Monday, February 28, 2011

And The Winner Is......

I’ve always loved the Academy Awards.
Probably more than I love the actual movies.
I usually skip the red carpet.
But I always enjoy the show.
That's when we see the actors look nothing like the roles we are praising them for.
Christian Bale has a bushy beard.
Geoffrey Rush has no hair. 
Natalie Portman is pregnant.  
Annette Bening is straight.
Who knew?
We TiVo’d the awards to turn the 3+ hour show into less than two.
I enjoyed watching the show through my kids’ eyes.
Like when Tom Hanks introduced Gone with the Wind.
“He was in that movie?,” my 12-year old son said.
“Wow, he is old.”
Then he noticed Hanks “sounds exactly like that train guy from Polar Express.”
That’s when his much older and much wiser 13-year old sister informed him.
“That’s because he IS that train guy from Polar Express."
Of all the films nominated, I saw four of them.

The Fighter.

When Melissa Leo won Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter, everyone in our house got a little something.
I was excited somebody won from one of the movies I saw.
My daughter thought it was cool how different she looked in real life.
And this one just might surprise you.
My son loved her f-bomb.
The speeches are always a highlight.
Do you think the cinematographer from Inception will love re-watching his moment in the spotlight?
The speech where he left his eye glasses resting on his forehead.
He may want to consult an editor.
Our bedroom was quiet when Kirk Douglas started talking.
For all of the wrong reasons.
I broke the silence, explaining to the kids what a stroke is.
I knew my kids had no idea who Kirk Douglas was.
But I was surprised they didn’t know Michael Douglas either.
My seven-year old daughter asked.
“Is he from The Blind Side?”
“No,” my son responded.  “That was Michael Oher.”
Of course, you can see how she could get confused.
Michael Douglas is a 5-foot-1, 66-years old actor.
Michael Oher is a 6-foot-4 (313 pound), 24-year old football player.
I was amused by my daughter’s confusion.
My son was offended.
Offended that a member of his immediate family didn’t know every member of the Baltimore Ravens offensive line. 
Aaron Sorkin thanked a guy with the same name as one of the owners in my fantasy basketball league.   
“Don't we know him?,” my son said.
Uh.... that would be a no.
I learned that my 13-year old daughter believes How to Train Your Dragon is “the best movie I've ever seen in my life."
Did you ever notice Russell Brand looks exactly like Weird Al Yankovic?   
Except Brand is married to Katy Perry.
And Weird Al is speed dating at a Denny's.
(Yes I know Weird Al has been married for 10 years, but I’m not one to pass at a joke.)
Humor is a funny thing.
Like when Oscars host James Franco made fun of Charlie Sheen.
I giggled.
But when he called the nominated animators “nerds”.
I thought, be careful Jimmy.
Don’t bite the workers that feed you.
I don’t think my 13-year old daughter had heard of the best foreign film.
But she quickly noticed the winner had “really bad pit stains”.
If you thought Christian Bale was hard to understand in The Fighter.
How about his real accent.
Did he forget his wife’s name?
When did Trent Reznor become a Hollywood fuddy-duddy.
Didn’t he used to be a rock star?
At 9:04pm, we informed the kids they had one more segment before it was bedtime.
That announcement came just moments before the Academy Award for Sound Mixing.

Which went to Inception.
Which was followed by the winner kissing her wife.
Yes, kissing HER wife.
F-Bombs, Girl on Girl.   
They really are trying to target a younger audience.
Unfortunately for the Oscars, they lost my younger audience at 9:17pm.
Bedtime for the kids.
But my wife and I watched the rest of the show.
The worst winning speech of the night.
The woman from Alice in Wonderland.
Reading off her index card.
Word for word.
Is that Johnny Depp or Elijah Wood in Alice?
Can you believe Randy Newman, the guy who wrote "short people have no reason to live" has 20 Oscar Nominations? 
He's now won twice.
What was a more unlikely pair at the Oscars?
Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosting.
Helena Bonham-Carter and Tim Burton partnering.
Or Chuck and Mandy Moore singing.
I loved the end when Chuck winked at her. 
Anne Hathaway had more costume changes than Lady Gaga.
Where did the other half of Jennifer Hudson go?  
Weight Watchers had the best commercial of the night.
And they didn’t even buy a 30-second spot.
I preferred Gwyneth Paltrow singing F.U. at the Grammy's.
But that girl can sure belt it.
My wife found out tonight that Leslie Nielsen died.
Three months ago.
Thanks to Celine Dion, this year we didn’t have to hear the crowd clap for their favorite dead people.
The late editors never get any love.
Hard to believe it has only been a year since Sandra Bullock thanked Jesse James.
Ironic one of the nominees she honored this year was named Jesse.
This whole time I didn’t know the difference between Colin Firth and Colin Farrell.
I'm guessing Farrell would’ve given a much better winning speech.
It's amazing how bad Oscar speeches can be without a script.
But we'll always come back for more.

At least I will.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mother's Nature

I don’t need an amusement park to go on a roller coaster ride.
I just need to call my mom.
That ride is enough to make anybody nauseous.
Especially her.
My mom has battled mental illness for most of her life.
And all of mine.
Throughout her 81+ years she’s seen more doctors than Grey’s Anatomy.
She’s been labeled more times than the clearance rack at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Chemical imbalance.
Several years ago she got a new title.
Bipolar Disorder.
According to
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that is characterized by extreme changes in mood, from mania to depression. It can lead to risky behavior, damaged relationships and careers, and even suicidal tendencies if it's not treated.
Thankfully the last part has never been an issue for us.
I mean, for her.
5.7 million adults in the United States are living with Bipolar Disorder.
If you call it “living”.
I wasn’t really made aware of her condition until I made it through college.
Sure, I knew she was a little off-center.
But I thought it was just mom being mom.
Well after two husbands tried.
And moved on.
And after my brother gave her everything he had.
My mom was left on my front doorstep.
She moved in with us a couple of years ago after she fell, while living on her own.
1000 miles away.
We tried our best to bring her into our home.
But it just didn’t work out.
For us.
Or for her.
Thankfully, I found a beautiful assisted living facility not too far from our home, which had an opening.
I stumbled and fumbled my way through the reams of Medicare paperwork.
But eventually we got the right signature on the right dotted line.
She’s been there for two plus years now.
They feed her.
They bathe her.
They pamper her.
They give her the medication she needs.
And best of all, they give her the attention she deserves.
But even with all of that, they haven’t found the magic potion to keep her moving forward.
Sure, there are stretches.
Long stretches.
Where she is doing well.
Living her life.
But like the four seasons, change is always coming.
The last few years she’s battled a lot more manic than depressive.
And in those manic episodes, it’s usually fine tuning her medication.
Sometimes at home.
Sometimes at the hospital.
But thankfully, we’ve made it through them all.

I mean, she's made it through them all.
Good or bad, right or wrong, I’ve become completely desensitized to the mania.
I have completely accepted the person I’m talking to is not my mom.
But rather some altered state inside her head.
I wish I was more sympathetic.
I really do.
I just can’t do it.
I’ve accepted that with the right adjustment in her meds my mom will return.
And she always does.
But I know that phone will ring again.
I just don’t know when.
Well it rang this morning.

And when I saw it was the assisted living facility, my heart stopped.
It took them  f i v e   a g o n i z i n g i n g l y   l o n g   s e c o n d s  to notify me that my mom was back in the hospital.
This morning one of the workers went into her room and found my mom shaking uncontrollably.
So they called the paramedics, who took her to a local hospital.
That’s where I spoke with her a couple of minutes ago.
She told me the doctors were not sure what the issue was, but that she hadn’t been sleeping “for a few weeks.”
She would stare at the ceiling throughout the night.
Get up in the morning.
Go to breakfast.  Eat half her plate.
Then go on with her day.
And then collapse into a short nap in the late afternoon.
All while battling a severe depression.
From what, who knows.
Not her.
Not me.
Not her.
I've spoken with her several times over the last few weeks.
And I could tell she was not her best.
But I had no idea how bad it had become.
I must admit my patience in dealing with her disease has worn me out.
Like husband 1.
And 2.
It breaks my heart to think that.

I’m ashamed to say that.

But it’s the truth.
I wish there was something I could do for her.
But I don’t know what it is.
And I don’t know that I have it in me to do it.
Maybe the best thing I could do.
Is what I did.
Deliver her to a fresh new group of caring people at her assisted living facility who want to help.
And thankfully help is what they have provided.
The conversation with my mom today really broke my heart.
I’m sure the guilt of not being there for her was part of it.
But this was not the same mom I’ve spoken to before from the hospital.
She had no explanation on why she hasn’t been sleeping.
Or why she is depressed.
She was plain confused by the entire situation.
But she was not delusional.
She was frustrated.
But not mad.
This was not some whacked out weirdo nut acting crazy.
This was my mom.
Speaking well.
Thinking well.
Acting well.
She was all there.
She just couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
And neither could I.