Sunday, December 29, 2013

10 Ways Every Day is New Year's Eve When You Have Kids

1.  A night out costs a small fortune.

2.  Everyone around you feels entitled to celebrity treatment.

3.  The "music" makes you want to shove railroad spikes in your ears. 

4.  Girls hobble around in shoes they have absolutely no business wearing.

5.  You can bet your ass the ball will be dropped. 

6.  By the time you can go get yourself a drink or some food, there's not a thing left.

7.  There are questionable substances all over the bathroom. 

8.  It's 4 degrees out, but people insist upon rocking their skimpiest outfit possible. 

9.  Someone's working really hard to get in your bed.

10. You know you're going to be totally useless tomorrow. 

Isn't it great to know nothing's changed? 

Parents, we're living the dream!  

Happy New Year, my comrades in parenting -- whether you go out or stay in, or pass out at 10:30 pm!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Misadventures in Holiday Card Ordering

Whether you like it or not, you are probably a devout follower of the The Holiday Laws, Article 237, Section 5.  

That's the one says civilized people absolutely MUST send out oodles of cards featuring a photo of themselves, their partner, and/or offspring (pets optional).  It is of the utmost importance that in said photo(s) everyone look like the most attractive and joyful creatures ever to have graced the face of the earth.  

I might mock this custom a little (THE PRESSURE!), but really I love it. I have many friends scattered all over the country, whose gorgeous children I've never met, and may not meet for a long time, if ever.  It's a beautiful thing to open an envelope and see the passage of time through these ever-maturing young people.  

I love seeing a smirk, a smile, or just a fleeting expression that reminds me of my friend, not to mention seeing the faces of the kids that both drive my pals to drink and make their hearts soar.

And since I imagine that pics of my littles do the same for my friends, I treat the failure to send out cards like a felony.

I was slow this year, but since I have a DP (Doctorate in Procrastination), it didn't phase me much. On December 6, while the photo card companies were still handing out discounts like free condoms at a liberal college, I logged into my stand-by, the one that rhymes with Crapdish, and found a design I liked. Like any normal person, I uploaded some choice photos of my kids, and one family shot where we didn't look like candidates for DCFS. And then, after the amount of time it would take to separate conjoined twins, I hit the "submit" button.

With the discount codes my order came to about 13 cents.  Not really, but that's how thrilled I was.  I was ready to get a Crapdish tattoo on my butt.  

But wait. . . That's too cheap, I thought. I googled Crapdish, and found tons of complaints about the quality.

I did what any smart person would do.  I entered into a live chat with a customer service agent halfway across the world.

When I asked him about the paper quality, he never informed me that there was card stock, which is thick and durable and pretty, and then there was photo paper, which is flimsy and thin and once the postal person shoves it in a mailbox with 328 other items will look like a used Vagisil wipe.  

Sure it SAID photo paper.  But when you don't sleep, and two children and a husband have stolen your brain and turned it into cottage cheese, a gal needs a customer service rep with the insight and the BALLS to point out the obvious.


I ordered my cheapass cards and waited.

In two days, I got a notice that they had shipped.  Woot-woot!

In eight days, I went away for the weekend.  

When I came back, Hubs said they hadn't come, when they actually had (the subject of another post altogether).

The next day, I found the box and opened it.

Holy Shit!!! This. Was. All. Wrong. I launched into a diva hissy, and threw myself on the floor. "I canNOT send these cards!  These are HORRRRIBBLLLE!"  I called my bestie in New York, who, although she didn't say so, knew it was all my fault.  

I called Crapdish, and let them have it for LETTING me order such trash, and without emphasizing the difference.  

Graciously, and in accordance with their "satisfaction guaranteed" policy, they immediately refunded my money.  

But I still needed a card!

I scoured the Web for a card that was:
1. cheap
2. beautiful
3. would be printed and on my doorstep in five minutes.

Unfortunately, almost every company was now gouging those disorganized and stupid enough to wait until nine days before Christmas to order their holiday cards. In my book, these companies were now at the level of people who sold  overpriced single tampons.

Finally, after another 46 hours at the computer, I ordered my dream card from a company that sounds like Stutterguy.

Like Meatloaf says, "two outta three ain't bad." I almost had to put a second mortgage on my house to pay for those cards, but they should be here by Friday. 

Or else…

Happy Carding, Y'all!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tales of Nutcrackers Gone Very, Very Wrong

It’s that time of year again, people.

We are in the sweet beating heart of Nutcracker season.  It’s the time of year when cracking nuts has nothing to do with kicking a dude in the crotch, and everything to do with hundreds of dancers making magic on an elaborate set. 

But did you ever stop and wonder what is REALLY going on onstage?  With the thousands of productions all over the country, let alone the world, there must be some MAJOR mishaps, right?

You bet your candy canes there are!  And right here on Mom’s New Stage some of my ballet dancin’ friends share their Nutcracker nightmares! 

Years ago I was in a Nutcracker performance where the professional guest Cavalier, a fantastic Cuban dancer, was a married man.  Not married enough, however, to keep from conducting simultaneous affairs with two of the women cast as party adults.  One of these women was also similarly "married." The other was a single schoolteacher, and she was head-over-heels smitten.   

During the performance the cavalier Cavalier broke it off with the schoolteacher. Devastated and enraged, she reported him to the police for sexual assault!  During the last act of the final performance of the run a team of police officers stormed into the theater, and began combing the backstage area and the catwalks in pursuit of the suspect. As you can imagine, all the dancers in the production wondered what the fondu a bunch of cops were doing in the wings.

The director begged the officers to let the accused finish the performance.  They permitted the Cavalier to take his bows before whisking him away for questioning.  

The charges were later dropped.  I'd be willing to bet that there has never been a more exciting final act of Nutcracker before or since.  

--- Anonymous

In one performance, my Sugarplum Cavalier got injured doing the last jump of his solo and his replacement was a dancer from the company who happened to be sitting in the audience watching the show. They grabbed him out, stripped him down backstage and got him into a pair of tights during my solo, (very QUICKLY) to make our next entrance. It was a little insane and confusing for the audience for sure.

---Kati Hanlon Mayo, Principal, formerly North Carolina Dance Theater

I was apprenticing at Charlotte City Ballet. We were doing the NYC Ballet version and we had an American Ballet Theater soloist dancing Sugar Plum.  It was a big deal; all my friends and family were there. 

Now probably because it was too expensive, the production team didn’t use the dry ice that would create those magical, mystical effects UNTIL THE ACTUAL PERFORMANCES!  In this production the second act started with the Sugar Plum Fairy's solo, so just after the curtain opened they spread the dry ice and then she appeared out of the mist.  The poor woman was like Bambi on ice. She fell about 10 times!

In the very next scene, all of the different dancers, Waltz of the Flowers, candy canes, Chinese, etc. were to run from upstage right to downstage left to bow to her.  So there I am in the wings, waiting and freaking out. Eight dancers went before me, and literally every other one busted her ass. I started praying, Don't let me slip, please don’t let me slip! Everyone is here!

I ran as lightly and delicately as I could, but still managed to wipe out EXACTLTY at center stage.  Completely shattered, I picked myself up, curtsied to the damn fairy, and exited. They ended up having to stop the production, mop and dry the stage, and restart it 30 minutes later!!!  To this day, one of my best friends who was in the audience tells me it was one of the most memorably hilarious moments in her life. 

---Christine Betsill, formerly Charlotte City Ballet

I am proud to say the only part I have ever played in the Nutcracker wasn’t Clara.  It wasn’t the Sugar Plum Fairy or the Snow Queen.  I can’t even say I donned the fabulous stilts in my best Drag garb as Mother Ginger.  (Although, that would have been right up my alley.)  My 5’2” modern dancer ass, complete with hips and a decent pair of tatas, was cast as…drum roll please… the Rat king. 

As if this wasn’t funny enough, my fearless opponent and the hero of our classic story was a 6’2” BALLET GOD.  I decided to play it as quirky as possible to make up for my Napoleonic stature.  Jumps, turns, electrified jolts were done at 160%, including the sword fight.  In the heat of taking down the Nutcracker prince, my sword hit his with such gusto, the blade broke right in the middle.  I had to finish off the battle creatively, with swinging shaft, until my dying breath.

---Jennifer Tarrazi-Scully, Dancer With An Attitude

There were a few times when I went for the shoulder sit and while I was being brought down, my butt tulle got stuck on my partner's hook and eye on his tunic. So there I was, halfway down to the ground stuck on my partner's chest! He finally ripped me off of his chest but needless to say, we couldn't stop laughing! It took about 8 counts for him to get me on the floor!

---Mia Cunningham, formerly North Carolina Dance Theater

It was my first Nutcracker ever with Ballet Austin. For some reason, the company arrived at the theater crazy late, with no time for a spacing rehearsal -- only time to quickly warm-up, get made-up and dressed, and get onstage.

I was rushing to get ready when I heard my music coming.  I was a soldier doll, but I'd never had a proper fitting or dress rehearsal, so I had no idea what to wear.  I grabbed a little military jacket and a matching short circle skirt, threw them on, and ran to place.  My partner and I were to enter from opposite sides of the stage each in our own tip trunks, a “gift” box where you open one side and it’s empty and then you turn it around, tip it over, and it we're there and pop out.  In my box, sitting with my arms wrapped around my legs, I felt a draft around my undercarriage.  #$%@!!!! I had no trunks*!  I only had tights under a super short skirt, and I had tons of crotch-revealing movement.  I was going to make this an X-rated Nutcracker!

So. . .I did the whole variation with my arms plastered to my sides.  My partner was like “What are you doing?!!!” I whispered, “I have no trunks on!”  We were cracking up, with me literally grabbing my lady bits to keep them from being on display.

From the wings, the director shot me withering “WTF?” looks. I thought I was for sure fired.  When I exited he asked, “What was that?”  I flashed him, and he laughed and shook his head.  I did the best I could bottomless.

---Charla Metzker Whitely, formerly Ballet Austin and Ballet Florida

Any Nutcracker bloopers in your past, either as a dancer or from the audience?  Do share!

*essentially the bottom half of a leotard

Friday, December 6, 2013

This Movie Hurts. And You Must See It.

I read Twelve Years a Slave over twenty years ago for a college history class. Nightmarish cruelty permeated every page in this harrowing story of a free black man, a resident of upstate New York, who in 1841 was tricked, kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep South. It was a book I couldn't stop reading, although I needed to put it down often.  The unimaginable horror and vivid descriptions had a cinematic feel, and I wondered if there would ever be a movie.

And for years there was nothing, or nothing mainstream, until now.

I first learned that Twelve Years a Slave had been made into a movie on CNN, and then read a glowing review in the New Yorker, a magazine whose film critics give wholehearted praise to almost nothing.  I stalked it online -- read every critique -- yet shied away from watching the trailer because I knew it reveal too much misery.  I asked a girlfriend, my “heavy movie buddy,” to go see it with me.  She said she'd think about it, but said she just couldn’t after reading reviews describing scenes “unbearable in their cruelty,” scenes it was impossible to dismiss as “just a movie.”

My mother came to the rescue. She saw it once, and offered to see it again with me.  Although I was grateful for her company, I’m still not sure I understand the profound maternal love – wanting to share the experience with her daughter – that could make someone endure this movie twice in less than a month. 

Any emotional preparation I had tried to do failed miserably. I was a wreck walking into the theater. I couldn't even bring myself to distraction with popcorn or Twizzlers. I didn't want to, and I didn't even try.   The previews -- trailers for the Nelson Mandela biopic and Belle, a film about a beautiful young half black/half white woman (I couldn't help thinking about my daughter) adopted into a noble family in early 19th century century England – didn’t help; I was teary before the main feature began.

From Twelve Years a Slave’s opening frame my muscles tightened.  I never walk out on movies, but several times I thought I might have to leave the theater.  About halfway through I reached for my phone to see how much time I had left.  While there are brief instances of light, kindness, natural beauty and humanity, the suffering and savagery are constant. I arrived home emotionally exhausted, and over a week later my mind dances with the film’s haunting sounds and images. 

It was a test of my emotional endurance.  And as excellent a movie as it was, beautifully filmed, featuring tremendous performances from all the actors especially Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, “I loved this movie” or even “I liked this movie” are sentences I can’t let pass my lips.  All I can think about is slavery, not softened into the mild servitude in Gone With the Wind but as a barbaric stain on American and world history.  More than any movie before it, Twelve Years a Slave makes the audience feel what it must have been like -- the violence, the rape, the dehumanization, the fear, the loneliness, the infantilization, the auction block, the separation of parents and children, and countless daily privations and humiliations.  It makes you not just understand that these things happened, but that they were commonplace -- the absolute power of master over slave, psychologically, physically, sexually and emotionally was sanctioned by law, and in the eyes of slaveholders, by God.  

Very heavy stuff.  So heavy, so depressing, and so disturbing I worry many people won't see it.  It’s so much easier not to. It’s not an escape; it’s not entertainment. Much of Twelve Years a Slave is too unbearable to watch, too evil to let into your consciousness.  

And it brings up far too many issues.  Many folks are tired of hearing about slavery and wish it would just go away, so we can stop blaming people, stop feeling guilty, stop feeling victimized and abused and move on.  

But that's impossible.  Slavery's legacy runs too deep.  And because slavery and race and our feelings about those issues bring out such anger and fear, we’ve stopped talking.  We go on extreme offense and defense when something goes down, but then the dust settles, and the gag goes right back in place. 

And it's such a shame because we need to ask each other questions. The conversation has to continue.  And as much as possible, in person, as opposed to on Facebook where anonymity gives so many people license to let their inner asshole out in full force.  

We need to talk about how a movie like this makes us feel, about why it is painful, and why depending on, yes, our skin color, we might be pained for different reasons.  We have to talk about our ideas and misconceptions. We need to acknowledge that this is an American story not a “black people’s story.”

We need to be open to hearing things we don’t like. 

Slavery’s ghosts still haunt us.  All of us.  Every day.  In things like our booming prison population, our failing urban public schools, the vitriolic opposition to our first black president, the opposition to a Cheerios ad, Trayvon Martin, expulsion over a natural hairstyle, and the list goes on. 

Please see Twelve Years a Slave.  As much as it hurts to watch, it's such a phenomenal and important movie. 

Go. And after you’ve seen and cried and become furious and asked questions and had a discussion, to help your spirit heal, go find a way to see in whole or in part, Alvin Ailey's masterpiece, Revelations.  The strong bodies, leaping, running and reaching for salvation become all the more relevant, soothing and heart-stoppingly ecstatic.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December Finding the Funny!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

MILFs - 1, Regular Moms - 0

The latest trend seems to be moms taking in-your-face photos (Selfies!) of their superfit/modelesque/Victoria’s Secret Angel bodies and posting them online.  The caption “I Won the Body War!” is sometimes there in writing, as it was in Maria Kang’s “What’s Your Excuse?” and sometimes it's implied, as it is in the photo below, taken by Norwegian fitness blogger Caroline Berg Eriksen.

I mean wow!  She looks like that four days after giving birth? Four days?!!!! Not four weeks.  Not four months.  Four friggin' DAYS!  

Granted, she looked like this right before she popped. . .

That’s how I look when I have gas, people. 

Clearly, this woman is not made like the rest of us.  She’s genetically gifted, a whole other breed.  And if she’s a fitness blogger, looking like that is her job.  More power to her.

Now, I’m a modest person – the kind of person who would win an Academy award and say, “Hey y’all, I just won this kinda cool Golden Statue Man.”  I always thought that if you were secure in yourself you didn’t need to rub a regular mom’s face in your incomprehensibly perky lactating ta-tas.or on your washboard abs.    

What do you want other people to say when you go on a boasting spree/tell people how amazeballs you are/post selfies of yourself looking like you could go right from the mother-baby room to a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot?

You want praise, baby.  And you’ve come to the right place. 

Hi Hot Mom-

Wow!  You could not look better!!!  Are you sure you are not descended right from Venus? The goddess, I mean.  Because you look SPECTACULAR.  Really, really fabulous. You’re shaking your head, so I guess it’s just hard work,right?

That’s really disappointing because that means that there is NO hope for the rest of us.  No sirree.  Because, I’ll speak for myself, I just don’t have that kind of willpower.  I like things like pizza.  And cake.  And vats of X-tra Cheezy Cheezos.  And as for exercise, I have the core strength of a pillow.  I tried doing tummy time with my three-month-old son and we both got stuck rolling over.  Embarrrrrrrrrassing!  Your commitment to diet and exercise are to be applauded.  I’m gonna start clapping right now.

Whew!  That’s enough clapping for me – that’s some activity right there!  Hey, maybe I burned off some of the Ho-Hos I had for my mid-morning snack!  You really are such an amazing role model to all women who just grew a human being inside their body! Even those who may have been gutted like a fish to get that kid – kids even – outta there!  You’re nothing until you can look hot in a bikini or your bra and panties, don’t you think? 

I’m crying now. . . because no matter how many muffins I make, how many trips to the park, how many hugs and snuggles and late nights sitting in a steamy bathroom with a croupy child, I have failed my kids with my fat ass. What kind of mother am I -- what am I teaching my children about the world -- with (gasp!) no muscle definition whatsoever?!

And my poor husband - having to debase himself by sleeping next to me.  The poor fellow probably cries himself to sleep every night, while yours wakes up every day, gets down on his knees and thanks his lucky stars for getting the HOTTEST wife on the planet!

It isn’t fair, but I’ll just have to accept it. 

Thank you for sharing your beauty!  I am so blessed that I can see your photo as much as I want on the Internet and not in person, because next to you people would think me a troll, and they might pour hot oil or throw rotten vegetables on me.  And then I’d look even worse. 

Did I tell you how gorgeous you are?

Chunky MacChunkerson,
Someone who always tells people what they want to hear


Now maybe this woman is just proud of her rockin’ bod (as she should be) and unlike Maria Kang isn’t trying to shame anyone.  

Maybe she’s merely celebrating her success/good luck. 

I’m just sick of boasting. Would the humblebraggers and the bragholes just get their sexy asses on their big yachts, with the A-list celebs they rub elbows with, and just leave the rest of us the hell alone?

I’d love it if someone -- anyone -- would bring modesty back.  

But I think I’ll be waiting a long time for that. 
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