Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wish Us Luck!

All day long I’ve been battling with the American Consulate in Mumbai trying to convince them to reconsider the visas of 8 artists we contracted to perform at the Bride early next month. The Bride is just one stop on a multi-city tour and although it will really bite if it doesn’t happen, the basis for the denial provided is what’s most offensive.

The ensemble, Sidi Goma, includes 12 men from Gujarat, India. Eleven of the 12 have previously performed in the United States before and they all returned to India without incident (visa verbiage). Now, they’re being denied access to the U.S. because they “seem uneducated” and they didn't speak English well. WTF??!!!! With the high school dropout rate in the U.S. topping 52%, citizens of the better watch out because there’s a generation of us who won’t be awarded visas if “appearing educated” is a prerequisite. The men in the ensemble don’t speak English and therefore, requiring them to respond in English is a problem.

So, the ensemble has submitted new visa applications and the date for their new interviews is May 5, which is too late for three of the stops on the tour. Our only hope is to get them emergency interviews early next week. All of the U.S. presenters have contacted their senators requesting intervention. An aide from Sen. Arlen Specter has been particularly responsive to my calls and Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office has also contacted the consult in Mumbai. No word yet, but wish us luck.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hooray for the Nice Girls!

Miss Olivia is turning double digits tomorrow. I can’t believe it and she can’t wait. As most mothers, I can remember every detail about the day she was born.

Yesterday we had a jewelry-making party with nine of her girlfriends. My mom taught the girls how to make beads using polymer clay. Each girl made a focal bead and used an assortment of filler beads to make bracelets. It was a gorgeous day and everyone seemed to have a great time.

My mom often teaches polymer clay workshops to school-aged children and she was really impressed with how well behaved and open everyone was to learning something new. It was my first time seeing my mom in action and she’s incredible. Managing a group of 10 nine and ten year olds isn’t easy but she kept them engaged in the process and everyone left the party with a great looking bracelet.

All of the girls, except one, Miss Jessica, go to school with Olivia. Jessica is our neighbor. Prior to the party, Loverman and I stressed to Olivia the importance of making Jessica feel welcome among all of her school friends. Olivia assured us she would and I have to say everyone was really warm and friendly with Jessica.

I was struck by how well everyone got along, how helpful and thoughtful the girls were with each other. It really got me to thinking about “mean girls.” Will any of the sweet young ladies who spent yesterday afternoon with us turn into a “mean girl?” You know what I mean… when will the competitiveness, pettiness, judgment and jealousy set in? Will the day come when they are no longer friendly and accommodating to each other? Is there any way to ensure sweetness I saw them exhibit towards each other? I sure hope so, but if not, what sparks the change?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wish I'd Thought of That!

The other day I caught an interview on NPR with Romi Lassally, author of the new book, True Mom Confessions--- Real Moms Get Real. I was immediately struck with a wicked pang of envy because it’s a no-brainer idea for a great book that will probably make loads of cash and I wish I’d come up with the idea.

Lassally gathered the material included in the book from essays/comments left on her website The site encourages mothers to talk about the highs and lows of raising kids. Lassally shared a hysterical antidote about being awakened one night by one of her kids who was suffering from an upset stomach and had vomited all over the carpet. Lassally tended to the sick child, and then made her way back to bed hoping the dog would eat the vomit before they family got up in the morning. I’m not proud to admit it, but I too can relate to hoping the family dog would slurp up a little intestinal issue by the time I got back downstairs after getting the feverish kid back to sleep.

The interview with Lassally also got me to thinking which of my stories I would have wanted included in her book. It probably would have been the one about the time I accidentally overmedicated Yannick with Benadryl because I was too tired to go find my glasses before filling the dosage cup. I mistakenly gave the boy two tablespoons instead of two teaspoons. I was too scared (and embarassed) to call Poison Control, so I put the boy in the bed with me and stayed up all night watching over him. When he awoke the next morning he was fine, and I was no longer just tired, I was exhausted, yet thankful the boy was ok.

I'm happy to report I have no other stories about almost killing my kids, but I have dozens of others that I’m sure other mommies or caregivers of young children can relate to--- we all do. I’ll probably pick up the book and even check out the website because there’s comfort in learning about other mothers’ foibles, but also in sharing those vulnerabilities and insights cloaked in anonymity of being online and not during a PTA meeting among folks you know and who know your children.

What story would you share?

Friday, April 10, 2009

What's Up With That?

I’ve really been enjoying HBO’s The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency starring my girl, “Jilly from Philly,” Jill Scott. I love everything about it, from the open/closing credits, to the casting, music score, costuming, hair and makeup. The series is depicting modern-day Botswana as a progressive, vibrant country and it’s rare to see an African nation reflected in such a positive light. I’m also a huge fan of the book series, written by Alexander McCall Smith and can attest that the T.V. adaptation is wedded pretty closely to the books.

After last Sunday’s episode, Loverman and I checked out the half-hour special detailing the making of The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and I must admit some of my enthusiasm for the show was dampened when the only brown faces working on the project were the actors. This special introduced viewers to the project’s producers, set and wardrobe designers, hair and make-up artists, and there was not one person of color in the bunch.

Yes, I’m ecstatic for Jill. I can’t say enough about the dynamite job she's doing as Precious Ramotswe and Anika Noni Rose is dead-on as her trusty assistant Grace Makutsi, and yes, it’s refreshing to be introduced to so many incredible African actors, but filmmaking is an incredibly collaborative process and it seems that this project is an ideal opportunity to hire a diverse crew. I mean damn, they couldn’t even find a Black hairstylist?

Sure, I understand when it’s time to crew-up, folks gravitate to those they know and trust to get the job done, but to create a more diverse work environment, people have to make a conscious effort to reach beyond their comfort zone and tap new talent. The recent FESPACO Film Festival in Burkina Faso showcased Africa’s robust film industry and I’m sure there are dozens of African film professionals who would have welcomed the opportunity to work on this high profile project.

Despite my disappointment, I’ll keep watching the series, supporting and loving the continued evolution of Miss Jill. I just hope that if the series gets another season, the plethora of color depicted on the screen will also be reflected behind the scenes.