Monday, May 4, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Blocks (not of the building variety)

Sex and Suburbia, Blocks (not of the building variety)
By Julie Stankowski

So, what is a writer to do when she has major “writer’s block?” Continuously trying to write seems a colossal waste of time. Everything that comes out of my mind and onto the computer is stupid and boring and senseless. I can spew it. I just can’t write it down. I’ve tried the chocolate solves all problems cure. Stuff thy face with M&Ms and thy head shall be cleared? Yeah right. Well, obviously, my writer’s block continues. And unfortunately, this block has spread like wildfire throughout my entire being.

I apparently am also suffering from “housecleaning block.” Never knew there was such a thing. But there is. I have it. Now I know. I put something away, two more things pop out. I go through the mail, but the next day, I get a pile of mail even bigger and the task is never-ending. My house is a disaster. Yet, I think I spend more time in my laundry room than in my bed. You know how they say you should get a really comfortable bed because you spend half your life sleeping? Well, then, by the same token, I think I should have a Gucci laundry machine that spits out diamonds every time I throw in a load and have a burly masseuse named Svetlana permanently camped out in my laundry room. Dirty clothes in my house seem to multiply like bunnies.

Is “organizer’s block” the same as “housecleaning block?” I think they’re separate and each deserves its own category. The organizing thing. Why can’t I get this down already? It’s like a disease for which there is no cure. Once disorganized, always disorganized. But why? My parents have always been so organized and I just don’t understand why that gene was not passed down to me. My level of mass disorganization is embarrassing. It’s a wonder I can find my own tooth brush in the morning. And it’s not like I don’t try to fix this problem. I do. I really do. I think about it all the time. I stare at the piles of stuff and think about how to fix it. But the hours spent staring and thinking does not an organized home make. The solution always seems so close, yet it remains so far away. And for some unbeknownst reason, I am in the midst of my 41st year in a row suffering from “organizer’s block.” Horrible.

Let’s see. I also have “dieter’s block,” “exerciser’s block” and “chef’s block.” I hope I don’t actually turn into a block. But I’m not really that worried about it because my body is currently too round to become a block any time in the near future.

What the hell isn’t blocked? My mouth, for sure isn’t blocked. I can eat and drink with no problem. Always. I never seem to get “mouth block,” even though I would welcome it. And I can nag and complain and whine just fine. In fact, I have chronic oral diarrhea; I just can’t seem to get my thoughts down on paper. Which is too bad for my husband because if I can’t write it, I say it, to him, constantly. My wallet isn’t blocked either. I wish it was. “Wallet block” would be so much healthier than the blocks I have. I wouldn’t have to worry about my husband having a coronary when the bills arrive. And there would be more money in my kids’ college funds. But I’m pretty sure I don’t have it; I was at the preschool boutique the other day and - - well, let’s just say the vendors were very happy to see me.

Okay, I’m tired of talking about blockages. At my age, you never know what will get blocked so it is probably best not to keep repeating the word ad nauseum. I will change the subject. But I have “writer’s block” and nothing else to talk about. Oops, I said it again. I think I’ll call the doctor tomorrow and do one of those high-colonic body cleansing things (is it gross? I’ve never done it) and maybe that will help clear the passageways and un-block all my blocks. If not, it will at least give me something cool to write about. Or, if the blockage remains, to talk about. A big, “I’m sorry” to my husband in advance if that is the way it goes down (so to speak).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Green Eggs and Ham, reinterpreted by a kvetchy mommy

Sex and Suburbia, Green Eggs and Ham, reinterpreted by a kvetchy mommy
By Julie Stankowski

I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am. I do not like the “aging” thing. I think it has turned me into a king. Oh, excuse me, not a king, a Buddha. But Buddha doesn’t rhyme with anything. Except, oh, woo-hoo-da, I am now a Buddha! And it’s kind of rude-ha. And it puts me in a bad mood-ha. And I don’t look so good in the nude-ha.

But, here’s the deal, Sam. I do not like nude bras with underwire. I might as well be wearing a rubber tire. But that’s a problem, Sam you see, for aging women like me, whose bellies are getting bigger and whose boobies are getting saggier. We do not like that Sam I am. Damn, damn, damn! Because, Sam, without the bra, the boobies are in a constant state of rest upon the belly. And it seems our bodies are turning into jelly. I looked at a tiny Buddha statue sitting on my desk and thought, “Oh, shit, that’s me!” And it’s not very pretty. In fact, I’m afraid if I don’t wear a bra one day, the boobies and the belly will simply meld together and become one. And that for sure would not be fun. Jesus, Sam! I do not like who I now am!

And how about those wrinkles, Sam? They show up every night with a big ‘ol wham! Do we go with the notion that wrinkles are good, part of who you are and what your life’s been so far; or with the notion that wrinkles are bad and while altering our face may be sad, we nevertheless seek a special disappearing potion, or the number of a great dermatologist or plastic surgeon? Out, out damn wrinkles. What do you think, Sam? Should I fix it, or stay who I am?

And Sam, what about those little pains and aches that magically appear when we awake? What the hell is that, Sam? I thought those were reserved for old people, man. And I didn’t think I was old yet. But you do, I bet. What happened to the theme: 40 is the new 30? Were you not told that by the little birdie?

And to be honest, Sam, I have a horrible neurosis. It’s called the Woody-Allen-I-think-I-am-dying-with-each-ache-or-pain psychosis. And Sam, this neurosis is not okay. It freaks me out every day. Can you please take it away? So I may live in peace today? And not think that a headache means a brain tumor, a backache means imminent death and a Buddha belly means some sort of serious ovarian problem. Sam, is that too much to ask? Too tough a task? If I didn’t think you could do it, I wouldn’t ask.

So, to summarize, Mr. Sam, I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am. I do not like big bellies and fat. I do not like looking like Saturday Night Live’s Pat. I do not like when boobies sag. I do not like being on the rag. I do not like getting older. It makes me feel like I’m cheese getting moldier. I do not like the wrinkles on my face. It makes me think I’m losing the race. I do not like yucky cellulite. On my tush, it just doesn’t look right. I do not like stray hairs on my neck. What the heck? And I do not like thinning hair. It doesn’t look glamorous with what I wear. I do not like being on a diet. I’d rather be standing in the middle of a riot. I do not like to exercise. I’d rather be eating homemade pies. I do not like my hypochondriacitis. It needs to go away or I’ll get arthritis. Or meningitis. Or go-crazy-itis. Are you getting the picture, Sam? I am starting to forget who I really am.

So I am asking please, Sam I am, to help me embrace aging with grace. Can you help me, Sam? To enjoy who I now am? And not fret and have no regret? And love my body without holding a hot toddy? And to look in the mirror and see, what appears to be, an even more beautiful me. Despite my wrinkles and frequent tinkles? If you can do this, Sam I am, I will make you a special ham. It will not be green. It will not include eggs. Instead, my Sam, this ham will be made of canned spam. And for your taste bud pleasure, I will add strawberry jam. And sauté it with a little fat-free Pam. And I will make like Emeril and add a “bam!” And even throw in a candied yam. All to reward you with a new kind of ham. And to thank you, Mr. Sam I am, for helping this aging lady feel more like a baby and less like an old-maidy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Citymommy interviews Sex and Suburbia

Hi all!

Citymommy just posted an interview with me about Sex and Suburbia. Check it out at, an informative site with lots of "mommy" info and tips, both in general and in the particular city you live! Then add us both to your favorites!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Vacation Vixens

Sex and Suburbia, Vacation Vixens
By Julie Stankowski

I’m all about cruising. Cruise ship cruising. From L.A. (where I live) to anywhere. Don’t care where the ship goes, as long as I don’t have to fly to get there. I will no longer have to deal with airports and airplanes and mean people taking a small snow globe out of my bag and throwing away my little present for my daughter because it probably contained more than 3 ounces of fluid, which I might use to commit a terrorist attack on my airplane home from Mexico. I will no longer spend 3 hours on the telephone with American Airlines trying to use the millions of frequent flier miles we have accumulated because regardless of how far in advance I call, there are never any frequent flier seats available to wherever the hell I’m going. I will no longer spend an entire day getting four overstuffed suit cases and four ultra-heavy carry-ons to and from my destination (which is typically only a two-hour flight away). I will no longer have to perform a strip-tease act taking off my shoes, my belt, my jacket and my jewelry just to get to my gate. Yes, I have had enough with air travel. Boat travel, here I come.

Nevertheless, whether traveling by boat or by air, I would like to introduce my fantastic idea for a new business: The Vacation Vixens. I think I have come up with a great business plan for some entrepreneurial mom out there (definitely not me, but my mom could run the business with her eyes closed). No need to go to law school, get an MBA or even have a college degree for this profession. A Vacation Vixen knows her craft inherently. As if she was born with the knowledge and sense to succeed at this career. Vacation Vixens are travel experts who know how to pack properly, organize appropriately and happily stroll through an airport as if it were an easy-breezy Cover Girl day. Vacation Vixens can handle all of their clients’ needs in creating a stress-free vacation, from planning and preparation to getting there to returning home. They greatly reduce the need for the traveling mom to indulge in too much alcohol and Ativan before, during and after the trip. Yes, I think the market is wide open for Vacation Vixens to become wealthy, wealthy people. I would hire one.

The target demographic: disorganized moms who, after 40+ years of living, breathing and traveling, still cannot figure out how to appropriately plan and pack for a family vacation. Why is this phenomenon so difficult to master? Well, apparently, an educated, generally got-it-together mom like myself cannot, despite sincere efforts, figure out how to go on a damn vacation without over packing, fumbling through the airport trying to find the passports in her humumgo bag with 5 million things to keep the kids occupied and having to do at least ten loads of laundry when arriving home because she packed two outfits a day for everyone, which were never worn, but nonetheless need to be washed because of the tropical suntan lotion smell that seems to have permeated all the suitcases.

Having just returned from celebrating the 12th anniversary of my 29th birthday in Mexico with my husband, kids and parents, I am awestruck by my mother’s ability to travel successfully. She typically has only one suitcase which is never over the airline weight limit (mine is over every time and I have to juggle clothes and shoes from suitcase to suitcase until we get it right and don’t have to pay a $1,000 fine for an extra 3 pounds of clothing). She has a small rolling carry-on bag which appears as easy to maneuver as her own arm. She wears a necklace-type thing on her neck which houses her passport, airline ticket and a pen for her to fill out customs forms etc. I used to make fun of her for this - - didn’t think it was very cool or Carrie Bradshaw-ish. I now eat my words. On this last trip, I was so jealous of her un-cool, un-Carrie-like necklace (which I had previously told her only old people use) that I really wished I had one! And another thing, as light as my mom traveled, she magically pulled out any strange thing anyone needed at any given time. My daughter said her stomach hurt and my mom just whipped out a special chewing gum made to ease stomach pain (I didn’t even know that existed!). Someone had a ripped nail, my mom pulled out a clipper. I spilled red wine on my shirt, out came the Tide-To-Go Pen. Where does she stash all of this stuff? I have a gazillion bags that are ridiculously heavy and I can never find a goddamn thing that would benefit anyone. Well, I take that back. The marshmallow peeps always seemed to be at my fingertips and would always placate one kid or the other. But, still . . . .

Unless I am the only loser who has yet to figure out how to travel practically, I recommend hiring a Vacation Vixen. (And by the way, Mom, I think you should start this business!) The Vacation Vixen will assist you from the get-go. She will magically get the airlines to accept your frequent flier mileage, saving you thousands of dollars right off the bat. She will also make sure you have the best seats on the plane, with the most leg-room and in close vicinity to exit doors in the event of an emergency. Or, if you prefer and have the funds, she will arrange for a private jet. She will assist you in canceling the mail, the newspaper and any other services you will not need while on vacation. She will make arrangements for Fido and make sure he/she is enjoying a pet Shangri-La while you are gone. Fido will be picked up and dropped off exactly when you request and will be fully cleaned and groomed when she gets home.

The Vacation Vixen will pack your entire family’s suitcases and carry-ons, weeks in advance so you need not stress. She will arrange for your bags to be at your destination prior to your arrival via FedEx (or something like that) so that you need not worry about losing luggage and you need not haul what seems like an army platoon’s bags along with you through airports, security, shuttles, etc. She will make sure that your luggage contains every possible thingy or gadget you may need in the event of an emergency or a child throwing a temper tantrum, or simply throwing up. She will also ensure that your lipstick, gum and passports are easily found. She will arrange limousine transportation on all ends where there will always be a tuxedoed man holding a card with your family name. She will arrange for the resort at which you are staying to wash and dry clean all clothes just prior to your departure. Those same folks will pack those clothes for you in such a manner that when you arrive at your home via your personal limousine, your baggage will be awaiting you at your front door and will be ready to open with clothes that go right into the closet and right into the drawers, no washing machine required.

And the Vacation Vixen will also have hired and supervised an out-of-this-world cleaning crew to make sure your house is in tip-top shape when you get home. They also will have cleaned out your refrigerator and cabinets and stocked the same with fresh milk, bagels and cream cheese and produce so that you are completely set to get on with your life, as if you had never been gone in the first place.

There are only a few things the Vacation Vixen won’t do: foot the bill; give you a massage when you get home and redo your manicure/pedicure that got thrashed on the beach during vacation. But, you know how you always need a vacation from your vacation? Well, the Vacation Vixen has an “in” at all of the Adults-Only Four Seasons, One and Onlys and Ritz Carltons out there and will hook you up! Worth it, huh? Well, I just want to say to my mom, “Mom, if you do start this business, which clearly I believe will bring in loads of moolah landing you a spot on the Forbes top ten most successful female entrepreneurs, please leave it to me in your will. Although I am completely incapable of independently acting as a Vacation Vixen, I am quite capable of making sure I hire the right people to carry on your legacy!”

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Hormone Monsters

Sex and Suburbia, Hormone Monsters
By Julie Stankowski

Ummm, where do I start? My life is a sitcom, when I am in the viewing the glass as half full mood. Or, my life is a horror movie, when I am in the glass half empty mood. These days, I never know what mood I’ll be in when I wake up. I don’t think I have any control over it. I think my body has been taken over by the hormone monsters. I think that when I fall asleep each night, the hormone monsters gather in some imaginary saloon somewhere, have a few beers, play a little poker and then decide if they are going to bless me with the happy hormones or curse me with the horrible, yucky, hot-flashy hormones. The hormone monsters do this each and every night; they never seem to get bored with it. I wonder whether the hormone monsters realize how very much power they have and that their little decision during their stupid poker game affects every person that comes into contact with me. I wonder whether they realize they are making me look like a crazy person to the outside world. I think the hormone monsters are all male.

I bet the male hormone monsters are also contentious lawyers who would argue that they are innocent of my accusations and then try to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury by pointing the finger elsewhere.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let us start out by saying that we are completely innocent of the charges alleged against us by the obviously unstable and loony plaintiff in this matter. During the course of this trial, we will show that said plaintiff lives a crazy, nutty overscheduled life and is surrounded by people and circumstances that clearly are the culprits of said plaintiff’s excessive moodiness. We will provide witness upon witness who will testify that he or she has actually caused this plaintiff to become a certifiable nut case. And by the end, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you will have no choice but to find us “not guilty” of these charges. And for your own safety, you may also want to ask the judge to commit this plaintiff to a mental institution for an indefinite period of time.

Your Honor, the Hormone Monsters (HM) call their first witness, the plaintiff’s son.

HM: Please state your age for the court.

Son: I’m 4.

HM: Have you done anything recently that you think may have upset your mommy?

Son: Well, last night I hit my sister. I wouldn’t stop playing Wii when my mommy asked me to. I cried a lot because I didn’t want to take a bath. I threw a temper tantrum because mommy was making me go to bed and I wanted to play Sandman Tower on the computer. I pulled the dog’s tail because I was really, really mad. Then after mommy tucked me in, I got out of bed and ate a whole bag of Skittles. My fingers got really sticky from holding the Skittles in my hand, but I wiped them off on my sheets, so I’m pretty sure my mommy doesn’t know I ate the candy. Then, I called for my mommy to come into my room in the middle of the night because I had an accident in my bed. Mommy took care of it, put me back to sleep in her bed because my daddy is out of town and then went downstairs to wash my sheets and my night-night. Then my mommy went back to sleep, but the smoke alarm went off because of a problem with the vent or something on the dryer and mommy had to find a broom and stand on a chair to bang the alarm down from the ceiling so that it would shut off, but that wasn’t my fault.

HM: Thank you, son. No further questions. We call our next witness, the plaintiff’s daughter. Please state your age for the court.

Daughter: I’m 8.

HM: Have you done anything recently that you think may have upset your mommy?

Daughter: No.

HM: Okay, can you think really hard about anything that may have happened recently that may have bothered your mom a little?

Daughter: Well, just that my little brother can be a poo-poo-dumb-head. But my mom never gets mad at him because she says he’s so cute and funny.

HM: Thank you. No further questions. We call our next witness, the plaintiff’s dog. Please state your name and age for the court.

Dog: My name is Sonoma and I am 8 months old.

HM: You’re with the plaintiff a lot. Have you witnessed anything recently that may have caused her to become upset?

Dog: Uh, maybe. First, I barked at the door because I had to go potty, but nobody opened the door so I peed on the floor. Then I was hungry so I chewed on the couch for a while. Then I had to have an operation so I wouldn’t have puppies. Turns out I also had an ear infection. I am home now, but, as you can see, I have a huge cone on my head so I can’t bite my stitches and my mom has to put 8 drops in my ear every day. I hate that so I make it very hard for her to get anywhere near my ear. It’s kind of fun. Then I heard her talking on the phone. She said she was at the doctor every day last week, but she’s fine now. She said that on the way to her doctor’s appointment she broke a tooth and had to go to the dentist. I think she was really unhappy about that because I heard her say that she would rather have a pap smear, a mammogram and a colonoscopy all in one day than go to the dentist. I also think she had an argument with my dad because all of the sudden I heard her say hello, hello, hello and then she hung up the phone. It appeared the person on the other end of the line was no longer there. Then I heard her say some pretty bad curse words. Then I followed her in the bathroom and saw her take out a kind of long skinny thing I think she called a tampon. Then I saw her take some Advil. Then she washed her face because she was sweating a lot, like she was really hot.

HM: Anything else?

Dog: Yes. Then I heard her say that she had to make an appointment with her gynecologist because the goddamn hormone monsters were making her crazy.

The jury found the hormone monsters guilty as charged. The jury further found the hormone monsters had to pay restitution in the form of sending plaintiff on an all-expense paid Crystal Cruise vacation including all spa services. The jury sentenced the hormone monsters to life in a girls’ sorority house where they can’t get anywhere near any pre-menepausal-40-year-old-women, without the possibility of parole.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Mongolia, Anyone?

Sex and Suburbia, Mongolia, Anyone?
By Julie Stankowski

Are there any reasonably priced hotel rooms in Mongolia? Or Madagascar? Or maybe on Mars? Yes, I think far away Mars would be the best choice. Because right now, I feel like I need to pack a little suitcase and get the heck out of dodge! A Calgon bath is just not going to cut it this time. Everyone’s bugging me. And I am quite sure I’m bugging everyone. And I think at this moment the world may be a happier place if I just shacked up by myself for a while on another planet (at least until my cycle passes).

I thought I had recovered from dealing with the “room,” but it seems I have not. I am still uptight, irritable and basically unpleasant all the way around. I don’t know, maybe I’m just becoming a crotchety old lady. Or maybe some kleptomaniac psycho patients stole my patience, but all I know is I have none (I thought I did, but apparently, I was delusional). Or maybe I’m just a non-meditating, non-yoga-going, overscheduled, PMS-y stressed-out bitch. Or maybe I’m just having a very bad reaction to the bathing suit allergy I have, knowing that in less than two weeks on Spring Break, I’ll have to wear one. And did I mention everyone is bugging me and I’m bugging everyone?

On that note, does any one know where to find the person who coined the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” Do they have a course on some college campus somewhere that teaches you how to live by this motto? Because I’m sweating, man. I’m sweating like I’ve been living in a sauna. Soaking, dripping-wet-sweating. I know the Hormone Monsters are my roommates, but geeezzz! And sweat is gross and sticky and generally a people-repellant. I need to get rid of the sweat, or at least get some better deodorant to mask its odor. I wonder whether there are any products on the market that permanently remove neurotic women’s sweat glands. Because my people are being repelled by my excessive sweatiness and desperately need for me (and my Hormone Monster entourage) to be in a place where I am blocked from any and all types of communication. My people really, really need to be Julie-free for a few days. And I’m willing to give them what they need (I’m so considerate). I just hope I don’t die up there on Mars. Not sure if I know how to survive without Trader Joes, hot water, an actual toilet and wine.

Do you think maybe there’s a Four Seasons or a Ritz Carlton on Mars that we just don’t know about yet? Like a hidden oasis that aliens keep to themselves in order to avoid the company of crazy American moms. Well, probably not. For the sake of my family though, I should go. But I will only go if I can somehow know for sure that I will come back alive and if I can somehow manage to get there using George Jetson’s sky car (or whatever it is he floats around in). That would be cool.

And here’s how my loved ones would benefit:

For my husband, he would not have to deal with my moodiness, my nagging or my blogging and what he sometimes considers to be insulting depictions of him (even though I totally love him and don’t ever mean to offend him). For my children, they would not have to take baths, brush their teeth, eat their vegetables or do homework. Mean mommy would not be here to make sure they refrain from beating each other up. They could eat chocolate cake for breakfast, wear shorts and flip-flops to school in the rain and play Wii Fit until 3:00 a.m. They could fight to the point where they have blood spurting out their little bodies, but at least they wouldn’t hear mommy yelling at them! What fun! For my friends, they wouldn’t have to deal with my bitching and complaining. For my puppy, well hey, she could just chew the whole house apart and have a big-old-pee-fest and not be sent to the dog house. Yippee! And for all of the wine lovers in Ventura County, the shelves would be fully stocked since I’d be gone. Like I said, I think everyone would be happy if I vacationed on Mars for a little while.

And for me, well, I am obviously tired, cranky and hormonal. A little alone time may do me good. And bonus, I wouldn’t have to shave me legs! And hopefully, the Hormone Monsters are too stupid to find a way to get to Mars and I could get a much-needed break from those yucky, yucky meanies. And I could spend all of my time trying to invent some sort of something to keep women from sweating (the small stuff and the big stuff). Because sweating is not okay: for you, your husband or your kids, unless you’re in the middle of a work-out session with your hotter-than-hot personal trainer.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, The Room

Sex and Suburbia, The Room
By Julie Stankowski

Am I the only one who has the “Room?” You know, the one that you can barely walk into, that’s full of junk and crap and tootsie roll wrappers and popcorn remnants behind the couch. The one you throw all of your stuff into when company is coming over and then just keep the door shut and pray nobody opens it. The one that has boxes of paperwork that have been sitting there since 1990 and you are afraid to even look at. The one that has 517 Ziploc baggies with different pieces to different kids’ games, but nothing goes together. The one that has the old TV that’s as big as the fat lady who sings. I hate that room! It gives me anxiety, angina and angst all at the same time.

I must clean up the “room.” I can no longer live with it. But the thought of tackling this project is so overwhelming that every time I even contemplate it, I think I need to hit the booze instead. How could this possibly have happened? How could I have let this small space become so out of control? Is it a metaphor for my life? Messy cluttered room, messy cluttered head? Can’t be. My life is good! So the “room” should reflect that, right? But where do I begin? And how do I begin without feeling like I’m going to throw-up? Maybe I should put on a suit of armor and pretend like I am on the attack and Not-No-One-Not-Nothing will stop me because I will be protected by impenetrable steel. Okay, that’s ridiculous.

But now that I’m 40, I’ve decided it’s time I grow up and start living like a responsible adult. That means that regardless of my extreme trepidation not only about what I will find in the “room,” but also about what I will do with all of the crap in the “room,” I nevertheless must deal with the “room.” I wish I could say it’s the last remnant of my forever childlike habits, but it’s not. I still throw my clothes on the floor, hit the snooze button 7 times and wake up at the last possible second to still have enough time to get ready and get out the door, buy birthday party presents an hour before the actual party, pout like my 4-year-old when I’m upset and, I still sometimes eat cereal for dinner. I procrastinate, I’ve been known to whine from time to time, I indulge myself with too much ice cream for a little person and I still occasionally change my outfit 15 times before I feel like I look good enough to leave the house. I think I still have about 1 million childlike habits. But I can only deal with one at a time. Today (and probably for 10 hours a day for the next two weeks) I will deal with the “room.”

I feel like I need some sort of stretching, strengthening or exercise routine before I cross through the doorway to hell and begin the long, tedious journey of turning the “room” into heaven instead of hell. I hate exercise, though, so that won’t work. Instead, I’ll have a glass of wine, put on a Natasha Bedingfield CD and just dive in. I’m scared . . .

Okay, I have been in the “room” for two weeks, I am still alive and kicking and I have managed to avoid having a nervous breakdown! Hooray for me! And hooray for whoever it was that first came up with the concept of smushing grapes and fermenting them into big barrels of wine. If not for that person, I may not be here to finish this epic story about the “room.” In fact, the next time I have to tackle some project that makes my stomach do somersaults, I will first buy stock in Robert Mondavi.

So it wasn’t easy, but I now have an almost bare room in which to create the fantasy playroom I always imagined for my kids. Getting to this point almost caused my husband (and my kids) to divorce me because of my absolute sour mood that lasted the entire two weeks of sorting, tossing and donating. I was mad at everyone (including myself) and everything for creating this monster of a space. Question: am I the only stupid person who, for the last 41/2 years, has continued to employ a nanny who is so lazy that instead of putting toys away in their proper places, dumps everything into red plastic cups from Costco, shoves the cups in a corner and then somehow thinks that leaving a room full of 87 red cups was actually doing her job? Finding all of these red cups made me see red and I was ready to kill her. This murderous feeling became even more intense when I had to start searching the house for the probable existence of additional red cups undoubtedly containing the missing cube from “Don’t Break the Ice,” the missing person from “Candyland,” the missing pieces to “Connect Four,” and the little white balls for the “Hungry Hippo” game. What was she thinking? I could not get one whole game together with all of its parts until I looked through the entire house! Put the contents of 6 red cups together and voila, you have a complete game. Wouldn’t you have wanted to kill someone? Especially someone you pay to help keep your house tidy? Are you getting the picture of why I needed my new best friend around, Robert Mondavi?

And then there was the issue of my husband (love him dearly, but . . . ). As I have mentioned before, I do not think the man has thrown anything away since he made enough money to purchase it in the first place. What is up with that? It drives me crazy (okay, I know there are probably 10 million things about me that drive him crazy, but if he wants to complain about it, he’ll have to start his own blog!). And even though I was single-handedly taking on the monumental task of dealing with the “room,” you would not believe what my husband said to me, “Honey, the only thing I ask is that you don’t throw anything away before showing it to me.” Are you frickin’ kidding me? Oh yeah, I’m just gonna lay all the crap out all around the house so when you happen to get a minute, you can give me the okay to throw away the empty Wii box, the 10-year-old $2.00 mouse pad coming apart at the seams and the 1992 issue of Fantasy Baseball magazine. Not. How am I supposed to do this with my husband, the hoarder? Not to mention an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old who are completely unwilling to part with any of their things. “It’s special to me,” they say. “How is a Goddamn toilet paper roll special,” I think to myself, but don’t say out loud.

So that’s when I decided that I had to do most of the work in the “room” when my kids were in school and my husband was at work. What’s the saying, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you?” That became my little motto in my head and during the day, I threw away and donated like there was no tomorrow. I saved a few things here and there to show my husband for approval before they got trashed, just so he wouldn’t think I was actually doing what I was doing and sneaking everything out of the house. Task accomplished.

Next obstacle. Obtaining storage-type furniture to house the toys, art supplies, DVDs, books etc. Also must buy a new TV that is thinner than the big fat lady TV. No big deal. That’s what Ikea and Costco were created for, right? Wrong, according to my husband. He doesn’t want “cheap” stuff. Okay, shall I go to the Pacific Design Center and spend $10,000 for a kids’ room cabinet? I think not. And if I waited for my husband to shop around for cabinets and TVs, it would be 2010 before the “room” would actually be useable.

So again, devious girl that I am, I decided to buy the furniture, buy the TV and have everything installed and looking like a fabulously rich play room before my husband got home from work. Because the fact of the matter is, when he sees a finished product I managed to put together in the house, he actually likes it! But, oh my God, all of this sneaky-get-it-done-surprise-the-husband-and-not-wait-4-weeks-for-him-to-find-the-best-TV-for-the-best-price stuff can literally put me over the edge. It’s quite a task. And stresses me out to no end. And if people thought I was bitchy for the past two weeks, on this particular day, people would have thought I needed to drink an entire bottle of smushed grapes, ingest an entire bottle of Ativan and eat an entire pint of coffee Haagen-Dazs in order to calm down and let go of the complete raw nerve and crankmeister I had become.

Well, I’m happy to report that today, I have an awesome, neatly organized, very cute and totally functional playroom. The whole family is happy, including my husband! And I am no longer a raging lunatic mom with no patience. And I managed to avoid becoming a devil in the hell “room.” But I do feel like I need a vacation and three full days of sleep. So, I will go put on my PJs, throw my clothes on the floor, have a bowl of cereal for dinner and watch the Real Housewives on Tivo with my new BFF, Robert. At least I know my kids will be happily entertained in the heavenly playroom, where any and all red cups and any and all sizes of Ziploc baggies have been banned. And at least I can be proud of myself for growing up a little. I just hope I’m not 80 before I have enough energy again to deal with the other 999 childlike behaviors I still exhibit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Tweezers and Vasectomies, What?!!!

Sex and Suburbia, Tweezers and Vasectomies, What?!!!
By Julie Stankowski

So, what should I write about today? Here’s what’s on my mind: tweezers, vasectomies and why I think God created Sundays.

Tweezers. A fantastic invention. For 40-somethings with hair growing out of the oddest places, this invention is right up there with the light bulb, Tivo, cabernet, Haagen-Dazs and babysitters. Without tweezers, you would be astounded by how many women would be strolling by you in Target with a 5-inch hair growing out of their chins. Seriously. I thought I was the only weirdo that kept a tweezer in my car. It was a secret, like I had some bizarre habit I couldn’t tell anyone about. But I got sick and tired of driving down the street, opening my little lighted mirror to put on some lip gloss and then being mortified by what I saw making its way out of my neck (ummm, why didn’t any of my friends mention this to me?). So, I decided to keep my secret weapon in my glove compartment (like purses and bathroom cabinets, I think women’s glove compartments contain a lot of personal information about them). Now, you will never see me at the grocery store with an unwanted goatee. I pull out of my garage and, in the sunlight, armed with my invention of the century, pluck away until my skin is entirely hair-free. I decided to come out of the closet and admit I’m an automobile-hair-plucker because in the last several days I have come to learn of four other women who are as a crazy as I and they too carry the same secret weapon in their glove compartments. So nice to know I’m not alone. Enough about tweezers.

Vasectomies. Another fantastic invention. That is, if your husband will even contemplate some surgeon messing with his special package! If your husband has had one, kudos to you. You are a lucky, lucky woman. But if your husbands are like mine, the second they hear the word, “vasectomy,” they get a look on their face as if they were being attacked by aliens, bitten by snakes and handed an extraordinarily high AmEx bill, all at the same time. They don’t want any more kids, but they refuse to have sex wearing a raincoat. As someone recently said to me (can’t remember who, but she must be one of my very smart friends), “It’s two damn days with a bag of frozen peas and you’re done!” Have we women not endured enough physical pain down there popping out 7+ pounds of flesh per baby to warrant us asking our husbands to spend two days with peas? They can mentally block out the peas and watch ESPN, Turner Classic Movies and do continuous mock baseball drafts on the computer. And for two full days they can be waited on hand and foot by their oh-so-appreciative wives. But I don’t think this stubborn group will budge. And once again, we wives have to take charge and deal with the preventing pregnancy thing. And explain to our grown-up husbands why the pull-out method doesn’t always work!

Moving on, let’s talk about Sundays. And forget religion. This has nothing to do with what religion you are. I believe God created Sundays for nutty, over-scheduled and exhausted moms. I believe that soccer games, baseball games, birthday parties and every other Sunday happening should be banned. I believe moms should have an absolute right to stay home in their pajamas on Sundays and do nothing but watch sports (or HGTV and the Food Network), read the L.A. Times from cover to cover, slave over the crossword puzzle, nosh and occasionally doze off. Yes, I know we’re not single anymore and I know we have children, but hey, even a mom deserves one day! One day! That’s it. Can’t we have a day?

Here’s how it goes. The fact that we moms must constantly “chit-chat” with other people is exhausting in and of itself. When you bump into someone you know, doesn’t matter whether you are at drop-off, pick-up, the grocery store, the gym . . . the routine is the same, “Hiiii! How are youuuu?” “Oh, I’m greeeaattttt! What’s going on with you???” Can you imagine what would happen if you deviated from the routine and when you saw another mom at drop-off, you completely ignored her because you weren’t yet awake enough to move your mouth and make sound come out? And when those moms saunter over to you and say, “Good morning, how are you, what’s new?” I’m thinking it may be considered gauche to reply, “Hi, well actually, I’m tired and cranky and I just don’t feel like ‘chit-chatting’ right now. I have a million things on my mind, my kids had what appeared to be a world championship wrestling match this morning which left both of them crying, I have to go home and clean-up my dog’s throw-up, I feel fat, ugly and bloated and like a big crab-apple that’s about to pop, and at this moment quite frankly, I don’t give two flying hoots about how you are or what’s new with you!” No, we cannot say how we really feel or what we really think. That would be rude and obnoxious. And someone would report us to the manners’ police. And we’d probably have no friends. And wind up on the preschool Black List. So, we must keep the smile pasted on our no-longer-wrinkle-free faces and provide the expected response, “I’m good, you?” Exhausting, I tell you. Simply exhausting.

I believe God knows this. And I believe this is why God created Sundays. A day where we moms should not have to dress and put on make-up. A day where, left alone with our families, we can say exactly what’s on our minds and not pretend to be Happy-Happy-Happy, La-La-La, 24/7. A day where we can sit on our butts and not feel like Lazy Lucys. A day where we can order in Chinese and not cook. A day where we can casually play with our kids and not have to rush off to ballet class or football practice. A day where we have all the time in the world to take advantage of tweezers and vasectomies.

Thank you, God!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, The Not-So-Secret Secret

Sex and Suburbia, The Not-So-Secret Secret
By Julie Stankowski

I’m very open about it. In fact, I tell everyone. The moms in preschool, the moms in elementary school, the rabbi, the neighbors, the grocery store clerk . . . I tell anyone and everyone who comments. I have a new fashion accessory. This accessory has become my new addiction. I just can’t get enough. I have many different styles and colors (more than I care to admit). Each day, I decide what mood I’m in (well, actually, the Hormone Monsters decide what mood I’m in, but that is a whole other story coming in another post) and I choose the perfect accessory to match the mood. Who should I be today? Roxanna, Danielle, Ginger or Faye (my personal favorite)? Just as some women can’t get enough Jimmy Choos, I can’t get enough wigs!

Okay, please don’t judge me or think I’m crazy (I am crazy, but in a normal crazy kind of way). And NO, THANK GOD, POO, POO, POO, KAYNAHORAH, I am not sick (at least not physically, mentally is up for debate).

So here are (the not-so-juicy) details about how I happened into the wonderful world of wigs. For most of my life, I had great, thick long hair (dark brown since law school when I couldn’t afford to color it any more) that I really liked (an absolute pain in the ass to blow dry and straighten, but totally worth it). About 3 and a half years ago, six months after my son was born, I started losing a lot of hair. Normal after having a baby, but it never stopped. It was raining hair in my house. Raining men: good. Raining hair: not so good. To make a long story short (as short as someone with chronic oral diarrhea can possibly make it), I felt like my thick hair had become as thin as a wafer cookie. I hate wafer cookies! Anyway, most people didn’t notice, but I was extremely self-conscious about it. So, I went to a wig store to buy those really expensive “real” hair clip-in extensions and then took them to the really expensive hair dresser so they would match my color perfectly. Okay, way too high maintenance, even for me. Back to the wig store - - didn’t know what I wanted to do about it, but ended up leaving the store wearing Mandy, a long dark brown wig that looked exactly like my hair. When I got home, my husband said, “Your hair looks great! Did you go to the hairdresser today?” And he was only standing a few feet away from me! My best friends said the same thing. Nobody had any idea it wasn’t my hair until I told them! I was shocked! They were shocked!

Well, what began as something I was totally freaking out about became something frivolously fabulous! By the way, no one could ever figure out why I lost so much hair (I think I now know every doctor in the state), but I’m happy to report that my hair is nice and healthy again! So that means no need for wigs, right? Wrong!

You have no idea how great wigs are! After Mandy, I bought Ginger, a very stylish and sexy bob, shorter than I would ever dream of cutting my own hair. The first time I wore Ginger in public, I got soooo many compliments; it was unbelievable. But I didn’t want to wear it all the time and my own hair was long. What to do? Tell people that I was wearing a wig. I’m too old to care (pretty much) what people think. Again though, nobody could believe it. I was asked who my hairdresser was more times than my kids scream, “Mommmmm” in a 24-hour period. I took “her,” as the wig store people refer to the “girls,” to Cabo on vacation. Who has to worry about humidity now??? Not me! My hair (well, Ginger) looked perfect every night.

I think it is the Carrie Bradshaw in me that has me hooked. Gotta be fresh and fun and stylish and sexy. I even bought a long blonde wig one day (think Jessica Simpson). The problem with that though, was my husband’s concern that if I wore it out with him, people would not recognize me and the rumor mill would fill up with stories about how people saw my husband out and about with some blonde! All of my other wigs, though, look like they could be my very own hair. And I think it’s fun for my husband. He never knows who he will come home to or go to bed with! How Sex and the City of me!

So now, when the Hormone Monsters strike, I can decide between my plethora of wigs or my now healthy real hair. Did I get up early enough (remember, I don’t play Name that Minute anymore!) to blow dry and iron my own hair or should I plop on a wig? It’s so fun. And a major topic of conversation. People stop me and ask, “Who are you wearing?” as if I were walking the red carpet. And every day, at least one person looks at me and asks if it’s my hair or a wig. “I can’t tell anymore,” they say with a look of sheer surprise. I have friends who ask me to go to their hairdressers with them so they can cut their hair exactly like a particular wig. And if you can believe this, I actually started a trend! I have five friends who have actually bought wigs too! But they don’t tell the world like I do, so I will keep their identities secret. You know all of the moms who are having clothing parties at their houses? Well, I think I should have a wig party! I’ll send invites entitled “Wigs and Wine!” Woo-Hoo!

And today, my daughter’s (totally adorable) teacher asked me if I had a room full of bald-headed mannequins wearing wigs. Noooo! That would be scary and creepy and weird. Noooo! Even I’m not that weird. “My wigs are in shoe boxes,” I told the teacher (with a few other moms around participating in the crazy wig conversation that seems to take place on a daily basis). We crack up about it all the time. And then I shocked the totally adorable teacher when I said that Mandy was in a Hello Kitty shoe box and Ginger was in a Spiderman shoe box and Faye (appropriately) was in a Hannah Montana shoe box. “No way!” she said laughing. “I thought for sure they’d be in Manolo Blahnik boxes all neatly lined up like a Barney’s display.” Well, bottom line, it would be fiscally irresponsible (and potentially pose a health risk to my husband, and in turn to me, upon the arrival of the AmEx bill) if I were to combine my wig addiction with a designer shoe addiction. And as much as I love Christian Louboutins, I love my “girls” more, at least for right now. Tomorrow who knows; I’m very fickle with my accessories. But today, I hope the “girls” are happy living in their Target bought kids’ shoe boxes.

And there you have it. The Not-So-Secret Secret!

P.S. The Hormone Monsters are real! And they will be highlighted in future posts! I don’t want to piss them off!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Name that Tune, Mommy-Style

Sex and Suburbia, Name That Tune, Mommy-Style
By Julie Stankowski

I can name that tune in 10 notes. I can name that tune in 7 notes. I can name that tune in 4 notes. Okay, name that tune!

Maybe I’m showing my age a bit, but do you remember that show? Name that Tune? Well, when I was getting out of bed this morning and getting my kids ready for school, that show popped into my head. Weird, I know. But I’ll tell you why. I think I’ve been playing Name that Tune with myself since my daughter started school. In my crazy life, however, the show would be called Name that Minute.

I can get my daughter ready for school in 90 minutes! You see, I used to set my alarm for like 6:00 a.m. I would get up and take a shower (a rare occurrence these days; no, I don’t mean showering in general, but rather showering before drop-off). I would do my hair (straightening iron and all) and do my make-up and get dressed in my “nice” sweats. I had to look decent for drop-off (okay, cut me some slack. I was a first-time mom and didn’t realize that no one gave a shit but me). So I was primped and perfumed before I even got Ally out of bed. At that point, I would still have 90 minutes to wake up my baby with sweet little kisses, pick out a cute outfit with matching accessories and do her hair in some adorable style that would take me almost 30 minutes to perfect (I’m not good at the little girl hair thing). Then, we would have a healthy and hearty breakfast, hang out and chat while I made her lunch, meander for a bit and casually head to school for a timely arrival.

Ummm, that was then, this is now.

I can get my daughter ready for school in 60 minutes! A couple of years, another child and a puppy later, I was getting really good at this game. No sweat! And humbleness notwithstanding, I eventually became a master at Name that Minute. So, I kicked it up a notch (kudos to Emeril).

I can get both kids ready for school in 45 minutes! Yep, I could. A little more rushed, a few less accessories on my daughter, but at least the kids were clean, dressed, fed and on time. Too simple!

Not one to take the easy way out, I had to challenge myself. Not to mention I needed more sleep. A lot more sleep! Being a mom is more tiring than watching the History Channel.

I can get the kids ready for school in 30 minutes! Okay, get them ready! Okay! Yeah right, here’s what it looked like:

Oh shit! Oh, crap! It’s 7:30! Oh, SHIT! Oh my God! I jump out of bed. I run into my daughter’s room, grab some clothes for her (apparently the extra sleep I had left me color blind and my raging hormones made me somehow believe it was summer and not winter and my daughter was handed a pair of plaid green capris two sizes too small for her and a pink polka dotted tank top) and I tell her to get dressed FAST! We’re gonna be late! I run into my son’s room and grab some more mismatched and inappropriate clothes and tell him to get dressed FAST (he’s only 4)! We’re (I mean “I’m”) really running late. I sprint back into my room, trip over the half-eaten doggy toy lying on the floor and brush my teeth (literally the only hygiene ritual I could possibly perform in the time allotted). I put a jacket on over my pajamas and a hat on over my bed-head hair (I looked like Ozzy Osbourne after a major relapse). I go back into my kids’ rooms and they are still in bed. Oh, crap! Shit! Fuck! (I think I may actually have said these words aloud at that point.) Ally’s going to get a tardy even if I drop her off in the carpool lane (like the loser parents who are too lazy to get out of their cars and actually walk the two minutes it takes to escort their second graders into their classrooms). I’m such a bad mom! My kids are still half-asleep zombies as I put their clothes on, brush their teeth and do their hair.

We make a bee-line for the kitchen where I grab two pop tarts and two water bottles for an elegant breakfast in the car. I’m such a bad mom! I haul ass to school (in my oversized Jackie O sunglasses to complete the haggard mom in PJ’s and hat look), pray that there is no motorcycle cop hiding in the bushes and realize I didn’t make lunch for either child. I’m a REALLY bad mom and I SUCK at Name that Minute! I get my daughter to school two seconds before the bell rings, give her a huge hug and kiss, a five dollar bill which is enough to buy lunch and some stupid piece of crap they sell at the student store (guilty mom must let poor daughter buy some worthless junk she somehow thinks is awesome) and tell her to have a great day! Oy, I feel terrible. My kids must be the only ones who did not have a nutritious breakfast and who had only minutes to get ready for school and who had to eat in the car and who had to wake up to a crazy, frantic, scary-looking mom whose ego got too big for her britches playing Name that Minute. What the hell was I thinking? LOSER! BAD MOM!

So now, in order to right my wrong, avoid a nervous breakdown before 8:00 a.m. and become a good mommy again, I am playing a new game.

It’s called Mommy Wheel of Fortune. In this game, there is a big, blingy-looking wheel with a rhinestone pointer as the spinner. Each slot on the wheel contains a different prize, all designed with the pampered mommy in mind. Here’s how the game works. You only get a chance to spin the wheel on the days you get up early (bright-eyed and bushy-tailed is also a requirement), get the kids dressed in color-coordinated, weather-appropriate outfits (that may be from Target but look like they could be in the Gap window display), make a yummy breakfast which is eaten in your very own kitchen, have quality morning interaction with your babies and make it to school on time, even if you drive under the speed limit. It’s the honor system. Oh, and I forgot, you must also have made a delicious and nutritious lunch which would not only taste good, but would not embarrass your child in front of his/her classmates (I still don’t get why fruit cups with fake cherries are embarrassing . . . but, anyway).

Should you accomplish the above task, you’ll feel like a great mommy again and will have earned the opportunity to spin the wheel. Will you land on: A day at the spa; A deluxe pedicure including a foot massage; A pass to order dinner in and not cook; A pass to take a nap; A one-hour shopping spree at Nordstrom; A Babysitter for Saturday night? (It’s your wheel! You make whatever prizes you want!)

Today, I hope I land on my personal favorite prize, a priceless Mom of the Day Necklace made by my talented children out of a piece of string and a huge construction paper star on which the kids wrote in pink and blue crayon, “WRLDZ GRAYTISSD MOMY.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Boboswdn???

Sex and Suburbia, Boboswdn???
By Julie Stankowski

Do you have a black hole? An abyss? An enormous crevice? A deep, open and heavy thing? It’s usually made out of leather or fabric and hurts your shoulder so much you have to either make an appointment with a masseuse or with a chiropractor? A huge accessory for which, if you go upscale, your credit card will show a charge in excess of $1,500, maybe even $2,500 dollars?

Yes, I’m talking about a purse and I think we all have one or two (or a few hundred). And I think we should call Marc Jacobs and tell him that purses should have a size limit. For some reason, they don’t. And for some other stupid reason, we are always attracted to the biggest ones out there. It’s not a penis; it’s a purse. So, what’s the deal? The bigger the better? Definitely true for a man’s special package and for sparkly diamonds, but for purses? What is wrong with us, Ladies? Why do we have to walk around carrying a purse that would not even make the airline’s weight limit for checked bags and would end up costing us $614 in extra fees? Can we not get out of our minds, “Go big or go home?”

And I wonder why insurance companies haven’t tried to regulate the purse industry? Its claims for “pocketbook injuries” must be through the roof. I mean, heavy purses can cause shoulder pain, back pain, side pain, leg pain and who knows what other kind of pain (pain in the ass?). And these three-ton shoulder boulders can also cause stress-related injuries because even though we have everything we need in our purses, we can never find anything! It’s ridiculous. An oversized and overstuffed purse may be responsible for many more insurance claims than a reckless teenage driver. Let’s face it, purse overload is an epidemic.

So, what’s in our so-called purses anyway? But before we even get to that, why in the world is it called a “purse?” Don’t you think there are other names that would more adequately describe what we carry on our little shoulders? Potato sack of junk, perhaps? Or, Godzilla the leather accessory? Or, a “Boboswdn,” (pronounced Bob-O-Sweden), and standing for Big-Obnoxious-Bag-Of-Stuff-We-Don’t-Need. Yes, I think that description is much more appropriate.

Okay, so what’s in your Boboswdn? We all know that a Boboswdn is really just a magnet for all things unnecessary. Afraid if you reveal the contents it will give too much personal information about you? Well, I’m a risk taker and I have a blog, so I feel compelled to reveal the embarrassing things I found today while cleaning out my Boboswdn.

First, of course, I found three different sized tampons. Fair enough. None of us wants to be unprepared when we get a visit from our monthly friend (assuming we are still receiving such visits). In high school, my friends and I used to call it “Cathy.” We would say, “Ohhh, I saw Cathy today.” That was because of the famous Cathy Rigby commercials for maxi pads and in the olden days of our youth, girls did not talk about getting their periods around boys. It was a taboo subject. We were so geeky! Anyway, back from my tangent. What else was in my Boboswdn? 9 lollipops. 7 Mac lipsticks and 3 liners. About a dozen ATM receipts. A plastic Spiderman Motorcycle toy. Some crayons. 3 half-eaten boxes of animal crackers. Multiple business cards, including those from my doctors and dentist with my next year’s appointment schedules. 3 of my almost 8-year-old daughter’s necklaces and one of her bracelets.

Uh, several dry cleaning receipts, Costco receipts, Target and supermarket receipts, restaurant receipts and the kids’ gym class receipt. Tickets to my daughter’s Chanukah performance (which was obviously in December). Dental floss. Hair clips. A compact make-up mirror. 8 pens and 1 pencil. Anti-bacterial cleanser. A grocery list, a hardware list and a list of paint colors I wanted to try for my guest room. A slinky. 5 hard copies of different draft blog posts. The direction packet to my dog’s training collar. A bottle of my anti-anxiety medication (I know you never would have guessed I had something like that in my Boboswdn!). Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons, which are humongous by the way. A little baggy filled with all of my gift cards, if I ever get a chance to go shopping, which I’m thinking I should before all of the stores go out of business. My Nailtique that I take with me when I get mani/pedis to keep my nails strong. 4 empty packs of gum and about 15 loose, wandering pieces covered in crumbs or whatever it is that gathers at the bottom of my Boboswdn. My doggie’s new ear medicine for her continuing ear infection and the receipt therefor. And of course, my wallet, checkbook and business cards. Okay, that was an exhausting list! Oh, and a Wall-E Leapster game I’ve been meaning to return since Christmas (my son got a duplicate).

Well, come on, I really needed most of the stuff in my extra-heavy bag! Didn’t I? How bad can I be? When I was 16, I used to carry a hair dryer in my purse in case my hair frizzed! No joke! At least I don’t do that anymore. But the fact is, my aging shoulder (and mind) simply cannot handle the weight anymore. I need to be able to find my wallet without embarrassing myself digging and I need to be able to throw a ball with my kids. I should leave the gift cards in my glove compartment with the Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons and a bunch of other stuff. I should have 1 emergency tampon, that’s it. Every receipt needs to be thrown away or filed. The slinky needs to go back into the toy box. 1 or 2 lipsticks should be enough. Okay, I’m proving a point to myself. Clean your frickin’ purse out, Julie. Okay, I did.

And I went into my closet and found one of the smallest bags I have and that is what I will be using for now. No more Boboswdn’s. And when I have something in between my teeth and my dental floss isn’t in my tiny purse, I guess I will wing it and pull out my dentist’s business card and use the corner of it to get any spinach out of my teeth. It’s better than breaking my arm. Then I will put on one of my two lipsticks I’ll be carrying so I look pretty. Then I’ll let my husband know that I have switched pocketbooks, that there is a lot less weight resting on my hands, arm and shoulder and that I have enough strength to hold up that 10 carat diamond bracelet he’s always wanted to buy me. Then, I will refer to my purse, not as a Boboswdn, but as a Tiny-Little-Handbag-Freeing-Up-My-Shoulder-To-Carry-Extra-Carat-Weight-On-My-Wrist-Wallet-Holder. And I will call Marc Jacobs and tell him how many women will flock to his new purse collection as long as his bags are small enough and light enough for women to have the strength to hold up more jewelry on their fingers and their wrists!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Vegas, Baby!

Sex and Suburbia, Vegas, Baby!
By Julie Stankowski

Forget the brisket. I’m off to Vegas, Baby! Mommy needs a new pair of shoes! And time with her husband. And time to unwind. And time to heal her ears from the tiny voices screaming “Mommmmmm,” 1700 times a day. And time to wear real clothes instead of the glorified pajamas she wears on a daily basis. And time to actually read more than one page of a book in a 24 hour period. And time to take a shower and shave her legs without the dog and two kids standing right outside the shower door and pressing upon it, almost willing it to open like the lady on the Mervyn’s commercials (“open, open, open”). And for a million other reasons, I’m going to Vegas, Baby!

Can you tell I’m excited? My husband and I haven’t gotten away for the weekend in quite some time and I can’t wait. Okay, so how to prepare for such a trip? In my single in the city days, there would be no preparation. I would just hop on the plane and go. I was young, skinny and hot. Any clothes I threw into my bag would be fine. I would look good. Now, I am “middle-aged,” not 98 pounds skinny (but admittedly not fat), and definitely not “hot like a carefree girl in her twenties.” Now, it will take much more planning to go to Vegas and feel hot and sexy as I did in my younger days.

First, I have to make sure I have childcare. Luckily, I have amazing parents who love my children so much and have generously agreed to watch them for THREE whole nights while I have a ridiculously frivolous and fun time in Sin City. I just hope that when I get home, my parents aren’t sitting on their doorstep with the kids’ bags packed and so exhausted and exasperated from taking care of a 4 year old and an 8 year old that they need a vacation (specifically, a vacation from babysitting)! Oh, well. I’ll take my chances. Next, I have to find someone to take care of my puppy, Sonoma. This is going to be the first time she is without her family. Poor baby. Okay, I’m over it. I also have to stop my mail and my newspaper so that the big, bad suburban thieves don’t know we are out of town and don’t try to rob our house (despite the fact that I am advertising on the world wide web that I am going to be out of town)!

Here’s the harder part. My personal preparation. Gotta look good, feel good, be in the right state of mind, etc. No easy task for an aging suburban mom (okay, I’m only 40, but sometimes I feel like I am 100). First and most importantly, I have to make sure I get my waxing appointment scheduled with Atilla the Wax Hun. Nothing kills the mood like hair in the wrong places. Hair on the head: good. Hair anywhere else on the body: not good. No pain, no gain. It’s fine, I can handle the excruciating pain of one rip after the other. I just sweat like a 350 pound comedian in the middle of a stand-up routine and I scream a lot. Not unlike a typical night at my house. Then I think I’ll look on the internet to find some sort of three-day cleansing diet so I can fit into my skinny jeans! I can handle that too! A blended drink made of carrots, greens and cranberry juice that looks like vomit? No problem. Anything to flatten my stomach. Then, there’s the matter of the nails and toes. I’ll have to decide between sexy red or classy French? Not a bad decision to have to make. And, since I want to look hot not only for my husband, but also for myself (must prove to myself I still have what it takes), I think I need to go to my favorite little boutique and buy a couple of cute outfits. I know, I don’t need to do that. My closet is already overflowing. But I want to, so I will.

And, of course, there needs to be icing on the cake (or under the cake, so to speak). So, I think I’ll have to go get some new lingerie. Hey, I’m a mom and my undergarments lately leave a lot to be desired. You will usually find me in no bra, a sports bra or a tank top. Not sufficient for my romantic weekend. I want to buy some sexy, lacey, racy stuff and feel my Carrie Bradshaw-ness coming back to me. Victoria Secret, here I come! Hopefully, my boobs will be so high they get altitude sickness.

So, I have booked my airline tickets, booked my room at the Bellagio and made a reservation to see Love, the Cirque de Soleil show at the Mirage. My parents will watch the kids and my Vet will watch the puppy. I have a hair appointment, a nail appointment, a pedicure and a wax all scheduled. Tomorrow when my kids are in school, I will shop ‘till I drop (or until I have to do carpool pick-up). My preparation for my little weekend away will end up costing a small fortune, but at least I’m going to get my Mojo back for a few days. I miss my Mojo!

And next week, I will sleep however late I want to sleep. I will have sex as often as my husband can handle. It will be “hotel sex” so we can be as loud as we want to be! I will start my day with a Bloody Mary and end my day with some sort of Kahlua drink. I will order room service and champagne in the middle of the day and the middle of the night. I will play poker with all of the old men and steal their social security money. I will flirt with my husband like it’s our first getaway together. I will bring candles and lotions and potions and maybe even make a bubble bath for two. I will be in Las Vegas, Baby, and I will feel like I am in paradise. I will be wild and crazy and I will have no responsibilities. I will embrace the kid in me without having to pretend I am really a responsible adult. I will, of course, miss my little ones so much and I will call to check on my babies several times a day. The times will depend on when I have the least alcohol in my system. But then I will remember I am on vacation in Sin City and we all need to be sinful from time to time. And I will be. And it’s okay. Nobody will know what I do in Vegas. Except anybody who reads my blog when I get home!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Real Housewives, Take II

Sex and Suburbia, Real Housewives, Take II
By Julie Stankowski

I am a sick, sick person. I am addicted to the Real Housewives. Seriously, like a heroin addict. I can’t get enough of it. I’m bummed when it’s over and I can’t wait until next Tuesday. Remember when Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley were the shows we just had to be home to see every week. Those were the good old days. Now, I run to watch a group of self-centered, snobby, judgmental women and for some reason, I just can’t get enough. What’s wrong with me? Why do I find them so entertaining and fascinating?

Well, for one, I think everyone enjoys being a voyeur once in a while. That’s how I feel when I am watching the show, like I am a peeping tom looking in on people’s lives through a hole in a wall or something. But the fact is, I’m not. I am watching what they want me to.

I think I just like to watch how other people live. And I’m not alone. Don’t you ever wonder what goes on behind your neighbors’ doors? I know you do. I know this because of the success and popularity of things like People Magazine,, the Star, the Enquirer, TMZ and all kinds of stupid reality shows like the Real Housewives. Just last year, the daily life of Brittany Spears was the lead story for months on all of the major networks. Apparently, we were more interested in seeing Brittany’s Hanky Pankys (or lack thereof) than hearing about our dwindling economy. Let’s face it. We are all intrigued by the behind-the-scenes lives of others. Why do we find it so fascinating to know how (excuse my language) fucked up other people are?

Well, duhhhh, it makes us feel better about ourselves and our own lives. I mean the fact that we have a glass of wine and a Xanax once in a while (okay, maybe a lot) is nothing compared to the people we see on Celebrity Rehab and now the Sober House. We’re normal; they’re fucked up. The fact that we are so self-indulgent that we want a facial, a mani/pedi and a spray-on tan every now and then is nothing compared to the Real Housewives’ spa weekends, plastic surgery parties and over-the-top spending sprees. And don’t forget how intrigued we were by Monica Lewinsky’s stained dress. Jesus Christ, the then President of the United States was getting it on with an intern inside the Oval Office. That means we can feel totally great about ourselves for having a laundry-room quickie with our own husbands even though our kids are just a few feet away playing the Wii and eating the 10 pounds of candy we bribed them with to give us just 15 minutes of privacy. At least we are not cheating on our spouse in front of the whole world with a person half our age! Take that!

So, I must admit. After watching two episodes of the housewives last night (bonus, got to see Orange County and New York both in one evening!), I am feeling particularly normal today. I just wonder whether I will be suffering from serious withdrawal symptoms between now and next Tuesday. Well, I can watch Top Chef, American Idol, Sober House and Survivor in the meantime. Hopefully, those shows will tide me over until I can get my next fix of the housewives. I can’t wait to see the Orange County reunion show. Do you think that someone will finally ask Jeanna how long it has really been since she has had sex? Or will anybody finally confront Vicki about her ridiculous need to be the center of attention and her extreme jealousy of all those who may take that attention away from her? Will anyone have the balls to tell Tamara that she is a back-stabbing bitch?

Well, I will definitely tune in to see what happens. I’m just scared that someone (Vicki) may take a push pin or something and poke a little hole in Lynn’s boobies and they will deflate like a popped balloon in front of the whole world! OMG, so much to look forward to!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Gift of Nothing

The Gift of Nothing
By Julie Stankowski

What a great day! It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s 3:00 p.m. I’m in my pajamas and I’ve done nothing today! I repeat. What a great day! And there’s still more to come. An afternoon exchanging Valentine’s with my kids and hubby, an evening out with friends and who knows?!!!

I’m really not sure when I developed such a huge fondness for doing nothing. I love doing nothing! In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to do nothing! I know, I am really weird, but it’s the truth. So for Valentine’s Day, in addition to letting me sleep really late, my husband gave me the gift of being able to do nothing! Thank you, honey! Yes, he also got me flowers and some gifts I have not yet opened, but the gift of nothingness is priceless! And nothingness becomes even more spectacular when there is no one in the house but you. When you are a wife and mom, doing nothing in an empty house is such a rarity that it is a treasured gift when it occurs. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want it all the time and I love, love, love when my family is around, but there is a lot to be said for solitude, quiet and nothingness once in a while (not to mention cozy pajamas).

I have been enjoying my gift of nothing all day. Then, I got another gift. The doorbell rang and it was my parents. My dad wanted to bring me my Valentine’s card and gift (if you read my Valentine’s post, you know what a special tradition this is for me and my dad). They also wanted to see the kids and were quite disappointed to find “just their daughter” and not their grandkids home. But I understand. In fact, I love that! I love how much they love my children! It’s awesome. And it’s awesome having your parents around. For so many reasons! I am so grateful!

Now, my husband and kids just walked in. Time for Valentine’s galore. We don’t do anything half way in my house! It’s all or nothing. So, in about 15 minutes, the flowers on my entryway table will be joined by an abundance of Hallmark and homemade cards and overflowing with love! That’s how it should be! Today and every day! Love in the air, permeating all the nooks and crannies of your house and your heart.

Nothingness is priceless, but only because of the existence of love and family. Without that, occasional nothingness wouldn’t be priceless at all. It would just be nothing. Now, go have a great day and show your family how much you love them! And then later, maybe, you can do nothing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, A Brisket in the Slow-Cooker

Sex and Suburbia, A Brisket in the Slow-Cooker
By Julie Stankowski

Okay, I have no idea what this column is going to be about, but I just thought it was hysterical when I heard myself say, “I have a brisket cooking in the crock pot.” Is this really me? I looked in the mirror and saw my reflection and thought, “Who are you and what have you done with Julie?” Seriously, who am I? I’m cooking a brisket in the slow cooker and it’s not even a Jewish holiday? What the hell is going on?

Well, it started a couple of days ago when my husband told me it would be kind of nice if he came home to a home-cooked meal (all right, any kind of meal) once in a while. Okay, fine. But a brisket? Jesus Christ, I could have just heated up a meal from the Costco refrigerated aisle, but nooooo, a brisket? Where is this coming from? Tremendous guilt? I don’t think so. I really don’t feel very guilty for not having dinner on the table when my husband gets home from work (well, maybe a tiny bit guilty, but anyway). My day at “work” (being a mom) was way harder than his (again, glad he doesn’t have his own blog for rebuttal time).

I tell him, “At least you get an hour of peace in the morning when you can listen to whatever you want on the radio, even if they say bad words. And you get an hour of peace in the afternoon in your car, same way. And you can go to lunch each day with your cohorts and hang. And even though you think I am eating Bon Bons and watching soap operas, you’re wrong. By the time I get the kids to school, I’m exhausted. Then, I go to the supermarket. Then, I go to the dry cleaners. Then, I go to the bank (okay, yes, I am depositing the money that you make, but if life was fair, I’d be pulling down 7 figures for my job). Then, I go to the doctor. Then, I volunteer in the school office. Then, I pick up at preschool. Then, I pick up at elementary school. Then, I go to gymnastics. Then, I go to karate. Then, I come home to take a brisket out of the slow cooker? Ummmm, what????? This is so unlike me.

So if not guilt, what was it that caused me to start cooking like my grandma? Well, there are several possible explanations for this odd behavior, but here’s the one I like. Just go with me here. You know those advertisements for living a healthy life, where they show a beautiful 20-year-old girl on the screen and then fast forward the image so you watch her rapidly aging and then, within 3 seconds, you are looking at an 80-year-old version of the same woman? Well, whatever technology makes that possible, some mean person installed it in my bathroom mirror. Seriously, I am noticeably aging by the day, by the minute.

A little more padding all over, especially the midriff. A few more lines on the face. A little less hair on the head and a little more hair in places there isn’t supposed to be hair. Yes, we all know what I’m talking about. But how has that stupid aging technology affected me mentally in addition to the physical deterioration of my once young face and body? I think when I was sleeping one night, some other meanie implanted the aging microchip in my brain, as if my bathroom mirror wasn’t enough!

Now, I’m not just looking older, I’m actually acting older too! Oy, I am becoming my grandma! A brisket in the slow cooker? What’s next, dentures and a weekly bridge game at my house? How did this happen? Inside, I still feel like a kid pretending to be an adult. I have no clue how to be a good wife, a good mom, a good hostess. I just pretend. When did I go from being a pee-on law student to an actual attorney making multi-million dollar decisions? And who are the idiots that rely on me to make these decisions? Don’t they know I am just pretending like I know what I’m doing?

And when did I go from microwave popcorn and Captain Crunch for dinner to brisket? From having one roll of toilet paper in my apartment, which when I ran out, I would use tissues even tough you’re not supposed to, but I was too lazy to go to the market, to now feeling uncomfortable if I do not have at least 50 extra rolls of toilet paper on hand? From being okay with driving on fumes to now feeling totally uncomfortable if I don’t fill up my gas tank before the little marker gets below the half-way point. From not caring how much money I gambled in Vegas to cutting coupons? From thinking my entire life that Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover were the only Jewish holidays to finding out that there are like 1000 more Jewish holidays so significant that in September and October the preschool is closed every other day? Tu B’Shevat? What?

Yes, my friends. It seems aging happens without us even knowing it. And while I wish (I really wish) that my boobies were not resting upon my tummy when I’m not wearing a Wonder Bra, I guess I just have to roll with it (Ha. Ha.). I mean who has the energy, or the money, or the chutzpah to go under the knife to change it? And even if I could look younger, it would be a total and obvious farce since I have a brisket in the slow cooker. I mean, come on, one who is cooking a brisket is obviously not the young person they once were.

So, I have decided that instead of dwelling on it, I will embrace my entrance into old-maidom with grace and dignity. But I refuse to ignore the part of me that still feels like Carrie Bradshaw living La Vita Loca in NYC. So, I will try to combine the two life stages to be the truly authentic me. Yes, I will serve my family brisket, but accompanying it will be some sort of alcohol and after it will be some sort of sugar cereal for dessert. I will cut coupons in the morning, but I will buy a totally frivolous necklace at the school boutique at pick-up time. I will take my kids to Chuck E. Cheeses, but then get a babysitter so my husband and I can go out for cocktails and dinner. And I will take my kids to Tot Shabbat on Friday night and while I am there I will pray:

Dear God, in return for me being a good Jewish mother and cooking a brisket for my family, please get that damn microchip out of my bathroom mirror and out of my brain; and please tell my husband that for Valentine’s Day a nice gift for his wife would be a gift certificate for a new Spanx, a new super bra, a facial and a spray-on tan, as well as two tickets to Las Vegas leaving in the morning so I can play poker instead of bridge. Thank you and Amen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Will you be my Valentine?

Will you be my Valentine?
By Julie Stankowski

When you think of Valentine’s Day, what pops into your mind? Love, hearts, romance, roses, chocolates, champagne, $4.00 Hallmark cards, overpaying for dinner? Some people think Valentine’s Day is just a commercialized holiday created by florists, restaurateurs and greeting card executives simply for profit. True or not, that is a quite cynical viewpoint. Instead, choose to look at Valentine’s Day as a very special gift to yourself enabling you to celebrate those you love and appreciate. There are so few days of the year inked out for this purpose that we really should take advantage of the opportunity. Voicing our love is always good. Everybody loves being loved.

Yes, I know it has been said, but I will say it again, especially in light of the current economy. You need not spend money to show your Valentine your love! Don’t get me wrong. I readily admit that any woman would be thrilled to find a diamond tennis bracelet swimming in her champagne glass. But, for those who feel it would be more fiscally responsible to walk right by Tiffany’s and forgo taking out a loan on Valentine’s Day, I will generously share with you some of my quirky ideas to make your Valentine feel special.

Pretend you are young and create a homemade greeting card with your kids’ art supplies. Taking the time to make your own card is so much more special than running into the stationery store looking through cards you have seen year after year after year. Serve breakfast in bed using a tray adorned with heart-shaped pancakes, fresh raspberries, a glass of champagne and a condom package. When you wake up on Valentine’s Day, take out some oil or lotion and give your partner an unexpected and soothing foot massage. Tell your partner you know how hard he/she works and offer to watch the kids and the dog for the afternoon so he/she can get some much-needed alone time. Bake your love’s favorite flavor pie. Get a Brazilian bikini wax in the shape of a heart and surprise your beau. Cut fresh flowers from your garden and arrange them around a bubble-filled and candlelit bathtub. Send the kids for a sleepover at Grandma and Papa’s house, cook a romantic dinner and eat it like a picnic in front of the fireplace. Clear your junk off the bathroom counter so your husband can have at least a quarter of the countertop for his stuff. Write your lover a poem. Create a coupon book and be creative. Find an old photo of the two of you and attach a post-it note saying you love him even more now. Give lots of hugs and kisses and I love you’s.

Here is another idea. Start a Valentine’s Day tradition with your spouse or children. Family traditions are not reserved for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I look forward to Valentine’s Day every year. My Dad and I have a thing. Well, actually my Dad gives a thing and I get a thing, but . . . it is not about the “thing” (although I always love the “thing”). It is about the fact that my Dad takes the time to show me how much he cares about me. You see, he knows that I love perfume. So, each February, my Dad goes to Nordstrom and looks at all the new, hot perfumes that have come out on the market within the last year. He takes time to smell each fragrance (he even knows to cleanse his sense of smell by taking a whiff of the coffee beans in between testing different perfumes) and thoughtfully decide which he thinks I would like best. He also evaluates the beauty of the bottles. He has the gift exquisitely wrapped and comes to my house on February 14th with the perfume of course, but always with a beautiful card and a huge hug for his “Princess.” It’s our tradition. All Dads should be as thoughtful and loving as mine!

Okay, here is my last thought on this topic. If you are one of those cynics I mentioned earlier (believe me, there are many; I promise you are not alone), and just cannot seem to get past the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, take the following into consideration. I have tried to teach my children that the best gifts anybody can ever give or receive are, “Just Because Gifts.” Doing or giving something, “just because,” means so much more than doing or giving something expected for a holiday, birthday or anniversary. It just feels more pure, real, deep, sensitive and meaningful when a gift (tangible or not) comes out of left field, on an ordinary day, is unnecessary and is done or given for no particular reason at all. It just says, loudly and profoundly, “I care about you and I did this for you ‘just because’ I love you!”

So, whether you opt for denim or diamonds this Valentine’s Day or you opt out altogether and decide to go for a “just because” moment on a different day, make your Love feel special. The biggest bonus is that making someone else feel special makes you feel good too. And this is true every day of the year!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, More about Nuts

Sex and Suburbia, More about Nuts
By Julie Stankowski

Recently, I wrote about the fact that there are so many nutty people out in the world. And there are. But after further consideration, I have decided that we are all nuts! I have decided that there are two categories of nuts: (1) Normal nuts, like pistachios, with a nice, typical shell on the outside and all kinds of weird nooks and crannies and blemishes on the inside; and (2) Crazy nuts, like cashews, with no shell to cover up the slimy, naked oddly shaped morsel leaving any irregularities visible to the naked eye.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I am a pistachio, a normal nut (thank God my husband does not have his own blog to rebut this declaration and present evidence that I am really a cashew!). The more I think about myself, the more I realize how nutty I am. For example, here is what’s on my mind today, no pun intended. I have a headache; therefore I have a brain tumor. I think I am somehow related to Woody Allen because I, like him, am a neurotic hypochondriac. Really, maybe I am related to him. We’re both short, we’re both Jewish, we’re both writers. Oh, but I didn’t divorce my husband and marry his son. And I haven’t written 500 successful movies. So maybe I’m not related to Woody after all. I must say, however, that every time I get a little ache or pain, I worry that I am dying. Very Woody-esque of me. Very pistachio-like.

And another thing, I have all kinds of phobias I don’t think normal people have. I can’t stand cooked fruit. I think it is slimy and gross. That means I think all fruit pies are disgusting. Weird, don’t you think? I don’t like crowds. That means I don’t like going to Disneyland or rock concerts or even to Lakers’ games, despite the fact that we have awesome seats. What’s the problem with crowds? I have no idea, but somehow I feel claustrophobic when there are lots of strangers all around me. Lice. I am absolutely paranoid about my kids getting lice. If you have ever experienced lice, maybe you won’t think I’m so weird, but I use Hair Fairy products on my kids every day and when my daughter plays softball and is assigned catcher, I cringe and pray that when she puts on the catcher’s helmet, she won’t come home with lice! And when I sit in a taxi cab or bus or any public chair, for that matter, I lean forward and try not to let my hair touch the seat for fear the person who sat there before me had lice.

And I have a complete phobia of public restrooms. Whether I am at the Four Seasons or McDonalds, in a friend’s powder room or a ship’s stateroom, I avoid touching anything at all cost. I have a deep-seeded belief that all bathrooms, other than my own, are cesspools of germs and disease. I even squat in my own guest bathroom because people other than my family have used the toilet in there. Unfortunately, my daughter is the complete opposite of me and feels the need to use every public restroom she comes across. I am still astounded that I survived her having to go number two at Dodger Stadium!

Other reasons I think I’m a nut include my dancing around the house with my kids while singing Shabbat songs I can’t get out of my head, as if they were number one hits and I was a rock star. I could be totally content to sit on my tush and do nothing for eight hours straight but watch reruns of Law and Order. I think restaurant chefs spit in my food when anyone in my party says anything that can potentially be interpreted as rude to someone on the wait staff. If I could exchange my closet wardrobe with any celebrity, it would not be with J.Lo or Angelina, it would be with Diane Keaton. I can’t get enough of reality TV. I’d rather eat a whole loaf of freshly baked bread smothered in butter than I would chocolate cake. Between each bite of a hamburger, I dip it in ketchup as if it were a French fry. I laugh hysterically when someone gets hurt, you know, like an adult who hits his ankle on a hotel bed frame that was sticking way out, but couldn’t be seen because it was covered by a bedspread. Hysterical.

And the number one reason I know I am nuts is based on this hypothesis: I think almost every person I have ever met is weird. Since most would argue that the entire human population is not made up of weirdos, I must be the weirdo. That’s it. I’m done. I just have one question: Now that I’ve spilled the beans about myself, do you agree that I’m a pistachio or do you think I’m really a cashew?

P.S. I did a little research and according to Wikipedia, there are 53 different types of nuts out there!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sex and Suburbia, Fantasy v. Reality

Sex and Suburbia, Fantasy v. Reality
By Julie Stankowski

Me, staring out my window daydreaming about me being Carrie Bradshaw . . .

In her fabulous walk-in closet the size of most people’s apartments, Carrie is searching for that vintage Ralph Lauren dress that is so over the top sexy it makes even her drool. The couture number she bought right off the runway has a tight black baby doll bodice with a high waist and a mini, mini smokey gray taffeta skirt reminiscent of a prima ballerina. This dress, she thinks to herself, paired with her ever-so-glamorous Calvin Klein stiletto Mary Janes, will make Big loopy, which is what she is hoping for. Having just completed a three week book signing tour for her latest bestseller, “Sex in the Posh Penthouse,” she misses her man and is looking forward to a romantic, sexy Saturday night, just the two of them.

Me, still staring out my window daydreaming about my husband being Mr. Big . . .

In his over sized regal man cave, the fireplace is roaring, the music is just right (the best of Etta James is playing) and Big is looking in the mirror straightening his tuxedo’s bow tie. Guessing he has a few extra minutes to relax before they go out (Carrie always takes much longer to get primped), Big decides to mix himself a drink from the well stocked bar and smoke a good stogie. He chooses a hand rolled Cuban from the humidor. He sits down in his royal looking leather chair enjoying the jazz tunes and looking forward to the evening ahead. While he had been planning tonight to give Carrie the little gift he picked up for her “just because” he missed her (a seven-carat diamond tennis bracelet from Tiffany’s), he decides that the best way to surprise his love is to buy her an adorable teacup Maltipoo and put the bracelet around the cute puppy’s neck. He’ll make a few calls and make sure that his plan is ready to execute by morning. Tonight, he will show her how much he loves her with his undivided attention and a sensual massage.

Me, being jolted out of my daydream by the sounds of screaming children . . .

“No more fighting,” I tell the kids. I have to get ready to go out. “Daddy and I have plans to go to Red Lobster.” (Side note: My friends all make fun of me for liking Red Lobster and the only reason the other couple is going with us is because they lost a bet. I don’t care what they all think. They are completely missing out on the best bargain in town for delicious Alaskan King Crab!) My husband and I have been home with the kids for most of the day, but I don’t think my husband has said more than five words to us today. “I’m going in the bathroom,” is all I can remember coming out of his mouth. I decide that he is saving his words for our big night out. You know, they say men only have a certain number of words they are willing to speak in one day? I think my husband had to reserve his so that he could participate in some dinner conversation.

I go up to my cramped closet to change. I just want to wear a pair of cute jeans. No can do. Every pair of jeans I own must have shrunk a size or two the last time they were washed. I cannot zip up one pair. I didn’t think I gained weight, but . . . For my own sanity, I will continue to believe that the pants shrunk and my body form is just redistributing itself as part of the aging process (my story, my delusions), causing my jeans to not fit. I pull out a pair of “cute stretchy pants,” as I call them and continue to get ready while my husband decides to use some of his words that were supposed to be being stored for later, “Julie, do I have any laundry at the dry cleaner? I can’t find my black pants.” After I tell him that I had picked up all of the dry cleaning, he lets out some sort of moan or groan or something, making me feel like I don’t have his clothes properly taken care of and I must have done something sinister with those black pants because they are not in his closet.

Then, just before we are about to leave, I ask my husband how I look. He says (I guess not wanting to use up too many more words), “Fine.” Okay, a word to the wise for all you husbands out there. The word, “Fine,” does not mean fine to a woman. Women have their own definition of “Fine,” not found in Webster’s. To us, “Fine,” means not so good, maybe even bad, maybe even fat, maybe even horrible-but-I-don’t-feel-like-waiting-for-you-to-change-anymore-so-I’ll-deal-with-being-seen-with-a-woman-who-looks-terrible-and-I’ll-tell-you-that-you-look-fine. “Fine,” is one of the most abhorrent words in a woman’s dictionary. Do not use the word, “Fine,” when speaking to women.

So we finally are in the car with our friends heading to Red Lobster, four lawyers, two of whom are retired mommy lawyers, one is a judge and one is still simply a very stressed-out lawyer. Sounds like a boring group, but it’s not. We had a great time. I guess the cocktails before, during and after dinner at my favorite chain restaurant didn’t hurt. Yet despite the great time, there did not seem to be any deep-seeded passion going on between the husbands and the wives. Just a lot of group laughter.

When we get home, my husband sits down on the couch and passes out about one minute later. It never ceases to amaze me how he can fall asleep in the wink of an eye. I need to come down from all of the day’s hoopla, which usually entails going up to my secret room (the master bedroom retreat, but I have donned it my secret room), pouring a glass of wine, perusing my emails and the Internet for a few minutes, watching a Tivo’d episode of Grey’s Anatomy and taking an Ambien. When I do finally hit the pillow, I still can’t fall asleep because I’m thinking of all of the things I need to get done tomorrow. It usually takes about an hour before I am in La-La-Land and it is usually an hour from then that my son comes in and has to go potty. Potty taken care of, it takes about another hour to nod off again and it is usually an hour or two from then that both my children end up in my bed for one reason or another. Very romantic.

But during my few hours of shut-eye, I go back to dreaming about me as Carrie and my husband as Big . . .

Carrie is finally primped and ready to go. Looking like the fabulous power couple they are, Carrie and Big call their driver to bring the car around. They are ready for their night on the town. Carrie and Big go to dinner and to hear a jazz band in this cool little hole in the wall in Tudor City. At 1:00 a.m., they take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride home (through Central Park, of course). In their Eastern king bed adorned with 5,000,000 thread count Egyptian cotton linens, Big gives Carrie that sensuous massage and their evening ends with quite a bang, so to speak.

The next morning, Big brings Carrie breakfast in bed and next to the fancy platter of food his chef prepared, he places a box on the bed with a big red bow on top. Carrie is smiling and excited. She opens the box to find her new puppy, “Diamond,” and the sparkling diamond collar the cute Maltipoo was named after. Big crawls back into bed to enjoy the gourmet breakfast with his very happy and sparkly sweetie and they make their own dessert.

Back in Suburbia, I am suddenly awake as I think we are having an earthquake. I am wrong. It is just my babies jumping up and down on my bed telling me they are ready for some Apple Jacks and a riveting episode of Handy Manny. When my husband strolls down stairs, I am doing the dishes and I look like hell frozen over from such little sleep. But I remember my dream and, yearning for some Carrie and Big fantasy, I tell my kids they can watch the Handy Manny all-day marathon while they play Wii and I ask my husband if we can have upside down day and start the morning off with dessert. Back upstairs, I’m thinking, “Nothing is as yummy as dessert for breakfast, even without baubles from Tiffany’s.”