Friday, July 30, 2010

A True Celebrity Crash-Up

Where am I and how did I get here?

This is an accurate paraphrase of the thought that kept churning through my head on the most unusual evening out that I spent when I lived in California.

Not long after moving to San Diego in 2005, the husband and I decided to go visit my best friend Laura who had lived in L.A. since 2001. In the four years since moving there, she had acquired an eclectic group of friends and I had enjoyed so many of her stories. Now, only a couple hours drive from her home, I just couldn’t wait to see her.

So on a Friday afternoon we loaded up my dad, Baby EB, and our best We’re In California and SOOOO Spontaneous Now attitude, and drove north. I don’t remember that we had a plan, except that we were staying in a fancy hotel and going out with Laura. Her boyfriend (at the time) had a business dinner planned at the Chateau Marmont, and so immediately following that dinner we were going to hook up with him.

My memory of the Big Things in life isn’t great. But I do recall drinks at a VERY crowded outdoor bar next door to The Chateau, and seeing a whole bunch of girls who were trying with all their might to look like Britney Spears.

At some point Laura told us that it was time to go next door. So we dutifully left the outdoor bar and walked over to The Chateau. The entrance actually looked like a long driveway, sort of like a back door. And there were two security guys standing at the gate. As we approached them, something really funny (to me) happened so fast. We acted like we were heading in. They stopped us and said we couldn’t because the restaurant was full. Laura immediately told them we were guests of a particular celebrity. And suddenly I felt like I was in that scene from The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy, et al., approach the gates of the Emerald City:

Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: … Now, state your business!

Dorothy: [Dorothy and friends, all together] We want to see the Wizard!

Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: [gasps] The Wizard? But nobody can see the Great Oz! Nobody's ever seen the Great Oz! Even I've never seen him!

Dorothy: Well, then how do you know there is one?

Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Oh, you're wasting my time!
[starts to close the window]

Dorothy: Oh, please! Please, sir! I've got to see the Wizard! The Good Witch of the North sent me!

Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Prove it!

Scarecrow: She's wearing the ruby slippers she gave her.

Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Oh, so she is! Well, bust my buttons! Why didn't you say that in the first place? That's a horse of a different color! Come on in!

And on in did we come!

After a while at The Chateau with Laura's Gorilla and JK and Spike, someone decided it was time to move on. So we all headed out the door, back down the driveway. JK lagged behind a bit, and even I could tell that something was… how do I say it… not quite right.

Suddenly from behind I heard hurried footsteps. And then out of the darkness came JK, holding a plate absconded from The Chateau, which he proceeded to CRASH over Spike's head.

(This was the first time I had ever seen someone crash a dinner plate over someone else’s head in real life, and I had the distinct impression that it was all in good fun. That’s not normal to me.)

Once the cackling slowed, various pieces of porcelain were picked out of Spike's hair (and head), and it was determined that none of the bleeding needed immediate medical attention, we continued on our way to Ye Coach and Horses, a regular haunt for this group. Because that’s just what you do after someone’s scalp is lacerated by a good friend and a dinner plate.

The rest of the evening was extraordinarily ordinary, and so I remember it well. I had a really great time sitting next to one of this generation’s most wickedly brilliant talents in the film industry, and just chatting life. We talked more about my job than we did his. And though I’ve only visited with him a time or two since then, my sense is that this is just how he is. He (just like The Gorilla) is really, genuinely interested in what you have to say. He is interested in the human element. He is interested in people.

And as a side note, I often think about the little life lesson I took from that night: the value of being able to make someone else feel like they are the important one in a conversation. When I have consciously attempted to employ that social approach, I find that I gain way more than I take.

**This story is part of Hollywood Housewife’s Celebrity Crash Link-Up. This week it has been super fun to read all the stories she has written as she toasts, and relives, everything that was involved in her decision to move to Los Angeles nine years ago. You should definitely check her out!!**

photo by brokentrinkets

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grosgrain and Mammograms

Isn’t it funny how sometimes the Big Events in life can pass by with little more than a nod, while the smallest moments can take on monumental weight and leave you emotionally reeling?

Or maybe it’s just me.

I guess I’ve never really been good at wrapping my arms around a moment just because it's supposed to be big. Those days can be special, for sure. But little things that catch me off guard tend to brand right into my brain with an unmasked smoldering that lasts far longer than I could ever predict.

I loved the days my babies were born. But my clearest memories of each of them are made up of a smattering of much more ordinary moments when, for any number of reasons, something seemingly mundane just enraptured my mind’s eye.

My wedding day is a beautiful memory, but together we have experienced some extraordinary regular days that I can replay in my head with gorgeous, excruciating detail. And that I undoubtedly enjoyed even more than the day I said I do.

When I turned 30, I expected to feel older. More mature. More civilized. I really did. I didn’t expect to feel “old,” but I did secretly worry a little bit that suddenly things would look a little less… optimistic? Fresh? I don’t know. But I knew it was supposed to be a Big Freakin' Deal. I did my best to prepare for that feeling. Whatever it was that I expected, though, it didn’t happen. I sailed right past 30 with little more than a nod, and continued to enjoy all the ordinary and extraordinary that came along in due course. In fact, so far my 30s have been way better than my 20s.

And then last week two things happened that sort of came down in a very polite but fervent crashing kind of way.

Or something.

First, one of my friends posted this picture to her Facebook status:

With a caption that read: It's that time of year again! Cheer camp next week.

As I viewed the darling ribbon and read the caption, I sank completely into a memory pool of pom camp and ponytails and the perfect grosgrain bow. There was a special technique to ensuring that the ribbon neatly covered the underlying rubber band without ever sliding out of your hair. And the ribbon had to be cut just the right length. Too short, and the bow wouldn’t tie. Too long and the look was limp and stringy.

And then I realized that, absent command attendance at a 1950’s-style costume party, I’ll likely not wear a grosgrain ribbon in my hair ever again.

It isn’t that I wore one last week but today it would be inappropriate. Honestly I don’t remember the last time I wore a ribbon in my hair – probably college.

But for the first time ever I have to say unequivocally that I am Too Old for something. Something that I might, possibly, be inclined to do if I weren’t Too Old.

Last week I was visiting with a dear friend who is my age. Out of the blue, she told me that she had discovered a lump in her breast, and despite every factor weighing in her favor, her doctor has recommended a mammogram. She is 33.

When I asked for more detail on the doctor’s recommendation, my friend recounted their conversation. After a discussion of family history and (lack of) apparent risk factors, the doctor simply said “well, a mammogram won’t hurt anything. Anyway, it’s good to have a baseline. We are seeing more women in their 30’s…

It’s good to have a baseline. Not quite “this could be cancer,” but certainly not “you’re so young that I’m willing to rule it out.”


These moments keep showing up in my daydreams. Maybe they stand out because I wasn’t looking for them. Or at least I wasn’t prepared. Who really expects a picture of colorful ribbon to make you revisit your personal mission statement? Who knew that a friend’s almost-routine doctor visit would send me tumbling into questions of age and aging? I wasn’t just stumbling through Life, oblivious to the fact that we’re all transitioning from one stage to the next, after all, and so I felt a bit betrayed by my own surprise. For a few days I wanted to say to my swirly head, “straighten up. you're overreacting. now don’t you think that was a bit uncalled for?”

And while those moments seem really quite small, I have a hunch that I won't forget either of them. The smoldering hasn't stopped. And the thought train I'm on shows no signs of returning to the station.

I think my changed relationship with grosgrain ribbon and a friend's recommended mammogram may fall in the category of Big Events for me. And I've decided I kind of like it that way.

Because, after all, it's this same swirly head of mine that regularly recalls an ordinary overcast day at the park three years ago, pushing my first born in a swing and eating sandwiches from Subway while my three-weeks old Main Man lay quietly in his infant carrier. Plain 'ole day turned one of my most cherished, and crystal clear, Big Events. Also a bit uncalled for. In a really good way.

And you?

Main Event Bar photo by Robby Virus

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On Becoming Wise

At 33 I don’t consider that I’ve had enough experience in most of Life to claim any particular level of wisdom. To me, wisdom isn’t something you learn in a book. Wisdom is earned. In the trenches. By falling down over and over. And then picking yourself up and taking another step. In fact, as I look over my relatively few years as a grown up, the areas about which I have gained any wisdom worth sharing aren’t littered with rose petals and memories of sheer delight or unmatched success. I see some bruises, some injuries, some residual scars that remind me of lessons learned. As much as I hate admitting it, though, the hard lessons are the ones worth learning.

This week an organization dedicated to espousing a particular approach to parenting infants is hosting its annual leadership conference. Since 2004, Tulip Girl has faithfully hosted her own online week dedicated to creating a platform for voicing concerns over the Growing Families International parenting materials. While I have much to say about Gary Ezzo’s infant parenting guide On Becoming BabyWise (and not all bad things by any means), that is not the purpose of this post. Rather, as God would have it, a Divine intersection of opportunity and gentle encouragement was presented to me in the last 24 hours, and I want to share that here.

This morning, following an insightful post from my dear friend Megan, I sent the following note to a friend who will welcome Baby #2 in a matter of days:

Hi, friend! I can’t believe I didn't realize Baby’s arrival was so close! I'll be thinking of you next week.

I thought I'd send you a quick note just in case you may find this helpful later on. I did BabyWise with my first daughter (who is now 5 1/2!!!) and it worked beautifully. 27 months later my son was born. I tried the same approach and had very little success. In fact, it turns out he is just a very different person than she is, and that was reflected in their different responses to the BW approach.

With my youngest daughter (now 9 months), I actually took an almost completely child-directed approach (we keep a solid routine, but lots of variation within that basic routine) and it has been a wonderful experience.

I only raise this because, like you, I had a baby who did very well with BW first, so when things got rough with my little man I was at a loss. I wish someone who had gone through it before would have gently told me that it was okay if the "system" didn't feel right with subsequent bambinos!! In the course of all this I found some fabulous support and other resources that have been very helpful. I'd be more than happy to share those with you if at any point you're interested.

All the best to you next week! I can't wait to hear the big announcement and see pictures!!

I typed the note in a hurry (on my iPhone) and went about my morning. A few hours later, I reread what I wrote, and it brought tears to my eyes. Not tears of sadness or regret or even, really, joy. But tears of awe over how many sleepless nights and wild emotions and fears and questions and answered prayers were all bound up and represented in those three paragraphs. Tears of deep-rooted satisfaction over that feeling I remember so well, each time I came to know something new and unique about each of my babies’ personalities.

And, above all, tears of immense, indescribable gratitude to a sweet Father who gently guided, and continues to guide, my heart as I work to make parenting decisions that are right by my babes.

I’m not an expert on parenting – not on teething rings or best bottles or discipline or whether my kids should call our friends Mrs. Jones or Miss Cara or, simply, Aiden’s Mama. But what I realize now is that I have earned a gentle, quiet confidence in making my best effort at guiding these munchkins. And most importantly, I have allowed myself to sink deeply into a bath of Grace that washes over my every step as a mama.

Ironically, none of the Grace and very little of the Wisdom I associate with my parenting journey has come from reading a book that claimed to make me Wise. And yet it is that Grace and Wisdom that I yearn for, and that brings me to closer communion with my Creator.

I beg God daily for Grace. I thank Him for even a thimble full of Wisdom. And I pray that whether your journey is in parenting children or loving your spouse or giving to your community, you will experience Grace through the rough spots and the gift of His Hand-Wrought Wisdom.

If you care to read from one of the most gracious, beautiful authors I know on a true Spirit-led approach to parenting, I encourage you to spend some time with Megan at SortaCrunchy. She shares her heart without reservation on all topics parenting, and I promise that you will be blessed in a tangible way.

photo by Raphael Goetter

Monday, July 12, 2010

Extra proud...

This weekend some friends invited us to their home for dinner. As soon as we hit the door, EB proceeded directly to our hostess and gushed, "Hi, Cara! I lost four teeth!!" Cara immediately showed exceeding interest in my daughter's gaping grin.

Not to be outdone, Main Man wriggled his way into the conversation. With excitement equivalent to that of his sister, he announced, "Hi, Cara!! I tee-teed in my pants at the movie theater last night!"

Alas, both statements were true.

photo by evelynishire