Monday, November 20, 2017

my nephew michael

Growing up I wanted to be an actress.

In college, I acted with people who were really good, thus realizing I wasn't.  But I could cry real tears on cue.

I loved film. Followed the industry. Never missed watching an Academy Awards show. I even play-acted, "And the winner for Best Actress in a Leading Role is...." I probably even had an acceptance speech written.

But I never took any real steps to get a job in the industry. I had no idea how. Didn't want to move. Actually never thought of moving. And until I got my MBA many years later, took jobs that seemed interesting. My bar was not set high.

That's part of the reason why I have such deep respect and admiration for my nephew Michael. It's easy to be immobilized by your dreams. But Michael's never been.

Even as an adorable little boy, he was always dressing up and acting out something.

He loved TV, and his Bar Mitzvah was even themed around television.

At Hopkins, while stilling co-captaining their lacrosse team, Michael was writing screenplays and TV episodes. And they were good.

After graduation, Michael left his close-knit family and many friends to move across the country to LA. He's been there now for nine years. And while he occasionally misses a family get-together, he lives a bi-coastal life and is always there for the big holidays (even some minor ones) and family events.

And in those nine years, among other accomplishments, Michael has written, produced and directed three feature films. 

Michael is in town for Thanksgiving, and tonight I see his most recent film, Brampton's Own. It's a beautifully-made, exquisitely written, engagingly wonderful film. This film is so much better than the many I've seen. And those were with huge budgets, A-list talent, and long production schedules. When Michael talks about his film, it is apparent that every aspect of the film has been well-considered and thoughtfully developed. 

Michael didn't move to LA and wait to be part of a movie. He went there and with hard work, talent, ambition and smarts, he created his own movies — from sitting at his computer and writing the screenplay, to getting it funded, and then to producing and directing it. He's done what so few do. I only dreamed it, Michael's done it. He's even on IMDB. 

Hollywood is a difficult place. It's fickle. It's cut-throat. And it's an industry where luck plays a big role. But I have no doubt that one day Michael's name will be up there with all the other A-listers. Yes, he really is that good.

And when the rest of the world catches up with Michael, I hope he'll remember to invite me to the Academy Awards. I'd love to go.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

food and friends

Pam and Janice both have November birthdays. So tonight we're celebrating at Marta, a Danny Meyer restaurant on East 29th Street.

I arrive first and am immediately impressed with the big open space and high-fueled energy.  I am asked if I'd like to wait at the table, which is welcoming. No, "We can't seat you until everyone in your party has arrived." I like this place before I've sampled even one bit of food.

By 8, everyone has arrived; Brooke is held up and comes a few minutes later.  

l to r: ronda, janice, shari, pam, me, Zelia

Despite an animated, polished-looking crowd, the acoustics are great, and shouting isn't needed to converse. 

Shari, who's been here many times, takes over the ordering. We start with some excellent red wine, and a couple of appetizers: the house salad (perfect) and zucca fritta (impossible to describe but magnificent).

The pizzas are paper thin, but the crusts hold up and do not give in to the weight of the generous toppings. In other words, Marta's thin crust is amazing. We order three kinds of pizzas: one with potatoes (okay but not great), one with house-made stracciatella cheese (very good but would probably not order next time), and the table's favorite: a "pizza rosse" with pork sausage, mozzarella, cremini mushrooms, and pecorino cheese (a must!).

We all love the restaurant.  And the company, as always, is even better than the food. 

We've been celebrating each others' birthdays now for a few years. I hope we'll be doing it for at least another thirty!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

a new york kind of day

Some days I never leave my home. I love those days. Today isn't one of them.

By 10:30, I'm in midtown to see a screening of Wonder Wheel. The reviews so far have not been great, so my expectations are low.

The movie begins and I am riveted from start to finish.  Kate Winslet gives an Oscar-worthy performance. Then there's Justin Timberlake. And a story that totally grabs me. Who are these critics anyway? 

I'm home by 2. Conference call at 4 for BAFTA. A quick dinner. Then downtown to meet Jill at The Public to see a new play by Julia Cho called Office Hour. This time, the reviews are good, so expectations are high.

Jill and I often disagree on what we like in theater. She is more intellectual than I am, and more discerning. I just hate to be bored. My friend M always says in regards to books, "I'd rather read a good story written badly than a poor story written well." Same applies to theater. 

But tonight Jill and I agree. "I really didn't like that," I say as soon as the cast makes their final exit. Her response? "I hated it."

I come home and end the day with a good book, well-enough written (Kate White's Even If It Kills Her), and the perfect place to read it.

foot saga continues

On August 24 I fall on the inside of my right foot. Could have been worse.

On September 1 I see my podiatrist. While the x-rays show nothing, he's pretty certain I've fractured a bone and recommends a cast. I ignore his advice.

On September 13 I see a renowned foot surgeon. He takes an x-ray, sees nothing, and concludes, "It's definitely not broken." He tells me it's a deep contusion that it'll heal on its own.

I walk about 25 miles a weekend, which I am sure doesn't help. But the pain I felt on August 24 is not much better two months later.

I go to another podiatrist, a Dr. Hayashi, recommended by the foot surgeon. She thinks I may have a tendon problem and recommends an MRI.

Yesterday I have the MRI and today the doctor calls. I have a fracture of the lateral cuneiform. I schedule an appointment for next Tuesday, and, I'm told, "Try and stay off your foot until then."

Pretty impossible as I need to work. 

I write to my boss to tell him the news.  

I will now be back to wearing running shoes. These looked okay with tanned legs and short summer skirts. They won't look as good with black tights and wool dresses. 

I'm hoping there is no cast is in my future. Will know more on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

starts bad, ends worse

I enter the subway and hear a loud, booming voice being piped in: "Due to construction, the #4 is now running on the #6 downtown line. Expect delays."

Then, "The downtown train is expected in 10 minutes."

Five minutes later, "The downtown train is expected in 12 minutes." 


I'm wearing a fur-trimmed cape over a black cashmere sweater. I get on the train and eye a seat. I quickly make my way and sit down. The woman next to me says, "You might not want to sit there; there's some stuff on the seat." She mentions this after I sit down.

I get up and there's some green gunk on the seat. it smells like shampoo or dish washing detergent. I suppose it could be worse.

The guy next to me points out that whatever is on the seat is now on my fur trimmed cape and cashmere sweater.

This is how the day starts.

I get to work and go to the Alterations Department. The people there are wonderful magicians; they clean my sweater and cape. I wish they could live with me.

Coffee is free on Sunday and I need a cup. I go the cafeteria to get one and there's no cream or milk. I settle on tea.

I walk 21,049 steps.

Skip dinner.

Sell little.

And the worst? 

I begin helping a woman around 8 (the store now closes at 8:30).  She leaves two hours later empty-handed.

The store is eerily quiet. I still have things to do. Return all the customer's clothes to the go-back area. Close and settle the register. And bring some paperwork to another floor.

Suddenly the lights dim. Everyone is gone. I think I am the only one still on my floor. I see no one else.

We have a guard at one of the store entrances.  But still, it's not a comfortable feeling.

I leave work more than 10 hours after arriving.

And the worst? I am so hungry I eat dinner when I get home. Okay, maybe not the worst part of my day, but still not good.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

happy 25th

Hard to believe, but today Alexander turns 25.

I have to work all day, but we decide on a low-key celebration tonight.

It's cold and sunny (my second favorite kind of weather, a major snowstorm being my first). Work is miserable. I sell one T-shirt, earning $15 for my 8-hours.

I call my son a few times throughout the day. We decide on staying in. I've left my credit card with Alexander, and have told him that if he doesn't want to go out, then to order whatever he wants for dinner. He chooses sushi from Sushi of Gari, a whole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant with some of the best sushi in the city.

He chooses well.

He does better on the food than on his movie choice. Earlier in the day Alexander had said, "Let's watch a movie tonight. It's my birthday so I get to pick." 

But then he chooses some "heard -it-was-great" supernatural horror film about a demented doll. I know it's my son's birthday but I still can't bring myself to agree. I suggest Law & Order SVU instead and Alexander concedes (after seeing his well-fought arguments for Annabelle Creation having zero effect in swaying me). 

But we never just watch L&O. Throughout, we pause to talk. Either about some issue the show raises (bullying and rape, in this episode) or some other thoughts the show provokes. It almost always takes us a couple of hours to get through a one-hour episode, making it far more interesting than it would be otherwise.

Alexander is not a big dessert-person, but it's his birthday, and as a mom, I have the responsibility of making sure he gets to make a wish.  I buy him one of his favorites (a Tiramisu cake). 

Alexander always takes his wishes seriously. He says he doesn't believe in them, but I think he does. He has given me my wish for him. He tells me he's never been happier.

And I hope with all my heart that the wish he's chosen for himself comes true.

Happy 25th baby. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

dressed to chill

It's 27 degrees tonight.  Winter has finally arrived.

Along with my son.

Tomorrow Alexander turns 25. A full quarter century old.

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to lure Alexander home with the offer of dinner, at a restaurant of his choice. But the best I can get is a promise that he'll be home on Saturday for his birthday. "You don't have to make any reservations," he tells me. "I'll probably be going out with friends."

I text him this morning at 7:47 and get his response nine hours later:

I get home from work around 8:30, and a little while later Alexander walks in, wearing a sports jacket over a dress shirt.

"Where's your coat?" I ask.

"I'll need to borrow one of yours," he replies. "When I left home this morning for work I wasn't thinking about the weather."

There is no appropriate response.

An hour later, Alexander leaves the house in my navy down coat that's a few sizes too small (but more unisex than feminine). Maybe wearing his mom's clothes will help remind him that yes, weather is important.