How Much Time Do You Spend On Your (Facebook) Appearance?


Love or hate it.

FB Feast or FB Fast.

I ran into a long lost pal of mine at Trader Joe’s, a girl
that I had been pals with in my teens. We had both been theater geeks in
Washington DC together and there we were in the middle of a Los Angeles Trader
Joe’s, coffee samples in hand, shooting the proverbial shit.  Even though it had been close to thirty years
since we’d seen one another, it didn’t feel that way, due in large part to

I’d seen the pics of Evie and her fabulous life. There were photos of Evie, with countless men, holding her
drink at yet another social or work “gathering.”

Turns out, Evie’s life is not so fabulous.

Nor is mine, for that matter, but you’d never know it from
our Facebook pages. Why? Because we both give good Facebook.

We both know that Facebook is–


And that’s what Evie and I, chewing on a sample of cranberry
crunch granola, were deeply pontificating about.  Not about our professions or our kids. Not
about our lovers or husbands. Bloody FACEBOOK.

“What you post says a lot about you,” Evie said. “I
can’t stand people who don’t know the rules, the etiquette. We don’t want to
hear about your bad day with the plumber. Come on!”

She’s right. We are the curators. We are the “content
specialists” and it is our job to showcase our “heritage” in the best light.  We add flattering photos of ourselves that shave
off ten years, the family-friendly pics that display our offspring, the
non-offensive posts that won’t offend our base. We brand ourselves. “Marathon Mom”
“Nerdy/Witty Writer” “Porn Star Wanna-Be.”

But sometimes, just sometimes, there are people who break the rules. Buck
the system.

They make snarky comments.
Post political diatribe.  Post
overtly sexual pics of themselves. Tag people who don’t want to be
bothered.  Cause fights and name drop and
wreak conversational havoc.  Their candle
burns out fast but then they re-emerge, under a new pseudonym. Now they are
“Frankenstruedel” or “Joe Shmo” or “FB White.”  When you’re in a “war” with one of these
rebels, Facebook can be a very disturbing landscape.

“Facebook is like a vacuous lover” Evie continued. “It fills
that hole inside you. You post pics of yourself, of your loved ones, then feed
off all the adulation. It’s a quick fix. Then you need a cold shower, ‘cause
you feel like a WHORE.”

That’s one way to look at it.

Another way to look at it is that Facebook is like having
your own talk show.  As effortless as late
night comedy shows make it look, stand-up is a hard gig.  We all have that one Facebook pal who is
perpetually witty. Every post they make cracks us up.

This is a rare talent and
most of us are not up to the task.  KNOW
YOUR TALK SHOW.  If you’re more daytime
Katie Couric or sassy Wendy Williams, stick to that format. Don’t try to be
Craig Ferguson.  The Scottish accent
alone will trip you up.

My friend was passionate about a few basic Facebook rules:

1. “People should not post what they are eating. Please! By the
time they post it, they will have chewed, digested and excreted it.  It’s already part of the sewage water!”

2. “If you’re going to post only pics of yourself drinking,
that’s fine, but know that we’re all going to think of you as still in high school.”  And lastly…

3. “Your ‘selfie’ is Exhibit A.
Know your lighting.”

Off the record, I admire people who are too busy, too secure
and just plain over Facebook.  They have
a life.  They already have enough spackle
to fill their pot hole. No need to contract out.

Okay kids, I gotta run.
It’s been 12.6 minutes since I checked my new profile shot.

Our Un-Entitled Dani Shear


“Madison got an iPad for her birthday.  Why can’t I?????” The whining, nagging tone is back and it’s only 9 in the morning.  “Because YOU are not Madison and I am DEFINITELY not Madison’s mother.”  Or as my mother used to tell me: “Because the sky is high.”

This does not appease her.

My fourth grader has taken nagging to a new skill set. She is an unabashed complainer, as committed to getting her way as Karl Rove is to getting the Republicans back in office.  “I’m the ONLY one of my friends that doesn’t have an iPad!  It’s not FAIR!!!!”

She’s only warming up.

To combat this sense of entitlement that I see all around her, I took my girls to an Amish dairy farm last summer.  To say it was “rustic” was an understatement. It was more Laura Ingalls Lite.

My first night, as I unpacked our belongings, I secretly wept like a baby. Our accommodations were located up a 100 year old, creaky flight of stairs, farmhands living right below us, no electricity and no chocolate under the pillow. “Was this grounds for child endangerment?” I wondered. Had I pushed this little experiment too far?  My anxiety over-taking me, I popped a Lunesta and sobbed myself to sleep.

The next morning, we were summoned to the main house for breakfast. A long mission table was filled to the brim with the family, the farm hands and us.  We went around the table and introduced each other and then everyone sang a Christian hymn (being a Jew, I just faked my way through it, bobbing my head up and down ). With this large family all belting out songs, I had visions of us all running in the field as the camera swooped down on “The Sound of (Mennonite) Music.”

Then it was off to milk the cows and gather the eggs from the chickens. The girls were enthralled.  We went off to the Amish version of “Disneyland” down the street, where the girls sack-sled down long, slippery slides and jumped on the biggest rope-held, hand-made jumpies I’d ever seen.  There were goats to feed and shoo fly pies to eat, and magic shows and I kid you not, it was the best fair I’d ever been to.  No bells and whistles, only crafty, well-made games/toys and events that took creativity to a new level.

The irony was that besides all the conservatively dressed Amish children running around in their bonnets and jackets, the park was inundated by conservatively dressed, Orthodox Jewish children, some of whom were wearing the traditional skull-cap.  I did a double take when I saw a kosher pizza booth. The fair obviously caters to this community, these modest, misunderstood, religious groups having more in common than first meets the eye.

Day One, a success.

So was Day Two, where a kind, Amish grandpa gave us a horse and buggy ride, regaling us with stories of his 35 grandchildren.  He was so lovely, I was tempted to ask if he’d take on a couple more.  I mean, once you hit 30, who’s counting?  We stopped at a local craft shop and an Amish one-room school house. Day Three, we went to a chocolate factory (not affiliated with the Amish people) and I treated myself to a box of dark chocolates for the long trip home, a week later.  I hid them in a safe place, as mommy was not going to share these gems.

An Amish farm across the street housed a family with five, sweet daughters, and as they would pass by on their horse and buggy, they would wave to my two girls.  With their big smiles, they looked like the most joyous girls I’d ever seen.  My daughters waved back frantically, desperately wanting a playdate.

“I want to be Amish!” my eldest announced.  “Do you think Daddy would move here and become a farmer?” she asked in earnest. I had to hold back a giant cackle.  The idea of my lawyer husband/prince wearing suspenders and saying ba-bye to hot showers, Shabu-Shabu and his Laker season tickets was too rich an image to bear.

The last day we were on the farm, as I packed, my determined, jean-clad, eldest daughter braved the trek to the farm across the way and knocked on the door of the Amish family with the five beautiful daughters. I held my breath, but they welcomed her in.

When I went to pick her up an hour later, I walked right by her.  My girl was fully decked out in an Amish dress, hair pulled tightly back in a simple, white bonnet. She was totally unrecognizable and beaming ear to ear. They insisted she keep the outfit.

I burst into tears, my weeping reaching that high-pitched tenor.  It was one of those awkward John Boehner moments, but I was so “ferklempt” by this gracious, un-spoiled family, I couldn’t stop crying.  My girls were so embarrassed, they asked if they could stay longer with this amazing new family.  Like forever.

As we drove off, I suddenly stopped my car and pulled a u-turn.  I asked my daughter to hand me my bag.  I knew what I had to do.  I grabbed my untouched bag of beloved dark chocolates.  They were clearly not meant for me…

“How was the trip???” my husband wanted to know when we got back.  We just stared back in silence, unable at first to express the profound, intense experience that had newly defined us.  And yes, it did impact my eldest, who was old enough to “get” it.

Now, instead of an iPad, my daughter nags me for a horse.

Getting Hooked

Let’s face it, girls.  There are some things about being a mommy, they just don’t tell us.  Like how, after giving birth, your tummy and titties will never look the same.  How, even if you’re a citizen, on some days, you threaten your kids with deportation.  How, one day, your child will go to a school fair and with boundless enthusiasm, thrust at you a plastic bag with a live, gill-bearing craniate animal in it.

And how just like that, you are the Mother of the Fish.

Perhaps I am underestimating you, dear reader.  Surely some of you will handle this newfound responsibility with great aplomb.  I, on the other hand, did not handle myself well. “What in G-d’s name am I supposed to do with THIS!?!”  I screamed at my (then) 7-year-old.

After all, I was just starting to get my groove on with two young girls, one in elementary school and one in preschool. The shlepping alone was killing me. We had already warned our little hellion that a dog was not in the cards. Non negotiable! But a fish…oh man, I didn’t have a speech for that. I was off my game. And there it was, swimming furiously in this claustrophobic, plastic bag, looking up at me with eyes that pleaded for mercy. Or at least fish food.

I knew NOTHING about fish. Yes, I had seen “Nemo” twice, taken my girls to the glorious Long Beach Aquarium, sat, reflected, prayed in awe at the fat, flirtatious koi fish at Lake Shrine Temple.  But I was a total sturgeon, I mean, virgin, when it came to sea creatures. Suddenly, I was responsible for their bed, board and BettaMin.

I ran over to the local pet shop and bombarded the Fish Man with endless questions. “How much sleep does it need?  Can I pet it?  Do they like play toys?”  Dang it, I was going to be the best “mother-of-the-fish that ever lived.

The next morning, I awoke to a scream reminiscent of a Wes Craven film and found my first-born, George, impaled on the harpoon of my new diver toy.  My daughter blamed me for his demise and rightly so.  I thought he could use a little stimulation. I just wanted to enhance the quality of his life.

I was so livid, I went marching in the pet shop, tears streaming down, demanding both my money back and an explanation. “How can you sell this DEATH TOY”, I wailed at the manager.  My kids looked at me like ,“Mom, get a grip.” You see, the one thing I least expected with this whole fish ordeal actually occurred.  I became emotionally hooked.

My tanks kept getting bigger and bigger.  One day my husband came home to find a 10 gallon tank….for two goldfish.  And in one of my not-so-proud moments, I erased someone else’s bid at a school silent auction so that I could close Escrow on an eye popping acrylic aquarium.  Hey, we all know real estate is an ugly business!

When we go out of town, I do a background check on my sitters. “Have you ever sat for more than one fish before?  Quick, what’s the difference between a goldfish and a beta fish?  Define “pinch” for me. And so on. Why do they look at me like they’re doing ME a favor? I can stare at these bewitching creatures for hours.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I’m a mom.  I can stare at them for minutes…many many minutes.

We have had our share of fish drama.  Sammy Davis, our magnificent black goldfish with the most beguiling, bulging eye, was bullied by Orangina, a fancy orange goldfish.  I watched in horror as Orangina nipped at him, over and over.  “Can’t we all get along?!?” I pleaded.  Finally, I bought another tank.  By the time I implemented the bully prevention program , it was too late. The fish man at Petco told me we must euthanize Sammy Davis.  It was the compassionate thing to do.   My kids were bummed.  I was HEARTBROKEN.

A few weeks later, my (then) 8 year old was looking in the tank and saw only something her young eyes could detect. Little white specs. “They’re eggs, mom” she wisely determined. “Don’t be silly” I told her. “Fish Man said that goldfish never mate in these tanks. Only in the wild.” “Fish Man is WACKED”, she adamantly stated. “These are eggs!”  She transferred them to the new tank which had housed our deceased little soldier.  And lo and behold, they were eggs!  No wonder Orangina bullied Sammy Davis!  He was protecting his turf, his maiden, Fleur (think: Fleur Delacour from Harry Potter).

One day, a teeny tiny speck of a guppy, wriggled around…one survivor, out of the hundreds of eggs.  I don’t have to tell you what we named him. Nemo lived for three glorious weeks. Then an overzealous mom changed the water and…kaput. I was not the only one who mourned.  My kids, my parents, the in-laws, even my nanny all sat shiva for Nemo.  You’d think after this, I’d hang it up. Call it a day. I mean, how much loss can one family bear?

Before you despair, dear reader, there is a silver lining.  Orangina has now been with us for two years, Fleur as well And they’ve had a roommate for a year now, an electric blue fighting fish named “Skye.”  And yes, they all get along.

So mammas, when it comes to getting hooked, good luck and g-dspeed.  Or as my nine-year-old says: Layta Beta!

Here's To The Fat Dani Shear

I’m not just a fat mommy. I’m a fat mommy in the Palisades. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Pacific Palisades is a serene, lovely community on the cliffs between Santa Monica and Malibu.  Perhaps it’s the close proximity to all the good hiking areas, but the moms around here are like the milk I buy – organic and fat-free.

You walk into a boutique store and you’re lucky to find a “medium.”  Palisades moms juice in the morning, pop an egg for lunch, down a salad with protein for dinner.  The dirty four letter word up here is “flab.”  “Skinny bitch” is considered a total compliment.

Now I’m not looking for pity.  A couple years ago, we left our beloved Venice for this kid-topia and I have absolutely no regrets.  Never mind that I came up here kicking and screaming, donning my bright pink ski cap. I have made peace with this Land Of The Lean. I don’t even stare anymore when I see a hot mother of four in her size 0 Lululemon yoga pants.  Her thin ankles don’t frighten me.

What frightens me is a whole other kind of mommy.  “Teen Mom’s Farrah Abraham’s Porn Includes Stunning Backdoor Scenes” screams the headline.  A pal of mine on Facebook has the whole story on his status. And all I can think is…OY.  WTF has happened to us? How can you be a mother and make a sex tape? When did this become acceptable?  And who has the time?  Fat Mommy and Fat Daddy barely have time to grunt at each other much less do the nasty and storyboard the darned thing.

For fear of sounding prudish, I would never show my front door, back door or even side-boob to any stranger. Are you listening, Steve Hirsch?  I would never punish anyone that way. I am a MOM.  I only give that type of anguish to my kids. They have to withstand the sight of their fat mommy getting into the tub, getting out of the tub, squeezing into my too-small jeans w/ mamma meat hanging out the sides. It’s not a sight everyone can stomach. They’ve had years of practice.  All those times I thought they had a tummy wog, nope, it was just mom squeezing into her Spanx.

But even if I had my old body back, the one I had in my early twenties when I was teaching step aerobics and making cassette tapes (yes, you heard me, cassette tapes) for my power cardio class, pounding my poor body into a sculptured submission, I would never make a sex tape. My badunkadunk was NEVER ready for its close-up.  How can you teach your kids to respect their bodies if Mommy doesn’t respect hers?

Which brings me to eating dinner with my girls in the Palisades.  I am sitting in one of the new swanky Italian restaurants.  One of these demon moms is sitting next to me, nibbling on her salad frisee.  The waiter approaches our table with an ENORMOUS hollowed out wheel of parmesan cheese which serves as the bowl for my pasta.  He plops it down in front of me.  Skinny Bitch looks at me with both shock and envy.

I am momentarily embarrassed and pass it off to my 4 year old daughter, pretending the massive dish is hers.  “Here’s your mac and cheese!” I exclaim loudly. “EW!  This is NOT mac & cheese! It has bacon in it!” my 4 year old screams, totally throwing me under the bus.

And then it hits me. What am I ashamed of?  OWN. IT.  I take back the dish with a newfound sense of pride. How can my girls rejoice in their bodies if I’m not at total peace with mine?  There is so much to celebrate about being Fat Mommy.  Fat mommies are passionate.  Fat mommies are snug-able. Fat mommies are innovative.  We see a woman crossing the street with a yoga mat and we think…PICNIC BLANKET!

I look over at Frisee Salad Mommy and feel profound sadness for her.  She will never know the taste of aged parmesan mixed with crispy pancetta and white truffles.  Who am I kidding? I am so happy right now.

And then Ben Affleck walks in.  I look at him. He looks at my vat of cheese. “That looks incredible!” he says, smiling politely.

“I wouldn’t know. They brought it to the wrong table,” I lie.  “She ordered it,” I say, pointing to Frisee Salad Mommy.

We'll Always Have Dork Dani Shear

Moms need chill time, time alone with other moms to recap, reflect and rejuvenate.  Whenever I hear the old adage “Happy wife, happy life”, I envision Ren & Stimpy dancing around singing “happy happy joy joy”.  In my version, however, Ren is a 42 year old mother of two and Stimpy,, her bestie, a mom of three.  Together, they dance around, pinot grigio flying out of their glasses as they plan their weekend getaway from their brood.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my little hellions and sometimes I’m even fond of my husband.  But I also know at the core of my soul that mamma needs a time-out once a year and I intend to make this a tradition, squatting on a massage table, much like that poor turkey on our Thanksgiving table.  

The tradition began this year when an invitation arrived for a wedding in Sonoma County, a destination wedding, how fun!  I was sure my husband would want to go. Nope! The thought of driving 16 hours in three days shockingly didn’t appeal to him.  But to me, hitting the road meant FREEDOM!!  So, I asked my girlfriend, Nicola, if she would “Thelma & Louise” it up with me to wine country. After clearing it with her husband, she agreed to be my wedding date.  My husband tried one last tactic before giving me his blessing…guilt.  “You know, the kids start school the day after you get back!” he proclaimed.  I feigned a look of concern, but heck, I was already buckled in my seat.

We broke dust early on a Friday and hightailed it to the Central Coast.  We met up with yet another pal, Theresa, and hit two wineries for tastings. At the first place, the wine was dreadful and the pours, seriously frugal, which brings to mind a Woody Allen joke from Annie Hall:  Two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain Resort and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible”.  The other one says, “I know, and such small portions!”

The next winery more than made up for it.  We got an older Irish gentleman, who was generous not only with his tastings but with his tales.  The wine was delicious. We sipped countless extraordinary wines and laughed with our wine barista for a solid hour, and then picnicked out on the benches.   Heaven.  Was I missing the fam?  Heck no.  This was more peace than I had known in a decade.

Before heading north, we all got a tea in town to sober up.  Then, 4 ½ hours later, Nicola and I pulled up to the Doubletree in Sonoma County.  There was a big sign outside the front entrance that read “Welcome To Dork Fest.”  We did a double take and then laughed ourselves silly.  “Clearly, they knew we were coming” Nic said.  We asked a woman in the lobby (seemingly not a dork) to take our picture by the sign. This was too good a Facebook post to pass up.  It might even be profile worthy.  We checked our emails and went to bed, determined to check out Dork Fest the next day.

Dork Fest is an annual gathering of mostly men and a few women who bought the M/Z3 Coupe during the only couple of years it was available. While some might say this limited vehicle was a dud and the BMW’s version of the Edsel, these folks adore their unique wheels.  They proclaim themselves “dorks” for their infatuation.  That, and many think the car looks like a Blue Whale’s penis (also known as a “dork”).  I know, how special.  And even though you didn’t ask, I will share that the whale dork is 15 feet long, the testicles weigh approximately 22 pounds and can produce up to 20 gallons of sperm.  No wonder these folks are proud!  In the parking lot of the Doubletree, Nicola and I found the Dorks admiring their vintage vehicles. There was no food, drink nor music, just Dorks, a sea of them in all different colors.  “Are you kidding me, this is it?” we thought aloud. But before we headed off to explore the sweet town of Petaluma, we took half an hour and interviewed some of these Dork Fest attendees, making a mini mockumentary, just for our own amusement.

As it turned out, the Dorks were lovely people…eccentric, but sweet.  Their passion for their cars was rivaled only by their admiration for each other. Through the years, these self-proclaimed “Dorks” had forged strong friendships and their fondness and respect for each other were evident.  They had begun their own tradition, just as I was hoping to do with my mommy pals.

That afternoon, Nicola and I raced off to Santa Rosa, to attend the wedding of my old neighbor from the Venice Canals.  We made it in the nic of time, pun intended.  Nic was flooring it, while I let my toe nails dry in the sunroof of the car.  Nicola is a Brit and it felt like we were in one of those English movies, speeding off to a wedding (or funeral).  I glanced back but, pity, there was no Hugh Grant in our backseat.  We pulled in to discover a stunning vineyard property, intimate, cozy and picture perfect.  There were even two gorgeous young flower girls to seal the effect.  Nicola, a consummate photog, became the undesignated wedding photographer.   We danced, we drank, we ate, we took selfies.  It was relaxing and indulgent.