Posted in Word Therapy

Is it Too Early? Is it?!

Around the end of August, when it is 100+ degrees outside, I start planning my Halloween décor.  I’ve tired of the heat by this time in summer.  The kids are back in school and the waterparks will all be closed in a couple of weeks.  As I am somebody that can’t just be in the moment, I start to daydream of fires in the fireplace, knee high boots, and that one time during a Southern California winter where I can wear one of my large collection of beanies.  And by Labor Day, my Hello Kitty Witch and Jack Skellington inflatables will be waving around on our front lawn, my freak flag out for all to see.

Last year this time I was all set to listen to Christmas music.  I had my Waitresses Pandora station queued up so I can listen to favorites such as “Do They Know it’s Christmas” by Band Aid, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, and “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.  But the week before that the apocalypse had been ushered in by the 2016 election.  I was still devastated.  Getting up was a chore.  Rather than taking it day by day, I was focusing on minute by minute.  Music, which usually lifted me up, only reminded me of a time when I looked forward to the future.  For Christmas of 2016, I didn’t listen to holiday tunes.  I directed my attention on my kids and what could I do to show them to still believe in Santa Claus and what was good in the world.

With Thanksgiving a week away, I have hope again.  Indictments are being made.  Mueller is playing a game of chess with the White House while Dumb Ass in Chief is being a school yard bully with the leader of North Korea.  Instead of the news being on all the time, Bob Marley, Maroon 5, and even videogame music is being danced to.

So if you are that person that rolls their eyes at Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, it’s all good.  But I’m going all in this year and blaring my “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for all to hear.  Because it makes me happy DAMNIT.  And don’t we all deserve a little bit after this (all the bad words in all the languages) of a year?

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Posted in Bookworm

Friday Favorite: Turtles All the Way Down

I have a soft spot for John Green.  The Fault in Our Stars exposed me to a new type of young adult novels where before I was only reading dystopian (The Hunger Games) and fantasy (Harry Potter).  He does YouTube videos with his brother Hank called the vlogbrothers and he is open about his mental struggles.  His newest release is called Turtles All the Way Down and even though it doesn’t beat The Fault in Our Stars as my favorite, I enjoyed reading it and the story managed to surprise me.

The story is about Aza Holmes, a high schooler who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Her best friend is Daisy and she lives with her mom, a teacher.  She misses her deceased dad every day and drives his car to school.  Aza has obsessive compulsive disorder.  She is constantly worried about the bacteria that could be infecting her body.  And when she decides to investigate the disappearance of a local billionaire with Daisy, her mental health starts to spiral out of control.

Green has used the missing person angle before.  Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns both deal with boys going after girls that they are fascinated/infatuated with.  When I began Turtles I thought I was getting more of the same.  Aza’s singular focus on what is going on in her body irritated me as the story of the eccentric billionaire didn’t hold my interest.  But as I kept reading, I began to empathize with Aza.  I don’t know if it is because sometimes I wish I could get out of my own head because of the destructive thoughts or if I could relate to her feelings of almost drowning.  The mystery became secondary to her getting worse and those around trying to help.

If you like young adult novels (and you really should because there are so many great ones out there), I recommend Turtles All the Way Down.  John Green obviously cares about the younger generation and it is reflected in these characters he creates with attention.

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend.  Thanks for reading!

 

Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Anxiety, Panic, and Pessimism: Take A Seat

Back at home.  A house, while smaller, has character and a tranquil backyard (my kids are so tired of hearing about the character of Fullerton houses but I am in serious architectural hog heaven).  There are so many places we want to visit in the OC that I have to keep reminding myself that those places aren’t going anywhere and neither are we.  And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m not stressed about bills.  That is when the voices start to close in and try to sabotage my brain.

I have had a good life.  I grew up in a nice home, have loving parents, and was never really told no.  In adulthood I met the love of my life and we have two great kids.  But I also grew up feeling less than, was bullied relentlessly, and never felt pretty.  My husband and I have survived hard times but they have left their mark.  They put me in the lowest place I have ever been.  Those times made me stronger, weaker, and made me appreciate what I have.  But it also introduced me to my greatest fear: a feeling I never want to revisit.

These days I am the manager of our household, making sure everybody is taken care of and is getting what they need from their life.  That ranges from making sure hubby is getting the time to study calculus after work, to the kids having an after school activity to work out their energy, to Oscar getting his daily walks to stretch his old legs.  I exercise, write, clean, and read.  I of course always want more time to write but how can I complain?  I know how lucky I am.

Then I start to hear, “This can’t last.  Happiness doesn’t stay.  The happier you get, the harder you will have to fall.  Before Prozac those thoughts would make me believe I was alone in this feeling.  I now know that isn’t true.  But Prozac hasn’t chased away the “happiness is fleeting” thoughts.

I’ve never considered trying to calm or manage those destructive thoughts before.  Being rational wasn’t an option and all I did was let the panic take over.  I know I can only control so much and the rest is life telling me who is in charge.  Deep breaths, being responsible, and continuing to work hard is my new way of combating the negativity.  And try not to be so hard on myself because I have recently learned a lesson: Being nice to myself is not only good for me, it is also good for the ones I love.  Such a hard lesson to learn and continue to believe.  I feel like I have to train my brain like writing it on a chalkboard over and over again.

Posted in California Livin', Hiking, Nature, Wellness

Friday Favorite: Fullerton Loop

Sunday is a day of rest.  Sunday is the last day of the weekend when you are supposed to dread going back to work because MONDAY.  Sunday is for reading the paper, drinking coffee, and watching football.  That’s not me.  Sunday to me is getting ready for the week.  Figuring out what I am going to wear, maybe write, and definitely exercise.  Running and yoga are usually the norm but I have been trying to get the whole family to be active on Sundays.  This past Sunday we checked out the Fullerton Loop, a hiking trail that you can also bike and run.  It was a beautiful day and even though we only managed to do 4 miles round trip, we got outside, the kids were loud and rowdy, and I had to pee the whole time (which is pretty much the story of my life).

While Dad figured out where we were going, the kids did an obligatory pose/dab:

Fullerton Loop Dabbing

We started off strong with Scarlet leading the way with her confident stride, not yet annoyed by her brother’s antics

Fullerton Loop Confident Stride

Then Wesley started running up and down the hills, trying to make this “boring” hiking trail (not every hike is Joshua Tree kid) fun

Fullerton Loop Wesley please dont run up the hill

Followed by me asking him to come down as my anxiety tried to take over, whispering he could get hurt or bit by a rodent or snake

Fullerton Loop Thank You Wesley

We stopped at a bench and it was very polite and cordial

Fullerton Loop Bridge Sign

About a quarter of the way in the kids were still smiling so I captured the moment under a bridge

Fullerton Loop Bridge

Wesley has his “I’m the King of the World” daily stance

Fullerton Loop Wesley King

One under a bridge, one on top of a bridge

Fullerton Loop Bridge Smiles

Wesley telling me to find him

Fullerton Loop Bridge find Wesley

Happy they found not a Christmas but a Stranger Things tree

Fullerton Loop Stranger Things

There was some complaining/whining/yelling about needing water and being tired but I know the kids will be up for another hike on one of these upcoming Sundays.  And I will be too.

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend.  Thanks for reading!

Posted in Pop Culture

Woman Crush Wednesday: Pamela Adlon

In 1982 the sequel to the hit musical Grease came out.  It starred Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield.  It was panned by critics and was a bust at the box office.  When I saw it as a preteen, I fell in love.  I knew the songs by heart (Cool Rider FTW), had a crush on Maxwell Caulfield, and was thrilled that Pfeiffer’s character’s name was Stephanie.  And there was one character who I identified with: Dolores Rebchuck.  She was the little sister to Pink Lady Paulette and full of spunk:

Pamela Adlon Grease 2

The actress playing Dolores Rebchuck is Pamela Adlon.  She has been acting since she was a child, often voicing animated characters.  She has starred on shows like Californication, Lucky Louie,  and most recently the show she is also directing and writing, Better Things.     Her characters are always strong, smart, and full of attitude.  In a recent episode of Better Things her character Sam is teaching acting students that an audience wants to see your weaknesses.  Adlon’s characters always show their weaknesses, making them even more relatable.

On the Showtime show Californication, Pamela Adlon played Marcy Runkle, wife to Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler).  Marcy is also known as “Cokey Smurf” due to her tiny stature and uncontrollable cocaine habit.  She is manic and has little to no time for bullshit.  She calls out both her husband Charlie and his best friend Hank (David Duchovny) when they get out of hand, showing tiny doesn’t mean weak.

HBO’s Lucky Louie was the studio recorded precursor to FX’s Louie.  Pamela played Louie’s wife Kim and also wrote one episode.  Louis C.K. created the show and has encouraged Adlon’s writing on Better Things.  They have great chemistry together.  In one memorable episode C.K. goes full frontal and his on stage wife doesn’t even flinch.

Better Things is one of my favorite shows on tv.  Sam is an actress mom to three girls.  Pamela wrote the show that is based on her life.  The honesty in each episode makes me jump up at least once and yell, “YES!”  A recent episode titled Eulogy is a requirement for any parent who is tired of feeling underappreciated.   As somebody who wears her heart on her sleeve but always polices her feelings, I love how direct, unflinchingly truthful, and even a little bitchy Sam is.  She is who she is and anybody who has a problem with that can exit stage right.

If you like comedies that keep it real and don’t hold back, watch Better Things.  If that isn’t your thing Pamela Adlon also voices characters on Bob’s Burgers, Uncle Grandpa, and even voices Halley Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory.  She is a talent in Hollywood that isn’t going anywhere.

Posted in Word Therapy

Coming Home

It has been two weeks since we have moved back to the OC and we have almost found our groove.  The kids are a little less mad at us today for taking them from their friends and school, hubby is tackling his new job, and I am starting to find bits and pieces of my sanity around the house.  My brain has been on overdrive since we exited Chapman Avenue off the 57 freeway.  When I first arrived here in August of ’93, I was a hopeful 18 year old who couldn’t wait to start her freshman year as a theater arts major at Cal State Fullerton.  Today I am a 42 year old mother of two who is trying to define herself as a writer.  Memories of the former keep playing bumper cars with my present and I am trying to process it.

At 7 am my Iphone alarm goes off so I can get up and feed my pups.  Their tiny nails echo down the hall as the three of us walk outside to get their breakfast.  Within a few minutes I wake up Oscar and Duke’s human sister and brother to get ready for school.  At 815 am the kids and I head out the door to drop them off at school.  Once I greet Scarlet’s teacher at drop off I leave their school and head home.  Several CSUF students line the streets as they head to class on their longboards, scooters, or on foot.  They listen to music with their earbuds and backpacks secured.  I think of the 7 am Political Science class in the Ruby Gerontology Center that I should have known better to sign up for and barely managed to pass.

Once I am home and running shoes are on, I head out for a jog around the city.  I pass more students as I near the school and envy them.  I still have nightmares about missing classes and showing up on the day of a test.  But damn if I don’t miss learning and interacting with other students.  I can’t learn enough these days, as if I am trying to make up for the time I wasted back then.

When I run errands around the city I pass the Bank of America where I used to deposit my $6/hour job checks from Express.  I pass where Off Campus Pub used to be and I would spend my Thursday nights drinking, dancing with my girlfriends, and judging the shoes of all the males (My rule: Don’t wear your nasty kicks or flip flops if you plan on asking a girl for her number).  The apartment complex where I lived in no less than 3 apartments has been repainted gaudy fall colors (mustard, olive green, etc.) and houses a lot more students.

The Brea mall hasn’t changed much except that my favorite French restaurant is gone (I miss you chicken and garlic sandwich with bruschetta!) and I can’t eat a sun dried tomato bagel with a large ice blended coffee for breakfast from the Nordstrom Espresso bar like I used to.  The pet store where I would peer in the window and gush over the puppies on my break will now only be able to sell puppies from rescues and Wesley and I gush over the animals together.  It’s more fun to clothes shop for the kids then it is for me and watching their eyes light up when I buy them nitro candy makes me smile.

Every week I write up the dinner menu for the following week so I can make my grocery list.  In my twenties eating at home was unheard of and rolled tacos with guacamole and shredded cheese with a diet coke (oh the irony) from Alberto’s on Placentia Avenue was what’s for dinner.  These days it’s chicken, rice, and vegetables (otherwise known as “Yuck” according to my kids).

Weekends are spent going to the movies and dinner, laundry, and recouping from the week.  The bars of Newport Beach aren’t missed and neither are the feelings of inadequacy as I looked around/danced in the late 90s.

Do I miss the freedom of my youth?  Who doesn’t?  I wished I had finished my college degree sooner.  But today I feel a wholeness that comes with having a family that I adore and love spending time with.  Gray keeps trying to stage a coup on my dyed hair, the crow’s feet and wrinkles are a part of the landscape of my face and I suspect the waddle is coming:

I will continue to struggle with growing older and hopefully find peace with it.  But instead of obsessing about it today I will show my kids why the OC feels like home.  And maybe give the kids a tour of the Fullerton Arboretum that I used to break into at night with my dorm roommates…

 

Posted in Pop Culture, Wellness

Friday Favorites

I am knee deep in purging, packing, and panic over here and haven’t been able to properly sit down and write a decent blog post. I’ve written down some topics: Ode to Tacos, Woman Crush Wednesday (Stephanie Beatriz, aka Rosa from Brooklyn Nine-Nine), even just pictures of furniture that I am eyeing for the new house. But then I dismissed them all under stupid or no one cares (I have a long list of those that my brain likes to remind me of). So here’s a list of what is making me happy right now. I hope you have a list of your own (maybe one of these is on there!) and are able to take the time to enjoy them.

Music: Miley Cyrus’s “Younger Now”

Miley is an old soul. This video is rockabilly adorable and her smokey voice has only gotten stronger as you see her becoming the person she is meant to be.

Movie: The Big Sick

If you have read about The Big Sick, you know that it is touted as being a sweet and funny romantic comedy that you will love. And that is all true. The plot is based on the real life love story between star Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, who is played by Zoe Kazan. Along with It, The Big Sick is one of my favorite movies of 2017.

Hulu Binge: Top of the Lake China Girl

This second season of the Elisabeth Moss crime drama manages to improve on the first. Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) and Nicole Kidman as flawed but strong women join the cast as Moss’s Robin tries to find the killer of a young sex worker who washes up on the shore of Sydney, Australia. Jane Campion (The Piano) doesn’t shy away from dark subject matter but it is always compelling.

Book: Stephen King’s The Stand

This is my first Uncle Stevie novel and I have read over and over again that this is his best one. I am about a quarter of the way in and all I can think is:

Yes, I knew before that Stephen King was awesome. The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are two of my all time favorite movies that are based on stories by him. But as a writer/reader, his level of description is mind blowing. I feel like Captain Obvious typing this but seriously, why did I wait so long?!

Movie Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs

Dogs, Japan, animation, and Wes Anderson. And no matter how weird it looks, it will be AWESOME.

Have a wonderful weekend!