Thursday, April 29, 2010

There's Something I've Been Wanting To Say...

Chances are if and when you tune in or log on to any news outlet at any given hour you are sure to hear reports of all sorts of terribleness occurring in the world - much of it spun, hyped and twisted to the fear evoking, heart wrenching, dramatic max to grab our attention. It is for this reason that I don't tend to watch much "news" other than to hear what my favorite weather person has to say about the day or week ahead.

Several months ago I was a veritable Twitter Virgin. Twitter feels to me like a fascinating, sometimes maddening wild west of news gone viral and general information overload. The networking and marketing opportunities are endless. To think that you can choose to share information which could ultimately reach multiple thousands or even millions of people on a global level with a few keystrokes and a click is pretty crazy!

One seemingly ordinary December afternoon in the land of Tweets and Nods I was shocked to see, if I were to believe my own eyes, a mom in Florida tweeting one minute about random things happening around her yard, and the next about needing prayers for her very young son who had fallen into the family pool --- and then a short time later, a tweet that he was gone and a 'twitpic' posted in memoriam. Seeing the words in 140 character form at the time sent chills up my spine and my mind racing. Could this possibly be true? Would a person tweet about such a thing?? Really??? As it turned out, yes, and tragically so.

In the swirl of information circulating about this terrible tragedy, a web location was almost immediately designated for donations for the family and the outpouring of support from the "Mommy Blogger" community was evident throughout this woman's circle of over 5,000 Twitter "friends".

And then someone asked a question. Stop the fucking presses! Someone dared to suggest that folks wait for verification of this incredible story before sending money? The horror. Frankly, I thought this made perfect sense given the well known fact that there have been many bogus Amber Alerts which have made the rounds via e-mail in recent years. These hoaxes cost employers, the general public and sometimes law enforcement agencies who knows how much in wasted time, money and resources, not to mention emotional energy.

The ugliness that ensued after the first question was incredible to witness. What I saw was a hateful, disgraceful, embarrassing and ignorant display by what I will refer to as a Mob of Mommies. Women against women, mother against mother. And because of the position I was in at the time, I felt paralyzed from commenting for fear of jeopardizing a group I was associated with. This pissed me off even more. I tried to be thoughtful and diplomatic with a few tweets of my own... Concerned friends told me "walk away Jen, walk away..."

The details, timelines, who said what when, opinions and judgements about responsible parenting and all that go with it are not relevant here (i.e., in this space). A child was lost. This woman in Florida is a stranger to me. I can't begin to imagine how one deals with such an unbearable loss. No mother with any shred of human decency would wish such a thing upon another.

What I find very disturbing (and thus the reason for this posting) is that there are some bona fide geniuses out there who truly and wholeheartedly believe that you can blast out that kind of information to your thousands of followers (multiplied by their thousands of followers, etc.) and realistically expect that no one be allowed to question. Really?

This story made national headlines, but I didn't hear much if any talk (although I did chat with Dom "The Big Talker" Giordano 1210AM WHPT radio) about the plain and simple fact that we don't get to control or dictate what goes on in the court of public opinion. Period.

What I acknowledge as I share my feelings about this here is that you will likely have an opinion about it. And that's okay.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


From time to time I will be sharing some of the writings of my beloved Gram, Martha Dordigan, February 2, 1923 - August 13, 1996. Breast cancer took her much too early. She was beautiful and intelligent, creative and talented with great fashion sense. She endured many a heartache. She gave me the best first eight years of my life...something she was ironically unable to do for her own daughter, my mother. After her death I found a folder full of things she had written, some which broke my heart and made me realize there was so much more to her that I never knew. I do not believe I would be the person I am today had it not been for her.

I think of her all the time, but especially in the Spring as it was her favorite time of year. Her favorite color was yellow - she loved hummingbirds and listening to the chatter of squirrels in the trees outside her window. She taught me to notice and appreciate the beauty of nature.

I miss you Gram...

If you listen carefully,
you'll hear it whisper by -
A sweet and breathless sound,
like a soft contented sigh.
You'll hear it in the wind
as it rustles through the trees,
And the gentle, background humming
of the busy honeybees.
You'll hear it in the murmer
of a swiftly flowing stream
And the hush of peaceful evenings
like some half remembered dream.
You'll hear it everywhere,
for it's the wonderous, happy sound
of springtime just arriving
bringing new life all around!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shoes, Oh How I Love Thee!

It must be something that has become engrained in our DNA over the centuries, this love of shoes. What I am speaking of is a love of many, many shoes - a love so deep mere words cannot express it. From your classic Chuck Taylor to a Jimmy Choo sling back pump (a girl can dream can't she?) I love them all! There is one shoemaker in particular though who has stolen my heart. His name? Donald J. Pliner.

When I walk through the shoe department of Macy's at the King of Prussia Mall, I can barely contain my excitement when I reach the DJP display table. On a recent trip with my visiting, and very sensible auntie, I spied a red (a bit muted, not garish) wedge loafer with a small buckle on the side. I held my breath as I picked up the shoe and turned it over... the numbers 275 (with a dollar sign in front) were staring back at me. I tell myself these are a little out of my price range at the moment. Upon further examination of this red shoe (a thing of beauty and perfection) I see stamped into the heel in pretty gold lettering, "Made in the Mountains of Italy." While I appreciate the fact that Mr. Pliner is not having his shoes manufactured in a sweatshop somewhere, and I do appreciate good Italian leather, I am wondering why not the mountains of California or Washington (they have some big ones) or the Catskills or Adirondacks?

Donald J. Pliner opened his first store (Pappagallo) in Beverly Hills the year I was born for Pete's sake! (if you want to know what year that was you'll have to look it up yourself - hint: I'm no spring chicken honey). Maybe the shoes would be cheaper to manufacture somewhere in the good ol' USA and thus have a slightly smaller price tag? (big sigh) I guess the reality is that for some of us, seeing that "Made in the Mountains of Italy" stamp just makes the shoes all the more special. Okay, so maybe I'm the only one. I am a sucker for that kind of thing. For now I will trust that Donald J. Pliner knows what he's doing with this whole shoe business. I will wait patiently until my entrepreneurial dreams of writing the next bestseller are realized and I am able to finally make all of my shoe fantasies come true!

A note: I can only imagine what you must be thinking at this point. Please realize that I am not nearly as materialistic or shallow as this article may portray and can prove it with a brief tour of my closet. I just really love shoes A LOT!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Bikini Incident

I started out in this life as an only child and, frankly, that was working out pretty well for me. My parents were divorced and I was enjoying living with my grandmother, who had been taking care of me since before I could walk. After some honest self-reflection I can acknowledge that Gram spoiled me, not rotten, just spoiled. Life with Gram was sweet.

Around the age of eight, my father met and married the woman who would dominate my young years with a combination of frenetic Brady-Bunch-like-activities mixed with manipulation and ultimate control over every moment of my daily existence. Upon the union of my father and the woman who we will refer to herein as "Lulu", I also inherited two step-brothers.

We grew up in a very small ski resort town nestled atop one of the beautiful mountain ranges of Southern California. It was the kind of place where you could safely let your kids walk the mile or so to town to pick up a gallon of milk during a snowstorm, or to drop them off at the lake to rent a row boat and do a little fishing during the summer.

At the age of 15 I did not enjoy what one might consider the normal freedoms of a teenage girl. For the record, I was considered the "goody two shoes" in my small group of friends and hadn't experimented with much of anything other than kissing a boy occasionally. If I were given permission to be anywhere other than my house , it was well a known fact that Lulu could and would show up randomly to check on me.

On a lovely summer afternoon, June 15, 1982, it was my best friend, Lisa's 15th birthday . We called it her "golden" birthday because she was turning 15 on the 15th. We had plans to spend the afternoon swimming at their community pool, which was normally empty (of people, not water). We would have the place to ourselves, five girls, Loverboy blaring on the cassette player, Hi-C and a box of Oreo's. What could be better than that? These were pretty innocent times, at least in our world.

There was one minor detail that needed to be worked out, however. The other girls were all going to be wearing bikinis and I didn't have one. I was not allowed to wear a bikini. Now, I was a little more developed than my friends at this point, and not something I was happy about, so finding a top to fit me was a challenge. After some rummaging through my friend's older sister's drawers though, we found a top that worked and someone else had bottoms I could borrow. They didn't match, but I didn't care, I was with my friends and they didn't want me to feel left out. We walked arm in arm to the pool singing "Working for the Weekend" as loud as we could.

As I mentioned before, it was well known that Lulu could magically appear at any moment and my friends used found it highly entertaining to yell, "Hey, Jen, your Mom's coming!" They knew those words would strike the fear of God in me and never tired of seeing my reaction. So, as my friends and I were having a great time at the pool I heard my friend yell those dreaded words "Hey, Jeeennnnn, your Mom's comiiinnnng!" For some reason, this day, it didn't actually register with me until she said it a second time. I froze mid stride on my way for a refill on the Hi-C (we were crazy like that) and grab a couple more cookies. By the way, did I mention that I was definitely not allowed to be drinking Hi-C or eating Oreo cookies?

Sheer panic bordering on terror washed over me as I was actually looking for a place to hide, like this was a perfectly logical thing to do, when I heard our Jeep Wagoneer come barreling down the road. It had it's own unique sound, sort of a light jangling in the wheel... I knew the sound of that car with my eyes closed, like a dog knows the sound of their master coming home. I went for the only place I could think of at that moment, behind a door. There weren't exactly a lot of options. I didn't actually believe that she wouldn't find me, I mean she knew I was there, I HAD PERMISSION! This was a Lulu approved event! I just needed a moment to think about how I was going to explain the bikini.

She barged on in, in typical Lulu fashion demanding to know where I was, her big crazy eyes in full effect. I quickly came to the conclusion that hiding behind the door was probably not the best idea, so I decided to show myself and just get on with whatever punishment lie ahead. I was already calculating how long I was going to be on restriction, which was really ironic considering my life at that point seemed to be one giant restriction after another.

There I stood dripping wet in my borrowed, mismatched bikini looking a bit like a string bean with boobs and nothing to say for myself. I know she was yelling something at me as she pulled me by my hair and spanked me in front of my friends yes, I said spanked, all the way to the car, but I can't remember now. The words aren't important anymore, but the way she made me feel that day, and on many other occasions, affected my psyche in ways that I never fully realized until much later in life.

My friends were shocked to see me getting spanked and dragged away from the party like a child. I was quite embarrassed myself, but as the time has passed this story has become funnier in its retelling among my friends because of the sheer ridiculousness of it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let's Begin... in True Conflicted Gemini Fashion

Now that I have done the appropriate amount of over-thinking the creation of this blog, here's a little glimpse into my stream of consciousness: What will people think? Who cares what they think, it's my blog, right? Will they think I'm narcissistic? I want to be a great writer and all of the great writers are brave - am I brave enough? If I am brave, I do not care what others think, right? Should I write under a different name? What if I offend someone? Oy vey, and for the love of all that is holy, just get on with it!

So - here we are.

Jen C. is my real name.

I feel as though I have lived a couple of lifetimes up to this point. At the tender age of 17, I ran off with a boy, got pregnant, barely finished high school, got married, had a baby and divorced less than two years later... I was a good kid, no really, but we'll get to that later.

The point of sharing with the world yet another blog among millions? Typically I would feel compelled to explain my point thoroughly, but the newer, older and wiser me says read, enjoy and don't be too serious.

I'll be writing about experiences that fall under the "that's really funny now" category (i.e., now that I've lived through them), and other random stuff...the brave me really wanted to say shit - I'll be writing about random shit. Hmmm. Ellen doesn't swear and she's hilarious...fucking hilarious. Okay - so maybe I'll go easy on the swearing.

What I can tell you with certainty is that truth really is stranger than fiction!