Friday, June 29, 2007

The Marrow of Life

Today I read a letter from a woman who in her forties was just diagnosed with leukemia for the second time. She has twin four-year-old daughters, and only a bone marrow transplant will save her life.

About two months ago I was wide awake at 2 0'clock in the morning. A paid commercial came on about kids with Lymphoma and adults with various conditions who were in need of bone marrow. Watching the parents of these kids beg for help, inspired me to do a little research. I thought, "what if there was a cure tomorrow for Cystic Fibrosis, but the person holding onto it wouldn't give it to us? What would that feel like, so helpless, but with the cure right there?" So I logged onto the bone marrow website, with an altruistic desire (that can easily be mustered at 2 0'clock am), to help save a life.

It wasn't the pain that kept me from signing up. It was the $52.00 donation they ask from prospective donors to purchase the kit. We are so strapped, that $52.00 was enough to keep me from making the call. Sooo, I went to bed. By the morning, my altruism fizzled into breakfast dishes, calls to make, and a toddler to chase. The notecard with the toll free number found it's way under a big pile on my desk. I've often thought about those people who are still waiting, but not with that same sense of urgency and empathy.

I now have an opportunity to sign up (for free) to be a prospective donor. I know I have a lot on my plate. I know it's painful and that it is time consuming. And I know that there is some risk involved. But what if Froggy was waiting for a match? What excuse or pain would be big enough NOT to help.

If you would like to carpool with me Sunday (July 8th) at 9:30am to sign up, email me. A Jewish Temple is paying the $52.00, and helping with the paperwork. All they need is a cheek swab and a promise. Anyone?

If you'd like to read more about becoming a bone marrow donor, click

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Sideways" with a Toddler

Like Mother, like toddler.
Grandma in a wine glass.

Lovely Ojai.

Walden with wine included.
She's not drunk. I swear. This was pre-winery. She's just bored with all the shopping!
Okay, this looks bad. I can explain.

Me, Sissy, Froggy, FD, and Papa
Froggy LOVES her Papa.
Papa enjoying the countryside
The three Froggyteers!

My beautiful sister

The best way to ring in one's 30th birthday is with a few bottles of wine. Don't you think?

My parents and sister flew out for my big fat 30th!, and we had a wonderful week of chasing Froggy while shopping, chasing Froggy while eating, and chasing Froggy while drinking wine at a beautiful winery in Ojai. (Have I ever mentioned how someday we're going to move there, live in the mountains and have a goat named Bob?) It's true, it's my new dream.

It was a great and exhausting week. So here it is in super-Froggy-speed: Mom and Dad flew in on Wednesday, Sissy on Thursday. Dad rode his bike up the coast, mom chased Froggy around the neighborhood, and did a ton of dishes (yeah mom, even on vacation - is still a mom), we shopped in Santa Monica, my sis and I saw a movie ("Knocked Up" - hilarious), we ate a ton of Thai, Italian, Mexican, Indian, and even cooked a little, had a wonderful birthday dinner at Grandma W's, rented "The Devil Wears Prada" and "The Queen," Dad read Bill Bryson's "The Thunderbolt Kid", Mom cleaned my windows and did our laundry (yes, on vacation), Sissy and I giggled and slept in the same bed like we were 12 again. (Froggydadda got the sofa - poor guy). And Froggy LOVED having her Papa, Grandma and Auntarctica living with her for a week.

Our family left yesterday, and the house is so quiet, with the exception of a screaming, giggly toddler. Every once in a while, Froggy looks up at me while repeating their names, as if to say, "where'd they go?"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007



Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

Our good friend Herman died tonight at the age of 96. He was the most charming man I've ever met.

I loved Herman because he was geniusly funny, endearing, and made everyone around him feel lucky to be alive.

Herman could talk for hours about his beloved wife Annette (who died three years ago) and how she was the best thing that ever happened to him. They were married sixty-six years and tonight I know they are making up for lost time. I am so happy for them, and sad for us.

He was absolutely one of a kind. There will never be another Herman Brown.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Almost 30!

J and S came over and surprised me with a pre-30th-b-day cake.
Don't mock me cake! Now you must die.

My mommy sure is old.

Arm fat - and the joys of turning 30.

J and S - aren't they cute?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Froggydadda's Day

(a picture from February - but one of my favorites)

Froggydaddy was not a great student as a kid. And even in Jr. college, he struggled. As a creative soul, he trudged through math and science, and eventually believed that he just wasn't an "academic person."

When Froggy was in the hospital, we spent a lot of time with the respiratory therapists. Compared to some of the staff at Children's Hospital, these men and women had a wonderful bedside manner, spoke openly with us about CF - and genuinely cared about little Froggy. Above all, they seemed to enjoy their job, and the children who benefited from their care.

After those three weeks in the hospital, FD decided he would like to become a respiratory therapist, so Froggy would receive the best care possible, at home and at clinic. And if he worked at Children's Hospital, he would have inside knowledge regarding the best pulmonologists, therapists and new drugs in the pipeline. Did I mention he is a wonderful daddy?

This was such a courageous decision for him, because of the misery he felt in the "classroom". And I don't believe he actually believed he could do it until tonight. For the past year, FD has been taking prerequisite classes and intro-respiratory therapy classes. He aced his first semester. And this Spring, his pharmacology class was a challenge that really tested his self-esteem. Everyone in the class failed the first test. And the other students he spoke with had failed the class the first time, and if they failed a second time, they would not be accepted into the program... ever. He wanted to give up. But he didn't. After failing his first test, he was sure this just wasn't for him. But he stuck with it and got a B in the class!!! I have never seen anyone study so hard.

His gpa is 3.25! I am soooooooo proud of him. If you know Froggydaddy, you know he is a smart cookie, but he's never felt comfortable in the classroom. I, on the other hand, am most comfortable in the classroom, the obnoxious student raising her hand for every question. But FD, was the kid who sat in the back, making fart noises and teasing the girls he liked. I think for the first 12 years of his life, he was bored - too smart and creative for worksheets and multiplecation tables.

I found a card for FD that read, "It is never too late to be what you might have been" by George Eliot. FD will always be a creative soul, that is what attracted me to him. He sees life through a black and white lens and appreciates people and their problems on a different level. And he can be whomever he wants to be: a respiratory therapist photographer, a daddy, a husband, a son. He is a wonderful person and I'm so happy for his success. Sometimes we have to surprise ourselves to take the next step. And he definitely has. Every once in a while, he'll look at me and say, "I got a B!" And it's the best feeling in the world. My sweet husband who believed he couldn't be anything, can be anything he wants. And in a year from this Spring he will be a certified Respiratory Therapist! And I will be a proud Froggymama!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Dreams May Not Come

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

by Langston Hughes

I will never be a TV writer. It's why I chose LA over NY, why I left my home, why I moved 2000 miles away from everyone and everything I loved. And now, it's a raisin in the sun, saggin like a heavy load, about to explode.

It's hard to give up a dream. I feel like someone died and I missed the funeral. There was no moment to grieve, just the knowledge that this is gone and I will never get it back. The knowledge that I never really had it at all.

I moved here at 22, completely naive, and completely convinced that in six months I would have a staff position on everyone's favorite one-hour drama. It would be a show like "Picket Fences" or "Northern Exposure" a clever, but heartfelt drama, with witty repartee and stories that miraculously involve an entire town into one coincidental theme. In five years I would become show runner, executive producer, and eventually the VP of NBC's new dramatic series dept. It was a big dream, I know, but why dream small?

Beyond the ego and money, the title and promise, it was always about doing what I love to do, and getting paid to do it. I've worked hard. I've always worked hard. In four years, I received two degrees, did summer school, working 20/hours a week the entire way. And when I moved to LA, I didn't know a soul, which led to an unfortunate welcome. My crazy roommate that I acquired from a newspaper ad (yes, I'm that stupid) tried to kill me, my car and credit card numbers were stolen, and at an apartment in Hollywood, we were involved in a drive-by shooting, and barely missed being the target of a crack deal gone bad. But I didn't leave. Because the goal was still here. I was going to be a TV writer. I was going to have health insurance, a house, a parking pass onto the studio lots, my name in the credits. It was a good dream, a good little grape in the shade.

In the 'reality show', I became a wife, step-mom, froggymama of a wonderful baby and I've had five jobs and six apartments in seven years. I've had amazing experiences - falling in love and getting married, giving birth, watching my plays produced in NY, knowing and loving my LA family, dealing with the devastation of Cystic Fibrosis, struggling financially, hiking in the mountains and feeling completely small and satisfied, snorkeling with Garibaldi, going to the theatre, working job after job that had nothing to do with writing, flying home and feeling the guilt of leaving again, traveling to Europe and falling in love with the French countryside, and making friendships with people who prove that there is more kindness and love in this world, than not.

But this was not the dream that I imagined, driving a U-haul across the desert with my cat, picturing a writer's room with Chinese take-out on the table, and a note card outline of a story pinned up on a wall, that would one day become a picture, that tells a story, on a television screen in everyone's living room in everyone's home. And in this vision I imagined my family and friends, my boyfriend from high school who dumped me for that cute cheerleader, sitting in front of the television together, saying in unison, "wow, she really made something of herself."

But I will never be a TV writer. The hours are not long enough in the day to devote time to my dream and the dream of Froggy's health. I have to be here, I want to be here, I need to be here, with my girl. Her future and happiness, and the promise of a long, long, long life is my dream now. I'm still a writer, I still have to keep my pen close by, scribbling ideas that someday I will have time to write, but this dream, the one I dreamed for as long as I can remember, is dead.

Maybe life is really about the dream you never had the wisdom to imagine -the life you're meant to live, not the life you planned to live. Maybe this isn't a dream deferred, a raisin in the sun, a festering sore, or syrupy sweet. Maybe it took all of these horrible and beautiful experiences for me to realize that this dream was never mine to have.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Picturing the Future

FD is not only one of the best dads in the world, but he's also one of the best photographers. Saturday evening, a local restaurant and gallery hosted an opening for FD and his Dad's photography. For thirty years, Grandpa J has been a street photographer - capturing moments of real life and collecting peices of time that tell a story. And just like life, these moments aren't posed or edited, but raw, real and beautiful. FD learned the craft from his dad and together they teach classes at a local college, spreading the street photography gospel and recording a random history of life, people and events. (I wish I could post more of their pics, but they actually use film, remember film?, and I don't have a scanner - maybe someday soon.)

So Saturday night we celebrated their success with friends, family, and photography lovers. And Froggy entertained everyone with her twirling, flirting and saying "HIIIII" to everyone.

I wish I could have taken better pictures of the gallery, but we were all chasing a little toddler who thought the evening was all about her cute dress.

Cheers and Congratulations to FD and Grandpa J. And if you'd like to visit the gallery, email me and I'll give you the info.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Girl With Cystic Fibrosis on "The View"

I heard about this video at a CF Fundraiser Meeting. A little girl with CF went on the show "The View." Rosie O'Donnell's nephew Joey had the disease so she's a big supporter of CF research.

You might want to get out the kleenex. I know I sobbed.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I just want to laugh!

We've been renting depressing movies.

Little Children -a film about a child molester.

Babel - a film about how we are all tragically connected.

The Departed - a violent film about violence.

Dancer in the Dark - a musical noir about a blind single mom.

Half Nelson - a film about an inner-city teacher addicted to drugs.

Why are we renting depressing, but good movies? Because my Netflix account suggests these movies for me (based on my profile) and I believe them.

So last night I rented "You, Me and Dupree." I was looking for a laugh, something silly but funny. I also wanted to tease the Netflix gods a bit. But it was bad. Sooooo bad. Bad like "Talladega Nights" bad, bad like "Dickie Roberts Child Star" bad, "Spanglish" bad, "Gigli" bad, ohhhh so very bad. And yet, like a train wreck, I couldn't look away and wasted two hours of my life watching Matt Dillon go from "The Outsiders" to this.

Where are the great comedies? "Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally, Blazing Saddles."

I need a good laugh, a belly laugh, a real laugh. Any suggestions?

Funny Froggy

Look at those tired eyes!
Why, you might ask, is Froggy soaked? Because she likes to pull the lever on the water jug, stand there as it douses her, repeating "wet, wet, wet."

Peanut butter, peanut butter, I love me some peanut butter.

Yes, I'm eating it out of the jar. Daddy taught me this trick.
Mommy thinks it's disgusting.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bwess You

This picture was taken when Froggy was sick. Buddy was so protective and loving. He has to be in the room when we put her to bed at night. If he's outside the door, he cries and scratches.

Today, Buddy sneezed and Froggy said, "Bwess You."
I think Buddy and Froggy are soulmates. They love eachother so.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Our Girls

It was a chilly day at the beach, but with some sisterly love, kettlecorn and a good walk, we didn't need no stinkin' hats - so said Froggy who threw her's off every chance she got.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Pony Von's

Ya know the really great thing about a 21 month old? They don't care if you actually put quarters in the grocery store mechanical pony. They're totally okay with the eerily still version, while others walk by thinking, "how cheap can you be?"

Grandma W. and I spent the day together with Froggy shopping, and by shopping, I mean

chasing a toddler down city streets while she picked up every stick, stone, and leaf, petted every dog, said hello to all passer-bys, stuck her finger into every anomaly in the sidewalk, climbed stairs, knocked on doors, patted a tree, licked a window, ran into a toy store and pulled stuffed animals off the shelves, made monkey noises at strangers, and refused to sit in her stroller for more than 3 seconds at a time.

Wendy and I ate gellato, while Froggy munched on Cheerios (and she is the one on a high fat diet!), and on our trip to the grocery store, Froggy rode, or rather sat on her first plastic pony. We didn't have any quarters, and she doesn't know that the ponies actually move, so until she figures it out, mommy will just have more for the slot machines. I'm kidding.

It was a nice day. FD had to work tonight, so he didn't join us, but he was able to go for a bike ride up the coast, so he was happy too. I needed a day like today. No crisis, no pharmaceutical nighmares, just ice cream and a pony who no matter what, can't buck you off.