Friday, October 31, 2008

Some people were able to find enough hoop earrings and scarves to be a gypsy for Halloween at a young age - sometimes repeatedly. In all my years of making and wearing costumes, a gypsy just never made it to the top ten for me - until a couple of years ago. In 2006, for a company party, I finally found my inner gypsy.

In 2007, for the same company party, a girlfriend and I went as Garth and Wayne from Wayne's World. I was Garth... thankfully, no pictures exist of that, although I did scare the bejiggers out of my son by showing up unexpectedly at the front door.

This year, I didn't dress up. Instead, I answered the door for the trick or treaters who opted NOT to go to the mall, then, I threw on my MHS2UK Parent Wildcat jacket and joined a group of "theatre moms" to go see High School Musical 3. Because, once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat!

It was great fun to get together again after spending all of last year promoting, and fundraising and sending our kids to the Fringe Festival to perform the stage version.

"High School Musical,
Who Says We Have To Let It Go?
It’s The Best Part We’ve Ever Known, Step Into The Future!
We’ll Hold On to,
High School Musical, Lets Celebrate Where We Come From,
With Friends Who’ve been There All Along, Just Like,
Our High School, High School Musical!"

(coming to a theatre near you.... High School Musical 911...)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In La-La-Awe of My Mother-In-La-La-Law on Mother's in Law Day

Awe? Yeah, right. Be honest, when you hear mother in law you think this....

... or, maybe this....

If you're old like me and have a really good memory you might even think this....

When it comes to Mother's in Law, I've had an abundance of bitches riches... having had the misfortune rare privilege of having three of them. Each one with her own brand of crazy distinct personality. Like their sons, if my collective mother's in law ended up on a desert island together, the only thing any of them would have in common would be their hidden agendas ... me. I must be pretty lucky though, because contrary to the mother in law stereotype, mine have all been acquitted amazing characters.

Marie was feisty, cute, petite, swore like a sailor, drank gin straight and smoked Marlboro menthols. She bought me tacky little gifts like rhinestone necklaces and sequined cigarette cases. I adored her. She was the quintessential late 70's California liberated woman, running her husband's automotive business, like she ran her home - fast and loose. When I think of her I can't help but remember the time we went camping and water skiing at Lake Nacimiento. She wore her brand new one piece bathing suit - browns and tans, in a subtle variegated pattern - it looked great on her. And it wasn't just us, her family who thought so, people came up to our campsite from all over the lake to say, "nice bathing suit." She basked in the attention for a while, then jumped into the boat to take her turn on the skis. As we watched Marie in the distance, shooting roosters, and waving like a beauty queen in a parade, it suddenly became clear why her suit made her so popular. The browns and tans were arranged in such a way as to make it look like Marie was skiing naked! When we (none to tactfully) told her what we thought we saw, she grabbed her Kodak Instamatic, tossed it to me and went right back out to do it again. I got the shot, but back in the day, we used to have to get our rolls of film developed, and by the time that roll came back from the drugstore, my marriage to her son was over. I don't think she ever knew her son hit me, or that he had not yet come out of the closet - but that's a blog for another time.

Dottie, Bobby's grandmother, was almost the exact opposite of Marie. A large square-jawed, sturdy woman with an horsey laugh. She didn't smoke, but she drank hard liquor, and in 1980, though she would use an automatic washing machine, she still hung her wash outside to dry, even during frigid New Jersey winters. She gave me sensible things like towels and perfume at Christmas, the same things I used to give my grandmother. She worked as a bookkeeper for two gentlemen who had been interred at Auschwitz, with the tattooed numbers on their arms to prove it. She raised 5 kids in a three bedroom farm house from the 1800s. I tried, I really did, to keep in touch with her after the divorce, but distance and allegiances overshadowed both our efforts.

Helen, who has the same name as my own mother, is a piece of work. And I say that with love, with awe, and reverence, and with a little bit of fear. If ever there was a personification of the term force to be reckoned with, it would be Helen. There is not, nor has there ever been a situation in her life, or the lives of her kids, that she could not handle. You may think that sounds overbearing, but amazingly, she never comes across that way. She was married at 18, widowed at 21, remarried, and divorced within a couple more years. She then proceeded to raise 5 kids in 1950's Iowa as a single mom while earning a degree in art and creating her own art on the side. She has nine grand kids, three great grand kids, and countless adoring fans. She doesn't drink or smoke, but she is still fun - sometimes more fun than I can handle! Helen has weathered the storms of her children's and grand children's various life events, from tracking down and reuniting a daughter in law with her birth mother, to arranging, hosting and assuring 100% attendance at several family reunions, to making by hand, amazing wedding dresses. She is a breast cancer survivor, married now to Grandpa Terry, living in Branson, MO and she amazes us every day. A recent example of Helen's amazing-ness would be, this summer when she played host to Kelsie and two of her girlfriends. At an age when teenage girls typically shun the older generation, the high point of Kelsie's summer this year was spending two weeks at Gramma's house.

Mothers in law may be the butt of a lot of jokes, for some, the source of heartache or frustration, but I think you can see why I think MY mother-in-law is AWESOME!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What do you think the deeper meaning is behind this poster seen recently in San Francisco?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Funny thing about horoscopes, believe in them or not, they are written in such a way that, in hind sight, you can read just about anything into them. Having said that, I must admit that I happen to put great stock in what my horoscope says and read mine every morning. Today's, got me thinking - and despite grinding my teeth over the dangling participle in the second sentence, I pondered this question all day.

Dear Sagittarius,
You may put your integrity under the microscope today. We all have very deep convictions that we would never let go of. But society puts pressure on us, and it's not always easy to live in perfect harmony with your ideals. The question you ask yourself today is just how much you are willing to change your most heartfelt beliefs in order to live in society. Do you have the courage of your convictions?

Turns out, I was never in a situation where I had to change any heartfelt beliefs. At the end of the day, my ideals and I were still in perfect harmony. But I wondered, what situation would present itself that would cause me to question my beliefs? What would have to occur for me to have to muster courage to defend my convictions? I'm still trying to come up with an answer.

Whatever your sign, how much are YOU willing to change YOUR heartfelt beliefs? Do YOU have the courage of YOUR convictions?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Kind of Blogger Am I?

You Are a Life Blogger!

Your blog is the story of your life - a living diary.

If it happens, you blog it. And you make it as entertaining as possible.

You may be guilty of over-sharing a bit on your blog, but you can't help it.

Your life is truly an open book. Or in this case, an open blog!

I got this from Grandy over at Functional Schmuntional. She is celebrating her 200th post with a Grandy-ose Contest. All you have to do is comment!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Does She Know You Call Her That?

In addition to being called Lala by an intimate circle of friends, there is an entirely different group of people who know me only as Chop. Pork Chop, if you want to be formal. Morsel de Corchant, if we are in Cajun Country.

I have Downtown Dad to thank for that ample lable. But in his defense, it has nothing to do with my shanks hocks rump physical appearance. It has more to do with City Council meetings and beer.

As is and always has been his custom, Downtown Dad was at a City Council meeting, and when the meeting was over, as is and always has been their custom, the esteemed gentlemen repaired to a local bar pub swillery meeting room to drink pound some beers have a cocktail and debreif. There is honor among these gentlemen, and if one city father buys a round of drinks has the floor, it is considered bad manners to leave before you've finished your beer interrupt. On one such occasion, Commissioner Marty was about to buy another round take the floor when Downtown Dad got up to leave, saying he had to get home to dinner. Being a gentleman of large girth stature in the community, he slammed Downtown Dad back on to the barstool persuaded Downtown Dad to stay for one more round to continue their civic debate. Downtown Dad, having a great amount of thirst respect for Miller Lite with olives this group of men, was only happy to oblige. He even took a minute to call and tell me he would be home soon. I told him not to take too long because I was making his favorite dinner, pork chops. This caused him jump up and announce to the whole room "I've got to go, I've got a pork chop waiting for me!" And the response, and you might have expected was "Does SHE know you call her that?"

The building I worked in was connected to City Hall, and the next day, I was greeted ever increasingly with "Hello Pork Chop" and a wink. Even after Downtown Dad explained the story to me, I fielded their good natured jabs with a self conscious grin and a backward glance, hoping it wasn't really my butt they were calling pork. The people in on the joke seemed to grow exponentially until just about everyone I knew called me Pork Chop. I knew I'd have to learn to live with the name while watching the 4th of July parade later that year. Those same City Councilmen came riding along on their float and when they saw me, they all yelled in unison, "Hi Pork Chop!"

On my 20th 29th 40th birthday that December, Downtown Dad decided to capitalize on all the pork choppyness and threw me a surprise birthday party at the same swillery meeting room where it all began. Anyone who happened by got a free pork chop grilled right there, and all they had to do was wish me a happy birthday. It was great fun and turned into an annual event until that unfortunate board of health incident the PETA protest we moved.

That oft repeated addage "A child who is loved has many names" is very true. Sure, there are the mean kids who have that uncanny nack of finding your greatest insecurity and giving it a name. Pork Chop sure isn't a name I would have picked for myself, and I certainly wouldn't want it in quotes between my first and last name on my headstone! But it has turned into a term of endearment over the years, and I wouldn't trade the memories that brought it about for the world!

What do the people you love call you? What is the story behind that name? Do you have different nicknames in different circles? Do you have a petname for someone? Tell me your story in the comments.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quit Your Wine-ing

I didn't have time to make my lunch before work today. What with getting dogs fed, and getting kids up and showered, and writing a check for this school activity, digging for cash for something or other, and signing permission for that, hell, I only vaguely remember getting dressed myself. So, again I ended up at noon, rooting around in the office fridge, hoping for a forgotten slice of pizza. I settled for an unmarked yogurt with a relatively recent expiration date.

I'm trying NOT to buy my lunches, since now that I have a steady paycheck, we are putting an extra effort into paying off the credit card debt that I racked up while NOT making any money as a Realtor. I sat down at a table with some of the girls, to drink my free office coffee, and eat my purloined yogurt. One of them, the married-but-we-choose-not-to-have-kids one, was leisurely munching her homemade sandwich, and homemade cookies drinking her pop prominently labeled with her name, while reading the paper. She came across one of those financial advice columns titled "Do I Need A Bankruptcy Attorney?" and she asked us,

"I'm sorry but, how is it even possible for a person to rack up $100,000 in credit card debt?"

I briefly stopped licking the inside of the yogurt cup, and said simply, "Kids."

When confronted by her blank stare, I added, "ex-spouses debt."

When she still didn't seem to understand, I whispered conspiratorily, "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul."

This she seemed to understand, but only partially.

"But, Why?" she asked.

I patted her young hand, and in doing so, palmed the remaining uneaten quarter of her sandwich. "Well, when your kid pays for his college education with a credit card, on which you are the co-signor, and then defaults on it, and when your kids need not only school clothes, but costumes, uniforms, participation fees, and the occasional birthday gift, when your utility bills triple, and when a two paycheck household is reduced to one paycheck… let's just say those credit card offers come in mighty handy."

I popped the pilfered morsel into my mouth as she rolled her eyes smugly. "But you'd still pay off the balance every month, wouldn't you, I mean doesn't every one?"

"You would," I said taking a slurp from her unattended pop can, if you could afford it. But sometimes, you have to make the minimum payment, for a long time. And sometimes," I added, emptying the crumbs from a discarded bag of chips directly into my mouth, "you can't even afford to do that! Sometimes, you have to take a cash advance from one (or two or three) of those credit cards you can't make payments on, just to make the payments on other credit cards. That's what we call borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Pretty soon, you're digging through your mail searching frantically for a note from a Peter, one of those offers with the checks attached, so you can pay a Paul, or make the house payment. And God forbid something doesn't go wrong with your car, or the washing machine doesn't give out, or the water heater, but it does, and then you have to run back to Peter and say, just one more man, just this one more time, I swear! I'm not buying boats, or expensive clothes, I'm just trying to raise good kids! And he gives you the money, but the interest rate is gonna be 25% and you say fine, because you know that next month there wont be so many extra expenses, but next month there are. The price of gas has gone up, and your kid needs braces, and your mom's 80th birthday is coming up and we're all going to chip in to buy her a trip, which turns out to be way more expensive than you were told because your older sister never comes through with the money even though she promises you she will. And your husband gets a raise and you think you start to see a light at the end of the tunnel and then he says 'hey, let's go out to dinner and celebrate' and what else can you say but 'well, OK' because you haven't gotten up the nerve to tell him that Peter, the loanshark is threatening to break your kneecaps if you can't come up with the money you owe by next week. And your poor blissfully unaware husband orders steak and buys an expensive bottle of wine and says 'thanks hon, for doing such a great job with the finances - I know it's been a little tricky now and then.' And then you drink the wine and realize that well, we've got our health, so cheers to that. And you realize that things aren't really all that bad after all."

"I still don't get it." said the married-but-we-choose-not-to-have-kids one, as she got up to leave. "If we somehow got that rediculously far in debt, my husband would never take me out to dinner, and we certainly wouldn't order wine..."

All I could do was shake my head, and polish off the cookies she left behind.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fun Monday - My Day

The Fun Monday hostess for Monday October 20th is Sarah, from Sarah's Blog, who's Latin tag line seems to say Manure, manure, manure... I'm going to die. Huh? Sarah, is there a story behind this? Some deep existential meaning? A simple explanation? Oh well...

Sarah says this:
"I would like you to take your camera (or your artistic talents!) on a day tour with you. I want to know where you go, what you get up to on a “normal” day (disclaimer - it doesn’t have to be “normal”!)All the details you would consider boring! You are free to make your Fun Monday posts as long or as short as you’d like!"

Well Sarah, this is Sunday and here's what usually happens on Sundays in Lala Land:

Even when the alarm is off, the canine clock continues....
It starts with a cold nose and some sniffing sounds, then progresses to a sort of grunting noise, rather like a monkey. If I haven't responded by then, it's two paws up on the bed and the licking begins. There is no sleeping in with these dogs on duty - even on the weekend!
Chako and Zoey lead me downstairs to their food.

Chako gets a little bit extra from a can because underneath all that hair, he's skin and bones!

Zoey has to eat downstairs separately because she gets a measured amount since she tends to gain weight when we don't watch what she eats.

Oh, the Sunday paper is here!

Time for a cup of coffee

With my favorite Casablanca mug

and French Vanilla Coffee Mate

Its a good thing the dogs got me up - I might have missed CBS Sunday Morning! What is Sunday without Charles Kurault?

Coffee and the paper

Now that everyone else is up the birds want to get a little exercise too
And now a nice bowl of Cheerios for me

don't forget to brush my teeth

a quick check of email

Well, I've been putting it off for long enough, Ugh... laundry

At least I can watch TV on the big screen while I iron!

Jeez, is it lunchtime already? My how time flies when you're having fun!

A lovely grilled swiss cheese on rye with jalapeno jelly and apple slices- just for me!

Laundry folded and ready to put away

Now it's time to go to the grocery store. Can't forget my list (written on my old Realtor notepads)

Sun Mart!

Can't forget the reusable shopping bags

Sometimes three bags just isn't enough!

Here's our lovely fall/harvest decor. The golden leaves were Mother Natures addition!

Jarrod helps to carry in the groceries - What a good boy!

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn - a typical Midwestern Sunday dinner

Dinner at the table, what a nice way to end the day....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Cast of Characters - Chapter One

Every once in a while, I'll post some background info on a few of the colorful characters I get to hang out with. Today, I'll fill you in on the "stars" of this soap opera sitcom I am living.

I am married to Downtown Dad. We are head over heels, some would say annoyingly, in love with each other after almost 25 years of marriage. We live in a purple house in an impossibly nice town, in the upper midwestern frozen tundra plains. We do not hunt moose. We have three great kids, three noisy birds, two fuzzy dogs, four working cars, and one working shower.

Downtown Dad, in addition to being the world's best husband and father, is a politician, lobbyist, promoter, historian, and genealogist, with a dubious gift of gab. That man will talk to anyone… really, ANYone. He works… well… he works Downtown.

Bobby is our oldest son, he is a procrastinating photographer. He rents a house with some friends a few miles away and earns a living as a server at a local restaurant. He could be earning a living with his photography talent, making enough money to own a house instead of renting one, and he could be finishing those last few credits for his degree, but nooooo. We are working out some issues.

Kelsie, almost 20, as the first granddaughter in a long string of grandsons, is the Undisputed Princess on Downtown Dad's side of the family. She is an artist in every sense of the word, drawing, painting, sculpting, all seemingly effortlessly. She also sings, dances and performs in local theatre and works at a local restaurant.  She has taken a year off from college, but plans to start classes in the fall....

Jarrod, too, is an accomplished musical theatre performer, with a long list of lead and feature roles on his resume.  He turns 18 this year and is enrolled at American University in Washington DC.  He starts this fall.  He taught himself to play guitar and plays in a garage band - they made a CD, then they went on hiatus. He is very much like Downtown Dad in his love of history, and politics, and that whole gift of gab thing.

Me? After slogging around in the corporate world while my kids were at home, I am now working two part time jobs.  I'm the administrative assistant for our local symphony orchestra, and I also work for our local hospital in their digital marketing department.  I possess neither the gift of gab, nor the artistic talents so abundant in the other members of my family. I can throw together a wicked sentence or two though, and that to me is much more practical than all that singing and drawing stuff. And, well, somebody's got to write the Christmas Letter!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My name is Linda, but you can call me Lala.

I am starting over in my professional career, and in the Blogosphere, after several years of binge drinking the witness protection plan self discovery. You may be here because of a link from my creditors other blog, Straight Up and Slightly Dirty, wherein I recounted not-very-regularly, my adventures as a part-time Realtor, full-time wife and theatre mom. I wanted my blogging there to be brutally honest Straight Up and with a sarcastic twist Slightly Dirty, it was neither. Although, the title did bring me really interesting insane pornographic a lot of Google searches, and I met some really cool fellow bloggers, it wasn't the kind of place I felt comfortable sharing with people who didn't know I had a blog. Over the past year as I've been working with the homeless working on my masters degree trying to find gainful employment, I was lucky enough to make it to my 50th birthday rediscover the simple joy in doing things that I am really good at. This, as sappy as it sounds has changed my life and made me incredible happy, and I want to share my adventures in all of their syrupy goodness with you!

This is not the blog you're looking for

This is.

Move along. Move along.

This is not the blog you're looking for

This is.

Move along. Move along.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Welcome To LaLa Land!

The Urban Dictionary defines Lala Land as
  1. Someone who is in their "own little world."
  2. To be zoned out or spaced out, in a semi-conscious state.
  3. The City of Los Angeles.
  4. Enjoying a state of euphoria or nirvana.
With the exception of #3, in varying degrees, all of the above could apply to me at one time or another, vis a vis, this blog. (Yeah, I just used vis a vis in a sentence - you should be impressed.)

When I made the decision to start fresh with a new blog, I thought long and hard about what to name it and what it would look like. In the end, three facts rose to the top and basically made my decision for me. The fact that my best friend's son (who is also my son's best friend) calls me Lala, is key. The fact that Disneyland and I have shared a long and satisfying relationship, and are roughly the same age is another contributing factor, and the inspiration for the header design. But the fact that my initials really and truly are L A clinched it for me.

The next couple of posts will be some backstory on me, and an introduction to the cast of characters who I am lucky enough to spend my days with, and who's antics and thoughts provide me with the stories you will read here.

Welcome to my own little corner of the world. Relax, zone out, leave a comment if you'd like, and remember, you're welcome any time!