Thursday, August 30, 2012

Think Outside The Box (And The Boxes Of Others)

I have this ‘friend’ named Sharri-Dee.  She’s got a younger sister, Penny, and an older brother named… um… Scott.

Sharri-Dee, Scott & Penny
Like any older sibling, Scott was really the one to break in their Mom & Dad.  He was the first to get in trouble at school, first to get his driver’s license, and first to have a keg party at home while his parents were away.  (Actually, Sharri-Dee may have had that distinct honor, but whatever.)  In most cases, the girls were lucky enough to follow in the footsteps of the parental guidelines Scott had already hammered out.

For example, when Scott was a senior in high school, he got his parents to graciously pony up the security deposit for an unchaperoned ski weekend in Vermont for several friends, many of whom had a vajay-jay. Mom even let Scott use her SUV for the weekend to help ensure everyone’s safety.  You know, just your typical Hallmark Channel Sunday Night Movie kind of stuff...

Obviously Sharri-Dee (let’s just call her SD) anxiously awaited the winter weekend of her own final year.  Every event seemed a rite of passage, and with good reason, especially when the Hallmark Channel was involved.

So, I’m sure you can imagine SD’s pure shock when her Mother revealed that the standards set by Scott wouldn’t be the norm moving forward.  In fact, there would be no un-chaperoned ski outing at all.

Hold up.  Sharri-Dee’s grades were better.  She rarely got in trouble and though her dreams of early acceptance to college weren’t fulfilled, she knew that come fall she would be at an above-average university.  What else could a parent ask for?!  Over and over again, she asked ‘why’, like only a three year old could.  Why, why, why.  Until finally, she got her answer.

“Because Scott can’t get PREGNANT, that’s why!” Mom shouted as though the weight of a million whys had simultaneously been lifted off her shoulders.  Unfortunately, their heaviness moved directly onto Sharri-Dee’s heart- and their damage remains to this day.

I learned in a college psych class that we cannot be completely healthy adults until we deal with each of our unresolved issues from childhood and adolescence.  Honestly, that is an enormous buzz kill.  Here’s why.  (Yes, Sharri-Dee asks why a lot.)

Just last night Emilia and Isla were coloring before bedtime.  One stole a page that the other wanted to color, and you’d have thought that Khloe slept with Kanye for all the hell that broke loose.

Ninety seconds later, they were back to coloring as if nothing had happened.  I am so thankful for the ease with which my kids can be so beautifully distracted, but fearful of the day they can be no longer. 

I want to spend more time coloring than arguing.  And I want their memories to be of all that I gave them, not of the few things I did not, no matter what the reason.  (Unless, of course, my reason is sexist, in which case I want them to remember my weakness and learn from it.) 

And I know Sharri-Dee feels the very same way.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tom Cruise Is Up A Whole New Creek, And It Ain't Dawson's...

Would You Rather: Pacey or Dawson?

This was never a debate for me.  I’d take Joshua Jackson over James Van Der Beek faster than any dude in 1998 could’ve screamed “I Heart Katie Holmes”.  These days, I assume their screams are much less enthusiastic, outside of the Church of Scientology.

The Top Gun “Danger Zone” beach volleyball scene excluded, I have never been a huge Tom Cruise fan.  This is likely because when everyone else was talking about his (tiny) tightey-whiteys in Risky Business, my mother was trying to distract me by obsessing over his beautiful smile.  So by the time Tom jumped on Oprah’s couch shouting “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” about being madly in love, I couldn't have cared less.

I can’t argue the claims that Tom & Katie’s marriage seemed like a bit of a business transaction, but that doesn’t mean the relationship was loveless.  Still, Katie pulled the game off better than Bernie Madoff at the height of his ponzi scheme.  Everyone from the tabloids and news magazines to movie studios and fans bought in, investing in their story as it was represented, not as it really was.

Ironically, both Bernie and Katie ended up in jail.  Although, her’s was metaphorical, and she is the only one to have broken free.

News reports are harping on the timely and “modest” TomKat divorce settlement as proof that she wanted out more than she wanted coin, but let’s face the facts.  That had way more to do with their dream team drawn prenuptial agreement than selflessness from either party.  Plus, $400,000K a year in child support is hardly modest.

That said, TMZ is reporting that in addition to the $33,333.33 that Tom will pay Katie monthly, he must also cover Suri’s “expenses”- including (but certainly not limited to) medical, dental, insurance, education & extra-curricular activities.  So, that leaves the other 33K a month for food, fun, fashion and her favorite penis candy.  (Fab!)

In the end, Tom Cruise could spend all the money in the world, but there's one thing he can never, ever buy-- and that's love like it existed on Dawson’s Creek.

Friday, August 24, 2012

All Dogs Go To Heaven, But Not All Of Us Will Join Them

Two rings and then an excited “Balcom Canyon Pet Lodge, can I help you?”

I said, “I am calling to check on Cassius”.

Her response cheery, was much like a babysitter would offer regardless of how your child had actually behaved.  Then, I went for it.  “Would you mind bringing him the phone so I can say hello and he can hear my voice?”

My mother was happy to have us home for the holidays, but in that moment, she looked at me as though I were certifiably insane.  “Just wait until you have kids,” she chuckled, “that dog will totally take a back seat.”

Flash forward 4 years, 2 daughters, some staunch refusal to drive a minivan and a second (even more fashionable) dog.

It was just before Halloween of last year and I was in Las Vegas wrapping production on the Vh1 sleeper-hit Mama Drama when my husband called concerned that our 5 year-old Rottweiler, Sugar Ray, seemed lethargic.  Within hours, but before I had the chance to make it home, one of our best friends lost his battle with cancer just as we learned it had begun.  We were devastated.

I have learned the hard way that it is possible to die of a broken heart.  Shortly after my father died at the ridiculously young age of 41, his mother quickly followed.  So it shouldn’t surprise me that not long after losing his brother-from-another-mother, we lost Cassius as well.  He was barely 8.

Whether a blessing or curse, the time we lacked to process what was happening with Sugar was abundant with Cassius.  In the end, due to his terrible veterinary anxiety, we had him put down peacefully in our home.  My girls were in another room, but I knew my eldest was aware of what was taking place.

After he was gone I returned to her with puffy eyes.  “Where's Cassius?” she asked, already knowing what my answer would be.  At a loss, my mind raced.  How do you teach a toddler about death?  And how do you explain heaven to a kid when you can’t even understand it as an adult?  Deep breath, I thought.

“Cassius went to heaven to be with Sugar”.  She looked at her hands and paused briefly before responding quietly without tantrum or tears.  “Can I get a new dog now?”  I realized in that moment that our innocence protects us from heartbreak, but wondered at what point we lose that miraculous gift.

I wish things stayed that simple.  A mother can only hope that her child’s first encounter with death will be that of a pet.  I think the best case scenario is a carnival-won goldfish, but unless your arm for the ring toss is perfect, those chances are slim.  And my arm sucks.

Emilia just told me Cassius and Sugar are sad in heaven because she can’t see them.  So, she understands what happened, maybe even more than the rest of us.

Working on Mama Drama was an incredible experience, but in all honesty, it scared the ever-living shit out of me.

(Here's a little gem from behind the scenes...)
It made me worry even more about raising strong, confident, satisfied women- and we haven’t yet had our first parent/teacher conference.  Luckily I’ll have a great pair of watchdogs keeping an eye on us from above.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen Should Call Me & There's No Maybe About It

One downside of raising my children in Los Angeles is that they are unlikely to grow up with a finished basement.  I have so many memories of mine from a childhood back east.

Endless games of Sorry and Electronic Battleship were my foundation for learning Mom's #1 Rule.  When you start a game, you finish it, no matter how badly you are losing.

(She, on the other hand, should have quit while she was ahead.)
In 1980 our basement flooded, forcing my toys to seek refuge on an 8 foot tall train table that I'd ultimately fall from, breaking my elbow and arm, leaving a nasty several inch scar that remains today.

And then there were the cold headaches.

But if a soundtrack existed for those years, it wouldn’t be my favorite New Edition album or a whiney “Mooom, Scott farted on me (again)”, but rather the synchronizer-based ditty that accompanied this staple image:

My first lessons in both technology and economics were learned on the 1984 Apple IIc game Lemonade Stand.  Each night, you’d guess how much lemonade to make and what to charge per glass the next day.  Then click “enter” and a daily forecast would appear.  A sunny day and you were the kid with the coolest Swatch on the block.  Thunderstorms, and you were screwed.  Eat your heart out, Al Roker.

Today, my knowledge of economics and meteorology don’t extend far beyond what they did three decades ago.  Just last week my daughter asked me to make “real” lemonade.  We headed not to a computer or pantry, but to an awesome lemon tree and got to work.

We didn’t sell the finished product, but we should have, and quickly.

In recent years, law enforcement has been shutting down kids' lemonade stands and fining parents for not maintaining the proper permitting.  (True story.  Check out Lemonade Freedom for more info.)  

Now, I am apolitical to a fault, but this is insane to me- partly because it seems the world's greatest waste of time, and partly because I want my girls to maintain even the slightest chance of spotting Ben Affleck at an illicit neighborhood lemonade stand.

We live in a society where important issues often lack deserved attention until an even semi-relevant celebrity sheds light (or darkness) upon it.  Demi Moore's drug-induced 911 call made people question the ethics behind such calls being released.  Junior Seau's tragic suicide brought attention to the controversial study of football-related concussions leading to depression.  But by that point it's too late... or is it?

I've learned that sometimes all we need is a catalyst.  The key is not to wait for one, but to be one.

So the next time the girls and I make lemonade, I am inviting Carly Rae Jepsen to sell it with us.

Carly Rae, call me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How You Can Pay It Forward (Just Like Eva Longoria)

My eyesight has improved incredibly since I began this blog.  Not because I have eaten more carrots or began taking a multi-vitamin on a near daily basis, but because I am always looking for new things to be inspired by.  Here's proof.

Last week I learned it really is true that one man’s trash is another (wo)man’s fortune when I spotted this to-do list on the sidewalk.  I snatched it up, with the hope that proof of another’s procrastination would put me at ease about my own.  Instead, the result was a heartwarming reminder that not every "to-do" should be a chore.

Then a few days ago we wrapped production on NBC’s upcoming dating series “Ready For Love”.  After having spent nearly 1,500 hours with the (typically) wonderful ladies dating the (always) incredible Ben Patton, I wanted to leave them with something other than a few airline miles, a hang over and (for all but one) a broken heart.

I decided on "The Giving Keys", one of a kind key necklaces created by the homeless as a means of getting them off the street.  But like any good reality television show, there is a twist.  Each piece has a word of inspiration engraved in it.  At some point, you are encouraged to give the key away to someone in need of the word on your key… to pay it forward.

Whether touching or foul smelling, each and every one of us has had an experience with the homeless that we cannot forget.  While living in Boston many years ago, I loved to stroll Newbury Street to my favorite ice cream shop.  I still remember the night I made a really bad call on a new milkshake flavor and on my walk back home, after hardly a sip, I offered it to the homeless man I’d see nightly.

“I don’t take leftovers”, he said.

Embarrassed and dumbfounded as I was, I still recall the moment often.  It serves as a reminder to me that no matter what our predicament, our challenges or our resume, it is important to hold onto our pride.  This organization helps.

So as we wrapped on "Ready For Love", I gave each of the girls a key necklace engraved with the word “LOVE”.  Even our Executive Producer, Eva Longoria, rocked hers from the moment I gave it to her.

I can’t share the photos just yet, as our cast has not been announced, but I can certainly share the story of The Giving Keys, and hope that you pay it forward as well.

Here's the link to

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Douche, Nipple Gate & A $300 Purse Giveaway! (What More Could You Ask For?)

Work has kept me on my toes lately so I recruited Jeni to help me out here, and boy did she deliver- not only with some great tips, but also with the chance to win an amazing handbag.

On a recent sisterly excursion into Beverly Hills for a fun day of shopping, Karri-Leigh asked me for a piece of gum- preferably one without flavor reminiscent of a spring smelling douche.
I told her to go into my purse, as most sisters would.  She was appalled, to say the least.  Why?  My name is Jeni Elizabeth, and I am a hoarder.

I am a girl that hates emergencies.  I am accident prone, and have the worst luck.  So, I come prepared.  And like any skilled hoarder, I feel the need to justify my behavior.  Therefore, I bring you, the contents of my purse.

First off, the idea of not carrying a large tote at all times literally gives me panic attacks- and mine is a gold mine.  My handbag may be worth more than your monthly grocery allowance, but that’s because it doubles as an armoire.

The essentials?

* An empty wallet, because apparently I am too busy to every return my credit cards or cash where they belong.

* An eos chapstick egg (or 6) because my lips are always dry.  (And not to sound dirty, but I enjoy the egg a little more than I should.)
(you can't see the egg that well here, but I prefer Chuck Bass whenever possible, which is a tad creepy because he reminds me of my brother)
* A tiny (tightly sealed) jar of olive oil.  It’s the perfect solution to cuticles much in need of a mani.

* My magic eraser.  It’s a small craft sponge, perfect for deodorant or make-up stains, and dries in a pinch so it’s safe to return to your purse.  You can find one in any major craft store.

* My day planner, despite the fact that I haven’t ordered a calendar fill-in since the Spice Girls were popular the first time around.

* A Tide stain stick because I work in fashion and cannot stomach stains.  (I also can’t stomach someone else’s stains, and will totally judge you for them.  So if you need to borrow, just ask.)

* Double sided tape.  Screw Nipple-Gate… I once used it to fix my windshield wiper!

* Two phones and an ipad, which give me a wonderful reason to get rid of voicemail.  If you still can’t get me, I am avoiding you.  Obvi.

* A checkbook.  For what, I am not quite sure.

* And for the grand finale, let’s be real.  Pills.  My brother once told me that the best way to spell classy is with a fancy (and well-filled) pill case.  I also love the pretty colors and glitter that that case brings to my bag.  (Although my dog Coco’s accessories accomplish the same thing.) 

Bottom Line: My purses feel great, look better, and sound like a Salvation Army Santa Claus shaking a bucket of beer caps, which my nieces love. Evident of hoarding or not, I love them, and am willing to spend my hard earned money on them (or at least my boyfriend is).  They are my best friend (sorry Karri…), my lifeline, and most importantly- me.

But, in my opinion, no fabulous women should be without an incredible (and oversized) tote.  So, without further ado...

This one of a kind hobo from ZEYZANI retails at $300
To enter, leave a fun comment here regarding what you carry in your purse (or murse)!  Jeni will decide the winner.