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Learning to listen to your own kid, not the voices in your head

Parental shame is a two-way street, and my kid is already pedaling down it -- on the pink tricycle he insisted we buy him.

When people talk about their "crazy" families, it really brings out my competitive nature.

The evil stepmother dies

Los Angeles Press Club Award.


What do you do when you lose someone? Someone you really hated? It's a little awkward, I'll tell you that much. Last month, my stepmother of more than 25 years died at age 67 of lung cancer. It was a terrible death, one I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, which, incidentally, she was...


Good news and bad news about having the surname Strasser. Maj. Strasser is a character in "Casablanca," arguably the best movie of all time. On the downside, Maj. Strasser is a major Nazi, which causes major confusion in Hebrew school and thereafter for a Jewish girl like me...


Right now, I'm the sidekick on a morning radio program and co-host of a weekly television show on deep, deep cable. Based on my career trajectory thus far, my next job will be a series of non-union Mobisodes...

LA Times

I'm at a small house party, lounging on a couch, drinking a beer, flanked by girlfriends, safe. Everything is fine. That is, until some hateful former college DJ feels the need to crank up his party mix and "Staying Alive" fills the air. No matter how hip and alternative people are, they lose their minds when they hear the Bee Gees...


 Los Angeles Press Club Award.

jewish journal

Mr. Snead has an artificially orange comb-forward and the type of throaty voice and desiccated face one only acquires after living in the desert for awhile. He is an undertaker. On his forearm, I make out what are obviously two prison tattoos; one reads "Love" and the other is a name, "Jenna," maybe. He is filling out forms with a mechanical pencil like a man for whom writing doesn't come easily...


 Los Angeles Press Club Award.

How do you spell crippling inability to connect? L-U-V. That's how I spelled it. After months of trying to make myself say the "L word," I finally managed only three of the letters...

I might own a book called "Stop Obsessing! How to Overcome Your Compulsions". There may be some CDs in my collection by Mariah Carey. I own various expired prescription rash medications and a jar of Jolen Cream Bleach. I have the entire series of "Fat Blaster Plus" home workout videos...

There was a time in junior high when I would introduce myself to strangers as "Andi, with an 'i'."

When I met Amy, I thought she was "the one." Our freshman year of high school, we did everything together.

I never thought I'd have anything in common with Russell Crowe, but I think I do and, sadly, it has nothing to do with my ability to conjure richly drawn characters with various perfectly executed accents. No, what the two of us allegedly share is something shameful, something ugly, but something increasingly common.

Paris Hilton looks flawless, even in that tacky, wrestler-inspired, jewel encrusted one-piece bathing suit she wears in her now infamous Carl's Jr. commercial.

In today's relationship climate, we are far more likely to discuss STDs than TRWs.

"If we ever get married, let's just go to city hall like Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Big weddings freak me out. I don't like lots of people staring at me, I don't like inconveniencing people because it's 'my special day,' and I hate waste. The idea of spending $50,000 on a party is just no-can-do."

There's nothing more smug and insidious than a girl who has finally fallen in love and thinks she now has all the answers. She can save you from your sad, pathetic, damaged love life and cure you of your nasty man-repellant habits.

There are blind dates, there are speed dates and, unfortunately, in Los Angeles, there are vague dates.

When people ask me which city is better when it comes to dating, I can only answer by citing a famous scene from the horror classic, "When a Stranger Calls."

Welcome to the miracle of mindfulness, and by that I mean it's a miracle if you can stay mindful when you're at a weekend retreat with three of your single girlfriends surrounded by handsome monks (sure, they take a vow of celibacy, but so did Britney Spears and that wasn't exactly ironclad) and lots of surprisingly chiseled, seemingly available, male retreat-goers.

I favor the type of acrylic French tip nails that are considered fashionable only by mid-level porn stars. I still wear Uggs. Pink is my favorite color. I've seen the movie "G.I Jane" twice, and not for camp value. I thought it was good.

The term "boyfriend" is like the knee joint on someone who is morbidly obese. It is being asked to do way more than it was designed to do. It is buckling under the pressure. Where it once could do the job, it is now carrying too much weight.

I was looking for love and ended up "Finding Nemo."

He asks for my e-mail. Never writes me. What's a four letter word for that thing you used to have, that charm, that magic that makes guys ask you out? Mojo. 

Women love bad boys. Nice guys finish last. 

Moses begged God's forgiveness for 40 days and 40 nights, Kobe Bryant's going on at least that long plus a four million dollar sorry ring.

I'm sitting at a Mobil Station in Minneola, my feet propped up against the bottom frame of my car door. The door is swung open so I can take in the desert air, exhale my Camel Light into the breeze. 

It fits the place, with its plastic pitchers of beer, painted clowns on black velvet, bowls of peanuts and the fast talking, baseball hat wearing guy at the end of the bar who clutches a clipboard and swears he can hook you up with tickets to a taping of "Yes, Dear." 

I unpack my makeup, put my mascara and lipsticks in a water glass, hang up my coat. I see what cable channels I have, check out the room service menu for any items that aren't medically contraindicated. I wait for the crashing sound of the ice machine, which is inevitably next to my room, to shatter any sense of peace I can muster in the presence of an orange bed spread that's a bout as sanitary as the crumpled Kleenex of a tuberculosis patient. 

Look, I'm not going to tell you how to find "the one," how to radiate that "I'm available" light, how to register for wine tasting seminars and join networking groups. 

"I'm a lot of things, Mom, but vacant? I didn't put down 'The Bell Jar' until the end of junior high. I won first and second place in a poetry contest when I was 9 - and both poems were about the Holocaust! Vacant! 

It knows when you have on a fresh coat of MAC gloss and some cute heels you got on sale at Charles David and clean hair that's looking halfway decent. It knows. That's the night you won't meet anyone.

In an instant, I saw how I must look with Big Blue, my electric-hued 1995 Ford Taurus. We had just taken a trip to the desert together, and only one of us had bothered to shower. The windows were grimy. Newspapers and books-on- tape cluttered the passenger seat. Gum wrappers filled the ashtray. 

Let the courts decide who gets custody of kids. What I want to know is, who gets custody of the coffee shop? The grocery store? The brunch place? 

Don't bother me with the guy voted "Cutest smile." That guy's gonna go bad on you. That guy will be of no use. Worse, someday soon he will bore you; he will frustrate you with his basic inability to understand human suffering the way a geek can. 

If that whole "women over 30 have a better chance of getting killed by a terrorist than finding a husband" thing didn't make us question the media's ability to interpret statistics, we'd be 82% crazy. 

There's a storefront church next door to my friend Bill's apartment in New York City's East Village. I'm staying with him for a week, so I pass the church a lot and the sign in the window becomes like a refrain. 

Sometimes, a Booty Call can sneak up on you. 

In comes the summer and out goes my latest boyfriend. He was a great guy, funny, smart and possessing what my mom calls "The Big Three," that is, a job, a car and an apartment.

You're standing in line for the ATM. Your car's illegally parked down the street. It starts to drizzle. You're convinced the man in front of you is taking out a home loan. He seems to move in slow motion, pulling scraps of paper out of his pocket, pausing to look up and momentarily ponder the meaning of life. He tries one pen, then another. 

Things aren't going well. I know this because I come home from work, eat six bowls of cereal and climb in bed still wearing my clothes and shoes. The end is near and I can feel it.

Bunny. Dastardly Bunny. Stupid stuffed, fluffy gift from his ex-girlfriend. Bunny, you've enjoyed life on his pillow for awhile, but now you must die. Bunny must die. 

To all the people who've invited me to events with those two fateful words, "And Guest," I apologize. 

When I have things to write, I suddenly seem to have things to read. Yahoo online stock profiles for example, of stocks I don't own, because I don't own any stocks. 

After I heard the first syllable of "Win Ben Stein's Money" - the show for which I was nominated for an Emmy as a writer - I went into some kind of shock. It wasn't bad shock, like "cover her with a blanket she's losing blood." It was a whole new kind of stunned, a blast of morphine-like euphoria that shot from my stomach out through my limbs. 

Some days, you really don't feel like taking the high road. 

You go out. You talk to a lot of people you don't know. Maybe you gossip a little. Maybe you flirt. Maybe you try too hard and end up acting just a bit like someone else. 

Busted flat in Barstow, I realize the desert is no place for an old Plymouth. The mechanic says something about "a machine shop in Victorville" and I think that is one phrase you never want to hear in a sentence with your name. That and "feeding tube." 

I meet a guy. I'm pretty sure I like him because I haven't erased the message he left on my answering message. I call my machine from work and listen to it a time or two, smiling and blushing and feeling like a complete idiot. 

You have three goals for your Sunday. Wash your car, wash your clothes, wash yourself. 

It's a sweltering day in Central Hollywood, the kind that always reminds me of melted gum sticking to my shoes. 

In that funky old Synergy School now a Noe Valley laundromat could do what we wanted (unless it involved littering or hurting someone's feelings). 

I'm in a sport utility vehicle in Monrovia with a man I've just met. We're in the parking lot of the Brass Elephant, an establishment the likes of which I've only seen in movies like "The Accused." 

They say you can never go home again. 
Well, you can. Only you might find yourself staying at a TraveLodge, driving a rented Ford Contour and staking out your childhood home like some noir private eye just trying to catch a glimpse of the Johnny-come-latelys that are now living in YOUR HOUSE.