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Friday, February 27, 2004

Adventures in Hollywoodland...

Hey look everyone! I just learned how to post pictures!

From left to right, top row: The beautiful and lovely Mary and the Amazing Averie. Talented Taryn and Charming Caris.
Bottom row: My "TOM" Girls; Celindarella, Mary, Ave, Linz. Mitch and Caris in "Robin Hood".

This week has been, to say the least, exhausting, but more exciting than words can express. However, I'll try. :o)

Mom is progressing well. Her tests of late have shown no abnormalities and therefore, both her neurologist and oncologist have determined that the embelism that caused her TIA (mild stroke) was caused by a "rogue" clot brought on by the cellulitis in her leg which moved up to her brain. Since the cellulitis is now under control (thank God!), she's doing well and can be left alone for the nights. Which means that Charlie has been able to sleep here at home. Jenice has been spending the last two days with Mom so that I could attend the meeting with Caris' prospective agent AND take her to her call on the movie set.

Yesterday, Caris had a 7:30 am call in Hollywood's Wilshire District as I previously mentioned. We had a huge storm here, and lost power temporarily. I was very concerned about driving the 45 miles to the location in the bad weather and so we decided that we would leave home at 5:00 am in order to give ourselves plenty of time and drive at a safe pace. California labor laws for minors in the entertainment industry require that kids bring at least 3 hours of schoolwork with them to the set and the studio must provide teachers to instruct them for that period of time when they are not in production (actual filming time). So, along with the wardrobe that they asked us to bring, and all of her paperwork (work permit, Coogan law account), Caris had to bring her school backpack with her homework.

Knowing only the name of the project and that Caris would be an "uppercrust private schoolgirl", we assumed that perhaps it might be a kid movie (kinda like Harry Potter). As it turns out, "Mrs. Harris" is about the story of the love-affair- turned-sour between Mrs. Jean Harris (played by Annette Benning) and Dr. Herman Tarnower (played by Sir Ben Kingsley) of Scarsdale (NY) Diet fame. It's an HBO made-for-tv movie which will air in the fall or winter of this year. Mrs. Harris was the headmistress of the Madeira High School for Girls and Caris would be playing one of the students. The movie is set in the 70's.

We arrived at the crew/extras parking lot in plenty of time and were shuttled, along with 150 other girls and their parents, to the set location. Being that this was Caris' first booking, we were both very nervous and didn't quite know what to expect. So we just kind of followed the other girls and moms (or dads) and did what they did. First, they had us turn in her work permit to the studio teaching staff. From there, they sent us to wardrobe where they fitted Caris in a school uniform. She had to go through about three pairs of shoes to find some for her. We actually brought shoes, slip, and uniform shirt which Caris had borrowed from Taryn and Caitlin the night before, and one of the wardrobe people loved her shoes and blessed her for bringing the shirt, but another wardrobe person decided to just deck her out completely in their own department wardrobe...shoes, shirt, and all. All the while we stood in line and took all of this in, Caris kept saying how much she wished Taryn were here with her. So many of the girls knew each other, had worked together before, or came into the situation as friends who signed up for background work together. She was right. This would have been perfect for Taryn as well and all that much more wonderful for Caris to have her best friend here with her. She never stopped thinking about her. After Caris changed into her uniform, she was instructed to go back to Wardrobe and get an approval. They felt her sweater was too large, and so they went through about 2 more sweaters and a blazer before they found one for her. The wardrobe person that helped her exclaimed.."Girl, you are TINY!" Which made her smile. After he approved of the fit, even though her sleeves were a bit long and he cuffed them under, he sent her hair and makeup.

As Caris and I were walking back to hair and makeup, this short, round, troll of a woman (very scary!) was walking out with a few people barking orders here and there. Caris and I were smiling and talking, very excited about the whole process, and Caris pulled on the sleeve of her blazer and said, "do you think the sleeves are a little long?". I smiled and giggled in response. Just then, this horrible woman stopped dead in her tracks with her entourage of people, grabbed Caris by the arm and loudly said to her.."Listen, people are different sizes and not everyone is the same. If you're going to make nasty remarks about the wardrobe...."

Caris' face went white. She was mortified. She said in a very scared little voice; "I wasn't doing that."

"Oh yes you were. I heard you. And I heard your mother giggling."

Her wardrobe assistant, Bob, who had helped Caris tie her tie earlier, broke in; "She wasn't doing anything. What are you doing?" Why are you doing this?"

Obviously, this woman was the Costume Designer and she was apparantly under a lot of stress. Bad timing for us, Caris was her "victim of the moment" and she let loose on her. She continued to hold Caris by the arm and I stepped up; "She wasn't complaining! She was just talking to me, and we weren't making fun of the clothes!" She was hearing none of it. Not from me, not from Caris, not from Bob. Caris looked at me, terror on her face. I could tell she was afraid this woman was going to throw her off the set. For what? For nothing. The woman made an about face and she went into the classroom/auditorium where other girls were, dragging Caris along with her, and she started ordering some of the girls to start switching sweaters and blazers with each other. Poor Caris. I kept looking at her, wondering if she was going to be ok and if I should step in. But she rolled with the flow as this woman did her switching out process, finding that other girls' sweaters weren't fitting them properly either. In the end, Caris and these other girls were left with sweaters or blazers that fit them better, and grumpy Costume Designer lady just disappeared somewhere else. I called Caris over to me. I asked her if she was ok. She wasn't. I could tell that she was microseconds away from tears.

"Why did she do that? I didn't do anything."

"I know, Sweetie. Shake it off. Don't take it personally. She's under a lot of pressure and she's barking at everyone."

"I was afraid she was going to send me away."

"She can't. She doesn't have the authority to do that. Don't worry. Let's go to hair and makeup. You ok? Do you want to stay?"

"Yes, I'll be ok, but now I'm scared to death of her."

"Don't be. There are a lot of girls here. She's already forgotten you and she's barking at someone else."

We went to hair and make up. As it turns out, I was right. The makeup and hair artists all said the same thing. Don't worry about her. She barks at everyone. Once we were done there, we were sent to "school". Caris had to report to a studio teacher and sit with her group and do her schoolwork until she was called to shoot. Once she was settled in with her class for the day, I asked her if she would be ok for me to leave and go to the parents holding area. She met her teacher, got out her books, and started working. She gave me the "ok" sign. I stood there for a minute and took in the surreal moment. Here we were, in this beautiful, historic building (Wilshire Ebell Theater), chaos all around us, and here were all of these girls, beautifully attired in school uniforms (burgundy blazers, sweaters, and socks, white button down collared shirts, blue, burgundy and grey ties, black penny loafers, and grey, pleated skirts...very proper!) actually sitting down to do schoolwork. If I had walked into that room not knowing what was going on here, I would have thought that I was actually at a private girls school. Ironic that they really were doing their own actual schoolwork, but not actually all students at the same school.

After all this, it was now 9:30. Two hours after call time and we were just getting her settled in. I went to the parents waiting area and found a little corner to catch a breath. I could tell that so many of these parents were "old hats" at this. They had their own folding chairs and brought knitting, or artwork, or books to read. Some brought laptops, others were on cellphones. Some of them knew each other and gathered in their groups to chat. Again, another surreal scene to me. Me? I found a place on the floor and opened my Dr. Phil book (YES, I'm STILL trying to work through it!).

Every now and then, one of the moms I was sitting next to would ask me questions; "Is this your daughter's first call?" "How did she get involved?" "Is she working on other projects?" "Does your daughter model?" I would answer, and then I would ask some questions of my own.."How about your daughter?" "What happens next?" "What do we do about their school absence?" "Should I call her school?" etc. I figured I could pick their brains if they were experienced in all of this since I was a newbie. I actually learned quite a lot. I learned that I am SO unlike these other people. Caris did all of this on her own. She brought us the information. She told us she wanted to do it. She told us how to go about it. It was HER desire to do this work...not mine. I was simply the catalyst by which these things could be put into action. Get her to where she needs to go, fill out the paperwork. BUT, this was Caris' deal. I was very proud of her efforts, AND I was proud of her parents for not being "stage parents". We provided the ability for her to pursue her dreams, but we did not push her into it. I could tell that this was "big business" for some of these parents. I smiled.

One of the production assistants would come in every hour or so and tell us how things were going along and when they would be breaking for lunch. Some of the girls had been on set since 6:30 and would be breaking for lunch first. Then the 7:00 girls, then the 7:30 girls. I would walk down to the "classroom" every half hour and check on Caris. But, I never saw her. I assumed by that, that she was on set. I would later find that my assumption had been correct. The first opportunity I had to see her was 4 hours from the time I first left her, when they let her break for lunch. We walked over to where lunch was being catered; a beautiful church down the block from the location. It seems a lot of these buildings are often used by movie studios for location shoots, so they rent out their facilities to the studios for parking lots and places for crew/cast meals. While we munched on bbq chicken breast, rice, and veggies (Caris had jalapeno mac and cheese!) we talked about what she had been doing. What it was like on the set, what the shot was about, etc. She said that Mrs. Harris (Miss Benning) came in to lecture the girls about behavior, schoolwork, society and their place in it. I asked her if Miss Benning was as beautiful in person as she is on screen. She said she is very beautiful AND very funny too. She kept giggling when she delivered her lines and she would talk and joke with the girls. Caris said it was hard not to stare at her and hang on every work she said and that the director had to keep telling the girls that they were supposed to be "bored rich school girls" who didn't care what the headmaster was saying. But they were having a hard time doing that because they were so fascinated by her. I wished that I could have been a mouse in Caris pocket! Caris also said that they kept moving the girls around in their seats for certain shots. They would move a girl out of a primary shot simply because her shoes weren't "right" and they didn't want them to show...details like that. Ahhhh, movies!

After lunch, the girls were told that they had "wrapped" (finished shooting their scenes for the day and were no longer needed) and could return their uniforms to wardrobe. Now, here's the interesting part. Because minors are required to put in 3 hours of schooling a day, some of them didn't get to put in their time because they were in production. So, even if they were done using them for filming, that didn't mean they could leave. They still had to put in their time. In order for the girls to be able to leave the set and collect their pay voucher, they had to be signed off by their studio teacher that they had completed their 3 hours of schoolwork. Many of the girls were able to leave because they weren't used as much on the set and got their school time in. But Caris was on set for most of the time and she only had 1 hour of school time in. She told me as we were walking back for lunch that she still had some work to do. So, we turned her wardrobe in, and she went back to "school". Since there were so many girls checking out and collecting their pay vouchers, it was going to be a long wait anyway. She and I sat in the classroom/auditorium. Her teacher signed her report card, gave her "glowing" citizenship marks, and we got in the line to check out. As we were waiting, a group of people came down from the set. Sir Ben Kingsley was among them and as he turned the corner, he brushed against my arm. I quietly said to Caris, "that was Ben Kingsley". She had no idea who I was talking about. That made me laugh. We were told that there was a possibility that she could be called back next week. I asked her if she wanted to work if they called. She said, "Yes, I just don't wanna run into that awful woman again." I laughed again. She is so untouched by all of this hullaballoo. I like that.

As we walked back to the parking lot at the end of the day I asked her...

"So Caris, pretty cool for the first time, huh? Did you like it? Was it fun? Because if it's not fun for you, it's not worth it."

"Yes, it was fun, except for that woman. But I had fun, it was cool. There's just one thing that would make it better."

"What's that?"

"I wish Taryn were here."

"I know, Honey. Maybe soon she will be. I'd be happy to be her set guardian if her parents would let her come."

"I know. Thank you. Thank you for everything."

Having been up since 4:00 am, I knew she was tired. She looked tired. Yet she still had drama practice tonight for "Little Shop". I told her to lean the seat back and sleep while I drove us home. She did. As I drove, I thought of what had just transpired that day. Little did I know when I was her age that someday I would be doing these things with my beautiful, talented kids. First Averie, and now Caris. I was so grateful that they let me share all of this with them. I was tired from a truly incredible couple of weeks with no breather. But I felt so blessed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Interesting Twists and Turns...

Today, before Caris and I left for the appointment with the agent, her beeper went off again...

Turns out they were still looking for girls for the "Mrs. Harris" movie which was going to shoot on Thursday. I asked Caris if she wanted me to call on it, just to see what would come of it. She said YES! So I called and talked to the Booking Agent. I told him I was calling for Caris and he pulled her up in the system...

"Caris...Caris...oh yes, here she is. Oh my God! She's perfect for this! Why didn't you call in before?"

"Well, she has an appointment with an agent at the same time as your project does wardrobe fittings, so I wasn't sure we could make it."

"That's not an issue now. Does she want to work tomorrow?"

I looked over at Caris, who was listening on the other phone. She shook her head yes.

"Yes, she wants to work."

"Awesome! She's great for this. I will book her now. Keep your pager on. We'll call you tonight with details and call time."

"Ok, thanks a bunch!"

"No...thank YOU. Have fun tomorrow!"

On the drive to the agent's, which is about a 45 minute drive from our home in Costa Mesa to Beverly Hills, Caris and I talked about the movie call.

"Are you excited?"

"Oh my gosh...I'm SO excited. I wish that Taryn could come too."

"I know Sweetie. But we'll just see how things go, and we'll tell her all about it and maybe then, her mom and dad will let her do it."

"Yeah, I hope so."

So, we spent all of 5 minutes in the agent's office. All she did was take her portfolio and her resume, talk with Caris one on one for a few minutes, tell Caris she was cute (which she is!), ask about her printwork and her background work, thank us for coming, and said she'd call us on Friday.

Mostly, we spent all of our time on the drive home talking about the movie project. Both of us were very nervous. HOW can I possibly get a job when I have a full time job on my hands with all of this stuff? And THIS is so much more rewarding than anything anyone could pay me for; watching my kids realize their dreams.

Sure enough, the beeper went off again at 7:30 just the way the Booking Agent said. Be at such and such a location, at such and such a time, bring such and such with you, and don't be late! The rest of the evening was spent gathering work permits, wardrobe, effects, homework, etc. We have to be on set at 7:00 am in the Wilshire District in LA. Caris will be playing a student at an upscale, private girls' school. That's about all we know. It's raining like crazy outside and it looks like the storm is going to continue. We'll be leaving at 5:00 am, just to be safe. Tonight the prayers will be for protection, safety, and most of all, a fun experience for Caris.

By the way; I'm pretty sure that Averie, Bobby, Mary, Celinda, Katio, et. al. could kick some serious comedy ass at The Improv. Isn't that right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Breath of Fresh Air...

I'm about to leave and take Mom to the oncologist and then for an echocardiogram (sp?), but before I do, I thought we could all use some really great news. It's especially nice to have something wonderful to help carry me through the day.

Yesterday, I was taking a break in between doctor visits. I came home to have a bite to eat while Jenice stayed with Mom. Averie got home from work and I told her what was happening with her Grandmother and in the process I began to vent about my frustrations with how things are being handled and how much I miss Charlie. As we were talking, I heard a funny "beeping" sound. I looked at Averie, and wondered out loud if that was her phone. I knew it wasn't my phone and she verified that it wasn't hers. Turns out, it was Caris' work pager. That pager hasn't beeped ONCE since she was listed with Kids Background Talent/Central Casting back in November. Suddenly, we were BOTH running to the bedroom to find the pager. The number listed was definitely LA. I called the number while Averie stood with me. Sure enough, it was for a casting/wardrobe call for a project called "Mrs. Harris." Caris fit the profile of requirements to a T.

I wasn't quite sure what to do. Should I call her at school? Should I wait? Would she lose the job if I waited until after school? She had to report the next day (Tuesday) for wardrobe if we accepted the job. I knew that she already had a singing engagement at Disneyland on Tuesday and project times would conflict. Averie urged me to call her and have her paged at school. She would definitely want to know what was going on. However, my fear was that if I did call her at school, she would think that something had happend to her grandmother and I didn't want to worry her that way. Averie still urged. She would want to know.

I did call and have her paged. While Averie and I waited for her to call back, the phone rang. Expecting it to be Caris, I was surprised by a male voice.

"Mrs. H?"


"Caris' mom?"


"This is M**** from **** Talent in Beverly Hills"


"I'm calling on behalf of Mr. ****. He saw Caris at a showcase about a week ago?"

"Yes, she was there."

"Well, Mr. **** would like to speak with you and Caris about representing her."

(silent pause while I collected my thoughts, yet inside I was SCREAMING wildly!)

"Wow! That's wonderful!"

"Can you and Caris come to our office tomorrow at 3:00?"

"Actually, Caris has a call for wardrobe for a project tomorrow."

"Oh, she's working...that's great! Well, by all means, she should take that. When does the project shoot?"


"Ok, can you come on Wednesday?"

"Yes! Wednesday would be perfect!"

"Great, we'll see you Wednesday at 3:00."

"Thank you. We'll be there"

I hang up, and Averie is right there. "Well? What was that?" I told her what was going on and expressed to her my disbelief in how things were moving so fast. She was genuinely excited for her sister and said.."This is going to be Caris' year!" It could very well be, I agreed.

Caris called back and not only was she excited about all of this, she had some great news of her own. She and her best friend Taryn had landed the role of Audrey for Little Shop of Horrors! The major roles had been double-cast and she was thrilled to be sharing it with Taryn. Now we had a bit of a scheduling problem. Would she go to the project call in Los Angeles, or would she stand by her prior commitment to sing at Disneyland? It was actually an easy choice. She prioritized and considered her reputation with her music director. She would sing. There would be other calls for work, but she had a prior commitment that she had to uphold. We would go to see the agent and perhaps he would have work for her. I was very proud of her not only for her mature deductive reasoning, but for knowing that people were counting on her and she needed/WANTED to follow through.

After Caris and I got off the phone, Averie and I celebrated for her sister. It was turning out to be a good day after all. I had to get back to Mom and get her to her appointment at her neurologist. While I was walking her into the doctor's office, Caris' pager went off again...another project call.

Looks like Averie was right. It could very well be Caris' year.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Heartfelt Thanks...

I thank you for your love. Please keep it coming. Can't begin to tell you how much it's needed right now.


Haven't heard from New Directions. Considering they said they'd let me know on Friday, and they didn't...I'll take that as another rejection and move on.

Charlie's mom is better, but we're still struggling. She can't be left alone, and so between Charlie's sister Jenice, Charlie, and myself, we've become full-time caregivers. I've had the opportunity to spend one afternoon and evening with Charlie since last Wednesday. The rest of the time, he's been staying nights at his mom's. It's taking a toll. We could use some downtime alone...considering we haven't even been away for a weekend together since, well I think it was Sept. 2001. It's time.

I'm doing everything I can to keep positive and hold it together, but right now, it's difficult. Sorry to be a downer lately. I'm a little spent, and like Averie, I think that Charlie is definitely wearing himself thin and it worries me.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Rough Seas

Though it's had it's "up" moments (and I've really tried to concentrate on those), it's been a bit of a tough week. Fair warning: I'm going to ramble, and I really need to. So please bear with me.

Last Friday night, things took a bit of a bad turn for Charlie's mom. Her condition, called "cellulitis", despite her oncologist's best attempts to control, has returned with a vengence. As a result, we spent Valentine's Day in the emergency room of the hospital. We were there from 5 am to 6 pm, when she finally was admitted and given a proper room. It wasn't the most ideal way to spend Valentine's Day, but the upside was, every female in the house (except Shanny) got roses from some sensible male in their lives. Two dozen reds for me, one dozen peachy pinks for Averie, and a half dozen pinks for Caris. The house smells fabulous!

Once Mom was admitted to the hospital, things with the cellulitis got better, and because Caris had an agent's showcase in LA on Sunday, Charlie's sister and her hubby took over sitting with Mom at the hospital and Charlie and I were both able to take Caris north.

Though she was nervous, Caris did very well, and seemed quite pleased with her performance. Usually, she's very critical of herself, even though she need not be. So it was a great feeling to see her walk out of the audition room with a HUGE smile on her face. When we asked her how it went, she was very excited to tell us that they had noted on her resume that she was a singer as well as an actress and they asked if she would sing for them right then and there. She said, "Yes!" and confidently sang a few bars of "I Still Believe" from Miss Saigon. It's really wonderful to see her progress and not be shy when asked to slate or deliver a monologue or sing on demand. We were very proud of her and could really feel her excitement and her sense of accomplishment. It was a good day in that sense.

I had a callback on one of the interviews from last week. On Thursday, I went back to New Directions for Women, a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for women. They were looking for an HR Administrator, and though my background is in Payroll, much of my experience came in dealing with Human Resource issues. The position is part-time, 25-30 hours per week (perfect!), the office is small (3 other women), the work is rewarding, and I really feel like it's everything I was looking for. Something that really makes a difference in people's lives. Not about career, not about money, not about corporate egos. I want this one. The Executive Director, a very personable and friendly woman by the name of Robin, seemed affable and open and I think that I represented myself well. Because it was out of the corporate sector, and because it was designed as a "safe haven" for women, I honestly felt that I didn't have to worry about whether I had the "appearance" they were looking for. I could be myself and I would be seen and heard for what I had to offer. I felt like I mattered. She said there were 3 other candidates, but that she would let me know by Friday. For the first time in a long time, I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of my mother. I didn't fully realize it until Caris and I were at Jenice's (Charlie's sister) house having lunch and we were talking with her about Mom's condition and how she was improving and coming home today. Jenice had just had foot surgery last week and couldn't really do much but keep her feet up, so Charlie was picking Mom up and getting her home while the three of us shared lunch and a visit. The subjects of mothers and grandmothers arose and suddenly I remembered the date. Caris felt the impact a little more than I did and wept, which started Jenice and I on the same track. Though I smiled through it, I couldn't help but think of her the rest of the day and how much I miss her. I said to Caris as we drove home in the rain; "Grandma would be SO proud of you and Averie and Bry....so very proud. I wish she was here to see all of you." Caris gave me a loving caress.

Later on in the afternoon, Charlie was concerned about his mother being alone in the house after just getting out of the hospital and he made a remark about how frail she seemed and not quite herself. So he took her home, got her settled, and came home real quick to grab a few things to spend the night at her house, then went back to make her some dinner. Caris, preparing to leave for Utah on Thursday, needed a few things from Target for the trip, so she and Bry and I went to Target. Then we went over to Mom's so that Caris could see her before she left. Things weren't going so well. Charlie was on the phone trying to get ahold of her doctor.

He said when he arrived there, she was sitting in the dark, in the kitchen, and hadn't moved since he had left her. She was awake, but just not "there". She couldn't form coherent sentences, her right hand was limp at her side. When the kids and I got there, expecting to see a woman happy to be home, she was not herself and she didn't recognize me. Charlie feared that in the time she had been released from the hospital and he had gotten her home, she had suffered a mild stroke. The doctor told him to get her back to the hospital. Caris, Bry, and I helped Charlie get her into the car and then we headed home to wait. The ride home was silent though I kept asking them if they were ok, if they needed to talk about anything, but neither wanted to speak and I could feel the great sense of worry. Caris wondered out loud if she should go on her snow trip to Utah since the last time she went away, her grandfather died. I told her that we would wait for word from Daddy. She asked me to take her to Taryn's house so she could be with her friend. I did as she asked. I could understand her need for comfort.

When I got home, Averie was just getting home from work, and so I had to tell her what was happening with her grandmother. She, being the tenderhearted person that she is, wanted desperately to go to her. I wanted to go myself, but I knew that Averie needed to be with her grandmother, and I needed to deal with Bryson. I didn't want to leave him alone at home, and I knew that he couldn't handle being at the hospital. So I told Averie to first calm down, wipe her tears so she could drive, and go and be with Daddy and spend some time with Grandma. She left immediately.

As Bry and I waited at home, we cuddled under warm blankets on the couch and I asked him if he was ok and if he needed to ask any questions or if he wanted to talk about anything. He didn't want to. I'm sure he was thinking the same thing as I was...please let her be ok. Thoughts ran through my head about the untimely irony of the events of this particular day in the history of our family. I don't pray much anymore, but I sent up a loving thought of healing. For all of us.

Averie came home about 11. She said that Charlie had told her to go home and get some rest. That it would be awhile before they got any news and the emergency room was quite busy. I asked Ave if she got to spend some time with her grandmother and how she seemed. She said she was having trouble with her speech, and she seemed tired and frail, but she seemed stable. I could tell that Averie was relieved that she went and I was grateful for that. I know in her head she was thinking that she never got to say goodbye to my mother and God forbid that that should happen again. I understand the need to be present.

At 1, there was still no word and I got Bryson and Caris off to bed. Averie continued to work on her essays, and finally, at 2 am, I went to sleep. At 3, the phone rang. Charlie said that he was taking Mom home. They did feel that she had a mild stroke, but there was nothing to do but get her home and make her comfortable. She would be taking some blood thinners, and she would be a bit "out of it" for a little while until she regained her strength, but that she could go home. Charlie said he would sleep at her house for a few hours until Jenice arrived to take over and he would meet me at the church to see Caris off on her trip. I asked if he thought Caris should go, and he said that she should.

At 7, Caris and I got her bags into the van and drove over to the church to meet up with her Youth Group. Charlie arrived a few minutes later. While he talked with Caris and I about how Mom was doing, John Ordaz drove up. For those of you who don't know, John is the husband of the girl who told lies about me at my work and basically helped me lose my job. Like the good Christians they are, they attend this church (which used to be our church as well), but I wasn't aware that John or Kim might be going on this trip. I didn't think they had anything to do with the Youth program anymore. It was awkward, and difficult for me.

I know it sounds petty of me after all these months, but there is still SO much pain. I guess, with all the emotions rising up over losing my mother, and the possiblity of Charlie losing his, and then seeing the girl who I feel stabbed me in the back and betrayed me with a smile on her face behind her "Christian-eze", it was just all a little much for me. Kim came up behind me and squeezed my shoulder, "Hi Pua". I smiled quickly, said hello, and then turned my back to her. She got more than she deserved in that moment. I only wanted to tell her to get her hand off of me before I bitch slapped her. That was the first time in 7 months that I had seen her and all I could feel was bile rising in my throat. I hate her. I just fucking hate her. I hate her fakeness. I hate that she has everyone snowed. I hate that she's a liar and a master manipulator, and I hate that she gets away with it. I hate the pain she has caused me and as a result, my family. I hate that I once called her friend not knowing all the while, she was setting me up. I don't think I've ever hated anyone in my life. But I hate her. That may all seem less than mature, but right now, I don't care.

Charlie and I gave Caris a hug and wished her a happy trip. I was happy she could get away from here for a little while. I wished the same for Charlie and me. But there are things to deal with, calls to make, family to talk to, a frail mom to care for. Life goes on and the work that goes with it. For now, some sleep without worry would be a welcome change.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Callback for Caris...

This afternoon at 3. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, February 12, 2004


After catching up on blogs, it seems that everyone has the "travel bug". I decided to hop on the bus, but I started to feel sorry for myself. Especially after I visited Celinda and Taryn's sites and discovered that they, in their young lives, have been to FAR more states in our country than I have. For me, a mere 27%. As such...

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Then, I thought about my kids, and how the girls have both been to more states than I have. They got to "touch" the East Coast with their DC and NYC trips. That thought actually made me happy. You always say that you want your kids to see so much more of the world than you did. And they have.

So since my own map looks kinda like a 50/50 bar, I decided to go one step farther and make a "Countries Visited" map. Thus...

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

Okay, so I've only visited 1% of the countries that make up our planet, but check it out...at least the US is 100% covered in this way! I love a loophole!

Too long, I know...

Wow...so much has transpired since I last blogged. And yet, it seems so little. Which is why I tend to "stay away." The feeling that I have a lack of things to say, or that I just feel "meh" about it. Since last Wednesday, when I decided that perhaps Dr. Phil isn't the a**hole I thought he was (on the subject of weight), I've at least reached my goal of losing 5 pounds this week. It sounds so meaningless when you think in the grand scheme of it, I'm looking for a whopping 100 pound loss. At least, that's the way I thought before OR the "thinking change" I'm trying to put into action. So, I'm breaking it down, point by point, so that I can wrap my weight-warped brain around the accomplishments of the last 7 days that have brought me to this place:

* I've promised myself that I would keep away from the negative thoughts that would sabotage my progress. I don't call myself names first thing in the morning when I look in the mirror.

* Despite the fact that I've had a myriad of reasons to run to the pantry and binge because it's smack full of yummies and stress is taking a toll on me, (I disagree with Dr. Phil about getting rid of the "trigger" foods that my family loves. I'm the one with the problem, why should they suffer while I'm learning to control myself?) I haven't.

* I've honestly started asking myself "are you hungry?" Something that I haven't done in YEARS.

* I've started taking my vitamins again.

* God, I REALLY missed fruit! I had NO idea how much! (I was an Atkins addict for a year.)

* Water isn't so difficult to drink.

* I've gotten up in the mornings and walked. Even though I hate it. And I've progressively walked a little more each day. First few days, just the treadmill and gazelle. The next few days, outside in the park; two laps, then three, then four. On Sunday, I walked around the Dunes a few times with Shanny. I think I'm about up to 45 minutes now, where last week, I could only manage 20.

* I've stuck to my 20 grams of fat, 1000 calories a day. On Tuesday, I had a half teaspoon of hollandaise on my salmon, just to taste it. And I didn't guilt out over it.

Now, if I just say to myself (as I often have in the past) "just 5 pounds, big deal," I could find a multitude of reasons to sigh and moan and give in to the negative thinking and go eat a huge IHOP breakfast. But since I've broken it down into the work that I put into "just 5 pounds", well, it IS a big deal. A really big deal. And I'm happy with it. Yay me!

On the job hunt...

Ok, this is where the negative thinking has been a bit harder. But I've pushed through the pain. I've had three interviews this week. One phone interview, and two personal interviews. One, I'm very excited about though I'm not allowing myself to feel it or express it. I'm afraid. Every other time I've done that, I've been painfully disappointed.

The thing is I'm really good at what I do. I'm a great payroll accountant and an incredible administrative assistant. I worked hard at it all these years. It's ok for me to say I'm good at something. The problem is that they LOVE me over the phone...I represent well and then they want to see me. And I swear to you, I'm not imagining this, once they SEE me, they change their mind. This is Southern California. The Orange Curtain, as Averie likes to call it. It's all about appearance. If you don't look good, you're invisible. Don't get me wrong; I'm hardly hideous. But, I just don't have the "look" for corporate Newport Beach or Orange County. I'm overweight.

These days, when looking over ads and postings for positions, I always pass on the ones that say "professional appearance." Why, you ask? Because I can walk in as fine and well-put-together as Camryn Manheim, with a great resume detailing everything they want, but one look and it's "thanks for coming, we'll get back to you."

So, I've decided at 43, I'm allowed to be choosy. I've put in my dues. I'M deciding where and when I go, and who gets the pleasure of my company. After a "dry spell" where I was wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt, I've come around. Like Al Franken's Stuart, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonit, people like me.

I like me too.

And finally...notes from the Mom:

P.S. to Averie - I love you and I'm proud of you for your accomplishments this month.

P.S. to Caris - Good luck at the audition today Bunny...knock 'em dead!

P.S. to Bryson - NICCCEEE haircut Grommet! :::grrrowllll:::

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The Promise of a "New Eye" View...

A couple of things have come up recently. I've hesitated to write because the muse didn't decide to show up until just now. Making the suitable entrance I suppose. For some reason, I wait for her to whack me over the head with her "Magic Glitter Writing Wand", as if I can't think of anything on my own. The thing about that, though, is that when she does show up, it's not usually that grand an entrance. At least in my eyes. Charlie (and a few kind others) say that's not true, and I didn't need her, or her inspiration, in the first place. It's a matter of positive thought, and then positive DO. With that in mind, I carry on.

First, I think that I should put a warning in place. In all fairness to my darling Pseudo-Daughter, who constantly comes lovingly to my rescue on this subject, I say; Mary, I'm going to talk about Dr. Phil now. Protect your eyes.

That having been said, please lace up your cross-trainers and hop on the treadmill with me. Yes, that's right kiddies! I here and now admit that I caved. I'm a caver. I went and bought his book. His book that I so vehemently debased as merely another "Look at me, I wrote ANOTHER book! Go buy it now followers. And while you're about it, stop and have a cup of kool-aid." publicity stunt last August:

...:: Thursday, September 25, 2003 ::...
The High Priestess is.........ambivalent...

Damn that Dr. Phil. Just when I got to the point that I'm ok with myself, and mind you, it took me forty years to get here, Dr. Phil says that I shouldn't be. I should not be comfortable in my own skin. Because my skin is too large. Well, that just sucks. I wonder out loud if he just wants to sell books. I wonder out loud why my moments of blissful denial are so short lived. I wonder why there are no chips in the house.

Screw Dr. Phil.

I spent my money to find out what the "seven keys" are. Oh don't get me wrong, after all I've been through, I KNOW what the keys are. And yes, it pretty much sticks in my craw that I'm paying for it again. But I'm going to list this expenditure under "Motivation", because dammit, I need some! Though I've been saying the words, "I'm ok with me, I'm ok with me," they never made the actual journey from my mouth to my heart. We all know about my heart. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times; I am a gelatinous mass of emotion.

So, as I have mentioned, I read Mo'Nique's book "Skinny Women Are Evil", and laughed my wide load off over much of it, there were aspects of it that made me increasingly sad. I know she can relate as a large girl and I appreciate her being a cheerleader for us "FAT" (Fabulous And Thick) ladies. But the fact is, now that she's a rich celebrity who can afford anything she wants (and says so), somehow, somewhere along the line, she lost me. Some of it just wasn't funny anymore. I still suffer the angst of an invisible fat girl in a supremely shallow land. More than that, no matter what I say about how I'm coping, I'm not happy.

Now, I haven't gone ga-ga. I bought the book about two weeks ago, and I'm only on Chapter 4, which outlines Key One: "Right Thinking". I've picked it up. I've put it down. I've gone about life. I'm taking it slow. I figure that every other time I've bought the ticket and taken the ride known as "Diet Sucker's Hell," I've gone gung-ho, only to continue to chase the carnival from one town to another. It is an elusive goal, and for someone like me, it always ends in heartache. I've lost LARGE amounts of weight; 40, 50, 60 pounds, and enjoyed the fruits of that labor for very short periods of time. The surprized looks on friends faces when they haven't seen me for awhile, the compliments, the size 10 jeans and sexy black boots. The problem is, after awhile, the fruit isn't enough and I'm diving right back into the burgers and fries. As an addict, that is my drug of choice; food.

So, this time, I'm taking it all in. I'm putting aside my Dr. Phil bias and listening. Slowly. He's saying shit I don't like. But I expected that. He's asking me to do things I don't want to do. Also expected. There is some fear involved, and that makes me angry. It pisses me off that my entire world revolves around my inability to come to grips with something that is so basic to life. I admit it. I don't have a problem admitting it. You can take a drug addict's stuff and he will live without so much as a pill (eventually). You can take an alcoholic's liquor and he will survive (eventually). But you cannot take away food in its entirety. One MUST eat to live. I have learned to live to eat and I must unlearn that. It isn't fair. But it's so much less than other people deal with and I have the chance to reclaim my self-worth. I'm going to take that chance.

Yesterday, for the first time in almost two years, I put away my usual morning routine of self-deprecation and negative self-thoughts and I put on those cross-trainers and climbed on the treadmill. I didn't push too hard, and I put in a half mile. Then, I put in 20 minutes on the Gazelle. Today, I'll do a little more. Just a little. I will stop thinking about the monumental task of losing 100 pounds. I will just work on 3-5 pounds this week and be happy with that. Just a little.

Dr. Phil asked if I would trust him to help me "get it". I'm going to give him that chance. I'm going to give both of us that chance.