Thursday, September 30, 2010

more things to love about LA

Time: 9:30 pm last night
Place: Mandrake Bar
Who: Matt, Me, and our younger freer child-less friend

Friend: "I actually have a new job with this crazy man."

Us: "What do you mean?"

Friend: "Well I'm his assistant-"

Us: "What do you mean assistant? What do you do?"

Friend: "Well he's starting this company, and I think he thinks that- I'm like his partner or something. He keeps saying 'we're starting this company from the ground up' - you would absolutely not believe the things that he says. Its--"

Us: "Wait, what do you DO?"

Friend: "I keep him company. I listen to him talk, basically."

Us: "You don'"

Friend: "Well, he doesn't have any clients yet."

Us: "Oh. And so you just...listen to him talk?

Friend: "Pretty much."

Us: "About what?"

Friend: "Well, anything really. We'll stand in the middle of his apartment, and he'll just sort of point out where stuff should go, and then talk about himself. And then I'll sort of suggest we go out and get the stuff he wants, and then he decides not to go after all. That's sort of his thing- he'll have me make all these plans to go somewhere, and then at the last minute he decides not to."

Us: "Like where?"

Friend: "Well, you won't believe this. He had me make all these travel arrangements to Detroit. To see his family. And then he reconsiders. I have booked the whole thing. He's stroking his chin. And then says 'Nah. I can't do that. The unemployment in Detroit."

Us: "The...unemployment?"

Friend: "Mm-mm. He says: 'Well, I can't just show up in Detroit, Mr successful-head-of-this-business-we're-starting-from-the-ground-up, doing so well, and just shove that in everyone's face. Not with the unemployment.'"

Us: (slack jawed)

Friend: "I think I have to write these things down."

Us: "Is he putting the moves on you?"

Friend: "No- no, he has a girlfriend. I went with him to help chose an engagement ring."

Oh man.

I remember before I met Matt, before we were parents, I seemed to myself now- so young. And somehow found myself in all sorts of weird situations, many with my friend Halina, that typified a certain kind of male-female dynamic. I don't mean dating wise necessarily. It would be in an audition, out to dinner, grabbing a Balance Bar off the shelf at a mini mart, sipping diet cokes at the Chateau Marmont, wherever. Its something that feels very Hollywood to me. Some guy with a dream and he wants someone (usually young and innocent) to witness his awesomeness. To be complicit in his dream. That might be the closest to reality it gets. Its something that I have a feeling I probably won't see first hand again. When you are toting a toddler around, you don't seem to have the innocence or the time to be the (sometimes paid) audience for all the little movies going on across this city.

My friend was still there. I could hear about it in stories.

I was a little melancholy as we drove home from the bar, figuring the math for how much to pay the babysitter. I pumped up the KIIS FM and watched the streetlights shoot past.

things to love about LA

Matt and I used to eat burritos all the time. It started when I was pregnant, and needed the extra, um, nutrients. Then I was breastfeeding and learned I need even MORE um, nutrients, so our lovely habit continued. Then the breastfeeding started tapering off and we were in Toronto all summer. Not exactly a hot spot for authentic Mexican cuisine. And Matt and I noticed we looked a little slimmer. So we tried as hard as we could to say no to our lovely vegetarian burrito lunches Today the stars lined up perfectly: Akiva was at Grandma's, the weather has been HOT (you just crave cheese and spice), and Matt noticed a new taco place to try...
It was SO GOOD! (look at those chips- so light and tasty, on those classic melamine plates)

except this guy was staring down at me my whole meal:

Mmm. Boy we missed LA.

Monday, September 27, 2010

time to surf

It is incredibly hot here in LA and so we are taking the afternoon off to go to the beach and we are bringing my foam long board so we can attempt toddler surfing with Akiva. Lately when we go to the beach, he will run over to the surfers and try to play with their boards. I can't believe he is old enough to even be interested in surfing. 21 months. Growing up happens so quickly.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

all nighter

Have you ever gone through a break up that threw you into such a state that you couldn't eat, you couldn't sleep, or if you could, sleep was the only relief from the one and only topic of conversation you were capable of with everyone you encountered?
Our good friend went through something like this a few months ago and is doing pretty well. Because we have been out of the country we had major catching up to do with some people, such as with this newly single friend.
Last night after Akiva had been put down, I lit some sweet smelling candles for the house and cracked open a bottle of wine. Our friend was finally coming over to tell us the whole tale of their break up.
Think back to how these stories start. They start pretty early on in the relationship, no? Our friends had been together for over 8 years. We were ready for a long talk.
About forty five minutes into the story of what went wrong, I heard a little muffled wail. Akiva has been sleeping through the night for a pretty long time, but if he wakes in the middle of the night, its always around the 4-5am hour. Never early on. Matt and I shared a quizzical glance and refocused on the story. It was such a sad story.
But no, Akiva was awake and demanding me to come hug him. He was very upset, uncharacteristically so. Squirmy. Or as we sometimes call it, squirmy wormy.
I returned to the living room after Akiva settled.
"Squirmy wormy" I explained. "Teething" said Matt. Indeed- the signs were all there today. I returned to give him a little squirt of cherry tylenol and then back to the wine and candle light.
Our friend had politely waited for me to return. New details I couldn't believe. It was bad. Matt and I were wide eyed.
Akiva cried out again for me. I sort of apologized to our friend. He was articulating some excruciatingly painful memories and insights and it was pretty awkward to have to stop in the middle of a sentance and... wait. I checked in on Akiva and soothed him. How long does it take for tylenol to kick in?
And back to the story. For about twenty minutes. "mama. mama. mama come here."
It hadn't been like this - a seeming all-nighter- since he was a newborn. The next few hours went something like this:
Story story story. (soo sad!)
Akiva. (soo sad!) rock rock rock.
Story story story. (soo sad!)
Akiva. (soo sad!) rock rock rock
Story. (soo painful. SO painful)
Akiva (soo desperate! so SO painful)

and on and on for HOURS until around one am we just brought Akiva out to hang out with us. It was the only thing that got him to stop crying. He lay, bundled, on top of me, the candle light flickering in his red eyes. He listened to the end of the sad love story which had unravelled into disbelief, betrayal, and deep heart ache. Akiva gently repeated the name of our friend's ex. We all sighed.

It almost seemed like Akiva realized life has a lot more agony in store. Maybe this particular night, this particular tooth poking through, wasn't so bad in comparison?

Or maybe not. As soon as our friend left Akiva started wailing again.

Sometimes it is just so so hard to be human.

Monday, September 20, 2010

on the road again

This blog was supposed to be about mamahood in LA, but it seems we have been everywhere but LA.
Back before the baby, before pregnancy, when I was oh so young and spontaneous, there was a life I can at times recall that involved a lot of sleep...a lot of going out...a lot of sleep...and making friends in the crazy loft building Matt and I lived in. There were really wonderful people who moved downtown into lofts during the loft boom. One of those friends got pregnant (in the same loft building!) right after me, and also decided she and her man had to move ASAP out of this loft building - I mean, we were living in Skid Row, actually in Skid Row. We woke up each morning to piles of human feces and rivers of pee on our sidewalk. This is true. Seriously. Things had to change with a baby on the way. Matt and I moved towards the beach, and Eryn and Jeff moved... to Paradise.
We went to visit them this weekend. Our dog had spent all summer with them in Willits so we went to fetch her.

There was an orchard, a garden, barns with things like a drum kit set up inside...

The kids could run free in the fresh air...

I mean, they couldn't even get internet where they lived. They didn't even live in a TOWN at all- it was 7 acres of rolling hillside outside of Willits. There were no radio waves, cell phone waves, smog, cyber bullying, over chlorinated water, over contaminated air, lurking pedophiles- (but maybe a meth lab down the dirt road?). We had to stop and do a Trader Joe's run on the way up there for chrissakes. I think they missed the charm of exchanging money for food, since they have a huge garden with a vineyard- Akiva and their son Lars picked bunches of grapes right off the vine if their tummies rumbled.
There were mountains of zucchini and tomatoes. Tomatillos and pumpkins and apples and watermelons and corn and sage and lemon cucumbers and lettuce and blueberries and pears and basil and cilantro and parsley and on and on all on the way or ready for picking.

It was parenthood paradise. Matt and I have been doing RIE classes with Akiva since he was a baby and part of this philosophy encourages babies and toddlers to spend time exploring their world without interference from the parents. Lars had a whole huge fenced in garden he would toddle around in, accompanied by two kittens and our dog, while Eryn plucked ripe organic home grown tomatoes for his snack. She would find him under a grape vine hugging the dog or something, the kitties watching perched from an apple tree. I mean it wasn't even real or something. We had no words to tell Eryn and Jeff how beautiful it was, except some lame comments about how quiet it was to sleep, how great to have 5 kinds of swings in your backyard, how lovely and juicy the lemon cucumbers were, how great the blackberry crisp (I could go on)etc. It was more than beautiful and nice and delicious. There was a solid connection to life, to our planet that they had given themselves and their child. And time and room to breathe. A child could really experience a sense of freedom. (But not necessarily bodily safety- I mean, snakes and poison oak...)
Of course I am romanticizing and glorifying the pastoral. But I think in this day and age it is very deserving of that.
And by the way our dog didn't want to leave.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The lifestyle of a west coast tot. Weekdays in Laguna Beach...

and weekends in Palm Springs...

(its nice to have cousins visiting and friends having birthdays so Akiva can relax in style, or in nothing at all!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Than Zero

I have been thinking about recording my experiences as a mom for a while, as if this were a completely novel idea. But once I realized how many women with babies were blogging it just seemed preposterous that I should add to the huge canon of mama blogs already available. I mean, there are just so many, and so many fascinating views into the wide world of raising babes!
But here I am, an actress, mommy, wife, screenwriter, and now blogger about being an actress mommy wife screenwriter blogger. It's happened.
If you are in the majority of Americans and the world who has no idea who I am and you are curious, you can go here
I moved to Los Angeles in my 20's and really my only experience of this city before that would be a childhood of watching "The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air" and reading "Less than Zero". I can tell you I was mighty star struck when I became acquaintances with Alfonso Ribiero (Carlton!) and his wife. And when I met my husband, who grew up in Santa Monica, I assumed his childhood was high school parties snorting cocaine off the coffee tables in his friend's producer parents' mansions in The Colony. Not the most accurate picture. The edgiest thing I think he did was jump off his condo's balcony into a swimming pool.
But still I struggle with the stereotype of what LA is and how to raise a child here. I obsessively watch documentaries and read articles about what it means to grow up online, to have more hours of homework than hours in school, of how tutors are rampant in a culture of ultra competitive college admissions, of three year olds with detectible levels of stress, and consumerism and marketing to children that far far exceeds anything I dealt with as a kid. Matt, my husband and I joke about home school because it's hard, especially in LA to keep those crazy influences at bay... ah, my childhood of riding my bike around by myself, no helmet, my mother having no idea where I was for an hour or so at a time- those days are gone. It seems like a lot of work to find ways just to raise a happy, healthy, smart, low stress person with a good head on his shoulders whose life doesn't revolve around material possessions, sexting, and gorditas.
But that is what this blog will be about- a little record of raising our lovely son Akiva in a pretty extreme city. Welcome!