Monday, April 11, 2016

Post Spring Break Blahs

The biggest First World problem ever seems to be coming back from a week in Hawaii and complaining about returning to an overcast April day in Southern California.  I saw the ocean today on my morning post office run and whereas it usually makes me happy, today I kind of sneered at it's  dark gray-blue waves and cloudy sky.  I hadn't had my coffee yet and didn't think to wear socks.  I'm much more agreeable now.  Actually, honestly, I'm glad to be back at home and back at work.  Coffee and socks helped.

However, if I'm going to be honest & spill my guts on here, I have to say that I do have some heaviness weighing on me.  Remember how I wrote after the girls had their last call back at OCSA?  Well, after a week of franticly checking our phones for THE E-MAIL all last week (which I refuse to complain about because we were checking it in Hawaii) the word from up high came down.  One girl was accepted to her first choice conservatory and the other.....waitlisted on hers.  I never really thought much about that combination.  I thought about one yes, one no, no across the board, and the holy grail of Yes! Yes! many times, but not the eventuality of one yes and one maybe.  And this has sent the household in mad chaos.  

How do you properly congratulate and beam pride over one child, when her sister is sitting there heartbroken?  And how do you rule out the move and one child's dream, when you could be told in a couple months that it's all still possible?  We can't start looking for houses and yet we can't be totally placated into life as usual.

What we do is hope our asses off, keep saying yes to all schools involved, and just wait -- checking our phones constantly for emails of some news over the next 4 months.  Because by god, if this can work, we'll make it work.  

And yes, while we are super supportive of our daughters artistic dreams, there is this other piece of the puzzle I've yet to lay on the table.  My mom has cancer and as much as my kids want to go to OCSA, I need to go back to Orange County to care for my mom.  Though, we can't just drop our lives here to go there for that reason...she would never allow it.  And we don't have a time frame.  All the pieces need to fit.  

Yes, it sucks.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

So, I left Happy Valley & apparently left my blog as well.

So, the blogging thing didn't really work out for me.  I guess I was too busy being snarky on Facebook because that takes like zero effort. And TBH, it was kind of exhausting even trying to write about the hilarity of Happy Valley and stay anonymous -- which is why I'm much funnier IRL or at least being sort of IRL with my RL friends on the Faceplace.  I also don't really want to be mean, so you know, there's not a lot to write about in a theme-y blog.

However, as so much has changed and I know people don't really read blogs, I've decided to just kind of write on this one.  Truth?  I can't find my journal and sometimes I just want to write. Even more truth? Since LiveJournal days, I've found that it's not as gratifying writing in my journal knowing no one else is going to read it.  If I write something funny and no one reads it, am I even really funny at all? (If they read it & don't find it funny though, I'm still funny, they just don't get it).

Since I last wrote many years ago, I have escaped Happy Valley. Remember  how I said I wanted to leave....well I did it! When the kids graduated from 6th grade, we were able to be set free.  We moved a couple freeway exits from the Happy Valley to Solana Beach.  No name for a cutesy name here, like I said the anonymity is too much work.  It's Solana Beach and it's lovely.  It's basically kick-back coastal people with a handful of cranky olds.  We love Solana Beach so much, but right now I'm actually up in Orange County because one of the girls had a callback audition at OCSA and if both girls get in, we will be moving back here.  Yes, back here. I'm from here. This is the Happy Valley-type place I originally ran from in the early 90's.  This is why I had such a hard time in Happy Valley because it was so much like Orange County.  But, this is what we do for our kids.

Though this is by no means a done deal.  From what I'm told OCSA (Orange County School of the Art) has a 7-14% acceptance rate and that it's not as easy coming in as a 9th grade versus a 7th grader.  Had we known this was an option in 7th grade, however, I don't know if I would have been able to make this agreement to move here.  There's now backstory of the family variety in play and it's time to adult in a whole new way.  We won't know anything until early April, so I just sit on this -- which makes it all very not exciting for a blog.  Actually, none of this is exciting.  Apologies.

I will, however, attempt to write about my new reality more frequently in the future.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Mermaids of Happy Valley


My inner thighs are killing me from…wait for it…water aerobics (though they now try to get all fancy & call it “Hydro Aerobics” --- pffffft!)   Yes, that’s right, I’ve been getting down with all the grammas in the pool.   I bet you thought I’d try to spin it and mention the 5 other ladies in the class who don’t qualify for the Senior Discount, but I’m not going to go there.   I’m calling it like it is because those 5 others in my approximate age group are flakey and don’t always show up anyway.  And when we are all in the pool we don’t really make eye contact, let alone talk.  We’re are there to work out, dammit!  We are there because 9 AM Spin class was booked and we need to burn last night’s carbs.  Or maybe we are slightly embarrassed so we avoid, avoid, avoid.  Maybe a bit of both. 

So, why H2O Aerobics?  The long story has something to do with a twisted ankle on the tennis court & a really hot morning in June when I intended to swim laps and then realized that laps are tedious business.  If I have to think about exercising while I'm exercising because that I'm not being distracted enough, then I'm going to quit early & call it a day.  The PAC has a spa, a boutique, and a cafĂ© with free wifi and coffee, so I wouldn’t be the first person to fitter away my get fit-time .  The short story is that I tried it because I was already wet.  

You know how when are in Zumba amongst dancers with skinny arms, grace, and natural rhythm,  you feel like an inebriated troll in frumpy capris & clown shoes?  It's a drag.  In contrast, when you take a class in the pool where your unsightly bits are underwater and you are the youngest and possibly the most athletic of the lot, you feel fanfuckingtastic.  I’m no scientist, but I’ve got to say having a cocky attitude burns more fat.  

Being a star mermaid in Water Aerobics class comes with a little bit of baggage.  Like the old ladies who stare me down because I use the Conquistador hat-looking water resistant basket/claw things even before the instructor calls for them.  Or the forever horrific mental image of an obese 70 year old’s nip slip out the bottom of her one-piece as she hoists herself onto a floatation device.  But I deal because these classes have been doing some serious toning.  Viva la water resistance!     

A secondary benefit is the eavesdropping, because quite honestly those old ladies are treading their mouths more than anything else. They opine on and on in a liquid living room while wearing ginormous chlorine-stained floppy hats and oversized designer sunglasses.   Out of their shadowed mouths comes: bitch, brag, moan, blah, blah, blah.   Our instructor doesn’t give a shit because she’s getting paid for the hour, not by the calorie burned.  Half the time she teaches from OUTSIDE the pool.  Esther (an old lady, if the name didn’t give it away) was kvetching on about her son’s wedding last weekend so loudly that our instructor had to get into the water so we could hear her.  She was PISSED.  

Oh, btw – I’m just making up names more or less because it’s not like I actually know any of their real names, even though we’ve shared our watery workout space for nearly 4 months.  They’ve probably told me, this is my fault.  I’ve given them all nicknames anyway.  It’s easier that way.  
The make up of the class is primarily retired teachers, a semi-retired librarian, and a handful of women avoiding their retired husbands.   They all go to happy hour together and once a month take in a play downtown.   After class they sit together on the lounge chairs, trading books & waiting for the lunch time waiter service to start so they can order a glass of wine.   Truthfully, this is a pretty good set up and when I learn to be so bitter with life that I actually revel in the sour complaints of others too, I’m ready to join that social circle. 

Not everyone is welcome though.  The ancient mermaid clique shuns the sleeker watercizers.   They never try to pull the tall Asian lady with the huge fake boobies who wears the widest brimmed hat in the class into conversation.  But I think the biggest social snubs are saved for Susan.  She’s in her early 60’s with extensive plastic surgery so she looks about 70 trying to pass for 40.  Her body is smoking hot and for that I’m jealous, but the lips and the permanent appearance of wax, wind, shock and surprise is breathtaking, in the bad way.   I know all about Susan because last class during our cool down stretching the conversation turned to boob jobs.  Susan listed all her work (well, maybe not all of it, does anyone ever truly offer it all up) and compared doctors with Ellen, a woman in her later 50’s who has had 4 body lifts and 2 face lifts because she lost so much weight after gastric bypass that she turned into a Shar Pei.  She’s since gained a lot of the weight back and wants another face lift.  It’s surreal to discuss this in the pool with strangers who will pull and grab at their body parts as they describe what should be corrected next.  Now that I think about it, I’m starting to understand why these gals aren’t getting invited on theatre field trips.

And so, friends, that’s what happens in the pool during water aerobics.  I do lots of thigh work and get freaked knowing I will probably age into one of these women in the pool.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why yes, it has been a while.


I’m not promising a long-term commitment or anything, but a friend asked me the other day if I would start bitching on my blog again.  Apparently I amuse at least one person & that’s enough of a fan base for me.  (Of course, it is entirely possible that she just wants me to use this as an outlet so I’ll stop babbling to her in real life).

So, basically school’s back in session and when I’m not writing checks, I’m getting guilted into volunteering for something.   And I’m back to driving The Habitrail all the live long day.  Whereas I was once a mom engaged in conversation with my kidlets as I shuttled them to and fro, I’m now just an unpaid cabbie (in a German luxury SUV, but still).  They either fight with each other or gossip.  In the lower grades there was hilarious talk of the hygienically challenged girl who wiped her butt with a Kleenex during class and in Middle School I’m told there’s talk of boys & mean girls & drugs, but in the elementary upper grade girl world, it’s really just who rolled her eyes at whom.  Nothing gross.  Nothing funny.  Nothing scandalous.  They don’t know how to vocalize their angst yet.  Maybe they don’t have angst. Things are pretty sweet and easy in their world.   The biggest issue is that one know-it-all girl who lies all the time & I’m sick of hearing about her.  So, with no dirt worth hearing and yet I just listen to the drone and drive.  And I think about returning to the working world. 

In the past year and half a lot has changed in the neighborhood.  We’ve had people move. I overextended myself with school volunteerism & was sucked into the inner-sanctum of the PTA.  I assimilated, basically.   Though I did it in a rock star kind of way.  I now have my own stalker (she really wants to be my friend, which means I question her judgment & will never let her be) and my own total crazy pants paranoid scary psycho bitch mom bully.  This keeps me on my toes and full of funny happy hour banter.    

A lot has changed for us as a family too.  Now that I’ve found my niche here in Happy Valley, I’ve also found out that there are other places I'd like just as much.  I want to move.  We definitely will move (I have my neighborhood all picked out), but the question is now or when Staci & Zoe are ready for Middle School.    The Husband is ready for a change too.  It’s a weird time.  I think I want a ranch house.  I think having gone Gluten-free has messed with brain.  I ‘m hanging out the Farmer’s Market and wondering what it would be like to have friends who wear maxi dresses and no make-up and have brown hair. 

Ah, all this for another day.  I need to drive to the dance studio now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Everyone's a little bit racist, so leave John Galliano alone.


This whole John Galliano business has my one pair of  $61-on-sale-Dior panties in a twist.   I’m not denying that some hateful stupid things came out of his mouth nor that he needs Dr. Drew to help him sort out his alcohol issues…but c’mon, there are a lot more people out there in this big bad scary world doing a lot more harm.  Since when does everyone have to be perfect and 100% hatred free?

I'm not Jewish….so maybe I can’t get it.  But, honestly, Galliano could attack me personally or go after my religion or heritage and I’d never run off to mommy and tattle.  I wouldn’t expect him to be fired.   Of course, as an American, I’m living in a culture that thrives on hate.   You get to the point where you expect it.  Politicians thrive on playing on the average American’s racism and homophobia every day.  Nut jobs use religion to veil their misogyny.  Teabaggers belittle the tragedies of Nazism & fascism as they incorrectly name call their opposition.  Fearful hypocrites withhold the rights of others.  I don’t like it, but it’s there… all the time…on an institutional level.   A flamboyant, drunk designer name-calling during arguments…cry me a fucking river.   People are assholes & sometimes hey say stupid, horrendous things when they are fucked-up.   Maybe Galliano is fuckwit sober too, but big deal.  That is his problem.  He said some shit, maybe even hated in his heart, but he didn’t do physical harm.   Maybe the media & twatterverse & Natalie Portman need to listen to Avenue Q’s ditty “Everyone’s a Little Racist” --- because it’s true. 

I like to think that I’m not the least bit racist or anti-Semitic.   I genuinely love people of all flavors.  And when I am hateful and cruel, it’s almost always on a person-by-person basis.  However, I’m not perfect and I’m sure if you bugged my conversations with The Husband, you’d find that I cast a wide net with vicious generalities in jest that I maybe mean just a little.  Do I hate any race or religion though?  Hell no.  I wish no harm, better yet, I wish everyone well…..but Happy Valley Asians you drive like crap and the whole Tiger Mom competitive bullshit is working my last nerve, though if it makes you feel any better, I say way meaner shit about certain white people in the neighborhood.

My other prevailing thought is that both of the instances happened in bars.  Could it be that Galliano’s just a bad alcoholic  & not criminally anti-Semitic.  Others have been shipped to rehab & forgiven for more egregious crimes.  For those who have had an addict in their lives, you probably know that sometimes generally wonderful people will say (& maybe mean) the most horrible shit while in their disease.  Sucks, but it happens.  It doesn’t make them bad people. You learn that it’s only words.  And why do we have to like everyone anyway?  Can’t someone be a creep and still be a creative genius?  Trust me, as the Jill Sobule song tells us, most of our heroes are imperfect.

What this comes down to is that I’m not about to go casting stones because Galliano came off anti-Semitic.  And I think people should stop the labeling because really do a couple alleged instances of drunkenly spewing insults really deserve such a harsh title?   I honestly do care that Jews have historically been given the shitty end of the stick and it is not fair to name-call anyone and that Hitler was pure evil and no one should be singing that bastard's praises, but perhaps those so easily offended need to toughen up, say, “Fuck you, Galliano” & move along.  It sounds to me more like poorly-worded personal bitchy attacks and less of systematic anti-Semitism. I detest the PC wussification as much as the bullying-hateful Religious Right.  Refuckinglax, people. He's a talented fashion designer, not a world leader.  Go get your hate on for Gaddafi or a child molester.  

I walk away from this ready to still buy what Galliano, the artist is selling while having a little bit of empathy but mostly disappointment for the person.  I also walk away sans the desire to live in France with their wacked legal system.  Just when I thought guilty until proven innocent was scary judicious dealings, I’m finding that the lack of freedom of speech is even more terrifying.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mona the Moocher

            When you live in a vacation destination, you expect houseguests.  And usually that’s fine, because I invite them.   I love it when my friends come for visits.  Zoe and Staci share a room so we can have not one, but two guest rooms in our house – that’s how much I love it.   Having visitors means I can be a tourist in my own city, go to the beach mid-week, have Mexican food every day, maybe go to Vegas, and have the adult equivalent of sleep-overs where we drink wine in our PJs, watch those random TiVo suggestions in the queue & catch up until all hours.   But not all guests at Hotel Happy Valley are created equal.  There are those miserable experiences where I have to call the maid to give my home the equivalent of a rape shower as soon as the last suitcase rolls out the foyer.   This time is one of those times.   
            My mom lives about an hour & half north of us in Orange County.  She’s is set up with a mid-century ranch house that features citrus & palm trees by the pool and is not only a half-hour’s drive to the beach, but theme-park adjacent.  This usually works in my favor because she takes in all of our East Coast family who are in need of So Cal lodging.   However, this time even her hospitality wasn’t enough.  Mona, her guest from Hell was fobbed off on me.
            Mona had been a friend of my mom’s from her modeling days & as the story goes she came out to visit my parents in L.A. for a week and ended up staying 2 months.  Then after spotty contact through the 80’s everyone had lost touch.  Flashfoward to Facebook and a record cold winter: Mona reconnected with her one Californian friend, then in record time booked a flight or a 2 week vacay in the land of sun & sand.  Anything over a long weekend is, in all fairness, pushing the friend envelope, but the idea that she’d book such a sojourn after not having spoken to my mom since 1983 was what weirded me out.  My mom, though, is tragically polite about it & didn’t immediately email a link to hotel.com to Mona the Moocher.    The first couple of days were, apparently, great. 
“Mona likes to clean and she cooked for us last night.  You’ll have to come by to meet her.”
Then a week later,  “Mona wants to go to the beach. I was thinking she could come to your house.”
            My mom was so totally over it and she needed breathing room.  What was I going to do?  Aside from saying, “Told you so,” and pouting to my husband?  My mom paid for my college.  She babysits my kids for free.   She knows we have ample room.  And how horrible could she be?  Mona said she just wanted to sit out in the sun and read.  She didn’t need be shown around town.  She was just happy to be out of New York. And my mom would take off a couple days from work & come too…and watch the kids so The Husband & I could go out. 
            Red Rover,  Red Rover, send Mona right over. 
            Time and the elements had not been kind to Mona.  She looked about 15 years older than my mom and sounded like a grizzly Bronx trucker.  Upon walking into my house, she mused, “Where can I smoke?”  Momma added, “She brought her own ashtray,” and like Mary Poppins’ magic carpetbag, Mona dug her hand into her purse and produced an ashtray.  I put her outside in the back and then quickly ran upstairs to close the doors off our bedroom balcony in which she chose to sit under while she puffed away.  But this was merely a scratch of the surface.  Mona came back in and loudly told The Husband that he “complained just to complain” and told us all (including my kids) the story of how she had to handcuff her son to a table leg because he was hyper active.   Momma, a former teacher, was not amused, but did not dare look in my direction because she knew I had the “WTF, bitch” snarly, open-mouthed glare going on.  In my family of origin, you can pretend an emotion isn’t happening if you choose not to see it. 
            The days dragged on, slowly.  I paid for many a lunch.  Mona asked me to order in dinner Friday night because she wanted Chicken Parmesan & I didn't know how to really make it.  Plus, she "hated" all the supermarkets here because Vons didn’t sell the right kind of canned tomatoes for her sauce.   She alternately raved about how beautiful it is here and mused about this being a place void of any character.  If a positive word was uttered, Mona quickly had to come up with a pair of negatives.  She asked about our property taxes and the price of our house.  Our yard isn’t big enough and we’re not close enough to the beach for what we paid, by the way.  Sunshine tax, pfffffffft.
             Something good did come of all of this though, I found myself fiercely defending my neighborhood.  I hadn’t even realized how much I like it here until Mona started dissing it.  I love the way the sidewalks are all even.  I love that the wait staff at the overpriced cafes have dickish attitude problems.  I love that I have to valet. I love that everyone is too blonde and too skinny. I love that no one talks loud.  I love that no one starts conversations with people they don’t know.  I love that the kids are all scheduled within an inch of their lives so they don’t have so much energy that they need to be handcuffed to a table.  I love it that we don’t have a local Walmart.. I love all expensive foreign cars clogging up the freeways.  I love that Mona can’t understand why everyone doesn’t live here, yet won’t ever live here herself.  
My motivation to be a positive person now comes from wanting to spite Mona’s bitterness.   And I will continue to find the good in all things Happy Valley for as long as the faint cigarette scent lingers in the bushes of our backyard.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Slaves to the Lifestyle


            Last week I slagged my neighbor’s marriages, so now I’ll turn a little closer to home, because I don’t cast stones I’m not willing to drop on my own feet.  Tis true, my marriage isn’t perfect.  No-duh, you say?  Yeah, I know, duh, what marriage is perfect?  Though you’d be surprised what liars people can be when commenting on the bliss level of their marriage. 
            Here are some truths:  After 2 kids and 15 years, the sex is infrequent. I’m a huge nag and he’s an asshole.   I get yelled at for not cleaning on the housekeeper’s off-week and I, in turn, ignore him.  I spend too much money.  Work stresses him out and he takes it home.  He thinks I’m not strict enough with the kids.  I think he’s too much of dick about all the little normal kid crap they pull.   But aside from that things are basically good.  He’s a great dad.  He doesn’t belittle my hard work as a stay at home mom and he never forgets that I gave up my career to do it.  I never feel like it’s not equally our money even though I don’t bring home a paycheck.  He’s tall, smart, funny, has a full head of hair and I’m still attracted to him.  I make him laugh all the time and even though I’m not in the same condition in which he found me, he’s a good sport about it.  We are generally happy, except for the quarterly blow-outs which blow-over in about a week’s time.  These are the benefits of a love match.  But the biggest problem since moving to Happy Valley seems to be the financial pressure. 
The Husband and I have found ourselves slaves to high expectations of a lifestyle neither of us particularly wanted….at first.  The trappings of Happy Valley sneak up and before you know it, you are keeping score.  We know people with better, newer, faster cars and more frequent trips to Hawaii, and houses in Deer Valley, and children in fancy private schools and that’s all well and good….as long as we have a nice car, go to Hawaii at least once a year, we ski over 20 days a year in Mammoth, and have our kids in the best public school district.   New economy or not, we don’t want to fall too far behind fabulousness.  I can’t honestly tell you why we care, but we do.  Before we moved here, we were perfectly happy without any of this, but now we feed off it.
            This may be where my personal psychosis plays a part, for I grew up in the Happy Valley of the next county over and it sucked only having one pair of Jordache jeans.   Hearing all the kids talking about their summers in Europe or their horse or their brand new <insert name of now obsolete electronic gadget that will just date me here> was a cruel form of Reagan-era torture.   I know now that that this is a game in which no one can win.  There will always be someone else with way cooler shit.  But the 6th grader in me is fiercely competitive, if not for herself, for my kids (who, by the way, own several pairs True Religion jeans among all the other “right” brands).  And inevitably that means we have to spend more and The Husband has to make more.   Then he’s stressed out.  Then he takes it out on me.  We worry.  We fight.  We resolve to not do that because things are actually okay.  Time passes.  Rinse. Repeat.  
            Yeah, it’s stupid.  And I’m not trying to get anyone to feel sorry for me, because there’s nothing to feel sorry about.  I’m just saying.