Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fan Club Friday - Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have)

I just finished Sarah Mlynowski's newest book Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) and really enjoyed it. Seriously, go get this book. It's such a fun read. I found myself laughing out loud, as well as emitting a chuckle or two in public places such as the subway and audition waiting rooms. And what I love about her stories is that, as usual, I also found myself tear up a little bit here and there.

The novel follows April, a girl who's still reeling from her parents' divorce, her mom's move to France, and her dad's recent bright idea to move from Westport, CT to Cleveland, OH. April has already stayed behind in her hometown once when her mother and brother moved away (and no matter what she claims, she stayed for a boy, let's be honest); and if she gave up Paris, she's certainly not moving to Cleveland. That's when she and her friend Vi hatch a plot to live together sans parental supervision... also when they begin their ten things that they did and probably shouldn't have.

One thing I really loved about this novel were the subtitles throughout. Besides beginning each chapter with something they shouldn't have done (i.e. "Buying a Hot Tub" or "Harboring a Fugitive"), Mlynowski handled flashbacks brilliantly with clever quips. For example, April is talking about how she would never leave her cat behind when she segues into the flashback of her mother moving away and doing just that... except that the segue is labeled "My Mom Went To Cancun And All I Got Was A French Stepfather." Still other times, Mlynowski makes the reader laugh out loud by adding a subtitle for no real reason other than comedy. For example, at the end of one scene, April's dad threatens to call the police if she doesn't answer or promptly return his phone calls, so she makes his ringtone a police siren. The next subtitle is "Why I Made My Dad's Ringtone A Police Siren" and then the entire scene below that is "See above." I just find clever moments like these to be nice surprises during a good read.

Besides all that, the characters feel real (Vi - piece of work; Hudson - swoon, work of art; etc.) and the obstacles they face are engaging while not far-fetched. This seems exactly like what would happen if two high school girls got to live in a house unsupervised - fun! with plenty of "oops" moments. I was definitely along for the ride the whole time.

Anyway, Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) gets a gold star, folks. I'm a fan, Knox is a fan, and you should be, too. Check it.

Sarah, me, & Knox at her pub party
Knox, the genius reader

Throwback Thursday - Wardrobe Woes

I booked a commercial for Maaco and it shoots tomorrow and Tuesday in Philly. This is great news, right? I mean, I was pretty stoked. It pays okay and we could definitely use the cash (even though the agent gets 10% and the babysitter gets a cut, too). There will inevitably be a make-up artist and hairstylist, and that part, I always really look forward to. There will also be a stylist... and this is where my day started to go a tad south.

You see, on every shoot, we actors are expected to bring wardrobe along. Yes, even though the client hires a stylist, we are also supposed to schlep a bag of stuff to the shoot in the event that the things we own are cuter or look nicer than the brand new things the stylist brings. That never happens. At the beginning of my career, I enthusiastically brought a small suitcase full of clothing items, shoes, and jewelry; but now that I'm a bit more seasoned, I know better. Because I'm not a fashionista, I hardly ever go shopping, I wear the clothes I buy for years, and my stuff is never, ever, ever chosen over the stylist's items. I mean, come on! It's her job! I'm supposed to say my lines and smile into the camera, but I should not (for the sake of the commercial) be in charge of my own wardrobe.

I wish I were more fashionable, wish I had more money to spend on clothes or more closet space to store them, but alas, it just isn't so.

So I just got off the phone with the stylist for this Maaco shoot and she's really nice. She even told me not to apologize for my (sorry) wardrobe! But the reason I'm now having a not-as-good-as-before-her-phone-call day is because she needed me to bring along tailored slacks, skirts, and dresses. When I told her I wasn't quite back into all of my clothes yet due to the squealing baby she could hear in the background, she told me that was fine. She just needed to know what items fit, in what size, from what store so that she could shop for me. That's when we got off the phone and I had to try on most of the contents of my closet before calling her back to say, "I'm a 4 in Old Navy and Gap, but a 6 or 8 in H&M, and stretchy fabrics are my friends, etc."

And hey! Those are respectable sizes! I'm not complaining. For a girl who just had a baby, does not exercise, and eats chocolate and drinks Coca Cola every day, I look pretty good and have zero right to complain. But I still feel a little bummed. 

And it's not entirely about not fitting back into the huge pile of clothes on my bed. It's also about being in a new chapter of life. It's about looking at the state of my wardrobe and realizing that it's no longer divided into: casual, bar/club, school, work-out, business, wedding/church, etc. Now it's: audition, maternity, and a bunch of clothes that don't fit my body or my lifestyle.

It's like I grew up. And it's time that my wardrobe grows up, too. Do I really want to be that Real Housewife that drops her kids off at school in mini skirts and slogan tees? And the worse part is that even though I know that my wardrobe needs an update, I know it won't happen overnight. So until then, friends, you'll have to continue to see me in the same clothes all the time... and stylists on shoots will continue to have to work harder when given talent like me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Word Up Wednesday - Whoa

So I know it's Wednesday, but I don't have a great "word" for today. What I do have - and always seem to have - is another story about my baby.

Obviously since Knox is not even 11 months old yet, he doesn't say a lot. What he does (and exceptionally well, I might add) is squeal with glee, grunt and roar, and grind his eight teeth (yes, I said eight). Since he's so young, it's amazing to me when he does speak... or rather, when he puts his random sounds together and they form an English word. A word like "Whoa."

Knox has been saying whoa since he was about eight months old and, being the comedic genius that he is, his timing is always pretty hilarious. You should see the looks we get when we stroll down the city sidewalks, not necessarily fast or reckless, and Knox yells, "Whoa! Whoaaaa! Whoa-oa-oa-oooa!" You would think he was on a roller coaster ride or something. But the kicker is that passersby look at me - at me! - with judgment as if, "That woman really needs to be more careful with her baby."

He also likes to break it out on the elevator, squealing with glee as the doors close and the floors light up, but then saying, "Whoa," when the doors open or when someone gets on. And on the subway, he bursts folks' personal space bubbles all the time. Either I am too slow to stop him or the people engage him, but either way, he is often found pointing his little index finger at them until he touches their hair, arm, or face. Then he looks up at their faces and says, "Whoa."

But the best time I've heard him break out his catch phrase was at church a couple of months ago. Pastor Mark was talking about asking God for the desires or our hearts, but being 100% sure that we really want what we ask for. His example was patience. He said that when we ask God for patience, He won't just suddenly grant us patience, but will grant us with opportunities to be patient (i.e. put annoying people or circumstances in our lives). It was a pretty deep thought, which is why so many fellow church members around us giggled when 9 month old Knox said, "Whoa."

Anyway, when it's all said and done, there are other sounds he could be putting together with way worse meanings, so we embrace the Whoa. For example, Knox has recently been using that mouthful of teeth to "shhhhhhh" while also clicking his tongue to his teeth making a crisp "t" sound - - Whoa.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Momma Mondays - A Regular Guy

First let me start by saying that every time I try to write a quick blog post, my 10.5 month old ends up scooting over and getting trapped under the desk. For example, at the present, he is already poking my toes with his index finger, the little E.T. in training that he is.

Second, brace yourself for this post. If you're not a parent, you may not want to read ahead. And even if you are, you may find the subject a little hard. I have to tell you that this little whippersnapper still has the worst constipation known to man. Yeah, I went there. I'm sorry, but listen, it's been 3 months now and we're starting to get worried. He associates going to the bathroom with pain, so we see him trying his hardest to hold it in. When I see that red face and hear that grunting, I swoop in and rip off his diaper faster than you can say, "Is this blog post going to get graphic?" (it's not, btw)

People say, "Wow, he's already potty trained? That's amazing!

Well, yeah, since he's been 8.5 months, he's gone number two on the toilet. (He even has his own little seat.) But it's not a good thing. He is in no way potty trained. I think to be potty trained, children are supposed to let you know when they have to go and you help them go on the potty. In this case, he tries stealthily to hold it in, wiggling around so that the floor and diaper help push it in; but I intervene and force him to sit on the pot and rub his tummy so he can't fight it. He cries and holds onto my neck, pushing those little fingers into my skin, and bounces up and down. He wants to withhold, but gravity wins. It's awful. I hate it for him. (Also, I don't exactly have the best seat in the house for these movements, considering where one's face ends up in a poo-time hug.)

The poor guy empties his entire intestines and then doesn't go again for five days. The last time he dropped a hard-as-a-rock load, his papaw said in amazement, "Man! Looks like the boy lost a few pounds."

There are a few reasons I'm sharing. One, we've been to the pediatrician four times and they keep telling us to give him more fiber. Knox gets a spoonful of Benefiber, a bottle of prune juice and water, homemade veggies, organic baby food (fruits and veggies only), and breastmilk every single day. His system refuses to react to such remedies as Karo syrup or suppositories anymore. (It's almost as if he's built up an immunity to these things now.) The only thing that makes him go is an enema, which was a last resort we finally took after 2.5 months of watching him suffer and trying everything else.

Which leads me to the second reason I'm sharing: If you're a parent out there that's struggling with this same issue, you're not alone. And if you have struggled and have answers, please feel free to share them with me. But please don't be like the model who saw/heard Knox going in the stall the other day after my audition. He was crying, had snot running down his nose, belly hurting and mood foul. My heart was breaking for him. It was the craziest poo I'd ever seen - like twice an adult's in length - and this skinny blond twenty-something said quite judgmentally, "Why don't you give him prunes?" (Because, you know, I'm such an idiot and such a bad person that I relish the current state of affairs, love watching my son suffer, and wouldn't have thought of prunes.)

(side note - Incredibly, Knox just interrupted my writing by scooting under my desk and letting out a strong shout. Seriously? He just made a poo in his diaper and it was too painful to sit on, therefore interrupting his playing. I changed him and took a pic, but won't post it here. Let's just say... baseball.)

And now I tell you, this is why we have an appointment with a gastroenterologist this afternoon. Although I am uplifted by the fact that his bowels moved without my assistance just now, he still doesn't fill his britches with soft squishy baby poo, and that's a problem. Please pray for little Knox and hope that we get some answers today. We hope it's nothing serious, but while we're happy to see our son thrive in unique ways, this is one area of his life where we wish he were a regular guy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fan Club Friday - Dynamite

Every now and then, a song hits the charts that you can't get out of your head. Back in the day, these were the songs that inspired me to jump up on stage or shake my booty extralicious (oh! new word!). Nowadays, these are the songs that I blare in my car and dance to at home, switching lanes on the BQE with spunk or bouncing around the house with the perfect mixture of percolation and personality. There are songs that move you and songs that you move to, and Dynamite by Taio Cruz falls into the latter category.

Click here to see the video on YouTube.

Now, once in a lifetime does one of your favorite songs find itself married to an unforgettable music video spotlighting your favorite team. Recently that's what happened to me when the University of Kentucky did a music video of sorts to this song incorporating athletes from every. single. sporting. team at the school. Over 200 athletes participated and the most incredible part is that they did it in ONE TAKE! One take people!

Professors could take note when trying to get their students to focus. These director/producers were able to convince over 200 student athletes into donating their sparse spare time to a video for the Catsby Awards that wouldn't serve them in any way but to show their friends/family. This wasn't for credit or mandatory by their coaches. It was just something they participated in for school pride/spirit and if you ask me, it's pretty doggone cool. Made me miss college... and my youth a little bit, too.

So Go Wildcats!

"I wanna celebrate and live my life!" This rules. I especially love the mascot doing the Dougie and the National Champion Rifle team showing off their trophy.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Throwback Thursdays - DuckTales

Yesterday I had an audition for a vlog gig and as usual, Knox tagged along. Secure in his stroller, we filed into the small lobby of the building where the casting was being held only to be met with a long line of folks also waiting for the elevator. Apparently they'd been waiting for a while because I overheard someone up front mention that he works in the building and that the elevators were both old and slow. It being 90 degrees outside, I was covered in sweat and hoping to freshen up some in the bathroom upstairs before the casting; but if the elevators took too long, I wouldn't have time... meaning I would have to waltz into the casting with pit stains and smeared makeup.

Once it finally arrived, the guy in front of us turned around and said, "It's so hot and you've got a baby. Go ahead of me. I'll catch the next one."

It was such a sweet gesture. He looked to be in his 20s, handsome without trying, and reminded me a little of a chivalrous Kentucky boy. I thought, "He'd be great for my sister."

Ended up that after we strolled into the car with the other passengers, there was still room and he was able to hitch a ride up with us after all. That's when he said that it was so hot out, he wished that the elevator were filled with ice. And that's when I said I wish the entire floor of the studio were covered in ice and we could dive in and swim around like in DuckTales.

Which is the exact moment that I was overcome with nostalgia.

Wasn't that the best show ever? Scrooge McDuck would swim around in his vault full of gold and always try to protect his Number One Dime. Huey, Dewey, and Louie were hyper, but clever and helped protect Scrooge's money from the bad guys (mainly the Beagle Boys and Magic DeSpell). I loved that show and the theme song is one of those that will stay in your head for hours. It's one of those songs that even after 20+ years, you still remember. (You might be humming it right now. Otherwise, check it below.)

I guess I don't remember a ton about the actual episodes; I certainly couldn't write the Wikipedia page for the show. But I do remember that intro. Swimming around in a room full of money was every bit as fascinating back then as it still is today. Can you even imagine?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Momma Mondays - My Infant, My Little Man

Sarah Mlynowski with me & Knox
 So yesterday after church, my husband and I strolled into Manhattan, baby in tow, and hit up young adult author Sarah Mlynowski's publishing event for Ten Things We Did at Books of Wonder. She's an author whom I admire and I was thrilled to see her tweet about it, so our little family made a last minute dash into the city. First of all, if you haven't read her books, you should. Bras & Broomsticks made me a fan, so the Magic in Manhattan series is one I recommend. But I digress...

Sarah's two year old daughter was running around "helping." She brought books from fans to her momma for her autograph, a really sweet little go-between to be sure. This little curly blond head could be seen bobbing around the folding chairs and under tables, her father following a few steps behind just to keep the mayhem to a minimum. She was very sweet, getting close to Knox as he sat on the floor, chewing on the cover of her momma's new book. Watching her squat next to him curiously, and watching Knox reach toward her sweet face, it all made me nostalgic. But how? Knox is only 10 months? Can you be nostalgic in the future? (much like London in like Cat Patrick's debut novel Forgotten)

I don't know if it sounds crazy, but that's what happened. I saw myself this time next year, maybe at a signing or my own event, and imagined my own little guy running around the bookstore. I'm sure he'll be way more of a terror than sweet Chloe was, especially if the pushing, biting, and squealing we're seeing at 10 months is a sign; but he'll be there "helping" his momma work her hustle.

Knox, an early reader
He's just growing like a weed. His head is completely covered with thick light brown hair and his face is settling into that of a toddler... already! He has these deep blue eyes and a beautiful smile full of eight teeth. I look at this (very) young man and wonder, "Where did my baby go?" My baby couldn't clap his pudgy paws together and squeal in delight when he garnered his own applause. My baby couldn't use his index finger a la E.T. to knock down block towers or touch strangers in the cheek or grab their hair (apologies to Susane Colasanti, btw). My little baby couldn't scoot all around the room on his butt or try with all of his might to pull the Safety First outlet covers off the wall.

But at the same time, my little baby couldn't hug my neck tight or pat me on the back.

I guess there are trade offs, but I'm thoroughly understanding the old cliché, "They grow up so fast." I'm trying to hold on to my baby, but even as I watch him right now, struggling on the floor at my feet to push himself into a crawling position, I know he's gaining more and more independence every day. He's learning, growing, turning into a little man right in front of my eyes... and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

(Or is there? I mean, when he first tries to stand up, would it be wrong of me to push him back down?)
YA authors at Sarah's event

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fan Club Friday - "family" by Micol Ostow

So as you know, I've always been an avid reader. I used to walk down the hallways in middle school like a pinball in a machine, my nose in a book as I walked, bouncing off the shoulders of the other kids passing by. But since I've had the baby, a read that would normally take me one or two days can now take one or two weeks. And that's okay when it's a book you're not really into, but when it's a book like Micol Ostow's family, it can really drive you mad.

family is loosely based on the story of Charles Manson and the Manson Family murders of 1969, so you can imagine why it tortured me to have the characters living with me for so long. As the main character Mel, a broken girl from an abusive family, runs away to San Francisco in search of anything to help make her whole again, she encounters Henry, a handsome and charasmatic man with a family of other broken souls more than eager to welcome her.

Besides this intriguing plot line, the entire book is written in episodic verse, a daunting endeavor but one that Micol pulled off brilliantly. For me, that helped lure the reader into the trance that I imagine Mel and the other girls had to be under in order to, without question, do Henry's bidding.

The book is divided. There are three main parts, but also numerous stand-alone pieces, too short to be considered chapters, almost like small pieces of poetic prose. I loved all of the breaks throughout and think it is genius in relation to Mel, who is also broken and busted up by years of living with a negligent mother and sexually abusive "uncle."  Each piece takes us in a new direction, some giving sneak peeks of what's to come, others taking us way back to "mirror Mel," and some living in the now. Swept along in the cadence of the story, we sway, we swoon, we feel chosen, just as Mel does. We believe that there is "no i, no ego, no before" and that "everything belongs to everyone." We are charmed by Henry and yet, from our outside perspective, we are worried... for Mel, for the singer, for anyone that displeases Him.

family is a refreshing example of dark YA fiction that will haunt you without succumbing to the paranormal trend.

Micol is a good friend of mine and a major reason that I finished my own YA novel, met my agent, and eventually got published. I admire and respect her and love her work. You will, too. Go get this book!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Throwback Thursday - MJ Getting My Groove Back

I just want to say that the King of Pop may be dead, but his moves live on.

For Christmas this year, my mother-in-law got me the Michael Jackson Dance Experience game and it's so boss. Although I've only played a few times, I know that if I were to really use this thing, I could not only get in shape, but much like Stella, I could get my groove back.

What happened to your groove, Alecia? you might ask yourself. 

Well, kids. I got married, turned 30, and had a kid.

But truthfully, I used to kill it at the club. And even if you were with me at these clubs back in the day and remember it differently, you'd have to at least agree that in my mind, I straight killed it. The dj dropped the beat and I dropped the junk in my trunk, workin' tracks from Snoop to Beyonce like I was getting paid. I longed for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Couldn't wait to put on some fancy clothes from Express or TJ Maxx (yeah, I said fancy) and go man huntin'... um, I mean dancing.

What I really remember is the workout. You get a good track going and weave into the throng of keyed up 20 somethings and next thing you know, your hair is sticking to your forehead and your quads are burning. I would wake up the next morning feeling like I'd gone to the gym and so, I never went to the gym! 

To this day, I break out random dance moves on my family when they least expect it. It always cracks my husband up, especially since there is rarely music to accompany such outbursts. And my baby usually likes it. (Note: Only once did I make him cry, but I have since retired such percolation.)

But as far as the club scene, my life looks a little different. Now I drop the baby in his jumper and assume the position in front of our TV. MJ and his sparkly white socks shimmy across the screen and I choose a song (difficulty level EASY). Knox bounces with glee as I try to keep up with the master and look like a person who was thrown into an anti-dance prison camp and had the rhythm beaten out of her. And after one attempt at Smooth Criminal, I'm out of breath and call it a day.