Current conditions: Happy with a chance of ditzy

Friday, April 30, 2010

Swept Away


Today we had our rescheduled appointment with Dr. Phil. I wasn't sure how this one would go, for one thing K climbed into bed at 3:00AM and kept me up with her teeth grinding and kicking (I would have moved but it was sweet the way she curled up next to me) and it was scheduled for 9:00AM, which meant if I wanted to avoid traffic, get parking and a latte I had to leave before 8:00AM. Pacific Coast Highway traffic with no sleep can sometimes be dangerous. It wasn't too bad today, my iPod instinctively knew what songs to play and I didn't have to fight too much with the Sync chic. Besides the ocean was beautiful, the angry waves made for some beautiful whitecaps. I made it on time and unscathed, parked for free and got some java.

It's always a mystery where we will go in our session. Today D started with my email to my MIL, we talked a little about that, somehow the conversation steered back to my mother and why she gets me so angry. Then I brought the revelation I had about her keeping Evil Stepfather's last name, we discussed him for a bit and that's where we decided to park. Not really the direction I wanted to go but since we ended up there organically I went with it. I hate when I bite myself on the bum with my stupid insistence on organic conversation.

It's not like I'm avoiding this topic, in fact it's just the opposite, I'm sick of it. It's been talked to death in previous sessions with a therapist I saw after Starter Husband and I separated (I am such an LA stereotype). I don't want to go into specifics but clearly this wasn't a nice man, this is evident by his nickname and the fact that I cannot even say his whole name. Did growing up with this man in my house give me a "problem with men?" Of course not. Was it completely dysfunctional? Absolutely. Unhealthy? You bet. Did it scar me for life and cause all the problems I've ever had since? No. I believe this implicitly. I understand that what happened to me as a child was not my fault and I have not spent my life trying to make up for it. I'm not getting back at all of humanity because my mother married a complete jackass. I understand that growing up in such a house can cause irreparable damage to a person if they don't recognize and acknowledge the issues and then deal with them accordingly. I believe I have been dealing with them recently and living authentically at the same time.

I don't think the issues with my MIL are a result of my early life. I believe the refusal take her crap and play into the victim mentality are merely a result of my desire and insistence on living life as your true self. Sure maybe the fact that I didn't get to do that as a child has made this more important to me now but I don't see that as a bad thing.

Sometimes it may seem that I am sweeping this Evil Stepfather crap under the rug, but this is not the case (at least it isn't to me). I just refuse to spend any of my present living in my past. Dr. Phil wants to further explore certain aspects of this and while I see his reasons for wanting to doing this I don't see how it's going to do anything except dig up things that have been forgotten for a myriad of reasons. I trust my brain to keep unwanted memories locked away. I don't consider this sweeping it under the rug, or denial in any way. I think of it as a locked door of a room I have no need to enter. I don't have a PhD, MSW or any initials after my name but I know what works for me. This doesn't mean I won't discuss why he thinks this is important because I trust him wholeheartedly and the work he does with us has helped tremendously.

The only thing under my rug besides dust is most likely some Polly Pocket shoes and some old Fruit Loops.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Bull(y)


I remember certain things from first grade: my teacher Mrs. Kesting, the lunchroom and by best friend who lived down the street. I remember playing with classmates who were all kids from my neighborhood. Quiet, friendly, idyllic. Nothing really sticks out in my mind. K's school is kind of the same, a small quiet little school where mostly everybody knows each other. The kids know each other as well and we rarely go anywhere without seeing a friend or two. They have playdates together, take the same dance, karate or gymnastics classes and go to the same doctor's office. When we have a problem we discuss it with each other because it's a nicer way to handle things. We email and text each other if we are running late and need to relay a message to our kids or have someone wait with them while we find parking.

I'm sure you get it, it's a great school.

At the beginning of this year K told me about a girl that wasn't too nice and never had her own snack. This girl would force the other kids to give her their treats and if they didn't comply she would threaten to tell the Principal. K was almost in tears when she told me this one day after I asked if she had finished all her snack. I was really just trying to make sure she didn't throw it out, that bugs me. She said that if she was nice to this bully girl and shared her snack the girl, M, was nice. I didn't like this at all and I told K not to give her anything anymore. "But she's gonna tell on me mama!!!" said my little girl, with actual fear in her voice. "I'm going to get sent to the Principal's office, the Prin-ci-pal!!" I found that funny for some reason. She did not. I then explained that surely the principal of her school had better things to do than listen to same tattletale bully narc on her classmates, especially when they did nothing wrong. I assured my scared first grader that even if she was sent to the office and I was called in I would raise holy hell and let them know what was going on. K felt better knowing that she wasn't going to get in trouble with me, I think she was still worried about what the principal would think. I remember worrying about stuff like that too, it seems so ridiculous now but try explaining that to a 6 year old. I think I even wrote about this bully stuff before. It drives me crazy to see anyone make my daughter feel bad, I don't care how old the culprit is either. I'm not above telling off a child.

So time goes by, we receive daily accounts of the havoc M wreaks on the schoolyard, some of it seems a little far fetched but after listening to the other parent's talk I believe it all. I see it too, she's a clever one, always trying her best to avoid bullying in front of a grown up. Can't fool me though, I still have some 6 year old logic left in me, I don't like to get rid of things sometimes. I've confronted her face to face and she just looks right at me and lies. Impressive technique too, she does the sad puppy eyes and the "who me?" expression. Sorry kid, I ain't buying. The other moms are at their wit's end as well, yet nothing changes. The ones that have brought it up to M's parents always get a "I'll talk to her about that" but the bullying only gets worse. We have taught the kids to stick together, M really hates that which makes it even more effective.

Last night I emailed K's friend E's mom to confirm the next day's platydate, she said that E had soccer practice and would have to cancel. No biggie, I said we can reschedule next week. Then she asked if I heard about the day's drama. I had heard a bunch of the day's stories but no drama, and K was already asleep, I told her I had not hear anything but I hope everything was OK. She said there was drama involving M,E and K. Apparently M was picking on E again and using K to be mean. I felt the blood boil, this little sociopath was crossing the line. She said that E was fine, she knows that K is her friend and both girls know exactly what kind of girl M is. I know this, I have spent hours with K teaching her about people and why sometimes people do bad things. I have sat down with K and E together to show them how they can empower themselves and stick up for each other, I think it's important to start teaching kids at a young age not to be afraid to stand up for what is right. In fact we decided to keep the playdate and let them work it out before tag teaming them into another lecture from us. I understand that sometimes K has no choice but to play with M in a group situation. I understand that K will still be nice and polite because that's the way she was raised and I understand that I cannot stop M from following K around and trying to be her friend. I cannot understand selling your friends out to the enemy in order to avoid the punishment.

I spent a lifetime doing that and I will not sit idly by and watch my daughter do it. I sided with Evil Stepfather and punished my own father in order to appease my bully, K was not going to do the same thing to anyone in her life. When she woke up this morning I asked her what happened. After asking about fifty more times she finally told me. She knew it was wrong and she felt terrible, I asked her how it would feel to be in E's shoes and she felt even worse. She was supposed to go home with E afterschool, did she think that was still going to happen? That was punishment enough, I said the first thing she needed to do when she saw E was to give her a huge hug and her very best apology. I'm not one to force apologies but this one was warranted.

I told K that E still wanted her to come over and after hip hop she could go to E's house. She was grateful for that. Today I happen to be around school at dismissal time. I parked my car and made it to the gate by the bell. When K's classroom door opened I could see the look of disappointment on her and E's face, surely I was there to take K home. I gathered the girls and took them away from all the other kids. I asked E if she was OK after yesterday's mishap, she was. I asked her if K apologized for it, she had. I asked if they were still both excited about their playdate. They certainly were. I kissed them both goodbye and went on my way. I saw M eyeing me suspiciously as she walked out of the classroom, alone.

I needed to be sure things had been worked out and I wanted both girls to know that they were loved and their feelings were always going to validated. By now they are most likely abusing E's little brother who is loving every minute of it.

I wish I had someone teach me to stand up for myself when I was young, I wish I had the knowledge that someone always had my back. That I was worth the fight. In the long run it was me who filled that role. Since I'm so good at it teaching these lessons to K is actually easy. She has the hardest role in letting me. When she said goodbye to me on the playground I could see the relief in her face and the gratitude in her eyes. She'll get there. I'm a nice teacher but I'm tough and I give lots and lots of homework.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Up and down


My life, as well as everyone's I suppose, is full of highs and lows, ups and downs, good and bad. I've spent way too much of my life focusing on the bad and now I only want to experience the good. I know that is probably impossible but a girl can hope right? I've been having so much fun recently catching up with long lost friends I keep forgetting about the issues that are currently swept under my rug. They aren't dividing my house anymore so I tend to forget them. Unless of course it's Wednesday and we're at Dr. Phil's. Although today was Wednesday we did not go to our appointment. We're cured! Just kidding, D had to reschedule due to a scheduling conflict.

I thought a lot about what he said last week, I "marinated" with it for a while (a Dr. Philism). It was not easy as it was mother-in-law related. First he asked me what a confrontation with her would be like, I told him I most likely would not go after her the way I should, the way I would be justified in doing. I might be angry and pissed off but I'm not disrespectful, even if I don't respect her. He said what I need to do is to write her a letter, a no holds barred document that says everything that I need to say, in my language. Which basically means I should write a letter that will rip her apart. After writing this manifesto of hate I should promptly rip it up. Somehow this will make me feel better. I should have told him that it would not make me feel anything but annoyed that I can't say these things in person. I know this because the symbolically written diatribe is practically an invention of mine. I've been doing it for years and the only thing it does is waste paper. The OCD in me needs something a little more concrete. Either I will actually have to tell her off or I'll just have to deal with it. I like one so much better but nice Jewish girls don't yell at old ladies.

Then he said something else, what am I waiting for? Am I waiting for a response from an email I replied to weeks ago? Hmmm. Interesting thought. He was suggesting I call or email her, a sort of kill her with kindness approach. Or at least a completely disarm her as it would be completely unexpected. The thought of it actually made me laugh out loud. Right there on the comfy therapy couch, I laughed as I held my latte, I believe I even said "that's so not gonna happen" but in a more me kind of way. He also gave me a bunch of awesome quotes that I forgot to put on Facebook. Let's see if I can find one. Hold on.

Oh I love the internet, I couldn't even remember the philosopher's name so I looked up philosophers up on Wikipedia, scrolled the list and found it. It was a quote by Philo, I think he paraphrased but here's the actual quote:


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle


Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it, we all have shit that we're going through, apparently I need to be more mindful of this when it comes to my MIL. Fine, I can do this. She actually has lost a lot by her actions and I don't think she even realizes it. When she does, it will be epic. I took this into consideration. Then I thought about Dr. Phil, he knew that a face to face berating wasn't in the picture and he knows me. I always do the right thing, even if I don't want to, I'll still do it but I won't like it. So today, instead of going to therapy I sent my MIL an unprompted email with a picture of K's poster currently hanging in Target. I told her that I heard she was feeling better and asked about a trip she was supposed to take. I could actually feel Dr. Phil's satisfaction in this as he sensed this lack of disturbance in the Force.

Wow, I was so impressed with myself! I didn't let this take up any space in my head, I didn't get angry with myself or my MIL. Instead I had an awesome conversation with P, my very best friend from middle school, another wonderful Facebook connection. I hadn't spoken to her in years and it was so much fun catching up, we actually need to finish tomorrow, life has a way of interrupting my reunions. All of this catching up has given me a high that just won't go away.

I didn't even bother analyzing the reply to the email I sent because it doesn't matter anymore. I am at a better place. A place that even as of last week I never thought I'd see. I have completely (or almost completely) given up the anger. I'll never get to that low again but if I do I have so much to bring me back up again, and the list starts at home with D and K and now stretches across the country. I am blessed with a wonderful family and the most amazing friends. Real friends that don't let things like 20 years or 2500 miles get in the way.

Things are certainly looking up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reunited


So by now, anyone who has read any of my previous rants, or posts as I suppose they could be called, knows that I have a pretty sizable Facebook addiction. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing, in fact I've turned into quite the virtual social butterfly. I have an opinion on everything and rarely keep it to myself, where would be the fun in that? Anyway, I love catching up with friends old and new, from right and left coast and even a few in between. I am so enamoured with Facebook and unashamed to admit it. I've said it before but it bears repeating: where else can you get a second chance to reacquaint yourself with your all the characters from your previous chapters? Short of waking up and finding yourself in a movie a la "Peggy Sue Got Married" when an adult Kathleen Turner wakes up after passing out at her high school reunion only to find herself in her own past. The ability to go back to the past with the benefit of my life experience is like a dream come true. No longer being shackled with a dysfunctional family (not that we're normal around here) gives me a strong and clear voice which I like to use when I'm arguing politics or cooing over baby pictures. I do both with a similar gusto.

Facebook is also good for finding those friends with whom you've lost touch and can't find on places like zabasearch.com or by googling. I think by now I have located all the players in my life story, including Starter Husband, who I found while bored one day. Actually last Wednesday my list was finally made complete. I had been searching for years to find my childhood best friend and next door neighbor AW. We had both moved out of our respective homes as did our parents. I had no idea where she went, where she ended up or what her name was now. I suppose it was the same for her, I had not only moved around in New York a few times but I made it all the way out to California. I had married, divorced and married again moving each step in that process as well. To make it worse there was a time when Evil Stepfather made us all use his last name, you may read all about my issue with his name here. Life had taken us in very different physical directions and we were both impossible to find.

Along came Facebook, within days of joining about 2 years ago I had a nice little group of about thirty friends, every day more were added, D had joined way before me and had hundreds of friends. I trolled his friend list and soon my numbers added up, I was exploring one day and stumbled upon a page that was created for the people who grew up in my old neighborhood. Perfect! I recognized a few names and promptly added them, that list grew and grew and soon I had most of the kids that went to elementary school with me as friends. I kept searching for AW but nothing ever came up. She was a year older than me so I never saw her tagged in class photos, to make matters worse she didn't go to my high school, she went to a special high school for gifted artists.

We were thick as thieves and spent much of our childhood together. I would take refuge in her house while hiding from Evil Stepfather and she would do the same in mine when her mother was mad at her. Her dad was the coolest guy I knew (next to my own dad, who by that time I think I stopped seeing in an effort to protect myself from torment in my house). Her dad took us to White Castle for sliders. He took us to Shea to watch the Mets and every Sunday I would beg to join them at the flea market where he sold movie and sports memorabilia. I just wanted to be with them, AW was a better "sister" for me and I adored her father. In fact, I would spend most nights dreaming about what would happen if my mother and AW's father fell in love and ran away together (taking us, of course). I believe to this day that they would have been truly happy together, something that my mother has never known. Obviously none of this happened, it was a nice dream though.

So last week I did another search for AW and to my absolute delight a new profile popped up with a picture of what I was pretty sure was my long lost friend. I clicked on it and sent a brief message asking if it was my AW. The next morning I was thrilled to find out it was. My Facebook life was now complete. We immediately started texting and emailing, our ridiculous schedule and children made phone calls tricky at first. I think it was Monday when we finally spoke although it feels like no time has passed at all. We went right into the details of our lives, many of them scarily similar, even down to the modeling careers of our children. It's like we're kids again, she has not changed at all, in body or spirit. Really, I've seen the pictures, she looks exactly the same and sounds like the happy girl she always was. She lives near my dad too, so the status of the visit we were thinking about taking this summer went from "maybe" to "definitely." This would also afford the opportunity to see other besties that ended up down there! We discussed our feelings on child raising and wouldn't you know it we were in complete agreement. She's raising her son with the same philosophy that we use with K. Our kids are even a year apart just like us, wouldn't it be just perfect if they grew up and got married? Carrying out the destiny their grandparents were not able to fulfill? Yes, I know, I'm getting carried away, can't help it. I just reconnected with the one person in my life who was with me through it all, the ray of sunshine in the thunderstorm that was my childhood.

Once again I have written another homage to Facebook, this one is surely deserved. It has brought me back full circle but this time I am in charge and this time we will not lose each other!

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

Anais Nin

Monday, April 26, 2010

School Spirit


Sunday was the Spring Carnival at K's school, it's not only the biggest fundraiser of the year it's also the most fun. Who doesn't love silent auctions, game booths, junk food and face paining with all your friends and classmates? At first we weren't supposed to be there. K was booked on a job and then released at the last minute (which prompted my Friday carbfest). I was unable to commit to volunteer which I'm sure put me on the shit list of all the "super-involved" parents, but I didn't care. I do enough, I happily (well not that happily) handed in my check for the "Annual Gifting Program," I buy overpriced paperback at the Book Fair, I always volunteer to do traffic safety and I have enough "school logo" items to look like I work at the school.

I'm sure it's the same at all schools, there are those parents that feel the need to do it all and are on every committee, every function, every event. They are the ones that give people like me friendly but condescending looks. Too bad this is a small school and I know their secrets as well as all the stories about their "perfect" kids. I do what I feel is the right amount of volunteering for my family. On Saturday we went to a birthday party for one of K's classmates, all the parents were talking about the next day's festivities and their volunteering slots. Oops. I told them the reason I couldn't sign up and I was given a pass. They think K's modeling stuff is cool, they were happy that we were going to be there so our kids can all play together. Then they talked about the cakes they were baking for the Cake Walk. Oh crap, I told K that we would do a cake for the end-of-the-year party and not the carnival. Once she hears her friends are making cakes, she is so going to want to make one. I preemptively decided to tell her that we could make a cake, we'll figure out the design later. She was excited, then the whole impromptu Grilled Cheese party happened. The plan was to go to the store, buy what was needed, go to the Grilled Cheese party (because I was NOT missing that, it was so important I capitalized it) for a bit and then come home and bake.

We came home and dropped off the cake supplies, by then we had decided to do the Book/Movie theme and The Wizard of Oz immediately came to mind. We discussed the design and came up with a yellow brick road over a green field (this would be perfect for the green fondant we already had left over) with ruby slippers standing on it. Perfect. Off we went to our friends R and N, I reminded D that we could only stay a couple of hours. As soon as we walked in the door they told us that they were making mojitos. Hmmmmmmmm, that changed everything, what was I supposed to do? Mojitos and grilled cheese trumps baking. We would just have to wing it. We stayed later then originally planned and I had three mojitos which was more than I had planned.

K was half asleep when we placed her in her bed but wanted D to stay and cuddle for a while. I had to decide what to do, I needed to finish my blog for that day, make a cake and pass out. I decided to at least try and get the cake in the oven. I prepared the batter and realized that I put in whole eggs instead of egg whites, D was still in with K so I was able to remake the batter without any ridicule. I put the pans in the oven and finished my blog. By the time the cakes were done and cooled I was asleep on the couch missing MGMT on SNL (thanks goodness for DVRs).

In the morning we all got to work and the old saying "too many cooks" didn't apply, it was chaos but it was fun. D decided he was going to tackle the ruby slippers and made a small batch of fondant, he did pretty well for a rookie. In the end we were happy with the results. We got dressed and headed out the door. D dropped us off at the school so we would have less of an opportunity to drop our cake. We found out where all the other cakes were and and learned that we were too late for the contest, the judging took place at 10:30AM, right around the time I was building the yellow brick road. That didn't bother us (we knew our cake kicked ass!) we were worried it wouldn't make it to the Cake Walk, they assured us that it would. Great, I brought it out to the prize table and went off to search for D. I think I got about ten feet before I spent $30 on a first grade tote bag. I found D and K waiting at the face painting booth, he already had a bunch of tickets in hand.

We spent the day eating, drinking and playing games. We saw friends, neighbors and classmates who were also eating, drinking and playing. The school was raking it in and we were happy, I don't know how many times we went back to buy more tickets. We didn't care, all the money comes back to us when K goes to dance, PE, art and computer lab. We didn't complain about spending $4 for a tiny latte because it meant K has a school nurse to go to when she falls (and she falls a lot). At the end of the day I don't know how much we spent but it was plenty and that was fine with us. We did our part, as far as I'm concerned enjoying the day and making a sizable "donation" better served the school then the two hours I would have given. Plus the Cake Walk raked in a ton of cash, we actually couldn't leave the school until K saw our cake go home with a happy family.

All in all, it was a lovely day. K still has her braid of blue and green, we do not have another cake in the house and in a few weeks I'll have another canvas tote bag with K's whole grade on it (to match the one I bought last year). We supported our school and had a great time. If one of those pseudo "alpha moms" dares to look at me in that "I do more" kind of way I will just laugh (and most likely roll my eyes) and relish in the fact that I do not need the whole school to know the scope of my involvement.

I actually graduated from elementary school a long time ago, maybe it's time they did as well.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taking a break


But not for long, just tonight. I started writing about the carnival at K's school today and it made me tired. That was probably a result of the three mojitos and fifty grilled cheese sandwiches I had last night, or it could be the cake I started to bake at 10:30PM for the carnival. We spent the batter, uh sorry better, part of the morning decorating the cake which was based on The Wizard of Oz. Then we spent all day at the carnival. D had to work after that so K and I decided the only rational thing to do after all that baking was more baking. She was upset that there was no payoff for all our cake making. So back to the kitchen we went and made a dozen perfect vanilla cupcakes covered in strawberry icing. It was actually a wonderful way to end the busy carb filled weekend we had.

So I sit here suffering from exhaustion, carb-loading and some pretty bad allergies trying to explain why I can't write tonight. I feel bad for this and have the need to explain in detail why I won't have a blog post for today. So instead of a lengthy explanation that would most likely be longer than the post I am too tired to write I will simply say goodnight.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Coffee Revelation


I look forward Saturday mornings, D takes K to her piano lesson and I enjoy a quiet few hours to myself. This morning I dedicated the start of those hours to catching up with everyone I've ever known via Facebook. I did some emailing, read a few news stories and searched for my iPhone which contained messages that needed to be returned. One of these was from my mother, I was about to call her back but I was unable to move. I just sat there staring at her name on my phone. Then I was hit with a realization that was long in coming. She kept her second husband's last name. I held a constant stare. She kept HIS last name. I suddenly felt sick thinking about this. SHE KEPT THE NAME OF MY TORMENTOR. I put my phone down and never returned the call. Then I sent a text to D and told him my morning revelation, he thought it was quite an epiphany for my conscience mind. I do love a smart man.

I've made comments to her in the past but it never really hit me. Lately with all the emotional growing I've been doing, lots of things have surfaced including memories that I have forgotten for a reason. I sat there stunned. Every time I see her name I am taken back to a place I left years ago. Every time I have to call her from my car I have to say his name which for some unknown reason she kept. This goes deep, I have not repeated this man's name in decades, yet every interaction I have with my mother is a constant reminder of the one person on earth whose death would make me happy.

I so desperately want to call her and ask again, but this time with anger behind it instead of the usual casualness, that's the only way she will know that I am serious. I'm sure I'll get a stupid answer like "I never knew how" or worse "I never thought about it." I wonder if she knows the effect it had on me, or if she ever thought about it. I realize now that besides all the other reasons I have to be angry with her this is one that could have been avoided. At the end of their marriage all it took was some prompting from me to kick him out, it was that easy. Clearly she had no love for this man, why on earth would someone spend every single day of their life with a changeable reminder of a terrible person? If for some reason she had tattooed his name on her body would she have kept that as well? Even Johnnie Depp changed his "Winona forever" tattoo, and the worst thing she's done as far as I know was get busted for shoplifting.

I can't believe I never realized this. She is a walking, talking reminder of my dysfunctional youth. It's like someone put a "kick me and keep me down" sign on her back only she knows it's there. It's no wonder I cringe at certain moments like when she repeats her name, calls me or sends a package to K. I am dumbfounded as I write this. I spent the whole day thinking about this. We all went to a birthday party and had a nice time in a beautiful park talking to a few of the cool parents from K's class. The whole time I kept thinking do these people have lunatics in their family? Are they able to to bring issues to the table and discuss them? Maybe on the next playdate I'll ask one of them. The party ran late and we missed the Grilled Cheese Festival, some friends who went and were disappointed by it decided to have their own contest had invited us over. I was tired but we all needed a change of scenery. I'm so glad we went, I was in cheese heaven, still numb from my morning realization, the three mojitos I had helped immensely. So did the amazing grilled cheese creations our friends cooked up, I think if any of the three varieties of sandwiches they made were in the contest they would have won, hands down!!

I was happy for the distraction and realized that I have a wonderful life out here in Los Angeles. My friends have become my family and I enjoy each and every one of them, their differences and quirks make them all special to me. These are people that, in a way, were hand picked by me to fill a void left by the happy family that I never had. As we ate (and ate and ate and ate) and drank we watched our kids play, we talked about music and movies and the stupid things that happened to us during the week. I didn't have to think about the stupid last name my mother still goes by, it didn't matter. My life is about moving forward now, enjoying the good times and living in the moment. Sharing food, drink and memories with people who we actually want to share our time.

The next time I talk to my mother I'm going to tell her how absurd it is that she has branded herself so poorly. Maybe she feels the need to punish herself, it's a ridiculous cross to bear. It's one thing to not go back to her first married name, one we shared at the time, she also had issues with her first husband, my dad. Too bad, it's the middle name we gave to K and one that I keep as well, it would be a nice link to share with my mom's beloved granddaughter. Why wouldn't she go back to her maiden name? It would have been a loving tribute to the parents that she loved and adored until their death. Instead she chooses to honor a marriage that was the better choice to being alone. Sounds insane to me. If it was a financial choice (and I doubt it) I would think that the funds for her shoe obsession could have been put to better use by cutting the link between a wretched past and a free present.

While talking to D this afternoon he said "...a rose by any other name would smell as sweet..." Umm, I have to disagree, first, this was no rose garden and second, there are some stinky flowers. Besides how sweet does a rose smell after a dog pissed all over it?

Not that great huh?

Cheesy fun


For those of you in Los Angeles looking for a different activity for your Saturday I highly recommend The Grilled Cheese Invitational. Yup, your dreams have come true, a festival of sorts dedicated to that rainy day staple the grilled cheese sandwich. We will be attending following a brief stop to a birthday party. Seeing the Grilled Cheese Truck will be worth the price of admission!

The Grilled Cheese Invitational
12:00pm – 6:00pm

Los Angeles Center Studios
1201 West Fifth Street
Downtown Los Angeles

For all info click here.
$10 tix available now!
$15 @ event

Friday, April 23, 2010

Carbicide


I had a stressful week (like always) and it culminated with news that I didn't want to hear about a job K was booked for on Sunday. A job she wanted to do badly because she would be with her friends, she was released and I had to tell her. She was actually OK with this news, I was not. For a second I turned into a scary stage mom, how could they release her? Seriously, she's amazing, what the hell is wrong with these people? I even emailed K's agent. Then I got over it, who needs another day on my feet and pictures I'll never see. As long as she wasn't upset I was OK, the reason I was excited about this particular job besides the fact that it was on a Sunday and K's friends were on it, I love the mom of one of the girls and I never get to just sit and chat with her. It would have been fun for both of us. Oh well, on to the next.

When I told D about it, he told me to chill (I did) and not to get emotional about it, he understands that I do a lot of work getting K around town and I like to see a payoff. Like I said, I got over it. K and I went to buy a birthday present for a party tomorrow I almost forgot about. At the store I bought the boy some kind of toy that boys around 7 like, I forgot what these things are called but I was assured they are popular. Then K saw a doll that she always wanted, a Moxie Girl, made by MGA to replace the scarily slutty Bratz dolls. She was kind of cute, she wasn't dressed like a skank and she looked just like K. Plus she came with removable hair and had glasses. "Please, oh please mama!!! I always wanted her, remember???" Yes, I remembered and I still felt bad for the job thing so I bought it for her. I was actually going to buy it for her during the holidays but I had bought her so many dolls I really didn't want to get her another one. Besides, she was really cool and on sale.

As soon as we got home she drew pictures of "Sophia" and wanted badly to dress like her for our Friday night dinner. Dinner, crap I actually forgot about that. Thankfully we stuck to our Friday night out tradition. When D came home I figured we would have the usual "where are we going?" conversation but all he said was "do you mind a bit of a drive?" Oh does that man know the way to my heart or what? I knew that he meant a drive into Hollywood to Vito's, my New York pizza joint. D knows that when I get upset, even if it's over something stupid, the only food that will comfort me contains a high percentage of carbohydrates. Pizza does that for me, not any kind, it has to be good, it has to be authentic and it has to be Vito's, a place I found after extensive research and taste testing.

So off we went to Hollywood, home of our pizza haven, and it's not just me who craves this place, K will eat anything that is placed in front of her at Vito's. She will easily eat two slices, it might not seem like much but for a kid that doesn't eat anything without refined sugar it's monumental. I felt better earlier but I instantly felt at home as soon as I walked through the door of my tiny slice of heaven in Los Angeles. We sat, had some wine, beer and lemonade (our respective drinks of choice) and waited for our food. We discussed the events of the day, in our house and the world. We watched K tell our waitress our life story and her weekend plans, which include a Grilled Cheese Festival (no I am NOT kidding ) this prompted a huge discussion in the restaurant and K was proud to be the source of such valuable information. After eating a mountain of pizza she wanted more and asked for some fresh melted mozzarella on top of her cheese slice. I think the Food Network is rubbing off on her, adding fresh buffalo mozzarella to pizza is devine and something I will order on our next visit.

As we were winding down from our dinner, I felt the relaxation take over me, something I usually can attribute to the wine but since I only had one glass and two slices of pizza I can say it came from the food and the company. A cheesy carbfest with my family is the perfect end to a long week and one of the things guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

Since I banned carbs from my diet things like pizza became a treat instead of a staple, good thing too, because if I had discovered Vito's before my carb ban it would have been impossible to lose weight. It was easy before, the pizza options here on the Westside are poor and that's being nice. Not that it mattered, I still had it plenty of times. It's like that saying "there's no such thing as bad pizza," unless of course you're from New York, then it's more like "there's no such thing as good pizza in Los Angeles." I can't believe how many carbs I have wasted on bad pizza, I wonder if it really made me feel better, maybe that was the wine!

It doesn't matter, we've found the place that makes us happy and since we don't go very often it's always a treat. The fact that it's fantastic makes it a perfect treat and D, K and I each have different reasons for loving it. It's the one place that we always agree on and every time is wonderful. It's not just the good food, it's a small intimate place and everyone there is friendly and happy. It feels like I'm back home in New York with my husband and daughter, something that has actually never happened.

When I'm running on empty and need a jump start this is the place for me. It's also the only time I will never complain about putting un-pure food into my body, in fact I usually have more carbs in one meal at Vito's than I do in a normal week.

That's how we do it in NY right?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The fittest loser


I don't watch that show "The Biggest Loser" but I've seen it teased and I get the general premise. A group of overweight people compete to win $250,000 by losing the highest percentage of weight. They do this with temptations, challenges, workouts and weigh-ins. The trainer for this show is a woman named Jillian Michaels, apparently this woman had a weight problem as a child, discovered kickboxing and now has a rocking body. She also peddles her own brand of diet pills on her website, in February of this year a Los Angeles County lawyer filed a lawsuit against Michaels for false advertising the suit seeks prohibition of sales as well as $5 million in damages.

That's about all I really know, I've seen commercials with her for diet things but I don't pay attention. I also see her picture sometimes in my trashy but beloved OK magazine, that's the extent of my knowledge on this person.

Until today.

Today Huffington Post ran a story on a recent interview Michaels had with Woman's Health:

'Biggest Loser' trainer Jillian Michaels has a hard little body and she plans to keep it that way. Michaels, 36, tells Women's Health she is unwilling to become pregnant because of the way it would change her body.

"I'm going to adopt. I can't handle doing that to my body," she told the magazine. "Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a part of yourself."

Michaels, who is now 5'2" and 120 pounds of muscle, was overweight as a teen. She said she once weighed 175 pounds but lost the extra weight with martial arts, which she has practiced for 20 years. She is currently embroiled in a lawsuit over the efficacy of her diet pills.

Michaels also reveals in the interview that she dates both men and women.

"I've been in love with both," she said.


I posted this on my Facebook page and it set off a string of 25 disgusted comments plus one that didn't really see our point of view. For the most part we were all pretty sickened by her words. I understand that there are some people who do not want kids, that's their business, there is no right or wrong on this issue you simply make the best choice for you and or your partner. I feel the same about marriage but I believe I already discussed that. Saying that you are unwilling to have a child because of the way it will change your body and you won't be able to handle it seems pretty selfish. What does that say about Ms. Michaels own mother? She says that she would adopt because she can't deal with the effect on her body, nowhere in that sentence does it say anything about giving a child a loving home. She says "Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a part of yourself." First of all a child is not a thing, having a child, through birth or adoption is a selfless act not a selfish one. If she has a problem with pregnancy and her body changing she should not have a child at all, the first rule of parenting is putting someone else's needs first. If the worst thing that happens to you after a child is a change in body shape than consider yourself lucky. Having a child is a 24/7 commitment, it means giving up a part of yourself sometimes, and for most people it's done without question (at least most of the time).

We live in a country of choices and it is absolutely her choice to not have a child. She doesn't want to wreck her body? Again, her choice, a bit selfish in my opinion but isn't that the way of the world now? It's just shocking that she feels the need to let everyone know why she feels this way. The thing that got me was the "rescue" comment. Everything about her comments make me think that if she does ever adopt a child, they will spend most of their life hearing about it. This is all my opinion but after reading about this woman, these comments weren't unexpected. I hope I'm wrong, if she does adopt a child I hope it's for the right reasons, children have enough hurdles to jump these days.

I suppose what this all comes down to is choice, we make a choice and hopefully we are happy with it. We should all be grateful that we live in a country where we have the ability to make these choices and the freedom to voice our opinion if we disagree with them. We've worked hard to have these freedoms and may we continue to do so.

My advice to Ms. Michaels is to talk with her mother, ask how she felt when reading the comments about why her daughter doesn't want to have a child. There is no such thing as a perfect body, eventually we all get older. It's sad to think that one day Michaels will realize that she spent a lifetime molding and shaping her body all the while letting that body become the focus of her life. Personally, I don't see the appeal of being a slave to my own form.

A soft belly will always beat a narrow mind.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tomorrow is another day


We all have a little Scarlett O'Hara in us, I just seem to have slightly more than a little in me. I'm not talking about the wearing of curtains to get my man part, although I have been known to dress a certain way for a boy. I mean it in the "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow" way. I suppose also in the "If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again" way, but that's a rant for another day, I'll write about that tomorrow.

I have a nasty habit of putting things off, not the urgent stuff, I'm pretty diligent about that, but the things I really don't feel like doing. Phone calls, doctor appointments, filing, closet organizing and other various lame tasks. Sometimes I put some things off for days, some things may take me weeks to finish and then there are those projects that I really do not want to deal with, those can take years. Think I'm kidding? Look in my hallway closet, inside it you will find bins full of K's old clothing. When she started preschool I finally had a few hours to go through her closet, for days I cleaned, organized and donated. I gave away giant garbage bags full of cute little baby and toddler clothing and kept the things that were truly sentimental. Left over were piles of extremely high-end outfits, things that retailed for $200 but were purchased for about $20, my bargain seeking thrills paid off in spades for my little girl. I figured that I could somehow recoup some of the money I had spent and use it for future outfits, it was a brilliant idea. Surely there were people out there on Ebay willing to buy hardly worn designer clothes, I did a little research on what some of these items might sell for and I was astounded at the results. A pair of very worn Lelli Kelly boots was selling on Ebay for over $30, and they were really worn! I had a pair in mint condition that retailed for $90 but I found for $15, I could not only sell them but I could actually make a profit!

There are so many of these Ebay stores and they are all selling, I saw bids on almost everything I looked up, even the low end stuff. The two giant bins I had in the closet would surely reap a profit and give me some much needed closet space. I sorted the items by size, and vowed to get to work in a few days. Those days had a nasty habit of turning into weeks and months, before I knew it K had started kindergarten. OK, I never got around to doing this but now I could add to my bounty and went through the ritual of purging, piles for donating, friends and of course the Ebay bins. This time I was really going to do it!! I resorted and added a bin for shoes and accessories. Not only was I going to sell this stuff but I was going to have my own Ebay store. I was going to do this in a few weeks when I had some free days to commit to this project.

Well those days never came and once again a whole year went by. When K started first grade this year I was once again committed to my Ebay project which by then had become a nasty thorn in my side. I was going to do it this time but not because I wanted to but because it had become a joke that I didn't find funny. This year K's closet was literally overflowing. Most of the clothing I had pre-bought years ago had been worn and was ready to go, she also received clothing for her birthday and the holidays the year before that she didn't want to wear anymore. Modeling brought even more clothing and all of that needed to be hung up and put away, but before I could do that I needed to do the yearly purge. This was impossible because the old bins were all full and we have no room for more. This past weekend K did a shoot for one of our favorite labels, Tralala and was generously paid with a ton of clothing, it's sitting in her room right now, waiting to enter the closet.

So once again (for the tenth time) I am making my plan to get this stuff out my door. The easy thing would be just to give it away but that would do nothing to cure my horrible case of Scarlett O'Haraitis.

I have turned a simple project into a monumental undertaking. I have once again turned another molehill into a giant yet stunningly beautiful mountain. I'm going to do it this time, really. I actually don't have a choice in this anymore, I can no longer find anything in K's room.

Tomorrow I will assess the bin situation and figure out an effective way to get through this, I may once again need to make a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy more, oh I hate to say it, bins. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, once I empty these bins they can then be used for storage of the dolls and toys that are lost somewhere in the vast wasteland we call K's closet. I will have to do the bulk of this next week, the next few days are, of course, full of activities.

I will get through this, I have to, writing about it means it's out there and I can no longer hide from it. Besides, I know that once D reads this the jokes and comments will be flying, giving me even more incentive to finish this. How great will it be to cross something off my list, something that's been on it for years.

Now I just need a name. How about Scarlett O'Glamour? Garments With the Wind?

I welcome suggestions, clearly they are needed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Alone at last


Well, technically I'm not alone, K is home but fast asleep and D is out releasing some testosterone. I can write, eat something bad (I won't) and even put on the dreaded television for some mental junk food. I promised I wasn't going to do the latter but the buzz on that Glee show was too big to pass up, besides it's always good to catch up on the latest item of hip. I don't know this show but the dancing is cool and I haven't heard a Madonna song in ages and anything Jane Lynch does is awesome. I can sing alone without witnesses, cool.

Today was long, sort of. At least he beginning of it was, I took off for my focus group at 7:40AM, if you know me you know this isn't the best time for me. I sat in bad traffic hoping to make my 9:00AM appointment, I now have sympathy for anyone that works anywhere near downtown Los Angeles. Luckily the traffic dissipated on the 110 and I arrived early, like always. I checked in and was told that purses and cell phones are forbidden. What? I understand, but didn't like, the cell phone thing but telling a girl to lose her purse is just cruel. I returned both items to my car and walked onto the convention center floor feeling naked. I signed a confidentiality agreement but it didn't say I couldn't discuss what I did. Armed with my own Palmlike device I was asked to give my opinion on the designs of eight different vehicles based on the exterior only, it was cool knowing that these were vehicles that the public has not yet seen. After that we moved into another area with two more vehicles, one that seemed to have been specifically built just for me.

After a few more evaluations we were shown the inside of the vehicles that the little Palm device thought we liked the best. Then it became interactive and I was able work one on one with an evaluator who plugged all my notes into my Palm thing. After that I was thanked and given a check and some coffee. It was fun, informative and lucrative. Seriously who gets paid to look at cool cars and then rant about what you don't like about them? I was out early and made it home just in time for the sky to open up and clean the city with a lovely afternoon downpour.

I had enough time to grab some lunch and umbrellas before picking up K. I decided to forgo the afternoon activities and enjoy the rainy afternoon lounging around in sweats with my little gal pal. We were happily relaxing in the dark living room, enjoying the nothingness when all of a sudden the sun came out. What nerve! We decided to ignore it and snuggled under a blanket some more, until the heat became oppressing. This was much nicer than the karate class we were supposed to check out, we can do that next week right?

After I put her to bed I snuggled some more, but then I had a choice to make. Do I stay curled up with K or do I enjoy the solitude? I stayed with her until she fell asleep and watched her for a bit. Her sweet puppy breath on my neck was hard to leave, it always is, so I stayed a little longer and then escaped quietly.

Ahh, alone at last. The funny thing is I did what I always do, I checked Facebook, read some emails and caught up on the news. Sometimes I crave the solitude so badly but when I get it, I never know what to do with it. It was fun to watch a television show that has the potential to be a guilty pleasure, doing it without the ribbing I would no doubt receive was nice. The irony is the ribbing is what makes the watching that much better.

What I should do is go to sleep, I feel that if I retire to my bed I will be wasting something that I need for my mind just to satisfy the needs of my body. I think I'm going to choose sleep, I can't remember the last time I was in bed before 11PM. Maybe if my body is rested my mind might follow suit. I'm going to test this theory now. I don't think there's a rule against spending my alone time sleeping. Especially if I go back to the empty spot I left in K's bed.

Besides I'll be alone tomorrow when she's at school.

Goodnight.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Survey says?


I discovered online surveys when K was about 6 months old, she took frequent naps and while I was encouraged to sleep when she did, I was unable to nap during the day. Television wasn't really an option, although it might have helped put me to sleep, my concentration was fried so catching up on my reading wasn't a possibilities. I did what every new mom does, I went to the Internet. After reading everything out there on the care and feeding of a baby I started exploring the vast Internet wasteland and somehow stumbled upon a site for all things bargain. Cool, just my kind of place. I learned about all the tricks to find bargains, coupons, free stuff, price mistakes, secret shopping, product testing and surveys. They were a way to kill some time, try new products and even make some money. I applied to the top rated survey sites and started getting emails daily. Some surveys were quick some were long and some ended with an invitation to try and test a new product. I loved those the best.

At any given point in time there was a myriad of products all over my house that had a "research only" sticker on it. I tested everyday items like make-up, shampoo, toothpaste, electric toothbrushes, toilet paper, moisturizer (high and low end), laundry detergent, body lotion, shower gel, lots of food products and a bunch of cleaning products, I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch of things. I also got to beta test a photo printer which I received after it was released to the public. Then I started Mystery Shopping, which was cool, I got to go to various food, dessert and coffee chains, eat for free and evaluate the place. If you ever thought food companies didn't care about what goes on in their franchises, think again. I also mystery shopped high end places for a nice lunch and got paid to do it. It got to be too much though, the companies would keep calling me and I had K to take care of as well. I did it for a while, not so much for the money but because it was fun and it gave me an infinite of pleasure to reward great service and punish the bad.

The surveys were even fun, a few clicks and I would earn points to turn into checks, gift cards or some cool rewards. Some of the surveys paid a lot, an invite to take part in an online forum once or twice a day for a few minutes every day for a week or two could get you $150, not a fortune but certainly worth a comment or two on a message board. I do that every day anyway, might as well get a pair of shoes or something out of it.

Once K was in school all of this stopped, I still got survey invitations and if I was bored I would fill them out, I also stayed on with the company that did cosmetic product testing, that was awesome! I still have point balances at a few of them, I'll be cashing those in this week before I forget. Maybe I can find something cool.

I got a new car back in August and filled out the satisfaction report with the dealer, I checked off the "do you wish to be contacted" box just for old times sake. Yesterday we got a call asking if I wanted to take part in an auto industry focus group, well yes, I certainly did. I went through the pre-qualification process and was asked to participate. They would require three hours of my time to look at, discuss and try out new features for a "well known automobile maker" and in return they would hand me a cash incentive for my time. Since I know who makes my car, I'm pretty sure I know the "well known automaker." Honestly, I would do this for free. I love to see what they have in store for customers and I am so picky I might be able to help out a fellow driver. Besides at least ten times I day I make some kind of statement about wishing someone would have consulted me when they built my car. This is going to be a dream come true for a former survey junkie. I'm pretty sure I'll be signing twelve kinds of confidentiality agreements so I need to write about this now, while I still can. Not that the product testing police would come after me but I like to honor my agreements.

Once I did a test for a new deodorant and I had to sign and return a three page document, then halfway through the test I got an urgent letter from the company asking me to please return any unused portion of the product in the enclosed Priority Overnight Fedex envelope when the test was complete. If I was unable to do this they would arrange to have the product picked up from my home. I was told under no circumstance should I throw the unused portion in the trash. Um, OK, I think that was a little much, especially for a product that was only average, and it was deodorant. Seriously, I highly doubt that corporate spies from Lever or one of those companies were camped outside my home just waiting for me to trash my unlabeled deodorant.

So anyway, that's what I did for fun for a while, I was able to try out some pretty cool products, have some free meals and voice my opinion on a number of subjects. I almost wish I had the time to do that now, it was kind of cool. I'm looking forward to the focus group tomorrow, if I were to go back to the original website that started this and wrote about tomorrow's group it would spin them into a frenzy. This is like the holy grail of surveys.

I hope I can teach them a thing or two!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pure Joy in 65 Hours


My weekend begins at 3:00PM when I pick K up from school, to kickoff it off we start with our traditional "Friday Treat" and it's always K's choice. I can trace this one back to the first Friday after K's first week of Kindergarten. We discuss the events of the week and our plans for the weekend. If there are no auditions we usually go home and rest for a bit and then get ready for another tradition, Friday night out. I don't remember when this one started but we've been doing it for years, I'm pretty sure the absence of a steady babysitter was instrumental in the formation of this weekly occurrence. We usually end up in the same places out of habit, by Friday evening we are all exhausted and none of us really feels like coming up with something new.

I love these dinners, even though we tend to spend part of it arguing with K who will order something and then decide she doesn't want it after it's served to her, or she'll eat some of her food and then proclaim "I'm DONE, I'm full" but insists on dessert. It hardly matters to me by then, I have had food prepared and served to me along with a glass of something red and wonderful. D is the same way, he'll be on her about eating but will always give in and let her have dessert, her happy smile is not only infectious but it's pretty convincing. We usually get home past her bedtime so with no time for a bath we just place our filthy child into her bed. Finally, for the first time all day D and I get to relax together (unless he has to work and then he's glued to his Macbook). We usually pour a cocktail and chill until Bill Maher comes on, we both love this show and look forward to it every week, unfortunately something about the show, the cocktail and my ridiculously comfortable couch that has me asleep long before his New Rules.

Saturday mornings I get a reprieve as D takes K to her weekly piano lesson, she hasn't been taking them too long but is doing extremely well. In fact a few days ago she was practicing and I thought it was D, then they did a duet that was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes. Her lesson starts at 9:00AM so they are out the door pretty early, after that they have breakfast together, it's a good few hours of solitude, I spend it wisely: I do nothing. I take my time enjoying some coffee, reading up on world news and usually put on a weekly cleansing mask (I try not to scare D and K with my beauty rituals). I take long leisurely showers and actually try to style my hair so it doesn't look like fried straw. It's around this time that I start to miss my family and send a "where r u?" text. I'm always happy upon their return and listen anxiously to K as she describes the feast she just shared with her daddy. I love that they now have their very own weekly ritual, is it strange that all of our traditions involve food? I'm going to say no because I think all Jewish traditions involve food and while D is not a MOT we consider him an honorary member.

After they return we spend some time discussing the plans for the day unless D has to work or K has a birthday party. In either case that means I'm off somewhere with K, like yesterday, D had to go in to work. We decided to make the most of the day and set out to Santa Monica for a stroll on the Promenade. We were thrilled to discover that there was an Earth Day Festival going on, it was cool, there were different vendors offering organic food, solar power information, green gadgets and eco-friendly toys. There were animals for the Star Eco Station (where K had recently had a field trip) and a “Sustainable Transport Village” which showcased high mileage and alternative energy cars. It was serendipitous and we enjoyed learning about high speed railways, llamas and fuel cell technology. Then we had gelato, actually K had gelato, I watched her eat it. We walked around for hours and decided it was time to go home after our fourth time petting the llamas, which by the way are so soft.

We came home, dropped on the couch and watched Chef vs City until D came home. I made a light dinner and we had a carpet picnic, which basically involves us spread out on the living room floor eating dinner, another weekend tradition. Today K had a photo shoot for Tralala, a company that she shoots for about twice a year. The owner/designer is a beautiful and talented French woman who adores K's sassy attitude (thankfully), D wasn't working and joined us. He never gets to see K in action, and while this wasn't one of the big productions that we usually end up doing, it's one of our favorite. I like to call it "guerrilla modeling" because they usually just set up and shoot, no specific shot list or set location. Today we were smack in the middle of Orange, a suburb of Los Angeles that has a timeless look to it, with quaint shops and cafes lining the streets. They snapped away while D and I watched them and everyone else watching them, it was quick and painless and at the end K was rewarded with a giant bowl of rocky road courtesy of her designer.

The car ride home was made more enjoyable by the not-so-soft sounds of K singing quite loudly to the kindie rock blasting from Sirius Kids Place Live. We both know every word to all the songs they are currently playing and poor D had to suffer through our off key singing. I actually think he enjoyed it, he's not used to these concerts in the car, for K and I it's how we usually roll. We spent some time together and then K was of to bed.

I know it doesn't sound like much but to me it's everything. I know that D and K enjoy spending the weekend surrounded by friends, and I like it as well. I could have easily made plans that involved lots of other people but I didn't want to. I didn't want to share them, I wanted to spend as much time as we could together, I didn't care what we did. I know that next weekend will most likely be filled with a lot of running around and most likely a huge budget photo shoot which is fine, I'm sure D will spend part of working and that's fine too. I have been recharged by the 65 hours that make up our weekend together. I'll be good for a few weeks now.

That's not going to stop me from waiting for the 103 hours to quickly pass after D and K walk out the door tomorrow morning.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bad stagemommy!


Before K could walk she had an agent, by the time she started walking she had already booked and shot her first job, a catalog for our favorite store Babystyle. By the time the catalog came out I had become a veteran of the business and knew the ropes like a pro, navigating around castings, go-sees and photo shoots with ease. I still remember the very first audition, it was for a Pampers commercial and I was nervous. Traffic was bad and I barely made it on time, I had no idea what to expect and when I walked through the door I was surprised to see a room full of babies and parents. I signed in and waited, so much for worrying about the time. I remember listening to all the other parents talking about the jobs their babies and other kids had already done and all the money they had made, they all seemed to know each other and everything that was going on in the business. I just listened quietly taking it all in, when it was K's turn I brought her in, they told me to place her on the mark and step aside. I put my baby on the X and stood by the door, she looked right at the camera and gave a huge toothless grin. They said "thanks, she's done" I went in and picked her up, I told them that this was our very first audition and they said she was great, most babies cry when their moms are out of sight, they said she'll be a pro in no time. They were right, a few months later she was working regularly and having a great time.

As time went by I managed to collect a group of friends, some veterans and some new like me, we were always happy to see each other and share the latest news and jobs our kids had done. I noticed that there were two distinct groups, the one I found, happy moms (and some dads) that ran around town with their kids having a good time and not really taking it too seriously. Then there's the other kind, mean nasty parents that will only talk to you if they can get information, these are the parents that ask to see your child's zed card and resume, the kind that drill your kid if they come out of the casting before their kid goes in, the kind that gives you the evil eye if you happen to have a kid that looks like theirs. These are the Stagemoms (and dads) that could care less what their kids feel about the business they are in. Once when K was about 3 we were on another Babystyle shoot, the kids were all playing and having a good time, the photographer was taking shots whenever he could and the director was running around with the kids wrangling them as they were needed. One of the boys around K's age was not into it, he wanted to play but he didn't want his picture taken the director and photographer just grabbed another kid for the shot, no big deal. The mom grabbed the kid and dragged hm aside and started yelling "this is work, you aren't here to have fun, you better do his!" I was shocked, for one thing the kid is 3, he doesn't know what work is, besides the photographer told them to have fun, the poor thing spent the rest of the afternoon crying until he was released. I never saw him at another Babystyle shoot again.

I hardly notice these moms anymore, K tends to work with the same kids and we always just stick with our friends at bigger castings. The worst of these moms I recognize immediately and just avoid them. Sometimes it's hard, these moms all know me because they know my daughter, I try to be nice and then hurry off somewhere or pretend that I just an urgent text or email, nine times out of ten they will say "Oh, I bet it's a job." Ugh.

We also try to avoid cattle calls, unless they are extremely convenient and close. We went to such a casting on Thursday, a casting that had been going on for three days, I told K that if it was super packed we would leave, we both agreed that 30 minutes would be the most we'd spend there. We walked in and it was pretty empty, mostly 2 and 3 year olds running around. We signed in and filled out a size card, while we waited we grabbed a seat and watched a movie that they had playing on the wall. I didn't know anyone and I could tell that most of them were new, they just had that terrified look on their face and none of them had a book (modeling portfolio). I tried to make small talk with some of them but they weren't too nice. One of them never signed in and was asking loudly "how do they call the kids?" I felt like being nice and showed her what to do, I told her to sign in and write the number that was now next to her kid's name on the size sheet, when they call that number it's her kid's turn. She barely said thanks and walked away, I just rolled my eyes (it's actually a reflex with me). The two guys next to me started to laugh, they actually worked with the people doing the casting, one of them said to me "gotta love the newbies, right?" I saw that mom's kid trying to run out of the studio when K was done.

Yesterday while I was waiting for K at school I got an email from K's agent, apparently we both had to a print audition, she was hoping D could join us (he could not). I tried to get out of it but once I told K she was excited to go in me, so we drove to Hollywood and I signed us both in. When the assistant came to get our paperwork she asked where my size sheet and headshot were, after I stopped laughing I told her that it was really just my daughter auditioning, she said that we were both on the list and that I would need to fill out the sheet as well. I was so embarrassed but filled it out anyway, I saw another mom who shared my pain and she smiled at me and said it would be fun, I thanked her. Next to me I saw a woman giving me the evil eye, she said to her daughter that she was going to go in with her and to grab a size sheet, she turned to me as if to say "see, I can go in too." Like I cared, I didn't want to go in in the first place, I hate having my picture taken. I figured she was one of "those" moms, after her look K and I were called in. We go to this place a lot and K and the casting guy knew each other, as soon as we got in the room she told him "my mom doesn't like this, she thinks she looks ugly in pictures." Awesome, this was going to be fun. He said to relax and that K will tell me what to do. She did. It was actually fun, he asked what we like to do on weekend and we talked about baking, sleeping in my bed and going out to dinner. It was quick and painless. We walked out of the room laughing and holding hands, it was actually a nice moment, I never get to see what K does in there. I passed the woman who was next to me and she was putting on make up, I guess she was getting ready for her big moment.

K said that hopes we get the job, I told her that it was unlikely but it didn't matter, she did her best, then she told me I did my best too. Aww, she's sweet. It'll never happen but I'm glad that she would have been happy if it did. I told her that she did book the last job that she auditioned for at the same casting place and it shoots next week. She was happy about that, she said she remembers "doing really good" at that audition.

I can't imagine how she would react to all this if I was "one of those moms," I can't imagine being one of them either. I can't imagine yelling at my child for being a child. I am amazed that K has the ability to walk into a room full of people and smile, pose and talk about whatever it is they talk about in there. I think we have the right combination that makes this work. It's the same thing with the families we are close to in this business, our kids all seem to do well because they have supportive parents. I always try to offer help to the new parents, I would hate for the other team to get more players.

We're already outnumbered.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Did you feel that?


I'm sure by now everyone knows about the ridiculous amount of huge earthquakes happening on our planet. I imagine that some of you have even been in some of them. The 7.2 Easter Sunday trembler in Mexicali was felt by everyone we know here in Los Angeles, fortunately for us we were driving at the time and missed it. That one got me freaked. I started looking up all the big ones in the last few months, the ones in Haiti and Chili were not only over 7.0 and deadly they were in largely populated areas, the damage was severe. Most of the bigger quakes usually take place in less densely populated areas, in my reading I found that there are usually around 14 large earthquakes in any given year, we usually don't think about this because the damage in these less populated areas is minimal. The Haiti and Chili earthquakes were anything but that. The one in Mexicali was bad but the loss of life and damage were nowhere close to the previous two.

I started thinking about them, and then a few days later a 7.8 hit off the coast of Indonesia, a few days after that there were two a 7.1 in Australia and a 6.2 in Spain and then the huge 6.9 China quake. I had an awful feeling of doom that was quite unnerving. A few days ago a friend called with a story about some friend of a friend who got sent home from a job where she researched earthquakes, she was told that the big one was coming soon. Usually I laugh hysterically over these far fetched fear based rumors but it freaked me out. Later that day on Facebook I had a conversation with my friend S who had mentioned all the earthquakes in her status. I told her that I agree something was strange about all this, she recently moved out of Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, she was probably happy about that now. Yesterday her Facebook status was about the 5.0 earthquake that hit Salt Lake City. I'm pretty sure these are not related but if you live in a quake prone city you have to take all this to heart.

I immediately went out and bought an earthquake kit, extra blankets, light sticks and a 3 day supply of emergency meals for D, K and I. Insane? Maybe. Overly cautious? Definitely. Necessary? Absolutely if you happen to live near a fault line, which is anywhere in Los Angeles.

Earthquakes actually don't bother me and I was pretty bummed that I missed the last one, what scares me is "the big one" hitting when I am not with my family. The thought of K at school and D at work is terrifying to me. Last night I had a dream that we were all sleeping and the ground started shaking, we all got up and went towards our "safe place." In my dream I was paralyzed with fear and unable to move. I felt the paralysis take over my body, I felt the urge to move and the inability to do so. I felt my voice straining to get out and I felt myself start to move but in slow motion. When I awoke I wasn't sure if it was real or not. It felt so real and it wasn't out of the realm of possibility. It wasn't a movie earthquake, just a typical 5.something which I have experienced and never worried about. Why now? I'm sure the recent shaking has something to do with it, although apparently there is nothing to worry about.

According to the USGS:

Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant throughout this century and, according to our records, have actually seemed to decrease in recent years.

A temporal increase in earthquake activity does not mean that a large earthquake is about to happen. Similarly, quiescence, or the lack of seismicity, does not mean a large earthquake is going to happen. A temporary increase or decrease in the seismicity rate is usually just part of the natural variation in the seismicity. There is no way for us to know whether or not this time it will lead to a larger earthquake. Swarms of small events, especially in geothermal areas, are common, and moderate-large magnitude earthquakes will typically have an aftershock sequence that follows. All that is normal and expected earthquake activity.


Earthquake clustering and human psychology. While the average number of large earthquakes per year is fairly constant, earthquakes occur in clusters. This is predicted by various statistical models, and does not imply that earthquakes that are distant in location, but close in time, are causally related. But when such clusters occur, especially when they are widely reported in the media, they are noticed. However, during the equally anomalous periods during which no destructive earthquakes occur, no one deems this as remarkable.

Better global communication. Just a few decades ago, if several hundred people were killed by an earthquake in Indonesia or eastern China, for example, the media in the rest of the world would not know about it until several days, to weeks, later, long after such an event would be deemed “newsworthy”. So by the time this information was available, it would probably be relegated to the back pages of the newspaper, if at all. And the public Internet didn't even exist. We are now getting this information almost immediately.


So there it is, I can blame all my earthquake paranoia on the interwebs, all the "breaking news" and "live from wherever" is in my face 24/7 or whenever I'm in front of my computer (which can seem like 24/7). Before the internet we would only see these images on television but we had to be watching it to see it. Given today's obsession with technology, information is just a text or tweet away. Smart phones are now feeding us information intraveniously, I rarely see a cell phone without a hand attached to it.

This explanation makes me feel better, an actual reason for what's going on in the world. When anything happens within seconds it appears on the front page of Yahoo. When I want to know what's going on in the world I lift open my laptop and I have life in real time with no delay. Does this make me feel stupid about the irrational fears I've had the last few weeks? Not really, it finally lit a fire under my ass and now my family will be prepared in the event of an emergency. Eventually something else will occupy the news and I will move on to worry about other things. At least I won't have to scurry around my house in the unlikely event of an emergency, that's certainly worth the price of admission.

If only they could find a reason for all the traffic. Anyone who lives in Los Angeles knows that's the scariest thing about this city.

I haven't been able to find a traffic kit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Own Worst Enemy


You do it to yourself, you do
and that's what really hurts
You do it to yourself, just you
you and no-one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself

I love the song "Just" by Radiohead, OK, I love every song by Radiohead, this is a great one though and so is the video. If you've ever seen it you know not to get caught up in the meaning, if you haven't check it out on You Tube, it's cool.

Every time I put myself in a stupid situation, no matter how big or small, I think of these lyrics, regardless of the song meaning, I am always making things more difficult for myself, I do this daily. I don't mean to, I fully intend to honor all the promises that fly out of my mouth, I just tend to make lots of them. That makes fulfilling even just half of them a feat in itself. Last Saturday after K's piano class D called me to let me know that we volunteered to bring sugar cookies the following week. When K came home and told me I told her that it would be fun to make little music note cookies by hand rather than buy them like everyone else had done. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew that I had committed to it for real instead of it just being a possibility. I should have realized that I would be hearing questions about these cookies until they are removed from the oven. Why can't I just be like everyone else and keep my mouth shut? If I could do that I would have a box of already made cookies sitting on my counter ready to go instead of the hard to find music note cookie cutter waiting to be used. Instead of making just one trip to the supermarket I made a trip to a baking supply store, and then another one when K wanted a different colored sugar for the hand cookies we're going to make. Oh yeah instead of only making music notes I found little hand print cookie cutters, and I found silver sugar for them, K thought the hands should be red. So I finally had everything we needed and then I realized I still had to actually make cookies. Another trip to the store to buy what we needed, and of course it wasn't going to be that ready made roll out and cut kind.

Yes, I do this to myself, and that's what really hurts.

I make promises to call people, and it's not that I just say it to give lip service. I want to make these calls, I want to return the calls I get, I just seem to spend my day fulfilling many of the unnecessary promises I seem to make. I do this on top of the things that I actually need to do. I think part of this is residual behavior left over from my "people pleasing" days, the other part is ADD. I know this because at any point of my day I can be found doing more than one thing at a time. In the morning I have a routine that I tend to follow: after D and K leave I drink my coffee while checking out the news and Facebook on my laptop, I'll lose track of time and start my shower but not before reheating my coffee in the microwave (which I will usually forget) during this time I am usually involved in a few text conversations. I'll find my way to the shower and spend the most relaxing ten minutes of the day in there. After the shower I'll check my email, notice that I now have messages on my cell and home phones as well as the texts that are waiting to be answered. I get ready as fast as I can, try to answer the texts and emails, promising to return the phone calls while I'm out. Then I get caught up in my daily activities as well as new phone calls that always seem to come as I am returning the older ones.

That's how I get behind, I didn't even mention the unsolicited "I will call you tomorrow" promises that I make. I just need to keep quiet. During these phone calls I tend to make other promises, digging myself even deeper. Promises to have dinner, promises to photograph friend's kids, promises to get those kids together with mine, promises to send emails and pictures, promises to get copies about books I rave about, promises to forward the information for my favorite doctors, recipes, websites and the many other things I want to share. I store most of this in my head and make an effort to get it done as soon as possible but this is hard to accomplish, especially when other promises are pushed up to the list. Like these cookies that are needed by Saturday morning. We were going to make them this afternoon but K had an audition and then things got backed up. In fact we were supposed to go to this audition yesterday but we were stuck at a callback, lucky for us they were holding this audition for a few days. At the callback yesterday I met a woman new to the Stagemom thing, she hadn't received the breakdown for the casting so I forwarded it to her, it's always good to have all the information. She was really nice and I could tell she had a bunch of questions, on our way out I told her to email me, I've been doing this for years and I could probably help her out. I didn't need to do this, she didn't ask, I could have just said goodbye and left. I didn't want to do that though, I wanted to help her even though it will mean another email that will be added to my to-do list.

I try to focus and I try to prioritize but other things will always come up, soon I am up to my ears in unanswered phone calls, emails and texts. They are always sitting there waiting for me, just like the cookies on my counter waiting to be made, the dinners plans that are constantly being put off and there is also a stack of books that I have bought, begging to be read.

After I put K to bed tonight I planned to return some emails, since D is working late I was able to get her in early which gave me more time. Unfortunately she was so adorably cuddly I had to lay with her for a while and I fell asleep, leaving me with even less time, and I had to write this. I grabbed my laptop and attempted to do a few things at once, I started thinking about tonight's blog and went on Facebook to return some emails. What happened? I got caught up in a few conversations there. One of them was about a SNL special that was on, I had to check it out. I got lost in that for a while and then I saw the time. I went back to my blog and knew what I should write about. I started that and alternated between writing this and writing on Facebook. All of a sudden it was late and I saw something on Maddow about the Iceland volcano, I had to go look that up and got stuck on Yahoo for a while. Came back here and tried to finish. Those emails? Never got to them and guess what? Now there are even more. I would have made the cookies but I promised K she could help, good thing too because they might have been left in the oven all night.

I always seem to lose track of things, when I got my iPhone I was told that it would change my life, I could use it to help me organize. Perfect, that's what I needed. I was fastidious about writing my lists and tasks, and then one day I didn't and that turned into two and the iPhone lists became another thing on my mental to-do list. This list is huge, when I close my eyes all I see is yellow sticky notes that say "cookies" "call A and L" "send pics to mom" there are hundreds of them. Eventually I will get to all the tasks and they will be replaced with new ones. Sometimes I even take my own advice and keep quiet instead of making another promise, this doesn't last very long and eventually I end up backlogged.

Some of the time this pile up is not my fault but most of the time it is. I do it to myself, just like Thom says. I won't even tell you how much time I spend looking for my coffee cup in the morning.

Yes, I know, it's in the microwave.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tick Tock


Like Sands through the hourglass

Where does the time go? I mean only a few weeks I was getting K ready for her first day of first grade and now it’s the middle of April and everyone’s scrambling to get summer camp applications in before it’s too late. How does this happen? Sometimes I feel the days forever to end and then all of a sudden 365 of them have flown by.

Last year at this time I was recovering from having all my wisdom teeth removed, I can still see K sitting next to me on the bed trying to comfort me and sharing in my sorbet diet. Then a few weeks later D, K and I took a trip to Sacramento to spend the weekend with D’s mother who was having surgery. Originally the plan was to drive up to her house and spend the weekend there. I took over the planning of that weekend and turned it into a few days of fun activities and a change of venue instead of sitting around my mother in law’s house while she convinced herself that she would never be returning. This was a big step for me, usually in situations involving my MIL I would protest the trip, my objection would be overruled and I would retreat back into my own thoughts. This time I stood my ground; my arguments were strong, clear and concise. For the first time ever I convinced the judge to see my side. The weekend was a success, MIL went into her surgery with a positive attitude and was able to go home after a few days.

This was only a year ago, so much has changed since then it doesn’t seem possible. How could so much change happen in just one year? The physical and mental transformation I went through took a lifetime to reach, I suppose I didn’t have the patience to wait any more. Having that weekend go the way I planned helped me in using my voice to get the things I wanted and needed. I knew that everything wouldn’t go as smoothly but it wasn’t the outcome that mattered, it was the confidence I had in using my voice. That newly found confidence is what helped me eat right, it helped me see that I didn’t need food to comfort me, just as I didn’t need the extra weight I had been carrying around and hiding behind.

That weight loss happened fast, not because I did anything special but because I wanted it so badly, I made it happen. I wanted other things just as badly and started going after those things as well. This probably came across as antagonistic to D, what I wanted was to have him see what I knew was behavior from his mother. I knew this was going to be difficult, I had tried to do this in the past but was met with anger. I usually just kept it to myself, which did absolutely no good. This time I was going to press it, I was going to fight, I was either going to get through to D or die trying. It was a rough summer for many reasons, we had our good times and of course we had some bad ones. Through our work with Dr. Phil we were learning to communicate with each other, not just in the language we used, because that was terrible, but in the way we listened to each other, a skill that neither of us had mastered.

We spent the better part of the Fall butting heads over things but it was good, this was happening because we were both using our newly found voice. All of this led to to our Christmas trip. Over the summer I had mentioned to D that through Facebook, my childhood friends were planning a Thanksgiving reunion in New York and I thought it would be fun to go, immediately following my request was “Fine, then we’re going to my mom’s for Christmas.” This was always the way these visits were brought up, I know now that D did this because he knew it was something I didn’t want and he felt attacked even before the words came out, so they always came out as a counter attack. We never went to New York though, someone owes me a trip.

Anyway, as you know, off we went. There was a compromise though, I insisted we not rush up there, that we take our time leaving the house in the morning (I never understood the rush to get up there to sit around and do nothing). We were on edge for most of the trip, even before anything happened. I think D and I both knew that this trip was going to be a defining moment. The true test of all we learned in our work with Dr. Phil. I have to say that this trip, without the tools we took from therapy would have been a disaster, it would not have united us the way it did. In fact I believe if this trip had happened the year before, we would have arrived home separately.

So it’s almost been a year since we started working with Dr. Phil, I think it was around the end of May or beginning of June. It sometimes seems like years ago yet at the same time feels like weeks. The amount of progress we have made is incredible, when we first started therapy D wanted to reclaim the closeness that somehow had been lost. We had no idea what we were in for, but honestly it couldn’t have been any worse than how we were living. Our life since then has been turned upside down but in a good way. I never in a million years thought that we would be able to have the discussions we have now without screaming and bad feelings. I never thought we would be making jokes about the things that used to kill us both inside. I never thought that the fantasies I had in my head would ever come to fruition.

One year ago if you asked me where I’d be in a year I probably would have lied to you because the truth would have been a far-fetched fantasy. I’m not talking about the material wishes because that stuff is great, but never the stuff of my fantasies. Last year what I wanted more than anything, and I believe D is with me on this is, was to be heard and seen because I wasn’t. Honestly if anyone asked me what was a more feasible goal a 10 bedroom house on the beach or getting through our issues I would have picked the house. It was that kind of pessimistic outlook that ruled my world. A few weeks ago in Dr. Phil’s office I remarked that I was dripping with optimism, another thing that I never expected. All of this in less than a year is pretty remarkable.

So yes, the time is going by rather quickly but that’s because we aren’t sleepwalking through life anymore. We are tackling all the things being thrown at us and facing them head on. Is it easy? No, nothing worthwhile ever is. Is it better than what we used to do? Hell yes! I hope that this summer is one of those lazy summers that I always read about. I hope that we are able to take that hourglass and knock it over, let the time stand still for a while so we can enjoy all the things we’ve worked so hard to attain.

These are the days of our lives so let’s enjoy them. I don’t want them to fly by, they mean too much now.