When I was 16 years old I was in High school but secretly living on my boyfriend's boat. I say secretly because I had to hide it from his parents, because they did not have a "live aboard" slip permit and they didn't really want to "Harbor a runaway" anyway. I had to hide it from my school because as far as I knew if they found out I would be kicked out; that happened to me when I was 14 and ran away from home and still tried to attend school. I had to hide it from my parents because if they knew I had a place to stay, they'd blow it for me, so that it wasn't so "easy" for me to be out on my own away from them. So- I lived on a boat several miles away from my school and I would get up every morning and roller skate to school. My first class was Volleyball during "zero period" at 7 am. so I had to get up very early to get to school. I was always warmed up and ready for Volleyball, while all the other kids were whining about how tired they were and how cold the gym was, I was relieved to be indoors- out of the fog- in the light.

I was in an honors English class, and I only mention it was honors, because I am trying to talk of determination and motivation and integrity and responsibility and I believe that having made it to honors English when my home life obviously sucked so bad is a testament to those traits. I loved that class and the teacher; Mrs. Wickstrom, because we got to do a lot of creative writing and that was an amazing outlet for me. From reading my papers, Mrs. Wickstrom could glean that I did not have a typical home life, but she never let on and would just encourage me to continue writing. I always got A's on the content part of my page, and B's on the execution. This was back in the day when there was no computerised spell check and I didn't have a parent's help or even a dictionary on the boat. I know so little about writing now, I am surprised I got B's in that category. (Maybe she liked me and was just going easy on me.)

One day I got to the boat and did my homework then fell to sleep especially early- leaving my backpack and roller skates on the floor. I woke up to discover the floor of the boat had inches of rainwater- and my skates and backpack were in that water. My school papers were in my backpack, and therefore also wet. All the clothes I owned were either in that backpack, or in my locker at school, so the only solution was to put on my wet skates and get to school early so I could change into a different outfit then the one I was wearing. High school kids and teachers notice if you wear the same thing two days in a row and it's a sure tip-off that you are not living with dear old Mom and Dad.

Wet homework is another sure tip off, and I had an English paper that was very wet and damaged and I certainly couldn't turn it in like that. I went to the public restrooms at the top of the dock and unrolled about 3 feet of paper towel and took it down to the boat. I copied my barely legible wet story onto the paper towel and rolled that up into my backpack, put on my wet skates and headed off to school.

Roller-skating in the rain is not as bad as you might think. Once you commit to it, it's actually fun. Visually, when you skate in the rain, it's like driving in the snow- you can see the drops coming down but you are skating towards them, it all seems to look like it's coming at an angle- so it looks like you are skating into a tunnel. Once you surrender to the fact that you are going to be wet when your skate is over, it's not as cold as you may think- as your clothes get wetter, your body is getting warmer from the skate, so that kind of cancels each other out and you are just about the temperature you started with. Skating on wet pavement just makes you go faster than usual and creates a super sound effect like an amplified whoosh whoosh that makes you feel like you are skating even faster still.

When I got to school I had dry sweat pants and tennis shoes waiting for me in my gym locker. I was so grateful to be at school and it was such a safe haven for me that listening to the other kids complain really started to annoy me. I would often reply to their whining with comments like "If school is too hard for you then why don't you move out of Mommy and Daddy's palace and get a job!" My ability to keep my "situation" under wraps was waning. And now, I had an English paper written on a paper towel.

I showed up for English class a few moments early and told Mrs. Wickstrom that I did my homework, but it had gotten rain damaged and would she please allow me to fix it? I planned to borrow some paper from a friend, copy it onto dry paper and hand it in by the end of the day. I showed her my paper towel assignment so that she would know that I wasn't trying to get away with anything. She told me it was okay, and that this once I could just turn it in on a paper towel and she would grade it like a "normal" paper. I apologized and folded it neatly on her desk so that no one would know it was my homework. As I turned around, to my horror, a boy who sat in front of me had seen, I knew I had been caught.

I sat down and tried to play it off.  As class filled up he was shielded in the anonymity of the class, he began to tease me for bringing my homework in on a paper towel. I was so mad that I got caught. I was so mad that the teacher was gonna cut me some slack but one of my peers would not. I was so mad that I just couldn't control myself and ignore his comments. I jumped up and yelled at him- for the entire class to hear; "I bet you have a solid oak desk at your house, with piles of multi-colored paper and pens and pencils falling out of the drawers! I bet every day when you get home, your Mommy has home made cookies and ice cold milk in a frosted glass that she serves you, and I bet- even with all that help, you still didn't do the assignment, and I did it on a PAPER TOWEL!" Like you would expect a bully to do in a situation like that- he just sat there- shocked that I would stand up to him at all, or draw the rest of the class' attention to the fact that I DID MY HOMEWORK ON A PAPER TOWEL.

In front of the whole class and the teacher too- I challenged him loud and clear to a duel; I bet, on the very next assignment, I would get a better grade than him. I bet him 5 bucks that even though he had everything he needed to succeed, and I had no resources available to me at all, I bet him that I could get a better grade than him. He shook my hand and I sat down, and Mrs Wickstrom was so bewildered and amused by what just happened that she chose to ignore the whole thing and just started in on the regular lesson.

It was a few days before the next assignment grades came out, and I imagine this boy forgot all about the bet. He had to because otherwise wouldn't he have worked extra hard to get the very best grade possible? When the papers came around with all the red pen marks- I asked him what grade he got. The class got quiet. I raised my voice; "I got an A in content and an A in execution- what did you get?" He shows me his paper, and I had the better grade. "Pay up" I demanded as I put my hand out to him. "NO!" he replied. "I'm not giving you anything!" I couldn't believe it. I was so mad, I felt taken advantage of somehow- I lost my temper and jumped out of my desk and brought my fists down on his back- cursing at him. He was cursing back. It was just a flash of insanity- I think they call it a "crime of passion" I had already re-gained my senses by the time Mrs. Wickstrom yelled at us. She sent us both to the principal's office. As we walked across campus we talked- He didn't really care about the 5.00 or his grades.  I was more worried about being kicked out of school than I was mad at him. We went from fist fighting to allies- trying to figure out how to get into the least amount of trouble at the principals office.

The principal wasn't there- only the school counselors. Back then there were many counselors employed by the school, and "your" counselor was assigned by your last name. For instance-all students with the last name starting with A-F got to go talk to "Mr Smith" if they needed something. Usually this was for planning what classes to take, more than talking about trouble at home. I remember my boyfriend always saying that Mr. Schneider was awesome,but he wasn't assigned to my last name, so I never went to see him.

Well, this time only Mr. Schneider was there, so we had to go to him instead of the principal. After the boy explained that he had reacted in self defense- he was excused from the office and Mr. Schneider said he was going to have to call my parents. I told him he would have to call my boyfriend, since I was living on his boat, but that my boyfriend always spoke highly of him and perhaps he could help me out. We talked for at least an hour- I explained that I had not lived with my parents for months, but that I wanted to continue in school and get my diploma to spite them- in spite of them. I guess he was moved because he didn't call my parents, and he gave me special tickets so that I could get a free breakfast every morning after zero period and before first period. Now I had food and an adult on my side who would keep my secret.

I don't know why I had such determination to complete High school. Perhaps it was because I had already had several jobs by the age of 16 so I knew that if I didn't get an education, I would be doing the same thing forever. Perhaps because school was so much easier than working at the burger stand till midnight. I didn't see any reason to NOT succeed in school. Perhaps I did it because I felt alienated from all the kids at the school.  They seemed to have such an easier life yet they complained about it. I wanted to finish school so I could be away from them, at least enter the "Next world" on a level playing field with them. I couldn't stand the thought of them being superior to me forever. I know I did it because my parents thought I couldn't and wouldn't. That was certain. But I had so many opportunities to give up- perfectly good reasons to just say "Oh my skates are wet, I'm not going to school today". It's not like I would have been in trouble with my parents. They were not there to drag my ass out of bed and drive me to school. By my senior year, many of the kids who had their parents driving them didn't get their diploma.

I don't know how to teach determination. I don't know how to help my child have it. I don't know how. School was easy for me- you show up, you do the work, you get the grade. It's like work- you know what is expected and you just do it. Parenting is so much more difficult, and so much more important. You can always get a different job or re-take a class or re-do an assignment. But every little mistake you make with your child is a black spot on their perfectly sunny light. I need help to teach my son the values and morals that have helped me be okay- in spite of my homework being wet. I had that within me before my parents kicked me out. I had that by the time I was 16. How did they teach it to me? Where did I learn it? I am now determined to be the best mom possible, but I don't know how to do it- and I fear determination alone isn't enough.

Thank You

Thanks to all who commented on my last blog entry. The support and love that came my way during that sadness pulled me out of the darkness quickly. I usually drag that gloom along for much longer. I am grateful to have such love and support and understanding from so many. Kind words and hugs mean so much to me.
I want to share with everyone something else that meant so much to me; a gift. A surprise gift from my friend Jerome T. A super cool guy with a super cool business: Picture My Pet
I was at our mutual friend's studio and our friend said "Oh yea, Jerome made that for you" and kinda shrugged over towards a plastic bag. When I opened it up, there was this awesome little miracle for me, the most thoughtful of gifts! Jerome Rocks and I just wanted to take a moment to tell you all that he made this shirt for me:

It made me cry. But in a happy, happy way. Words fail me. I wish I knew how to tell you all what a wonderful gift this was. It was so unexpected. I guess, if you read my last blog, you would have a pretty good idea.

So, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone! And thanks to Jerome for the lovely shirt. If anyone can use his awesome services over the holidays- Click here to check out his awesome printing services you can give someone a shirt that might make them cry. In a good way.

"It's only stuff"

These are my Grandma's Ladles. Circa 1950? They have that awesome vintage design on them-perhaps it's called a mid-century-modern Atomic Starburst? In my home we refer to that star-like shape as "dings". The sound effect from a commercial when your floor would sparkle after using a special product advertised. Back when it was still okay for a woman to feel accomplished if you made your floor sparkle.

The designs back then were "futuristic" or what was imagined the future would look like. Think- 'Jetsons' and hover cars. In that era, there was a general feeling of promise and hope for the future. There was pride for a job well done, and hard work was respectable; not something you suffered through if you weren't wealthy or smart enough to hire someone else to do it for you.

My Grandmother was a hard working woman. She had jobs in factories and cleaning hotels and also quite often when the money would allow; she got to be "just" a Mother and Wife and Homemaker. She was an amazing cook and seamstress. She taught my Mom how to sew and also tried (unsuccessfully) to teach me. My Mother died before my Grandmother. The greatest gift I ever gave my Grandmother was my son because he was her living proof that her legacy would live on. He was that part of her, that part of her daughter, to continue on in the world.

So- when Grandma died, I couldn't keep all her furniture, all her stuff, because I already had all my Mom's stuff. I kept Grandma's photos and I kept her ladles, and the coffee pot with the 'dings', and her dishes. I didn't have room for much more than that. I have so many things.....

I know that these are just things- that the things don't actually contain the memories. I know that the memories are still there if the things are gone. But in the same way you can hug your Mom or Grandma to make yourself feel good and safe- I only get to hold these things. So I want to always have them. And I want to give these things to my son so he can hold these things.

Eventually the idea came to me to have these 'dings' on my body- near me, like a hug, but forever. I knew exactly where I wanted them, and how they would look on me and how it would feel to have them placed on me. I was ready to get the tattoo with the only exception being that I didn't have any discretionary income to buy a tattoo. I knew when I got some "extra" money, what I would do with it.

I sometimes work in a big building with individual private offices and at the end of each floor are two bathrooms. Early in the morning, as I walked into the women's bathroom, I found a hundred dollar bill on the floor. I picked it up and checked to see that it was real. I checked each stall and there was no one else in the bathroom. I walked the entire floor and there was not a single person in any office. I walked back to my office and wrote a note- "If you lost something in this bathroom, please call to identify and I will be happy to return it". I taped the sign to the bathroom door and waited all day for a call that never came. When I got off work I called my tattoo artist and said "I found a hundred dollar bill on the bathroom floor- do you want it?"

I love this tattoo so much. I think it is pretty and very fitting for the area and I love that it is my ladle tattoo that I found on the bathroom floor. I know my Grandma and Mom didn't share my love of tattoos, but I feel that somehow they gifted this tattoo to me anyway.
I still love having the ladles- and the other "stuff" that I can hold in my hands and pass on to my son. I hope to raise him to be the kind of person who knows his history and values hard work and taking care of irreplaceable things.

We are moving now, into the first home that we own as a family. I have been packing and sorting and letting go of a lot of 'things'-because I can't take it all with me and I don't want to be a hoarder, or pack rat. We have been in our rented house for 8 years and have acquired a lot of stuff. But there are still so many things that I don't want to get rid of. Like the ladles. And the dishes. I decided to quit waiting "till I grow up" to use Grandma's dishes. After all, I am 42 years old and I would derive so much pleasure from seeing and touching her things every day. So I pulled the dishes out of the attic to assess what I had and prepare them to take to our new home.
When I picked up the box it rattled like an evil maraca. When I opened the box, this is what I found:
The sadness that came over me was so overwhelming. I know, they are just things. I know it shouldn't matter. Yet, I feel so sad. Adding to this sadness is the fact that TODAY is my Mother's birthday, and I can't buy her a cake or give her a hug. I can't eat from her mother's plates. Almost the entire set is broken- completely broke and damaged beyond repair. Even looking at that photo makes me feel like I have been punched in the stomach. So- I have been crying on and off, over some stupid "stuff". Silly, right? I still have the memory of my Grandma- what I don't have is the idea that these things of hers were safe in my attic and there for me some day when I was grown up and ready to use them. So my advice to anyone who will listen, is: DON'T STORE THIS STUFF! Use your nice things and hold your loved ones close and hold their things often. I would have rather used these for years and eventually accidentally broken each one, than to have found them all as a broken pile of dishes to use when I grow up and deserve nice things.
And now I am consumed with this idea that I should ignore all my moving and packing obligations, and forget my financial responsibilities and go get this pattern from one of the few unbroken dishes tattooed on my body. After all, what better day than today- since it is my Mother's birthday.
I hope as I get older, I continue to have things of beauty all around me, things I can pass on to my kids. Things they will hold and enjoy and most of all- use daily. Things that will be helpful to them, not just to be packed and stored and eventually broken beyond repair.

Perhaps as the rest of this day unfolds, I will miraculously find tattoo money on the ground.

Sorry Grandma.
Happy Birthday Mom.

Baby Baby, please let me hold you. I wanna make him stay up all night.

This is little Ryder Layne.

Feet and non-knuckles


Eyelashes like curtains.


I have always loved Halloween. When I was young, all my costumes were "home made" - a clown, a hobo, a witch. Back then you could buy a costume in a box- like at K-Mart and it would have some weird mask with a string on the back and some thin nylon outfit that you would wear over your regular clothes. But, in my family, we always made our costumes, so I was always envious of the kids who got those store bought boxes:

Now I'm older and I think back to how amazing my costumes were that my parents would create after I imagined them. My Dad would build race cars out of boxes or my Mom would sew a dress and make me a tin foil crown to go with my cardboard and glitter wings.
My son Chris has had nothing but store bought costumes ever since he was old enough to say NINJA! First he needed to be an all black ninja, then a black and red ninja... I loved how he would move around the house all ninja-like once he put the costume on. I loved that it made him feel so special and his imagination was so vivid. I wanted to create the costume from "scratch" but he needed to be like the other kids, he needed to be the ninja he saw in the store, on the mailers that came to the house, Halloween has always been a blast, but secretly inside me, I wished just once that during the school costume parade, he was not one out of many ninjas- I wished he had the experience of building his own costume, figuring out how to create something of his own.
So this year, I asked him what he wanted to be for Halloween and he said "a NERD". I asked if he saw a picture of a nerd somewhere or an ad for a costume and he said no, he wanted to make it himself.
Oh yippee! Hurray!
He had it all planned out in his mind, and we went to several thrift stores to get the goods. I can't sew, so my friend Vania helped with the hemming and dork-ifying of the pants. She also fixed the suspenders so he could keep his pants up super high. Another friend helped by locating and ordering bow ties and pocket protectors because I wasn't having any luck finding these things at thrift shops or office supply stores. It takes a village to raise a child they say, and it took a village to help me help my son make his costume. Thanks Ladies!
Chris was the only nerd that looked like him at the school parade today. I was happy for him and he was super proud of his outfit. I got teary eyed because this will be my last elementary school costume parade I have a family member in until I have grandchildren. I was also a bit teary eyed because I was reminded of my costumes as a child, and how they were always different than everyone else and how that made me feel uncomfortable. I cried becasue my son felt special and unique because he was different than anyone else.
Happy Halloween everyone!

The cutest dork I've ever seen.

Pennance or Funism participation?

I guess I felt guilty for laughing at "the people of wall mart" website and emails that have been coming around. Maybe I just saw an opportunity to participate in some Funism? Perhaps my friend and I were just waxing nostalgic for when we were in our 20's and we would dress up to go do our laundry?

No matter the inspiration- we went in full "OMG" "WTF?" costumes to Wall Mart to see if we could make it on the website. We have submitted our photos but haven't made it yet, so I thought I'd just share our attempt with the blog world for now.

Do something FUN today-

Chalk Can't Hurt You

I love chalk art. I have worked in this medium for years- sometimes going to the beach after midnight to create covert chalk murals for the people. I also lived for years on a busy street, with a big blank wall between my home and the traffic- this wall was my canvas. The police would occasionally come by, but then leave me alone when they found out I lived there and it was only chalk. (I eventually wrote "It's only chalk" so that people who drove by would not be afraid or offended) My neighbors would leave chalk on my doorstep, so I knew they approved.
I try to never write political or religious statements, only positive, colorful statements to keep with my idea of "FUNism". I often steal slogans, but I think I read a quote by Pablo Picasso that said "immature artists borrow, mature artists steal" so- that's my excuse. The art is mine, the words aren't always, and I hope if I wasn't able to "steal" the words, that I at least made them worthy of being borrowed.

The last day of school

Yesterday (Wednesday) was the last day of school for Chris, so naturally, on Tuesday night we went by the schoolyard and scattered more "crystals" as well as a dozen bouncy balls on the schoolyard.

I must say that I experience sheer joy as I throw all those colorful glass treasures over the fence. Chris and I laugh as we feel like secret fairies scattering pixie dust across the grass. I feel an even deeper sense of satisfaction, when on the afternoon of the last day of school I get an email from one of the teachers that says:

I wanted to let you know a little boy from our class found a crystal on the grass at lunch. It couldn't have happened to a better kid, as he has a tough time at home AND at school. I told him it was his lucky day and it must mean he is going to have a wonderful summer. I wish you could have seen the expression on his face... total excitement!

Hurray for us!


Mermaid tagging is not a competitive sport, but if it was, my friend Kacie would be the winner.
Having just introduced her to the concept of toy tagging last night, she caught on quickly, and managed to place this pink mermaid on our friend's shirt- without our friend even knowing!
I took a photo with my phone before someone told her she had a mermaid hanging from her blouse.
Way to go Kacie!

Mundane errands in my day are just more fun when I am leaving tiny treasures everywhere. The local grocery store is full of mermaids and no one knows- Chris and I look up at the places where we put them days before to see that they are still there! Eventually, when the employees do some dusting or re-organizing, they will find the meantime, Chris and I giggle every time we shop, and leave more mermaids.

Shiney Happy Mermaids everywhere.

We have been having fun leaving secret mermaids wherever we go. They are in the streets of Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Hollywood and Los Angeles.
Mermaid on a bumper- This is the car that belongs to my old boss from a restaurant I worked at.
Mermaids swimming about the streets of Hollywood:
See the orange speck in the ivy that is growing on the light pole:
it's a mermaid:

The perk that is Chris

Being Chris' Mommy comes with a lot of perks, like long hugs, and snuggling. I also love getting to hear about his dreams in the morning and his impression of the day's events as he gets tucked into bed.

Chris is also very wise and tells me things like: "Teach me slow, so I can learn fast". A quote I should have trademarked...

There are also perks that make my life more convenient, like when he tells me people's names when I forget (which is more and more often these days).

My son makes me proud every day, and amazed and motivated and overwhelmed and inspired and joyful and.. well, there are just so many perks .

Well, today, there was a different perk- a monkey perk.

Today Chris had a photo shoot for Post cereal. For something to do with "Night at the Museum" which then led us to the pleasure of meeting Crystal the Monkey- who stars in that movie.

Chris spent the day in a Hollywood photo studio with an amazing photographer named Dani Brubaker. The four boys enjoyed working with her and had a lot of fun on the 7 hour shoot, and it's pretty darn hard to keep four boys concentrating on anything for that long!
The trainer, Tom, was such a nice guy and let all the kids have Crystal on their shoulder and even let me video tape as she did her famous Monkey Slap on Chris. When Crystal wasn't having her photo taken with the boys, I follwed her and her trainer around asking questions and playing with her- she really seemed to like my phone and I loved looking and her cute tiny leathery hands.

Thanks Chris, for being such a special guy! And thanks for the special day! As charming as little crystal is, Chris is still my favorite monkey.

And, in case you are wondering; there are now at least a dozen little plastic mermaids living on the streets of Hollywood!

Random acts of Fluffy-ness!

We went down to the school again to leave more "Shiney things" or "Crystals", as I've been told the younger students call them. We decided to add a little fluff to the event by tossing in a few tiny chicks.

I had a feeling that the chicks would be too light and fluffy to toss over the fence, so in true Dennis the Menace fashion, I brought along my son's slingshot. This just sent the chicks high into the air and back down at us, which made us all laugh. Dad eventually had to hop the fence and run around the schoolyard depositing fluffy chicks into blank spots in the grass. I'm glad school is almost out for summer, so I can spend my days with my son, but we will miss leaving treats on the school yard .

The last 3 mermaids (for now)

Mermaid on surfter statue in Hermosa Beach:

Mermaid on a friend's car window:

Mermaid on the coffee bean stairs:

Now, I am out of mermaids. We'll see what comes up next VDub.....

Little Shiney Things

Chris loves little shiney things and has a bunch of them.
Sometimes we need to share them with the world so we put some in a bag
and take them to the schoolyard and throw them on the grass.
When the children go to school the next day, they find them as they play on the grass, and pretty soon it's like a glass easter egg hunt for them during recess. I like to drive by and watch all the kids get excited as they find shiney little things on the lawn.
I love the acts of kindness that are random and shiney!

Plastic Mermaids and Pastrami

Saturday we went to Culver City Skate park for an afternoon session, then couldn't resist going to Johnnie's Pastrami for lunch, since they are the BEST!

I brought the mermaids with me for tagging- Culver City needs mermaids too after all!
I placed one in the star Jasmine plant:
One on the light cord:

Then I got an onion ring shaped like the universal sign for "NO!" It must be a sign from the greasy spoon gods-
So I decided it was time to stop mermaid tagging the restaurant:

Magical Mermaids

I have been leaving little mermaids all over town. There is one next to the light in the bathroom of my favorite coffee shop:

Today I was at my favorite coffee shop hang out and one of my "little friends" came with her Mom and Dad. I had plastic mermaids in my purse. Every time my little friend would leave her seat to go inside for something, I would place another toy on her chair. We began to think the chair was magic and my little friend was quite excited at that prospect.
I like that 4 out of 5 of her fingers have Hello Kitty band aids on them. Super cute. That alone must make her magical!