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There’s A Lot Going On

I have an intern. She’s fifteen, green-haired, and brilliant. She’s taken over RonAndRobertOnDivorce.com. In fact, she’s manning our entire social media campaign. The kid is so smart that half the time when I’m looking over her work I have to consciously hold my mouth closed or risk my jaw falling into my lap.

For the record, she’s also a lot of fun to work with. She’s smart and funny and she wears Doc Martens and listens to the Pixies and rocks her faded green  midnight-blue-with-turquoise-streaks* hair. She is one of the raddest chicks I’ve ever hung out with. And I hang out with some pretty rad chicks.

So I have an intern and that is fabulous. What else? Last weekend Mike and I catered a private film screening in a gorgeous house in Malibu and it was a huge success. I am super proud of us for pulling it off. The food was incredible – Mike planned the menu and cooked everything himself. His presentations were stunning. I cannot forgive myself for failing to take photographs of the table because you would have died. He served everything except the desserts on hand-painted Italian china and the desserts were served on antique silver. He cut beautiful, flower-like garnishes out of lemons and tiny red, gold, and green peppers. I’ve never seen anything like it. My husband is a god in the kitchen. Here are some crappy snap shots I took with my Blackberry while he was practice-cooking earlier in the week:

stuffed tomatoes

These have a fancy name but I can’t remember it. They are little tomatoes stuffed with lamb and goat cheese. So. Delicious.

endive salad

A little endive salad. These were so beautiful – the endive leaf is shaped like a little boat, and it’s filled with baby arugula, radiccio, sliced figs, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and a sprig of fennel.

He also served gorgonzola-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates, stuffed mushrooms, made-from-scratch spanakopita, crostinis with fresh tapenade, and the crown jewel was an onion tarte. For dessert there were lemon tarts and fruit tarts. Made from scratch. I’m telling you. Kitchen god.

We are both exhausted. Between last week’s catering gig, our jobs, social commitments, training for Bolivia, and planning for Bolivia, we are working from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep.

Last night Mike and I took a night off from everything and watched four episodes of The Gates. It’s a ridiculous soap-opera about vampires and werewolves and it is mind-numbingly delicious. So we took a night off and watched four episodes while we gathered all our gear and cleaned it and folded it and sorted out what clothes need to be washed, packed our backpacks, ate dinner, and folded clean laundry.

See? Even when we take a night off we don’t take a night off. Though in all honesty, last night was perfectly lovely. It was fun to sort through our gear and I discovered all kinds of wonderful secret compartments in my hats and my backpack where I can stash emergency money in case we get robbed.

Which reminds me. We have to make our fake wallets. That way, if we do get robbed, we can hand over fake wallets with fake credit cards and fake drivers licenses and enough cash to make the thieves leave us alone. Brilliant, right? As long as they don’t search our bags. And if they do, we cross our fingers they don’t find all the secret compartments.

We’re going to be fine. I just have to remember to breathe.

*Ed: She changed colors. She’s a chameleon, that one.

Seriously Neurotic

I’m really sorry I haven’t been posting. I hate to start out with an apology, but I need do. I’ve also been an asshole friend lately, I know. Tonight? I totally flaked out on Thursday Night Family Dinner. I pretty much suck.

But my goodness, I need to take a minute and breathe. There is so much going on right now that when I think about it I want to cry. I’m completely freaked out about a million different things and even though I know, I really know (or I desperately hope) that everything is going to be ok, there is a part of me that’s terrified.

I cannot believe I am going to Bolivia in two weeks. Two weeks from Monday. I honestly don’t remember how I got roped into this, but somehow I did and now I just hope I make it through the twenty-hour flight without vomiting. I really hate vomiting. If I don’t vomit or have diarrhea on this trip, I will consider it a success. Of course, I also hope we don’t get raped and none of us are murdered, or killed by wild animals, or maimed in some horrible accident. But if none of those things happen, if we make it back to Los Angeles with our bodies intact and none of us ever having vomited or experienced diarrhea that shoots out of your bum and won’t stop, I will consider this trip a rave success.

We have eleven doses of Cipro, a water filter, and a stockpile of pro-biotics. Eleven is my lucky number and the rest of that stuff is for good measure.

I know we’re going to be fine.

And then I’m nervous about money. I hadn’t factored in the loss of income when we saved up for this trip, so it only occurred to me yesterday that perhaps we can’t quite afford this. I mean, we can, it’s going to be fine, things are just going to need to be a little bit tighter when we get home. It’s not a big deal, these are first-world problems, I know. In this economy, the fact that we can afford this trip at all is proof that we are doing just fine, but I’m the kind of person who really prides myself on having good financial management skills, so when I realize that perhaps I didn’t quite plan the finances as well as I thought I did, my ego hurts. (You can tell how upset I am by the run-on sentences.) Then I think about how irritated our employers are that we’re leaving for three weeks and suddenly I think I might have diarrhea so bad it shoots out my bum and won’t stop.

Mike and I had a major heart-to-heart last night because I’ve been very vocal lately, mostly during our training sessions, about how much I hate this and that I don’t know why the (expletive) we’re doing this. He told me again that I don’t have to go, that I really can stay home. He’d said he’d rather I stay home than come along and be miserable.

And I thought for a minute, I really took a moment and thought about it. The thing is? For all my anxiety and terror, I am pretty sure that, even though there might be some really horrible moments, even if we get robbed and we need to take an anti-biotic to stop the shooting-from-bum disease that is travelers diarrhea, there will most likely also be moments that are life-alteringly-beautiful. Yes, I realize “alteringly” isn’t a word, but I think this trip is the sort of thing that can help shape a person’s life. It will build character, as they say. I just pray to the Lord Almighty that we are re-shaped in a healthy emotional way. As in, we make it back to L.A. closer as a family than we were before, and with all our parts attached.

wiener dog

I’m betting you’ve missed the wiener dog. How could you not? Look at that face!

Perfectly Perfect Perfect

When we moved from Hells Kitchen to Harlem I was working eleven hours a week and Mike was unemployed and on Spring break from school. We were able to spend the better part of every day cleaning, unpacking, decorating, nesting, and we were all settled in a matter of weeks. It was fantastic. But this time I’ve been at work every day and Mike’s had to do most of the heavy lifting without me.  Me, who likes to do everything myself because I want everything to be perfectly perfect perfect.

This has been the source of several very high energy moments in the past couple of weeks. Mike is very patient and very laid back, and I am the Tazmanian Devil. We signed our lease on a Monday but by Tuesday I’d spent four days decorating the apartment in my mind and making long lists of everything that needed to be cleaned.

One morning as Mike was driving me to the office, we had a huge fight.  Except it wasn’t really a fight. Calling it a fight implies yelling and screaming, and that’s not our style.  Anyway, immediately after lecturing Michael on how I won’t be able to live in the apartment until the bathrooms have been scrubbed inside and out, I started telling him that I thought it would be fabulous to decorate said bathrooms with all gold vintage decor.  He made a face at me and said he thought that was the most horrible idea I’d ever come up with ever.

Except not really. What he said was, “That will look really tacky,” but what I heard was, “That is the most horrible idea you’ve ever come up with ever. Also, you are fat and ugly.”

When he dropped me at work I was nearly in tears. I was also on my way to being late for work, so I couldn’t sit in the car and talk about how I was feeling. Instead I had to sit in my office and stew about it.  And stew I did, for a nice long while. Then I texted him:

“I love you. I want for this to be a fun and happy time for us.  I want to feel like you accept me and like my ideas. It’s crushing when you think my ideas are stupid. You’re my best friend and when you think my ideas are stupid it’s really painful. So far you’ve hated every idea I have and I’m starting to feel like this is your apartment, not ours.”

Don’t you love how dramatic I am? It’s so awful it’s funny, right? “So far you’ve hated every idea I have…” Straight out of Days of Our Lives, the generic suburban version.

He texted back:

“All I’m doing is cleaning. I understand how you feel. I’m sorry. I don’t want to feel the same – like you want to make this your apartment, and all I do is scrubbing and hauling. The good news is that we are not in a huge hurry. I want us to work together to make a home. I respect your ideas, and I know we can make this work.”

I took a deep breath. Why was I so angry? I mean, seriously. Sixties gold décor in the eighties-era bathroom with the clamshell sink. It wouldn’t have worked at all. So I called my mother and my girlfriends, some of the most brilliant and wonderful women I know. “What should I doooooo?????” I whined. They all three said the same thing. They pointed out that we both had valid points and we’d both expressed a desire to work through the situation.  They said we were ahead of the game. They offered help, advice, encouragement, and comfort.  They made me laugh. And Kim gave me complete instructions for how to wash out my filthy dishwasher, something I otherwise would not, for the life of me, have known how to do.

I wasn’t angry that Mike didn’t like my ideas. I was angry because he was doing it all without me. I felt like I was missing out on everything.  All the cleaning, all the moving, all the furniture-arranging.  He thought he was getting a big chore out of the way, but I felt like I was being cheated of an opportunity to nest – something I’d been aching to do since August. Meanwhile, here he is, spending his days scrubbing and hauling while I yammer on about curtains and throw pillows and give lectures on how to clean the toilet. No wonder he didn’t have the patience to talk about gold vintage décor.

When we finally got another chance to talk, we realized that we were both aiming for the same thing – a fabulous little home we’ll love for the next two to five years, depending on how long it takes us to save up for a house.  Once we figured that out, we were able to talk about all of the things that needed to get done, his priorities and mine, and I realized that moving comes before decorating and maybe my evenings were better spent scrubbing the filthy toilet instead of shopping online. Which, of course, was what I really wanted to be doing anyway.  After all, there is nothing in the world like a freshly scrubbed toilet.

The World Keeps Spinning

Shadows

My heart has been so heavy the last couple of days. Mike started working nights again, which is awful. But it’s particularly awful because he’s working a job that brings him absolutely zero satisfaction, so he’s not even enjoying himself. At least if he were doing something he enjoyed, like EMT work, or a property management gig, or if he was gone all night because he was taking classes or something, at least I would know he was getting something out of it. But instead I know he’s on his feet all night, miserable, the hours dragging by like years, and so it’s hard to sit through my own personal loneliness with a brave face.

Then there’s the weather. You guys, seriously. The weather has been cold and gray for days and days. It has rained three times this week. Are you honestly telling me that we moved back from New York for this horrible, gray, dreary weather? Seriously? Because I could have stayed in New York for this. And then at least I’d be in New York.

I don’t mean that. I really do love the Valley. But this weather is seriously bumming me out.

Next is my job. It’s super frustrating right now. I’m having to learn a whole new set of skills, and what it feels like is that I’m learning a new language, and I’m not going to lie, it’s a little scary. I’m learning how to do things I never thought I’d have to learn and on the one hand, that’s the entire reason I took the job. Because I knew it would challenge me in ways I’ve never been challenged, and that was exactly what I wanted. And yet.

I think the problem here is that I don’t handle change very well. Or maybe I handle change just like everyone else does, and maybe everyone else feels super overwhelmed by change. I don’t know. Can you answer that for me? Because all of these little life changes are starting to pile up and feel a little crushing, now that the honeymoon has worn off, and I’m freaking the eff out.

Deep. Breath.

Another. Deep. Breath.

And yet. We chose this. We wanted this. Mike and I both. We stopped going out and eating at restaurants so we could save up enough money for this. We talked about it and planned it out and when we found out it was all real, we were so happy we cried.

And there have been days since we moved when all we can do is grin at each other and knock fists and bro-hug, we’re that pleased with ourselves. There have been happy reunions and little victories and days we both felt our lives were too good to be real. So I’m not trying to say that we made the wrong choice, or that I was starting to regret our decision, or anything like that. It’s just that it’s life, you know? It’s complicated and messy and boring and then it’s fantastic and perfect and full of tiny bursts of light like shooting stars that make all the rest of it worthwhile. I guess the thing to do is try and find the peace within it all. The zen. So that the crappy stuff doesn’t matter so much and the happy stuff is the thing you notice the most.

It’s not weird, it’s not. (Say that fast.)

Lately I’ve been having this conversation with my dogs –

What? You don’t have conversations with your dogs? Really? I find that hard to believe.

I’ve been talking to Valentine and Theo about change. After all, there are going to be some pretty big changes coming up. There have all ready been some little changes; all our stuff has disappeared into big boxes and the cats are gone. So I explain this to them, and then I tell them about how we’ll be driving a big truck across the country, and we’ll spend the nights in campgrounds and friends homes, and then we’ll be in California! California, where the sun shines year-round, the sidewalks glitter with mica, and the markets are cornucopias of fresh fruits and vegetables.

I say all of this to the little dogs, who blink, yawn, and promptly fall asleep.

When I was a little girl, my brother, who’s birthday it just was, worked on a video for a kid’s TV show about a little girl who learned a lesson about change. After all, there is only one thing that doesn’t change, and that is the fact that change is inevitable. Just when you think you’ve found your groove, things change. Just when life gets cozy, things change. Everything is always changing. The girl learns this lesson and at the end, she gets a red cape and a red crown and she becomes Captain Change! And she learns to feel really good about all of the opportunities change presents.

I feel like that kid in the red cape. Change is wonderful! It gives us an opportunity to grow, and learn, and figure stuff out all over again. Change keeps life exciting, presents challenges, keeps us limber. And the changes coming up are awesome changes, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that change is also really scary and frustrating and is making me grind my teeth at night. Which is why I talk to my dogs about change. I’m really talking to me.

Mish Mash

This photo isn’t really related to this post, except that it is. I love this photo; my friend Christine took it at the after-party for her gallery show, and she has perfectly captured a moment when we were out enjoying a night with friends, having fun, and not thinking about canceling ConEd, or finding movers, or whether or not we can live without the salad spinner for the next eight days.

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DRY MY LETTUCE NOW, MIKE? HOW?

I am Captain Change, embracing the discomfort, and moving forward with an open heart.

To Ramble

My brain is totally fried.  It’s only Monday and it took me three attempts to type the word “fried.”  Both times.  I’m exhausted.  I’m working a lot.  But I had an absolutely fantastic weekend, even though I worked on Saturday, so I am not complaining.

bliss

Last week Mike left for Los Angeles for his nephew’s high school graduation.  The kid is graduating Valedictorian, after all.   I’ll admit I was a little nervous about him going away for a long trip and me being all by my lonesome.  And I know it’s ridiculous considering I live with five animals in an enormous apartment building in the middle of New York City.  If there is anything I couldn’t possibly be, it’s alone. Even if I didn’t have the animals, you can’t go anywhere in this city without being pressed up against a hundred other sweaty bodies, so being alone is not an issue here.  But I do not like when we are separated.  I feel like I’m missing a limb.

And of course the rain didn’t help.

even the windows are weeping

There is nothing like rain to make a barely-holding-her-shit-together gal totally lose it.  But you know what?  It was only for a day.  He left Tuesday morning, I spent the day feeling miserable and sorry for myself, and then on Wednesday I got my ass back to work and I have been hustling ever since.   I miss him, I really ache for him, but I have been totally o.k.  I’ve even been eating my vegetables!

having a nice sniff

Friday morning I got up an hour early so I could take the dogs to the park while the sun was out.  Those little poop-eating beasts bring me so much happiness, I cannot even begin to explain it.  Sometimes I worry that I won’t love them anymore when I have babies.  Like, there won’t be enough left over for them.  And then I know that’s not true, I know I have enough room in my heart for everyone.

Saturday I worked, and afterwards Adam picked me up in his little blue bug and swept me off to Astoria for a slumber party with Joe, Christine and Breya and oh my god, you guys, it was amazing.  There was pizza, and prosecco, and an Audrey Hepburn flick.  We played dress-up and talked about clothes and we even made ice cream sundaes.

fabulous

Sunday morning we lounged around in our jammies, watching the news.  I cannot believe the oil spill.  I cannot believe this is happening and we’ve let it go on and on for fifty-six days now.  The consequences of this disaster will be felt by our great-great grandchildren.  It makes me sick.  It makes me not want to give birth to more children, because it makes me think I don’t want to bring another life into this world.  It makes me thinks “What’s the point of living when our future is so horribly bleak?” Which is why I don’t watch the news and why I haven’t known anything about this oil spill, except that it happened, until now, because these things terrify me to the extent that if I pay too close attention I will implode.  Call me socially irresponsible, I don’t care.  I’ve got to take care of my sanity.

So we turned off the TV and we went to Central Park.  We had cocktails and tapas at the Loeb Boathouse, which is without a doubt, my absolute favorite restaurant in New York City.  We sat on the patio and we sipped mimosas because life is too damn short to spend the afternoon in a black hole of despair when you could be sipping mimosas.  It started to rain just as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, but it felt so lovely and we were so cheerful that Adam and I decided to walk barefoot through the park, while Joe watched in horror.

“Take your shoes off!  The grass feels lovely under your feet.”
“Until you step on a hypodermic needle.  No way.  I’m keeping my shoes on.”

smoking joe

“You guys are crazy.”

Then I called him a stuffed shirt, because that’s what Corey calls Paul when he refuses to walk barefoot in the park with her.  But Joe, in case you’re reading this, your whole stuffed shirt thing is part of what makes you so irresistibly charming.  Yesterday wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Joe's loafers

We walked and we walked and it rained and it rained and it was heavenly.  When I closed my eyes it was as if we were monkey people living in a wild jungle. (I have a wonderful imagination.)  We found ourselves in the middle of a giant field and we stashed our stuff under a tree and and played frisbee.  Rather, Adam and I played frisbee while Joe smoked cigarettes under his umbrella.  And by the way, if you’ve never played frisbee in the middle of Central Park in the pouring rain, I highly recommend it.  It was absolutely spectacular and absolutely worth the soaking wet train ride home.

best pals

Noooooooo

Adam: “Give me a hug.”
Joe:  “Nooo!  I’m wearing dry clean only!”

Weigh In

It’s June, we’re halfway through the year, and so I thought it would be fun to do a six-month check-in on all my resolutions.  Like a weigh-in, only without the humiliating scale part.  (I have a serious fear of scales.  I loathe them and despise them and I might even be allergic to them.)

New Years Day 2010, I declared, via Frosty-licious, that this would be the year I would “throw off the pretty little mask”.  You guys, I’ve done such a good job:

frosty-licious

The best thing about this picture is that it’s actually my face.

But seriously, I’m glad I re-read that post because it’s kind of fantastic to look over the goals I set in January and see how many of them have been checked off the list.  This has definitely been a year for dreaming big, scary, wonderful dreams.  My career has taken a wild turn and it’s very unexpected and very exciting.  When I think about it I get little chills up and down my spine and then I think I might throw up.  Like the way you feel when someone you’ve waited your entire life to kiss finally kisses you for the first time.

Mike’s going to be really bummed when he realizes I just told the Internet that I felt like throwing up when he kissed me the first time.  But I assure you, it’s a good thing.

We’ve decided we’re going to hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal in August of 2011.  Talk about dreaming big!  We’re hoping fourteen months is enough time to save money, get in shape, get vaccinated, get passports.  Read this article and you’ll totally understand why we want to go.

It turns out I won’t be going back to school after all, at least not now.  When my acceptance letter came I was hit by a wave of disappointment, so I figured that maybe it wasn’t actually the right thing to do.  I love the idea of going back to school and cutting things open and looking at their insides, but I think I love the idea of it more than the actual doing of it.  Like, if I could go back to school and not have to work, and not have to think about anything else like which bills were due and how there could possibly be that much dog hair on the sofa when I just vacuumed, then it would be awesome.  I would love it.  I would drink in every minute, I’d be a sponge for knowledge, I would appreciate it a thousand million times more than I ever did when I actually was a student.  But that’s just not realistic at this point.  I already went to college and I spent four years rolling around the floor in white body make-up while breathing through my anus.  Now it’s Mike’s turn.  Not to breath through his anus, and anyway that was only a metaphor.  It’s his turn to go to college and be a fulltime sponge for knowledge.  Besides, I’m getting at least as much out of it as he is, you have no idea.

We have completely paid off all of our credit card debt.  It feels amazing.  And I’ll tell you exactly how we did it: We stopped spending.  Seriously.  We stopped eating out, we stopped drinking out, we stopped buying clothes and trinkets and candles and take-out and bath puffs and suddenly we were able to pay off our credit cards. We are making the least amount of money we’ve ever made and for the first time since we moved we don’t feel broke.  So we’re saving up to move home to Los Angeles.  And also for our Annapurna hike, but first home. New York has been a wonderful adventure, but we did what we needed to do and we’re ready to go home.

There was one resolution I read over that kind of bummed me out because I realized I haven’t made any progress on it.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I have been eating much better and I’ve been doing more yoga and getting more exercise, but I have some serious self-esteem issues I need to work through.  In the meantime, I no longer depend on caffeine in the mornings!  Yay for me!  I seriously thought I was going to need rehab to get off the coffee, but I don’t even miss it.  And I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore, except for once in a while because sometimes it’s nice to relax with a beer.  I’ve yet to take a Spanish class, but the year is not over yet.  I’ve got a trip planned to Seattle to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday, and a trip home for a wedding and Mike and I have definitely been spending a lot of time appreciating our time without children, if you know what I’m saying.

Six months into the year and things are looking pretty damn good.  I’ve got a good feeling about the next six months, too.  What about you?

About – Jan. 2010

My name is Patricia Frost. In February of 2007, after less than a year of marriage, my husband and I moved from Los Angeles, California to New York City because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what would have happened if I’d moved to New York.  Now I know. It’s been a wild adventure and we’re looking forward to getting back to California as soon as we can scrounge up enough dough.  We check our couch cushions daily.

I grew up in a suburb outside of Los Angeles, like omigawd, three malls within walking distance of my house. My favorite mall, The Topanga Mall, was renovated recently and now when I go there I feel lost and confused. Luckily I don’t go there very often since I live 3,000 miles away in a place that rains year round, is cold nine months out of the year and doesn’t have any malls at all. I only mention the stuff about the rain and the malls because when we moved here I didn’t know that there were cities in this country that lack malls, yet have year round rain.  The revelation was actually painful.

If it weren’t for my husband Michael, a full-time student and NYC EMT, I don’t think I would have survived the first two years we were in this crazy city. Through thick and thin he’s been my best friend, my biggest fan, he’s picked me up and dusted me off and he’s forced me to move on. He makes me a better person.

Mike and I live in a spacious and sunny apartment in Harlem.  We have three closets and a bathroom sink.  In case you weren’t aware, in Manhattan bathroom sinks and closets are considered really fantastic amenities.  We share this fabuslous amentitied apartment with two dogs, two cats and a python.  We spend eight hours a week vacuuming up pet hair.  That’s not even an exaggeration.

I am a writer, an actor, a Certified Family Law Paralegal and a traveling sales girl.  I earned a BFA from a university-accredited art conservatory, where I spent four years rolling around on the floor in white body make-up making funny noises.  My college transcripts include yoga, tai chi, Punk Writing, Queer Books and Singing For Actors.  In the future I’d like to go back to school and study science.  I’ve always liked looking at the insides of things.

I love Neutral Milk Hotel, The Bangkok Five, and Trent Reznor.  I collect photos of dead animals, I love poop jokes and I frequently say inappropriate things. I hate high heels and fancy clothes.  Cocktail parties and dinner parties terrify me because I always end up being the weird girl alone in the corner with stains on her dress and runs in her stockings.  I’d rather stay home with good friends than go out for a night on the town.  I want to have a baby so badly that sometimes I think my ovaries are talking to me. I miss The Valley.

In addition to A Serious Girl, I edit, compile and write for Ron and Robert on Divorce, a blog that provides information and education to families in crisis.  I also take care of the blog for A Tail At A Time, a NYC based animal rescue.  I started writing my first blog, Frosty-licious, in May of 2007, just three months after moving thousands of miles away from my roots. At first I used blogging as a way to whine about how awful my first-world problems were. After a while I started writing instead of whining and before I knew it writing became my sanctuary.  This blog is my sanctuary.  Thank you for reading.