gratitude-a-thon day 40: ann dowd and the oscars

Gosh, I love the Oscars. I love them just like I worked in an industry where I might actually be in contention for one. I love the pre-show red carpet, the actual red carpet, the fashion on that gosh darn carpet, and of course, the unpredictability/predictability of who will win and what they’ll say, or forget to say, or say in a some really dumb way that makes me always say, “I would have given a better speech than THAT.”

I did not see Les Miserable. Mostly because I hate musical movies (although I am fine with musical plays, go figure). I also despise Hugh Jackman for absolutely no reason. And while I hear that Anne Hathaway’s performance was stellar, I want to talk about another Ann who should have been in this category, but wasn’t.

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Ann Dowd. She’s adorable and genuinely lovely. And a REALLY great actress, too. She should have won, but she wasn’t in the category. (I hate when that happens.)

Ann Dowd, is the sister of my close friend Deb. She has been a working actress for her whole adult life. She was pre-med at Holy Cross, but fortunately for us, she chose to be a pretend doctor, instead of a real one. (In fact, did you see Marley & Me? She was the warm and lovely veterinarian.) Anyway, Ann has been in all sorts of movies, tv shows, and plays. (I saw her in an Off-Broadway production of “Our Town,” in which she was amazing.) And she has won all sorts of awards. Last year she starred in a disturbing movie based on a true story, called “Compliance.”  Her performance, as a fast food manager, convinced by a prank phone caller posing as a policeman, to interrogate a young employee accused of stealing, got Ann got big time Oscar buzz and major critical acclaim. But Magnolia pictures didn’t have the funds to do a big splashy PR campaign for her, so she did her own, with support of friends and family, putting together $13,000 of her own money to send members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the voters), the “Compliance” DVD. In the end, Ann didn’t get the nomination, EXCEPT IN MY BOOK. Because aside from being an extraordinary actress, she is an extraordinary person. She has three children, two of whom have special needs (and are exceptionally and awesomely special, I might add). One of those gorgeous kids is a foster child who Ann and her husband are adopting after a long relationship (with him and the courts). Ann is warm, and intelligent, and gorgeous and funny. She is generous and nurturing and genuinely one of the nicest people inhabiting our planet. So, really, I feel like the wrong Ann won. Because I count all that stuff, and I’m not saying Anne Hathaway isn’t a nice person, but I will go as far as to say she probably isn’t as nice as Ann Dowd. (BTW, Ann did win a National Board of Review Award and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, which she lost to Helen Hunt–nudity wins every time, as well as a Critics Choice Award.)

Anwyay, I didn’t love the show this year. I thought Seth had a couple of good moments that had me laughing out loud, but it was sort of an uneven show. I did find the cast of Les Mis singing really powerful (despite my disgust wtih movie musicals–I am being a bit Bipolar here, no?). And Jenifer Hudson and Adele were ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THIS WORLD AMAZING. And our hometown boy Ben winning Best Picture was really cool, shocking everyone (especially Spielberg). And for crying out loud, Jennifer Lawrence is adorable. And I just think Daniel Day-Lewis is the most lovely man that ever was (please don’t tell me anything different).

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She is the wrong Anne, but she got the dress right (well, except for the boobs).
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I can’t believe I’m posting a photo of Hugh Jackman, because I really don’t like him (except for he does have an old looking wife, which I did think was kind of great), but it’s the only photo of the the “Les Mis cast singing” dress I could find. It’s really beautiful, isn’t it?
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Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.
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The hair is bad, but that dress, AND THAT BODY. I’ll have what she’s having.
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This was really one of my favorite dresses. I just wish Melissa McCarthy could have looked this gorgeous.

And as for fashion, I did like the wrong Anne. I wished her red carpet dress fit better in the boob area, but I loved the back and the necklace was just WOW. I also adored the dress she wore when she sang on stage. And why couldn’t Melissa McCarthy, who is so freaking funny, have a dress like Octavia Spencer. That’s how you dress a curvy girl. And my other two picks for “I wish I had that dress,” are Samantha Barks–simple and stunning, and Renee Zellweger, ohmygod. Of course, I wouldn’t mind having their bodies either.

And that’s it for the Oscar round-up. Thanks for watching. See you next year.

gratitude-a-thon day 37: new york

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The Parker Meridien. We love this place.

Sorry for missing yesterday’s post, I may be a little spotty this week, because it’s school vacation week, and we’re doing some road trips, and I have a sinus infection the size of  Volkswagen.

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It’s morning, but I could eat one of these burgers right now.

I like to get to New York as much as I can. We usually go at least once a year, for one of the kid’s school vacations. We always stay at the Parker Meridien because they have a pool on the roof and it overlooks Central Park, so you can’t argue with that, plus it’s really close to Bonwit’s (and why don’t we have one of those?) and the mothership, Sak’s, and Uniglo (which is fun and cheap and not in Boston, either) and Barney’s. We initially began staying here because it’s a really kid-friendly place, and they used to love the pool, but this time, they haven’t been swimming once. Ah, teenagers. Also, I should mention that they have the best burger in town. It’s at this little place, that lore has it, was there before the hotel was built. And it literally is a hole in the wall, and only serves burgers, fries, milkshakes, beer, wine, the end. It’s a soup Nazi situation, where you better know what you’re ordering, or you go to the back of the line. It’s called The Burger Joint, but it’s only identified by a neon burger. You must go. In fact, you should leave what you’re doing, and go this minute. This is a kind of awful trip, on account of I’m sick. And so is Ally. And our friends Deb and Charlie decided to join us, and Deb isn’t feeling well and neither is one of her kids. So, we’re kind of a sorry group. But we have managed to do some great stuff. And it’s the kind of stuff that tells the story of why I could have written the jingle “I LOVE NY.” Here are just a couple reasons. There are about a billion more.

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Saw Seinfeld here last year. What a New York experience.

1. The New York diner. Peter and I had one of these around the corner from us when we lived here before we got married. It was called the Silver Star. And you could get anything at this place. Really, ANYTHING. The menu was only slightly shorter than War and Peace. Recently we got turned onto the Brooklyn Diner. Last year we saw Seinfeld eating his breakfast there. It’s absolutely amazing food, and all the waiters are aspiring actors, so that’s kind of fun, too. It’s more refined than the diners I’m really talking about, but nonetheless, it’s delish. Plus, honestly, the woman next to us ordered a hotdog and it was the size of a dachsund.

2. The people. The people watching gets a freaking A ++++. There’s no place better, if people are your theater.

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This show wins for staging and costumes, hands down.

3. And speaking of theater. The theater. We saw The Lion King. We saw it a long time ago, but it’s good enough to see again. And there are so many amazing options on Broadway, off Broadway, you name it. Rich, rich, RICH arts world here.

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I was sick for my entire stay in NYC. This is how it made me feel.

4. And now that you mention art, we went to MOMA yesterday and saw The Scream, Starry, Starry Night and Christina’s World, plus a painting made of pollen, which was totally and completely tremendous. And we could have gone to like 700 other museums, too.

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When I saw Elton, he changed costumes, like every third song
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Don’t get me started on my man Adam. He is very cute, ladies.

5. Madison Square Garden. Wow. Big. Big. Big. Maroon Five and Neon Trees  was great, but equally cool was being in the famed MSG. I hadn’t been there since I saw Elton John with Nicky Barzetti on Thanksgiving day my sophomore year of high school. (John Lennon was his special guest, which I had predicted because they both had songs out that they sang back up on, and I could barely watch because I WAS SO SHOCKED THAT I WAS ACTUALLY RIGHT ABOUT JOHN LENNON–ONE OF THE BEATLES–BEING THERE)! And by the way, Elton John’s name was hanging from the rafters, as a retired number! Guess he won’t be playing there again!

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Oh ABC Carpet. Why aren’t you my house?

6. The shopping. It’s ridiculous. And basically puts any other city in the States to shame. I haven’t gotten to do my rounds because I feel too awful, but I did manage to hit the Barney’s Warehouse Sale yesterday (it was picked over, so I got a big fat nothing) and ABC Carpet, which I would actually live in if they would let me.

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I could definitely get into someone blow drying my hair everyday. Yeah, who couldn’t?

7. The Dry Bar. It’s a great little place, actually it’s beautifully designed, and all they do is blow dries. Nothing else, just the blow job. I took Ally and our friend Lily. My hair still looks awesome.

There are a whole lot of other reasons I love New York, although being sick in the city that never sleeps, isn’t one of them.

gratitude-a-thon day 36: attention deficit disorder (squirrel!)

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I could never shut up as a kid in school. I talked incessantly, being told to be quiet, several times a day, only to start talking again moments after being reprimanded. I was smart, but social, my teachers would say. And I don’t think I ever got a report card that did not state in loopy penmanship, “talks too much,” and “does not work up to her potential.” In kindergarten I had to sit in the corner by myself one day because I was talking. I came home sobbing, and told my older sister about my misery, who replied, “Welcome to the Friedman motormouths.” As young as I was, I somehow knew that I was following in a less than desirable family tradition. When I had my son, it didn’t take long for the letters A.D.D. to be bantered around. (SQUIRREL!) He was a tornado of activity from his earliest moments. And while he was clearly super bright and engaging, his activity level and curiosity dogged us from his earliest school experiences. I won’t go into the whole, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY LONG story in detail, but after having him tested in 2nd grade, we found he did indeed have A.D.D., and the school thought he should be put on medication, but we resisted, feeling adamantly opposed to the idea of medicating a 7 year old. By third grade, with the help of an exceptional therapist, who was acting as a sort of parent coach to us, supporting us to make the right decisions with Jake, and a highly experienced, and extraordinary 3rd grade teacher, it became obvious that it was time to seriously consider medication. My husband took a month off from work, and the two of us immersed ourselves in making this decision. We read everything we could, and even visited the renowned Edward Hallowell, the author of “Driven to Distraction.” It wasn’t easy, but drowning in research and exhausted from thinking, we decided to try it. And within three weeks, his teacher called him an “ideal student.” Jake was feeling good about himself, because, what his medication did for him is the same thing as glasses do for a person with nearsightedness. As my husband and I learned about A.D.D., we realized that we both had it, but had learned strategies to cope with it. There was no such moniker as A.D.D. when we were kids, so therefore there was no help for it (the truth is there was no drug for it, so there was no name for it). My daughter, a chatter box like her mom, wasn’t diagnosed until fifth grade, but of course, when the symptoms appeared, we knew exactly who to see, and how to test. But don’t cry for us, Argentina!  Yes, we are the A.D.D. family, but  I’ve got to tell you, I’ve found that A.D.D. people are some of the most creative and interesting I have met. Those three letters may make it more difficult to focus, but they also seem to make it more possible to take in lots of information, and tap into creativity in fascinating and off-beat ways. And more than not, A.D.D. people are often quite social and have an insatiable curiosity for life. We think of it as a positive in our family. And we treat it like that. I’m not saying, it doesn’t require more work to live with A.D.D, but I am saying I’m grateful for it. Yup, I actually am. It’s kind of a cool sort of malady, once you get the hang of it. It’s thought that Einstein, Mozart, da Vinci,  Churchill, Walt Disney, Alexander Graham Bell, and John Lennon, among other creative and high-achieving people had it, too. And while I may not contribute anything nearly as monumental, or significant as those examples, I’m pretty darn happy to be in their company.

gratitude-a-thon day 34: my other man

IMG_0611After posting about meeting my husband yesterday, I thought I should, full disclosure, discuss the fact that I’m also in love with another guy. He’s gorgeous and outdoorsy. He’s a runner, and loves to play ball. He’s so cute that women stop him on the street. (RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!)

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He loves to cuddle while we watch movies.(Adorable, right!) He is a voracious eater, and thinks I’m a great cook. He hates when I pay attention to anybody else, but he always thinks I’m right. (And who doesn’t love that?) He makes me laugh by doing funny things all day and night. He’s very protective of me. He enjoys a good nap. He practically throws a parade when I come home, even if I’m out for just a few minutes. He is very well-groomed, although he doesn’t spend a dime on clothes. All my girlfriends are jealous that they don’t have a guy just like him.

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I love him in the deepest and most profound way. I can gaze into his eyes for hours, and stroke his head, and kiss him all day and night. He knows how to calm me down when I’m crazy, and how to make me smile when I feel blue.

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I am so grateful that my husband allows me to give so much attention to my other man. And that he doesn’t mind that we all sleep in the same bed. In fact, I actually think he loves my guy as much as I do.

gratitude-a-thon day 33: peter

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This is us 26 years ago. (Could my hair get bigger?)

My boyfriend broke up with me. How many more pathetic frogs would I have to put up with, before I found the right guy? I was more and more convinced I would never get married. I was working at my first agency job. I had a little crush on an art director, Rob. He had a girlfriend. (Drats!) I had to go to a conference on radio in New York. My sister who lived there, was away. I wanted to go the night before because it began at 8:00, so I asked Rob if he knew anyone in New York I could stay with. He picked up the phone that moment, and called his old college roommate, Peter. He asked him and then gave the phone to me. “I’ll be out to dinner, but I’ll leave the keys with the doorman,” is what he said. “Don’t be upset if he doesn’t pay attention to you, he’s a chemist and he pretty much works all night,” Rob warned me. I was cool with that. I just needed a place to stay, so this was good. I flew with a friend from the agency, complaining about my “single” status. She complained about her married one. We had dinner and then I headed to East 63rd between 1st and 2nd. I grabbed a six of beer around the corner and got the key from the doorman. It was a student slum in a gorgeous building. The couch I was going to sleep on slanted inward. The cushions would suffocate me by morning. The windows had grime on them. Thank you, Rob. I sat myself on a chair and turned on the television, grossed out by my surroundings. In walked a short guy, and a tall GORGEOUS guy. I literally thought, “OHMYGODMAKEITTHETALLGUY!” I wondered if I’d said it out loud. “I’m Peter and this is Kurt, I’m going to change my pants.” Sort of an odd thing to say, but I was so dazed by this guy’s looks, I didn’t care if he’d said, “I’m going to commit a murder.” The Kurt person was droning on in a rather squeaky voice and I was literally thanking my lucky stars that this wasn’t who Rob had gone to college with. Peter came back into the living room and asked me if I’d like to go out for a drink. (But Rob said….)  We went to a cute bar down the street, called Nimrods. Then he asked me if I wanted to see his lab. (the new “etchings.”) His lab was nothing special, but then he took me to the roof, which overlooked the glistening East River and we talked and talked, and at like 1:00 in the morning, he said, “Can I be really honest with you?” I nodded. “I’d really like to take a shower with you.” I was so impressed with his candor that all I could do was laugh. And instead of a shower, we kissed and I am pretty sure that there were a million fireworks that went off over the river. Talk about a chemical reaction. I kept saying, “This is crazy.” And Peter kept saying, “It’s New York, anything can happen here.” And it did. I fell in love that night. On First Avenue, at Rockefeller University, after drinking beer at Nimrods. It was that simple. Needless to say I did not sleep on the killer couch. (Nor did I sleep at all). In the morning, I dragged my exhausted self out of bed to get ready for the conference, and Peter outstretched his arms toward me for a hug. This was such an endearing act, I melted like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. “Come back tonight,” he begged. “I can’t,” I answered. We kissed goodbye. I got to the radio conference starry eyed and told my friend that I had met the man I was going to marry. I ditched the conference after an hour and called Peter at his lab. We met and headed downtown to Canal jeans. (I never missed a trip there when in New York)  and then to China Town for dinner, talking incessantly, all the way. We called a shocked Rob that night to tell him we were in love. I flew home the next day, with a photo of Peter in my bag, and the dazed and crazed flu-like symptoms of love.  And that was that. We flew back and forth for about a year. We had non-stop weekends in New York and Boston, doing all the most fun stuff. It was insanely romantic. It was totally magic. He asked me to get married in the hallway of my Newbury Street apartment (He couldn’t even wait to get upstairs!) I moved to New York for a year, while he finished his post doctoral work. We moved back to Boston, where I wanted to be. (He’d gotten jobs all over the country) and he got a job as an assistant Professor of Chemistry at M.I.T. We have been married for twenty five years. We made two AMAZING kids. It hasn’t always been easy or as much fun as the way we met, but it has been something deep and real. We are a continual work in progress, as we should be. (Remember what Woody Allen said about a dead shark in Annie Hall?)

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This is us now.

So, if you’re alone this Valentine’s Day, remember, life can change in an instant. Someone might get delivered to your door, like I got delivered to Peter’s. You might meet your person by doing something you normally wouldn’t. Love does happen. Good God, I’m lucky and grateful it happened to me on June 18, 1985. I love you, Rami.