Excuses

excuses

by Lindsay Gallagher on 11/27/2011

It’s been a while since my last blog.  It’s been weeks since I’ve written anything at all.  Maybe it’s writers block.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been pre-occupied by the following:

  1. Discovering termites: 6 infestations/2 estimates.
  2. Spaying Flowers.  In an attempt to find a better/cheaper vet, I switched to a fancier, more expensive one and opted for high-tech laser surgery.
  3. Tess home with sore throat.  Strep tests.  Negative.  Phew.
  4. The resignation of Ronan’s teacher.
  5. Report card #1 – Ronan.
  6. Veteran’s Day – no school.  Also,  Joe’s birthday.  The date – 11/11/11 –  was believed by some to signify the end of the world.
  7. Housing smashed off my driver’s-side mirror while parked on Melrose.
  8. Nutcracker rehearsals week #9.
  9.  Last week of fall ball season.  Go Warriors!
  10. Dog sitting.  4 days/nights with 3 dogs.
  11. Bagging (or chucking) all food and beauty products that have accumulated in my house over the past 6 years.
  12. Research and subsequent fear of Vikane and Chloropicrin.
  13. Stomach flu #1 –Tess.
  14. Early dismissal week – Ronan.
  15. Tenting and evacuation at 7am on a school day.
  16. The annihilation of termites (and anything else living in the walls/floors/ceilings of our house).
  17. Palm Springs.
  18. Re-entering house.  Chloropicrin is tear gas.  Fun times.
  19. Un-bagging food etc.  To eat or not to eat?
  20. Nasty cough #1 – me.  (Or epic Palm Springs Hangover? Or annual Nutcracker sickness #4?)
  21.  Teacher conference #1– Ronan.  New teacher is better than the last.  🙂
  22. Nutcracker rehearsal week #10.
  23. Baseball tournament.  Go Warriors!
  24. Stomach Flu #2 – me.
  25. Joe’s knees.
  26. Report card #2– Tess.
  27. Nasty cough #2 – Ronan.
  28. Drama-girl drama.
  29. Half-day for Ronan.  Dr’s appointment.  Inhaler prescribed.
  30. Thanksgiving with friends.  🙂
  31.  A rat bite in an apple on our kitchen island.  No droppings.  No other signs.  Impressive rodent must have moved into termite-free house.
  32.  Stomach flu #3 – Ronan.  (Or over-zealous turkey-eating?)
  33.  HUGO.  🙂
  34.  Rat hunt.
  35.  Capture/execution of rat.  Thank you, Joe!
  36. Tess’s tears over the murder of the “cute” rat.  I warned her not to look.

Now we are in Nutcracker rehearsal week #11.  Next week Tess has half days and a teacher conference.  The following week Joe goes back to work– yay – Ronan has a baseball tournament and a swim meet, and the ballet company loads into the theater.  Christmas lights are already going up around the neighborhood.  Thankfully, today everyone seems healthy.  And miraculously I have a minute while the laundry is in the dryer.

This isn’t quite writing, but it’s a start.

 

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Sister Wives

sisterwivesby Lindsay Gallagher on 11/4/2011

Heather Boylston, my Halloween sister wife, and me all dolled up. Special thanks to Heather for contributing to this post.

 

 

For Halloween my girlfriend, Heather, and I dressed as polygamist sister wives.  When we thought of it a year ago, we knew it was perfect for us.  We would wear those “modest” dresses; we would tease up our hair.  We were thrilled to have a creative solution to the quandary that is Halloween:  how to dress up and not look like a fool or a hooker or both.  Honestly, as mothers whose husbands work long hours, we have often joked that polygamy might be the way to go.  Sure, the sister wives we were dressed as live on a compound in the middle of nowhere and have all sorts of other restrictions beyond the style of their hair. (And they have to marry a hundred year old man)  In modern Los Angeles, we feel there are even more advantages to teaming up.

  1. Siblings.  Both of us have two kids, a girl and a boy.  When we were getting dressed for the party at my house, Ronan and Tess were fighting about what movie they wanted to see.  “But that’s for boys!” Tess wailed.  “I bet you wish we could just trade kids,” Heather said to Ronan.  He cocked his head to one side.  “Boys here, girls at my house – then you’d never have to have this fight.”   “Yes,” Ronan said.  “Please,” he begged.  Oh to have a brother!  Or for Tess to have a sister, someone to sing with/to, to play dress up or pop star or whatever it is they do.  How nice to have four kids, but only carry two!
  2. Food/cooking:  Since we don’t grow food, we have to shop at supermarkets like Trader Joe’s that often package their food for the giant family neither of us have.  Five pounds of sweet potatoes, six avocadoes – something always goes bad.  Together we could buy whole trays of berries at the farmer’s market and bulk items from Costco.  As cooks, we’d have twice the variety and half the clean-up fatigue.  Even take-out works better with more mouths to feed.  Try ordering Chinese for 2 ½.  Sometimes we don’t even hit the delivery minimum.
  3. Clothing:  Heather and I are about the same size, so we would double our options.  All our dresses would get out more and those nice tops we splurged on would suddenly seem cheap.  We could go halfsies on big-ticket items like an Hermés purse or a Gucci belt.  If we had the same shoe size, we could even afford a pair of Louboutin shoes.
  4. Housing:  Over the years we have even discussed buying a duplex, which was ultra appealing back in our baby-monitor days.  How wonderful to pop over to her side while our babies slept.  As it was, we were trapped, our husbands at work, kids sleeping, alone with a TV and a bottle of wine.  Living in the same house would be so much more fun, especially since we watch the same junky shows.
  5. Tennis:  A few years ago, there was a duplex on the market with a shared tennis court.  We could have been both partners and opponents, playing every single day.  Venus and Serena are the pro tour’s sister act – Heather and I could have been the Westside Tennis League’s sister wife act.
  6. Partying:  When Heather was under the teasing comb, I made the drinks.  We hitched a ride together with friends and kept each other company in the back seat.  There was karaoke at the party, something I would never do alone.  But I had fearless Heather by my side.  (Once we were good and tipsy, we sang “We Are Family.”)  When I was ready to leave, but Heather had only begun her assault on the greatest hits of the past three decades, her husband gave me a ride.  What a fun family of drinking buddies, bartenders and designated drivers we would be.  Even better if we had another wife to stay home with the kids.

Of course there is the sticky issue of sharing one man.  Heather has the best answer for that:  “Go ask Lindsay, I’m tired.”

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Reentry

reentry

by Lindsay Gallagher on 10/26/2011

The Playboy Club was cancelled a few weeks ago.  It did poorly in the ratings and was expensive to make, so after three weeks on the air, it was canned.  The text I received from Joe the morning after the third show aired read: Cancelled ;-(

For some reason, it was national news.  Must have been trending on the Yahoo home page, must have made The New York Times, because everywhere I went that day, people told me they’d “heard the bad news.”

Joe was bummed – he’d worked hard, the show looked great – he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

“I’m happy that daddy will be home soon, but sad that they cancelled his show,” Tess said.

“Well, that’s a good thing, right?”  Ronan said.

This is how I processed the info:

  • I knew it.
  • It will be nice to have Joe home.
  • I can’t believe they only gave it three weeks.
  • Thank God they are finishing the next episode.  I don’t know why they are bothering, but it means two more weeks of work.
  • The weekends will be so much better.  I won’t have choose between the kids.
  • I should have saved more money.
  • I hope he isn’t out of work through Christmas.
  • It’s a good thing we already paid for our Mammoth trip.
  • We eat too much.
  • Why don’t I have a job???
  • Joe can take Ronan to his baseball games.
  • Joe’s going to be in the house, stressed about work.
  • How will I get the kids to do their homework with the distraction?
  • It will all work out.  It has to, right?
  • The kids need braces.
  • We’re screwed.
  • We can always sell the house.
  • Pilot season is just around the corner.
  • The Dow Jones is down 200 points.
  • Ugh.

I used to be laid back about these things, always reassuring Joe and myself that another job will come, maybe a better one that it was “meant to be,” that we will survive.  But it’s harder now.  We have more expenses and obligations.  I never used to be that wife who nagged:  “Did you call your agent yet?”  But I am now.  I worry.  I have regrets.

We are more than a week into reentry and all I can say about it, is that it is a real thing.  Joe arrived home gloomy and on edge.  LA was disgustingly hot – 100 degrees – while back in glorious Chicago all the trees were turning and it was “real” fall.  It took him two days to adjust to the flurry of activity/drama/noise that is Tess.  There wasn’t enough food.  We ran out of  milk, eggs, bread, cookies, pretzels, hummus, blueberries, Advil and toilet paper.  The only thing I thought to add to my shopping list was a nice bottle of Scotch.  There were a few choice fighting words between us.  One was away working his ass off while the other was playing tennis.  One was slaving over the children while the other was out living it up in a bachelor’s pad.  There is just something about reentry that brings out the mean.  An actress once told me that when her husband returned from location, they declared a two week moritorioum on certain words, the top one being “divorce.”  It was good advice.  On the bright side, Joe was instantly devoted to our new pup, Flowers, even though the excitement of his return sparked a peak in potty-training accidents.  The time change worked in our favor.  Often when a show ends, Joe’s been working nights, so reentry involves several days of sleeping-in.  The weekends were tremendously improved.  We divided and conquered.  Ronan broke out of his hitting “slump” with dad back in the bleachers, and has since pleased himself, Joe and his teammates with several home runs.  Tess stopped accusing me of “only caring about Ronan.”  I can once again watch her rehearsals, drive her home in between classes and relax over our 6″ turkey Subway sandwiches instead of forcing her to inhale it in the car. And Job-wise it looks like Joe’s going to be fine.  So thankfully, all those who refused to participate in my spiral-of-woes, were right.

I was pissed about the rollercoaster, but in the end, I don’t think it’s really that much worse for us.  Sure, being at the mercy of the Nielsen ratings sucks, but right now there are very few professions that are care-free, very few people who can just sit back and relax.  And last week, after the dust started to settle, Joe and I even had the time to take in a matinee.

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Master of None

masterofnonetop

by Lindsay Gallagher on 10/3/2011

My Household

 

Three months into my stint as a full time “film widow” I’ve come to realize that I have a lot of jobs and that I do none of them well.  I’m losing my edge and if I were my boss, I would be fired because of my performance at the following tasks:

Tutor:  I never took a course in education, but I’m pretty certain teachers are not supposed to say: “Are you kidding me?” when students get an answer wrong.  Or: “Really?  How can you not know that?”  Then there is: “Just do it,” which I don’t say in the motivational Nike way.  I could play math games with my kids, or Scrabble, but I don’t.  After dinner and homework I don’t have the brain power, let alone the patience, empathy or nerves.

Cook:  It’s fair to say that I do have the skills to be a good cook, which makes my recent ineptitude even more disappointing.  I used to make intricate meals like homemade ravioli and matzo ball soup.  Now my kids are lucky if they get three home-cooked dinners a week.  (They do get hot breakfasts – thank God for the incredible edible egg!)  I’m not sure when I lost my interest or my touch.  Maybe when the kids rejected everything I cooked?  Maybe it was cleaning all those pots and pans?  I went from someone who sautéed oysters and julienned carrots to a short order cook who only serves two or three mediocre meals.

Housekeeper:  Before I had kids, I would scour my house once a week: mop, vacuum, dust, scrub.  I would get down on my hands and knees.  Now I have help and I find it hard to throw my morning paper in the recycle bin.  Right now, I am typing at my kitchen counter along side a box of granola bars, Cheerios, Lysol disinfecting wipes, one oven mitt, one tea bag, one plastic cup, a stapler, kitchen tongs, the new remote for the garage door and the receipt, Joe’s car keys, a dish towel, a giant pine cone, a stack of placemats, my babysitting co-op paperwork, a pencil, my sunglasses, my iPhone, and of course, this lap top.  All that and a sink on a 5’x3’ surface.  Don’t even get me started on the kitchen table!  At some point, I will put away all that debris, the allergy pills that are out, Tess’s hot pink nail polish, that newspaper, open to a racy add for HUNG.  There are people who never even let that stuff collect, who would enter my house and break out in hives.  I could try harder, but I don’t.  I’m too lazy or bored or both.  Sometimes I walk around my house dazed by the endlessness of the chores.  Sometimes I decide to clean the moldings and wipe down the fingerprints on the walls.  I find myself, hours later, exasperated, scrubbing the floorboards with a toothbrush, hopeless because each inch I tackle only brings me to another dirty inch.

Chauffeur:  As you know, I drive carpools.  My charges have never been tardy for school and I’ve not been in an accident (notice the order of importance!), but in the past month I’ve taken a car full of ball players to the wrong field, dropped off half way through a dance class because I misread the schedule, and arrived at afternoon pick-up ten minutes late, which meant hunting down four kids, three of which were not my own, in after-school care.  Two weekends ago, I dropped Tess at a party so I could drive Ronan to his baseball game thirty minutes away in Monterey Park.  Tess called from the party:  “Can you pick me up,” “No, honey, I can’t.”  “But I want to go home.” “I’m faraway, even if I leave now, I won’t be there for a long time.” “But I want to go home.”  I rushed to my car, accidentally lugging the team snack back up the hill to the parking lot, which meant I had to run it all the way back down to the dugout.  Not only did I miss the end of that game and all of the second one, but I was also late to get Tess.  I don’t think she ate before her rehearsal, but I didn’t ask because I didn’t have time to stop at Subway, which is one of the few foods she will eat.  (Turkey on white with olive oil and black olives. Yuck!)

Gardener:  I’ve always been terrible at this and I still am.  Tess told me yesterday it was time for us to plant for spring.  I have no idea what she meant.

Homemaker:  I keep a running list of improvements and repairs, but lately I have let them pile up.  Light bulbs needs changing, clothes need sorting, there is a medicine cabinet on my second flood landing that should be hung on the bathroom wall.  The new puppy hasn’t helped.  She destroyed a chair a week after I’d had it fixed and has chewed holes in all my sofa cushions.  (I did manage to mend those when the seamstress at the dry cleaner refused.)  I have no idea how I completely redid two houses while the kids were babies.  Now I have trouble hanging art on the walls.

Accountant:  Unfortunately, I am generally good at this, so even though I find bill paying/bank account balancing and managing investments odious, in this household it falls on me.  While I have not yet led us in to ruin, I certainly could do better.  For instance, I could budget, but that feels like a diet and all diets ever do is make me eat.  My biggest spending weaknesses are anything for the kids.  Need a new bat, leotard, pair of sneakers, just ask mom.  Fancy hair pins, baseball pants, cotillion clothes….I can’t say no.  The other is travel.  I might find lots of great deals to get us started, but once were through airport security, I throw all financial caution to the wind.  You might here me say: “You only live once,” “We may never be here again,”  or “We’ve come this far, I’m not going to skimp now.”

Tennis player:  To be as good as I’d like to be, I should to take lessons every week.  Not only do I not have time to do that, but I spent the money on a new baseball glove.  A match can take three hours, after which I am exhausted and often down on myself (for losing) which makes me ever worse at all of the above jobs I need to do.

Fashionista:  I used to care a great deal about clothes, but now I am thrilled to wear that perfect pair of yoga pants.  Every day.  Why not?  Unless I’m going somewhere special, I hardly see the point in being uncomfortable.  Every once and awhile, I wear a little sun dress or some nice top, blow dry my hair, but then no one knows who I am.

Pet Owner:  The picture says it all.  Sorry PETA — I turned my back  for one minute and Tess buttoned Flowers into Kit’s American Girl Doll dress.

Wife:  To be honest, I could be a lot better at this, too.  In the few moments I get with Joe on the phone, I should probably say things like: “Thank you for working so hard,” or “We miss you so much.”  Even knowing he’s on a set filled with 20-year-old Bunnies, doesn’t stop me from complaining or boring him with a list of child-related dramas.

Writer:  I’m so busy sucking at the rest of my obligations, I barely even have time for this blog.

Thankfully, I have tenure and I’m cheap.  For all of my faults, my kids still tell they love me every night.

Sky the night I wrote this blog.

masterofnoneend

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SUV Mom

suvmom

by Lindsay Gallagher on 09/19/2011

My kids don’t play soccer, but by the size of my vehicle, other motorists might mistake me for a “soccer mom.”  No, I don’t have an AYSO sticker, but I do have an SUV.  A Volvo XC90, just like 20% of the other moms in the carpool line.  When I first bought this car, I felt like a pig.  I tried to give it back – seriously – because I hated it so much.  We can’t even discuss the mileage.  But the truth is, the other day I picked up six kids from school, reducing the number of cars in the line, which stretches around the block, by three.  This weekend I am already scheduled to drive several boys to their baseball games and several girls to rehearsals.  Most of the time, when someone asks if I can drive their child home, I can say yes, because I have room, unless of course, my kids already have a ride with another SUV mom.

I know, we SUV moms have a bad reputation, and maybe we deserve it.  Yes, sometimes I am a bully on the road, but only if you’re texting at a stop sign while my kids are waiting at some field or in some lobby or in the hot sun at school. I am either in a hurry to collect them or more of a hurry to unload them.  There is nothing like eight-year-olds and eleven-year-olds (and all ages in between) fighting over Justin Bieber to make a mother step on the gas.  So if you’re blocking a two-way driveway, yes, I might use my big ass tires to hop the curb.  I don’t have time to wait in the oncoming traffic for you to find just the right opening.  God forbid anyone in my carpool is tardy because you slowed down to check your email or dial a call.

I try not to honk.  Honking just doesn’t fly in LA like it does in New York.  Instead I sit behind cars going 5mph in a 30mph zone and say things like: “Are you kidding me?”  “Honk,” my kids yell.  Joe has even reached over and hit my horn himself.  But with all the rides I’ve driven over the past nine years, one thing I know is that I don’t have time to get into a honk-induced road rage war.

Here are some carpool highlights that might explain the grimace (or smile) on this turbo driver’s face:

 

“Ronan’s mom?”

“Yes?”

“I have a sore throat.”

I turned to see a boy with a red rash on his cheeks, sweat in his hairline.

“Since when?”

“Last night. I had a fever of a hundred and one.”

“Your son has scarlet fever,” I told his mother when I dropped him at her door.

(The doctor confirmed I was right.)

 

“Lindsay?”

“Yes?”  We were in thick afternoon traffic.

“I have to pee.”

“Now?”

“Now.”

I turned to see the little girl clearly ready to burst.  Nothing like dragging three six-year-olds into a public restroom at a neighborhood park.

“Don’t touch anything,” I said.

 

“Mrs. Gallagher?

“Yes?”

“What is it with this family and reggae?”

 

“I think Justin Bieber is talented,” Tess said the other day.

“He sucks.  He only sings about girls.”  Ronan was about to pull out his hair.  Tess had been singing for five blocks.

“What else is there to sing about?”  Tess said.

 

Mostly, the kids are hilarious.  They talk about the things they would do if they had “all the money in the world”; the teams they love or detest (there is no grey area it seems); the music they listen to (also black and white).  I hear some great jokes and some real stinkers, all of which get about the same amount of laughs.  Some kids are helpful, telling me where to turn to avoid a long left-turn lane.  Some kids inform me that their mother would never let them eat the snack my kids have or listen to what’s playing in the car.  There is the ongoing messy-car competition, which I usually win.  Honestly, I feel privileged to have a seat with such a great view, a window into their generation.  It’s worth all the crumbs and tears, the bubble gum stains and rotten banana peels – the germs!  It’s even worth the dirty looks I get from Prius drivers, even though my full car cuts my footprint.  At the end of each trip, I get such a sweet reward:

“Thank you so much for the ride, Mrs. Gallagher.”

“Thank you, Lindsay.”

“See you tomorrow, Tess’s mom.”

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Mamma’s Boy

mammasboy

By Lindsay Gallagher on 09/2/2011

“Mamma! Come swimming with me!” Ronan ran towards me, dripping wet, with a big smile on his face. He tossed his boogie board into the sand. “Come on, mamma, please.” I was sitting in my beach chair reading and “chillaxing,” as Ronan and Tess like to say. But I couldn’t turn down such a request, so I pulled myself up out of my reclined position and followed him into the big So Cal waves. I screamed when the first one hit my belly. “But it’s warm, mamma. You have to get all the way in.” Ronan threw himself on top of a broken wave then popped up laughing. “Just jump in, mamma. Jump in.” “It’s takes me a minute.” The break was bigger than at the Jersey Shore, where I used to wade out with my mother for hours. The water was colder, just under 70 degrees, but still way warmer than what we’re used to up in LA. And it was so clear I could see my feet. “Mamma, come on.” I leaned back as the waves retreated then braced myself as they built again. When the right one appeared, I dove under and let it pull my up on the other side.

“Isn’t this awesome?” Ronan said.

“It is.”

Like when I was a kid, I dove all the way to the sand as another barrel collapsed over me. “Let’s swim out,” I said, urging him under the next wave. I like to get to the other side. “Swim to me,” I said.

He reached out and grabbed my hand. This may be the last time he ever does this, I thought. Right now, he’s still calls me “mamma.” He wants to swim with me. He holds my hand. “Big wave coming,” he yelled and we dove under just in time. We spent last weekend together on the beach in Laguna Niguel. Tess had been invited on an end-of-summer vacation with another family, so Ronan and I were on our own – just the two of us, for three days. He loved the fancy room with matching double-beds. And ordering room service for our “movie night.” On Saturday, we dined at the hotel restaurant. I had a cocktail and he had a ginger ale as we watched the sun set over the Pacific.

“When you live on the East Coast,” I said, “You never get to see the sunset over the ocean.”

“So for you and daddy, this is a really big deal.”

“Totally. I mean, you can see a sunrise over the Atlantic, but who wants to get up that early.”

“Yeah,” he agreed.

“Come on,” I said, after we were stuffed. He followed me to the stairs that plunged off the cliff then down to the beach. The waves were steadily crashing; the tide was rolling in. We took off our shoes and ran in the sand.

“Mamma, get your feet wet,” he said when he caught me dodging the surf. So I did. I ran along with him as we tried to pick out the Big Dipper and the North Star. “Thank you so much for bringing me to this beach, mamma,” he said. “This is so fun.” He gave me a big hug.

“Thank you for coming with me.”

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To-do

todo

by Lindsay Gallagher on 08/17/2011

I make a to-do lists.  Some on paper, some in the Notes app on my iPhone, some in my head. (Least affective by far!)

This past Saturday, I threw a party for Ronan’s 11th birthday.

“I want the game bus again,” he’d said when I asked a month earlier.  While I don’t think playing Xbox on a camper is the most evolved activity, it certainly is easy for me.  Mad Dog Games pulls up, the boys file into the party-camper and two hours later I serve them all pizza and cake.

PARTY LIST

Walk dogs√

Clean back yard√

Cake, drinks and chips√

“Shit,” I said when I saw 2 cars parked next to my driveway.  I forgot that Mad Dog requires 60 feet for his vehicle.  It wasn’t on my list.

“Ronan, see that car?  Call me when it moves.”

While I was on my way to get balloons – Martina was with the kids – Ronan called.

“The car left.”

“Go out and skateboard in the spot.  Don’t let anyone park.”

Parking for Mad Dog√

Balloons√

When I got home, I had less than a half hour till the party.

Order pizza√

Shower√

Lock up dogs√

I was just in time for Mad Dog who was just in time for the first guests.  The boys loaded into the truck, except for those playing RockBand on the exterior screens.  They came  inside for pizza and drinks when they were hungry enough to tear themselves away.

One stumbled up into my back yard, bent over and puked.

“Whoa.  Are you okay?”  He kept puking.  “Oh, dear.  Goodness.”   Even more.  “Oh sweetie.”

Clean up vomit√

Don’t puke while cleaning up vomit√

“I’m sorry,” the boy said.

“It’s okay.  Are you okay?”

“My tummy hurts.”

Call sick kid’s dad√

“How are we doing on time?” I asked Mad Dog.  The boys — and a toddler passerby — were jamming to “Our Lips Are Sealed,” by the Go-Gos.  One of them glanced at me when I joined in. “How do you know that song?” I asked.

“I don’t.”

Pay Mad Dog√

Serve cake√

Open presents√

Make list for thankyou notes√

Hand out party favors√

“Can I stay longer?” one boy asked.

“Sorry, I can’t do it.”  It’s not on the list and I’m on a roll.

“Can Ronan come to my house?”  Not on the list.  There is something else on the list, what was it??  “He’s going to a ball game.”

Meanwhile, I was still trying to make sure no one left empty handed, thanking the guests for coming, and saying my goodbyes.

Ronan’s party√

The birthday boy was flying his new remote chopper, so I took a breather in front of the tv. The Blindside was on, so I sat on the sofa and wept.

“Can I play with that?” Tess whined at Ronan.

“No.”

“That’s not fair.”

“You can have my remote car,” Ronan said.

“It has no batteries.” Her whine was louder now, interfering with my moment of HBO zen.

“Mom, I need batteries,” Tess said.

I looked at my watch.  I had to make a bean salad as a potluck contribution for a party that night.  Because Go To Party was also on my to-do list – it was the finish line.  The batteries would get Tess off my back for at least a few minutes.

“I’ll go,” I said, grabbing my bag.

“Can you get me some candy?” Tess asked.

“No.”

“Can you make me a guacamole face mask?”

I left, pretending not to hear.

Once I had unscrewed the screws, which were stripped, and changed the batteries, Tess was driving the remote car and I was back on task.  I turned up my iPod and chopped.  I strained the beans and toasted the cumin.  This is pleasant, I thought, why don’t I do this more?

“Mommy.” Ronan waved an iTunes gift card in my face.  “How do I use this on my phone?”

“I don’t know,” I said, measuring olive oil.

“Can you help me?  I want to buy an app.”

I Googled it.

“Oh, you have time to help him, but you can’t make me a face mask?”  Tess chirped in my ear.

“I have to redeem the card on my computer,” I said, once again ignoring Tess’s request.

Enter Password, the computer ordered.

The password you have entered is incorrect.

The password you entered does not match your apple ID.

Forgot your password?  Click here.

OMG!!!!  None of this is on my list.  Not the fucking batteries, not fucking iTunes.  I was on:  Grind Cumin.  I was on:  Whisk.

“Are you crying, mommy?” Tess asked.

It took at least 30 minutes to redeem Ronan’s cards and in the process I changed all of my passwords so now none of my software works.  But I didn’t know that then and I didn’t care.  I was on:  Fold in tomatoes.

Chipotle Bean Salad√

The sitter was only an hour away.

Ronan picked up for game√

“That’s not fair,” Tess said.

“But you get the cute sitter all to yourself.”

“I have an idea – you can make me a spa day.”

“Now?”

“Yeah, why not?”

“It’s 6:30, Tess.  I’m making your dinner and then I’m leaving.”

“Don’t we have cucumbers?”

“No?”

“Or guacamole?”

“No.”

“But I want a spa.”

This is where I contemplated pouring myself a drink.  I mean, it was past six p.m., I was cooking, just a little nip to take the edge off.  But I hadn’t reached it on my list.

“Sister, I got nothing left,” I said.  “I got you a friend, I got you a party favor, I got you the batteries.  There’s no more.  I’m out.  That’s it.  I don’t got no sunset spa-day.”  But I then I felt guilty, so I convinced her that a bath would do, then scrounged around for some “fancy” hotel bath gels and body creams.

“I smell like an orange,” Tess said.

I pretty much left the new sitter to fend for herself:  “Dinner’s here, tvs there, key works in both doors.”

It must have been written all over my face because as soon as I arrived at the party the lovely hostess showed me the bar.

Drink√

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Mommy Dearest

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by Lindsay Gallagher on 08/9/2011

When I was ten years old I suffered from my first bout of insomnia.  I was a mess, up all night crying because I couldn’t fall asleep.  I would watch the lights across the backyards go dark one after the other, like a countdown, till I was the last person in Park Slope still awake.  Needless to say, this was a major drag for my mother, who worked late in her studio downstairs, and for my brother, whose room was down the hall.

“Maybe you should read before bed,” my exasperated mother suggested.

“There’s one book I’m really interested in, but it’s too hard – would you read it to me?”

“Okay.  What is it?”

“Mommy Dearest.”

I was thrilled when she let me run out to the Community Book Store.  I had been dying to read that book, but the small print in the fat glossy red paperback was too daunting.  So my mother sat next to my bed every night for several weeks and read Mommy Dearest to me aloud.

Oh Joan, you were such a bitch!  The most atrocious mother of them all!

30 years later, I still think of that book often.  Of course, I cannot stand wire hangers.  Who could after that?  But they don’t make me see red.  My “wire hangers” are snack wrappers, which I find strewn across the floor, or wedged in between the cushions of the sofa in front of the TV.  The worst are the sticky ones from “granola” bars or ice-cream.

“I said: “No snack wrappers!!!!!!!”

Another moment in the book (and the movie) that I am often reminded of is the scene when the kids awaken Joan from her “beauty sleep” the morning of her audition for Mildred Pierce.

(Here I must segue briefly:  Joan, you may have been a terrible mother, but you sure nailed that roll.  What in the world were they thinking when they remade it with poor Kate Winslet, in New York, of all the ridiculous places to shoot a movie about Glendale.  Kate, how could you let them turn you into such a frump?   And writers, you even ruined Veda, the evilest villainess of all time.  As far as I’m concerned, the only redeeming thing in that HBO remake was Guy Pearce’s ass.)

Anyway, in Mommy Dearest, the kids are playing on her sprawling Beverly Hills lawn when Joan throws open her bedroom shutters, face covered in night cream, and unleashes a fiery tirade.  It’s scary and terrible, the kids were only laughing and having fun, but I’m still an insomniac, so as much as I hate to say it, I can kind of relate.

“Mommy?  Are you awake?”  Tess said the other morning, grabbing my lower arm.

“I am now.”

I admit my tone was not nice.  I didn’t say:  “Oh honey, climb in with me and cuddle.”

In my defense, I was up with those children for years without complaint.  But they were too young to remember, so those selfless late nights won’t make it into their memoirs.  Bummer.

“Why did you wake me?” I asked Tess, checking the time, realizing that I’d been robbed of a precious half-hour.  Thirty minutes!   How could you??  I thought.  No, I don’t have a big audition at the studio, but I also don’t have a driver or a nanny or a live-in maid.  The puppy woke me up twice.  I had to sit with her in the back yard at 3am.  And daddy is in Chicago!  “It’s just, I’m a better mother when I get a good night’s sleep.”

“I’m sorry, mommy.”

I’m sorry too.  I wish I was nicer.  At least I’m not as bad as Joan:

JOAN

(seething)

What did you say?

CHRISTINA

(stifled hatred)

I said, “I’m sorry, Mommy Dearest.”

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Film Widow

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by Lindsay Gallagher on 07/30/2011

I don’t generally like the term “film widow.”  After all, my husband is alive and well – and working, which is a good thing.  But he’s in Chicago for several months, which blows.  It’s not death, I get it – like I said, I don’t like the term, but it seems to be the accepted name for the left-behind spouses of location crews.  I even debated blogging only about my life as a so called “film widow,” but if living it is a total drag – writing about it every week would be worse.

Before the kids were born, I worked in the camera department, so I’m used to the long, wildly varied hours and strange habits of movie peeps. (Joe shot True Blood a few summers ago, which for obvious reasons, shoots mostly at night. The kids and I had to creep around during the day while he slept.  We kept the curtains drawn, lights out — treated Joe like vampire Bill himself.)  I’m used to dinner with the kids (great way to lose weight), attending parties solo, (always hitch a ride so I can DRINK), and communicating with Joe via email alerts:  Tess has strep; Ronan hit a double; There is mail for you on the dining room table, please read or toss.

But I just can’t get used to when he flat out leaves town.

When Ronan was 3 months old, Joe went to NYC for six months.  There was the tv show south of San Diego, a movie in Washington state.  You’d think by now, I’d have found some ways to cope, but it gets harder every time.  Two years ago Joe did a 5-month stint in New Mexico.  That was after the devastating WGA strike, which pretty much wiped out our savings, so I was psyched about the job, plus Albuquerque is not that far away, right?  Wrong.  That fall, both kids played soccer (I was a coach even though I’d never played in my life!), and Tess was in her first Nutcracker.  The flight times were such that Joe rarely made it home.  Every week, with its lunches, practices, rehearsals and homework, was a colossal countdown: 4 days to go, 3, 2….  To me, there is nothing worse than wishing my days away.  Not to mention, there was no end-zone – weekends were the worst.

Yes, I’m snarky!  I’m looking at 5 months, maybe more, of parenting alone.  Yes, it could be worse, Joe could be in the army, though if that were the case, we probably never would have met.  Because I met him on a movie set!  Hello!  I knew all along what I was getting myself into.  I was only 22, but I knew.  Which is why it’s taken me this long to blog my complaints.  Here’s what’s bottled up:

  • I’m so not psyched to visit Chicago.  It’s either +1000 degrees there or -1000 degrees.  I’ve been there in both.  Joe will be working 14-hour days, so I’ll be alone with two kids who fight 24/7, without a friend – or sitter — in sight.  Sorry, but that does not spell vacay.  Ronan wants to go on a “food tour,” so on top of everything, I expect to get really fat just in time to visit Joe on the set of The Playboy Club.  That’s right, my husband is spending the next several months surrounded by Playboy bunnies.   “The show is good,” I told Joe after watching the pilot.  “But there sure are a lot of boobies.”
  • I’m terrified about the school year.  The kids are at two different locations and they have wildly varied activities.  There is more homework, plus test prep for Ronan.  I’m fucked.  Usually by this time in the summer, my carpool is all arranged, but this year I’m scared into a stupor.  I haven’t sent a single email.  All I can do is watch the chips fall.
  • I hate my iphone and Joe’s iphone, especially when he’s on Bluetooth with his navi shouting at him in the background.  It seems the only time we can chat is when he’s driving to or from work:  “In 100 yards, turn left,”   “What?”  “How are the kids?”  “Today Tess—“ “Turn left,” “What?” “Hang on, I have to get on a freeway now.” “What?  Hello?  Are you there?”
  • Visiting is almost impossible.  If Joe works till 5am on a Saturday morning, he can’t make it home for the weekend.  Getting to and from O’Hare is apparently worse than the 4-hour flight.  I will be hosting Ronan’s birthday party solo, going to every ball game by myself, every swim meet, parent/teacher conference, school event – even The Nutcracker.  Joe will have to fly home over Thanksgiving – the worst travel weekend of the year.  Between Labor Day and then, I will be surprised if we see him at all.
  • The show could get picked up!!!  Then it will go till April.

So if you run into me and I’m grouchy, know that it’s not you.  I apologize in advance.  I may cry for what seems like no reason, I may snap.  I will be late, rushed, flustered.  I will drink too much, grow sullen, curse.  Some days will be fine, others not so much.  There are a few positives, like watching whatever I want on tv (after the kids go to bed) and not having to shush them when Joe has a late call and has to sleep in.  But mostly, life as a “film widow” sucks.  It’s not Joe’s fault — he’s a cinematographer and there is almost no work in LA this year.  I know I’m being a big-time BRAT, like an 11 year-old or an 8 year-old.  What can I say?  Right now, that’s the company I keep.

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Puppy Love

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by Lindsay Gallagher on 07/23/2011

I love dogs.

When I was a child, we had a cat.  Sally.  She was not nice.  I tried to hold her, snuggle with her under the covers and she scratched the shit out of me every time.

When I was 24, I met a dog named Daisy, my childhood friend’s Staffordshire pit, who had an awesome smile and a tremendous personality.  I had never had one of my own, but when I met Daisy, I realized that I’d been a dog person all along.

“Lets get a dog,” I said to Joe that very day.  So we went to the pound in Wilmington, NC.  There, we met Marley, a 3 month-old black Carolina hound dog.  It was love at first sight.  We freed her mere hours before she was going to be “put down.”

I knew that I would enjoy having a dog, but the intensity of my love for Marley was still a surprise.  She was loyal and joyous, exquisite, stunning — a remarkable athletic creature who pointed and leapt and kissed and cuddled and was always there by my side.

We thought that Marley would force us to settle down, but instead, Marley embarked on an adventure like no other dog, coming with us from NC, where she’d learned to ride waves, to NYC, where she hung out with teamsters on the back of the camera truck.  We drove across the country twice during our move to LA, stopping at Taos to play in the snow.

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In LA we hiked canyons with her and took her to Mammoth where she again frolicked in the fresh powder and even tracked the scent of a bear.  When I windsurfed at Leo Carillo beach, Marley would wait for me on the dunes before chasing the surf.

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She slept in the bed; she sat in the front seat.  She was a princess — until we had kids.

We’d raised Marley like she was a child, so having an actual child rocked her world. Marley was not one of those dogs that protected the baby — she was jealous and she had good cause.  We had Marley greet Ronan in the front yard instead of inside.  We made a fuss over Marley as if she was the first-born.  But when the truth hit that Marley was not a child and that the arrival of Ronan was a situation that demanded more than two walks a day and a fluffy bed, Marley was reduced to a dog.

Poor Marley.  She had some adjusting to do.  Turned out Ronan was allergic to her to boot.  I wouldn’t get rid of her as many suggested, so when Ronan was a toddler, I spent most of each day vacuuming up her black hairs. There was no time left for her previously fabulous lifestyle.  I kept her, but she lost her throne.

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When Marley was old and grey a dear friend of mine gave me some advice.  The dog that she had had since before kids, died suddenly one day.

“Don’t make the mistake I made,” she warned.  “Be as nice to Marley as you can before she’s gone.”

I took it to heart and cared for Marley when she was an old-lady, blind and weak.  That friend even welcomed Marley when we traveled so she could make up for the time she missed out on with her beloved dog.

When Marley died, it was a sad sad day, but I knew that I had done right by her in the end.  The sorrow I felt was as surprising as that first love.  I had no idea that I would dream about her, that I would wake up crying, that I would expect her to greet me at the door.

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Now we have these two little dogs:  Pepper, who we plucked from an adoption bin; and Flowers who was caught a few weeks ago in the flowers in our yard.

“She looks like Marley zapped with a shrink gun,” another friend said.

It’s true, she does.  So am I going to keep her?  Of course.  I can’t have a big dog because of Ronan’s allergies, so a tea cup Marley is a perfect fit.  Even grouchy Pepper has come alive since the arrival of the little black pup.

“What did you do with all of that alone-time?” another friend asked when I told her the kids were at camp.

“I spent some quality time with the dogs.”

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