Her Birthday is My Birth Day

Queen for a day, princess for a lifetime

Today is L’s birthday and the anniversary of the happiest day of my life. Realizing that we are now 6 years away from that glorious day makes me wistful and a bit sad. Buffering the dread of the continued demise of her innocence (2nd Miley Cyrus song purchased today) is the joy and pride of her birth.

I worked HARD to bring her into the world in as close to my terms as I could. No pain medication, a midwife instead of a doctor but still at a hospital, my mom there even though she struggled to watch me go through it (I think she asked for my epidural). My best friend video taped it. J was next to me, keeping me positive. After many, many hours and a few quick naps, my beautiful baby came into the world. My efforts drew Rock Star status in the O.B. wing. I glowed with love and pride.

True to kid form, L is celebrating her birthday as loudly as she can. A crown, a pretty dress, the class singing Happy Birthday. It is her day.

In my heart, in my mind, quietly, I celebrate her birthday as my day, too.


It Only Ends Once – My Take on the Lost Finale

It could be PMS.  That is my official explanation for why I am still weepy over the Lost finale. Otherwise I’d have to admit this emotional state is due to mourning characters. And that, well, that would be CRAZY!

I drove home from watching the series finale at a movie theater bawling like a baby. I can’t believe Jack died. I really didn’t think he would. I held out for Jack living on the island while he sent his friends home after they destroyed Man In Black. I thought that somehow the sideways timeline would end since MIB died, and everyone would live happily ever after. I realized that that ending would leave questions about a sequel or a Lost movie, something the writers adamantly refused to consider. With Jack dying and the island safe from the Smoke Monster, the story has no need for a movie. The story is done.

I appreciate that the most, even though I am not happy with it. The writers found a way to end the story. I know people are upset that all of the questions were not answered. My comment to them is, “Get a job writing a series in Hollywood that blows everyone’s mind, and then find a way to end it without pissing anyone off. Go ahead. Try.” We don’t know what it is like to have their job, we don’t know what it takes to write something that makes millions of fans around the world, a show that is full of mystery and excitement and love, and then try to tie it up in the end. Lindelof and Cruse shared that burden. We allowed them the privilege of leading us along without a map or even a flashlight. That was the chance we took. Haters don’t realize that, I think.

I was sure that I would watch the whole series again but since I know Jack dies I might not. I missed season 2 and 3, and I hear 3 was pretty slow. On the other hand, there are some things that I don’t know that I would like to, like about certain relationships, who some characters were that are referenced later and how some people died. But since the show, ultimately, wasn’t as much a mystery as it was a love story, re-watching doesn’t seem as vital. Then again, how can I stop listening to Jay and Jack, who are now kind of my buddies?  (Okay, that’s exaggerating. They answer my emails.)

I’m in bed, thinking I should probably eat and get ready for my allergy appointment. What I feel like doing? Laying my head down and having a few good cries over love. Character love, sure. But love nonetheless.

Jorge Garcia sends a message to his fans.

If You Weren’t Adding To Body Image Issues, I Might Buy Your Video

I love Gwyneth Paltrow. I admire her, I think she is beautiful, I think she is talented. She seems like a smart, sensible person who likes to have fun. I’m a smart, sensible person who likes to have fun.

I also admire her physique, which we do not share. Ms. Paltrow writes about her trainer, Tracy Anderson, like on this blog post about how she got into shape for the new Iron Man movie. In it, Paltrow links to an Anderson butt and leg work out you can buy. I’ve been to Anderson’s website and tried her 9 minute enticement video. It was pretty good.

But here’s the problem: Anderson used the word “perfect” when talking about the kind of body I can have. That seems wrong. I can’t have the perfect body because I don’t have the same DNA as Gwyneth Paltrow. Or any other other celebrity who has a body I think is amazing. I have my DNA, which is decidedly NOT perfect. I can lose weight but I’ll always have hips and boobs. End of story.

Words like “perfect” are red flags for taking advantage of people’s insecurities to sell weight loss products.

Then there’s the “baby food diet.” Apparently, Anderson is out touting her idea that women can eat baby food all day and then eat an adult meal and lose weight. It probably works. Baby food is low in calories and fat. But is healthy? What do doctors and nutritionists think of this diet? Is Anderson a nutritionist? It sounds crazy to me. Wrong. Again, manipulative. (Thankfully Paltrow admits to eating actual food – what I like about her – and gives some recipes on that blog post.)

Anderson is pretty but not real. She has the “I’m amazing!” look that women in the Victoria Secret catalogues have but she does it on her videos. She is mugging during the work out. That’s weird to me. I want my trainer to be a regular person who doesn’t think she is better than me, just further ahead.

The butt and leg video is interesting – my ass is showing my age more than my wrinkles do. If I give this woman my money, though, it says I approve of her sales message, which I don’t. In fact, I think it perpetuates a myth that is dangerous to women. So, she won’t be getting my money and I’ll have to live without knowing the secret to a smaller, perkier butt  and how to never need squats again.

And I have to admit that the more Ms. Paltrow helps Anderson sell that message without questioning it, it knocks her pedestal down a little.

I’m back even though I wasn’t gone.

Wow. January. My last post was in January. It’s worse than I thought.

I didn’t have much momentum on this thing anyway, but still, I know a few people read what I write and occasionally people say they like it. Still. January?  It is April. Yikes.

Mostly I stopped blogging because there was only one thing on my mind and I couldn’t write about it – J was laid off in February. Yes, it is something worth writing about but my husband is a private person where I am not and he really didn’t want me to share about it. He took it personally, like it was his personal failing that got him laid off.  Such is the burden of the male psyche.

I honored his need and didn’t tell anyone other than family and close friends.  We were terrified, to put it plainly. J had 5 weeks to find new work at his place of work (a big, big company) before his final day. At the 11th hour (meaning, the last hour of his last day of his job), he got hired by a new group. Once again, my husband triumphs. He is the best.

There you have it. I plan to keep writing because there are so many things to say. Like, my daughter is going to be six in May and I really don’t want her to grow up. Like, I’ve quit going to the gym because I don’t know what I am going there for since my body doesn’t even change for the better even when I go 5 days a week. Like, this bullying situation is really freaking me out even though my child is 6 and I don’t know how to contain my anxiety about it, since I am convinced it will happen to my child.

Things like that.

Family history

Grandpa Alex is on the right, dapper as always.

This is the story of my grandfather. My 10 year old nephew, Jason, wrote this for school with my mother’s help. It is a story of courage, heartbreak, and gumption. Much like the story of Jewish history.

I never got to meet my grandfather.


Alexander Olenikoff, my maternal great-grandfather, is the person I chose to write about.  When he was sixteen, the Pogram started in Russia.  A Pogrom is an organized persecution or killing off of an ethnic group.  I wish he and his family managed to get out safely but only Alex escaped, which meant two things: he was sixteen, and he was alone.  Alex journeyed onto America by boat and his lonely trip took weeks. How was he able to leave Russia when his family was not, you might ask?  Well, because his parents were wealthy they were able to travel from Russia before the Pogrom began.   While his mother was pregnant with him, they were visiting family in America and presto!  Alex was born an American citizen.   Because he had American birth papers, he was the only family member allowed to leave his country.

So, at sixteen years old, he escaped, alone, sad and scared to the country he was born in, not understanding English and not really knowing the family he was going to live with.  Also, the Russian Government closed off their country.  No mail was going in or out.  Alex was not able to ever, ever contact his family again.  He lived his life not knowing if his family was alive or dead and they knew nothing of his travels.

He came to Detroit, Michigan to live with cousins and he worked as a tailor to earn money.   He and his cousin opened a clothing store, Blocks Clothes, and the family changed their name to Olen because they didn’t want to sound too Jewish.  He eventually married and had my grandmother. He died at 53 on the way to his clothing shop of a heart attack. My Grandparents named my Mom after her Grandfather that she never met.  Alex Olen: Andrea Lynn, A.L.  Thank you for listening to the story of my migrating, maternal great-grandfather, Alexander Olenikoff.

Put down that corkscrew! Slowly, slowly…

My husband and I quite drinking for January. Bottom line, we were drinking too much. It just wasn’t healthy any more. Speaking for myself, I was using alcohol as a crutch for stress – but now I see that I was caught in a vicious circle. I’d feel stressed, drink some wine…(repeat for three nights in a row)…feel crummy from dehydration and poor sleep…less able to handle stress, I’d drink some wine…stop for a night out of guilt…feel stressed, etc. It just wasn’t working. I didn’t want to admit it because then I’d have to deal with, well, whatever I was avoiding by drinking.

I also have a view of “evening” as “Adult Time,” and I used wine as the delineation of that time. But, at some level, the symbolism became more important than the impact of it. In other words, when I struggled with parenting, having a glass of wine was like my way of saying, “I’m not a parent now because I am drinking.” Which we can also call, “bullshit.”

J easily agreed to this little break because he is trying to get back into good health, too. Instead of wine, I drink tea. Quite a lot of tea.

Here are some things I have discovered so far:

1. I no longer enjoy the taste of cheap wine. I don’t care if it has a decent rating on the card at the grocery store, if it is on sale for $4.99, it isn’t going to taste full, or rich, or pungent or any of those other classy words used to describe a bottle costing $40 or even $20.

2. I have energy all the way through the day, rather than slowing down around 3pm. In fact, I have been significantly more productive and able to handle my busy life.

3. I’m not yelling at L in the mornings about getting ready for school. (That’s worth its weight in gold, really.)

4. I’m not bloated. Enough said.

5. I generally just feel better.

I am not swearing off alcohol. I enjoy the taste of beer and wine. Instead, we will purchase good tasting beverages, enjoying them as special occasions, a choice done with thought and care.  I am very much looking forward to that delicious red wine that’s coming in a couple of weeks, because it will be something earned.

Catwalk vs. Rock Wall

Photo from AP, originally in http://www.dailymail.co.uk

I’ve been thinking a lot about my child’s birthday.  Hard not to, since she has been talking about her 6th birthday since 5 minutes after her 5th birthday. I discovered why that is, why kids are so focused on birthdays: they are a kid’s only source of power.  L says frequently, “I am NOT inviting so-and-so to my birthday!” Sorry, kid, everyone in class gets to come if they want.

Last year, we had a princess party. Friends came and dressed up, got their hair, nails and make-up done. Then, the guests played games and had cake. It was sweet and silly and pretty easy. I was pleased.

Over the summer and into Fall, L was invited to three girl birthdays and all were Princess Parties/Fashion Parties, or a combination. The first one was small – even the boys had knight costumes and, of course, fought with the plastic swords.  Mostly the girls ran around the house playing with toys and trying to get the birthday girl to be with them. It was quite low key.

The next party was similar to Lillian’s own with a twist. The girls dressed up in costumes, got their hair, nail and make-up done, learned a dance and then did a fashion show.  The place was tiny with chairs for the parents facing a small runway. L picked a Snow White dress, and I was relieved she didn’t pick the rockstar mid-driff bearing t-shirt.  Girls who were done being primped stood in a mirror and sang to themselves – they weren’t even playing together! The dance was okay and the fashion show was, well, disturbing. As I watched this display of “confidence” with all the parents cheering and laughing at the adorable kids (and some were really adorable), I had a sinking feeling. I mean, I spend all this time worrying about my child’s self-image while she is drenched in a culture that is set to destroy that self-image. It just seemed…wrong. This is a child’s fantasy? To play out being a model? What are we doing?

The next birthday party my husband attended because I was out of town. Apparently, it was a princess party (girls wore their own costumes) with Cinderella reading as story about manners, and then the girls took a CARRIAGE RIDE WITH A REAL HORSE around the neighborhood.  According to J, the house and the party were quite over the top (pictures show a stage with a movie marquee with the kid’s name on it), which isn’t surprising given the location. It’s a suburb that basically wrote the book on McMansions. At least the party dealt with being a Lady and not a model.

Why are we allowing our children, no, encouraging our children to engage in celebrity culture fantasy play? I have no issue with the general dress-up play, but having a bunch of parents “ooh” and “aah” over glittery eye shadow and an exposed belly is just wrong. What’s next? Fake papparazzi? A fake film premier with fake fans? Fake cocaine in the bathroom stalls?

Even though I told L I won’t discuss her birthday until March (actual birthday end of May), I have been thinking about it. And I’ve decided it is going to be a very athletic birthday. Something where the kids run around and get sweaty. Where they use their bodies in ways that helps their growth. Where they get to laugh and have fun being kids. Thankfully, my child is completely into the idea of having her party at our gym, which could include rock climbing or swimming if we choose.

I’m done pretending that a child’s most special day of the whole year is time to act like a prissy adult. As we know so well, getting to act like a kid is special enough.