Friday, November 19, 2010

good days... bad days.... the roller coaster of addiction

On bad days I am a short order cook, a personal slave, a cleaning lady and a laundress.

On good days I am a chef, a concierge, an interior decorator and a fashion stylist.

Here's my most recent article for the American Mag (I've included it in the text):

Freckles Dugan was deaf, dumb and blind before she left this world. But she never lost her sixth sense for out of town travel. She could sniff out a trip the way a jonesing german shepherd  at JFK’s baggage claim discovers heroin. Maybe it was the scent of the suitcase… maybe she picked up on the travel-induced anxiety. Whatever the case, she did not like it when her family went away.

This past week, I discovered that either my oldest son is my dead springer spaniel incarnate or that they share some similar stressors. Though Oedipus (not his real name) did not chase his tail while incessantly yelping, he did bite me in protest once he saw my carry-on and discovered that I was leaving without him (something Freckles never did).

I was scheduled to go to the US for business and pleasure and REALLY looking forward to it. REALLY. Knowing that this was our first time being apart, I was certain that this week would not be easy for him. The baby would be fine, but my first-born would struggle with the invisible umbilical chord that would not reach across the Atlantic. I assured him that I would be back soon. And I bribed him.  Which seemed effective.

When the moment (and my cab) arrived, I ran out the door trying to escape the cries of my children. But I couldn’t escape the cries in my own head, “You are a terrible mother. You are scarring your children!” My eyes welled up with tears and panic crept in to my breathing. I tried to reason with myself. Women leave their kids all the time. I knew this would be hard for the boys but why was this so damned difficult for me?

And then it struck me. I was dependent on my dependents. I was addicted to being a mother.

Mothering was a drug I had been inhaling, injecting and ingesting non-stop for three and half years. It was an intoxicating potion on good days. A hallucinogenic powerhouse after days of sleep deprivation. It was like an eight ball of cocaine with a heroin bump, an all-consuming temptress….  Okay.  Stop. That last metaphor is just me trying to show my street cred (I have no street cred).
Being a mother was a 24-hour habit and now I was going cold turkey for a week. As I checked in to my flight, I was shaking, sweating and nauseous- detoxing, if you will. As I entered airport security, I stripped myself of a jacket, shoes, belt and parental responsibilities. As I boarded the plane I also embarked on a sobering solo experience. “They will be fine. They are with their father. Their father can take care of them.” I breathed and thought again, “Oh God… they are with their father! Can he take care of them?”

When I arrived in Washington, I craved a fix. So I called home using my computer and video conferencing. As soon as we were connected- I realized my grave error. The baby started screaming and crying “Mama! Mama!” And Oedi said, “Mommy I want to go with you. I want to go inside the computer with you.” Ouch. I just wanted a little something… a pick me up, a “hi Mommy!” And what I got instead was what they refer to as a relapse in a twelve –step program.

Admitting my addiction had rendered me powerless (step 1)… I arrived in Los Angeles reciting the serenity prayer. I was feeling weak. So I decided to look to step two and search for a ‘power greater than myself to restore my sanity.’ I chose Target. And Bloomingdales. And Barneys. A calm came over me. Shopping not only helped me, but it also aided the devastated California economy. I was helping myself and Governor Schwarzenegger one retailer at a time! This twelve-step thing was so effective- I only needed two of them. Slowly I stopped obsessing about my kids and started thinking about me. “What did I want to eat tonight? What film did I want to see? Did I want to hike with a friend or do yoga?” I felt like me again. Without the Mommy part.

Turns out, the week apart was great for everyone. Oedi and his brother loved being waited on by their Italian grandparents, Marco got to see how difficult a job it is raising kids full time, and after I got off my mommy jag… I had a glorious week that was all about me. The best part (aside from In-n-Out Burger), was coming home to my three men and knowing that I could leave again without suffering from withdrawal. We all survived nicely.

For the sake of recovery… where can I escape to next?

*** And yesterday my friend Jen sent me this: Great minds think alike.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cheap. Quick. Easy. (Minds out of the gutter please.)

On Friday, Marco was meeting with a client. After an hour, he signed a new deal and snagged a new RECIPE. I love the fact that it is completely commonplace for men in Italy to come up with new culinary ideas.

Saturday, Marco then whipped up this pasta. It was super tasty- as well as cheap, quick and easy.

1 can of tuna 
3 anchovy fillets or anchovy paste
1 clove garlic
lemon zest to taste
parsley to taste
olive oil
white wine
sea salt
250 g pasta

If you want to cook like Marco the Roman- take your time, sip your wine, prepare the sauce AND then bring the water to a boil. But if you'd like to rock out this recipe in 10-12 minutes. Follow my instructions:

Put water on the stove- bring to a boil. 
While water is heating- do your prep.

Chop your garlic, parsley and zest your lemon. 
Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic and anchovy. 
Add tuna (we used a high quality Italian tuna in olive oil which you can find in specialty stores- but you can use any tuna. Obviously the better the tuna... the better the dish.) and a splash of white wine
Add in lemon zest and parsley. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Saute for a few minutes (remember tuna is already cooked, so we are just trying to marry the flavors).

When water is boiling add a handful of sea salt and cook pasta until al dente. Then add pasta to saucepan
Mix and plate. Buon Appetito.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I have strange taste in music. If I were a Deejay, Ethel Merman would be heavy in rotation. So would Lerner and Loewe (look it up. I dare you.).

With that said, I also love me some Prince (and the Artist formerly known as). But I hate going to big concerts (except for Madonna at Madison Square Garden). So when Marco surprised me with tickets to last night's Prince concert here in Rome, I was on the fence.
At first glance, he looked very much like Little Richard and I felt very much like my parents going to see an icon past his prime. (My 'rents saw a fat Elvis.)
But seeing an icon (that's right- I said icon. twice.) after his prime is both a bit sad and a little inspiring.
Sad because the production value nor the turn out was not what it used to be.
Inspiring because after many years he can still shake that tiny ass, hit those high notes, whale on that guitar and gather a crowd that adores him and his music.

The concert brought me back to my youth, (which in turn only made me feel old) to a time when asymmetrical haircuts were cool and Purple Rain reigned supreme on my walkman (Sorry Ethel 1984 was all about the mini man from Minneapolis). For his final (and only) costume change, Prince came out wearing a sequined tunic. I think he borrowed it from Liza Minelli (who I also adore).

I happened to sit next to the only teenager in the stadium. His parents brought him along and while he was mortified by the two middle aged men in front of us, I was awestruck by both their passion for the dance and their lack of ability slash rhythm. They shimmied and shook like only 50 year old pear shaped men with a reckless disregard for decorum can. They were awesome. Prince was awesome.
And Marco was awesome buying me the tickets.

NOTE: If you also have strange musical taste... but would like to improve it OR you have great taste in music but are always looking for something new- check out this amazing blog: