February 23, 2007

Because I Care

This just in from dooce.com:

"Many of you have written to ask what I think about what is going on with Britney Spears, and I have to say that some of the emails have been a bit nicer to her than others. Normally I would try to find some bit of humor in what seems to be happening, but I just don’t find any of it funny at all. It’s just not something I am willing to laugh or poke fun at. I certainly don’t have any first-hand knowledge of what she’s feeling, but if I were to make a guess I would say that she’s suffering postpartum depression, or at least some sort of postpartum breakdown.

I realize that my guess is just as uninformed as most of the bullshit that has been published about her, about any celebrity for that matter, and it could be that she just likes to party, but a lot of the behavior she has exhibited in the last few months reminds me of what I experienced after the birth of Leta. I felt as unstable as she is now acting.

I think she parties to self-medicate.

I am surprised that no one has brought this up yet, that no one in the media who is hounding her has taken a step back to consider that she might be on the brink of something disastrous, tragic for both her and her children. I can honestly say that if I had filed for divorce from my husband within the first year of Leta’s life that there is no way I would be alive today. If cameras had been following me around during those awful months you would have seen me throwing full gallon milk jugs at Jon’s head. You would have watched as I slammed the front door so hard that it fell off of its hinges, or the countless number of times I called Jon at the office just so that I could hang up on him. Maybe you would have seen me through the window as I stood in front of the medicine cabinet in the kitchen trying to figure out whether or not I had the nerve to take an entire bottle of Risperdal.

You wouldn’t have ever found me out at night flashing my bare vagina, but so what? I did things that were far worse, a lot of yelling, a lot of walking away, a lot of wishing I had never had a child. But I forgive myself for all of that because I was sick. I am not that person anymore. I wasn’t that person before my breakdown, and I’m doing everything I can to not ever become her again.

And while I understand that Britney Spears is not everyone’s cup of tea, that to most people she’s just a spoiled celebrity who has more money than sense, I would hope that other women and other mothers are looking at her with a little bit of compassion right now, if only for the sake of those two baby boys who are innocent in all of this. She is their mother. I had too many people pulling for me when I went through it to not extend that sympathy to her or to any other woman who might feel out of control enough to start sabotaging her life."

February 21, 2007


Friends and co-workers have been approaching me, asking me what to make of the most infamous head shaving of the new millennium.

At first, I didn't believe it had happened, my jaw didn't drop right away. I received a text on Saturday from a friend who received the news from a friend who was at the Mondrian on Sunset and witnessed a silver-wig-wearing Britney get humiliated in front of the staff of the posh hotel. Apparently, while donning a bathing suit that did nothing to flatter her muffin-top-in-the-making, she wanted to book a room using a credit card number she had scribbled down on a napkin. The front desk wouldn't have any of it, and Miss Spears proceeded to break out in tears. Making matters worse, and prompting her to get even more upset, passers-by started to laugh at her.

Later that night, in between rum and Cokes at Molly's going-away soiree in Hancock Park, I hopscotched my way through conversations regarding the recent shenanigans our gal Brit had gotten herself into. I started to realize the rumor was true. This was genuine news. The girl went buzz crazy (I guess she wanted the drapes to match the carpet).

My jaw had yet to drop.

Then came the MySpace comments with embedded photos of the bald Britster (like the one above...thanks Greg). Holy crap, right? This was no work of a Photoshop professional. I'm sure Perez was just bursting with gossipy glee over the holiday weekend.

Then, of course, came the The View. Joy thought it was an act of self-mutilation (pretty insightful). Barbara worried that young girls would copy her (Really, Barbara? You think Brit still has a hardcore fan base after years of disappointment, divorce, and diapers? It's called retirement - Go on it). And Elisabeth? She guessed it was another desperate attempt to shine the spotlight on her (give that girl a gluten-free cookie!).

I am trying to figure out why it hasn't hit me yet, why I'm not picking up my chin off the floor. It wasn't like I was expecting it. But I, like many others, have been relying on our former American pop tart to deliver tasty tabloid treasures, and right now I've had my fill.

Now tearing a page from the Book of Lohan, she has gone into rehab and is apparently looking forward to it:

At least her teeth are still intact.

Are rehabilitation centers the new celeb spas? What goes on there exactly? A few moments of silence, followed by several poetry sessions and Red Bull cleansers?

I'm losing my hope for that comeback album. I'm losing my hope for any comeback.

It is truly sad, and a part of me does feel for Britney, this poorly educated Louisiana hick in Juicy Couture. However, I'm gradually giving up on her because these cries for help have gone unheard, and no one close to her is offering to pull her out of the quicksand. We are mere spectators now, ticketholders to the Great Spears Disaster of '07.

This has to be her rock bottom. How much further down can she go?

I guess there's always passing out in a hallway of the Beverly Hilton. There's always overdosing outside the Viper Room on Sunset. There's always driving her SLK through a guardrail and off Mullholland Drive.

If you look on the brightside, she'll most likely reinvent the Crash-and-Burn, Down-and-Out Falling Star.

Let's watch.

Betting on when the first Bald Britney joke will be cracked at the Oscars,


February 13, 2007

Romancing the Chocolate

It's not that I don't like V-Day.

I am not opposed to heart-shaped velvet containers filled with dark truffles and caramel goodness. I am not against a beautiful dinner accompanied by a bottle of fine merlot. Heck, sell me a pink shirt at any given retailer, and I'll wear it with pride (hopefully it complements one of my dashing pin-striped blazers).

But just like Christmas forces people to be considerate and giving for a few days out of the year, Valentine's Day forces people to mimic, for one night at least, the rituals of a poorly written romantic comedy or reenact scenarios found in the ruffled pages of a Harlequin novel.

And that is what makes me grimace - the fact that millions of dollars go into creating superromances for one day when every day should be just as special.

I'm no Bitter Barney. Even though Cupid and I have yet to be on the same wavelength, I don't spit on couples who hold hands on the sidewalk or sip soda through straws from the same glass at outdoor cafes...I save that for Wednesdays.

Every year the anti-Valentine sentiment seems to grow stronger in Los Angeles, probably because the number of singletons in this country is bigger than ever. The florists can charge whatever they want for a dozen roses, the candy shops can stack up as many boxes of chocolates as they can, and the restaurants can book all the tables they have - but there will always be those who will opt for night out with their fellow loveless, dressed all in black and ready to give Puppy Love the Evil Eye.

And am I wrong in thinking this anti-Valentine feeling is just as strong in the coupled community? There are those poor schlubs who dread February 14 because it's the day they have to empty their wallets for significant others who think their lives should resemble a decadent episode of Sex and the City.

It's special when you surprise your bf/gf/lover/partner/mistress/trick with a romantic dinner or gift on any given day. We're conditioned to expect the special stuff only on the special days, and whenever the Special hits us on a Regular day, we become suspicious, cynically looking for ulterior motives.

Why is Johnny giving me a bouquet with a teddy bear? Who did he sleep with?

Why is Jill serving me breakfast in bed? Did she delete the game on TiVo?

Swallow the pill, accept the token, and be thankful that someone cares.

Also, while you're at it, mentally kick yourself for not thinking of it first.

For me, Valentine's Day has been a very small blip on a very small radar for the past two weeks, probably because I have been preoccupied by one birthday party after another. Apparently half the population was born during January and February, forcing me to buy greeting cards in bulk now.

I did receive a surprise Valentine treat on Friday night. It was a heart-shaped box full of pink M&Ms, courtesy of one Miss Rachael Friedman. She had passed them out to our friends during a vegan dinner at Real Food Daily on La Cienega. And to add a campy touch, she taped a Britney Spears Valentine card (circa 2000) on top: "Vintage Britney: B.K. (Before Kevin)" she scribbled.

It now sits on my kitchen counter for all to see. Naturally, I had consumed all the chocolate candies that night. I finished them while driving home from Arena, where I had stood for hours to see BT (that's Brian Transeau for the uninitiated) mix and spin through his Laptop Symphony for hundreds of lonelyhearts hungry for some good, solid electronic beats.

There's nothing like a good, booming remix of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to get you in the mood for what's arguably the most romantic date on the calendar.

Book those reservations. Inhale those raspberry truffles. Wink at your office crush. V-Day has come.

Breaking out the pink shirt,


February 07, 2007

Where It All Began

During my junior high days at New Rochelle Catholic Elementary, I was on the writing staff of The Cardinal Chronicle, the school's pathetically assembled newspaper. And by "pathetically assembled," I mean the school's typewritten-cum-handwritten-and-stapled-together-on-legal-sized-paper newspaper.

Our faculty moderator was the chain-smoking, REM-loving Mrs. Baron, a 60s love child with teeth so yellow (get out the Snaps book), she could spit out butter. She took on the double duty of being the school's librarian and art teacher. By morning, she guided us through that darn Dewey Decimal System, and by afternoon, she showed us how to make a mean tie-dyed T-shirt.

During afterschool meetings on Mondays, we discussed what would be featured in the upcoming issue, assigning stories to those who were lucky enough to huddle in our small library and discuss the finer sides of unreleased Ace of Base tracks and the daring trends set by Kriss Kross. Fashion updates (baggy jeans, checkered flannel, and fat belts are in!), music reviews (go out and buy the new Jon Secada!), and tips on what to see at the multiplex (Macaulay Culkin gets all badass in The Good Son!) were regular sections usually followed by faculty interviews. A chat with Mr. Braca, our gym teacher, about preparations for the basketball team's bake sale had been a fine piece of elementary school journalism. Never had a student captured on paper the intensity and stamina that went into the formulation of the perfect Rice Krispie treat.

Being the enormous (literally and figuratively) 13-year-old bookworm and TV junkie that I was, I usually appointed myself as the paper's book and TV critic. One year I created a newspaper serial called "New Rochelle, 10805," chronicling the melodramatic lives of fictitious 14-year-olds. Needless to say, it was my first attempt at mimicking my then-producing idol, Aaron Spelling. Each little installment included a nifty cliffhanger ("Jan, watch out for that car!"), and I am proud to say it ran through four issues. God help me if I remember what happened in the finale.

My "Book Corner" rarely saw bad reviews, probably because I had a hard-on for R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike and any other YA thriller copycats that dominated my bookshelves at home. The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith - "The terrifying story of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them." R.L. Stine's Halloween Party - "Justine invites a bunch of her classmates to a party on Fear Street where the guests are just dying to get out!" Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick - "Someone's playing tricks on Martha, who has just moved into a cold and creepy house before Halloween."

Other contributions to The Cardinal Chronicle included a short story that, according to one Sarah Evans, still stands out as one of my best pieces of fiction. "The Sound of Dying Birds" was a bleak four-pager about an unlikely friendship formed between an old man and a young boy after a nuclear holocaust. The pair sit on a park bench surrounded by ruins, listening to birds fall from the tainted sky...

You know, one of those all-American, feel-good bedtime stories for the kiddies.

As a librarian, Mrs. Baron made sure we were well-rounded in our literary selections. I was a member of the advanced reading class she also taught during the day (God, I hope that woman got two paychecks for all the hats she wore in that school). She introduced us to Stephen King's "The Eyes of the Dragon" as well as the word flaccid to our vocabulary (part of an inside joke only elementary school kids could appreciate).

Mrs. Baron the Art Teacher would also allow her students to express themselves through music in the classroom. During each art class, several students would bring in a tape of their favorite songs to play on the cassette player near the paint brushes and colored pencils. Singles from Dr. Dre, Naughty by Nature, and other obscure rappers typically monopolized the player. If it wasn't rap, artists like Spin Doctors and Nirvana filled the spaces in between. When I brought in music, it was usually the latest single from Amy Grant or a mix tape made from CDs of Lisa Keith (anyone? anyone?), Big Mountain, or Annie Lennox (If you ask me, "Walking on Broken Glass" was the shit).

You can imagine how well that went with my classmates.

I can see clearly now how The Cardinal Chronicle was an influence in developing my penchant for all things pop culture. It was the perfect outlet for my media-reporting impulses. It was my place to blog before there were blogs. It was my place to vent out my thoughts on TV characters before there was anything resembling reality-TV confessionals. And while I contributed to the paper, I got a kick out of knowing my words were being printed and distributed to an audience that would eventually grow familiar with my style, my viewpoints, my work.

I wonder what has happened to Linda Baron. Last time I heard, she had gotten cancer (lung, breast, I don't remember), and her teenaged son had run into some trouble (drugs, alcohol, I'm not sure).

Though it was only half of my lifetime ago, it feels longer. It certainly was a different time (a simpler time?) on which I now look back with a smile...and a shudder (take a look at my 1993 yearbook pic, and you'll know why). I don't look back with regret, and, taking a cue from Noel Gallagher, I definitely don't look back in anger.

If there was one thing I could tell my 13-year-old self besides "Drop the Funyuns," it would be this:

"It only gets better."


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