Thursday, September 29, 2011

3 Years Ago Today

Dad breathed his last on this plane.  Hubby swore he saw him that night, going to check on the kids, and I absolutely believe it.  He constantly checked on my brother and I when we were kids, as we slept. And I'm sure he wouldn't have left before making sure all the grandkids were safe and sound.
And he's still doing just that.
Thanks, Dad!  And here's to you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to Basics

As I've posted before, I need to work on my endurance.  I'm quite strong (thank you, Pilates and my kids!).  I also wrote I was going to be doing more barre-based workouts, which I haven't been doing as much as I intended.
So, I'm going to try a regime of mixing said barre workouts with Slim in 6/Slim Series, the workouts that got me back in shape after WG was born.  I'll be doing these 3-4 days a week (mixing and matching) along with yoga and my Pilates classes. I'll be teaching more off the mat, so to speak.  Doing less and observing/correcting more. And HIIT for cardio, since it doesn't take up much time and kicks my patootie.  I don't want to go back to working out 12 hours a week, so I'll be judicious in what I'll do on which days.  (For example, on Fridays I work with a private client on the reformer: I don't do the exercises, so I can do a Si6 or barre workout that day.)
So we'll see how that goes.

In other news, I had this whole post ready to go about my decision to not teach drama classes for really young kids anymore, once this current class finishes.  Then I realized that, hello!, my employers or one of the parents could possibly stumble upon it.  It was full of grousing and, after sleeping on it, I've decided not to post it.  Just getting it all down in writing helped, and a good night's sleep has given me some perspective.  Because as adorable and fun as the kids are, I just don't think I'm cut out to teach them.  Especially in large groups (the class currently has 20).
I've also been questioning my decision to teach acting, drama, etc. AT ALL right now.  We're on wildly shifting sands: we don't know how long it will be until we have to move,  if hubby will ever be made a permanent employee at his job; I've spread myself way too thin (as I wrote about recently), and my kids need their mom. I cannot take on a ton of financial responsibility AND be a full-time mom.  We cannot afford full-time child care, and my in-laws cannot be solely responsible for taking care of the kids while Hubby and I are working. So I'll keep teaching Pilates and bringing in a bit of money, but my main focus will be the kids.
One of the problems with working at 5 different places is trying to schedule everything.  Being home when the kids are, or making sure their grandparents can be with them (even picking them up from school, if need be),  scheduling clients around other jobs, giving myself enough time to sit in traffic, and scheduling the kids' therapies around everything else. I kind of feel like a field marshal, lol!
So I'm going to simplify things.  Pare it down, just like we're TRYING to do with our stuff. Give myself permission to NOT be responsible for everything and everyone, ALL of the time.  Be responsible for the kids, and keep them as my top priority.

It's all a big relief, actually.
I'm breathing easier than I have in REALLY long time.

Now I'm gonna go play with my virtual cats.

Shana Tova, everyone!  Happy Jewish New Year!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stop Messing With My Brain!

Even though I'm no longer an actress and no longer (thank goodness!) live in L.A., I still live my life as if I am and I do. I already knew L.A. had messed up my head, but the longer I'm away the more I understand just how much I let myself get caught up in all that crap.
What messages do we, the general public get from Hollywood?  Too many to count, but here are a few:  1) Women are stupid (check out any movie on Lifetime for examples).  2)Women are helpless (again, Lifetime, or pretty much any movie ever made with a male hero.  So, 90% of movies). 3) women are there to have sex with.  In any movie, women are usually the Wife, Girlfriend, or simply Random Girl Whom Hero Hooks Up With.  And if there's a female character who teams up with a bunch of guys, she will inevitably fall in love with one of them.  4) Women must look 25 all their lives.  Whether they are 16 or 50, this must be so.  5) Women must often be paired with men who are, literally, twice their age. At least. 5) The ONLY thing women need worry about is their appearance. If you're attractive, you will be taken care of.  As long as you put out, and until whoever's doing the caretaking decides you're a gold-digging bitch. And if you're "TOO" sexy, well, whatever happens is your own fault.  Because, after all, men cannot control their urges, right?  And we need to REALLY worry!  If we don't fit the narrow definition of "hot," which changes with the wind, we must do everything in our power to make ourselves fit it.

Those are a few.

So what does Hollywood tell its actresses? All of the above, and much, much more: 1)Women should be grateful for ANY role they get.  Yes, this goes for men, but very few male characters are rape victims, or walk around in a thong with a camera up their butt,  or have to wear white tanktops without a bra and their nipples in constant stand-at-attention mode.  2)Women should have a thick skin, so that when a casting director or producer tells her she's old, ugly, fat, and worthless, she doesn't take it personally.  But if she DOES grow a thick skin, well, then she's a bitch. 3) Women should be seen and not heard.  And if she opens herr mouths, she gets a reputation as being "difficult." 4) Women must be attractive and look young (see above), but if they have obvious plastic surgery, they are to be ridiculed and belittled. 5) Womens' bodies, especially celebrity women, are public property. They belong to agents, directors, producers, and magazine publishers.  If a celebrity is chosen by a tabloid as A Worst Beach Body, or as a possessor Celebrity Cellulite or something equally ridiculous, it is her fault and she must get to the gym AND cosmetic surgeon's office asap.  6) Women are useless unless they are hot.  ALL women.  Not worthy of love, of happiness, of a good job or a halfway decent life.

Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Add all of the above to young women who are, invariably, lacking in self-esteem, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Here I am, in my middle-age, and I still buy into it all.  I don't look around at real people and think "No one here is a supermodel, and yet they are all living their lives.  They are happy, fulfilled, confident, competent, and, yes, many of them have sex on a regular basis."  WHY don't I do that?  Because I'm still thinking like an actress.
I had neuroses before I moved to L.A., but they revolved around my abilities.  I put A LOT of time and effort into being a good actor and a good teacher. I was pretty confident when I made the move to L.A., but it was slowly stripped away.  I also found myself becoming bitter: why should women with less talent and less experience get all the jobs, simply because they looked better in lingerie?

So I guess the question now is, what do I want to be when I grow up?  Because I'm not going back to acting, that's pretty much guaranteed.  At least, not professionally. And as much as I enjoy teaching acting, I'm getting a little old for the kinds of jobs I've been doing: an hour here, 2 hours there, pulling a paycheck but not a salary. Trying to teach freelance, the way I did in my 20's, AND be a full-time mom. There's also the fact that my kids are still pretty young, and they still need me as much as possible.  Right now they get picked up from school by their grandparents one day a week, and, to be honest, I hate it!  I want to be the one to pick up LG and talk to his teacher.  I want to get WG off of her van, read about her day in her notebook.  I want to get their snacks.  Yes, it's one day a week, and they don't mind it, but I do!  Time goes by too fast.  Before I know it they may not want cuddles and hugs from their mom after school.

And, truly, the thing I do best is being my kids' mom.  Yeah, for a while I was a pretty good actor, but I'm a REALLY good mom.  Not perfect, not by a long shot.
But damn good.

So we'll see what happens.

Hello Autumn! (?)

We've had a warm streak in these parts.  OK, a heatwave.  It's been between 85 and 90-plus degrees here the past few days.  After a rather cool, sometimes clammy summer, it's nice to have some really warm weather.  And not TOO warm, not like the triple digits we had in L.A. (Seriously, we all lived like vampires: staying inside all day, then coming out at night to play with the kids/walk the dog/mow the lawn, etc.)
So today is the last day of summer, according to the calendar. Which makes me kinda sad. I guess it hearkens back to being a kid; the feeling of the end of freedom, going back to school (Blech! Yuck!), and the horrible, AWFUL allergies that always accompanied early Fall when I lived on the east coast.  And later, when Fall  (as much as I love the season) meant the end of the outdoor summer theater season and the knowledge that winter and snow were coming.
The shorter days always make be a bit melancholy.  Even though they now mean that the kids are back in school (yay!), and knowing that we're probably not gonna have any freak snowstorms, nor will my allergies act up the way they used to. I just LOVE Summer.  It's my favorite season, and it's hard to say goodbye.

I'm also just realizing (hello!) that we lost Dad at the end of September, 3 years ago.  So that adds to the sadness.  (Geez, Alyssa, ya think?!?!) I remember sitting outside the hospital on a beautiful, late-summer day before he passed.  It's a beautiful time in Boston, and a reminder that he wanted us to keep living, even as he was dying.

On the other hand, and a much happier note, we'll soon be getting pumpkins, a bit of foliage (yes, even here!), crisp, cooler days, brightly-colored sunsets, and, before we know it...HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!  Don't know about you, but my favorite holiday!
Yesterday my S-I-L came by with a costume she found on sale for LG.  It's a SpongeBob costume, and it's SO CUTE!  He tried it on, then didn't want to take it off.  He was rollerblading around the house with it on, and, dang, there are just no words to explain the adorable-ness of it! (Yes, I know that's not really a word.) She tried to find one for WG, as well, but there weren't any in her size.  (She did find an M&M costume for our nephew, though!) I'm trying to think of an equally cute costume for her. Luckily I have over a month to find it.

Anyway, happy Autumn! Now go get a pumpkin spice latte...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Holy Cow!

Decided to go to a new yoga class yesterday morning.  It's at the new studio where I go to the Anusara class, and it's now part of the Fall schedule.  Yesterday was the first session of Hot Yoga (not Bikram, more of  a Hatha flow class in 85 degrees), and I was the only one who showed up.  Sooooo...I got a private session!!!!! It was so cool! I'd never had a private yoga session before!
Of course, the disadvantage to that is I couldn't slack off.  At all.  (Not that I ever do in a full class!  Oh no, not me!  I'm a perfect angel! See the halo?  See the two horns holding it up?) And BOY HOWDY, am I feeling it today! I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. OK, harder than usual.
Luckily I have the day (mostly) off today. I might just head over to the pool, since it's supposed to get up to 90 degrees today.  I'll swim, sit in the hot tub, then go to another yoga class tonight.  Tomorrow it's a session with my private client in the morning, and rehearsal with the rugrats in the afternoon. Then bring our own kids to the pool. So it'll be a full day, even without a workout.  (I've decided that, for the immediate future, Tuesdays will be my non-workout days rather than Sundays.  I used to call them "rest days," but I don't think they will qualify when I'm with 17 kids ages 6-8.  And, yes, it's gone up from 14 to 17.)
OK, scratch that.  I just found out it's 19.
Gotta make more script revisions...

I'm also being ridiculously entertained by the pirate-speak on Facebook.  Since today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, you can change your language to "Pirate (English.)"   Go to your profile page, scroll all the way down & on the left it will have the current language.  Click on it, and it will enable you to change it.  It's REALLY funny!
Or, I'm just easily amused.
Perhaps both.

*UPDATE:  I just returned from my Anusara class, and have some exciting news! The owner of the studio asked if I'd be interested in teaching a Pilates class on Mondays, after Anusara.  I would get paid, of course (though not very much, since it's all still just starting out), but I'd also GET TO TAKE YOGA CLASSES FOR FREE!!!!!!!!  (And tai chi, and Zumba, and all the other stuff they have there!)

Anyway.  Gotta go add a couple of llamas back into a script.  Have a good night, all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Memo to Self: You Are NOT 24 Anymore, Capiche?!?!?!

Reverse the numbers, Baby!  You are 42 with 2 kids.  2 kids who have very specific, special needs and a WHOLE lot more energy than you have!
Yes, when you were 24 you could rehearse outside for a very physical, outdoor production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," spend a few hours in the press office, get to the gym, and finish up the day with a slightly-less physical, indoor performance of "Twelfth Night," wake up the next morning and do it all over again with few ill side-effects.

That was then.
18 years ago.

Face it, babe; you're not as young as you used to be. It may feel as if almost no time has gone by, but it has. And you must deal with that fact.  You cannot, for example, work with a private Pilates client in the morning, come home and clean the entire house, spend 2 hours emailing, faxing, phoning, texting and obsessing about your new class, drive to the elementary school and teach said class (just you with fourteen kids ages 6-8) for 90 minutes, drive home in rush hour, make dinner, play with the kids AND your 3 year-old nephew, wash the dishes (again!), walk the dog, and finish with a ballet-based workout and expect to bounce outta bed the next morning ready to go and without any consequences.
Just not gonna happen.
Not anymore.

So, this morning, you are NOT going to yoga.  You are teaching a mat class tonight.  This morning you are going home after you drop the kids off at school.  You will go back to bed.  You have a couple of hours to yourself today, and you will take full advantage.  Read your blogs.  Listen to music.  Grab your Kindle, get comfy, and read the book you downloaded a couple of days ago.
In other words, you are going to RECOVER FROM YESTERDAY.

That is all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I wasn't going to post today. With so many tributes, and so many already writing about it in ways that are much more eloquent than I could ever hope to be, I decided not to say anything.
I won't write about where I was or how I felt, or about the changes it made in the lives of my family and friends. Or even about those lost.

What I WILL write about is the fear for those first responders that are getting cancer.  There are many who have died.  It's an issue that, like practically everything else these days, has become politicized and polarizing.  But it shouldn't be.  The EPA was given outdated information and declared the air at Ground Zero safe.  But it wasn't. They didn't do it deliberately.  There was so much confusion, so many things were unknown during the weeks and months that followed that awful day. But now we know better, and now maybe something can be done.
I also fear for the people who have survivors' guilt. From the responders who survived, to the people who made it out of the towers, to the people at the airport gates who allowed the highjackers onto the planes.  The ones who blame themselves, even when there is no blame to place on them.  Who suffer from deep depression, alcoholism,  addiction, divorce, PTSD, and obsessive thinking about the events of that day.  I pray that they will find peace and be able to fully live again.

I also pray that we as a country are able to find our best self again.  To let go of the pettiness that has defined much of the past decade, to realize that those who believe other than we do, or who behave, live, look, love differently, are still human beings of equal value. To stop demonizing one another (even in election years!).

So much has changed since that September day, and much of it is not for the better. Sometimes it seems as if no time at all has passed, and other times it feels like lifetimes ago.

But there are positive changes, as well.
I was a brand-new, terrified mother.  Now I'm an experienced parent of 2 children.  I was a daughter of two parents who still had a great influence on me.  Now I've lost one of them, and I am a friend to the other, and often worry, because she's getting on in years. I was insecure, still trying to find my voice.  While I'm still on an ever-changing path, I no longer apologize for who I am or try to be someone else in order to please others. The shifting sands have mostly settled, and I am far more at peace now than I was then.
Much of the past few years have been about learning that loving myself is the first step toward loving others and having true empathy. That a lot of my suffering has been self-imposed and needless.  And, a big one for me, that G-d's love is boundless, and He really does want us to be happy,as trite as it may sound.
Finally, I am an adult.  As immature as I sometimes feel (and act), I really am a grown-up.
Imagine that.

Take care, everyone.  Hug your loved ones, and remember the feelings we all have today.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Because It's Just Too Exhausting

If you haven't read Charlotte's blog yet today (, I strongly advise that you do.
No, seriously, go ahead.  I'll wait...

Ah, you're back.  Pretty good, eh?  I mean, I read the blog every weekday, and it's always good (you're a great writer, Charlotte!), but today's is especially good.  And, like all good writing, it got me thinking. Because in the midst of back-to-school craziness (in our case, after a really fun 4-day weekend), when I was getting overwhelmed and frustrated as the dog needed to go out, WG was fussing and refusing to eat breakfast, and LG kept saying "No school" over and over and over before finally giving in to a meltdown (not ALL typical for him), and I was ready to throw in the towel at 7:30 AM, I was able to sit and read the blog (after getting WG on her bus) and to, well, take a deep breath and remember how hard the first few weeks of school are for our kids.  How nervous I always was, even when I liked my teacher and had friends in my class.  It's still an adjustment, and for kids with Autism it's even more so.
I also realized, as I was writing my comment on her post, that I never truly realized how much I depend on my various neuroses to get through the day.  I know we all have our crutches, but I don't think I realized how heavily I'm still leaning on mine.  Don't get me wrong, I'm nowhere nearly as dependent on them as I used to be, but many are still there, and I'm still leaning on them.
No wonder I'm so tired all the time!  Lugging around that much baggage is REALLY wearying!!!!!!

I also noticed that, after reading the post, I was paying more attention to breakfast.  Autopilot switched off and I realized I was no longer hungry. ( I'd eaten enough.  Lucky dog, she got the rest of my english muffin!)
Charlotte mentions Geneen Roth, and some of her (IMO) best advice: speak to yourself the way you would speak to a young child; with care, with love, and really listening.  I ALWAYS forget this! I wouldn't speak to my worst enemy the way I speak to myself.  And, of course, it's automatic.  I've been doing it for 40 years, after all.
I think I feel overwhelmed because I have very little faith in myself.  I expect to fail.  I see myself as being inept.  After all this time, after everything I've accomplished, I still feel like a failed loser. I was never one of those folks who could speak and walk with assurance, confident in my decisions and opinions.  I question everything, all the time, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, there comes a time when the questions must stop and action must be taken. And the constant, niggling, whispering self doubts are just effin' annoying!!!!!!
As soon as I got this new teaching job, for example, my brain immediately went to all the ways I could screw it up. I got really nervous because I'm teaching on my own.  Which I've done DOZENS OF TIMES!!!!!! And I'll have the complete support of the staff at the theater that hired me, for cryin' out loud! It's not like I'm directing "Spiderman: Turn Off The dark" (thank goodness!) with millions of dollars at stake. I'm directing a bunch of cute kids who already like drama in a short play.  The goal of the entire class is, basically, to have fun and learn a little bit about theater. We're gonna PLAY!!!!!!!  And yet here I am imagining all the things that could happen that will scar these poor children for life.
That has NEVER happened, in ANY class I've taught.  In fact, I've had many experiences where just the opposite has happened.  Yes, it changes them, but in GOOD ways.  And it changes me, too.  Which is why I do it: I was inspired by drama as a kid.  It was one of the few places where I wasn't terrified, where I had fun and could speak above a whisper. If I can help another kid have that experience, well, that's GOLDEN! And if they just have fun, that is totally worth it, too.

I just don't want to THINK about EVERYTHING so much!  Whether it's food or my weight or work or whatever, I just want to go with it.  My instincts are actually quite good, so why do I second (and third and fourth and on and on) guess them, all the time?
Because that's what I learned.  A long, long time ago.  But those days are gone.  It's time for a new way of doing things.
Because, frankly, the old way doesn't work.  And It's just too damn tiring!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

We're Baaaaack!

And we can call it a nearly unqualified success!  WG had a few mini-meltdowns, which were cured with either food or the "Koi Pond" app on the iPod. Last night (er, this morning) she was up until 3:30.  As was I.  Although I was coughing and hacking, which kept me awake, while she was just having fun, thankfully.

Lesson #1 Learned: DO NOT attempt to sleep 4 people in a 2-person tent, even when 2 of the 4 are small.  They wiggle around.  A LOT.  And elbows and knees are SHARP, people! (Plus, WG used Hubby's legs as a pillow the first night.  Took him a while to get the circulation going again in the morning.)

Our campsite was near the river, so on the afternoon we arrived we put the kids in their swimsuits and let them play. The water was cold, but the air was hot, and much fun was had by all. After drying off, we put on warm clothes, built a fire, and had dinner.  Why does food taste so much better outdoors?

The following morning, we all woke up at 5:30 and got an early start.  We drove out of the park to explore some nearby towns and county parks.  We discovered a very nice coffee bar/motel with a wrap-around porch, an empty playground, a visitors' center with free WiFi and super-clean bathrooms, a very cool little town in the midst of its Founders' Day Festival, and some sulphur hot springs.
With a naked guy in them.  Standing.
Not far from some people taking target practice with a .38.
We decided to save the hot springs for another time.

Lesson #2 Learned:  Try to avoid hot springs with naked men standing in them in the vicinity of gunfire.  Even if said hot springs are free.

Lesson #3 Learned: DO NOT give LG a head lamp.  He will sneak off to the bathroom down the road, in pitch darkness, on his own, without telling you.  Taking (yet another) decade off of your life. On the plus side, when he hears you calling his name in an absolute panic, he will come running back.  And also tolerate it when you hug and squeeze and kiss him repeatedly for the next 20 hours.

We took a trip to Tenaya Lake.  Again, cold, but quite refreshing.  And kinda like a bath. We also got to Tuolomne Meadow to watch the sun set. All in all, it was a great trip.  And I really hope the kids associate camping with fun.

We also received a visit from our camping neighbor's 13 month-old pit bull.  A very sweet puppy!

Now it's time to give the kids their baths and take a shower.  I've got to get to bed early: I have a cold, and I also have teacher training tomorrow for my brand-new job!!!!!!!! With Peninsula Youth Theater!!!!!!!!

Nighty night!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Isn't Technology Supposed to Make Life Easier?!?!?!??!?!

So the hard drive on my computer was replaced last Friday.  By a very nice fella who came to the house at 6:00 at night.  it worked GREAT for 4 days, and now it's on the fritz again.
I'm still waiting for a call back from Dell.  it may have to wait until Tuesday, as we're leaving tomorrow for our camping trip.  No big deal, as long as I don't have to shell out any more money.

In other news, I'm still contemplating the future.  I just found out UC Santa Cruz is hiring for their pool of theater instructors.  It's part-time, year-to-year employment, with no guarantees that I'll ever actually teach a class, but I DO have an advantage (2, actually): a friend of mine used to teach for them, and they desperately need voice teachers, which I have quite a bit of experience in.  So I have a good reference AND something they need. I've also discovered that the method I'm trained in (although not certified) apparently has NO instructors in the area.*  So my ADHD brain starts thinking "Hmmm...if I were to get certified, I'd be the ONLY such certified instructor in THE ENTIRE BAY AREA.  Which would make me a rare commodity.  And such certification would take as much time as getting a Psychology degree, but wouldn't cost as much.  And, in fact, was something I tried to do right after grad school, but didn't have the resources. Perhaps it's time to revisit this particular option."  In the meantime I'm taking my online Intro to Psych class to see if it's something I want to pursue.

(*We interrupt this post to tell you that right now I'm listening to "10 at 10" on a local radio station, in which they play 10 songs in a row from a specific year.   Today it's 1993. [The Lemonheads, anyone?]  I'm being bombarded with memories of the year I turned 24 [yes, I'm that old, shut up]: touring in "12th Night," performing on the mainstage in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" [still my favorite professional experience, ever], falling in love and getting my heart truly broken for the first time, subletting a friend's apartment in Cambridge and teaching in Andover with one of my best buddies. Walking to Harvard Square in the freezing cold because parking my car there is too bloody expensive. Duct-taping my shoes because I couldn't afford to buy a new pair. Pondering the idea of grad school. Ah, memories!)

Anyway, what I'm trying to say, in my usual, meandering, beating around the bush, roundabout way (see?!?!?!) is that it's nice to have options.  I'm not in a place where I thought I'd be by the time I hit this age, but nowadays who is?  Lately I find myself re-discovering old (and sometimes forgotten) passions. I've been trying to fit my (very) round self into a tiny square box, and I've been doing this for quite a while.  Telling myself that I didn't want certain things because I have truly believed that I cannot have them.  And also believed, maybe, I didn't deserve them.
Which makes me so incredibly sad!

So now I'm getting an arm and a leg outside of said box, maybe poking my head out and taking a look around. Who knows what I'll see?  The future is not set in stone, and, to quote my favorite Timelord, "Time can be re-written."  To quote Goethe, "Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."  And one of my favorites (from Pastor Basil King, NOT Goethe), "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid."

I have spent so much of my life being timid.  Time to change that.

Oh, and I'll let you know how the camping trip goes!

*Edit:  It turns out there ARE instructors here, just not MASTER instructors.  My bad!