Monday, May 28, 2007
I never would have known about Rick Astley or Terence Trent D'Arby had it not been for an enterprising young Jamaican man I met in Paris named Chris. Chris was an ambitious young model who sold it all to make it in the big city. Instead, he wound up rooming with three amiable if very un-glam Frenchman in a Paris flat, all the while self-promoting and trying to convince everyone he was the. Next. Big. Thing.
I met Chris through my friend X. (She no longer goes by her name, but just in case, let's keep her anonymous.) She was dating one of the roomies' brother, or cousin, or second cousin. Who cared? He was French, she was (recently) unattached, and the sparks flew.
Meantime, Chris convinced X and I that we should help him promote his career by coming to several FABULOUS parties at the apartment he shared with his French roomies. So we did. We chose our (pathetically American and very un-mode Salvation Army) outfits carefully. We contributed to his party food fund. We should have been asking -- Why on earth would we be an asset to his self-promotion?
In tres Francais fashion, we brought flowers the nights of the fetes. We greeted his roomates, whom I'll call A,B and C, with affection and genuine appreciation for their hosting, um, the host of the party. (What we didn't know until much later was that Chris rarely if ever chipped in on rent, a major faux pas in any language or city. He eventually disappeared before he could be kicked out.)
I genuinely enjoyed the company of Chris' roomates. They were fun, and real, and kind of shrugged their shoulders at all the fashion nonsense swirling about the apartment. They kind of celebrated with the party, even if they weren't a party to it.
I'll never forget the last of these parties I attended. There were two pathetic scenes playing out. One was another model who was walking around the party with her headshots, unabashedly talking only to those people she thought could get her a job. The second was a photographer who had his portfolios spread out on the floor around him as he sat, cross-legged in the entrance to the apartment. Everyone who entered had to first take a cursory glance at his oeuvre and oooh and aaah, or some BS like that.
Oddly, around this same time, but independent of the whole Chris interaction, I was walking down Blvd. Montparnasse and someone said, "Hey, do you speak English?" I turned and said that yes, I did. The man who had tracked me down said, "I'm a photographer and I have a Nike shoot coming up. I can't find any French women with calves like yours."
At this point it seems relevant to add that I grew up as a ballet dancer. So I have unusually large (and reminiscently muscular) calves. At 19, they were probably still quite so. Anyway, pursuant to several minutes of idle chitchat, he said, "Look, if you would only drop 35 pounds, I could get you modeling work here."
As any 19 year old would do, I convinced myself that giving up baguette, cheese and wine would certainly be worthwhile for a chance to work with a Vogue photographer. I began to sit in on similar (though more powered, and smaller group) parties with his crowd, where real working models would stop me before I sipped a glass of champagne to say, "Do you know how many calories are in that flute?"
It wasn't long before I realized that he was BS with a capital B, capital S. I hated his friends, his colleagues and everyone around him. Definitely a short-lived friendship.
Meantime Chris had vanished from the City of Lights, and I went back to being just another American student in Paris. Happily.
Fast forward two decades. I am in an emergency meeting at the software company I worked for and someone comes rushing into the conference room saying, "Don't you speak French?" After confirming that yes, I was still verbally fluent, the international sales manager says to me -- "We've got this new distributor here, and we're localizing our product for them." (In un-technospeak, that means translating English software to French.) "Can you help with dinner?"
I walk into the lab where they are working, ready to suggest a restaurant for dinner. Who do I see but A and B, who have since launched an IT services company and are now, well, here in Wisconsin working with my company. I met their gaze evenly. A certain recognition is happening, though none of us can quite believe it. There is no mention of modeling, of late night parties, or of Paris. Only of TCP/IP, how Win95 will affect our business, and how our browser compares with Netscape.
And how Chris disappeared into the night, having made keys to the apartment for all his friends, but having rarely paid any rent. "That's the modeling business for you," they said. Which is just one of the reasons I never made it as one.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Aside from her own sad biography, is anyone taking seriously the claims that Courtney Love was behind his death? I read a compelling book on this topic and wonder if, in perverse fashion, she's using his money for lawyers to deflect inquiries on her guilt.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Thanks to Debbe, my daughter now has her first real couture. From Paris. Wait a minute. I don't even have a dress from France, much less Paris, and I lived there! Have I mentioned that my daughter is scarcely 2 years old? O, the humanity! Then again, I wouldn't look nearly as cute in a hand smocked dress as she will.
Monday, May 14, 2007
May 7, 2007
Dear Mom. Happy Mother-
's Day! You are the best.
I have a present for you.
On the opposite page, the teacher filled in his answers to questions about me.
My mom is so happy when... I hug her.
My mom and I have fun together when we... go to the park.
My mom is really pretty when she... puts jewelry on.
My mom's favorite thing to do is... take care of me.
If my mom could have anything she wanted, she would get... clothes.
My mom is really good at... kicking the soccer ball.
When my mom wants to relax, she... takes a nap.
My mom's favorite meal is... guacamole.
My mom loves me because... she likes my eyes.
I love my mom because... I like her here.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I'm hoping that her angle -- or should I say, this is mine -- is that the study sample were adolescents beginning at age 14. So my son has what, 4 1/2 more years before we put the hammer down?
Here are some shows that even I would miss:
Mythbusters -- Actually makes me want to understand principles of physics. More than I can say for my high school chemistry/physics/calculus teacher. (Though, through the magic of Google, I discovered that his son apparently did take these principles and apply them in real life -- as a member of the US Freestyle ski team -- way cool for for a Three Rivers, MI native.)
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends -- I really dislike Cartoon Network about 95% of the time. (All bets were off two years ago on a family vacation aboard a cruise ship. CN was the only children's show in English available in the 3'x8' cabin my husband shared with our boys, then 5 and 8. You figure out whether they were allowed to watch as he tried to get ready for dinner!) But this show's premise, that all the imaginary friends conjured up by kids actually dorm together under one roof, is genius. I especially love Wilt (homage to Chamberlain) and Eduardo.
American Idol -- I know, I know. I never watched until this season. But it's actually, for the most part, family entertainment and a lot of laughs! Now we can all do spot on Randy Jackson ("Yo, Dawg, I'm not feeling the You-Ness of it!") and Simon Cowell ("That was, simply put, truly horrendous") impersonations. Now with two feet planted firmly on the bandwagon, I'm rooting for a Blake and Jordin finale.
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader -- My sons are convinced that my husband and I are both qualified to Go. All. The. Way. For ego boosting purposes alone, worth yawning through the s-l-o-w production. Oh, and as during football season, "Mute" button on the remote must be handy at all times for those "House" and other inappropriate commercials they run for this, ahem, children's show.
Man Vs. Wild -- I mainly love his accent; the XY chromosomes in our household love such manly survival feats as him drinking his own urine...
Deadliest Catch -- Another testosterone blaster, but it does harken me to a time when a high school friend of mine worked on a shrimp boat in Alaska. Nuts.
Suffice to say, we spend a lot of time outdoors, at museums, zoos, parks, and reading. But in spite of my early motherhood protests -- which I knew would come back to bite me -- we do spend our fair share of time in front of screens, be they television, computer, or GameBoy.
Unplug our TV? Not unless I can catch Project Runway and Desperate Housewives via my laptop...
When I read this article, I could relate to it 150%. While hardly an MD resident or high powered attorney, I am currently in the position of having taken a part time professional J.O.B. after a decade of being "just" a mom. Ambivalently, I only accepted the J.O.B. after late night negotiations with my M.O.M. about her role in the childcare. (As a sidebar, my Mom's first comment about possible childcare arrangements was, "Over my dead body will they go to daycare." So that narrowed my options.)
My friend Jenny summarizes my situation with the following admonishment. "You suck." She readily admits her jealousy that my Mom, earth Mom and former children's librarian, is there and willing to help on a small or grand scale.
For years my Mom has covered every Tom, Dick and Harry commitment that has come along. It started with my nascent web design business when my eldest was less than a year old. I'd drive him up to their house, we'd spend the night every Thursday. Making sure she made my favorite Asian Chicken salad that night, she'd then watch him all day Friday so I could work on my husband's company's web site. Then other clients' web sites. That's how I fit it all in.
Then I began volunteer work, and graduated to a new level of needing to get away on odd days, or a string of days, around my husband's schedule. In the blink of an eye, we were doing more calendar checks than I was doing with my husband! And yet she was always willing, always able, and always managed to fit her grandkids in.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago. My dad had accepted a J.O.B. in southern Illinois. My mom had the following choices:
- Stay in their place in Wisconsin alone, minimum of 30 minutes away from either of her kids;
- Retire and move "down South" with him; or
- Retire and move nearer one of her kids
Clearly, between my brother and I, at this stage, I win. I have three kids whom she adores. He has a fiancee (whom she adores) and a lot of pets. Call that hand.
The truth is, she is there for me now in ways that only other mothers can appreciate. If my youngest falls asleep late and needs to be awakened in order to pick up the other two at school, she comes over to "napsit." If my husband and I want to take in a movie and coffee, she's there. If I need to bail on the school concert because my littlest is 1/2 hour past her bedtime, my Mom drives the others home. Don't want to deal with grocery shopping with three kids? Mom will sit with them in the car while I breeze through. She volunteers at my kids' school as much as I do.
She is as integral a part of our family's daily schedule as I am, and I could never repay her that debt. I want her to know how much I appreciate her knitting herself into our lives.
When this J.O.B. opportunity came my way, I knew what I wanted and needed for my family. On paper, it looks so simple. 10-15 hours a week, from home. Occasional meetings and travel. The question was -- was that what she wanted? I can only speculate, because she'd never tell me differently. But I am blessed every time that I entrust my children to her loving care.
Happy Mother's Day, Granny Nanny. We all love you.
Friday, May 11, 2007
(Thanks to Daily Candy for keeping me in the international product loop!)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
My husband and I have (inexcusably) joked for years about kids making clothes for kids. Leave it to The Onion to give us this perfectly perverse visual.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Here's hoping the real deal goes that happily!