No Words

I met her in a music class about 13 years ago.  The class was for new parents, and we were both there with our firstborns.  I thought she was great, and we became fast friends. Our husbands liked each other too, and we all spent time together as each of our families grew.  For the next several years, we celebrated life’s milestones together (we each had two more children.)  We were part of the same community of friends and our children went to preschool together. And then, slowly, time got away from us.  Our kids got older and busier. We lived in different parts of town.  Our children went to different schools and had very different interests.  Each of us led very busy lives.  And so, we had lunch when we could. We phoned and talked when time allowed.  We stayed in touch as best as we could. And then, she was diagnosed with cancer.  I heard the news and I called her. For the next 8 months, I checked on her. I spoke with her and texted her. I brought her dinner and cozy socks.  She was very sick from the chemo, and yet was just as dedicated and hard-working of a mother as the day I met her.

A few weeks ago, I realized that her son was in my daughter’s math class.  Her kids had just enrolled in our school.  My Lauren and her Jack didn’t remember each other. They didn’t know that they were preschool buddies, constantly playing together in one of our backyards or swinging together on the preschool playground. Yet here they were together again as tall, prepubescent, curious seventh graders. I meant to tell her. Every day, I wanted to text her with the news. Every day, I thought about it.  It had been a few weeks since I checked in.  I had recently sent her birthday wishes and she thanked me and told me what a wonderful birthday she had shared with her family. I meant to write back something positive and encouraging. I wanted to write something really important. And then, I got busy and I somehow just didn’t.

And then, a few days ago, she died. It was a shock to everyone in our community, even though deep down we all knew it was going to happen one day. Deep in my heart I knew. But I don’t know why I didn’t text her back.  I don’t know how I forgot, especially with all the things that I know and with all the things that I have seen.

I have seen way too much sudden death in my life so far.  My grandmother went to her doctor for her yearly checkup and was given a clean bill of health. The next week, she slumped over and died in the car on the way to Florida. A few years later, my otherwise healthy grandpa died in his sleep.  In high school, I saw a teenage friend make his very first basket at a school basketball game and then die an hour later in the locker room.  I saw friends’ siblings die in car accidents. During my freshman year of college, I saw a vibrant young friend go to sleep one night and never wake up.  I saw my friend’s father, brother and husband die from sudden and shocking deaths all within a few years of each other. She, too, died of cancer a few years later.  I saw my co-worker lose his 4-year old little boy to cancer and saw another friend bury her daughter after on her 12th birthday after a car accident that killed her on the way to her birthday party. I watched on t.v. as thousands of people left their homes on September 11 and never came home.  I have watched as good friends have had to suddenly say goodbye to their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands.  I have watched on television the anguish of parents whose children went to school one day and never came home. I have read about and have known people that have boarded airplanes that never landed.  I have seen it all.  And yet.  I forgot to text her back.

I hope that at her funeral tomorrow, I will once again remember how quickly life can change.  I hope that I will have the right words to say to comfort them, and to all of the people in our community who loved her.  I hope that I will always remind myself not to forget to say what I am thinking. I hope that I will always speak up when I see things that make me angry.  I hope that I will never be afraid to warn those that are in danger, and to fight for what I think is right.  I hope that I will be able teach my children all of the things that I want them to know. I hope that I will tell the people in my life how much I love them.  I hope that I will never again forget to check on a friend. Or to tell them a funny story. Or to say how much they mattered to me.

Because in the end, for me, it will not be the things that I did say that I will regret. It will be the things that I didn’t say.

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Sweatpants and High Heels

This school year, I have three children in three different schools. One in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. We live in Arizona, where we are “proud” to be #48/50 in the nation for the quality of our public schools. (And #50 in spending per pupil!) My kids are in two completely different school districts.  Everyone here has taken advantage of the open enrollment policy here, picking and choosing which are the “least worst” schools to send our children to. We spend a lot of time in our cars driving our children to schools all over town.  (Please note: we do have neighborhood schools.  It’s just that no one who lives in their neighborhoods will go to their own school.  They go to schools in different neighborhoods.)

Often, I drive my kids to school in my pajamas. Most of the time, I am overwhelmed and stressed out when I leave the house at 7 a.m. for my one-hour morning school-drop-off-drive. I don’t brush my hair (or my teeth) I can never find my shoes. It is very, very likely that I will be driving in sweatpants and high heels.

Last year, on my way home from school drop-off, I witnessed a horrific car accident. Forgetting what I was wearing, I bolted out of the car to see if the driver was o.k. So, on the main drag of Scottsdale, Arizona, I ran down Scottsdale road, hair askew, wearing my favorite “M & M” flannel sweatpants from Target, and my high-heeled wedge sandals from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Today, I was caught in a traffic jam on the way to drop off child #3 at school. Seeing a small gap in traffic, I sped up to a hefty 35 mph in a 25 mph area several blocks from our school. I was immediately pulled over by a motorcycle police officer hiding in a bush. While blocking traffic, he explained to me that he pulled me over because I was “at the head of the line of cars” and that “I set the tone of traffic. “ Since I was going a little fast, the people behind me felt that they could do it too.

I was the traffic trend-setter, and I was setting a bad example.

After he gleefully gave me a ticket and jumped up and down yelled out “cha ching!,” to his fellow motorcycle officer hiding in the next bush, I turned to him and took a deep breath. I calmly explained to him that adults make their own decisions. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would he jump too? I drive down the expressway here four times a day and constantly see people going 95/55 right in front of me. I don’t follow suit because I have realized that it is the trendy thing to do. He again told me that I was the traffic leader, and that those speeding behind me were just doing what they were told to do subconsciously by me.

And so, today I am joyful upon learning that I have magical powers of influence. I am a trendsetter. I can make other grown adults do exactly what I am doing. Just by driving my dirt-covered dark cherry mini-van a tiny bit fast in a non-school zone, I can convince total strangers to do the same. Wow! So then it got me thinking, what else can I convince people to do? With great power comes great responsibility, right?

Well, folks, close your eyes, and please listen to me: I hereby will you all to do the following:

Voters- Please stop encouraging Donald Trump-he literally might win the Presidential race and we are all going to have to start blaming all of the world’s problems on people of Mexican descent and on women who “bleed.”

Store Owners-Stop asking me if I am in your “system-“ I’m not and I don’t want to be. I don’t want your shopping “points” and I am only going to give you a fake email address.

Parents-Please don’t let your child start college until they are old enough to drive-better yet-let them just be kids.

Police Officers who say they are patrolling school zones to help “direct traffic,” stop saying that. We know what you are doing there.

Jared Fogle-please look up Josh Duggar in the phone book. You are going to need a celebrity pal you can relate to.

Celebrities-stop breaking up. It’s making me so sad to see all of you going your separate ways. It’s heartbreaking to think that a woman who continually gets pregnant by a man who tells her over and over on national television he doesn’t want children with her can’t physically force him to stay with her for the ratings. Can anyone make it if they can’t?

Well, I’m off to go convince more strangers to copy my every move. According to the Scottsdale police, I am very, very powerful. I am mesmerizing.

Perhaps it’s the sweatpants and high heels.

Georgia

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The Writing Games

I spent this past weekend attending my very first writer’s conference in New York City. After spending the last fifteen years as a criminal defense attorney, I have decided to give writing a shot. At age 43, writing is my “Act Two” career. I signed up for the conference so that I could learn about current writing techniques, trends and opportunities. Although I was an English minor in college, I was right to assume that a lot of things have changed in the writing world since I graduated college in 1993.

I wrote a book about a fictionalized version of myself: a 43 year old women who is struggling to find the balance between her desire to blog about her life with the privacy that her family feels that she is violating. When discussing our books with potential literary agents at the conference, we had to first identify which genre our book would fall into a bookstore or online. Simply declaring a book as “women’s fiction” isn’t enough these days for most agents. Women now have lots of sub-genres to choose from, although women’s mystery, erotica, science fiction, historical fiction, and dystopian novels are what’s really hot right now.

The best way to identify the genre is to look at the setting, characters and story. My new book is set right now, in the year 2015. The characters are all human, and have emotions and thoughts. Most of the dialogue is humorous, although voices are sometimes raised in anger and several characters admit fears and sadness. The book has does have erotica, but since the narrator has been married for 15 years, it’s mostly described as things that happened in the past. There is a mystery involved, but no one is kidnapped or murdered. The mystery, instead, is how men can remember the names of hundreds of professional athletes from the past 40 years and the positions that they all played, but have no memory of a conversation that he had with his wife the night before. There is science fiction in the form of bodies being completely taken over by foreign objects, although this story is about a formerly young woman suddenly morphing into an old lady. She is not being transformed by aliens from outer space (although it often feels that way to her.) She does’t recognize herself in the mirror, but there has been no invasion of the body snatchers. It’s her in there- just a much older version of who she used to be.

As I heard more and more authors, publishers and editors talk about the popularity of the new types of books for women over the weekend, I knew I needed to do something drastic. I have decided to completely change my book to fit one of these cool new genres.

And so, here instead, is the proposal to my new novel. It is from the “dystopian” genre and it is called, “The Treadmill Runner.”

Our main character is named Catnap Everclean. She’s a 43 year old woman living in the year 2515. Catnap has brown curly hair and a pretty face, and, depending on the store, she usually can wear a size 8-10. She’s medium height, medium build, and medium shirt size.

Catnap is part of the new world, in which women are divided into three factions: “First Wife,” “Trophy Wife,” and “Confident Unmarried Career Gal.” As they grow up, women are taught the basics of each of the three factions. First Wives are “cute” and want a life that includes both a career and a family. Trophy Wives are “beautiful” and want to take away someone else’s life and their family. Confident Unmarried Career Gals are “ugly” and know that they will never find a man so they will have to support themselves when they get older.

When the women graduate college, they are all brought into “The Reckoning.” Led by Society, the women are then chosen to be placed into one of the three factions. The women all hope to get placed in a faction that suits their personality, but ultimately, Society decides who they are. They have no choice in the matter. Society creates these strict stereotypical factions without allowing for anyone to be divergent within her faction. From that point on, they each go on to basic training, whee they are taught the survival skills of their faction.

The First Wives are taught how to completely give up their careers once they become mothers. The Husbands will come in and teach the First Wives special classes on how to properly react when they claim that they didn’t hear the baby screaming all night. The Husbands will instruct them how to be supportive and understanding when they fall asleep on the couch after dinner and throughout bedtime, but are wide awake at 10:00 p.m. when they realize that they want sex. The First Wife is never tired or resentful, and is never allowed to show any fluctuating emotions at any time of the month. The First Wife will lose all of the baby weight right away. They are allowed to be cute and attractive, but never sexy. They are publicly friends with First Wives only, although they may hang out with the Unmarried Career Gals in secret.

They will learn from other First Wives how to successfully helicopter parent, and to make sure that their children are the “best.” They are to insist that their child be in all advanced classes at school, and force them to choose an after-school activity that takes up all of their spare time. They are told that in order to survive, their own children must be stressed out all the time: with homework, testing, and the quest for perfection. They will brag about their happy family on social media, and will not show any weakness amongst other First Wives.

The Trophy Wives are selected solely by the Husbands. They shall always be tall, blonde, and skinny. They are allowed to be both smart and sexy. They do not need to bear any children for the Husband, and can keep their careers for as long as they want. They shall share in and inherit all of the money from the Husband. They will be shunned by the other faction of women, and thereby will only be able to befriend those within their own faction.

The Confident Unmarried Career Gal is allowed no happiness at all. She shall always feel as though she is not truly a woman. She may have the job of her dreams and live in a home that she purchased and paid for on her own, but she must always feel sad that she didn’t marry. She is publicly shamed for not bearing any children. She listens to her First Wife friends complain in secret about their Husbands and Children, but she cannot discuss anything positive with them about her own life. She must always appear to be devastated that she was not chosen to be a “Wife.”

Catnap Everclean is chosen to be a First Wife. She tries to take her sister’s place as an Unmarried, but Society would not let her.

One day, Catnap decides that she is fed up with her chosen faction. She doesn’t want to be like the other First Wives. She stops giving her children a false sense of success, and opts out of honor classes for them. She decides to go back to work. She stops trying so hard to be skinny because she really loves food. She publicly befriends women from the other factions. Her husband annoys her and she tells him so, in public. She forces her children off of the computer and tells them to play outside. She tells them about her childhood in “the other world” when there was no internet.

Society is angry. They don’t want her to leave her faction and they label her “Divergent.” She is taken away by psychiatrists to be heavily medicated by anti-depressants. She is then returned to her faction. She is warned never to talk to her children about the 1970s or the 1980s again.

But something interesting happens. Other First Wives, who hear of Catnap’s rebellion, start to rebel as well. They throw away their yoga pants and put on “real clothing” as a symbol of their rebellion. They stop hovering around their children’s schools. They read the newspaper and begin to argue with their husbands about politics.

Then the Trophy Wives start to rebel. They want children of their own. They would like to stop dressing so sexy all of the time. They stop dying their hair blonde. They are tired of taking all of the blame from the First Wives, and would like to be taken seriously. They start to become friends with women of all Factions.

The Career Gals, too, become Divergent. They publicly express their joy about their freedom to date all different types of men, their ability to go on exotic vacations, and their lifestyle which allows them to sleep in as late as they want to on weekends.

Society is horrified. The women are causing chaos to its structure and order. The Husbands destroy and replace the First and Second Wives. They create a new category, “The Third Wives,” who, by the end of their training, will have no independent ability to think or speak at all. The Unmarried Careers are forced into hiding. Society begins all over again. All is peaceful until the end of the novel, with a hint about the book’s sequel: “The No One Loses Games.”

Sneak peek at the sequel: Their mothers are gone. No one will make the world a perfect place for them anyone. They must survive without their moms. They weren’t raised to lose. They have no coping mechanisms. They know all about advanced algebra, but they have no idea how to act in social situations. How will they live without someone to make it all work out for them? How will they deal with Society? How will Society deal with them? Stay tuned for the next exciting and suspenseful book in our series when the “Overscheduled Children” take over the world.

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Back To School For Benjamin Button

Here in Arizona, where nothing makes sense-not our weather nor our politics, nor the majority of our laws-we like to be consistent in our wackiness by starting school the first week of August. Yes, just as it hits 115 degrees, we saddle our kids up with book-filled backpacks, lunch boxes and school supplies and send them off to walk several blocks to begin a new year of learning. (Don’t worry: the kids still get recess. They get to go into a “cool room,” which is essentially another classroom with air conditioning.)

As I prepare my three children for their upcoming school year, I am overcome with the usual emotions: sadness that they are growing up, gleefulness that I am done entertaining them for the summer, and excitement for what this year will hold. But this year, I have found myself struggling with a surprising new emotion: jealousy.

I have found myself jealous of their numerous opportunities to learn. I am incredibly envious of the novels they are reading for language arts, the countries they are going to learn about in social studies, and the wars and political topics that they will study in history. (Though I am not, in any way, shape or form, the least bit jealous of anything they will learn having to do with math.)

I was always fascinated by the concept presented in the movie (and short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald) “The Curious Life of Benjamin Button” and also depicted in the novel, ” The Confessions of Max Tivoli” by Andrew Sean Greer. In both of these stories, a man is born old (appearing on the outside as a wrinkly old man) and grows younger and more handsome as he becomes older. His thoughts and ideas get more inspired as he gets older, instead of the usual notion that people grow more jaded and less enthusiastic about life as they head into adulthood.

I believe that I am experiencing a curious life myself. When I grew up, I didn’t really enjoy learning. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the social aspects of being at school-especially in high school and college, but I was never interested in most of what I was being taught. The majority of the information was so foreign to me: why did I need to learn about ancient battles fought thousands of years ago? Who cares about the geological structure of the Earth? What does the study of genetics have to do with me?

As I grew older, I earned various degrees and tried out numerous careers. I earned an undergraduate degree in teaching and a juris doctorate from law school. I taught school and I practiced law (in two different states.) I owned a stationery company and volunteered with charitable organizations. I worked in retail and at waitressed at restaurants. I tried my hand at theatre and dance. I even started a non-profit organization of my own.

Through each chapter of my life, I learned a little bit about myself. I figured out what interests me and what does not. I read the newspaper every day, and figured out which sections were my favorite. And now, at the age of 43, I want to learn it all.

I want to know all about the history of the Middle East so that I can understand what I see happening there today. I am fascinated by the political process, and want to learn how the upcoming presidential election has been shaped by all of our previous elections. I love reading books, especially historical fiction (give me a novel about the life of Anne Boleyn and I will disappear for days.) I need to understand the science of genetics and the human body so that I am fully informed about today’s potential health issues. I want to know about global warming, geological discoveries and the latest technological and scientific breakthroughs.

None of this interested me when I was 12, or 15 or 21. And really, that’s o.k. My peers and I had not had any of the life experiences at that point to understand why these subjects really mattered to our own lives. We had no context to know that the history, science and geography of our world would one day become essential knowledge when we became adults. We had no way of knowing that reading books like “Jane Eyre” or “The Great Gatsby” would be vitally important to a better understanding of the popular culture of today.

My least favorite class in high school was typing. “Why,” I complained to my parents, “do I need to learn how to properly place my hands on a keyboard? What good will ever come of having speed-typing skills?” How could I or anyone have known in 1989 that our entire lives in the year 2015 would depend on the knowledge of correct keyboard finger placement?

After all of these years of trying out various jobs and careers, I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a writer. There is so much to learn. I am taking classes to learn about editing and publishing, and of the important of a three act story structure (a captivating beginning, a riveting middle, and an exciting, yet satisfying, conclusion.)

Looking back, I realize now that my most fulfilling moments in school involved me having to write some sort of an assigned essay. I did enjoy my creative writing classes, a lot. Talking about proper grammar makes me strangely excited. But I wouldn’t have known then that it would be my chosen field. I had way too much curiosity about and interest in exploring other career possibilities. It was important for me to try them all out. I needed to sample each one of them to ultimately figure out my real and true passion. (This is also how I feel about dating, but that’s a whole different topic.)

Just like Benjamin Button and Max Tivoli, I needed to grow older to get more passionate about life. As I have aged on the outside, I have grown younger and younger on the inside. I am so much more excited about life now, that the end is nearing, than I was when I had so many years ahead of me.

So, yeah, I’m jealous of my kids as they head back to school. But I won’t tell them that today, because it won’t make any sense. Instead, I’ll sit by them as they read about World War II and the Holocaust and tell them how interesting it is to me. They, in turn, will roll their eyes at me and tell me how boring it is, just as I told my own parents when I was their age.

Maybe I’ll learn by reading their books over their shoulders or helping them study for tests. As they memorize how to spell or read words that they don’t think they will ever use in “real life,” I’ll tuck that knowledge away for the next time I sit down to write.

Just like the stories about Benjamin Button and Max Tivoli tell us, there’s nothing we can do to stop a person from aging backwards. But, if it turns out that we ourselves are one of the lucky people suffering from this mysterious condition, we should try to make the most of our lives. Instead of hiding ourselves from the world, we need to embrace who we are. We must openly and honestly celebrate this newfound enthusiasm for life.

After all, there’s no telling when our own life story will end. As I have learned, the best we can do is keep the reader interested until the very last page.

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5 Reasons Why It Makes Perfect Sense that Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield Are In A Movie Together

I first saw the movie trailer a few months ago.  I think I was seeing “Pitch Perfect 2” that night. The preview for “Rikki and the Flash” had me smiling from the get-go: Meryl Streep playing an aging rock-star who comes home to the family she left behind when her daughter’s marriage falls apart.  Meryl’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer (who is great on my favorite show “The Good Wife”) plays her daughter in the movie.  Kevin Kline plays her ex-husband.  I love Kevin Kline. He was in my favorite movie of all time: “The Big Chill.”  Audra McDonald is in it too, and I know that she’s a really good actress because I listen to the Broadway Channel on Sirius XM Radio and I have also seen her on the Tonys.  She wins a lot of Tony Awards.  

And then, it happened.  Towards the end of the trailer, Rick Springfield appears on the screen as Meryl’s love interest.  They are kissing in bed and grinding each other up against a parked car. He gives her motivational speeches on how to be a good parent.  They both have long, stringy hair with what appear to be beads dangling from the bottom.

I was dazed and confused.  It made no sense.  Oscar-winner Meryl Streep is cuddling in bed with Dr. Noah Drake/Eli Love from General Hospital? Is something wrong with the projector at this movie theatre? Did I take an Ambien before I went to the movies? Am I actually asleep? If so, this is one of the strangest drug-induced dreams I have ever had.

But no, it was real. I was awake. I went through all the phases of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. Two worlds had collided. The only situation I could only possibly compare to this strange mash-up would be a scenario in which my middle school crush would meet my spouse.  One fella existed in the same part of my brain as all of the other fun memories I had of being young and carefree; and the other was my husband.  Both men are the exact same age, yet they each occupy different parts in my head.

Since this time, I have had some time to process this pairing. After careful consideration, I believe I have finally made peace with it.  You see, Meryl and Rick do have some things in common.  And while it wasn’t immediately apparent to me, I now understand how they can be co-stars in a film.

1. Rick Springfield started on “General Hospital” in 1981. So did Demi Moore. Both Rick and Demi remained on that show until 1983. Demi Moore married Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis was in a movie with Meryl Streep called “Death Becomes Her.” Therefore, Rick and Meryl have both acted with one of the parents of Rumer Willis.

2. They were each movie stars around 1985. In 1985, Meryl was in a movie called “Out of Africa” which won the Academy Award for best picture. At around the same time, Rick was in a movie called “Hard To Hold.” It had a 2.5/5 star rating on IMBD and has been called “hard to watch.”

3. Meryl Streep was in the movie “Mama Mia” based on the songs of Abba. Rick Springfield’s song “The Power of Love” was featured on a 1989 compilation of love songs called “The Love Collection Volume 4.” This same Collection also features “The Winner Takes All,” a song by Abba.

4. They both love the preposition “..Of the Heart.” Meryl was in a movie called “Music Of The Heart.” One of Rick’s most popular songs is called “Affair Of The Heart.”

5. Rick’s most famous song is “Jessie’s Girl” about an unnamed woman torn between two men: her boyfriend Jessie and his best friend, who harbors a secret crush on her. Meryl’s most famous movie is “Sophie’s Choice,” about a woman who has to choose which one of her children will die at a concentration camp during the Holocaust.

And so, I am now ready to accept the Meryl/Rick coupling. Just like that middle school crush of mine, I must accept that while I will always picture him on a rollerskating rink with a comb in his back pocket, I could also totally imagine him at a business dinner with my husband.

And just like the movie, I’m not really sure that I would want to be there to see them together.

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Shark Tank

Hello Sharks.

My name is Allyson Primack and I am here today looking for investors who are ready to make some serious money.  I am seeking one billion dollars in exchange for 10 % of my company.

Have you ever gotten together with a bunch of 40-year old friends? The laughter is flowing and you are all wearing adorable outfits.  You want to preserve the special moment with a photograph but forgot to bring along a photographer, or an extra friend that no one really likes.  You want the photo to be special.  You want to capture this private moment amongst friends, and then share it on social media with thousands of people that you don’t really know.

No one owns a camera, so you have no choice but to take a picture on your iPhone.  You all want to be in the picture together, and you attempt a selfie.  “Oooh, that’s too close-up!” someone exclaims.

Next, you try to balance your phone on a chair, and set the timer to get a good shot of the whole gang.  Someone suggests that everyone scrunch in so that you are all in the picture.  “I want to stand in the back!” someone shouts.  “Well, I’m not crouching down,” yells another.

The situation seems hopeless.

Enter… “The Over 40 Traveling Photographer for the iPhone!” It’s simple.  When someone in the group finally realizes that you’ll never get a “post-able” photo, you simple press the numbers “40” on your iPhone.  Instantly, your over 40 traveling photographer will appear, no matter where you are.

In a matter of moments, your photographer will set up the perfect “over 40” design concept.  He will stand at an elevated level that is much higher than all of you.  His expert angle will make sure that every single one of you get in the photo, and that no one will have to bend their bodies in any way.  Everyone knows that the key to a successful “post-able” photo post-40 is to stand as straight as possible!!!

Your photographer comes with a full lighting design, which will include our trademark NNS (No Natural Sunlight) Lighting.  His design comes with very, very dim indoor lighting, and we guarantee an image so blurry so that everyone’s skin will appear flawless.  No wrinkles or crow’s feet for this crowd.  No one has aged a bit!

Before he is done, everyone will get a chance to approve the photo.  During the editing process, he can crop the photo to remove arm or neck fat, and for an extra fee, he can blur the photo even more!

Meet our client Momontour.  She needed a headshot for an upcoming article being written about her in one of her all-time favorite newspapers.  The article’s author attempted to take a photograph of her during the interview. Momontour refused, and assured the author she’d have a photo to her by the end of the day.  Momontour rushed home, immediately called a friend to come over and take the photo.  The friend was too short, and the pictures were all wrong.

Enter the “Over 40 Photographer!”  He quickly moved the photo shoot indoors.  He some added some props like a book and a chair.  He carefully placed the books over Momontour’s muffin top, brazenly stood on top of a bed piled high with pillows, and was so far enough away he was almost in the next room.  After moving lamps all around the room, he achieved a lighting design so fabulous she almost looked like she was only 39.  The photos were so blurry and so far away she couldn’t decide which one to use for the article!

The Polaroid Generation is ready to make their instant photos fun and flirty again!  The market is ripe and there are endless amounts of customers who are desperate for that perfect photo!

So, Sharks.. who’s ready to make those over-40 photos “Facebook-approved?”
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Narrow Sizes

When I was in high school, I worked at a woman’s shoe store.  It was a very popular store in town.  The owner, however, was not the greatest when it came to dealing with customers. He didn’t necessarily have what we here in America call great “people skills.” He got extremely frustrated when women came in asking if we carried narrow sizes.  (We did not carry narrow sizes.  Or wide sizes. So just stop asking.)

So, when women came into the store whom the staff knew were going to (a) ask for narrow or wide sizes or (b) were women whose personality really just irritated the owner, we all made sure that he was hidden away in the back of the store.  I may or may not be related to said owner, so I will say no more except that the customer service was always a little bit better when he was happily tucked away in the back (looking at the shoe store inventory or whatever he did back there to pass the time.)

I am here in my hometown for the summer.  As my children are in various camps, I have time to drive around town and ponder how things have changed since I moved away almost 20 years ago.  I drive by my old local bank and wonder if they still have 43 cents in my childhood account, since I never actually closed it out.  (That was my account balance when I last checked on it in 1995.  Has it earned interest?) I drive by my old tennis club and ponder running in to see if they ever found my tennis racquet that I lost there 28 years ago.  (I quit tennis shortly after I lost my racquet, so I do think it’s a valid question.)

I try to visit the old mall where said shoe store was located, and cannot seem to get to it as they have torn up all familiar roads and added traffic circles.  Somehow, I keep ending up at my old dermatologist’s office.  (This is probably because I went there a lot as a teenager to get my facial acne “sprayed” by frozen nitrogen, something I don’t think they can legally do to people anymore because I actually think it was meant to put out forest fires.) I look in the mirror here and realize that the midwestern humidity is making me look exactly like Judi Benjamin in “Private Benjamin” when she drops out of the army, moves to France, dyes her hair red, moves in with a Jewish doctor, and then goes crazy.

Yesterday, I took in my broken IPad to a local repair shop to repair its shattered glass  (I was attempting to ride an exercise bicycle from the 1970s in my rental home while watching a movie, when the IPad hit the built-in fan on the bike and fell to the floor.)  The man that owned the shop was, to put in mildly, extremely unpleasant.  How unpleasant?  He was “Donald Trump I don’t like Mexicans or Asians” unpleasant.

I left there in a state of shock at the way I was treated. But the more that I think about it, I don’t think that I have found good customer service anywhere in a long time.  Teenagers and young adults work the counters and retail stores just like I did, but they are so busy playing on the internet that they don’t seem to care if anyone needs help.  So many stores and restaurants have such distracted staff members that I find myself stunned when anyone actually notices that I am there.

Two of my three kids are away at sleep-away camp to “de-program” from their electronics and commune with nature (or whatever they are doing there. They are probably making out with other teens.)

As I spend my summer attempting to finish the sequel to my book, which is all about the difficulties of raising teens in the internet age, I am in no shortage of material while they are away.  Because even if I am not watching my own kids snap selfies all day long or snap-chatting on Instagram, I am slowly watching the entire world forget that anyone is in the room with them.

I wish there were people like my shoe store staff to swoop in and hide the employees that have no idea how to interact with people.  I wish there were employees everywhere whose sole job it is is to hide the owner who gets frustrated with women who want narrow sizes.  Or, in my case, to hide the person who gets frustrated when I ask how long it will take to fix my IPad.

Maybe one day the world around us will return to normal. But probably not.  Technology has made us better: it has improved exercise machinery from the days of bikes with built-in-fans and updated modern medicine to outlaw the frozen-nitrogen-spraying of humans. Technology has invented an endless amount of opportunities.

It just forgot to invent something teach us how to use this new technology and interact with people at the same time.

Loved the book? Watch for “Mom On The Road” movie coming soon to a theatre near you! (And by “soon” I mean one day in the very, very near future when a Hollywood agent picks it up from the “slush pile” without reading it and then he/she hands it off to a plucky young assistant and tells them to “see what you can do” and the assistant goes home and whips off an amazing script and gives it to her agent boss and then he or she takes it and it then it gets made into a movie. But then the agent tries to take full credit for the script and the assistant is sad until the producers of the movie realize that she wrote it and not the agent who took credit for it and the assistant is promoted to agent and the agent gets fired and ends up working for her as her assistant. The end. )

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Road-Allyson-Ochs-Primack/dp/1507809557/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436319133&sr=8-1&keywords=mom+on+the+road

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