HOW MOTHERS KNOW DAUGHTERS SO WELL
By Harrriette Schwartz
When Sandra Bullock won her Oscar, she teared up and spoke of her mother..who knew the things her daughter would do before she even tried them..to sort of paraphrase her comments. Mothers whose own mothers ad infinitum, always knew the ill moves their young ladies would attempt for one good reason...apples do not ever really fall far from trees and mothers were untrained fearless young ladies once too.
I used to sleep with my car keys in my pillow case. It only took one time of my daughter taking them at 2am while I slept for me to begin protecting both of us by hiding them where I would have to be awakened before she could get them. My young teen girl without anything more than a driver's learning permit would not be joyriding my Honda to her pallies house again anytime soon. Mothers have been there and they too have done that. Just as an example, I told my mom I was going to a dance at the local Y, and my girlfriend and I went with phoney IDs to a Manhattan night club because we were gaga for the singer playing that night. Did my ma know? Yeah, probably.
You played their role first so its natural to see the pitfalls. Then its your turn to be mom to a teenager. You remember being one right? Parents were too stupid to be considered part of the inner circle, much less spoken or listened to. As a writer when my daughter was a teen it drove me berserk that she would not heed my words, I who had taken all the impossible and ignorant leaps she was now taking. Hey I was the oldest of three and had to lead the way. Oftentimes I was certain I could hear my own mom looking down at me from heaven and laughing. So I wrote my daughter notes. Actually they were neatly typed (the Virgo in me I suppose). I’d leave them taped to the inside of her door, or on her mirror, somewhere I knew they would be seen. Most times I would find them in the trash and I wondered if she read them. However when she referred to them as "death notes" I knew that she had. This year she turns 25 and is a lovely young woman with whom I have a wonderful relationship. The aliens that took her brain as a teen finally did bring it back.
The oil and water role thing that goes on during those teen years is inevitable between mothers and daughters, all parents and teens for that matter. Then one day she asked for my advice and lo and behold my daughter was actually listening to what I had to say. They also grow a work ethic and a sense of responsibility. Where not even a stump of a tree had stood before suddenly an oak is growing healthy and strong. The storms are over and like a light bulb popping up over their heads, the sun is shining. You can actually have a conversation with them and the rapport is real and even somewhat satisfying. I knew in my heart she was there all along..hearing and absorbing if perhaps still staunchily unyeilding. It was really only a matter of time. Just like you and your mom..you and your daughter had to grow out of and into new roles. Its the reason moms know their daughters so well and how to protect them from themselves.
CHILDREN BY NUMBERS
When I was small the thought of having one child and one child only was rare. A woman only “settled” for this if she was physically unable to bear more. Other women, the ones with broods of 3 or 5 or more felt sorry for such a creature, whose husband surely bemoaned his fate with his pallies at the local bar sloshing down a nightly brew. She was in a way, damaged goods and likely spent her lifetime wondering what was wrong with her anyway.
Families bulged with tots, all of whom were the spitting image of mom or dad. Somehow the decision to reproduce was never based in finance, only in procreation and pride of same. Siblings were everywhere and I mean, everywhere. You shared not only a room, but many times a bed with them. It is no wonder baby boomers have made the world of therapy flourish!
This is not to say it was all horrendous for it was not. Family was your root and there was something to be said for having built-in playmates. Even being sick was a shared experience. The dinner table was a world unto itself. Whose fork was that anyway? You had to be quick to snag that second helping of dinner rolls or chicken, especially if you weren’t seated near enough to the platter. Many of my memories are cherished for having had two siblings and some are nightmarish for the same reason. That was life for most of us in those days.
Fast forward to a different stage of life, when making money and holding onto some of it was considered vogue. Yuppism taught us the value of things and cash. Thinking about the finances of your future was a must, because just letting it happen to you was no way to build a better mousetrap. The idea and time of large families was put in the past, along with bunkbeds and huge pots of pasta for dinner.
Many of us who grew up with numerous brothers and sisters decided to have only one child and to shower that baby with all the things we could not have as children because we had to share. Now if a woman’s womb could only accommodate one baby it was perfectly fine and dandy. She fit the mold. I did just this and felt I had lived to my potential as a female. Our single servings of motherhood were much more common and acceptable.
We planned and had babies according to our pocketbooks as this was the sensible way to ensure both parent and child would live a happy and financially sound existence. In China it is the law to have just one child due to over-population, right? Well if a government restricts this function, there must be something profoundly sound about the decision.
My daughter always wanted a sibling. “My children will not have aunts and uncles”, she bemoaned her fate. Still she loved having 45 different baby dolls, dollhouses to put them in, and most all of the things she deemed essential to a happy existence. Yes, she was spoiled rotten. This is not to say all parents of my ilk spoiled their kids, but I am sure a large portion of us have. Have I raised the real material girl? Probably so. She is now a young adult and I am still waiting for the aliens who took her brain in her teens to bring it back. Do not get me wrong as there is a great deal of inherent good in this child and thus her dad and I did succeed in many ways. However, in hindsight I find myself mulling that there is something to be said for growing up in a wild bunch and learning to be self-sufficient because if you snoozed you lost.
Cycles being what they are, I see many young and larger families out there now, just as was commonplace in my youth. One of my neighbors, a women in her early twenties recently had to move back in with her mother because she and her husband had fallen on hard times. They have 4 little girls. Sweet tiny little things who haven’t a clue as to the hardships they face, for they are happy as clams having each other to play with and to love. Who is to say that the old adages which speak of having no money but standing alongside each other in a family way are politically incorrect? Not I,that is for sure. If the bottom line is happiness, then perhaps bookkeeping goes out the window. However, in this day and age if you cannot keep the books balanced, can you still be happy?
CALLING TIME WARNER IN BUENOS AIRES?
As they say in Paris, Je’nais comprende pas, which to the uninitiated means simply, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. I not only do not understand I find it hard to accept that when I phoned my loal cable company today to find out why I suddenly lost the NBC affiliate I found myself speaking to a young woman in of all places Buenos Aires? The offices of Time Warner Cable are located a few miles away. If I need a new DVR box or remote and do not wish to await an appointment for replacement, I can get in the car and drive there in about 15 minutes and exchange them for new ones. I know the world is a much smaller place, what with the internet and communication devices the size of a pin head, but Buenos Aires? We all know its called outsourcing.
This happened during of all things the BONNIE HUNT show, which I attended the taping of and which I was “TIVO” or “DVRing.” The screen suddenly went blank. No novice, I did my homework before placing the call. Being as I had all the other channels we pay for, including premiums on both of my televisions and it was only the NBC affiliate it was fair to assume the problem was out of my house and thus out of my hands.
So I called. I called a seven digit local number and fully expected to eventually hear an American voice, obviously an employee of Time Warner located in nearby Chatsworth, who would be able to tell me it was an area problem, or a network problem and would soon be corrected. I knew when I heard the accent, the fact that though I could hear her clearly she just sounded ”far” away and I KNEW her name was not Jane as she told me. She also seemed uninformed and I felt that I may as well be talking to someone in Siberia. I am not new to this type of service. While my computer was still under warranty with Dell, many was the time I would be speaking with a Tom or a Dick or a Harry also with a thick accent who when prodded would admit to being located in India. It is likely that the name given me was simply the Dell solution to the fact that if they gave their real name I would instantly have known I was no longer in U.S. territory. They do not willingly advise their locations. However I got wise and now I am someone who will ask.
The young woman from Time Warner in Buenos Aires put me on hold. When she returned and told me, “We know of a problem, it may be just the network but it is not officially listed in our system yet. Let me arrange for a technician to visit your home” I made the inquiry as to her location. That was when I found out I had been virtually shipped off to South America. Trying to be reasonable I asked her why, when the issue was likely to be resolved sometime during the day, she would want to arrange a technician to come here, knowing full well they would not be here for at least a day or two because home appointment availability is scarcer then a hen tooth as they say. By then there would be no issue whatsoever. She responded that this was procedure. At that point I told her that although it was not personal I now wanted to speak to a supervisor, preferably one located in the United States. After about ten to fifteen minutes of being on hold I got a supervisor. She too sounded far away and seemed uniformed. She too was in Buenos Aires!
However, just at the closing credits of BONNIE HUNT, the local NBC affliliate came back on. Suffice to say I never got a straight answer from either woman as to what had happened and I ended up hanging up. I checked the DVR and found that I had exactly the same blank screen as I had been watching while conversing with the Time Warner staff in Buenos Aires. Once again: Je’nais comprende pas “outsourcing”! Do you?
A CAREER IN INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION
We all have some things of interest in our pasts...It is true that eye contact invites people to stick around. Sue Simmons had that nailed. She would sign an autograph, looking elsewhere and move on. Speak a few words to an adoring fan while looking at me or in a shop window or off into space and move on..It was her way to handle that contact.
However, I had a lot of fun when I worked for Fremantle in NY. Its name is attached to just about every reality show these days, including stuff like America's Got Talent. It was/is a television distribution company. When I worked for them in the 70s and 80s, they specialized in selling American television shows in international markets. I worked there for Paul Talbot, the founder/President and a very interesting character for ten years. In fact I worked on a Friday and gave birth to my daughter Merelle that same weekend on a Sunday. Fremantle was a small company when I worked there, but they had offices in London and also in Sydney Australia.
When I began I was Paul's assistant but I ended up a Vice President. I used to handle the preparation for a television festival held in various locations around the US--NY, San Francisco, Las Vegas and more. I was 6 months pregnant with Merelle and in New Orleans for one of them. Heck of a town to be in preggers, you cannot drink their special drinks like one actually called a Hurricane oddly enough in light of Katrina’s devastation. I used to be there for, "build up and tear down" of NATPE International each year. I also attended local pre-meetings to jockey for good space as well. For instance, NOBODY wanted to be anyplace near the WWE booth, as they set up a wrestling ring and held matches twice daily. Vince and his wife Linda McMahon were really a couple of smart cookies. NATPE stands for: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TELEVISION PROGRAM EXECUTIVES. When I first started doing NATPE it was held in hotel suites. The suites were held by the likes of Warners, Disney and down to the likes of Fremantle and even smaller. One year we were next door to some small little show about fishing and the actor Robert Fuller was the host. Man, in those days, the guy was potted before 10AM every day. Fuller was always very nice and friendly; a great hugger though, lol. Everyone was there to show their available programming for syndication. I can remember the doors to one hotel suite being made up to look like you were walking into a NYC cab, this for the series TAXI. Eventually, foreign buyers got into the mix. Thus when the elevators and stairs became so jammed that clients and staff alike could not get around, NATPE moved the growth to convention centers.
The vendors all brought their star power, along with food and drink of all kinds, lavish to say the least. Everyone had giveaways like you would not believe. I always came home with stuff to give away to friends and family. Being as I had to ship our stuff FedEx back to the office, getting things home was easy. The program execs from around the country could have their pix taken with any and everyone and I was no different on my breaks from our exhibit. I worked hard but had a lot of fun.
I also attended many which were held in Cannes in the South of France, exactly where the film festival is held. This was because our clientele was mainly international. Not too shabby to stroll the Cote d'azur to get to the Palais Des Festival and show/talk about tv programming. The very same "pink palais" where the film festival resides. The art deco style of the older hotels like THE MAJESTIC (see me poolside there?) or THE CARLTON was simply magnefique! The Carlton by the way is the hotel that Cary Grant swims up on the beach of in the movie with Grace Kelly, TO CATCH A THIEF. I got to hang out with a lot of good looking men, all of them were either clients or from our London or Sydney offices of Fremantle. Like I said, I had fun..
Paul Talbot and Fremantle had the rights to such things as CANDID CAMERA. Allen Funt got to a point where he would not deal with anyone but me. I even have a congratulatory note from Allen on the birth of my daughter. When I first moved out from New York to California in 1990, he had me come to his house for lunch and gave me some contacts for finding a job. Industry wide, I know Allen was not thought of as a nice man, but he was aces to me. Paul also had the international rights to Goodson-Todman game shows and we helped produce versions of them in foreign languages. We would send them the "book" of complete schematics and instructions, and even veteran producers such as Gil Fates and Bill Egan would go over to help them get things started. How fascinating it was to talk with a guy like Gil about classics like WHAT'S MY LINE and people like Dorothy Kilgallen, as Gil was a part of all that. There was even an Italian version of THE PRICE IS RIGHT. You have not lived until you have heard "come on down" in Italian, with that American inflection--just too darn funny I tell you. Fremantle also handled the TONY AWARDS and I always went to the dress rehearsals of that..such fun and one of my best friends, a well known NY DJ and a man who makes a fortune doing voice overs for NBC, Les Marshak (a Bronx boy) was the announcer on that and so it was like a party for us. We also handled the soap opera, RYANS HOPE. I got to know the creators and writers, Paul Mayer and Claire Labine quite well. One year they held a Christmas party on the set, at the RYANS bar, a pivitol place for the soap. It was there that my late husband Jay almost had his lights punched out.
You see, Jay was a die-hard NY Rangers hockey fan. Those kind of guys DID NOT take kindly to a new NY team, aka the ISLANDERS. In his mind they belonged and should have stayed out on Longgg Island and not "invading the brotherhood of true blue hockey fans in NYC. So there was this hulky looking guy at the bar and Jay kept agreeing with him and going all Islander fan-like. They were talking and I knew exactly what Jay was doing. Then he pounced with some sort of nasty remark which was sort of a "why don't you and your team go back where you came from." As Jay smugly smirked at how he had duped the guy, the fella grabbed his collar and was getting ready to grand slam my husband when some other men broke it up. Jay loved that story till the day he died...lol. Me, well I was glad that someone put a stop to the fraccas! There you go..
I also enjoyed going to some very lovely Goodson-Todman Christmas parties at 30 Rock. I loved that complex and I knew it all very well.
All in all life was busy and my work took me to places I probably never would have been to otherwise. The Aura Borealis is one hell of a lightshow, even from a plane window flying New York to Paris, enroute to Cannes. I am grateful I was given the chance to meet so many different people, and to see so many beautiful and interesting venues. Okay so I was a bit put off by the fact that the French serve shrimp with their head still attached, beady little black eyes staring up at you from the plate...and no I did not eat frog legs so I cannot say if they taste like chicken..just could NOT do it. Still, the experience and the wonderful times my memories hold are truly priceless. Hope you don't mind my sharing some of them with you.
I used to love tax time..but then I used to get back a lot of money when I was working as an employee, rather than on my own. Now being on long term disability I could have Social Security take out taxes during the year, but with no raises from them for two years I truly need each penny as I go-- who doesn't these daze? You are damned if you do or you don't I guess. I can work part time minimally without losing any of the disability funds and I do, as an independent contractor doing some research work here at home. I feel blessed to have the job for at my age and stage of life, finding anything in this economy would be like seeking hen's teeth. I've had this job since 2006 and I am hanging onto it.
Both Social Security and the company I do research work for send me a gift this time of year. Well, perhaps calling a 1099 a gift is more than a bit of a stretch of the imagination. These little slips of paper push me between the rock and the hard place as it does I am sure they do to many of you. This is because Uncle Sam now can put the bite on me and oh how he clenches his teeth as he does--ouchy! Last year I had to request a payment schedule and fortunately Sam so graciously said yes -- he gave me until August of last year to pay up what I owed. Thanks so much Sam and ah, "Uncle."
As someone who had worked from age 17 to 2006 when I became permanently disabled I paid my dues like everyone else. Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying I shouldn't have to pay anything at all. I am saying that perhaps there should be some sort of a "bail-out" or reduced income tax plan for those of us who are on a fixed income. Over the years we have paid and paid and PAID and who now have received no increases to meet the raised cost of living in this country. If you prick me, do I not bleed -- yes I do. So Sam, please stop bleeding me, maybe just a little?
FILM CAN IMPACT LIFE
In fact @TomCruise and I follow each other. He gave me some #FF love just this past Fri: TomCruise TomCruise.com #FF @HJSWritergal luv 2 writers! FILM CAN IMPACT LIFE I am on Twitter and Tom Cruise has a channel there on which he invited all to write on how a particular film changed your life. I had posted this about SOMEWHERE IN TIME. His commentary on itis posted below..HJS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A movie that changed my life is SOMEWHERE IN TIME. This film is a beautiful presentation of passion which simply transcends all the barriers of time. It shows us how a modern man knew from a glance at an old photo that the woman in it was looking at him and adoringly calling to him to, “return to her. The music is astoundingly gorgeous. The chemistry between the late Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour simply pops off the celluloid. It is no coincidence that those involved in producing this picture came together to create it, for this was meant to be. I am ever hopeful as Reeve’s character is and just as crushed each and every time he finds that penny in his pocket, which hurtles him back to the future and away from his love.
I know now and derived from this film that all the great loves of our lives surround us beyond our lifetimes. They are present in every moment, even before you discover them. Learning that some things are meant to be removed my fears and opened me to my belief in the afterlife. Many will scoff and bristle even at the use of the term, “afterlife.” I used to. However, I no longer subscribe to or simply chalk signs up to coincidence. I am more attuned and I realize that the people who love you are always “somewhere in time” surrounding us.Tom Cruise commentary:
Harriette, those were beautifully written insights on 'Somewhere in Time.' The power of movies to impact people cannot be denied! Thank you so much for your comment. -www.TomCruise.com
CHRONIC IS 100% OF THE TIME
Rewritten 2011 by HJSWritergal
When diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006, I knew that unlike the flu, this would be an ongoing battle. It scared the heck out of me, but set me on a course of action, to learn to live with it. I did not realize however what the reaction of others in my life would be. People who saw me at first, witnessing my inability to move without a walker or a cane, seeing my fatigue, seemed appalled. The onset and events of MS are termed, Exacerbations. My initial exacerbation was an almost a crippling affair but did improve in time, with treatment and in the first year, 4 hospital stays. Now that I appear and feel somewhat “normal”, can drive anywhere and walk without even the use of a cane, it is deemed that I am, “better”. Since a lot of my MS is not visible to others, their assumption is, I am both normal and better. I may be improved, but I am never going to be without the effects of this disease again. That is now a fact of life and I can live with it just fine. I am on my way, but it is the others in my life that need help adjusting.
MS can be an invisible disability to those who do not have it, particularly if your symptoms do not have you in a wheelchair. No one else knows if I am not sleeping well; if my body is tingling or if I am stiff when I sit for a period of time. People do not get why I am at times suddenly so fatigued I almost fall asleep standing up. With an immune system that barely functions if at all, I keep lots of Lysol and Clorox Wipes at the ready. When faced with a known illness I remove myself or the sick person from my presence, if possible. Yes this is a selfish but self-preservation attitude. There are so many more you come in contact with and have no knowledge of what they may carry. So much is simply airborne and thus unavoidable. It seems that every winter I am faced with cases of bronchitis or sinusitis that enlist the aid of several runs of antibiotics as well as steroids, until finally after at least a couple of months of coughing like a freight train, I get better.
So far I have been lucky and only I myself know that MS gives me good days and some not so good ones. Sometimes I must communicate this to others so they can understand. So many do not apply the term “chronic” nor can they comprehend how it affects my life and interaction with them. I may look like I’m in the pink, but oftentimes, I feel like I’m stuck in a gray area. I do not walk around in a constant state of, “I am sick” either. I seek that even keel which allows those close to me to understand just what I’m capable of on any given day and how susceptible to change this can be. This may necessitate a change of plans at a moment’s notice, but not by choice. It is the nature of the chronic beast that is MS. I still love you as much as I used to, but today is just not a “can do” day for me. Then too maybe a sudden onset of fatigue slows me down to a crawl. Bear with me I am sick but I just don’t advertise the fact that much. I will give you signals only when and if I need to.
Having had the time to wrap my head around it, I understand that I cannot beat MS,that instead I must join it in order to survive and go forward. Hey we all have something to deal with physically and mentally in life, it goes with the territory. Yes chronic is 100% of the time, but as they say I have the disease, it does NOT have me, not yet anyway. I rarely talk about it because I feel strong enough most of the time to say that I am “still kickin.” My mom told me a long time ago to always answer “Great or fine!” when someone asks “How are you?”…and I do. Most have their own life “tsuris” (say surris its Yiddish for trouble) and their inquiry is just polite. Would that those who love and know people with this chronic disease understood this response is really just what we want to feel and what you want to hear, but its not always the truth.
Here we go! Its been awhile since I had my own website..the last one was BOOMERVILLE USA and it was a social website for my boomer compatriots. This one however, is really for me. Its a place for me to tell everyone..hey this is who I am and what I am about.
I will speak my mind and no holds barred..hey I am a kid from the Bronx who grew up in NYC and mincing words well, it just does not suit me. So join me for the journey. xoxo H