Brain Holiday


After Campanile closing, shingles and the usual drumbeat of life I happily jumped on a plane to a friends’ baby shower in NYC.  First off, at my age, not a lot of babies showers anymore, but also I think sharing milestones are important.  We lose each other so easily if we didn’t go to weddings and showers we would only exist through Facebook.

drinking hot coco in cold New York

I needed a break from being so absorbed in my husband’s world, be it his work life or issues with one of his adult kids.   I’m building walls and boundaries.  I’m setting limits.  I’m trying to detach.  I don’t want to get shingles again.

Being a step parent feels like being the District of Columbia, I pay taxes, but I don’t get a vote.  Or like when I sat through our schools bone crushingly dull Board of Directors meeting, raised my hand to ask a question and was told that what I was asking was off the agenda .  In a chunk of my home life I’m Puerto Rico.


Okay, so when I can’t get away for a few days, or afford therapy, how can I get a little R and R and detachment?  Good old fashion movies. It’s my favorite thing about flying (but lordy, bring some good headphones, I forgot mine this trip and my ears were bleeding from me jamming the cheapies in my drums).  So I’m always about 6 to 12 months behind in movie reviews, but just in case you are like me and never get out, here are my reviews of movies people have already seen:

“Ted”  Mark Whalberg and the dirty teddy bear.  Snort laugh funny.  Woke up the Hispanic guy next to me on the plane slapping my knee to this one.  Love Mark Whalberg, always have. Besides his good looks, he makes himself vulnerable and is great at deadpan.

People like Us“, not a good title, but engaging story of a relationship between long lost half siblings. Liked this a lot.  Elizabeth Banks can do anything.  Comedy, drama.  She is fantastic.  Michelle Pfeiffer in her first role as Jessica Lange, or JL like role.  Great job.  The Darling Chris Pine.  Has Channing Tatum been keeping him from me?  Bradley Cooper might have to share me.  I haven’t decided yet, but Cougar Brogdon might have a new interest.  Anyway, good story. HOWEVER  my one beef is one that is common with American films NO one can finish a conversation when they are in conflict.  A few heated lines, walk out of room.  Time passes.  They see each other again.  Heated lines, walk out of room, rinse, repeats.  In real life no one would drive around LA that much.  “I’m finishing this topic up BEFORE I get in my car AGAIN”   For the last 40 minutes of the film I had to put my left hand up by my eye as the older Asian gentleman in the window seat was making rhythmic motions on his quad. Everywhere, boundary issues.

I changed my seat for “What to Expect when you are Expecting”  I almost didn’t slide my card for this one.  I was pretty sure I would hate it.  I enjoyed it for the most part.  Yes, a few scenes where I had to turn away like for the reocurring “dad’s club”.  Too cute for the room.  However, lots of funny comedy bits throughout and my girl Elizabeth Banks being very funny. A bit more “Bridesmaid” than I had ‘expected’.  I thought J Lo did a good job.

where has this guy been? yum

I think the turn off for me with this film was the poster.  Where it looked like all the stars where in one place with their fake bellys.  I thought it was going to be more “Steele Magnolias” and it was more “Love American Style.”  I loved that show. Chace Crawford (who also had the fight, walk away, fight, walk away syndrome here) is a tad young  for me, but pretty cute.  I think Chris Pine has been keeping him from me.

Speaking of 6 months ago…  I finally got to watch some of HBO’s “Girls”. I moved back to the seat by the guy, who I had now figured out was Korean, and had ceased massaging his thigh.  It’s not a show I want on with my daughter in the room.  I was interested, jealous impressed that Lena Dunham got it made at 27.  They are vapid and annoying like many of the critics say, but so were the dudes in ‘Entourage’.  It did make me really happy that I wasn’t a single 20 something making poor choices with men (anymore). I’d rather be a crabby, married 40 something. I did think that Nepotism poster was fun-ny. Allison Williams looks so much like her dad I expected her to read the news.

How did I see a BRAND new movie? I’s not even out yet. Oh, well  I was invited to a free screening by a friend.  I saw “Promise Land”.  Written and starring Matt Damon ( love) and John Kr… something, the guy from “The Office”.   Directed by Gus Van Sant.  Right before we went in my friend “Sid” ( I call her that because she is on a Siddartha like quest) said “It’s about fracking”.

Oh, frack I said.  I could see the preachy liberal message coming around the bend.  First 30 minutes I was pleasantly surprised.  Then the great Hal Hollbrooke rose as the conscious of his community with the townspeople silently standing up with him in a high school gym and I nudged Sid, “Here we go..” She nodded.

Then it calmed down, mostly, to good acting, good story, good dialogue, pretty pictures.  But, right at then end, there it was.  The kind of ending that NEVER happens in real life and is devoid of moral ambiguity.  I love moral ambiguity.  That is life.

Afterward, the stars were interviewed  ( with director Van Sant) and they were both so charming and funny I vowed to try to remember the name of the guy who is married to Emily Blunt.   I’d like to see a movie of that guy and Matt Damon just hanging out.

I was there and so was Matt Damon.

When I got home the kids were asleep and my dear chef fixed up some leftovers for me and we settled down to watch “Cowboys and Aliens”.  Plus: Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.  Done, right there, I’m in.  Also, I love Westerns and Mark could watch Independence Day 24/7 so we were pleased.  However, a lot of the film was dark and the dialogue was hard to catch. I almost put it on captioned at one point, but then it became a big alien shootout– fine with me– and  lines weren’t that important.

Ah, what 8 month old film will I watch next!  And suggestions? Nothing with rape or torture.


Diaper Cakewalk

Boy, do I look big! Can you believe that is supposed to be dress? It was done by the winner of Project Runway, Christian Siriano. I thought it a bit skimpy for my party, so I threw on the leggings underneath.

This was at the “he’s almost here!” cocktail party we had. It was so great. I asked only for people to bring food… a potluck. But many were very generous and brought presents for my little guy. Before the party, I received a present through Diaper Cakewalk. It was so cute, layers of diapers and a little blue elephant, lotions, binky, washcloths. It’s a twofer, ’cause it’s a gift and a centerpiece. If you are hosting or attending a shower I recommend it. I put it in the middle of the dessert table and got many compliments on it.

One drunk tried to take a bite out of it. I have to stop inviting her to stuff.


It suddenly occurred to me that I am really pregnant.  I think a second shower would be excessive, especially as many are feeling the economic pinch.  Also, I can’t see how I could pay for the kind of big party I would like to throw for my soon-to-be born son.

So, I took a cue from my neighbor Cara, and I am throwing a potluck.  I’m calling it an “He’s almost here!” party.  We are doing cocktails, which will also be fun for my husband, as he is soon opening an artisan-style cocktail bar (pre-prohibition; no crappy sweet and sour mix).  I asked people to bring a dish or a bottle of wine.  So far, the response has been great.

Mark felt a little funny about it, having a potluck when he is a chef, but I talked him into it.  1) Cara just did a potluck that was fun and didn’t feel like a crappy church social and 2) I explained that given our budget, the only alternative would be 6 people and a pizza. And which 6 would you choose?

Cara gave me some good pot luck tips:

1) Have extra serving tools. She says she didn’t have enough last time.

2) If you know what people are bringing beforehand, make up cards or labels. Having a sign that says, “Mary’s Veggie Lasagna” will look a bit more polished.

3) When people come in, slap a sticky on their pan. Cara said that after her last party, she spent 4 days calling people saying, “Did you leave a rectangular Pyrex pan?” I mean who hasn’t?

4) If you are planning ahead (which I am not; my guest got a crude Evite and less than two weeks notice), you can stick a note on each invite like “Bring Appetizer” or for your good-cook friends, “Bring Main”.

Now, what to wear…