Sunday, October 27, 2013

Airing My Dirty Laundry in Awesome

It's 8am on a Sunday and I am at the laundry mat and I couldn't be happier. There is one washing machine in our building for 29 units. There are 30 units, but the people below us paid to have plumbing rerouted to install a unit in their apartment, which I never really understood until now. The laundry machine has been out of order for over a month now. I held off for a few weeks in the hopes that they would actually fix it, but when the mountain started to tumble over I figure I had to come up with a new solution.

I've gone to extreme lengths in the past when the machine was out. I once took seven loads and a  five month old over to my mother-in-laws the day she was moving. I did laundry and supervised a baby while she crawled amongst moving boxes as they were loaded onto a moving truck. But this time I just went to the laundry mat across the street.

I'd never been to a public laundry mat before. I'd managed to avoid it for the first 35 years of my life and I was at first feeling pretty bad that I needed to break that streak. It felt like something for the college years. I shouldn't have associated it with a giant step back in upward mobility but initially I did. That is until I actually got there.

This place is great. It's airy, bright, there's plenty of seating and free wifi - and it's quiet. Oh so quiet. Here I am on a Sunday morning, getting to write this and read blogs and watch Downton Abbey on my laptop if I want to  - all by myself. Glorious peace.

I even have a confession to make - as I was dragging three laundry baskets down to the car this morning, I noticed the "out of order" sign was down. Sure I could have turned around - gone back upstair and done the loads one by one while enjoying a Sunday morning with my family. But I headed to the car instead. I've been up since 5:30 with my daughter (alone while my husband slept in) and I wanted a little me time. Is that so horrible? I don't think so.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Remember 15?

I just read a coming of age script about a teenage girl in the 70s. I piled a bunch of pillows on my office rug and sprawled out with my laptop, a cup of coffee and a giant chocolate chip cookie, as if it was my bedroom. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do. It brought me back to be being fifteen.

Do you remember 15? Feeling everything so intensely. I remember dating inappropriate boys and hiding them from my parents. Annoying little sisters. Writing zines. Feeling really alone and also under a microscope all at the same time. I can picture my bedroom - the collage / shrine to Kurt Cobain.

I wonder what Em will be like when she's 15. Will she hate me? I guess that's partially inevitable right? Don't all daughters hate their moms at some point? Will she tell me what's going on in her life or will I have the urge to snoop? What will she look like? What will she be in to?

I think my mom and I are so different even now, but at fifteen I couldn't see any resemblance. Will I see it in her?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are You the Best?

There was a poll on BabyCenter today that asked the question: "Do you consider yourself the best parent you know?" Sixty-eight percent said no.

For me parenting is a little like being bipolar. There is the side of me that secretly judges other parents and feels morally superior and the other side of me that is crippled by self-doubt. But judging by these poll results, I think that's probably a pretty common problem.

A friend of mine is a SAHM. Her daughter was fully potty-trained by 2 1/2, knows sign language and is super verbal. My friend made all her daughter's food from scratch, buys only educational toys, is religious about daily story time and used to cut out pictures of babies from magazines and make collages to show her daughter. I don't fully understand the point of the last one, but I'm sure it helps assist something developmentally desirable.

I know I will never be that mom. I look up at her on the pedestal I've put her on and think she's the perfect mom in so many ways. Some people might say - overbearing helicopter mom - but her daughter is one of the most well-adjusted polite, funny, smart kids I know. As much as part of me wishes I could be that, a larger part of me is exhausted even thinking about it. She gave me her baby cookbook when she was done with it. I've flipped through it a few times and looked at the pretty pictures.

I have another friend who is overwhelming burdened by her working mom guilt. The kind that makes it hard to see the forest from the trees.  She leaves the house before her kids wake up and she's home after they go to sleep. Her mommy-daughter quality time takes place in the wee hours of the morning while breastfeeding. In many ways it's a single parent household with her husband taking on the burden of most parenting duties. But she's also a really good mom. Her kids are smart, polite and adorable. She taught her son two languages even though she was the only parent in the house who spoke one of them.

We all have to learn to make it work for our own circumstances. For me, I feel lucky that I get one day home alone with my daughter every week. But I also feel guilty when sometimes I just want her to nap so I can watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I think I'm a good mom. But I don't think I'm the best. There are some things I would change, but there are also things I just know I will never do so I don't bother stressing about them (too much).

Mainly, I want what we all want - to not hand down too many neuroses and inflict psychological damage that results in years of future therapy.

Friday, October 18, 2013

In Honor of My High School Boyfriend

As a teenager I hung out with some pyromaniacs. Maybe that's why "Dead Man's Lake" appeals to me. Firework obsessed teenagers in Metallica t-shirts are something I know a little bit about. I personally never lit off more than a roman candle and (one time) an M-80, but I was around enough to realize the fact that we still have all our fingers has more to do with luck than smarts.

In honor of stupid teenagers everywhere here is a horror film that could easily also work as a public service announcement.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Downtown Ain't What It Used to Be

Many people look at having kids as the death of world exploration. While I do know a couple that hiked through Nepal with their 3 year old, for most people these types of trips become great slideshow memories of a by-gone era after baby is born. I don't see any trips to Morocco in my near future, but we still try to visit something new when we can, even when that something is very close to home.

Last weekend, we made a day of downtown. For me Downtown Los Angeles has always seemed a bit like a barren wasteland. Former architectural glories turned into bodegas and tchotchke shops. This is still an accurate description of some areas, but I was surprised to see how much has changed. It's actually becoming an interesting place to be.

One of those places is The Last Bookstore. The name sounds post-apocalyptic and given the state of the bookstore industry, it's probably not far off from the truth. Walking through the doors is a little like I would imagine walking into Diagon Alley feels. It's a total secret hideaway that makes you feel pretty special for finding it. Rooms and rooms of books for $1, true crime section located in an old bank vault and people who actually seem to care about books.

Being the avid reader that she is, Em loved it just as much as my husband and I did.

But it may have been her second favorite stop that day - top honors going to the fountain at Grand Park. This is another thing that amazes me about Los Angeles. Maybe it's because there are so many parks to choose from, but it always seems to me like the best ones are the least busy. Grand Park is kind of amazing. For one, it has its own Starbucks. But better yet, there is a great fountain where barefoot toddlers and their parents can pretend to walk on water. 

Em is a very analytical child, so it took a little while for her to warm up to the concept. But it wasn't that long before she tried to hug the small geysers shooting up around her. Although next time I really need to remember to pack a change of clothes. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Now That's a Father That Loves His Kid

With Fall in the air (finally) and Halloween just around the corner, it seems only fitting to share a short film that fits the spooky spirit of the season while also showcasing the intense feelings of parenthood. It's an emotional film about a father trying to protect his child. It's odd to say I was really touched by this zombie film, but I was.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall is in the air...

Fall has always been my favorite season. There are so many changes to look forward to - cool, crispness of the air, changing leaves, seasonal drinks at Starbucks. One of my favorite Fall traditions is apple picking. Growing up my family always made an annual pilgrimage upstate to pick apples and pumpkins. I've tried to go every time I am back East during the Fall and it's something I really missed living in Los Angeles. Until now. I've done the local pumpkin picking thing here, but it's not the same. Driving 45 minutes to pick up a pumpkin that clearly didn't grow there while wearing a tank top just doesn't capture the same spirit from my childhood trips. That's why I was really excited to realize this year that there are great orchards just a little over an hour away.

So on Saturday we packed up the car and ironically headed towards the desert (and eventually up into the mountains) to pick some apples. Oak Glen has all the best parts I remember from apple picking with my family - and then ten times more. The orchards are so close together you can walk from one place to another without having to drive. Hay rides, petting zoos, general stores, apple donuts, press your own cider, throw a tomahawk, pick a pumpkin, pick some berries - it's amazing!

I wasn't sure how Em would like it, but turns out she was totally into the idea. It probably didn't hurt that sorting is one of her favorite activities right now. What's better than sitting in an orchard with bags and bags of apples that you can move from one bag to the next. It was toddler paradise. And definitely a new family tradition.