Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blackberry Meltdown

My BlackBerry has officially experienced a meltdown. I managed to abuse it so much over the last six months that the thing just went completely haywire. Of course, it malfunctioned during the worst possible time – just when I was coordinating a huge red carpet event with several big name celebrities and producers who kept firing off emails to me about their flights and hotels but all I could do was frantically press buttons that were malfunctioning like R2D2 in the first Star Wars movie.
To be completely candid, I feel like an addict who is suffering from withdrawal. That red light is flashing incessantly, almost mocking me to grab it and try to access my messages. And so I give it a whirl, and the thing starts having a mind of its own – picking websites I don’t want to visit or attempting to send messages to people I don’t need to reach or want to contact at all. I can’t imagine what I could have done to break the damn thing. It’s still fairly new, but since the time I brought it home, I’ve used it to access my work email plus three personal email accounts, websites, directions, the occasional phone call – heck if it could dispense money, I’d be plugging in my ATM password too.
I never realized that this addiction to technology would become so destructive. While on business these last few days, I’d sit at a lunch or a dinner while those with working BlackBerries typed away effortlessly, their thumbs gliding across the keys, out of touch with the world around them because they were too preoccupied sending a message to someone who was several thousand miles away.
My husband always gets annoyed with me when I’m trying to return a quick message while I’m out at dinner with him and the kids. I never really understood what the issue was until I was kicked out of the BlackBerry clique this week. As I stared longingly at that red flashing light, I began to discover that legions of PDA users are completely detached and distracted from the real world. As a multi-tasker, I never thought that my BlackBerry use was detracting from my life, but you know what, it is.
I’ve been known to cross city streets while responding to an email and narrowly escaped injury from a bike messenger who swerved to avoid knocking me over. While in my car, I’ve glanced over at the red light and have been tempted to access my emails while waiting at a stop light, and I’ve even noticed the message waiting indicator in the middle of the night while I was charging my PDA and I’ve contemplated reaching for it at 3 in the morning just to see who was trying to get in touch with me.
Here’s the deal though – I am not a brain surgeon. Or a lawyer, or an accountant, or a police detective for that matter. I am a publicist – who is always connected to her office and a demanding legion of people who sometimes work my last nerve – especially when I’m coordinating a massive press trip for several actors and actresses and am attempting to travel all of them to a city and they keep changing their minds about their flights. In that situation, my BlackBerry is a necessary appendage, so when it started having its own technological meltdown this week, I started losing it too. Thankfully, I managed to get everyone what they needed…even without the help of my BlackBerry…imagine that?
Now that I’m finally back home and about to enjoy the official start of summer, I’m still in possession of my broken BlackBerry and haven’t done a thing about it. Why, do you ask? Well, I’m actually contemplating taking a break from it and quitting my addiction…at least for a short while. No more message returning while dining with my family, bike riding (which is kind of difficult to do when you’re trying to steer without hands) or out and about running errands. So let’s all take a break from the insanity. It’s time to kick back and enjoy the summer and perhaps, instead of sending messages from a BlackBerry, maybe I’ll go out and pick some with my kids.
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Saturday, May 19, 2007


I don’t know what it is about me and the word “yes.” Somebody asks me to do something and rather than say, “You know, I’m a bit busy this month,” I smile and say, “Yes, of course, I can do it, no problem at all.” Sure. No problem if I didn’t have a job, a side business, a husband and two kids. With birthday parties to attend. And little league games to play. And ice skating recitals to perform in. Did I mention gymnastics, astronomy, cooking and tennis? Oh, and that dentist appointment I have to keep putting off because we don’t have time to get there since my daughter may miss a tennis lesson that I inadvertently scheduled before consulting with my mental calendar. Yes, I have a mental calendar. I do not write things down in a datebook, or a MomAgenda or in my Outlook express calendar or my BlackBerry for that matter. I keep all the dates right in my head. And lately, I’ve been off my game. It kind of feels like I’ve turned on the auto pilot switch in my brain and am now suffering from acute amnesia – like the time I wrote the wrong date on my son’s birthday invitation to one of his friends and the poor kid missed the shindig, or the other time one of the moms at pre-school told me that I signed her son’s birthday card: To Sam, Happy 5th Birthday, Your friend, Beth So this weekend, in my haste to get my kids to all their activities, I inadvertently remembered that I had committed myself to selling books and t-shirts at a crafts fair. It seemed simple enough. I was going to take my daughter with me while my husband took my son to a party and my little sales girl and I would man the table and hawk some wares. Wrong. We missed a minor addition to the schedule. Another birthday party. My daughter completely forgot she had a gymnastics extravaganza that afternoon so instead of accompanying me on an entrepreneurial adventure, at 10 am, we all hopped into the car and raced to Party City where we picked up a Darth Vader costume for my son (he was attending a Star Wars bash), hit Kaybee Toys for a gift for my daughter’s friend; had no time to wrap the gift so we bought tissue paper and a bag with a tiny card attached to it and this time I made sure to sign it “Love Becca.” We then hopped back in the car and went back to the house so I could get ready for my event and I “Jewish Star” promised I’d be back in time to watch my son’s baseball game. I also arranged for my daughter to get picked up by my friend, so everyone would get to where they wanted to go and my husband wouldn’t lose his mind. I felt the sniffles coming on, but I ignored the flu symptoms and went to grab my inventory and shove it in my trunk. But then I noticed that I had left the carpet samples I was supposed to return to the store three weeks ago in our mud room so I hastily grabbed those clumsy boards too and attempted to carry them to the car when SLAM!!! The carpet samples landed right on my toe and I started gushing blood. My husband, who was pretty annoyed that I had overscheduled the day and left him in to deal with all the kids’ appointments, finally did feel sorry for me when I let out a loud shriek and broke into tears. As I sat in the kitchen nursing my bloody foot, he fished out a Barbie band aid from the kitchen cabinet and gingerly wrapped it around my toe. And then, I kissed everyone goodbye and we went our separate ways. My family - to a birthday marathon, and me, to a shopping tent that included scores of men who winced or looked confused when they saw the name of my book (Peeing in Peace) or women who felt that my t-shirts were cute (“I Need a Playdate”) but rather pricey ($25) - have they not been to those upscale boutiques where they charge 50 bucks for a flimsy tee and don’t even bat an eye?!? And then there were others who were ready to spend some cash and bought my stuff – enabling me to pretty much make up the cost of what I spent to purchase the table for the event in the first place. I never did say I was a good business woman…writer yes, money maker, no. And then the clock struck 4pm. Tick tock, time to wrap things up. My son’s game was starting and I had to run like the wind. A very nice man in a golf cart helped me transport my things back to my car – in hindsight, for the amount of items I sold, I could have fit everything in an Ann Taylor Loft shopping bag rather than schlepping two oversized suitcases, a broken carton and a very large sign to the event. I then hopped in my Jetta and battled traffic as I attempted to zip over to the baseball field. I got to the bleachers just in time to watch my son staring into space on or around third base. He smiled at me and waved hello and asked his dad if he could come over and give me a hug, but since Daddy is the assistant coach, he told him he had to stay put. I parked my buns on the top row and noticed there was a bit of a nip in the air. Did I mention I didn’t have a jacket? And that my nose was running? Meanwhile, my daughter was lying nearby in a chaise lounge with her friend sifting through her goody bag for decent candy and yelled “Mommy, I found your favorite – Double Bubble…catch!” I savored my treat for about a minute and a half until it lost its flavor, then shuddered for a few minutes until a nice burly man next to me let me borrow his denim shirt to keep warm. At that point, I would’ve put on my son’s size 4T jacket since the chills were really setting in. After sitting out in the cold for what seemed like an eternity, the game ended (my munchkin got two hits) and our good friend, the coach, took our kids over to his place for a play date. I left the field to return my overpriced carpet samples and apologized profusely to the store owner and said I’d be back to place an order…not. The kids then came home and ate dinner, our babysitter arrived and we got the chance to have a night out on the town. Only problem, my nose was totally stuffed, I was feeling feverish and all I wanted to do was take a shot of Nyquil. So what’s the moral of this story? If you overcommit, you’ll feel like ****. You fill in the blank. Now I’m off to blow my nose.
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bathroom Break...Also Seen in Time Out New York Kids

I never thought that after my two kids became potty trained, I'd find myself spending a decent portion of my life in restaurant bathrooms. You see, I don't cook very often so we eat out. A lot. My kids have no problem eating everything from Indian to Japanese to Greek to Thai, but the minute our food arrives, the call of nature rears its ugly head.
"Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom!"
With my spoon ready to dive into a piping hot bowl of pasta fagioli, I grimace, grab my purse and proceed to the john. I think if I started keeping count, in the past five years, I probably have seen the inside of over 1000 bathrooms (sometimes repeat visits) as my kids repeatedly ask me to escort them to their very own personal refuge from the dinner table.
Frankly, I cannot understand why the bathroom tops the list as the prime destination to check out during a restaurant outing. I mean, they've got crayons, a kiddy flyer filled with mazes and coloring projects, drinks with umbrellas in them, Leapsters, but no, it's the alluring draw of the bathroom that sucks them in every time.
The cross section of bathrooms I've had to suffer through over the years range from putrid to palatial. Last night, I got the chance to frequent a mid-sized single bathroom that had a deceiving pleasant odor, but something that was utterly fowl in the toilet (doesn't anyone look when they flush?) I had the opportunity to visit that wonderful locale not once, but twice. The first time was with my son, who forgot to go tinkle when my husband brought him inside to wash his hands and then, another time with my daughter who, thankfully, after finishing her meal, decided it was time to go.
Some of my potty missions have given me the chance to pick up great renovating ideas for my own home. I've spent several minutes while my son was singing show tunes behind a stall, marveling at a decadent hotel bathroom with black granite countertops, ornate sink basins with a curving antique brushed pewter faucet and mosaic basket weave beige and black tiling adorning the floor. I was so entranced by the place that the bathroom lady almost had to step in and wipe my son's butt.
Let's not forget about those lovely emergency bathroom breaks that always seem to happen in the middle of nowhere. Like the time we were driving home from the Hamptons and my daughter couldn't hold it in and we had to slip into a seedy dive bar on Sunrise Highway where she relieved herself in one of the skankiest toilets I have ever seen. We of course, coated the seat with plenty of paper to avoid picking up any creepy diseases.
Then there's the kid friendly bathrooms at those restaurant chains that have everything from changing stations to a nursing area to sinks that only start when you wave your hands in front of them. That happens to drive me nuts by the way, since I always manage to find the one sink that won't turn on. What am I, dead or something that the sensor can't tell there's a hand waving furiously in front of it trying to get some damn water so I can race back to the table before my soup gets cold?
There's also that cool motion sensor paper towel dispenser that always provides several minutes of thrills for both of my kids. They'll stick around in the bathroom for an extra five minutes just so that they can keep waving their hands in front of that machine and waste several rolls of scratchy paper.
Let's not forget about the toilets that flush themselves. I still wax nostalgic over the first time my daughter sat her three-year-old fanny on one of those sneaky contraptions when we were in a bathroom in Disneyworld. The automatic flusher got her so fa-tootsed she was afraid to pee on the toilet for days.
And then there's the sanitary napkin dispenser. When my daughter was young she used to point to it and say, "Mommy, I want a prize from that thingamajig on the wall." Now that she can read, she's moved on to ask the dreaded question, "Mommy, what's a tampon?"
I truly hope that one day my kids will finally lose their fascination with public bathrooms. But for now, I've come to accept that whenever we go out to eat, I'm destined to be on duty. Literally. It may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Birthday Blunder

I have certifiably lost my mind or the senility is already setting in and I am only 37. I cannot believe that I did it again. Two years in a row and I screwed up on the invitations for my son's birthday party. You see, yesterday was his party. It was a splendid affair - okay, splendid sounds a little queer. It was glorious - still kind of nerdy. Let's just say it was a great shindig - perfect weather, fun had by all, music, games, water balloons, pinatas, you name it, we had it and everyone had a grand old time.
Except for one of my son's friends. No - he wasn't afraid of water balloons or my husband who was dressed in a lion's costume (if you're curious this years' theme was "Wizard of Oz"). You see, when I was writing out the invitations, for some reason, unbeknownst even to myself, I wrote the wrong date on one invite (I hope) and the poor kid missed my son's birthday.
So I've come to the conclusion that I have lost my mind. I have gone into multi-tasking overload and my brain, which thinks it can handle cognitive thinking in auto pilot mode has completely malfunctioned.
From this day forward, I hereby announce I will:
A. Never write out party invitations while on the train home from Grand Central Station.
B. Use my computer and print out invitations so that the date and time of the party is fool proof.
C. Stop doing 10 things at once and concentrate dammit.
For the good of my kids, my husband - who wants to strangle me when I'm shopping online, checking email messages on my BlackBerry while simultaneously having a conversation with him, and for myself who has way too many balls in the air and needs to start saying no for a change, I am going to give multi-tasking a rest. That is until after I get through my next event for moms this Wednesday, an exciting Mamapalooza event on May 12, a CSI museum opening on May 23 and a few dentist appointments that I keep missing on a regular basis.
One day, when I'm toothless and completely senile, I will only have myself to blame. To return to our home page, Click Here.

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