Why I would suck as a full-time mom

I think it’s healthy – proof of a well-adjusted adult, honestly – when someone recognizes and makes peace with their personal weaknesses.

I used to get all bent out of shape, for instance, when I occasionally went bowling with friends, hit a few pins, and then rolled a succession of gutter balls. I’d curse and chastise myself, and get angry and grumpy. As a competitive person who’s used to figuring out how to do things well, I felt embarrassed by my pathetic performance.

But thankfully, while once teetering on the brink of another bowling funk, I asked myself, Who cares about whether or not I’m good at bowling? I only do it about once a year or so, and my friends don’t care. Plus, I’ve never had anyone teach me how to bowl. So how and why would I expect myself to do it well?

And just like that, I embraced the fact that I suck at bowling. But more recently, I’m thinking that I’ll have to do the same regarding my potential as a stay-at-home mom. Not that I’m entertaining the idea of making this move, or daydreaming about it  – far from it – but because Lily’s daycare center closes up from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, I’ve lately been confronted by my shortcomings in this arena. Continue reading

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Bad journalist, or neurotic/good mom? Both?

Recently, because of my job at AnnArbor.com, I got an amazing opportunity: I spent an afternoon on the set of the feature film “Cedar Rapids,” which was in the last few days of filming in the area. The film stars Ed Helms, Anne Heche, John C. Reilly and Kurtwood Smith (Red from “That ’70s Show”), all of whom were involved in that day’s shoot.

Being a fan of Helms, both from “The Daily Show” and “The Office,” and Reilly, who’s just an terrific actor all-around, it was exciting to stand a few feet from them as they rehearsed, then filmed, a scene around a hotel’s indoor pool.

Normally, when a film with big-name stars comes to town (thanks to Michigan’s aggressive tax incentives, this happens often nowadays), here’s how things go: if I’m lucky, I get the name of a publicist, and often, they blow me off. But recently, I’ve been really fortunate. David Schwimmer, in town to direct “Trust,” held a press conference and let us see a couple of sets for the film; and the publicist for “Cedar Rapids” was the most helpful, friendly, and facilitating one I’ve dealt with yet.

I’d arrived at the Clarion Hotel, where the “Cedar Rapids” crew was shooting, and Jeremy, the publicist, let me watch what was happening throughout the afternoon while introducing me to a locally-hired actor; Kurtwood Smith; the costume designer (who also worked on “500 Days of Summer” and was fabulously fun to chat with); a producer, Jim Burke; and the director, Miguel Arteta.

At that point, it was nearly 5:30 p.m., and I told Jeremy that I needed to go. I’d been at the site for about four hours, and normally, I wouldn’t even have been able to stay that long, since I usually pick up Lily from daycare at around 4:30 or 5 p.m. But Joe had scheduled a pediatrician appointment (to get her second swine flu shot) late that day, so I figured I’d already stolen an extra 90 minutes from that.

But then Jeremy said, “Oh, you have to go? I was hoping to sit you down with some of the other actors.”

Oh, crap, I thought. I’d LOVE to get the chance to talk to these movie stars, and the bigger the stars, the more Internet traffic my piece would be likely to get. But it sounded like it would be a while yet before such an interview could take place, and it wasn’t a sure thing, so in the end, I told Jeremy, “I’d really, really like to, but I need to get home to my little girl.” Continue reading

Getting into my genes

Today, before work, I stopped by the University of Michigan Hospital to have blood drawn for genetic testing – specifically, for the nefarious BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations they’ve identified as substantially increasing a person’s risk for breast cancer.

The process itself is so mundane as to seem anti-climactic. I mean, here I am, taking a huge step toward knowledge that has the potential to change a great deal in my life, yet I just smiled at the kindly U-M parking attendant (who I’ve come to like in my few previous visits) and confirmed that I had an appointment; I took the elevator two floors up to the first floor, wondering again why the first floor isn’t the ground floor; I was led back to an exam room, by a chatty woman named Kara, where I read and signed a consent form; I met another woman who wrapped a tourniquet tight around my left upper arm and flicked the skin on the inside of my elbow for quite some time (which is typical) before I felt the quick bite of a needle and watched my dark blood flow quickly through a line and into a test tube.

And that was pretty much it. Kara explained that she would send out my blood sample later today, because she wouldn’t want it to freeze before it got picked up; and she told me that though it normally takes two weeks to get results, it might take longer just now because of the holidays. Which I expected. Continue reading