Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stuck ON

Big Little Lies. HBO's new adaptation of the 2014 novel, written by Liane Moriarty. 

When I was first approached about a collaboration to host a series viewing party for friends, I may have let out a little shriek of joy (anyone who knows me can attest to my life long passion for holding preview parties in honor of award shows, movie debuts and series finales that I've carried out since I was 10 - or younger if you count my obsession with the Academy Awards - so if there is any way to make a career out of hosting parties for casual couch cable reviews in the company of good friends, wine, and in home dinner delivery, I need to know how to get myself to the front of the line, Ok?)

Fact is, I was already dying to see this show. My niece and I (who share identical taste in cable television) were already counting down the days to premier night since catching wind of the stellar cast in a series teaser making the rounds late night on HBO a couple months ago. The special perk of viewing it addition to the generous sponsorship of HBO's complementary "party in a box" which offered up everything I needed to host a party, from serving dish wear, to champaign glassware, candles, wine gift cards, all food expenses and childcare paid for, was merely icing on the cake. I invited a handful of ladies to eat and watch it with with me at my home this past Sunday, and with just two episodes down the hatch, I think it's safe to say we're all equally hooked and looking forward to the watching the whole season unravel. 

BLL is the kind of show that's almost demands a call to your best friend the day after, to mull over Monday morning (Leave it to David E. Kelley to forever hold court in that specific talent)With a setting and tone being everything I tend to love innately in any series I fall hard for on screen. Much like The Affair, it shares that same sexy, broody beachside appeal, but anchored here on the West Coast, specially, inside the jaw dropping shores of Monterey where wealthy women (played by big name stars) seek to show us just how complicated life can prove behind the glossy shields of some of the country's most enviable real estate. With a stylistic edge leaning on smart, slight campy undertones, but more centered (like a more proud, sophisticated soap opera) with stalking egos played by Hollywood big whigs, sloping sun soaked wooden decks, and one riled up Reese Witherspoon at the root of it all already raking in plenty of praise for her role as Madeline. Which The Ringer predicts: "We’ll spend many sunset-soaked moments pondering the answers to these questions, but ultimately, they are hardly the ones that matter. Because as much as BLL is a satirical, skewering, and prickly ode to lush interiors and Nicole Kidman’s perfect honey-blond dye job, it is also a suburban murder mystery. David E. Kelly has given us the True Detective we deserved, with dashes of Desperate Housewives drama and Valley of the Dolls undertones for good measure. The only trick: In addition to not knowing who did it, we do not yet know who was killed."

It's true, we don't know yet know the circumstances surrounding the murder at the core of this story, but I can say that I'll be tuning in every Sunday night until we do. And then likely long there after. Even when the only party surrounding me is the last of those fancy wine leftovers, and one tired dingy dog at my feet after the kids have all gone to bed and the last of my Sunday night belongs to this new stinging suburban drama where the dirty secrets will likely always outweigh the sharp wardrobes and killer landscape it's so prettily encased with. 




- Big Little Lies / Sunday's at 9:00

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When the same songs that made your heart swell at 17 do the same at 37.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Overheard



"You don't ever have to pay dude. My mom gots it. Every time"
- Rex declining his friends offer to pay his own way into the movie we were headed for.


"It literally hurts. Like watching your ex get fit, move on, and then hook up with a pretty blonde on an exotic vacation you see while trolling the timeline on his Facebook."
- Friend, over breakfast on the hurt involved in seeing Barrack looking well rested, well adjusted and pretty damn fine in his newly tipped baseball hat, shorts, and abs.


"I hope Siri jumps out of that dumb phone and smacks you in the face one day!"
- Leon, to Rex, feeling newly neglected on a weekend because of an ipod housing a sharp lady named siri.


"I would have like that."
- Leon's response to me explaining that the reason I didn't buy them anything in D.C was due to the only notable loot being Obama memorabilia. Which apparently he would have appreciated. #tears


"Was Leon's mom there?"
- Leon's classmate, asked of Leon's teacher during a video on Martin Luther King showing protesters in Washington marching for civil rights. Because if you've been to one protest you've been to them all. Even if they happened decades before your birth . . .


"I think I was probably more willing to work out a deal with him over the others simply because he had a Hillary sticker on his car. Is that wrong?"
- Me, to a friend in regards to the real estate agent who came to negotiate the price of our house. Driving a Kia with an "I'm with Her" sticker on his bumper.

"No, I got it from the tooth fairy on Christmas."
- Rex, on the mysterious yellow toothbrush I found in the bathroom and wondered aloud where it came from.


"If I tell him to bite you, he's going to bite you."
- Rex, to Leon. About Hayes who now serves as his tiny loyal hitman just waiting for word (or reason) for attack.


"Can't you just drop us off and go to starbucks like all the other moms?"
- Arlo, not amused by my habit of parking next to the curb at the skatepark and clapping when he is shredding.


"Can you not say "shredding" to my friends?"
- Arlo, not amused by my use of the term "shredding"


"I'm not going there and making all those dumb girl pictures. I only do that on Valentines Day."
- Rex, declining a second term of the after school program "art smarts" which apparently involved too many still life flower paintings for his liking.


"You just got back from a week long trip hanging out with a bunch of ladies dressed up like Vaginas and you're worried going to see a band play at a dive bar makes you look bad?'
- Mike, in response to me fretting over asking his parents to watch the boys two days after my return from D.C. to see a country band at a neighboring bar.


"Worst day ever."
- Rex, bummed about no real life breathing yellow bird as a gift on his birthday. Later to be overridden by the proclamation "best day ever" after a successful skate session with his friends.


"Butthole!"
- Hayes, approx 10 times, loudly, during lunch with friends. Thanks to whomever taught it to him and is responsible for it being (unfortunately) one of the only words he can pronounce clear as day. Especially, it seems, in restaurant settings.


"Where are you reading this stuff?!"
- Arlo, resentful of the new "no screen Wednesdays" which forbids all usage of electronics in the house midweek. Which I found in an article suggested by a friend on Facebook, thank you very much.


"Can someone pay me?!"
- Leon, finally frustrated by his allowance debts forever expanding.


"Dad said no one wants chickens or lamas and I should just tell you"
- Arlo, breaking the news on their true feelings behind the prospects of country (canyon) living.


"And did she seem happy? Or, like, suuuper sad?"
- Me, forever digging. While hearing Leon's teacher had them tune into to watch the inauguration in class.


"He doesn't seem the least bit bothered by my admitting that I just might leave him for a tall Danish Women." 
- Me, to my bf on a phone call home from NY. In which my lady crush on Helena seemed to fall on easily approving ears.

"He's orange!
He's gross!
He lost the popular vote!"
- Recounting a protest chant stuck in my head with enthusiasm to Hayes, at bedtime, instead of the regular (this little piggy) Which I think he may have liked a lot better.


"Siri, how many tacos does it take to circle the moon?"
Leon, bitten by the siri bug.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Trials of Two

It's always odd to me, how much we manage to forget in the relatively short span that we have between subsequent children. Each newborn, arriving with their own sense of mystery in way of all the small (but enchanting) phases of babyhood we are often so quick to loose touch with. Asking ourselves about things we've already been through and should already be keen on. When DO they eat solids again? Is this normal? Should I be potty training by now? Why isn't he talking?

There are only 16 months between Leon and Rex so the bulk of their early years kind of rolled in to one. But in the nearly four years that stand between Rex and Hayes, I've found myself, on occasion, feeling almost like it was my first go round. Namely, in regards to the trials of two. And just how manic and unreasonable these little toddlers beings can be. *Not Arlo though, because he owned that whole saint complex that allows our first borns to trick us into a lifetime of high / false expectations in which we are forever deciding another child is a great idea. But definitely the other three. Which is not to say they aren't completely adorable in the midst of the madness. They are. They have to be.




Once Hayes turned two it was like a light switch flipped on an inner sleeping beast. Replacing the timid babe I was accustomed to with a temperamental little brute who lives in a constant state of flux defined by endless reason for complaint and irrational demand. Also, non stop requests for water. Which he doesn't always even want, but more enjoys the power of requesting. A fact eased of course by that cute halo of curls and flashing blue eyes that certainly help mask the new grit he now carries with confidence. Combined with a tendency to throw food he disproves of, bite brothers out of protest, break random household items for fun, and crumple to the floor in department stores without warning in response to me refusing to buy him the giant fire engine (which he already HAS) on isle 10. Big watery tears dribbling down his cheeks, flailing limbs. The whole shebang.

These days, the tantrums aren't awful, but regular. And when he isn't being completely irresistible (because with the amount of kisses and affection he smothers me with on the daily, there really isn't a better description) our time consists of trying to figure out just how the hell to keep a seemingly belligerent two year old, happy. And most times, one out of the five of us proves more successful at doing it. Rex, being his obvious favorite. A dynamic that's intriguing from a mother's stand point considering how different personalities in a family can be the source of effortless connections or strained brotherly kinship. In this house, we have an equal share of both. And it's no secret how much he adores Rex, whom he calls "Rockie" (which is also obscenely cute.)

But back to being two. And irrational, unpredictable, insatiable and reckless. Pulling your mom by the arm to open a fridge stocked with everything you suddenly refuse to have anything to do with. Dumping expensive shampoo bottles in the bathtub just because. Clearing a table lined with magazines (or toys) when the urge strikes you (which is often) Biting yourself out of frustration and then biting others when that frustration and self mutilation goes unnoticed. Basically two is nuts. And even though I've been through it three times before, I still find myself with a spinning head and frazzled nerves almost daily. On my worse days, even lowering myself two the constricted psyche of a toddler - proclaiming, usually in defeat, that there will not be anymore fruit snacks simply because "I SAID SO!"

With that said, I probably won't be reading up on parenting books or even asking for help or suggestions because if there's one thing I have retained - it's that all these phases are fast and fleeting. And they always move past and out of them quicker than can ever really believe. Part of the reason our sanity is saved I suppose. With light at the end of the tunnel forever flickering in the distance. Plus I still cling to the same philosophy that's always lead me: Instinct and Intuition. Guiding me through bouts of self doubt whenever they rear their head.

So for now, we are soaking up the sweet stuff and getting through the hard stuff. Books piled into our bed at night. Colors learnt in the slow swell of our afternoons. Potty training talk, futile jokes coming attached to a sense of humor evolving. Swings at the park that breed flushed cheeks in winter begging for kissing. Tiny feet in suede boots. Naked weekends in the backyard with the sun on his skin. Watering plants and cleaning up the messes that trail him wherever he goes. Because there are, so, many, messes. With the only bright side being, never more than there are kisses.







Monday, February 6, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Week In Review




Hard to believe how long this week (for one reason or another) is already feeling. And to think, it's only Friday. 

- Last Saturday, as word of our house falling out of escrow surfaced via email we were encouraged to open it up for another women who was "very interested" (on a last minute notice "walk through" with a showing that ended up sitcom worthy as far as absurdity is concerned) For instance, an overprotective dog who tried to intimidate her by barking viciously (as much as a short poodle can) the entire time she was here, and the whole lighting in our backyard going black the moment she wandered outside to check out the yard, in addition to exploding fire logs bursting open flames (which has never happened before!) onto the lounge area where we were all gathered, causing a frenzy of children to leap out of their seats to the grassy patches below for safety. A neighbor who came to check on us after seeing additional sparks shooting furiously from our main chimney. In other words, one mild catastrophe after another which became so ridiculous we got to a point where couldn't stop laughing. Good news is, she must have a sense of humor because she put an offer in (much higher) than the one we initially accepted the following morning. Which apparently means we're moving. Soon. Where, and when, is still to be determined. Trying not to stress over that one but...

- Sunday, a small dinner with family and a few friends in honor of Rex's 7th birthday. Chicken and steak and ice cream and cake for a boy who's still bitter over not getting a bird as a gift but willing to forgive us in lie of stickers and legos serving as temporary supplements. 

- Mid week included much of the regular. School lunches, homework, skate parks, music lessons, wrestling, biting, failed potty training attempts, one week long disabled iPod, and hospital scare for my mom, a student of the month award for Leon (most respectful) as well as two lost teeth resulting in frantic cash hunts at 11:30 at night, just as the tooth fairy should be readily drifting off (had she been more prepared for such events) Regular life events wedged sweetly in between real world news events that permanently have my head spinning and my heart aching. The ban, the wall, the lies, threats and tweets. The horrors at this point that come daily with the likes of Conway, Bannon, DeVos and their intentions, that can hardly outweigh the glory that is other news: Beyonce twins, Oprah's prime time return, and a viral video of 65 zookeepers in China hugging panda bears for a group photo. Yet still the world turns. 

- Thursday lunch I spent in downtown Pomona (which is so much cuter than I knew!) where we talked about how to stay connected and active in resistance. A helpful hour I gained new insight and access to a Facebook group she started to share articles, info, points of action and donation. Much needed considering just how hard it is to get caught up with kids and tight schedules and put the reality of all this ugly political stuff on the back burner. Hopefully some of you are finding similar means of support. 

- An end of week late night movie date with Denise finally got us to the theater last night just before LaLa Land up and disappears. Of which my review remains meager but approving. Pretty settings,  a classic love note to L.A, with good chemistry between the two of them and effective emotional tackling of how we all feel about "the one that got away" - but a little "sadder" than I expected. Still well worth the money. Maybe not as amazing as the hype suggests, but good. And in my case, better seen without the husband in tow. Like I had planned last month. But fell through. Thankfully. Seeing how similar musical themed movies have played for us on date nights in the past. 

- Up ahead, a Boy Scout event where cooking chili and pancakes is the main agenda. An overnight trip to Santa Barbara at a cute hotel with a few friends in a celebration of a birthday. A whole lot of cleaning up, clearing out, and I guess, at some point, thoughts on packing. 

For now though, a loving link to the Doen Journal highlighting some of the sentiments behind a few women who marched last month in protest. A good and valuable read that I'm proud to be included in. 



Cheers, to Friday. 
And surviving it all the best we know how.
Xo,
J



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In It Together | Reflections on the Women's March

In hindsight, booking that ticket to D.C would never have happened had it not been for an impetuous impulse where I was desperate for some kind of action the week after the election. Just as early details surrounding this massive protest began taking shape. I, and a few of my friends here on the west coast, determined to get there. Though in all honesty, I think had I known the movement would ultimately stretch itself across every major city in the nation, I would have just as well joined the likes of all the ladies marching here in L.A or San Diego, who's turn out proved equally impressive and would have been much more convenient for me considering the regular feat of juggling four kids, three in school, a house inching towards escrow, and good old airplane anxiety.

But man, I would have missed out on so much.

The whole glorious experience surrounding the march in Washington granted me. Five days spent in the close company of the most inspiring women, some of them old friends, some new acquaintances and one, a life long idol of mine who's connection stemmed only from a flimsy mutual online admiration. Hours I spent conversing in hotel rooms, plotting in dim lit dinners, sitting contently around home spaces by the fire, marching alongside a million other "resisters." Catching new strength of heart simply by soaking up the moments in and around the protest. One on one conversation handing real advice and valid information.

I arrived in NY late night and reeling, Jess, on the other hand, greeting me at the airport exhausted at midnight, driving us back to the cozy confines of her quaint Brooklyn apartment in a scatter of light rainfall where a blow up mattress and a faux fireplace in the room downstairs became most effective aid to my new battle with insomnia. In the morning, a brown bag of fresh bagels delivered to us in the midst of shaking off the grips of slight jet lag. Trading politics for wedding talk, in between cups of coffee, counting all the ways we could best arrange her apartment to suit the wedding crowd coming in May with the same intensity given to convos regarding the shifting tone of the whole country. Already proving desperate to unveil it's own severe home edits and rearranging. The two of us vowing to become more active, alert, responsive and efficient in our resistance. To hold each other accountable. While sinking back into the comforts of trite gossip when the topic of country started to wear us thin. The kinds of shifts only friends for ages can manage without the shadow of judgment there as sobering alignment. An easy, carefree kinship we probably both take for granted more than we even realize.

Experiences that came to define the this trip for me, more so than even the march I came for. Talking to a variety of women about where and how we move forward from this point on. Learning about voicing our fears and frustrations to congress. Calling, writing, expressing. Pulling new inspiration from the points of view that came from each of them.  Gretchen, in the downtown bar across the street from the hotel, with her big warm eyes and sharp wardrobe, engaged and fired up like any good leader of a feminist protest group should be. Anne Parker - my long time texting companion - who's company I only know via an ever ready phone screen, arriving flushed from the cold with a bottle of wine after a long day's march, pulled from a small canvas tote to toast the women gathered there around us in unison for the a bigger cause. A bar full of strangers in pink knit hats whose quick smiles and knowing nods offered instant means of connection. And then again, with the boos that came in waves during a news clip of our newest leader on the bar's television. In the company of a few hard core Trump fans looking pissed in their otherwise joyous red caps. To which I say, hey guys, we all earned our drinks rightfully that day.

The women in the bathroom at the train station, that I'll never forget, thanking us gently on her way out for being out there in honor of so many who wanted to be but couldn't.

The bus drivers who offered us praise as we pulled into a dark lot in D.C to unload with our signs.

Margaret and Katherine in the crowd beside us, offering much needed comic relief - like close and charismatic sisters are always best at, lending good natured support during the four (or three of five or however many it was) hours we stood in a single spot listening to an endless array of speakers on stage before growing utterly desperate to break out and move our bodies, to get out and walk. Latonya, with her big flashing grin greeting us from the stoop at her handsome brownstone apartment on our way out of town early Friday morning. Lending quick laughter and valuable insight to a trio of bitter (albeit funny) commentary unrolling during the three hour drive we made from Brooklyn to Baltimore while live streaming the entire Inauguration from my phone that birthed a collective tie of sentiments ranging from sorrow (over watching one beloved man on his way out) and horror (over another frightful one taking his place) An acquaintance turned friend during this trip, who's voice offered us intimate insides to the significance of Black Lives Matter and how it's sorely neglected by the bulk of white community and it's overall mindset. As well as other issues the black community feels we are essentially disconnected from but genuinely interested in educated us if we're willing.

** on a lighter note: She also laughed hardest at my protest sign mispelling. The unfortunate result of a 2am creation that left the damn N out of the word "resistance." Which I didn't catch until after I posted it to 70,000 people. All of which a handful kindly pretended not to notice. But that I had to correct with a borrowed pen later that day. To save face, and allow for further photo opps...

We talked abortion. Legislation. Fashion. Food. Fascism.





On my last day, a cold and rainy afternoon in the city where a chance meet up with Helena Christensen (whom I had only held out small hopes of actually meeting up with during this trip and would feel so silly to try and pass off as anything other than a life long dream scenario of mine) came to fruition in a small cafe over lentil soup and regular girl talk. A woman who's infamous features are every bit as stunning in person, but with an air of "celebrity" that falls away almost instantly once you realize that your intuitions - about her being exceptionally sharp, with fantastic street style, who's great taste in men can only be eclipsed by even better taste in music - is but a footnote to the candidness she emits from across the table almost immediately. In the throes of discussing everything from pop culture, to motherhood, to politics. Even in the company of someone she's only known casually through social media. ** Said person who openly admits in the enchanted glow of her gorgeous loft, stocked with an envious amount of amazing art and books in the Village, that the pictures she snapped of her framed childhood photos are now her newest screen saver. Because sometimes playing it cool is overrated. Most specifically when you meet a woman you've loved this long who ends up proving far more alluring and insightful than you even imagined. And the absolute best way to conclude the trip to the big city just as you're starting to miss the wild chaos back at home.

In the end, I debated a full week before sitting down to write about my lasting reflections on the march. Mainly because I found myself critical of some aspects of it and figured it wasn't worth noting when the bigger picture should be focused on just how many Americans are feeling the same way and still searching for sufficient means of progress in resistance. I felt less interested in cultivating a post revolving around some of the core issues because at the end of the day I kept coming back to how powerful these conversations were for me. In helping encourage, push and support each other during what is increasingly feeling like darker times ahead. So that we stay active and aware. Dedicated and informed. Everywhere I turn my daily media sites are flooded with onslaughts of articles, petitions, news briefings, ect and some days it honestly gets to feel a little overwhelming. The alternative being: reaching out to those around us. Asking for help and guidance. And giving it back when we can.

We all know we on the left have some major work to do. To mend and evolve our party, as well as continue holding the current administration accountable. And for many of us, there is so much we still need to learn. What I'm hoping is that the momentum of these Marches transpires from a moment to a movement, inspiring an individual desire to try and bind together to evolve our frustrations into solid action. #Intersectionalfeminism all the way. Paying less mind to the critisicms out there (gosh, there lots) and more to potential solutions, without sacrificing the art of hearing the other side. These days, more than every before, "listening" is starting to feel like an art we aren't much interested in progressing. And without it, we only grow weaker in our defeat. As empowering as it feels to be surrounded by likeminded people, neglecting to listen to those voices opposing is part of the reason we're here in the first place. A fact I myself am working hard to address and hopefully correct too. . Because there are so many out there feeling lost and helpless. Watching the heads of power barreling forward against everything we believe this country stands for.

My plan being simple, to lean on the ladies (and men) around me. One on one. For support and direction. And in turn reach out to the ones who need it. So we go at it together. By foot, voice, brains, art, protest, love and respect. United as one.

In that, I can't help but think there's any way we can loose.


That being said, I hope to continue the topic here on a regular basis and am wondering:
what are your tips and advice? 
How do you plan to remain proactive? 
Sites we should know? 
Petitions to sign? 
Phone calls to make?



















Friday, January 27, 2017

Women's March

I've been home for two days now but have yet to find the time I need to collect my thoughts on my time in Washington, Baltimore and New York. Five days I spent surrounded by the most incredible women.

In the meantime, a video I made to highlight the love and joy we found in midst of these darker days. Words for the time being failing me, but Nina Simon pulling it hard.


My Movie from Mrs. Habit on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scenes From a Weekend / Venice + Topanga

An early morning drive to Venice Beach on a hazy Sunday, to squeeze in an hour long skate session before the local crowds roll in and claim the space. Arlo, now familiar with the infamous slopes and dips, slicing around with new vengeance since getting his cast off last month and regaining all old skills (and a few new) within weeks of having it off. Rex, newly inducted to Venice, spent a good chunk of his time fine turning his social skills in addition to his drop ins. Chatting with long haired teenagers (who seemed sweetly inspired by his style and confidence) while befriending just about everyone on the sidelines gathered too to watch the skate after breakfast. At one point, he was even interviewed by a film crew who asked him his name, age, favorite trick and reason for skating. Which he answered most professionally (for a 6 year old that is) explaining his long time love of the sport (because he started at four and it's basically a lifetime ago - according to him) his desire to get better, and his lasting devotion to Jay Adams because: "old school" style.

Both boys seeming to find their footing in and around the local skating circles, which has been really fun to watch, making new friends and get noticed for something they both love so dearly. But rarely competitively. Leon, on the other hand (as Leon is known to) being quite content doing his own thing. This weekend that meant testing his new metal detector on the sand while Hayes chased a flock of seagulls around the beach like a wild animal, tirelessly, clenching a bag full of crumbs that gave him the kind of control 2 year olds live and breathe for. Birds so desperate they were practically eating crackers from his hand. The closest he's ever come to snatching one up. Because the kid is determined, and one of these days I swear he's going to lunge faster than they fly.

Later in the day we headed to the canyon for a single night's stay. Booked when I realized the kids were off Monday and seized the opportunity because I've been itching for a short getaway. 

We spent our time with friends and a grip of girls, kicking around the landscape on a strange hippy compound where a tree swing and tree house offered equal reason for fights, fits, and laughter. Basic kid quarrels over who's turn it was combined with complaints about unjust rulings and people taking cuts. In the middle of the fussing though there was some pretty delightful scenes and we managed (after all the wild roaming) to find a movie on my laptop which they all agreed on and were able to sit for nearly two hours at the table with a bottle of wine catching up and regaining lost rhythms to conversations that we learn to forsake whenever kids are around. In other words, we got to finish sentences, and train of thought, and gossip, and banter, and it was much appreciated.


Today we are back home battling weekend exhaustion, buried in mud soaked laundry and dreading the next two days wherein I'll find myself in a mad scramble every hour leading up to my flight on Thursday, trying to ensure things are in order, stocked, and prepared while I'm gone. The prep is always harder than the actual packing. So I should probably wrap this post and get back to business.

Hopefully returning with a couple more posts dedicated to two year old plights and the Million Woman March this week before I leave.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend too.