Archive for December 2010

No Resolution

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I was going to be at a fabulous party tonight and instead I’m at home blogging with a horrid flu, a partially torn plantar fascia (the band of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot) and a healthy dose of self-pity and deja vu. I feel like this happens every year in some form or another.

I resolved years ago to bag the whole resolution thing, because “resolution” is just a fancy term for the never ending lists I keep of all the ways I’m not good enough, thin enough, productive enough, disciplined enough, selfless enough etc etc.

So screw resolutions. Every day is a new beginning and there is no such thing as a new beginning. Tomorrow is not a magical day during which I will suddenly find the inner reserves to keep my yard tidier, finally hang that curtain rod in my kitchen, volunteer at an orphanage in Tibet, write another book, win the attachment parenting award and not eat candy bars at night. Tomorrow is just another chance for me to practice compassion toward myself and the world around me.

So Happy New Year, all. And thanks for reading my rants for another year. Truly.

What I Did on My Christmas Vacation…

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I took an ill-advised Dayquil way too late in the day and now I’m huddled in the corner of a hotel room typing away in the dark like a regular tweaker. I’m the last of the clan to succumb to this beastly, mutant virus and it has made our trip to Palm Springs more of an endurance exercise than a vacation.

Here’s a pic from our hike in Joshua Tree. A worthy endurance exercise if ever there was one.

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T got tired and lay down in the middle of the trail:

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We’ve been here for a few days because we felt like we needed a non-work-related family getaway. I try to keep this blog fairly humorous most of the time, but I have to get real and say that it’s been hard lately. T’s anxiety, aggression and control issues are through the roof. I’m digging deeper than I ever thought possible and still sometimes find myself losing my patience and snapping in ways I’m not proud of.

I believe we’re facing the fallout of T’s early childhood trauma. I console myself with the knowledge that I have a tremendous number of resources and a strong community of parents who have grappled with similar challenges. I’m discovering that feeling theoretically prepared for a high-needs child and actually dealing with the daily reality, particularly when I’m feeling off my game, is a very different thing. I know that we’ll get through this together and that we’ll emerge wiser on the other side. I’m just not sure how yet.

On the flip side, there is the unbearable sweetness of Christmas morning…

Best Ever Christmas morning quote:

Dad: (pointing to the brand new bike with the big red bow) What did Santa bring you?
Tariku: (pointing to the chair next to it, which has been there for years) A CHAIR!

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Our Fave Xmas Movie

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I just realized that Elf, our all-time fave Shriner Christmas movie, is about adoption and identity. I’ll watch it with a whole new perspective now.

Merry Christmas, all. And remember what Buddy the Elf says: The best way of spreading Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

So rock on with your Christmas stockings on!

He Said, She Said

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Scott and I are now featured relationship vloggers on The Nest’s new series, He Said, She Said. Along with three other couples, we’re vlogging on a new relationship topic every week. Find out what we think about everything from nagging to white lies to rehab.

Have a Creepy, Kooky and Ooky Holiday!

And we mean that in the best way.

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The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

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You can order signed copies my memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem directly from Vroman’s Bookstore. Go ahead and call them at 626-449-5320 and they can still get one to you before Christmas! Or if you live near Pasadena, stop in the store.

Babies and Bombshells

T is crazy about the ladies. He’s wild about legs. He will regularly walk up to a teenage girl in a short skirt, hitch himself to her leg, and declare, “LEGS!!” It’s generally more hilarious than it is embarrassing. I sometimes wonder if it has anything to do with the Lady Gaga videos I let him watch as a baby.

No surprise then that his new obsession is the controversial Katy Perry/Elmo video (if you’re reading this on Facebook, see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHROHJlU_Ng). I think it’s playful and adorable. I guess the big issue with this is that she’s showing too much booby. Huh? I think kids can handle a little booby. We’re talking the same boobies that these kids were recently sucking on, right? I’m obviously not your average mom when it comes to stuff like this, but come on.

Whenever things like this come up, I can’t help but think about the depth of the love/hate relationship that our culture has with women’s bodies. We pathologically sexualize women’s bodies and then turn around and demonize them for it.

Katy Perry’s dress in the video is actually pretty tame. Frankly, she’d be sexy in a paper sack and I think it’s her sexiness that parents are reacting to and not the dress itself. As a parent, I’m a lot less concerned about a little sexiness in my son’s life than I am the rampant commercialism and militarism in children’s toys and media.

Now Elmo’s consistent nudity, that’s another story…

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The Big Lie

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I’ve been absent due to a week-long unintentional Amish-type retreat. My computer and my car were both vandalized- the computer by my monster toddler and the car by some jerkwad in the Petco parking lot. This happened while Scott was on tour and all of my babysitters got the flu at the same time. It sort of felt like God saying, “Chill the heck out and spend some time with your kid.” So that’s what I did. But now I’m back with a question…

Do you perpetuate the Big Lie? Do you participate in the world’s oldest ploy to manipulate children into good behavior?

And by that I mean, of course, Santa. Now, I didn’t grow up believing in Santa, so I never had the traumatic revelation of the fallacy of that belief. You’d think that my Christian husband would weigh in more heavily on this decision, but he keeps throwing the ball back in my court. I’ve done an informal poll of my friends and it seems that all but the most devout (from a couple of different camps) perpetuate the lie.

I guess in the end it was my love of stories and magic that tipped the scale. So I have arrived at a yes. Yes, we’re perpetuating the Big Lie. But then another question arises- how do you tell the story? When the mall Santa asked T if he had been a good boy, T looked at him like, “huh?” Because we don’t use language like that. We don’t classify him as “good” or “bad,” “naughty” or “nice.” We prefer the Nonviolent Parenting model of looking at T’s behavior as a system of needs and strategies.

Although lately I’ve been tempted to start in with the threat/bribe aspect of the Santa story because T has been so, well, so BAD. And I was hardly successful in employing my nonviolent paradigm when T darted into the middle of an intersection as the light changed. I employed the Mommy Dearest paradigm that day. But I digress.

In spite of my temptation to lord that mythic piece of coal over T’s head, we’re eschewing the naughty/nice concept and focusing instead on the sled/reindeer/fat guy in a red suit stuff. So far, T is just concerned that the dogs are going to bark at Santa and scare him.

How about you? How do you tell the story?

Dinner SOS!

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When I was at the National Press Club Book Fair in DC, I got turned on to a bunch of great new books, but I wanted to share with you my new fave. Aviva Goldfarb’s SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue.

I’m someone who finds it terrifically challenging to keep my family fed. I enjoy cooking when I have all day to wander a farmer’s market and prepare some snazzy recipe, which happens exactly NEVER anymore. Time constraints combined with my concerns about our health, the environment and our finances have made cooking dinner into an opportunity for an anxiety attack.

Before I opened this book, I never considered the fact that cookbooks aren’t generally written for busy moms (duh). These recipes have short ingredient lists and prep times, plus they’re yummy and healthy and arranged by season. Such a relief. There are weekly menu suggestions. Corresponding shopping lists are even available on the website.

I haven’t tried it yet, but you can also get a subscription to weekly meal plans, recipes and shopping lists through her website.

Seriously, it’s genius.

Tree and Me

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We got our tree this weekend. It smells great and it looks beautiful and I can’t help but think that I’ve come a long way since my first tree.

My parents weren’t “Hanukkah bush” kind of Jews, so I’d never had the whole Christmas tree experience until Scott and I moved in together seven years ago. Scott was on tour for the first few weeks of December that year, so it was up to me to decorate the apartment if it was going to get done. He had let me know how much Christmas meant to him, so I was determined to deliver.

I got a live tree, because I was totally traumatized by the dead tree thing. Never mind that we lived in an apartment and had nowhere to plant it. I bought a bunch of purple ornaments because I had a styley (translation: ugly), high-concept, purple tree plan. Then I spent hours trying to decorate the thing and when I was done, my fingers were shredded. Why? Because no one told me that there was such a thing as an ornament hanger. I took the top off of every single ornament and then put it back together on the branch, all the while wondering why no one had come up with a better way.

Fast forward to me opening my dedicated ornament storage box in front of the fire with our holiday jams going and, well, I’d say we have ourselves a real holiday around here these days.

Of course, the first thing Tariku did when I opened the ornaments was take out a glass ball and hurl it at the wall, but who can blame him. It looked like a ball, after all.

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Running up that Road

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I have recently realized that I’m a person who needs a chunk of dedicated alone time every day in order to stay sane. Writing time doesn’t count as alone time. I know that seems strange, but it doesn’t. Running time, however, is perfect alone time. And much like writing time, if I don’t carve out a rigid place for it in my schedule, it simply doesn’t get done. Hence this whole crazy marathon idea. It’s really just a bid for time alone.

I ran 14 miles last Saturday and it sucked. Scott has confirmed that this is the only time he has ever seen me get my feet within a mile from anything resembling ice, but ice those swollen puppies I did. Every week, my long runs are murder. I’m not exactly a sylph, floating along the path on fairy wings. But I finished it.

All of this running has allowed me to observe something about my mind and the way it attempts to defeat me. Along the course of every run, my primary recurring thought is, “There’s no way I can do this.” Last week, I talked back to myself (lots of time for crazy internal dialogue when you’re running for three hours) and said, “Thanks very much for that observation, but I am doing it.”

It’s still inconceivable to me that I’ll run 26.2 miles, but no one’s asking me to run 26.2 miles yet and it’s not particularly productive for me to focus on that number. All I have to do next is run 16 miles. That I can do. And really, all I have to run is the next step that’s in front of me. Sometimes even that seems nearly impossible, but I haven’t quit yet and I feel great about it, even when it sucks.

Working around a toddler schedule, alone time is something I secure with the help of daddy, friends, aunties and babysitters. I think running is kind of like writing in that it seems like a solitary effort but it’s anything but. My saintly husband has pretty much taken over the morning Tariku shift without a complaint. We used to switch off so that at least one of us could sleep until the decadent hour of 7am. That still happens once in a while, but not nearly as often.

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Then there’s my friend Dylan Berkey, who has been showing up and helping to keep my core strong, both literally and figuratively. I attribute to her the fact that my injured back is holding together through all this training. She’s a combination of a trainer, therapist, buddy and shaman. Every Monday we climb a mountain and talk and then do a bunch of beastly exercises at the top, during which I complain a lot and tell her how I can’t do it (while I am doing it). Above is a picture she took of me on top of the mountain, practicing my triumphant double fist-pump. My time with her is one of the highlights of my week. You must check out her Traverse Integrative Outdoor Therapy website.

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Then there are my new buddies at L.A. Road Runners. I do my long runs with them on Saturday mornings. Because I definitely need alone time, but not three miserable, foot-pounding, lung-aching hours of it. When things get hard, it helps to just space out and let the energy of the group carry me along.

Actually, is there anyone in L.A. I haven’t enlisted in my quest for alone time? Like with everything else in my life, I believe in asking for lots of help.

Backstage Baby Riot

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I rarely get all rock-wife and call Scott’s manager demanding tickets to something, but once in a while my deep sense of democracy is overturned and I pull out all the stops. Last Saturday was one of those times. By the time I looked up tickets for Yo Gabba Gabba’s “Party in my City,” there were only nose bleeders left, so I got on the horn. Next thing I knew we were at the wildest backstage party I’ve been at in years, at which a bunch of over-stimulated hipster toddlers were given free raisins and balloons and offered a chance to meet their Gabbaland pals. It was practically a baby riot.

The show was adorable and it was a hoot to see Biz Markie doing “Biz’s Beat” in person. T-bone was sort of stunned for the first half of the show, but by the end he was laughing and dancing like crazy. Scott got the trooper of the day award, as he went straight from Gabba to his own Blue Album show at the Gibson Amphitheater.

We made Lina Lecaro’s column in The Weekly. In the old days, I used to see Lina at clubs and burlesque shows. Now we’re bumping into each other in D.J. Lance Rock’s dressing room. I’m definitely better off now, even if my shoe selection isn’t quite as exciting.

I’m thrilled to report that D.J. Lance is an absolutely delightful guy. Tariku has been walking around for days saying that D.J. Lance called him “AWESOME.” T gave him a big kiss. It was too cute.

I started out as a no-TV-and-only-wooden-toys-made-by-diverse-elves-living-on-an-eco-commune kind of mom. But that was before I actually was a mom. No TV was a great theory that went out the window as soon as I came across the dilemma of having to cook dinner and watch a toddler at the same time. I know that some parents do just fine without the tube, but for me it’s a necessary evil. As far as necessary evils go, I have to say that Gabba is pretty darn fun.

Scott’s Spontaneous Parenting Poem

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Does parenting ever feel to you like this picture I took at our (last for a long time) attempt at Disneyland last night? Then perhaps you’ll relate to this word-for-word transcription of a spontaneous piece of parenting poetry recited by Scott after the following exchange this morning:

Scott: Do you want to wear your black shoes or your Brobee shoes?
Tariku: Brobee shoes!
Scott: Okay, great. Let’s put on your Brobee shoes.
Tariku: (in a high pitched scream that fades to an extended whine): NOOOOOOOOO!! Nooooooooooooo Brobeeeeeee shoooooooooes.

Repeat this exchange fifty times an hour about every single thing from toothbrush color to song selection to breakfast and you get…

A Father’s Poem/Prayer:

I need help, man.
I need a class.
I need a meeting.
I need Jesus.
I need Amma.
I need the Dalai Lama.
I need Tony Soprano.
I need Marlon Brando.
I need help, man.
I need help.

Happy Hanukkah!

We’re a greatest hits of world religions kind of family. We’ve got Hanukkah gelt in the candy dish and Christmas pajamas out the wazoo. On our mantle we have a Christmas angel next to a Menorah next to a statue of Ganesh next to a House Blessing candle cooked up for us by my pagan friend Lorna. On any given night, you’re as likely to find one of us reading The Tao of Pooh or The Sermon on the Mount (or Mr. Brown Can Moo). But what I love most about the holidays that converge during this time is that they’re all about bringing light into the year’s darkest days.

And with that, I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah, the festival of lights. I heard Matisyahu singing this song on the radio last night and I’m addicted. If you’re reading this on my Facebook feed, head over to my blog to see the video. I’ll also post it separately because it’s so darn good.

Oh, and speaking of holiday music, I heard a holiday album the other day that didn’t make me gag. In fact, it’s awesome. Check out Pink Martini’s Joy to the World.

And just to totally kill my holiday buzz, we’re heading to Disney Land this afternoon. May the force be with me.

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