Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Police at Dodger Stadium: The Good

Of the infinite number of things one could be doing on a summer night, seeing The Police play at Dodger Stadium is right up there near the top. I mean, hello? It's The Police. And they haven't toured in 20 years. And they're here. In L.A. And I got tickets. Good ones. And it's The Police. With Sting. At Dodger Stadium. Is there anything about this scenario that could possibly be less than amazing?!!!

My regular readers (all 4 of you) know by now that I'm not usually at a loss for words. But in this case, I'm having a hard time describing just how great this concert was. My brain seems to be fixating on words like "awesome," "so cool," and "phenomenal."

The evening's entertainment started out with the opening band, The Foo Fighters. Not being an enemy of Foo, I don't quite understand why it needs to be fought, so I'm not a big fan. Still it was pretty good, high-energy music and the FF fans in the crows were really into it, so it must've been great. At one point the lead Fighter jumped off the stage and waded through the crowd to the back where he climbed up some equipment and played his guitar while we all screamed. Cool stuff. Still, by the end of it we were all ready for The Police to get started.

They definitely didn't disappoint. The cool thing about seeing a band that hasn't recorded anything new in 20 years is that you don't have to sit through the crap off the new album that the concert tour is promoting. Every song is an old favorite. It was such a treat to hear hit after hit after hit with Sting's distinctive vocals. Plus, he's amazing to watch on the jumbo screen. Stewart Copeland was amazing on percussion. Drummers are just cool, and he was great (even if he is a year younger than my dad). Plus he played this strange cymbal/xylophone hybrid instrument that I'd never seen before on "Wrapped Around Your Finger". Extra cool. Andy Summers was also cool, doing his thing on the guitar, kind of not into the whole thing, just cool and aloof and sounding great. It was great to have just the three band members and nothing else onstage: no backup singers, hokey dancers, crazy acrobatics. Nothing but three great musicians playing awesome music. Here, take a listen:

Because this is a pseudo-review, I'll stick in a couple of token criticisms. First, it could've been longer, especially for what the tickets cost. A couple of songs were just missing and I was bummed. But I got over it. Second, I'd rather have heard more songs and less meandering guitar solos. Again, I'm over it. While I've been to concerts with better music, or a more elaborate stage show, or cooler lighting (that didn't cause you to practically have a seizure), everything came together so well here and it worked beautifully. Ultimately, each song sounded so good that I wished they'd play it again.

Like I mentioned, our seats were great (notwithstanding the ordeal we went through to actually get to them), some of the greatest I've ever had for a concert, thanks to the gougery of The Police Tour fan club. Our companions, my sister and her roommate, Beth, were tons of fun. Beth, who actually admitted to seeing The Police play 23 years ago, was quick with a song title and album reference when the rest of us may have been a little slower on the uptake. Our section was lots of fun, except for one ice princess that we all despised on first sight. Seriously honey, how do you go to a Police concert and manage to look so unhappy and pissed off? Her poor boyfriend. But other than her, we were surrounded by tons of happy fans, from the drunk guy a few rows ahead that looked like Newman from Seinfeld, to the girl a couple rows back that spent most of the concert giving her boyfriend a lap dance (no wonder he was happy).

This is definitely a fine and fitting way to start the Second Annual Best Summer Ever. For me, it was the fulfillment of a long-time wish to see Sting play live. I'm kind of still riding the buzz and definitely have the concert bug again. This was so worth missing my high school reunion for.

Big thanks to pancho2323 for the great photo and to papitourso for the video footage.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Police at Dodger Stadium: The Bad

A word of advice: if you find yourself injured in some way and happen to be going to Dodger Stadium, do not expect one iota of help from the unhelpful, untrained, uninformed and unsympathetic staff.

After having paid over $100 each for tickets to see The Police Saturday night, we decided to spend the extra $15 (over and above the exorbitant $20 charge for regular parking) for preferred parking, hoping to reduce the amount of walking my poor hobbling husband had to do on his dislocated and contused knee. We asked
the parking attendant which lot would be closest to our seats and were directed to the appropriate place. When we got to the entrance, we were directed to one entrance (more walking) only to be told when we got there that we needed to be elsewhere (walk right on back to where you came from). And then, when we finally got in, we realized (you know what's coming, right?) that our seats were exactly on the opposite side of the entrance we'd been directed to. Seriously, when you work at Dodger Stadium, do you never have to look at a map of the place as part of your training?

At this point, I was sure on of the seemingly millions of ushers and various staff hanging around talking to their buddies would be happy to help my obviously injured husband, in his big, black knee brace, and I reach our seats as quickly as possible. Luckily, there seemed to be this giant FIELD right in front of us that we could simply cross to get right to where we needed to be. But no, apparently you need to be personal friends with God himself (herself?) to be granted access to the field. Never mind that our seats were less than 10 rows up from the precious field. No amount of begging, pleading, or explaining would get us past the gate to the field. We were offered a wheel chair, which Ray wasn't interested in, and that was it. And forget trying to talk to a supervisor. It was like trying to find the Customer Service phone number on Amazon.com. It just wasn't happening. So, around the stadium we limped.

Fast forward to the end of the show (more to come on that in the next post). At this point, I figured that it would be OK for us to walk back across the field, seeing as the SHOW WAS OVER and EVERYONE WAS LEAVING. Ha! At this point the ushers were tired, cranky or just pissed off and once again the answer was "No." Not "Sorry, no." Not, "I wish I could." None of that. Forget courtesy. Forget that our ticket sales pay their salaries. Forget that we were just trying to get the hell out of the stadium. The rudeness was disgusting.

Apparently, having the preferred parking did get us out of the park faster, but that was the only benefit. I hate being one of those customers who is constantly complaining about things, but in this case, I don't think it's too much to ask for parking attendants to know which side of the stadium is odd or even, for entry attendants to know which entrance they happen to be manning, or for ushers to be polite and courteous even if they can't be helpful. While Dodger Stadium is a phenomenal place to watch a baseball game or concert, and Dodger Dogs are the best in the world, that doesn't eliminate the need for customer service. Los Angeles residents have a lot of entertainment options, including another baseball team down the freeway and a dozen or more other concert venues. Why go somewhere where you'll get ripped off and be disrespected?

Big thanks to malingering for this great shot of Dodger Stadium.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Weaning Post

When my mind and body started doing screwy things over the last couple of months, the brain trust that I consult about most issues (made up of my mom, sister, aunt, a couple of cousins and a few select girlfriends) came to a consensus that the breastfeeding hormones were at odds with the regular hormones and it was resulting in chaos, especially certain times of the month. All of a sudden tons of friends were telling me stories of strange issues they had from long-term breastfeeding. This theory kind of correlated with something my beloved OB/Gyn mentioned at my last annual exam and I kind of went with it.

Problem was, at the time, Mr. Bunch was firmly ensconced in his 4-5 times a day nursing habit. What's worse is that he'd recently begun toddling around and would come grab my shirt whenever the urge struck him (so like a man!). To make matters more difficult (so like a man!) he likes neither cow's milk nor pacifiers. Spoiled baby!! I didn't think there would be any way to get him off the boob!

My beloved pediatrician, with whom I generally disagree about breastfeeding matters, advised me to cut him off cold-turkey. "You'll have a couple of difficult days," he predicted, "and then it will be over." Easy for him to say, not getting to live through those agonizing days. Cold-turkey would not work for us.

Still, I knew the time had come. Although I always, always get sad as my babies leave behind a stage of their babyhood, I also realized that this was best not just for him, but for me and the other 3 people who depend on my (quickly-diminishing) sanity daily. As I turned it over in my mind, I realized that I just can't feel guilty about nursing my 3rd baby exclusively for over 15 months. Therefore, new routines were put in place, Dad took over Brady's bed time, and I broke out the bottles so he could still have something to suck. To my amazement, he did great. He still grabbed my shirt once or twice, but was easily pacified with a bottle of water, a snack, and a snuggle. His 5 times a day turned into just one: first thing in the morning, just before falling back to sleep for a short while.

I can so totally live with this. I get my fix and he gets his. All nursing takes place within the confines of my home, which means I get to go back to wearing my lovely non-nursing bras all day and no longer get funny looks from strangers as I try to wrestle a giant breast-feeding toddler while yelling at my other kids and trying to maintain some semblance of modesty.

Still I'm starting to get signals that this, too, will end soon. Not only have my hormonal issues not completely gone away, but Brady skipped our regular morning appointment today. And never seemed to miss it. Of course, I'm so happy this is his decision instead of something I force him to do for my sake. But I'm still sad, wondering if I've missed our last time in my early-morning grogginess. I hope not. I hope I get one more morning with my little Bunch, to snuggle and nurture and kiss his feet while he looks up at me with smiles in his sleepy eyes. I hope he give me at least one more time to soak it all in for the last time and sadly say good-bye to one of the most fulfilling, lovely parts of motherhood.

Edited to add: Brady indulged me Saturday morning and we had a great time. I don't know if that was the last time. If it was, it was a good one!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Signs That It's Going To Be The Best Summer Ever

Thank God it's summer at last and The Best Summer Ever at that. Well, the Best Summer Ever since last summer, and definitely The Best Summer Ever until next summer. It's already looking to be a great one:

  • 2 days of summer vacation so far and 2 play dates already. Both involved ice cream. Excellent.
  • This summer there is an actual pool in my backyard...something I haven't had for almost 20 years. And it's finally hot enough that the water temperature is starting to inch up a few degrees. No more schlepping to other people's pools. No more listening to "Moooooooom, why can't we have a pool too?" Woo Hoo!!
  • Last year's infant is this year's Toddler-Who-Sleeps-Through-The-Night.
  • A new house that we're no longer embarrassed to have people visit. Welcome Friends and Family.
  • Shave It. Heaven on a spoon. If I could afford it, I'd have the Shave It Van parked permanently in my driveway. Since I can't, I'll have to drive like the rest of the riff-raff.
  • Two kids in school means more friends than ever. And they all want to hang out with us. Hooray!
  • Preschool starts in July. As much as I love him, I also love that my little bundle of energy (and noise) has someplace to be 3 mornings a week.
  • Our babysitter, who we love, has agreed to come over one morning a week. Mom's sanity, which is in short supply, will benefit greatly. She's looking to work a lot. Hopefully this means a couple of movie dates too!
  • My friend around the corner wants to scrapbook as much as I do. I love a good enabler.
  • The credit cards haven't been rejected yet. Keep the fun coming!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hats Off to Dad

Although in my self-absorbed little mind, I'm convinced that the world would fall apart if I wasn't there to manage its every detail, it's hard to argue that Dads are pretty nice to have around, too. They light the barbecue, hunt down and kill any insects or rodents who invade the home, fish various items out of toilets, assemble things (sometimes correctly), perform home repairs (sometimes correctly), and still manage to give a bath and change a diaper once in a while.

Of course, Dad does all of the above while managing a commute, bills, annoying bosses or coworkers, Mom's PMS, inflation, babies who don't sleep through the night, deadlines, and kids who discover his secret chocolate stash. No wonder he needs a day all to himself. In our house, days like that are hard to come by, but hopefully the day was a nice one for Ray anyway. This mom knows for sure that she couldn't get along without her kids' wonderful Daddy, even in his current banged-up state.

Thankfully. my mood is much less melancholy today than it was on Mother's Day this year. I have a soft spot in my heart for Dads. Despite all their faults, their failure to understand teenage girls, their grumpiness at times, their tendency to believe that their lectures actually matter to 4 year olds, or that their kids actually care about the score of the football game, they mean well. They love their kids, and their kids' moms, and want to make it all work (but can't help but look wistfully back to the days when their sleep and money were more plentiful). I love and admire the good dads, and similarly feel great contempt for the ones who can't be bothered with their children, who don't get that happy moms make happy families, that their time and love is the greatest gift they can give their kids. Also, my heart hurts a little for all those dads who are serving in the military far away from their kids who just want to wish their dads a happy Father's Day in person. How many of those will never make it home for another Father's Day? Let's pray the number is few, and that all the wonderful dads who fill our lives are blessed with safety and good health. And if they can get a nap in now and then, so much the better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hey, You Got Your Chocolate In My Peanut Butter

My worlds have collided in such a good way. starbucks paul mccartney

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Upside

Thanks to those of you who have expressed concern since my last post. I'm happy to report that things are definitely feeling better, with some ups and downs along the way, but still better. I'm hoping that as Brady's breastfeeding decreases and my hormone levels increase, the worst is behind me. In the mean time, I've discovered that even this has had a silver lining. In fact, several:

  • I've discovered at last the immense power of sleep. Without it, lunacy is just a few nap-less days away. With it, the whole world feels different. I feel so much better skipping the gloom and doom and Paris Hilton updates of the evening news and getting to sleep that much earlier. It's a win-win all the way.
  • Effortless weight loss...the holy grail! The only other time I lost weight this quickly and easily was all three times I was pregnant (proof that God has a sense of humor), and God knows we don't need that right now. I'm almost starting to wonder if a couple weeks of hell a month are worth the ensuing weight loss. I'm thinking probably not, and it's not something I can control anyway. Still, it's definitely worth hoping the trend continues or at least use it to jump-start some healthy changes.
  • My sister got me this DVD: Yoga For Stress Relief as well as these yummy cookies for Mother's Day. The cookies are long gone but the DVD is definitely the gift that keeps on giving and giving. I so look forward to my 15 or 20 minutes of Yoga each night before bed. Mostly I've done the breathing and relaxation exercises but I've tried one practice for easing neck and shoulder tension and it was great. There are also choices for relieving headaches, stomach problems and "quieting the mind" which is terrific for those times when my mind will not shut up. So far I have not encountered any moves where you have to "twist your foot and stick it in your butt," as my mom delicately put it. Mostly it's really relaxing breathing and stretching and I can't recommend it highly enough. I'd never done any Yoga before, but if it is all this wonderful, I'm a convert. Check out this DVD for yourself and all the stressed out people you know. I plan to buy several as gifts.
  • The gift of communing with friends and sharing my burden. The more girlffriends I talk to, the more I realize how common my little problems are. Hormones are tons of fun, it turns out, and I am not actually going crazy. I've gained the perspective that this is not going to be my permanent state of being and it will pass, with or without further medical intervention. What a relief!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sometimes A Girl Needs Her Girlfriends

So it goes like this. On top of the daily exhaustion of moving in early April, unpacking (ha!), and being a mom of 3 kids who keep me totally busy, over the last few months a sort of weirdness crept in. Sadness, sometimes. Other times, a feeling of hopelessness that the world is nothing but disease and death and we're all doomed to an unpleasant fate which makes the rest of our days mundane at best and not at all worthwhile at worst. An anxiety attack, and the anniversary that you already know about, and icky symptoms like headaches, killer fatigue, nausea, stomach loveliness, etc. landed me back at my doctor's office early last week.

The result, thankfully, is that all my blood work is normal. This is, therefore, some hormonal/depression thing due to either:

a) irregular periods caused by Mr. Bunch who still has no interest in being weaned;
b) delayed post-partum depression, which apparently can hit any time in the first 2 years after childbirth;
c) PMDD, which from what I understand is PMS on some heavy-duty steroids.

Whatever it is, I hate it. I want my happiness back. I want my energy back. I want to enjoy my home and my family and the summer without wishing every morning that I could just crawl back into bed. I want to stop thinking about everything awful in the world and just take delight in the dumb little things that used to make me so giddy.

Now as dire as that sounds, it's not all gloominess around here. The kids keep me laughing every day. I do notice some things helping and there is definitely a monthly cycle component that I'm exploring. If things get worse, my doctor is in the loop and pharmaceutical avenues will be followed. Of course, that brings us back to weaning that stubborn boy, but that's another post.

So, thanks to all of you who've expressed your support and concern. I really appreciate all of you so much. It seems this stuff is pretty common, but no one ever told me until I mentioned it. Along those lines, if you could share your own PPD or baby blues, or PMS or PMDD stories along with what helps/helped you get through, I would sure appreciate it. There are good moments and hard moments in every day, but I find that the easiest ones are the ones which I share with my wonderful friends and family. Thanks.