Something Slutty This Way Comes… Seriously?

talesfromthemotherland:

It’s that time of year again… thought I’d pull this out of the vault, as I sit waiting for my… 1… Trick-or-Treater. Happy Halloween y’all!

Originally posted on TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND:

Ok, I admit it; I’m getting old. I find myself lost in the crazy world of progress. Some days lately, I sound like an old lady even to myself! Look at all those naked butts! These black leggings have got to go!  Or, take your hat off when you’re inside, or at the table. Or, What the hell is going on with Halloween costumes for girls? Seriously people, why are so many costumes variations of slutty, skanky images for girls, while boys get to be action heroes, goblins, ghouls, knights, pirates, and the like. The girls can be these things too:  if they’re willing to saunter about in super short, breast push-up, pedophile attracting counterparts. So call me an old lady; go ahead and do it in the comments section; but I find it disgusting!

Draculaura, size 4-6

Draculaura, size 4-6

photo    photo

We wanted to be rolly polly bees; cute bees...

We wanted to be rolly polly bees; cute bees…

While…

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“We Need Your Help!”… An Interview With My Daughter

My daughter, Principessa (*not her real name), has been living in Israel for the better part of the past three years; in September of the this year she made it official and got her citizenship. Some of you have read previous posts (here, here, and here) about our journey through these changes… my journey as a mother. It hasn’t been easy. While I have adjusted over time, I admit that when I entered her new address in my contacts, this fall (she was home for the summer), I got a giant lump in my throat and found myself teary– old feelings rushing to the surface again. It’s a process.

But then I talk to her– my hasn’t the world gotten smaller, with Skype, Email, the relative end of long distance calling, Facebook– and I realize that she is doing incredible things with her life, and feeling excited about and invested in things much bigger than my missing her. She speaks Hebrew. You and I might say fluently, but as she’s been challenged in new working environments, she’s learning that there is a lot more to learn in communicating in her new home language. She has a Hebrew name, different from the name she was raised with, but one that I gave her at birth. In that capacity: Learning, embracing her new home, and with a conscience and drive bigger than my arms can hold, she is working as the Resource Development Officer for the African Refugee Development Center, or ARDC.

Today, I am reaching out everyone who reads this blog to help with a project that is so important, and is desperate need of funding. My daughter asked me if I would feature this campaign, in the hope that so many passionate bloggers and readers would be willing to help a group of people who are truly disenfranchised and need the kind of help that the ARDC provides. There is no political agenda here, no pressure, but please check out the links provided and consider a donation in any amount. Every dollar will help, and as always, your generosity and compassion is much appreciated. To find out more and donate, go to Indigogo.

© 972mag.com

© 972mag.com

And now, an interview with my daughter, Liviah Landau:

TFTM:  I’m so glad to finally have you on my blog, Liviah! I’m honored that you want to discuss this project here.

LL: Thank you! I really think your readership and audience will care about this situation, and may be willing to help. Thanks for featuring it.

TFTM: Ok, so let’s start with your organization. What is the ARDC?

LL:  The African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) is a grassroots, community-based, non-profit organization that was founded in 2004 by African asylum seekers and Israeli citizens, in order to assist, protect and empower African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. To date, the ARDC has served over 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Eritrea, Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast. Since January 2014 alone, the ARDC assisted 1000+ clients on matters relating to visa issues, relocation, refugee status determination, higher education, language courses, tutoring, and psycho-social therapy.

Our mission is to empower, protect and assist African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel by advocating on their behalf and enabling processes that increase their awareness, ensure participation and inspire policy change.

©muftah.org

©muftah.org

TFTM:  Can you tell us about Asylum Application Assistance (AAA) Project?

LL:  After a long and dangerous journey, often on-foot and across great distances such as the Sinai Desert, the next considerable challenge that an asylum seeker faces is the determination of his or her status as a refugee. However, while the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution is a human right enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the State of Israel is a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, it is a right that it is not yet fully protected in Israel today under domestic law.

Not all asylum seekers may apply for refugee status as there are two separate processing streams depending upon nationality. Sudanese and Eritrean citizens are collectively granted ‘temporary protection’ (offering only protection from deportation and no other rights) provided that they can establish their identity and nationality, whilst all other nationalities may seek refugee status through the ‘refugee status determination’ process (RSD). Applying for either temporary protection or refugee status is an extremely stressful process as its outcome may literally have life or death consequences. Those whose applications and appeals are rejected face deportation to their country of origin and the risk of further abuse and torture or even death.

ARDC assists individuals to receive protection through the following projects which are supported by the European Union and the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Israel (January 2012 to June 2013):

                                *Assistance to Apply for Refugee Status, and Israeli Work Visas

                                 *Relocation Assistance

                                  *Assistance to Apply for Temporary Protection

© ameinu.net

© ameinu.net

TFTM: Wow, this is truly overwhelming! I recently met and wrote about an incredible man in San Diego, who had experienced this same terrifying journey, Mohamud (read his story here). His experience touched me deeply. But again, it’s all so big and confusing… who do we help, and how?  Why should we care about what the ARDC is doing?

LL:  It’s pretty overwhelming when you look at the amount of charities, non-profits and aid organizations that are focused on Africa and/or Africans, so it’s understandable that these campaign efforts to help empower this struggling part of the world get washed away in your inboxes.  I cannot convince each individual reading this blog that this campaign is directly related to them.  It may not be.  However, the activities of this ARDC project represents a key issue often neglected and mismanaged in the world today.  An issue that most dramatically affects the underprivileged and minority populations on the fringe. That issue is INFRASTRUCTURE.  Without it, all orderly processes of society go to hell.  In Israel, and certainly in many places in Africa, there are serious flaws.

The AAA Project is the only program in Israel providing support for Asylum Seekers to follow through legal processes officializing their status’.  The support it provides will help ensure that the frail legal infrastructure in regards to Refugees is upheld, and the rights, freedoms and dignity of this population is protected.  Israel is a nation rife with external and internal problems (that doesn’t even need to be said), and the current government is scattered with suspicious and racist representatives that would rather detain these people indefinitely in prisons than approach the issue face to face.  The AAA Project is doing the work that the government has not been willing to provide that will, in effect, ease future legislative decisions on the issue, and will give Asylum Seekers a change to change the direction of their unfortunate circumstances.

If you are in support of helping put in place infrastructures that ensure justice is protected in the world, than this cause is related to you. You can donate here.

© phr.org.il

© phr.org.il

TFTM:  Why do Africans come to Israel for asylum, versus other countries in the region?

LL:  The majority of the estimated 55,000 African Asylum Seekers in Israel are primarily from Eritrea and Sudan.  More than 90% of this population have come since 2007 and only 15% are women.  Individuals from North and West Africa make the treacherous journey in rafts across the Mediterranean to get to Europe.  Although it is over 2,500 miles from South Sudan to Sinai border in Israel, conditions in Sudan are such that individuals put their lives in the hands of traffickers to make the journey, on-foot, to Israel, in hopes of safety and protection from the violence occurring in their homeland.  Israel’s neighbors, such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria not only have no infrastructure to take in refugees, they are themselves inundated with civil wars, poverty, and their own refugee crises.

TFTM:  What happens to them once they arrive?

LL:  Currently, if refugees successfully make it into Israel and are not killed by Bedouins in the torture camps in the Sinai, or by the demands of the treacherous journey, they are detained and abused by the Israeli army indefinitely (under what was the “Anti-Infiltration Law“).  Many have been taken to the Holot Detention Center.  Those who make it into Israel, live in poverty mostly in South Tel Aviv and other marginalized towns.

TFTM:  What is the impact of all these refugees on Israel?

LL:  The impact of the refugees on Israel is a highly disputed matter.  The political right claim they are sucking resources and over-populating areas such as South Tel Aviv.  They claim they are increasing crime rates and threatening the “Jewish character” of the country.

The asylum seekers have barely integrated into Israeli society; this is due to the social stigma attached to them by the government branding  them as ‘infiltrators'; the socially conservative neighborhoods they find themselves living in (mostly within cheap neighborhoods); and the language barrier. Children of asylum seekers have an easier time due to the speed with which they learn the language and the school system which places them in classrooms with a cross-section of Israeli society. The NGO’s working on refugee rights and the workplace rights are places where friendships between asylum seekers and Israelis are made, although the overwhelming sentiment in Israeli society is that they remain firmly on the periphery of Israeli society.

TFTM:  In applying for permanent relocation to a third-party country, what countries are we talking about?

LL:  Currently, countries such as Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada and the US have infrastructures in place to repatriate refugees from war-torn countries.  The percentage of refugees world-wide who are permanently relocated is very small.

TFTM:  Tell us more about other projects the ARDC has to aid in other areas of the refugee’s lives.

Please visit our website to learn more about our projects.  We’re doing a lot more than just paralegal assistance!

IMG_6956

TFTM:  How did you get involved in this project and why is it important to YOU, Liviah?

LL:  I got involved with the ARDC because I am interested in possibly pursuing a career in humanitarian work and/or non-profits and I am currently looking into starting a Masters Degree in the next few years.  I took on this internship as Resource Development Officer to gain experience and be active in positive social change in Israel.  I, myself, am a recent immigrant to Israel and I, unlike the Asylum Seekers, am enjoying an abundance of aid and benefits from the government simply because I am Jewish.  I care deeply about the success of this country, and it is important to me to be an active participant in enacting justice for all individuals residing here.  I believe that the State of Israel is drowning in massive social, economic and religious problems (the situation of African refugees being one of them) and I feel that it is my job to do my very best in being a part of positive change.  So I chose to work with the ARDC as part of the ambition.  In other words, I’m an aspiring optimist.

TFTM:  With Ebola so central in the news, do you or the organization you work with have any concerns about refugees coming in from possibly infected areas? Is there a plan to deal with that issue?

LL:  We do not currently have concerns about Ebola as it does not generally affect the population we work with.  HIV/AIDS and Post-Traumatic Stress is a much greater concern with this population.

TFTM:  What can people do to help? Why is it important that we help?

LL:  The ARDC has an abundance of volunteers and interns, like myself, on the ground in Israel working for our endeavors.  However, there are two very important ways individuals from abroad can help our work:

* Donations: without  financial assistance, non of our projects will be able to take place.  Your contributions provide translators, transportation costs, supplies for community projects, and expansion of current programs so that more lives may be touched. Please check out our campaign and consider making a donation.

* Outreach: if this cause inspires you, we encourage your advocacy! Sign up to be on our mailing list, and contact myself (resource.intern@ardc-israel.org), or Dijana (dijana@ardc-israel.org) for more information about the African Asylum Seeker situation in Israel. We can send you academic and media resources for further education.  You can also “like” us on facebook or follow us on twitter, to stay up to date on the news.

TFTM: Well thank you for taking the time to tell us about this project. Is there anything else we need to know?

LL:  Yes, time is critical. There is less than a week left for this campaign.  Donations are desperately needed, and will be enormously appreciated. Spreading the word about our organization and projects can only expand awareness and inspire others to contribute. Any amount helps, and we are so grateful for contributions. Thank you for doing this interview, mom.

TFTM: You’re welcome. I’m sorry I was away for the past 2 weeks and I’m getting the word out there so rushed. I hope it helps… and off the record, I’m so proud of you and what you’re doing. (*of course I’m putting that on the record)

What else can you do? I’ve never asked, but SHARE THIS POST; Tweet the link; post it on your Facebook pages; help spread the word; please make a donation now. Time is critical. Your efforts and support are much appreciated by me, my daughter and the thousands of refugees who need our help. And if it wasn’t clear throughout, donations to this cause are so important. Please donate here.

Final words:  Readers, bloggers, people, PLEASE HELP! We are a community that does so much when asked. I am asking. Please take a moment and contribute to the Asylum Application Assistance project with the ARDC. And thank you!

•     •     •

Make me smile; and HELP ME REACH MY GOAL:  I’d love to see the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 500 likes in 2014. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, it’s where I’m forced to be brief.  Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, with no spam.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

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Friday Fictioneers: Rapprochement

friday-fictioneersArrgh! I forgot to link my story again! Clearly, I have an issue with this…

After more than a year of participating in Friday Fictioneers, without missing a single entry, I got lost in paradise and was unable to participate these past two weeks. Doug, it killed me to miss yours– that photo was gorgeous! I still have stories for it, twirling in my head. Fiji was just too magical, too dreamy, to do anything but be there and enjoy it. But oh how I’ve missed you all, and the wonderful stories you tell! This week, the story came to me in ten minutes. I’ll probably regret not spending more time, but it’s good to be back. Thanks to EF for gently pushing me to keep working on what’s important and real– and just below the surface.

For anyone new, Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge, led by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who just celebrated her second anniversary as our ever-dedicated leader. Write a 100-word story (or less) in response to a photo– provided this week by Melanie Greenwood. Stories should have a beginning, middle and end. Check out further details, join in, or simply read the other stories, on Rochelle’s blog, Addicted to Purple.

As always, I welcome honest, thoughtful feedback; please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

© Melanie Greenwood

© Melanie Greenwood

Rapprochement (94 words)

As he pulled his chair closer to hers, Jared tried to focus.

“So… What you’re saying is, you’re willing to work on this?” He watched her eyes, as she stared at something intangible to his right. “You’re willing to give this another try?”

Anna held her breath, afraid to speak. They’d both made mistakes; she was willing to move past his. After so many angry words, so many sleepless nights and tears, she wasn’t sure of anything, except–

“I still love you–”

Jared took her hand and said a silent prayer of thanks.

*     *     *

Make me smile; and HELP ME REACH MY GOAL:  I’d love to see the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 500 likes in 2014. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, it’s where I’m forced to be brief.  Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, with no spam.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

 

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Bula Vinaka, Matangi! Magic in Fiji– Part I

Flying over Fiji

Flying over Fiji

“Bula means hello, good, welcome… it has many meanings, but all things that are good. “ Marica (Maretha) patiently explained to me, my second night in Fiji. “Vinaka is thank you, but it also has many meanings. Together, they mean many things, all of them good. Bula Vinaka; it’s all good!” Her smile so warm and sincere is reflected in all of the faces I have met in this enchanted place. Everyone smiles; everyone calls out Bula, wherever you go.

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Smart Guy and I arrived at Matangi Resort three days ago and have been floating on a cloud ever since. The resort is on the private island of Matangi, owned and operated by the Douglas Family: Flora, Noel, (both 5th generation Fijians) and daughter Christene, who runs the office and handles arrangements with guests. Upon arrival, we were welcomed, as all guests are, with beautiful native song, fresh coconut juice, shell leis and wonderful smiling faces. And every minute since our arrival has been heaven on earth! The color of the water– how many shades of blue are there? The greens of the jungle and gardens, the flowers that are everywhere, the constant lull of the sea lapping the shore… there could not be a more peaceful, wonderful place– and if there is, I am perfectly content and happy to have landed here instead.

I won the airline tickets for this trip on Bucket List Publications (vinaka Lesley!), in a contest they hosted with Fiji Airlines, fifteen months ago.  At the time we had a German exchange student arriving and our youngest child, Little Man, was entering his senior year of high school. It was not the right time to take a trip to Fiji– a trip that I’ve dreamed of since going to Australia in 1982, when I could not afford the stopover in Fiji. We have been very fortunate and lucky, to have done some remarkable travel as a family, but Fiji was always in the back of my mind. When I won the tickets it was truly stunning, but as we put it off part of me thought it might not happen.1920190_10152326824381300_3495453710150240257_n

However, this past spring we finally booked the air portion and started reading resort reviews on Trip Advisor. Honestly, the options were totally daunting! Even with free airfare, a trip to Fiji is not for the faint of heart, cost wise or travel wise– it took us 30+ hours to get here (4 planes, one van, and a boat), from the west coast! Of course, there are many options for accommodations– from back packer stays to resorts that can cost upwards of $5000 a night; trust me, we looked at most of them! There are 322 islands that make up Fiji, and after hours of reading, we decided to spend our two weeks at two different resorts. Turtle Island was our first choice, and when we were running out of steam, someone suggested we look at Matangi as the other destination.

After three days here, I can’t imagine wanting to go anywhere else!

Imagine a South Pacific paradise that is run as if you are good friends, or family, returning home. Imagine owners who share their stories– amazing tales of a Fijian princess and an Australian adventurer, who marry and buy an island in the 1800s, and the generations who have since loved and treasured that island. Imagine a family who has worked hard to make their dream of a creating a very special resort, that you get to be a part of that… this is all a part of Matangi. Admittedly, I’m not an expert; this is my first resort in Fiji. However, my husband and I don’t like too feel removed from the places we visit; we love to share in the culture and magic of a place. While we’re not naïve enough to believe that we are enjoying a purely authentic Fijian experience, it’s hard to imagine that any tourist can. However, if you are looking to find a piece of paradise, that is seamlessly operated and designed to make every moment peaceful and exceptional, it can be found here, at Matangi. From the staff in the beautiful open air dining room to the women who rake the beach, or work in the spa, or feed the animals, all day someone is calling out “Bula!” If you like privacy and quiet, then they respect that and give you your space; however, if you enjoy chatting with people who live here about Fijian culture and lives, they are warm and generous.

Tomorrow we will go to a private beach, Horsehoe Bay, where we’ll be able to explore the spectacular reef; enjoy a crescent-shaped beach all to ourselves, and take in the natural beauty of this stunning place. The staff will deliver our lunch at 11:30, but otherwise we will be on our own to enjoy this island paradise.

Bula Vinaka, Matangi!

If you are considering travel to Fiji, check out Matangi Private Island Resort– for the traveler who enjoys a truly cultural, completely relaxed exchange and experience, while still enjoying exquisite accommodations. Matangi is family owned and run and it really shows!  Book directly with Christene Douglas: admin@matangiisland.com for reservations.  Mention this post and receive a 7 night stay, for the cost of 5 nights.  (good if mentioned through January 2015, and booked directly) Check out their website here: http://matangiisland.com/

Note: this is part one of what will be several posts. There are too many details to focus on, for one post. Instead, I wanted to introduce readers to this incredible place, and then take them along as we make new discoveries each day.  All photos were taken with and used here, with permission of the people in them.

* I did not receive any goods or services in exchange for any reviews I’m writing here.

*     *    *

Make me smile; HELP ME REACH MY GOAL:  I’d love to see my Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 500 likes in 2014. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, it’s where I try to be brief.  Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, with no spam.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

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Sometimes The Stars Align; And You Get Very Lucky…

talesfromthemotherland:

I wrote this post more than a year ago. None of the writing “luck” panned out; I didn’t hear back from most of the agents/editors who asked to read my work, and while 2 wrote very encouraging emails to me, ultimately they rejected my novel. However, after hosting an exchange student last year, and getting our youngest through high school graduation, we are finally taking that trip to Fiji– that I won 15 months ago! Today, Friday October 10th, the adventure begins! I have dreamed of Fiji since I was 18 years old. I may be busy taking it all in for the next two weeks, but you can be sure… this, I will blog about! Bula!

Originally posted on TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND:

I consider myself a lucky person, in ways that really don’t involve pure luck. Those of you who have read this blog for a while, or consistently, know that I have traveled a lot, and done some very cool things. I live in an incredibly gorgeous place, surrounded by pretty unique and wonderful people. My husband is successful, my kids are truly inspiring, and my dogs are adorable. And for the record, I don’t brag like that very often, but it’s easy to see why I opened with I’m a lucky person.

But, none of that is really pure luck. All of it, every single detail, took a lot of time, hard work and commitment. None of it just came in one lucky stroke, or the draw of a magic ticket. And I get it: lots of people work really hard, and are very committed, and put in the…

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Friday Fictioneers: I’m Talking to You!

Friday Fictioneers, the most wonderful flash fiction on the interweb! Warning: highly addictive! Rochelle Wisoff-Fields pulls it all together, asking participants to write a 100-word story, with a beginning, middle and end, in response to a photo prompt, and to interact with our peers. This week’s photo comes from Rochelle. Check out other stories or join us, by visiting Rochelle’s blog, Addicted to Purple.

Last week I managed to visit 2/3 of the posts, and appreciate all of you who read my story– especially given how late I was! However, this week I will be away again. I leave Friday for two weeks in Fiji, a trip I won a year ago. Needless to say, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have, or what kind of wifi there will be. Given my addiction for FF, I’ll do my best to join in next week. If I’m not around… I’ll be swimming with the fishes, in the best possible way!

Positive or constructive feedback is always welcome; please leave your calling card.

©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I’m Talking to You! (100 words, exactly)

Madly attracted to you, I hung pictures on my wall– snapshots of you, often taken when you were distracted, looking elsewhere.

                Shout, shout, let it all out!

In the Polaroids, you looked anywhere but at me; my feelings unrequited.

                                  These are the things I can do without, Come on,

Every song seemed to be about you, about us… waiting to be us. I looked at the snapshots and wished.

                                                    I’m talking to you,                 

I walked past your apartment– notice me, notice me– singing along, and hoping…

                                                                         Come on.                                

Still married, all these years later– the song still gets to me.

*     *     *

Make me smile; HELP ME REACH MY GOAL:  I’d love to see my Tales From the Motherland Facebook page reach 500 likes in 2014. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, it’s where I try to be brief.  Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. I love to hear what readers think. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, with no spam.  If you see ads on this page, please let me know. They shouldn’t be there.  © 2014  Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.

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It’s About the Bread and Buttah… And Yes Peter, I’m Talking to You

I’ve owned this before: I watch reality TV. More specifically, I’m addicted to a Bravo fan. I’ll concede that I watch more than one of the Real Housewives series; I love Andy Cohen and his late night show, and I even got sucked into Vanderpump Rules. There’s no point in trying to defend my interests; I know how bad this looks. My kids slam me regularly for it, from: “Mom, you’re too smart for this,” (a backhanded compliment if I ever heard one) to: “Seriously Mom? You really like this crap?” I’ve stopped trying to explain; it is what it is. Something akin to “I yam what I yam!” It’s been used against me more than once, when I try to tell them that too much video game use is bad for their brains… Admittedly, I don’t have a leg to stand on, when they start drawing comparisons. But there it is; I watch these shows and I find them entertaining. In the big picture, I’m so much more than the sum of a few shows I watch; so frankly, my kids can bite me.

IMG_7250A few months ago, as my nest was mostly emptying out, and I saw an opportunity to finally do some things I want to do– that don’t include said ducklings or Smart Guy, it seemed like a really fun idea to plan a girl’s weekend in LA, complete with a visit to Sur Restaurant. For those of you who are smart enough not to follow who don’t know, Sur is the chic restaurant, owned and run by RHoBH diva Lisa Vanderpump. It’s featured in both the RHofBH and in Vanderpump Rules, and if you watch the show, you inevitably have a waiter or bar tender who you like best– unless you find them all vapid, narcissistic and shallow– which would not be completely unreasonable, based on what airs. Nonetheless, Peter (one of the managers of Sur) was the guy I wanted to meet. The “was” in that sentence is where things get interesting.

For the sake of maintaining my friendships, I should be clear– four of us went on this weekend, and only two of us are actually regular viewers of the show. The two of us follow the stories, have our favorites and wanted to go to Sur and check it out for ourselves. One of my friends has seen enough of Bravo programming to vaguely know who is who, but she doesn’t follow the shows, and doesn’t really watch Vanderpump Rules. My other friend joined us from Chicago, and had no idea who any of the characters were. She was came for a reunion with me; fun in LA, and a chance to meet my other two friends. Translation: she is a stable, intelligent woman, who was not part of the ensuing silliness. The later two, would want you to know those details. The most important details: we are all old enough to know better; we’re married to men who are very successful and attractive; our goal for the weekend was to have fun. Peter just happened to be on duty and on our radar.

hiddenremote.com

hiddenremote.com

If you don’t watch Vanderpump Rules, let me give you the Cliff Notes™ version: Sur is owned and run by Lisa Vanderpump and her charming husband Ken Todd. It is chic, popular, and anyone who works there has to be young, sexy and a wee bit into themselves. This is not a difficult thing to find in LA, where beauty is king and eternal (with the help of injectables, waxing, surgeons, and denial) and the overriding atmosphere is impersonal and self-absorbed. Coming from a place where things are as opposite to that as they could conceivably be, I find LA amusing and fun. It reminds me of Vegas, but with much prettier geography. So, the staff of VR (as presented on the program) are overly concerned with personal grooming/appearance, generally insensitive to the “friends” they work with, and seem to sleep with anything that moves… or, at least flirty with anything that moves. It makes for constant drama and outlandish TV, but Sur seemed a fun place to visit. One of my friends was hoping to see Tom Sandoval, and I thought it would be fun to see Jax or Peter. We all agreed that on the show, Peter Madrigal, the manager and former bartender, seems to be the most decent, and more mature than his cast mates– and he is undeniably hot. To have seen Lisa and Ken would have made this a star studded bonus score.

Admittedly, our fantasy trip to Sur changed on a dare. I’ve never been one to walk away from a dare easily, and when one of my friends challenged me to use a “line” I’d been playfully throwing out at the table, I called Peter over. “Why oh why did you dare her,” my Chicago friend of 25+ years said. It was a Sunday; the place was not very busy, and our table was in an ideal location for watching the goings on. Peter had passed by us countless times without any sign that he noticed us, and I was dared. Do not hold this against me, I’ve already admitted that we were being silly… and ok, a drink or two might have been involved, but a dare is a dare. I called him over, and I said:

Peter, my friends and I flew all of this way to sleep with you– But since we all know that is never going to happen, we’d be happy to get a photo with you.

I can only be thankful that the restaurant is dimly lit, and I was in the corner; my face was beet-red. And this is where the disappointments began.

He was polite enough to smile, briefly, and say “sure,” but it was not his Bravo, flirty, charming Peter smile. It was a bored smile. A “man, do I have to do this again,” smile, and then… he walked away. Ok, so it’s obvious that this was sexist and totally stupid on my part. If I heard a man say that to a female manager, I’d be appalled; I see the irony and giant double standard– but, this was Peter. This is the guy who flirts with everyone, on the show. This is the guy who posed nude (as in a Bravo TV blur mark over his parts) for a calendar shoot, in the season finale of VR last year. This is Peter: of sexy smiles and seemingly sweet nature. If I was ever going to use such a playful and over the top come-on, with who else but Peter? We had been clear that we flew there to have dinner; we were clear that we were fans, and it should have been pretty obvious that we didn’t really expect him to sleep– though that was clearly stated in the come-on, lest there be any confusion.  Instead, he walked away, and we all felt pretty stupid. So what else could I do? I called him over again.

Peter, I’m really sorry about before. It was a dare… We came a long way to see Sur and we are fans. We are all happily married, and were just being silly. I hope you wouldn’t mind a photo?

I might have batted my eyes. I might have been a bit flirty, when I said it. He might have thought I was the same age as his mother… I’m not. Given that the place was practically empty, we thought maybe he’d play along, make a few fans feel special. Nope. Not so much. When one of my friends let him know that her Kir Royale was served with a maraschino cherry and that when she ordered a classic champagne cocktail, they didn’t know what went in it (champagne, a sugar cube, bitters and a twist), he took some interest. At my Oscar party each year, Kir Royale is the drink, and it does not have, nor should it ever have, a maraschino cherry. Perhaps a raspberry, but preferably creme de cassis and champagne. Period. Peter explained that he’s a “mixologist” and knows all of this, and that he was disappointed that we encountered these slips. But, that was pretty much the end of his interest in us, and off he went again.

IMG_7234We’re not gluttons, and we know we have it good at home, so we did not call him over again. We did have a blast with our fantastic waiter Gabriel. He was good looking, charming and not affected. He got that we were there to have an experience and he did his best to make that happen. Take notes Peter. We’re pretty fun ladies, and Gabriel had fun with us. We gave him relationship advice; we got him to put his ring on and took photos, and we all laughed a lot. We didn’t expect a “made for Bravo” encounter, but we thought Peter would be more fun. We thought it would be a little more interesting than it was. We thought he might take a minute and pull up a chair, or charm us the way Gabriel did. Again, the restaurant was very quiet. We expected something that said: “Hey, thanks for watching the show; thanks for flattering me, and thanks for visiting Sur.”

One of these rings might have gotten one of us lucky that night... right Gabriel?

One of these rings might have gotten one of us lucky that night… right Gabriel?

If truth be told (and why not), of all the places we ate that weekend, the menu at Sur was the least interesting, and I’ve written enough food reviews, traveled and dined enough, to know what I’m talking about. My steak was very good, but the menu was surprisingly boring, overall. The experience was a bit underwhelming, given the build up and excitement we felt going there. And maybe that makes us groupies, fans, silly TV watchers– all things that don’t play into our generally respectable and well-lived real lives. Maybe the let down had a little to do with soberly (despite many drinks) realizing that it is after all just a show, not “Reality.”

When we were done eating, we asked if we could still get a photo with Peter, and our waiter went to find him. He appeared near the entrance, and with a visible roll of his eyes, Peter deigned to pose with us. We all saw it, the eye roll, and that’s when we got a little pissy; we got a little insulted; we called the spade a spade, and behaved a little bit… LA– even my solid, totally grounded friend from Chicago.

Peter, we’re really happy that you’ll take this photo, but let me be clear: we were only joking about sleeping with you. It was all in fun. I am married to an extremely attractive man, who is very successful. You’re clearly good looking, but my life is pretty damned good. A photo is all we were really want. A little fun, in a place that makes it look like fun is what you serve, on TV.

My friends piped in, and let him know that all of us are lucky at home. We’re not really groupies, when push comes to shove. We are fun, and we had a pretty amazing night– after we left Sur– to show for it. At this point, Peter relaxed a little and seemed to finally get that. He laughed, genuinely (finally!) and posed for some photos.

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So, I might have cracked a joke... but we got the Peter smile, finally!

So, I might have cracked a joke… but we got the Peter smile, finally!

The next morning, when we all gathered in one of our rooms at Shutters on the Beach, my wise friend from Chicago put it all in context. Vanderpump Rules is a TV show. From a viewer’s perspective: they make their ratings by behaving badly and putting out an image, that may or may not be accurate, but that’s what they put out there. Their waiters flirt, they make manscaping and lady grooming look like a religion, and they give the impression that if you visit Sur, you can play along too… at least a little. That is what they’re “famous” for, those lovely folks who work there. But working on a reality show, you really should know what side your bread is buttered on, and who butters it. The fans do. Fans watch the show; fans drive the ratings; the fans are what make Bravo TV a success. Andy Cohen (who we all agree is one hot mensch) knows this, and has made a wonderfully entertaining empire out of that knowledge. He is fun, entertaining, and kind to his audience. He knows where reality begins and Reality ends. Peter, as cute as you are, you don’t seem to know who butters the bread. Seems a few photos and some genuine smiles are a small price to pay, n’est c’est pas?

In the end: we had dinner at Sur; we had a good time and we can check it off the L.A. bucket list, for our next trip. We will look at it all a little differently when we watch the show– if it comes back for another season. If. Our real lives continue with or without it and that’s the irony. We went looking for a dose of Reality, and left understanding that it was ours all along. (Yeah, thanks Dorothy)

IMG_7299After notes:  Given that George Clooney went and picked our girl’s weekend to get married in Venice, our celebrity sightings for the weekend were not at a premium. We had Joan Jett on our flight from Seattle to LA, which led us to use the phrase “put another dime in the jute box baby” way too much. We saw Peter, and the model Edda Peturdottir.  For one thrilling second, I thought I saw Julia Roberts at Shutters, but then realized she was inevitably in Venice too, and it was the bellini talking. We made our own fun. We danced into the wee hours after dinner at Sur; thanks to our charming driver Simon, who told us he was the “Sur driver” (and wasn’t) and charged us 6x what we paid to get to the restaurant in the first place! We shopped at Fred Segals (which was cook beyond cool); we walked to Abbot Kinney, Venice Beach, and all over Santa Monica. We turned our heads every time we saw someone filming or taking photos, until we realized that was everywhere. We fell in love with Lift and met some of the greatest drivers (Michael, Beck, Gabe, Ryan) who were fair, entertaining and fun to be with. We felt free and fun, and laughed a lot.  Sadly, I bought a beautiful scarf that I wore to Sur, with my new Johnny Was dress. I took it off for the photos with Peter, and set it on the table near the entrance. Though there were only 2 other tables, and we can see it in all of the photos, when I left it there and called first thing in the morning, it wasn’t there. They promised to ask around and call me back either way, but I never heard back. Maybe Peter kept it as a reminder of those hot ladies he’ll never meet again? Reality bites. (Joan Jett and Fred Segals)

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And finally, if you don’t know tongue in cheek, if you think any of this is terribly serious– alas. It was a girl’s weekend, not real life.

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