Great recession food humor

Now, I’m getting my groove back humor wise.  .  The great gift of comedy is lifting your head up out of the gutter of your dark thoughts. Or to put it another way, get over yourself.

Here is a good stab at some recession vocabulary from another site.  My favorite is DUPPIE, depressed urban professional.

Today I’m thinking of combining my interest in comedy with my husband’s, and by extension myself, interest in food. How about recession food?

Foreclosure Chile– eat it fast before it’s taken away from you.
food

Short Sale Short Stack — you sell your pancakes to the person next to you.

Toxic Asset Meatloaf –this will turn you into a vegan

Pork ala Ponzi — you eat this in a room that you have to be invited into.  The sauce is Mad-off of other people’s food and you must first give your own food, before you get a serving.

Double Dip ice cream — coated in chocolate and regret.

Glass-Steagall of red wine — it will numb the pain for a minute as think about how this was Clinton’s greatest failure, not all that seamen nonsense.

Sub Prime meat — what public school kids are served at lunch.

European Contagion Cheese — runny and smells, but paired with a dried apricot on a smal wheat round goes down nicely.
food
lil’ Fannie Mae Cookies — do you have the income to cover this? Maybe you should rent a cookie instead.

Crudite default Swap — by the time the carrot gets to your mouth it won’t be worth much.
food

The last days of disco

This is Vivien and Rex on the last day she went to pre school.  Rex and I lingered for awhile when I dropped her off in the morning.  He loves playing there and I wanted to take lots of pictures of her and her friends.

I am far more sentimental than Vivien.  For survival it’s better to be more like her.  When I picked her up at the end of the day I asked her if she wanted to give the school a final look.  Knowing I would have touched every surface in true OCD style.  But, she didn’t want to.

“Come on, let’s go.”

She looked ahead.

This was Vivien the first day she went to pre school by herself.  She wore a diaper, and had curls.  She also lived in our big house.  Everything seemed so much easier.  It’s hard not to think of the time she had in preschool in terms of the upheaval, good and bad, that our family went through.  Buying dream house, getting pregnant, robbed by Madoff and company, selling dream house, dad’s worsening health.  Vivien’s forward moving nature has helped us always move forward.  Also, to our credit we tried to craft the move in a positive light.  She never saw me screaming, “Holy heck, we are f–ed!”

The moment had finally come when we had to physically walk out of our home.  The last mover had left, taking some things to storage, and other things to our rented home.  The new owners painter’s were arriving in the morning to cover the walls of our rooms.  To take down the wallpaper.  All the the things that I thought that would be there for years, that I had painstakingly chose, were to disappear after only a year.

My mom held two month old Rex as we stood on the walkway out front.  I had set up that we would have dinner out with my sister and nephew as I knew it would cheer Vivien to see him.

“This is when we say good bye to our house Vivien.” I said kneeling down to her level.  “Would you like to go back in one more time and say good bye to your house?”

“No, Mamma, let’s just go.”

In that moment she helped me so much.  That’s right, let’s just go.  It’s just a house.  I had thought I would be ill to walk away from it.  But, I wasn’t.  I just buckled her and Rex in and we went to dinner.  Drove off and didn’t look back.

Late at night when I can’t sleep I sometimes visit every room from our house in my mind. How the sun hit different rooms at different times.  How I use to like to sit at the top of the stairs, look down the hallway thinking of how our kids would grow and change here. I think about how it felt to be there before the words, “It’s gone, it’s all gone” were said to me by my husband.  The Mandarin orange pillows I had custom made for my kitchen table that I had to leave, that center island, the IRA.

But, of course the best things from that house I took with me.  They are sleeping in the next room.

“Let’s just go, Mamma.”

Vivien takes the fun she had in pre school, the friends, the confidence, the toilet training.  All the forward moving things she gained in the last two years.  She walks out and still has it.  She innately knows that.  I hope that always stays with her.  There are so many things that can shake our confidence .

Once it’s gone, I don’t think you ever get it back.

TV Hospital versus Real life hospital

I’ve mentioned before about my dad’s declining health.  Well, it seems like it’s taken another step down.  Imagine a terraced yard.  Just when I get use to the view from one level, and it’s short comings, comes another step down.  Soon I will be in the street run over by traffic.

My dad has dementia.  And we decided assisted living was best for him 3 years ago, he was still pretty with it, but we didn’t want him to be alone.  I would take him out once a week for a meal or a movie.  Not a full life, but okay.  Then not only did he drop down more, so did I.  Madoff and a new baby made my weekly visits bi weekly.  And he was now using a walker, I couldn’t fit a walker and stroller in the car at the same time so I had to figure that in, and frankly, I was just more stressed, and sometimes visiting him was stressful.

Little did I know that would seem like the golden days.  In the last month he has been in the hospital twice.  Honestly, for nothing serious.  But, the first visit, combined with a change in meds pushed him further away from us.

Today I saw my dad and he said, “where are my girls?”  Meaning his daughters.  I told him I was here and that my sister’s would see him on another day.

Then I said, “you know who I am don’t you?”

His face lost some of the anxious mask he wears now, almost a little expression like his old self.

“I do, but why don’t you remind me.”

“I’m Daphne, I’m your daughter.”  And my heart broke a little.

Then he gripped my hands so tight.

“who am I forgetting?”

I named everyone in our family.  He long ago told me that when he is flying at take off he always recites the names of my mom and myself and my sisters like the Holy Trinity.  It was his prayer for our safety and for his.  I told him we are all okay.

“you are okay dad”, knowing that’s a lie.  The care giver he was with was someone my dad had told me about several times, he liked him, but now he didn’t see him.  I told him he was safe and that I would come again.

At one point when he looked hard into my eyes I saw a montage like a movie of my dad through my life.  A slim, well dressed, well coiffed man in the early ’70’s, more stout but still charming in the ’80’s. joyful at my wedding and even a few months ago at my home for his birthday.  I was searching for what was similar now. My father is a flawed man.  And has not led an exemplary life, but we could all be guaranteed that my dad made the biggest fuss over us.  He loved seeing his daughters.  A month ago he grabbed for Rex, trying to kiss him as Rex squirmed away from the non parent hands.  Now, he barely registered his presence.  Only a few weeks ago dad would have exclaimed, “look at you my boy!”

I know many others have gone through this.  And I guess it’s my turn, my families turn.  But, it totally blows.

This vlog was inspired by his most trip to the ER.

How We All Doing?

Did you do okay with Christmas? This dead week is still going on. The week where work is lighter, there is no school, and you still have your lights up. It can be a nice slice of a quieter life.

Or it can be trying.

Last year the slow pace of this week drove my husband and I up the wall. We were still silently freaking out after having found out on the 12th of December that we has been largely wiped out by Bernie Madoff and company (Sidebar, just saw that a local station in North Carolina said evil M had some punches to the face or some signs of an assault. Is it wrong to want to buy the guy who did that a beer? Sidebar, sidebar, my husband said it would be a funny skit, a cop standing over a beaten Madoff asking, “Do you have an enemies?”). All we could do is try to be pro-active with what economic life we had. Talk to realtors, a budget overhaul, look around for things to sell. We wanted to get busy so we could salvage our life and stop the screaming in our heads, but it was “wait till next week!” Also, I knew I was giving birth mid-February, so I really needed to make hay.

It’s also a bad week for a mental health crisis. I have gone through that with a relative and unfortunately it is happening again with another relative. It’s the hardest time to find a bed in a mental hospital because this is the busiest time of year to snap. Christmas time is very hard on some people. But we knew that right? I thought it was interesting when I found out it is not a punch line or anecdote, people really do end up in scary, lonely situations at holiday time, and as my sister who is a licensed therapist said, “The dirty secret is there are not enough places for people with mental illness, and no one cares until they have a family member who has fallen ill.”

Which I think must be everyone. In a few hours of hearing of my family member who is in crisis, the few people who I told all had a sister who healed with electric shock, a cousin who had recently killed themselves, a brother who has to live with his parents since his release, and it went on and on.

And from my previous experience dealing this, and it seems to be following the same course this time, not all facilities are equal. Often the institution wants 1) to keep the patient from harming themselves and 2) wants them to be compliant. Which means they are put in restraints, and it feeds into whatever scary scenario the injured brain had already manifested. There isn’t a course of treatment. And good luck getting a doctor to get on the phone with you. All of us were stiff with tension, minds distracted. I keep saying “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The constant balance of talking to shrinks, while playing happily with your little kids. “Everything is fine! Let’s play catch.” While you wonder if an anti-psychotic would be better than anti-anxiety drug.

A few years ago when we were mired in this, it was about a 4-month journey. At the other end was a breathtaking recovery. But nonetheless on the other side was also a changed life. A much, much better life than had seemed possible in that holiday time, but it was a different one.

No wonder I dread Christmas.

Empathy

I’ll be honest, I’m still a bit rattled by some of the reactions to the vlog, “What to Say.” What got me were the comments that basically went like this, “Hey, former rich lady, quit your crying a lot of people have it worse than you.” The line that really got me was, “I don’t feel sorry for you.”

I have exposed myself more than I had EVER planned to when I started on this blogger path. I think I was a tad naive about the boundaries here. Since there aren’t many. I really only wanted to do amusing videos and help moms feel less isolated. But one can’t always find the humor in life. And after many months of saying nothing, I did decided to reveal on Cool Mom arguably the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me. And NOT just me, but my stepchildren, my husband, some of their relatives, and my own children. As all moms know, it’s one thing to have something happen to you, but when something affects your kids, it hurts much more.

On Momversation, there was recently a discussion about Jon & Kate Plus 8. Some have criticized the parents for exposing their kids to the TV glare, that everyone will have seen their divorce unfold on TV. Well, at least in LA, it was quickly known that my husband was invested through a feeder fun with Bernie Madoff. So, my children will grow up with their friends knowing more details of our personal financial life than most ever share. My stepchildren have had people come up to them, “Sorry about what happened to your family.” etc. And yes, that pisses me off. I’m sorry that will be a part of their personal biography. But as I often tell myself, one can’t control others actions, one can only control how one RESPONDS. So, that is why I thought, well, let’s try to find the silver lining here.  And I don’t mean the obvious, “Hey we have our health.” But all the people who are going through financial turmoil can reach out to each other and not feel alone, not feel isolated. Again, isolation is a theme here.

The other aspect of the comments that irked me was after having our money stolen and having to lie to my daughter about why we are moving was to have people say, “You don’t have it that bad.” Or in a sense what at least one person said, “I never had that kind of money to lose, so shut your yap.”

In 2001, my friend Nina and I were robbed at gunpoint. The man said, “If you scream, I will kill you.” We gave them what we had and they let us go. We called the police immediately. They arrived and never did catch the guys. But as we stood there shaking, one of the police officers said, “You are lucky they didn’t rape you.” I sort of feel that was what was being said to me again, right here on this site.

When a friend has a parent die of a heart attack, do you say, “Well, my dad lingered in a cancer ward for months; be glad you never had to see you dad whither and die like I saw mine.” No, that wouldn’t be kind. You will have 1) taken the opportunity for your friend to express their grief and 2) made it all about yourself.

But one might say… “I’m so sorry for your loss, at least he went peacefully and wasn’t in pain for long.”

It’s very slight the change in speaking one has to make to say “the right thing.”

At the same party where I said to a stranger, “Well, we lost money with Madoff” who then abruptly replied, “I know.” (slap) Another person handled it more artfully. She knew I had moved out of the ‘hood and asked where we were (indicating she already knew why). She started telling me about how badly some of her families investments have gone recently. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “It’s very nice of you to share this with me,” knowing she still had her big, pretty house and all. She said, “Well, that’s why I shared it. I didn’t want you to feel it’s only you.”

That’s why I speak about what happened to me. And if you don’t like me or don’t like that Yes, I do mind having to sell my house, lose my retirement, to have the money my husband earned after building a successful business where he worked long hours and stood on his feet for years being stolen from him, then GET LOST. My setbacks, my challenges are mine. If they aren’t good enough for some, well, too bad. I have way too many other things to worry about. My son needed me to nurse him today, my daughter needed me to hear her feelings about her day, I needed to prepare for my TV job the following day. Not to mention I needed to give my husband some love and figure out when I could visit my dad in assisted living. Instead, I was preoccupied by the critical remarks I had read. Sorting this all out.

Please don’t leave me a nasty comment about this. The old axiom if you don’t have something nice to say… then just move on. Go to another blogger. I’m too raw about this issue. I’m trying to hard to move forward and not look in the rear view mirror. I had hoped to to create a forum of sorts for everyone to share stories about what they are going through. This is an unprecedented time in most of our lives.

“Please my friends be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own hard battle.”  Plato

What to Say

(Note: Not the original intro I had written. See below for ensuing sh*t storm.)

Okay, this was my attempt to do a twist on the vlog I did post miscarriage “What NOT to say” about hurtful things people said to me after that. This is what TO say because I found it was hard when people didn’t say anything after we found out we had been robbed and had to sell our house.

Frankly, this vlog was not as successful as the one I patterning it after. I think I tried to cram too much in. But the take-away for me to remember is: if someone’s misfortune is uncomfortable to you, imagine how it is for them.

Not that I’m always succesful at this… work in progress.

Madoff Sentencing

I knew Madoff would be sentenced on Monday.  I didn’t expect to pay much attention since whether he got 25 or 150 years it would make NO difference to my family.  We were all trying to wake up after a typical night of sleep with a 4 month old when we clicked on the news as they were announcing that he would be in prison for the rest of his life.

I actually cried just a little.

It was a cry of the weariness I feel because of our theft. Of trying to muddle through and be okay.  Of mourning what we lost.  And for all the people who have lost more than we have… or rather have less of a fall back than we do.

That was that and then I needed to get Vivien her breakfast and shower.  But…

I kept getting calls from the press.  I have become a poster child for VOB (victims of Bernie). So, one local crew came to my house.  I hesitated, but I granted an interview for the same reason I blog about it.. to put a human face on this fraud .  And as always to let other people caught in the downturn to know there are so many of us who are in this mess.

Before they got here my stomach was bugging me.  I think I was having a low level anxiety attack akin to the kind I felt when we first heard we were robbed.

Had a short panic of …”what do I wear to be interviewed as a crime victim?”  In the end I kept on what I was wearing, but picked a bra with more support. This is the outfit, minus my imaginary Madoff/Chase

The reporter and cameraman were very nice.   I actually choked up a couple times talking about my kids, but they didn’t use that.  which I thought was very decent of them.  And it was pretty on the money.  I was worried they would change things up and I would regret speaking to them. some things that didn’t make it in the final cut… the reporter asked,

“How do you feel about Bernie Madoff?”

Me. ” It’s not allowed on broadcast TV what I think of him.  He is a sociopath, a serial killer.”

MOVING ON

I really do feel good most days.  I don’t think of my old house everyday or Madoff or Stanley Chase (the feeder fund we were in).  I think I’m a pretty happy person.  But, when something like this comes up…as it also did last Monday when the SEC brought suit against Chase…it throws me back.  I regress emotionally to a few months back and I don’t like that. Monday I was not as productive or happy go lucky.  I don’t like giving these thieves another chance to make me feel bad.  I hope there is a day when I can’t be pulled under, even for a day.

COPING

I think one thing that helps me is on a day I don’t have to go to work it helps to exercise.  Most of the time that’s a walk with Rex, or Stroller Striders.  Since Vivien is off from school now that is tougher.  So I get house bound mom,  feeling tubby and VOB all rolled into one!

Must try to get the endorphins up this morning.

Commencement

My daughter is about to graduate from her first year of pre-school, and since I won’t be asked to make a speech after they sing their songs, I thought I would do it here. Well, this speech isn’t for pre schoolers, but the parents and grandparents who are trying to navigate this kooky time we are in. Note: the picture is of the flowers on our mantle when we were married ( in our living room).

The NY Times reported Wednesday that the SEC has officially barred Bernie Madoff from working in the securities industry. Now, are they sure they aren’t rushing into this?

Granted he was arrested Dec. 11th 2008 for operating the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of the US, probably the world, but are they sure?  This kind of news piece gives bureaucracies their bad name for being large bloated, ineffective piles of doo.  And not just the SEC which was suppose to look out for Madoff’s to begin with.  oops, missed that one.

I don’t know if you feel like I do-since I’m a VOB ( victim of Bernie), but I feel a bit stymied about what to do with the savings I still possess and what to do with money that I hope will be coming my way one day.

Real estate, hmm, I own a money pit investment property.

Stocks… what would you buy?  One has to be super sharp for that and watch it minute by minute.  Index funds, we all lost on those.

Bonds… should it still be 30% of your portfolio?

Muni bonds, conservative, but not FDIC insured.

Okay, then savings account, but the interest is so low it doesn’t add up to the time and value of money.

Which also can cancel out..

The mattress.

Diversification!  Ah, how much, where?

I have one friend who uses a financial manager, but they take 5% of your gross.  One would have to make some decent change to part with that.  And don’t we sometimes read about those guys being small time Madoff’s ? Not only for bloated rock stars.

My dad said to me recently “people don’t realize how hard it is to manage wealth.”  Which is why I think he will get the last laugh since he had a county job for over 30 years. He retired with a 110% pension plus medical.  He never owned a yacht, but he won’t be eating cat food in his golden years.  In fact he eats too much.

Like so many things in the entertainment business people’s success is partly about luck.

There was an interview with Clarence Otis jr, CEO of Darden restaurants ( they own Olive Garden, Red lobster) in NY times business page the other week.  He was asked about career advice.  He said,'”..it’s not about planning it. Things are too dynamic;there’s too much going; there are too many things that’ll pop up, good and bad.” “…it’s about preparation and building skills. and if you do that, then you’ll recover  from  the mishaps, and you be able to take advantage of the opportunities.”

This line spoke to me with what my family is going through now and I thought it might hit for some of you.  I thought we were set.  I had planned to live in our home for 30 years.  But, fortunately, my husband and I are still prepared to work and have skills.  So true about things being “dynamic”.  Think how quickly technology has changed?  If someone told me a couple years ago I’d be blogging I would have thought they were talking about flogging with lisp. And I was never into S and M so I would have been confused.

So, the moral of the story is, we can’t over plan.  That’s why when we camp our car is packed to the rafters, cause you never know. And call me a militia men, but don’t count on someone else to police where your funds are.  It’s not like we live in a failed state, but as my hero Frank Sinatra use to say:

Be Aware, Always Be Aware.

White Trash Couch

Well, we are wrapping up “Madoff Week” here on Cool Mom. Our money being stolen caused one behavioral change in me: how I reacted to Vivien getting furniture or rugs dirty. Before I would be like, “Oh, Vivien, you need to be more careful.” The first week after we found out the trajectory of our lives was up for grabs, I practically cried if she spilled on my couch, “Vivien, this cost mommy a lot of money” (when she had it).  “Please no more food near my couch.” (I started calling everything ‘mine,” taking it all personally).

Then I realized that having a 3 year old and wanting to preserve furniture that I could no longer afford to replace was setting us up for failure. So, this was my temporary solution. A little later, the couch you see was loaded up and sits in my mother in law’s spare room. I had two couches; now I only have room for one. And there is NO eating on it. The good thing about a small house is Vivien can see the TV from our dining room… and the computer… and the toaster… you get the picture.

The Stages 1) Sadness 2) Barf 3) a Mix Tape

Years ago, TV reporter Betty Rollin wrote a memoir called First, You Cry about her experience being diagnosed with breast cancer and then having a mastectomy (later made into a movie of the week with Mary Tyler Moore, natch). I kept thinking of that title the first few days after my husband called me on the way home from work one day to say we had lost the majority of our net worth. That we had invested in a scam. I was on my way to pick up Vivien from school. I was numb for a few minutes, but as I saw Vivien drawing near with her teacher, my eyes welled up, and I couldn’t keep quiet.  I blurted to her teacher what I had just found out and started crying, hard.  The teacher was very nice.

“We are going to have to sell our house,” I cried. I tried to pull it together and asked Viv to come home with me. She was not budging; she was pissed at my emotional outburst. That would be the last time I cried in front of her.

That evening I dropped Vivien off at my mother’s. I had to be alone. I drove around town in hysterics. I called my family members sobbing like you do when you’re a kid. I called one of my best friends and did the same. They were all stunned.

Mark and I had calm talks about what was best to do. We could stay in the house for as much as two years, but then if the economy didn’t turn around I’d be afraid it would like Grey Gardens, and then we’d have to sell it, cats and all. The first night I woke up every 45 minutes and vomited.  I spent a day returning all our Christmas presents except for most of Vivien’s (I couldn’t part with her recently requested super hero costume), and I kept back one each for my stepsons and Mark.

I cancelled every trip we had planned, told my pilates instructor to consider me dead. I cast about for things to sell. An older friend said, “Yeah, when people we’ve known have gone through this, they always panic and sell too much of their stuff.”  I was so taken aback.  I was so deep in my grief, pain, shock that I thought, “He knows people who have gone through this? There is a pattern?”  Kind of like after a break-up, I figured MY pain was the ONLY pain.

A few days later, I went next door and cried to my neighbors. They told me that they had a different kind of downturn and would soon be decamping to a rental apartment. That’s when I started to realize it was better to talk about it, and how widespread this reversal was.

Over the holidays, my wonderful stepdaughter Vanessa visited. She has amazing strength. She had lost her own money but was more concerned with us. She would say, “What can I do for you?”  I would often say, “Please play with Vivien; I have to go and lie down.” Not just ’cause I was 7 months pregnant, but because I was emotionally fatigued and wanted to cry in private without Vivien seeing me. And as I have often said, “When the going gets tough, the Brogdons go to bed.”

I kept waking up at 5 a.m., unable to go back to bed. I was scanning for new Madoff developments. To read that he was still in his NY penthouse at this time galled. I would look and see what houses were going for. I would look at Craigslist to gauge how much I could sell a couch for.

But one morning I woke up thinking these feelings were parallel to a bad break-up.  And I asked myself what I used to do after a break-up to help me get through it. Sleep with a stranger? No, that made me feel worse. Starved myself and lost 10 lbs.?  No, I’m pregnant, have to protect the baby. Ah, I used to make a mix tape. Eureka.

I went down to my computer and I made a mix called “ripped off”. It started with Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”

“You are riding high in April, shot down in May.”  How true.

Then the part where you want your lover/money back.  “Why,” Annie Lennox.

You want to feel the love/security of money one more time? “Touch Me in the Morning,” Diana Ross.

Just full blown wallow “We Are the Broken Hearted,” Back Porch Mary.

And then why did I date that guy/ why wasn’t I more diversified?  “What Kind of Fool Am I ?” Sammy Davis Jr.

Then a little anger creeps in… “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady,”  Helen Reddy.

Survival… “Knowing Me, Knowing You” by Abba; “Don’t Look Back” by the Temptations, and of course like any good post break-up, I had to put on: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.

Followed by Sam Cooke’s “Get Yourself Another Fool.” I dragged myself to look beyond the horizon with the Carpenters’s “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “No More Tears( Enough Is Enough)” by Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand. I began the next section of renewel with “Believe” by Cher.

Years ago I had a friend who was working in Yugoslavia as the civil war was ending. Cher’s song was new then, and he said when the peace accord was signed, people ran into the street and blasted that song. Thus, he had loved that song ever since. I figured if people who survived genocide and total civil unrest could look forward, I certainly could over some cash. I reminded myself of all that I have and that “They Can’t Take that Away from Me” (Fred Astaire) not “My Favorite Things” (Julie Andrews).

I wrapped up with “Not Going to Cry ” by Mary J. Blige, “The Best Is Yet to Come” by Tony Bennett, and finally, “Let’s Hang On” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

And then I ate a bowl of cereal and wondered if the drapes would fit windows in another house.