Behind the Yellow Wallpaper: New Tales of Madness

This week is an exciting week because an essay that I wrote entitled  An Obedient Girl, is being published as part of a feminist anthology by New Lit Salon Press.  The anthology is titled, Behind the Yellow Wallpaper:  New Tales of Madness.  The publication is available as an ebook in June, and will receive a print addition in July.

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I encourage you to pick up a copy.  For more information, look here:

http://newlitsalonpress.com/behind-the-yellow-wallpaper-new-tales-of-madness/

I read the complete anthology and it contains some compelling essays and short stories written by women from across the globe.

In addition to my piece, An Obedient Girl, which deals with a lunch date I had many years ago in Texas with a woman who survived a lobotomy…

There is a short story by Tracie Orsi, entitled Waiting for Jordan, which is a haunting piece about a military wife that is reminiscent of Kate Chopin or Virginia Woolf.

One of my favorite essays in the anthology is Laura Hartenberger’s, The Ideal Customer, which details her decision to tattoo her face.  The essay is both intriguing and disturbing.  It captures well the elements of this anthology and its inspiration.

 

Visual artist, Loreal Prystaj has also contributed multiple pieces to the anthology.  Her work is inspired and beautiful, and is reason alone to pick up a copy.

Check out more of Loreal’s work here:  http://www.lorealprystaj.com/

 

Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls… A Mother’s Day Aboard the Titanic

For Mother’s Day this year, we took a trip to Buena Park to visit TITANIC – THE EXPERIENCE because nothing says Mother’s Day like reliving the greatest and most memorable maritime disaster of the twentieth century.

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My six-year-old daughter, Harper, has become OBSESSED with the TITANIC thanks to one evening she spent with her father.

While I was hanging out with friends, Erin and Harper stayed home.

As I headed out the door for my night out, Erin and I had this conversation:

Erin:  I’m gonna make mac and cheese and I think Harp and I will watch a movie.

Me (rushing to get out of the house):  Great.  Do whatever.

Erin:  I’m sick of watching kids movies.  I think she’s ready for something else. What could we watch?

Me: I’m in a hurry and I don’t want to make that decision. Turn on Netflix.  She likes Jumanji.

Erin:  I’m sick of watching Jumanji…

Me (trying to apply makup without having a conversation):  I don’t want to be part of this decision.  You guys figure it out.  

Erin:  I kinda want to watch JAWS.

Me:  What?!?!?  Are you kidding me?  No.  She’s way to young for that.  There are shark attacks in it.  She’ll be afraid to go to the beach.

Erin:  She can watch something that’s PG, right?  I’m here… I’m a parent, I can guide her through the movie…

Me:  I don’t want to hear a lecture about what PG is…. You’re giving me too much information right now.  Don’t destroy her mind while I’m out…

When I got in from one of the best evenings I’d had in awhile with my lady-friends… Erin was playing GTAV on the couch and Harper was in bed.

Me:  What’d you guys end up watching?

Erin:  I found a classic.  We watched TITANIC.

Me:  YOU WATCHED WHAT?!?!?!

Erin:  Don’t worry… I fast forwarded through all the naked parts.

Me:  Did you fast forward through all the parts of death and drowning?

Erin:  It didn’t scare her… She seemed interested.  It’s historical.

Me:  Historical?  Schindler’s List is historical… I don’t want to wake up with a million questions from her about death by drowning…. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, you have to deal with it.    

The next morning… Harper was up bright and early talking my ear off about the TITANIC.  “There weren’t enough life boats,” she told me.  “Those guys in First Class just kept playing their violins until the ship cracked in half and everyone slid off and died… It’s the best movie I’ve ever seen…”

This is how we ended up at the TITANIC EXHIBIT for Mother’s Day… A semi-permanent museum, built where the Movieland Wax Museum used to be… A titanic event in it’s own right…

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After a delightful brunch that included a strawberry martini for me…

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And also… The coolest gift ever of a STAR WARS Mother’s Day shirt….

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We went to the exhibit.

 

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When you first  enter… TITANIC:  THE EXPERIENCE… You get the opportunity to have your picture taken in front of a green screen…

 

AMY HARP TITANIC LIFEBOAT

Looks pretty scary… Doesn’t it?  I get cold just looking at this thing.   Over a thousand people drowned and/or froze to death in the icy waters of the Atlantic that horrible night of April 15th.

This is how we remember them.

Clearly, we as a society, are totally over it.

When we began our experience, we were greeted by a woman dressed as a chamber maid…

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She spoke with a soft Irish accent and introduced herself as “Molly,” which is, I think, the name of all Irish chamber maids.

She then, handed us each a boarding pass that had a name on it.

“This is yer ticket to board the Titanic, ya see?” she whispered.  “Each of ya has the name of a passenger… At the end, you’ll learn the fate of yer passenger.”

Harper was a young nun in third class.

I was to play the role of a 45-year-old woman with three kids (Jurassic Mom)  who was also in Third Class.

Meanwhile… Erin drew a National Dog Show Judge riding in First Class.

I think we all know who will be the survivor on this ship…

With that… We boarded the ghost ship.

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The exhibit is quite interesting and it contains lots of dishes, sinks, china cabinets, even an uncorked champagne bottle that has been carefully brought to the surface from the wreckage.

A first-class ticket on the Titanic cost the equivalent of a hundred grand in that era…  Nowadays, for about two-thousand bucks, you can get an all-you-can-eat Midnight Nacho Buffet, a trashy magic act, and half-priced rum punches on the Lido Deck… All thanks to the Titanic…

Back then, though, the high price promised First Class passengers private bathrooms, fine cigars, and the assurance that not even “GOD himself could sink that vessel.”

Welp… Two out of three aint bad.

The passengers would all laugh maniacally, as they toasted their Brandy snifters and said things like… “HA HA HA!!!  Nothing will sink us!”

“Die here?  Dressed like this???  Puh-leez!” they would shout while they ate oxen tail soup off china later found at the bottom of the Atlantic.

When the captain got word that they would be traveling through icy waters, they all gleefully shouted!!!

“YAHOO!!!!  Let’s see how fast this thing will go!” 

Then… They hit the iceberg and died.

Ha. Ha.  Joke’s on you, Richie Rich.

In an effort to prove how cold the water actually was that fateful night… There is a large block of ice in the shape of an iceberg… When I touched it, I thought as they must’ve thought that very night… “Wow.  It’s really cold.”

 

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And then I thought… Ugh… Think of all the people that have touched this thing… It’s one thing to die in the middle of the Atlantic, it’s another thing to catch the flu from some snotty nosed brat from Pomona.

I walked away somberly hoping they sold Titanic hand sanitizer in the gift shop.

At one point, a man dressed as The Captain walked through and said to me and Harper… “Good day, Ladies.  I hope you are enjoying the Titanic.”

I leaned into Harper after he left and said… “That was a ghost.”

“No it wasn’t,” she said, unaffected and annoyed.

Then, a voice came over the speaker…”BOARD THE LIFEBOATS,” the monotone and ghostly voice instructed us.

Erin, Harper, and I all three got in a lone wooden boat in a large black room with a screen in front and a picture of a sinking TITANIC.

Molly, the  Irish chamber maid from the beginning, reappeared.

“Imagine if ya will… sitting alone in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean…” she whispered in the low but serious tenor of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun…  

“To yer right is darkness… To yer left, nothing… Ya huddle together helpless, but fer the strangers around ya… None of ya knows yer fate… In three hours the Titanic will sink.”

Molly got worked up talking about it… And I nodded my head and kept a somber expression, to show my support of her dramatic reliving of the downed ship.

At the end of her monologue, she just looked at us silently as we heard the sound of the dark ocean….

Whoosh…. Whoosh… Whoosh…

We stared at one another in the dark.

Whoosh… Whoosh… Whoosh…

“Wow,” I said, finally breaking the silence because it felt weird staring at Molly like that.  “It was a really terrible tragedy, wasn’t it?”

Molly didn’t answer my question.

Instead, she looked toward the door.

“Ya can go now,” she told us.  “Find out the fate of yer passengers.”

As we entered the next room, I could faintly hear the voice on the speaker… “BOARD THE LIFEBOATS,” it said… Then Molly’s Lucky Charms accent… “Imagine if ya will… sitting alone in a lifeboat…”

In the final room was a wall, with the names of our passengers listed.

Erin… The First Class Dog Show Judge… lived, of course… Shoving his way past throngs of women and children to get his old butt on a lifeboat…

Harper and I… weren’t quite so lucky.

“We’re both dead in the water,” I said to Harper.

Though Harper had appeared emotionless throughout the exhibit, when she heard the fate of her passenger, she looked disturbed and like she might cry…

I looked over at Erin and said… “Um… Maybe I read it wrong.”

“Yes,” Erin lied… And then looked up and down closely as if scanning the wall…”Right, Harper…  Mom didn’t read it right.  No… No… The nun didn’t die.  You lived.  Just like me, the Dog Show Judge… We both survived!”

Harper jumped up-and-down and shouted at the news, the two of them high-fiving.  “Yay!” she said.  “Me and Dad both lived!  Only you died, Mom!  I lived!!! The nun and the Dog Show Judge lived!!!”

And with that… she wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and we headed back to LA.

Look… You can listen to me ramble all day long about the power of the Titanic Experience… But nothing I could say would mean as much as this short film about our time there and the impact it had on our mortal souls:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Books and the Art of the Emotional Drive-By

I took Harper to the bookstore yesterday.  

The bookstore is quite a drive for us.  All the bookstores in our area have shut down.  Costco and Target are the only places around here that sell real books anymore.  Call me old fashioned, but sometimes I don’t feel like sampling pretzel dogs while I browse a warehouse and look through endless stacks of remaindered Jackie Collins novels.  

It’s a bummer that I have to drive twenty miles to spend the afternoon browsing through bookshelves and drinking cappuccinos, which was one of my favorite things to do before we started living in this Ray Bradbury nightmare called the digital book age.  I won’t rant about this long, as I know most of you reading probably own one of these devices and swear by how great they are… But I am old fashioned, and I love real live books with pages.  

I grew up in small towns in Texas, none of which had bookstores.  So… my mom and I would climb in the car once a month, and do something called “goin’ to town,” where we would visit small independent bookstores.  I remember having a feeling not unlike that of the LITLLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE girls when their  fabric showed up at the Oleson’s country store.    

I want to take Harper to bookstores and let her browse and read, as I did when I was young. I would get excited just driving to a bookstore.  I still do. 

So, now the cycle continues… Once a week, Harper and I hitch our wagon, and drive to a suburb called Westlake Village, where there still exists a Barnes and Noble and head to the Children’s Section.  

Harper is reading pretty well now.  We will sit together for awhile, and she will read to me.   Then… she will pull some books and I will read to her…

And yesterday, she pulled a book called LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch….

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“Read this one!” she said to me.  “My teacher read it to us at school and it’s really funny because the kid loses his mom’s watch in the toilet.”  

So… I started reading this book, which tells the story of a young mother rocking her baby… And she says… “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

And so it goes… That whatever age this boy is… First three, then nine, then a teenager, she will sneak into his room as he’s sleeping, wrap the child in her arms and sweetly chant this poem while she rocks him.

And as I’m reading, I’m becoming choked up saying the “love you forever” poem… when the son moves away from home, and gets his own house… When, get this… The fifty-something mother sneaks into his house at night while this adult man is sleeping, climbs into his bed, and rocks him back forth while chanting the poem.

I stopped reading.

“Wow,” I said to Harper then.  “I was really becoming emotional until this… And now, I don’t really know about this guy and his mom.  They seem a little weird.”  

When suddenly… Nosy Nellie… The woman working in the children’s section pipes up really sweetly with… “Oh now… Don’t be so cynical… Mothers never get tired of rocking their babies”  

Well, THANK YOU VERY MUCH MARY POPPINS for the moral lesson… I get what the author is trying to do here, but come on…. 

I leaned into Harper then and whispered… “It is TRUE that mothers never get tired of rocking their babies… But if you EVER meet a man in his thirties that is still sleeping with his mother and being rocked to sleep by her, RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN FROM THAT GUY.”

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I got Harper to pinky-swear that she would stay away from adult men that sleep with their mothers.

And then I finished the book for her… Which ends with the elderly mom calling her son on the phone, and saying essentially “I can’t come over and rock you tonight,” so HE goes over to HER house and rocks HER to sleep… And then he stands at the top of the staircase with a forlorn look on his face, leaving the reader to assume his mother just died.  

Then he goes home to his infant daughter and rocks her, letting you know that the terrible cycle of rocking and dying will start once again… Or the beautiful cycle of rocking and dying… Depending how you look at it… As Oprah or Wayne Dwyer would say.  

This is a theme in some children’s books… They start off sweetly, then end with death, and the titles never let you know what you’re in for.  This is why I refuse to get pulled in by a book like LOVE YOU FOREVER.  

The title sounds so nice… I think there should be a law against such sweet titles for sad children’s books.  We are already so tired and worried as parents… Do we also have to endure all these unexpected emotional drive-bys?  

When I saw the movie TITANIC, the trailers were all full of beautiful sweeping shots of a large ship with Leo DeCaprio standing on the boat shouting I’M KING OF THE WORLD like he owned the place… But because the author, James Cameron, aptly titled his movie TITANIC… I knew the boat would sink and there would be loads of death and I could prepare myself.  

I was actually happy at the end of the movie TITANIC because there were a few people that didn’t die.  It was a pleasant surprise, and I was able to enjoy the boat splitting then sinking because I knew it was coming and I was emotionally prepared for the worst.  

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Consider a book like THE GIVING TREE. It sounds like a nice book about giving… But really, it’s a book about slowly killing a tree and that’s what it should be called… It should be called SLOWLY KILLING A TREE or THE BOY WHO SOLD ALL THE APPLES… Or simply just THE TAKER.

Here are some horribly tragic children’s books with sweet titles that I have renamed so you won’t sit shocked in the Children’s Section like I sometimes do:

1)  Puff the Magic Dragon… LITTLE JOHHNY PAPER GROWS UP;

2) Charlotte’s Web… SPIDERS DON’T REGENERATE.

3) The Velveteen Rabbit… FIRE KILLS GERMS.

Subtlety isn’t something I admire anymore.  I am tired… And everywhere I go now, I have a small person that wants to eat off the floor and explore public restrooms.  I have plenty of surprises in my life.  

Will I ever get tired of rocking Harper?  No.  I’ll love her forever and I’ll like her for always… And I will gladly move through the sad (or super fun) cycle of rocking and dying alongside her.  

But… As we rock and die… Let’s enjoy the bookstore and sip some cappucinos.   

I Am An Expert On Everything

“I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox…”  Jurassic Park (Dr. Ian Malcolm)

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When I first started this holy and sacred blog some weeks ago, I began with a simple thesis to apply motherhood and mothers to the book, Jurassic Park.  And, as I’ve explored various topics ranging from the care-taking of a child to human connection with other mothers…My sphere has grown substantially from not only the application of this true and worthy text, to also bragging about random celebrities I encounter… to telling quirky stories about myself, my daughter, and my dog.

I am a blogger now.  And that means I need to give advice, which is what I will do today.  In some professions you need to have academics or certificates, or some type of credentials to do that.  Not so of blogging.  Your life experience is enough.

I mean it’s not like I’m a big NOBODY…  I mean, sure…  I could brag and say I’ve written the menus for an out-of-business theme restaurant.  I could tell you that I helped name the caskets in my Dad’s casket store…. There is a blue casket that I named ETERNAL SKY.  Not only is it the highest selling casket among men ages eighty- and- over… Users love it, and he has received no complaints or returns on it yet.

What started me on this lesson to give you some pointed advice began yesterday when I left my food journal at Starbucks.  I was in a hurry to get Harper to school so I could get to my office, which is actually a table at Starbucks. This is the office of every writer in Los Angeles, and good luck ever finding a seat at any Starbucks in this city because of all the writers working there.

Anyway, when I left, I walked out without my food journal, and quite obviously… I will NEVER EVER go back for it.

Keeping journals is a thing I have always done, and being on a diet is also something I have always done… So inevitably, I buy a new journal that I determine with be a food journal… And I write things like…

1/2 cup Raisin Bran.

1/2 Cup Milk.

Apple.

String Cheese.

Then eventually, I quit keeping my food journal… And I start writing other things in it like goals, or thoughts, or ideas for projects… I like to write down goals I have for Harper as well… And also little snippets of inspirational books. I also record dreams I’ve had.  And if there is a particular song that I connect with, which I call my Personal Life Theme Song, I will write it down, so that when future generations review my journal they will have a soundtrack to play while they are doing it.

That’s also something I would advise you to do as well.  Find a good Personal Life Theme Song.

Right now, my Personal  Life Theme Song is:  This Is The Best Day Of My Life by American Authors.  This is a GREAT Life Theme Song because, as the title explains… It’s a song that declares whatever day it’s played on, the best day of a persons life.

I like to play it in the morning, every day as I start my day…

Lately, though, the title of the song reminds me of that saying… This could be the LAST day of your life… So whenever I start singing about how this could be the BEST day of my life… I quietly think, it could also be the LAST day of my life…

I find that thought depressing, so I don’t know how much longer I can use it as my theme song.  I may have to go back to my old standby,  We Will Rock You.

My mother is a highly accomplished person who speaks four languages, has written a book, has a doctorate degree, teaches piano lessons, plays in a harp ensemble, and also does a lot of volunteer work.  She was the daughter of a West Texas cotton farmer, and I remember her rising early every morning when I was a child and saying, “Whenever I wake up, I say a prayer, drink my coffee, and greet each day knowing it could be the last one I’m given.  Then, I make a decision to do my best.”

This is why she has done so much… And it’s a great motivator, looking at the big picture like that.

I would like to think that way, but in all honestly, if I were to wake up and deeply believe this was my last day on earth, I would end up eating bananna splits all day…Or  I would  be nervous like a person on Death Row, sick to my stomach and running back and forth to the restroom and crying a lot. Nothing would get done.

I prefer denial.

Here’s my process… Every morning, I like to get up late, rush around like crazy, barely make it out the door.  I find this helps me avoid thoughts of death and the exestential uncertainty of the unknown.

Also, I choose a Personal Life Theme Song, and I suggest that for you as well.

If you have never chosen  a Personal Life Theme Song for yourself, here are some ideas for you to choose from (Note:  I’ve used all of these at some point myself):

1)  We are the Champions (Queen)

2) I will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)

3) The Distance (Cake)

4) Eye of the Tiger (Some Guy in the 80s)

These are songs that will really motivate you and get you on a fast track to success.

And success is something I know a thing-or-two about, having just been declared the winner of a Forrest Gump Trivia Contest at the famous Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. last week.

But… Be warned… Choosing an effective Personal Theme Song is a slippery slope.  You can’t just choose anything.  It’s not about picking your favorite song….  Just because you had the hit song Always by Atlantic Starr sung at your wedding and you really like it….  So what?  Thats a song about a bunch of people just saying they love each other over- and- over.  It means nothing and will get you nowhere.  Use it to put yourself to sleep, not succeed, move, and shake the way I do each day taking my dog for walks, and journaling my food intake.

Look, I don’t want to make you feel bad… It’s okay to admire some songs because they are good, and it’s even okay to listen to them…  But don’t ever make them your theme songs.  For example…  The song Imagine by John Lennon is great song, and considered by some the best one written in the 20th Century… But if you make it your theme song, you might end up starting a cult or shooting yourself.

Here is a list of good songs that I would NOT recommend using for Motivational Life Theme Songs:

1)  I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2)… – Too Confusing

2) Smoking in the Boys Room (Motley Crue) – Too Sneaky

3) Stairway to Heaven (Led Zepplin) – The Devil.

Having a Personal Life Theme Song is a good thing to teach your children as well.  I encourage this of Harper and you should consider doing the same with your little ones.

Let them choose their own song at first, even though you know in your heart it might not be the best.  You don’t want to discourage success or motivational thought in your child.

Harper chose Baby Beluga.  This wasn’t my favorite song for her… I would’ve preferred something like I’m a Little Teapot (more goal oriented) or Itsy Bitsy Spider (encourages persistence in the face of adversity), but Baby Beluga will work for now.

Also… Other bloggers and blog guides have told me I need to start asking you more questions, and this will help me succeed more at this.

So, I pose this question to you:  Going forward, what will be your Personal Life Theme Song and what are your secret hopes for your child’s?

Write them here.

Or do what I did… Write them in a food journal, and then leave them at Starbucks.

 

 

A JURASSIC MOMS NIGHT OUT AND AN UNEXPECTED RENDEZVOUS WITH CELEBRITY SEAN ASTIN

A couple of days ago, my good friend, and fellow Jurassic Mom, Nasim, texted me and asked if I could meet up for a Moms Night Out.

In every group of Moms, there is always one Mom that organizes outings to get out of the house and away from the kids… And in our group, this person is Nasim.  Nasim is loads of fun to be around and she has been blessed with the ability to locate some of the best and most quaint establishments in the city that feature great wine and Tapas.

If you don’t know, Jurassic Moms love to eat Tapas.  I haven’t met one who doesn’t… And whenever we go out, we drink great wine, and enjoy portioned servings of caprese salad and macaroni balls…  Also deviled eggs, which have made a HUGE comeback in these fine establishments, but have been given cute names like “Bird in an egg,” Or “Picnic Niblet.”

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Whenever I go to a Tapas Bar in Los Angeles, I’m  constantly looking around for celebrities.  Everyone in Los Angeles is always trying to spot celebrities, and if they tell you they aren’t, they are lying liars.

Celebrities are like magical unicorns here… They are both everywhere and nowhere at the same time… And if you try to hunt them, you will never see them… They are like leprechauns that will pop out when you least expect them… You can walk Hollywood Boulevard for ten years and never see one, but one day be filling a prescription at Rite Aid, and look over and see Simon Cowell buying Dental Floss.

This is a big draw of living in Los Angeles, and it’s an especially big draw for someone like me, who spent her formative years in small Texas towns.  I only remember seeing a real bonefide-in-person celebrity one time… And that was at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Abilene, where myself and some girls scouts lined up thirty people deep  to get an autograph from Ed “Too Tall” Jones, who played for the Dallas Cowboys.  None of us knew who Ed Jones was, but the scoutmaster insisted our Dads would appreciate the effort.

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When we finally made our way to the front of the line to get our moment of facetime with ‘Too Tall,’ throngs of people were around him, and at one point, someone shouted… “Hey, Too Tall Jones! Will you hold my football?”

He did, and his fingers were as strange and  long as E.T.’s.  He held a football with the same kind of effortlessness that I have when I hold a can of Diet Coke…. And when I finally came face-to-face with “Too Tall,” I was really nervous, and my hands were shaking…  Then, we had this conversation:

 

Too Tall Jones (friendly in a fatherly way):  What’s your name, or should I write Miss America because you’re just that pretty.

Me :  (overwhelmed by the flattery from a celebrity athlete and speaking with a dry mouth):  Thank you, sir.  This autograph isn’t for me.  Please make it out to Charles Bridges. 

Too Tall Jones:  Is he your boyfriend?

Me:   I have no boyfriend, sir.  I will be giving this one to my father.

Too Tall (handing me the sheet of paper):  Here you go!  Tell your dad I said Hi…  Enjoy this coupon for a three-piece chicken dinner.  

 

That interchange with celebrity Ed “Too Tall” Jones, was water to my thirsty soul.  There is no validation like celebrity validation, and if you disagree with me, you’re lying.

Now… If you do go to a popular tapas place in LA, you may spot a celebrity.  This is true… And you especially have a good chance of spotting a Kardashian as they L-O-V-E tapas.  At almost every tapas establishment I have been to, one of the wait staff has related a Karadashian was just there.

Kim Kardashian

This makes me think the Kardashians eat tapas for pretty much every meal, and I walk into every tapas place thinking I will see one of them, but as of this writing, I never have.

The Kardashians are a family of Tapas Bigfoots with very high pitched voices.  I’m sure one day when I least expect it, I will see a Kardashian eating a tuna tartar slider… But until that time, I’ll keep looking.

After a glass of really good Pinot, we retired to the main restaurant, for Tapas and conversation.

There were four of us.  Me, Nasim (the organizer), Monica (Gorgeous, successful and a former prom queen), and Stacey (Beautiful successful blond).

We hadn’t been seated for five minutes when I thought I had witnessed a celebrity sighting just two tables down from us… and I said.. “Look you guys, that’s Ian Ziering.”

“That is definitely not Ian Ziering,” Nasim told me, who is an expert at celebrity sighting.

And it wasn’t.  Upon closer inspection, it was a bald man over sixty.

What can I say… Through the haze of wine and a handmade mozzarella ball, everyone looks like Ian Ziering to me.  I am terrible at spotting celebrities.  They have to practically be sitting on me.

This turned the conversation to the popular 90’s television show… 90210…  Which tells the simple all-American story of two normal mid-western teenagers, moving to Beverly Hills, and fitting in perfectly with the richest kids on earth, which affords them the opportunity to attend prom at the Beverly Hilton… hang out at the Peach Pit After Dark… and eventually rally around Tori Spelling (now a Jurassic Mom herself), and chant DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES over-and-over until it was burned into the brains of everyone who watched the show.

Then, we discussed who our celebrity 90210 crush was…

We all agreed in the 90’s it was either Brandon or Dylan.  Brandon for me, as I’ve always had a thing for nice guys.

But then, I took a higher stance, and said, “You know what, you guys?  If I had to pick one of those guys now… I wouldn’t choose Brandon or Dylan… I’d choose Brandon’s Dad because he is closer to my age than those high school guys, and he really cares about his kids… And he has a great job.”

brandon-and-jim-walsh

The ladies groaned at the thought of celebrity crushing on the 90210 Dad, and it was during my monologue listing the attributes of a middle-aged gentleman with a receding hairline, a hairy chest, and a gentle but firm discipline technique, that something caught Nasim’s eye:

“Oh.  My.  God… It’s Sean Astin,” she exclaimed.

And lo… Not a mere fifty feet from our table, sat the son of television’s Patty Duke… The underdog Football Hero, Rudy… Samwise Gamgee, the faithful friend of Frodo, but most importantly Michael “Mikey” Walsh of Goonies fame.

We were watching Sean Astin feed in the wild… There he sat, munching on tiny crab cakes and overpriced brussels sprouts… We had spotted THE WHITE WHALE!

In a word, he was… “MY PRECIOUS.”

Back in the late twentieth century, there was little publication called TIGER BEAT, and Sean Astin was one of the Princes of Tiger Beat, along with fellow royalty, Ricky Schroder, Jason Bateman, and the guys from Menudo.

Nasim, immediately began collecting her things.  “We are getting a picture with Sean Astin.”

THE HUNT WAS ON!!!

What?!?!?  Right now?!?!?

Admiring a celebrity from across the room is one thing… Approaching them while they eat… That is something else entirely…  That kind of hubris can be dangerous…  For every great story about celebrity run-ins, there are a mass of horror stories.  Russel Crowe, throwing a phone… Sean Penn punching a camera guy… Sweet Reese Witherspoon shouting “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!?!” as she is hauled off to the can… They can be wild and untamed and you must approach them with caution.

We had a good fifty feet to figure out our game plan.

We sat in silence watching our prey.  He was feeding with a friend, a man with a beard.  They were conversing…This was probably the conversation between these two guys:

Sean Astin:  (Quietly eating)

Bearded Friend:  Holy crap.  I am the luckiest man alive to be sitting here with you, celebrity, Sean Astin, and eating this quail egg fritata… This Argentinean Malbec compliments well your flawless complexion that hasn’t aged a day since you were in RUDY.

And on a side note, Sean Astin looked exactly like what Sean Astin is supposed to look like.  Let me drop this on you… The final LOTR film, Return of the King, was released in 2003… That was over 10 years ago!!!!  But he looks EXACTLY THE SAME.  He hasn’t aged.

He’s a unicorn.

There’s a saying around here:  You can admire a magical unicorn.. But if you try to feed it sugar, it will melt your face and turn you into a troll.  (That’s actually not a saying… I just made that up).

I was beginning to feel confident… The 1980’s  Tiger Beat knowledge I’d amassed as a young tween was growing inside me and filling my veins like a fresh can of NEW COKE.  I was beginning to feel that same strength I’d had as a young girl scout standing in line at the KFC.

“We are doing this,” I told them. “Goonies never say die!”  

Stacy looked at me as if I’d expelled a genuine Kobe Beef Mini-Slider Stinkbomb… “Please, don’t say that in front of Sean Astin.”  

Monica gently put her hand on my shoulder… “If you say that, I swear to God, I will slap you.”

Then Nasim piped up, and said these oddly familiar words perfectly applied to our situation…

“No, ladies… Amy is right. Don’t you realize?  The next time we see sky, it will be at the beach with our kids.  The next time we take a test, it will be at the DMV… We are parents and we want the best stuff for our kids.. And out there, we do what’s best for them.. Because it’s their time… Their time out there… But in here… In here, at this high-end Tapas restaurant with half-priced wine and calamari fried in duck oil, it’s our time.  It’s our time in here!  And that’s all over the second we get the check and pay the valet.”  

Then, Monica put her hand in the center of the table above the fois gras.  

“I’m in,” she said.

Stacy put her hand in as well…”I’m in.”  

Nasim put her had on top… “I’m in as well.”  

I was last to go… “Let’s do this thing.”  

“What’s our plan?” Nasim asked.  

And then it hit me… I remembered seeing a trailer for a new movie entitled MOMS  NIGHT OUT.  It opens next week, and guess who’s in it?  If you guessed Sean Astin, you would be right…

MOMS NIGHT OUT was the treasure map that would lead us to the One-Eyed-Willy.

“Okay,” I said… “We have a way in now… We just walk up to him and say… Hello Sean Astin… We are a group of ladies on a MOMS NIGHT OUT, and you are in a movie called MOMS NIGHT OUT… Imagine the coincidence.  Please take a picture with us.”

“Great!” Nasim said.  “You’ll do it!”

And with the strength of four Texas-born girl scouts standing in line at the KFC, we marched across the restaurant and asked celebrity Sean Astin, of Goonies fame and Tiger Beat Centerfolds, for a picture…

At least… I think we did… Because I do not remember a single thing that happened… Other than this… I rushed his table and shouted… “Hi Gentleman!  We are four adult women on a moms night out!”

After that, I flew into the sun…

This is what I will say about my facetime with Sean Astin:

God chooses only very special people like Sean Astin to be teenage dream machines…

And somehow, after all these years, Sean Astin, is still as humble as dreamy as he was in any TIGER BEAT photo, reclining against a stool with a flared collar and a Rubix Cube.

Sean Astin asked about my blog and I told Sean Astin it was called Jurassic Mom and Sean Astin said that was a great name for a blog.

If you can’t tell, I am on a mission to use the words Sean Astin as much as possible.

I share with you this photograph, taken with celebrity, Sean Astin, featured in the movie MOMS NIGHT OUT, with a group of four adult women on a MOMS NIGHT OUT.

ASTINclose

I am feeling very confident now.  And there is no confidence like Tapas Confidence.

90210 Dad… I’m coming for you next.