Saturday, July 30, 2005

Faking It

My office is in such disarray I don’t know where to start. I have things to Ebay, scripts to file, coupons to clip, bills to pay, gifts to store in the closet (but I can’t put them in there since the closet is so disorganized), videos to watch, magazines to read, books to pour through, social events to mark on the calendar and the occasional Fisher Price fire truck that makes its way under my desk. All my responsibilities and events wouldn’t feel so overwhelming if I could file them all away neatly in some beautiful Pottery Barn furniture. Like my life, I’d like this room of mine organized. Serene. Professional. Straight lines and crisp edges but with a few art prints for stimulation and throw pillows for comfort. The sad truth is that to create this look I need about two thousand dollars. And since my husband and I aren’t going to finance my persona, I’m going to have to deal with my current desk set up: A black and brown laminate Ikea style ditty bought at a garage sale. I tend to have an eye, so while it’s not a shabby chic writing haven, it’s clean and useable in a post modern funky kind of way. It sits in front of lilac painted walls and lovely white double pained windows. Over the windows are sheer Crate N’Barrel style curtains that blow in the breeze on a cool summer night. I have a few white distressed accessories that hold pens and papers, as if to say to my desk, “Don’t worry that you’re not that attractive. Like an ugly woman, we’ll upgrade you from a 3 to an 8 with accessories.” The problem is that all this ‘I can work with this desk’ attitude is shot to hell when I glance to my right and see my husband’s desk. Not matching mine in the slightest, his furniture is an oak computer desk number straight of out Costco circa 1985. My father-in-law always reminds me, “That was an expensive desk back in the day.” He always forgets to add “And it was just as ugly.” James and I have been married five years this August, and all this time I’ve tried to look at the bright side of this geeky monstrosity with its open shelving and wires hanging out the back. With its cds and disk drives and batteries spilling over the top shelf. With its dusty monitors and bottom ledge holding automotive manuals and extension cords. I’d say to myself ‘This room is a true reflection of marriage. We are individuals who have our own minds and our way of doing things. It would be wrong to cover it up with overpriced catalog furniture that matches and is perfect. Cubby holes and cleverly designed doors might be attractive, but its just an illusion that covers up life's true crap.” I am quick to add that “When people walk into this room, they see what they get: A young couple who make the best of their financial situation and budget.”

And after I think on the bright side, I always end with “I hate my goddamn office!”

I suppose instead of bitching about my situation I should clean up my own desk the best I can. I must remind myself that one script sale will turn my shelppy office into a writers’ paradise in less than 24 hours. Ah, a fake Hollywood dream for a fake office that pretends James and I are exactly the same person with its lovely lines and consistent wood throughout… Am I less of a fake myself if I’m lusting after material goods but I know it’s wrong?

Tune into my next blog for more thoughts on furniture, God, and how to handle a cranky toddler more constructively than “This is just shit! I mean, pure, stinky, unadulterated shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!”

Ooooh, speaking of toddlers, I forgot the "Sophie and Dominic Highlite of the Day" in my last blog, so now you lucky viewers get two!

Sophie Highlight of the Day: She has added to her one-word vocabulary. Not only does the duck say “Gak! Gak!” but she will wave “Hiiiiii!” when she sees you (or if she picks up the phone.... or the remote which she thinks is a phone. Baby steps... ). Also, the other day at the beach, she almost coughed up a lung laughing in the ocean. That girl has no fear! (Except of going to sleep. Of that, she’s terrified.)

Dominic Highlight of the Day: Last week, I was trying to steam vegetables with Sophie clinging to my shin. I blurted out to James “For Godsake, I can’t even cook without a rug rat attached to my leg!” And Dominic screamed “No000!! I don’t want Mommy to cook the baby’s leg!” And then last night, when he was going to sleep, he said “Dora, Boots and the Dragon Tales stay inside the T.V. ... Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Monkey (Sophia) and Baby Jaguar (Dominic) stay ouuuuut of the T.V.. Clever kid! If only he could come up with more clever nicknames for himself and the family. I keep asking him to call me "Mama Goddess" but it hasn't stuck.

(* Pictures of Mama Bear and Papa Bear's desks. Guess whose is whose? Hint: Mine is the one with the tiny bottle of Zoloft on it)

Fore Play Station

So Wednesday night I’m on my way to the animation schmooze in Hollywood when I get a call from Warner Brothers about coming in to pitch animated series. Is it pure luck? Godlike intervention? Perhaps my tenth electronic note in two months that put the exec over the edge to finally tell her assistant “Get her in here so we can then block her email?” Don’t know, don’t care. Just happy to be going in. My partner and I attempt to be rejected by someone big at least once a month, so between this meeting and Carsey Warner in a few weeks, we will be ahead of our quota.

In between now and Friday, I must dig into my juvenile self (not that far of a stretch, unfortunately) and come up with "wacky!" and "killer!" ideas for boys between the ages of 7 – 8. (I’m thinking they like things like computers, fast food, Play Stations… oh, wait, that describes my husband. And Slim (My best friend’s husband ‘Formerly known as Bob’ who, on his one week vacation to Hawaii, has so far not surprised his wife with any island jewelry or wooed her with a romantic boat cruise, but has bought a Play Station on sale.) My point: I’m glad that Herb and I know the demographic this time around. Usually when we’re called in to pitch we blast them with a cornucopia of great ideas (and geeky vocabulary in an attempt to sound half way intelligent). The problem is that our variety of ideas are so diverse that we tend to miss the exact audience they're looking for. For example, at our last meeting, an executive loved our preschool pitch about a puppy that wants to be a comedian (“Stan Pup Comic”… This dog don’t want no stinking K to 9 job). Unfortunaley, though, he was really in need of teenage girl cartoons (Though I don’t know why, because most teenage girls I know hate cartoons. Either he was trying to find a new market, or that was his nice way of saying “You are more boring than a Harrison Ford interview”. I choose to believe the first reason.) It’s amazing how pushing the one simple question “What do you need” clears everything up.

If only men and women asked each other this, there’d be a lot less mind games, a lot more sex, and men would never ask their wives again “Honey, do you want to play video games with me?”

Monday, July 25, 2005

Go Fish

My husband just informed me that he was not watching "The History of Sea Turtles". It was instead the history of sea fishing. I can now sleep in peace. James can't remember our wedding anniversary, but he will be able to tell me what type of nets are used in during highwind sea storms. Who needs a fancy dinner anyway? (Then again, if we ordered Halibut, James could tell me how it was caught. Possible tactic....)

Has Anyone Seen My Career?

Now that the rug rats are in bed and my husband is watching an exciting episode of "Modern Marvels: The History of the Sea Turtle", my thoughts turn to my writing career. It's not under the laundry basket. I didn't see it in the highchair, behind the car seats or under the dishes. As much as I'd like to think I'll find it the next time I vacuum, the cold heart truth is, it's not there. No, like a flat stomach and tight ass, I don't have one. I must make a point every day to write for an hour. I am determined to finish a kids' book of poetry and start submitting to magazines. Freelance TV would be great, too, but there's not much more I can do other than network here and there, hoping someone in the universe finds me interesting enough to hire me again. (Note to self: cancel dinner with cousin Wednesday night since that's an animation schmooze. Blechhhh, but necessary.) Herb and I have ideas and pitches about as high as our unreturned phone calls, so it's time to start focusing on other projects while we wait. (This is your opportunity to say "Go for it! Great idea!") At least once a month my faithful blog readers will be treated to a kids poem, Shel Silverstein style, where I expect some feedback. When completed, these ditties will be illustrated by either my fabulous sister-in-law, my equally fabulous girlfriend, Teena, or an out of work Disney animator who I will meet at one of my networking functions (Again, bleech!)

Yes I know motherhood is important.

Yes I know that I would be miserable if I worked 60 hours a week and never saw my kids. (Just a few minutes ago, during our nighttime story ritual in his little bed, Dominic said "Mommy, I no get bigger. I stay tiny so you can carry me." All my sarcasm can't even make fun of that.)

Somewhere in between the extreme of cleaning house and butts all day, and working like a caffeine induced idiot on someone else's wacky sitcom, there's a happy medium.

In closing, I am adding a new tradition to my blogs - the Sophie and Dominic highlite of the day. This is hopefully to entertain you as much as my kids entertain me. But if it doesn't, I don't really care, because I'm the one without the writing career right now, this is my blog, so nanny nanny nanny. (God, I wish I had a nanny. And a maid. And a cook....) Oh, the highlites.

Nicky Highlight: Refer to 2 paragraphs up. (Side note: for as much of a stinker as he's been lately with his constant "No!" "I don't want to!" "No baby!" - typical pouty expression seen above - that kid can melt me quicker than the last scene of Sixteen Candles when Jake hands Samantha back her undies and kisses her on top of the table.

Sophie Highlight: Even though I told Nicky "Water the grass, not the baby!", he drenched Sophie in water. Instead of crying, she giggled hysterically, then proceeded to cover herself in mud and dig. Will she be a future anthropolgist? A farmer? A mud wrestler? Tune into the blog and find out.

Writing Highlite of the day: .................

I've got to work on that.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I Hate Encino

So for all two of you faithful readers out there, you are probably on pins and needles wondering how James and my first vacation in two and a half years went. The plus side: we upgraded from the Best Western to the Marriott. The downside: Thanks to a power outage in Encino, Cecelia’s house was unfit for a toddler, so Sophia came along with us. Nothing says "romantic night away" like a ordering homogenous milk at the hotel bar and setting up a Pack N Play. Cecelia feels bad about the situation and swears she’ll give me a rain check. I’m sure she’ll be thinking about how bad she feels on her upcoming seven day trip to Hawaii. I would tell her to burn in hell for getting to spend a week of uninterrupted time with her husband in paradise, except that she’ll be staying in her mother-in-law’s basement. As I was burping Sophie at 9am, rather than sleeping in as planned, I have to admit that I got some humor out of the fact that my trip won't be the only one that sucks. And of course, I told Cecelia this. I love Cecelia for the fact that she takes my ribbing with good humor. I’ll love her even more if she offers to take Sophie for two days when she gets back, rather than just one. But I’ll settle for a one night raincheck with a good story about how she and Bob were trying to enjoy their honeymoon, but the only pounding they heard was the sound of the washing machine hitting the cement wall. With their lack of sex, it will almost be like they have children. But in their case, they’ll have clean clothes.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Women Are Crazy

As my male writing partner likes to inform me on a weekly basis, “Women Are Crazy.” I’d like to disagree, but it’s like playing golf against Tiger Woods. I’ll never win. Prime example: my biggest complaint about being a mother of two is my lack of personal time. During the day I can’t write, cook or even pee without a child attached to my shin. Sure, I get stuff done, but it’s like walking through molasses in lead boots: eventually I get to the other side, but not without a lot of stick, a lot of goo, and a lot of pit stops to change diapers, make bottles, and remind Dominic that Sophie does not enjoy being fed dog food (though it’s better than some meals I have cooked.) You’d think that I would be thrilled that James and I aren’t having any more kids. (And when I say “no more kids” I mean, in the permanent sense. There were skid marks to the vasectomy room after my daughter was born.) Resorting to surgery seemed the right thing to do, given my weekly meltdowns of “I don’t have enough 'me' time!” and my penchant for getting knocked up the minute my husband holds my hand. I’m only 35. What are we going to do? Have a child a year for the next 8 years? I could do it, but I’d be about as tired as that Christian lady from the Midwest who gave birth to eight kids at once. I could handle the daily crying, but I have this irrational notion I’d end up with her crooked teeth, too, and there’s where I draw the line.

We reasoned that with the fertility buffet closed down, we can plan for our future. One year from now, Sophie will be two, Nick almost four, and both will be in preschool. I’ll finally have time to myself again. Maybe I’ll go back to work. Maybe I’ll start up my own business. Maybe an alien will take over my body and I’ll just cook, clean and garden all day. The world will be my oyster with time as its pearl. This seemed like a glorious future. I was completely satisfied with our decision. Until I saw pictures of Liz’s newborn and I approached my husband in tears: “I want another baby”. Like Herb says, “Women are Crazy”.

(* Picture of Liz and Brianna Muriel)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Birth, Pizza and Bathtime

As I type on my laptop in the kitchen, both of my kids are sitting in the sink, one on each side. It’s kind of a like a kosher kitchen, except instead of separating the milk from the meat, we separate the babies. It keeps them busy for at least a half hour. While they splash I’m able to put the dishes away and teach them a few words. “Spoon..” “Water…” “Cold...” “Old cracking linoleum…” My daughter, Sophia, is extremely active, so it’s the one place where she can sit still and splash to her heart’s content, while also perfecting the art of how to guzzle water directly from the tap. As her Italian Great Grandma, Stella, says “She’s got a split down her teeth just like me. She’ll be the best spitter in the pool!” Sophie’s two year old brother, Dominic, barely fits in his side of the sink. He is the size of a four year old as it is, and to bathe, he must cross his legs pretzel style over the drain plug like a yoga instructor. Until I have to pry him out, though, that’s where he’ll bathe. He’ll learn a new words the fateful day he's permanently lodged. “Spatula!” “Vaseline!”

I just got a phone call from my highschool girlfriend, Liz. Turns out her new baby, one week old Brianna, does not have Down Syndrome after all. Congratulations, Liz! Of course she would have dealt with whatever she was handed, and we all would have supported her, but it’s a huge relief to have a healthy baby. Women amaze me. When she called last week to tell me the baby was born with unconfirmed Downs, she was in tears. And rightly so. She was expecting to bring home a healthy pink girl to join her three year old daughter, Jessica - not have a preemie on a feeding tube. We mourned the loss of her vision and I gave encouragement the best I could from two thousand miles away. Two seconds later, though, the conversation shifted to how she spent the day at Chuck E. Cheese with Jessica. How many men, two days after pushing out a human being, could handle alarming news then go to pizza joint where an oversized mouse shouts birthday wishes to sugar induced toddlers?

Gotta run. Dominic pulled the plug out of his side and is screaming “No! I don’t want my pee pee to go down the drain!”

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Who Let the Bomb Off?

There’s some irony in the fact that I haven’t sold a script in almost a year, yet I am being kicked out of my home Friday night due to a Warner Brothers drama being taped next door. We’ve had nothing but film crew and location managers in and out of our house with various requests. “Can you please sign this waver stating we can use your backyard for craft service?” or “Is it okay that they stick Indiana plates on your SUV if we shoot early in the day?” And my favorite: “Can we pay you 750.00 to vacate your property while we shoot? We’ll even put you in a hotel.” I haven’t had a vacation since my first child was born, so while it’s not Jamaica, a one night stay in San Ferando Valley’s finest Best Western works for me (We’re pawning off the kids on friends and family.) I can’t help but wonder about all this huba baloo for a short exterior scene involving an old car in my neighbor’s driveway. Similar to my television career as of late, they are going to set a bomb on it. What once was a fine working, reliable car, will be rendered unusable in a matter of seconds. I could feel sorry for myself… ahem.. the car.. but perhaps there’s a higher meaning. Maybe the left over bumpers and intact hub caps will be found by some poor schlub in a junk yard, giving him or her just the right the tools they need to get their wheels rolling. Their glistening new chariot will take them to a fabulous job where they’ll be fulfilled beyond their wildest dreams. I will probably consider such thoughts as I wistfully check into my air conditioned hotel room at 9pm Friday night. Or maybe I’ll just have a glass of wine and a leisurely roll in the hay with my husband, who will have met me there with a separate car in the interest of maximizing child drop off times. I could make the most of the seperate arrival by pretending that he's some exotic stranger I'm meeting for random sex. However, given how little we see of each other these days, he really is that exotic stranger. Yet, since we share the same last name and I've seen him use the toilet more times than I care to comment on, the fantasy is null. Most likely I’ll run into the room, jump up and down on the bed, start screaming “No rug rats! No rug rats! Quick! Make sure they didn’t hide in a suitcase! And for godsake, James, turn off the cell phone so our friends can’t turn them back early!”. This will be undoubtedly be followed by my head hitting the pillow as I collapse with my child stained clothes still on my back. Not exactly Club Med, but I’ll take it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Me And Were Afraid to Ask But I'm Telling You Anyway

From the overwhelming amount of comments I received from my first post (that would be a whopping zero) I thought I'd take a few moments and give a bit of background on who I am. The answer, like my prescription for Zoloft, is generic. I'm a freelance TV writer/35 year old mother of two kids/reluctant S.A.H.M. (For you newbies, S.A.H.M. stands for "Stay at Home Mom" or, as I like to define it, "Shit Another Huge Mess". ) I'd love to say that I live in a swank highrise in the city where I chat wittly to the bellman about my hurried life of writing meetings in between slurps of cappucino. I'd love say that I have a wonderful nanny who helps helps me out with my kids and cleans my mansion. (She's like Mary Poppins, only a lot uglier, so I never have to worry about my husband taking a spoon of her sugar.) I'd love to say I have the time to work out at a gym, go to the movies and read all the literature in Oprah's book club. I'd like to say I'm married to an artistic god who buys me flowers on a weekly basis and surprises me with European trips. The truth is, I live in Chatsworth, a sleepy suburb of the San Fernando Valley whose only claim to fame is its ideal location for shooting westerns and being one of the porn capitals of the state. The only bellman I see all day is my 2 year old son who insists on ringing the back doorbell on a minute by minute basis, the end result startling the dog into barking and waking up his one year old sister who is closing in on her Oscar win for "The Child Who Never Sleeps." The only nanny I have is yours truly. Taking care of two kids under 3 is about as easy as watching Tom Cruise tell Matt Lauer that Post Pardum Depression is not a medical condition, but I'd like to say that I excel at wearing many hats (including the ones my son puts on my noggin, such as colanders, diapers, and today, a toilet plunger). Despite my loyality to the firm, as many times as I check the mailbox, there's no paycheck waiting for me. The closest I've been to a gym in two years has been walking to the local stripmall, along the way ensuring I have my daily carbohydrate supplements. First stop: Arco, where Albert, the Israeli manager, stuffs my sons Oshkosh pockets with Reeses. Second stop: Western Bagel, where Cass automatically cuts a chocolate chip Danish in half for me (in an effort to stave off white sugar). Should I have a wrinkle in my brow (the benefits of not being able to afford botox), she automatically heats up the entire Danish and sends me on my way. Third stop: Starbucks. Here I must decide the ever burning question, “Do I get that cappucino or pay my mortgage this month?” Juan already knows the answer, and before I can say “Venti Cappucino Percent” we’re talking in Spanish, him grabbing me an actual mug to stay and chat. I love the idea of my hands wrapped around a cup of coffee while I socialize my children and nosh with the locals, even though most of my time is spent keeping my daughter from gnawing off the stroller strap and practicing my Spanish with my son. “Quiere a TIME OUT? Uno! Dos! Tres!” My husband is less artistic god and more Computer Geek. Just the other day my good friend from college was complaining to me (from her highrise loft, ironically) about her husband. I yelled back at her “Hey, at least for Valentines Day he bought you a Tiffany's heart necklace. I got ass warmers for my car.”

While my life has certainly not turned out like my fantasy, I have to say, the reality is pretty sweet. Sure, I complain, but I adore my pragmatic husband (who I refer to as the "string on my balloon") My kids slop me with Gerber fruit kisses and make me laugh to no end. My house is a charming 1950’s starter home, and I have a great view of Washington Mutual from the garage (where I type at night once the rug rockets are snoring and dream of my writing fortune being tucked in their steel vaults). I have family and friends that love me. So I don’t have the big career. So I don’t have the city loft. So I jump for joy when I see a new episode of Dora and can tell you the plot lines of Blues Clues and the difference between Joe and Steve’s voice with my eyes shut… I wonder sometimes how I dare to bitch when so many others have so much less. As my writing partner chides, “Ooooh, poor Frazer, with her house and S.U.V. and two healthy kids… she didn’t sell a script this month… call the United Nations.” Maybe I didn’t sign up to be a stay at home mom, and some days are hell, but most times, I manage to have some fun. Maybe I don’t really need that nanny. Maybe, I’m being given the life I was born to lead and am actually content to wait for my ship to come in. As freaky as this sounds, most days, I’m pretty content. (Just don’t tell too many people. I’m still holding out for a bellman.)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Pass the Zoloft

Living in L.A., it seems like everyone and their mother is on prescribed antidepressants. Some might say it's because of their mother, some might say its because they're married to their mother. But the fact is, in a town named after shiny, smiling angels, clearly no one in Los Angeles wants to be unhappy (hence the very clever stringing of"anti" and "depressant". ) With this compound word bringing in almost as much money as the non-FDA approved "Star" and "Bucks", this blog will attempt to unravel exactly why everyone is so unsatisfied with life. It will ponder why we rush to jobs we hate only to rush home to families we complain about. It will question how our society can't communicate with each other, yet racks up gi-normous cell phone bills. It will consider how we won't talk to our neighborhood gas station attendant and cashier, but we will vigilantly check into the blogs of strangers to find answers to life's daily quandries, such as, "Why is motherhood so hard?", "What happens after death", and "Does diet Coke with splenda really taste as good as the original?" I'd like to take a crack at some of those burning questions right now, but I have to take my Zoloft.