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Nurse Mom

It has been well publicized that having children will greatly increase your ability to love and empathize, as well as feel unbridled joy.  Also true: the sleeplessness, decreased standards of personal hygiene and the inability to get out the door in under 25 minutes ever again.

But in addition to new emotional states, there are also many jobs that you must master as a parent that are not so clearly advertised.

Going Home Without Phoning Home

My birthplace is New York City, which might seem a very anonymous place. Yet, after moving away, the first time I “snuck” back to my hometown — without telling my family — I was convinced I would get caught. I worried both in California, where I live now, and after my arrival in Manhattan, that my mommy or daddy or perhaps one brother or another or even my high school prom date might catch me walking down Amsterdam Avenue and be FURIOUS that I hadn’t called them.

Mommy’s Gone Wild

I once believed a college dorm might be the loudest place I would ever try to sleep.   Then I had children.  And after having three, almost all at once, I didn’t sleep in my own home for about five years.  But now my two youngest are age four and I am entering “the platinum years of parenting.”  Aka the post-breastfeeding/pre-driving ages of 5 -10 years old, where as a mom I get to redefine myself – as a power sleeper.  Perhaps even while on the occasional weekend away from home where the best sleep can happen, now that my babies are old enough to be trusted with a Grandparent  (alongside a constant rotation of babysitters I pay double over a weekend to really watch them).

So how thrilled was I to get an invite to a 40th birthday with 8 other couples, sans their kids and mine, in a pretty city none of us live in to stay in a rented McMansion.  Ah, to dream of three long days of eating more than just what is left on the kitchen counter.  And the chance to sleep past 6:45am.

The Joys of  Smartphone Hacking

Waking up to a flood of emails is never a good sign. I immediately fear that I’ve missed my start time at work and hundreds of people are sitting around cursing me.

But when my Smartphone is also flashing an enormous number of texts and missed calls, I brace myself further; as I have learned the hard way that this usually means someone I love is in trouble.  Or worse.  So when I recently woke to 27 phone messages, 58 texts and 70 emails, I got down on the floor in panic. I scrolled through the phone numbers first, searching for my mothers – knowing she would give it to me straight.

Don’t order the Reindeer

On my first night in Alaska I noticed my in-room dining menu offered “Reindeer Sausage” for breakfast. I actually winced reading this. I am sure the Reindeer population probably needs to be controlled and that Reindeer-meat distributers deserve to make money like all the other slaughtering industries, but as an ignorant New Yorker who grew up kind of believing that meat was “made” inside a butcher shop – I was not going to be trying any of those Vixen’s legs.

Or so I thought until one sunny evening in Anchorage when I finished work at 11pm and the sky was still bright. I was dreaming of scrambled eggs. When my food server asked for my meat preference to go along with the eggs, “Reindeer sausage” just came off my tongue as if I had been eating it all my life.

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After recent articles in The New Yorker, The Week and posts in every twentysomething’s blog about Facebook being too intrusive and totally outdated, I now have enough confidence to close down my page.

I don’t maintain a regular Facebook page, just a fan page, so maybe I’m missing the point of Mark Zuckerberg’s epic empire because I don’t get to see all the good news about people I’ve lost touch with. Even if I did, I’m still not sure the chance for a midnight snack of happy hyperbole would be a good enough reason to check in before going to bed.

I’m usually the only one who posts on my fan page; people really only talk about me if they “Like” me. In and of itself, this screams that something must be wrong with me and every other artist who needs a page on the Internet to keep a running count of people willing to call themselves “followers.”

Flying With Toddlers: A Survival Guide

I’m a mom who travels for work and likes to take her family with her. Flying with three kids under the age of five is the single hardest part of my job.

Getting through airport security with a stroller, a car seat, a diaper bag, my own gear and a squirmy toddler may be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The second hardest thing is taking that toddler onto an airplane for several hours where both passengers and airline employees act like my kid is ruining their lives.

After more trial and error than one woman and her therapist should ever have to bear, I’ve learned that flying with a young family is like a team sport- winning is all about the preplan! Don’t spend hours worrying about how you will manage it. Instead, spend hours buying, borrowing and then packing the following:

Are Band-Aids a Gateway Drug?

My kids will do anything for a band-aid. Including lie or steal. By three years old each of my children have already learned to stick out a lower lip, squint their eyes as if about to cry and whimper about an “ow-ie,” while they do a side-step towards the bathroom medicine chest. I swear my five year old can even tilt his head towards the “band-aid closet” and intimate to me, “All this behavior will stop if you just GIVE ME THE BAND-AID.”

Once near the five boxes of Band-Aids we keep in the bathroom (plain, princess, animal, cartoon of the month and superhero) sometimes they point to an actual abrasion and at others they will point to an imaginary one. This routine (which is way less cute than it sounds) can escalate to loud and whiny at lightening speed if this ask is not met with a sticky plastic strip. Which is doubly hard to handle in an enclosed bathroom.

But if I concede to the band-aid request, the response is better than Christmas morning. The joy and elation that comes over them is kind of unexplainable.

Recession Tips From a Sometimes Unemployed Actor

I began auditioning for acting jobs at the ripe old age of twelve. Thirty years later, including a fifteen-year run on television, I sometimes just get offers for work. But at others I am still required to run, Pell Mell around Los Angeles or New York, interviewing for film and TV roles.

I’ve put in much more than the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell suggests would make you an expert in any field – including the field of job interviewing – so perhaps my fellow underemployed Americans would appreciate a professional actor’s (read: continual interviewee’s) tips about keeping your confidence intact when hustling for work, as auditions are tougher than you might think.

An audition is actually the delivery of a full performance – without the benefit of props, costume, professional hair styling or make up. Or pay. It also must be delivered while balancing ten pages of script and seeming like your not just pretending while you are performing alongside someone who is just pretending as they just a hired “reader.” All this is done in front of a firing squad of hiring types who openly judge me as I pour my heart out with someone else’s words – which could easily crush your confidence.

Yet, that is not the spirit crushing part of my job interview. That’s just the “art” part.

Jet Blue-in’ It

What exactly are the airlines doing to their flight staff?

Multiple theories abound about why stewardesses have replaced nuns in Catholic schools from the 1970’s as the forbidding people standing over you when you just want to go to the bathroom. The general attitude of the flying staff has gotten markedly and consistently harsher over the past decade, seemingly in direct relationship to their jobs becoming more militant. We’ve heard about the pay cuts, the longer hours, the shorter turnarounds for pilots and crew members. Which is enough to ruin morale for any employee.

Take Steven Slater, JetBlue steward who last year went on a cursing tirade over the loudspeaker and disembarked before the passengers by inflating the emergency slide and storming out of his twenty year career, on his backside, with a couple of beers from the flight deck in hand. Slater immediately came to my mind when I read about last week’s JetBlue pilot who had to be restrained by his own first officer and bolted outside the cockpit door after he began screaming about a bomb on the plane he was flying. Flight attendants and passengers had to hold him down while a passenger who happened to be a pilot made an emergency landing in Texas.

Why you have a crush on Jeremy Lin

I hadn’t watched a basketball game since Patrick Ewing was kicking butt up and down a New York court. And even then, I was really only watching to see Pat Riley guide all the giant men under his watchful eye in the mid-’90s because he wore an Italian suit fabulously and I wanted him to pick me out the crowd and make me his leading lady.

Twenty years later, I’m watching Knicks games again for the newest star on the hardwood floor because, like the rest of America (and probably most of Asia), I’m totally charmed by Jeremy Lin’s story.

Why does so much of the world have a crush on Lin? Setting aside the whole “Asian thing” for a minute, here’re the top three reasons:

Holiday Cheer

There is nothing like starting off the holiday season with a little mace-to-the-face. Which was the case for one highly unsatisfied customer already this year. I remember being taught something in school, about the day after Thanksgiving being called “Black Friday” because it is the day that many merchant’s annual sales tallies go from “in the black” to “in the red”. However, because of two other highly unsatisfied and also injured customers, who were shot when they came under gunfire on this day while attempting to purchase goods – I think Black Friday now should be called “Stay-the-Hell-Home-Friday.”

Upon hearing news of these attacks, I kept imagining someone from another culture on planet earth, that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanza wondering what those desperate people must have been shopping for to subject themselves to such danger. Food? Clean water? Blankets? Medicine?

“No. Flat screen TV’s. DVD players. And children’s plastic toys.”

Could the Kardashian Divorce be the answer to our Recession?

The Kardashian-Humphries wedding is reported to have netted $17.9 million. I don’t think that even includes the 2 million dollar ring (from the guy who was allegedly “mooching off of Kim”) that kick-started this entire circus between a man, a woman, a cable TV outlet and every tabloid magazine on earth.

Nor does that purse include the 10 million in gifts given to America’s sweetheart/sex-tape graduate on her big dress up day. Doesn’t it make you wonder what might happen to all of the gear Kim took home as wedding gifts now that the inevitable has come?

I’m not even talking about the thousand dollar plates, ashtrays, and solid gold napkin holders given to her and what’s his name by their guests. Clearly those love tokens should be returned to the gift givers…which might just give a little jolt to our economy as they then sell them on e-bay one at a time.

The Etiquette of Blogging

There is nothing more exciting than creating a pretty new blog as a forum for discussion about something you’ve worked hard on and seeing strangers have comments for you. It feels flattering that people you don’t know have taken the time to read your thoughts and now want to dialogue about it.

Right up until you read these comments. Because since they are made anonymously, blogging has become a vehicle for all those devoid of social skills – probably because they have no friends to discuss their opinion of art, law or blue jeans with – to say torturous things that are generally reserved for people fighting in armed combat.

“I hope the actress Diane Farr dies” was the note I got from one keen follower of Grey’s Anatomy because she didn’t like my story line in a particular episode.

I, too, yearn for a little eye-for-an-eye retaliation when I feel truly incensed by something.  But leaving my children motherless because Meredith didn’t get enough screen time with Derek might be a little much, no?

Spreading hatred can’t really be justified simply because you can say it in 150 characters or less. Like the commentator on the blog for my newest book – who admits he never read my book – but still took the time to write, “It’s clear your husband married you because as a white woman you are a status symbol for him and he needs this.”

The Luck of a 20-carat Engagement Ring

Kim Kardashian is keeping me up at night.  I’m not at all sure what this woman is famous for, other than having a beautiful face and ass that America got familiar with via her sex tape, while her and her sisters were also filming a reality show.  And any triumph that I might have felt that a woman with olive skin and black hair who is larger than a size eight surpassed being known for sex alone, was squandered when Kardashian became engaged this week and the circus over her “score” began.

That would be for the 20.5-carat engagement ring given to her by Kris Humphries, a forward for the New Jersey Nets. Although Kim has said she was completely “shocked” by this, Kim has also been widely quoted saying, “I knew I wanted it to be big!”

“Because You Are a Blabbermouth!”

Amtrak pulled over one of its trains this week to allow the police on board to remove and arrest a “loud cell phone talker” – charging the woman with disorderly conduct.  This particular cellular-sloth had been on her handheld non-stop, over a sixteen-hour journey from Oakland, California to Salem, Oregon – in the “Quiet Car.”

The Quiet Car would be the train car with large signs saying “No Cell Phones Allowed” but it seems that this chatty passenger had such a sense of self that she believed these signs did not apply to her. She also felt entitled to become belligerent when the “Lord of the Flies” effect took over and another passenger playing the part of Piggy confronted her about her volume.  Not at all tired post her multi-hour talking spree, this big mouth still had enough energy to become aggressive with the other passengers, which is when the train was stopped and the police were called in.

Get That Nut Away From My Child!

Get That Nut Away From My Child!

I was feeding my kids pistachio nuts right out of my mouth when my 2-year-old daughter Sawyer starting coughing. She coughed a lot, but then settled down. So we piled in our minivan to go have Christmas lunch with my in-laws. Sawyer coughed more en route and eventually threw up. We pulled over, cleaned her up and she was happy again. With no other signs of sickness, it seemed the excess coughing must have caused her to vomit.

Giving up the Parental Gear This Holiday Season

Giving up the Parental Gear This Holiday Season

My favorite Christmas gift as a soon-to-be-mom was a Hooter Hider — a piece of fabric with a strap attached to hang it over your neck. This clever garment leaves both hands free so a mother can adjust a baby, drink water and maintain her privacy while simultaneously breastfeeding. Yes, this expensive excuse for a blanket was stylish, but mostly it seemed like a mantra for the kind-o-momma I wanted to be: one who had all the most-updated, hip, compact and “right” gear, making me the most equipped and chic mommy at the playground.

Then I actually had a baby and the sound of his cries would cause me to throw myself down exactly where I heard him and try to stop that heart-crushing noise as fast as possible with my food. And hiding anything was not even a thought.

Why I Hate Myself for Going to Starbucks

Why I Hate Myself for Going to Starbucks

There is a voice in my head that tells me everyday not to pay three dollars for a cup of tea.  It’s not even coffee!  And perhaps not even real tea.

The “non-fat, chai tea latte, with no water” that I order every day from Starbucks has no tea bag in evidence. Rather, a barista (which is Italian for college educated yet temporarily lost and hating oneself for pouring yuppie drinks) pours my tea into a paper cup from a box.  No leaves, no steeping, no proof of tea at all.  And for this “beverage” I pay 400 times its cost.  And I do it daily.

Death of a Lone Star and American Television

The Death of a Lone Star and American Television

I feel like I committed television manslaughter by not watching Lone Star in time.  Yes I put this critically acclaimed new Fox drama on my DVR—to watch it on my schedule—but we viewers who record are not calculated in overnight ratings.  When Lonestar was made the first cancellation of the 2010 TV schedule, immediately after it’s second viewing due to low ratings, I began to mourn it.

And not just because I missed the show. (I still have the two episodes on my DVR and keep wondering if the network has the power to suck it off my list of recorded shows?) Rather I was saddened because Lonestar is the type of show I dream of as both an actress and a writer.  It was not a formulaic procedural built around a legal, medical or police franchise—where every episode utilizes the same framework of “good guy comes to our hero with a problem, that he or she can solve in 42 minutes, yet still leaves us to wonder if the world might end at every commercial break.”