Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Life in Films

Films That Remind Me of Childhood

Annie - I was (am) in love with this movie. First, it's a musical, You'll notice this will become a theme. My uncle, my cousins and I would dance and sing the entire movie back to back, much to the chagrin of my mom. I even had the soundtrack album. I seriously considered the benefits of being an orphan

The Neverending Story - I was a total bookworm, so the idea that I could enter into a story and live it and manipulate the characters ( I'm so NOT a control-freak) was intoxicating. I watched it until the VCR tape broke. I still watch it every time it comes on. I tried passing it onto my kids. They like it but they don't love it like I did. Maybe good taste isn't hereditary.

Fame - ( Musical) I wanted nothing more to wear leg warmers to school everyday. I still watch it at least twice a year and feel all sad and has-beenish and yet thrilled to see it all at the same time. However, when I wanted to share it with my kids, I found the very questionable content in some areas also put it in the next category.

Childhood Films Where Removal was Necessary

I don't think my mom ever bothered to remove me from any movies. For some reason she didn't feel the need that I do to prescreen everything my kids will watch. Maybe she should I have because I can think of a few movies where removal was probably smart. 1. Nightmare on Elm Street: Johnny Depp hotness aside. I was terrified of that movie, I had multiple Freddie nightmares, where I barely escaped death. I occasionally still do. 2. The Godfather 1 and 2: I don't know if many other children watch this. I did multiple times. I think it totally desensitized me to movie violence. So I never blinked at Fight Club or Boondock Saints, go figure. It also started my lifelong obsession with all things mob and mafia related. I tried to name my son Santino. Don't judge me.

Films that Defined My Teens

Heathers- Before Mean Girls and the seven trillion sequels to "Bring It On, there was Heathers. Who didn't secretly think about offing their high school's Queen Bee? Wait maybe that was just me. Anyway heather's was seriously deranged and funny and seriously smart at the same time. And I loved the idea of a signature color and adopted mine way back then.

School Daze - Yes another Musical! Well It has important social issues like apartheid and racism within the black community. So is that why I loved it? Nope there were black people that looked like me and real music that played on the radio and great dance sequences and Tisha Campbell and Jasmine Guy had crazy big hair.

Films Seen Multiple Times at Theaters

I can't think of any. I never saw the appeal of paying multiple times to see a movie in the theater. Is this a real thing people do?

First Date Film

Shawn and I went on a double date to see Beverly Hills Cop 4 Oops I mean Metro with Eddie Murphy. The movie was terrible. We each sat next to our friend instead of each other. His friend threw his beer at the screen when it ended. Ahhh the joys of a new romance....
Nightmares from Films

I mentioned Nightmare on Elm Street above. Others were: The Exorcist, really just the vomit I have serious gag issues. The Ring, that kid came out of the well and I screamed like out loud. Also  I had the very bad idea to watch Rosemary's Baby for the first time while I was pregnant with my first child. I was ruined. For 2 weeks I gave birth to a hooved baby in my dreams every night.

Films that are Guilty Pleasures

The Golden Child - funniest ish ever. It never gets old.

The Wizard of Oz -  Just because

All Twilight movies (no I don't read the books). It's the most ridiculous story ever, He sparkles for cheese sakes. I like my vampires mean and ugly like Nosferatu or elegant and debonair like Lestat or sexy and tortured like Louie or Angel. or even just really funny like Spike. But I keep watching these insane Twilight dudes. It's like being a deer caught in the headlights. I can't look away.

Last Film I Saw at the Theater

I just saw The Avengers. I LOVED it. I'm kind of a Comic-Con geek kinda girl on the low, well maybe not that low since I just told all of you. Whatever,,,bite me

Film Everybody Else Seems to Know About That I've Never Seen

Confession, I've never seen The Deer Hunter, for a movie buff and TV addict I know this is insane. People always look at me weird when I say I never saw it. Which makes me not want to see it , just to be contrary.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Giving Tree.... Gives Me A Much Needed Lesson

"The Giving Tree" is one of my favorite children's books. I must have read it a million times to my three older kids over the years, but Spike is just getting into story time so we never read it.

I had mixed feelings when Spike's school announced that the school would be putting on a production of The Giving Tree as a musical. Happy because I love that story and I would get to share it with another one of my children and surprised and worried because his school hasn't had anything like this before and I wondered what it would be like. Let me explain.

While Spike is very verbal and pretty high functioning, at least half of his school's student body is not. He attends a PK-3 all the way through 12th grade special education school. The student's disabilities range from mild learning disorders to kids on the spectrum to blind or deaf and severely physically and mentally disabled children. Please don't get me wrong, the school has been AMAZING for Spike. He has thrived there and made unbelievable progress in just 8 months. I love and appreciate all his teachers and therapists. BUT, the school gives me a migraine every time I'm there. It took me almost a year to get Spike admitted to this school, a year of doctor's visits, testing sessions, numerous applications, recommendations, etc. It was exhausting. So you think I'd be ecstatic when he was finally ready to go. WRONG! On his very first day of school, I had already thrown up twice before I even got in the car to drive him there. At the time he suffered from severe separation anxiety and his anxiety usually triggers mine. My husband was my back up in case, I decided to grab him and make a run for it. As I walked him to the cafeteria where the the students are dropped off, I don't know who was trembling more, me or him. When I stepped inside it seemed extremely chaotic. It was so loud. So many children, in all sizes, shapes and disabilities. In wheelchairs, with canes, on crutches, I could see them struggling to feed themselves, making huge messes, banging on the tables. I watched the aides calmly navigating the aisles attempting to stop this child from smacking himself silly, that child from spinning aimlessly in a circle, or trying to gently pry another screaming child from his mother's tearful embrace. This is where hubby had to physically restrain both Spike and myself as we tried to make a quick getaway. You see I thought that getting Spike in a school where everyone was "special" would make him seem more normal. Even though I thought I had accepted his diagnosis, faced with the reality of this room and these students, I felt like I was kicked in the gut. I thought "My kid doesn't belong here, he's not like these kids". Yes I know how horrible that sounds, but I have to be honest even if it makes me ashamed. My mind quickly ran through alternatives to walking out of here without him. Homeschooling, private school, anything than leave him here. Because if he goes here, than he belongs here. And that hurt me to my soul.
It took a long time and a lot of reassurances from his very nice and patient teacher for me to let go of his hand. He cried all the way to his class. I cried the entire way home. Even though the school has been great for him, I have such anxiety every time I'm there. I can't really explain why, except to say, it feels like finding out he is autistic all over again.

So as my husband and I entered the school cafeteria to see the production, I was very tense to say the least. And I was greeted with pretty much the scene I expected. There were already 3 kids having tantrums in the audience although my own child sat swinging his feet oblivious to everything around him. I felt anxious and I thought this is going to be sad to watch. I thought I'd end up feeling sorry for them. I was in for a big surprise.

They broke my heart wide open. But not with pity, with pride. I loved every minute of it and not just because Spike sang his song adorably (of course) but because, they all put their whole being into every minute of it. The kids with autism who have trouble with eye contact danced their part facing to the stage wings and they did it beautifully and with perfect rhythm. The wheel chair bound child with cerebral palsy said his lines perfectly with a voice output device. Every child there played their part big or small with more joy and enthusiasm than I've ever seen.  They got a standing ovation.

On a daily basis these children fight to live beyond people's expectations. They refuse to be bound by other's (myself included) prejudices, doubts, fears and preconceived notions on what they are capable of. I can honestly say I left that morning extremely proud to say, this is my son's school, he does belong here and I'm so lucky that he's just like these kids.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Letter to My Younger Self

A recent conversation with a girlfriend led down that oft traveled road of "If I knew then what I know now". Of course hindsight is 20/20 but I started to wonder if I could go back and give myself advice or guidance to help navigate the pitfalls to come, what would I say? After careful consideration, this is what I'd say:

Let's see, I'm sure I would stress the importance of middle school education. I would have to advise myself to least try a little harder to conquer long division and multiplying fractions, because with four kids and their ridiculously confusing homework, Mr. Tang my Math Teacher is clearly having the last laugh.

I would have paid attention to high-school sports a bit more. You'd think as a cheerleader, I might have paid attention to the sports I supported, than maybe I could comment intelligently to my son and nephew about their performances on the field instead of clapping when everyone else does and whispering to my hubby "What just happened?"

I would definitely advise against both attempts at that Halle Berry cut. Instead of a sexy pixie look, I resembled Woody Wood Pecker. And no I will NEVER post a picture of that, they have all been destroyed. I hope....

After a good laugh my friend did agree these tidbits would be helpful to my youngerself. But she wondered what about the big stuff,the huge disasters, big life choices that went all wrong. She was surprised I wouldn't warn myself about those upcomng minefields. But I stand by my choice.

If I hadn't made terrible career choices or had failed ventures, how would I know for sure, that this career,as a writer, is what I was mean to do?

If I hadn't lost some very close friends to gossip, betrayal, distance and even death, how would I know to cherish the ones I have left?

If I hadn't had horrible dysfunctional relationships,with the wrong guys, how would I know to hold on for dear life to the right one?

Every mistake or wrong choice or badly timed event in my life has put me on the path where I stand now. Every painful failure, set back, delay and wrong turn made me into the woman I am right now today, with this husband, these kids, these dreams, this purpose. Why would I ever want to change any of that?

On second thought, maybe I'd go back and tell my younger self just hold on it's gonna be a hell of ride.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Letting Go of Happily Ever After and Embracing Happy Now

Like most young girls, I was enthralled with romantic fairy tales. Who wouldn't want to have Prince Charming to show up with that glass slipper that would undoubtedly fit just right? Or maybe have him ride up on his noble steed and wake you from some mysterious illness with true love's kiss? These ideas of romantic bliss are drilled into little girl's heads from very early on. There's nothing wrong with fairy tales, they are entertaining and fun and they make great Disney movies.

While I outgrew my princess obsession, I didn't quite give up on Prince Charming. Why would I? Every movie I loved assured me he existed. Of course as I grew up, my ideal prince changed too. So while I didn't expect him to show up at my door with a glass slipper, or rescue me from some isolated tower. I was pretty sure my high school  crush would serenade me with his boombox outside my window like in "Say Anything", or maybe I'd ride off on the back of his lawn mower into the sunset like "Can't Buy Me Love". I kept waiting. I was usually disappointed. When I got a a little bit older, I figured maybe he'd climb up my fire escape (as soon as I managed to get one) with a rose and some obscure opera playing on a limo's system like "Pretty Woman". Of course my prince would declare his love and renounce his throne on a public train like "Coming to America". Or at the very least sweep me off my feet and carry me away from some mundane job, like "An Officer and a Gentlemen" even if he just took me to lunch!

Somehow with all this in my head, I still managed to fall in love with my husband. But I still didn't really give up on my ideal Prince Charming. I was always waiting for that silver screen moment, secretly, silently hoping for that perfect tear jerking scene, where he says or does the perfect thing, in the perfect setting, ideally while   I have perfect hair. I mean decades of movies have very clearly portrayed what love and romance are supposed to look like but somehow nobody told my hubby his lines! I can't tell you how many anniversaries, birthdays and especially Valentine's days were ruined by my quiet (or maybe not so quiet) disappointment in my hubby's lack of Hollywood-like romance. I mean hadn't the man ever seen a movie???

I spent so much time resenting the lack of movie style romantic moments that. I was missing the real life romance in my marriage all around me. Romance isn't always a Hallmark card or candle-lit dinners. It's what makes you feel loved, cherished and special. Maybe he doesn't write me poetry, but he changes the lyrics in songs to my name.And sings them, loudly. He rarely surprises me with flowers, but he surprises me with Swedish Fish all the time (Seriously those things are like crack to me I eat a few bags a week). He has not challenged anyone to duel but he killed a pretty nasty looking spider while I stood on the bed shrieking in fear. He hasn't yet climbed that fire escape with the rose in his teeth, but he regular climbs on the roof for the kid's lost toys. How could I have ever doubted it? He's my perfect leading man.

Prince Charming, eat your heart out.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guess What!?!

I'm featured in today's Top 9! Thanks 
@dailybuzzmoms! http://bit.ly/K9po0Y

Thanks everyone for all your support!!