Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pink Elephants

It's back...the dreaded writer's block.

Not that I'm some great contraire.

But writing has become, for me, what yoga is to others. It is relaxing, releasing, and puts me in another state of being.

I have gone 12 days without writing, and I feel like a junkie coming down from a high.

Crazy...who would have ever thought that I would become addicted to writing. But, I am.

What does a junkie do, though, when they can't find their drug? When they can't steal it, purchase it, or borrow it?

This has been my experience for the past 12 days. I haven't figured out what to write about. Nothing has hit me.

Perhaps the following plays a part in my blockage:

It's been hotter than hell here.
There is a raging war in Israel.
Things continue to worsen in Iraq.
Gas prices are not what they were when I first started driving.
Mel Gibson is an anti-semite (ha! big surprise).
Lindsey Lohan should be spanked (although, come to think of it, she'd probably enjoy that).
American Idol won't return for way too long.
I still haven't had a vacation this summer (and won't)
Mr. Cruisin' is still working on rebuilding our patio overhang.
There isn't a good movie to go see.

Okay, rant over.

Can these be the causes of writer's block? Hard to know.

I only know, I miss my drug of choice. I wish I could find it again. I am willing to beg, borrow, and steal just to find my ability to write again.

I guess I'll just have to sit by and wait patiently.

In the meantime, I hope I don't get the shakes, or start seeing little pink elephants.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Two for the road

Being that it's my mother's birthday this month, (since a girl never wants her age exposed, we'll just say she's somewhere between 75 and 77) I wanted to do something special with her.

Spending time, creating a memory together, is really the best gift I know of. Since my mother and I both love the music of her generation, the standards, I knew that Michael Feinstein and Linda Eder at the Greek Theater, would be just the right memory to create.

And, boy, was I right!

The Greek Theater, in a word, is magic. It is an open air theater, like the Hollywood Bowl, but on a much smaller scale.

I have seen my share of concerts at the Greek, starting with my very first concert, back in 1973...CHICAGO.

Talk about a girl in heaven. Not only did I see them once that summer, but twice. The second time, my boyfriend and I took a chance, drove down there, and purchased front row tickets that someone hadn't picked up in willcall. We sat in the front row...watching them was glorious.

Also, in the 70's, I saw the amazing Carol was the release of her Tapestry album...a flawless album, that still remains one of the best selling of all time.

Neil Diamond performed his famous "Hot August Night" concert there as well.

Last year, Mr. Cruisin surprised me with tickets to Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire...holy crap, it was like being in high school all over again. (But in a good way).

Last night, we arrived early and watched as people poured into their seats. It was a warm, still couldn't have ordered more perfect weather.

The guy selling water...was having a field day...four bucks for a bottle of water...OUTRAGEOUS!!! Why, I spend that on an entire box of water! We refused. Better we should faint in our seats, then pay that ridiculous price for water.

Now, of course when the candy guy came along pushing his wares...we didn't blink at paying the same price for peanut m&m's. Know your priorities.

The evening was filled with the beautiful voices of Michael Feinstein and Linda Eder...singing Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Gershwin tunes, with a smattering of Rogers and Hart.

They both have an ease about them, music and words flowing effortlessly, with a down to earth way of humor and expression, that made those of us in the audience feel as though we were sitting in our best friend's livingroom.

My mom and I soaked up the music, the words, the voices, and humor.

Linda Eder sang a song called "If I Could", that just blew me away. These two verses sum up everything a parent must come to terms with as their child grows:

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
But the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I've watched you grow
So I could let you go

If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
But I know that I can never cry your tears
But I would
If I could

The part of life I gave you isn't mine...I've watched you grow so I could let you go...

Those words just about knocked the breath out of me.

My mother and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening...hopefully a memory we will take with us for many years to come.

I thought about the concert all day today. I'm not sure why. In the midst of the world turing upside down, perhaps a little escape, a little humor, and a little necessary for the human spirit.

All I know is, it's just what these two old ladies needed last night.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Did someone say: "Nobel Peace Prize"?

( inspired by a comment left by Sweettooth in my purple post)

Let's face awards go, the Nobel Peace Prize is certainly prestigious.

I mean, really, if you're going to win something, why not go for the big cheese, the head honcho, the top banana. Do I have any idea how to win the damn thing? Of course not (ooops, I hope I didn't say that out loud).

The other day, I began to think about awards I've won in my lifetime. I didn't play sports while growing up, so certainly no plaques or trophies for me. I have earned degrees. I've received letters congratulating me. But quite sadly, I couldn't think of one award I had received in all 50 years of my life.

Now before you pull out the violin and kleenex, let me tell you about my epiphany.

I was strolling through my family room, head hanging low I might add, realizing that I had not achieved what most people do at some point in their award...for something, anything.

When suddenly, I was struck by a vision. Hiding behind a stack of video tapes and dvd's was It!

My one and only award. Having put in on display 13 years ago, the years had gobbled it up with video tape and other various chachke's, leaving me to forget about it.

But there it stood, proud and erect; shiny, like the day I received it.

When my children were very young, I had been coerced into joining a "mom's" bowling league.

Of course, we never rolled on Shabbos (if you know the origin of that statement, I'll send you a bag of jelly belly's).

Every Friday morning, I 'd rush to Starbuck's for my caffeine fix, shine my ball, dust off my shoes...and bowl the hell against other mom's like myself.

We would bowl and bitch for two hours straight.

No kids (they were stuck in school), no husbands (just us girls), no obligations.

Admitting you bowl, is kind of like admitting you like Barry Manilow (which by the way, I do). It's one of those things when I was single, I never would have admitted on a first date...if I intended to have a second one, that is.

By that point, my husband had seen me give birth to two kids...I don't think joining a bowling league was going to faze him much. (Barry Manilow, maybe).

Each team was comprised of three women. We paid a fee, pooled money, and winnings were distributed at the end of the term.

Well, wouldn't you know, my team was amazing!!! We bowled our butts off. We went around kicking bowling ass. We were hot, bitchen...the "Belle's of the Bowl". Our team was appropriately named "the Ballbusters".

The season ended a few weeks before school let out...bringing to a halt a sense of weekly independence, power, and prowess. Each year, it felt a little sad to know, that our little corner of the world had to come to an end.

For eight months, we felt athletic (bowling actually uses muscles and burns calories...don't kid yourself), had a place to commiserate about child rearing, relationships, the latest neighborhood scuttlebutt, and where the next In and Out was opening.

I guess you could say, bowling was bonding. Who knew?

The season ended with a luncheon banquet and the passing out of awards for best bowling team, and of course, the monetary earnings.

We "Ballbusters" sat patiently as the awards were given out. First place, not us...but that was okay...second and third were within our grasp.

Second and third place were Ballbusters.

We were devasted. How could it be? We had bowled our butts off (no easy feat for two Jews and an Irish woman).

We sat... our hearts pounding, our palms sweating...while there seemed to be one more award to be given.

"...and now for the worst team of the season...the award goes to...


Cheers and applause consumed the room. I had done a spit-take with my diet coke.

What a moment. I had won an award. I could return home to my family that day, knowing that their mom was finally someone to be proud of.

The above picture is my award, my trophy, my Nobel Peace Prize...

...a woman bowler sitting atop a roll of toilet paper.

What I learned that day is this:

Bowling is all about getting the s#*t beat out of you by the other teams...

Apparently... we did just that.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Jelly Bellys

I suppose it's no secret by now, that I love candy, icecream, and, well, just about anything sweet.

But, (in my humble opinion) there is no candy quite as perfect as JELLY BELLYS.

For a bit of history about Jelly Belly's you can read here.

Jelly Belly's even made it all the way into space on the shuttle carrying the first female astronaut, Sally Ride. (who, by the way, grew up in the San Fernando Valley...who said a valley girl couldn't amount to much?).

What is it that makes the jelly belly so perfect?

Let's discuss:

First of all, they are FAT FREE. Yep, you heard me right...let's say it together: FAT FREE.

Secondly, they are only 4 calories each. YAHOO!

Thirdly, what other candy comes in 50 different flavors? NONE

And, there are recipes for mixing flavors to acquire a delectable taste sensation.

Fourthly, for all of my kosher readers, get this: THEY ARE KOSHER! oy vey.

They are perfect for parties, adding just the right amount of color to any hostess's table.

Why, it was even good enough for one of our greatest actors of the 20th century (oops, I mean President of the United States).

I can't remember exactly when I tried my first Jelly Belly...I'm guessing it was in the early 80's.

I quickly became hooked. In fact, if all that was left to eat in the world were Jelly Belly's (and In and Out Burger of course) I would be quite satisfied.

If the world ended tomorrow, I believe this quote I once heard, sums it all up:

"After a nuclear holocaust, all that will be left are cockroaches and Cher".

I would like to add, and Jelly Belly's.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Color Purple

Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.

And, it's my favorite color.

When I was 5 1/2 years old, we moved to a new home. My room was softly painted in lavendar and white. I'm not sure if I picked the color, or if my mom picked it for me.

I only know...I loved it.

If a room can make you feel a particular way, then my room knew just how to gently remind me that I was pretty, and delicate, and special.

The moment I entered, I felt transformed. Safe. Secure.

I cared for and nurtured my room like a best friend. I kept it clean and neat, and respected every inch of my special space.

Children can sense what is going on in a home, like radar. They can see movement, the blink of an eye, the tone of a voice...and know that something has changed.

My brother and I were not told of my father's illness, but as all children do, I imagine we could sense the turn our destiny would soon take.

I look back now and wonder if my drive to maintain an orderly room, was really my attempt to calm the chaos I could sense going on in our home.

Nonetheless, I would fondly remember that lavendar room for the rest of my life.

We moved when I was 12, leaving behind the room that had wrapped itself around me, caring for and soothing me through my life turning upside down.

I no longer had a lavendar room.

The years went by, living in various apartments, until I married Mr. Cruisin. We lived in the house he already owned.

It was the '80's...mauve (just a fancy way of saying muted pink) was the color of choice. My husband, being the good sport that he is, agreed to redo the master bedroom in mauve. Can you imagine? Prior to me showing up on the scene, it was he and his the "manly life".

A few years later, we would move to our home we live in now.

When it came time to decorate the master bedroom, color decisions had to be made. The '90's were quickly approaching and mauve was on it's way out. A new color for the bedroom was definitely in order.

In my quest to pick an appropriate color, I could feel a wave wash over me.


I could, once again, have a purple bedroom!

I brought this idea to my husband, who had just finished living with a mauve bedroom.

He agreed to the purple bedroom. It was as if this man could sense my need to have a room that would once again, wrap it's arms around me. Not many men would go along with a purple bedroom. But my husband did.

For the last 18 years, we have lived in a bedroom that is predominantly purple.

When I walk into my bedroom, I'm reminded of what it feels like to be pretty and delicate and special, even if it's momentarily.

I'm not quite so neat and clean anymore. I suppose I no longer have to hold so tightly to calm and order. Having children certainly changes all of that.

Creating order in my pretty lavendar room did not change the sorrow that was to follow.

But now, my purple room beckons the memories of a time when my world was safe...

in a room softly painted in lavendar and white.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Summertime, and the living is...BLAH!

I begged this magazine to not use my picture on the cover...

It's summer.

Time for vacation.

Time for...beaches...sun...swimming...sunburns.

It's all I've heard anyone talk about this past week. Everyone, and I mean everyone I know, has some fabulous getaway planned.

We, on the other hand, do not. We didn't plan anything...and truthfully, I'm not complaining. Sometimes getting ready for a trip, and even the actual trip, aren't worth all the hassles you run into when travelling.

Who needs rest and relaxation...the tropics...balmy beaches...palm trees swaying...some silly blue drink with an umbrella in it.

Not me.

I'm all for smog, humidity, the smell of dead skunk.

Why, who wants to stop: answering phones, opening bills, scooping dog poop, and cleaning toilets?

Not me.

Who needs snorkeling, sailboating, shrimp cocktails, and a Swedish massage with Sven?

Not me.

Don't get me wrong, we've had plenty of great vacations. Although many years ago, we did venture out on a cruise from hell.

The very first day, poor Mr. Cruisin took ill. He couldn't get off the damn ship, joining us for dinners only.

The second day, both of my children took ill, acquiring a new symptom each day thereafter.

What started as a simple cold, quickly turned into sinus infections. From there, a brutal cough developed for both my offspring. On to double ear infections, and ending with a rousing case of conjunctivitis, better known as a lovely shade of "pink" eye, for my youngest.

The bulk of the vacation was spent in the cabin watching a John Travolta movie called Phenomenon...not once, not twice, but close to 20 times. You see, when you're rocking back and forth on a ship in the big, big have but two choices:

To watch the movie they run over and over and over again, or watch a video tape of the festivities taking place on your ship from the prior evening. Tough choice.

So much for cruising (you'd think with my name, it would have been a perfect fit). That was the first and last time we tried that.

But, we've had some wonderful vacations through the years, that hopefully left a lasting positive impression on my children.

Alas, this won't be the year for a vacation.

I'll have to settle for a brown drink (diet coke, of course) in my backyard, watching the rose bush sway in the sticky summer eve...

...while Mr. Cruisin takes the place of Sven.