Christmas Came Early This Year

17 Nov

I was at another cross country meet early Saturday morning when my phone rang. It was my uncle asking what I was doing and what time I’d be home.

“That was weird,” I said to Dave after hanging up. “My Uncle John said he’s coming over this afternoon to bring us something.”

“What do you think it is?” he asked. My uncle lives about an hour away from us, so it had to be something that he really wanted to get rid of. Especially since we are going to his house for Thanksgiving in less than two weeks. (Ohmygod how is it possible that Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks?!)

“I have no idea. I hope it’s a car,” I joked. “Or maybe he won Lotto and is splitting up the money.”

“I don’t think it’s either of those things,” Dave said bringing me quickly back to reality and popping the Italian-villa-vacation, new-car, new-floors, new-windows Lotto-dream thought bubble that was forming inside my head.

“Are you sure?” I joked again. I really had no idea what my uncle could be bringing us. Maybe some old Coke bottles he found at a yard sale for Chandler’s collection. Or perhaps he and my aunt got a new bed and were bringing us their old mattress. He always joked that he was going to give me a lump of coal for Christmas. Maybe it was a really big lump. I was certainly intrigued.

I called Marley to tell her to please vacuum the den and make sure the bathroom was at the very least not gross. We clean our house on Sundays so by Monday morning Saturday it’s full red alert FEMA disaster status. People dropping in on a Saturday (without giving me at least 24 hours notice) and seeing my dog-haired, dusty, two-teenagers-live-here-and-I-work-full-time mess of a house is enough to make me break out in hives.

When my uncle got to the house he had me look in the back of his truck. I could not believe my eyes. It was not a mattress or old Coke bottles or even a really big lump of coal. It was unbelievable. It was a box for a 60 inch flat screen smart TV.

“You got us a TV?! Where did you get this? Did it fall off a truck?”

He laughed. “This is the box for my new TV,” he said. “I read on your blog that you still have a box TV so I thought you might like my old one. It’s a few years old, but it’s a 50 inch flat screen.”

Uh, yeah. I was at his house about a month ago watching football on his “old TV.” Let’s just say that it’s more than just a little bit better than watching football on the twenty-year old twenty-six inch box we have sitting inside our antiquated TV cabinet.

He and Dave carried in the TV, we did a bit of furniture rearranging (and behind the furniture ohmygod-I-can’t-believe-how-much-dog-hair-there-is-back-here vacuuming) and set up the TV that brings the Ross family into the 21st century. Mostly.

We are a bit tech un-savvy (I know, shocker!) and had a little trouble getting the TV to display a picture (which it turns out is kind of important), but I figured out the problem shortly after my uncle had to go. (Hint: it helps to attach the cable box to the cable cord coming out of your wall as well as to the TV.)

I can’t tell you how blown away Dave, Chandler, Marley and I are at my uncle’s generosity. (Even though it’s painfully obvious he was just trying to find a clever way to be mentioned in my blog.)

Dave was in heaven watching the final NASCAR race of the season. Football is a lot more exciting to watch on our new flat screen. The Walking Dead is a lot gorier. According to Dave and Chandler we never need to go to the movie theater again. I think having a houseful of teenagers for a movie/video game night is in our near future. We might even host a Superbowl party next year.

Thank you Uncle John. I love you.

And to anyone reading this who’d like to be mentioned in my blog -and who wouldn’t?!- have I mentioned we drive a 2000 Honda Civic and a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer? (I’m just sayin’….)

Movie Review – Muffin Top: A Love Story

11 Nov

Last week I was given the privilege of screening the movie  Muffin Top: A Love Story. And let me tell you, it was a privilege because this movie is LOL funny. Like, for reals.

Muffin Top: A Love Story is an awkward, sweet, funny movie made for chicks, by chicks. That’s right, a movie about women actually made by women. (So weird, right?) It’s the story of Suzanne (writer, director, producer Cathryn Michon), a Women’s Studies Pop Culture professor who studies images of women in the media for a living, and yet is still insecure about her body due to the myth of female perfection in our airbrushed culture.

Check out the trailer:

 

 

The movie tells us what we all know, but still don’t believe – that we are all beautiful and must learn to love ourselves before we can be loved. (Oh, and that supermodels are genetic freaks). Best of all it delivers this message in a way that will have you snorting your wine out your nose with hysterical laughter. And will also have you (shockingly) fall madly in love with David Arquette. (Seriously, who knew?)

If you love the awkwardness of The Office or Veep or Curb Your Enthusiasm, you will love it.

If you’re a woman who’s ever looked in the mirror and hated what she sees, you will love it and absolutely need to see it. (And if you haven’t I simultaneously want to punch you and kiss you. But mostly punch you. Because, really? Never?! You might be a little conceited.)

Muffin Top: A Love Story is available On Demand here. So grab some girlfriends, a few bottles of wine and plenty of chocolate and enjoy the funniest girls’-night-in you’ve had in a long while.

Or click this link to see if Muffin Top is coming to a movie theater in your town as a red carpet event and make it a girls’-night-out. Select cities will have cast member attending. (Hello David!)

But please, do yourself a favor and do see it. You’ll be so happy you did. And remember, supermodels are genetic freaks! you’re beautiful.

 

Running (Away) as Fast as He Can

3 Nov

I woke up two Saturdays ago to a 4:30 alarm. Chandler had to be on the bus at 5AM for a cross country meet and asked the night before if I’d make him breakfast-to-go so he could sleep until 4:45. I made him a fried egg sandwich (making sure to poke the yolk and fry it hard so it wouldn’t make a mess) and a protein shake and drove him to the bus. I made some much-needed coffee, putzed around a bit, walked the dog, ate breakfast and Dave and I were out the door by 6:30 (okay, we always run late – 6:45). We drove through downtown Los Angeles just as the sun was rising. Watching the sun peek over the mountains and reflect on the high rises was breathtaking. I would have taken a picture, but I was driving. Plus my windows were filthy. It probably wouldn’t have turned out anyway.

We got to the meet, found our team in the maze of pop-ups, and wished Chandler luck just before he was called to line up for his race. He was running the JV National race with 16 schools and 111 runners competing. This was JV so I was hoping for a strong finish from Chandler, but it was an elite race, so I wasn’t sure how he’d do.Dave and I and my friend Debby (a mother of one of the other runners) found what we hoped was a good vantage point to watch the beginning of the race.

If you’ve never seen a cross country race they are both fun and difficult to watch. It’s a three mile course so you can never really see all -or sometimes even much- of the race and have to criss-cross and run ahead of the runners to different parts of the course. How much of the race you see depends on the sight lines of the course and how much you’re willing to run around. We saw the race start and then headed over to the one-mile mark. When the runners passed us they were still all close together and Chandler was in the middle of the pack.

Mt. Sac JV National Race

This is one of the more difficult courses to see a lot of the race, especially if you want to see the finish because it’s such a large event and it’s difficult to navigate all the people. Debby and I decided to head right to the finish line so we wouldn’t miss the boys crossing. Dave decided to head down a little before the finish because they come out of a narrow chute and when you stand at the finish line that is literally all you can see.

As we were nearing the 15 minute mark we knew the boys would start crossing in the next minute or so and heard an announcement.

“Did he just say a runner from Agoura is in front?” Debby asked me.

It did sound like he said that, but it couldn’t be. Our school is a Division III school and we were running in a Division I & II race against bigger and better schools. The odds of one of our boys winning was slim.

“It sounded like it, but he must have said Great Oak,” I said. They’re the school that’s ranked #1 in California.

And then I heard my friend Marisa, who was standing across from us at the other side of the finish line yell, “Chandler, Chandler!”

And I screamed, “Whooooooooooo!” as I saw my son come up the chute and cross the finish line first.

I was in shock. These are schools we never run against, so I really didn’t know how Chandler would finish. Plus, he started off the season injured and this was his first race where he was back to feeling 100%. I know that he’s been disappointed this season not being able to run varsity, but there was no room for disappointment when he crossed that finish line with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. As proud as I was of him (and trust me I was), I was even happier for him.

Mt. Sac finish line

I always love to see Chandler race, but I’m especially trying to hold onto these proud moments this year. If I could, I’d squeeze them tightly in my hands and never let go. He is so anxious for college, it seems he already has one foot out the door. A year from now Chandler will be far away, running in college at races that I won’t be able to watch.

I knew this time would come faster than I wanted it to, but not nearly as fast as it has.

Even faster, than my fast, fast son.

Welcome to This Wonderful World

21 Oct

On Saturday morning I woke up at about 6:45, which was equal parts much too early and much too late. I walked the dog, came home and woke up Marley who surprisingly got up without the usual teenage grumble and we were out the door by 8:25 headed to my mom’s house. I was meeting my brother there, who was going to fix the ignition coil on my car and Marley and my mom were going to watch the Great Gatsby for the thousandth time because apparently you can never get enough Leonardo DiCaprio. (I don’t quite know how to break it to Marley that he’s pushing 40.)

I had planned on coercing my mom to do a Costco run with me (we were out of everything – surely she had to be out of everything too). I also had to pick up a few things at Target, maybe Bed Bath & Beyond. Then I’d head home and cheat on my hairdresser (again) with some long overdue root maintenance before meeting my girlfriends for a 6:00 dinner and then a concert at The Canyon Club.

But when I got to my mother’s my brother wasn’t there. I was slightly annoyed because I had rushed and was late (the story of my life) and had forgotten my Costco list and now wished I’d turned around to get it.

“Where’s Richard?” I asked my mom as I walked in.

“He’s at the hospital,” she answered.

And a smile spread across my face.

My little brother was about to become a grandfather.

“Did she have him?” I asked.

“Not yet,” my mom told me.

“Can we go to the hospital, Mom?” Marley asked me.

It was very considerate of my niece to have her baby on a Saturday so we could all be there. I was hoping for a speedy labor (for her comfort of course and not because I was rudely and selfishly thinking of my month-long plans with some girlfriends that I rarely get to see). She was only at four centimeters so we took our time and made eggs for breakfast; lingered a bit. I helped my mom clean up and made a new Costco list.

We headed over to the hospital a little after ten. My niece was doing great and we plopped down next to her boyfriend, my brother, his girlfriend. and my younger niece ready to meet the newest member of our family. At 11:30 Ashley was only at five centimeters and everyone was hungry so my mom and I decided to go to Costco and pick up a couple pizzas while we were there. My list was long, but we barreled through Costco knowing that the baby wouldn’t be coming for hours, but still nervous that we’d miss it if we took too long. We dropped the groceries off at my house, dumping them on the kitchen table and into the fridge (we’d worry about separating them later), gave Dave a couple slices of pizza and rushed back to the hospital. My older niece had joined the group and the pizzas (now warmish rather than hot) were devoured.

At 2:20, Ashley was moving steadily, but slowly. I took a risk and headed home to get ready for my night out, stopping for hair mascara along the way, taking my cheating on my hairdresser to a new low. At 3:40 my mom texted me 9 1/2 maybe 20 minutes. 30 minutes.

I unplugged my flat iron and flew out the door.  On my way I texted back. I made it to the hospital in 20 minutes flat.

He still wasn’t quite ready to come out yet. Wombs are warm and cozy places. The nurse came back in the room to check her at 5:00. “The baby’s coming,” she said as she went to call the doctor. Ashley’s boyfriend and her two sisters stayed with her. And even though she left our earth way too soon, I know the girls’ mother was there too. Marley sat on the floor outside the room. The rest of us headed to the waiting area down the hall.

A little while later Marley texted me The baby is out and we rushed back down the hall.

“How do you know the baby is out?” I asked as the door was still shut. “Did someone come out?”

“No, I can hear him crying,” she said and we all pressed our ears to the door.

At 5:37 PM I became a great-aunt. He was 7 pounds 7 ounces and perfect. Mama and baby were both doing fine.

newborn

Welcome to the world little man!

 

We congratulated the proud parents and took turns holding our new little treasure. We called and texted family far away. We Instagrammed. We Facebooked. We were in awe and in love with our new little family member.

About an hour later I drove my mom home and left Marley there. I’d missed dinner with my friends, but still had time to meet them at the club. As I was driving home to change I thought about Ashley and her new little family. She is so young – just one year out of high school, two weeks away from nineteen. Yeah, her life’s going to be hard. Motherhood is so damn hard.

But also so very wonderful. Quite possibly the most wonderful thing in the world. They are surrounded by love. They’ll be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

Women are Better Writers than Men (Obviously)

13 Oct

I love to read. And I love to write. (Actually I hate to write, but somehow feel compelled to torture myself by writing anyway. I’m quirky like that.) You’d think with all the reading and writing I do (which truth be told is not nearly as much as I’d like of either), my grammar would rock. But it doesn’t. It stinks.

If only there was a place that would do a grammar check for me. You know, sort of like an online English teacher at my beck and call whenever I needed her to make sure my formatting and sentence structure and punctuation were correct. Wait a minute, there is. And it’s called Grammarly. Yep, it’s as if your English teacher followed you home to remind you when to properly use lay or lie and was or were. (But this one won’t make you write a five paragraph expository essay on the theme of The Great Gatsby.)

Recently the fine people over at Grammarly took a poll of over 3,000 people to determine once and for all who are better writers – women or men. And it turns out that the ladies are the winners on this one. Hey, I like to read both male and female authors, but who am I to argue when over 3,000 people say girls are better than boys? Check out the results on the infographic below:

men-vs-women-writers-infograficmen-v-women-writers-infographic

women-vs-men-writers-infographic

women-v-men-writers-infographic

men-vs-women-writers-infographic-last

So you see – whenever people read what I write and think I take way too much time blathering on (and on and on) with my ridiculously long sentences what they need to realize is I’m writing descriptively. I’m developing my plot. And my characters. I’m being better.

Disclaimer: In exchange for writing this post Grammarly.com is donating $50 to Reading is Fundamental in my name. But please be assured that the belief that women are superior is not only held by me, but by 59% of the 3,000+ people polled above.

My Work Day Inside the Fishbowl

22 Sep

At work I sit behind big glass windows near the elevator, stairs, and restrooms on the top floor of my two-story open-air office building. Everyone coming to work, leaving work, using the restroom, and getting their mail has to pass by my office doors. I know the lazy-asses who take the elevator up from the parking garage and the even lazier-asses who take it down. (Down? Really?) Most take the stairs.

A few people look in and smile as they walk by. Everyone else looks straight ahead, ignoring me, as if by not acknowledging me with a friendly smile will somehow render them invisible and I won’t know that their morning coffee has kicked in. One older gentleman, a CPA named George, always waves. Enthusiastically. Sometimes he comes in to chat. (He takes the elevator, but I would put him in his late 60’s and he often brings his dog to work, so I do not place him in the lazy-ass category. He’s earned the elevator.)

About two or three months ago new tenants moved in a couple doors down. I didn’t think much about it until I saw him. Tall. Handsome. Dreamy. He comes to work in rolled up jeans and flip flops. Sometimes he wears a hat. Not a baseball hat. A dapper looking hat with a brim. I call him my work boyfriend. Watching him saunter by my office doors is the high point of my day. (My work day, I mean. Because going home to Dave and the kids and making them all dinner, and then having the kids roll their eyes at me as I try to be an active and involved parent by asking them about their day and then cleaning up the kitchen as everyone scatters to do homework and walk the dog is the true high point of my day. Obviously.)

Hot Boyfriend

I stole this from my friend Jessica’s Two Funny Brains Facebook Page. You should like her page. She’s M-F-ing funny!

When the new tenant’s name was posted on the office directory I googled them. (Oh, like you wouldn’t!) Entertainment law. Apparently entertainment lawyers dress a lot more casually than other types of lawyers.

He wears a wedding ring which is good, because I really can’t have him falling in love with me. I mean, I am a married woman after all. (But I think some office fantasy eye candy is allowed.)

In real life he wouldn’t be for me. He’s a total hipster. (I mean what kind of forty year old wears rolled up jeans?) And I hate hipsters. Not because I think they think they are better or cooler than me (which I’m sure they do), but because I think they are better and cooler than me. Well, maybe not better. But definitely cooler. (But then, everyone is cooler than me.)

Once, when Marley was about nine she said, “Girls who hate Katy Perry want to be Katy Perry.” (That girl is wise beyond her years.) Or maybe it was Taylor Swift. It was someone hateable/I-wish-that-were-me-able.

What? You don’t want to be Taylor Swift? Really?! A rich, famous twenty-four year old girl who dates tons of cute boys and whose job it is write platinum selling songs about how they broke her fragile little-girl heart and tour the world singing them. Yeah, I don’t want to be her either.

Taylor-Swift-Boyfriends

Yeah, who’d want to be her?

I’d much rather be me. Sitting in my fishbowl day in and day out. I don’t get to tour the world singing about the latest boy who broke my heart, but sometimes when my work boyfriend passes by my office doors he looks in and smiles at me.

Photo credits: Boyfriend someecard “borrowed” from here and Taylor Swift Boyfriend collage “borrowed” from here.

Book Review – Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford

10 Sep

I read a lot of books.

Okay, maybe not a lot. In my fantasy life I read a lot of books. I’m always reading something, but I’m a slow reader and only seem to have time to read before bed, and reading puts me to sleep so it takes me a really long time to read a book. Like, if someone says, “It’s a really fast read, it will take you two days,” it will probably take me two weeks.

But I digress… I read (not) a lot of books and I recommend them to my friends if I like them (You HAVE to read this book!), but so far I haven’t reviewed any on my blog. I don’t think. I’m too lazy (make that blazy) to look through my archives and check. So we’ll call this my first book review.

Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford

Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford

 

This is the story of Anne, a 27-year-old ambivalent college essay coach, and five of the students she is coaching through the college essay process. The author used to be a college essay coach herself, so she knows what she’s talking about. (Or rather writing about.) Remember when you The Devil Wears Prada and thought to yourself, “There is no way someone could treat their assistant that terribly,” but knew that there was? Or when you read The Nanny Diaries and thought, “I can’t believe there are parents that horrible,” but knew that there were? This book is like that, but about the college application process. Total insider stuff.

If you are a parent who is hoping to send your offspring to college one day, or just sent your child recently, I think you will enjoy this book immensely. And if you are like me, who is knee deep in the gut-wrenching, anxiety-inducing, nightmarishly overwhelming task of helping your child wade through The Common Application, you will love it.

If you don’t have kids, you can still read it, but I will admit that this book probably isn’t for you. (Unless you, yourself, just went through the college application process. Then trust me, you’ll dig it.)

Ms. Crawford, like our protagonist Anne, must have been very good at her job because she is one hell of a writer – this book is extremely well-written. It will piss you off, make you laugh out loud, and break your heart. It does a great job of fictionalizing the college application process, while also giving you some very good intel and insight.

Warning: You will want to hit most of the parents in the book upside the head with a very heavy laptop. On the flip side, you’ll be smugly patting yourself on the back, because you are certainly nothing like the helicopter parents and tiger moms in the book. At least I’m not. (No matter what Chandler says!)

So, if you like to read (a little or a lot) and have visions of your son or daughter attending Harvard, Stanford, or UCLA, or perhaps a highly selective liberal arts college, or even the state university ten miles away, I highly suggest reading this book. The earlier the better.

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