Archive for January, 2010

Sit Back & Smoke a Cigar

January 31, 2010

I have been especially sentimental over this last week. Reminiscing….going through old songs on my iPod, photos…… Thinking about what was, what could have been, maybe even what should have been….. A door I thought had closed forever, and probably should be, was re-opened with a mysterious email. Funny how that can take you on a trip down memory lane – some good, some bad.

One place it did lead me was to one of my favorite trips, favorite memories – when Renee and I went to Paris. Nothing but a backpack, a little cash, a Paris guidebook and two open & eager minds to explore the world got on a train and had no idea what was ahead of us. We saw Paris in a way many people never will. The memory that sticks so strongly in my mind was us at the Buddha Bar. It was the first (and only time mind you) I had smoked a Cuban cigar. We had a glass of Cognac to go with it. All dressed up with our cigar and cognac, I felt so sophisticated…cultured…worldly. We were free spirits ready to embark on the city of love and enjoy whatever it had to give us. I didn’t want to let go of that feeling then, and I don’t want to let go of it now. The serenity in just sitting back and enjoying that cigar, without a care in the world of what’s going to happen tomorrow, or if I’ll ever have someone to spend tomorrow with. The bravery to grab him by the hand and go salsa dancing when we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. I miss those times. With all the craziness going on in my life right now, it makes me want to just sit back and smoke a cigar.

For those of you out there that are cigar smokers, please check out my friend’s blog and start following him on facebook and twitter: http://cigarsage.com/
Right now, Cigar Sage has a great giveaway where one lucky winner can get the sampler box from Alec Bradley. So check him out, and become a subscriber. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the lucky winner and we can just sit back  and smoke a cigar.

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Reflections

January 28, 2010

So I’ve been back 4 days now from LA, and I still can’t get my body back in tune with East coast time. Or maybe the exhaustion hasn’t completely left my body. I already feel like I am 3 weeks behind in everything I need to do, with no time to catch up on sleep or work…… 2010 just starts and time is flying by!!

Everyday since I’ve been back, there is something new I find in my daily activities to be thankful for. I feel like that is one of the best ways I can pay respects to Drew for the beautiful gift he shared with me – his life. It’s crazy because today it hit me like a ton of bricks. A few “incidents” happened today that really tested my nerves and my patience. What pushed me over the edge with them was priorities, realizations. These “incidents” are so meaningless, and stupid compared to the battles Drew faces on a daily basis. I was reading the latest People magazine and the cover was Heidi Montag and all of her plastic surgery. In the article she talked about how it really tested her marriage because Spencer had to pull down her pants for her to go to the bathroom. REALLY??? I thought I had one up because with my MS, my mom has had to carry me to the bathroom, so did my ex-husband. But that is truly nothing compared to what Drew has endured.

So, as I struggle to get back “normal” life here in Atlanta (my heart still feels like it went thru the Powerman…) here is what I know: I am a lucky person to know Drew Bates. I am humbled for being around him. For all of you out there that are just “friends” with him on facebook, I challenge you to really get to know him. See what he is all about, and how you can be a part of what will one day be his incredible empire. Make sure the ones you love know that you love them. Life can change so dramatically, so quickly. Hug them, kiss them, don’t go to bed mad at them. Let the small stuff go. Have no regets. Live your life to the absolute fullest it can be. Be thankful for every breathe you take, because you never know when it will be your last.

Leaving LA

January 24, 2010

It breaks my heart seeing Drew leave LA. I feel like I’m dragging a kid out of the toy store. Drew and I shared a personal moment with him talking on the video about what he was disappointed about. Make no mistake, there was NO disappointment on the activities of the week. His disappointment lies with _______ well, I’ll let you wait and see that one once the documentary is done. I guarantee you, it will bring a tear to your eye and touch a place in your soul. For someone who has such a tough exterior, there is a soft side in there.

As I’m writing this I’m listening to my iPod, Needtobreathe. And the song, “The Heat” comes on, just as magically as the Josh Grobin song came on when I was flying out here…..
Let the drumbeats wash you over
Let the songs come and take you under
Push the life that brought you here, away from you tonight
There’s a place where the pain can’t touch ya
And there’s a fire where the heat won’t burn ya
It’s in the sound of your voice tonight singing in one song

You get a headache and you can take an advil. You break a bone, and the doc may give you a stronger pain pill. That doesn’t even begin to touch the pain Drew lives in. I look over at the goofball and he is dancing in his seat. He can always make me laugh. Change is inevitable, Drew is proof that you can survive it. Families are forever. No matter what you do, no matter what happens. Family is there. Family is love.

I am so thankful to add John and Joe to my family. This week is something I will never forget. And no words I write will ever do this justice. One day Drew, we will find that place where the pain can’t touch you.

The Height of Excellence

January 23, 2010

As we continue on this movie journey, in line with all drama’s we end this trip with an invitation to The Screen Actor’s Guild Awards Show. Words cannot begin to express what that experience was like. The second I put on my dress, I felt like a queen getting ready to go to her coronation. And Drew was absolutely handsome in his tux! It is the most sensational experience to walk the red carpet. If only these crazy fans in the stands were screaming my name…… I have to work on my impromptu smile. It’s harder than it looks people! You are concentrating on not stepping on your dress or falling, then at a nano-seconds notice you have to pose, smile, click – photo taken. You really have to be on your game walking the red carpet! Word to newbies out there who will eventually attend one of these shows – until you are famous enough to have someone carry your train down the red carpet, don’t get a dress with a long train…. Just saying….

Melissa and I got to be back stage with Joe. Joe designed the set for the awards show, and it was absolutely breathtaking!! Just beautiful. One thing I that has become crystal clear to me out here this week, I do not like to be in front of the camera. I prefer all the behind the scenes stuff. (Guess that’s a good thing Drew loves the camera so much!!) It was incredible being amongst all of these celebrities and incredible actors. To see Mo’nique win for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role was very surreal. She was genuinely shocked she won. When she came off stage, she just had this deer in the headlights look, like she couldn’t believe what just happened. Seeing how completely giddy the cast of Glee was with their win was so much fun! I felt like I was celebrating right there with them.

What made this night so special for me personally was Betty White receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. Golden Girls is my all time favorite tv show EVER. I have every season on DVD and still watch them over and over and over again. She is what made me star struck. Just to be in her presence….. Amazing. Excellence.

One great aspect of this week is that there truly are still some good guys left in Hollywood. People who don’t conform to the superficial mask the industry wants you to put on, people who don’t buy into the hype that they are larger than life. But…. you still have a few bad apples out there too.

This is truly an experience I will never forget. (Although I would like to forget my little tumble down the stairs as I was rushing to get back stage to greet Kevin Bacon as he came off stage. Luckily, he didn’t see the tumble. Sadly, I didn’t get to see him…..Next time!)

Confession Time…..Saturday Morning

January 23, 2010

I’m sure at this point when people read this on my blog they are going to hate me. How in the world can I even begin to complain or have a complaint? I’m on the trip of a lifetime, getting the opportunity of a lifetime – to see and experience events few non-celebrity people get to do. I’m traveling with a quadrapalegic who would probably love to feel pain in his legs, to feel anything in his legs….. Yet, it’s saturday morning, and I have another confession to make……..

I just don’t know how much more my arms and legs can lift. They are so tired, they’re turning into noodles. I haven’t lifted anything over 15 pounds since before December 2009, so this week has felt like I’m training for the Ironman Competition. And even though I am clearly struggling, Drew seems to have the utmost patience with me when I screw things up.

I have so much respect for him and his family right now. Really gives me a new appreciation of what my parents have dealt with throughout all my medical mishaps. As soon as I want to complain I just look over at Drew, and my mind cannot begin to understand or comprehend what life is like for him. I hate confessions. I hate that I even think these thoughts of weakness.

A Little Taste of Heaven

January 22, 2010

So…. there is definitely one thing the West coast has that we are LACKING in the South –> In-n- Out Burgers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, have mercy! I’ll take a #4 with onions please!! This was insanely good! Everyone has told me to try one of these burgers, now I understand. For all of you out there who have sung their praises – I get it now!

I don’t know if there is any truth to this or not, but I’ve been told In-n- Out Burgers refuse to franchise and that is why we don’t see them on the East coast, or more importantly down South. Well, I have one word for you – MCDONALDs!! I think there is an important business lesson here – over 1 billion burgers served! How can you NOT benefit from coming to the South? So…. anyone want to go in with me and try to open one of these puppies here in Georgia???????

Party Like It’s 1959!!

January 22, 2010

WOW!! John and Joe threw Drew the most amazing party last night! He got the chance to feel like a king (as if we weren’t already getting the royal treatment all week!) and visit with many of his old friends and colleagues from his days back in LA before the accident. And true to form from the rest of the week, John and Joe went big! We had a fabulous bar, fabulous food, fabulous hosts and a fabulous time!!

I have not seen that smile leave Drew’s face all week. Out here in LA, he is really in his element. LA is most definitely not made for everyone, but it is made for Drew. I really enjoyed getting a chance to meet his friends, hear old Drew stories and see how genuinely happy everyone is for him. I often talk about how I need to get my battery re-charged, and I think this party did that for Drew. In the depths of the woods of Blythewood, SC, one can often forget or lose sight of the audience that is out in the world cheering you on.

Like so many times this week, I am yet again reminded how very precious our lives are. How quickly life can change with every breathe that you take. How fast the road God sends you down can turn into a different direction. All the while we are strapped in holding on for the ride and praying we get there safely. How one minute you are driving your truck back to LA and next minute you are lying on a frozen road for 16 hours grasping on to your life, so that you can see another breathe.

Be thankful for the amenities and functionalities you have in your life. Be grateful for the people who love and support you. Tell the people you love that you love them, and don’t hold grudges. For it can all be gone and over with so quickly.

Confession Time…..Friday Morning

January 22, 2010

I woke up so tired and sore. I can feel my legs starting to shut down. I can feel I’ve put too much stress on my heart, fluid is backing up in my chest like there is a running facet inside there. And I feel like the most selfish, vain bitch for even feeling this way. I guess maybe by writing it I’m not saying it out loud, as if that makes this any better. I don’t have the right to complain. Drew can’t feel his legs, can’t move his legs. I’m trying so hard to help with moving him in/out of his wheelchair, getting him dressed and I feel like this weakling. As I blow dry my hair I can’t stop my eyes from watering up. I don’t want Drew to see me crying. I’m sitting here frustrated because my legs are tired and my heart is exhausted. And Drew is in a wheelchair.

Just as I am about to hit rock bottom from the guilt of feeling sorry for myself Drew starts laughing. He’s watching some of the video I took last night at his party. That smile lights up my heart. That laugh lets my body know it will be okay, it can make it. Despite the bruises, the aches, the pains – I will be okay. If he can have the strength to survive on an icy road, I can muster up the strength to continue doing this.

Just Playing in the Rain…..

January 21, 2010

I feel like I’m in the middle of a tsunami!! How crazy is this weather! It has pretty much rained non-stop since we got here. And what is wild is evidently LA has not seen weather like this in 5 years. Of course it’s going to hit the week we are here! Melissa and I finally broke down and bought a pair of goloshes! The very last 2 in the store! Luckily they were our sizes. I have a feeling we will be jumping in a lot of puddles now! Ha! Oh, and I should share all of my Mary Poppins moments. Clearly umbrellas do not like me out here. Everyone I touch gets flipped inside out by the wind as if it were going to lift me away! Only seems fitting, I feel like I’m in the middle of a movie with this week. Being whisked from set to set, studio to studio, going to awards shows…… Today we were on the set of Chuck, got the opportunity to watch them do a few takes and meet Zach Levi. How surreal is this?? I just don’t want anyone to pinch me and wake me up from this dream…….

The Pursuit of Excellence

January 21, 2010

This has been the theme of our trip – the pursuit of excellence. Drew came up with it and I feel it is rather fitting. Not just for this trip, as we meet with those who are best in the industry and study what they do and how they do it, but fitting for Drew as well. Monday was MLK day, alot of people were posting his quotes. There was one in particular that stuck out for me, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” That is Drew, that is this trip, that is UniquePublications – he took the first step when he couldn’t even see a single staircase out there!

And yesterday just seemed to capture this pursuit. John Shaffner gave us a tour of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. They recently moved into a new building, it was fabulous (to use Joe Stewart’s word!!) to see all of the accomplishments over the years. It’s one thing to sit on my couch and watch a show on the tv, but to see how it comes to life behind the scenes is truly magical. And I’ll be the first one to admit that I was wrong about how easy the life of an actor is. After seeing the run-thru’s and camera blocking for Two & a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, showed me it’s not easy. They work 15 hour days. I have a new found appreciation for the industry.

Then to top off the night we went to the Hall of Fame Awards Show for The Academy. My first awards show!!! I could barely breathe I was so excited!! Amy Poehler was the host, alum from Saturday Night Live. Lorne Michaels and a lot of the cast sat at the table next to us. They were so gracious and took a picture with Drew. I got so tickled, one second I am taking a sip of my drink and turn to talk to the lady sitting next to me. The next second I see this wheelchair go zooming out of the corner of my eye – he was off!! He drove right up to Molly Shannon and started talking! It was classic! Candice Bergen, Charles Lisanby, Don Pardo, Gene Roddenberry, Dick Smothers, Tom Smothers and Bob Stewart were all inducted into the Hall of Fame. Some of those names I know you recognize, some you may not. I will tell you that I did NOT recognize Candice Bergen when she walked up on stage!! Maybe the change in her hair????

Lisanby is three-time Primetime Emmy Award winning director and production designer. One was for a special on Barry Manilow. Lisanby talked about the first time he heard of this invention called a television and said “he knew this was the beginning of something very important.” The Academy said what Lisanby didn’t know then was the importance television would play in his career, or how significant his contributions would be to the world of television. Let that sentence sink in for a minute. Because one day you will hear those same words spoken about Drew Bates!

Don Pardo is a staff announcer for NBC, better known as the announcer for Saturday Night Live!! We all know that voice! The man is 92 years old and still working. That shows a true love and passion for your job. That shows excellence!

Gene Roddenberry is a television writer and producer. I’ll give you a big hint on his claim to fame – “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” For those of you who did not get the hint – Star Trek! In addition to his accomplishments with television, he was a decorated combat pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Continuing the excellence….

Everyone should know the Smothers Brothers. And for those that don’t recognize the name Bob Stewart, he is the genius that created many of the game shows you watched on tv growing up like The Price is Right and $10,000 Pyramid.

What made the night just perfect was sitting at the table with John Shaffner, Chairman and CEO of The Academy and Joe Stewart, Award winning set designer. John and Joe designed the set for Friends, I know we will all remember Monica’s apartment till the day we die!! That’s just one of the many lists of accomplishments they have. And seeing the permanent smile on Drew’s face as we watched the presentations and seeing the various talent that was in the room with us. Drew, this is just the start of your pursuit. I’m so glad I’m going on this journey with you!