13 Feb 2011

Working. Mom.

10 Comments Career, Family

It’s Pilot Season, which means a bunch of new shows have been bought by the networks, and they’re now auditioning for all of the roles. Every pilot season, actors audition their BUTTS off and hope for that one break that could totally change their life, or at least give them enough money to live on for six months.

Unfortunately, most of the roles are immediately offered to big celebs, which leave actors like me on the sidelines. But I look at pilot season as a chance to hone my skills, get new casting directors to see me, and possibly book something on a show.

I also recently started going back to auditioning for commercials. I stopped doing it when G was born because it’s a tad annoying, a lot of driving, and a lot of time spent for very little return. But if you book a few TV ads, it could mean some monetary breathing room for a little while. And, if you book a campaign, it could mean GREAT exposure.

There is other business news on the horizon, but nothing I want to mention just yet.

For about six months, I’ve been home with my little man and I’ve been loving every freaking second. On Thursday I kept him out of school and we went to the aquarium in Long Beach with my brother and G’s cousin. It was a great day. I felt “free”. I feel like it’s about to get quite busy for a while, and Thursday I had nothing scheduled. As usual, I was very aware of how short of a time I have with Garrett as a toddler. In a couple short years, he’ll be in real school and I won’t be able to keep him out whenever I feel like it. I’m so in love with being G’s mom, I wish these years could go on and on. But I do look forward to being his mom at every phase… From toddler to teen to his thirties and beyond.

I feel like I’m about to learn a lot about being a “working mom”. I just pray that I get to do it all: Work at the career I’ve chosen, and still be completely present and available as Garrett’s Mom. I hope I’m not being delusional. Because the last time I had a full-time job as a mom, it was very painful. And the hours were out of control. I am making a vow to not let that happen again. I will be the BEST I can be at both things. But I won’t let my career get in the way of my LIFE.

25 Oct 2010

Rituals

12 Comments Personal Crap

I keep wondering what my son’s rituals are going to be. We all have them, and as a kid I had nothing BUT them! I know Garrett already has some, like the stuff he does before bed. But I think I created some of those, like saying goodnight to the shadows because he used to be scared of them.

But when I was a kid, it probably really got under way when I was around five or six, I had a litany of things I’d do to get through the day. I did the typical “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” stuff. I’d accidentally step on a crack and go back to the beginning to fix it. Sometimes my 5 minute walk home from elementary school took 20. I’d play basketball on my driveway at home and say things like, “If I miss this basket, Mom will die.” Then I’d miss it and say, “I have to make three baskets in a row, and she’ll be okay.” Miss again. “I have to make five baskets in a row.” This would go on until I’d get however many baskets in a row I’d need to make everything right again. I’d rush to make sure I got it done before it was time for my mom to leave work. I didn’t want her driving home before I had saved her life.

I think that’s all fairly basic stuff. I also did the constant hand-washing, checking everything 100 times, making sure doors were locked… Oh WAIT! I still do all that stuff NOW! I’m not OCD, just slightly OCD. I’m SOCD. It clearly started years ago.

So, here’s where it gets weird. Please take this all in and try not to laugh at me. Not too hard, at least.

I prayed a lot. A whole lot. I’d pray for hours. I’d cry and pray until I fell asleep. Every night. Mom, if you’re reading this I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. It was just something I had to do. I’d pray that my family would be safe. I’d pray that Russia wouldn’t get us with the nuclear bombs. (Reminder to self: Don’t watch the news with Garrett around until he’s a teenager.) (Other not to self: You don’t watch the news, remember?) (Last note to self: Watch the news occasionally. You should be more informed.) I would pray and pray and pray. I’d say the same thing over and over hundreds of times, really fast. It involved people not being raped or murdered or harmed or looked at wrong or underdressed at a fancy event. No, seriously. It was odd. I think I thought of everything bad that could happen to a person, and prayed that it wouldn’t happen to anyone in my family or friends, or any “good, god-fearing people in the whole world.” I was a very concerned little girl. And sleep deprived from all the friggin’ praying. I still pray a lot, but sleep is more important to me now.

Here’s the thing I did that I never thought I’d admit to the world. I told my sis-in-law about it years ago, and she still brings it up today. I had over 100 stuffed animals. I knew all their names and I gave them each a sip of water before bed. But that’s not the thing. The thing is, whenever I’d go out of the house I’d talk to them. Here’s what I’d do: I’d say, “Tune in, tune in, tune in”, and then all of them could hear me. I’d talk to them in my head and I’d also let them in on all of my conversations and classes, because they could hear what was going on around me. If I wanted them to stop listening I’d say, “Tune out, tune out, tune out”. Here’s where the HILARIOUS part comes in. A lot of times I’d tune them in at the beginning of the day, then hours later I’d realize, “Oh SHIT! I never said ‘tune out!'” And I’d think, “Did I say anything horrible that I wouldn’t want MY STUFFED ANIMALS to hear?” Then I’d tune them in, just in case I HAD tuned them out, and I’d apologize for anything that might have offended them.

Oh my god. I just read that back. I’m a tool.

So, Garrett will obviously not be a normal child. My husband and I are both nut-bags when it comes to locking doors, setting alarms, waking up to make sure the oven is turned off… So I’m sure some of that will be passed on. And I can only assume the other crazy shit will somehow make it into his genes as well. I hope someday he writes a blog so I can find out what his rituals are, because otherwise I’ll never know. Unless I start a new ritual: Watching and listening to every little thing Garrett does or says. Oh wait, I already do that!

Please share some of your own childhood rituals so I can feel a little less crazy.

23 Oct 2010

Shout Out to the Dads

No Comments Uncategorized

I just want to say that several men, fathers to be exact, have approached me to tell me how much they love the blog. Namely, the “Spinning” post. It’s not like strangers are coming up to me, I want to be clear. I haven’t reached the level of fame (HA!) where anyone says, “Oh my God! Lisa Arch! Your blog changes lives!” But people I know and respect have mentioned to me that they have been affected or moved by some of my posts. That means the world to me.

I realized that I use the word “Mom” a lot. Let’s face it, I’m a Mom. I’m writing about being a Mom, and I’m assuming the majority of my readers are Moms. However, there are incredible Dads reading this too. And great Dads make the world a much better place. If you’ve been a regular reader, you know how much my amazing Daddy meant to me, and means to me still. I just wanted to say that I appreciate a good Dad. And I’m grateful to any of them who are reading my words, and gleaning any meaning from them.  I also happen to live with one of the World’s greatest Dads, so I know of what I speak.

SO!  Any of you men who happen to read this blog and think, “Hey! What about me?” Just know you are included in my thoughts. All of them. Consider “Mom” to mostly mean “Mom or Dad”, unless I’m talking about pregnancy or boobs or ova or uteri. Is it uteri? You get the point. 🙂

20 Oct 2010

It can’t all be bagels and cream cheese

5 Comments Family, Personal Crap

Growing up, my Grandma used to have us over frequently for Sunday brunch. It was a long drive from Woodland Hills to Fullerton, but just the thought of the bagels and lox, and blintzes and goodies that Grandma would make was totally worth the drive. She and my Grandpa (these are my dad’s folks) lived in a delightfully cozy little house that was immaculately kept and always smelled like something baking and my grandpa’s cologne. Oh, and pipe tobacco.

We always ate at the dining room table in front of the dry sink with the big, wooden salad bowl on it that now sits in my dining room, beneath a picture my dad painted when he was in his twenties. There was always a ton of laughter at the table and a lot of eating. Grandma always made the best coffee, too. A teaspoon for each cup of water plus one for the pot. I still do that today. My grandpa would sit at the head of the table and cut all of our bagels with a giant, serrated knife. I would watch his hands, tanned from golfing with long fingers and thin knuckles. There was something incredibly deliberate and delicate about the way he cut a bagel. I can see it so vividly now.

Grandma would have everything prepared and get up constantly to make sure we all had what we needed. She’d always make sure our elbows were off the table, our napkins were on our laps, and we weren’t talking with our mouths full. Grandpa would usually tell some brilliantly hilarious story, complete with 9 different accents. He was one of the last great story tellers. After we ate, she’d bring out homemade cookies or rice pudding or chocolate cake. Then we’d all go into the family room where there would be a newspaper opened to the bridge section on the table and a book that someone was in the middle of reading. My parents and grandparents would talk about life and politics and my brother and I would play with their metal tic tac toe set or watch TV, or go into the office and look at Grandpa’s things.

I swear I look back at these times as “Rockwellian”. I feel like you could paint a picture of any of these brunch Sundays and hang it in a store that sells Americana. And it would sell. My grandpa passed away when I was 14 and I was devastated. For weeks I felt like I was walking through fog. The next ten years, my grandma and I became very good friends. As soon as I got my driver’s license, I would drive to Fullerton for lunches or dinners just to hang out and talk. She was still cooking and baking, but we’d eat at the kitchen table now; the dining room saved for only very special occasions. She loved to know everything that was going on with me, with boys, and with friends. We’d shop for clothes together. I still have a skirt I bought the last time I shopped with her. I can’t throw it out. That was 15 or 16 years ago.

After my grandpa passed away, my grandma was still very social, very active. She dressed beautifully and exercised daily. But there was a tiny bit of her that had clearly changed. A part of her that was lost. I wonder what my niece and nephew see in my mom now. Is she different to them? She isn’t to me. She’s just in mourning. Grandma passed away when I was 24. She did it gracefully, just like she lived her life. One day I’ll tell you the story.

Tonight Garrett was walking around using his baseball bat as a cane. He put on a different voice and came into the kitchen saying, “Hello!” I said hi and asked him who he was. “I’m Grandpa! The one with Grandma Joan!” I asked if he meant Grandpa Art. “Yes! Grandpa Art! Do you want to come with me?” I said, “Sure! Where are we going?” “Just to my room”, he said. I bent down and hugged him a little too hard. “I miss you, Grandpa Art”, I said. “It’s good to see you.”

Garrett won’t remember much about his Grandpa. Heck, he only knows him walking with a cane or a walker, and that didn’t happen until the last year or so. I hate that he won’t have a memory of him like I do of my grandfather. I hate that he won’t know what my mom was like when she was around my dad. But I sure as hell hope he knows her until he’s well into his teens. I’m so lucky I was able to know my grandparents as long as I did. I had my mom’s mom around until I was 21, too. She was sweet and beautiful and could cook anything better than I’ll ever be able to. I can’t stand that Garrett won’t have stories about my dad. But I’ll tell him as many as I can, and I hope he can see him in those stories the way I see my grandpa still today. At least he’s thinking about him. And he let me see him for a minute tonight, too. That’s a start.

I’ll tell you what I just realized reading this post back. Garrett will have all of these people in his life forever. The way I make my coffee, and will teach him to make it. The way we laugh at meal time (and ALL the time), the traditions we have that will be passed down. The storytelling and the discipline. The foods that we love, the games that we play. All of this is a part of me because of Them. And all of it will be a part of Garrett. That is a very comforting thought. As comforting as a bagel with cream cheese on a Sunday morning in Fullerton.

01 Oct 2010

Mom Quote

3 Comments Uncategorized

Tonight my mom said, “I’m thinking of getting a mug and training it in a litter box.”

She meant pug. Either way, it’s not a good idea.

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