Thursday, June 28, 2007

Maybe This is Where The Term "Feather Brained" Comes From

A couple of weeks ago I was making one of my exciting forays to the grocery store and decided to buy one of those mammoth Valu-Paks of chicken breasts, the ones that come on a styrofoam tray that's so huge you can use it for a boogie board after you're done. They were on sale, and I was so excited I spent the rest of my supermarket outing daydreaming of all the creative ways I'd be using that bounty of chicken over the next few years - chicken stew, chicken enchiladas, chicken tikka. By the time I was done with that chicken my kids would be on their way to college and Rigel and I could get back to eating fast food everynight like normal people do.

The next day I hopped in my van to run some errands and noticed an odd smell, which isn't unusual considering the girls have a small farm of forgotten and discarded Frappuccinos and Jamba Juices growing in the backseat. But this one was worse, sort of...chickeny. I'm sure you can guess where this is going.

Somehow my coveted Valu-Pak had managed to get left behind in the back of the van when I unloaded the car the day before. And with everything else going on I hadn't noticed that it wasn't there when I was putting away the groceries. And no, I didn't even consider for one minute trying to fry up that putrid mass and serve it to my family for dinner that night. Okay, maybe only for a minute.

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident, but things like this seem to be happening more frequently. The other day I was at Barnes&Noble with the kids, and was so concerned with finding their manga books and sucking down the last of my cappuccino that I wandered off and left my purse, wide open, on a chair for around fifteen minutes. Then there's the forgetting of my PIN number (in my defense it was a bank issued number, but still one that I'd had for awhile) and numerous incidents where I have to make Rigel drive back to the house because I can't remember if I turned the stove/cappuccino machine/curling iron off. If this keeps up I'm going to be one of those mothers you hear about on the news that leaves her kids in the gas station restroom and doesn't realize it until she goes to sign them up for swim lessons three months later.

A friend of mine once theorized that we only have so many slots in our brains for information, and the more things we have going on in our lives (e.g., kids, and then there's kids) the faster those slots fill up. Once they're all filled, the only way to take in any more data is for some other piece of information to be deleted. So, while figuring out how to work the Wii and memorizing the sales dates at Bloomingdales may be important, it could cause other more vital information to be pushed out, like the fact that you have twenty pounds of poultry rotting in the back of your van.

I've decided that the only way to get back on track is to try and delete some of the less important information that's taking up valuable space in my obviously crowded frontal lobe. Sort of like clearing my hard drive off all my unnecessary files, like invoices from ten years ago and those 20mb jpegs of Jake Gyllenhaal half naked. So, I'm going to try really hard to forget Paris Hilton ever existed and attempt to wipe the words to Disco Inferno (Burn, baby burn!) out of my head. Maybe then I'll remember where I put that twenty-dollar bill that I swore I stuffed in my makeup bag.

I'll let you know how my little experiment is going. In the meantime, if I have you over for dinner, don't eat the chicken.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Next Week's Summer Activity For The Kiddies? Physics!

Summer vacation officially starts today. I've written before about my girls' aversion to organized summer activities - summer camps, drama classes, craft workshops and their ilk. Add to that my poor organizational skills and it makes for one long summer, endless days where the highlight may be the occasional journey to a warehouse store for crates of toilet paper or the exciting trip to the dry cleaners to pick up pants. This summer was no different - except for a few short weekend trips and some plans revolving around our out-of-town guests we had nothing planned. I was getting ready to clear out the shelves and polish up my Costco card for the exciting ten weeks ahead.

But somehow my conscience got the best of me, and I decided to take a friend's lead and sign the girls up for a class. The guilt was too much, and I couldn't get the image out of my head of the two of them as adults, sitting in a maximum security prison and Stone Phillips' voiceover saying, "Perhaps a pottery class could have kept these two out of trouble in that fateful summer of 2007."

My friend and I decided to sign our girls up for a songwriting class. Her two daughters are the sisters that Kira and Kiyomi have formed their band with, the band that so far has produced no music but has gone through two name changes, a dozen logo variations and three in-band fights. They're hoping to open for Green Day by the fall, so they've been thinking it might be a good idea to start acquiring some musical skills, now that they recently completed their most important task - designing all their touring outfits.

The course is being given through a popular arts center not far from here. My friend warned me that the classes are first-rate but the registration process could be a little hellish, what with every alpha mom within thirty miles fighting to get their kid into painting, baroque chanting or Peruvian cloth weaving. And when I arrived there last Saturday morning and saw the huge line snaking out of the registration office, I had the urge to bolt and just sign the girls up for that online bead-stringing class like I was planning to do in the first place.

I noticed everyone jockeying for position in front of a serious-looking woman with a clipboard who was judiciously handing out numbers to avoid anyone cutting in line. Why, it was as if that shrew had read my mind! Every couple of minutes a class number would be posted on an easel board indicating that it had just filled up, and a frantic murmur would run through the crowd. "129a's closed! That was Batik 101!" "285T! Someone just took the last spot in Advanced Tile for preschoolers!" This would be followed by gasps and anguished cries and then the sight of parents hurling themselves off the balcony as they realized that little Dakota's chance at being the next David Hockney had suddenly vaporized.

I looked down at my number: 135. I tried not to panic.

The woman behind me in line was fretting about not getting her three-year-old into his pottery class. It got me thinking how this whole scene was such a product of our current times, the whole über-parenting thing, the age of Baby Einstein and Baby Mozart and times-table flashcards for fetuses. Were we really ruining our kids chances for a bright future if they didn't get a jump on their fingerpainting now? I don't ever remember my parents standing in line for two hours to secure me a place in an art class, and I certainly didn't have any extra-curricular activities before I was five. I can't possibly imagine what you could teach a three-year-old in a pottery class, anyways, except for, "This is clay. Don't eat it."

But there was no chance in hell I was getting out of line, so I waited, and tried not to get too anxious as more classes filled up. My friend, who had gotten there two hours ahead of me finally made it up to the desk, got her two girls into the class and then reported back to me that it looked like there were still several spaces left. But there were 40 people in front of me in line, and for a few minutes I seriously considered passing out my stash of poisoned mints to prevent any of them from taking those coveted spots.

When I got to the front desk some 1-1/2 hours later and the woman informed me that I had gotten the last two spots in the class, I couldn't help but feel victorious. Who wouldn't, when they had single-handedly ensured their children's artistic future with just a sixty-dollar registration fee? I felt good, damnit, and thought there may be something to the whole über-parenting thing after all. And as I left, clutching my receipt for class #457T in my sweaty palms, I stopped to pick up a flyer for Banjo Camp, 2008. Julliard, here we come!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


...with pride. My little girl graduated from elementary school today. She gave a commencement speech in front of three-hundred people. Received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, and a letter from the President. (Had to explain to both girls that it's still okay not to like him.) Maintained a 4.0 average all through her elementary years. Just accepted into the Honors Program at our local middle school.

I hate to brag, but sometimes you just have to.

Congratulations, Kira! I love you more than I can say.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fade To Black? How Bout I Kick Your Ass?

A few years ago Rigel brought home a John Sayles movie, Limbo, for the two of us to watch. We'd liked a few of his previous ones - Lone Star and City of Hope - so we thought this one sounded interesting. Three people marooned on a desert island! One of them is David Strathairn! If that doesn't sound like pure entertainment I don't know what is.

I can't really put into words how awful this movie was, but let me just say - Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio sings. I'm not sure why we continued to watch, but it was when the kids were small and I think we were so exhausted it would have taken more energy to get up and turn off the TV than it did to just sit there and subject ourselves to the crappiness of it all.

(Okay, now I'm going to give away the ending, but only because under no circumstances should you ever have this movie in your home. Unless John Sayles delivers it to your house personally, in which case you should just grab the DVD from him and then beat him about the head with it.)

I'd describe this move as being similar to Gilligan's Island in plot, but not nearly as believable and not done nearly as well. Several times during the movie you're lead to believe they're being rescued, but then they're not. So towards the end, when you hear the sound of an airplane in the distance and then see it rise over a mountain you're thinking, "Cool. This piece of crap movie is over."

But then the screen just goes black.

And that's when I lost it. I started yelling at the TV. I had just wasted two hours of my life, only to be left with a completely unresolved ending? I was threatening to drive to John Sayles' house, set the video on fire in front of him, and then kick his ass. I remember Rigel desperately trying to hide my car keys.

In order to validate my rage I ran to my computer and looked up the movie, and the first review I read, and I swear this is true, was from a guy who said when the screen went to black his wife was so angry she started hitting him over the head with a newspaper.

Of course, this brings me to the season finale of The Sopranos. Did any of you see it? Did anyone else want to drive to David Chases' house and kick his ass? Who's with me?

I appreciate a sophisticated plot, a clever ending. I'm not some neophyte, spending all my time watching The CW. I wasn't expecting some Hallmark moment with a neat, tidy ending. But this finale wasn't arty, or intriguing or enlightening. It was a cop-out, and a letdown after watching seven seasons of this show, which felt like twenty since weren't there like two years between each season for chrissakes?

I felt like David Chase was giving me the finger.

And now I'm going to kick his ass, too.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Self-Promotion Is The New Black

My apologies if I haven't visited your blog in awhile, or left one of my rambling comments, or haven't dropped you an email complaining about how your sidebar isn't centered. I've been pretty busy, and this is the reason:

I'm one of the bloggers on FameCrawler, the new celebrity gossip site on It's tons of fun, but I've spent so much time trolling celebrity and gossip websites that I've shaved my head, stopped wearing panties and drink until I pass out in my car.

(But I'm going to lock myself in my office this weekend, catch up on all my blog reading and then send all of you gift baskets to make up for it.)

So come by and visit, and read some of my posts. You might learn something new about David Hasselhoff, or get an advance look at Tom Cruise's next child, or see why Jennifer Aniston bought a stuffed animal that cost as much as my dishwasher. Aren't you just a little curious?


Then, if you're still not sick of me, hop on over to my other blog, Views From The Pants, where I write about school cafeterias. You'll see why, while most people think of them as black holes of empty carbs and sugary evils, I think they could really be the Fountain Of Youth.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

The L.A. Blogger Party: We Laughed, We Cried, We Hugged Awkwardly.

Saturday night was the big L.A. Blogger Party organized by L.A. Daddy. Rigel was brave enough to accompany me, and was happy to see there were some non-bloggers there to commiserate with. I think they formed their very own focus group there called, "What's The Big Goddamned Deal About Blogging Anyways?" I could see them all over in the corner, knocking back beers and pounding their fists on the table.

Seeing as I've never been to BlogHer, this was my first official blogger-meetup and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Would it be like a regular party, except with people calling each other by their URLs instead of their names and speaking in HTML code? Would it be like a playdate, except with drunk grownups and better food?

Well, it was a little of both. After three margaritas, here's what I remember:

L.A. Daddy giving me excellent tech advice ("Blogger is evil! Get out now!") and some highly illegal-sounding search-engine tips that will probably land him in Folsom in a few years. Don't worry Tim - we'll bake you a cake with a laptop inside so you can blog from the big house.

L.A. Mommy holding court in the kitchen. L.A. Daddy's getting most of the props for the party, but we all know that if there's more than a kegger and a bowl of M&Ms being served, there had to be a woman involved.

• Dishing on growing up in the 'hood with Stefanie of Baby On Bored. And then squealing like schoolgirls as we reminisced about Chemin de Fer jeans, jumpsuits and Kork-Ease platforms. We're going to get together soon and braid each other's hair.

• Talking about religion with Kevin Charnas, his partner, Will and LeahPeah. In between Hail Marys I gave Kevin grief about appearing so much more subdued than he does on his blog. I'm still convinced he had on a latex onesie underneath that sensible jacket. And Kevin and I both couldn't believe Leah was old enough to have an 18-year old, and figured she was holding back on some top-secret NASA anti-aging cream. I'm going to steal her moisturizer the next time I see her.

• Having an animated discussion with Whit and his wife, of Honea Express, Kim (House of Prince) and Jane (By Jane) about how to spend your time if you found out you only had an hour to live. Whit said he would "have sex for at least two minutes and then sleep for 45." The rest of us spent the remaining time trying to add 2 plus 45 and subtract it from 60 to find out how much time he had left to cuddle.

• A brief conversation with Rachel of Kitchen Fire. We chatted right next to the food table, and I think she could tell I was devising ways to stuff the rest of the cheese plate and a whole salami in my purse.

• Bumping into Down With Pants as we were both reaching for the hummus. I calmed down when I realized it was just the name of his blog and not a personal affront to me. He was big guy, but I was planning to tie his shoelaces together and run.

• Taking a picture with Suebob's Red Stapler. And I have to say, that stapler is mighty impressive in person. (Suebob, It was great meeting you, but holy crap woman could you make my arm look any bigger in that picture?)

I'm sorry if I left anybody out, but tequila will do that to you. Rigel caught me talking to the microwave ("You're hot. What's your URL?") so you get the picture.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

For Will.

Around a year ago my good friend Alex sent me a link to a blog. It was written by a friend of hers, a father who was chronicling the life of his then two-year-old son Will, who had been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (NB) when he was seven-months old. While it was heartbreaking to read, I was immediately struck by how Will's father Patrick wrote with such clarity and eloquence about his son's fight with this devastating disease. Will Lacey is one of the few blogs I read everyday.

Since reading that first post I've followed Will's story through his various treatments, setbacks and agonizing waits for test results. Will's parents have been told there is no cure for his cancer.

I can't begin to imagine what Will and his family are going through. But I do know that reading Patrick's stories always make me want to hold my kids a little closer and enjoy them a little fuller. While Will's struggle is the overriding theme of the site, we also get a glimpse into the everyday life of a curious, rambunctious three-year old. Above all, Will's bravery and his parents' determination to find a cure are an inspiration to me everyday.

When I thought of nominating the post Insurmountable for a Perfect Post Award, I wanted to check with Patrick first. I felt almost embarrassed, that the award was maybe too irrelevant in the face of the serious struggles chronicled on Will's blog everyday. Would he even want his story mentioned on my site, next to trivial posts about schoolyard arguments and parental neuroses? But Patrick responded gracefully and said "...share the pain, spread the love" and felt that it was important for people to understand how horrible this disease really is.

"This is NB. This is what we all live in fear of. This is why we want a cure. This is why funds that are given for kids should be spent on kids. This is why I don't sleep. This is why I have nightmares. This is why I meditate. This is why I'll never be the same. This is why I have to believe there is a cure for Will. This is why I love people that I have never met, have never spoken to, and will never meet. This is why my heart breaks. This is why I created this website to keep from going insane. This is why I can never give up on Will."

This Perfect Post is for Patrick's impassioned writing that seeks to help us understand the struggle the children and the families affected by Neuroblastoma are faced with every minute of every day. But most of all, this is for the boy who is brave in the face of it all.

This is for Will.

A Perfect Post – May 2007


Please read the entire text of Insurmountable and the rest of Will's story here.

You can see other Perfect Post nominees here and here.

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