Home Movies

21 Apr

My mother is trying to clean out the clutter. She’s pretty determined. I think she might actually succeed.

One of her projects is going through old slides and home movies that were my grandfather’s. During our Easter celebration this year my mom brought out dozens of photo albums and boxes upon boxes of slides and home movies. After my kids hunted for their Easter eggs (yes, my 13 & 17 year old still love to hunt for Easter eggs) we settled down and had a good old fashioned slide show.

movie projector

Yes, I do realize this is a movie projector and not a slide projector. (The slide projector is behind it  - see?)

The slides were set up chronologically and my grandfather made titles of the events out of alphabet refrigerator magnets.


“Best Christmas this family ever had,” I shouted out. (Obviously, as it was my first Christmas.)



Already multi-tasking – feeding myself a bottle and opening a present at the same time.



If my grandfather was alive today he’d be rocking the Power Point presentation like nobody’s business.

I should mention that I was the first grandchild and the second one didn’t come along until 1969 so there were quite a lot of slides of me. In fact some of my petty and jealous family members started calling it the Charlene Show. (And the problem with that is?) My kids were bored to tears. I thought it was great!

It’s possible that my mom, my uncle and I -the only three people in the room who actually lived the memories in the slides- were the only ones who truly enjoyed it after the first five or ten minutes. It was fun for us to try to figure out who the people were in the pictures and where the pictures were taken. I loved looking at the fashion. At the different era. There were slides of a dinner party my grandmother threw for her girlfriends where she set the table with her wedding china and fine silverware upon a crisp white table cloth. (As opposed to when I entertain my girlfriends with paper plates and cocktail napkins with martini glasses and snarky captions about being drunk.)

So many little snippets from my childhood.

My parents were so young and beautiful.

home movies learning to walk

My mom teaching me to walk – check out her awesome dress!

A family vacation to my great grandmother’s lake cabin that was hit by an avalanche and destroyed when I was eleven.

retro grandparents

That’s my paternal grandfather on the left (doesn’t he look cool), my paternal grandmother next to him, my maternal grandmother in yellow & two mystery people.

My paternal grandparents white Christmas tree.

My maternal grandparents overly tinseled Christmas tree.

My rocking horse.

The sandbox my grandfather built for me.

After a while we moved on. We watched a home movie of my mom when she was a baby. We started looking at photo albums. My grandfather was an excellent record keeper. Our family historian.

Damn I was cute! Who wouldn't want to watch hours upon hours of slides with this cute baby?!

Damn I was cute! Who wouldn’t want to watch hours upon hours of slides with this cute baby?!

I found this picture of me holding my cousin when she was a baby. (You can see by our age difference why she didn’t want to sit through the slide show until she showed up.)

family photo album

What are you more jealous of – my hairstyle or my granny dress?

And then yesterday this picture was taken of me holding her son. (And please don’t ask why I had to take a picture of my phone – let’s just say technology is not being my friend today.)

2014-04-21 06.29.06

History repeating itself with a new medium.

Now instead of setting up a projector or opening a cherished book we click through our computer screens, swipe our phones. It’s easier. More convenient.

But, like using paper plates when we entertain our dearest friends instead of our fine wedding china, it’s become a little too everyday and maybe not quite as special.



Why I Write (Since You Asked)

14 Apr

This is how I do it.

Well, Kim asked anyway. And since I want to be a writer like Kim when I grow up (you know, one who actually gets paid to do it – on a regular basis), when Kim asks, I answer.

She invited me to participate in a blog tour called My Writing Process (#mywritingprocess). My Writing Process  is apparently a way to connect with other bloggers who identify themselves as writers. Yes, all bloggers write, but that doesn’t necessarily make them writers. (One look at Pinterest will tell you that.) I do not say that with any sort of snobbery or contempt (I mean, come on, what I write is certainly not literature), but to say people blog for different reasons. Some blog to show off their DIY prowess, some blog recipes, some blog simply to make money, and some of us, we blog to write. I blog to write.

So now I have to answer some questions and then pay this task privilege forward to three more writers who have blogs. 

1. Why do I write what I do?

I walk around all day with a lot of chatter in my head. When I’m driving to work, when I’m running, when I’m fixing dinner my head is filled with incredibly clever and funny things to write. Things I must write. Of course then I sit down to write them and they escape me. What was that brilliantly funny thing I conjured up in the car on the way to work? I’ll think to myself. And I can’t remember. Or worse I do remember and once I type it out I see it wasn’t very brilliant at all. It’s torturous. (And trust me when I say that all writers are tortured.) But every once in a while that thing does work on paper (or the screen) and it’s clever and funny and brilliant (okay, I’ve never actually been brilliant) and that makes the torture almost worth it.

Also, I talk a lot (a lot) so I guess writing is just another way for me to keep talking when no one is around. I’m kidding. (A little.) I think writing is a way of connecting with people. There are so many times I read things and think to myself, “Yeah, I feel that way too,” so I hope what I have to say (or rather what I write) resonates with people. That they read my words and think, “Yeah, I feel that way too.”

Plus if you want to know the dirty truth, I like people to tell me I’m awesome. But people don’t tend to walk up to me and say, “Hey Charlene, I think you’re awesome.” But they do sometimes walk up to me and say, “You’re blog post was so funny.” Which is sort of the same thing.

So I guess I write what I do to quiet the voices in my head, to connect with people, and to fulfill my sad and desperate need for approval. And to torture myself. (And feel awesome.)

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Do I have a genre? I don’t consider myself a “Mommy Blogger” because I rarely write about my kids these days. At 17 and 13, I feel I don’t have the right to tell their story anymore. (Though every once in a while I can’t help myself.) So whatever my genre is – personal essay, lifestyle, or as I like to call it – “slice-of-life,” I guess what makes my work different is that they’re my stories to tell. The crazy chatter from my brain. Of course that makes everyone’s work different doesn’t it? I suppose others are much better at getting to the point. I’ve always admired others who can say a lot with very few words, where as I tend to do the opposite, which is saying very little with as many words as possible. (For example I could have cut the last eleven words out of the previous sentence and it would have had the same meaning, but I just can’t! And this post? Waaaay too long. Sorry about that!)

3. How does your writing process work?

I get up early – 5:00 almost every day (yes, even weekends) to write. The plan is to pour a cup of coffee sit down in the quiet calm of my house and write. I don’t have an office, so I sit with my laptop at the kitchen table in my daughter’s spot. I don’t know why I always choose her chair over my own. Maybe because it looks out into the backyard. I open the curtains and watch the night turn to day as I tap away at my keyboard. Or sometimes I will write in a notebook – three pages, for those of you familiar with “morning pages.” I wrote the first draft book that way – pen to paper in the wee morning hours. Well, that is ideally how my writing process works – early, alone, in the dark.

Lately it is something much closer to what happened today. It’s Saturday as I start to write this and I’ve gone to bed late every night this week so I allowed myself to “sleep in” until about 6:15 this morning. I planned to walk the dog at 7:00 and go for a three mile run at 8:00, so I knew I wouldn’t have much time, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out. Then I went on TimeSuck – I mean Facebook, so no writing took place – unless you call commenting on the triumphs and tragedies and (mostly) minutiae of my friends’ lives and informing them about the triumphs and tragedies and (mostly) minutiae of mine writing.

After the Facebooking and the dog walking and the running I woke Marley up and made her breakfast and then took her to an event at school. I was home a little before 10:00 and Chandler and Dave had left for the day, but instead of coming back to write immediately I rolled on my foam roller to work out the kinks from running, took a shower (well, after the running that was fairly necessary), threw a load of laundry in the washer, stripped my bed (but decided I’d put my clean sheets on later), cried my eyes out as I read the article in the Times about that horrific bus crash carrying college-bound high school students to Humbolt, and then threw the load in the dryer (after taking the time to hang my gym clothes and delicates), and then finally sat down to write this post. I typed two sentences and the phone rang. It was Marley, ready to be picked up.

I picked her up, took her to the library, went to Trader Joes’s for necessities (milk and wine), came home, had lunch, and then went to her lacrosse game. (Marley was goalie, her team won, it was awesome!) We returned at 3:30, I put clean sheets on my bed, stopped myself from taking the time to do the pillow cases, and sat down to write.


Oh, I  didn’t finish of course. I only had about half an hour before I had to do other things. So I got up at 5:00 Sunday morning and wrote some more (like I was supposed to – alone and in the dark). And now I’m finishing this early Monday.

So I guess you could say my process is to get up early under the guise of writing and then avoid writing as much as possible until I can’t avoid it any longer. I don’t know why I procrastinate. I think is has something to do with the torture. Or maybe so I can convince myself that my writing sucks because I “don’t have time” to do it properly.

4. What am I working on?

Hmmm… other than avoidance? Good question.

Another rejection letter, that was fairly constructive rather than the standard “it’s not you, it’s us, but really it’s you because your writing sucks” form letter, is forcing me to look at my novel again. What can I take out without losing my voice? How can I punch it up? Make it funnier? Make you want to read more. I’m actually considering changing my beloved first line -my hook- which I’ve held onto as if my life depended on it. But perhaps the life of my book depends on me letting it go.

And I recently wrote a piece for Listen to Your Mother that got rejected. Which is fine, really. (Though it does make me bitter petty enough to not give them a link.) There were only 12 spots available and I think that at least 14 people auditioned, so you know, odds were against me. In all seriousness, unlike the poorly edited drivel I usually post here, it’s a kick-ass piece that has a place somewhere, so I need to shop it.

And of course I try to post here every Monday, but as I’ve stated, the chatter in my head often doesn’t translate to my fingers.


Okay, are we done with this? Now that I’ve bored you all to tears if you’ve even made it this far (which I suspect most people haven’t – I probably wouldn’t) and you no longer like me because you’ve figured out how weird I am?

Anyway, now is the part where I pick three people to keep this tour moving. Picking only three people is very hard. Picking three people who will actually do it (and not murder me) is even harder, but here are my three:

 Tina Drakakis - my soul mate from skirt.com. Yeah, I always pick her for things. Because she is kick ass and awesome and 1,000 times funnier than me, which makes me really want to hate her, but I can’t because I love her too much. Plus she’s been posting a lot to her blog lately, but I haven’t seen much that is new, so I’m giving her a kick in the butt to get back at it. She loves it when I do that. (Or maybe not.)

Rina Nedar – her blog, Mommy Has a Story, is quite lovely. You should read it. And her fiction is even better. Plus she started the writing group I’m currently in that makes me set goals and keeps me accountable, which quite frankly, I find a little bossy, so now I’m going to make her do something. (So ha ha Rina!)

Abby Byrd - her blog Little Miss Perfect is hilarious. She says fuck a lot, calls her two-year-old an asshole, and isn’t afraid to piss people off.  I would like to say the F-word more (like I do in real life), but people have told me they don’t like it, and I don’t like to piss people off (except for the three people I just named, obviously) so I don’t use it as much as I’d like to in my blog. And as I stated above, my kids are older now, so I can’t call them assholes. Oh, and Abby uses a pen name for her blog, but one day when her memoir is published (and it’s great, so it will be), you will know her real name, trust me on that.

Get to work ladies – you have one week to expose your soul to the internet. But hey, you’re writers. You’re used to that.

(And for those of you who stuck with this entirely-too long post, I really do thank you.)

My So-Called Fabulous (Yet Unlived) Life

10 Apr

Throwback Thursday – This post was originally published on March 21, 2011 on skirt.com.

The other day as I looked at my pretty friend on the computer screen – tan and fit with her long blonde hair flowing down her back, I began to wonder about her life…and about mine.  Somewhere between high school and Facebook she moved from Los Angeles to Miami.  We were really only acquaintances in high school – I was better friends with her brother a year older than us – and now we are acquaintances through the world’s largest social network.  I see photos of her fabulous single life and she sees photos of my rather suburban one (if she even bothers to look).

In her photos she sits courtside at a Miami Heat game, drinks umbrella drinks on the beach, and wraps her arms around equally tan and fit singletons at bars and barbeques.  In my photos I’m trying my best to look cool mom funky rather than suburban mom frumpy.

At 45-years-old she still looks amazing in a bikini.  Of course that’s probably a lot easier to do when you are blessed with the combination of being born with good genes, never experiencing the wondrous body-changing magic of childbirth, and have nothing but time on your hands to go to the gym before heading out to the local pub to meet your latest conquest on Match.com face to face.

I wonder sometimes as I stare at her beautiful face smiling at me if she is as happy as she looks.  I consider myself happy in this life I’ve chosen for myself, but there are days when I trip over my husband’s shoes in the bedroom or get an aching back from doing eight loads of laundry on a Sunday that I wonder if I would be even happier if I had never married, if I had never had kids, if I had never given up my career to stay home with my children.  If I only had to be accountable to me…what would my life be like?

A few years ago, when my husband unwillingly went from the security of fulltime employment to get-it-when-you-can-find-it contract work, I took a job at an elementary school as an aide in special education so that I could give my family the extravagant gift of health insurance.  As an instructional assistant I have been bit, hit, kicked, pinched, spit at, peed on, and had my life threatened.  And sometimes I even get to clean up poop!  As an added bonus the pay is terrible.  Of course I do get summers off and every December and June parents shower me with Starbucks gift cards to thank me for my patience with their little darlings.

But if I didn’t have kids, where would 15 years in the career world have taken me?  I picture myself dressed in designer clothing checking my Blackberry as I tap my pedicured toes encased in $300 boots waiting for the valet to come with my Mercedes that only seats two so I can hurry from my business lunch to a very important meeting.  My “what if” wardrobe seems a bit more stylish than my usual attire of jeans and tone-up sneakers sadly worn for function rather than fashion so my heels don’t sink into the grass as I attend my kids’ soccer games or so I won’t trip as I race around town running errand after monotonous errand.

Speaking of monotonous, my husband and I have been married for seventeen years.  We’ve had our ups and downs, but all in all we have a happy marriage.  He is a good partner and a good friend; we are very compatible and I feel like I’ve chosen well.  Even during our toughest times the thought of divorce has never crossed my mind.

But what if we had never met?  If I had never walked down the aisle, would the rush of experiencing first date jitters be greater than the joy experienced from the comfort of a long marriage? Would I choose to experience firsthand the phenomenon of online dating instead of only experiencing it vicariously through my friends?  I am rather curious to know how many text exchanges with a man you’ve never met face to face it takes to get a photo of his penis in your inbox.  And like many of my still-single or again single friends, would I also have a nice, incurable dose of HPV?

I look at my suburban tract home in a neighborhood known for its good schools.  In my “what if” life I envision myself in my two bedroom condo in a much more urban part of town decorated Pottery Barn chic – no roses to dead head, no lawn to water or mow.  There are no socks on the floor, no Lego’s to be stepped on, no princess toothpaste smeared on the bathroom counter.  If the song “I Still Want You” were to play on the 80’s station of my satellite radio as I was cleaning my condo on a Saturday afternoon I’d probably think to myself, “Whatever happened to The Del Fuegos?” having no idea that front man Dan Zanes went on to be a Grammy Award winning children’s artist.

If I’d never had kids I would probably still think that Lindsey Lohan’s drug addiction and downward spiral is a terrible tragedy, but the true tragedy would be missing both her and Jamie Lee Curtis’ fantastic comedic performances in “Freaky Friday” because what kind of designer-boot-wearing, two-seat-Mercedes-driving, online-dating-still-hot-in-a-bikini-after-the-age-of-forty single girl sees a movie like that?

If I were single I wouldn’t have to share the covers in my bed, give up half my closet space, or watch NASCAR.  If I were childless I wouldn’t have to make sure there was always milk in the fridge, referee ridiculous arguments, or worry about how the hell I’m going to pay for college. (Shit. How the hell are we going to pay for college?)

I look at my friend’s pretty face one last time before clicking off my computer and joining my family for popcorn –crumbs of which I will inevitably have to vacuum off the floor tomorrow- and the latest episode of The Simpsons.  I snuggle with my daughter under the Snuggie she and her brother gave me for Mother’s Day last year and laugh a deep belly laugh as Bart tortures Homer.

If only my two lives were a Gwyneth Paltrow movie and I could watch them in parallel to see which path was better.  But the truth is I really don’t have to wonder.  I already know.

Follow me on Twitter @Rossgirl08 and connect with me on Facebook

Running Sucks Series: This Time She Shall Be Named

7 Apr

The last time I wrote about her I was kind and did not name her. We ran together on a trail run and I stuck with her even though she was slow. On the streets she’s fast, but trails scare her and she begged me to stay by her side. So of course I did. I’m a good friend like that. (Such a good friend I ended up getting us lost.)

She’s the one that suckered talked me into running in the first place after our Just Lose It program ended. She claimed that she hates running too, but I don’t believe her. I think she’s a liar.

And after the terrible awful thing she did to me yesterday? She’s a liar who will be named.


Yesterday there were only three of us who were able to meet up for our Sunday run and Jennifer was walking because of an injury. We were doing a four mile run around the lake. Juliana said she really didn’t feel like running and would run with me at my pace. Yes, even though we started running at the same time she’s much faster than I am.

If I were the type that makes excuses, I’d say it’s because she weighs about 30 pounds less than I do. (Hey, she’s like four or five inches shorter so shut up!) It’s probably easier for her to run faster – you know, less girth to carry around.

I said she didn’t have to slow herself down to stay with me, but she said she wanted to because she was really tired and really didn’t want to run and had to force herself to come.

She did slow her pace down, but not to my pace, so I had to run faster to keep up. Remember what I said about her being a liar?

I’ve backed off on my running since my race because it takes up so much time. I was running five days a week and now I’m running three. So this run was really killing me. As we got to the light to make the turn back to the coffee house that was 3/4 of a mile away I kept chanting to myself,”Less than eight minutes left, less than eight minutes left.” I was dying, but I could run for eight more minutes.


And then she turned to me, and said, “Let’s go straight and do the five mile loop. We can even walk if you want.”

What?! NO!

I had less than eight minutes left and now she wanted me to run for something closer to eighteen. She told me she didn’t even feel like running. She told me she had to force herself to come and now we were almost done. Juliana is a big fat lying liar who lies! She kept going straight, turned her head and told me she loved me. I told her I hated her. And at that moment I meant it. But I followed her anyway.

And then I was pissed. Like, stomp your feet like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum pissed. I did not want to run an extra mile. I ran for about two minutes this way – hating Juliana and being grumpy and mad and miserable. And then I gasped for air took a deep breath and told myself to calm down. I’ve run five miles before. Hell, I’ve run six. I could do this. I turned up my music, stopped hating Juliana (mostly), and ran.

Juliana started to run faster and then would slow down to a walk until I caught up. I’d take two walking steps and then she’d run ahead again. You know that trick you play on people when they’re getting in your car and as soon as they touch the handle you pull forward a little? She was doing the running equivalent of that. (And I stopped hating her why?)

During that last push I focused on Adam Levine singing that he wanted to make sweet, sweet love to me (he might have used another word) and then I focused on Enrique Iglesias singing that he’d like to make sweet, sweet love to me as well (he definitely used another word). I wonder if Bradley Cooper can sing. If he was singing about all the dirty ways he could make sweet, sweet love to me I think I could run all day.

Or at least for five miles.

I’d like to say that I’m still mad at Juliana for tricking me into that extra mile. For pushing me harder than I wanted to go.

But if I said that, then I might (or might not) be the one who’s a liar.

My Girlfriend got Vajazzled on Groupon

3 Apr

Throwback Thursday. This was originally posted on skirt.com on January 3, 2011.


“You cannot blog about this,” my girlfriend said when we met a few weeks ago for drinks.


“Blog about what?” I asked innocently.


“This story I’m about to tell you. But I’ll only tell you if you promise not to blog about it.”


Shit, I hate when my friends make me promise that. They only make me promise that when the story is really, really good.


“What if I promise not to use your name and swear to never tell a living soul your true identity?”


She rolled her eyes and let out a deep breath. “Fine! But if you tell anyone it was me I will deny it and then I will fucking kill you.”


Awesome, this story’s gonna be good.


She took a look around the bar and moved in a bit closer to me, “Last week before Jake* and I went away for our anniversary I got vajazzled.”


I almost choked on my olive. “What the hell is vajazzled?” I asked even though I was pretty sure I already knew.


“Vajazzling is just like bedazzling, but for your whoo whoo.”  she said.


That’s right – my girlfriend had bling bling applied to her vajay-jay!


“No freaking way! Where did you get it done?”


“That’s actually the funny part of the story. I saw it advertised on one of those Groupon sites. Well, it wasn’t Groupon, but one of those sites just like it. The description went on and on about the esthetician and how experienced she was and blah blah blah and since we were going out of town for our anniversary I thought it would be a fun surprise.”


“And was it?” I asked.


“Uh, yeah!” she answered again with the eye roll. “But wait, that’s not the story. So I call the number on the certificate and some dude answers the phone. ‘Hello,’ he says. No, Vajazzling by Virginia or Bling Bling Whoo Whoos R Us, just ‘Hello.’


“I’m thinking to myself, what the hell kind of shady place is this that some dude is answering the esthetician’s phone and not even giving the business name? I’ve never gotten a wax without a referral and now I buy one on a local website and it’s totally shady. I was so shocked I didn’t even reply. I’m thinking to myself that I don’t want to do it and wondering if I can get my money back and the dude again says, ‘Hello?’


“So I just stammer, ‘Uh I think I dialed the wrong number. I was trying to call my sister.’ and hung up the phone. I don’t know why I said that, I was just so flustered and so embarrassed. I mean I didn’t want to say, ‘Hi, I was calling to get a wax and vajazzle’ to some dude who just answers the phone Hello.


“Did you just misdial?” I asked her.


“No.” she said. “I was hoping I did, but I checked the number on the certificate and I definitely did not misdial. I was too embarrassed to call back since I gave that line about calling my sister so I figured I’d just call back the next day and hopefully she’d answer her own freaking phone.


“The next day I call back and I get a voicemail message from the dude. It’s not even her phone! What the hell kind of services is this off-brand-Groupon site selling? I mean I can tell by the address that it’s on a commercial street and not some residence so I’m totally confused by the whole phone thing. Obviously there’s some kind of mistake.


“So I sit down at my computer to check the certificate online to see if maybe there is a correction on the number. There isn’t. Then I check 411.com and see if I can find the number that way – not listed. Great! So I call 411 and it’s not listed there either.


“Now I’m weighing my options – do I call the dude back and see if it is the right number and if it is do I want to be waxed by some chick who doesn’t even have her own phone or do I write an email to the site telling them I want my money back.


“Then the 411 operator asks if I know where the business is and he can maybe look it up that way. I give him the address and luckily he was able to find the number that way. The waxing chick rents a space out of a salon and uses her cell phone which is why I couldn’t find the number. Fortunately it’s a salon I’d actually heard of with a good reputation. And it was a mistake – the site did have her number wrong.”


“So is it still there?” I asked. “Can I see it?”


“No it’s gone. But what did you want me to do, lift up my skirt and show you and the rest of the bar?” she snorted.


“Well, I was thinking of going into the bathroom,” I said seriously. I mean, I was pretty curious. “What did it look like?”


She laughed. “I got little crystals that said ‘Wild’ and a little pink heart.”


“No way! Would you do it again?”


“Yeah, I’d totally do it again. Maybe for Valentine’s Day. But like I said, you cannot blog about this.”


“Oh I’m blogging about it,” I told her. “But don’t worry your identity is safe with me!”


So those of you who know me, don’t ask me who it was – I’ll never tell!


*Jake is obviously not my friend’s husband’s real name!


Girlfriends = Happiness (The End)

31 Mar

Friday night I went out with three of my closest girlfriends. We are coming up on knowing each other for 30 years (not sure how that’s possible) and being with them always makes me happy.

We’re all different and at different stages of our lives.

Trixie will be celebrating her 5th wedding anniversary this year. She has two step-children in their twenties, but no children of her own by design. She lives in a fabulous designer home, has a very successful entertainment lawyer husband, and a fast-paced, interesting career working for a concert promoter. She receives “thank you” gifts from people like Halle Berry and goes to parties at places like Norman Lear’s house. As you can imagine she always has the best stories.

SkinnyBitch (so named because she has always been my skinniest friend – and I live in LA, so that’s saying something!) became an empty-nester last fall when her only child (her daughter and very best friend) went off to college in New York. She is a therapist and always gives us useful, welcome (and free) advice.

Simmah is single and has no kids. She’s never married (though she could have – she’s been asked), but she’s had a couple long-term, live-in relationships. She went through a tough break up recently and is making peace with being alone right now. She spends her free time going to the gym, hiking, playing tennis, being with friends. She might envy my family life (or she might not), but I’ll tell you, there are times when I envy her solitude. Her freedom. Her incredibly clean house. Her space.

Our group wasn’t quite complete. Trixie’s sister lives an hour away (in no traffic) – too far to come out on a Friday night. And Heidi was unable to make it due to some wifely/motherly duties at home. She’s never been as good at ditching her family as I am.

What do my very different friends have in common? You know besides their awesomeness, and good taste in suburban-mom friends? They’re all smart. They’re all beautiful. And they’re all funny as shit! My husband makes me laugh every day, but no one makes me laugh harder or louder or longer than these ladies. No one.

We had dinner at a French restaurant. Blue crab cakes and muscles with pommes frites, two bottles of wine, stories, advice, a little bit of celebrity gossip, and a whole lot of laughter made for the one of the best evenings I’ve had in a while.

I drank too much wine and slept over at Simmah’s. She completely gutted and remodeled her house a couple years ago. It’s gorgeous. I want to live there. We used to be roommates. Maybe I could leave Dave and the kids and shack up with her again. She does have a guest room.

In the morning we sleep in until about 7:30 or so – late for both of us, she’s an early riser too. She made breakfast. Eggs and chorizo with tortillas, hash browns and bacon. Oh my god, she makes the best bacon.

We talked and laughed and talked and laughed some more. One of the things we talked about is how grateful we are for our long friendship. We both realize how quickly time is passing and that time spent with girlfriends laughing and talking and even crying is not only precious, but necessary for a happy life.

I lingered until 11:00 or so before getting back to the chores and errands and family at home waiting for me.

I wish for so much for my children when they are adults. I wish them success whatever that may be for them. I wish them health. I wish them happiness. And I wish and I hope and I pray that they are as lucky as me when it comes to finding lifelong friends.

Reflections on Running My First 10K Race

25 Mar

Yes, the girl who hates running ran her first 10K. Phew! Got that item checked off the bucket list.


It was never on my bucket list. I never had any desire to run. Ever. I love working out, but I’ve always hated running. It makes you out of breath. And sweaty. It’s solitary. And it’s hard. Really, really hard.

It sucks.

But thanks to some annoyingly fit (and supportive) friends, the best gym in the world, and an incredible trainer (thank you Regan – I couldn’t have done it without you!), I DID IT! I ran my first 10K.

Every year for the last eight years I’ve stood outside my house and watched 10K and 5K runners run past my house for the Great Race of Agoura.

10K runners

It doesn’t look like it, but there are a lot of people running up my street.


This year my neighbors were watching me. (Well, me and 1,227 others, but I’m pretty sure mostly me.)

10K runner

My son is a great runner, but a crappy photographer.


I have to admit, it was pretty exciting. I gathered at the start line with all my run club friends getting ready to do something I never imagined myself doing. Something I never imaged I could do – running for six miles, putting one foot in front of the other and gasping for breath for over an hour straight. What the hell was I thinking?!

Race Start line

Me and part of my crew.


When the gun went off and I crossed the start line I was a bit emotional. A little choked up, actually. (Probably because I realized there was no turning back.) I smiled as I ran down the street and saw the people from my neighborhood waving at me (and 1,227 others). Dave was out early to a NASCAR race (don’t ask) and Marley slept over at my mom’s, but Chandler was waiting for me on our driveway. I waved at him excitedly as I passed. He gave me a head nod and raised his hand in sort-of half wave and turned around and walked inside. Apparently the moment was not as monumentous for him as it was for me. (Whatever. Teenagers!)

Mile One was surprisingly easy. It must have been the adrenaline. The excitement. My neighbors cheering me on. Plus it was all downhill. That certainly didn’t hurt.

The distance between Mile One and Mile Two was not quite as easy. I thought maybe they forgot to put up the mile marker. Or maybe I missed it. I couldn’t have missed it could I? Wasn’t there supposed to be a water station there? I was parched. Where the hell was Mile Two?! Finally! Water station and mile marker. Two miles down, four to go. (Seriously, what was I thinking?)

I hate to admit it, but between Mile Two and Mile Three it wasn’t that terrible. I didn’t like it, but I was well-trained and I knew I could do it. I never felt like I had to walk. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to walk, but I never felt like I had to. My friends were all long gone. I’ve always been the slowest runner in my group (by far), but that was okay. There were still people behind me. A lot of people behind me!

When I hit Mile Four I was scared. Really, really scared. I knew the dreaded hills (or is that mountains?) were just around the corner.




But before the mountains hills, I was coming up to a U-turn so the runners ahead of me were running towards me. I’d call out my friend’s names and scream, “Whooo!” as I saw them pass and they’d scream, “Whooo, Charlene” back.

And then I saw him.

There was a child who could not have been more than five years old with a 10K race bib on coming towards me. I’m talking five-years-old tops. I was being outpaced by a freaking toddler!

Have I ever mentioned that running sucks?

(I know what you’re thinking, by the way. You’re thinking that I’m exaggerating. You’re thinking that some short nine-year-old was out there being all Bruce Jenner-like. (When Bruce Jenner was a runner and not a reality star.) No, I’m telling you, if this kid was in kindergarten he is for sure the youngest one in his class. Does one of the local pre-schools have a tiny tot track and field program? I mentioned this toddler running prodigy to my friends at the finish line and they saw him too. My friend Juliana said she saw him pass her, high-fiving people along the way. So I’m telling you, this kid was five-years-old. He was real. And I hate him!)

Anyway… on to the hills.

Here is the first one:

running hill

It’s even harder than it looks!


What the F?

Yeah, I had to go up that. Do you see how those people are bent over? No, it’s not because they’re vomiting (although who could blame them if they were?), it’s because that hill is so freaking steep you have to bend over like that to get up it. Also, I took this picture from the middle of the hill, so it’s also longer than it looks.

This is the hill of running legends and myths. This hill is the reason our asshole beloved trainer Regan wouldn’t let us run the course before the race. This is the hill that makes people make that face when you tell them you’re doing the Great Race of Agoura 10K. You know that face that people make when you tell them you’re about to do something stupid? The face with one eyebrow raised, their chin tilted down and the tsk tsk tsk that goes along with it? Yeah, this is that hill.

(I might or might have walked it. That’s for me to know and you to never ever find out.)

And then after going up another very terrible horrible no good hill I saw the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

No, it wasn’t this:

California beach at sunset



Or this:

Bobs Big Boy Burger



Or this:



Or even this:

Sorry kids!

Sorry kids!


It was this:


Hello gorgeous!

I cannot tell you the joy I felt seeing the 5-mile marker sign. It made me happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life (maybe this is what they mean by a runner’s high) because in 12 minutes or less I was going to be done! And it was all downhill! Well, mostly downhill. Until that last short but extremely steep hill that took me by complete surprise. (GRRR!)

As I came down the final hill and turned the corner towards the finish line I actually picked up some speed. I really wanted to finish strong. I do wish the last 50 feet weren’t on overgrown un-mowed grass, which is really hard to run on by the way.

My friends were waiting for me at the finish with high fives and sweaty hugs. We did it! And I’ll never ever ever have to do it again. (Maybe.)

10K medal

We did it!

And in case you were wondering how I did (you were, weren’t you?), here you go:

Not too bad for a first race

Not too bad for a first race


Oh, and can I end this post with a little bit of a mommy brag? My son? The one who gave me the half-hearted-yeah-whatever wave from the driveway? He ran the 5K and won. Yeah, that’s right – 1st place out of 999 runners. He must get his running gene from me! (Or I guess, probably not.)

One proud mama!

One proud and happy mama!


Today I am resting. But tomorrow I might go running again. (We’ll see.)


*And yes, Lisa, I did steal that picture of the beach at sunset from your Facebook page. (Thank you!)





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