Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No more drama, drama, drama

So I've been dealing with even more issues - nothing unmanageable, but yet just more, you know? Apparently, there is no such thing as a full plate. But I really wanted to post something lighter, something that didn't bring us to the dark depths of our souls. What better, really, than an American Idol recap? (If you don't watch American Idol, still scroll down to see the cool image I posted. It should make you smile!)

Ken Levine does this much better. (He's linked over there on the left - By Ken Levine - this is a quick and dirty post.) But what the heck?

Jason - Okay, I know he's a joke to many people. I get the joke. I still usually like him. This week, however, his flaws were not as likeable as I usually find them. I think I'm just over it.

David Cook - my favorite (which means, of course, that he won't win).

Brooke - usually, a fine singer, but when she opens her mouth to speak, she bugs the crap out of me. Like the other week, when she was in the bottom two and was all, oh no, it won't be the other girl (can't remember who now; I think Kristie Lee Cook...whom I also disliked). Shut up! You know you want it to be her! And when it came to the whole starting over thing, I was totally with Paula. You don't start over. You work through it. That's one of the challenges (and joys) of live performance. This week, I got through about 8 bars of her first song, and then was grateful for my DVR and the ability to skip through her. The second song wasn't as bad. I just can't get over my dislike of her as a person. (I know, I'm being mean. She's really nice. Yeah. Whatever.)

David Archuleta - does this kid have a career in Christian music or what? I'm not sure who's managing all his song choices, but they're doing an excellent job. He will go on to have a long-lasting career. And he could very well win the competition.

Syesha - I found it interesting that Simon said she was in trouble more than Jason. If it were based on talent, she'll last tonight. But Jason does have a very huge following that could keep him in another week.

I don't actually vote, mind you. It seems whenever I have in the past, my person gets voted off that same week. So really, I consider it a favor to my favorites if I just remain passive.

As for Paula's faux pas last night, I just found the whole thing amusing. I've heard them say a few times before that it was better or worse than their dress rehearsal, so it's not all that outrageous to me that she had an opinion of something that the viewing audience hadn't seen yet, but it was still kind of fun to watch them squirm!

And my other attempt at being light isn't really mine. I stole this graphic from DAVID DUST:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Confessional

Okay, it's not like I don't normally wear my heart on my sleeve - either here on my blog or in real life - but Karen C's post today has inspired me to do so even more. Scared yet? Oh, you should be!

So last night, I had a thought as I was heading off to bed that jarred me more than I thought it had. I couldn't sleep for at least 2 hours after having that thought, as much as I tried to pretend that I'd dismissed it off to the land of denial.

The thought: I've lost all my ambition. I have no goals outside of just holding onto what I got.

Now, this is not something that just disappeared overnight. After getting my college degree, and taking 1/2 a year off, I decided to go back to school to get my paralegal certificate. I went for 2 semesters, but then I just couldn't do it anymore. I was having a harder time finding classes that would fit with my schedule, I was a bit frustrated in the "old school" setting which confined us to multiple-choice questions and lectures without conversation, and most importantly, I knew that Sylvia was going to be going to KIPP, and I knew that she'd need as much support from me as possible, and I didn't want to be away from her on a regular basis.

I thought about making a move anyway from my current job, which is nice and steady, but doesn't offer as many challenges after 5 years as it did in the beginning or chances for a promotion without a paralegal certificate (or law degree; yeah, that's going to happen while raising 2 kids solo! Not to mention the cost - I still have 11 1/2 years left on my college student loans). However, I have a really great situation. I have bosses and co-workers that completely understand and support that, as a single mom, my kids come first. They're just good people. Also, I get good perks and benefits at my particular company. I decided that the pros definitely outweighed the cons, and I still believe that.

And there's this whole condo thing going on; it seems hard enough to hold on to what I have, why try and reach out for what I don't?

I try to tell myself that, even at 35, I have time for a 'second life' of sorts when my kids are older and off living their own lives. That to attempt anything new or additional to what I currently have would be too much and would upset the balance. That I would miss out on some of the wonders of watching them grow.

And yet, I remain feeling...unfulfilled.

My dreams were huge when I was a kid. They seem to just get smaller and smaller in scope. And to a certain extent, I know that's okay and even healthy and normal. But at what point does it become unhealthy? At what point does it become not only bad for me, but bad for my kids? What if I'm trying too hard to hold onto things that maybe aren't even the right things in the first place?

I almost started crying today at Riley's school. (She didn't sing, btw. She had the date wrong; it's not until May. Oh well; she is seven, after all!) I watched her waiting patiently for her turn on the basketball court. She'd gabbed with friends, waved hello to various people, teachers and staff members smiled at the sight of her. She seems so happy there. I almost cried at the thought of her possibly losing this and having to start yet another new school next fall. (But I kept it together.)

And...and here's the big confession...I'm getting a little sick of being alone. I know I've never talked about dating, etc., here...that's because there's nothing to talk about! And I have thought about it, and even attempted it a few times. Nothing's worked out, and I don't expect anything to change in that arena any time soon. I've thought about online dating (and have even made some half-baked attempts) and the like, but then I think about the actual work involved in getting someone to watch the kids, attempting to be charming, worrying about all my faults and baggage...and then it gets even worse when I think about if I actually hit it off with someone! I mean, they'll have their needs and crap...I don't need to worry about caring for any more humans right now, thank you very much (or cats or dogs or fish, for that matter). So I know all that, I really do. Still doesn't stop me from feeling alone every now and then.

So it all comes down to this. I think I need to get back into therapy.

Postscript: this is not a cry for help, sympathy, or pity. I've debated and debated with myself whether or not to post this, but I decided in the end that it was worth it for the sake of saying it. Also, there's no one around to stop me :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

First some housekeeping. I've updated my page so that every blog in my Reader is on my blog roll. If you're on there, you can be sure that I'm a regular reader of yours, even if I don't always comment. If I don't comment, there are a few possible reasons why:
1) You left me speechless (yes, believe it or not, that does happen).
2) I was in the middle of writing a fabulous comment, and my browser shut down. That kind of prose can't be recreated.
3) I was in the middle of a so-so comment, and my browser shut down. That kind of comment doesn't deserve to be recreated.
4) I was at work and had to WORK. (HATE when that happens :)
5) I was at home and those darn kids needed me.

There's also a possibility that you'll check your stats and see that someone in Los Angeles sat on your page for hours. Um, yeah, that's me. I was in the middle of reading your great post, and my bosses needed me (which includes the kids as well), but I didn't want to lose your post so I kept it open to come back to later. Did I succeed? Not always...but I tried. (Either that or something shiny distracted me.)

There could also be times when your reader stats may have more than the average visitors from L.A. Don't get too excited - it may not be Steven Spielberg after all. It may be that I emailed the link to some friends because I thought they'd enjoy that particular post. And they won't comment. They're not into the blog-o-sphere. (Now, if I send it to Kori, you can be sure she'll comment!)

If you're not a regular reader, and you comment, but then don't see any comments from me in return for a few days, life interfered. But when I have a second, I'll go over and check it out. I promise!

Okay, enough with the excuses already! And now, back to my regular posting:

First, you guys rock! Reading your comments of encouragement, support, and empathy have meant the world to me, and is giving me much strength to get through this. And alcohol. The alcohol's helping, too (in responsible doses - for the most part). Thank you all.

I do have the seeds of Plans C & D in my head right now, but I've also decided (with permission from my regular validators) to just take a break from the whole home-hunting search right now. There may be more condos in my complex that become available after Cal State L.A.'s Spring quarter is complete and that would be my first choice (well, third, but who's counting). I don't want to start looking outside of the complex until we're closer to summertime anyway because I don't want to move during the school year. So for now, my denial is scheduled to last through the end of April - and maybe even longer.

My cat attacked me! Stupid brat! Yes, I totally love her, but the obnoxious puss scratched my nose the other morning (in her attempts to rouse me out of bed to feed her), and it looks so dreadful right now. I took a pic, but I'm not brave enough to post it.

Tomorrow, Riley will be singing "Do Re Mi" at her school assembly! Times like these, I wish I had a camcorder, but such is life (money? - whatever). She's been working really really hard. I'm surprised she's not more nervous, but she never ceases to impress me; this is just another example.

Sylvia got her 3rd quarter grades; she maintained her 4.0 GPA!! Someone asked me if I was this good a student; I wasn't. A's and B's, but I didn't get a 4.0 until college. She's doing exactly what I want for her; better than her predecessor.

Lis Garrett is starting a new website called Root and Sprout, a parenting resource site (live on June 1). She is accepting submissions for articles now. Also, if you're an entrepreneur, you can advertise on the site.

I watched Saving Grace this weekend. Eh. There are some parts where I laughed out loud, but the parts weren't equal to the whole.

I'm loving iTunes! I know, I'm the last person on Earth to discover this, but I just didn't get it. Now, Sylvia's starting to get a little impatient with me because I spend more time on there burning cds for myself than I allow her...and she's the one with the iPod. Any suggestions on rationalizing this are greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flashback Friday - Vacation!



Last June, the girls and I took a road trip to San Francisco and Santa Cruz. (Okay, so I'm not flashing back too far here, but I'm looking forward to our Disneyland trip this June.)

The car ride went astonishingly well. Thank goodness they're old enough to have some bladder control, and being L.A. girls...they're kind of used to spending quality time with our car! Braced with car ride activity books (and about 40 CDs), we were off.

I booked the trip through AAA (which I highly recommend), and we went to pick up our City Passes, which gained us access to many of San Francisco's attractions. We managed to visit two aquariums, take a tour of a sourdough bakery, frequented the Farmer's Market, Ghirardelli Square (of course), and took the San Francisco Bay cruise.



We also happened to be there the same weekend as the Gay Pride Parade. Yes, it is family-friendly. There was face-painting, crafts, and a playground so the girls had fun, too. But my most favorite hours of the San Francisco trip were probably those we spent just watching the sea lions. Our last night there, we had dinner at a restaurant that overlooked their home on Pier 39.



We then spent a day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which was the highlight of the trip. I had so much fun introducing the girls to what had been my "Disneyland" as a child.



And what was really fun was how many compliments I received at pretty much every restaurant we frequented about how well-behaved my girls were. They did me proud. They always do.

One funny moment (not ha ha, more of the hmm kind). One day, we had breakfast at the counter at IHOP - which, btw, is really dreadful; was it always this dreadful? - and we were seated next to a man with his son. Well, at the end of the meal, I wasn't getting a check. I noticed the waitress had given the man his check, and was sort of annoyed that I wasn't handed mine at the same time. And then I looked at his face. I asked him about it, and my suspicions were confirmed. The waitress had assumed that we were all together, and had charged him for the 3 of us as well. She was embarrassed by the mistake, and corrected it, of course. In some ways, I can see how she made that assumption, but also...the man and I had never talked to each other while we were there! The girls and I spoke, and he of course talked to his son. Did she really think a married couple wouldn't talk to each other at all?!?

The other funny thing was when we were at the Farmer's Market, we were meeting their uncle, who lives in SF (and was a very gracious tour guide to us). The girls ran up to hug him when he arrived and a passerby said to her companion, "oh, look; they're with their daddy!" Again, a rather easy assumption to make, and it made me think of how many times I've probably been guilty of the same thing.

It probably sticks in my mind more than it should because of the fact that it sort of takes away from what I was - no am - doing all by myself. I don't want them to miss out on these sort of childhood memories because they're growing up without a father. They deserve family vacations. They deserve the smiles in these pictures. I stretch my credit cards way too thin to give it to them, but hey - who doesn't, really?

I acknowledge that the point is fairly insignificant, but at the same time, I do want to break the stereotypes of what being a single parent looks like, and I don't want the fact of me being a single parent to stop them from anything.

Okay, I better stop this post before I start crying again. (I've decided to live in denial about the whole condo thing for the rest of the month to give myself an emotional break.) And I'm straying from my original intent anyway. Which is to say, I love vacationing with my girls!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My BFOF

Happy Birthday, Kori!!

Kori and I became friends through an online panel, and immediately clicked. Fellow single mothers, fellow liberals, both of us extremely outspoken :), we definitely bonded from the getgo.

We've never met IRL, but the thoughts and feelings we've shared with each other has been a life-saver for me. I have some great friends and family, of course, but Kori understands my day-to-day better than anyone because it's similar to her own.

One big difference, however: she's got 4 children. Now, when I'm ready to pull my hair out with my two, I think about her and know that she's had similar moments, and I think "how does she do it?" She's also had her heart broken and been put through a lot ever since childhood and straight on through. And yet, she remains a well-balanced person that can give her children hope for their futures, she keeps her sense of humor and cracks me up, and she remains true to herself.

We have this little joke about our need for validation. And we give it to each other. She gave me permission to fall apart yesterday when I needed to. She gave me permission to go ahead and plan our mini-vacation to Disneyland, even when I was worried about the cost. She gives me the reassurance that I need when I'm doubting my abilities to get through whatever dilemma is currently beating the crap out of me. And, yes, she has given me some oh-so-needed kicks in the rear, and when I fought her on it, she just waited patiently for me to see the light :)

She's so completely open and honest about who she is. She is so incredibly intelligent, and admirable in very many ways.

Happy Birthday, Kori. I'm so glad I've met you, and can count you among my friends.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

CableGirl has inspired me throughout the month on various ways to not only help reduce global warming, but save us money! (Gas is currently $3.87 here in L.A.) It's a win-win. As she suggested, here are the things we are planning (or are currently doing) for our part:

Switching to compact flourescent bulbs. At this point, the majority of our house is lit with flourescent bulbs. I was lucky enough to find a sale at one point, and I stocked up! Even if you don't need any at the moment, this is a good item to check anytime you're shopping, and grab whenever you can.

Having a weekly Earth Hour. Now, we're pretty good during the week at making sure all the lights are turned off before we leave for the day, saving us hours of electricity at home, but since the event last month, we've also decided to have an Earth Hour every weekend as well. That's one hour with no electronics used. (We keep alarm clocks and the like plugged in.) It's fairly easy to do, and certainly saves on our electricity bill.

Keep the a/c off. This is an easy one for me. I hate air conditioning. It's always bothered me. I like open windows instead. I'll make frozen treats, take the girls to the pool (or just a cool bath), and make plenty of iced tea for myself.

Also, and this may sound weird, but we tend to stay indoors for the hottest hours of the day. For one thing, it protects your skin. And it just makes it seem cooler instead of going outside during the hottest hours of the day, and then not being able to cool off quickly so feeling forced to consume more a/c, water, etc. in trying to cool down. If you stay indoors, you're not feeling the heat as much to begin with.

Investing in more reusable products. This is still on my list to do. I'd tried using more reusable containers for my daughters' lunches, but they would lose them so often it was becoming more expensive than just sandwich bags and the like. Now, however, they're older and more responsible, and also just more aware of being environmentally-friendly. They have lunch boxes which they're remembering to take and bring home every day; I think they can handle more reusable containers for their snacks now.

Also, as CableGirl suggested, we're going to switch to cloth napkins. I've already gotten better about using more dish towels for cleaning than paper towels - and we've always used paper towels instead of paper napkins anyway - and I think the girls will love this switch as they love setting the table and trying to make it pretty.

No speeding! Becoming a mother changed my driving habits completely. My precious cargo was not worth trying to save a few minutes here and there. Now, I find out that driving at or below the speed limit saves on gas, too!

Look for more natural products. I really have to thank Kate for introducing me to Tom's of Maine products - a company that from its very inception was committed to providing personal products that are natural.

And in general, although it may cost more, I'm trying to buy more and more organic products as possible. I figure, I'm saving money in other areas so this is the place to spend it. I want the grocery stores and manufacturers to know that this is what I want. And hopefully, the more people buy, the more they'll make organic products, and then the prices will decrease a little. But if no one buys it while it's expensive, then we're not motivating the market to go that direction.

I know, too, that some companies are talking the talk without walking the walk, but I'm hoping that so long as we remain vigilant consumers, they will have to follow suit. Idealistic? Maybe. But it's worth a shot!

And here's the other thing: the organic products simply taste and work better. Sylvia much prefers Tom's of Maine strawberry toothpaste over those bubble-gum "brand" names. The organic carrots taste much better than the non-organic! The quality is worth the cost.

And ladies: please consider alternatives to tampons and maxi pads that make you feel like you're wearing training pants! I've always hated these products, and was thrilled when my big sis told me about Instead cups. They're hard to find at grocery stores, but I've found that buying them online is even chepaer, anyway! Also, Lunanik's sister blogged about even more alternatives that are even more earth-friendly, as well as wallet-friendly. Think about it. And may I remind you of toxic shock syndrome? As a mother of girls, I'm thrilled that I have more to offer them than the two options that I was given!

Recycling. This should be a given by now!

Now I will be the first to say that there's much, much more that I could do. I am by no means an expert on this stuff. These are all relatively easy, I grant you.

But that's my point. You don't have to be a bona fide hippie to make a difference. These are all things that, really, anyone can do. And I intend to keep my eyes and ears out for even more. And that's what Earth Day is about for me - a chance to reflect on what I'm doing, what I'm not, and how I can do better.

Please add any suggestions that you think I should've thought of by now. I doubt very much that I'm doing more than any of my readers, but in honor of awareness, it seemed a good idea to post about it, anyway.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cape Code, UTILITYS Paid

Wouldn't you love a Cape Code-like atmosphere? How about a place with free utilitys?

I'm doing a little CraigsList hunting for a new place. Here are some excerpts from some of the more interesting listings:

Remodeled Condo in a Great Local! - Great Local what?

Comfy 3 bedroom availble - Okay, I know abbreviations are big in real estate ads, but really, how much space is that "a" costing you? Not to mention, this is CraigsList. It's free!

3 bedroom,w/ bath - Are there some places that don't even come with bathrooms anymore?

You won't believe you eyes - No, I don't believe I will.

TWO BEDROOM ONE BATHROOM ONE PARKING SPC - Is this just an "only in L.A." thing? That a parking space is a selling point?

Musician friendly location - This reminds me of what I heard about the depression era: "No Dogs or Actors Allowed."
and from that same ad
Showing Tuesday night 04/22/2008 7:00pm-8;00pm - Does 8;00 pm mean 8-ish? Figures, the musician can't give a real time!

Two ads mention that there are "no neighbors." I have to admit, that is a selling point!

Open house Sunday Central - um, we're in the Pacific time zone. Why Central?

only neighbor on lot produces art - so many ways to go with this one...performance art? Adult-industry art? Why is it important to know that the neighbor produces art?

*sigh* Depending on how things go with Plans B and C...there may be more of these to come.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

Truth be told, it kind of sucked.

The other news is that I'm no longer a soccer mom. Not a week after Sylvia joining the team, practice was canceled. Indefinitely. Which, this late in the school year, must mean through the rest of the year. Not sure what happened there. But to be honest, I don't think either Sylvia or I care enough to find out.

Sorry, CableGirl, for missing out on Flashback Friday. I know, I suck. Blogger seems to hate my work computer - which is probably a good thing - and then I was gone most of Friday night. My apologies. Hopefully, next Friday...

I went to see Smart People. Which was not worth the $11 admission. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't great. All of the actors were great. I still love Ellen Page. And Sarah Jessica Parker. But the movie itself left something to be desired. Oh well. I got to spend time with a good friend at least.

The weirdest part was seeing Pittsburgh in the film. It brought back a lot of memories of my SAHM days there. My friend and I talked about it afterwards, and how she and I had both been in the position of being literal, not leave the house, kind of SAHMs because we had no money, no transportation, and were not living near our family and friends. The isolation kind of shut our brains down. I was glad to have that time with my kids, but when I look back, I wasn't nearly a good enough mother for them then. But both of us can only blame ourselves so much. Our husbands at the time were determined to make our lives center around them. It's the kind of thing that just makes me shutter now, and be glad I'm not dealing with that anymore.

Although I had a nightmare the night before the meeting yesterday that my ex-husband showed up at my door. I suppose it could've been some sort of premonition of the deceit that was to walk in my house.

But I digress. As usual. A much better film about a professor in Pittsburgh is Wonder Boys.



I started thinking about that movie about 15 minutes into Smart People, and now must add it to my Netflix queue to see it again. Currently I have American Gangster, which so far, I haven't had a desire to watch.

My favorite thing that I saw this week was John Edwards on Colbert Report:



(I hope this works. I tried to send the link to some friends, but it didn't work properly.)

Sylvia is very excited about her end-of-year field trip to San Diego. Riley did well at her audition, and has a call-back in two weeks. This week, Riley has her spelling bee and I hope it goes well. I'm a little nervous that the judges will have some difficulty understanding her because of her "r" issue. She asked me yesterday how to spell "resort," but I misunderstood and gave her the spelling for "result."

Why resort? Because our other big news is we're planning an end-of-school-year mini-vacation to the Disneyland Resort. They're both very excited, as we did one of these a few years ago for Spring Break, and we all had a great time. This time, we're only going for 2 nights - that's as much as I can pretend to afford it. But they've both done such a great job at school this year, and it was a difficult year for both of them. And yeah, I could use a little time at the Happiest Place on Earth myself.

Blogging Through It

The emotion, the wine, and a little whine.

So I had my meeting today with the potential buyer who was supposedly interested in the condo as an investment. I was lied to. She brought her eight (8!) closest family members to trample through the place, and then when she said she was planning to move in, I got emotional. And everyone else got uncomfortable. And at that moment, I just didn't give a damn. Still don't, really.

I gave her my proposed lease anyway. I cried and my body shook and no one wanted to see that. Well, honey, you're going to take the roof over my head, and I'm going to get a little emotional about it!

And then the realtor comes back to tell me that he'd be willing to sell it to me. Yeah, if I could afford it, I would, dude! I went through the numbers yet again yesterday, but there's just no way. It can't be done. I don't care what kind of lenders you have, there's no way that I can afford this. And then he had the audacity to say to me to not upset the children.

Don't traipse eight people through our home, tell us we can't stay there, and then say I'm the one upsetting my children!!

The only possible good to come out of it...well, two things I guess. The first is that at least I know now. The blow hit hard, but at least I know. The second good thing is that a neighbor saw what was going on, and is going to get me in touch with a woman who might be able to help me stay in the complex that would at least mean that Riley wouldn't have to change schools again.

But I'm still grieving. Because it would be nice to just once have Plan A work out, you know?

So I got emotional. And I'm still emotional. But you know what? Through it all, I'm still feeding my children, attending to their needs, and they know that I'm upset for them...as well as for me. If there are other single moms out there that could go through what I went through today with more strength than I, my hat's off to you.

As for me? Well, I can't do it. I can't be confronted with deceit and swallow it whole without choking a little. I know my kids better than any stranger who thought it was perfectly acceptable to act dishonestly!! I'm upset for the right reasons!! I'm upset by lies. Frankly, I think any other reaction from me would've taught my kids the wrong lessons.

We should be upset by dishonesty!! We should at least say our friggin' piece of mind about it! I wasn't rude, I didn't yell. I just said that I was told that they wanted it for investment purposes, and I didn't want to move. That I don't know if I could do it, go through it again. That I can't put my kids through it again. And I cried as I said it.

If that was wrong, then I don't want to be right.

And you know what else? If you're not going to help me, if you're not going to actually add value to my children's lives (or mine), then here's the thing: you don't get to tell me how to do it!! If you have nothing to add but criticism with no construction to it, then I don't care what you think! If you think I'm not doing a good job raising my children, then you are not welcome in my home...it may not be my home long, but it's my home now. And no one gets to accuse me of not doing right by my children in front of my children in my own home.

It was hard enough to find out that I was lied to. It was hard enough to know that I'm losing my home. I did not need to be told I was upsetting my children on top of it.

You know, single parents get the short end of the stick all the time. Just the other day, Liz over at A Bright Future blogged about yet another friggin' article blaming single parents...this time for costing taxpayers' money.

I do not cost the taxpayers a friggin' dime!! I lend the government money with every paycheck that they make plenty of money through interest on! I just get back the principal at tax-time. I work full-time, I pay for my daughters' after-school care, I even pay for their lunch. I pay for my health care. I'm even saving the taxpayers' money by sending Sylvia to KIPP LA Prep, a charter school that gets less funding from the state than regular schools.

Here's the funny, sad, ironic part. If I did manage to buy something, it would be through the FHA, which...guess what? Would come from federal funds!!

And yet, I'm the one upsetting my children. I'm the one costing taxpayers' money? Are you kidding me?!?

You know what else is sad/funny/tragically ironic? It's my friggin' ex-husband who is costing the taxpayers!! It's my friggin' ex-husband who lands in jail at least once a year, which is paid for through MY MONEY!!! It's my ex-husband who isn't paying the child support that would make the difference in me being able to buy something. It's my ex-husband who is living with his parents that get the majority of their income from Social Security!!

I can take a lot. I had my children, and I can take responsibility for them. I can obsess about how they're maturing, as students, as people. I can kiss their wounds, hug them every day, help them with their homework, give them their baths, wash their clothes...

I just can't do this. I just can't listen to someone accusing me of upsetting my children unnecessarily and not get upset about it.

My daughters are awesome, and that's in part, thanks to me. They were so wonderful today. They did everything I asked of them in terms of cleaning, etc. on their weekend. Sylvia showed the mob around. Yes, they weren't happy to see me upset, but as Sylvia just said, it was because I "don't deserve to be lied to." It's not because I cried.

Okay. I'm done now. For those who stuck through this major rant, thank you. It was just all I could think of to do.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's Riley's Turn

First, my little Riley lost her first tooth yesterday!! Sylvia helped her pull it out while I held my little girl. It ended up being a really nice family event. Riley was so grateful for Sylvia's help, she thought the "tooth fairy" should visit Sylvia, too! (She didn't. 'Cuz the tooth fairy's a stickler like that!)

But the even bigger news is happening today.

She's not quite the outgoing, spotlight-craving girl that Sylvia is. In fact, if anything, I worry that she acquiesces too much to her big sister...and that I almost even encourage it by just wanting the fight to stop already! It's something I'm working on, but I still can fall into the habit. I've done a heck of a job (Brownie) praising her for being so thoughtful of others, but I get concerned that I'm not giving equal balance to letting her have the last word every now and then.

Well, I can breath a little easier today. Riley decided, all on her own, to sign up for the talent show auditions today. We'd talked about it a little before, but what I thought she was going to do was a group number with some friends. That must have fallen apart because 2 days ago, she said that she'd told her teacher that she would sing all by herself!

That night, we talked about song choice. She wanted to do "Wells Fargo Wagon" (which would've been adorable), but she was worried she didn't know it well enough for an audition in 2 days with little time to practice. (She also has had more homework than her sister this week, for some strange reason.) So we hit upon "Do Re Mi." Perfect. She even had dance movies (mostly copied from the movie) to do with it!

And yesterday, she got up in front of her entire class and did it! I was completely floored when she told me that one.

We're a little worried because she heard that the 5th graders might be doing that song, but I told her to go ahead and do it anyway today at the audition, and if she needed to, we could change her song for the actual talent show. I'm feeling like Mama Rose today. But I'm staying put here at work so that I don't run into the auditorium, screaming "Sing out, Louise!" (Skip to about 1:40 in the video to see what I mean by that.)



Hmmm...so if I were Mama Rose, then that would make Sylvia Baby June...who runs away from home, and Riley would be Baby Louise...who becomes Gypsy Rose Lee. The stripper. Yeah. Much better for me to avoid the Mama Rose label as much as possible!!

But I digress. (Big surprise.) The point is, Miss Riley has decided to do this all on her own, and I've just tried to support that decision. And I am so proud of her!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Reader Appreciation Day



So, how do I express how much I appreciate people taking the time to read my blather? I love this idea from The Other Mother, and I suppose if I were a better writer, I'd have better words than simply "thank you."

I love to write, I really do. I read people every day that are far more talented than I, but I still love to do it. While I may not always do it accurately or gracefully, I've never had any problem expressing myself!

I started writing back when I was in elementary school. I remember one summer, while I was in a day theatre camp (of course :), we had about a 45-minute drive over there and back. Every day, I would write, and every day, I would read aloud what I'd written to our carpoolers. Ironically enough, the other girl in the car, Kristina Harris, has become a writer! I continued to write bad adolescent fiction through high school, sharing it only with some close friends as they were part of my storylines.

I was never any good at keeping a diary. It required way too much discipline for me! I attempted to take a writer's course - one of those "from home" courses - at one point, but I got frustrated with how incompetent I was, and quit.

My mom was always telling me that I should be a writer - which, of course, is no easier than being an actor! I didn't want to subject myself to that kind of rejection.

I was thrilled that Antioch required so much writing because I loved doing it again. Since graudation, I've been writing mostly long emails to friends, who endured them :) and kept my writing alive that way. And those of you from Zoom have also endured my very long post entries - which still didn't ever say all that I wanted to say!

I love how well blogging works for me. I can say what I want when I want to say it, and then, lo and behold some people come and read it! And the best part is all these amazing people I've met and gotten to know through their own blogs. (And, btw, I know I need to update my blog roll; I just haven't had time!)

I know I have a few lurkers out there, too. Come out, don't, totally up to you. You're free to email me directly if you'd prefer, or just stay an unkown number in my Analytics. I'm just grateful that you stop by!

I could write many more paragraphs, pointing out specific bloggers/commenters that add something to my day every day I see them here on the blogosphere, but I'd inevitably leave someone out because I'm easily distracted, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

But there's one person I must single out. One person that has taken the time to teach me some rudimentary blogging tips, introduced me to the Buzz, gave me my first award, and has taken time on her blog more than once to introduce me to others. Not to mention, a great blogger!

So, in honor of Reader Appreciation Day, I'd like to honor Lunanik with a $20 Amazon gift certificate. Thank you - and it'll be coming in your email later today.

Thanks to all my readers. Thanks to the people who have mentioned to me on the phone or passing by me that they're reading this and enjoying it. Thanks to the people who take the time to comment. Thanks to the people who de-lurk every now and then. Thanks to the ones who don't. If you're reading this, then I thank you!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not Just Another Meme

First, thanks to all on your advice yesterday. I heeded it, and for the most part, have let it go. I think venting just helps sometimes, and I appreciate your input.

Speaking of appreciation, I've just learned from Hahn at Home about Reader Appreciation Day, the creation of The Other Mother, to take place tomorrow, April 16. She's posted some great ideas on various ways to thank our readers so take a look! (And spread the word!)

Until tomorrow...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Just a Rant

It's been a while since I ranted about the ex, and it's what's on my mind today so if you don't want a hear a crazy woman bitch, you can move along. But some of my fellow single mamas might appreciate it, anyway.

Okay, so my loser, deadbeat sperm donor of an ex managed to tick me off this weekend by not picking up the friggin' phone!

At this point, his role as "dad" involves one little thing. To call the girls on the weekend. I have asked him not to call during the week because we're busy enough getting homework done, dinner, baths, etc. to deal with it. Given that we don't get home until 6 on a good night, that's a lot to pack in before an 8:30 bedtime! (Which is slowly creeping to 9, but I'm still calling it 8:30.)

He can't manage to pay child support like he's supposed to, he can't manage to stay out of jail and in a residence in Los Angeles and drug-free long enough to get every other weekend visits, he can't manage to think about parental responsibilities at all...the absolute least he could do is to pick up the phone once a week. But apparently that's become too strenuous for him as well. (I don't think he's in jail. I usually get a phone call from his family if that's the case.)

I'm mulling over the merits of picking up the phone and yelling at him. Now, I've been at this long enough to know that it won't change his behavior in the slightest. But as I told Kori, it sometimes makes me feel better at least to yell at him. I'd be doing it for me, not him.

On the other hand, knowing my luck, he won't be home when it's convenient for me to yell at him without the girls around. So he'll call back when I am with the girls and I won't be in my "angry place" enough to deal with it.

The ironic part of it is, the girls didn't even notice! I mean, it'd be one thing to yell at him about how he's letting them down, but they didn't even mention his name this weekend! Whenever he does call, they're happy to talk to him, but he just doesn't seem to enter their thoughts when he's not around. It's a very "out of sight, out of mind" kind of thing these days. So if I call him on it, I risk the chance that he actually will be more vigilant about calling, and then they will count on it, and then he'll miss a weekend, and they'll miss him, and it'll all my fault for bringing it up in the first place!

Guess I ranted my way out of that one...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

All in all, a good week. I love it when Sundays consist of being home all day, which is what we're doing.

To work backwards, yesterday my family got together to celebrate my birthday which was very nice. We went to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and then back to my parents' house for coffee, cake and presents. I'm addicted with the gift from my dad, a book appropriately titled Obsessed with Hollywood, a trivia game of 2500 questions. My mom got me tickets to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Manhattan Transfer at the Hollywood Bowl in July. Sylvia got me a bag and Riley got me a candle. My sister renewed my New Yorker subscription.



I made my monthly visit to Dream Dinners - I'm most excited about the Chicken Mirabella.

Sylvia's big news this week is that she won a friggin' iPod!! KIPP has this program called Scholar Dollars, where they get weekly paychecks as an incentive. If they've earned at least 85% of the Scholar Dollars possible by the end of the year, they get an all-expense paid field trip. Sylvia will be going to San Diego for 3 days in June. They also have auctions throughout the year where the kids can bid for items using their Scholar Dollars. Sylvia had more Dollars than any other 5th grader, and this was their last auction of the year so she was able to bid them all for the iPod. She was a little nervous that I wouldn't let her keep it (given my stance on no video game players allowed, she didn't know if iPods would apply, too), but I told her as long as Mommy can use it every now and then, she could keep it. The good news is, I don't have to listen to the Hannah Montana or the country songs that she downloaded!

From the race last weekend:


Riley had a big week, too - 2 field trips! On Monday, they went to the Natural History Museum, and on Friday, the Getty. Riley's favorite part was making masks at the Getty.
And how adorable is she in this pic from the race:


I watched about a half-hour of The Assassination of Jesse James before I gave up. I just didn't care at all. Luckily, HBO was showing a much better Brad Pitt flick: Fight Club.


I'm not quite as fanatical in my admiration of Brad as I am over George or Johnny...still, in a good movie, I find him quite enjoyable.

The girls were so excited about my birthday, you'd think it was one of theirs! Sylvia wrote me a lovely tribute, and Riley worked very hard at ensuring my happiness. My bosses took me out for a very nice lunch to another favorite Mexican restaurant.

And a dear friend got me this shirt which sums me up nicely:



Now I know this word drives some people crazy, and it is somewhat of a change of heart for me to adopt it. But for me, it represents the ability to let certain things go over which I have no control. I'm still a control freak, but I'm learning to accept the things I cannot change. At least, sometimes.

I'm almost ready for my meeting next week with the potential buyers of the condo. I'm working on a proposal of a 2-year lease to get me through Riley's elementary school years before she moves on to KIPP, at a rental price that I can afford. Hopefully, they will like the idea (as I've been told they're interested in the property as an investment), and all will be well. If not, I've got a Plan B. If Plan B doesn't work, well, then it's on to the old apartment-hunt.

I also watched the HBO documentary Autism: the Musical this week. I know, it's an odd title, but completely worth seeing. These kids, these parents...I can't imagine their daily existence. Just a glimpse into these families' lives humbled me while filling me with admiration for them and their strength.

I was a bit apprehensive leading up to my 35th birthday, and (semi) joked to Kori that I might spend the night crying into a bottle of wine. Granted, 35 no longer means middle-aged, but it's still hard to get away from that idea that...well, I'm not young anymore. But I can still act goofy when given the opportunity (as I did earlier in the week with a few friends - and had a blast), and then I can turn around later that night and put my daughters to bed while they're comforted by the knowledge that Mommy's here. No matter if I'm 30, 35, or 40 can't change the warmth that goes with that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Flashback Friday - Strange Encounters



Here are two random weird encounters I had that will have to suffice for today's Flashback post as I have no brain power today.

I was living in Denver, just doing laundry in the apartment-building facilities, which were housed in the basement. As I'm putting a load in, some guy comes out from behind the water heater, wearing just a white undershirt and some boxers. Weird, but whatever. He nodded a greeting, and then left.

About a half hour later, the apt. manager knocks on my door and tells me that a rapist has escaped jail and was seen in the area. As he's describing him, I realize that it is indeed the guy I saw in the laundry room. The apartment manager passed that news on to the police, and about an hour or so later, he was found.

A few years later, I was living in Pittsburgh. I was doing one of my 'trying to get my degree' stints that didn't happen until a couple of years ago. Anyway, I was coming home from class one night - I took night classes while my now-ex stayed home with the kids. I was walking from the bus stop to our place and I could hear some guy walking behind me. I got that icky feeling, but then he started talking to me and even joked about how he was "stalking" me so I relaxed a little. We made small talk until I reached my door. I knew my husband was inside so I didn't really worry about it.

Around midnight that night, someone was knocking at the door. I was just closing up the house for the night. I opened the door, and there he was...with his pants open and his "little friend" sticking out and reeking of whiskey! I slammed the door, but he remained standing there. I called out for my husband who yelled at him a bit and the guy wandered off. I was scared for a few days after that, particularly as I was coming home at night, but he never came by again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The 35 Post

So I'm 35 today. I decided to post about 35 of my favorite musicals...'cause it's my birthday and that's what I want to post! These are in no particular order, just all beloved by me for one reason or another.

1. Rent - This show was my generation's Hair. The circumstances surrounding the musical (Jonathon Larsen's unexpected death) just make it all the more resonating. And it introduced us to great talents: Idina Menzel (Tony-winner for Wicked), Taye Diggs (her incredibly hot and talented husband)


and Jesse L. Martin


But beyond the eye candy, I love this show. It's closing on Broadway September 7. I've had the opportunity to see it 3 times on tour, and would go again if I could!

2. Wicked - I've seen this one 5 times and would most definitely go again. I love how it explores this idea of who is a "good" or "bad" person, and how we come to those conclusions. Of course, it's almost never that easy - or it shouldn't be. Plus, I love seeing two women take the final bow!

3. Les Miserables - Another one I've seen a lot. 7 times. The most of any show that I've actually paid money (or someone has) to sit and watch. The first time was the best, though. We went to New York when I was - well, a lot younger - and it had just opened on Broadway. I was dying to see it; had already memorized the London cast recording, but we could not get tickets before our trip. On our first night there, my mom went to the box office, begged and pleaded with them...and walked away with 4 tickets in the 2nd row!! It remains, of course, one of my favorite New York memories.

4. Chess - So I was doing a little googling, and was thrilled to learn that there are rumors this might play in London again soon! Not that I'll get there, but still...Anyway, this musical was one that didn't do so hot on Broadway - it always suffered a weak book, but had great songs - songs that singers love to sing. I was thrilled and honored to co-produce and assistant direct (and house manage, understudy, etc.) for The Blank Theatre Company's production of Chess, which starred Marcia Mitzman (who had been in the original Broadway cast). It remains one of my fondest and proudest memories.

5. Into the Woods - I can't believe I haven't brought up this one yet! It really is one of my favorites. I wrote a literary analysis of this in college, I produced and played Little Red in a reading workshop production of it, but one of my happiest memories of the show was the first time I saw it when it came to town. I was in the Student Rush line to get tickets. There were a lot of people there who didn't even know who Stephen Sondheim was! And they were in front of me! As the line was moving, we were hearing grumblings of people who were annoyed that they couldn't get seats together, seats in the balcony, etc. My mom asked me if I wanted to give up. I looked at her like she was insane!! When it was my turn, I told the box office person, "I don't care where you put me, I'll stand in the back if I have to, I have to see this show!" He gave me two tickets, which I kissed without even looking at them. He gave me house seats!

6. Sweeney Todd - I'm thrilled in so many ways that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp brought this show to a forum where more people could see and experience the genius that is this show. I still prefer the original, of course, but the only real complaint I have about the movie is that I missed the chorus. "More Hot Pies" makes no sense in the film. Nevertheless, it's an opportunity to post a pic of Johnny. Nothing wrong with that:


7. Sunday in the Park with George - This was the first Sondheim musical I got to be in. From that first arpeggio, I was hooked. I watched the DVD commentary, given by Sondheim, James Lapine, and Mandy Patinkin. I loved that Lapine said, "this is a weird musical." Because it is. But it's also beautiful. (And now playing on Broadway again - link gives more info.) The director of the one I did, Joanne Gordon, is a renowned Sondheim expert and has written books about his work. And she taught me one of my favorite phrases that works in life as well as in theatre: "just take the note."

8. Merrily We Roll Along - yes, another Sondheim show! Every now and then, I just have to hear it! Kind of a weak script, and it didn't last long on Broadway, but it remains an incredible score.

9. Company - might as well get all the Sondheim ones done. I've written about this show before. I can't really think of much more to say about it, other than it's brilliant and while considered contemporary in the '70s (and the original cast recording has some distinctly '70s
flavor), I think its message is timeless.

10. West Side Story - I can't believe this musical is over 50 years old now! I call it the quintissential American musical. Song, dance, and plot are connected just perfectly. There's just nothing about it that doesn't work.

11. Gypsy - best Overture ever! Another perfect musical. I would love to see Patti LuPone in this role. I would have loved to see Bernadette Peters. Rose is the role that every actress yearns to play!

12. Falsettos - the brainchild of William Finn, Falsettos was one of the first musicals to tackle AIDS in the gay community. Although it didn't start off that way. The first and second acts, In Trousers and March of the Falsettos, were one of the first musicals about homosexuality in general. When AIDS hit, William Finn added the 3rd act, Falsettoland. I was honored to see a reunion production of it (before it went to Broadway) with most of the original cast. Michael Rupert has a voice that makes my heart sing.

13. Legally Blonde the Musical - you can now hear that fabulous voice and see him on Broadway in Legally Blonde. This play is as fun as the original movie was, if not moreso. It will hold a special place in my heart forever now, as it is something that the girls and I have so much fun singing together.

14. A Chorus Line - this is one that my family and I sang together when I was growing up.

15. Evita - we also were huge Evita fans. And it's the only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that I actually like.

16. Avenue Q - Familiar with Sesame Street? Leave the kids at home and have yourself a really fun night out!! Actually, you don't really have to be familiar with Sesame Street to enjoy it, but it makes it better. This show is hysterical - the puppet sex alone is worth the price - and ends with one of my favorite songs of all time: "For Now." A reminder that everything that happens, the good and the bad, is only for now. You'll get through the bad moments, and don't forget to thoroughly embrace the good ones! There are times when I really, really need to listen to this song. And it always helps.

17. Follies - I forgot this one in my Sondheim run. My favorite recording of this is Follies in Concert with Mandy Patinkin, George Hearn, Lee Remick, Carol Burnett, Elaine Stritch...to name a few. There's also a PBS documentary on the making of this.

18. Ain't Misbehavin' - another show that holds a special place in my heart. I got to produce a touring production of this, directed by Ken Page, one of the original cast members. The Finale of this show is another one that I must hear sometimes!

19. The Fantasticks - the world's longest running musical. Yes, even longer than Cats. Such a beautiful, simple story about the complexity of relationships.

20. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - My friend and I had a great time seeing this one! And we were very lucky that nearly the entire original cast reunited for the Los Angeles premiere. It's sweet and funny. To give you a taste, go play their spelling game on the website.

21. The Music Man - After doing 80 performances of this show in dinner theatre, you'd think I'd never want to hear it again! And I didn't for many years. But I taped the movie for the girls earlier this year, and it brings back fond memories of a time when my life was simply singing and dancing. And it got me my Equity card. I don't think it's possible to hate a show which got you that coveted card!

22. Chicago - this is one of those rare times that I actually like the movie better than the play. I love that they used the medium to its fullest, and Cell Block Tango is a great, great number.



23. Putting It Together - I love this cast recording. Great Sondheim songs, a beautiful arrangement of "Being Alive," and Julie Andrews says the F word. What's not to love?

24. Hello Again - an adaptation of "La Ronde" with each vignette taking place in a different time period. This is one of those where, with nearly every track, I say, "I love this song." But "In Some Other Life" is definitely my favorite of the show.

25. Cabaret - Interesting - another Kander & Ebb where I prefer the film to the play version. Probably has to do with familiarity, but the scene where the Nazi sings "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" chills me to the bone every time.

26. Fosse - one of the foremost unique choreographers. Plus, I have a great memory of seeing this with my sister and her husband, and hanging out with my favorite lesbian :) You know who you are!

27. Dreamgirls - One of the greatest performances ever. No, not the movie version. There's a definitive version of this song, and that's by Miss Jennifer Holliday:



28. Mamma Mia - because Riley loves it. So does Sylvia, but Riley is adamant in her love for this show. We're very much looking forward to the movie coming out with Meryl Streep.

29. Grease - I'm partial to the movie version because 1) it's what I grew up on, of course, and 2) my favorite dance teacher I ever had the pleasure of studying under was ChaCha in the movie. And then Sylvia played ChaCha in the school play and stopped the show!

30. The Wizard of Oz - Big surprise, I am a huge Judy Garland fan.

31. A Star is Born - Of course, the Judy Garland version is my favorite. And it's my favorite Judy Garland film. And I love this picture:


32. Summer Stock - Clearly, I'm on a Judy Garland roll right now! But this one is a favorite not only because of "Get Happy" - the best Judy Garland song - but also because of Gene Kelly. I love this man!

33. Singin' in the Rain - a little 6 degrees action happening here! But, come on! What's not to love about Singin' in the Rain?

34. Forbidden Broadway - New York's longest running spoof! Okay, I don't know if that's true or not, but it seems that way. And I have a fond memory of seeing this with my sister that same trip to New York where we saw Les Miz. And their Les Miz spoof had us on the floor!

35. Hair - I mentioned it in the #1 slot, so I wanted to close with it. This was one of my favorite ones to perform. People were kind of freaked out on how well I played totally stoned! And I really and truly was acting at the time! Not only that, but what it did for Broadway was something truly special. It showed that our art really can reflect our times, and had it not been a success, I'm not sure if Broadway could've survived. It changed everything.

Thanks for sticking with me through this! I had a lot of fun putting this list together.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Balancing the Ego

No, not mine :) My daughter, Sylvia.

She's a great kid with no real heavy issues, but she does tend to have a hard time not being in the spotlight. I joked about this a few days ago - about how she would be one of 3 out of a couple hundred kids to get interviewed by the announcer before the race! She's spoken at a Jane Goodall event, she gives VIP tours at KIPP, she has gotten spontaneous ovations at her school plays...the girl can command a stage.

I can't remember which David E. Kelley series it was ("Ally McBeal?" "The Practice?" "Boston Legal?"), but I'll never forget this one episode about the woman who carried around her own spotlight and applause box. This is my fear for Sylvia's future: her ability to live outside of center stage.

When they're little, we spend a whole lot of time (as we should) building up those egos, making sure they're confident. Just a month or so ago, at the parent teacher conference for Sylvia, we talked about how we should continue to boost her confidence to alleviate her nerves for tests. And it seems to have worked, as evidenced by her last, straight A report card.

But where and when do we start pulling it back?

She's a bit of a teacher's pet, and has been razzed by some classmates because of that. I've told her not to worry about it, it's more important to do well in school, but she now spends most of her lunch periods helping teachers in their classrooms. She has the usual ups and downs of typical middle school friendships, and I know that's normal, but I'm beginning to wonder if it'd be better for her to fit in a bit more. She's smaller than most of her classmates, and a little younger, too.

I think her "chutzpah" is a good thing, overall, and helps her to be admired by those who wouldn't feel as comfortable getting up to speak to the entire 5th grade class. She's befriended one of the best students in the class, and I'm glad she's hanging with that kind of crowd, but they had a little problem yesterday.

Sylvia and D partnered up for a class project, but they argued about whose idea they would use. Now, D is also a Type A personality, as she only agreed to do the project with Sylvia if Sylvia agreed to use all of D's ideas. Sylvia tried to get the same agreement out of D, but D refused. Sylvia did not.

Sylvia ended up not liking D's idea, and D got upset with her for not going along with it.

This is your classic struggle among two strong personalities.

I told Sylvia, "I have 2 thoughts on this. One of them, you're not going to like. The other one, you probably will. Which do you want first?"

She chose the one that she wasn't going to like. I proceeded to tell her that while I think it's great that she's such a natural leader, sometimes it's good to work as a team, and let someone else have the spotlight. D is not an Ambassador, and hasn't shared the spotlight nearly as much as Sylvia has at KIPP. It might be good to let her run the show on this one.

Sylvia protested all through it, but I asked her to just let me finish and then we'd get on to my other thought.

My other thought was that she should never have agreed to go along with all of D's ideas in the first place. That she should've said, "well, maybe we shouldn't work together this time," and be prepared to find another partner. Sylvia didn't like that idea as much as I thought she would because she is afraid of losing D's friendship as a result of that.

I told her to take some time thinking about my first thought, and we'd talk about it more over the weekend. (There's only so much time we have together in the evenings for "deep thoughts.")

Now, of course, I'm questioning my handling of the situation. Should I've just been supportive and validated her feelings? She was okay. She just wanted a hug afterwards, which of course, I was happy to give. Is it too soon to start taking her off the pedestal?

In my heart of hearts, I don't think so. I think that she does need to learn that we don't always get our way, that we have to weigh the pros and cons and keep our egos out of it sometimes. But I still have the question mark in my head about it.

Maybe it'll happen naturally. Maybe I don't have to interfere at all, and just let life take its course. Maybe I should just listen and keep my mouth shut. Maybe being on the soccer team will help her get the "teamwork spirit" that I fear she lacks. And maybe she doesn't lack it as much as I think she does. Maybe I'm over-reacting.

This is one of the most frustrating parts of parenting. You do what you think is right at the time, but maybe 5 years from now, I'll see my mistake in handling this. When it's way too late.

Maybe it is about balancing my ego, after all!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

McFlicted - Are There Happy Meals in our Future?

I've been boycotting McDonalds for a few years now. First, there was McLibel, a documentary that follows the story of two ordinary people having been sued by one of the world's largest companies. Then, there was Fast Food Nation, a horribly disgusting look at what these fast food restaurants do. Now, I know McDonalds isn't the only guilty restaurant, but most likely, the worst offender. Interestingly enough, Super Size Me, while also informative, wasn't a factor in my boycotting decision.
Being completely over their food, like 'if I never eat this again for the rest of my life, I will never miss it' sick of their food, was a factor.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy fast food. I love fast food! I know it's totally bad for me, but I still enjoy it, and we now have a scheduled, weekly Fast Food Night. I'm sure the other conglomerates that we visit are just as bad, and of course their operating procedures aren't any better than McDonalds, but at least I wasn't supporting a company that went and sued 2 ordinary people.

While unofficially blog-hopping today, through Hahn at Home, I was referred to Red Hog Diary's post about how McDonalds is now actively and openly pursuing business with the gay and lesbian community.

Equality for homosexuals is one of the subjects about which I am most passionate. It makes no sense to me that some Americans should not be able to enjoy all of the same rights and/or privileges that most of us take for granted. It is today's Civil Rights struggle, IMHO.

Therefore, I'm absolutely thrilled that McDonalds is willing to publicly state this. Of course, Red Hog points out that there are others that have a problem with it, and I want to support the decision that McDonalds has made. However, it doesn't take away the fact that they've done what they've done, and will continue to do what they do when it comes to the manufacturing and operating of their factories.

I'm McFlicted.

If you are not, and happily support this, please follow the links from above to write a letter of support to McDonalds. (I highly recommend NOT using the American Family Association link, as you will then be put on their email blast list.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

It's Official

Sylvia has joined a soccer team. I am now a "soccer mom." Court me, Clinton & Obama, court me!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

I'm wrapping up early as the girls and I have much to do around the house today, I'm afraid :(.

I watched Michael Clayton last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's nice to see Hollywood make a full-out Hollywood movie that completely works every now and then. Not too deep, not too shallow, some morality lessons, and all wrapped up neatly in the beauty of George Clooney:



Yeah, I know I've shown this pic before, but it seems that some of my readers and I will never tire of him.

The girls ran a kiddie race at Santa Anita park this weekend. Oddly enough, my mother hasn't sent me pics yet (and my camera, of course, was low on batteries because I always forget to charge the thing) so sadly, no pics. But they had a great time, Sylvia managed to get herself interviewed prior to the race - typical! She'll find that spotlight wherever she can. The girls stayed for the horse races with my parents, and Riley won $6, which thrilled her. I got to vacuum the living room with no little girls around - doesn't take much to make me happy!

Sylvia and I have started watching "Step It Up and Dance."



Already, it's my new "must-see."

Thanks to Violent Acres, I have a new must-read blog: Entertainment People. If snarky's not your thing, then don't bother, but if you enjoy someone saying all the things you want to say to stupidity, you will love this blog!

And now I have my own response to make to an anonymous comment I received on my last post about my best friend.

Anonymous said:

Rather than being a beautiful friendship, I find it quite sad. It's a story I've heard a thousand times. Guy courts girl, girl rejects guy, guy stays true friend, girl fails miserably at her relationships, guy stays true friend, girl is thankful for true friend. There's an obvious reason why the guy only wants to be friends anymore. You broke his heart one too many times. Like many other women, you just happen to be terrible at relationships. If you really love him, you should be begging him to take you back.


I know I shouldn't let this get to me, and really I haven't. But I know me well enough to know that it will get to me if I don't say what I have to say about it.

There's a bitterness about this person that is quite sad, but I can understand it as well. It can be difficult to not feel "less than" in a place that celebrates couples so much, and not the single. And clearly, this person has been hurt - most likely by an unrequited love.

It does suck when someone doesn't love you the way you love them. It would be wrong, however, to assume that I have never experienced this.

It would be wrong, also, to assume that I don't give anything to this friendship in return. I didn't find it appropriate to brag about what kind of friend I have been to K, but the truth is, the friendship is mutual. It's a give and take, just as any successful relationship is (or should be).

And it would also be wrong to be with someone for the wrong reasons, which is what K and I would be doing if we attempted to make more of our friendship than it is. Now, I'm old enough to know to never say "never," but at this point in our lives, as I stated in my earlier post, neither of us want that.

It kind of reminds me of how Hillary and Silda Spitzer have been chastised for staying with their man during difficult times. I don't know why they stayed for sure, but I know that I certainly stayed with my ex-husband much longer than I should have because our culture continues to impress upon our female population that one should stand by her man, no matter the circumstances. It's easy for people to assume that I'm the failure at the relationships. I don't see it that way. The failure would have been to stay. In any of them, for a variety of reasons.

I think relationships are a lot harder than we are led to believe. Through movies, politics, etc., we are told that love is enough. It isn't. It isn't enough to make one a good spouse or a parent. If it were that easy, we wouldn't have as nearly as many children in trouble, adults in trouble, and divorced.

As Kori has discussed, love, in its true and proper form, is an action. bell hooks wrote about this as well in all about love. Love is more than just a feeling that can't be helped, love is expressed in its greatest glory by the actions we give it.

And, sadly enough, you can do all that and still "fail." It has to work both ways.

As I've been writing this post, anonymous has responded again:

I'm not bitter, just realistic. What's there to understand? That he forgave you, and remained your friend unconditionally? I understand that. You're a lucky one. He seems like a wonderful man. Many other women spend the later years of their lives bitter and resentful at their failed marriages and empty love affairs. They don't have anyone. You have a real friend. Not only longer lasting than your other friends, but longer lasting than any of your marriages. My suggestion to you is that rather than "ruining" it, having a relationship with this man would be even more fruitful and just as long lasting. I think it's a shame that it's already been 22 years, but maybe it's never too late to try.

Don't you think it's a little mean to compare this long time friend who has stuck with you through everything to the one night stands and short term marriages with men who are long gone? Admit it, we all know its true - it was a mistake not to have married him in the first place. You can try to rationalize it now, but it's still a mistake and he's still the same man.


Okay, I'm really starting to wonder who this "anonymous" person is that thinks they know me so well.

But he/she brings up a great point about whether or not it's something to regret that K and I never ended up together in the first place.

No. We wouldn't have lasted! I love him, he loves me, and I'm not going to air out my entire life here (or his), but K and I both know we wouldn't still know each other today had we gotten married when I was 18. This friendship has survived for 22 years for the specific reason that we are friends.

And it seems that anonymous also thinks it's a mistake for me to have my two girls. Because they wouldn't be who they are had it not been for things going the way they did.

I also don't see how I've compared my relationship to K to anyone else. My post was about how special and unique K is to me! It was an honest assessment of what we've been through (or as much as one post can be about a 22-year friendship), and I'll consider it my failure as a writer for not expressing clearly enough that there is no comparison to make between K and any other man/boyfriend I've known.

I'm not going to say that I haven't made mistakes in my life - nor am I going to say that everything happens for a reason. And I'm only going to defend and/or explain myself so much here.

To get back to the original point of that post, that post is about the beauty of friendship. That post is about someone being there for someone else without obligation.

Anonymous: I've been quite decent about keeping your comments on my blog - and leaving the anonymous option open - and I would ask that you please consider carefully just what your intentions are before commenting further. I would consider continuing a dialogue off-line if you have something of value to say, and to stand behind your words with your identity. Because I'm seriously beginning to question whether or not you're just my ex-husband looking for further excuses to back out of paying all the child support you owe me! I will consider letting further comments of yours continue to be published on my blog, but I will also exercise my right to delete you if I deem it necessary.

I let myself get distracted earlier from my point, but I can't close this post without saying what I originally wanted to say - and why I'm writing about this now.

It is no crime to be single. It is no crime to be a single parent. It's sometimes nearly unbearably hard, but I carry no shame with it. I am quite proud - and relieved - to no longer be living the existence that I lived as a married mom. I'm going to use this blog to tell it like it is - the ups, the downs, the fears, the triumphs - because it's my blog and I can do whatever I want with it. If someone can't get past the fact that I'm single, then they need to move on. If someone is going to blame my being single on some character flaw of mine, then they can move on. I will not apologize for not settling.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Flashback Friday - my Best Friend ever



I met K back in 1985. We were auditioning for a show together. I thought he was incredibly hot! He talked to me a little, but I was too nervous at the time. Later, he told me he thought I was stuck-up and cold...which only made him like me more :).

We lived on opposite sides of the city (a true east vs west story...made even more difficult by the fact that neither of us was old enough to drive yet) so our relationship, once the show was over, was phone calls and letters. He wrote a great letter!

Eventually, we gave up on trying to be boyfriend/girlfriend, but still remained close friends. We enjoyed each other's company so much, and never ran out of topics for conversation. We always respected each other's space and own lives, but by this time, had made a commitment to each other to always be close friends. It's a commitment that still holds true today.

When I was 18, I was out on my own, living in a studio dump (which I loved) just off of Hollywood Boulevard. K and I still talked often, and saw each other sometimes. We'd made plans for him to come over and hang out on a Saturday night; this was on a Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I learned that I was getting on a plane to Miami on Friday to begin rehearsals for my cruise ship gig. I was so excited, called K (who also had good news; he'd left a message for me that he'd gotten the part of the Wolf in Into the Woods - a performance I'm still sorry I missed), and canceled our "date." Which was sort of a date. We'd already talked about the idea of trying again as a couple. But there was so much to be done. I had to get a passport, pack, close up the apartment, talk my parents into keeping my cat, and go go go.

I spent the next 5 weeks living in a hotel room in Miami. I wrote K a 7-page letter while I was there. We were going back to our letter-writing days.

About a month after being on the cruise ship, I started a cruise ship romance. What was supposed to be a cruise ship romance anyway. Had I not been young and stupid, that's all it would've been.

The day after I started this new relationship, I got a letter from K, where he told me he'd planned to propose to me on that Saturday night. I literally hit my head on the wall behind me.

When I came back from the cruise ship, I was happily in love, waiting for my man to join me. K and I saw each other from time to time. He was one of the few men I've known who only truly wished me happiness, and if that meant someone else, he was not going to stop being my friend.

Needless to say, the cruise ship romance did not last. Of course, by that time, K had moved on to his own long-term relationship. We remained friends through it all.

Then came the father of my children. And the moves. And the children. K and I would go months without talking to each other, and then one of us would pick up the phone and the other would say, "I was just thinking about you." And we'd catch each other up, and laugh about anything and everything and nothing. I'd call him and cry...he'd listen, never judge, never criticize - but occasionally give me a much-needed kick in the rear. I lost count years ago of the times I uttered, "what would I do without you?"

Whenever I was in town, he'd be there. When I moved back permanently 5 years ago, he was there. He took me out for my first much-needed night of drinking. And took care of me when I lost control! He's spent evenings with me and the girls, helping them with homework, watching them sing and dance, and then keep me up WAY too late talking! There are still occasions when I call him with tears in my eyes, and he's still there for me every time. He even baby-sat a few times when I was in school and my parents were out of town. When I moved back into the condo, he was there helping to move a fridge, and going to the grocery store with us, and we all watched "High School Musical" (1 and 2) together.

When he broke up with his long-time girlfriend, of course everyone wanted to know why we weren't now together (even my own daughters). We'd made jokes for years about timing and Destiny hating us, and all sorts of excuses. We talked about it a few months ago, and came up with a list of about 5 reasons why we're not together. The last is really the most important, though. We just don't want to be! We're perfectly content with our relationship as is.

(Although, he did scare the heck out of me the other day. He was talking about his plans for himself over the next year and added at the end, "and then I'm going to marry you." My response, "oh, really?" had him busting up laughing, and I joined in. We agreed, we both needed that!)

We've never had a fight. Not in 22 years. Disagreements? Sure. But we've never been angry with each other, nor have either of us ever doubted our commitment and our love for one another.

Neither of us have made out too well in the marriage-type relationship aspect of life, but we've always had each other's love, respect, and friendship. And we always will.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

In Praise of Purses

OhMommy posted about her purse, and tagged all of us to show and tell.

I used to be "a bag is a bag" kind of person. Until a friend started selling the Beijo Bags and I got hooked. Ain't it purty?



I'll go ahead and 'fess up that this one is just a week old for me, so it's not filled yet with too much junk. There's the inevitable checkbook and wallet (a Beijo wallet, but I couldn't handle it being too matchy-matchy so it's a different color):



And the rest of it:



Let me explain the gum. I actually have a pet peeve about gum; I totally hate it. However, I'm also an idiot and accidentally purchased gum instead of breath mints. To remind myself that I'm an idiot, and in hopes of not making the same mistake twice (which would make me an insane idiot), I'm making myself chew the gum and finish it before I buy breath mints. The good news? I finished today! The bad news: I forgot to go to Starbucks.

You'll also note the lack of cosmetics. It's not that I think I look great without them; it's just that I give up. After I put on a little foundation and eye shadow in the morning, I'm totally done with it, and avoid mirrors for the rest of the day.

The Aleve is an absolute necessity. It's the only thing that works on my frequent headaches. The sunblock is mainly for the girls - I'm so glad that's pretty much all I have to carry for them anymore! The lip balm gets used when I remember I have it.

I love the cell phone pockets that are now the norm for purses:



As much as I'm sure you were all just dying to see what's in my purse, I had a reason for wanting to do this particular post.

I have a colleague that is very jealous of the fact that women get to carry purses. As much as I can rant about gender inequalities, I got to admit, we do have the upper hand when it comes to this. He's been searching for a man-bag for a few years now, and still can't find one that doesn't make him look stupid. When it comes to what is acceptable for us to tote our must-haves, I very much enjoy being a girl! Praise the purse!