Sunday, May 31, 2009

Drive-In Dreams

He outstretched his arm, all clever-like, feigning a big ole stretch and repositioned it around her shoulder. She smiled and nudged closer into the crook of his arm as they watched the movie dance past their windshield.

Remember that little slice of Americana called the drive-in? Well it’s not dead yet.

It’s been at least 25 years since I went to a drive-in movie theater. I recall those trips were all about finding a safe place to “get busy” in the back seat of a very spacious white-leather interior/red-cherry exterior, Oldsmobile Delta 88.

Well the drive-in isn’t just for James Dean and Sandra Dee. Last night me and my puerile posse packed up an SUV full of blankets, pillows, whoopers and chips and headed to the drive-in movie theater just 15 minutes from my Cali-home. The line of cars waiting to get in was impressive. Apparently, the drive-in is still very much alive and kicking.

A little research taught me that drive-in popularity peaked in the late 1950s with there being a high of 4063 drive in theaters. Now there are only about 377 nationwide (18 of those in California.) This drive-in was not exactly as I remembered them. Rather than the one mammoth screen, this parking lot was now packed (like so many theaters) with six more modest screens arranged in a crescent shape. We paid a very reasonable $10 for the carload and pulled in by our assigned screen, setting our radio to the movie’s station. The films were projected from a round building in the back of the lot that also housed the concessions (a perfect name for all indulgences sugary and buttery that temporarily silence children.)

This was starting to feel familiar. I loaded the kids up on the roof rack (oh, on how many long car rides have I dreamed of doing that?) They mounted the pile Iwo Jima style, my eldest victoriously planting the bag of Tostitos in his lap and settled in for their first drive-in experience.

“This is so cool Mom, thanks for bringing us!” I heard from above.

There was no room for me on the roof. And so, I huddled in my chaste car catching wanton glimpses of the couple in the pick-up beside me. Thinking, “Damn, I miss those days of the Delta 88.”

See if there is a drive-in near you –visit and search for your state.

What are your memories of the drive-in?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm Raising A Derelict

I’m raising a derelict. This evening I took my three sons out for dinner. This is no small feat. I’m the woman you look at from the balcony bar while sipping your brewski and think, “That poor woman, how does she do it?” Well apparently she does it not as well as she would like.

While the kids were finishing up their dinners, Ryan put the finishing touches on his menu art. He is fantastically imaginative and artistic. I’ll give him that. Apparently he’d had his fill of paper art and crouched under the table. I figured he was just messing about. I was wrong. My budding artist had taken a crayon and written under the table. There amongst the dried out gum wads was Ryan’s first piece of graffiti "art." Scribbled hastily in sienna crayola, in an 8-year old’s shakey lettering was the king of four letter words: “F U C K” .

While his older brother may have been momentarily impressed by this vandalistic (there's a new word) act of terrorism, I wasn’t. I had one thought. I’m raising a derelict. And then after a moment the mother’s mouth moves. “What in god’s name were you thinking? Do you realize you damaged someone else’s property and that is against the law? Your behavior is not only horribly wrong, it is also embarrassing and shameful. You should be ashamed Ryan Pifer. Would you like me to call the owner over so you can apologize?”

I went for a damp rag and Ryan spend the next 10 minutes under the table scrubbing and tearing up pleafully (another new word). “It’s not coming off Mooooom. What should I do?” He ended up scribbling over it. And then, as his eyes welled up with tears, he asked me “Could I go to juve for this?”

The punishment was swift and severe by Ryan-standards. Two weeks without Play Station. And Ryan has spent the last hour attempting to right his wrong with “I’m sorry's” galore. I explained to him that it’s nice to say “sorry.” but it does not undo what he did. Actually, now that I think about it, he doesn’t care so much about righting his wrong as he does negotiating away the consequences. And, I’m not caving on this one. Because, damn it, I am not raising a derelict.

Ever had an experience like this?
Think its a harbinger of worse things to come?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Almost Lost My Lunch

Last week, I almost lost my lunch (and my shit) in a terrifying confluence of crazy circumstance because I "misplaced" one of the most precious things in my life --my four-year old son Eli. It was Open House at the elementary school and my middle son Ryan was very excited to show me his art projects. Together with his younger and older brother, the four of us walked the block and a half to school.

Little Eli was in the classroom with me. My eldest Ethan ran off to the tetherball courts. So, I did what mothers always do…I gave my two sons one eyeball each. And when Eli found a preschool buddy of his to occupy him, I was able to “Ooooo” and “Ahhhh” for Ryan with single-minded focus. Single-minded focus. Now, there is a novel concept for a mother of three. It is rare that I am able to focus completely on anything when the kids are around. Again, circumstance and adult onset ADD converge to create a world of challenge for me.

When the school bell rang, my sons and I proudly paraded out to the playground to watch the third graders do-see-doe. Again, the kids dispersed. Ryan off to find Ethan on the tetherball courts and Eli tagging confidently behind. He’s a third child and thirds are notoriously competent. That’s when my senses hit overload. I was trailing behind them, one eye on the goofy dancers, when I was intercepted by that rare creature that comes into my life on occasion –another adult. This one was a friend I’d not seen in some time and we had loads of catching up to do. She bought a house. She was headed back East for the Summer. Would we like to come swim in their pool? I looked past her and thought Eli looked fine with his brothers and so I enjoyed a few minutes of adult chat.

The time flew as it always does with adults. And then it was time to go. Most everyone had left the playground. So, I walked to the courts to grab the boys. They weren’t there. I saw them off in the distance on the grassy field and waved them in. Three had become two. Where was Eli? They didn’t know. They hadn’t seen him. I’ve been a mom long enough to know it’s never too late to assess blame (which clearly falls on me in this case.) Now was not the time. It was time to breathe, focus, stay calm, and simply find Eli.

We marshaled the troops. The boys searched the entire campus—checking the classrooms we had been in. The fields. The playgrounds. My friend’s kids checked all the bathrooms. The principal made an overhead announcement. Eli was no where. And as I saw all these people scattering across the school property, I felt my panic gathering in my chest. I’d had this feeling before. The building tightness. I’d lost Ryan a couple of times. He had a nasty habit of disappearing –once in a department store for a good 10 minutes (he decided it would be fun to try the escalator.) Once, as a toddler he unlocked the back door and left the house, managing to get the garage door open, locking himself in the car and then closing the garage door shut. That terrifying episode ended with a policeman in my driveway insisting I open the garage door just to be sure. And there was tear-stained Ryan, a set of headphones on to protect his ears from his screams for help.

So, this feeling of instantly mounting pressure was unfortunately familiar. I had a little dialogue with myself. “Stay calm. We will find him. This is a good neighborhood. No one would steal him. Freaking out will not help. Just a couple of more minutes and you will call the police.”

Just then I got an idea. “Run home and check if he’s there,” I dispatched Ethan and he took off for the 1-1/2 block walk to our house. Just as he leaped into action, we caught sight of Eli walking towards us, hand-in-hand with a neighbor of ours. She had spotted him sitting on our front stoop waiting for us.

Eli was cool as a cucumber. “I couldn’t find you,” he explained shrugging. “So I walked to my house.” I scooped him up in my arms. “I knocked on the door and I ringed the bell and no one was there. I was sitting on the stairs waiting for you and I was staying calm.” he said. “So was I Eli…I was trying really, really hard to stay calm.”

(After my heart stopped hammering, I explained to Eli that he should have stayed at the school and gone to the office or asked an adult for help.)

How my four year old managed to navigate his way home after only taking that walk one or two times with me, escapes me. He must have some GPS device linked to his Y-chromosome. I was so relieved to have him in my arms and completely exhausted by the experience. I’d like to say it was a huge wake-up call and it will never happen again…but after three kids, I know better and on the upside, I am too overwhelmed to beat myself up.

What’s the most precious thing you’ve lost? Did you find it again?

(and ffs, please don't say true love...I can't handle it this week.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog

The problem with being a writer is that everyone else is one too. Writing is different than other subjects we learn in school. While I know 12*12 is 144, I don’t fancy myself a mathematician. Though I was able to calculate my odds for having a blue-eyed baby (remember the Punnett square?), I never thought of myself as a scientist. The same can not be said for writing.

Everyone who took Mrs.Assenheimer’s fourth grade English class, thinks he can write. Writing is more than proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Writing is art. Writers are painters and their palette is words. I love words. Their meaning, sound, and rhythm. Nothing excites me like a writer who gives good word …ok, maybe a chef who gives good food. Put the two together and you’ve got Anthony Bourdain…my dream man. But I digress…

The holy blog has made the proliferation of “published writers” downright viral. There are many, many days I wonder if I am really a writer. Yeah, I’ve sold articles, written ads, and even seen my name on a magazine masthead. But, I’ve been blessed with something that will guarantee I’ll never be a successful narcissist –unwavering self-doubt. Basically, anything I’ve done just doesn’t impress me anymore. I’m the anti-narcissist. So, many days, despite my accomplishments, I wonder if I am really a writer. (And if I’m not a writer…then what the hell am I?)

Well, I’ve come up with some writer’s affirmation therapy. It’s a two part process.

- Firstly, I will read other people’s blogs. Believe me, nothing can make an insecure writer more assured of her talents, than reading another “writer’s” crap.

- Secondly, I will write and share my words with people who perhaps can’t all “write” but certainly can read.

That’s where you come in. If you would simply read and react, I would really appreciate it. I will share my thoughts with you because writing about life is what I love to do. To ease you of any burden, know that I am not searching for free therapy. Frankly, I have a high-priced therapist for that. And since I know you’re not all writers, I sure as hell know you’re not therapists! (then again, if one of you is…maybe we could work a trade?)

So, please…read and react. I love it. I promise to value your thoughts and I hope you get a kick out of mine.

The Goggle Thong

Being a Mom, you run into all sorts of situations life doesn't prepare you for. Yesterday I had one of those moments. My precious little Eli, who is now 4, has taken to stripping naked and donning his swim goggles. Not on his face mind you --that would be unimaginative. No, Eli has managed to creatively fashion his lime green swim goggles into a make-shift thong.
Picture this if you will...a semi-sheer lens shielding each wittle "tentacle" (that's what he calls them) and the white elastic strap straining between his perfect butt cheeks. I come across this scene and have several thoughts in quick succession.
Does this mean he's gay?
Is this normal?
Will he one day make it big on Project Runway?
Then I have a mommy flashback to the time I walked in one of the kids trying to push a tampon up his bum (I won't name names in case he runs for office one day.)
My internal dialogue reflects my "I'm OK, You're OK" approach to parenting. I tell's all good. It's all normal. And I proceed to have a very level-head conversation with Eli, channeling the enlightened, hippie mom within.
"Why are you wearing the goggles like that buddy? Is it comfortable?"
He looks at me and blushes but says nothing. Now, I wouldn't have said a word, but it's the second time he's donned the goggle thong so I have to ask.
"Does it feel good on your penis honey?" He lowers his head and says no.
"Because its totally okay if it does, but it looks really uncomfortable."
He smiles, and looks away again clearly embarrassed.
"Why don't we put your clothes on sweetie and we can save the goggles for the pool?"
He nods and I remember when the doctor looked at the ultrasound images of my eldest just forming in my belly. I was just 17 weeks pregnant and at the doctor's to learn the sex of my first baby. Unfortunately, the baby was not cooperating and had it's hands perpetually between it's legs.
"It's a boy," the doctor said with complete confidence.
"How can you tell if the hands are between the legs?" I asked.
The doctor smiled. "I'm certain it's a boy," he said. "We start in utero!"

What crazy thing ever happened with your kids that you could not have ever predicted or prepared for?
Do you think we are born sexual creatures well before puberty sets in?

may 6.2009

Inside, Outside, Upside Down

I’ve had the strangest urge to make changes in my life lately. I changed the color of my hair three times over. Chocolate Cherry. Mahongeny Red. And finally rich Chocolate Brown. I say rich because it cost me $85 to have the stylist fix the mess I had made of my hair. I double pierced my ears even though my best friend told me her grandmother had double piercings, I still contend its rock & roll. I waxed my girlie bits peachy smooth –an acrobatic moment worthy of a Seinfeld episode. I took a pole dancing class and I actually paid to free fall 153 feet on a bungee cord a thrill seeking moment witnessed only by my 7-year old partner in crime. Most recently, I’ve zeroed in on a tattoo design.

The reality is, I'm tackling serious long term changes; changes that require a ton of work and tenacity. I tend to avoid change because it often scares the shit out of me. But, it also excites me, so sometimes I put myself in a situation where change is forced upon me. I’m not a complete whimp afterall.

In the meantime, I find myself doing these little “outside” things. Let me save the co-pay. It wouldn’t take a PhD to realize I am hopeful these little outward changes will add up to a mondo “inside” change. Stupid when you think about it. And I have. And I get that. But I still can’t stop thinking about the tattoo. Maybe because it’s so not me. And I frankly, don’t feel much like being like me these days. Someone told me that if you get a tat done close to the bone, the image can actually stain your skeleton. Now, we’re talking permanent change, huh?

How about you? Have you made any outside changes in the hopes that will affect you inside?

Ever read the Dr.Seuss classic “Inside Outside Upside Down”?

Do you think classy tattoo is an oxymoron?

may 6. 2009

A Dream of Words

I can’t touch you.
But with words.
I can’t hold you
But with this blanket of trust.
I can’t see you
Other than through this blurred lens.
And it makes me wonder if what I see,
What I read,
What I feel…
Is it real?
My best friend met her soul mate like this.
They are 500 miles apart and closer than ever.
It can happen.
And this modern medium,
This connection,
That can be so electric,
So close despite the physical distance…
Or maybe because of it.
Can be a direct line to the head and heart.
If there is honesty and openness
In this place where lies flow so easily
The connection feels real..
There are days I know you
Better than most people I can hug.
Yet in the back of my mind
The constant doubt
Is this real
Or just a dream of words?

may 2. 2009

That Gave Me Tingles

Today I closed my eyes and Shyla (aka Shiela, but the y is more exotic), Shyla laid her peppermint oil-dipped hands across my face. I inhaled as her fingers pressed into my cheeks and slid up to my temples dancing across my forehead. It wasn't a tap dance...more like a tango. Her finger tips moving langurously, seductively pressing deep. The room was dimly lit and with my eyes closed, I was pretty well relaxed. That's when I saw a purple glowing circular patch in my field of vision. My lids were closed but it seemed as if the patch of purple was right between my eyes. Its edges were irregular. I watched it for awhile, seeing how it reacted to Shyla's touch. She massaged my head and a circular path of green appeared atop the purple. Mind you, Shyla didn't mention I might experience any of this lava-lamp-like show in my mind. But it was peaceful and enthralling and I watched as the green patch slowly expanded over the purple...expanding and then contracting, morphing as it did until it overtook the purple. "What was that color?" I asked when she was done. "What did you see?" she asked. I described it to her and she seemed surprised. "That's your third eye," she said. "You saw the energy flow in your body being corrected. The green healed the purple. Not everyone can see that. You must be very atune." I smiled. That gave me tingles.

"Suck My Butt" & Freedom of Speech

There was good news today. Roxana Saberi, an American freelance journalist, who was imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges, was freed. Hallelujah. Praise Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, and our girl Hillary Clinton. In the press conference, our sleepless Secretary of State looked like hell, so I assume she’s been working non-stop to make this happen.

I told my kids about Roxana, the half-Iranian/half-Japanese American reporter. I told them how she studied journalism in school –just like Mom did. She became a freelance journalist –just like Mom did. She moved to a dangerous part of the world to report for the BBC and CNN –while mom moved to the Silicon Valley and set about convincing wealthy suburbanites to invest in liposuction and Botox.

I told my kids that Roxana was in an Iranian prison, accused of being a spy for the United States and she was convicted without a real trial, without a lawyer to defend her. Well, that seems awfully unfair, the kids said. Life isn't always fair, I told them channeling the words of mothers through the generations.

(As an aside, isn’t it amazing that kids have the notion that they are entitled to fairness. Last week my middle son had a day off from school thanks to the swine flu scare. My eldest demanded he be given a day off as well. It was only fair, he said. Who teaches kids that life is fair? Or are they born with some innate notion of fairness? That’s a topic for another blog.)

So, Roxana was put in jail for being a spy. Was she a spy? No. But people are put in jail all over the world for doing a lot less than spying, I explained. In many countries, simply saying things that the government doesn’t like can land you in jail. HERE was the lesson I wanted to share with the kids. And I apologize for taking so long to get here. They are so damn fortunate to live in a country that allows us to disagree publiclly. Hell, we are encouraged to disagree. My kids, who are so fond of saying George Bush was a moron (wonder where they got that idea…and who could disagree with that?) …my kids enjoy unlimited freedom of speech. My 8 year old even told me to suck his butt this evening just to prove it. (His punishment by the way was...I did it.) And because this freedom of speech has always been a part of their lives, they have the privilege to take it completely for granted. Well maybe not today…because of Roxana.

I got tears in my ears... and piss on my hips.

I've got a doggie problem. Rocki Wit Pifer (named for the honorable Rocky Balboa & the esteemed Philadelphia samwich “Wit” cheese) has worse bladder control than a mother who’s birthed three. In other words, house breaking isn’t going smoothly (despite crate training.)

Ya know how when you gotta pee bad and you see the toilet and those last 2 seconds when you gotta finagle your belt and yank down your pants and sit down seem like an eternity of torture? (sort of like that last sentence sans punctuation?) Those last 2 seconds require yogi-like self-discipline. Please tell me I’m not the only one who experiences some cruel Pavlovian response when you just lay eyes on the clean white promise of porcelain relief.

Well, I’m starting to think I am just that for my little Rocki. She sees me and just about loses it every time. She just peed all down my pjs as I carried her outside for her morning walk. It’s official. I am the pissbucket. How symbolic. How sad. How pathetic. Oh wait…the thought just occurred to me that maybe it’s excitement that’s causing her to pee. Maybe I’m more than the visage of urinary relief. Maybe…I’m her rock star and she’s my most devoted groupie. The poor thing can't help but throw her panties on stage, so to speak. She is so freakin’ thrilled to see me that she wets herself at the glorious sight of me. I'm the Mick Jagger of her bladder! Yeah, that’s it. I like that notion muuuuch better.

In anycase, I got a problem. I smell like dog piss.

Any dog whisperers out there? Or anyone into water sports?