Monday, December 22, 2014

We'll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn

I just finished reading Jennifer Coburn's tres magnifique memoir, We'll Always Have Paris, a hilarious, wacky, and terribly moving memoir about a mother and daughter traveling the world together in the face of their inherent mortality.

We'll Always Have Vodka!
Photo (c) Jennifer Coburn

Worried she'll die young after experiencing the death of her adored, hippie father who never lived to see 50, Jennifer sets out on what she thinks is a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris with her 8-year-old daughter, Katie. Their adventures, juxtaposed with vignettes from Jennifer's own childhood, strengthen the bond between mother and daughter for us – we get to see the way their personalities play off each other, with Katie as the practical, worry-free child and Jennifer, the neurotic, determined mother. “You're not exactly a zen master, are you?” Katie quips. The same holds true for the relationship between Jennifer and her father when she was Katie's age.

Throughout their journey, Jennifer experiences the height of living through her travels alongside the constant reminder of death. Which makes sense, because the latter is the reason for the former; otherwise she'd be making more sensible decisions, like getting the tile replaced in her bathroom.

For instance, in the present moment, we have the pair unable to get into the Musee D'Orsay due to a terrorist threat, which serves as a reminder of the time Jennifer's father took her to the observation deck of the newly built Twin Towers when she was ten. Because, even if we don't acknowledge it, the Grim Reaper will get us in the end. Jennifer jumps so effortlessly into the past tense that it seems so right to be there, even while leaving us hanging in suspense from one time period to another.

It's interesting to me how sometimes our children are the ones who comfort us, when it's normally the other way around. There's plenty of this when we see Katie comforting her mother through an unintentionally overzealous dose of spiced cake in Amsterdam that left her baked out of her mind, and when Jennifer lectures her father on the merits of using birth control after he gets his lover pregnant again.

I was especially gripped by the story of Jennifer's father, who died of lung cancer when she was 19. The fact is mentioned at the beginning of the memoir, but she vividly delves deep into the actual events surrounding his death about three-quarters of the way through the book, after we've gotten to know him a bit. Without ever slipping into heavy-handed melancholy, Jennifer shows us the bizarre yet mundane circumstances of his death that will draw a tear from the driest eye.

The surprise turn in the memoir is when Jennifer turns the trip to Paris from a once-in-a-lifetime experience to a bi-annual sojourn overseas - to Italy when Katie is 11, Spain when she's 14, and finally Amsterdam and back to Paris when she's 16. Home repairs be damned, she was using their savings to give her daughter something more than money could possibly buy.

She's fortunate to have a practical and grounded, yet easy-going and supportive husband. We don't see much of him, but the few snippets we do get make him one of the most interesting people in this rich ensemble of characters. At one point, after Jennifer decides to try to contact her father beyond the grave through a medium despite her husband's doubts, she doesn't hesitate to cry on his shoulder once it's obvious the medium is a fraud, knowing that he'd never in a million years tell her “I told you so.” Instead he says one of the most poignant lines in the book: “I love that you are open to things...look at all of the things you try that work out well. Sometimes you're open to things that don't pan out, but that's part of the package.” Just as some of her decisions while traveling inevitably don't pan out, but the same is true in life.

By the time I got to the final trip, I was so engrossed in the book that I just couldn't put it down and finished it around 4am, even though I had to be up the next morning. While Jennifer's death-fear hasn't yet come true, we've just watched Katie grow up (although, quite honestly, she seemed so mature beyond her years throughout the book that it was hard to distinguish her age as she grew). And Jennifer is now facing a life-altering event that can be as fearful as death – her child on the precipice of leaving the nest.

Lest you think that the book's title has a similar meaning to its predecessor in Casablanca, there's another twist: It actually means the opposite. Paris isn't just a memory for the pair to cherish because the past is better than the future; they will always have Paris because the city will always be there and they will always return.

"Fear of dying young isn't an altogether bad thing,” she writes. "Sometimes it makes you try what you might otherwise delay."

Jennifer and Katie at the WAHP Premier
(c) Jennifer Coburn

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Karma Sleepa

Here's the funny pic that was too small to read on my Facebook page.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mommy Needs Vodka MEETS Mommy Needs Merlot

I have a confession to make. Before I had the kidlets, I was often annoyed when someone else's kid acted up in public, imposing their caterwauling on my annoyed ears at the supermarket, post office, or especially an airplane. At restaurants, I'd request a table away from children the way people would request Non Smoking.

Now? I'm just relieved when the meltdown isn't my child, and as soon as that registers, I abruptly tune it out like a mild, background static. Even when my kids aren't with me, I turn around automatically at the word, "Mommy." For that has been my name these past few years.

So it is with Carolyn Coppola, author of Minivans, Meltdowns & Merlot. This woman is So Relatable personified, and her chronicles as a mother to two small children and step-mom to two teens are filled with hilarious irony. She manages to describe the nuts and bolts of motherhood without descending into the woe-is-me pathos so commonly seen on many mommy blogs, and heard in so many mommy conversations I'm often privy to.

Here's an awesome photo of her book next to my bottle of bubbly:

(c) Mommy Needs Vodka

Perfect Mother's Day Gift - Minivans, Meltdowns & Merlot

So....Mother's Day is coming up SOON. If you are a mom, you'll want this and I'll tell you why below. If you have a mom, you'll want to get this for her, and if you're a dad who happens to be reading this, get this for your wife and she'll love you forever. 

NOTE:  I am not being paid to write this review. I have never done "promotional posts" or even run ads on my blog. Not that I'm opposed to that, I just don't choose to do it right now. I'm writing this review because I genuinely love this book and we all need as much laughter in our lives as we can get. I did receive a free copy of it, after I met the author through my Facebook page

Carolyn sums up many of our unexpected parenting moments aptly in this scene: after her daughter screams maniacally when the family dog sets her potty training back a mile. " took me a minute to decipher her hysterical babble...I didn't get it," she writes. And that is the point - we don't always "get" our children, let alone can we control and protect their worlds as we'd like. For, "Once I had children, I learned early on that in motherhood, there are just some things you can't analyze." Touche, Carolyn.

Thou Shalt Not Judge A Mom

What I love about this book is that Carolyn, through her series of vignettes averaging 8 pages each, reveals herself without trying, as a mom I would happily drink a Merlot (or of course, Vodka) with, because she's not Judgey. I also want to add that, this is definitely written for moms of young'uns, because, how many of us have the attention span to read a dense novel cover to cover without being interrupted? Before the kids, I used to read dense novels. Now? These 8 page stories were perfect for the precious little time I'm actually able to devote to reading.

Carolyn is a Fun Mom, which to me is practically an oxymoron. It's damn hard to find a mom like that anywhere, in my experience, whether online or IRL. She never thinks, "I can't believe she did that," about another mom. Instead she basks in her friends' triumphs and sympathizes with their woes, developing a strong network of female friends along the way. 

When her gorgeous friend Dee, who "popped out two kids and still looks hot in a bikini," was nearly arrested one day for child neglect, Carolyn pre-empts the story with glowing tales of Dee's role as an organized super mom who feeds her kids organic food and limits their TV time to 30 educational minutes a day. This is done - I kid you not - without the slightest sliver of Schadenfreude! Dee is just another of her lovable, quirky friends who eats whatever she wants and cranks the stereo to dance around the kitchen as she cleans, flipping her long red hair wildly back and forth as she rocks the room bra-less in her short shorts. It as at such a moment that the police arrived wither diaper-less 2 year old who was supposed to have been with her husband riding the tractor around their farm. (The incident turned out to be a miscommunication anomaly that was truly The Husband's Fault.)

Maybe the reason the author doesn't judge other moms is because, despite the fact that she's a damn good wife and mom devoted to her family who even took her kids to church and occasionally wears a cross necklace, she chronicles her own mis-steps with such biting candor, it leaves no room for her to do much more than be amused at her friend Ann's "Klonopin induced haze" or Sue's drunken antics at her husband's company Christmas party that left her with a pounding headache and "a huge wad of gum stuck in her hair" the next morning, or even Janie's "vodka induced brain storming session" that inspired one of the most outrageous stories in the book: "Percocet & Potpourri."

Merlot, Purple Vodka, Percocet & Potpourri

Percocet & Potpourri is the next to last story of the book. The stories become progressively more wild and batshit crazy as you proceed! Which is fucking brilliant because if the book started with this one, many moms would cluck in horror and run to return the book after reading about Carolyn hosing purple vomit off her driveway the morning after she accidentally swallowed two Percocets (thinking they were Motrin) and downed a raspberry martini and copious amounts of wine at her friend's jewelry party before blacking out and puking in Chrissy's minivan on the ride home (hence the need for a potpourri air freshener. 

She definitely plays it safe by starting us off with the tale of said minivan, Chrissy's unfortunate fate while pregnant and ready to pop, at the car dealership with her husband to pick out a new vehicle. As Chrissy strolls toward the Jeeps, she's reminded of their price range and practicality as her husband leads her toward - gasp! - the minivans! "I'd rather ride the public bus than drive a minivan!" Chrissy declares, before ending up with a burgundy one.

Carolyn narrowly escaped the minivan fate with her husband's purchase of this beauty, a GMC Envoy, which "technically isn't considered a minivan, even though it really does look and act a lot like one." Nevertheless, she escaped a dire statistic: "Four out of Five in our circle of mom friends now drive a minivan: the company car that comes with the job of motherhood."

Photo taken by Carolyn Coppola, graphic by

Mommy Public Embarrassment

One main "theme" of the book, so to speak, is Mommy Embarrassment. I've written about it  a few times on this blog, most notably with the Show and Tell Sock Debacle, but Carolyn steals the show by creating a hilarious world for us.

In The Spilling Gene, she writes about bringing her four year old daughter - fondly referred to as "Spillarella" - to a party at a posh white carpeted home. They hostess served her red juice, and all the child free adults thought Carolyn was the meanest mom for not allowing her daughter to hold the cup. As they were about to leave the party, Carolyn lost her balance as she rose from the sofa, grabbed the side of the entertainment center to save herself from falling, and "...watched, in what seemed like slow motion, as my daughter's cup...went sailing in the air." The room stood still. "The spilled red juice looked like blood...All we needed was a little yellow caution tape and it would have been the ideal set for a CSI episode." 

Mr. Trash Mouth Meets Mr. Crisp Suit

But my favorite story in the book was, naturally, Uncensored. And not just because it's about vodka. Get ready to pee your pants with this one! Carolyn always starts her vignettes with some innocuous opener like, "It wasn't easy having a baby and two teenagers in the house at the same time." But there's always a zinger a couple of paragraphs in! 

As she reveled in her toddler's new vocabulary - he could even say "Chinese Silk Moth" before turning three - the boy inevitably overhears his elder siblings fighting and name calling. Hence, his favorite phrase soon became, "Fucka bitch." He repeated it everywhere and so often that Carolyn actually contacted his pediatrician out of concern, only to be told it was normal and to ignore it.

Which is no easy feat when you're on an airplane sitting next to Mr. Perfect Suit, an uptight businessman wearing gold cuff links who was lucky enough to sit next to this mom and her swearing tot! There they were, trapped in confined quarters thousands of miles in the air, when "Mr. Trash Mouth" became agitated and caused his mom a "hell ride in the sky." 

Poor Carolyn thought relief was just minutes away when the flight attendant came down the aisle with the beverage cart. "Under the circumstances, wine wouldn't cut it, so I went straight for the hard stuff instead. I don't know who was more relieved to get the vodka, Mr. Perfect or me." He ordered a double and they set about pouring their martinis.

Tragically, their lips were never to touch that vodka. Her son had just reached the apex of irritability, and in a flash he kicked the vodka martini right out of Mr. Perfect's hand. "I am sure that a few choice words were coming into his mind at that very moment but he did not have to worry about uttering them in a fit of anger because my son took care of that for him as he yelled out 'Fucka bitch!'"

Carolyn's only consolation? On that vacation, instead of bringing home souvenirs for her family, she brought home mini Smirnoff vodka bottles for herself instead. You've got to love this woman! 

You can order her book right here on Amazon.  Seriously, it is amazeballs! 

Check out her Facebook page too!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Funny Facebook Pages - Mommy Needs Vodka SHARES Laughter, Funniest Pages & More!

So I've finally gotten my Facebook  page up and running. Sure, a page existed before, but I'm actually posting to it now. Why?

Because, while I love many of the trite platitudes that come through my feed each day, like "Everything happens for a reason," and "you will only know the value of this moment once it's become a memory," Mommy needs something MORE. 

And I don't mean more political bullshit, either. Some political shit is just fine, it's hilarious, but it's gotten to be a little out of hand to where I just want to shut down my whole feed until after the election.

So until we've escaped the horrific possibility of having Sarah Palin with a dick as our new president, I want to entertain the masses. Or at least the 5 people who Like my page. Plus, I need to do SOMETHING with the hundreds of tasteless funny graphics I've saved to my PC over the last 3 years or so. So onto my Facebook, they will go! Along with many more. 

And if you think my page sucks, well, I've also Liked a lot of other pages you might think don't suck. See, there's something for everyone. Unless you like real motivational posters or things like this. Or this.  

Otherwise, please Like my page and laugh, live, love, or scowl, die, cry as the case may be - and feel free to send along an attachment of a fave you may want added (preferably in the 403 x 403 pixel range or less). As long as it's in good taste. Which means it shouldn't really be in good taste, if you know what I mean. But not too icky either. You know, no dead bodies or anything. 

Till then, bottoms up!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ebay Suspends Sales of Alcohol Related "Collectible" Items

Absolute Insanity:

"Ebay Buying and selling activity temporarily suspended for select alcohol-related collectible items" (X was put there by me)

Whoa! Okay, so Ebay hasn't allowed the sale of alcohol overtly for some time now. Honestly I don't drink much alcohol despite my website name. But I had to laugh at today's announcement, following the headline just mentioned above.

Here's most of the text: "Due to recent policy violations, we are temporarily suspending all buying and selling activity for full bottles of beer and spirits listed in the Collectibles category. We expect to allow these listings again after developing and implementing additional, reasonable requirements to support seller compliance with our policies and applicable laws. We will continue to allow listings by pre-approved, licensed wine sellers.

We appreciate that the majority of sellers follow eBay policies regarding the sale of alcohol, and apologize to those who are being unduly affected by the violations of a few."

The part that got me is this: the cause is "recent policy violations." I just HAD to find out the true backstory on the impetus behind THIS decision. The Discussion Boards are usually my first go-to on a scoop like this but actually Google delivered for me this time. I found this nugget via a simple search:  Last Call at eBay after Teens Buy Booze in Collectibles.

Oh, even juicier: a 20/20 expose on said headline is actually what precipitated this move in the first place. I'm staying tuned! It's not every day their headlines are watered down this much to oppose the actual event itself!