Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Hangover and Adrienne Harris's Diary

Not long ago, after a night of Holiday Partying that was both really fun and full of some (probably) really bad decisions, I arrived home very late/very early. Crawling into my bed, as the sun rose silently in the East I smiled to myself and patted myself on the back, congratulating myself on all the fun I'd had. "See, isn't being single and unencumbered by responsibility fun!?" I said to myself as I drifted off to sleep...

My mid-day wake up call was a real slap in the face. Literally. Not only did I awake to a roaring hangover, to contact lenses dried tight to my eyeballs and a bedroom floor full of last nights party attire, but also to my little dog, Jasper, literally slapping me in the face with his paw, informing me that he, like all creatures I know, needed to pee, eat and be loved. The rest of the day was spent in recovery and preparation for another busy/terrible night at work. It was a hell of a way to spend one's Christmas Eve.

Then Christmas day arrived, as it does every year, bright and early on the 25th of December. I've never spent a Christmas alone before. It wasn't so bad. There were still presents to open and coffee to drink. I listened to Christmas music and ate my family's traditional Christmas Breakfast item, a cinnamon bun, I just simply did these things by myself. I then headed over to a FWB's house for Christmas luncheon. I arrived at the party at 2:00 with my pot luck contributions and celebrated the Holiday with three married couples and their babies. If you know me, this shouldn't surprise you. It didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was how I felt about it after. Blue. Even after such a great day, I still felt a little blue. But comically so, in the manner of Bridget Jones. In fact, I felt the undeniable desire to eat the entire contents of my fridge and lie on my couch watching Fatal Attraction with a bottle of wine for company and just generally feel very sorry for myself. Instead, I went to my neighbors who had family visiting from London and spent the rest of the evening drinking and laughing with them. A much better choice than lying on my couch, eating and drinking alone.

Everyone tells you that the Holidays are hard. They are hard if you are with your loved ones because of the stress of travel, cooking, gift giving and money spending. And they are hard if you are NOT with your loved ones because of the stress of loneliness, shipping, and making New Year's Eve plans. No matter how you play your Holiday, all roads lead to HARD. But we do it every year. Even Bridget Jones goes to her mother's annual Turkey Curry Buffet every year, even though it is always hard, and she never has any fun.

I've been a little obsessed with Bridget Jones lately. My parents giving me a new diary for Christmas sure didn't help. She's not a bad role model for a gal like me to have, but she's probably not the best one either. She's likable, as (I hope) am I. Like me, she has a job that she tolerates, but doesn't love. She has a few really great friends who are single and some lovely "Smug Marrieds" as do I. (Sorry married friends, you're not really smug, I swear.) She is eager to fall in love, but totally unsure of how to do it. In some ways I am exactly like her, except that I don't have a sexy british accent and I'm not blond. Dammit! Bloody Hell! She makes a lot of mistakes too, though. She wears inappropriate clothing to work, she sleeps with her boss and she can't cook! But she's a great role model, even for an American Brunette like myself, because in one year of her life, with the help of a diary and friends and an obsessive monitoring of her weight and cigarette/alcohol consumption she manages to have a pretty fantastic time, full of hilarity, parties, and complete with a new better job and a sexy lawyer boyfriend (who she meets at the Turkey Curry Buffet. Ha!)

So with my goals for 2013 all set up, and a new diary in hand (let's face it, I'm a grown up, American woman, I call it a journal) I feel ready to face the new year. So many great things are going to happen next year. I can think of at least 3 (but probably more) friends who are having babies. There's bound to be at least a couple of marriages (although I am currently running out of single friends so at least that number will have to dwindle.) And if all goes to plan I will get my dream job, make my first feature film, and finish the other 5 screenplays that I'm currently writing, and still have time to visit with all of my FWBs who's Holiday Cards are all over my fire place. And if there's a little time left over, and someone throws a Turkey Curry Buffet...well, who knows what could happen. Watch out Ms. Jones. I've got my diary, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

L.A. calling NYC

As we all know, recently a weather disaster called Hurricane Sandy rocked the East Coast.  New York City was devastated and my old stomping ground of the East Village was drowned. I know this because I read about it, I watched news footage, I talked to friends on the phone and I looked at people's pictures on Facebook. I wasn't there...but I kind of wish that I had been.

I was in New York City for most of the major events that the city has survived over the past decade or so. I was there on 9/11. I watched the second tower fall and the parade of ash covered Wall Streeters march uptown. I was there for the blackout and the transit strike and the blizzard that shut everything down for days and made the streets silent. It was devastating and difficult, but also it was uniting, just like Sandy seemed to be for my friends that live there now. People's Facebook posts read "We have power, and water and food. Come uptown and be safe and warm." and "Power's back on here, and I'm cooking chili. Everyone is welcome." New Yorkers have an amazing way of turning tragedy into a party, and if that sounds like I'm making light of the subject, then forgive me. I simply mean, well done, New Yorkers...and I really miss you guys.

I often fantasize about moving back to New York now that I am single. L.A., all though it is sunny, does not seem to work for my new Sexy Single Life (S.S.L.) as well as I would have hoped. You don't meet people out walking the dog in L.A. I mostly pass other people's gardeners as Jasper and I roam out suburban neighborhood.  And the gardeners don't want to talk to me. They are busy gardening, for Christ sake. They don't have time to hear about the passing thoughts of a writer who mostly thinks about her dog and can't keep a plant alive.

New York seems like the perfect place for a lonely person. There are friends who meet for drinks after work, and cab drivers, and bartenders, and coffee carts, and park benches. Now, I know what you're going to say, "There are all of those things and people in L.A. too, Adrienne," but I am telling you, it is not the same! You have to drive to those park benches and add extra time for traffic, and pay for parking. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of things I love about L.A. as well, I'm just missing NYC at the moment.

My recent obsession with my S.S.L. taking place in New York is probably because my two S.S.Lifestyle role models lived in New York...Carrie Bradshaw and Liz Lemon. Two awesome writers looking for love and the path to "having it all" in the city that never sleeps. Granted, my S.S.L. is a little more Liz Lemon than it is Carrie Bradshaw. It's more writing late night and frozen pizzas in front of the tv, than Cosmos at the hot new fusion restaurant and Mr. Big, but the location is the same. No drunk driving, no paying for parking, and a revolving door of new and interesting people at all times. I also realize that they were/are characters on scripted television shows but go with me on this. Could Liz or Carrie have hacked it in L.A.? Probably not. L.A. is not for the lonely.  I'm not packing my bags just yet, but it's nice to think about the escape, even if there are hurricanes and snow storms standing in my way.

In other news, I was recently asked by a FWB (friend with baby) to be the back up mom to the back up mom to her 7 month old son, Eli, in case something were to happen to her and her husband. My sister, Natalie, and her husband were named Eli's legal guardians in case of such a tragic event, but if something happens to Natalie and hubby too, well then Eli is all mine. A lot of really bad, narly stuff would have to happen first, but it's still an honor to be nominated. So,  I guess, I can have it all, even in L.A.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The EX Factor

I will admit that in the past I have always disliked when people talked about their exs. I often found myself struggling to not roll my eyes when a co-worker said "my ex and I went there all the time." Or a friend said, "my ex is a Leo, so you can guess how that turned out." I always wondered, why are these people talking so much about people who are not in their lives anymore? It's not as though they were fondly reminiscing about a deceased pet or an old school mate. No, they were constantly rehashing the nuances of a failed relationship. Why? "Let it go," I would think. But now I get it. It is difficult to cut out a huge piece of your history from your daily thought process. You can walk around your house and remove all the pictures of you both when you were happy from your walls and counter tops and replace them with pictures of friends and deceased pets, but is harder to eliminate the dreaded ex's name from your stories, experiences and verbal history. You can't cut out their presence in your past experiences the way you can cut their head out of photographs. So to all those friends and co-workers who I might have rolled my eyes at (you don't know who you are), I'm sorry. I get it now, and I'm sorry.

I miss my ex-boyfriend, and since most of my memories of him and our time together are positive, he still pops up in so many of my anecdotal stories. At work, at coffee, on the phone, at the grocery store, (as I purchase another pint of ice-cream) I have to fight the urge to say, "Oh, Eric would love that." Or, "Oh, Eric DOES love that." BUT, I am doing better. As the weeks crawl by and I go to sleep and wake up alone it gets easier, just like everyone promised it would. Even Jasper (the dog) is doing better. He went through his own adjustment period after the sudden departure of his second owner. At first, he really struggled. He cried and chewed on the furniture and my shoes. He peed on the carpet...twice! When I would return home he jumped all over me and crawled on top of me. He stared into my eyes, his ears back, his tail down, his eyes wide and sad as if to say "I miss him, Adrienne! What did we do to make him leave us like this???" And I would scream, "I miss him too, Jasper! I get it! I want to pee on the carpet too, but we have to be more positive! We have to take walks and write in our journals. We can't just chew on furniture and pee on the carpet all day. This isn't healthy!"

But Jasper and his depression and anxiety have helped pull me through. I can't stay in bed all day like I sometimes want to because he makes me get up and take him out. He ensures that I get exercise and fresh air. It is delightful to come home to something that is SOOO happy to see you. And he gets me out of the house without him too. There have been a few times where I have spent an extra hour at the coffee shop writing and reading just to have an extra hour away from his needy sad eyes. That sounds bad, but look on the bright side. I got more work done!

So life goes on just like everyone promised it would, and I've started to return to my frequent visits with my friends with babies and have learned about two more friends who will join this club of mine in the coming months. I feel my life returning to normal. I feel my heart as it fills with love for these friends and these babies, I am constantly inspired by these amazing moms and dads who remind me of the many goals I want reach in my life (becoming a parent being only one of them) and I would like to thank all of my friends (with and without babies) for their love and support lately. I promise to return to posting about hilarious little kids and not about broken hearts soon. Until then, Jasper and I soldier on. Keeping our cool in this summer heat wave, trying desperately to keep it together, stay positive and above all else, not chew on the furniture.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Breaking Bad/Break-up Bad

There are a few reasons that it has been so long since my last blog post. The first is laziness/busy schedule. The second is a mild case of writers block that has involved several starts and abandonments of recent post ideas. The third is trauma and grief. That is probably the biggest. For you see, gentle readers, my boyfriend and I have broken up after four and a half years and I am sad. We had a really great relationship, but at the end of the day it came down to one thing...babies. I want them. He, it turns out, does not.

To be fair to myself, I think it is much more complicated than the basic question of whether or not to procreate, but this blog lets me self analyze myself, and I don't think it would be kind to analyze him in this format, so the story we are going with is the basic "we loved each other, we just wanted different things."This is a safe and comfortable story that has no hero and no bad guy. And our love story has no hero and no bad guy so it works and we move forward in our separate lives with this story to use when someone asks. However, life is complicated, and love is complicated and relationships are hard work and the people that you love can surprise in the best and worst ways.

But life goes on. My days are different now. When I arrive home from work sore and tired there is no one there to hug me and rub my shoulders. I have to watch Breaking Bad by myself now, a show I never would have started watching if not for him, but is now too excellent to give up. I'm Jasper's sole guardian now, his sole dog walker, poop collector, belly rubber. It's been almost a month and I still sleep on "my side" of the bed. Somehow, little 12 pound Jasper takes up the other half.

I'm very sad and emotionally erratic and everyone tells me that this is normal. My mother explained that I will experience the stages of grief. Every day, a few times a day I cycle through the stages of grief, sometimes in different orders. DENIAL, ANGER, ICE CREAM EATING (DAIRY AND NON DAIRY),  WINE DRINKING, BARGAINING, DRUNK TEXTING, DEPRESSION, SOBBING TO FRIENDS, and finally, ACCEPTANCE. These are the official stages of grief. I looked them up. And sometimes a day that starts with me crying ends with me laughing and sometimes a day that starts with me laughing ends with an empty carton of Ben and Jerry's and a hangover, but that is all a part of loss, I suppose, and everyone says that I am doing really well.

The fact is that I loved my boyfriend. I still love him, very much, and if I learned anything from Sex and the City, sometimes the guy that doesn't seem right comes back in the last season and turns out to be THE GUY, so who knows what will happen in my future but I know that something will and it will feel better than I feel right now. And when I am not in the ANGER stage of grief, I am mostly nostalgic about all the great times we had together, because he really is a lovely guy (this usually leads to the DRUNK TEXTING, DEPRESSION AND SOBBING stages.) Basically, what I am trying to say is that I have no regrets (most of the time) and I hope he feels the same.

I read a quote recently that really struck me as appropriate and comforting. It read, "Sometimes you have to go all the way down a road to see where it leads, or where it ends." This may be the end of our road, but I am glad that I took the journey.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I am woman, hear me...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about women. I think that the assumption is that most women think about men, and visa versa, but not me. At least, not lately.  No, lately, I've been thinking about women. defines "Woman" as: 1st, a female human being. 2nd, an adult female person, 3rd, a female attendant to a lady of rank, and 4th, A Wife. Merriam Webester's Dictionary definitions are roughly the same: female, servant, wife. Well, I only fit one of those definitions (two if I truly admit to myself that I am an adult) and there are times when I don't feel the least bit feminine, but at the end of the day, I am still a woman...always will be.

Thinking back, I have spent most of my formative years in environments that were heavily saturated in femalishness. Not necessarily womanhood, or femininity, and I don't want to say girlyness, but femalishness. I have only a sister, no brothers. I spent most of my youth in the art world (a pretty female dominated world at the grade-school level) and I went to an All Girls high school. I didn't play in the co-ed tee-ball league that my sister did, instead I took ballet class where we pretended we were fairies and lady bugs. I also didn't stick it out at the co-ed high school like my sister did, where the girls wore high heels to class and the boys were (in my opinion) mean and obnoxious.  Instead I transferred to a world of uniforms and female literature courses. I had a ball. I learned to call my fellow classmates "ladies" instead "guys" and we wore bows in our hair. Girls walked around holding hands and kissing each other hello and goodbye on the cheeks. However, instead of being consumed with thinking about boys and thinking about what boys thought of me, I replaced these thoughts with thoughts and concerns about girls. Not in a romantic or sexual way, but in every other way you can imagine. I wondered why certain girls do things the way they do, and I worried that a certain girl wouldn't think I was pretty/smart/cool enough to sit at her lunch table. In the drama department productions of Godspell, and Little Shop of Horrors, I played Jesus and Seymour. (Those are guys, in case you aren't familiar). We young ladies had relationship spats, coupling ups, break-ups and friend crushes. It didn't exactly look like an episode of Gossip Girl or (to date myself) Dawson's Creek, but it was all the same shit, the same drama, just with a same-sex cast, and very little sex (at least not in my graduate class. 10% of the graduate class behind me ended up to be lesbian or at least bi curious, so go figure.) So it is no wonder that now, as a woman, an adult female human being, I find myself still constantly thinking about women?

My yoga teacher practices what she calls a feminine lifestyle. She worships the moon and the lunar cycle. I'm pretty sure she's prays to a Goddess and not to a God, and she uses "round feminine poses" in her practice instead of "straight, linear, male poses." I am not sure if she is a mother, but she certainly seems to like mothers, and soon to be mothers. She speaks often about fertility, and our women's bodies natural purpose to give and receive life. We are vessels, we are round and soft and feminine in her class. I find it really relaxing and empowering, but I am never sure why. What if I never become a mother? Am I less of a woman then? My brain knows that this is a ridiculous question to ask, even of myself, but I do sometimes feel that even though my formative years were steeped in the feminine mystique, I am not sure how much of a woman I have truly become. According to my yoga teacher, being a woman is to be a soft, round, vessel of life. Well, I fight being soft and round by attending yoga class and feeling guilty about eating frozen yogurt. I want to be straight and flat and have a hard yoga body (maybe I'm in the wrong class.) And as for being a vessel of life, well...give me time, bitch, give me time.

Society seems to assign different characteristics to women. I can not fit myself into a Sex and City category of woman. I'm not a Carrie (I don't own a pair of Prada anything) or a Miranda (way too cynical and hardworking) and Samantha's and Charlotte's motivations for their actions are so far removed from my experiences that I always found them utterly un-relatable yet still entertaining. In life, in the media, in the public eye woman can be sexy, smart, powerful, sensitive, crazy, jealous, kind, nurturing, weak, strong, and can have trouble with spacial reasoning. Right? Does that about sum it up? Does that sound like anyone you know...or everyone you know???

Not to over do it on the whole thing but a synonym for woman is lady and some synonyms for lady are babe, and bitch. Well, shit. At least I've got those covered.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Practice Baby Part Two: Making Friends

Yesterday was Easter Sunday, but more importantly for my small household, it marked the 2 week anniversary of adopting our dog, Jasper. These past two weeks have been filled with the delights and challenges that, I assume, all new parents face. Again, I don't want to be one of those people that compares having a dog to having a child, but I'm about to so, get over it.

Like all new parents, (ugh, I'm doing it again) our lives have changed considerably in the last two weeks  solely because of the addition of this small creature. I am sleeping less, worrying more and Eric and I spend countless hours recounting to each other every adorable/funny/bad thing that Jasper did when the other person wasn't looking. It's always "Baby, baby, look at him. Oh my god he just did the cutest thing." Or, "Oh my God, you won't believe what Jasper did today. You would have died." Jasper follows us around the house like he can't bare to be away from us for a minute, and gazes into our eyes like we are the best things that have ever happened to him. When we have to leave him at home, he sleeps on the steps so he can see our front door out the window and know exactly when we are coming back so he can greet us at the door with excited kisses. If he weren't so cute, I would find him a terribly annoying dog, but since he's ours, I just find him precious. And did I mention that Eric loves him? And I mean LOVES him.

Being out in the World with a dog is also a relatively new experience for me. I've been out in the World with other people's dogs and other people's babies, but this is the first time that I feel a sense of pride and well being walking around with MY OWN DOG. Until he starts to bark at a random person or dog on the sidewalk and I am flooded with guilt and worry about what I am doing wrong, and how will I ever fix this monster I've created and how, oh God, how will I ever achieve my fantasy of doggie/baby play dates with my friends if my dog barks at random people and dogs on walks??? I wanted to achieve that neighborhood friendliness where we know all the other dog owners' and dogs' names, where we stop and chat about interesting things, maybe politics, music or film. Where some cool looking lady with a cool looking dog turns out to be the Jenji Kohan and hires me (because of my adorable dog, my quick wit and my remarkable writing skills) to write on the next several seasons of Weeds (I mean, it seems like they'll never cancel that show.) But so far there's a 50/50 chance that Jasper will bark and lunge at Jenji Kohan's hypothetical dog and then she will write both Jasper and I off as amateurs and never hire us.

I know that Jasper is just shy, and has anxiety (who doesn't these days) but this barking thing is a a problem, and I am handling it by reading a lot about behavioral issues, asking other dog owners what to do and having intimate talks with Jasper about his behavior. I think this seems like good parenting. I'm always looking out for good parenting examples. I recently had the opportunity to see a lot of good parenting from some cool Hollywood parents I had the opportunity to hang out near at a Easter Party this past Saturday. Notice, I didn't say, "hang out with" I said "hang out near." That is because at this particular party Eric and I were the only couple without at least one well dressed child and so NO ONE spoke to us. No one introduced themselves, no one asked how we knew the nice couple who were hosting the Easter Egg Hunt soiree and no one asked us what the hell we were doing there with out any kids of our own. Sure, my Hollywood social anxiety induced shyness didn't help much, but we were virtually invisible to the adults at this party, so we did what we usually do, we hung out with the kids. I did notice something interesting though, these parents at the party didn't talk to each other much either. They talked to their children, they talked to their spouses, and they talked to the party hosts, but most of the communicating with other adults was through the children. I'll give you an example. Allow me to set the scene.

Colorfully dressed children race around a lovely and expansive Hollywood Hills backyard, complete with outdoor living room space, walled in trampoline full of laughing children and trickling fountains. A well dressed guy in his early 40's, COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD, reclines on a birch lawn chair as his beautiful blond wife and baby sit next to him on the manicured lawn. A second man, SPENCER'S COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD, sits nearby, sipping a beer and talking with his son, SPENCER (6).
                                                                     SPENCER'S COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD
                                              Hey Spencer, what do you think of that baby there?
                                              He's cute.

                                                                     COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD
                                              Oh thanks. I think so too, but I'm biased. Hey, Spencer. How old are you?

                                              I'm a six year old first grader. I'll be 7 soon.

                                                                     SPENCER'S COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD
                                              Wow, slow down, slow down. Stay 6 for now OK, bud.
                                                                     COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD
                                                                   (To his infant son)
                                              You too, buddy. Don't grow up too fast.

                    The two men drink and look around.
                                                                   COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD
                                                               (To his wife)
                                               Do you think we should get one of our boys off the trampoline?
                                               It's looking a little crowded.

                                                                  SPENCER'S COOL HOLLYWOOD DAD
                                                                 (To Spencer)
                                               Yeah, buddy. We'll wait a few minutes to trampoline it up. OK?

Clearly these guys wanted to talk to each other about how hard it is watching one's kids grow up, and how much you want them to stay precious and little forever. But something stopped them. Was it shyness? Were they suffering from Hollywood Social Anxiety too? And is this anxiety so powerful it stops fathers from talking, even about their kids? I think women are different. We can chat about anything, and talking soly about babies and kids feels like a reasonable thing when you are mom (I assume. I talk A LOT about them and I am not a mom, so....) so was this an odd phenomenon I was experiencing at this particular party, or is this how it is in certain parental circles?

I've always assumed that children, like dogs, were a great way to network. Wait, that sounds terrible. Not network maybe, (all though, I'm obviously hoping my cute dog will land me a writing job on Weeds) but a way to socialize and meet new people that are experiencing the same things as you. Isn't that really what Dog Parks and Mommy and me classes are really for? I never assumed this was any one's reason for having children (or dogs), but just an added bonus. You get to hang out with other cool parents and talk about your kids and your lives with your kids, etc. etc. But these people seemed so focused on their kids, they were ignoring all these potential friendships. Random childless couple (Eric and I) aside, they weren't talking to each other! Their peers! I not only felt left out and sorry for myself, but I felt sorry for every one else too, on this beautiful day in a beautiful home in a beautiful city. I mean, at least the food was good and the kids had a blast!

So as I head out today with Jasper, I am going to make an effort to say hi to people, Jasper's barking be damned. I will distract Jasper with chicken flavored treats in an attempt to trick him out of whatever social anxiety he seems to be feeling when we are out for a walk (a trick I learned from my sister, by way of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer). I will encourage both of us to make friends. Hopefully, I won't need the chicken flavored treats though.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Practice Baby Part One: Adopting a Dog

If you'll remember back to an earlier blog post about my new years resolutions, one of them was to get a dog. Well, friends (with and without babies), we are doing it! After exhaustive searches on the internet, at the Burbank Animal Shelter and at many rescue organizations, E and I have found our little guy. We pick him up today. He is about 3 years old, he has white curly hair, and...that is about all we know about him. We are, however, going to invite him to live in our house with us, and sleep in our bed. Now normally, I would think this type of behavior is Crazy (with a capitol C.)

Not to be one of those people that compares their pets to other people's children, but let's be real here friends, a big part of adopting this dog is to experience, what I like to call, the Practice Baby scenario. As I've mentioned before, E and I have done a fair amount of "practice parenting" before, so this is just taking it to the next level. I'm pretty excited about this. However...the other night I found myself lying in bed until the wee hours of the morning having a minor to major anxiety attack. Was the attacked being caused by the anxiety I feel about having a dog of our very own, or about all the other stressful things in my life? We'll never know...except that I do know. I know that it was primarily about the dog.

Dogs are a lot of work. This I know because, just as I have been a babysitter, I have been a doggy sitter many times. I also had dogs as a kid and have lived with dogs as an adult. But this is the first time that Eric and I will be on a joint venture this serious. We've discussed it, we made lists, we went and met all the perspective dogs together, choosing this particular dog because his doggy personality was in line with our desires. We have planned this as well as someone can plan adopting a dog. And I'm still anxious about it. How will I ever deal with kids?!

I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is that you just deal with it. You deal with the lack of sleep, you deal with the changes to your social life, finances and even to your body. You adjust because the over powering love you feel towards that child makes it all a non issue. If the movie "Friends With Kids" taught me anything other than  (SPOILER ALERT) if you have a baby with your best friend it WILL all work out, it taught me that the overpowering love you feel towards your baby makes ALL CHANGES totally worth it. I'm hoping that the sweet, strange, stray, animal I have just invited in to my bed will make me feel the same way. At least I got a brief written synopsis of this doggy's history on, and spent 45 minutes with him before we extended him the invite to become our P.B. That's more than most couples get with their babies, right?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dinner Party Advice

Well friends. I am officially OLD. My birthday last week confirmed my increasing suspicions that I was getting old, and now I am sure. What are some of the signs of aging that I have witnessed in myself? I find myself falling asleep in bed, sitting up, glasses on, still holding my book in the "I'm just resting my eyes," fashion that I often catch my mother in (she's old too.) I am finding an alarming amount of blond hairs (let's face it, they are not blond. For the last time, Adrienne, you will never be blond!) and the last straw is that I can't hold my alcohol. I can't seem to exceed the 2 drink minimum of any good social event without spending the next day somewhere between sluggishness and agony. The only consolation is that I don't let the threat of being hung over stop me enough, and that seems like a sign of immaturity, not old age, so at least I still have that going for me.

In honor of said "OLD" birthday, some lovely friends came over to my house for a dinner party in which they all cooked me dinner. If you don't already know this about me, I love dinner parties. If you are thinking about having one, please invite me. I will show up with great wine and sparkling conversation, or sparkling wine and great conversation. I will even do some of the cooking. A lovely dinner party definitely softens the blow of getting old, and being unmarried and childless.

Many of the guests at this dinner party were also "old" or at least, "oldish" and many of them were married and chidfull, so the conversation quickly became about babies; a subject I love. If you don't already know this about me, I love babies, almost as much as I love dinner parties. First we talked about whether or not these FWB (friend's with babies) felt ready and prepared when their children were born, then we talked about what it's like to have 1 year olds, and then the conversation shifted a little when advice started being issued to the childless couple in the room, i.e. Eric and myself. This advice was not unsolicited. I asked for it. I'm always asking for advice. The advice was as follows; "Just go for it" "You are never really ready" and "There's never a GOOD time.""It's the greatest feeling you'll ever have" and my favorite, "you have a duty as Democrats to procreate." But then Eric posed the question of responsibility in a world so fraught with destruction, global warming, autism and bad parenting. "Is it irresponsible to bring a person into the World when you know that the World and/or you are inevitably going to screw them up?" Eric asked. The FWBs all had an opinion on that, and more advice followed. Books we could read etc. It was all very interesting and I wish I remembered more but as I mentioned before, I has exceeded my two drink maximum and parts of the evening are a blur.

But it did get me thinking about advice. I always ask the advice of others, whether I know them to be more qualified or not. When a friend of mine had a baby a couple of years ago, and because I had been a Nanny she asked my advice constantly in the beginning, but now, not so much. She's confident that she is the expert on her own kid, as she should be. I have had a harder time taking that leap of faith with myself. I am constantly asking advice from people. My mother, sister, friends, boyfriend, the Media. "Should I talk to my Boss about the incident the other day?" I ask, or "Should I just bite the bullet and buy the ticket to New York for the weekend?" "Should I wear a dress or pant?"  I don't always take the advice (see my mother's advice to write a letter to Oprah) but I ask it all the same. I still, even at my advanced age, don't trust myself to know what is best for me. "Is this normal?" I wonder.

A day after the dinner party, I found myself in the chair of a quirky hair stylist who was born in Iran, grew up in Paris and has lived in New York and Los Angeles. I got a discount on Lifebooker! Never Pay Full Price (NPFP.) And as she applied partially toxic chemicals to my hair to cover the blonds, I told her about the party the night before. She told me that drinking alcohol isn't good for you because it "gives you estrogen. Too much estrogen gives you breast cancer, so it's no good. And that is why when guys get drunk, they act so effeminate, yes? And why gay guys act even more gay. So no more wine for you, yes? Just one glass a week." I nodded. That's what you do when someone gives you advice you are not sure what to do with. I've been meaning to look that estrogen thing up, I'll do it right after I open this bottle of Pinot. At least there is some advice I have got the better of.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Groundhog Day

Thursday was February 2nd, also known as Groundhog Day. For those of you why don't know anything, Groundhog Day is an American and Canadian "holiday" where folklore has it, groundhogs peek their heads out of their winter dens, and if they see their shadow they are frightened back inside their dens meaning (obviously) that we will have to suffer through six more weeks of Winter. However, if the groundhog does not see his/her shadow, he/she feels free to come out and this means that Spring is just around the corner! Yay. I didn't see any groundhogs that morning, but the Internet has told me that somewhere, some groundhog was scared back inside by his shadow and so since groundhogs have psychic meteorologist abilities, we are still in Winter for another month and a half. It was in the low 80's today in Los Angeles, so another 6 weeks of Winter doesn't sound too bad.

Groundhog Day is also the title of a very popular movie that I have never seen. I know, I know, I need to see it. Bill Murray, Andi McDowell, I know! I think I know what the movie is about, and I think I know the basic lesson of the film. A mean, self absorbed guy is forced to relive one crappy day (groundhog day) again and again until he makes better, nicer life decisions and changes his fate releasing him from his terrible cycle. Right? I can relate to this plot line. Maybe that's why I've never seen the movie...I'm living it! Well, not exactly. I am pretty nice and generally pretty happy, but I do tend to live the same day over and over again making the same mistakes and feeling unhappy about the results. I often go to work during the day with the plan to come home and be very efficient. I make lists, jot down ideas during my work day, map out scenes I need to write, chapters I need to finish, but once I get home I watch TV, I bake gluten free cookies or take on large cooking projects, and drink wine and the list goes basically untouched. It might not even make it out of my purse.  What I really love to do is write, but you'd be amazed at how little I do it sometimes, and the lengths I go to to avoid doing it.

Someone once told me that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over again and expecting a different result. That person was wrong. The actual definition is: "a derangement of the mind", but I know what she meant. I currently have a job I don't care for, and yet I do nothing to change it. When would I make this change, what with all the writing I'm not doing it and the house painting I haven't started yet and the re-runs of 30 Rock I have to watch? I can't even blame Eric. There are people who's gravitation pull is so strong that once you enter their atmosphere they pull you right off your axis. But Eric doesn't do that to me. He is kind and supportive and our work schedules are such that days go by when we don't even see each other. We pass like ships in the night. I could use my time as a single lady to move my life forward in a new direction, but instead I let baking and TV watching pull me off course.

Yesterday, while in Yoga class (Strong Yoga 4 Women again) the adorable teacher gently "advised" us to lean our hearts forward over our crossed legs opening up our creative center etc. She "suggested" that we lean even deeper into the pose ONLY if our body had extended the invitation to do so. "Wait for the Invitation," she urged. This statement really struck me. I'm always waiting for invitations, and I think it has been a problem. While in High School, I was quite the go getter. Maybe it was the all girl's environment that supported that courage. I started clubs, I chased academic prizes, I played sports and acted in plays. I sat at the empty lunch table and assumed people would come to sit with me. I never waited for an invitation to sit down. College was different. For example, there were boys everywhere, I now lived across the Country from my family, and life felt hard. I don't know exactly when it happened, I don't think I noticed it happening, but the idea of waiting to be invited seemed the safest course of action. Less chance of rejection, I suppose. Less chance for failure to be deemed my fault.  My parents have often encouraged me over the years to think outside the box. My mum will say something like "write a letter to Oprah, I'm sure she would be impressed with you and give you a job." Or "Why don't you ask your friend to get her agent to sign you?" and I have a tendency to answer "No Mother! That's not the way it's done!" End of story, case closed.

But, I see now, that this is my (or at least one of my) problem(s). The vicious cycle I find myself in, waiting for the invitation that doesn't come day after day. So, if this doesn't work (and it doesn't seem to, at least not for me) then the only choice I have, if I want to see things change is to go without being invited. I might not mean that Oprah will get my letter, but it wouldn't hurt to write it. Not that I'm against watching TV, baking and drinking wine. Those are all great activities that I also really enjoy, but my self analysis has been in hyper drive lately, and the groundhog and the yoga teacher have really got me thinking. If Bill Murray can do it, then so can I, dammit!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Never Grow Up, Not Me.

I really enjoyed being a kid. In fact, as I remember it, I had no real interest in growing up. I wasn't freakish about it. I'm not Peter Pan for Christ Sake, but I actively enjoyed childhood while I was living it. I didn't beg my parent's to get me a training bra at 8, I didn't start dating super early, I didn't have fantasies about driving/smoking/voting (do kids ever fantasise about voting?) However, this psychological late blooming I was engaged in has stunted me a bit, I fear. Because, now that I am grown up, I have trouble behaving like a grown up. In fact, I am constantly confronted with my lack of knowledge and basic interest in all things adult, and I feel bad about it.

A few things that keep me from feeling like a true adult lady might be:
- I don't own any adult shoes. Now, I own a few pairs of heels and I wear them to weddings and occasionally to events in Hollywood, but they hurt and I'm not used to standing on my tipy-toes and I'm uncomfortable being that tall so they mostly stay in the closet. But some grown up women wear heels every day. Or they were boots with little heels. All my boots are uggs. I have several pairs. My other shoes are red dansko mary janes, old black ballet flats and Toms which I thought was very grown up of me since my purchase also guaranteed I was donating a pair of shoes to a shoeless child somewhere, but then I read that Tom donated a lot of money to stop gay marriage so now I just feel like I've been had.
-I don't own stock. That's not true actually. 4 years ago my father gave me a little money that he wanted to invest for me. We agreed that we would invest "my" money in Apple Computers and Green Energy. Instead, he decided to invest in an Indian Automobile Company called TaTa Motors that makes tiny cars for low income families in India. The stock is doing well, actually, so that is cool, but I wouldn't know how to check on it, sell or buy if my life depended on it.
-I just found out you have to replace car batteries. This isn't surprising, I guess, but since I was a New Yorker for so long and never drove, I don't know a lot about cars. I knew batteries ran out when you left the light on, etc. But I thought you could just keep recharging them FOREVER. I forget to take my car in for its maintenance. It was pretty recently that I released they whole "oil change" thing might be a good idea. I'm still not sure what "checking the fluids" is exactly, but I'm sure that I've done it at some point, right?
-The first people I call when ANYTHING happens/goes wrong are my parents. This, alas, will probably never change, so what's the point in talking about it.

So now I am always looking for ways to embrace the adult world because I feel like I should. However, whenever I do this, I regret it. A little over a year ago, I was elected to my condo community's Home Owners' Association (HOA) Board. I'm currently serving my second term and this year they made me President. It's THE WORST. Everyday my neighbors write me, call me, or knock on my front door to complain about problems with their condos. And because of my lack of knowledge about adult things, I never feel like I can help them. I'm not really supposed to. I call the vendors (the actual professionals with actual skills) and make introductions for someone to have their plumbing/walls/window leaks fixed. I am not paid for this adult responsibility which makes it THE SUPER WORST. I once ran into an acquaintance at a book store in echo park who said she was staying away from home that day to avoid a HOA meeting herself. She had made the same mistake that I did and joined her HOA board to feel more adult. And she's a successful actress. She was in the Mighty Ducks for crying out loud! If she doesn't feel like an adult, HOA Board or not, than what chance do I have?

Another adult thing that I have done and currently do that I regret is having a job. Other than going to school and being a Nanny, I have worked in 4 restaurants, two offices and two indi record labels and they were all THE WORST, (even the indi record labels, which I was surprised about too.) It's always repetitive, usually boring, and you have to go almost ever day. People expect you to be there. To honor your commitment. My mom always says that a lot of life is boring (a super adult thing to say), but she hasn't had a job in years so what the hell is she talking about? I realize this makes me sound very spoiled and out of touch. Of course I have a job. Everybody has a job, and the people who don't would like to be working. I know I am lucky to have a job in this economy, and as far as jobs go, it doesn't suck but, come on people, jobs are THE WORST.

Though despite my feelings that I am not an adult and my repulsion to most adult things that I do partake in, I know I am an adult because I have proof. I am not as flexible as I once was.  I've attended my 10 year High School reunion. I have cute little blond hairs speckling the front of my dark raven locks (let's get real people, these hairs are not blond and they are not cute and they must be destroyed) and there is a biological clock that I, thankfully, can not actually hear ticking, but I feel deep down in my soul.

There are a few things I really like about being an adult, or at least looking enough like one that no one questions me, and they are as follows:
-No curfew

And those are not in order of importance. Wine would be much closer to the top if they were.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stong Yoga 4Women

Every year I make a few New Year's Resolutions. This year was no different. I've made three so far. 1. Write more (blogging now, so CHECK) 2. Get a dog (currently visiting shelters and am hearing good things about some rescue place on Fairfax called Bark n' Bitches) and 3. Yoga.

Have you heard of Lifebooker? It's a lot like Groupon. Except where Groupon encourages you to try new things like sky diving, horse back riding and salsa dancing for a discounted rate, Lifebooker is really there to convince ladies to spend their hard earned cash (or not so hard earned as the case may be) on their hair, nails, skin, and body. I love it. Lifebooker makes my fantasy life of facials and massages all reasonably affordable. The vendors are hoping that with the one time steal they offer you for their services, you will become a life long and devoted client. I defy them by never returning and never paying full price. I am like a one night stand. A massage-gettin' baller who runs around town macin on the best and cheapest massages, never to return. N.P.F.P. Never Pay Full Price. Someday, in the near future (I hope), when I have more expendable income, I might reevaluate this motto, but maybe not. We'll see.

The other thing that Lifebooker and Groupon offer is Yoga classes. I've always liked Yoga since I had to take it as a part of my dance class requirements in college (yes, I had dance class requirements for my major, I also once danced the part of Clara in The Nutcracker, so what? Stop asking me about it!) Wait, let me rephrase my previous statement. I have always liked the idea of Yoga since I had to take it as part of my dance class requirements in college. I like the idea of stretching and toning, becoming more flexible and elongated. The idea of sitting in silence, breathing and mediating. Of centering myself and emptying my mind. Of "practicing" the movements and not worrying about perfecting them. That is why it is called a Yoga Practice. So I have been practicing yoga regularly on and off since college. I should be very good at it, but I am not. Not in any way, really. I am not particularly flexible or elongated. I find it impossible to empty my mind. I forget to breath. I clench my teeth. I usually find myself obsessively thinking about what I am going to eat for dinner after class. The other un-yogaish thing I do during my "yoga practices" is that I am very competitive with the other people in my class. I check out people's yoga outfits and compare them to my own. I am envious of women with more lulu lemon than I am wearing. I am envious of women who are more flexible or don't have weird inflexible shoulders like I do that don't allow them to twist the way one is supposed to. I push myself too hard, saying to myself, "if that skinny bitch can hold the pose, then so can I" even though the teacher has encouraged us to lower in to child's pose if our legs start shaking. I might look like I am a Parkinson's sufferer, I will not surrender until the waif does.

So I've been working on this problem. This un-yogaish yogaing I've been doing for years. I bought a pass (on Groupon or Lifebooker) to a new studio, where I can pretend I am a new yogi who is centered and noncompetitive. I put on my most unassuming yoga gear and headed over to the studio for a class called Strong Yoga 4 Woman. The class description reads as follows: "Yoga to support women on their life journey through reproductive difficulties, relationships, pregnancy and menopause. All women, including prenatal." Hmm, well, I am a woman on a life journey. I am in a relationship. I hope to one day be pregnant and unless there is some miracle of nature and science on the way, I will one day go through menopause. Aside from the "reproductive difficulties" it all sounded perfectly appropriate for me, and most importantly, it fit in my schedule.

I rolled out my mat and looked around the room at the 7 or so women about to take this life journey with me. We all looked about the same. Youngish, whiteish, thinish. The teacher asked about our yoga experience and everyone claimed to have some. We started with a relaxation meditation, sitting cross-legged with our eyes closed, focusing on our breath. The teacher asked, with our eyes closed, if anyone was on a reproductive journey to please raise their hand so they could speak quietly and privately about it. I squinted my eyes open a slit, my curiosity getting the better of me, but didn't see a single hand go up. "Good" I thought, "No babies, just a bunch a chicks journeying together. Let's do this." I cleared my mind and had the most meaningful full soul full body yoga practice I've ever had...WRONG. It was pretty much as it always has been. I thought about work. I thought about the script I'm writing. I thought about the skinny girl next to me who's hips might have been double jointed. Her bound ankle pose was stunning. And she was married. Did I mention she was married? Big old diamond perched on her hand which was at the end of her very long, toned and flexible arm that was, no doubt, attached to a shoulder that has no problem twisting the way shoulders are supposed to. She was probably, at any moment now, about to start her reproductive journey as well. That was probably why she was there. To get her tiny body in to tip top pre-baby shape. Ugh.

The teacher was lovely. She was soft and curvaceous. Her shirt showed off a lot of cleavage which I found  a bit odd for a yoga class, but if you got 'em, flaunt 'em I guess. She told us we were all beautiful, which I appreciated, and that we were really engaging our feminine, which, you know, we all totally were. We did a lot of "round" poses, since round=feminine and linear poses=male. We didn't do as many "heart openers" since the lunar cycle was waining instead of waxing and we positioned our arms differently in the "warrior two" pose if we were on the first two weeks of our cycle than if we were in the second two weeks of our cycle. This was some serious girl power yoga. I would have really loved it if I could have just stopped thinking about what I was going to cook for dinner after class!

All in all, it was a great class and I am planning to return soon. I did, however, have a anxiety ridden thought during the class, while swirling my hips around in a feminine "cat/cow" sort of thing, that if this class has a secret fertility difficulty fixing element, what could it do to someone who is not having any difficulties? Soon after, as we all laid on our backs in the dark in a pose called "corpse pose" I obsessed about how fertile I might have just made myself. Yikes! This is the end of the practice where you lie silently, peacefully, with your eyes closed, absorbing all the hard practicing you just did. It's a reward. But I was lying in a tizzy thinking about pregnancy and fertility and all the problems and pressures that can go along with it. Not being fertile, being too fertile even! And I still didn't know what I was gonna eat for dinner.  Oh yoga. It seems I still have a lot of work...I mean practice to do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Aunt/Uncle Title Status Question

My older sister, Natalie, is a newlywed. She married a fantastic young Marine named Seth. I would describe their romance as "whirlwind" since they went from their first day to married in under 2 years.  Eric and I have been dating for 4 years, so their relationship is whirlwind if you ask me. But Natalie has always been a go getter, and she knows what she wants and she makes it happen. I've always admired that about her. Seth has three, yes three, children from his first marriage, and so Natalie is now a Step-Mom. And that makes me a Step-Aunt to three, yes three, kids. My family has grown instantly and exponentially (well maybe not exponentially, but you get what I mean.)

I've spent a good amount of time with my new niece and nephews. They live a mere 4.5 hours away in my home town. In fact, as I sit at my Mom and Dad's counter writing this post, they are here in this house, where they live with my sis and bro-in-law every other week. The youngest, a boy, has been running in and out of the kitchen watching his dad make pizza, telling us about a video game that involves gold pieces and a zen garden. I kind of want to go see this video game...kind of. I like these kids a lot, and I wonder if they like me. I think they do. They are always very nice to me. And they don't sulk or act out when I'm around. These are good signs right? Eric is an Uncle. He has been an uncle for 18 years. He takes this responsibility and relationship very seriously. It's shocking, really, how involved he remains in his 18 year old nieces lives. What I find shocking about it is not that he cares, but that they, the nieces, care! They call him. Not as much now as when they were 14, but still a lot. And they tell him about their lives. Their parents are probably jealous of Eric's knowledge about what's going on their teenagers lives. When we first started dating I found this relationship shocking (as I mentioned before) but now I am used to it. I think it's wonderful. I have Uncles. My parents had 2 brothers each, and those brothers have wives, some have had several wives (not as once), so I've had my share of aunts and uncles. But I never called them. I liked them fine, but I never felt a real kinship with any of them, no more than the rest of my parent's friends who were a part of my life when I was 10. However,  I did have an "aunt" who is not an aunt at all, only a dear friend of my mother's and I loved her. I still do. I was excited when she came to visit. I'm not sure why. Maybe being a step-aunt is a little like that.  Because being a step parent is a little like that too. You are someone selected by the parent to be a permanent and important fixture in their children's lives (as well as their own.)

My new niece and nephews don't call me Auntie. They are not expected to. Eric is anti fake aunt and uncles. I think he thinks as a "real" uncle who has been deeply involved in his nieces' and nephew's lives since their infancy, he deserves the title, whereas a friend of the parent hasn't earned that title. I disagree. "Title Shmitle", I say. It's the impact that you have in someones life that should earn you a title, and I'd like to earn my full Auntie status with these kids. So I show up. I listen to my sister tell me everything about them. I went to Disneyland and Medieval Times with them as a mini honey moon trip. The youngest one (my secret favorite because he held my hand at Disneyland and sat in my lap when we rode the Matterhorn) is learning the guitar and really likes Eric and so do I, so we have that in common. I don't really expect them to ever call me Aunt Adrienne, but I hope that one day they consider me a part of their lives. Soon my sister and her Marine will have some kids of their own and then there will be no question about this Aunt/Uncle title status question, but until then, I better go check out this video game with the gold pieces and the Zen Garden.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Practice Parenting 101

I have had many jobs when I am not writing, acting, singing in a band or lunching with my friends and their children. One, of course, has been nannying. But Nannying is different than lunching with my friends and their babies. This is something I often do; hang out, voluntarily with my girlfriends and their offspring. I don't think this is weird. I obviously enjoyed spending time with these women before they got knocked up, why wouldn't I enjoy spending time with them after? I am lucky. None of my friends have undergone any drastic personality changes since becoming mothers. Not one of them has become smug, or judgemental or overly protective of their young in a manner that would make them no longer tolerable. There is one who had a difficult pregnancy, and ALL conversations with her during that period were about THE PREGNANCY and THE COMING BABY, but we aren't that close so I've can't weigh in on what kind of a mom she is yet. But the rest of them have maintained that young mom cool that you see on the pages of US Weekly in the Stars Are Just Like Us section. They grab coffee with their babies, they shop and have lunch out and they look good doing it. I do my best to look good doing it with them, and I meet these ladies out for brunch, lunch or dinner, sip wine or lattes and cut up little pieces of pancake or chicken that the babies nibble on, seated between us in a highchair or stroller.

In some ways, it's like practice parenting for the afternoon. This is not new to me. As a nanny, I've been practice parenting since I was 20. The NYC Nanny is not expected to stay home with the kid. Piper and I (and later with her little sister Bea) haunted the neighborhood coffee shops, playgrounds, museums and libraries. We hardly ever stayed home. We took cabs and buses and the subway. Piper's first word was "TAXI" (just kidding, it was Dada, but she could hail a cab by 20 months). Piper's bright red hair and super fair complexion made it pretty clear that I was not, in fact, her mother, but people asked me about it all the time anyway. "Where did she get that red hair?" they would ask. "From her Mother." I would answer. It never bothered me to proclaim to the world that I was only the Nanny. Someone in the employ of this child's parents to watch her while they couldn't. However, now, on these lunch dates with my friends, I feel a certain anxiety about what I look like. No one thinks I'm the mother. The babies don't allow it. They are not sensitive to my sensitivities on this matter. They reach for Mommy, and when Mommy leaves the table to use the washroom, they watch her go with huge anxious eyes, reaching after her. Auntie Adrienne is no substitute for Mommy when Mommy has just left. So I am left holding the bag (the diaper bag) feeling a little left out, wondering if people are wondering what I'm doing there, childless and unmarried. Now, I realize that in reality no one is wondering this! This is LA! No one is wondering anything about me except, maybe, my racial background (more on this later as well.) But I can't help but wonder about myself, and I wonder what my friends wonder about me, my relationship with their children and with children in general.

Recently after a friend and baby date, we went home to her apartment so the baby could nap and we could chat and eat gluten free cupcakes. The baby decided not to nap and instead crap her diaper and require a bath. So, as any good friend would, I accompanied mother and child into the bathroom and "helped" with the bath. This baby is 20 months and can sit in a bath without you needing your hands on her. She plays and splashes and sings and babbles. She is very sweet and entertaining, and when Mommy went to take a phone call, I hung with Baby, splashing and getting splashed until my dress was covered in dark water blotches and my mascara was running down my face. But Baby and I were having a grand old time when Mommy returned to retrieve and wrap her in her towel. Mommy asked if Baby and I were best friends yet, which we clearly were, and then she asked me, "Do you think you want kids of your own someday?" I was taken aback. This is a friend I have known for years, since college, and I thought knew me very well. This casual question hit me like a fist, and stung like a slap, but I wasn't exactly sure why. I'm still not. "Of course." I answered, drying my face on a towel, and wringing out the skirt of my dress back into the now baby-less bath. "It just isn't the right time yet." We dried off the freshly clean babe, and I left shortly after feeling a little empty as I often do after these lunches. I got to go home and do whatever I wanted for the rest of the evening. That evening involved a lot of white wine and Thai food and a movie out with my lovely boyfriend. It was not restricted by anything, not a bed time, nor a feeding of anyone but ourselves, and this is the type of night if which my friend might be envious. But if she is, she doesn't say it. None of them do. They all ask when I'm going to join their club or if I want to, as if to imply that if I wanted to, I would have done it already.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It all started with a red head.

My mother always told me, "No Husbands? No Babies!" and since I still have no husband to speak of (just a very loving and devoted boyfriend) I have followed her rule. So for the time being, I am a childless mother who truly enjoys spending time with my friends and their babies. And I really like kids. All kids...well most kids, and I've found that I have managed to fill my adult life with other people's children (more on that little play on words later). And now that we (my friends and I) are all getting be "about that age" everyone is popping out babies. I'm thrilled. I love them. All of  them...well most of them. There have been times in life where my love for these F'Bs (friend's babies) was almost an obsession. There have been times in my life where these F'Bs were also my job and a proper source of income. That is where this story really beings...

When I graduated from NYU, I intended to quickly find work on the stage and screen. If that didn't work, I would simply write an amazing play/movie/novel/comic book, possibly the next Harry Potter and find myself financially solvent and socially fulfilled by the ripe old age of 22. I would really "be somebody" by the age of 23. There was no back up plan to speak of and the clock was ticking. I had a work study job in my art school's Student Affairs office working as one of the Dean of Students front desk receptionists. Shortly before graduation he called my into his office for a chat. I had won a speech writing contest and was named the Tisch School of the Arts Graduation Speaker that year, I goal I had set in motion 3 years earlier. The Dean and I met a couple of times to go over the speech. He wanted to make sure that I gave the speech I had won the contest with and would not go "off book" as the speaker a previous year had done, melting into an emotional puddle of "I'm just going to throw away my note cards and speak from my heart...We're OK. I'm OK. We're going to be OK!" The Dean asked me what my employment plans were, post graduation. I explained my plan to audition and work as an actor. He smiled and said, "well yeah, but what else?" was talking about money, and rent and AHHHHH! "I'm going to be a nanny," I said. And so the spell/wish/prophecy was sent out into the Universe to take root. A few days later while sipping a latte with my roommate HanNah in Tompkins Square Park, we spotted an adorable little red head baby rolling towards us in a stroller. HanNah saw her first. Curly headed, colorful mismatched outfit (the kind you wish you could still pull off, but only girls under the age of 7 really do.) We both agreed that she was the coolest, cutest one-year-old in the park, and then I realized that the girl pushing the stroller was a girl from my school. A fellow actress-to-be who had apparently tapped into the whole nanny world before I had even sent my wish out to the Universe. I got the low down on this red-headed toddler...East Village residence, yoga/film editor mom, architect/contractor Dad, a few hours a day maybe 3 days a week. That left me plenty of time for all the auditioning I was about to start doing, and they lived in my neighborhood, and the kid...oh man, the kid...she practically breaks loose of her stroller bonds to climb into my arms to hug me. How would I snake this job from my classmate? Easy. She was going home for the Summer Break, and intended to return to New York in the Fall, I could be her replacement until she returned. It was that easy. All that was needed was a phone call to the red head's mom and an endorsement from the soon to be EX-nanny who, come to think of it, knew absolutely nothing about my childcare skills and knew only that I could sing and dance and work up a good cry if I needed to, and I was in.

Because she's a good mom, I was invited for an interview before being awarded the job of taking care of her most precious possession. In the interview I answered normal questions you would ask someone that you let into your house to watch your baby. Experience? Yes, I've actually been babysitting since I was 10. Started as a Mommy's Helper, where I played with some neighbor's 4-year-old while she cooked dinner or made phone calls, or napped and made sure said 4-year-old didn't drown or electrocute himself. I remember picking out the dress I would wear to this "job" with my mother. It was blue. I thought it make me look responsible. I don't remember if I was paid. I kind of doubt it. I moved up to real babysitting by the age of 12. Neighbor's kids again, while their parents were near bye, and my parents were near bye. I took a babysitting course offered by the Hospital when I was in high school. I was Infant/Child CPR certified. I spoke English as a first language. I was clean, and prompt and was excellent at reading stories out loud, doing all the voices. Short of a degree in childcare, I was as good a Nanny as you were gonna get for, what was it?, $10 bucks and hour? Maybe $12. Needless to say, I got the gig and that is how Piper (that is the famous red head's name) came into my life, and I into hers.