My Mom Was Born Without Gaydar

05.13.13

As a New York City teenager in the 50’s my mother spent her time in the Village smoking Gauloises and otherwise being fabulous with her girlfriends. I know about some of her favorite haunts because she brought me to them endlessly and repeatedly since before I could even remember. There was Chumleys, DiRoberti’s, El Faro and then there were the Chinese restaurants everything South of Houston (Yona Schimmel’s, Katz’ and Russ and Daughters). There was a midtown and an uptown to Manhattan but they were never as interesting to us as My Mother’s Manhattan which would occasionally lead us over a bridge into Williamsburg (which was definitely not Manhattan but somehow belonged to My Mother as well).

Bars in New York City never felt like bars in Los Angeles. There was one bar in Marina Del Rey that my father used to take us to and it felt like a New York bar because we weren’t the only kids there and food was served. We played pool, my dad smoked his pipe, Englishmen talked about cricket and other ridiculous games, they sang songs and the food was crap but everyone tried to convince us that fish and chips were delicious. We weren’t quite sure about that.

Mom came over for dinner last night and told me the most remarkable story. She started by telling us how New York’s drinking age used to be 18 so by the time she was 16 she would hang out in the West Village and she and Alice and Sandy would hang out in local bars drinking cokes and eating french fries while feeling both very adult and very safe. One of their favorite hang outs was Julius‘. They loved the cool factor of hanging out in a bar and with the added bonus of never being bothered.

When Mom would tell LA friends about wasting her teenage years at a bar named Julius’ which was inhabited by men who were really nice to teenage girls but didn’t hit on them her friends would roll their eyes. I’m pretty sure they thought that my mom was a little socially retarded or perhaps she’d neglected to mention that she was a morbidly obese teenager with cystic acne and a drippy nose. The bar she was describing could not possibly have existed.

This week she’s been reading John Irving’s new book In One Person and on page 111 there was a revelation.

in one person irving

Mom’s favorite “safe” hangout was a gay bar and she’s only finding out about it 55 years later.

I’m like, “Mom, how did you not know that it was a gay bar. Were you the only women there?”

“What did I know from gays? I was 16 and people called them fruits. There were no fruits there.”

 

The Perfect Mother’s Day

05.14.12

Yesterday was blissful as Mother’s Day always is. Mr. G always makes a bigger fuss than necessary and I always let him. It’s my wifely duty to be a little pampered.

Saturday night we couldn’t quite agree on where to eat but we all agreed that we’d be eating out. The kids wanted Laurel Tavern but they don’t really understand that it’s a bar. So they don’t understand that on a Saturday night no one wants them there. Further the place is packed and loud and Laker-y.

So we drove past Laurel Tavern in an effort to show them why we wouldn’t be eating there, looped across the street to Lala’s which was uncomfortably crowded and finally landed at La Loteria which I was sort of angling for because I wanted a good margarita with tamarind and sour salt. Mr. G hates Mexican food and it was shitty of me to make everyone go there but I was feeling selfish on Mother’s Day Eve.

We ended up at La Loteria and the only thing worse than the food was the service. The margarita was excellent but I could have made that at home. Serves me right.

I woke up Sunday at 9ish. I just lounged in bed and padded downstairs in the most leisurely way. Alexander and Mr. G headed out for a 10am baseball lesson and I ran to the farmers market as they have an amazing blackberry vendor there and I just wanted to eat blackberries until my teeth turned an unnatural color and I looked like a hillbilly, black teeth and all.

While at the farmers market everyone kept wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. I didn’t have any children with me. I made a mental note to step up my game, even on a Sunday Morning. I bought my blackberries, my eggs, strawberries and tamales. Everything was organic except the tamales and they’re pure crap for the kids. Fat and sugar to keep them happy. Snooty fat and sugar, but fat and sugar nonetheless.

I came home from the Farmers Market and the four of us turned around and went for a hike. I sunscreened my face and neck. It was a great hike but I’m sunburned, I even have a white mark where my ponytail was.

After the hike we rolled right into Umami Burger. Amazing burgers coupled with hideous service. If you ever go to the store in Studio City either sit in Brooklyn Carlos’ section or get your food to go. I tried to not be annoyed by the servers but it’s hard. They’re just so bad. I broke my “no grain” diet and had a half a truffle burger and I swear it was worth it. They are so amazingly delicious.

After lunch we headed home and I spent two hours floating in the pool sometimes reading sometimes dozing. The kids played in the pool and I looked at them both popping through the surface of the water together and had a striking moment where they actually looked alike and my heat swelled to the size of the moon and I felt so lucky that I love my family so much and that they love each other.

By 5 it was time for Alexander to go to baseball practice and Jane and I took a quick shower and went to see Dark Shadows. It’s a terrible movie. I wanted to leave after 30 minutes but I didn’t want to ask Jane to go in case she was enjoying it. Of course it was only after the movie ended that I realized she’d have been happy to leave too. The best parts of the movie aren’t the plot or the actors, it’s all the last scenes and some special effects that truly are special.

It sounds like I didn’t enjoy the movie. I didn’t enjoy Dark Shadows but I did enjoy just being with my daughter and relaxing. It was still a great day.

At 7.30 we headed for dinner and met up with my Mom for LA’s best lobster. There’s this divey little restaurant in Reseda that makes the most amazing ginger lobster. We waited about a half hour for a table and drank the worlds cheapest chardonnay from tiny little bottles, but I was with my Mom so it was all okay. We exchanged giggly gifts and were home by 10.

Alexander fell asleep in his baseball clothes. He’s old enough that his father needs to be the one undressing him. That felt strange and bittersweet.

Then Mr. G remembered my gift. It had been outside and I’m not sure how I didn’t see it but it was exactly what I wanted.

At 8 this morning I started by reading the assembly instructions. I realized quickly that I had to buy a socket wrench with  1/2″ and a 3/4″ socket attachments. I went to OSH and had everything unpacked and ready for assembly by 9. By 9.15 I had overenthusiastically broken the first screw. Ratcheting adds power I suppose.

 

I was back at OSH 15 minutes later trying to find a nut and bolt to replace the one I’d broken. One of the men there helped me find a 1.5 inch replacement and I thought it seemed a little short and I’d considered picking up a two inch replacement as well since it was only an extra few cents but he convinced me that he was absolutely correct and there was no way in the world the bolt would be too short.

45 minutes later I was back at OSH getting a two inch long bolt. It was getting late in the morning.

An hour after that I had this.

I’ve had compost piles and compost bins, but I’ve never had a compost tumbler and I’m so excited in part because I love my tiny little garden but also because I cringe every time I throw out scraps.

I had the perfect Mother’s Day and I had the perfect Day After Mother’s Day because I got to play with tools all morning.

 

Five Great Mother’s Day Gifts for Mom Bloggers

05.8.12

Everyone knows that my husband doesn’t love me enough to get me any of the three things I want most for mothers day.

  1. A butler
  2. A Bentley
  3. Chickens (not in my freezer either)

So I’ll have to suffer through with the small luxuries I’ve become content with.

Here are a few items every Mom Blogger is dying for.

A new computer.

I’ve been testing out the ASUS All In One PC ET2700INKS at $1500 it’s not cheap, but it’s beautiful and it’s fast and Windows 7 is a joy.

A smartphone, specifically an iPhone 4S. Three of four Gottliebs have the 4S and we’re all delighted with it (the fourth Gottlieb is just too young). I switched to Sprint recently. It’s reliable and cheap but very slow. I’m trying to decide if I care or not.

A subscription to Birchbox. Birchbox is a sampling site where for $10 a month (or $110 a year) you get samples of makeup and skincare. I bought Birchbox for myself and for my daughter and we filled out our beauty profiles. Her boxes delighted her, mine delighted me. We also got far more than $10 of value.

(thanks to Sarah Burns for the Birchbox image)

If your mom loves gardening go to your local nursey, pick out some flowers or summer fruits and veggies she might love and the appropriate potting soil and spend some time with her planting them. I love gardening and I love my family, what would be better?

 

Speed! If you can’t swing the pricetag of a new computer (or you don’t want to) there’s something that every Mom Blogger needs and few will treat themselves to. It’s SPEED.

The folks at Crucial have made RAM easy and if your computer is limping along a little extra memory may just be the shot in the arm that makes it work well. My memory was under $200, easy to find, easy to install and doubled the speed of my laptop (okay I have no numbers to back that up but it feels like it’s going 8000 times faster so I assume it’s double because I’m prone to exaggeration)

 

You’re a Great Mom

05.8.11

One of the secrets of Motherhood is that women share knowledge. I imagine it’s part of our roots as the gatherers of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Women share a bit, mothers share a lot. You won’t find a community quite like the community of mothers anywhere else on earth.

When we’re pregnant we’re drawn to each other. We ask questions that appear to be intimate and overly personal, but as motherhood binds us to one another we find that the questions and their answers are intimate yet not intrusive. We want to support one another and so we find two pregnant women in an elevator talking about achy feet, weak bladders, frayed nerves and giant breasts. It is possible that the women don’t know each other’s names, but Motherhood binds us to one another in ways we hadn’t ever expected.

We ask questions:

Did you nurse? Yes. Did you bottle feed? Yes. No it wasn’t my choice with either child, it really and truly wasn’t but I’ll tell you about my experiences if it helps you.

Did you drop the baby? Why yes, twice. She is fine.

Did you cry a lot the first year? I cried for two years. I stopped crying long enough to get pregnant again so I guess I cried for four years. Hormones suck.

Did you rush your child off to school? I certainly did, but then I didn’t send my second one to school nearly enough. They’re both okay. I’m still waiting to do it right, but the kids think we did it right. Please don’t tell them differently.

Do you feel like a good mom at the end of the day? Not every day, but it’s just a feeling. Feelings aren’t truth.

The women who I’ve surrounded myself both in person and online have uplifted me, they’ve challenged me to be a better person, they’ve guided me when I’m lost and consoled me when I’ve screwed up. I’ve screwed up plenty.

The Moms who read me, who correspond with me and who share this journey with me are great moms. We have these moments where we think we’ve scarred our children, disappointed our significant other and embarassed our families, but they’re just moments.

You, my readers, my Mom guides are some of the most inspired and inspiring women I’ve known. Thank you for being great Moms. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with me. Thank you for your generosity of spirit and for taking this journey with me.

Great Moms, those Moms that share everything.

Ladies, don’t watch this if you don’t have your sense of humor in tact. Gentlemen, if you think you’d like to have sex again… like ever… don’t admit that this is funny.

An Open Letter to my Husband in Anticipation of Mother’s Day

05.4.11

Dear Mr. G.,

I don’t want much for Mother’s Day. I absolutely positively do not under any circumstances want to find myself in a restaurant with proper linens.

Maybe instead of taking them to a tennis lesson the four of us could just hit some balls? Maybe we’ll just sleep in a little?

I’d really like a compost tumbler. I don’t really want to have to dig through a compost bin and I’ve always wanted a tumbler. There are a few options for them and I’m not convinced that a $300 tumbler is two and a half times better than a $130 tumbler. I’m pretty sure the big box stores have them in stock. I like the ones that look like an old oil barrel, in fact in a perfect world we’d make our own from an oil barrel, but I guess we both know that our lives aren’t perfect. Damn near, but alas not perfect.

Can you also help me get the kids all situated for school on Saturday? I’m so pissed about the amount of work they have that I’m afraid I’m too grumpy with our general academic outlook to be a good mom. It’s only a few more weeks, and I’m trying to hold it together, but I’m not much of an actress.

So yeah, the compost tumbler would be amazing. I know it’ll be expensive and I could totally lie to you and say there’s some sort of education wrapped up in it somewhere, but we’re both pretty sure that’s just not true and that I just want it for myself.

I plan on being incredibly selfish Sunday (more than usual). I finally have a plan. Go me!

Jessica