No Deadly Weapons Sold Here

When I had the idea to do funny videoes online for parents I thought I might make a little money from it. But I really wanted to do it as a creative platform to help people feel connected, which is what I think humor ultimately can do.  Ironically, as this experiment called CoolMom.com has gone on I have found that:

  1. It’s harder to make money online than I realized and glad I was naive or I would have never done it (you know, like motherhood).
  2. Unlike when I started CoolMom, now I do need some money.

You all know what happened to us so I won’t belabor that.  But, to that end I have made attempts to get some sponsorship for this site.  The ads on here so far have all been of the click through variety that don’t bring in much  (but, by all means click through).

But in the next few weeks you’ll start seeing videos that have some product “integration.”  We do that on my TV show and never say we are doing integration.  But, in this format it’s different.  It feels more intimate.  So I want you to know that the advertisers I have spoken with about doing a vid are all products I’ve tried myself and am okay with.  I’m not going to be advertising bullets. Also I will say clearly when something is an ad integration.  I want to keep my same voice.

I was at a mixer the other night and met so many great, smart gals who know a lot more about this space than I do and they all thought I was missing an opportunity as CoolMom.com has grown over the last 2 years.

Okay, are we okay?  Thanks for coming to CoolMom.com I really appreciate it.

Finances and Friends: Momversation

Have you felt your friendships changed because you did or did not have money? Rebecca from Girl’s Gone Child asks the question. Since we have moved, I have noticed a few less invites from some friends with big houses, but real friends stay constant.

I think we have discriminated somewhat against people who have bad taste in food. It’s just hard not to with Mark as my mate. But that doesn’t mean money.   have plenty of friends who cook up some yummy vittles in their small apartment kitchens. But, even so, sometimes you have to eat the crap they want if you really love them.

Watch the vid, and tell me what you think. I liked Giyen’s comment (Bacon Is My Enemy); it rang true.

California Dystopia

I know I’m not the only one living in a state in crisis, but since I am a born-and-bred Californian, this essay by Peggy Orenstein hit home. The difference in our formerly ideal University system in my own lifetime is dramatic. And then throw in our out-of-reach real estate prices, and I totally get the folks who say, “Forget this!” and move to Las Vegas, Texas, North Carolina, etc. The percentage of your income to the price of housing is totally out of whack. Even in this supposedly flat real estate market, a million dollars can get you a fixer. Unless of course you want to drive 90 minutes to work, then maybe a family home is about $600,000.

I have a few childhood friends who took over their parents’ or grandparents’ homes. Bought out the other heirs, did a little remodeling (or not), and now raise their own families where they were little kids. The first time I heard about this (maybe 15 years ago) I thought it was quaint, practical. Now, I see it as near essential for most people to stay in the parts of California that are job centers.

It’s strange for us, the generation raised seeing our parents do better than theirs, and we are expected to do better than our folks. In actual fact, it’s going to be tough to just rock steady on the same plane they existed on.

Although to be fair, we do have better food and wine than when we were kids. At least there is that.

I Want a Flunky!

It can’t all be recession talk right? We need to look forward! Visualize our coming prosperity. Money is great to have for so many reasons; well, here I discuss one of the less talked about reasons why it would be great to have money. Or “f- you” as I like to think of it… so much money you can have whatever you want.

Other than the greatest hits, (roof over head, good schools, chocolate) what are some off-beat things you would like with your future lottery winnings?

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.

When Do You Leave the Baby?

I’ve kind of been itching for a night.. or two away on my own.  Either solo or with my husband. When Vivien was 6 months I took off for 24 hours by myself for a birthday present to me.  I took the pump and she was with my husband and my mom.  When she was about 14 months, I went on a 48 business trip.  I have done a couple of those since then.  But, now with baby Rex I’m finding leaving to be harder.

Money wise I’m looking at stuff that wouldn’t cost a lot, use miles, stay at a friends, stuff like that.  But, here is my thinking if it’s with my husband we can’t leave for more than 24 hours.  If he stays I can go for 36 hours.  If I can bank enough milk.  And then I hear my mom’s voice, “leave a nursling?”  And it stops me in my tracks.

I was just playing with Rex, singing “itsy bitsy spider”, which he loves.  Kissing his toes which made him laugh like Ed McMahon (God rest his soul). And I think, sure I ‘d love to have wine with friends, go to a show, sleep all night, but what is better than this and more fleeting?  Stay at home, save up for a big trip. Get over it.

But, I still want to go…

I once met a woman who said she left her 6 week old for two weeks to go Italy with her husband and I almost threw up.

On the other hand I have a friend who has not spent one night away from her daughter who is now 4.  That makes me itchy.

When did you leave your baby, if ever?  And for how long?  Can one justify it if it’s not related to work?

More Craigslist Drama

No, I wasn’t killed. But you know how I wanted to sell our old bed?  Well, I posted it on craigslist, and I used my husband’s work as the “meet up” place if asked. Well, I get a couple of emails from a guy who wants to buy it. He then says he can’t get there himself, so he will send me a cashier’s check with the amount I’m asking for the bed-$400-plus what it would cost to ship. Thought it seemed a bit weird. Who spends money without making sure the bed is OK?

But OK.

So at my husband’s work he gets a UPS envelope addressed to me with an unfamiliar return address that does NOT match the name on the email of the person who wrote to me. Inside is a cashier’s check for $3,200!  But the return address is not Turkey; it’s in California. And there is NO note. All very weird. I email the guy and ask him for clarification, and I get nothing.

I smell weirdness.

My guess is if I go to cash this check, it will be full of beans, and I would have shipped of my bed for free. Has anyone heard of this scam? I held the check up, and there is no visible watermark.

Meanwhile, I told a lady I had sold the bed when she asked. Harumph.  Gotta try to sell it to the psychos again.

My Letter to the Editor

Well, after my big vlog yesterday, as promised it’s going to be all geared toward “reversal of fortune” this week on Cool Mom. And again, thank you so much for the dear comments. I appreciate them, and I also appreciate the lows that others are going through or have come out of.  Makes me think of what a mentor told me in college years ago,

“Daphne, you know life is not like a movie, that it’s not on a constant upward trajectory?”

Me: “Of course I know that.”  Inside I was like, “Crap, yes, I thought it was like a movie; I thought it was a constant upward trajectory.”  How she read me so well, I do not know.  Well, the last few years have felt pretty good… despite aging father and such. But, dang, someone just grabbed that fun romantic comedy I was watching in the DVD player and threw in another with some dark turns. Wait, look another DVD is coming back in,  it’s the “comeback” story, the “As God as my witness, I will never be ripped off  by a Wall Street creep again!”

Wouldn’t be great if the whole country right now could cut to the montage? The one where in 90 seconds we get slim, smart, and prosperous?

ANYWAY…

Last week I wrote a letter to the editor of the LA Times business page. Here it is.  I was rather proud of it. The one thing I would add to this is the SIPC funds we read about (most recently one said $30 million given so far to Madoff victims) is only if one was a Madoff client. Myself and other family members were not.  We were in a feeder fund who didn’t disclose that he was taking a fee… a sizable one… to hand over 100% of said funds to Madoff. The gov’t doesn’t count us for the SIPC. I bring this up just because it’s easy to think “Hey you Madoff people quit your whining; you’re going to get 500 grand.” We will not. We are praying that we do get some of the taxes back we paid on the phantom profits.  But as I say in the letter that won’t do anything for my IRA or my husband’s. That’s Puff the Magic Dragon time.

People talk about how the economy is in trouble because everyone was spending and not saving. Ha, ha, I started my IRA when I was 16 and was making $3.75 an hour. I am sure you all know how hard it is to save when you make that wage. I wish I had spent more money; then at least I’d have something to show for it!  Also, most everyone I know in Miami is in foreclosure, and I have a terrible property there I bought before I was married. It’s very under water, fiscally speaking. Irks me when I hear people talk about “speculators.” I mostly know moms who were trying to supplement their families’ incomes by buying a condo or a house, fixing it up, and selling it.  A year ago, they would have been called entrepreneurs; now they are speculators?  They (me) got caught.  So many of us got caught in this mess.  Ideas that seemed like a good idea a few years ago are a disaster now.

I don’t know about you, but it can certainly undermined my confidence.  And I will be slow to give anyone else financial advice in the future.

I Am a Madoff Victim

This has been the hardest blog post for me to do. When I vlogged about my miscarriage that was challenging, but this has other layers to it. By revealing about how we were robbed, how we are part of possibly the largest financial fraud in US History, I am not only disclosing my own life, but the life of my family. I didn’t blog about this before for many reasons. Chief was absolute shock. Then, it was too painful to discuss except with very close friends. I still have some friends I haven’t told. Sometimes it exhausts me too much to do so. Then when I wanted to blog about it, my husband didn’t want me too. I think like anyone who has either been in mourning or been the victim of a crime there are the stages you go through. For me this was both. We were robbed. Someone sits in jail right now because of what has happened to us and thousands of others. And it has altered the trajectory of my life. Many assumptions that I made are no longer valid. To have a secure retirement gave me a buoyancy I no longer possess. I would like that back.

I also didn’t want to blog about it if it was just for me to vent. I didn’t start this online adventure to be a Dear Diary, but I have been touched by comments that some of you have made on this site about your own struggles with the economy. So, I thought maybe by doing this we could help each other through a historical low. One of my initial reactions when we heard that our money was gone was to beat myself up… and my husband. We should have been more diversified ( we were, but not enough), we should have done this or that. And it did help when we realized that we were not part of a small fund like we had been led to believe, but a world wide one where people more savvy or richer than us were also robbed. Mort Zuckerman, Kevin Bacon, Steven Spielberg. And also better people than us, Elie Wiesel (who steals from Holocaust survivors?!)  I also started to hear from friends and neighbors how they too thought they might need to sell their house or move in with relatives, and it was for other reasons than our own, a real estate deal gone south, unemployment.

So, going forward I’m in a sense catching you all up with what I have been personally struggling with for the last 6 months. There is so much to say about this. But I’m still going to have some funny blogs and funny videos, because my whole life comedy has meant a great deal to me. It is healing (remind me to tell you about doing improv for chronic pain patients), and it has dictated my entire career to me. And like the saying goes, tragedy plus time equals comedy.

Have you heard about the pregnant lady who found out she had been robbed? Ah, yeah, not funny yet.