Too many mental tabs open today.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Me and my shadow

As soon as K learned how to walk she was like my little shadow. She would follow me around the house while I cleaned, sat on the floor in the kitchen while I cooked and she hung out in the bathroom while I showered. She would watch me get ready and demand that I put make up on her and dry her hair. It was so cute. When she was a little bigger she would push a little cart around the supermarket, it was just like mama's.

Most of that stopped around preschool, she was too cool for me at that point. Except for the supermarket, she always wanted that little cart. If I tried to fix her hair she would yell, if I asked her to "help" in the kitchen she wanted to do it herself. One time we were making mac and cheese and she insisted that she knew what to do, I watched over pretty carefully and she still got hurt, she didn't want to be like me anymore, she wanted to do everything her way. I did what I could to support her and keep her safe.

She started dressing in her own style, not wearing what I picked out for her, she wouldn't eat the food that I made for her and she wouldn't play with whatever it was that I brought for her when we were out. This was extremely annoying but pretty much on track with what my friend's kids were doing. I missed my shadow but I was happy that K was finding her own place in life and testing the water in the ocean of new experiences.

Lately I've noticed that my little shadow is back and she's being so subtle about it. I try not to show my delight, I know how elusive these tiny shadows can be, I don't want to do anything to make it retreat again. I notice when she's home with me she lingers in the bathroom while I get ready. She wants me to make her a bang like the ones I just cut into my own hair. She has developed a fondness for black (my wardrobe staple) and asks me what I'm wearing before heading to her closet to choose an outfit. She asks what I want to eat before telling me what she wants. She now likes to drink out of a metal water bottle just like I do and talks about the evil of sugar (while she's shoving it into her mouth, but I'll take it!)

Today we went and got our nails done, she picked out my color, like always, but this time she wanted me to pick out her colors, she said she wanted me to pick out grown up colors. How sweet. I was done before her and sat at the drying lamp while she was finishing. She was pretty much done but wanted to sit under the lamp like me. We discussed our lunch options, for the first time ever she wanted pizza, I told her that I would love nothing more than to break my usual no bread rule for her but it's Passover and I can't. She was bummed and I promised to take her to our favorite New York style pizza place next week. Then she did the unthinkable, she asked me what I wanted to do. I wanted to go home and make food for us, it was getting cold and she wasn't really dressed warm enough. She agreed and said that she wanted matzoh and cheese, I was deliriously happy. We went home and had some lunch, I could tell she was as tired as I was so I suggested we retire to my room and snuggle while watching Barefoot Contessa (another new favorite of ours). I knew that we'd both be asleep before the first commercial. I woke up first and saw her beautiful sleeping face right next to mine, she sleeps in the exact same position I do, seeing this made me smile and that's when she woke up. She opened her eyes and gave me the biggest smile I think I have ever seen, she took her arm and threw it over me and gave me a kiss. I didn't want to move, I didn't want this moment to end. Then we switched roles, K was supposed to be at J's house for a sleepover and we both knew it. Usually it's K who bolts up to get there as quick as possible and me who wants to keep her home. I told her we needed to start moving, A and J were waiting for her, she held me close and said she wanted to stay with me for a while.

It was one of the sweetest afternoons I probably ever had with her. We put K's stuff in a bag without fighting over the outfit, I threw a movie and her Nintendo DS in the bag and she thanked me. We held hands while walking to the car and talked about the fun stuff that she was going to do with J. When we got to A's house we both stood outside the door for a minute, somehow we knew what was about to happen and and when A answered K took off and ran inside, leaving her shadow in the hallway with me. I stayed for a bit and chatted with A, before I left I made K come out and say goodbye, she wasn't overly gushy like she was earlier but after she kissed me she gave me her secret smile letting me know that she too, enjoyed the day we had together.

I've already gotten a few texts from A telling me all about the things flying out of K's mouth, she is just like me sometimes! I know that she's going to have a great time. D and I will have a much needed night to ourselves and I will do my best not to miss my shadow too much.

She has a huge day tomorrow, a callback and two auditions, all well spaced and none of them close to each other. It's cool, the traffic won't be bad and the most important one is first. The thing that makes me happy is that I actually have an excuse to collect her early. She will put up a fight I'm sure and as soon as we're in the car she can go back to her role as shadow. At least I hope. Either way I'll have my little girl back with me.

I don't like being away from her and I don't care who knows it.

I need my shadow, we all do.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Citizen K

Today K wore a shirt that said in tiny letters "for little citizens of the world." I bought this for her years ago at one of those 75% off sales I enjoy so much. There's nothing I love more than ridiculously high end kids clothes bought for basically what the tax on the original price would have been.

She picked it out too, it matched her Valentine's Day sweatpants. I have to say, she did a good job, she even asked me for a "fancy" hairstyle, I always indulge her girlie requests. We were going shopping in Santa Monica and she was feeling "on" so she wanted to look nice for her "audience." She wanted to get a book I couldn't find at the recent school bookfair and I needed to pick up a copy of a magazine that had an ad with K in it. I figured Santa Monica would be fun, it was early enough that parking would be OK and between all the food options there we could probably find something that we both could agree on, at least I hoped. We found the magazine, K had no interest when she saw herself, she was more interested another one that came out a few months ago, a quarterly publication that had 6 full pages of K doing some of the most amazing fashion editorial. She flipped around it proudly and asked me to buy it for her. We already have a bunch of them I told her, she said it felt strange to have her pictures up on that store shelf. I told her that her friend N is in there too and they can keep each other company. I have to admit that I did think about it for a minute, but then I realized that I have so many of her pictures and magazines all over my house, I didn't need to spend a bunch of money to add to the mess. She has an interesting mind, I like to watch her thought process.

For lunch she wanted to have breakfast, I took her to my favorite place in Santa Monica, one I frequent often and the location for many a bitch session with A or my friend M (who is like the little sister I wish I had). K was specific in what she wanted which of course was not on the kids menu or the regular menu, after careful negotiation I think we were able to get what we both wanted without $25 for extra this and that. While we were waiting for our food K was drawing her new favorite book character Skippyjon Jones, she showed the waitress who had come by to bring me coffee (mmmmmm, coffee) her work and she was impressed, K is also an "artist" and is "planning to have her own gallery in a few years" she also told the waitress that "her house was already a gallery of her work and that she gives her mama at least two pictures a day." They started a conversation and talked for a while, I just sat there and watched my little girl shoot the shit with another chick about her plans for Spring Break, fashion, being an artist and her sleepover with her best friend J "if I'm really really good, like eating my food, good" she said. She's not a kid, she's a tiny adult, she told the waitress she was a citizen and read her the writing on her shirt. "I'm a little citizen, see?" she said pointing "but I really am, seriously!" OMG it was so cute.

She was right, she's not only a citizen but a productive member of society. She received a tax refund check from the State of California yesterday and paid her Federal income taxes a few weeks ago. She's already a union member, although that wasn't a choice, she had booked her 4th SAG job and was a must-join, a fact D and I find ridiculous. Sometimes when I pick her up from school she asks me what's on the schedule for later, when I tell her it's love and kisses she makes fun of me "really? what are we doing?" She's such a Type A kid. I check in with her often regarding her "career" making sure that she's doing it for her own enjoyment and not trying to appease me. After a tough driving day last week I asked her (probably for the millionth time) if this was still fun for her. I asked her if she likes auditioning because she thinks it makes me happy, my astute child answered with "Well you're the one that has to drive everywhere and sit around and I get to sleep in the car and then play with my friends, that makes me happy not you, do you like it?" Wow. I actually do like it, just not the horrific driving part of it.

Sometimes I worry that K might be missing out on something, but then I look at her and she is usually having a great time no matter what she's doing. She takes after school classes like her friends do, (Hip Hop, piano and will start karate soon) she has playdates and sleep-overs. We meet friends for various activities and she goes to a million birthday parties. Her "career" will sometimes take her out of school, (but only occasionally) when that happens she works with a set teacher and her real teacher is extremely cooperative. She isn't over-scheduled like some of the kids we know, sometimes she's even *gasp* bored! She loves to be the center of attention but sometimes she's so shy I wonder who is the kid hiding behind my leg. Sometimes this annoys me, then I realize she's a kid, she's acting exactly like she should. She doesn't have to be "on" all the time. Just because she has a SAG card doesn't mean she has to perform all the time. I need to be better at remembering this.

Last week at one of her auditions we saw (but mostly heard) a 10 year old stagebrat rattling off her extensive list of credits to anyone willing to listen. K sat with her for about a minute and then walked away finding a group of little girls playing on the floor. She came up to me a little later and told me that the girl didn't want to play, she wanted to talk about herself. I'm so glad that my 6 year old noticed this behavior and was put off by it. The moms I knew at that audition were all in agreement: If any of our kids started to sound like that their "career" will suddenly and without warning be over. K's friend N has a pretty extensive resume herself and never talks about it, K knows this and said something to the effect of "N is famous and doesn't talk like that loud girl, that's why N has so many friends."

So yes, my spirited young child is a little different than most of her friends but completely grounded and hopefully headed in the right direction. Our recent parent/teacher conference showed us that not only is she doing great but she's ahead of the curve. She's the same mostly loud but sometimes quiet girl at school that she is at home. She is in fact a little citizen of the world, a fact that she's extremely proud of, and she should be.

So for now I know that she isn't missing out on her "Rosebud." She does complain loudly and often that I won't let her have a television in her room or allow her to watch the shows that other kids get to watch. I have no problem with this. If she wants to go around yelling "Spongebob" it's because I'm a good parent, not because she missed out on great childhood moments.

Off to clean Xanadu.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Give me a (Spring) break!!

Spring Break started in Los Angeles today, that means that K is home with me for the entire week. Last week I was thrilled at this thought, there's so much we can do together and I kind of miss hanging with her during the day. Then I realized that I still had my own things to do and she would be with me through it all, including food shopping. We make little deals with our kids all the time: do this and you'll get that, promise you won't do this and you'll be rewarded with something. We all do it. Today I made K promise me that she won't ask for more than 3 things at the supermarket. I swear we were about ten feet in the store when she asked for her 10th thing. Ugh. When does school start again?

I remember when Spring Break brought on a whole other set of feelings. When I was younger we always went to Florida to see the grandparents and have Passover with them. If it was a good year it was my dad's parents, I loved going to see them, the Seders their friends threw were wonderful and packed with people. The rest of the week was spent in the pool or frying in the sun. The evenings were spent in vinegar baths to alleviate the sunburn I always got and then after in the kitchen playing that gin rummy tile game. I can still hear the click-clack sound of those tiles on the glass table. If it wasn't my dad's year we still went to Florida, flying as unaccompanied minors to my other grandparents, the ones who didn't do Seders but were Jewish and didn't have games. They did have a pool and a shuffleboard court, so at least I had something. The nights were spent outside playing with the other visiting grandkids until we got too loud and security sent us back upstairs, then it was in front of the TV and bed. More irony here is that both sets of grandparents had been good friends of each other for years and even lived in the same building in New York. After my parents got divorced the friendship ended so during these Florida trips we never got to see the other set of grandparents. This was only a problem when it wasn't my dad's year.

If no Florida trip occurred and we stayed in New York it was pretty much the same story: With my dad we went to his brother's house and had a great time, four kids pretty close in age, a dog to chase us and a Seder that was long enough for us to pay attention but short enough to enjoy it. The rest of the time we would find fun things to do in the city or get to swim in the indoor pool my dad had in his building. If it was mom's turn we would have a dinner at her sister's house (again, no Seder, what's up with the complete absence of religion with these people?) the rest of the week I was designated babysitter, not much fun and no pool.

In college Spring Break was always spent in Florida and because I was 18 I decided where to go. This time it was a lot more interesting. I remember the first time I stayed with friends on the strip in Ft. Lauderdale. I promised to devote a night or two with family but after the Seder I was immediately dropped off at my hotel and met up with my friends (who had also made similar arrangements) and we went right to drinking. This was the first time that I was a participant in a Florida Spring Break. When I was young I never understood what was so great about Spring Break, so big deal, you get to swim and see your family, but why did everyone always talk about it like it was some monumental event? Then I saw a Spring Break report on MTV. Oh yeah, that's waaaaay different. Finally I was going to have one of those Spring Breaks.

It couldn't have been more than a few minutes after checking in that we found our way to the bar, which was conveniently located fifteen feet from our room. We immediately made friends with the Aussie bartender who promised to take care of us all week. He was a man of his word. We drank so much we got our days and nights mixed up, luckily it didn't matter on the strip that week. I also got my first case of sun poisoning that week after falling asleep at the beach, all I'm going to say about that is if you drink a lot and fall asleep in the sun, cover the parts that don't normally see the sun, if you don't you will literally burn your ass. This hurts a lot. The next few days (or nights, cloudy memory on this trip) were spent at strip favorites like The Candy Store, Penrod's and Summers. I'm so glad that there were no camera phones or Girls Gone Wild yet.

After one of those days or nights I woke up in the shower of our room fully clothed and completely hung over. I could barely see a thing. There were sleeping people all over the place I think there might have been at least ten bodies strewn around, that's eight more than there should have been. It was completely and eerily quiet too. I walked out of the room and didn't see any signs of life. I crossed the street and headed to the beach. It was sort of hazy which combined with my blurry vision make it seem creepy, for a second I thought that maybe I was dead. I started walking and in the distance I heard faint singing, this was surprising so I started walking towards it. As it got louder it sounded like a chorus, as I got closer to it it sounded like praying. Oh my god, I thought, I AM DEAD!!! I walked up to a robed choir singing on the beach, in front of them was a mass of people. Literally, I wasn't dead, it was an Easter Mass on the beach. Thank god someone noticed my confusion and helped me sit down. I stayed for part of it, they all seemed nice and didn't mind me being there, I stayed until I had the strength to get up. I found my way back to the hotel and told the group of now awake friends and strangers what happened.

We all agreed to ease up on the drinking, not stop but not to the point of unconsciousness. Besides we were headed back to school soon and needed to get our internal time clocks back to normal.

I went back for Spring Break a few more times after that, carefully monitoring my alcohol intake. While the other trips were fun they never matched that first time. Even with deadly sunburn that trip was awesome. Some of the stories I will not write, certain promises will remain honored even though I have no idea where those other girls are now. Besides I'm a mom now, who wants that stuff out there. Again, grateful for the lack of technology and Joe Francis still being in school. I even did a Spring Break trip with Starter Husband before we got married, that certainly wasn't the same, although it was nice to walk around the strip with an escort, the rules of personal space don't usually exist during Spring Break.

Off point yet again, but I wanted to talk about Spring Break and how it differs in each part of my life. This week should be fun for us. Tonight we are going to a Seder with some good friends who live in Germany for most of the year. We've been celebrating Passover with them since K went to preschool with their son B, an adorably smart little boy who is the only one that's ever been able to keep up with her. I love this family and cannot wait to see them. This week we will make plans with them to do something fun. K will have a sleepover with J at A's house (which means that D and I will have a whole night to ourselves!!), we will have lunches out, get our nails done, visit D at work, go shopping and relax. We will not wake up to an alarm we will not rush through traffic to get to school on time. We will go where we want to when we want to. We will have complete freedom.

This is certainly safer than third degree burns and a fake death experience. Besides I don't think I can take one of those hangovers and waking up in the shower would be hard to explain to a six year old.

a zisn Pesach

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anger mismanagement

I did something stupid yesterday, actually I do stupid things everyday but I sort of feel bad about this one. After the incident that spawned yesterday's post childhood issues were fresh on my mind. I needed to refocus because D and I were going out with L and the kids were staying with a babysitter. I managed to pull it together and the three of us had a nice dinner at a cute little French restaurant (Lady D was helping a friend with a party). Dinner was was great, we discussed politics and the HCR Bill, which we all agree is a good start, and other grown up issues, it was nice to be sans kids for a change. We kept the evening going with a few drinks at a local bar, only after getting stared down by an old lady for smiling at her husband (he smiled first, I was being polite, I swear!!) it was awesome, she looked like she wanted to kill me. Maybe she heard my assessment of the teabaggers? :)

The discussion turned to my family issues and the problems I have with the way everyone is dealing (or not dealing) with my sister J's daughter A and her complete lack of normal development. I told L about the video I saw and was waiting to see the one where you can hear my dad yelling at them. We discussed what my thoughts were and I opened up a little more about my feelings, sometimes this is easier said over wine (or Maker's Mark in this case). We took the party back to L's house to relieve the babysitter. We continued our discussion, I wanted to show L the video of J's daughter A to get his opinion, he agreed with our assessment that the little girl seems more like a 1 year old than a 3 year old.

Then I watched the second video and heard my father's "rant" which seemed to me was a few unnoticed comments. I sat through yet another video of J and her family clapping for little A as she wandered around the room, oblivious to everything going on around her. They were all completely fixated on the presents that J was opening, not even caring that the kid could have cared less. They all said "Look what I got her!!!" instead of "Why isn't she playing with it?" They all told little A to look at the camera as they each tried to grab a shot, but not one of them wondered why she wouldn't. The three of us sat transfixed in utter disbelief. We all wanted to yell "Please wake up and help this child! Take her to a doctor, Take her to school, take her to the park. Take this child OUT OF THE HOUSE!" but like L always tells me, it would be like yelling at the wind.

It would be a completely different story if A had been assessed by a doctor and was getting help or J was getting the tools she needs to help with her child's development. She clearly is not. My dad says that they have seen a doctor and A was going to some sort of speech therapist once a week. Given what I already know and seeing this video leads me to believe this just another of J's many lies. J's husband can be seen sporadically throughout both videos coming into the room to grab food, taking a picture of his daughter who doesn't look up at all and then yelling about keeping the kid away from the candle. Most of the time he was in another room by himself. Watching this video made me angry again but this time I was angry with my dad. I was angry because he had told me that he went off on them regarding the lack of development and everyone's blind eye on the issue. All I heard was a few comments that were seriously ignored.

I didn't know what to do with the anger and disappointment I felt. While I'm used to feeling this way I am not used to it when it's about my father. I adore him, we speak to each other every single day, sometimes even twice a day. I wish he didn't tell me that he had spoke up, if he hadn't said a word I would have thought hey, at least he had the balls to say anything. I was waiting for the moment when a possible change could occur, I got nothing.

Then I got mad.

Then I did something stupid.

I wrote publicly, on his Facebook page that I was disappointed in his lack of action. I wrote that his daughter was neglecting her child (which seems like abuse to me) in front of him and he's not doing a thing about it. I went on and on about it too. I know that I should have done this privately but I needed him to know how important this was, it wasn't drunk Facebooking either, I was pretty focused and clear in my intentions. Besides the anger I felt was killing me.

In the morning I read his reply asking me to keep stuff like this off his Facebook page (fair enough). I also read his email saying that J told him that she has taken A to doctors, that she is being monitored by some county office and has been evaluated by the school she will be starting sometime in the near future. Of course none of this has been proven, once again everyone will just have to believe that J is telling the truth. I know that I had no right to lash out at my dad. I mean what is he really supposed to do? What is anyone supposed to do besides hope that J is finally getting her act together and taking responsibility for her child. I was going to ask my mother what she thinks but I know where that conversation would lead.

So I wrote this as an apology to my dad, I wanted him to know why I feel like I do and did what I did. It wasn't the best thing to do with my anger but it felt right at the time.

It reminds me of this quote:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

I didn't want to hold on to the anger but I shouldn't be flinging it around either. It seems like we both got burned this time.

One should always listen to Buddha.

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

Serious wisdom.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sibling Rivalry?

I haven't seen my sister in ten years, in fact, I had originally planned to not even mention her at all on this blog. I needed to bring up my mother's ridiculous desire to dress us as twins to make a point (see the evidence above)so there she is. Her name is J and she's two years younger than me, it might as well be ten since I spent most of my formative years taking care of her. Every day after school I would forego activities to stay home with my little sister. Year after year I missed out on after school plans and events, further alienating myself from my classmates who were allowed to do whatever they felt like doing. I never once blamed my sister for this, it wasn't her fault. I did get angry when she was allowed to make after school plans but the anger went to my mother who allowed this. I not only looked after J but spared her from much of our Evil Stepfather's wrath. I was older and therefore able to "take it" more then J, or my mother for that matter. It was usually me that he went after or was put at the top of his shit list. I actually felt better with this arrangement because I was always the strongest female in our household. Even at 10.

As the years passed I managed to convince my mother that J was now old enough to be home by herself and was able to do things after school, ironically I always invited J to come along. She never once accepted. Instead she shut herself in her own room, preferring her own company to mine and my friends. It was around this time that the compulsive lying started. Since we were only 2 years apart we were both at the same high school in my senior year. Joy. Randomly people would come up to me asking odd questions like "Why didn't you tell me your father owned Guess Jeans?" Huh? Apparently J went around school telling the most outrageous lies about herself and our family. It was pretty embarrassing. After a while I got a handle on the situation, that didn't stop the lying but it did stop the path back to me.

The year I graduated high school my dad took us both to Europe, after spending some time in Italy we went to Marbella, Spain. In Marbella we had a villa with it's own pool, being on the beach of course was the better option and after breakfast that is where we could be found. Except J, she wanted to stay by our pool, alone. Even at night she had no interest in going out with us, we got used to dumping her off after dinner, she was no fun anyway. She lied to our dad about her fluency in Spanish, which she said she had been taking for four years, blaming the lack of understanding she experienced on the people of Spain's inability to understand her New York accent.

The following summer our dad married his third wife, J was consumed with jealousy and did what ever she could to piss off our dad's new wife (who was actually cool). After they had a baby J refused to see our new brother Z. In fact I can tell you exactly how I knew he had been born: I came home from the movies and saw the expression on her face, I don't think I've seen a face that miserable. I immediately took off to the Upper Westside to see my new brother, I even spent my last dollars buying flowers. I was thrilled. I spent lots of time that summer with my stepmother and brother. J spent the summer locked in her room.

A few years later my mom moved from New York to Florida to be closer to her parents and sister who had already taken the Great Trek South. I was in college at that point and was happy to see them go, it was frustrating to see my mother just accept my sister's lying and general behavior, blaming everything she did on "a phase." A few years after that I was planning my wedding to Starter Husband and I asked J to be my Maid of Honor because that's what sisters do right? Since she was so far away she was spared any of the planning help which fell on to my future sisters-in-law and future MIL (which they gladly did, I miss them). I even had a dress made for her, to match the other bridesmaid dresses. A few weeks before the wedding I called her to see when she was coming in so we could get everyone together, she said she wasn't. She didn't want to be a part of my wedding. Whatever, I had enough to deal with, I honestly expected it to end up that way anyway. My whole family (including my future family) made an effort to reach out to her, she mostly refused their calls and the ones she took were crazy. She told whoever spoke to her that "she knows what she did" referring to me. What I did? Let's see, I sacrificed my childhood to take care of her, I gave up the innocence of youth by taking abuse for her and I never once put the blame on her. Sure I did a terrible thing, I protected her from a horrible life, I must be punished.

I rarely saw her after that, on the visits I would make to Florida to see my family I was civil to her (because I'm a nice person) but made no effort to do more than that. I listened as she spun a web of lies and gave my opinion to other family members when questioned about it. For speaking the truth I was treated like a pariah. When Starter Husband's job took us to Los Angeles, I knew that these family visits would become less frequent, and for that I was grateful. My mother would visit from time to time and I was able to deal with that. Around the time my first marriage ended my grandmother got sick, a lifetime of smoking (even after numerous heart attacks) had taken its toll. She was dying in the hospital and my family was pissed at me (once again) for not visiting. Newly divorced I barely had money to put gas in my car, buying a plane ticket to sit with a woman who not only didn't like me but did nothing to protect me as a child was not high on my list.

Then she died, I had no choice then. I managed to find an affordable plane ticket thanks to a sympathetic agent who was forced to listen to my whole story. I gave my mother the details so she could pick me up. Cheap airfares mean layovers, the trip took all day. When I got to the airport I saw no one. I called and found out that my mom was too tired to get me, she sent a cab. Awesome. When I got to her house there she was sitting with my sister, they were both watching TV. After a phony round of "I miss you" I went to bed. In the morning there was my sister happy to talk about her new boyfriend and how tired she was from having to deal with all of this "death shit." She spent two hours looking for a cute outfit to wear to the funeral. That day was so awful, not because I was mourning (I wasn't) but because I was in a room full of people that were blaming the death on me. I was told that I ripped the family apart by never coming to my grandmother's deathbed. OMG, seriously, this was like some ridiculous dream, who the hell are these people? What the hell are they talking about? These people have always hated me because I remind them of my father, I was told my whole life that I am "just like HIM" and now I'm the bad guy. Not any of them, they were the ones that sat back and let me get abused by a lunatic and did nothing because it was better than having my mother be alone. They were the ones that allowed my sister become pathological, and gave into her lies because they didn't want to have to help her. Sure blame me, I'm an easy target.

I got on that plane home and never looked back. That was the last time I saw my sister. I sent her a letter a few years ago after she had a miscarriage but I never heard back. She is one of those people that should never have children, for many reasons. One of the reasons is what prompted me to write this.

She did have a baby, three years ago yesterday, I have a niece and K has a cousin that neither of us will ever meet. Before this child was born I told my dad to watch out for it, J was incapable of taking care of anything and this child will most likely be neglected. I told my dad that J will not do anything to help this child in life, she will not love or nurture it, she will not help it learn and grow. She will use it as a tool to get attention and it's going to be bad. This was not said out of jealousy it was said out of fear, for a life that was about to be completely messed up. I told my dad that I hope to god I am wrong about this.

I wasn't. My dad sent me a video from the party today, a party with no friends, no other kids, just my parents, J's in-laws and her husband who seemed to be asleep on the couch when he wasn't yelling. When I saw the little girl I know that my prediction was correct. This child cannot talk, doesn't focus and has poor motor skills. Not one person in that room has said a word about this. Earlier I sent a text to my dad saying that being at the party and celebrating with them was accepting the abuse and neglect that his daughter is inflicting on her own child. I think my words must have gotten to him. Before he left he blew up at them, saying that clearly there is a problem with this child, she needs help and she needs it now. My sister has a litany of excuses just like always but this time there is someone else involved. I hope and pray that something is done now. If anything can be done at all.

So there's the story of my sister. Living in complete denial surrounded by people who clearly would rather shut up than face the truth, no wonder they hated me. I was always throwing in their face everything they refused to see. Even as a child, my mere presence was a reminder of what was going on in my house. Instead of helping me they blamed me.

That thing I did to my sister? I grew up and evolved, I faced the reality of my life and learned from it. I didn't retreat and withdraw. What I specifically did to her? I put the mirror up to her and made her look at herself, she didn't like that.

Do I miss having a sister? Of course. The good thing is that now I have new sisters. Sisters that are with me at all times (and you know who you are!!) and have my back.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Driving Miss Crazy - The Sequel

I really thought that I had put most of my road rage behind me. Sure, I get the occasional angst now and then but nothing like before. Until yesterday. I should reset my drama-counter over this one!

It started out fine. D and I had K's parent/teacher conference at 2:30 (she rocked BTW, 4s across the board, except on the concentration department, oops) then her 6 year check up (even though K turned 6 in November I won't schedule a well-child visit in the middle of cold and flu season, a good lesson learned the hard way). She rocked that too, she totally amused the nurse and our poor doctor who seemed to enjoy the examination as well as the inquisition that came with it. He liked her spirit and I asked if it was just ADD (like I always do), he assured me that she's fine. Just needs a little focus, he suggested karate. Like I need a kicking six year old.

After that K had a 5:30 audition in the Valley, usually an hour trip for us but I had extra time, I like to be early. As soon as I got on the freeway, I freaked it was not moving! I called D who was in the traffic ahead of us for help. It wasn't good he said, even the 405 on ramp was jammed, I was going to have to drive through Hollywood and grab the 101. Crap. I hate mid-game substitutions! I used the iPhone to map it and hoped my GPS would pick up the new route (it's kind of old and gets pissed off). Yes, I am that insane that I need a multitude of directions. I also called K's agent to please call ahead for me and let them know. Not only do I like to be prompt I like to be polite. She assured me that they were going until 6:15 and I should be fine. OK, I felt a little better, I now had more time and K was asleep, which meant I could take off her Kindie rock and put on my Indie rock. Traffic all over was awful but I wasn't as stressed. Somehow I made it there by 5:35 and got a spot right in front, only 5 minutes late, cool! We ran to the entrance and entered a room PACKED with little girls. WTF? Not only did I worry for nothing but they hadn't even started yet! Inhaled, exhaled and found a friend with a daughter that K loves. We then spent the next 90 minutes (so not kidding) hanging on the floor and complaining about traffic. Every single person in there was late, and when they started seeing the girls we all laughed at how incredibly unorganized they were. Usually one of will step in to help but we didn't even care at this point. None of us were in any hurry to get back into the car. They finally called K and her friend, they were in for a while and came out with cookies (it was a Keebler audition) we were happy because at least they got some food.

I called D and said I would meet him at his office so we can have dinner, K and I were starving, it was at this point that I realized I probably ate nothing the whole day. We raced back, well, not exactly raced but at least we were moving. While I was driving through Hollywood K decided to start complaining about a girl at school, a girl she ALWAYS complains about yet runs to in the morning, clearly a sore spot for me. All of this was getting to me, the crosstown traffic and construction was getting to me and dull pain in my head was getting to me. Driving down Vine (of Hollywood and Vine fame) I almost crashed into a parked car when the street suddenly went from two lanes to one. I simply could not focus. As I turned the corner to meet D, I drove over a curb (embarrassing) pulled into a spot, hurled myself out of the car and threw the keys to D proclaiming loudly that I was done driving for the night. We had dinner, or we went to dinner, our food took over 30 minutes to arrive which set me off even more. I was delirious, tired, hungry, cranky, headachey and freezing (actual shivers). Once my food arrived I felt a little better. We left D's car there and he drove us all home. When I woke this morning I felt hung over and exhausted. I also needed to get D back to his office where his car was. We both took K to school and had a nice drive, got some coffee and kissed goodbye. Thankfully there was no morning traffic back to the Westside.

I came home, chilled and looked up hypoglycemia, which I had as a child. I had ten out of twelve symptoms, as far as I knew I had no seizure and was not comatose. I've had days where I don't eat, but I never ended up almost wrecking my car because my brain was fried. I was not proud of myself or my behavior and I sure as hell wasn't going to be skipping meals any time soon. I freaked out over sitting in traffic and being late and then sat in a room for 90 minutes. I can only imagine what would have happened if I got back into my car after 9 minutes. I really should thank the pathetically unorganized casting people for calming me down enough to get back into my car and arrive at my destination relatively unscathed.

Today I got a call from K's agent that started "K has a callback today at 5:30" I replied with "Oh hell no!!!" the poor new intern was a little surprised "but it's a callback" she said. I told her that I could not go back into that traffic two days in a row, not even for Keebler "Oh it's for Old Navy," she said. In Santa Monica? Oh no problem! I also knew that K's best bud N would be there as well. I texted N's mom AH and we agreed to meet early so the girls can play. I left the same exact time as yesterday and by 4:30 was sipping a latte one hour early for the callback. As we got up to leave I got a call from the agent letting me know that the Old Navy casting was running late and K's new time was 6:15. Of course it was. We sat back down and let the girls play some more.

At least I wasn't in traffic, I was enjoying time with a friend while our daughter's played happily. I really have no reason to complain AH lives 100 miles away and makes this commute often as N works a lot. She never complains, freaks out or has near misses with her car. She is calm and relaxed every time I see her, N is too. Interesting, I freak out and my daughter most likely pays the price. Next time traffic is horrendous I promise not to freak out (I mean it this time) I will remain calm. If we're late, we're late. Who cares anyway? There are so many auditions and we go to most of them. My mood has to effect K negatively, just as her bad mood effects me.

Tomorrow K has 2 auditions and we will have D with us which will help tremendously. We will go, not in our scheduled time slot, but when it fits our schedule. I keep forgetting that K is the boss here, the agents work for her. When she tells me to relax, I need to listen she's my boss too and I don't want to piss her off. I'm sure I do that enough.

I am really hoping that this story does not end in a trilogy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Beauty schooled

I am a total product junkie, I have closets and drawers full of makeup and beauty products. You need it? I've got it. I don't really use most of these things, I just have an obsessive need to covet them. During the holidays I do much of my shopping online and scour the internets for great deals. I often randomly purchase amazing bargains and then decide to whom they should be gifted. Makeup deals seem to abound around this time and my "gifting" collection grows and grows. How can I pass up a complete collection from Tarte for $40? I mean seriously, it's a $250 value! A lot of this stuff goes out the door as gifts, some of it goes in my cabinet so I can make gift baskets during the year and some of it goes to me, just like I had planned.

It's not that I don't like to wear makeup, I love to, I also need to wear it, I just don't know exactly what to do with it. I get the basic stuff, concealer over moisturizer, powder over that. Then some eye stuff and mascara (love long eyelashes!!) Also there's a bunch of eyebrow stuff involved. I had a bad eyebrow waxing experience so I do my own now, big mistake, but thanks to my Anastasia Brow-Express kit you can't really tell, and if you can, just don't tell me. I miss getting my eyebrows done, I was almost at that perfect shape too, I had removed my tweezers from my "toolkit" after promising not to use them and they were shaping up nicely. Then the chick left, I was assured her replacement was just as good. Oh no she wasn't. I was miserable and back to square one. Then during the summer K and I were on a playdate with my friend J and her daughter E, J decided we all needed makeovers, she did the kids hair and makeup and then went after me with careful attention to my eyebrows. She went a little overboard and I went out the next day to buy my first ever eyebrow kit, who know such a thing even existed? I was thrilled, it had stencils, powders, brushes, everything I needed for the perfect brow, or to clean up a mistake made from too much Cabernet. Did I say we had some wine? Girls, do me a favor, always turn down a makeover if it's done with wine. Just trust me on this.

This past Monday my bestie A invited me to a private party at the BeneFit store in Santa Monica, this is one of my favorite brands (their products have awesome names like Dr. Feelgood, Dear John and Sugarbomb, how cute is that?) and I was excited to go. Then K got called for a late audition, A said it would be OK to bring her since she's one of those kids that does well around adults, especially around girls and makeup. We were a little late and I was annoyed, the store was doing a complimentary treatment, and I'm a sucker for that as well. I got there in enough time but I felt rushed, they assured me that there was plenty of time to do whatever I wanted. What I really wanted was an eyebrow wax but (not to bash or anything) BeneFit was the scene of my eyebrow crime. So I settled on an eyelash tint.

Just a little background on me: I like spa treatments and all that girlie stuff but I have issues with people I don't know touching me, so while I enjoy whatever it is I'm getting, there is a bit of stress involved. I specifically hate anyone coming near my face and eyes, so I have no idea what spawned my desire to have someone place black dye on my eyes. That's such a lie, of course I do, the possibility of having beautiful black shiny lashes without having to clump on mascara every morning was a dream come true. Vanity trumps fear in my world. So I let this girl cover my eyes with Vaseline so the dye wouldn't spread and I was told to keep my eyes closed for 20 minutes. This was told to me after she put the dye on, I had a 6 year old running around a makeup store knowing her mom was immobile, this was going to suck. It was actually relaxing, A had taken over as K's mommy (they adore each other) and for the first time that day I got to relax. I could hear K laugh with the girls and then delight in the fact that "Love Train" had started playing, she then went into a dance, which I couldn't see but heard was adorable. I heard another girl next to me opt for the same treatment and we laughed about looking ridiculous. About that time my eyes started to burn, I tried to just relax, bringing it up would have caused me to feel worse, thinking about it wasn't any better. I did my best yoga breathing (like I use when I get pissed off at my mom or MIL) and in minutes it was over. I was cleaned up and brought to the mirror. I was so excited!!! I looked and saw.....not much difference, oh well. At least I didn't pay for it.

As we left I was handed a goody bag (free makeup!!!) which actually made the whole experience worth it. I am such a sucker for anything free, especially all wrapped up in a pretty pink bag. I went home put K to bed and fixated on my eyelashes and then my eyebrows. I started looking up places that did eyelash tinting to see if I can get better results. What do they call people like me? Glutton's for punishment? Not only did I get sucked into yet another beauty ritual but one that goes against all I stand for!!!

I suppose I could be one of those girls that takes hours to get ready, but it gets boring. I'll do it if we have a wedding or dare I say it, date night. I want to be able to look stunningly beautiful with zero effort so I buy all these products and hope that they work through osmosis. They don't. I will now become obsessed with eyelash tinting to achieve the perfect lash look and have it look real. After a few times having my eyes burn I'll hopefully move on to something else. Summer is coming and that means sandals, that also means that my boot wearing feet will need lots of TLC, that means pedicures (I try so hard to do it myself but I fail miserably) every few weeks. This might be worse than the eyelashes. I absolutely can't stand anyone touching my feet, but to look nice in my cute summer shoes I will endure it. Even when they scrape the bottom of my feet, which for some reason is the only time I am ticklish, I will not complain because in this case the end totally justifies the mean.

I never thought of myself as vain, but I suppose I must be if I'm willing to break so many of my rules just to look good. It gets worse, lately the lines on my forehead have been really bugging me, especially the deep awful ones between my above mentioned eyebrows. I have been looking into filling them with some kind of poison. The threat of poison being injected into my head is actually lower on my list than the way those lines make me feel. I remember looking at my grandma E and thinking how beautiful she was, how happy she was with the lines on her face that took a lifetime to earn. While I strive each and every day to be just like her this is when area where I'm going rogue (yeah, I said that). I'm going to fight that, sorry grandma, I love you but you never had to live in Los Angeles, this is a tough town.

A while ago K told me one of her friends said that I looked like a teenager. While that kid's parents clearly need to take a trip to the eye doctor, I was happy to hear that, K was happier, she told me she loves having a cool young mom. I love that she thinks that. I also love having an arsenal of beauty weapons at my disposal to keep my little girl happy.

The things I do for my kid.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Must Haves for Spring/Summer 2010

Absolutely necessary for this season:

White leggings, Skecher's Twinkle Toes, Uggs (real, of course) leopard backpack (with animal charms), wide headbands, anything black, tank tops in every color, giant sunglasses and a white chihuahua in a cute little purse.

Paris? Milan? New York?

Hardly, just the things my little 6 year old fashionista absolutely positively cannot live without. Sadly, I will buy or have already bought her most of this stuff and it will be forgotten about about five minutes after the tags are ripped off and the receipt is thrown away. Except the dog, that's so not happening.

I can remember way back to first grade and the only things I wanted came from the bookstore, and the pet store, I wanted a dog too but terrible allergies made that an impossibility. I don't remember caring that much about my clothes at 6 years old, I was irked that my mother deemed it necessary to dress my younger sister in the same exact outfits, that was lame. I do cringe when I look back at pictures, maybe I should have cared more about clothes. Awful, just awful and I never bought the "that's what all kids wore" excuse, I mean I can clearly see what those other kids were wearing in school pictures. Nice try.

K on the other hand, is a completely different story. It's just more of me not wanting to repeat history so K has a ridiculously gorgeous wardrobe. History is not destiny! Dr. Phil said this in therapy this morning and I loved it, I was oh so jealous it didn't come from me. I immediately stole it and put it up on my Facebook status (of course I did). I know using a statement like that to describe the reason behind my child's wardrobe is a little dramatic, but it fits in with all I do for her. I remember being a little older and desperately caring about my clothing but always feeling embarrassed because I never got to wear what I wanted and to make it worse my mother never lost the desire to dress her two children like twins. I suppose I should be grateful that I was the older one, once I grew out of something hideous it was passed on to my sister who would then have to wear the same horrible outfit for years.

K will never know what it's like not to have what other kids have, part of this has to do with stores like Old Navy and Target, part of it is having a smart and savvy mom who can score a $200 ensemble for $20 but mostly it has to do K having parents who both know what it's like to grow up and not be heard. The complete irony here? K usually likes to wear her old leggings or sweat pants with tank tops but she is completely obsessed with shoes and boots and has an extensive wardrobe of them as well. We usually go over her wardrobe choice the night before, sweats are chosen on the two days K has PE, the other days outfits are a mash-up of dresses, skirts, leggings and tights paired with a lovely shirt that we both agree is adorable. Sometimes I will put together something so perfect and she fights me tooth and nail, usually giving in because I throw in a hat, the second she gets positive feedback on it she adores it.

K also gets clothing from modeling, sometimes she'll book a job that pays in trade instead of money. These are my favorite jobs, they are always really quick and she can walk away with the most incredible clothes. The kind of clothing that can usually be seen in European magazines like Vogue Bambini. She has one outfit that retails for $300, for a kids outfit! She never wanted to wear it either, I had to beg her one holiday, the reaction she got was impressive and it is now her favorite. She feels good when she looks good. This isn't lost on a child like it should be but feeling good when you look good is much better than feeling embarrassed when you don't. Last year she asked for Uggs, all her friends had them, she said, including her BFF, she had never really asked for anything with such urgency before. While forking over $100 for kids shoes is ridiculous we bought them for her. She has been modeling and acting for years and has made a nice amount of cash (which is all in the bank) she never once asked to buy anything with her money before these Uggs. So we spent the day finding the right style in her size, the look on her face in the last store was worth the price, she was so proud of the boots she earned. That money is still in her account, these boots were a gift from Daddy.

The things that haunted my childhood are things that my child will never know: abuse, neglect, abandonment, repression and yes, even the terribly awful twin-dressing. While some of these are not as detrimental as the others I treat them all with the same fervor as they were all equally important to me as a child. Some may think it's silly to fill a child's closet to make up for the mistakes of the past. I disagree for many reasons, one of them being I simply love buying things for my little girl. Especially when she never asks for them, that's all me. Besides, I know that the other stuff is easy, D and I will, with absolute certainty, make sure that K is never in a position where any of those things could happen to her. Every item I buy for K is a physical assurance of History is not Destiny, and it feels great.

If only I could fit into a 5T!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Giving Me

When K was born someone bought us "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, it sits in her library with all of his other books (which I adore). It's the one book I never choose to read her, and the one book that never comes at the right time. She usually picks this one when D is out, (he usually reads to her at night and has been since she was born) after a long and exhausting day. A few years ago after such a day she asked for it, I obliged since it's always "kid's Choice," when I was finished she looked at me and said "Mommy, I love the tree, she's so nice and she gives that mean boy everything. Why?" I told her she does that because the tree loves him. She said that she didn't like the boy because he was mean and never said please or thank you. I think she might have been 4, a pretty keen observation for such a small child. She also told me that I probably don't like the book because of the same reason. She was sort of correct.

I never really thought much of this book, I mean I'm sure it sat in my kid library but it was never really a Top 10 favorite. Besides I don't remember my parents reading it or anything really to me as a kid, my dad worked too late (and I was in bed early). They divorced when I was 7 though, so I probably wouldn't have too many of those anyway. I don't know about my mom, can't remember any reading from her. I do remember her singing me a really pretty song when I was little, something about a little girl turning into a woman, OMG that was actually a nice childhood memory, cool.

So back to the tree. Every time we read this book it's at the end of an extremely grueling day, it's almost like K is taunting me with her book choice. She of course is not, she remembers that it was one I had as a child and we always discuss it when we're finished. If she does it on purpose, good for her and her young evil genius mind, she will do well in life :) Sometimes she's sad for the tree, sometimes she's mad at the boy and sometimes she asks how a guy can make a house out of sticks. I love these conversations because I get to see the book from a completely different perspective. I often ask her if she feels like the tree or the boy, she says she likes to climb trees, eat apples and play king of the forest like the boy when he's little but that's about it. I tell her that I feel like the tree sometimes and she just laughs, "you're not a tree Mama, you're a Mama." The innocence in her is something that I never want her to lose, I never want her to feel like the tree but I may be looking at this all wrong:

I look at this book probably like most parents do: The tree (parent) is selfless, giving unconditionally always putting the needs of the boy before anything. The boy (child) is selfish, greedy and never gives back. I feel this way often, I give my mind, body and soul to K daily, and sometimes I receive little in return. In fact after one of "those" days I actually feel like the old tree stump, except someone loaded that stump up with M-80s and blew it up. I need to do something about this, I don't need more branches or apples, I need a different perspective.

Maybe it's my fault for giving into K, for giving her everything I have and not keeping anything for myself. Maybe I need to stop doing everything for her so she can be more self reliant. Maybe I should look at it from the boy's perspective: he has a place to go that's safe, he has a place to get what he needs and in the end he has a safe and familiar place to rest. The tree is happy to oblige the boy, she gives her fruit, branches and then trunk, she does this freely and is only sad when she has nothing left to give. She is happy again when they can both simply spend their time together.

I suppose we should see ourselves in both the tree and the boy, and blame neither. They both rely on each other for sustenance and happiness. I should not expect K to say thank you every time I give part of myself to her and I should not expect her to to understand the responsibility of being a parent. Of course she should come to me with her needs and wants, that's what I am here for, where else is she supposed to go but her parents? Who else is going to give her the tools and skills she needs to become her own tree? To learn how to give freely of herself when she is older? The tree needs the boy just as much as the boy needs the tree.

In the end, after a lifetime of giving and receiving, the tree, now a stump and the boy, now a man, are now equal and will spend their time together in peaceful existence.

I am so reading this book to K tomorrow night, if only for the conversation that follows.

I better bring some tissues.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't cross me!!

No worries, I'm not talking to my MIL, Republicans or anyone in Congress, in fact I am going to do my very best to keep politics out of this today. I may be all talked out on that subject. I can't promise that I won't post Keith Olbermann's Special Comment though.

This morning D and I did traffic safety at K's school. Every morning hundreds of SUVs roll up to our small school dump out kids ranging in age from 5 to 11, maybe even 12. To make this a quick and safe deposit parents are forced, I mean parents happily volunteer when it's their classes turn. D and I always do this, it's no big deal and it's necessary as D sometimes relies on this method to drop off K. I refuse to do this so on the rare occasion I take her to school, she knows I'm there until the late bell. Sorry K. Anyway the email to our class went out a few weeks ago, it took me a while to get to it, our class and school is clearly email happy so we not only learn what's going on in the class but also get to know who needs a good DJ for an upcoming Bar Mitzvah or info on a lost dog. We figured we'd sign up eventually, but then we were bombarded by more emails. The tone went from firmly asking to begging to guilt. Ugh, fine. I remembered to look and picked 4 days for each of us, together of course, neither one of us would miss the chance to see the other in a hideous orange safety vest. We actually doubled the 4 required spots per family, but that's how we roll, safety first. Now when the emails were sent I could delete them, and they came A LOT! Finally the official list came out last week and I was not shocked to see that the ones sending the emails were hardly on it.

So at 7:45AM this morning D and I stood at Zone C dressed in bright orange ready to open car doors, greet kids and move the traffic along (after we made fun of each other of course). Since it's the week before Spring Break it was pretty slow, then it got closer to 8:10 (when the bell rings). A few parents, especially the ones I know, were friendly and we exchanged greetings while I got their little ones out of the car, they said goodbye to me and the kids took off without saying bye to their parents. This happened so many times I started to get upset. I understand that a curbside drop off makes a hug goodbye a little difficult but not even a "bye!" "see ya!" "have a nice day!" Nothing! Some of these parents didn't even help their kids get stuff out of the trunk, they luckily had automatic trunk openers making any contact unnecessary. I'm not saying all the families were like this but it was about 75% and I'm being nice. The friends I have at the school all passed me on the street as they walked their kids into school and the ones that dropped off, all made an effort to wish their kids a happy day, some of the kids were embarrassed and bolted but some of them leaned over and gave a kiss goodbye.

When the bell rang K ran up to D and gave him a hug and kiss and then she ran over to me, I picked her up and got a wonderful kiss and hug goodbye. As we walked back to the car, sadly our orange vests had gone back in the basket, I asked D about his drop off traditions. He said she tries to make a clean getaway but he does whatever he can to get a proper goodbye.

I get the kids point of view on this, they want to hang with their friends, they want to look cool, they want to start their day. If their mornings are anything like ours things move ridiculously fast, they are just keeping with the pace. I do not, however, see how parents can just ignore their kids, not even say goodbye or even see if they actually walk through the door to the school. I saw parents on the phone, parents drinking giants mugs (yes, giant ceramic mugs) of coffee and even parents reading the newspaper while their children grabbed backpacks, lunchboxes and school projects. I suppose that's the real job of the traffic safety volunteers: To wish the kids a good day, help them with seat belts or booster seats and make sure they have what they need before their parents sped off.

I also see the same thing when I pick K up in the afternoon. I get there early (because parking sucks so badly) and just chill in my car going through emails, listening to music or watching the kids run around the yard. I get out about 10 minutes before the bell and chit chat with the moms I know, make plans for playdates and discuss the latest gossip (I will deny this publicly). When the bell rings K knows that I am there, she even knows where I wait, we usually have a discussion about playing in the yard for a while. Sometimes she does sometimes she doesn't. When she does it's always with the same kids that are left alone, unsupervised, sometimes for hours. Sometimes we take a long time to walk to the car, we look at flowers, wave at friends and take our time. When we drive back around to get home, we still see kids waiting outside for their parents, waiting on a very busy street where drivers rarely notice the speed limit.

I know that some of these kids are older and live up the street, this doesn't bother me so much, it's the 6 and 7 year old first graders, K's friends that should not be left to wait. Sure there's our crossing guard G who knows every single family and most of the kids by name, he does what he can to keep these kids safe but he's only one man. He also has to escort kids and parents across the street. I've actually heard parents say that they don't worry about being late, G will watch the kids.

The irony here is that these parents will generously give cash and donations when the school is in need. They will rally up friends to insure the budgets cuts are not severe and offer to hold fundraising parties in their beautiful homes. They will volunteer for Bookfair and all the great events that occur in our school. This is the knowledge I gain when the gossip starts flowing. None of these things happen anonymously either.

I don't know the point of this post, it just bothered me all day, thinking that these kids didn't start their day the way they should have. Maybe that's why we signed up for so many spots, we can give kids four days of morning greetings, who knows maybe it will rub off on their parents. Maybe when it's their turn they'll see how awful it is to watch a child be ignored at the start of his day.

We are off to traffic safety again tomorrow, D and I will be waiting at Zone C in bright orange vests with big smiles, hoping that maybe some kids will start their school day with a smile. Trying to fix a problem, not by throwing money at it but by throwing some compassion to it.

Hope it rubs off. The compassion, not the orange, it's an awful color.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spare Change

Last week I saw a video of a teabagger throwing money at a guy who was protesting a health care reform protest. Here's Huffington Post's description:

"Got Parkinson's? I do and you might. Thanks for your help," the older man's sign reads. He wandered over toward the anti-reform teabaggers protesting outside the district office of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio). The Tea Party's responses, captured on video by the Columbus Dispatch, were unflinchingly callous and cruel.

"If you're looking for a handout, you're in the wrong part of town. Nothing for free. You have to work for everything you get," one teabagger chided, bending over to get in the face of the seated older man. The next Tea Partier dropped a dollar in his face, saying, "Start a pot, I'll pay for you. I'll decide when to give you money," in a mocking tone of voice. After some grumbling about "Communism," an offscreen teabagger yelled, "No more handouts!"

It was disgusting, it was uncalled for and it was wrong. While I understand that a fringe element exists in all parties, the teabaggers seem to have more than their fair share. Watching the Dems pass Health Care Reform tonight was a history making event. D and I sat with K and watched the numbers cheering for each Yay. While we all knew it was coming, seeing all the No votes coming from the Republicans was disappointing. I was hoping for even just one Yay vote. Nope, of course I knew it would never come, not from the "party of No"

Following the vote was the typical Republican rhetoric, it was like watching the losing team after a kindergarten soccer game. Except these children are really nasty. When the Republicans introduced a motion to recommit (or Kill the Bill) Bart Stupak stood up and said that it just an effort to deprive 32 million Americans of health insurance. While that generated applause from the Dems, some of Red Party People yelled at Stupak saying "It's YOUR bill!!!" Once order on the floor was restored someone then yelled "baby killer!" referring to pro life Stupak's agreement to change his vote after Obama offered to sign an executive order to affirm that that no federal funds be used for abortions under the HCR bill.

Clearly the fringe now roam freely in the Congress.

Change is inevitable, you can kick and scream all you want but it's going to happen. I tried so hard not to write about this tonight, hoping to get it all out on Facebook but that "baby killer" comment was just ridiculous.

Obama said in his"victory" speech tonight that "We rose above the weight of our politics." I hate to disagree with the President (at least the one I supported) but clearly that isn't true. We didn't rise above anything, he fought tooth and nail to get this bill passed (again) this time without the help of Teddy Kennedy. While I'm sad that Teddy Kennedy (a lifelong supporter of HCR) didn't live to see this day I'm glad he didn't have to see fellow politicians act like spoiled brats who didn't get their way. Especially his "replacement" who said the following: "Today's vote shows that leaders in Washington continue to ignore the will of the people." The will of the people is to have affordable health care. The will of the people is to not go into debt paying health insurance premiums. The will of the people was shown in November of 2008 when they elected Obama as President of their United States. The will of the people hopes for change.

"This is what change looks like" said Obama earlier, right after his bipartisan health care reform bill was passed solely by Democrats. I might have to look up the definition of bipartisan. The passing of this bill came down to the wire and took concessions by Obama in his own party. I guess nothing's perfect and even small change is still change. Obama might be the very first Clutch Politician, pulling out a win seconds before the game ends.

I'm going back to Facebook now, I want to see how all the fights are progressing. If you go onto my page you will see a quote in the space where you can write something about yourself, mine is quote by Teddy and it's been there a while. It sums up all that I feel tonight:

There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mirror, mirror

I'm not a big fan of mirrors. That's not exactly true, in the past I was not happy passing a mirror, I wasn't thrilled with the image staring back at me. I'm the same way with pictures, which is why I always preferred to be behind the camera. It wasn't just about the way I looked physically, I couldn't take looking into the eyes of the impostor directly in front of me.

During this past year I went through an emotional and physical metamorphosis. One is quite obvious and the other not so much. The irony for me is that people seem to fixate on the physical transformation rather than the emotional one, which to me was the most difficult, important and visible. If we run into people we haven't seen in a while I always get the same questions regarding my weight loss: How did I do it? Was it difficult? Could I write down the foods that I don't eat? While I am happy to tell them all the information they are seeking I am surprised that they never ask why I did it. It's not like it's huge difference, I went from being around 135ish to 110, I was always an average weight and wore a size 6. I had a few extra pounds that I wanted to shed but made no huge effort to do so. Eliminating certain foods from my diet made me healthier, not eating junk food as a comfort and dealing with what bothered me made me slimmer. The weight loss was really just side effect of the spiritual journey I took to get back to myself. Why is it the one thing that people cannot stop talking about?

D, K and I went to a party on Saturday, a good friend of ours (and the best man at our wedding) was turning 40. I was happy to be celebrating this milestone event but I knew that we would be seeing people who haven't seen us in a while and the inevitable weight loss questions were bound to occur. I knew this was going to happen based on my wardrobe choice as well, I wanted D to have some nice arm candy for a change, my outfit might have been a bit much for a backyard party that started at 3PM. Whateves, that's how I roll now. I was right. Not that this part really bothers me, I mean people telling me that I look great (how bad did I look before??) is always nice to hear. They see the transformation that took place on my body but keep missing the one that took place in my soul. One friend even asked, with great concern if everything was OK. After about 15 discussions on the evil of carbs, mostly said with a glass of wine in my hand (the only bad carbs I try to consume), I had a few converts who wanted to get ready for beach season. As the day turned into night I finally heard the question I had been waiting for all this time: "So why did you do it?"

It felt so good to tell someone the truth about my journey and how I needed a personality make-over. I told this friend, LC, that I had become a stranger in my own head and I didn't like it, I talked about how great it was to confront my fears and win. To do things that I have always wanted to do and say but never had the guts. I would have shown my tattoos but I didn't think dropping trou was a good idea. It also felt good to hear that I looked happy, that meant more to me than hearing anything else. D and I also had a very personal discussion with a friend about the realities of marriage and how to avoid going down the same path that we did. A year ago we have not done that, we would have heard stories about someone's troubled household and walked away, only to say how thankful we were it wasn't like that in our house (it was).

In the past, D and I would go to these parties and separate at the door only to join each other in rounding up K to leave. While we didn't spend the entire day joined at the hip, we did spend time together enjoying the party as well as each other. It was nice to pass each other and share a smile or a touch, to share looks that meant "I love you" instead of the usual "Can we get the hell out of here already?"

So yes, I lost some weight and my body has taken on a different shape. I look better and dress to show it. People are amazed that it happened so fast and it seems so easy. What they are really seeing is the physical reaction to an emotional process, they notice that my hips are smaller but they also have to notice that a smile has replaced the usual scowl. They have to notice that I am genuinely happy and more relaxed, how could they not see the difference in the way D and I interact with each other? I have many answers to that question. The main one being that we (collectively in this case) need to know that other people are unhappy, it validates our own strife. D and I were probably role models in that arena. Now we are showing off a different reflection, one that takes lots and lots of work. I guess now I understand why people fixate on my weight and not my happiness. It's relatively easy to shed pounds, it's extremely difficult to shed the past and all it brings to your present and future. I'm proud of the work D and I have done, it shows in mostly all we do now. D used to say that I did this for me but I think now he realizes the real reason. In fact yesterday I told my friend LC that I actually did it for D, who then went to tell D that he was a lucky man. He had no idea how right he was.

I think now when people ask me how I lost weight I'm going to tell them the truth:

I stopped living in the past and the pounds just slipped away.

Now when I walk passed a mirror I can actually look into and not cringe when I see my reflection. This has nothing to do with the 25 pounds I lost but the 25 years that no longer drive me.

Eat your heart out Snow White!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The list goes on

About a year ago there was a Facebook list thing going around. You were supposed to write a note with 25 random things about yourself. Hmmm, about that time I was living in Egypt, somewhere along denial (oooh, sorry I really felt the need for a crappy joke) coasting through life like everything was peachy. Instead of writing 25 dumb things I thought about this list and what it could say about me. It was actually my emotional cotillion and writing some truths among random facts was freeing. Not only was putting the words from my head to paper, or intewebs in this case, a huge weight off my body but the response I received was invaluable. Friends thought I was brave for admitting some tough truths and being so honest. That kind of feedback felt amazing, rewarding and natural. I put myself out there, my real self and no one was disgusted, repulsed or put off, in fact it was just the opposite.

I realize now that was the start of my evolution, if I could open up and be accepted via the internet, surely I could at least try in person. Really what did I have to lose? Slowly and careful I let bits and pieces of myself come out, and eventually I shed the weight of my past both literally and figuratively and reaped the rewards emotionally and physically. Not only did I find a nice place in which to exist but I almost fit into the same pants I wore when I was 16. Why I didn't do this sooner is beyond me.

So I am copying this list here, 25 random things about me, kind of a like a clip show. Not out of laziness (well maybe there is a little of that, it's been a loooooooong week) but I really want to put these facts here. Some of them are things that I had never discussed and some are completely idiotic but make me, well me. So enjoy these random things about me, and if you haven't done this already, take the time to write your own. It may send you on a wonderful journey!!

1. I tend to put off things that make me uncomfortable which is why it's taken me this long to write this list.

2. I adore my husband. I think he is the most amazing person I have ever met. I could fill this list with all the reasons I love him. He is my very best friend and always has been.

3. I am in awe of my daughter.

4. I never ask for help. Especially when I really need it. I will try to do it all and make it perfect even if it sucks all the life out of me, and it usually does.

5. I love football, I do not understand people who do not share in this love. Seriously, football rules, even when the Jets lose. Dave and I mention our love of football and our respective teams in our wedding vows. I am not kidding either.

6. I hate when there are limes in my drink. It drives me crazy and I have no idea why.

7. I tend to exaggerate.

8. I have no middle ground. Either I love it or I hate it, this drives my poor husband crazy but not as much as #7.

9. I am very loyal. I get mad when the ones I love get hurt. I can forgive someone who hurts me but if you hurt the ones I love I will hunt you down and kill you. (see item #7)

10. I have spent 75% of my life wishing I was someone else and the last 10 years grateful that the lessons learned during that time has made the person I am now.

11. I constantly talk to myself. Sometimes I have whole conversations, apparently I am a really good listener.

12. I have second guessed every decision I have ever made except the one I made when I gave Dave my phone number on the night we met.

13. When I was 18 I went to Spain with my father, on the street in Marbella a Saudi Arabian Sheik made him an offer for me.

14. I do not forget a thing yet there are years of my childhood that are completely blank.

15. My mother's second husband was a horrible person and tormented me for years. I kept/keep most of this a secret because I was embarrassed and afraid. I still to this day cannot say his name and sometimes have nightmares that he is still in my life. I imagine that this is the reason for #14.

16. I am a terrible liar, please don't ask me a question unless you are prepared for the truth!

17. i used to hang out with some famous MLB players.

18. I always send a thank you card and I am thrilled when I get one. I am trying to get over the fact that my obsession with manners is my problem.

19. I cannot sing to save my life but in my car I am Diana Ross!!

20. I know if I try hard enough I can do anything. It's my fear of failure keeps me from doing things.

21. I know all the words to 99% of the songs on Sirius 70s and unfortunately Sirius Kids Place Live.

22. I love hanging out with my daughter, sometimes I forget that she is only 5. She's the best girlfriend I ever had. I am so proud of who she is and so happy that she will grow up in a happy and loving environment, and even happier that I get to watch it.

23. On my first date with Dave he pulled me into an alley to kiss me. It is the single most romantic moment in my life and I still get goosebumps when I think about it.

24. Our wedding was the best party I ever went to (and I've been to the Emmy's!) People still talk about it.

25. I didn't think I would have anything to put on this list and now I wish it were 50 things about me.

Can I add that I am so happy to have found all my old friends on Facebook and that I would not have been able to write this without seeing how all the people I know and have known are absolutely amazing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aural Fixations

Yesterday I had planned to write about music, I was inspired by an album I listened to on the way home from Dr. Phil. When I finished writing about the session and fear it was way too long and I figured I'd just do it today.

Then I heard the awful news, Alex Chilton had passed away. Chilton was the singer and guitarist of Big Star, one of the most influential rock groups to emerge from the early 1970s and a personal favorite of mine. Big Star was without a doubt, the influence behind many of the tunes that flow from my iPod. Chilton was only 16 when he took the Box Tops to No. 1 with the classic hit "The Letter." I was crushed and saddened at the news, Big Star was set to play SXSW this weekend, the show has now turned into a tribute and memorial, and any hopes I had of seeing them live are gone forever.

If you don't know Big Star, please check them out.

Now back to my regularly scheduled rambling. So during my after our appointment with Dr. Phil I played a Snow Patrol album that I love. One of the songs made me think of D and what he must have felt like before he sought out our therapist:

I just keep hoping that your heart opens

I know that's what he wanted, to get back to that time and place when my heart was open and love flowed freely.

It's not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it's right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

I loved this song since it first came out of my car speakers years ago, and I suppose I always knew why. It goes way back to my fascination with music and the importance of it in my life. Being shy, quiet and intimidated for most of my existence, I internalized everything. Couple that with abuse, oppression and insecurity it's no wonder I had no voice. What couldn't be quieted were the feelings and emotions I had, but they were just stuck inside my head and heart, waiting to be free. Then I heard "The End" by the Doors. Jim Morrison's deep hypnotic voice was not only only beautiful but he sang with such pain that it almost seemed comforting. I was pretty young but I recognized what he was feeling, I was suddenly obsessed with this band and troubled singer. I read all I could find on Jim Morrison, being a latchkey kid actually had some advantages, and I spent a lot of time in the library when my mother thought I was home.

Music suddenly became an outlet for me, while I had no musical ability whatsoever (and still don't) I released my emotions through the music I played. I found songs that said what I wish I could and played them over and over (insert your aural pleasure joke here). I have been doing this for years. I know something "speaks" to me when it's instantly familiar although I've never heard it. When I meet people that share my taste I know that not only are they awesome (insert smile here) but they most likely will become a permanent part of my life. This doesn't happen too often but when it does I'm thrilled. In fact I found out about Alex Chilton because one of these friends had his picture as his Facebook profile, I clicked and found out the terrible news, I suppose it seemed right to come from the person that really got me obsessed with Big Star in the first place, thanks CB.

I've been medicating through music for years now. Playing songs that told my story and spoke for me when I was too scared. I would even spin tunes that said all the things I wanted to hear as well.

It's hard to argue when
you won't stop making sense
But my tongue still misbehaves and it
keeps digging my own grave with my
hands open, and my eyes open

That was D telling me that he knew I was right and that he knew he's wasn't doing the right thing. On the same album I was telling him things too:

For once I want to be the car crash
Not always just the traffic jam
Hit me hard enough to wake me
And lead me wild to your dark roads

hear me

Headlights before me
So beautiful, so clear
Reach out and take it
'Cause I'm so tired of all this fear

save me

My tongue is lost so I can't tell you
Please just see it in my eyes

love me

I played these songs for D today, he said he never really listens to the lyrics, as a musician I suppose he sees (and hears) it differently. I'm glad I have the tools to speak now, this process would have taken a long time. Music has gotten me through so many tough times and hearing something from those times is like seeing an old friend. I don't remember the bad parts, just the music and lyrics that got me to a better place. I am still rarely without a soundtrack, I don't think that will change and I don't want it to. While I now have the ability to speak my mind and ask for what I want, I still need to know that there are others out there, struggling to get it right and learning when it goes wrong.

So in the words of Alex Chilton:

Years ago I was all set to go
and I've been trying hard against long odds
It gets so hard at times like this to even hang around
I can either stand or fall
and I believe I'm gonna stand tall

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

There is nothing to fear but myself

Wednesday's are always interesting for us. Going to Dr. Phil usually brings something up to the surface that neither of us expected, but that's what makes it fun. Before we even stepped foot into the office we met and talked over lattes. D brought up that he felt melancholy after reading my last few blog entries. I was perplexed, I thought I had taken it to a place of positivity and look on my face showed just that. D said that he loves all the good stuff I was writing, he was happy that I was seeing him in a new and bright light. he was remorse over the feelings that I had before, the feelings that I referenced when writing about the past. He said that it's sucks that we had to go through that, that he should never have let this happen to us. I let him know that it was OK, that he can't go back and change what happened. He needed to look at it from a different perspective. Somewhere along the way we broke something that was precious to both of us, placing or taking blame wasn't going to change anything and will only keep it in the negative. I said we needed to break so we could put it back together, better and stronger than before. I compared us to a puzzle: some pieces were missing, a few fell off and some might never have been there in the first place. So what did we do? We took it apart and started to put it back together piece by piece. Taking what I read and seeing the past wasn't going to help.

We thought about the word melancholy and D changed it to bittersweet which would include the positive aspect, besides it sounds like chocolate, which is always good. We sat there for a few minutes, proud of the pre-therapy work we had done, and then it hit me: I had convinced him to draw out the positive aspects of my messages, to look at and see the future which is good and not the past, which was painful. OMG!! I immediately covered mouth and declared that I was officially dripping optimism, when did that happen? I was always holding a half empty glass and now it seems like that cup runneth over. I was caught somewhere between joy and disgust, surely they are going to take away my Jaded NYer card.

All that before our session even started!

When we got into Dr. Phil's office he asked us where we wanted to go with the session, I prefer a more organic type of therapy and told what we just discussed and we took it from there. For the first time in a very long time we did not bring up one fact, we discussed without accusation, we did not place blame we just flowed, organically.

Then Dr.Phil brought up fear. Specifically what was my fear in going forward. I thought about this one and really, for the first time in my life I honestly (at that point at least) had no fear. I know what he was asking and what he thought my fear might be. As I wrote last night, opening up to my friends was freeing, I wasn't just letting them in I was letting it all out. The thing I was afraid of most, was myself. Afraid of letting the vulnerability out, not only for the world to see but for me to see it as well. D has seen the real me, my friends have seen the real me, Dr. Phil has always seen the real me, and through this writing I have seen the real me. The tough exterior I have around me is of course for my own protection, and I don't think I will lose that. I am likening myself to a Sea Urchin, super tough and spiky on the outside, almost impossible to get inside, but if you know what's in there, worth the effort. Inside is soft and somewhat sweet, and not for everyone.

Just like me.

I talked a bit today about the Evil Stepfather story I wrote about earlier, something I had not discussed with Dr. Phil, he saw a little more of where I was coming from and asked if I was ready to deal with this all and put it behind me. I told him I would never have brought it out if it wasn't ready to be thrown away. He asked if it would help to bring out more and I really don't think so. I'm pretty realistic about things and do not see the need, this isn't denial either. I don't see the benefit of going down that road anymore.

So the answer to the fear question? Nothing, I'm not afraid of the past, I'm no longer afraid of myself and I'm certainly not afraid of the future, which actually looks bright. I'm certainly not afraid of anything my MIL decides to fling my way, the way I see it, she has two choices: She can either get with the program and realize that she cannot possibly rip us apart, or she can stay on the same road she's been on and keep throwing insults which will no longer be tolerated. It's pretty much a win for D and I, no matter which direction she chooses. Am I afraid more people will be able to crack my shell? Not really, it's still pretty tough and if anyone manages to get inside they must think it's worth the effort and will be rewarded with all I have to offer (that sounds conceited but it's coming from a deeper place).

What do I really fear? I don't want to spend time thinking about shit like that anymore. I'll worry about something when I need to worry about it. I'll worry about K driving when I'm at the DMV with her and I'll worry about my upcoming traffic court date when I'm in front of the judge. Actually I do fear really small spaces and really crowded places, but I'll work on that. In the meantime if you're in a crowded elevator and I decide to walk don't be offended.

I'm still evolving.