When Will I Ever Learn …?


My September 11


Yesterday caused a lot of memories to bubble up.  The vast majority of these were memories of the suffering and pain of others.  You see, I, like most of us, experienced September 11, 2001 as an observer.  Most of the tears I shed were for the pain and suffering of others.  I wasn’t there, I didn’t lose anyone I knew.  My heart broke for those that did, but this was not what changed me.




That is what changed me.  I believe that it is what changed all of us.  I also believe that it was the part of the whole experience that we most wanted to forget.


My September 11, 2001, started when I got my two-year-old son up and brought him into bed with me after my husband left for work.  This was pretty typical.  I wasn’t working that day (back then I had my own law practice, but only worked part-time), so we could laze in bed for hours after my early-rising husband left.


Some time later, the phone rang.  It was my husband.  “Turn on the TV,” he said.  “Something has happened in New York.”


A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  It was awful.  My brother was a pilot for United Airlines.  I found plane crashes particularly upsetting.  This was reportedly an American flight.  It was just awful, but I was relieved that my brother could not have been involved.


It was terrible to see, the flames and smoke marring the blue sky.  Those poor people.


I held my sleeping son closer.


Then, before all of our eyes, a second plane hit.


This was something different all together.


That was when I started to feel fear.  Someone was attacking us.  It was on purpose.  And all of those people in the towers.  People were jumping.  How terrified would you have to be before you would jump?  I was sobbing and clutching my son.


Then they announced that the second plane was a United flight.


Could it have been my brother piloting a high jacked plane?  What would he have felt?  How scared would he be right up until impact?  Oh my god.


Then they came on with more news.  Another plane had hit the Pentagon.


I kept thinking over and over, as I looked at my son, “You will live in a different world.  The world will forever be different now.”  We were being attacked, and who knew when it would end and where it would stop.


By this time, there were so many horrors, I don’t remember in what order they happened.  One tower collapsed, clearly burying so many people inside, including the firefighters and police officers who were there to help people.  Another highjacked plane crashed in field in Pennsylvania, this one another United flight.  The second tower collapsed.


I watched it all, in disbelief.  It just couldn’t all be happening.


At some point, my mother called.  She had heard from my brother.  He was safe, and in San Francisco.    I was so relieved.  This made me feel guilty.  Clearly so many people had died.  But not my brother.


I stayed glued to the television.  For days I watched the hundreds and hundreds of stories of horror and loss and heroism covered by the press.


We learned that a college student who worked at our local Chilis was on one of the flights.  A local man was one of the heroes on Fight 93, and one of the pilots grew up nearby.  Theirs were stories among thousands.  Too much to comprehend.


My brother was grounded in San Francisco for days.  I took my son and we drove up to see him.  He was staying at the St. Francis on Union Square.  The city seemed empty.  Union Square was vacant.  I had never seen it like that.


When we met him in the lobby of the hotel, he was standing holding a piece of paper.  It was a fax from United, listing the United personnel who had been killed.  The co-pilot on one of the flights was someone my brother knew.  My brother had been one of his flight instructors in the military, and they had become reacquainted when this pilot had joined United.


I had never seen my brother look like this.


We went to get something to eat, though nobody was hungry.  We went to The Cheesecake Factory.  It was completely empty.  We ate without tasting the food, but we were glad that we were together.  My son was a good distraction since, at two, he had no idea what had happened.


Eventually, a day or two later, my brother got in a plane and flew away.  I don’t know how he was able to do that.


After that, I just remember days and days of tears and fear and, mostly, the numbness.  People vacantly walked through the grocery store because they had to get things, but they couldn’t remember what.  It didn’t seem right to talk.  We just did what we had to and got out as soon as possible.


We didn’t know what else would happen.  We were afraid to go to public places or to gather in groups.  That year we were afraid to trick or treat on Halloween — it just didn’t seem right.  We didn’t want to take the kids to Halloween gatherings at the mall or downtown.  At some point, Anthrax scares started. It was all very bewildering.


I worried about the world in which my son would live.  Would he grow up afraid?  He wouldn’t remember any of this, but I just assumed that more incidents would happen and that the terror would go on and on.


Gradually, though,  the fear was buried.  Our ordinary lives went back to the ordinary.  I know I started to worry less about how our lives had changed, and more about the day to day things.


After the first of the new year, I got pregnant.  I started to feel hopeful about things.  We were no longer afraid to go out.  Gradually, we pushed all the fears down inside, and could read about the war on terror without shaking.


My nephew (the son of my pilot brother) joined the army and went to Iraq.  Mercifully, he came back.


Now, ten years have passed since the attacks.   Our lives have changed in innumerable ways, but, as it often is with fear, not in many of the ways I feared.  My children know about September 11,  but it is a distant thing to them.  They don’t worry that it will happen here.  It is something that happened a long time ago.  They know about “the war” but don’t feel affected by it on a daily basis.


And, when my son watched a program about September 11 yesterday, he saw about specific loss to those many, many families directly affected.  He did not understand that, at least for a time, we all lived in incredible fear.  But I remember.

Adventures In Decorating


Several  people have asked me for updates on my on-again, off-again relationship with the dream chest I was trying to purchase for my upstairs landing.  This is the chest I wrote about in my post entitled “That’s Why It Is Called A Reservation.”

For those who were not riveted by my first description of my rocky relationship, I will recap.  Saw chest, fell for chest, thought I had secured chest, went to pick up chest, chest was sold to another, heart was broken, possibility of another chest was on the horizon.  To be continued…

I am happy to report that, not only did I secure my new chest (after a fair amount of inconvenience), but the nice man at the Pier One in Fremont knocked a few additional dollars off it for my trouble.  The chest became the deal of the century.  Oh, and we have worked through the rough-patch in our relationship.

Here it is, sitting in its appointed spot.  What do you think?  Worth the emotional turmoil?

It is kind of like me — it doesn’t photograph well unless the lighting is JUST right.  And it looks taller and thinner in person.

Now, a word about me and decorating.

I can’t do it.

I really can’t.  Somehow, I was born without the innate ability to feather my nest.  I try, but it just doesn’t come naturally.

Now, to fully understand my decorating dilemmas , you need to know a bit about me.  You see, I am a total commitment-phobe.  Let’s just put it this way, I was engaged three times, but couldn’t quite go through with it until the last time.  There are many reasons why (not the least of which being that I was waiting for my husband, who, not unlike my dream chest, was just what I had been searching for, and, despite being a bit banged up, was the deal of the century).  But I will not go in to all of that  here.  Suffice it to say that most of the problem was my reluctance to commit.  Because when I do commit, I am all in.  That’s a big decision.

Anyway, now that I have been married and deeply committed in my relationship for 13 plus years, my aversion to commitment has transferred over to the decoration of my home.

Settled as I am with my husband, it now takes me FOREVER to settle down with a decorating choice.  For example, I have paint sample patches all over my walls because I can’t decide which color to go choose. (See those samples back behind my dream chest?  On those otherwise starkly white walls?)  When I first put these samples up, my husband was encouraged that I might be close to making a choice.

That was six months ago.

Closer to choosing colors?    No such luck.

All I have done is eliminate about 6 of the one hundred trillion colors in the world.

It may be a while.

This is why the chest thing was a big deal for me.

Thank goodness that worked out all right.

Anyway, this brings me to a decorating device that I can whole-heartedly recommend, especially for the decorating commitment-phobes like me.

The Fathead.

For those who don’t know, a Fathead is basically an industrial strength adhesive decal that you stick to the wall.  A Fathead sticks like nobody’s business, but comes off easily.   Best of all, it can be moved and reused!  Fabulous.

Ok, maybe not the decorating tool that will solve all of your interior design issues, but these things are great for your kids’ bedrooms , your play room or your basement.  I have also seen more than one Doctor’s office adorned with one of these babies.

I wish I could think of a way to decorate my living room with one without making it look like a frat house, but I can’t.  Oh well.

But the Fathead (and frankly, its knock-offs) have resolved several decorating roadblocks in my kids’ rooms.

Let’s take my son’s room.  I was considering repainting his room.  It was blue, because this went with the bedding for his crib.  He is now 12.  Might be time for a change.

I was considering a change to tan.  It would only take me about 5 years to choose from all of the possible tans.  This would bring him to his senior year in high school.

This might not work.

Then, the Giants won the World Series.  And I discovered the Fathead.

This is Andrew’s room now.

Nice, huh?

Another view.

And, while Fatheads aren’t exactly cheap, they are cheaper and far easier than painting.  Obviously the large one took two people to apply, but my husband and I got it on the wall in about 20 minutes.  The rest of the decals took about 5 minutes to apply.  They are very substantial and really adhere to the wall.

Best of all, they come right off and can be stored and/or re-applied.

So, in other words, if the Giants don’t shape up and make it to the post-season, Andrew can transfer his loyalties and remove them from his wall.

Not that he would do this.

But the Giants might want to start hitting.  Just in case.

Fatheads are primarily available in sports themes, though they do have a connection with Disney, so princesses, the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana are also available.  So are some superheros and Star Wars characters.

All of these leave my daughter flat.  She is no longer a Hannah Montana fan since she saw a picture of Miley Cyrus smoking.

But all is not lost.  I found non-Fathead decals at Cost Plus.  There I found all sorts of fashion and art related decals.  These decals were much thinner and somewhat more difficult to work with, but they were also much less expensive.

My daughter could express her personality, which, at 8, is a bit all over the place.

So, if you decorate your daughter’s walls with Miley Cyrus and then Miley gets her tongue pierced or arrested for shop-lifting, so what?  In an hour you can change your daughter’s room over to that of a Parisian fashionista!

These dealies are right up my alley — they don’t require commitment.

But if you come over to my house and find that my living room looks like this:

I do.  Require commitment, that is.  Please haul me off immediately.


Long Time, No See


Ok.  I admit it.  I dropped the ball.


It has been a while since you heard from me.


You probably hadn’t noticed.


What have I been doing?   Umm.  I don’t exactly know.  I mean, I’ve been conscious most of the time, and I haven’t suffered any sort of blow to the head or trauma induced amnesia or anything.  But I still can’t really come up with a super compelling list of really obvious achievements that have kept me from my newish blogging endeavor.  Nor can I even come up with an uncompelling list.


I’ve just been busy.


Right this moment, I feel the way you do when you are a stay at home mom (which I am) and people who have known you to work in the past  say things like “Now what do you do with all of your time?”  or “What have you found to keep yourself busy?”


I just love when people say stuff like this to me.


Especially older people.  For some reason, older people say this a lot.


And people who don’t have kids.  Maybe the old people who say these things are just far enough away from having kids that they don’t remember what it was like when they were raising them.  The people who don’t have kids just don’t have any idea.


They don’t know the secret.


Kids are black holes.  They can suck in all of the energy around them and it just disappears.  They can rip a hole in the time/space continuum.  They can bring matter and anti-matter together which can cause an explosion that endangers the very existence of the universe.  You know, all that stuff that happened on Star Trek.


I’m no Carl Sagen.  But I know this is true.


Luckily, kids only have this impact on their own parents.


It isn’t just the kids, though.  It is everything that comes with them.  It is the soccer practices and the batting lessons and the homework and the school paperwork and the grown out clothes and the new clothes they need and the stories they want to tell you and the stories they don’t want to tell you and the playdates and the heart breaks and the pierced ears and the new bikes and the name calling and the squabbling and the tattling and the messy rooms and the picked up rooms and the school lunches and the forgotten PE clothes and the achievements and the failures…


I had better stop.  That sentence is a run on.


It also might, in itself, cause a rip in the time/space continuum.


Oh, wait.  It already has.  Suddenly it is time  to go pick up my daughter from school.


To be continued …


… in  Long Time, No See II, wherein I describe why it is absolutely worth every moment of intergalactic instability because having kids is the best thing on earth.


For Richer, For…Richer.


I have a lot going on this weekend.  My stepson is going back to college.  My other son has baseball practice.  I am going to see The Help with the girls.  I’m pretty busy.

That’s why I can’t make it to the Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries wedding on Saturday.  The American Royal Wedding.


Well, that and the fact that I wasn’t invited.

It’s too bad, really.  Imagine what the favors will be like.

When the bride has a $2 million, 20.5 carat engagement ring, they have to at least give the wedding guests a cute little Prius or a pony or something.  Or maybe a pair of Louboutins each.  All bearing the initials of the bride and groom, of course.  I hate to miss that.

I really may be in the minority, though.  It sounds like almost everyone is invited.    Ryan Seacrest and Kathy Lee are both invited and going, as are Lara Spencer from Good Morning America and Katie Couric.  Kelly Ripa and The Donald are invited, but not  going.  Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the White House party crashers are not invited, but purportedly are going anyway.

That’s ok.  I really have been looking forward to seeing The Help.

Kidding aside, however, there is something deeply distasteful about this over-the-top display of conspicuous consumption.  This is especially true at this moment in time that can be described, at very least, as economically uncertain.  Let’s just say I have friends and acquaintances who have quite literally lost their homes and spend sleepless nights worrying about how they will make it through the month. This storyline is repeated all over the country.  Millions on a party for two people?  Just doesn’t seem right.

Sure, every bride dreams of the beautiful ring, the gorgeous dress and the great party.  And, sure, most of us spend more on that particular party than reason and practicality support.  But it is estimated that this wedding (Kim’s second, by the way) will top $10 million.  Ten million dollars.  $10,000,000.  Holy crap.

That’s at least $12 million, between the ring and the wedding.  I decided to look at $12 million.  How long would it take the average person (who actually does something valuable for a living, say) to earn $12 million in salary?

  • If you made $50,000 a year (as a teacher, for example), it would take you 240 YEARS to earn $12 million.  Only 40 of those years would be spent earning the $2 million that Kim’s ring cost.
  • If you doubled your salary and made $100,000 a year, it would only take you 120 YEARS to earn $12 million.  20 years for the ring.
  • If you doubled your salary again and made $200,000 a year, it would only take you 60 YEARS to earn $12 million.  Only 10 years for the ring.
  • If you had a job making $12 an hour and worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, it would take you just over 480 and 3/4 YEARS to earn $12 million.  Only 80 of those years would be spent to buy the ring.

This would all be before you paid taxes and social security etc.  And of course, you couldn’t spend a single penny.  For 480 years.

I hope they have fun.

I have nothing against Kim Kardashian.  She is clearly quite beautiful.  And famous.  Famous for …what?  Famous for being on tv, for having a graphic “leaked” sex tape, for posing nude in Playboy, for being on Dancing with the Stars, for suing an actress who has the nerve to resemble her, for having a big butt.

Oh, I see.  She is famous for being famous.  And now, because of her extravagant wedding (which will no doubt be the subject of some sort of television special and countless magazine spreads), the American Royal Wedding, for Pete’s sake, she will be even MORE FAMOUS.

And with fame comes … more money.

So by spending the equivalent of the gross national product of a small country on a second wedding (resulting in a marriage that, statistically speaking, doesn’t have a ghost of a chance of lasting more than five years), Kim and Kris (don’t get me started about professional athletes) will become even richer.

The worst part of the whole thing, though, is this:  WE MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN.  We create the false celebrity because we simply cannot look away.  We cannot help being manipulated by the reality tv producers who package their “stars” and script their “lives” so that they do things and face situations that we are drawn to, like junkies drawn to heroin.

The very worst part?  I am as guilty, if not more, than anyone.  I eat it all up and ask for seconds.  I talk about “what idiots” these reality stars are, and how tacky, and how dysfunctional.  What complete losers!  Thank goodness I know what is really important in life!   Aren’t I lucky to live a normal life and to have my priorities straight?  Aren’t I just soooo much better than them?  Then I set the DVR to record the next episode.

By the way, I have a big butt.  It’s never earned me a dime.


That’s Why It’s Called A Reservation


I’m mad.  That might be too strong.  I’m frustrated.  Not strong enough.  I’m pissed.

That’s it.

Let me share the source of my frustration.  (Maybe that was right after all — saying “let me share the source of my piss” just doesn’t sound right.)

I decided I wanted to buy a reasonably priced (that is for my husband), small (also for my husband) chest to put  on the landing at the top of our stairs.  I had been looking for one for some time, but hadn’t found one that was just right.  Then, the other day, there it was,  in the window of a nationally known retailer that shall remain nameless.  Oh, all right.  I know you really want to know.  It was Pier One.

The chest is perfect.  Right size, right price, right color.  I even like it.  Dare I say it?  I actually think I am in love!

Anyway, there I am, dream chest before me.  Of course, I have the kids with me and I am driving my convertible VW Beetle.  Not the time or circumstance in which to buy a chest, a dream one or not.

I have come across this dream chest a few days before my kids go back to school.  I am occupied with other things.  I do not manage to get my chest for a few days.

School starts.  Yeah!  I have time to  discover that Pier One (since we are naming names) has a wonderful and handy new program whereby you can pick out things online (say, for example, your dream chest) and then pick them up in the store.  How miraculous!

What do you know?  There is my lovely dream chest online, and, of the stores in my area, there is only one that has it in stock.  And it is at the store nearest me!  Hallelujah!  And, dream of all dreams, it has gone on clearance!  Further price reduction!  I reserve my own special dream chest.  We are meant for each other and I am happy.

Now, a few logistical issues arise.  I still cannot pick up my chest in my Buggie.  We also have a Suburban, but one of my college-age stepsons calls, and he has need of  it.  He must be put off, however, because I need it to pick up my dream chest.

The second day of school, the sun rises and I awake, anticipating the perfection that will be my landing, once I have my chest of dreams.  Every time I walk by its spot, I picture it there, and think about how happy we will be together.

I clear out the Suburban (because its main purpose is to serve as supplementary storage), and I am off to Pier One, all anticipation and exhilaration.

It is like the predictable plot of the Victorian melodrama.  I don’t need to recount every step.  You already know what I find when I get to the store.

They have already sold my dream chest to another.

But really, they assure me, I did not want that one.  It was scratched and damaged, and I am far better off to be without it.  It would have only brought me grief and pain.

They can, however, introduce me to a new dream.  And they will use their new online system to put it on hold for me.  In Fremont.  Which is 45 minutes away.

I will let you know how that one turns out.   But I am no longer in love.



Anticipation, Part Deux


I said the list wasn’t all-inclusive.  I couldn’t sleep last night because I kept thinking of other things I was eagerly anticipating.  Please note, there is a high degree of certitude  that some of these things will not live up to their potential.  That is why I must enjoy the anticipation while is lasts.

“As Daddy said, life is 95% anticipation.”
Gloria Swanson

More things I am looking forward to with great anticipation:

  • Two and 1/2 Men 

I have not been a regular follower of this show, but what person on the planet didn’t watch Charlie Sheen’s more than public psychotic break from reality.  Now they have to kill him off on the show and replace him with Ashton Kutcher.  Kutcher definitely has the comedic chops (and fan base) to more than replace Sheen.  And like a train wreck, one just cannot look away from the whole debacle.  I’m not sure how this one will turn out, but two things are certain.  It won’t go well for someone, and Charlie Sheen will have something to say about it.  The new season premieres on Monday, September 19.

  • Glee


I admit it.  I am a big-time Gleek.  It really is the most fun show around.  Sarcasm and musical theater.  It is a brilliant combination.  Then when you factor in the best list of guest stars on TV plus the all to familiar angst of high school, well, it is irresistible.   This season, some of the original students move along, and new ones join the cast.  This is a great way to keep things fresh.  Thank goodness for tenure, though.  Sue Sylvester won’t be going anywhere.  The third season premieres on Tuesday, September 20.

  • Boardwalk Empire 

This HBO series starts its second season on September 25.  If you haven’t seen it, watch the first season first.  Steve Buscemi, a favorite of mine since his Fargo days, stars as Enoch “Nuchy” Johnson.  Johnson was a real-life powerful political figure in Prohibition Era Atlantic City.  You really want to see Nuchy’s character unfold.

 The first episode of the first season of this rich and complicated series was directed by Martin Scorsese, and he continues as an executive producer, along with several of the minds behind The Sopranos.  You can really see and feel the contributions from these corners throughout the series.  Think a cross between Gangs of New York, the Godfather and The Sopranos.  Nuchy, not unlike Tony Soprano, is a complicated and endlessly interesting character and Buscemi was born to play him.

The series is set in a fascinating period of our history, and throughout you see the effects of Prohibition on the rise of organized crime.  I especially enjoy seeing appearances made by real life characters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, but at periods in their lives that we know less about.  Don’t miss this one.

  • I Don’t Know How She Does It 

This movie is based upon a novel of the same name by Allison Pearson.  I really enjoyed the novel, especially as I read it while I was still juggling a law practice and a family with small kids.  The movie stars Sarah Jessica Parker as a successful power mom who struggles to balance it all.

The buzz is that SJP plays Carrie Bradshaw, working mother.  I like Carrie.  I loved Sex in the City (the series).  Carrie on film has been more problematic, however.  And SJP on film — don’t get me started.  This may be one of those that I don’t like because it doesn’t meet its potential.  Or I could just love it because SJP wears cute shoes.  It opens in limited release on September 16.

  • The Way

This film was directed by Emilio Estevez and stars his father,  Martin Sheen.  Sheen plays a California doctor who travels to France due to the death of his son while hiking The Way Of St. James, a traditional course of pilgrimage through the French and Spanish Pyrenees.  Driven by his grief and desire to connect with his dead son, Sheen’s character undertakes the pilgrimage himself.  Along the way, he encounters other pilgrims with other motivations.

Ok, this film is either really boring, or just incredible.  Martin Sheen is a talented actor, but can at times be a bit self-indulgent.  Either way, I am really looking forward to breathtaking scenery of France and Spain.  The Way opens on October 7.

  • The Ides Of March

Also opening on October 7,  in limited release, is this political thriller, directed by George Clooney.  Clooney also stars.  My explanation could stop right there, but listen to the rest of this cast: Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood.  I just don’t know how this film can go wrong.  I will watch almost any movie in which either Hoffman or Giamatti appear, just to see them.  The plot involves a young communications director (Gosling) for a presidential candidate (Clooney) that comes across information that might compromise the candidate’s campaign.  The film is based upon a play by Beau Willimon.

  • J. Edgar

Clint Eastwood directs this film about long time director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover.  Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hoover, one of the most intriguing characters in modern US history.  Hoover was the first director of the FBI and remained in that position for nearly 40 years.  Hoover is now notorious for his willingness to use his power to target those he saw as dissenters, often bending the law over backwards in the process.  His private life has also been the source of much speculation, both due to his likely homosexuality, as well as titillating rumors that he was a cross-dresser, among other things.  There is already Oscar buzz surrounding DiCaprio’s turn in this juicy historical role.

Judi Dench also appears as Hoover’s over protective mother, Anne Marie.  She also makes every film  she appears in worth watching.

J. Edgar opens on November 9.

Well, these should keep me busy.  Oh, and I haven’s even made it to December yet!  Do I sense an “Anticipation, Part Trois” coming on?  You bet!

In the meantime, I would like to hear what YOU are anticipating in the entertainment arena.   I would like to have other suggestions in mind, just in case everything I am looking forward to turns out to suck.

And I would really like to know what Gloria Swanson was doing the other 5% of the time.