sleepy, so sleepy

I’ve been exhausted for the last two weeks. After a nurse friend said I looked anemic it all started to make sense. I’m winded, I feel like I can’t stay awake yet I can’t fall asleep, and I’m kind of depressed. But really, how is this different than any than any other day?

Since having children almost 5 years ago I don’t think I’ve had more than 4 hours of sleep at one time. At least one of our boys wakes up every night. And they are not quiet about it. For a couple of months, our 3-year-old would walk down the hall and get in bed with us, which is fine with me. Sometimes we would only be awake for a few minutes and not have to get out of bed. But now, both boys will yell at the top of their lungs for us to get up and come get them.

I try to go to sleep early, but I can’t bring myself to do it. The evenings are my only time to talk to my husband and, when he’s working late, to be alone. I can send email, read, finish a thought, sit on the couch with no one jumping on my stomach – good times.

I can’t imagine how good it would feel to get a full night’s sleep. Even the few times the kids have been at the grandparents, I wake up at the time that they usually wake up and then I can’t get back to sleep. Meanwhile, they’re dreaming peacefully of ring pops and R2D2, with grandma and grandpa snoozing away in the next room.

As much as I complain about the boys being in the room with us, I do secretly love it. It’s nice to know that if there’s an earthquake we won’t have to run across the house to get to them; they’ll be right there. And we’re more likely to sleep in if we’re all huddled together. And, I just like them being there. Even if it makes me crabby, tired, and very pale.

I've never been so proud

There is a homeless man who comes and goes from our neighborhood and he’s been back for about a week. He’s clearly mentally ill and prone to fits of shouting at anyone who walks by (real or imaginary). He’s got a shopping cart and bags full of his things that he arranges by his sidewalk bed.

He was out yesterday, a bitter-cold and windy evening, sleeping on the sidewalk on a busy stretch of Olympic. I walked by with my boys who were both wearing two shirts, jackets, hats and boots. I told them to stay close because I was worried the man would start yelling and scare them.

That didn’t happen and the man just looked like he was trying to stay warm. My older son asked me why he was out there, why he didn’t have a place to stay. He’s been asking a lot about homeless people lately. I told him that some people don’t have a place to live and no money. I never know how far to go into the misery of the world with him. I want my kids to know that things aren’t easy for people and we need to help out as much as we can. But I don’t want to scare them or contribute to them growing up too fast.

As we walked on, my older son said “I have a great idea.” He asked me if I remembered when they rode bikes at school for the (St. Jude’s Children’s Research) Hospital. Maybe we could do the same for the homeless people.

When he was walking around the house saying “Barack Obama is the man for change,” I took that with a grain of salt. He heard me talking about the election and was just repeating a campaign slogan. But this was different. He came up with this on his own. He felt something for another human being and wants to help. I’ve never been so proud.

The Blustery Days

Five weeks into my new business and the phone is ringing off the hook!

Not really. It’s been slow going so far, but I’m looking at this as a time to get my name out there. I’m making gluten-free baked goods – pies, cakes and cookies – and I drive through the mean streets of Los Angeles in my hybrid to get them to you, which means I deliver.

I had a couple of orders on Thanksgiving and it went really well. Last week, I set up a booth at a local merchant market in the parking lot of a grocery store and sold enough that I actually broke even. Sweet!

There was another one on Saturday, but I wasn’t going to do it. Saturday is hard because the kids are home and I had signed up to do a 10k in Venice. I also had dinner plans on Friday with friends, no kids. When does that ever happen? And, according to the weather report, a winter storm was approaching and it was supposed to rain Saturday.

“I’m out,” I told my sister. “I want to do the 10k and it’s going to rain. Running in the rain is okay, selling baked goods when it’s raining seems futile.”

“What!?” she yelled. She said I couldn’t let a little thing like rain hold me back from taking an opportunity to sell cookies. There was more loud-talking that I tuned out. She did have a point; if I’m going to do this, I need to just do it, rain or shine.

So after a night out with champagne, a flight of wine, and fantastic food (Upstairs 2, try it!) where I stayed up until 1:30, I stumbled out of bed at 4:30 to start baking. Ugghh. I’m not a morning person and anytime before 6 am is brutal for me. I powered through and made 6 banana loaves, six dozen chocolate chip and frosted Christmas cookies, 20 individually wrapped brownies, and, the most time-consuming and expensive, a Christmas Tree cake and cupcakes.

I was running late so my husband offered to pick up and set up a canopy I was borrowing from a friend. When I went to frost the cake, something occurred to me that really should have hours before; I didn’t have anything to put it in. The boxes I had were too small for the oversized cake. I ran from room to room looking for a box. Finally, I cut out a Christmas Tree shape from cardboard, covered it in foil and frosted the cake. I took apart a pie box and taped it back together to be the right size. I went to put plastic wrap around the box, but the wrap kept sticking together. My husband called, he was already there with our two boys. “I can’t get the plastic around the box!” I shouted into the phone. He mumbled okay and said I needed to hurry.

I used half the box of wrap to cover the cake and raced to the market. Once I got there I realized there was no rush. It was drizzling and cold outside, and there were just a few vendors. After a couple of hours I remembered what I’d told my sister; LA shuts down when it rains. It was so slow. Not only were few people stopping to look at what the merchants were selling, few people were going into a grocery store on a Saturday.

Soon, the sun was shining, but the wind picked up. I joked with the woman who I let share the canopy with me that it would the icing on the cake of my day for the whole thing to blow away. Minutes later, we were holding the canopy down so that very thing wouldn’t happen. The wind was so bad the nice couple next to me packed up their jewelry and headed home. I didn’t want to go home until I sold as much as I could. Fresh baked goods are only fresh for a short time.

I refused to give up. I took down the canopy and now there were only a few of us left. I sat huddled over my table making a human umbrella over my perishable good. Cars started parking around the last couple of holdouts and a woman yelled at me that I wasn’t allowed to solicit in front of the grocery store.

Humiliated and frozen to the bone, at four and a half hours I decided it was time to call it a day. But wait, there was a rush (relatively speaking) at the end and I ended up selling almost everything. Except of course for the cake.

When my husband came back to help me pack up, my son said he was so happy that I saved the beautiful Christmas tree cake for him. Well, that’s something.

Day 2
My hopes to make a killing (or sell at least half of my stuff) were all on the Wednesday market now. It was the last one for December.

The day started and ended in pouring rain. The cold was so numbing that at one point I had trouble giving change.

I thought it couldn’t get worse and then, as I was closing up, Elliott Gould walks up. He asked me what I had and inquired about the cost. Then he tried something and said “Is it okay if I don’t?” Ouch. No, Elliott Gould, it’s not okay.

Sunday Morning

I woke up Sunday morning feeling fairly good about myself. I got up at 6:30 to go on a run and I was still giddy after staying up late the night before designing cards for my new business. But like my son’s balloon in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s, I suddenly deflated.

I opened up the New York Times to see that a former coworker had a column in the Sunday Styles section. Not just the Sunday Styles section, my favorite section of the paper, but the Modern Love column. My dreams in life are to write a book and have a Modern Love column. Yes, she also wrote a book and, yes, it was good. As was this column. It was funny and risky and sad. And about having sex with someone in the back of a car (it was about something else, much deeper, but really, who can get past the sex in the back of a car?). Oh, the bravery to tell such a story! Oh, the jealousy I’m feeling right now! I’m so jealous, I can’t stand it.

These sporadic feelings of jealousy started with that damn Facebook. An old college friend emailed me a couple months ago and said I needed to “friend” her so I could look at humiliating pictures of myself from 1994. I emailed back that she was already my friend and I wasn’t hip to her cool internet jive. I joined, and now I’m kind of hooked on it. (Not as much as the woman who keeps sending me virtual hugs. I don’t like people touching me, virtually or otherwise.)

Catching up with people I haven’t seen in ages is good. Reading about how much more successful they are, isn’t. CNN, The New York Times, books, companies , you name it and they’ve done it. I’m happy for them, but melancholy for me. After moving from the Bay Area I sort of dropped off the face of the earth. I made new mom friends and kept in contact with just my old, close friends. But with Facebook, I hear about everyone. It’s not that they’re all single with no kids. There are doctors, lawyers, editors, and a slew of moms who run their own business. What the hell have I been doing?

I’m not unhappy that I stay home with my kids. The reason my career isn’t going anywhere fast isn’t because of stay-at-home-momdom. The woman who wrote the book and the column is a mom, too. A single mom, so her job is much harder than mine. And my friend Claire wrote a book while her kids were napping. She has no childcare and she just did it because she’s awesome and much more focused than I am.

I’m hoping that by starting my new business I can get some of my focus back. It’s not like I sit around eating bon-bons, I’m very busy, don’t get much sleep and don’t feel like I have any time for myself. Before kids, it was so easy to pop from one thing to the next, to pick up and move for the next best opportunity. But now I can rarely make a phone call without interruption. Or finish a thought or have a meaningful conversation (take now, for instance. My 3-year-old is trying to sit on my lap and my 4-year-old is sitting so close to me my leg is starting to sweat).

I think I’ve been waiting for my career to be as easy as it was before kids. And now that I know that’s never going to happen, it’s time to focus.

Organic changes

After my first son was born I tried so hard to do everything right. I fed him only organic vegetables that I had steamed and pureed myself, I nursed him until I was 3-months-pregnant with my second child, and I was adamant that he didn’t watch television.

Everything changed when we moved to Los Angeles. My youngest was a month-old and we were living in a two bedroom apartment on a noisy stretch of Wilshire. We switched from healthy organic food to takeout and after a few rainy days cramped in the apartment with the new baby and a toddler, the television went on. And it hasn’t been turned off since.

Until recently, I only let the boys watch educational shows like Little Einsteins and Go Diego Go. I didn’t feel good about it, but I felt it was better than Sponge Bob. And then the original Star Wars came on TV. I have to preface this by saying I am a huge Star Wars fan. I was 5 when the original came out and I was obsessed with it. I knew the boys would love it too, but mostly I wanted to watch it again. I wanted to see Harrison Ford when he was young and beautiful and hear the clever banter between Han Solo and Princess Leia, and of course I wanted to see the Death Star blown to pieces.

As I suspected, the boys were enthralled. My older son was Luke Skywalker for Halloween and he talks nonstop about Star Wars. What I didn’t anticipate were the endless questions that would come from watching it and the two sequels. “Is Ben Kenobi dead? Where is Tatooine? Who is the guy with the awesome backpack?” (Sort of, in a galaxy far, far away, Boba Fett.)

The movies seemed so kitschy to me that I blocked out the violence and adult themes. I thought that since it looked like the blasters shot light they weren’t really guns. When my younger boy started making his Leggos into a blaster and making shooting noises, I knew I’d opened a door I couldn’t back out of. My oldest’s discussion of death threw me, too. About the time he realized that Obi Wan Kenobi had really died was when my uncle passed away. We had a short discussion about why Nana was coming to town and why everyone was so sad. I’m not ready for the death talk and I don’t think the boys are either.

I wish I’d thought it through before I let them watch the movies. They’re not traumatized, but their little fantasy world is no longer just rescue packs and rocket ships; it’s filled with evil emperors, bounty hunters and spaceship-eating dinosaurs that live underground.

I’m going to try to be better about what they watch, but it’s not going to be easy. The Clone Wars is on sale at Best Buy and the boys know all about it from preschool. Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV.

Beautiful people shop in LA

I stopped by the store after spin class last weekend and I think Bed, Bath and Beyond was having a special friends and family of models day. I smelled like I’d slept on the street and, frankly, looked like I normally look, which is not like a model. Everywhere I turned there were beautiful people – men, women, children, young, old, smart, dumb (I’m going to imagine that they were all really dumb) looking like they were walking down Wysteria Lane.

And this is why I hate LA. Even at the Bed, Bath and Beyond on Sunday morning everyone looks amazing. Why amazing? Why not dowdy church clothes? Or sweat pants with an underwear line showing? Okay, there was one couple wearing sweats and baseball caps, but they looked like they walked out of a Gap ad. I’m pretty secure with myself, until faced with the genetically gifted.

My insecurity followed me into the late afternoon when I took my boys to a birthday party. It wasn’t enough that it was at a popular children’s play gym, but it had a Star Wars theme with a special guest appearances by Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. My kids’ birthday parties are in our backyard and feature a piñata, some sort of grilled meat and a cake from Costco.

Many people loathe kids birthday parties, but I love them. They always have cake. This particular cake was amazing and did not come from Costco. It was in the shape of a four with marzipan molded and painted to look like a galaxy. It was covered in Star Wars figurines and all of the kids said “oohhh” when it came out.

Needless to say, it was a pretty amazing party when you are 3-and 4-year-old boys like my sons. To be honest, it was also a pretty amazing birthday party when you’re a 37-year-old woman who has seen Star Wars 50 times.

I hope the boys aren’t too disappointed when their birthday rolls around and we’re grilling again. Maybe I’ll tell them it’s grilled bantha.


What has happened that me? I asked myself this question the night before Halloween when I was sewing a costume on my 3-year-old son’s baby doll. He (my son) was going to be Diego from Go Diego Go and he wanted his most beloved baby to be Baby Jaguar. So I fashioned a fur suit out of brown felt and used fabric paint to make the belly. I dotted about 50 red spots all over his little outfit. This unprecedented burst of creativity got me to bed after 11:30 with cramped hands and dry eyes.

The next morning, the first thing I did was show off my fabulous costume. I was sure it would get me on Project Runway; my son didn’t agree. “Get it off him. Baby Jaguar doesn’t have red spots. Noooooooo!!!!” He then tried to rip the costume off of baby while simultaneously throwing himself on the ground crying.

Ughhh! I had a job once, a purpose in the world. Now I’m making straightjackets out of felt for my son’s dolls (yes, he has a doll and it’s adorable). That he doesn’t even like!

first blog

always one to be years behind a trend (i just got a pair of crocs and hear that they’re so yesterday) I’ve decided to start a blog…