Monday, December 21, 2009

Grasping at Thin




For my age. For my location. For my peer set, I'm still pretty fit. Not thin. But fit. At Christmas, or really it begins at Thanksgiving, I climb on to a slippery slope known as holiday weight gain. "Hey it's the holidays. I think I'll eat a bunch of nuts covered in crap I used to spackle my bathroom. "


My neighbor just brought over a chocolate mousse. Not an ordinary MOOSE mind you. This is chocolate mousse swimming in Oreos. Like mousse itself wasn't fattening enough. And god love her, I'll eat every bit of it. "Thanks Shelly," I'll wave to her, my arm fat swinging in the wind. (The Hanging Gardens of Babylon according to Erma Bombeck)


Sometimes I think about letting it all go. Bring it. Bring on the skinny legs, huge belly. Bring on the holiday sweaters with stirrup pants. Bring on the "dressy" track suit.


Like a long lost lover, I occasionally glance my gym. I think to myself, "Don't I know you?" Then those horrid recollections come flooding back like the time I took that Pilates mat class and the smell of AXE body spray.


As I sit here blogging, I can feel my muffin top longing to escape my mid-rise jeans. "Please let me out," she says. "I can't breathe. "


Suck it up muffin top. I'm not ready to let it all hang out. I'm picturing a slow descent beginning with Spanx worn daily and then those whale rib numbers that Scarlett O'Hara wore, until one day I walk up to my husband, unzip my velour track suit jacket, and my stomach drops to the floor.


Erma Bombeck also wrote, "Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart. "

Monday, December 14, 2009

My One and Only


Tonight I was rambling around twitter as I often do now, and I came across a friend of a friend @Military_Mom. She'd just posted this message:

"Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool."

Then a friend @ShellyKramer broke the bad news. This mom's 2 year-old, a little boy, drowned.

I have a boy Will and he's 11. I've always been a bit superstitious about Will because he's my only child, despite several failed attempts at pregnancy. He's the boy who finds the rusty tin can if you know what I mean. He's had face glue and stitches and a rotator cuff problem. He's not the injury magnet that some other kids are but he's not exactly treading lightly in this world.

The other thing about Will is that he really is an extraordinary kid. He's just a gem of a human being. So I worry. About Will.

I remember first seeing the movie, "Stand by Me" and then reading the Stephen King short story, "The Body". In that story, a boy, a golden boy like my boy Will, dies while intervening on someone else's behalf. And deep down I've had this fear about my Will. First of all, he's a boy who would intervene. And he's my one and only.

I always worried because Will was my only child. I thought losing your only child would be worse than losing a child when you have other children. But I know now that can't be true. Losing a child, your only or one of three, is the same. It's unfathomable.

This morning I scolded Will for not logging his reading, for missing the bus, for being disorganized. Tonight I feel afraid. I feel thankful and guilty.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Makin' Bacon



Yesterday we had a two hour snow delay. I decided to use that time while my son was still home to make some bacon. That's not code or anything. I actually cooked bacon.

I have this theory that I can put the bacon in the pan, walk away, and come back to turn it from time-to-time. This theory never works but I keep trying. It's an ADD issue. When I'm standing there staring at the bacon, it feels like an eternity. When I walk upstairs to check my email, come back down to check the bacon, I've burned it.

I burned four pieces yesterday right out of the gate. This is organic bacon mind you so that was about $1.50 in bacon straight into the bin. Not Niman Ranch bacon which is so expensive, we'd be forced to eat the burned bits. But I digress.

The whole ADD thing is definitely a family trait, although I can focus for long periods of time if I think it's important. For example, when I'm writing. Cooking and laundry and those types of chores bring out the worst in me. I think I can multi-task when in fact, I cannot.

My son asked me if I'd ever read a book twice. I said, "Sure, lots of books." When I was growing up I loved Little Women. As a swoony teenager, I read Pride and Prejudice repeatedly. I love Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I read that one from time to time for inspiration.

"Wow I can't imagine reading a book twice," he said. Like it would be the equivalent of 40 lashes or being boiled in oil. I was thinking about Little Women and how insanely boring a book like that would probably sound to a modern kid. No gizmos, no high-tech, no sex, no nothing.

My new twitter friend @Ieastmykidzsnack wrote this hysterical blog the other day. She was talking about bad driving habits and that our "forefathers" wouldn't have been so distracted while steering their covered wagons. She referenced Mary Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie "sexting in Braille".

Little House on the Prairie would have about as much appeal for modern kids as say decoupage or tying knots. If it doesn't light up or talk or connect to the Interweb, today's kids don't want it. This thought made me feel very old, like I'm spanning the gap between my generation and iRobot.

When I got out of college, I moved to New York and worked in Midtown. At that time, Horn & Hardart automat was still open for business on 42nd and 3rd. The automat concept must've seemed like XBox to someone in the early 1900's, when they first came on the scene in the US. Early adopters surely feared this food that appeared in a window, like magic. Much as I fear first person shooter games. Horn & Hardart eventually closed. No more magic.

It's no wonder the automat went the way of the dodo. Why stand in line with a tray, pay and eat sitting down when you can grab a Cheesy Gordita Crunch on the Go? I don't need no stinkin' plate. I'll eat standing up while texting and studying for my Master's.

Here's an excerpt from Little Women when the girls wake up Christmas morning and are thrilled to find a book under each of their pillows:

"Mother wants us to read and love and mind these books, and we must begin at once. We used to be faithful about it, but since Father went away and all this war trouble unsettled us, we have neglected many things."

I can't imagine the look on my kid's face if he woke up to a book on Christmas morning. No Wii game. No laser-powered rocket launcher. A book.

I don't know how the kids of my kid's generation will turn out. Despite my ADD issues, I did read Little Women more than once and I loved Little House on the Prairie (until I got older and realized how gay it was compared to say Joanie Loves Chachi). Hey when did Scott Baio start playing the piano?

Sorry I drifted off again. At least I'm not cooking bacon.

NB Click to see the ultimate homage to bacon by Jim Gaffigan

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Vicious Circle



Three of my friends are facing cancer scares. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with one of them. Yesterday a friend had a biopsy. Over Thanksgiving another friend flew to Northern California to say goodbye to her sister who is in stage 4.

It's taken me a long time to make these friends. I'm a pretty shy person at heart. I can talk to anyone one-on-one, but walking into a cocktail party full of people I don't know is like agony. My three friends are all very different, have very different backgrounds but they share a common thread.

At this point in my life, I'm not interested in talking to someone who is all "Up with People". Actually another friend of mine just met an "Up with People" person. That's not for me. Unless she's willing to share some "Up with People" dirt, because you know there's dirt.

My three friends were all willing to share their flaws with me. That's what I like. I've recently become closer to a high school friend I didn't know very well. We ran into each other at the gym and I was explaining my theory of looking for chinks in the armor. She exclaimed, "Oh I love the chinks," which didn't come out right but I totally got it.

I know many women who put on that face, that suburban "my children are perfect, my marriage is perfect, all is perfect" face. Well I am deeply flawed so I don't know what we're going to talk about after I run out of nice things to say about my son. He's perfect or nearly. I am not.

My three new friends, and all of my friends that I have now, are willing to admit their flaws. That quality makes them perfect to me. Those flaws are the things we laugh about or cry about. It's the imperfections, in my humble opinion, that make us interesting and beautiful.

Sometimes when I run or sneeze, I wet my pants. Just a little. Hey I had a ten pound baby, okay? One of my friends lost custody of her young son to a jerk of an ex. But they've spliced together a close relationship as adults. One of my friends admits she's not that close to her dying sister. One of my friends has a daughter that doesn't fit the timeline of her marriage. One of my friends is almost surely getting a divorce.

We're all flawed and imperfect and ridiculous. For me, it's easier to let it all hang out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Digging in the Dirt


My son is digging for buried treasure in our yard. Muttering to himself, “Jewelry, rings, bracelet, something. I’ve got to find something so I can be rich.”

To say he is covered in dirt would be excessive. Dusting is too little. Patchy, mottled, spotted perhaps. It’s running the length of his shin from the one knee he is using to support his efforts. His shorts have a ring around the seat. Dirt is sticking to the green ice cream stain on the front of his shirt. The rims of his nostrils are brown.

“Mom, how come I can’t find any buried treasure?”
“Sometimes you have to switch locations.”
“What? What does that mean?”

“You know, change your spot.”

“Mom, I don’t need this stinkin’ shovel. I’ve got a great idea.”

The boy practically herniates himself trying to lift our broken garage door.


“Need some help?”

“Nope.”
Enter new pogo stick, gift from grandma for Christmas. “What’s he doing?” says my husband, who is bunched up on a short wicker settee. My husband loathes wicker.

Sticking the bottom of the pogo into the hole, my son begins to pump the handle up and down like a jackhammer.

“Well, mom, that flattens nothing out. Well mom, that flattens everything out. Yep, I just need these three things. The shovel, the clippers and the pogo.”
This conversation would go on whether or not I was present to hear it.

I’m tempted to bury some treasure in the hole when he runs inside for dinner. But what effect will that have? Maybe he’ll think there is treasure in every hole, reward from every effort. It will likely end this activity that has gone on successfully for about 1 ½ hours, giving me a chance to write. These are the things you think about as a parent, when you have a moment to think.

Keep digging Will. The digging is reward enough.


NB. I wrote this piece about 4 years ago but I liked thinking about that day. Especially my husband suffering in the wicker. Good times.

NB2: I just found this quote and love it for this story: "There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure." ~ Mark Twain.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Inspiration

Yesterday I went to the gym for the first time in about a month. I've been dealing with contractors and sending out work samples to prospects. So I let the gym slip.

I was looking for inspiration or motivation, reasons why I should go to the dreaded gym. One of my facebook friends said simply, "Get your butt down there." That's really all it is. Making the time. And overcoming my fear of swine flu stagnating on the treadmill. Also avoiding the various rush hours from the mommy brigade arriving promptly at 9am to the swingers who start showing up around cocktail hour.

Where to find inspiration? Typically when I wake up, at least these days, my brain starts in immediately. A flurry of bad thoughts about I gotta do this and I gotta do that. What, another load of laundry? Please let the dishwasher be empty. When are the sheetrockers coming? I have to get out before they arrive.

Mainly I have to get out of my house by 8:30 to avoid conversations with my general contractor. In an earlier
blog post, I referenced a typical conversation I have with my GC.

Fred: "Yeah I was on this job and the homeowner was like all pissed off because these other guys came in and it's all FUBAR'ed and now I gotta fix it. That's what they all say to me, 'Freddy, make it go away.'"

Me: "Uh-huh."

Every time he saves the day. It's amazing.

Except for that time last week when he dropped his table saw in my garage. Then the saw fell into some metal object that then fell on my scooter and cracked the fender. Here's what my scooter looked like before:

Oh there was also that time when he knocked himself out with our garage door. Still not sure how that happened.

My mom says I should be patient with these guys because they have hard lives and they aren't as fortunate as I am. They drink too much. They're divorced or in some kind of murky relationship with their kid's mom. Fred's got a girl. They've been together 7 years. I think he likes his dog more than he likes his girl. His face lights up when he talks about his dog Deak. His girl, not so much.

But I digress. Inspiration, inspiration, looking for inspiration. I went to Dunkin' Donuts to get my morning coffee and I ran into one of the guys in the klatch. There are two guy klatches at this Dunkin'. I don't know why the image persists of women sitting around gossiping over coffee when all I see are man klatches.

This guy is in the older guy klatch. (He sits with the guy who hoards napkins.) Normally we exchange hellos but he was running late and didn't see me waiting for my coffee. As he was chatting with the Dunkin' lady he asked her how to translate "beautiful but cold day" into Spanish. Something about fria. He repeated the phrase twice with a big smile on his face, happy to be learning something new.

As I pulled out of the Dunkin' parking lot, I saw a group of high school girls running down the street-- a local high school cross country team I am assuming. One girl was about 20 feet behind everyone else. All the other girls were running in a pack in front of her. She was a little bigger than the others, but not much. Normal by most standards. But the other girls were thin and tall with perfect pony tails swinging in the wind as they left her in the dust.

What I noticed about the lone girl running behind was that she didn't look downtrodden. She actually had sort of a grimace on her face, a look of determination. This girl was running her own race.

You actually can learn something new everyday. You can be running dead last and that's okay. Inspiration. I found it at Dunkin' Donuts of all places.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bad Twitter

For the most part, say 99.99% of the time, Twitter is a shiny, happy place. People tweet about their lives, their work, their passions. They are supportive and complimentary when conversing with their tweeps.

Sure there are some porn boys and girls and one time I got a very strange message from a guy called @Iheartpantyhose or something like that. He wanted to know if I was wearing any. I felt sort of sorry for him, looking at this twitter pic of a very young man wearing only pantyhose. Because no one wears pantyhose anymore.

I got in the middle of a dust-up on twitter one night when two women got into an argument with @dooce and her husband @blurb. I banged out a quick blog, made some mistakes that I corrected, not before insulting at least two of the people involved. One woman used some very choice words to explain why it was none of my business. The other @lydahl became a follower and I'm following her as well.

There are some passive ways to mess with someone on twitter. It's actually a tactic for growing followers to follow someone, they follow you, and then you dump them. There are tools you can use to check who is following you and who is not. I use http://www.friendorfollow.com/

Another is http://www.followwatch.com/. I think followwatch notifies you when someone dumps you. I don't mind when one of those "Make Money on Twitter" guys stops following me. But there have been a few legit ones that made me think, "What did I do?"

Recently, I started following this new guy @telesticles. I found him through another guy @TheUserPool. @TheUserPool is pretty interesting. His twitter bio is: You might call me a technology geek....I'm also the guy fucking your wife at work. @TheUserPool followed me first and I followed back. We DM'ed a few times and he seems pretty nice. It just so happens he has a ragin' sex life.

So @telesticles... his deal is he picks a twitter trend, almost all of which are inane. Yesterday was something about holla and today is #youknowyouruglyif (misspelled) and #arealwife. So @telesticles finds people using these idiotic phrases and he starts messing with them. Most of the people he's messing with are young women, wearing lingerie or in other "sexy girl" poses.

To @badgal69 he wrote, "Here's the real question: does #arealwife speak English. Because you sure as hell fucking don't.

Here's another one: Ass clown alert for @marcusbowers. Specific mockery not necessary. He does it for you.

A couple of days ago, I re-tweeted something from @telesticles and we exchanged the following:

@fightingfinn People don't always know what they're getting into when they RT me. I've been known to waste a lot of time just being a prick.

@telesticles You don't scare me.

@fightingfinn I'm not really a scary person. Just more of a malcontent and a grump. So long as you're fine with that, I'm fine with that.


Okay I get it now. Underneath it all, he's not a bad guy. Maybe even a nice guy, though his
twavatar looks like a box turtle on crack.

More insight from @telesticles: "Repurposing a proposal for a campaign designed to defraud an old client into a proposal for a campaign that will defraud a new one."

At last I understand. He's in the marketing business, probably advertising. A cautionary tale.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top 10 Signs We're Living in Bizarro-world


  1. Levi Johnston, appeared at the 2009 Fleshbot Awards, celebrating amateur and professional porn. There he told a reporter Sarah Palin was smart not to dish about him on Oprah saying, "She knows what I got on her." Yes she done did know, Levi.
  2. Balloon Boy's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene, will be charged with a felony and misdemeanor respectively, but will only serve probationary sentences. Thankfully, they will continue to be parents to their three young boys.
  3. In the current issue of O Magazine, Oprah writes about using her voice as a force for good and a revelation she had while hiking in the Colorado woods. She asked of the universe, "What would you have me do?" and the aspens whispered back, "Take the high road." In this spirit she graciously offered to be the person who unveiled the chimp mauling victim's face for the first time on TV.
  4. Mike Tyson was arrested and charged with battery for punching a photographer at LAX. He did not, however, bite the man's ear off so it's considered a win-win for both.
  5. Kenneth Feinberg, Obama's executive compensation czar, is concerned a 50% cut in pay to Citigroup's top executives will drive talent away from all companies receiving a US taxpayer bailout. Andrew Hall, a Citigroup trader, may earn as much as $100 million this year because his contract precedes the bailout. I don't know how he'll get by on that kind of chump change.
  6. The Filipino extremist group responsible for kidnapping then releasing an Irish priest is called MILF. I'm not going to be the one to tell them.
  7. Carrie Prejean, former Miss California USA, was outraged by interview questions regarding a sex tape she made with a boyfriend claiming, "Christians aren't perfect." She went on to say, "Homosexuals aren't perfect either but they're more not perfect than Christians so they deserve to be smote."
  8. Michael Jackson's funeral cost more than $1 million including $600,000 for his crypt, $35,000 for his clothes, $12,000 for invitations and $5,000 for extra special dirt.
  9. Britney Spears twitter account was hacked but the account has since been reverted. Now the real Britney is tweeting about lip-synching her way through Australia.
  10. Modern Warfare 2, a first-person killing game, sold 4.7 million copies on the first day of release in the US and UK. Msnbc columnist, Winda Benedetti, describes the rush she felt when in hand-to-hand combat with a (fake) human being bad guy, she plunges her (virtual) knife into his (pretend) belly and he takes his last breath in her (imaginary) arms.
NB: This note was hanging in the bathroom at Macy's Herald Square. Perhaps most alarming is the manager's inability to correctly spell maneger.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is This All There Is?


The eternal question. Things are not going my way right now and according to my astrological chart, according to my mom reading it, things won't be going my way for several months.

I'm sitting here, Will home again for another bogus school holiday, and his whistling is driving me nuts. I'm waiting for the contractors to show up. Angel with his sad face. Fred with his non-stop talking. Rock, a ginormous human being, who may be called Rock because of his stature or because of his specialty, sheetrock. All the noise, noise, noise, noise as the Grinch says.

I have to break it to Angel that my husband is still not happy with the paint job on the house. And he'll look at me with those sad eyes, wondering when the hell he's going to get paid. I'll have to listen to another story from Fred, in which, in general, he is the saviour of some homeowner like me who's been screwed three ways till Sunday by other contractors. Fred, not even Superman does that much saving.

They're all here, all the time. On ladders in my window, talking to me when I'm on the phone, leaving their crap everywhere. It's like having 10 children or 10 husbands.

One time I was taking a shower and walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. I thought they were all gone but Benjamin was still in the house. Thankfully, his back was turned and he's sort of hard of hearing so I don't think he saw me as I scampered away.

I sat down this morning to watch a 20 minute film, Helicopter by Ari Gold. In that short span of time, I was interrupted 6 times, Three phone calls. One I urgently need your help mom, because my video player won't rewind. One my cable modem is jittery and screwing up the video. And finally, Angel, breaking window glass in the backyard.

There was a chance I would go to Ethiopia with a client next week but they couldn't work out the plane tickets. Literally, I thought YES! The sweet release of flying 20 hours to Addis Ababa, landing in a place where no one knows me, without reliable phone or Internet. Just quiet.

There's another chance I can go in February and I am praying the travel gods will grant me permission to fly, fly away.

In this film Helicopter, the director's mother is killed in a helicopter crash. She was 47 years-old.

Follow this link to watch Helicopter: http://vimeo.com/6887916

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Mom Haircut

I'd been thinking of cutting my hair off until about two weeks ago when I got a very cute cut at Chez Shay in Fairfield. Now I'm feeling better and less crazed about doing something dramatic.

I haven't had short hair since I was a kid when I took the scissors to my own head. The results were not great. I was no Meg Ryan in French Kiss. My son said if I cut my hair too short, I'll look like one of those Frankenstein dolls. He means a troll.

Then my husband chimed in and said if I cut off my hair I would look like a nesting doll. Here I am with my new haircut and 5 mini-me's. Frankly I don't care what either of them says. I may just cut it all off.

Maybe I'll remind my husband that it costs about $300 to keep my hair in this style and this color. That's about $1500 annually. I could cut all my hair off and wear a scarf just like these little babushkas.


I'll admit, it's tough to pull off cute short hair. Katie Holmes has cute short hair. Of course, she's married to a megalomaniacal psycho-freak, but her hair is darn cute.
 

It's a slippery slope from Katie Holmes' cute mom hair to WTF was Katie Couric thinking mom hair. Seriously, all those image consultants, one of the highest-profile jobs in news EVER, and this is what they come up with for Katie Couric?

I think that's the #19 at Supercuts next time you go, Katie.
And then there's the long slow slide into grandma hair that you get "done" once a month and then don't touch. That hair that was the reason Spray Net was invented. That hair stays in place through all kinds of weather, kept neatly tucked away in a pointy plastic rain cap. That hair smells like maple syrup and cookie dough which may in fact be trapped underneath all that Spray Net.
Grandma hair says, "I've earned the right to this helmet head and by golly you'd better not touch it." For now, I'll keep my shoulder length, out-of-control, freaky curly hair. I'm enjoying having curly hair after a childhood filled with barrettes that slipped off and waterfalls hanging limply to one side. I may go completely crazy and buy those Bumpits "as seen on TV".


We'll see what my husband thinks about my new beehive.






Monday, October 19, 2009

People Will See Me and Cry

Sometimes I wonder where I been, who I am, do I fit in? No I don't really. But I was thinking about Irene Cara and Fame.

My husband said to me, "Are we in such bad shape creatively, as a country, that we're remaking Fame?" Um, yes we are.

I've been to see a slew of movies recently, almost all of them terrible. I went to see Couples Retreat this weekend. The film had its moments, none of them funny. From the beginning, I thought to myself, "Hey, maybe I should've listened to Rotten Tomatoes."








Is his Junk Showing?

Couples Retreat opens with a powerpoint presentation involving "ball cancer" aka prostate cancer. Really bummed because this is yet another idea in our screenplay that is now out there, been done and poorly.

Then there is this bit where Jason Bateman breaks into Vince Vaughn's home causing the alarm to sound. Vince has to call his alarm provider and give the code word, ass-tastic. Might've flown if he'd left it at that but he chose to spell ass-tastic and then repeat it and then Jason repeated it and then I nodded off.

I also saw The Proposal -- spoiler alert, just pop in during the last 30 minutes to catch Ryan Reynolds shirtless, then naked. Betty White, an unbelievably talented comedian, is ridiculous as the dotty grandmother. And Sandra Bullock has done something to her face, not sure what, but it is entirely line-free and sort of waxy.

I saw The Ugly Truth with Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. I'm a fan of both actors but was shocked by the crassness and really just tacky love story that was to my horror, written by three women. "Flicking the bean" is a new expression I learned. That's all I can say about The Ugly Truth.

I know that critics are a dime a dozen and hey the truth is I've been sitting on my crappy-ass screenplay for years now. But as an audience member who has actually paid $7.25 just to get in, excluding popcorn and medium diet coke, I think I deserve better. Really I haven't even set the bar very high. Die Hard? Seen 'em all. Sandra Bullock rom coms. Check. As previously stated, I have a thing for Steven Seagal movies. So really, very low bar. (No knock against Katherine Heigl who was also in a Steven Seagal movie.)

I'm tired of Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, this guy and Jonah Hill. Couldn't you cast Paul Rudd with Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen with Gerard Butler? Or Vince Vaughn and Zooey Deschanel? She can sing and he can dance.

Shake it up a little bit. Go crazy. Take chances. I mean isn't the movie business the riskiest business of all?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Twitter and Real Life: When Worlds Collide

Yesterday I found out one of my twitter pals lives in Norwalk, CT about 20 minutes from my house. I've promised to keep her identity and location a secret from the rest of the twitterverse. She's one of those masked men on twitter with neither picture nor location given. Her twavatar is a fuse box.

We came to the realization that we were neighbors through a circuitous route. We were talking about Bob from The Biggest Loser. (Just Bob, no last name) We were talking about Bob because my husband is working on a website for Bob's latest promotion, NUT-trition, a joint-venture with Planter's. I guess my twitter friend decided to take a closer look at me and figured out I was from Fairfield, CT.

At first, I felt sort of alarmed by her proximity. A big part of twitter is the anonymity, the mystery, the fake ID's. Sometimes I wonder, "Hey what does @badbanana look like in real life?" Or I'll say to myself, "Is that guy flirting with me or is he just waging an aggressive twitter follower campaign?"

I think @ArrogantGrump was flirting with me but he's since moved on to greener pastures.

This morning I had two unique Direct Messages from new twitter followers. Most of the time, the messages are along the lines of thanks for the follow and check out my system for making thousands of dollars on twitter. Or check out my naughty video. One lady asked me to help her pay for her 11 year-old daughter's college tuition. Needless to say, I feel my priority is to put my own 11 year-old through college.

New follower @kazukitakizawa in Hawaii asked me to help him move his 10ft tall sculpture with link to said sculpture. A quote-unquote Auric Shelter, the piece, installed at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, was designed to reduce students' stress during finals week--using principles of color therapy. @kazukitakizawa is asking twitter followers to donate $4,000 to help with moving the sculpture from place to place, reducing stress all along the way.

Another new twitter follower offered me a free download of his new ambient album. I took a listen this morning and it's kind of nice. For a moment I was transported to a time and place when I could afford massages and spa treatments. I was having sensory memory of almond oil and incense.

It's tricky water we're navigating on twitter. Me and my new friend in Norwalk. The sculptor and the maker of ambient music. Who knows what we're like in real life?

Now crickets are chirping on the ambient album. We're all crickets out there in twitterville. Making odd, soothing music in concert with millions.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Fight


Today I had an argument with my husband and I went too far. Now he can't look at me. That's not a good sign. That means, "I'm not even mad at you anymore. I just can't stand to be around you."

In any marriage or long-term relationship, there are arguments and people say things they don't mean in the heat of the moment. In my humble opinion, based on 12 years into this relationship, civility is the first thing to go between two people spending night and day together.

First it's a feeling of comfort that you know all their little quirks. Then those quirks begin to wear thin. My husband really loves that I can't find my keys. Ever. I love that he folds his receipts with origami-like precision, a process that takes about 5 minutes. He's a little bit anal, I'm a little bit ADD. The bloom is off the rose as they say.

The difficulty in many relationships is remembering to be civil to one another even when you want to kill someone for doing that annoying thing just one more time. Do unto others. Judge not lest ye be judged. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. Oh wait, that's something else. (My husband loves when I use humor to avoid serious discussions.)

All I can do now is apologize and wait it out. Hopefully he'll forgive me in a day or so. Tonight we get to have the awkward dinner with my family and pretend to be in love, happily married, close. At a minimum, I know I will be civil. I owe him that at the very least.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Independence Day


Yesterday was a really good day for my son Will. He actually turned to me at one point and said, "Mom this is a really great day."

After meeting with Will's middle school teachers and guidance counselors the week before, we all agreed Will's primary issue at school was self-reliance.

To that end, we sent him off to school yesterday with a mission. He had to, on his own, find the after school Homework Club and navigate the late bus home. Mind you, last week I'd given him instructions not to take the bus home--that I would pick him up instead. It turned into a fiasco of epic proportions that ended with both of us crying, lost and finally reunited after about 45 minutes.

I began to get anxious around 3pm, the normal end of the school day. I was anticipating a call from someone along the lines of , "Hey we've got your kid here and you might want to pick him up." Instead, at 4:15 on the money Will came strolling off the bus with a big smile on his face. He'd done it all by himself!

Will is our only child and he's a gosh darn good one. My husband likes to tell the story of the moments right after he was born. Rod put his hand on Will's chest for the first time. He just sat there looking quietly up at his dad. Calm, happy, with thick head of hair that the nurses parted on the side.

I used to think I would have more input into how Will grows up, that my job was to mold him. Now I think Will was born the way he is and my job is to not screw him up.

I heard this interview on NPR last weekend. Michael Feldman's guest on
Whad'Ya Know? was screenwriter / essayist Paul Rudnick. Rudnick told some very funny stories about Hollywood and writing the screenplay for the Addams Family. He loved writing for these unconventional children Wednesday and Pugsley. Rudnick says this about parenting:

Also I'm a firm believer in the fact that anyone's personality is basically formed about 6 seconds after birth so parents should stop worrying so much. You know if your child is going to grow up to become a serial killer or Vice President or whatever it is so out of your control.  You know I say just treat'em like time bombs.
While I tend to agree, particularly now in this insane age of helicopter parenting, I think I was molding Will's behavior in a sense. Because I didn't have faith in him, Will was losing faith in himself.

I still believe Will was born the way he is and I should support that. But I can also see that by not supporting him, I was changing his personality. He'd gone from that first 6 seconds of serene happiness to self-doubt and fear.

As we were walking to school this morning, I said to Will, "I'm really proud of how well you did yesterday. I underestimated what you were capable of doing."

He said, "I know. I underestimated myself."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Georgia Couple Finds Safe Harbor in Connecticut


Christopher and Sandra Yarborough were in Connecticut to collect the Jenny, a 25-foot sailboat they bought from an owner in Southport. Shortly after setting out on their journey to Florida, their trip abruptly came to a halt when the Jenny ran aground at a nearby beach.

With a damaged rudder, no gas and no water, the Yarboroughs were in serious trouble. In the distance, they could see people running up and down the beach. Sandra Yarborough said, “The water was so big and it was very windy. If one of those waves hit us, we felt like it would turn us over. Then we saw the people coming out of their houses. They got us off the boat.”

Mr. Yarborough was shaking when the two were brought to safety. His rescuers were concerned he might have hypothermia but he was feeling fine within an hour. Both of the Yarboroughs have survived major health crises. Christopher Yarborough, 59, suffered a stroke in 1999, which paralyzed his left side. In 1982, Sandra Yarborough, 57, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given only six months to live. Although she continues to move in and out of remission, her doctors felt she was fit enough to make the voyage. “I tend to beat the odds,” she says.

The Yarboroughs were housed temporarily in a nearby inn but they were anxious to get back to their boat and be reunited with their pets Greenie, a 3 year-old Jack Russell and Ralph, their 17 year-old orange cat. The Jenny, the couple and their pets are now safely berthed at the Fayerweather Yacht Club in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Club members have been working furiously to get their boat into shipshape for the trip from Connecticut to Cocoa Village, Fla. Timing is critical as the season is already beginning to change in Connecticut. Originally scheduled to set sail this past Sunday, some of the club members asked that the Yarboroughs postpone the trip for a couple of days to pull the sailboat of out the water and make doubly sure she is seaworthy.

On Friday, another captain, Bob Butler, took Sandra Yarborough out on his boat, the Whisper to guide her though the route they’ll be taking next week. “The trip gave me a point of reference that I can see, so I’m not just navigating from charts,” said Yarborough.

The voyage from Connecticut through New York City can be tricky, including navigating the treacherous Hell Gate passage between the Bronx and Queens. The Jenny will make her way through New York's East River, sailing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and on to New Jersey.


Their newly found friends in Connecticut are concerned for their safety but recognize the grit and determination the Yarboroughs have to make their trip South. To that end, the members of Fayerweather Yacht Club have banded together to support the Yarboroughs in their dream. The boat repairs, gas for the boat, and housing the boat have all been paid for by the yacht club. Club members have also donated $300, a GPS system, autopilot system and new battery. When the Yarboroughs set sail next Wednesday they will be surrounded by well-wishers, people they might never have known if they hadn’t run aground in Connecticut.

The Yarboroughs first stop is just past Executioner’s Rock near New Rochelle, New York. Prior to the Revolutionary War, British soldiers brought colonial prisoners to the spot to be tortured and ultimately drowned. Sounds scary but the Yarboroughs aren’t spooked. “No. I’m not really nervous. I have my faith. The Lord has never given me anything I can’t handle,” said Sandra Yarborough.

As Georgians, the Yarboroughs might not have expected to be greeted with this outpouring of Northern hospitality. When asked if she was surprised by the kindness of strangers in Connecticut, Sandra Yarborough said, “I take people on how I meet them, not on what I hear about them. These people, they claim they don’t have wings. But I see their wings all the time.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dooce in Twitter Smackdown


In the PR biz, you know at some point your client is going to take a hit. A product is not well-received, an executive says something stupid or your numbers hit the skids. It's just a fact of life. One thing I've always told clients at this critical juncture is, "Don't worry. Americans love an underdog."

After all, we are a nation that watched Rocky four times. Or was it five?

Right now, as we speak, one of the biggest mommy bloggers out there, Heather Armstrong, is in an all-out war on twitter https://twitter.com/dooce). Beloved for her brutally frank writing about mommyhood and marriage, she has over a million followers. Maytag recently learned their lesson when they tangled with Dooce. After a negative experience with one of their washers, Ms. Armstrong repeatedly twittered DO NOT BUY MAYTAG, revealing she'd been offered machines for free by other vendors.

In this very astute piece about Dooce vs. Maytag, writer Anna asks if this is Brand Bullying. She calls out Dooce's recent change in bahavior from twitter "broadcaster" to conversationalist. Before most of her tweets were just sent out there into the universe or she would occasionally reply to @blurb (her husband) and other close friends. Suddenly she began engaging her audience, using the @twittername convention to give a shout-out to readers and followers.

Tonight, there is something else afoot in twitterland. A few bloggers @lydahl and @namechanged began making negative comments about @dooce. It may not seem like it, but this is either courageous or downright crazy. It's like David messing with Goliath.

Twitter at this point is still primarily populated by people on their best behavior. You get the occasional porn bot (or more than occasional) but for the most part people are using good manners, smiley faces and exclamation points to show their enthusiasm.

Tonight, that went to hell in a handbasket. Dooce instigated a program called "Monetizing the Hate". The idea is to take all the trash talk written about Dooce, put it in one place and then "litter the entire thing with ads". So aside from the mommy blogger swag, speaking engagements, book deal and other revenues enjoyed by Ms. Armstrong, she would also make money off her hate mail. Ingenious really.

In all fairness, Dooce has said she planned to donate all the money from Monetize the Hate. Still, the idea did not sit well with some of Dooce's followers like @lydahl and @namechanged who called Dooce out in a public forum on twitter. Then Dooce's husband @blurb got involved in response to @lydahl calling their behavior #douchebaggy, saying "Stop being insecure."

A few samples of the exchanges going on in the twitterverse:

@apuraja: @blurb @dooce are you guys really so corporate sellouty as it seems? Ducking for cover as poop is thrown my way.

@juliamstewart @blurb @dooce don't worry if you have old fans complaining, you have new ones like me enjoying everything

@sunnyhunt @blurb douchebaggy? No. Do I feel a growing disconnect? Yes. Love reading you and Dooce but growing harder to identify and enjoy lately.

Douchebaggy? Sellouty? Like a twittered down version of cursing. For now, a few little-known bloggers have become the underdog, joined by others if only in our chicken-shit minds. But the tide will likely turn at some point and @dooce will become the underdog. We are a society that can't abide too much love. Every once in awhile, we like to knock our heroes off their pedestals.


NB: @namechanged isn't an actual twitter username. After seeing this post, she sent me a very sweet missive asking me to mind my own (f-word) business. Sending smiley faces to you @namechanged.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Juan Martin

I rarely watch tennis because I prefer to play. Last night was the men's final at the US Open and while I hadn't planned it, I did watch the match. Juan Martin del Potro played Roger Federer. Del Potro is from Argentina and quite a lovely specimen. Unbelievably del Potro came back from losing the first set and being down in the second set to win.

While watching, I was also twittering and pulling for del Potro. Roger is a great guy and all but come on. He hasn't lost a match in years. So del Potro, in reality the person pretending to be del Potro, started following me on twitter. The real del Potro I found out sadly is @delpo

I ran upstairs to tell my husband. about my new follower. "Del Potro is following me. He's following me," I said.

"He's not really your type," my husband said. "With the facial hair and all."

Honestly, I could overcome my aversion to facial hair with JMDP.

To allay his fears that I might run off with Juan Martin, I said, "You don't have to worry."

He said, "I'm not."

My husband has a thing for those old school girls like Angie Dickinson and Barbara Eden.

So I said, "Hey maybe Angie Dickinson will follow you."

He said, "Isn't she dead?"

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ebb and Flow

Friday was 9/11, always a sad day particularly the closer you live to the City. I ran into my neighbor who was going camping with his little girl. I remarked that the rainy weather was not ideal for camping. He explained that a group of guys and their kids go every year to commemorate friends and loved ones lost on that terrible day.

My son had some homework to do on Friday afternoon. I came in the room and heard him chatting on the phone with one of my friends. He had her on speakerphone and she asked that I take the phone from him. She wanted to speak in private. She was having a miscarriage and wanted my advice.

Her doctor advised going to the ER but she felt that was extreme. Under any circumstances, the ER is a place to avoid. Particularly during something as emotionally difficult as a miscarriage, hanging out in the ER for hours is not ideal.

I suggested trying to find another OB center that had the sophisticated ultrasound equipment her smaller town doctor did not. She did find a smaller ER and was able to get in and out in a few hours versus the many that it usually takes.

My friend had arranged to come visit the next day. I assumed she'd want to cancel but she felt the distraction would be a good thing. So the trip here was still on for Saturday evening. On Saturday afternoon, I had a baby shower for another friend. This friend is having a baby by surrogate. I've never met anyone who's done this before so it was an interesting day.

When I arrived, I actually sat next to the surrogate mom. I was sort of wondering who the lady was in her Laura Ashley conservative dress versus New York hipster moms that made up the rest of the shower attendees. We spoke briefly and I found out that she has two children of her own and this is her second time acting as a surrogate.

Such a strange experience that must be to carry a child for someone else. In fact, the surrogate mom carried twins the first time and then gave them up to another family. The loss I felt after miscarriages and the loss my other friend was experiencing losing this pregnancy, it seems so vivid to me. I can't imagine how you mentally come to terms with bearing a child and then giving that child up for adoption.

At the end of the shower, the mom-to-be was opening all of her gifts. This is Westport so we're talking extravagant gifts--two Tiffany teething rings, endless onesies, toys and books. My friend said at one point, "What the expression? A cacophony of riches?" An embarrassment of riches. That's the saying she was looking for but couldn't find.

The gift that most touched her was a little quilt handmade by the surrogate mom. In one corner, she'd embroidered, "Carried with love, forever in my heart." The mom-to-be broke down in tears.

An embarrassment of riches, it's true. Another very fortunate baby will grow up in Westport, Connecticut. Maybe the surrogate mom feels an embarrassment of riches. Because she can have children, she's decided to carry children for women who can't.

She sat there amongst the glitter and glam in her simple dress, giving what is priceless to my friend. For one friend, a baby is coming. For another, a baby is lost. I remembered the poem Joe Biden read during Friday's 9/11 ceremony.

"Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on."
--Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

New York strikes me as a City of low simmering kindness. It's not overt by any means. My brother tells a story about taking the subway in New York. The first time Clay came to visit me in the City, he decided to take the subway to my apartment in the West Village. He was standing in the middle of a busy station holding a map. According to legend, a young man was running past on his way to work. Without breaking stride, he asked my brother where he was going. "Christopher Street," Clay said. "Take the 1 or 9 downtown," said the New Yorker, and he kept on running.

My husband and I were together in New York for our first Christmas. We were standing in Rockefeller Center, surrounded by the throngs. The sun was going down and the lights were coming up. My husband kissed me under the tree. A woman turned to us at that moment and said, "It's nice to see two people in love." Her accent was unmistakably New York.

Maybe New York could only offer the smallest acts of kindness before September 11th. After all, the City is such a big place with so many people living in so many different circumstances. I have seen kindness seeping through the cracks of her tough veneer. On September 11th, those kind gestures flowed freely.

What to do on this anniversary? I'll say prayers. I'll cry no doubt watching survivors at Ground Zero. I want to find an appropriate, respectful way to mark the day in my own life, now outside the City.

I have decided to be openly grateful for my family today. I'm going to try like hell to be kind to my husband and my son. And when I find myself losing patience with my son for spilling soda or my husband for not putting his dishes in the dishwasher, I'll try to remember what others have lost and wish they could have again.

I am wrestling now with the concept of courage in my daily life. What am I capable of doing in spite of fear? I cannot imagine the courage of standing by a disabled friend unable to make it down the stairs of a burning building. Or being disabled and realizing that to attempt the stairs might prevent others from making it out alive. What must go through the heart of a man at that moment?

Today I hope I can muster the courage to be vulnerable. Let kindness seep through the cracks of my own guarded self.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Bus

I'm reading a bunch of stuff now about New Orleans for this screenplay I've been working on with two friends for longer than any of us can remember. I know Rosey's had two children in the process and Lou Lou adopted Lillian.

Just finished Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around by Cheryl Wagner and moved on to New Orleans, Mon Amour by Andrei Codrescu. First of all, I love Andrei. Second, I love that he writes one and one-half page essays. I mean that's my format. That's my sweet spot only I'm missing some or much of his talent.

Codrescu wrote this essay entitled Two Americas. It's about taking the bus because he doesn't drive. Personally, that is my preference as well. I hate driving especially here in the Northeast where everyone is, pardon my french, un cul. You can figure it out...

The essay begins, "There are two Americas: There is the America that drives, and there is the America that takes the bus. If you watch television, the only America you see is the America that drives. The America that drives lives on the other side of the TV screen from the America that takes the bus."

That's me. That's my life. I'm not taking the bus but I'm here in the only part of Fairfield where buses are a part of life. Fairport we call it. The edge of Fairfield near the city of Bridgeport. Bridgeport is the porta-potty of Fairfield County. There's no other way to put it. There are parts of Bridgeport that are nice. And there are so many other parts that we think, "Wow. I bet that was a lovely home once."

But for the most part, if there's crime in Fairfield County, it's in Bridgeport or was perpetrated by someone in Bridgeport. The thing is here in Fairport, we're just on the edge. Surrounded by really some of the nicest people you could meet, young and old, cool and stodgy, but we are a band of brothers battling petty and not so petty crime.

When you live on the edge, it's sort of a strange place. Like I used to live in Southeast Capitol Hill when DC was the murder capital. I lived in New Orleans when it was the murder capital. Maybe the fact that I'm in town creates a "murder capital" type environment. I don't think I should tell the neighbors.

The first time my Dad visited me in DC, my friend and roommate had just been robbed and beaten. Dad immediately went to the hardware store and installed a new deadbolt, this on top of the metal bars that covered every opening in our apartment. I'm sure he was afraid for me and if I'd had any sense, I would've been too. When you live in the shit, you learn to navigate the shit. When you live on the fringe, it seems okay...until someone gets robbed.

Our neighbors, one my my faves, put up a For Sale sign this week. I think they've had enough between a tacky quasi-commercial property across the street and possibly the news of a stabbing/baseball incident at the Subway about a block from their house.

They moved here from New York with a daughter and a son on the way. No doubt thinking surely Fairfield will be a lovely place to raise a family. Unfortunately, like many of us what they could afford at the time was Fairport. Not quite apple pie, not quite crack den. Somewhere in the middle.

But tonight, I'm looking outside watching typical suburbia. My neighbors are cooking out, spraying the hose and learning to ride a two-wheeler. It doesn't get more apple pie than that. Maybe it's possible here on the fringe to accept the two Americas: the people who drive and the people who take the bus. Or at least learn to live with it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Middle School Blues


My son's first day of middle school. I didn't want him to go. Not in that, "Hey maybe home schooling is not that bad after all" kind of way. I just wasn't ready.

When my son was three, we enrolled him in a Montessori school. He was still little but my husband and I were both working full-time and couldn't take care of him during the day. Let's just say, he was not a willing participant.

Every morning I would drop him off and he would cry and cry. Then I would cry. There's really no worse feeling than walking away from school seeing your little boy crying in the window. Finally my husband started dropping him off because I couldn't take it. Of course, when he dropped him off, Will went happily on his way.


This morning I was starting to tear up thinking about Will going to middle school. My husband would have to take him to the bus stop. Plus I figured it would be totally uncool to have both parents at the bus stop. But I knew I would start crying and that would be way uncool.


I went to two middle schools. The first was Huntington Middle School in San Marino, California. I loved that school. Then mid-way through seventh grade we got the news we were moving again (thanks IBM). My second middle school was Bedford Junior High in Westport, Connecticut.

My friends know the story of my starting at
Bedford. My mother decided to take the train cross-country. Unfortunately, she didn't anticipate the blizzard of '78 and getting stuck in New York. Unfortunately for us kids, my dad was in charge of getting us ready for school. Dad took us to the Army Navy store to buy new clothes. My OP shorts and Vans weren't cutting it in the frozen tundra. Granted there was no Gap back then, but the Army Navy store? Basically my brother and I could've posed for Bowhunter's Quarterly...that's how cool we looked.

So I showed up at
Bedford Middle School in my camo pants and greenish-brownish down jacket. Thankfully, I had the Cali thing going for me - the mystique of the California girl. Then they found out I was really from Texas and said pin instead of pen and tin instead of ten. Teased unmercifully, I finally eliminated any trace of a Southern accent. Mostly what I remember about middle school was sort of this strange balance between utter happiness and naked fear. There was the whiff of sexuality, the stirrings of mischief and the occasional misdemeanor. As the perpetual new kid, I learned pretty quickly how to navigate the water. That's a useful skill for blending in but it's not really helpful when it comes to standing out. I'm learning that now in my forties.

My son Will called out to me, "We need to get going." Then he walked out the back door. Even in fifth grade I gave him a kiss every morning before he got on the bus. They'll be none of that in middle school, I'm sure. As I watched him walking off, I held back tears. Looking at him walking confidently toward his future, I felt sentimental for my little boy. But he's not a little boy anymore. And I have to let him go.