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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Computer Troubles Can't Hinder Important Thoughts

So the computer has been on the fritz for a couple of days. It was fine, until Charlie tried to add some new and exciting (for him) program to it. Now, we're lucky if we're able to get online for a couple minutes at a time. So, Celinda, I apologize for cutting off so quickly this morning. Grrrrrrrr, so frustrating. I've been asking to get the scanner up and running for MONTHS now because that's something we all use. But instead, he goes and buys this elaborate and expensive video editing program that we REALLY don't need. Boys and their toys.

I should be very excited about taking off for New York. But I have some apprehension. I feel like a heel because I won't be here for Averie's Comedy Club show. All the hard work and excitement leading up to it, and now I won't even get to see it. I thought it would be okay because Charlie would be there, but then, yesterday, it dawned on me that Charlie would be driving Caris and I to the airport at 6. Averie's show is at 7. If you know anything about LAX traffic and getting back to Orange County, well, then you know the likelihood of him making it in time is minimal at best.

I feel like I've poured so much time and energy into all the things that have been taking place in Caris' world, that I haven't had as keen an eye on Averie's world. I suppose in my effort to make some wrongs right in some areas, I've fallen short in an area that has always come so easily to me. Averie and I have a great relationship. I know she's my daughter, but I also know that she's the type of person that I'd be friends with. She's intelligent, warm, caring, funny as hell, and she has a big and tender heart. I love my time with her and it's always a very easy groove. We can talk about everything and I love that she shares her thoughts and dreams with me. I think I always took for granted that that's the kind of relationship that I would have with all my kids. I treasure this special friendship I have with her. The best part is, I know that she knows that she can come to me with anything at anytime and I will be here for her.

Averie, I just want you to know that I adore you. I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of your efforts to turn the disappointments in your life into things that you find joy in. I admire that you stepped outside of your fears and learned over this past year to think outside the box. I love that you've let your talent and your humor shine out and now other people will see what I and the people that know you have always seen. Your fan base will only get bigger and bigger. But please remember who has always been and always will be your biggest fan. So even though I'll be sitting on a plane, my thoughts and spirit are with you at the Black Box Theater. I love you very much. Make 'em laugh, Baby. Make 'em laugh!

Monday, May 24, 2004

A Helluva Town...

After months of waiting and anticipation, the week has finally arrived! On Thursday night, after performing at Senior Awards Night, the CMHS Madrigals will take a red-eye flight to New York City. So much to do, so much to see, and Caris and I are both looking forward to meeting our friend Wayne. Here's the exciting breakdown:

Thursday: Depart LAX 10:00 pm

Friday: Arrive JFK 6:04 am
Breakfast at Carnegie Deli
Guided Bus Tour: Times Square, Wall St., SoHo, Trinity Church, WTC Site
Ferry to Statue of Liberty
Lunch at McD's on Wall St.
Bus Tour continues: Chinatown, UN, Grand Central Station
Dinner at Cafe Mozart
NYC Philharmonic at Lincoln Center (Ives, An American Original)
Back to Hotel

Saturday: Breakfast at Hotel
Tour of Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lunch on our own
Backstage tour of Lincoln Center
Dinner at NYC Pizza
Broadway Musical: Movin' Out
Back to Hotel

Sunday: Breakfast at Hotel
Rockefeller Center
Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour
Lunch on our own
Broadway Musical: Wicked
Dinner between shows
Broadway Muscial: Little Shop of Horrors (YAY!)
Back to Hotel

Monday: Breakfast at Stage Deli
Walk to Central Park
Walking Tour of Fifth Ave., St. Patrick's Cathedral, FAO Schwartz, Times
Square, NY Public Library, Grand Central Station.
Transfer to Greenwich Village
Lunch on our own
Circle Line Tour cruise around Manhattan
Farewell Dinner at Carmine's
Back to Hotel

Tuesday: Depart JFK 6 am
Arrive LAX 10:58 am

WHEW! I'm exhausted and it hasn't even started yet! Can't wait to meet you Wayne!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Too Cute For the Army Posted by Hello


Yesterday, I picked Bryson up from school, as usual. The rides home these days are basically silent. He's 14. He answers questions like "How was your day?" and "Got any homework?" and "Anything new and exciting happen today?", with monosyllabic grunts. I've learned not to work too awful hard at it. When he wants to talk, he talks a blue-streak and for the most part, he's a personable guy. I KNOW he talks because he spends incredible amounts of time on the phone with girls and when I pick him up, he's usually surrounded by a small harem. I don't worry about his socialization skills too much. They're intact and I've seen them in action.

Among his loves, as has been well documented over the past year; hockey,(both ice and roller), girls (especially Jennifer), swimming (beach or pool, either is fine), golf (not a bad little Duffer), and thanks to his dad and grandpa, military history.

It's been a gradual progression. In the beginning it was just a couple of computer games with his dad. They'd watch old John Wayne movies together, they'd talk in detail about battles and the reasons for them. Then, Bryson found out that my dad was a Vietnam vet and he wanted to know more. He talked to my dad on the phone and my dad wrote him letters about his tours of duty. While I love it that Bryson and my dad have been talking and bonding, I also am uneasy about the topics of conversation. It's a hard place to be as a mom AND as a daughter.

I'm very proud of my father. He was very young when I came into his life. He accepted me and raised me as his own, no question. He was a military career man and served 30 years in the US Navy. I was the consumate "Navy Brat", and because we moved as often as we did, I had the opportunity to travel. It wasn't easy. You never felt you had roots, and it was difficult to make friends and foster relationships. But the hardest part was, when Dad went away to serve, you never knew for sure if he was coming back. I grew up surrounded by bars and stars, pomp and circumstance, duty and honor, all those things you're told to be proud of. I understood the sacrifices being made. I understood service of country. I also knew I would never marry a military man and I never, ever wanted to raise my kids in the service. I wanted a life as far removed from that as I could get.

So yesterday, on the way home from school, out of the blue, Untalkative Bryson said "I think I might join the Army when I'm old enough." Sweet Jesus, if you exist, PLEASE tell me I didn't just hear what I heard. I resisted the sudden urge to step on the brake and come to a screeching halt at the side of the road. I remained calm, continued to drive, and made the poised response.."Um, what?"

Bryson: I want to be a helicopter pilot, so I think I'm going to join the Army or the Air Force.

Me: Well, Bryson, that's great that you know you want to be a pilot, but you don't have to join the military to do that you know.

Bryson: Mommy, I'm not that great a student. I don't think I'm going to do so good in college. So, I could join the Army and get a free education and they'll teach me how to fly.

Me: Sweetie, I'm not quite sure it works that way. Besides, you understand that if they pour all that "education" into you, they're going to want payback, and payback means you could be asked to go to war. Your life won't belong to you. It will belong to the government. This isn't a decision to be taken lightly, it's very serious. If you were to join the service when you're 18 and we happen to be at war, like we are now with Iraq, you wouldn't get to learn the trade you want. They'll just send you straight to fight. It's not a computer game Bry. It's the real thing.

Bryson: I know.

It got quiet again. Quiet except for the screaming terror in my soul. My son couldn't hear it, but inside my chest, my heart was racing. He responded "I know", like he responds to everything you tell him about any subject. It's the typical 14 year old boy response. But this time, I knew he didn't know. He didn't really know. I've been raised to be proud of my country, yet my days as a military brat ended when I moved out of my father's home and into my own. As an adult, I learned acceptance. I embraced diversity. I allowed my thought processes to broaden and grow. And I came to distrust my government leaders. When I became a mother, so many things in my mindset changed. I am unwilling to sacrifice my child "for freedom". My father would be horrified to hear this, and so, among other controversial subjects, we don't discuss this one.

That may open me up to criticism and ridicule. I don't care. Yes, I support the troops. I'm proud of their sacrifice. But I disagree wholeheartedly that they're putting themselves at risk and in some cases dying, for freedom. They're dying because we have a lying egomaniac for a president. And honestly, that's nothing new. Just because I don't support the war, doesn't mean I am unAmerican. After a couple of minutes of silence in the car, my eyes welling with tears, my heart full of fear, I continued to talk with my son:

Me: Grommet, I want you to know that if there should be a mandatory draft, I would move you out of this country before I would give you over to war.

Bryson: I didn't mean to upset you Mommy.

Me: I know Buddy, but the thought of this is very scary to me. I don't believe that this war that we're involved in is right. I believe we've been lied to again and again. You've seen the news, you know this isn't a game. It's real. People are dying and the reasons that we're given just don't seem justified.


Bryson: If we move out of the country, let's go to Canada so I can play hockey. Ok?

Me: Done.

I'd much rather deal with a few missing teeth than one missing life.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Basking In The Afterglow

Well, it's over. The stress, the emotions, the excitement, the show. It was an amazing run. The Audreys were spectacularly ditzy. The Seymours were delightfully nerdy. The sets and props were wonderfully appropriate. The accolades for all performers were well placed and well received. Things could not have gone better. Families and friends all showed and were wowed. My house is now filled with the sweet aroma of many bouquets of flowers, as I'm sure Taryn's mom's house is as well. We couldn't be more proud of our amazingly talented girls. Averie; your setwork was stunning. Caris and Taryn; you lit up the stage.

The day after a play closes is always the hardest day. The "After Play Blues" sets in. All those months of work; the long hours of practice, the hard work on sets, the time spent with your drama "family". It's even more sad knowing that the kid's director Mrs. Cahill won't be back. She's graduating and moving back to New York. So now comes the process, yet again, of "breaking in" a new drama teacher. The kids all loved her, and though we wish her the best, it will be very hard to replace her.

All that aside, it was truly a great show. Thanks to everyone who came and supported the kids and for all your well wishes in the process of putting it together. We felt all the love from near and far. Next stop...New York!

Dr. Charlie gives "Two-ey" some TLC before Opening Night Posted by Hello

Averie the Set Artist Posted by Hello

Show's Over Posted by Hello

After the show. Caris and Taryn Posted by Hello

"Suddenly Seymour" Luke & Caris Posted by Hello

Caris as Audrey on Friday Night Posted by Hello

Backstage pic of "The Audreys". Taryns' opening night Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Opening Night

Last night was opening night for "Little Shop". Taryn, who splits the role of Audrey with Caris, was fantabulous. I was very proud of her and expressed to her mom Leigh after the show that I felt as though I was watching another of my own children. Taryn practically lives at my house and Caris spends a great deal of time at hers. Leigh and I often joke that the girls merge and hyphenate their last names. I marveled at the fact that they've known each other since they were two years old, and now, all these years later in high school, they share the same dream. How wonderful a memory it will be when they are older to look back and remember that you shared a plum role with your very best friend. Who doesn't dream of that?

Tonight and tomorrow night Caris will play Audrey. The excitement as the day progresses will mount. To top it off, Caris' agent called last night and she has a call-back for the Kellogg's commercial for 3:00 today. So, I'll be picking her up from school at noon and she and I will be heading to LA. THEN, straight back to CMHS for her 6:00 call. Stressed? A little. Should I let her know that? Not a chance in hell. Interestingly enough, my horoscope today said that perhaps I should look for a new job. What? And miss all this fun? Wouldn't give it up for the world.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I shouldn't be surprised...

but I am. I always try to think the best of people. I keep my faith in humankind up. Sometimes it's on hold. Right now, it's pretty much been stomped into a coma.

Last Saturday, dress rehearsal run-through's for the play commenced. In the process of Audrey II (pic is for reference only) consuming Mr. Mushnik, the amount of care that would be required to keep Audrey II's jaws from snapping (yet again) was not applied, and she then needed some major medical. So, Charlie, being the great guy (and fabulous engineer that he is) volunteered to bring that GIGANTIC venus fly-trap home and repair her. So, all of the morning and the entire day on Monday were spent making Audrey II a new jaw so she could again devour the CMHS drama department. All's well. You would think.

Last night, while Caris was at drama, someone opened her purse and stole a hard-earned $130 in cash. Money she was either going to use for a prom dress, or for spending money for New York. After the initial shock of finding that money missing, she went into secondary shock. The only ones that could have taken it were drama kids. Her friends. The kids she spends countless hours with. The ones she "trusted". The same kids that she has known and worked with on so many productions. It's devastating.

Then I thought about my last entry. The "Everyone Does It" kids. It doesn't matter who the money belonged to. Whoever took it wasn't thinking.."Oh this is Caris' purse. I can't hurt Caris like that." They didn't care. They saw money, and that's all it took. I've often told the kids not to take money to school for just this reason. And granted, the reason she had that money with her was because she and I had just been out looking for a prom dress and then I took her directly from there to drama practice. So I carry some of that blame. But God Almighty, if you can't trust the friends that you spend nearly every waking moment with...from sun up to sundown..who do you place your trust in?

I hurt for her. It's a cold, hard reality that you can misplace your trust. I hurt also because we spend so much time helping these kids out too. Fixing Audrey II wasn't cheap, and the hours that it took to repair her could have been spent other, more pleasureable Mother's Day type ways. Whoever took that money didn't need it. They just couldn't resist the urge. Yet, they never EVER think what hurt they leave behind. In the teachable moment, I can only say to my own kids, "Please remember how hurt and angry and upset you are so that you won't ever inflict that pain on someone else." And to that person who took what doesn't belong to you, I can only say, I hope it was worth it to you.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

It Begins At Home

The high school parking lot is a great place to find every stupid driver in existence. And I'm not even talking the student parking lot. I'm talking the front of the school faculty parking lot. The place where PARENTS, including myself, drop their kids off for their regular school day. I always wonder, as I watch in astonishment the level of absolute stupidity, WHY the police don't just camp close by and administer ticket after ticket to violators. It can easily be done considering the Police Department is right around the corner. These ADULTS put their kids, and other motorists in danger because they pull over into the bike lane to let their kids out of their cars "on the fly", blocking all other traffic, including transit buses. They pull into the parking lot entrance intersection even when it's blocked and they KNOW they should wait, thus blocking oncoming traffic. They STOP dead in the middle of the driveways and allow their kids to get out when they could easily pull over so that other cars can get by. Oh, and my favorite is when Mom forgets to tell their child something after they've already gotten out of the car, so the child stands at the driver's side window having a chat with Mom blocking ALL traffic coming and going because the child is now standing in the middle of the two way street.

On a daily basis, my kids listen to me groan about the stupidity of these adult drivers and my complete disbelief at what I see. Not just once, but twice; at drop-off and pick-up. It's the same thing. Yes, there are crazy drivers all over the place. You see it on the freeway, especially here in SoCal. You see it on the city streets. We're famous for our easily egged-on Road Ragers. It's nothing new. BUT, as I sit there every morning and watch the constant flow of moronic parental units, I can actually SEE the future. I know that these kids that they're dropping off are going to have the same lack of thought that their parents do. They're going to be the same type of drivers, perhaps even the same type of people. Somehow, that deeply disturbs me.

Though I complain about it, I refuse to allow myself to fall into that trap of "everyone else does it, so why shouldn't I?" Therefore, I always make sure I'm in a safe zone, not only for my kids to get out, but also for any motorists around me to either pull by, or get out of their own danger zone. I always say to Caris and Bry (even though I know I don't need to), "please watch out for cars". I do that not because I don't trust their judgement, but because I don't trust these brainless people around me. If they won't watch out for their own kids, they certainly aren't going to watch out for mine.

Yesterday, as I pulled over to the side of the driveway in front of the school where I usually drop them off, I noticed a little black Toyota Corolla pulling into a handicapped space. There are approximately 6 of these spaces in front of the school, and mind you, this parking lot is the faculty parking lot, NOT the student parking lot, which is located at the back of the campus. The student parking lot is FOUR times the size of this parking lot. So, this car parks in the space, and I watch as a perfectly able bodied HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT puts a blue handicapped placard up on his rear-view mirror, gets out of his car, along with three other HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, looks cautiously around, swings his backpack onto his back, and walks to class. I'm FURIOUS!

As many of you are aware, I help to care for my ailing, elderly mum-in-law. She has on the average of 2 doctor visits per week. Oncologists, Repiratory Theraptists, Ear Specialists, etc. etc. Whenever we go to her visits, she always brings her little blue handicapped placard parking permit so that we're able to park up front. It takes us quite a bit of time to load and unload herself and her walker or her wheelchair, so I appreciate the wide spaces and close proximity to the buildings that those spaces afford. There is a reason those spaces are there. Over the last year, since I've been helping Mom, I've come to realize how much these placards are abused by able-bodied persons, and it's all I can do to keep my cool. And NO, I don't believe pregnant women should be issued these placards. They're pregnant for chrissake, not sick. I went through three pregnancies, lugging my HUGE self around stores and shopping centers without the benefit of a damn placard. If I can do it, so can they, and if they can't, then they should stay home. No sympathy here.

Back to my point (sorry, I needed to vent). We often hear the wise folk addage, "It takes a village to raise up a child." While I agree that we all have a responsibility to teach right and wrong, my feeling is that raising a child BEGINS AT HOME. I brought these people into the world. It's MY job to teach right, wrong, love, morals, ethics, and all those other life-affirming things that will mold them into self-sufficient, compassionate human beings. I do this, and then send them out into the world, hoping that what I've instilled in them, those things that were not already inherent in them, will stick and carry them through adulthood. I do my job...MY JOB....and hope that the proverbial village will help along the way. But I don't expect that "village" to raise up my child. That's MY responsibility.

With that in mind, when I see kids doing such things as abusing handicapped parking spaces, my thoughts wander back to their parents. Do they know that is taking place? Did they GIVE them Granny's placard for the day and say, "Here, use this because I know parking sucks at the high school?" Even in small things, like movie-hopping in a theater when you've only paid for one movie, or saying that you'll do something, but you don't do it. These are the things that shape you. These are the things that you carry with you into adulthood. If these things are ok, then it's okay to cheat on your taxes, or lie to your friends or partners. It's no big deal...everyone does it. Those stupid adult drivers produce stupid kid drivers. Those parents that say "everyone does it" produce the "everyones" that do it. It may seem so trivial, but to me, it speaks about the things to come.

It may take a village, but it begins at home.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Shameless Mom-type Plug

It's that time again! The Spring Musical is about to open. May 13, 14, 15, 16, at the Mesa Lyceum. Split cast stars Caris and Taryn as Audrey, with set decoration by Averie. I think I've bought out the entire theater for Friday night. ::hee hee::

CMHS Drama Presents: Little Shop of Horrors

Stay tuned for Shameless Plug 2 when Averie stars in "The Comedy Club" on May 27 at OCC. I'll probably be buying that out too. Oh wait...it's FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

P.S. - Ok, it appears that I AM, after all, technologically challenged. I've been saying this for months, but everyone keeps telling me otherwise (bless you). I just can't keep fighting with Angelfire. Kinda tired of it, to tell the truth. So screw them...

CMHS Drama Presents: Little Shop of Horrors

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Well, Damn...

Ok, for me hockey season is over. I've taken down the flag. I should have known it was a bad omen when I hurt my ankle on a walk yesterday morning. I sadly told Bryson that I wasn't going to his game because I was already in pain with my neck and shoulders bothering me, with no relief from the chiropractic visit on Friday. The thought of climbing bleachers in a 100 degree gym to watch him play just didn't bode well with me. He understood, and since Aunt Jenny, Uncle Jim and Charlie were going to be there, he was fine with me passing this time. I should have known it was another bad omen when he lost. Even though his dad says he WOW'd the audience with some fancy puck handling skills, there was just something in the air. That something was the end of the season....at least for Detroit. Hockey fan that I am, I just move on to the next best team (in my estimation). Of course that won't be Colorado. I will NEVER be an Avs fan. NEVER. So, I'll go with the last remaining California team. Just because.

Yet, even with the palor of sadness over the house, the very happy thing is, an unexpected, but VERY happy visit from our friend CJ. She stopped by to say hi while on her way back home to Bakersfield. She was here taking care of an account and decided to give us a try. It's been well over a year since I've seen her. I can't begin to tell you what a breath of fresh air she is. We sat on the bench out front and talked away 2 1/2 hours in what seemed like a minute. We laughed over "remember when" stories, and caught up on family events. I have so many good and happy memories of CJ, Steve, and their daughter Jamie. It was one of the saddest days of my life when they moved back to Bakersfield. I missed them immensely. If I was ever sad, I could always count on CJ for a giggle. She has a gift for finding joy in the smallest of things AND she can tell a story better than anyone I know. Her laugh is infectious and despite the difficulties of her life, she can always look at the humorous side of any situation. I admire her in so many ways.

So my boys lose and I'm sad. One little visit from CJ makes up for that in spades.