Go Play With Yourself. And Don’t Lick the Minivan.

One of my favorite writers has a new book out. She’s Canadian, eh?* The book’s been out for a week or so up there and is totally smoking Calgary as we speak. Today is the US release date, so to celebrate I’m giving away a copy. And I’m listening to Rush while I’m writing this. That’s like, Canadian squared.

You’re welcome.

Leanne Shirtliffe’s new book is Don’t Lick the Minivan- and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to My Kids.

That’s a change from the original working title, which was Get That Train Off Your Penis. (Man, if I had a dollar for every time I said that. . . ) Fret not, there is still a chapter with that title.

Leanne rocks because:

  • She writes with the unique perspective that only a parent of twins who gave birth to them in Thailand could have.
  • There is a complete absence of mean-spirited snark in this book.
  • There is an abundance of ironic, tongue-in-cheek, smart humor that comes from a genuine love for her family.
  • It’s hilarious.

Did you know the rule stating that subjects of passport photos must have their eyes open also applies to newborns? She can tell you all about that.

Here are some other gems I learned from Leanne’s book:

  • If you maim your child, your spouse will help you out more.
  • If you need assistance while changing a baby’s diaper in an airplane bathroom, light a cigarette.
  • Lazy parenting creates kids who are self-starters.
  • Never tell your child that the ice cream truck sells ice cream. Tell them it sells vegetables.

Leanne also writes about depression. The post-partum kind that shows up late, and then returns again even later. How real it is, and how she deals with it. It’s more prevalent than people are owning up to, and you don’t have to just be a bio parent to experience it. Most importantly, it’s not the end of the world. Leanne’s book is as full of hope as it is humor.

Oh right. The giveaway!

In a fit of total unoriginality, I have decided that to enter the giveaway you should leave a comment in the comments section about something you have once said to a kid, or heard someone else say to a kid, that you never thought anyone would–or perhaps should– say to a kid.

Here’s mine:

When we first got custody of our kids, within six weeks I was out of town on an extended trip to open a show booked long before all this happened.

I was standing downstage center with the rest of my crew, rigging up the center cluster to hang when I got a call from #3.

She was having a rough day for an eight-year-old. She was being forced to do chores along with everyone else when she didn’t want to. She was sure she was the most oppressed little girl in the world, that her life was completely unfair. She said CC had told her to finish cleaning her room and then – of all the nerve!– was forcing her to go to the park with the family.

#3: Nobody understands what it’s like to be me!

I’ve been there. Sometimes you just need to be alone. In my mind I was picturing her at the park and activities she could do by herself while still keeping her father off her case by going with the family. Swings, maybe, or hobby horse.

And in a lull in the activity around me, downstage center surrounded by stagehands, I said to my new step-daugher:

Maybe you should just go play with yourself.

Damn prepositions.

no lick

What have you said or heard that you never thought would be said to a kid?

Leave a comment in the comments section through Friday, May 24 at midnight EST and I will pick a winner purely on whatever the hell I feel like doing. If you don’t have a funny story and you’re just a desperate mom who needs a laugh, put that in there. If the winner lives in the US, they have a choice of hardcover or electronic version; if they’re outside the US, it’s electronic.

Go buy Don’t Lick the Minivan!

*not to be alarmed, they took all the errant u‘s out in the book. That’s why I can still say she’s my “favorite” and not my “favourite”.

WINNERS UPDATE: I decided to award two books, because I felt like it. One goes to Alexandra-who-needs-to-start-her-own-blog-because-she’s-funny and one goes to Misty from Misty’s Laws because I was afraid she was going to sue me  she really needs this book. If you didn’t win, please go buy the book because it’s truly fantastic.


Do You Believe In Magic? or How I Finally Quit Smoking

I used to smoke.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t even start until I was 24: unfiltered Lucky Strikes. I liked imports but rarely had the money to buy them. But living in Arizona, I was introduced to Delicados, a Mexican cigarette you could pick up cheap in Nogales. Basically a harsher Lucky Strike in rose-scented paper.

I can’t for the life of me explain why I liked these, but I did.

The impact on my health was dramatic. I’d get winded and light-headed at work just pushing boxes. By the time I didn’t drink any more, I was hooked on cigarettes even though I’d only been smoking a couple years. I tried to quit a few times and failed, trying new things each time to lessen the addiction. I ended up switching to American Spirit Lights and cutting the filters in half.

Hey, it was an improvement.

Back then smoking American Spirits was a total pain in the ass. Most places didn’t carry them and pretty much no one had websites yet. By this time I was on the road, so every week I’d be in a new town having to scout around for a place that sold my brand.

If I spent all the time reading that I spent trying to find my brand of cigarettes, I would have finished Gone With the Wind, War and Peace, and everything Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon ever wrote. With comprehensive literary analyses.

I changed tours and my new show had a service truss. Translation: you climbed an 18-foot straight ladder about forty times a day when you were setting up. Believe me, your lungs felt every damn cigarette you’d ever thought about when you got to the top and collapsed on the platform. I was always afraid I’d get too light-headed and pass out while I was still on the ladder.

It was really getting old. I was only 29 for God’s sake.

When I was a little kid, my sister and I were crazy for Shaun Cassidy. We saved our allowances and bought his records. At the top of our birthday lists were Shaun Cassidy posters and T-shirts. We bought every copy of Tiger Beat that mentioned his name (which was all of them).

Shaun’s older brother David starred in The Partridge Family, but my sister and I weren’t taken with him the way we were with Shaun. Shaun was in The Hardy Boys and my sister and I fought for the seat closest to the television every week when it was on. She claimed more rights to the seat: I had the 45 of Hey Deanie but my sister had his whole album.


I had a t-shirt, but somehow she had scored the Shaun Cassidy satin jacket.

Also hers.

She never let me wear it.

Not even once.

So this tour with the service truss that was kicking my lungs’ asses on a daily basis was Aida (the Elton John musical, not the Verdi opera) and we were playing San Francisco. They often did opening night parties for us and while I generally hate parties, I loved not having to go find my own food in a new town the first night.

Our male lead was Patrick Cassidy, another Cassidy brother and an all-around good guy. One of my tasks was to put Patrick’s mic on him every night at the 15 minute call, and check it every intermission.

Standing around at the opening night party in San Francisco, one of the actors came up to me.

Him: Hey, do you have an extra cigarette for Patrick’s brother? You’re one of the only people Patrick knows who smokes.

My heart did a little flutter, and it wasn’t because of the cigarettes.

Me: Which brother? Shaun or David?

Him: Shaun.

Me: Um, let me check.

I pulled an American Spirit out of my pack, grateful that I was smoking something sort of normal now. Nobody ever wants your Lucky Strike or a Delicado.

Me: Can I give it to him myself?

He lead me through the crowd to a little cluster of people standing around Patrick which included a well- dressed, slightly older, slightly fuller Shaun Cassidy.

And so it was that I bummed a cigarette to my very first star crush.

Then called my sister to brag. Something along the lines of “Holy sh*t, Beth! I just bummed a cigarette to Shaun f-ing Cassidy!! Take that, satin jacket!”

I knew I had reached the pinnacle of my smoking career. Nothing else related to cigarettes would ever surpass this moment where I bonded with Shaun Cassidy for 1.4 seconds over an American Spirit Light with the filter cut in half. I was finally able to quit smoking.

The patch helped, but it was really Shaun Cassidy that did it for me.

He certainly does. He may also make you lose weight.
He certainly does. He may also make you lose weight.

Who was your first star crush?

I originally wrote pretty much this whole post in a comment on Darla’s blog She’s a Maineac; the day I decided to write it as an actual post Darla also wrote about Shaun Cassidy, so Darla, I think he’s going to do something magical for you too.

One & Done Sunday #20

Welcome to One & Done Sunday. One picture, and five links that are worth your time.

Here’s your picture:

It’s a total geek shot of my Superstar console. The question people always asked when they saw it was, “Why does it have so many colors?”. Looking at it from this angle, it kinda looks like the venue we performed in in Berlin last year. There’s a very Euro-techno feel to it. Plus, it’s dusty.

Earlier this month, we played our final performance of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway. It was bittersweet, as I guess these things always are. I’m better for having this opportunity to work with such talented–and nice, being that they’re largely Canadian and if they’re not nice enough they get kicked out of their country– people.

There was a party afterwards. I’m not big on parties and went to a yoga class instead, planning to swing by the party on my way home.

When I walked into the locker room it was nearly empty because I was running late and made it just in time. Something caught my eye: a prosthetic full leg, from just below the hip, on the floor against the wall.

Because the natural state of my mind is to be small and boxy, I couldn’t imagine anyone who actually needed that prosthetic would be down in the hot room to do yoga. My first thought was that it was some sort of prop, a possibility since this midtown yoga studio caters to a lot of performers.

They say yoga expands your mind.

I went downstairs and set up my mat. I looked to the right of me and there was the woman to whom the prosthetic belonged. She was tall, strong, and determined and there to do Bikram. I was humbled and inspired. I could not in good conscience sit out of a single pose that class.

It was an immediate and complete shift in my perspective.

I wished that I felt confident enough to speak to her after class, but I didn’t. I didn’t have confidence in finding the words to convey what I felt without those words being condescending, insensitive, or disrespectful. But in my eyes she was a goddamn rock star.

I don’t know if I’ll see her again or not, but the memory remains. I’m grateful for it.

The next day when I was extra sore from the extra effort I put out in that class, I thought of that badass woman and smiled.


Here are your links:

I just came across this post this morning and it filled my soul. Not much makes me happier than when one of my kids likes my music (and props to this kid for being a RUSH fan!): Pretty Girls Make Gravy: The Day She Discovered Led Zeppelin.

When your kid has to write an apology letter on the last day of school. Sh*t my 6-year-old-says: Apology Letter

Maybe some are staged, but I prefer to believe they’re not. 21 Pictures that will restore your faith in humanity

Get schooled on heavy metal: LA Weekly (thanks Deathrow Dan for the link).

This entire blog is worth reading, so I’m linking to the home page: An Athlete’s Journey Through Breast Cancer

Happy Sunday.