Monday, December 28, 2009

Gently Quickly Peacefully

We carried our dog, Gordon gently into the doctor's office and laid him on a burgundy blanket on the floor. The lights were lit dimly. There was a fake orchid plant on the covered table behind us. Next to the well worn blanket was an old wooden rocking chair.

How many people held their beloved pets, rocking back and forth, to death? How many?

Gordon went peacefully. Quickly. He fell asleep and his heart just stopped. Quietly. Quickly. It seemed so easy, to easy.

He is gone.

And life goes on.

His passing marks an end of an era of little kids and endless hopes and dreams. His passing reminds me how humane we can be to our animals but not so to our Mothers and Fathers. He died gently, peacefully. He just went to sleep.

I will never forget him. Just like I will always remember "Little Boy," my childhood Chihuahua.

But Gordon was special. I know all dog lovers think their animals are special, but Gordon really was. He was kind, compassionate, funny, rambunctious, easy going, and lovable. He was the perfect dog for our family.

"An end of an era," is all that passes through my sad and tired mind. "An end of an era."

God-bless you Gordon. You will be missed!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Insanity or Crazed Motherhood?

OMG! So much has happened since my last post. I have been busy trying to stay sane. I haven't accomplished my goal. 2010 promises to be a year that is going to really put me on the brink of insanity. I can feel myself slipping into the deep abyss. I am standing, teetering, trying desperately to hold on. I know I sound melodramatic. But really I'm not. I'm not sure I'm going to make it.

Wouldn't insanity be better than this?

I have to learn to laugh at myself as I picture myself frazzled and dazzled, like a deer caught in the headlights.

Every day, except yesterday, since Winter vacation began, Kyle has given me a run for my money. And it has not been pretty. It has been so confusing that I couldn't even write about it.
Yesterday was the first peaceful day I had. And so here I am writing my thoughts. Finally.

Where do I begin? Bullet points are in order.

  • Kyle wants to drive across the Richmond Bridge with his girlfriend on a rainy/windy night at 10:00PM to visit a friend in Point Richmond. No way! Kyle and I both get in pissy moods.

  • Kyle is pissed that he can't meet his friends in San Rafael for ice cream at 10:00PM because he can't make his 11:00PM California driving curfew. Kyle and I both get in pissy moods.

  • Kyle can't understand why I won't let him spend the night in his girlfriend's dorm room. Kyle and I both get in pissy moods.

  • Kyle wants to spend New Years in Tahoe with a bunch of his friends, including his girlfriend. I tell him he can spend New Years Eve with them but then he has to come spend the rest of the nights with us and his Grandparents in Tahoe. Kyle and I both get in pissy moods.

Everyone has told me that when your kid goes off to college you will be ready. Even eager for them to leave. I didn't believe them. I still don't.

However, I see a distinct trend emerging. Kyle would rather be with his friends than us. And I don't think there is a way back from that. I think it is all over. Done. Complete. End of story. It has been a great run, but the show is now over! And it happened in a blink of an eye. And my heart aches.

Today, Kyle is going with his girlfriend and her family to the theater and dinner. Will has a date with his girlfriend to see Sherlock Holmes.

And on top of all of this, tomorrow we have an appointment to put our family dog, Gordon, down.

And I am just going through the motions. I am placing one foot in front of the other. I am just not sure that my foot will land on solid ground.

Strange thing these children. Advice needed!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

So, Christmas vacation is finally here. And it is wonderful to be at home with the kids. Peace is restored. It just wasn't easy getting to this place.

After Will's bout with the swine flu and all the school he missed, he had so much homework to make up! And then he had to shadow a couple of independent high schools to see if he wanted to apply to them.

And Kyle was busy and stressed about finals!

I did the smart thing and headed to New York during the last week of school. I wish I could say that I took off for a fun little excursion to the big apple--but it was work. Fun work-- but work!

So, I avoided the stress at our home. Almost! I came back the last night of finals and you could literally feel the air sucked out of the house. Everything and everyone felt deflated.

But things changed quickly. The last final was over for Kyle and Will had only one day left of school.

I picked up Kyle and couple of his friends after their last exam and took them to lunch. I had so much fun with them. How wonderful it is to be able to hang out with your kid and some of their buddies when they are not filled with obligations and pressure. It was a little bit of heaven.

However, that night, at 9:00PM, Kyle decided he should begin studying for his SAT test that he is signed up for in March.

This took me completely off guard. I looked at him like he was from another planet?

He looked at me with the look of a lost child.

A few weeks earlier, I had signed him up for a SAT prep course that costs a fortune. I had told him that he needed to be in charge of his own schedule and that he should realize how expensive it was and make sure to take full advantage of the opportunity. I didn't know that I had just put more stress on my already stressed out teen-ager. Oops!

After I realized he had scheduled a lesson the day after finals, I told him he should think about canceling the lesson. I told him I thought he needed a break.

Well, I pushed some mysterious button and Kyle fell apart! All the stress of the last weeks broke from within my poor son's exhausted body and he didn't know quite what to do with all his pent up frustration. Finally, he decided to take it out on me.

This time I really don't think I did anything wrong. I actually think I got it right for once. Because I had been away I had the clarity to realize Kyle was just letting off steam. And I knew I had to let him.

The next morning he awoke a brand new child. He was smiling again and we spent the morning together. It was perfect.

I know this won't last. He will be forced back to face the ridiculous anxieties of his junior year of high school! This makes me so unbelievably mad! It really is wonderful to spend the brief moments of time you have with your teen-ager when he is not stressed out.

When did life change? When did my child become more stressed out than me? He is only 16-years-old!

For now, I hope to celebrate the holidays with my children close at hand. I wish everyone could celebrate with their loved ones near by. And I will cherish the peace. And I will believe that it will last. One never knows!

Monday, December 7, 2009

How exciting. It's my birthday. I really mean it. I love my birthday. I know I am suppose to dread being another year older but I don't think of it like that. I am delighted to have a special day and catch up with all my wonderful friends and family from around the world.

I also got to go to The House of Prime Rib last night with Kyle, Will, and Tom. We were ushered into a cozy bar area with a lovely fire. As we waited for our table, I remembered birthdays past when I celebrated with my Mom and Dad and Sister at a restaurant called Lawry's in Los Angeles. It is just like The House of Prime Rib, only here they take reservations.

It was delightful to share my past with my kids. They gobbled up their chilled salad using their chilled fork. They ate huge pieces of prime rib, bone intact and inhaled their yorkshire pudding. Kyle dabbed horse radish all over his meat, my favorite. And the bake potatoes were truly decadent. They were submerged with huge amounts of butter, sour cream, bacon bits, and chives.

We all came home feeling sick. But there was a wonderful feeling of Christmas in the air. And the air was cold. I kept hoping for snow. Snow would have been delightful. I told the kids they didn't have to go to school if it snowed. Tom looked at me like I was out of my mind, but he spent much of his youth back east so snow days were meant for real snow storms. But we are Californians. If I saw a single flake, the kids would be home today!

I have the whole day to look forward to. I feel like I am five. I remember my fifth birthday party. I just couldn't wait for the party to begin. I went around the already set table and ate the m 'n m's that were designated for my friends. My Mom didn't mind. She just refilled their bowls.

I used to have the most elaborate birthday cakes. Hansen's of Beverly Hills made gorgeous cakes and Mom always splurged. One birthday, one of the cloth figurines caught fire. It was very exciting.

I miss my Mom and Dad today and especially my sister. But I will enjoy the day for them, 'cause I know they are with me.

So, here's to turning 52-years-old and still acting like a child. It's great. I recommend that you all try it out. It beats the alternative.

I have to give one of those shout outs to my friend Kathleen. She told me I had to post today. This ones for her!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The day after Thanksgiving, the four of us pile into our car and take a ride up north to Sebastopol. It has become a family tradition. We search out the perfect Christmas tree farm, and begin the search for the even more perfect Christmas tree. We park the car and head for the hills. Kyle goes for the saw that looks like something from an Ignar Bergman film, and Will pulls the Christmas tree cart. We walk through endless isles of beautiful living Christmas trees and comment on each one.

"Look at the bald spot, that won't do."
"That one's too skinny."
"This one is perfect. Wait. No, it has some dead branches."

And so our search continues.

This year I spotted our tree the first moment of our arrival. But we had to look at all the trees to make sure it was the very best one. It was.

We take turns sawing the tree down. I think Tom does most of the heavy work but we all pretend to help. Kyle and Tom drag the tree to the Christmas tree cart and Will pulls down the country road, past Santa Claus Lane, to the shed near the entrance where a couple of men who look like they know what they are doing, plunk the tree on a long wooden bench and slide it through a contraption that tightly pulls netting around it.

They usually have to recut our trunk because we have normally sawed it improperly. This year it was perfect.

We drove back with our tree tied to the top of the car happily. We knew we had found the very best tree.

Getting the tree inside the house is always a fiasco, especially when the tree is 12 feet tall. But somehow we always manage.

It's not until the next day that we begin to decorate our new addition to the living room. And not before we enjoy Fondue Chinois. Yes, this is another family tradition. We place thinly sliced pieces of tender meat into a broth and wait for it to cook. Then we gobble up the cooked meat with a variety of sauces and condiments. And then finally we decorate.

I think this all got started when Kyle was in pre-school and he was asked to talk about his families holiday traditions. We must have done this once, the year before and he decided he liked it. After he told his little friends and teachers all about our "family tradition" it was created...and so it is...every year...rain or shine.

I am delighted to have a tradition. It grounds me and helps reassure me that we have a set of traditions that tie us together. I am sure the kids will always remember this event as the kick off of the holiday season. I think they will make an effort to come home and be apart of this tradition. I can almost imagine dragging little grandchildren through the Christmas tree farm--almost.

This year, Kyle brought his girlfriend with us. I thought it was wonderful that he wanted her to share this with us. He wanted her to be a part of our family tradition.

She was with us when we ate fondue Chinois and decorated the tree. It is wonderful to think that this simple tradition can unite us together and yet leave plenty of room for friends and lovers. I am delighted to be part of something so meaningful to the three men in my life.

Now, I have to make sure the tree is watered and well decorated. And I have to make sure we are not all too busy to enjoy its splendor. I sit on the couch and look at its lofty but peaceful presence and can't help but smile. I am thankful for my family!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I asked Kyle to read the beginning of my book this afternoon. He did so happily and then proceeded to plant his face in his computer. He gave me my 15 minutes, told me he liked my story, and quickly fell back into his own world.

I tried to ask him to elaborate but all I got was, "It's good, Mom. What more do you want?"

I think about the endless hours I have spent helping him study for tests, write papers, organize his schedule. And now I feel like I am intruding on him by asking him his opinion on a few pages of my manuscript.

He has so little free time that I was reluctant to ask him to read anything other than his schoolwork. But I did so because I value his opinion. I got precious little from him.

The door bell rang and his SAT tutor was here to begin math prep.

It took me hours to research the right tutors and set up his schedule. He does the heavy lifting, but so do I. Do I have the right to feel short changed? Is it my job to help him without asking for anything in return? I don't know the answer to this question. I really don't.

I seems that he should want to help me. But I understand that he has so many other people and activities vying for his attention. I know I am not at the top of the list. I probably am not on the list at all. And that is probably how it is suppose to be--so then why do I feel so empty?

Is this feeling of emptiness preparation for the future? Am I suppose to finally wake up and say to myself, "Get a life?"

I'm trying. And I tried to include him. Wrong time. Wrong place.

For now, I'll take a deep breath, check my ego at the door and go back into my hole and continue to write. Maybe one day he'll read my book because he wants to--when I don't expect anything from him at all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let me just say that for whatever reason I am stunned that there is indeed a generation gap between myself and my children. I don't know why this surprises me, but I think I was naive enough to believe that this would never happen.

I really thought I would stay relevant for a much longer period of time.

I guess things really do change that much in the course of twenty-five years. Think about our world now compared to our world at when we were 16-years-old. The differences are startling. But I somehow thought that I could transcend these differences and understand my children's world. I have fooled myself.

There is nothing specific that I can call upon, just an overall feeling that as much as I can pretend to understand my kids life, I really don't know what is like to be a teen-ager in 2009.

And this really bugs me. Sometime I think that is why our children have such great relationships with our parents. They don't pretend to understand what their grandchildren are living through. They accept generational differences and embrace their grandchildren with unconditional love.

I am still trying to build a bridge between the gap and cross it at will. This does not work.

It's like me having a facebook page. Even me Blogging is a bit odd. These are things best left to another generation. I thought I found the fountain of youth. Stay current and relevant and you will stay young. I can only use facebook as a 51-year-old uses facebook. I have no idea nor any desire to use it like Kyle uses it or how Will communicates with it.

There is something magical about new generations of kids taking hold of a world and leaving their mark on it. There is something poetic about us allowing them to do this.

It again comes down to balance. I seem to fall off my metaphoric tightrope way too often. But I will dust myself off and place one foot in front of the other as I make my way across the great generational divide.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Does everybody dislike Monday mornings as much as I do? I remember when I was going through puberty I used to hate Sundays. Sundays were melancholy days, days of rest with the anticipation of a long week of school ahead. I didn't like Sundays. They felt depressing. Now it's Mondays that has become my least favorite day.

The house feels so quiet on this still Monday morning. Even though Will is still home from school, I can't help but anticipate the madness of the week ahead. But in some strange way, I enjoy the madness of the week--it keeps me from thinking. Monday mornings are for thinking.

Monday mornings are for putting the air back into my flat tires. It takes a little work, but I have to do it! Once I am re-inflated I will glide through the week. Well, that's not entirely true. I will bump and grind my way through the week. But at lease there will be air in my tires. I might need an oil change or some extra gasoline--but I am inflated and ready to react.

This week I hope Will will be back to feeling himself. I have meetings and stories to write. I have parent conferences to attend and Communication night to participate in. This helps my life feel somewhat normal. But those still Monday mornings make me feel so darn alone. Each Monday morning I wake up and wonder if this is what my life will feel like every day when the kids are no longer at home.

I think I fear that the Monday morning blues will turn into Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday sadness. I think I worry that when my kids leave home I will become depressed.

I often think that the chaos of our lives is what propels us forward. We, as parents, have to be alert and attentive, communicative and diligent, loving and supportive. In fact we want to be all those things--but is it easier to be those things to our kids than ourselves. And what happens when the very heart of our existence changes? Can we adapt and change too? Or are we too old to change?

I know for myself that change is possible, just more difficult these days. Just sleeping in another bed is more difficult now than it was when I was young. I can't sleep the first night at a hotel or at a friend's home--it feels different and it takes me a little while to get used to the change. If a stupid bed is difficult to change, how does one change the entire way they look at their life?

I am struggling to discover the first day of the rest of my life and I can't even change beds. In fact, the more I think about it I realize that I have owned my bed for at least 16 years. It is probably time to invest in a new mattress. And even this thought terrifies me. It just won't feel the same!

If anybody had told me I would feel this way fifteen years ago I would have laughed in their face. No way that will ever be me! I am as easy going as they come. Crash! Slam on the brakes! I guess I'm really not. And isn't this the reality that awaits me. I am going to have to change in order to propel myself forward on my nicely inflated tires. You all know that I am full of hot air, but the real question remains can this hot air work for me instead of against me?

Hot air is full of passion and pathos, crazy rantings of menopausal women, laughter and a little bull----! Maybe I will try and remember that I have plenty of hot air with which to inflate my empty tires--and this might just be what I need to allow myself the delicious anticipation of change. It is change that will keep me safe from depression, change that gives me hope and a reason to not hate Monday mornings. Change that will keep me young.

What can I do to change one thing in my life today? That's the problem I can't thing of anything I am ready to change today. But I will leave the possibility open for tomorrow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

When Kyle was in second grade, he had to take his very first standardized test--the STAR test. He was a little anxious about this new experience. The teachers told the kids to get a good night sleep and told us parents to give our children healthy snacks. Kyle could feel that something important was happening.

Before he went to sleep, I told him to not worry about the silly old test and suggested he make pretty patterns on the score card instead. This served him well. He never was nervous again taking the yearly standardized test.

Now, as he embarks on his road toward college, I wish I could offer the same advice. Instead I have hired an SAT tutor that begins today.

I have actually thought about this quite a bit since Kyle's second grade experience. In fairness, I think part of my trepidation stems from the fact that I remember how much I hated taking these impossible tests that evaluate you based on a sheet of paper with tiny black pencil marks.
It seems so impersonal and calculating. The test was so long and so boring and you always had this awful fear that you missed a line and as a result all your answers would be wrong.

In the olden days just breaking a thousand was considered good. Do you remember that? Now kids receive perfect scores on parts of the test. And the test has become even longer. Universities look at your scores to see if you are worthy to walk their halls. Hard work, ambition, creativity don't seem to mean much if you don't score well on your standardized test.

It's all so ridiculous. But for the Stanley Kaplan's, IvyWests, Compasses, Revolution's of the world we are talking big business. Out of fear of not having options, kids spend endless hours with private tutors in hopes that their bubbles will be the right bubbles.

Today, at 4:00 PM Kyle begins his bubble filling journey. He will try and learn the little tricks that make you score higher on the almighty SAT! Then after he puts in hours of prep time, he will sit in a room with hundred of other kids early one saturday morning, and begin to fill in the bubbles on his score card. It seems so impossibly arcane.

I wish I could tell him just to make pretty patterns again. It was so much simpler then. And everything made much more sense.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

104.6 degree fever for poor Will last night. And I totally lost it. We tried everything to get the fever down. I was a mess. The fever kept inching higher and higher and he had taken advil two hours before. I made him take a tepid bath. But the fever still kept rising.

I felt so helpless. I could do nothing but watch a hideous virus create havoc in poor Will's body.

I don't think I have ever washed my hands so much. I don't think Will will ever forgive me for taking his temperature so many times.

Dear Tom woke up almost every hour checking on Will. We fought over who should sleep and who would watch Will. I became irrational which makes Tom go into his condescending frustration stage. It was all just so pleasant.

I, of course, couldn't sleep.

I tossed and turned and paced outside Will's room.

At 3 am he heard me and said those magical words. "Mom I'm all sweaty!" Oh joy! The fever was finally down.

At 5:45 am it was back up to 101 degrees. All day I sat in worry. I anticipated an uncontrollable high fever-- a fever with a vengeance. I sit here and write this post wondering what the night might bring.

I am so tired. Will is so strong.

I hope sleep brings Will renewal of health and pleasant, restful dreams.

Monday, November 9, 2009

God I hate it when my kids are sick! And Will is home with a high fever, chills, and body aches. His neck is sore so the nurse at the doctor's office wanted me to see if, while standing, he could put his chin on his chest and then lying down, if he could raise his right leg without any pain. I think they were checking for Meningitis. You can't imagine how much dread and fear gets inside my head. He passed the test with flying colors.

Now, I just have to help manage his fever. 104 degrees this morning from a kid who normally doesn't get high fevers.

If I get this thing, H1N1 or whatever flu this is, I am shit out of luck.

But Will is such a trouper. He doesn't complain at all. He is in his room watching TV and resting.

Poor kid. I think I have already taken his temperature 20 times. I have washed my hands just as many times.

What happens when they are off at college and get sick? Who will take of them? Will I fly to wherever they are and make sure they are drinking enough fluids? Or will I sit at home calling every five minutes checking in on their physical status.

How does a parent let go?

A mother said to me this weekend that the parent-kid relationship is the only relationship where you nuture someone you love in preparation for them to leave you. It's true.

If I do my job correctly, then Kyle and Will will seperate from me easily and happily.

This weekend I watched Kyle with all his friends. Little by little he is already seperating and I'm not happy about it at all. We are developing a new relationship and I am the one having the problem accepting this. I am the 2-year-old, stomping my feet willing things to be like they were. But they never will be.

The pains and joys of watching your children grow takes my breath away. But at times I need a brown paper bag to blow into. This is one of those days.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Wide Eyed Boy with the Blond Curls

Kyle had his directorial debut last night! And his one act was impressive. I am a proud Mommy today and delighted that he feels successful. His actors gave impressive performances as Kyle mouthed each word they said. It was funny for me to see him sharing an artistic endeaver with an audience. This process has been so much a part of my life--and a struggle at that. But last night was his night and I got to see him sweat. It is so difficult to put something creative out into the world and watch an audience react. He felt the pressure, but he didn't crack.

The only awkard moment in the whole evening was when his girlfriend, who lovingly came from College, and I sat next to each other in the lobby waiting for the show to begin. We comfortably sat together talking about all sorts of things until Kyle made his way to us.

He saw us both sitting there yacking and stopped for a moment. He didn't know who to kiss first. He looked at me and then at his girlfriend and then back at me.

I stepped in, "Give your girlfriend a kiss," I told him.

She, in her grace said, "You kiss your Mother first!"

How funny. Kyle trapped between two women. How pathetic, one of them is his Mother.

But last night, I saw my son as a successful leader, a compassionate director, a loving boyfriend, and a wonderful son. He is definitely growing up. How I fit into his world is still unclear to me.

In just a few months, everything has changed. I used to be the last person to talk to him before he went to sleep. Now, most nights, he talks with his girlfriend. And this is what is supposed to happen. It just happened so quickly.

I am fully aware that I need to step back and begin to allow him to live his own life. I just need to figure out how. There is a whole new relationship to navigate and I don't want to screw it up by being the overbearing mother I have a tendency to be.

But he is still my little boy with the big eyes and curly blond hair, who always smiled, loving life. It is so hard to reconcile that image with the 6'3'' man with the big eyes and cropped brown hair who is charming and witty surrounded by friends and a girlfriend.

I couldn't be happier or more proud.

But the happiness is bittersweet. It is not that I am losing him, it is that our relationship is changing.

I know that I am the grown-up and he is just the 16-year-old and that means that I have to be the more mature of the two and allow our relationship to change instead of making what existed fit into an already outdated mold.

I know how much Kyle loves me. I know he would do almost anything to make me happy. I know what we had before was wonderful.

But... I refuse to become one more stress in his life. I will not allow myself to become a burden to him already. I want, with all my heart, for him to know I am there for him always but that it is alright for him to begin his "own" journey.

I would love him to include me on this journey but I must allow him to choose to do this on his own.

I hope I have the willpower and patience. I most definitely have the love.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Y's of my Life

The hard drive on my computer looks like it is toast which means I have potentially lost everything.

I sat at the Apple store with box of tissue and actually cried. Then I remembered it wasn't an awful health diagnosis we were talking about and I pulled myself together.

Right now my computer is at the Apple Care store and they are trying to retrieve any data from the the little chips that make up my life.

So, again I have taken over my son's computer with the sticking y key. I literally have to hit the y key three times before it works. Perhaps for the rest of this post I will just leave out all the y's.

Tomorrow is parent/counselor/student night at K le's high school. The counselors are there to act as a buffer between the parents and the kids. I can't help but wonder what has happened in the past that are poor kids need buffers.

But I think I can use this time for some helpful and healthy dialogue between myself and K le. I am having such a difficult time trying to help him balance all the things in his life. I feel like I have become just one more stress for him. But at the same time, he seems to need (and sometimes) want me there to help him make difficult decisions.

Some smart Mom once told me that you don't want your junior to have a girlfriend. Well, I'm actually (it's too hard to skip at the y's in my life) delighted he has met someone he really likes. But, it is a delicate balancing act he is preforming. And at an moment he seems like he is about to fall.

I, like a good helicopter Mom, am there to catch him.

Has the time finally come to let him fall.

Tom seems to think so, until he hears Kyle bitch about a bad test grade. He doesn't just shake it off and say whatever college he gets into is just fine. That's what he has been telling me to do the last year. Now, he thinks Kyle might need some guidance. Because, finally he realizes that Kyle cares about having choices in his college selection process.

The problem for us is that Kyle really works hard (most of the time) and he has done so well. He tries so hard to be a good student, a thoughtful friend, a good son, a good brother, a good peer resource.

Does he still want us to help him? Sometimes he says he does. And sometimes he says, "Back off."

This has confused me but now Tom is confused too. I don't expect Tom to be confused and it really pisses me off.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Yesterday I had the luxury of time. I decided to check out some other BLOGS. It was frickin' amazing. There are so many unbelievable voices out there it stunned me. I had no idea that so many people are writing such amazing pieces, everyday.

I feel like such a newbie, naive to this whole world of blogging. It is an impressive forum that is dripping over with talent. But like so much else out there today, I can't help but wonder if these voices are being heard by enough people.

S_ _ _ _!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My computer just CRASHED. The screen went dead--no life in sight. I have an appointment at the Apple Store in a few hours but in the meantime I borrowed Kyle's computer to finish this BLOG.

This posting takes on a whole new demented twist. Yes I do want to share some of the wonderful postings I have had the pleasure to read...but now--I have a dilemma!

I didn't think Kyle's computer was at home, but instead with him at school. But I found it lying next to his bed. And like an untrusting girlfriend I find myself in the compromising position to snoop.

Is that crossing any moral lines? Am I supposed to allow him privacy?. I think not. I am his parent and I should snoop. It is my job to snoop.

But do I really want to? What might I find if I look at his history or find a way onto his facebook page?

Can you imagine your parent listening into your most private conversations when you were 16?

The temptation is so great. But what if he reads this post and I have to come clean? Should I have kept this to myself and not blabbed about it for the whole world to see?

What fun is that?

I am just staring at his computer like it is the Cabinet of Wonders. I just don't think I can dare to peak inside.

But maybe just a little peak. I will never tell.

What would you do?

Monday, November 2, 2009

El Dia de los Muertos

I remember a time that was not that long ago, when a friend of mine, with older kids, would tell me about her two high school son's adventures. I remember listening intently, secretly reveling in the thought that years would pass before I would be in "her" situation and that if I parented correctly than I could avoid some of the uncomfortable situations that I had no idea would inevitably arise.

Last night I sat with friends with younger kids who listened to me speak about life with my 16-year-old son. They listened patiently but I could tell that like me, a few years back, they didn't quite believe in the inevitable.

Yes, their kid will learn to drive. Yes, they will take the car and forget to check in with you. Yes, they would miss curfew. Yes, they will go to parties and be exposed to alcohol and drugs. Yes, they may even indulge in a drink or two. Yes, they would do things against your better judgment. Yes, they would shock you with something you were not prepared to do deal with at that particular moment. And let me tell you, this time comes way too quickly.

It is just so odd to be on the other side of this great divide. It is so strange to be the parent going through this wild ride.

I haven't come out the other side so I don't know where all this wild ride will lead. And I think this is the scariest part for a control freak like me. It's just so darn difficult to let them fail! My husband assures me, the kids have to fail in order to grow. I just can't watch. I feel like I am in a horror film, my eyes closed tight, hoping the creepy music will soon come an abrupt stop.

It's a ride I have to take. But you may hear me screaming, down the lonely corridors of parenting hell.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Truth about this Halloween!

My father produced a film called Rosemary's Baby. After the film was released all sorts of scary things began to a happen. I mean really bad stuff! The film's wonderful composer was killed in a freak skiing accident and then Roman Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate and unborn child were brutally murdered. My Dad thought it had something to do with the subject matter of his film. Rosemary's Baby was about a man who sold his soul to the devil. In return for a flourishing acting career, he let the devil impregnate his wife.

I remember my fahter feeling very disturbed by the hate mail he received. Even a close cousin stopped speaking with him. The subject matter was so controversial for that time.

Then the Halloween following the release of the film , my Dad's kidneys failed, both of them stopped working. He couldn't pee. He was rushed into emergency surgery and he dreamt that the knife that opened him up had the devil's eye refleced on it! Pretty intense stuff for a young impressionable girl.

Dad was sick on and off after that. So, I always relate Halloween to Dad getting sick.

This Halloween is particularly unsettling for me. The story I am working on has to do with my father and the central premise surrounds his fear, and mine, of the devil.

I can't help but think back in time to a period in my life that was filled with fear and uncertainty.

You can be certain that tomorrow night if I see any devils, cute or not, I will not be pleased. It is amazing that a gal who grew up with a father who made horror films hates Halloween so very much.

I hope everyone else has a happily terrifying day! As for me, we'll hope for the best and try to avoid any evil spells or haunting curses.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last night was totally intense. It all came from me. I have not been out of my house for three days now...and counting. My back aches and now I have a sore throat.

I became completely obsessed with finishing the first draft of my kid's novel.

Yesterday, I forced the writing. I had what I wanted to say firmly in my mind. But, I needed to get it out on paper. So, I wrote in between breaks of sticking my heat pack in the microwave. It wasn't flowing like some days. Today I worked at it.

I walked into my room and flopped on my bed. "I can't write. Who am I kidding!" I said to myself in despair. But I have promised myself not to give up. So, I persevered.

I finally finished a draft. I am way too close to it to know if it is any good. All I know is that I feel like crap both physically and emotionally.

I found my mind wondering to dark thoughts of bad illnesses lurking in my body.

But, I continued to write.

A wonderful friend picked up Kyle from school. He was home before 3:00. He went out and bought me some lunch.

By dinner time I had had it. We decided that Tom would stop over at the local market and pick up some home made soup. That sounded perfect for everyone and easy. Boy was I wrong.

Tom called from the market. They had plenty of chicken noodle soup left but only one container of New England Clam Chowder.

I told him not to buy the chowder because everyone would just want that. I told him specifically to get enough of the chicken noodle soup.

But he didn't listen. He thought I would enjoy some chowder and everyone could share a bit of it.

Well, he heated up the soup and called us all for dinner.

The conversation quickly turned to who was having the fricken' chowder. "Do you really want chowder?" "How much chowder is there?" "Can I just have the chowder?"

The chowder drove me over the top. Poor Will asked, "Mom do you like the chowder?"

And I snapped at him like I have never snapped before. "Forget it, take my chowder. I don't want it anymore, anyway!" I screamed.

Both he and Kyle stared in disbelief.

I thought he was angling for my measly bit of chowder and it made me mad.

Later that night, Will told me that I shouldn't write when I don't feel well. He is right. I also think he knew that if I do, I won't have the patience and sense of humor I usually have.

I was all worn out and the chowder got to me.

I hope one day, poor Will will find this funny.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I have finished the 60 page treatment of my kid's book. I think a treatment is only supposed to be a couple of pages. Ooops! I am all written out but had to check in with my BLOG for my daily dose of humility.

Kyle picked lunch up for me today because my back was sore and I was so engulfed in my writing. It was nice having him to count on. Make note: One nice thing about your 16-year-old driving, he can get you sustenance when needed.

I have been too busy with my own aches and pains and compulsive writing to worry about application deadlines, grades, teacher conferences, Halloween parties and costumes, H1Ni flu shots, open houses, one acts, communications night, etc., etc., etc.

I don't even have a clue what we will do for dinner tonight and I don't really care.

Tomorrow I better get my big ass in gear and attend to the tasks at hand. Oh joy, back to reality.

Until then...

Menopause Jewelry

My husband, being unhappy with my mood swings, bought me a mood ring the other day so he would be able to monitor my moods.
We've discovered that when I'm in a good mood it turns green.
When I'm in a bad mood, it leaves a big frickin' red mark on his forehead!!!
Maybe next time he'll buy me a diamond. Dumb ass.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Having a sore back really makes you slow down. You kind of have to give up control and hope for the best. I have been doing this the last couple of days and it's been wonderful.

I don't can't care about bedtimes, and homework load, or SAT and SSAT prep, dinner, or Halloween plans. I can only think about how I am going to make it to the bathroom or to the kitchen for some sustenance. I'm in survival mode and it's quite nice.

If I'm like this for longer than a few days I will start to get depressed and anxious, but right now I am stopping to smell the flowers. It's just too darn bad that I can't bend over to smell those lovely flowers.

And writing is almost impossible. It hurts to sit so I have my computer propped on my bed and I am kind of twisted to the side trying to write down my thoughts as quickly as I can so that I can readjust out of this awkward position.

I can't even afford the luxury of worrying about the kids leaving for college. Although I did have a moment's flash yesterday that I my aching back would prevent me from dancing at my son's wedding. They are 16 and 13--do ya think I'm projecting just a bit.

Which has gotten me thinking about whether this BLOG is all about projection.

Do you remember when the kids were little and they would throw-up and it would fly across the room--the doctors called it 'projectile vomiting?'

Well, I think that's what I am doing in a kind of metaphoric way. My future has become reduced to projectile vomit. Isn't that nice?

All the worrying and distraction really is all about projecting into the future. It is like throw-up, just a tad more difficult to clean up. And why do I do it? I hate throwing-up more than anything, yet I continue to torment myself. Why?

Am I too afraid not to, cause then I will be devastated by loss when the boys leave? If I start now, will the shock be less, will the loss feel less?

I doubt it, however, I think that I really do want to start the "rest of my life." I don't want the young mommy years to represent the end of life. I want to be vital and significant as a something other than a mother. And for this, dear BLOG, I am grateful.

Projecting gets you nowhere yet it is impossible for me not to do it. But, I have learned that I can stop putting road blocks in my way, and while placing one foot in front of the other, discover a whole new, exciting world out there.

And this makes me happy. I know I will continue to vomit all over myself. But I also know that I really can reinvent myself in any way I want to and that gives me hope.

Today, I hope that my back will feel better soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I threw out my back this weekend, AGAIN. I am like the old saying, "My back goes out more than I do!"

I began to have back troubles in 1990 right after my atopic pregnancy that ended in surgery.

It has changed my life.

When my boys were little it was difficult for me to pick them up and walk around holding them. I used to look at other mommy friends with envy. I used to wonder if my kids would love me less because I had a difficult time picking them up and wrapping them in my arms. I made adjustments. I learned how to lie on the floor and comfort them. Or sit on their beds and gently rub their heads. And they quickly learned how to imitate me, "Oy my sciatica hurts!"
They would walk around lovingly mocking me. But they understood my physical limitations and loved me none the less.

But parenting has become so much less physically demanding. In the last year, it seems that we have made the shift to the emotional phase. And I honestly think this has been harder on my back.

I think there is a lot to be said for the whole mind body connection. And as I look back on the last month of BLOG posts I realize how much mental strength has been needed to see me through these trying days.

And boy does my back ache.

Doesn't it make sense that I put all my worry and concerns into my most vulnerable muscle, my back? Is this why my back went out? I just couldn't take anymore!

My dear, dear friend of 46 years came to visit this weekend. The kids were not off at concerts or driving all over the universe. They were with friends, at sensible parties, near home! And my back went out.

I can pretend it was some physical thing that caused it....but really wasn't just my body's way of saying, "I need a rest!" But why did happen this weekend when I had a friend here? She has known me my whole life, my entire life story, my weaknesses, my strengths. Perhaps I needed to let go for a couple of days and just be! It is with those we are the most comfortable with that we allow ourselves to be truly honest.

And honestly, my back hurts.

So, I will sit today in my sun drenched house and sip green tea and nurse my back. I will feel really sorry for myself. I can't run to the market or do the errands for my family. And I can't write my horror story. My aching back has become the real horror story! And sitting really hurts.

So, after posting this piece, I get the day off. I'm just not so sure what to do about lunch?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Mad Woman!

OK. I am in total awe. How do you all do it? I'm exhausted. I need to take a nap. But I have no time. Kyle and Will have 89,000 different activities going on in the month of November. I need to sign up for meals, open houses, carpools, buy gifts for Bar Mitzvah's, figure out fencing tournaments, tutor appointments, and my kids are under-scheduled. My kids are the kids that don't have a million activities. I am amazed. I can't keep it all straight and I can't read my writing on the stupid calendar.

What is going to fall by the waste side? I don't know, but I feel like I am going to let someone down big time. I am sorry if I forget a lunch date or a party or a community event. Please accept my apologies in advance.

This all started when I began writing my horror story. I am constantly looking for lost moments that I can slip into my room and write a scene or two. And my mind won't shut down. So, when the kids come at me asking me questions, I slip into panic mode. I am quickly becoming a horrible mother.

But I love/hate writing. At moments when I am blessed with a smidgeon of talent I am in bliss. The rest of the time I wrestle with words and plot and character studies. I hate character studies. Characters are so hard to write. You have to fall in love with them first. But I am too busy rearranging schedules to fall in love, even to get to know my characters.

I want to get to know them so badly. Part of me wonders if I should put them on ice and wait till Kyle and Will are out of the house, at college and beyond. But, I know I can't wait. I have to finish my story. I need to finish my story. I need to sleep.

But now I have to figure out what to wear to Tom's college reunion. I must make a plan for Will since Kyle is off at a dance. I need to pick Will's trousers from the tailor and then wash my hair. I must try and look good for Tom. An impossible task.

How do you all do it? I read the wonderful postings by Emily and Jennifer from in awe. They seem to manage so well and write witty repartee to boot. They have families and jobs. But their websites are filled with photographs and wonderful prose. You must check them out.

I must remove the peeling polish from my toes so Tom is not embarrassed of me. I must find a dress without a stain on it so I don't look like I have been living in my car. Do you think I will be able to carry on a conversation tonight? Will my words escape me because my mind at the moment is deep underground, in the bone filled catacombs of Paris.

Will they think me Goth if I tell them about the Marquis de Sade's cool castle in Lacoste and the 200 km. of tunnels below Paris filled with bones from the dead. Will they think that Tom's wife has lost her mind when I start rambling on about THE NECRONIMCON from H.P. Lovecraft's novels. Is it real? Do you think it is bound with human skin?

Or what if I start to talk about my kid's one act play schedule? What if I ask one of Tom's old roommates if he thinks Kyle remembered to re-arrange his Spanish tutor from Tuesday to Saturday?

They will turn to their significant other and declare, "She's gone mad. Mad I tell you!"

And I will smile because I know it is the truth. Friday afternoon and I have lost it again!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Disturbing Self Portrait

I think it might be important for me to think about my past and try and discover why I am having such a difficult time thinking about my kids leaving home. I am propped on my couch, head on a soft white pillow, typing away.

I have become my own personal shrink! And boy do I need to get shrunk.

My Dad died when I was 19-years-old. So, my flying the coop thing didn't work out like normal people. I think looking in from my perspective now, as the aging parent, I worry that life will come to an abrupt end as my kids grow up. "Interesting!" The pretend therapist sitting in the chair opposite me says, "Go on."

I think that when my kids do leave I will be left a little old lady who clings to her children's visits and phone calls and has no life of her own. My bones will ache and my life will be filled with the dreaded doctor appointments that will determine if I live or die.

"And why do you think such macabre thoughts?" my imaginary shrink asks.

I think that my kids are the only thing keeping me vital. I see myself barely getting out of bed, not knowing how to fill my days, and nothing feeling quite right.

"Sounds like you are worried you will become depressed," my fake shrink suggests.

Yes. I am afraid of that. Because I don't have any role models to aline myself with. I need successful role models. I need to know people who rediscovered incredible passion and creativity later in life. Do you know that I can't even get a flu vaccine up my nose using the mist stuff? I am too old. If you are past 49 they don't recommend this because of our compromised immune system. My best friend of 45 years had a small stroke last week. She is the most vital of all my friends, fit as a fiddle and gorgeous and on Friday she has to visit the stroke center for a consultation with her Doctor. She is brave. I am not!

"Go on..."

And I can't stand to say good bye. It is impossible for me. It has been since my Dad died.

"Well that's very understandable," my therapist says rubbing his imaginary beard.

Do you know I dated a guy after my Dad died. My Dad had known him. So, I felt like there was a connection there. So I dated him for almost nine years. And I don't think we ever broke up. I moved to NYC and he moved to DC and we continued to date until one day we didn't. Do you think he knows by now that we are broken up?

"He probably realizes this, since you are now married and have two children. But it is odd that you never broke up."

It was just too difficult. And I never thought anyone would ever love me again. I really thought that if we would split I would never find my true love. And I did! But before I did I had a great time with my girlfriends, some incredibly funny blind dates that I will share with you on my next session, and then miraculously I found Tom. It worked out better than I hoped.

"Is there a possibility that old age will work out for you too?" My sly therapist asks almost rhetorically.

I am too afraid to think that it might.

"That was a good start for the day, Terry. But we have much work to do. You might want to come four times a week for the rest of your life!"

Am I that F- - - - - - up?

He doesn't answer. Our fifty minutes are over. I pay him $175.00 in monopoly money and leave. (I have to get breakfast for Kyle and drive him to school) Instantly I remember a real therapist I had in NYC a long time ago. The only thing of value she told me then was that therapists in New York charge according to the cost of a slice of pizza. They just add a couple extra zeros. I guess pizza is up to $1.75 a slice now.

I feel better already.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kyle trying to steal Will's sushi!

I remember the first time I tried sushi. I was living in Los Angeles and the sushi craze was just beginning. It must have been in the early 1980's. God that sounds like such a long time ago. I remember sitting at a Japanese restaurant in West Hollywood and having a friend explain to me how you use the beautiful tiny bowl to mix together the ginger and the wasabi in a bath of soy sauce. I remember talking my chop sticks and picking up a piece of raw tuna and immersing it in the soy sauce concoction I had just created. I was terrified. Could I actually put this piece of Raw fish into my mouth and swallow?

Finally, I found the courage to eat my first piece of sushi and to my amazement, I didn't hate it. I remember thinking that it wasn't bad, but it really wasn't that good either. My sophisticated friend assured me that you develop a taste for sushi and promised that I soon would be craving the wonderful Japanese delicacy.

Well, she was right. Now I love sushi

I have to laugh remembering my first exploits with this exotic food. My young son, Will has now discovered sushi. And like his mother has developed a strong addiction.

Kyle and I picked up some sushi at the market on the way home from school today. Both Kyle and I quickly undid the lid, mixed the soy sauce with the wasabi and ginger and ate away. We were finished when Will asked me where I kept the place mats.

I walked into his room, and there he sat at his desk with a fine white china plate and a small Japanese dish. His sushi had been arranged on his plate and the dipping sauce had been perfectly blended with the right amount of ginger and wasabi. He found a pair of nice chopsticks and placed a mat underneath his plate. He was going to enjoy his after school treat.

I walked into his room and immediately called for Kyle to take a look. Both of us were jealous. We had scarfed down our treat way too fast to really enjoy it. And here Will was just beginning to enjoy his feast. His eyes told me that his taste buds were ready for the arrival of the wonderful taste of sweet and salty.

It made me think that while I am busy rushing through life, what exactly am I missing?

And then it hit me. Watching Will enjoy his bite of raw fish I realized that I need to slow down and enjoy the moments I have with my children. I need to take a breath and watch, and listen, and learn.

I am so busy worrying that I have forgotten to remember to stay put! It is in those moment that true creativity and true peace can be found.

So, next time I buy myself some sushi I am going to set the table nicely. I am going to place the colorful pieces properly on my plate. I am going to take the time to find the right chop sticks. And I am going to think about Will and smile.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Dad Continues to get Press!

Check out this article from the LA Times. My Dad keeps getting press!,0,777395.story

William Castle the filmmaker was at best a prolific schlockmeister, a B-movie journeyman with a flair for enjoyably cheesy knock-offs. But William Castle the promoter was some kind of genius, a lo-fi forefather of the modern blockbuster who understood that the best way to sell a movie was to turn it into an event.

Even today -- especially today, perhaps, with the nature of marketing evolving more rapidly than ever -- his influence lingers. A sneaky Castle-worthy viral campaign compelling fans to "demand" its presence in their towns
has transformed “Paranormal Activity” from a sleeper indie into a grassroots hit.

And those stories proliferating on blogs and Twitter about medical emergencies at early screenings of Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" -- a viewer reportedly suffered a panic attack at the New York Film Festival, someone vomited in Toronto, a few fainted in Cannes -- call to mind Castle's gimmick for 1958's "Macabre": Viewers were insured against "death by fright" and real-life nurses were stationed in theaters.

Castle made "Macabre" after leaving the studio fold, in an effort to turn himself into a Hitchcock-like brand name. For the follow-up, "House on Haunted Hill" (1959), starring Vincent Price and also independently produced, he went further, introducing a newfangled "process" that he termed Emergo, which would bring the ghouls off the screen and into the theater -- i.e., plastic skeletons would dangle from the ceiling.

Sony's new William Castle Film Collection ($80.95, out Tuesday) brings together eight movies that Castle made after returning to Columbia, along with a 2007 feature-length documentary, "Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story."

The '50s were the age of the movie gimmick, with Hollywood rushing to implement such technologies as 3-D, Cinerama and CinemaScope in a frantic bid to reclaim viewers lost to the new wonders of television. But while these sensory enhancements were expensive, complicated innovations, Castle's come-ons, which often amounted to a literal and primitive form of interactive cinema, had a charming bargain-basement quality.

For "The Tingler" (1959), in which Price plays a scientist researching the constricting effects of fear on the spinal column, Castle unveiled his nerviest stunt: a technique called Percepto that administered physical shocks to viewers -- or at least, the lucky ones who found themselves in seats that had been rigged with vibrators. The movie opened with Castle addressing the audience, warning them that "unfortunate sensitive people" would experience "a strange tingling sensation."

"A scream at the right time may save your life!" he advised. "The Tingler" is also notable for an early demonstration of the effects of LSD, courtesy of a gamely over-the-top Price.

Viewers of "13 Ghosts" (1960), a routine haunted-house story, were given supernatural "goggles" made of cardboard and colored cellophane. They were told to look through the red filter if they believed in ghosts, and the blue filter if they didn't. "Homicidal" (1961), a vigorous "Psycho" retread, complete with shock stabbings and kinky cross-dressing, offered the audience a 45-second "fright break" just before the climax.

Gaspar Noe's neo-exploitation art flick "I Stand Alone" used the same trick nearly 40 years later.

"Mr. Sardonicus" (1961), whose protagonist's face is frozen into a ghastly grin after an encounter with a corpse, culminates in a "punishment poll," creating the illusion of a viewers'-choice ending when in fact only one existed.

The best of the non-gimmick films here -- unless you count the casting of Joan Crawford as a gimmick -- "Strait-Jacket" (1964) was Castle's version of a prestige picture, evidently inspired by the earlier aging-diva showdown "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" He hired "Psycho" writer Robert Bloch and got Crawford to play an ax murderess. She obliges brilliantly, keeping a deadly straight face through the messy histrionics.

Castle, who went on to produce "Rosemary's Baby," is still remembered as a great showman and huckster. But those labels fail to convey the basic generosity and childlike innocence of his outlook. It's true that he was always thinking up a sales pitch, but beyond that, he was a wide-eyed entertainer who believed that movies did not simply begin and end on the screen, and that the filmgoing experience was above all a communal one.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Leave the Gun,Take the Cannoli!"

Family Time

I was in the worst mood all weekend, really wicked. I actually felt sorry for my husband. I don't know why I was in such a funk but I think it has something to do with the sudden lack of family time on the weekend. I use to look so forward to Friday evening. Friday represented freedom, freedom from school, freedom from work, freedom from routine. But now it has come to represent juggling two teenage boys busy schedules and worrying! Last night, Will went to babysit for our neighbors. I stayed close at hand in case he needed me to change a dirty diaper or help him with a 2-year-old tantrum. For five hours on a Saturday night, I stayed home so he could watched someone else's children. He came home and counted his money. I would have thought that seeing his smile would have made me happy. But it didn't. I was in a bad way.

I had driven Kyle and his friend to the city earlier in the day to go to the Treasure Island Music Festival. For over 8 hours Kyle listened to music, hung out with his friends, and did whatever else he was not suppose to do! He texted me often to prevent me from having a heart attack. He called in between sets. He stood in line for 1 1/2 hours to catch the bus back to San Francisco where he met a friends parents who drove him back to Mill Valley. Tom picked him up at 1AM.

I went to bed around midnight and let Tom handle the worrying.

This still did not make me happy.

I woke this morning and nothing felt right. My entire body ached with stress. Nothing felt like fun. I tried to work on the horror story I am writing. My computer kept crashing. Was the universe trying to tell me something?

My mood turned dark and haunting and to make matters worse I couldn't use any of it for my horror story.

I was a failure and in a wicked mood to boot.

My cousin invited us for dinner. I can be completely myself around her and her husband. So can Tom. So can the kids. It is always an adventure at their home. We always dine like kings and feel completely at home. In fact, I think we all feel more at home at their house than we do at our own. It feels like walking into the most wonderful pair of worn in slippers. Everyone should be as lucky as I am to have cousins like I have. We have gone through the best of times and the worst of times and we still can laugh. My kids have family because of them.

After a wonderful evening, I returned home and realized that my foul mood had disappeared. It had melted away like the warm butter the my cousin spread on the french string beans. It felt good to be a family again.

I recognize now that my mood was directly related to the fact that my family's social life was not controlled by me. In fact, quite the opposite, my family's social life controlled me. I am not happy about this, so I have decided to try something different. I am going to make plans next weekend. I hope my kids will join in, but if they don't tough S----!
Tom and I are going to think of ourselves for a change. We need a break. Our kids will just have to deal.

And if they can't what is the worse that can happen? They run away and join the circus? Or maybe they would just call up my cousin and go live with her. They would love that. Do you think they would let me visit?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My next door neighbors are having a birthday party for their 5-year-old daughter. A giant jumpy shaped like a castle arrived just as Kyle left for his PSAT, early this morning.

My early morning haze was quickly broken by screams of delight. I can hear their little voices echoing across our shared lagoon. It is a pleasant sound.

My 13-year-old hopped on my bed.

"You hate jumpies, don't you?"

He knew how much I hated those wretched, germ infested contraptions. I would wait for hours as endless streams of snotty-nosed kids piled into their sacred space. I would listen to their heavy breath , as they bumped, jumped, and tumbled in castles, dragons, and monsters all over Marin County. Inevitably somebody would have to be dragged out crying and screaming for one reason or another. Someone would either get hurt, tired, hit, or sick. Oh, the jumpy! I don't miss the jumpy. But now I get to worry about car rides and concerts, late night parties and drinking. But I wouldn't want to go back to the day of the jumpy. I'll take my new life thank you very much!

But, tonight at 5:00 when all the children leave the party my son was hired to babysit their two children. My 13-year-old was not invited to the birthday party, but hired to babysit. How strange! He is going to be responsible to two kids under the age of five.

Where did the time go?

We ran into Will's kindergarten teacher yesterday. Ironically, she is now teaching our birthday girl next door. Will barely recognized her. It felt like yesterday to me.

This evening when Will goes next door, he will bring his homework to do if he ever gets the kids to sleep.

I will be on call because one of the kids is still in diapers. I don't know if Will has the strength to change a dirty diaper. I can see him gagging as he tries to wipe the little boy's bottom. I can actually see him throwing up as the two little kids look on.

"Mommy, our baby sitter barfed! Isn't that cool?"

Will is too smart for that. He will just call me to come over and change the diaper. And I will go.

No, I don't think I miss the days of jumpies and diapers. I'm OK listening to the happy sounds across the lagoon.

But how will it feel when Will has left home and Tom and I are alone in our own little castle? Maybe I will suggest that we jump on the beds until we puke. Tom will know then that I have finally lost my mind.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Has She Gone Mad?"

A low, thick fog hugs the coast this Friday morning. But it is disturbingly warm. In weather like this, my haunted imagination fills in the spaces between the simplicity of suburban life and the possibility of macabre and sinister happenings. I can't help it, it is in my blood.

I immediately recognize that Halloween is around the corner. I pass pretty little houses sporting lovely little grave yards on their manicured front lawns. RIP is scribbled on tomb stones amongst the lillies and roses bushes. Jack o'lanterns are beginning to make their appearances. Ghoulish memorabilia adorns million dollar homes. Halloween! The one occasion that suits my sensibility, that mimics my personality. Kids everywhere are trying to figure out what to be for this deliciously macabre day. On this day, they can be anything they want.

My friends turn to me for guidance on All Hallows Eve. They ask me to choose scary movies or help them decorate their homes. They come to me because they think I understand the twisted world of horror.

It shocks them when I tell them that Halloween is my most hated day of the year!

No one believes me. They think it is just another one of my twisted tales to lure them into complacency and then surprise them with the shock of their lives. My friends wait to see what I will do. They are disturbed when they find me home with a good book and a nice cup of green tea. It's so not Terry! What's wrong with Terry? Is she sick? Has she finally gone mad?

What they don't understand is that I hate bedlam, the mad rush for cheap candy, the pressure to fill your empty bag with the more hideous treats than anyone else. I hate the pressure to be cool, the unwritten rule for a kid to celebrate the best night of the year. To me, it is worse than New Years Eve!

The concept is divine. I love seeing the little princesses and pirates dressed up. I laugh at the originality of some of the costumes I see. I adore hearing the little voices scream 'trick or treat!' as they eagerly wait for a tootsie roll or two.

What fills me with dread is the pre-pubescent kids who try so hard to have fun. Clad with shaving cream, whipped cream, raw eggs, and silly string they go out into the night to have the best time of their lives. They feast on icky candies and wait for their sugar rush to kick in. They blindly go into a rabid state, a state of zombiehood. And when they arrive home, sweaty and exhausted and they dump their broken down bag of treats onto the dinning room table you ask them if they had fun.

"No," they always say. "Not so much!"

This once perfect occasion has been ruined by too much hype, too much expectation, too much pressure to be cool.

Last year I made my then 15 and 12-year-old come with me to a pumpkin patch. I felt like I needed to savor the sweet moments I had left of their childhood. We drove to the country in hopes of a wonderful day filled with haunted houses and warm apple cider. We found a lovely spot. When we entered the Fall Fair clad with pumpkin patch, both my boys quickly discovered that they were three feet taller than any other kids there. They gave me the stink eye. I gave it right back to them. They knew they needed to try to be good sports about the whole affair but were feeling left out, standing on the side lines in a world filled with joyful little kids who were actually having fun.

They walked through the giant maze of hay. Once upon a time, this excited them. They couldn't see where they were going. They had to figure out how to find their way back to Mom and Dad. Now they could easily see exactly where they were headed. They looked at me with a 'you've gotta be kidding' kind of look. The haunted house was lame even for the two year old we followed in.

We tried to select our pumpkins. They were misshapen and lopsided.

Had my boys grown too old for Halloween? I began to wonder if this is the real reason I have come to despise this day so much?

Don't get me wrong, in the next few days I will pick up a couple of pumpkins. I will make the kids draw faces on the thick skin. Then we will carve them. I will stick candles in their empty bodies and watch the eerie light glow into the night sky. And I will dread Halloween.

I am sorry to be such a curmudgeon, but this is how I feel. So, my dear friends, if you are looking for me on Halloween, beware, I might be snug on my couch reading a good book and I might just have to chop you up into little pieces if you interrupt me.