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Date archive for: September 2009

Starshine at free book-lovers' event on Friday, Sept. 25

Starshine’s a guest on the New Books panel at the book-lovers’ event “Wait Till Next Year” on Friday night, Sept. 25. The evening pays tribute to Santa Barbara’s great literary events, the Writers’ Conference and Book & Author Festival, both of which are on hiatus until 2010.

Starshine will discuss “Keep Your Skirt On” with other authors from 7:50 to 8:30 p.m. in the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.

Admission is FREE. Great night to stroll downtown. Stop in!

Continue reading Starshine at free book-lovers' event on Friday, Sept. 25

My Kingdom for Bloody Bandwidth

Shakespeare never had to put up with this crap. I sit down at my computer this morning with a hot cup of fresh coffee and grand plans. I mean grand. I need to post my latest column, answer questions from confounded students, confirm an interview for tomorrow, check who’s coming to one son’s birthday party, find out who’s coming to the other son’s band practice, and complete research for a story that’s due today.

These are all tasks I accomplish online, so when I discover that my Internet is down — defunct, dead — I panic.

I call Cox for an explanation, and a recording tells me they’re having technical problems in my neighborhood. This is not news to me; this is what I called to tell them. The voice does not explain what they plan to do about it.

I click my “get mail” button just in case the connection has resumed while I was busy pounding on the phone (who uses the blasted phone anymore?), trying to find someone to shriek at.

Nothing happens. I click it again — “get mail,” “get mail,” “get mail” — hoping it will miraculously, spontaneously decide to obey. I am impotent. I am a eunuch. I am flipping the freak out.

Continue reading My Kingdom for Bloody Bandwidth

Begging for Tuition

I have friends who’ve gone to great lengths to ensure a first-rate education for their kids. Mortgaging themselves silly to buy a house in a better school district. Taking a job at an esteemed private school so their kids could attend for free. Even — and I’d sooner endure AP Calculus all over again — pulling them out of 6th grade, mid-year, to homeschool.

At least I thought these were great lengths. But a mother in Redmond, Washington, has put them all to shame. Single mom Shelle Curley has taken to begging for cash at a freeway off-ramp to raise tuition money for her son to attend a prestigious dance academy.

Seventeen-year-old DJ was invited to spend his senior year at the audition-only Idyllwild Arts Academy outside of Palm Springs. The boarding school, whose graduates often go on to Juilliard, awarded him a \$45,000 scholarship. But his currently unemployed mother had to come up with an additional \$7,000 to make it happen.

“All the colleges come there to scout,” Curley says. “This is my son’s chance at a higher education.”

So she held cash raffles and car washes. She sold his bedroom furniture. She scoured CraigsList for items that were being given away, picked them up and sold them at garage sales.

One night, with her job hunt going nowhere and DJ’s admission date fast approaching, she burst into tears. Her older daughter joked that she should consider begging at the side of the road.

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Missing My Mall

The sad truth is this: I’d rather be at a mall than almost anywhere.

As a teen, I logged more hours at the Sherman Oaks Galleria than I did in trigonometry class. Later, as a new mom, I’d schlep my infant to the Pacific View Mall in Ventura — through wretched rain — just to have somewhere dry to stroll.

Malls are the 3-D version of thumbing through your favorite magazine: At best, you find something delightful inside. At worst, you learn what’s current, what other people are interested in. And if you’re crazy-lucky, there’s a Hot Dog on a Stick in the food court.

On sunny days, I used to take my son to La Cumbre Plaza and amble. We’d buy a Mrs. Fields cookie, toss pennies in the fountain, pick up cards at Hallmark, and happily sniff the incense wafting from The Body Shop. It was our mall.

But we don’t go there much anymore. Ever since the recent “enhancement” project — which sent no-frills staples like KB Toys packing and welcomed high-end boutiques like Tiffany & Co. and BCBGMAXAZRIA — it feels like we’re trespassing on someone else’s mall now. Someone with far nicer shoes and a standing facial appointment.

“I don’t think it’s improved at all, just more overpriced stores that squeeze out us regular folks and cater to Hope Ranch,” says a friend of mine. “I’m just waiting for Sears to be replaced by Neiman Marcus.”

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The All-Nugget Diet

Dear Picky Eater of Mine,

I love you dearly. But you’re going to have to bite me.

I’m done with the dinnertime drama. The passive-aggressive poking at your peas. The pantry full of bland, beige, carb-crammed kidnip that makes up your undigestible diet. Cereal and crackers, chips and tortillas, rice and French fries. What are you, a park pigeon?

The fact that your four-year-old body still has the energy to jump on the trampoline and the cognitive focus to work a jigsaw puzzle is, I’m certain, entirely due to the fact that I manage to get three to five soy beans into you every week by bullying you and bribing you with cookies.

I’m not supposed to do that, you know. I’m not supposed to use dessert as a reward. Or cook you separate meals from what the rest of us are eating. Or allow the family table to become a battleground upon which I demand that you nourish yourself, and you take cruel glee in reminding me that I can’t make you.

The experts say I’m doing it all wrong. And by the way you bellow “that’s YUCK!” at the sight of a bell pepper, I can see their point.

Continue reading The All-Nugget Diet