Sunday, January 29, 2006

Attack of the Killer Flower Girl

My daughter Emma, now 20 years old, was never your typical kid. And certainly never a stereotypical girl. Not totally accidental, since gender pigeonholing is just something I refuse to do. Anyway, at 8 years old she did deign to wear a lacy dress as the flower girl at my wedding to Tony (see previous post).

However, rather than daintily toss the rose petals on the ground as instructed, she used this technique...


(click to enlarge)

©Rob Fraser 1993

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Photo Friday: Vanity



This fits this week's theme because I'm sitting at a vanity (or something close to it) and I'm posting a picture of myself! How vain! ;)

The photo was shot by uberphotographer Rob Fraser , as I got ready for my wedding (#3, but who's counting?). Rob was a photojournalist that I represented for a year, and he shot two of my weddings just because he's a nice guy. He went on to make a career out of that, shooting Whitney & Bobby's wedding amongst others. Magazine editors and celebrities alike did a double take when looking through his portfolio, seeing the same bride marrying two distinctly different grooms.

Other wedding photos of mine by Rob can be seen here and here.

Photo © Rob Fraser 1993.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Where I'd Like to Be Right Now



... Cane Garden Bay, Tortola BVI. And it wouldn't hurt to be in that kind of shape again, either!!

I hate winter. And I'm sorry, weatherman... promising me 55 degrees as though I'd better slather on the sunscreen just ain't cutting it.

If I sound less than chipper, it's because this week has been a LEEEEEETLE stressful. The heat pump in my condo has to be replaced, along with the condenser, to the tune of $5800. Apparently, no one north of Virginia should have a heat pump as their heat/air conditioning source but every single condo complex around here has them. Ours are 20 years old and kicking the bucket. We woke up to 63 degrees indoors this morning which is COLD. Did I mention I hate winter?

My daughter Emma is giving me all kinds of things to worry about, which I won't go into here to respect her privacy, but I'll say one thing: You know those obnoxious people who coo at your new baby and say "Enjoy him/her NOW...."? It used to annoy the crap out of me, but I get it. Little kids, little problems. Big kids...

Work is insane. I'm basically doing three jobs for the price of one, and corporate America's attitude is "You're lucky to have a job. Suck it up." I just hired a new assistant, someone who has been working as an admin and is being promoted into this position. Now get THIS: If I had hired her from the outside, I could have paid her $10,000 MORE than I'm allowed to pay her because it's a promotion. So, even though it makes my life easier that she knows the people, the company, the politics, etc. she gets punished because she's not a stranger off the street. Absolutely absurd.

My stomach hurts. I can't eat anything without getting a stomach ache. Coincidence? I don't think so...

Take me to Tortola, please.

My New Blog: Get Busy, Folks!



I have started an additional blog as a grass roots effort to get the corporal punishment laws changed in this country. I urge you to support this effort by:

Writing to your Assemblypeople and State and US Senators
Writing to the morning news shows and your local affiliates
Posting this graphic on your blog, with a link to The Center for Effective Discipline.
Promoting that site and my new blog, spreading the word that if the US is serious about championing human rights, we need to start in our own homes.

I was greatly heartened to see how many people came to this blog as a result of searching the web for information on "Nixmary Brown". Unless they have a morbid need to read about the death of a child at the hands of her parents, I assume they feel as horribly about the situation as I do.

I won't write much more about this issue here, because I know you guys like to come here and laugh...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"One hundred and EIGHTY!"

Thanks to the blogger friends who noticed I haven't posted much this week. Insanely busy at work and not feeling so great, either. New post to come tomorrow. In the meantime...here's a rerun to keep you occupied!


Image hosted by Photobucket.com


OK, so I should probably add an 11th "things I've done that you probably haven't" that reads: Got my picture in the New York Observer and my name in "Bulls Eye News" for my outstanding dart throwing skills. (Yes, there's really a magazine called Bulls Eye News.)

When I was married to husband #2, he taught me how to throw darts. We had a board in our kitchen, and at night while he was working as a stagehand on Broadway I would throw and throw and throw while waiting for him to come home. He was already pretty good, so we started to frequent a dart bar on Second Avenue and eventually started playing for them in the NYC league. (This was one of those turning point events in my life, because I met Tony (husband #3) at a tournament and wound up marrying him and having my son.) I played a lot and became pretty skilled at it.

It was an interesting world, the dart world, because the people in it were either hard drinking, hard smoking types (think Tuesday nights at the bowling alley), or white collar ad agency types, or artists and musicians. This picture was taken at our home base -- a bar called Muffin's Pub --, in 1990, when the Observer did a cover story about the dart scene. (How do you like those gams? Not bad for a 35 year old mom, eh?).

One night in 1992 I was supposed to play but decided to meet Tony for dinner instead. That night Muffin's was held up by two masked gunmen and the bartender was shot to death. I never played again after that, and oddly enough I tried to throw a dart about a year ago and it didn't even reach the board. Weird, huh?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Photo Friday: Pink



The Pink Jeep Tour in the pinkest place on earth: Sedona, AZ. (My sister, Lucas and me... April 2002)

Have You Spanked Your Neighbor Lately?



The horrific case of Nixmary Brown, the little 7-year old abused, tortured and ultimately killed by her parents in Brooklyn, has now received national attention. "How can this happen?" is the mantra we're hearing over and over.

Pardon me for oversimplifying, but the answer is quite simple. Until we as a nation give children the same physical protection that we apply to adults, parents will continue to interpret the word "spanking" as they see fit. If my next door neighbor pisses me off, I am not allowed to pop her in the nose. I'm not even allowed to whack her on the butt, even if she's old and wears Depends. Adults are not permitted, by law, to physically touch another adult in anger.

Why do we still allow parents to make their own (often tragically flawed) judgments about physical discipline of their children? It seems so clear to me: One human being is not allowed to strike another human being, period. Give birth to a baby, and along with the mandatory infant seat that is provided if you don't own one, is a piece of paper informing you that physical discipline of this child is punishable by law.

The element of this case that struck home with me (no pun intended) was the mother who basically threw her daughter under the bus: When the stepfather asked "who ate the yogurt?", the mother implicated the daughter knowing what was to come. This is what my childhood was like. As a mother, I cannot fathom doing anything but protecting my children like a fierce mother lion. Yet my own mother would "tattle" on me, fully aware that it was likely to result in a knuckle sandwich from my father.

What is so hard about this, folks? The word "spanking" is nothing more than a euphamism for "I've run out of options". Parenting without hitting is HARD. It requires one to think of other ways to deal with issues. It requires walking away, when what you really want to do is throttle them. But isn't that what we try to TEACH our children? "Use your words" ... "Just walk away"?... and if that's not what we're teaching our kids, it had better be. Otherwise, they may grow up and use their own judgment, just like Nixmary's parents did.

Edited to add: If anyone knows the legislative process for getting a law passed, please contact me. Also, read this.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Rosie is a Rosie is a Rosie



As previously posted, my son Lucas was devestated in February '04 when we had to give our greyhound Rosie back to the adoption group. She had developed a "dysfunctional attachment" to me which translated into vicious behavior towards anyone who spoke to me (except for Lucas, as you can see here) including my daughter Emma. It was quite scary.

So, in September of that year when I decided to lease an adorable little MINI Cooper, Lucas insisted that we name her "Rosie". Baaaaaaaaaad idea. I have just returned Rosie to the dealership where I got her. She developed a dysfunctional unwillingness to be reliable, first losing her power steering ability as I drove home on a winding road in November. Then, in December, she slowed into "limp home mode" while I drove amid speeding traffic on the highway, a result of a bad "intake valve". All of this with less than 18,000 miles on her.

The service manager at MINI told me that if I had wanted a reliable car I should have bought a Kia. He suggested I was overreacting when I said that this "safe mode" of dropping to no more than 5mph, so as not to ruin the engine, could easily have turned me AND Rosie into road pizza. He said I should have programmed their roadside assistance number into my cellphone before I drove out of the showroom.

I assured him that the numerous Toyotas I've driven in my life have never required me to program any 800 numbers into my phone. While I still have my Infiniti QX4, I'll be trading that in for a new Toyota Rav4 for better gas mileage and lower payments. I loved driving Rosie, but unfortunately she is going to wind up on my too-long list of things that "seemed like a good idea at the time". And we won't be giving anyone or anything in this house that name again. Sorry, Rosies.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Back in Business

Due to the awful weather here this past weekend, we have been without cable (TV and cablemodem...ack!) since Saturday night. Finally... we're back in business.

So, what have I been doing without the boob tube and the internets? Well, let's see. I have a Blackberry, so I did cheat and check email from time to time. I went to see Woody Allen's "Match Point" which I loved. I watched "Whale Rider" on DVD which I also loved. Today, Lucas and I saw "Hoodwinked" which was surprisingly funny.

But most of all, I've continued to re-watch Seasons One through Four of The Sopranos. I'm a huge fan of the show (I've mentioned that Tony Soprano reminds me so much of my father it's EERIE at times) and cannot wait for the next season to begin in March. When the show first started, I called my mother and said "Do you like "The Sopranos"?" She hesitated for a minute and then said, "No, not really. I like "The Three Tenors."

Now, I've got a bit of inside info for you Sopranos fans. This season, Meadow Soprano is going into the Witness Protection Program. That's right. You heard it here first.

How do I know?

Because HOW ELSE ARE THEY GOING TO EXPLAIN WHAT SHE'S DONE TO HER FACE????


(before)


(after)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Short Attention Span Theater


Be afraid, be very afraid. I've been really disheartened by how disinterested many people have been in the Alito hearings this week. This guy could change the face of this country as we know it. People are more interested in Angelina's bump than in the fate of the Supreme Court. I'm embarrassed.




And speaking of Brad and Angelina, can you imagine what it would be like to have every speck of minutae in your life documented by someone, somewhere? I mean seriously. All these people (and actors in general) signed up for was acting. Playing make believe for money. How we've turned that into needing to know every last detail of their personal lives is beyond me.

Now don't get me wrong...I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to watching Access Hollywood and the like. I just think there has to be a limit as to how intrusive we, the nosy public, should get.





So... what do we think about James Frey? The guy who wrote "A Million Little Pieces", a memoir catapulted to best-sellerdom by Ms. Oprah herself, is being accused of making up parts of his story (he claims only 18 pages of the book are being disputed.) The question is: Does anyone care? Is his book only valuable if it's true? On the other hand, if he was going to "embellish", why didn't he just write a novel? Who was it that said "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story..."?





And on a very sad and serious note, this is the worst story of child abuse to hit the New York papers since the Lisa Steinberg case. When the uncle of this 7-year old girl (her stepfather's brother) was interviewed by reporters this afternoon, the guy said "He didn't do nothing bad...he did what any normal parent would do. He beat her with a belt."

There's nothing I can say about this that isn't said better by the lyrics to this 10,000 Maniacs song:

What's The Matter Here?

[ Robert Buck / Natalie Merchant ]

That young boy without a name I'd know his face.
In this city the kid's my favorite.
I've seen him. I see him every day.
Seen him run outside looking for a place to hide from his father,
the kid half naked and said to myself "O, what's the matter here?"
I'm tired of the excuses everbody uses, he's their kid I stay out of it,
but who gave you the right to do this?

We live on Morgan Street;
just ten feet between and his mother, I never see her,
but her screams and cussing, I hear them every day.
Threats like: "If you don't mind I will beat on your behind,"
"Slap you, slap you silly."
made me say, "O, what's the matter here?"
I'm tired of the excuses everybody uses, he's your kid, do as you see fit,
but get this through that I don't approve of what you did to you own flesh and blood.

"If you don't sit on this chair straight
I'll take this belt from around my waist and don't think that I won't use it!"

Answer me and take your time,
what could be the awful crime he could do at such young an age?
If I'm the only witness to your madness offer me some words to balance out what I see and what I hear.
All these cold and rude things that you do I suppose you do because he belongs to you
and instead of love, the feel of warmth you've given him these cuts and sores won't heal with time or age.

I want to say "What's the Matter here?"
But I don't dare say.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Visit Divine Calm!!

I won't put the link here, because you're supposed to click on the thumbnail in my sidebar (where it says "Visit My New Tenant"), but you'll love Divine Calm. If you read nothing else on her blog, check out her "100 Things". Any woman who loves Paul Newman the way she does is a friend of mine.

Check her out! She's Divine AND Calm!

You Know the Drill...



That's right. Emerge from the shadows...leave a comment. I know you're out there! (Site Meter tells all. ;) )

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Real "Mr. Bean"



Ever wonder how Starbucks became the behemoth company it is today? I attribute their success to one man, my late ex-husband Tony...Lucas' dad. Yes, his coffee addiction built every one of those Starbucks stores you see, one Venti Cafe Americano at a time. (He didn't even buy the Mochafrappacaramellolatte crap...just your basic cup o' joe. But he did also buy truckloads of ground coffee to make at home.)

This was a typical day for Tony. We'd wake up and if I started to chat with him as he rose from the bed, he would back out of the room as he answered me. The coffee pot was beaming him downstairs, and he had no physical control over it. Then, as I'd be getting ready for work, putting on my makeup in our tiny bathroom with no counter space, he'd arrive at the doorway with MY cup of coffee. The expression on his face and the gentle way he cradled the cup would have made any observer believe he was bringing me manna from heaven. Sounds nice, right? Call me ungrateful, but there was no place to PUT the cup, and while I enjoy coffee it doesn't have quite the same euphoric effect on me.

He would proceed to have at least two more cups (one of which he would take into the bathroom with the newspaper and a cigarette. YUCK! Who does that??), while a second pot was brewing. Before leaving for work, he'd pour that pot into a large thermos (10 cup) and off he'd go.

That thermos took him through the morning. At lunchtime, he'd go to Starbucks for a few Venti Cafe Americanos. They knew him by name. At more than one location.

This all sounds very silly, but it was a serious addiction. If he did NOT have coffee for a few hours he'd fall asleep. No matter where he was, or what he was doing. When Lucas was an infant, I went out to the store one afternoon for about an hour. When I pulled into the driveway, I heard my infant SCREAMING inside the house. I ran in and found the baby in his little seat, two feet away from a sleeping Tony who was in a slumped position on the sofa. It took me no less that 10 minutes to rouse him. As always, when I did manage to wake him, he swore he was not sleeping.

I avoided leaving him home alone with Lucas as much as possible. When I did have leave him, I would suggest that he not sit on the couch at all. Then, when Luke was 4, I came home (again from a 15 minute trip to the store) to find Tony passed out and little Lucas sitting on the kitchen floor surrounded by 4 empty yogurt containers, several empty bags of chips, and eight little applesauce cups. Tony did not hear me enter the house, and I was tempted to take Lucas and then call ... asking how everything was going and if I could talk to my little boy. (Thinking I might be able to scare him into different behavior) Of course this plan would not have worked, because the phone wouldn't have awakened him.

He took Lucas to the movies once and when they arrived home, my son told me that "a lady had to help me wake Daddy up". Thank god the "lady" wasn't a hair-dye wielding child-napper. And so much for father-son movie dates.

At dinnertime, he HAD to have a glass of wine or a beer. But if he hadn't started a pot of coffee prior to dinner, therefore having to wait for it after the meal, he would often fall asleep right in his chair. It was not unusual for us to clear the table and go off to our evening activities, leaving him right there. He'd usually come-to around 9PM.

I often suggested that he needed to go to a sleep clinic, that he might have sleep apnea, but he adamantly denied a problem. However, one evening we went to a local children's carnival with the kids. While there, Lucas spotted a little playground area with a $1 entry fee. I was out of cash at that point and Tony only had one dollar in his pocket. However, the coffee demons were beckoning him. As he lied and told Lucas he didn't have enough money, I rolled up my sleeve and slapped my forearm: the universal sign for "You are a junkie, you asshole." (Sorry to speak ill of the dead, but this was beyond anything I could fathom.)

It probably became scariest for me after we separated, because I was terrified that he would inadvertenly start a fire in his apartment when Lucas was there. (All of our plastic kitchen utensils, like ladles etc., had been disfigured from being left on the stove near an open flame.) I also knew that a smoke alarm would not have broken through his 'coma'. I told all of this to the court but they did not limit his custody rights. Thankfully, no harm came to Lucas (he was also thoroughly trained as to how to check the kitchen constantly and how to call 911.)

Only because Lucas was not with him, I find this final story the funniest of all. He drove his car onto the Bridgeport Ferry in CT which goes to Long Island. It's a $90 trip with your vehicle, and takes about one and a half hours to get across the Sound. His sister was expecting him at her house in the Hamptons that afternoon. Hours and hours went by and she did not see him. She called me, but I had no idea what happened.

As it turned out, he was reading on the top deck of the boat and fell asleep, head hanging into the open book. He fell asleep and made THREE ROUND TRIPS. His neck was severely sunburned, but what really burned him was that he was charged for all three trips!! As with most other things, he took no responsibility and blamed the crew for not waking him up. (They may have attempted, as I had so many times, and given up.)

Bottom line is that he was a self-medicater. Many people accept drugs and alcohol as the addictive substances that people abuse to balance their own brain chemistry, but I can tell you first-hand that coffee can be just as bad. I hated having our lives controlled by chemicals. While I like to have my coffee in the morning, some days I'll purposely skip it just to assure myself that I can.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bar-Mitzvah

A rerun from January '05...new post coming later today




While organizing my browser bookmarks (oh god deliver me...did I just write that?), I came across an old favorite. They seem to have added to the product line, too! This is hilarious, but it's not a joke. Check out the Schmalz Brewing Company. These guys are the Real McCoyowitz.

He'Brew Beer

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy Blogaversary to ME!!!



Tomorrow marks one full year since I started posting in earnest on this blog!! I had dabbled for a few days, but starting with THIS one I got into a groove. Then, you guys started leaving me comments and feedback that gave me what I needed: a voice. I had always enjoyed writing letters and emails to people, but whenever I sat down to write the memoir that I knew was inside of me, it was flat. I needed someone to write TO.

That turned out to be you...some of you that I know in the traditional sense (real-life know), and others whom I've come to know in ways that people who don't do this can never understand. You encouraged me so much that I'm seriously working on my book now, so I apologize if I haven't been updating daily but I promise more good stuff is to come. And if this book ever does materialize, I will have all of YOU to thank. We'll see!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Restitutions




First, I would like to wish all of my visitors (some of them inexplicably loyal!) a very happy, healthy and productive 2006!

One of my favorite blog-buddies, Metro Dad, had the best idea for a New Year's post. He (like me) has become enamored with the new show, My Name is Earl, where Jason Lee's character makes a list of all the bad things he's done to people throughout his life and tries to repair the damage, one poor victim at a time.

Anyway, what Metro Dad did and what I'm doing here is to make my own little list of bad karma-inducing behavior from childhood and somewhat beyond...if you recognize yourself in this list of unsuspecting targets, SORRY!!

~ There was a girl on my block in Brooklyn named Carolyn who just annoyed the crap out of us. We did some rather uncreative things like make her eat dirt and drink perfume, but my claim to fame was staging a version of "The Dating Game" where she was the 12 year old "bachelorette". We positioned the "bachelors"in another room, and I (acting as MC) would take her questions and deliver back each guy's response. Bachelor Number Three had ALL the right answers. Long walks on the beach, romantic dinners by candlelight...he was good. Of course she chose him and waited for him to be revealed.
That's when I giddily introduced her to her new date: Her dog Rusty.

~ All kids make crank phone calls at some point (right?). Sure, we did the typical "Is your refrigerator running?" ones, and some a little more interesting. ("Don't answer your phone in the next 10 minutes. Men are working on the lines." Called right back and when the person answered we screamed.)The cruelest one, though, was perpetrated on an unsuspecting man named Irving Levine who lived in Bensonhurst. I still remember the number: GE6-8802. That's how many times we called. For some reason I was elected to put on my best Borscht-belt accent and ask for Irving. My name was Sylvia Rosenberg, and claimed to be having an affair with Irving. We even went so far as to send him cards and letters from Sylvia!! Sorry Irving.

~ My friend Andrea and I babysat for a couple, Angela and Lou, who hired us almost nightly while they went to play Bingo. We rifled through all their personal correspondence, photos, etc. Worse yet, if there was any commotion outside like a car accident, we'd run down the block leaving their house wide open (and their small children inside alone). They were so weird that we didn't feel that bad. The husband was kind of creepy so I made up a version of the song, "Close to You" about him. ("Unlike me, she likes to be...close to Lou...")

~ I did some things in a church confessional that are still illegal in a few states south of the Mason-Dixon line.

~ I misled a nun who was foolish enough to ask a six-grader what 69 meant. To the delight of my friend Mary Ann, who was being held for detention with me for reading a "dirty book", I drew stick figures of the position and told the nun that "the girl lays like this, and the boy lays like this, and they lick each other's feet."

~ Much to my 15-year old horror, I found myself harboring some creepy-crawlies that had been passed to me from my junkie boyfriend. Too embarrassed to buy the A-200, I told my father that we needed it to get rid of my dog's fleas. Off he went to the drugstore to do my dirty work. (Hey, it was karma for him too... he had once sent my sister to the hardware store to buy elbow grease!!)

~ I collected the dissected earthworms from our Biology class and planted them in various unappetizing places in the cafeteria, including the Coke machine and in one girl's tuna sandwich.

~ We had an inventive 5th grade teacher who used to let us rearrange our desks every few weeks so we'd face a different side of the room. This meant that in one position, the clock was behind the her. When our Science teacher, a very nearly senile nun, entered the room saw this kooky arrangement she foolishly elected me to raise my hand when it was 5 minutes before the end of class. Every day I'd raise my hand a little earlier until finally I'd let her TEACH for five minutes, raise my hand, and she'd leave the room. Tee hee.

Thankfully that's all I can think of right now, and hopefully no long term damage was done. Do you think that Carolyn and Rusty are still together?

My New Tenant!!



Go over to the sidebar and click the little thumbnail for the Blogging Bizatch! She is really hilarious ... you'll be glad you did.