Friday, May 6, 2011


Please follow me over to my actual own website:

I did it, I actually purchased it!!!! Now let's see what happens.

Right now it's just a continuation of my blog, but I'm working on setting up a more interactive site with room for readers to add content and a way to track how those of us who struggle for our positivity keep it going in the tough times. Etc.

So please come on over to Positivity Dammit:


Monday, February 14, 2011

Bad boys and Ladies

The mood I'm in, I fear that anything I write will sound snarky, which is one of my least favorite words. Is it a portmanteau? Snide + what? Marky? As in Marky Mark? That doesn't make sense. Snide +...hold on...googling, googling...ah ha! Snide Remark shortened to Snark, which morphed into the adjective "snarky."

Why so irritated? First of all, in an attempt to stop biting and picking at my nails, I've gotten these fake acrylic things put on. No matter how many times I say "shorter" to the woman doing my manicure, she never believes that I really want extremely short fake nails. I guess it doesn't make a lot of sense. So they are longish and fakey and click when I type, making me feel like a secretary in the insurance firms where I used to temp in New Jersey.

A quick question, speaking of secretaries. When did normal people start wearing stripper shoes? I stopped in the mall on the way home, (because I had to use the bathroom quite urgently, which is a whole other story I will spare you fine readers, but suffice it to say, adding to the cranky), and in the window of Bakers, in the shoe section of JC Penneys, in Naturalizer for God's sake, everyone's selling those super-high heels that also have the platform part under the sole. I call these stripper shoes. I'm sure there's another word for them, but come on. As I drove home from the mall, a young executive crossed in front of my car in business attire - blazer, knee-length skirt, laptop, and...patent leather stripper shoes! Do I sound old? I feel like I sound old.

Which brings me to:
The Grammys.

Last night I watched - or rather fast-forwarded through- the Grammys. Watching awards shows always makes me feel like I've eaten too much junk food, a little greasy and bloated. These are the salty hangover-y questions circling my morning-after mind.

1 - Who the fuck is Lady Antebellum? I understand this is on me, and represents my rapid sliding away from pop culture, but is anyone with me on this?

2 - Talk about stripper shoes! Ladies at the Grammys are stripper-o-rama. I fell in love with that Janelle Monae last night, rocking a tuxedo and snappy loafers. I realize again that I sound old, but I just don't care. Rihanna is amazing and captivating and I can't take my eyes off her, but those crazy slow-motion-23-skidoo-knees-opening-and-closing moves are so very stripper-y. Most of the ladies had been taking pole dancing at the gym. Et tu Gwyneth? But then, like a vision: a young, beautiful, talented woman wearing a tux and leading a band like a bandleader. As a woman, as the mom of a young girl, hell, as a crotchety old feminist...thank you, Janelle Monae.

3 - Lady Gaga showed up in an egg. I read that line on Yahoo News before the show started and I laughed out loud. There's really nothing more to say.

4 - I'm not interested in Mick Jagger. You heard me. I'm 40 now and I'm entering that stage of life where you just tell it like it is and let the chips fall. Rolling Stones? Not impressed. Never have been. Oh, that felt good.

5 - Bad marriage moment. When I shared my previously-closeted feelings about the Stones, my husband said, "Really? I feel the same way about the Beatles." Time froze. My guitar gently wept. In a marriage of nine+ years there are moments when you have to step away and let it be. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. I whispered words of wisdom and I let it be.

6 - There is something that will always be super-sexy to me about seriously damaged dudes. Evidence: Eminem.

These are my "red hot shares" as they call them in my daughter's first grade class. And, coincidentally, in some 12-step meetings. Hope my snark wasn't too snarky. And seriously, who the fuck is Lady Antebellum?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What the heck?

So where did I go? I start blogging, y'all start to get a little interested and then...just like that, I disappear. It's not that I don't want to blog. I frigging love blogging. I'll blog all day long. I'll blog till the cows come home. It's just that here are the things I'm working on that require my writing time and attention:

1. A tv spec with my tv-writing husband
2. A pitch with said husband
3. Revisions of a novel I wrote in 2003-2004 then put in a drawer in order to focus on having a baby, raising a baby, going back to grad school, working as a therapist, stuff like that.
4. A screenplay. I know, I know, who in L.A. isn't? I don't care. I'm writing one. It may suck, it may rock. I don't care.
5. Several grants for our charter school, including one for an intergenerational e-penpal project that we are launching.
6. Other assorted first chapters of novels or outlines for scripts that I jot down as they come into my brain so I don't forget them.

And of course I'm still full-time momming. Oh, and I'm beyond obsessed with the word game apps on my IPhone. It's messed up how ofte I gaze longingly at my new IPhone, picturing the infinite bank of NY Times crosswords or the Tetris-like game with letters instead of shapes that requires quick spelling - oh how I love quick spelling. I justify my obsession by citing all the studies that show that as people age word games and crosswords prevent memory decline. And I'm about to 40, people, in case I haven't driven that home!

I realize as I glance over the list above, it reads as if I'm somehow blaming you - the fabulous reader, without whom I'm just shouting into the void - for how busy I am. I am not. I am actually thanking you. It has been the act of blogging, coupled with the responses I get from you all - sharing your stories, commenting on mine, giving me feedback - that has catapulted me back into the world of writing. I've never not written, but for years it was grad school papers followed by mental health assessments, therapy notes, grants for non-profits and schools, and long, late-night emails to far-flung friends. It was still writing and, like all acts of writing, filled a part of me that aches to be filled. Not kidding. Not being dramatic. Writing is my meds. If I don't get some sort of writing in during the day, I'm much crankier, insecure, and even borderline depressed.

It was that John Tesh-inspired late-night Maryland hotel room blogging tear that brought writing back to the center of my life (along with my family. Always have to make that clear out of concern that you'll visualize me as some Sylvia Plath / Virginia Woolf mash-up who can't focus on anything but the page. When I'm in it I'm in it. When I close it, I'm full-on mom.)

Since Mid-December, I have re-committed to writing with such gusto - partnering with my husband on these T.V. projects, working up the courage to open that rusty old desk drawer and pull out that rusty old novel, basically throwing my hat back into the proverbial ring. I don't blog much, but only because the 3-4 hours a day I have for writing gets eaten up so quickly by baby steps on all these other projects. Like right now, I have to dive back into the intergenerational grant thingy which is due at the end of the week. Ack. But I just wanted to write a quick post of gratitude. It is this blog, you readers, and my incredible writing group that meets in an incredible wine bar (causing our husbands to call it a drinking group at which we sometimes write) that got my chops going again. So, thank you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banana Duck

My daughter's toy camera has this feature when you can put silly graphics on photos. So she took a picture of some bananas on our counter, affixed a duck beak, then tweaked the coloring in IPhoto and came up with Pop Art - she made it all by herself. She's six years old! It's stuff like that that makes me smile big as a banana duck. I can't get over how awesome this is. I know I'm her mom, so I'm probably overzealous, but look at the composition! The humor! The artistry! Okay, moving on from Banana Duck.

One of my first posts, and the one that I've heard the most feedback about, dealt with our family's attempt to get pregnant... the difficulty we had and the struggle we went through to come to acceptance about what our family looks like. Since I wrote that post, I have heard amazing stories. Moms and dads at school give me hugs and tell me their stories. One of Sadie's best friend's dads shared with me the other day that it took 15 years for them to get pregnant. Fifteen years! Now they have two little girls. It took my grandparents nine years to get pregnant with my dad, back in the 1920s-30s, before there were fertility options, before rampant adoption from China. When I told that to my ob/gyn, the first time we were trying, she said, "Nine years and they were still having sex?" To which I replied, "Well, they didn't have kids."

The stories are wonderful, heartbreaking, inspiring. And now, I sit here distracted from the "comedy pass" I have to do on a kids' show my husband and I are writing, from editing the novel I put in a drawer for seven years and have finally pulled out, from applying for grants so our sweet little charter school doesn't go under... I'm distracted because one of my best friends finally had a baby and he's in intensive care after being born with severe lung issues. I'm now gathering stories about survival. A mutual friend - total strong mountain man - told me he was born premature, in NIC-U for two months while his lungs developed. Another friend tells me that her daughter was born with the cord around her neck and wasn't breathing for her first moments. Now she's a healthy, bright first grader. These are the stories I'm collecting today. When you put together the fertility struggles and the pregnancy complications and the crazy birth feels like a miracle that any of us are even here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Positivity, dammit dammit dammit. Who dat?

When a military psychologist went on a shooting spree in Fort Hood last year, the principal at my daughter's last school had a moment of silence at the assembly, after explaining that it was for the "men and women who were fighting for our country who were killed by gunshot wounds..." I wanted to punch him in the nose. Sadie was in kindergarten and she looked over at me - thankfully I was there for some award presentation or fundraising something before I headed downtown to work - and I threw her the most comforting, loving look I could. I waited for her to ask about it later but didn't bring it up when she didn't. I did speak to the principal, reminded him that not all parents choose to leave television news spewing around the house or talk about developmentally inappropriate subjects in front of their children. I threw out my Marriage and Family Therapist credential, my master's in psychology, to impress upon him that five year olds don't need to be hearing about massive shooting sprees. They can't process that kind of rage and violence. I can't process that kind of rage and violence. And I'm about to be 40. That may have been the day I decided to search for a new school. A school where the people in charge really take care of our children, consider them their children, consider them precious. I believe we have found those people and that school.

When I was teaching first grade in South Central in 2001 - yep, that's right, I done a lot of things - I woke up, as did the nation, to the 9/11 news. I didn't have a child yet, and if I had I suppose I would've had to figure out a very simple, clear way to explain the mass mourning, the national fear, my own tears. I wonder how I would've done it. What I would not have done - and what many of the parents of the children in my class had done - was leave the television on, burning those terrifying images into the brains of six year olds. How do they process that? How do any of us?

Yesterday as we watched the football play-offs at a new friend's house and Sadie took photos of their cool 5-year-old boy shoot baskets in his toy hoop, and we ate Po'boys and cole slaw and tried to comfort the pregnant, hardcore New Orleans fan mom with soothing words and a thimble of wine, I kept feeling like something was terribly wrong. Some lunatic shot 12 people in Arizona and we were watching football. Practically speaking, there was nothing we could be doing from L.A. to help the congresswoman fight for her life. I prayed or sent good energy or whatever version of that I do. We comforted each other at halftime in veiled words so our precocious children wouldn't tune in. But what could we do?

What I struggled with yesterday, and this morning when I lay in bed, my heart pounding, my body aching, and my brain saying - Get out of bed! - to no avail (though obviously it eventually worked - I've made it as far as my living room) is how to do this. How do you watch a football game with friends and laugh at the commercial for an upcoming Owen Wilson movie when a congresswoman is in surgery because she was shot in the head with a semi-automatic weapon? A congresswoman whose nutball teaparty challenger urged supporters to bring M-16s to his campaign rallies and who Sarah Palin depicted with a target over her and encouraged people to "target"? Seriously, that is what s going on. People are being directed to destroy people who don't agree with them. And we're still fighting two wars that no one talks about and people are losing jobs and the ozone layer is disintegrating (is that the right word? Not sure) while congress passes legislation banning science... And now, this blog has officially become Bummer, Dammit.

Okay, enough of that. Here's my point. I can't do the "positivity" thing with blinders on. I will never be one of those women with the creepy frozen smiles insisting that "everything is great, for goodness sakes! Chin up! Turn that frown upside down!" Oh, I'll turn that frown... I will never be one of those parents who watches her daughter fall down and scrape her knee on the playground and tries to plug the crying by saying, "You're okay." I want to turn to those parents and say, "Um, clearly she's not okay, what with the tears and all." I understand the desire to decrease the panic, but come on, people, we can admit that falling down hurts. We can admit that things aren't looking so hot, environmentally speaking, that scientists aren't just being negative nellies when they point out that frogs are showing up all around the world with seriously weird genital structures. We can acknowledge that hermaphrodite frogs aren't a good sign.

The whole point of me writing about positivity is that being positive and enthusiastic and optimistic is not my natural stance. I would even go so far as to say that in this day and age, it's not a natural stance for anyone. It's pretty easy to be pessimistic. One of my favorite cynic friends told me about a study that showed that in a survey of people who identified as optimists and pessimists, the pessimists' world views were actually much more realistic than the optimists'. If you see the world as it actually is right now, it quite naturally leads to pessimism. Ergo...and stick with me on this one...a positive stance becomes a radical choice; a constructive, conscious decision to push against the natural flow, since the only thing I feel clear about is that following that negative flow will drown us. Maybe we are ultimately meant to drown, but I'm not going without a fight.

By making a choice to paddle against the malaise I feel when I ponder the insane consumerism, the de-prioritization of public education, the increasing racism and xenophobia, the industrial military complex...(Oh, I could do this all day), I'm deciding to fight. And the only way I know how to fight at my age, in my life, with my family, is to do small, everyday good things. I'm not going to leave my husband and daughter to go camp outside of the White House, but I can help build a great public school. I'm not going to live in a village in Chiapas and make sure the Mexican army isn't intimidating villagers (like I did in the early 90s), but I can write about what I believe, help build up someone else who's having a crap day, hug my daughter so hard she says, "Mom, please." I can show up for people the best I can. And I can love. Nineteen-year-old me - living with radicals in Nicaragua, marching on Washington against the first Gulf War, wearing a "F#&$^@ The New World Order" bumper sticker on my leather motorcycle jacket - just threw up a little in her mouth. Oh well.

When the next Travis Bickle (Google it, under-40 and over-60 readers) nutball goes out there on a shooting spree, I can't stop him. But I can try to shove as much love and empathy into this world as he shoots hate and destruction. I don't have a semi-automatic love machine (that sounds dirty), but I'll do my best. Positivity Dammit, out.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Still here...

This image has nothing to do with this post, but I just felt a desire to uplaod this adorable picture of two of my oldest dearest friends in front of a Bruce Springsteen photography exhibit in New York. It makes me so happy, I want to share it with the world. Between the Jersey friends and the Jersey icon, it reminds me of why I'm proud to be from Jersey. That's right, I said it. Jersey girl. Proud.

I felt a need to spend ten minutes on this blog to say that I'm still here dammit! And becoming more positive every day. The holidays were wonderful. I literally vacationed from everything (except family and friends). I barely checked my email. I barely received any email. I certainly didn't write, though I read a ton, sat in hottubs, played in snow, slept in, saw friends, drank a little too much, watched movies and a sketch comedy show, took bike rides, hung out at a great new playground near our house (which is so crowded, it's as if an entire neighborhood of toddlers was standing poised and ready, flew through the gate the second it was unlocked).

Now Sadie's back to school and I'm in the weeds. Deadlines, grant applications, school stuff,'s nice to be working. In an hour I head over to Sadie's school to teach the 1st grade "breathing and stretching" class. I think we'll do a story with poses. "A little girl walked through the trees..." (they all jump into tree pose) "and came upon a giant dog" (down dog) "and a beautiful, strong warrior" (warrior 1, 2, 3). You get the gist. They always want to do "machines" too, which is an activity I remember from early acting and movement classes. Everything can be recycled, everything is new to someone.

Friday, December 24, 2010

And here it is:

Ha ha ha. Very funny. Though I tried to ply Sadie with visions of her in the cute red dress with fur that's "just like Santa Claus," she did not bite. Ergo, this is what I have to wear for Christmas Eve and Day, instead of the cute little black dress I just got at a clothes swap that is cutey cutey cutey. Jon says, on the plus side, he's in no danger of anyone else trying to pick me up. I'm all his, that's for sure. I feel like a Mennonite at the Bon-Ton (see earlier entry). A shout out here to my dearest friend, Laurie, who said she'd come over tonight dressed in the cheesiest outfit she can find and dress her baby to match best as she can manage. Ah, girl friends. Gotta love 'em.

I can't resist posting about this, though I know my mom has read at least some of the entries because the other night at dinner she and my dad said, about the fertility/best laid plans entry: "This is the kind of thing you read on the last page of the New York Times Magazine," to which I replied, "That'd be great, if you can just let them know, it'd be much appreciated..." So if you're reading, Mom, I apologize for harping on the outfit, but knowing me and my short skirts, baby doll tees, and skinny jeans (which I can still rock at 39, goddammit, though the other day a third grader at Sadie's school asked, "Ms. Erika, are you wearing red skinny jeans?" "Yes I am, dear. Yes I Am.") can you see how a shapeless floor-length skirt and matching vest is a little bit of a bummer? Especially in L.A., where there's only a few opportunities a year to really sport the fancy dresses and even on holidays, most guests still show up in flip-flops...

Okay, done complaining. This is "Positivity Dammit," not "Bitch About Feeling like your Mom Dressed You On The Cusp of 40, Dammit." I'm making a playlist, wrapping the last of the presents, cleaning a bit, deciding that spotless is overrated, and listening to the Beastie Boys. Recipe for happiness.

Happy Holidays to everyone and their families!!! Enjoy wearing whatever outfit you desire tonight and if you start to feel insecure about how you look, just scroll up, take a glance at me (sung to the ABBA song), and feel a whole lot better about yourself. That, my dear friends and readers, is my Christmas gift to you. L'chaim and love.