Monday, July 28, 2008

Like, OMG, I'm a Valley girl again!

We are now residents of beautiful Burbank, CA.

The move is complete. I had the brilliant idea on Thursday evening to rent a U-Haul, rather than transport everything on my dad's truck and my sister's Suburban. It truly was a brilliant idea. We got everything but the hanging clothes in one truck-load and had everything unloaded by 11:30 a.m.! My sis, her hubs, and my nephews were a great help. My dad showed off his real-life Tetris skills by maneuvering everything to fit properly in the truck, and all items survived without breakage. At least, all items I've unpacked so far.

I did have to go back on Sunday with the girls to get all the clothes, and that could've gone better. But, overall, the hardest part of the move ended up being the smoothest.

I've found that expecting the absolute worst of any situation, and dreading it with everything you have in you up until the event in question really helps it all go so much better!

I believe I have notified everyone that needs to be notified, save my 2 magazine subscriptions (for the curious, those are: Entertainment Weekly and the New Yorker). The only things left to deal with are the girls' school situations. I'll talk about that in a few more weeks.

The kitchen is completely unpacked, the bathrooms are done, and enough clothes are unpacked and put away to get us through quite a while. Of course, that's not everything, but all the essentials are done. I'm still commuting for the next few weeks, as I want to keep the girls in the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club for the rest of the summer. Sylvia was asked to join the Swim Team just a couple of weeks ago, and we both want her to keep doing that.

My sweet cat, Bobbie, survived the move quite well. I think this is her 19th. My dad freaked out because he went to the condo after we dropped off the U-Haul to get some of the big stuff I was getting rid of (I bought a new, awesome couch - Costco rocks), and he couldn't find her. Bobbie hates my dad. She only seems to come in contact with him when I'm moving or some other traumatic event is happening so she won't come out for him. He eventually found her hiding way back in one of the kitchen cabinets. And she cried that painful cry the whole car ride to our new digs. But once she got a chance to explore, she was fine again.

The girls seem really happy, too. We had a few scenes yesterday as we were moving the clothes, but I guess some chaos should be expected during a move. We haven't made any new friends yet in the complex; everyone seems to keep to themselves. Which is nice, in a way, but I'd like to make friends with at least one neighbor. Even the little girl we saw didn't say hi or anything when we passed her. But we've only been there since Saturday. All in good time, I guess.

Work has calmed down some (as of now, anyway). The temp we got last week is SO much better, and has helped ease some of my workload.

Now all that's left is to get the living room, bedrooms and office in order. (I will not have online access at home until Thursday so if I disappear for a while, that's why.) I've made a vow not to stress or give myself deadlines on this. One box, one bag at a time.

Oh, and one more thing: I've joined the ranks of those without a home phone anymore. I've ordered standalone DSL service and between my cell phone and Sylvia's, I think we're covered. NPR did a story on this last week. They said phone companies really look down on this, but I have to give credit where it's due: AT&T gave me no trouble about it. Given that 75% of my calls at home were telemarketers, I think we'll be fine.

Thanks for all your well wishes! The 200 post is coming so if you have any questions for me, bring 'em on!

Friday, July 25, 2008

NOT the 200th post

So I pulled a Mr Lady and found that there were unpublished posts in that number. Blasted Blogger! I've got a few more posts to go until I reach the 200th, so continue to submit questions if you like!

Tomorrow is moving day. Would you believe, the condo people called me 2 days ago and said it fell out of escrow and would I be willing to sign another year's lease? I laughed maniacally at the message!! I considered it, talked to friends and family, and decided it's time to say good-bye to the condo.

The last time I left, I did not get that chance. Because family has access to this blog, I'm not sure if I'll ever post that story. It's painful, and I don't want to bring it up to certain people. It's more than 10 years behind us now, but it still hurts. Anyway, the way everything went down, there was no official good-bye to the condo. Now I can do that.

Living there the past year, I remembered who I used to be. Before my kids, before my ex, there were moments where I could feel the person I was in junior high, high school and beyond. I remembered feeling confident in who I was, and believing that the world was my oyster. The moment I left that place, all of that was gone. I thought that person was dead. Living there brought the old me back to life. Not completely, and not the same, of course, but the essence that I sorely needed.

My life is not over. Nor will it ever be perfect. Nor will it be what I thought it would be during that time of my life. But I'm making the best and the most of what there is available to me today.

I know the areas where I still need improvement, and for the first time ever, I'm learning to be patient with myself that it will take baby-steps for me to get there, and I'm not beating myself up about it. I don't lose it completely anymore when people don't get me, or make fun of me for being who I am. I also know plenty of people who love me for who I am, and I'll take that over faking it.

I don't doubt my ability to survive anymore. I know I will always provide my children even beyond the basics of what they need. I know I will screw up, and they can still be okay. I know we are very fortunate that we are all healthy. I know we will stay connected in the most important ways.

I still get scared about certain things about the future, but it is a healthy amount of fear that keeps me driven to get it right as much as I can. I know I have certain people I can trust with those fears who will talk me through it. I know I have this little space to share it all with you, and you will continue to cheer me on when I need it.

I will TOTALLY miss having a washer and dryer in the house, and you can GUARANTEE that I will whine here about it, but that is all. I like the new place, and the girls are excited way beyond my expectations. And if something happens yet again, and we have to move again in another year? Well, that'll be all right, too. I certainly hope not, but there are certainly much worse things that can happen.

So, thank you, condo. Thank you for being there for me when I needed you. Thank you for this chance to say good-bye. And now, it's time to move on.

Friday, July 18, 2008

199th Post

Okay so I'm going to steal from all the great bloggers I know (Tara, Maria, Huckdoll, etc.) and say, bring on the questions! What do you want to know about me? I don't have nearly the readership levels of those greats, so please, ask multiple questions :)

The 200th post will take a while to get up. As has been the norm lately, I don't suspect I'll have much time soon for my virtual life!

The temp didn't work out so I have to start over on Monday with a new one. The big move is scheduled for next Saturday, and there's still plenty to do. Although I do feel I am in fairly good shape with things so that's good.

I took the past few nights off, though. On Wed., my sister and I went to the Hollywood Bowl (a bday present from the folks) to see Manhattan Transfer and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and had a great time. Didn't make it home until almost midnight, though, and dragged my feet through most of Thursday. Tonight the girls and my parents and I went to the Disney Concert Hall for a Broadway sing-along and had a really great time. Although it wasn't in the Concert Hall, but their rehearsal hall. Sylvia got to sing on the mic for "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. She did me proud ;)

She's been asked to join the swim team at the Boys & Girls Club and is very excited about that. I met her swim instructor today, and absolutely love her!

The bad news is that Sylvia has an eye infection. I had to take her to urgent care today. It's not too bad, so I think we caught it in time and won't be too terrible. I hope so anyway.

Riley's taking swim classes and loving it. My sister pointed out that she's looking much more grown up these days. I can no longer pick her up and carry her to her bed when she falls asleep early in the living room. (She's been awfully tired at night from all the activities at the Boys & Girls Club.) I miss it, sort of, but am proud of the young girl she's becoming.

This, it seems, has turned into an early weekend wrap-up. Although I'm not sure who is even around to read it with everyone off at BlogHer!

Bring on those questions! And thanks to all of those who are being so patient with me and my lackadaisical posting and commenting.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

Haven't done this in a while. We have found a new place to live. It's about 5 minutes from my work so even though it costs more monthly, I won't be spending as much in gas anymore. The girls are very excited, and that's a big old sigh of relief for me. This all would be much harder if they were upset. Instead, they're helping me pack. We've got the living room pretty much done and about halfway through their bedroom.

I've made three trips to Goodwill already and will make another tomorrow. It's amazing how much stuff my kids have accumulated in one year! Riley's much better at letting things go, but I have to do a lot of their room without Sylvia around because all of a sudden, things she hasn't touched or thought about in a year become integral to her very existence when she sees them about to go into the trash or Goodwill bag.

Riley lost her voice this week. She sounded like a 60-yr-old smoker who couldn't say her "r's." It was too funny.

I took the girls to see Wall-E last weekend. Pixar is amazing. While it's not my favorite Pixar movie, it was really good. When it comes on DVD, I won't mind the girls' multiple viewing of that one.

And here are some pics from our D-land weekend the weekend before last.

The girls and I had a really nice time. Riley went on Tower of Terror for the first time, and they both tried Indiana Jones for the first time. We also went on Thunder Mountain about 7 times, and Space Mountain twice. I love the fact that they're old enough to skip the kiddie rides entirely now! Luckily, none of us are too old for the petting zoo.

Note to OhMommy: I tried to do your assignment of taking pics of the tops of their heads - only my mother has gotten these girls too well-trained to smile for the camera!

And our cousin joined us for an evening.

Tomorrow, a temp will be starting to take over my position as Secretary - yay! I need to start just working my Paralegal job. I'm starting to make stupid mistakes because my mind is going too many different directions at once. Of course, it'll still be hectic while I train her, but it's a step in the right direction at least. Thinking about all the things I need to for the move isn't helping matters.

But none of this is earth-shattering. None of it is insurmountable. I just need to remember to take it all one thing at a time.

And one more note: Don Mills Diva and Jen of A2eatwrite both bestowed awards on me in the past few weeks. As grateful and appreciative I am, I just haven't gotten around to writing my thank yous, posting them and passing them on. I'm going to save them for when I can revel in them a bit.

Now I must stop procrastinating and get back to packing already!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flashback Friday - Cliff's Words


I didn't know what I was going to write about so I went trolling around My Documents to see what was there, and I came across a paper written by a man who is now deceased. He was living in a homeless shelter when I met him. He was a student; I was a teaching intern. It's weird because I thought about him just the other day. I freaked out because it took me a moment to remember his name. His name was Cliff.

As I skimmed through this paper, I came across these paragraphs. As I'm in the process of moving, these spoke to me. I know we all know this, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded every now and then.

While traveling, I began to look for a way to understand my life and experiences. I became a Buddhist and tried to find enlightenment along the road. I met many Buddhas on the way. They were also homeless, traveling, and working their private truths. One of them was a man named Greg, who traveled with me for years. Every week, the food section of the newspaper featured a recipe for a special gourmet meal, and we made it as a ritual, like a Japanese tea ceremony. We would go to the store and get all of the items listed. Then using only a ground level barbeque with briquettes we would cook and eat a gourmet meal as pictured in the newspaper. This was Greg’s private truth---to cook a gourmet meal once a week even though homeless.

The life of a traveling Buddhist Monk has much in common with homelessness. First, there is the lack of possessions. When you own nothing but what you can carry, it is very limiting. In no time at all, a heavy backpack is filled and then there is all this other stuff that doesn’t fit and just has to be left. Choosing what was absolutely essential was a constant process of self-examination. I would always first have to let something go before I could pick up a new thing to take with me.

There were Buddhas among me all the time while I was traveling. Until I became homeless, I couldn’t see them. This is because it is not their job to point themselves out. It is only their job to work their truth. Either I was aware of them or I was not. But my awareness didn’t change the path they were walking. They continued irrespective of my awareness. My becoming conscious was of most benefit just to me because it allowed me to join in this cosmic dance.

Buddhism carries itself on two pillars: compassion and detachment. To be homeless is by its very nature to be detached. Compassion was the heart of my travels. Traveling the country through all kinds of weather, I became mindful of how hard everyone has it, no matter who they are. You can’t be too rich, too slim or too young. No matter. From everyone’s point of view we are all having a hard time of it. Traveling with the carnival and rodeo circuit but staying homeless, I saw all kinds of country and people up close. I saw the common threads of humanity in nearly everyone I met.

...Falling asleep with next to nothing every night taught me that we all are travelers and truly take nothing with us but ourselves.

Thank you, Cliff.

Got a Flashback Friday post? CableGirl has asked me to host, so add your linky love here!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The State of the Union

The 5th of July seems as good a time as any to reflect upon American politics, policies, and patriotism.

Let me actually start with patriotism. I love this country. I love this country so much it hurts. As most of you know, I don't pray to a God, but I consider the Constitution and the Bill of Rights worthy of worship. I definitely consider myself lucky to call myself an American. I remember, back as a child, thinking that I most likely would've been locked up or killed at a very young age if I'd been born under another flag because, as you all know, I LOVE to use my freedom of speech! I also wonder how much of that is simply how I was born or because I was born here, but that's another post for another day. The point of this paragraph in this post is to say that I'm most definitely a proud patriot of these United States.

And, more than anything else, it is my love of this country that can make me weep sometimes. And I don't mean that as a figurative term. I mean, literally weep. I mean, rant and rave and scream and shout at some of the things I've seen and heard that I just don't feel should be happening here in this country (or in other countries because of us).

I'd gotten off my political bandwagon about a year or so into my relationship with my ex-husband. Particularly after becoming a mom, plus living with an addict kind of took most of my fight out of me. I stopped paying attention.

Oh, sure, I was interested in the election of 2000 (and I've voted in every Presidential election since I could), but I didn't hate W. I was disappointed Gore "lost," but I was even more irritated that he lost his home state! That may have really been the losing point.

But I digress. I'd also just given birth to Riley so I was a little busy then.

Then came 9/11. And for many nights afterwards, after the girls were in bed, I watched and I cried with the nation. I remember we came here for Xmas that year, and I was so proud of all the American flags flying everywhere that holiday season. I thought we were going to be okay.

And then W decided to invade Iraq. And I felt in my gut even back then (I know everyone says this now, but truly I did) that it was the wrong decision. I had supported, and still support, the war in Afghanistan, but I just thought getting into Iraq was not going to be worth what it would cost us. Although, I fully admit that I had no idea what that would end up meaning as it does today.

Still, I was not that involved. I was struggling in my marriage, and when that finally ended, I was struggling as a single mom.

So what made me feel involved again? Bush's proposal to amend our Constitution to ban gay marriage. That offended every fiber of my being. That a President, in the 21st century, would actually want to add discrimination against a certain group of Americans into our Constitution?!?

So I started reading again. And, as one of my favorite bumper stickers says, "If you aren't completely appalled, you haven't been paying attention." Well, I was appalled.

I was appalled to learn that our No Child Left Behind system was based on a system in Houston that has since been found to have cheated, deliberately leaving out certain students from even participating in the testing, and more elaborate schemes that I imagine took a lot more brain power to create than was needed to actually accomplish the teaching!!

I was appalled to learn that our administration thought it was okay to treat human beings the way they treat(ed) them in New Orleans, in Iraq, in Gitmo Bay.

I was appalled to learn that Bush was pushing his religious views not only on us Americans, but throughout the world; that he believed that being in the "majority" made it okay to dismiss others that believed differently.

So I got a little more involved. Now, my contributions have been slight by most standards (including my own), but it is what it is. I write emails to our politicians, and even occasionally, our President (not that I expect to change his mind, but because I want him to know I haven't changed mine either. Plus, I like to end them with "I look forward to Karl Rove's response. Sincerely...."), and I even wrote letters (yes, actual handwritten letters) to those voters in Florida that were not likely to go to polls, or were undecided. I even got a letter back from one of them, assuring me they'd vote for Kerry in '04. I also worked the phones for during the '06 election, and feel like I played a small part in helping get a Democratic Congress elected.

And now we come to that. To why I'm a Democrat. Well, really, I'm a liberal. Do I think they have all the answers? Of course not. Do they really make me crazy sometimes? Absolutely. Do I wish they'd get out of bed with the unions? Nearly every day. But, given our 2-party system (which, yes, I know should change, but it ain't gonna any time soon), they seem to me the only party worth supporting.

And in reading Obama's book, I am so very impressed with this man. Would you believe that he talks about balance a lot? He says things that I think and say all the time!! He believes, as I do, that he has thought about "the other side" and tries to take their concerns into consideration. He is passionate, like I am, but the biggest difference is, of course, he's way smarter than I am and I think he has some answers.

One of the greatest things I've read so far is when he talks about the Constitution as a living, breathing document. I love that. I love to think of it that way, too. And as a living, breathing document, it is worthy of our love and worship, even. And worth our time to learn about what people are doing to it today, and what they want to do to it in the future.

Look, I know we're all busy. Living lives, raising kids, and every now and then, just trying to relax! So I'll try to make it as easy as possible. Read the news online at least 3 times a week. Tape "Meet the Press" or another Sunday morning show. It's an hour out of your week. And don't think for a minute that they're telling you the whole truths, or any of the actual politicians are worthy of worship (even Obama - no, he's not perfect), but if you take the time to listen to them, and form your own opinion about who you think they are, how much they seem to say about what affects your every day lives, then maybe you will be motivated to write your own email or blog post, or send your own letters this election season.

And I hope this doesn't sound condescending to those who already do things like this, and in some cases, much more. It's just that I think 4th of July (or, really, the 5th of July and throughout the rest of the year - particularly a Presidential Election Year) should be not just about singing the praises of this country, or even bitching about this country, but about really truly taking part in all this country has to offer us.

United States of America, I salute thee.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Flashback Friday - My First Job(s)


The other day, we were having cake to celebrate our boss' bday, and somehow, we ended up going around the room and talking about our first jobs. I realized later that I didn't really tell them my "true" first job.

I told them about my first "real" job, where you punch a time card, and have an hourly wage and all that. That was for the Pride of L.A. (now defunct), a dinner cruise ship out of L.A. Harbor. We also entertained. I was a cruise ship hostess, as I was not old enough to serve alcohol. But I made a good Julie. I even won Cruise Ship Director of the Year.

But my very first dollars (quite literally, 3 or 4 dollars - I can't remember now) were earned singing at an after-show club in Santa Cruz. Next, I won $50 at a singing contest. And then I hit the big 3-digits doing Fiddler on the Roof in San Francisco. It didn't nearly make up what my dad spent in gas, driving me back and forth from our home in Santa Cruz, but I relished in being able to call myself a "professional." I was 9 at the time.

I think I next earned money as an actor on "The Judge." This was before Judge Judy; based on real cases, but all manufactured and neatly summed up in one half-hour. It became a running joke around actors I knew back then. Pretty much everyone I know had "The Judge" on their resume at one point or another. In fact, you knew you'd made it to the next level when you could take it off!

But let's face it. Those weren't real jobs. My first real job was on The Pride of L.A. I worked on it starting the summer before my senior year, until it made its way around the Harbor the very last time on New Year's Eve 1990. The pay wasn't great, but the memories certainly are! Mostly, I just remember the click tracks that we sang to, and certain songs remind me of the bands that played for dancing after dinner: "What I Like About You," "Celebration" by Kool & The Gang...all those dance classics. I remember late nights while everyone cashed out, helping make the schedules, kvetching about certain guests, people freaking out that they didn't make enough tips for the night.

I was lucky. I was still living at home, and the job was just pure fun for me. Looking back, I can see why everyone else was so much more stressed than I was! But I'm glad my first experience was so great...although it did make it harder to deal with other jobs later that weren't such a great atmosphere.

If that had been today when that ship closed, we'd all have exchanged emails, cell phone numbers and started a group on Facebook or something. Now, they're all just distant memories; home numbers long since changed, most likely. I don't think that's such a terrible thing, though. I think some memories are meant to stay just that. Because there's no way I could survive on what I made back then today! I mean, how would I pay for my DSL?

Got a Flashback Friday post? CableGirl has asked me to host, so add your linky love here!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quick and Dirty

Hey all - I miss you guys! Sorry I haven't been around, but things are busy and crazy. Here's a quick and dirty update, and I'll post something more thoughtful when I have the time and brain power.

One: I do have to move after all. We went from playing phone tag about when we were going to get together to sign the lease extension to the owners are selling after all and I have to be out July 31. I'm holding up pretty well, though. My parents have been amazing. They literally got in their car after I told them and started apt. hunting for me. The good news: my raise gives me more flexibility in what I can pay in rent. The bad news: well, besides moving and all, it probably means my raise will go entirely to rent and I won't be able to afford to save for a down payment in a year. The girls took it fairly well, even when I said I have no idea what it means for their school next year. They're definitely bummed (Sylvia wanted me to sue :), but they're taking it fairly well, all things considered.

Two: Disneyland was great. We had a blast. We got to do pretty much everything we wanted, but were exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday afternoon. I'll post more details later with pics.

Three: job is keeping me very busy (I so should not be posting right now), but it's still going fairly well. I've definitely made more than one mistake, but nothing irreparable, and even better, I've negotiated a couple of things on deals that I was told I probably wouldn't get, so that was fun! Highs and lows, and definite challenges. I love it when the workday goes quickly.

Hope you all are well. I've been trying to sneak in and out of some of your posts, but I haven't made it very far. And it looks like most of my weekend will now be devoted to apartment-hunting so I'm not sure how much I'll accomplish then either.

Wear your sunblock and Happy 4th!