Are Yours Real or Fake?

21 Aug

When I first started blogging I didn’t really think about it. I just jumped in and started to write. I chose my name as my blog handle instead of something clever and cute because I wanted to get my name out there (and because try as I might I’m really not that clever and too old to be cute).

And one of the things I didn’t really consider was whether or not I should use my children’s real names when I blog. Some people do, some people don’t, but the point is, it wasn’t even a consideration with me. On my very first blog I wrote about my kids’ inability to get along and just typed out their little names for everyone in cyberspace to see.

Hello, Bad Mom of the Year Award 2008.

Of course I may be a bad mom putting my kids’ names along with their private business onto people’s computer screens, but I always change or eliminate my friends’ names when I have a funny or potentially embarrassing story about a girlfriend to tell.

For example, last week when my girlfriend told me that she was mortified because her cleaning lady found her vibrator under her bed and placed it standing up and her night table, I told her that that would definitely be something I’d have to work into my blog. (See how I just did that?)

“If you use my name I’ll sue you,” she told me.

“I would never,” I said. And I won’t.

Yes, I am a bad mom, but really, really good friend.

I have another concern as well: as my kids get older and I tell the world my story, do I have the right to tell theirs? I’m not very discrete and I know that I tend to over-share, but I really don’t tell all of it. Trust me, there are so many gems I would love to write about as they would be fantastic, interesting, sweet, funny blogs, but I don’t in the name of privacy. (And let me tell you – it kills me I keep them to myself!)

I’ve thought about going through every blog I’ve ever posted and changing my kid’s names, but considering I’ve written well over 100 and can’t even get to the things on my list that would only take 5 minutes of my time (some of which are incredibly & ridiculously important), I don’t see it happening any time soon.

And I wonder too, why does it really matter? I’m just a suburban mom who writes a little blog. I don’t think anyone cares or has given it any thought. (Until, you know, now.) We all know the names of famous people’s kids. Why not un-famous people’s kids?

Am I harming them? Have I told too much? Eh, that’s what psychiatrists’ couches are for.

Six years into blogging and seventeen and a half years into motherhood and I’m still trying to figure this whole Internet and blogging and motherhood thing out.

Has anybody really figured it out?

*Edited and slightly updated this post first appeared on the now-defunct skirt.com blog on January 10, 2011.

 

You’ve Got Spam

1 Aug

I’ve become lazy with my blog. No. Make that blazy. (Have you noticed?)

But that hasn’t stopped the spam from coming. Usually it gets detected by my Akismet app, goes directly into the spam folder and I ignore it. I do skim the folder occasionally. Usually it’s someone hawking SEO or designer purses or weight loss pills in poorly worded English. Something like this:

It was hard to find your posts in google. I found it on 17 place, you should build a lot of quality backlinks , it will help you to get more visitors. I know how to help you, just search in google – k2 seo tricks

Thanks, but I like to keep my blog hard to find. You know, exclusive. Like one of those trendy clubs without a name or address on the door. Keep the riff raff (and 99.999999% of the blog reading population) out.

Sometimes the spam will compliment my writing in hopes of me clicking onto their website. (I guess?)

I especially like this one from a blog called Education Bandwagon:

I believe that is one of the so much significant information for me. And i’m glad studying your article. Howwever want to observation on few basic issues, The web site taste is perfect, the articles is actually great :D. Just right job, cheers

Oh, I’ll be hopping on that Education Bandwagon alright! I hope they’re a tutoring site. Chandler needs some help getting his SATs up.

Every once in a while the spam slips through and ends up in my comments waiting to be approved. And those ones are the weirdest of all. Like this one for example:

This build-up of abdominal muscles will push out against the fat and make your belly fat to appear larger and thicker.
It can cause you to collect fat specifically in your abdomen.

(Okay, you’re obviously selling some sort of diet pill. But then the next sentence says…) 

Considering that the estimated total number of breeding African penguins in 2010 is equivalent to the number of penguins rescued in the Treasure oil spill just 10 years earlier,is cause for grave concern.

Um… what?!

And then there was this one…

Lawat leaf extracts are traditionally used in preventing hair loss, promoting hair growth and releaving itchiness and skin inflammation. It can affect the appearance, confidence, and maybe even the self esteem of a person.

(Okay, so this time, some sort of hair loss prevention site. But then…) 

She did not seem too enthusiastic about it and claimed that she had just been to the toilet and did not feel like peeing any more.

Yeah, and you thought the penguin thing was weird, right? I mean does she not want to pee because she’s losing her hair? I’m confused.

The weird search terms keep coming in as well. Here are a few of my recent favorites for your amusement:

ジョニーウィアー ウェディング (Thanks to Google translator I know that this means “Johnny Weir Wedding” in Japanese. The crazy thing is three people searched for it. Yes. In Japanese.)

spongebob ross or pants (uh, that’s Spongebob Square Pants, Silly!)

charlene bad mom (I am not!)

what the hell is vajazzling (It’s this!)

And a special shout out to all of you who are looking for pictures of Bradley Cooper or Enrique Iglesias shirtless or naked – you are my people!

So yes, I’ve become blazy. My muse has checked out, gone on vacation. Perhaps she’s in Europe with half of my Facebook friends. I look forward to her speedy return. But hopefully I’ve managed to amuse you in her absence.

My Grandmother’s Candy Dish

17 Jul

 

 

One of my strongest childhood memories is of my grandmother’s candy dish. It sat on a table in her living room between her couch and the front door. It was almost always filled with M&Ms. Sometimes they were peanut, usually they were plain, but any other candy would be sacrilege.

No trip to Grandma’s was complete without reaching into the candy dish for a little nibble.

When we were children my brother and my cousin and I would try to sneak into the candy dish as the grown-ups were usually in the kitchen or in the den. Of course this was no easy task as the candy dish has a lid with little tines that must be matched with the scalloped edges of the dish in order fit properly. This results in a sound being made every time the dish is closed. Ting.

Candy Dish with M&Ms

 

“Who’s in the candy dish?” was always the call of my grandmother from the other room no matter how carefully you put that lid on. I am telling you after a lifetime of trying, it is almost impossible to put that lid on without making a sound.

Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, the call would be, “It’s empty,” as if you didn’t already see that cursing the fact that not only did you get caught trying to sneak candy but there was nothing to actually sneak.

The funny thing is my grandmother would always say yes if you asked her if you could have some candy. (Of course mom might say no.)

The candy dish was my great grandmother’s originally and my mother and her brother played the same candy sneaking game when they were kids.

When my grandmother came to live with my mother the last six years of her life of course the candy dish came too. It now sits on the bar of my mother’s sun room.

Yesterday I was at my mom’s house with Marley and my mom and I heard the familiar ting of the candy dish lid.

“Who’s in the candy dish,” my mother called though of course there could only be one answer.

“You know that candy dish is mine,” I told my mother. “I’m calling it right now.”

“Good luck,” she said. “Everyone wants that dish.”

“Well I only have to fight Richard and Carrie,” I said referring to my brother and my cousin.   “And I’m the oldest.”

“Christine and Jason want it too,” she said referring to my step-sister and brother.

“No way. They’ve only been in the family 25 years and I’m older than them too.”

The funny thing is the dish does not go with the décor of my house at all. If I saw it at an antique store I wouldn’t give it a second glance. But I don’t care. The ting of the lid brings me back to my childhood every time I hear it.

Like the scent of someone’s cologne can take you back to that crush on your college professor or the smell of the air after it rains can bring you back splashing in puddles on the street you grew up,  the sound of that candy dish brings me back to my grandparent’s home…

To spending hours going through my grandmother’s dresser drawers and walk-in closet to play with her costume jewelry and try on her silver high-heel shoes.

To fuzzing the top of my grandfather’s buzz-cut-head as he sat in his easy chair in his zippered jumpsuit lovingly calling me a pesty kid.

To my grandmother rolling across the kitchen floor to get something she left on the counter on her wheeled dinette chair rather than get up.

To my grandparents hugs. To my grandparents kisses.

Oh how I ache for more of their hugs and their kisses.

Ting

That candy dish is mine.

 

Milk Glass Candy Dish

 

This piece originally appeared on skirt.com on March 7, 2011.

Things That are Bad for You

3 Jul

Last week I had my writers’ group over to my house. I was speaking to my uncle before my friends came over and he said I had to wear the present that he and my aunt gave me for my birthday. They gave me an apron. And while that doesn’t really seem like something one would wear to a writers group, because I am a good niece, I did.

Wine-how-classy-people-get-wasted

So nice to know I’m classy!

You may wonder what one does at a writers’ group, so I will tell you. We drink a lot of wine and talk too much about things that have nothing to do with writing. (So it turns out wearing the apron was a good fit after all.)

Actually we do have an agenda. We chit-chat for about 30 minutes as people are showing up, we have a writing prompt and spend 10 minutes writing whatever that prompt brings to mind, we all read our prompts aloud, then we each have ten minutes to discuss our goals for the next month. We can also send over a piece we’ve been working on before the meeting for feedback. If we were orderly this would all take about two hours. It usually takes four. (Mostly due to the drinking and talking too much about non-writerly things.)

I was in charge of the prompt (which can be a word or a phrase or even a question) and I chose “things that are bad for you.” The great thing about writing prompts is the varied responses from everyone. I love to hear my clever and creative friends read their prompts aloud.

Kim did not like my prompt. She started to write a story that was very similar the piece she’d emailed earlier in the day for feedback, but she felt that story had already been told, so she crossed it out and just made a list. I thought her list was fantastic as it wasn’t really a list of things that are bad for “you,” (as in everyone), but rather things that were bad for her.

And with 2014 officially half over, on this 19th day of my 49th year, the year I am trying to make productive, trying to make count, trying to make matter, it inspired me to make a list of my own. Because I want to stop doing things that are bad for me. And I have always found that things are so much easier to achieve when I have a list.

 

Things that are bad for me

  • Staying up late
  • Time-sucking activities (Candy Crush I’m talking to you!)
  • Procrastinating
  • Being late
  • A third glass of wine. (Not that I ever have that!)
  • A second cup of coffee
  • Forgetting what the words “portion control” mean (What do they mean again?)
  • Not writing
  • Not working out
  • Not stretching
  • Not making lists
  • Chandler being gone for 5 1/2 weeks (though this is very good for Chandler)
  • Being forgetful
  • Being unorganized
  • Jealousy
  • Self-doubt
  • Lack of motivation
  • Being lazy (especially when my laziness becomes blazy, which is a term my writer’s group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness. We’d campaign to get the word into next year’s Merriam Webster, but that would take way too much effort, thus being the exact opposite of blazy.)
  • Excuses (see above)

I could probably go on and think of 20 things that are bad for me instead of only 19, but I’m blazy remember?. Besides, I feel myself bordering on negativity. And that’s not my style. Perhaps I will counteract this post with a post listing things that are good for me. (Like Bradley Cooper obviously.)

Bradley-Cooper-shirtless

Yeah, I chose a picture of Bradley Cooper shirtless. You’re welcome.

 

Oh, and my kids, of course.

But as I said, another post.

I’d love to know… what are some things that are bad for you?

 

 

Suburban Moms Go Acoustic with Mikey Wax

24 Jun

This was originally posted on skirt.com on January 31, 2011. It’s been edited. Heavily. (Though, probably still not nearly enough.)

I’m reposting because my friend Mikey Wax is performing at Hotel Café on Tuesday, July 1. You should go see him. Here’s why…

Hearing live music is one of my greatest loves in life. Innocently flirting with cute young boys is another. Last Monday night I hit the jackpot and go to do both.

My daughter’s elementary school held a fundraiser that was a little bit outside the box. It was the brainstorm of super cool mom who’s really into new music and an artist named Mikey Wax caught her attention.

And for good reason – he’s incredibly talented. (And super cute…in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, Mikey performs concerts at people’s houses. For free. All you have to do is guarantee 25 people and he will make it out to your house to perform for you and your closest friends in the hopes of building a fan base and selling his CDs. (And trust me once you hear him perform you’ll be buying a CD!)

Debbie saw that he was planning a trip from his home state of New York out to California for some shows, booked a date with him, and created a Mom’s Acoustic Night Out fundraiser. Tickets were only $10 and seating was limited to 50 people.  We held the show in the school library and Debbie turned our library into a funky coffee house by ditching the fluorescent bulbs and bringing lamps and candles and twinkly lights. There was tea and bubbly water and baked goods. (Oh, if only we weren’t on school property and could have had wine!) She even made laminated passes for everyone.

As school fundraisers go, it was pretty awesome. Mostly because Mikey was awesome.

 

mikey-wax-house-concert

Photo of Mikey Wax courtesy of Laura Starks Photography

 

His voice was amazing and his songs were just fantastic. He’s young and adorable and has a really great presence about him. Hello suburban cougar moms – having this guy serenade you and your mommy friends in an intimate setting is even better than flirting with a hot waiter. (And everyone knows how much I love to do that!)

Before the show he was chatting with my friend Laura and me and telling us about his house tours and how he usually stays at hotels, but sometimes ends up crashing at the house where he plays.

“Where are you staying tonight?” Laura asked him. “You know Charlene’s happily married but she really likes young guys. Do you want to stay at her house?”

Yeah I love it when my friends whore me out.

 “Oh, and my husband is out of town. Hmmm, how could we explain it to the kids?” I said.

I think he might have blushed.

“Don’t worry, I’m kidding,” I said. Then I turned to Laura, “You know you’re kind of embarrassing me. I usually like to have these conversations after a few cocktails, not at the school library.”

After the show a few of us took him out for a drink and bought him some dinner. (Oh, shut up!)

He was pretty enamored with Southern California. Of course every east coaster who visits in January is enamored with Southern California. What’s not to love – it’s sunny and 75 degrees outside. Sunny and 75 in January is the reason why tiny little houses with ugly backyards and no closet space cost over a half a million dollars.

He talked about his musical influences and growing up in Long Island listening to Billy Joel.

When I was 25 or 26 I went to a wedding in Long Island that was next door to Billy Joel’s house and at one point Billy Joel just came over, uninvited, and started wandering around the pool area where everyone was having cocktails.

“Wow,” he said, “when was that? In the 90’s or something?”

I thought back, “Yeah, I guess it was in 1991.”

You know, back when Mikey was six!

That’s when I realized my time flirting with a cute musician was over and it was officially time to go home.

Watch this video of Mikey and become an instant fan.

Then go see him next Tuesday night at Hotel Café. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased here.

Or if that’s not possible contact Mikey for a house show. You’ll be the coolest mom in your ‘hood and get to hang out with a cute musician.

That, my friend, is what I call a win!

 

 

 

 

 

The First Day of my 49th Year

18 Jun

On the first day of my 49th year I woke up early like I always do. But I did not write. I was not productive. Sometimes I wonder why I get up before the sun only to be lazy. But because it was my birthday I allowed myself the indulgence of Facebook and Pinterest without guilt.

At seven o’clock I went for a three mile run. It’s been a while since I’ve run that far. I never stopped to walk, but it was hard. Really hard. The last minute was especially brutal. I end my run on an uphill. I felt dizzy. Like I was going to vomit. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they mean by the term “runner’s high” but if it is then I want no part of it.

You might wonder why I chose to run on my birthday if I hate it so much.  I had friends coming over that night for appetizers and wine and knew I’d be eating a lot of cheese. A lot of cheese. Call it preventative maintenance.

I treated myself to a pedicure -after a shower of course- and then drove to The George Michael Salon in Beverly Hills. (No relation to 80’s pop star/90’s park bathroom lurker.) I’d won a long hair treatment worth $195 from a #Fabchat session on Twitter and my birthday was the perfect day to treat myself to such a luxury as my hair was definitely in desperate need of a little TLC.

Hair before George Michael Hair treatment

This hair is in some desperate need of a little TLC. (BTW – can you tell I’m not very good at selfies?)

 

Salon owner, Jessie Martinez, definitely gave me that. She washed my hair and put on an intense moisturizing treatment and then sat me on a comfy couch for an hour with a heating cap on my head. I sat and read my new book for an hour. (Talk about indulgent!)

Afterwards she washed my hair and set it in big rollers and I sat under a hairdryer that looked like it came out of the Jetson’s for another 45 minutes and read some more. Oh yes, it was a very good day indeed.

hair dryer

It looks like something Jane Jetson would wear doesn’t it?

 

The result was smooth, gorgeous hair without the harmful chemicals of some other hair treatments (ahem, I’m talking to you Brazilian) or the drying and damaging effects of a blowout.

I left the George Michael hair salon looking like this:

Hair-after-george-michael-hair-treatment

Please ignore my lack of make-up and focus on my gorgeous hair!

Jessie Martinez might just be my new best friend.

I stopped by Costco on my way home and battled the Father’s Day shoppers to pick up my favorite cheap wine -only the best for my friends- and returned home to  a clean house (best birthday present ever) and our Happy Birthday sign on the wall. (We have a Happy Birthday sign that I hang for everyone’s birthday every year, but mentioned last year that it never gets hung for me.) I’m not sure what made my heart sing more – the freshly vacuumed carpet or the sign, but the combination made me so happy that I didn’t even get crabby when I saw the dust rag carelessly left in the corner on the living room. (Isn’t that what you do when you’re done dusting – just drop the dust rag at the bottom of the last thing dusted?)

I made fried olives, a recipe that I found here, and have been wanting to try for a year. They did not disappoint. I set up for the party, put on a dress that I haven’t been able to fit into for years, and welcomed my closest friends into my home.

Fired-olives

Mmmm fried olives – delish!

The men went into one room and the women went into another. We drank wine. We laughed. We ate a lot of cheese. My friend Arlyne baked me a carrot cake from scratch. It was heavenly.

As birthdays go, it wasn’t anything grand, but it was quite wonderful.

Every day should be filled with recognizing the joy of simple pleasures…

Shirking off early-morning productivity to “catch up” on Facebook.

Feeling strong (albeit vomity) after a hard workout.

Taking the time to pamper oneself.

Reveling in the serene beauty of a clean house.

Enjoying time spent with close friends.

Indulging (okay, over-indulging) in wine and cheese.

The first day of my 49th year? No, it may not have been grand, but it was a damn fine day indeed.

And Then There Was That Time My Family Left Me Behind

9 Jun

When I was nineteen-years-old, a few months after my mom married my step-dad, we took our first vacation as a blended family – my mom, brother and me, together with my step-dad, step-sister, and step-brother. My uncle, aunt and cousin went too. So that would be nine of us, just in case you are mathematically challenged.

We rented a houseboat on the Delta in Sacramento and took my uncle’s speedboat as well.

 

Houseboat with speedboat

This is not us. But it could be.

 

I was grumpy because I had to leave my boyfriend, Scott, for a week. This was 30 years ago (yes, I really am that old, shut up), before cellphones and texting and Skype, so being on a houseboat for a week meant no communication.

And if you were once an overly dramatic nineteen-year-old (aren’t all nineteen-year-olds overly dramatic?) who had to suffer the terrible awful horrible fate of being separated from your boyfriend or girlfriend for a whole entire week, then you certainly know how mean and unreasonable it was for my family to expect me to suffer this vacation with them. I can only imagine what a joy I was to be around.

My step-sister was seventeen, but I really didn’t know her well yet. (Nor I’m sure did I try to.) My brother was fifteen, my step-brother was nine and my cousin was eight. So obviously there was “no one to hang out with.”

I’m sure I let myself have some fun. I did (after many summers of trying) learn to water ski on that trip. (The trick was one ski instead of two and push that back foot down hard, hard, hard.) And I got pretty tan. Other than that I don’t remember much about the trip.

Except for this…

No one had ever driven a houseboat before. (Do you drive a boat? What is that called exactly? It doesn’t have sails, so I know you don’t sail it. Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah…) Coming in and out of docks could be a bit challenging, to say the least. The adults would get stressed out and bicker about not hitting other boats (or people) so I would always go lie on my bed and take a nap or go to the top deck and sunbathe to avoid the arguing.

One day we pulled up to a gas station/restaurant/dive bar to gas up the boat. Aha! My opportunity to escape from my captors and call Scott so I could complain about what a terrible awful horrible time I was having and how much I missed him. (Oh and that I learned to ski which was really cool and I was really really tan which was even cooler!)

I found a payphone inside, reversed the charges to my house, and spent ten glorious minutes – or perhaps it was twenty- talking to the man boy my nineteen-year-old self was convinced was going to be my future husband. (Spoiler alert – he’s not. But we are friends on Facebook!)

I reluctantly told Scott that I’d better get back to the boat before I got in trouble and went down to the dock where I saw our two boats. Except instead of being tied to the dock waiting patiently for me they were driving (sailing?) away.

Both boats.

Without me.

WHAT???!!!

I stood at the end of the dock and waved my arms and yelled, but they were too far.

“Oh my god,” I said to the gas station dude. “They left me.”

“That happens sometimes,” he said. “Once this guy got left overnight.”

Overnight?!

I guess I was talking to Scott a little longer than I thought. Whenever we left a dock the adults were always concerned about where the little kids were, but since I always retreated to my bed or the roof to sunbathe, they just assumed I was retreating. Apparently it didn’t take my mom long to figure out I wasn’t there (relatively speaking). She walkie-talkied the speedboat to see if I was on it and when she found out I wasn’t freaked out a bit. She wanted to turn the boat around immediately to go get me, but my uncle thought it would be best to dock the houseboat for the night (if you didn’t dock it early enough you wouldn’t get a good spot) and then go back for me with the speedboat.

I did the only logical thing – went right back into the bar and called Scott again and talked until they came to pick me up a few hours later. Well, that might be a bit over-dramatic. It was probably only one hour. And fortunately it wasn’t overnight.

 

*This blog post is especially for my Uncle John (as this is, by far, his favorite story), who reads all my posts and complains that they are too girly and that he has to go do “man stuff” after reading them.

Houseboat photo credit

 

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