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You ever wonder what people are thinking sometimes? Did you ever notice it is the ones with all the issues that like to say things to people to reflect what they really think about themselves on you? A woman who my husband and I do not care for never really figured out that we didn’t care for her. We would say hi for the benefit of a mutual friend but we never cared for her. The reason is because the persona she displays is one of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder with a little of that single white female type behavior. Little things just push you over the edge about people like that. Finally, I commented on another friend’s Facebook page and that kind of set this woman off. The funny thing is she called me a class act. Yes, I am. The other funny thing? If I was to sit here and elaborate on her, you wouldn’t believe it. The things this woman does at her age with an impressionable teenage daughter is unreal. When my father passed away, she had the nerve to show up at his Memorial Service. While that was nice and all, we don’t have a friendship or relationship with her. In addition, a few days after my father passed, my husband and I were out having a drink and this woman was out with our friends. She had audacity to say that she was freaked out because her cousin’s aunt’s next daughter removed died of breast cancer. Anyone dying of any disease is horrible but to say that to me while I am out and just lost my father when you didn’t even have a relationship with the particular very distant relative that passed was terribly rude. But I have no class? Isn’t anyone sane anymore?

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Has anyone seen this? – http://wonderwall.msn.com/tv/snooki-charges-200000-to-walk-an-events-red-carpet-1572458.story?gt1=28135 – Good Lord, REALLY? Not to sound like a hater but . . .

On another note, my husband and I are writing a one-act that is being performed on October 30 at Pianos Bar & Grill in Bloomfield, NJ. I think we are going to call it The Switch or Identity Crisis. It’s part of a show called Midnite Stories: Behind the Bar Edition (A “Twilight Zone” Type anthology). I am quite excited! To see something come alive for the first time that my husband and I created makes my adrenaline flow.  It’s for a group called Mysterical Players that we are a part of. I’ve been doing their PR. Check the group out on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mysterical-Players/274445179919?ref=ts

Back to the journey. Our relationship with Melissa and Frank was touch and go there for a while. Thank God that was rectified.

I didn’t think life and grief could bother someone as much as it botherd me. It’s hard everytime you are down to keep getting kicked. We had to do what we had to do to get our heads straight – more me though. I felt like the killjoy. I had to get the fog cleared from my head because the next semester at school was starting not long after the 1 year anniversary of my father’s death. Also at that time, I was playing one of the lead roles (The Queen) in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at a local theater in the area. I have to admit, with help from some friends that were actors/actresses, I came into my own. I worked with my singing teacher every week to get me prepared for my solos I had to sing. That boosted my self-esteem IMMENSELY. It was such a great experience. I had little kids coming up to me, some afraid, some not, after the show to take pictures. I had parents coming up to me telling me how great I did. I even had a parent recognize me in church. It was an incredible moment every time. 

The second semester was interesting. I had to travel to two schools for observations. Of course the commute was not close but I didn’t mind. I like driving. I can blast my tunes and sing at the top of my lungs. I know what you are thinking – This woman is a goof ball! – Yeah, pretty much! You either love me or hate me I guess. I am fine with either. In addition to the observations I had a Saturday class that was so boring. I think I had this same professor when I was at William Paterson. He basically sat in a chair at the front of the room and just talked. He would make us do rinky dink group work during class but otherwise I was taking so many notes. UGH! How can you teach like that in general but on Saturday to boot! An extra-large french vanilla couldn’t stop me from wanting to stick pins in my eyes! It was terrible. The professor made us meet with him at the end of the semester and asked what could be changed about the course. Being the person I am, of course I told him. I told him I was all about progressive education and there had to be more than lecturing. This was also the professor that kept looking at my chest while I was talking in that final meeting. I wanted to snap my fingers and whistle and be like “Yo man, my eyes are up here!” I hope I saved the next bunch of poor souls that took him.

My Monday night class was great. The teacher was cool of course with me. We discussed Giants tickets because she was a season ticket holder too. Don’t ask me why teachers take such a liking to me. Maybe because I go into the classroom and just do what I have to do and be myself. She is a first grade teacher during the day so by the time she got to us, she was exhausted which worked to our benefit. She taught the lesson and basically had us out at a reasonable time. Never did we leave at 10:15 p.m. I loved that considering I had like a 50 minute commute home.

I put myself in several predicaments in my Wednesday class. My first set of papers I bombed. The second lesson we had to do, I bombed. Being singled out by all my colleagues in the math field really annoyed me. I was already cranky because it was 100 degrees in the room. The math folk did their “mock” lesson and chose to incessantly annoy me by calling on me because I’m not a math person. COME ON MAN!!!! Lisa “Jersey” was slowly surfacing. I was going to explode. Thank God we were in the classroom. I bit my tongue as much as it would let me. I’m lucky I didn’t bleed out all over from how hard I was biting. By the time I presented my lesson, I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to do it. I hated that we were in an old school classroom and I didn’t have a laptop. I had to use the blackboard. I am not a blackboard teacher. I like using Powerpoint. The set up they had in there, one would have asked, “Did you get a free toaster with this too?” It was like reaching into the cracker jack box and pulling out the prize – Woo hoo an old school set up! UGH! I irked my professor. I irked myself. I got thrown under the bus in front of my classmates. It was terrible. I was told that it didn’t seem like I liked writing at all. That is the WORST thing you can say to me. It was like she stuck a steel knife in my gut. That bothered me A LOT. It bothered me that I let her down. In fact, it was all I could think about for days. I even journaled about it. I can’t tell you the last time I had picked up a journal before that. Thank God I got a do over on my papers at least. I was able to pick the grades up. I hate Cs. No Cs yet on my transcript *KNOCK ON WOOD*

I had another class that was half of a semester. It was a one credit course. The professor was cool. I did well in that class too.

I couldn’t wait for the semester to be over. I was looking forward to the summer even though I had to take Summer I and Summer II classes. When you are on unemployment, they want to rush you through everything and make you jump through hoops.


During the week we lost Tweetie, we shut down the franchise. Another domino down. We had met with our bankruptcy counsel and had the petition filed. This was our third attorney. She was a very get the job done and matter of fact individual. She advised us not to notify our employees, clients, or landlord we were filing bankruptcy and shutting the business down. She wanted us to just put a note in the window or have the locks changed. While I agreed with not notifying the landlord, I didn’t agree with not notifying the clients. We set a date of February 6, 2009 to shut the doors for good. I typed up a letter and mailed them out to all the clients on a Friday. I also contacted all the employees and said we were going to have a meeting Saturday after we closed at noon. By the time we got to the gym Saturday morning, all the employees had already found out because the first thing some of the clients did when they got their letters was of course call “Devri” and complain. When my husband and I explained our personal situation, how we couldn’t do it anymore, how the corporation was of no help, how our attorney advised us to not even give notice and how losing my father put a lot in perspective, “Devri” responded with a VERY selfish comment. But what else was new . . . This woman had the audacity to say to us “I wish you would have told me this the other day. My husband is in Italy. I purposely didn’t go because there wasn’t anyone to work. I sacrificed the trip. I could be in Italy right now.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? My response? “Um well, I just lost my father so no disrespect to you, but I really wasn’t thinking about people’s vacations.” Pardon my French, but what balls! To add to her character flaws, she had the nerve to steal supplies that WE purchased in addition to member folders in order to pass them out to those that wished to go to another facility. Her mentality that she ran the place continued even to the day we shut the doors. When the employees left and we realized what she did, my husband left an unpleasant voicemail on her cell phone. We called our attorney and told her what “Devri” did. Our attorney said we could have filed a police report. We decided against that because we still had to live in the next town over. We put a “Closed due to bankruptcy” sign on the door and left. That was the last time we ever saw the women’s fitness facility again. The albatross was slowing removing itself from our necks.

I had to have all the utilities turned off. Before I had the phone disconnected, I checked the voicemail. There were at least 6 on the machine. I only listened to one because I knew that these trust fund babies felt a sense of entitlement to know ahead of time and were only going to degrade us for doing what was in our best interest. God forbid!  The one voice mail from one of the clients said she didn’t appreciate how we did this. She said she understood why but that customers were loyal to us. Who was she kidding? The women’s loyalty was to “Devri” just like “Devri’s” loyalty was to them. They never participated in any of the promotions I had going on in terms of bringing in friends to workout or to try the circuit workout itself. It was social hour and time to get away from their husbands and be with the girls. They didn’t care if my husband and I were struggling. I think they expected us to stay open regardless.  

With all this going on, I had to make time to study for my Praxis exam which was taking place about 5 weeks after the closing of the gym. That’s all I focused on. I threw myself into studying and attending workshops for extra help. I had to keep myself busy to get my mind off everything else. During my study time, we received our letter from the court. The bankruptcy court date was a week after the Praxis. Can you see the domino pattern here?

Through all this, there was one positive. My best friend was pregnant for the first time with her daughter – My God daughter.


You may ask why we didn’t phone the Franchise corporation duiring all this. We did. They did NOTHING to help. It was more or less a “Too bad so sad” situation. They did not want to hear you weren’t making any money. They didn’t care. As long as they were EFTing your advertising fees and franchise fees every month, to hell with the owners who are making them this money.

My specific franchise went through 3 different local directors. We never even had one of them come to the franchise until 2.5 years into it. The woman wasn’t even our state director. She was the Connecticut director. She had never driven a NJ U-turn before and called our gym in hysterics.

At the same time, the company was coming out with digitalized equipment that would have cost franchisees $5,000.00 plus a fee every month. This company was money hungry. Anyway, when the Connecticut director showed up, I had my best employee out on the floor doing her thing while the director watched clients to see if we trained them with proper form. When the gym closed for the day, my husband and I sat down with this woman. Of course the first thing she tried to do was get us to buy the new equipment. We were like “Yeah um with what?” She got into the “You have to spend money to make money” garbage. How can one spend what one does not have? The corporation’s philosophy I was finding out from other owners was do what you have to do to get money and keep your business afloat. If that meant a home equity loan or draining your savings, so be it. If you had to borrow it, beg, steal, lie, or more or less prostitute yourself, you better do it. If owners’ franchises didn’t make money, the Corporation franchise fee goes down.  In addition, they charged this ridiculous advertising fee every month. Where the hell was the advertising? If you saw one commercial every few months that was a lot.  During this meeting with the Connecticut director, she was explaining how we should give away two month memberships with a  guest pass. She wrote down some notes and said she was going to have our regular state director come up with a game plan and that we would be getting a phone call to help us. We NEVER received a phone call. Membership just kept declining. I even tried giving away almost 100 free 2 month memberships to women in the local school district. They enjoyed the free two months but when their gift certificates expired, none of them joined. It was hopeless.

At this point, we started looking into shutting the franchise down. Oh my God you can’t even imagine what the corporation puts you through. If you break your franchise agreement, they charge you a $10,000 penalty plus all your back franchise and advertising fees for the remainder of your agreement. If you refused to pay them, a lien would be placed on your property or in our case whatever we owned. I found that if this was placed on us and we bought a house in the future, a lien would be placed on future property. The only way out of paying them their money and be totally free of this albatross was to file bankruptcy. During these discussions, higher ups kept trying to talk me into selling the gym for a penny. I’m sorry. You want me to incur lawyer fees for a transaction to sell the franchise for a penny so that the corporation keeps making money while I’m losing my shirt? As they say on ESPN, “COME ON MAN!” This is supposed to be a franchise based on religious individuals? You must be joking! Doesn’t it say in the Bible to “Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”


After that phone call I was beyond livid. We went back up to the bank. I started raising my voice to “Barbara” and telling her what the Assistant Director of the SBA said. It was one of those “Uh Uh” moments. She reverted back to how the business isnt making any money. At that point, all I heard was noise – think of the teacher voice on Charlie Brown. That was a dead end obvioulsy.

Months passed and our financial situation got worse. We got a phone call from our realtor. She told us she had a local woman interested in the gym and wanted to know if I could drop her off an extra key and some paperwork. Unlike “Kevin” I  provided a REAL member number list. A little background on this prospective buyer – Think Jersey Shore (tv show) looking with a British accent, what guys would call a “bangin bod,” long nails polished, a lot of makeup, VERY rich and possibly an entire bottle of perfume.  We will call her “Lizzy.” Early on our attorney called her a “tire kicker” and that is exactly what she turned out to be. She kept us on the hook for nine months. Every phone call, whether we spoke to her or her husband, they wanted more and more information and more time. The last phone call we received from them they wanted us to wait longer because they wanted to refinance their house to get extra money for the purchase. Can you even believe it? People this is my life. You can’t make this up. WHY ME? She told us they needed two months and that they wanted us to hold membership steady at the number it was at which at that point I think was about 185 members. We held steady for the two months and never heard from them. Membership started declining even more again due to members losing their jobs or what have you. When we called to get a status update and told her we had the membership steady for two months and never heard from her and how membership declined more, there was dead silence on the other end of the phone. After the silence, she again asked us to wait longer. We gave her a deadline and said if we didn’t hear from her we would have to shut the gym down because we just couldn’t do it on our end anymore.

In addition to the stress of a failing business and a strained marriage, my father was in and out of the hospital from a heart attack, additional chest pains, getting a stent put in, and bleeding. Could it possibly have gotten any worse? It did. I had a pet cockatiel for 14 years. She fell off her perch and started twitching her head. We took her to the vet and the poor bird was a nervous wreck shaking. Not sure if you know anything about cockateils but they get very attached to their owners and don’t like being in strange places. The vet gave us antibiotics that had to be administered with an eye dropper like tool. I hate vets. No offense to any out there. It’s just I have friends that have many animals and every time they took their pets to vets, it wasn’t long after that the pets passed away. My bird was never 100% again but she was ok for a while.

“Lizzy”, my father, and my bird situations happened from the end of 2007 on through almost the end of 2008. Again I said it couldn’t get any worse. Yet another domino fell. On Novemebr 15, 2008 I received a phone call from my full-time job telling me they were laying people off due to the lack of work because of the floundering economy. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is happening again NOW?  While I was still working for the company, our department was taken over by a young woman, who honestly had no clue about what we did in this specific aspect. My old boss got a promotion and went to another department. A few times this new woman suggested stuff and it was like “uh yeah we already were doing that.” Anyone that is a woman and works for a woman knows how catty some of them can be especially if they feel threatened because you actually know more than they do and they are supposed to be the boss. In any case, I was once again being layed off in the midst of a failing business. Thank God for unemployment. It was at that time my husband and I had a long talk and said we had enough. That’s when we decided we weren’t waiting for the tire kicker anymore and to now more than ever get control over this.

On the same day I lost my job, I registered for the Praxis II Exam to become an English Teacher. My test was scheduled for a Saturday in March 2009. Years ago when I wasn’t really into the profession I took the test twice because I was working at the first company in another department where I was getting up at 3 a.m. and I needed to get out because it was killing me.  The two times I took the test I didn’t get the score I needed. When I took the test the first two times, I was still at that “I deserve- wooo is me” phase so I really didn’t care if I passed it or not.