Archive by Author | Catherine Gullickson

Golf is Hell

I’ve made some pretty big mistakes along the way, such as getting a Dorothy Hamill wedge haircut and buying a white linen couch for our family room, but no mistake was larger than getting one of my kids involved in golf.  It all started so innocently.  Peter had tried soccer and wasn’t really into it anymore.  Great news for me; soccer sucked!  Being a Tiger Mom wannabe, I was determined that he was going to have some kind of activity (aka not hanging around at home bugging me).  He had played a little golf with his Aunt and Uncle and had a good time; plus they said he had “talent”.  Why not give it a try?  So, off he went with a $50.00 set of golf clubs and the intent to “have fun” and “make friends”.  That’s all it was; simple really. Unfortunately for me, he was noticed by the club pro as having a “nice swing”.  Once that swing was noticed, we were introduced to the nightmare world of junior golf.

How could golf be a nightmare you say?  How hard could it possibly be, you ask?  Golf appears to be such a calm, courteous type of activity. Players seem to be enjoying themselves in a beautiful setting on a lovely day. It all looks so civilized and friendly and casual.  They take their hats off after the round and shake hands.  They have names like Bob and Chad.

It’s a complete lie.  Trust me, I’ve been on the sidelines of this “sport” and I can tell you, with great authority:  Golf is Hell!

Just say no. This is what hell looks like. Trust me.

Once the junior golf thing really got rolling (pun intended), I had the privilege of being personal assistant, chauffeur and one woman cheer squad as we travelled the country in pursuit of the holy grail: a top ten finish at a high level tournament. He played golf, and I took care of everything else.  We went to Detroit and Stockton and Grand Rapids and San Antonio and more.  Here’s a list of just a few of the many insane episodes of our golf adventures:

Fly into Cleveland at 10pm and drive 4 hours to a tournament?  Check!

110 degrees and 98% humidity?  Check!

36 degrees and hail?  Check!

Driving rain and 30mph winds?  Check!

Break golf club during the round?  Check!

Forget to wear contact lenses during play?  Check!

Hide out under the deck of a house during a lightning storm in the middle of a round?   Check!

Forget golf shoes and play the round in sneakers? Check!

Golf ball landing in crotch of a tree?  Check!

Hit by golf ball while walking the fairway?  Check!

Get lost in the housing projects of Chicago and have to ask for directions at an inner city gas station?  Check!

You name how ridiculous the effort and the situation and we doubled it.

In the beginning, I tried to stay out of it.  I didn’t know that much about golf anyway.  I stayed in the hotel while he played, waiting for the call to pick him up.  Turns out, it was much worse not knowing how it was going.  Besides, you can only watch so much E! News before you lose your mind.  So, I started following along in the round, I figured I could carry the Gatorade and get some exercise.  Little did I know that I was entering the 9th circle of hell.

What I quickly learned is that you must maintain a very pleasant facial expression at all times.  No matter where that stupid ball goes.  For anyone who knows me, this is not easy.  OK, a total impossibility.  All I can do sometimes is turn around and stare at a rock to try to regain my “that’s ok that you had to hack it out twice from the sand trap” face.  I’d like to see your facial control when the ball goes in the water on the 18th hole and he misses the cut, or the ball goes out of bounds and you’re looking in gopher holes in the desert for the damn thing.  Screaming after a ball bounces off the cart path and over a cliff is, unfortunately, frowned upon in polite golf society.  Also, not so great for your player’s confidence.

There isn’t really anything, sport or not, where just one mistake can make the difference between 1st and 20th (ok, maybe brain surgery).  The entire game revolves around managing mistakes. How fun can that possibly be?  A puff of wind at the wrong time, a tiny miscalculation of distance, a cough during a backswing.  An additional element (as if that was needed) is plain old luck.  A bad bounce off a cart path, a 2 foot putt that rolls around the hole and pops out. Those are just a few of the thousand things that can make a round go sideways.  Like the game needs any more stupidity?!

Just go in the stupid hole already, you stupid ball!

I’ve learned to not say “Let’s talk about that triple bogey on hole 13″ after a round.  I know that post-tournament ice cream for him and a glass of wine for me has healing properties.

Essential tool for tournament survival.

I know that there’s always a chance for a win, that is until the ball hits a tree and lands under a bush, beside a large rock, near the water next to a sand trap.

There is a small comfort in the knowledge that there’s always another tournament and another chance at the prize.  It just means that we’re back on a plane and then in a car, going to another tournament in the middle of Indiana, in November, trying to find the hotel at midnight, with an early tee time the next morning.  Sigh…

It still doesn’t make me miss soccer.

I Heart Florence Even More

I know that you are aware of my obsession with Florence+the Machine.  My recent attendance at her concert has made it an even bigger obsession, if that’s even possible.  I don’t mean a stalker kind of thing, just a greater love and appreciation of her music and her personhood.  The concert was held in Santa Barbara at an outdoor ampitheater, scheduled to start at 8pm.  I hate being late, so for an hour long trip, I made the family leave at 4:30.  You always have to take into consideration the traffic in Southern California; apparently not so much on a Saturday afternoon.  With my husband Jeff (aka Mario Andretti) at the wheel, we made it in 40 minutes.  The family was really kind to me about the early arrival.  Sighs, eye rolls and lots of sitting in the car staring at me ensued.  That was really fun!  I had planned ahead for once, and brought a little pre-function picnic.  It was a little weird to have dinner at 5:00, and it only killed about 10 minutes.  Great, more family time!  Finally, it was time to walk to the venue; a pretty setting on a chilly but clear night.  I had prepared with a hat, gloves, hand warmers and 20 pairs of ear plugs.  Ever the Mother, I wasn’t going to be responsible for the potential hearing loss of my 13 year old.  By the time we were seated, there were about 10 people there and we were 5 of them.  Thank God heavy pours of wine were available.  As I looked around, I did notice that my husband and I were pretty much the oldest there, by about 30 years.  I had a feeling we might be spoiling the vibe of the groups of groovy looking youngsters around us, but I didn’t care, I could heart Florence just as much as they could.

 

That’s me and Florence. I’m practicing my moves pre-concert.

The concert opens with the theme of her latest CD, ” Ceremonials”  with huge tribal looking draperies in the background.  Then Florence comes out in a medieval priestess looking robe with a black cat suit on underneath.  There aren’t any big TV screens and we’re a little far back to see her in detail.  Again, I didn’t care, because there she was; even if a bit tiny and far away.  The music started and she owned the stage!  She was a whirling, twirling kind of otherworldly wood nymph. She’s so charismatic that you really can’t take your eyes off of her, even if you have to squint.   She sounded great, the crowd was into it and there I sat, proud of myself for being a true fan, knowing all the lyrics.  I knew enough though, to not ruin the experience for the people around me by singing along in my screechy, totally out of tune voice.  I was just happy to be there, soaking up the scene.  That is, until the song “Spectrum” came up.  It’s one of my favorites and the one I like to do some interpretive dance moves to when I’m doing my nightly walk.  It was late into the concert, the smell of weed was in the air, and most of the people were standing and really into it.  It was my chance to let it all hang out and officially join the concert.  Confident that Florence would have wanted me to, I get up and not only sing along, but do all my interpretive dance moves to the song.  Jeff is laughing his head off on one side of me and Conrad (the 13 yr old) is on the other, with his hood pulled over his head, hoping to God that he doesn’t see anyone he knows.  My older kids, Anna and Ben, are both in the standing room only section at the front.  They already knew that this might happen and planned ahead to be somewhere else.  Fortunately, for the people around us, the concert ends soon after.  We meet up and all agree that the concert was too cool and that Florence is a star.  I’m still in a bit of an afterglow from my evening with Florence.   I do love my family, but I think, for a while anyway, I love Florence more….

How To Stay Married For Thirty Years

I thought it would be helpful to you dear reader(s) to learn how to stay married a really long time.  I’m highly qualified to give advice in this area because I’ve been married a really long time.

First of all, choosing your partner well is essential.  I selected a large Norwegian Eagle Scout.

Husband material.

Lots of things are strong about this choice.  He has good survival skills, so if you’re ever lost in the wilderness he can start a fire.  Also, if you just need stuff done, like pitching a tent or changing a tire, he’s really good at that kind of thing. He can diagnose weird noises in the car.  He knows how to work all the TV clickers.  He can lift heavy items in the garage and open jars.  Loyalty is a big deal for an Eagle Scout, which is a good thing when you’re married.  His heritage is helpful, because he can handle bleak landscapes and long winters. He’s built to thrive under harsh conditions; trust me, these attributes come in handy for a long marriage.  Another good quality is his ability to understand the 80/20 rule:  I get to talk 80% of the time and he gets to talk 20% of the time.  He seems to be really OK with that arrangement.  He also understands that all anniversaries and Valentine’s Days are gifting opportunities for him to me.  Any gift to me is for my use only and should not have any practical value whatsoever.  This rule had to be established after our first Christmas when he gave me an electric toothbrush and a dust buster.

This is what I'm talking about. Screw the toaster oven!

Oh ya, just a couple more things that are important.  You get one shot at certain comments such as  “So, what exactly did you do today?” in a snarky tone.  Also, he’s learned through trial and error how to artfully answer questions like  “What do you think of my perm?”, “Does this make me look fat?”, “Do you think I’ve gained weight?”, “How does this make my butt look?”, “Do you like my mother?” and “Are you listening to me?”.

Here’s the breakdown of what you should do if you decide to marry somebody.

Year 1.

Away we go!

You must get married, otherwise you won’t make it to Year 2.  No living together!  You must have the pressure of having to return all the wedding gifts to keep you together in that first year.  Also, move once.

Years 2-5.

Buy a fixer upper house.  Stay super busy spending all your spare time remodeling that house and putting in an entire yard while working nights, full-time.  Shared projects, sleep deprivation and lots of debt are the glue to a long term marriage. Move twice.  Also, get a puppy.

Years 5-15.

Have 4 kids and move 3 times.  That alone will give you lots to talk about.  Spend most of your spare time at soccer games, cello concerts and school events like the geography bee.  You’ll have many opportunities for that quality time all couples need.

O.K, so we're sort of like the Duggars, but not really. It just feels like we have this many kids, even though we don't. I guess this is the ultimate in married with children. Such overachievers, it's disgusting...

Years 15-25.

Make sure your husband takes a job where he commutes Monday through Friday and you only see him on the weekends.  It’s like a dog-year marriage.  You may have been married to him for 25 years, but you’ve really only spent 16 total years of time together.  It keeps it all a bit fresher.

Years 25-29.

You’re really too tired at this point to do anything but just stay together.  Neither one of you is on that 50 is the new 40 track.  You have so much baggage that you even own the cosmetic case.  Therefore, your appeal to someone new isn’t too high.  Why would you consider changing anything now?  He barbeques and takes out the garbage; you grocery shop and pay the bills; it’s all so efficient and seamless.  Oh, almost forgot, you still have a 13 year old at home.  One more thing; move again.

Year 29-30

Unless one of you has a complete mid-life crisis and buys a red Corvette, I think you’ll make it safely to year # 30.  Fingers crossed…

Happy 30th Anniversary Honey! You're the best!

So, dear reader(s), there you have it.  I hope you’ve found this helpful.  If you do decide to take on a 30 year marriage yourself, good luck!  It’s wonderful, for real.

The Great Pumpkin

Our dear Ben (baby #2) was a bit unusual from the very beginning.  For those of you who know him, this is not a surprise.  For those of you who don’t, well, hopefully this is entertaining, like a story about seeing the Virgin Mary in a potato chip is entertaining.  It’s just my version of a tall tale.  Literally.  Why is he remarkable?  Well, he weighed 10 lbs 8 oz and was 23 inches long when he was born.  Considering that the average baby weighs 7 lbs and is 18 inches long, it was an interesting experience, to say the least, to literally give birth to a toddler.

He was born on October 27, 1989 right around lunch time; appropriate that he arrived in time for a meal.   The Great Pumpkin had been delivered!  Unfortunately for me, it was a c-section without the benefit of anesthesia. It had a bit of resemblance to the scene from the movie Alien when the first little monster blasts through the guy’s chest.  I had gained about 50 lbs with the pregnancy (damn you Baskin-Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge), so I’m guessing that it took a little longer for the anesthetic to get around to all the parts that needed to be numbed up (aka fat).  The surgeon got started a little too quickly and we ended up with some very interesting video and audio.  Let’s just say I have hard evidence of how much Ben owes me for all that I’ve done for him!  Maybe he would roll his eyes and sigh a little less frequently if I showed that tape on a regular basis.

I told you there was a good reason we called him the Great Pumpkin...

He arrived for his first visit to my room in an incubator meant for an average baby.  I’m pretty sure it took a couple of nurses to jam all of his parts into the tiny plastic box.  His face was pressed against the side with a look of someone in a too small snowsuit in the middle of July.  When we opened it up, it was as if a pressurized device was suddenly released.  Of course he was crying, but it wasn’t a normal cry.  He sounded like he had already gone through puberty, quite low and very loud.  No cuddling with this one, it was straight to the feeding.  His head would get soaked with sweat every time he ate, a giant burp at the finish and then fast asleep (from exhaustion).  This was his (and my) life for quite a while.

It wasn’t so much raising him, it was more like wrangling him.  I was like the Steve Irwin of parenting. He didn’t like to waste any time snuggling with me, endearing himself to his big sister nor cooperating with much of anything.  He was all about the action in the room.  He preferred to be held facing out, so he wouldn’t miss anything.  My favorite and most fun activity of all; cramming him into his car seat.  Think of trying to load a giant pissed off raccoon into your car 5 times a day.  Ben might not have had claws, but OMG he was wild!  He grew so large so fast, it was as if he was a subject in a top secret super baby growth experiment.  Kind of like how they fatten up a calf these days. He seemed to skip babyhood and go straight to toddlerville.  Once he was able to sit up and feed himself, his high chair was his favorite spot and my only job was keeping that plate resupplied.

You thought I was kidding? Now, you try to get this into a car seat. I dare you.

He quickly grew big enough to be a “playmate” for his older sister Anna. God love her, as she had to put up with what I liked to call ” Conan the Destroyer.”  She wanted to play house but he wanted to play house demo team.  She would plan to play school: she’s the teacher and Ben is her student, but most of the time the game was “put Ben in the “principal’s office again” for breaking the school rules. She would play quietly with her dolls, while he played his “throw those dolls against the wall while running screaming through the house” game.  Ben seemed to learn from experience only.  He already thought that he was smarter than me and had to see for himself that sticking his finger in the flame of a candle would  hurt.  Just the beginning of the thousand times I would say “I told you so.”

It was a relief when he was old enough to start school, mainly for Anna’s sake.  I thought it would be nice to prepare Ben for the kindergarten class he would be attending, just to calm any first day of school jitters.  After a chat with the teacher and a tour of the classroom, Ben turned to me with a look of complete disgust and hissed, “Mommy, they still take naps and they don’t know their ABC’s!  Mommy, THEY CAN”T EVEN READ!!”   (If anyone has a life quote that defines him, that one is it for Ben).

I'm sick of "Go Dog Go", get me "The Lord of the Flies" next!

Away we went on another of our many adventures with our “super” Ben.

Never average and never boring…sigh…fingers crossed….

Tall Tales

My daughter Anna and I love tennis and have played it for many years.  We used to play together, until she got so good that it was a little scary to be on the other side of the net from her.  She’s a 6 foot tall lefty who could give you a concussion if she connected your head with one of her volleys.  You can’t ever relax when you’re playing her because it’s almost impossible to get out of the way of her 100+ mph evil kick out wide serve.  O.K., pretty much any of her shots are frightening, especially if they’re coming toward your face.  She appears to be a very nice woman, but it’s really a trap.  She lures you into underestimating her with a sweet disposition and pretty smile.  Then, she hits an overhead near you that’s just a little too close for comfort.  She says she’s “sorry”, but you’re not so sure she really means it.  At this point, the seed of fear has been planted, and you know you’ll never come near the net again.   I think she’s kind of like a tennis assassin in disguise.  Let’s just say it’s a relief that she’s found her own group of super-athletes to play with and I don’t have to be her victim anymore.

She knows what a fan of the game I am, and she generously made plans for us to spend the day at the BNP Paribas Tennis Tourney held in Indian Wells, Ca.  It’s one of the biggest tournaments of the year and all the top pros were going to be there.  It was sunny, in a gorgeous setting and we planned to cram in all the tennis watching we could in one day.  There are several outdoor stadiums to choose from and you can wander the grounds, from the beer tent to the practice courts.  We decided to not have too much of a plan, and just find whatever tennis suited our fancy.

We started with a John Isner singles match, pretty cool because he’s cute and super tall and we had a chance to witness a 141 mph serve…it’s kind of like watching a round green fuzzy bullet being shot from a tennis racket.  As Conrad likes to say, he “pwned”  the serve.  We then mixed it up with a women’s singles match and found a good one that lasted almost three hours.  We saw what zero body fat and unbelieveable fitness looks like.  Inspiring?  No, more like impossible.  So, we were inspired instead to have a beer and soft pretzels before the next match.

She needs to have a beer and nachos with us!

We saw Sharapova from the nose bleed section of the main stadium and still managed to hear her shriek.  We randomly wandered by Nadal on a practice court, a beautiful view of perfection.  We finished our day with a men’s doubles match and hit the road.  We had a really fun day and had our fill of what great tennis looks like.  Even better, we also had hours of good people watching and plenty of mock-worthy material to dish on the way home.

What we observed:

Wearing a tennis outfit when you’re not a player nor a ball kid….ummm, no.

Bringing your infant to the outdoor, no shade event, where it’s about 90 degrees…ummm, no.

Wandering the grounds shirtless and you’re not a player in the tournament…ummm, no.

Analyzing Nadal’s forehand really loudly while watching him practice….ummm, no.

Hanging your disgusting, calloused smelly feet over the back of the chair two seats down from me; complete with chipped toenail polish….ummm, no.

Yelling “Let’s go Maria”!  from the nose bleed section of the stadium over and over.  The only person hearing you was me….ummm, no.

Disputing line calls by hissing, like somehow you know more than the line call guy, sitting way closer to the line than you…ummm, no.

ummmm...no!

We did make a fortunate discovery.  All the good tennis players are tall…ummm yes!  Anna was finally with her “people”  She wasn’t the tallest one there.  She walked by 6’9″ Isner and came up to his shoulder…Yea!  She didn’t get one comment from a total stranger asking her how tall she is.  No one asked her if she played basketball.  No one asked her why she was so tall.  She had a day off from weird comments from weird people.   That was worth the price of admission alone.  We’re already making plans to go back next year, mainly so she can walk free amongst her kind, the really tall kind.  She might even wear heels.

Yea, power to the tall leftys! Yes we can!

I Heart Florence

I’ve become obsessed with Florence + the Machine.  Not really the Machine, just Florence. Florence Welch.  For those of you dear readers who may not know her, she’s the redhead from England with the most AMAZING voice.   She pretty much had me at the hello of the song “Heavy in Your Arms”.   I have all of her music on my ipod and for the past couple of months, that’s all I listen to.  I mean, how can you not think that someone who comes up with lyrics that include “my love’s an iron ball, wrapped around your ankles, over the waterfall”  worthy of adoration?

All Hail, Queen Florence!

I’ve gone through obsessive periods like this in the past, where I’m intensely into one album for an extended period of time (yes, they used to be called albums in the medieval times of the 1970′s).  The Doobie Brothers, Earth Wind and Fire, The Isley Brothers.  Then it was the classical years of piano and cello:  Glenn Gould and his Bach, anything by Beethoven, lots of Brahms, Elgar’s Nimrod, Jacqueline du Pre. Talk about music worms…at least they were of pretty high quality.

I know all of this comes from my absolutely impossible fantasy of being a lead singer in a band.  I know it will never come true, due to the fact that I am completely tone deaf.  I have the worst singing voice ever.  Honestly, Jan Terri could probably take me in a sing-off.   A fantasy can’t recover from the looks of disgust on the faces of your four young children trapped in the car with you while you belt out Journey’s “Open Arms” along with the radio.  When your three year old shouts “Mommy, please stop!  Please make it stop now”! when you sing, it’s time for a new dream.

OMG! Will she just STFU?!?!

The band fantasy is on life support and the message to stop singing in public has been received.  Now, I do all of my singing in secret, in the dark, stealthily.  I take Florence along and sing in full voice on my nightly walks in the neighborhood.  She gets me up the hill and around the blocks.  I always end the walk with her song “Spectrum”  and include some interpretive dancing to add to my workout.  I come home with a bit of a glow, still in my “pretend I’m Florence” mode for a few minutes.  It lasts until someone tells me we’re out of milk and I forgot to send in the field trip permission slip.  Sigh…

(Side note: This is how every X Factor episode should go.  Florence kicking ass and taking names.  And maybe some of Paula’s drugged up seat-dance/clapping.  Oh wait, she was fired…)

My family is quite aware of this obsession and surprised me with tickets to a Florence + the Machine concert next month.  The entire family is going and I’m really excited about it!   I’ve only been to orchestra concerts and I don’t quite know what to expect.  I’ve got my Mom jeans, sensible shoes, sweater set, fanny pack and helmet hair/mall bangs ready to go.  I plan to pre-function with a couple of glasses of a good chardonnay and I’m hoping to get into something the youngsters call a “mosh pit” and see what that’s all about.   The kids have already told me that they won’t stand anywhere near me because they know I’m going to sing along, loudly.  Why wouldn’t I?  I know all the lyrics!

I can go from the grocery store to the concert, so versatile!

Florence, ready or not, here I come!

Teenage Survivor

You’d think that with twenty-five years experience raising children; the last one would be easy.  Not the case.  The problem with having a thirteen year old when you’re in your fifties is that while they’re gaining strength and knowledge and energy, you are losing yours.  Let’s face it, he gets pretty much whatever he wants, whenever he wants it.  We’ve lost our mojo…I guess we used it up on the other kids. We have figured out at this point that it pays dividends to keep him busy just about every minute after school and on weekends, encourage him with his grades, make quality time for his homework…blah, blah, blah. It’s just so been there, done that…for the 4th time…

I confess, I’m going to have to be dragged to the finish line for this one…here are just a few reasons why…

Driving…really?  I’ve got 3 more looong years to wait.  Why does he have to have any friends?  That means I have to stay up past my 8pm bedtime to go pick him up!  Can’t he have some compassion for me?

Go get me some milk at the store, and try not to drive like Ryan Gosling in the movie Drive...although, that would be really cool!

Cooking…really?  We can’t just go out for a glass of wine and a piece of cheese for dinner like everyone else my age is doing?  Why does he have to still be growing and requiring nutritional meals of vast quantity?  How inconsiderate!

Wasn't that a delicious dinner darling? I do love a nice gouda with a fruity Pinot Noir! Isn't it great to be grown-ups!

School Work…really?  I still have to point out why getting an A is worth the time and effort?  It’s not that hard for God’s sake!  How many times do I have to repeat the FOIL concept in my lifetime?

“Values”…really?  OK, here it is for the 400th time…behave, don’t drink, don’t do drugs, stay in school.  Done!

Puberty…really?  Again? I want a turn at being hormonal…I WANT MY TURN!!!

I’m noticing how little in common I have with my friends now.  They have sent their last one off to college. while I’m sending my last one off to high school.  They have the time to go exploring the Galapagos Islands, skiing in France, golfing in Scotland, sleeping in, downsizing to a cute condo on the beach, strolling aimlessly arm-in-arm for the day, wherever they happen to be.  They can have 8 almonds, a piece of coconut cake and 2 glasses of Pinot for dinner at 5 o’ clock.  They can watch a subtitled movie on a Saturday afternoon or take a nap or have the TV clicker right where they left it.

A girl can dream...

I guess we’ll have to be content with a chatty, funny, thirteen year old.  We’re going to have to tolerate Jalapeno Pringles, “pwning the noobs”, paper towel holders as rocket launchers, gun noises, trying to understand why a “killtacular” is such an achievement, golf tournaments in god-forsaken places, LOUD rap music, nightly wrestlemania (usually right at my bedtime and occasionally ending with someone getting a bloody nose), being the only Mom (amongst a bunch of teenage boys skipping school) waiting in line at Best Buy to get the latest copy of Call of Duty, vats of Mac and Cheese, Cheetos, root beer, beef jerky, hair gel, snarky t-shirts, piles of stinky shoes and Legos everywhere.

He's developing hand-eye coordination...or so he says. Can anyone tell me what a "Killtastrophe" is?

Fingers crossed…

Safe At Home

My husband and I have the pleasure and sometimes the pain of having two adult children living with us.  They are pretty much grown-ups.  They have college degrees, real jobs (even benefits and a 401K) and a credit card.  They wear suits and can discuss in detail subjects such as:  IPOs; what an S-1 is; say things like “we are somewhat risk adverse with that particular client”; understand top line profits and have taken quite an interest in the European debt crisis.  They could try to explain all these things and more to me in English, Spanish and Chinese and add a power point presentation, if needed.   They are fun to have around.  Dinner conversation is more interesting, a trip to Costco makes more sense and they can pick up bread at the store if I forgot.  Aside from the fact that they can’t quite afford to move out yet, they are the model of maturity.

For some reason, despite their demonstrated abilities to be grown-ups, I can’t seem to stop myself from getting caught up in that completely lose-lose area of trying to parent these twenty-somethings. Now that I get to see their personal habits and lives up close, I see so many ways that I can help them improve themselves.  There is just so much they don’t know!  Managing their health, navigating the workplace, fashion, fitness, dating, personal hygiene, driving, car maintenance, finance, the 5 year plan.  You name it, I have advice for it.  I either read about it, saw it on the Today show, got a mass email about it or even had personal experience.  Therefore, I’m confident that I know SO much more than they do that I’m quite qualified to be involved all levels.

You don't need him, you have me: a live-in know-it-all!

Most of the time, I remind myself of the “lose-lose” element to parental advice and manage to keep my mouth shut about it all.  That doesn’t mean that worried thoughts don’t follow me around.  Things like whether they’re going to get up for work on time, eat a good breakfast, cut themselves with the bagel knife, leave the stove on, get in an accident on the freeway, get lost, get carjacked, get road raged, run out of gas at night in Compton, lose their cell phones, get a poor work review, pay the credit card bill on time, walk alone in a dark parking lot, drink too much, date a jerk, don’t have any dates, get a flu shot (I mean it, Ben!), skin cancer, identity theft, washing their hands before eating, Hepatitis A, bird flu, earthquakes, tape worms, nuclear fallout from Japan, e-coli, tsunami(s), salmonella, bed bugs, aspartame, tuberculosis exposure, Ragnarok, terrorist attack and hantavirus.  Wait, I almost forgot about hearing loss from loud music, polar ice cap melting and mosquito-borne diseases!

Don't worry, I've got this covered for you too.

That is just a regular Tuesday for me.  It’s even worse if they’re out for the night, as I can’t quite get to sleep until they get home.  Unless it’s after 8pm, then I’m already asleep.

I’m exhausted and I’m pretty sure this is making me age prematurely.  I want my days of ignorance and denial back.  Some of this is sort of like watching how sausage is made; you’re way better off NOT knowing.   Catching up once a week over a steak and a nice bottle of wine and getting the glossed over highlights sounds lovely about now.   Maybe, I’ll be the one to move out…just to give my mind a little rest.

I almost forgot; I have to worry about tornadoes and dust mites too!

My Afternoon With Chelsea

My younger sister Susan has a very generous friend with a plane.  That plane came to L.A. recently, carrying Susan and her closest friends to celebrate her 50th birthday in high style.  Why L.A.?  A date with Susan’s favorite comedian, Chelsea Handler, and a taping of the Chelsea Lately Show.

She included me in the plans, as I live nearby and wanted to help her celebrate her big day.  A major concern about inviting me was the dress code for getting into the Chelsea taping.  Apparently, you”re supposed to look “cool”  in order meet the show’s hip and groovy audience standard.  Susie has seen me (apparently way too often) in my variation on a theme outfit:  a black track suit and tennis shoes.  Being quite the fashionista, she knew she had lots of work to do to get me to that “cool” level.  It started with subtle hints via email; a lot of them.  The word COOL was capitalized and underlined.  She called me more than usual, allegedly to ask how the week was going, but veered pretty quickly to an interrogation on whether I had planned an outfit yet.   She had several suggestions, most of them meant I had to do some serious shopping and I just didn’t have time nor the capability to find the right thing.  I pulled together the “coolest” pieces (that weren’t sweat suitish) from what I already had, took a deep breath and hit the road.

I met her very fun friends and realized pretty quickly that I didn’t quite get as close to “hot” as they did.  Susan and her friends were making the most of a three day party and they were going to wait to sleep until the plane ride home.  These Moms were gettin’ down and everyone had better get the hell out of the way!  I could tell pretty quickly that they were having the BEST TIME EVER!

Off we went to lunch at a very trendy restaurant.  Screwdrivers, mojitos and a few salads later, we were pre-functioned enough to go to the taping.

We lined up to get through security (which put the TSA to shame).  Chelsea must have some stalker fans or be a frequent Al Qaeda target, because it was just short of a strip search to get in the door.  We all made it in and were seated in the front row center.  I was feeling a little bit smug about my head to toe coverage outfit because the studio was about 55 degrees.  Thank God the warm-up comedian made us clap and laugh at absolutely everything, it helped to keep us warm.  Literally.

We were 10 feet away, for real! Clapping and laughing our asses off, hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.

The show begins, the round table comedians come out, Chuy arrives and Chelsea seems to appear out of nowhere.  She hits her marks, reads from the teleprompter, interviews Leann Rimes (wearing the smallest outfit ever…we were just waiting for her boob or her peekachoo to hang out), gives the promo for E News and vanishes.  At this point, I’m exhausted from the hard work of being an audience member.  All that clapping!  All that forced laughter!  All that trying to maintain body temperature!

Afterwards, we met in the bar of the fancy hotel the group was staying in.   It was a great spot to chat about the show.  Susan was thrilled to have seen Chelsea, and we all agreed that it was an unforgettable afternoon.  I soon head for home, as the ladies are getting fired up for phase 3 of their plans for the evening…something about dinner, more drinks and dancing.  They invited me, but it was way past my old lady bedtime to even consider.

The show aired the next night and I gathered the family to watch, as I thought that maybe there could be a glimpse of me somewhere during the program.  Jeff is the first to point me out  “Hey Babe, there you are!  I’d recognize the back of that big noggin just about anywhere”!  The whole family clapped and congratulated me!  I have to admit, it was pretty exciting to see the back of my head on T.V.!  Now, Susan and I have an awesome memento of her birthday.  The view of the back of our heads, side by side.  Mine quite large and brunette;  hers, normal size, cute and blonde, kind of like when we were kids.  A beautiful sister moment…if you look closely enough.

Can you find us? It's like the "Where's Waldo" of the back of our heads...

Drive Time

I spend a great deal of time driving my 13 year old around.  He’s a lovely boy in general and good company, most of the time.   When we ride, he’s the D.J. and has a lot of radio stations to choose from here in L.A.  Somehow, we happen to end up listening to rap and hip-hop.  Somehow, he happens to know all the words.

I’m trying to figure out how this lily white suburban golfer boy knows everything from Lil’ Wayne to Snoop to Kanye to Jay-Z.  Being the courteous boy that he is, he skips the f-bombs in the songs, but other than that, he’s got all of it down…including the hand gestures.  I guess I should start to pay a little more attention to what he’s doing, because I really don’t know how he found the time to listen to all this music.  I guess my 8:00 bedtime isn’t working out as well as I thought.

How did Vanilla Ice end up in my car?

I know that I should be a little disturbed by the fact that we listen to pretty aggressive music where the theme seems to be getting it on in a club with an apple bottom jean ho with boots with the fur, but there is something really entertaining about Conrad singing along to Kanye and Jay-Z (What she order?/Fish fillet?)  like he’s channeling their vibe in his collared, tucked-in shirt.  Cranking up LMFAO’s  “I’m Sexy and I Know It” might not be really appropriate when I’m dropping him off at golf practice, but I’m going to go with the idea that he doesn’t know what all the words mean…fingers crossed…

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