Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Sparkly Pink Unicorn by Any Other Name...

On many an occasion have I woken my daughter out of a dead sleep (to go to the bathroom or from a car seat nap) and after doing so she has uttered something quite unforeseen: "I'm afraid of spiders," or "Matisse is my best friend." But last night, I could not have imagined when rousing her from my bed to move her to her own room that I would hear her expound, "Princess Celestia!" Princess Celestia is a sparkling, pink unicorn from the My Little Pony series that Maxwell chose yesterday above all of the other toys at Target to be her present from Uncle Krik.

Truth be told, this is no ordinary unicorn; she is really quite...well...celestial with multicolored ringlets, and wings that light up when you push the cheeky button on her rump. As it turns out, she is also a chatterbox, spouting ear-cringing inanities. Now, I would never expect a toy with the unwieldy moniker Princess Celestia to extol the virtues of world peace or recite Portia's soliloquy or the Pythagorean Theorem, but come on, Hasbo, I about snapped a femur when the first words I heard out of the good princess's speaker box were "My barrettes look so pretty."

I immediately insisted on listening to Celestia's other bon mots and was not amused: Oh, my hair looks beautiful; My wings are so pretty (a bit self absorbed, don't ya think?); Let's fly to the castleSpectacular! Spectacular, indeed. Spectacularly imbecilic.

I thought the dumbing down of little girls was passé. The new wave of American child rearing is supposed to be conscientiously moving away from the girls are beautiful/boys are tough style of parenting that was prevalent, oh, seven or eight decades ago. I get that kids like sparkling toys, I'm not saying Celestia has to resemble a school marm all gray and dour, but I'm pretty sure most parents would welcome this unicorn to have a more worldly view. 

Also, my five year old, like other five year olds, loses shit all the time, especially if it's small. Many a vacuum cleaner has had to be unclogged because of the Barbie pump, or diminutive hairbrush that's jammed into the sucking mechanism. And the thing is, Maxwell isn't really into the accoutrement. They usually end up scattered on the kitchen floor, lying in wait for my vulnerable bare foot. Language more colorful than Princess Celestia's mane has escaped my lips when I've unsuspectingly stepped onto a mini tiara in the middle of the night. I imagine (and I haven't checked) if asked the whereabouts of Princess Celestia's rosette barrettes Maxwell wouldn't have a clue, and what's more, she wouldn't care. 

Perhaps this speaks to my character, but I find it excruciating to listen to Her Highness proclaim over and over, "My barrettes look so pretty" when, in fact, she isn't wearing a single barrette! It's practically surrealism. Speaking of which, I imagine Rene Magritte would appreciate the mind bending conundrum that is the barretteless pony. It reminds me of his pipe, that he says is not a pipe, but goddamnit, it sure as shooting' looks like a pipe to me. 

Come to think, if Celestia were marketed as "a surrealist unicorn" I would have more respect for the product. I could imagine her also waxing curious witticisms like, Your third nose is beautiful, or The melting pocket watches are an unconscious symbol of the relativity of space and time, or The minotaur took my fiddle! But clearly, surrealism was not intended, so to my mind the toy is a total and abject failure.

Not to mention, I've had this bizarre image niggling at the back of my mind. I can't help but compare the fancy Princess Celestia with another flashy demoiselle with feathers...a showgirl named Lola...

Still in the dress she used to wear, faded feathers in her hair
She sits there so refined, and drinks herself half-blind
She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
Now she's lost her mind!

(You may perceive my jump from Magritte to Manilow as de trop but I'm told I need to appeal to a larger audience.)

Lola may have merengued and cha-chaed, while Celsetia flew to her magic palace, but both females are full of themselves to an almost obsessive degree. Here's the bottom line, little girls are pretty. And they don't need Hasbro or any other toy company validating girl-power prettiness over more desirable qualities: honesty, integrity, intelligence, and good grooming. If from time to time my daughter's topic of conversation lists towards the inane so be it, but there must be a balance. Otherwise, if she is modeled only platitudes of beautiful hair, pretty barrettes, and "a dress cut down to there" of the me, me, me variety, she very well may end up at her own private Copacabana, pining for times gone by, and a hot, dead bartender named Tony.

As I'm cobbling together an end for this piece, my children, I kid you not, are in the other room asking Celestia, "What is two plus ten?" To which the equine responds, Flying is so much fun. Then the kids break out in fits of giggles, as if even they are aware of the foolishness that is Princess Celestia, but damn does she have good hair.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dismembering Santa

It's important to note that the following article was first published in G Man Magazine, a deliciously wonderful online publication that you all must check out. (I'm on page 36.) Just click on the Happy Holidays button. Happy Holidays!

Michael  and I are scathingly honest with our kids. Well...maybe not Aunt-Bessie-got-shitfaced-and-fell-into-the-holiday-punchbowl honest, but honest in that age appropriate sort of way. For instance, Sebastian and Maxwell both know they are adopted, they also know we are a multiracial family and some of what that implies, my son understands he has learning disabilities, and my daughter is keenly aware that her black, kinky hair is a bitch for a white man with stumpy fingers to care for. 

Now, I've not chosen to be honest for some principled reason. I simply find it's directness an easier way to motor through life. To tell a lie or be decidedly vague to my kids and then have to remember and support that lie every time a certain potentially loaded topic is raised requires more mental gymnastics than a virtual Mary Lou Retton is capable. To my mind, straightforwardness, in a sparkly, gay way, no matter how touchy the subject matter, is far more streamlined and a helluva lot easier.

My honest way of life does not always jibe with my husband who likes to...shall I say...embellish. Not with the kids, but when let loose at a party with a chilled cocktail in his hot, oversized mitts I have heard Michael regale to a rapt audience about some event, of which I was apart, and oftentimes his retelling is unrecognizable because it not only borders on, but traverses boldly into utter fantasy. If you find yourself the recipient of his highly entertaining yet inaccurate anecdotes I have developed a formula to divine simple truth; whenever he includes an unwieldy number or amount, simply divide that amount by two thirds. If he were to expound “I went to six callbacks for that role in The Green Mile” do a quick calculation and realize in the world in which we live he went to roughly four callbacks.

I have learned, however, to accept Michael's misrepresentations, which he only lets slip from his lips in arenas where conviviality, free-flowing libation and bubbly banter joyfully collide. Truth be told, he greatly excels in the art of storytelling. And although I initially stepped in like a perturbed hausfrau and tried to amend his gross exaggerations (sometimes with dire results), I have since learned to fade back and enjoy the show, allowing Michael free rein.

What I cannot tolerate is lying to kids, especially when the lie seems unwarranted. Some parents have the misconception that children cannot handle brutal truth. I'll let you in on a secret: children face up to life's potholes much better than adults. Sure, we don't want to see disappointment or alarm spread across their little faces, but to envelop them in bubble wrap, giving them no tools to deal with life's disappointments is a tremendous disservice. Besides little'uns don't lug around emotional baggage like big'uns do. I would imagine the emotional baggage of a child fits into a space about the size of a Hello Kitty lunchbox, while ours barely squeezes into the cargo hold of Air Force One. Thus, when a life changing event occurs, like a death in the family or the season finale of Lost, children accept the news with a simplicity and equanimity that is really quite breathtaking, while, at least in Michael's family, I have witnessed antics at funerals that have been downright Tyler Perryesque: cursing in church, fainting in the aisle, bodies flinging themselves on the coffin. These were not children acting out, these were grown folks, y'all.

This brings me to a pet peeve... Michael and I were attracted to open adoption because we thought it healthier for our children to have personal ties to their biological families. This has paid off. Sebastian has forged wonderful relationships with his five half siblings and Maxwell's birth mom and two half sisters recently came to rejoice at her baptism. Neither child has expressed resentment that they are not living with those of the same genetic makeup. On the contrary, they are more grounded because of these connections. Now, I understand why some adoptive parents prefer to slam shut and bolt the birth family door; it's scary to face the unknown. However, I am intolerant of, and they seem to be out there, male gay couples who've adopted and have flat out lied to their child that they were ever born heaven forfend from the uterus of a woman. (These are the queens who get dramatically pissy and start slanderous email campaigns if their child's school enrollment forms still have the fields mother's name and father's name.) They are so focused on making the child's world all about Daddy and Papa, and only Daddy and Papa, that they are eclipsing a whole swath of reality that will surely backfire when the kid is taking Sex Ed in junior high.

Daddy, Papa, which one of you has the vagina?”

Wake up parents. You are not doing them any favors by cock blocking the truth.

So there's my spiel: honesty, honesty, honesty.


Last week, my five year old daughter, Maxwell, asked me, “Is Santa Claus real?”


Even my nine year old son hasn't cornered me with that one. But my Mensa-bound five year old looked at me with those purposeful, inquisitive eyes, knowing that out of everyone in her life I wouldn't result to bullshit.

Honesty, honesty, honesty...

Why couldn't she have asked about penises or vaginas? Or about boys who wear pinafores or girls who like U-Hauls? Or any social taboo really: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our country's socio-economic problems, immigration, abortion, inbreeding, Herman Cain, anything? But to debunk Santa Claus?

In the flicker of a hummingbird's wing I weighed my options.


My thoughts quickly went to this Christmas... Michael is on tour with Cathy Rigby doing Peter Pan. (I know it sounds like a punchline, but if it comes to a theater near you be sure to catch it. You will be charmed.) And this leg of the tour ends in New York City (Madison Square Garden, thank you very much) just in time for the holidays. As soon as the winter break begins I'm packing up the kids to join Michael for a ten day stretch in the Big Apple.

We'll be staying in Manhattan most of the time. But for Michael's days off (Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the 26th) we'll be in New Jersey with our friend Erica, her wife and new baby son.

It doesn't matter where in the world I've christmased, the Foster Family traditions have always come with me: Paris; Vienna; Zurich; and now North Plainfield, New Jersey. Michael has embraced and even incorporated these traditions when we go to his hometown of Alton, Illinois; and now my diabolical plot includes indoctrinating the Hayes-Bradshaw Family as well.

The compendium is as follows: on Christmas Eve the Christmas Fairy leaves a present on the the children's pillows, matching pajamas; of course, Santa will have visited during the night, having taken a bite of a cookie, a reindeer having nibbled on a juicy carrot; presents, presents, presents all morning long; followed by the Foster Family Christmas breakfast, Eggs a la Goldenrod (a fancy Egg McMuffinish extravaganza using English muffins and Canadian bacon), pancakes, sausage links, and for the adults, homemade eggnog spiked with rum and bourbon. It's highly caloric and a nap following is recommended.

It promises to be a wonderful trip. Michael gets another Broadway credit, I get to see old friends and revisit familiar haunts, and probably most exciting, the kids get to experience an honest to goodness white Christmas in New York City: ice skating at Rockefeller Center, buggy ride in Central Park, strolling the Great White Way, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, MOMA, FAO, BMT...all lit up, smelling like roasted chestnuts and cloaked in a thin layer of snow. I'm getting really excited...

...and at the same time, incredibly trepidatious. Sure, it sounds idyllic, but at any moment it feels like things could go terribly awry. To start with, I'm going to be solo-parenting on the flight from California to New York, always dicey. Then, Michael's two-show a day schedule is so demanding, he will be unavailable from lunchtime on. And most daunting for me, it's two children and TEN FULL DAYS. Ten days of I don't wanna and he started it. Ten days of living out of a suitcase, wearing that dirty t-shirt just one more time. Ten days of possibly cold, wet, bored and cranky children. Not another museum, Papa! All I need is an ice storm that keeps us hotel bound and I'm positive security will find a couple extra cadavers this holiday season.

Christmas used to be so much easier. I remember buying the kids' stocking stuffers while they were right there with me, chilling out in their strollers. And there was never any need to hide the presents, they just had to be kept above eye level. Even navigating Santa seemed effortless. Last year, Michael was asked by Maxwell's preschool to be Saint Nick for the Winter Solstice Carnival, which makes sense; no one resonates ho, ho, ho more than my husband. I had an initial moment of panic wondering how the kids would interpret Daddy donning such gay apparel. As it turned out, there was no need to worry. Sebastian just thought Daddy was doing drag...yet again, while Maxwell, as she tells it, knew it was Daddy but also thought he might be the real Santa at the same time (sort of like Vincent Price and the fly morphing into one). Basically, it freaked her the fuck out and she stayed far, far away.

And it was much less exhausting to appease the kids' Santa related questions back then. A vague, not well thought out answer would satisfy them and they'd go on their merry way. But last month, before Maxwell sucker punched me with Is Santa Claus real?, my stock, evasive strategies proved not to be enough. She kept pestering me with an intense barrage:

"How will Santa know where we are?"
Santa just knows those things, honey.

"Do they have a chimneys in New Jersey?"
I imagine they do. I've not really taken a census.

"But how will Santa get into a house if there is no chimney?"
Don't worry about it. That's all part of his magic.

"If Santa has magic, why did he bring me a talking kitty last year when I asked for a talking doggie?"
Maybe Santa wanted you to have a talking kitty.

"But why did talking kitty say Made in China instead of Made in the North Pole?"
Perhaps Santa outsourced and enlisted help from Chinese elves.

"But if Christmas is supposed to be about Baby Jesus, why does Santa..."
I don't have time for this, Maxwell. I really don't.

Do you see the problem here? Lies built upon fibs supported by fallacy. It's a leaning tower of fabrication teetering on a foundation of sand and grit, and the whole thing is threatening to topple, making my nerves fray and my hemorrhoids itch.

Honesty, honesty, honesty...

It strikes me that part of my Christmas angst could be alleviated if I just tell her the truth, tell both my kids the delicious, apple crunching truth. This could be the opportunity I've been looking for.

All it takes is the first word...


Is Santa Claus real? Well, Maxie dearest, let's break it down. What do we know about him? He's a man of significant girth who may or may not smoke a bit too much, and he makes a living, if you can call it that, squeezing his bulk into strangers' chimneys in order to give toys to all the children of the world. Inexplicably, the mode of transportation he prefers is a sleigh of flying reindeer, one of which has a shiny proboscis that glows crimson at will. And we're told this jolly old elf makes his own toys in his own private toy factory somewhere in the North Pole, overseen by men of diminutive stature wearing pointy hats.

Are you honestly telling me you don't find that just a bit burdensome to swallow?

The truth of the matter is if you were to take a chainsaw, let's say, and slice off Santa's arms he will not bleed. No, it's not a Christmas miracle; he won't bleed because he's made of paper and ink, and of cardboard, and a dash of sawdust and reels and reels of celluloid. So by all means, slice off his arms, sever his legs, pummel that fucking droll little mouth drawn up like a bow to a pulp, he won't feel a thing. And once you rip off his beard, take the sofa cushions from his belly, and burn that horrendous, cherry-red, velour track suit trimmed in white fur (which was never in style, not even in the eighties) all you have left are deceitful parents and one enormous communal lie.

I'm not sure why we do it. Perhaps we don't want you to grow up so fast, or maybe we have a perverse need to keep you mentally dependent on us. Whatever the reason, it now seems cruel, in hindsight. Let me bottom line it for you...

Maxwell, there is no Santa Claus!

While I'm at it, there is no Christmas Fairy, either. Also, the Easter Bunny, a fake; the Tooth Fairy, a fraud; Kim Kardashian's marriage, a sham. And as you get older you will find out other things are make believe as well, like a practical application for algebra or trickle down economics.

Aren't you finding this liberating? You are undeniably on your path to understanding the true meaning of Christmas. Now, it will become clear to you that A Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, Rudolph, Tiny Tim, the Grinch, Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, and all those other cozy, iconic Christmas images that we embrace this time of year are not mere entertainment. No, they are marketing tools designed to mesmerize the masses, making us the best doggone card-carrying Capitalists on the planet. At a time when we should be storing our acorns and not emptying the larder, we allow ourselves to be programmed to march in droves to Macy's and Toys R Us and buy you, my darling daughter, merch you may covet but don't really need.

Take a look outside. The wintery sky is the color of a dead moth, the ground as hard as obsidian. It's a dark, cold, and scary time of year, and we as parents try oh so hard to protect you from the Arctic winds that rage and the downtrodden warming themselves over sidewalk grates by distracting you with visions of sugarplum fairies and sought after figgy puddings. But no more, Maxwell. You're a smart girl who saw through the artifice. Brava!

I hope our little talk wasn't too blunt, but it was honest. And you know, above all, I cherish honesty.


All this in an instant, the flicker of a hummingbird's wing.

Then back to my daughter's chocolatey, vulnerable eyes; eyes desiring magic; eyes so wanting to believe. How could I not?

Yes, honey. Santa is absolutely real.”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Simply Mari

So many partially written blog entries...numerous, unformulated, yet juicy ideas bouncing around my over-crowded noggin...while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads...just waiting for me to jot them down, and still I haven't been able to write. I'll admit it, I've been a truck in the muck...mired in apathy, self-involvement and evidently, too much children's literature...that Sam-I-Am, that Sam-I-Am, I do not like that Sam-I-Am. And then, to make matters worse, I made a sweeping, grandiose statement in my last blog entry (which was in July...yikes) that I am going to write a book. A BOOK for Seuss sake! What the fuck was I thinking?

Just as I'd make headway with a possible chapter, the kids would start reenacting an episode of Phineas and Ferb, or my ancient fourteen-and-a-half year old husky would have a seizure on the kitchen floor making me wonder whether it was time to call the kindly man with a lethal injection, or I'd have to attend a mandatory meeting at Sebastian's school because he proclaimed, "Vagina, vagina, vagina," at top volume on the school playground, possibly upsetting the tender ears of those both with and without vaginas, or one of the seven hundred thousand other unplanned things that flat out distract me from doing anything besides planning the next meal and keeping my head above water.

You see, I'm single parenting as of late. No, I'm not headed towards divorce. Michael is on tour with Cathy Rigby doing Peter Pan. (And before you ask, no, he's NOT playing a fairy: he's one of the pirates.) So to lean on someone else to cook a meal, do homework or possibly condition and comb out my daughter's head of nappy hair is simply not available. Add to that...and perhaps this is not pertinent...but I can't stop thinking about food. I am presently enduring the dreaded five hundred calorie-a-day HCG diet which makes me loopy, yearning for Cuban rice and nauseous all at the same time. So, if I come off snippy, discombobulated, or downright morose, know that there are many balls in the air, and with my husband out of town none of them are mine. (TMI, I know.)

So, I hate to say...embarrassed actually...that I'm shelving the book idea...for now.

Where does that leave me? I'm at that re-start up phase with my writing, sort of like beginning at the gym...again...after a prolonged hiatus. It's a fucking chore. Trust me, it's more than crossed my mind to chuck this writing thing all together. I seriously was about to throw out my quill...

But I made a promise...


When six weeks ago I heard the phrase "hospice care" I was pretty sure what was going to happen. When a hospital bed was moved into her bedroom, it seemed even more apparent that the end was near. And when I was told that she was being given morphine on a regular basis I knew the inevitable was days away. But when Michael touched me on my arm as I was cooking the kid's breakfast, just touched me and almost inaudibly said, "She's gone," I gasped at the finality of it all.

My very dear friend Maricela Ochoa-Henderson passed away on October 10th from stage four breast cancer. She was 48.

Never have I hated writing declarative sentences more.


Michael and I moved to our Los Angeles home on his birthday, at the end of November in 1999. Two weeks later, we went to Maricela's house, someone I had never met but Michael had known for years through the Chicago theater scene. "Call me Mari," she insisted, her 'r' sounding like a 'd', while ushering us to her kitchen, which was full of wonderful home-cooked smells and abuzz with activity. A bevy of folks were crowded around a small table spreading masa into dampened corn husks. Mari was making her family's tamales for the next night's Tamale Party.

I was to learn that The Tamale Party, which was always the first Saturday in December, was legendary. Actually, calling it party doesn't do it justice. It was an event. People cleared their calendars months in advance and selected well thought out wardrobes. Hundreds of tamales were prepared: meat, vegetarian and dessert varieties. The party was so fly, folks would fly in from other parts of the country to eat Mari's food and enjoy her hospitality. Friendships were born, relationships went to the next level and kisses between total strangers were stolen in the night. The booze flowed freely, the salsa syncopated loudly, and the tamales...well, the tamales were so amazing folks would plot how to best pilfer a dozen or two without anyone noticing.

And then, the next day, when your average host would have the common sense to hang up her apron and nurse her hangover, Mari would be busy preparing the post-Tamale Party brunch for a select few of us. The brunch was a blast because not only would we enjoy a second round of delicious food, but we also would rehash the previous night's exploits and basically...I'll say Who made out behind the house? Who started the screaming match in the street? What time did the cops arrive? Who set the fire to the bathroom?

The laughter, the conviviality, the community...and at the center of it all was Maricela Ochoa.

And the Tamale Party is indicative to how Mari lived her life...with flair, individuality, to its fullest and with gusto. Whether belting out kd lang's Constant Craving in karaoke roulette or providing a lap dancing stripper for the Sensuality Shower she hosted for Michael and me, Mari went all out. But to my mind, what exemplifies her individuality, her attention to detail and flair, is when she spent months before her own wedding scouring antique shops, second hand stores and eBay collecting vintage cup-and-saucer sets. At a time when most future brides, myself included, obsess about themselves, Mari was more concerned that each of her one-hundred-fifty-some-odd wedding guests went home with a lovely memento. I never heard of anyone doing anything remotely like that. (I love mine and use it daily!)

At her core Mari was an artist. Her presence as an actress on both stage and screen was dynamic. For years I enjoyed her multi-layered performances as the highly stylized, comedia maid in La Jolla Playhouse's Blood Wedding; America Ferrera's domineering mother in Migdalia Cruz's The Have Little; the smart-talking maid in Lisa Loomer's Living Out at the Taper; and if you can believe it as God in an episode of Joan of Arcadia. Her characters were fiery, in your face and highly memorable.

I chuckle at how many times she played a domestic. Even on Joan of Arcadia, God appears to Joan as a uniform-wearing maid boarding a city bus to get to her drudgery day job. For someone as socially minded as Mari, as out spoken, politically on point and determined to change preconceived perceptions of Latina Americans, the business of show kept knocking on her door to play yet another toiling servant. But no matter her personal beliefs, she imbued these characters with dignity and an intensity I shall never forget.

Her artistry, however, didn't stop with acting. She cooked with ancestral fervor, worked yarn like a zen master (you should see the beautiful baby blankets she crocheted for the kids), and wrote with a poetry and ease I so admire.

Our love of writing is what brought us even closer together. In the years before she moved back to Texas for treatment, I spent time with Mari writing on a weekly basis. We'd randomly choose a prompt the week before, a title or passage from a book of Pablo Neruda poetry, say, or a juicy article from Vanity Fair; all it took was an unwieldy phrase like all bright and glittering in the smokeless air, or one nub of growth nudges the sand-crumb loose, and we were off. Pages would pour out of of us: scenes from plays, personal essays, short stories, blog entries, poems--oh, how I loved her poetry--and over time we had both collected nice bodies of work. Mari's writing was inspirational, her insights invaluable.

That was her gift to me...the freedom and support to express myself, to call myself writer.


To give you an idea how much this woman was loved, there were three services held in her honor. One with her family in Texas, one in LA and yet another in Chicago. Mari's deathbed wish was for Chief Norman, the person she entrusted with her spiritual life, to officiate. Chief Norman, who was described to me as a Native American pope, remarked at the memorial service, "I never thought I'd be doing this in a church." Only for Mari.

Something happened to me while Chief Norman was performing his duties. I'm not sure if it was when he was chanting and drumming, or smudging the church, or speaking his personal truth about Mari, but I felt something, sort of an emotional kick, swift and without warning square in the gut. Get off your mutherfucking ass and start writing again!

Whether I was hallucinating from the fumes of the smudge stick or Mari was really reaching out and giving me a good what for I couldn't tell you, but under my breath I said, "Yes, Mari. I promise."

And so here I stumble, my first steps in many months, remembering an amazing woman.


My lovely Mari,

I know it was your time. I know you were in pain. But here's the thing, your energy, your electricity, your fire was intoxicating. It was impassioned. It was foundation. It was life force. And it's hard, oh so hard, to imagine an existence without that force, without you.

I will remember your amazing generosity, your incredible talent, your infectious laugh and I will remember your prolonged hugs that I mistakenly thought would never ever end.


                                                             The Path

                              Neither family nor friend may walk with me
                              My footsteps tread alone
                                 my breath runs colder
                                 my heart beats slower
                              At each step I am aware
                                 of every ounce of blood in my veins
                                 every pore on my skin
                                 every nerve endings' pulse
                              Until, at last, I recognize this place
                              I have been here before
                              Long before my adult misgivings
                                 before my mischievous childhood
                                 before my wide awake infancy 
                              I've known this terror, confusion, and solitude
                              The immense beyond, before, and present
                              Time, sound and space are one
                              For then, like now, I was being born.

                                                               -Maricela Ochoa-Henderson
                                                                September 1997

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Big News

I was out with Michael and the kids at a child's birthday party when I bumped into my friend, Quinn Cummings. (Klunk. That sounded like name dropping, didn't it? I honestly didn't mean for it to, but there's just no way to nonchalantly mention Academy Award nominated actress and now humorist author Quinn Cummings without sounding like some...forgive fucker.) I always love my encounters with Quinn, she's intelligent, unpredictable and very funny. She was one of the folks who encouraged me to blog in the first place. Hers is a wonderful blog called the The QC Report. (I'm not sure if like in Stephen Colbert's show the "t" in Report is silent or not.) Be sure to take a moment and check it out.

Well, Quinn noticed I had not been posting as often as I used to, which is true, and I remarked I'd been busy with my shows, however I just happened to write a post-Independence Day piece about people against New York's passing gay marriage and those who write letters to USA Today called Mommy Has Got to Speak! And in the retelling of this post I must have been very animated, because Quinn got that look a woman gets when she believes she is in possession of a simply marvelous notion, a pearl so evident, so shiny, and yet, she imagines, so completely oblivious to the man she is talking to; an absolute truth of sorts she will later define for herself as intuition.

(By the way, Quinn, I've seen the same look on Cartoon Daphne just before she leads Scooby-Doo and the gang into the henchman's trap. "I think we should go this way.")

And with the forced calm one uses on a dim child, or I imagine Charlie Sheen, she said, "I think you've graduated from blog writing. It's time for you to write a book."

This is not the first time I've been the recipient of that sentence. And in fact, if I push the demons out of the way and allow myself a peek, writing a book is absolutely in my wheelhouse and should be the next logical step. I've just never been able to pinpoint what I should write about. Everything from a gay daddy/mommy memoir, to a noir like mystery, to a combination of the two has been a possibility.

"And I think I know the subject matter," Quinn teased as she ate raspberries from the buffet table, somehow evocative of Eve and the apple. She went on to explain that every writer should write what turns him or her on, and what turns me on...the proof being that I used the word "fascinating" about twenty-three the various viewpoints people have about gay marriage in this country. Then she stood back and watched as my wheels started to turn, waiting for me to concur with the suggestion she so clearly thought was a grand slam.

"Quinn, you have got to stop looking at me like Snoopy when he pretends to be a vulture." She grabbed a few more raspberries and swept out of the room.

But whether Daphne or Vulture Scooby, Quinn had every right to gloat, because the subject is a damn good fit for me. Truth be told, I'm probably more interested in the beliefs of those who voted yes for Proposition 8 (the anti gay stance), then those who like me got married and are raising a family. I ate a raspberry. Yep, I was hooked.

The fact of the matter is I am going to write a book!...well, the treatment for a book. (Quinn likes the title To Have and To Hold...I'm not sold. With the future of gay marriage being so tenuous it might need a question mark...To Have and To Hold?) And I'm reaching out to the blogosphere for help. I'm looking for people who are willing to be interviewed. Please get back to me if either you or someone you know has a unique or impassioned take on gay marriage.

I certainly have my beliefs on this issue. Being married with two children, I'm sure my stance is evident. However, this will not be a preaching to the choir book. This is a complex, national issue and I want to illuminate its many layers. Thus, I need to talk to those who carry "God hates fags" signs as well as militant gay rights activists, and everyone in between.

At present I see the book as chapters of essays; interviews inter-spliced with personal narratives, like why haven't I asked my cousin why he voted yes on Prop 8? What am I so afraid of? (This might even open up that door of opportunity.)

The interviews will be done with respect. I do not have a gay agenda, whatever that is. (But if anyone knows the person who came up with the phrase gay agenda, I'd totally want to interview him.) I will be recording interviews in person or over the phone. Those interviewed may choose to remain anonymous, and refuse to answer any questions they feel too personal. But, as you can imagine, the more candid the interviewee, the more sumptuous the material.

Here's my wish list:

-Religious leaders (Scientologists included)
-Those with and without strong religious beliefs
-Those kicked out of a church or synagogue because of his or her homosexuality
-Political leaders (especially those whose public stance is different from their private one)
-Community activists
-Chaz Bono (he's just so popular right now)
-Gay people in the military
-Gay people against gay marriage
-Proud parents of gay children
-Parents who have disowned their children for being homosexual
-Business people who would benefit from gay marriage, i.e. photographers, caterers, ice sculptors, etc...
-Anyone else with a quirky perspective

Who wants to be heard?

Contact me. I created a new email for this very project,

So there, Quinn Cummings! I just hope the henchman's trap isn't around the corner.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lost and Found

There is probably little more excruciating for a parent than putting the safety of your child into the hands of a total stranger only to have them not show up at the appointed time.

Bash is doing summer school this year and for the first time he gets to ride the bus to and from school. He's so thrilled at the prospect of ditching his booster seat he's pretty much forgiven us the fact he has to do summer school.

The bus takes him from our home school, which is four blocks from our house, to the summer school, and then in the afternoon brings him back to our home school. Wednesday was the first day and Michael and I met the bus driver, Grove (no, I don't know how he got his name...Grover? Mangrove?), who seemed perfectly trustworthy and told us to be waiting in front of our home school no later than 1:30, although he may be as late as 2:00 due to the fact that first days are often a cauldron of chaos and confusion.

Michael and I were a bit early for pick-up which turned out to be unnecessary. We waited...and waited...and waited. Finally, at 2:20, I could see my husband was beginning to split at the seams. Now, there is nothing subtle about Michael in a state of duress. When he's worried the entire world damn well knows it. The poor guy can't help but gnaw on every possible horrible scenario, and I see it as my job not to get sucked into his vortex of doom.

There's nothing I can do in moments like these. If I babble on and on, trying to distract him, he gets POed. If I remain silent, letting him sort out his own shit, he resents that as well. The only saving grace, and I realize how selfish this will sound, is that I deliberately focused my attentions on Michael and his irrationalities, thus was spared any pangs of distress I may have had for our son, who was over an hour late.

Finally, while maintaining a modulated calm any television therapist would envy, I offered to go back home, find the number for the bus company, call them up and see what the fuck's going on. Michael agreed that would be best.

Once home, it didn't take me long to find the Notification of Student Transportation Schedule Summer 2011. Immediately, I called the bus company and after following the prompts if this is an emergency, press one now I was unceremoniously put on hold. And anyone whose called any hot line in any American city knows the word emergency is a hoax. It felt as if I was on hold longer than it's taken Congress to figure out what to do with our debt ceiling. I waited...and waited...and waited. It was a horrible sense of deja vu, only this time indoors and with Muzak.

Michael texted me, then he called me, then he called the school and found out why Bash's bus left late, then he called me back to tell me the reason which turned out to be a missing kid (that certainly doesn't instill confidence in LAUSD), all the while I remained in that purgatory called on hold. At this point it was 2:55 and I had been holding for twenty-six minutes. After a couple more calls back and forth Michael demanded, "Go to the school, now!" Which was then followed by, "Hold on, I think I see him." Click.

About a minute after Michael hung all must see where this is going...a male human from the bus service finally got on the line. And even though I knew Michael was collecting Sebastian as I spoke, I felt I had every right to say my piece and scatter a little buckshot, if for no other reason, for having to endure mind numbing Muzak for thirty-three minutes. But as I was explaining the situation, I heard the key turn in the lock and any fire and brimstone I may have had had diminished to a smouldering ash. The resounding shame on you! I had planned to say turned into a feeble never mind, thank you.

Sebastian was beaming. The bus riding experience surpassed all his expectations. Turns out the missing boy was in the bus the entire time. For whatever reason, he decided not to answer to his name when roll was taken. (I hope the kid was subjected to hours of Sarah Palin's speaking voice.)

It finally made sense why kids today have cell phones. Bash could have called us quashing any Sturm und Drang we were manifesting. Then it hit me. "What am I thinking? Sebastian couldn't have called us. He doesn't even know our phone numbers or our address."

I'm ashamed to admit, I haven't sat down with my eight year old to teach him the basic information I knew when I was five because of his learning disability.

I interrupted his chronicling of the day's events, forget about your first day of summer school, buddy. I'm going to teach you something really cool, my phone number. It's much easier than our home phone, my cell has repeated numbers and it's an easy shape to memorize on the phone's keypad. Well, guess what, learning disability be damned, that little bugger learned my number in a snap...and he hasn't stopped calling me since. My slight irritation of the constant ring tone (Janelle Monae's Tightrope) is quelled by the fact that the more he calls, the more certain I am he'll remember the number.

This proves to me that I am guilty of dumbing down my son over the years, giving in to but I can't do it, letting him basically get away with murder. So, tomorrow I'm going to teach him something else. Maybe his social.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mommy Has Got to Speak!

At the W Hotel in San Francisco the reading material is thin. There's USA Today and, oh yes, USA Today. And in thumbing through last Thursday's paper, which took me all of thirteen point six five minutes, what most grabbed my attention were the letters commenting on New York passing gay marriage.

There were four letters total, two pro New York's decision, and two anti. (Interesting to note, the dissenting voices were given double the space.) One of the naysayers was from Texas and the other Ontario.

What's wrong, Ontario, did folks stop listening to your vitriol in your neck of the woods, where gay marriage is legal? Did you so want to be heard that your only recourse was to reach across the border, finding voice in the Letters section of USA Today?

To support their same sex marriage argument, the two anti letter writers cited the Constitution, the Bible, our Founding Fathers, American values, scientific data or lack thereof, and Merriam-Webster; an auspicious grouping to say the least.

On this week celebrating our Independence, it is my intention and indeed civic duty to speak out against these recycled arguments. Mommy has sat back too long and no USA Today sound-offs are going to get the better of me.

Texas cited the following Merriam-Webster definition of marriage, "the state of of being united to a person of the opposite sex...", which firstly, made me question the decade his dictionary was printed. Then, it struck me, if the Bible and other holy books are not to hold sway in the high courts of our land when making laws that effect the human rights issue of our time, then I'm pretty certain a 1964 copy of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is about as impactful a mosquito bite to a rhino.

Texas continues: If other states follow [in legalizing gay marriage], our history books and our dictionaries will need to be rewritten.

I decided to do a little legwork and went to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary and what did I find? The exact definition Texas cited, with one glaring omission: a second definition, the state of being united to a person of the same sex...

Shame on you, Texas, for cherry picking definitions. It seems our dictionaries have already been rewritten. And you might want to brace yourself, Texas. In regards to rewriting history books, it's my understanding your state is in the process of doing just that.

Then Texas goes on to wring his hands, if this trend continues, America will cease to be America. Can you hear the opening strains of the Star Spangled Banner playing in the background? Can you see the fields of wheat blowing in the wind, superimposed over a waving flag? Because Texas is gearing up for his final volley, it's time to stand up for America, and the values it was founded upon - God, country and family. There it is, the tear-streaked Native American's face, the freshly baked apple pie cooling on the windowsill, the worn quill in Thomas Jefferson's calloused writing hand. Texas threw down a trump card, invoking the sage wisdom of our Founding Fathers. That must be our cue not to look too deeply. We should all just bow our heads in aquiescing silence. Right?


Is anyone else tired of those who hold up "American values" as a pinnacle of cultural excellence, unattainable to others? I'm sure the French, or the Japanese or the Namibian would have something to say about that. I personally cringe when either the left or right spout such platitudes. America is not a sports team that we root for with foam fingers and then once the game is over go our merry way. To quote Dorothy, "This is a real, truly live place. And I remember that some of it wasn't very nice. But most of it was beautiful." America's positive is very much tethered to its negative. Now, I love this country and I appreciate the benefits we are afforded, but to revere anything without looking at its whole is extremely short sighted.

And while on the subject of American values, Texas glaringly omitted a biggie...freedom. Freedom to live. Freedom to pray. Freedom to bare arms. Freedom to love. Freedom to marry. Freedom to raise children. Freedom to wear white after Labor Day. Freedom to let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas. I'm as American as the next flag waving dweeb and my sexual orientation should never discount my freedoms.

Along the same lines, Ontario claims same sex marriage is unconstitutional. Have you noticed that unconstitutional is the politically incorrect of the day? With disquieting regularity, our political contenders bandy about that word without really knowing what exactly is in our fair Constitution. For clarity... What does The Constitution say about homosexuality? NOTHING. What does it say about marriage? NOTHING. (Ontario might have been confused with the time when George DubYa Bush tried to add the Federal Marriage Amendment to The Constitution, which would have legally defined marriage as a union between a man and woman, without Merriam-Webster's second definition. Had it succeeded, it would be the only amendment denying human rights. Talk about unconstitutional.)

Ontario then says, The Bible clearly and unequivocally condemns homosexual acts. Let me point out right off that I'm not a Biblical scholar of any sort. Also, I don't want to hold up the "separation of church and state" banner like Wonder Woman's deflecting bracelets without articulating any position on religion whatsoever.

Interpreting anything from the Bible and applying absolute truth to today's modern sensibilities is a tricky task. Take the following passage: If a slave owner hits the eye of the slave or handmaid and ruins it, the slave owner must let the slave go free. There's a whole bunch of wrong with that biblical wisdom, the least of which being no mention of restraining orders or health insurance premiums. Our world was so incredibly different back then. For instance, you could blithely say "slave owner" without feeling seven shades of mortification.

There are those who point to Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of how "God hates fags." They tell us He showered fire and brimstone upon the twin cities to rid them of dykes on bikes and fancy nancy boys. If this is your belief, I invite you to reread those passages. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were filled with greed, avarice and nasty people who were just plain mean. There is no mention of Lot and his wife living over the Pleasure Chest.

There are those who say certain biblical passages bespeak of intolerance towards homosexual behavior. After all, in Leviticus it does say, You shall not lie with a male as those who lie with a female; it is an abomination. However, if you read just a teensy bit further, you find out it's also an abomination to eat shellfish, wear garments made from two types of material, trim your beard and sport tattoos. But there doesn't seem to be a plethora of sign carriers and vitriolic Ontarians condemning shrimp eaters or those who wear mixed blends.

I don't find it hard to imagine there were those in Jesus's time that frowned upon same sex couplings, nor that these beliefs ended up in the Bible. But the Bible and other holy tomes are merely blueprints, and our interpretation of these blueprints must adapt to suit our ever-growing, ever-changing society. We no longer keep slaves. Women can be our spiritual leaders. We wouldn't think twice of denying a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose entrance to a church. It's time for our views on homosexuality to shift as well.

I'd like to ask two simple questions. What did Jesus say about homosexuality? NOTHING. And by insisting on a gay life style am I breaking one of the ten Commandments? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Then, without missing a beat, Ontario glissades from religion to science, which makes me snort iced latte through my nose...just a little.

I'm not saying religion and science cannot live side by side, but some Bible quoters wear their Creationist beliefs with pride, and I am amazed how they can disregard irrefutable scientific data when it suits them, and yet shout from the tallest tower when Science supports their argument.

Ontario claims scientists cannot with one hundred percent certainty point to a gay gene. Here's the thing, Ontario. Gay marriage shouldn't have to hinge on whether scientists finds homo DNA. Sure, there is a continuum of gayness. There are some, like my husband who's had that special tingle towards men since he was three. Trust me, if a gay gene exists, Michael has it in spades (no racial slur intended.) But we have to accept that there are those who might not have been "born this way," no offense to Gaga. And like my brother who became Catholic when he married my sister-in-law, I know those who have embraced a homosexual life because they chose to follow their hearts.

In a recent interview for a hoity toity elementary school, my son announced with prescient clarity, "Daddy is a drag queen and Papa is a half queen." I think what he would have then said had we not shhhed him with our eyes would have been, "And it's all okay."

People are gay, Ontario. And not finding the gay gene does not disprove that fabulous and undeniable fact.

And then, in my opinion without thinking, Ontario barrels right into the marriage is for procreation assertion. You don't need me to poke holes into that chestnut. We all know couples who got hitched who weren't going to have children. Besides which, all you have to do is read the juicier tabloids to find out marriage is also for Green Cards, and health insurance, and unplanned pregnancies, and making new Hollywood super couples, and corporate mergers, and hiding gay lifestyles, and paying the big bucks to Charlie Sheen's divorce lawyers. I'd like to add one more to the list; my personal favorite, partnership. Marriage is for good ol' fashioned partnership. But procreation? In this over-populated world, really?

In the USA of today, not the Nazareth of yesteryear, whether born this way or not, homosexuals want the freedom (there's that word again) to live with, love and marry who they choose. And when broken down to those few words it seems silly to withhold rights. Doesn't it?

Hats off to New York.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Requiem of a Five Year Old Hoochie-Mama

My beautiful daughter, Maxwell, is turning five tomorrow. And if I do say, she has blossomed quite nicely in her wee time on this planet. And that's saying a lot since she started life as a wrinkled bundle of distrust. Truly, I know of no other child who could cut her eyes like my daughter at one and a half. But now, she's a loving (and sometimes goofy) little girl who can't wait to share her most prized possessions with her besties. Even this month, as if in anticipation of leaving pre school and embarking upon a busy kindergarten life, she has equally become more open, leading with a confident smile with its adorable overbite, and also more obstinate, showing a strong will and an alarming ability to spin lies. "No, I didn't take your scissors without asking and cut the fur and nose off of Stuffed Lion."

Now, this willful independence, as annoying as it can be, isn't my number one concern. As a matter of fact, I'm proud she periodically bucks the system. However, she's developing another quality that sets my teeth on edge. There seems to be a strong possibility that my little girl is somewhat of a tart.

We were watching So You Think You Can Dance and in a fit of pique, because I was focusing on the spectacular dancers this season and not bestowing my full attentions on my beloved daughter, Maxie yelled at me to pause the program. Then with the insistence of Veruca Salt she pointed to the female dancer and demanded, "Papa, I want that costume for my birthday."

Was it the frou frou, pink and lavender, princess-y confection I've gotten used to? Quite the contrary. The costume in question was more...well...take a look for yourself...

My baby is growing up and I'm scared shitless.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Suck on this, Sarah!

By now, most of have heard the latest Sarah Palin gaffe. (What? Another one? Get out of town!) While visiting the Old North Church in Boston, Palin made a horse's patootie of herself when presenting her loose interpretation of Paul Revere's place in history. She insisted Revere warned the British (?) and did so by ringing lots of bells.

See for yourself...

Seemingly unrelated, on Sunday, my little family went to a fundraiser for the Pop Luck Club, which is an organization for gay dads in the LA area.

Sebastian, as usual, scored tons of tickets, sometimes by winning them at basketball dunking, sometimes by asking complete strangers for their tickets, and was able to trade them in for cheap ass candy and cheap ass toys.

Michael, however, made his killing at the silent auction and raffle winning even more cheap ass stuff. He scored a camera bag full of random Pixie Hollow items (oh, joy) with Tinkerbell's image emblazoned on EVERY SINGLE THING (double joy). Didn't matter if it was a potholder or baseball cap, cookie cutter or potted plant that facacta fairy is fucking everywhere. And if that wasn't enough, he also brought home an insulated Cars bag with a Cars baseball hat, many Cars t-shirts which fit nary a one of us, and a cherry red jacket with Rust-eze across the back, perfect for a night out with the I'm-a-geeky-parent-and-wear-cartoon-merch crowd.

The event took place at Bash's old preschool, Fountain Day, and Maxie and I spent our time in one of the rooms chatting...well, I chatted, she played with every plushy she could get her grubby little mitts on. And at one point Michael came barging in with both Sebastian's and his booty, barely making it through the door. I ohhed and ahhed appreciatively. (At least in my head I ohhed and ahhed.) But it was Bash who touched me the most. Amongst his stash were two Hula Hoops, two candy bracelets and two bubbles in the shape of ice cream cones. He used his tickets to buy crap for his sister!

My little eight year old is growing up!

I did, however, notice only one lollipop ring and sensing a potential problem I pocketed said treasure.

As we walked to the car, Bash asked where his ring was and I plainly pointed out the problem, "I have it but the second I give it to you, Maxie will want one as well."

Bash was silent for a second then said, "You're right, Papa. Maxie loves those rings. I'm sorry, I should have gotten two, but I forgot."

Did my ears just deceive me? Or did my eight year old just take responsibility for his mistake. And really, it wasn't that much of a mistake, just an oversight. Holy crap, he's beginning to realize the world does not revolve only around him. And he sounds genuinely concerned that he slighted his sister. We are heading into a new frontier. I can feel it.

I praised him for looking out for his sister, but I still wasn't sure if the lollipop should be unwrapped. So I asked if he had a solution, and he offered, "Well, we could share."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

I asked how this sharing would work and he said, "I could take a lick and then Maxie could pretend to take a lick."

So close.

They did end up sharing the lollipop in the car with some stern refereeing from the front seat, but over all, I couldn't be more proud of my son.

Cut back to Palin...

When interviewed on the very safe, "we love you Sarah" Fox News by the non-threatening, non-gotcha Chris Wallace, Palin could have amended her views on Paul Revere. She could have cited that she was tired and didn't know what the fuck she was saying. Or perhaps, it was just one of those pesky brain fart moments. Then she could accurately present the correct version of history, something her handlers could have prepped her on if she was still a little uncertain. This would make her more human in my eyes, showing that she too can be held accountable and take responsibility for her mistakes.

But nooooo...

Sebastian is entering the age of reason. Not only is he taking more responsibility for his actions, he is given more responsibilities, including looking out for his sister. It's our job as parents to help our kids through this transition of total selfishness to self awareness and placement in society. I'm sure, in her own way, Palin is instilling these very traits into her children. And yet, when backed into a corner, when a correspondent from the very network she works for asks for clarification, Sarah Palin does what she's always done, she puts on her stubborn hat and fires back rhetoric that just doesn't make one whit of sense.

"Part of his ride was to warn the British...You're not going to beat our own well-armed, ah, persons, ah, individual private militia that we have."

Well-armed persons individual private militia? Articulate much?

It is a strength when someone is able to admit he or she is wrong. Palin evidently thinks otherwise.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On the Boards All Month Long

Self promotion can be so tawdry, just ask Donald Trump. However, I will brave the possible negative fallout and toot my own horn. My blogging has fallen short as of late because I am in middle of two rehearsal processes. That's right, Mommy is performing!

Opening on June 3rd is Invincible: The Legend of Billie Jean. The title might tickle a memory synapse (or whatever the fuck it is), for back in the big-haired eighties The Legend of Billie Jean was a movie starring Helen Slater. (Ah, Helen Slater...that harkens back, doesn't it? Her name brings to mind other eighties luminaries, such as Jan Michael Vincent, Judge Reinhold, Molly Ringwald and Cher.)

Well, a few liberties have been taken with our Billie Jean. Okay, maybe not a few...a whole battalion of liberties have been taken with our Billie Jean. (And no, this is not about tennis great, Billie Jean King, nor is it about the character in Michael Jackson's hit song.) Our show is...oh, what's the word...campy. Big time, slap on the shoulder pads, plop on the mullet wig, campy. Perhaps most evident in the fact our Billie Jean is played by a man. I know, isn't he gorgeous. And the cherry of our sundae...we all sing Pat Benatar music. "Hit me with your best shot..."

It is going to be a fun evening. You all got to come.

The Cavern Club Theatre @ Casita Del Campo
(Where you can imbibe some fabu pre-show margaritas)
1920 Hyperion, Los Angeles

We perform the next three Fridays and Saturdays: June 3rd and 4th, 10th and 11th, 17th and 18th at 9 pm.

For tickets, click HERE!

Next, Mommy with a Penis, my "one mom" show, based on this very blog, is back on the boards late June for the second annual Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Whereas last year's endeavor was all about whether my material works on stage (and it does), this year is all about marketing. Getting in reviewers, the GLAAD nominating committee, Michele Bachmann's hairdresser, Chita Rivera's dog groomer, Chaz and Cher. There are only four performances and I want those fuckers SOLD OUT.

Theatre of NOTE
1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd.

Thursday, June 16th at 10 pm
Saturday, June 18th at 2 pm
Sunday, June 19th at 6 pm
Tuesday, June 21st at 8 pm

To purchase tickets click HERE!

And for my blog readers, be sure to use the code word "Mommy" to get discounted tickets! My way of saying thank you for being so loyal.

To those of you who are planning to come out and support the theatre arts, flowers are not necessary, however they are always a lovely surprise.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dream of Becoming a Stage Mom

A couple months back when this pic was snapped, I had this crazy thought that my daughter could be a successful kid model. This is always a dicey speculation. The stories of bratty child actors/models are legendary.

But Maxie is special. She really takes to the camera. She doesn't do what Sebastian does, which is smile like a Cheshire cat gone rabid. No, Maxie actually seems to understand the nuance of posing. And her pictures are oftentimes glorious.

It did occur to me if Maxie were to be a child model then I, of course, would have to become a stage mom. I tried to put myself into Mama Rose's wedgies and pill box hat, and I began to see possibility... Swigging Chardonnay with Mama Kardashian and Mama Lohan, demanding my daughter's mini fridge be filled with Kabbalah water and diet passion fruit infusions, insisting her dressing room include tuberose scented aromatherapy tea candles, the newest set of Hello Kitty plushy collectibles and green tea Lip Smackers (it is implied that wire hangers would not be tolerated.) I would perversely enjoy elbowing other little ones out of the way so my Sunshine could rise, rise, rise to the top of the heap. And no provincial incandescent daughter would go by the mononame, Maxwell. "Move out of the way, ladies. Maxwell is here! And where are her chartreuse M & M's, dammit?" Yes, Stage Mom is a mantle I was ready and willing to wear.

Then not a week after this Stage Mommy Dearest fantasy, there was a moment in the house when it was just too quiet. Parents, you know what I'm talking about. When all the kiddie chatter and electronic bleeping and pinging that you get used to as part of the constant ambient household noise suddenly goes mute.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. I had bleak thoughts that the kids made a break for it and ran off to join the circus or a Tyler Perry road tour.

I called out. No response. I went into the back yard and immediately both of my heathens look at me with eyes of guilt. It didn't take long for me to detect the kiddie scissors in Maxie's hand. Then I noticed something fall to the ground, featherlike, wafting to and fro. My eye traveled with this mote and when it touched the Saltillo tiles I noticed it landed on a pile of like members.

Realization hit me with the force of a Serena Williams backhand. Noooooooo! "Turn around," I demanded to my daughter, my stomach knotted like an overwrought suture. But it was too late. Even before Maxie did her one-eighty I knew what I was about to see. And I was right. There in the back of her head was a bald spot the size of a meaty ham hock.

Dream shattered. Mama Rose would have to wait.