Challenge (Silently) Accepted

For a couple of weeks now, I have been seeing people post videos of doing the “Ice bucket challenge” which is a way the ALS Association has increased awareness of the disease and the need to raise money for research and treatment. They’ve done a great job in doing both, raising millions of dollars with this one campaign than anything they’ve been able to do in the past for themselves, and that is awesome.

This “challenge” was given to me and Wil by our friend, Rileah Vanderbilt, who, in her own video, acknowledged the drought we are currently living in and instead used a bucket of pool water before being shoved into that pool by a friend. I accepted the challenge by silently donating to the organization but I didn’t make a video about it, and that’s ok.

I understand the entire country isn’t in a drought. I live in California, which is a desert that is experiencing a pretty bad drought so we need to conserve our water. So much so that our city is issuing tickets if sprinklers are running on days not designated for your zone, and our local car washes are required by law to use reclaimed water to clean cars. I understand that this ice bucket challenge is the equivalent of one showers’ worth of water, but when thousands of people are doing that, it makes me cringe to watch it. I would rather use that water for an actual shower anyway. But that doesn’t mean I don’t support an organization that has desperately needed a way to bring awareness and funding to them, in case that isn’t clear.

Wil and I donate thousands of dollars every year to charitable organizations, we just don’t advertise it because we are asked dozens of times a day on Twitter to donate/support/retweet/make a video for a charity thing that someone is supporting. It isn’t that we don’t care, it’s just that publicizing support of one thing opens the door to attacks from others on why we aren’t supporting a cause that someone else is supporting.(Yes, that happens ALL the time.)  I have learned that I can make more of an impact by focusing on a few charities that mean a lot to me personally, and do as much as I can to help them. And along the way, when a friend or a family member is supporting a cause that means something to them, I donate to that as well.

Supporting charities is a wonderful way to give help and hope to others, or to support an organization that is helping you or someone you love through a difficult time. We have done it for years, and will continue to do so. If you haven’t before, it’s never too late to start. You’ll be glad you did, even if you don’t make a video about it.

 

 

Life Is Worth Living

Today, when I heard that Robin Williams had committed suicide, I spent hours choking back tears. I met him a few times when I would visit Wil when he was filming Flubber up in San Francisco. Mr. Williams was kind, funny, and gave his full attention to me and to our kids when we talked. My heart breaks for what his family and friends are going through at this loss because he is a reminder of the funny things I watched him on as a kid, but also a reminder of my own experience with this kind of loss. There are so many signs of depression and addiction, that I hope in sharing my own story, maybe it will help even one person who may be living something similar and will get help.

*****

I grew up in a seemingly “normal” household. I don’t have any negative memories of anything being wrong or off with my parents when I was little. My grandma would visit us often, always by herself. When I was about 5 years old, I asked my grandma if she had a husband. She told me that she had had two husbands, but they had both passed away. I didn’t really get what that meant, but she had answered my question which seemed to be enough to satisfy my curiosity.

By the time I was about 7, I was aware of my parents having a martini in the evening when my dad would come home from work. Occasionally on the weekend, they would have beer while they did work around the house or in the yard. But by the time I was in 6th grade and my grandma had married for the third time,  I saw a sadness in my mom that I had never seen before. Shortly after my grandma’s wedding, my mom began a rapid downward spiral of drinking excessively and becoming withdrawn and angry.

By the time I was 15, my mom’s drinking was pretty bad. One evening, I came into her room where she was sitting next to the phone, crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she explained to me that she had just tried to have a phone conversation with my grandma to tell her that my grandma’s second husband had molested my mom when she was twelve. This husband had died by the time my mom was 18, but my mom had felt so bad for my grandma for having lost two husbands that she never shared this information before. This secret had been eating at her for so long that she had become depressed and addicted to alcohol, and just wanted to get it off her chest and have the support of her family to help her through it.

When my mom told me this, I had no words. This was not something I knew how to handle as a teenager, so I just hugged her, and then I figured my dad and my grandma would know how to help her through it. I was completely wrong. My grandma was so shocked by this news that had happened 25 years earlier, that she was in total denial and blamed it on my mom having issues with alcohol and an unhappy relationship with my dad. My dad was the opposite of supportive of my mom, which had made her become so withdrawn that I didn’t have much of a relationship with her myself  for years after that day.

I moved out when I was 18, hoping not being under the same roof would ease her anger issues and we could have a new, more adult relationship instead of a parent/child one. I would schedule lunches with her, but she would either cancel last minute because she was sick (hangover) or meet me for lunch and spend the whole time downing margaritas or wine. I didn’t understand that her addiction was merely how she had decided to “deal” with her depression and the unresolved issues she experienced as a child. I honestly felt like she was choosing booze over a relationship with me.

When I was 20, my mom had told my dad she needed a break and decided she was going to take herself to Laguna Beach for the weekend. Her relationship with my dad had turned to angry, drunk fights and she was miserable. At the end of that weekend, my dad called to tell me my mom was in the hospital because she had “fallen” off part of a cliff at the beach. She wasn’t injured badly, but the police were involved because a couple had witnessed my mom trying to jump off of the cliff. She was in the hospital on a psychiatric hold, finally getting released to my dad with the promise of her getting help.

The help never came from my dad. It came from me two years later, when I went to their house after she had canceled our lunch date again and I saw how bad her alcoholism had escalated and how much her health had deteriorated. I immediately called my grandma, who found a rehab facility near her (grandma was now in Oregon while we had since moved to California). She got my mom registered after my mom agreed she needed help, and booked two plane tickets so I could fly up with my mom and help get her settled in.

Between March and October of 1993, my mom had been in and out of 3 rehab centers. She had been trying to get help for her addiction but she also needed help for her depression and therapy to deal with her childhood. We would talk on the phone weekly, but she mostly wanted to know how I was doing and didn’t go into detail about her ongoing treatment. My last conversation with her was on October 22, when she told me she knew her relationship with my dad was toxic and never going to be good for her to be around again. She had purchased a car from a graduated college student and was planning to go out the next day to look for an apartment and start a new life.

On the afternoon of October 23, 1993, I got a phone call that my mom had died in a car accident. There were multiple cars involved, but my mom was the only one hurt. Instead of starting a new life on her own, she had gone to a liquor store and consumed a 32 ounce bottle of vodka. She then started her car and drove, without a seatbelt, over a narrow bridge, bouncing off the walls of the bridge before hitting the two cars waiting on the other side (who had seen her coming but had nowhere to go, so they braced themselves for impact.) No one else was hurt, but the impact on my mom was fatal. She was 47 years old.

I knew my mom had consumed all of that alcohol and chose not to wear a seatbelt, and to drive a car while intoxicated. But I was shocked when the coroner called to tell me the cause of death was partly due to the accident, but the death certificate was going to read “acute ethanol alcohol poisoning” because that is really what killed her. He then went on to ask me if my mom was depressed and/or suicidal, and the rest of the conversation was and still is a blur to me.

It’s been 21 years since her death. I was just 24 years old when it happened. My older brother and I have never had any problems with addiction or depression. I always hear people talk about how it’s genetic, but my mom was the only person in her family to have this happen and I know it’s because of the things that happened to her. One of her counselors from the last rehab center she was in (she died 10 days after checking out of the last one) told me “there are some people that just can’t be helped.” Not exactly the ideal thing to tell someone at their mom’s funeral, but I later understood what he meant after reading all of my mom’s rehab journals in the weeks that followed.

Because of the things I saw my mom go through, I saw the signs of depression in Wil and encouraged him to get help for himself, which he did. We all deserve to enjoy life, to enjoy our time with our family and friends, and to get help when we know something isn’t right in our body and our brain. If you or someone you love is experiencing issues with this, please seek help. You matter and you absolutely deserve it.

Gift of Life

For the past ten years, I have treated my birthday as a reminder to donate blood. A few years ago, I added my name to the National Bone Marrow Registry as well. I do all of my blood donations at City of Hope, a cancer research hospital in Duarte, California. Their lifesaving treatment and stem cell transplant is the reason a very good friend of mine is still here today.  My friend had also made goals for herself to get through treatment; to make it to Christmas, then to see her son graduate from high school, and then to be here for another birthday of her own.  She has experienced them all and then some.

I wasn’t the same blood type as my friend so I couldn’t give her my blood, but she really needed platelets. I tried several times to donate platelets but my count is so high they were literally clogging the needle. At the time, I felt helpless in helping her, so I did a marathon with Wil for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, raising $34,000 that went toward cancer research, and assisted in covering cancer related medical expenses for people who couldn’t afford it. In addition to doing that marathon, I donated my blood to City of Hope for any patient who could use it. I’m AB Positive, which they don’t get too often, so they’re always happy for me to donate and they always send me a reminder around my birthday to come back to donate again.

My birthday is coming up, so I called them to see if I could donate. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to because of some stops on the JoCoCruiseCrazy we went on at the beginning of the year. I had wanted to donate blood before leaving, but I had spent weeks trying to beat a bad case of bronchitis and no one wants blood from a sick person, so it never happened. I confirmed today that because of our stop in Haiti, the CDC doesn’t allow blood donation for one full year from the day you arrive home.

I never want gifts for my birthday. I am so grateful for the life I have and I don’t need stuff. What I would rather do is give someone else a gift of helping save their life, but I can’t this year. So if you’re able to donate blood or platelets or even just sign up to be a bone marrow donor, that would be the best gift me and the person you will save could ever ask for.

Gone (for a bit) But Not Forgotten.

I realized this morning when I opened the app for google + on my phone (which I haven’t done in MONTHS because I always forget that I have that thing) that I haven’t written anything on my blog in a few weeks either. This place is fun for me, the other place frightens and confuses me, so don’t expect posts from me over there anytime soon.

I haven’t written anything here in a while because we were preparing (and then went) to San Diego Comicon. The convention was five days of fun, although exhausting and overwhelming. We came home that Sunday afternoon and then got up early to go to the taping of The Wil Wheaton Project. We left straight from the taping and headed Santa Barbara for a couple of days of peace and quiet, to catch up on sleep, and to celebrate Wil’s birthday. We had the best time, ever. We both slept 12 hours Monday night, had breakfast delivered to our room, got massages at the hotel spa, walked 4 miles on the beach, napped, and had dinner. We did the same thing the next day (minus the massages) and felt rejuvenated.

We came home Wednesday afternoon, a couple of hours before twenty of our friends were to come over for a Sharknado 2 viewing party. It was great to see everyone and watch this ridiculously awesome movie (and see our tiny cameo in it) and we still managed to get another long night of sleep in afterward. I think we’re fully recovered from Comicon in the sleep department now.

On Thursday, my baby boy turned 25 years old. It was the first birthday that we couldn’t make a solid plan to celebrate because he’s been doing a project for a company that’s part of a 3 month interview process. I’m not going to share anything else about that because he still doesn’t know if he got the job or not, and when he does, it’s his happy news to share first. But I’m so proud of him for working so hard and focusing on something that he wants for his life, and realizing he’s officially an adult who knew he needed to choose focusing on the project over big birthday plans. We did go out to a nice dinner at least, so that was fun.

I am down to my last two photo shoots for my rescue pet calendar project. Unfortunately, both of these previously scheduled photo shoots had to cancel this past week. One for an emergency medical issue, the other because of travel scheduling conflicts. I’m not going to say who these two are because you’ll find out when they’re in next years’ calendar. But now I’m trying to fill those two spots quickly, my photographer recently fell and tore a ligament in her hand, I have a friend who is coming to visit and celebrate my birthday later this week, and we’re preparing to go to GenCon in Indianapolis next week. AAAGAARAAGHHH!!!

My calendar printer is awesome and is formatting everything for me so all I have to do is give him the last two photos and the printing can start immediately. My plan is to release this calendar project for the Pasadena Humane Society at the beginning of September but with all of these unexpected setbacks, it may be a little later than that. It is what it is and all I can do is keep moving forward the best I can.

It makes me feel really good that people have asked me to write on my blog more often. It’s fun for me but I just haven’t had the time to write anything. This post is probably going to be sitting here while I get through the next two weeks but I swear I’ll be back! And who knows, maybe some free time will pop up and I can come back here in between. In the meantime, happy August!

 

Share The Love

In November of 2013, I joined the Board of Directors at the Pasadena Humane Society. I had already been participating in fundraising events with them for 5 years prior, but being on the board meant an opportunity to do more on a regular basis to help.

They have different committees that target specific needs of the shelter. The one I am involved in is the “Community Outreach Committee.” The best way for a shelter to help animals and people in the community is by finding as many different ways to show the facility and the services they provide, as well as a way to show  animals that are waiting in the shelter for a new family to adopt them. This has quickly become my favorite part about being involved in PHS.

Our friend, Sean Becker, went to the shelter with me, my son, and my two dogs, so he could shoot video of my dogs giving a “tour” of the facility. I had already decided how the story within the video would go ahead of time so I knew what I wanted to shoot. It took us 3 hours to get everything I wanted and my dogs had a great time playing with and on everything there.

I asked Steve Grubel, our friend who does editing on TableTop and on The Wil Wheaton Project, if he could help me edit my video together. He’s obviously really good at conveying a lot of information in a short amount of time while being able to make what you’re seeing actually make sense. He was happy to help.

Yesterday, I gave the final cut of the video to Pasadena Humane Society so they could have it on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter.  They loved it, and have already shared it in the hopes of showing the community just what they do to help so many animals. I know I say it all the time, but I am so proud to be part of helping such an awesome organization. And I’m not gonna lie, my dogs look pretty darn adorable in this video if I do say so myself.

 

Show Me Potato Salad!

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make homemade potato salad for the first time, ever. I know. It’s like I’m some kind of broken person that it took this long. I tried a very simple recipe I found online and it turned out pretty damn good. I mentioned my potato salad success story on Twitter, and got a ton of replies from people who told me their secret ingredient to their own recipes. This got me thinking…

We all have our favorite additions to our favorite foods. For me, just the thought of wasabi makes my mouth water. I’ve been adding it to deviled eggs for a couple of years now and can’t get enough of it. Today, I thought I’d venture out into the strange, new world of potato salad and make my own recipe; wasabi potato salad.

I went to the store today, grabbed the ingredients I wanted to use to create this magnificent dish, and got to work as soon I got home. It turned out to be probably the best food I have ever created in my entire life. This may or may not be related to how hungry I am or due to the fact that I was sipping a martini while I prepared it. All I know is I kind of want to be alone with my potato salad and this is taking away from our time together. So I’m going to give you the recipe I came up with and you can enjoy the magic in your own home.

ANNE WHEATON’S KICK ASS WASABI POTATO SALAD

-Boil a large pot of water. Add 6 large russet potatoes, cut in half,  cook until soft but not mushy. Let cool in fridge for an hour.

-Hard-boil 6 eggs. Cool in fridge for an hour.

-One large yellow onion, diced into small pieces.

-One stalk of celery, diced into small pieces.

-Peel cooled potatoes and dice into cubes. Put in large bowl.

-Peel cooled eggs and dice into cubes, add to same large bowl.

-Add diced celery and onion, add to same large bowl. Toss all ingredients in bowl together.

In a separate small bowl, mix together 1 cup of mayo ( I used Trader Joe’s Organic Mayo) and one tube (45 grams) of grated wasabi (Not wasabi sauce, which has sugar and sunflower oil bullshit in it. You want the real deal.)

Pour mayo/wasabi mixture over ingredients in large bowl. Toss to distribute evenly. Salt and pepper to taste.

I know you’re supposed to cool potato salad in the fridge for a couple hours before you eat it but I couldn’t wait, and ate a bunch right away. I also know that potato salad tastes better the next day, so I’m sure I will be eating this for breakfast as well.

I hope you like it!

Do Unto Others…

Yesterday, Wil and I took the train down to Stone Brewing Company at Liberty Station near downtown San Diego. The ride there from Los Angeles takes two hours and 45 minutes, the same as it would take if we drove without a single traffic issue on the freeway. But since we’re pretty much guaranteed to encounter at least one car accident and more than one construction zone, we opted for the train. The bonus train ride also allows for naps, so there’s that.

We got up at 4:30am to catch the 6am train. This ridiculously early morning would be the second day in a row of Wil only getting 5 hours of sleep because of working on The Wil Wheaton Project. The ride to San Diego was peaceful and the train had hardly anyone on it, so we were both able to nap. We arrived at Stone Brewing Company by 9:15am, and Wil spent the day doing a full hands-on experience of brewing a collaboration IPA with their brew master, which was fun and exhausting. We finished up just in time to catch our 6:45pm train home, both of us ready to nap for the majority of the ride. The train was pretty full and a lot of people were talking, but Wil managed to fall asleep right away.

I had a slightly different experience and ended up not being able to sleep at all. I was seated at the window, Wil next to me in the aisle. The rows of seats are slightly staggered across the aisle from each other, so people aren’t right next to another in that sense. There was a girl seated across (well, slightly up) from Wil, also in an aisle seat. She had looked over at Wil a few times, and I could tell she recognized him, which is totally fine and something I am used to and doesn’t bother me at all.

About 20 minutes into the ride, with Wil asleep next to me, I looked out my window at the sunset. In the reflection of my window, I saw the girl across the aisle from Wil hold her phone up. I could tell she was taking a picture, so I turned around and looked at her because that felt weird to me. Her eyes met mine, but she already had her phone back in her lap, and she made an effort to look out my window casually, like that’s what she had been doing the whole time.

We have been out in public before where people have recognized Wil and snapped a photo of him without asking him first. I get it. We’re all out in public, it’s a public space, freedom to do what you want, all that. I understand and have accepted that. But as a woman sitting next to her sleeping husband and knowing a person sitting less than 3 feet away from Wil in what is clearly a vulnerable position for him  was doing this made me feel very protective and felt like an invasion of privacy.

I was hoping that it was just me feeling a little paranoid on my part, so I thought I should give her the benefit of the doubt that taking a picture of him didn’t just happened. That doubt was immediately wiped away when I saw her settled back into her seat, holding up her phone where I could clearly see the picture of him sleeping with me looking out the window that she had just texted to a friend. And then another friend. And then one more. It just felt, I don’t know, gross to me. I don’t think she would feel comfortable if her husband were sleeping next to her and I snapped a picture of him when I thought she wasn’t looking and then shared it with my friends. This girl was at least 30 years old, so old enough to know that what she was doing may make a person feel uncomfortable if they knew what had just happened.

I didn’t want to say anything to her because what’s done was already done. Plus, the train was crowded and a little loud, so I would have had to talk loudly over Wil who was sleeping to even say anything. I knew how exhausted Wil was, so waking to loud conversation of me trying to politely ask a stranger to please not take anymore pictures of my husband sleeping would have been a pretty awkward way to wake up. I decided to just keep an eye on her and hold up my blanket to cover Wil if she did it again. She didn’t, and she got off the train about 30 minutes after the incident anyway.

Inside, I was still really upset (and Wil was still asleep so I couldn’t talk to him about it) so I said something about it on Twitter which may or may not have been the wisest thing to do when feeling that way. But hey, at least I felt better getting it off my chest. Most agreed with me that it was a violation of privacy, but two people had a different opinion of it. One guy, wording it as kindly as I think he could have, said he didn’t feel that way because Wil is a public figure and these things are going to happen so I shouldn’t let it upset me. Again, I totally get that and 99.9% of the time it doesn’t bother me at all. But one woman said “You can’t have a career that makes you famous and then complain about it when people get excited to see you. #privilagecheck.”

My first thought, which I had to talk myself out of doing for several minutes, was to only respond with “#SpellCheck” but I wanted to stick to the point that I was originally making. Yes, Wil has worked really hard to make a living out of doing creative things that he loves to do. Yes, that comes with a viewing audience that enjoys what has been created and is excited to see the person who has done this face to face. I absolutely get that. But I think the thing that gets lost along the way is this is also a human being, not an object.  He is a person who gets tired, gets hungry, gets sick, and has a family that cares about him,  just like you. I would never consider taking a photograph of a person sleeping near me who was not my family or my friend without asking them first. I would never consider it my right to invade someone’s privacy and then tell their family member to “privilege check” their feelings about such an invasion. That is appalling to me.

If you have ever met Wil in person, you would know that he is very friendly, conversational, and is always happy to take a picture with you if you ask him. If I’m with him when this happens, I always offer to take the picture for them so it’s a good shot. I would think that experience and interaction would be pretty cool if I ran into someone I had always wanted to meet out in public. So, next time, girl on the train, just try that instead. Then everyone involved will walk away happy.

 

Food For Thought

Over the weekend, one of my friends on Facebook (a for reals friend because I don’t have a public Facebook page) shared a link to something a guy I don’t know, whose name is Kyle Cease (his profile says he’s a comedian) had posted. I don’t know if he wrote it personally because at the end of it, he mentions a man named Wayne Dyer who is an American psychologist. Anyway, I read it a few times over the weekend because I really like it and it so clearly says what I have worked to achieve in my own life. I didn’t figure this out until I was in my 20′s and when I did, that’s when I met Wil. I met my perfect match in a spouse and have carried this on in friendships as well. So thank you to Kyle Cease for the post (and possible author of it) Wayne Dyer because he may or may not have actually written it as well, and my friend, Laura, who is one amazing girl.

“If you put out scared energy, you will attract control freaks.

If you choose to be a people pleaser, you will attract takers.

If you put out energy that says ‘Look how rich I am’  you will attract people who will like you for your money.

If you put out a bunch of naked selfies, you will attract sex driven people.

If you are connected to yourself for real, you will only be able to be with people who are connected to themselves.

If you have someone in your life who is not the vibrational match to what you are being, it won’t last long.

Whatever vibe we decide to put out is awesome. Whatever you want to have in your life is fine. As long as you know that what you put out is what you get back, do whatever you want.

Know that you will attract the match that you are, so be ok with what you present, or evolve to what you really want to be.

When you evolve to what you truly want to be, you will only find people who are where they want to be.

You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you ARE.”

Good Mews, Everyone!

It’s no secret how much I love animals, especially rescue animals. I got my first rescue pet when I was 5, when an orange tabby followed me home from a friends’ house. We found out the owners had just moved away and left him. In Arizona. When it was over 100 degrees outside.

Over the years I have owned only rescue animals and have done my share of helping to promote adopting rescue animals instead of getting animals from breeders. I created rescuepetsareawesome so people around the world could share their own stories about their rescue pets and most recently, I became a member of the Board of Directors for the Pasadena Humane Society. PHS is such an amazing organization that I donated to for years and am so proud to be able to do more for on a regular basis now.

In December of 2013, PHS opened a huge addition to the shelter; large classrooms for dog training, a supply store that puts the sales revenue right back into the care of the animals in the shelter, boarding and daycare facilities, a socialization yard, and most importantly, a state-of-the-art low-cost spay and neuter clinic which will help keep pet population down and significantly reduce the number of animals in need of homes. They also offer low-cost vaccinations and micro-chipping.

Pasadena Humane Society is over 100 years old (they used to take in animals AND children back in the day). The original building is still there, marked as a historical structure and now used for offices, and they have slowly expanded the facility and the staff as the need to care for animals (including wildlife) has now reached to 9 surrounding cities that they also service. With the newest addition to the shelter getting so much use for the care of dogs, they are now ready to move on to helping cats.

The area that PHS has to house cats currently is about 900 square feet. (I should point out that in the month of May alone, they adopted out over 100 dogs and 90 cats. The adoption turnover rate is incredibly high here.) The biggest problem with housing cats is how easy it is to spread upper respiratory infection among them. They are very careful in handling them and something I didn’t know, they keep bunnies that are also up for adoption in the same area because for whatever reason, bunnies stop the airborne spread of upper respiratory infection in cats. Who knew? The problem with cats is how many litters they bring into the world each year. Again, the spay and neuter clinic will help with that in the long run (they also have a catch and release spay and neuter program for feral cats because they are the ones having most of these litters) but the housing of the adoptable cat population need has been an issue.

Today, PHS is breaking ground on construction of a 4,000 square foot cat center. It’s going to have a nursery where volunteers will be able to feed and care for newborn kittens (currently, they have a foster program for this outside the shelter. One person can have a litter of 9 at one time to feed round the clock) large, air-controlled housing units to prevent the spread of infection, and a common play area for cats that are healthy who have been at the shelter for a while.

The construction will take a year but it makes me so happy that today will be the start of a new facility just for the kitties. I’ve had dogs and cats my whole life (I currently have 3 dogs and 2 cats) and I love them equally. To know PHS is doing as much as possible (they are a non-profit organization, completely run by donations) to not only care for animals in need now, but to provide services that will cut down on the population of so many animals in need of homes makes me so proud to be part of this organization.  I can’t wait to see this new addition when it’s done!!

That 70′s Kid

Summer is finally here. By now, pretty much all schools are out and the parental mania of planning activities for kids has begun. Over the last week or so, I have seen several people post a link on various social media sites to an article titled “Ten ways to give your kids an honest-to-goodness 1970′s summer.”  While I’m sure the idea is meant to be about keeping things simple, it got me thinking about what an “honest-to-goodness 1970′s summer” actually entailed. After all, I lived it so I remember quite clearly and if we’re being honest, I’m not entirely sure I’d want my little kids doing the same things I did back then. Unless the goal is to think of that time as “Survival Camp” because if you can make it out alive, you are a champ. So here is my list of “Honest-but-not-necessarily-goodness 1970′s summer activities.”

1. Every parent told their kid “Just come home when the street lamps come on.” I remember feeling scared at the lack of supervision, yet exhilarated at the lack of supervision. No cell phones to call or text to check in, just go out and come back before it’s too dark. This meant hopping on your bike, riding to a friends’ house to hang out for a bit, eventually getting bored and going back out on bikes to ride all around town and occasionally, even ride to another city. Of course, we’d eat at some point. A quick stop at a 7-11 to load up on all the candy you could carry down the sides of your tube socks or tucked into the front pocket of your corduroy shorts so you could have a free hand to balance the over-sized Slurpee you dumped multiple flavors into that now has a nondescript taste. Before taking off, you’d grab a couple of packages of Wacky Packs and go through the funny cards and stickers with your friends, trading ones you needed with ones you already had, before setting back out to ride. You’d continue to ride while eating and drinking, chucking wrappers into bushes as you passed because there wasn’t a trash can in sight.

2. After all that bike riding, you’d work up quite a sweat. No lifeguard keeping an eye out down at the nearby river or pond, and certainly no supervision when you’d hop the fence of the nearby neighbor who had a pool and was out at work all day. No swimsuit? No problem! Just hop in with your clothes on. They’ll dry before the sun sets so your parents will never know what you did. If you were lucky, a friend would have a Slip-n-Slide set up so you could race down the yard and hurl yourself onto a plastic tarp being sprayed by cold hose water. Occasionally, you’d disconnect that hose and everyone would gather around to drink from it, and then re-connect it. And since parents weren’t around, go ahead and throw some dish soap on that Slip-n-Slide to really make it slippery. Don’t worry about the lawn getting wrecked, it’ll eventually grow back. At least it wasn’t your yard so you wouldn’t get yelled at when your parents came home.

3.  Now that you cooled off, this was a good time to collect things to make a sling shot. You’d find the perfect “Y” shaped stick outside, and then rummage through the kitchen junk drawer for rubber bands. You’d collect a pile of tiny rocks to launch at mailboxes or trees, without looking beyond those objects to see you just hit a house window, then take off running because no one saw you do it, so it’s like it didn’t happen. You’d move on to a game of hide-and-seek, which involved catching the person by throwing water balloons at them as hard as possible, always nailing them smack in the back or on the side of their head. Good times.

4. The fireworks stands sold an unlimited supply to any age person who was willing to give them money. If you remembered to ask, they’d even give you a free book of matches so you could get started right away. And since you’re on your own, now is the time to twist those Ground Flowers and Piccolo Pete’s together and light them all at once because that is WAY more fun than lighting them one at a time. And while you’re at it, those metal sparklers make a great light saber duel you and a friend can enjoy, especially if you twist a few together to make one jumbo sparkler!

5. There was always one latch key kid whose parents also happened to be the ones who could afford this new technology called a “microwave.” Since no one was around, this was the best place to see what you could over-cook and explode, melt, or cause sparks to fly inside of. They were also the ones who bought their only child all the junk food your parents wouldn’t buy you, so you’d raid their refrigerator and cupboards and eat as much Otter Pops and Fruit Loops as you could without eating so much that your friend would get in trouble later.

6. The sun is starting to go down and you’re really far from home. Time to put a friend on the handle bars of your bike (no helmets) and pull the other one who’s holding on to the back while riding their metal-wheeled skateboard, and race down that hill without a care (or a traffic precaution) in the world. You get home as the street lamps come on, and all is right with the world.

7. If it’s a weekday, you get to sit down to some sort of casserole mom made for dinner. You have no idea what’s inside of it but you’re happy to eat it because the top is covered in crumbled chips. Sometimes they’re potato chips but tonight, it’s Fritos. If it’s a weekend, your parents are probably going out, so mom is preparing the Swanson TV dinner you picked out at the store earlier in the week. This is your first introduction to Salisbury Steak, and the art of keeping the corn out of the brownie you’re trying to save until the end.

8. It’s time to watch TV. “Solid Gold is on, followed by “The Love Boat.”  This week of new passengers still has people who have adventures, are always drinking alcohol, and keep mentioning this “nightcap” thing which you eventually figure out involves even more alcohol and sex with someone they just met on the ship. (We also saw this a lot with people at “The Regal Beagle” on Three’s Company.)

9. You would go to sleep at night with doors unlocked and windows wide open. Sometimes, you’d even sleep out on the back deck. In the morning, you would go to pour a bowl of cereal for breakfast and saw that you were out of milk. No problem! Carnation taught our moms that in a pinch, all you had to do was add water to their powder and it tasted just like milk. This was also when we learned what false advertising was.

10. Before heading out to have another day just like yesterday, you’d spend 4 hours in your pajamas, glued to the TV set as you played your new ATARI 2600. You’ve already mastered “Combat” and “Air-Sea Battle” but now you’ve got “Pong” and “Breakout” to become a pro at. Little did you know, summers were about to get a whole lot better when the 70′s would come to an end, and the 80′s would bring you “Space Invaders”, “Asteroids” and a place to spend all of your allowance in an arcade playing “Pac-Man” and “Donkey Kong.” But first, you’re going to throw on the same clothes you wore yesterday so you can run barefoot down the street to catch the ice cream man as he makes his way around the block because it’s almost noon and you’re ready for a 50/50 bar and some Fun Dip. Another carefree day is underway. Just remember to come home when the street lamps come on!