Saturday, October 29, 2011

At your peak

 I recently spent a considerable amount of time with the Kardashian family.  Unless you have been living under a rock, (or banging two together to make fire like her new beau), Kim Kardashian just got married to Kris Humphries, a dead ringer for Neanderthal man.  Y'all, I am positively convinced that he is the modern genetic link between apes and humans.  Here, draw your own conclusions.

Neanderthal Man

Kris Humphries

Anyway, I watched several back to back episodes of the Kardashian wedding on E! one rainy afternoon and evening (it took about 6 hours with all of the child interruptions, natch), and the one thing that I took away from it (other than the fact that like 5 third world countries could be fed for a month, for the cost of a wedding that at best will last that long) was the scene in which Kim and Kris Humphries announced to Kim's Mom that they intended to get married in three months.  When Kim's Mom inquired as to what the rush was, Kris Humphries (the Neanderthal, you following me?) replied, "because Kim wants to get married while she is at her PEAK."

This just struck me to my core.  I think EVERY bride wants to look her best on her wedding day, but to actually evaluate yourself, and then declare that you are at your peak physically, so you want to get married right away, is a such a bizarre motivation to me.  I mean, it is one thing to hear your biological clock ticking, because that is a medical FACT that it does tick, but beauty, in itself, I have always understood to be subjective, not only culturally, but for the individual.  I mean, what one culture thinks is beautiful is very different than what another culture may find attractive.  Also, one may THINK they are at their peak, but when they look back at that photo where their gigantic ass is squeezed into a Herve Leger dress, accentuated by their faux hawk and hooker pumps, they may not look at themselves admiringly, but instead with disgust or humiliation.  For instance, look at this photo of my friend, Cristina.  She is 7 months pregnant and she is the epitome of beauty to me.


So, you see, beauty is subjective.  Or, at least it used to be, before everyone started looking like The Joker, that is.  However, given the times and the pressure that women have, to not only reach their peak, but then retain their peak, is at the very least, a daunting task, and at it's worst, addictive. 

  I mean, when were you at your peak?  I couldn't really tell you when I was at my peak, but I could DAMN sure tell you when I was not. 

Okay, on the subject of peaking, let's examine the wonderful world of plastic surgery.  Is that what everyone is trying to do?  Get back to their peak?  It's worth exploring.  Recently, I sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Donaldson, who is a plastic surgeon in town, who also happens to specialize in the "Mommy Makeover".  This, my friends, entails a breast augmentation, a breast lift, a tummy tuck, and liposuction.  It is exactly what the doctor ordered, so to speak, when it comes to what my body needs.

But, first, let's back up.  A few weeks ago, Marcy Fleisher, of Fleisher Communications Group (, contacted me to pitch me a few of her clients.  One of those clients is Dr. Donaldson.  I have been fascinated with the whole plastic surgery movement since it began, and not unsurprisingly, I have a lot of opinions and a firestorm of questions.

I felt like this story was a great topic for a post or posts, but Marcy and I discussed how there were no guarantees, and that I felt and feel that I have a responsibility to continue to call it as I see it, so that you guys can believe that what I am writing is genuine.  In essence, I don't want to be anybody's whore.  Except Brad's, I guess.  Okaaaaay, that felt weird.

So, here is what I like about Dr. Donaldson so far.  He is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery.  He is well-educated (Ivy League, y'all, Holla!), and I like that he has opinions about some of the bullshit that is happening in his industry and he is not afraid to speak out about it.  Check out this link from Dr. Donaldson's website that describes the education and medical training that deserves the distinction of being Board Certified in Plastic Surgery.

Okay, here is what happened when I arrived. I was all harried and rushed, and for once I was not late, but  of course, I arrived with blank paperwork and I had NO IDEA what I was going to write about and even less of a clue as to what was about to happen.  The office assistant asks me to fill out the paperwork and tells me it will be $50 for a consultation.

I sat down to gather myself and was all WTF?  I wonder if this is what journalists do. "Do you PAY now to write about people?  Jesus, tabloids have just RUINED journalistic integrity entirely!"  I thought to myself.  I was miffed.  I mean, if I haven't made it clear enough, I have no expense account, unless you count that change jar under the bathroom sink upstairs.

So ANYWAY, I discuss my point of view with the office assistant, and she goes and gets Dr. Donaldson.  We have this awkward moment where I have to explain to him that I am not going to get anything done, and then we start this GREAT dialogue.  My intention, it occurs to me on the spot, is to actually relay the experience of going to a plastic surgeon.  I also think it is important to discuss the issues surrounding plastic surgery today.  So, in essence, my mission is twofold, personal and professional.

I explain to Dr. Donaldson that I not only am a cynic of plastic surgery, in general, but that I, personally, have reservations about going under the knife or doing Botox because (a) I used to be in pharmaceutical sales and I saw a lot of products, including one that I was "pushing" yanked off of the market a year or so after FDA approval, when the actual patients were using the drug, and not just subjects in clinical trials, and (b) I have had three c-sections, the first of which, I hemorrhaged after, so I personally feel like my elective surgery dance card is full. 

These two background circumstances uniquely qualify me to be a skeptic of this industry, but I also have many friends (most of them, really) who have engaged in either fillers, Botox, or elective surgery.  Once again, I am the last virgin in my sorority house - the hold out.  What I am saying is that there is an emotional element to all of this, of which Dr. Donaldson was nice enough to enlighten me on.

There was this sheet I was given to fill out, in which you are to check each box that applies to you, in terms of what you would like to get done.  It is below:
Don't worry.  I, too, am continually amazed at how low tech this blog is!

One of the issues that sticks in Dr. Donaldson's crawl (how descriptive is that, AND appropriate I might add) is the fact that you can go to Dental School and then "hang your shingle as a plastic surgeon" after one weekend seminar.  Donaldson said that there is no governing body that polices this practice and that it is done all of the time.

Then, during these economic times, people are not only more desperate to make themselves more attractive (there have been a thousand studies on how attractive people are more successful and happy in general), but also maybe their economic circumstances do not afford them the opportunity to have something cosmetic done by the "best in the business".

These doctors may be legally protected to perform the procedures, but they do not necessarily have the medical background to anticipate or rectify complications that arise when these procedures or surgeries go awry.   Then, because patients are vulnerable, they are easily taken advantage of, by certain physicians who capitalize on those vulnerabilities for their own gain.  In my eyes, the risk/benefit analysis that normally is present in medical scenarios involving surgical procedures, no longer exists for elective surgery.

For instance, if a person needs, let's say, sinus surgery, a physician diagnoses the problem, recommends a specialist, who them performs the procedure.  It is because there is a medical NEED.  But if you take away the medical need, and you replace it with someone who is simply paying someone to tell them what is wrong with them, then, there are grey areas, that do not exist in a true medical scenario.  Therefore, you need to not only seek out a professional that is certified and trained to do the elective surgery that you crave, but you must also need to trust that that physician will not take advantage of your insecurities for his own financial gain.

What I am getting at, is that a physician who performs elective surgery, or botox, or whatever, is in THE POWER POSITION, and you need to be aware of that.  That is why I decided to take on this assignment with Dr. Donaldson.  When I told him that I was clearly a "hot mess" that could benefit from any and all of the checklist he provided, he responded, "It is not MY job to tell you what you need.  I treat people who come to me with something that they are willing to endure surgery to change about themselves in order to enhance their self-confidence and quality of life, in general."  Let's be real.  I am paraphrasing.  I brought a notebook, but forgot to write anything down because I was so enthralled with our conversation. 

He went on to sort of say, "Let's say you have a huge nose that inhibits you from getting a job, or having sexual relations, or a social life or whatever."  I immediately internalize this statement and assume that he is talking about MY nose and I become self-conscious.  "Or you have had several children, and you can't stand to look at your breasts...."  I have stopped listening now because he is clearly talking about me.

But, he was NOT talking about me, I don't think, because (when I was able to swallow my paranoia and focus, again) he elaborated on how most of the women he sees are women who have had certain body characteristics all of their life, and then during a series of circumstances, be it pregnancy, thyroid, stress, age, or whatever, that body no longer exists and they want to try and get it back.  They want to be at their PEAK, again, and it is worth the risk.

What I like about Dr. Donaldson is that he is obviously qualified to perform whatever I may want done, but he is NOT going to pressure me into making any decisions by preying on my obvious insecurities for his own financial gain.  Just ask me if I had to pay the $50 dollars.

My mission through these next few posts is to get you to think about why you feel the way you do about your body, and to examine whether or not it is worth the consequences you might face if it does not turn out the way you thought it would. 

I have an appointment next week with Dr. Donaldson, where I am going to "walk through" the entire experience of a consultation for the "Mommy Makeover".  I promise that I will not hold anything back.  I think you all know me better than that.  I am already wondering if I can find matching underwear in my drawer.  Would it be uncomfortable for him if I were to wear my Spanx?  I know it is for me.

Stay tuned and wish me luck.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who is on YOUR team?

Recently, I was contacted by Marcy Fleisher (, of Fleisher Communications Group (, because she was interested in pitching some ideas to me.  We traded several emails because, basically, I couldn't get my shit together, and then finally, we met up at Le Chatelaine in Upper Arlington.

THAT meeting almost didn't happen, too, because I did not confirm our appointment the night before when she inboxed me because, being the loser bird I am, I went to bed at 9:00.  I don't mean bed, as in watched T.V. until 11:30.  I mean, got in bed at 8:51, after putting the kids down (let's be real, they were all just staring at the ceiling listening to lullaby rap music) and was ASLEEP by 9:00.

So, ANYWAY, Marcy shows up at Le Chatelaine, and I am FULLY CAFFEINATED.  I had had two cups of my jet fuel-like coffee that I prepare at home (the night before, natch) and then decided to treat myself to one of their yummy lattes, once I got there.  Sorry, Marcy.  I should have warned you.  I have two speeds:  caffeinated and asleep.

Okay, so Marcy, couldn't be MORE lovely and rill (this is my new favorite word), as in "keepin' it rill, y'all!" or "fur rill!".  Please see video below.

Anderson Cooper is my new MAIN GAY.

Anyway, after meeting Marcy, who has, after ONE meeting, given me a TON of professional advice, and leads, I might add - it just got me to is almost like we are part of a team and she is a new teammate, if that makes any sense.

Let me clarify...and elaborate....and pontificate, if you will.  Try not to HATE, PONTIFICATE.  Or how 'bout DON'T HATE...PONTIFICATE!  Oh My Gawd, I just thought of the new masthead for my blog.

My manager, Jen, has been ON ME, to make my blog more of an experience. She started this nonsense when we were on our YACHT, of all things, ( while I was tryin' to get my DRANK on, of all times!   Jen feels that "when the participant enters your blog site, they should almost gets lost in the experience.  That's what I want people to experience your blog, not just READ it."

I was all, "Wow, that sounds VERY Dungeons and Dragons to me.  Can we make Gratuitous Guidance a portal to an alternate universe, like in that movie "Being John Malkovich?"  Sweet."  I said as I took another swig of my beer.  "Jen, I just want you to know how much I appreciate how much you champion me and my burgeoning career in the blogosphere, " I continued.  NO ONE is a bigger proponent of my blog than YOU.  It's just that the ONE thing you keep forgetting about me is how LAZY I am." And then we burst into laughter, and she began taking pictures of me to replace the fuzzy picture I had before at the top of this page.  Here are some of the pictures that didn't make it

Overexposed?  Not yet, I'm not!

Can't explain.  Weird tongue pose, I guess.

Watch your thumb.  WHAAAT?

Now, look at the moon.

No, The OTHER moon.

Big SMILE.  Not THAT big.  You look possessed.

Where's that moon again?

Money shot.

Too fat.

Too skinny faced, and awkward pose.  Makes me feel strange just looking at this one.

Pretend like your asleep.  You're smirking.  PERRRRFECCT!

You should see the difference between this and Marcy's recent professional photo shoot, in which they used clothing from Rowe Boutique (  I was going to show it to you, but there are copyright infringement issues.  Let me just tell you, though, that her photographer was easy to pose for, know what I'm sayin'?

Anywho, can you tell that we were just beside ourselves with laughter?  She was literally standing above me, using my pathetic $100 digital camera, taking photo after photo of me, while she said things like, "Work it!" and "Turn to the side.  Yeah, that's it."  She was acting like my shutter speed was like fifty pictures per second, but in reality it took a really long time in between each picture.  Hilarious.  They all turned out terrible, except the one I ended up using, but I guess my POINT is, that Jen is on my team.  She is not in my click, or anything like that, she just gets me, and accepts me, and genuinely wants the best for me.  And that is a rare, rare thing, my friends.

Okay, I have arrived at my original intention for this blog, again.  GOOD.  I guess I have just given a lot of thought to who is on my team, lately.  To me, a teammate is someone who does not have an agenda.  They are genuine and rill and positive.  However, they must also possess a certain amount of sarcasm, if they are going to be positive, to balance out all those good vibes.

Seriously, I am forty-one-years old and my girls are more self-sufficient now, and it is as if a fog has cleared in my head.  I think there are several reasons for that.  The first reason is because I am no longer just maintaining, anymore.  By that, I mean, before, when my children were young, I felt like I was just presented with task after task, that I either completed or didn't and then I went to bed.  There wasn't a lot of time for self-reflection or deliberation on who I wanted to surround myself with.  I was in survival mode, so to speak.

So, I am thinking about writing this post, which is a post about being the best that you can be, and that means editing out certain forces and things in your life that hinder that goal.  And then I find a message from my tennis partner, and good friend, Christina, that she had sent me last week.  People, it is not like my INBOX is flooded, so it was really random that I somehow did not get the message or missed it, but it was probably one of the nicest notes I have ever received EVER, in the history of this blog.  Just kidding, Christina, in my life.  

You see, before I started this blog, I tended to keep my freak flag at half mast, reserved only for family members and my closest friends.  Then, one night after two glasses of wine, and at the urging of my manager, and a dare from my husband, I gave birth to this inner demon on Facebook.

I had NO IDEA how it was going to be received.  I have had all kinds of feedback, but none like the letter (Facebook message, same diff) I opened (clicked on) from my (redundant) teammate, Christina.  What is that called when a word has two meanings?  They used it in Mills' spelling bee post (  Oh, yea, double entendre...FRAUNCH, shoulda' known.  Anyway, Christina gave me lots of inspired ideas, and some very heartfelt compliments, and although, I had not known it before, I realized that she was on my team...and I am so grateful.

You see, you don't really know who is on your team until you do something risky, really.  I am no fool.  I know that some, if not a lot of the bullshit I put up here is provocative. (Like using the word, bullshit, I guess - I just figured I could eventually desensitize you to it.  Next, up muthafuckin' bullshit.  But, I don't want to give away next week's word, just yet.  Practice amongst yourselves if you desire extra credit.  Baby steps.)

GODAYUM!  (November's word and new spelling)I digress again.  So, my advice today is very simple.  Ask yourself who is on your team.  It doesn't necessarily have to be someone who helps you out or even someone that you come into contact with frequently.  You don't have to have history with them, or to even have gone out and gotten shitfaced with them. Remember, your teammates are the people that GET you.  They like YOU, for YOU, and for no other reason.  Now, if you surround yourself with your teammates, then you can accomplish GREAT things, even if it is spending an afternoon laughing until your side hurts as you fold your laundry.

Listen, I hate to get all Dali Lama on yo' asses (Gungala,, Gungola, Gungola - see below) but imagine if the entire World insulated themselves with their teammates, how happy we could all be.  Just a thought. Now, get out there and receive total consciousness, BEEEAAATTTCCCHHHHES!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rural Farms, Fur, and Seventies Coats

I got this vintage 70's coat there, too.  I think Starsky has a shorter version of it.  Or was it Hutch?

Last Friday, I went to this amazing Farm Sale, at Warwick Farms, right outside of Mt.Vernon, Ohio,  and met up with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law. ( I went with my friend, Kim, and we had so much fun.  My mother-in-law went last year, and she insisted that I go, because she knew I would love it, and I did.

The only way I can explain it to you is that it is like the Springfield Antique Show, but much much smaller, and styled much better.  There are quaint tents and little houses on the property, like her newly renovated hen house that house the vendors, set against the owner's exquisite gardens.

Case in point.

The food is amazing (think Butternut Squash Soup, Chicken and Noodles, and Apple Cider), and cool little country boutiques show there.  That sounds like an oxymoron, but when I was in pharmaceutical sales, I used to find the most amazing stuff in these boutiques and antique stores in the little towns that were part of my territory, there,  instead of calling on doctors.

It's so funny, because part of that speech that I posted, from Steve Jobs, explained how you can only connect the dots after you have lived your life and you look back, and it is so clear to me now, how I arrived at where I am now, and how unfit I was to be a pharmaceutical rep, but I could not see it at the time, because the money and the perks were so great.

But, honestly, if I had taken a good hard look at how miserable I was while I was actually DOING my job, and how happy I was when I was playing hooky, I would have realized that I am clearly an "arty-type" personality who has no business in the business world.  The problem with that, however, is that in order to survive, you need to make money and have health insurance, so a lot of times people just have hobbies that they love, and jobs that they hate, yet they never make the connection to combine the two.  Make no mistake, though, people, the second you make your hobby a business, it loses some of it's luster.  Believe me, I know of what I speak.  Ask me about my B's Purse venture sometime.  Just because you have an unhealthy obsession with bags and monograms, doesn't mean that you should combine the two, and then sell them.  I had one party and then I quit.

I digress, AGAIN.  So, we roll up in my awesome silver  2004 Honda Pilot (which, I think, in itself qualifies as "vintage"), and I am getting my stuff out of my car, and I step into this hole.  Hilarious!

It looks like I am kneeling, but my entire leg is immersed in the hole.  Funny because I did not break my leg, natch.

So, in addition, on Saturday,  I had a gaggle of lady friends over, and it was an absolute BALL.  When I was putting out my recycling the next day, there were about twelve empty wine bottles and instead of being ashamed, I put them all together in a rather artistic display so that that one woman on my street who walks her dog in a full mink coat when it is sixty degrees outside does not have to strain her neck.  BOOM!  You just wish you were invited to my lady friend party last night, but we all love animals so you weren't allowed.

How ya like me now, Nosy Von Noseburg!

(Okay, I am going to focus on my subject now, I promise.)  I am not above the fray, though, when it comes to luxurious things.  "Cham-pan-ya tastes on a beer budget," has always been MY motto, and I, myself, was almost lured in by this amazing mink scarf at the Farm Sale.  Unfortunately, I was with my friend, Kim, who is the biggest animal lover I know, and she began giving me the evil eye, as soon as I wrapped it around myself and started swaying in the antique mirror they provided, imagining myself in a variety of fabulous circumstances.  (Gawd, she can be a buzzkill sometimes.)  Anyway, I came to my senses, just as the proprietor of the booth began putting the full court press on me, saying ridiculous things like, "Don't you love that?  It was so hard to put that out, and I keep getting jealous whenever anyone tries it on!"

"It is cool, I just feel bad about wearing real fur, you know."  I catch sight of Kim, lurking in the back of the booth, and she nods in approval,  because she has been just laying in wait (like a spyyyyder), for me to finally do the right thing.  It was definitely one of those Angel/Devil on each shoulder scenarios, for sho'.  

And then, the girl selling the scarf said the stupidest thing, "Well, you know, it's already dead, so I don't feel as bad, because it's vintage."

I switch gears on her and now I am on my high horse. "But, that's not really the point, you are promoting wearing animal fur, regardless of whether it is a fresh kill or a kill made 100 years ago."

Kim goes, "Let's go."  Because the only thing that Kim hates more than wearing animals as decoration, is confrontation.  I ended up buying this necklace, instead.  Soooo cool.  It is 100 karat gold, according to crazy fur lady - and I believe her.  When we left, she picked up the mink scarf and started posing with it.  Normally, I respond to crazy.  She just wasn't my preferred brand of crazy.

The next thing we came across is this...

Kim and the coolest dog I have ever seen.

He was sitting on this antique velvet chair with a luxurious blanket draped, just so, around him.  Love it!!!

Then, the lady was back and she was all, "Hey, what are you doing with MY Dog?" and Kim and I had to scamper out of there, before she offered to slaughter her dog and whip up a nice shrug for us.

I know I am being pious, now...Don't think for a minute that I haven't thought about that mink scarf every night before I've fallen asleep.  I HAVE to turn on it, though, because otherwise it will consume me.

So, anyway, I guess my recommendation is obvious today.  Go to the Rural Society Antique and Garden Show!  They have one in the Spring, as well.  We were bullshitting with a friend of the owner of the farm who is the vet in town,  This weekend and every Halloween season, he has a huge Halloween Party, in which they use a trebuchet to launch pumpkins in the air that are aflame. This is not a video at their party, but I wanted to give you an idea.

I cannot go this year, but I plan on making it my job to get invited next year.  In addition, there is a quaint little cottage on the property that you can rent out and they have had weddings on their grounds as well.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Warwick Farm will be featured in Country Living Magazine next Fall.  Check out their website and maybe I will see you there in the Spring!

I feel like I have not done the farm justice, but this is the tent you eat in, complete with decorated farm tables and chandeliers, surrounded by gardens and this spectacular fountain.  Love it!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Fresh New Hell

Today I went on a field trip with my daughter, Mills.  We were going to a fruit farm, where you stock up on apples, gourds, and pumpkins.  I am familiar with the trip because I went with my eldest daughter, Hallie, and her class her second grade year.

I realize that I should be one of those Moms that really enjoys field trips, but I don't.  I do them, because my children pressure me to do them, and that is the truth.  Judge me all you want.  As Popeye says, "IYAMWHATIAM! UGUGUGUGUGUG!"

Anyway, the last time I went on the Fruit Farm field trip, an unexpected cold front swept in, which left all of the children and parent volunteers totally unprepared for freezing cold temperatures.  I am not kidding.  It was cold enough to snow.  It was absolutely miserable, and since then, for me, the words Lynd's Fruit Farm had become synonymous with AGONY, and today it did not disappoint.

I woke up this morning to a consistent falling rain and a twenty degree drop in temperature from the night before.  My first thought was, "Ohhhh Shit."

I kept checking my phone, for a cancellation email from Mills' teacher, to no avail.  For a second, I allowed myself to imagine what my day would be like if I had not committed to this field trip, and it literally stung me to my soul.  So I pushed it down to that deep, dark unspeakable place that houses all of my other unfulfilled fantasies like becoming a lounge singer and having a leprechaun in my basement that did all of my laundry (no spun gold for me beaaachhes), and I begrudgingly stripped down for a shower.

Now, I have not taken a shower before 10am in ten years, when I used to work.  It was all dark and rainy and cold out, and I would have promised my four-year-old, Eva's, children to the Devil to crawl back into bed. 

So, after checking my phone for the umpteenth time, I proceeded to get ready, (yes, blow dried and straightened my hair, peeps...okay, just the bangs, let's be real, and put on some day make up.  For those of you not in the know (i.e. you dirty whores that wear base in the day and full eye make up with lipstick and gloss to work out) that means cover up, a dusting of powder, mascara and tinted lip balm.

Anyway, I get to the school without a minute to spare, still half expecting the field trip to be cancelled, and signed in, while the office secretaries mocked me.

It was like being sent into battle.  I knew at best what my day was going to entail, and it was going to be 100 times worse than that.  I knew it.  The office secretaries knew it.  Mills' teacher knew it.  But, most of all, all of the Mom's knew it - some of which were on the trip with me two years ago.

I get on the school bus, which, in itself, is it's own fresh hell, and whom do I spy, but my friend, we'll just call her, Wendy of, and she exclaims, "Ohhhh, there is only ONE thing better than being on a school bus, and that is being on a school bus with Johnna Underwood!"  Love her! Here she is!

After we got to Lynd's, I kept turning to bitch to someone, as we were stomping through mud or boarding the steamy, stinky, unbearable, overpopulated school bus and EVERY time it was Mills' teacher behind me.  I would have my mouth literally poised to complain about the wretched field trip and there she always was, just smiling at me like, "Don't you say a fucking word, lazy ass, I've done this 8 million times in all kinds of weather, and today, I am not only responsible for my entire class, but all of you whiny stay at home Moms, as well, because you seriously could not find your asshole with a poker stick, if it weren't for me."

Clearly, I am projecting, and I guess I shouldn't put words in her mouth, but let's just say if I were her, that is what I would be thinking.  So, I can only assume that that is what she was thinking.  Hey, I have a few teachers in my family, and you should hear the way they talk about parents when you are not around.  It is like an UAW union meeting.

 I finally couldn't help myself any longer and I actually told Mills' teacher that I kept wanting to "complain" (I didn't say bitch, y'all, which proves I have some scruples) to her, but I did not have the heart, because I knew that she had been through this a million times and that she was thinking the same thing that I was thinking this morning, but she had to just carry on and try to keep morale high, because she had to get through the day like the rest of us, only she had to actually TALK about the GD gourds and muddy pumpkins for two hours when we returned to the school!

So, we are freezing to death as we wait for the "outdoor tutorial" to begin, which precedes the ass soaking hayride we are about to embark on, and I took this shot of all of the Moms.

Would be a good name for a band - The Wet Mommas.

Okay, seriously?  To be fair, I had a huge sweater on under my coat.  Look how cute everyone looks, except ME.  I look like I could be a character in a Tyler Perry Movie.  Right after this picture, my umbrella broke.  Classic.

Then, we FINALLY get on the hayride, where the driver was smoking a stogie, and the children were singing.  On the outside it sounds really picturesque, but it wasn't.  It was awful.  I trained the camera on the bale of hay, because that is what my eyes were focused on during the entire trip.  It is a trick I learned from my therapist to keep me from having a panic attack.

You see, my husband picked this exact moment to call me like twenty times in a row because he had come home in my absence to pick up Hallie's violin that she had left, and he could not find it.  I mean, SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!!  I could CUT a bitch.  So I call his phone and of course it goes to voicemail, and I hold my phone up to the screaming 2nd graders for oh, about 5 minutes, while they do screeching rendition of Old MacDonald, as the old wagon bounces us around in the the now sleeting rain, and then I follow it up with this text:

"Did you hear that?  That is why I can't call u.  On hayride.  U psychopath."

Finally, the hayride is over and we proceed to pick corn, gourds, and pumpkins, in the pouring rain.  Have I mentioned the rain enough?  And we are heading toward the buses, and the teachers announce that we are to eat as fast as we can on the sauna-like bus (which I need to point out has done wonders for my newly acquired adult acne) and then we can go home.  I turn to my friend, Wendy, and ask, "What next?  Is the bus going to break down on the way home?  How much more are we supposed to endure?"

I quickly devour my balled up peanut butter sandwich as I am standing up and sweating, and then I don't say a word on the way home, and we are rounding the corner of the school, and my friend, Wendy, turns back to me in a panic, and asks me for a bag because the child sitting next to her is about to THROW UP."  Niiiicccceeee.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  I decide right then and there that I am going to attend church this Sunday.  The child kept it together, but Wendy later told us that the child was literally heaving.

So, to wrap this all up I KNOW that it was the right thing to do to go on the Field Trip because if I had not have gone, I would (a) not have all this material for this post, and (b) most importantly, I would have missed THIS:

So, my advice today revolves around you and your child's teacher.  I kind of feel that every parent should operate under the assumption that your child's teacher thinks you are crazy.  It is your job, as a parent, to diffuse this stereotype, if you are smart, because once a child goes to school, you are in collaboration with their teacher to raise them. Therefore, you should treat your relationship as a partnership.  If you don't, you are just missing an opportunity to foster and advocate for your child, and isn't that what parenting is all about anyway?  Why not have an ally in the process?  That's just my take, for what it's worth.

Oh, and also, my friend Wendy uses nipple cream for lip balm ....And you thought I wasn't listening.  You know dis bitch be omnipresent.

Actually, said nipple cream is a bonus piece of gratuitous guidance for today. (It's the lanolin cream the doctor gives you when you are breast feeding, you perves!) I tried it when I got home and it works like a charm!!!!  Apparently, you can use it on scrapes and dry skin patches, too!  Thanks Wendy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Friend Julie

Thaz my gurl.  How cool is this logo?

Two summers ago, I was introduced to my friend, Julie Pipes.  I will be honest, she is like no other person I have ever met.  She is what my mother refers to as "a big personality".  She is beautiful, and quick witted, and fit (she's a yoga instructor, I do not normally comment on my friends' physiques), but most of all she is extremely intelligent.  If I had to name my favorite thing about her, it would be how open she is.

She is an absolute OPEN BOOK.  I admire that so much, but if she is like me at all, I think it is a kind of defense mechanism.  You cannot make fun of me, if I have done it first.  She seems to subscribe to this philosophy, but make no mistake about it, she will make fun of you, too - in the same sentence, usually.

Let me illustrate:

I arrive at the pool with my three girls, the summer I met her.  She is lounging in the sun with a cocktail and a Vanity Fair magazine, and she looks up and declares, "OH MY GOD!  You did not TELL me that you had THREE GIRLS!"  She has a booming voice and after she compliments them each on how cute they are, and as soon as they are out of earshot, under the  water mushroom, she goes into a "This is your future" scenario for me with each one of them.  Now, mind you, she did not do it in front of my girls, her routine was just for the pleasure of all of the adults on her side of the pool. 

"I can see it all now, as clear as day!" she booms as she takes another sip of her DRANK for punctuation.  "Three girls and at least six weddings if you are lucky, that is."

"Well, we are hoping for two old maids and a lesbian,"  I counter, without skipping a beat.  This is my standard response intended to provide enough "shock value punch" to deter the usual "three girls" conversation any further.  I have met my match.  She does not even flinch.  Most people have some visceral response, but she gets my humor right away.

Julie belly laughs that laugh of hers that I so admire, because it just exudes confidence and jocularity.  "Oh, HEYALL NO!" she continues, "Not with those long legs and faces!  You are in for a lifetime of revolving men.  With any luck, they'll just do live in boyfriends for a while before they decide to get married, but if you are realistic, you better start saving up for several marriages and divorces!  Oh, Daddy, he is so MEAN to me.  I just can't live with him anymore.  He's always cutting up my credit cards and he wants me to WORK.  I know you just paid for a destination wedding in the Caymans, but I think I want to just be on my own and figure out who I am for a while."

She is on a roll.  Eva, my three-year-old at the time, runs up to me.  Julie points to her and starts up again, "Mom, I am in love with my 45-year-old professor, and he wants me to move in with him.  Do you mind paying half of our rent for a while.  He is going on sabbatical, and his wretched wife is simply RAPING him with all of the child support she is demanding."  The pool is in hysterics.  That is the day I fell in love with my friend, Julie.

She was so different from everyone else.  She was smart as a whip and not only is she an open book and will offer up any sordid detail about her life, but she is equally interested in yours.  Not in the usual, nosy suburban housewife way, but in the non-judgemental, trying to help you out sort of way.
You have REAL conversations with her.  She is what my friend, Angela, calls a person with "good bullshit."

ooooo.  Daz right.  Get it gurl.

"Whaddaya know?" she always bellows when she sees you.  I used to feel put on the spot because I don't ever know anything or I am unable to think quickly on my feet, but she doesn't care whether you "KNOW" anything or not, she just wants to diffuse any sort of awkward banter, by getting straight to the point.  What she really wants you to do is say "Nothing.  I got Nuthin'" and then she will tell you some hilarious story or tidbit to start the conversation.  I love her for that.  She is the type of person that people gravitate toward because they know they will have a good time in her presence.

Anyway, Julie has a yoga studio in downtown Columbus called V Power Yoga. I love that it is downtown, too, because I am always looking for a departure from mundane suburbaness, when I get out of the house.

I just started going about 6 weeks ago, and I am absolutely addicted to it.  It is what is called "hot yoga" where she turns up the heat to unbearable temperatures and you sweat like a pig while you try to strike impossible poses.  The headstands are my nemesis.  It is so fun, though, to actually try things that you never thought you could do, and then you achieve them, as you become stronger, and your body becomes more flexible.

As I mentioned, the temperature in the room is so hot that you actually drip sweat onto your mat, and have to continually wipe your face, so that you can see the next series of poses Julie is demonstrating.  Her classes are challenging, detoxing and exhilarating.

Right now, there is a Groupon for V Power Yoga.  Go to her website at, and check it out, and then sign up for the Groupon. The savings is HUGE!  It is a great workout with a big personality, whom I adore.  To boot, she is constantly reposting my blog, which I never asked her to do, and is the type of person who is always there to help a sista out.

P.S. Don't wear cotton pants to her class unless you want to look like you peed yourself as you exit.  Guess who pointed that fact out to me?  That's right....Julie.

She doesn't smoke.  But I just love this photo of her.  Sooo Katherine Hepburn.  Before she shook, I mean.

Now, let's get together gurl and go get overserved!!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Realizing Your Greatness

The death of Steve Jobs has caused me to do a lot of soul searching today.  I have seen a lot of press on the subject, and in my research (yes, I do research) I came across his commencement speech to Stanford in 2005, a year after he was diagnosed and treated for Pancreatic cancer.  I have included this speech, in its entirety at the bottom of this blog and it has haunted me for many reasons - all good.  Although, I must admit, that it has set off a virtual firestorm of questions in me about "realizing your greatness".

It is not a new concept to realize your greatness.  There are a thousand books illustrating this point.  What it really takes to realize your greatness is self-confidence, and that is what is so hard to come by.  I think on the spectrum of realizing your greatness is when you surpass this point and you go on to realize your arrogance, and your eventual disillusionment.  These are the pitfalls to avoid, I guess.  I obviously haven't realized my greatness yet, or my blog would have a better masthead (among other things like spell and grammar checking).

There has been much press about Steve Jobs and his perfectionism and mercurial behavior.  In an interview with the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, (who coincidentally is a best friend of Kathy Griffin - Fun Fact), said that Steve Jobs did not start out as a perfectionist, but as Apple grew and began experiencing "growing pains" he became more of a "my way or the highway" type of person.  So, given this equation, how can you realize your greatness, without compromising your values as a person?  Just because you have one idea, doesn't mean that every idea you have is great, right?  So, how does one decipher what is great and what is not?  Perhaps the response to an idea warrants its greatness, then.

In that commencement speech to Stanford graduates in 2005, Jobs famously said, "Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."  But, what if that inner voice is delusional or wrong?  What if you are way off base and yet you have a huge following? (read: Hitler or Dick Cheney.)

How about realizing your crazy?  I would say that there is a trend toward flying your freak flag, at least in the general media right now, where ridiculousity (a new word I am trying to get into Websters, along with "natch", natch.) is celebrated.  I mean, what is the value of Snooki, really? Yet she has just launched her own line of sunglasses (Snookishades, if you are interested).  I guess she could have a book deal with a major publisher. Oh, that's right A Shore Thing, just came out.  Oh, and let's not forget The Rules According to JWOWW: Shore-Tested Secrets on Landing a Mint Guy, Staying Fresh to Death, and Kicking the Competition to the Curb.  (Or you could just ignore all this life lesson bullshit and be on a reality show in which you showcase what a dirty whore you are and then write books about said dirty whore behavior and set yourself up for life, I guess.)

ANYWAY, I, myself, find it very stressful to be a visionary.  Especially when you have a mound of laundry everyday, not to mention all my "stories" I have to keep up with.  My everyday life definitely hinders MY greatness, but I have been able to persevere as I sit right now in my basement, watch the Today Show, fire off texts and emails to my friends and associates (aka mothers of my childrens' friends), fold laundry, play on my daughter's ITouch with her, and simultaneously pontificate to all of you.   I'd like to see Jobs do THAT, or Snooki, for that matter.

Seriously, you have to have a ton of self-confidence, even if you ARE great, to realize your dreams, especially if your dreams involve the acceptance of others in order to be successful.  That is half of the battle, that no one ever talks about.  Yes, Steve Jobs had an exceptional brain.  It takes a very special person and set of intellectual properties to change the way people live their lives.  But, it takes an extra special person to actually possess the confidence and the gumption, against opposition, to bring those ideas to the forefront and market them to the general public.

For instance, and I realize that I am drawing parallels between Steve Jobs and I, which puts me on the "delusional" part of the spectrum I mentioned above, but if I had not received positive feedback about this blog, I would probably not continue to do it.  I could not imagine finally mustering the courage to go after my dream as a writer and everyone telling me that I suck at it, and then continuing to do it.

Although, I was the worst cheerleader in the universe,  (If you are the chosen as the alternate to cheer for JV girls soccer, when you are a SENIOR, then you SUCK.) and I pursued that train wreck for three years.  Seriously, do your children a favor, if they cannot do a back handspring or get any air when they attempt a jump, and they still want to be a cheerleader - for the love of GOD, steer them in another direction.  But, then again, adversity teaches life lessons, and pursuing a dream, even an unrealistic one, builds character. So, is success in pursuance?

I distinctly remember practicing herkeys and the like, by jumping off of our third step leading to our back patio (otherwise my feet would never have left the ground), and my Dad pulling me aside to tell me that he was really proud of the way I was going after a goal, and practicing for it, all on my own.  Why did my unrealistic dream, and the pursuit of that dream, make him proud?  Because I was going for something, that is why.  You don't ever achieve if you don't ever try.

Which begs another question, I guess, when do you stop chasing a dream? I think Steve Jobs would say "Never".  There are many failed small businesses that were a great idea, but it was just bad timing, or poor management that did them in.  But, then how do you decipher between a bad idea that fails, and a good idea that fails under the circumstances?  I guess there are many elements to "realizing your greatness" rather than just believing in yourself.  The point of it all, is that you will never be successful if you don't believe in yourself, whether you face adversity, or insecurity or whatever.  

"... you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. "

Steve Jobs was an innovator because he made the everyday things we use better.  You do not have to reinvent the wheel to be successful, you have to love what you do, and have the confidence to follow your dreams, as well.  I think it is important to define "success" here, as well.

To me, success lies in the building of a dream, really.  One of my favorite parts of Jobs' speech is as follows:

"Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

I find Jobs' commencement speech so inspiring now, but I feel sure that if he had been the keynote speaker at the good ol' University of Kentucky in 1992, I would have yawned and checked my watch to see how long I had until the next kegger started.  What a gift that speech was.  I know that it is all over the internet right now, but I am compelled to include it in this post because I cannot stop thinking about it.

It has been a long time since someone has passed away, that I do not personally know, that I feel a huge loss for.  I not only feel for his family, but I cannot help but feel for our generation, as well.  In one news story, he was hailed as "the Edison of our generation," but to me, I think he was much more than that.

According to that speech, which I can only assume he wrote, he is also a very compassionate person who learns from his mistakes.  It takes a very big person to publicly acknowledge that he was fired from his own company, and an even bigger person, to accept his role in that decision.  He was what psychologists might call, "fully actualized", which (if you remember anything from Psych 101) is a term used to describe someone whose life is in balance, basically -  personally, professionally, spiritually, and philosophically.
There are a lot of so called "successful businessmen" in the World today, but very few of them were true visionaries, who also had the capability to look inward at themselves when they made mistakes, and learn from them.

I guess Time magazine literally stopped it's presses (an apparent unprecedented event) to put Jobs on the cover and feature a synopsized version of his authorized biography by Walter Isaacson, that is pending.  It's publish date has been pushed up to late October and pre orders have be soaring.

Until this book comes out, you may want to check out Chasing Daylight:  How my forthcoming death transformed my life.  It is one of the most moving autobiographies I have ever read, detailing the heartbreaking decline in health, following a brain tumor diagnosis of KPMG's CEO, Eugene O'Kelley.  My husband turned me on to it, and I have passed it on to many of my friends, and now I want to share it with you.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Oh, and realize your greatness.  "Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." - Steve Jobs

Rest in Peace.  Your impact and our loss are immense.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Arty Hallie

I have been thinking a lot about the art of manipulation because I have been blatantly confronted with it lately, and I have come to a couple of conclusions. 

First of all manipulation is at the heart of every sales transaction.  For instance, I was recently at one of my favorite stores, Cheesecake Boutique, when I went in looking for something to go with this weird bedazzled shrug/bathing suit top I found at T.J. Maxx. (In my defense, it was Alice + Olivia, one of my favorite brands, that is too expensive for me, so I snatched it up, and then realized that it would only be appropriate fort a twelve-year-old runaway prostitute who appreciates high fashion.)  Well,  I ended up leaving with three pieces (albeit, three integral staples for my wardrobe) that in no way, shape or form went with my underage hooker bathing suit top.
Couldn't even sell it on ebay.  Any takers?  Ask your kids.

This was all due to the salesperson who played upon my insecurities by becoming my best friend while I was trying on clothes, and then dropping me like a hot potato when I told her that I was not sure if I was going to buy any of it.  Here is how the conversation went at the end.

I was trying on the second of the two Michael Stars (another fav overpriced brand I love!  Ooooo, but oh so soft and pajama-like.) blue tops that she had brought to me.

"Oh, I don't know.  I think I like this one is more ME."  I was clearly enjoying her effusive attention.

"Is this a decision moment?" She inquired.

"Oh, I don't know.  I should really probably edit, you know?" I responded.

"Well, do what you want."  She turned abruptly around, as I heard the bell of the door and greetings from the other employee in the background.

You must realize that up until that point, I thought she had adopted me, and was my new "Columbus Mommy" and then, just like any Foster parent who has received their last check from Social Services, she quit me like a bad habit, and moved on to her new foster kids that promised the one thing I could not provide her with - future income -  that had just entered the boutique.

I stood there in the dressing room half naked, as I waited for her to return and say something reassuring to me about how I needed all of the things she had so lovingly provided me with, and how to justify each of these extravagances, and all I heard were the electronic bells that sounded off when a customer entered or exited the store.  After at least 10 minutes of this exercise in nothingness, I realized that she was not coming back, so I put my clothes back on (which for some reason are always sweatpants), scooped up the clothes she had picked out for me, and (wait for it) actually tapped said salesperson on the shoulder and told her that I was, in fact, going to BUY all of the things that she had recommended I buy, (I know, CRINGE) and then she shrugged me off and said smally, "Oh, good," and then turned her back to me, again. 

I am pretty sure that I had a similar interaction at my locker in seventh grade once.  It was awful.  To add insult to injury, I actually purchased each of the three items (which ARE awesome, and I have worn a ton) while I kept my eyes on her during the entire transaction.  She neither acknowledged me nor thanked me, as I walked past her and exited the store.

Whenever I look at the clothes I purchased that day, I get an iron-like taste in my mouth, that I can only describe as bitterness (think aspirin residue).  You see, I was manipulated, and at the time, I KNEW that I was being manipulated on some level, but I lent myself over to it, because I wanted this woman's approval.

I am not so insecure that I would have purchased the items if I did not like them or wanted them.  But, I think I would have been more pensive and less desperate about the purchase, had she not run her game on me.

I have come to realize that there are two types of people in this world - people who manipulate and those who are manipulated.  I am clearly one who is easily manipulated.  The irony of this, is that my former career was in sales.  To be good in sales, is to be skilled in the art of manipulation.  If I were truly honest with myself, I was only good at selling things that basically sold themselves.  Whenever I had a new drug I was to push in pharmaceutical sales, or was trying to sell a product in advertising sales that I did not believe in, I was a total failure.  Therefore, I usually am the type of person who does not buy something that I do not want, and I especially do not buy from someone that I do not like, even if I am interested in their product.

But this was a new situation for me, for I was buying something I wanted from someone that I liked, and that I thought was genuinely invested in my happiness, and then just as I wavered on an item, even though I had committed to buying the other items, she dumped me as if I had offended her, and then I bought the items anyway.

I'll be honest, I love that store and every time I have entered it empty handed, I have exited it holding one of their cute polka dotted bags filled with polka-dotted tissue paper.  I have gotten some of my favorite pieces I own from that store, so I am not trying to sabotage them, or defame them in any way, I am just siting an example of manipulation that has been haunting me, along with some others that have revealed themselves recently.

Just because I am not a manipulator does NOT mean that I do not have my issues.  MY forte just happens to be denial.  I am simply highlighting yet another nonsense conversation that has been going on in my head for your pleasure.

Another hilarious instance of manipulation and sales, involved my eldest daughter, Hallie.  If you read this blog, you are familiar with my artsy, Shake It Up, sparkly black Converse boot lovin' Hallie.  So, anyway, we were driving somewhere recently, and she has taken to sitting in the front seat with me, (which I love because I do not feel like I am drivin' Miss Daisy around as much) and a radio commercial came on that advertised something about an audition for Disney or something.  They then asked us to text "EVENT" to a number, and all of the sudden Hallie was begging me for my phone.  I was involved in dropping someone off or picking them up or going through a drive thru or something, and the next thing I know, I have this overly perky teenager in my ear, confirming Hallie's audition for Saturday at 3pm.

Being the star-fucking Momager that I am, I committed hard and fast to what my gut was telling me was a total scam, all the while setting my 10-year-old up for a major disappointment.  I am kidding, of course.  I confirmed with Brianna on the phone that the audition "process" (red flag - totally unrelated video below, but had to share) would only take an hour and a half, and that she would, in fact, have an audition, where she is taped, and then Hallie would have an interview with an agent.

Why not?  Right?  It was free, up until this point, and maybe she would learn a little about how creepy child stars and Hollywood are, in spite of herself.  And then, there was that very BIG chance, of course, that they would whisk her away, on the spot, in the private Disney jet, to Orlando, where she would immediately be given her own sitcom and fashion line at Target.

I prepped Hallie, by making her do her routine she had just learned from "Mr. Eric" in Hip Hop class for the 60 hours before the audition, natch.  Patsy Ramsey had nothin' on me, God rest her soul.  Seriously, my stipulations for the audition were (1) if it looked like a huge cluster and a four hour ordeal,  or (2) if any money had to leave my account before she could have her interview or audition - we were OUT.  Hallie agreed.

"Let's just have an adventure," I told her, "and the rest will be Disney history, of course!" Hallie laughed, but Brad thought I was playing with fire.

So, we arrive at the Westin hotel, which at least was not a Motel 6, and we check in.  I inform the person at the front desk who directed us to the conference floor upstairs to "remember this face because the next time you see it, it is going to be on a billboard."

We go upstairs and luckily this thing was extremely organized and creepy from the getgo.  Everyone was all headphones and dark suits and hair product, and I had the gag reflex right away.  Hallie's colored bands on her braces were fully displayed.  She could not have been happier.  We were ushered into this room after no less than three people referred to us as "Hailey" and "Johanna".  I decided right then and there that Hailey was to be her "stage name".

Next came the pitch.  Apparently, we had signed on to audition, not for Hallie's favorite show, "Shake it Up" but for "The Event," which is a sort of conference for kids (who have made the cut, that is)  in Disney World the week after July 4th,  that is jam packed with "events" that include auditions, talent contests, coaching sessions, and Hallie's favorite thing on Earth - DANCE PARTIES.

There was an agent, based out of Cleveland, (I know, oxymoron) who was about my age, but had all of the style elements of a teenager.  Hair sticking up in the front, hip clothes.  He spoke for about 20 minutes about how he needed a commitment, not only from the kids, but the parents, if our children were given a callback, and were chosen for The Event.

We were shown a rather extensive video highlighting each of the categories mentioned above, and then actual footage of past Events, in which cash prizes and awards are given out for the most talented.  What made the greatest impact on me in the video was the highlight reel of children who were accepting cash awards (those big cardboard checks that miff me) as they broke down and thanked their parents for their sacrifices so that they could achieve their dreams.  At one point, the host (a well known adult male Disney sitcom star,) actually became overwhelmed with emotion, himself, and had to "take a minute".

As I am thinking, "what a bunch of horseshit,"  Hallie turns to me with her big blue eyes, and says, "Mom, promise me that if I make the cut, you will let me go to Disney World."

I had already perused the brochure they they had provided us with, and found the "Commitment Page"  which I turned to and showed Hallie that the minimum amount they were asking us to commit to was just under $2000, for two events.  The biggest commitment you could make was $10,000, where you were coached by an actual Disney star, albeit one that is now addicted to heroin, and not currently working.

You see, The Event is responsible for the career of a handful of child stars.  They hold "auditions" in cities all over the country, recruiting for the talent agents and managers that attend The Event in July.  That is the part that the children in the seminar hear. Apparently, the Cleveland agent (Bitch, Palleeaazz) does the Event so that talent agents and managers in Hollywood do not have to travel around the country, when he refers Midwestern talent to them.  I am imagining, he gets quite the cut from the Event, as well, from the thousands of children that don't get a cardboard check or a contract.

I explain to Hallie that if she is the huge discovery that they keep talking about, that they will PAY her way to Orlando, not the other way around.  The only commitment I agreed to make before we even got there was to let her interview and audition, and let her wear whatever she wanted.  I explained to her, again, that we were there for the experience, and nothing else.

So, we went to the interview first, where we were asked a few questions regarding Hallie's fledgling entertainment career, by a young woman who was a dead ringer for Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy).

"So, Hailey, what makes you think that you have what it takes to be successful at The Event?"

Hallie later said that she used the same answer that she used when campaigning for Student Council.  She said that she is very responsible, detail oriented, and achievement driven.  I was immediately surprised at how grown up she suddenly seemed.

"Now, let's see, " Sandra continued as she adjusted her "hipster girl" glasses to focus on Hallie's talents she had written down.  So, you play the guitar, and the violin, and you dance, and you like acting, correct?

Hallie nodded, "Yes."

"So, how long have you been dancing?"  You need to understand there was a room full of Jon Benet's running around with their hair stretched tightly on their heads, topped off with glitter hairspray.  It was unnerving.

Without blinking an eye, Hallie responded, "Um, four weeks."  I almost burst out laughing.  Sandra adjusted her glasses on her nose.

"So, which would you want to do the most in life?"  She is Hallie's straight man at this point.  I knew what was coming.

"Dance.  Definitely Dance.  Hip Hop, specifically."

I was standing in the background,with my arms folded, as if I were her bodyguard, when Sandra turned turned her sights on me and said, "And Mom, what makes YOU think that Hailey has what it takes to be successful at The Event?"

"Um, It's HALLIE," I began.

"Oh, I am so sorry.  HALLIE.  Here let me make a note.  Ahem.  What makes you think HALLIE would be successful and should be chosen for The Event?"
"Her name."  I deadpanned.  Hallie got it and started giggling.  Sandra just stared at me and wasn't processing.  "Um, sorry.... I believe that Hallie can be successful at whatever she sets her mind to."  Hallie's eyes were trained on me now.  I needed to straighten up.  "She is definitely an over acheiver."  Read:  But I'm still not gonna shell out ONE PENNY for this bullshit, if that's what you think. I'm still pissed that you wouldn't validate my parking.

Sandra thanked us for our time, and told us to email her the next day between 3:00 and 4:00, to see if we were getting a callback.  Call me crazy, but I have always heard that a callback involved the person with the job, calling the prospective job applicant, not the other way around.  I told Hallie later that we were not going to email, because I was sure that Hallie had "it" that they kept referring to.  "It" being a valid credit card.

Hallie and I, then, proceeded to the videotaped audition that was broadcast on the gigantic big screen at the front of the room.  They were given a three line script for some product for a commercial.  She was told to smile and look into the camera by the washed up actor from some show on the Disney Channel that neither, Hallie nor I, recognized. I am convinced, to this day, that he was hyped up on a cocktail of  Adderol and Redbull.  NO one has that much energy naturally.

Hallie reads the script in ernest, careful to look up into the camera every third word, and then at the end, she remembered Creepy Von Creepsburg's instruction to smile, and she flashed her neon yellow and hot pink braces at them.

That, alone, made the trip worth it, to me.  I watched her do this on the big screen, and it just filled me with love for her.  I had made a memory with her, that she later recanted in her letter to the Tooth Fairy, as one of her favorite moments of the year.

But, make no mistake.  I am one of the few fortunate ones.  More than half of the people, adults and children, alike, clearly did not have the money to pay for The Event.  My guess is that they did not have the education, either, to realize that for the most part, The Event, was a huge money-making scam, that preys on the dreams of children, and the parents who love them and want to give them opportunities, like we all do.  It is so easy to tug on the heartstrings of a parent who wants to please their child, and maybe has delusions that they will be a big star one day.  There are umpteen (my Mother's vocabulary, again) reality shows with overzealous parents and starstruck children on the Fall TV schedule, devoted to illustrating my point. 

Let me be clear, though, I am not any better than these people, and I obviously have my own issues with being persuaded to do one thing or another.  I also believe that it is important to not go through life paranoid, and operating under the under the assumption that everyone is trying to get something from you.  (Although, I think that people from New York have adopted this behavioral pattern.)

I guess, as with anything in life, it is valuable to have a balance between the two.  For instance, I should have gathered up my clothes that were in a puddle at my feet in the dressing room and walked out of the store, just based on the principle that I do not buy things from people that I do not like, but I didn't. 

I guess my recommendation to you today is to open your eyes to manipulation.  It is everywhere.  You may want to ask yourself if you are a manipulator or the manipulated, as well.  I firmly believe that they are two distinctive personalities.  You either are a person who anticipates responses based on stimuli you provide, or you are not.  It is as simple as that.

The second, more positive, recommendation is to do something with your child that they really want to do, even though you think it is complete horseshit.  It is so freeing and it is completely gratifying to see them so happy.

I, personally, took Hallie to that audition because it is something that I would have LOVED to have done when I was little, and also, something that my parents' would have shut down faster than I could have said the words "THE EVENT".

I can imagine my Dad saying, "Listen, this is the REAL WORLD, not some FANTASY LAND that you and your friends have dreamed up.  There is no MAGIC in Louisville, Kentucky.  There is just SCHOOL and WORK and if you are lucky, SOFTBALL, and then there is JAIL, for people who don't wanna follow society's rules.  (Jail was always an important part of the equation in all of my Dad's lectures.)

My parents obviously aren't all that bad, though, especially in the "dreams" department.  My Mom and I were talking on the phone just last night and she told me that she just gotten a "retirement pay out" from the company where she worked for the majority of her career.  She described it as the "other half" of the her total retirement.  When I inquired as to what she did with the first half, she said, "I took it out to send you to college."

There was an uncomfortable guilty silence on my part, because I am a parent now, and I get it, and then she added, "You know, so you could go to school and go on later to blog on the internet."