Tuesday, July 05, 2016

An Unofficial Sneak Peek at Season 3 of Netflix's Grace and Frankie

Season 3 sneak peak of Grace and Frankie
This is your warning, when I say I'm going to publish an unofficial sneak peek at next year's season of Grace and Frankie, what I mean is I'm making sh*t up about what's ahead on the show. No behind-the-scenes tours or special blogger privileges here.

You see, I nearly lost it during the final moments of the season finale when Grace (Jane Fonda) put her arm around Frankie (Lily Tomlin) and boldly declared they were going into business together:

We're making vibrators for women with arthritis!

The whole scene is destined to be a classic.

Grace and Frankie aspire to make a vibrator with an ergonomic grip that does its job with out too much pressure or stress on delicate body parts. And the device will be accompanied by instructions large type print.

The bottom line is that the two of them are starting a company that will make a physical product. And I work in a business incubator for people who aspire to make physical products (as opposed to software).

A few weeks ago I read Disrupted (affiliate link) by Dan Lyons. Dan was a lifelong journalist who'd worked his way up to be the technology editor at Newsweek. Then, like so many of his peers, he received the boot. At age 50, he had to start over. After all, it's not easy to find well-paying jobs in journalism these days. 

Dan landed at a software start-up, where he was nearly twice the age of his co-workers. Hijinks ensued and he wrote a book about. And now he writes for my favorite show, HBO's Silicon Valley.

Though I lack a traditional career path, I have a Master's degree and I'm good at pivoting, as they say in the start-up world. I've been a dolphin trainer, social worker, team development leader, marketing consultant, freelancer writer, and social media darling. And let's not forget I'm also mom to two teenage boys.

Aside from parenting and marriage, this blog, which I started in 2005, represents one of my life's most sustained commitments. But even when it comes to blogging, I've reinvented myself over the years leaving a sprinkling of websites in my wake. I'm currently most active on The Maker Mom and STEM Kids Chicago, but even those have slowed down since I started my gig at the incubator. However much I slowed down on this site, I could just never bring myself to cut the chord and hit delete.

Past careers aside, I felt a certain kinship as I read Dan's book. I began to think of myself as his female counterpart: a career-changing mom who's worked out of her home (and pajamas) for most of the last 20 years takes a part-time job in a scrappy start-up incubator in the Chicago. Hijinks ensue.

They have, believe me.

Unlike Dan, however, I'm loving the job and have no plans to write a tell-all book. That said, when Grace announced that she and Frankie had an idea for a product that they want to bring to market...BINGO! 

I know that story. I live that story every day. Or at least twice a week when I'm at the incubator. 

I am the female version of Dan Lyons! I can write the story of Grace and Frankie as they develop their product.

Bonus: I'm also a bit like Grace. I have arthritis, wear a brace on my right wrist (due to typing, not masturbation), and have trouble deciphering tiny print.

In short, I felt called to write a storyline for Season 3.

To be clear, actual, paid Hollywood types are already writing the Season 3 scripts. Or perhaps they've already done so. "TV producers love it when you send them scripts on spec. Why don't you do that?" my husband advised me the other day (but only because he was annoyed with me).

I don't plan to write actual scripts and send them to Marta Kaufman, Jane, or Lily. This blog space will do fine. I'm just going to outline Grace and Frankie's story arc as they develop their product. I was compelled to jot out my thoughts the other day. Compelled! 

Admittedly, writing fan fiction for a show about two elderly women whose ex-husbands ran off and got married to each other sounds, well, lame. But, hey, someone has forged this path already. And anyway, the show's main theme is something that has been key in my life: reinvention.

So stay tuned for a completely fictional sneak peak at Season 3 of Grace and Frankie!


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A New Milestone

I remember walking into my New Mom's Group a bit frazzled, but triumphant, that my tiny infant and I had arrived on time! My celebration was short-lived. No one makes it to New Mom's Group on time. I'd misdirected my energy into meeting a false deadline. That might have been the last time I arrived anywhere on time.

Because we were, by default, early, I watched as the facilitator wrote out name tags for the group members.

Maddie's mom
Jason's mom
Max's mom

Ummm. "Don't we go by our first names?" I naively queried.

"No, you're Isaac's mom now," she replied.

"No, I'm still Kim," I thought, "but I do have an beautiful baby named Isaac. Do not strip me of my identity."

Ultimately I only remembered who was who in relation to their babies, so the name tags did make sense. And now that I'm a dog owner, it's the same thing at the dog park or in training classes. Yes, hi, I'm Tesla's mommy.

And let's me honest, kids do mess with your identity. How can living beings who reside in your house, eat your food, and make you drive them everywhere without paying a cent toward of rent or expenses not mess with your sense of self? Thank goodness they are cute and love you, and think you are the best person ever, at least for a few years.

During the preschool and early elementary years, I was tickled when kids who didn't know my last name would approach me as I volunteered in their classrooms, "Isaac's mom? Can you help me with this?" My heart would swell.

I thought those years were behind me. But just last week at work, I met a college-age intern that my son had worked on a project with. As the young man introduced himself to me, I realized who he was and then said, no doubt in an embarrassingly loud voice, "Oh my gosh! Hi! I'm Isaac's mom!"

He's developed a good reputation* for himself. If I stick around the Chicago tech scene, I feel like this is bound to happen again.

And again.

I'll try to keep my voice down in the future.

*He once so impressed his colleagues, that they mistakenly thought he must have amazing parents. There was some joking that maybe they should have me in to talk about parenting as part of their otherwise tech-focused speaker series. Maybe I had some tips to share? I nearly cried tears of joy, touched by the wonderful impression he was clearly making on his coworkers and that it was my doing, but mostly my husband and I had a good laugh over it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

This Made Me Sad


You know what cool businesses have in their restrooms? Tampons. Free tampons. And maybe pads, too.

I had a discussion on this very topic yesterday. I mentioned that at Cards Against Humanity HQ (yes, that Cards Against Humanity), they have a boxes of tampons in their gender-neutral bathrooms.

In fact, on a recent visit to CAH, before I left my meeting, I told my hosts I wanted to pop into one of the bathrooms to take a picture of the tampons. Because, you know, I'm cool like that. And so are they.

{Wait, I hear a certain teen's voice echoing in my head, "Mom, you're not using the term cool properly." I heard him say something similar a few months ago when we were hanging with the cousins and I suggested we all "Netflix and chill."}

Anyway, upon closer inspection there appear to be other feminine hygiene supplies instead of, or maybe in addition to, tampons. Either way it's a win for women.

Although let's be clear, it's a win in the same way that one might walk into any restroom and be like, "Yeah! This one has free toilet paper!"

If feminine hygiene supplies are unused there's no need to be squeamish about them, guys. And by guys, I do mean men. Boys, too. Male humans.

So anyway, related to my conversation yesterday, I was trying to find a personal essay I'd read on the topic. In my attempt find it, I'd guessed at a few keyword combos to Google. You know how Google serves up related keyword searches? Well, look at the list of related searches that came up when I Googled "Essay about not hiding tampons."

Eight alternate suggestions that are all about hiding tampons. Like it was opposite day for Google's* algorithms.

Sigh.

This made me sad. Not that I've ever whipped a tampon out of my purse and showed it off to everyone around me before heading to the restroom. But the fact that these are apparently oft-searched terms was a reminder of how shameful our society makes a natural, recurring biological act that affects roughly half of the human population.

And so I leave you with this decades-old essay from Gloria Steinem, If Men Could Menstruate.

*Despite what their algorithm might indicate, Google's Chicago office does provide free tampons in the women's restrooms.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

We hosted a Mother's Day brunch with my parents, in-laws, and 4/5 of my SIL's family today. We're horrible about taking pictures at such events. I wish we had snapped a few shots of our group. I gave the grandmas photos, but that's not the same.

I don't take it for granted how fortunate I am to have a wonderful mom and a great mother-in-law, to boot. It's nice that we can get both families together without any drama.

DH did most of the heavy lifting and one of my boys was especially helpful, so I just assisted with some of the food prep, which was nice. My Big Gift, was to head off to a coffee shop in the afternoon to develop a project I'm working on. I wasn't going to do client work or blog posts. I planned to make progress on a side project that's trying to develop.

I arrived at my preferred coffee shop at around 3:45. I saw that they'd only be open until 5:00, but figured that would get me to put my nose to the grindstone and work toward my goal without haste. After I walked in the door the barista told me they were closing early and would only be open another 15 minutes.

Sigh. I can't work that fast.

So I shuffled back to my car and headed to the more reliable neighborhood Starbucks. There was a long line (it's the Frappucino Happy Hour time of year), so I sat down with my computer, figuring I'd order after settling in. Only my computer started acting all wonky and I couldn't pick up the wifi. And all my work was in Google Docs.

This reminded me of the time a few weeks ago when I headed out for a quick dinner with Hubs and then planned to get myself a new pair of hiking shoes. I don't do hardcore hiking, but durable shoes with ankle support can come in handy when Tesla and I walk in the woods on the bridle trail instead of the paved bike path. At any rate, my current pair is three years old. They were purchased for our dream trip to Utah's National Parks back in 2013. (Thank you Google for making my memory look better than it is.) That dream trip was marred by the fact it happened to time out perfectly with Ted Cruz's government shut-down.

Anyhoodle, the Universe laughed at my plans to buy expensive shoes for myself so that I could walk my dog though mud and horse sh*t. (Yeah, this is the kind of shoe I "indulge" in.) Just as we'd finished dinner, we got a call that my younger teen might have broken his arm and my plans flew out the window.

(BTW, he indeed broke his wrist. He tripped over a tennis net. A surprisingly common cause for broken bones, the orthopaed assured me.)

So in two recent instances the Universe kind of sh*t on me and my selfish pursuits. I packed up my computer and headed back to my car only to find a fresh splotch of bird poop on my car. So there you have it.

I headed home and restarted the computer on our attached porch. It worked fine and didn't have any problems accessing our home network. I'm not sure what they deal was at Starbucks.

Because I hadn't entered the house proper, the dog was the only one who realized I was home. The dog asked to be let out on the porch (he's got a set of bells he rings to make his request). The porch has a doggie door that gives Tesla free access to the yard. But instead of going outside, he greeted me. He got up on his hind legs to give me Mother's Day kisses. He's usually not much of a licker.

His actions gave me an atypical look at the inner part of his front leg. His coat is dotted with black spots. But one of them looked odd. Maybe it stuck out like a sore or the color was off. Something about it caught my eye.

When I got a close look, I realized it was a tick. Tesla has never had a tick. We dutifully dispense a monthly dose of flea and tick medication (now in edible form after this happened). We walk in the woods often, but he's never attracted more than a couple of burrs.


A photo posted by Kim Moldofsky (@kimmoldofsky) on

After quickly calling all members of my family to report for duty, we assembled a rescue team. Younger son dispensed treats while Hubs held Tesla still and I used tweezers to pull that sucker off (while the older son was upstairs playing a computer game with headphones on).

The tick came right off. I'm not even sure if it had bitten Tesla. It was still alive and wriggling after we placed it in a plastic bag. (Is this normal?) It did not appear engorged. I'll call the vet this week to see if he wants me to bring it in.

In hindsight, my coffeehouse frustrations served a greater good. Who knows when we would have noticed the tick otherwise? But, gah, I feel like our wonderful walks in the woods just got a little less fun.

I hope you had a nice Mother's Day!

(Don't do a Google image search for "dog with ticks in ear." It's horrifying and you can't unsee it. We stumbled on this a year or two ago and it still haunts me. This seemed like a good time to warn you.)

(Let me know if you search it.)

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Chicago Culture Update

Now that my older son has finally chosen a school {choir of angels sings}, I can get back to my life. His decision, or indecision, really, had occupied a pretty large chunk of my mental space. Most people who asked me about future get-togethers were told to wait until May 1 for my response.

Now it's May 5 and I'm ready to roll. Here are a few events on my horizon. Note that I often receive media passes from the organizations below.

The Lyric Presents The King and I


The Kind and I is playing at the Lyric Opera House now through May 22. As you'll see below it looks like a grand feast for the eyes. I'm pleased to offer readers a discount on weekday performances from now through the end of its run.

“Whistle a Happy Tune” with HALF OFF tickets to Lyric Opera’s critically acclaimed production of The King and I! Use code “SIAMBLOG” for 50% off Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances. Offer is subject to availability and not valid on previously purchased tickets or in combination with any other offer. Please see lyricopera.org/promo for full offer details. Code expires 5/19/2016. For more information on The King and I visit www.lyricopera.org/kingandi.



The Joffrey Ballet Presents Cinderella


The Joffrey Ballet concludes it's 60th season with Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella accompanied by live music from the Chicago Philharmonic. Performances will be held at the Auditorium Theatre May 11-22 with select Saturday and Sunday matinees.

Chicago Sinfonietta Present Chromatic


Last year DH and I had our first exposure to The Chicago Sinfonietta. It's not your typical symphony experience. They push artistic boundaries by doing unexpected things and taking risks, like bringing tap dancers and flamenco dancers to perform alongside the musicians. Their talented musicians make lovely music, and the atmosphere is still formal, but a less stuffy than one might find at a typical performance. They also play out their commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as racial and cultural equity in the arts.

You'll get a feel for what I'm taking about when you see the line-up for their 2016-17 season, Chromatic. Concertgoers can look forward to a unique Día de los Muertos concert featuring silent films provided by Chicago Film Archives, and the Sinfonietta will hold a first-ever program dedicated to LGBTQ composers and musicians as part of their new series.

Look for Chicago Sinfonietta at Ravina on Thursday, June 16 at 8 PM where they will perform in conjunction with a dance troupe, the Highland Park High School Marching Band and the Waubonsie Valley High School Mosaic Choir.

They will play at Cantigny Park on Thursday, August 4 at 7:30 PM.

See full details of their upcoming season here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Opiate Abuse (Surgery without Sedation)

Last week I had minor surgery of my left hand and arm. #OldPeopleProblems Previous surgeries (gallbladder removal! wisdom teeth! appendectomy!) required that I be knocked out, but I had the option of staying awake for the work on my arm. In fact, because the doctor planned to block all feeling in the limb, I didn't even need to be sedated if I didn't want to.

I'm a hugs, not drugs (or maybe neither hugs nor drugs) kind of gal, so I told the anesthesiologist that I'd keep things clean. She was supportive of my decision, but assured me that the drugs would be nearby and easy to add to my IV at a moment's notice should I change my mind. She told me that if the time came, I could still decide the degree of sedation.

As they prepped me in the operating room, a nurse tightened a tourniquet high around my arm. I'd be warned about it and told it might feel "a bit uncomfortable" for 20 minutes or so.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I could see this getting more than a little uncomfortable Then they started the nerve block. My fingers tingled. Then they burned. Then they were on fire. I did some quick thinking. Who cares if I get sedatives? There's no medal of honor, not even a special cookie for making it through with my senses intact.

"Uh, yeah, I think I'll take a bit of sedative after all."

I'm not sure what she gave me. It didn't put me to sleep, but it did put me in a happy place. I didn't babble on (I don't think), but I did ask to see this bit they removed (as much as I could see without my glasses, which is not much). I did learn that a body part can survive about 2 hours in a tourniquet without long-term harm. Not much else happened.

I didn't expect a whole lot of post-surgical pain and I'm not a fan of the dizzying effect of Vicodin, which has now fallen out of favor for a low acetophetamin pill, Norco. Both are opiates. Both can be a gateway to heroin abuse. Unless you are like me and they just make you want to vomit. That kinda ruins the appeal.

At any rate, I'm not a fan of the drugs or having them around the house, but they seemed to really want me to have some just in case the pain got bad.

"Can you just prescribe, like two or three pills?" I asked. I'm a small person.

"Here's an Rx* for 30!" The nurse cheerfully hand me a piece of paper. (Maybe not so cheerfully. That sedative cocktail was good!)

30 pills? What the hell? 

"Oh, and be sure to take a stool softener with them," she practically sang. (And suddenly those commercials about the drug that helps you poop while you are on other drugs had a meaningful context.)

Anyway, so now I have 29 potentially addictive pills left. What do I do with them? What's the street value? "Probably about $5 a pill," guessed my mom.

Apparently she's right. Uh, Mom? How did you know that? (I'm going to assume it's all those True Crime TV shows.)

To be clear, I would never sell these. I know a nearby medical waste collection spot, so I brought them there.

At any rate, opiate abuse is a large and growing problem and today the CDC released new guidelines for prescribing opiate painkillers. It's mostly due to doctors overprescribing these meds for chronic pain, but I still take issue with the large amount relative to my needs.

*If I was inclined to take the pills, this might have only be a few days' supply: 1-2 pills every 4-6 hours. But it still seems like a lot pills given the fact that I didn't expect to take more than one or two to begin with. Also, I'm not clear if that dose is designed for someone my size or more of a one-size-fits-all dose.


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Important Message for Illinois High School Seniors!

So I was going to write this post titled, "Shonda, two ways." I was going to talk about Shonda Rhimes' new book, Year of Yes, which I recently read and enjoyed And then I was going to talk about the Yiddish term shonda, which means shame. Only it's more than just shame, a shonda is, like, SHAME. With the second shonda, I was going to talk about the budget crisis in Illinois and some of the services that are being cut because our state has not had a signed budget since the end of the last fiscal year in June 2015.

Anyway, I never got around to that post, but the budget crisis persists. Many Illinois residents who are most in need of social services are not able to get them. This Illinois Budget Clock, a product of a weekly civic hack night meet-up in Chicago, provides an update on the length of the crisis as well as stories of how it's impacting my state. Today I received an urgent note from the college counselor at my son's school, which prompted me to finally write something.

The Illinois Monetary Awards Program (MAP) provides a limited amount of grant money to low-income college students who attend approved colleges in the state. As with so many other bills, the MAP grants have gone unpaid since the current fiscal year. This means neither the students nor the schools are receiving this money. From what I can tell the schools are doing their best to try to support the students who are not able to pay the related chunk of their tuition, but just because the state is managing to avoid paying its bills doesn't mean other institutions and people have the same luxury.

So anyway, the urgent note from the college counselor warned that Illinois students must submit their FAFSA* (federal student aid report) by March 9 to be considered for an Illinois MAP grant for the 2016-17 school year. MAP will be suspended by March 10. (Of course, this assumes that the state will make good on its current obligations and then have money allotted for the program during the next fiscal year...)

That gives you 24 hours, peeps. Go!

*Even if family income is such that the student will not be eligible for aid, many colleges request or require this form.




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Chicago's Joffrey Ballet Debuts Bold Moves



DH and I received press tickets to the Bold Moves, the season opening of Chicago's Joffrey Ballet (are tickets to Hamilton next?!). Bold Moves is playing at the Auditorium Theatre through February, 21, 2016.

As my senior cultural correspondent, DH shared his take on the Joffrey's latest. 

The first piece, Forgotten Land, began with a cluster of dancers in baggy clothing, including floor-length dresses. Not a tutu in sight. Nor was there much walking around on their toes by the women. I’m sure there’s a dance name for that, but it doesn’t really matter.

The dark stage had a backdrop that looked something like a Great Plains supercell was waiting to happen. The sound effects of violent wind whipping around the dancers reminded me of the arctic cold outside. One by one, and sometimes in pairs or trios, they wriggled like leaves falling off tree branches, blown around the stage and coming back to rest in their original spot. When the orchestra began, the music (Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem Opus 20) was disturbing. It was not a pleasant, joyous sight to watch the dance, but it was hypnotizing nonetheless.

I don't see a lot of live dance performances, but I immediately GOT IT. I sat there thinking that I understood perfectly what the performers were trying to convey. The entire first piece seemed to be about desolation. Like early North Dakota settlers in an 1870 blizzard, stretching to be free of the confines of their primitive huts, where they were snowed in for the winter. Anyway, that’s what I was thinking, but I was still chilled from walking to the theater.

The choreographer, Jiri Kylian of the Czech Republic, said it was based on a painting by Edvard Munch of women staring at the sea. In some ways, though, the ballet evoked the desperation and anxiety of The Scream.

But on a more pleasant side, it’s amazing to watch human beings who spend their days stretching and dancing (as opposed to sitting at desks writing) their limbs all over the place. The women kicked the hems of their long dresses higher than human thighs ought to allow. And the men casually lifted and carried their partners all over the stage. Typical ballet stuff, but it’s still impressive to watch.

Tipping Point, British choreographer Ashley Page’s piece, was even more intriguing, although still unsettling. All the performers, men and women, wore similar sleeveless, legless outfits. In some cases, this greatly accentuated the difference in stature between, say, a male dancer well over 6 feet tall, and his much smaller female partner. In fact, throughout the entire piece, I felt we were forced to focus more on the dancer’s movement because their costumes made them harder to distinguish from one another.

Bold Moves will end its run at the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University on February 21.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

College Application Update in Haiku

college scholarship haiku
A friend of mine started this Facebook group, Haiku Moms, and it's been a fun distraction as well as a creative outlet. As far as the college stuff goes, I'd say all of the applications are in, though I'm not sure if my son agrees. I think he does, though, especially after DH and I explained that any future applications will be on his dime. At this point he's been accepted to several great schools and he's excited about a couple of them in particular.

It's still near impossible to figure out how much any given school will cost. I have a note from a recent Financial Aid Night at school, that many people typically pay about somewhere around 50% of the sticker price at schools. It's like shopping at Kohl's. Did you get the 15% coupon or the 30% one? It seems like most everyone gets a little something off, whether it's because they took a certain class in high school, got a certain test score or come from a certain background. So what does the sticker price mean, anyway? Even the Net Price Calculators can only give you a general expected figure, though some schools do have price calculators that can estimate grants and merit aid.

Needless to say, we've encouraged my son to pursue some scholarships and a few weeks ago, I "live haiku'd" my side of the experience. In talking with friends who also have high school seniors, my experience seems to be a universal one. It's a bumpy road, this whole "getting your child ready to leave the nest" thing. Even when it's clear your child is itching to spread his wings.

*Sigh*


What's the hurry, Mom?
Scholarship applications
Not due til midnight!

"Hey, look at this, Mom."
"Your finished scholarship app?"
"Funny Twitter things."

Scholarship essay
Just about ready to send.
Due in half an hour.

Essay deadline met!
Will brilliant child's efforts
Reap handsome reward?

Oh, and in the meantime, my sophomore took the PSAT last fall and left an email address that leads to my inbox. Since scores were released a few weeks ago, my inbox has been deluged with email from schools that want to "get to know him." Seriously, I'm getting about a dozen messages a day offering a free quiz to choose a major, a free booklet sharing tips for a great college visit, etc.  Each one has a "hook," but I'm not biting and neither is he because I delete the messages.

I imagine that once the thrill of the attention wears off for students (like in maybe two days?), these messages just become a pain. For me, it's a bit confusing as several of the schools reaching out to him are schools my older son has applied to. I'm tempted to ask them to wait until we're finished with child number 1 before they starting wooing number two.