Poop.

Let’s talk about poop.

Or maybe we shouldn’t.

Because I am quickly realizing that very few of my buds in my LA friend circle care to talk about such a subject. Why? Because it’s seen as pretty crude to discuss bodily functions among single, life-loving, 20 somethings–that’s why.

But if you’re a mom, or you’re a nanny, or a personal assistant moonlighting as a nanny, than this is unfortunately a topic with which you are unabashedly familiar.

As I was sitting with a few friends post-workday and debriefing about some on-the-job-challenges, I came up to bat. One person had been lamenting the excuses their high school students had given them about poor test grades and another had commented about how the fitting for her designer label’s winter pieces hadn’t gone smoothly.

My turn:

“Well, today, little Julie (name changed) pooped her underwear and sat in it before I could get to her.”

I didn’t notice it, but this was when everyone’s jaws simultaneously dropped to the floor. I powered on, ignorant to the silence that signaled their amazement at my base musings.

“And what’s worse,” I add with relish, “is that it wasn’t at all solid. It was that weird in-between texture that makes it really hard to wipe up without using half a role of toilet paper and a pack of Kandoo wipes!”

Yeah. This photo was just chillin' on the internet...

Yeah. This photo was just chillin’ on the internet…

I paused here waiting for a chorus of “Preach, sister!” and “I hate it when that happens” to greet the closing of my speech.

None came.

Instead, I received a kind but firm, “Gross, nobody wants to talk about that! Keep it to yourself!”

My bad.

Sometimes, I feel like if I had gotten married and popped out a few kids right after college, I would’ve been just fine. In fact, I would’ve been the most social mom at the Pre-K coffee pot regailing my mom-friends with tales of failed sleep training, teeth breaking (not what you’d think, if you’ve never had kids), and of COURSE bowel movements.

There is definitely a generational gap with me and the non-parent crowd as I’ve been taking care of kids for over 10 years…TEN YEARS (I wish the keyboard had an echo effect). I am up-to-date on all of the latest gizmos and gadgets, I’m primed on the latest pureed organic food pouch brands, and I can change a wet diaper in less than 30 seconds (granted, there has to be little to no squirming from the ankle-biter for my best time to show).

But then I have days where I’m with other people’s children and I know I need to be motherless for at least another 5-10 years. These days usually include a romp with a child brimming with life, passion, a proclivity toward biting, tantrums, and carrying a sign that says “I am a Typical-Terrible-Two’s Poster Child. Outta MY WAY.”

And then I resist the urge to converse about feces, gulp my mimosa, and be glad that the only butt I have to wipe at night is my own.

Connecticut.

After the awful tragic events of this morning, America quickly spiraled into the inevitable Blame Game.

Who’s at fault according to Facebook?

  1. It’s gun control laws that made this happen.
  2. It’s America’s inattention to mental illness.
  3. It’s because God is angry at people for taking Bible Teachings out of schools.
  4. It’s the shooter’s fault, and nothing else.
  5. It’s Hollywood’s fault for inundating our children with violence.

I’m definitely onboard with the first half of #4 but I’m not sure that’s the only explanation for why America can’t seem to get mass shootings under control.

As for the rest of those accusations, I’m not going to entertain any of those today. Today I’m going to remember the little ones, teachers, and the surviving parents and family members that are grieving over the loss of their loved ones.

There are so many opinions on facebook laced with hatred and intolerance that it isn’t any wonder that bad things happen every day. I’m sad to say I fed into it, myself.

Then, I took a deep breath, made some adjustments, and realized that the best way for me to combat negative energy like that would be to put out positive energy.

I think I’m a Realist by nature, but today I am feeling incredibly pessimistic about us as a society, and the human race at large.

I’m not sure there’s an answer to these kinds of problems and I’m not sure that America can change it’s ways. Heck, I’m not even sure we’re all willing.

I am sure that I’m going to call my niece and nephew tonight and tell them how much I love them. I am sure that I’m  going to think about all the little ones I’ve cared for over the last 10 years and be truly thankful that they’re safe and sound with their parents.

Ellen DeGeneres ends each one of her talk show episodes by charging her viewers to “be kind to one another”.

I am going to do just that. 

Papa–Paparazzi Madness

I don’t know one person who would openly admit to despising Lady Gaga.

Mother Monster has some darn catchy lyrics, to say the least.

Her song “Paparazzi” was undeniably big in the United States and, as such, I know most of the lyrics by heart. The ones I don’t know, I kind of fumble over muttering my own rendition as if the people in the car with me won’t notice. Usually they don’t, since they’re also stumbling over the less audible parts of the song.

There’s one line that’s always stood out to me:

“Baby, you’ll be famous, chase you down until you love me–Papa–Paparazzi”

Talk about your run-o-the-mill stalker line! It’s almost as bad as this gem of a song by The Police.

Is the Paparazzi really that bad, I’ve always wondered.

Since I moved to LA, I’ve seen one or two Paparazzi walking the boulevards searching for a target, but I hadn’t truly seen them en massé.

I do recall seeing pictures of Brittany Spears back in the day stuck in a situation like this:

g-ent-080226-paparazzi-10a.grid-6x2

I think she should be allowed to plow them down at this point

but I hadn’t seen anything like that in the 4 months I’ve been here.

Until this morning.

I was exiting a meeting I had in Brentwood, a posh neighborhood northwest of Beverly Hills, when my path was blocked by a huddle of men. They all seemed to be staring in one direction–kinda strange, right?

Then I saw a humungous black and white lens protruding from the crossed arms of one man and noticed that they all had cameras.

Quick as a bolt of white-hot lightening, they all sprint into the parking lot abutting the shopping center I was heading towards.

I knew they were going in for the kill. I kept my distance but saw a blonde haired woman emerge from the car, wearing sunglasses, and pointedly talking on a cell phone.

A BMW came screeching to a halt in front of me, blocking the entrance to the parking lot. A man hurriedly got out, pulled a long-lensed camera from the trunk of his car, and eagerly joined the pursuit.

Someone was obviously  late to the party.

Everything happened so quickly that I hardly got a look at her face because they swarmed like a bunch of bees whose hive had just been demolished.

I knew who it was, though, she has an unmistakable look.

I didn’t want to linger at all, out of respect to her and because I thought that would be incredibly rude. And NO, I didn’t snap a photo, in case that was your next question.

I went to grab some coffee and upon my return, the paparazzi were just milling about. I could tell they were lying in wait for her to come out of the shop.

“Who is it that you’re all waiting for?” I ask the nearest man, just to check my suspicions.

“Reese Witherspoon,” he replies in a thick Middle Eastern accent.

Nailed it.

I walked back to my car thinking about how absolutely jarring it was to see a pack of men race toward this woman, walking by herself.

I know a lot of people say things like “it comes with the territory of being a celebrity” and I agree to some extent.

However, I think it’s their human right not to be horribly stalked, which is what the paparazzi has turned into the last 20 years. I can’t imagine how absolutely terrified I’d be to see grown, aggressive, burly men all advancing toward me with a look of determination and desperation for the shot glinting in their eyes.

No boundaries at all.

How did all of those men know she’d be in that parking lot at that time today? The answer: someone obviously had to be following her car from the moment she left her house.

HOW IS THAT NOT ILLEGAL?!

The scariest part of all of this is that she has children. I can understand Julia Roberts’ major freak out a couple of years back when a paparazzi gaggle got too close to her kids. Total Mama Bear response.

Where does that leave my career aspirations?

Have I chosen the right profession on which to focus? Don’t get me wrong, it’d be a LONG SHOT if I were to achieve that kind of fame. However, I think it’s important that I stop and consider the loss of all anonymity should I succeed in the acting profession.

For now, I’m going to go with ‘yes’ and start saving up for my legal fees when I inevitably mow one of them down with my luxury vehicle.

Strange Encounters LA: Starbucks Bathroom Brawl

I think everyone can agree that mental healthcare in this country, heck this WORLD, isn’t where it really should be. We can rightfully assume this is because mental health hasn’t been at the forefront of American concerns over the last 100 years. It’s only now starting to morph into it’s own cause with more research, awareness, and understanding.

The following post isn’t at all meant to be incendiary; that being said, I’m going to approach this with humor (shocker) in the hopes that my readers will chill the freak out and not badger me with claims of insensitivity.

It all started when I walked into one of my two neighborhood Starbucks Coffeehouses (both are always packed, not unsurprisingly). This one is at the corner of a very well-known intersection and usually has a line stretching to the door at any given hour of the day. Its location may be ideal for some, but I personally despise it. It’s statistically impossible for me to secure a table most times I go–since I work from home often, it’s easier to focus in public without Netflix nagging me (I purposefully leave my headphones at home).

This morning, though, I walked in to one of the most beautiful sights to appear before my eyes in what could be my entire life.

HYPERBOLE!

Shining forth in the glinting sunbeams of our Solar System’s own star was a table situated in front of a gloriously large window with an electrical outlet right beside it.

An ELECTRICAL OUTLET, PEOPLE.

Do you know how prime a table like this is?! You’re more likely to successfully fish a needle out of a 50 foot haystack. While wearing a blindfold. In the snow.

Naturally, I screamed loud enough to rattle the windows and attracted more than a couple of stares from other patrons (just kidding, no screaming, at least not audibly).

I placed a book on the table to reserve my spot, ordered my white mocha and pumpkin bread, and returned to my table where I took a good ten minutes to unpack my gear and settle into what I thought would be my home for the next few hours. This ritual is not unlike that of a dog circling it’s bed 1000 times to make sure it’s just right before they plop down and begin to drool in a happy slumber.

I enabled the internet connection and had just started to respond to some pressing emails (like my subscription to mommy blogs, LEGO rewards points, etc) when she walked in.

Mussed hair, angry expression, 3 coats including a very large parka, and 4 different bags including one on wheels. She was either about to set sail on a cruise to the Arctic, or she was homeless.

She pushed her way through the crowded store and into the bathroom. Did I mention that my table was the one closest to the Whizz Palace (thank you, Leslie Knope, for that endearing moniker for the toilet room).

She brushed past me on her way in, whacking me with her coat, which I ignored because it was probably a mistake. Right?

Not 5 seconds later, I jump out of my skin when I hear this woman absolutely lambasting someone in the restroom.

That’s rude, I thought. She probably doesn’t even know the other person in there.

And then…I realized it wasn’t that kind of bathroom.

photo-8

This was a “one person at a time” bathroom and unless she had someone hiding in that suitcase, she was yelling at herself. Loudly.

At such a volume that everyone in the store began staring at each other with a look of “well this is AWKWARD” plastered all over their faces. Eventually, the people nearest the commotion settled their eyes on me as I was the one closest to the door.

Here’s where my life froze for 10 seconds. On the one hand, she could just be an unstable lady that yells at herself and causes no harm to anyone. On the flip-side, she could be an unstable serial killer, pumping herself up in the mirror to kill everyone enjoying a hot beverage in the waiting area with yours truly being the first one to knock off.

“Stop it,” my brain commanded, “she’s not going to kill you. Or is she?!”

I got up, calmly walked over to the baristas and let them know, “Hey, there’s some lady in the bathroom that doesn’t seem to be ‘all there’ yelling at herself.”

“Oh goodness,” a particularly mellow baristo (is that the male form of that position?) casually said while the girl standing next to him followed me back to the bathroom. She put her ear to the door to confirm that the lady was indeed inside and was almost blasted backward with the force of the noise from the woman holding herself captive in the bathroom. She knocked (not sure that was the best move) and received nothing in response.

“Well, we called the cops” came the Mellow Man, and each of them walked back to do their jobs. He paused for a moment, looking at me from over his shoulder and said, “you might want to move, just in case she comes out.”

It took me about 5 seconds to move all of my junk and settle into a table on the far side of the room–no ritual this time.

5 minutes later, the cops still weren’t there and the woman walked out of the bathroom, muttering loudly, and made her way to the bus stop. She boarded a bus without paying some 10 minutes later. I’m not sure if the authorities were called off, but they never did show up.

In retrospect it was kind of funny that I ran the entire gamut of emotions in that 15 minutes that woman was in the store. In the moment, though, I was genuinely afraid for my life as were the other people in the store (judging by some of the looks on their faces).

Why is this woman wandering Los Angeles by herself? Where is her family, and what can be done to help her?

I think the sad answer is ‘nothing’ which kind of put a damper to the Holiday music streaming from the speakers.

Just another reminder to be thankful for everything I have–most especially my friends, family, and sanity.

Operation Santa: Finale

Last time I wrote, I’d just picked up 8 special letters addressed to Father Christmas from some very deserving individuals [skim back 2 blog posts to begin at the very beginning of this Yuletide Saga]. It was then time for me to strap on my boots, crimson ensemble, and rouge my rosy cheeks to take on the most challenging role Hollywood and the World Over had to offer.

No, I didn’t actually dress up.

But I did have a Mrs. Claus in my roommate, G.

Even my fake persona has had more luck in the Love Department than I have. But I digress.

First, I made a list of all the kids and what they had specifically requested (if anything). Then, I checked that baby twice. Everyone was deemed well behaved (nice) and coal didn’t make the gift list this year.

Since there isn’t a Wal-Mart in Los Angeles that could confidently guarantee my safety and well being after dark, we headed to Target–the one at the foot of the Hollywood Hills.

What we found was more than a little discouraging in that the toy aisle had been sufficiently picked over and the merchandise was absolutely sparse.

Granted, this was only a few days after Black Friday, but one would think they would’ve restocked already!

Also, can someone tell me how a hunk of molded plastic costs so darn much?! The toys for the under 1 year olds are $30 a pop! What is Playschool trying to do to me besides rob me blind?

We skipped the electronics aisle altogether and went straight for the more traditional toys. Matchbox cars were on sale, some of the smaller lego sets were under $10 and we got a giant bag 15 mini-jars of Play-Dough. We also picked up some art supplies, puzzles, clothing, and toy dinos.

All for under $100. That’s less than $10 for each of the 11 kids, which, to me, is a mega deal.

photo-5

Now, I have to wrap the presents in festive wrapping paper, and load them into mailable packaging. When I get to the post office, I’ll pay the postage (they’ve given me the zip codes) label them with the number associated with the individual letter, and the head elf at USPS will slap on their mailing address.

Since I ended up saving quite a bit on toys by shopping discount and sale items, I think I will pick up a few more letters since the Post Office is constantly receiving them through Christmas.

I’ve heard from quite a few people reading my blog who were disappointed that Operation Santa wasn’t held at their local Post Office. It’s a real shame considering kids from all over write to Santa and some will never get anything in return.

Next Fall, I intend to start a fundraising campaign to get enough money to serve 100 children in my area.

Until then, I’ll invest in some reindeer and a wheeled sled (since the odds of a white Christmas in LA are fairly slim), and continue to live vicariously through the children for whom I am purchasing these freakin’ awesome toys.

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