Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dead Celebrities Society

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about a year now, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week Moma Rock chose the topic: Robin William's death has shocked the world. It made me wonder: What celebrity deaths have you found most shocking, and why?

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

First of all, I want to share my thoughts about Robin Williams. They're not on his death or how it happened, as I have no idea what he was thinking or feeling. I've seen him in many different movies and he's always been a source of incredible talent. I loved him best as Genie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, and John Keating (Dead Poet's Society). He was also really funny as the doctor in Nine Months. And I forgot that he had a small role in To Wong Foo... I even saw some roles he was in movies that weren't as well-known, such as The Final Cut and House of D. The most recent movie I saw him in was The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. Maybe that's why I wasn't so shocked about his death. His character in the movie is told that he's dying within a short period of time. I probably associated it with real life or something.
Side note: Just from looking him up on IMDB, I found out that his birthday is right after mine.

There are other celebrities that have died too soon or their deaths just came out of left field:

Actors:

Cory Monteith: Since he was in rehab and seemed to be doing better, I didn't see this coming at all.

John Ritter: I remember it was after the first anniversary of 9/11 and I was driving to work when I heard the sad news on the radio. John was so funny on Three's Company and seemed like a cool guy in general (he wasn't always after attention from the media).

Brittany Murphy: I loved her in Clueless and she was great in some other movies, as well. She definitely went down in her prime.

Chris Farley: I was working at a resident facility for adults with developmental disabilities when I saw on a TV that Chris Farley had died. I was totally shocked. One of my friends who worked there with me was also a fan of his and I ran over and told him right away. He was really upset.

Phil Hartman: He was a great comedic talent and it was truly disturbing what happened to him. I'll always remember him as Frank Sinatra.

Singers:

Whitney Houston: I used to be obsessed with her music. I'd listen to her cassette every day (the one with "How Will I Know") and memorize all the songs. I even saw her in concert when I was 10. She was great in The Bodyguard, as well. I didn't give her much thought after that, but was still shocked to hear about her death.

Michael Jackson: I wrote a tribute to him a while ago. In any case, I remember going to a county fair and then having dinner afterward. My mom called as we were sitting down at the restaurant and she told me the news. I can't believe it's been five years. I definitely did not see his death coming.

Michael Johns: He was one of my favorite American Idol contestants in 2008 and I was sad to see him get sent home so soon. I didn't give him much thought after that, however, so this news blindsided me.

Kurt Cobain: I listened to Nirvana all the time in high school and still listen to the Nevermind album nowadays. Kurt had a soulful voice and I definitely was affected when I found out that he killed himself.

Writers:

Nora Ephron: I didn't know she was in her early 70s and sick when she died. All I know now for sure is that she's a great writer and director. Her talent lives on thanks in part to The Mindy Project and Linda Yellin's novel, What Nora Knew.

Billie Letts: I was totally sad to read about her death in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. Even though she was in her mid-70s, I always imagined her as much younger. I knew she had stopped writing novels and I kept hoping for more. She's responsible for my favorite movie of all time, as she wrote Where the Heart is as a novel first. The novels she has written since then have all been fabulous, as well.

*****

On a lighter note, I'm impressed that Betty White is the last "Golden Girl" standing. Even in her 90s, she's as feisty as ever. I keep hoping she's immortal because I know the world will be grieving big time when it's her turn to join Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia, even if it's by natural causes. However, I can totally see her living into her 100s.

Which celebrity deaths shocked YOU the most?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CLEAR YOUR SHELF Giveaway Hop!

CLEAR YOUR SHELF GIVEAWAY HOP

August 20th  to August 27th 
Hosted by  Bookhounds  & I Am A Reader 


There are a bunch of blogs participating in this one so be sure to stop by each one. Each has their own entry rules and geographic limits, so be sure to read the rules for each one.  This hop starts August 20th and ends August 27th at midnight EST.


Here's what you can win:





*Open to anyone with a US mailing address, PO Boxes OK!
*The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here, as well as emailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
*This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified.
*The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
*Giveaway was organized and sponsored by me.
*VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Friday, August 15, 2014

A Tribute to "Orphan Black"

I just recently watched both seasons of Orphan Black and am experiencing a TV hangover. (Similar to a book hangover, but instead it's hard to watch another show after something so incredibly good.) Orphan Black is such an amazing show and I don't get how or why it was denied Emmy nominations (same goes for the lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, who should totally win several Emmys for all the roles she plays). After each episode was over, I would say "such a great show." I rarely do that with TV shows. It's definitely intense and suspenseful with some gory scenes, but there's also a lot of humor and emotional aspects, as well. I don't even want to give a synopsis because I feel like that would be giving away some of the plot. There's just too much to explain. I will share IMDB's quick description in hopes that it intrigues you:

A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her.

Yep...that's all you're getting if you haven't seen it yet. Just trust me that you need to see this show because it's so intense and amazing. It's like a book I don't want to put down even when real life is calling. Now that it's done, I am not motivated to watch anything else for a while (hence the TV hangover).

If you have seen it all the way through, I am going to delve into more detail below.

If you don't want any SPOILERS, stop here and come back when you've watched both seasons in their entirety. This post will still be here when you get back!


LAST CHANCE to turn back before you find out more than you should know....


Since the episodes have so much happening and seem to blend into each other so that you don't know where one ends and the next begins, I instead want to focus on the characters. I'll share my thoughts on all the major players, as well as possibly some smaller roles.

Sarah Manning: She's like Sarah Connor, River Tam, and Sydney Bristow combined. While she definitely is the center of the show, her story doesn't take away from the other stories. What's at the heart of the story is how she tries to protect her daughter, Kira, as well as the other clones, while also watching her own back.
Alison Hendrix: There's a reason she's one of the 25 best characters on TV, according to Entertainment Weekly. At first, she seems completely rude, but then she loosens up and we get to see her in all her glory. I love that she's in a musical that seems to reflect what is happening in her life. I love her friendship with Felix. She's the epitome of a "Desperate Housewife." (If she had been on that show, she would have totally been Bree. Or maybe Lynnette....)
Cosima Niehaus: I think she's my favorite of the clones. I love how she talks. Her voice is full of wonder, but she also seems to know the most of what is going on. Her cat-eye glasses, braids, and nose pierce all add to her essence, as well. I think one of my favorite things she did was school all the guys in that role play game. That was awesome! She was even inspirational for one fan (see item three on the list).
Helena: At first she's evil and not to be trusted. Then she manages to show her softer side. And when she is evil again, it's all to help Sarah and protect herself. Her long, blonde curls stand out the most. She has a lot of chutzpah and is afraid of nothing. I love how she cut off Olivier's tail before he could even think about it and also how she played Henrik at his own game (and won). My favorite scene involving her has to be with the guy at the bar. It showed her softer and more vulnerable side and it was nice to see that she had a chance to be loved. She's also really good with kids, which is something I never saw coming initially. I just hope she'll be okay, based on where she was taken at the end of season two.
Tony: Even though he was only on for one episode, he was memorable. Tatiana looks good as a guy (even though he's actually transgendered). I just wish he had a cleaner look. Maybe shorter hair or a better looking beard? Then again, I'm just jealous because he got to kiss Felix. Priorities! :) I wonder if he'll be back next season.
Rachel Duncan: Sometimes it's hard to believe that she's also a clone because she seems so different from everyone else. Not sure if it's the hair, voice, facial expressions, etc. I just keep forgetting that she's also being played by Tatiana. Her fits of rage remind me of a combination of my three year-old and six year-old children when they don't get their way. There was one point when I was hoping she'd actually become nice, but then she completely changed the game when she kidnapped Kira.
Mrs. S: She's good. She's evil. She's good again. And then when you think you can trust her, she pulls a stunt in the last moment of the last episode. I do love when she took down the woman and her son at the house in the woods.
Kira: I have to admire a kid who manages to stay strong while being put in some scary situations. I love how she pulled her tooth out to help Cosima.
Felix: Sorry, Cam Tucker, but Felix is my new fictional gay best friend. He's the kind that I manage to develop an unrequited crush on though. I just love how he tells it like it is and his friendship with Alison is my favorite relationship. I was laughing so much when Alison only wanted to talk to him during the intervention and he was all smug about it. And how he spiked Vic's drink. He's just plain awesome in every way.
Paul: He's another one I'm not sure about trusting. Especially now that he and Mrs. S are in cahoots. I love him and Sarah together though. He still wants her even though it's probably not going to happen for him at this point.
Art Bell: At first I didn't trust him, but he's really one of the good guys.
Angie: I don't like her at all. Especially since she was working with Vic to get the dirt on Alison. There's nothing redeemable about her personality at all.
Cal: I like his role in the show, how he's Kira's dad and is also trying to help Sarah. I like how he hacked DYAD's website.
Donnie: I didn't like him at all for quite some time, but after he killed Dr. Leekie and threatened Vic, I appreciated him so much more. The scene where he shoots Dr. Leekie is incredible. You know that he wants to do it anyway, but it ends up being an accident. And suddenly he has this new bad-ass side. Given that he's Alison's husband, he'd also be great on Desperate Housewives.
Dr. Aldous Leekie: I knew he was bad news the first time I saw him at the Neolution seminar. He tries to act like a good guy, but he really isn't. And when you find out what evil he was capable in the past, it makes what Donnie did to him that much better. Fun trivia fact: Matt Frewer, who played Dr. Leekie, was Max Headroom back in the 80s.
Delphine Cormier: I was worried that she couldn't be trusted, but she is also too trusting herself and manages to get pulled into two different directions as a result. I know she truly loves Cosima and regrets anything she did to mess up their relationship at any point in time. Also, I love her accent.
Scott: He seemed to be on the sidelines for a while, but I like how he got pulled into the fold and what he did to help Sarah in the season two finale.
Ethan: I wasn't expecting to meet him at all, but I'm glad he was found and that there was some explanation behind everything that was happening. I am annoyed that he chose to end his life so that he couldn't help Rachel anymore, but glad that he left all his notes for Cosima to find. I hope this will help her get better.
Henrik: There is nothing to like about him at all whatsoever. He's abusive and self-serving. I'm disgusted by what he did to Gracie, especially. I'm so glad Helena got revenge on him before either she (or possibly Gracie) did away with him for good.
Gracie: She's really ballsy...I have to give her credit for that. Of course, with parents like hers, she has to be. Not only is Henrik awful, but her mother is so mean too. And it seems like she was lied to since she was under the impression that if she brought Helena back, she wouldn't have to carry the babies herself.
Mark: While he comes off as super creepy and evil, at least when it's involving anything to do with the clones, I liked how he became a softie for Gracie. However, I don't know that I want him to be cloned. Obviously, I don't have a choice in that matter. I thought one of him was bad enough. The clone in Marian's house was even creepier!
Daniel: Another person with no redeemable qualities. I'm SO glad Helena did away with him.
Aynsley: She was the epitome of a villainous character from Desperate Housewives. Even though she was nosy, obnoxious, and bossy, I don't know that she deserved to die. I love that Alison slept with her husband, but I wish the insanity had stopped there. Although calling her out on all her shenanigans at the intervention was a nice touch too.
Sarah Stubbs: She was nice, but I almost felt like she smothered Alison a bit. I had to wonder what would have happened if she found out Alison's secret.
Marian Bowles: Her role in the cloning experiments is interesting. Especially since she's the mother of a younger version of Sarah, et. al. She seems nice enough, but it sounds like she has a hidden agenda too. I'm glad she was working against Dr. Leekie, instead of with him, though.
Vic: While I kind of feel sorry for him with all the bad stuff that kept happening (getting his finger cut off, getting his hand nailed to a table, the glitter incident, etc.), I also was glad when Donnie threatened him. I'm hoping he'll leave everyone alone from now on. He seemed like a comic relief for the show, even when he was being all scary.

*Crazy side note...when we were watching the episode with Alison's potluck party, there was a part where Vic was about to shoot Paul. Just as he raised his shotgun and pointed it, there was a huge clap of thunder and our power went out. Talk about freaky timing!

*My thoughts on the last moments of the season two finale: Well played. I did not see that coming at all. However, I think it would have been better if Felix had been cloned instead. It would have been cool if he was also a clone all along and didn't even know it. Besides, maybe a few straight versions of Felix would be available, even though I probably wouldn't enjoy their fashion choices as much. ;) (Actually, Jordan Gavaris doesn't look like Felix when he's not on screen. Still cute though....)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not to overreact or anything....

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about a year now, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week Darwin Shrugged chose the topic: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

It's hard not to immediately think of Kelly Clarkson when I hear this phrase. While I was considering taking a humorous angle to discuss what it's like to have a three year-old and all the mood swings that go along with it (both hers and mine), I realized that wasn't what is really "killing" me these days. In fact, she's one of the bright spots in my day and all she has to do is talk! No, this is something a bit heavier, so brace yourselves.

This has been, perhaps, the longest summer of my life. And I spend most of it the same way I spend the rest of the year....working. So it's not like I'm spending endless days at home. It's mainly to do with the war that is going on in the Middle East. You'd think it wouldn't affect me as an American, but it affects me a lot as I support Israel. I may have mentioned it before, but I was there in 2002 for Birthright. It was an amazing experience that shaped who I am as a Jew nowadays. Oddly enough, even with bad Middle Eastern relations going on even back then, I felt safer than I did on the "L" in Chicago. Then again, I was on a bus with an Israeli army soldier during most of the trip. And we avoided areas that could possibly come under attack.

Where am I going with this, you might ask? Well, every time I hear something bad said about Israel, I feel personally attacked. Every time I hear about anti-semitic things happening either in the US or overseas, it eats at me like a parasite. And when I hear about acts of anti-semitism in my own neighborhood, I feel like another year has been taken off my life. I'm surprised my hair hasn't completely turned gray from all this stress and anxiety. I recently posted something about all the anti-semitism going on and someone commented about how we're over-reacting as a whole and that it's really minor in comparison to the Holocaust. While I understand what she's getting at, things might be different where she lives vs. where I live. Pardon me for taking it seriously, but if we laugh this off and ignore that it's happening, we're not doing ourselves any favors. Another friend posted that we should have trained armed guards at all the shuls, even though I still think having police presence nearby would be enough. That's still better than someone standing around with an instant door locking mechanism on a string.

After hearing about a woman in our neighborhood being told to "go back to Auschwitz," I'm sometimes afraid to leave my house. This is especially the case on Shabbos when we're all walking to shul. We're out in the open and can't just get in our cars to escape potential danger and threats. I warned my husband about this the other day and he then made fun of me for worrying. I had to show him the post about the woman who was yelled at in order for him to believe that this is all really happening.  A few weeks ago there was a fire alarm at our shul and I was convinced it was part of some terrorist plot. I couldn't find my husband and older son anywhere and I thought they'd be the first to head to the playground. I felt so anxious until I found them. Hearing the alarm go off (and subsequently the sirens from the fire trucks) made me think of what people in Israel are dealing with constantly on a daily basis and how they have less time to get to a bomb shelter than we do to get out of a building. I'd be a complete goner if I had to hear sirens all the time and rush to safety with only seconds to spare, if that.

This has gotten to my head so much that I won't answer the door unless I'm expecting someone. The other day, the exterminator came over to do our routine bug spraying around the house and he rang the bell first. I wasn't expecting him and didn't answer it. I didn't recognize the car when I looked out the window, so he could have been anyone for all I knew. I'm even wary about going to Kosher stores and restaurants right now. If a non-Kosher restaurant owner who displayed an Israeli flag is receiving death threats, how soon will these crazy anti-semites go after Kosher restaurants and potentially their customers. I know this is probably what they want...for such places to lose business. However, I'm not ready to put my life on the line until I know there's no threat to the safety of my family and myself. Maybe I'm letting my imagination get the best of me, but it's hard to trust that we're safe at all these days.

While social media is a blessing in a way (we're using it to spread the truth in the wake of such blatant lies being told in the regular media), it's also a curse because all I see these days are posts and articles and videos about what is happening in Israel and how the rest of the world is reacting, including in the US. I hear about Rabbis being murdered, swastikas painted on cars and shuls, anti-Israel rallies, Islamization of America, political rants, etc. It gets to be too much. Yes, I do take part in sharing this stuff too, but I read and watch what I share first. If it sounds too far-fetched, I don't share it. I recently read a quote in a novel that summed up this social media aggravation quite well...almost like it was a harbinger.

"Thanks to modern technology, folks who aren't qualified to make a decision about what's for dinner now have the ability to make snap judgments at a moment's notice, and what's worse, the ability to voice them without having to stand behind what they say. It gives a whole new meaning to the words 'witch hunt.'" (From The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich.)

I will admit that I've posted some articles because I liked what they said, before learning that some parts were contrived or re-written to suit today's situation (or that the wrong person was being quoted, for that matter). However, I didn't post such things to be hurtful as much as to put the truth out there (ironically enough).

While all of this is figuratively killing me, I don't know that any of what is going on is making me stronger. Less ignorant, perhaps. I feel like I get weaker and weaker as more hatred is displayed on my screen each day. Maybe this is making me more educated because I'm taking the time to read articles from reliable sources that explain what is going on. I also look for an acquaintance's AIPAC posts each day that have updates of what is happening in Israel. The one thing that does keep give me strength is knowing that we're all in this together as Jews. We're all using social media to warn each other about potential threats. We're all looking after each other in the US and our family and friends in Israel. I've even received some wonderful support from my non-Jewish friends and that also strengthens me because I realize that there are still good people around us. Seeing how many people have access to the truth is encouraging, but I hope I can persuade everyone to pass along the pieces of truth I am sharing so that as many people as possible could see it. The more who know what is really happening, the better the chances of this stopping once and for all. We didn't have the advantages of social media 70 years ago, which is why people are in denial that the Holocaust actually happened, even with the concrete proof right in front of their faces. The more we can spread the truth about what happened then and what is still happening now, the sooner we can say "never again" for good.

This article sums up a lot of what I'm feeling and thinking, as well. I encourage you to read it and ask questions. May this be the first article you pass along to your social circles. Most importantly, do your research before believing what the news media  is spouting forth. Thank you, if you've stuck with me this whole time (by either reading this article or by being supportive).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mints on the pillows

Our blog project group has once again changed by one member, but I'm still calling it Blog Project 3.0. The newest member is Darwin Shrugged, a friend of Froggie's. I recently got to know her better through "52 Stories" and I look forward to what she has to say on the upcoming topics.

This week Froggie chose the topic: Family

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

I've talked about my immediate family and relatives in various blog posts throughout the years. You can find them all here.

This time around, I've decided to talk about two very special family members. They're my in-laws and to keep things from being confusing, I'm just going to refer to them as Bubbe and Zadie here, since that's what my kids call them and what they even call each other around us.

I first met Bubbe when my husband and I had been dating for a few months and he was moving into an apartment in Skokie. She came to town to help with the move. Since my husband and I were already quite serious by then (and this is only two months or so into the relationship), I spent a lot of time with him and his mom that weekend. We did Shabbos together at his new apartment and sat around talking for quite a long time. She was very easy to get along with and I felt instantly comfortable in her presence. I'm sure I had my nervous moments, but things went well overall. Later that year, we came to visit her for Sukkot. My parents and brother-in-law also joined us for Shabbos dinner that weekend. It was such a warm and enjoyable experience that it led us to want to host Shabbos meals for our friends. (I also need to mention that she's an amazing cook, so I know where my husband gets it from.) One of my favorite compliments was from her friend's daughter, who told me that our Shabbos meal reminded her of Bubbe's.

I consider myself very fortunate to have a mother-in-law with whom I get along so well. You always hear those stories about women who have terrible relationships with their mother-in-laws (I'm sorry to hear it if you're in this category) and I am very thankful that mine is so great. We always have a lot to talk about whenever we're together and even find ourselves joking around. I admire her and even look to her for advice when I feel she could put something into perspective for me. And I'll always have her to thank for raising my husband to be such a kind and loving person to both me and our kids.

Zadie came into our family shortly after we got married. Bubbe met him that fall and brought him to meet us during Thanksgiving weekend. I think most of that weekend was a blur, but I remember that we all went to see De-Lovely and that we all enjoyed it. I think I even gave him the soundtrack sometime after that. He was there for the Shabbos weekends we spent at Bubbe's house within the next year, leading up to our older son's birth. I remember us all going out one night after Shabbos and how cute and youthful Bubbe and Zadie were around each other. It was fun to watch. I will admit that it took me a while to warm to Zadie overall, and I felt bad not letting Bubbe bring him out for our older son's bris. However, he was still relatively new in our lives and I was such an emotional and tired mess around that time. Plus, we didn't have a lot of space in our townhouse and I wanted to focus on just having immediate family stay over. They got to meet a few months later and he has prominently featured as Zadie in our son's life ever since. With the next two children, he was instantly involved and he even got to participate in our younger son's bris and was there to hear our daughter's name announced for the first time at shul. When our younger son was born, Bubbe and Zadie lived a lot closer because we were in NJ and they were in NYC. However, when our daughter was born, they came down to Maryland a few days later to spend that first Shabbos with us. (Side note: Bubbe and Zadie used to be called Safta and Sabba, but it got confusing for our nieces and nephews since they call my sister-in-law's parents Safta and Sabba. Bubbe and Zadie fit their personalities better anyway.)

Ever since our move to Maryland, I feel that my relationship with Zadie has flourished and become even more solid. We get along so well these days. (I wasn't always that happy living in NJ and I think that affected how I connected with people.) I make it a point to cook his favorite foods, such as garlic mashed potatoes, as well as have lots of sparkling peach grape juice on hand when he and Bubbe come to visit. I even try to find him the perfect gifts for birthdays and holidays, whenever possible. We like a lot of the same music and TV shows. And we also have some inside jokes (usually ones shared with Bubbe, as well). He's very supportive and encouraging when it comes to my blog or any other writing I do and doesn't hesitate to make that known.

Whenever Bubbe and Zadie visit for Shabbos, they do the prayer over a daughter for me. It's very meaningful and special. We also have a pre-Shabbos call every Friday (except when they're out of the country) and I make sure the kids get to chat with them too. (Sometimes my younger son hogs the phone for a while.) I like that were all at the same level of observancy. It's nice to share an immediate understanding of everything, but also to not feel pressured to do more than we're comfortable with. We have the annual ritual of spending Passover together and only Zadie knows how to cut the apples for charoset so perfectly. And on a secular level, we spend Thanksgiving together every year.

I recently went to visit them when I was in NYC for Book Expo America (BEA). I spent the first night at their condo and we went to dinner together. It felt like going to dinner with close friends, as we had so much to talk and laugh about. It was a memorable and enjoyable evening. I even sent them texts the next day so they could see all the celebrities at BEA. They came here a week later for Shabbos and I put mints on their pillows because they had joked about not having mints to put on my pillow when I visited. That's the fun side of our relationship.

I hope they'll be ready to move out this way at some point in time. Now that I've seen their lifestyle in NYC, I can understand why they'd be hesitant to leave it. I also know how much they enjoy spending Shabbos in our neighborhood and that they get along so well with our friends. I know that when they decide to move here, it will have to be on their terms, but I definitely look forward to welcoming them into our community and having Shabbos together more often. In the meantime, my older son isn't going to leave us alone until we go visit Bubbe and Zadie in NYC....

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm not Katy Perry, but still....

Our blog project group has once again changed by one member, but I'm still calling it Blog Project 3.0. The newest member is Darwin Shrugged, a friend of Froggie's. I recently got to know her better through "52 Stories" and I look forward to what she has to say on the upcoming topics.

This week I chose the topic: Girl crushes

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

Over the past few years, I've heard the term "girl crush" going around the Internet. It sparked my interest and validated what I've felt towards certain girls both in real life and on screen. According to Urban Dictionary, a girl crush is defined as "feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl. a nonsexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level." Where was this term 20 years ago?!?

I'm not sure how far back I can trace my girl crushes. Maybe they stemmed from some friendships I had with girls I admired a lot. I do remember being more clingy with female friends but sometimes it was because I didn't have all that many friends to begin with. I don't want to pinpoint specific female friends as to not make them uncomfortable (or give them an inflated ego). All I know is that I've never been attracted to girls in the physical sense, but having girl crushes in the past, with no specific label attached to them, made me wonder if I was bi-curious. I heard that label going around in college and at "Rocky Horror." However, even if I thought another girl was attractive, fabulous, or just plain fun to hang around with, I couldn't fathom the idea of doing anything physical with them. I can't even bring myself to kiss a girl.

I remember the first time I applied the bi-curious label to myself. It was during the summer I turned 20 and there was a girl who would go to "Rocky Horror" every weekend. She had that 90s grunge music look to her and was really pretty and charismatic. I basked in the glow of her attention and even tried to hang out with her during the week. The one time we made plans, two other people ended up tagging along, as well, so I didn't really get a chance to talk with her all that much. After the theater closed down (or switched management), I lost touch with her. I still have this picture she gave me where she put a cut-out of David Duchovny's head on her prom date.

Anyway, I still manage to have girl crushes on women in real life. Again, I won't name names or give descriptions. I usually tend to devote more attention to them and become giddy from any attention they give me in return. This is probably coming from the part of me that still wants acceptance from friends that may seem "out of my league." Still, if I think a girl I'm friends with is really wonderful, I won't hesitate to make it known to her, either verbally or through actions.

As far as celebrities go, I have a few girl crushes that I don't mind sharing here. I've always had an admiration for girls in all realms of pop culture. You could even say I girl-crushed on the characters from The Babysitters Club. If the term had been around when I was a kid, it would have totally reflected my love for Madonna. I was obsessed for quite some time.

When I was a sophomore in college, I was all about Natalie Merchant. I'd listen to her "Tigerlily" album countless times and even went to see her in concert. I bought a T-shirt at that time and would wear it often. I also got a 10,000 Maniacs Unplugged CD shortly after the concert and listened to that non-stop, as well. She was (and still is) beautiful with a soothing voice. What's there not to love?

A lot of my girl crushes these days tend to be on TV actresses. The most obvious these days is Mindy Kaling. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way! She's so funny and is such a great writer. As far as acting goes, I don't know how much she's being herself vs. being Mindy Lahiri. I feel like she blends the two personalities together. I can just imagine having a blast hanging out with her. She seems so down-to-earth compared to all the attention divas out there.

Then there are the women from How I Met Your Mother. Cobie Smulders (Robin) is definitely girl crush worthy. I think because she was unknown before this show, she owned her role and really made a name for herself. I love when a book character will remind me of her and I'll easily cast her in that role when I'm playing it out in my head (the latest was Shea in The One and Only by Emily Giffin). And then the game changed with season nine and the introduction of "The Mother." Since I worry about spoiling this show for anyone who hasn't seen it yet and wants a chance to binge watch, I won't name the actress. However, you just need to know that she's adorable, funny, and perfect for Ted in every way. She can also sing really well! I wish they would have just focused on her the entire season instead of anything else. She totally breathed life into a series that had done some shark jumping (especially during parts of the ninth season).

Currently, I'm obsessed with Orphan Black. I don't know how Tatiana Maslany got snubbed for an Emmy nomination (let alone five or six of them for all the roles she single-handedly plays). Even before I started watching Orphan Black, I had seen her in magazine articles and felt instantly connected to her. I wanted to know more about her. And now that I'm almost done with season two, I am even more impressed with her acting talent. She makes it look so effortless.

While you know how much I love Orange is the New Black, I didn't really crush on any of the characters from that show. Not even Piper or Alex (even though I think almost everyone crushes on the latter). However, I thought Lauren Lapkus (who plays Susan, one of the security guards) was adorable and I would have loved to hang out with her in real life.

As far as movies go, Rose Byrne and Emily Blunt definitely rank up there as girl crushes. Maybe it's just the accent that does it for me? However, they both seem very much put-together and they're fun to watch on screen. I look forward to seeing Rose in Neighbors and Emily in Into the Woods.

There's one group of women I have not mentioned yet, and that is all my author (girl) crushes. If I listed them, this post would go on and on. I definitely admire an author who writes such a great book that I can't stop raving about it. And if I continuously promote an author's book(s) aside from anything at my blog, they'll know they've made it onto my author crush list!  I was thrilled to meet some of my chick lit author crushes at BEA and Book Buzz this past spring. Outside of chick lit, it's definitely Jodi Picoult, whose books I've been enjoying for over 10 years and who was so incredible in person that she just further validated my crush. And her hair is just...wow! I could only wish to have such perfect curls!

If you're female and reading this post, I'd love to hear about your girl crushes! Don't be shy. We're all friends here!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I just can't "deal"

Our blog project group has once again changed by one member, but I'm still calling it Blog Project 3.0. The newest member is Darwin Shrugged, a friend of Froggie's. I recently got to know her better through "52 Stories" and I look forward to what she has to say on the upcoming topics.

This week Moma Rock chose the topic: What are some of your deal breakers when it comes to relationships/friendships/etc?

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

Moma Rock got her idea from an article I posted a few weeks ago about movies that are deal breakers in relationships, either because the offending party likes what the other thinks is a horrible movie or they don't like the other's favorite movie of all time. It reminded me of an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted's girlfriend at the time had never seen Star Wars. He made her watch episode IV and then she lied to him about liking it but told Marshall she really hated it, complete with a perfect Chewbacca impression. It also reminds me of how a friend of mine was after me for years to watch Somewhere in Time and then I finally watched it and didn't get why she thought it was so great. However, she doesn't get what's so wonderful about The Princess Bride, so we're on even footing now. The article actually starts off by talking about a couple who got divorced because the husband didn't like Frozen. It makes me glad that my husband and I both agree on not liking that movie. And I was validated this past week when another friend told me she didn't like it either and even laughed at my comparison of Olaf to Jar Jar Binks.

In general, one's taste in movies, TV shows, music, or books is not a deal breaker to me. I respect that we all have different tastes. My husband and I even went into our relationship knowing that I didn't find Blazing Saddles to be all that funny and he felt lukewarm toward Moving Violations. However, we both think UHF and Airplane! are hilarious! We also agree that The Future was probably the most ridiculous movie ever, we shut off Anchorman 2 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop early on, and we laughed until we were crying and still joke about Movie 43. And get this...he doesn't like Rent. That's okay though because I don't like playing strategy games. As far as TV goes, his love for Game of Thrones balances out my love for The Mindy Project. Yet, we also have a lot of shows we enjoy watching together, the most recent being Orphan Black.

In regards to dating deal breakers, prior to meeting my husband, I had a hang-up about voices. I love my husband's voice, but his friend who set us up had to embarrass me about this hang-up. He called him back after leaving the first message so I could hear his voice. Then he left a message saying I wanted to hear what his voice sounded like. I'm just glad that didn't faze him! This issue with voices had to do with my single days, when I'd sometimes talk on the phone to guys I met online. There were two guys that had weird voices. I'm talking extremely weird here. Like one guy sounded like a cross between Grover and Fozzie Bear. He'd also say "okay" weird. ("Oh-kah.")  Then this other guy was probably 30 and sounded like he was 10. It creeped me out. When I e-mailed him after the call to say I wasn't interested, he came back with "I couldn't understand you on the phone anyway." I probably was being extra soft-spoken to sabotage the call after hearing his voice. Prior to that call, he had contacted me on a match site a few months earlier and when I saw on his profile that he was homophobic, I said it was a no-go. Homophobia is also a HUGE turn-off for me. The second time he contacted me, prior to the call, he said he would try to be more open-minded and was practically begging me to go out with him. I'm guessing most girls don't go for the 10 year-old boy voice either.

I think I am pretty lenient when it comes to friendships though. There are certain hot-button topics I will not bring up if I know they're going to cause a fight. Politics is at the top of my list. Especially with living close to DC. I just can't go there if I know it's going to rip a giant hole in my friendship. I will hide people from my newsfeed when they get all political. I just don't want to hear it, deal with it, get involved in a discussion that I know nothing about, etc. (It also bugs me when kids try to talk about politics when they have even less of an idea of what is going on.) In regards to homophobia, I have come to expect that the further to the right one is with their religious beliefs, they stand in a similar place when it comes to their feelings on homosexuality. I am not going to share my political or religious stance on the topic, but I have a lot of close gay and lesbian friends. So if you don't have anything nice to say on the topic, I don't want to hear it. Similar to politics, the topic of homosexuality is off limits if it's only going to lead to a fight. I don't post political stuff on social media because the last time I did to even a minor extent, it caused some fights and unfriending. I will "like" stuff that other people post and I agree with, but that's about it. The biggest and most ultimate deal breaker for a friendship would be if someone is anti-semitic. I know most of my friends are Jewish, but another majority of my friends are not. If anyone says anything anti-semitic to me, they can consider themselves blocked and unfriended on social media. I will not stand for that at all!

There's only one other deal breaker these days when it comes to friendships and that is related to people's kids. I can be pretty tolerant of other people's kids as long as they don't cause any problems with me (and by extension, my husband), my kids, or my home. I won't stand for rudeness, making huge messes and not cleaning them up, breaking things on purpose, going in rooms of the house that they're not allowed in (unless I've given permission in advance), and especially--most importantly--hurting my kids either physically or emotionally. The last item is the biggest deal breaker and if someone's child does that, regardless of how their parents handle it, they will have to stay home with a sitter or go to another friend's house if their parents want to come to my house. There is no excuse for it whatsoever. I have taught my kids how to treat other kids and if they ever cause such problems, they learn quickly to never let that happen again. A few years ago, I made my older son write and deliver an apology letter to a child he hit on accident once when he threw a toy. Has he done that since? You can bet he hasn't. It's one thing if the child is a toddler, but another if they're old enough to understand from good and bad behavior. I am extremely intolerant of anyone hurting my kids. I know I sound like a tough and protective mama bear, but if someone deliberately hurts my kids, you will see me grow devil horns and breathe out fire.

What are YOUR deal breakers when it comes to relationships and friendships?