Sunday, September 26, 2010

College Night at Cleveland. Or, how I faced my demons at 40.

Two years ago, I had a “face your demons” night for sure. I left my high school in June, 1986 and I didn’t look back.

At all.

Until two years ago, when I spoke at Cleveland High School Humanities Magnet’s College Night. It’s a long story how I got there (not really long, but not funny or interesting) but suffice it to say the first time I felt old is when I was told that I’d be speaking to the PARENTS. Yep…almost 40 and that means…you get to speak to the parents.

I spoke about how the program prepared me for college, but more about how parents can help their kids get ready to make that transition etc. They were pretty vague about what they wanted me to talk about – which is how I like it. I can speak extemporaneously. Turns out this is one of those times, I wished I was recorded. It was a good one.

But I had to earn it.

So…after what was a very tough day at work (also not getting into it, but suffice it to say that my ego was pretty bruised and I didn’t feel very successful in my career or life when I left the office at 6) I drove what didn’t feel all that familiar route to Grover Cleveland High School in lovely downtown Reseda.

Now – I knew that part of the reason that I was doing this was to exercise (in the Catholic sense not the fitness one) some let’s just say, leftover demons, that exist for me from High School. So I was honest about why I was doing this. But as I got closer, that knot that used to form in my stomach in high school began to reform – lovely. (Maybe high school is when I developed my 2, count ‘em, 2 ulcers).

News flash – I didn’t love high school. It was tough every day of all three years (also a sign of my age – high school was not four years then). I struggled not only in all the areas that everyone does: social, finding yourself, learning about your identity, etc. but also with academics. It wasn’t until my Junior/Senior year in College that I learned about how I learn and my grades shot up into the A range.

So, given those struggles, last night was about sweeping those demons away. Finally.

I pulled into the parking lot and walked onto campus. O.K. so far so good. Nothing bad has happened yet.

I found the room where I’d be speaking (E10 for the people on this note that know the campus) – which, incidentally, I didn’t need directions to after 22 years – and walked in. I had taken classes in this room 22, 23, 24 years ago. Mr. something-that-started-with-a-K taught in that room. I had about 10 minutes before the program would begin so I walked around a bit.

I headed down the hallway of the E building. This is significant in that if you were in the magnet program, this is where you spent at least 2/3 of your day. Chances are, your locker was in here and all four of your Core classes (the cornerstone of the program) were in this building. It’s a one story building with 9 classrooms and the Magnet Office in it. I began to walk down the hall slowly – and no one else was there.

Physically at least.

I heard voices for sure…I heard the sound of my high school class. I heard the sound of an old friend’s voice laughing, I heard the teachers voices (one of which still teaches there!) booming to “think more critically!”. I heard the silent sound of panic – of that panic in a 16 year old head that says, “my life is over”. I heard the sound of a kid who is simply trying to find out who they are and this building isn’t helping.

I found my locker.

Seriously. I found my locker and stood there for a moment.

And I felt tall. Granted, I was in 3” heels, but I felt tall outside of that. I felt like the building was stepping to the side for the “grown up”. Yes! Some demons – gone!

I walked outside and took a walk down the middle of campus to the quad. I saw that they moved the bench that I used to sit on with a few friends between E and D buildings (C. Choo – remember our bench?). Other than that, the school looks pretty much the same. More vending machines, but not much else.

I walked back through E building and noticed that where there used to be classroom doors with small windows, there were now cell looking doors. No door knob, just a lock for a key and a handle to pull the door open with.

Wow…keeping them in or keeping people out? Was this an after effect of Columbine? Even in 1986 there was a shooting at Cleveland , but wow – these look like cell doors. (I did ask later, and the doors were installed before Columbine. I decided I didn’t want any other information.)

So…now…back to the speaking engagement – which is why you’re still reading this.

I get into E10 and it’s starting to look really full. Lots of parents sitting in those high school seats – chair and desk attached with a small basket beneath. I am one of 3 speakers. First is Ginger (?) the 25 year old admissions counselor from UCLA. She is there to tell the parents all the ins and outs of applying to the UC schools and specifically UCLA. Ms. UCLA goes through her slide presentation and after her 30 or so minute speech, I am so thankful that I don’t have to apply to college again that I want to run through the hallways cheering. You need 120 units of this and 300 units of that. You better take 20 AP classes if your school offers 30 or don’t even bother applying. You must have held leadership positions in your outside activities – not good enough to have simply participated. It goes on an on (those of you with high school children who will be going to college, my heart goes out to you). I don’t know when kids have time to be kids these days…holy cow.

Then she finally finishes.

And then this lovely young woman who is approximately 31 (but looks 20-something for sure) gets up to speak. She is a Cleveland Alum as well.

It’s important to note that I am now standing on the side of the room at the front next to what used to be the chalk board and is now the “white board” in a room that is filled to over capacity with parents. People are standing on the sides of the room and spilling outside the classroom. I think we’re talking close to 70 people. Maybe over…can’t be sure. But I’m up there to the right of the other Alum. Be thinking about what my body language, facial expressions and internal communication might have been when I tell you what her speech consisted of.

So…she begins by telling people how long it’s been since she graduated – 1995 and a bit of blah blah blah about what she liked about the Magnet program. Then she talked about how she went of to Penn for undergrad and how she used a lot of what she learned in the program. Then (start to think about my expressions…) she went off to Penn again for her Master’s…o.k. (I begin to think, I’m going to have to make these parents laugh)

Then…she became an elementary school teacher for first and second grade. (Yep, really going to need to make them laugh)

Then she did this and then she did that and then she invented Cold Fusion and then she worked with Bono on saving all the children in Africa and then she worked to reinvent the telephone and then she consulted with world leaders on clean water and then and then she created sustainable this and that and then and then and then…(O.K. it’s for sure…I need to make them laugh but not so much they don’t take me seriously)

And then she became a PhD student at Harvard – which incidentally was the “right school for her” after an exhaustive search. (Yep – guffaws for sure)

Oh holy crap!!!


She was valedictorian of her class here at Cleveland .

“Ugh!” came out of my mouth.

Audibly, I think based on the two faces that looked at me.

O.K. I need to make them roll in the isles…but in that way that they do it inside their heads and not look at me like “does she think this is open mike night at the Improv?”

I usually feel badly for people that follow me in public speaking – not to sound too egotistical, but I do that pretty well and following me is sometimes tough.

Um, people have run screaming from a public speaking engagement for less than this girl.


THUD!! Went my stomach and I wondered if it was too late to make an escape.

So, it’s probably a good time to explain that I was not the best student in high school. I think I eluded to this earlier, but it’s as good a time as any to reiterate it.


Hello demons…you were waiting for this, right?

So…the host says to the crowd: “do you have any questions for our speaker Penn-Penn-Harvard?” (O.K. he didn’t call her that, but for the duration, that’s what I’ll be calling her…)

Not one hand went up.

Oy – rough crowd.

“Now I’d like to introduce Dena Loverde – another graduate of the Cleveland Magnet program. Dena graduated in 19…96?” the host says.

“No…I graduated in 19…86” I said. And a wave of “ohhh, ahhh” came over the crowd.

And then I began:

“And now for something completely different! (cue laughter – they actually laughed) It’s true, the last time I was on this campus was 22 years ago almost to the day.”

I then spent the next 15-20 minutes talking uninterrupted to a rapt audience. They seemed to hang on every word I said. I’m not being conceited, I am telling you – they were interested in hearing from me.

Much to my total surprise.

I have a style of public speaking that I describe as a combination of preacher-motivational speaker-comic-teacher. So, it’s pretty engaging. And it better be, because I needed to grab them from the first minute I started speaking so that they didn’t concentrate on the fact that Penn-Penn-Harvard was not speaking to them any longer.

I told them about the program and how it had an effect on me with regard to what we learned, how I referred to it over the next 20 years in art that I saw, college (both BA and MA) and conversations that I had. I told them that way back in the dark ages, all you had to do was raise your hand and you were into a magnet program – that I went to an elementary school, jr. high and high school with magnet programs…it was easy then. But that when I told people over the last 20 years that I went to Cleveland ’s Magnet, they were all very impressed. I explained that the director of this program, Neil Anstead was ahead of his time – that what their kids (Ms. UCLA and Penn-Penn-Harvard kept calling their children, “students” – how impersonal – these are PARENTS of CHILDREN) learned here was like nothing other kids learned at other schools. I told them how lucky they were to get to experience this with their kids.

But I also told them that this program is hard. 20 years harder than when I was here. That they need to support their kids, assist them, help them with the work. Participate with them in their learning. That their kids were being asked to come up with original thoughts – previously used thoughts, not good enough. That they were being tasked with way more than current events and that they were being challenged to go way past what these kids thought was their “top”. They were being asked to take it even higher and be more than they think they can.

And that’s really hard when you’re 15, 16, and 17 years old.

Also, it’s super hard when you’re trying to do all that stuff that Ms. UCLA said you have to do to go to college! (I was more polite, but you get the gist.)

I told them about the teacher that is evidently still there (Mr. Linn – philosophy/critical thinking) and how sorry I was that their children would not get to learn from my art teacher, Mrs. Montrachet.

So I went on and on – telling them about my college career (leaving out some social and academic details that were not relevant) and about going to CSUN for both my BA and my MA.

And then the questions came…

Tons of them. Some of the gems and my answers were:

“Does it matter if you go to a ‘good’ or ‘not so good’ college?”

No, it doesn’t. I have interviewed a lot of people and to me the issue is – go to college and finish. Now, that being said, if you are specialized in something and there is a college that is known for that specialization, having gone there will carry more weight. (needless to say, Penn-Penn-Harvard and Ms. UCLA weren’t thrilled, but hey, that’s real life baby)

“What did you major in?”

I was a business major for almost 4 years because I thought I was supposed to. My dad and mom were business and econ, so I thought that was what I was supposed to do. But, in my 4th year, I took an econ class that made me think that I would jump off the Sierra Tower if I took another one. Then I took a speech class and the rest is Training & Development history.

“If you could do it over again, would you still go to CSUN or go to UCLA?”

I’m not going to answer that question as you would like me to. The fact is that if I went to UCLA in 1986 I’d only be doing it because my parents did. That’s it. Your kids need to choose the college that speaks to them. College is not optional – where your kid goes, is.

“What should we do when our kids want to go to one college because it is popular and prestigious and they don’t want to hear about going anywhere else?”

(I simply LOVE when they asked me questions about how to RAISE THEIR CHILDREN!!!)

Well…I’ll give you an analogy to answer this question – let’s say, I come home, as your daughter and tell you that there are these jeans that I MUST have – that my life will be incomplete without them and that everyone has them and that life will be practically perfect if I have them. Oh, and the jeans are $175,000! So, what do you say to me parent? (lots of beginnings of grumblings…) Not so much? Right? Same with college. It’s your job as their parent to open their eyes that there are thousands of colleges out there and that there are options and that they should review all the options.

So…I know this is long winded, but it was a good night…I got a ton of good feedback at the end – the individual comments kept me there for an additional 25 minutes. The guy who lead the evening took my card because he wants me to speak to the kids. He said that they couldn’t have scripted it better and they think that the kids need to hear that the program is tough and they’re not making it up. One mom came to me and thanked me for telling them how hard the program is. Her daughter keeps coming home and telling her how she and her friends are struggling and the mom thought she was making it up. Does that sound similar to, “well, maybe you’re not applying yourself”? Right.


You can go back again, but should you?

Hello blog peeps. I hope that you are staying cool wherever you are because it's about a million degrees here where I am. Yes, it a dry heat, but it's a million degrees out and dry. Blech. I can't really complain as it only gets this way for a couple of weeks a year here and the rest of the year, it's pretty great weather. So, I shouldn't complain, but I do.

This weekend I did something that is very unlike me. I am a firm believer of putting the past in the past. That's why they call it the past. If you were supposed to continue to deal with it, it would be called the present. But, in fact, it's called the past and that is where it should remain.

This weekend I took Aha on a tour of my high school. We broke the law - yes we did - we trespassed. The gate was open and we wandered in. Many of the buildings were being painted and so the workmen were in and out of the campus and thus the opportunity presented itself to wander around.

Now, it's probably important to tell you that not only do I believe that the past should remain just that, the past, but high school in particular. Let's just say, it's not one of my fondest memories for a multitude of reasons.

I'm no different than many people, I was insecure (though at my reunions, everyone seems to want to tell me how 'together' I seemed) and while I thought I knew basically who I was, evidently in retrospect, I had no clue.

I also, was desperate, I mean desperate (but very serious - all hail Adam Ant!) to be someone's girlfriend. This was a very real issue for me. My parents had met practically at birth (middle school) and therefore I knew no different. I knew that I wouldn't meet my Mr. Right in middle or high school, but I was seriously ready for Mr. For the Moment, or Mr. Take Me to The Dances, or Mr. Ask Me to Wear His Letterman Jacket, and/or Mr. Walk Around Holding my Hand and Being Proud to Date me. I wasn't picky.

It wouldn't be for another 20+ years (23+ if you start in the 10th grade - the beginning of high school back when the earth was cooling) that I would find out that my suitors were there, right there, making up the starting line of the football team, the basketball team and in my classes but they didn't think they could come up and talk with me because they were too intimidated (or so they say - I'm going with it and if it turns out it was a lie, please don't feel like you need to burst my bubble).


As Hawkeye said to Trapper, "[I] screwed up in reverse!".

So, when Aha and I walked onto the campus it was an interesting moment. I had been back one other time a few years ago to speak to the College Night Parents (I will post that summary in the next blog so you can read how it went) but other than that quick trip, I hadn't walked around the campus in 20+ years.

And with good reason.

Woosh are there a lot of ghosts there. They seem to live in the cafeteria area - outside the buildings, in the areas that are now paved but used to be, I'm not even sure what, dirt? Grass? The ghosts of my high school career lay in wait there. But because I had Aha with me (and another secret weapon) I felt protected.

It's true - I wasn't alone, which is how I felt so often there. I wasn't afraid to come around a corner because someone scary would be there. My security team yesterday wouldn't let that happen to me. They wouldn't let the mean kids make faces at me. They wouldn't let the immature high schoolers accuse me of something I never did.

Most importantly, they would never let me forget I'm smart (they told me that yesterday too - not knowing how important it was for me to hear). Very very often at that school I felt sooooo un-smart. So far below expectations and I never knew why, but once that snowball gets a 'rollin, it can't be stopped.

Yesterday was another step in putting that part of the past, really in the past.

Very recently a person from my way back past who resurfaced (think elementary school) asked me why I didn't use my maiden name in social networks etc . I told this person that I'm in contact with the people that I would like to be from my past and not feeling a deep need to reconnect with others.

So, does knowing you can go back again mean you should? I'm still not sure. But I'll tell you this; don't go without your security team.

And no, you can't have mine. Get your own.

It's not easy being green,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

To err is human; to Fredo is to forgive

At this, the end of the days of awe for Jews worldwide, the two words of the ten days are "forgive" and "inscribe". Inscribe will be dealt with in another post, but for today, let's examine forgive.

To be forgiven is supposed to clear everything up, right? I forgive someone and all those feelings of anger, irritation and shock of what's happened (in the case of Michael and Fredo, Fredo having set up Michael to be whacked!) are supposed to just fly the coop?

That's a lot to ask of the angry person. Think about it, you're pissed off at someone and they say, "please forgive me for forgetting your birthday", it's up to you to get rid of that anger and say, "o.k." and then move on with your life.

I don't think so.

But when it's even worser? Yes, I said worser.

When someone says, as in the case of Fredo, "Please forgive me for putting a hit out on you". I don't think that Michael is thinking that a simple forgiveness request is going to do it.

Seriously, think about it. There's no easy way to rectify these things. Saying, "I'm sorry" is about as effective as saying, "oops". Ergo, not so much.

But, asking for forgiveness puts all the responsibility on the person being asked. If you say, "please forgive me" it's my job now to make the decision to forgive you or not. If I do, then I have to let go of my anger and if I say no, I sound like a tool.

So what's the solution?

Are there events that are unforgivable?

I guess that depends.

Was shooting Sonny on the causeway forgivable? The Don went to the five families and cleared the air. Pretty amazing. I'm not sure I could let the air be cleared if it was my kid.

What about the kids who bullied that little girl on the bus day in and day out. Her Dad came on the bus and laid down the law that he'd permanently mess them all up (including the driver) if they continued to bully his daughter. Should the girl forgive those kids? Should the parents forgive the father?

And something else...are we forgiving actions or behavior? Think about that. Think seriously about that.

Are you forgiving the hit that Fredo put out on you or are you forgiving the behavior, the fact that Fredo CHOSE to behave that way.

Forgiveness is a rough deal. I'm not sure I get it either.

But here's the rub. It's the waiting until Yom Kippur (YK) to ask for forgiveness part that seems pretty insincere to me. The readings say that you should ask for forgiveness immediately when you "transgress" against one another and that YK is simply a 'catch all' for the transgressions you may have missed.

If you missed it and someone is walking around being irritated with you and doesn't mention it, how will you know if you need to ask for forgiveness. And more importantly, why would they wait until the days of awe to let you know, "say, by the way, last October you really pissed me off when you....".

I'm sorry - I must call an audible for that one. The statute of limitations has WAY expired if it was 11 months ago. Communication and forgiveness are a two-way gig. It's just as important to let someone know that they pissed you off as it is for you to let them know that they did if it appears that they don't realize it (as dense as that makes them look to you).

So, poor Fredo. Here he is, stuck in this family, thought to be the stupid one ("I'm smart! I'm smart!") and he gets in Dutch with Hyman Roth's peeps - Johnny Ola was the middle man - and the hit on Michael doesn't work.

NOW, they're at a new years party and his brother Michael plants a very humongous kiss on his lips and utters the now very famous lines, "I knew it was you Fredo. I knew it was you. You broke my heart Fredo! You broke my heart!" and then commands Fredo to get on a plane with him to flee to safety from Cuba.

Fredo comes slinking back to Michael asking for forgiveness, using their sister (Tahlia Shire in a most fabulous role, prior to her almost mute role in Rocky) as his go-between. Michael basically says "Paphooy" to Fredo until their Mom dies and then, as it turns out, Fredo's days are numbered.

All I have to say is never go fishing with someone named Fredo.

So what would you do? What do you do about forgiveness? What do you do about giant transgressions against you or ones you've done to others? The only one who has to reckon it at the end is you, but how do you deal with the issue of forgiveness?

I'm not sure either.

But I do know this, karma is a brutal thing. I know is that I have to be a good person, not hold grudges (it's in my DNA, so that's a constant battle), and live and let live. I'm fortunate that I haven't had to deal with a forgiveness request for what I would consider a large transgression and frankly, I'm not sure what I'd do if I were Michael. But my siblings should rest assured that I will never have them killed. Never, ever, never, ever. I think that might fall into the unforgivable column.

I guess this one will be decided on a case by case basis.

May all of you be inscribed in whatever book you hope to be inscribed in for a healthy and happy year,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How can you miss me if I don't go away?

Hello party people!

My goodness has a lot happened since I was an acronym. I went from 0 to 120 mph in terms of things going on. I've got my own company now (DRL Consulting) and I'm working on a HUGE project with a client and I teach a session of Public Speaking at L.A. Valley College (thank you thank you thank you Mr. Green for help in making that happen!!). Plus I'm still running and I'm planning to run the Disneyland Half Marathon this Sunday and I'm finally back to cooking in my kitchen (three nights in a row and counting!!!). AND I'm still a wife/caregiver, daughter, aunt, friend.....So, given that I need to sleep at some point I've not been around.

But that's the very best thing about writing a blog - it's like going to the gym (or not) - if I don't come by for a while, you never ask where I was. You never say, "I haven't seen you here in a while", it's a very beautiful thing.

But what's in my mind lately?


Bye bye.

Getting out of dodge.


Running away.

Blowing this popsicle stand.

Bailing out.

Finding a life raft and jumping ship.

Get it yet?

Now, no one worry that Aha and I are having issues - we're not - we're still sickeningly in love and everything is good there. But even in a fabulous marriage, you need a little alone time.

It's amazing how little time in our own heads we get. But your head is not what concerns me. Though, I am concerned about you, but for the moment, this is a one way speaking event. I'll get to you in a moment.

I am determining in my old age that I really do need time alone. Seriously. And especially now that I work from home. I need time when I don't feel responsible for anyone else. I know that parents feel this a lot and I totally get it.

But I'm here 2 tell u, there's something else - it's not just kids that make you want to go into the bathroom, lock the door and/or give yourself a "time out". Sometimes it's regular life. Sometimes, we turn into a 9 year old who just doesn't wanna do anything and we're just short of throwing a tantrum on the floor; complete with kicking, screaming and flailing arms. I'm not so sure that if we wouldn't be hauled off to a room with padded walls, more of us would do that (hmmm, a windowless room with padding on the walls and floor. Is it bad that it sounds good to me?).

But we don't get away like we should. We have "feelings". We have feelings of responsibility.

NOTE: if you don't fall into this category, I simultaneously am envious and disappointed of/in you.

And that my friends, is the signal that you have moved into that group - the grown ups.

To that I say, "PHOOEY!!!"

Seriously. Sometimes, a woman just needs to be a girl - I'll even settle for young woman or even young lady. Sometimes I just want to go to the beach sit in the sand, listen to my walkman and work on puzzles or eat food that Mom won't let me eat in the house and not gain weight from it.

What's wrong with that?

Nothing if you don't mind people thinking that you might be a lazy bum.

Oh, and that you don't mind not earning money. Now that's a problem one because it funds the above mentioned beach day with music, puzzles and snacks.

So what do I glean from all of this?

Not much. But I do love getting to whine about it.


Because I get to do it alone. HA!!!

Sing of good things, not bad,

P.S. Hey look, I never got to Not sure I feel great about that, but you seem to be o.k. so I'm gonna go with it's o.k.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

When did I become an acronym?

So, turns out, I'm an acronym. I thought I had been able to avoid them all, but it's true. According to a FB friend of mine, I'm a PANK.

What is a PANK you ask? Why, I'll tell you.


I'm not so sure I love this. But, what I do love is that someone out there has developed a brand around it called Savvy Auntie. I do dig the concept of being a Savvy Auntie.

Truth be told, I'm a pretty fabulous Auntie. Number 1, I've had fabulous examples to work from. I have four actual Aunties that I love to pieces. Secondly, I am a student of the Auntie Mame school of how to be an Auntie. Thirdly, when it comes to kids, I seem to have the patience of a saint. Maybe it's because I never had my own kids running around asking the same questions a million times in a row. Maybe not. Maybe I was born that way. One of my adopted Aunties (heretofore known as just Aunties, it's irrelevant whether they are blood related or not) came up with the only reason that makes any sense about why Aha and I weren't able to have our own kids and thus I have so much patience with kids.

Auntie B thinks that in my prior lives (all of them) I had tons of kids. They were everywhere in every life. She thinks that I only agreed to come to this life if I didn't have any of my own.

Now, as someone who would have given her eye teeth for the ability to have her own kids, and as someone who has been diagnosed as "Unexplained Infertility" by well respected Doctors such as Dr. H., I will GLADLY take this explanation as the reason that my uterus kicked out the embryos.

Hey, you got a better one? Send it on.

So, PANK. Hm...the jury is out on how I feel about that. But I will tell you this. I am a(n):

Auntie to 11 (two of which kind of look like me!!!)
Great Auntie to 20
Great Great Auntie to 2
Adopted Auntie to more than I can count

Why is it good to be an Auntie? Here are some of my reasons:

1. You can tell anything to an Auntie and she will keep it secret - from everyone (unless your physical health is concerned, but then she'll handle it delicately to protect you as best she can)
2. You can call your Auntie whenever you want for whatever reason you want.
3. You can call your Auntie to come get you from wherever you are, having done whatever you've done, with whomever you've done it with and she will come get you and take you home with her, tell your parents where you are and not discuss it until the morning.
4. You can have dessert for lunch with your Auntie (most times)
5. She loves all your school pictures and wants them every year please
6. You can ask your Auntie the same thing over and over and she'll never tire of it
7. You can ask your Auntie ANYTHING about ANYTHING even if you are so embarrassed to ask you can barely get the words out of your mouth and she'll always answer and never tease you about the question and will tell you the truth when she answers.
8. You can call your Auntie and complain about your parents and she will listen (and sometimes might even agree!)
9. You can sleep at your Aunties house when you want - all you have to do is call and ask
10. You can make mistakes with your Auntie and she will not yell at you about them - EVER.

So what does this all mean? Does it make up for not being able to have my own kids?


But, what it does do is give me that feeling of "I love you more than anyone else" for the short time that the kids are with me.

And that is something that an Auntie can't pass up.
Auntie Dena.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

But one of your answers was....

One of the cool things about summer is the weekly concert that the Today Show puts on each Friday.

A few weeks ago on the Today Show, there was quite a flurry. Well, was it a flurry? More like a sighting. No, not that either. What occurred on the Today Show today can only be described as a Beatle-like event.

Oh, do I wish that I was here to tell you that the Fab Four reunited (and in some cases rose from the dead) and re-debuted with Matt Lauer, but I'm not.

What I'm here to tell you is that a young man named Justin Bieber performed with his band, back up singers and dancers right on the 30 Rock stage. It was awesome to see the fans gather around this teenager who was singing his heart out. The best part was the young girls ('girls' used intentionally) reaction. They were absolutely glued to every word he sang. My very favorite girl was on the side (good standing area, but on the side right near the stage). Every time Justin came anywhere near this girl; and he came within 10 feet for sure; he'd reach his arm out similar to the famous Sistine Chapel art, and she would reach back.

Ah, it was that moment, that "please-just-please-grab-my-hand-and-the-world-will-be-perfect-because-we'll-be-together" moment that I loved best.

Why? Simple.

I was that girl.

Plainly put, I was that girl who thought that if my favorite singer of the moment, and there were a string of them, would swoop in and sweep me up, life would be practically perfect.

When I was 14 or 15, I got my wish. Sort of.

I was very lucky to have the opportunity to go watch a music game show called The Pop 'N Rocker Game be filmed fairly regularly. All the big stars of the day were on: Oingo Boingo, The Bangles, Motley Crue, Tower of Power, Huey Lewis & The News and Culture Club to name just a few. It was hosted by none other than Bowzer from Sha Na Na; but his real persona hosted, Jon Bauman.

So, I had an angel that looked after me and made sure that I was there for great performances. One day my friend and I were at a taping of the show and there we were minding our own business when Bowzer, um, Jon announced the name of the second band that was going to perform that minute (two performed one each show).

Side note - I'm a kid of the eighties, KROQ's (Roq of the 80's) heyday, KMET's great years (tweedle dee!) and the grand years of the Sherman Oaks Galleria (like totally fur sure!). I mean, Valley Girl and Fast Times at Ridgemont High were filmed mere miles from where I lived. So, when the 80's music came to fruition, I was right in there. I liked 'em all, really, but one more than others:

Sparks. They were the bees knees. To top it off, was sure that if Russell Mael (lead singer) married me, life would cease to have any problems whatsoever.

So, imagine my total shock and surprise when Jon Bauman announced that Sparks were right here on the very stage I was standing in front of!

I think my brain exploded inside my head. I know that every atom in my body clenched and then tried to head out via my skin. I simply, and in technical terms, freaked out.

There they were...Ron (my hopefully future brother in law) and Russel Mael. Russell was singing his heart out; and I knew, it was only for me. I was so clear about this that as soon as he came near me, that arm went out.

The same arm that girl held out to Justin Bieber. But!!! Unlike Justin who did not bring this girl any closer to her dream, Russell knew that I was there for him. I was there to be brought on stage to be with him.

And that is exactly what he did.

He led me up the stairs to the stage and there I was dancing my little heart out next to the man of my dreams.

But wait...who were these other girls? He led more than on of them up after me. Well, they were significantly incorrect if they thought that they were going to move in on my man, well they'd have to go through me to do it.

So I moved them over, ever so gently I'm sure, and kept my eyes on Russell. The song ended and I knew this was it. This was my moment for my big move. Do I propose outright? No, I didn't have a ring. Do I profess my love in words? No, we didn't have enough time. So I did what any smart, young woman on a mission to snag the one she loved would do.

I planted one heck of a kiss right on his mouth.

Right there, right on the kisser.

I don't regret it for one minute. It was, to that point in life, one of the greatest moments of my life.

Cut to 25ish years later and Russell Mael is on a radio show that Aha and I listen to. So what do I do?

Yep, I call in. And what do I ask?

Yep, did he remember me from 1984. I remembered him, why wouldn't he?

So, dear girl at the Justin Bieber show, keep holding out your hand for one day, someone will grab it. Then make sure to give them on heck of a smooch on the kisser. You'll never regret it.

You're going to take a walk in the rain and you're going to get wet.
I predict,

p.s. Yes, it exists both on video tape and DVD. You can make your checks payable to me for a private viewing. ; )

Saturday, June 26, 2010

M'Nell, where ya been?

June 26, 2010

Dear M'Nell,

It's been seventeen years since you left us all. Seventeen years ago today, you did the right thing and let go and moved on to whatever comes next. In the long run, it was probably the best thing for you to do, but to be honest, I wasn't thrilled with it and still aren't.

But I get it.

Sort of.

You've missed a lot since you left, my brother and I got married (not to each other) babies have been born, jobs won and lost, good and bad days, new diseases acquired and other wonderful health challenges.

A couple of weeks ago, your phone number when you lived with Grandpa Mitton in Camarillo came into my head. Just popped in there. It was very odd and I wasn't sure why it did. Did you have anything to do with that?

I still miss you - even seventeen years later. I miss you a lot. I miss your smile, your hugs and your love for me. I'm pretty sure you're still with me somewhere because I smell your Charles of the Ritz powder once in a while; even when no one is around.

I'm not sure what else to say other than, I'm wearing your tic tac toe charm and your square earrings today, thinking about you and wishing you were around still.

I love you and hope you're happy wherever you are.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I just saw Tom Cruise at Starbucks!

O.K. that's not exactly true. To be totally honest, it's not even a teeny weeny bit true. I mean it's not even the six degrees of Kevin Bacon (uh oh, did it again) true. I didn't see anyone, who knows anyone, who knows anyone, who knows anyone, who knows anyone, who knows Tom Cruise.

What I did see, however, was what people think we ALL look like here in lovely star-studded-stars-wait-for-you-on-the-street Los Angeles.

Please harken back with me to 1985 (were all of your born by then? If not, please do not let the rest of us know) when I spent nine fun filled weeks in Israel. What a fabulous trip for a teenager like me. I met some of the most special people in my life on that trip (you know who you are if you're reading this blog) and I do believe that it changed the course of my life, not from a religious point of view, but the road my life was on. If I hadn't gone on that trip, I wouldn't have met a very wonderful person that I became very good friends with and whom I dated and then ultimately stopped dating only to lead me to Aha - the most fabulous husband on the face of the earth. I also met some women that have remained in my life and I couldn't imagine going one day without. So, there you have it, sometimes your Mother is right, you should go on the trip.

At any rate, when we'd walk around all the towns we visited I guess it became very apparent that we didn't hail from the Holy Land. Pretty much every conversation went something like this:

Stranger: Where are you from?
Me and my friends: The US
S: Really? Where?
M: California
S: Where in California?
M: Los Angeles
S: Oh, I have family/friends/an old boss/a former pet owner there. I wonder if you know him/her?
M: Um, well,'s...
S: His/her name is {Insert very generic names here that end in -witz, -stein, -berg etc.}

Now, a quick break in the action. Please to imagine the look on my face when I heard that (I have always been more snarky [in a good way] off the cuff than my friends). Knowing me, you are thinking to yourself, "Self, I know exactly what she said." Right!!!

M: YES!!! I do!!!! There are only about 1,000 people with that name in my town ALONE! I'm sure yours is one of them.

S: (not exactly getting the joke and wondering if I do know their person says): How far from Hollywood do you live?
M: About miles - 10 minutes with no traffic.

Now Israeli people know their traffic. It's one of the few places that I found they really knew what that meant.

S: Wow!!!! Do you see a lot of stars?
M: Not really.
S: Really??? Don't they all live there?

Here is where we get to what I saw today. I saw two young women (and I use both of those terms very loosely) who think they're someone to be seen.

About 5'7" - 5'10" with their 3" cork healed shoes on, 110 pounds (soaking wet), long hair "gathered" into a hairstyle that is supposed to look "thrown together" but probably took them over an hour, short shorts.

Now let's examine the short shorts - remember in the shoe post where I was shown the denim skirt that barely covered my under-the-neath parts? O.K. their shorts weren't much longer. These shorts, if they were any shorter, would have made the brunette and I much better friends than we are now (which is not at all).

Ladies - your mother was right about this also - if you have to pull it down (or up) because you think it's exposing you - IT IS!!!! Therefore, you shouldn't wear it. Suffice it to say, I almost asked for their mother's phone numbers so I could call an discuss this display.

But I digress and it gets better.

One of them looked a lot like Alyssa Milano in her "My Cousin Vinny" days. (NB: I am aware that I screwed up the actresses - Alyssa Milano was not in My Cousin Vinny - but Marisa Tomei was and for the rest of this blog - that is who I'm referring to) Not as the character, but what she looked like when she won the Oscar for it. Pretty - but um....

So, they are sitting at Starbucks in front of me with their teensy weensy itty bitty (think Rosanne Rosannadanna voice) shorts and either sleeveless or off one shoulder shirts; BIG jewelry; big silver hoops in their ears along with big sparkly watches. The Alyssa Milano one had a necklace that said "Kitson" on it. For those of you out of the area, and who don't make People Magazine one of your primary sources of news, Kitson is a very expensive place to shop. I won't pass any judgements (very overdone) on the type of clothes there (exposed) but let's just say that those "It" girls (Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton) tend to be seen wearing their wears (too flashy for me).

They seemed to be debating their next move - tenuously eating their 1,000 calorie sandwiches with their teeny tiny itsy bitsy fingers and teeny tiny itsy bitsy bites.

Now during all this time, all the patrons of the Starbucks are looking at them, thinking, "I wonder if they're someone?". Just like my friendly Israeli peeps who thought that every day I was at home, I had the great fortune to high five Michael Jackson, share a bus ride with Barbra Streisand, eat McDonald's with Julie Andrews (if you don't know who Julie Andrews is - SHAME ON YOU and go directly to your DVD player and watch Mary Poppins) and see Seth Green in the local market (o.k. that one actually happened Sunday).

But they weren't and while I really don't begrudge anyone their day in the sun - who knows, maybe they dressed up to go out just for today and they're really from Kansas (sooooo doubtful, but one can hope), they give us all a bad name. Seriously, they appeared to be dingy, interested in their jewelry and their looks only. I hope I'm wrong and one of them is really a Fulbright Scholar. Why do they ruin it for us? Because I go somewhere out of LA and when people hear I live there, they think of twinke dee and twinkle dum and wonder how I am allowed to live there (in my Revlon Run/Walk baseball hat, MS Walk sweatshirt, hardly any make up and cotton pants with not so very clean Keds); I just know it.

But the thing that burns my hide more than anything? More than the jewelry, more than the fancy (albeit teeny tiny) clothes, the shopping bags from expensive stores in the mall next to where I am loaded with more expensive stuff (that I don't want anyway)?

They left their trash on the table at the Starbucks.

So please, don't lump me in with that group of peeps. I clean up my trash.

Not living, but recreating the dream

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Auntie Em, it's a twister! It's a twister!

I was very fortunate to get to do something yesterday that not many people get to do in this whole world! I'm pretty sure I know why I got "the call" but was surprised nonetheless.

I was invited to, and jumped at the chance, to have lunch with a very special group of women. These women are truly amazing and getting to be in their presence really made me realize (not like I've been unclear about this ever in my life) what wonderful people there are out there and through the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon (wow! there I go again with him!) I'm attached to many of them.

These women have lived lives where they balanced a career with their families (and all their kids and grandkids turned out pretty fab) and showed me (in later life for sure) that it's not all wine and roses. They all dealt with "stuff" in their lives that was thrown at them. As one of their husband's said, "Life never goes as you plan it" (I'm aware that he probably didn't write that on his own, but you know I give props to these peeps).

Who are these women? They are my fabulous Aunts of course! I have three Aunties on my Mother's side and they are superb! I, myself, am the rockin' Auntie (I come with references if you'd like) and I must have learned that from them.

They are so terrific and I got an invite to a lunch on the beach that they were having. What a total treat for me! I felt super special and was very honored to be invited. Here are some things that make them fabulous (check this list, how do your Aunties stack up?):

1. They're all sisters - no matter who or how many "married in" they are all sisters. I love that.
2. They are supportive of each other - unconditionally - that's critical
3. They love me (I mean really, how far down did you think I was going to put that?)
4. They love hearing about my successes and love me even during my failures (of which there are MANY).
5. One lives out of state and I practically have my own key to her house (not actually, but the relationship is like that)
6. All three of them are available to listen to me and for me to bounce ideas and thoughts off of them and their experience.
7. I look like them (we don't have a gene pool, we have a gene petri dish) and that is sooooo cool!
8. They understand how much I loved their Mom, my Grandmother and how much I miss her, even to this very day (oh, M'Nell, you'd be so proud of your family, sniff).
9. They're all classy and have fun and that's fun to hear about.
10. They all had some pretty crazy youths and I love hearing about them. One lived in the Haight during the summer of love and one has a story - something about a fountain and her car in college, but the secret's safe with me. The third says she was a "good girl" but I know there are secrets hiding in there somewhere....; )

Being an Auntie my own self (to relatives and to our friend's kids as well) is one of the great joys of my life. Some of the nieces and nephews are our friend's kids and some of them are related to me either by marriage or from my brother and sister (some are kids of my cousins, but "first cousin once removed" is so complicated, so Auntie Dena works). There are two that look like me and I tell you, that's the best!!! Not having had children, the first time I saw that LB's oldest looked like me, I screamed a little and a HUGE smile came over my face. Awesome.

So that's it. My family rocks and I hope yours rocks HALF as much as mine does. Also, I hope you have Aunties like me and mine. If you do, that makes you very very lucky. If you don't, I'm available. You can't have mine though.

Why darling, I'm your Auntie Mame!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I never thought I'd have to give advice to protestors. Seriously, I am prepared to give advice to almost everyone - really, I'm not at a loss for an opinion. But I never predicted that I'd need to help out a group of protestors here in Los Angeles in front of the Federal Building this morning.

O.K. Pay attention, for here are some tips to effective protesting:

1. Make it really clear what you're protesting about. I mean, this feels like it should be obvious, but not for these folks. Not only could I not hear them a mile away (I drive a convertible, so there is no excuse for my not hearing them) BUT once I got close and drove through the protestors I had no idea what they were protesting. I saw one sign that said "Education". Turns out it was an immigration protest. So not clear, and so lame that it wasn't clear.

2. Get a permit. Seriously, you only annoy everyone around you. More importantly, you seriously annoy the police. I don't know about you, but I can't see any upside to irritating the police.

3. Don't put your KIDS next to where the cars drive. Really? Really? One false move and someone who is not disagreeing (or agreeing - see #1) might run them over. How is this helpful?

4. See #1 - this can not be emphasized enough.

I am a full supporter of our first amendment ("I hate Illinois Nazis" - Blues Brothers) but how was this productive? They were standing in the middle of the street. Who planned this???? One of the kids standing in the middle of the street?!? Seriously.

Also, speaking of productive. It didn't make the 5, 5:30 or 6 PM newscasts, so really how much of an impact could it have been?

Dreeeeeeaaam, Dream, Dream, Dream....

I'd really give a lot (not sure "eye teeth" a lot, but a lot) to know what the heck goes on in my brain that it delivers the dreams I get. In a post to be posted later (I've started it, but I lost steam in the middle - I guess that's postus-interruptus) I muse about my flying dream (the last one with Byonce' - really) - same dream, same location, same flight.

But these other ones, ugh, with a capital U-G-H!! What is it with the screaming? What is it with the strange locations (you know what that's like; looks like your childhood house, but doesn't exactly?) What is it with Kevin Bacon and you....

Um, sorry about that...didn't mean to share quite that much. : )

I guess I'm one of those people who hold onto all their stress inside their head and upper shoulders (and for someone who is 5'4" I have way more stress than height) and at night it all sneaks into my unconscious.

I don't need to (or care to) watch horror movies, I have a very active and creative imagination, I don't need to see how a filmmaker illustrates a Stephen King novel, I've already made "Carrie" a frightening image - though John Travolta does tempt me; not like Kevin Bacon, oh drat, I did it again!!!

Do our dreams mean anything? Do they predict the future? I simultaneously think, no way, and I hope so (In most cases I hope not, and in a few cases, I hope so).

There's no insight in this muse...just the thoughts of a post "holly-cow-what-the-heck-was-he (not Kevin Bacon...oh dang it!)-doing-in-my-dream".

Big day today for me. Send the good vibes. I feel a recipe/food post coming later.

Happy Birthday Trip Partner,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paul Simon had something with Kodachrome.

I found myself alone with some extra time at my house of growing up yesterday and subsequently found myself looking for a document (my immunization records - more later on that) that I am CERTAIN is as that house. Mom couldn't find it, but that doesn't mean it's not hiding in a crevasse somewhere taunting me.

What brought me to that house alone with time on my hands ("too much time on my hands........too much time on my hands.....") was a favor I was doing for the parental units - something having to do with a stovetop. However, if I tell you, you'll have to a) become a member of this family for which there are no current openings; leading to removing one of the members in existence, which is simply out of the question or; b) go missing for a very very long time in which you'll have to get into a very uncomfortable position for, well, frankly, forever.

But back to the house. So, when the individual handling the stovetop issue left (e.g. the repair dude) I thought that I'd just look on my own. I went to the place it SHOULD BE, my baby book.


What's a baby book? Surely you jest ("I don't and don't call me Shirley" - Airplane - if you haven't seen it, you have violated the law of things you must do and you must go see it now.)? My baby book is pretty much everything about me from the minute I was born ("They named her Dena Rena? Really?" - anonymous relative comment when they read their house keeper's rendition of what I really was named...which will not be discussed - Dena is fine, or DenaRena, whichever you prefer.) until, well, about the time I was 4 or 5. What I ate (evidently, didn't like fruit at all at the beginning - didn't like sour cream - still don't), my illnesses (I noted that I had regular people colds, but one evidently was "annoying", hmmmm), when I walked, talked, etc.

They stopped around 4 or 5 because, when I was almost 3, my little brother (LB) was born. Poor guy - as it turns out, he got every single cold I brought home from pre-school which all turned into ear infections. Talk about annoying. I bet those parents were longing for my colds when LB was upset about his ears hurting.

While looking for my immunization records, I found myself looking through cabinets, drawers (no worries parents, no real snooping occurred), closets (no, parents, I didn't take home my wedding dress yet), and book cases.

While I never found my immunization records (d-r-a-t-!) I did find many many many envelopes, boxes, files, and drawers filled with pictures. Hundreds of pictures - many not in albums. I found a duplicate ("it's a duplicate", "yes, I know, a duplicate" - A Night at the Opera - Marx Brothers movie - maybe the best in existence) of my parents wedding album. This is evidently what happens, your parents pass on into the great beyond and what is to happen to their copy of your wedding album? YOU GET IT! Hoped you like the day - now you have two sets of all the same pictures. Spectacular.

I found pictures from as early as the thirties up through the last two years.

Here's my quandary - do I go through all these photos now, figure out where they go or wait until I'm forced to go through them all the while being upset that I've been left without parents? will be my job sometime.

But give this some thought, what do I do with these photos? These memories of family from the past? These family members that this generation won't even have known?

Here's what I can't do.

Throw them out.

Isn't that illegal? Can I be left to rot in jail because I let my family slip through my fingers into my trash can? Only to be carted off by a very stinky garbage truck and then dumped into a landfill where it will take eons to decompose and then it will be my fault that the ecosystem is filled with Kodachrome?

I can't handle it.

Good thing I don't have to ultimately worry about it for a long long time.

Oy, I'm already worried about an event that won't take place for hopefully three decades.

And, yes, I thought about this for hours yesterday - so much so that the thought went all the way into today.

Hmmmm, this topic will resurface in June, in Minneapolis as well. Sorry, folks, it's an invite only event and you have to be in the club "I married a, or am offspring of a (insert my mother's maiden name here)" club.

But don't worry, there will be much to talk about after that reunion, I tell you.

Don't get caught by a red light camera; very expensive,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ooooohhhh my head!

So, I've been dying to post since Friday at 2:45 AM when I began one of the most incredible experiences of my life. But my head is still spinning with that experience as well as stuff and junk that I think about when I'm at the beach.

I'm on it...really hang in there.

and that's the truth, ruth,

Ragnar was a Viking...Does that make me a Viking-ette? Part I

Over Easter weekend while I was minding my own business singing at the top of my lungs along interstate 10 heading east to Phoenix, I got an email from my roommate from college (CR). "we may need a runner for the ragnar relay April 23-24th. Are you interested? It is a challenging run..."

What's important to know about my old roommate is that I think she is, by far, one of the best humans I've ever known. She and I have both struggled with what turned out to be our lives and have both come out the other side having learned what we're made of. She is kind - so very kind and someone who I think of as a role model for me. So when she called and said, "we may need a runner..." without knowing anything about it, I said yes. I could have just agreed to run up Mount Rushmore, but if she asked me to do it, I would.

So, now, I'm committed to run in this relay race. I spend the weekend asking her questions she has no answers to. She sent me the Ragnar web site for the race and I go check it out. The first thing I see is:

Run, Drive Eat. Sleep (?) Repeat.

Um, o.k.

Then I start to look at the route - almost 200 miles from Ventura (the city not the Blvd.) to Dana Point.

Let me see if I am understanding how this will work. A 12-member team will run 3 legs each (of which I would be #1!!) from Ventura to Dana Point beginning at a time to be named later (very early in the AM) and there will be approximately 12 hours between my first and second runs? Then there will be ten hours between my second and third runs? But in those time frames, I will be with my team mates where we will: a) cheer each other on; b) nap (more later on the napping); c) eat (well and not so well); and d) make our way to Dana Point?

Uh, yeah CR - no prob - I'm in.

Oh yeah - my legs are 8 miles, 8 miles and 3 miles - 19 miles in 24 hours.

O.K. sign me up.

This turned out to be one of the most wonderful events of my life. Truly. It's up there with:

* Getting my MA (a feat unto itself)
* My wedding day (currently the best day ever in my life)
* Finishing the Pacific Half Marathon

So it was amazing. Why was it amazing? It was amazing because, well I'm not sure to tell you the truth. I met 10 new people who really are good humans. In the 40 hours our car of 6 women were together, there was not one whine, not one complaint, not one sarcastic turned nose. I really liked that. There was good karma everywhere. I dug that the most (Pulp thought I forgot about the movie lines).

We ranged in age in our car from 23 (I sooooo want to be this young woman [YW] when I grow up) to 50 (I also want to be this woman when I grow up and that's more likely, I'll call her Coach). Everyone came with their own stories, their own experiences and their own lives. It was so cool to get to know them.

Now, I don't want you worrying...I am still snark-o-matic, but I don't remember one moment (even where I was sleeping - o.k. napping - in CR's car for 2 hours at 3 AM after eating a triple bacon lettuce & tomato sandwich an hour earlier - yeah, that was good judgement) where I was whiney or complain-y. I loved that about me.

But let's back up (I really need a new phrase)...I woke up at 2:45 AM on Friday. Let me tell you, you feel really old when you're waking up and driving somewhere to be productive at the time you used to be coming home after a long night of no real production...but lots of debauchery - whatever your definition of that is).

O.K. I do have one complaint about the event.


I finally need one and where is it? NO WHERE TO BE FOUND!

That's it.

I know I could have stopped at the Sev (7-11), but really, I do have my standards.

Got to CR's house at 4 AM where we loaded up and headed north to Ventura.

To me, Ventura is a place you drive through en route to somewhere else. Say, Los Olivos, or Santa Barbara, or Northern California the long way or Cambria. Not somewhere you stop to run in the dark.

But we made it - and I made it to the start line with about 2 minutes to spare (a long story about franticly getting me ready with the proper reflective equipment)

Yep, that's me - ready to rock and roll the first leg of Ragnar 2010. I am certainly "reflective" as my sister in law (SIL) said. I was the lucky runner that got to run with all the safety equipment

What you can't see is the red butt light that I have clipped to my pants - it gave me the opportunity to say "Switch me on" (Ghostbusters). Now how often in life do you get to do that? Not many I tell you.

And we're off....I meet a woman named Sarah (she'll probably never read this and I don't even know her last name) and she and I ran the whole 8 miles together. It was great...Not only was it great to have someone with me who knew the area (I would have gotten lost for sure - not fabulous signage Ragnar peeps!) but who also ran my pace and could talk while running our 10 minute mile pace!

The one request I made before I ran my first leg, was after my first run, could we go directly to Starbucks. My team said, sure....we went, I coffeed, I saw CR run by the Starbucks and we headed off to meet her at the end of her run.

When we made it to the end of my 8 miles and I handed the slap bracelet off to CR, I felt a real sense of accomplishment and that's when I knew this was going to be awesome.

This Ragnar debrief is going to be super long. So I'll stop here and pick it up soon.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chuck is the accessory.

Today was a really cool day. To begin, I went out to run and it began to rain on me. So, I walked back into the house changed out of my running clothes, showered and looked out the window to find it...

not raining.

Nothing. No drops no extra water on the chairs in the garden.

So, I felt kinda stupid for not hanging out for a bit outside before giving up. Ah well - there's always Wednesday. Only, the gym.

But that meant that Aha and I got to spend the day together. We went out and did what we love to do; hang out at the mall.

Not like I did with a friend from my childhood (who by the way, continues to be my friend to this very day, but we hang out at the mall much much less and not for the same reasons) - where finding new boys was the chief objective of the mall (oddly enough, Converse High Tops played a role then too).

Aha and I like to window shop and hold hands. We're kinda pathetic. We're 30 years early for the old people shuffling through the mall, but we love it.

We had lunch at Ruby's - yummie - burgers (he with no bun and in a salad - me with a bun and fries.

Then we headed over to the mall next door (yep - that's LA for you malls next door to malls. Love it.) to wander.

We had some Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, wandered a bit and found ourselves heading for Nordstrom's. As it turns out, I forgot that I had a $75 gift card from a recent birthday (and by recent, I think I mean 2 years in July) and what a great time to get a gift for myself!

Note: I'm not particularly fond of clothes shopping. Particularly when I'm not employed on a full time basis (as I am now). It's not that I don't look good in clothes, I do (now), but I really cringe at the thought of spending $60 on a MINI skirt made of COTTON (albeit pretty) but still COTTON and thin cotton to boot. I am what I fondly refer to as a kamikaze shopper. I get in, I get what I need and I get out - no one gets hurt and I get what I need.

So here we are wandering about the mall and we find ourselves in Nordstrom's and more specifically, in the Junior's department.

Another note: I lost quite a bit of weight in the last 18 months and have kept it off. I am pretty happy about this (I did it well - very healthy) and getting to shop in the Jr. section (formally known as Brass Plum for those in the over 40 sect) still gives me a kick.

So, there we are...wandering about a section where things are sooooo teeny tiny...soooo gathered and so short! We merge into the shoe section and find the absolutely most fabulous shoes.

Yet another note. When I was 15, I got my first pair of Chuck Taylor's - Converse High Tops and they were RED! I loved them. I took them to Israel when I was 16. When I was 18 I wore my red Chucks to my first(ish) breakfast as a freshman in college. This was a very expensive private college and suffice it to say, I was at the poverty end of the cash-ola scale. So, everyone looked wonderful at breakfast, all made up, dressed well and coiffed to the hilt.

I showed up in jeans, a sweatshirt, probably a baseball hat and my red Chucks.

I made a friend that day in 1986. She and I are friends to this day. We attended each other's weddings - FB brought us back together - still close and I love her dearly. She knows me in a way no one else does. She was around for a lot of "firsts" and downsides. We've started to help each other with issues that arise as an adult ways now, but it's the same us with new issues. Love her. And best of all? I know she loves me too. Kewl.

Anyway...I'm a Chuck Taylor fan from way back. The problem is that Converse High Tops have zero redeeming value with the exception of how they look. So when I saw these Chucks - I about fell over.

They screamed, "try me on! come on, you know you want to!!" I looked at them and thought, "wow, those are cool". Having that gift card helped the process along because they cost far less than Aha and I thought they would. So I played the I'll-try-it-on-if.... game:

I'll try it on if:
* they have my size (always the first)
* I can come up with something to wear it with

You then move to the flow chart of shopping:

I'll try it on if they have my size ==> I'll walk around in them to see if they feel 0k (I'm a runner and shoe comfort is KEY) ==> Now I need something to wear with them.

Here is where it gets interesting.

I have the shoes on (which took an act of teamwork and a lot of loosening of laces (there are zippers along the back), patience and a shoe horn and now decide I am going to walk over to the Junior department (nee: Brass Plum) and see if I can find something to wear with them. I'm thinking long shorts and/or a denim shirt.

I walk over to the cash registers - wearing the shoes with my jeans folded up to my knees so see the shoes - and wait my turn. But what happens is that when a 40-something stands there wearing x-tra high top Converse is that a hush falls over the area. Young women in line with their moms turn and stare without staring and then look away and kibbutz with each other.

And don't tell me that's not true - my mom and I wrote the book on the "look and kibbutz!"

So I'm standing there, waiting patiently, and a lovely young woman, Tia, looks over and says with a ton of energy (as I would have), "I have been looking at getting those! Aren't they great?"
"Yep," I said, "I love Chucks, but I need help from you finding something to wear with them". "O.K." she says and we're off.

"I'm thinking skinny jeans..." she says.
"I was thinking of maybe shorts or a denim skirt." I say.
"O.K, I have a denim skirt right over here" she says.

So, we head over to denim skirt land. Now, I'm thinking a denim shirt comes to just above my knee or a little shorter. She had a definition that was decidedly different. She showed me a denim skirt that was 6" from the top of the skirt to the bottom.

"Oh, um, o.k." I said. How about some shorts?
We turn around and find "long" shorts:

"Um, o.k." I said and off to the dressing room I go.


Never even bothered with the skirt. I mean...please.

Tried the shorts - here's the issue - the issue was 4" of my skin between where the shorts stopped and the shoes began. I looked bizarre.

"Hmmm...what do you think?" I asked Tia.
"Um....hmmmm. I don't know" she said.
"Oh I know what you do here" her partner in crime said. "You wear really tall socks and it covers the space."
"Yeah, no. I'll look like I belong in a Dr. Seuess story" I said.
"How about skinny jeans?" Tia said. "I can really see skinny jeans with that."
"O.K." I said. and Tia bounces off to get my 'skinny jeans'.

For those of you 40+ you will recognize 'skinny jeans' as those jeans where one of three things has occurred:

1. Your Mom spent serious coin and bought you Guess? jeans that zipped at the bottom and made them 'skinny' around the bottom of your leg. (I sooooo wanted these. I prayed my cousin got them because I got her hand-me-downs. I didn't care what was in style when I got her was going to be perfect.)
2. You folded the bottom of your jean over tight against your calf and used safety pins to secure them thus creating the 'skinny' look.
3. No safety pins, you pulled them 'skinny' and you folded them into themselves that way. (Least effective in my opinion - the fold could come out and that would annoy me all day.

Well, these skinny jeans are sure skinny - all over. I got into the jeans in a size in regular people that I wear. My legs lost their blood flow pretty quickly, but the waist was o.k. So, I tried on the next size up. Too big a waist, but legs better.

So, what was I able to do? I bought a pair of shoes that Aha says look good and I don't look stupid wearing them. I got a new pair of pants that came from THE JUNIOR SECTION! Best of all, I got to wear them to girl's night and show my friends.

Me and my skinny jeans - I guess Tia was right when she said nothing should compete with the shoes - the shoes are the accessory. I think that's advice for life. The Chuck Taylor's are the accessory.

Ladies & Gentlemen take my advice; pull down your pants and slide on the ice,

Monday, April 19, 2010

MS is a drag - part 1

So, I told you that there would be multiple posts about how much MS sucks. Here's the first.

But first, a trip in the way back machine (du-da-da-du, du-da-da-du - Mike Myers in Wayne's World).

Almost nine years ago, Aha started to have problems with his back. First it was just sore, everyone gets that. Then it was tougher to move. So he went to the family chiropractor (RIP Dr. Cynthia Izen :( ) who worked with him for a while. It was good, better and bad then better then bad, then worse then good, then better, then bad - his arms hurt, then they didn't, then they did with his back hurting then it was just his back, then it was his legs, then it was arms and legs - well you get the picture. A year later and many doctors diagnosis (which were all wrong, by the way - everything from carpel tunnel to foot issues, to everything on the earth!)

So now we're in 2001 - and Dr. I suggests that Aha go see Dr. Freundlich (seriously, that's his name - so fabulous, right?) because he "will not let you out of his office until he diagnosis' you." So, then night before his first appointment with Heir Freundlich (actually, a great guy and not first generation, but that name...right?) and we're pretty exhausted (ohhh if we only knew how exhausted we were GOING to be) and Aha's entire left side goes numb.

Wow, that can't be good at all. Not at all.

Turns out, hey, lookee that! It's not good at all!!!

Aha goes in for x-rays etc and a couple of weeks (days? hours? weeks? can't remember) later Aha calls me at my office (wow, this was the first of 10 afternoon phone calls that I would have rather never ever had in my life - the first one coming later that week - more on that later) to tell me that he has, "...the beginnings of MS".

Um, the what?

Beginnings of MS? What the hell does that mean?

Can we head it off at the pass? Can we turn it into the "ending"? What? with clearer (sort of) heads, no one has the beginnings, they either do or do not have MS.

So, the next four years are filled with good days (few), bad days (many) and a roller coaster of emotions such as: fear (loads of that), sadness (loads of that too), annoyance, rage (a lot of that), missing (there continues to be tons of that) and a lot of nothing.

You might wonder what happened in those four years. Suffice it to say, at the end of them Aha went on permanent disability and I became the sole wage earner in the house. Swell, fabulous, wonderful and all around yeah.

So, yeah for are finally through the first installment of MS is a drag. Not impressed? Not happy? Wondering where the laughs are? HA! MS is a laugh riot ("...a laugh riot" History of the World Part I) and the chuckles keep on coming.

But know this, when Aha has his good days (or hours) which are few and far between, he is the best, most fabulous husband in the whole world.

Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others,

Addendum to post - to be clear - I have glazed over Aha and his MS for brevity (I know, you're thinking - that was abbreviated? Trust me) But to be very clear - Aha's up and down time is completely random. He's more down than up, but takes advantage when his up time presents itself. Also, MS is sooooooo fabulous in that he looks great - all of the time. He could be in grave pain (a lot) and look like he feels fine. In no way do I want to make it sound light or better than it is. MS does suck and he is a trooper to deal with it every day.

I've got change for a quarter, but not change for you.

I am so clearly an early adopter - as you can plainly see from my starting a blog decades after they were popular. This isn't new to me. I tend to like certain fashions a year or so after they were 'popular'. This makes me not a bandwagon jumper oner, but someone who is so late to the party that they're setting up for the next weeks party. Which is good for me because then I can help set up and play it off like I was in time, or early, for that one.

I used to be sooooooo punctual. I'm not now and I think it really irritates some people who shall not be named but you know who you are and I'm sorry - really, but given the state of the state of my state, I feel lucky to get "there" at all.

Back to early adoption. Early adoption is a fancy way of saying: "I made this change earlier than you which clearly means I deal with change better than you".

Sorry early mr./ms. adopter pants - all it means is that you get even more distracted by shiny things (Squirrel!!!) than I do.

There are things, however, for which I am not thrilled about being an adopter at all:

* Twitter
I'm sorry (really not so much) - I love me some FB, but I think that following Kevin Bacon's every move - unless he's leaving his wife and coming for me - is a little much. My peeps on FB seem to like seeing where I've been and am/are going (they tell my mom and dad about it - my dad rolls his eyes, I L O V E it!) but I can't fathom knowing every time someone leaves the market or goes in. I recognize that I am not the demographic for the marketing (Come one come all to the fifteen minute sale at Bullock's!!! - ha! don't know what Bullock's is? Young whipper snapper!) and I wish Twitter and its followers (does that make them twitties? Wow - that can't be good) a long long love life and happiness.

* Getting rid of your land line
For those of you who remember dial phones - especially the red ones that hung on your wall and made that "rrrrriiiinnnnggg" sound when someone called, having to tell Ma Bell that you needed to have the push button feature added to your phone so you could advance to push button phones (which made calling in to radio stations to win the prize much much easier) and taking the phone down the hall into a room to make a private call to your FOTM (flirt of the moment - that will take many blogs to cover) I salute you!!!!! (that was the longest sentence EVER - my editors (peeps who have edited me) would plotz.

Parting with my land line is like my grandmother (M'nell) parting with her vinyl-on-the-top-cottonie-on-the-bottom table cloth or me parting with my Kitchen Aid, or my Cuisinart, or my Kenmore french door-freezer-on-the-bottom refrigerator, or my coffee pot - uh oh, I seem to have issues (SURPRISE, SURPRISE SURPRISE!!!!).

* GPS running watch
I know two people who have this and love it. I will say I felt better running with my LB (little brother) in a foreign land when he had his, but really? Run out - run back. Ta da!!!

But what does being an early adopter pants really mean? It means you orchestrated that change and made it.

And that means I say to that:

Yeah for you.

But know this...I will find a reason to laugh at your early adoptingness and then quietly, oh so quietly, adopt it in 10 years or so and tell everyone what a great thing I did.

That's what's going on around the country, here's what's happening in your neck of the woods,