Posted tagged ‘Maura Tierney’

She’s Back!

August 1, 2010

My husband doesn’t understand it.  My children just roll their eyes.  Sorry people, but I have to gush…just a bit.  Just have to swell with just a little bit of excitement.

My favorite actress is back!

Not that she was really gone.  Her character left ER in the episode written just for her – ‘The Book of Abby’ – in October of 2008.  Abby and Luka moved to Boston.  She returned for a small cameo seventeen episodes later giving Paraminder Nagra’s ‘Neela’  a reassuring nudge to leave Chicago.  Then she was gone….from television. 

Talk about quitting cold turkey.  Not her.  Me.

I was used to getting spoiler alerts, google alerts, tweets and bits and pieces about ‘ER’ in general…..but Maura Tierney specifically.  I had been a fan of hers since….well….forever.   I even tripped totally out of my comfort zone and took my two personal business days in SEPTEMBER (I am a Teacher, remember?) to fly to New York to see her perform in an off Broadway play.  Even got to meet her while I was there….twice!  And now, there was nothing.

While she was off relaxing, recouping and living her ‘regular’ life, there were a legion of fans (and I know this is true as I am privy to several web groups of fans) watching….and waiting …..for her next project.

There was a flurry of excitement with the news that she would be part of the cast of ‘Parenthood’ – NBC’s newest series in development.  The cast was phenominal with Maura at it’s center playing ‘Sarah Braverman’, single mom of 2 teens who moves back into the family fold.  A dysfunctional family fold.  I was so excited at the prospect of a regular dose of her talent again….and even more intrigued at the thought of seeing her ply acting chops with Mae Whitman – another favorite – who was cast as her daughter.

A pilot was shot, publicity rounds started and things began to leak out about the show.  Most of the critics gave the pilot a so-so rating but all of them said that Maura’s performance was a highlight….giving the show promise.  All was well in my little world and I was looking forward to the all season.

Then devastating news that Maura would be leaving the show because of a health issue.  A health issue that required surgery and subsequent treatment.  Maura Tierney had breast cancer.

You can imagine the frustration of the production team.  What to do now?  Their show was set.  Scripts written.  And one of their stars was going AWOL.  Unofficial word from someone who worked on the set via someone on one of the web boards was that the production team was willing to wait out the surgery and support the treatment plan.  Word was they were attempting to force her to honor her contract.  But she held her ground (not wanting that particular period in her life to be filmed in HD…who can blame her?) and in the end, they let her go.  They recast the part and the show continued.  It was one of the hits of midseason….and definitely a ‘different’ kind of show than it would have been had she stayed.  My sister loves it.  

Sigh.

And once again I – we – were reduced to waiting for bits and pieces of news.  And there was nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Until December.

That is when Joe Tierney, former Boston Councilman and Maura Tierney’s father, died of cancer.  A surprise to the general public, I think.  Followed shortly by the news that Maura Tierney would be joining the cast of  ‘North Atlantic’ by theater’s eccentric Wooster Group.   Even before the production went into rehearsal there were bits and pieces…and once rehearsals started – pictures!  Grainy, clandestine pictures.  When the show started there were ‘reviews’ and updates and pictures from web friends.  One particularly special internet buddy was able to see the show in Los Angeles (where she goes to school) AND New York (where she was participating in a school sponsored program)….twice!  The gods were with her and the timing worked out.  Lucky.

But  now, Lady Luck has struck again – for all of us.  Maura Tierney will be returning to weekly television in September…this time with ABC’s ‘The Whole Truth.’  She will be trading her emergency room scrubs for stylish suits as an officer of the court.  Somehow, I think her dad would approve.  And being the lover of legal eagle television that I am, I will be watching.

And that is….’The Whole Truth.’

Welcome back, Maura.  You have been missed.

Maura Tierney as ‘Kathryn Peale’

FanFiction.Net

June 28, 2010

I am not quite sure how I happened upon FanFiction.net.  I think I was reading something written by someone else that I found at a fan site.  All I know and understand is that this web site kicked my long dormant writing needs back into high gear.  I had been floundering as a writer.  And as geeky and as wierd as this post may sound to the ‘normal’ reader and/or writer, I will be forever grateful.

I have written before about my long standing fixation with the television show ‘ER’ and how difficult it was to break a 10 pm Thursday night ‘habit.’  I have written about taking a 3 day dream trip to NYC to see ER’s Maura Tierney strut her acting chops on stage.  And I have written about how important writing has been to me since I was a child.  I think – somewhere in these posts – I have written about original aspirations to be a television writer.  I am ALWAYS rewriting things other people have written if they don’t turn out to my satisfaction…..or if I want to know more.  And that is the case with Fanfiction.net.

You can choose a television show, movie, play, anime etc. to write about.  You can continue a story line or character you are intrigued with or you can invent your own.  You can write the back story of a situation or character to round it out in your own mind.  You can post your story for others to read.  Readers can post a review of your piece….or not.  At any rate, the program records the ‘hits’ on your story so you can see of people are reading it. 

And THAT is very intriguing. 

I wrote seventeen pieces for the ‘ER’ section of Fanfiction.net during a  two and a half year period.   There are a number of other things posted on various fan sites that were part of writing ‘competitions.’  (Writers are given the same perimeters and a set time to finish and post a piece to be voted on or judged.  It was fun to see the different perspectives that evolved in that manner.)  I experimented with different styles of writing, discovered a lot about myself as a writer and had a tremendous amount of fun.  I gathered a small circle of internet friends who also wrote for ‘ER’ – people who gave me advice, support and lots of positive feedback.

All of my fan fiction stories revolve around this couple:

Abby Lockhart and Luka Kovac

Brought to life by actors Maura Tierney and Goran Visnjic.

Writing for established characters is as easy as it is challenging – especially when you are working with characters as well played as these two.  You can picture them in your mind because you have seen them on screen.  You know their verbal inflections, their physical cues, their emotions, their history.  The trick is to stay in character and make your readers see the same things you do.  And its tricky.

Abby and Luka had  lived a hard scrabble life in Chicago from seasons 5 to 14.  Co-workers, lovers, ex-lovers, attached to others, unattached, co-workers, friends, lovers again, parents together and finally married, seperated by an ocean, seperated by a blackout, together again.  Both were gone by the third episode of season 15…..living happily ever after far from County General’s emergency room madness.  My first piece however, was written after the  episode ‘All About Christmas Eve’ in December of 2006 in which Abby – in the last few seconds of the show – informed Luka that she was pregnant   The series then went on a holiday hiatus.

For THREE weeks.

Without knowing what their outcome was going to be, and extremely frustrated about that, I began the story, The Things We Do, and posted chapter one on December 22nd.  Reviews were favorable and people were reading it.  I posted another chapter.  Three months and twenty one chapters later, it remains the most popular of all of my Fanfiction pieces.  I am not sure why.  Its the one I stumbled the most on.  And yet it offers a blissful Luby life that definitely did not play out on the show.  That happy Kovac family – an AU or ‘alternative universe’  story line – has been continued in The Rules of the Road, A Camper’s Guide to Family Fun and Christmas in Croatia.

While writing The Things We Do, I began to realize that there was a relationship that I wanted to see on the show and didn’t.  And that was a friendship between Abby and Susan Lewis.  So I started the story All We’ll Ever Need – continuing the AU story of Susan Lewis, her husband Chuck, their son Cosmo and her niece Susie.  I was writing both of them at the same time. 

Susan, as brought to life by actress Sherry Stringfield, is fun to write.  I love Susan.  I love her smile, her laugh, her snarky sense of humor, her self confidence, her attitude…..and her hair.  Even when its messy it looks good.

Seriously.

Her niece, Susie, was last seen on the show as an infant and heard on the phone as a 5 or six year old.  I imagined her into an incredibly bright and beautiful 13 year old and she has evolved from there.  Their story intersects with the Kovacs in Camper’s Guide, Christmas  in Croatia and plays out side by side in Duplex

Back stories fill in some of the ‘holes’ that a television drama is unable to spend time with.  Lockhart IS Better tells the story of Abby’s first marriage to Richard, who has popped up on the show at various times.  Letters From Luka is how I imagined his life before showing up on a boat.  Its basically a series of letters to and from his parents in Croatia as he travels through the Great Lakes on a sailboat.  I kind of lost my muse on that one.  It still needs a clear ending.  Wild Cat  began as a piece for a competition and the first chapter is about baseball and the Luby baby’s first birthday.  It has evolved into the back story of Abby’s parents – Maggie and Eddie.  It also needs to be finished.  I was having trouble writing about bi-polar symptoms and needed more research.

Sometimes a character serves as a stepping  off point also.  In Primary Colors the back story of a little girl from the season 12 episode, ‘The Human Shield’ intertwines with Abby and Luka’s.  Juliette Gogolia, played ‘Sydney’ a kidnap victim that was central to the entire episode and brought the Luby love story back into play.  My ‘hook’ was the use of primary colors interwoven through each of the seven chapters.  There was something red, yellow and green/blue mentioned in each of them.  Kinda cool to write…and a bit sad.

Another minor guest character in the episode, ‘No Place to Hide’ – Ruthie Poole – became a central character for Abby and Luka’s story about their life after ER.  The show moved Abby and Luka to Boston, where I picked up their story in This Time.  I really enjoyed writing this because it was fun to have the family created by the television writers carry on with their lives.  It was a place to write about some resolutions.  Especially between Abby and her mother – a television relationship created between Tierney and Sally Field.  It’s their ending as I imagined it to be.

When I was struggling with descriptive writing, I started the story Just Looking.  Its basically a series of scenarios in a day in the life of Luka and Abby that uses descriptions and just the words ‘just looking’ ‘ throughout.  It is an ongoing challenge….and fun.

My favorite story – and in my opinion the best one – was the fifth story I wrote for Fanfiction.net.  I started it after the season 12 climatic ender – 21 Guns.  If you didn’t see it – it was pretty spectacular.  The ER is shot up (Quentin Tarantino style), Luka is strapped to a gurney with a tube in his throat and a pregnant Abby is last seen passed out on the floor in a pool of blood.  That’s where they left fans for the SUMMER!  Spoiler information was still weeks away and I was going nuts.  Seriously nuts.  So I began writing a possible story line.  In Heartache,  I did the unthinkable.  I killed their baby.

I think I was the only fan fiction writer to take the leap and do it too.

I put almost 28,000 words into that 23 chapter story and got a whomping 135 reviews.  This doesn’t count the private e-mails I received before I removed my address from the site.  People were ready to lynch me.  How dare I imagine such a  sad end for a BABY????  The first chapter is a heartbreaker.  Then, like most of my work, it evolves into a study of a relationship that has gone through the worst and comes courageously out the other side.  It brings Abby and Luka full circle at County General.  It has also received a FanFiction ‘Hall of Fame’ award….and I love it.

Seventeen pieces at FanFiction.net have garnered me 211,762 internet ‘hits.’  I have accrued 804 reviews and am still getting them today….four years later.  And I am writing my own – original – stuff again.  I am creating characters and building scenarios and writing descriptions and designing my own plots.  And I have FanFiction.net to thank.

The website  is a fun place to ‘hang out’ if you have time on your hands.  Or if you like to read.  Or write.  There are over 5,000 ER stories posted there.  Glee has almost 7,000, Charmed has 12,000, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has 39,000 and Punky Brewster has 4.  And there are more categories for movies and books plays, games comics and animes.  Some written stories are outstanding and others are not.  All of them are someone’s attempt to share ideas……and write.

Leave a review for the writer.  It really does make our day.

As for me, I really need to work on The Mouse and the Mayflower again.  I have my families from the Duplex at Walt Disney World.  I keep seeing the esteemed Dr. Luka Kovac wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears…..or a Goofy hat.  Gotta go write about it.

Titles are links that should take you to the web site for that story.  Enjoy!

Slightly Bonkers

January 18, 2010

It’s been a yucky weekend thus far.  Warm enough outside to melt our hard earned snow into that cruddy, muddy spring like mush.  I mean, the dog will actually GO outside with little persuasion.  Not too cold.  Its the kind of weather I hate.  The ONLY weather in Michigan that I abhorr.  Warming but too muddy to do anything outside.  The television has been running constantly.  The kiddos have been running constantly.  So what’s a bored out of her skull lazy Mom to do???

PLAY!!!

I pulled out my mini Lego collection.  The container that I got from the Lego store at Down Town Disney after Christmas….and another one I filled three years ago.  What fun.  I started to build but then transferred my efforts to this:

There is something decidedly comforting in sorting all the little pieces into color groups and then style groups.  I think.  Maybe it’s just the former Kindy Teacher in me.  I tend to relish order in some things….small things.  Like cross stitching floss and silver ware drawers.  And while I was working and watching television I was transported back to memories of the play I saw in NYC a year and a half ago. ..Three Changes by Nicky Silver.   Laurel (played by Maura Tierney) does a little monologue where in she describes giving her husband (played by Dylan McDermott) – who is depressed after losing his job – a button box.  She describes how he pours them out on to his bed and then sorts them.  By color and by style.  Then he pours them back onto the bed and starts all over again.  Okaaaaay.  So it creeped me out a little.  Especially since I was doing the same thing and HIS character falls off the tracks.  Literally.  Being glad there is no subway in my midwestern piece of Americana, I gathered up the Legos and put them back into these:

367 pieces.

Two containers.

$7.99 each

And it was scarey that except for one teeny tiny clear orange piece and one teeny tiny round blue piece, I had an equal, even number of every single style.  Yikes.  I was counting?????  Isn’t that a sort of symptom of….something????? 

And so I moved on.  To this:

Thanks to three trips of my own to the Down Town Disney Potato Head kiosk and one enthusiastic birthday gift shopping trip by my brother in law, I have an awesome collection of Mr. Potato Head stuff. 

I have this:

Pirates, Mary Poppins and a clone trooper…..

Mickey, Lady Liberty and Davy Crockett

I also have Tinkerbell, a Princess and half of Darth Vader.  (Long story) And these….

Disney tourists that can hold balloons, cookie sheets, cameras, drink cups, autograph books, magic wands, ‘plush’ Mickey dolls, pizza slices video cameras, tickets, etc.  My favorite is the Mickey shaped ice cream bar with a bite missing.

And thanks to a Grandma who provided preschool games to the Prince and his cousin….

I even have little Spud heads!

This used to be a favorite play center for my Kindy kids.  I didn’t bring it out that often so they knew it was special and needed to be taken care of.   Now I am in need of a bigger box to store them.  And someone to play with them with me. 

Sigh.

I think tomorrow we will drag the Prince’s soccer stadium Lego set out from under his bed. 

That should take us hours to sort…..and assemble.

Heh.

Untruffled

September 29, 2009

It was that kind of day.  I had the sniffles.  Rainy and dreary outside and BOTH soccer practices had been cancelled.  BOTH of them.  It very rarely happens that we aren’t picking one child up and dragging another in the opposite direction during the week.  Rarely…heh.  So how did I choose to celebrate?  By trying out a new recipe, of course!

This is not a cooking blog.  Not by any means.  I have mentioned several cooking incidences….such as the disappearing apple brown betty….and the pesto pizza the Princess and I were hooked on for a while….and the step by step directions for swiss steak  posted for the Prince’s future benefit.   But I am far from being the kind of master cook that would dare to talk about cooking here.  FAR from it.  Tonight I chose to tackle my very first home made Macaroni and Cheese. 

Now Mac’n Cheese  has long been a staple in my family’s life.  Not the REAL stuff however. More like the orangey Kraft stuff from the box.  Nothing goes better with hot dogs and ketchup…or fish sticks and applesauce.  And we have a LONG history with it.  The stuff practically got me through Sunday nights while I was in college.  The instant microwave packages were the very first things my kids learned to cook on their own, I think.  They used to eat it for breakfast before school on cold, winter mornings.  (I am not a Mom who divides food into specific meals.  If they eat anything hot for breakfast,  it’s a good day!)  And if we really want to go gourmet we use the white cheddar or Shells and Cheese boxes.

Several weeks ago, a recipe in People magazine caught my eye.  The Waverly Inn Truffled Mac and Cheese.  The Waverly Inn is in New York City.  People wait for weeks – no, months, I think – for a reservation there.  Intriguing.   I have never eaten there.  I don’t even live in New York City.  I only know about it because Maura Tierney was photographed there while out with  friends.  (Yes, I remain a geeky fan.  See her recent turn on ‘Rescue Me’??  Fabulous!)

Anyway, the recipe looked simple enough. I don’t exactly keep Da Rosario white truffle oil ($12 for 1.76 oz. bottle) in my pantry but I figured it was almost a minor item (added after cooking…’to taste’??) even though it was listed in the recipe’s name.  I even bought whole milk for the occasion…..which we NEVER have on hand.  We are a 1/2 percent family. 

I dutifully boiled up the one pound box of macaroni and set it aside (with a drop of olive oil to keep it from sticking).  I melted butter and whisked it with flour and dijon mustard untill it was a fragrant golden color.   Oops.  Added the milk a little quickly but continued to whisk and stir while the milk boiled and the sauce thickened.  I added the Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheeses and stirred them until all the shredded pieces were melted and the mixture was fragrant and creamy.  I skipped the salt because I didn’t have unsalted butter to use in the beginning.  It wasn’t really until I began to add the macaroni to the pan and it was beginning to overflow that I realized how much Waverly Inn Untruffled Mac and Cheese I was going to have on my hands.  And the stove.  And the counter top.  And, eventually, the dinner table.

Undaunted, I poured the mixture into one of my biggest baking dishes and covered the top with toasted bread crumbs, slipped it in the oven to finish heating through and set about finishing the pulled pork barbecue sandwiches we were having with the humungeous main dish.  Added cottage cheese, cold veggies and dip, sugar free Kool Aid and dinner was served.

I am not sure if it was all my anticipation of the fragrant dish, my sniffles, the rain drumming on our roof….or the absence of the Da Rosario white-truffle oil to taste.  Maybe it was just the years and years and years of Kraft boxes in our cupboard.  The Waverly Inn’s Untruffled Mac and Cheese just did not do it for me.  Or for anyone else at our table.  It was so…so….so bland.  Sigh. 

Princess ran the rest of it to the neighbor’s, who were happy to have it  for their dinner.

I am not sure what Ms. Tierney and her friends were eating at the Waverly Inn.  Or anyone else for that matter.  I am not sure what else they serve there.  It might be interesting to find out.  Might. 

I used to be impressed that a chef – or restaurant – could demand that kind of wait time for reservations.  I am not so much any more.  I realize that I am no master chef and my ingredients might not be the same quality.  But if I am ever in New York again, I will hit Morandi  or Chez Josephine for a late lunch…..and serve up a microwave cup of Kraft’s mac and cheese back at the hotel for dinner.  Or maybe just stop by the corner hot dog stand.  I am SO not a hoity toity when it comes to food.  I enjoy presentation.  I enjoy anticipation.  I enjoy something different.  I enjoy fun.  But sometimes the orangey Krafts stuff is juuuuust right.

Tests, Breasts and Maura Tierney

July 27, 2009

I finally got my letter in the mail the other day.  After six days of waiting.  It was a while before I could bring myself to open it.  Scanning down the form I saw the little box next to ‘Mammogram’ checked and then farther down the letters ‘OK’ written. 

That’s it? 

Don’t get me wrong.  I was very, VERY happy to read those two letters.  It’s just that you’d think the anxiety prior and the actual test would warrant something a little more wordy.  Something like ‘patient reaction to compression’ (OUCH!) or ‘area vs depth upon compression ratio is good’ …..  Just something more than ‘OK.’

At my age, I have had a fair number of mammograms.  Now I am supposed to have them yearly.  Yuck.  They are not fun….but not too bad either.   I am extremely sensitive to the way I am treated when having one.  Insensitivity from a technician or the slightest inking of embarrassment and I go elsewhere.  I like where I get them now.  The technician reminds me to breathe.  I never realized that I wasn’t breathing.  So it’s friendly and fast and they have great magazines.  Not that you get to read any of them to any great extent.  Even though it was busier than I have ever known them to be, I was still in and out rather quickly…..for a medical appointment.

Women – as a rule – are not really talkative when it comes to mammograms and breast care.   At least in my little world they aren’t.  It’s not something that comes up in conversation as a rule.  If it does, we tend to keep things light hearted.  We share ‘war’ stories involving rough technicians who stepped a little too hard on the pedal to the compressor.  Or of mammary glands that were surely seperated from chest walls in the interest of  ‘better’ health care.  We tend to join walks/rides to raise money for breast cancer research and education instead.  Unless someone close to us has an issue.  And in my circle of acquaintences there have been several instances of ‘issues’ in the past few weeks. 

B took advantage of a free mammogram offer during a small business trade show a year ago.  I found out about her surgery and chemo treatments in a lengthy family news letter that came with an invitation to her daughter’s graduation party.  It kind of rocked my heart a little bit.  I was the first grade teacher to three of her now college age five children.  She was a good friend and important part of the ‘village’ that we used to help raise my son years ago.  They moved to another state when he was five.  He has a lot of memories of adventures with her family…not the least of which is always wanting to live in a house with stairs so he could ‘slide’ down them like her kids did.  Today I am a regular visitor to her Caring Bridge site to get up dates on her treatments and to share in her delight of the curls that fall down the back of her head again…finally.

I was surprised at church one Sunday to see prayers requested for S.  She was a  friend and family camping buddy until other responsibilities and interests pulled us in other directions.  I hadn’t seen her in a long while.  And when I did, she was wearing a hat to cover her bald head but her smile was the same.  Normally as regular as clockwork about mammograms, she had put this year’s off because of general busy-ness.  Until a surgeon requested that she have one done before hernia surgery.  Her cancer was stage 3.  Always the optimist,  she is counting her blessings that a hernia forced her to follow through.  Had she waited much longer it might have been stage 4 with fewer options for treatment.

T is a member of a message board that I frequent for author Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  It’s a busy board where fans share thoughts about everything from reality TV shows to monthly reminders that ‘it’s time to check the TaTas!’   I have bookmarked T’s blog since discovering that she is a Teacher and a Mom and a writer like me.  She is facing breast surgery in August and needs to take days off during the first week of school.  I can relate to that extra anxiety of being gone from a new class of fourth graders…..totally. 

I had known for a while that RS had a close call with breast cancer some years ago.  It wasn’t until I asked my Facebook friends to share their mammogram experiences that I got her full story.   It was one of frustrations, friends, decisions and family.  She pissed off an oncologist because she didn’t accept his plan.  She is empowered.  She is a Special Ed Teacher.  And a Wife, a Mom and a Grandmother.   I have learned from her that each and every day is a blessing and to live it the best way that you can.

Maura Tierney was forced to come out with a public statement about her breast cancer situation.  She is an actress that I have followed as a fan for many, many years.  I finally met her after a play in NYC last fall.  Twice!  I have seen all of her movies, watched ‘NewsRadio’ , followed her work on ‘ER’  for nine seasons and was looking forward to her new ensemble series – ‘Parenthood’ – this fall.   That show’s premiere was put on hold due to her ‘health issues.’   NBC’s bungled publicity attempt to keep her medical condition private resulted in a public statement clarify her condition.   She has a breast tumor that requires surgery. 

While I know she is a very private person who likes to keep her personal life…private….I am not sure that she is aware of  how her news as affected the people that frequent the fan message board that I belong to.  We are an international group.  I am the Elder Statesman of sorts there and have been for years.  Sometimes they listen to me and some times they don’t.  When Ms. Tierney’s statement was released there was a frenzy of activity and frustration and not knowing what to do.  Like a group of  caring friends gathering at the local coffee shop, messages were flying.  What can we do?  What is happening?  Anyone find any more news?  Finally we did something proactive.  We set up a poll where members could post that they had either gotten a mammogram or done a self check of their breasts because of Maura Tierney’s statement.  Things calmed down significantly.  We shared stories of friends and family members that had gone through the same sort of thing.  We shared links that described proper steps for self checking.   What to look for.  We were talking.   And I scheduled my over due mammogram.

My daughter is fourteen.  She would definitely fall into the ‘itty bitty’ category a friend described when telling me about the ‘spatula’ tool that was on the mammography machine when she went for her mammogam.  It was for members of that ‘club’ and male patients (and yes, L, I did know that guys can get breast cancer too)  When I mentioned that I had an upcoming appointment, I asked my daugter if she would like to go with me….to see what it was all about.  She cocked an eyebrow and said, “Now why would I want to do that?”  Heh.  We were talking.  And now she knows a little more about taking care of herself.

And D tickles me to death.  She schedules her mammogram for the very same time on the very same day every year.  And wears her lucky panties.  She is an internet friend I will always want in my corner.  We ‘talk’ and we laugh.  And I am reminded that there are others with the very same apprehensions that I have.

I think that people in the public venue like Sheryl Crow, Christina Applegate….and Maura Tierney….have the means of reaching people.  Reaching women…and men….to remind them.   Remind them that it’s important to self check.  Remind them to make those mammogram appointments.  Remind them to take better care of themselves.  Remind them to listen to their doctors and to listen to themselves.  Remind them to talk to one another and support one another.

Of course their stories are painful….and private.  We are lucky that they are driven to share them.  And they are not alone.  There are thousands…no…millions….of stories like theirs.  But they are the very public voice of my friends and I.  We hope that you are hearing them loud and clear.

Check your breasts. 

Do it today.

There is just something about a junk drawer…

June 13, 2009

You know what they are.  Handy little places to slip ‘important’ things.  Things you don’t want to lose. Drawers that very quickly are over run with ‘important’ things.  Drawers  that you end up scrambling through to find that ‘thing’ you need.  One of mine happens to be the drawer of my computer desk. 

In my quest to do some badly needed deep, organizational cleaning of the corners of my house, I tackled that insidious drawer.  What I thought would be an ominous task turned out to be a pleasantly needed trip down memory lane.  Here are some of the things I found:

*More receipts and papers than one is EVER expected to save….including seven year old one for the Princess’ first two wheeler.

*6 teeny, tiny dice and 4 teeny, tiny frogs.  I have tucked them in a little tin box to make a teeny, tiny game or two. : )

*Gigantic paperclips – bought them at Target one time because they are cool.  Can’t bring myself to use them because I know they’ll be lost.

* A mother lode of different kinds of flash drives. (It’s a fetish of mine)

*Coin envelopes and clear ID card protectors that I used when I taught Kindergarten. Kept them.  That stuff ALWAYS comes in handy.

*a fully jointed 3 inch tall skeleton pirate doll thingy that the Princess delighted in collecting the summer we spent in Florida taking care of my Mom. 

*two different sized phillips screw drivers, two eyeglass repair kits and the tiniest little screw driver I have ever seen that won’t fit in an eyeglass repair kit.  Have NO clue what it goes to but I’m keeping it.

*Another mother lode of sticker sheets – also used when I taught Kindergarten –  which I stuck into an envelope for Rabbit.  Not much but it’ll keep her busy for a few hours this summer.

*the missing key to the fire proof strong box we bought before leaving for Boston.  I was certain there would be abreak in or a fire and all of our adoption/citizenship/birth certificates and what not would be gone.  I am fearful like that.

*A whole passel of the newsletters I used to send to family when the Prince was a toddler.  Dang but he was a funny little kid.  Emotionally involved with a ……zucchini?

*Two nearly empty package of batteries for hearing aids I no longer use.  Different sizes from the ones I need now.  Pitched ’em.

*old Russian coins, a handful of pennies, Canadian coins and 4 old tokens for Chuck E Cheese….upon seeing  which my 15 year old asks, “hey…when can we go there?”  Riiiiight.  I’ve done my duty in that noisy, overwhelming, pepperoni reeking realm.

*Our customs declaration sheets upon entering Russia to bring the Princess home……NINE years ago this fall.  Dang!

*Pictures, pictures and MORE pictures. Tucked them away with all of the others I need to go through and file and scrapbook or…something.  What are you supposed to do with pictures anyway?

*clear nail polish, a tube of some kind of prescription eye cream and two tubes of athletes’ foot cream.  Two?

*Lego pieces…another fetish of mine.  Not that I like to build with them or anything (although I have spent countless hours assembling and disassembling the Prince’s Lego soccer stadium in the past)…but I do like to have interesting pieces handy.  Just ask my family about my jaw dropping to the floor at Disney Market Place’s Lego store.  HUNDREDS of  little drawers with MILLIONS of little pieces.  Buy a container and you can put ANYTHING inside it and as much as you can fit.  Heh. NEVER give me that challenge.  Just ask the people at the Mr. Potato Head kiosk.  I ALWAYS get my money’s worth.  : )

*Four apostilled copies of the Princess’ final adoption follow up reports .  When you drive to the state capital to get them done personally you might as well get a bunch.  And I love knowing the word ‘apostille.’  It’s the kind of word that snakes it’s way around your tonuge and through your brain.  Especially if you are working your way through an international adoption.

*The translation of a thank you letter sent to the Princess from her friends at the orphanage.  Several months after bringing her home, we  sent a box of goodies (Legos, candy, balloons, socks, Matchbox cars, etc.) with another couple going to the same orphanage .

*an envelope from my little guy in the Dominican Republic.  Gotta write to him soon.  He’s nine and likes school, baseball….and me. (www.compassion.com)

*a ring my husband got me for a long ago Mother’s Day….with an amethyst.

*a print out of a short email from my deceased Grandmother about her father owning a ‘dray team’ when she was a child.  Can’t remember why she sent it but yeah, my grandmother died when she as 97 and had used computers and e-mail regularly.  It’s in my genes.

*An ‘Obama ’08’ button, an MEA membership button and a tin, heartshaped necklace ornament with the word ‘Mom’ inscribed…which I am sure came from an elementary school Holiday Shoppe.

*a battered, falling apart portrait of me as a four year old that my parents had drawn the night before I went to the hospital to have my tonsils removed.  I seriously need to get it repaired.  And framed.

*A Bible study guide for the book of Ephesians…which was my favorite Bible class when I was in college at Oklahoma Christian University…..way back when it was just Oklahoma Christian College.

*Ticket stubs for almost everything we did in Boston on last year’s GRAND summer vacation.  Stuck them in one of the aforementioned coin envelopes.  (see?   It came in handy)

* a Playbill for ‘Three Changes’ – a play with Maura Tierney that I saw last fall on a FABULOUS 1st adventure to the Big Apple.  Met her too.  She’s very sweet to her fans.

*a print out of a story I posted YEARS ago on a Kindergarten Teachers’ web ring about a rough and tough little tomboy of a girl who kept hugging me all day after about a week of school.  Couldn’t figure out why until she finally said she liked hugging me because ‘we make a really cool sound together.’   Hearing aid feed back.  It’ll get you every time. : )

I found more stuff.  LOTS more.  And there were things I didn’t find.  Like the recharger to my Kodak digital which I haven’t been able to use in like…forever.  Dang.  Or any of the 100 sharpened pencils that were there last fall.  Not one.  Or the gum packages that I tend to put there now and then.  Gone.

And that’s the way of the Junk Drawer.  Things come and things go.  They tend to hold bits and pieces of your life, don’t they?  And most everything has a story.  ‘Important’ stuff.  Kinda fun to sort through on a lazy, rain threatened day.

ER ……and me

April 2, 2009

Tonight it comes to an end.  After fifteen years.  Actually….I didn”t want to be caught up in the flood of blog entries that are probably going to follow this finale.  Maybe.  I had intended to post something way earlier than this.  But I have gotten caught up in school stuff (ggrrr….seventh grade Science…AGAIN!) and other obligations.  Tonight however, I intend to plunk myself in front of the television at 8 for a retrospective and then at 9 for a two hour finale.  AND record it so I can watch it all again. 

I have written about all this here before.  When I first started watching ER, it was at the insistence of my sister.  As someone reliant on lip reading, I couldn’t handle the fast paced dialog, the fast moving characters and all the medical jargon.  Didn’t like it at all.  But, I was seriously hooked during the first season’s rerun stretch.  It was summer.  I was rocking a baby to sleep at night.  Much slower pace of life.  I could watch the show on Thursday and call my sister on Friday and have her give me the dialog run down.  I enjoyed Susan Lewis’ snarkiness, wanted a doctor exactly like Mark Greene and thoroughly enjoyed Benton’s Carter torture.  And I was stricken by  Jeanie Boulet’s story….loved Kellie Martin’s character…..and Doug and Carol’s drama.   Actors moved on and new ones came in.  I watched and kept up a mild interest…..until season six.  Enter….Luka Kovac….and later….Abby Lockhart. 

I had been aware of Goran Visnjic and Maura Tierney from their previous work.  “Welcome to Sarajevo” was already part of our video library.  I had stumbled on it at Blockbuster because we were in the midst of another international  adoption – one of the underlying themes of that film.  I was also a fan of ‘NewsRadio’ and was a bit perturbed at the news of Maura being added to the ER cast.  Never thought she would fit in there.  I never thought the two of them – as Abby and Luka – would ever consume me as much as they have.  But it wasn’t so much as a viewer as much as a plodding writer.  The ‘Luby II’ drama got me writing again.  REALLY writing.  I mean, really REALLY writing.  Constantly. Obsessively.

Frustrated with the show’s writers and what they were doing with the characters led me to the internet fan fiction sites.  Which gave me a viable audience for my storytelling.  Which led me to  Maura and Goran internet web boards.  Which in turn gave me a circle of internet buddies who were writers and fans of the show as well.  Which led me to blogging.  Which led me to other blogs…blogging friends….and more serious thought about writing.  And their friendships gave me the courage and determination to take a solo trip to NYC to see Maura Tierney in a play last fall.  Much to my husband’s dismay.

So ER ends it’s fifteen year run tonight.  The baby that I rocked to sleep while watching in the beginning is now salivating over the start of his driver’s education class at the end of the month.  His sister, whose adoption at the age of 5 was spurred on by ‘Welcome to Sarajevo’, is the current 7th grade Science not-student.  They have just barely tolerated this ER fascination for the last few years.  The Friday morning drive to school run down of the previous night’s show is now drowned out by ipods.  Not that we haven’t had some fun with it.  Her favorite memory is of the  ‘wedding cake’ we enjoyed the night Abby and Luka were married.  Crazy mom let them stay up, eat a store bought mini carrot cake and toast with Sprite in plastic champagne glasses as the ER wedding was taking place.   Crazy mom….but that event was a LONG time coming.  Seriously.  We just HAD to celebrate it.

Don’t know what I will be thinking tonight as it ends.  I know I will miss it.   We are talking a fifteen year habit here.  Actors and writers and directors and assistant producers and production assistants will move on and I will follow their careers.   I have ER dvd collections to watch.   I am still going to be seriously writing myself.   And I do know that I am keeping my ER friends.  Every single one of them.  Do you hear that people??  I am going to keep bugging you.  So it ain’t really over, I guess.  Not at all.

Big Cities

January 2, 2009

We were watching a dvd until about 10 minutes to midnight last night.  We switched off the film and turned to the ABC Rockin’ Eve program to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  It was very cool.  It always is.  To see the people filling the streets.  The confetti.  The noise.  The snow….  And it was a little more thrilling for me when I realized that I had been there too.  Times Square.    It was just one of my ‘big city’ adventures this year.

The day after Thanksgiving, I dragged my semi-reluctant family to the Fox Theater in Detroit to see a professional production of ‘White Christmas.’  It was cute.  Splashy.  Colorful.  Expensive.  (And maybe…not nearly as good as the high school production of ‘Seussical the Musical’ we had seen the weekend before for about 1/4 the cost.)  As we were driving through the nearly deserted streets after the show on our way back home,  I was thinking about the fact that in the last eleven months I have spent a significant amount of time in Chicago, Detroit, Boston and New York.  Big cities.  That’s pretty amazing since I live in a fairly rural community in south east Michigan.  Detroit is about a 50 minute drive for us.  I used to go there a couple of times a year with a friend to shop at the Eastern Market, lunch in Greek Town and then cross the bridge to purchase baked goods at Columbo’s in Windsor’s Little Italy neighborhood.  Good times.  Great memories.

My family and I stayed in Detroit last spring while I attended the Michigan Reading Association’s convention at Cobo Hall.  Sadly, there was very little for my family to do in the city while I was attending presentations and classes.  They rode the People Mover a couple of times and visited a particular bakery in Greektown.  There were no shops to visit.  No bookstores or hobby shops or museums close by to visit.  Everything was shut tight for the weekend.  My children were actually fearful to get off the ‘beaten track’ when we went looking for a place to have dinner.  Sad.

They all love Chicago.  We have been there several times and never at any other time than February.  Go figure.  They like walking the streets looking for favorite shops…and some new ones.  They like riding in cabs.  They like the museums.  They have never been afraid there.  Never been fearful about getting off the ‘beaten track’  there.   Our plan is to try the city in the summer some time soon.  Heh.

Boston was a totally new trip for all of us.  A HUGE adventure.  We discovered that we like subway trains in Boston.  That we like the Red Sox.  That we like being on the water.  That we have new and greater admiration for JFK.  We would all go back to Boston in a heart beat.  Boston rocks.

I had been trying to get to New York City since I was eight years old.  My three day ‘adventure’ to see my favorite actress in a play was the highlight of my entire year….probably.  And it wasn’t just  catching up with an internet friend I had known but never met, the play and meeting Maura Tierney afterwards.  I like the ‘music’ of New York….the pulse….the people….the action.  Naw…scratch ‘like’ and insert ‘love.’   The Princess and I are planning a trip there together for her birthday in August.  One thing is for certain, her trip will be an entirely different one that the one I took in September.  We will see the Statue of Liberty this time – because she wants to.  But we will sneak in a visit to the West Village bookstores, Morandi and the Magnolia Bakery for hummingbird cupcakes – because I want to.

When I think about our big city adventures, I am sad for the city of Detroit.  So very sad.   It appears that the music there has dwindled.

The New York ‘Adventure’

September 27, 2008

It all started with the finger nails. I have always bitten my nails to the quick. Never been able to stop chewing them. Last December – when the Princess got a box from Santa and didn’t like them – I discovered the plastic glue on things. Can no longer live without them and I haven’t gotten brave enough to get the ‘real’ things. The night before – while lost on the way to a soccer game 90 minutes from home and the gas tank settling in the red zone – I peeled the most recent set off. As I was on my way to New York City for a big adventure, I needed new ones. Stressed for time, I hadn’t had time to put them on at home. So…I figured that sitting in a bathroom stall at Metro Airport was as good a time as any. Call it ‘multi-tasking.’ Oh, I know, the nail technician in you is horrified. But, never done it before and will never do it again. I mean, they went on okay. Broke two off trying to get toilet paper off the roll, stopped and glued them back on only to discover that a bit of toilet paper had gotten caught in the edge of the glue and when I tried to pick it off…two fingers were glued together. Arrggghhh!

Once out of the bathroom I made the first of several ‘walking mistakes’ of the trip. I eschewed the brand spanking new tram ride to the other end of the tarmac where my gate was located. It was only 18 gates away after all and here were the moving sidewalk things to ride. Right? Heh. One was working and the other was not. My cute little cherry covered satchel minus wheels got heavier with each step. (Note to self: NEVER try a plane trip again without the carry on bag with wheels….even though cherry covered satchel is cute.)

Made it to the gate okay…made it on the plane okay….and that’s where the days and days of stress began to peel off in layers. Stress of the new school year beginning. Stress of getting to know and organize again the 767 students that pass through my computer lab each week. Stress of soccer practice/games/tournaments here and there at the same times. Stress of preparing materials for a substitute to take over my most chaotic scheduled school days of the week. Stress of just getting two kids back and forth to school and their various activities. Stress of trying to manage home and hearth. Peeling away in layers. This trip was mine. Three days visiting a city that I have wanted to see since I was eight years old. A city described to me in wondering delight by my mother after a visit for my dad’s army division reunion in 1964. On my way at last.

When I first began planning this trip, I made reservations at a cute little bed and breakfast in Greenwich Village. A room for one for one night. I planned to see the play I had tickets for on Tuesday night and then again on Wednesday night (yeah…call me crazy but more on that later) and take a plane home immediately after. When it became clear that the airlines were not going to cooperate with my little plan and I would need to stay another night, I contacted the B&B. They weren’t going to be able to accommodate the second night. I needed to find another venue. Expensive. VERY expensive. I began thinking about finding a travel partner. Someone to share hotel and taxi expenses with. That’s when I discovered a new friendship in ‘Indie.’ (Not so much named for the devil may care adventurous spirit she shares with one of my favorite Harrison Ford characters as much as from the small Indiana town she hails from.) Through phone calls and text messages we got to know each other a little (she is unbelievably shy), made hotel arrangements that suited us, purchased her ticket to the play and made plans to meet. Which is why I ended up sitting on a bench in front of a popcorn stall in the baggage claim area of the Delta tarmac at LaGuardia airport. Her plane landed 90 minutes after mine and I was watching for her. We had shared pictures so I sort of knew who I was looking for. Sort of. She came trudging down the walkway toward me and I smiled. She stopped and turned around, apparently not seeing me, pulled out her phone and started texting. I walked toward her and she stopped. Shared smiles and we were off in a taxi toward our hotel in Chelsea.

You have undoubtedly heard about New York cabbies. Believe me. Every single word you have heard is true. Better buckle up! They are brash, brave and determined to get you where you are going….just maybe not in one piece. Traffic from airport to city was horrendous and complicated by emergency vehicles trying to get through. Horns honking, sirens going….it was everything my mother described. I LOVED it! Every second of it.

Once settled in our hotel room we set out on a walk to nearby streets for a place to get something to eat. Our hotel was convienently nestled between Broadway and 6th Avenue. We found a tiny little deli across 6th Avenue and purchased very un-midwest like sandwiches to take back to the hotel.

I was meeting a friend at the Playwrights Horizon Theater on 42nd street before the play I had come to see. She and I had ‘met’ online through an AOL message board that focused on ‘ER.’ We share an affection for the show, the work of Maura Tierney and writing. She has done it professionally and is a retired life time member of the Writer’s Guild. I just do it for fun. Over the past three and a half years we have shared a lot of other things as well. This night we were meeting face to face for the very first time to share a meal and an evening at the theater to see Nicky Silver’s ‘Three Changes’, starring Maura Tierney, Dylan McDermott and Scott Cohen. So I set out for my first encounter with hailing a NY taxi on my own.

It wasn’t so bad I guess. I’d done it in Chicago. I’d seen it in the movies often enough. I mean, if Doris Day can do it, so can I. I held up my arm as a bevy of taxis rushed down 6th Avenue. One pulled to the side and rolled down his window. I said I was going to 42nd street and he shook his head and sped off. Uh oh. This was going to be harder than I thought. I held up my arm again and a black car pulled up to take another rider. He rolled his window down and asked where I was going. I told him and he nodded. I slipped in the back alongside a gorgeous black business woman. We started to chat. She was delighted to find out I was from Michigan and regaled me with her first encounter with the Great Lakes (‘like the Atlantic without waves!’)at a Traverse City wedding the previous weekend. Then our conversation slipped into the economy, Barack Obama, education, fashion shows in Bryant Park, theater, where to go in the city and on and on. She pulled out her money and told me softly to give the driver $12 when I got to the theater….and then she was gone. My driver continued several blocks to the theater, did a U turn in the middle of the street and dropped me off right in front. He accepted my money, tipped his head and was gone. So there I stood. Directly in front of a theater I had been planning to attend for months. It was a heady feeling.

I checked out the windows. Walked the length of the block to see where Indie (aka Shawna) and I could grab a bite the next night and then meandered back to the theater. People – staff – were starting to arrive. And then my friend arrived. Big smiles…hugs…and whispers about waiting for the cast to arrive. While we were talking I noticed playwright, Nicky Silver, and cast member, Brian J. Smith, standing near the corner of the building smoking. Silver was decidedly ignoring us. I stepped forward to help him with the Orange Crush bottle that was unknowingly falling out of his jacket pocket, shook his hand and told him I was looking forward to seeing the play. Exchanged smiles with Brian J. Smith (a very young looking cutie who plays a rather despicable character) and my friend and I were off to take our dinner reservation at ‘Chez Josephine’, right next to the theater.

We were met at the door by a delightfully polite and happy elf of a man – who I later found out was Jean-Claude Baker, the owner and one of Josephine Baker’s adopted ‘Rainbow Tribe’ sons. We were led to a small table in the midst of a narrow colorful art deco dining room. Dinner was a salad of endive leaves with Roquefort cheese and toasted walnuts and a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese. Yum! As we left we were presented with a large post card featuring his mother. I wish I’d done more research before going. I would have loved to have talked to him for a longer period. Anyway….onto the theater!

The Playwrights Horizon theater is lovely and modern and has wonderful stadium type seating. It holds just 198 patrons. Not a bad seat in the house. My friend had an extra ticket and happily sold it to someone waiting in line. The house was absolutely full. We went inside and sat and waited. The lights went down and when the spotlight came up on her, Maura Tierney delivered the opening lines and the play began. The reason I had come.

‘Three Changes’ is a perplexing piece to say the least. It’s funny. It’s emotional. It’s dark and dreary…..and confusing. I haven’t talked to a person yet who was able to say they understood what was really going on with these five characters. One had it all…he thought. One lost it all….wanted what the other had and set out to get it. One was trying hard to create the persona that she DID have it all….but knew, deep down, something extraordinary was missing. Into the mix we stir a selfish, clueless ‘other woman’ and a darkly affective homeless teen. ‘Three Changes’ Not exactly family fare. Not exactly….what? I like my plays to have a satisfying ending. I like to have the pieces of the puzzle ‘fit.’ This one was like the button box Laurel gives to Nate to help him cope with his depression. When the buttons are sorted and in their place, the box is dumped, mixed up and you start all over again. I was a bit exhausted at the end. And depressed.

But the ACTING? The acting was phenomenal. Maura Tierney does not disappoint. Never has in my book. She was delightful as a woman who tried to turn every situation with a quip and a smile….and yet easily twisted to reveal layers of unhappiness. Dylan McDermott drove his character from a reasonably happy man to one struggling with confusion and despair. His life was on a train track going in a direction he didn’t want to go….literally. Scott Cohen was the man with the plan. An interesting actor with an interesting role. Aya Cash played clueless and was delightfully funny. Brian J. Smith’s portrayal was funny in his enthusiasm and yet very unlikeable. So that makes him a good actor, right? Frustrating in that I have had students with the same sort of persona he created….and that’s pretty scary.

The people who have known me for a while are going to appreciate this bit. During the break between Acts I and II, I stood up to stretch and talk and overheard my friend talking with someone sitting next to her. They were wondering about the noise they had heard all during Act I. I asked if it was a high pitched squeal and reached to check my hearing aid. My friend she thought that it was me but wasn’t quite sure how to let me know without being rude. I told her to BE rude and laughed. I was told that there were hearing assisted devices available at the snack bar but before I had a chance to get one, someone from back stage came out and offered to get it for me. All I had to do was hand over my driver’s license. Two minutes later I was presented with a head set. Hee. Nothing like making your presence known. And if people only knew what kind of trouble not being able to hear that squeal has gotten me into….

After the show I was returned the head set and retrieved my license and my friend and I were talking about how long to wait for the actors to come out. I was going through my bag looking for a picture I had made to have signed for my daughter when Maura entered the lobby from backstage. She was walking at a clip but stopped with a huge smile when I asked if she would sign something. Dang but she is cute in glasses. I handed her a pen and the picture, explaining that the top part was from an essay my daughter had written about me when she was in 4th grade…about how I ‘liked watching ‘ER’ because of a cool character named Maura Tierney and how I might get to meet my ‘cool character’ some day.’ Maura started to read it and I told her she didn’t have to do that…just sign it. She laughed and said she wanted to and then signed it for me. She had been talking to my friend about the play and was totally accommodating about having a picture taken….four times….and yet they were all out of focus. (I keep my camera on forced off flash and forgot about that…dang) I kept pulling away and she kept pulling me back. Heh.

Indie (aka Shawna) was waiting for me when I got back to the hotel. She wanted a recounting of every single little detail. Several. Times. Over. It was fun being with someone who didn’t mind that. Who has as much invested in Maura Tierney fandom as I do….well…maybe even more. We were up quite late talking about whatshesaid, whenshecameout, whatshewaswearing, howtheplaywent, howmanystayedforautographs, whatisgoingtohappentomorrow….etc.

Wednesday morning I was up before five – as is my habit. I took my book into the bathroom to read for a while. Showered. Dressed. Waited. When Indie (aka Shawna) was up we headed for the free breakfast offered by the hotel and then we were off. Now, my friend from the previous night was concerned that we would not have a proper ‘New York experience’ because our visit was to be so short. I am still not sure what that ‘experience’ might be but we did good on Wednesday. First we hailed a cab and headed for the Grayline Double Decker Bus tour. Wandered around Times Square a bit looking for the stop we were supposed to get on at. Climbed a board and took a quick tour of the city’s downtown loop. Now, I love watching how people react to things…especially when I can’t follow the narration being given. Our bus pulled up next to a nondescript building to wait for a light and I saw the late 60ish woman in front of me gently nudge her husband and slightly tip her head. Turned to look and I snapped a picture of ‘The Museum of Sex.’ “Sheesh, they have a museum for everything!” I snorted quietly and she grinned when she turned to look back at me. And then she outright laughed when I suggested that we take a field trip there. Hee. Teachers. Always on the lookout for a new ‘learning experience.’ We are so funny. Sometimes.

When I look back at the pictures I snapped on this tour, it’s apparent that I was taking photos of tall buildings that no one was really going to care about but me. I did snap one of a police officer on a horse in the middle of traffic (my daughter’s career aspiration) and a couple of interesting sidewalk sights. I was looking around trying to orient myself but it’s impossible in a city that contains so many different ‘personalities.’ When we reached the pier we were changing buses and everything smelled so good. Lots of smells to get those salivating glands running. The next stop was in East Village. Indie (aka Shawna) and I had kindsorta plans to lunch at a restaurant MT had mentioned on the ‘Martha Stewart Show’ back in the fall. I asked our bus driver if it was possible to walk from East Village to West Village from where we were. His eyes widened a bit and he pointed out a nearby bus stop. He said we could walk it but to take the bus…..please. Heh. My adventurous counterpart, Indie (aka Shawna), and I disembarked, counted out our dollars and waited for the bus. As we climbed aboard, we were told that we needed $2 in change…which we didn’t have. Another rider pointed down the street and said we could buy a bus pass ‘down there.’ We went down the block a bit and found a taco joint with a window open to the street. The young kid working inside had no clue where we could buy a bus pass but gave us two Sacajawea dollar coins for our bills. He emphatically told us to make sure we got a bus exchange ticket with our money as well. Sweet kid. Back to the bus stop and after a 10 minute or so wait, we were on the road again.

I love the ‘villages’. East Village. Greenwich Village. West Village. They are away from the honking horns and flashing lights and overcrowded sidewalks and streets of Manhatten….which was the only part of New York we had seen yet. Here they had huge shade trees covering the sidewalks. I had a googled map to Morandi so we stopped and sat in the sun on a sidewalk bench to get our bearings for a moment. My mom called. After reassuring her that we were having a good time and I actually DID know where we were going, we were off again. We found the corner where the restaurant was supposed to be, turned around and there it was. So cute. The sidewalk was almost completely open to the inside and we were offered an inside or outside table. Given that the outside was a bit fillep10109862d, we chose the quieter inside atmosphere. It was like dining in a Sicilian wine cellar…or at least what my mid-west mind imagines a Sicilian wine cellar to be like. Sitting in a corner table, we perused the menu and selected an apple/toasted macadamia nut salad recommended by our waitress and a grilled focaccia caprese with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella & basil. Again…yum. And the presentation was beautiful. Almost too beautiful to eat. So….I took pictures. The waiters were laughing and enjoying us…I think. : ) Forgoing dessert at Morandi we headed out for an easy stroll toward the Magnolia Bakery.

West Village exudes wealth, youth and charm. It’s pretty. Relaxing. People were friendly and I was most intrigued by the book stores that I saw. Little one room setups filled with shelf upon shelf of paperback books….expensive paperback books. I am a reader. I read in the morning. I read before I go to bed at night. I read while things pile up around me. I read on vacation. I read on long car drives when DH is driving. My children love bookstores. We go for full half days when we get the chance. Browsing. Looking. To meet authors. I could easily have spent several hours in this one, purchased a book and found a sunny bench to sit on to read. I need to go back. Seriously.

The Magnolia Bakery is well known in New York circles for it’s cupcakes. And you gotta love a place that has ‘cupcakes’ in it’s website address. Luckily it was a good day and there were only eight or so customers in a very small shop. There were many more employees baking and frosting and decorating. We chose four cupcakes from the window display area and made our way back into the sunshine. Here is where I made the second of poor walking decisions. We decided to walk back to the hotel….an easy walk, according to our waitress at Morandi. Heh. Next time we master the subway system. Totally.

It was an interesting walk though. We passed schools with parents and nannies waiting to pick up children, high schools with snickering teenagers in plaid skirted uniforms, a hospital, mothers and nannies pushing strollers with babies, privately owned brownstones and shops. People walking dogs. People asking for money. People selling things. And all around the ‘music’ of traffic, voices, construction machines….the music of a city. Didn’t hear that so much in Boston last summer. Didn’t hear it with quite the same intensity in Chicago. Definitely not in Detroit. New York has a ‘music’ all it’s own.

After relaxing and napping for a bit, we headed out for the Playwrights Horizon Theater. Indie (aka Shawna) was a bundle of nerves and had been for most of the day. She was there to see the play….and to meet Maura Tierney. It had been a long, busy day for us both. We arrived a bit early and headed for the Papaya Dog at the end of the block for something to drink as we waited. At the theater we sat in the lobby for a moment waiting for the doors to open. I traded my license for a hearing assistance head phone. (The non hearing impaired person always thinks they are wonderful but they aren’t. This set made it sound as if the actors were speaking inside a box….hollow and echoing.) An elderly gentleman who looked very tired and very perturbed headed toward the couch near me. He sat down with a sigh and I told him he looked very happy to be there. He rolled his eyes and laughed. His wife dragged him there a lot, he said. Some good plays and some not so good plays. Then we talked about the fun he had driving home from a Michigan family vacation through Canada. Nice chat. He was sweet and interestingly enough, was sitting in the spot directly behind me inside.

In the theater auditorium, Indie (aka Shawna) nervously settled herself in her front row seat. I sat on the stage edge and we talked about the set and where the actors were going to stand. We were hoping the person sitting next to her would be a single as well…and willing to trade their ticket for mine so we could sit together. That wasn’t to be so I headed back to my row 7 center seat (THANK you, Holly!!), put on my headphone and settled in for a second performance. Given that it was the second show of the day, it didn’t seem quite as edgy. MT caught a couple more laughs than the night before. Brian J. Smith – a good deal less. I also caught him ‘secretly’ sticking his tonuge out at MT…twice. Probably an attempt to break her concentration. Brat.

As someone who has directed/produced in community theater and is used to observing 6 to 8 weeks of regular rehearsal, one full week of dress rehearsals and then – at least – three to six actual performances, seeing a show twice in sucession was almost mandatory. When I had the chance to purchase two tickets and no one close to me was interested in going, it was a no brainer to see it twice. It’s not like watching a movie twice where everything is exactly the same. Theater changes with the tempo of the audience…with the time of day….etc. Each performance tends to take on it’s very own ‘personality.’ Twice? It’ a given.

After the show we headed to the lobby to wait for the actors. Brian J. Smith left in a hurry. Scott Cohen and Aya Cash were talking with groups of friends. Dylan McDermott, bag in hand, was leaving at a clip. I was actually surprised to see him because he hadn’t come out at all the night before. He stopped when I spoke and grinned when I told him he’d done a wonderful job tonight and had an even better performance the night before. He was surprised that I had come twice and I explained that I was a Teacher from Michigan and was skipping school to be there. I asked if he would mind signing a ‘please excuse….’ letter for my principal. He laughed and asked where I taught as he signed my note. He handed it back and said ‘this is great’ then with an evil little chuckle, shook his head and left. Sigh. I think he may have kick started my long dormant Dylan crush into action again. What a hottie…..sigh. Time to break out the ‘Home for the Holidays’ dvd again.

Maura Tierney had slipped out of the door and was visiting with several groups, including the ones circling Aya and Scott. She caught my eye and grinned and eventually made her way toward us. Indie (aka Shawna) was mesmerized. She was frazzled and very nervous. She was choking on her words. Maura was patient and accomodating to us both. She was cute and sweet. She talked and signed and posed for pictures and then said good by. She was standing outside on the sidewalk with Scott Cohen and the people they were talking with. They stood between us and the place we had decided to eat at after the show. Indie (aka Shawna) could not bring herself to walk past them so we waited for them to move. We followed as they made their way down the street, all talking and laughing. We moved into our Papaya Dog stand and ordered one of the best tasting hamburgers I have had in a long while. And it was a little difficult to eat. I was dealing with the very first cold sore on my lip that I have ever had in my life. My tonuge and roof of my mouth were raw from continually sucking on cough drops for two and a half hours during the show….twice. (The first night I was almost choking as I held back a cough until the loud sound of a subway train, which I had been forwarned about, started.) Dang nasty mid-western cold!

Thursday morning brought breakfast, shopping, packing and airports. It was a way cheaper ride back to LaGuardia than it had been coming. Indie (aka Shawna) got her boarding pass and we went to the main terminal for a last lunch together. We went back to the bus stand, took silly pictures together on our phone cameras and rode the bus back to our terminals. We hugged when it came to her terminal and then I rode the route again to mine. On my plane I was seated next to a wonderful older woman who was on her way home from Washington DC, where she was part of a group lobbying for more $$$ for cancer research. SHE had her picture taken with Senator Stabenow and was very excited about that. She was pleased about their progress for more funding and I was properly impressed. Nice chat.

When I landed in Detroit, I made my way through the terminal. And yes, I rode the tram this time. Found the bridge to the long term parking garage. Found the elevator that would take me up three levels to where my car was parked. Non-functional. Dragged my not so cute any more cherry covered bag without wheels up three flights of stairs and through the garage to to open section where I had parked. No car. I looked everywhere. Still no car. A businessman on his way home helped me look. No car. He left me standing there, trying to punch DH’s number into my totally dead cell phone. Finally I pulled out my envelope where I had written the car’s location. Heh. I had parked it in 9-D…not 9-A. It was down the entire length of the parking structure. I started trudging with my bags, found a rolling cart and tossed them a board. Kept walking. Found the car. Tossed my bags in the back seat and headed home. Back to ‘real’ life. Back to lesson plans, laundry and soccer games.

There were people that thought I was totally nuts to embark on this trip alone. There were people that thought I was very irresponsible to be meeting with people I had met on the internet. There were people that thought I was crazy to sit through the same play twice in a row. Nuts to you! This trip has had it’s lessons to be learned.

It has totally ruined my mid-western palate. I have always been an ‘adventurous’ diner and this trip has stepped that up a notch. No more plying to the desires of family yearning for meatpotatosandcorn. That’s boring. Hold on to your forks, folks. We are trying new things in the future. Things with….basil.

I was able to finally meet and enjoy an ‘old’ internet friend in person and discover that we may not have a lot in common but there is some wonder and comfort in knowing and enjoying one another. We’ll get a good picture next time, D. I promise. The Princess and I are already planning to visit in August for her 14th birthday.

I was able to watch a new friend spread her wings a little and do some things that were way out of her comfort zone. She was nervously game for any new adventure I had laid out for us. And she was very patient with me. She is also the fastest adult text messenger that I have ever seen. Shawna…you totally rock.

p10109451I was able to meet and greet an actress that I have had tremendous respect and admiration for her talent for a very long time. Was not able to open my mouth and tell her that however. I become verbally challenged when faced with someone I admire. The fact that I didn’t ask how she manages to stay out of the paparazzi loop…..how she really feels about leaving a show that brought her into our homes on a weekly basis and basically bought her some financial security….what is next on her career agenda…..what makes her laugh…..what book she is currently reading…..kills me. The fact that I didn’t ask those things will be a huge disappointement to my internet circle of Maura fandom. Dang. Can handle the cabbies and the random strangers about the Great Lakes and driving through Canada and field trips and cancer research without breaking a sweat. Go figure.

Mostly though, this New York adventure handed me the realization that I can still enjoy things on my own. That I still have the courage to try the things the I want to do. It allowed me to show my children that if they have something they really want to do – it’s possible to make it happen. And it has stirred enough chutzpah in me to actually think about making an appointment to get some ‘real’ nails put on for a change. By a real technician. Now….if I could just get a hummingbird cupcake or two shipped to Michigan……