Monday, January 31, 2011

Where on earth did this come from?

Tonight, as she has for the past few weeks Kira is rehearsing for her school's production of Moulin Rouge. Soon she'll spend weekends rehearsing, seven hours a day up until the show's premiere in late February. In between she still seeks out and performs at open mic nights, singing and playing guitar. She has one singular dream, to be a pop star and as she puts it "There is no Plan B because that means you have no faith in your dreams." Cue applause and a Z-snap.

Meanwhile, Kiyomi is preparing to begin rehearsals for her school's production of Tommy. On Tuesdays she takes a dance-intensive class to learn steps for the numbers and just to hone her dancing skills for future shows. She's in love with performing and wants to be on Broadway one day, and already has her monologue ready for when she's a guest on Jimmy Fallon. You know, after she wins the Tony.

As for me, I freak out and break out in a cold sweat if I have to address a audience of more than two people. My most vivid memory of taking piano as a child are the intense, week-long stomach aches I used to get before every recital. In middle school or high school, the idea of performing in public was as absurd as walking naked across the senior lawn, although I do remember a few of us egging on a classmate to do just that during finals week. And just our luck – since he was in drama club he accepted the challenge willingly and got all of us in trouble when he started taking off his clothes as the 5th period bell rang.

People always assume that the girls get their performing bug from me or Rigel, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure Rigel's in a band, but that was something he started as an adult, and his experiences with any type of organized performing as a child are as non-existent as mine. He does remember playing at some parties in high school, but that wasn't so much for the love of the greasepaint as it was for the love of the unlimited access to the kegger being offered in the backyard patio. 

So where do the girls get their career aspirations? I'm thinking there was a mixup at the hospital - I did give birth at a hospital frequented by celebrities, so perhaps some singer/actresses somewhere are actually raising my camera-shy daughters who hate being in front of an audience. Their moms are throwing up their hands because their kids won't perform the duet with them from Miss Saigon, or refuse to enter the talent contest at the local community center. There are tiny sequined gowns going to waste in closets, and their moms go to sleep at night drying their tears with unused pageant applications.

But whatever the case, and as long as my girls want to pursue these pop-star-Broadway-diva dreams, I'm going to support them in any way I can. Even though I might not understand the desire to put yourself on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers for your art, I can understand wanting to follow your dreams and I'm betting I'll be watching them walk up on a stage sometime in the future to accept an award.

Although, I'm getting a stomach ache just thinking about it.

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This post was written as part of my involvement with the Yahoo! Motherboard. Read what other writers have to say about their kids following in their footsteps on the Yahoo! Motherboard page on Shine.

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My Gang Of New York, Part I: It's On

So, in case you missed my Facebook posts, or my Twitter feed or that airplane I rented pulling a banner, I just back from a trip to New York with Rigel and the girls. And, since I'm into this newfangled blogging fad, I'm going to write about here in painstaking detail. Remember a few years ago when I went to Japan and I wrote about it forever and it seemed like the posts would never end, like you were in some bad dream where you couldn't escape someone's neverending vacation slide show? Yeah, like that.

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A couple of weeks before Christmas I was offered a trip to New York for the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, and I came up with the brilliant idea of turning it into a family vacation. We hadn't taken a trip for awhile, and I was eager to visit New York again since the last time I was there was when I was in my twenties. (I said 'In my twenties' not 'during the 1920's' all you smartasses. Although, come to think of it I was driving through Central Park in a Model-T while wearing a flapper hat.)

The hardest part about preapring for the trip was getting everyone clothed. How do you get a family of Angelenos, who are used to 80° weather in the dead of winter, to make a trek into a land where people wear strange things called 'scarves' and 'coats'? I tried to tell Kira and Kiyomi that they would have to pack some warm clothes, and I swear one of them said, "Does that mean anything with sleeves?" Kiyomi was convinced she'd be running around in her usual getup of shorts and tank top except the difference was she'd be wearing socks with her sneakers.

(And get this – they both informed me that they only own ONE PAIR of long pants. I'm not sure how that happened, but I suppose that's what I get for letting teenagers do their own back-to-school shopping. In a related story, I did find nine Lady Gaga t-shirts and sixteen halter tops while I was cleaning their room.)

Then there was my clothing angst. Not only did I have to pick up some warm clothes, but they had to be stylish since I'd be hanging out with some pretty hip client-type-people and blogger chicks, who'd probably frown on my usual cold-weather solution of tucking thermal underwear into a pair of boots and topping it off with a 10-year-old ski parka. Oh, and that Dukes Of Hazzards hat that I got in 1987 probably wouldn't go over very well, either, although if you ask me burlap never goes out of style.

So I did what any normal person would do when faced with a clothing crisis: I bought $40 worth of fashion magazines and dilligently studied their pages for hours trying to find out what the hip 2011 woman was wearing in cold weather. Much like the scientist who might pour over fossils for insight into prehistoric man, I was scrutinizing Vogue for some clues into the correct heel height for the newest winter footwear. Both valid, important endeavors, but I win since my research resulted in a trip to the mall and a cute pair of fur-lined leather boots.

Long story short, after plunging ourselves into debt with numerous trips to Macy's, Forever 21, Tilly's, Urban Outfitters, DSW, Sports Chalet, Victoria's Secret (I needed a warm bra) and Rite Aid (everyone needed new lipgloss) we were finally off to New York! Although, after all of our foraging and scouring and researching in the name of fashion – the items that ended up being the most coveted were these, bought off the street in Times Square for $20:

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Next Up: My Gang Of New York, Part II: Really Touristy Photos With Clever Captions

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Friday, January 07, 2011


Here's yet another re-posting of one of my pieces from the LA Moms Blog. Because I wanted the first post of the New Year to be a tired, old retread. Aiming high for 2011!

I was picking up my kids from school the other day, and when they got in the car my 11-year-old launched into a story about a classmate who said that his parents would be really upset that he got a 'B' on his report card. Without thinking I responded, “Well, aren’t you grateful we aren’t like that?” Naturally, I followed this up with a lecture about having to walk fifty miles through a hurricane to get to work and then a short summation of my time as an overworked child in a rug factory in India.

You’ve heard this before -- parents using other people’s misfortune to instill gratitude in their kids. The ones that say, “Hey, eat your peas — there are kids starving in other zip codes,” or “Sure you don’t like those generic jeans, but how’d you like it if all you had to wear was polyester?”

Unfortunately I find myself doing this a lot lately. Parenting is a competitive sport, and I’ve become expert at using my opponents’ “weaknesses” to bolster my standing with my daughters. When my 13-year-old told me about her friend being grounded for not cleaning her room, I wagged my finger and told her how grateful she should be that her dad and I had a high tolerance for filth. Then recently I couldn’t wait to share with both of my girls the rigorous chore schedule I found out a friend had laid out for her two sons. That was of course punctuated with, “Maybe now you won’t complain so much about having to unload the dishwasher.” I made sure to have my hands on my hips for that one.

It’s gotten so bad that I’m thinking of renting a horror film I remember seeing, one where the parents use spells to turn their unruly children into farm animals. I think I’ll get extra satisfaction from announcing over the closing credits, “I hope you now realize that having your allowance withheld is nothing compared to being turned into a goat.” I imagine they’ll put down the pillow they’ve been cowering behind and immediately begin folding that pile of laundry that had been sitting on the couch for two weeks.

But kids being the crafty creatures they are, they’ve managed to turn the tables on me. They were watching a show on TV the other night, “Secret Life of an American Gossip Girl” or something like that, and the 11-year-old yelled out to me, “Well mom, my room might look like a pigsty but at least I’m not pregnant and having an affair with my gym teacher.” As miffed as I was that she had stolen my technique, I had to admit she was right. I was suddenly filled with an immense feeling of gratitude and got to work hanging up the pile of clothes covering her bed.

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