I Want Judy to Be My BFF

Cathy and life-size standup Judy from Ralph's Supermarket jpg

I first met Judy about two years ago on a late-night trip to Ralph’s Supermarket. My son Jake was turning 7 years old the next day, and I had completely forgotten to buy cupcakes for his party at school. I was already in my bedtime sweatpants when I stumbled in, feeling like a very bad mom.

“Hi! I’m Judy!”

The fresh-faced 20-something greeted me at the entrance with a warm smile and somehow, I knew she understood. I wasn’t a bad mom. I was just a very very busy mom with an obvious case of early onset Alzheimer’s. Suddenly I felt much better, and I owe it all to Judy.

Judy is kind. She has a smile that lights up the world. And she’s always glad to see me.

Judy - Ralph's Supermarket life-size cutoutJudy is also a life-size cardboard mannequin permanently perched at the entrance of Ralph’s Supermarket.

I know that her name is Judy because she wears a nametag that says “Judy,” and I’m sure that she’s glad to see me because she’s standing in front of a sign that says “Welcome! Glad you’re here!”

Wow! Two exclamation points! I think she’s REALLY glad to see me!

It doesn’t matter if I’m jetting into Ralph’s at 6:00 am because I didn’t realize we ran out of Uncrustables and it’s the only sandwich my daughter Mary will eat for lunch. Or if I’m racing into the store 5 minutes after Jake’s friend Gabe’s birthday party started so I can grab a $25 gift card to Gamestop and tell myself he’d rather have that than a hand picked, gift wrapped present anyway.

Judge Judy might have her strong opinions about my mothering skills (or lack thereof), but my BFF Judy doesn’t judge me.

I can proudly walk up to the checkstand with a package of Depends because I can no longer jump on Jake’s trampoline without leaking a little bit. The checker might give me a “does she or doesn’t she” look. But Judy understands.

Express Lane - About 15 itemsJudy also doesn’t judge me when I’m in the about 15 items or less aisle with 16 or 17 items because the “about” clearly give you some leeway, which can be a bone of contention for some of the stick-up-their-butt cashiers who have been around since the stringent 10 items or less days.

Sometimes I even think Judy gives me a little wink – the kind a BFF might give you from across the room when you’re running in late and hope no one notices that you said you’d be there early this time, but you’re only 2 minutes late, which is actually early for you.

I love that little wink from Judy.

Or maybe the twinkle in her eye is just the flickering supermarket fluorescents.

Judy is often seen hanging with her friends Sharice and Andrew. Like Judy, they’re also 20-somethings with big smiles. I call them Judy’s BFFs, but they’re BFFs in a way that you’re friends with co-workers who you don’t really want to hang out with for longer than your lunch break while you badmouth the manager behind his back about his BO problem.Ralph's Supermarket sign with Sharice, Andrew and Judy

Sharice is African American with cool blonde streaks in her hair, and has a hip African American name that is pleasant but not too scary to white people who don’t think they’re bigots, but are afraid when they meet an African American with a name like Shaniqua or Tawanda.

Anthony is Hispanic (or Latino or Mexican, whatever the PC term is these days that Prius owners use instead of “beaner”), and his name is more ethnically generic than the expected José or Jesus (pronounced “Hey-soos” and not “Jee-zus” because saying “Hey Jee-zus, can you not pack the detergent on top of the kiwi fruit?” makes you feel like you’re kind of taking the Lord’s name in vain). Anthony has short hair and a mustache, but they’re both the right length so that his mustache is not so long that he looks like he’s a drug dealer, and his head hair is not so short that it looks like it’s prison issue.

Neither Judy nor her grocery store BFFs have any visible tattoos or body piercings. At least not at my neighborhood Ralph’s Supermarket. Maybe in South Central they’ve got some ink. Or some bling. Something to attract a different BFF demographic. Perhaps in the Southern states the girls wear big hair and blue eye shadow and Anthony is a Caucasian holding a rifle.

Judy, Sharice, and Anthony say goodbye to me by bellowing, “Thanks for stopping by today!” Notice the exclamation point again? They’re REALLY glad I came in to say hi… and buy my cupcakes-Uncrustables-Gamestop gift card-Depends at Ralph’s Supermarket!

So I holler “Adios!” to Anthony and “Later, Girlfriend!” to Sharice. But I like to say goodbye to Judy by pulling out my iphone and taking a selfie with her. Because even though Judy is actually two-dimensional, she feels like a real 3-dimensional BFF to me.


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Filed under Humor, Kids, Parenting

3 Star Hotel

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 12.05.21 AMThis fall I flew to the Midwest to visit my daughter Emily at her college’s Friends and Family Weekend, and I was trying to do it on a shoestring. I chose a no-frills airline that ended up charging $50 for my carry-on bag, an inexpensive rental car company that later billed an extra $119.40 in extra toll road charges, and a cheap airport parking lot that stored my car a very scary part of Inglewood.

But the biggest lesson of you get what you pay for came from my hotel.

It was the only hotel located within walking distance of the college and rumor has it that in the 1960’s the hotel had been a Holiday Inn. Because it was listed in Priceline, it couldn’t be that bad, right? I mean it’s not like Priceline recommends hotels that charge by the hour or have drug deals in the lobby. At $15 less than the price of a Super 8, this hotel was a bargain hunter’s dream come true, even if it was only rated 3 out of 10 stars. The reviews were so critical they were comical (“I would rather sleep in my car than pay for this dump” and “It smelled like a condemned building”), but I would probably only be there to shower and sleep. At the very least I might have an interesting story to tell about my stay.


The parking lot

I do.

As I arrived, it was a little tricky to park my rental car because the cement parking blocks were all broken and scattered, so maneuvering around the parking lot was a little like driving through an obstacle course. Weeds were breaking through the asphalt so thickly that in some areas it was truly nature battling urbanization and beating the hell out of it.

The most obvious first impression of my temporary home away from home was the stench of cigarettes. I could smell it even before I opened the front door. Although you couldn’t actually see any smoke, the remnants were thicker than a 1960’s Vegas casino. I come from Los Angeles, where if you are trailed by a plume of smoke you receive a look nastier than if you’d backhanded a nun, so this noxious surprise was certainly not a treat for my pure-as-the-driven-snow lungs.

The desk clerk was extremely pleasant and she was only missing one tooth, contrary to the guest who was chatting with her and had more gaps in his mouth than a jack-o-lantern. She invited me to the hotel’s Friday Night Karaoke, which I decided I would avoid since one of the Priceline reviews mentioned the “steady trickle of drunk people stumbling out of the bar.”


The floor of the elevator

I asked the clerk where I could buy some water and she told me about a mini mart a block away. Without even asking, she filled me in on the preferred bars within walking distance. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I haven’t had a drink in 20 years, and was hoping that this vacation would not end up luring me to one before the weekend was through.

The hotel was seven stories tall and as I entered the elevator I noticed that a shabby rug with frayed edges was attempting to hide the broken linoleum tiles on the floor. Someone had gotten very creative with the elevator buttons.


Getting creative with the elevator buttons

The button for the 1st floor was a 2, the one for the 2nd floor was a backwards, upside down 5, 3’s button was tilted sideways and 6’s was handwritten with a ballpoint pen.


I pressed the button for the 5th floor. The elevator rocked and shook like a circus fun house and I made a vow to the Santa Claus/Parking Spot Angel God that if I made it safely, I would promise to hoof it up and down the stairs the rest of the weekend. The contraption reached its destination and the doors eventually, but reluctantly opened.


Hallway directions

The first thing I noticed in the 5th floor hallway was the once shiny brass sign announcing that ice and sodas could be found on the 2nd floor as well as some other floor, but that other floor would remain a mystery because the rest of the sign was covered by a note (albeit typed – not handwritten) taped over it, saying that the soda machine was on the 1st floor, the ice machine on the 2nd, and the laundry was on the 3rd. There was also some graffiti created from deep scratches and the evidence of someone who thought himself so important that he wrote his name on the brass plate with a black sharpie.



The hallway ceiling wires

Most people don’t instinctively study the ceilings of their hotels. I don’t either, but it was hard not to notice the various wires and cables hanging from above. It looked like some weekend handyman possibly installed a surveillance camera and pointed it toward the elevators. However, the cables were also strung into a couple of rooms and I started to get the heebie-jeebies that maybe the hotel employees got their jollies by seeing what hanky panky might be going on in the guests’ rooms. Fortunately the wires didn’t lead to my room – #510 – but nevertheless I decided that I would be sure to disrobe in a discreet corner and make a point of not being seen picking my nose.



No carpeting

My room looked like that in its 50+ years of existence it had never had a renovation, with the exception of the carpeting. There was no carpeting. Instead, there was a layer of faux wood linoleum and an inch of calking around the edges. Also, the acoustic ceiling had been scraped off, but only slightly. There were still mounds of 1/8-inch cottage cheese and bits of the tips were scattered around the floor.



Running toilet

There was an intermittent stream of water running in the toilet, so being from water conservation-obsessed Southern California, I turned off the faucet. For the duration of the trip I would have to lean over, nearly sticking my head in the toilet every time I wanted to turn it back on.



No-power blow dryer

An extremely dated, no-power blow dryer was mounted to the wall. But there was something wrong with the bathroom outlet, so the plug wouldn’t stay in. Also, the toilet paper holder was busted, consisting of two sharp piece of metal sticking out from below the sink. Instead of the plastic-wrapped plastic cups that Super 8 provides, there were two 6 oz. Styrofoam cups which were never replenished after I used them.



Broken bathroom outlet

There was no shampoo, body wash, shower cap, or sewing kit (which is fine – the last thing I want to do on vacation is sew on a button). The bathroom contained a wicker basket that was the type you get for free by buying two bottles of off-brand moisturizing lotion from Rite Aide at Christmas time, which contained a half dozen wrapped soaps. I’ve seen similar baskets at Motel 6; however these bargain hotel soaps were about a quarter of the size. It was soap for Barbie dolls. That night I used one to bathe, and it ended up disintegrating into 4 smaller pieces which by morning had melted into nothingness.


Toilet paper holder



The room was furnished with the kind of pieces you find in Pennysaver ads – “10 Piece Bedroom Set for only $399!!” – when you find that those many “pieces” include a pillow and an ashtray. It was made of particle board with wood grain lamination glued on. A thin bed spread covered the king sized bed, but three too-soft pillows were thrown together in a single pile as if another guest had taken a snooze (or something that required another guest as well) after the maid had cleaned it, which was kind of creepy if I stopped to think about it. That night I found a pubic hair on the sheet and instinctively brushed it to the floor before I could take a photo of it for this blog. I need to work on my creeped-out instincts so I can get an actual shot next time.



This is how they make the bed

The alarm clock was digital, but circa mid ‘80’s, and I found that it wasn’t broken as I originally thought. It just wasn’t plugged in. The reason it wasn’t plugged in was that there was only one available outlet within reach of both the air conditioning unit and the alarm clock. Guests would have to choose whether they’d rather swelter/freeze or wake up to a local DJ.


I moved the alarm clock to an outlet across the room and found that although the wake function worked perfectly, the off button did not, so the only way to shut off the sound was by turning the volume all the way down (which would defeat the wake function), or just unplugging it, which is probably why it was unplugged in the first place.


The tv

A few months ago we finally donated our outdoor patio television to the electronic waste pile. It was too old and too small.

The hotel tv was older and smaller.

The reception of the lower channels like 2, 3, 4 and 5 were grainy dots. As the channels went up, the dots turned to grainy lines. The same episode of Modern Family aired on channels 2, 5 and 13. There was a card with a channel directory and I was thrilled to see that this cheap hotel actually had HBO, so I clicked it on hoping to catch Game of Thrones, but instead found some nudity of a less medieval kind.

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 12.20.43 AM

HBO Channel 28 is porn

A topless blonde with breasts as large as yoga balls was standing in front of a chalkboard wearing a turn of the century professor’s cap. She wrote the word “come” on the board, but she used a different vowel and dropped the “e” and I suddenly was worried if that there really was some hotel night shift pervert watching in-room surveillance cameras, I didn’t want him (or her) thinking a was a porn fan, so I turned off the tv.


The bedside table contained an expected pen that actually did write after a couple of tries, and a 2×3 inch notepad with four sheets of paper. Like the mini soap, this was a notepad for Barbie dolls. No phonebook. No Gideon Bible. No “Things to do when you’re in our quaint little town” brochure. Which is ok, since I wasn’t planning to find the Lord or anything else that weekend beside my daughter’s dorm room.


Balcony door

My room contained a balcony, and since I was on the 5th floor, I thought it might be fun to step out and enjoy the view. There was a light switch for the balcony, but it was impossible to turn on because there was no light bulb. And even though there were instructions on how to open the balcony door (“To lock – turn down; To open – turn up”) there was just a hole where the lever should have been. It’s just as well. The balcony was just 18 inches wide, which made it seem more like a ledge than a balcony. Also, there was a fight breaking out outside the bar across the street and it was getting pretty loud – even from inside the hotel. Later it got even noisier when a couple of cop cars arrived. It was probably safer to stay inside.


No light bulb


Even though I was unable to get outside, some unexpected guests somehow found their way in. I discovered a very odd, very large bug on the ceiling. I slid the desk chair over and managed to swat it with my shoe, and down it came with more of the ceiling cottage cheese. One of the bug’s buddies arrived the next night. Same spot. Like it was a bug hangout.


Big bug on the cottage cheese ceiling


Because I’m a prima donna and like to surround myself with pillows (my poor husband typically gets only about an 8-inch strip of space on the edge of the bed), I climbed down to the front desk to ask for another pillow. The desk clerk very nicely informed me that they did not have extra pillows. I asked if I could have an extra ice bucket (the one in my room was only slightly larger than a coffee cup) but apparently they don’t have extra ice buckets either.


Ice machine

Speaking of ice, as I mentioned earlier, the note on the 5th floor brass sign had said that the ice machine was on the 2nd floor, but when I went to the 2nd floor, I found a broken ice machine with a handwritten note that said “Ice Machine – 1st floor.” I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt. When I finally found the ice machine, I discovered that although it did technically make ice, the mechanism to break the ice into cubes was clearly on the fritz, and the cubes were all bonded together like a Hershey’s chocolate bar you break up for s’mores.



No Wi-Fi

Although the hotel boasts that it has Wi-Fi, the signal wasn’t strong enough for my laptop to log onto the Internet, so I had to use my iPhone as a hotspot. I guess the naked girl with the big ta-tas on tv was supposed to be the Wi-Fi compensation.


The hotel’s website also lists a pool and exercise room, but when I went down to take a dip, I discovered that the pool was completely covered. “It’s the end of October,” you may argue, “so don’t criticize the hotel for closing the pool early for the winter.”

I would buy this argument except for one thing: it’s an indoor pool.

As for the exercise room, although my card key showed a green light that should open the room, the door appeared to be deadlocked. There was a small window so I tried to peek inside, but I couldn’t see anything because the light was off. The same thing happened Friday night, and Saturday as well. Maybe it wasn’t an exercise room at all. Maybe it was the office of Norman Bates, just waiting for some innocent gal to come in late at night and sweat to the oldies. Finally on Sunday morning I stopped by and the light was actually on and I saw that they really did have an exercise room. It consisted of a single treadmill, circa 1985. And a sofa – where someone was probably sleeping the three previous nights.

The second night of my stay my room key card suddenly wouldn’t work, and when I asked the desk clerk for a new one, she apologized and said, “Sorry… yeah, that happens all the time.” Good thing I had no valuables. This obviously wasn’t the kind of hotel that would have a safe.

The second card key did work, but the light switch didn’t. It was a bit scary walking into my hotel room in the dark, and with the toilet running, it sounded like someone was in the bathroom taking a leak. I turned on the bathroom light and saw that the only intruder was another bug spinning round and round the toilet bowl. I obviously had forgotten to turn off the toilet water when I left, and had also turned off the lamp that was connected to the wall switch. Who would have guessed that the switch was connected to a light that could be manually turned off? Good for surprise parties. Bad for women traveling alone in scary hotels.

On Sunday morning I checked out and said goodbye to the friendly desk clerk. Besides the cut-rate price, she was the only decent thing about the hotel. In 3 days’ time, I saved nearly $50 over the Super 8, but on the other hand, I hoped that the grungy hotel didn’t transmit a contagious disease that would force me to pay the $100 deductible at the emergency hospital when I got home.

My final thoughts: A 3 star rating is just too generous for this hotel. And I have a newfound gratitude for my own messy home, where I have extra pillows and the stray hairs belong to my husband.

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10 Perks & Pitfalls of Turning 18

waiting-long-time-birthday-ecard-someecardsMy oldest daughter recently turned 18, and for her it couldn’t come soon enough. I’m a little ashamed to say ditto for me. Now it’s her turn to listen to 45 minute of bad Muzak just to reschedule her dermatologist appointment.

But I’ll bet she woke up on her 18th birthday and shouted “Freedom!” – ready to taste all the wonderful new privileges granted to grown ups. Then she hopped out of bed and I told her to empty the dishwasher.pillow-pet-trickers-helmets-545_290

For her entire life she’s been fantasizing about the day she can call that 1-800 number on the screen and partake in the “must be 18 or older to order” to nab that Pillow Pet Trickster Helmet without kissing up to mom and dad. It would be like winning Lotto – which she could actually play at 18, but the odds are she’ll never win.

Adulthood isn’t nirvana. Just to enlighten her and other optimistic newly legal adults, I’ve compiled a list of:


1. You can buy cigarettes.lungs-600x287

Whoo hoo! You’re finally old enough to look cooler than Kool, sucking endless drags on these smoldering sticks that give you multiple cancers, lip wrinkles, bad breath, stinky clothing, and dirty looks from anyone entering a Whole Foods Market. But hey – it’s now your right, even if the rest of the left wing knows it’s wrong.

Moxie2. You can change your name.

This is great news for the daughter of Penn Jillette of the magical duo Penn & Teller. Penn named her Moxie Crimefighter Jillette. After 18 years of merciless taunts, she will finally be able to change her name to Moxie Crimefighter Jones.

3. You can vote.18-voting

You now can join the other 12.5% of Americans who vote in the national election. Or write yourself in as a candidate for an office, and possibly win, and have the other 87.5% non-voting population complain about what a lousy job you’re doing.

Winona4. You can get a tattoo.

Johnny Depp was certain that his love for Winona Ryder was as permanent as his “Winona Forever” tattoo. Let this be a lesson to all young adults: Love is fleeting, but tattoos are forever, unless you have a ton of money to remove it without a leaving nasty scar.

5. Sex laws are in your favor (or maybe not).article-0-1A133A16000005DC-374_634x395

Sex with your 17-year old boyfriend is now a felony, but now you can sleep with an octogenarian without him being labeled as a pervert on Megan’s Law. Even though at 80+ years, by chasing someone born in 1997 he probably is a pervert. And you’re probably a good-digger.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 12.09.26 AM6. You can get married without your parents’ consent.

See #3 above. Love is fleeting, but marriage follows you forever on Facebook photos and Google searches.

7. You can get arrested.Justin-Bieber-mugshot

Those teen antics no longer get you a call to your parents, a slap on the wrist, or the worst-case scenario – a stint in juvie. And again like #3, a felony is forever, at least on your arrest record.Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 12.52.34 AM

8. You can buy porn.

Although you can finally ogle to your heart’s (or some other beating body part’s) content, porn will probably lose some of its allure. Now that it’s legal for you to download “Assablanca” and “Tiger’s Wood,” you’ll quickly realize that there’s a reason porn doesn’t win any Oscars. Most of it’s pretty bad.

9. You can buy airplane glue.Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.36.45 PM

However, like porn, now that you can legally buy it, this forbidden fruit is no longer such a big deal. You can get that same light-headed feeling from the lack of sleep you’ll be experiencing by simultaneously working two 35-hour a week minimum wage jobs.

10. You can serve on jury duty.

Yes, it’s now your civic duty to sit through 3 unpaid weeks of testimony from unscrupulous chiropractors and ambulance chasing lawyers. Protests of commitments to work, school, or that Hawaiian vacation you already paid for won’t get you an excuse. You’ll just have to suffer like the rest of us who muster up the integrity to keep ourselves from tossing that jury summons in the shredder. Agonizing torture devices like the rack or the iron maiden went out with the Middle Ages, but jury duty is their modern equivalent.Jury+Duty

I can probably come up another 10 reasons why turning 18 isn’t necessarily the bomb, but my daughter slipped out and now I have to empty that damned dishwasher.

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Lost: Much-loved Sofa

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 11.34.37 PM

There’s a link on our Neighborhood Council website entirely devoted to lost & found pets, just in case little Fluffy wanders off in search of Starkist Tuna instead his standard bowl of Fancy Feast, or if an owner’s tag-less mutt breaks off his leash and ends up dodging cars on a freeway onramp. It’s a very useful tool for reuniting loved ones.Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 11.52.06 PM


IMG_7084 Another lost & found tool was not particularly useful if you were lactose intolerant, so that’s probably why you no longer see ads for lost children on the back of milk cartons asking “Have you seen me?” I wonder how often someone six states away from the child’s disappearance noticed the photo and remarked over a bowl of Cap’n Crunch, “Hey… If you ignore the nose piercing, shaved head and the neck tattoo of the Virgin Mary, doesn’t that kid look like Crystal from reform school if she was 12 years younger?” (for all those of you who are offended, you inadvertently stumbled on a humor blog and you should return to your Google search and click on something that ends in “.org”).

IMG_7291There are resources if you’ve lost your child or can’t find your pet; however there doesn’t seem to be a good way to locate a piece of treasured furniture that has gone missing.

Lately I’ve been noticing an uptick in the number of lost furnishings throughout my neighborhood. Sofas, chairs, desks, mattresses, bookshelves – even full living room sectionals can be found on street corners, in alleys,  behind apartment buildings or hiding in empty lots. My heart goes out to them because they look so sad. I imagine their owners pouring through Pennysaver ads and stopping traffic abruptly when they see a sign posted on a phone pole. They’re hoping the handwritten scribble says, “Found: Brown Sofa. Springs exposed and missing one cushion.” But no… it’s always another damn lost cat.IMG_6600

Sometimes the furniture only appears to be a few years old, but more often than not, it is obviously well-loved and looks like it could have been in a family’s (or crazy cat lady’s) possession for decades or more. The owners must be distraught over the loss of their coffee table with their 4-year old’s carvings and sharpie illustrations of SpongeBob SquarePants. Or the sofa that appears to have been the actual birthplace of a litter of puppies. Or the mattress that contains so many memories of successful evenings initiated at the single’s bars. Such treasured furnishings are irreplaceable.

IMG_7340I’m not really sure how these important pieces of furniture magically transport themselves from an owner’s living room, office or bedroom into a weeded area behind a chain link fence, but I have a few theories:

1. Burglars were in the process of stealing these treasured furnishings, but didn’t secure them properly to their truck, van, wagon, or other method of transportation, and the sofa, et al. fell off and landed on the afore-mentioned street corner, alley, etc.IMG_7085

2. Aliens (as in ET – the Extra-Terrestrial, not as in swimming from Cuba or following coyotes through the desert “illegal aliens”) noticed these functional and comfortable human contraptions and decided they wanted them for themselves, but after beaming them to their spaceships they realized that since their bodies are far from human, the furnishings are not actually as functional and comfortable as they originally thought, so the furniture was abruptly tossed from the alien spaceship and landed in the new spot on earth.

3. Perhaps for easier moving while rearranging furniture, the owners attached wheels to the furniture, but during the recent minor earthquakes, the furniture rolled out of their homes and down the street, losing their wheels along the way.

Screen shot 2014-07-15 at 12.01.07 AM4. An angry roommate with vengeance in his heart took the furniture and hid it where the legitimate owner couldn’t find it.

5. Ditto #4, but instead of an angry roommate, it’s an unscrupulous criminal who has stolen the furniture and is demanding a ransom for its safe return.

IMG_7066These unfortunate furniture owners must be drowning in pools of their own tears. I feel for them, but I am even more concerned about the horrifying experience endured these young sofas, chairs and mattresses by being exposed to the cruel elements. Scorching sun, brutal wind, torrential rain, and attacks from lawn sprinklers and hoodlums can transform these innocent furnishings into tragic victims that may never completely recover from their ordeal. They may sit silent and ignored for weeks, months, possibly years (depending on the neighborhood and the efficacy of their Sanitation Departments), and in most cases, their worried owners may never be found.

IMG_6281Within this blog post, I am sharing the photos I have taken of some of the lost furniture I have found in my neighborhood over the past few weeks. If any of these treasured furnishings look familiar to you, please respond in the comments below.

In advance, I’d like to say: You are very welcome! I am so pleased to be able to reunite you with your old friend.



Filed under Humor, Satire

The End of the Blog Hiatus


I tried to stop time. But time won.

The problem with having a blog called Very VERY Busy Mom is that it implies that if I am busy enough to warrant the second VERY in the title, when the heck do I find time to write a blog?


In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry’s gal pal Hermione Granger uses a device called a “time turner” which transports her to the past so she can double up her class schedule.

I’d love to win lotto one day, but I would trade those millions for my very own time turner. I’d get my work done with no stress at all, then use the time turner to spend time with my kids, hang out with my husband, exercise regularly, clean my house, and maybe have coffee with a friend.

But after a day or two of time turning, I’d want to tear out my lawn and put in drought-resistant plants, learn to speak Spanish fluently, write a book, start a small business, and train for marathon.

Don’t get me started on travel or getting a few more degrees.

I could never be happy with just two time turners. I would need two. Or three. Or infinity.

When other busy moms are taking a little “me” time – getting a mani-pedi, munching on a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels while watching Oprah (or possibly full seasons of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones in a single sitting), or taking a little 5150 vacation in a psyche ward, I prefer to be productive. And write. My blog is my creative outlet, my little pick-me-up, and my own “Mommy’s Little Helper” without the hangover in the morning.

But for the past seven months, Very VERY Busy Mom has fallen by the wayside in favor of other pleasant pastimes like occasional exercise, a minimum sleep requirement and establishing a regular dog poop pickup routine before my backyard earns the nickname “Lord of the Flies.”

I decided to take a break for a week, which turned into a month, then turned into over half a year, and I felt like quite the loser whenever friends would come up to me and say, “Hey, Very VERY Busy Mom! I haven’t seen a new blog lately!” Their intention was encouraging and good-natured, but the translation into my insecure brain was “You’re a slacker! Show me your collection of bed sores!”

Instead of writing blog posts, I ended up finishing my third season editing dialogue on the ABC fairy tale drama Once Upon a Time (if you haven’t seen it yet, add it to your Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones marathon). The lack of time spent writing blogs enabled me to get my show done without it getting bounced from the stage – a term synonymous with “you’ll never work in this town again.”

My year-long obsession researching colleges, scholarships, and ACT & SAT prep for my 17-yeat old has culminated with her acceptance to the perfect college for her (Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois – known for its attraction of quirky kids ), but on the flipside, I haven’t practiced driving with Emily often enough to be certain she’s a safe enough driver to earn her license. Not that LA drivers generally are considerate enough to warrant a license, but I want her to be somewhat prepared for the cockfight.

I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time behind the wheel of my minivan transporting my 13-year old social butterfly to probably two dozen Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (even though we don’t have a drop of Jewish blood in our veins – Mary is loved by all races, creeds, and religions), and more social events than a Presidential candidate campaigning for a tight seat.

Although I’ve been making it a priority to read Harry Potter to my 7-year old every night (we’re now on #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) my son unfortunately has received the dregs of any free time I had left, so I missed a few of his baseball games and Cub Scout activities. Fortunately my Prince of a Husband picked up the slack as baseball coach and Assistant Den Master and managed to be the token parent there for absolutely every event. My hubby also loves it when I mention him favorably in my blog, so I’m glad he gave me something to write about.

I still love volunteering at the kids’ schools and in the community, but there have been whole weeks when I’ve gone completely AWOL and the other very VERY busy moms, dads and community do-gooders manage to get everything done even without my indispensable help. Proof that no one – even mwah (not sure how to spell this one correctly since it’s not really a word) is irreplaceable.

This is not the post I envisioned after a long hiatus from writing. I would rather have penned “How I Invested My Lotto Winnings,” or “Reflections as a Staff Writer on The Daily Show,” but unfortunately, that’s not how I’ve spent my last seven absent months.

I’ve just been very VERY busy.

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Filed under Career, Family, Humor, Husband, Kids, Multitasking, Parenting, Teenagers, Volunteering

When Animals Behave Like Animals

DSCN4037Bowel movements. Bathing. Reproduction. These are all normal, everyday activities (ok – maybe the last one isn’t everyday unless you’re in a new relationship with someone really hot), which require the removal of clothing. They’re performed behind closed doors. And if someone walks in on you while you’re in the middle of doing it (especially doing it), everyone is expected to die of embarrassment.

denisovans_fig_1That’s what we’re taught as children, and that’s supposedly what we’re expected to teach our own children. Yet with the simple removal of just a pair of chromosomes, these private moments involving our very private parts and called “nasty” in the case of humans, become “nature” when talking about animals.

From Epic Parenting Fail. I can already tell I'm going to love this website!

From Epic Parenting Fail. I can already tell I’m going to love this website!

I had a friend whose toddler loved to reach into his diaper, scoop out a wad of poop, and then draw on his bedroom walls. If the baby was using oil colors, his parents would have praised him and named him Picasso, but since he was painting with stinky excrement, his hand was slapped and he was sent to the corner without dessert.

imagesThis apparently isn’t the case with man’s close relative – the gorilla. Last week I took my 7-year old son Jake to the zoo.  Jake and a creature resembling Tarzan’s best friend were studying each other when he turned around, exposing his backside (the gorilla – not Jake). He squatted directly over the moat separating the primates from the humans and started to bear down, giving the onlookers a peek of nature at work. Screen shot 2014-01-09 at 11.41.48 PMAt first I thought the gorilla had been meticulously potty trained to poop into the moat, making the collection easier for the zookeepers in training who enter the zoo hierarchy on the bottom rung as poop-picker-uppers. But instead of letting his feces fall freely, the gorilla caught the lump in his hand and set it down beside him.

64asia5rebzbzqwltib7ixrm4.400x300x1Then the gorilla pointed just like ET with his glowing index finger and he proceeded to play with the poop like it was some kind of fascinating new Play-Doh. The primate poked it and prodded it, then molded the middle of the dung heap, forming a little cup. Screen shot 2014-01-09 at 11.54.36 PMJust when you’d think he was going to sip from it as if it was a wine goblet, he reached back around to his backside and caught yet another load as it squeezed through his anus. The gorilla set the second lump down next to his little cup and poked some more.DSCN4079

The crowd reacted like they were watching a violent bus crash – aghast and horrified, yet so curious they couldn’t stop looking.

Jake thought it was cool.

Later, we went to visit the zebras and found two that were particularly friendly, if you get my meaning. Since I haven’t yet sat down to explain to Jake how babies are made, my mind was racing with explanations for the zebras’ behavior:

  • She’s giving that zebra a piggyback ride
  • They’re playing bucking broncos
  • She has an itchy butt and the boy zebra is helping her scratch it
  • She’s just giving him a boost
  • It’s a zebra game where they try to line up their stripes

DSCN4040It turns out I didn’t have to say anything. Jake just laughed and thought it was cool.

Then we visited the yellow-backed duikers, which are small African antelopes. They weren’t doing anything to call attention to themselves until one started licking the other’s butt. That one didn’t mind, and before you know it, he was exchanging the favor by simultaneously licking the other’s butt as well. The duikers were obviously enjoying themselves tremendously.DSCN4048

I figured that in a couple of years when I explain the facts of life to Jake, I’ll bypass the description of that little option for fear that in math class every answer he shouts out will be “69!” Jake will have to figure the duikers’ experience out for himself, or rather himself and some other willing partner. I guess learning experiences like that one are what college is for.

Jake says that when he grows up he wants to be a zookeeper. It will be very interesting to hear what he ends up telling kids who are asking why the duikers are licking each other’s butts, why gorillas play with their poop, and if zebras really are just striped horses since they’re mounting each other and taking a ride.

Maybe he won’t give any explanation. He’ll just tell them it’s cool.

Jake thinks the gorilla is cool!

Jake thinks the gorilla is cool!


Filed under Humor, Kids, Parenting

The Problem With Costco? How Do You Get All That Crap Home?

IMG_2885Costco. The mere whisper of its name conjures images of big, bigger, and so-big-there’s-no-way-in-hell-you’ll-ever-finish-it-before-it-goes-bad mega-big. It wasn’t that long ago when in their wildest dreams Americans could never have imagined the wonders of this super-duper-store. Why in the world would you ever need a half-gallon of shampoo, 500 Styrofoam dinner plates and tortilla chips in a bag that’s bigger than your torso? Yet today, we wouldn’t consider buying a single pound of ground beef at Ralph’s when we can go to a mega warehouse and buy the whole cow. You never know when a boatload of your closest friends might drop by unexpectedly and expect you to whip up an impromptu barbeque.

The sheer enormity of Costco hits you well before you enter the store. Costco parking lots are the size of small amusement parks, and still they miraculously tend to fill up – particularly in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Parking vultures will wait 15 minutes hovering over a customer loading up his vehicle rather than hoof it from an open spot that’s so far away it lies in another zip code. I don’t mind the trek, and figure that the walk to and from the warehouse will do me good, burning a few of the many calories I plan to consume from the numerous free samples. You could go to Costco every day of the week, never spend a dime, and still eat like a king – that is if kings enjoy nibbling on a smorgasbord of pomegranate juice, Cajun sausages, waffle bites, and spinach dip.

Samples are a daily surprise at Costco.

Because of my distant parking spot, I’m very appreciative that Costco hasn’t yet installed those brakes that lock the wheels of the shopping cart when they reach the parking lot boundary. Frankly, I’m a little surprised. If I was a homeless person, Costco would definitely be my cart of choice. You can probably hold 20 dozen more cans in its roomy basket, and unlike the carts with the missing bottom available at 2-story Targets so they can travel up their own person-less escalator, Costco carts have big bottom racks that could possibly fit all three of my homeless children in case I needed to transport them up and down the boulevard.

Is it just me, or did anyone else do a double-take over the line big bottom racks?

The Costco powers-that-be were absolutely brilliant in their decision to remove compact-sized parking spots from their parking lots. Have you ever seen a Smart Car pull into the lot? Not very often, if ever. They had better bring along some bungee cords and rope if they plan to strap that 12-pack of paper towels to their roof like a Douglas fir leaving the Christmas tree lot.

There’s a reason there’s no bicycle racks or motorcycle parking, because there’s not a single thing sold at Costco that’s small enough to strap into your backpack, with the exception of a gift card to Spafinder or one of Costco’s special Road Show events selling engagement rings. Somehow I figure if someone’s wealthy enough to afford a fabulous sea salt scrub or planning to pop the question to the girl of his or her dreams, they’re probably not going to do it while riding a 10-speed. However, you can actually buy a bicycle or motorcycle at Costco and park your 2-wheeler in the store while you shop (the motorcycle is on display in the store and available at Costco.com). However, don’t plan to do any additional shopping unless you arrange to pick everything up later in your proper minivan or U-Haul trailer.

IMG_2887There have been days when I have filled up the back end of my 8-person minivan from floor to ceiling and still had to invade the middle row and passenger seat for the rest of my purchases. I start to feel like that classic I Love Lucy episode where Fred loads up the car for the move to California and has to tie golf clubs and conga drums to the hood to make everything fit.

I wish a trip to Costco felt like a zany screwball comedy. It doesn’t.

photoweek114bIt’s not just the 2 hours of shopping and cart maneuvering, retracing my steps to the far end of the store for the forgotten frozen pizzas, the 35 minute line at the register which is so long it snakes into the snacks aisle, the brainpower needed to strategically place all the items in my car so the 50-lb. bag of dog food is not resting on the giant pumpkin pie, or having to drive 15 miles below the speed limit so the entire pile doesn’t entomb me during a sudden stop. Just when I think my long Costco journey is over, I am now faced with the prospect of making 20 separate trips hauling the load from my driveway into my house. Because I hate making multiple trips to and from the car, I turn this job of 20 into just 4 trips, hauling so many heavy items stuffed into my reusable bags across my forearms that the embedded dents in my flesh become nearly permanent.  I place the 80 cup pack of Newman’s Own Keurig coffee cups on top of the 24 rolls of Charmin bathroom tissue on top of the 32-pack of diet Coke, then cradle the triple pack of Kellogg’s cereal between my right elbow and hip, the box of 250 Bounce fabric softener sheets between my left elbow and hip, and balance the entire load like a tightrope walker.

I don’t usually make it to the kitchen without dropping everything, but I keep trying, telling myself that next time it will be different.

After I transport everything into the house, I spend another hour slicing open those plastic containers that are tighter than Fort Knox and ripping apart the cardboard boxes that enclose 90% of everything sold at Costco. Next I have to somehow defy the laws of matter to find space in my refrigerator and cupboards to store everything. My rule of thumb: If it fits, that’s where it goes. Then I slam the door hard before everything falls out.

I’m finally done. Or am I?

Like every single slasher film ever made, even this is a false ending, because then I have to flatten all those boxes and get them to fit in our over-sized recycling bin. Some trips to Costco take two weeks for the garbage man to finally collect it all.

But the very worst thing about Costco? Getting my Costco American Express bill three weeks later, totaling only slightly less than the gross domestic product of a small country.

You’d think would be the nail in the coffin to get me to quit shopping at Costco… but no.

The last time I went, I noticed that they actually sell coffins at Costco.

I wonder if my car is big enough to get it home.


Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Family, Humor