Second To Nun & Flying Monday, Aug 22 2011 


Yep! It’s Monday. Not just ANY Monday though; today is the first full week back to school for the kids and back to work for me. I’ve really missed the routine. Summertime’s great, but as the days go by and the heat really starts to kick in all of us tend to get a little grumpy. The kids and I were no exception. I slacked on the Post A Day blogging challenge because I started to feel a little bit like one of those crazed writers you picture with their hair all a mess and hygiene falling to the way side. No matter what time I tried to sit down and write, the kids needed me for something. Usually, what was needed was attention and throwing out the, “Please give Mama a little private time to write her blog” began to morph into, “The next person that comes into my room to whine had better be able to show me blood or they’re punished and I’m not kidding!” Not so good, huh? That probably wouldn’t win me parent of the year or anything, but more importantly I wasn’t getting any points from the little ones that matter. I kept thinking to myself that I’d made a PLAN. That PLAN was to blog every day and get some writing under my belt so that once the school year started, I could perhaps venture into the professional writing world and start bringing in some peanuts to feed the circus animals because the part-time gig at the family beauty dynasty simply isn’t going to cut it. Maybe I’d even get a book deal and impress the kids with their own laptops and a car that didn’t have tape holding up the little black rubbery thingy by the door. See, I made the MISTAKE of checking out some other bloggers one day and realized that they have professional experience in the publishing world with literary backgrounds from top-notch universities and have their resumes posted on their blogs for free-lance writing jobs. My PLAN was to show that while I don’t have literary degrees under my belt, I can churn out daily posts with the best of them from my ancient little laptop at my make-up table. Disappointment and guilt kicked in as the days between blog posts stretched sometimes into a week. It’s crazy to sit back and realize that you’ve actually let yourself feel guilty about not sticking to a PLAN that you devised yourself and has no dire consequences if it fails, isn’t it? Actually, the crazy part is feeling guilty while the SANE part is recognizing it I guess. I think part of my problem is still that I want EVERYTHING I do to be great. I mean, I don’t actually think that’s the case, because one look around this little apartment will tell you that I simply can’t keep up with the artistic creative geniuses that rule the roost here with all of their “projects” and the scraps of paper and snippets of pipe cleaners lying around are evidence enough that I’m either terribly inept at instilling discipline into the little artists or sorely lacking the energy and motivation necessary to follow them around with a waste receptacle. Heh heh! I’m actually really good at NOT doing either though. There ya go!

I think I’m just going to change up my plan. Just a tweak. Just a tad. Saying it “out loud” on the world wide web may help motivate me to see through to my goals, but the big change will be reminding myself not to get burdened by the guilt of not accomplishing something the way it was PLANNED. I’m in charge now. ME. MOI. And I’m not going to replace the negative criticism that I used to get from others with self doubts and flogging on my own. Self flogging for lack of blogging?? That’s bananas!! I guess when you get used to hearing things a certain way, your brain steps in to perpetuate a habit. I’m VOWING to break the HABIT! If I’m not going to break it, since the standards I’ve set for myself have typically been higher than what others require, then I’m at least going to wear that habit high and proud on my head and use to catch some wind and fly like that nun. Yeah, Baby! That’s going to be me now – The Flying Nun! I’m still going to pursue the writing. It’s something I enjoy. I’m also reinstating the fitness goal to get back to the gym at least three times per week and make it a habit though my motivational songs would make the ladies of the cloth blush. That’s OK. The Flying Nun is second to none and cut from a different cloth – one that takes Eminem at high volumes to keep from throwing in the towel. I just don’t think that’s going to send anyone to Hell either especially since I’m not teaching it to my kids or playing it in church. Organ music just wouldn’t get me moving, you know?

I think I could totally pull this off! Replace the crown and catch some air with this cool new headgear?

Novice Nun & Novice Writer? TOTALLY the same.

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Bravo to ME & MY Reality! Wednesday, Aug 10 2011 


It’s been basically 2 1/2 months since I have watched cable TV. If you had told me that I’d have gone this long without my Bravo, E! or reality TV fix, I’d have called you all Pretty Little Liars. For most of the last decade, both daytime and evening television have revolved around kid shows with the only time available to watch my own shows being late-night. Even that only came in the last few years when we discovered the wonders of the DVR. As the kids grew, I graduated from Baby Einstein to Playhouse Disney and Noggin. PBS Kids taught me how to craft, like I really cared, but none of that was anything I’d ever sit and watch on my own. Actually, maybe I lie… I’ve TOTALLY caught myself doing something in a room with the TV on for background noise and looking up to see what kind of trouble Zack & Cody get themselves into next. Pathetic! This isn’t quite “The Suite Life” but it is sweet and the apartment transition has been eased by the antics of those Disney twins since the kids see & relate to how similar apartment living can be to hotel living without a big yard separating us from neighboring houses. It’s so social here! (Zero room service here though and I’m pretty sure the kids have tried. Bummer!)

My plan was to save up a little money once I got back to work to buy another digital box, the time killing boob tube recorder, and watch my guilty pleasures again once the kids went to bed. Maybe I don’t really need that box though! Back at the house, that’s what I did nearly EVERY SINGLE NIGHT; I caught up on my shows and would watch all the reality I could handle after everyone was asleep because sometimes the sensationalized reality made my own look better. Shocker!!! Most of the reality on TV while entertaining is pretty negative too. We still watch it though, don’t we, like flies on the wall and talk about the “characters” and the big hot messes that embarrass themselves on TV while preparing their tell-it-all books and spin-off shows. The Real Housewives are tons of fun to watch and have fabulous lives and friends yet inevitably drama ensues when friends call each other Moose and Hefer and pull each others hair out. (God!!! If you didn’t see THAT one you missed out!) Here’s my deal now though: My reality is pretty freaking entertaining ifIdosaysomyself!! At the end of each day now, I make an effort to replay my own day’s episodes of calm, hilarity, drama, TLC & occasional hair pulling violence from the kids. I like to sit on the balcony, listen to the crickets & frogs, and take down notes from the day. I’ve learned some lessons this summer:

  • I’m a Survivor dammit. I’ll outwit, outplay and outlast. I already knew that, but I remember thinking on May 21st – the day the wackjobs said world was “supposed” to end – that nothing is ever really a catastrophic as it seems. I had somehow thought my precious little world would end if I didn’t follow the big house/white picket fence/2.2 kids & a dog route that I had somehow believed provided security in every way. Life goes on and I’d rather be in control of my own strategy in this game. My “perfect” world didn’t end the week after that when I left either just because other people had predicted it would. Wackjobs… all of ’em!
  • My sisters and I have more fun together than the Kardashians and have never gotten arrested for ANYTHING. EVER. YET.
  • I’ll never be a Top Chef, but I can manage to cook with less supplies & gadgets than before. Good knives are important!! I wish, “Please pack your knives and leave” had been running through my head when I packed up and left.
  • I can still cook my own outstanding version of The Soup but I’m glad Joel McHale doesn’t have any clips from THAT meltdown.
  • There are enough inherited OCD traits contained in these 1100 square feet for episodes of Flipping Out every day yet my sense of humor is back so it’s usually easier to handle in spite of the close quarters.
  • I don’t need Million Dollar Decorators to make my kids happy with their rooms. We’ve conquered THAT issue with tape, thumbtacks, posters & candy wrappers. I would’ve been embarrassed for my friends to think I had such poor taste or discipline to have decorated my HOUSE that way. Who CARES!! My kids think their rooms are fancy and EXACTLY how they want them to be.
  • This little apartment looks like a giant art closet, and as my friend reminded me the other day, Tim Gunn would be proud of the way we Make It Work now!

YES! That is a Skittles wrapper taped to the wall because he likes Skittles. That switchplate is also made from a video game cover. Who needs a decorator??

  • I’ve laid low on the social scene I guess partly because the kids are out of school but also because I don’t need or want any drama. I’m stepping back when the drama ensues because I’m just at a point where I don’t have the energy to work very hard at maintaining friendships. I have FABULOUS friends but I’m learning to set better boundaries in order to keep them. Besides, our fairly solitary summer has let me feel a little more independent from EVERYONE without worrying who’s gonna check me, Boo?
  • Crabs are super delicious! I guess that’s not really a deep philosophical observation, but I love Deadliest Catch and I’ve eaten more this summer from our waters than any other. Totally shallow – both me AND the crabs!
  • America’s most DEFINITELY Got Talent! I LOVE the crazies on the stage, I REALLY do, but the three of us have taken some time to actually WRITE DOWN both the serious and crazy talents we recognize in each other. We entertain each other as well, and some day my little ones are going to venture out into the big wide world and share their talents that have been developed and nurtured. I do my best (though admittedly fail at times) to prepare them for the world stage. I can TOTALLY see an E! True Hollywood Story in the future.
  • MY reality CAN be better than scripted reality! Andy Cohen can keep me up to date once a week with the 411 from what I’ve missed on the tube while I pay attention to what goes on around ME. I don’t want to miss things as they happen LIVE especially with my kiddos. Sometimes it’s fun to sit back and just Watch What Happens LIVE.
  • We’re more a Modern Family than we ever were before. We can all be funny and wacky and dramatic and neurotic. We’re not going to be like Leave It To Beaver though; we never were and it’s exhausting trying to be something that you just simply aren’t. I guess the Christmas card will look a little different, but surely it won’t mean any less. My life is often like a soap opera, but I think I can manage to keep the drama in perspective. After all, my name is ERICA and I can do it for All My Children. 🙂

Something To Talk About Tuesday, Jul 19 2011 


Seven weeks ago I left my little “perfect” life that I had created and set out to do things on my own and in my own way. I left with an extra set of clothes for myself and the kids. The only other things I brought (other than makeup and a toothbrush of course) were my ancient laptop and my cute little monogrammed bag that held all of my tabbed and organized binders for my various volunteer committees. It was on my mind that in exactly one week I had a huge volunteer leadership retreat to pull off for some very talented women, and this was the first big event of the year for all of our committee chairs and board members to come together and plan. I had spent time and effort planning this with some really great gals and did not want to disappoint them, or more importantly myself, by dropping the ball. I had a Camping theme for the big event and had coordinated other people to present their ideas and activities around it. When I planned the theme and activities months before however, I hadn’t ACTUALLY planned on camping out at other people’s houses when this all went down. HA! Maybe they would just all think I was some sort of method actor who had to get into character by camping out with my kids for inspiration. Geez! Who was going to know about my recent hike from home and start fishing for answers. I was nervous, but I kept this old movie in my mind the whole time.

Does anyone remember that movie, Something to Talk About? The fabulously neurotic, Grace has a marriage which is falling apart, volunteer commitments and a family business to run and hilariously struggles to keep all of the balls she is juggling in the air.

I have a cookbook to put out, and a daughter to raise, and the God damn winter Grand Prix. And I just don’t have time for the nervous breakdown I deserve, so please, don’t ask me to stop and think! -Grace

Whoa! I didn’t have the whole cookbook thing since I’m not on THAT committee this year, but I was trying to pull together my big retreat for the year, manage the family business and raise my kids while being a little bit center stage as my marriage fell apart. When I left, I didn’t even tell my best friends, much less the glorious group of women that I would be facing exactly one week after my surprise flight. What if they all stared at me and actually knew everything already through the grapevine and were actually WAITING for me to fall apart as if EVERYONE would do that like they don’t have their own lives to lead and struggles to face?!?! Awesome!!!!! Just a few minutes into indulging that fantasy I had just proved myself to be conceited too by thinking anyone would CARE. Ohmygod! What if I lost my mind and stood up in front of everyone and had a super-massive-stress-induced-temporary-loss-of-sanity like Grace does and started pointing out flaws in everyone else’s marriages?!?! That would most CERTAINLY not be graceful. Or, maybe, what if, I dunno, I vomited in front of everyone when words tried to come out?? Even worse, what if I cried. Hard to believe I guess for most people, but crying in front of everyone would have been the worst case scenario for me. It would have shown some vulnerability that I was struggling to keep at arm’s length. Isn’t that CRAZY!?! I WOULD HAVE CHOSEN TO VOMIT PUBLICLY!!! I didn’t barf, though that would’ve been funny, and I think the event was a success thanks to a lot of great people. The parallels with the movie have continued though.

Somewhere in the movie, Grace’s mother tells her to stop making a spectacle of herself and to just accept how things commonly are. Return to life as normal and don’t set her expectations too high. Don’t cause any waves, right? Don’t make anyone else feel uncomfortable or God forbid awkward around her when they see her. She should DEFINITELY not question her place in life lest someone else feel inspired to do the same.

You’re telling me that if I just eat shit politely with a knife and fork and learn to swallow the handfuls of bullshit I’m served, then everything will be A-Okay? – Grace

Guess what I think? Eating SHIT makes you fat. It’s true! I should know. It works in two ways. First, listening to everyone around you tell you what you should want and should believe and should allow starts to get a little mind numbing. After a while, you quit being numb when life just doesn’t work that way for you and you get sad. Numb is easier than sad any day, so wine and another late night lonely dinner work to numb some people. Then you just start to feel like shit yourself and take the easy route… right through the drive through when everyone is hungry because it’s easier than listening to the kids complain about your culinary capabilities. Billy’s mom must actually feed her kids nuggets and jelly beans for every meal because the way I get looked at with my SOUP can NOT be normal, and THAT lady never looks tired. Before you know it, everyone is eating crap – both from the “truths” we’re fed by other people AND the fast and fried food that takes less effort – and we’re all FAT.

Let me tell you what I won’t do anymore; eat the shit that I’m served from other people around me even if it’s sugar-coated. A glass of wine to wash down the taste isn’t going make it any tastier either, and I’m pretty sure about that now. That’s the worst kind of crap to take, isn’t it? I mean, it’s all cleverly disguised, but it still stinks to high Heaven no matter what fancy china you choose! If you invite me over to a sugar-coated turd, bringing out the china just ends up making feel awkward and inferior anyway like I’m going to mess up and use the wrong fork if I even pretend to taste your delicacy. Please don’t get me wrong though. It really isn’t my place to stop YOU from eating the unpalatable. I will mind my manners and let you eat without saying a cross word, but someone please tell me how in the world am I supposed to trust you and your ideas about what is good and healthy when you’ve just eaten a turd the size of Texas and gone back for more! Now you are LITERALLY full of it! And your breath stinks too. And when you start to get all gassy and full of hot air by telling me everything you know to be true, I’m going to see it for what it is: a shitty burp. Go away and come back another day because lucky for me, my mama taught me that the only time it’s acceptable to eat excrement is when you’ve been in an earthquake and have to lay in the rubble waiting for rescuers. She meant that literally too, so your “perfect” marriage and “perfect” world crumbling down around you don’t count.

People are always going to find something to talk about, and the Bird People never run out of things to say. Something else will come along though, and I KNOW it’s gotta be more scandalous than me. I’m just a girl in a new little castle with bunnies and birds and a couple of dwarfs to entertain me. Here’s hoping that if this fairy tale ever hits the big screen, Julia Roberts herself will play me because SOMEHOW her movies keep ending up in my blog! Someone should call her. 🙂

Miracles & Luck Tuesday, Jul 12 2011 


It’s been about six weeks now since we moved into our little castle – long enough for us to get acclimated and learn to stand on our own feet. We passed a couple of milestones just the last couple of days. I’m not big on numbers. As a matter of fact I HATE numbers, and I am the very last person on the planet you would ever want balancing your checkbook. I’m not a big gambler either, though I live in an area where a lot is tied to the gaming industry. From what I know, there are certain combinations of numbers that are considered lucky. 7 and 11 are usually lucky numbers while 13 has always been considered unlucky. There is a wealth of information for anyone interested in the whole superstition, but the actual term for the phobia or fear of Friday the 13th is friggatriskaidekaphobia. I don’t believe in lucky or unlucky numbers but then again I’ve never won the jackpot either. I do know this though, anyone who trusts their life to dumb luck or a crap shoot is a friggan idiot. I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in signs. And I believe in Miracles as well, ESPECIALLY when Miracles can serve as a sign. When I left six weekes ago, I really had no idea where this journey would take me, but someone once told me that life is about the journey not the destination. If I’d have known where I was going I might not have seen the signs along the way.

Anyone who was following the blog a few weeks ago will probably remember Our Little Miracle. She doesn’t know it, but I learned a lot from watching and speaking with Miracle. She was my little cheerleader, literally. I moved out on my own uncertain of what the future would bring, but I found a little Miracle next door. More than once, she brought out a pom-pom or doll to show me and never just talked about herself. She asked a LOT of questions and freely gave her own answers and advice whether we asked for it or not. One day when she and my son were having popsicles outside, the boy complained about how hot it was and that his popsicle was dripping everywhere. The girl responded matter-of-factly, “Suck it up!” He literally sucked up the melting juice, but I think she meant for him to quit his whining or take his pity party somewhere else.

On her balcony cheering me on...

Miracle told me that her favorite doll is Tiana from The Princess and The Frog. Of course it is! All the little girls, and even the boys around here love that movie. The film is set in New Orleans and just down the bayou where the characters talk like we do, though not all of us practice voodoo. The story is different from most fairy tales though, and that is exactly why I think it is so great. Fairy tales evolve over time and change their cultural relevance, and the Disney version of the tale is the one that holds the strongest meaning to me. Unlike the early versions where a princess kisses a frog who then turns into her prince and they live happily ever after, the Disney animated version shows a hard-working Tiana in control of her own destiny. It was when Tiana chose to try the easy route to fulfill her dreams by kissing the frog that she found herself lost in the swamp. I think I know a lot of girls around here my age who could relate to that! And guess what – I wouldn’t want to be the poor prince responsible for fulfilling someone else’s dreams either. That’s the kind of pressure that bubbles up and pops on the surface of a seemingly stagnant swamp. You’ve got problems and troubles like the rest of us? Well as Miracle would say, “Suck it up.” We make our own choices, and we live by the consequences. When we make a bad decision, life’s not over. Paddle yourself out of the swamp. You’re welcome to just sit there on your lily pad sulking and waiting for someone to come along and pull you out too, but I’m willing to bet my own lily white you-know-what that you’ll be waiting for a while. There are no guarantees that what comes along will be a prince, and if he is who’s to say he’ll want to carry you. Our little Miracle moved away this weekend, but miracles always come and go don’t they? I think I’m strong enough to navigate the swamps and bayous around here on my own now anyway.

Miracle with her Tiana doll from The Princess & The Frog

Yesterday was 7/11. Those are supposed to be lucky numbers, but 13 years ago on 7/11 my dad died. I wrote my first blog post, My Hail Mary, for Facebook in the wee hours of the morning of Friday the 13th, and it was good for me. Maybe the whole numbers/luck thing is backwards which would explain my backwards figures in the checkbook too where I am most certainly NOT lucky. Maybe even God forced my hand, and I’m finally taking charge of my own destiny. Either way you roll the dice, the only safe bet you have is to rely on yourself. How can anyone else count on you if you can’t even do it yourself. I hope my kids at least take that lesson from my fairy tale regardless of how it turns out, and I’ll take notes about my signs along the way for them to read and learn from later.

Walt Disney

My Cinderella Story Saturday, Jun 18 2011 


The symbolism lately has been all around me. Maybe my eyes are just open to it now, or maybe people, places and things are put into your life at a certain time and place for a reason. In my case, right now, I think it’s a little of both. I moved out on my own, flew the coop so to speak, and discovered a little neighbor named Miracle next door and a little yard full of frogs, turtles, rabbits and birds. I often jokingly refer to myself as a princess, but for real ya’ll!! I’m getting dangerously close to becoming the real life Snow White or Cinderella with all my weird little creature friends. They aren’t actually talking to me though or sewing my dresses, YET. And I’m SMACK DAB in the middle of the city here – NOT on some country retreat. I TOTALLY have my own castle here!

The morning my movers were set to arrive, I came by the apartment to turn on the A/C for the guys. Well, maybe I came by to turn it on for me… less sweaty guys = less odiferous guys. When I arrived, a little brown rabbit was sitting on the walkway below the stairs to my apartment. For those who know me, you will NOT be surprised to hear that my first reaction was OOOH!! Photo Opp for facebook!! The rabbit let me walk right up to it and snap its picture while it simply looked at me. By the time I got upstairs it HIT me, and I Googled it to be certain… Rabbits symbolize rebirth, new life & new beginnings. And here was mine. Validation through a bunny.

As the week went on, I sat on my balcony drinking coffee every morning and would just watch my bunny. Sometimes he was inside the fence. Other times he was out just beyond it. But he was always there. The kids got to know & watch him at dusk a few times and named him Thumper. I would’ve preferred Roger and tried to entice them with a demonstration of the dance, but the moves I busted failed to win them over. Thumper it is then. One morning with my coffee, I saw a group of birds swooping at Thumper and tormenting him. He simply paid no mind to their annoyance and carried on with his business. “Bob & weave, little bunny… There ya go!!!” That’s when it dawned on me; some people are like the birds. And those annoying birds are just doing what mockingbirds naturally do – mock and tease. I consciously made the decision to be like the bunny. But I’m going to be like Roger and carry on with my own Hip Hop dance when the birds start to swoop in on ME. Maybe I’ll even vamp it up from time to time and throw a little Jessica Rabbit in there as well. A girl’s gotta live and all.

As luck would have it, and to my friends’ amusement, this is the point in the story where The Birds gathered, re-grouped and focused their attention on me. YES, ME. Who would’ve thought that my new peaceful morning ritual could take such a treacherous turn. Much to my amazement the ring leader bird swooped down onto my balcony railing and squeezed his oily looking feathered self into a little cubby of bars and simply GLARED while his brother Daryl and his other brother Daryl took backup positions from the gutter. Swear to God his eyes were red. Maybe. Or blood shot like he and his band of brothers were still shaking off the effects of a wild bender from the night before. I don’t know, but that’s how I’m picturing him now with his feathers all a ruffle. My first instinct was to close my eyes. After all, perhaps I simply had not had enough caffeine to shock my system into gear yet, and I was simply hallucinating, right?? WRONG. So I did what any other normal person would do. First I snapped a quick picture for facebook, THEN I attempted to shoo him away. My exit was compromised as it was THEN that the foul fowl decided to take up perch between me and the door… on my sweet little thumbprint stamped flower pots that my children made for me!! What was left to do? Nothing I could think of but to document and video the assault as I made a mad dash to the door eventually shutting and LOCKING it behind me for good measure should the bird have THUMBS and be able to actually turn a knob. I escaped, but the bird got the last laugh when he CRAPPED on my railing as my kids watched me cower and run for cover. I then became the BUTT of jokes for the day as I had posted about my escapades on facebook for everyone to see. That’s OK. It was funny, and I’m left with video clips as evidence of the assault.

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