Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beware Of Battle Cats

While my mom is in the hospital I have brought her cat to my house so she won't be alone. I'm beginning to think she may have been just fine living the solo life given how she's been reacting to my household.

As I sit here writing, there are puncture wounds on my wrist throbbing away. These wounds stemmed from a ridiculously ill-thought out attempt to pet this cat while she was hiding in the back of my closet.

My mom has had Ginger for about seven years. As a frequent visitor to her house I have seen this cat approximately six times over nearly a decade. She either hides under furniture or a quilt on a bed practically 24 hours a day. Miss Personality she is not. On the other hand, my cat, Sashi, a Maine Coon cat mix, is the life of the party. Given the opportunity to put a lampshade on his head and swing from a chandelier, I think he would. These two do not see eye to eye on any level and seem to be keeping a safe distance from one another.

When my son Ben got into bed last night he was startled to hear some growling and hissing coming from under his bed. Ginger eventually came out, and Ben, animal lover that he is, began to pet her. She acquiesced to the attention, but growled and hissed at him the entire time.

In some ways she's a low maintenance pet - I leave food and water out, and miraculously in the morning it's gone. It's like living with Vampira the cat.

I'm happy to do what I can to help out my mom while she is recovering, but I think from now on Ginger and I are going to have a distant, yet cordial relationship. I don't think my limbs and digits are up for anything closer.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Family First Is Much More Than a Campaign Slogan

The reason I haven't posted all week is that my mom has been seriously ill in the hospital. Life as we know it stops when something like this happens.

At 84-years-old it's hard to know how this will all play out, but I am trying to remain hopeful and positive.

Rather than focus on what's wrong and specifics of her illness, which feels inappropriate, I just wanted to write about who this woman I call mom is.

My mom, Louise, is a woman of that "Greatest Generation," you know, those folks who unlike us, didn't live beyond their means, saved, did the right thing without having to be reminded to, and lived good, honest, hard-working lives.

She was one of the very first single, working mothers I ever knew of. After my father left when I was about seven, she went back to teaching to support us. She didn't get a lot of financial help from him and on her modest teacher's salary supported my brother, Mark and I.

My brother and I had a tearful conversation this morning about who she is and what we learned from her and how that has impacted who we are.

I was telling him, and he agreed, that she is one of the least judgemental parents anyone could ever have. She's seen me go through a divorce, the ups and downs of raising three kids and never once has she ever second guessed or criticized me. She's just always told me how great a mother I am and how proud she is of me. Not too many people get that.

It's easy sometimes as we go through life to focus on what we didn't get, and all children can make a long list of those deficits, my children included I'm sure. But, when it dawns on you that this person won't always be there and that reality sets in, you start to realize that none of that matters, and what you got was what you needed.

It speaks volumes to the kind of person she is that her grandchildren have all shown up - my daughter all the way from California, and two sons from various New England locales, to support and give a hug to their Ama. She supports my oldest son in recovery, my younger son's DJ'ing career, my daughter's burgeoning career in finance, and she's never been anything but supportive of my decision to be a writer. She is also the kind of woman who even her ex-son-in-law visits in the hospital.

At 84, until a few months ago, my mom was going to yoga classes and became a Reiki Master at 80. She took my brother and I to be initiated into Transcendental Meditation when we were teens, and bought me lots of yarn, fabric, paints and books to support my interest in arts, crafts and writing. She was a different mom in many ways, and it's because of that difference I had the courage to take a leap and pick a career that may feed my soul but not always my bank account.

No one's childhood is perfect or idyllic. I actually believe some of those lacks and struggles are an important part of the people we become. The trick I think is to not get so mired down in those lacks that you fail to see the pluses, and for me those far outweigh the minuses.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Britney's Back And I'm So Excited!

The last couple of years have been pretty rough for Britney Spears. When the paparazzi were following her day and night it was like a fox being hunted by a pack of wild dogs. Thankfully things have turned around for the young star in the last year and, and with this video, "Womanizer," the first single from her upcoming album, "Circus," it truly shows she is back.

You're not allowed to embed the video, but at least you can hear the song here!

Britney's mom, Lynne Spears has talked a lot about what her family has been through in her book, "Through the Storm," which I have read, and wasn't at all what i thought it would be. It wasn't salacious in any way, and gave some insights into how they got where they did. After reading it I can only hope that parents will think twice before encouraging kids into show business. No parent should ever want their child to be a commodity to be bought and sold, but it's easy to see how seductive the fame and money can be.

I am not saying that Britney is a huge musical talent, but for what she does, when she's healthy she does it well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Finally! Some Paris Hilton News!

Now here I was just a few hours ago talking about how I wish I could talk more pop culture less politics, and this falls right into my lap: a bit of both worlds. The absurdity of Washington melded with the silliness of Hollywood. Life is feeling normal once again.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Seeing Martin Sheen brings me back to the simple days of Aaron Sorkin, a time when presidents were strong, capable, moral and good. The presidents of "The West Wing," and "The American President" that is what I want.

Ah, if life were only that simple...

When Will The Madness End?

Just when I think I will go back to writing about oh I don't know, Paris Hilton or maybe my make-believe boyfriend, George Clooney, I keep finding things in the news that keep dragging me back.

Last night I was watching the news and got to see many shots of Sarah Palin whipping crowds into a hate-fueled frenzy by bringing up Barack Obama's middle name, (gee, I have one son whose middle name is Shadrach and my daughter's is Eun Bee, what have I done to them?!) long-dismissed ties to a 1960s radical, and even the New York Times for God's sake. What is wrong with this woman? I winced as I listened to crowds scream, "Terrorist!" about Senator Obama, and was stunned at just how low things can go.

There is a line that should never, ever be crossed and she continues to cross it out of desperation and not having a leg to stand on (even if that leg is standing on styling peep-toe pumps).

It is reprehensible and completely irresponsible in this day and age to encourage that kind of hate-mongering during what should be an intelligent election process. But as Obama has said, these things are part of the "Silly season" of politics.

At this point I cannot wait for this election to be over. I hope that we all come out of this unscathed and still speaking to one another. I think we've all been hurt enough by everything that's happening in the last several weeks, heck, years, it's time for hope to override fear and hate. Bottom line, no matter who you vote for it shoulnd't be out of hating someone else.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

OJ Simpson's Guilty Verdict Gives Proof To The Existence Of Karma

Yesterday, eleven years to the day that he was acquitted in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, he was found guilty on all counts of armed robbery and kidnapping in a botched scheme to get some of his memorabilia back.

Maybe it's not very kind or forgiving of me, but I smiled when I read that and felt at that moment that perhaps what goes around does indeed come around.

I remember the day when that first verdict came in. My ex-husband and I were, with the help of my mom, cleaning our house that we'd sold and moving into a rental while we built a new home. The furniture was all gone, but the cable was still connected and the three of us sat there on the floor, mops, sponges and dusters in hand huddled around a tiny TV waiting for the verdict.

All these years later I remember that feeling of my heart racing, waiting as the jury filed in and Simpson rose to hear the verdict. Not Guilty. I couldn't believe it. I'd watched a lot of the trial and just could not believe it. The blood in the Bronco, the chase in the Bronco, the thump against Kato Kaelin's wall. The lateness in getting to the airport, the limo driver not being able to get him, the weapon for God's sake. I sat there stunned believing to my core that this man had indeed gotten away with murder.

A year or so ago I wrote in a column about his proposed book, "If I Did It," and how horrible it was. The Goldman family actually took over and did get the book published and have taken the profits from it for a foundation in their son's name. I'm not sure I agree with putting this horrible story out there in any form or fashion, but that clearly wasn't mine to decide.

This verdict and possible life sentence in jail is certainly too little too late for the families of Nicole and Ron, but hopefully knowing that OJ may finally be going to jail will provide them with some solace.

For too long the swagger and arrogance of this man have spared him from paying for his crimes. Well, it looks like his number finally came up. How fitting that it happened in Vegas.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Vote Vote Vote!!!

I live in Massachusetts, and there are only about 11 more days where you can register to vote for the upcoming election. To find out how easy it is to register in Massachussetts or your own state so go here.

There are people around the world who would give anything to have the privilege to vote, something many among us take terribly for granted. It is nothing to be squandered.

I remember my first presidential election very well. It was Jimmy Carter, 1975 or so. I was thrilled to be able to cast my vote and haven't missed an election since.

This year, more than ever, we all need to take a stand for change. I've made my preference known, but everyone has to choose the candidate who is right for them.

Just remember if you don't bother to cast a vote you have no right to complain, and if you're anything like me, when things don't go your way you want to be able to complain about it!

Maybe this seems a little out of place coming from a pop culture columnist, but what's more cultural, pop or not than our future? I know I want to be able to write about Britney, George Clooney and anything else that crosses my mind in a home I can pay for that has heat I can afford as well. I'm just like you trying to get by and make sure I'm helping to create a future that is solid and healthy for my children.

That doesn't mean I don't love Hello Kitty, celebrities and movies. It just means there's more to life than those things and we all have to do our best to make sure everyone has a good shot at having a good life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

I've always considered myself a girl's girl, and as an adult, a woman's woman. But there are times that I am disappointed in my gender and find myself siding more with the guys.

Having raised two sons and a daughter, I saw up close and personal just how different the friendships between boys and girls are. I held my daughter as she cried about being treated badly by "mean girls" and I saw my sons get upset with a friend, deal with it and move on.

What got me thinking about this is today's "Oprah," a show about a mother who forgot her toddler daughter in her car when she went to work. Hours later, the little girl was found dead from heat stroke. It's easy to stand in judgement and think that you'd never do that, but it was truly an accident. An accident she will have to live with for the rest of her life.

The mom talked about how she went from being a well-respected assistant principal and mother to who she called, "The most hated woman in America." And it was largely women who told her how horrible she was.

For some reason we can be each other's biggest supporters and worst enemies. My daughter graduated in May from Wellesley College, one of the few women's colleges left in the country. The education she received there is unparalleled, and she made some friends who I am sure will be friends for life, but for all of that there was mean girl activity that was so awful I was appalled. Once in a while she would forward threads of e-mails to me. Below is what she sent to me during her freshman year:

"This best represents Wellesley girls. It starts off with a girl named
Anna* looking for a place to tan. Very bad choice to post on the Wellesley
community conference. As we all know girls have a tendency to be catty.
Well now we can do it over the Internet. It goes from tanning, to skin
cancer, to racism, to proving that girls really are crazy." *Name changed

The e-mail went on to judging and mocking this poor girl who asked a simple question and showed just how cruel girls can be.

I adore my women friends, and thankfully I'm pretty confident no one in my close circle is a frenemy, but I've been subjected to sniping, judging and been lied to by women I thought were dear friends.

We hold ourselves to such high standards: we have to have perfect children, relationships, homes and jobs, all while being a size 4 and looking hot. Who can live up to all that?!

I think we turn on each other for a few reasons: We're hungry after not having consumed more than 1000 calories a day in 10 years and we're not thinking straight. If we diminish someone else we can feel better about ourselves. And I think it's encouraged by a media that loves cat fights.

Maybe the best thing we can do is to circle the wagons and stop hurting each other. In the meantime, I'm going to make sure I have some good guy friends too, at least I always know where I stand with them.