Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time in America, black people were slaves, women were not allowed to vote, racial prejudice was legal, same-sex couples were not allowed to marry, and guns could be put in the hands of anyone who wanted one.
Then one day, things started to change. Things got a little better.
In 1865, slavery was abolished.

In 1920, women became allowed to vote.

In 2015 same-sex couples were allowed to be legally married.
We are still waiting for the rest of this story to be told.
I’m sorry that I can’t finish it for you yet. One day I will.

But if I can’t complete it for you, promise me that you will never stop trying to write a happy ending to this story.

Love, Momontour

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onceuponatime

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1984 Day

Recently I took my 12 year old daughter and her best friend out for the day.  We went to lunch and I told them about what life was like for me when I was 12.  It was 1984.  I told them about how we had no internet, no cell phones, and about 4 channels on the t.v.  Aghast, horrified, and unable to speak, they asked me, in today’s pre-teen speak, what we “literally, seriously, honestly” did all day long.

I told them that my friends and I would find odd things from around our houses (i.e. paperclips, string, toilet paper rolls) and then we would decorate them and go around and sell them to the neighbors.  “Did people actually buy them?”  “Yes, for a penny.  It made us happy, and that’s what neighbors did.  Made each other happy.” 

I told them that we would mix together all of the cooking-type food items in our houses and then bake them into strangely-flavored cookies or brownies.  Again, we would sell them around the neighborhood.  We always came home happy.

We listened to records in our rooms and made up dances to songs or shows that we would perform, again, for our neighbors (For a small fee. We were nothing if not business-oriented gals.)  We played in the parks and rode our bikes to each other’s homes.

I suggested to my daughter and her friend that we should have a “1984 Day” at our house.  For that day, we are going to spend the day like it is 1984.  The girls will wear clothes that cover their entire bodies (even if they are neon colored and made of mesh and include fingerless leather gloves.)  The girls can play with their very own, upgraded, imaginations all day long.

Surprisingly, the girls actually love the idea and we are deciding when 1984 Day will take place this summer.  They keep texting each other pictures of paper clips and are analyzing which ones people will want to buy.

I’m more excited than anyone.  You see, I like the idea that in 1984, we didn’t hear about shootings every day in this country.  We didn’t hear daily stories of home-grown violence and terrorism.  We studied about racism in school, but it was part of a history course.  It wasn’t something we studied in current events.  Cops were trusted members of our society.  Our greatest fears and enemies were far away on the other side of the world.  We weren’t fearful of our neighbors.  We trusted all of them.  In school, we had fire drills and tornado drills.  There were even drills and warnings about the nuclear bombs that other countries might use against us.  But we didn’t have drills where we learned to hide from sharp shooters who lived next door to the school.

As I told the girls, we have come so far since I was 12.  Electric cars and mobile phones and portable t.v.s and the face-timing were incredible fantasies that no one thought would ever be invented. We are way ahead in medical and scientific fields and in the space race.

But let’s be honest, we haven’t advanced all that much. In fact, we are actually moving backward way faster than we are moving forward.  We are back living in the Wild, Wild West where guns are legally allowed in bars and in churches and in movie theatres.  When guns are used to kill, people scream that it was their constitutional right to do so.  White men in power sit on t.v. and nod that they are correct.  We are living in the 1960s in the Deep South.  Hatred and racism are the norm, and white people in power continually cover it up.  Lawmakers look the other way.  We are so far back that we are now in the days of the Bible, when people shout the name of their god to justify violence against people who are not heterosexual Christian white folks.

Maybe all of us here in our country need a 1984 Day.   Not just to turn off the electronics or to wear Flashdance sweatshirts with high ponytails or to play outside.  We need it to go back in time when we here in the USA felt safe and free.  When we trusted our neighbors.

Before we went to war on ourselves.

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“Honey, I’m going away with the girls/guys”

Mother vs. Father Weekend Away With Friends

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________________________________________________________________

MOTHER PREPARATION:

Note to Father:

Hey honey,

So, just to review:
I have a babysitter for you for all three days that I am away.

I have a list of each child’s activities for every hour of each day that I’m away. The list is printed and posted in every room of the house, and is referred to as “Section A” in the binder that is on your desk.

I have pre-packed three days of lunches for school.

I have pre-made dinners for all of you. They are in the freezer with sticky notes identifying whose dinner it is and for which date.

In “Section B” of the binder, I have my flight information. I also have hotel information and my weekend itinerary. I also have the names and cell phone numbers of all of the girls that I am traveling with.

“Section C” of the binder has all of our emergency numbers and contacts, including their pediatrician, dentist and poison control.

I would like to please ask you to look for things thoroughly before you frantically text/call me.

Here are some answers to your questions in advance:

It’s in the drawer.

Same place it always is.

There is a note with all of this information.

I don’t know where you put the note. I’m not home.

And for the kids, please forward these answers:

I can’t help you.
Please ask Daddy.
Well, wake him up.

______________________________________________________________

FATHER PREPARATION:

(blank page)

_________________________________________________________________

Be sure to read one of the funiest books of the year!  “Mom On The Road”

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Road-Allyson-Ochs-Primack/dp/1507809557/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433899285&sr=8-1&keywords=mom+on+the+road

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Letter To The Editor

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Dear Editors of Fashion Catalogues,

I have never written a letter to an editor before today.  In fact, the letters to editors sections of magazines have always fascinated and horrified me at the same time.  Are there actually people out there who have time in their day to write a note to People Magazine telling them “Britney Spears looks great!  I’m so happy that she’s doing better.  Go get ’em Britney!”  And they are so proud of their happiness for people they don’t know that they give us their full name and city so that if you see them in the store you can shout to them, “Hey!  I’m so happy for Britney too!  High five!”

However, I am so frustrated lately that I must send this mass email to all of you out there who put out fashion catalogues and send them to my house.  Listen, I don’t know how you got my address.  I might have shopped at your store once but I don’t believe I gave you all of my personal information when I bought a bra from you ten years ago.  Even so, how do you know that I moved?  I have lived in 7 houses in the last 20 years.  How do you keep finding me?

But that’s not really the problem.  I enjoy the catalogs because they are good toilet reading. I’m pretty sure the men in my house enjoy them for other reasons.

I’m a 43 year old woman.  I have had 3 children.  I have cellulite and flabby arms. I’ve got a tummy and an ample tush.  Things are drooping over here.

So, if you are going to put out a mailer with suggested outfits for me, please don’t put said outfits on teenagers.  Or even 20-some-year old women.  I don’t look like anything like these models. They surely don’t look like me.

The outfits that these companies manufacture may, in fact, come in my size.  But that doesn’t mean that they will look good on me.  Let’s be honest: these clothes don’t look good on the majority of women past the age of 40; not the long, flowy dresses that are made for tall skinny models that end up looking like a maternity dress on me; not the skin-tight running shorts that are so short I can wear them to a colonoscopy and keep them on during the entire procedure; and not these wacky jumpsuits that make me look like I am in that Shelly Long movie about camping from the 1980s. We do not wear giant floppy hats because we cannot see when we are driving carpool (which is what we do about 90% of the time). We do not normally wear pigtails because we look like we are making an extremely pathetic attempt to look like a sexy porn star.

Most of my favorite stores that used to carry clothes that flattered my aging body have recently turned on me and have started to cater towards girls who are 15 (I’m talking to you, Lulu Lemon.) Some of these great stores try to throw in an outfit for the older set, but they are usually giant sweater-sets and “slacks” or horrible mumus that look good on no one except for Barbra Streisand in “Meet The Fockers.”

We don’t want to wear peach-colored jeans (Anthropolgie); we don’t want to wear workout shorts that give us camel toe (Athleta); and we don’t want to wear “casual” clothes that make us look like we are about to go to a funeral, to temple, or to a court hearing (Ann Taylor).

Please, people.  Don’t send me these catalogues anymore.  Send them to my daughter.  She is 12, and would probably look adorable in everything you sell.  And now that you know my age, don’t start sending me “older-women” catalogues for stores like Chico’s or JC Penney.  I’m not ready for that just yet.

If you can find a store that makes clothes for me, great.  Send me their catalogues.  I am still waiting for the one store that carries flattering clothes for women in their 40s (and don’t suggest “White House, Black Market.”  They are misleading the public because they are now selling clothes that are not just black and white.  And by the way, most women over the age of 40 do not look good in white.)

Until then, I will keep reading my People Magazine and obsessing about the people behind those editorial letters.  They may feel the need to let the entire world know the fact that 30 years ago they met a recently deceased actress for 5 minutes at the grocery store and that she was “very nice.” They may take an hour out of their day to let America know how very disappointed they are that their favorite poet was not included in the “Sexiest Man Alive” Issue. But at least they are telling us the truth.  

And that’s a lot more than I can say for Banana Republic.

“Mom On The Road”-Honorable Mention at New York Book Festival http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Road-Allyson-Ochs-Primack/dp/1507809557/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433899285&sr=8-1&keywords=mom+on+the+road

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My first interview…..

Having a little trouble taking myself seriously…..

http://mrsmommybooknerd.blogspot.com/2015/05/mmbbr-showcase-mom-on-road-february-13.html

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Notice of Resignation

May 27, 2015

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: NOTICE OF RESIGNATION

Dear Sir,

I regret to inform you that as of today, I am tendering my resignation. I have really appreciated the opportunity that you have given me these past fourteen years in my current position.

When I first got hired back in 2001, the job seemed so exciting. It was something brand-new that I had never done before. As I grew up, I saw so many people do it.  They made it seem so easy and fun. I envied their position and dreamed of the day that I, too, would be given the job.

At the beginning, the learning curve was huge.  I was surprised at the amount of sleepless nights, stress, and confusion that I experienced.  I never knew if I was doing it right.  I felt that the work never ended.  I was truly working 24/7.  But I loved the work product.  It was very rewarding to see the amount of growth and change in what I was working so hard to build. There was so much gratification and love in my workplace. I got hugs, kisses, snuggles, and little love notes.  There were several essays and stories written about me.  The theme was always how I was “the best ever.”

As I entered my twelfth year on the job, I started to notice little changes in my work. The thank you’s slowly stopped.  If I heard one, it was often accompanied by sarcasm, as if the person was being forced to say it.  There was anger and frustration everywhere I looked. The work become increasingly demanding. Doors were constantly slammed and there was mess everywhere I looked.  I swear I kept hearing people mumbling “I hate you” and “You’re so stupid.”  I know I was not imagining it.

I began to feel like I was being taken for granted. No one said hello to me unless they wanted something from me. I was blamed when things went wrong, even when I wasn’t there.

As year thirteen rolled around, I was so stressed out that I started drinking. I gained weight from stress eating late at night. I sampled all the illegal drugs that I never tried in college. I tried to run away and create a new identity for myself.  No matter how hard I begged, they would not let me into the witness protection program. I tried to check myself into a mental hospital, but they told me that what I had was not a medical condition.  It was merely a hostile working environment.

My paycheck got smaller. In fact, it was actually costing me money.  I just stood there each day and handed out money to people that didn’t work nearly as hard as I did.  No matter what I did, it was never enough.  They just wanted more and more from me until I had nothing left for myself.

The technology that exists today is making it worse. Everyone around me is so wrapped up in their phones and on their computers. When I began this job, I had the feeling that it was me helping change the world. Now, I feel I am just merely in everyone’s way: blocking the screen.

I thought it would get easier as the years went on.  I thought that I would worry less and sleep more.  Instead, it is getting harder each day.  It is actually becoming more stressful.  I thought I would finally have the answers to all of their questions.  Instead, they come up with new ones that I have never heard before.  Some of them have no answers.

I am just not qualified to do this anymore.  Maybe I’m too old.  Plus, I’m really, really tired.  I need some sleep.

And so, I tearfully resign my job as mother of these teenage children.  I will give a two week notice so you can hire someone to replace me.  I would be glad to help you find someone.  I noticed a lion tamer at the zoo who looked like he was ready for a change of pace.  Maybe a prison warden looking for some more challenging work?

PLEASE NOTE: I will remain a part time employee for my youngest project.  It is only 7 years old and it still seems to want me around for things other than money or a ride somewhere.

Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity.
Signed,
Momontour

i-quit

Mom On The Road
by Allyson Ochs Primack
Link: http://amzn.com/1507809557

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Moving On From The Middle

On my very first day of high school in September of 1985, I wore the outfit I had planned out for months.  I wore a lovely yellow and black paisley blouse and a pair of very snazzy black stretch pants.  The blouse was accented with a very thick black belt ( belted and cinched exactly as Adam Sandler had described in his “Gap girl” portrayal on SNL) and my pants can only be described as riding pants that would be very handy today if I  needed to ride a horse.  My unruly curly hair was pulled away from my face with an apparatus that people now use to close up Doritos but at the time was actually called a “chip clip.”  (Not to be confused with the banana clip, which I wore almost every day for the remainder of the 1980s. )

Beyond the outfit, I had absolutely no other plans for what to do once I got to high school.  I had no older siblings or cousins to look to for advice.  The only people I knew who went to high school were my babysitters and kids in my neighborhood that I was afraid to talk to because they smoked cigarettes in the park at night.  In the ’80s, there was no internet for me to look to for what to expect in high school.  (I had heard about an elevator pass that might be sold to me in the hall, and I was told to avoid purchasing one.)

My favorite movie about high school was “The Last American Virgin” which, in retrospect, was mostly about drinking, sex, REO Speedwagon and abortions.  (Themes, ironically, also present in my other favorite high school movie of the ’80s: “Fast Times At Ridgemont High.”)  T.V. shows were also not helpful.  The only shows about high school made me wish I lived in Beverly Hills, 90210 or that I would have moved there with my former elementary schoolmate Elizabeth Berkley so that I could end have ended up on Saved By The Bell instead of her.

Even the music at the time told me limited information about surviving high school, except that I must fight for my right to party and that it was possible that one of the pretty “angel-like” girls I was friends with could end up a centerfold.  Also, there were going to be female teachers that the boys were going to be hot for that I shouldn’t stand so close to the male teachers.

Perhaps all of this is to blame for the fact that I wore that yellow and black paisley cinched and belted horse-riding outfit a lot my freshman year.  And also that I continued to wander around wondering if someone was going to sell me an elevator pass or try to smoke cigarettes with me in the park for the next four years.

At some point this past year, I realized that next year, I would be the parent of a high-schooler.  I went through all of the cycles of grief: anger, denial, and then, of course, pondering kidnapping my children and floating away on a raft forever and starting my own society like Harrison Ford did in that one movie.

When I realized that (a) there would be no internet and (b) I am not good at sewing new clothes for my children out of stray material and (c) I might not be able to find Swedish Fish during my PMS cravings on my island, I decided that I must face the harsh reality that my oldest son Sam was going to high school.

So, I started making a list of all of the things I wanted him to know about making it through high school.  It started as a blog, but it became an incredibly long stream of consciousness that was so unlike me.  I then journeyed 10,000 miles to my closest still-open Barnes and Noble and searched on Amazon for a graduation book that might give him great advice on the topic of surviving high school.  I found graduation books for high school grads and college grads, but nothing for the middle school grad.

Then, I texted all of my friends to see what they would advise their own kids about high school “dos and don’ts.”  Friends with kids in college, high school, and middle school sent me so many amazing tips and suggestions that I knew I had my next project.

And so, “Moving On From The Middle: To __________ On Your Graduation From Junior High School” was born.  Filled with advice and suggestions, I am so excited to give it to Sam at his middle school graduation this week.

But there was one more element I wanted to add to this little gem of a book.  Sam has been able to thrive thus far in his life because of the existence of theatre in his life.  It has brought him through middle school with confidence, and will hopefully grow with him throughout high school.  And so, I decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to the non-profit that I run, “The Audrey Johnson Theatre Foundation,” so that other children will always have the same opportunities that he had to see and be a part of live theatre growing up.

And so… starting tomorrow, this little book will be available for purchase.  It will only be available as an actual book, because I want the kids who own it to be able to keep it tucked away and take it with them in case they need a friend.  There are pages at the end for you to fill in your own advice to your kids/nieces/nephews/grandchildren, since I know there is more amazing information that you may want to share in your own words.

Best of all, it comes with a photo of me on the back cover from my freshman high school yearbook.

And guess what I’m wearing……
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