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.