Fail!, Life with Kids

Tales of a Fifth-Grade Nothing (with Apologies to Judy Blume)

I knew it would happen eventually. I knew that the day was going to come when my son’s math homework would render me stupid. Alas, that day has come. A couple of weeks ago Jack’s homework assignment for math was to complete a sheet of Egyptian fraction problems. Let me preface this by saying that my son is quite good at math. He enjoys it and has had no problems understanding even the ridiculousness that is “new math.” This assignment, however, had us both stumped. In the end, despite our greatest efforts, we accepted defeat and left one side of his homework undone. I wrote the following note to his teacher to explain the incomplete assignment.

Dear Ms. Alexander,

You may have noticed by now that only one side of Jack’s math homework was completed last night. After trying for several hours to figure out the Egyptian fractions I have only this to say: the ancient Egyptians are extinct for a reason. I am a writer and editor and my husband is an attorney; neither of us has the “math” gene. (Full disclosure: I only passed high school math after making a solemn promise to my very flustered senior-year math teacher that I would never again bring shame to the subject by ever taking another math class for the rest of my life.) However, our desire to help our son with his homework–and eventually our own determination to not fail at FIFTH GRADE math–had us on our respective computers last night looking for the Jedi secret to figuring how the people who brought us the Great Pyramids added their fractions. Alas, to no avail. We even went so far as to call my sister-in-law, who happens to be a fifth-grade teacher in a neighboring town. She calmly tried to walk us through it as we sat on the other end of the speaker phone, staring blankly into the ether, grunting occasionally to let her know we were still conscious.

And so, the challenge side of young Jack’s homework remains woefully blank, and we ultimately hung our heads in shame around midnight last night as we admitted defeat. And at the tender age of 10, Jack has finally learned the sad truth of it all: his parents do not, in fact, know everything about everything. Sigh.

I’m handing in my adult card today. If you need me you’ll find me in the corner, in my pajamas, nursing a cup of tea, eyes glazed over, wallowing in my own stupidity.

With respect and gratitude,

Michelle S.

Deep Thoughts, Teachable Moments

The Strange Metamorphosis of Me

For the past couple of years I’ve been dealing with some medical issues that, until now, have been a minor nuisance at best. As whatever this is has progressed, I find myself now in a strange, uncomfortable place. A place where my obsessive need for control of things in my life is being woefully ignored by some more powerful physical entity at play inside my brain, I guess. Or my spinal cord. I’m still not really clear on the exact mechanism at work here, which only serves to add to my frustration.

I slept for about an hour last night. I woke with spasms and cramps in my legs and arms and it was the pain that kept me awake. I couldn’t get comfortable and so I kept trying to reposition myself and it really can be physically exhausting to do that. So I lay awake and my mind started racing and so on top of the physical stuff, I had trouble quieting the thoughts enough to even try to sleep. It’s been a rough few weeks. The spasticity and weakness that once was confined, at least to a large extent,  to my lower legs seems to be on a progressive path and is now affecting my hips and trunk. I’m in physical therapy twice a week and we’ve been working those areas to try to maintain some strength. But my physical therapist had kind of a frank discussion with me on Monday and broached the subject of the possibility of needing additional assistance sometime in the future. That’s not something I’m willing to contemplate right now. I’ve fallen a couple of times over the last month so I’m sure that’s part of his reasoning. The falls haven’t been too bad. A few cuts and bruises but certainly nothing terrible. Balance has definitely become more of an issue. Still, I feel like if I just put the work in with physical therapy and focus on what I’m doing I can somehow figure this out. He says that’s not really how this works, but I’m thinking maybe this is a situation where my stubborn streak may come in handy. 🙂

At 44, I feel like I’m in the this awkward phase of life right now where my body is starting to degenerate unevenly. I’ve always been really healthy and so trying to get used to this has left me feeling exceptionally vulnerable, which I quite dislike. I worked my ass off to earn two black belts in two different forms of Martial Arts and a brown belt in another. I have always loved working out and feeling physically strong. And now I can barely make it across a room without using walls or furniture to keep my balance. I look down at my legs and I command my foot to move and it stares blankly at me, limp and utterly useless.

OK, even I’m bored with this nonsense now. The one thing I can do right now is maintain some defiance and snark. I will figure this thing out eventually, and until I do I’m going to do things my way. I now have to wear braces on both legs. They cover up my tattoos, which is annoying, so I had tattoos put on the braces themselves, because fuck you neurological disorder. You are not me. I will not lose my identity to you, you feckless thug. I’m so badass. Heh.


Blessings, Life is Weird, Writing

The One Where I get Optioned!

After a long year of trying to sell my work to someone who can make it come to life, I found out from the publicist today that Miramax wants to option the screenplay! I still haven’t wrapped my head around that. Miramax. Wants. To. Option. My. Screenplay.

I’m going to their offices today to sign a 6-month option contract. They have 6 months to greenlight it, or they can extend the option in 6-month increments for up to 2 years. Then I’m heading to Malibu where Greg is hosting a party to celebrate not only the Miramax victory, but the fact that Daniel and I found out that Netflix is interested in the pilot we did. They loved the idea, but they want us to scale it back because we currently have an ensemble cast of 11. They want 4. Oy. We have some major rewriting to do. But first, we celebrate!


Back to La-La Land

Heading back to LA today for a couple of weeks to work on the pilot with Daniel. Also going to do another round of pitches for the screenplay. I’m getting more comfortable in the rooms, but it’s still very intimidating to have to pitch your idea in front of a ton of people. The publicist has set up meetings with a number of studios. First up, Miramax.

Blessings, Fail!, Life with Kids

The One with the Generation Gap

I’m 44 years old, but I like to think I keep up with the times. I consider myself a cool Mom. I play loud music in the kitchen while I’m cleaning and make my kiddo dance with me. He enjoys this more than he lets on, I’m quite certain. I took my boy to see Star Wars opening weekend. I go to Comic Con. (Trust me, those things are cool). And while my generation is the last to have used telephones with cords and remember television before cable, I have kept up with and embrace modern technology. I use Facebook, I tweet, I have an Instagram account (well I downloaded the app, though I’ve not posted a single thing on it yet), I blog, I have an interest in Pinterest (see what I did there?), I’ve used Periscope, and I certainly try to keep up with the lexicon of my son’s generation. I still write and speak in full sentences, using actual words and not just letters (OMG SMH! LMAO), but I understand most text-speak. Admittedly this is a necessity at times if I want to talk to my son about how his day was. We’ve had full-on conversations using just random letters. It’s like verbal hieroglyphics. It’s bad enough when it’s text messages or email, but these kids speak in abbreviations. What the actual hell?

Anyway, in an attempt to appear cool the other day, I handed my son his snack and announced, “Here you go, bae.”

My son looked up at me in horror.

Jack: Did you just call me bae?

Me: Yes, bae.

Jack: Yeah, don’t do that.

Mom: What? It’s hip, I’m cool. That’s a hip word. (Important note: If you have to say it’s cool, it probably isn’t. Also? Saying “hip” is not cool).

Jack: Do you even know what it means?


Jack: It means baby.

Me: Well, you’re my baby, so that’s appropriate.

Jack: No, baby, like baby, sweetie…like a boyfriend/girlfriend thing.

Me: Um. You’re 9. How do even… You know what? Never mind. So, I shouldn’t use that term with you?

Aaaannnnddd cue the eye roll.

Jack: Not so much. Cool parenting fail, Mom.


The lesson here is to do a quick search on Urban Dictionary before using a new term with my son or his friends. Or, keep reaching for the stars as far looking cool in my son’s eyes and just enjoy the humiliation it brings him when my attempts result in epic fails.

Blessings, Deep Thoughts, Life with Kids, Teachable Moments

Childhood Friends

I really don’t have much to say today. I just wanted to post this picture of my son and his friend Mia. She lives behind us and she and Jack are thick as thieves. I love childhood friendships. It reminds me of my friendship with Steve, the little boy who lived across the street from us when I was growing up. Steve and I were joined at the hip as kids. Of course while we communicated via plastic walkie-talkies and two cups attached by a string, Jack and Mia have mastered the art of FaceTiming each other long after lights out. Times have changed. But the importance of childhood friends has not…

Jack and Mia
Jack and Mia








Me and Steve
Me and Steve
Blessings, Life with Kids, Totally Random

Conversations with Our 9-Year-Old

Conversations with our 9-year-old.

I overheard a conversation between Jack and Aaron the other day. It went something like this…

Jack: I want to call 911.

Dad: Why do you want to call 911?

Jack: Because I want the police to bring me a donut.

Dad: What makes you think a police officer would have donuts?

Jack: I watch TV; policemen always have donuts.

Dad: Hmm. You should ask Grandpa Tommy if he ever ate donuts while he was on duty.

Jack: Grandpa Tommy was a policeman?

Dad: Yes. You knew that. And so was his father, my grandfather.

Jack: Jeez, Dad, you broke the chain.

Dad: Well, I have a similar job, I just work in a courtroom instead of the street.

Jack ponders this for a moment then sighs plaintively and says: Do I have to do that too? Saving the world is hard work, I just want to entertain people…