Friday, November 19, 2010

My Apologies, My Blog Has Gone Wonky

Okay, what do I do?  According to my dashboard the posts I were referring to did NOT publish.  
Yet, they show up in Google Alerts.

Did you guys get two weird posts prior to this one?  Tonight?
Again, I blame blogger and my apologies.

The last two posts were not yet to see the light of publishing.

I blame blogger of course.

I will try to post something you can actually read tomorrow.

Nighty night.

Monday, November 8, 2010

If Only High School Was As Fun As The Reunion

Despite the childish insecurities that reared their freakish heads here days before the event, I walked away from my 30th high school reunion wishing I could do high school all over again.  I wanted a do over!

You read that right.

I know.  It’s strange.  Particularly because when I was in high school I could not wait to get the hell out.  I spent hundreds of hours daydreaming about moving away and starting my life fresh and the summer after graduation, I packed my luggage and with the few mementos I held dear and off I went. 

I never looked back.

Yet, years later, here I was having the time of my life with the very people I couldn’t wait to escape and judging from the youthful squeals, tight embraces, and toothy smiles, everyone in the room was feeling the same way. 

Thanks to Facebook the rough edges of the reunion-rite-of-passage were smoothed over before we got there.  The social network provided a safe, casual forum for us to reacquaint and reveal so that by the day of the event internet familiarity quickly turned into genuine intimacy. Thirty years had knocked the wind out of the puffy chests and tugged away at the coats of armor, leaving behind a congenial and forthright group who, for at least one night, all drank happily from the same nostalgic kool-aid.

I liken the friendships made in high school to those made during summer camp, natural disasters, even war;  all products of battle creating bonds perhaps easily forgotten but never broken. With only a few exceptions, I have rarely been in a room where I felt a deep connection to so many.  I know this was, in part, an illusion.  These people don’t really know me now, they didn’t really know me then, but they know where I’m from, they know how I began, and having lived 30 years and thousands of miles away, I realized that night, that counts for a lot.

It’s a curious feeling but in the week that followed my reunion, I felt more grounded.  Rooted.  Whole.  Like missing pieces of an unfinished puzzle had finally slid into their rightful place. Corny, I know.  But true. I also felt sad, regretting friendships and fun that could have been,  time I wasted misunderstanding and being misunderstood. 

But I  have no regrets about going to my 30th.  In fact, I highly recommend it.  If nothing else, it can serve as emotional closure.  It’s enlightening.  It’s fun.  It’s a chance to focus solely on you (the single you, the you sans obligation) which in my world, and I suppose many of yours, is a rare opportunity indeed. 

I look forward to my 40th.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reunion Scoop Comes Later...

...although I will say this, I am totally glad I went.  I'll leave you hanging in suspense beyotch that I am...

Meanwhile, I read this essay by Kathryne Young in the most recent Glimmer Train.  It hit close to home as I am at this very moment, and for the last few days,  trying to resume my writer's life which has been on hold since June.  (Hence the break to READ about WRITING, heh.)

I thought it worthy for those of you who may share my pain...

Article got cut off so here is the link.  Enjoy.

On Writing, Not Writing, and the Writing Life Follow glimmertrain on Twitter

Writers are a ragtag, scattered bunch. We scribble things on napkins, on receipts, squirrel them away in pockets, in folders, in cigar boxes. In her essay, "On Keeping a Notebook," Joan Didion writes, "The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself." My mother told me something similar when I was young: you don't get to choose whether you're a writer; your only choice is whether to be a writer who writes or a writer who doesn't. What she didn't tell me then, though I'm certain she knew, is that if you're a writer and you're not writing, you will never quite be happy.
After I finished my MFA program, I wrote almost no fiction for four years. Life, as they say, was getting in the way: law school, divorce, teaching, coming out. The obstacles to writing are different in every case, but they are also the same. They are urgent, and tap our physical, emotional, financial, and intellectual resources. We tell ourselves we'll have more time soon: on the weekend, in the summer, in the winter, when the baby stops teething, when the conference is over, when we get tenure, when the house is tidy.
I started writing again when I started reading again. Haruki Murakami, Amy Bloom, Paul Auster, Miranda July, Aravind Adiga, and Don Delillo beckoned me back with their alluring characters, plights at once believable and fantastic. I listened to audiobooks on my commute; I took a solo vacation on which I did little but hike and read. When I read great things, I can't help but want to write. I began scribbling things down in a notebook again. I went back to stories I'd started years earlier. I started some new ones.

I'd like to think that my writing self is different from the self who stands in front of sociology undergraduates and dutifully lectures them about qualitative research methods. I'd like to believe she is wiser, wistful, more creative, and that she comes out of hiding on certain early mornings when the time is right and the coffee is rich and hot, that she writes a few stunning pages and slips back into bed while my other self drives into Palo Alto to make a living. Perhaps this division appeals to me because it makes me feel less guilty when I haven't written anything in a month: only my writing self can write, and she's moody. If the conditions aren't perfect, she can't be expected to emerge.

But in the end, there is only me and my busy, imperfect life. The days that I write are victories. And even after the most discouraging, least productive sessions, I never regret writing. I learn over and over that time spent writing is time well spent.
"Roadrunner" is a special story to me because it's the first thing I managed to write after my four-year dry spell. I started the story in my MFA program, but my first drafts were terrible (no climax, no development; nothing happened). I plucked it from the drawer years later because at 29, I'd finally signed up for a writing workshop again, but wasn't ready to start something from scratch. Reworking my words, understanding the protagonist, peeling away layers of the story to find its core—these things did not come easily, but they felt like coming home.
Life is short, but by God's grace, for most of us it is also long. This gives us a great deal of time to follow Samuel Beckett's famous imperative to fail, fail again, and fail better. To succeed, we have to fail. To fail, we have to try. To try, we have to put ourselves on the line—risk freezing our limited, myopic worldviews onto the page for everyone to scoff at. We don't "discover" our writing selves. We build ourselves into writers by realizing that our busy, imperfect lives are the writing life.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Forgive Me...and H-E-L-P

 photo courtesy of google images

Okay, I suck.

It's been a while.
Months in fact.
I didn't forget any of you.  I just, I just...

I just suck.

But, I come to you today, my dear blogger friends, not only to apologize for abandoning the blogosphere (I do apologize - though I dare not guarantee you it won't happen again), but to ask all of you for your help and support. (Greedy bitch, I bet you're thinking, who does she think she is.)

I know - I SUCK.  But I'm kinda desperate.

You see, this weekend I am embarking on a trip back in time.  Back home.  To the East Coast.  My 30th high school reunion.  Yes.  Gag.  30th. High school.  Reunion.

And...well... I'm nervous. Because despite the fact that I've grown into what I believe is a good person with a full life, great friends and an incredible family, I still wonder when I walk into that room...
Will anyone like me?


This is not me!  This insecurity, the feelings of inadequacy, the misfit-ness.  This is the person who I was.  Or, at least, who I thought I was.  I don't know... And do I need to know?  Why do all these feelings have to surface just because I'm about to see people I haven't seen in 30 years?  People who mean nothing to me today? 

Or do they?

Facebook.   Suddenly, with the upcoming event, classmates are popping up out of nowhere.  Creaky doors to decades gone by are slowly opening, drawing me into their darkened space.  I can feel the power swelling.  Will what's inside be a pleasure... or a Pandora's box?   

I'm not sure I want to reunite with the old me.  Who was the old me anyway?  I'm about to see her in classmate's eyes, hear about her in their recollections.  Did I know her as well as I thought I did?  Was she better or worse than the figment of my imagination?  What DID people think of me?   What WILL people think of me?  Will my hair look okay? 

I have paid too much money and spilled my guts to too many highly-trained strangers for all this emotional sludge to be backing up on me now.   I am waaaaay too old and tired for these pubescent spirals.

Please, I beg of you, oh-so-wise- blogger friends, offer me some pearls of wisdom so that I may walk into this magical mystery time warp the sane, self-confident woman that I am today.

Or am I?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blogging from the Holy Land

Though ive been MIA from the blogosphere of late, I wanted to stop by and say hello from the Holy Land.

Yes. That's right. I'm in Israel. Sufficiently jet-lagged (my husband surprised me with a last minute business class upgrade but when my son started crying at the thought of me being 10 rows up and a closed curtain away I decided to stay with him in coach and gave my luxurious seat/bed to my daughter.) What else could I do? I'm a sucker for my kids tears. Anyway, he knows he owes me big and now my daughter will have to love me forever. Right? Right? Not to mention the sweet gesture on hubby's part.

And now that i've stuffed myself with hummus,(omg, the hummus and falafel are so good here!), dipped my toes in the Mediterranean, and done exactly whatI was told not to do when I arrived (napped), I am wide awake at bedtime (brunch time in Los Angeles), and blogging. (will wonders never cease).

We are here for two weeks and I hope to post pix and stories of our discoveries.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Out Of The Mouth Of My Babe

After his friend left our house, my son kept complaining he felt ill despite his body and appetite remaining active.  As he was dropping off to sleep our conversation went like this:

Him: (whine)  I don't know why I'm not feeling well, Mom.

Me:  I don't know either, honey.  Especially considering that you were still able to play basketball and eat an ice cream sundae.

Him: (matter-of-fact, whine)  I didn't eat it with joy like I usually do.

I love that kid.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Formerly Hot - Not. But I Still Relate To This Woman's Tale

This was sent to me today and while I don't normally promote anything on my blog, much less another writer's work, I am making an exception today.

It's a post from a fellow blogger  (that is as far as our relationship goes).  Her name is Stephanie Dolgoff and she writes at the blog, Formerly Hot.  I totally related to this post (all except for the "hot" part because while I was attractive in my 20's, I was most definitely not being hit on left and right and not one time did a man follow me off of mass transit to ask for my number). 

 "I call myself a Formerly, because I'm Formerly what I was, but not quite sure yet what I am. I'm not young, but neither am I old. I'm an adult tween, caught in all the awkwardness that would imply."

I loved this line!  Particularly as the mother of a tween girl, I can relate. 
She gets me!  If she were a guy, I'd follow her off of mass transit for her number...

Seriously, this is a fun, accurate read.  (I wish I'd written it.)  This woman actually makes me feel good (for now) about being 48.  Stephanie Dolgoff is a talented and funny writer.  If you like SATC style and humor, read her post.  She's coming out with a book in August.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jimmy Fallon Does A Better Mick Jagger Than Mick

This made me smile and love Jimmy Fallon (and Mick) a little bit more.

Enjoy your weekend.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Slaves For A Day: My Best Mother's Day

Would love to post today but I'm too busy:
  • Laying in bed despite the 11:00 hour
  • Eating breakfast in bed and reading the NYT
  • Looking at my new iPad trying to decide whether to keep it or not
  • Calling downstairs for someone to clear my plate
  • Listening to my husband wash the dishes
  • Thinking about all the things I DON'T have to do today
 And smiling...

Happy Mother's Day to all.  Hope yours is as good as mine.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yummy Makes Me Want To Puke: A Merlotmom Rant

Okay.  Will someone please tell me when the word yum, and yummy became the mainstay of this nation's culinary vocabulary?  I mean, do I have Rachel Ray to thank for that.  YUM-O!!!! 


Truly.  There's an app by that name, a song title by that name, a cupcake bakerymac software, a grocery store.  Must I go on???

If I see one more email from a school parent describing the yummy snacks desired for a class party or one more flier screaming out in exclamation points about the yummy treats for sale at the community event I am going to take some of my own YUMMY goodies AND SHOVE THEM UP SOMEONE'S SUPER YUMMY A**!

I detest this word.  What are we?  Babies?  Mommies feeding babies?  "Open up the choo choo, honey, here comes some yummy mashed up chicken and peas!"  Blech.  For god's sake.  Can we give up the charade and sound like the adults we are for a change?  PLEASE?!

Even tasty goes down better than yummy

I declare a moratorium on yum, yummy, and any derivatives thereof.

Anybody with me?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Should You Ban Your Teen From Social Networking?

*photo courtesy of google images

Many of you readers have children too young for this to be of concern -  YET.  Trust me, it will be a HUGE concern to you sooner than you know. 

I was intrigued, though sadly not shocked, when I came upon this Huff Post article about a principal suggesting parents ban social networking access from their teenagers.  My interest was especially peaked because the daughter of one of my dearest friends is a recent victim of cyber-bullying.  My heart goes out to my friend everyday as she is in the throes of talking with the principal as well as legal authorities to determine the best action to take against the offender.  (Not to mention how to handle the emotional repercussions for her daughter.)

Cyber-bullying is all too common these days. We've seen it most recently in the story of Phoebe Prince.  I think it's worse than the traditional "playground" bullying we experienced because online anonymity breeds a braver, fiercer foe.  And if you think cold viruses spread fast on campus, try sneezing out a few vitriolic germs online, they multiply faster than you can say H1N1.

I've given this a lot of thought.  My immediate opinion upon reading the article was to disagree with the principal in New Jersey who pleaded with parents to ban their middle-school aged kids from all social networking sites.  I don't believe it's realistic. Like trying to force abstinence - it's a nice thought, we all wish it could work,  but short of the ain't really gonna happen.  But that's a whole other box of condoms...

My first thought was to agree with the commenter who said that since we teach our kids proper social behavior in other places where we have less supervision than the home: church, temple, school, friend's homes, why not teach proper etiquette for the internet as well.  Education.   Of course, not every kid listens to their parents but where would we be if we didn't try.  Right?  Social networking is a new frontier albeit a dangerous one, but as someone said in the article, the danger comes less from where most parents think it does, the sexual offender lurking in public chat rooms, than from people in your child's own circle of online "friends".

Makes sense.

But then I remembered what I said to my friend when she called desperate for what to say and do with her teenager who had gotten into trouble that was quickly inflamed on the internet. And what I said was, "Take her off EVERYTHING!  Facebook, Twitter, everything."  I had the same reaction as the principal whose thoughts I was rejecting only minutes ago.  Hmmm....I gave it more thought.

And I've come up with what I think is comfortable for me.  I'm going to keep allowing my middle school child to use the internet and social networking sites AS LONG AS I have access to monitor her communication and AS LONG AS her behavior is acceptable to me.  In other words, the internet will be a privilege she will have to earn and keep earning.  As far as the people she "hangs out with" online, if I find their behavior to be unacceptable, she will have to un-friend them.  It's not perfect.  I know.  I can't control other kids out there, whether on the internet, at school, wherever.  Things can happen even with my system of checkpoints.  But do I think it's fair for me to ban her from a social lifeline the likes of what the telephone was to me and my peers as a teenager?  No.

So what do parents do?

Education, like the commenter said.  How/when/how much to use the internet is the parents' responsibility.  (And, I believe, should be the school's as well but considering the serious struggle just keeping teachers on staff these days I highly doubt that is gonna happen). 

Monitor.  Monitor.  Monitor.

Get the parental controls.  Keep the technology out of the bedroom.  I LOVE the idea from the article of hoarding all the technology in a central place overnight - one where the teenager can't get access.  It's not perfect, I know.  Kids will get around it, I know.  But I believe if you cut your teenager off ENTIRELY from something that is central to their social identity, you are asking for them to become even more clever than you at finding ways to subvert your authority.  And, trust me, push them up against a wall, and they will.

Think back to when you were a teenager...okay, don't.  As a parent...way too scary...

What would you do?  Do you think banning social technology from your teen is the way to go?  How are you keeping them safe from cyber-bullying and internet harm?

I'd really like to know...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Agave Is The New Enemy: Can We Even Eat Healthy Anymore?

I am a conscientious healthy eater.  I've given up caffeine.  I drink mostly water and decaf green tea.  Having inherited high cholesterol, I've given up eating red meat on a regular basis, eat more whole grains, lean protein, yogurt, and fruits and veggies up the wazoo.  My only vice is dark chocolate which I know is a super food but probably not in the quantities I inhale eat it.  My fridge is always stocked with blueberries, my pantry with walnuts.  I'm making myself sick (not literally) by trying to eat healthy.  My only vice is an occasional glass of wine (i've cut back since the naming of my blog).

Truly, I really wasn't missing much eating whole foods and I discovered surprising treats like roasted kale chips.  Yum.   I didn't go totally nuts, allowing myself the occasional treat of cupcakes or such, so it really wasn't as bad as it sounds. 

I thought I was doing everything I could.  The do-gooder in me was proud.

Until yesterday...

When I saw this...

Agave?  The healthy alternative?  As bad for you as the sinister high fructose corn syrup?  WTF?

I have been putting agave in my tea, my yogurt, on my wheat toast, I practically bathe in the sweet nectar.  I've converted my kids from sugar to this supposedly healthy alternative.   

Now this?  How is a girl supposed to get her sugar fix these days?

The author of the above article also says too much fruit can have the same effect as high fructose corn syrup.  WTF?  One mango can bring you above the limit according to him.


Anyone else think this healthy living thing is getting out of hand?  Sheesh.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

California's Education Is Circling The Drain

It's tragic how accurate this fictional video is:

Please sign the petition and call Arnold.  Say you OPPOSE these cuts.  PLEASE.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bullying - It Takes A Village.

I was interviewed here yesterday on the subject of bullying.  The producer of the show sought me out because of this post she found on my blog.  My son's aggressive behavior which was of concern to me in the post was not chronic (which I think would have better suited the show's purposes) but they liked what I had to say on the subject and how I said it so they invited me on the show.

Let's see...

Lisa Belkin/Motherlode blogger - ALSO LOVE
WNYC - hometown radio, LOVE

After initial jitters and concerns, I was in.

Since the interview, I've been reading the discourse from commenters here and here and here and it's obvious that bullying and the extent to which parents are responsible for it is a heated and thorny subject.  A majority of the commenters feel that having a bully for a child is solely the fault of the parent, whether through modeling or encouraging of bad behavior or through ignorance of their child's action or whereabouts.  I have more to say than was possible on the radio so I thought I'd say it here and then open up the floor for discussion.

First let me say, that though the radio show labeled me as the "mother of a bully" (I'm still wincing), what didn't get revealed was that, as a teenager, I was the victim of bullies (three different sets of them).  Once in summer camp where I was placed on trial in front of a jury of my peers who judged me guilty and then silently and wickedly tormented me (as girls do) for the remaining two weeks of camp.  Once in junior high when a group of my friends (including my very best friend who suddenly became popular) turned on me and made my life miserable causing me to fake illness many a day so I wouldn't have to face them.  And then again in high school when I joined in with a group of kids who spent more time hanging out smoking pot in the back of school than studying.  When I realized I'd rather get good grades than good weed I stopped hanging out with them and they took it as a rejection (which, I guess, it was). 

For most of my junior year I was verbally teased, taunted and threatened by them.   They called me J.A.P., snob, and scolded me publicly for thinking I was better than them.  For months, I found different ways to get from class to class and quiet places to eat lunch just to stay out of their range.  One Saturday night they called my house at 2am, drunk, threatening that if I showed up at school that Monday they'd push me into an open locker and lock me in.   My parents eavesdropped on the call and it was at that point that I finally told them what was going on.  Before that I WAS TOO EMBARRASSED to do so.  My father gave me a wrench to put in my purse and instructed me to hit them with it if they came near me.  They didn't.  But they continued their bullying and I made light of it at home not wanting my parents to get further involved and risk me additional humiliation. 

During the last days of school, during NY Regent Exams, I was exiting the building after a test and walking to my car alone.  Some of the girls, my ex-friends, appeared behind me and started in with the usual taunting.    What wasn't usual about this time, what upped the ante, was that they had with them a new friend, a six foot tall, heavyweight, black kid whom I'd never seen before, yet who seemed to hate me every bit as much as the girls did.  I said a few words, telling them to back off and stepped up my pace to the parking lot.  They too sped up and before I knew it the big guy was throwing eggs at me.  I made it to my car and as I pulled out of the lot covered in yolks and tears, I watched as they huddled, convulsed in tears of their own, of laughter.

So I know what bullying is about first-hand.    I am sensitive to it.  I do not role model this behavior for my child and I do not condone it.   Yet my son was acting like one anyway.  That is why I was so concerned at the first sign of his unacceptable behavior and why I sought help from my blog readers, our coaches, and some professionals.  That is why this argument from commenters about parents of bullies being bullies and encouraging bullying behavior incenses me.

You cannot just blame the parents.  Remember Hillary Clinton and IT TAKES A VILLAGE - well it does.  It takes the parents, the school administrators, camp counselors, after-school coaches, and any other adult your child comes in contact with in their busy life.  If you have this kind of support you could be in good shape, but even with it, I feel that the argument the commenters are making forgets one very important thing - the influence of your child's peers.  Notice how I don't say friends.  A teenager is often more influenced by a kid they don't like - a more popular kid, better athlete, dangerous kid - than ones they do.  Teens operate out of wanting to belong and out of fear.  So while I think parents have "control" over their kids when they're young, they lose it as the children become teens and their actual hands-on, day to day involvement becomes less, and the outside influences of their peers becomes more. 

I believe as parents it is our job to teach them to be good moral people with compassion, empathy, sensitivity and respect.   But I also believe that as they grow older and gain independence we have to (to some extent) cross our fingers, hope they listened, and hope for the best. 

Your child is a part of you, they are OF you, but they are NOT you.  Even the best parents cannot be with their children at all times, nor should they, and even the best parents do not have ultimate control over their child's thoughts and behaviors.

It would be wonderful, comforting, and easy to think we do but we don't.   I am not arguing that some parents in some situations are, in fact, responsible for their child's bad behavior for the reasons mentioned by some commenters.  But I do argue with the statement that ALL parents of ALL bullies are bullies themselves and I think that those who believe this are wrapping themselves into a nice, warm, cocoon of false security.  It can't happen to me because I'm not like that. 

Obviously I am passionate about this.  What about you?  Share your opinion but please be civil.  We are all adults here, not bullies.  :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Merlotmom On The Radio!

(Sorry, the link doesn't seem to be working.  Click on the Takeaway link below if you'd like to hear the interview.)

 You guys know how much I love NPR and PRI so when the radio show, THE TAKEAWAY on WNYC asked me to speak with Lisa Belkin, author of the NYT blog, The Motherlode (also a favorite), how could I refuse?

They'd read this old post of mine and in light of the Phoebe Prince tragedy, asked me to comment.  I think I sound okay considering it was 3:45am my time.

BTW, is that really what my voice sounds like???  Strange.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

I try to instill confidence in my children every chance I get.

Not to the point where they don't deserve it or start to feel entitled but coming from someone who had little confidence in herself until she hit middle age, I'm particularly sensitive to my kids feeling good about themselves as early in life as possible.

On the surface, my son appears to be confident.  He's social, smart and a good athlete.  In spite of this, I know he is not.  He is sensitive, uncertain, and easily defeated and angry with himself when he does not perform well at something. 

He refuses to play team sports.  Over the years, we forced him to play but little by little we gave up.  Basketball, Baseball, Soccer.  He still plays at school and at home but playing on a team made him (and us) so miserable with the screaming and crying that we finally gave up.    (Though we have held fast on martial arts despite the temper tantrums.)

My husband would like for him to play on teams again.  I would too but don't want to ruin his love of the sport  (or deal with the madness.)   But recently, he played with a pro basketball player who, I was told, took him aside and told him how good he was.  The coach asked why he wasn't playing competitively and gently chided him for wasting his talent, encouraging him to join a team.  When I pressed my son about it, he said "the guy only said that 'cause everyone else  playing with me sucked."

After telling him that was not true, I stepped back. 

His words sounded vaguely, disturbingly familiar...

Then today, I got an email from a radio station wanting to interview me based on one of my blog posts.  My immediate thought was to say no.  Why would they want to talk to me?  I asked myself.  I'm no expert on anything.  After talking to my husband and a friend, I called.    The producers didn't want an expert.  They wanted a parent.    Great.  Fine.  I thought.  I can do that.  I'm one of those.  But, later, as I let my insecurities seep in,  I couldn't help but wonder, why me?  Did they have so few choices?

A few years ago, I sent an essay in to Newsweek on a whim.  I expected a formatted, impersonal rejection to arrive weeks or months later.  The next day I received an email saying they wanted to publish my essay within the next three weeks.  (Which they did here.)  After jumping up and down and screaming with excitement, my next thought was "I guess they didn't have many submissions this week."

Vaguely, disturbingly familiar... 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Checking For Toilet Paper

I'm on my way back to the OB/GYN today.  Just for a routine check-up but you can be sure this time I'll be making sure my lady parts are free of any wiping detritus.  Ugh.  It still makes me a little nauseous thinking about it.

Anyway, so sorry I haven't been around the blogosphere of late.  I know everyone else manages, I guess I'm just one of those people who can only focus on a few things at a time and lately it's been my kids, my writing, prepping a Passover Seder, etc.   It seems like I'm on a once-a-month blogging schedule these days.  Pathetic.  I really have to do better.

The seder was great, thank you for asking.  I am a pretty good cook when I put my mind to it (cooking, too, falls of the grid, like blogging.)  At least now I have frozen matzoh ball soup to last me the next few weeks.  Thank g-d.  Something my kids can eat that doesn't produce dirty pots and pans.

I do want you to know that regardless of my physical absence from the webz,  I do miss you guys a lot and check your blogs frequently to catch up on your comings and goings.

I'm off now to spend a day with the family (and get my hoo-ha probed).  Sounds like fun, no?  Full day, for sure.  I'll let you know if anything mortifying happens.

Have a great holiday weekend.  We are back to school on Monday.  Boo/Yay!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Life Gets In the Way of Blogging - Again

Oops! I forgot I had a blog...again.

Silly me.

Literally, the fact that I have a blog just disappears from my brain for weeks and then suddenly it's, oops, oh yeah...

It's been an emotionally hectic few weeks here. On one black Friday two weeks ago, I picked up my ringing phone, not once, but three times to hear that someone we knew had died. All were sad, one, of a 13 year old girl, was particularly shocking, heart-breaking and senseless.

I spent that weekend in a fog, detached, zombie-like, capable of feeling only for fictional characters I watched in an endless loop of movies.

After that weekend, any surplus energy I had was channeled into wishing a successful outcome for my friends' six year old son who entered the hospital for his THIRD open heart surgery. He is doing well so far, he is a bad-ass fighter, but as you can imagine it is a long, winding road to recovery. I think about my friends every day and do what I can for them but can't help feeling like it's never enough.

Not since I was a kid have I so badly wished to possess superpowers.

Other than that, and some minor, mostly irritating, illnesses on the home front, we are thankfully doing fine. What is keeping me sane is my writing, though NOT on this blog OBVIOUSLY. My fiction. It has been my sanity.

So, forgive me, for forgetting about my blog.
I so appreciate my readers though it may not seem that way.

I will return soon with some (hopefully) funny and (most definitely) embarrassing tales to tell.

Hope you are all well. I am reading your blogs even if I'm not tending to my own!

Have a great weekend.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Am Such A Mutha

 Abe's New Home
(he's in the right corner hiding behind the plastic plant, he's shy)

As of today, I am now the reluctant, too-weak-to-say-no beaming and proud mother of a fish.  His name is Abraham Lincoln.

Good ol' Abe is a take-home gift from my son's science class.  I was told he'd be bringing home a Betta fish.  So,  excellent mother that I am, I drove the twenty minutes to Petco and spent $30+ on a tank, gravel, food, plants, and water conditioner.  Then I drove twenty minutes back to school to pick up the new bundle of wiggly joy and bring it home.

Only, the bundle was not a beautiful Betta, it was a gigunta goldfish.   


So, excellent mother that I am,  I took honest Abe in the car with me for another twenty minute ride to Petco. After the bag fell to the floor twice almost causing me to steer my minivan into opposing traffic,  and freaking out the now frenzied fish,  I drove with one hand and held the fragile ziploc with the other. I had this undeniable urge to protect lil Abe, keep his stress level nice and low.  Partly for the sake of lil Abe, partly for me - I didn't want to be the bearer of a  D.O.A.

Where was my son, you ask?

He, very conveniently, got invited to a sleepover that started right after school.  So all the promises he made when we agreed to add to our already pet-maxed home, to be responsible for the care and cleaning of the new addition...yes, well, as I risked my safety driving one-handed down winding roads all the way BACK to Petco for a fish I barely knew, I realized... I was the one who'd been taken for a ride.

(Will I ever learn?)

So instead of enjoying a free afternoon (and how often do I get that? umm, NEVER!),  reading or writing or watching a movie, my hours were spent making sure honest Abe had a sustainable and comfortable environment.  (What happened to the days of the bare fish bowl and toxic tap water...that's what I wanna know?)

And why do I care?  Well, I asked myself the same question and all I came up with was because ever since I gave birth, my maternal instincts no longer discriminate.

But I will draw the line at insects and snakes... TRY ME.

Mutha f*%k.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Vagina State of Mind: My Humiliating Visit to the OB/GYN

I broke new ground with my OB/GYN the other day.  He's been my doctor for 16 years.  Delivered both my babies.  We're kinda intimate, ya know?

But during a routine visit a few days ago, we explored a new frontier in our doctor/patient not yet (or hopefully ever to be) explored with my husband.

Now, let me just say, my doctor is only a few years older than me and he is CUTE.  I was not beyond crushing on him big time during my pregnancies and I looked forward to my monthly visits with him with...perhaps...a bit too much enthusiasm.

But that was THEN (i.e. before babies when I had a sex drive) and this is NOW (i.e. after babies when...well...I could give a fuck (no pun intended). breaking new ground...

And let me just say...before you read on...that everything of which I speak was on a totally professional level.  No inappropriate moves were made and if I were less little house on the prairie about this sort of thing, I might not have even thought it was strange... a natural evolution between a girl and her doctor perhaps...but...

...yesterday, during my OB/GYN and I got to talking about my vagina and I asked if it was dying.   (remember this post?)

He said no.  I had a perfectly, healthy vagina.

And after experiencing a brief moment of pride relief,  he... he... he asked me do something with him that I've never had the nerve, or desire, to do with my husband. . . 

...he asked me to...


(taking a breath...)

Okay, I admit, there have been a few times in my life when I sneaked a peek at the ol' lady garden...but it was usually after a bath and always in private.  When I was young I looked because I was curious what all the commotion was about.  Later, when I knew and no longer cared, I only looked for practical reasons.  Of course, there was that horrifying beautiful and magical time when the doctor put up the mirror just before my son was born (what is it with OB's and these damn mirrors?).   I vowed then and there (after I stopped screaming) never to look at my womanhood close up - EVER AGAIN.  (I mean, the guys can look, they like that sort of thing.  Me, I'd just as soon take a pass.)

But here I was...different mirror...same man... same vagina.  And if it wasn't embarrassing enough watching him poke around my nether region, I was soon to become full-blown humiliated as I listened to him talk and watched his finger in the mirror... in horror... as it slowly, casually passed over, time and time again...

... an inch-long piece of toilet paper glued to my inner sanctum.

Look here, he said, totally disregarding what I could not take my eyes off of.   
See this?  he asked, pointing to something NOT the thing that looked like surgical tape stuck to my formerly pretty, pink privates.

Oh, I saw it all right.  

It was like 7th grade health class but instead of the class snickering while the teacher pointed his stick at some overhead projection of some generic diagram,  they were snickering while the teacher pointed  his stick AT ME...and the CHARMIN ULTRA stuck to my hoo ha. 

I was a living, breathing, adolescent anxiety dream.

I made light of it, as I always do when I'm uncomfortable.  I cracked jokes.  But my doc didn't care about the toilet paper (I guess I wasn't his first).  He was trying to teach me something and since I've always prided myself on being a good student, I tried to listen. 

But SHIT.  Who was I kidding?

I mean COME ON!

So, after yesterday, I'm pretty sure it will be a while before I explore my lovely, feminine field again.

Until then, hubby, it's all yours!

*photo courtesy of google images

Friday, February 5, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around

When I was a kid, I spent my Friday nights eating Lays potato chips with a side of Oreos watching The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family.

Later, in high school and college, I was too busy using mind-altering substances (and then eating Lays potato chips with a side of Oreos) to watch tv.  I was making my own entertainment;  some of which was award-winning, most of which were boring repeats.

Then, I got married and had kids and my Friday nights blended into every other night which meant eating Lays potato chips with a side of Oreos and falling asleep before prime time.

Now, with my kids old enough to entertain themselves and my husband busy somewhere else in the house with his own version of Friday night entertainment (hmmmm)  my idea of a perfect evening is to curl up ALONE in a hot bath with a glass of merlot and watch missed episodes of Cougar Town.

Now it's wine instead of junk food.  And TIVO instead of TGIF but you do see the similarities, right?  What goes around comes around.

Anyway, I HATED Cougar Town in the beginning.  I told everyone who'd listen that it was so obviously a man writing about what he thought a middle-aged woman would do and think and not really what we middle-aged woman would do and think.  AND THEN months later, out of boredom, I tuned in to some later episodes and... NOW I'M HOOKED.

It's my dirty little secret (shhhh....).  I LOVE THIS SHOW.  It's like candy without the cavities.  Tonight, I sat in the tub for over an hour, blissfully alone, shriveled, pruned, buzzed, and laughing out loud.

Okay, I'm pathetic.  Fine.  I admit it.  But the damn show makes me laugh.  And you have to admit Courtney Cox looks damn good at her (my) age.   And thus you think it's a total guilty pleasure, it has taught me one valuable lesson - to keep away from the botox seeing as when they smile, Courtney and Krista Miller can, for a fleeting moment, bring to mind those disturbing, life-size plastic dolls.

Anyway,  now that I'm done watching sexy people, wearing sexy clothes, and cracking sexy jokes,   I'm going to go look for my husband...

Could his/my Friday night get any better?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't Try This At Home

It is close to 8:30. 

I have just finished cleaning the kitchen. 
Homework is done. 
The kids are upstairs. 
All is QUIET on the domestic front.

I tell you this not to gloat, not to make you feel bad, but to tell you that THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

Normal by this time of night is my dogs barking, my son crying, and the tv blaring.
Normal by this time of night is my ears ringing, my chest tightening, and my throat stinging from screaming above it all.

No, this night is not normal.  Not normal at all.

My son did his homework without a fight.
No sibling snark was passed with the salt. 
No loud gas passed with the dessert.
We laughed.  We talked.
My daughter helped prepare tomorrow's lunch.
My son helped clean the kitchen.

Did you get that? 


I'm not talking a lame wipe of a greasy counter or a drying of a single dish.
Oh no,  I'm talking he


He wanted to do it. 
I'm still grinning from ear to ear.

I think I might have even climaxed a little  (maternally speaking, of course).

Okay, okay, so, yeah, he did it for a few bucks. 
He's saving up for a P.S.P.
I never said the kid was a saint.  Jeez.

 But who cares? 

I gotz me a helper in the kitchen.  Yay!

And if it costs me a few bucks, so what?

I gotz me a helper in the kitchen! Yay!

There I go climaxing again.
Forgive me.  I think many of you will understand...

But here's the best part.

The reason the earth-moved for me tonight (purely maternally speaking, get your minds out of the gutter people)... is that last night my son's attitude was so bad I took away his Wii and TV privileges for three days.

So you'd think I'd be smart enough to deduce... hey,

no tv + no wii = nice son



Because I may be smart enough... but that doesn't mean I'm strong enough.

I don't have the stamina to withstand the screaming and crying I will have to endure if I take away the tv and Wii on a permanent basis.

No matter how much better life is without it.
No matter how desperate I am for peace, and quiet, and satisfaction.  (the parenting kind...gutter...people!)

I've got only one more day and then it's back to normal.

Maybe he'll get in trouble again.

One can only hope.

*photo courtesy of Google Images

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sharing A Few Funnies

After a hike with my friend and our dogs on this gorgeous LA Sunday and a run to our local Farmer's Market, I just spent the last few minutes relaxing, watching these two clips and laughing out loud.
Nothing I say today can compete. 
So, if you haven't seen these yet, enjoy (and pardon the lead-in commercials, the skits are worth it.)
Have a great Sunday.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's Good To Get Out Once In A While

I forget how much I like my friends. 

I spend much of my time in solitude:  writing, in my car listening to NPR, walking with my dogs.  And when I'm not alone, I'm with my family. 

I'm not a total hermit.  There's plenty of time in the day with people around:  volunteering at school, carpool, play dates.  And I cherish Thursdays with my writing workshop where I am amongst a group of people whose interests are the same as my own - HEAVEN.  But, when the day is done: the dinner dishes cleaned, the next day's lunches made, the kids asleep, what I most likely haven't managed to do is connect with my friends.  Days, weeks, even months go by without talking to people I love. 

Someone once said, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."  I think it just makes you self-involved.

This is not an epiphany.  I just happen to be feeling it this morning after a particularly fun night with old friends that left me inebriated, suffering from insomnia, and emotional.

The thing about not getting out is that you forget there is a whole world out there full of interesting people who you like and who like you, too.  It seems I'm not alone in this.  That many of us, in our child-rearing years, between working and family responsibilities, suffer from the same inability to escape our fish bowls.

I wish I had an answer for this.  We all talked last night about having once-a-month rotating dinner parties.  (Of course, I suggested progressive parties, with grain alcohol, the likes of which I attended in college, but seeing how well I managed on just white wine, I think I'll reconsider).

I wish I could tell you (as I'm telling myself right now), that I'm going to be better about making plans with friends, better about calling them and my family, better about venturing outside of my bubble.  BETTER ABOUT BLOGGING. 

Right this moment, I WILL improve at all of those things.
Tomorrow, once this hangover has subsided and my emotions are once again pushed down beneath the usual daily hustle, who knows?

I'm off to fix myself a Bloody Mary and think about it.
Just kidding.

What do you do to stay connected with friends?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Andy Rooney's Ode to Women Over 40

I was sent this by a friend and thought it, if you missed it on 60 minutes as I did, it was well worth sharing in a blog post:

60 Minutes Correspondent Andy Rooney (CBS)   

As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all.  Here are just a few reasons why: 

A woman over 40 will  never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, 'What are you  thinking?'  She doesn't care what you think.  If a woman over  40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around  whining about it.   She does something she wants to do,  and it's usually more interesting.    Women over 40 are  dignified.  They  seldom have a screaming match with you  at the opera or in the middle of an expensive  restaurant.  Of  course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot  you if  they think they can get away with it.   Older women are  generous with praise,  often undeserved.   They know what  it's like to be unappreciated. Women get  psychic as they age.   You never have to confess your sins to a woman over  40.  Once you get past a  wrinkle or two, a woman over 40  is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright  and honest.  They'll tell you right off you are a jerk if  you are acting like one.   You don't ever have to wonder  where you stand with her..  Yes, we praise women over 40 for a  multitude of reasons.  Unfortunately, it's not  reciprocal.  For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot  woman over 40, there is a  bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants  making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress.  Ladies, I   apologize. 

For all those men who say, 'Why buy the  cow when you can get the milk for free?', here's an update for you.    Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage.  Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig  just to get a little sausage!   


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hey! It's merlotmom! Who?

It's been weeks since my last post.  Even BlogHerAds has deemed me a blogging sloth.  Oh, well.  I may be barely breathing in the blogosphere but in real life I am very much alive.

To prove it to you, here's what I did over this holiday weekend:

Flew to NYC for my SIL's wedding:

Lost my camera exiting the cab on the way to said wedding so took pix with my crappy iPhone:

Better that it's blurry, I have no idea if bride and groom want their picture on the internetz anyway.

Stayed in an apartment near Lincoln Center that's layout was a carbon copy of the one I lived in in Gramercy Park for six years  (cough, cough, twenty five years ago)

Do you have any idea how strange it is to be living with your husband and kids in what is essentially the same apartment you spent your SATC years (including the one night stands but excluding the designer outfits and shoes)? 

And then to top things off, I went back to the house in Long Island where I grew up

Which looks nothing like the red brick house I remember.  Unlike the town, which does look like I remember, just...older. 

And see this rock? 

I used to call this Plymouth Rock.  My sister and I used to CLIMB this rock.  CLIMB, as in Mt. Everest.   My sister says it must have sank into the ground because we both remember it as ginormous.

And after a busy weekend of celebrations and cerebral mind-f*cking,  we flew back to L.A.

Only to arrive in the middle of a thunderstorm and watch as my usually steady-as-a-rock husband white-knuckled the armrests and did his best imitation of Lamaze breathing while we pierced the thick, ominous clouds and circled above waiting for the precise point of entry.

Hey at least we weren't struck by lightning like these people!

And when we did get home safely (thank you American Airlines), my son and I put the finishing touches on his California Mission project (a long standing, well known tradition in fourth grade California curriculum) which was due today.

Not bad, huh?  I did help... just a little.

So, now you know what I've been busy doing even if it isn't blogging.
Not that anyone really cares, I just had fun sharing it.

So there my fellow bloggers.  Hope you've all been well.

Be back soon  (maybe).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reflections (Not Resolutions) on the Millenium Thus Far

It is the end of the first decade of the millenium.

Was is really ten years ago that I watched with friends as the ball dropped and we held our breath waiting for the Y2K destruction that never materialized?

Was it really twenty-one years ago that I left all my friends, family, and furniture behind in NYC to start anew in Los Angeles?

The older I get the more I understand the phrase time flies.  How can SO much time have passed?  I'm still in my early twenties for god's sakes ...

Except now I'm in my early twenties with a teenager.   And a boy who thinks he's a teenager.  And a husband I've been with for 19 years.  And my third and fourth Labradors, my first minivan (ugh. did you hear me, hubby, I said UGH?)... so many things have changed.

Yet one thing remains the same.

My dream of becoming a published writer.

I've had this same dream for... let's see.... computing... wait for it  ...


OMG!  Holy crap.  Time really does fly.


(BTW, my trash mouth... remains the same).

So, will 2010 be the year I finish my novel?  Will it be the year I start the book of essays I've been thinking about?  (Cause I'm getting really bored talking about it and you're probably getting really bored hearing about it.)

Stay tuned to see if this will be the decade when merlotmom finally achieves her life-long goal?

F*cking better be.

Tha's right.

But for now,  I'll just hope for a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year for my family and all of my friends.

My best to all of you.

(And if I give birth to a novel, I'll be sure to let you all know where I'm registered ;)  ...)


©2010 All rights reserved. Reproductions of any portion of this website only at the express permission of