Category Archives: Career

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

Falling Asleep at the Burnt Out Class

falling asleep

I love school! If I won lotto tomorrow, I would just plan to take classes for the rest of my life, whether or not I could earn a degree for it. I don’t care if it’s on auto repair or astrophysics or how to put up an astrological horoscope, if there’s learning involved, sign me up.

Unfortunately, my work schedule during the tv season virtually prohibits the commitment to a regular class schedule. In 2008 I went back to school taking online classes from Clarion University in Pennsylvania, and even though I was working at the time, in 2010 I earned my Master’s degree in Library Science.

It nearly killed me.

I felt like I fell off the face of the earth for two years as I concentrated solely on work, school, and kids – unfortunately in that order. It’s a learning experience I’ll never get from a classroom – even an online classroom. And it’s one I don’t wish to ever repeat.

Now I save my learning fix for hiatus and then search for classes like a dog with a bone. I finished up my last stage fix for Once Upon a Time on Monday night. Only 26 hours later I began a 12-week series of seminars for small business owners which takes place downtown for three hours every Tuesday and Thursday night.

Do I own a small business? No. But if I start one up, I’ll know what to do.

My medical insurance plan offers several workshops throughout the year on everything from nutrition to stress management to CPR so I signed up for three upcoming classes.

I was especially looking forward to Wednesday evening’s “On Empty and Burnt Out” which asked: Feeling as if you are running on empty? … Learn a new approach to your busy life – one in which you will be able to repair mentally, physically, psychologically and emotionally.

For anyone who knows me, I thrive on being productive, and I get a real rush when I have a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately this rush was causing incidences of embarrassing short-term memory loss, occasional crying fits and the feeling like someone should just shoot me in the head.

Not something I would advocate, even if I do have a blog called Very VERY Busy Mom.

Frankly, I was hoping they would give me some tools to enable me to multitask more efficiently, offer advice so I don’t feel like such a flake if I have to let something go, and ways to make my sleep more productive so I could get by on 4 hours instead of 6.

Instead, the other potentially burnt out attendees and I were greeted with the advice we didn’t want to hear:

  • Get 8-9 hours of sleep each night
  • Remove all sodas, processed foods and refined sugar from your diet
  • Choose one day a week to slow down and perhaps make it a day of pampering
  • Exercise by walking or running 20-30 minutes each day, practicing yoga 3-5 times each week, and lifting weights 10 minutes each day

This is another great reason why I would like to win lotto. If I had time to do all this, I wouldn’t need to take a class called “On Empty and Burnt Out.” As much as I was excited to attend this class and enjoyed learning the information, I was having an extremely serious problem that was holding me back.

I kept dozing off.

The instructor wasn’t boring. She wasn’t repeating herself. She was knowledgeable and passed along information that would be incredibly beneficial to enriching my life.

I was just tired. Beat to my bones. And I was kicking myself that I made myself too busy that afternoon to grab a Monster Energy Drink, and the seminar didn’t have a coffee pot in sight. As I fought to pay attention to the lecturer, I performed wake up tricks like pinching my ears, pressing the web between my thumb and forefinger, tightening my Kegels and flexing my hamstrings – all to no avail.

I probably came across looking seriously ADHD.

It wasn’t until the next morning, after my first full 8 hours of sleep in weeks, that the lesson of the “On Empty and Burnt Out” class hit home.

Whether I’m working beaucoup hours or not, my tendency is to fill up every waking minute with something. The trick is, now that I’m on hiatus, it’s the perfect time to try to put these habits into place. Perhaps I should try sleeping for 8-9 hours, cutting out the things I shouldn’t be consuming, exercising every day, and taking a day to relax.

If I can do that, maybe then my short-term memory won’t be so shot to hell that I forget to do sleep, eat right, exercise and relax in the first place.


Filed under Anxiety, Career, Family, Humor, Kids, Learning, Multitasking, Parenting

Will Work for Paycheck

Will Work for PaycheckOn Tuesday night I uploaded my edited dialogue for the final episode of season 2’s Once Upon a Time, and other than covering the dub stage for a few more days whenever they need some alts cut, I am now on summer hiatus.

I’ll get a few weeks of work editing the TNT show Perception and my summer will be chock full of volunteer commitments for my kids’ schools, the Colfax World Fair, Neighborhood Council Valley Village, Toluca Baseball, Cub Scout Pack 311, Patch, our annual block party, and anything else I can raise my hand to participate in (yes – I ended with a preposition. Go ahead and call the Grammar Police).

I am extremely lucky to have a job to return to when Once Upon a Time resumes in the fall, but tough economic times being what they are, I can’t sit back and wait out the summer without a paycheck. Even if every family meal is a cup of Ramen and the oranges from our backyard tree, we’ll still be spiraling down into a huge debt pit if I don’t land some kind of salary.

Naturally I’ll be trying to line up some more editing gigs, but if that doesn’t pan out, I figured I’d use my blog to get the word out that I have many other talents that would be worthy of some sort of living wage. So just in case one of my loyal or stumbled upon readers might also be a potential employer, here as some suggestions:

Manual Labor

Last summer at the Colfax World Fair Silent Auction, I donated a gift certificate good for 3 hours of weed pulling. I had no idea what it would be worth, so for the dollar value I put down “priceless.” No, there was nothing kinky involved like me wearing only Saran Wrap or a push up bikini top with rotating tassels. I am a very VERY hard worker, and I seldom take breaks. I can also dig ditches, carry heavy items long distances, and if you have to relocate and don’t want to pay for movers who might break or take your goodies, I’m your gal. Call me the Human Pack Mule. Back in 1860, I’d be known as Little Mom on the Prairie.Human Pack Mule

Peeling Stuff

When we were kids, a few days after a good, hearty sunburn, my siblings and I would lie down on the floor in front of the tv and peel each others’ backs. We’d have contests over who could peel the largest strip, always followed by an chorus of “Oooh”s and “Awww”s. I also enjoyed pouring Elmer’s Glue on my palm and peeling it after it dried, and I still get a kick over a deep facial peel. I’ll pick at hangnails until I’m bleeding, then still keep picking anyway. Whether it’s stripping paint, wallpaper, or floor wax, I’ve got a strange fetish for peeling.  Heck, I might even pay you to let me do it for you.

Picking Dandelions

Some people like to stop and smell the roses. Me? I like to stop and pick the dandelions. Every last one of them. I’ll only let my son make a wish and blow out a parachute ball over a large asphalt parking lot because I can’t bear the thought of those thousands of tiny seeds taking root all over the neighborhood. I obsessively pick dandelions with the fervor of a Saint wiping out pagan pestilence. If the day grows dark, I’ll be out on the lawn finishing by flashlight. Want to rid your yard of a sea of yellow? We’ll negotiate my day rate.

Assembly Line Work

When I was 13, I worked in my stepfather’s irrigation pipe manufacturing plant making nipples and flex risers (I’ll explain more in a later blog). Although it’s not as bad as working in a Bangladesh garment factory, it’s a repetitive motion marathon, and I don’t mind. Give me a paycheck that will pay my mortgage, and I’ll be happy to fabricate a thousand widgets a day. I’d like it even more if I could do it in front of the tv watching all those episodes of The Good Wife I missed this season because I was busy working on my own tv show.

Things You Want Done When You Think Other People Are Looking – Or Not

Do you only push your emptied shopping cart back to the rack when you see a cute girl or guy watching you and you want them to think you’re a good citizen? Do you drop a quarter in the basket of the solicitor outside of Rite Aid if you want everyone around you to think you’re thoughtful, generous, and kind when you’re really thinking the bum should go out and get a real job? Let me follow you around and be that Good Samaritan for you so you don’t have to. Or, I can handle the flip side. Do you want to do something not-so-respectable and hope no one is watching? Let me be your whipping boy, or rather gal. I will pick your nose for you and pretend you just have a persistent itch inside your nostril. I’d prefer to use a Kleenex for the job, but pay me enough and I can drill for oil up there.

Keeping a Secret

Do you envy those sober alcoholics who have a sponsor they can tell anything to? Do you wish you were a Catholic so you could clear your conscience with a priest in a confessional? You can whisper your juicy little indiscretions you feel guilty over to me, and I promise to stay mum about it. I won’t even judge you, unless you want me to and are willing to pay a little extra. Wild horses won’t drag it out of me – as long as I actually know it’s a secret. But you have to tell me in advance that the bash you’re throwing for your wife is actually a surprise party because I like to talk… a lot.


I can spend all day doing it for myself, and it’s one of my favorite pastimes. Too busy with your own job to fantasize how you’ll win your lotto winnings or if you could go back in time and tell the cheerleaders that the handsome quarterback they have a crush on instead of you will be coming out of the closet his senior year of college? I’ll invent some amazing stories starring you, and recount them all at your leisure. You can pay me hourly or by the fantasy. Let’s talk.

Any takers? Send me a reply in the comments below.


Filed under Career, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Volunteering

How Do You Feed 50,000 Visitors?

188868068It’s time to stock up on lemonade and homemade muffins because as of around noon yesterday, I have had 50,000 visitors.

It’s a good thing I have a lemon tree.

To a website like The Huffington Post or The Onion, 50,000 is small potatoes, but for my little mommy-turned-humor blog this is a miraculous feat. I am fortunate to know a boatload of people, but I doubt I’m acquainted more than a couple thousand.

I didn't quite capture the exact 50,000 mark.

I didn’t quite capture the exact 50,000 mark.

But 50,000? Who are these people?

How did they find Very VERY Busy Mom?

What lures them to my site? It’s probably not my new posts, since I’ve I only written three new ones this month – a record low. Yet somehow my viewership keeps going up.

If you stretched all my readers end to end on their backs, with stinky feet touching greasy heads (or pedicured toes grazing coifed up-dos, depending on my demographic) that line would reach an astounding 52 miles!

I doubt my readers would be particularly gung ho to venture out on that experiment. Still, it sounds like a bunch!

Granted, this 50,000 total doesn’t include individual people but rather daily visits. So if my husband, my mom and I were the only ones logging on, it would collectively take us nearly 47 years to reach that number.

By then I’ll most likely be either dead, too senile to write a blog, or too dim to log on at all. However by 2060, there probably won’t be blogs but rather mini-mind readings.

Hopefully you’ll just think of me and laugh. The way you do now anyway.

But if you’re not my husband, my mom, or someone who has a vested interest in my happiness (which leaves just my husband and my mom) why do you log on to Very VERY Busy Mom?

Some readers come when I announce a new post on Facebook. Half of me wants to hug and kiss these people for taking a moment out of their day to read what I have to say. The other half of me pities them, hoping that they’ll get a life that includes something more productive than trolling on Facebook.

Other readers are friends and acquaintances who receive an email from me announcing that I have a new post. I often assume that these people have given me my very own folder in their inbox. This folder is called “Spam.”

Another 318 people have signed up for automatic emails whenever I post a new blog. I wish I could buy a gift for everyone who’s done this, but they are all a mystery to me. For all I know, it could be one stalker with 318 different email addresses:;;; etc.

Sometimes Google sends viewers my way. The most popular search terms involve Once Upon a Time. As the show’s dialogue editor, I spend 50 or more hours cutting each episode – more hours than I spend doing anything else including sleep – so I occasionally tend to write blogs about the show. Some of my favorite search terms are “once upon a time lesbian” (110 queries), “once upon a time lesbian kiss,” and “regina mills sexy.” I hope these webs surfers are not too disappointed when they land on my blog rather than something extra juicy.

Here are some other search terms my readers like to use:

“shingles face”

“school toilet”

“colon cleanse”

“sleepover party”

“too much poop”

“work at home mum makes $10,397/month part-time”

“is 50 shades of grey nasty”

“my husband loves me too much”

“sexy rubber gloves”

“trough sink at Costco”

“busy mom porn”

I have no idea who’s googling “busy mom porn,” and how they ended up on my website, but it kind of creeps me out.

Although there’s a “mom” in the title of “Very VERY Busy Mom,” there’s not one search term for “coupons,” “recipes,” “crafts,” or “cleaning.” Probably because I’ve never written about them. Well… maybe cleaning, or rather the lack thereof. Hence the “too much poop” search term.

If you’re reading my blog this very minute and it’s Wednesday, January 30, 2013, you are approximately my 50,235th viewer.

If it’s the year 2020, you’re either #6,547,289,136 or you’ve reached something called “Page Not Found.”

Will I put up a McDonald’s sign? “6,547,289,136 Viewers Served!”

What will I feed them all?

Apparently a few more Once Upon a Time predictions and something I can prepare with sexy rubber gloves.

I appreciate you stopping by Very VERY Busy Mom today. Have a muffin and some lemonade on your way out. I’m off to plant a second lemon tree.


Filed under Career, Family, Friends, Humor, Husband, Kids, Parenting

My New Year’s Resolution this Year: No More Resolutions!

No New Year's ResolutionsThere is one topic of conversation today that dominates all others: New Year’s resolutions.

Correction. For this year only, everyone’s talking about surviving the Fiscal Cliff. However, a close second is the aforementioned New Year’s resolutions.

This year I’m boycotting.

Every year on January 1st I vow to eat healthier and to exercise more. It’s one of those blood oath vows that I am 100% certain will stick. My goal is to lose 20 lbs., which is stupidly unrealistic because in order to maintain 110 lbs., I would have to live on a diet of diluted vegetable broth and run a half marathon on a daily basis. Frankly, I could care less how much I weigh as long as I lose this jiggly abdomen I’ve acquired this year and have arms strong enough to paint a ceiling without taking a break every five minutes.

I’m not going to call it a resolution. But I’m definitely doing more planks and eating less popcorn.

I also think I’m going to get more organized. It actually is a necessity because the clutter is clogging up the good stuff I can’t find. I keep meaning to make the transition from paper Day Planner to Google Calendar so the rest of the family can see what I’ve planned for them without having to decipher my chicken scratch.

Every year I hope that the coming year will be the one that gets us out of debt. This year I’m more realistic. Short of winning lotto, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I just plan to keep what I’m doing – paying my bills on time, juggling balance transfer deals, and only buying what I absolutely need. There are a lot of folks who are too poor to even accomplish that goal, so I absolutely feel like one of the fortunate ones. Of course I still wouldn’t turn down that lotto win.

Maybe I’ll eat healthier, exercise more, get organized, and pay off some debt in 2013, but I’m not going to make a deal with the devil to do it. If I fail, I’m not going to kick myself, single-handedly devour an entire Boston cream pie, toss out my Thighmaster, haphazardly throw the contents of my entire garage into a rent-a-dumpster or run through the mall like a banshee throwing my Visa card at everything in sight.

It’s the resolution relapse that bites you in the butt every time.

When exploring a list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, I realize that there’s a bunch that I already do. I’ve never smoked, I already quit drinking, I tell my kids and husband everyday that I love them, I volunteer, I recycle, and I already went back to school. I’d like to learn more Spanish than “¿dónde está el baño?and “con queso por favor,” but if I don’t master the language this year, I can at least practice rolling my “R’s.”

Many people put travel among their list of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t, because it would cancel out the previous paying-off-debt goal.

Some aim for a better job. I actually like my job, and my boss pays me well, but I could use some extra hours in the off-season. I can aim for that, but I’m not going to call it a resolution. It’s more like making some phone calls to see if there’s any freelance work to be had.

Wait. I already do that.

Another typical resolution is to learn something new.  If I had the time, I’d do that more often, but I figure that I’ll have plenty of time for that in the old folks’ home.

A resolution that’s popping up more these days is vowing to manage stress. I could use a little more of that one, but since my bad bout of shingles last year, I’ve really been trying to get enough sleep and not get freaked out by the things I can’t control. So I guess I’ve been sticking to that last year’s resolution. Done.

Here’s what I really want to do in 2013:

I want to write more Facebook comments.

I want to accept that other parents won’t become more courteous drivers just because I roll my eyes at them when they double park at school pick up.

I want to watch more Jon Stewart.

I want to quit obsessing over gas prices.

I want to take a bath one day.

I want to find a better hiding place to store my son’s coloring pages than the recycling bin.

I want to dye my hair before my roots are an inch long.

I want to beat my kids in a game of Apples to Apples.

I don’t want any of my blogs to be stinkers.

Sometimes I just want to do nothing.

I’m hoping to do all these things in 2013. I’m just not going to call them resolutions.


Filed under Anxiety, Career, Debt, Family, Financial Insecurity, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Illness, Kids, Parenting

As One “Dirty Job” Ends, Another One Begins

Poopy toiletAfter eight fun-filled yet horribly repulsive seasons, the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs has been canceled. Crawling through garbage, vomit, sewage, yucky muck, wiggly insects, or as host Mike Rowe describes in his Huffington Post farewell article, “feces from every species,” Rowe has taken pride and humor in profiling every crappy job that will make you eternally grateful for your crappy job.Dirty Jobs With Mike Rowe

This week, I had my own crappy job, but fortunately it had nothing to do with my show Once Upon a Time (I’m the dialogue editor).

At this point I advise any readers who are easily repulsed (yes – that means you, Gayle), to quickly click the “X” above this page and tune in another day. On the other hand, you probably already did that the second you saw the photo of the huge bubbling caldron of poop soup in my toilet, so by now I’m just speaking to the wind.

Super Colon CleanseI suppose that it’s fitting that I should work on a show that features magic in every episode, because I myself take a magical pill every day. Rather than turn me into a princess or a toad or something truly spectacular, this magical pill does exactly the opposite – it turns me completely regular.

By regular, I mean regular bowel movements.

The magical pill is called Super Colon Cleanse, and I buy it from the apothecary known as Trader Joe’s. Super Colon Cleanse silhouettesThe front of the bottle features silhouettes of a healthy man and woman standing in relaxed, carefree poses. The image is reminiscent of a classic James Bond main title sequence, which might be incredibly sexy if the couple wasn’t placed right next to the drawing of a large colon. imagesHowever, their casual stances do seem to be indicative of the effectiveness of their product. This is not a pose that screams: “Get out of my way! I need to get to the bathroom NOW!”Super Colon Cleanse colon

The magical ingredient in Super Colon Cleanse is psyllium, a dietary fiber that makes all who ingest it able to properly and regularly eliminate harmful toxins and waste products, or in layman’s terms, it makes me have a really good poop at the same time every morning.

Usually there is a perfect Circle of Life analogy to Super Colon Cleanse. Water is poured over the Plantago plant… which makes the psyllium seed… which is poured into capsules… which are poured into me… which turns into waste that gets poured into the toilet… which pours into water treatment plants… which cleanse the water enough to pour it back onto the plant.

Yesterday the Psyllium Circle of Life took a sudden halt at the toilet stage.

I sat down on my abode at my normally scheduled time, unclogged my own personal pipes, and pushed down the handle to flush my contribution to the next set of pipes. However, instead of spinning in the proper clockwise downward direction toward the 3-inch toilet hole, my deposit merely spun without disappearing, as if my bowl was set on the slow speed of bottomless Cuisinart.

I tried again. Within that split second of releasing the flush handle, I prayed to the porcelain gods not to make that muck overflow onto my bare feet.

The gods heard me. So instead of mopping up a feces-filled floor, I’ll have to drop a few bucks into the Salvation Army bucket next time I go to the market.

I always keep my end of a bargain.

I nabbed the plunger and started heaving and hoeing, plunging and purging, as I counted “1 – 2 – 3 – 4…” all the way to 25.  I did another set of 25. And another.

Defeated, I set the plunger aside and went back to work. Also, I opened the window because the stench was stifling. I know men like to think that their sh*t don’t stink, but I’m honest enough to admit that my morning constitutional can knock a buzzard off a gut wagon.

About 15 minutes later I went in to give it another try. “1 – 2 – 3 – 4…” Three sets of 25. I was starting to feel it in my triceps.

By this time, anything that may have been even slightly solid had now been completely liquefied. The toilet resembled a big bowl of tasty overcooked black bean soup – without the tasty.

“1 – 2 – 3 – 4…”

I performed this 3 sets of 25 workout all morning and into the afternoon. Every hour, the liquid would seemingly disappear, but the moment I flushed, the elixir would return black as ever.

Even though I was gag-ridden by this mountain of muck all morning, all this exercise was making me work up an appetite, so I stopped for lunch, then took a trip to buy a snake.

No, I’m not aware of a useful reptile that will eat through a clogged toilet bowl, but if National Geographic ever finds one, I’ll be first in line to adopt it. I drove to our local hardware store and purchased a “plumber’s snake” – a malleable steel rope that can force its way through curved pipes.

And then I did what any smart woman would do: I waited for my husband to come home from work and let him finish the job.

He did. And after less than a half hour and the eruption of a few curse words, the bowl was clean enough to eat (I just added this line for anyone who by this time isn’t completely grossed out).

However, I can already guess what my husband’s planning to buy me for Christmas:

Room freshener.


Filed under Anxiety, Career, Humor, Husband

Cheers to 17 Years Without a Drink

It was 17 years ago today that I boarded an airplane headed for Tucson, Arizona for a month-long retreat.  I was heaving into the barf bag the whole way, but I was certain that the rest and relaxation would be worth the journey.

A few days before, I had viewed the accommodations on a video and was looking forward to hiking, swimming, horses, and sampling the menus from their world-class chef.

The best thing about it? It was absolutely free!

And it would change my life forever.

No, I didn’t win an all-expenses paid vacation. And I wasn’t throwing up in the plane because of motion sickness.

That day, on October 1, 1995, I was praying to the porcelain God (disguised as an air sickness bag), because that Sunday, just like every other day, I was hungover.

And I was not going to a 4-star hotel.

I was going to rehab.

In 1993 I was a newlywed and we knew we wanted kids someday. I’m smart enough to know that pregnant women don’t drink, so I thought it might be time to start cutting down on my nightly wine with dinner.

For an entire year I tried tapering down, but instead it just made me crave it more. So on September 13, 1994, the morning of my 32nd birthday, I made a deal with myself.

Today I won’t have anything to drink.

That night I told myself I was an idiot. Who in their right mind would not want a drink on her birthday? So I had a glass or two or three or more, and decided to try again tomorrow.

I woke up on September 14th and made a new vow.

Today I won’t have anything to drink.

But it turned out to be the birthday of my friend Mauricio, so I took him out for margaritas.

I don’t remember why I didn’t keep my deal on the 15th, but the 16th was a Friday, the 17th was a Saturday, and the 18th was a Sunday, so I obviously had very good reasons to have a beer or a mai tai or a Long Island iced tea (or a fill in the blank with your favorite cocktail) those days. Everyone drinks on the weekend.

I woke up the morning on September 18th and made another promise to myself.

Today I won’t have anything to drink.

And so the days continued. If I had a good day, I deserved to celebrate. If I had a bad day, well damn it, I deserved a drink. One day the dogs didn’t chew up anything, and I thought that was a good reason to have a drink.

Meals held new importance. It wasn’t, “I feel like having tacos,” or “I’m craving sushi.” Instead, it was, “I feel like a margarita. Let’s have Mexican,” or “I want some sake. Let’s do Japanese.”

I’d tell myself I was just going to have one glass. Just one. No matter what. Honest to God. But after one sip I was telling myself I was stupid for thinking that. I’d be craving the second one even as the first sip was greasing my throat.

But I wasn’t an alcoholic. No way. My dad died of alcoholism. Cirrhosis of the liver. He was only 45, but he looked like he was 80. He had no job, no money and no hope. I had a good job. I never drank in the morning. And I never drank on the job.

I called myself a responsible hedonist.

I woke up the morning of September 13, 1995 with the alarm clock screaming at me and my stomach performing cartwheels. I recited the mantra I had been repeating every day for the past year.

Today I won’t have anything to drink.

And I suddenly realized that this was an impossible vow. I was bright, I had everything going for me, and I was the hardest worker I knew, and yet there was something inside of me that was completely powerless over alcohol.

I’d like to say that this was the day I sober. But it wasn’t. I continued to drink for another two weeks, until one day I woke up and I was just done. I was sick of being hungover, I was sick of making the same empty promise every day, and I was pissed at the world.

I’d also like to say that I entered rehab to get sober, but the truth is, I was hoping that they could just teach me how to have two drinks and call it a night. I also wanted a tan. And some good ideas for a screenplay.

As I boarded that plane, in my wildest dreams it never occurred to me that I would never drink again. Sometimes the thought is still too overwhelming.

But for 17 years, one day at a time, I’ve been waking up in the morning and uttering a new vow.

Thank you God for keeping me sober for another day.


Filed under Anxiety, Career, Recuperating