Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is There a Doctor In the House?

Ziggy has known what she wants to be since she was, oh, maybe five or six.

I'm not sure when it happened, or even how... but somewhere around that age she decided she was going to be a doctor.

I'd come home from work and there she was, like most kids her age, sitting on the couch, eyes glued to the tv.

Only unlike most kids, Zig was watching a caesarean birth. Or the separation of conjoined twins - this one was always a hit with her. Or a heart transplant.

Around the age of seven she chose her college - Harvard. I think it had more to do with the fun vibe of Harvard Square, not to mention the huge candy store.

I took Zig to Manhattan for the first time when she was nine or ten. By this time she had narrowed her chosen field down to surgery. Not only would she be a doctor, she would be a surgeon.

My suburban girl fell in love with the sites, sounds and ugh, even the smells of New York. She tries to talk me into going back for a night or two every few months.
And so her career was still focused on medicine but now her college of choice? NYU.

Not only did Manhattan have Times Square and peanuts on every corner, but Mary Kate and Ashley went to NYU and if it's good enough for them... yeah.

Ziggy's a teenager now and will be entering high school soon. She's still focused, even more so than before. She has narrowed her field even futher - cosmetic surgery.

On the one hand I'm hoping she will be using her skills to help those less fortunate - burn victims for example. On the other hand, I eagerly await receiving the deep family discount on a lift and a tuck. I figure by the time she graduates, I'll need both.

Stanford is now her school of choice. Not sure why, other than the fact that it, like Harvard and NYU, comes with a hefty price tag.

I look at her going to Stanford in a much different light than Harvard or NYU - essentially I have four more years to selfishly talk her out of crossing the country and leaving me for a college too far away to come home for weekends and holidays.

Zig has even planned her marriage and the birth of her two children to work around her education and career training - hopefully she finds the right man at the right time who is willing to conform to her Master Plan.

Did you ever remember having that much focus at so young an age? I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up until... well, last year I think.

I love that girl. But her absolute faith in herself is one of the many, oh so very many reasons I admire her too.

Zig may grow up to be a doctor and realize her childhood dream. She may not. Either way is ok with me as long as she's happy and knows that God has a plan for her life.

But whatever Ziggy becomes, and wherever her college choices and career path lead her (ok, not actually wherever - I meant wherever as long as it's near home), she'll always be her mommy's girl.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Power of Observation

You've had that Jeep for how long? Two years? And you didn't know it had a remote starter???

Wait, let me back up a second.

Men are better than women at a lot of things. Lifting heavy objects, for example. And... um... other stuff that I can't quite think of right now.

But observation? Let's be totally honest here guys, you notice very little about... very little.

Maybe you did see the hot girl walking by in the mini-skirt. But did you notice her nail polish is chipped? Or the color of her shoes?

Ok, you notice the grass needs mowing - yay! Bonus points for you. But did you also happen to see that the pool has turned a murky shade of green? You know, the pool - that huge gaping hole filled with water smack in the middle of all the overgrown grass? Yeah that thing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally bashing your observation skills, or lack thereof. Sometimes it even works to my benefit.

TK never notices when I've gained a couple of pounds.

Or that the jet black of my top doesn't quite match the faded off-black-almost-grey of my skirt.

He's not once brought up the topic of waxing and my eyebrows in the same conversation.

Best of all he hasn't noticed that in the 10 years we've known each other I've aged, well, about 10 years. So honey, thank you very much for not noticing.


There are other small areas I would like you to notice.

My new haircut. My new boots. The new furniture.

The milk that you just poured that was the last of the gallon. Because the milkman is not due to visit the house anytime in the next century so someone should add it to the grocery list. Yes, the one we keep on the counter. The counter near the coffee machine. The coffee machine that doesn't work. That one.

You know what else would be cool? If you realized that the brand of shampoo I use hasn't varied since time began and no, I don't use nor want the 45 gallon green jug of shampoo from the warehouse club but thanks for picking that up. It sure looks heavy. And you are good at lifting heavy things.

I used to get frustrated when I sent TK to the store with grocery list in hand only to receive a text from the condiment aisle. "Is whole grain mustard and yellow mustard the same thing? What color is whole grain mustard? And is it kept with other mustards or someplace else? Can I just buy ketchup instead?"

At least you go to the store so I'm not complaining. Much.

But not noticing that the Jeep you have been driving for two years has a remote start button on your key fob?

Oh TK.

What did you think that little button did?

I won't even go into how if you read the instruction manual for your car that you would've known what it did but you're a guy and guys just don't read instructions... but seriously, what did you think would happen if you pressed it?

Would it turn on your invisibility mode and you weren't sure how to reappear?

Maybe it would turbo boost your engine, sending you careening off down the highway out of control, causing accidents left and right like something out of a Keanu Reeves movie.

Or I know, maybe the little button would open the door into a vast portal that takes you to another dimension which would take you far, far away from me so you knew better than to mess with it.

Yeah, that was probably it. Good thing you didn't press it, huh?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quinn Cummings Interview, re-post

It's school vacation week here in Massachusetts and to top it off, the little people have me running around doing all kinds of little people stuff... I'll have a new blog posted soon, I promise! But in the meantime, here's one that was originallly posted last July.

My interview with Quinn Cummings.

Quinn Cummings, author, inventor, mother, fellow blogger and in a previous life, actress and agent.

And while that’s quite an impressive mini-bio it wouldn’t be complete without mentioning she’s my new Best Friend. Second BFF, after Doreen of course.

Recently Quinn and I sat down over triple soy half decaf extra grande lattes with a dusting of Guatemalan nutmeg to talk about her new book and well, life in general.

And me.

Honestly, the girl likes to talk a lot about me. (Ok, ok, confession: I was sipping coffee from Dunkins here at home while Quinn was in sunny LA, drinking iced chai tea in her pajamas, emails bridging the distance. Whatever. We were together in spirit.)

Fortunate for you, I am able to share some of our girl-chat with you today.

Me: I've just returned from a jaunt to Barnes & Noble where I picked up your book, "Notes from the Underwire". In spite of my repeated assurances to everyone that I was, in fact, your new BFF, they made me pay for it anyway. And it was so worth it! While my nose is still deep in the folds absorbing that new book smell, I have to take my face out of it for a moment to tell everyone out there: If you haven't had the opportunity to read it yet, you MUST! And I'm not just saying that because we're BFF's either.

Quinn: Thank you so much. So you don't want the other half of my heart necklace?

Me: That would be awesome, did you get my name engraved? Know what else is awesome? Your book. I love the stories you have shared about your relationship with Alice and found myself laughing and cringing right along with you. How was your relationship with your mom similar? How was it different?

Quinn: I'm fanatic about telling her the truth, which I think is very much how I was brought up. We laugh a lot; my mom and I did that. But my mother had to work for financial reasons and I'm home with her a lot more in any given week. Not better, not worse, not cheerleading for Team Stay at Home Mom, but it's very different.

Me: What was the biggest life lesson you learned from your mom that you hope to pass on to Alice?

Quinn: My mother told me often that my talent was very nice but it was something I couldn't help, it was a gift from God, but she took as much pride in my being punctual, professional and courteous. She was right; the arts are full of badly-behaved moderately talented people and very few make it the distance, because too many people are all too happy to see them fall.

Me: Speaking of writing, which post on my blog was your favorite and why? (Ok, just kidding. No not really)

Quinn: Oh, that one where you...said stuff! It was great! Really, hysterical. Also, I cried. The sordid truth is that I've been very light on reading first-person confessional blogs lately, because my writing-voice has a nasty habit of taking on the flavor of whatever I read. It's like literary tofu. I'm safest with pictures of cats captioned in pidgin English but really, aren't we all?

Me: During our conversation, you’ve said several really nice things to me. Thank you, you’re so sweet! What's the nicest thing a person ever said to you as a child? As an adult?

Quinn: There was an interview Tom Shayles did about me when I was a kid where he noted that, all things considered, I was a pretty normal little kid. Considering how weird I had seemed in every interview up until then, I remember being pleased. Now I like when I find someone who, commenting about my blog, describes me as "You know, a pretty normal person." When you're a former child actor, normal is a very big deal.

Me: So if you could either act or write, which one would you choose? What if you never had an audience to perform for or to read your writing, would you still choose the same?

Quinn: I wrote for several months before I got a hit counter or, as I refer to it, "The outer manifestation of my inner worth." During those months, I tended to assume no one was reading the blog, because I'm Eeyore-ish like that, and yet I kept doing it, because it pleased me and it made Consort laugh when he corrected my punctuation. I loved the bit of acting which comes between "Action" and "Cut," but I disliked the rest, and the actual acting part of the acting life is statistically insignificant. I've already spent more hours in happy pursuit of writing than I did acting.

Me: When writing your book, was there anything that you considered taking out before publication? Or was there anything that was removed that you regret deleting?

Quinn: I thought long and hard before I added in "Like a Tattoo on Your Butt," because I was concerned people would think it was an attack on my mom. She made a difficult decision about keeping a health situation secret because, among other reasons, she was afraid she would get fired for being sick. Anyone feels like judging her, they can answer to me. Anything I removed was for the best.

Me: Some people remove the nuts from their brownies. As my BFF, you know I prefer my brownies with nuts. Are you more of a "with nuts" kind of person, or "without"?

Quinn: See, nuts are perfect because then you can pretend you're only eating the brownie for the Omega-3's in the walnuts. That’s why I'd eat my weight in pesto with a clear and happy conscience, not to mention a wide and copious butt.

Me: If your book was a fine wine, would it be deep and peppery? Fruity and light? Would it go well with chocolate or brownies? How would you describe it?

Quinn: I'd like to think I was very drinkable and that I have a stronger kick than you'd expect. Also, oaky. I've always like that wine term and it would please me to be oaky.

Me: Since you’re not getting the hint that I’d like snacks and a beverage, let’s talk more about your book. Writers and actors everywhere talk about their "amazing journey"; it's become the catchphrase of our time (and one I despise). Without using the words "amazing" or "journey", tell me what led you to write about your, um, amazing journey.

Quinn: The kid who just sailed around the world before he turned eighteen is allowed to discuss his amazing journey. My book is a bunch of stuff. I like to think I probably have the same amount of embarrassing incidents as other people but am blessed with a nearly eidetic memory for my own petty humiliations and a lack of the genetic material which tells you when you're defaming everyone who shares your last name.

Me: You mentioned previously that "normal is a very big deal". Based on your book, that seems quite an accomplishment when living in LA. What do you do to stay normal?

Quinn: I live my life. Yesterday was publication day, which was exciting. But the kid still needed to get her hair trimmed and the dog had to have an antibiotic hidden in butter. It's hard to feel fancy when you're slipping a pill into a butter-pocket.

Me: Oh I know the feeling, girlfriend. I do the same for my husband’s sleeping pills. When he’s not sleeping, TK frequently steps up on his soap box (as written about in my blog) when it comes to certain political practices. I can get heated up when I discuss family issues. What gets you up on your soap box? And what does it take to bring you back down?

Quinn: People walking dogs who are abundantly unneutered make me start mumbling under my breath like a crazy person. Dude (and it's usually a man walking him), the world doesn't need another red-nosed pit, lop those off.

Me: Know what keeps me up at night? I think the next generation is suffering from many things but mostly, I worry about their lack of good ad slogans. We grew up wondering how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, wondering where the beef was and what we would do for a Klondike Bar. If you had only one catchy slogan used to sum up your life so far, what would it be? Would it be the same if you had to print it on t-shirts and hats and wear it until your dying day?

Quinn: I've always had a fondness for "Exit, pursued by a bear." It covers both my general lifetime unease and will, I suspect, also end up being my obit.

Me: That’s great, maybe a title for your next book? I confess that while I have not finished “Notes from the Underwire” yet, I did skim through the second half to ensure there was a "happily ever after" ending. Imagine my disappointment when one glaringly obvious fact became, well, glaringly obvious. I see that you forgot to mention me. Was that intentional? I mean, will there be a sequel featuring me? Or did I just ruin the surprise by asking that?

Quinn: It's like this. First, I stalk you. Then, I live behind your trash cans for a while. Then, I write about you. Now please stop bothering me; I'm weaving hair I found on your hairbrush into an ankle bracelet.

Quinn, thank you for being such a good sport and joining me on the blog today! Quinn's book "Notes from the Underwire" is available at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and everywhere else really cool books by really cool people are sold.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This thing called love

Dear Friends,

I'm in love. Yup, me. Let's face it, none of us saw this coming did we? In the past eight years, my dating life has been fodder for your entertainment. It's been an experience that is for sure. Since this is a rated PG blog I won't go into details, but you all know what I'm saying.

As funny as those stories were, most of the time dating was not so much fun. I appreciate that you've always been there for me. At times, it was difficult always being the "single one" of our group. But it wasn't in me to settle just for the sake of having a boyfriend. So I was always the chick without the +1 for our group events. You always opened your homes to me on major holidays so that I wouldn't be alone, and I love you guys for that. But the truth is, I've always felt alone - for 64 major holidays, I've been alone.

This love thing, it's new to me. So please be patient with me. I know I don't spend as much time with you as I used to and I miss you. You've all been in your relationships for a long time now, but remember when you were in the beginning stages of love? How you wanted to spend as much time as possible together? That's where I am right now. It doesn't mean I don't want to spend time with you and we all know that in time things will slow down a bit. But for now, be happy for me okay?

There is plenty of room for everyone in my life, and I love that you want to spend time with me too, but can you cut me a little slack? I'm just new to being a +1. So bare with me. It will all work itself out.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Mother's Love

Ziggy - "Mom, stop! No seriously, stop! Ok -" insert dry kiss on cheek here, "I kissed you good night. Now go!"

Me - "Smooch! Smooch! Smooch!"

Ziggy - "Ok, enough! Why do you keep kissing all over my face. AAAAARRGGGHHH! Oh no, mom! Not hugs too! Stop! Squeezing! So! Hard!"

Me, still puckered up and now hugging Ziggy with a grip GI Joe would envy - "But I loooove you sooooo much baby girl!"

Ziggy - "I love you too but you don't see me hanging and slobbering all over you. You're so close I can see the hairs up your nose. And I think I see a gray one."

Me - "Now that's not funny. Ok, maybe just a little bit. But I love you and this is how I show it, whether you like it or not."

Ziggy - "Well I don't actually like it so..."

Me - "Ok let me put it this way, what if Spendy invited you over for chicken and you were all like "oooh I adore chicken!" and then she served it on a blue platter and you didn't like blue platters. Would you tell her to take the chicken back and serve it on a pink dish instead?"

Ziggy - "Um. Chicken?"

Me - "It's an analogy, Zig."

Ziggy - "So you're the chicken?"

Me - "Yes. I mean no. My love is the chicken. And my kisses and hugs are the blue platter."

Ziggy - "So what does the pink dish have to do with your love?"

Me - "Ugh! I am trying to show my love, or the chicken, by giving you hugs and kisses, aka the blue platter. But instead you want, I don't know, let's say a trip to the mall to buy boots, which is represented by the pink dish."

Ziggy - "So you don't want to take to me to the mall then?"

Me - "No, I don't. I mean yes. I don't know, maybe. There was a cute scarf I've been meaning to pick up..."

Ziggy - "I'll get my coat."

Me - "Wait. Focus for a second. I really want to make sure you get what I'm trying to tell you. It's important. Not just for me and you and our relationship now but for future relationships, too. Someday you'll meet a great guy. And you'll want him to love you. And he'll show it how he's comfortable showing it. You can't want someone to love you and then criticize the way they show it. Chicken equals love, my girl."

Confusion crossed her face and then cleared. Her face lit up. Oh my goodness, this was it - our mother daughter moment. A bonding moment that will be relived for generations to come as Ziggy falls in and out of love. A Hallmark commercial in the making. My eyes began to glisten with tears as my daughter reached a hand out to me.

Ziggy - "If chicken equals love, and chicken nuggets are 100% white meat, can we stop at McDonalds on our way to the mall?"

Ohhh Zig. Of course we can.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Faceless Fairy

I make cookies and cakes. I am by no means a professional baker, but my cake decorating skills are slightly above average. My cookies are a work of art. Word of mouth through co-workers and friends keep me busy. I've never had a complaint, except when it comes to TK & Sharon. It's not that they complain, but I've noticed a trend when I make cakes for them.

I made a cake for Ziggy's 13th birthday - perfection

I made a cake for Ziggy's cheerleader dinner party - spectacular

I made a cake for one of the Rugrat's birthday's - fabulous

And then I've made other cakes that are just cursed. I've decided that it's a chocolate cake curse, because every time I make a vanilla cake, no issues. But request a chocolate cake... and something ALWAYS happens.

Case in point - TK LOVES chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting. Last year I was asked to make the cake for his birthday party. Sure, no problem - I've made this type of cake before plenty of times. This should be easy. Ironically, that weekend I had two other cakes to make - so I put TK's cake off until the last minute. Well, the frosting was a chocolate fudge frosting that is made by melting the chocolate and then adding confectionery sugar. Add the fact that the chocolate cake had not completely cooled before I frosted it - and you have a disaster. The cake itself tasted great, but it was not very pretty to look at.

After I made Rugrat #1's cake in December, his sister told me she wanted a Tinkerbell cake for her birthday in January. She wanted a chocolate cake. Do I need to say anymore? I made the cake the night before, it came out awesome. I had it sitting on my dining room table in the cake carrier ready to go. I spent the night at Batman's house... we had a lazy morning, I made us breakfast...we took our time that morning. After all, the cake was made, I just needed to stop by my house and pick it up. The party is at 1:00. At 12:30 I head home to pick up the cake. It is tipped over on the floor, still encased in it's protective carrier - but now Tinkerbell is just a blur of frosting. Panic. I tried to repair her, but it was not working...so I had to re-frost the entire cake! The frosting I use is not some store-bought-in-a-jar stuff. It's made from scratch. So I had to redo Tink and still try to make the party. I was late, and Tink had no face. She was a faceless fairy. I didn't take a picture of her because I was rushing around and by the time we got to the party (2 hours later) People were ready for cake.

So the moral of this story? Need a cake? I'm your gal ... but I warn you now, if you ask for a chocolate cake - there are no promises on what you'll get.

I'm just sayin.

Books, Glorious Books!

Dear Sweet Loving Books,

I was wrong.

There I said it.

I got the words out and didn't throw up (much) as I said them.

Ok allow me to rephrase that.

I was right at the time I said all those things I said to you, you know about how shallow you are, how boring, how blah, blah, blah.

I was right. Then. At that particular moment in time. Now? Not so much.

I was, I will admit, perhaps a bit too harsh. Maybe a tad too quick to point the finger.

The truth is... I do believe I've fallen back in love with you.

My incredible friends have stepped to the plate and well, like all good friends can do, they whupped me up side the head and talked a little sense into me.

You have them to thank for saving us. So say thank you.

It started with Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I was sucked in by the back cover copy and though I braced myself for disappointment... none came. None! It was engaging, moving and well written. Finally, a book I could respect and recommend!

Then one of my newer BFFs in the making, Funky Diva, recommended The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett). In all honesty I haven't read it yet but when she suggested it I remembered that I meant to. Which means it must have piqued my interest at one time. So it's on the list now and I'm excited at the prospect of cracking it open.

Then my nook was whining. A lot. "You've had me since Christmas... buy me something already!" Writers in my writerly circle were all abuzz about Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. So my first official ebook purchase was made. Beth, you had me at "Steel Magnolias meets The Help..."

What would I read next? I no sooner asked the question than it was answered by fellow blogger and writer Shelby Dupree , who was kind enough to feed my reading habit by hosting a giveaway on her site, giving away... you guessed it. Books! Not just any books, but books she swears she read and enjoyed. Thanks Shelby!

Then as if the Book Gods weren't smiling down on me enough, Randy Susan Meyer's debut novel The Murderer's Daughters was released. Well, Randy is not only a fellow Backspace member but also a Boston girl... how could I not read it? Plus I'm seeing her on Thursday so the least I could do is read it, right?

Let me interrupt myself for a moment... I have a few writer friends / acquaintances. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be friends with a writer?

Or, to be more specific - Do you have any idea how hard it is to be friends with a writer who gets published before you and whose book you shelled out twenty bucks for only to think when you finish it is what great kindling it would make for your fire and would the marshallows you roasted over it while it burned now taste nasty?

So, yeah, I was a bit nervous about reading it.

Well let me just say this - It's all I can do to sit here and write this post and not crawl back under the covers with Randy's book. I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK.

Last night, after TK peeled the book from my face (I just rested it there for a second, I wasn't sleeping, really), I climbed out of my toasty warm bed and shuffled downstairs to make some coffee just so I could stay awake and find out what happens to Merry.

Then I remembered my Keurig was broken.

Stupid Keurig.

Anyway, my point is... I'm sorry Books. I was right. You were wrong. And then I was wrong. Now you're right.

But if we give it one more try I think we can make this work. Because I love you Books.

And if loving you is wrong then I don't want to be right.

Now stop gloating and hush up so I can get back to my reading.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Just Like That, Only Different...

When I tell people I'm a writer I typically get one of three responses.

1 - Really? I have always wanted to write. People tell me I should write a book about my life, as it's so fascinating. Which it totally is, you know. You see it all started when I was four and my family moved to Pittsburg. Or was it Akron...

2 - Wow you write? Like books? What's it about? No wait, do you know Stephen King? Or, hey do you know that lady who wrote the vampire book? Now that's a great writer! Can you get her autograph for me? Hey Maureen! Sharon wrote a book, about vampires!

3 - What did you say your book was about? Huh. I like it. No, I really like it. But you know what would be even better? (click on the video for the rest of this conversation)

* Saw this first on The Swivet, a blog by Colleen Lindsey, agent at FinePrint Literary Management