Friday, April 29, 2011

Photo Op

My mom really wanted a nice picture of her and the boys.  And wouldn’t take NO for an answer.


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Trying to get Andrew to look at the camera.

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Except for Ian, no one really looks very thrilled.  Or photogenic.

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Mauling him seems like the logical next step

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Oh Andrew.  I know how you feel buddy.

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Choking your grandson is a perfectly acceptable method of getting him to take a picture with you.

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Grandma’s gone.  Cheese!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

That’s How We Roll


Disco Ball?  Check.

Incense?   Check.

Dollar bills?  Check.

A sea of red stained lips, short skirts, over-processed blonde locks and rhinestone studded stilettos?  Check.

Cigarette smoke billowing from ashtrays?  Check.

Another Sunday morning mass at our Orange County, California Polish church?  Check.



(this disco ball hangs several dozen feet from the altar of our church.  For reals) 

Who says Jesus doesn’t appreciate a good party?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sometimes 2nd Graders Know Best

You may have heard through the grapevine (me) that I have written a children’s book recently. The story was inspired by the relationship between Andrew and Ian, and is entitled Superheroes Don’t Have to Wear Capes.  My ridiculously talented friend Spiral (that’s her professional name, not her birth name, which, if it were, would NOT BE ODD AT ALL) agreed to illustrate the story, and a few months ago I shared the first completed spread (that’s fancy publishing talk for two pages that are side by side) on my Facebook page.


Now comes the hard part; trying to find a publisher that will be just as excited about this project as I am.  I’ve begun the exciting  uber crappy process of querying potential agents and publishing houses, and as far as I know there is no bidding war yet, but I expect that to change anysecond.

In the meantime, my best friend Heather came up with a plan to  have me “test run” the book in front of a real audience of *gasp* children.  If you know anything about kids it’s that they have an uncanny ability to tell it like it is. Which for someone who prefers a blatant lie over a dose of ego-busting truth is just all kinds of wonderful.

So yesterday I found myself sitting in front of 60 some odd Kinder-2nd graders, a sea of knobby knees before me, my future as a children’s book author hanging in the balance. Okay. Maybe it was less Dean Koontz and more Eric Carle, but it felt intense. 

I gave a little speech, including the background of the book and why I wrote it, then delved into the story. 

Aside from a few little misbehaved turds (I blame the parents) and a rogue nose-picker, I had almost all 120 eyeballs on me the entire time.  When I was finished, I asked if anyone had any questions, and a hand shot up in the back. I called on the boy, a 2nd grader by the name of Brent:

“Yes, you, honey.  Do you have a question?”

“Great story. I just wanted to tell you that your book is gonna like be sold out.”

Folks, I think I just found my agent.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Hope This Thick Skin Will Look Good On Me

You come to a point, as a writer, where you have to choose.
What's more important? 
That people love me, respect me, cherish me? 
Or that I tell it like it is and stay true to the story, no matter the consequences?

On the day I first chose to write about my struggles with alcoholism, I chose the latter. 

I knew when I started out with blogging that my goal was not to write reviews about mascara (though I do not in any way begrudge those who are on that path. I often defer to their opinions when purchasing products). 

But for me, personally, writing was and continues to be a passion beyond words, something I can feel, something I can taste, something I both love and hate at times.  I am a slave to it; beckoned by it's siren, forced to be at it's whim.

Plus, there is nothing quite like the high of a well placed adjective.

Writing my column, This Modified Life, for The Orange County Register has allowed me the opportunity to invite a wider audience into my life and I continue to choose the path of truth; my truth.  It is also forcing me, as a writer, to come to terms with the fact that not everyone out there is going to love me, or love my writing, or my opinons.  In fact, there are people out there that are downright going to be annoyed with what I have to say (or, maybe even worse, won't even care).  I am feeling the sting of that, especially today, in response to an article I wrote about standing up for my special needs son.

But you know what?  Thanks to some of these folks that seem to have a rather unpleasant attitude (I'm trying to be polite) about what I have to say in this particular piece, I am growing some thicker skin, and realizing that if I really want to rock the world one word at a time, I have to be willing to take some heat. 

Which I am, so bring it.

It's a small price to pay to get to do what I love.  And maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to make a positive difference in someone's life.

Like my own.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pregnancy Weight

I know it may seem ridiculous to keep referring to the extra pounds I carry around my middle (and my back, and my sides, and….oh to hell with it…they’re everywhere) as pregnancy weight, especially when you consider that the last time I played host to a 65 pound bundle of joy was back in 2003.

But get this.

Yesterday my mom showed me a dress I used to wear as a little girl:


When I asked her how old I was when I wore it, she said about two.

And then I looked at the tag:



Yep.  That would be a size 6X.  Which apparently I wore at the age of 2.

So you see, I’ve been carrying around this pregnancy weight since I was TWO years old!

Not so ridiculous now, is it?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Wish You Were an Alcoholic Too

Yesterday scared me.

I awoke to a pounding headache, the back of my head throbbing in the darkness of the early morning.
I took some Tylenol, made some tea, and settled onto the couch, awaiting the rush of energy and happiness that would follow once my head stopped trying to kill me.

The pain eventually went away, but instead of embracing the day, I found myself dreading it.  Every time I tried to move, I felt as if I were made of lead, my body and mind refusing to collaborate, my attempts at snapping out of it futile.

It wasn’t just that I was physically tired.  I was mentally exhausted, which for the most part is nothing new, except that usually I manage to suppress it and get on with my day.  But not yesterday.  Yesterday I gave in to the dread, the despair and the depression that kept my ability to DO, just out of my reach.  I felt an overwhelming, frightening, exhausting emptiness.  I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t think straight.  I could barely move.

It was 12:30 before I even brushed my teeth, and I reheated the same pot of water 7 times, never getting far enough to actually make that much-needed second cup of Earl Grey.

Like I said, it scared me.

I managed to make it through the rest of the day by the hair of my chinny chin chin, but I went to bed in a defeated blur.

This morning I thought about yesterday, and instead of trying to pinpoint the exact cause of my demise, or ruminate on what I could have done differently, I had one, very clear, very profound, very loud and necessary thought:

My worst day sober, has got nothing on my best day drunk.

And then, after I dropped Ian off at school and made sure Andrew was looked after, I hightailed it to my nearest AA meeting, where finally, after much too long, I was able to exhale.

I wish you were an alcoholic too.

I mean, I don’t wish for you the drama, and the heartache, and the guilt (not to mention the wasted precious time) that comes before sobriety.  But I do wish you had a roomful of people that understood you, didn’t judge you, offered you their phone number in case you needed to talk at 4 a.m.  I wish you knew what it felt like to sit among doctors, lawyers, and homeless men and women and watch them hug, support, and pray with one another.  I wish you knew the comfort it brings to be able to know that you’re not the one in charge in this great big world, that you don’t call all the shots.  That you aren’t weak when you cry out for help, and that the greatest asset in your life is to feel gratitude in your heart.  I wish you knew what it was like to relate to a perfect stranger, hear their voice tell your story, and be reminded that you are not alone.  I wish you could leave the weight of the world at the door of your nearest meeting, and know you have a choice in how or if you want to carry it anymore.

Today is a new day.

For me, for you, for those of us blessed enough to still be stomping around in it.

I’m going to enjoy the $hit out of it, if you don’t mind.

One very sober, very grateful moment at a time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It’s Not Like It’s a Four Letter Word

My sister and I met up for a sushi lunch yesterday, with my beloved, squeaky Andrew in tow (hooray for two weeks of Spring Break!).  We ordered our food and proceeded to try and engage in meaningless conversation while Andrew proceeded to try and do everything you aren’t supposed to do in a tiny, cramped, dining room filled with other patrons.

Obsessed with an aquarium in the corner filled with bright orange fish, he squawked and he squealed to indicate his need to go visit the tank rightnow., and while I had no problem walking over there with him, I wanted to use this natural setting to generalize the one thing we can never get him to do beyond therapy, which is to wait.

I used our “First, then” model, letting him know that “first you need to finish your lunch, then we can go see the fish tank,” and he let me know that I should buzz off by arching his 50 pound frame and bursting into a rendition of his infamous whine, a sound that usually causes my eyeballs to bleed, followed by a lip twitch and a desperate desire to lunge myself in front of anything moving faster than 20 mph.

At this point I knew better than to continue with my therapy-based experiment, the whines gaining momentum, the other patrons beginning to hint at their displeasure by hurling their chopsticks at us like spears (hey, I can take a hint).  I grabbed by little bundle of joy, sat him ever so gently upon my lap, and hurredly finished the tail end of my conversation with my sister, which must have been about a family member since my sentence ended with jack@ss (I offer only the best in quality conversation and dining companionship).

And then Andrew laughed.

I looked at my sister, looked at my son, and looked at the fresh sashimi, still untouched, on my plate.  I pulled Andrew’s face close to mine and said “banana.”  The whining immediately ensued.
I tried “chocolate.”  More whining.  I said “Willy the watermelon eating walrus.”  Still, more whining (and more chopstick throwing).

And then I said jack@ass.

And he laughed again.

I’d like to be able to tell you that I did the right thing by asking for a to-go box and leaving the premises (and sticking my sister with the bill for our abbreviated lunch date),  but this blog is all about telling the truth and honestly, doing the right thing can be so overrated sometimes, especially when fresh Hawaiian and Philadelphia sushi rolls are involved.

So instead I took the road less traveled (mostly because it’s a road reserved for awful parents), held my nine year old close to my chest, and every so often, in between delicious bites of my Japanese cuisine and shallow girl talk, I leaned in, and lovingly whispered “jack@ss” into his ear.

Judge me if you will, by leaving a comment below.  I’ll be sure to send you a free, sample copy of Andrew’s impressive vocal range, including the ever popular “someone please stab my ears with the nearest sharp object you can find whine.”  Extended version, of course.