Death, Disertion, Divorce

My parents didn't get divorced till I was 18 years old (although I often wished they had much sooner). Still, whenever I hear the song "Stay together for the kids" by BLINK 182 I cry, or now, after years of hearing that song, I am able to at least push back the tears. I don't know why exactly that song affects me so much, but it does.

Thank you to all the parents that wait to have kids until you are ready.

Thanks to those who do their best to work things out.

Thanks to those who know when it's time to give up.

I know, it's wrong; but the secret punk rock shock value guilt trip kid that lives inside me wants so badly for my boy to perform this song at the elementary school talent show, just so I can see if anyone else cries too.... But I wont.. don't worry.

Better Parenting Through Skating

I have been asked many times why I let my young son skateboard. People suggest he might pick up bad habits or foul language from the older kids who skate. My response is always that hanging out with skaters has made my son Chris a better person.

“Isn’t he missing a lot by not playing TEAM sports?”
I hear that question all the time. We have done the soccer and baseball thing. We paid the money to join leagues that other parents didn’t want to volunteer for. We learned that the soccer commissioner was hiding money, the baseball commissioner was stacking his team with the leagues best players only to be certain that that the opposing team cheated when his “superteam” lost. When adults started expecting their kids to “toughen up” (There’s no crying in baseball) while they coached them with loud voices and pointed fingers in faces, we decided that this team sport thing was really cutting into our family time and values.

Watching Chris’ continued attempts to use a pitching machine long after her son gave up, a playmates mom asked me how I taught Chris to persevere. I am certain that he learned perseverance at the skatepark. He learned at a very early age that the key to success is practice. At age 4 my son would try all day to land the same trick. If he didn’t succeed, he would return the next day to try again. You don’t walk into a skatepark and drop into a ramp the very first time. You have to fall. You have to pick yourself up. You have to figure out what you did wrong and correct the problem.

When Chris did finally land a trick he had attempted for days, the other skaters would cheer- not because he was doing something no one else could do- but because he achieved a personal best. Skateboarding teaches you to set personal goals and to cheer on those who achieve them. It doesn’t matter if you are landing a 720 over a 20-foot gap, or you are landing your very first kickflip. If you have tried to achieve something you set your mind to and practiced again and again- the skate community is there to cheer for you and congratulate you. People that skate together often are a team; they are a team of people working to achieve their personal best.

“How did he learn to skate like that?”
Skaters share secrets. Skaters teach each other. Skaters seem to only complete seriously with each other for money, and usually in a friendly manner. Ever watch a televised skating event? Notice how the people competing seem to know each other and cheer each other on? That’s because when big business isn’t involved in offering tons of money to these skaters to skate against each other, they are usually skating with each other. They were probably together at a backyard ramp or pool the week before the competition skating together.

In backyards across the neighborhood my son has developed an understanding of protocol, hierarchy. He shows respect for elders- and just people in general. You can’t just walk into someone’s backyard and drop into his or her pool or ramp. You have to be invited. You have to show respect. You don’t just assume you have a right to skate there. No one owes you anything. You have to earn the privilege to skate there by showing respect and waiting your turn. You have to be a good enough person for someone to invite you along in the first place.

In skateparks it’s a little more difficult- but the end result is usually the same. There are those parents who use the skateparks as “concrete babysitters”. Parents who drop their kids off at the park on their way to the manicurist or to go have a beer at the sports bar. These are the same parents who don’t want to do their volunteer work for the soccer league. The difference is that eventually the skate community will teach these kids how to behave. Even if the parents don’t want to watch their kids to cheer them on, the other skaters will, and eventually the kids will want to be accepted in the skating community. If they continue to have a bad attitude, they won’t have anyone to skate with. They won’t be invited to the backyard ramp, or they will be vibed out of the park.

I’ve been asked so often if I am afraid of him getting hurt. Of course I am. As a mother I am afraid every day for his safety. But I have to say; he has gotten hurt much more severely just walking off the back porch and not paying attention. When he’s skating he wears pads and a helmet and he has a deep mental focus on what he is doing. I believe it is safer than chasing a ball at high speed during an intense competition with no pads.

What about the older kids he is exposed to?
In team sports the kids are grouped together by similar age. I have to say that I’m not sure if competition among similarly aged kids is a good thing. When each kid is expected to conform to a group and vying for the coaches or parents attention, there can be a lot of bullying. In skating- the older kids are just happy to see a young kid getting excited about skating. I have been told more than once by these older kids that they wished they had a mom that supported their skating.
I tell them someday they will be better parents through skateboarding.

At schools where they are trying to find a way to have “sports” without competition- skateboarding is the answer. If we want to build confidence in our kids, and get them involved in a physical activity, we should have skating as an after school activity in our elementary schools. The best thing we can do for our community is build more skateparks.


Ridiculous Family Fun Day

The Promised land...Who would have known that it was only an hour and a half away? This right handed kidney pool is so good for skating, it's ridiculous- hence the name "The Ridiculous Pool" **

What's truly ridiculous is how Duke can grind the coping above the stairs-
Chris had no problem hitting tile-

But he was much more determined to master his air over the hip:

Here is our family- deep in Ridiculous- we are at home and quite comfortable here:

thanks to our buddies....

** I did NOT make either one of these you tube videos- I'm just NOT that clever.

To my Niece

Princess Bean-
You have a giant 20 foot golden aura. You glow and sparkle and hum. You are wise and old and inspired and young.
You are at a brilliant point in your life. The time where you can do such good in the world; devise a plan to make great impact. Unfortunately it happens around this time in a young lady's life they flounder- They involve themselves in the constant search for male attention, or seeking approval of other females in groups or cliques- or drugs.
The Damn Drugs....
Somehow, my dear Sabrina, I know you are going to forgo all those useless distractions and spend your time doing something amazing.
I believe in you. I feel your magic and you don't have to give it away or let anyone or anything chip it away.
If you have a brilliant idea to make millions- I'll invest. If you have a need to get away, I'll drive.
I have hope in the world when I see you. I have such excitement for you when I think of the wonderful life you have ahead of you. How wonderful my life would have been if I had your wisdom at your age.
Thank you for letting me know you, and for being my friend.
Uncle Karen

Let me explain

After learning that the soft feathery hairs on my back contained magical powers, I trimmed them and boiled a tea that I served to Jehovah's witnesses. Studies found that it increased their creativity 93% which had an alarming effect on the world around me. Soon, instead of bicycles, they arrived at my door riding hover skateboards, which only inspired my stunt man son to do more dangerous moves. My entire reality was at risk.

Never mind-
I will explain something easier to understand, like...
How it wasn't really the fact that I didn't have the designer jeans, but the idea that I wasn't worth them....

Another Friend Gone-

Painting by the Late Great Vikki Burton
Sunday I went with my friend Carol to attend Vikki Burtons funeral. I figured I wouldn’t cry- it had been at least 10 years since I saw Vikki. The day before the service I got emotional as I pulled some photos I took of Vikki out of my attic. I figured that I pretty much had my emotions in check . The room where they held the service was standing room only. I didn’t recognize anyone there. I figure I hadn’t seen Vikki in a while, and these are all the people who had to watch her struggle with her addiction. These are the people who tried to help her, and the people who got high with her. Her Mom didn’t attend the funeral- perhaps it’s easier for her to believe most of these people were the problem, not the solution.
A photo slide show was shown first. Many of the photos on that show I took. Watching it was when my face first started to pinch up and my eyes burned with tears. I felt guilty standing there- crying- while people who had spent time with her just last week were still keeping it together. Then I noticed a giant photo poster of Vikki where her coffin would be. At the time I took that photo of her, I wanted so badly to be like her. She was so tough. I was raw and vulnerable and open to pain and drama- Vikki was always so much stronger and cooler than me.
How do you raise a drug addict? How is someone in so much pain for most of their life- she struggled with this for over 20 years- How does it take control of them to the point where they just leave this world? To see the room full of people who loved her so much, you can’t imagine that there wasn’t enough here to keep her tethered to this earth. Her mom sent a note to be read and it spoke of how intelligent Vikki was, how creative she was, how strong she was. That was the Vikki I knew. So with everything going for her, why did she have to get high?
It stands to reason that she got loaded “for fun” then.
When it wasn’t fun anymore it was too late and she was hooked.
Too late for “just say no”.
The last time I saw Vikki she was a beautiful, vivacious, tough cookie who I admired so much. I took many many photos of her because she was so gorgeous! So, I had no warning, no getting accustomed to her killing herself slowly. I only remember the Vikki who I wanted to trade places with.
I heard from other people that seeing the loaded and struggling Vikki was awful. I got to photograph the best of Vikki. I got to know the Vikki that loved life; it saddens me to have to accept that she is gone.

So Goodbye my dear friend Vikki. Beautiful, capable, sweet, strong, fun Vikki who had the world at her feet. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you- I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed to be saved.
When I knew you- you didn’t need anything more- you were amazing all by yourself.

R.I.P. my friend Vikki

Farmers Market

I had to stop off at the Children's Place Store next to Farmers Market on Fairfax a few weeks ago. I called my friend Nancy who said "Make sure you go into the actual farmers market". Well, I try to live my life with the Motto W.W.N.D. (What would Nancy do?) so, Chris and I went in.
I've lived in L.A. for 40 years, I've never been to the farmers market as far as I can remember. The only thing sadder than that is my poor neglected son, already 9 years old, had never experienced Funnel Cake before!

Problem solved:

He loved it!
I liked the farmers market- anyplace that has marzipan pigs is alright by me....

Anyplace that has two different styles of Marzipan Pigs is my new favorite place!