Author: DeAnne Spicer Todd

I am a former dancer, childbirth educator, and union representative. Last year I became a certified EMT but I am not sure why. I have been a young mom to Andrew, 33, a regular age mom to Sofie, 23, and an old mom to Addie age 15. My husband Don and I live with our youngest daughter, three dogs, three cats, two rats, and one actual bird in our not so empty nest in Southern California.


I am pretending to be smart. I am in the library at the University of Oregon, sipping a decaf non-fat latte and typing away on my Mini iPad like I have something very important to say. I don’t. As always, I am dealing with the monumental struggle of thinking I should write something important when in reality most of what I write is about how I feel fat. I might as well just admit it: no great play or literature has ever come from someone who, a) will not sit down to write; and b) only thinks about herself and how she is aging daily without having contributed anything of importance to the planet. Except for my children, of course, but is that my accomplishment? No, it’s theirs. I was simply the vessel from which they were delivered. Like, I got a “Bowfinger” DVD from Amazon the other day, and I love “Bowfinger,” but I don’t think Amazon created it.

Two months ago I applied to be on the Disney Mom’s Panel (an unpaid writing job that does not qualify as “important” but looked like it would be fun). You can write to the Mom’s Panel on the Disney website and ask them “real life” questions about your upcoming Disney vacation and they will give you “real life” answers. When I found the application link on Facebook there were only five more hours until they were closed to submissions, so I spent a few minutes answering the seven essay questions and pushed Send. The next day I did some research and discovered that 10,000 – 15,000 women apply for only 50 or so positions, and I had no way of knowing how many positions were even open this year. This is a highly coveted and sought-after panel, and people try for it year after year. I’m not sure how many make it to round 2, but I read somewhere it was 300. Guess what? I made it to Round 2! I had to answer more questions and make a video this time. I spent a little longer composing the answers, but not much, and pushed Send. I did not make it to Round 3. Okay, it seems that half-assed measures only get you as far as Round 2. The people who went on to Round 3 are serious about Disney and are really good at grammar. I am neither. But here is the thing: I was really upset! I was so sad that I didn’t get picked for something I didn’t even really want to do. I was moping around the house, trying to pinpoint what this uncomfortable yet familiar feeling was… and then it dawned on me: Rejection! Oh! “Hello Rejection my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again. It’s been years! Welcome back. Still strong as ever, I see. Good for you! Now away with you because from now on I am only writing my blog where everyone loves me and I am never going to try to do anything where I might be rejected ever, ever again. So there.”

Luckily, Rejection only stays around a little while. (Thank God; he is a horrible houseguest.) Eventually he is replaced by Curiosity, Hope, Confidence, and the worst ever — Trying Again. Then most of the time Rejection comes back, and you start the entire cycle over again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. No way around it. I’m not sure if I have it in me to write anything else but this blog. But, I do know that I think maybe, I might, perhaps, maybe, try. After all, Rejection and I know each other well. He couldn’t stop me when I was a dancer, so I doubt he can stop me now.

I am the President and The Pope but not Kris Jenner

Our middle child bird flew the coop two weeks ago.  I guess technically she is a now a fledgling and is endeavoring to make her own nest at University of Oregon.  I would be remiss if I did not make the connection between her being a Duck and making a nest but I am not going to because that seems like too many bird metaphors.

Our Big Bird turned twenty-eight and has made a nest with his girl friend not too far away from here.  He is on his own but you know how birds come and steal your stuff to line their nests?  That is kind of what it’s like here. Sorry, more bird metaphors.

We are left with Baby Bird.  She is ten years old and so far away from leaving the nest that I alternate from ecstatic to devastated depending on my mood.  Some days when I look around at my friends with with their now empty nests, and their going to movies in the afternoon, and their staying up late, and their not having to drive anyone to horse lessons, and their “wow I can do whatever I want with my life” and their “I’m so sad the kids are gone” and I want to punch them. Boo effing Hoo.  But, it is not that time for us yet and even though we will be around one hundred years old when Baby Bird leaves I am happy she is still here. She is amazing and complex and I have to be nice to her because I think she is the only kid that will take care of us when we are old.

Fledgling when she was the baby bird.

Fledgling when she was the baby bird.

I have been parenting for twenty-eight years and some of it actually hasn’t totally sucked.  I roll my eyes when I hear, “It’s the best most important job there is!”  Because really?  What about President of the United States, or Pope, or running the Kardashian empire?  Those jobs seems way more important and special to me.  What keeps me from jumping off a bridge or running away with the circus (I actually have worked with a circus but that is a post for another time.) is the knowledge that my little birds think my job is really important and special.   At least I think they think that because they have never actually said it- but let’s pretend.  For them, for now, I am their Commander in Chief and Spiritual Leader and that actually is the hardest job I will ever love. Someday the nest will be empty,  but not today.  Yay.

Jewelry cures symptoms of Menopause!

I had every intention of going through menopause naturally. I envisioned myself cheerfully attending yoga classes while carrying a beautiful Japanese fan to breeze away my hot flashes. I would meditate and express gratitude to my Eastern Medicine Practitioner and Herbalist as she guided me through the “change of my sacred body”. This was the plan until I actually hit menopause. After a few weeks of sweating and plotting the disappearance of my family I threw the effing fan in the trash along with my bottle of Blue Cohosh and called a Western Doctor with a prescription pad. Even though I am not officially in menopause yet I am getting pretty close and I am proud to say that except for an estrogen patch, progesterone cream, Zoloft and Wellbutrin I have dealt with menopause completely naturally as planned! Fine, I caved, but it was a choice between taking hormones and anti depressants or behaving in a way that would become the lead story on The Nancy Grace Show and then having someone option my sordid tale and make it into a Lifetime movie. So there you have it. I am completely medicated but on the other hand I have not murdered anyone.

I do occasionally have insomnia. I am told this is quite normal for a woman “of a certain age” yet it makes things difficult when you are “of a certain age” and you still have to get your stupid kids to school on time.   I have tried everything from lavender to hot baths and nothing really helps. Believe it or not I do draw the line at sleeping pills like Lunesta or Ambien. First of all I am highly sensitive to those kinds of drugs and probably wouldn’t wake up for days. Mostly, I won’t take them for fear of getting up and eating in the middle of the night. People do that! I’d much rather be tired than fat. I have spoken to my entire staff of medical providers and drug dealers about this and it was suggested by a doctor that when I was having trouble sleeping I should watch the Weather Channel on TV. I do not recommend this at all. Due to Climate Change (and yes it exists) the once calming Weather Channel is now a horrifically stressful recounting of storms, floods, droughts, fires and death. I, for one, do not find this conducive to a good nights rest. One night a couple of weeks ago I was searching for something a little less frightening to watch than the weather and stumbled across the Gem Network. Filling the screen was a turntable full of fabulous jewelry in all it’s well lit for television glittering glory. Upon seeing this my pupils began to dilate, my breathing became shallow, and I dropped the remote. It is the best thing I have ever seen on television-ever. You can call in and ask to see a piece from the turntable of wonder and a model will put it on and show it to you close up as the host gives you “A price so low they are probably going to fire me!” Then they either sell it quickly or move on to another piece so it moves very fast and you get to see a lot of items unlike QVC that shows the same stuff forever. I can’t tell you how much I love this network and some nights even when I am sleepy I force myself out of bed so I can watch. It is my dirty little secret and kind of like fine jewelry pornography. I find myself thinking things like, “Oh my God show me that one! That’s right baby slip that ring on your finger so I can see the size. Now move it for me so I can really see it, slower… slower. There you go! Jesus! I can take it anymore! Those are so big! Are those real? Yes! Yes! Yes!”

I am not proud of this but it makes me happy, eventually bored and sleepy (like real porn) and luckily I don’t buy anything. I’m more of a voyeur or what the host would call a jewelry tease. I understand if you judge me so before you do I challenge you to turn on The Gem Network and try to look away. Especially after they get to the rock hard bottom prices.  Pretty soon you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll be feeling all tingly and you’ll be screaming my name. Don’t be afraid, that’s right, I know you want it.

Ghosts of a Chance

I had this big plan that while I was making my triumphant return to the stage in Ghosts of Versailles at the LA Opera I would blog once a week to give you the low down of how it was going. Turns out it is difficult to be an international opera star and a Mom so that didn’t happen. So here is the wrap up – it was amazing. I was scared to death before the first rehearsal but once I had my dance bag over my shoulder and I walked through the Artist Entrance at The Dorothy Chandler it was like I was home. By the time I got to the rehearsal room my feet turned out, my back straightened and I was a a full four inches taller. It was so fun to hang around dancers and singers again. It’s like returning to a foreign country you used to live in – even if you haven’t visited in awhile you remember the language.

Patricia Racette and Me

Patricia Racette and Me

Patricia Racette, who is a big time opera star, was Marie Antoinette. I was her decapitated body in all white including white mesh covering my skin to give me the ghostly pallor that I actually almost have in real life and the piece de resistance- a black bag on my head. For the most part my job was to stand ramrod straight wearing a corset and about 500 pounds of dress until it was time to throw myself to the ground and then stand back up without using my hands. Patricia (Ms. Racette to you) was wonderful to work with. She embraced the entire concept and even had great ideas for me to do with her. My job would have gone very badly if she was a big old Diva who didn’t want me to do anything but she was lovely and made me feel like I was an important extension of her. It also worked because I’m not stupid and I know when to hold the fuck still and stay the hell out of her way.

Let me remind you I have not set foot on a stage in fourteen years. I was working with a couple of my old friends but the rest of the dancers are major younger ballerinas who are still working. So, of course, it was only logical that I was the soloist. What? Please! Everyone on that stage could dance rings around me. (Ironically I danced in a ring- see photo above). But, because Patricia Racette and I are almost exactly the same size I was Marie Antoinette. Take that you skinny little dancers! Besides, my arms still look graceful because it seems in ballet the arms are the last to go and the big hoop skirt covered a multitude of sins. It was the largest role I have ever done at the LA Opera in their biggest most expensive opera to date. It should not have happened but it did. Not only that, I worked with Darko Tresnjak the current Tony Award winner for Director of a Musical and my own Peggy Hickey who choreographed said Tony Award winning musical. Again, what? I know- crazy. And for a kicker Patty Lupone was also in it and I sat three feet away from her on stage during her number. Eva Peron right in front of me! It was a Master Class in acting every night. The entire experience from rehearsals to performances was a gift and I cherished every moment.

Speaking of moments, during one of the dress rehearsals Peggy came running up to me, grabbed me and dragged me off

stage. I couldn’t imagine what I had done to be so publicly fired. Turns out Laura, one of the dancers, had passed out because of the black bag on her head and they needed an EMT.

Company Manager- We need to call an EMT!

Peggy- DeAnne’s an EMT but she is on stage!

Company Manager- Go get her!

When I got to Laura I ripped off my mesh death gloves so I could take her pulse. I was a bit nervous because in EMT school I could never find anyones pulse and I pronounced them all dead. But Bam! Right to it ! It helped that her pulse was racing but I found it! Then I got to do all my EMT observation and stuff and watch her color come back and her pulse return to normal. It was all very exciting. Now I don’t like to use the word hero but you can go ahead. I basically saved Laura’s life. No need for thanks- it’s what I do.

Actually, doing this opera kind of saved my life, or at least the part of me that was dying from neglect. I was reminded of who I used to be and I am reassured that I am who I want to be now. I need to remember that just because I am no longer doing it for a living doesn’t mean I am not a dancer anymore. I thought I had to put that part away like it never happened but I don’t. I will always be a dancer- even if it’s just in my living room or in my soul – it’s what I do.

Perfectly Scary

Every year I try to do something that scares me or challenges me.  One year it was the Avon Walk, two years ago I went back to school and became an EMT. I didn’t really do anything last year so with just days to spare I decided I would zip line through the Mayan Jungle while on vacation with my family.  Not sure which was scarier the zip line or spending the day with my family but either way it counts.  This year I am getting it out of the way immediately.  In just over a week I, DeAnne Spicer Todd, will heed the call of my many fans and return to the stage at the Los Angeles Opera.  I will be Marie Antoinette’s body to Patricia Racette’s Marie Antoinette head and voice in The Ghosts of Versailles. My friend Peggy is the choreographer and she presented the idea to me and two other old dancer best friends last year. She told us she had a gig to put together all the old gang for one last time at the opera and it was perfect for us because we had to wear bags over our heads.  I wasn’t even offended. Now before you say to yourself, “Well that makes sense now that you tell me you have a bag over your head but what about the fact that you haven’t danced in years and you no longer have a dancer’s body?”  The answer to that is I am wearing a big dress, it is more movement and “emoting” and I got the job because I was a perfect match for the singer.

Even when you are at the top of your game and in incredibly great shape, costume fittings are horrible – at least they were for me.  When I went in to the LA Opera costume shop for measurements last June I was fairly certain it would be the most humiliating moment of my life.  However,  I completely forgot at the opera you are treated like you matter, like you are an important artist.  To let the costume shop know I was there they announced over a loud speaker, “Miss Spicer is here for her fitting.”  I yelled, “Find the biggest measuring tape you have and meet me in Room One!”  During the fitting, I was told over and over I was perfect.  I was told so many times I was perfect I almost believed it.  It was kind of nice considering I never even feel close to perfect in my current job as wife and mother.  I was feeling so good about it didn’t even bother me when they were asking me questions to update my old information.

Opera- Is your bra size still 34B?

Me- No, it’s 36D.

Opera-Well, that is different.  Do you still weigh 115 pounds?

Me- I didn’t weigh 115 pound when I told you that 14 years ago

I have had two costume fittings since then and I have to say having the current Tony Award winning costume designer along with nine of her minions stare at you approvingly in a room with a spotlight on you is pretty damn cool.  Even with a bag over your head.

Now for the scary part.  Rehearsals start next week and I haven’t done this in a long time.  What if my hormonal memory problems make it so I can’t remember my choreography?  What if the other dancers make fun of me because I am so fat?  What if when I walk in the room the staff says, “Oh my God what happened to her? Quick put the bag over her head!”  What if the director fires me because he thinks I suck?  What if Patricia Racette hates me because she also thinks I suck and make her look bad? What if I am not perfect?

The saying is you can’t go back again or you can’t go back home again or something like that. Whatever the saying is I am facing my fears and doing it anyway.  How often are you offered a chance to step back into a world you loved not because of how you were then but because you are perfect right now?  I don’t really think I will suck and it will be fun to be with my friends creating art once more.  I will get to be  a dancer again for just a little while and then I will go back to my real life. Perfect.

DeAnne Todd
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Michael Brown

I came across an article on Facebook about “all the police officers killed in the line of duty that no one makes a big deal about”.  I am assuming this is in response to the protests in Ferguson over the shooting death of Michael Brown and the “big deal” people are making about an officer killing of an unarmed man.   I also assume, perhaps erroniously, the poster of the article does not have a full grasp of the situation and is in fact insensative to the sometimes fatal racism people of color face in our country every day or they wouldn’t feel the need to bring that up right now.

First of all, yes people do talk about police killed in the line of duty, as they should.  It is tragic and horrifying when it happens and generally does make headline news.  My father was a police officer and he told me if you got the call, “officer down”  you dropped everything and went to the scene.  Everytime my father put on his uniform and stepped out our front door he put himself in harms way but he did so by choice.  There is assumed risk to being a police officer.  He knew it and he did it anyway.  That is one of the reasons police officers are heroic and that is also the reason any comparrison to Michael Brown’s shooting is irrelevant. My Mother worried every day my father might not come home but she never worried her children wouldn’t come home because of the color of their skin, their size, or the fact they were wearing a hoodie and someone thought they looked shifty while eating Skittles. It’s different.  For every Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin there are thousands of young black men and women killed either by gang violence or the police no one is making a “big deal” about. And sorry to break it to you dear poster and Fox news pundits it is about race.  I don’t have any answers as to how to solve the problems with racism our country faces but I do know we can’t even begin to fix it if we don’t admit it exists.

I hurt for Michael Brown’s mother and at the same time I think, “Thank God my son is white.” I don’t want to be in her shoes and the fact that I am white means I probably won’t be.  How is this not about race?

I am sorry this post isn’t full of my usual clever and hilarious turn of phrase but there is nothing funny about this. Perhaps my next post will deal with important issues like my weight and how those darn rats are eating my tomatoes but today I am saying a prayer for peace and tolerance and that is no joke.




Botox Confessions

If you have read my blog before, you know (much to my Mother’s chagrin) that I tell all. Not about other people- I will carry your secret to the grave- but I feel better when I am an open book.  So, it’s surprising to me that I feel embarrassed to tell you that I shot my face full of Botox and Juvederm.  At least I think this is what embarrassed feels like, as I, (much to my Mother’s chagrin) am rarely embarrassed.  Plus my face doesn’t move.  So I might be embarrassed, or I might just be astonished – hard to say.  For fear of being judged, I have only told a few people, but rather than the reaction I thought I’d get – “Wow, you are really vain and stupid.” – this is the reaction I’ve received: “Where did you get it done and how much did it cost?”
The truth is, I am really happy I did it.  No one can tell but me because no one has spent the countless hours studying my face as I have.  People think I have new makeup, lost weight, or that I look well rested.  Don says he likes that I look like I am not frowning at him all the time.  I assured him I was still frowning on the inside.  I even plan on doing it again except next time I think a little less Botox.  I was at an AA meeting and a speaker was sharing a particularly difficult story.  I turned to my friend next to me and said, “I am actually really sad.  I just can’t move my face.”  She replied, “Where did you get it done and how much did it cost?”
I guess I’m embarrassed, because I thought I was above such petty vanity but my therapist pointed out that although I am not petty I am most certainly vain. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me. I really want to be the organic hippy that let’s her hair gray and wants her forehead to move but I am not. I want to live in a world where the Waldorf School is next to a really good mall. I want to wear Birkenstocks but carry a Birkin bag.  I want to eat my organic rice and beans off of antique French china and I guess I want to age just a bit slower.  Sue me.
That feels so good to admit!  (Sorry Mom.)  I am going to quit judging myself now –  at least about this particular thing.  I do understand if people judge my choice, but that probably means they have healthier self-esteem than I, or that they’re under forty-five.  Either way, it’s o.k.  If you want to call and tell me you think it’s a bad idea, I am fine with that.  But if you’d rather, you can also call and I will be more than happy to answer the question,  “Where did you get it done and how much does it cost?”

Semper Fi Marine

I am depressed today because I was told I cannot volunteer in the ER at Huntington Hospital if I have an EMT license and the lamp I want from Pottery Barn is on back order until March.  Does anyone else have to live with such hardship?  It’s a wonder I can stay sober.
 Actually, the real reason I am sad today is my Uncle Jack died last week.  I find it interesting people seldom use the phrase “he died”.  More likely they use the term “he passed” or “made his transition” or “lost his fight with cancer”.  I guess saying he died is too harsh but he did.
I went with my Mom to the funeral in Salt Lake and it was amazing.   It was a very traditional funeral and I haven’t been to many if any of those.  It was a cold day with snow on the ground and a bright beautiful blue sky.  I felt a bit shallow thinking it looked just like the movies with the snow and people in black with sunglasses and all but it did.  I was a little nervous about the viewing with an open casket but I didn’t need to be.  It wasn’t Uncle Jack.  It didn’t even look like him anymore.  So much of what forms our features is the spirit and when that is gone the body bears no resemblance to the living person.  I kept staring at him and trying to find him in the face before me but I couldn’t.  Addie told me she wishes she could have gone because she really wants to see a dead body.  I suppose we should start saving for medical school.
Uncle Jack was a devout Mormon but he did not want any funeral services that everyone not could attend.  He loved his sister and her children so much and even in death he was not exclusive.  The best part of Uncle Jack (and there were many) was not only his faith and strong beliefs, but that I never felt judged because mine were different.  I never heard him say a harsh word about anyone.  I know he loved me and respected me.  I learned from him the best way to earn respect is to give it.
He was a Mormon, a Cowboy, and a Marine.   I guess you could say he enjoyed structure.  He was kind and he was tough. He was the man you would call if you needed help. He didn’t have the type of success that most of us mistakenly yearn to achieve but he was the most successful man I ever met.  His life’s work was his family and he did that so very very well.
He was buried with military honors even though he believed he didn’t deserved them.  He fought in Viet Nam and achieved the rank of Captain in both the Army and Marine Corps.  The marine presenting the flag to my Aunt Shawna said, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation we present this flag as symbol of your loved ones honorable and faithful service.”  That was my favorite part of the day.  Well, that and the funeral potatoes we had for lunch.  After the services we returned to my Uncle’s ward and the Relief Society fed us lunch.  For those of you that don’t know, funeral potatoes are some kind of cheesy potato casserole and every one makes them as a little different.  There were four variations and I tried them all.  We also got jello salad with cool whip.  That lunch did for me what the missionaries my Uncle sent to me could not and I seriously considered converting. I think all the missionaries should be equipped not only with the Book of Mormon but with funeral potatoes.  Just saying.

I am not sure how I am going to adjust to his not being here.  I felt safe knowing he was out there.  Addie says he is watching over me and continues to fight the bad.  I believe that is true.  Semper Fi, Uncle Jack, your grateful niece salutes you and will miss you always.

Teenager Refuses To Lie And Spare My Feelings!

I am not proud of the story I am about to tell you, but I do so because I feel it is important for you to know that I am not as perfect as you think.  It might make you feel less inferior to realize I too occasionally have a bad day.
It was our last morning in Hawaii and the entire family was having breakfast together. Don had taken a few pictures and (here is the problem with instant access) I was not happy with how I looked.  I thought, “hmm I look older”, but instantly put it aside so as not to ruin the mood.  On the way back to the room to pick up our luggage and leave the following conversation occurred:
Me:  Don, I feel like I have really aged this year.  I don’t think I look forty anymore. (I am 52).
Don: You don’t look older.  You still look forty. (Good husband.)
Me:  No I don’t.  Sofie how old do I look?
Sofie: Forty-seven.
Don:  Sofie!
Me: Forty-seven?  Are you kidding me?  I don’t look that old.
Sofie:  Mom you are being ridiculous. That is still five years younger.
Don: Sofie!!
Me:  Big deal five years!  I want to look forty.
Sofie:  Well, that’s ambitious.
Don: Sofie!!!!
I then proceeded to actually cry all the way to the air port . I knew I had been kidding myself and that time had cruelly caught up to me.  I am no longer attractive and I will have to develop some sort of “skill” or “talent” to get through the rest of my life.  After we checked in for our flight and Don told me I was being overly dramatic and ruining our vacation (jeez) I began crying again and said, “But I don’t want to have surgery!  Maybe it is time to try botox or fillers.”  Don rolled his eyes at me and said I didn’t need them. Good husband.
My Grandma, Emy Brooks, at age 75
Why is it so fricking hard to age?  I hate that I live in a town where at fifty-two I look older than the other fifty-two-year-olds who are injecting their faces with silicone and numbing their foreheads.  Trust me, I have no judgements and I reserve the right to do it myself, but I wish it wasn’t a big deal to get older.  I had this idea that I would age gracefully and naturally like my Grandmother did.  But so far I am not going gently into that good night.  Besides, I don’t know how she really felt.   Maybe she struggled sometimes too, but she never complained and she made aging look beautiful. She told me once that her favorite age to be was whatever age she was at the time.  O.K.  Now I really feel like a loser.
My problem is I am the laziest vain person I know.  I think about how I look all the time but I hate taking the time to put on make up or blow dry my hair and I really like my sweat pants.   I am not happy that my skin is  beginning to fall off my face but I am not interested in doing anything to stop it. In a head to head contest lazy still beats vain.  Maybe some of my Grandma rubbed off on me after all.  I can only continue to hope.