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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

He Said/ She Said

There we sat listening intently to the Admissions Director from both Stanford and Sarah Lawrence tell us what they look for in a prospective student. They talked SAT and ACT, GPAs and personal essays, interviews and college tours. I listened but I didn't really hear what they were saying. What I wanted to scream was that I was not prepared to let my son go across the country to college. I wanted to shout, Kyle can go anywhere as long as it is less than 1/2 hour away.

They want pointy kids not well rounded ones. They want a well rounded class filled with passionate kids. They want kids that have pushed themselves academically. But, they cautioned, make sure your child is enjoying high school. I wanted to shout, did you know your passions in high school? I knew mine, and he was the cute surfer boy who lived down the street.

I want to scream.

I can feel the tide pulling me deep into an ocean of test prep appointments, campus tours applications, decisions, expectations, and disappointments. I can feel the roller coaster of emotions with each campus visit. I can hear the endless discussions of college essay topics. I can feel myself succumbing to the pressure of college application hell all in the hopes that Kyle can will get into the perfect college for him.

There is so much pressure around all things college. It makes me so mad and sad and very, very confused.

Take away the layers of hopes and dreams of expectation and privilege and perhaps my son will have a chance to be happy at college. It cannot be a prize at the end of a rigorous high school career. It should be a time of intellectual and personal exploration.

And I know if Kyle is happy at college, then I will be OK too.

My husband sat next to me. I will let him tell you what he heard.

From Tom:

I guess this is why it's nice to have two parents, because they hear and process completely different things. They can then pass on, in varying degrees, the bits and pieces of knowledge they learned. First off, let me say that, unlike Terry, I am not dreading the day that the boys head off to college. I view this as one of the great experiences of a lifetime, a real chance to grow and spread your wings, to test yourself and explore all the various possibilities that life has to offer. As a further part of this life experience, some kids (especially in Europe) take a year off before heading to college and work and travel the world soaking up all the experience they can. So, as I went to this introduction to the college process, I was not filled with apprehension that our son would soon leave home.

My desire was to learn some information that might prove helpful to Kyle as he went through this process. Let me digress for a minute here to talk about my philosophy on college. I believe that there are any number of colleges that a child can get into that will help prepare them for life. There is no one specific school that one must go to. So the key is to find a college that feels like the right match for your child. I also believe that if my son gets rejected from a college it won't be because he cannot handle the work load. The admissions officer from Stanford told me that while they rejected about 92% of their applicants last year very few rejections were because they felt the kids could not do the work. The admissions officers tonight confirmed that colleges are in general looking to field a well-rounded student body. If your son or daughter is rejected, it is not based on their lack of ability, but merely because they did not fall into a particular slot that the university was looking to fill.

I also learned that admissions officers don't view the application process as a competition. They don't figuratively throw two applicants in the ring and let their applications fight it out over whose school was harder or who took more AP classes. Instead, they seem to have a two step process. First, they look to see if they believe a student can do the work. If the answer is affirmative, then they look at what interesting qualities or characteristics the student brings which will enrich the university community as a whole. So if they have two equally qualified interesting candidates they will admit both. If neither is interesting then neither is offered a slot. I think many parents in the audience had a hard time accepting this. A lot seemed to think that there must be some strategy that they could employ to help their children. But somehow I don't believe that life is like that. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You pick yourself up and move on. This a lesson that I fear too many sons and daughters are not learning as too many parents (particularly helicopter moms) seem to rush to their child's rescue trying to make it all come out right. In the end, the child only loses as they have no idea how to pick themselves up and dust themselves of and push on.

At this point I must confess that what I really learned pertained to getting into (or not) Stanford which is where Kyle would like to go to school (and also happens to be my alma mater). If it is the right school for him, then I hope he gets in. But if not, I am sure that he will find a wonderful school that is the right fit. As for what I learned, it was all very preliminary stuff and I won't bore you with details which aren't important. What is important is Kyle starting down a new path, one that I can see him preparing for each day as he grows older and asserts his independence. I want to protect him against the bumps and bruises along the way, yet at the same time I know that he needs to suffer those bumps and bruises because in the end he will be stronger and better for having survived the process.

I am scheduled to go to college night at my son's high school this evening. Didn't I just sign him up for pre-school?

He's grown taller and I've grown grayer.
He's gotten smarter, I can't remember why I walked into a room.
He's learned to drive, I've perfected worrying.
He sleeps around the clock, I can't sleep at all.
He plays hard, I hardly play.
He wants to be all grown-up, I want to be ten years younger!

The idea of attending college night is so big to me that it has left me speechless. More tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Can I Say?

What a lovely evening I had. Delightful, actually. The kids had finished their homework and we all sat around our comfy couch and watched the Monday Night light up on CBS. Everyone was in a good mood. I remember, a short time ago, when every evening was just like this one.

Kyle decided to go to bed early so he would be fresh for the new week. I walked into his room to say good night. He was lying on his bed with his computer open. He closed it as soon as I walked in.

"Ya know I'm going to the Treasure Island Music Festival this Saturday. Well, my ride there just blew me off."

I listened to him explain how his friend wasn't going to be able to drive him. And he wasn't sure how he was going to get to the concert. This was code for, "Mom can you drive me there?"

"The concert starts at noon and it's over at 10:40pm."

Then, it happened. The evil, demon came out of her cage. Out of nowhere, her ugly head spun around on her neck and was ready for a fight. Whew....I went ape shit.

You must remember that two weekends ago I had to survive Kyle driving to Berkeley to hang out with his girlfriend. He got home late and I stood on my front sidewalk in my underwear counting cars. The next weekend, he wanted to go to LoveEvolution in the city. I had actually helped Kyle talk Tom into letting him go. I worried the whole afternoon. And just two night ago, Kyle had wanted to spend the night at a party, but instead we decided that I would pick him up at one in the morning.

I knew about the concert but thought that it was a day affair. I had no flipin' idea it was a ten hour event. Treasure Island sits into the middle of the San Francisco Bay. It is halfway between SF and Oakland. You drive through it when you take the Bay Bridge from the city to oakland. I guess for the event one parks at the ball park and takes shuttles buses to and from the venue.

Everything about this little concert presses my mommy worry buttons. I and had had enough.

I stomped out of Kyle's room like a two-year-old having a melt down. I was crying as I screamed that I couldn't take anymore.

I left Kyle and Will staring at me as I shut myself into my bedroom, climbed into my bed, crying into my pillow.

Tom came in.

"I just can't take any more worrying right now," I sobbed. "I am tired and overwhelmed." I wiped the snot from my nose. "I had no idea the concert went into the night. There is going to be drugs and drinking and all sorts of out of control people. I just don't feel comfortable letting him go," I wiped more boogers from my nose.

"We'll figure it out," Tom promised. "But not tonight." He knew I was getting my period.

"Can you tell Kyle to come in and say goodnight," I asked in that shaky two year old voice. I did not wanting Kyle to go to bed thinking I was upset with him.

Kyle came in and I explained that I wasn't mad at him, I was just overwhelmed. He nodded his head as if he understood. I told him I loved him and he gave me a kiss goodnight.

Then, Will came in. He sat next to me in the tender way only Will can. He stroked my arm.

"You know Mom, one of Kyle's favorite bands is playing at the end of the concert," he informed me.

I explained to Will why the concert concerned me. He completely understood.

"A ten hour concert, that's ridiculous," he agreed. But he had little tears in his eyes.

"Why are you crying?" I asked.

"I just hate to see you upset," he said soothingly.

I assured him I was OK as I wiped my snotty nose with an old tissue sitting by my bedside. "I love you," I told him.

"Me too, Mom," he said.

And with this, the evil, menopausal blood sucking witch went back to her dormant place.

It's strange sharing a body with such an emotional, super-honest, bitch. But, the house grew quiet very quickly. And soon I fell fast asleep. I know that I will have to deal with making concert arrangements that allow Kyle to go to the concert while keeping him as safe as possible at the same time. It feels like an impossible job. But, as I told Will, it is my job.

I was not up to the task last night. Last night lady Macbeth came out. I won't have that excuse for the entire week.

So, I look forward to another weekend of worry and ridiculous car rides to destinations way the heck out of my way. And why do I do all this, you might ask yourself. I do it, because I love my boys!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Pick-Up Mom

Well, I got my way. My 16-year-old was going to allow me to pick him at 12:45 am Monday morning. Lucky me!

It was a long night waiting. But I must confess that I actually enjoyed it. Wanda Sykes was appearing on HBO. I listened to her comedy routine for an hour. I sat in our family room and laughed out loud as I waited for the minutes to tick by.

I was delighted Kyle was not driving. I wasn't worried about him at the party. I just needed to stay up and wide awake so I could pick his butt up and take him home. Wanda really helped.

I have to admit, I was a little scared going to my car in the dark. I looked all around and bolted from my house. I locked my doors and had the quiet streets of our suburb to myself. Actually, that is not entirely true. It was me and all the deer feasting on the shrubs around our perfect homes. I must remember to tell Kyle to watch for deer when he drives in the night.

It was wonderful to drive him and his friend of 11 years home. I had picked them up from parties when they were five and six and seven. Now, they were 16. They filled me in all the details of the party that were suitable for my motherly ears. But I had them both in the car, and I loved to listen to their happy voices.

I must admit I did wonder what they were not telling me, but for that moment, I was happy.

I climbed into bed well after one o'clock and couldn't fall asleep. I tossed and turned. I listened to my husband snore. But sleep wouldn't come. I was wide awake and wanted to talk to somebody. The house was still.

I replayed Wanda's routine in my head. "I hate the symptoms of growing old," she teased. "I watch TV and see the Flying Nun talking about her brittle bones. The Flying Nun! And Jamie Lee Curtis use to be so sexy running from all those scary things and now she can't shit! She has to eat yogurt to shit!"

I laughed to myself this time. And finally I must have fallen asleep because I woke up to the sound of the trash trucks picking up our trash.

I thought how trashed I was going to feel today! But it had been worth it. Kyle had fun and I got to laugh. What more could I want?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Am I supposed to simply hand over my keys to my car and let my 16-year-old son, do what he pleases? Give me a break!

Last night, I decided it would be nice to do something as a family. When Will came home from school, I asked him if he had plans. He did. I told him the we wanted to go see Zombieland. My intuitive son knew instantly that this meant something to me.

"I can invite my friend to go with us," he told me.

That was fine with me. This is one of Will's closest friend who he is a part of our family. But unfortunately, he couldn't be ready by 7:15 because of football practice. Will decided that he would see his friend today.

I then asked Will to look at the story I wrote. Will doesn't love to read. But he told me he would. So I put a big glass of orange juice in front of him and fed him Belgium Chocolate. He read. He pointed out some plots points that were not quite working for him, corrected some of my grammar, and gave me encouragement and advice.

"Don't fall in love with your work," he told me. "Just keep working it."

How did he get so smart?

Next, I texted Kyle to ask if he would be able to join us to Zombieland. He finally texted back that he would.

I was delighted. We were doing something as a family. It seems so rare these day.

But things did not go as I had expected.

As it turns out, Kyle was not that thrilled to be with us. Well, in his defense, he was exhausted. He returned late from school. He had taken my car yesterday and was late getting home. I paced my floor boards until he finally made contact with us.

"Got stuck talking to a couple of kids, sorry."

We grabbed a quick dinner and off to the movies we went. Kyle' s phone and his left foot didn't stop vibrating. He took call after call before the film began. He kept texting his friends. And his leg was shaking the whole time. I looked at him like he was a creature from outer space. He seemed unglued.

The movie began. Yes, I did say Zombieland. Tom had suggested the film and I was a bit skeptical, but I had an ulterior motive. If I picked something like Whip It, the new film directed by Drew Barrymore, I realized I would have little hope of getting the family all together.

But, here is the surprising thing. I absolutely loved Zombieland. I laughted out loud more times than I have in a long time. Tom was completely enjoying himself. Will was totally in to it, and Kyle was too, even though he was obsessing about the results of the Yankee game.

I sat next to Kyle who was really bugging me. I am sure, I was totally bugging him. It just wasn't working.

And I let it break my heart.

Everyone says that I will be ready to let them leave when they get ready to go off to college. Is this what they mean?

I am seriously not happy about this at all!

And I am at a bit of a loss as to how to handle this as a parent.

After the movie I wanted to get ice cream. Isn't that what you do as a family after a good movie? Only Tom and I were really into it. Tom knew how important it was for me, this symbolic gesture of our past life really meant something to me. Kyle wanted to get home to watch baseball highlights and check all his texts and phone messages. He passed on the ice cream. But Tom, Will and I enjoyed our soft-served swirl with chocolate dip and hot caramel fudge.

In the midst of all this Kyle told me about a party a friend of his was having on Sunday night. Kyle does not have school on Monday. He asked if he could go.

"Of course," I said.
"Can I spend the night?" He asked.
"No," I said.
"Why not?" he questioned
"Because if you do, you'll be a zombie the next day."

The humor was lost on him. But he wants to go to this small party on Sunday and spend the night. That way he doesn't have to be home by curfew, which when you drive as a 16-year-old in California is 11:00pm

I told him I was happy to pick him up at 2:00 in the morning if he wanted me to.

No, he wants to sleep over. He assured me he would get sleep. Like I believe him.

Last weekend he really wanted to go to LoveEvolution in the city. Tom and I finally acquiesced and let him go. He came home, exhausted and overwhelmed.

This parenting thing is getting confusing for me.

All I know if I don't keep helping him navigate the stormy waters of love, learning, and friendships I am going to have one badass zombie on my hands.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shifting Tides

I woke up yesterday a bit possessed. I had to visit my BLOG. It has come to feel like home to me. I love to wake up and stare at the white page, imagining what might come out of my menopausal brain. But yesterday was weird.

I wrote my post and then changed over from Mommy to Mommy writer to horror writer. I sat in my family room and wrote the second installment for a horror series I have been working on. I wrote like a woman on the brink of madness for four straight hours.

I looked at the clock. Oh, crap! I only had another fifteen minutes until Will came home from school.

I look so forward to the kids coming home from school but since I have decided to try and 'get a life' I realize how little time I really have to do what I need to do. It is so hard for me to drop everything I'm doing and fall straight into my Mommy role. I couldn't quite do this yesterday. Part of me felt bad about this, the other completely out of control. I was on a roll and I had to get my story down on paper.

Will and I quickly went to the market so he could get a snack. I came back home and wrote while Will watched SPONGEBOB. It is hard to write gothic tales to Patrick's voice--but I was in the zone. I looked at the clock. I had to leave to pick up Kyle. I got in the car and half way their when he called and told me that he actually was called into a meeting for the one act he is directing and could I come back in an hour.

I raced home. I continued to write furiously. Then I jumped back in the car and picked up Kyle. Kyle looked exhausted from a long week at school. I felt exhausted for the single day of many hours of concentrated work I had been doing. I wasn't quite focusing on Kyle. I was still lost in my bizarre world of corpses and ghosts.

When I got home, I went into my bedroom and wrote. Tom somehow knew that if they were going to eat dinner he was going to have to take charge. I didn't even have to ask Tom if he would get dinner going. He just somehow knew. Boy I love my husband.

I ate and then went back to work. By 7:30pm the first draft of my story was complete. I have no idea how it reads. After I finish writing this post I will dare to look back at my work.

8:00pm rolled around and I switched on Survivor. I needed to chill. Kyle walked in and asked if someone could quiz him on some facts for his history exam. I asked Will to do it. Will had his own homework, so I did it. Poor Kyle, he had worked so hard studying for this test and he was left with a Mom who was tired and irritable.

Kyle really thinks he is much smarter than I am. So when I question him, he is always right and I am always wrong. Even when I am right. He then will go to Tom, who he knows is much smarter than me, because he went to frickin' Stanford. What Tom says he takes as fact. And Kyle will then acquiesce.

Kyle was lucky last night. Even though I was tired and irritable I didn't chew his head off. I left all that on the pages of my horror story.

Then, I decided to re-work the end of my story. Finally, I felt done for the night.

It felt good to juggle all my roles yesterday. I just don't think I would ever have the energy to do this everyday. I realize that I can't have it all. It is just hard to begin the step that puts my work ahead of my kid's daily needs. For so long I have been there 100% for them. Yesterday, I was too preoccupied with my life to really focus on them. Is that OK?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Leap of Faith

Two women, two different parts of the world, both not knowing that I had a BLOG about kids leaving home, yesterday told be that they were now empty nesters. Well, to be fair, one is a full fledge empty-nester this year. The other just dropped her eldest off at college two weeks ago and still has another three years until she is officially an empty-nester. Both these women from very different places said the exact same thing.

"You mean you take care of them for 18 years and then they just leave?"

It's rather audacious of our children, isn't it? But, kids grow up and independent and we cheer them on. We try and be unselfish parents as we both encourage and promote self discovery, self worth, self reliance. We complain bitterly when they don't clean their rooms, remember their assignments, forget their manners. We try and help them navigate the pressures of middle school so they can enter high school with some shred of their self worth in tact. And we do our best to allow our kids the opportunity to try new things in a hopes they find out what they love and how to best care for the world around them. Just writing about this sounds exhausting. And we do this in 18 years. We started this process so long ago when we held their tiny hand in ours and helped them take their first tiny steps. The steps are a lot bigger now and a lot noisier, but we are still there in case they fall.

"So, you mean you hold their hand for 18 years and then they just let go?"

Unthinkable! How dare they cross the street with out us?

But this is nothing new. What I have discovered that seems terribly new, is that we are one interesting generation of women who have decided that at this moment in our lives we need to reinvent ourselves. Almost every single woman I talk to who is or about to become an empty nester, whether they have always worked during child rearing or not, feel like it is time to take charge of their life and try something new. I think this is both inspirational and also quite frightening.

We can do anything we want. That is the inspirational part. But what do we want to do? This is the frightening part. So many of us seem to be struggling with this part.

I watch the wonderful women around me. I take note. And the ones that are the most successful at this part of the journey are the women who don't think it to death. They have a certain sense of something they want to do and they just start along their path. They don't question every part of the path before they have stepped on it. I don't know if it comes from the years of us mother's tossing and turning, and worrying about all things kids, but most of us tend to question our dreams or find excuses not to do the things we really want to do. We stop ourselves from starting over before we begin to let ourselves explore the possibilities. We didn't do this when we were 22-years-old and just starting out. Opportunities presented themselves and we took them. And the path was rarely straight. Think about your life after college. How did you get your first job? Were you absolutely certain that was what you wanted to do? Or did you just kind of jump in, knowing the world held possibilities and hope?

This is the piece that most of us are missing now. The one that says its OK to fail. It's OK to try something and not like it. It's OK to jump in not really knowing if it is exactly what you want to be doing with your time. And it is really OK to still have a world of possibility and hope deep with in your heart.

So many days I wake up and think about why I am writing this BLOG. I can think of hundreds of reasons why I shouldn't. But I am continuing to write. For me, it has become my leap of faith. I began this exercise not thinking it through at all. I have no hidden agenda of becoming a BLOG sensation. No fantasy of becoming the next Julie from Julia and Julia. I write every day now because I have this feeling that if I show up somedays the creative Gods will be with me and somedays they won't. I want to take advantage of those creative forces and make sure I am wide awake when they appear. The rest, I have no idea. But I am allowing myself moments of not indulging in the 'why bother' game. I am not good at leaps of faith but at this time I am keenly aware that if I don't leap, I won't fly.

And, I still do want to fly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ghoulish Work

Not to beat dead horse, but yesterday three huge boxes filled with files arrived at my house. I opened them up hastily, excited to see the contents. I knew they were sent from my Dad's old lawyer and somewhere buried deep within the legal size folders I was going to find my Dad.

I began to read the names on all the folders. I didn't recognize too many. I looked at dates, 1949, 1951--they went back 60 years.

I sneezed. With the files came 60 years of dust. I didn't care. I kept sneezing as I sat on my knees going through file after file. I wondered if every time I sneezed my heart stopped for a second? That would make a good film I thought as I kept looking through all the correspondences with story tellers from a different time and place.

I knew Dad as a daughter knows her father. I knew most of the movies he made. I knew his passions, his laughter, and his fear. I did not know his business.

I am completely overwhelmed. I have in my house the contracts of one man's life. I had no idea how hard he worked. More interestingly, I had no idea how many times he fell down, scrapped his knee, and got back up again.

I feel like a private detective, piecing together the clues to my father's career. It was obvious that he worked hard for his family, for me. I know that he wanted to prove his success to himself, I just had no idea how hard he worked to provide for us. In the back of one box is his Last Will and Testament and about four files that are called The Estate of William Castle. I closed that box. I can't look in there. Dad is not in those files. Those files are filled with pain and hopelessness.

Today, I am expecting one more box. I am waiting for it like a kid waiting for her first bicycle at Christmas. What I am looking for I really do not know. Dad is in me now and in my boys. But a little bit of him is left in the papers that made up his life. It has taken me over 30 years to get the strength to look at the details of Dad's career. I pull myself way back, far away from tears, I can't afford to get emotional. Right now, in this time and place I have chosen to work with my Dad. He died when I was a freshman in college. It was always great fun to watch him work.

Sitting amongst the small particles of time, I realize that I can resurrect his career. I just don't know if it is my destiny or his. Maybe in the next box, I will find out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Tell-Tale Heart

Julia Cameron writes in her book, The Artist's Way, all about the meaning of synchronicity. She quotes Ovid, "Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish."

Since beginning an Artist's Way group three weeks ago, my eyes have been wide open to the possibilities that the Universe works in powerful ways.

Two nights ago, I struggled with a connection to my Dad. I wanted his advice, his guidance, his unfaltering love. Yesterday afternoon, Will came running in from school. "I have to read this story called The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. Have you heard of it?"

I ran to the closet where I keep all my old albums and pulled out my absolute favorite one. It is the telling of The Tell Tale Heart by my Dad over forty years ago. Recently, a dear friend, who was working on a documentary on Dad gave me a digital recording of this wonderful record. I told Will to listen to it. I sat in the living room as Will lay alone on his bed in his darkened room listening to the tale (it is much scarier if you listen to it alone in the dark). I remember so vividly the day Dad came home from recording this album. He was completely hoarse, and couldn't talk for the entire night. He left all he had at the recording studio that day. And to Will's delight it all ended up in the grooves of the old LP.

Will was the most excited I think I have ever seen him. He was blown away by my Dad's talents as an actor, telling one of the greatest gothic tales ever told. He decided to sleep in his clothes last night so he would be ready for school earlier than usual. He couldn't wait to share this with his English teacher whom he adores. He couldn't fall asleep. I don't know if it was the intensity of the experience or the sheer joy of getting to know a Grandfather who died way before he was born, but he felt utterly connected to him.

I want to cry right now thinking about his excitement.

"What would Grandpa think if he knew I was listening to his rendition of The Tell Tale Heart?" he asked.

"Quite honestly," I told him, "He wouldn't allow you to bring the record to class tomorrow," I told a puzzled looking Will. "He would have marched himself into your classroom and preformed the entire piece to your class personally."

Will's smile widened. I could see him imaging his colorful Grandpa coming to his class and scaring the wits out of his friends.

The morning came and Will jumped out of bed with vigor. He stopped on the way to school because he saw a seal playing in the water next to him. Will was racing to school to show off his The Tell-Tale Heart but stopped to watch a beautiful seal play by the shore on the bike path next to our house.

Now, you tell me, is this all a coincidence? And what was that seal doing playing near Will this morning? My Dad most definitely had a part in the synchronicity of life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Big Smoke Out

I sat in my living room last night and popped open some champagne and lit up a Don Diego cigar. I don't usually drink champagne and smoke cigars on Sunday evenings but last night was different. Last night I was trying to commune with my father.

I had worked all day yesterday on the horror story I am writing. I needed inspiration. I needed Dad. Dad would sit for hours detailing story lines and manipulating budgets, and the whole time he would be puffing on his cigar. I hoped my cigar would give me inspiration.

I quickly became a curiosity around my house. The kids thought it very strange to watch Mom smoke, let alone smoke a cigar. I enjoyed the fact that I could still surprise them.

I watched the smoke swirl up into the air. Beautifully it danced into the recesses of our home. Unfortunately it would linger long after the cigar would be put out. The awful smell would remind me of Dad and of years gone by.

Concentrating intently on my work at hand, I didn't notice Will looking at me. Finally, I caught his smile.

I looked at my Will with delight. Earlier in the weekend we had measured our heights, back to back. He was now taller than me. At five foot eight inches, I was now the shortest person in our family. This made me both happy and sad. I was happy that Will was getting taller for his sake, I was sad because I knew that his growth spurt was yet another marker of time.

At that moment, I put away my foolish cigar and ceased trying to create the horror story I had been working on all day. I had no more energy for anything other than Will. I was keenly aware that I needed to be with him at this moment. I wanted to be with him.

Balancing my silly life in movie-land with my wonderful role as a mother has never poised a problem for me. There was no balance to strike. Being a mother was the most fulfilling work I could ever do. But now that I know that my time is freeing up a bit, I feel like I have to try and figure out the rest of my life. I know that I am not alone in this search. I am part of a generation of women, who were told we could do it all. And now, staring at empty time and wondering how we are going to fill it, I find that I am part of a revolution of women who are trying to reinvent themselves. But it is harder than it appears. We bring with us years of self doubt and long standing question about what we really want.

My father always told me I could anything I wanted. I trusted him. I realize now that lighting up that cigar last night was not my attempt to conjure up his creative spirit but to honor our loving father-daughter relationship. "Dad," I want to ask so desperately, "If I could anything, what should I do now."

I know his response. "You can do anything you want, dear."

At this moment in time this seems utterly impossible.

My musings were masked by Kyle's complaint from his bedroom. "Mom," he screamed,"My room smells like cigar smoke!"

I laughed to myself. I felt a bit naughty. Perhaps I can do anything I want.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Honest and Scrappy Award or "The Invention of Telling the Truth"

My two new best friends Emily and Jennifer from have tagged me in the "honest and scrappy" game. I would do anything they ask of me. Even be honest. Their BLOG is an inspiration to me. Thank you Lindsay! This comes at a particularly interesting time, since last night I saw "The Invention of Lying." I now know the real truth, lying has its advantages...who would have thought. So, although I am tempted to lie, here is the truth.

1. I am terribly embarrassed and try not to admit that I grew up with a 90210 zip code.

2. In the eighth grade, standing by my locker, a boy touched my boobs. I slapped him across the face and he slapped me back. I left feeling humiliated. Now the boy is really rich and still lives in the 90210 zip code.

3. I am the least disciplined person I know. Writing this BLOG is a miracle.

4. I am terrified of doctors. I mean I have a real phobia. I don't think it has a name like agoraphobia or claustrophobia--but it is definitely something big!

5. I had a panic attack at the Century City Mall ten years ago when I was told I had to do a two day press junket with Joel Silver starting the next day. I didn't have time to come back home and was given money by Warner Brothers to buy something to wear. The shops started to spin out of control. I had to sit on a couch, with my head between my legs and let Tom pick out my outfit.

6. Robert Redford came to my house to play tennis when I was in my late teens. My best friend tells me that I stole his underwear out of his car but I swear I have no recollection of this event.

7. I love BigMacs.

8. My school girl crush was on two boys named Scott. They lived at the beach and they were so 'hot!' I always liked the surfer boys and thought of myself as a cross between Gidget and Bette Midler. Weird!

9. I have no idea why I writing this BLOG. I just keep writing. I am deeply afraid that I am boring everyone to death.

10. The best thing to come out of writing this BLOG is reconnecting with old friends. One in particular. I was in the same sorority with her, we worked together, and then ended up living in New York at the same time. (Yes, I was a Delta Gamma at UCLA an extra piece of honesty.) I am so happy she is back in my life!

The 'honest and scrappy' award apparently asks us to tag fellow bloggers who are honest and scrappy too. So, in the spirit of 'tag your it' I must pass the baton over to:

Make sure to check her out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sisters and Brothers

It is amazing to watch my boys fight. Kyle constantly makes "ugly" jokes about Will. And Will has finally figured out how to defend himself and now is armed with "stupid" jokes about Kyle. And so it goes. They never bore of their endless put downs. They seem to thrive at this game of one-up-man-ship. Hard to believe, but this is almost more fun for them than killing Nazi Zombies.

But then I notice the little things like Will proudly showing off his armpit hair to Kyle. Or Kyle trying to hook Will up with the right music so he won't appear to be "such a geek" with his friends. Will loans Kyle cash, so Kyle has the money to take out his girlfriend. Kyle includes Will with his friends. Sometimes they actually seem to like each other.

And then there are the hours that Kyle spends trying to improve Will's mastery of the James Bond oo7 video game. To Will, Kyle is the video game God and no matter how hard he tries he can never be as good as his big brother. Eventually, Will shuts down. Kyle clumsily and inappropriately tries to tease Will out of his bad mood. Will stomps out of the room crying and slamming doors.

Immediately I get mad at Kyle. Will comes to Kyle's aid. And I am left confused.

Before I can sort everything out, neither kid remembers anything that has happened.

They call it unconditional love. And as a Mom I sure hope they have each other's back when they have to pick turns changing my diaper.

I know all about unconditional love with a sibling. My sister once sprayed PSSSSST (the dry shampoo that supposedly dyed your hair grey) in my hair. I was so mad I actually knocked her down and started pounding on her back. She still loved me. Another time, I got so mad at her I took my fingernails and dug them into her arm. Blood came and I freaked out and ran home to tell my Mom. She continued to love me.

As we got older, Georgie was the only one who could quiet an emerging panic attack. She would tell me to ride the wave in her calm and loving way. She was right there, running after my gurney when I emerged from a surgery, telling me everything was fine. She got to me before even the doctors could. And she never judged me. Ever. We laughed at our mother when she would fart in the grocery store and whiff the smell around. She had my back always. And I tried to have hers.

But today I want to remember my sophisticated, conservative sister dancing on the table at a night club in Ibiza with one long gold earring dangling from her ear. I smile, thinking about the adventure we had ending up on the back of two boys mopeds late that same night. I want to think of Georgie's laughter and remember the time I took out a bright red lipstick and smeared it all over my mouth.

"Who do I remind you of?"

"Mom, of course." Georgie said laughing so hard I thought she was going to barf.

Thank God for Georgie.

Today would have been Georgie's 55th birthday. Instead of buying her a present, I go out every year and buy my boys a small gift. I need to celebrate today because Oct. 2 represents something special to me. The biggest gift of all. The gift of a sister who loved me unconditionally and with one look could make me laugh until my sides hurt.