Friday, September 28, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Before you vote...

The other day, I was walking by these 2 guys. One was saying to the other, "2008 is anyone's game" (yeah) "I'd vote for Ron Paul. I don't know anything about him, but..." By then, they were past me and I couldn't hear anymore. But...what? You think he's an interesting guy? You'd like to have a beer with him? I mean, okay, if you've picked a candidate, but don't you think you might want to know at least something about where he stands on the issues? How can you say you're going to vote for someone and then say you don't know anything about them?!? I think that's what they call putting the cart before the horse.
So before you vote, please take the time to learn a little about the candidates! I'm all for exploring candidates in all the parties, and not necessarily voting down the party line, but a little thought, a little web searching wouldn't kill you!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Anti-Marriage Blog

This article simply validates a belief I've held for a few years now.
I readily admit that my views on marriage are biased by own experiences - how could they not be? However, what really threw me personally over the edge was Bush's attempt to add discrimination into the US Constitution. Ironically, it wasn't the war that made me start paying attention to the political world again, but the marriage issue that did it for me.
This is one issue where I lean more towards the Libertarian side - I don't believe the government should be involved at all, and people should be absolutely free to join into whatever arrangements they want, so long as they are consenting adults. Should they wish to make changes along the way, and again they are mutual, then there's no need for court or government involvement unless and until there is a true legal dispute at hand.
Think of all the court's time we could free up if they only needed to interfere with those dissolutions/separations that were at dispute! My own divorce took 2 years, and we agreed on everything! (It gets more complicated when you have kids or assets.)
I also believe that marriage can be more harmful to women (this is obviously a generality - I know there are men that it harms, too) because the things that are agreed upon are not completely stated on the marriage certificate or license or in the vows, like taking on complete financial liability for all of your spouse's debts, even if you're separated and simply awaiting the divorce to become final, or the fact that you need to get your spouse's consent if you want your 401(k) contributions to go to your kids or someone other than your spouse in the event of your death, or being required to give your spouse's info (including their driving record) when applying for auto insurance even if you're not putting that spouse as a policy holder. These are just a few of my favorite things that came up in the years of marriage and separation. I think, actually, there's a legal argument to be made about how legal that document is, considering just how much isn't actually on there!
My conclusion: marriage has no business being an "institution." If you want to have the church wedding, go for it. If you want to have a private simple ceremony (and really, why? I love the fact that I have a viable reason to boycott weddings now as a political statement to stand with those who can't legally join this so-called "institution"), go for it. If you want your partner to be covered under your insurance policies, shouldn't that be your decision?!? I know couples that have been against marriage, but have done so for the health insurance. Now, isn't that romantic?
I also think that all of the obstacles that are put up against those trying to leave a bad marriage are unfair and are really the reasons for the "bitter divorcees." Ending a relationship is hard enough - fighting the insurance folks, the debt collectors, and the courts are what turned me cold.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Online Diary Entry: Attempting to Find Some Purpose (without the aid of therapy)

This is what happens to me when I don't have a weekly hour with my therapist. Okay, so it happens even when I do!
I feel restless, itching to do something but not knowing what it is, like something's on the tip of my tongue and if I only concentrate just a little bit harder, I'll figure out what it is.
I used to dive in to projects, passions, even people's lives, then find myself desperately drowning and needing some air. I'm determined not to do that again, but without it, I feel lost.
I'm not the kind of person that can just live through my kids. I can't even obsess about work anymore. I've "balanced" myself out so much that there's no one outside of my kids that counts on me, that needs me in that way that my codependent former self used to relish!
Not that I'm mentally, and emotionally healthy or anything like that! Stable, yes. But healthy? No, this can't be what healthy looks like!
I feel like I'm just waiting, to solve a problem, to be challenged by my kids, or even to fail spectacularly. I'd like to reach for success, but I don't have any clue as to what I need to achieve that's obtainable. I need a focus, a purpose, yet even just maintenance takes so much out of me that I have no energy for something new.
:::sigh:::I don't even know how to finish this post.

Kid Nation

Okay, so I'm about a week late, but I finally got around to watching this last night.
I realize there's been much controversy about this show using kids, but that specifically is not my issue with the show. No, I'd never let my own kids do it, but I can't be too surprised by the willingness of both a network and parents to want to cash in on the reality show phenomenon. I'm just too cynical, I guess, to let that get to me.
But here's my issue, and believe it or not, it's one of idealism.
The part that got me was when the adult came on and told them that they'd be assigned their jobs and their pay by how the placed in a Survivor-like challenge. The first team would get to be the "Upper Class," earning $1 and not being assigned to any jobs. The second team would be the merchants, earning fifty cents. The third team would be the cooks, earning 25 cents each, and the last place team would be the laborers, earning 10 cents each.
Why on EARTH did they create this class system with 8-14 year olds? Why didn't they let the kids themselves decide who would do what, and who would make what?
Here was a perfect opportunity to see, as the show indicates, how kids could do it better, but the grown-ups completely got in their way!
It leads me to have an even more cynical opinion of the show than I had before I saw it. This show is not attempting to perform any sort of anthropoligical study as it implies. Except maybe seeing how much idealism we can drain out of our kids before they hit puberty!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Days Like This, I Knew...but a Week?

I can't remember back to Monday. I know there was something...just don't know what.
Tuesday night: Riley woke up, talking away. I'm thinking that my alarm clock will be going off any minute. I ask her what time it is. 2:15 a.m. Riley, go back to bed. We were staying at my parents' house. The alarm went off, but I ignored the fact that there was no snooze button. 20 minutes later, I'm up, freaking out. I go downstairs. No coffee (even though I know I set the timer). I look at the clocks in the kitchen. 4:30 a.m. (not 6 a.m., as the portable alarm clock said). Oi!
Wednesday: Sylvia gets stranded at school (aha! Now I remember Monday's mini-drama. Sylvia didn't have a Thespian Club meeting after school, like we'd originally thought so there was no one to pick her up. Luckily, KIPP rocks, so they just took her up to tutoring until 6). Oh, and Sylvia's notebook also completely came apart so we were re-organizing her stuff until almost 10 pm.
Thursday: Riley's Back to School Night. Riley had bought a book at the Book Fair earlier that day and told her teacher she was leaving it until we came back for Back to School night. Her teacher went along with it (!), but of course by the time we were there, the book was gone. Since we got home late, Sylvia had a late start getting to her homework, and was again doing that until 9:30.
Friday: Usually Free Fridays, where Sylvia gets to wear jeans. Just as I'm getting ready to drop off Riley at school, Sylvia calls, crying. She needs her uniform pants. Back home to get them, back to Riley's school to drop her off, back to KIPP to drop the pants off...about a half-hour late to work.
I know motherhood isn't supposed to be easy...but does it always have to be this difficult?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My (anticipated) Fall TV Lineup

*subject to change based on availability of new episodes, interesting plots, stamina of viewer, and acting that doesn't suck

As much as I've enjoyed my mini "Cash Cab" marathons, I'm desperate for some new TV!! There's nothing I enjoy more than settling into my couch after the kiddies are in bed, the dishes are washed, and the coffee maker's ready for the a.m., than turning my attention to someone else's life, fiction or "real" (or as real as edited for TV can be), so long as I can lose myself in it. I don't watch TV crime dramas anymore because they're too depressing, and I'm not into "Lost" or "24" or "Heroes." And even after saying goodbye to "The Sopranos," there's still plenty for me to laugh, cry, or just watch, while my brain and my body ooze out of high gear and into a more restful position.

Please note: none of these will be watched in real time, but in the beautiful land of DVR - where I can pause, fast forward, and delete to my heart's content!

Monday: I enjoy "How I Met Your Mother" for Neil Patrick Harris mostly, but the other characters are good, too, and the storylines have nice fresh twists. "Big Bang Theory" and "Aliens in America," I fear, will make me feel old. I'll give "Samantha Who" a try (merely out of desperation), but I'm dubious at best. So I'll probably have to make the rest of Monday a "Cash Cab" night. :::sigh:::

Tuesday: I'll give "Carpoolers" a shot, although I fear it may get a little too on the dumb side to hold my attention. "Reaper" sounds like it might have been interesting to me about 5 years I'm just too tired to get into something like this. I'll continue to enjoy "Boston Legal" to finish off the evening.

Wednesday: "Pushing Daisies" does sound original...the previews haven't sold me, but there's enough buzz to intrigue me (and to add it to my season recording list). While I'm not crazy about "Private Practice," I do love the idea of (a) looking at Taye Diggs for an hour and (b) seeing Audra MacDonald perform so that's made it to the list. But I'm most excited about "Dirty Sexy Money."

Thursday: Ahhh, "The Office." A guaranteed half-hour of funny. Also, must see if "Grey's Anatomy" gets any better this season, and hope that "Big Shots" isn't a big flop.

Friday: nothing. This is my night where I usually can't stay awake past ten anyway (unless I'm out and about).

Saturday: Netflix night.

Sunday: I might try "Viva Laughlin" - but it hasn't made my DVR list yet. Then it'll be "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers & Sisters" which, somehow last season, became my highlight show of the week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

No, I'm not Suicidal, but I don't fear Death

People either think I'm depressed or just too young to appreciate life when I say I don't want to live past my 70's. I don't think I'm either. I think I'm not among the wealthiest of Americans, and therefore, can't afford to live past my 70's.
I'm not naive enough to think that Social Security will take care of me, but I was stupid enough not to have a job with a 401(k) until just a few years ago. Even with that, I simply don't make enough money to contribute to an amount that makes me think I'm going to be able to afford to live past retirement. I most likely will die still working.
And it's not that I want that to be in the next few years. I still want to be there for my daughters' journey into adulthood. I want to know who they are when they grow up, and I look forward to hanging out with them as adults so I don't have to censor myself with them anymore :)
But I really hate the idea of burdening them with the responsibility of caring for me. I don't want them to have to "babysit" me or worry about paying for my care or anything like that.
My point is this: why worry about living a long, healthy life if I'm not wealthy? I truly don't understand the need.

Anyways is NOT a word!!

I'm no English professor, and I actually enjoy some "bad grammar" usage, like dangling participles and run-on sentences. I like to use "ain't" with double negatives at times and start sentences with "but" or "however."
However, "anyways" is NOT a word!! I don't care how many people say it or type it!! How did this happen? Why did it even start? Why ADD another letter to an already perfectly fine word? DRIVES ME CRAZY!!! (er. Crazier.)

The Emmy Awards or...What the Heck was that?!?

This had to be the worst Emmy Awards ever, at least in terms of production values. If you're going to do a show in the round, then you actually have to do the show in the round. It was directed like it was a proscenium stage! They should have had mics on 4 sides and then alternated for each award.

And while I loved the idea of The Sopranos tribute, it was directed in such a way where the lights completely interfered with my ability to actually see any of the clips. I liked the idea of using the Jersey Boys, too, but it ended up being too much happening and just a hot mess! At least the cast got to take a bow.

Would've been nice, too, if I could've seen the ovations for the award winners instead of being distracted by the clips. The clips should've been played for the nominees, not while the winners were taking the stage.

And you don't play music for Robert Duvall!! At least, not until absolutely necessary. And then NOT play it for Helen Mirren?!? Either respect legends or don't.

The first time they cut away to censor, I had no idea what was going on. One minute, I'm watching Ray Romano, the next I'm looking at the outside of the Shrine. What's wrong with the bleep? It looked like someone was asleep at the wheel and didn't realize there was still a show going on!

As far as who won, well, as James Spader said, no one really even understands who votes for this, so what are you going to do? But I am convinced that everyone just checked a "James" without checking if it was Spader or Gandolfini. I'm actually a huge fan of Boston Legal and James Spader, but Gandolfini was definitely robbed last night!

I think the best moments were: the writers' names for the late night shows (Bill Maher's was the funniest of all), Elaine Stritch (love her), James Spader's acceptance speech, and Lewis Black. Thank you, Lewis Black, for telling the networks how annoying the crawls are, and how distracting the "up next" things have become. I doubt it will change anything, but you definitely spoke for me last night!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Some Thoughts about Religion & Faith

I am neither agnostic nor atheist, but I don't believe in organized religion either. I hesitate to say that I believe in God, only because I believe in my God, which I am not confident looks anything like yours. I hesitate to say I believe in Jesus, because I think his real messages and lessons have been lost, nor do I believe he was the son of God.

I do, however, have a "minister." I have a few, actually, but I've just read Steve's posting on faith and Mother Theresa and while I haven't had the struggles or experiences he's had, I can attest that I am one of those that he has hugged after a show and he has touched my heart.

Where did my Mommy Powers come from?

Two nights ago, I located the remote control that neither of my girls could find. This morning, I knew exactly where Riley's glasses would be when she said "in my room." How do I know this stuff? And why doesn't it work on me?

When did I get the eyes in the back of my head?

How do I absolutely know when my daughter's revving up to get herself in trouble?

I'm more comfortable with the times when I have no idea what to do - when I'm racking my brain for the right answer. I simply don't recognize myself when I have those oh-so-typical Mom moments because they just don't feel like me. I'm disorganized, messy, emotional, and irrational. How do I manage to stay calm in moments where my kids are either sick or in distress?

I'm completely unobservant (to the point where I knew something was different about my husband at the time, but it took me about a day and a half to figure out he'd shaved his moustache off) - so how is it that I always know exactly what my kids are wearing?

I'm not a morning person (still stay up 'til midnight most nights); how do I manage to get up every morning before 6 and get the kids going?

I'm easily distracted - how am I able to understand both my daughters when they're talking to me simultaneously?

What have these children done to me?!?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Emmy Picks

Just my thoughts on the upcoming Emmys, as a self-professed awards show junkie.

Best Drama: Please let it be The Sopranos! This was the best show ever on television! It really had it all: character-driven, but with action, humor, and lots of surprises! I will miss you!!

Best Comedy: I'm rooting for The Office - I look forward to this show every week, even if it's a repeat.

Lead Actor in a Comedy: Steve Carrell of The Office. I love all the actors on this show, but Steve Carrell absolutely makes it.

Lead Actress in a Comedy: Frankly, I don't watch enough of these shows to really form an opinion, but I'm a fan of both Mary Louise Parker & Felicity Huffman.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Please let it be Neil Patrick Harris. I just love his Barney!

Supporting Actress in a Comedy: I have to go with Jenna Fischer from The Office. That understated, completely believable character acting is a marvel to watch!

Lead Actor in a Drama: James Gandolfini.

Lead Actress in a Drama: This is a tough one. I love Sally Field, Edie Falco, and Minnie Driver in The Riches (a pretty cool show), so I'd be happy with any of them, but I think I'd have to go with Sally Field. That woman is breath-taking!

Supporting Actor in a Drama: Michael Imperioli - his Christopher was a highlight of this spectacular show.

Supporting Actress in a Drama: I think every woman in this category does remarkable work - just can't pick a favorite (what can I say; decisions can be difficult for me!)

Best Competition Reality Series: Project Runway, please let it be your turn! The only competition-nominated show I'm still watching; it's because it's good stuff!

Okay, those are the only categories in which I watch enough of the shows to really make a judgment call.

I'm the Best Mommy in the World!

No, of course I don't mean that! But you know those proud mama (or papa) moments when your kids just make you swell with pride? My oldest daughter, Sylvia, gave me that kind of moment last night.

In her Thespian Club, they were voting for which 4 kids would be the Officers of the Club. Sylvia got 15 out of 20 votes! Next week, she'll find out which Office she'll hold. I thought this was especially cool because the Club members are 5th through 8th graders, and she's only in 5th grade. I'm glad that the older kids are being so supportive of her.

Then, she remembered her really great news: that the Principal asked her to be one of two 5th graders to talk to some money people that are visiting the school today about KIPP. She was honored to be asked, and of course I love the fact that he thinks she would make a good impression on potential donors.

It's moments like these that get me through the Sharpay moments, the nagging in the a.m. to get out of bed and get dressed already, the hours of homework, the struggles to get the tangles out of her hair...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why it's all about balance

I actually learned something worthwhile in college! In a business class, of all things!

I guess I should back-track a little here, though, and introduce myself. Name: April. Various labels: single working mom of two girls (soon to be 7 and 9), secretary in a corporate real estate law dept, liberal, divorced, California native, Los Angeles resident.

I do most things in an unorthodox manner. I didn't get married until I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter (big mistake to tie that knot - but that's for another blog), and I didn't graduate college until last year (I'm 34).

I went to Antioch University - Los Angeles, an incredibly liberal school. How liberal? Well, on the gender question on the application, you have your choice between male, female, or transsexual. Given that, our business classes were a bit different. We actually learned useful knowledge in terms of interpersonal communication, group practices, etc.

I have to thank my professor, Jeanne Hartley, for the best advice I ever received which I think about on a daily basis.

She taught me that it's all about balance. She taught me that our weaknesses are our strengths overused. She taught me that compromise is not the optimal solution, but rather equally balancing out the needs is.

I think about this often, and must perform these balancing acts more often than a Cirque de Soleil performer! Time management is obviously a huge part of that, as any mom can tell you. However, it goes beyond just balancing our responsibilities and personal needs. It also involves keeping perspective and realizing that the world is not black and white, people are not all good or all evil, children should not be labeled into categories like the "brainy one" or "tomboy," and good political solutions are probably somewhere between the Republican or Democratic stances.

I will be opinionated, and more than likely on the "left-hand" side of things when I get political (which, frankly, I'm hoping to avoid until closer to the general elections because I hate primaries). But I do hope that people who disagree will tell me (without name-calling or otherwise being rude) why they disagree. And that's just not about political issues, but parenting, relationships, or whatever I decide to write about here. I'll rant and rave, but I'm still open enough to hear your side, too.

My father and I disagree on politics. We have learned over the years that we just see things from an entirely different perspective. He sees things on the news, and thinks to himself, "how can she believe what she does?" and I'll do the same...but he grew up as an Army brat and mostly in the South. I grew up in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles, doing theatre starting at the age of 6! It's no wonder we see things differently. We also different priorities so our filters work differently. I'm simply more willing to forgive or at least not take seriously some of the things Democrats do wrong because overall, I believe that they more closely fight for the things that are important to me. The same is true for my father with Republicans. We talk politics less and less, more and more because we get so passionate that my mother freaks out on us. But we do try to hear the other one's point of view. I'm hoping for the opportunity to hear from others who don't think like me (and some validation for those who do agree with me is always welcome, too :), but are willing to speak from the heart - not just rhetoric, please!

Because I do believe that both sides must be heard in order to achieve a workable solution that balances out the needs of everyone. I actually do appreciate the far-righters and the far-lefters because without their extremism, it might be harder for most of us to find our middle, common ground. And while I do call myself a liberal, I've met some extremists on the left side that make me look like a conservative! Well, maybe not that far...

I'll also talk about my girls, and whatever balances I'm trying to help them through. I will talk about their tantrums or other bad day moments (what we're now calling "Sharpay" moments in reference to the diva in the High School Musical movies), their good and great days, and I'll even talk about how sometimes, I'm grateful for Mondays and to be back with adults again! I'll ask for advice on occasion, and hope you give it (again, respectfully) or even make suggestions when I don't ask for it!

I look forward to meeting you all, and hope you tell me what you like and what you don't like along the way.