Category Archives: Teenagers

Happy Valentine’s Day! Don’t Give Me Cooties!

no romantic dinner Restaurants, florists and jewelry shops would like to convince you that Valentine’s Day is for lovers. And that passion will grow if you just fork out a fortune at a crowded restaurant, buy a dozen long stemmed roses on the most expensive day of the year, or purchase an overpriced diamond that has a used street value that’s less than a non-Smart cell phone.

Valentine’s Day does serve that minute population of those who are newly in love – those optimistic souls who met on Match.com within the past two or three months and whose relationship is still at the stage where they lock the bathroom door when they use the toilet. For the other 99.9% who are in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is kind of a hassle – especially when it falls on a weeknight as it does this year. The rest of us are too exhausted to go out and celebrate, and if we do, we’re too sleepy and bloated to consummate the evening after a big fancy meal.

This year my husband Tom and I will do what we do every year: buy each other a funny card. He’ll make his famous jambalaya, which is tastier than any restaurant, and for a fraction of the cost. We’ll celebrate the most romantic night of the year by dining with our three children. Jake will complain that he doesn’t like it, so he’ll get a bowl of white rice. Emily the vegetarian will have a separate meatless bowl, and Mary will try to nab the last piece of garlic bread. Our meal will be served in the kitchen. There will be no candles. No romantic music. And I will do the dishes.

We have a special event this year on Valentine’s Day evening. Jake is having a Cub Scout Pack meeting. Tom and I will celebrate by giving each other a little smooch during the event, then wait for the cubs to mutter “Eeewwww! Gross!”

The demographic that really caters to Valentine’s Day are children 12 and under. They celebrate by buying Valentine’s Day cards for every member of their classroom. They’re not allowed to just bring something for the boy or girl they have a crush on. They must also deliver a card to the boy that creeps them out or the girl who’s a big tattletale. Even the kids who give other kids cooties receive cards asking “Will You Be My Valentine?” Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when you can tell that girl who doesn’t bathe often that she’s as sweet as Snow White, and she won’t think you’re hot for her. And although boys bring cards for boys and girls bring cards for girls, that doesn’t make them gay. Although it’s ok with me if they are.

kids cards

Kids’ Valentine’s Day cards come in a huge assortment, advertising hit Pixar or Dreamworks movies and Disney or Nickelodeon tv shows, and they usually have some accompanying prize attached. This year they include Brave cards with pencils, Phineas & Ferb cards with tattoos, Star Wars cards with glow sticks, and Transformers cards with erasers. I didn’t see Family Guy valentines, which is a good thing since Jake would have chosen them and all the elementary school parents would know that I’m a bad mom for letting him watch a show that would be rated R if it was live action.

Somehow I just don’t see the romance in Transformers. What kind of wish do they give the recipient? “Have a Apocalyptic Valentine’s Day?” “Be My Disastrous Demolition Valentine?”

tween cards

For the tween set, there’s Justin Bieber with tattoos that say “I heart JB,” Twilight Breaking Dawn with stickers, and Mustache cards with tattoos (where did this big craze about mustaches come from? Charlie Chaplin? Burt Reynolds? Hitler? Fodder for another blog).

mustaches

Jake picked out the cards from the movie Madagascar 3. It features Valentine’s Day wishes combined with circus advertisements for the cast. “May Your Valentine’s Day be Just Darling” also hawks “Gloria – the World’s Most Graceful Hippo.” I doubt Jake gave any thought as to whom he should give this card. However, if I was an overweight girl, I would be terribly offended.Madagascar 3

Crafty moms make hand-cut cards and fancy treat baggies, downloading ideas from Pinterest, Etsy, and Martha Stewart. I’m not one of those moms. Even if I had time on my hands I wouldn’t be one of those moms. I’m not creative or crafty, so whenever my kids have to build a class project like a Leprechaun Trap or a Spanish mission, I pimp out my oldest daughter Emily who lives her life outside of the box.

Most of the kids tape some sort of treat to the bag, usually SweeTarts or chocolate kisses – the official candies of Valentine’s Day. I might steal the kisses from my kids, but the SweeTarts get tossed into the candy bin that holds all the Easter, Halloween, birthday piñata candy, and a lone half-sucked on Christmas candy cane.

Jake’s teacher this year is forbidding treats of any kind, which will most likely cause a riot on the playground at recess with those kids nabbing candy from the students with more lenient teachers. Jake’s Valentine’s Day card package included temporary tattoos of all the Madagascar 3 characters. I’m hoping that Jake’s teacher doesn’t classify non-edible items as treats and allows them as gifts. On the other hand, even though tattoos and stickers may be classified as non-edible items, there is a good chance that some of the kids will still try to eat them – especially if it is something of the scratch & sniff variety.

By coincidence, on Valentine’s Day this year, Dr. To (pronounced “toe”), our local pediatric dentist, is coming to all the kindergarten classes to show kids the proper way to brush (follow the link in her name. She’s Jake’s dentist and we love her!). Then on Friday she’s doing the same for the 1st grade classes. This is perfect timing, since other than the day after Halloween, the day after Valentine’s Day will be the day most likely for rampant sugar to rot baby teeth.

Although Jake’s friends possibly spend hours addressing Valentine’s Day cards (or their parents whole minutes), I’m never sure what to with all those grams after the holiday. Jake and I read them together, and before the weekend they’ll magically disappear into our recycling bin.

Isn’t that romantic?

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Kids, Public Schools, Teenagers

Missing the Kodak Moment on the First Day of School

I am a terrible mother.

Today was the first day of the 2012-2013 school year. I dropped off Mary at the middle school gate, walked Jake to our local elementary school and into his new class, and since Emily is in high school I just gave her a firm kick out the front door. After my kids were tightly locked down into their three respective LA Unified schools, I came home, poured myself another cup of coffee and posted the following to my Facebook page:

“It feels so weird to have the house to myself.”

I hit “post” and then proceeded to read my friends’ News Feed for the morning.

That’s when I realized I deserved the Worst Mother of the Year Award.

Every single post of every single parent of a school-aged child had already uploaded a photo of their little angel’s first day of school. The kiddos were carrying Angry Bird lunch boxes and had Dora the Explorer backpacks over their shoulder blades and their spotless shoes were glittering and their shiny outfits were so new the tags were probably pulled off on the way to class. They were posing with old friends and new teachers, clutching siblings, and wiping the tears away from their sobbing parents.

I, on the other hand, had completely forgotten about that precious Kodak moment. And now it was too late.

It’s not like I could barge into my 16-year old’s French III class with my iPhone blazing. “Excusez-moi, Madam,” I could have said, and that would be the end of it since I don’t speak French. Then I’d take a quick snapshot of my daughter hiding under her desk. For the rest of her high school career, she would be known as That girl with the crazy paparazzi mom.

I wouldn’t have been allowed to sneak into my 11-year old’s drama production class and loudly proclaim to her teacher that being the thespian that he is, he should understand why I must stop the class in their tracks from learning a Shakespeare sonnet or a David Mamet play or some improv demonstration where they all pretend to be caterpillars just so my daughter can be seen on the big screen (big depending on how large your computer monitor is). Normally I humiliate her just by breathing. This stunt would have pushed her so far over the edge that she probably have come home and tried to OD on gummy vitamins.

And now that my baby boy is a big 1st grader, he’d be completely mortified if I popped into his new class and interrupted a lively reading of Junie B. Jones.

“Stand over here next to Hendrix and say ‘cheese!’”

Then I’d reposition him and shove another of his soon-to-be-former friends into the group.

“Let’s do another one with Charlotte since you weren’t smiling.”

Then he’d excuse himself to go to the little boys’ room and never come back.

I could have had my first day of school Facebook photos. But alas, I missed my moment.

So here’s my re-creation:

I took it after my kids got home. Notice that Emily and Mary are already wearing their pajama bottoms.

It’s too late to capture that first day of school moment. But at least I still have time to embarrass my kids.

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Filed under Anxiety, Family, Humor, Kids, Parenting, Public Schools, Teenagers

Have Car, Will Travel – As Soon As My Daughter Gets Her License

Emily with her 1190 Volvo 240 DL

My daughter Emily is a resourceful gal. She’s not quite 16 and doesn’t yet have her learner’s permit, but with her own hard-earned money she’s already purchased her first car – a 1990 Volvo 240 DL. She bought it for $1,000 and spent another $500 to get it in top running shape so in a week or two when she gets her permit she’ll be traveling in style. Even though she just got the air conditioner refurbished, it’ll have to be in not-so-cool style since an adult (most likely me) by law has to drive shotgun for the next six months.

For a 22-year old car, her Volvo is in great shape. Rather than shop for a flashier car, Emily is thrilled to own an automobile with some character to it, as well as a great safety rating. There’s a reason that the incredibly bad (and mercifully short lived) 1992 tv show Woops! featured a main character who survived a nuclear holocaust because he was driving his Volvo at the time.

It’s déjà vu all over again, as the oft-quoted Yogi Berra used to say. I was just 15 and a half when I bought my first car – a 1967 Chevy Chevelle, which like Emily’s auto was an older, white, 4-door sedan. I scored it for just $350, which was a sweet deal for any running car, even back in the Carter era.

Not my actual car but a re-creation through the magic of Power Point

It used to be a Shell Oil test car, so my vehicle had the letters R2-16 stenciled on the sides and top. Star Wars was released the year before, so I called my car R2 for short, as in R2-D2.  Although there weren’t any visible rips, I could feel the seat’s springs popping through my bony butt, which made for an interesting ride on bumps and curves. One door didn’t lock; another didn’t open. The roof had a one-inch hole in it, so the inside got a little wet on rainy days. The passenger side floor had an even larger rusty opening, so it was quite a conversation starter to be able to watch the road racing below my guests’ feet. I used to compare the hole to the main title sequence of The Flintstones, since instead of running his car on horsepower, Fred literally ran on foot power.

For some lack of common sense on my part, I affixed my first bumper sticker to the back end:

“I’m not a cowboy. I just found the hat.”

This was three years before Urban Cowboy. God knows what I was thinking.

I was quite the dweeb.

Back in 1978, an 11-year old car seemed mighty long in the tooth, yet Emily’s new car is old enough to successfully get carded in Vegas. Even though it is officially an antique (apparently cars get that rating after 20 years) our new mechanic at Zen Volvo told us she’s got a lot of good years left in her. I’m assuming Emily will refer to it as a her, but knowing my eclectic daughter, her car is bound to be ambisexual.

I wish I had taken pictures of R2 during the short time I owned my Chevy Chevelle.  I guess I should have thought to randomly take a shot with my cheap Kodak camera, drop off the film at Thrifty Drugs and wait a week or two for the film to develop in a lab somewhere far away, but it never occurred to me that my first car would be totaled in a freak head-on collision only a few months after my 16th birthday.

Today it’s a breeze to pull out my iPhone and instantly post a photo of Emily and her new car to her Facebook page. God willing, Emily won’t be losing her new wheels in a freak head-on collision any time soon. But the good news is, even if she did, she’d probably walk away from the accident without so much as a blister. After all, this is the car that survived a nuclear holocaust, and lasted two decades longer than a failed sitcom.

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Filed under Humor, Teenagers

($ ÷ Gallon) x (Miles ÷ Gallon) = LA Gasoline Anxiety

Here's the gas prices at the station closest to my home. Aaaahhhh!!!

With the astronomical price of gas these days, I start to have an anxiety attack each moment my odometer clicks another tenth of a digit. I quickly do the math in my head: if my 15-year old minivan gets 16 miles per gallon of gas and I pay $4.50 for each gallon, I am coughing up over 28 cents for every tenth of a mile. It now costs twice as much in gas to deliver my daughter’s forgotten brown bag lunch than to just make her buy lunch at the school cafeteria. What a dilemma!

When I got my driver’s license in 1978, I remember paying just 64 cents for a gallon of gas. I say this and I feel like the old geezers who complain how when they were kids they used to walk to school uphill both ways. Suddenly I’m older than dirt.

Today, as I near a hundred bucks a pop, each time I fill up my tank I feel like I just lost the kids’ college fund – that is if I was wealthy enough to actually have a decent kids’ college fund. My head pounds, I feel emotionally sick, and I am suddenly terrified of the future of both my family and America as a whole.

With such an adverse reaction, you would think that my work commute must be an enormous trek and I am suddenly spending a fortune in gas.

Wrong.

Actually, my commute distance is exactly 13-1/2 inches and takes about a nanosecond, so it costs exactly no dollars and zero cents in gas to drive to work.

Jealous? I don’t blame you.

My editing system sits on a desk near the foot of my bed and I am able to upload and download my session via the Internet. I work a 48.6 hour week (blame my union for this obscure number) and I can do it all in my pajamas.

I can’t image how I’d afford gas if I still commuted from the home in Chino I sold in 1992. It’s a 90 mile round trip to Burbank, so at 16 miles per gallon I’d be spending over $550 in gas each month. Plus I’d be wasting about 15-20 hours each week staring at lame bumper stickers and the rear ends of all those SUVs that have stick figure drawings with family member names underneath, all the while sucking up thousands of Verizon minutes yacking with people who’d certainly be tired of talking to me after the first ten minutes.

Thank you God for telecommuting.

I do have to drive a mile and a half each way every week (84¢) to drop off and pick up my external hard drive from my assistant/right hand man Eddie. I also travel four miles ($2.25 round trip) to the Disney lot and swing by the dub stage, mostly to keep my chops primed in having three-minute conversations with actual adults who work in post-production sound. In real life, the majority of my conversations consist of telling my 5-year old to stop squirming and keep his finger out of his nose, so the last thing I want to do is instinctively bark these orders at the dedicated mixers of Once Upon a Time.

So if I’m not paying up the wazoo in my work commute, where does all the gas money go?

Jake’s school is three blocks away, and since he’s a pokey walker, we drive. I figure the trip there and back costs a little less than 20 cents a day. In a week I spend less than the price the ice cream man charges for a SpongeBob on a stick. Such a bargain!

I’m the afternoon carpool mom for Mary’s school which is three miles away, and I drive about six miles on the way home dropping off the other middle school kids. That gas bill adds up to about $2.53 each day. In a week, I spend more in gas than I would in buying a half dozen Red Bulls – which I recently cut out of my budget because they’re now a luxury I can’t afford. Please don’t tell my insurance agent this if I happen to fall asleep at the wheel.

Emily attends Cleveland Humanities Magnet which is a 28-mile round trip and would cost nearly $40 a week in gas. I have all you Los Angeles property owners to thank for generously donating your tax dollars. So far LAUSD has not completely cut funding for Magnet School buses, so for me, Emily is a freebie.

I don’t have the luxury of time on my hands, yet I will still drive six miles and wait for 20 minutes in line to fill up at the Costco gas station to save a few cents.  Actually, it’s more than a few cents. Yesterday Costco gas was $4.21 a gallon, but the closest gas station to my home was $4.75. They have the audacity to charge $4.99 for premium, and at that price “premium” should mean “with complimentary foot rub.” Don’t even get me started on the three-millimeter sized “9/10” at the end of every gas price. Is there any other product that charges an extra nine-tenths of a cent?

Even with my Costco membership, it now costs more time and money to buy a gallon of gasoline than it does to get a Starbucks Venti Frappuccino. It’s too bad my minivan doesn’t run on iced coffee. Especially since I make my own cup a Joe. After all the money we spend on gas these days, who can afford to buy anything from Starbucks?

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Parenting, Public Education, Public Schools, Teenagers

Why My Husband Scares the Crap Out of Our Kids: Football

"I have been rather naughty"

My husband Tom is a pretty mellow fellow. Nothing fazes him much. He has the kind of job where everyone calls him when something goes wrong and he’s the guy who has to find the right person to fix it. If that right person flakes out (which happens often) Tom is the murdered messenger. Yet he still rarely loses his cool.

Tom didn’t get mad at me when I broke a hole in the bathroom sink, or yell at Jake when he drew all over our coffee table in Sharpie, or chew out Mary when she cut her own hair, or lose his patience when Emily comes up with yet another ridiculous teen angst comment. But there’s one thing that really gets his blood boiling enough to scream bloody murder:

Football.

Tom spent all day yesterday watching football. Apparently there were two playoff games – the Ravens vs. the Patriots and the Giants vs. the 49ers. As a sports novice, I imagine that it would be a no-brainer. With everyone abuzz about the Republican primaries, Patriots would certainly squash any bird (definitely Ravens, but probably not Bald Eagles) and I picture someone akin to Jack in the Beanstalk’s 100 foot Giant stomping out a bunch of old men with bad backs panning for gold.

Tom was rooting for the Ravens, and although he usually goes for the Niners (apparently this is the lingo for Forty-niners), he likes the coach for the Giants. (If you’re reading this blog, Tom… see? I do listen to you sometimes. Or did I get it backwards?).

He has been warning the family for weeks that during the playoffs we’d better stay out of the living room and not bother him. This was going to be his day to park himself in front of the tv and enjoy the games.

I need a new definition of the word “enjoy.”

Throughout the afternoon, Tom was screaming. “Go! Go! Go, dammit!” He was also dropping the F-Bomb a lot. Correction. Not dropping the F-Bomb. He was literally hurling it through the air like a cannonball exploding from Big Bertha. Not just once. Several times throughout the day. This from a guy who seldom curses.

When we were first dating, the girls and I were invited to a Superbowl party at his house. Emily was 8 and Mary was 4 and they didn’t know Tom well yet. He had offered to help Emily with a class project during halftime.

Everyone in her 3rd grade class had to build a musical instrument and Emily decided on a harp. God help me. I didn’t know the first thing about how to construct a harp. Tom was handy with tools and had his own power saw. He told us what kind of wood and screws to purchase at Home Depot, so while other guests walked in with chips and seven layer dips, we entered with extra long 2x4s and a baggie filled with bolts.

Superbowl began, and I immediately realized that the sweet man I had been dating was magically transformed into a madman just by adding football to the mix. Tom spent the game pacing and squirming uncontrollably like a dog about to give birth to a boatload of puppies. Then with no warning whatsoever, he jumped up screaming and cursing at the television set.

“Go! Go! Go, dammit! Move, you f@%$ing tool!”

I had heard about such men, but I’d never seen one in action.

My girls were terrified, and frankly so was I. How could a bunch of steroid-laden goons in helmets and padding bumping into each other at great speeds have such an effect on my beau? Would his maniacal anger continue through halftime? Could I trust him in the garage with power tools and my little angel when he was threatening to murder an entire team?

I shouldn’t have been concerned. As soon as the whistle blew for halftime, Tom was back to his normal sweet, mild-mannered self. Which was comforting because Emily and I were literally shaking in our boots.

Flash forward to 7 years later. We’ve been married for 6 years and have added our 5-year old son Jake into the family. Tom still shrieks at those football players for not doing what they’re told – as if he has a direct line from our little house in LA straight to a megaphone on the San Francisco football field.

The kids are used to the screaming by now, and know that it only happens on Sunday afternoons (and Monday nights, and occasionally Thursday nights. Apparently football is on way more often than I would like). The decibel level of Tom’s caterwaul seems to be directly proportional to the number of athletes on the field who are on his fantasy football team. If the kids’ friends come over, we have to warn them in advance that Tom will not be killing anyone, and he’s probably not yelling at them. That is, unless they wander in front of the tv set.

I know there are other men and women out there who spend Sundays screaming at their big screens, just as there are non-sports-loving spouses and partners who invest in either earplugs or an afternoon excursion far, far away from the game. For us, what is our football equivalent?

I am the dialogue editor for the television show Once Upon a Time on ABC, Sunday nights at 8:00. I’m also a big fan. What would be the reaction of our sports-obsessed mates if we all started screaming, “Just kiss her, David! Mary Margaret is your true love!” or “Don’t make that deal with Rumplestiltskin, Emma! The price is too steep!” or “C’mon, Storybrooke! Can’t you all see that the mayor is really the Evil Queen?”

From my experience, the spouses won’t have any reaction. They’ll be too busy screaming at the game that just went into overtime.

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Forbidden Fashion

My daughter Emily

I’ve been hospital and house-bound for over a month, so it was a real treat for my first night out to see my 15-year old daughter Emily modeling in a fashion show.

This was no ordinary fashion show. The event was curated by my friend Ann Closs-Farley, whose long list of credits include designing costumes for The Pee Wee Herman Show, Disney’s Toy Story: The Musical and An Evening Without Monty Python. Ann doesn’t just think outside the box. With her, there is no box. She is the most creative person I have ever met, and her show was expectantly outlandish.

Ribbon Hoop Dress made from ribboms and hula hoops

Criminal Couture: Forbidden Fashion is an event to fund projects for the Bootleg Theatre, a 1930’s warehouse and former bra factory that produces boundary-pushing and highly collaborative new work. Located in a funky area west of Echo Park, it’s the home of creative theatre, music, dance, film and art – often interwoven with a mix of the five.

For the past three weeks on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Emily has joined dozens of other models to show 60 gowns, all made from stolen, found or recycled materials by 27 different designers. The outfits are available for sale on ebay.

Take a look at some of these outrageous costumes. All photos are by Ashley West Leonard, except for Emily in the card dress, which was taken by her stepmom Julie.

The bad news is the show closes Saturday, December 17, but you can still bid on the dresses – that is unless Lady Gaga beats you to it.

Emily modeling Peep Show Cocktail Dress made from googly eyes

Emily modeling Pick a Card

Rubber Circles made from found inner tubes

Palm Bride Dress made from palm frongs

Dress made of mylar balloons

Drunk Dixie in her cups

Bubble Dress made from packing materials

X Men Suit

Dress made out of rum candy

Hoverdisc Dress

Dress made from found inner tubes

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Shingles! – More Painful Than Childbirth

My boss is kind enough to be one of my regular blog readers, so he took pity on me two weeks ago when I posted 10 Luxuries I Can Now Afford Since Once Upon a Time Got Picked Up for a Full Season and threw me another bone: four days of extra work on the TNT series Perception, starring Eric McCormick from Will & Grace, premiering summer 2012, but dubbing this week.

I could really use the cash and immediately started canceling some commitments, rearranging others and basically increasing my mega dose of caffeine. I had already written and was ready to post my next blog My Ex Husband is Getting Married Today for Friday 11-11-11. I threw on my cape, readied myself for a good night’s sleep sometime the next week, and started forging ahead. I’ve pulled this kind of task off many times before. But I was suddenly lambasted by a foe I had never before encountered.

Shingles.

I’ve had my share of pain in my life. I’ve broken my leg, cracked my coccyx, champed out stitches and suffered three experiences of childbirth ranging from all natural, to give me the epidural now!, to what the hell do you mean it’s too late for the f#%*ing epidural?

But nothing so far has prepared me for the sheer agony of shingles.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this ailment (myself included), it’s a painful rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox and is usually initiated by stress or a weakened immune system – which I guess is proof that I was unable to retain my Super-working-volunteer-mom status solely on a diet of Zipfizz and zero carb Monster energy drinks.

The Shingles started in my eye, and after being diagnosed with a migraine, a lacerated cornea and an ulcerated eyeball, the unbearable pain swirled through my eye and entire left side of my head, screaming for doctors to just murder me, because even though they wanted me to rate my pain level between 0 and 10, it had already zoomed past 12 on the agony Richter scale.

This cacophony of torment kept me incapacitated and hospitalized for a week and a half. I floated in and out of pain, sleep, and delusional pain meds for nearly a week, with an oozing eye covered in blisters and too swollen to see through. I resembled Sylvester Stallone in the first Rocky film when he begs his trainer to “Cut me, Mick!”

Still in a lot of pain, but definitely on the mend, it looks like I’ll be released from the hospital sometime tomorrow. I’ve got some vein bruising from my IV, so I can’t use my left hand. But my husband brought my laptop and reading glasses to the hospital today, so as I groggily hunt and peck the keyboard with one hand, I have composed:

10 Things I Learned From Having Shingles:
1. I am capable of lying in my own urine all night without realizing it. That’s how out-of-it I can be.

2. I can go 10 days without a bowel movement. My record was broken today after just five minutes experiencing my first-ever enema.

3. Hospital food isn’t that bad, particularly when you have no appetite. However, I realize that I actually like Jell-O.

4. I am eternally grateful for having good medical insurance. I don’t know yet what my out-of-pocket bills will ultimately be, but without insurance, that fear of living in an IKEA box could be a reality.

5. Without paying for Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig (both wonderful weight loss systems from what I hear) I managed to lose 8 lbs. in a week. This shingles weight loss method however is not recommended.

6. My lily-white mind-altering-chemical-free head makes me a very bad candidate for pain meds. I’ve never been into recreational drugs and haven’t had any alcohol in over 16 years (I seem to have more than made up for it with my insane caffeine intake), so Demerol, Dilaudid and Vicodin all gave me the dry heaves, and narcotics that helped the pain gave me weird and vividly real nightmares where cats and rats were chasing me, or that I was the star of my own Fellini film.

7. Commercials ultimately pay my salary, but I am oh so grateful to Dish TV for not forcing me to watch them. Because St. Joseph’s Hospital doesn’t have the luxury of Dish or TiVo, I was bombarded by not only the worst choices of daytime programming, but I was also forced to sit through the identical dozen or so lame commercials every 15 minutes. On the plus side, I was usually too incoherent to pay much attention.

8. I am officially burnt out on Law & Order SVU. I used to be a fan, but after finally getting some of my mind back, I was treated to an entire Sunday with SVU marathons on two different channels so I could switch back and forth whenever there was a commercial. I happened to catch a long stream of episodes where chest-beating outsiders came in for pissing contests with the regulars. And frankly, you can only see so many rapes in one day before you start feeling like Malcolm McDowell being sickened by ultra-violence in A Clockwork Orange. I finally turned it off for good with a bad case of the heebie jeebies and the uneasy feeling that no woman is ever completely safe.

9. No, the clock hasn’t stopped. It just feels that way because pain time moves so much slower than real time.

10. No one is indispensable – even me. I enjoy being a very VERY busy mom, and have a certain amount of narcissist pride that I can pull off anything if I set my mind to it. After my shingles experience, I know I can’t always do that. I missed my kids’ nighttime prayers and school activities, yet another one of my son Jake’s basketball practices, my daughter Mary Belle’s 11th birthday, and whatever teen angst my daughter Emily was going through this week. I dropped volunteer commitments that I take very seriously and social engagements with friends who may never be reunited again. I bailed on my husband, just as he was turning in the comps for his Ph.D., which was incredibly bad timing. My ego might tell me that I’m the best dang dialogue editor in the whole freakin’ universe, but when it came time for me to abruptly bail on not one but two shows, my boss found a couple of equally talented freakin’ great dialogue editors to step in at a moment’s notice to make sure they didn’t miss their dub date.

Yes, I can disappear for a week and a half (and I may still be out of commission for a few weeks) but the world keeps spinning on its axis. Others pitch in and save the day.

It will take me a long time to thank them all.

But I’m going to try.

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