Saturday, December 31, 2016

Don't let the door hit you...

I'm reluctant to be one of these "2016 was the worst year evahhhhh!" people because people always say this at the end of the year, and rarely does everything magically change when midnight tips over into 12:01 January 1st.

Yes, we lost many of our childhood idols. But guess what - we're old. This is going to start happening a lot more frequently. For me, Paul and Ringo are still here, as are all of The Rolling Stones and The Who and Morrissey and Robert Smith and countless others. I'll take some small comfort in that.

Yes, Fuckface Von Clownstick will be sworn in which makes me so ill I feel like I'll never stop throwing up. But I'll never stop fighting him, either. And so will many people I know. So...there's that. 

Personally, 2016 rocked. It was the first year I made any significant money and could kind of exhale. My children drove me nuts but also stayed healthy and safe and grew and thrived. I managed the ups and downs in a relationship with a very cool person who loves us all dearly. I made many awesome upgrades to my house. The election of Fuckface Von Clownstick caused me to seek out and nurture some new friendships which could end up being very significant in my life. It's pretty awesome.

I had a VERY unpleasant lunch with a person who is part of a group I've been trying to extricate myself from for years - just some crappy bullies in our dance scene that caused me a lot of issues at last year's event. The lunch was not instigated by me - they wanted to further their argument that I don't "give them the respect they deserve". Basically they're a bunch of malignant narcissists (familiar much???) with zero self-awareness. Let's just say I stated very clearly and angrily that I was fed up with their fucking bullshit* (*exact words) and wouldn't be putting up with it anymore. And then stormed out. They are now boycotting my event. Good riddance!!! I am so relieved to have them out of my life. Nothing but good can come from this. It's been about twenty years coming.

Onward and upward to 2017!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Meh-mas in pictures

I survived the four day weekend! This is the first Christmas the boys were really able to play independently, and it was awesome. Could it be the tide has finally turned in that department? Despite the cold, wet weather we spent a lot of time outdoors, and yesterday after a long day at the park, the boys went into their room, closed the door, and played nicely with their toys for hours while I lay on the bed, incredulous. We all had a lovely time and I am excited for the holidays to be over and normal life to resume! Here are some highlights:





I hope you all had a good holiday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Of puppets and protests

Sunday we met up with the donor sibs to see an old school puppet show, then I went alone to downtown LA to join a protest for workers' rights.

There were quite a few white hippies such as myself who decided to join this largely Latino-union-service workers demonstration just to show solidarity and support. As we marched some women in hijabs eating at a local restaurant raised their fists, smiled and cheered us on. The only - I mean ONLY - good thing to come out of this nightmare is people coming together to support each others' rights. I plan on doing this as much as I can whether the issue has anything to do with me or not. 

So, that's 2016 for you. One minute you're wiping poopy butts at a puppet show, the next you're chanting "the people united will never be divided" in Spanish while marching. Welcome to the new world.

I posted in my feminist dancers' FB group that I'm canceling the beauty contest we normally have at my event because it's too sexist, and got a lot of support. As I suspected it had been making people uncomfortable for a while, so the timing is perfect to put that to rest and maybe find a better way to celebrate women. 

I feel "woke". I feel like I'm looking at things with entirely new eyes and nothing will ever be the same again. The last time I felt this way a lot of good things came out of it, so I'm hoping against hope that despite how scary everything is right now that somehow this will all go somewhere positive.

That or we'll be anihilated in four years.

You know, could go either way.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Keeping it together...kinda

Here we march on towards Christmas. Some of us aren't feeling much Christmas spirit. I am refusing to let The Orange Menace rob me of even this - but I have to admit that underneath my "in this moment, everything is still ok," zen-ness is the unpleasant reality that a) we're very likely on the cusp of a horrible time in world history, and b) as always, things are far from ok for most people in the world, at this moment or any other moment. 

You know it's bad when you hear news of another celebrity biting the dust and you can't help but think, "boy, they got out right in time," and find yourself feeling ever so slightly jealous. Can I just tell you how glad I am that my ultra-liberal and vocally political grandmother and aunt did not live to see this shit show???

But back to me and the kids. We were in quite a difficult behavior cycle until a couple of days ago when things seemed to settle down. I've come to believe behavior must be cyclical with little kids - it seems like we have a few weeks of the kids being pretty chill and well-behaved followed by a few of them pushing me to the brink of sanity. This weekend was THE WORST, kicked off by Bobby throwing a huge fit at the hairdressers because Theo got the fire truck chair he wanted (ughhh) and me responding by turning into a scary, screaming lunatic in public. I'm not entirely sure I can show my face there again after that display. I was shaken and depressed the entire rest of the weekend and am still recovering. Bobby, other than being bummed he gets no treats for a week, does not seem to care one whit. Which is both good and bad. For me, I am desperately trying to forgive myself for totally losing it and am giving myself as much time off as possible (i.e. using The Baby Kennel). 

I felt kind of crappy about dropping them there the occasional weekend day for no other reason than my needing a mental health break - until I saw some friends' kids' names on the register Saturday and the lady behind the counter commented they were there every Saturday and Sunday, and the parents work all week, too. So I'm not the only one! 

I will have them there Sat while I see a movie with a friend, and then Sunday a sitter while I go to another protest, this one for workers' rights. Then the marathon of two holiday weekends in a row with no childcare and school closed. God help me. And indeed, us all.


Monday, December 5, 2016


Dang it. I thought my new blogger app would allow me to upload a video of my adorable two-year-old calling Christmas "meh-mahs". But apparently not. So you'll just have to take my word for it.

Saturday was Christmas extravaganza with an all day decorating blitz - I was determined to go all-out with house lighting since I have the budget and man power for it - and the picture does not do it justice. The house looks unbelievably fabulous. Can't wait to invest in a giant santa sleigh and reindeer for the roof (next year).


Also, I do not recommend an all day Christmas decorating blitz while caring for a two year old and four year old. Theo fell and scraped his chin, then his elbow, then fell down the front steps. Bobby crapped his pants. There was tons of fighting, crushing of tree lights and ornaments, and demands to be first and pushing. It was fucking exhausting.

Luckily I got a pre-planned all day break from the kids the next day - lunch and a movie with a friend followed by dinner and a lecture featuring Gloria Steinem and Jill Holloway later that night, which was very inspiring.

I am keeping it together and forging ahead with holiday plans and ideas for a better life next year, but I'll be honest - the going is tough since the "election". I can't escape the feeling that the United States as we know it will cease to exist in our lifetime - that the eternal battle between northern and coastal liberal elites and rural right wingers which blew up once in the civil war, is going to finally come to a head again and blow us all apart for good. I don't want to think this but I just can't get around it. Maybe it's time for the great American Experiment to come to an end.

Merry Meh-mas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fall photos

Here are some of my favorite shots from this year's shoot earlier this month:







Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 5.0

This was my fifth Thanksgiving as a parent. I am tempted to say they get easier as the kids get older - maybe it's because they are now both in school so I could use free days for shopping/prepping, also since there are no longer babies that need to be breastfed and held, the physical demands are fewer. Also since I've now hosted the last three (?) years, I have a bit of a system. I made:

Two pumpkin pies
One apple pie
Mashed potatoes
Brussels sprouts in garlic and butter
Wild rice with pecans and butternut squash
Corn muffins
Green bean casserole
Real whipped cream for pies

The BF brought a pre-cooked turkey and stuffing. 

My sister and brother-in-law came from NY and the BF's sister and two nieces came; I wished all day I had a big house with lots of outdoor space and a separate big dining room/living room that could comfortably accommodate all those people; my tiny bungalow was bursting at the seams. Still, other than Theo smashing his face on the coffee table and bleeding profusely minutes before everyone showed up, and the younger of the nieces referring to my house as "creepy", everything went fine. 


The rest of the weekend we fought shitty weather - very cold (for LA) and intermittently wet which made outings difficult; we went to a botanical garden and the LA Auto Show which of course the boys loved:



I was exhausted a lot but not a boiling cauldron of rage like I was last year. I think a lot of it had to do with being more settled in my relationship and his no longer being a smoker. The amount of rage that would fill me when he would be constantly inconveniencing us all to go smoke was intense - I didn't notice how much I hated it and how angry it made me until it was gone. I'm so glad I put my foot down about that!

In other news, I am trying to get organized for Christmas. I am going to invite the donor siblings to a puppet show with us sometime next month - hopefully they'll be up for it. Occasionally Bobby will wistfully talk about wishing he had a sister and in my head I'm like, "I've got news for you, kid..." Still not sure when/how is the best way to talk to him about this stuff. He hasn't asked so I haven't told. Maybe when he turns five...? 

We had parent/teacher conferences in the last couple of weeks and both teachers remarked how happy the boys were. I guess I'm doing something right!

Oh, also, in case you haven't noticed, this is still going on...


Monday, November 14, 2016

Grabbing back

This is one of my favorite signs from Los Angeles' 8,000-strong anti-Trump march that I participated in Saturday:


Here is another: 


And another:

This is me:

To say that joining in this march was healing is an understatement. Seven of us met at my house to walk down to the Metro (we knew trying to drive and park would be totally impossible) and marched for hours all through downtown LA until we could march no more. Chants included "say it loud and say it clear, immigrants are welcome here!", "my body, my choice!" and "this is what democracy looks like!" It felt so good to move, to sweat, to yell. It was very cathartic. The sense of support from passers by was awesome. I'm going to the march on inaugural weekend in D.C. in January. Already got my hotel room booked. 

All of that was meant to steel me for the next day, Sunday, which was spending the entire day at Disneyland with an old friend who could get us in for free, who is one of those ugly, rabid Trump supporters calling all of us protesters whiny crybabies. Yes. She invited us some weeks ago before the vitriol got really out of hand, and even up until getting in the car to drive down there I was tempted to back out. But if I backed out it would only make me look petty - like I'm letting politics ruin friendships, that I'm putting my needs ahead of my children's, etc. I know she loves me and would never dare talk politics to me to my face. Which she didn't. But I was so tempted to answer one of her stupid "whiny" memes with "you know you're talking about me, right???"

But here's the thing. I know this officially makes me a horrible person, but I could give two fucks about Disneyland. I'm not from CA so I don't share the childhood nostalgia that many of my friends have. To me it's just another stupid overpriced amusement park that you just have to survive for a day so you can go home and lie down. So we survived it. The kids and boyfriend (native Californian) enjoyed it. Everyone got along and everything went smoothly. I simmered my usual boiling cauldron of rage quietly and counted down the minutes until we could get the fuck out of there, I could get some rest, and go tend to the new feminist dancer's private FB group I created so us women in the dance community can speak freely about this election without worrying about ruining business relationships. It's now 160 people strong and everyone's loving it, especially me, since I can now swear and sound irrational and not care about anyone (read: men) taking it as a sign that I'm hysterical and should be ignored. 

I'll be honest with you - I'm totally hating the day-to-day bullshit of parenting right now. I wish I could take comfort in the "normalcy" of raising kids and every day tasks...but all of it just annoys the shit out of me. It's because I've got this bigger cause in my life now - years of heavy activism in my future - and so things like taking out the garbage, cooking and filling sippy cups just seem so stupid and unimportant. I'm so glad I could leave the kids with a nanny all day so I could go protest - made me think of the early suffragetts leaving their children with nannies to go march, probably most often with their husbands' dire disapproval. She will also watch them when I fly to DC in January. 

My bandleader's wife very unexpectedly has become galvanized by this, too. She told me as we marched that after nearly dying of post-childbirth heart failure a few weeks ago she just isn't putting up with any bullshit anymore. Right on! 

Friday, November 11, 2016

On a tear

It's been very difficult to function all week. I feel profoundly traumatized and can't focus on anything but my rage. And the more people on Facebook or in the media who express any of the following sentiments, the angrier I get:

1. It's our democratic process, you have to accept it (NO we don't)
2. Stop whining and being a sore loser (did you people ever stop vilifying Obama? No? I didn't think so)
3. Reach out to the other side and see how they feel. Don't just be in your bubble. (I've been to the other side. It SUCKS)
4. It'll be ok. Don't worry. (No, it won't)

I'm not going to rant here but my experience on Facebook has been a fascinating sociological experiment. As soon as I started voicing my opinion about the results, all the koo koo birds started coming out from under their rocks and posting their gleeful gloating memes - Hillary on the guillotine, etc - on my posts. I would immediately delete them and unfriend. I also kept an eye on who was doing this to other people and deleted them before they got to me. Anyone being nasty or gloating on their own wall was unfriended because, really, who needs these ugly people? I unfriended about 20 people and I believe a few did me when I publicly invited people to. One crazy Christian chick followed me on to messenger after going on a rambling anti-gay rant and I let her have it hard. It's been non-stop confrontation and ugliness. Many of my friends have said they're getting off FB for a while because it's too upsetting. And I totally get that instinct. But.

For me it's been very galvanizing. I've always been a people pleaser who's afraid of confrontation and afraid of people thinking I was a bitch. So my FB persona has always been very light and neutral. But I think it's time to step it up a little, publicly and privately. There are some things going on with my business that I've ignored because, quite honestly, I've been too afraid. But I'm not now. 

Last night I sent a letter to the people who were being bullies online - those old friends of mine who weren't happy with my contests and so started attacking the event on FB - and told them their behavior was unacceptable and I've canceled the thing they were going to be in charge of next year.

Next, once I get a hold of his email, I'm going to formally ban that guy who was being a menace.

After that, I'm going to write to the guy who wanted to sell his vintage clothes at my event and was a huge pain in the ass and totally sneaky and underhanded and tell him that he is also banned.

Fuck you. FUCK all of you.

It's going to take a long time to undo a lifetime of fear and compliance - keeping one's head down just to get through feels way more comfortable. But it's time for me to be a better person, stand up for what's right, and face down the bullies. How can I teach my kids this if I'm not willing to do it myself???

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Last night, when it was clear all was lost, I went out on my porch and screamed as loudly as I could, "fuck you, you fucking piece of shit!!!"

I was screaming at Drumpf. But I was also screaming at that old white guy who told me I'd better constantly smile or be removed from the stage. I was screaming at all the old white guys who pinched and patted my ass as I was learning to swing dance. I screamed at the MANY men who have blatantly jerked off in front of me on subways, on the street, and in movie theaters. I screamed at the THOUSANDS of men who have made insulting sexist comments to me on the street with the sole aim of making me feel small. I screamed at the mechanics and contractors who have taken advantage of me because I'm a woman. I screamed at the Indian teenagers who yanked me into photos with them at the Taj Mahal and then pushed me away without so much as a hello or a thank you, because I am a woman and therefore an object they can use and throw away with impunity. 

I screamed until my throat was sore and my stomach churned. And just like this country, my screams fell on deaf ears, and nobody cared. They just evaporated into the dark night.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Yesterday began with dragging two kids out of bed two hours earlier than normal, packing up school stuff and costumes and giant veggie platters for the "snack party", hustling to find street parking since the school parking lot was closed, walking two said tired and disoriented kids several blocks with giant veggie platters and heavy bags full of crap to school and stuffing said tired and disoriented kids into costumes to participate in their preschool Halloween parade (which due to their disparate ages were two hours apart, requiring me to take one kid on an hour and a half car ride to kill time).  Good times.

I spent the remainder of the day catching up on my Sunday night HBO shows, which was lovely. 

Then came the evening marathon of trick or treating with a two-year-old and four-year-old in a dark, chaotic neighborhood with hoards of kids. My friend (nine months pregnant with her fourth child) and I occasionally pulled each other aside and whispered ihatethisihatethisihatethis

Here are some things you don't notice until you're trick or treating with a two-year-old and a four-year-old: dark streets, steps up to people's houses, cacti in lawns, rose bushes, dogs, tree roots pushing up sidewalks making them an obstacle course for toddlers. In the dark. With tons and tons of people pushing and shoving. It sucked. But.

Everything went ok. The kids were polite and delighted the kind people doing candy duty on their porches, looked cute in their costumes and seemed to enjoy it. And I secretly loved the fact that already the kids are having a kick ass childhood compared to mine - my childhood Halloweens in NYC meant gangs of hoodlums run amuck in the streets, eggs thrown in your face, racial epithets slung in your know, good wholesome fun for the whole family. Not.

We went to dinner at a local El Pollo Loco and there were several other families there having a much more stressful night than us. At one point an exhausted mom of three next to us hissed at her pouting tween daughter, "keep this up and I'll turn into the monster you wanted me to be." Yikes.

Still and all, despite nearly going into cardiac arrest at various moments, it was a good day. I'm going to let myself off the hook and just try to spend this week recovering, though.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ready, Set, Go!

The Boyfriend is giving 30 day notice at his apartment and moving in with me by December. Here we go!

I'm happy to say I feel really good about it and have no reservations. We had a very intense conversation about moving in a few weeks ago and really hammered out all of the remaining issues, almost all of which revolved around money.

I came to realize a fact - this is, he makes very little money. And will probably always make very little money, despite working his butt off. Basically, he's the working poor. I've been there. I need to let go of the dream that he might one day "hit it big" in his business. It might happen, but it might not. All my life I told myself, and anyone that would listen, that I don't care how much money a man makes, as long as he can cover himself and won't mooch off of me. As long as he's a hard worker, enjoys his work, and has integrity. Well, I've found all those things. Am I really going to break up with this man because his income doesn't reach some arbitrary number I have in my head? It's time to put up or shut up. 

So for now we have a financial plan that works for both of us. I'm sure this isn't the end of the conversation, and I know this stuff can get tricky. But you have to try things in life. 

I've never lived with anyone before; never even been close. I'm a little nervous, of course. Last night I asked him to promise me that he won't suddenly morph into a dangerous psychopath the minute he moves in here. He laughed. As one who's been divorced twice and lived with countless women, I'm sure this is old hat to him.

He's pretty much lived here since the minute we started dating anyway. With the exception of the couple of weeks when we broke up in June, he's spent all but maybe two nights a month at this house; we already share a closet and drawers. He has no stuff to speak of. So our day-to-day lives won't change except that he'll be giving me money now, which will be awesome. 

He did tell me when we had our big talk that I should be prepared that he may never want to get married again. This surprised me since all he's talked about for the last year is wanting to marry me. But I get it. I don't feel anywhere near ready for a step like that - and, really, marriage would only be a disadvantage to me since I'm the one with all the stuff (can you say iron-clad pre-nup?). But I do want to get married. Or maybe I just want a big party and a princess dress. It's hard to know what the real motivation is sometimes. goes nothin'!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Yesterday I attempted a social experiment on Facebook. It's rare that I post anything other than event stuff, pictures/anecdotes about the kids, or plugs for things I'm enjoying watching or listening to. But after a day of stewing I just felt compelled to speak out. And the results were fascinating.

To give the back story, the band played Denver this weekend. As always I was seated on stage when not singing, which is about 2/3 of the time (three hour evening). As often happens there wasn't much room on stage so I was kind of hidden behind a speaker, which makes what happened next all the more ironic.

Monday morning I wake up to an email sent to me and the bandleader cautiously advising that the writer (an older man guessing by his name, Hal - I don't know anyone under 65 who uses this nickname) had some criticism of me that "might sting" so don't read the email if I don't want to hear it. He said when I'm singing I am engaging and lovely, but when sitting on stage I look so bored and depressed that it puts a damper on the whole evening "for the whole audience" (ie the one or two people he bullied into agreeing with him) and that in future he suggests that I get seated somewhere out of view of the audience or off stage.

You know, because a woman's non-smiling, normal resting face is so upsetting to men that they need it to be removed from their existence so they can continue the fantasy that every woman in the room lives to please them and make them feel wanted and comfortable.

At first I took it as a (semi) legit criticism because I have actually been accused of this before...and so has every other singer I've ever mentioned this to. But the BF assured me this was just some old crank and to forget about it. "Fuck that guy" was his exact phrasing, as was my bandleader's when I texted him about it.

But as the day went on and I kept ruminating about it, it occurred to me that this was a uniquely female problem - your appearance, indeed your very essence, being criticized and commented on by men - in particular, men's constant exhortations that we smile more because we'd look so much prettier. And that this guy wasn't just an old crank but a gross chauvinist who felt he just had to put me in my place. For not being open, smiling, and giving the appearance of being sexually available, non-stop for three hours. Before long, I was boiling over with rage.

So I posted on Facebook, with the explanation that yes, I have a Resting Bitch Face, and gee, where do you think that came from? Maybe a lifetime of sexual harassment and intrusion? Did you ever think of that?

Not surprisingly, all of the women got it, but many of the men did not. That no, I did not post this to have everyone say, "but you're so pretty and talented!" nor "ahh screw that guy, why are you getting all worked up over some idiot? Forget about it!" I wanted people - men in particular - to really think about how they see, think about, and treat women. Really, really think about it. Why is a woman not smiling so offensive to you? Why should a fat woman cover her body and act ashamed of herself? Why is there something wrong with a woman who won't wear makeup, or skirts, or heels?

I think I may have reached a couple of people. In which case I did my job. But you know, I've been doing a lot of reading of/listening to Lindy West lately, and she's really inspired me. I feel like I don't want to be silent anymore. Women endure these stupid little aggressions every day of our lives and are so used to it we don't even think about it anymore. But you know what would be awesome? If maybe we mentioned it every time it happened so people would see how ubiquitous it is and how it's time to make a change. Instead of just "fuck that guy".

But really, fuck that guy. The sooner these aging chauvinists (I'm looking at you, Donald Trump) drop dead the better off we'll all be.

I've decided this is my new "sitting on stage face":


Monday, October 17, 2016


I don't want to jinx it, but things have been going pretty well around here. I kind of love fall with kids. There's lots to do and a lot of excitement - cooking and baking projects, Halloween stuff, school pictures - and for me, since the event is freshly over, lots of planning and budgeting.

My new shed is a day away from completion - and it is a masterpiece. It is not a shed. It is a fully functional living space - if you can forget the fact that you would have to drywall it first, and the fact that I cheaped out and chose to leave it on cinderblocks rather than pour a concrete foundation. But, yeah. Bobby has already claimed it as his teenaged room. Pictures to follow.

I am starting to worry about my tax burden this year. Even though I made a big fat pre-payment, I'm afraid of being slammed come March. So after everything is paid around here I may try to, for the first time in eleven years, make a contribution to my 401K. It probably won't help that much, but I'd rather that money go to my future self than the IRS. I wanted to do a big foundation project (repairs to my 110 year old foundation and house bolting) but that's a lot of dough. Still, with all the talk lately of us being "due for another big one" it's been on my mind. That and replacing my eleven year old emergency kit from the old shed. Lots of work still to do around here. 

Theo is talking up a storm - much like his brother, at 2 1/2 he suddenly started talking, even though a lot of it is hard to understand. Still, just being told "it's too hot" when he won't eat something is such a help. 

They do love each other, but boy are they brothers - there's tons of bossing around on Bobby's part, tons of annoying on Theo's part, and lots of good natured fighting that goes sour and requires me to step in and offer a "family hug" to two crying boys. I feel like I make someone apologize at least four times a day. It is exhausting. 

For the first time in his preschool career, Bobby is getting in trouble at school. Nothing major, but I have been pulled aside by his teachers more than once to ask if I could work on Bobby's listening and "being aware of his body". For some context, this does not mean he is a bad kid. One kid in his class gets an "incident report" written up pretty much every day, and the teachers always tell me that all of the kids were having a hard time listening that day, etc. Still, it bums me out. You want your kid to be so perfect. But in the end they're kids and of course they're going to misbehave. I still have a hard time dealing with this. I have snapped pretty bad a few times and had to apologize to him for yelling or getting mad. I always tell him I love him no matter what. The last thing on earth I ever want them to feel is that my love is conditional. 

In other news, Bobby has asked to play the violin. I don't know if this was just a momentary fancy or what, but I keep asking about it and he keeps wanting it, so I've been looking into it. There are a couple of schools near me that teach kids this little, and thank God allow for rentals of the instrument in case your kid loses interest. I don't have the slightest idea how to keep a four year old interested in practicing an instrument, or when/how to let them quit if they really want to quit. But the idea of little Bobby playing violin positively makes my heart sing. I hope it works out.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The sandwich generation

So many of my friends are experiencing the deaths or ailing of their parents. One referred to us as the Sandwich Generation - stuck between small children and aging parents, all of whom need lots of care and attention. It's hard.

A couple of weeks ago I dropped everything to attend a friend's mother's memorial service. When her older brother spoke, I was in a flood of tears as this man broke down on the podium and explained that he now understood the significance of "rending your garment" when grieving - he said that you grab your shirt at the neck and pull down, and it makes a visual representation of how you feel inside: a hole in your heart. 

Later I asked The Boyfriend how he felt when his mother died of skin cancer when he was a young man. He said, "you're not going to like this, but...for a long time I felt all alone in the world." This is exactly how I picture it - that even if your mother isn't in your life, even if she rejected and abandoned you, even if you never speak, that somehow from even before birth it is imprinted on us that as long as The Mother is still alive somewhere, we are protected and everything is ok. This is how I feel now. As many of you know, my parents are both out to lunch and we have no contact. Yet, they are alive, in Brazil, and somehow this gives me some bizarre comfort. The Parents are alive so I am ok. It makes no sense, but there it is. 

Both of them have been in poor health and so I worry about getting "the call" at any time. Today I heard my cell phone ringing but I was all sticky from eating a pomegranate with Theo and so ignored it. When I went to check it, it was an oddly formatted number that was identified simply as "Brazil". I immediately called my sister to see if she had gotten a call, but she hadn't, and there was never a voicemail or a call back (yet). I googled the area code and it was from a region of Brazil far away from both of them - but of course this doesn't mean much. 

For all I know the call was merely a coincidence - a wrong number from the one country I have a connection to. But it does make me think about what has been in my mind a lot lately. That one day - maybe today, maybe 20 years from now - my mother and father will die, and I will be left unprotected and all alone in the world. This isn't of course true, but I know it will feel that way. And even worse - one day I will have to leave these boys. And that thought crushes me far more.

I hope whenever the moment comes that I am left parentless - even more than I am now; even more than I have always been - that I allow myself to howl and rend my garment. If I allow myself to really feel it, then maybe I can allow myself to really move on.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pumpkin patch!

This weekend I took advantage of the one free day I had this month to take the kids to the pumpkin patch. I invited the donor siblings (twin three year old girls) and their moms, and a swell time was had by all. It's funny how four adults were barely enough to keep up with four kids. It was a bit like herding cats. Still, I had a much more enjoyable time this year than last. Perhaps a two year old and four year old are, in fact, easier to manage than a one and three year old? 

I bought tons of gourds to make a little display on our front stairs. At the moment it just looks like somebody dropped the groceries. I may move them to the porch in an effort to discourage theft - my neighborhood is still marginal at best. 





Then today, despite having no one to go play dress up with, I went to this annual 1920s event which was a blast. As I was stuffing myself into some shapewear so I could squeeze into this vintage dress, I remarked to Bobby, "why is this so hard to put on??" Without skipping a beat, he said, "because you're 44." I have no idea if he knew what he was saying, but kids do say the darnedest things, don't they?


In other news, The Boyfriend and I had a bit of a kerfuffle over money last week - ie, his never having any - but we seem to have worked it out. As of now, our major issues - his heavy smoking, his financial irresponsibility - have largely been resolved; he has mostly quit smoking (never smokes around us anymore and says he only smokes 1-2 a day at work and sometimes goes days with none at all), he is entirely up to date on his taxes and has a payment plan to pay the back taxes (only a few thousand). He's done everything I've asked of him. Now, he just has to get this business of his off the ground, which for reasons too complicated to go into here has been difficult until now. Do I believe he can do it? Believe me, I want to. Nothing would horrify me more than discovering that he, like my mother and father before him, is just a fantastical dreamer with nothing to show for it, full of empty promises and hot air. But I do know he would never expect me to support him, bankroll his dreams or subsidize his life, and I wouldn't if he asked (and he wouldn't). So, what next? Well, now he buckles down and goes for it the next couple of months, and if all goes well and he starts to make the money he expects to, then he can move in. It's exciting and terrifying all at once. Will we make it? Will anyone other than me and the kids ever live under this roof? Only time will tell!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Last days of summer

The shift from summer to fall is somewhat meaningless in Southern California. By mid-September we still face potentially a month of triple digit temperatures; no rain or chilly air will be felt until Thanksgiving, possibly even Christmas. Not complaining, mind you. It's just an odd fact I have not gotten used to even after 23 years "out here" as I like to call it. I tell Bobby fall is coming as I switch on the air conditioner and make sure they have plenty of ice water to get through the night. Cognitive dissonance at its best.

Last weekend I took the kids for haircuts, bought them used shoes and Halloween costumes (monkey for Theo, skeleton pirate for Bobby), took them to a playground, took them in the hot tub for desultory swimming lessons, and took Bobby to his very first concert, Kraftwerk in 3D at the Hollywood Bowl. He was very well behaved and loved it. The people around us gave him fist bumps and called him "little dude". I'm sure he'll never remember this, but I will.

I am still scrambling to tie up loose ends from my event - pay the hotel bill, follow up on uncashed checks, send an awkward email banning that guy from attending my event again - but I feel a lot more on top of it now than I did a week ago. I am hoping to tear down my old termite-ridden shed and build a new one in the next few weeks so I can finally have some proper storage for my event stuff, which is taking over the house.

I am also hoping to do a bit of refurbishment on myself, too. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis thing, maybe it's a the kids are finally getting older thing, but now that we are out of the high maintenance baby years and I have a sense of what my body will be like for the foreseeable future, I want to overhaul my general look. For a very long time I've been in ethnic hippie mode; as much as I love that stuff, I'm kind of sick of it. Also I feel like being a mom softens me up enough so I feel I'd rather harden up my look a bit. I went to Old Navy today and scored big time - looking for a combination of mod/punk/ska/80s/60s/50s stuff. My inspiration is the kick-ass Teddy girls of Britain in the 1950s. I think their general spirit embodies everything I think I am and still aspire to be:

It's nice to get to the point where you can focus on yourself a little, you know?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I believe this drawing by 4 1/2 year old Bobby sums up my attitude towards parenting right now:

I am still exhausted and fed up from the event, which is not helping, but oh man, is going back to being (nearly) full-time single mommy to two kids under five is fucking brutal. Once again I find myself gritting my teeth through each day with my endless mantra, ihatethisihatethisihatethis running through my head. 

Everything is a fight. Everything is a threat of punishment to get even the most basic things accomplished - putting shoes on, eating, peeing. I love that my kid (Bobby) is so irreverent and questioning of authority. But you know what I've discovered? Behind every awesome, kick-ass adult is an exhausted mother. There are memes going around Facebook of mothers praising their daughters' independence but wishing that independence wasn't asserting itself right now, in this supermarket. Right?

I don't know what the answer to this is. Does parenting ever get easier? More often these days I feel like it's gotten harder, not easier, as we shed the baby years and go full throttle into big kid stuff. And will only continue to get harder as they become less gullible and less easy to please. 

But five years into this game, I definitely still have the Stay at Home Mom Blues. I am considering having Theo at school five days a week instead of three, even if that will cost $300 more a month. I feel guilty even thinking about it. I may never make the call. But I am considering it. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Number nineteen

Well, back to our stupid lives!!!

Number nineteen (my nineteenth event) is in the bag. It went well. I don't even want to look at my bank account until all the checks have been cashed, my $10,000 hotel bill has been paid, and my credit card bill. Only then will I really know how I did. But it was a record year, so I'm not concerned.

The event wasn't without drama. My worst fear - that my bandleader's wife would go into labor two weeks early and leave the entire event rudderless - happened. We had a contingency plan, of course - but it meant a lot of careful guidance on my part; the guy left in charge of the band and contest music was a bit panicked and needed tons of handholding from me, and many disasters were narrowly averted. 

Some of my old friends ended up being real troublemakers. I am faced with the unpleasant task of banning someone who's been to every event since 1998 because apparently he's been preying on women the whole time, unbeknownst to me (oh, hi, Code of Conduct). And one friend attempting a comeback and failing has been railing on Facebook about how my judges suck, I suck, the event sucks, I only care about making money, with resultant sycophants cheering him on.

You know, the usual. 

In the past this kind of stuff would freak me the fuck out. Now? Meh. They'll all settle down. Maybe I'm getting used to handling malignant narcissists.

My tabulator came with his wife who has been battling stage 4 colon cancer. She was thin and frail, but she's here. A shag dancer in our circles who had been battling ovarian cancer died Monday morning. She was 31. 

And my bandleader is a new daddy. Sunrise, sunset. The profundity of this is not lost on me.

For now I'm still scrambling to tie up loose ends, get some rest, and reconnect with the mommy in me that has to be pushed aside for a few weeks each summer. Perhaps later I'll roll around naked in my money. I believe I've earned that.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Some kind of balance

In one week my event begins. I would say that I am a stress ball, but I'm not. There is very little left on my to-do list. Still more than I'd like at this point, but very little in the scheme of things.

The event is still shaping up to be my largest ever, with resultant multiplying issues and problems. We're all a little unprepared for an event of this magnitude. And with next year as my big 20 year celebration, I'm sure we'll have a similar experience. But in 2018 - what then? Still good attendance? A huge crash? These are questions we swing dance entrepreneurs have been asking ourselves since 1998, and yet we're still here. 

I am exhausted from long nights of paperwork and days of compulsive email and social media checking, yet am so hyped up that sitting quietly is kind of impossible, as much as I think I want that.

That is one thing about having a family - you have to be present for them; you have no choice. Right now diapers have to be changed, meals have to be cooked (and, of course, deposited in the garbage disposal untouched), baths administered, laundry done, etc etc. And like it or not, it does drag me out of the all-consuming insanity that the event becomes each summer. Tomorrow is the last weekend pre-event and I have to entertain them all day; I'm taking them to the baby kennel for a little while on Sunday but still have to make breakfast, dinner, etc. There will be no work accomplished for the next two days. And honestly, that is a good thing. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Quiet desperation

I'm sitting at a tire place getting a flat tire repaired. I got it on the freeway last night on my way to the hotel to meet my new floor guy to take measurements. Good times. Still, no harm done - got the car up and moving, did the walk through, and got home by midnight. Thank goodness for flexible babysitters and AAA.

I had lunch with my old Nemesis the other day - which I do often. We have maintained a very positive and enjoyable friendship despite my all-consuming jealousy of her initially; I'm so glad I kept it to myself and just let it (eventually) pass as we both went on to have two children and live (mostly) happy lives. She was laid off from a high powered executive job in November and has not been able to get a new job since despite endless interviews and resume send outs. I really feel for her - I can't imagine trying to find a job in today's environment. Then she tells me - as I had suspected when she walked in - that she is pregnant again, and is in utter despair about it. She had no intention of ever having a third child and is distraught that this will make ever resuming her career that much more difficult. I really felt for her. Despite one mumsy moment when I had Theo, I quickly realized a third child in our lives would be an utter disaster, and push things from my usual "barely hanging on by the tip of my fingernails" to just falling right off that cliff. 

It's so funny how you go from being desperate to not have a baby to being desperate to have a baby to being desperate to not have a baby. I wonder how many third babies are brought into the world being unwanted but grudgingly tolerated. I wonder how many women of more than two children are boiling cauldrons of resentment. 

Is this why women in the sixties lived under hazes of Valium and booze?

I feel like there is a tipping point between two children being manageable and still being able to have somewhat of a life and having three and giving over to being consumed by family life. And many people want this, and that's great. But for me - no. Not one bit. I'm barely cutting it as it is, and this is only because I spend thousands a month on childcare even though I'm technically a stay at home mom. 

To those of you who adore little children and want nothing more to be in their presence, I salute you. The world needs you and you are awesome. I, on the other hand, especially this time of year when I have mountains of work and 800 other people that need my attention, am not that person.

Even though Bobby is starting kindergarten in just a year, I often despair when I think of how many years of my life are still going to be devoted to "little kid" stuff - diapers, major food issues, having to do everything for three people. It's three more years of having a preschooler when it comes to Theo; and when Bobby starts kindergarten our lives are going to turn upside down and not in a good way. We'll have to be up at 6 AM every day for the rest of our lives, and to try to align Theo's preschool schedule with Bobby's kindergarten schedule will cost about $1000 more a month, and even then I'll still be doing full childcare four days a week. The years 2017-2019 are going to suck. So I am going to enjoy this last leisurely year to the fullest. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Superman in heels

This is Bobby modeling his superman cape and my shoes from last night's gig.

I'm delighted when I think how cool and progressive our kids are going to be. It all starts with momma's heels.

Tomorrow we finally get together with Bobby & Theo's "diblings" - twin girls about to turn three. For now I have decided to not make a big deal about it and just tell Bobby we're meeting up with friends - we'll be at a playground where all four kids will probably run off in four directions anyway - and if it becomes a regular thing then maybe have "the talk" about his origins and who these girls are. I think that would all be over his head at the moment and he hasn't asked so I haven't been in a rush to tell him. He knows we're just a mommy family (without use of the word "just" of course!) and that he mysteriously came out of my belly, but that's about it. 

I am flirting with the idea of starting a Facebook group with our donor number to see if anyone finds us. I'll run it by the girls' moms and see if they'd be interested. Even though much of my interest in donor siblings has waned since having Theo (largely just because my plate is more than full at the moment) I do still think it would be great to have a network of half-siblings for the boys if they want access some day.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Three weeks

Today I came home to the puzzling sight of my garage door closed. But it didn't look like my garage door - it was so dark from years of dirt from not being used that it looked like a cool vintage-y copper door, which in my foolishness I thought someone had "surprise" installed for me, like the BF or my sister or the neighborhood council that once painted over all the graffiti on the garage walls. But upon closer look it was in fact my old door just pulled down (years ago the automatic door closer stopped working and I just never fixed it) - and as I bent down to wrench it open, I smelled the stench of stale cigarettes, and to my horror, discovered a homeless guy camped out in there with all his stuff. 

I blurted out, "excuse me!!! I need to park here now!" And he grumbled some curses at me and trundled along, leaving all his crap behind for me to clean up, not to mention all my wires pulled down and everything just a big mess. 

I'm pretty rattled. That garage has been the bane of my existence for some time, but to make it so I can fit an actual car in it and close the door might require extensive and expensive (and possibly not even permittable) renovations. Still, I think it's time I get an estimate. If nothing else it can be something I can work towards. Between my garage being vandalized, my car repeatedly broken into, and now this, I think I need to just find the money. 

In other news, Bobby's poop situation is *somewhat* resolved. It culminated in me just having to pin him down and clean him out and put on balm over and over and then force him to sit on the potty and poop every night, all amidst screaming and crying. It's been a nightmare. But at least we're at the end of the nightmare. 

There are only three full weeks left until my event. I have to work my butt off every day and every night until Labor Day. I feel like I can do it...I think I can do it. In the meantime in between answering emails we did get a lovely couple of hours in the park today.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Everything is poop

So, Bobby is having one of his yearly strange constipation/fear of poop episodes, and it is driving me to drink.

It started with him suddenly not pooping in the potty anymore but instead going in his overnight diaper, which was a bit disappointing but I figured was just a minor setback. But then he didn't go for a couple of days, and then...uh oh...started that weird, pained clenching where he refuses to go, but then little bits squeeze out anyway, and then he picks at it all day, and it gets red and sore, and then he won't poop because his butt hurts, and he won't let me wipe it, and then his butt hurts more, and then he's up all night screaming because it hurts. This has been going on for days and I am so fucking over it I could drive us all off a cliff. 

My entire life has been washing out shitty underpants, pleading with and cajoling him to please try to sit on the toilet, please let me clean him up, please let me get some balm in there so at least it won't hurt so much, all of which is met with screaming and crying. This is all we do all day and all night long. It's a fucking nightmare that just never ends. 

What happens when he's at school? Nothing, I'm assuming. He comes home picking his butt and with underwear full of shit I have to clean up, and then he spends all night clenching and screaming and crying. 

Today I snuck some miralax into his water although he hasn't drunk any yet, and have been putting lots of diaper rash cream on his butt (all amidst tons of screaming and crying and refusal) in the vague hopes that it might make things at least somewhat better.

We're supposed to spend all day at the Ventura county fair tomorrow as my sister's visiting and I'm going to pull him out of school so we can spend one day together. Just praying we can make it through. 

I'm so stressed out I'm pulling random muscles and stubbing toes on furniture that hasn't moved position in fifteen years. Stick a fork in me - I'm DONE.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hitting the ground running

I'm hitting the ground running upon return. There is so much to do in such a short amount of time. My event - the biggest one in my nineteen years of operation by about an extra 25% - looms five weeks away. Despite all the jobs I've delegated out, most of it still falls on my shoulders, mainly, the every day work of processing orders and customer service. Because of our numbers I've had to add new things - extra classes, extra rooms, parking options - that are all more work and more money from my end. Bigger is not always better. I told my sister, until I'm rolling around in all my money naked, none of this extra work and stress feels worth it. Perhaps I'll feel differently on September 6th.

Theo is starting to use the potty, and Bobby is pretty much staying dry all night with the exception of the occasional maddening poop. I am reveling in the first event prep summer in which I am not doing childcare 100% of the time. To be honest I don't really get much work done during the daytime - I'm too acclimated to working at night at this point - but it's a great time for work phone calls and complicated errands. The other day I even got in the pool for a few minutes, a dream of mine since 2012. 

Theo is becoming quite the little man lately - he speaks in full sentences, just not ones we can understand. He is taller and thinner and no longer has his fat little belly. He and brother sleep in the same bed every night which is beyond adorable. He has become a sporadic eater and cannot sit still during mealtimes, which drives me nuts, but thankfully I went through this once before so I know what to expect.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Back to my stupid life!

Welp, I'm baaaack! 

Despite my wicked sunburn I had a really good time. I think The Big Island runs a very close second to my favorite Hawaiian island, Kauai. I picked an excellent travel companion in my friend Nancy. She was fun and up for anything and easy going. Everyone should be like this!

We saw caves, beaches, waterfalls, and volcanoes. We did a nighttime manta ray snorkel tour which was awesome. I won't lie - jumping into dark ocean water and hanging on to a questionable surfboard/pvc pipe contraption while waiting for the giant sea creatures to arrive had me a bit panicky and questioning my life choices. But they were serene and friendly and a few deep breathing exercises and I forgot that my throat felt like it was going to close up and choke me. Win win.

We did a snorkel tour of a few prime spots on Monday which was neat. I finally got a lot of use out of my snorkel set I bought during an ill-advised attempt at scuba diving some years ago. With the help of a 30spf t shirt I managed to do no further damage to my crimson back. When I go back to any part of Hawaii I am wearing these every time I go to the beach. Not sexy at all but it's clear to me now that sunscreen cannot be trusted that close to the equator, not for me anyway.

Highlights? Pretty much everything we did was awesome, thanks to extensive research on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Every attraction was fun and all the restaurants top notch. Between this and gps, vacations are a snap these days. How did we ever function without them???

First black sand beach! Fascinating! And with turtles...

A blissful moment on Hapuna beach before I burned the shit out of myself...

Farmer's market in Waimea where I bought $70 worth of jams that should show up in two weeks - yippee!

Rainbow Falls where I want to spend a whole day next time:

And Kapopo tide pools, also worth an entire day but we ran out of time:

Lovely birthday dinner on Sunday at Merrimen's in Waimea - I turned 44 in style!

Snorkeling around Captain Cook monument - crazy reef that drops off to over 120 feet deep:

Kaumana caves with graffiti from the teens and twenties:

And a final lovely sunset dinner on the beach last night:

It was a great trip. The pain from sunburn on my back and legs put a little damper on things, but didn't ruin it. Also having to drive two hours to get anywhere kind of sucked - they don't call it The Big Island for nothin' - but allowed for lots of good conversation and roadside discoveries. We would have had to spend a month there to even begin to get through all of the things I wanted to see and do. Guess I'll just have to come back a few more times! 

I read The Course of Love written by the guy who spoke on the This American Life episode about relationships that changed my life, and it was excellent. I also chipped away at The Denial of Death which was fascinating. Can't wait to really delve into that once my event is over.

Speaking of my event...well, a million people are signed up* (*slight exaggeration) and that's great and all, but it's causing lots of logistical problems. Our discounted room block is sold out and everyone is freaking out because they thought they still had a month to get a room. I am trying to arrange an overflow situation at a hotel nearby. The contests are filling up, and I have decided to spend the $10,000 or so to add another class track just to take the pressure off the other now overcrowded classes. Everyone wants special considerations, partial refunds, their own hotel room, me to fix all their problems and make everything ok. Oh, and I was called out online for suggesting on my website that it's not polite to turn down a dance and then turn around and dance with someone else - common dance floor etiquette that has been blown up into an attack on women having control of their own bodies and that I'm condoning rape culture. Yes. This is the kind of crap I have to deal with. Good times. So yeah, the event is successful and that's great and everything, but ughhhhhhhh

The BF snuck cute birthday and anniversary cards in my luggage and signed one from the boys. Awwww. 

The boys did great in my absence and even tried some new foods (yay). I admit I did miss them a lot and got a little weepy looking at all the tanned little kids running around on the beach, thinking about what a kick they would get out of it. I really hope we can have some lovely visits there with extended family someday. But for now my perhaps last single gals' trip was a blast and I'm so glad I went. 

Now...back to my stupid life!!!