Breaking up with 2011

Why is it only when we are on the verge of saying good bye do we seem to fully asses our relationship? That we not only see the flaws, but what we will miss.

That lousy boyfriends, well we did like the same movies.

That crummy job, hey I liked the polyester smock I wore.

That beater car that finally blew up on the freeway, it got me from point A to point B. Maybe I should have been a little more consistent with that oil and water thing.

So it is with a year.

2011 I’m talking to you. It’s not you, it’s me.  Well, actually it is you.

So let’s start with the reasons we are breaking up.  Well, first It’s time for us to go around the Sun again, and we need a new name for this trip.  We’ve agreed on 2012.  Yes, we have heard the Mayan predictions of doom, but I’m guessing that will be like one of those rapture things.  Fodder for late night comics.

More reasons?

1) Economy still kind of sucks.  Wages around here are flatter than a Teflon pan.

2) We closed a business in your year.  The Point in Culver City. We lost money, what else is new! So, I blame you for that.

3) I gained ten pounds.  Now, no arguments, your fault.

4) The US is still in Afghanistan and if we are there any longer it will be vying with Puerto Rico for almost state status.

5) my one word for 2009 was Hope ( not the Obama kind, just me hopeful to get my family out the Madoff ditch).  My word for 2011 was Resignation.  “Change” was not a coming and I was resigning myself to the new normal.  The word for 2011?   I felt so tired I didn’t have one for a while and then I figured out what it was, Hustle.  Hustling for any dollar, any leg up in my work, my husband’s, working on my daughter’s school, hustle. Everyone around me seemed be in that same mode.  Which leads the Everythingness previously mentioned.

But, hey 2011 don’t look downcast, don’t go away like that.  Come back you big galook.  I have some nice things to say to you.

1) I had some great little mini trips..  My friend Jodi Applegate got married in NYC, an incredible wedding.


I took Vivien to NYC for a Sears SMT which was super fun, my family and I got an awesome getaway at the Montage Laguna Beach ( Mark worked an event , I acted like a trophy wife, our kids like trophy children).
2) We bought a house.

This is a big one 2011.  I think of our home as more than a house but a corrective emotional experience.  Like Scarlett O’ Hara as God as my witness I’m not going to be moved from another home.  We love it here.  I have so much fun with my kids here.  The lady who sold it to us was right, “it resonates with joy.”

3) Rex started part time preschool.  My little man!

4) Vivien made fantastic strides in school.  In January all of sudden she was reading well and been going gangbusters ever since.

5) My mom retired and has been loving it.  My mother in law has moved to an independent living situation she likes, my sister in law moved to Holland to be with the man of her dreams.  Lots of good stuff.

So lot’s of good time ’11, not to mention 11/11/11 how cool was that!  But, it’s time we parted.  I need to find a year that along with the health and development of my loved ones brings , how can I say it…um, cold hard cash. Economic stability, sweetie, I have to go look for it.  Will there be times I miss your “we bought a house!” moments. Sure, of course, but I need a year that’s going to help me pay this house off and remodel a bathroom.

Give me a kiss and a hug 2011.  Now, get your crap and get out of here.

Post Christmas wish list

There is a reason why the holidays really need to be focused on the kids.  They will love some hunk of plastic for $15 .  I will not.

Anything that is easy to purchase looks like fodder for a white elephant party.

Take these gems I stumbled upon recently. On sale, if you can believe it!

Who doesn’t need an Elvis stocking?
bad gifts

Or better yet, Christmas at Graceland, which was on sale from it’s original $119.00.  Good burnt gravy!  That’s a lot of of after tax dollars for that tribute. Bring me the head of whoever paid full price for that.
bad gifts
What I want can’t be shoved into a stocking.  It’s boring, grown up stuff.  Someone to pay off my mortgage. Botox for life, the usual. How about daily massage?

I would like Santa to drive so much traffic to Cool Mom that I could derive a good income from it. Or whatever one does for such things. ( Dear Santa, why didn’t I go to Law School?).

The best gifts I got I’m paying for myself.  My bannister on my deck.  The steps were pretty scary without them.  This is like a pair of earrings under the tree for me. Except they would weigh me down and catch on a sweater.
wish list

The new roof on our back house.  Now, mind you we still don’t know what to do with this thing, but if we didn’t put a new roof on the “clubhouse”, as I call it, it would have melted in the next few months.  Look at that roofing tile!  Beautiful, like a little black dress.. but made out of fire retardent shingles!
wish list

You can see the front steps to the clubhouse look a bit Tobacco Road.  Well, maybe for my birthday…
wish list
While I’m making my wish list I would ask the present gods for a railing that’s not rusted and a redo of this fine crafted back stairs. They were a homemade job from a couple of owners ago. Each step is a different level. It’s a bit like a fun house.
wish list

This is why I love watching “Desperate Landscapes”.  I keep hoping that hunky dude with  the big arms is going to show up and fix my yard. But, sadly, like “Curb appeal” they only work on front yards.

Oh, of course the very best gifts don’t fit under the tree, but sometimes sleep next to it.

Online Privacy

Mom bloggers seem an unlikely crew to worry about privacy.  Some bloggers use nom de plumes, or give their kids nicknames.  Not me.  My name, my husband’s name, my kid’s names, have all gone on this sight. I worked in broadcasting, my husband has some fame in the cooking realm so that opens one up a bit.  Whatever shred of privacy we had went out the window post Madoff.  By the time the local news called I figured, what the heck?  Everyone knows we were caught up in the biggest ponzi scheme in history, might as well be the poster child.

Rex, helping me blog
So, when momversation friend Jessica Gottlieb invited me to a luncheon for my info guardian my first thought was, “I love Chinese food I will go.”

In short, if you signed up for and such over the years those sites sold their info to information sites.  So, if you are not a former basic cable superstar or a judge on Top Chef  it might behoove you to look into this.

One of the take aways I got from the lunch, besides realizing that you could fill up on appetizers at Mr. Chow, was that every few months we need to change our passwords.  Passwords are such a pain, but the man from my info said once people know something about you they can figure out your password.  So, obviously my passwords are all imanaginggayman,  or ginismypoison.

There, more of my info is out there.

WOW You Look Amazing

If you are like me right now your self image is at an all time low.

IF you are like me the holiday food and spirits is sitting in your gut (which your husband just called “puffy”).

If you are like me you have been unable to exercise much because your kids are home, or it’s quite cold and or you have been to busy with family stuff.

If you are like me you have a hacking cough that has lasted weeks. This cough has spread to all parts of your family.

If you are like me you have been up in the night with one of your kids because they are sick.

If you are like me this cough is so bad that you threw up in the Best Buy parking lot ( sorry person who pulled in the space after me).

If you are like me your cough is so bad that your post childbearing body turned on you and you pissed in your pants.


( Note: Vivien is wearing the dress she created on  A great site for little girls)

Well, when life gets you down, you have to turn it around, right?  So here is a short, self help moment for all of us.  ( Jo McGinley, my friend, guest stars)

Mid Morning Show with Cool Mom: Room Parenting

I always enjoy having a talk show in my own home. When Rex was younger he was a more placid sidekick. Now he is less Doc Sevirnson and more Crispin Glover. Special guest and Cool Mom player sister Carole drops by (be sure to check out her fun blog, LA Girl Now).

Our topic for today: being a room parent makes me understand police brutality.  Any room parents out there? Maybe you can relate.

My Ah ha moment of 2011

I was driving to the market this afternoon , my hacking cough so rough I could barely hear the public radio station I was listening to.  I was about to hear words that CRYSTALIZED why I, and others, feel the way we do.

Why in this land of plenty with no horrible things at our feet everyone was so WORN out. Chopped up like wood chips, baked like supposed to be better for you potato chips.  No, it wasn’t just the holidays.  That’s just some more on the to do list in colder weather.

It was a conversation with Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler. ( I would link to it, if they had it handy on th station site, they did not)  A witty, design power couple.  One of them –not sure who– said the problem today was (WAIT FOR IT)


to paraphase, “it’s not enough to just do your business you also have to tweet and all that, you have to think micro and macro all the time. It inhibits creativity”. That’s everythingness.  That’s certainly the world of blogging and the world of restaurants. I’m sure a list of different professions from painter to dress shop owner.

I think, Why am I so tired?  Why does life seem harder now?  It’s everythingness.  There is no let up in the new world of ours.

Do you feel everythingness?

Good Bye Legend

If you eavesdropped on me and my sisters without seeing our faces you would think we were 90.  We remember things that we are too young to know.  Particularly when it comes to

1) Los Angeles history

2) old restaurants in Los Angeles

We were taken to them at a very young age and as LA is not great at perservation most of the eateries of our youth… are gone.

The latest casualty is the Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Blvd.  The Hamlets were a big deal back in the day.   From the Hamlet’s website:

In 1950, Marilyn, a dress designer, and Harry Lewis, an actor, opened the first Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Blvd; because of their commitment to quality, flavor and “simply marvelous food and drink,” it became an immediate success. Hamlet quickly became a Hollywood landmark and was packed with celebrities every night of the week.

Particularly since I had a mom who stopped cooking when I was 8 and an older sister with a driver’s license, many a dinner time was my mom handing my sister a twenty and telling her to take me to the Hamburger Hamlet ( usually on National blvd) to feed me.
The book about how the restaurants got going is a fun read.  Sammy Davis Jr helping to serve in the first little place they had.

Well, the Lewis’s sold the place years ago and look, it was NEVER the same.  Not as good, menu changed a lot.  But, the one on Sunset, the oldest one left, still had a sweet spot in our heart with it’s red vinyl booths, brass fixtures, clippings of John Barrymore as Hamlet.
A couple of days ago Kat Odell of Eater LA wrote that the Sunset Hamlet was closing on December 19th.  Some company that makes expensive restaurants for posers ( my words, not hers) were going to take over the place.  Good bye French Onion soup  and older black waitresses who had worked there for 30 years.

It serves all day so we were able to have dinner at the dream time–for me of 4:45.  The host handed us simple pieces of paper with the menu items.

“Everyone is stealing our menus.  We don’t have any left.”

Cecily, “I don’t blame them”.

Despite the changes over the years the burger was still quite tasty.  We noshed as my mother told us about going to the original Hamlet down the block with my dad and my oldest sister, a baby at the time.  My dad had an old Studebaker and my mother cut white shag carpeting to fit on the bottom of the car to make it more comfortable.  Cecily and I rememeberd in our teen and college years coming here for a late dinner with our friends.  Often through the years Dean Martin sat at the bar.  Or he was in a booth with friends.  After he lost his son Dean Paul Martin people said he didn’t look the same.  How could he?
We thought we were nostalgic snapping a few photos when near the end of our meal a videographer with a camera light blazing followed an older couple to a table.  The lady had the upswept hair of an earlier generation.  The kind that never left house without being done.  Not the scrappy, half dressed peasants we all look like.  Her hair was was raven and I knew I knew her.  Cec and I couldn’t place here and then I said,

” Her first name is Carol”

Cec:  “She was in Incredible Mr. Limpet”

Me:  “Carol Cook!”  bingo, I knew it wasn’t Arlene Dahl, but in that food group.

As we left a manager told us they had raised the rent.  That the restaurant had grandfathered in rent for only 10 grand.  A tiny sum for that size of place in that area.  “They raised it to 45 thousand”.

Then she said, “and we haven’t been busy like this for a long time.  Everyone’s coming since we are closing.”
Fwd: Bye!
“I’m sorry”.  We told her how much it had meant to us.  I realized this woman and the rest of the employees were all about to loose their jobs right before Christmas.  The Hamlet’s are part of the past.  There are two left, but not ones I ever went to as a kid ( in Pasadena and Sherman Oaks).

Did the world move on or do restaurants like this not keep up and current?  Who their patrons were became clear when we tried to leave.

We could not.

As I started to walk to the front door to leave Cecily nodded toward Viven as if “not a good idea”.

“A guy is on the ground” she said.

“What?”  There was an elderly man being attended to be some of LA’s strapping finest firemen.  After a few minutes or so of vamping I pushed open the door enough to ask if we could leave.

“yeah sure”, Fire man biceps said.

As we walked to our car we saw them put a very frail, gray skinned older man on a gurney.

Yes, we do have the same taste as 90 year olds.

Picture this

I just went to an art exhibit that I am still thinking about. I was asked to go because I guess I’m sort of “media”, but I never get invited to stuff that doesn’t involve donating diapers, so this was an exciting departure for me. It was at the Annenberg Space for Photography. I had been there once before and while it’s in a lovely modern space–not a room, or a studio a space mind you– it’s among these huge buildings in Century City and the parking is a little hard to figure out.

The first time I went with Rex and my mom and we I didn’t read the signs that are small and have small white lettering and we ended up coming up from the underground parking in the wrong tower and it took two different, kind workers to lead us to the correct place with our stroller.  So, be forewarned, look sharp for signs!

That aside, I did enjoy my return to trip to see Digital Darkroom. Full of artist who are using new technology in their photographs.  Think of it as Photoshop to the 100th power.  Some are just quirky.  Some I looked at having NO idea how they did them.

There was a 3-D picture of Queen Elizabeth, by Chris Levine, that had this royal watcher mesmerized.

I got to speak to one of the artist, Brook Shaden.  She is young and new and this and I bet she buys a house one day with the money she can make selling her pictures.  She is a self portraitist

Me:  “Like Cindy Sherman”

Brooke “yes, there are a lot of of us self portraistist now and they are getting more recognition.”

Hey, I guess that’s what I am!  But, without all that pesky technique.

Her pictures have a cinematic look to them and I barely recognized her in person.  She seemed tiny and like Alice in Wonderland whereas her pictures had a drama that was compelling.  She shoots several pictures and then layers them.  I frankly can’t even follow the machinations that go into all of these artist work.  It just made me feel very humbled thinking of my little video work.  Going forward next year, do to costs, I am going to be shooting more of my videos myself .  I wish I could bring a 10th of the visual brillance to my videos that I saw in these photos.

Closer to home I have a problem with one budding photog, Rex.  He loves to take pictures.  Now, since this is a digital camera he is not using up all my film, but recently I uploaded the pictures from my camera.  There were 354 pictures.  I had to then delete about 100 of them.  I could have been mindlessly surfing Facebook instead, but I wanted to get rid of the fuzzy images, the close up of my cracked, chapped lips, sideways pictures of chairs.

But, gosh darn it if that 2.10 year old boy didn’t take a few gems. Not photography show worth, but they remind me of what life looks like from Rex’s vantage point. Standing on a chair next to mom who is telling him to sit down.
rex photog
His parents. Who knew I had such asymetrical nostrils? Not me. Thanks Rex.
rex photog

Pretty sweet shot of a Christmas puppet show we went to. I like his technique of fuzzing out the audience. Jammy fingers or genius?
rex photog

Dad finally got the camera. Or rather I said, “take a picture of us. I’m always the one who takes the pictures.”
rex photog

This one I love! King Rex.

Getting Out of a Parking Ticket

Years ago, in San Francisco, when I was a newbie working at KGO radio I got a parking ticket. SF is brutal about them. I was complaining to veteran news talk host Jim Eason who gave me this wisdom. “Don’t sweat it, just figure into your monthly budget two parking tickets a month. It’s the price of living in a city.” Sound advice. Usually, I follow it and don’t go ape–anymore– when I do get a ticket.

But, sometimes, reason gets trumped.