Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ignorance Is Far From Bliss

This afternoon, I drove Wil and myself to Trader Joe’s for some groceries. It’s the first time in almost a week that I’ve been behind the wheel, and I was kind of excited to be out around other people. After what seemed like forever trying to find a space in the parking lot (a seeming requirement of this establishment), I finally found one on the far end of the lot and pulled into it. We got out of the car, grabbed our grocery bags, and made our way toward the store.

We hadn’t gotten very far when we heard a woman honk the horn of her SUV at the car in front of her. Her window was down (as was the window of the man whom she was honking at) and we heard her yell “Put on your goddamn blinker you BLACK MAN.” There was so much hatred and, I guess the best way to describe it, venom in her voice. Wil and I stopped in our tracks and stood there, looking at her in total disbelief and shock, with our mouths wide open.

I could tell the man she was yelling at heard her. His car was closer to her than we were, and his window was down. He didn’t say anything to her, but he did put on his blinker and slowly made his turn. I looked at his face, an expression of sadness and defeat at being treated this way. Like he hears this all too often.

The woman drove away and I looked at Wil. We were both so shocked that we didn’t even say anything, not that it would’ve helped by that point. Here was this woman, leaving a grocery store that we all get the same food from, spewing such hateful words at this man and then driving away like it was nothing.

I didn’t have parents who raised me to  be accepting of everyone as equals. My parents weren’t openly racist, they were the quiet types, who just looked scared if a person with different colored skin came near them. I saw this and learned on my own from their ignorance and fear that a person should not be judged by the color of their skin. Their behavior was unnecessary and embarrassing. I vowed to raise my own children with this knowledge I had acquired so that they would be the good people we need more of in this world.

As we walked into Trader Joe’s, the shock of what that woman said slowly turned to anger and shame that there are people like that in the world. I was bothered that I didn’t have the quick thinking brain to call her on it before she drove away. I looked across the store and saw the man she had yelled at, strolling through the produce department, living his life, just like we are.

I hope one day this man, who probably has a wife and kids at home, will someday live in a world where all people are treated as equals. We all have a heart and a brain. I just wish more people would use them for something good.



All Aboard!

I am happy to report that I totally survived getting my gallbladder removed two days ago. Go me! Besides having a bloaty belly and walking slightly hunched over since the operation, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, the first thing I noticed was not having the hot, stabby, angry gallbladder feeling in my abdomen. Funny how that goes away once its removed.

Anyway, I didn’t think I’d feel up to any online interaction but let’s be honest, there isn’t much that would keep me away from that.  Except being in another country or lack of internet connection, I suppose. But here I am, a convalescing girl in bed, watching YouTube. WHY? Because the new episode of TableTop that I did with Emma Caulfield, John Kovalic and Wil aired today! 

It was nearly 100 degrees in the studio that day, but we all somehow managed to keep our sweaty under control. It was a lot of fun to play the game and just be on the show again. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but I will say that you will definitely want to watch through the end of the credits.

I also did a separate little interview if you feel like watching that as well.

I hope you enjoy this episode as well as all the others from this season and last. Until next time! PLAY MORE GAMES.

Out with the old, in with the new.

One night, fifteen years ago, Wil rushed me to the hospital because I was having horrible stabbing pain in my side. I got an ultrasound and the doctor could see that my gall bladder was stuck in a spasmed position. That happened as a result of it trying to digest a little ball of raw cookie dough that I had eaten earlier. (This is the part where we all replay our mothers’ voice in our heads, telling us how bad raw cookie dough is for us. But seriously, that’s some tasty stuff right there.)

I’ve never been one for eating things that are fried or high in fat because it has always made me nauseous. But when the E.R. doctor told me to basically cut out fatty things all together or I’ll need my gall bladder out, I took his advice. His mean, cookie dough depriving advice. Ever since then, I’ve been really careful about what I eat. Occasionally, I’d forget and eat one piece of orange chicken the kids would get from a Chinese restaurant, or a doughnut or something buttery.  I wouldn’t have gall bladder pain, but my gall bladder wasn’t digesting the fat in it, and I always ended up puking it up. (That’s right, kids. NO MYSTERY.) I used to joke that I had a cow stomach, able to sort out the thing that made me sick, which would just eject that one thing.

Several times since about August of 2013, I’ve had (what I didn’t realize at first) were for reals gall bladder attacks. Not only was I not digesting even the smallest amount of fat, (something with butter or olive oil in it)  but I was having hot stabby burny pain (that’s a technical term, you know) on my side. There were even a couple of times when the stabby pain woke me up multiple times during the night, then I’d get up the next morning with a rash on the right side of my torso. The last time this happened was on Christmas night, all because I had a tiny bit of gravy with dinner.

I had seen a gastrointestinal specialist in November after a particularly bad attack from eating a tiny bowl of chili. He said I really needed to get my gall bladder taken out before it turned into a ball of infection. Mmm…sexy… Still hesitant to agree to surgery, I told him I’d think about it, and left.

A couple of weeks ago, we committed to going on a super fun, nerd-filled adventure on a Caribbean cruise at the end of February. (We’ve already been on it three times in the past. That’s how I know it’s super fun.)  I thought back to the pain I experienced all night long on Christmas, and had the horrifying thought of needing emergency surgery while on the cruise, particularly while in Haiti. I’m sure the people of Haiti are lovely, but I’m a little hesitant to put my life and medical care in the hands of a third world country doctor. I scheduled one more consultation with the gastrointestinal specialist, bringing with me a big list of questions I needed answers to regarding the surgery before I made my decision.

When I told my doctor that I was going on a cruise at the end of February, he really encouraged me to get this thing out before I go. As healthy as I try to eat, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid anything that isn’t cooked with butter or oil on a cruise. Over the years, I’ve learned to carry ginger capsules and Zantac with me at all times, because it’s inevitable that I’m going to end up eating something that makes me nauseous. Knowing the countries I was going to be visiting, he said it was a risk I shouldn’t take, and I knew he was right. I scheduled the surgery for January 21st. Tomorrow.

People who have had their own gall bladder out have told me that I may have new digestion issues, mainly becoming lactose intolerant. I already am, so that’s not a big deal to me. Pretty much my entire adult life has been filled with a little fear of what I’m eating and how I’ll feel from it, so that’s nothing new to me. Now that I’ve committed to the surgery, I’m ready to have it done so I can feel better. It’s not a free pass to eat fatty foods, I don’t like them anyway, but I know I’ll feel better once this toxic thing is out of me. It’s a laparoscopic procedure, which has a camera, so you KNOW I’m going to ask for pictures of it before and after it’s removed. It’s fascinating to me when there’s an opportunity to see my insides. I know. Gross.

I have to be at the hospital at are -you- fucking- serious o’clock in the morning, but I can come home at the end of the day. As much as it freaks me out that I’m getting an organ removed from my body and they’re sending me home the same day, it’s pretty remarkable that medicine has come so far where that’s ok.

Since I’ve never had my gall bladder removed before, I don’t know how I’ll feel in the days that will follow the surgery. I’m pretty sure I won’t be up for much online interaction, so I’ll just tell you now that I will be on a new episode of TableTop on the Geek & Sundry channel on YouTube this Thursday, January 23rd. We played Ticket To Ride Europe, and no, I’m not going to tell you what happens, you’ll just have to watch it for yourself. I will tell you that it was a lot of fun playing this game with Wil, Emma Caulfield, and John Kovalic. I love that I get to be part of such a fun show and I hope you enjoy the episode!


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

This past weekend, Wil and I went to a surprise 40th birthday party for our friend, Mike. Friends, family, and people Mike had worked with over the years all came out to celebrate. And yes, when he walked in the door and we all yelled “SURPRISE!” he was completely surprised.

At the party, we chatted with old friends and new, then slowly made our way to the front of the room, where Mike’s wife gave a really funny and sweet speech. Then the lights dimmed, and a video displayed photos and home movie clips of his life.

As I watched the images of a happy boy go by, I thought of my own boys at that age. The day they were born, when they learned to crawl, and eventually walk. I remembered when they got their first teeth, that would eventually fall out, which gave me the opportunity to be The Tooth Fairy. It seemed like so long ago but at the same time, not.

My boys were one and three years old and I was 23 years old when I left their dad. I had saved up some money before leaving to be able to pay for diapers and food, and moved in very briefly with my parents in order to establish ourselves in their city. I found a job and daycare within a week, and was out on my own with the kids a month later.

As the video of Mike’s life continued to play, images of him with his family on vacations, celebrating birthdays, and just being a goofy kid scrolled by. I thought of my own kids, not having the intact family life when they were so little that I was seeing before me, and it started to make me sad. Home movie clips began to play on the screen, and I remembered not being able to afford a video camera of my own so I don’t have any footage of my boys. I did have a 35 mm camera that my parents gave me for my 18th birthday, so I made sure I took a lot of pictures with that so I would have something to look back on.

My mind drifted to those years of the photos I had taken of the boys, and because it was just the three of us, I had learned the art of holding the camera out with one arm and snapping a few pictures of us together, or asking a passerby to take one of the three of us. I wanted to capture as much of their childhood and our time together as possible. I had even taught the kids how to use the camera so I could have pictures of myself with them individually, which didn’t always come out very centered, but I kind of loved that.

I was really struggling to make ends meet back then, but I had figured out ways to do things with the kids that were fun and memorable and affordable. We frequently went to the beach, where I would watch my  two tiny, toe headed boys run toward, and then away, from the water along the shore. We would build sandcastles with their little plastic shovels and buckets, which they would eventually ditch to go catch sand crabs buried in the wet sand. We would always end the day with the tradition of stopping at the snack shack for a drink and an Abba Zaba to enjoy on the drive home in my old ’67 Mustang.

For several years, we would go camping together down in San Diego over Labor Day weekend. I’d load up my car with a camping stove and tent I’d borrowed from a friend, and pack an ice chest of full of food. When we arrived at the campground, I would set up the tent, then cook dinner while the kids played, their tiny little legs racing them around with a ball or some toy on the fresh, green grass. Later, we would roast marshmallows for s’mores over a fire I had built, then eventually climb into our sleeping bags with flashlights, where I’d tell them silly ghost stories or read a book before we went to sleep.

I continued to watch the video of Mike as he turned into an adult; college, dating and ultimately getting married and having kids of his own. I thought of my own kids, now 22 and 24, living in their own apartments, heading toward the years of relationships and someday, possibly marriage. They may or may not have kids of their own, that is for them to decide, but they have their whole lives ahead of them to make those choices for themselves. The images of my little boys slowly being turned into adults once again filled my mind.

I may not have video, but the snapshots of those moments together tell a story in a chapter of our lives that I will always cherish.

Birthday party, ages 4 and 2.


Ryan and Nolan at the beach, ages 4 and 2.


Sightseeing, playing in the back yard, Nolan taking photo, 3 of us at beach.

group photos

From the “Awkward Moments with Anne” series, a story.

I can’t remember exactly what year it was because frankly, it probably should just be forgotten. Unfortunately, my brain holds on to the details of the horrifying moment much more clearly than dates. But for the sake of the story, I’m thinking this happened about 10 years ago.

Wil was doing a stage show with his friend, J. Keith van Straaten,  down at the Acme Comedy Theatre in Hollywood. It was set up like “The Tonight Show.” J. Keith would start the show by telling some jokes, then he’d sit behind a desk and chat about funny, current topics with Wil, who was his sidekick, seated across from him in a chair. They would then have a guest come out and be interviewed, followed by a performance from a band.

J. Keith would always have really great people be guests on the show. One of my favorites was John Ritter. He was so kind and funny and personable and told really great stories. One night, they were going to have Henry Winkler be the guest. We were all SO excited because we absolutely loved “Arrested Development” and couldn’t wait to meet him. I didn’t take the kids to every show because I think they were around 11 and 13, and the show ran pretty late, but I made an exception this time because hello, it’s Henry Winkler.

Wil went to the theatre early for rehearsal, so I drove down with the kids just before the show started. On the way there, I was telling them about this show called “Happy Days” that Henry Winkler was on that I used to LOVE when I was a kid. I demonstrated how “The Fonz” would do his signature “Aayyyy” move and give the thumbs up. Then I had this horrifying thought that I would make an ass of myself fumbling over what to say to him when I met him, then saying or doing something “The Fonz” would do.

“Mom?” the kids said after I apparently stopped mid-sentence while I lived this potential scenario in my head. “Oh, what? Sorry. I was just thinking…” As I told them my concerns about how my conversation would turn out when I actually met Henry Winkler,  they looked mortified. “Mom, do NOT do that.” Ryan said with the look of fear in his teenage eyes. “Don’t worry. I’ll play it cool. *aayyyyy*” I joked,  giving a thumbs up, inches from his nose.

Henry Winkler turned out to be such a sweet, wonderful guest on the show. He was generous with his stories of working in Hollywood over the years and just being grateful for working on such amazing shows, and loving how much people enjoyed his work. As the show ended, my heart starting racing and my stomach filled with butterflies as I was about to meet “The Fonz.”

The theatre lights came on and the audience made its way out, filtering onto the street. I made my way down to the stage like I did after every show to wait for J. Keith, Wil, and the rest of the guests to come back out on stage to take a group photo together. I stood there nervously clinging to the kids, worrying I was going to somehow screw up the only interaction I would ever get with Henry Winkler.

When they finished with the photos, Mr. Winkler came down the steps of the stage, and straight toward us. He introduced himself, holding his hand out for me to shake, which I did. Trying to appear calm, like I’d met people like him a thousand times, I casually introduced Ryan and Nolan. He shook their hands, asked them how old they were, what grade they were in, and if they enjoyed the show. The kids seemed so calm. How could they be calm? They’re meeting Henry Freaking Winkler?!

Mr. Winkler turned back toward me. Now was the time. I decided I wasn’t going to say anything about “Happy Days” because he’s probably heard that a million times. Calmly and casually, I said “We absolutely LOVE Arrested Development.” While he was graciously thanking me, Nolan interrupted, practically yelling “MOM!”  while looking at my hands with wide, terrified eyes. Apparently, while I professing my love of the show he was currently on, both of my hands had met up in front of me, BOTH giving the thumbs up.

I looked down at my hands, then to my children, who had both covered their faces with their own hands in embarrassment. I looked back at Henry Winkler, hands still in the thumbs up position, face cringed in a state of fright. “Oh my god, I can’t believe I just gave you the thumbs up. I JUST GAVE YOU THE THUMBS UP.” I threw my hands to my side, trying to figure out just how long they had been in that position. “It’s ok, dear.” Mr. Winkler said, trying to reassure me. “IT’S NOT OK. I JUST GAVE THE FONZ THE THUMBS UP.” I exclaimed, way too loud for how close he was to me. He laughed, tousling Nolan’s hair, attempting to calm the kids of the horror they just witnessed, and headed backstage to grab his belongings and drive home.

On our own drive home, I just kept repeating “Oh my god. I gave The Fonz two thumbs up. Who does that? WHO DOES THAT.” At first, the kids tried to make me feel better. “It’s ok, Mom. It happens.” After saying it a dozen times, it started to get funny to me, and my horror turned to laughter. “OH GOD. I GAVE THE FONZ THE THUMBS UP”, tears streaming down my face in uncontrollable laughter as I made our way home. “Ok, Mom. We get it.” The kids were not amused.

Since that fateful day, ten something odd years ago, there have been a couple of times where we’ve attended the same event as Mr. Winkler. I’ve seen him across the room, my heart once again races, stomach fills with butterflies. I re-live the conversation and the thumbs up, cringe while laughing way too long at myself, and stay as far away from him as possible.

At Last

When my oldest son, Ryan, was six years old, he asked me “Is there someone we could talk to to help my dad be a better parent?” SIX YEARS OLD.  I knew my ex-husband was not a good person when I left him three years prior, but I had no idea it was so bad that our six year old son knew he needed help.

I immediately found a great therapist.  She would see the kids together and individually,  Wil and I together, or the kids’ bio-dad and his girlfriend together. Occasionally, we would have a session with the 4 adults. That never went well. The therapist quickly realized this was going to be about me and Wil managing the unfortunate things the kids would have to deal with while they were visiting their bio-dad, and just helping Wil and I be the best parents possible for Ryan and Nolan in the hopes that one day they would figure everything out for themselves.

One of the best pieces of advice the therapist gave us was to focus on our own relationship as a married couple. As much as my ex-husband tried to make our lives hell, we needed to make time for each other because even though we had kids from the very beginning of our relationship, the kids wouldn’t always be around. If we didn’t have our own solid relationship, our marriage would fall apart once the kids were grown and out of the house.  We took her advice and made sure we set aside time for each other. Money was really tight back then so we didn’t have the luxury of going out for a nice dinner or taking vacations together.  Our time together was spent going on long walks or hikes or just playing a board game by the fire. As long as it was something that was just for us, that was all that mattered.

The kids are now grown and out on their own. When that happened a couple of years ago, Wil and I realized we were doing the relationship in reverse of most people. Most people have their time alone and then start a family. We  had the family from the beginning, and suddenly we were a couple living alone, doing what we wanted without the schedule of  the kids’ school, sports, and visitations. That’s when we really became aware of the advice the therapist gave us to make sure we had our own relationship. We were so excited just for the little things like making what we wanted for dinner without a teenager complaining about it or watching whatever we wanted to on TV. The effort we had put into our relationship all those years was paying off, and it felt pretty great.

This past week, Wil and I went to Yosemite. We did this last year as a Christmas gift to ourselves in lieu of actual gifts because we prefer doing something together instead of getting “stuff.” We had such an amazing time in the beautiful, snow covered park last year that we wanted to experience that again. We were disappointed at first when we found out there wasn’t going to be any snow this trip, but this was about spending time together, so we would just find new things to do that didn’t involve building a snowman or using icicles to have a light saber duel.

We stayed in a great little cabin along a river, surrounded by huge, yummy smelling trees. Since there was no snow on the ground, we were able to hike on a trail up to Mirror Lake, which we had never seen before. As much as I love the snow for how peaceful it makes everything, almost like a sound buffer,  we realized it was just as peaceful hiking through the valley, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if it were full of snow.  We were enjoying being outdoors so much that we even walked to a nearby village and enjoyed some outdoor ice skating.

At the end of each day, we would put on jammies, crank up the heater (no snow but it was 30 degrees outside) and watch movies while we played Qwirkle and Blokus and ate room service dinner.  It was such a simple way to spend an evening, but we loved it.

As much of a struggle as we had just to raise our kids, we honestly appreciate that if it weren’t for going through all of that, we may not have as strong of a relationship as we do now. Occasionally, we get asked for advice from couples that are about to get married how to make a marriage last. We always tell them that no matter what is going on in your lives, whether it’s kids, school, work, whatever, always make time for each other and make your relationship a priority. Situations will come and go but at the end of the day, it’s the love and friendship with your spouse that makes it all worth it.

And now, a story from the big book of “Awkward Moments with Anne”

I have a confession. I’m not good at recognizing people who are considered “famous.” Ugh. I hate that word. Maybe “well known” sounds better. Nope. Well, you know what I mean. When I met Wil, I had no idea who he was, even though Stand By Me had been my favorite movie when I was in high school. It even came out ON my birthday and I went with a group of friends to see it, yet I didn’t know it was him. Wil and I had been hanging out together for 3 weeks when my brother was the one  who filled me in on this little piece of information.

There has been the very rare occasion that I see someone and silently lose my shit. Once was right after Wil and I started dating and he took me to some award show (I think it was Screen Actors Guild awards) and I silently lost my SHIT when Harry Connick Jr. walked in front of us. The other time was meeting Nathan Fillion and as you can tell from the blur of my hand that I was flailing in excitement, I was a little enthusiastic about it. I think it works in my favor to not recognize well known people because I just have normal conversations with them, but sometimes it freaks Wil out because I’m just saying whatever comes to mind to someone while he looks like a deer in the headlights at my conversation.

A few years ago, Wil was asked by his friend, Cory to go to some award ceremony for him. Cory had been nominated for an award and couldn’t attend, so he asked Wil to be there to accept on his behalf if he won. Wil was silently losing his shit because it was Cory Doctorow and it was for a Nebula Award for “Little Brother” while I was being a clueless girl who was just excited to put on a fancy dress and have a night out with my husband.

When we arrived at the award show, Wil looked really nervous. When I asked him why he was so nervous, he looked looked at me with terror in his eyes and said “This room is going to be FILLED with some of my favorite authors. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.”  Uh oh. I suddenly got nervous that I was going to do the ‘ol “open mouth, insert foot” maneuver I’d mastered over the years. I decided it was best to be polite and keep conversation light and minimal to avoid a catastrophe.

When we walked into the room, an older man worked his way over to us. Wil nervously chatted with him, completely forgetting to introduce me, then excused himself to get us drinks. As I stood there nervously, the man asked if I was an award presenter, jokingly saying  I “looked too good to be the date for any of these chumps” as he scanned the room with his pointed finger. I laughed, then told him I was married to Wil, and that Wil was here in case his friend won an award and needed to accept it. As Wil was walking back to me with drinks, they announced to take our seats, as the ceremony was about to start.

The MC was a HILARIOUS man who started out by  sharing a story I can’t even remember now, but all I know is I once again didn’t recognize him, and most likely made an ass of myself talking about who knows what to him after the ceremony ended. I do know that as we left for the evening, I found out that man was Chuck Lorre who does a little show called “The Big Bang Theory” but I hadn’t started watching the show yet, so I’m giving myself a pass on that one.

Wil’s friend did not win that night, so he didn’t have to go up to the podium to accept the award in front of all his author crushes.  After the ceremony was over and people were mingling, Wil had gone across the room to talk to someone he knew, and left me alone. The sweet, older man Wil hadn’t introduced me to earlier came over to talk to me. He had a woman with him who I think was his wife, but it’s been a long time so I can’t remember. He introduced himself as “Larry.”

Larry started talking about Wil but it wasn’t until he mentioned how much he loved him on Star Trek that I realized he was doing a bit of the  fangirling himself.  He was talking to me about Next Generation, something I didn’t know much about because I hadn’t watched it (and still haven’t) but I did watch the original series with my dad when I was a kid, so I talked about that. Honestly, my memory of that series was from the perspective of a 5 year old so I didn’t have much to offer other than Captain Kirk looked so much like my dad when I was little, that I used to think that was my dad’s job when he left for work each day.  I was treading in unfamiliar territory so I knew I needed to steer the conversation back to the lighter side to prevent making a total ass of myself.

I asked Larry the typical questions you’d ask, oh say, your mailman. “So, do you have any pets? Do you live locally? Did it take you long to get here?” That’s when Wil came over, looking a bit surprised that I had been carrying on a conversation with someone he was silently nerding out over. I didn’t want to ask this Larry guy what he did for a living because I felt like it would have been an insult that I didn’t recognize him or even worse, that once he told me what he did, I wouldn’t know what it was.

As the night wrapped up and we headed out to the car, Wil asked what I was talking about with Larry. “Well, he brought up Star Trek and when I told him I never watched Next Generation, he giggled. But basically, I just made the usual small talk, like if he lived locally.”  Wil stopped in his footsteps. “YOU ASKED LARRY NIVEN IF HE LIVED LOCALLY?!”  his horrified voice echoing through the empty parking garage. “Uh, yea. Why? What does he do?” I said cautiously. “WHAT DOES HE DO?! HE’S ONLY MY FAVORITE AUTHOR WHO WROTE MY FAVORITE BOOK WHEN I WAS GROWING UP!”  Wil looked stunned as he was unlocking the car door. “It’s called Ringworld and it was such a HUGE influence on me when I was growing up. It’s the reason I love science fiction so much. Oh my god, I can’t believe you asked him if he lived locally.”  “Well, look at it this way” I said, trying to reassure him. “At least I didn’t start talking about how funny it is to me when I see adults fall down or laugh so hard I accidentally fart in front of him. So, I got that going for me which is nice.” Wil was not amused.

That was the only time I’ve ever encountered Larry, the sweet, nerdy old man who loved Star Trek, who I now know is an author. Fortunately,  two years ago at San Diego ComiCon, we had the opportunity to meet George R.R. Martin, so I kind of felt like I redeemed myself from the Larry incident by not asking George if he lived locally or had pets.  George and Wil sat down together at George’s request, to go back and forth asking each other questions. Wil could ask George about Game of Thrones, then George wanted to ask Wil about Stand By Me.  The mutual nerding out at each other was adorable, and I stayed as far away from it as possible.  If anyone was going to be saying or doing anything awkward, it wasn’t coming from me.