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2019 – Year in Review!

Published December 20, 2019 by Maryanne

Hustle2019 — The Hustle was real! 

Wow, when I look back at 2019, I have a huge smile on my face! I mean, I am glowing! It was filled with lots of love and stellar career moments. I am forever grateful that it happened. Below, I share just some of the highlights–after all, a girl’s gotta be private about some things!

January 2019 

My year started off on the most amazing note. I was only in Toastmasters a few months and I won “Best Speaker” for my deliverance of a David Bowie Tribute I wrote, which I gave on January 10, 2019 — three years after his sad death.

February 2019 

This was the only month of the year that sucked. We had to put down our beloved Bennie cat. He was a feral who was only 3-years-old. We took him in the summer of 2018. The vet checked him out and we were told he had FIV and wouldn’t live long. Sure enough, a few months later he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It broke our hearts; my husband and I were devastated to lose such a sweet, loving cat.

Shortly afterwards, a few friends passed away too. It was a bad, bad month for so many.

SAM_3266 (1)Bennie Hemingway, Rest in Peace little angel

March 2019 

It’s always a blessing to have great friends around to cheer you up!

Jayne - NYC Cher ShowMaryanne and Jayne (aka Romy & Michele) in NYC! 

April 2019

I was so honored to be a part of an anti-bulling club! Sara Liptack of the Little Free Library, Westfield, New Jersey, invited me to her home to discuss my book, “I Don’t Want to Be Like You” with young readers in the Westfield neighborhood.

IMG_20190406_172624_591 (1)Say “yes” to acai bowls and “no” to bullying! (Photo by Sara Liptack)

May 2019

During the month of May, my husband and I welcomed our newest family member, Sammy! I adopted him from St. Hubert’s in Madison, New Jersey. Sammy is 9-years-old and he spent most of his life in a shelter. We are honored to have him in our family, he’s a perfect little angel and we love him to pieces!

DSCF3932Sammy, our dear little angel! 

May was also significant because I was extremely honored to present my workshop “Be Your Own Hero” for Toastmasters District 83 Spring Conference. It was an excellent turn out and extremely well received. (Note, The “Be Your Own Hero” workshop was based on my book, “Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” which was published later in the year by KiCam). 

DSCF3631Be Your Own Hero

June 2019 

June was super cool because my book, “I Don’t Want to Be Like You” became available on audio! You can get all versions here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

July 2019 

My husband and I were thrilled to take some much needed private down-time, both by ourselves and with very dear friends. Hashtag GRATEFUL!

Facetune (4)Dennis and Maryanne (Photo by Jayne DiGregorio) 

August 2019

August is my birthday month. And I do mean “month” because it takes a whole month and then some to get together with everyone who is important to me. So, I say to all of you, Thank you for the LOVE!

DSCF4045I love you! 

September 2019 

Once again, getting away and spending time with our super awesome friends! Hashtag HAPPINESS!

DSCF4128 Dennis and Maryanne

October 2019 

This month was a double whammy of greatness! If it wasn’t cool enough that my book, “Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” (https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227) was released, my fictional book, “Love Cats” which was out of print, got picked up by Pink Flamingo Media! (https://www.pinkflamingo.com/). So look forward to a second printing of “Love Cats” in 2020!

Love Cats front and back cover

First printing of “Love Cats” now out of print. Second edition to be published in 2020 by Pink Flamingo Media!! 

During the month of October, I completed writing the play, “Ain’t Life a Beach” for actor, Jesse Walker! It will be presented during the summer of 2020. Jesse Walker was also the first person to interview me to promote “Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero.” Check out the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7_O5ZdsVNo

November 2019 

I was honored to perform my poetry at Neighborhood House Association. “All About Eve” was well received! You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyLorsfQig4

December 2019

While many people get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s actually a wind-down time for me. I stay at home, sipping keto cocoa drinks and working on my next projects. I have some great ideas in the works…as well as some super cool surprises for 2020 which involve writing, speaking, and poetry!

I wish everyone a very happy, blessed, and prosperous 2020! 

BEST OF 2019

My husband and I do so much and see so much, it’s hard to keep up. I used to write about all the shows we saw in this blog, but it’s time-consuming especially when I also keep private journals. However, the following are truly stand-outs for 2019.

BEST NEW ARTIST – SIERRA FERRELL

Well, I’ve been picking winners since I was a little girl. I’d watch the Miss America contest with my grandmother and right from the beginning I’d say who was going to win. When I accidentally came across the music of young artist, Sierra Ferrell, my mind was blown. She is truly the bomb! (Do people still say that? Well I do!)

When I first heard her song “Jeremiah” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEYSUpPirJM) I knew she was something special. I spent two hours watching her videos on You Tube (the perks of being self-employed). And, by chance, she happened to be performing, just an hour away from us in upstate New York.

For a mere $10, it was a kick ass show. I got to meet Sierra too, and she’s a little sweetheart. The punchline is, two weeks later, she was signed to Rounder Records! Hell, yeah! Now we can look forward to some new music from her in 2020.

DSCF3957Sierra Ferrell and Maryanne 

BEST NEW ARTIST RUNNER UP – BILLIE EILISH 

Not that I’m going to run out and buy tickets to her show … but then again, never say never … I do have her CDs. Wow, I’m just so impressed with her cool, catchy, innovative, strong-spirited songs. I love Billie Eilish! Thank you for existing!

BEST LIVE SHOW – PETER MURPHY, (le) Poisson Rouge, NYC

Last August Peter Murphy did a ton of shows, performing full solo albums and a few Bowie tributes. I had tickets to see the “Deep” show (and one of the David Bowie tributes, but it was canceled because Murphy had a heart attack — he’s okay now and performing again). Anyway “Deep” was one of my favorite Murphy albums and to see it performed live was nothing short of euphoric. My friend Jayne and I got close to the front and Mr. Murphy was so on the money; always a class act entertainer. As an encore, he did “His Circle and Hers Meet” from “Love Hysteria” — and wow, that just blew me over the top! This was truly the show of the year! I was so bummed that the Bowie tribute was canceled, but a taste of Murphy is better than none at all!

BEST PLAY – THE CHER SHOW BROADWAY

I’m so glad I caught this earlier this year because it ended this summer. It was very cool. There were three Chers (my favorite vocal — and look — was the young Cher, Babe), a Sonny, and even a Greg Allman. It was a fun-filled musical time-line of Cher’s life.

BEST MOVIE – “BLINDED BY THE LIGHT”

I like Bruce Springsteen, but having just one CD, I wouldn’t call myself a fan. But this movie totally spoke to me because it was about a writer who was inspired by music. (I’ve often been judged by  intellectual types who shunned me for being a writer inspired by music not necessarily other writers, so watching this movie it was like, “Ha-ha, fuck you!”)

There were so many moments I related to, especially the frustrations and ripping up your own work and throwing it out the window.

In the movie, there’s a scene where the main character’s father rips up his Bruce Springsteen tickets. Parents in my generation, Generation X, rarely understood their kid’s dreams. Generation gaps were huge and parents didn’t make an effort to know their kids like young parents today do.

I still cringe when I look back at the day my mother got mad at me, jumped on my bed, and tore all my Queen posters off the walls. Queen was the band that inspired me to write and be more creative.

So, this movie isn’t just for Bruce fans, it’s for any Generation Xer who had communication problems with their parents.

Rest in Peace

February was just horrible with one death after another. Our dear Bennie cat, our dear friend Daniel Popp, and WFMU radio icon, X-Ray Burns. Whew, it was a terrible, terrible month. May all these young souls rest in peace.

And of course we lose so many celebrities throughout the year, but the one that hit the worst was Ric Ocasek, who died on September 15. I was a Cars fan when I was just 15 and had their first album. I never saw them perform live, but my husband and I went to one of his art gallery shows.  As we were leaving, my husband said, “Wave to him.” We did, and he smiled and waved back. God bless his soul, he was an original.

DSCF3060RIP, Ric Ocasek (Photo courtesy of Maryanne and Dennis Mistretta)

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

 

 

 

 

September 11, 2001 – My Words From That Day

Published September 11, 2013 by Maryanne

9-119/11/01

Twelve years later, I went back to my old journal and found the words I wrote on the day [Note: at the time I was working as a self-employed journalist and just became a certified legal proofreader.]

September 11, 2001

This is the worst I’ve felt since my grandmother died. I don’t even know I’m living.

I’m still waiting to hear from some MIA NYC friends. I’m afraid to go to sleep. My friend Ed took me to dinner at a nice Italian restaurant in Upper Montclair. I got all dressed up, hoping to feel a little bit better. We passed the Montclair Art Museum and saw a crowd of people taking pictures of the dark cloud over the NYC skyline.

I’m sick to my stomach.

I received phone calls from people concerned about me since I work so much in NYC, yet I’m the one worrying about everyone else.

I’m confused, wondering if I should continue my career in New York. I don’t think I have the strength to go back for awhile. I can’t just can’t imagine it. Diane was talking about the San Gennaro Feast this weekend, but I can’t see me going there. Ute Lemper, Nick Cave, Jane’s Addiction, Jonathan Richman and all the other shows I planned on seeing during the next few weeks are just fantasies that will give way to dust.

Soooo far away in my little New Jersey town, yet so close. New York City meant so much to me, all of my life. I can direct a stranger to almost anywhere in the city, but a stranger in my hometown will get lost asking me for directions in Little Falls, for I’m never here except to sleep. I’m always in my beloved New York City, working, playing and wandering aimlessly.

A friend made an interesting comment. He said that we think about our lost loved ones and feel sad, but at least they don’t have to deal with this insanity! For once, I can say I am glad my grandmother is not alive.

I pray that everyone is dealing with this the best they could. My heart goes out to all, and to all your loved ones. My friends, my enemies, I wish the best for everyone.

My soul has been ripped out from under me.

I will never be the same again.

But It Will Always Be “West Paterson” To Me

Published August 31, 2012 by Maryanne

West Paterson, New Jersey; since 2009 known as Woodland Park

This afternoon a client said that she’d need a ride to Woodland Park.

I didn’t know where the hell she was talking about and started getting a little nervous, thinking she was asking me to drive her to somewhere way up the Parkway and then I’d get stuck in massive holiday weekend traffic on the way back.

Then I figured it out … oh, okay, Woodland Park … WEST PATERSON!

West Paterson was one of the towns I grew up in and the name was changed to Woodland Park in 2009 because the residents wanted to disassociate themselves with the city of Paterson which was significantly poorer and had a higher crime rate.

I felt this was extremely pretentious and even though I haven’t lived in West Paterson since I was a kid, I was very upset with the name change. West Paterson was the name of the town since May 1, 1914.

But New Jersey is no stranger to name changes. East Paterson, incorporated in 1916, changed it’s name to Elmwood Park in 1973 for the same reasons in hopes that property values would go up and not be confused with Paterson to outsiders.

On the flip side of the coin, Paterson residents felt the name changes were racist and discriminating and have cleverly suggested changing Paterson’s name to East Woodland Park or West Elmwood Park!

My client, who is originally a New Yorker, said that New York would never change the names of their boroughs. That is such a good point. Brooklyn was named back in 1634 and the name came from Breukelen, Netherlands. And I highly doubt any Brooklynites would ever want to change the name Brooklyn to something else. That’s a tight sense of community that you can’t help but admire.

Anyway, it’s been three years since the official name change, but to me it will always be “West Paterson” and that’s how I’ll refer to it!

Art in the Park … or My Doodles

Published July 22, 2012 by Maryanne

Me with my artwork in Union Square, September 2005

I’ve been following a blogger, True Love Junkie, who posts a lot of her AMAZING drawings, that she calls “doodles” — check her out: http://truelovejunkie.com/2012/07/22/doodles-week-2/

Inspired by True Love Junkie, I decided to post this old photo of me in Union Square, NYC, accompanied by my very own “doodles.”

What got me drawing was baby sitting a little girl named Claire in 2004.

At the time she was 8-years-old and we did a lot of drawing together. She actually told me that I was “good!”

The summer of 2005 I had a lot of free time on my hands, working just one 35-hour job at a local newspaper, so I tried my hand at art and went public with it.

My work is very child-like and witty and quite a few people brought my prints and referred to it as “punk art.”

My best seller was a parody on commercialism. It was a drawing of Hello Kitty’s face on Buddha’s body, with the saying, “Hello Buddha!”

Another big seller was a picture of a little girl romping in the sunshine — on the other side of the fence it was dark and Van Gogh-ish. The caption said, “The Grass is Always Greener on MY Side of the Fence.”

But my personal favorite was a drawing of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with the word “TEMPTATION” in the background, alongside the McDonald’s arch.

Or, the one of a girl flying on a magic carpet over a burning bridge with the saying, “No matter how many bridges I burn, I always end up somewhere!”

Eventually I put my art aside for other things in life, but who knows … someday I will pick up my colored pencils and markers again and do more.

I was also considering selling on Esty … but we shall see!

A Sauce To Die For!

Published July 14, 2012 by Maryanne

The following is an article I wrote, published in The Montclair Times, January 11, 2006, after I interviewed Sopranos actor, Joseph R. Gannascoli, who had created an all natural Italian pasta sauce.

Quite a few people got a kick out of the fact that Gannascoli admitted to me — a reporter — that he was a food fence!

I asked him, “Is this ON THE RECORD?”

He said, “Yes.”

So, here is the full article, one of my favorites that I ever wrote — ENJOY!

The Sauce of All Sauces: ‘Sopranos’ Actor Joseph Gannascoli Creates Sauces ”To Die For’

By Mary Anne Christiano of The Montclair Times

Most chefs say their sauce is to die for, but when the chef is a gangster, he might mean it a little more literally.

Or maybe not. After all, this chef only plays a gangster on TV.

Joseph Gannascoli, who plays Vito Spatafore on “The Sopranos,” the noted series on HBO cable television, has crafted natural, additive-free sauces to be introduced in his new book “A Meal to Die For.” Both the book and the sauces made their debut on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

There are three sauces to choose from: “Roasted Garlic and Eggplant,” “Wild Mushroom” and “Sunday Sauce.” According to Gannascoli, his sauces feature ingredients, such as wild mushrooms, not often used in other sauces on the market today. The garlic in the “Roasted Garlic and Eggplant” sauce is roasted, not sautéed, which makes the taste sweeter, and there is sherry in the Sicilian “Sunday Sauce.”

Gannascoli, who recently lost 160 pounds, said he tries to eat healthy and that’s why he decided to concoct sauces without any preservatives. “I’d like to see my sauces in Trader Joe’s,” he said. “It’s a novelty.”

While the sauces start out with pretty basic ingredients, Gannascoli suggests doctoring them up. For instance, olives and capers can be added to the “Sunday Sauce” and put over fish. “If I wanted to cook mussels, I can add white wine to the ‘Sunday Sauce,'” he said. Gannascoli also suggests putting the “Wild Mushroom” sauce on pizza.

Before Gannascoli got into acting, he was a chef for 20 years. “People always loved my sauce,” he said. Leaving law school, Brooklyn-born Gannascoli decided to open up a restaurant in Manhattan.

The self-taught cook has been inventing dishes since his youth. He said, “When I was a kid I wanted to be this great chef. All cuisine is interesting, Japanese, New Orleans, Italian …”

During the 1980s and 1990s Gannascoli fulfilled his childhood dreams by opening up a few restaurants while dabbling in acting. But he said he always got bored and started gambling. After losing $60,000, Gannascoli paid off his debts and decided to pursue acting in Los Angeles. He made a few movies but couldn’t take being away from home.

“I went home, opened up a few more restaurants, didn’t gamble as much,” Gannascoli said.

Then Gannascoli got the break he was waiting for, being cast as the character Vito Spatafore in HBO’s Emmy Award-winning show, “The Sopranos.”

It’s possible that Gannascoli’s fictitious character in the show about organized crime in New Jersey lives in Montclair. “I think my home is in Montclair, or close to it,” he said. Gannascoli lives in Long Island and is not too familiar with the area.

After reading a story about a gay character involved in organized crime, Gannascoli decided he wanted his character Vito to be unique and suggested they make him come out on the show. When asked if Gannascoli’s character Vito is anything like him, he said, “No, I love women too much. I just got married!”

However, the character in Gannascoli’s book, “A Meal to Die For” is so similar to Gannascoli he says it’s almost autobiographical.

“It’s based on my life,” he said. “It’s a culinary novel of crime. I think it would make a great movie. It has food. It has the mob. It’s funny.”

The lead character, Benny Lacoco, is a “food fence” who wants to become a great chef. Lacoco moves hot items such as olive oil and expensive wine.

“I was a food fence for five or six years,” said Gannascoli. “But I never got ‘pinched’ [arrested] as they say.”

But even as a food fence, Gannascoli stayed true to his exquisite culinary tastes — if the quality wasn’t there, he said he wouldn’t sell it.

In the future, Gannascoli hopes to get into a bigger food line. He said, “Barbecue sauces, spreads, olive oils … I want to pitch my own cooking show. I want to expand and do as much as I can, while I can.”