Yesterday was one of those days. I had to dash to a meeting immediately after a conference call (which meant I needed to wear grown-up clothes, make-up and — UGH! proper women’s shoes). On top of that, my daughter needed me to pick her up an hour early and then went to school without her phone — which meant that I would have no way to communicate with her if I was running late.
And to add some icing to my very busy cake: I suspected that my site had been hacked.
I subscribe to my own RSS feed so I can see how it looks in Feedblitz. Over the weekend, I started receiving emails addressed to “Sexy Beast”… from “Sexy Beast.” This had been going on for three days and it was finally starting to bug me.
So I took an hour off from what I was supposed to be doing yesterday to see what I could learn about viruses that affect RSS feeds and Feedblitz. (I could not find anything).
I searched on the term “Sexy Beast.” (I got a lot of hits on that, just nothing relevant).
I visited Sucuri and scanned the site for malware (there are none — knock on wood).
If I hadn’t needed to leave the house I probably would have spent the entire day looking for the source of my weird “Sexy Beast” emails, because I get a little bit obsessive when something’s not right. And these emails did not feel right.
My afternoon meeting ended just in time to get to the school at 4:00. My daughter climbed in the car, and since she did not have her phone, she decided to play with mine.
Remember that as a T-Mobile customer, I was locked out of iPhone ownership until about six months ago. And ever since I got one, my daughter’s favorite thing has been conversing with Siri in an effort to make her say something silly.
“Hello, Siri,” she said.
“Hello, Sexy Beast.”
Ohhhhhhhhh. I forgot that Megan had instructed Siri to call me that. This reminded me of my hacking problem and put me in a foul mood.
“Tell her to just call me Donna,” I said sharply.
“Just call me Donna,” Megan instructed Siri.
“You would like me to call you Donna Just Call Me Donna,” Siri replied.
“Nooooooo. Call me Donna,” Megan said.
“OK Donna Just Call Me Donna. I will call Donna,” Siri replied.
“No! Stop! Don’t Call! Just Stop!”
I made my daughter hand me the phone.
I dropped her off at home, ran some errands, cooked dinner and finally set about writing some notes on the conference call and meeting I had participated in hours before. I was still working when I received my nightly Feedblitz subscription.
This time, it was addressed to “Donna Just Call Me Donna.”
It dawned on me that I was only seeing the weird emails on my iPad and iPhone. It was a Siri thing, related to the iOS 7 update I had done over the weekend.
I feel better. And have decided I need to come up with a new handle for Siri to call me. Something affirmative, like “You Are a Goddess.”
Because who wouldn’t want to be addressed like that every night?
I am a member of the Generation Fabulous group of midlife bloggers, which runs a monthly bloghop. This month’s topic is “Reinvention.”
English: Agraulis vanillae butterfly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My home town of Los Angeles didn’t invent the concept of reinvention, but it is probably the capital of it. For generations, my city has beckoned folks from around the world to relocate, rethink and make a new start. I don’t know if it’s California’s climate, laid back attitude or relative newness, but this place seems to be a magnet for people who know in their hearts that if they can’t make it where they are, here is where they will have a shot.
This is great for all of them – but it leaves me kind of cold. I was born here and have lived here just about all my life. Where do I go to get a fresh start?
The truth is, reinvention is not a process just for artists or hustlers, nor does it require a change in geography. All of us hit stages where the life we define for ourselves no longer fits, when we need to shed an old skin and start anew. And I think it happens more frequently for women.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot these last few months as my daughter entered 12th grade and I’ve been hit with the reality of the empty nest looming just ahead. Being a stay at home mom was never in my plan; before she was born I was confident that I would handle motherhood and career with the same competency I had always displayed in my professional life. I was wrong, and admitting that shook me to the core.
I did not reinvent myself as a full time mom – the world did that for me. I became aware of this the first time I accompanied my husband to a work event, and I got that inevitable question, “And what do YOU do?” My answer – that I was home with a toddler – stopped the conversation cold. I got the message, loud and clear: to the world at large, there is nothing interesting about being a mom. Better keep that information to yourself and let the people who matter do the talking.
Of course, the work of raising a child DOES matter, and I am immensely proud of my daughter and the fact that she is secure in the knowledge that no matter what happens, she has a mother and father who are always there to support her.
I am also proud of things I have accomplished these 15 years at home that have little to do with her, especially this little blog I started a decade ago as a creative outlet – long before anyone was using the term “social media.” It has introduced me to a world of fabulous, interesting people who are doing fabulous, interesting things. It has led me to some incredible adventures that I never imagined: including an appearance in People magazine and the opportunity to cover a Presidential convention.
As a stay at home mom, I have reinvented myself as an automotive writer, a political pundit and a podcaster. But I did not arrive at any of these reinventions with any sort of plan: they just happened.
And now, I am at a crossroads. My blogging and other ventures don’t add much to the family purse. And now that my daughter doesn’t need me to be a presence 24 hours a day, what I really need to do is get back out into the world and earn a living. The problem is, regardless of what I have done these 15 years at home, the world still sees me as “just a mom.” And a 57-year-old one, at that.
I am finding re-entry hard. And I can’t see the way to get it done.
I don’t think I need to reinvent myself. But I think we all need to reinvent the world’s idea of the vibrancy, energy, wisdom and value of women who happen to have spent several years raising a family.
We are a force. And a natural resource being wasted. And that is a shame.
Brighter offers Southern Californians a simple, free dental insurance alternative – giving you access to discount cleaning, whitening and even orthodontia. This is something you should care about, because you don’t want to turn out like me.
If you’ve read my blog for any bit of time (or just follow me on Twitter), you have probably seen me complain of being in “dental hell.” I’ve been cursed with soft enamel and a mouth that’s really good at creating mass quantities of tartar. I’ve been through so many torturous dental procedures that I’m pretty sure I could write a pretty convincing horror movie about it.
The sad thing is, much of my dental torment was self-inflicted: I once went three years without visiting the dentist. This had more to do with my fear of traffic near his downtown office than it did with his dental practice. But there was fear involved, too – a fear of starting over with some other dentist who did not know me or my history or who might inflict more pain on me than necessary.
Avoiding the dentist isn’t something anyone should do, because tooth decay isn’t something that just stops on its own. And scraping tartar off your own teeth isn’t advisable, either. Eventually, you WILL need to make the time for that dental visit and if you delay for too long, I guarantee that your experience will be WORSE. I should know: because by the time I accepted the fact that I simply needed to find a dental office close to my home, I needed a lot of new work done. A lot of expensive, somewhat painful, expensive work.
Did I mention that skipping your dental checkup can be expensive?
Here’s where Brighter comes in. Their network of certified dentists are making dental care affordable for everyone – even if you don’t currently carry dental insurance.
Their website touts low-priced check-up and cleaning services, fillings, in-office teeth whitening … and even deals on some of those tortuous services I alluded to above: Periodontal deep cleaning, root canals and crowns at the same prices you would pay with dental insurance.
Of course, if you go in for your regular affordable checkups you probably won’t need any of the scary stuff (let me tell you: “deep cleaning” is a great idea for your bathroom. NOT something you want to have to do on your teeth.)
Brighter’s pre-screened, certified dentists are committed to helping patients understand what your treatment options are and spelling out exactly what your costs would be… ultimately helping you maintain better dental health (thus avoiding the dreaded deep cleaning). And working with them is super-easy: just go to Brighter.com and enter your zip code. The website will give you a list of certified Brighter dentists in your area, along with their price for a check-up and cleaning. You can even schedule your appointment right there on the site.
What I really like about Brighter is how there are no premiums, co-pays, waiting periods, exclusions or plan maximums. Just pre-negotiated reduced rates that allow you to manage and save money on your own dental care.
If you live in Los Angeles and have been putting off a visit to the dentist, I hope you learn from MY mistakes. Make an appointment. NOW. And check out the low-cost rates at Brighter. Your mouth will thank you.
This has been one of those weeks where I’ve been afraid to read the news. Beginning with the Navy Yard shooting on Monday, it’s just been an unrelenting stream of one sad news story after another. Thank goodness we’re at the start of a new television season. I need escapist entertainment just to stay sane.
Icon of a television. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That’s why I joined my fellow TV junkie friends Elise Crane Derby and Anne Louise Bannon in creating the Agents of Zeitgeist podcast, which we do on Thursdays (one day after I host the MOMocrats political podcast). I just like having an hour where all I need to care about is what happened last night on Modern Family.
The last couple of weeks, we’ve been previewing the new television season, which I described as my own version of Christmas. Each new show is like a brightly wrapped gift which has to be experienced before I can decide whether to keep it… or return it for a replacement series. A couple of new shows debuted on Fox this week: Dads (RETURN IT NOW!) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (give it some time to see if it meets its potential).
I haven’t yet seen Sleepy Hollow, but this snarky description makes me want to find it on demand right now (they had me at Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer).
But the real action begins next week, following Sunday’s telecast of the Emmys.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting the set of the new CBS comedy, MOM, where about 30 other mom bloggers and I got to chat with stars Anna Faris, Allison Janney and Sadie Calvano and show runner Gemma Baker. I will be posting something about that meeting next week, after I’ve had a chance to transcribe the conversation. I’m actually pretty excited about this show. Despite the AP review, I have a feeling it will be a keeper.
A couple of days ago, BlogHer contributor Jane Collins wrote a piece on the upcoming season proclaiming that everything old is new again. She cited new shows starring Robin Williams and Michael J. Fox (both of which are on my list), as well as tried and true premises like cops, lawyers and this year — robots.
The thing is: There are never any truly new premises for TV dramas and comedies. Not ever. It all comes down to execution. And casting. A visitor from another planet could be My Favorite Martian in the 1960s — or Mork and Mindy in the 1970s… or Alien Nation in the 1980s. (See what I mean by execution?)
You can have a robotic child in the 1980s with Small Wonder or android cops in 2013 in Almost Human. Over the last few years here have been a zillion vampire shows, so no wonder someone’s gone to the source at NBC with Dracula.
Back in the 1980s, when I worked for producer Mort Lachman (Gimme a Break, Kate & Allie), one of my tasks would be to transcribe the pitch meetings he would have with prospective writers. The one pitch I heard over and over again was the one about the older guy and his new, young second wife. Because after all, you write what you know and Mort was taking meetings with a lot of middle-aged TV writers who were perplexed by their much younger new spouses. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.
It was done well in the 70′s with a sitcom called All’s Fair (with Richard Crenna and Bernadette Peters). And this year, we get Bradley Whitford and Malin Ackerman in Trophy Wife – the 21st century twist being the fact that she’s the guy’s THIRD wife. And the first two (plus kids) are still in the picture. All’s Fair only lasted one season. I’m hoping Trophy Wife is good enough to do better.
When I first saw billboards advertising The Goldbergs, I thought ABC had gone way, way back in history to remake one of television’s original hit comedies which had the same name. As it turns out, nobody remembers the 1950′s Goldbergs (it actually started out in 1929 on radio, which is before even my time). The new ABC series is based on producer Adam Goldberg’s family in the 1980s, which makes this Goldberg sound more like The Wonder Years — with big hair and Cosby sweaters.
I am also anticipating The Blacklist, which sounds a lot like Silence of the Lambs (except NBC already has an SoL spinoff in Hannibal). There’s no mention of fava beans or chianti in this one, so I think it might be safe for me to watch. At any rate, James Spader usually turns in a fun performance (the exception was his time at The Office. I guess there’s a reason nobody remembers any killer James Spader comedies).
Another new network show I want to see is Lucky 7, based on a British series called The Syndicate, which follows seven co-workers who win a big lottery jackpot. This also reminds me of my days working for Mort Lachman in 1985, where I spent several months typing revisions to a pilot script called “Just Plain Rich Folks” – about a family who wins the lottery. To my knowledge, that show never got made. But it does go to show you: there really is nothing new under the sun.
What new shows are YOU looking forward to? Answer in comments below.
I have been on a self-improvement kick for… well, my entire adult life. And since I hit middle age, that has meant focusing on weight control and eating a healthy diet.
Those two directives are not always the same thing. I lost 56 pounds a few years ago on an extremely restrictive diet that may actually have resulted in doing more damage to my metabolism than it was already suffering through menopause. This is hard to explain to friends who have never had to struggle with their weight, so I’ve stopped trying. I just go about my business and like any other junkie (and yes, I think my love of good food makes me an addict), I try to take it one day … one meal… and one snack at a time. That means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fewer starchy carbs and a lot more cooking from scratch.
But there are days when that isn’t possible. And that’s why I also keep a stash on hand of healthy convenience foods.
#ad The Vanilla Bean was my favorite Healthy Choice Frozen Greek Yogurt flavor. But only because I couldn’t find any of the chocolate swirl!
During our recent heat wave, I discovered the new line of Greek Frozen Yogurt from Healthy Choice. Non-fat Greek yogurt has really taken off in the last few years, undoubtedly due to its protein content and thick, rich texture — which makes you think you’re eating something a lot more indulgent. It turns out that healthy frozen Greek yogurt desserts from Healthy Choice have the same affect. I discovered that any yen I might have for ice cream could be nipped in the bud with one of these babies.
And since I have a problem with portion control (especially if I’m eating something as luscious as a frozen dessert), I appreciated the fact that Healthy Choice’s Greek Frozen Yogurt comes in perfectly apportioned 100 calorie tubs, with 4g of protein in every serving. They look really small, but they pack a big punch — I found them really filling.
#ad Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt Flavors
My favorite grocery store stocked four flavors and I tried all of them: Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry (all blended with real fruit) and my favorite – Vanilla Bean (with real flecks of vanilla bean that you can actually see). But I have a feeling I would also like the Honey and Chocolate Swirl flavors, too (the latter was the winner of Shape magazine’s 2013 Snack Awards for “Best Night Bite,” as a healthy fix for a late night craving for chocolate).
My only complaint about Healthy Choice’s Greek Frozen Yogurt is that it is packaged with just three tubs in a box. Maybe they can come out with an assortment featuring two samples of each. I would definitely be up for that.
Healthy Choice wants you to try their new line of Greek Frozen Yogurt so badly that they’ve got an online offer for you on their website, which will get you $1.00 off on the flavor of your choice. Check it out.
UPDATED 9/19 – Because it’s really hard to write a decent blog post about being a good mom on my iPad. Also, that wine I was drinking didn’t help.
Dinner for One. iPad Not Included.
What does it mean to be a good mom? That’s easy to define when they’re little. You feed them, you protect them, you play with them. You keep them clean.
It’s more complicated when they’re older.
Over the summer, my daughter bought tickets to see a concert being held tonight. Yes, it’s a Wednesday – but after three years of high school, when she assures me that she can handle it, I am willing to let her try.
The concert is in LA’s Miracle Mile district. Neither my daughter nor her friends are legally able to drive the others yet – and even if that wasn’t the case, I’m not sure I would be comfortable with it.
So tonight, for me, being a good mom means sitting alone in a nice restaurant near LACMA, enjoying a nice meal and a glass of wine.
It means trying not to stare at the large multi-generational family at the next table, even though one of the toddlers is emitting some truly spine-tingling shrieks. And I mean that literally: I felt a tremor run up my back.
It means figuring out how to kill more time after the waiter has rushed me out without offering dessert. I don’t actually need either the calories or the expense — but it would have been nice to linger a little longer. The concert started at 8:00. I have 90 minutes to go.
It means wandering around the Farmers Market and the Grove, looking for something to do that won’t cost an arm and a leg. I stopped in at Sur La Table for Nespresso capsules. I would have bought those anyway. I peeked inside Crate & Barrel and walked right back out. Too dangerous. Same thing with Nordstrom.
Last night’s full moon over The Grove.
It means glancing in the Apple Store window, only to learn that the new iPhones won’t be on display until Friday. Nothing to see here.
I toyed with the idea of catching a movie. But what if the concert gets out early? Or if my daughter just needs me? Better to skip it.
Should I get dessert at Fat Cow? Or would that just end up being my own personal self-fulfilling prophecy? I passed on it.
Being a good mom means driving around Beverly Hills and West Hollywood in search of a place near the El Rey Theater where I can sit and browse the web for a couple of hours.
I vaguely remember being out at night all the time in my 20s and 30s — before I became a mom. How did I do that then? Where did I go? And why do I get the feeling that even if those places were still around, I wouldn’t fit in?
I wonder what happened to the 24-hour coffee shop? Or permit-free street parking? There’s a NORM’s with a lot on La Cienega, north of the Beverly Center — but that’s too far.
Perhaps a hotel lobby… The SLS and Sofitel are both nearby. But there’s the parking thing again. Plus, I am in my usual jeans and t-shirt and remember the time we got turned away from the lobby of the London Ritz because we were too scruffy to enter. Better not try that.
Being a good mom last night meant inspecting the underground parking at the Ralph’s supermarket a block from the theater to see if it was safe and lit well. And if I wanted to purchase a small bag of Lindt chocolates and call it dessert while I did crossword puzzles in the car, that was OK, too.
Being a good mom meant being there to pick up her daughter and her friends and drive everyone home so they could get to bed by midnight.
Last night, my daughter thanked me and I felt good.
When it comes to this blog, there are two things I cannot resist: (1) Los Angeles events and attractions that lend themselves to photo ops and (2) photo ops with celebrities. The invitation to visit San Pedro’s annual LobsterFest at Ports O’Call Village (for a demonstration of Mohawk’s new stain resistant carpet with Hallmark Channel’s Better Show star JD Roberto) satisfied both of those irresistible urges.
Welcome to LobsterFest! #shop #LicensetoSpill #cbias
San Pedro’s Ports O’Call Village sits on a bank of the nation’s busiest cargo port. The collection of restaurants and shops has been a tourist destination for about 50 years (which sounds about right, because I remember visiting when I was a kid). Ports O’Call has been the home to LobsterFest (the world’s largest! according to their website) since 1999. The festival has something for everybody: carnival rides and games, ongoing musical performances, a wide variety of booths featuring everything from crafts to cars to (yes!) carpet… and a full lobster meal for just $20. This is the reason why my husband decided to tag along after me on Saturday. He was flabbergasted at the claim that they were cooking up 2,000 crustaceans every hour!
#shop This was the Main Attraction at LobsterFest
I happen to be allergic to lobster, so I let my husband enjoy his meal while I hunted up the Mohawk Carpet License to Spill booth. That’s where I met up with JD Roberto, who was very gracious about my desire to get that photo op.
#shop JD Roberto and me at Mohawk Carpet’s License to Spill display.
I then introduced myself to Mohawk Carpet representative Mollie Suratt, who showed me exactly how stain resistant their new SmartStrand carpet actually is. She bombarded a carpet sample with all kinds of staining agents — including red wine. And then she removed it all easily… simply by spraying it with water (for a tough, dried-in stain, all you need to add is a little dish soap).
The difference is that the stain resistance is woven right into the fiber (not topically applied, which is what you’re getting with other stain resistant flooring products) — and it lasts for the life of the carpet. I have to say — I wish I had seen this demonstration four years ago when I was shopping for carpet in my living room. (I know the retailer I used carries Mohawk – it’s the world’s largest flooring manufacturer, and this carpet has been rating #1 in consumer satisfaction.)
If SmartStrand had been available then, I could have saved a bundle in twice-yearly cleaning costs AND the carpet would be in better condition now.
#shop Samples of Mohawk’s SmartStrand Carpet
You would think that there would be fewer spills in my house now that the kid is in high school. But the drink spiller in our family is my husband. If we had Mohawk SmartStrand carpet in our house, I wouldn’t cringe every time he pours a glass of red.
But this has to be seen to be believed, so here’s the video I shot of the demo:
Want to experience Mohawk’s SmartStrand for yourself? Enter to win your own 6′x9′ SmartStrand Silk bound carpet rug.
English: NYC signing September 1, 2009 at Nintendo Store – New York City, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In which I reveal how little I know about Justin Bieber, or his mom.
We bloggers get pitches. Most are woefully untargeted (I know a PR person hasn’t bothered to read my blog when he or she sends me information on baby bottles and diaper bags). Some are wildly ridiculous (pitches for sex toys, surgery and hemorrhoid cream come to mind). And every so often, I will receive a pitch that makes me go “Wha…?” This one came in last week, and at first glance, it was appropriate: an online magazine for parents of teenagers.
I skimmed through the topics…teen tech addiction (uh — hard to judge when MOM is the one who is online 24/7)… how to help a teen who is struggling with body image (again — maybe mother needs to heal herself, too!)… tips for applying to college (Yes. There may not be any new information here, but that kind of article gets my attention.)
And then I saw this:
PARENTING A ROCK STAR; MEET JUSTIN BIEBER’S MOM, PATTIE MALLETTE
Now, since I live in Los Angeles where everyone is supposed
to be trying to get famous, I can understand why someone might think this is relevant. And I do have friends with kids who are performers, so what Pattie has to say about launching a young person’s career on YouTube might be quite instructive for them. But no — this is how the interview is described:
In a revealing one-on-one interview … Patti Mallette, the mother of America’s most famous teen, Justin Bieber, shares the hardships of her teenage pregnancy and her struggles to provide a good life for Justin as a young single mother. Still a big part of her son’s life, Mallette helps him cope with his rocket-ride to fame and has tried to surround him with the right people as much as she can. “I just pay attention to my son and deal with him on a mother/son basis… “I try not to let public opinion affect me.” That includes daily calls and texts and frequent visits, even when he’s on the road. Despite some of her son’s recent controversial behavior, Mallette says, “Justin knows what I disagree with, but he also knows why I’m so proud of him.”
Frankly, I don’t understand why media outlets offer articles like this. Child performers have very little in common with regular kids, so there is very little their parents can offer the rest of us in the way of advice. Perhaps I would feel otherwise if I was a fan of the Bieb — but I cannot identify his hits without someone telling me who it is. And I have very strong opinions about the wisdom of allowing young people to earn millions and millions of dollars. Basically, I think it’s a really bad idea.
I’m going to digress a little bit and tell you a story from my sordid past:
Back when I was working behind the scenes in television, I was a production assistant on a staff that included a young writer who was my age. We socialized outside of work. I was friends with his wife. They visited my apartment, I visited theirs. We exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts.
Then he got promoted and the socializing ended. He was now “the boss” and I suppose he needed to assert his authority and create some distance. The lunches and get-togethers outside of work ended. In fact, he would do things like invite friends of mine to have lunch with him but neglect to include me. Our conversations were now limited to what he needed from me and how quickly I could get it done. And there were one or two times when he “put me in my place” by chewing me out in front of the rest of the staff.
At the time, a successful writer I knew shared a little Hollywood wisdom with me: “When one of your friends finally ‘makes it,’ and suddenly comes into money and power, you need to give him three years to be a total asshole.”
I have no idea if this guy stopped being a jerk because I wasn’t able to stick with him longer than 18 months.
The thing is: This guy was a presumably mature adult (although there is some question about that, because maturity is not a trait that’s valued in Hollywood — people tend to go farther without it). But if you can expect the grown-ups to go a little crazy when they first get their hands on big wads of cash — how can you expect a kid to keep a level head?
The teen star gone wild is such a tried and true trope that it doesn’t surprise anyone any longer. From Drew Barrymore to Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes, the tabloids serve them up to us as entertainment, so we can go “tsk tsk” and thank the stars that our children aren’t messed up like that. So Justin Bieber has been annoying his neighbors with loud parties and fast driving in his quiet gated community? Boys will be boys. He disrespected a former President? Half the country would probably do the same (although since he’s Canadian, they might find that doubly insulting). He was two hours late for his own concert, upsetting young fans who needed to go to school the next day? They should have thought of that before they bought the tickets, right?
I’m willing to cut the kid a little slack. I hear he’s being cast as Robin in the next Batman movie. Perhaps working with professionals on a highly regimented film shoot will give him the structure he needs to get his act together. Then again, that did not work for LiLo.
Maybe that’s why Justin’s mom, Pattie Mallette, is making the rounds giving interviews. Or maybe she’s just trying to promote her own memoir. Perhaps there are people out there who will see inspiration in what she has to say.
I’m just not one of them.
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