Monday, November 30, 2009

Gotta Give It a Try

Tonight I ate something that someone “found” somewhere. No, it wasn’t old gum from under a desk or half an Aunt Annie’s pretzel from the food court floor. It was an enormous wild mushroom that an amateur ‘shroom hunter we know found in the woods this weekend. Why he didn’t eat it himself, I don’t know (I’m trying to not think sinister thoughts right now). I’d like to tell you the conversation that transpired as we fried this sucker up in olive oil and garlic, but it was SO funny that I had to write it into a script instead of finishing dinner. When I was done, I started thinking about all the other weird items we’ve put into our mouths throught the years. (Note: I know five Jennifers on Facebook, and I can guarantee that right now three out of the five are giggling…while the other two are praying for us.). I’m thinking more along the lines of:

Play-Doh: What kid hasn’t eating this? It’s colorful. You can make it look like food. It’s soft. Sure it smells like absolute crap, but the eyes trump the nose when you’re three. Why else do you think Hasbro makes sure the formula’s non-toxic? They know diapers and pull-ups are going to be coated in colorful #2s the day after Christmas and birthday parties. Been there. Eaten that.

Ex-Lax: Now granted, it’s been years and they may have finally wised up on this one…I hope! But back in the day, the highly intelligent makers of Ex-Lax decide it would be a smart move to make their intestinal drano the same shape/color/texture/taste as chocolate. Genius! Every child on the planet got into their parents secret medicine cabinet candy stash at one point, only to double over with the runs an hour later in the car. Been there. Eaten that. And later, every high school pothead thought it would be funny to bake some into brownies and give them to a “frenemy.” Been there. Baked that. (What are they going to do with that confession, take away my diploma? Good luck. Even I can’t find it.)

Un-labeled alcohol: Back in the underage day. When you’d gather what you could from the cabinet above the family fridge, and all meet at a friend’s house on a Saturday for Space Invaders, pizza and petting. Maybe it’s Jack Daniels, maybe it’s cooking Sherry, maybe it’s Manischewitz (only a possibility when Larry Schwartz was invited). It didn’t matter. They all got thrown up exactly the same. Been there. Drank that.

“Fit in” food: Now we all learned our lessons from youth to stop eating things from the medicine cabinet or toy box, and drinking things without first asking their proof, but this is the category that even the most respectable adult still deals with on occasion. Mostly when meeting new people or at business dinners. Examples? Say you’re at a dinner at a Korean restaurant with a group of highly successful business women, and a good friend (who sometimes reads this blog) says, “Would you like to try the raw spicy crab? It’s delicious!” Your heart might be saying, “Right! Would you like to try this tube of Vaseline Intensive Care hand lotion in my purse?” But your head says, “Moron, put the uncooked crustacean in your mouth immediately.” So you do. And it’s not bad. And you fit in. And you may even try it again. Or you may be handed monk fish liver two days later at the world’s greatest sushi restaurant by the same good friend, and your heart is saying, “Orange Play-Doh…have you learned nothing?” But again your head tells you to put it in your mouth immediately. So you do. And it’s not bad. And you fit in. And you’d even try it again. (You don’t know any places that serve Rocky Mountain Oysters in LA, do you, Kiddo?)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thnk U !

All the remnants of yesterday's Thanksgiving meal are in the fridge...the half-eaten pies, slightly burned stuffing, congealed gravy and turkey carcass I brought home for soup but will probably never touch. And as I give thanks for aluminum foil and Tupperware, I think of other things I'm grateful for. Things like:

Twitter. Okay, you social networking snobs…don’t judge me. Anyone who’s reading this uses either Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or a combination of the three. Funny how staunchly anti-Twitter some Facebookers are. And how anti-MySpace some tweeters are. A social networking caste system. I dig them all. (Granted, I never touched my MySpace after I opened it because I'm not 17 or in a band). Say what U will abt Twtr, U FB elitists, but it’s been GR8 4 me. Sure I now abbrv evrythg I write 2 save space. But I’ve met lts o GR8 ppl thru Twtr. So scrw U.

People who “get” me. Who get my sense of humor, my politics, where I’m coming from…and going. And people who don’t “get” me, but like me anyway. The overly serious or right-winged folks I know who, for one reason or another, like me despite my cynicism, constant quips and my left leanings. I like you too, despite your moronic Fox-fueled beliefs and complete lack of humor. Well, most of you. A couple of you I have plans for (insert evil laugh).

People who put others before themselves. They’re out there. Those of you who worked the soup kitchens yesterday, even though you were out of town. Those of you who gave up soccer games to work scout food drives two Saturdays in a row. Those of you who tell people to screw holiday shopping and make a charitable donation in your name instead. You know who you all are. I’d name you, but I know you’d hate it.

The person who invented cheese. And TiVo. And alcohol. And the iPod. And sushi. And laceless Chucks. And sex.

Online dictionaries and thesauruses. Also called concordances, references, sourcebooks… How else would I ever keep up with the 20-somethings I know? Or how would I have ever found out what *u*k*k* was? (Please…for the love of God...don’t look it up, Mom.)

The ability to clear the browsing history on the shared family laptop after looking up things like “*u*k*k*.”

GPS devices that allow you to tool around LA like you know what the hell you’re doing, and to find the nearest well-lit ATM at 2 a.m. (Although that condescending “Recalculating” the Garmin gal says when you don’t take her recommended turn really pisses me off. Pushy, passive-aggressive dashboard driver! I heard you the first time, but there was a dog in the road! Lighten the hell up or I’ll give TomTom a go.)

Really good music that I can listen to 100 times without getting sick of it. And the kids in the car with me who are sick to death of it but let me listen anyway. I’m sorry you know all the words to every Latch Key Kid and Eric Hutchinson song. I know all the words to every damned Barney song ever written. Consider us even.

And lastly, I'm actually thankful for my evil psychotic dog. It’s because of you that we now truly appreciate the cat.

note: I had to edit *u*k*K* from my original posting. Despite a "for the love of God" warning, people were looking it up then emailing/texting/tweeting me that they were shocked. People! If you can't abide by a "for the love of God" warning, don't shoot the *u*k*n* messenger!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Said Goodbye to Hollywood

I’m back. Yeah, I know I didn’t blog while I was in LA…sue me. The week was busy, went phenomenally well, and exceeded all expectations. Fortunately, I was raised to set the bar very low, so as long as I wasn’t mugged, shived or driven out of town on a rail my expectations would have been surpassed. But this week would have exceeded the expectations of even a normal person. So "thank you" to everyone I met who helped/encouraged/guided me, who passed on their now treasured business card, who allowed Flat Stanley onto your set, or who plied me with raw fish. You all know who you are. I adore you all. I have an extra kidney, type A+ blood and ¼ of a liver I’d happily donate to any one of you (I can’t vouch for the quality of the liver…thank you, Jim Beam).
There won’t be any name dropping in this blog entry, 'cause that ain’t my style, but I met a few famous people during my stay. Sure, I could tell you how I sat so close to Seth MacFarlane that I could have pinched him, but that would sound dumb. Yeah, I could tell you about being next to Demi Lovato at the craft services table during the filming of her show, but then I’d just come off like an ass. (And I’d be required to admit that I had no idea who the hell Demi Lovato was until 20 minutes earlier). Actually both people were very nice and rather unassuming. I was really more excited about meeting the people who write for these "celebrities." And I met some awesome writers this week who were incredibly friendly and helpful. So thanks guys. You know who you are. See the above referenced donatables. They’re yours.

A lot has changed since the last time I was in LA. The Farmers Market on Fairfax is the same, but is now surrounded by an enormous upscale mall, and the price of everything in the market basically doubled. The last time I was at the Farmer’s Market, I discovered fish tacos. This time I discovered scarves. I also discovered that my junior relatives aren’t kids anymore! My nephew who I once bathed in the sink is now way taller than me, with a deep voice, Jonas Brother face and exceedingly hairy legs. And he now refuses to bathe in the sink. The other nephew who once crammed a peanut butter sandwich into the family VCR is now waiting to start college next semester and has replaced his love of peanut butter sandwiches with taquitos (which could also fit into a VCR, if they still even exist). And my niece, the “baby” of the California faction, is in middle school and every bit the actress and honor student. Their parents and I haven’t aged a bit, however. Funny how that happened.

I saw a lot of the expected while in LA…the older Beverly Hills women with faces pulled so taut that their ears now flap when they blink; the younger women with bejeweled “dogs” the size of kittens in their purses, sharing non-fat soy milk “ice cream” cones the pooches lick-for-lick; the script writers doing revisions in the corner coffee shop so everyone can see what they do for a living, while three models pick bits off a shared bagel with their manicured talons and complain how fat they are now that they're no longer size double-0; hipsters lined up outside clubs on Sunset, not wearing enough for the chilly night air and pretending that they’re dancing about when they’re actually shivering in their tube top and skinny jeans; and the men in their Bentleys with women that look like their granddaughters but are actually their third wife (the trophy wife having aged out at 40).

But I also saw a lot of the unexpected: The high powered suit who didn’t have to give me the time of day but willingly gave advice, encouragement and contact information; the two friends who went WAY above and beyond for me; the friend who surprised me; complete strangers quickly becoming good friends; and a lot of helpfulness in a town where I had been warned to “trust no one.” Of course, I may get hugely bitten in the ass somewhere down the line, but my ass is big enough to take a chomp.
So thank you LA peeps. Your advice hasn’t fallen on deaf ears and your kindnesses will be returned. While your traffic may be deplorable, your gasoline overpriced, and your airport a royal pain in the ass…your sushi more than makes up for it. Until we meet again in February…later, dudes. Rock on. (And Dear, thanks for handling the kids solo for an entire seven days. The house looked awesome, the fish weren't dead and the boys had a great time. Now...about Los Angeles...)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

She packed her bags tonight, preflight...

Wheels up in 10 1/2 hours. I'm forgetting something. I know I am. I won't know what it is until that crucial moment when I HAVE to use it. I'll let you all know what it was when I get back. Hopefully I will not have contracted H1N1 from the screaming baby I'm bound to be seated next to. Seven hours later I will be in a rental car, probably on the wrong highway and cursing US Airways for losing my luggage. That's the "glass half empty" version.
Here's the "glass half full." This song will be playing at a ridiculously high volume in the car, and will just seem so damned appropriate. (Just hum your favorite song, Sarah from London who you can't get the playlist to work over there). By this exact time tomorrow I will hopefully be somewhere warmer, drinking something cold, eating something hot, with someone cool. Now accepting applications. Talk to you on the other side, folks. ~Suze

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

(Mostly) Alright with Me

Sitting here looking at sushi shaped flash drives got me thinking about things that I hated as a kid and how times have changed, or not. But I'm busy writing today, so here's a quickie blog:

Sushi. Then: "Raw fish? That’s so gross!"
Now: "Raw fish? Pass the wasabi."

Alcohol. Then: “That smells disgusting. Can I taste it? That tastes awful.”
Now: “I’m going to need a ride home.”

Pea Soup. Then: “It looks like vomit. I’m not touching it.”
Now: “It looks like vomit. It’s delicious.”

Liver. Then: “I hate it! It smells awful. It’s gross. You can’t make me eat it!”
Now: “I hate it! It smells awful. It’s gross. You can’t make me eat it.”

Cartoons. Then: "Yay!
Bugs Bunny's on! Hurry up everybody!"
Now: "Yay! Family Guy's on! Everybody get out of the room!"

Coffee. Then: “That smells good, can I have a sip? Ugh! That’s icky.”
Now: “Just stick a straw in the pot, would ya?”

Sex. Then: “They put what where? Get out! That is disgusting!”
Now: “ awake?”

(And awesome is this song?)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Streets of Gold

I lead a double life. People who know me only online know more about it than most people who actually know me in real life. So this blog entry will make more sense to them than to the moms at school, Scout parents and folks I actually work with. No, I'm not a hooker or a coke addict. I don't have the body for the first, and my allergies would make me sneeze out the second. I'm a writer. Well I was a writer, put it aside for kids/scouts/PTA and took it up again. I've been working on it for months, have made some great and helpful friends, and am taking the next step next week.

This coming weekend, in addition to the usual half-dozen loads of laundry and litter pan scooping, I'll be preparing for a trip to LA in nine days. That means a last minute haircut, a bit of shopping, a lot of ironing and trying to get the house ready for my week away. That's right. MY week away. The boys and husband will be on their own in Pennsylvania for seven whole days. I am leaving casseroles in the freezer, outfits layed out for Ben (I trust the older two can dress themselves) and plenty of clean underwear in all their drawers. USE THEM boys. Someone will have to get the boys to school, home from school, and both to scouts. Please remember to feed the cat and the fish. There are three fish in the tank now and I want the SAME three there when I get back. If you forget to feed the dog, that's fine. (At least our mailman will appreciate that joke).

I'm a bit worried about sticking out like a sore thumb in LA and Beverly Hills. I'm over-30, under-tanned, over-weight and under-hip. And worst of all I'm iPhone-less. I fear being arrested should I whip out my non-touchscreen cell phone in public. I'm going armed with nothing but a script, a suitcase full of TastyKakes for a Philly-transplant friend, and a smile ~ which will also stand out because it's not bleached.

There's a lot of sushi, a little Conan, a lot of laughing and a little threat of martini bars in store for me. In a dream world I'd come back with an agent, future appointments or a job offer. But I'll be temporarily satisfied if I come back sushi-sated and slightly tanned, having met some helpful people, some people that I know and some that I've only met electronically. There's the writer-turned-lawyer-turned-cat-rescuer; the surfing singer-songwriter-musician (you're listenting to him right now) and his extremely helpful manager; the in-laws; and the aforementioned Krimpet-deprived amiga. I haven't been this excited/nervous/terrified in a long time. Yes, I know odds are not fully in my favor. But you never know. Sometimes good things happen. Wish me luck...and that the kids remember to brush their teeth at least once while I'm gone.
*You can check out more music by Gavin Heaney (Latch Key Kid) by visiting

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All in All, We're Just Another Kid in the Mall

Today I willingly went to a place I normally avoid like the plague ~ the mall. When I was 13 or so and in California, I practically lived at the mall on weekends. Now I try to avoid even driving past it. It’s not really that bad of a place. I don’t know why it gives me hives. Maybe it's the traffic, the parking lot, the gaggles of giggling girls and "whatever" dudes everywhere you turn. The oddest thing is that I fondly remember being one of them. But the mall I lovingly remember had stores which no longer even exist. Such as:

Custom t-shirt shops. The stores where you’d pick your style of shirt, then the rubberized iron-on transfer of choice from a giant book. They’d fuse your Bay City Rollers or Star Wars transfer onto your shirt with those giant presses that are probably now used to make paninis somewhere. The shirt would smell of melted rubber for days. And if you were lucky it would last about four washes before it started peeling. Somewhere in this house is an old Shaun Cassidy jersey. Or what’s left of it.

Orange Julius. The grandpa of smoothie joints. Sure they’re still around in some places as part of the mall Dairy Queen, but you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting one back in the day. Some malls even had two. Such a simple menu, two Julius flavors. No wonder they’ve been trampled by the competitors. Orange and strawberry just can’t compare to Very Berry Blitz with Soy Protein and Wheat Grass. (Excuse me, I just threw up a little).

The video arcade. The arcade was the pickup joint for the too-young-to-drive set (if the guys could take their eyes and hands off the games long enough to notice you in your Calvins.) If a boy challenged you to a game of air hockey, you knew you were in. Until you wiped the floor with him, then you were out again. I miss Centipede and Pac Man ~~ I refused to be relegated to Ms. PacMan, that ghost gobbling whore in a bow.

The mall movie theater. None of our area malls have attached movie theaters, but they all seemed to back in the day. Which was perfect for us less than honest teens. “Dad could you drop us off at the mall? We want to see ‘The Black Hole’ for the third time.” Parents would be so grateful to get you out of the house for a few hours that they’d drop you off, watch you buy your PG tickets, walk past the minimum-wage ticket ripper then happily drive away. Then you’d leave your theater and walk over to see Animal House or later, Porky’s. Of course you would rely on the one friend in the group who had the PG film to give you a crash course on it in case your parents suddenly got a clue. Which they never did.

The record store. This is where the majority of my babysitting money was spent. Hours sorting through LPs (for the kids reading this: they were big black CDs with tiny holes in the middle) and cassette tapes (spooled brown ribbon in a plastic case) and 45s (medium black CDs with big holes in the middle). If your mall’s lucky enough to still have one, got there quick. It'll be gone next week.

Today’s mall adventure revealed that while a lot has changed since I was a mall rat, a lot has remained the same. Parents still dump off gangs of pre-drivers looking to pass the time and hook up with the opposite sex. Girls hang with the girls and boys with the boys, until they pair up at the food court over a slice from Sbarro. I may take my husband on a mall date sometime in the near future. We can hold hands and kiss while sharing a plain old Orange Julius. Nothing gives me more pleasure than making 13-year-olds squirm. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pick up my son from middle school. In my bathrobe.