About Christina

AUTHOR BIO: Christina Oxenberg is an award winning author with many published books, a weekly blog and a large loyal readership. Oxenberg was badly educated at too many schools to bother listing, including one highly suspect institution where poker was on the curriculum. School was mostly in England but also Spain, and New York City and the Colorado Rocky Mountains, if only to finish with a flourish. There would be no University. Instead Oxenberg went directly to Studio 54 where she was hired in a Public Relations capacity. This was the 'gateway drug' that introduced her to everyone and everything she would ever need for the rest of her life. A Pandora’s Box to be used with great care. The culmination, to date, is a heap of published books, a great deal of wonderful experiences including five magical years in Southern Colombia (not a hostage). Throughout her adventures Oxenberg always wrote. www.wooldomination.com ❤︎ All books available on Amazom.com

SUNDAY STORY 👱‍♀️ CHILD

Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

The boyfriend and I and his mutt Max made a plan to meet in a public place with a mother and her five year old. Two tourists approached asking to have their photograph taken. Turned out they wanted their photograph taken with my boyfriend’s dog rather than this pretty lady, this former actress, this former model, she was already brushing her hair, primping. Once she understood she was not wanted for the photo she panicked. She became so flustered she uttered an absurd excuse and ran off, telling us to drop her kid back at her place later. She barely knew us.

We had a fine day with the kid. She gulped down three bowls of cereal. She laughed with us and rode the huge dog like a pony. At sundown we piled into the car to take the kid home.

When we dropped her off we lolled by the front door and watched as she ran to her mother who sat at the center of an airy living room on an ottoman encircled by friends, all women. The mother acknowledged the child standing beside her, and the child whispered something only for her mother to hear. The mother laughed and to her audience she repeated what the child had said. Everyone in the room laughed. The child froze and her confusion was palpable.

We tried to say goodbye but the kid started to cry, ‘Please stay. Please read me a story?’

I did. 

‘Please read another story?’

It was the boyfriend’s turn. 

‘Another, please?’ The little kid beseeched. We didn’t want to leave. But it was getting late and we were running out of excuses. When we left the kid was in her room, sitting on her bed, holding the story book and with tears in her brave blue eyes. 

Driving away the boyfriend and I didn’t speak because we were heartbroken to leave the kid in such an unhappy mess. One thing for sure is that kid never stood a chance.

YOU’RE WELCOME

www.johnmartini.com

I’m driving in the center of town and slowly coming up on a green light. 

Slowly because in the street are a family of tourists. I know they are tourists because they are in bathing gear and display a wobbly disheveled dawdling in the middle of the street. I park behind them. They don’t notice me. I lean out of my window and I say, in my softest voice, ’Excuse me,’ I ask sweetly, smiling, beseechingly. Harmless, right?

Mom and Pop look delighted to have been asked a question, not only happy to be on holiday but somebody needs something. They swell with importance and cast smiles at me. Good people. But this won’t help them.

‘Yes dear?’ They ask. The traffic light is still green but they seem wholly unaware.

‘Are you tourists?’ I ask.

‘Yes, why yes we are tourists’. 

And now I have them marinated and relaxed and I say, with a wide grin, ‘Do you have traffic lights where you’re from?’ 

Their smiles collapse.

‘They work the same here.’ I add, helpfully.

They know right away I’m the bitch in town and they’ve had the bad luck to cross paths with me. They look like they want to run away and I wonder why they don’t get on with it.

Then the barely clad bright-white skinned out-of-towners scatter off in their pod and away from me.

I purred bemused at the now red light.

A little later I parked and I was at once confronted with a couple of young ladies standing on the sidewalk looking anxious.  

‘Can I help you with something,’ I offered.

‘Chinese restaurant?’ One said, wide eyed and charmingly gullible.

‘Sure,’ and I gestured. 

‘Is it good?’ They asked. 

‘It’s exactly the same dog and cat you’ll get at any Chinese restaurant.’

They ogled each other scandalized. 

‘Enjoy Key West!’ And I was gone to my next errand, blade wiped clean and sheathed.

I should be compensated by the Florida Tourism Board.

CASTLES & COTTAGES

Grandpa’s Palace, Serbia
– Long story …

Growing up in England I was introduced to magical Scotland. 

America is the country of my birth but London was home and Scotland is where we went for holidays thanks to mother’s second hubby’s connections. In those days I had yet to see anything ugly. The worst had me in the backseat of a dark green Jaguar and building a wall of sweaters to demarcate a border separating me from my older sister.

Sometimes the stepfather lodged us in stark but cozy cottages with fireplaces in every room, and a bedroom with a crib with wooden upright bars in which I slept. Days we foraged shorelines, filling pockets with mollusks.

Seals basked on islets in lakes they call lochs, cattle have long chic coats and rambling hillocks are layered in purple heather.

Front-loaded with opulence as my life was, I saw only wonder. The ugly would creep in, but not for a long while, for which I’m grateful.

Other times we stayed in castles with moats. The ‘gardens’ were territories of intimate curation, from highly manicured walkways to creamy lawns and surrounding forests. And follies, grownup’s jokes, ideal for hiding Easter Eggs, and good for trysts. Whence the folly? The concept of a folly was wondrously mind-altering. With extreme civilization comes the need for play.

Whether cottage or castle my days were full of exploration, walks and daydreaming. The grounds, the gardens, the moors outdoors without walls were to be traipsed, and sometimes even Shetland ponies ridden, cantering recklessly alongside intrepid hounds.

Nighttime the grownups dressed in tartan sashes and swaths of velvet and precious pins of diamonds. The men tucked feathers in the fold of their knee-high socks. They wore kilts and swords in shiny hilts.

I espied them dance to the raucous sounds of spirited bagpipers, the jubilant guests pranced between the swords laid on the marble floors. 

Life is for love. Sweep the ugly into the darkness. Stay in the light and for heaven’s sake, look up!

BOULE

We lived in Morocco in the suburbs of Marrakesh.

We left a dinner party in the old part of town, crowded until you drove past thick doors of wood and metal and inside was another world. As is the Arab way of architecture so you never know what ’s going on behind the great walls.

Inside it’s all calm and uniformed servants and orange trees and gardenias and ornate everything and mosaic ceilings.

And the guests. Pairs of the strangest lovebirds. Including us, we didn’t really like each other but after nearly a year of marriage we were adjusting for the long haul, despite niggling reservations.

After dinner we thanked our hostess, Boule, as she insisted on being called which was odd since she was in fact exactly the shape of a very large bowling ball.

Boule stood on the steps of her manse and waved us all goodbye as cars pulled out of the driveway.

In every car I imagined the conversations. Everyone talking about each other, about the food, about their hostess, how she’s aged.

Their comments contradicted each others and overlapped in some places. I laughed alone in the dark of the back seat of the taxicab. Hubby never asked what had me giggling. I was outlining the play in my mind.

I envisaged a stage with cut outs of cars, each with a passenger or three. The stage is dark, only one ‘car’ is illuminated at a time, and then the actors in that car speak.

And maybe one car takes a slide toward the end, the denouement in Act 3? Who shall I kill? Boule?

I did start writing that play. It was to be a one-Act play but I lost that piece of work, along with plenty else.

It was supposed to be a simple observation on the steadfast human determination to have as few dealings with reality as possible.

Alone together we never spoke except to say ‘I love you’.

I killed my own character.

UPDATE ON MR FOURNIER

ps: This is not his house, it is his view, and it’s for sale 🐊

First off, he is alive and well and in his domicile. I know this because I took another drive up the Keys to check on him, worried his son had dragged him and his trailer to Connecticut.

I could not locate his domain last time so before taking off on the perilous route I made more precise plans.

The road was always a thing of beauty, now a mouldering toxin-leaching waste of shredded trailers still line the road. Plastic bags fly like flags in the mangroves.

The drive was always glorious and now is sad and even angry. There have been head-on collisions nearly daily. Half my local friends have been struck off their bicycles. This was never the case before Hurricane Irma. Her damage persists. 

A head-on collision on the drive up the Keys can add several hours to an otherwise short distance. There are no alternative routes. 

On your behalf and mine I made another try to find Mr Fournier. And like I said this time I was militaristic and focused. I found him. Not him exactly, his door was closed. But evidence of active life were everywhere. I placed a large box of books on the chair of his trike. 

You can be sure he’s smiling knowing we’re thinking of him.

With thanks to Suz of Key West Island Bookstore and Laurie Gero for the contributions! You made him smile, for sure.

 

SUNDAY STORY 🐣 IN THE SOUP

www.johnmartini.com

There was a husband, what the heck was his name? Anyway he fell ill, this was wintertime and we were living in Paris. I said ‘No worries darling I’ll take care of you!’ and I thought, how does one care for the sick? 

Chicken soup of course. Off I went to a butcher and that’s where the problems began. I stared through a glass case full of chunks of meat and despite the fact my French is fluent I had no idea what to ask for, nothing looked remotely like what I had seen on plates delivered by waiters or butlers. 

The butcher was impatiently asking what parts I wanted, what type of meat I wanted, how much did I need, I said I don’t know, I’m making a soup. He spat up some guttural noises the way the French do and told me to buy a whole chicken. Fine, ‘Oui Monsieur, merci Monsieur’ and home I went with this hideous plucked but heavy football. I dumped it in a pot of water and because I’m not an idiot I set it to medium, not high! And waited. Eventually the water bubbled up and I proudly believed a healing home-cooked dinner was in the offing. 

Unfortunately the chicken and water experiment had not cooperated and had not turned itself into a soup. No, au contraire, now the chicken was a hiking boot of durable leather. Hubby refused to so much as taste this boot, so I poured some of the boiled water into a cup for him. 

The husband had misery in his eyes as he sniffed at the cup. 

‘I don’t want tea!’ 

‘It’s not tea!’ I laughed at him, ‘Silly! It’s chicken soup’.

But no, he could not be convinced, and that night he continued to sneeze and cough and we went to bed hungry. My cooking never improved. I wouldn’t say that’s what ruined our marriage but it probably didn’t help.

WARRIOR PRINCE OF SERBIA

HRH Prince Arsen of Serbia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies if I scared you with the revelation of my grandfather’s mother who I don’t disparage for being an inadequate mother, at least she knew her limitations. Not all women are maternal, meanwhile they are vilified for lacking it. Fathers however are given a pass. If you think Aurora was a sorry excuse for a mother let me tell you about Paul’s father. A dreadful parent, yet fascinating.

HRH Prince Arsen of Serbia was born in 1859 on a bordertown with Romania, where Serbian exiles sit things out. His was a military family with monarchial ambitions. He was a warrior long before he entered the Military Academy. He fought in every war he could find. And in peacetime he enjoyed challenging opponents to duels and he always aimed for the his foes in the family jewels. He caroused in Paris and in Russia.

He married Princess Aurora after his friend the Tsar urged him to, hoping it might calm him down, besides she was a prize with her fortune and string of titles, she was a fairytale Princess and available. The marriage was over before Aurora gave birth to their only child, my grandfather Paul, in 1893, St Petersburg.

As Aurora shopped around her son, trying to find him a home, his father Arsen was gone, enlisted and earning medals. He fought for Serbia in the first and second Balkan Wars and his excessive ferocity was noted and he was expelled from the Serbian Army at the start of WWI.   He was also permanently exiled from the country.

Arsen did not care. He fought for the Russians, he fought for the French, he fought in the East, he earned medals and praise in army circles. He liked a drink, enjoyed gambling and the pursuance of females. He saw his son Paul, his only child, almost never, and had no relationship with him.

My grandfather’s life was unusual and I never heard him complain. Paul was a gentleman.

PRINCESS 🦄

Princess and Countess Aurora Demidoff of San Donato

Aurora Demidoff is the mother of my grandfather HRH Prince Paul of Serbia. The instant he was born she did everything she could to give him away. When he was two he was dispatched to an uncle, permanently. Paul’s biological father, another peach, was already disinterested and long gone.

But for sure this affected young Paul, my sweet gentle grandfather, even if he never spoke about it, and never complained.

Princess and Countess Aurora Demidoff of San Donato had a fortune second largest in Russia after the Tsar. And her jewels are enough to make your eyes pucker. She had it all.

Outside her front door in St Petersburg the poor were walking to the docks and boarding ships for America.

Aurora only stared within and was generally miserable over one failed romance after another. She payed no attention to her son, or to politics and they never affected her life. She lived within a pearl. From my research she sounds like a Category 5 narcissist.

Dangerous beauty.

Aurora is Chapter 7 in my new book: DYNASTY- A TRUE STORY, the biography of my Serbian ancestors, starting with the hero of Napoleon Bonaparte

BUY BOOK AT:
USA

https://www.amazon.com/Dynasty-True-Story-Chri…/…/070437448X
UK
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dynasty-True-Story-Ch…/…/070437448X
OR direct from Publisher 📚
http://quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/dynasty/

SUNDAY STORY 🍲 NUTS

 

While driving around the south east, as a hurricane was eating up my home and I along with most of the state of Florida was running scared, I noticed everywhere were ‘boiled’ peanut stands. I kept meaning to stop, after all I have often lived exclusively on peanuts. But this business of boiling them was new to me.

At last, somewhere in Georgia I saw a booth with a painted board reading Boiled Peanuts. There was no one around but the vendor, a man with brimmed hat and beard.

First thing I did was ask exactly what is a boiled peanut.

The vendor crossed his arms and planted his feet wide and began a tedious explanation in a deep drawly accent about this being spiced and that being salted and I was getting a bit lost so I said, ‘Sir, if I could just try your basic regular boiled peanut, we could start from there.’

Frowning with disbelief he took a spoon and dipped it into some brackish stew and he produced one single blob, like a small but fat worm, curled and blanched, in the spoon.

He transferred this tragic looking object to me. I picked it up with my fingers and nibbled delicately at the edge of the soggy peanut.

He stared at me with chilly eyes and I saw a fleck of something in his beard and gradually the pronounced fiery taste of salt had invaded the entirety of my mouth.

I stared back at the vendor. A standoff at the peanut stand. He waited as I chewed and he eyed me. I already knew what I thought and I considered what I should say. To be polite or not, was the question.

‘This is,’ I said, as I swallowed the fragment with the vendor expectantly watching, and I hesitated because there was still time to divert and say something else, anything else. But no, on I went, ‘It’s disgusting.’

To be fair, he took it well.

KILLA

How does a dynasty evolve? Especially when the founder of the dynasty has no interest in any such thing. ‘Black’ George wanted to go back to his family, his farm. But he lost his footing and found himself at the mercy of his rival. And his rival took this opportunity to have him assassinated. 

George was never interested in a crown or a lineage but his widow Jelena encouraged her children to think of themselves as leaders and as representatives of Serbia while in exile or when they were back home. One of her grandsons would marry a princess from Montenegro. And that wouldn’t sound like any big shakes except this princess had a sister who went on to marry the king of Italy. In two generations Kara George the farmer had by strength of character created a royal dynasty. His grandson King Peter I built a fitting resting place for Karageorge Petrovic. Oplenac, the family crypt. The second largest mosaic church in the world. It has a chandelier made from melted swords. It has two floors with archways of mosaics and slabs of marble with names carved into them. I saw a Kleopatra. She died young and there she lies. 

George did not see any of this coming and he didn’t care for pomp. But he was so beloved by his fellow Serbs that it was beyond him to prevent. And his descendants were honored to carry the torch no matter what personal discomfort this brought them. No matter the normal lives it robbed of them. No matter that perhaps it was all a delusion. When you’re living on a border town in exile for decades how do you maintain any belief that you are going to go home and rule? Game of Thrones!

Arsene, the father of my grandfather, in peacetime would challenge anyone to a duel and shoot them in the nethers. Arsene was so dangerous he was expelled from the Serbian Army before the start of World War I.