Today is my son’s 7th birthday.
When he was born I made a pledge to write everything down – I didn’t. Next I swore I’d write him a letter every year on his birthday – I wrote two.
Last year, when I lost my job and my son asked me what job I wanted, I told him I wanted to be a writer. “You’re a great writer,” he reassured me, encouraged me, and believed me when I didn’t believe myself.
This year I owe him a letter. (I stepped up my game with a bonus Avatar - very Mommy 2.0).
He is all parts my medicine, my cheerleader, my heart in the beating world.
I think back to my 45-hour labor and snicker at how easy that was compared to the rest of it. Confined to a hospital with doctors telling me what to do during every step of bringing him into the world, they abandoned me the minute he popped out.
Some say I’m a natural—but I doubt, I struggle, I fear, I get tired, I feel guilty. I am a mother.
I was never a baby person – or a kid person. I didn’t even like kids when I was a kid. I preferred to play with the adults. Lucky for me, my kid was born an old soul.
I single-handedly put on a three-ring circus for him in hopes of eliciting a smirk. On his first birthday my sister engaged him in a 45-minute game of peek-a-boo because he was laughing so hard, we were like drug addicts with that laugh. I wanted to turn it into an mp3 and put it on repeat. The sound still fuels like no other.
All the mother clichés come into focus when you join the motherhood club. You start spewing the phrases without ever truly learning the language – the mommyisms, they find you.
Things our mothers tell us stick with us at different times for different reasons. I never know which tidbits of wisdom my son will hold onto or which he’ll ignore. He’ll forget all the nights I stayed up with him but he’ll never let forget the time I said my grandmother’s building smelled like piss. When I come home I have to make him dinner so that makes me less fun – I’m not playing with him.
There are the standards like, “Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way” or “Brush your teeth, go to bed, get dressed, hurry up, slow down, no, because I said so.”
Then there are the special gems hidden inside each family. My mother had some winners. Not all of them translate from Russian very well, but they certainly add to the humor (or wisdom?).
Here are some of my mother’s mama-isms:
On jewelry: “Anklets are worn only by prostitutes.”
On life: “If you laugh a lot now, you’ll be crying later.”
On relationships: “If there are more tears than laughter, it’s time to go.”
On men: “If a man is a little bit better looking than a monkey, then that’s good already.”
On skinny girls: “No tits, no pussy, and her ass is a fist.”
On motherhood: “When you fall down, or cry out, you always cry, mommy.”
I laugh often, cry often and have still never worn an anklet.
Mistake number one was telling anyone at my new job about my blog.
Good decision number one was making a rule that no one at my new job becomes my Facebook friend.
Social networking policies ... we all have to create them for ourselves. Rules to live by in our fake little online worlds.
I wrote something that I thought came out awesome, but it's about my new job. Some of it is harsh, some is funny, maybe it's poignant. I was feeling it so I wrote it but then was advised not to release it into the world. Boo!
So the piece sits ... somewhere on the Great World Wide Web I weave ...
I hope one day I feel liberated to publish here. In the meantime, anyone who wants to read some of the reasons I tweet what I do ... email me.
Yesterday I posted what I've titled MEETING POETRY. Here is yet another meeting, same speaker.
Meeting Poetry III
It’s just my reality…
Did anything pop out?
What do you mean when you say we lost them?
What are you commenting on?
Where are you?
How do you clean a list?
I’m gonna assume that…
It used to be ok
I remember when…
Wait. Stop. Can I ask you a question?
No, forget it. I’m confident I know the answer.
Where is it?
Where on the page?
Where on the website?
I get it.
Make one decision to get the rocket off the group.
Can I just say this?
How much money I made just doing shit!
Just do it.
Just set a rule.
Did you get that?
Know to look at the numbers.
Don’t just look at the numbers – look at the business.
We did not make a plan.
It was my fault.
I made a total fuck up.
I learned my lesson.
(I haven’t said this for 2 days.)
And as usual, I’m just looking at the numbers.
This just doesn’t make sense to me.
I just don’t get this.
Can you slow down for two seconds?
Can I just understand?
I want to try to understand!
Could you just let me talk?
Just hear me out.
That’s the point!
What’s the point?
Do not overly analyze
Keep it stupidly simple
I’m gut checking
I get it.
I’m so confused right now.
Can you just give me the numbers?!
Just bare with my stupidity
I’m keeping this stupidly simple.
Up, down, or flat.
I'm not this extreme ... but I could be. This is pretty dead-on, but ironically a little 'pot calling the kettle black' since it was broadcast around the new media world.
Standing out in the online community is like walking into a room filled with total darkness. Being pretty is no longer an advantage. You need to think about ways to stand out from the crowd. How can I be remembered? How can I leave a mark?
Marketing yourself online is just like any marketing. While it is not an exact science, I do think it's based on biology and logic. It's about telling people what they want to hear or what they like to hear. Instinctively we want to believe – there’s a reason why our brains respond to shiny, happy things. We like pretty because we’re programmed that way.
Networking online has can be like mushroom spores spreading through the hyper cyber [mysterious] space. The same rules exist – be in lots of places and talk to lots of people. Be consistent – it’s the basis for any brand success. Say interesting things or funny things or even controversial things and people will want to hear more. It’s not entirely if you build it, they will come; but it is if you build it and tell everyone about it, they will come.
The Internet has allowed anyone to become a marketing genius. No need to shell out the big bucks for newspaper ads or billboards or TV commercials when you can market to millions with a few clicks.
“Daddy, wait for me,” she half-pleaded, half-squealed. She was about three, going on six. Long brown springy curls bounced behind her as she struggled to keep up with her father, five feet in front of her. Her pink coat was wide open and she was tussling with the lid to a bottled beverage. In her small hands, the glass bottle seemed gargantuan.
Her father, too small for the oversized dog he was walking, was struggling just the same. He was playing tug-a-rope with that monster dog’s leash while the dog was tempted by dozens of happy squirrels at sunset in Central Park. He tried to turn his head to watch his daughter, but every time he turned back, the dog tugged and the father was yanked forward.
“Daddy, wait,” she’d start and he’d turn back and then the squirrel-induced dog tug and then he gets tugged forward.
It was a live video stuck on repeat.
I subscribe to Real Simple in part because I think it's a good bathroom read, but mostly because I adore the paper art genius of Matthew Sporzynski. (I'd link to his page but this Go-to-Google-Gal could not find one devoted specifically to his brilliant creations. Matthew - if you read this, please create a Gallery!)
Incidentally I think Real Simple should have a gallery on their site as well since I'm certain it would draw a substantial new audience -- artistic cooks, cleaners, organizers. Artists would love their New Uses For Old Things; they just need a different kind of hook.
Here is a post of Matthew's creative mastery behind the scenes and here is just a sample of his awesomeness:
I always have a pen and in order to maintain my sanity during meetings, I write down phrases uttered. This was all one person's dialog during a one-hour meeting. Contradictory? Check. Condescending? Check. Absolutely clueless that this is what she projects? CHECK!
Meeting Poetry II
We are in a bubble
We are hovering
that’s what we're doing.
We're that close -
every little thing counts.
Go for it!
But always check it.
Stick with the plan
What we did last time didn't work
Don't cannibalize our core business
I don't want to have this conversation again
I'm going to get tired of this real fast
We spent 45 minutes dealing with this
I don't remember the details
Go figure out what we decided to do
and do it forever more.
Let’s do this without a conversation
I want to see the plan.
I'm really annoyed right now.
A mistake was made We caught it
That's not true
This is an acquisition moment.
Get new eyeballs to get flat.
Get new people.
Let’s pretend that we have 4 million people in our network
Direct your energies to tweaking.
It's a catch 22.
I'm sorry to disagree with you,
I agree with you,
Was this what I approved last time?
Be aware of it!
So much risk involved in the one day.
Why? Why? Why?
I'm not asking why?
What can we do to change it?
We have an opportunity...
I'm gonna spend a fuck-load of money
I better see a fuck-load of shit
We have done shit - literally.
Oh my god, if I don’t get this information, I'm going to die.
I feel like I’m regressing. This past weekend I spent playing Dance Dance Revolution for Wii. Last year’s kick was Guitar Hero. I spend unforgivable hours on social networking sites fake interacting, creating a micro-spec on a microcosm that is something much bigger than I will probably ever understand. But I’m there. Playing with the others. Sometimes I think I’d list the same hobbies du jour as a teenage boy.
But reality is we all need to play; we need an excuse to tap our inner child. Stare at arrows flying up a TV screen as you dance around a plastic mat; strum a plastic guitar to heavy metal; or spend too many clicks on texts, chats, twitters, top 25 about you, top 3 pet peeves, create your random rock album, what city are you meant to live in, what sex and the city character are you, what is your name and what does it all mean for how to get a new job?
We’re social beings and we want noting more than to chat with our friends and play. We want to revert to an easier time; when fun was an expectation, not a privilege. We’re bringing back the play module into our lives.
Gaming systems are no longer geared solely for the gaming niche (you know who you are); it’s targeted towards hip adults. Like me – and you. All of us want to be young. Younger is cooler, hipper, sexier, more alive. It’s playing right into our biological drives.
The economy and all the other stuff associated with it sucks and everyone is in a bad mood. There is sadness in the air. The streets are emptier, faces are grayer, the energy is different in New York; it’s like someone turned the volume down.
New York has always been a city about dreams, passions, pursuits, about the drive for more. Now it seems attitudes are more acquiescing; we went from aggressive to passive.
It seems people take less for granted but are just as resentful. Those that don’t have jobs are resentful of the ones that have them and those that have them have to suck it up no matter how bad the jobs are because they’re lucky just to have a job.
But tomorrow is another day and it will get better – or it won’t. But eventually it will – because it always does. In the meantime, game on!
A few months (or was it years) after we were dating, my boyfriend developed a very welcome habit of leaving me voicemails at work that entertained everyone when I would play them on speaker.
Today I found a treasure trove of comedy in some very old archives.
This is a series of 3 messages from Ralph Azuli from the Police Benevolent Association calling for Trixie (aka Sweet Cheaks). Ironically, this message found me right in time for St. Patrick's Day!
Thank you, as always, for the laughter!
Paper cups of coffee,
clear cups of water,
plastic cutlery in a glass jar,
rubber coasters in an iron caddy,
white walls, hard table, metal chairs.
electronic communications to help us
talk to each other
in this box.
No time for me to speak -- but
she keeps on talking.
She tries to teach the world.
She wants to listen but doesn't hear.
It's hers, I think.
She's allowed, I think.
I bite my tongue. I purse my lips.
I take a deep breath.
I take a sip of water.
His striped pink shirt and cuff links are abrasive
but go well with
his hair slicked back.
She rolls her eyes.
He giggles behind the notebook.
Remember the day when you reunited with an old friend and you picked up the phone, had a 3-hour conversation and hung up the phone? Or how about when you were getting set up on a date and you “got someone’s number?” You’d dread it, plan it out, call, chat for whatever chemistry deemed the right amount of time, and then HUNG UP.
But how do you hang up in an email? When do you end the email chain and cut it off?
On email, if you don't write back, it's like you're left hanging. You start out with the major email – and then it dwindles down. Back and forth with fewer and fewer words. Like pauses in the conversations. You’re wrapping it up. Eventually you have fewer and fewer words and you exchange emails with two words. See you soon … Great Catching up … Keep in Touch. Don’t be a stranger…
There's no official hang up on email.
Facebook offers another opportunity for inappropriate over communication. People have entire strings of conversations all over each other’s walls. Whenever a person looks at that person’s wall all they see is a string of a one-way conversation. If you’re not friends with the other person, you’ll never hear the other side.
Corporate America spends countless hours communicating through the keyboard. Screaming out to cyberspace to satisfy our need for social interaction. We’re dynamic social beings who have been thrust into cubes. One step forward for technology, one step backwards for human relations.
I'm officially hanging up.
A friend of mine tagged me in a note on Facebook. She conducted an interview with her 7-year-old son and suggested I do the same.
I did – but my experiment evolved…
My sister was hanging out with us when I was conducting the interview with my son -- and she wanted to give her answers. So I documented those. Then I thought it would be funny to read the two together. So I did - to my boyfriend over the phone. Well, then he wanted in on the action… Finally - I added my yellow italics.
So without further ado - here's how they know me.
I present: Who’s Mommy? by Son, Sister Boyfriend
Son's answers are in blue, sister's in pink, boyfriend's in green.
My comments (because I like to get the last word) are in red italics.
(PS: Enjoy the rainbow of Me...)
1. What is something mom always says to you?
Hold the phone up to your mouth.
I love you … and Stop Yelling!
Yes the irony is apparent and yes I love to hear myself talk loudest.
2. What makes mom happy?
Peace - and all of the above.
3. What makes mom sad?
I have no idea.
Too many things.
Proud yet mystified how son somehow doesn't hear the complaining ...
4. How does your mom make you laugh?
She goes, Boo!
She pees in her pants.
She points out that we’re surrounded by totally insane people.
5. What was your mom like as a child?
I don’t know.
Mini version of her current self – cute and smart.
A grown up.
6. How old is your mom?
Younger than she thinks.
7. How tall is your mom?
Shorter than me.
A head shorter than me.
8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Her new favorite thing to do is play the Dance game on Wii.
Be in love.
9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Mostly if BF is here – do stuff with him.
Dance dance and Twitter.
Hangs with Jake.
When does that happen?
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Best Guitar Hero Player.
Writer. A Paperback writer.
11. What is your mom really good at?
Creating goody bags.
Writing, being a mom, communicating, being a cheerleader and loving me.
Clearly my son had Wii on the brain...or was that me?
12. What is your mom not very good at?
Knowing what she’s good at.
13. What does your mom do for her job?
Get tickets to shows.
Go to meetings.
Suck it up.
14. What is your mom's favorite food?
15. What makes you proud of your mom?
When she thinks she’s as good as she really is…
She’s a good mom.
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
I took 3 online quizzes and got Chilly Willy, Bugs Bunny and Tweet Bird.
17. What do you and your mom do together?
Go out in the park.
See the world.
18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both look alike.
Cut from the same fabric.
Creative spirits and old souls.
19. How are you and your mom different?
She’s a girl, I’m a boy.
She’s Type A and I’m Type Z.
20. How do you know your mom loves you?
I just do; she wished for me, so she has to.
From one look in her eyes.
21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
All of the above.
Until recently, my sister was a server at a high-end restaurant on the Upper East Side. On an evening when a new haircut made me feel fancy, I decided to capitalize on my food connection and dine like [family] royalty at The Restaurant.
When I enter, the tag team of overdressed Host and under-aged Manager greets me. Both click on their smiles and direct me to the Apparel Attendant who offers to take my outer garment. I decline. “I get cold,” I justify.
“Table for one?” I nod.
The Host escorts me to a mirror-backed booth in the rear of the dining room. The table is dressed for six. Within minutes one busboy comes to clear away the extra glassware, silverware, dishes, linens. Someone else brings me a basket of two types of breads and a butter patty squirted out cake-decorating style into a ramekin. Another man fills my crystal water glass from a silver carafe. My server gives me a wine menu and a regular menu.
Everything seems to happen behind a veil of pretension like a ritual dance you engage in when dining in this establishment.
Muted shades of conservative surround me – cream, beige, taupe, with an occasional brown pinstripe on a seat cushion. It’s a mosaic of sounds where the music blends in with the voices; where the forks play with the plates.
The servers wear a traditional uniform of black pants and white button-down shirts. They smile with their teeth, but hold back a sort of putrid green bitterness, anger, frustration, angst. Or something like that.
Tonight I dine as one of them – white linen at the base of it all. They bring me lobster spring rolls and elaborate sushi; the Prosecco was being filled from an open tap. I was getting drunk on my surround as I scribbled by the flicker of votive candles.
There were stories everywhere – I was on sensory overload. Delicious ear candy like all the TV stations on at once – drama to the left, soap opera to the right – real life Dirty Sexy Money all around you.
Some slut sits bored, resting her pointy chin on her fist; her perfectly highlighted hair falls like curtains around her face. Pouty, her aura shouts, "It’s never enough" – but it’s not for lack of trying. Her lips are collagened, her forehead botoxed, her tits perfect. At one point she looks like she may be smiling, but I can’t tell; her emotions are too frozen in plastic.
A group of six. Suits, diamonds and pashminas; all seemingly fashion forward but soul dead. Two are the life of the party, the remainders become the audience. Shoveling food, drinking, inserting the mandatory chuckle. It’s a record stuck on repeat: chug the wine, take a bite, awkward pause, fake laugh. Pass the wine. Check the wine holder. Pour out the remaining drops. Repeat. Classy folks in a classy joint drinking their classy alcohol and acting like drunken Asses.
People who get drunk on wine act like their inebriation is superior to yours. They hold fancier glasses and swirl their drinks around; they like to romance their drug, get to know their elixir before it transforms them.
They order the chocolate fondue for the table.
“Oh I can’t I’m too fat. Oh OK, I’ll have a tiny bite.”
The dessert comes and they devour it. Who will have the last marshmallow?
“Oh I can’t eat another bite. Pass the sherry.”
Cliché: envisioned and enacted all in one take.
One of the waitresses is giving her nightly performance to a group of four 50-somethings. Her voice gradually gets louder and higher pitched and she slows down, as if she’s speaking to foreigners or preschoolers. Her wine description is like a Saturday Night Live commercial – I can’t tell if she’s showing off or justifying her knowledge. They expect it of her; she hopes she will get rewarded.
“We’ll take the $125 bottle.” They ordered it by price, not by grape.
When the waitress comes back to check in, her voice reaches into another octave. “Is everything tasting delicious over here?” Like puppies slurping their wine up, the foursome nods their heads in unison.
There are rich people of all flavors, shapes and sizes. Some spread their money like peacock feathers, while others play Monopoly bankers with virtual spreadsheets tallying who owes what. They pay with green paper and colorful plastic; the most elite throw down the black AmEx (minimum annual spend of $250K).
I’m not sure how many couples, besides the one next to me, are here as part of an affair rendezvous. He keeps throwing around the phrases “your husband, can’t, isn’t, won’t…” With each ‘your husband,’ he moves his hand up her thigh. Within minutes his face is buried in her neck; his hand, hidden up her skirt.
The Mr. Affair in his early 50’s; Miss Affair, in her early 20s. He’s a mix of Joeys: Buttafuco and Soprano. He wears a black tracksuit jacket with black baggy pants I’d call trousers. He belongs in Z. Cavariccis. (I should know – I spent my junior and high school years in Staten Island.) A thick leather strapped gold-faced timepiece adorns his arm. Italian footwear cushions his steps like the Natuzzi couch he has at home cushions his ass.
Bimbette Soprano is platinum blonde with a fur-collared Shearling she refused to check. She sits with her arms crossed the entire time eating nothing and pouting with Pellegrino. Clearly she’s pissed off. She finally unfurls her arms just to stroke her mane. She fluffs the teased hair, rolls her eyes and crosses her arms again. I hear her heavy Brooklyn accent in the most annoyed tone. He slurps down a plate of raw oysters in between spewing bites of bullshit. I could tell it was bullshit because of how much he needed to reinforce his point by putting his hands on her shoulder and waving them around in a symphonic nature; the appendages functioning as exclamation points. He gets a second huge plate of rawness and orders his fifth martini. At this point she gives in and orders a nonfat cappuccino.
I overhear a waitress near the computer ordering system talking about a caviar order. I follow her eyes to see what the big spender looks like. It’s a date. He’s trying to impress her apparently. There’s an overpriced bottle of Champagne in the silver holder beside their table. They nuzzle their fakeness and sip their amber bubbly waiting for their fish eggs to arrive on ice.
Mr. Trying-to-Impress his date with raw fish eggs and caviar has broken out the iPhone to take her on a personal tour through technological boredom. She pretends she’s interested by tossing her hair back and giggling every few minutes. Oh the predictable mating habits of the unmarried Manhattan lady. The iPone light casts a bluish light over her face, and conflicts with the yellow candlelight. iPhone + candle = green light over her clueless face.
The waitress is back in her face and removes the half-finished caviar. As a Russian girl who understands the virtue of fish eggs, I was appalled. Here she was – an Upper East Side Miss whose sole goal was to become an Upper East Side Mrs. She sits there with her Jennifer Aniston hair, her French manicured nails and her fabulous spray tan. Yet she has no clue that she just dismissed deliciousness.
To Mr. Trying-to-Impress the server asks, “Any dessert over here?”
“Do you have sorbet?” he asks. She chimes in, “Is there more than one flavor?”
The server rattles off half a dozen options. They order a lemon sorbet. Adventurous.
“Oh, just one portion for the two of you?” she confirms.
“Oh we couldn’t eat another bite,” the future Mrs. chimes in.
They’re full from their Champagne wishes and caviar dreams? She sees a Vera Wang dress in her future, he sees a trophy wife. It’s what we call a win-win situation on the Upper East Side.
A couple whose hands tell me they’re husband and wife are quietly arguing. There is no bodily contact, there are awkward silences, and there are too many glances around the room. They sip their wine quietly and sigh loudly. They’re young, they’re beautiful and you can see that happy is at the horizon they’ve already passed.
She looks at her Cartier watch and he takes the opportunity to look over his shoulder. She decides it’s time to go. She fixes her lipstick, tucks the hair behind her ears, and carefully adjusts her scarf in this year’s fashion-forward way. She takes off 10 feet in front of him. He follows, but not before taking one last look over his shoulder at what he’s missing.
Inside the restaurant they hide from the outside world – and from themselves. Synchronized, they all look at their watches on cue like cuckoos – “What time is it? Oh my, where did the time go? It’s getting late.” It’s like someone pulled the string on their back and they got the 10 pm message.
The servers pack up; all dawned in black coats, they gather at the bar. Some make plans to grab a drink or share a cab to Queens. A group of three wait to settle their money and be dismissed. All have a sense of bitterness – at the richer-than-thou attitude that surrounds them. They go back into the world with an anger destined for servers; their fate sealed in the perpetual battle of the server versus the served.
My six-year-old wrote this in school (in perfect handwriting, no less!) Yes, he has a blog. No, I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Social Networking: Kids.1.0
Tear. Smile. Love.
What makes my world wonderful? I will tell you …
Although I’m allergic to dogs, I still love them.
School makes me smart every single day.
Playing with Legos makes me feel like an expert.
I like fish because I know how much to feed them.
I love my world!
Tonight we went to see John Leguizamo's Work in Progress at the Barrow Street Theatre.
I love John Leguizamo -- particularly thought he was brilliant in his two autobiographical Broadway stints, Freak and Sexaholix. Tonight I saw him testing out his new work in a tiny all black theatre filled with 80 die-hard fans. He wore sweat pants and he was perfect.
He entered in typical outlandish dancing fashion and comfortably stood behind a simple podium with a black fold out chair and a small silver table for his bottle of beer. There was a laptop computer that was plugged into a simple photo slideshow on a screen behind him. He told us about his career as an actor -- about the stories that shaped the life that now defines him. About the experiences that created the actor he has become. The show was supposed to be an hour; it lasted two.
One lady dared to get up to go to the bathroom (?) during his show. This was a theatre of only 6 rows so she walked right past John on her way out. He yelled at her for not being able to hold it. "Actors have to stand her on stage for two hours. We have to hold it. You can't sit there and hold it?" He escorted her out and closed the door behind her and yelled to the production manager to lock her out and not let her back in.
The whole audience cracked up.
John was entertaining, honest, vulnerable and inspiring. He ended the show telling all the artists out there (especially actors) -- that if we don't like what's out there; if it doesn't fit what we want to do -- then it's our job to create it for ourselves.
I love a man who practices what he preaches.
P.S. This is my last blog entry in my month-long NaBloPo challenge. I chose February, the easiest month with only 28 days. I did OK, I think. I posted everyday, if not always something brilliant. Sometimes images reigned supreme over words. I committed and I did it. Small steps. Yay me!