I can just be me.

Along the way, many of you, dear and loyal readers, have helped me in this journey of self renewal. You have shared my adventures--from single gal to married woman to American expat in Europe. You have been there through all the happy times and a few struggles. And along the way, I never felt judged or looked down upon for being me.

And for this, I thank you.

I honesty feel some of you are more than just fellow bloggers. You have been my friends through all these years. And for those who want to stay in touch with the real Diana, please feel free to send me an e-mail (dmandy_5@hotmail.com) and I will provide you with alternate contact information.

Thank you again for being a part of a wonderful four years. It's been quite a ride. In fact, the only thing that stayed consistent was YOU.


My inner salsera

I have a salsa lesson tonight--specifically a ladies-only, styling class, However, unlike my last, more traditional class, where a series of new turn patterns and footwork was taught, I am not looking forward to this session.

Ladies styling is a class that separates the men from the boys, or in this case, the women from the girls. It is the difference between someone who dances salsa and a bonafide salsera--the rare creature who turns even the most basic steps into art, interpreting the beat and rhythms using stylish arm and body movements that defy laws of nature.

Well, after only two classes the only thing my body is defying is the laws of how a 40-something woman ought to move. And it has become clear to me, every time I attempt to do a proper body roll and end up looking like Elaine from Seinfeld, that the only inner salsera I am going to find is in a jar with an Old El Paso label on it.


What does a rooster say?

When learning a language, there are certain things you're never going to learn by sitting in a classroom.

For example, It completely escaped my notice that I had gone the inaugural concert of OOO DOS last month. I mistakenly had thought the band I saw was called EWE TOO (U2).

On another occasion, when a friend invited me to dinner by e-mail, graciously writing in English instead of her native tongue:

Hi!!! How are you? Do you have plans for tonight? Im going with some friends to have ....mmmmhhh dinner (or is it lunch?) jiji around Gracia.

I responded by saying I'd be happy to have lunch at Jiji around Gracia. Right?

Wrong. You can imagine my embarrassment when I discovered that

Jiji = Hee Hee

or that

"Ah ha!" is actually "aj√°."

I could go on forever.

These are the little things that I would not have learned any other way than by living and breathing in a Spanish-speaking country. And all I can say is Wuau, err..uh.. I mean Wow!