Friday, July 29, 2005

Photo Friday: Somber

Today's Photo Friday entry is my greyhound Kelso, who looks somber even when he's happy. My favorite thing to say to him is "Hey Kelso...why the long face?"

(To read my post about greyhounds and greyhound adoption, click HERE )

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wednesday's Child

Every once in awhile I'll direct my readers to what I affectionately called a 'Wednesday's Child"... a wonderful blog that has yet to be discovered and needs to be. (I know it's still Tuesday, but I couldn't wait)

This week's is ESPECIALLY close to my heart, because it's written by my incredibly wonderful and witty cousin Mary. She's a terrific writer with wonderful life experience for such a young whipper-snapper. I don't need to say more. Go see her HERE . Her blog is brand new, so you can easily read everything she's written so far. And, of course, tell her that Cousin Panthergirl sent you. ;)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Factoid #13 - Panthergirl's Cult Film Appearance

As reported in my 100 Factoids, I have a 10-second cameo appearance in the very last segment of the cult film "The Groove Tube" (filmed in 1971 when I was not quite 16 years old.)

Although many people know about the movie, they don't know that it actually originated as a television production that was shown on closed-circuit tv sets in a small upper East Side theater called "Channel One". My friends and I went to see it a couple of times and were huge fans. Most of the segments in the movie were retreads from the Channel One days.

During the summer of 1971, I was working in Manhattan with my aunt at an allergist's office. Most days I wore a nurse's uniform (yeah, yeah...lots of stories about THAT, too) but this was not one of them. As I was on my way out to lunch, my aunt gave me a pack of checks to deposit at the bank. Thousands of dollars. I went to the bank, made the deposit, but on the way back, as I walked down Park Avenue, Ken Shapiro in his pink suit began to sing and dance around me. I saw all the cameras but just assumed they were doing another Channel One thing.

They told me it was for a feature film and asked me to go back to the corner and do several takes. Hundreds of people were inside the lobby of the building, watching the whole scene. The camera guys were cute so I hung out...they asked me to go see the "rushes" the following day. I signed a release (no one ever bothered to see if I was actually 18), they gave me $1, and off I went.

When I excitedly got back to the doctor's office, TWO HOURS later, my glee was quickly extiniguished by my FURIOUS aunt who thought I had been mugged and killed for the deposit money. Needless to say, I didn't get to see the rushes the next day. What you can't see in the clip is that my hair was really, really long which made me pretty recognizable. For the next several weeks people would stop me on the street and say "Weren't you the girl who was in that movie on Park Avenue?"

See my 10 second clip HERE

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs

Lucas and I spent a wonderful day in the city yesterday. We went to the Central Park zoo which is always a treat, but yesterday especially so. A polar bear decided to get a break from the heat and situate herself where everyone could get a good look (you can see the reflection of the crowd she drew in the glass). All I could think was, "I hope that glass is strong enough to hold her!"

polar bear

luke and the polar bear

Then we went to see The March of the Penguins. I started weeping before the opening credits were over. It is amazingly beautiful. However, Lucas was sobbing and wanted to leave after the first penguin death. I kept him calm but there were several more sad scenes and he could barely take it. When the final predator scene was beginning, I convinced him to close his eyes and we made it through the entire movie. Afterwards I explained that it was a film about survival, because most of them make it through impossible odds.

See it, but be prepared. If you or your children are sensitive (like me, who still blubbers at "Day of the Dolphin"), bring tissues.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I'll Take Potpourri for $200, Art

Yes, Art was before Alex. Why do I know that? Because I am old. And getting older. My impending 50th birthday (September 13th, feel free to throw me a blog party), is contributing to some of my mental funk. I just cannot wrap my head around that number. Plus, I feel like I need to take a GOOD look at my life, considering two thirds of it are probably over.

And on that happy note... here are some random thoughts and observations, some silly and some more serious.

1. As far a summer reality TV fare goes, "Big Brother' is pretty much business as usual (even though it was supposed to be full of surprises, the producers were the ones surprised when everyone figured out "the big twist" in the first week). "Rock Star INXS" is surprisingly good. The singers are WAY better than that American Idol fare. Some big talents there. "The Cut" is awful. Can someone please tell Tommy Hilfiger how to pronounce the word "design"? "Fight for Fame" is a guilty pleasure. Fun to watch bad actors go through the audition process. And of course, I keep up with everything by watching my FAVORITE show, "The Soup" on E!

2. Speaking of E!, they did a show about wacky celebrity baby names. Some were wackier than others (I mean really, is Magnus such a weird name? I don't think so)...but the worst had to be David Duchovny (named his kid "Kyd"??) and Rob Morrow. Yes, Rob Morrow actually named his daughter "Tu". I guess he couldn't wait 16 years for his daughter to hate him.

3. Recently, in New Jersey, three little boys who had been missing were found dead in the trunk of a car parked outside their parents house. ("Parked" is a generous term. Dumped was more like it.) The police had looked around the car but not in the trunk, and now it seems the boys were alive for many hours before being found. The parents are accusing the POLICE of neglect. Er.... ok .... YOU don't watch your very small children and the police are at fault?

4. If I see another parent driving a new vehicle with a small child in the front seat I am going to perform a citizen's arrest (can you still do that?)

5. And speaking of driving, I think that between road rage and car-ass, suburban living is taking years off my life. When I lived in the city I walked a TON, and except for getting annoyed with people who don't follow the 'keep to the right' rule on the sidewalk, I was pretty happy doing so.

6. Every woman I have spoken to lately who has a son between 10 and 25 says she would move to Canada before sending her son to this war. Even women who voted for him. I honestly wish we could just have a friendly split between the Red and Blue states and call it a day. (of course, people could shuffle to their appropriate color before the split)

7. And speaking of him, how predictable that he would start the firestorm over his Supreme Court nominee just in time to take the heat off Rove. Remember what Triumph the Insult Comic Dog said about Rove? "Karl Rove! They say you're the brains behind Bush! Somehow I was expecting a much smaller man..."

8. And speaking of the Supreme Court nominee, do these right-wing guys all go to the same barber? Or do they just walk in for a haircut and say, "Give me the 3rd Grade special"? As soon as I saw this dude I knew he was trouble.

9. If road rage and car-ass don't take years off my life, worrying about Roe v. Wade will.

10. And speaking of taking years off my life, did I mention that I'm turning 50 in September?

Cheap Labor

This is what happens when you work for a sales promotion agency, and the client wants two models but can only afford one.

Now, wouldn't you want a jacket that makes you look 40 pounds heavier? I was actually quite thin at the time (1979) but for $15 I could look like a deuce, deuce and a half. ;)

Sorry for the recent spate of 'drive-by posts'. I've been in a mental funk and just haven't felt the creative juices flowing. Sometimes I think of really good stories I'd like to tell, but then I decide to save them for the fall. It seems like a lot fewer people are blogging and reading blogs during the summer. Am I right?

Anyway...I'm planning a "random thoughts on random things" post for later today. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Acorns and Oak Trees

Original posting date: 2/22/05. Resurrected for "Regurgitation Monday", in the spirit of summer reruns. Apologies to those who have already seen it. It's also a good one to post after yesterday's Halloween one.

People who know anything at all about me as a child tend to snicker (or snort) when I talk about my kids' quirks. After all, I was kind of...different.

(Disclaimer: I didn't choose the outfit in this picture. My mother thought it was a good idea to dress me up as the Virgin Mary for Halloween. That's right. Virgin Mary. Halloween. Okey dokey. People didn't know whether to give me candy corn or a room at the Inn.)

My propensity for getting cheap laughs started early. Every morning, our first grade class would march up the school stairs to John Philip Sousa blaring from the loud speakers. One day, as we lined up after the music died down, the evil Sister Margaret Angela growled that she didn't want to hear one peep out of us. Thinking she might appreciate the Henny Youngman in me, I quipped "Peep peep!" My knuckles are STILL sore.

My two older sisters were always nervous about having me around their friends because of my disastrous attempts to contribute to their conversations. When she was 16 and I was 7, my sister Loretta invited a date to dinner. (What the HELL was she thinking??) In a misguided attempt to impress this guy and help my sister out, I proudly described Loretta's talent for biting her own toenails. (Hey, I thought this was really amazing!) I could be wrong, but I don't think we ever saw him again.

A few years after the dinner fiasco, when this same sister was entertaining the man that she wanted to marry but who hadn't yet popped the question, I spontaneously regaled them with my Carol Channing rendition of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend". It's amazing she still talks to me.

I kept collections of my dog's teeth and my father's toenail clippings, and a dead fetal pig in a jar of vinegar. I would happily show all of these to horrified houseguests. When other little girls of the 1960s were learning to crochet, I was learning to handicap. For show and tell, I presented the Daily Racing Form and explained how I was going to make my picks for the 8th race at Aqueduct. Another very unhappy nun.

While I don't think I was suffering from pica, I did eat weird stuff like Purina Dog Chow, kindergarten paste, Play-Doh and Loretta's orange lipstick. Man, that stuff smelled great. And remember...dinner at my house wasn't too appetizing, so Purina Dog Chow was a veritable hors d'oeuvre. (It tasted like Triscuits. Made by the same company. Coincidence? I don't think so.)

Is it any wonder that my daughter was obsessed with The Marx Brothers and Lucille Ball when she was 6, or pretended that her dolls went to The Judy Garland Elementary School? Should I be surprised that my son saves the shedded skin of our bearded dragon and sings along with Tom Waits?

Of course not. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Halloween on Wheels

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you'll know that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Screw Christmas, keep Flag Day, I barely notice Arbor Day. But Halloween... I live for it. Having kids made it even better because I coulduse them in my shameless quest for attention, which is of course what drives me to come up with such inventive costumes.

I loved Halloween as a kid and we'd actually have huge family parties (but hated that "dunking for apples" game. Ew. Gross). I still dress up and sometimes go to work that way, as with my now famous "Old Spice" get-up:

But I have the MOST fun coming up with ideas for the kids. This past year, my sister bought Lucas a suit. He insisted on wearing it to school for Picture Day. (I was really afraid he'd get made fun of. At the end of the day, when I asked about that, he said "I don't think so. One kid said, 'Hey, it's picture day...not the Presidential Debate!' but I don't think he was making fun of me.") I loved the way his pictures turned out, but I had other plans for that suit...

I it as the perfect foundation for a Halloween costume. Add a fedora and a Superman t-shirt and whaddya get? Clark Kent!

Of all the costumes over the years, one of my favorites HAS to be Emma's racecar. We lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn where they have a big Halloween parade every year after dark. Everyone in the neighborhood comes out for it and a local mounted police officer brings up the rear as the Headless Horseman (really pretty scary!). Emma was just slightly over a year old, and although she had been walking since she was 9 months old we knew that walking in the parade for ten blocks at night would be too much. What to do?

Her dad and I came up with the idea of creating a costume around her stroller. He put together the racecar out of foam core, and added "decals" that read pTa, Crayola and Pampers. She wore her bike helmet, and the steering wheel was a highchair toy. For the actual parade, he and I and two friends wore painters' paper jumpsuits that said "pit crew" on the back. I think it turned out great.

(click on pics to enlarge)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

"Mommy, where do stereotypes come from?"

mom, joey and cheech

As I pored over the vintage photos of my mother, this one made me laugh out loud. Taken in 1943, it features her in a fur coat (gee, what happened to the "we were so poor" stuff?), flanked by Joey Vannera and "Cheech". Joey was clearly an upstanding citizen, fighting for his country. "Cheech" on the other hand... I'm not sure if he worked in waste management or was about to go "psssst!", open his coat and try to sell me the letter "R", like that sneaky guy on Sesame Street.

The photo was taken on Central Avenue in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. These days, it would be wise not to venture down to Central Avenue unless you're in full body armor, carrying an Uzi. Both of my parents grew up there and at the time it was a mecca for Italian immigrants and the home of Murder, Incorporated. As kids we'd love hearing stories about the old neighborhood, and always giggled when my father talked about his school days at "Fourteen Holy Martyrs". Those Catholics. Sure know how to lift the spirits! (Parental Celebrity Sighting: He actually went to school with Jackie Gleason!)

When my parents were married, they bought a house in Brooklyn far from Central Avenue. But every other Sunday we'd go back to have that ginormous Italian gastronomic marathon known as "dinner" at my father's parents' apartment. It was on the third floor of a rowhouse above my grandfather's barbershop. My cousins and I loved the barbershop because we could sneak down there and peek at the dog-eared Playboy magazines.

The neighborhood was still decent in the 60s, although it was not uncommon to see women, their ample arms and bosoms supported by pillows, leaning out of upper floor windows screaming at their kids. They weren't necessarily angry, they just screamed. (My mother, fancying herself several cuts above the women she grew up with, refused to scream for us. Instead, she'd stand outside our house and clap her hands as loudly as she could manage. We would collapse in fits of laughter but NEVER respond to it.)

Occasionally my father would drive my sisters and me past a daunting old building surrounded by a brick wall with a barbed wire necklace. The message was that if we didn't behave we could wind up here, at the House of Good Shepherd, the "home for wayward girls". Or better yet, he'd threaten us with Johnson Avenue... and drive us slowly past its silent slaughterhouses. (Note to parents: Dramatic threats of drawing and quartering do not prevent your children from going hog wild as teenagers.)

As the years went by and the neighborhood began to deteriorate, our relatives moved out little by little. By the early 70s no one remained...well, almost no one. My father's Aunt Mary, emotionally destroyed when her son went missing-in-action during World War II, refused to leave. She thought her son would come home one day and wanted to be there to greet him. She died waiting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Love and Lust in Cyberia!!

If you haven't popped over to Adventures in Cyberialately, you might be surprised at what our randy Sim-bloggers are up to! Here are Dawn and Deni in an intimate moment.

And here's Deni using some expensive contraption that I've dubbed "the orgasmatron", because it sure does make her happy!

If you put your name on the list to become a Sim but haven't seen yourself yet...don't despair! I've recruited a team of Sim experts in Robin , Heidi and Xtessa (and eventually Nicolette ) to take on Sim-goddess powers. They have already started posting some of their blogger-families' adventures.

Check out the special blogroll on my sidebar to see who has been recreated in Cyberia!

Monday, July 11, 2005

One BIG Omission!!!

Hey, thanks for all the fun comments on yesterday's list (and for adding some of your own celeb-encounters!). I've been out at a golf outing all day, which reminded me of the BIG ONE I forgot to put on the list!!

Yep, the man himself. I was in a golf store in Manhattan shopping for a gift for my father (this was around 1989) and O.J. was being oh-so-helpful with suggestions. That is probably my most NOTORIOUS brush with fame!

PS: Thanks for asking about Lucas. He is doing much better. Still has to take the antibiotics for two weeks. I am going to pick up the police report tomorrow. I spoke to the cop that is the "youth officer" and he said he will go to the kid's house and talk to them. (He did say they can refuse to have him come). I haven't called them yet...I'm kind of dreading it. I hate conflict.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


It can be incredibly obnoxious or really fun, so I'm hoping for "really fun". My blog pal over at Wilke World posted a list of celebrities that he encountered while working in Vegas. As you may know from my 100 Factoids, my first husband worked for CBS Records as an album cover designer, so I had tons of celeb encounters as a result. Second husband was a stagehand on Broadway. I also lived in NYC for most of my life, which lends itself to lots of brushes with the rich and famous. In addition, I work in Greenwich, CT... and I've had several close encounters at lunchtime. So, without further ado, here is my (probably not complete but long anyway) list, in no particular order:

These are all people I actually spoke to. I have a long list of "sightings", which I'll save for another post!

1. Anthony Hopkins - circa 1977, when he was in "Equus" on Broadway and had appeared in the miniseries, "QB VII". My then boyfriend spotted him on the street and started snapping his finger at him, saying "Hopkins...Hopkins.." as if he knew him. He stopped and talked to us, but I couldn't tell you what he said because his EYES WERE SO BLUE I couldn't believe it.

2. Ruth Gordon - stood next to her during the Columbus Day parade in Manhattan, c. 1978. She looked like a bag lady, except the bag was Louis Vuitton. She grabbed my sleeve and started shaking me, saying "Isn't it a LOVELY day for a parade???"

3. Paul McCartney - I've posted about this before, but I was at the premiere party for "Give My Regards to Broad Street", and as Paul and Linda arrived I was scooped up by the crowd of paparazzi and pushed nose to nose with Paul. Neither of us could move, so I said "Hi", he said "Hi" and that was it. We were literally touching noses.

4. Sting - Many, many encounters because one of my best friends is a close friend of his. I've danced with him at his 35th birthday party, slept in his daughter's bedroom, chatted over the London Times Crossword puzzle and listened to him doing yoga in the morning with his yogi.

5. Wynton Marsalis - attended a photo shoot for his album, "Hot House Flowers". Hilarious guy.

6. Branford Marsalis - talked to him at Sting's b'day party. Very sweet.

7. Andy Warhol and Truman Capote - used to go to a bar I frequented in NYC c. 1978 called "Peartree's". Andy would frequently carry a very drunken Truman into the place and prop him up at the bar. I sat next to them one night and Truman Capote drew little cartoons on a napkin for me. I have no idea whatever happened to that napkin... shit.

8. Yousef Karsh - look him up. He was a world-reknowned portrait photographer who took all the famous portraits you've seen of Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, various royals, Ernest Hemingway in the fisherman knit sweater, etc. Had dinner with him and his wife, and the stories he told were incredible. His favorite subjects? The Marx Brothers.

9. Robert Rauschenberg and Christo - met them at a party, c. 1979. We rapped. (a little Christo humor.)

10. Joe Jackson - attended a party at his tiny NYC apartment for the launch of his "Body and Soul" album (ex-h designed the cover). He played piano while we sat and listened. I looked in his medicine cabinet. Nothing interesting. At another time, we had dinner with him and his girlfriend and I gave him a copy of my Sonny Bono album for his "bad music" collection. He's a very strange and shy guy.

11. Helmut Newton - met him at Sting's b'day party. Very odd dude. Courtney Cox was at that party too, along with lots of cool musicians like Kenny Kirkland, but I didn't talk to them.

12. Bill Murray - my daughter was in kindergarten with his son, Luke. Attended several school functions with him including one where the kids made breakfast for the parents. We sat in their tiny desks and Bill asked the teacher what the specials were. Another time, Emma and I were waiting for the bus in the rain when a junky station wagon pulled up and offered us a ride. It was Bill Murray with his wife and son. He was silly all the way to school.

13. Jonathan Pryce - as posted earlier, he was my daughter's IDOL when she was five and we met him backstage at Miss Saigon.

14. Eric Sevareid - interviewed him for a promotion agency I worked for in the late '70s.

15. F. Murray Abraham - met him in a video store and we chatted about how much we loved The Pee Wee Herman show. Who knows? He was really nice and funny.

16. David Byrne - met him at a party because he and a friend of mine worked on a book together called "What the Songs Look Like", about all the Talking Heads songs.

17. Charlie Pride - my ex-h shot his album cover on the roof of the building we lived in, in Brooklyn. He and his wife came to our apartment and he was THE FUNNIEST GUY I've ever met. Bar none. He called me "Lucille" the whole time and made up names for our cats. His wife seemed totally annoyed with him and kept trying to get him back on track, but I couldn't stop laughing. Loved the guy.

18. Bjorn Borg - met him in the waiting room at my gynocologist's office, c. 1978. He was reading a People magazine while he waited for his girlfriend. He was very sweet.

19. Guillermo Vilas - another 70s tennis star. Met him while he was practicing for the Volvo Classic, and got his autograph for an Argentinian friend of mine.

20. Josh Mostel - sat at a table with him at a dinner after the Rainforest Benefit concert a few years ago. He was very, very funny and we were making up jokes about math. He offered to let me stay in his apartment (no, he wasn't going to be there) but I had a place to stay already. That's his business card I've posted here, phone number obliterated.

21. Gary Sinese - met him because he played on the Broadway Show League softball team with husband #2, while he was doing Grapes of Wrath on Broadway. Went to the Central Park Zoo with him and his wife and their child, with my daughter Emma. Super nice guy. Also along were Terry Kinney (of HBO's "Oz") and Kathryn Urbe (also on "Oz") who were great.

22. Ileana Douglas - starred in an off-broadway play called "Squaring the Circle" that I co-produced with husband #2.

23. Enrico Colantoni - (the bald guy on "Just Shoot Me") also starred in the play. Loved him.

24. James Taylor - met him backstage at a benefit concert...they don't call him "Sweet Baby James" for nothing.

25. Sheryl Crow - met her at that concert too. She liked my necklace. She's really short.

26. Don Henley - same concert. Weird dude. OCD.

27. Charlotte D'Amboise - met her when she was playing Peter Pan in "Jerome Robbins' Broadway". She offered to sprinkle fairy dust on Emma, but Emma wanted no part of that.

28. Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley - met them when my ex-h was working on the Greatest Hits album cover. Talked to them about the Bradley Method of childbirth and they wound up going to our teacher's class.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Caving... 'cause I like this one

A few people have asked me to do this meme, and since it doesn't bore me to read other people's (unlike the music one...sorry, but I couldn't give a rat's ass how many gigs of music you have on your computer), I'll give it a go.

10 Years Ago: I was getting ready to take my kids (Lucas was 7 months old, Emma was 9) to Florida to see my parents, and my dad for what would be the last time. I went back alone when he passed away a month later.

5 Years ago: I got divorced for the third and last time.

1 Year ago: I was still trying to help Lucas through the loss of his dad, 6 months earlier.

Yesterday: I got the MINI serviced, ate sashimi, played The Sims2.

Today; went to Golfsmith to buy a new bag, some clothes and a box of balls. Went to Petsmart and Trader Joe's. My life is so exciting that I can hardly stand it. We are going to play golf around 4, which I'm looking forward to. And I need to start working out again. Seriously.

Tomorrow: it's going to be freakin' hot, so we might go to the movies or to the Maritime Aquarium to see a white crocodile.

5 Snacks I Enjoy: watermelon, strawberries, nuts, chips and dip (love it, but don't eat it), popcorn.

5 Songs I know all the words to: too many to count, so I'll put five that have lots of words: Stairway to Heaven, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, I'm in the Mood for Love (the R&B one that used to be Frankie Crocker's theme song.."there I go, there I go, there i go..."), Bohemian Rhapsody, and the entire Rocky Horror Picture Show and Jesus Christ Superstar (ok, that's 6).

5 Reality TV Shows I watch: Big Brother, The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Contender, Wife Swap. (and about a zillion more)

5 TV Shows I watch Daily: The Today Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Access Hollywood, Jeopardy, Aaron Brown.

5 Things I would do with $100,000,000: Buy a house on some body of water, on or near a golf course; buy an apartment in the city; help my kids, friends and greyhounds; travel all over the world; NEVER WORK AGAIN.

5 locations I would run away to: Tortola, Hawaii, the Kingdom of Bhutan, Sedona, the Italian Riviera.

5 things I like doing: "the wild thing", playing golf & tennis, reading, walking, laughing my ass off.

5 things I would never wear: polyester, a bathing cap, a rain hat, a swimsuit with a skirt, pantyhose.

5 recently seen movies that I like: Madagascar (it really helps to be a New Yorker), rentals including: Maria Full of Grace, Being Julia, Yes Men, and that's all I can think of. I never get to go to the movies anymore.

5 famous people I want to meet: Bill Clinton, Phil Mickelson, Joe Torre, Tom Cruise (so I can kick his ass), GW Bush (ditto).

5 biggest joys of the moment: my kids (angst, but joy nonetheless, my friends (including my sister), music, my dog, golf.

Friday, July 08, 2005

A Hug for London

My heart goes out to this city and its people. I had an incredible time there in 2003...a visit I will never forget. Hope all of our British bloggers and their loved ones are safe.

Photo Friday: Candid

For today's Photo Friday entry, I decided to post another shot taken by my son, the crack photographer last year when he was 9. He used his Olympus camera with Tri-X film. (If you haven't seen the crack photographer photo, please click the link. But you might want to go pee first.)

Many of you really liked my entry last week for "Used". You can vote for it as "noteworthy" on the Photo Friday site. It's number 123 on the list. Thanks!!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Go Brooke

In case anyone has not seen the letter that Brooke Shields wrote to the NY Times last Friday, read it here. So well done...then again, she did go to Princeton. I think I'll go buy her book.

War of Words


I WAS hoping it wouldn't come to this, but after Tom Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC show "Today" last week, I feel compelled to speak not just for myself but also for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression. While Mr. Cruise says that Mr. Lauer and I do not "understand the history of psychiatry," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is caused by the hormonal shifts that occur after childbirth. During pregnancy, a woman's level of estrogen and progesterone greatly increases; then, in the first 24 hours after childbirth, the amount of these hormones rapidly drops to normal, nonpregnant levels. This change in hormone levels can lead to reactions that range from restlessness and irritability to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

I never thought I would have postpartum depression. After two years of trying to conceive and several attempts at in vitro fertilization, I thought I would be overjoyed when my daughter, Rowan Francis, was born in the spring of 2003. But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. This baby was a stranger to me. I didn't know what to do with her. I didn't feel at all joyful. I attributed feelings of doom to simple fatigue and figured that they would eventually go away. But they didn't; in fact, they got worse.

I couldn't bear the sound of Rowan crying, and I dreaded the moments my husband would bring her to me. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted to disappear. At my lowest points, I thought of swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window of my apartment.

I couldn't believe it when my doctor told me that I was suffering from postpartum depression and gave me a prescription for the antidepressant Paxil. I wasn't thrilled to be taking drugs. In fact, I prematurely stopped taking them and had a relapse that almost led me to drive my car into a wall with Rowan in the backseat. But the drugs, along with weekly therapy sessions, are what saved me - and my family.

Since writing about my experiences with the disease, I have been approached by many women who have told me their stories and thanked me for opening up about a topic that is often not discussed because of fear, shame or lack of support and information. Experts estimate that one in 10 women suffer, usually in silence, with this treatable disease. We are living in an era of so-called family values, yet because almost all of the postnatal focus is on the baby, mothers are overlooked and left behind to endure what can be very dark times.

And comments like those made by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general.

If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease. Perhaps now is the time to call on doctors, particularly obstetricians and pediatricians, to screen for postpartum depression. After all, during the first three months after childbirth, you see a pediatrician at least three times. While pediatricians are trained to take care of children, it would make sense for them to talk with new mothers, ask questions and inform them of the symptoms and treatment should they show signs of postpartum depression.

In a strange way, it was comforting to me when my obstetrician told me that my feelings of extreme despair and my suicidal thoughts were directly tied to a biochemical shift in my body. Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable. With a doctor's care, I have since tapered off the medication, but without it, I wouldn't have become the loving parent I am today.

So, there you have it. It's not the history of psychiatry, but it is my history, personal and real.

Wednesday's Child

Reviving my 'Wednesday's Child" feature... where I introduce you to a blogfriend or blog I love that doesn't get enough traffic. In this case, my dear friend Nadia (yes, the Sim) just got her wonderful blog custom designed and it's gorgeous! Read about her life as a singer here, at The Torch Singer.

(Did I mention that *I* introduced her to my wonderful friend Richard and they are now living together and in lurrrrrrve?)


Well, the Lucas saga continues. He developed a fever and swelling behind his right ear. It seems he has an infection, either of the lymph nodes or the bone, as a result of the blow to his head. We spent the day at the doctor's office and then the hospital where they drew blood and will try to determine where the infection is. He's fairly miserable...can't eat comfortably or open his mouth easily. I'm planning to call the other kid's parents tomorrow and give them the "bill".

Everyone who volunteered to be a Sim:
Please blogroll or bookmark Adventures in Cyberia. I've gotten three volunteers to take on the rest of the cast of characters and post them to the blog the way I've been doing. You'll be a star soon enough!

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Joys of Parenthood

I don't usually post about the day to day stuff... but this weekend has brought a few events that bear reporting:

On Saturday night, I took Lucas to a local park for the annual fireworks extravaganza. Although the actual display doesn't begin until dark, there are a lot of, etc... and lots of kids running around before hand. Lucas had taken off to play, and I turned around to check where he was. At that moment, I saw a kid throw a Silly String aerosol can at Luke's feet. Lucas picked up the can and threw it back, at the kid's feet. All of a what seemed like slow motion...the kid picked up the can and in Roger Clemons style, threw it square at the back of my son's head. (the back only because Lucas spun around to protect his face)

I ran over to chase the kid and said "Where are your parents??" He stared at me and said "I'm not gonna tell YOU." At that moment, Lucas ran towards the kid to grab his shirt and the boy punched Lucas in the chest. It was horrible. Then he said, "You're bleeding" and sure enough there was a stream of blood coming from the back of Lucas' head.

Medics, police, security... no stitches, surprisingly, but it bled like a son-of-a-bitch. We knew who the kid was, so he and his parents came to the medic tent. The mother felt awful, but the dad said NOTHING. Not a thing. A police report was filed and a youth officer is going to visit the kid's house. The most amazing part? He was EIGHT years old. A little nasty 8 year old punk.

Then.... yesterday Lucas and I drove to Kingston, NY to visit my daughter in her new apartment. She recently moved out of her dad's house into a place with two roommates. The apartment? Really nice. The neighborhood? HORRIFYING. Dangerous. Crack addicts on the street...gangstas on every corner. And there's my little girl and her two girlfriends living in this war zone.

Her dad was supposed to have checked the place out. I should have known that he'd rationalized that it was ok because his wife wanted Emma to move out. (Even though she's only lived with them for 18 months.) Emma was depending on him to provide her with furniture, so he could have said no when he saw where this place was. Now I'm going to be worried about her constantly...I saw the place during the day. I cannot imagine what it's like at night. :(

So... I'm having a delightful parenting-angst weekend. I need a vacation.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Mixmania - Summer Mix

As a participant in Patriside's Mixmania game, I am posting the songs in my "Summer Mix". The only guidelines were that the songs had to remind me of summer... and all of these do.

My Boyfriend's Back - The Angels
I Only Want to Be With You - Dusty Springfield
Happy Together - The Turtles (I remember this being Number One for the entire summer)
Born to Run - Springsteen (c' can this NOT be on your list?)
Babylon - David Gray
Water of Love - Dire Straits
What's Love Got to Do With It - Tina Turner (played on the radio ad nauseum in the summer of '84)
Days Go By - Dirty Vegas
What is Love - Howard Jones
The Heart of the Matter - Don Henley
Soak Up the Sun - Sheryl Crow
Friday on My Mind - The Easybeats
When Doves Cry - Prince (also summer '84)
Don't Want to Fall in Love - Jane Child
God Only Knows - Beach Boys
Summer Nights - Grease
Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes

Friday, July 01, 2005