Saturday, January 29, 2011


Remember when I was talking about Violet's Thanksgiving party at preschool? I forgot to show you what her "pow-wow" looked like, and now that my camera is back . . . here it is! Violet whined about having to wear her pow-wow getup and got all glassy eyed and sad when I put it on her. The indecency. I can promise you those are my genes in action.

This unbelievable video features two rocking pow-wow performances - you can't see the kids' faces, which I thought was perfect for the blog though not intentional. What I like about it is you can tell that Violet really knows how to:

Grind our corn

Gather our food

Catch some fish

Kneed our bread

Bake our pies

Eat our food

That kid on the other side of her is just flopping his hands around. I don't think he even knows what he's doing.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


Sitting in my living room the other day, I was looking around and thinking about what this place needs, and I thought of something. I really want a standing coatrack. We always have a pile of accessories lying around: sweatshirts, umbrellas, dog leashes, you name it. I pictured where I would put my coatrack, which in my mind was gray with minimal lines. I was wrong.

When I left for work yesterday, I noticed my neighbors on the other side of the complex had a standing coatrack. It was outside their door, and I wondered if they actually keep their coatrack outside. You can see I was thinking a lot about coatracks.

When I returned and was grabbing my mail, the owner of the coatrack came out of his apartment to shout down, “Hey Neighbor! You want a coatrack?” I didn’t think I heard him correctly at first, REALLY? YOU’RE GIVING AWAY YOUR COATRACK?! He said, “Come and get it! I’m about to leave it by the dumpster.” Sweet.

I brought it back to the apartment and stuck it just where I pictured it standing, between the front door and TV . . . damn, that thing is big. That could totally take out my TV. It looked like a bouncer standing by the door, which I kind of liked. But, I spent some more time thinking about coatracks . . . and I found the perfect place. Check it.

And guess what? The top part rotates. How sweet is that. I think the universe may have totally been conspiring right there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mercy, January

Funny Thing About Bindy

When I received an email from Bindy today with Funny Thing About Blogs as the subject, I wasn't too enthused . . . just another one of Bindy's forwarded mass emails. I'm pretty sure Tabitha deletes those without even opening them. I, on the other hand, nobly file them away for when I'm desperate for entertainment.

As I was waiting for Daisy during her worry doctor appointment today, I was pretty desperate. So, I opened up the email to find a . . . BLOOOOG POST! I will save my comments for the end.


Funny thing about blogs. You think you’re getting a factual rundown of a day in the life. But readers beware, said factual rundowns are always skewed by the eye of the blogger. Case in point: my friend posted a very nice post about the weekend that Tabitha and I (Bindy) came to visit. I was reading along, nodding, smiling vaguely in recollection, when it got to a section where a vast amount of relevant information was left out. Information that would alert you, dear reader, to the whole truth about why I wanted to go to bed so damn early. Since she is asking/begging me to guest blog, I will kill two birds with one stone: (one) set the record straight and (two) get her off my back.

Below are excerpts from her post, and my factual rebuttals in ALL CAPS so it will seem like I’m yelling.

Star: . . . on Saturday, Bindy tried to go to bed at her usual early hour . . . what was it, 9:30?


Star: How often do I get to see you, Bitch? Tabitha and I lured her back out of bed. Whenever we get together and Bindy is ready to go down for her very wrong bedtime, we hit a feverish pitch of charming and hilarious just to keep her up. And it totally works . . . for maybe an hour. Our golden hour last night reminded me of how funny Bindy is and also what an insane vocabulary she has. It got me all in the mood for another guest blog post . . . Bin-dy! Bin-dy! Bin-dy!


Star: We did let Bindy go to sleep eventually, and I had her sleep in my bed. Tabitha slept on the fold-out couch in the living room. I took one for the team by going up to the loft bed, which really is teen furniture. It’s cute but creaky with what I’m calling a normal adult weight range. Bindy’s a light sleeper, so she could hear every creak as I tossed and turned above her. I caused her own personal earthquake as I climbed down to open the bedroom window . . . I really needed some air. After I returned to my perch, I started to go into a real panic attack. I'm claustrophobic and the ceiling was a little too close to my face. How do the kids deal with that? I finally gave up and crawled into bed with Bindy in the middle of the night.



OK, let me clarify about the Mamma Fucking Mia. Tabitha prefers the HD channels, and in my town, we have very few. We could have watched The Dark Knight, but I’ll take tacky and shallow over harsh and complicated any day, which is why I got cozy with Bindy and not Tabitha ;)


Monday, January 24, 2011

Old and Fresh

I think I’m so ready to move forward: bring in the new. I literally have a list – little projects, big ideas, acquaintances who have offered to help me move or get together for lunch or whatever – that I keep putting off. My latest is the just-let-me-get-settled-in-the-apartment excuse.

Well, late Friday night, I got settled. Put away the last box. I now only have a few things to get up on the walls. So what did I do this weekend? Spent it with my usual suspects. It seems that when your life is flooded with change, even the old is fresh.

Tabitha and Bindy came from different directions for a visit on Saturday. They offered lots of positive feedback for the apartment and took me out to dinner. I probably shouldn’t qualify for the kid-glove treatment anymore, but many thanks, Ladies!

Quinn was supposed to be here too. Instead, she sent her signature flake text in place of her smiling face. That’s OK. I do find the familiar particularly comforting these days. It’s like my phone stalker. How long has it been now . . . one year? Two years? You know who you are . . . you keep calling just when I forget whose number that is, and I always miss you because I rarely answer like I should. I love that even if I call you back within seconds, you don’t pick up. Because you’re lazy and weird about getting back to people. And that’s fine with me. Eventually, I’ll shock the hell out of us both by picking up your call. Maybe it’s better we leave it like it is.

I guess you could say I relish familiar objects in new surroundings. I have Tabitha’s childhood shelves, painted black, in my living room. (About ten years ago, I went on a black painting spree; it was my goth moment in furniture.) The black is chipped off down to the white paint in places, with a light dusting of wall texturing spray. I love those shelves. They are full of happy friendship vibes. I’m so glad I didn’t replace them with Ikea newness.

And Tabitha appreciates those shelves too. She let me know this weekend that if I ever wanted to get rid of them, she wants them . . . um, I don’t think so. Anyway, on Saturday, Bindy tried to go to bed at her usual early hour . . . what was it, 9:30? How often do I get to see you, Bitch? Tabitha and I lured her back out of bed. Whenever we get together and Bindy is ready to go down for her very wrong bedtime, we hit a feverish pitch of charming and hilarious just to keep her up. And it totally works . . . for maybe an hour. Our golden hour last night reminded me of how funny Bindy is and also what an insane vocabulary she has. It got me all in the mood for another guest blog post . . . Bin-dy! Bin-dy! Bin-dy!

We did let Bindy go to sleep eventually, and I had her sleep in my bed. Tabitha slept on the fold-out couch in the living room. I took one for the team by going up to the loft bed, which really is teen furniture. It’s cute but creaky with what I’m calling a normal adult weight range. Bindy’s a light sleeper, so she could hear every creak as I tossed and turned above her. I caused her own personal earthquake as I climbed down to open the bedroom window . . . I really needed some air. After I returned to my perch, I started to go into a real panic attack. I'm claustrophobic and the ceiling was a little too close to my face. How do the kids deal with that? I finally gave up and crawled into bed with Bindy in the middle of the night. Sometimes, new things get old quick.

And sometimes, old things seem new. Ask Tabitha. Today was another beautiful January summer day, and we went to a restaurant right on the water for breakfast. Just as we got there, Tabitha mentioned she forgot her sunglasses. We opted to eat inside, and it was still very bright, so Bindy and I kept our sunglasses on. I turned to Tabitha intermittently to express concern regarding the blinding sunshine coming through the window . . . did she want to try another seat? Toward the end of breakfast, I realized the sunglasses on my face felt weird. I took them off to discover they weren’t mine at all. I handed them to Tabitha, who declared she had been cluelessly admiring them . . . it’s good to like your own style. My sunglasses were in my purse where I usually keep them.

Old things can seem really new when you haven’t seen them in a while. After saying goodbye to my girls and picking up my little girls, I cleaned out my car. I would say my car was starting to resemble a moving garbage dump, but it would be more accurate to say it was a moving garbage dump. I peeled away layers of moving, kid, and work debris. Finally, I stuck my hands under the seats for a few sparkly floor scores. My hand hit a mystery object that didn’t budge when I first grabbed it, and when it came loose, it was a freaking miracle. My camera! The last I remember, I set it on top of my car to get the kids situated. But it wasn’t my typical smooth maneuver after all. Apparently, I got the camera into the car, but a dollop of melted candy superglued it to the bottom of the front passenger seat. I can only imagine all the crap I shoved in there during the moving process had something to do with the phenomenon. But hello . . . all’s well that ends well.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Summer

Anger for Long Life and Happiness

There’s this familiar feeling I’ve been carrying around lately, and I finally recognized it . . . what am I, 15? It’s that old darkness I used to surround myself in as I listened to Morrissey, stayed up all night reading, and refused to talk to people I didn’t know. No matter what I used to think I was doing, I withdrew because I didn’t feel good enough for the world.

We all carry around little pieces of ourselves from the past, but I was surprised to find myself all the way down there again. It’s like getting a pimple when you have wrinkles – unacceptable. I worked so hard last year and have lots to show. I feel healthier and look better than I have in years. I’m getting recognition at work. If I can’t find something more substantial with benefits this spring, I am set from June through January. Until then, I will probably be able to piece together a few things to get by and enjoy the luxury of time.

This week, I got mad. It was the liberating kind of anger, not the wounded-animal brand. So, no more of this I’m-not-worthy bullshit. That mindset has only brought me down a rocky path. Time to stop hermitting out and get back to the people who have reached out recently. I love my usual suspects, and new people can be so high maintenance, but I’m really not 15 anymore. It’s got to be someone else’s turn for the Life-in-Crisis Crown and Magic Emo Wand. Speaking of someone else’s turn . . . Ladies, I finally found the bag of plastic penis accessories and Bitches Hate Me/I Have Sex with Reptiles tank you pampered me with at my bachelorette ten years ago. Living with children is the same as living with nosy parents, and I only have so much uphigh storage space . . . who wants ‘em?


Friday, January 14, 2011


One of my first orders of business after moving to the apartment was to find the neighborhood playgrounds. For some reason, I have a mental block against looking for this kind of stuff online. I still like to find things the old-fashioned way, when we had to waste a lot of time looking around for things in the real world.

I found the closest elementary school on a night run. I took the kids there with my mom and our dogs last week, while there were still students on campus for the afterschool program. There was a sign posted on the fence forbidding dogs, but I explained to everyone that no one would bother us because it wasn’t during school hours. It’s not like schools have money to hire afterschool dog patrol. Plus, we’ve done the same thing a ton of times at our own elementary school – what’s the dif?

The kids could barely enjoy their playground time because they were so worried we were going to be arrested. I told them to go ahead and enjoy themselves – I would take the fall if anyone approached us. Then, they were worried because they didn’t want to see me get arrested either. Hello . . . I’m not going to get arrested, and for goodness sakes, play! My mom lost her cool, turning around and exiting the school grounds with the dogs without saying anything. OK, Mom . . . come back! From the other side of the fence, she told me she was going to take the dogs down the street.

On our way home, the feedback I got was a public playground would make everyone feel a little more comfortable. This is why I was delighted to find an even closer playground at a public park on my walk back from the beach the other day, when I discovered I live a mere 20 minutes in walking time from my very favorite local beach . . . lovely.

While Daisy was at school on Monday, I took Violet to the newly discovered public park. When we got there, she asked me if the playground was part of another school, and I denied it. She asked me what that building was next to the playground then. Oh, that building? I’m not sure. Honestly, I hadn’t really noticed it because I was focused on the open grass spaces and straight up publicness of the playground.

Violet said she needed to go to the bathroom, so we walked toward the building, not knowing I was about to stumble upon my homeland. We found ourselves in an alternative high school for at-risk teenagers I have heard a lot about but never seen.

We walked by two boys who were doing something shifty with dice outside their math class. As soon as the boys saw us, they offered a defense, “You are a witness that was an accident!” I had no idea what they were talking about, but it wasn’t long before a red-faced, sweaty teacher came out of the classroom to send the boys to the principal’s office.

As the teacher confronted them, the boys kept pointing to us, “But we have a witness. She KNOWS it was an accident.” I averted my eyes as I ushered Violet to the restroom and stood just outside the door with our dog Sadie, offering the boys no support. As they passed us on their way to the office, one said, “Nice dog.” I smiled because Sadie had a crusty eye infection. It really was a nice touch to add the dog insult on the way to their consequences. As they walked out of earshot, I could hear them say, “Well, good thing we had a witness. Can you imagine how bad it would have been if we DIDN’T have a witness?” Ah, the sarcasm is like music to my ears.

After working at an alternative high school serving a similar population for so long, smart ass teenagers that aren’t managing their lives well will forever be my people. I can’t help it . . . I love those guys. I’m telling you, no matter how many things they need to work on, and god knows they have a lot to work on, they can assess what you’re all about in one look. They are funny as hell and profoundly creative. If and when they can ever harness those talents, there really is no stopping them.

I swear, that little trip to the park got me thinking about returning to a more meaningful job. Right now, my cause is taking care of the people I brought into this world. However, it might be time to start looking to get back to the community.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dog Days

I fell in love with that Dog Days Are Over song while helping Quinn move in November. I was driving over the Golden Gate when it came on the radio, and was like YEAH . . . THE DOG DAYS ARE O-VA. (But if you like that song, you might want to do yourself a favor and not watch the video.)

Then, I had a couple months of more than my share of dog days . . . wa wa wa. And I didn’t want to hear that damn song anymore. But I have to say, this morning, I’m feeling a refreshing lack of dog dayness.

The kids made the switch to their dad’s today, and it went smoothly. Last night, I had fun with those little monkeys. After homework and dinner, we walked to the library and read books. We took our flashlight to the nearby park to see if the vomit of drunk teenagers had been cleaned off the play structure yet. Walked through a row of churches filled with people while arguing with the kids that those were actual churches and not night schools for children. We were so engrossed in the argument that none of us saw the mailbox until Violet ran straight into it – SMACK. After that, Daisy kept running into every pole and tree on purpose to cheer up her sister.

It warms my heart because our little family unit has had so much seriosity. Monday night, Daisy had a complete meltdown during bedtime. All of her anger toward me came out in a big way. Because here’s the thing, no matter what my reasons are for leaving her dad, I’m going to be the bad guy because I was the one who left. And all she needs to know is that it’s not her fault, her dad and I love her more than ever and always will, and things will get better. I need to listen and be there for her as she goes through all her emotions. And I know that her dad and I will continue to work together to help her – we have a meeting with her new "worry doctor" today. But part of dealing with this is just sort of hanging on until things lighten up.

This is the note she brought home from school yesterday.

Let me translate.

Dear mom,

I love you. I know some difficulties are going on. I hope you had a good day. I do not feel bad about the new house. I am just a little worried.

From Daisy

P.S. I feel the same way about you.

Sooooo prescious . . . and you’re darn right your feelings haven’t changed for your own mama.

What was good about December is I had more work than I knew what to do with and made enough to meet our needs for at least a few months. It’s time for me to take a breath. I still have a little work and looking for more. And as I was writing this, I got calls for three new projects. But now, I can take a breath in a way that I haven’t in years. One motivating factor is something Daisy's doctor told me last week: a long term study found that the greatest factor in the wellbeing of adults was a happy mother. I really need to find my happy place.

And in the spirit of all that, I gave in and got cable for the apartment. The internet here is so slow I can’t watch Youtube or listen to my Pandora a lot of the time. I really just need to be able to sit down and watch a Lakers game once in awhile. And when I got the text from Tabitha that The Bach was back on, I ordered cable the next day. That show is more hideous than ever this season, and I’ll be watching every ridiculous moment. Oh, it feels good to laugh at other people sometimes. I get a little tired of always having to find the humor in my own situation.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

For-tay Par-tay

A friend had himself a nice 40th birthday party in Oakland last night. I was excited to get out and be around other adults. The plan was to meet Quinn in The City to ditch my car and take BART over. Just as I was leaving the apartment, a flake text from Quinn threw me. Now what? Where am I going to stay? I haven’t been going out much, but it occurred to me that for as long as I can remember, my social life has been based on other people making the plan. Not used to steering my own ship, I decided to head to Oakland and figure it out from there.

Shortly after arriving, some old friends took over the helm without me even having to ask (oh, thank god . . . that was a lot of responsibility). Someone was going to drive my car back to The City early; someone was going to drive my chardonnay-sipping self back to The City late. I had a place to stay and a plan.

I saw several people for the first time since the divorce who already knew about it. There were two ways the conversation could go. I could not acknowledge the elephant in the room and repeat “good” several times in response to polite inquiries or I could briefly acknowledge the situation then change the subject. You can probably guess the option I went with most of the time. The meaning of briefly may have been altered slightly with each glass of wine.

At one point, someone started to introduce me as the wife of . . . wait, what are you now? I didn’t know what to say and turned toward another conversation instead (cause I’m smooth like that). But I was surprised to feel some questions around that one myself. I mean, I’ve known many of those people from before I was even with my husband. What’s up with the identity question mark?

Throughout the party, I kept noticing this guy lurking about with some serious dreads and facial hair. He didn’t seem to be talking to anyone and maybe was a bit uncomfortable. At the end of the evening, I found myself standing next to him, so I made small talk. He didn’t look me in the eye and spoke kind of low and soft. I stared at him as I threw a few questions his way, and then it dawned on me . . . hey! We went to high school together in Long Beach! What's your name? I was the TA in your English class in like 1989. I could remember grading his Huck Finn essay. And I could also remember running into him years ago in the Bay Area, but he looks like a completely different person now.

He suddenly came to in a very focused way, addressing me by name as if he knew the whole time. He looked me in the eye and said, “What’s going on with you?” And without thinking about it, I said, I’m not really sure . . . you know? With a total look of recognition, he said, “Yeah, I know.” It was the weirdest freaking exchange but probably the most real of the evening. And for some reason, I didn’t want to talk to him anymore after that, so I turned to someone else.

And when I say I’m not sure what’s going on with me, I don’t mean that I’m going through life not knowing what I’m doing. The changes I instigated were not made out of carelessness or confusion. But now, there’s a blank canvas where part of my life used to be, and I’m really not sure what I want on there. I know what I don’t want, what won’t work. But, what will? I know, deep thoughts.

When I was saying my goodbyes, a woman who used to date a friend of mine came over to give me a robust hug. I only know her a little bit, but we had a good convo at the party. She's also divorced and does some kind of counseling. It might be something like chakra couseling, I'm not really sure. I have her card somewhere. Anyway, she gave me a full body hug, pelvis to pelvis, and wouldn't let go. I'm not a touchy, huggy person with most people. I'll hug and kiss my kids until they cry for mercy, but I just don't go around giving people lingering bear hugs. I didn't know what to do so I just stood there with her hair in my face and my arms wrapped around her. She said, "You are a shining light. You're beautiful and it's going to get better." I opened my mouth to say something but just got a bunch of her hair in my mouth. I was starting to get really uncomfortable, so I patted her on the back and tried to let go. She squeezed me tighter, "You. are. a. shining. light." She let go after what seemed like eons. Uh, thanks. You too. Have a good one!

So, that's something I'm trying out for the blank canvas . . . shining light. She seemed pretty sure.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Lesson For Us All

Dear OJ and Anonymous Skidmark,

I thought about you two and your comments today . . . see? Dodger fans accepting a Giants fan INTO THEIR FAMILY! And isn't California just one big family when you really think about it?

xxoo Star Mama

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Let's Go, 2011

In the first couple hours of New Year's Day, I wrote something for the blog and my computer crashed. A pitiful night to be blogging for sure. But this year, I welcomed the new year with my two little girls and they weren't long termers.

The kids made it to shortly after midnight, and after they were fast asleep, I felt like writing. So, I wrote about our evening: the movies and coloring; Sorry, a game I was sorry I played after much bickering; and our walk in the hour before midnight. It seemed like we were the only people on the streets beside the police jetting about in pursuit of illegal fireworks going off all over town.

Violet cried because she didn't want the "powice to fight the firewooks guys." Daisy accused her of not even caring about the law. And once again, the sisters started to fight. But mostly, we were entertained by the whole scene. We spent our New Year's countdown in an empty parking lot across the street from the apartment, watching for fireworks. Looking at a night sky always transforms my mood, which was a little shaky at the time. And when it turned to midnight, we could hear the hum of faraway raging that sounded like coyotes. In fact, I couldn't convince the kids it wasn't coyotes. In the first few minutes of this year, I was happy and relieved to call 2010 over. Then, a dad from the complex randomly brought his daughter out and lit a series of his own contraband in the street for our own up close and personal fireworks show.

After that stroke of luck, the kids fell apart and I put them to bed. I wrote an entry for the blog and my computer crashed, just before posting. I called Dell the next day and getting the thing fixed was going to take a week. A week? I have deadlines! I realized that because my Dell crashes twice a year, maybe I need a backup. Besides, the kids are always pestering me for computer time.

This is why I found myself at Best Buy on New Year's Day. I wasn't happy about it. I found a laptop that was about the same price as a netbook, then the sales guy talked me into jacking up the price for a couple questionable add-ons. I was kicking myself twenty minutes later, standing in line at the stupid Geek Squad counter, which must be exactly like hell. The line didn't move. My kids were bringing their whines to new heights of annoyance in tone and pitch. And I couldn't stop watching computer-illiterate baby boomers receive disorganized, condescending advice from kids in ties. I was in that line for 40 minutes and I will never make another purchase at that place - unless I need something again on a day that Costco is closed and Target is sold out of everything. THEN I might have to sneak in for a quick purchase.

But I'm not going near those Geek Squad punks again, I know that for sure. When I fi-nal-ly got to the front of the line, the customer service genius said, "So, how was your New Year's Eve?" I told him it was OK . . . how was yours? He said something like, "It was great. I was just glad I knew where I was when I woke up this morning. That's always good." And I was thinking . . . you knew exactly where you were . . . in your room at your parents' house after having a couple glasses of champagne with your mama. I stopped responding to him when he said, "Wow. Nice computer!" Um, I picked out the cheapest laptop that you had in stock . . . don't patronize me.

Anyway, it might sound like I'm a little moody, and maybe so. Got plenty to process. There is an occasional strong emotion, and I keep reminding myself to just be with it. . . don't push it away or distract. I very much believe in karma, and I see a lot of what I'm experiencing these days in those terms. I am reaping what I have sowed: good and bad. And aren't we all. I'm impatient to see what this year will bring.

I was feeling a certain heaviness this New Year's. And then I thought about last New Year's Eve . . . I spent it mostly alone, recovering from Swine Flu, while the rest of my family slept, sick as dogs. I was yearning to make some personal changes, including getting in better shape and addressing relationship issues. More than anything, I felt the need to deal. Well, this year . . . things have been dealt with. And when comparing this New Years to last, you could even say things are looking up.

Here's our New Year's Eve 2011 in pics. No fireworks or police were documented but you'll get the general flavor. By the way, I set my camera down somewhere silly a little while back, never to see it again. Making do with the camera phone.