Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Again????

I'm exhausted. "Everybody is, it's the holidays," you say. Is everybody hearing jingle bells and ambulance sirens? I am! I've got a hubby home from the hospital who scares me on an hourly basis by one minute seeming fine and trying to push the limits of recovery time by asking me questions like, "Do you think I can drive with a neck brace," or "Are my feet supposed to be numb?" Not to mention refusing to take the pain meds the doctor ordered because taking them would be a sign that he's not getting better. Refusing to take pain meds! I want some pain meds. I wish someone would prescribe them for me! On top of that, I'm putting the finishing touches on a holiday script I wrote a while back that will see the light of day live on Christmas Eve - not to mention all the folks eyeballing it from home while they kiss under egg nog and drink mistletoe. No, that's backwards. And I think mistletoe is poisonous you so don't drink it. I'm on holiday overload. I've baked because despite the fact that our home has been turned into a hospital unit - although I feel it's more like a mental ward and I'm serving as Nurse Ratched -an inside joke for anyone who loves One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - I want my children to not miss out on Christmas entirely. So I've been baking. Hourly. Maybe that's because I don't have any meds like my husband does, that he refuses to take. Chocolate chip cookies and red velvet cake with more peppermint and candy canes added to them than are legal in most states. I've taken my girls to see holiday lights and skate on what was supposed to be an old-time ice rink in Burbank. It's nice, but they can't really hide the fact that it's a city parking lot. Kinda kills the Dickensian feel. I think I've seen over 20 holiday performances in the last several months and if anyone mentions watching It's a Wonderful Life to me one more time I think I may hurt them. Happy Holidays! Talk at you in January!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Real Test of a Marriage

Some people say that financial difficulties test a marriage. Others, talk about how babies (and the children and teens they grow into) can strain a marriage. Illness, death, work stress, those can pull at the bonds of matrimony and push even the most loving and devoted of couples into divorce court. But I now know the real test of a strong marriage. It has nothing to do with how much debt you do or don't have. Babies/kids/teens might test you, but they grow up and go away in 18 years. Your health, even the death of those close to you, or the constant stress that often comes with the job - those things are tough to weather as a couple, but still doable. No! The real test is living 27 days in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California in the middle of the summer with a broken air conditioner. After this long in the sweltering heat, I'm surprised we're still married. Hell, I'm shocked we haven't killed each other and used our carcasses to construct makeshift shelters as shade from the sun. David insists we sit in the dark (because you know how much heat light bulb puts out) in order to keep it cooler in the house. The shades are drawn but the windows are open. Which seems counter productive, and I'm sure it is. But I've stopped arguing with him over cooling strategies. That might break us. Our goal is to keep calm, keep cool and ride this out. The first few weeks were tough. We were mad, we were worried. There was a lot of barking around here and none of it came from the dog. There were four cranky humans (and a rescue dog wondering if maybe she had been better off in the streets) with tempers that were rising as quickly as the thermostat. But then something odd happened. We got used to it, realized it was hot and that all the arguing and grumpiness was because we were miserable and hot, and then we stopped arguing. It's still hot, but at least we're not bitching about it. My kids actually think this is a grand adventure! My idea of adventure is lounging by a pool with misters on and an open bar tab. But my girls, this living in a house that's hotter than hell and doesn't cool down even when it's nighttime...they think that's fun. Why? Because long after the age where they should be in their own beds at night, we have all taken refuge in the master bedroom, some on the bed, some camped out on the floor, with the only fan in the house blowing air directly on us all night long. We take cold showers. We eat cold meals. We savor ice cream. We chug ice water. Anything we can think of to bring the temps down. It’s like boot camp in hell…only with groceries to buy, laundry to do and dinner to cook. This no air conditioner thing has also done wonders for stimulating conversation. Who says married people have nothing to talk about anymore except their kids? We are constantly talking now. Trying to figure out whose pool we can invite ourselves over to has become a wonderful topic of conversation. Ditto, which malls, movie theaters, and restaurants have the coldest air conditioning. Last weekend, we even thought about taking a spur of the moment drive up the coast to Santa Barbara. Not because Santa Barbara is fabulous - which it is - but because it would have meant three hours round trip in the car - where the air conditioning is working. They say if you and your spouse can weather - pun intended - difficult situations, it makes you stronger for it. And I think we've come through this pretty well so far. I joked with David the other day that I was going to start up an affair with an air conditioning salesman. Without missing a beat he said, "Good, do you think he'll give us a discount on a portable unit until our system is fixed?" I don't know if we can get a discount, but at this rate, it might be worth a shot. Honestly, all I really want right now is not a cold glass of water, or imposing on friends to suck up their cool air and/or pool, or even a hunky, or not so hunky air conditioner salesman. I just want the darn electrician to agree with the darn access guy, to agree with the darn home warrantee company that something needs to happen to fix our air conditioning unit now. And when it's fixed, I have no doubt the record heat we're having will end. It always works that way.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Scream Heard Round the Block

Last day of school! Last day of school! Last day of school! Could not have come soon enough. Just in time for kids about to overload from academic pressure. Just in time for parents about to overload from serving as both chauffeurs and ATMS. Just in time for teachers about to overload from students, parents, and administrators. Just in time for national donut day. Because we need a day for that! I was waiting in the car on the street when the last bell of the day rang at my daughter's middle school. There was a scream. A collective scream. It was so long and so loud that I was afraid glass would shatter. I wanted to scream, too. Last day of school. It couldn't come soon enough. Now the pace will change. We can relax a bit. Maybe even do something silly or stupid or both. It will be a long summer, just long enough so that come the second week in August, we will be not only ready, but eager to ship the munchkins back to class. But until then...summer fun! Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Antisocial Media

My 12-year old daughter got mad yesterday when she discovered that an older girl she knows stopped following her on Instagram.  Outraged, she vowed that as retaliation, she was going to stop following the older girl in return.  I realized that this antisocial social media was about to turn ugly and suggested that the point was to express yourself and not worry about who wanted to "follow" you.  Both my children looked at me like I was nuts.  "It's ALL about how many followers you have, mom!"  What do I my mind people follow you if you are a cult leader, have a scout troop, or are a yellow brick road.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Puppy Politics

The Los Angeles mayoral election is on Tuesday. I have yet to make a final decision based on a thorough evaluation of each candidate’s record and position on a myriad of important issues facing the city. However my opinion is being swayed by an informal survey we’ve been taking in our house and based on that, Wendy Greuel is in trouble. In our survey, we take the annoying cardstock political mailers that have been clogging up our mailbox for the last few weeks and put them on the floor by the front door before we leave for work each day. Our dog, Franny, an adorable, but amusingly destructive terrier with abandonment and anger management issues, has taken to selectively destroying the mailers. Based on what is done to each candidate’s mailer, we determine how much our dog likes or dislikes the politician and their record. Eric Garcetti was on the floor for 3 days before our dog chewed off his corners. Kevin James was shredded after a day, along with Jan Perry, who received some similar biting. Wendy Greuel was left alone for a week. We thought, based on our survey, that she was the winner until Friday afternoon when I came home to find that not only had she been shredded into hundreds of tiny little pieces, but after a careful sniff, we suspect our dog relieved herself on the mailer as well. Not a good sign. I don’t know what Wendy Greuel did to enrage my dog. I can guess that maybe it had something to do with the city trees in our neighborhood, the district Greuel used to represent. The trees were scheduled to be cut only once every 50 years. Let me repeat…EVERY 50 YEARS! But we had branches falling all the time, damaging cars, destroying lawn furniture and eventually, falling and narrowly missing my then toddler who was playing in the yard. I called Wendy Greuel’s office repeatedly to see what could be done about getting the trees trimmed but was constantly transferred from on assistant to the next. I finally went to the source, spotting a city crew working down the block on some other trees. I told the supervisor about the near miss with the city tree limb nearly taking the life of my first born and he agreed to send a few of his crew down to trim the trees on our block years before they were due for their 50 year haircut. Dogs like trees, but not ones that fall on you. Sorry Wendy, but I suspect my dog was voting with her teeth. I haven’t yet decided who I am going to vote for to be mayor of Los Angeles. But based on our canine survey, Wendy, it doesn’t look good.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Twenty Tiny Coffins

Yesterday marked one month since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. After listening to all the coverage and the comments by the parents of the twenty slain children, I asked my nine year old Natalie if she was worried about security at her school. She didn’t bother to look up from a rerun of Gravity Falls on t.v. as she waved off my question and said, “Don’t worry, mom, I think Mr. Martinez has it handled.” Mr. Martinez is her principal, and yes, I think he does. I’m glad she thinks so, too. But I wanted to find out more about what made her feel safe at school, so I brought the question up again later. She looked at me as if she thought I’d developed early Alzheimer’s and repeated her early comment about her principal, this time talking louder on the off chance I just hadn’t heard her the first time. “Yes, that’s what you said before,” wanting to reassure her that neither my hearing nor memory were defective. “But why?” She rolled her eyes. I get a lot of that at my house these days. Eye rolling and requests for money. I used to kid myself that it was only a phase that would end once they graduated college until I caught myself over the holidays doing basically the same thing to my own father, rolling my eyes at his comment and secretly hoping he'd offer to pay for the very expensive meal we'd all just consumed. But I digress. What made her feel safe? She launched into a scenario of what would happen if a “bad guy” came to her school. “My teacher, since she’s the nicest person in the world, would try to reason with the bad guy,” she said, “She’d convince him to put his weapon down." Then she went on to describe how the science teacher would throw chemicals at him, the music teacher would sing a note so high that his head would explode, and she reminded me that the maintenance man “… has a baseball bat, a signed baseball bat.” She felt the signed part was very important and surely would make a difference. She went on to describe how one of the fifth grade teachers, a woman who used to be in the military, would beat him up, and how another - whose bark often overshadows his skillful teaching – would go on one of his tirades and scare the bad guy off. Then I asked her about the front office, and one staff member with a reputation for gruffness who has to put up with more stuff from the parents than most on campus. “Oh her," Natalie said, "She’s probably packing!” I didn’t even know my kid knew the term “packing,” let alone how to use it. And on second thought, if anyone would be packing, it would probably be this woman and I wouldn’t blame her. I laughed and smiled when I watched my daughter explain with great certainty how her school staff would keep her safe, endowing them with almost superhero qualities. She trusted them, as we trust them, with her life. That’s asking a lot more of them than teaching reading, writing, and enough math to get them through to middle school. That didn’t hit me until the tragedy in Connecticut - until I saw the twenty tiny coffins of the victims. Twenty children, six educators lost. I grew up in Connecticut, in a town fairly similar and not too far from Newtown. My father still works in the schools there. Now what happened there is not far from my mind every morning when I drop my kids off at school. We entrust the teachers with the lives of our children…pro ball players get fifteen million a year, some actors get twenty million a film, teachers get…not that much…certainly not enough to justify asking them to take up arms, real or imagined, to protect our kids. Isn’t asking them to teach enough? Maybe Natalie was right, they're superhuman after all. Visit

Friday, January 4, 2013


So I decide that 2013 is the year to get healthy again. I'd already returned to doing yoga and started running every week with an athletic neighbor who'd already tackled a triathlon and was kind enough to slow down and let me run along side her for a couple of miles while she trains. Yeah, so 2013 I decide to get healthy again - like I was in my 20s, hiking and swimming and running 1/2 marathons. I decide to get healthy; my daughters decide to start a business making homemade ice cream. Now my refrigerator is filled with more heavy whipping cream than anyone should purchase at one time and ingredients like mints and chocolate bits and caramel are stacked to the ceiling of the pantry. The girls are creating ice cream flavor names like "Sassy Cinnamon" and "Heavenly Hazelnut" and tasting each batch as it comes out of the freezer. Of course, insisting that I, as the major (only) investor in their business, taste each flavor as well. The only good part about their new enterprise? It forces them to clean the dishes - a lot! Yup, I vow to get healthy, my kids turn into Ben & Jerry. Figures.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

The Mayans threw a doomsday party but nobody came. A fiscal cliff was diverted. And I finally got out to see a movie which didn't feature animated characters, need to be viewed in 3D, or have a median audience age of 8. If that's how I'm ending 2012, 2013 is gonna be great. Happy New Year!