Son-Shine

img_5376I am writing this from the magnificent hilly, enclave of La Jolla, California. It’s less than twenty-four hours since I received the late night urgent but sudued call for HELP from my eldest son who lives there.  After all, isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do? Drop everything and run to help their children even if they are twenty-two and a senior in college.

So after a fitful night’s sleep, a morning of calls to cancel and reschedule several appointments,  a rushed visit to my accountant to do my taxes, I pack a small bag, stop to fill up the tank, and get on my way for the short trek to San Diego.  But L.A. traffic being what it is, it took me almost two hours to go barely ten miles and the trip, which would take two hours, now took almost five hours.  After only going 10 miles in two hours I was so tempted to turn back, my already sore back was throbbing in pain from being in the same position and not being able to switch on cruise control.  It doesn’t quite work at less than five miles per hour. What a mother won’t do for her children!

While it may sound like I am not complaining mind you.  I am not.  I am actually over the moon as it’s really been a long time since my son reached out for my help.  That coupled with unusually quiet panic in his voice, not his usual holier than thou demands, signaled that this was really serious.

As most parents know, your relationship with your child will have many ups and downs and when there is a contentious divorce punctuating those milestones, that road is even rockier.  Our relationship, or lack thereof,  has been sorely tested over the past ten years.  Come to think about it, we haven’t spent more than a few hours together in a single day and barely ever  more than two days in a row, and now I was getting a chance to spend a few days, which in my time frame, is practically a lifetime.

My son always wanted to be a lawyer since he was a child.  I used to joke with him after the divorce and all the lawyer BS he witnessed, didn’t he think there was a better career path for him.  He would not be swayed.  Until last year.  Somehow, he decided to be a writer/filmmaker seemingly out of the blue.  Now I have been in the “biz” for a very long time, and he has certainly been around TV production, location shoots and post-production edit bays  his whole life, but it never seemed to interest him much.  It was my life.  My passion and thankfully I was very good at it and made a good living at it.  But for my boy to say he wanted to do something in that realm was quite astounding.  I guess I never thought of him as the creative type.  He was always the athletic type.  Sinewy and faster than lightning since he was five years old, he was blessed with the body and speed to make him a premiere soccer player which took him through college and was his passion above all else.

As parents we know about lost dreams and failures and missed opportunities.  As parents we try so much to shield our children from same or at least help cushion the blow or ease the pain of those experiences.  Well when my son found out he couldn’t play his last and supposedly best year of college soccer, I think a piece of him died.  I know I mourned the loss of his promise of great success from afar, wondering for him, what it would be like to have that one last final hurrah.  But it was not meant to be and as I believe life hands you the cards you are meant to play, I accepted my son’s fate begrudgingly, with a few tears and with the hope that what will not kill him will make him stronger.

Was it that defining moment of inertia, of accepting that his body wouldn’t do what his mind willed, that made him find his inner voice, his inner muse and allowed him to tap into his creative juices and abandon the life legal?  Whatever it was, it renewed his desire to learn and explore and filmmaking sparked him like a great kick made from 30 yards out.  But I didn’t know much more than he had changed his major.  Like most kids, explaining or details were not their strong suit and our phone calls were perfunctory exercises in formalities.  How are you? Fine.  How are your classes? Fine.  Do you have alot of work? Fine. Communicating with your child from teenager onward is a delicate artform of trying to decipher verbal hieroglyphics on a cave wall without light.  But with that Sunday phone call that was all about to change.

M.me & SonApparently my son was in the middle of a project for class and everyone who was helping him was flaking out – including the actor.  So he needed me to operate the camera while he acted out the rest of his scenario for the five minute project that was already half shot. He obviously could not shoot and act at the same time and he realized that…my boy was growing up!

The good news was by the time I got to San Diego, his actor had changed his mind and was available to shoot that night so my primary function was to help secure some supplies and cater a “crew” dinner for all which included his roommates.  After dinner we got down to business, and I was very conscious of not taking over the project and wanted to let my son do his thing.

To my surprise, he was quite aware of what he wanted to shoot, how he wanted to shoot it and, by george, he had vision for his project.  I wondered, who was that man who took the place of my boy.  The evening progressed and I was pleased to take his direction, hold a light, fix a make-shift “gel” of colored tissue paper, to suggest an angle shift here and there, and just let him do his thing.  Having never seen the footage already shot, I didn’t know where this was all going, but I trusted he knew and that’s all that mattered.  The shoot was over in a few hours and my son seemed happy with what he got.  But the proof would be in the pudding – how it all cut together and that would be the next step.  Before we went to sleep, he thanked me and told me I was the best “producer” he ever had.  Not one bit of praise in my 25 plus years of working ever meant more to me than that.  I was basking in son-shine.

I have probably spent thousands of hours in editing rooms but the best time I have ever had was watching my son in his “editing suite” work on his labor of love.  Slowly and surely he progressed scene by scene and I watched enraptured.  He’s really got talent.  This isn’t a fluke or some flight of fancy.  He really knows what he is doing.  Words cannot express how I felt watching him do his thing.  Like his first step or his first word, I witnessed the birth of my son’s creative soul.  It was truly a transcendental moment in time.  What’s more is that he let me in, he invited me in to be a part of this, a part of who he was becoming for the first time in a very long time.  It was my birthday and the editing went on for hours.  I knew what he was going through, weighing every edit like the entire piece depended on it.  Crafting bit by bit his vision, moving toward the perfect conclusion.  I watched and only offered suggestions when asked.  I held his hand with my heart as I watched him toil for hours and hours to make this project just right. God, he’s such a perfectionist, just like me! I smiled inside as years of rift and separation melted away with each edit and each hour.  Yes, he is like me and in a very good way!  My heart grew lighter as the years of lost time with him melted with this new moments of communion.

When he was done, it was much too late for dinner and a dreamy dessert (with a solitary candle on which to make a wish on) but I didn’t care. I had

already received the best birthday present money couldn’t buy – magical time spent with my son- bonding in the trenches, di

scovering our shared passion and sharing the joy of creation.  What a blessing!

P.S. He got a solid A on the project and after one student compared his work to his idol, Micheal Gondry, he said he almost cried.  When he told me this, I did.

Puppy Love

Marla & Babies

When I first decided to blog, I was sure that I would write something in it everyday.  After all, with the kids gone and lots of free time on my hands, I was hoping to fulfill a secret desire of mine to write a book.  What better way then to start with a blog. Friends who know me well (and love me alot)  accept that I always have an opinion about something, a useful tidbit of information to impart or some piece of perfect mom-wisdom when they need it.  In  short – I admit it – I love to express myself and with such an open platform as the entire world wide web, how could I not take advantage of this opportunity to have my own soapbox, let alone my own little piece of the blogosphere.  Pretty heady stuff!

So it was totally my intention was to write in my blog everyday, after all I bragged about having lots to say, but unfortunately like most New Year’s resolutions, I failed to keep this promise but with good reason – actually four good reasons!  Enter four spunky little boys named of Pax, Seamus, Marcus & Leo who were rescued off the streets of South L.A. by my dear friend Sheilah.  Sheilah is a true angel who has dedicated her life to rescuing endangered dogs and is the founder of the organization, MuttMatchLA (http://www.muttmatchla.com) and when she needs a foster home for her latest rescues, she  knows that a call to me is rarely turned down. Why? Because I have become a sucker for puppy love.

It wasn’t always like that for me.  In fact, I was terrified of dogs until my teens.  When I was about five years old, I was badly bitten by my babysitter’s dog as she bent down to tie my shoelaces.  They told me her poodle apparently thought I was attacking her.  The scar on my thigh healed but the one on my psyche took  much longer.  I used to say that I would rather have had my teeth pulled without novocaine than go anywhere near even the tiniest of pups.

At the age of thirteen, my best friend’s mother got fed up locking their dog away every time I slept over, which was pretty often, so she told me it was either befriend their dog or no more sleepovers. Well, the thought of losing sleepover privileges forced “my hand.”  The next time I showed up at their door, I stood behind it in sheer horror of the fate that lie behind it…Cujo incarnate except her name was Cocoa.  The door would open and all I could see were teeth chomping – surrounded by fur.  Cocoa’s bark was deafening and somehow I was pulled inside the house while their beloved pooch continued to bark and jump on me.   Miraculously, once safely ensconced in my girlfriend’s room, the barking stopped and I knew I was safe.  After a few more times, this became routine,  my terror abated as did my fear of all dogs.

And today, family and friends who know about this childhood episode are amazed by my newfound passion and  devotion to these four legged creatures as well as my growing expertise in handling them. For that I have to thank Sheilah Aragon who came into my life just over a year ago.  Who knew that a chance email encounter would change my life forever.

Sheilah & Pax

The timing couldn’t be more perfect.  One son was totally out of my house as he is  a senior at UC San Diego and the other son, a teenager who’d rather be anywhere but at mom’s.  My “empty nest” was silent and empty and shouting out to be filled with the pitter-patter of little feet.  Little did I know that soon my house would be filled with the thump-thump of four footed furry ones. As serendipity and timing would have it, Sheilah was desperately seeking a foster home for a litter of pups and had put out an e-mail blast which made it’s way to me.   It was truly love at first sight when I saw the photos of these five new babies and their mama, and without a second thought, I immediately made the call to open my heart and my home to these homeless and potentially doomed creatures.  (City and county shelters are way overcrowded and dogs are put down if they cannot be adopted after a certain time period)

As they say ignorance is bliss and I didn’t really know what I was getting into that first time I became a foster of a  litter of five plus their mom, plus my two.  It was, indeed, an awful lot of dog to handle for a newbie, but perhaps it was the not knowing how difficult a task it would be allowed me to face each day and conquer any fears or challenges my big brood presented me. The two months those babies stayed with me were a magical time, watching them grow and develop, just as I watched my two sons grow and develop, gave me a tremendous sense of purpose and accomplishment.  Most of all, I was so proud to have a part in saving these babies from possible extinction.
With that first experience under my belt, the next time Sheilah asked me to be a foster, I only had to take in one dog – boy was that easy but no less fulfilling.  So, over the past year,  several more dogs have come to live with me and all have gone on to wonderful forever homes, except for a cute older dude by the name of Billy Jack.  He’s kind of a loner who tolerates all the puppyness around him. He’s content to take a walk, eat & sleep, and is really an easy to take care of and most times I hardly know he’s around.  I am hoping to find an older couple who want a carefree kinda guy – he would be perfect in that situation and  I know his perfect home is out there too!

Sheilah & My Brood

So my home is filled with  Pax, Seamus, Marcus and Leo – my little Sharpei/Pitbull/Beagles-wannabes- who knows exactly what their parentage is but it doesn’t matter, they have amazing personalities, are truly adorable, ar full of spunk and are four really good reasons why I haven’t written in my blog until now…well, then again that’s not entirely true.  A few days ago, Sheilah called me and by the tone of her voice I knew it was another call to muster up some room at my home and my heart for puppy love and two more babies have joined my brood.

So now there are my foster babies Bella, Bailey, Pax, Seamus, Marcus and Leo and Billy Jack, and my forever babies Roxy, Mimi and Lulu, ten excellent reasons why I may not be writing as often as I would like, but ten very special reasons why my heart is overflowing with a whole lotta puppy love.

(If you are interested in learning more about the great work of MuttMatchLA, or if you know anyone who wants to adopt one of our rescues, or make a donation toward their care, please email Sheilah at muttmatchla@aol.com or visit the website: http://www.muttmatchla.com.)

Welcome to Life After Kids

a528814749_389745_3621I can’t believe I haven’t started a blog before now because as most of my friends know, I always have something to say about everything!  I am looking forward to sharing my insights, my mistakes and my accomplishments as a woman with children and hopefully show you that life doesn’t stop when you have kids and how it begins again after they leave home.

So, welcome to my little piece of the blogsphere and I hope you will enjoy taking this journey with me and I invite you to share your comments and thoughts with me and I hope I can make your day just a little bit brighter.  And of course, please share my site with your family and friends♥.