Monday, October 31, 2005

In The (Disaster) Zone

In a act that can only be described as PMS induced insanity, I spent Saturday night disassembling a daybed with the assistance of two toddlers while James was off internet gaming in Thousand Oaks. Sophie was gratefully locked into her highchair, gnawing off a Whole Foods Fruit Bar like a rat on a rope. Dominic took it upon himself to unearth vintage treasures under Papa’s desk, one of them being a dusty Atari gameset from 1981. After convincing him that the quicker he turned the nobs the faster I would finish unscrewing the daybed, I managed to get the entire set disassembled in under an hour. Like my dream of publishing for a living, these screws held tight, regardless of logic, pushing and unrequited effort. I finally held one side of the screw with a clench type doo-hicky and turned the other side of it with a "flat head" driver (so proud of myself for knowing the name of it). As I finally fell into the groove, the little screws falling like American Idol contestants, I felt very technical and clever. If it were a television show, my yoga-like manuevers, coupled with a few choice expletives, would best be described as This Old House meets I Love Lucy... better titled This Old House Frau.

A normally boring task was rendered entertaining as Nick gave the commentary. "Oh, Mommy, I feel sad that the bed is broken. Nick feel better when it's put back together by Papa." I asked him, "Don’t you think Mommy can put it back together?" And he’d reply, "Mommy, that's silly! Here you go!" At which point he handed me the "Age of Mythology Collectors" disk, found next to the collectors edition of "Star Trek: Judgment Rites."

When I finally had all the screws safely stored in my desk (for Sophie to later find and swallow, stay tuned), Nick took to jumping up and down on the mattress in the hallway. When he tired of that, he actually lassoed an end of it and helped me move it behind the living room couch, accompanying his heaving and pushing with a feigned, exhausted "Oy!"... "Ooooooooooy!". As soon as another item was moved, he added to his repertoire, "Gracias Mommy for helping me move this. Graaaaaacias!"

As is always the case with any home improvement project, one little fix-it caused my entire house to look like the "Hey, Let's Make a Bunch of Crap" bomb exploded. To move the bed, I had to move James' old server near the door. Which got James thinking the next day, "Hey, I really need a new computer". Which got him thinking, "I'll just use the office closet to store the servers". Which led to me taking every box of To Be Sold Ebay items, birthday and holiday gifts, wrapping paper, craft items out of the closet. This included displacing a very content cochroach named Cochran who had been living fat an happy on my upper closet shelf since last November. I finally relocated him to a friendly pile of wood in the backyard.

All closet crapoloa, sans Cochran, is now beautifully displayed in various piles where the bed used to be. My new little mountains de ca ca led me to pondering,"I might as well get rid of the remnants of my ill-fated baby product in the garage and stick them in the Ebay bonfire pile to make room for more failed ventures. Then James cleaned out his desk, and put his"To Be Ebayed Stuff" on my desk.

What we have now, my friends, is an office that looks like a U-Haul storage unit.

And a living room that's housing a daybed.

Which is going to go upstairs where Sophie's crib is for use when she's older.

But before we put the daybed upstairs, we need to break down her crib and store it in the garage. But where in the garage?

Ah, I know... on my work bench, where my ill-fated business used to be!

Of course, during all this chaos, my good friend Topanga T stopped by my house with her brother, Turbo Jo, for an unannounced tour. And based on my post earlier, I swallowed my pride about having things in disarray and showed them around anyway, welcoming them the best I could admist the chaos.

As I outwardly pointed out the dining room, explaining that the Pack N Play is only there because Sophie has no crib, or daybed, I inwardly promised myself that with my new writing gig I would put aside 100/month toward Ikea shelves with nice doors that hid ebay stuff. And smoothe surfaces to display books and pretty coffee cups. There would be lovely nooks for scripts I've written... cute baskets for crisp white paper... inviting cubbies for fabulous family photos... cork boards for WGA invitations and social events. White boards to remind me about my meeting with Oprah. And Elmo. I made a small agreement with myself that my new job wasn't the L.A. Times, but it was something that would get me somewhere.

It was mine.

Whoops, no it's not.

As it turns out, I showed up for work today only to be given the third excuse this week. “Everyone has the flu… maybe you can come back another day?”

Right then and there, I bit my tongue from telling them to “Fxxx off you flaky P.O.S. third rate garage publication” and calmly told them that, for what they’re paying me (or not paying me, as I had of yet not worked a moment), it clearly wasn't worth the time it takes to organize a babysitter and pay her half my salary. I stoicly announced that I would not be their assistant anymore. It was at this moment that the managers fat, pony tailed salesman husband defended that they had just had a string of bad luck - they weren't being flaky! As I looked around at their many piles of mail unopened (no doubt bills and unpaid writers' checks) I reminded them that the day of my interview, they forgot about it and then showed me around in their socks. The first day of work last week they had to cancel, after I arrived, due to a sick computer. And now today they are under the weather. I joked that maybe they caught their cold from the computer, but they didn’t smile.

And neither did I. Why?

Because now I’m home with nothing to show for my time. I’m typing in a U-Haul unit. My phones are busted. My article for Marrit isn’t done. My pilot isn’t done. I have no place to put things to get my life looking more organized and no money at this moment to buy something to do it.

Listen up, people. I am going to ebay every goddamn baby shoe, lamp shade, baby box and Age of Geek Mythology box in my house. If Nick and Sophie get in my way, I will Ebay them, too. With this money, I am buying some new shelves for my office. I am going to repaint. I am starting over.

Like my former bosses fat husband, I swear I am not a flake.

I swear that this writing is going to happen.

But right now, the bad luck fairy is having a fun ride on the “Hey, Let’s Make a Lot of Crap” bomb.

If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

And there’s no room for tears in this office. Later, when I have my new organizational units, I’ll get a lovely Pottery Barn Memory Frame for my sorrows. For now, I’ve got to go. I have pictures to take of my Ebay windfall.

If only I could find my camera.

Maybe it's with my sanity.

If you find it, please email.

Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm An Antique

I spent part of today walking up and down the Sherman Way Antique District with the kids, as well as three cousins visiting from the East coast. I hadn't seen my two female cousins since I was in my teens, so it was an interesting dichomoty - sorting through old nicknacks as we pieced together bits of our own varied histories. While most of our visit was spent in small talk, I felt a certain pride that our lives may be varied, but our blood shares similar makeups. We both knew a Nana (my mom's mom, their dad's mom) who cooked for us in her tiny Boston suburb home and hid candy in the top drawer of her "don't touch" dresser near the living room window. They shared stories of driving their van across the country with our 80 year old Aunt J (their dad's, and my mom's, sister) My favorite story was the one about Aunt J. at 3am, peeing on the side of a deserted highway. Women after my own heart, they took a photo her in case a wild boar came along along and swept her away. They also took a picture of the ground she christened for posterity sake. I can see the scrapbook title now: "The Day My Aunt Whizzed Like a Race Horse".

Tonite we had a little farewell dessert at my mom's house for my cousins and Aunt J. My dad's sister came to meet my cousins, as well as one of my sisters and her boyfriend. As James raced around after the kids and I took photos, I was struck with a bit of sadness that they were leaving so soon. I see my mom's eyes in my aunts eyes. I see a bond that comes from a lifetime of sharing stories and just hanging out. And I know that in a few hours, my aunt is making the long journey back home. Who knows when these two will just hang out and drink coffee again.

The subject led to family being there for each other... And how much society has changed these days: in particular the idea of making appointments to see people. My dad's sister and I have a different view on that topic, and both of us defended our points strongly. While I was mad at first that her view was of the "don't come without calling", I have to say that she's more in line with how society feels than I am. Even my best friend, Cecelia, has told me to not come without notice. I suppose that I forget most people don't publish their innermost thoughts on the internet, and that's okay.

But it's not me to be so private. And isolated. And I want all my friends reading to hear this: If you're having a bad day, come over. I might have laundry, or the dog might be sick, but my coffee is your coffee. My demons are your demons. I am a real person living a real life, and sometimes kids throw up. And sometimes James and I fight. And I might say "Now's not the best time, what's up?" And if you say "I just wanted to hang out" I'll be honest and say that another day is better. But if you're sad over something catastrophic, like Starbuck's ran out of coffee, then by all means, sit down and use my tissues. Just move the bills out of the way. And the vacuum. And the red sock I was looking for since last Wednesday.

To give my aunt and Cecelia their due (because I always see both sides of the situation, making me both a very understanding person and also a major wimp) I probably wouldn't be talking to my friends and family if we didn't have these unwrittten rules of behavior. Good fences make good neighbors. But sometimes I'm sad when I see my aunt and mom getting older and I think about where I'll be in ten years and wish everyone's fences didn't need a code to get in.

Maybe I can sell myself on Sherman Way. I'm kind of wacky, in fairly decent condition, and my thinking about social visits is definitely antique.

PS: Part of my cantakerous mood is due to major PMS, so if you are thinking of stopping by, while you're welcome, it's not advised. In fact, I'd not only put up a fence around me, I'd get some cement blocks. And barbed wire. It's just not pretty.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Girlfriends Part Deux

In a quick addendum to my post below, a big plus to having girlfriends of many years is seeing them have babies. Who will be my babies' friends. Girlfriends in this case of Baby B and Toddler J above, Texas L's kids. I have not yet met Baby B, so I can't really comment on personality. But Toddler J? Opinionated, spirited, more pep than the Energizer Bunny on crack and never stops talking. Takes after her godmama, clearly (that would be me!) Thank you Texas Liz for breeding such a firecracker - we need more of them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


It's such an obvious statement, but I don't know what I'd do without my girlfriends. I say that about my addiction to Diet Coke, too, but girlfriends never make me want to crap in the toilet. Of course, some of them have made me laugh so hard I have peed my pants, but that's soiling yourself in the positive way.

Besides the obvious statements about how girlfriends keep you up when you're feeling down and "that's what friends are for" bla bla bla, I find that my truest gal pals are those that have never forced me to be anyone who I wasn't. They have allowed me to grow and change, and not held stupid decisions against me. Prime example: Cecelia drove with me from Texas to California. I did not check my tires and they blew up on me outside Arizona. While waiting for a tow truck on a deserted highway, I took in a stray dog, much to the dismay of my current dog in the back seat. That night, while Cecelia, Boo and I stayed at Holiday Inn outside a truck stop, I allowed the stray to sleep in my car. Which he proceeded to deficate all over. I then had to delay the final leg of our journey while my water cooler overheated and I took Boo to the vet for a tranquilizer, given his need to vomit and hump the crap stained Saturn seats. Granted, we didn't talk for a few weeks after we arrived home, but we have taken several vacations since. Sans dogs. And we always check our tires. That's friendship!

I find friends are my reality check against insecurities that sometimes crop up. Example 2: Recently I met a mom who cold turkey stopped talking to me and moved to Orange County. That's fine, and I wasn't devasted, but when you have someone to your home and they suddenly don't return your phone calls, you wonder if perhaps you really did need that extra swipe of Ban. My friends (many of whom I've known for over 20 years, like Texas Liz and Mountain Meg above) console my hurt ego, assuring me that they wouldn't like me if I stunk. And even if I did emit odious fumes, they'd tell me. They'd promise me that my instincts are usually on about people, and if someone doesn't like me, it's that person's fault, and move on - not without a new bottle of antiperspirant for good measure.

The truth is that while I may have no solid financial success in my life (yet) I have the ability to get everyone in the universe talking to me. This ranges from high society Republican judges to Democratic lesbian Chinese street urchins. Everyone has a story, and I'm not afraid to segway the conversation from "Excuse me sir, what's the time?" to "Wow, nice watch." If they respond, "Thanks, I got it in Poland," I can then offer, "Oh, my dad's family was Polish" and whalllllaaa, what we have, my friends, is a conversation. Before long, I learn that they are actually Dutch who have relatives living in Westchester and they're here for final testing to be a kidney donor for their step uncle's fourth wife. And that they love tofu. But not Garden Burgers. It's pure magic. They're invited over for Christmas dinner, end of story.

James recently told me that my ability to chat up every hostess, busboy and patron dining next to us on date night used to bug the crap out of him. It's also what made him fall in love with me. That's one of those half compliments, like my aunt saying my daughter looks exactly like me, only she's much prettier. But I'll take it anyway.

In closing, I would like to thank all my girlfriends, new and old, who are in my life. If I've known you more than 20 years, I can't thank you enough for sticking by my many name, job and address changes. If I've known you less than 20 years and you want to move to Orange county and not return my phone calls, there's always some one-eyed bum on Topanga looking for somene to send a Xmas card to. (But hopefully you'll stick around for some kicks and giggles.)

Pictured: Mtn Meg on left, Mama P me and Texas Liz on right at my 2000 wedding. I love them for convincing me that my choice of a pastel bridesmaid dress really didn't look like the Easter bunny vomited pink Peeps all over me. They lie! They lie! And I adore them for it.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Cup of Earl... I Mean, Jen... Gray

Randomly searching blogs and found this... the best blog I have seen yet. The photos are incredible, and the poetry, and the writing. I won't be posting for a month and a half since I have so much catching up to do on hers.

Ode to Pipsqueak

Ode to Pipsqueak

Even when my job is caving in
And I'm saddened by my double chin
When it's cold and dreary in the Valley
And my fat butt's screaming "Go join Bally's!"
When I'm feeling less than on my game
And suddenly it starts to rain
It's nice to know with all the drama
Pipsqueak clearly loves her mama

Baby girl, I adore you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My First Day - a Vacation Day!

Since my boss told me to come at 12, not 10, I took advantage of the time and rewrote my opening pilot scenes at the Corner Bakery. It's amazing what can get done in one hour without the kids. Of course, a mom's group came and sat next to me, forcing me to move over a table, but no big deal. They apologized for the noise and I was like "Noise? What noise. Not my kids, so go ahead and wipe their ass on the table... I'm tuning you out."

I stopped at a pay phone at 11:45 to check my messages (no cell phone these days in an attempt to save money. I also figure when I'm in the car, I can actually talk to my kids rather than about them, strange as that concept is.) Anyway, no message from the boss. So I headed over. She opens the door and lo and behold... the computer is not fixed, so no work for me.

That's fine. I went thrift shopping and bougth Stella a quilt for her birthday. Fifty dollars in the hole and no money from working, I arrived home at 2.

Am I dissapointed? Yes. Terribly so? No. Surprised? No. Like I said a few posts earlier, you don't get handed a job that pays you under the table with flexible hours, working out of someone's garage, without a price. I mean, it's a legit paper with 70,000 copies printed bi-monthly, but it's a mom and pop shop. Part of me wants to say forget it and not go back. Part of me feels like "what the hell... I'll do it a few times and make some Christmas money. Plus if this woman can make a living being this disorganized, can you imagine how I could run a paper from my house with what I learn from her?" But it's discouraging.

Which leads me to drinking too much coffee.

Which gets me hyper.

Which gets my mind a whirling, leading me to this thought:

Every area of my life, from my relationships to finances, have improved when I've set boundaries. I refuse to live anything less than a full, non bullsxxx life. In my heart, I know this gig is pure crap. But there's this side of me that so desperately wants something of her own outside the family. And I can't give of myself 40 hours a week to an agency. Or art house. Or Starbucks (hee hee). So I will hang on a bit longer.

And this thought leads me to the next thought:

When I look at the big picture, I can't help but notice that I'm not shopping at Nordstroms. I'm thrifting. I'm not hiring babysitters regularly. I'm trading time. I'm not getting haircuts for myself. I'm spending money on the kids. How much of this is me being practical, and how much of it is me not setting the bar high enough?

Which leads me to my final thought of the blog:

I will stick to my plan of staying debt free, meanwhile filling up my soul with the things I love. I am determined not to finance my persona. As much as I hate to quote Dr. Phil, I like his attitude about "getting real" - stop whining about being a victim (because I'm really the luckiest person alive) and make the best of everything I have (which is a ton) At some point, the big job will come. The great pay, real deal where you actually bust your ass but bosses show up and you have a working computer and your job's address is in a business park, not a cul de sac. Then I'll get the monthly hair highlite, my Pottery Barn office. My daily lunches out at establishments that don't boast plastic toddler Habit Trails (these structures made by their recycled nuggets). By 40, I will be in the best mental/physical shape of my life and have that "it girl" house, job and social life.

Then I'm making James get a reversal so I can have another baby.

Again I will say it: Women are Crazy.

Starting my Job at 10... no 12

After dressing 2 kids, dressing myself, preparing breakfast, lunch, sippy cups, bottles and beds (to make Great Grandma Stella's babysitting gig a smoothe adventure) I got a call from my boss. "Computers are down and yours isn't fixed yet. Can you start at 12 instead?" Sure, what the hell. The old Andrea would have been upset. Like my ex boyfriend, Big B, I did all this prep work only to have a switch pulled on me. Of course, this was only an hour of prep and the time was swapped, not 4 years of prep to have his sexual preference swapped... but still! The old me would have been irked. The newer Mama P me? "Ah, hell... I have a sitter. This is just two hours of extra time for me to write that damn pilot at Starbucks. Besides, I'm not working this newspaper gig to pay my bills. Let's just see where it takes me."

People, I can't guarantee Valley Scene is going to land me a column for Daily News, or some tv show. But I do promise lots of fun stories. And James, if you're reading this, YES IT IS WORTH THE EFFORT FOR NOW... I'M GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE.

Good bye. I'm off to spend 5.00 of money I haven't made yet on a Starbucks cappucino. Hmm... maybe I should work there? But not the one on Nordhoff. The one in Studio City on the corner of Coldwater and Ventura. Then I can charm my way into being "friends" with some writer from Radford Studios and then get a job. Of course, before this fantasy happens, I will spend more on gas than my paycheck. Which will piss James off. Which would cause lots of fun blogs.

See how fxxxed up my thinking is?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Thomas the Pain

After an entire month of pushing the commercialization of Halloween on my young son, Nick wanted nothing to do with his Thomas the Train costume today. It made little difference that Toddler B was gesticulating and kick boxing his Buzz Light Year costume like a kung foo cartoon on sugar. Sophie's baby kitty costume, resplete with painted whiskers and nose (thanks to Mommy's Mac black eye liner) made as much of an impact as Anita Shrive's "Light on Snow" made on me. He was not having any Trick or Treat, gawk at pumpkins, isn't Fall wonderful kind of action. I finally said "When all your friends are in costume, what are you going to be on October 31st?" He replied, "I go as Dominic."

Fair enough.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Goodbye James, Part 4

Our fourth goodbye in one month. Godspeed, God bless, and get your butt home soon. I miss your help putting the kids to bed at night... I mean, I miss your smile.

Other updates:

* Mrs. V had her baby on Friday - Vincent Edward - 7 pounds, 7 oz. Congratulations Mrs. V! I can't wait to find out the details. All I know is she went into the hospital in the morning and he was born at 1:30 Pm, so that was one fast delivery.

* My first day of work is Monday. The kids' great grandma, Stella, is coming over to watch the kids for a few hours while I do my thing. More later on this 84 year old dynamo. All I can say is she lives in a trailer park, drinks martinis that can start a car each day at four, and is going to her park Halloween party as a pregnant ballerina. She's a pistol, and sometimes a pain in the ass, but so am I, hence our friendship.

* Got my SUV back from the shop. I am starting to regain strength in my lower spine after hunching in the oompa loompa mobile.

* Almost done with my article on Marrit. Any of you out there in cyberspace who have article ideas or businesses you're trying to get off the ground (and you live in the Valley) please email me with suggestions. I'll plug you as much as I can.

* Looking forward to seeing Cecelia and Slim tonite. Slim is working 7 days a week finishing up a movie (he's a special effects/graphic guy). Cecelia and I laugh that I wanted Hollywood and married Computer Guy, and she wanted low key and married Hollywood. Life.

* My 83 year old aunt from Conneticut is arriving via car on Monday with her two nieces. She's coming equipped with vegetarian recipes and oxygen. Should be awesome.

* Nick just ran in very upset. James is about to leave and Nick's screaming "I want to go on the airplane toooooooooooooooo".

* Texas Liz is doing well with Baby B and toddler J. No problems with B at all despite a down syndrome scare.

* My sister in law is going to be husbandless for 4 - 6 weeks while he's on business. Without two kids, her alone time can actually be alone time, and I applaud her. You go, K!

* Sophie says about 15 words now: "Up!" "Da (down)" "Boo!" (our dog) "Pa Pa" "Ma Ma" "Dace!" (for dance) " Ba ba" (bottle) "Ma!" (more) "Gain" (Again) "Bye" "Hi". If I ask where her nose, ears, toes or belly is, she points. She gives head bonks on command and kisses. I adore her.

* Nick is now taking apart my 8.00 sewing basket that's supposed to be for my ebay stuff. So much for "me space".

* James and I spent 100 last night on a babysitter, food out, martinis and icecream. We're bloated more than Britney Spears.

* I finished Anita Shrieve's "Light on Snow" and was not impressed. I'm now reading "Good in Bed" about a heavy girl in her thirties living in the east coast missing her boyfriend. It's writing is good, but kind of like every other novel about a girl on the east coast looking for love. Very oh so clever and witty. A bit overwritten. Then again, so are my blogs, so maybe I have hope. I finished last month "Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress" - now that was FUNNY. (I'm reading this and thinking 'how do I have time to read all this but have no time?' Again, women are crazy. )

* Speaking of, must finish pilot for Susan. Almost done Susan.

This post is not very insightful today. I leave you with a quote from the Oprah Magazine, who quotes Eleanor Rooosevelt, "We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together, we have to talk." Eleanor, talking is not an issue for me.

Side note: My father had a friend named Leonard who was our plumber (my dad was always befriending the plumber, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker) Leonard heard Eleanor Roosevelt was coming to the Valley and wrote her, inviting her for coffee. She responded in the positive. So, one fine day in 1970 something, the plumber and the First Lady had a hot beverage in his newly retiled kitchen in Canoga Park. I love that.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Working Girl

I am now the assistant editor our local paper, Valley Scene. I can come in jeans, work 12 hours a week (whatever hours I want) and even brought Sophia to the interview. They are looking for my creative vision for story ideas. I get my own desk. They are very kick back. This is either a very good thing I deserve, or like many good things, in about two weeks I am about to get my butt kicked into next Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Some Times You Feel Like a Nut...

Those of you over 30 will know the response to that fun little ditty. Those of you under 30 are most likely not reading this blog, which leads me to my entry of the eve. I happened to find myself with two tired toddlers at a Thousand Oaks Mazda dealership this morning. Giving a good name to female drivers everywhere, I promptly told the technician that I needed the doo- hickey fixed on my engine light-ma-bob. After a quick smirk, I was shuttled over to Enterprise where I would be given the smallest car in the history of time. I'm telling you, Dudley Moore would have to slouch. (Side note: For those of you under 30, you probably wouldn't know who Dudley Moore is either. And, I know a woman who had sex with him back in the 70's. Hi JJ if you're reading this.)

When I first walked in the rent-a-car bungalow, a twenty something girl with acrylic nails and fake tan perused my paperwork, then shrieked, "Oh my God, your name is Andrea? My roommate's name is Andrea!" Wow, the odds. Then Dominic overflooded the Sparklett's water cooler and peed on the floor. On my way to the bathroom, I heard her gush to her fellow Friend's cast members, "Her kids are like, sooooo cute... doesn't she look just like Andrea... I mean, if Andrea were a lot older?"

All humor I was using to diffuse the urnine on the linoleum left my body quicker than a straight man at an Erasure concert. How old do I look? I'm 35, not 75 (sorry, Mom). And not just that, but I thought I looked cute today. I had on my flared sweats, purple tank, chunky black beads (that I got this weekend in Santa Monica, thank you very much for lunch, Megz) and a denim head scarf. Sort of a J.Lo meets Aunt Jemima. It was working. Or so I thought.

When are we officially old? Am I going to be one of those women who my girlfriends and I used to pity when we were single, thinner and full of the ego only the freshness of youth supplies? It seems like yesterday Cecelia and I were having leisurely lunches in the NBC cafeteria. "Oh, look, there's Jay Leno. And oh, shit, there's that VP in the BeBe jeans. Should someone tell her that the drop down waist only works if its accompanied by stripes on your tank top, not stripes from stretch marks - big red arrows screaming to the world, 'Goodbye J Crew... Hello JC Penny!' " (We really had no room to criticize. Our polyester zoot suits were not exactly the epitomy of French couture. And the rainbow peacock on our lapels did nothing to dispell the image that we were girlfriends, not girlfriends. Not that there's anything wrong with that, bla bla bla... )

I know that youth is how you view life, not your age. But sometimes, my ego needs a tune up. Too bad women don't come equipped with warning signs, like in my SUV. Instead of "Check Engine Light" it could say "Wooo, two words sistah: Camel Toe". Like my car at its yearly physical, we could check into a "Keeping it Real" clinic where women of all ages can support us in our endeavors to feel hip, but slap the crap out of us when our delusion gets in the way of good taste.

On a positive note, guess who has a meeting for an assistant editor at the paper she already writes for? 12 hours/week, lots o' perks... Is it fate that just last week I made a plan to start making money and this fell into my lap? I think not.

Gotta run. My "Spend Time With James" light just buzzed.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Happiest Place on Earth

The joy of having two kids a year and a half apart is that just when you are sad about your older one leaving a precious milestone behind, his younger rugrat is there to take its place, often adding to the preciousness (is that a word?) Ex: Not only does Sophie dance on command like Nick used to, but she also shrieks "dace! dace!" and does this half "Staying Alive" half "Alleluia, Amen" move to boot.

The negative about having two kids so close in age is that when one one has a bad day, this usually transfers onto the other in the form of hitting, pushing or screaming no about as many times I've tried to tell Diet Coke to buzz off. Today is one of those days. Nothing is settling Nick down, nothing is making Sophie sleep. It reminds me of something my sister-in-law said to me this weekend regarding her still child-less status. Something like "everyone I know has kids, and while they wouldn't change it for the world, they're still super frustrated. I'm not ready to join that crowd quite yet." And why should she? She's just 32. When she's ready, she's ready, and she'll be phenomenal. I'll never forget last Christmas. She came over December 22 to give me a well needed rest. In the two hours I was gone, she cooked a lasagna from scratch, Sophie on her hip and Nick begging for Cheerios (at that time they were 'Cheeri-o-nonon-no-nonnny os' , morphing him from a young toddler into a bad impersonation of a Chinese hot dog vendor.

Getting back to her comment about people loving their kids, but always trying to get rid of them... I can't deny that. At least one entry a week is dedicated to my efforts to find balance between being being homebound with munchkins and needing alone time for other essentials like thrifting, Starbuck stalking, and exercizing (exercizing translating into me sitting on the couch watching Oprah reruns about diet and fitness while I down 40 Twin Dragon Almond Cookies and commit to sign a Bob Green Diet contract that very evening, before I fall asleep, head first, drooling in a butter and lard coma).

Despite this reality, I can't say how much I do really adore my kids. For every 1 moment of wanting to go Andrea Yates on someone's Huggies, there's 20 moments of pure joy and equally as many of medium happiness (This being where I wonder if there's not a way to make money for myself while mothering, but I'm mostly settled into my role as Felicity Huffman's character on Desperate Housewives.)

For those 1 in 50 moments, rather than wish I never had kids, and rather than hitting, screaming or calling James in a tear ridden panic with desperation filled pleas of "Come home or I'm leaving you forever with these hellions! But not before I take a picture of you freaking out over the 30th dish you've done so I have some memories to make me smile as I go to sleep in my Arkansas double wide" I do something very motherly: I lock my kids in the garage. (Now this last statement qualifies me as either worthy of jail time, or winning an award for "The Officially Longest Run-On Statement Blogger Has Yet to Publish")

Now before all you non-parents out there turn me into Social Services, let me explain that my garage is attached to my house. I shut the garage door where any perverts, gardeners or mere looky loos can steal my kids (because 2 howling toddlers is so appealing). I then grab my lap top and sit on the step outside the garage and type (like now... under an umbrella... in the rain... it's all I ever dreamed a writing career would be). The beauty of this technique? The kids automatically calm down because they think they're going on a trip. I don't lie to them and tell them "we're going to the beach!" but I usually tell them a story about Disneyland a few minutes earlier. If they want to project that they're going to the Magic Kingdom, so be it.

This gives me about 15 mintues of blessed quiet time. Then for another 5 minutes they start to pip and squeak, but they can't go anywhere, becaues they're in their car seats. And then when they really get upset, I turn off the laptop and we drive somewhere, calming them down once again. Our destination? Not as magical as Disneyland, but the kids simmer down once again, rendering our funfilled journey to the cleaners and post office a peaceful, happy affair. Chillin kids means relaxed mommy which, when we get home, equates our home to "The Happiest Place on Earth" once again.

I'm telling you, two kids, two car garage, you, too, can find solace.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Zoloft on the Bus Goes "Chill Out Mama... "

As any of my friends and posse know, I love my son even more than Diet Coke. That's ALOT. But if there was ever a day to bitch slap a todddler, today was it.

I'd talk more, but it's either slack off and read some more "Light on Snow" or drive head first into the McDonald's on Nordhoff and not stop the SUV until the soda machine is permanently lodged in my esophagus

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Happy Birthday Papa

Happy birthday James -

Something for you to ponder as you enter a new year: You are quickly moving up the corporate ladder, you have the mind of a super computer and are better looking than JFK Jr. These attributes might make you feel smarter than God. You are also, however, thick headed, rigid at times and not exactly Gumby in the flexibility department. At 34, you are also older than God.

My point? You are an angel when it comes to our kids and put up with a devil of a wife.

Maybe you are God after all?

No way. Jesus might have made long journeys into Galilee, but he was no trekky.

I love you, you grumpy old man you!

(Pictures: Black and white in front of our house when Sophie was 5 months, Nick a bit over two. Sophie is happy despite having a bad mama bowl haircut I tried to hide with pigtails. The piicture of the 3 of us was taken immeidately after Nick was born. James was crying over the miracle of life, and maybe a server he just found out was blown. I was crying from exhaustion and thinking that Dominic resembled Cartman from Southpark. Other photo is of Papa with Sophie screaming right after she was born. She hasn't stopped since. How did a quiet guy like James end up with two crazy women? Lucky guy...)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pilots Are Sexy

TV Pilots that is. Especially when you have a break in your story and it starts to flow.

I actually got work done today because, weirdly enough, I'm putting time in my calendar to write. I realized if there's room in October for doctor appointments, preschool, trips to the cleaners, Sunday School teaching, birthday parties and car tune ups, there's room for my needs, too.

What a revelation.

Of course, I still got in some prime Mom Time as evidenced in the pictures above - a surprise for James' 34th birthday tomorrow. (And no, I'm not worried about him seeing it before the party because he doesn't check my blog on a consistent basis. Why? Because he has the whole "taking care of what James needs to do first" thing down. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I simply mean that, as a man, it's obvious that free time is spent attending to his needs first, and it's time I get on that train.)

As soon as I put on Thomas the Train for Nick.

And clean Sophie's toy train off so it doesn't mess the floors.

Which have serious tracks of dirt on them which I need to clean.

All before I finish my scheduled writing.

Other random notes:

I hope you feel better, Ceceila.

Bride To Be, congrats on your wedding last week. I wish you a wonderful honeymoon and years of wedded bliss. And when you get out of la la bride land, get your butt over here and take my pictures!

K - way to go on writing that book. I can't wait to edit it with you.

I am so sick of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt I could scream if I weren't already tired from screaming at my kids from runnining into everyone elses' photo sessions at the mall today.

I can't wait to see how Tom Cruise handles Katie Holmes' post pardum depression. I can see her now "I'm fat for the first time in my life! The father of my baby is a couch jumping cult member. I want to drown myself in Dawson's Creek but my huband says it's just hormones and to meditate. Okay... I'm meditating... about how screwed up I am. Where can I get one of those 'Free Katie' tee shirts? I'd scream, but we had a silent birth. Damn scientologists."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Ex-Husband's Wife

Some of you might know that I was married for about two seconds in college. Leading up to my twenty thousand dollar Calabasas wedding was an unplanned pregnancy, an unplanned miscarriage, and lots of time spent thinking "I'm only 21. What am I going to do with 12 Waterford crystal champagne glasses? I just became legal two days ago and as of last week, I couldn't even drink due to being knocked up." It was truly romantic.

I suppose I was in a bit of denial regarding my readiness to marry when I was so unexpectedly faint I needed a fold-up chair to say my vows – making this the first Catholic wedding of its kind where everyone except the couple stood, sat and kneeled. I also have the grand distinction of being the only bride in Woodland Hills to stroll into Jerry’s Famous Deli, then called Solley’s, in full bridal gear and hurl in the toilet. My whirlwind marriage lasted nine months – with most of that time spent at home with my parents, in denial that I had a person across the state that wanted me at his side. It really was a crappy situation, not just for me, but for him: he was, and is, a truly nice guy who is currently a film teacher in Austin Texas. Luckily I figured out I was hopelessly immature and cut free early, but not without a lot of misery.

Despite being the most depressed I’d ever been in my life, and not quite knowing how a nice girl like myself could end up hurting not just me but another person in the process, this “bad” situation would be a bad memory if I didn’t learn from it. And I did. I vowed to never drag somebody's heart to the altar unless I was ready, never to get pregant before I'm 30, and definitely be as gracious to my kids’ pitfalls as my folks were to me when I told them the marriage wasn't working. I still remember my father's opinion as we sat in the very same deli I vomited in nine months earlier. We were eating corn beef on pumpernickel, a sandwich he never failed to mention was overpriced, when I broke the news about the Big D. "Well", he said, slurping up some 2 cents plain, "I really liked that Swede." (My husband was from Newport Beach, but he had a Swedish last name. My dad had a way of categorizing everyone. If you were married fifty years, he'd still refer to you as the bride. If you were a third generation American with roots in Hong Kong, you were forever the China man.) He continued with "Your little shin dig cost me twenty grand. But what the hell, it was a great party, and it forced me to make a business deal that I wouldn't have made without it.... And you're buying lunch."

My father is now deceased, and I owe him such a better tribute than this tiny blog entry, but there is a point to this story. My dad taught me to see the positive of a situation and not dwell on the negative. And he should know. He was manic depressive, and did the best he could to deal with this disabling condition through medication, humor and, of course, food.

Using my father's take on the world, I am led back to my ex-husband once again. Or his wife, actually. They had been married already about seven years, and about three years ago he emailed me to tell me she had a blog. I had never heard of a blog at that time, and thought it odd that someone would put their innermost secrets on display like a naked mannequin at a Macy's window. Shocking to me was that her display was not only naked, it was raw. And littering the floor of her display case were prescriptions for severe post pardum depression, as well as every potion under the sun for her rash prone toddler. Most noteworthy: This mannequin had a sound card and could shriek enough blue language to scare a pirate off its booty.

Along with her juicy material was an intensity I hadn’t seen in a female writer in quite some time. As one of her reviewers described it, just when I was ready to delete her blog for its darkness, she’d suck me back in with its desire for a better tomorrow where women would share motherly secrets. And frustrations. And suicidal thoughts. But always, like a rainbow after a storm, hope.

Although I found her writing to be impeccable, her witty referrals to literature and movies sometimes annoyed me. The fact that I was voyeristically peeping in to my ex-husband's life left me with a tinge of shame, too. But, like my addiction to Diet Coke, and the fact that I sometimes keep my McDonald's cup and refill it three days later, I just couldn't help myself and read daily.

A few months back I was complaining about it to my husband. I mentioned I liked her blog, but wondered if it wasn’t just a bit too self-involved. Too pretentious. Too ever so clever.

Jame’s response: “Maybe its not that at all. Maybe you’re frustration lies in the fact that you fear she’s a better writer than you.”

Well, there’s that.

And he was right.

And so, I started my own blog. And I still read hers. And like my dad’s way of turning a situation on its head, I decided to give praise where it was due and keep working on my own voice, for what that is worth.

As it turns out, a publisher just released a book about her journey through post pardum and back. Brooke Shields might have beat her to the punch on this topic, but Brooke doesn’t have the wit, the bite and the real life what-it’s-like-to-not-be-a-movie star going through p.p.d. experience. Here’s a review of it, as well as an excerpt. It belongs on your shelf.

As for me, I’m not completely without my own agenda. I’ve already contacted Marrit and am going to do a write up in our local paper for her (a paper that I’m a staff writer on. ( This paper is fairly homogenous, boring family style stuff, but it will be a jump start for me to then submit more flavorful versions to other magazines to get my freelance career started. September isn’t too far away.

The moral of this boy meets girl, boy knocks up girl, girl loses baby, girl gets married, girl gets divorced, both boy and girl remarry and have kids and are relatively stable story is that it’s never to late to make something good out of something that was at one time, well, not so good. At the end of this wacky journey I am hoping we can all say “And we lived happily ever after.”

Or I’ll just lose my entire readership for being a voyeuristic freak.

Whatever works.

Marrit's blog, definitely worth checking out:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Although I did refrain from eating a Big Mac, a lot of other fine folk had some huge helpings of McCranky Nuggets, dipped in Pissy sauce. Can parents please not pick fights with other parents at the Ronald McDonald play area? Is it such a big deal that one person's kid is half a centimeter taller than the Grimace sign? Would it be so difficult for the manager to just find a key, or a screwdriver, to open the enclosed plastic bubble bin and rescue my newphew's lost Thomas train? And why does the mother of the teen who rescued Sophie from the big scary overhead netting (the kind that looks like those grates on farm roads that catch cows by locking their hoofs in their openings) have to scream at her daughter "Nooooooooo! Don't do that!", causing her to almost drop my Pipsqueak. And then, when I tell the mother I said it was okay, why does Mom have to then say "No, it's not okay. It's a liability!"

Maybe the mom was right. Perhaps her Abercrombie and Fitch prep school daughter was really a fifty year old child molester and she's saving me years of emotional damage. Perhaps the man who yelled at the young mom to get her tall boy out of the slide area was dying of testicular cancer. Maybe the manager just couldn't deal with fishing out a train that probaby cost more than she makes in an hour.

All I know is that everyone is cranky today. And, sadly, I still have to make dinner. And, less sadly, but a time concern anyway, I need to write.

And bathe my kids.

And clean my floor before the only things not cranky are the cockroaches.

Here's to a better tomorrow with less McDrama and more Happy Meals.

Cranky Pants Is the Theme of the Day

Cranky: Everywhere I have been so far has involved cranky people. Every place I look, there is contstruction going on. When Nick sees the big cranes, he yells "Cranky!" (the name of the big crane in the "Thomas" series who happens to not only have a large hook, but be, what do you know about this... cranky!

Pants: I am irritated that my one good pair of sweat pants now has paint stains. Nick is now in underwear full time, causing me to change his pants at least twice a day. And Sophie got about a million compliments today for her leopard skin stretchies, which Nick refers to as her "Baby Jaguar pants".

Despite running into several Valley snobs who looked at my kids like they were about to vomit in their latte, I managed to have a decent day. My morning started out with Pipsqueak remarkably sitting in her highchair for 45 minutes, babbling to Sesame Street with Nick (reminder to self: Those dumb Replay TV people need to fix our signal so that my son can actually watch Nickelodeon again. For some reason, all we get is choppy blocks worth of animation due to the signal and our Chatsworth winds. Either they need to do something to accomdate this, or send me a child psychologist to explain to my son why Dora's head is always getting chopped off mid show.) While the kids happily slipped into a TV coma, I was able to sip my coffee and actually read. The book of the month: Anita Shreve's "Light on Snow". A friend loaned it to me on Monday. I had no idea what it was about, except that I told the universe that I needed to start reading again, and lo and behold, this book appeared in my lap. So far, I'm not overly impressed with Shreve's writing, but the story about a baby found in the woods is none the less sucking me in.

There is irony in my self-imposed alone time from my babies, only to find myself reading about an infant who desperately needs a mommy. I'm telling you, no matter how much I attempt to establish myself as someone seperate from my kid connection, it's like my breasts emit Mommy radar and any creature or subject matter regarding humans under 3 feet find me. Even before I had kids, I found myself in this midget kick, quite by accident. First there was Armistead Maupin's "Beyond the Moon" about an ex-little person actress and her journey toward love with a six six black man. Wacky, but actually quite good. (If any of you haven't yet read the serial Maupin is famous for, "Tales of the City", run out today and buy it. You won't be sorry.) Then there was "Stones From the River" about a how a little person learns to deal with her condition by helping other unwanted humans (World War II Jews) find shelter in her cellar. And of course, any book about a fat woman with a super personality, a guy with pimples who asks out a determologist, or a teen in a helmet who wants to join the swim team has me crying and rooting for their success.

I suppose something about my six one frame finds solace in other people who manage to move ahead in life despite looking different. Not that being tall is such a big deal now, but as a kid, it sucked. I was always the one in the back row for school pics. The last to be asked for a dance. And as luck would have it, the worst at any sport involving a hoop or a net. The moral: I could have shrunk (figuratively) and stayed this quiet kid. But I figure I'm going to be seen anyway, so I might as well develop a style and a personality. Get some perspective.

Which leads me back to Cranky Pants. I'm tired of people with no perspective. If my kids are being loud, but you see me trying to contain them, can ya not utter the death sigh in my direction? Perhaps your mother didn't adequately care for you, or you were born forty years old fully potty trained, but my kids are real kids and some days they just want to stand on a coffee house chair and spit in the porceline cup. I see it... I'm on them. How about if I'm looking particulary flustered, you smile? Or God forbid, hold the door for me, or even offer to help? I know my children aren't your problem, but if I saw someone in need (particulary a midget, a fat person, a kid with a helmet and most especially, a fat, pimply midget with a helmet dripping wet from her swim team failure), you bet your sweet leopard skin pants I'd pick up the cup they dropped.

It's only 3:15, so maybe I'll meet some happier folk at Part Two of my day: The McDonald's play area. Of course, I have to wake Sophie from her nap to be on time, so perhaps I'll have crankiness in my own family. So far, my house is a sty (since I actually relaxed first thing in the morning rather than do chores like Martha Stewart at a craft sale). I still need to fix dinner, and I have yet to make my writing goals for the month. This, combined with me most likely having to change into my bigger jeans after I indulge in a Big Mac will make yours truly the Cranky Pants.

Life is such a beautiful full circle. One beautiful, fat, cranky circle.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

No Excuses

There comes a point in everyone's life when they stop making excuses and decide to make things happen. That hit me at 12:44 am last Tuesday as a shirtless, fever-ridden Sophie lay against me in a hospital bed, sucking up medicated air like a stoner at a frat party. As she dozed into peaceful sleep, I said a silent prayer that everything would be okay. I knew it would be, but one's thoughts start to go to crazy places at the wee hours of the morning. Granted, my thoughts go to weird places at 12PM after a tuna sandwich starts to settle, but you get the point. It hit me loud and clear that there's never going to be a perfect time to find my niche - whatever that niche might be. James will always have some last minute business trip that will force me to tend to the kids. Nick and Sophie will always get some virus from licking one too many foam stairs at the Northridge play area. Some family member will inevitably get ill and need a helping hand. A friend will have a baby. A friend could move across the country. One unsuspecting morning I could wake to find a 3 legged kitten mewing in a basket at my front door. (And then I'd track down Slim and Cecelia and make them take their latest orphaned creature back again -damn bleeding heart cat people!) Whatever the circumstance, there is no point banking my big break on when things settle down, because something's always lurking in the corner to kick my ass, good bad or indifferent.

With this new found enlightenment, I sat down at my computer today, while the kids were sleeping, and made a list of all the things I am dabbling in now that I find personal fulfillment, and potential money, in: TV Writing, Ebay, Freelance Writing, Article Writing. Jack of many trades, master of none? That's me. For every two hundred dollars I make at Ebay each month, could this time be better served querying magazines for thousand buck articles? Or finishing up that damn pilot for Susan? Sure. But that's pie in the sky. How about getting a real job? Or a masters' degree? How about teaching piano or tutoring, or finally writing those childrens' poems I keep talking about? When I put it all on paper, I look like a real dreamer, but the truth is, I do get a lot done in a day. But right now, I'm tired. And 40 is looming closer than 30. And at some point, I want a balance. And it's not going to come from my constant whirlwind of activity. I need less Tazmanian Devil and more Shaggy. And while I'm focusing, I'd some how like to paint the inside of my house, get some new furniture, organize my photos, lose that last ten pounds, read a book, write a book and have quality time with James at the end of the day.

Side note: Hands off to the geniouses that named a woman's nutrition bar "Balance". They know that all women who eat those delicious treats (like me) aren't really thaaaat serious about getting fit and grounded, because if they were, they wouldn't ingest a million calories first thing in the morning and delude themselves that it's healthy for them. Then, they stay that extra 10 pounds over their goal weight, which keeps them chasing their dream, buying more bars, and somehow pretending that the name itself will magically instill balance in their lives. While they are doing this, they can put Baby Einstein in the DVD so that their kids somehow get smart via the VCR (another brilliant name for a product) and drink Diet Coke. Which will make them crap. Which I am off of again as of yesterday.

More exciting goals from me tomorrow. And please, if anyone has any ideas or support, I'd love to hear from you. Of course, this won't help me focus, but I'll focus on focusing tomorrow.

Foc-us all!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Back from the Dead

Let me begin by stating that my lack of posts has been due to all things spooky, sickly and croupy. My son cast a spell over my daughter last week giving her a demon of a cold. I spent several days in and out of Kaiser, including a midnight run to ER for breathing treatments. Then my two day girls trip to San Diego by train took a detour in the form of Dominic coming with me so that Sophie could get full papa treatment. Part of me was very irritated at this turn of events: whose toilet do I have to clean to get a vacation? But the mommy side of me was thrilled to see Dominic's excitement as he boarded the "Thomas Train" like a little man, lugging his train suitcase behind him. In fact, between his suitcase, the diaper bag and the car seat, guess who didn't have her own suitcase? I spent two full days in the same pair of black capris and "I Love Geek" teeshirt. But what the hell. It was fun anyway. As it happens, my girlfriend, Al, from college lives in a fantastic three bedroom town home on the seventeeth floor of a downtown San Diego highrise. It's right across from the train station, so the moment we arrived, I felt like I was in a Richard Scary book - "A Day in the City!" We saw red metro links whizzing by. There were taxis. There was scaffolding over newly erected buildings. There was dump trucks whirring and cruise ships docking. There were helicopters flying and airplanes landing. And, best of all, and closest to my fantasy, there was a door man of sorts in the lobby of Al's building directing us toward the elevator. Once we were inside Al's place, resplete with wood floors, granite counter tops and stainless steel fixtures, I couldn't help but sigh with delight at her expansive ocean view. After putting Nick to bed (who spent all night playing with Al's daughter's toys, as well as their friends' daughter who came over) she and I sat on her cozy white bed, shoulder to shoulder like the old days, and chatted about life as fireworks exploded off the water and reflected on a modern building. To make a perfect moment even better, her darling husband brought us gelato icecream in bed. For those of you who have never had this Italian concoction of pure taste sensation, you must leave this post immediately and wait in line for a cafe' of your choice to open so you don't live a moment longer without this heavenly decadence. And speaking of food, Nick and I were treated like royalty from the moment we arrived. First there was the Quiznos sandwiches that Al bought us from the eatery at the bottom of her building (because in my fantasy, there's a restaurant attached to my highrise also) Later that night, her husband brought home mouth watering Thai food. The next morning, Al's husband made us omelettes and coffee. Everything was so nice, I almost forgot I had a sick baby at home and my girls' weekend was ruined. I was under a spell of all things cooked for me, beautiful home gleaming and the hope of the whole world spread under my feet seventeen stories below.

Like any fairy tale, my vacation ended too soon. I wasn't woken up by a prince, but instead, a drooling toddler who had to use the bathroom. It was reality from there on out as Nick and I soon found ourselves back on "Thomas" headed to the Valley. Four hours of walking the halls, eating at the cafe car and chatting up every toddler on the six coach train, we unceremoniously arrived in Chatsworth. A bolt of joy shot through me as the first thing I saw was Pipsqueak, high on Papa's shoudlers, two pig tails flying. She looked fifty percent better, making my guilt of leaving her (which wasn't much, making me the worst mother on the planet) vanish. James had a mocha frappucino for me as well as a harvest sign he picked up at Walmart. I missed him. He missed me. And Sophie, though feeling better, still couldn't scream due to her enlarged throat.

A happy ending to a fairy tale weekend indeed!