Tuesday, July 28, 2015

humbled

In 2002 I am talking to a casting director I know; her daughter and Alexander are 3rd grade classmates.  

"You should really join BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts)," she says. "It's equivalent to the Academy Awards and Emmys combined."  I had never even thought about it.

"If you become a voting member, you get invited to all sorts of screenings, and at the end of the year, you get tons of DVD's s of movies the studios want you to watch before you vote." "Are all the movies British?" I ask.  "No, " Adrienne responds. "They just have to be shown in the UK. So basically, about every movie."

So I join, and am accepted as a full-voting member. I had been in television for many years, and even worked with BBC America when I was at Discovery.

Over the years, my interest and involvement with BAFTA NY has increased. I joined the Screening Committee in 2011 and started working directly with some major studios.

This summer I am elected to the Board.  And then...

I get a phone call from the new BAFTA NY CEO. She asks if I'll take over as Chair of the NY Screening Committee. It's a big job with lots of responsibility and no pay. I tell Julie I'll think about it.

And I do.

Last week I meet with Julie and Lisa (previous screening committee chair and now COO), two dynamic woman with whom I love working. BAFTA NY is an incredible organization and I am humbled to be asked to take on a leadership role. I know the people on the committee, and they are all hard-working and talented. And, I get to choose my Vice-Chair. 

After the meeting I call Melinda and ask her if she'll work with me, and miraculously she says yes. I am thrilled. A little of my fear in taking on this important role is dissipated.

So today the announcement goes out.

I am following in some very big footsteps; I hope I don't trip.





Sunday, July 26, 2015

small injury, big pain

I'm watching The Today Show the other day and the hosts are making vegetable chips. They (the chips) look great.

Then I notice that Siri the cook (not to be confused with Siri the iPhone genie) uses something called a mandolin slicer. Her chips are all uniformly cut. I picture making all kinds of perfectly sliced vegetables, maybe even potatoes.

After a diligent internet search, I find the Rösle Adjustable Handheld Slicer. It's sleek, small, durable and easy to use, according to the Amazon reviews. I use my Amazon Reward Points and buy one.

The slicer arrives today. How can you not love Amazon Prime? I ordered it yesterday and it is delivered today, Sunday. I had bought fresh zucchini at the Farmer's Market, then picked up an uncooked stuffed branzino at Agata's.

My new slicer comes with no instructions, and I ask Alexander if he can figure out where the blades are. He turns the little side wheels and the razor blades lift.  The reviewers on Amazon boast of the blades sharpness.

I begin slicing and immediately love this little gadget. Uniform pieces of zucchini begin to accumulate; I stop paying attention, and the next thing I know,  I'm bleeding. A lot. About a quarter of my right thumb nail has been sliced off. It looks a lot better than it feels.



It really really hurts. 

Alexander helps me get bandaged and neosporinized.

The zucchini is great. But hardly worth the pain it took to make it!


Saturday, July 25, 2015

choosing right

Zelia is not a girly-girl. She once confessed that she felt bad for her daughter.  "I don't care about fashion and make-up.  Poor Victoria."

So I shouldn't have been surprised when after making plans with Zelia to see Trainwreck tonight, she calls.  "I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was a romantic comedy. I really hate those kind of movies." Instead she suggests a documentary called The Wolfpack, about six NYC brothers who were pretty much raised inside their small NYC apartment, and rarely allowed out. It's playing at one theater on the lower east side.


I want to see the movie too, but not enough to spend $19 and about four hours of time (when you factor in transportation). 

Because The Wolfpack is a small indie film, I wonder if it's on PPV. While I'm on the phone with Zelia, I do a quick search, and there it is for $6.99. Perfect.

Around 8:30, I go to Zelia's, a few blocks away.  

I'll just say this. PPV was by far the smarter choice. Flexible start time. No need for the subway. Allows for personal commentary. Much cheaper. And so much closer.

I'm home by 10:30. 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

wake up call

I'm up late again watching Breaking Bad with Alexander. 

The show is addictive.  Honestly, I have never watched anything on TV as good as this. Smart writing, gorgeous cinematography, beautifully developed characters, and small story elements that are never expected. It's a show that is totally unpredictable. Not like, "OMG, I would never have suspected him." No, the plot twists are far more subtle and interesting. And seemingly inconsequential introductions can develop episodes later into pivotal show-altering situations. We are beginning Season Three, and of 22 episodes so far, we have not watched one weak one.  Not one that Alexander would characterize as filler, as he often did with episodes of Homeland or 24.  Every single episode of Breaking Bad advances the plot and characters in important ways; there is no waste.

I try to sleep but can't. Thoughts of Skyler, Walt and Jesse keep me awake. Finally, I drift off, only to awaken again at 1:30. I think I'll have steak for dinner so I take one out of the freezer to defrost. Now I'm wide awake. It's after 3 before I fall asleep again.

10:20 this morning. 

Alexander marches into my bedroom clanking together two big aluminum pots, shouting, "Get up. Get up. Get up"  I smile. He's mimicking me when I had to get him up for school. Now he's more responsible. 

He pulls my covers off me, still shouting, "Get up. Get up. Get up."  I did that too.

And then when all else failed, the dripping water.

Alexander remembers that too, and returns threatening me with water.  "If you don't get up now, I am going to pour this on your head."  I would just let a few drops dribble onto his forehead, and that was always as a last resort. He would probably have dumped the whole bottle on me had I not gotten up. He doesn't do much in moderation. Plus, it would have delighted him to do it.

"What have you done so far today?  It's almost noon and you've done nothing."

"The day is already half gone," he continues to shout.

"Make you bed."

"And you left your water bottles all over the living room."  

I listen to my words come out of my son's mouth. Please tell me I don't sound like that!


Monday, July 20, 2015

via

It's a million degrees out and humid. I'd much prefer 10 below, snow, and blowing winds.

I have a BAFTA meeting in midtown. The meeting is at a beautifully appointed brownstone that looks like a private home. I walk in and see this.


I am being asked to consider taking on more responsibilities, and I think this sign is to woo me. Okay, ask me to do anything and I will.  That sign — such a sweet touch I think.  Soon I learn that anyone arriving for a meeting is greeted this way. This does not diminish my appreciation.

The meeting ends and now I must re-enter the inferno outside. My weather app tells me there's an air quality advisory for NYC, though I don't really need an app to know that. Walking even a block is miserable.  So I decide to try Via for the first time.

I had set up an account a while ago and had deposited $50 into it.  I open the app,  type in my location, and am told that a car will pick me up in 3 minutes, a half block from where I am. A black van comes and two very nice passengers are already in it; Via is a shared ride service.  Five minutes later I am dropped off in front of my apartment. No money is passed. I do nothing but say thank you and get out.

So let's see. $2.75 to go underground where the temperature must be close to 100, compete for a seat, find lots of other sweaty people, then walk nine blocks home.  Or, pay $5.44, get a ride in a clean, air-conditioned van, be delivered directly to my front door, and avoid the outside almost entirely.

I think I just became a Via convert.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

francie

It probably wasn't a smart idea.

My boyfriend Don wanted to live with me. I didn't want to leave my friends. So instead, we all lived together. 


It was the fall of 1974. I'd been out of school a year and was living in Allston. I became good friends with the two girls living across the hall from me: Randey and Francie; they were from Chicago.  It was through them I met Don.




I had planned on living with Francie and my childhood friend Vivien. 




So we simply added Don and found a great apartment near Harvard Square in Cambridge. It was a duplex apartment that looked like a cheap motel. We thought it was great. Four Harvard law-school students lived next door, and an old hunchback roamed the parking lot every night. 


Hamp, Vivien's boyfriend, brought in a big piece of wood to build a book case. The wood stayed near the entry way until we moved out. Don bought me an Irish Setter named Jessie. She was the cutest puppy, but I did a poor job of training her. Our apartment always smelled of urine.

We had a couple of  odd roommates who joined us along the way. Donnie K moved in for a while. I have no idea why he's dressed like this, but it was not his usual attire.




And Karen. She never ate, or rather, she never paid for food.  She would join us for dinner though, and happily eat our scraps.


Francie seemed to always be sitting under one of those gigantic hair dryers.




Either that, or socializing with giant rollers in her hair. Here she is eating artichokes with Robbie, one of the next-door Harvard Law students.




On rare occasions, Francie could be seen without her rollers or a hair dryer. (How sad digital cameras didn't exist back then).




I visited Chicago with Don for the first time in February 1975, and by the fall had moved there, along with Francie and Don.




Francie and I remained good friends until I moved back to Boston in 1981.



summer 1976
And then we lost touch. 

Throughout the years, I thought about Francie, and finally contacted her in December 2011. She was still living in the Chicago area. Had a dog, a boyfriend, and a great job. She told me she had been diagnosed with cancer in 2007, and it had spread. But she said for now she was healthy. She sounded optimistic, strong, and just like the Francie I remember. 


Francie was going to come stay with me in New York over the weekend of February 3. But then she moved, so we rescheduled for April. But then that didn't happen either. We emailed a few times, but never spoke again.


Last week I see this Facebook post:



I am a close friend and want to keep you current on Francie's health. Sadly she is in the final stage of her cancer journey. 

Friends write and post pictures. We call each other. It'd been years and years since anyone I know has seen or spoken to Francie.  But great memories don't require much of an impetus to resurface.

I speak to Don this morning and he tells me some surprisingly good news. A cousin of Francie emailed him and told him that the friend's post may have exaggerated Francie's health. He said Francie was up and walking just the other day, and things are not as dire as the post suggests.

I hope Francie is doing well. I hope she rallies. And I hope she gets to see how much she is loved. 

And maybe — hopefully — that NYC visit can happen after all.


Friday, July 17, 2015

if you know anyone...

Alexander has a phone call at eleven. It's an informational interview with a senior MD in Blackstone's Real Estate Group. 

I am impressed with how prepared Alexander is. We do a mock interview in advance of his call and his answers are good. He's clearly done his homework. I look at my son, in his nylon athletic shorts and college T-shirt. I say nothing but as if he is reading my mind, he says, "Don't worry. I'd wear something nicer if we were meeting in person."

A little while later I have a new J. Hilburn client come to my house. He happens to be the CFO of a private equity real estate investment firm. Tom arrives and is incredibly personable, and more than willing to have Alexander send him his resume so he can pass it around.

Alexander's class will end on August 4, and he is anxious to find a job (and I am anxious for him to find one). He wants to work on the investment side of real estate and would be grateful to meet with anyone who could give him some career advice.

Alexander's interest in real estate began when he was in middle school. He became obsessed with the cost per square foot of NY buildings. My nephew, who currently works for Eastdil, used to quiz Alexander. Adam would name a building in NY, any building, and Alexander could tell him the selling price per square foot. It was an odd hobby for a 12-year old.

So I'm shamelessly asking for help. If you know anyone on the investment side of real estate who would be willing to meet with my son for an informational interview, please let me know. My direct email address is lynj@me.com.

I rarely use my blog to ask for help, but I figured, why not?  It's for my favorite person, after all. 

Thank you.